Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
October 27,  2005

19-race calendar unveiled
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.27) 'Ferrari Is Favorite Again'.

That's what the Italian 'Corriere dello Sport' publication proclaimed on Wednesday after the World Motor Sport Council in Rome rubber-stamped the 2006 return of tire changing, and a new 'knockout' qualifying system.

More significantly, however, the FIA body also published Bernie Ecclestone's draft grand prix calendar for next year, allaying fears of 20 races and confirming Bahrain in Australia's normal kick-off spot.

The calendar, much like 2005's unprecedentedly-long 19-stop season, again features six back-to-backs, a new June date for the Silverstone race, and a 'provisional' tag for the season finale, Brazil, with the race 'subject to contract approval'.

England's 'Mirror' tabloid said British grand prix bosses are 'fuming' at the earlier date, which will clash with the World Cup opener.

''To make matters worse,'' read the daily newspaper, ''the French (GP), which is unpopular and badly attended, has been handed Silverstone's July slot.''

Red Bull boss Christian Horner, though, said the draft looked 'pretty sensible' and at least avoided the feared 'triple headers'.

''Bahrain and Malaysia to start with will be a tight one,'' he said, ''but no surprises.''

The World Motor Sport Council has also banned team personnel from climbing pitwall fences to cheer home their winning driver, and set up a carmakers' 'Commission' to look into introducing 'new and future' technologies to racing.

'M16' to run in February
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.27) Alex Shnaider had 'no intention' of selling the Jordan-Midland outfit in 2005, a team 'review' of the season insisted.

The document referred to Monaco in May as a 'downside' to the newly-acquired squad's brief history -- the car was slow, and sale rumors rampant.

''After a few weeks, things calmed down,'' the review continued, ''and the rumors proved unfounded. (Shnaider) had no intention of selling Jordan and, despite the uncertainties, the team emerged stronger and more unified.''

Jordan, which debuted under the regime of Eddie Jordan in 1991, will be renamed Midland next year. The new management, however - with Dr Colin Kolles at the helm - endured a testy relationship with the media amid speculation that not enough was being invested in the team.

It took until Monza for a 'b' version of the mainly 2004 car to be launched. The team 'review' also confirmed that the first Midland car - 'M16' - will be rolled out in February.

''Hopefully, the team will be able to maintain its incredible reliability record, with the continuous collaboration of (Toyota and Bridgestone) in 2006,'' it said.

Massa starts new F1 job
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.27) Felipe Massa has kicked off his 2006 job as Michael Schumacher's teammate by testing a V8-powered Ferrari at Vallelunga.

The young Brazilian, 25, drove a modified 2004 car at the track near Rome over 46 laps. He will test throughout November and for most of the winter 'off' period.

Massa said he embraces stepping into Rubens Barrichello's six-year old shoes as number two to Schumacher, the world champion.

''It means you will know exactly how you will do compared to everyone,'' he told the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

Felipe, from Sao Paulo, also played down the Maranello based team's current 'crisis', saying that Ferrari is still a step-up from Sauber.

''I often think what it will be like -- will I get the car of my dreams, if I'll be able to win some races and maybe fight for the title.

''I know most of all I need to learn a lot.''

Bourdais and Renault
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.27) Back to back Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais says he intends to 'start a relationship' with Renault in 2006.

Although the Frenchman will stay in America with Newman-Haas next year, he indicated that - built into the contract - will be a provision so he can occasionally test the F1 cars.

''Then (I want to) start in 2007,'' Bourdais, 26, revealed.

He said he had targeted Renault, even if the French manufacturer seems happy to steer away from French drivers at the pinnacle of racing.

''It's got markets all over the world,'' Sebastien acknowledged, ''so they probably have interest to have non-French drivers.'' He explained that no real contact had been made with the team.

In fact, the spectacle-wearing Frenchman is believed to not get along with team boss Flavio Briatore and may even have once turned down an offer to be managed by his company.

Bourdais added: ''In 2007 obviously it will probably be my last chance to make it to F1.

''I'd very much like to make the jump.''

BMW fixed on new F1 foray
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.27) Dr Mario Theissen has defended BMW's decision to forsake Williams and go it alone in formula one with its own team.

The Munich based marque's motor sport director, likely to become the team principal at BMW-Sauber next year, justified the move by suggesting that the existing collaboration had given '100 per cent'.

''Extending the partnership into the future,'' the German claimed, ''wouldn't have made us faster.''

But while Williams' Grove chiefs point to a lack of power from the 2005 V10, Theissen suggests that the 'FW27' car could be blamed for the distinct lack of speed.

''The chassis was not up to scratch,'' he said.

''We had hoped that the extensive modifications halfway through the year would help, but we initially went in the opposite direction.''

Between Hinwil and Munich, then, BMW has lately been a hive of activity -- interviews for jobs to fill Sauber's under-staffed wind tunnel, for example, started in September and are still going.

For the moment, BMW is therefore fully committed to the highest echelon of motor racing. ''Motor sport without BMW,'' Theissen claimed, ''is as difficult to imagine as BMW without motor sport.''

Another thump for JB sexism
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.27) Irish driver Sarah Kavanagh has rubbished Jenson Button's claim that women will never make the grade in formula one.

Honda's JB, 25, controversially told a men's magazine this month that girls are not built for the pinnacle of racing due to their monthly cycle and big boobs.

''You couldn't get in the car if you had really big breasts,'' Kavanagh, the 'EuroBOSS' driver from Ireland, agreed, ''but the rest of what he says is just nonsense.

'''It's like formula one is stuck in some sexist 1970s Playboy vibe,'' she went on to tell the 'Scotsman' newspaper.

EuroBOSS is a championship for four-year old (plus) grand prix cars, and Kavanagh claims she is still eying an eventual berth in the GP2 category.

Of Button's 'monthly' claim, meanwhile, Sarah slammed the attitude as 'ancient old nonsense'.

''The idea that we can't compete because of our menstrual cycle ... come on. We have women flying F-16s and going to war -- why can't we race a (formula one) car?''

Trulli's 'better job' - Ralf
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.27) Jarno Trulli had a better handle on the 2005 Toyota car than formula one teammate Ralf Schumacher.

Surprisingly, that's the confession of German-born 'Schu Jr' himself. Ralf, 30, said the TF105 machine simply didn't suit his driving style.

''Jarno did a slightly better job with it,'' he told F1 Racing.

''I wasn't able to push it to the limit in qualifying. I was so desperate to get a clean lap that I didn't push hard enough in the braking areas, which wasn't good enough.''

Mercifully for the younger brother of Michael Schumacher, however, the late-arriving 'b' model did suit his style a little better, and he seemed to have the measure of Italy's Trulli at the final few '05 grands prix.

Frentzen out of hospital
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.27) Former grand prix winner Heinz-Harald Frentzen left a German hospital on Wednesday after his heavy crash in a DTM race.

''I was getting bored,'' the 38-year-old, who was knocked out in the Hockenheim hit, said of his three-night stay with brain and other bruising.

''I feel fine under the circumstances.''

Schu takes wife for F1 spin
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.27)
Following Rubens Barrichello's final Ferrari fling, Michael Schumacher took a turn at the wheel of the novel three-seater F1 car.

At Fiorano, the seven time world champion gave rides to his wife Corinna, father Rolf, PR lady Sabine Kehm, manager Willi Weber, ex-'guru' Balbir Singh and one or two team members and engineers.

''Everyone had fun,'' Germany's Schumacher told La Gazzetta dello Sport, ''also my engineers who know every small detail of the car but not the thrill you feel inside.''

The scarlet three-seater, however - which clocked a top speed of 290kmh on the private test track - later developed an hydraulic problem.

2005 'not bad' - Karthikeyan
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.27) Although the public perception might be different, Narain Karthikeyan has described his rookie season in formula one as 'not bad'.

But the slender Indian says he has 'given up trying to educate' his home country about how success at the pinnacle of motor sport is not possible without a top car.

Karthikeyan, 29, became the first Indian ever to race in grands prix this year, for Jordan.

But he lamented to the 'DNA India' publication: ''It became difficult to keep explaining that there was little I could do on the grid.''

Expectations at home rose again when the long awaited 'new car' arrived at Monza. But Narain protests: ''It was hardly a new car -- just the old one with some new bodywork.''

Teammate Tiago Monteiro seemed to take most of the plaudits at the yellow-clad team -- he beat Karthikeyan to the Indianapolis podium, and enjoyed enviable reliability. The Portuguese also seemed to get along with team boss Colin Kolles, while he and Karthikeyan supposedly fell out.

But, over a single lap, 'NK' probably had the edge. Of the 24 qualifying laps in 2005, Karthikeyan was ahead 15:9.

Narain insists: ''I am quicker but (Monteiro) finished more.''

Bernie didn't buy Minardi
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.27) Paul Stoddart says Bernie Ecclestone didn't actually inject a single dollar into his ailing grand prix team in 2003.

Two years ago, the Australian's ailing Minardi team nearly collapsed when a supposed 'fighting fund' for small teams never materialized.

The story faded when Ecclestone, the F1 supremo, reportedly ploughed $4m into Minardi's bank account. But that, Paul Stoddart now says, is not exactly the way it went.

''He didn't actually put any money in the team,'' the Minardi boss - who has sold to Red Bull - told Motorsport Aktuell.

''But just having Bernie behind us boosted our reputation so much that we suddenly generated new incomes.

''So I never actually had to accept his offer.''

Because Ecclestone came through for F1's smallest team in its darkest hour, Stoddart will always have an affection for the little Briton.

Stoddart admits to now lamenting his sale of the team, but - really - he had no choice.

With all the news about an eleventh (or twelfth) team in the air, Minardi faced the possibility of receiving no FIA prize income for being outside the top-10 constructors.

But Paul insists that he did not cry when he finally sold out.

''I wasn't far from it, though,'' he admitted.

Ron Walker causes a stir
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.27) Australian grand prix corporation boss Ron Walker has found himself at the centre of a media controversy.

TV media watchdog 'Media Watch' questioned the way an article in Melbourne's 'The Age' newspaper had mysteriously been changed just minutes after it was published.

The original online article was called: 'Grand Prix benefits a 'ludicrous exaggeration'. The story referred to critics of a report that the annual formula one race in Melbourne pumped $175m into the economy.

Mere minutes later, though, the story had been replaced. The new headline read: 'Grand Prix pumps $175m into state economy'.

Who, you might be thinking, is the chairman of Fairfax, publisher of The Age? Ron Walker.

''No one had any influence on the story beyond the editorial staff of The Age,'' Age editor Mike Van Niekerk insisted.

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