Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
September 28, 2005
Vettel stars at last '05 test
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.28) The final in-season tests of 2005 kicked off on
Tuesday at Paul Ricard (France) and Jerez (Spain).
At the Bernie Ecclestone-owned Paul Ricard track in Le Castellet,
Ferrari's Marc Gene tested Bridgestone tires under cloud.
Lovely weather, however, beamed down on Jerez de la Frontera, located
on the southern coast of sunny Spain.
Although many teams will join the action this week, Williams tested
alone on Tuesday. In the absence of Antonio Pizzonia, Nico Rosberg -
now on the way to Bahrain for the GP2 finale - joined Mark Webber, but
the real star of the day was German teenager Sebastian Vettel.
Wearing a Red Bull-colored helmet, the 18-year-old got 25 laps - with
a best time about 3 seconds off the pace - as part of his BMW
''The brakes, g-forces and power are beyond description,'' the slight
F3 driver marveled.
Renault, McLaren, Toyota, BAR and Red Bull will now join the action.
'Take a hike, F1'
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.28) American animosity against F1 has still not
completely subsided, even though the six-car calamity of Indy happened
some three months ago.
Journalist Ben Smith of the Fort Wayne 'Journal Gazette' wrote a
headline that read 'Who cares?' in reference to news that Indianapolis
would honor its 2006 grand prix contract.
''Apparently (Speedway president) Joie Chitwood is a bigger man than
me,'' Smith marveled.
''I say (the circuit) should honor its contract by making a paper
airplane out of it and sailing it through that non-existent chicane in
''I think (US GP promoter) Tony George should grab Bernie Ecclestone
by the nape of the neck, give him the bum's rush out onto Georgetown
Road, and bring in an entity that actually gives a damn.
''At least then George could reasonably be certain he wouldn't get
hijacked by petty squabbling.
''(George) dropped an estimated $80m ... to meet F1's demands, and
what's he gotten for it?
''A joke and a farce.''
As well as the infamous 19 June farce, in 2002 Michael Schumacher
earned the US fans' ire by slowing down on the finish line to let
teammate Rubens Barrichello win.
And, referring to tire supplier Michelin's dispute with the FIA, Smith
continued: ''That they allowed their differences to ruin the (2005
race) speaks volumes about how much the sport is driven by
''I say take a hike, F1. I say if you don't want to be here, we don't
want you here.''
Minardi and Michelin
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.28) Although Williams and Toyota are off to
Bridgestone next year, tire rival Michelin could be set to find
another F1 partner in 2006 -- Minardi.
It is understood that the Faenza based squad's new owners, the Red
Bull energy drink company, want their 'rookie' team to wear the same
French brand as the senior Red Bull team next year.
Red Bull reportedly considers that having two F1 teams on different
tire brands would be a hindrance to transferring technology between
Minardi's 2006 car is also likely to be a modified version of the
current RB1, which was designed for Michelins.
''We are evaluating the situation, but no decision has been made
yet,'' Michelin's motor sport boss Pierre Dupasquier - who previously
argued that Michelin wanted fewer teams - told Autosport magazine's
Longer calendar for 2006
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.28) The extended 2006 formula one race calendar will
end in Brazil on 5 November, according to paddock whispers.
With teams and personnel wheezing near the end of an unprecedentedly
long 19-grand prix calendar, moves are afoot to at least add a week or
two to the schedule's duration.
A November 5 end would, at least, reduce the number of back to back
grands prix next year -- there had, allegedly, been some talk of an
'06 triple header.
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone actually wanted to add a race next year,
but has in fact failed so far to get teams to agree beyond the
Concorde Agreement maximum of 17 grands prix. Speculation says a
2005-like deal will ultimately be reached for 18 or 19.
''There is no dialogue at this stage,'' McLaren principal Ron Dennis
revealed in Brazil.
Williams to confirm Pizzonia
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.28) Williams will reportedly announce some time on
Wednesday that Antonio Pizzonia is to stay in injured regular Nick
Heidfeld's Grove-built cockpit for the remaining two grands prix of
the 2005 season.
According to F1 speculation, the 25-year-old Brazilian - and not young
hopeful Nico Rosberg or the allegedly recovered Heidfeld - will drive
the BMW-powered car as he did in Monza, Spa and Interlagos.
Japan and China will next month conclude the 2006 calendar.
Meanwhile, Pizzonia's teammate Mark Webber traveled from Brazil to
Scotland this week to give a talk at the Tynecastle High School, The
Scotsman newspaper reported.
The Australian then moved to Jerez (Spain), where he will complete the
team's 2005 in-season test program on Wednesday.
Indian to drive F1 in Mumbai
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.28) Narain Karthikeyan will drive his Jordan F1 car
through the streets of Mumbai later this year.
According to the 'Indian Television' publication, the country's first
grand prix star will complete the event courtesy of new sponsor
''(F1) is now a rage in India,'' said the clothing and textile brand's
boss Gautam Singhania, ''and it is a proud moment for all of us to see
an Indian make his mark.''
Renault want teams' crown too
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.28) Renault boss Flavio Briatore has denied that he
is not interested in winning the constructors' world championship.
After Fernando Alonso tied up his title in Brazil, the team's Italian
principal was reminded that he previously said the drivers' trophy was
the only one worth winning in F1.
''Renault, which is a big car manufacturer, is very interested in
it,'' Briatore begged to differ in the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.
Renault, with a slower car than its silver rival, finally had to cede
the lead in the 2005 constructors' chase to McLaren at Interlagos.
But Flavio said: ''We don't want to let the other title slip by.''
Renault's F1 president Patrick Faure agrees that winning both titles
in a single season would definitively prove that 'you are the best.
''Renault has won nearly everything -- Le Mans, World Rally, formula
one as an engine supplier; but we had not won as a 100 per cent
Renault car,'' said the Frenchman
'F1 title hasn't sunk in'
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.28) Fernando Alonso, world champion. For the youngest
ever formula one title winner, that moniker hasn't sunk in.
The 24-year-old is back in England after doing enough to steal the
crown in Brazil, but he admitted to finding it 'hard to believe' that
his childhood dream is now reality.
He said in a Renault interview: ''I can't really feel anything at the
moment but I think it will come slowly.
''This is the maximum in my life, but I have not had time to think
about it yet. I am sure it will happen in the next few days.''
After manager Flavio Briatore placed him as a 19-year-old at Minardi,
Fernando joined Renault as a test driver in 2002 and then raced a year
To celebrate his blossoming career, 50 thousand Spaniards partied in
his home town of Oviedo on Sunday night. ''And even in Madrid as
well,'' Alonso also explained.
''I have a missed a lot of things in life, made a lot of sacrifices
and worked very hard.''
If you believe England's 'Sun' newspaper, though, it will all be worth
it -- Alonso's $3m annual salary is reportedly due to skyrocket to
$17.7m, thanks to sponsor bonuses that kick in due to his drivers'
Champion Alonso to attack
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.28) Newly crowned world champion Fernando Alonso has
vowed to stop being conservative and charge flat out for victory in
the final grands prix of 2005.
The Spaniard admits to driving a little half-heartedly in the second
half of the current season to sensibly protect his big title lead.
But, with the drivers' crown now safely on his head, Renault's Alonso
reckons he is ready to take the fight to the quicker McLaren in Japan
''I will probably enjoy the races a little bit more,'' he also
Renault came to Brazil with an updated package, but 24-year-old
Fernando concedes that the full potential may not have been totally
demonstrated around Sao Paulo.
He admitted: ''We were very conservative in terms of engine revs and
things like that, because we really needed to win the championship.
''I think we can now risk a bit more, we can be more competitive.''
Whether adopting a less conservative strategy will actually result in
a different outcome, though, is arguable. Alonso says the gap to the
McLaren car is 'still big.
''But if you think about when (Juan Pablo) Montoya overtook me in the
race, I didn't take any risks -- it will be different now.
''I will be more aggressive with how I use the engine, the tires,
every part of the car.''
Ferrari's 'old' tires
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.28) With the scarlet package looking a little quicker
in Brazil, many wondered if Bridgestone had given Ferrari a new tire
Actually, exactly the opposite is true -- Michael Schumacher and
Rubens Barrichello seemed to take a step forward last week with the
Bridgestone tire used a year ago.
This week, Michael Schumacher will be at Paul Ricard to compare yet
another brand-new Bridgestone compound with the Suzuka-spec tire from
2004. It is possible that Ferrari, like at Interlagos, will drive the
Japanese grand prix with the same tire used last year.
Also at a post-race press briefing in Sao Paulo, Ferrari principal
Jean Todt was asked about incessant speculation linking the Maranello
based team with MotoGP championship Valentino Rossi.
''We admire him,'' the Frenchman said, ''but what he does is his
decision. If he is able to drive a formula one car quickly, if he
wants to come, then we will talk to him, just as we talk to other
Button rues tire problem
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.28) A third formula one team and driver has joined
the queue to lament a Michelin tire problem encountered at the recent
2005 Brazilian grand prix.
First, Ralf Schumacher said his Toyota had been fitted with incorrect
front tires, before Red Bull's David Coulthard revealed that his
race-spec in Sao Paulo appeared to have come from a bad batch.
Now, Jenson Button - of the BAR-Honda camp - says his set of
French-made rubber 'grained' badly during the race.
''It's a nightmare,'' he told Sky Sports, ''because you get no
confidence in the car, you can't carry your speed through any corners
because you're not sure what's going to happen.
''That didn't go away from the start to the finish.''
Tire graining is when a kind of ripple sets in on the tire surface,
resulting in a lack of grip and stability, and arms-full of oversteer,
because - effectively - the tire rubber starts moving around.
Button said: ''We took the hard tire as well, because of that issue,
and we thought it would be fine.''
Graining, while an issue for the tire suppliers, is also aggravated by
an F1 car's setup.
Hakkinen turns 37
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.28) 1998 and 1999 F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen is
celebrating his 37th birthday on Wednesday.
The Finn, who raced for the Lotus and McLaren grand prix teams between
1991 and 2001, today drives in the German touring car championship
Meanwhile, turning forty two today is French ex-F1 driver Erik Comas,
who contested 59 grands prix for Ligier and Larrousse in the early
Praise for Flavio
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.28) Patrick Faure says the current Renault team only
exists in formula one because of Flavio Briatore.
The Frenchman, who is the president of the F1 team, revealed that he
told the Renault board in 2000 that he only wanted to take over the
Benetton team if Briatore could be installed as principal.
''I think I did it right,'' Faure said in reference to Fernando
Alonso's drivers' title.
And, referring to the flamboyant Italian who is in charge, he added:
''Flavio is completely uncommon as a F1 head.
''He has a very special management system and ... is very good at
controlling things -- sometimes in special businesses like this one
you need special people.''
In Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, meanwhile, Flavio
Briatore - perhaps responding to Ron Dennis' claim that his McLaren
duo are both better than Alonso - said the Spaniard is 'cooler than
(Michael) Schumacher' and 'more mature' than Kimi Raikkonen.
''He's able to manage races better than Kimi. Speed-wise they are
equal. In qualifying ... Raikkonen has something more than Fernando,
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