Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
December 9,  2005

Honda lose aero man
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.9) Honda's senior aerodynamicist, Willem Toet, has left the team formerly known as BAR, it is reported.

The Dutchman, who grew up in Australia, started his F1 career at Toleman, later working for Benetton, Reynard and - just before BAR - Ferrari.

Toet joined BAR in 1999. Reports said he has left the Brackley squad with immediate effect.

Meanwhile, Autosport magazine claims that Jaguar and Red Bull's David Stubbs has left the team, but that the Milton-Keynes outfit has picked up Toyota's Gianfranco Fanduzzi to become team manager.

The movements come after Adrian Newey's recent switch from McLaren to Red Bull, and persistent speculation that Nicolas Tombazis is also leaving the Woking based squad.

More sun for Jerez run
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.9) Winter testing continued at Spain's warm 'Jerez' track on Thursday.

Although he headed off to the medical centre at lunch, Ferrari's Luca Badoer - after just 15 laps - topped the busy field numbering 17 drivers.

Honda's Jenson Button was second quickest with his V8, while Renault, Toyota, Williams, McLaren, Red Bull, BMW Sauber and MF1 Racing - every team except Scuderia Toro Rosso - clocked up miles.

While many teams will continue running in southern Spain, Renault announced at the end of the day that it would return to Jerez next Wednesday for another 3-day test.

Toyota's Jarno Trulli arrived at noon to replace the injured Ralf Schumacher. ''Just as in Barcelona,'' he said, ''the new car feels well balanced and we did lots of laps.''

On his second and last outing in the same TF106, though, Ryan Briscoe was a touch quicker, despite a hydraulic issue.

However, the Australian's problems didn't match Tiago Monteiro's, as the Portuguese debuted in new Midland colors. He managed just 25 laps with a series of car trouble.

''I guess this is what winter tests are for,'' he shrugged.

MF1 to test del Monte
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.9) Italian hopeful Fabrizio del Monte will test for the Midland-owned formula one team this week.

'MF1 Racing' announced on Thursday that the 2005 Champ Car and F3000 Italia driver would run at Jerez on Saturday.

Del Monte, 25 - who raced twice in the American Champ Car series this year - tested Minardi's F1 car back in 2003.

At the Spanish 'Circuito de Jerez' on Thursday, Jeffrey van Hooydonk got his first taste of F1 power with the 2005-spec EJ15 'Jordan' racer.

''I did not feel very comfortable in the car,'' the Belgian 28-year-old explained.

''But now that I am used to the seat, unfortunately the day is over. I hope in the future I'll have another opportunity.''

Thomas Biagi has also tested this week for Midland's MF1 Racing at Jerez, as will German youngster Markus Winkelhock.

Shaken Badoer goes home
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.9) Luca Badoer's huge shunt at the 'Ducados' bend at Jerez on Thursday was a near mirror-image of his Wednesday excursion.

At about noon, the right-front suspension on his 2005 Ferrari failed -- just as it had the day before, at the same corner, at about 220 kph.

Italian Badoer, 34, suffered a frightening ride over the gravel and deep into a tire barrier, but - despite having to visit the medical centre - was unhurt.

''The team decided not to continue ... until the cause ... was identified,'' read a statement. Ferrari also admitted that the breakage looked the same as it had on Wednesday.

Race driver Michael Schumacher is due to test at the Spanish circuit next week.

''Luca is okay,'' a Ferrari spokesman said from the Spanish circuit, ''and that is the most important thing. Now we have to examine why the same accident as yesterday happened today.

''The car is completely destroyed.''

Badoer has returned home to rest.

JV hails V8 era
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.9) Jacques Villeneuve has surprisingly hailed F1's advent of V8 power.

The French Canadian, who can always be relied on to offer a forthright opinion, tried his new 2.4 liter BMW engine for size at Jerez on Thursday.

''We'll go less fast on the straight,'' the BMW Sauber racer said in Spain, ''so hopefully we'll get a bigger tow which could mean more overtaking.''

34-year-old Jacques' first day as the Hinwil-based team's confirmed 2006 driver got off to an unpleasant start when an engine oil filter problem left him stranded -- on his first out-lap.

After reading his rivals' comments about the V8s, he admitted to a bit of surprise when he finally got to sample the new 700 horse power grunt.

Villeneuve said: ''I had expected a bigger loss of power and more vibration. It was not too bad and actually quite nice to drive. It doesn't make driving less fun.

''You are going slower on the straight, but the driving will still be exciting and physical.''

Cologne based Toyota's ring-in Ryan Briscoe agreed that the power loss compared to the V10 is not as big as feared.

''So that's a good sign,'' the Australian test driver added.

A third shunt at Jerez
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.9) DTM champion Gary Paffett became the third driver to crash at Thursday's Jerez test in Spain.

Like Ferrari's Luca Badoer and fellow McLaren pilot Alex Wurz, Paffett - tipped to take Wurz's spot at Woking if the Austrian is handed a role elsewhere - felt the wall at the sunny former grand prix venue.

The 24-year-old's new Mercedes-Benz V8 engine failed while he was powering down the main straight after lunch.

''As his rear wheels locked,'' a McLaren team statement explained, ''the car span backwards into a wall.''

McLaren also confirmed at Jerez that it was investigating the cause of Alex Wurz's unexplained shunt. Although unhurt, Wurz's V8-powered MP4-20 was 'badly damaged', but later repaired.

Marques to land 'MF1' ride
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.9) Suddenly, former Minardi racer Tarso Marques' claim that he is on the way back to formula one does not seem so odd.

The 29-year-old pay-driver said last week that - after racing in 1997 and 2001 - he was on the verge of returning to the pinnacle of motor sport.

At the time, he said he would test in 2006 'and race in 2007'.

Moreover, speculation insisted that the 26-grand prix veteran was always bound for Midland, even if 'MF1' appeared to have tied up the lineup.

But now, with Nicky Pastorelli likely to lose his 'Friday' ride because a sponsor pulled out, Marques told the Brazilian 'Grande Premio' website that he had already signed a preliminary contract.

''They called me,'' the Brazilian added, ''and asked me if I wanted the seat. I'm now standing by -- I wish things could be resolved quickly so I can already test.'''

Monday to resolve Spa future
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.9) The long term future of Spa-Francorchamps' embattled Belgian GP will be decided soon.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone told Belgian 'RTBF' television that a definitive meeting with the Walloon government would be held on Monday.

''We are in a very serious position of negotiations,'' the 75-year-old said, according to a translated transcript.

Bernie said the Monday meeting is to 'conclude an agreement' where he would take over as the race's promoter.

The news comes amid a Belgian scandal, where a 'guarantee' in the bankrupt promoter's contract would have compelled the government to organize the race or face huge penalties.

Bernie Ecclestone continued: ''And we don't want it for just one year. We want long term stability. So that is what we will try to achieve.''

Spa has a September 17 date on the 2006 grand prix calendar.

Alonso to collect F1 crown
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.9) Fernando Alonso will collect his official world championship trophy in Monaco on Friday evening.

The Principality, scene of the annual grand prix in May, will play host to the governing FIA's prize giving night.

24-year-old Spaniard Alonso's grand prix team, Renault, will also be presented with the constructors' title crown.

Meanwhile, as the only carmaker-backed team yet to track test a V8 engine, Renault said on Friday that the 2006 'RS26' unit is 'on time'.

''We have almost completed our initial phase of performance development,'' the team's Viry-based V8 project manager Leon Taillieu commented.

''Encouragingly we have attained our targets. We have not taken any major risks with this engine -- we are building on what we know.''

The first 2.4 liter Renault will hit the track in mid-January.

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