Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
September 29,  2005

Pizzonia racing on
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.29) Antonio Pizzonia will see out the 2005 season in a Williams cockpit, the Grove based formula one team confirmed on Wednesday.

The Brazilian, who first replaced BMW-bound Nick Heidfeld when the regular driver had concussion at Monza, is to retain the seat in Japan and China next month.

Also with Spa and Brazil under his belt, the 25-year-old 'Jungle Boy' will have raced five times in season '05.

Williams' statement, tellingly, made no mention at all of German 28-year-old Heidfeld, who - like works engine partner BMW - is switching to Sauber from next year.

It will only fuel speculation that the decision to keep him out of the car has more to do with inter-team politics than a supposed Swiss bicycle accident.

Sir Frank Williams said of test driver Pizzonia: ''On the strength of his races for the team thus far this season, we know he will serve us well in the next two grands prix.''

Nick 'not fit' to return
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.29) German driver Nick Heidfeld has stated that injuries sustained in a recent biking accident mean he will have to sit out the rest of the season.

Not referring directly to speculation that Williams-BMW politics perhaps had more to do with the decision to keep 'sub' Antonio Pizzonia at the wheel, 28-year-old 'Quick Nick' insisted that he is not fit to race the Williams in Asia.

''I have conducted some simulator tests,'' Heidfeld said, ''and it was determined that I am only able to withstand loads of fifty per cent.

''Unfortunately, because of this, I cannot race again this year.''

Meanwhile, in the Autosport magazine, Williams' technical director Sam Michael denied speculation that Heidfeld and the team had fallen out over his 2006 deal to drive for BMW.

''Our relationship has finished on good terms,'' said the Australian. ''We hold Nick in high regard and wish him all the best for the future.''

Nico admits F1 debut 'risky'
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.29) 20-year-old GP2 driver Nico Rosberg has admitted that he was in the running to replace Williams 'sub' Antonio Pizzonia for the final Asian leg of the 2005 world championship.

The German, son of Williams' Finland-born 1982 title winner Keke Rosberg, revealed that he tested the FW27 at Jerez this week in view of possibly debuting at Japan and China in injured regular Nick Heidfeld's current absence.

''There was a possibility,'' Nico - off to Bahrain for the GP2 decider - said, ''(but) in the end I think it was down to them wanting continuity.''

Rosberg also admitted that he hadn't even met any of the Grove based team's race squad. ''(Racing) would have been pretty risky for me because it would have been a big jump into cold water, for sure.

''There was a small chance that it would have gone alright, but a big chance that it would have been a disaster.

''So (not racing) was the wisest decision.''

'Breakaway' still on
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.29) Seven teams and five carmakers threatening to split from formula one in 2008 say they will carry on with 'breakaway' plans despite positive recent meetings with Max Mosley.

At their own meeting in Munich on Wednesday, the so-called 'GPMA' alliance entered into a 'binding' agreement with the teams to race only in a series that meets its 'fundamental principles'.

In a statement, the group said their 2008 series partner - iSe - had been told to 'advance negotiations with key partners' in anticipation of abandoning the Bernie Ecclestone/FIA umbrella after 2007.

''(The) group remains open and willing to discuss with the current commercial rights holder and the FIA on the future of Grand Prix motor racing beyond 2007,'' the statement explained, ''(but) the current uncertainty leaves them with no option other than to progress preparatory work for the New Series.''

The GPMA's new threat comes despite supposedly positive recent meetings with FIA president Max Mosley, suggesting that the main bone of contention is with Bernie Ecclestone and a commercial deal.

Last tests drive on
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.29) McLaren, Red Bull and Toyota joined Williams on track as the last session before the upcoming test ban continued at Jerez.

Local Spanish tester Pedro de la Rosa, who will return to the 'Friday' car in Shanghai, was quickest of the seven in his McLaren before the engine let go.

''The reason for this problem will be investigated,'' said a McLaren spokeswoman. ''Before the failure, the (Mercedes-Benz V10) engine had been tested extensively across the full power range.''

In the south of France, meanwhile, Ferrari's Marc Gene did another day of Bridgestone testing at Paul Ricard. Michael Schumacher will take over on Thursday and Friday.

Alonso at Enstone
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.29) Renault's Enstone (UK) factory rumbled to its foundation on Wednesday when drivers' world champion Fernando Alonso visited his team.

In the HQ's conference room, where bottles of champagne waited to be uncorked, hundreds of Renault workers roared into applause when Pat Symonds called the newly crowned young Spanish sensation - and team boss Flavio Briatore - onto the stage.

''What can I say?'' the 24-year-old started. ''I think the truth is that we have been the best this season. We will be going at full power in the next two races, and Fisico (Giancarlo Fisichella) and I are confident for the constructors'.''

Team principal Briatore, meanwhile, said that he had already traveled to Renault's engine base in Viry-Chattilon (France) following the title triumph of Brazil.

di Grassi to test Renault car
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.29) 21-year-old Lucas di Grassi will get his first taste of formula one power this week at Jerez.

At the southern Spanish circuit, the Brazilian - a member of Renault's driver development scheme - will steer a R25 alongside regular team test driver Franck Montagny.

Di Grassi, who lives not far from Renault's Enstone base, will get two days in the F1 car.

''(Franck and Lucas) will be choosing tires for the last races,'' a Renault statement revealed, ''and putting valuable testing mileage on further updates to both chassis and engine.''

Newly crowned drivers' world champion Fernando Alonso, it is clear, will not participate in the week's testing grind. The Spaniard intends to put his feet up in Oxford.

Beijing, Shanghai, unite
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.29) Beijing will tap into fellow city Shanghai's knowledge of running a big sports event - the grand prix - ahead of China's Olympic Games in 2008.

The new Shanghai formula one track, it was announced, has signed a partnership with the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee.

''With two such big sporting events,'' said the circuit's general manager Yu Zhifei, ''it would be easy to get lost in the battle for spectators.''

He added: ''However after much discussion we decided that the best way forward was an alliance.''

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge will help unveil the joint venture prior to the '05 ending Chinese GP next month.

Mansell renews F1 attack
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.29) 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell has renewed his attack on modern formula one by insisting that the new 'Grand Prix Masters' series might prove to be a superior spectacle.

The Englishman, among the 45-year-old-and-over field to race in the new single seater category later this year, said F1's format and accessibility for the public put the sport in danger of being outpaced.

''We have a proper qualifying session,'' the 52-year-old explained, ''which is great for the drivers and spectators.

''It won't be like (F1's) current one-lap qualifying format, which is rubbish if you ask me.''

Mansell will be joined on track by old rivals like Alain Prost, Emerson Fittipaldi, Ricardo Patrese, Alan Jones, Stefan Johansson, Andrea de Cesaris, Rene Arnoux, Jan Lammers and Christian Danner.

He reckons the single-seater car will be 'far better' than a F1 car of the 80s, meaning that Prost - who has done a fair bit of racing lately - is a more likely favorite to win.

The first race will be held at Kyalami in November.

''(Alain) Prost has been racing a lot recently and I haven't been in a car for a long time.

''But I was always the underdog in my F1 career.''

Mansell also hit out at how formula one has changed since he forged a 15-year career in the 80s and 90s, in which he won 31 grands prix and raced for teams like Ferrari and Williams.

He said: ''Everything has been sterilized ... now, the whole thing is controlled too much.''

Head hisses at BMW's Theissen
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.29) The F1 team he part-owns may have lost the works support of BMW, but Patrick Head wouldn't necessarily rather be in the shoes of Mario Theissen.

Head, Williams' former long-time technical director and now HQ-based director of engineering, said Theissen - the likely 2006 BMW-Sauber principal - might have bitten off more than he can easily chew.

The pair are not the best of friends, with some suggesting that their acerbic relationship led to Theissen wanting to go it alone in 2006.

Head told Reuters that Theissen apparently made some pretty bold 'promises' to BMW.

''As I understand it, he's told the board not only that he will arrange that the team is fully funded through sponsorship but also that they will win the championship in 2007.

''Well, good luck to you Mario,'' he said.

Patrick Head said he and Sir Frank Williams were reluctant to offer similar championship-promises to the BMW board.

2006 BMW driver Nick Heidfeld, who for most of this year steered a Williams, agrees with Head that next year - at least - will be hard going for the new works team.

''We will be looking for the bigger results to come in 2007 and particularly in 2008,'' the German told Autosport.

He added: ''It's not just a question of spending a huge amount of money. I'm pretty sure (BMW) will want to avoid that.''

Star lineup for RoC
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.29) An impressive line-up is already committed to compete in December's popular Race of Champions event in Paris (France).

62,000 flocked to the Stade de France last year, where GP2 driver Heikki Kovalainen and world rally star Sebastien Loeb both beat F1 champion Michael Schumacher in the unique head-to-head contest.

''Many other champions are expected to confirm their presence in the next few weeks,'' event organizer Fredrik Johnsson has announced.

Among those already committed are, again, Loeb and Kovalainen, Jean Alesi, rally driver Marcus Gronholm, Red Bull's David Coulthard and NASCAR title winner Jeff Gordon.

''At this year's Indianapolis grand prix,'' Kovalainen admitted, ''the Americans recognized me and congratulated me on beating Michael!

''This year, I am going to Paris to win again.''

Kanaan tests BAR at Jerez
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.29) Toothbrush and spare underwear aside, Tony Kanaan remembered to pack the most important thing ahead of his maiden formula one test for BAR at Jerez -- his mobile phone.

Stored on it is his IRL team chief Michael Andretti's phone number. ''If the BAR guys like me,'' the Brazilian IRL champion beamed at Jerez, ''I can always give his number to Gil (de Ferran) and Nick (Fry).''

On the day before his Thursday run, 30-year-old Kanaan tried the F1 cockpit for size and was told how to operate the complex steering wheel.

''This is a childhood dream come true,'' he grinned, ''and always something I wanted to do since I jumped in a go-kart. ''I said to Gil 'tell Rubens I got stuck in (the car)!.''

Countryman Rubens Barrichello, who will switch from Ferrari to BAR in 2006, is a close friend of Kanaan's.

The test is a Honda perk for Kanaan for winning the '04 IRL title.

Love letters for Alonso
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.29) Fernando Alonso, who doesn't even own a car, could not figure out why he was being sent love letters and fan mail.

The Spaniard, who lives in Oxford, did not just win the formula one drivers' championship -- but he does share a name with someone who did.

According to the British 'Sun' newspaper, the 27-year-old - who is a publisher - said: ''It's funny as a don't have a car.

''One girl said she loved me and asked me to ring her.''

BMW to get Cosworth beating?
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.29) Cosworth's customer V8 engine may be 'a long way' superior to the BMW 2.4 liter, Williams' Patrick Head has said.

The team's engineering director and co-owner told Reuters that he has seen the proposed specifications of both engines, because both offered to supply the Grove squad.

''The (Cosworth) is quite a lot higher than the spec of the (BMW),'' said Englishman Head.

The Briton fell out with motor sport director Mario Theissen in the same year that BMW decided to go it alone for 2006 and beyond by buying Peter Sauber's Swiss team.

While the Cosworth option, to cost Williams several million dollars next year, might be a handy little unit, the problem will be developing it.

Patrick answered 'no' when he rhetorically asked himself if Cosworth could keep up with the development might of - for example - Japanese marque Honda.

But he ruled out returning to the role of technical director after last year putting Australian youngster Sam Michael in charge. Since then, the team Head co-owns with Sir Frank Williams has struggled.

''From my early 20s to early to mid-50s I was used to doing seven days a week and 14-hour days and I don't have an interest in taking that approach,'' Patrick Head insisted.

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