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Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
December 2,  2005


Black flag for Super Aguri
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.2) The governing FIA has rejected Super Aguri's application to race in the 2006 F1 championship.

On Thursday, the Honda-backed team's name was missing from the official list of entrants for next year, despite 'Super Aguri' meeting the deadline to apply for a spot in pitlane.

Media sources speculated that the Japanese squad had not lodged the mandatory $48m bond.

''We have notified the team that their application has been refused,'' said a spokesman.

''Any further questions should be addressed to the team.''

The prospects of Leafield-based Super Aguri, run by former Japanese GP driver Aguri Suzuki, began to flag when it became clear that it would not be permitted to race last year's BAR '007' car.

In more recent days, talks with Paul Stoddart about buying the 2002-spec Arrows A23 had supposedly taken place.

Reports of a possible late entry, which is theoretically still doable, are thought very unlikely, given that the $48m bond would still need to be lodged prior to getting the unanimous support of all teams.

But a Super Aguri source said: ''We still intend to make our entry in 2006.

''We are in process of applying for the late entry.''









Monteiro on '06 entry list
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.2) Tiago Monteiro will race for Midland's 'MF1 Racing' team in 2006, formula one's governing body - the FIA - says.

Although the Alex Shnaider-owned team has not yet followed suit with a formal announcement, the Oporto-born Portuguese incumbent, 29, was named on the official '06 entry list.

However, a team can change the driver line-up at any time prior to the season opener.

Apart from the missing Super Aguri, the list featured no other real surprises. McLaren did not name a title sponsor, although 'TBA' indicates that an announcement would soon be made.

'WilliamsF1 Team', on the other hand, neither named a sponsor nor indicated that one would be announced for 2006.

For the first time since 2000, Ferrari's Michael Schumacher will wear a number other than '1', an honor that passes to Fernando Alonso.

The 36-year-old German, instead, will be car 5.

Jacques Villeneuve's name, meanwhile, was left off the official list, even though BMW Sauber confirmed that the Canadian would race next year.









'Honda' unveil new team name
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.2) F1's Brackley based team confirmed on Thursday that it would be called 'Honda Racing F1 Team' from 2006.

The now fully Honda-owned outfit was first raced as British American Racing, more recently simply 'BAR', in 1999.

''The name has been selected to reflect Honda's rich and successful heritage in the sport,'' a team statement read.

Also taking its cue from Honda's history on the grand prix grid, the 2006 car - formerly named in the 006 (2004) and 007 (2005) sequence - will be designated 'RA106', with the V8 to be 'RA806E'.

The UK-located formula one team also confirmed that Lucky Strike would continue as title sponsor, with the BAT brand to 'continue to form the basis of the ... livery'.

However, media sources report that the 2006 car could be painted in Honda's traditional off-white, as opposed to the usual BAR white. Indeed, the current 'concept car' in action at Barcelona this week features 'Honda Racing White' as a base.

''The name reminds us all that we have the depth, determination and resource required to fulfill our racing ambitions,'' said boss Nick Fry.









Ralf's new Toyota blows up
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.2) Ralf Schumacher smoked - literally - around the track as he made his winter test return on Thursday.

The German's first run in Toyota's new TF106 was blighted by a V8 engine failure -- but he was probably amused that old Williams teammate Juan Pablo Montoya spun his McLaren in the oil.

''We have to hold up our hands and say yes, we had a failure, but that's why we test,'' said engine boss Luca Marmorini

Ralf, 30, dismissed the blow-up as a 'little engine issue' while musing about his first taste of F1's less powerful formula.

''Obviously, it's lower on power,'' he started, ''but still a very good engine with a nice torque curve and very drivable.''

What about the new 2006 car?

Ralf said: ''It felt really good and I was happy with the (Bridgestone) tires as well - they didn't feel that much different - even if there's a long way to go with a lot of work.''









Button stays on top
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.2) Jenson Button kept V10 power on top as he tested for the newly-renamed 'Honda Racing F1 Team' at Barcelona on Thursday.

The Briton, who also got his first taste of Honda's new V8 engine in the 'concept car', was trailed by teammate Anthony Davidson, who also switched between the two BARs.

Speculation in Spain suggests that Davidson, despite wanting to land a race drive elsewhere, will imminently be confirmed in the Honda-powered 'Friday' seat for 2006.

Down in seventh place, McLaren's Juan Pablo endured a difficult return to the F1 tracks -- after spinning on Ralf Schumacher's V8 oil, the Colombian struck technical trouble.

1982 world champion Keke Rosberg was spotted in the Circuit de Catalunya grandstand, watching his son Nico power down the straight in a dark blue Williams-Cosworth.

Young hopefuls Robert Kubica - believed to be GP2 bound - and Giorgio Mondini got their first taste of F1 power in a Renault, with Kubica - the Polish champion of World Series by Renault - emerging with the best time by a second.

''It should never be underestimated how difficult it is to drive one of these machines for the first time,'' said Renault's Christian Silk.

America's Scott Speed, meanwhile, got testing for Toro Rosso.

Over at Valencia, also in Spain, Felipe Massa worked alone on Bridgestone tires, while fellow Ferrari tester Marc Gene wrapped up his V8 engine test at Mugello (Italy).









Bourdais wanted BMW ride
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.2) Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais has strengthened speculation that BMW only confirmed Jacques Villeneuve's 2006 F1 race seat because it had no choice.

The Frenchman, 26, told AFP that he had been 'optimistic' about landing the Hinwil drive alongside Nick Heidfeld.

''Unfortunately,'' Bourdais said after Jacques' confirmation on Thursday, ''Villeneuve's contract was more difficult to break than expected.''

As a result, the double title winner in the US re-signed with Newman-Haas for 2006, with a 'get-out' clause for 2007 in the event that 'something opens up' in F1 pitlane.

Bourdais says he talked 'a lot' with BMW boss Mario Theissen.

He added: ''The first time ... at the end of September, I really felt some interest on his side.

''But when we met it was clear that they could not break Jacques' contract.''

Sebastien Bourdais apparently offered to be 'Friday' driver in 2006 if BMW could guarantee him a race ride the year after, but - Bourdais said - 'this ... was impossible'.

He says 2007 will be his last shot at F1's racing grid.

''It is not time to start in F1 at 30,'' the Champ Car title winner explained. ''But F1 is not an obsession.

''Many drivers would like to be in my position.''









BMW opt to keep JV millions
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.2) BMW chose to honor Jacques Villeneuve's 2006 contract because lawyers warned that the former Sauber F1 team would have lost a court challenge.

That is the information of Germany's 'Bild' newspaper, who quoted a BMW 'insider' who seemed to reinforce earlier speculation that the only opt-out clause included a multi million dollar penalty.

''The millions are more urgently needed on car development,'' the insider said.

Although plenty of back-room dealing went on, including the wooing of potential replacements for the '97 champion, 34-year-old Villeneuve reckons he 'expected' to be kept all along.

''There was a contract in place,'' he told Autosport on Thursday.

''I am still very motivated, which is why I signed the two-year deal with Sauber last year.''

JV said he's looking forward to working with new German teammate Nick Heidfeld, even if the pair are not close friends.

''But I like Nick's personality,'' Jacques said, ''and I think he's a good driver too. He has been quite impressive on a few occasions.''








Ferrari in 'fine form' - Gene
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.2) Ferrari will be back in 'fine form' next year, the Maranello team's Spanish test driver says.

Marc Gene, who this week tested the new V8 engine at Mugello while 2006 racer Felipe Massa clocked up the Bridgestone miles at Valencia, said development for the '06 car is 'going very well indeed.'

31-year-old Gene, who apparently attended Buckingham University (UK) as a student, told 'Buckingham Today' that Ferrari would settle for nothing but 'a repeat our championship glory'.

Ferrari failed to win a single race in 2006, except for the ill-fated US grand prix at which only Jordan and Minardi were also on the track.

Gene, from Sabadell near Barcelona, joined Ferrari a year ago after stints as Williams' tester and at Minardi.

He said: ''Despite the team not performing at their best this year, it has been very satisfying to complete so many laps in a Ferrari car. It has been so special for me.

''I am very confident that things are going to be really good next season.''









Monza appeals noise ban
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.2) Monza has lodged an official appeal to a recent court verdict that endangers next September's historic Italian GP.

In Milan last month, it was ruled that events at the 'Autodromo' faced bans if the noise could not be kept down. The complaint had been lodged by a group of local residents.

Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper said the Monza appeal numbered 60-pages, with the defense ranging from alleged inaccuracies in the testing of noise levels, to the apparent bias of judge Marco Manunta.

Indeed, magistrate Manunta - in his court ruling - had called motor racing 'a superfluous, dangerous and socially useless activity with a big impact on the environment.'

The appeal's verdict is due in the New Year.









V8s would be better - Fisi
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.2) Giancarlo Fisichella has admitted that it would be 'better' if Renault was already testing with a V8 engine.

Every other top team - including Williams, Ferrari, McLaren, BMW and Honda - is now hard at work on the winter F1 test tracks with early versions of their 2.4 litre V8s in 'hybrid' chassis.

Toyota, all the while, is clocking up the miles with its 2006 car.

But Renault, the 2005 constructors' and drivers' champion - but not the highest funded in pitlane - says it will keep the V8 on the Viry dynos until the New Year.

But Fisichella told Autosport: ''The best thing to do is to have the car as soon as possible, but sometimes it is better to ... take the time to build the car perfectly.''

The 31-year-old Roman concedes that Renault followed a similar regime last year -- and won both titles.

The Renault V8 will hit the track on January 10, Fisichella hinted.

But he continued: ''It is better if you run already now with the new car but if it is reliable then there is no problem running later at all.''

Team boss Flavio Briatore earlier slammed the widespread practice of running V8s in hybrid cars as 'useless'.

''What's the use,'' the Italian asked 'Autosprint' magazine, ''(when) you can do (it) on the test bench without moving people and equipment?''









Montoya and Raikkonen
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.2) Juan Pablo Montoya's relationship with McLaren teammate Kimi Raikkonen is 'changing', according to the Colombian driver.

JPM, 30, says that as he started to match Finn Raikkonen's pace in 2005, 'you see things changing a bit'.

''But we get on really good,'' he quipped hastily in an interview with 'Autosport'.

Undoubtedly, it hurt Latin Montoya's pride big-time this year, when - championship hopes faded - he moved into a support role for Kimi's title charge.

He insisted: ''I didn't do it for Kimi, I did it for Ron (Dennis).''

Juan Pablo thinks his 'changing' relationship with Raikkonen is merely about finding a competitive environment within his new team.

For example, he surprisingly describes his relationship today with ex-Williams teammate Ralf Schumacher as 'really good' -- and he wouldn't have said that a year ago.

Montoya explained: ''I don't have problems with Kimi.

''But at the beginning of the year when things were a lot easier for him ... it was a lot more relaxed relationship.''

Indeed, in the last five grands prix of 2005, Kimi and Juan Pablo each won twice. But it has been a tumultuous season for the Bogota-born driver.

However, 'tennis' injuries and on-track scuffles aside, Montoya says he is getting along better with his boss, McLaren team principal Ron Dennis.

''You know, Ron is a strange guy,'' Montoya said.

''Not in a bad way, but he's a guy that wants perfection (but) I'm a Latin -- I'm a little bit on the other side!''









Graham Hill
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.2) It is now three decades since 1962 and 1968 world champion Graham Hill's tragic plane crash.

As a team owner, returning from a test in France on 29 November 1975 with his promising young driver on board, he and Tony Brise - and five other team members - died when the private plane crashed in fog on a golf course.

''His plane caught the top of trees and ploughed into another tree and caught fire,'' photographer Rob Brewster - one of the first on the scene in England - told the 'This is Hertfordshire' publication this week.

Hill, 46, was the plane's pilot.

He is remembered as a great British driver and a larger-than-life character, full of jokes and the soul of any party.

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