Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
October 26,  2005

FIA wing 'good idea' - Lauda
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.26) Former triple world champion Niki Lauda has signalled a thumbs-up to Max Mosley's 'duel rear wing' concept for formula one.

The great Austrian, 56 - who ran the now-defunct Jaguar team for a time earlier this decade - praised the governing FIA for its 'good idea'.

''I think it will return formula one to its origin,'' Lauda said, referring to the fact that overtaking and driver skill should be promoted by the proposed design.

Niki, who drove for teams including Ferrari and McLaren, thinks the duel-wing concept will favour drivers like Michael Schumacher -- pitlane's most naturally talented.

''With that (design) he could prove to everyone again that he really is the best,'' said Lauda.

While it received a positive reception at the F1 Commission on Monday, and has been sent to the technical group for evaluation, the biggest opposition to the duel-wing idea is coming from teams' commercial departments.

They say the concept, which basically cuts a chunk of the rear wing out, devalues a prime sponsor advertising spot.

Schu won't cut winter break
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.26) Michael Schumacher has denied that he has been asked to take a shorter winter vacation in order to help haul Ferrari out of its competitive plunge.

After testing Ducati's MotoGP motorcycle at Mugello on Monday, the seven time world champion vowed to 'try everything' to win the 2006 F1 title.

''I can't promise that we will do it,'' Schumacher, 36, added, ''but I can promise that we will apply total power.''

But will 'total power' involve the German trading-in some of his traditional Norwegian skiing break to join the hard-graft at test tracks?

''Like always I will return to the car in January,'' Michael insisted, albeit explaining that if 'something important' cropped up, he might test earlier than Christmas.

Paffett wins F1 test
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.26) Gary Paffett will move a small step towards the formula one world when he tests a McLaren.

The newly crowned DTM champion, with a long standing link to Ron Dennis' F1 team, secured the tin-top title at the wheel of a Mercedes.

''I look forward to the (F1) test,'' the Briton said, hinting that the McLaren run will be a reward for winning the coveted German championship.

''It is a step in the right direction to formula one, which is where I want to be.''

However, Paffett, 24, admitted that 2006 - at least - will be spent defending his title, because there are 'no race seats available' on the F1 grid.

Button sexism slammed
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.26) Jenson Button does not think women will ever trouble him in Spa's Eau Rouge or Suzuka's 130R.

The 25-year-old (BAR-)Honda driver told a men's magazine - 'FHM' - that ladies' biology could make their success in grands prix impossible, even if girl-racers like Danica Patrick and Katherine Legge are proving pretty handy in lower formulae.

''But in F1 cars,'' JB explained, ''I can't see it happening due to the g-force in fast corners.

''And one week of the month you wouldn't want to be on the circuit with them, would you?

''A girl with big boobs would never be comfortable in the car. And the mechanics wouldn't concentrate. Can you imagine strapping her in?''

Britain's 'Sun' newspaper, though, quoted its female 'motoring correspondent' as slamming the BAR driver's sexism.

''Oh grow up,'' said Emma Parker.

''If he spent less time staring at grid girls' breasts he might win more races.''

More 'zip' for qualifying
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.26) F1's new knockout qualifying format has its doubters, but some say it should provide a bit more 'zip' for those in TV land.

Although the doomsayers reckoned it was too late to fiddle around with a format involving different fuel loads, Red Bull's Christian Horner said the system should be good for the 'bigger picture'.

''It is a good solution,'' he said.

''I think qualifying will be an interesting spectacle now.''

Sir Frank Williams agrees that knockout qualifying will probably provide a boost in terms of the 'entertainment factor'.

''(It) should give a bit more zip for the viewers,'' he added.

FIA president Max Mosley admitted that existing one-lap qualifying had been overturned because it did not prove exciting enough for television.

''This is the format,'' Mosley explained, ''that guaranteed the cars being out there.''

Williams to run 'Friday' car
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.26) Williams will run a 'Friday' car next year -- and a pay-driver might get the nod to steer it.

After finishing a sub-standard fifth in the constructors' chase, Sir Frank Williams' formerly title-charging squad can enter a non-racing spare car for Friday's practice sessions.

Honda, Red Bull, BMW, Midland and Squadra Toro Rosso can also benefit from the privilege, but Toyota - fourth in the '05 standings - cannot.

With the loss of BMW works power, Sir Frank admitted that the 'Friday' option is a costly one for a privateer team.

''But we ... will deal with it,'' he told the Autosport website.

Antonio Pizzonia would be a logical choice for the extra seat, but the Brazilian has indicated that a Champ Car ride might better attract him.

Ex-Minardi pay-drivers Christijan Albers and Robert Doornbos would be logical candidates, as are likely Jordan refugees Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan.

Stoddart to walk away
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.26) Australia's Paul Stoddart will walk away from F1 next Monday.

The gritty entrepreneur has sold Minardi to Red Bull, and revealed that October 31 - the handover date - is his last in the sport after failing to get a single offer to take up a new job elsewhere.

''You can only do something if someone wants you to do it,'' Stoddart told Autosport.

In fact, Paul thinks his outspoken nature in F1 politics will rule him out of most jobs that might be on offer.

He vowed to focus on his new 'OzJet' airline, and travelled to Queensland (Australia) last weekend to oversee his new sponsor involvement in 'V8 Supercars'.

He said: ''I'm going to miss it badly.''

Stoddart also lamented to crash.net that, without Minardi, Jordan and Sauber on the grid, F1 might face a dearth of young rookies given a chance by a privateer squad.

''You do have to fear a little bit,'' he wondered, ''where are these kids going to get their chance in the future?''

Final Ferrari farewell
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.26) After driving a scarlet single seater for the last time on the weekend, Rubens Barrichello has now made his final farewell to Ferrari at the wheel of the novel three-seater.

The Honda-bound Brazilian's grandpa, father, mother and sister all got a ride in the car, which is based on a F2002 but with seats in each sidepod.

''Now I feel a hole inside my stomach,'' 33-year-old Barrichello told La Gazzetta dello Sport. ''I feel incredible emotion -- I felt like crying when I saw the happiness of my grandpa and father.''

The three-seater topped 290kmh at Fiorano.

Rubens does, however, lament the fact that he cannot test for Honda prior to the first day of next year. He revealed that his BAR track debut, because of the Ferrari 'gardening leave', will be on January 11.

More F1 meetings
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.26) Yet another meeting has been staged in a bid to stave-off the looming and increasing threat of 'breakaway' in 2008.

FIA president Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone, the F1 supremo, apparently met in Paris on Sunday, prior to Monday's F1 Commission in London.

Also present was Burkhard Goeschel, a BMW and 'GPMA' bigwig.

Then, on the morning of the F1 Commission in London, the trio met again, this time also joined by Renault F1 team principal Flavio Briatore.

''The meetings ... were ... useful steps towards a harmonious eventual conclusion,'' Sir Frank Williams, who describes the two-series split as potentially 'disastrous' for the sport, told the Autosport website.

Regulatory and commercial matters aside, the carmakers' 'GPMA' group is also concerned about the arguable independence of the FIA court.

Minardi's big mistake
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.26) Gian Carlo Minardi says he regrets giving the 'Minardi' name to Paul Stoddart when he sold his formula one team five years ago.

The Italian and Faenza based team's founder, who remained an employee at Minardi to this day, laments the imminent passing of the famous 'Minardi' name to history, with Stoddart's recent sale to energy drink Red Bull.

''We have managed to save all the workforce,'' he told Autosprint. ''If the price to pay was the name, then never mind.''

Still, Gian Carlo - who said he is still paying off old F1 team debts - reckons he made one major mistake when he sold to Stoddart; not following the thirty year old advice of an even more famous name.

''(He) told me: 'Minardi, sell your stock, sell whatever you want, but don't ever sell your name.' That man's name was Enzo Ferrari. Instead, I gave the name away for free.''

A 'fairer' safety car rule
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.26) The FIA is working on a 'fairer' safety car system, according to veteran F1 racer David Coulthard.

The Scot, 34, said he was stuck on the bad end of the rule in Shanghai, following one of two safety car periods.

''It caught me after it left the pit,'' Coulthard told the 'Daily Record' newspaper, ''so from sixth I ended up ninth.

''I could have been fourth.

''(Race director) Charlie Whiting called me a day or two later to gauge my opinion.''

The likely change to the rule would involve, in that scenario, Coulthard - and other racers - being waved through by the safety car until it found the race leaders.

October 26, 1997
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.26) To many, October 26 1997 - exactly eight years ago - was and will remain one of the most remarkable days in F1 history.

A day earlier, first, second and third on the grid for the European grand prix at Jerez - Jacques Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher and Heinz-Harald Frentzen - had posted identical times in qualifying.

The real drama, though, had yet to come.

In a last-ditch effort to win his first championship for Ferrari - but with an ailing red car - Schumacher deliberately turned in on Williams' Villeneuve but only found himself beached in the gravel. Canada's 26-year-old won the title, and Schumacher later found himself disqualified from the entire season.

At the end of the race, the synchronised swimming began. Villeneuve, who was leading, let first Mika Hakkinen and then David Coulthard pass him.

It was a McLaren one-two and 1998 and 1999 world champion Hakkinen's first of twenty wins.

Frentzen to leave hospital
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.26) Former grand prix winner Heinz-Harald Frentzen will probably leave hospital on Thursday after recovering from a huge shunt in the Hockenheim DTM race.

''The headache is getting better,'' Australian newspapers quoted the German - who won grands prix for Williams and Jordan - as saying.

Reports say the 38-year-old, who was knocked out when his Vectra smashed into the barriers, will have to undergo another brain scan before leaving Ludwigshafen hospital.

One more year for Pedro
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.26) Pedro de la Rosa has vowed to spend one more year as a test driver.

The 34-year-old Spaniard, who so impressed in injured Juan Pablo Montoya's McLaren cockpit in Bahrain, reckons being a long term test driver is an 'extremely hard' F1 job.

''You're working for others, basically,'' Pedro told the 'Marca' newspaper, ''but you see that you can do at least as good a job as the race drivers.

''That's extremely hard.''

De la Rosa, who has also raced for Arrows and Jaguar, tested on 25 separate days in 2005, as well as sharing the 'Friday' cockpit at grands prix with test teammate Alex Wurz.

He doesn't, however, intend to keep Wurz company for ever.

''If I arrive at the end of 2006 and still do not have a race cockpit,'' Pedro advised, ''then I will try my luck in a different racing series.''

He admitted that his problem of breaking out of the test cycle now is his age. ''F1 teams are looking for 20-year-olds,'' said de la Rosa, possibly referring to the imminent confirmation of Nico Rosberg as Williams' new rookie.

RB not 'scared' of JB
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.26) Rubens Barrichello has poured scorn at any suggestion he might be 'scared' of taking on Jenson Button at (BAR-)Honda next year.

The cheerful Brazilian, a nine-time grand prix winner, has spent six years at Ferrari alongside multiple world champion Michael Schumacher.

''Button? Someone who was teammates with Schumacher can't be scared of Jenson,'' Rubens, 33, told the Italian Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

Briton Button, in 100 grands prix, has failed to win a race.

Barrichello won't even rule out emerging ahead of Schumacher, Ferrari's eternal number one, in the '06 standings.

He also told Autosprint: ''Who knows if now I'll have better opportunities to beat him.''

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