Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
November 29, 2005
Mateschitz admits Michelin switch
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.29) Red Bull team owner Dietrich Mateschitz
has confirmed that his newly-acquired 'Scuderia Toro Rosso'
grand prix outfit will be Michelin-shod in 2006.
The Austrian billionaire admitted recent speculation that
the former Minardi team would switch from Bridgestone.
Mateschitz said both Red Bull Racing and the Faenza-based
junior team would wear French made rubber.
''We will have Michelin,'' said Mateschitz, who made his
fortune in the innovative energy drinks market.
''Bridgestone is a fantastic company and will for sure look
better (than in 2005), but the question remains 'when?' ''
However, he rejected the idea that the 'STR' switch was
simply about bringing both teams into the Michelin camp by
insisting that Red Bull is 'very ambitious' for the novel
Scuderia Toro Rosso project.
''We plan to turn this team into really something.''
Elsewhere, it is reported that Clermont-Ferrand based
Michelin was forced to accept Mateschitz's request because
of a mandatory FIA regulation.
Alonso kicks off
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.29) 2005 F1 champion Fernando Alonso took
the honorary 'kick off' at Sunday's Spanish first division
football game between the Getafe and Malaga teams.
At the Coliseum, where Getafe won 3-2, the 24-year-old
Spaniard - the first from his country to win the drivers'
crown and also the youngest in history - wore a Getafe
Renault driver Alonso was also presented with a special
Getafe football jumper, featuring his name above a number
Midland get new trucks
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.29) Midland has penned a deal with 2006
Dutch driver Christijan Albers' sponsor, 'MAN Trucks'.
The two year contract involves the supply of ten new trucks,
to be delivered in 'MF1 Racing' colors next year and used to
haul the M16 cars and equipment around Europe.
''Everything is starting to go in the right direction,''
said team principal Colin Kolles. ''We try to build a strong
future in F1 and this only works with the right partners.''
'MAN Netherlands' supported Albers, 26 - who will continue
to appear in 'MAN' adverts - as he made his 2005 grand prix
debut with Minardi.
Heidfeld back on track
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.29) After a three-month break due to injury
and probably politics, Germany's Nick Heidfeld returned to
the F1 track on Monday.
Following fourteen grands prix for BMW-Williams in 2005, the
28-year-old - who reportedly was struck by a motorcycle in
mid-September while recovering from headaches and neck
problems - emerged from Barcelona's pitlane in a V8
Heidfeld, despite a problem in the afternoon, lapped 28
times for his new grand prix team.
''I could hardly wait for this first test,'' the
Moenchengladbach born driver said.
'Quick Nick' said he noticed the difference in power between
the 900hp V10 engine and BMW's new 2006 V8 power plant.
He insisted: ''That's something you just have to get used
to. A positive surprise is that the engine vibrates a lot
less than I expected.''
Rubens' '11' is JB gesture
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.29) Jenson Button says he will allow Honda
newcomer Rubens Barrichello to wear '11' on his car next
year, despite the Briton's apparent entitlement to the lower
Button, 25, is the incumbent at Brackley based BAR-Honda, so
normally would have a claim on the number 11, with Brazil's
Barrichello to wear '12'.
For the record, Rubens, 33, finished a point ahead of Button
in the 2005 constructors' chase, for Ferrari.
But JB says he discovered that Barrichello wore '11' at
significant moments throughout his career -- including his
first junior race win and multiple kart titles.
Button told the Honda website: ''I have no particular
affinity with any number -- other than '1' of course.
''I thought it would be nice to make the gesture. I just
hope number 11 isn't too lucky for Rubens next season!''
Williams to launch in January
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.29) Williams' 2006 car, livery and 'new
identity' will be launched at Grove on January 27.
The Oxfordshire based team, having split with works engine
partner BMW, unveiled on Monday a 'midnight blue'
color-scheme, labeled as an interim paint job for winter
But the real deal, to be raced on the FW28 by Mark Webber
and Nico Rosberg in Bahrain, will be unleashed at the team's
A modified 2005 car, with the new V8 Cosworth engine, will
debut at Circuit de Catalunya on Tuesday. The Spanish test
also marks the team's first outing on Bridgestone-made
A Williams statement, meanwhile, insisted that Andy
Priaulx's test run on Tuesday is 'pending the nomination of
a full time test driver for ... 2006'.
Red Bull finish tunnel upgrade
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.29) Work on Red Bull's new Bedford wind tunnel is
finished -- but the F1 team says it won't be used yet.
After a $4.5 million upgrade of the facility, originally bought by
Arrows from British Defense and then sold to Jaguar, Red Bull's Ben
Agathangelou explained that the 'RB2' would continue to be tested in
the old Bicester tunnel.
''The new wind tunnel is commissioned but it's not ready for use
yet,'' the team's aerodynamics boss added.
''We are taking our time to understand it and you also need to gear up
the department to run a second tunnel.
''So we have expanded the department.''
The tunnel will be used to develop the 2006 car later next year, when
Adrian Newey is a fully fledged team member.
RB2, though, has been penned by technical director Mark Smith, the
former Renault man.
F1's TV figures take a dive
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.29) Television viewing analyst 'Initiative Futures'
has recorded a decline in formula one figures over the last year.
A report showed that 800 million people, combined, tuned in to the
nineteen grands prix in 2005 -- that's a tad over 42 million per race.
But a year ago, in 2004, the same report showed that 43 million
watched each grand prix.
There were 18 races in '04, so the overall count is up this year.
There are probably several reasons for the decline; Michael Schumacher
and Ferrari's lack of speed, for one, accounted for dips in television
viewing in the huge German and Italian markets.
Taking a chunk out of the figures, however, was the ill-fated and
disastrous United States grand prix, at which only six cars started
the race following Michelin's order for its teams to pull out.
'Initiative Futures' found that as much as 45 per cent of the pre-Indy
TV audience in America did not watch any of the subsequent ten grands
Heidfeld eyes wins in '08
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.29) Germany's Nick Heidfeld says he expects to win
races in 2008.
The 28-year-old, who is accompanying BMW in 2006 from Williams to
Sauber, kicked off winter testing at Barcelona on Monday with 28 laps.
But he thinks the Munich manufacturer, now the owner of the Peter
Sauber-founded team he drove for in 2001-2003, need a couple of years
in order to race to the front.
''By 2008 I expect to win races,'' 'Quick Nick' said.
His expectations for next year, then, are pretty modest. Privateer
Sauber-Petronas finished eighth out of ten teams in 2005, so he thinks
'sixth or beyond' is a reasonable start for BMW-Sauber.
''I definitely want to improve on eighth,'' Nick Heidfeld clarified to
Britain's Autosport. ''But the most important thing will be to see
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