Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
October 14, 2005
Ralf slates 'knockout' plan
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.14) Ralf Schumacher has joined his brother in
doubting the wisdom of adopting yet another qualifying format for
Ralf, Toyota's German 30-year-old, reckons the proposed 'knockout'
idea seems even more complicated than the scrapped aggregate system.
''We got rid of that one,'' Schumacher said, ''because you had to add
up the two (lap) times. What do they want to do now? Get rid of people
after each 15 minutes or something.
''Then some can refuel, others not refuel, cars are weighed -- I don't
even know, I don't even understand how it goes!''
Ralf's seven time world champion brother, 36-year-old Michael, agrees
that there is no 'perfect solution' to the question of exciting
''Everyone has an opinion,'' he insisted, ''and not everyone will be
satisfied (with the ultimate format). I just have one thought --
whatever we choose, we should stick with it.
''We are very deeply into F1, but others are not. As soon as you
complicate things too much, people lose interest and will switch to
''I think they should think very carefully before changing (it)
Schu - '2005 world champ'
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.14) If you wander one particular Shanghai street
market this weekend, keep an eye out for this little gem -- a
counterfeit Michael Schumacher cap with the emblem: 'World Champion
Actually, after the German's worst F1 season since 1993, just third is
not really likely. But, as Ferrari boss Jean Todt confirms,
36-year-old Schumacher won't be bothered if he drops to fourth.
''For a seven times world champion,'' said the Frenchman, ''it's not
something of any importance.''
Schumacher has also left his crystal ball in Europe. Asked what China
might hold, he replied: ''It could be a bit better, could be a bit
He also, clearly, hasn't been conversing with Willi Weber too much of
late. This week, the famous Schumacher manager told the press that
Michael will probably retire after 2008.
''I don't know what he said,'' the German insisted. ''I've been
through this many times.
''Nothing has changed -- next year we talk.''
Intelligently, 2006 will probably be a better time to decide about his
future than now. Asked what was special about this year, Schumacher
said in China: ''Do I have to remember?
''That's not so important to me.''
Peter Sauber's goodbye bash
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.14) F1's 'who's who' turned out in Shanghai on
Thursday evening in a stark reminder of the respect commanded by
exiting team owner and boss Peter Sauber.
Bernie Ecclestone, Max Mosley, Ross Brawn, Flavio Briatore, Nick Fry,
Paul Stoddart, Jean Todt, Giancarlo Fisichella, Mario Theissen and
Norbert Haug were among the well wishers at the Swiss' gala dinner for
his last race.
Ferrari boss Jean Todt gave a speech, and Frank Williams only failed
to show up because he has not traveled to China.
McLaren's Ron Dennis was not present.
Even former world champion Michael Schumacher popped in. ''With a
little faith (Peter has) done a great job,'' said the German, who
raced Sauber sportscars in the early nineties.
F1 supremo Ecclestone called Sauber, 62, 'one of F1's most dedicated
and best loved characters.'
''Of course I'm sad,'' Peter said, ''and there are many people I will
miss. I feel moved that so many people have shared this evening with
Rubens aims to be Honda boost
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.14) For the last time, Rubens Barrichello - the
quickest race driver in first and foggy Chinese practice - is having
to face Michael Schumacher as his F1 teammate.
The chirpy Brazilian, after six years loyally opposite the focus of
Ferrari's attention, is moving on for 2006.
Will Schumacher miss him?
''I don't think that's the right word,'' the German said in Shanghai.
''I don't feel like he's going anywhere far away -- he is not leaving
''I'll probably still see him a lot in the future.''
Rubens is, though - reportedly after a run-in or two with Michael this
year - going to BAR-Honda. But 33-year-old Barrichello refused to
acknowledge that he's just going to face another similar situation at
a team this time built around lead driver Jenson Button.
''Well, they haven't won yet,'' he noted, ''so they need a plus and I
hope that is me.''
Popular Rubens says he'll be 'emotional' but 'not sad' when the
checkered flag on his career in scarlet finally ends.
''There are memories that I will keep forever,'' he smiled.
JV penalty too lenient
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.14) Juan Pablo Montoya says Jacques Villeneuve's 25
second penalty for punting him out of the Japanese grand prix at
Suzuka a week ago was too lenient.
Although Canadian Villeneuve angrily rejects the stewards' decision
against him, Montoya - the equally lively McLaren driver - reckons the
F1 stewards are 'so inconsistent'.
''In a way he got a penalty, but in a way he didn't,'' said the
30-year-old. ''He finished twelfth, so what does a 25 second penalty
''It's ridiculous that you penalize someone who is twelfth, so he is
thirteenth. Wow, 13th.''
Sauber's Villeneuve, 34, is interestingly also unhappy with the Suzuka
stewards' call. Straight talking JV says he 'always' accepts the blame
if he's done something wrong.
''I find it very, very disappointing,'' he said in China. ''I've seen
people put another guy on the grass in the middle of a straight and
there's no punishment for that.''
Webber's 'rep' takes a hit
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.14) Mark Webber admits that his reputation would be
higher had he not switched from Jaguar to Williams this season.
''My stock has suffered, for sure,'' the Australian said at the end of
a dismally second-rate year for the Grove team.
But the rough, gruff and straight-talking 28-year-old is not 'losing
any sleep' as he sees rivals like Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso
race away into the F1 distance.
Webber roasts the traditionally fickle business of maintaining a
reputation in the sport.
''If you win two races you're a legend but you're still the same
guy,'' he said. ''You've still got the same undies on.''
Mark hoped and thought that Sir Frank Williams' team could be a silver
bullet for his career. But he insists: ''I'm very sure I can win
''That's a long way off but I'm very confident I am capable of winning
Still, some have singled out former 2005 teammate Nick Heidfeld as the
more impressive of the pair this year.
''This game is so fickle,'' Mark says, clearly remembering the hype
that surrounded his switch to BMW power.
''People say Michael Schumacher is over -- what a load of rubbish.''
Teams' title 'not crucial'
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.14) World champion Fernando Alonso won't mind if Kimi
Raikkonen wins the Chinese grand prix, and McLaren steal the
constructors' crown from Renault.
The Spaniard says 2005 has been 'perfect' for him.
''If we win the constructors' it's okay, if not, it's okay too,''
24-year-old Alonso admitted.
''Really (it's) not a crucial point.''
Fernando, although he lifted the drivers' championship with two grands
prix to go, has had to face analysis' that conclude Kimi Raikkonen as
actually the quicker driver in the quickest car. Most pundits at least
give the 'iceman' Finn a 'moral victor' tag.
Raikkonen has already won more grands prix than anyone else this year,
but - still - Alonso is assertively sanguine.
''If everything stays like this,'' he said, ''I will have won only one
race less than the best car.
''But I'll still try everything to win, but not because Kimi has won
more. For me this is not so important.''
Williams to sell F1 cars
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.14) Over twenty Williams F1 cars will go under the
hammer in December, team bosses have confirmed.
At the Oxfordshire factory, cars and memorabilia from Williams'
28-year history will be sold after the collection grew 'relentlessly'
in past seasons.
Auction house Bonhams will handle the sale of Williams' 'Reserve
Collection', including Nigel Mansell cars from 1985 and 1992, Damon
Hill's title winning FW18 model, and more recent contenders driven by
Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Williams will also offer for sale memorabilia such as the damaged
suspension piece from Hill's Adelaide collision with Michael
Schumacher in 1994.
Red Bull and Franz Tost
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.14) A likely contender to lead Red Bull's rookie team
(Minardi) in 2006 has been named in the German press -- BMW man Franz
The 'track operations manager' for BMW, and a former Ralf Schumacher
representative, is the latest guy touted for the principal role, after
former F1 winner Gerhard Berger ruled himself out of contention
earlier this week.
Berger, an Austrian and close friend of Red Bull magnate Dietrich
Mateschitz, told Autosport that he doesn't 'want to be involved' in
the company's F1 activities because its 'big motivation is marketing'
rather than success.
Rules not to blame - Schu
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.14) Michael Schumacher says both Ferrari and tire
supplier Bridgestone should share the blame for his worst ever season
Interestingly, unlike other key players at Maranello including Jean
Todt and Luca di Montezemolo, the 36-year-old former champion doesn't
point the finger at the F1 rulebook.
''Even if we had been able to change the tires,'' German born
Schumacher insisted in China, ''we would have been too slow in
qualifying, and we have usually been not quick enough in the first 20
''I don't think this (single tire per race) rule would have made much
of a difference.''
Schumacher admits to some surprise that, together, Ferrari and
Bridgestone could not find a solution to the problems -- whether car,
engine or tire-(or all) related.
''If you had asked me (earlier) then I would have been confident about
finding an answer,'' Michael conceded. ''We have found some new
directions but they are taking some time to exploit.''
Schumacher admits that there were times in 2005 when being a grand
prix driver was 'not fun'.
But, on the other hand, Michael said he would gladly travel to a
twentieth grand prix next Sunday. The famously fit Ferrari driver
insists he is not tired at the end of the longest ever calendar.
''In the other direction,'' he admitted, ''I am quite glad it is
nearly finished, because at the moment I do not see any sort of quick
''If I had the prospect of some better results coming, just to fight
for the victory - not just to win, to fight - I would gladly race some
Bernie buys Swiss glacier
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.14) F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has reportedly paid
$3.8m for a glacier ski resort in Switzerland.
The 74-year-old billionaire - apparently with another investor or two
in tow - is now the proud owner of 'Glacier 3000', in Les Diablerets
near Gstaad, the Canadian 'Ski Press' magazine said.
The resort features state of the art air lifts and a 'stunning gourmet
mountain restaurant', the publication said, but 'ran into financial
difficulties' after a 1999 upgrade.
'Glacier 3000' is open for skiing from October to July each year.
Small crowd greets F1 action
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.14) A small crowd welcomed formula one back to China
a year after the sport debuted at the impressively vast Shanghai
A bit of fog and a few spots of rain lingered over the huge purpose
built formula one circuit on Friday morning, as the end of an era in
grand prix racing began to close.
Although the exit of V10 engines, and the departing Minardi, BAR,
Jordan and Sauber names have hogged the headlines, it's also the last
blast for 67-year-old Michelin competition director Pierre Dupasquier,
who is retiring.
On the French rubber, Giancarlo Fisichella's recent troubles persisted
in Shanghai when the Roman dumped his Renault into the gravel.
In the second practice session, Antonio Pizzonia ended up off the
track, while Jarno Trulli's troubles - in the 'b' spec Toyota - were
McLaren, as ever, looked like the team to beat.
''I suppose it's going to take some time for the Chinese to learn
about our sport and accept it,'' said Michael Schumacher, when asked
about the smaller crowd.
''I think what they really need is a Chinese driver.''
The latest paddock whisper, by the way, is that Minardi's new name for
2006 will be 'Toro Rosso' -- the exact Italian translation for Red
Rubens to try 3-seat Ferrari
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.14) Rubens Barrichello says he will share his last
blast in a scarlet F1 car with his family.
The Brazilian, to drive his last race for Ferrari in China on Sunday,
will travel to Fiorano (Italy) next week to try Ferrari's new 3-seater
''That's going to be the bye-bye to Ferrari,'' the 33-year-old said in
China. ''I've wanted to do it for so long -- show them what I mean by
Barrichello's grandfather, father, mother and sister will all get a
ride in the car - with Rubens at the wheel - which is based on the
F2002 single seater but with a passenger located on each sidepod.
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