Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
December 20,  2005

Klien eyes grand prix win
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.20) Red Bull driver Christian Klien says his ultimate goal is to win grands prix in a top team.

The Austrian, who in 2006 embarks on his third season in formula one, said he is following the routine path of establishing himself at the pinnacle of racing.

''You start as a young driver at a small team,'' Klien, 22, told an Austrian newspaper, ''until a top team take you.''

For the time being, however, the long time Red Bull-backed youngster is at the Milton-Keynes based stable, where he hopes for a 'crash free season' and a maiden podium.

''I want that top three finish,'' Klien insisted. ''I can hardly wait to get started.''

He is enjoying the team, particularly since his energy drink backer took over Jaguar.

''With Jaguar, everything was extremely rigid,'' Klien explained. ''You had to wear black trousers, black shoes, all the time.

''But Red Bull leave us to express our personality.''

So what has Christian got planned for Christmas? Surely not skiing in the Austrian mountains, which is forbidden in many F1 contracts?

''You can't put that in an Austrian's contract,'' he joked.

Honda 'must' win in '06 - Willis
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.20) Brackley based Honda, formerly BAR, could be about to embark on its best ever year on the grid.

Technical director Geoff Willis, recently returned from key team meetings in Japan, has revealed that the squad has never felt more confident after November and December tests.

''We've had very good reliability and performance,'' he told the team's website. Honda is already running with the '06 V8 and the complete rear end of the new car, RA106.

The whole '06 car will run early in the New Year.

BAR-Honda had a tough 2005 -- the '007' car wasn't up to scratch from the outset and the team even had to sit out a two grand prix ban.

But Willis says: ''2006 ought to be one of the best years we've ever had.

''We really must win races now. We must learn not only to win, but to win regularly,'' he added.

Sepang slashes F1 prices
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.20) Organizers of the Malaysian grand prix have slashed prices to as little as $13 (US) for the race in March 2006.

Sepang announced on Monday that the $13 ticket would buy a spot in the general 'Hillstand' area on all three days of the F1 event.

In 2005, the same ticket cost $53.

Seated grandstand seats, meanwhile, are priced between $130 and $260.

''We want more Malaysians to be part of this spectacular event and enjoy the event live at the circuit,'' said general manager Datuk Ahmad Mustafa.

The March 17-19 Malaysian GP is the eighth consecutive F1 event at the Sepang venue.

Also on Monday, Indianapolis announced that tickets for the 2006 United States grand prix went on sale.

The race, to be held despite controversy over the six-car furor in June, will be staged between June 30 and July 2.

Webber - 'I don't need a break'
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.20) Much of the F1 world is looking forward to a bit of Christmas turkey.

But not Mark Webber.

Williams' Australian driver is disappointed that his Grove based team, like its rivals, will now stay away from the test tracks over the Christmas and early New Year, only returning at Jerez (Spain) on January 10-11.

A Williams team spokeswoman confirmed: ''We won't do any more testing until ... January.''

29-year-old Webber said the Oxfordshire team is still 'getting to grips' with the new Cosworth and Bridgestone elements, including a new gearbox.

He explained: ''Personally, I don't feel I need a break.

''I wish we could continue with the program,'' Mark added, ''hence I'm looking forward to January, and especially February, when we'll have the new (FW28) car.''

DC said no to Ferrari offer
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.20) F1 veteran David Coulthard says he does not regret passing up a works drive for Ferrari.

Red Bull's Scottish ace, who drove for McLaren between 1996 and last year, revealed to F1 Racing magazine that he was on the Maranello team's shopping list when Eddie Irvine signed for Ferrari at the end of 1995.

''There was a real chance of going to Ferrari,'' he admitted, ''but considering the contract that was on offer, it would have been the wrong thing to do.''

DC, 34, also rejected the thesis that he stayed under Ron Dennis' silver-clad wing - opposite mighty Finnish drivers - too long.

Coulthard added: ''I always made my choice based on what I thought was the best opportunity for performance the following year.''

With every offer that came up, including to be Michael Schumacher's number two, he reckons the Woking based grand prix team was 'always preferable'.

David Coulthard will spend a second season at Red Bull Racing in 2006.

Alonso move to 'destabilize' Renault
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.20) Norbert Haug has defended McLaren-Mercedes' decision on Monday to reveal the signing of Fernando Alonso for 2007 a few days before Christmas '05.

The German, competition director for the engine supplier and team co-owner, said keeping the news secret would not be the 'right thing to do'.

Haug reckons 24-year-old Alonso's cunning triumph over McLaren this year, with an inferior Renault car, convinced the Woking team that he should be hunted.

''He used our errors to his best advantage,'' Norbert explained, ''and at the end of the season showed his true speed.''

Former McLaren driver Martin Brundle says his former team has pulled off a 'massive coup' not only in landing a world champion, but in upsetting their arch rival.

Just as the French carmaker was exploiting the double title triumph, 'suddenly (Alonso) goes off and joins the enemy,' Brundle told ITV's website.

''It's bound to destabilize (Renault).''

The early announcement, however, must be a touch awkward for 24-year-old Alonso, as well.

Just when he should be flavor of the month at Enstone, he might well be viewed as a team traitor.

As Brundle says: ''Can you imagine being in Alonso's shoes as he cruises into the pits at the next test, or during the next factory visit?''

'She loves Schu'
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.20) Believe it or not, there is someone who loves Michael Schumacher even more than Italy's Tifosi, Jean Todt or Willi Weber.

Her name is Corinna.

''Sometimes when I look at him,'' the Ferrari driver's wife explains in Timothy Collings' 'Team Schumacher' book, ''I get a tremendously deep feeling of happiness.''

Mrs Schumacher is clearly proud of her seven time world champion, who has won more than 80 grands prix in a fourteen year F1 career so far and takes home an annual salary of at least $60m.

In an excerpt published in the Independent newspaper, Corinna continued: ''I look at him and think, 'That's my husband.'

''It's a marvellous feeling.''

Alonso's man in the middle
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.20) You'd be forgiven for thinking that Flavio Briatore was an awkward 'man in the middle' in Fernando Alonso's 2007 switch from Renault to McLaren.

Italian Flavio is not only Renault's F1 managing director and principal, but the 24-year-old Spaniard's manager.

It is not difficult to see the potential conflict of interest, then, in Briatore organizing Alonso's $96m deal with Ron Dennis.

'Flav', presumably, will take a tasty slice of the cake.

But we can reveal that, at least at the negotiating table for Fernando, sat not 'Flav', but Alonso's father, Jose Luis Alonso.

And an 'insider' told Germany's 'Bild' newspaper: ''Fernando's relationship with Briatore is no longer great.''

Still, Briatore - although perhaps disappointed to see his protégé split on the promise of a higher salary - is not likely to lose much sleep. He has another young charge, '06 tester Heikki Kovalainen, all ready to slide in for 2007.

But there might be a deeper meaning here. As former McLaren driver Martin Brundle explains, the Alonso switch is perhaps just another indication that Renault is not fully committed to F1 beyond '07.

The Briton told ITV: ''Certainly, if you were working at the team base in Enstone, you would be feeling a little concerned right now.''

Sauber wins 'lifetime' award
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.20) A tearful Peter Sauber has accepted a 'lifetime achievement' recognition at the Swiss sports awards in Berne.

The former team owner, who ran the Sauber team in formula one between 1993 and this year, was honored at Saturday's 'Credit Suisse Sports Awards'.

Originally an electrician, Sauber honed his appetite for motor sport by racing a VW Beetle before overseeing the first Sauber car - the C1 - for the 1970 'Swiss hill-climb championship'.

He progressed to sports cars and ultimately to F1, but has sold the Hinwil based outfit to BMW, and will remain only as an advisor for sponsors.

Meanwhile, newly crowned 125cc motorcycle world champion, Switzerland's Thomas Luthi, picked up the athlete of the year gong.

'Kimi can sign '07 deal' - Haug
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.20) Mercedes' Norbert Haug has admitted that Kimi Raikkonen would be the preferred teammate for Fernando Alonso in 2007.

Adding to Ron Dennis' claim on Monday that the Woking team is 'in discussions' with both the Finn and current teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, Haug revealed that if Kimi, 26, wants to sign a 2007 contract, 'he can do that'.

McLaren's Alonso coup has reinvigorated speculation that Finn Raikkonen has already committed to the Ferrari team for the period beyond next year.

But Haug, sporting director for McLaren's works engine partner, said the battle for the second seat between Kimi and Montoya is still 'completely open'.

Raikkonen, meanwhile, has kept fairly quiet since his F1 employer unveiled the Monday shocker, but he did tell Germany's 'Bild' newspaper that he was 'informed' about the signing.

F1 ramps up V8 revs
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.20) Geoff Willis has calmed fears that the noise produced by V8 engines is too tame for grands prix.

Without doubt, the exhaust note of the 2.4 liter units being used in winter testing - compared to even the rev-limited 3.0 liter V10s - is less spectacular.

But after the most recent test session at Jerez, Honda technical director Geoff Willis reckons the V8 'doesn't sound that different' to the familiar V10 howl, because teams are now ramping up the revs.

And he also told the team's website: ''They sound quite different in the pitlane -- if anything the V8s are even noisier. They are uncomfortably loud now!''

FIA's cost cutting 'doomed' - Willis
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.20) As the FIA prepares to unveil the detail of novel regulations for 2008, Geoff Willis has said that using rules to cut costs never works.

''Costs will only be reduced when teams have less money to spend,'' said Honda's technical boss.

The cost of recent changes, including the move from V10 to V8 engines, have been 'simply astronomical', the Englishman insisted.

Willis believes that if technology is banned, teams simply turn to finding 'a new solution' with the same budget.

''Trying to control costs via technical regulations is pretty much doomed to failure,'' Geoffrey added.

He also questioned the wisdom of the FIA's radical 'CDG' wing, which is proposed for 2008 and designed to improve F1's overtaking spectacle.

Willis said: ''It's interesting to see new thinking being applied but, personally, I would be concerned if overtaking became too easy.''

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