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 technical bosses.

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 Felipe Massa.

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 Villeneuve.

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 Michelle Yeoh.

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 terms'.

''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 that.''

Albers' optimism
(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 faces.''

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 seat.

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 much longer.

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 power.

''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 interest.

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 Beat Zender.

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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