Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
October 11,  2005

Pat Symonds backs Fisichella
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.11) A Renault boss has defended Giancarlo Fisichella amid criticism of the Roman's last lap loss of the Japanese grand prix.

Engineering director Pat Symonds reckons the 32-year-old 'pushed all the way' to the checker, despite losing the lead to Kimi Raikkonen at turn one of the final of 53 laps.

Symonds admitted: ''It was difficult to see Giancarlo lose the lead, but he had been putting a lot of energy through his tires from the start.''

In contrast, Pat added, teammate Fernando Alonso and McLaren's Raikkonen were often able to look after their tires.

''Giancarlo never had that luxury,'' the Briton insisted.

Ron fumes at Flavio
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.11) F1's McLaren-Renault rivalry has spilled into the political sphere, with news that Ron Dennis is furious with opposite number Flavio Briatore.

In Brazil two weeks ago, all team bosses signed a document agreeing to stick with the one-lap qualifying format for 2006.

However, Renault principal Briatore has now withdrawn his signature, arguing that the Max Mosley-proposed 'knockout' system should be rushed through the F1 Commission.

''One individual says that his signature is no longer valid,'' McLaren's Dennis fumed to the Independent newspaper.

It is also reported, though, that Briatore is not alone in wanting to axe the current format. BAR's Nick Fry reckons he can see 'clear benefits' in the knockout plan.

Dennis' stance is in contrast to his earlier objection to the one-lap qualifying format. Aside from the fact that he has the fastest car on the F1 grid, he now believes the system has led to some 'great races' in recent times.

The Englishman commented: ''For the sake of satisfying those people who are fixated with Saturday, we should not change things which affect Sunday.''

China won't be F1 sellout
China's second ever grand prix will not be a sellout, a Shanghai circuit official has admitted.  There could be lots of empty seats

The impressive F1 track's general manager, Yu Zhifei, told a news conference in the city on Monday that a crowd numbering 'more than 100,000' should congregate for Sunday's race.

''(He said) turnout was expected to be lower than last year when organizers claimed to have sold all 150,000 tickets,'' Pakistan's Daily Times newspaper reported.

Last year, about 260,000 people took in the inaugural F1 Chinese Grand Prix over the three-day racing weekend, including a full house of 150,000 for the main race day.

The event is no longer a novelty, and this year it has to compete with several other large sporting events in the city, such as last month's track and field Shanghai Golden Grand Prix and next month's season-ending Tennis Masters Cup.

Lower ticket sales won't affect large hotels in the city, many of which are fully booked for the weekend, according to Zhou Qicheng, Shanghai Airline International Travel Agency. Zhou said many smaller hotels won't be able to raise their rates for race weekend, a practice that earned them a healthy profit last year.

Ferrari expect unhappy finale
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.11) It's unusual to hear an expletive pass the lips of Ferrari boss Jean Todt.

But 2005 has, after all, been anything but usual for a scarlet-clad camp that is more accustomed to collecting successive world championships than being on the unhappy end of overtaking moves.

''It's better to get all the shit in one year and start better for next year,'' the French boss said after Suzuka, yet another fruitless race.

Todt also professed to deriving precious little pleasure from Ferrari's now secured third place in the 2005 constructors' title chase.

''After six constructors' championships and five drivers' championships,'' he said, ''it makes little difference whether you're 3rd or 4th.''

Reporters at Suzuka were also astounded to hear the negativity in Michael Schumacher's voice, as he all but ruled out landing on the podium in the Chinese F1 finale.

The 36-year-old German said: ''We will not be making any (car) modifications before Japan and so I don't think things will go any differently.

''Our performance (in Japan) was nothing too special and we cannot hope to make a forward step.''

End of F1's V10 era
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.11) When the five lights extinguish on the Shanghai gantry this Sunday, the sound of twenty howling V10 engines will be heard in F1 for the very last time.

Renault's engine boss Denis Chevrier reckons the moment will be 'emotional' for many in F1.

He said: ''It will be the end of an era.'' For 2006, the FIA has imposed a V8 formula, in a bid to reduce top speeds.

Not only will every car feature around 200hp less next year, the familiar V10 roar will be gone. Chevrier agrees that the sound of the 2.4 liter V8 is 'very different'.

To mark the end of the era, Renault will unleash a special 'E'-spec V10 that only has to tackle the single Chinese grand prix. World champion Fernando Alonso thinks it might bring Renault 'a bit closer' to the McLaren pace.

Eeckelaert leaves Sauber
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.11) According to a whisper in F1 circles, Jacky Eeckelaert will switch from Sauber to Honda ahead of the 2006 season.

The vehicle engineering, test team and R&D chief will reportedly not stick around for the arrival of new Sauber owner BMW, but instead line up for Honda, which has similarly bought the entire BAR squad.

It is suggested, meanwhile, that Eeckelaert could be placed either at Honda's Brackley based works team, or - possibly as technical director - at the mysterious '11th' team.

The Belgian joined Sauber in 2000.

No Friday drive for Kubica
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.11) Poland's Robert Kubica will not drive the third Minardi car on Friday in Shanghai after failing to achieve a mandatory FIA 'super license'.

Instead, the newly crowned 'World Series by Renault' champion has been invited to stay in Europe this week to test a GP2 car for the Durango team.

20-year-old Kubica is officially scheduled to test the GP2 car at Paul Ricard (France) on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Newey tenth at Silverstone
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.11) Adrian Newey has proved that designing dominant formula one cars is not his only talent.

While his MP4-20 showed itself as the quickest grand prix challenger over at Suzuka, the Englishman raced a Ginetta sports car at Silverstone (UK).

While he had to sit out the first race after spinning in the warm-up, Newey started a Kimi Raikkonen-style quest through the grid in the second race to recover 21 (out of 33) places after two laps.

He finished tenth.

''I hope I get invited back next year to drive the car again,'' said Adrian, who regularly races his GT40 in class car races. ''I loved it!''

Alonso laments Minardi exit
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.11) World champion Fernando Alonso will lament the disappearance of the 'Minardi' name from formula one pitlane next year.

With Paul Stoddart's sale of the back-of-the-grid Faenza team to Red Bull, the Chinese grand prix on Sunday will mark Minardi's final of more than 300 grands prix since Gian Carlo Minardi founded the little Italian outfit in 1985.

24-year-old Alonso, now drivers' world champion in a Renault, debuted for Stoddart's Minardi as a teenager (2001).

''It's not the power of money that gives them their fighting spirit,'' said the Spaniard, ''it's the power of the people.

''Now, it is often all about business, but with them, everything was just about racing.''

Alonso's Renault teammate, Giancarlo Fisichella, also debuted for Minardi, back in 1996.

''We laughed all the time,'' the Roman recalled.

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