Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
October 25,  2005

All-change for F1 '06
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.25) It was a case of 'in with the old and in with the new' in Monday's meeting of the F1 Commission at a plush London hotel.

The gathering signaled a green light for the much touted 2006 'knockout' qualifying format, but also the axe for the one-tire per race rule.

Slicks, a 'control' tire scenario and Max Mosley's new bi-rear wing concept were provisionally accepted, but will first be examined in detail by the technical group. Their introduction prior to 2008 will need an unlikely 80 per cent majority vote.

''Only time will tell if it's a good day for formula one,'' said departing Minardi boss Paul Stoddart after the meeting. The Australian is unconvinced that complicated 'knockout' qualifying is a silver bullet, and reckons the return of tire-changing will only further drive up costs.

The F1 Commission voted against banning 'Friday' and spare cars. All changes now move to the World Motor Sport Council in Rome for ratification.

''It was a good meeting. No fireworks,'' said another principal.

'Breakaway' still on track
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.25) A separate meeting between Max Mosley and the disgruntled 'breakaway' carmakers' group did not bring peace to formula one.

Prior to joining the F1 Commission action in a London hotel, the FIA president met with 'GPMA', the alliance comprised of BMW, Mercedes, Renault, Honda and Toyota that threatens to leave F1 in 2008.

''The outcome (of the meeting) does not change our strategy at all,'' said GPMA spokesman Xander Heijnen. ''We continue our preparations for the new series.''

Despite the apparently steadfast status-quo, Mosley has recently been talking positively about the future of grand prix racing. His message is that peace is near.

''We have not reached agreement,'' he admitted on Monday, ''but (we) got a lot closer ... so it looks like it will all come together in due course.''

But staunch Mosley-foe Paul Stoddart, attending his final major F1 meeting before handing over Minardi to Red Bull, reported that the carmakers did not seem 'a happy bunch' behind closed doors.

Midland name 'Friday' driver
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.25) Midland, whose name-change from Jordan was accepted by the F1 Commission on Monday, has announced that Nicky Pastorelli, 22, will be the team's 'Friday' driver in 2006.

Silverstone-based Midland waited to confirm the highly anticipated deal until the Friday practice regulation was also green-lighted in London.

Pastorelli, who - like 2005 Minardi men Christijan Albers and Robert Doornbos - is Dutch, was Jordan's '05 tester, but Doornbos and Nicolas Kiesa filled the Friday role.

Midland has not settled on any other aspect of the 2006 driver lineup, although Anthony Davidson, Takuma Sato and Albers are contenders for the ride. Incumbents Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan are not widely believed to be staying at the team.

''(Pastorelli) proved himself very competent in F1,'' said team principal Colin Kolles, ''and (now) he has an opportunity to keep on learning.''

Ferrari hope Schu will stay
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.25) Ferrari's dream driver lineup beyond 2006 would feature Michael Schumacher, according to president Luca di Montezemolo.

But the Italian admitted on Monday to not knowing if Schumacher, the 36-year-old German who has collected five drivers' titles for the Prancing Horse since 2000, will renew his tenure for 2007.

''If he wants to carry on,'' Montezemolo said at Mugello, ''I will hug him tight like a child.

''If, however, he wants to quit I'll thank him regardless because in my mind he will always be number one.''

Ferrari's sparkling form of the twenty-first century dipped markedly in 2005, with various fingers pointing at Bridgestone, the Aldo Costa-designed F2005, and Schumacher's possibly waning motivation.

But even though Michael insists he will announce his post-'06 intentions early next year, he admitted to 'not thinking at all' about quitting.

''So (the) president can be calm,'' he grinned.

Meanwhile, Montezemolo will be heaving a sigh of relief with Monday's F1 Commission outcome, after - at the weekend - slamming the now axed 2005 single tire per race rule as both 'dangerous' and 'not in the spirit' of F1.

Former F1 driver in hospital
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.25) Former Prost, Jordan, Williams and Sauber driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen is in hospital after shunting heavily in a DTM race.

The German, 38, suffered head and neck injuries when his Opel Vectra speared inexplicably into the Hockenheim barrier. Frentzen, a grand prix winner, was briefly knocked out.

Heinz-Harald was helicoptered to a nearby hospital where brain scans gave him the all-clear, but - suffering from bad headaches and with suspected brain bruising - doctors have him under observation.

''I can't remember the crash. I am basically fine,'' he said.

Frentzen drove in 160 grands prix between 1994 and 2003.

Schu tests MotoGP bike
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.25) In a move starkly opposite to that of Valentino Rossi, F1 superstar Michael Schumacher swapped four wheels for two on Monday when he rode a MotoGP bike at the Mugello track.

As MotoGP's Rossi keeps the world guessing about his possible future in formula one, 36-year-old Schumacher - the seven time drivers' title winner - tried the Marlboro-sponsored Ducati V4 'just for fun'.

Schumacher, who lapped about forty times, reportedly lagged around 20 seconds off Loris Capirossi's recent pace.

He wore Ducati race leathers and a MotoGP-standard helmet liveried in his color scheme, but reportedly did not blemish the suit's knee guards.

''The guys at Ducati helped me a lot,'' Michael later said.

''It has been a great experience -- super fun.''

Happy birthday Mr. E
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.25) Bernie Ecclestone's impending 75th birthday did not pass unnoticed by the F1 Commission.

The gathering in London of team principals, circuit promoters, suppliers and sponsors paid tribute to the F1 'impresario' by surprising him late in the meeting with a cake -- delivered by a squadron of girls dressed in the overalls of formula one teams.

Ecclestone's birthday is Friday.

Junior series wants F1 link
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.25) Organizers of the 'World Series by Renault' category have written a letter to the FIA asking that the championship winner each season be automatically granted a formula one 'super license'.

Although 2005 champion Robert Kubica will test Renault's F1 car in December, the Polish driver missed out on a 'Friday' drive for Minardi earlier this month when he failed to meet the criteria for the mandatory FIA document.

Although some F3 titles, for example, give their new champion an automatic F1 license, the World Series by Renault is not recognized in this way by the governing body.

The only way Kubica, 20, could have got the green light to drive the Minardi would have been to test for three hundred kms with FIA supervision and then approval.

Alonso won't 'settle'
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.25) New world champion Fernando Alonso has vowed not to settle for a single F1 triumph.

Renault's 24-year-old, who is the youngest ever F1 title winner and the first from Spain, was asked by the 'El Pais' newspaper if securing the 2005 crown had peaked his career.

''I wouldn't define myself as someone who settles,'' Alonso said on a visit back to Spain.

Fernando, who won seven grands prix in his victorious year and climbed the podium in 15 out of 19 races, reckoned both Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren) but also Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) will give him a hard time next year.

He explained: ''With the rule changes, it's hard to say.

''But McLaren have always been there (and) Michael is a great driver.

''Ferrari is Ferrari. They'll be back, without a doubt.''

Massa, Piquet, for 'RoC'
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.25) Brazil will sport an impressive lineup at December's popular 'Race of Champions' event in Paris -- a current Ferrari driver and a son of a world champion.

Felipe Massa, set to accompany Michael Schumacher at the scarlet team in 2006, and Nelson Piquet Jr - GP2 racer and son of a triple title winner - will scuttle around the Stade de France, a statement revealed on Tuesday.

Piquet Jr, also a frontrunner in the novel 'A1' category, is a newcomer to the RoC event.

''I'm looking forward to defending our colors against some of the best drivers in the world,'' Massa, who drove at the event last year, remarked.

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