Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
October 28,  2005

Adjusting to an F1 shuffle
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.28) The Canadian grand prix says it is happy to temporarily endure a later race date in 2006.

In fact, a spokesman revealed, late June - rather than the usual Montreal event in the middle of the month - might even prove to be a boost.

''They wanted to minimize the number of races in June because of the World Cup,'' Normand Prieur told Canadian Press.

June 23-25, the spokesman added, is a long weekend in Canada, although the race is likely to return to mid June in 2007.

Reported to be less happy about the reshuffle, however, are British GP organizers, whose usually sunny July race will now be held in early June.

''We want to retain the traditional date in future,'' said promoter BRDC's Sir Jackie Stewart, ''but England in June can be nice -- and it's my birthday on that day too!

''We're happy to move for this one.''

Over the moon, meanwhile, is Bahrain, jumping from round three to take the season-opening spot, while Melbourne hosts the Commonwealth Games in March.

''The eyes of the world will be upon us,'' beamed Martin Whitaker, Bahrain circuit manager.

Murray Walker back in action
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.28) 82-year-old Murray Walker will abandon his retirement and step back into the motor racing commentary box next month.

The undisputed 'voice' of formula one, who last called a grand prix at Indianapolis 2001, has been lured out of the garden by the 'Grand Prix Masters' series, in which his old favorite Nigel Mansell will compete against old F1 rivals.

''When I retired in 2001,'' Walker admitted at the Silverstone test on Thursday, ''I vowed never ever to return.''

But the thought of Mansell against strapping on a helmet reminded Murray how much he missed motor racing after a 53-year reign in the commentary box.

At the 'GPM' test, 80s and 90s F1 driver Andrea de Cesaris outpaced Mansell, who was ahead of former McLaren and Indy star Stefan Johansson, Derek Warwick, Alex Caffi, Hans-Joachim Stuck, twice GP winner Patrick Tambay and Christian Danner.

Alonso - 'I have to win'
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.28) Fernando Alonso says he will now need a competitive formula one car every season to keep him properly motivated.

''If I saw no chance to win,'' the newly crowned world champion said, ''I'd stop.''

Alonso, the young Spaniard, admitted to 'Auto, Motor und Sport' that he may be polite and shy, but he's not a good loser.

''If I'm playing cards, I have to win,'' the 24-year-old explained.

''I want to win all the time. When I stop driving in formula one, I must find something new that I can be the best at.''

In some people's minds, Kimi Raikkonen had not only the quickest car but was also the quickest driver in 2005. Alonso, though, was universally praised for intelligence.

He explains: ''I was so far ahead (in the points standings) that all I could do was make mistakes and lose, so I had to drive like that.

''Sure, instead of attacking the pit lane I pressed the speed button a few meters earlier.''

But with the drivers' crown on his head, Alonso's market value can only now be measured in multiple millions of dollars. The quiet ace, though, says a chunky bank balance means very little to him.

''If I see something that I like, I will buy it,'' Alonso admitted. ''But expensive cars, huge houses -- that means nothing to me. I come from a family that had very little.''

Michelin's Pierre Dupasquier has been in motor sport paddocks longer than Fernando has even been alive. But the retiring 'motor sport director' sees great qualities in the new champion.

''He can recall reference numbers of tires used in a test several months ago,'' the Frenchman, 67, marveled. ''He has the technical understanding of a great driver.''

Spa's F1 promoter bankrupt
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.28) Spa Francorchamps may have a date on the draft 2006 F1 calendar, but as of this week it does not have a grand prix promoter.

'Didier Defourney Grand Prix' had a contract to stage the Belgian grand prix until 2010, but has been declared bankrupt in a commercial Liege court.

$18 million in debt, the promoter was also ordered to pay several million in unpaid taxes.

Moreover, it is reported that the $17 million fee for staging the 2006 grand prix has not yet been received by F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone.

While the historic and highly popular Belgian GP hangs in the balance, French test circuit Paul Ricard - owned, incidentally, by Ecclestone - has been named the FIA Institute's first ever 'Centre for Motor Sport Excellence'.

''Paul Ricard has proved itself to be one of the safest tracks in the world,'' said FIA Institute president and former F1 doctor Sid Watkins.

DC thirsty for more fizz
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.28) David Coulthard has urged Red Bull to take 'more risks' in the pursuit of performance next year.

The F1 veteran of 194 grands prix said the fledgling marque, which took over the ailing Jaguar team last year, tackled 2005 as a means of earning pitlane 'respectability'.

''Next year we have to move forward,'' said Coulthard, 34, ''and if that means taking a few more risks ... so be it.''

Also in British racing magazine Autosport, Max Mosley - to be re-elected without challenge as FIA president on Friday - vowed to take it easy in his fourth term.

He will have a new 'cabinet' of 22 people working to ease the load of leading the governing body. ''Once we have got real peace,'' the Englishman explained, ''I will really only get involved in exceptional circumstances.''

More Minardi hopefuls
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.28) Three more F1 hopefuls will try out for the Minardi team next month.

Alongside girl racer Katherine Legge and Faenza regular Chanoch Nissany, the Italian minnow - to be imminently taken over by Red Bull - confirmed that Juan Caceres (Uruguay) and Italians Luca Filippi and Davide Rigon, will test at Vallelunga (Italy) late in November.

Massa - 'I have a future'
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.28) Michael Schumacher's new 2006 teammate plugged away at the Vallelunga track near Rome on Thursday.

Felipe Massa, the 25-year-old Brazilian whose manager is the son of Ferrari principal Jean Todt, again tested a 2004 car fitted with a V8 engine.

Ferrari's Luca Badoer will join him at Vallelunga next week.

Massa, who like his predecessor Rubens Barrichello was born and still lives in Sao Paulo, swept aside speculation that he's only warming the scarlet seat for a single year before MotoGP's Valentino Rossi makes the two-to-four wheel switch.

''When Ferrari take a driver,'' he told La Gazzetta dello Sport, ''it is to win. I'm certain I have a future in F1.''

'Keep the faith' - Webber
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.28) Mark Webber has urged Red Bull to 'keep the faith' with his old mates at Minardi's Faenza factory.

The Australian, who today drives for Williams, started his career under Paul Stoddart's regime in 2002, and laments the 'inevitable' sale of Minardi to a bigger fish.

''Minardi is a team I'll never forget,'' 29-year-old Webber said. ''Driving for Paul was an absolute pleasure. He's the type of no-bullshit guy the sport needs -- unlike some of our more precious souls in pitlane.''

Webber has a lot of time for the countryman at the helm, but it's the Italians back at HQ that really make Minardi tick.

Indeed, Mark calls them 'some of the best blokes' in F1.

Webber explained: ''I hope Red Bull keep the faith (with the Minardi staff) as they are passionate, incredibly hard working and will walk over coals for their drivers.''

''And I'd like to think we haven't seen the last of Paul.''

Bridgestone vow to stay in F1
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.28) After issuing a non-committal remark earlier this week, Bridgestone now says it wants to 'stay in the game' despite formula one's move to a single tire supplier in '07 or '08.

A spokesman for the Japanese marque, Shin Iwamoto, told Reuters that there had been 'no change to (our) stance' following Monday's ratification of the rule at the World Motor Sport Council.

He added: ''We want to continue to be a part of ... F1.

''We feel that formula one is very important in helping us polish our technological edge.''

Rival supplier Michelin, on the other hand, is openly critical of the competition-stunting regulation and is not likely to tender for the deal.

''The (single tire rule) will be brought forward to 2007 if an 80 per cent majority of the Formula One Technical Working Group agree to do so before the end of December 2005,'' an FIA statement said.

'We can trust Bernie'
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.28) 'We know we can trust Bernie.'

In those words of Michael Schumacher, most paddock residents' feelings of the little man with a mop haircut and white shirt are amply described.

Bernard Charles Ecclestone, F1 supremo, turns 75 on Friday.

Before shaping the modern pinnacle of motor sport and becoming a billionaire, Bernie actually started out as a driver -- he unsuccessfully raced in F3 after World War II, and ran the Connaught team into the 50s.

A 28-year-old Ecclestone even tried, but failed, to qualify for the 1958 Monaco grand prix, but earned more success when he took over the Brabham team.

He, of course, later sold it for a tidy profit.

In fact, so adept is Mr. Ecclestone, that he is one of the wealthiest men in Britain, with an estimated fortune in excess of $4 billion.

Bernie, who had a triple heart bypass in 1999, lives with his tall wife Slavica, a former Armani model from Croatia (47), and daughters Tamara and Petra, in London (UK).

2005 not hardest year - Schu
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.28) Michael Schumacher has denied that 2005 was his 'hardest' year in a decade with the red team.

The seven time world champion, who only managed to win the farcical six-car US grand prix in June, reckons the pre-title years of 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 were 'much more exhausting mentally'.

''I don't only look at results,'' the German told Autosport. ''They may be more successful from the pure numbers, but I can tell you that they were far harder years.''

So, predictably, 36-year-old Schumacher rejected speculation that he is starting to lose his edge as the best driver in the paddock.

He explained: ''Some of the races this year were just great. If you win it does not automatically mean you have been good. I would not say that my driving was worse.''

Running in the pack, though, Michael got involved in his share of on-track incidents -- clashes with Nick Heidfeld, David Coulthard, Mark Webber and Takuma Sato, not to mention his embarrassing 2005 finale at Shanghai this month.

''We clearly want to make this year a one-off,'' he agreed.

''I know it will be hard and that probabilities say it is unlikely but, hey, it's a challenge.''

Schumacher will accompany Ferrari boss Jean Todt, whose girlfriend is Malaysian actor Michelle Yeoh, to Malaysia next month to watch a world class yacht race, the New Straits Times newspaper reported.

Glock wants another F1 go
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.28) Timo Glock would like another crack at a formula one career.

The 23-year-old German, who scored the rookie of the year honor in the 2005 Champ Car category, enjoyed a fleeting seat at Jordan a year or so ago.

Although he told 'Speed TV' that another season in the US-based open wheeler championship is likely, Glock also said he was 'looking at what's happening' across the pond.

He revealed that where he ends up will affect his DHL backing.

''We have to see what's happening (with F1) in Europe,'' Glock explained. ''I expect to have it all sorted out in three or four weeks.''

Button's the boob, girls say
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.28) The tirade against Jenson Button's sexist 'boobs' taunt is not over yet, with another trio of girl racers slamming the F1 driver for claiming that women are no good at speed.

Ralf Schumacher's wife, Cora, races a Mini Cooper, and reacted angrily to suggestions that monthly cycles and big boobs prevent her from being a force to reckon with.

''I invite Button to take a ride in my car,'' she told the 'Bild' newspaper. ''Then he'll see who is the faster sex.''

Ellen Lohr, who is a desert rally driver and the only woman to have won a DTM race, accused BAR-Honda's playboy of spending too much time with 'grid girls' and not enough time 'on the gas pedal'.

And, referring to JB's jibe that big boobs will keep women out of F1 cockpits, she said: ''I think Button's mechanics tightened his belts so tightly that the oxygen has failed to reach his brain.''

Adding a third whopping punch to the Button blast, British touring car driver Fiona Leggate revealed that she often has to deal with sexism.

''If Button had said that to my face,'' she told the Scotsman newspaper, ''I would have just laughed at him. Anyone who agrees with him should come and see me or other top women drivers such as Susie Stoddart and Katherine Legge race and they would soon change their minds.

''Comments like that just make me more determined to succeed.''

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