Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
December 23, 2005
Schu is Ferrari 'future' - president
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.23) As speculation spirals that Kimi Raikkonen is on
his way to Ferrari in 2007, the Italian team said on Thursday that it
wants to renew Michael Schumacher's deal.
''He is not only the current Ferrari,'' team president Luca di
Montezemolo said in Maranello, ''he's the future.''
The Italian's comments come after a week of speculation that, with
Schumacher's deal to run to an end next year, Finn Raikkonen is set to
take on the mantle as the grid's best.
But Montezemolo insisted: ''With Michael's commitment and talent, he's
still the best.''
Schumacher's reluctance to sign a 2007 contract has been the source of
much gossip in the F1 paddock. Moves to other teams, negotiations for
a bigger salary, and indications of retirement, have all been theories
of the press.
''Only Michael can decide about his future,'' Montezemolo continued.
''In the summer he will decide.''
Schumacher will turn 37 on the third of January.
BMW's 'long road ahead'
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.23) New owner BMW is working hard to make Sauber a
big grand prix team.
Motor sport director, and likely 2006 team principal, Mario Theissen,
reports that six months after the purchase from Peter Sauber, fifty
new employees are soon to start work at 'BMW Sauber'.
The ultimate target is for the recruitment of 50 more.
''On January third we will see as many as 20 people turning up for
their first day's work,'' the German said.
The Munich based carmaker is also about to lodge a planning
application for an addition to the main building at Hinwil
(Switzerland), with construction scheduled to start in June next year.
In addition, BMW Sauber has now sold most of the sponsorship space on
the 2006 car, which will be rolled out at Valencia (Spain) on 17
But Theissen warned: ''We don't harbor any illusions.
''There's a long road ahead and we will negotiate it with perseverance
Mosley no fan of F1 'knockout'
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.23) F1's new 'knockout' qualifying system for '06 has
a very high profile opponent -- president of the FIA, Max Mosley.
The 65-year-old Englishman reckons the novel but already controversial
format, to replace three-year-old single lap qualifying, ''is going to
be very tough to understand.''
''It's going to be like me when I watch American football,'' he told
the French L'Equipe daily newspaper.
''I can watch it, it's a great show, but I don't have the slightest
idea what's happening.''
Unlike many in pitlane, Mosley was actually a supporter of the former
system, which saw each driver complete a single lap, one by one, with
race levels of fuel.
''Perhaps it was not much fun for the people in the stands,'' he
admitted, ''but on television it was really good. You knew exactly
what's going on.''
Under the new regime, all twenty cars will run for 15 minutes, until
the slowest five are knocked out. This will be repeated, until the
quickest ten fight for the last 20 minutes.
But the system has been criticized, because while the slowest ten will
have run on low fuel, the top half of the grid must do their final
laps with race levels.
Alonso debate rolls on
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.23) The debate about Fernando Alonso's bombshell
switch from Renault to McLaren goes on.
High profile paddock players have been divided over the wisdom, and
even the morality, of the Spaniard's surprise split from a title
winning team to Ron Dennis' arguably quicker camp.
Red Bull principal Christian Horner thinks the move has set in motion
a 'fascinating' silly season next season.
He told England's The Guardian newspaper: ''I think the driver market
in 12 months' time will be more fluid than at any time over recent
One guy not blown off his chair by the McLaren press release, however,
was Dennis' 1996-2004 driver, F1 veteran David Coulthard.
''This business is all about long-term planning and investment well
down the line,'' said the Scot. ''So, no, I'm not surprised.''
Dennis' long time ally Sir Frank Williams, however, was just as
surprised as the rest of the racing world. But the man who signed
20-year-old Nico Rosberg for 2006 did not seem disappointed that the
new world champion is off the market.
Frank said: ''Surprise won the day but there are plenty of new young
drivers on the horizon.''
'STR' to launch in March
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.23) The team formerly owned by Paul Stoddart and
called Minardi - 'Scuderia Toro Rosso' - will launch a new F1 car for
2006 in Bahrain.
Taken over by energy drink Red Bull in November, the Faenza based
squad will join its sister team in unveiling a racer just ahead of the
season opener, to be held in March.
The car is to be called 'STR1' and is seemingly an unique development
based on Red Bull's '05 car.
Team boss Franz Tost admitted earlier this week that Toro Rosso is
'pushing very hard' to get the car ready for the first race next year.
Milton Keynes-based Red Bull Racing held a staff Christmas party in
nearby Bedford (UK) last Saturday, with David Coulthard, Christian
Klien, Robert Doornbos and Christian Horner all in attendance.
Also there, was the Ferrari powered 2006 'RB2'.
Penske eyes cut-price F1
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.23) The famous 'Penske' name is again being linked
with a future in F1.
Roger Penske, the IRL and NASCAR team owner in America - a 13-time
winner of the Indy 500 - has told Bernie Ecclestone that if budgets
can be cut to about $100m a year, he is 'interested in fielding a
formula one team,' England's The Guardian newspaper wrote.
Penske, whose F1 team in the mid-70s even won a grand prix, is clearly
referring to the FIA's newly unveiled 2008 regulations, which are yet
to be ratified by the world motor sport council.
FIA president Max Mosley told France's L'Equipe on Thursday: ''A big
private team, very well known in America, recently told Bernie: 'We
want to join F1, but only if we can do it with a budget of 80 million
Mosley added that are three or four others who are similarly just
waiting for F1's costs to fall, and a couple more who are less
Another prospective privateer entrant would be former Benetton and BAR
boss David Richards, who - speculation says - would attack F1 with his
'Prodrive' team name.
But he warned in F1 Racing magazine: ''If formula one carries on like
it is, it won't be worth me being involved.
''You might as well hand the title at the start of the season to the
team with the deepest pockets.''
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.23) A special website has been set up in memory of
legendary Cosworth co-founder Keith Duckworth.
Established by his son, Roger, the website - keithduckworth.co.uk -
allows visitors to leave a message of respect for Duckworth, who died
aged 72 on Sunday.
His father was 'admired for not accepting what you are told is fact,'
Roger wrote, while Duckworth 'taught all those close to him to think.'
Bridgestone not guaranteed '08 contract - Mosley
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.23) Bridgestone is not guaranteed the honor of
becoming F1's control tire supplier for 2008 and beyond, Max Mosley
Although the Japanese marque, because of Michelin's withdrawal, will
almost certainly be the only tire supplier in 2007, the official post
will be put out to tender to the world's biggest racing tire
companies, 'including Pirelli', the FIA president told Italy's
Gazzetta dello Sport.
''We'll consider the technological level of the (supplier), its
proposals and its costs,'' he told the 'paper.
''Then we'll decide.''
Cow manure could power F1
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.23) F1 fuel must contain nearly 6 per cent
'biological' material, according to a rule hidden away in the new 2008
So-called 'biofuel' is made up of things like agricultural waste, fish
and plant oils, alcohol -- even cow manure.
In the '08 regulations, the Max Mosley-led governing body explained
that the rule would make the sport 'keep ahead of developments in fuel
for road cars.'
''I think it's long overdue,'' said former German formula one driver
Hans-Joachim Stuck in the 'Bild' 'paper.
The regulation should be ratified by the FIA's 'world motor sport
council' on March 22.
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.23) On Friday, former Ferrari F1 driver Michele
Alboreto, of Italy, should have marked his forty ninth birthday.
The veteran of 194 grands prix, winner of five, died whilst testing a
Le Mans sportscar in April 2001.
Alboreto also drove for teams including Tyrrell, Arrows, and Minardi
in a F1 career from 1981 to 1994. Intriguingly, he started racing in
1976, in the Italian 'Formula Monza' category -- with a car he
In a Tyrrell, he gave the famous 'DFV' its last of 155 grand prix
Alboreto also won the 1997 Le Mans endurance race, but died at the
wheel of an Audi R8, after a tire failure in Germany.
''His death hit me very hard,'' said Ferrari president Luca di
Montezemolo. ''Michele was still competing, moved by a great
Quadruple champion Alain Prost added: ''I knew maybe three, maybe four
true gentlemen in my career.
''Michele was one of them.''
Also celebrating a birthday on 23 December is Bertrand Gachot, 43, the
former Belgian grand prix driver who raced 47 times in F1 and won Le
Mans in 1991.
Rossi must do more testing - Ferrari
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.23) Valentino Rossi must commit to several months of
F1 testing if he seriously wants to make a four-wheel switch.
That's the insistence of Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, who
has reportedly offered the dominant MotoGP champion a future at the
Rossi, 26, has already tested several times in Ferrari's single
seater, triggering intense speculation that he is lining up to race in
Michael Schumacher's place from 2007.
Montezemolo said in Maranello on Thursday: ''If he should decide to
come and test with us for at least a few months in succession, we can
see whether he will be successful (in F1).''
Who will drive for Ferrari beyond 2006 is definitely an issue for the
scarlet team, which admits that it must up its game. After all,
Schumacher might retire, Rossi might stick to motorcycles, and Kimi
Raikkonen might decide that he doesn't want to join up.
''We did not do a good job (this year),'' the president admitted. ''We
did a bad job of interpreting the new rules.''
Luca is therefore a definite fan of the 2006 rules, including the
return of tire-changing, and the unique qualifying shake-up.
''The drivers and the car should finally count for more,'' Montezemolo
said, referring to his criticism of what he had described as a 'tire'
''And in 2008 the rules will change yet again, to reduce costs,'' Luca
also explained, ''which is absolutely correct.''
JV not 'favored' driver, says BMW boss
(GMMf1NET -- Dec.23) On the eve of Christmas, BMW Sauber has given
Jacques Villeneuve a dubious vote of confidence by revealing that he
is not the team's 'favored driver' for 2006.
After looking in to scrapping the French Canadian's 2006 contract, and
negotiating with potential replacements including Alex Wurz and Heikki
Kovalainen, team boss Mario Theissen has said that Villeneuve's
teammate Nick Heidfeld 'was our favored driver.'
''When it came to Jacques,'' the German BMW motor sport director
explained, ''we took our time in making a careful assessment of his
34-year-old JV, despite being a former world champion, endured a
trying full-time return to F1 with Sauber in 2005.
Theissen insisted: ''The start of this year was difficult for him for
a number of reasons, but then as the year went on he made significant
''We believe he's going to improve further.''
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