Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
January 11, 2006
Finn not promised Alonso's ride
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.11) Renault test driver Heikki Kovalainen has
admitted that he nearly became a formula one racer for the 2006
It is common knowledge that the 24-year-old Finn, runner-up to Nico
Rosberg in last year's GP2 championship, negotiated with BMW-Sauber
about a two-season deal (2006 and 2007).
''I was in contact with some teams,'' Heikki confessed to the
Motorsport Aktuell magazine.
''However, (Flavio) Briatore decided that it would be better for me if
I spent a whole year getting experience with Renault as a test
It is probably no coincidence that the end of Briatore-run
Kovalainen's talks with BMW preceded news of Fernando Alonso's switch
to McLaren in 2007.
With the experienced Giancarlo Fisichella in one car, highly-rated
Kovalainen is no doubt being groomed to step into Alonso's shoes.
Indeed, the 24-year-old world champion also spent a full year as
Renault tester, in 2002, before moving into the racing cockpit.
Kovalainen admits that Alonso's departure will probably be good for
''But I can't really say anything about that,'' he insisted, although
Heikki did answer 'no' to whether Briatore had already promised him
Ferrari 'looking strong' in '06
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.11) If Tuesday at Jerez (Spain) was Ferrari's
response to the quit threat of Michael Schumacher, then it was a
rather successful one.
On the first test day of 2006, the deposed seven time world champion -
in a 2004 car fitted with a new V8 engine - was nearly one and a half
seconds quicker than the next best.
''Ferrari is looking pretty strong here,'' said the driver who came
closest to Michael's lap time, younger brother and Toyota star Ralf
In late afternoon, 37-year-old Schumacher had a little trip into the
gravel, but - by then - he had already made his point.
Renault and Red Bull also made up the numbers in southern Spain, but
the real action will kick off on Wednesday. Alex Wurz, for one,
arrived at Jerez on Tuesday evening ahead of his debut for the
Ferrari-powered Red Bull's first major test with the new 'RB2' 2006
car, meanwhile, got off to a trying start, with David Coulthard
stranded out on track with an electronics fault.
Technical director Mark Smith admitted that the new car is struggling
with a cooling problem, fixed for the time being by adding some extra
holes to the bodywork.
The Scot, DC, was the slowest of seven runners.
New Renault has 'potential' - Fisichella
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.11) Desperate for the inside gossip about 2005
champion Renault's new car, journalists at Jerez discovered that
Giancarlo Fisichella had been told not to discuss the 'R26' topic.
The Roman driver took the car through its first 41 laps on Tuesday.
''My first impression is that this is a car with a lot of potential,''
32-year-old 'Fisi' said in a statement issued by the team.
Although nearly four seconds off Michael Schumacher's pace, he added:
''I felt comfortable straight away. This wasn't a day to go for
Renault's new engine, the last of the carmaker troupe to get a V8 up
and running, also ran reliably on day 1, although the odd predictable
glitch slightly held up progress.
Schu, Ferrari, head to Italian alps
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.11) After testing on Wednesday, Michael Schumacher
will fly from Spain to the Italian ski alps for Ferrari's annual press
event at Madonna di Campiglio.
The German, 37, is to be joined by new teammate Felipe Massa and team
members including F1 boss Jean Todt.
The event runs until Saturday.
Imola to renovate F1 pits
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.11) Imola, scene of the annual San Marino grand prix
in Italy, will enjoy a much-needed new pit and paddock complex.
Work is to begin on the $12 million project at 'Autodromo Enzo e Dino
Ferrari', located in the country's central north, after the running of
this year's formula one race in April.
Imola has endured plenty of criticism in recent years, not only due to
the outdated circuit facilities, but because Italy also hosts a grand
prix at Monza.
Even so, the San Marino grand prix is safe at least until 2009, after
a new five year contract with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone was penned
Williams' team manager steps down
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.11) Williams' team manager since 1994, Dickie
Stanford, has left the post.
The Briton, a veteran of the Grove team having once been a mechanic on
Nigel Mansell's car, has decided to take on a new factory-based
Current test team manager, Tim Newton, will take Stanford's job.
'STR' launch official website
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.11) Scuderia Toro Rosso has launched a new website.
The former Minardi team - bought, taken over and renamed by Red Bull -
can be found online at
A simple design, featuring the new team's logo, emphasizes the
profiles of 2006 drivers Vitantonio Liuzzi, Scott Speed and 'Friday'
star Neel Jani.
Italy's Liuzzi, according to his profile, singles out Ayrton Senna and
Nigel Mansell as childhood heroes.
''More than anyone else,'' he was quoted as saying, ''those two drove
for their love of racing.
''In the end, that's the only goal that counts.''
Swiss 22-year-old Jani, meanwhile, turns to the world of skiing for
his role models. He reckons the discipline is closely related to motor
sport because 'both are about discipline and the right mixture of
aggression and consistency.'
Why 'F2004' is still clocking up miles
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.11) Ferrari has moved to clear up a little mystery.
The Maranello based team is running this week at Jerez (Spain) with
two cars. The first, driven by Luca Badoer, is the V10-powered 2005
model, rev-limited to imitate new rules.
Steered by Michael Schumacher, the other 'interim' chassis is fitted
with a new V8 engine -- but it's the two-year-old 'F2004' machine.
It has raised speculation that Ferrari deem the V8-powered 2004 car to
be a better indication of how the F2006 will behave, with tire rules
similar to those of '04.
Or perhaps the red-clad team has decided that the development route of
last year's car was wrong, and will therefore attempt to resume where
'04 - when the team collected fifteen wins - left off.
''Our new V8 engine simply does not fit in the F2005 chassis,'' a
Ferrari spokeswoman clarified to f1total.com.
The 2.4 liter power plant, however, does fit in the less
tightly-packaged old car.
Fear not, though, if you think Ferrari might tread the familiar
pattern of kicking off the new season with an 'interim' car -- which
is, this time around, in effect two years old.
The F2006, to be launched late this month, will definitely appear for
the first race of the year, in Bahrain. It will reportedly be shaken
down at the private Fiorano circuit next week.
'Hannover 96' at F1 tests
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.11) The 'Hannover 96' football (soccer) team popped
in to watch progress at the formula one test in Jerez on Tuesday.
The German squad, called '96' because the Hanover-based team was
founded in 1896, spent time with Cologne based Toyota and countryman
Ralf Schumacher at the southern Spanish venue, while on a training
Like Hannover 96 in the German 'Bundesliga' premier league,
30-year-old Schumacher said the target for 2006 is to collect wins.
So far, the 'TF106' looks like a promising grand prix contender, the
two models - the other driven by Ricardo Zonta - only trailing Michael
Schumacher's mighty lap time on Tuesday.
''People on the outside expect that we could score one or two
victories,'' Ralf - who encountered a technical glitch on the first
day of 2006 running - admitted, ''and I do think that should be
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