Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
January 16,  2006

Brunner implicated in Toyota spy scandal
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.16) Ousted designer Gustav Brunner has been implicated in the notorious Toyota-Ferrari espionage scandal.

Two former Ferrari employees, also shown the door by Cologne based Toyota, will be tried in Italy this April after allegedly stealing aerodynamic information and software from Ferrari and using it in the 'TF103' and 'TF104' designs.

Austria's Brunner left Toyota in December last year because - a spokesman at the team explained at the time - his role had become 'obsolete'.

However, it is now claimed that the public prosecutor's office believes Brunner may have known about the espionage during the design phase of the F1 cars.

[Editor's Note:   The possibility of charges in Germany can only add to Toyota's embarrassment about the affair.  Many say, because of these charges of stealing the Ferrari design, they got as far as they did so fast because they cheated their way to the top.  Of course this isn't China, where stealing designs, music, software, and other proprietary things is rampant.]

Ralf scolds F1 brother

(GMMf1NET -- Jan.16) Toyota's Ralf Schumacher has scolded his hugely successful elder brother, Michael, for putting unfair pressure on the Ferrari team.

37-year-old Michael Schumacher told a German magazine last week that he may quit F1, or switch to another team, if the 2006 car is not up to the task of winning races.

''If you have won so much with one team,'' Ralf, 30, said at the Toyota launch in northern France, ''you should not, before the season starts, be talking about leaving if they are not able to win.''

Ralf and Michael have reportedly grown increasingly apart in recent times, most notably in their track spat after Monaco last year, and also evidenced in Ralf's split with his brother's manager Willi Weber.

Indeed, Weber specifically named Toyota as a possible '07 alternate for his seven time world champion. Ralf reckons his shrewd ex-manager is simply trying to put pressure on the scarlet camp.

But he added: ''I wouldn't have a personal problem (with it), it would be nice to have a brother in the team.

''But I don't think it'll happen.

''Personally, I think Michael is very lucky to be with Ferrari. I can't imagine that he really wants to switch teams and start over again.''

Another gong for Peter Sauber
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.16) The Hinwil based F1 team's former owner and boss, Peter Sauber, has taken home yet another award in his native country.

After accepting a lifetime achievement gong in December, the 62-year-old has now been voted 'Swiss Personality Of 2005' by TV viewers, on Saturday, over 17 other nominees.

Sauber pipped young 125cc world champion Thomas Luthi, and figure skating winner Stephane Lambiel, to the honor.

His formula one team, now owned and run by Munich based carmaker BMW, contested 218 grands prix, winning no races but securing six podium places and 195 points.

DC to stay involved in racing
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.16) David Coulthard will probably remain involved in motor sport well beyond the day he hangs up his driving gloves.

The Scottish veteran, who will turn thirty five in March, is staying at Red Bull this year and eyeing Adrian Newey's first concoction for the '07 season.

But even beyond that, DC can't see himself anywhere but in the middle of a race paddock.

''If you have passion for what you do,'' he said at the Autosport International in Birmingham (UK), ''and it puts food on the table, then why wouldn't you want to do that?

''But I haven't considered it because to think about it means to start mentally retiring.''

Ferrari chose Massa over me - Badoer
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.16) Luca Badoer says he was considered for former Ferrari racer Rubens Barrichello's vacated seat.

The Italian, who has loyally tested for the Prancing Horse since 1998, told reporters that Felipe Massa's one-year contract for 2006 was not Maranello based Ferrari's only option.

''We discussed it but then they chose Felipe,'' Badoer, the veteran of 56 grands prix for Scuderia Italia, Minardi and Forti - who turns 35 next Wednesday - explained.

''It would have been my life's dream, but it's a decision I accept, otherwise I would have left.''

It was no real consolation prize, but Badoer happily carried the Winter Olympic torch through Ferrari's HQ in Maranello last week.

Massa set for tough year - Jean Todt
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.16) Felipe Massa is sure to encounter a tough ride in 2006, according to Ferrari principal Jean Todt.

''For the first time in his career he is in a top team,'' the Frenchman cautioned, ''and he will be compared with the best driver in the history of racing, Michael Schumacher.''

Massa, just 24, was always on the Maranello radar. Jean Todt signed a contract with him in 2001, but let him go to Sauber to make his F1 debut in 2002.

''But he could not sign a long term agreement (with Sauber),'' Todt explained, ''because now we have him in our team.''

The team's chief also admits that all the speculation about 2007, such as gossip that Valentino Rossi and Kimi Raikkonen are on their way to his seat, just puts 'even more pressure' on Felipe Massa.

Much effort, however, will be put into keeping the pressure away from Schumacher, Todt said. He denied that the seven time world champion is now being pressed for his decision about the offer of a 2007 contract.

''I will let you guys (the media) give him pressure,'' Jean smiled, ''but whenever Michael feels comfortable to decide will be suitable for us.''

Jean Todt explained: ''The day Michael decides to change his future, we are going to have other great drivers who are going to write the history of Ferrari.''

More Ferrari tests for MotoGP's Rossi
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.16) Reigning MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi will do more track testing for Ferrari's F1 team this year.

That's the revelation of Jean Todt, who answered ever-intense speculation that the flamboyant Italian, 26, is being lined up to become the scarlet team's next world champion.

''I admire Valentino,'' Frenchman Todt said at the recent Ferrari press event in the Italian alps. ''He will be the only one who decides whether to try (formula one) or not.''

In the La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, Rossi confirmed that the tests would happen in the next months, although a final schedule has not been made.

Todt sidesteps Ferrari quit talk
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.16) Jean Todt has sidestepped suggestions that his own Ferrari career is nearing an end.

Like team racer Michael Schumacher, the French team principal's contract runs out at the end of this year. He was asked at the Madonna di Campiglio media event whether he would continue to wear his scarlet colored gear.

''Life becomes difficult when you wake up thinking you no longer have something to do,'' said Todt, who first joined Ferrari in '93.

He added: ''I still have much to do with my life, with and without Ferrari. But Ferrari is not just the firm I work for, it is a like my family.''

Rubens' problem in the Honda cockpit
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.16) Last week, Honda's new signing Rubens Barrichello described F1's new V8-style of horse power as a 'big shock'.

''It was difficult to adjust to,'' the 33-year-old admitted in Jerez.

But Brazilian Barrichello says that, at the moment, he has an even greater concern.

''I have a problem with my seat,'' he explained. ''I am moving around too much in the cockpit and therefore wasting energy.

''We have to work on it.''

Teams face nervous start to '06
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.16) F1's engine makers are likely to endure a nervous season opening race in Bahrain this March.

According to Toyota's engine boss Luca Marmorini, the FIA has not yet made it clear how - for example - a new rule governing the centre of gravity will be measured. Teams are also unsure of things like what liquids will be counted by the FIA as part of the engine's weight.

Previously, centre of gravity and engine weight were not regulated.

However, as evidenced by BAR-Honda last year, the FIA is not afraid to hand down multiple race bans for even minor infringements of the rules. Maximum penalties extend to total championship exclusion.

Marmorini suggested that, no matter how the FIA decide to measure the engine, Toyota's new V8 power plant will come close to the minimum weight of 95 kgs.

''We hope the FIA will be a little bit flexible,'' said Italy's Marmorini. ''We don't want to get to the first race and be disqualified, so we have asked for clarity.''

BMW Sauber to reveal new car on Monday
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.16) The first 'BMW Sauber' F1 car and livery will be revealed to the world's press on Monday.

An official launch event is scheduled at the 'Ricardo Tormo Circuit de la Comunitat' in Valencia - located on the Spanish coast - ahead of the car's first laps on Tuesday.

It is expected that the newly BMW-owned grand prix team's new livery will be predominantly white and navy-blue, despite the traditional Sauber F1 color scheme of mostly blue and turquoise.

Sauber incumbent Jacques Villeneuve will be joined at the wheel by Nick Heidfeld in 2006, alongside Poland's first grand prix star and 'Friday' driver, rookie Robert Kubica.

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