Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
December 1,  2005

New Bull to test in December
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.1) Red Bull Racing will debut its new 'RB2' F1 car before Christmas.

It is reported that, while the 2006 racer won't be officially launched until the first grand prix in Bahrain, the Milton-Keynes based team intend to 'shakedown' the car at Silverstone on 16 December.

Unlike the Jaguar-derived 2005 car, RB2 has been penned by former Renault designer Mark Smith and will be powered by Ferrari's new V8 engine.

'RB2' will then benefit from the development input of current McLaren technical director and leading aerodynamicist Adrian Newey, who will join Red Bull in February.

Red Bull's only confirmed 2006 race driver David Coulthard, meanwhile, returned to the F1 test tracks on Wednesday in the rev-limited RB1 V10, at Barcelona.

V10 gives STR 'big' boost
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.1) Scuderia Toro Rosso will enjoy a 'big advantage' if the governing body does not correct the current V10 restrictions for 2006.

That's the claim of Toyota technical director Mike Gascoyne, who voiced the ongoing concerns of most carmaker-backed teams who are honoring the sport's new V8 code.

Nicknamed 'the Bulldog', Gascoyne reckons the renamed Minardi team - now owned by the successful energy drink company Red Bull - will easily pull away from 2005 rival Jordan (Midland) next year.

Midland, like Mike's Cologne based employer, will be powered by a Toyota V8 in 2006.

''Compared to Toro Rosso,'' Gascoyne told F1Today.nl, ''Midland is at a clear disadvantage.''

Toyota is one of many carmaker teams who are calling on the FIA to update the V10 compromise, negotiated by cash-strapped Minardi's former boss Paul Stoddart.

''Toro Rosso is no longer a small, under-financed team,'' the Toyota engineer continued.

On Wednesday at Circuit de Catalunya, despite a rev-limit and air restrictor on his RB1, 'STR' driver Vitantonio Liuzzi still outpaced Anthony Davidson (BAR-Honda) and the two Cosworth V8-powered Williams'.

Gascoyne explained of the current V8 restriction: ''In the case of Minardi, we were prepared to live with it. But now we're talking about what is really a well funded team.''

'New' Toyota is F1 trick
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.1) The extremely early debut of Toyota's 'new' formula one car led to a few raised eyebrows amongst the F1 cynics.

According to whispers in the paddock, there is not a lot that is 'new' about the so-called TF106 -- indeed, even the monocoque is a mere development of the 'B' car used late in the 2005 championship.

In its initial statement, Cologne based Toyota worded carefully that TF106 - the car currently clocking up test miles in Spain - is the 'first phase of (the team's) 2006 race car'. An all-new aero package will be used in Bahrain.

''The major design change for 2006 has been the implementation of the V8 engine,'' a spokesman admitted.

''The team is under no illusions as to how much development still needs to be done.''

Some observers claim that Toyota's boasts about the very early 2006 car's debut may actually be a 'skilful bluff' to put pressure on rivals to rush their own models.

It is also rumored that Toyota will unveil a 'b' version of the TF106 car - probably with a new monocoque and front end - as early as the Spanish grand prix in May.

The initial TF106 will be officially launched on 14 January.

Alonso takes home F1 racer
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.1) Fernando Alonso has taken home a money-can't-buy present -- the Renault he drove to his historic 2005 F1 championship.

Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn presented the Spaniard, 24, his unique award at a celebration of the French-owned team's success near Paris.

''I saw a big box when I arrived this evening,'' Alonso beamed. ''To have this car at home is a dream come true!''

Ghosn said the impact of Renault's double formula one title triumph - the first ever for a mass-market car producer - has been 'enormous'.

He added: ''Now, we must exploit it.''

Button keeps V10 on song
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.1) Jenson Button made a good start to his 2006 campaign by earning 'P1' with his BAR-Honda at the first winter test in Spain.

Switching between V10-powered 2005 and 2004 BAR cars on Wednesday, the Englishman soared nearly two seconds clear of the next man -- a similarly V10-boosted Renault F25 of Frenchman Franck Montagny.

Renault's Jose Maria Lopez (V10) was third, ahead of Christian Klien (Red Bull, V10) and the first V8 in the field; Jarno Trulli's 2006 TF106.

In the other Toyota, Ricardo Zonta struck fuel pump trouble, but went quicker than another V8 -- the BMW-powered Sauber of Nick Heidfeld.

''We still have a lot of work to do,'' said Ricardo Zonta, Toyota's Brazilian test driver.

Happier, however, was BMW boss Mario Theissen. ''It was important that we could run the new engine in the Sauber chassis at this early stage,'' said the German, relieved to have seen a reliable day.

Red Bull veteran David Coulthard, meanwhile, returned to action at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya. So, too, did Anthony Davidson -- in BAR's 'concept car' which is fitted with a V8, a new gearbox and rear.

Also back on track was Australia's Mark Webber, in the dark blue Williams, while '06 teammate Nico Rosberg struggled with the Bridgestone-tired Cosworth V8 with hydraulic and pneumatic faults.

Ferrari, on the other hand, are running at two circuits this week, but staying away from Barcelona. At Valencia, Felipe Massa spun a couple of times in a F2005, while at Mugello, Marc Gene steered a V8-powered F2004 around a wet track.

Toyota to solve Trulli issue
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.1) Jarno Trulli says he has left Barcelona feeling 'positive' about Toyota's new TF106 racer.

Although the Italian earlier grumbled that he still does not feel at home with the front suspension, used on the 'b' car in 2005, he said on Wednesday that he was 'surprised' with the handling.

''In the straight away the car was correct,'' said Trulli, 31.

''It was running well and it was competitive.''

JT also got a first feel of Toyota's new Bridgestone rubber, after several years with the Cologne team and Renault on French made Michelin.

But he warned: ''We still have some work to do with the front suspension in terms of response.

''But I am confident because the engineers have been working on this for a long time.

''We hope to solve this before the first race.''

Renault v. McLaren in '06
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.1) Next year should witness a repeat of the Renault v. McLaren clash.

That is the prediction of Renault F1 president Patrick Faure, who put a 'big question mark' over whether former champions Ferrari will be able to join the title battle.

''We probably have a good (2006) package,'' he said at the team's championship celebration for employees and team partners in southern Paris.

''If I had to bet then I think it will be a fight like last year between McLaren and us.''

2005 drivers' champion, Fernando Alonso, agreed with his boss by putting himself among those who should be considered favorites for glory.

The Spaniard admitted: ''I will have the number 1 on my car so probably I will be one of the three or four ... who will be the favorites to win.''

Alonso, 24, singled out the two McLaren runners, Ferrari's Michael Schumacher, and 'Honda, if they show they are good enough in winter tests'.

''All of us could be champions at the end of 2006.''

Berger spurns 'GP Masters'
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.1) Former ten-time grand prix winner Gerhard Berger has rejected speculation that he might join old rival Nigel Mansell on next year's 'GP Masters' grid.

The Austrian and ex-Ferrari and McLaren driver, who would just qualify for the category at the age of 46, told Autosport that he had definitely turned down an offer.

''I've no interest in doing this,'' said Berger, even though further gossip hints that Alain Prost, Jody Scheckter and Nelson Piquet are considering the '06 series.

Berger drove 210 grands prix between 1984 and 1997.

He added: ''I stayed healthy all those years.

''I don't want to hurt myself.''

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone also chimed in with a bit of criticism of the Masters category, while former five-time GP winner John Watson panned Eliseo Salazar - one competitor at the Kyalami opener - as 'not exactly a GP Master'.

''It was nice to see Nigel and Murray (Walker) back in business,'' Ecclestone, 75, said, ''but whether it would work on more than a one-off basis, we'll have to wait and see.''

F1 to hit TV as comedy
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.1) The BBC is in talks with a Beverly Hills producer about making a comedy based on the world of F1.

Darren Star, creator of 'Beverly Hills 90210' and 'Sex and the City', described formula one as a 'dazzling world' that he is interested in.

''I usually take my cues for shows (from) worlds I'd like to spend time in,'' he told Variety.

''It's an enormous sport ... that barely exists (in America).

''It's a fun world to explore.''

A BBC figure has already been appointed to develop the project, the publication added.

Schu - 21-time F1 champ?
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.1) Michael Schumacher, world champion of 2019.

As far as 1978 formula one title winner Mario Andretti is concerned, Schumacher - the 36-year-old German - could theoretically be crowned world champion 21 times.

''If Schumacher wants to,'' the American told Autosprint, ''he can race until he's 50.''

Andretti, who was still competitive in IndyCars as a 54-year-old (in 1994), says being quick as 'not a physical nor a mental problem'.

''It's just about motivation.

''Your brain might become less reactive, but your greater experience helps you. If Schumacher keeps his mental condition, and considering his excellent physical preparation, then he could race for ten more years at the top.''

Indeed, Andretti won the pole at Monza '82 in a Ferrari, and would have won if not for problems with his car's turbo.

He was 41.

''Physically and mentally, I was still at the top.'' And Andretti says he made 'an error' by retiring as a 54-year-old.

''I really only needed a rest,'' he claimed.

V8 leaves DC 'disappointed'
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.1) David Coulthard says he is 'disappointed' that less horse power will haul him around the tracks of F1 in 2006.

The veteran Scot, however, is a staunch advocate of improved safety, and therefore agrees that carrying less top speed to the scene of a crash is ideal.

Although Coulthard, 34, tested with a V10 at Barcelona on Wednesday, he will be fitted with a V8 Ferrari at the Bahrain opener.

He told 'Speed TV': ''Ultimately, we'll still end up doing the big top speed, because they'll just give us the wing (levels) to achieve it.

''I'm disappointed about going to V8 and losing horse power.''

Still, Red Bull's Coulthard would rather have a Ferrari behind him than Cosworth's V8.

He endorsed Dietrich Mateschitz's decision to swap Cosworth for Ferrari in 2006, because the latter, Williams-bound engine maker is 'limited' in terms of resources.

So, will the Red Bull-Ferrari combo be competitive?

''No way of knowing,'' DC grinned.

''After all these years in F1, I would not presume to buy into the BS of simulations say this, or they say that.

''The best simulation is the racetrack.''

Zonta softens V8 slam
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.1) Ricardo Zonta has softened his stance regarding F1's move to V8 power.

Although the Brazilian slammed the 200 horse power loss when he tried Toyota's 2.4 liter unit at Jerez in September, he now hints that other tracks may not feel as 'boring'.

''It's dead easy to drive,'' the test driver said in September.

''A little girl could drive that car.''

29-year-old Zonta, however, said the quick curves at Circuit de Catalunya - just out of Barcelona - hide the fact that V8s pack less punch.

''It was very positive,'' he said on Wednesday.

''Barcelona is a good track for testing the V8 ... where we do not feel the loss of power.''

At the Spanish track on Thursday, Toyota race driver Ralf Schumacher will be in action.

GPMA open talks with F1 owner
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.1) 'GPMA' has kicked off talks with F1's new owner, a key figure of the carmakers' threatened 'breakaway' series has revealed.

Patrick Faure, Renault's team president, said the group comprising four other disgruntled F1 carmakers had now sat down for a crucial meeting with 'CVC', a British company that bought 75 per cent of the sport from Bernie Ecclestone and a German bank.

''We will keep on talking,'' the Frenchman - who said 'GPMA' also met on Tuesday - told the Reuters agency in Paris.

It is understood that the carmaker group, holding out for more influence and more revenue, has imposed a final deadline of 31 December before irreversible preparation for their 2008 world champion is moved ahead.

Faure said of the vital talks with 'CVC': ''I hope we can arrive at a reasonable solution.

''We can't wait much more -- we need to sign circuits. We are starting to launch a few things.''

The French-owned team's president also admitted speculation that the row with Bernie is mainly about revenue.

He explained: ''For the moment there is absolutely no change in our position. We are still negotiating ... to have a bigger part of the cake.

''In Hollywood, actors don't pay to be in a film.

''If the negotiations don't come off, we will do what we say.''

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