Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
October 5,  2005

'Alonso worth $66m' - manager
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.5) If you believe the boasts of Flavio Briatore, new world champion Fernando Alonso could be about to overtake Michael Schumacher in another F1 department.

Briatore, Renault's 'Playboy' F1 boss, reckons the little Spaniard should become the highest paid driver in pitlane.

He told the 'Welt am Sonntag' newspaper that 24-year-old Alonso - who 'Flav' also manages - pumped up his market value by a staggering '1000 per cent' when he recently wrapped up the title.

Alonso, who is under contract to Renault for another year, earns about $6.6 million per season at the moment -- the same as teammate Giancarlo Fisichella.

When the newspaper interviewer recoiled in disbelief at the '1000 per cent' claim, Briatore added: ''Maybe even more.'' A 1000 per cent pay increase would see Alonso earn a cool $66 million in 2007, and 'Flav' would collect $6.6m through his ten per cent managerial deal.

The Schumacher brothers' infamous manager, however, cast doubt on his fellow manager's calculations. ''I think he is having trouble with his zeros,'' Willi Weber said.

''Perhaps Alonso could ask for a 100 per cent increase, but the rest is fantasy,'' he smiled.

Weber does, though, admit that just about every motor home's door will have now opened for F1's youngest champ. ''He can basically just choose where he wants to drive now,'' the German conceded.

McLaren could seal title
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.5) McLaren could seal the 2005 constructors' championship in Japan.

F1's quickest team leads the battle with Renault by two points, meaning that a successive one-two at Suzuka - albeit requiring a single blue car to finish just eighth - could wrap up the title.

McLaren, based at Woking, undoubtedly felt a little deflated in Brazil, where Renault's Fernando Alonso put the drivers' chase out of reach for Kimi Raikkonen. After all, Kimi has led 33 per cent of the laps this year, while Alonso led just 27 per cent.

To ensure that a second, albeit less prestigious, championship does not go begging, then, Ron Dennis' team will unveil some car modifications for this grand prix.

''I think we have the package to achieve a 1-2 in Japan and China,'' said Finland's Raikkonen.

Newey to race at Silverstone
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.5) Even if McLaren tie-up the 2005 constructors' championship at Suzuka, don't bother looking around in pitlane for the man who designed the MP4-20 racer.

Adrian Newey, the Woking based F1 team's highly lauded and paid technical director, will be at British grand prix venue Silverstone, where he has been invited to race a Ginetta sports car.

The shy and retiring Englishman, who has also done a fair bit of historic car racing in 2005, said it will be the first time he has gone wheel to wheel in a modern sports car.

''Over the years I have spent hours working with our drivers and looking at the data from Silverstone,'' Adrian Newey smiled, ''this will be a bit of role reversal!''

The Ginetta championship is a one-make series with 1.8L cars.

'Ferrari monopoly to blame'
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.5) Ferrari's monopoly on Bridgestone tire development is to blame for the scarlet collaboration's fall from grace this season, the Japanese tire supplier has admitted.

The tire marque's director of development, Hirohide Hamashima, explained that Bridgestone could not keep up with Michelin - with many top teams on the books - in the race to adapt to brand new rules.

Hamashima said evaluating a single tire obviously takes longer because it must now be tested over a full race distance.

''That is why it has taken us a long time to develop a new specification and that has delayed our progress,'' he added.

For 2005, the FIA decreed that - unlike in the past - cars must complete qualifying and the grand prix with a single set of formula one rubber.

''Last year,'' Japan's Hamashima continued, ''over 350km we could have tested three types of compound or specification.''

Bridgestone (and Ferrari), therefore, are breathing sighs of relief that Toyota and Williams will join the Japanese fold next year. Hamashima revealed that the pair 'want to cooperate' with Ferrari.

''So their technical directors will be involved in discussions and I would like to see a sharing of data from testing going on in our trucks,'' he continued. ''I believe our development speed will get much quicker because of this.''

Hamashima did, though, warn Williams and Toyota not to necessarily expect equal treatment in 2006. He insisted: ''We will not reduce the resources we put into Ferrari.''

Another son of a champ
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.5) Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, David Brabham, Christian Fittipaldi, Michael Andretti, Mathias Lauda, Nico Rosberg, Nelson Piquet Jr, Christian Jones.

These successful drivers all have something in common -- a formula one hero for a father.

Add another name to the list. Nicolas Prost, the son of four time drivers' world champion, stepped up to the World Series by Renault cockpit at Estoril last weekend.

Replacing a cash strapped DAMS driver, the younger Prost called the move from Formula Renault 2000 'really high'. He ultimately finished the races 22nd and 20th.

''We were really impressed by his lap times in race two,'' said DAMS boss Eric Boullier. ''1.3 seconds off the race leaders who have been driving this car since April. As a first experience it could not be better!''

Button is 'purple pole'
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.5) A former F1 world champion is at a loss to explain the tug-of-war phenomenon that is Jenson Button.

Australia's straight-talking 1980 champion, Alan Jones, said he was 'amazed' to see BAR and Williams fight - with blank checkbooks - over the services of the 25-year-old Briton.

''The bloke hasn't won a grand prix,'' Jones, 59, told ITV.

He said formula one teams often catch what he describes as 'the purple pole' syndrome.

Basically, the analogy is that if McLaren or Ferrari mounted a 20-foot purple pole at the front of their cars, every other team would follow suit.

Jones continued: ''They wouldn't know what the hell it does but they'd have it.'' And that, he reckons, explains the crazed scuffle to sign Button.

''Nobody really knows why he is the hot man,'' he said, ''but he is and everyone wants him.''

Minardi can stay - Mateschitz
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.5) F1 founder Gian Carlo Minardi could be retained by Red Bull after the drinks company takes over the team from Paul Stoddart on the first of November.

Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz said the Italian would 'always be welcome' at Faenza, according to the Italian Autosprint publication.

''I don't know (him),'' Mateschitz said, ''but he was the founder, the big father.

''We'll talk to him, we'll discuss it, but the doors for him are always open.''

Lucky Strike to stay in '06
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.5) British American Tobacco may have sold BAR to Honda, but their cigarette brand Lucky Strike will remain title sponsor in 2006.

The tobacco company, however, vowed to withdraw from formula one completely at the end of next year.

A statement explained that BAT voluntarily entered into an agreement in 2001 to withdraw from F1 in time for 2007 -- and urged fellow companies to also honor the vow.

''It will be sad to end our association with the sport,'' said BAT's marketing director Jimmi Rembiszewski, whose employer started the BAR team in 1998.

He added: ''We look forward to our last year of sponsorship.''

It is rumored that current Ferrari sponsor Vodafone is the frontrunner to replace Lucky Strike.

China get help for F1 dream
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.5) Five stalwarts of the motor sport world have united in a bid to help China develop a racing culture.

The populous nation may already have a grand prix and magnificent formula one venue at Shanghai, but it does not yet have the foundation on which to one day succeed with a home-grown driver or F1 team.

Asia Racing Technologies is made up of IRL, F3 and GP2 car maker Gian Paulo Dallara, former F1 aerodynamicist Jean-Claude Migeot, ex-Peugeot man Bruno Engelric and once Enzo Ferrari lawyer Luca Birindelli.

They plan to set up a 'young engineer training' course as well as R&D facilities within a new 'Motorsport Valley' to be located near the Shanghai track.

The group will also be involved in a Chinese race driver school and the establishment of a national, F3-style single seater series.

''It a great dream,'' said Dallara, ''to think that, in five or ten years time, we were the people who had the vision (to) help China towards their first formula one team or Le Mans 24 Hour car.''

Schu should race on - Lauda
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.5) Niki Lauda has defended Michael Schumacher against those who think the seven time world champion should hang up his helmet.

Germany's top man may have yielded the 2005 crown to young guns Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, but Lauda - the retired triple world champion - thinks Schumacher is as talented and motivated as ever.

''Ok, he had a bad season,'' Austrian Lauda, 56, told the Guardian newspaper, ''but everybody who knows anything about F1 knows this has been down to the performance of his equipment than anything else.''

Lauda reckons 36-year-old Schumacher, who has already confirmed that he will honor his 2006 contract next year, is still as passionate as before. ''And he's going to want to prove he can fight back from a losing situation.''

Niki knows better than most what it feels like to retire from formula one -- he did it twice! In 1979, Lauda says he got 'fed up' with driving, but then returned in 1982 because his 'desire had returned'.

''I finally retired for good at the end of 1985,'' he continued, ''by which time I was worried about hurting myself.

''The moment will come when Michael knows it is time to stop.''

Jose Froilan Gonzalez
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.5) Eighty three years ago to the day, Jose Froilan Gonzalez - who would go on to win two grands prix in the 50s - was born in Argentina.

Also a Le Mans winner, Froilan would not have fitted in one of today's formula one cars -- some of his rivals jokingly nicknamed him 'El Cabazon', which means 'Fat Head'.

Also celebrating a birthday on 5 October is Michael Andretti, who will blow out 43 candles. The son of world champion Mario, Michael's brief grand prix career - as McLaren's 1993 teammate to Ayrton Senna - was unsuccessful.

Today, the American owns and runs an IRL team.

DC set for lasting F1 role
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.5) David Coulthard will stay at Red Bull even after he has called it a day as a formula one driver.

That's the revelation of Austrian billionaire, energy drink magnate and grand prix team owner Dietrich Mateschitz.

He told Italian magazine Autosprint that 34-year-old Coulthard's presence in the formula one paddock 'is ideal for us'.

''He's aware of when the right time will come to retire, but he'll stay involved ... even after he stops as a driver,'' said Dieter.

Mateschitz reckons Scotland-born DC is a 'new man' after years of service at McLaren-Mercedes. Gone is the clean-cut, corporate-spoken Coulthard, and in his place the stubble-bearded, plain-talking, often controversial racer.

The team owner recalls when David was told to stop shaving and being so diplomatic to the press: ''Used as he was to Mercedes, he thought we were taking the piss.''

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