Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
January 9, 2006
Fisi in favor at Renault
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.9) Giancarlo Fisichella, not world champion Fernando
Alonso, will get the first taste of Renault's new 'R26' car.
The Roman, at Spain's Jerez circuit on Tuesday, is set to roll out the
2006 racer, with Alonso - bound for McLaren in 2007 - relegated to the
Fisichella, to turn 33 on Saturday, will also steer the new blue and
yellow machine on Wednesday, before his young Spanish teammate finally
gets his hands on it on Thursday and Friday.
'Fisi' has already mused that Alonso's team switch could work in his
favour, but the Italian veteran also said he is sensing a change in
the successful Spaniard's attitude.
''He's always been a good guy, but he is changing,'' he told Britain's
Speed's tough road to F1
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.9) Scott Speed's road to formula one has not been
Putting aside the difficulty of an American making it big at the
pinnacle of motor sport, the 22-year-old from California has spent the
past few years fighting his toughest battle.
Preceding Speed's signing as an inaugural Red Bull-backed driver for
Scuderia Toro Rosso, he was struck with ulcerative colitis, a serious
and painful disease that causes ulcers and irritation in the colon.
He told the 'Boston Herald' newspaper that the disease is today
controlled with medication.
''It's part of this whole thing that's made everything so hard,''
Speed said in an interview.
The first American to reach F1 since Michael Andretti in 1993,
however, will not be content to roll around at the rear of the grid.
Speed explains: ''I think realistically my personal goal is to become
a world champion. If this year helps me learn and helps me get closer
to that, it will be a success.''
Red Bull won't sign Schu or Kimi, yet
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.9) Adrian Newey has rejected speculation that Red
Bull's next target is a big-name driver like Michael Schumacher or
With both drivers available for 2007, F1's rumor mill is hinting that
- with arguably the best technical brain now on board - a superstar at
the wheel is the next step.
Newey, switching from McLaren, starts work at Milton-Keynes based Red
Bull early on Monday morning.
''Initially we'll want to continue to work with David (Coulthard) and
young drivers,'' he told Autosport magazine.
The Briton said it is difficult to attract a top-five driver until a
team produces a quick car.
And he added: ''If he's attracted for some other reason, such as
finance, we don't want him.''
Pastorelli still with budget trouble
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.9) Dutch driver Nicky Pastorelli has admitted that
re-securing his 'Friday' drive for Midland this year is unlikely.
The 22-year-old Dutchman's role, although already confirmed by the
'MF1' team, was thrown into doubt when one of his personal backers
Nicolas Kiesa and Tarso Marques have been linked with the seemingly
Pastorelli told f1racing.net that he still has not replaced the
''I think when someone would knock on Midland's door with the right
amount of money,'' Nicky told the website, ''he will get the job.''
The Hague-born Pastorelli, however, also revealed that he is in talks
with a number of potential investors.
F1 set for first test of 2006
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.9) Every formula one team, except Midland's 'MF1'
outfit and the hopeful Super Aguri camp, are set to test for the first
time in 2006 at the Jerez track this week.
MF1 will test at Silverstone (UK).
At Jerez, the initial four-day session will kick off on Tuesday, with
Ferrari, Renault, Toyota and Red Bull in action. They are to be joined
by Honda, McLaren, Williams, BMW Sauber and Scuderia Toro Rosso on
Of the nine teams, Renault, Toyota and Red Bull will all be working
with 2006-spec cars.
Over the weekend, Michelin will conduct a wet weather test, ahead of
another full week at Jerez de la Frontera, to again get going on
After that, the next major group test will be staged at another
Spanish venue -- Barcelona.
Doornbos to sit out Jerez tests
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.9) 'Friday' driver Robert Doornbos has revealed that
he will not test for his new Red Bull team in Jerez this week.
The 24-year-old Dutchman said in a Q&A on his official website that he
would only sample the all-new 'RB2' racer at the upcoming Barcelona
session later in January.
''David (Coulthard) and Christian (Klien) will kick off 2006 in
Jerez,'' Doornbos - who will return to the track on January 24 - said.
Red Bull's new car is designed by Mark Smith, powered by a new Ferrari
V8 engine, and will benefit from the development input of new staff
member Adrian Newey.
Doornbos continued: ''I can hardly wait to start testing again!''
Cloud still lingers over Spa
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.9) Although Spa Francorchamps' embattled spot on the
F1 calendar recently looked as good as rescued, it now seems that a
grey cloud still lingers over the popular Belgian grand prix.
With the race's promoter broke, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone had
stepped in and would promote the race himself, reports said. But the
latest question-mark involves $18m in renovations to the ageing
facility, including a new pit and paddock complex, demanded by the
Although the hold-ups may be related to regional government funding,
it is also suggested that the planning stage is simply taking longer
than expected. For example, an initial plan was to bulldoze the first
'La Source' hairpin, but Bernie objected.
The latest plan, according to reports in La Derniere Heure Les Sports
newspaper, could involve the modification of the final 'Bus Stop'
Murray Walker to make F1 return
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.9) Legendary F1 commentator Murray Walker will make a
return to pitlane in 2006.
The 82-year-old Briton, who hung up his microphone in 2001, has signed
to contribute to BBC Radio's coverage of the pinnacle of motor sport.
After calling the first Grand Prix Masters race late last year, Walker
- whose commentary style was once likened to having his 'pants on
fire' - will front several 'Five Live' radio features this season, and
probably attend the odd grand prix.
''Since I retired in 2001,'' Walker told England's The Times
newspaper, ''everywhere I go, people ask me, 'Do you miss it?'
''And I say, 'Yes, of course I miss it'.
''If you enjoy doing something as much as I enjoyed it and you stop
doing it, you're going to miss it.''
Murray Walker worked for the BBC for most of his career, calling his
first British grand prix for radio from Silverstone back in 1949.
Newey to focus on RB3 - Horner
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.9) Red Bull Racing has targeted fifth in the 2006
constructors' championship, and competing with teams Honda, Williams
As team principal Christian Horner outlined his goals for the new
season to f1total.com, he also confirmed that technical wizard Adrian
Newey will indeed arrive from McLaren to start work on Monday morning.
''Adrian has not been able to influence the RB2,'' Horner said, ''but
he will surely play a role in the development of the car in the second
part of 2006.''
The Milton Keynes team's boss also confirmed that Newey - chief
technical officer - would focus on designing the 2007 racer.
But Horner insisted: ''I'm sure that we will notice his influence in
the second half of this year.''
Hockenheim race still in doubt
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.9) The future of Hockenheim's annual German grand
prix is still under a gloomy cloud.
Hockenheim is missing about $2m in annual running income, and could
run out of cash completely in April 2006 -- four months ahead of the
It was reported late last year that the circuit was likely to be saved
from bankruptcy by the local state of Baden-Wurttemberg.
However, the region's Prime Minister - Guenther Oettinger - has told
the major daily 'Bild' newspaper that the embattled venue in south
western Germany can only be saved by 'private investors'.
Among plans to save the historic race involve sharing the annual
privilege with European grand prix venue Nurburgring, or selling the
circuit's naming rights.
F1 is 'exhausting' - team member
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.9) An unnamed race engineer has described working in
modern F1 as 'exhausting'.
He told the British 'Sunday Mirror' newspaper that he spent just two
days per month at home in the busiest parts of the 2005 season.
In 2005, although the Concorde Agreement allows only for a maximum of
17, the F1 calendar featured an unprecedented 19 grands prix --
including a record six back-to-backs.
The engineer explained: ''It's exhausting to bounce around the world,
but it's possible.''
However, he suggested that the biggest price of today's long calendars
are being paid by 'our wives, girlfriends and children'.
Just last month, McLaren boss Ron Dennis - a staunch opponent of plans
to extend the calendar to as many as 21 races - warned that the
public, too, is at risk of formula one burnout.
Fisi questions Montagny's Renault exit
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.9) Giancarlo Fisichella has questioned his employer's
decision to let team test driver Franck Montagny leave Renault.
The incumbent Roman race driver called Montagny, replaced in 2006 by
young Finn Heikki Kovalainen after three years of service, 'the best
test driver' he's met.
32-year-old Fisichella said in reference to the ousted Frenchman, who
failed in negotiations to land a Midland drive this year: ''I don't
know how good he is at racing, but in testing he's the best.''
At last sight, 27-year-old Montagny was courting a race drive in an
American Champ Car.
''It's a mistake to lose him, I think,'' Fisichella told the latest
edition of Britain's Autosport magazine.
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