Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
December 14,  2005

Alonso set for test return
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.14) As well as multiple champion Michael Schumacher, 2005 title winner Fernando Alonso will return to track action at the Jerez test in Spain this week.

The final test of 2005 kicked off at the chilly coastal venue on Tuesday, with Ferrari's Felipe Massa - controlling a limited V10 - heading a field of six.

Toyota, McLaren and BMW-Sauber also started on Tuesday, with most other teams to commence running on Wednesday. Spain's Alonso will drive the rev-limited V10 Renault car on Friday.

Michael Schumacher will drive on Thursday and Friday.

McLaren tester Gary Paffett got Tuesday off to a slippery start by spinning his V8-powered car on the very first lap. Sources said the track was a frosty 2-degrees in the morning, meaning that teams stayed in their garages until the track warmed up.

''(Gary's) car remained on the tarmac and was undamaged,'' McLaren said in defense of the spin.

Also of note on Tuesday was Franck Perera, the French driver who is part of Toyota's driver development program. He clocked 61 laps in the team's new TF106 car.

In the other 2006 contender was Ricardo Zonta, who earlier slammed V8 power as something even 'little girls' could handle. But he said on Tuesday: ''I must say I am getting used to the V8 car now.''

FIA told to stop 'meddling'
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.14) 1964 world champion John Surtees has told formula one's governing body, the FIA, to stop 'meddling' with the sport.

The 71-year-old, today team boss for Britain's 'A1' team, called FIA regulations like the one-engine-per-two-races rule 'wrong' and believes that less restrictions might actually lead to lower costs.

''I think, if we're going to have regulations, they need to be a little more imaginative,'' Surtees, who also won world championships on motorcycles, told crash.net.

He said F1's Paris-based regulator is 'constantly' making 'mistakes', such as making changes to the size of a F1 engine in a bid to increase safety.

''It is constructors who have been largely responsible for safety,'' Surtees charged, adding that better engineering - not tricky FIA rules - made the modern F1 car stronger.

He also explained that F1 'needs' the manufacturers, like BMW and Honda, to develop new technology that can be 'passed on and (then) bring commercial benefits'.

Mansell plots sons' road to F1
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.14) Nigel Mansell has unleashed his two sons onto a path that could lead to the formula one grid.

The 1992 world champion has sealed a deal with the single-seater Formula BMW championship in Britain, to become an ambassador, but also supporting Greg (17) and Leo (20) Mansell's debuts.

Williams' new rookie, Nico Rosberg - the son of 1982 champion Keke - won the German version of Formula BMW back in 2002.

''Dad was actually keen for me to pursue a career in golf,'' Greg Mansell - an excellent golfer - said, ''but it is great to have his backing.''

Other high profile sons to have made it in F1's big league include 1996 champion Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve, who won the championship in '97.

52-year-old Mansell said: ''I've always told them there are far better ways to earn a living -- it's dangerous, it's expensive, it's a short career and there is no guarantee you will ever make any money out of it.

''There must be something in the genes.''

Super Aguri await fate
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.14) Super Aguri's waiting game could soon be over.

It is suggested that the FIA could be ready to rule on the team's late entry by Friday, despite the fact that all ten teams have not yet agreed to let it happen.

Reports in Autosport, meanwhile, claim that Midland's total refusal to sign the dispensation document might have been spurred on by engine supplier Toyota, who do not want to compete with yet another Honda-powered rival.

And, adding to the issue of TV money based on where a team finishes in the top ten, it is rumored that MF1 could be scuppering Aguri's bid so as to gain access to Takuma Sato -- the prospective Leafield based team's primary target.

It is also suggested that while Ferrari initially objected to the late entry, Bernie Ecclestone has persuaded the former world champions to fall in line.

Webber has no BMW bitterness
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.14) Mark Webber says he doesn't blame BMW for leaving the Williams team.

The Australian driver, who stays at the Grove based team with Cosworth power in 2006, will next year face his former BMW support crew as rivals.

''F1 is a very tough business,'' said 28-year-old Webber, ''and both parties will try hard to be as successful as possible.

''I wish BMW all the best. The guys have been fantastic.''

And far from Harbour even the slightest feeling of bitterness, particularly after the spectacular fallout between men like Patrick Head and Mario Theissen, Webber says he can understand BMW's decision to go it alone.

''I totally respect their decision to carry out their own program,'' he added, ''and the desire to be successful.''

Webber is less supportive, however, of F1's switch from V10 to V8.

After trying Cosworth's 2.4 liter unit in Spain, he said: ''As a driver you are not too happy (with a loss of power).

''But I'm anxious to see how next season will unfold, though I'm confident we will be successful.''

Even with works power in 2005, Williams' season was 'frustrating', Mark admits.

''It was a long, hard season,'' he said. ''My goal is to finish better in the championship than this year. But it's always the team and the driver together.''

F1 flavor at Sebring
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.14) This week's Champ Car test session at Sebring (US) is sporting a distinct formula one-flavor.

In a 'PKV' car is Ryan Briscoe, mere days after the Australian filled for ill Toyota tester Olivier Panis on the other side of the Atlantic.

On Monday, the 2005 IRL driver - keen to land a racing ride - was an impressive second quickest, while F1 hopeful Richard Lyons tried out the Rocketsports car and was fifth.

''It has been a busy week,'' Briscoe grinned.

Interestingly, he called the Champ Car 'very similar' to the latest generation of V8 F1s.

And he revealed: ''A Champ Car has more horsepower (than the F1 car) and no driver aids.

''Both cars are demanding and you don't want to try and muscle them around.''

Later at the Sebring test, Katherine Legge - who recently tested a Minardi - and former Jordan driver Giorgio Pantano will appear on track.

Red Bulls 'bond' in Austria
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.14) Key players of Red Bull's two formula one teams got together in Austria last weekend for a 'bonding session'.

A statement issued by the energy drink company described how 30 people - from Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso, and including the drivers - headed to Salzburg.

They 'braved the cold, to watch the Red Bull Salzburg football club defeat Rapid 2-nil,' the statement read, while sources revealed that David Coulthard, Christian Klien, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed were among the group.

The next day, 'everyone gathered for brunch at the Red Bull-owned Carpe Diem restaurant before heading off for their various homes,' the teams' PR department added.

JV didn't worry about '06 seat
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.14) Jacques Villeneuve says he was able to take a post-season break without worrying about F1.

The French Canadian, who many had written off as a no-hoper to keep the Sauber ride, holidayed in Paris and Canada last month before returning to test.

''I did not think about racing, at all,'' he told Motorsport Aktuell. ''I did not go to bed at night concerned about my future.''

All along, 34-year-old JV - despite struggling in 2005 and despite BMW's overtures to potential replacements like Heikki Kovalainen, Dan Wheldon and Alex Wurz - insisted that his '06 deal was water tight.

But he must have sat up on one or two nights, wondering how a 1997 world champion struggled to get to grips with his F1 mount.

''Partly, it was due to my one year break,'' Villeneuve pondered, ''but the biggest problem was a lack of testing.

''The car I started with was not at all adapted electrically to my needs.

''Usually, that's fixed in two weeks -- but here it took two months because the budget wasn't there.''

Next year, however - with BMW on board - the budget mostly certainly will be there. But JV reports that the integration is not yet complete.

He smiled: ''I don't know if we are a new team with some old elements, or an old team with new elements.''

Audi unveil unique car
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.14) As the last F1 test of 2005 kicked off in southern Spain, many figures in the racing world - on Tuesday - kept a keen eye on Paris.

There, in France, Audi launched its new Le Mans 24-Hour contender, the R10 -- which, uniquely, is diesel powered.

''Audi wants to show the world it can be done,'' said Audi boss Wolfgang Ulrich. Audi is owned by German car manufacturer Volkswagen.

With Tom Kristensen, former Toyota F1 pilot Allan McNish is likely to be named as a driver.

The R10 will make its race debut in March.

'Playboy' Button won't win
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.14) 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell has accused Jenson Button of being not dedicated enough to lift the title.

He hinted that his English countryman, 25, is too often spotted out partying and too often featured in newspapers' lifestyle columns.

''It is time Jenson realized he must concentrate on his job,'' Mansell told Britain's 'The Sun' tabloid.

In 100 grand prix starts, JB has failed to win a race.

But he blames machinery with which none of his teammates - Ralf Schumacher (Williams), Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton), Jarno Trulli (Renault), Jacques Villeneuve (BAR) or Takuma Sato (BAR) - have managed to win.

And The Honda driver insists: ''People think I'm always out and being a playboy, but if I did nothing but eat, sleep and breathe motor racing, it would be detrimental to my performance.''

Still, Mansell thinks Jenson Button is getting the balance wrong.

''He must forget about some of the other things he gets involved in,'' the 52-year-old said.

''When you start winning grands prix - then it can be party time.''

Perera in a spin
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.14) French hopeful Franck Perera endured a character-building return to the wheel of a formula one car at Jerez.

On Tuesday, the 21-year-old - a member of Toyota's young driver program - got his second real test for the Cologne based outfit.

In Spain, Toyota hope to get enough miles under Perera's belt so as to earn him a super license, the mandatory document issued by the governing FIA to race in F1.

At the coastal circuit's turn ten, however, he spun and hit a tire barrier. Later, his 2006 Toyota repaired, he lost control of the car in turn 5.

He said: ''There was a lot for me to learn and take in -- the engine, the tires and everything was pretty different from what I experienced a year ago.''

But the team's test manager urged the talented youngster not to be 'too hard on himself' for making mistakes.

''By the end of the day,'' Gerd Pfeiffer explained, ''(Franck) was driving well and doing very reasonable times.''

Perera, about a second off Ricard Zonta's pace, conducted six pre-race 'shake down' runs for Toyota this year.

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