Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
October 20,  2005

'Schu keep going' - Bernie
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.20) Bernie Ecclestone hopes beleaguered world champion Michael Schumacher keeps peddling in formula one 'for a long time'.

The 74-year-old F1 supremo, who knows well that arguably the sport's biggest draw might drive away from the grid at the end of next season, reckons the German 'made Ferrari what it is today.'

Bernie told Sport Bild: ''Ferrari will produce a car capable of winning next year -- I hope Schumacher keeps fighting for victory for a long time.''

36-year-old Schumacher's only win in 2005 - out of 84 in his career - was the farcical United States grand prix in June.

Ecclestone, meanwhile, is also glad that youngster Fernando Alonso was the one who finally overthrew the past champion. ''You couldn't get a better champion,'' the little Briton grinned.

''Super. He's like Alain (Prost) -- he drives with his head and does only what is necessary to reach his goal.''

Renault to avoid rivals' errors
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.20) 'Arrogant' Ferrari took its former F1 dominance for granted, and McLaren underestimated the new champion.

Those are the bold claims of Renault technical director Bob Bell, who thinks the French marque can avoid its rivals' mistakes to emerge with a worthy 2006 title defense.

''Absolutely, we can repeat our success,'' said the Briton. ''We have no intention of making the same errors some others have made.''

He continued: ''There is no arrogance about our position, and we never take anything for granted -- I think that happened to Ferrari at the start of this season, while McLaren clearly underestimated us at the end.''

Away from the track, too, Renault intend to exploit the benefit of being the world's first non-sports car manufacturer to conquer formula one.

''Now we need to move to the next stage,'' F1 president Patrick Faure urged, ''initially in our communication but then at the tens and thousands of Renault points of sale around the globe.''

'Coke' denies F1 talks
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.20) Beverage giant Coca-Cola has denied that it is contemplating a grand prix attack.

In response to reports that 'Coke' could become either a team title sponsor or even buy the championship's naming rights, director of communications Philipp Bodzenta told German publications that there are 'no discussions at present' about F1.

He denied that talks about F1 sponsorship, 'in whatever form', have occurred either with teams or Bernie Ecclestone.

''That is not to say that we can never hold a conversation (about F1) in the future,'' Bodzenta added.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, similarly, fired a blank when asked about Coca-Cola. ''We are in constant negotiations with many enterprises,'' he said.

Bridgestone 'image' blasted
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.20) Bridgestone's bleak 2005 season in formula one will hit the Japanese tire supplier where it hurts -- sales.

That's the belief of tire rival Michelin's retiring F1 boss Pierre Dupasquier, who reckons the losses with Ferrari will ultimately damage 'credibility' and 'image'.

''Whether you're a success or you screw up at this level,'' the Frenchman, 67, told the British 'Guardian' newspaper, ''it will mean something to the driver of any type of car.''

Predictably, Bridgestone UK's Taka Horio denied the charge, claiming that business in Europe is 'increasing' rather than starting to hit the dirt.

''At the moment our tire performance is not as good as we expected,'' the Japanese admitted, ''but because of the positive elements of formula one, our brand awareness is still expanding.''

Head of Bridgestone tire development Hirohide Hamashima, at least, does see a link between poor results and poor image. But he insisted to Gazzetta dello Sport that the marque 'is not inferior' to French champion Michelin.

''We take some blame for what happened,'' he continued, ''but Ferrari's overall package wasn't so competitive.

''I don't want to blame the car (but) it's certainly been difficult to find the right balance.''

Hamashima also denied that Bridgestone lobbied the FIA to re-allow tire changing in 2006. ''We didn't ask anything like this,'' he insisted, although admitting that it would be a better regulation for 'spectacle' and 'safety'.

Massa set for Ferrari test
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.20) Brazil's Felipe Massa will complete a rapid transformation from Sauber to Ferrari driver by testing for the scarlet clad team next week.

The 24-year-old Paulista, replacing Rubens Barrichello who is still under contract but not to test again in 2005, is reportedly to drive a F2005 from Wednesday next week at the Vallelunga circuit.

'I'll try everything to make sure I'm fighting at the front from the very first race,'' said Massa, who debuted for Sauber in 2002 and tested for Ferrari a year later.

''When you go to a new team, you naturally need some time to get used to the car and the people, but I'm confident I can be up there straight away.''

Meanwhile, at the Mugello track in Italy, Barrichello - driving a red single seater for the last time - and Michael Schumacher will be showing off a pair of F2005s this weekend at the traditional 'Ferrari world finals' event.

Also on track will be a 1975 ex-Niki Lauda 312T, a 1991 Alain Prost F1-91, and Schumacher's 'F2001' single seater.

Red Bull pull another plug
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.20) Now with a second formula one team, energy drink Red Bull - after similarly ending the search for a US-born F1 driver - has also pulled the plug on former F1 driver Eddie Cheever's Indy Racing League team.

The 47-year-old American's squad finished fourteenth (Alex Barron) and fifteenth (Patrick Carpentier) in the IRL season finale in California.

Red Bull, the Austrian energy drink owned by billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, backed Eddie Cheever (IRL) for four years.

''We wish (Red Bull) all the success in their future endeavors,'' said Cheever, who isn't sure if he'll return to IRL next year, ''and - who knows - perhaps it will make business sense and our paths will cross again.''

JV's goodbye to Sauber, Massa
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.20) Jacques Villeneuve has bid farewell to Peter Sauber and Felipe Massa at the end of a tough F1 return for the French Canadian.

JV, 34, thanked Swiss-German Sauber - who has sold his Hinwil team to BMW - for taking a punt on the 1997 champ.

''Peter gave me the chance to drive in F1 again,'' Villeneuve told his website, ''and I want to thank him for that.

''He is a really passionate guy, he loves racing. He put together a very efficient team with a much a smaller budget than most others (in F1).''

Although it is possible that not everyone at BMW agrees, Jacques thinks his 2006 Sauber contract will be honored. JV reckons the team will 'become a very strong contender' pretty quickly.

''I am excited to be part of that project.''

Jacques also had some kind words for Felipe Massa, his Ferrari-bound Sauber teammate.

Although JV slated the young Brazilian in 2002 for seeming to not even know how to drive 'in a straight line', the Canadian now says Felipe is a 'great guy' and 'very quick' on track.

''I would like to wish him all the best,'' Villeneuve continued. ''I was really happy to work with him this year -- we had a lot of fun together.

''He has invited me to eat some pasta at Ferrari next year!''

JV is currently holidaying in Paris.

Bernie gives F1 '95/100'
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.20) F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has given the 2005 season a score of 95/100.

The diminutive Englishman said grand prix racing was docked at least five points when it gave Indianapolis a farcical embarrassment in June.

''I heard a lot of noise and many complaints about that,'' the 74-year-old told Sport Bild.

''But America is like that -- you get sued if you say 'good morning' to someone at 5 past noon.''

More broadly, Bernie is a keen supporter of trying to limit testing but also of kicking out a tire manufacturer. ''If we had a control tire,'' he explained, ''we won't need to do all that testing.''

Ecclestone is also pushing for yet another revision of the points system, after a new format was introduced in 2003.

''There must be a larger incentive for victory,'' he said, referring to the current 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system, as opposed to before when second won just six points.

''At the moment it is possible to become champion without having to win a race.''

Schu will be back - Alonso
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.20) Michael Schumacher might prove a tough rival in years to come, but Fernando Alonso does not want the seven time champ to quit.

24-year-old Alonso, who in 2005 became the first driver in five years to rupture Schumacher's reign, reckons F1 would 'miss' the German star.

''I'm glad I beat him while he's still here,'' Alonso told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

The young Spaniard says he respects Schumacher, 36. ''He has been in F1 for fourteen years,'' he marveled, ''his motivation is impressive.

''Then again, winning - succeeding - is addictive, and it drives Michael. I think we have this feeling in common.''

Renault's Alonso would also like to take Schumacher on next year. ''I still think he's the favorite for 2006.''

He explained: ''This year Ferrari struggled, but I don't think they will be that far behind again. I hope (Schumacher) returns, stronger than ever. Anyway, it is harder to defend a championship than it is to win it.

''It is going to be difficult for us to match this perfect season.''

Indian F1 demo delayed
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.20) Narain Karthikeyan's demo-drive in Mumbai has been postponed after the Indian street proved too bumpy for an F1 car.

The Jordan rookie's run along Marine Drive had been scheduled for next Sunday, but the 'Mid-Day' publication said the two-kilometer stretch of road failed to meet the standard set by the local automobile authority (WIAA).

A special grinding machine is presently smoothing out the bumps, and joints in the road are being filled with a compound.

''Even a two-inch bump could send Karthikeyan into the sea,'' WIAA chief Nitin Dossa said.

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