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Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
November 8,  2005


Kimi's long interview
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.8) If a journalist plans a long interview, he probably wouldn't knock on Kimi Raikkonen's grand prix motor home.

Christened 'iceman' by McLaren boss Kimi Raikkonen, the 26-year-old Finn - title runner-up in both 2003 and 2005 - is one of the least verbose in the paddock, even though his off-track exploits often make a good tabloid headline.

Answering a Q&A on the McLaren website, Kimi demonstrated that he is indeed as ice-cool as the sticker on his helmet suggests.

Asked how he feels when the red lights come on, Raikkonen answered: ''I don't know really.

''For me, there's no adrenaline or anything -- you just want to make sure you're ready.''

And how he felt when he saw his name on a McLaren car for the first time? ''It was nice, but nicer to get inside.''

But there's no real sentimentality about his 'office' -- the cockpit of a 900 horse power F1 thoroughbred.

Comparing the McLaren to his Formula Renault of 2000, Kimi explained: ''In the end you drive them the same way. It's just that non-formula one cars are that much slower.''

He answered in the negative to whether he talks to himself while driving, and denied that he ever had a F1 hero like Senna, Prost or Mansell.

''It's silly to think you can race against them,'' said Raikkonen. ''I'm happy to race against the people I race now.''

Unlike some of his rivals, Kimi doesn't pretend that he spends all his spare time at his team's HQ. Kimi says: ''Everybody who works at the factory know what they're doing -- I'd just distract them.''

Kimi also demonstrated that he is seldom afraid. He recalled his steering wheel falling off at Imola in 2001 as 'not too bad', and would prefer it if modern F1 circuits weaved 'through a forest'.








'FW28' on road to '06 debut
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.8) Williams' new Cosworth-powered 'FW28' design for 2006 will debut in late January or very early February, Sam Michael has revealed.

The struggling Grove based team, which failed to win a race in its last year with BMW, is scheduled to return to the test track on November 29, with a modified 2005 car at Barcelona and an early V8 engine.

''We have a busy winter test schedule,'' Australia's Michael, the technical director, told the Sydney Morning Herald 'paper. Williams will attack 2006 with a new engine, a new gearbox, and new Bridgestone tires.

Sam downplayed suggestions that private British company Cosworth will not be able to keep up with the carmaker-led pace of Ferrari, BMW, Mercedes, Renault, Toyota and Honda.

He said the marque is renowned for its V8 expertise.

''(So) Cosworth should be in a good position for the start of next year,'' Sam Michael insisted, ''and then it will depend on what they can bring to its development program compared to the big manufacturers.

''Don't underestimate Cosworth's motivation. It's a strong and determined company that has taken a lot of flak, and 2006 is its opportunity to get back at the top.''

Michael explained that Cosworth 'wants to win'.

He added: ''If (they) didn't have that attitude, we wouldn't have gone with them.''

The Australian, 32, also reported that Williams' 'FW28' is now being aerodynamically tweaked in both wind tunnels, 'after a very long commissioning period.' Williams earlier blamed downforce problems on improperly calibrated tunnels.

Michael hinted that the 2006 car might feature 'quite a few' new ideas, and some radical.







Bernie to give 'Sid' talk
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.8) Bernie Ecclestone will give the 'Watkins Lecture' at the Autosport International in January.

Named after former F1 doctor Prof. Sid Watkins, the 'Motorsport Safety Fund' talk - given exclusively to 500 delegates - was previously undertaken by speakers including Sir Jackie Stewart, FIA boss Max Mosley, Niki Lauda, David Richards, Martin Brundle, Ross Brawn and Sid himself.

The Autosport International is held in Birmingham (UK).








Sato - 'I'll race in '06'
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.8) Midland's door is now all but closed, but axed BAR-Honda driver Takuma Sato remains confident about staying on the formula one grid next year.

The Japanese attended a meeting of his official 'Takuma Club' fan club in Tokyo last Sunday, where - according to crash.net - he reportedly 'promised his fans' that he would still be a grand prix driver season '06.

Sato, 28, told them: 'I will race 2006 Formula One GP', and he mentioned the new Honda-connected Super Aguri team.







Brit GP future moving on
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.8) The owner of British grand prix venue Silverstone has received 'nine firm bids' to redevelop the formula one circuit.

In a letter to British Racing Drivers' Club members, chairman Stuart Rolt and president Sir Jackie Stewart revealed that the committee will now decide on a shortlist of 'three or four' developers.

It was earlier reported in the media that Silverstone was on the lookout for a $1bn investor to totally revamp the ageing facility in order to preserve the race's future.

The BRDC's latest letter said the short-listed developers would 'be invited to make presentations ... in the near future'.

The board will then 'decide which, if any, of the bids meet our financial criteria and the overall objectives of the Club,' the letter continued.








Au Revoir, Pierre
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.8) Michelin completed an impressive world motor sport clean-sweep in 2005.

Not only did the French tire maker grip Renault's Fernando Alonso to the formula one crown, but 'Bibendum' also ended up on top in World Rally, MotoGP, the Dakar Rally and the 24-hour Le Mans.

''We're absolutely thrilled to have won so many prestigious titles,'' said 'CEO' and chairman Edouard Michelin.

On Sunday, one of the F1 paddock's most popular faces - long time Michelin competition director Pierre Dupasquier - got yet another fond farewell into retirement, by the MotoGP fraternity.

Frederic Henry-Biabaud is to replace the 68-year-old veteran.

''It was his third leaving party in recent weeks,'' said the 'Auto Racing Daily' publication, referring also to the Shanghai (F1) farewell and recently at the Catalunya Rally.

''He's the main reason why Michelin got back into racing in the 70s,'' Michelin acknowledged, while Pierre's successor Henry-Biabaud likened Michelin without Dupasquier to the Rolling Stones without Jagger.

''No one can replace Pierre,'' he said.








'Hi' praise for Red Bull
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.8) Former grand prix driver Hans-Joachim Stuck has hailed Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz for steering into formula one.

The 54-year-old, who contested 74 races in the 70s and returns to the track this weekend for the 'Grand Prix Masters' category, also praised the energy drink-owned camp for establishing a 'nice, friendly, open' team in 2005.

''Take the motorhome,'' Stuck said as an example to the 'sport1.at' publication. ''Compared to the other teams, you can just wander inside and will be greeted with a friendly 'hi'.

''I agree with their philosophy.''

German-born Stuck, son of the late and great pre-World War II grand prix driver Hans Stuck, also praised Mateschitz for snapping up Minardi to be run as the 'Squadra Toro Rosso' rookie team.

But he told 'sport1.at' that he recently urged Mateschitz to keep Christian Klien at the wheel of the senior racer.

Stuck insisted: ''I believe he has what it takes for formula one.''








'DC' in a soap box
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.8) On the weekend, F1 veteran David Coulthard enjoyed a slightly calmer ride from Monaco's Casino Square to the Portier corner.

The Scot, 34, with his Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, were judging the 'Red Bull Grand Prix Soap Box Race' in the elegant Principality.

But Coulthard was persuaded to hop into one of the machines to see how down-hill vigor compared to his 900 horse power grand prix machine.

''It was a novel experience,'' 'DC' grinned, ''actually being able to take in my surroundings and hear the people at the side of the track.''

One soap box team was made up of women from Coulthard's nearby five-star 'Columbus' hotel.








French hopeful slams Renault
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.8) Two-time Champ Car title winner Sebastien Bourdais has lashed out at Renault after F1's constructors' champion apparently rejected his request for a formula one test.

Recently, the 26-year-old said he intended to 'start a relationship' with Renault in 2006, and engineered a new clause in his Champ Car contract to allow it to happen.

But in the French 'L'Equipe' newspaper, Le Mans-born Bourdais said he did not now expect any help from Renault to achieve his F1 dream in 2007.

Alleging that Renault president Patrick Faure knocks French drivers to justify his policy to hire foreigners, Sebastien Bourdais added: ''They've done enough bad-mouthing about me.''

Earlier in 2005, Faure told the media that 'just being French' is 'not good enough' to land a F1 ride with Renault.

''They should stop having fun demolishing all the French drivers,'' Bourdais continued.

He said that, for a time, a 2006 ride with BMW looked like a distinct possibility. ''But there was a problem with Villeneuve's contract,'' he lamented.








Honda eye January debut
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.8) The 2006 works Honda car will make its track debut 'sometime' in January.

That's the revelation of 'BAR' chief designer Kevin Taylor, who reckons the team's new 100 per cent owner - Japanese carmaker Honda - has been 'instrumental' in much of the new racer's design.

''And I'm sure this process will keep expanding,'' said Kevin, who was promoted in June.

Excitingly for the Brackley based team, nine time race winner Rubens Barrichello will pilot one of the '008' machines in 2006. Taylor admitted that BAR would squeeze as much information as possible out of the Brazilian.

''We'd be fools not to quiz him on what's made Ferrari so successful,'' the designer confessed.

'''We'll listen to him ... to see if there are things we don't do that we should be doing.''

Taylor also said Rubens' proven ability to win grands prix gives BAR a 'baseline', even if he thinks Jenson Button could, too, be a winner.

He continued: ''But that question hasn't been answered yet.''

So does Taylor think team principal Nick Fry's target of 'plural' race wins next year is reasonable? ''I'd say we're pretty confident,'' he said.

''If we hit our targets, I'm sure we'll be right on the button.''








BAR slate FIA 'curve balls'
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.8) BAR-Honda has bemoaned the governing body's 'late' call on new regulations for next year.

The Honda owned team's chief designer Kevin Taylor admitted that the design of the 2006 car 'hasn't been helped' by the belated overhaul of qualifying, and the resurrection of tire changing.

He called the rules 'some late curve balls'.

BAR, concerned about tire wear with the current '007' car, worked particularly to make the 2006 contender more suited to the 'one tire' rule.

''And then the rules change,'' Taylor griped, ''and now ... (the rules are) back closer to where we were in 2004 when we were very competitive.''

He hinted that the 2006 car design might, therefore, be subject to some late revisions.







Support for radical FIA wing
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.8) Sir Frank Williams has offered his support for the FIA's novel 'duel rear wing' concept.

Although the Oxfordshire based team principal called the idea 'strange' looking, he admitted that effectively chopping out a middle section of the modern rear wing design might actually aid overtaking.

''Accordingly, Williams is prepared to support this concept,'' a team document said.

The radical design has been passed to the technical working group for testing, with Williams revealing that teams should know in February or March 'if and how' it works.

Sir Frank rationalized: ''When I saw (it), I thought: what is this supposed to be? But if it really helps to make overtaking easier ... then it's good for formula one.''








Tambay salutes old team
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.8) Former grand prix driver Patrick Tambay has heralded Renault's double F1 title triumph of 2005.

The 56-year-old Frenchman, who raced for the marque in the mid 80s' turbo period, said he was 'proud for Renault' and still knew some of the guys behind the scenes.

''Achieving it after just four seasons deserves recognition,'' said Tambay, who won twice and returns to the race scene this weekend in a 'Grand Prix Masters' machine.

Interestingly, Tambay's British teammate in 1984 and 1985, Derek Warwick, will also contest the new seniors' race in a 600hp single seater.

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