Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
October 4,  2005

Advantage Bernie in F1 row
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.4) A Williams spokesman has confirmed reports that the formula one team did not sign a 'binding' document in Munich last week to commit itself to the 'breakaway' group.

The news strengthens speculation that Sir Frank Williams has been extended a multi-million dollar carrot by Bernie Ecclestone to sign his 2008-2012 Concorde Agreement.

But, as well as putting the Grove team in the Ferrari/Jordan/Red Bull camp, the likely addition of Williams and Red Bull-owned Minardi would serve a near-fatal blow to the carmakers' 'GPMA' alliance.

Williams' spokesman told The Times: ''It is correct to say that Williams is not yet a signatory to the agreement, but we do not consider it appropriate to discuss the reasons for this at the moment.

''We will continue to work for a resolution that is in the best interests of both formula one in general, and Williams too,'' the spokesman told the British newspaper, ''in a non-confrontational manner.''

Ecclestone reckons the rogue carmakers would be foolish to ditch the F1 brand and go it alone with all the 'risks and overheads' that go with running a premier racing category.

The 74-year-old F1 supremo mocked: ''If you sell something at Harrods, it doesn't mean you want to own the store.''

BAR postpone F1 speed bid
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.4) An inch of Utah rain signaled the red light for BAR's plans to set a formula one speed record on the Bonneville salt flats.

The Honda owned team was ready to unleash South Africa's Alan van der Merwe on the 7-mile course in America later this week, but local weather experts told BAR that the standing water would not evaporate for some time.

''The project team is on standby,'' a BAR statement explained, ''to return at the earliest opportunity once the Bonneville Salt Flats have dried.''

BAR sporting director Gil de Ferran confirmed that the record attempt would be rescheduled.

He added: ''(We) are determined to get back out to Utah again as soon as possible.''

New champ vows 'full power'
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.4) Newly crowned world champion Fernando Alonso will still be the same cool, calm and quiet Spaniard at the Japanese grand prix.

He may now be the youngest ever drivers' title winner, but Renault's 24-year-old has work to do -- a gripping battle for the constructors' trophy against team rival McLaren.

''When I get in the car,'' Fernando promised on Monday, ''I will be working at full power.

''I think we can win the (teams') title.''

As ever, the blue and yellow team enter the grand prix weekend outpaced by its silver adversary, but Renault are determined to further close the gap at Suzuka -- new suspension is the main change to the R25 for the race.

Technical director Bob Bell revealed: ''We are transferring things we find in the development of the (2006) R26 where possible. Of course, the main update to come is the E spec engine in China, which should be a good step.''

And, with one title in the bag and morale at an all time high, Bell confirmed that Renault will probably take more risks than usual in the battle against Ron Dennis' team.

''But we can't afford to forget any of our attention to detail, or compromise our reliability,'' he also insisted.

Flav aimed fire at Schu
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.4) Flavio Briatore has admitted that he engaged in a little psychological warfare against Michael Schumacher earlier in 2005.

The Renault boss chuckled when he was reminded of his 'old taxi driver' remark aimed at Schumacher, the beleaguered Ferrari ex-champion.

Briatore, 55, told the Guardian: ''In sport you aim for the opposition weakness. I have a lot of respect (for Michael) but I know his emotion.''

The Italian team principal reckons new drivers' title winner Fernando Alonso is 'much calmer' than the 36-year-old German. ''Forget what you see in public,'' Briatore continued. ''I know them both very well and I promise you Fernando has more ice in his blood than Michael, who is boiling with feeling.''

And 'Flav' denies that a demotivated Schumacher is Ferrari's biggest problem. He reckons the people at the Maranello factory are simply 'tired'.

''I think you need young people,'' Flavio Briatore explained, ''to give you new energy.''

Schu silent on Suzuka speed
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.4) Michael Schumacher is not sure that the new Bridgestone tires he tested at Paul Ricard last week will be enough to return Ferrari to its former F1 glory.

However, with the scarlet team's first title-less F1 season since 1998 now beyond redemption, the German driver agreed that another hard slog at Suzuka won't change too much.

''Our motivation for next year does not depend on the last two races,'' said the 36-year-old.

He told his website: ''Our next challenge is to fight for the 2006 world championship.''

Schumacher remained pretty understated about his hurriedly-prepared Paul Ricard appearance, but did reveal that the pace looked 'good'.

But he warned: ''It is often the case that you don't see the (benefits of the) developments until you actually try them at the race.

''It would be nice to come out of this trough by the end of the year, but you can't force things. We are off to Japan to try to do our best.''

Trulli to carry Olympic torch
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.4) F1's Jarno Trulli will carry the Olympic torch when it passes through his home town of Pescara (Italy) in January 2006.

Italian city Turin is set to host next year's Winter Games.

Pescara tourism councilor Moreno di Pietrantonio said the Toyota driver had been selected to light the overnight tripod in the city as he was the 'most representative person from Pescara at an international level', according to the ANSA agency.

The Turin 2006 torch will be lit in ancient Olympia next month.

Wet weather for Suzuka
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.4) After a typhoon threatened the Japanese grand prix a year ago, local weather forecasters agree that the Suzuka race could be set for another wet and wild weekend in 2005.

Although a little cloudy but dry at the moment, likely thunderstorms and showers are expected on all three F1 days.

The polite Japanese crowd's bittersweet favorite in the last few years has been Takuma Sato, who could be about to farewell formula one after feeling the BAR-Honda boot.

The 28-year-old Japanese driver told ITV: ''The situation has been very hard for me but that doesn't mean my relationship with the team has changed.''

Nicknamed 'Taku', Sato says he enjoys racing in front of his countrymen. ''Of course there is some extra pressure,'' he admitted, ''but the plus side is the extra excitement.''

Denny Hulme
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.4) During the famous 1000km Bathurst (Australia) touring car race in 1992, exactly 13 years ago to the day, Denny Hulme's BMW suddenly pulled off the track.

Inside, the 56-year-old New Zealander - and 1967 formula one world champion for Brabham - had died of a heart attack.

''He was honest and sincere,'' said track rival Sir Jackie Stewart, ''with star quality, but no star behavior -- simply Denny.''

Meanwhile, on the fourth of October some thirty five years ago, another world champion - the then 23-year-old Emerson Fittipaldi - won his first of fourteen career grands prix, at Watkins Glen (US).

'Minardi spirit' to drive on
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.4) Red Bull may finally show what the boys at Faenza are really capable of, formula one team founder Gian Carlo Minardi says.

The Italian, still a Minardi employee under the 2001-2005 ownership regime of Paul Stoddart, reckons he is not sad to see the baton passed to energy drink mogul and billionaire, Dietrich Mateschitz.

Asked if he would mourn the departure of the name 'Minardi' from pitlane, Gian Carlo told f1total.com: ''What is most important is that the staff will remain in place. With Red Bull, the world will finally see what we are made of.

''If the name changes, the Minardi spirit will stay the same.''

More than 15,000 supporters have now signed the 'forzaminardi.com' petition to keep the Minardi name alive beyond 2005. Gian Carlo Minardi, who says he is happy to see Red Bull in charge, reckons the team must 'accept the decisions' of Mateschitz.

Minardi, who hardly speaks a word of fluent English and never shared a particularly friendly relationship with 'boss' Paul Stoddart, continued: ''Everyone can see what Mr Mateschitz has done with Jaguar.

''At the moment, Minardi make do with an annual budget that a top team would squander in a month. I believe that Red Bull will make the necessary investment so that Minardi can show its true potential.''

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