Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
September 26,  2005

'Schumacher Who?'
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.26) A Renault mechanic wore a t-shirt with the words 'Schumacher Who?' on the back after Sunday's Brazilian grand prix.

Fernando Alonso may be the newest and youngest world champion, but the fight against McLaren for the constructors' crown is well and truly still alive. Indeed, Renault fell two points behind the silver marque at Interlagos, with just the Asian double header to go.

Alonso, the 24-year-old Spaniard, admitted that the silver cars were simply too quick in Sao Paulo. ''I thought our new package would allow us to fight them,'' he said, ''but I just couldn't keep up.''

Sunday night in the F1 paddock, though, belonged to the overwhelmed Fernando, who even got a visit and hug from the man he dethrones -- Michael.

''It is nice for me to see some of the old Benetton guys looking so happy,'' Ferrari's seven time title winner - who won his first two titles for the Enstone camp in the 90s - said.

Ralf, Toyota, slam Michelin
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.26) Toyota, all set to switch from the French rubber to Bridgestone next year, has lashed out at Michelin for damaging its fight with Ferrari in the constructors' world championship.

Cologne based principal Tsutomu Tomita reckons Ralf Schumacher would have been on for a much better race in Brazil had the tire supplier not fitted incorrect fronts in qualifying and, therefore, the race.

Schumacher, 30, wondered why his TF105 suddenly struck understeer on his Saturday flyer.

''We are very disappointed that this happened,'' said Tomita, ''but because of the strong racing and commercial relationship between Michelin and Toyota over many years we are confident that this situation will not arise again.''

What, exactly, was the problem? Sources in Interlagos report that Michelin somehow managed to fit an old set of non-Brazil spec front tires to Ralf's car. Prior to the race, the set may already have been used in testing for up to 20 laps.

''I am disappointed that Michelin would make such an error,'' Schumacher said, ''but unfortunately this has not been their first mistake.''

Kimi not too disappointed
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.26) McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen says he is not too disappointed to lose the 2005 world championship to Fernando Alonso.

''We knew that we were going to need a lot of good luck to beat him,'' the Finn said in Brazil, ''so it's not too bad -- it's never nice.

''He definitely deserves it. Anyone who has the most points at the end deserves it.''

Part of the 25-year-old's sullen face might have been the fact that he was out-and-out beaten by teammate Juan Pablo Montoya around the Interlagos circuit. No doubt, the 'iceman' had the sorest neck of the pair after 71-laps of the anti clockwise layout.

''If I could have done more,'' Kimi insisted, ''I would have. I was not quick enough to win.''

At least he can look forward to a proper on-track battle with world champion Alonso in Japan and China. Indeed, Fernando - the young Spaniard - admitted that there won't be any 'after you, mate' overtaking moments, like with Juan Pablo Montoya in Brazil, at Suzuka.

Explaining how JPM got past him so easily, Alonso said: ''Today was not a day to risk. In Suzuka it will be different.''

He also paid tribute to Raikkonen, the defeated runner-up. ''Thanks to him,'' said Fernando, ''because if I you haven't got Michael (Schumacher) to race against then I think he is maybe even better to beat.''

FIA stop safety car trick
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.26) The FIA has put a stop to 'Kimi-go-slow' tactics under safety car conditions in the pit lane.

At Spa Francorchamps, McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen crept at a snail's pace towards his 'box, holding up those behind him, so that he did not have to queue for service behind teammate Juan Pablo Montoya.

But the governing body now says any car driven at an 'unnecessarily slow' pace will be reported to the stewards.

''This will apply to cars being driven on the track, the pit entry and the pit lane,'' an FIA communiqué read.

Raikkonen, the 25-year-old Finn, ultimately won the Belgian race.

F1 team 'serious' about Dan
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.26) At least one formula one team is dead 'serious' about Dan Wheldon.

His is not a well known name in Europe, but the 27-year-old Englishman wrapped up the Indy Racing League title in New York overnight, and earlier in 2005 won the Indy 500.

Now, the Briton is apparently being courted by Sir Frank Williams, who has an affection for American-made stars after hauling Jacques Villeneuve, Alex Zanardi and Juan Pablo Montoya across the Atlantic.

Dan Wheldon, who is holding out against signing a new 2006 contract with Andretti-Green, said on Sunday: ''I've had probably fifteen approaches from different (F1) teams.''

So, too, have plenty of others. But Dan knows when a grand prix squad is being serious.

He explained: ''(It's) when they ask for your weight and height to see if you fit in their car! One team has done that.''

Change on way for 30-day pact
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.26) The voluntary thirty day in-season test limit is likely to be tinkered with for next year.

With Ferrari refusing to sign the 'gentleman's' pact and some rumbling about the restriction, Honda vice president Otmar Szafnauer admitted that the 2006 deal will probably 'be something different'.

He also denied that BAR-Honda is one of the teams most irked about having to watch Ferrari go round and round without limit. ''I don't think we are pushing to get out of (it),'' he told Autosport.

Some teams, including BAR, arguably found a loophole in the agreement by taking more than two cars - and a night-shift test team - to tracks to maximize any single test day.

Schu not sad at end of reign
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.26) At the end of a reign of more than 1800 days, former world champion Michael Schumacher insists that he is 'not sad' to pass on the F1 title torch.

Ferrari's German ambled down to the light blue Renault area on Sunday afternoon to congratulate Fernando Alonso, but also a mate from his Benetton days.

In 1994 and 1995, Schumacher won back to back titles for the Enstone based team, which was bought by Renault in 2000.

''I am still good friends with a mechanic from those days,'' Michael admitted, ''and today he is a chief mechanic (at Renault). They have had to wait ten years for this.''

Often accused of being an emotionless robot-like driver, Schumacher said he was neither sad nor nostalgic to take part in a championship celebration without being the centre of attention.

''I've always said that it will happen to us sooner or later. Instead of being sad I am excited about next year. We want to fight for the title again.''

On an even brighter side, the red cars looked a little more competitive around Interlagos. Schumacher happily reported that Ferrari seem to have made a 'step forward.

''I even beat a Renault,'' Michael grinned, ''so that is not a bad thing for us to have achieved. Now we have to make another step and then keep working throughout the winter.''

'Sir Frank to bounce back'
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.26) Williams' first ever world champion, Alan Jones, reckons his old Oxfordshire based formula one team is 'too good' to be down in the dumps for long.

The Australian, who is heading his country's entry in the new 'A1' category, told ITV that team boss Sir Frank Williams has had his back against the wall before and is capable of bouncing back.

After losing works BMW engines, Williams - whose Mark Webber and Antonio Pizzonia qualified fourteenth and fifteenth respectively in Brazil - will race with customer Cosworth V8s in 2006.

''I just don't think that a team like Williams stays in a problem for very long,'' Jones said.

''Their manpower and resources are just too good to stay in a problem. I'm sure they can climb out of it.''

'05 Heidfeld return unlikely
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.26) Nick Heidfeld, although reportedly fighting fit, is unlikely to return to the cockpit of a Williams in the Asian double header.

In a press document issued on Sunday in Brazil, the Grove based team confirmed that Mark Webber and Antonio Pizzonia - not the 28-year-old German who has signed to switch to BMW from 2006 - would test at Jerez this week.

Heidfeld had been expected to run at the Spanish session, the last of the 2005 season, ahead of a possible return in Japan or China. Moreover, with Nico Rosberg also left off the Jerez schedule, Pizzonia appears increasingly the favorite to retain Nick's drive.

However, it should be noted that the 20-year-old German - Rosberg - cannot test at Jerez because he is competing in the final GP2 race in Bahrain.

F1 slow-coaches slammed
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.26) Ron Dennis has lashed out at F1 slow coaches who may have cost Woking based McLaren a 2005 world championship or two.

With Kimi Raikkonen now unable to further challenge Fernando Alonso for the drivers' prize, the team principal pointed an angry finger at drivers like Tiago Monteiro and Antonio Pizzonia, who have both been involved in shunts with Juan Pablo Montoya while being lapped.

''Drivers who just don't get out of the way influence the outcome of world championships,'' the Briton slammed.

''I don't want to name those drivers who don't behave like grand prix drivers, (not) respecting people who are better drivers and in better cars.''

Dennis' Mercedes-Benz colleague Norbert Haug did, though, name a name -- Williams stand-in Pizzonia, who slipped on a puddle and took Montoya out of the Spa race.

The Brazilian was fined $8000, a penalty that does not fit the crime, according to Haug. ''He got it wrong, badly wrong and it may decide the outcome of the championship.

''It would not have happened if Nick was behind the wheel.''

Montoya and Jordan rookie Monteiro, meanwhile, argued in Friday's FIA press conference (Brazil) about who was to blame for their clash in Turkey.

''He's the backmarker, he should have backed off,'' said Montoya.

Tiago replied: ''I braked earlier but he had a flat spot or something.'' In the background, Juan mumbled 'no!'

''I braked 55 meters earlier,'' Monteiro continued. ''You were 45 meters earlier, by the way,'' Montoya chimed in, ''and he's done it before with (Jarno) Trulli.''

''Why don't we move on?'' Tiago said.

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