Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
October 21,  2005

DC still raring to race
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.21) Most F1 players, no matter how passionate about their sport, exhaled a distinct 'phew' when exiting the Shanghai turnstile.

It was, finally, the end of the longest ever calendar in grand prix racing's 55 year history, including no fewer than six tiring 'back to backs'.

But someone forgot to tell Scottish veteran David Coulthard that he should be exhausted and in need of a break. ''I'll be disappointed to have to wait until March to race again,'' the Red Bull driver, 34, told the Daily Record.

''Round after round of testing is not the same.''

Those who know Coulthard well will tell you that he is a changed man in 2005. After nearly a decade at Ron Dennis' pristine McLaren camp, 'DC' is revelling in being himself at a team and company renowned for being open.

He agreed: ''I have enjoyed this year more than any for a while.

''Having been written off by some, (it) is real vindication. 2005 has been a real shot in the arm and I have shown people it was the right decision to keep going.''

Sato future looking safe
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.21) He might not have a (BAR) Honda contract in his pocket, but Takuma Sato is likely to still be on the grid come 2006.

'Midland' (nee Jordan) boss Colin Kolles has revealed that the controversial Japanese driver has been in possession of a contract for a month.

''The ball is in his court,'' he told the specialist British 'Autosport' magazine on Thursday.

''If he wants to sign it, he could be a Midland driver next year -- we're waiting to hear.''

'Taku', 28, came under fire recently after a spate of contentious on-track incidents, but his immediate future seems relatively secure after he also revealed an 'offer' from the mysterious Honda-powered 11th team.

But he cautioned: ''You never know until you get a contract. If the new team doesn't happen we are still in contact with existing teams.''

The mysterious team must formally apply to the FIA on, or earlier than, November 15th.

Sato is currently doing some PR work for Honda in Japan, whereafter he plans a holiday.

JB win taking 'a long time'
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.21) Triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart has admitted that it is taking a 'long time' for Jenson Button to win a grand prix.

Stewart's 99-race F1 career in the sixties and seventies netted him twenty seven victories and three drivers' crowns.

In total contrast, BAR's Button, 25, eclipsed the century (100 GP) mark in Shanghai last weekend but has failed to climb to the top step.

''Jenson has always driven for top class teams,'' 66-year-old Stewart said, ''but (a win) seems to be taking a long time.''

In Button's defence, his Williams, Benetton and BAR-Honda teammates also did not win a single race while driving alongside the Englishman.

But Sir Jackie continued: ''He stood on the podium ten times in 2004 but won not a single race -- that's unusual.''

Stewart, however, conceded that Button's retired compatriot Nigel Mansell also took a long time to win a race, but ultimately went on to secure the 1992 drivers' title.

''Once he won,'' Jackie said, ''Nigel never looked back.

''In the same way, I don't have a single doubt about Jenson's actual ability (to win).''

Button, meanwhile, is proud of his growing reputation for becoming truly integrated with the soon to be renamed 'Honda' outfit. ''A lot of drivers aren't like that,'' he boasted.

''A lot of them drive their race, go home, that's it. They don't visit the factory, they don't motivate the team -- I give everything because I want to be a part of a team.''

Indeed, backing up his claim, JB visited the Japanese Honda HQ in Tochigi this week, and then flew back to England (Brackley) to catch a glimpse of the 2006 car, to be called '008'.

Bad week for 'Irv'
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.21) Former formula one driver Eddie Irvine will be hoping his involvement in a bankrupt IT company is not an indicator of his potential as a team owner.

The 'playboy' Ulsterman, who last raced in F1 with Jaguar in 2002, was a director of British software firm 'Presteligence', which is being wound up by an administrator.

Meanwhile, Irvine, 39, appeared in an Irish court this week after a landscape company sued him for refusing to pay for work done at his home.

Although the judge ordered that Irvine pay nearly $13,000 for the work, he also agreed with the former Ferrari ace's counterclaim amounting to nearly $8000. In addition, 'Plants and Planters' was ordered to pay Irvine's legal costs, the Irish Independent newspaper said.

Reliability cost McLaren
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.21) Despite Ron Dennis' resolve that McLaren was too conservative early in 2005, the McLaren boss has admitted that poor reliability also played a role in the loss of both F1 titles.

''Full reliability is our target for next year,'' he agreed.

Even so, the Woking based principal is desperate to play down an image that broken McLarens cost Kimi Raikkonen and the team the chance to go for ultimate glory.

Dennis said the hardest thing to do is build a really quick car.

''That's the biggest mountain to climb,'' the Briton said, ''the smallest is reliability.

''If you analyze the problems, we've been pretty good -- we were just always doing well in races when a failure occurs.

''If you look at the stats, lots of teams have had problems but it has normally been with their second car or in the early part of the season.''

F1's 'worthy' champ - Lauda
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.21) On the eve of Friday practice for the season opening Australian GP, who would have tipped Giancarlo Fisichella for a year-long trouncing at the hands of youngster Fernando Alonso?

Austrian F1 great Niki Lauda agrees that Alonso, the 24-year-old Spaniard and youngest ever world champion, was the 'discovery of the year'.

''Without question,'' the triple world champion, 56, added.

Lauda does not agree that because Alonso - who sensationally won in Shanghai once the title was wrapped up - adopted a conservative attitude mid-year, he is any less a 'worthy' world champion than Kimi Raikkonen would be.

''Alonso kept his head and scored the points he needed to,' said the always plain-talking former champion, ''while McLaren pushed like crazy and made costly errors.''

Renault now deny 'block' ploy
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.21) A Flavio Briatore-deputy has now denied that Giancarlo Fisichella 'blocked' the McLarens during the Chinese GP.

Renault's colourful boss admitted this week that Rome's Fisichella was asked to slow the McLaren charge in the quest for the constructors' world championship.

''(Fisichella) wasn't blocking them,'' executive director of engineering Pat Symonds insisted in the specialist British 'Autosport' magazine, ''he was racing them.''

Symonds, however, did not hide the fact that a nice blue and yellow barrier between Fernando Alonso and the silver charge - and one that was not as quick as his teammate - did not hinder Renault's Shanghai-spec target.

''Of course it helps,'' Symonds conceded of the Fisichella tactic, ''it's all part of it -- but he wasn't blocking.''

Kimi the 'cobra'
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.21) Kimi's a cobra, Juan Pablo's a lion ... and I'm a German Shepherd.

That's the claim of McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa, who was asked to compare the silver clad formula one race line-up with an appropriate animal.

''Kimi (Raikkonen) would be a cobra,'' the Spaniard told the Agencia Internacional de Noticias, ''very cool and really biting when he wants to be.

''I'm sure Juan Pablo (Montoya) would be a lion and I'd be a dog, like a German Shepherd -- intelligent, relaxed, but don't underestimate my power!''

De la Rosa says 'iceman' Raikkonen, 26, was a bit cool when they first met. ''Now he's becoming more open,'' he reported, ''but he started off quite introverted with me.'' Pedro and Juan Pablo, meanwhile, are very good friends.

With fellow McLaren tester Alex Wurz, on the other hand, things are a little less relaxed.

Although friendly, de la Rosa admits that the pair are always desperate to prove they're faster.

''We get on,'' he insisted, ''but we want to beat each other badly. That's good because we push the car to racing limits during testing.''

Nico gets Grove nod - report
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.21) Nico Rosberg has landed the 2006 race ride alongside Williams' Mark Webber, according to reports.

It is now widely suggested that the 20-year-old, who is actually German unlike Finnish F1 world champion (1980) father Keke Rosberg, has been given the nod over test drive rival Antonio Pizzonia.

An official announcement is expected within days, 'Autosport' magazine declared, making the first GP2 champion the next F1 rookie.

Brazil's 25-year-old Pizzonia will be offered the 'Friday' drive seat, which - although he is desperate to race again, even in another category - he is likely to accept.

With works partner BMW's departure, Sir Frank Williams' F1 outfit will be V8 Cosworth-powered next season.

Some had suggested that Rosberg and Pizzonia might undergo a 2004-like 'shootout' for the ride, but Sir Frank is reported to want to give Nico Rosberg plenty of focused winter test mileage.

'Williams must lift game'
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.21) Williams must return to form in 2005 or face a future in the doldrums, long time team co-owner Patrick Head has warned.

The Grove based outfit, led by Sir Frank Williams, finished fifth in the '05 constructors' chase, failed to win a single grand prix, and is condemned to basically a customer engine supply in 2006.

''Williams ... cannot continue to survive as a competitive force in F1,'' the former technical director and today 'engineering director' was quoted as saying in a Reuters report, ''with the sort of season we've had.''

But he advised against writing off a team that last won the title eight years ago.

Head added: ''Anybody can keep running a team down until it's dead in the water, but that's not what Williams is about.''

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