Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
October 9,  2005

Theissen slams Head claims
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.9) Mario Theissen has rubbished claims that he promised BMW's board that its new works team would win the 2007 championship and will soon be fully funded by sponsors.

The German, likely to become the next F1 principal in pitlane, thus reopened a war of words with former Williams colleague Patrick Head, who had let the news slip in Brazil.

''Patrick apparently speaks regularly to the individual board members of BMW,'' Theissen angrily told Reuters.

''No ... it's bullshit. Be sure I didn't promise anything that would be out of reach.''

Theissen said both he and the BMW board know that building Hinwil based Sauber into a F1 force would take 'several' years.

''We know it takes a long breath,'' he added, ''and we are prepared to go the distance.''

More detail of Max's plan
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.9) The detail of Max Mosley's proposed new rules for next year has emerged in the press.

Changes to the weekend format, qualifying system, tire changes, pit stops, spare and 'Friday' cars were distributed to team bosses by email on the Saturday at Suzuka.

The FIA wants to ditch one of the Saturday practice sessions, ahead of the much vaunted 'knockout' qualifying format. Low fuel may be run for the first 40 minutes of the session.

''I'm fairly certain the qualifying will go through with reasonable ease,'' said an unnamed team principal at Suzuka.

Tire changes will possibly return in 2006, but spare cars and 'Friday' third cars will be banned, the email revealed. It also proposed that the number of mechanics allowed during a pitstop be limited to 14.

Predictably, the loudest opponent to the plan to re-allow tire changing is Ron Dennis, whose 2005 McLaren car is the class of the field and able to make soft rubber last.

No Webber rift, says Frank
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.9) Sir Frank Williams has played down rumors of a growing rift between his Grove based team and lead driver Mark Webber.

The F1 principal, who had a little mid-flight technical trouble on his private jet en-route to Japan, confirmed that the Aussie driver is staying put for the 2006 season.

''I suppose some of his race results have been disappointing,'' Frank admitted, ''but his qualifying has been absolutely outstanding -- I don't think there is a change to his attitude.''

Meanwhile, although Antonio Pizzonia presently resides the sister car, probably the man-of-the-moment in Williams' mind is 20-year-old Nico Rosberg, whose father won the title for Frank in 1982.

The team boss admits he considered putting baby-faced Nico in the FW28 car for Suzuka.

''In the end, we thought it was not fair,'' Williams admitted. ''It could harm his career, put it back a year.''

Asked if the German-born GP2 champion might be given a shot in a Cosworth-powered racer next season, England's Frank smiled that famous smile and winked: ''It's possible.''

Frank Williams' signature
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.9) McLaren's Ron Dennis has played down the significance of team rival Williams' reluctance to sign up to the carmakers' breakaway ('GPMA') plans.

Although present at a recent meeting in Munich, the Grove based team reportedly neglected to sign a document binding the parties together for the future.

''It did not need to be endorsed by the teams present,'' Dennis insisted. ''Williams did not sign it but we did not sign it either.''

While that may be true, the significance of Williams' hesitance in siding with the carmakers is that it is the only remaining independent team not committed to one side of the fence or the other.

So while Ron probably didn't sign on McLaren's behalf, team co-owner Mercedes-Benz is well and truly committed to GPMA.

Similarly, the Renault, Sauber (through BMW), BAR-Honda and Toyota teams didn't need to sign because they are natural allies of the carmaker cause, and Minardi won't have signed because ownership will change hands to Bernie Ecclestone-supporter Red Bull on 1 November.

Schu to retire in a red car
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.9) Michael Schumacher will race out his formula one career in a red car, manager Willi Weber insists.

Rejecting all the talk about a possible McLaren switch, the German said his 36-year-old compatriot 'accepts the challenge' of trying to return Ferrari to the world title.

Weber, at the Lausitzring to oversee the second 'A1' race for his German team, also denied that Schumacher - perhaps demoralized after a miserable '05 - might be motivated to quit at the end of the year.

''Actually, it's the opposite,'' Weber insisted. ''Michael is determined and motivated to turn it all around.

''This is just a new challenge for him.''

Willi Weber says some of the criticism of his seven time world championship-winning charge is not justified. ''Reading some articles,'' he admitted, ''you would think Michael has forgotten how to drive.''

Still, the red racer might not want to continue beyond the end of his 2006 contract. Weber says Schumacher 'does not know yet' whether he will sign a new deal for the Scuderia.

And he adds: ''We would not seek a pay rise -- we are ready to sign with the same terms.''

Montoya slams quali format
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.9) Juan Pablo Montoya has slammed F1's single lap qualifying format as 'terrible' and 'unfair'.

The Colombian, who won the recent Brazilian grand prix in his McLaren and subsequently got stuck in the rain on Saturday at Suzuka, smashed out of the race when he fought at the rear of the grid.

''It's why this qualifying system is terrible,'' the 30-year-old said. ''It's been so unfair.

''When you're fighting (with Renault) for a constructors' championship it's not ideal to have a qualifying like that.''

Former world champion Michael Schumacher, though, is less scathing of the current system. Ferrari's German, also disadvantaged by the Japanese weather, says 'sometimes it works for you, sometimes against'.

''This time it was not good news for us but I don't think we should say it's all the rules.''

30-year-old Montoya, meanwhile, blamed Jacques Villeneuve for pushing him out of the Japanese grand prix.

''I went left, he blocked me, I went right, he went onto my line,'' Juan said. ''It's pretty sad.''

Mercedes boss says sorry
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.9) Norbert Haug reckons 'bad luck' has little to do with Mercedes' poor engine reliability in 2005.

After yet another failure in practice, and ten-grid demotion, for McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen at Suzuka, the silver carmaker's competition director apologized to the team.

''We are just not good enough,'' Haug said.

''Nobody has changed engines as much as us, (so) we have to say sorry to the guys. Nobody is leaning back and thinking we are almost there.''

McLaren tester Pedro de la Rosa also weighed in on the issue, agreeing that team mistakes - not bad luck - put Raikkonen out of the title race.

''Unfortunately most of the failures have been due to mistakes in quality control,'' the Spaniard told 'AS'.

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