Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
November 14,  2005

Heidfeld set to return
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.14) Nick Heidfeld will return to action this month for the first time since September, after first bowing out of his Williams seat at Monza (Italy).

Although cynics who doubted his injuries have since turned their attentions elsewhere, the German is to run in a modified Sauber as BMW prepare to go it alone as a works grand prix team in 2006.

Heidfeld, 28, who raced only fourteen times in 2005, will return at Barcelona on November 28. It is revealed that 'Quick Nick' will be powered by the marque's V8 engine.

The former Prost, Sauber and Jordan driver, however, does not expect to immediately win with the new Sauber-BMW union.

''The first year will be to create a basis with which to make the next step forward,'' he said.

Webber's next 'challenge'
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.14) Australia's Mark Webber is planning yet another 'challenge' on Tasmanian soil.

After launching the kayaking, hiking and biking 'Mark Webber Challenge' in 2003, Williams' 29-year-old driver reckons he might even be able to woo mate Lance Armstrong to take part next November (2006).

He said at the Australian 'V8 Supercar' race at Symmons Plains: ''People of (Lance's) caliber have busy schedules, but our goal is to have those types of people come down ... for sure.''

While on his visit to Tasmania, Webber reportedly met with the state government to talk about the '06 challenge. ''Hopefully, I can announce all the details at the Melbourne GP,'' he revealed.

In the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, Mark admitted that Aussies got 'frustrated' by his lack of F1 results in 2005.

''People in Europe understand it a bit more,'' he said, ''(and) it is hard to educate people here in Australia what we are doing, but that is fine.''

Meanwhile, in Melbourne's Federation Square on Monday, Webber sold the first public release tickets to the 2 April 2006 Australian F1 race.

New frontrunner for GP2
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.14) A new frontrunner is on the way to F1's support championship, GP2.

Lewis Hamilton, with links to McLaren and a dominant winner in the F3 Euroseries, set a blistering pace while testing with the 'ART' team at Jerez (Spain).

The Briton is likely to race in 2006, boosting the probability that he could soon become the first F1 driver with an African heritage.

Inaugural GP2 champion Nico Rosberg will debut for the Williams grand prix team in 2006.

At Jerez, Hamilton set the pace ahead of GP2 usual Nelson Piquet Jr and A1's dominant pacesetter, Nicolas Lapierre.

Rossi told to stay on bike
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.14) Former formula one driver Hans-Joachim Stuck has urged Valentino Rossi to stay on two wheels.

With news that the MotoGP sensation has tested Ferrari's F1 machine for the third time, 54-year-old Stuck, from Germany, said he hopes Italy's Rossi is 'intelligent enough' to turn down the sheen of grand prix racing.

''Formula One feeds on such rumors,'' 75-grand prix veteran Stuck told 'Sport1.at', 'but I hope Rossi is intelligent enough to say 'no'.''

A Ferrari spokesman, meanwhile, insisted that Rossi - which, just incidentally, means 'red' in Italian - will not test the scarlet machine again until 2006.

Hans-Joachim Stuck does admit, however, that Rossi would at least add a 'hero' to the F1 paddock. He called Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso 'excellent drivers but no heroes.

''Mansell and Prost were heroes,'' he said. ''Today's drivers should open up to the public.''

Midland reject Monteiro boast
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.14) 'Midland' has refused to support Tiago Monteiro's adamant boasts that the Portuguese driver will stay at the grand prix team in 2006.

''I got here from England with ... the confirmation,'' Monteiro said at a sports ceremony in Portugal, before repeating the announcement to the 'A Bola' and 'Record' newspapers.

A Midland spokeswoman at Silverstone, however, joined team principal Colin Kolles in denying that Monteiro was now solidly seated alongside Christijan Albers for next year.

The spokeswoman asserted: ''There will be a press release when we have something to announce.''

But in Portugal, Monteiro was jubilant, openly musing about 'looking forward' to the winter tests and revealing that he could have snared the 'Friday' drive at team Williams.

''I thank Frank Williams for believing in me, but he also understands I prefer to race,'' the 29-year-old added.

He also revealed that Midland would unveil a 'much stronger' budget in 2006 than was the case in the Jordan guise.

Sam Michael slams 'EJ'
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.14) Sam Michael has condemned former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan for suggesting that Williams may soon follow the yellow squad away from grand prix racing.

Michael, Williams' young technical director who worked for Jordan in the Silverstone team's 1999 heyday, slammed 'EJ' for failing to 'invest' in his once rising formula one team.

''He chose not to,'' Michael told Autosport, ''(but) if you look at Frank Williams he doesn't have boats ... he doesn't have Spanish villas, he doesn't have all that sort of stuff.

''Every cent Frank and Patrick (Head) have made in formula one they have tipped back in.''

Sam Michael thus spurned the theory that Sir Frank, after losing BMW's works support and failing to win a single race in 2005, is starting to resemble the plights of teams like Jordan, Sauber or Jaguar.

''We have just spent $50m on a wind tunnel so you don't do that if you are planning to go and leave F1,'' Michael added.

''For (Eddie) to say that was just sour grapes. It is very easy ... to sit on the outside and take pot shots but at the end of the day he is the one that blew it and Frank's the one that is still in it.

''Let's just wait and see where Frank is in a couple of year's time.''

Wurz has missed the F1 boat
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.14) Former winner of 10 grands prix, Gerhard Berger, doubts whether Austrian countryman Alex Wurz will ever get another shot at the F1 race grid.

Although the 31-year-old - a former Benetton racer and now McLaren's long-time test driver - was strongly linked with the second BMW works seat, Berger sees 'nothing at all' in all the new speculation.

''He has done an outstanding job for many years as a tester,'' Berger, BMW's former joint motor sport director with Mario Theissen, remarked.

''But I do not believe the rumors.'' Referring to Wurz's age, in contrast to young guns like Heikki Kovalainen or Nico Rosberg, Berger added: ''I do not know a team that would consider him.''

Berger, 46, also sees a spark of talent in another countryman, Red Bull's Christian Klien, but warned the 22-year-old that 2006 may be his last chance at F1 success.

''He drove well this year,'' the former Ferrari, McLaren and Benetton driver said. ''But I think he has to beat Coulthard.

''The boy has to beat the old man.''

F1 on Aussie TV
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.14) Until 2010, F1 will continue to be televised on 'channel-10' in Australia.

The network announced the new five-year deal on Monday, after the coverage switched from channel-9 at the end of 2002.

Melbourne aside, '10' seldom broadcasts the grands prix live, however, and does not show Saturday qualifying at all.

Newey set for Red Bull glory
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.14) With Adrian Newey in the designer's office, Red Bull can deliver 'race wins by 2008'.

That's the daring claim of team principal Christian Horner, who has succeeded in reproducing the Newey-David Coulthard pairing that netted victories at Williams and McLaren.

''David's delighted by the appointment,'' Red Bull's Horner told the British 'BBC'.

On the outside, Newey's switch from Woking appears to have been motivated by his desire for a new challenge -- and a pretty impressive check.

In a Reuters report, retired Jordan technical director Gary Anderson reckons motor racing might not be able to 'sustain' $10m pay packets for engineers for much longer.

But he also admitted: ''McLaren believed they could build a structure to replace Adrian.

''I think they are probably just about to find out that they can't.''

Newey himself, meanwhile, denied that the speculated $4 million pay-rise was a factor in his motivation to bring the young Red Bull team to triumph.

The Briton told the 'Daily Express' newspaper last Thursday: ''My deal with Red Bull ... provides identical money.

''I wanted to join a young team,'' Newey added, ''and be much more involved in how it grows.''

'Wash the track' - Head
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.14) Wash the track.

Those three words summarize Patrick Head's reported proposal to replicate the sort of overtaking action witnessed at Suzuka last month.

Williams' engineering director and co-owner told German magazine 'Auto, Motor und Sport' that overnight rain made the Japanese circuit more conducive to wheel to wheel action for the grand prix -- such as Fernando Alonso's pass on Michael Schumacher at the 130R.

A 'green' track makes passing easier because the usually grippier racing line is washed away, and the 'dirty' line - once inhabited by dirt and rubber 'marbles' - now provides a similar level of grip.

It is understood that Head has submitted his observations to the FIA's race director, Charlie Whiting.

F1 needs 'young blood'
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.14) The pinnacle of motor sport needs 'young blood', Jean Todt insists.

The 59-year-old Frenchman, who sits at the helm of the Ferrari team, thinks his grand prix colleagues are getting too old to be open to 'new ideas' to spice up the sport.

He cited the example of institutional indecision at bosses' meetings to the German 'Auto, Motor und Sport'.

''If it is decided that a cup should be moved from one end of the table to the other,'' Todt teasingly said, ''it takes hours.''

He added: ''One person wants it facing him, the other (facing) him. In the end, the cup stays where it started.''

Jean Todt thus welcomes the appointment of men like Red Bull principal Christian Horner, 31, with whom Todt will work as engine supplier in '06.

''We need to laugh at ourselves,'' Todt insisted, ''and be open to new ideas. Now, there is too much antagonism and too much mistrust.''

Ralf is 'sensitive' - manager
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.14) Toyota's Ralf Schumacher struggled to perform as a Williams driver, according to his German manager Willi Weber.

Weber told the 'Sport Bild' publication that, although Ralf was beaten for most of the year by Jarno Trulli, the 30-year-old's move to Toyota in 2005 was the best thing for him.

Ralf is 'very sensitive', Willi Weber revealed.

''Depending on how you deal with him, he changes his attitude,'' Weber said. ''Williams did not make it easy for him to perform 100 per cent.''

However, Schumacher - one of the highest paid drivers in pitlane and Michael's younger brother - even failed to perform at Toyota for most of '05.

Weber thinks his tire failure and shunt into the Indianapolis wall, eerily reminiscent of the bone-breaking accident a year earlier, bruised his confidence.

''I don't think he was impaired,'' Willi Weber said, ''but a high speed crash into concrete is not something you can easily put out of your mind.

''It is possible that he analyzed his driving too deeply.''

Mansell wins at Kyalami
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.14) Nigel Mansell beat fellow former world champion Emerson Fittipaldi to the 'Grand Prix Masters' flag in South Africa.

On the Kyalami track, polesitter Mansell claimed he was 'pushed hard' by the 1972 and 1974 drivers' title winner.

''He really is a legend and someone I admire immensely,'' said Mansell. ''Today, however, he was a pain in the ass!''

Veteran of 256-grands prix, Riccardo Patrese, was third, albeit 20 seconds behind. The injured Alan Jones' stand-in, Elisio Salazar (Chile, 24 grands prix), finished tenth, and then celebrated his 51st birthday on Monday.

Also on the winner's rostrum at Kyalami was former grand prix victor Johnny Herbert -- ferrying passenger Fred Coetzer to the flag in a Minardi two-seater F1 car race.

Williams still in the game
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.14) The loss of BMW and title sponsor 'HP' is not the end of the world for formula one team Williams.

The Grove based team's lead driver, Mark Webber, said the customer Cosworth V8 engine for 2006, for example, will not stop him finally taking on McLaren, Renault and Ferrari.

''Cosworth doesn't have the big stamp of a manufacturer,'' 28-year-old said in Melbourne on Monday, ''but (it is) technically sound.

''I think we're in pretty good shape, engine wise. I'm not worried about that ... at all.''

Webber is worried, however, that a 2005 repeat will see his reputation 'suffer' as a result.

''If you're not at the front,'' he continued, ''you're not on people's minds.''

Webber denied losing focus mid-season, claiming that on-track mistakes were made because he was on a mission for speed.

''It was hard for me to take.''

Elsewhere, technical director Sam Michael insisted that 'HP' is the only real major sponsor to have flown the roost.

He told Autosport magazine that Sir Frank Williams is busy working on a replacement, 'and there will be one.'

Australia's Michael also sounded a note of caution to carmaker-backed teams who are feeling pleased about their huge budgets for the 2006 season.

Sam said: ''It only takes one board-level decision for that to all collapse. All those (carmakers) that are there now, they won't be there in ten years' time -- but Williams will, because they exist only to go motor racing.''

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