Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
November 17,  2005

'I knew I'd catch Kimi'
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.17) Colombia's Juan Pablo Montoya says he always knew he would eventually catch up with McLaren teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

Although the 30-year-old, not helped by an early-season injury, started his Woking tenure in the Finn's shade, he rounded out 2005 with three victories to Kimi's four in the last nine grands prix.

''Six months ago the press said Kimi had driven me into the ground,'' Montoya told the Motorsport Aktuell magazine.

''Now everyone is surprised except me.''

JPM explained that he took a while to get used to the MP4-20 car, which was 'very difficult to drive'. ''At first it felt like the steering wheel was connected to the rear of the car,'' he added.

''I didn't feel as home (in the car) as I had at Williams. Unlike Kimi I need a car that is more predictable.''

But Montoya said Raikkonen, the 2005 season runner-up, also took his time to settle in at Ron Dennis' silver outfit back in 2002. He recalls: ''I remember that Coulthard was initially faster.

''Even before Melbourne I knew it would be a tough year.''

Webber defends limp form
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.17) At the end of an error-riddled first year at Williams, Mark Webber has been forced to defend his driving.

Contrary to all the pre-season hype and expectation, the Australian slumped to tenth in the drivers' standings, just eight points ahead of Nick Heidfeld despite his German teammate skipping the last five grands prix.

But Webber told Melbourne's 'Age' newspaper: ''Look at Ferrari this year and Michael (Schumacher). If he didn't have the luxury of seven world championships behind him then he would be under pressure.''

Mark hinted that yet another disappointing year, in 2006, might irreversibly scar his image.

''It was hard for me to bomb around in sixth or seventh, and I am not interested in (doing it) again.

''If we have another one like that, everyone's reputation suffers. But it is not just me personally, it is everyone together this year taking the hits.''

Webber defended his in-race mistakes as due to simply taking the uncompetitive 'FW27' car beyond its real limit.

''It's because I'm competitive,'' he added, ''not because I'm not interested. It's because I'm fighting and not going to lie down.''

Generous Bernie
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.17) Billionaire F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone demonstrated his generous side this week by offering for auction a couple of access-all-areas paddock passes.

At Qatar capital Doha's Ritz Carlton Hotel on Wednesday, the 'Reach Out To Asia' charity saw many items go under a Sotheby's auction hammer.

The 'Peninsula' newspaper said the two 2006 formula one paddock passes provide access 'to any F1 event in the world'.

Monza told to reduce noise
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.17) A Milan court has ruled that Monza, scene of the fabled Italian grand prix, keep the noise down.

While it is unclear what effect the news might have on the historic formula one race, the court said motor racing events face bans if a measure is not implemented by the 'Autodromo' to reduce noise.

The court complaint was filed by a group of local residents.

''We've always respected the limits set by the law,'' Monza director Giorgio Beghella Bartoli told La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

The high speed circuit is due to host the Monza Rally this weekend. ''At the moment,'' Beghella Bartoli continued, ''I don't think we risk cancellation.''

China, Japan, swap '06 dates
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.17) China and Japan have swapped spots on the 2006 grand prix calendar.

An FIA statement said the change follows the agreement of the Asian countries' national sporting bodies, and comes 'with the approval of the FIA World Motor Sport Council'.

Now, the Chinese grand prix - originally scheduled to stage the penultimate race of next year ahead of the Brazilian finale - will be raced on 1 October, seven days before Japan.

Narain to unveil future
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.17) India's Narain Karthikeyan says his role in formula one next season will be unveiled 'soon'.

On a sponsorship tour in his native country, the 28-year-old - who has split with Jordan-Midland after an acrimonious rookie season - revealed that he is currently trying to land a new job in pitlane.

He told the 'Hindu' newspaper: ''I'm having discussions with a few teams and will very soon be making an announcement regarding my future.''

After receiving a recent scolding in the press courtesy of Colin Kolles, 'NK' hit back at the Midland boss by alluding to 'some unprofessional behavior' in 2005.

''Things became hard at the formula one,'' he also told the 'paper.

''I'm trying to get a new team and discussions are on.''

Spaniard is F1's 'new Schu'
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.17) Fernando Alonso could become 'a new Schumacher', Renault chief Flavio Briatore reckons.

But the Enstone based team principal, who presided over Michael Schumacher's double crown with Benetton in 1994-5, reckons his latest charge might have a tough job next year.

''There is a great chance for Fernando to become a new Schumacher, and perhaps even surpass him one day,'' 'Flav' said.

''But you have to remember -- it is always easier to become champion than to stay champion.''

Alonso, 24, agrees that his driving improved throughout 2005, his first drivers' triumph and a record setting feat for the youngest ever champ.

But asked about defending his title, the Spaniard replied: ''I am taking nothing for granted. There is only one secret -- working very, very hard.''

Todt partner adopts children
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.17) Ferrari boss Jean Todt's girlfriend, Hong Kong movie star Michelle Yeoh, has adopted two children.

In the Asian press, it is reported that the Malaysia-based actor adopted a boy and a girl.

She also said she would like to have biological children with Todt, the French 'general director' of Ferrari and the Italian marque's F1 principal.

Yeoh said of having their own children: ''But we usually don't get what we want if we hope for it too much. Instead I will leave it to fate.''

Yeoh's latest movie, Sunshine, is a sci-fi thriller filmed in London (UK).

Fangio statue unwrapped
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.17) A bronze statue of F1's late five time world champion Juan Manuel Fangio has been unveiled in his native Argentina.

Although reports in the media said the tribute in capital Buenos Aires came after 'months of delays', the fitting memorial features a life sized Mercedes-Benz W196, Fangio's most famous mount.

Fangio, bettered only in the drivers' championship stakes by Michael Schumacher, is also honored in statue form at Barcelona, Monaco and Nurburg.

The winner of 25 grands prix died in 1995, aged 84.

Trulli blasts F1 reform
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.17) Jarno Trulli has lambasted officials for constantly tinkering with the F1 rulebook.

The Italian, a key member of the drivers' 'GPDA' group, said yet another wave of changes is not good for the sport.

''Seven qualifying formats in three-four years,'' Toyota's 31-year-old marveled to the Italian La Gazzetta dello Sport.

''Either who is in charge hasn't understood a thing,' he said, ''or there have been several errors of judgment.''

Trulli called the 2006 'knockout' qualifying proposal 'very complicated', and warned that fans 'are sick' of the lack of rule stability.

''(Tire changes are) another sore point,'' he told the 'paper in reference to the 2005 rule that has been binned.

Trulli stated: ''It's either the correction of a mistake, or once more we're jumping from one thing to another without knowing the objective.''

In the same article, 'JT' was also asked about Valentino Rossi, who countryman Giancarlo Fisichella implied does not deserve a Ferrari seat.

Jarno admitted that the 26-year-old MotoGP champion's move to Ferrari might be about 'image' rather than speed.

Trulli said: ''Rossi will ... have a hard time, because that's what grands prix are like.''

Monteiro has seen 'M16' car
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.17) Tiago Monteiro says he has seen Midland's 2006 'M16' race car.

The Portuguese, still awaiting confirmation of his seat despite insisting that he has signed a contract, reckons the often criticized Silverstone based team should take a step up the grid next year.

''That's my hope,'' the rookie, 28, said in an interview with 'Speed TV', ''and that's what they've guaranteed me.''

Tiago Monteiro seemed to agree with regular paddock speculation this year that Midland owner Alex Shnaider became reluctant to spend money on a team that still bore someone else's name (Jordan).

''Next year Alex's name will be on the car,'' Monteiro confirmed, ''and he wants it to be really good and perfect.

''The new car, from what I've seen, looks quite nice. They learned a lot this year with some mistakes they made (and) with more budget ... we'll have development and everything.''

Sato banner up for grabs
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.17) A well-traveled banner signed nineteen times by Japanese F1 driver Takuma Sato is up for grabs.

The piece of priceless F1 history, currently posted at internet auction website eBay, is being sold to raise money for a charity chosen by 'Taku'.

Sato, axed by BAR-Honda but hopeful of driving for the fledgling 'Super Aguri' team in 2006, signed the fans' banner at every grand prix this year except Brazil -- although it was at Interlagos.

''At each race Taku met with the proud fans,'' read the eBay description, ''and signed against the race name.'' The Sato banner resembles a Japanese flag and bears the words 'The Son Has Risen'.

It has also featured on Japanese TV, in magazines, and was recently on the front page of Tokyo's main sport 'paper.


(GMMf1NET -- Nov.17) An Italian usually referred to as 'Mimmo' quietly came and went in formula one back in '94.

Full name Domenico Schiattarella, he drove seven races for Simtek in 1994 and 1995, and turns 38 on Thursday.

Cora not to blame - Ralf
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.17) Ralf Schumacher has denied that his wife, Cora, forced an end to the relationship between the German driver and Willi Weber.

Toyota's Ralf, 30, told the 'Bild' tabloid: ''Why should she?

''I'm sure Cora has plenty to do without worrying about my career.

''Neither she, nor her manager Alain Midzic, had anything to do with the separation.''

Schumacher, whose multiple championship-winning elder brother Michael will remain under Weber's wing, explained that he simply doesn't need a manager.

''If I need to negotiate something in the future,'' he added, ''I will do it. I am, of course, grateful for the work he has done for me, but we are not a married couple.''

McLaren not boring - Montoya
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.17) Juan Pablo Montoya has denied that McLaren is as 'boring' as its reputation in the paddock hints.

The feisty Colombian driver, who fell out with Williams' management during the 2003 season, switched to Ron Dennis' grey camp this season.

''I remember stopping by at McLaren a few times in 2004 and thinking 'ok, McLaren is a pretty boring place','' he said.

''But once you are inside the team you form a different opinion.

''It's the same with Ron. Some drivers might observe him and wonder whether he would be desirable to drive for. But this perception is wrong,'' Juan Pablo continued.

30-year-old Montoya, who won four grands prix to Finnish teammate Kimi Raikkonen's seven this season, also denied in the 'Motorsport Aktuell' interview that he lied about breaking his shoulder on a trail bike because McLaren contracts forbid such dangerous pursuits.

He insisted: ''In theory, I am allowed to go parachuting without wearing a parachute.''

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