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