Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
November 3,  2005

Speed and power
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.2) Bernie Ecclestone has added his voice to reject speculation that rule changes for 2006 were designed to help Ferrari and Michael Schumacher.

The German, 36-year-old Schumacher, endured in 2005 his worst season in a decade at the Maranello team.

''Unfortunately, the regulations won't be able to help him. Unfortunately,'' Ecclestone, F1 supremo, told Italian magazine Autosprint.

Schumacher, it seems, agrees with Ecclestone, but he also doubts that the arrival of Williams and Toyota to the Bridgestone camp will power Ferrari back to fighting form next year.

''I don't believe (it) will improve our problem,'' Michael told 'Motorsport Aktuell'.

Speaking of power, meanwhile, Schumacher does seem to think that the FIA - enforcing the switch to smaller V8 engines - has found a handy way to control the rising speeds in F1, perhaps unlike teams' swift recovery from recent FIA aerodynamic limitations.

He told the magazine: ''I doubt that the loss of (engine) speed will be recovered quickly. Rather, engine improvements are more gradual.''

As far as Bernie is concerned, F1's adrenalin junkies need not panic. The 75-year-old thinks the return of tire changing in 2006 will ensure that mighty speed is still a factor.

''Both tire manufacturers,'' said the Briton, ''will now have to devise new compounds and constructions to best compensate for the loss of power."

Fisi neared Williams ride
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.3) Giancarlo Fisichella came within a pen-stroke of driving for Williams this year.

The Roman, who scored 75 points fewer than Renault teammate and champion Fernando Alonso, revealed to 'F1 Racing' that a seat next to Mark Webber, at one stage, looked more likely than the Enstone ride.

''But then Flavio (Briatore) came up with a very appealing contract ... and I accepted it.

''I admire Williams a lot. It was the best in formula one in the past and I am sure they will achieve that again.''

32-year-old Fisichella endured a difficult year alongside Alonso, but he singles out out-performing the Spaniard at Spa as one of the highlights of season 2005.

''Fernando is extremely fast and consistent,'' Giancarlo said, ''and makes very few errors.''

Ferrari test near Rome
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.3) As its rivals adhere to a November test ban, Ferrari continued to plug away at the Vallelunga track on Wednesday.

New race signing Felipe Massa drove a F2004, alongside Italian tester Luca Badoer, who steered 70 laps in a 2005 car.

''The program for the day centered on Bridgestone tire development,'' a statement read.

The pair continue on Thursday.

Rubens asks for early start
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.3) Rubens Barrichello has asked Ferrari to release him from his 2005 contract so he can get a start at Honda prior to Christmas.

While the Brazilian is being held to his obligations until December 31, therefore condemned to 'gardening leave', his young successor - Felipe Massa - is happily already testing a Ferrari after driving for Sauber in 2005.

33-year-old Rubens' first Honda test is slated for January 11.

''But I hope Jean Todt will authorize me to do a couple of test days in December,'' he told the Estado de S. Paulo 'paper.

Barrichello had a seat fitting at Brackley based BAR last week. He said: ''What I have seen is a young, hungry team and that usually works well.

''The new full size wind tunnel ... really drew my attention,'' he added of the facility to start working in March.

Schu slams rule revolution
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.3) Ferrari ace Michael Schumacher has slammed formula one's ever-changing regulations as farcical.

The German, 36, referred to the latest raft of modifications ahead of 2006, including yet another qualifying revamp and the rolling-back of a newly pioneered one-tire-per-race rule.

''(The rules) are constantly going back and forth,'' he was quoted as saying by a German magazine, ''it's a farce.''

Schumacher's remarks come at a time when the governing FIA is taking criticism for allegedly tailoring the rule changes to help Ferrari back to form.

He also pre-empted the next round of 'when will Schumi quit' speculation by rejecting the theory that not winning the 2005 championship might compel him to soon retire.

''My motivation is the pleasure I feel in purely being a F1 driver,'' Michael insisted, ''not always coming first or smashing the competition.''

Pizzonia seeks 'Friday' drive
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.3) F1 'Jungle Boy' Antonio Pizzonia has publicly confessed that his hopes of staying at the wheel of Williams' race seat in 2006 are now all but dashed.

The 25-year-old from Brazil revealed that, rather than wait for the Grove team to officially confirm Nico Rosberg, he was chasing a 'Friday' ride at teams including BMW and Super Aguri.

''I am talking with (them) and all the other teams that will have a third Friday car next year,'' he told 'Speed TV'.

Pizzonia's comments come amid news that he - who filled in for an injured Nick Heidfeld post Monza this year - has been offered drives in America.

He revealed 'surprise' that Frank Williams seems to be on the hunt for 'ride buyers' to fill the team's own Friday cockpit.

Pizzonia is perhaps also surprised that Rosberg, the 20-year-old GP2 champion, won the race drive. He said: ''Nico ... has the backing of companies that want a German driver to fill Michael Schumacher's shoes when he retires.

''He has potential, but has never been quick in the tests he did.''

F1 kart race in Colombia
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.3) A star studded cast of formula one drivers will race go-karts on the streets of Colombia this weekend.

Juan Pablo Montoya, the organizer - with wife Connie - of the 'Race Of Stars' event to raise money for poor Colombian children, will take on rivals Pedro de la Rosa, Christian Klien, kart world champion Vitantonio Liuzzi, Christijan Albers and Antonio Pizzonia.

They, along with 2005 Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon and IRL rival Helio Castroneves, will pilot 125cc karts.

''Nearly 10,000 fans are expected to turn up for the event which will be televised live in Colombia,'' read a statement.

Former drivers aim F1 fire
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.3) Former grand prix drivers Alex Zanardi and Emerson Fittipaldi have aimed fire at F1.

The pair say the so-called pinnacle of motor racing is unspectacular, ridiculously expensive and tangled up in rules.

''Is it logical to race in this formula one,'' Zanardi, who raced for Williams in 1999 before returning to Champ Cars, told Autosprint magazine, ''where if you don't spend a crazy amount of money you can do absolutely nothing?''

Double title winner Fittipaldi, meanwhile, reckons he doesn't understand 'a thing' about the new knockout qualifying format for 2006.

He said: ''Especially the reason why some cars will be able to re-fuel and others won't.''

1997 champion Jacques Villeneuve, perhaps now resigned to losing his Sauber-BMW seat next year, accused most teams of wanting '20 or 21-year-old boys' in cockpits.

''Drivers who sit, drive the car and shut up,'' the Canadian also told Italy's Autosprint. ''I'm not like that.''

Webber going home
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.3) Mark Webber will return to his native Australia later in November.

Williams' lead driver, 29, is reportedly to attend a V8 Supercar race in Tasmania, but he'll also stop off in Melbourne to launch the '06 F1 event.

The Australian grand prix, to be held in April for the first time next year, will be officially kicked off with an event at Federation Square on November 14.

''It's the best grand prix of the year and I'm not just saying that because I'm Australian,'' Mark Webber told the Queanbeyan Age newspaper.

On the topic of the Australian grand prix, Thursday actually marks a full two decades since the very first - in southern city Adelaide - was staged as a world championship round in 1985.

Believe it or not, the man at the top of the podium was Williams' Keke Rosberg. Twenty years later, his 20-year-old son Nico was handed a full time Williams-Cosworth race drive on 3 November, 2005.

Schu's an animal lover
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.3) Michael Schumacher is an animal lover.

That's the claim of Ingrid Newkirk, who is president and co-founder of the influential 'People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' (PETA) group.

On tour to promote a book, she revealed that F1's seven time champion once signed a petition 'against a monkey lab', while Schumacher's wife Corinna participated in a program to 'rescue work horses in Turkey', according to the 'Nuvo' online publication.

Newkirk also claims that Jenson Button 'altered his lifestyle' after receiving a 'PETA' letter and video in the mail.

''There's no excuse to eat animals any more,'' she said. ''There's a substitute for everything.

''We can eat non-violently.''

Kimi's fortune still secret
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.3) Thousands of Finns flicked to the 'R' section of a recent newspaper listing on Wednesday.

Uniquely, Finland's tax records for the previous year are annually made public, meaning that how much a Finn earns is hardly a guarded secret.

Nosey fans were, however, disappointed to find that Kimi Raikkonen - Finland's formula one sensation with a rumored salary of between $22m and $25m - was not listed.

The 'Iltalehti' tabloid said the 26-year-old McLaren driver was a 'zero-income millionaire' because, similar to countryman Mika Hakkinen who calls Monaco home, he lives in countryside Switzerland.

For the record, Finland's Aatos Erkko, a media magnate, topped the charts, with a personal fortune of (US) $232m.

Schu 'like a kid'
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.3) It's easy to understand why Rubens Barrichello is hardly afraid of new Honda teammate Jenson Button.

The Brazilian, 33, has just rounded out his sixth season alongside multiple champion Michael Schumacher at Ferrari.

Barrichello calls the German 'extraordinarily' talented.

''He's almost like a kid,'' Rubens told the Brazilian 'Estado de S. Paulo' newspaper.

''At Suzuka I don't know where he got a lap time from in the rain, then a lap later he crashed.

''He comes back to the pits with this smile -- he just has incredible self confidence.''

Barrichello also marveled at Schumacher's ability to show up at a track like Belgium's Spa 'and run through Eau Rouge flat out on his second lap'.

''Michael taught me to go for the limit early on ... which is something he can always do.''

Rosberg to race - official
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.3) Nico Rosberg will be the youngest driver on the 2006 F1 grid after Williams officially unveiled the German driver's long term contract on Thursday.

The 20-year-old German is the son of Williams' 1982 drivers' champion Keke Rosberg, who was born in Finland. Rosberg will be Mark Webber's teammate next year.

''Given the attention he commands,'' said team boss Sir Frank Williams, ''I am delighted he is making a contribution to formula one history.''

Rosberg will kick off his grand prix career with a test at Barcelona late in November.

''I am really looking forward to ... learning as much from the team as I possibly can,'' Nico said.

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