Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
December 21,  2005

Alonso coup is McLaren 'disaster' - Lauda
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.21) Former driver and team boss Niki Lauda has shaken his head at Fernando Alonso's switch from Renault to McLaren.

The outspoken 56-year-old Austrian criticized Ron Dennis, his former employer and team principals' colleague, for announcing the coup a week before Christmas '05.

''Everything he could do wrong, he has done wrong,'' Lauda told Germany's Bild newspaper.

''Ron has forgotten that humans aren't machines -- they have emotion.''

Niki called the timing of the Spaniard's signing - about a year before Alonso's first McLaren test - a 'disaster'.

He reckons Alonso, plus current McLaren duo Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya, all have their noses out of joint.

First, Niki Lauda suggests, 'iceman' Kimi is no longer the golden boy at the silver clad team.

''In this (deal), there are only losers,'' the ex-triple world champion said. ''Alonso will have trouble with his Renault team in 2006. And Montoya now has to perform in the knowledge that he is only McLaren's third choice.''

To the 'Sport1' publication, meanwhile, former German GP driver Hans-Joachim Stuck reckons the Alonso move was pretty predictable. ''It looks like Renault will stop (the F1 program) in a year or two.''

Kimi grabs another prize
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.21) Fernando Alonso might be world champion and even McLaren's new golden boy, but - in the eyes of the fans - Kimi Raikkonen was 2005's 'driver of the year'.

The Finn, who finished runner-up to Renault's Alonso in his silver car this year, has been bestowed the honor this time by the German 'Motorsport Aktuell' magazine.

It is merely the next in a string of awards for 26-year-old Raikkonen's feats in 2005.

At 27.4 per cent of the total vote, he pipped Spain's Alonso (26.2 per cent) by just 1.2 per cent.

Michael Schumacher clocked third with 9 per cent.

No green light for Aguri, yet
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.21) Contrary to earlier reports, 'Super Aguri' still has a hurdle or two to jump before it can count on a spot in F1's pitlane next season.

But it is true that written agreement among the existing ten teams, including Midland's MF1 squad, is now in the Japanese entrant's possession, clearing the path for a late entry to the governing FIA.

With the $48m bond ready to lodge, and teams' unanimity, the entry is widely considered to be a formality.

A spokesman at the Honda-backed team's Leafield factory in England confirmed that, while 'close to it', Aguri is still waiting for the FIA's green light.

Not me, says Briatore
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.21) Further to news that Fernando Alonso's father, Jose Luis, did the McLaren negotiating, his manager Flavio Briatore has confirmed that he played no part in the talks.

Italian Briatore, accused of conflict of interest by managing Alonso's move to McLaren while leading the Renault team, said in a statement that he was not involved 'directly or indirectly'.

The news follows speculation that 24-year-old champion Alonso and 'Flav' have fallen out.

Briatore added: ''He contacted and negotiated with McLaren at his own instigation.''

Even the Renault boss' statement, however, leaves other questions unanswered. If Briatore was not involved in the talks, then who was in charge of Renault's decision to make (or not make) a counter-offer to keep Alonso at the Enstone team?

And if there was no counter-offer, what does this suggest about Renault's future on the grid?

Honda to buy rest of Suzuka track
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.21) As arch-rival Toyota ramps up its bid to secure the Japanese grand prix at Fuji, Honda has announced that it will buy the rest of the Suzuka venue.

''Honda will obtain all outstanding shares of Suzuka Circuitland and make it a wholly-owned subsidiary,'' a statement said on Tuesday.

The news comes less than a month after it was reported that Toyota's renovated Fuji Speedway could snatch the race from Suzuka in 2007.

Honda-owned Suzuka's F1 contract runs out next year.

In addition to Honda's total Suzuka buyout, the Japanese carmaker - owner of the Brackley based F1 team - announced that it would merge Suzuka with its 'Twin Ring' track in Motegi.

The merger, to be complete by June next year, 'will leverage the know-how ... of each facility to offer higher quality events,' Honda added.

Honda established Suzuka in 1961.

V8 makes F1 'boring' - Webber
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.21) V8 engines have made formula one 'boring' for the drivers, Australia's Mark Webber says.

The Williams pilot, who recently tested the new Cosworth engine in Spain, told Eurosport that corners like Eau Rouge (Spa) and 130R (Suzuka) will be 'easier' with reduced power.

''That's what's boring about it now,'' Mark explained in the interview. ''We've got so much grip compared to the power that the corners won't be demanding.''

And while Webber, 29, thinks the lower top speeds are good for safety, it also means that braking distances are shorter -- and that's not good for passing.

BMW back more F1 test cuts
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.21) Formula One testing should be cut even more.

That is the opinion of BMW motor sport director Mario Theissen, who would even support a 20-race calendar if a 15 or 20-day test limit was agreed.

''It makes sense to reduce testing,'' the German said.

''If everyone agreed to limit testing, we could spend the money on the show - on the real show - and do one more race.''

A voluntary 30-day agreement was in place this year. Every team except Ferrari signed up.

Monteiro book launched
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.21) A book about Tiago Monteiro's record-setting debut season in F1 has been launched in Portugal.

The 29-year-old claimed the 'rookie of the year' plaudit after finishing a record 18 of the 19 grands prix in his maiden Jordan tenure.

And even if the news is not yet official, Oporto-born 'TM' will remain at the Silverstone based team, which has been renamed 'MF1 Racing', next year.

Beating teammate Narain Karthikeyan and both Minardi drivers, moreover, Tiago also grabbed the final podium spot at the infamous US grand prix in June.

There, he memorably said: ''No-one is going to take this away from me. It's still a podium and I'm over the moon.''

A report on his website said the book would feature Tiago's own commentary and photography by formula one snappers Jean-Francois Galeron, Jad Sharif and Laurent Charniaux.

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