Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
December 5, 2005
Ralf's V8 'coffee machine'
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.5) Ralf Schumacher has spiced up his appraisal of
F1's new V8 formula.
Last week at Barcelona, the Toyota driver tried a 2.4 liter engine in
the new 'TF106' for the first time, and praised a 'very good engine
with a nice torque curve'.
But Ralf, the 30-year-old German, has now joked to the press that the
V8 - about a 200bhp step down for the sport - felt like it featured
'the torque of a coffee machine'.
He saved a good word, however, for Bridgestone, after spending years
on the rubber of tire rival Michelin.
''The tires seem consistent and fast,'' 'Schu Jr' said. ''I don't
believe Ferrari failed to win the championship because of them.'''
Wurz handed McLaren deadline
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.5) Alex Wurz has got until Friday to decide whether
to spend yet another year as McLaren tester.
The experienced Austrian, earlier linked with the now-occupied second
BMW racing seat, has - according to the German 'Auto, Motor und Sport'
publication - been handed a deadline of this Friday (December 9) to
accept Ron Dennis' new contract proposal.
Wurz's current deal runs out on 31 December.
Desperate to race again, for the first time since 2000 with Benetton,
it is believed that 31-year-old Wurz could accept an offer from BMW to
be the team's 'Friday' driver in 2006.
Then, in 2007, he could take Jacques Villeneuve's race cockpit.
Indeed, it is rumored that the only stumbling block to a race deal in
'06 was that Wurz is a lot taller than Nick Heidfeld, whose petite
frame the new car is built around.
''Nothing is fixed, that's the next thing we deal with,'' BMW boss
Mario Theissen said at the marque's end of season party in Austria.
''We have options in both directions; a young promising guy or an
experienced test driver.''
Loeb wins 'RoC' in Paris
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.5) World rally champion Sebastien Loeb is now also
'champion of champions' after winning the novel head-to-head event at
Paris' packed Stade de France.
The Frenchman takes over the crown from 2004 winner Heikki Kovalainen,
Renault's new formula one 'third' driver, who stumbled at the
semi-final by getting beaten - by a tiny margin - by Tom Kristensen.
Kristensen then crashed in the final.
60,000 fans gathered at the stadium, where a snaking one kilometer
circuit had been built.
F1's contingent struggled against top-flight drivers from other worlds
of motor sport. 2005 Minardi driver Christijan Albers crashed - with a
gearbox glitch - in his first duel with NASCAR's Jeff Gordon, while
David Coulthard, and Felipe Massa (who did beat former Ferrari driver
Jean Alesi) also failed to make the grand final.
Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon was beaten easily by Sebastien Bourdais,
of Champ Car. Nelson Piquet Jr fell to eventual finalist Kristensen,
as did Red Bull's grand prix veteran, Coulthard.
Trulli wants Toyota win
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.5) Jarno Trulli says he will charge to become the
first driver to win a F1 race for Toyota in 2006.
Despite leading German teammate Ralf Schumacher for most of this year,
31-year-old JT fell behind when he struggled with the 'b' 2005 car.
''Next year I intend to give Toyota its first victory,'' Trulli told
the 'ANSA' agency at the Bologna Motor Show in Italy.
However, Trulli found that the suspension problem he had with the
TF105B has been replicated in Toyota's new car.
But he praised the Cologne based team's new collaboration with
Japanese tire supplier Bridgestone. ''They didn't seem too bad at all
at Barcelona (last week),'' Trulli told La Gazzetta dello Sport, ''but
it was really too cold to get to a really definitive answer.''
Rosberg, Flying 'German'
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.5) That '06 rookie Nico Rosberg wears a German flag
on his overalls is no easy concept for many F1 fans.
After all, isn't he the 20-year-old son of 1982 championship winner
Keke Rosberg -- the original 'Flying Finn'?
But Nico, like his mother, was born in Germany (Wiesbaden). And,
although he speaks four languages - German, English, French and
Italian - he hardly knows a word of his dad's native tongue.
His passport is a German one.
''Nico grew up as a German,'' Keke Rosberg explained. ''We speak
German at home, he did a lot of racing in Germany -- so it is an
obvious choice to us.''
FIA wing not dead - FIA
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.5) A radical rear wing, proposed by the governing
FIA, has not been killed by a meeting last Friday of F1's ten
Although not a single team's technical director voted in favor of the
'Centerline Downwash Generating' wing, that only means that the
concept - to improve overtaking - will not debut in '07.
A spokesman for the sport's governing body insisted that, despite the
vote, the 'subsequent discussion was very positive'.
''(We) consider it is only a matter of 'when' and not 'if' for the new
wing,'' he told Reuters.
BMW 'expect' JV to perform
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.5) BMW Sauber 'expect' Jacques Villeneuve to match
2006 teammate Nick Heidfeld's pace.
That's the insistence of likely new team principal Mario Theissen, who
at BMW's end-of-year party at Seefeld repeated that the French
Canadian's deal will be honored.
''The relationship is okay,'' Germany's Theissen said in Austria.
''We had some meetings and its perfect now.''
But, he hinted, perhaps unlike this year, there will not be any team
patience to allow JV, 34, to get up to speed.
Villeneuve, now with a Peter Sauber-signed contract to race in 2005
and 2006, took a forced sabbatical in 2004 and struggled against
Dr Theissen added: ''So there's no reason why he shouldn't be strong
from the beginning.
''He'll get the same support as Nick and we expect him to be as strong
as Nick (Heidfeld).''
The BMW boss also admitted that the Munich marque 'checked out the
situation' with 'several' possible replacements for Jacques
Todt buys Malaysian home
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.5) Ferrari boss Jean Todt has bought a holiday home
in Pulau Duyong (Malaysia).
The 'Bernama' publication reported that Frenchman Todt, 59, acquired
the property so he can spend more time with actress and fiancÚ
On the island at the weekend, Todt was again asked about his rumored
engagement to Yeoh.
''I have not decided when and where. I will let you know.''
Kimi pips Alonso again
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.5) Title runner-up Kimi Raikkonen has taken home
another consolation to losing the '05 championship to Fernando Alonso
-- the 'International Racing Driver of the Year' trophy.
At the Autosport Awards in London, dressed in a tuxedo, the Finn, 26,
beat drivers' world champion Alonso to the prize.
Also at Grosvenor hotel, Bernie Ecclestone accepted a lifetime award,
Kimi's MP4-20 McLaren won best car, Pat Symonds (Renault) took home a
gong, and Jordan's Tiago Monteiro was named rookie of the year.
British youngster Oliver Jarvis, meanwhile, scored a McLaren test
drive as the latest 'McLaren Autosport BRDC' winner, and IRL champ Dan
Wheldon is 'British Driver of the Year'.
David Coulthard and Jenson Button were also in the audience.
''I've been in Lanzarote,'' Honda's Button told Autosport, ''which
doesn't sound like a good place to train ... but I've been training
there for twelve days.''
'We're still friends'
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.5) 'We're all still friends.'
Sir Frank Williams' appearance at the end-of-year BMW party in the
wintry Austrian town of Seefeld might have been quite brief, but it
carried a poignant message.
Also insisting that Cosworth-powered drivers Mark Webber and Nico
Rosberg show up to farewell Williams' six-year engine partner,
Williams said his Oxfordshire based team and BMW had parted 'on good
''BMW and Williams will remain friends,'' he confirmed.
And Webber, 29, told 'Sport1': ''My contract with Williams runs until
the end of 2006. Who knows -- maybe I'll come back (to BMW) after
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.5) There's not a lot of yellow left in Silverstone's
old Jordan factory.
Now owned and occupied by Midland's 'MF1 Racing' team, 2006 driver
Christijan Albers revealed that the team's new management has been
busy with pots of paint in recent times.
''Everything is already in the new colors -- even the floor,'' the
Dutchman told 'Formule 1 Magazin' when recalling a recent visit to HQ.
Christijan, 26, is optimistic about the future of the Alex
Shnaider-owned team, whose racers fought against Albers' back marking
Minardi this year.
''Midland is really investing in the team,'' he said, ''into the
factory, into the wind tunnel and into the personnel.
''There are plenty of Jordan team members here but also a lot of new
Albers also said next year's 'M16' car is being worked on for '36
hours' each day -- 24 hours in the Northamptonshire wind tunnel and 12
more by Dallara.
'Stay glued to Honda, JB'
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.5) Honda is Jenson Button's 'best and only chance' at
a formula one title.
That's the claim of former team owner Eddie Jordan, who said the
Englishman's constant team-swapping and mind-changing was beginning to
rule out any future title bid.
''In all their years, BAR have never won a race,'' Ireland's Jordan
said, ''but Honda have a completely different mindset.
''I should know -- they brought me my first win.''
EJ, then, has a simple tip for Button, the 26-year-old Playboy --
'stay glued to the Honda dream'.
''Jenson should forget other teams,'' Jordan added. ''He ruled himself
out of many winning teams (but) now that Honda have bought BAR, this
team are his best and only chance of winning the title.''
BMW delay criticized
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.5) Former grand prix driver Hans-Joachim Stuck has
criticized BMW for waiting so long to confirm Jacques Villeneuve's
Stuck, the German veteran of 74 grands prix in the 70s, said he cannot
think of a better option for BMW-Sauber's first year on the grid.
''His huge experience, his condition, his form, his market value --
everything,'' said the former Le Mans winner.
Stuck, 55, continued: ''It is incomprehensible to me, why BMW delayed
the decision for so long.
''It is certainly not a confidence boost for Jacques.''
The former grand prix driver also hit out at BMW chief executive
Helmut Panke's alleged statement to Mario Theissen that the new works
team must be winning races in 2007.
''In two years, in formula one, it can't be done,'' Hans-Joachim Stuck
said. ''Panke's statement also unfairly increases expectations.''
He added: ''I believe BMW will not take too long to make progress. But
catching the big five - Renault, McLaren, Ferrari, Toyota and Honda -
that is a major task.''
Toyota launch too early
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.5) Toyota have launched their 2006 car too early,
rival technical director Geoff Willis has hinted.
Although not referring directly to the TF106, the first complete 2006
racer to already be clocking up the winter test miles, Honda's Willis
suggested that a wiser policy is to keep a new car in the wind tunnel
Formerly known as BAR, Honda is testing the 2006 car's rear-end in a
so-called 'concept' interim chassis, with the entire package due to
roll out in Spain on 25 January.
Willis told Autosport: ''It is likely we will get more out of the car
from the wind tunnel.
''It is preferable to launch on a later date.''
'Fed up' F1 fans
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.5) Gary Anderson has hit out at formula one's latest
raft of rules.
The Ulsterman, former long-time technical director at Jordan, told
'Setanta' that the carmakers could have avoided the switch to V8
''They had an alternative ... in the form of a rev limiter in the V10
engines,'' he marveled, ''but they all said no.''
Anderson reckons the V10 regs, together with the two-race per engine
rule, was a 'decent money saver'. But he insisted that V8 development
is now bringing the check books out again: ''All that money saved is
now being spent,'' Gary said, ''and it's sad.''
Toyota driver Jarno Trulli, meanwhile, sees an even more serious
side-effect of relentlessly changing rules -- the decline of spectator
The Italian told La Gazzetta dello Sport: ''People are getting fed up
over having to study the rule changes every season.
''This is not good for the sport.''
Tost exit won't hurt BMW
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.5) The loss of 'track operations manager' Franz Tost
will not hurt BMW, Dr Mario Theissen has insisted.
The veteran Austrian is off to Minardi, to lead the Italian team's new
Red Bull identity as 'Scuderia Toro Rosso'.
''It won't hurt the team,'' the Munich based carmaker's Theissen,
referring to Tost, told the 'Reuters' news agency.
German-born Mario Theissen said two men, in the former Williams
collaboration, effectively led BMW as team manager -- Franz Tost and
He added: ''Beat will stay in this position for the future.''
Heidfeld hails JV decision
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.5) Nick Heidfeld has welcomed the fact that Jacques
Villeneuve will be his BMW teammate in 2006.
The German, arriving with the Munich carmaker from Williams, suggested
that incumbent Villeneuve is a good choice for a new F1 outfit.
''He has a lot of experience so he knows the tracks,'' said 'Quick
Nick', who made his GP debut with Prost in 2000.
Villeneuve, 34, was the world champion of 1997 with Williams.
Heidfeld, 28, continued: ''A rookie, who has first to learn the
tracks, would not be able to help develop the car.''
At the BMW party in Seefeld (Austria), Heidfeld was also asked what he
thought about F1's switch from V10 to V8 power.
Referring to his first Sauber test in Barcelona last week, he replied:
''You've just got to adjust. The V10 was of course more fun, but 700
horse power is pretty good too.''
2005 teammate Mark Webber also showed his face at Seefeld, and mused
not only about getting used to different engine power, but a whole new
engine supplier (Cosworth).
Williams' continuing driver, 29, explained: ''But I am not sure that
Cosworth is going to be a problem. More crucial for us is developing a
car for the Bridgestone tires.''
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