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Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
December 16,  2005


Last blast at Jerez
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.16) For many teams, Thursday was the final blast of formula one engine power for this year.

Toyota marked the occasion with a Christmas Party on Wednesday night, although crews were back on duty in the morning.

McLaren completed its December tests with a V8 engine failure in Juan Pablo Montoya's car before lunch. The incident not only brought out the red flags, but severely affected lap times for the rest of the day when oil leaked onto the Jerez track in Spain.

''I will be spending Christmas with my family at a ski-resort in Europe,'' said the Colombian, ''and I am already looking forward to getting back to testing in early January.''

It was another chilly start at the circuit, with morning running held up due to an early shower.

In a Toyota, however, youngster Franck Perera clocked up enough miles to qualify for F1's mandatory super license.

But most observers' eyes stayed fixed to the Ferrari garage, where Michael Schumacher made an early return to the cockpit to sample V8 power. Despite an early spin and trip back to the pits in a circuit car, the German ended the day quickest of all.

Renault, Honda, Williams and BMW Sauber were also in action.

Nick Heidfeld's BMW was seen smoking at one stage, with the incident turning out to be a defect exhaust pipe. The novel Hinwil-Munich collaboration has also run for the last time in 2005.

Schumacher, however, will be back on Friday, to be joined on track by 2005 world champion Fernando Alonso's Renault.









DC tries new 'Bull
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.16) As most of the formula one world tested in Spain, David Coulthard and Red Bull broke away to England on Thursday to track debut the brand new 'RB2' 2006 car.

The Ferrari-powered car, with new sleek and curvy bodywork, crept out of the Silverstone pitlane for a two day test.

''It's a very sexy looking thing,'' the Scottish veteran enthused. He suggested that he would really 'see what it can do' on Friday.

Earlier, he told 'F1 Racing' magazine that the RB2's goal is to lift the Milton Keynes based team into the top ten finishers at grands prix.

''That's the next step,'' Coulthard, 34, revealed. ''I know from my years in the sport that you're not going to fundamentally change the car during the season.''

David Coulthard said: '''So we have to depend on next year's car.

''I have more responsibility than ever before to make that car better -- otherwise we'll have screwed up somewhere.''









F1 peace must wait - Dennis
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.16) Formula one's road to peace is being held up by its new owner, McLaren principal Ron Dennis revealed this week.

He said the carmakers' disgruntled 'breakaway' group is having trouble dealing with 86 per cent shareholder CVC Capital Partners, because the buyout deal is yet to get EU approval.

''At the moment (it) does not own formula one,'' the Briton told Reuters.

Dennis suggested that there is also an 'issue' with Lehman -- a third bank that is yet to agree to sell the final 14 per cent of the formula one business.

It is still expected that, legally, Lehman could challenge CVC's right to buy the sport before any of the three banks were offered the shares.

Such a scenario could scupper the whole CVC deal.

Dennis, the Woking based team principal, added that until the issues are resolved, CVC is 'not in a position to sit and talk to us.'









Schu spins but wins
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.16) Michael Schumacher had an eventful return to the cockpit of a formula one car on Thursday -- spinning but still topping the times.

The German, who usually sits out the December sessions for a winter holiday in Norway, got to work in a 2004 Ferrari fitted with a V8.

But he showed that reduced power can still be a little tricky. Schumacher, 36, beached his car into the gravel at Jerez's turn two in Spain, and he had to hitch a ride back to pitlane in a circuit car.

Later, the seven time world drivers' champion said he had expected two hundred fewer horse power to feel 'worse'.

According to his spokeswoman, Michael added: ''I feel a much lower level of power, but this sensation is
nice.''

Schumacher's decision to return to the track so early marks the first time since 1998 that he has been seen in a F1 car in December.

''We had a very bad year,'' he continued to tell reporters at Jerez. ''It is a different situation to other years. Also it is a pure joy to drive. In other years I deliberately held this back.''









Michelin maintain FIA fume
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.16) A day after vowing to quit the sport at the end of 2006, Michelin has again aimed fire at F1's governing body, FIA.

In a parting shot, the French marque's boss - Edouard Michelin - vaguely suggested that recent rule changes, like the re-introduction of tire changing at pitstops, is designed to help Bridgestone back to form.

He also told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper: ''The FIA's position changes depending on situations, and reflects a ... lack of transparency regarding the reasons for some choices.''

Bridgestone shod Michael Schumacher, however, denied that a return to the 2004 tire rule will necessarily wave a magic wand over Ferrari's dire recent pace.

The German said at Jerez on Thursday that the red team's lack of pace had 'nothing to do' with the now axed one-tire-per-race ruling.

He admitted: ''Up to a certain level (the 2006 rule) can help, but it cannot make us world champions.''

One of Japanese supplier Bridgestone's new teams - Williams - might also benefit from the rule change, but lead driver Mark Webber stopped short of welcoming Michelin's exit.

In fact, he bluntly told Autosport: ''It will be shit without tire competition -- but it happens.

''They have been driven to pull out and it is very sad.''









Williams want Aguri 'proof'
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.16) At least one other signature is missing from Super Aguri's quest to lodge a late entry for the '06 grand prix grid, it has emerged.

Sir Frank Williams' Oxfordshire based team has not said 'no', but has asked the prospective Leafield-based team to provide proof that it can back a long term future in F1.

McLaren and Toyota have publicly indicated support for Aguri's quest, while Ferrari and Renault have reportedly withdrawn earlier opposition. Only Midland, it seems, is staunchly opposed to allowing the Honda-backed Japanese team to race.

''We have just asked for more information that they ... are not going to appear and disappear,'' a Williams spokesman told 'Reuters'.










Colin Chapman
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.16) Jim Clark's name is synonymous with that of legendary F1 designer and Lotus founder Colin Chapman.

But Britain's Chapman was also instrumental in transforming the sport from an affluent man's hobby to a multi million dollar business, by introducing private sponsorship to the grid.

He, meanwhile, pioneered the monocoque, making F1 cars lighter, stronger and safer. His 1962 Lotus 25 is a prime example.

Chapman put aerodynamics into the spotlight by adding front and rear wings, pioneering the ground effect concept, and moving radiators from the front of the F1 car to where they sit today.

Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman died at the age of 54 after a heart attack -- exactly twenty three years ago today.








Panis' back
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.16) French veteran Olivier Panis returned to the wheel of his Toyota this week, after being treated for a kidney stone.

The veteran of 158 grands prix, today a test driver like the Cologne team's 'reserve' nominee Ricardo Zonta, pulled out of the Jerez sessions a week ago.

He said at the Spanish circuit on Thursday: ''It's nice to be back in business driving again.

''The new car is looking good and the V8 engine has improved a lot compared to the last time I tested it,'' Panis added. ''I think we're in good shape.''

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