Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
December 8, 2005
Midland make track debut
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.8) With a shiny new paint-job, Midland's
'MF1' team made its track debut at Jerez on Wednesday.
Though ultimately slowest of the fifteen car field in Spain,
the red, black and grey interim model - powered by the new
Toyota V8 and steered by former Minardi racer Christijan
Albers - went through 'all the necessary checks', the team
Notably, the interim car featured significant 'JVC'
branding, after Midland announced a sponsorship deal with
Christijan's personal backer.
Albers' '06 teammate Tiago Monteiro, who will drive on
Thursday, watched on, while hopeful Thomas Biagi ran a
''We still have a lot of work to do,'' 26-year-old Albers
''We have been trying to get the car to suit my driving
style, however this is not easy and it takes time. We had
some little issues today but I think this is normal with a
new engine and a new package.
''Hopefully it will get much better by the end of the
Team technical director James Key, meanwhile, admitted that
Midland also has 'some work to do with Bridgestone on the
new tyres ... for next year'.
Briscoe in for ill Panis
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.8) Australia's Ryan Briscoe made a surprise
return to the cockpit of a formula one Toyota, at Jerez on
Only recently recovered from an horror Indy Racing League
crash, the Cologne based team's former 2004 test driver was
a late ring-in after Olivier Panis reported ill.
It is understood that Panis, the 39-year-old veteran, is
struggling with kidney stones.
Despite Briscoe's huge recent shunt and hospital stay,
Toyota reported that the driver suffered 'no ill effects'
after nearly 80 test laps.
His last outing on a track, Ryan's first since the fiery
Chicago accident, was in a F3 car.
''It feels great,'' Briscoe enthused after his day ended
with engine failure. ''It was good fun to be back behind the
wheel of a F1 car again. There's nothing like it. It didn't
take long to get back into the swing of things.''
A sunny day in Spain
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.8) Eight grand prix teams kicked off the
second major test of the winter off-period on Wednesday.
At Spain's southern Jerez circuit, every outfit except BMW
and Scuderia Toro Rosso clocked up the miles at a session
that will ultimately extend through to late next week.
Under warm sunshine, Renault's Franck Montagny led the
fifteen-strong field in his restricted V10 Renault, ahead of
Ferrari tester Marc Gene.
Toyota, Honda, Williams, McLaren, Red Bull and MF1 also ran.
Notably, tester Luca Badoer's day with a restricted V10
engine fitted to his F2005 car ended with front right
Honda, meanwhile, unveiled a second 'concept car', fitted
with the entire rear end of the 2006 specification machine,
shaken down by youngster James Rossiter ahead of Jenson
Narain in Williams spin
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.8) Narain Karthikeyan enjoyed a mixed track
debut for the Williams team at Wednesday's Jerez test.
The Indian pay-driver, who made his grand prix debut for
Jordan this year, is in the running to land the vacant
'Friday' seat at Grove in 2006.
Technical director Sam Michael said the 28-year-old 'familiarised
himself' with the Cosworth powered interim car, 'carrying
out long runs, system checks and calibration work'.
But Karthikeyan also had a spin, forcing him to abandon the
Bridgestone tyred car on track.
He redeemed himself, however, by going fifth quickest out of
the fifteen on track, even managing to outpace Williams'
2006 racing rookie, Nico Rosberg.
'Rosberg Jr' defends Williams
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.8) Williams' Nico Rosberg has defended his
first F1 employer against criticism that the former
championship winning team is deep in crisis.
Not only has BMW forsaken the Grove squad, so too has former
title sponsor 'HP', while contracted '06 driver Jenson
Button spent much of this year wiggling out of the deal.
''Why should it worry me?'' said 20-year-old Rosberg - the
son of '82 champion Keke - who is testing at Jerez this
Referring to Button's choice to pay compensation to Frank
Williams out of his own pocket rather than drive, Rosberg
continued: ''It is obvious that I don't know his motives.
''Ok, it gave me my chance to make my debut. So it could not
have been better for me.''
Nico referred to Williams' long history of success in
formula one. ''There is hardly a team that can surpass their
experience and achievement,'' said the German.
''Ok, the engine situation has changed and perhaps the new
combination does not look as promising. But that can only be
helpful for a young driver.
''Then, expectations will not be so high.''
Rosberg also thinks the new V8 rules might favour
Oxfordshire based Williams, with a new Cosworth partnership.
''As everyone already knows,'' Nico said, ''there is hardly
a manufacturer with as much V8 experience as them.''
FIA revamp contentious court
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.8) F1's governing body hopes an overhaul of
its court of appeal will help to end criticisms that the
system is unfair.
The FIA announcement coincided with Williams' signing of the
2008 Concorde Agreement, and amidst the prospect of a series
split with as many as five carmakers.
It was revealed by the Paris based body that one of the
court's existing judges has stood down, with two new and
highly respected lawyers moving in.
The questionable independence of the court has been referred
to by the breakaway 'GPMA' as a point of major contention.
The FIA also said that an annual 'Congress' of the court
will be held annually, including reviews of the system and
possible changes. The first will be held this week.
''(The court's) procedures remain fully independent,
transparent, fair, efficient, and an example of best
practice in contemporary sports governance,'' read a
Aguri has 'even' chance
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.8) F1 boss Nick Fry has put the odds of an
eleventh team making it to the '06 grid at 'better than
Honda's principal, after it emerged that not every team had
so far signed a document that would allow 'Super Aguri' to
re-apply to the FIA, admitted that the required unanimity is
The Japanese team, led by former grand prix driver Aguri
Suzuki, would use current Honda V8 engines, and - reportedly
- even benefit from the carmaker's financial backing.
Fry told the BBC: ''I think there is a better than evens
chance they will be on the grid.''
He also suggested that progress at Arrows' old Leafield base
is progressing well.
''In terms of physically being able to get on the grid, I
think they've got a good chance,'' Nick Fry added.
F1 split on road to repair
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.8) Williams signed up to Bernie
Ecclestone's new Concorde Agreement because the F1 chief's
new offer is 'a good one'.
That is the admission of the Grove team's chief executive
Chris Chapple, although he stopped short of conceding that
Williams did it for the money.
'(That) is absolute hogwash.''
Bernie's 2008 commercial deal - also signed by Ferrari,
Midland, Red Bull and (inevitably) Toro Rosso - is said to
include up to 45 per cent more of the sport's revenue to
split between them.
But Chapple insisted: ''If we were doing it for money then
we would have done it six months ago when we lost HP.''
He conceded that Bernie and the FIA had not caved in to the
'breakaway' carmakers' every demand, but 'what was left off
the list was not enough (to join) a rival series'.
According to Honda boss Nick Fry, Bernie's latest offer is
indeed breaking down barriers between Concorde and the
He said talks have become 'extremely constructive'.
''I think there will be more movement,'' Fry predicted,
''probably not before Christmas but ... by the time we go to
Bahrain next year, I'd hope (the threat is over).''
Alonso ignores title critique
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.8) World champion Fernando Alonso says he
is not bothered that, according to many observers, title
rival Kimi Raikkonen was 2005's 'driver of the year'.
The Spaniard, now the youngest ever drivers' title holder,
reckons denigration of the champion is pretty 'normal'.
''People always say this at the end of a championship,''
24-year-old Alonso explained. ''When (Mika) Hakkinen won ...
they said Michael was best but he did not have the car.
''When Williams dominated in the 90s it was said that Senna
would have won in that car.''
Criticism of Alonso's driving this year, though, probably
stems from the fact that - after a stellar beginning and end
- he feathered the throttle in the summer in order to
protect his title lead.
But he insisted: ''I had to think about the big prize.''
Alonso will return to the tracks for a single test day in
the south of Spain next week.
Rally star wants Ferrari test
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.8) World rally champion Sebastien Loeb says
he has asked for a test in Ferrari's F1 single seater.
The Frenchman told the 'italiaracing' website that he
informed countryman Jean Todt that he would 'love' to try
Michael Schumacher's racer.
But he hinted that he wouldn't push his luck with the
struggling Italian team right now.
Loeb added: ''But I'll push for it again soon, as soon as
Ferrari go back to winning ways.''
'STR' to race own car
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.8) Red Bull has calmed speculation that
rookie formula one team, Scuderia Toro Rosso, intend to race
the 2005 'RB1' next year.
Many observers' alarm bells sounded when the former Minardi
team used the current Red Bull car in winter testing at
Barcelona last week.
But Red Bull Racing's technical operations director Gunther
Steiner denied that 'STR' would race the RB1 in Bahrain.
He told Gazzetta dello Sport: ''The car that debuts in
Bahrain will be fully built in Faenza.''
Scuderia Toro Rosso's newly-named lead driver, meanwhile,
reckons the Italian-based team can - with Red Bull ownership
- rise from the bottom of the constructors' ranking.
''I think there are the conditions to be in the top eight,''
Vitantonio Liuzzi - a veteran of 4 grands prix - told the
paper. ''I've found a very motivated team ... with some
unsettled business in F1.''
FIA tweak 'knockout' format
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.8) It is understood that F1's teams have
been informed about a change to the new 'knockout'
qualifying format for next year.
According to a source in the Italian press, a loophole in
the proposed regulation had been identified by several
concerned teams, and discussed with Charlie Whiting, of the
FIA, at the recent technical directors' meeting.
Previously, the top ten cars simply needed to declare how
much fuel they were running prior to the final 20-minute
Then, at the end of the session, the car would be permitted
to re-fuel to that fuel level for the grand prix.
But it was apparently feared that some teams would declare a
high fuel load before the session, then somehow use, or
leak, a large quantity of the fuel on the out-laps. In so
doing, a low fuel load - and therefore a lighter and quicker
car - would be guaranteed for qualifying, but the car could
then start the race with a decent fuel load.
The details of how the FIA intend to close the loophole is
not known, but it is speculated that the amount of fuel used
during the final qualifying stint will be worked out by the
FIA by using calculations based on normal V8-spec F1 fuel
In this way, if a car has 'leaked' its fuel, the team will
only be able to re-fill the car based on normal fuel
calculations. A very light car for qualifying, then, will
still be light for the race.
The news is likely to draw yet more criticism from those who
think the 'knockout' format was already too complicated.
Injured Ralf quits test
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.8) Ralf Schumacher pulled out of
Wednesday's Jerez test when he complained of pain in his
The German driver, 30 - who broke back bones in a horror
Indy shunt in 2004 - stopped after running 66 laps in his
2006-spec Toyota before lunch.
A team spokesman said Ralf reported 'some discomfort in his
''In order not to risk aggravating the problem, the team
decided to end his test early.''
2006 teammate Jarno Trulli is on his way to Spain to replace
the winner of six GPs.
Technical director Mike Gascoyne admitted that Schumacher
seems to have aggravated an old back injury.
He added: ''It's not a major problem but ... we did not want
to make the problem worse.''
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