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Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
October 8,  2005


'Kimi 'lucky' - champion
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.8) Newly crowned world champion Fernando Alonso reckons title challenger Kimi Raikkonen was 'lucky' to keep his 2005 hopes alive for as long as he did.

Given the hapless Raikkonen's fourth ten-grid demotion of the year after n engine failure at Suzuka, the Spaniard's comments seem - at first - cheeky.

But, refusing to wear the 'lucky' badge easily, Renault's 24-year-old Alonso points out that many of Raikkonen's failures have occurred in practice -- not, resulting in the total loss of points, in the grands prix.

''I know it sounds strange,'' Fernando acknowledged, ''but if they had happened on Sunday he would have 30 or 40 points less.''

Meanwhile, it's almost hard to believe that comments attributed to Raikkonen in McLaren's Friday practice report actually came from the disenchanted 'iceman' Finn's mouth.

''I'm a bit disappointed,'' a selection of the understated team press release read, ''however we managed to get some running in second practice.''








Grove to name Webber teammate soon
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.8) F1's Grove based team will name its 2006 driver line-up pretty soon, team principal Sir Frank Williams said in Japan.

The team's eponymous co-owner confirmed at the Suzuka circuit that Mark Webber would steer the lead Cosworth-powered FW28, with Nico Rosberg and Antonio Pizzonia both under contract and in the running for the other seat.

Williams said: ''We will confirm our full driver line-up in the not too distant future.''

Oxfordshire based Williams have a vacancy after Nick Heidfeld vowed to leave with BMW and Jenson Button bought his way out of a solid '06 deal.

Meanwhile, Toyota principal Tsutomu Tomita remained quiet in Suzuka amid speculation that Williams would replace its Cosworth V8 deal in 2007 with a semi-works Toyota arrangement.

''It has been rumored,'' he said, ''but I don't know the detail.''








Slippery at Suzuka
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.8) After a season of poor qualifying form, Ralf Schumacher ironically emerged the hero of an eventful rain-affected Saturday at the Suzuka circuit.

The Toyota driver, at the Japanese marque's home track, pipped BAR's Jenson Button to take pole position, as top players like Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya found themselves swamped in a much heavier shower.

Michael Schumacher kicked off the day with some decent practice speed but ultimately lost a wheel and shattered his Ferrari's suspension after a shunt in the early Esses.

Bridgestone has a clear upper-hand over Michelin on a slippery Suzuka track, and Jordan's Narain Karthikeyan proved the hero of the Japanese-clad fleet with a second-best lap in a practice session and then a tasty eleventh on the grand prix grid.

''I hope it's wet for the race,'' the Indian excitedly exclaimed. ''I've been hoping for rain all week and I love this circuit so it's going ok.''







Pedro slams F1's V8 switch
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.8) Pedro de la Rosa has slammed formula one's rule-makers for ridding the sport of its V10 horse power.

The Spanish test driver is one of just a handful to have sampled 2006's 2.4 liter V8 power, and - recalling a recent run in the McLaren-Mercedes - he calls the new regulations 'very disappointing.'

F1 will lose about 200hp per engine over the winter period.

''This is very obvious to the driver,'' de la Rosa told the 'Marca' newspaper, ''but the worst part is that they have not changed the aerodynamics rules as well. We have far too much grip for the power now.''

Amid calls to inspire more overtaking in F1, 34-year-old Pedro reckons the 2006 rules will actually making passing harder.

He explained: ''We will arrive at the corner 20kph slower, with the same grip and the same brakes, so the braking distance will be shorter.

''Physically, driving is also easier.''








Firman fancies F1 fortune
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.8) Ralph Firman wants another go at F1.

The 30-year-old Anglo-Irishman, at the Lausitzring this weekend for the second 'A1' race, reckons he wasn't given a fair go at the wheel of his uncompetitive Jordan in 2003.

''I certainly don't think I got a fair crack of the whip in formula one,'' he told the 'Mirror' newspaper.

''It was very disappointing but I never lost faith in my ability.''

Firman, 30, was second quickest in practice for his first A1 appearance for Team Ireland in Germany. France's Nicolas Lapierre set the pace.

Meanwhile, a 'senior insider' at the Jordan team has told the Guardian newspaper that current F1 duo Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro could retain their seats -- if the price is right.

''(They) know the tariff and what we'd expect them to bring,'' the insider told the newspaper.

''We make no bones about our position.''








F2006 to get early debut
(GMMf1NET - Oct.8) Ferrari has confirmed reports that next year's car will be launched and tested earlier than usual.

Technical director Ross Brawn, near the end of a dire season for the Maranello based team, told reporters at Suzuka that F2006 would hit the Fiorano circuit 'during January'.

Ferrari's 2006-spec V8 engine is already running in a hybrid car, the British chief added.

Brawn was also moved to downplay speculation that Michael Schumacher is set to cancel his winter vacation to help develop the new red racer.

''It's possible,'' Ross acknowledged, ''but it's not necessary to use Michael for reliability running. Michael generally has a month or six weeks away to recharge his batteries.''








Suzuka fans 'crazy' - JB
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.8) The F1 fans at Suzuka are a little 'crazy', according to one object of their affection, BAR-Honda driver Jenson Button.

''They are great here,'' said the 25-year-old Englishman, who recalled being mobbed by a flock of Japanese in 2000 who tore his hire car to pieces.

He added: ''They get very excited and shaky when they talk to you -- they're crazy, good crazy.

''And they're always giving gifts.''

Among JB's fan-funded prizes this year are T-shirts, a lucky charm bracelet - even a video game console - but it'll all be given away as Jenson can't fit it in his suitcase.

''The Italians are more emotional,'' Jenson continued, ''but here they're crazy, they love it.''

Without a doubt, though, the man the Suzuka hordes love most is Takuma Sato, who earns a mammoth $14m-extra per year on the back of Japanese advertising contracts.

Honda's Yasuhiro Wada admitted that the early announcement about a mysterious b-team had at least something to do with Sato's popularity, and the fans' backlash against his sacking.

''We received a lot of email letters,'' he confirmed, ''so we realized how people expect Honda to do something exciting.''








'F1 should scrap points system'
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.8) Under F1's previous points system, Kimi Raikkonen would still be in the hunt for the 2005 title.

'Daily Telegraph' journalist Peter Dron has compiled an article arguing that the FIA shook-up the system after the 2002 season in an incorrect 'knee jerk' reaction to Michael Schumacher's dominance.

Instead of better rewarding victory with a 4-point advantage over second place, today's system means winning the race is only two points healthier than being the runner up.

As a result, with McLaren's Raikkonen scoring six wins - as did Fernando Alonso - the championship would still be open.

Under the pre-'03 rules, the Finn would have scored 81 points so far to Alonso's 101, meaning that two wins at Japan and China could mathematically see the drivers' championship in his hands.

''The FIA is apparently planning to abandon its ill-conceived (single tire per race) tire regulations,'' Dron wrote. ''Perhaps now would be a suitable time to rethink the points strategy as well.''

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