Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
January 17,  2006

Ralf hits out at F1 media
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.17) Ralf Schumacher has struck out at the media for misinterpreting comments made at the Toyota launch on Saturday.

The German racer was reported as criticizing his elder brother, after saying that Michael Schumacher 'should not be talking about leaving' Ferrari if the 2006 car is not quick enough to win races.

Some reports of the comments pointed to a growing rift between the siblings, and others even suggested that Ralf, 30, is jealous of Schumacher's huge success in the sport.

''Some articles regarding a comment I made about Michael took what I said completely out of context,'' he insisted.

''I still wish that Michael spends many more successful years in F1. I am proud of him and his achievements and, like in the past, wish him all the best for the future.''

'06 German GP safe - organizers
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.17) Hockenheim has denied reports that the running of events at the formula one venue in 2006 is under threat.

Although the German circuit is undoubtedly in some financial strife, officials published a statement on Monday promising that 'all events at the Hockenheimring will take place as scheduled'.

Among the major events planned at Hockenheim this year include the German grand prix, DTM races and a Robbie Williams open-air concert.

The F1 event is scheduled to run in late July.

Ex-Toyota boss charged in F1 spy scandal
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.17) In addition to reports that Gustav Brunner is implicated in the Toyota-Ferrari spy scandal, it has been confirmed that former F1 principal Ove Andersson has also been charged.

Prosecutors in Cologne, home of Toyota's F1 team, contend that former aerodynamics boss Rene Hilhorst is also involved, as well as ousted chief designer Brunner.

All three no longer work at Toyota.

The case, which dates back several years, hinges around ex-Ferrari workers who allegedly stole software from the Maranello team and used it to test aerodynamic data for the 2003 and 2004 Toyota single seaters.

''Toyota Motorsport has not been formally notified of the matter and does not have full knowledge of the specific issues,'' a team spokeswoman explained.

It is expected that a German court will hear the charges some time this year, while the former Ferrari workers in question will be tried under Italian law.

The team spokeswoman added: ''Toyota Motorsport would like to stress that the charges have not been brought against the company.''

Andersson led Toyota into F1 in 2002, and remained in charge in '03.

Glitch ends Schu's first day in new Ferrari
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.17) The first day in the life of Ferrari's 2006 F1 car ended when the V8 engine spluttered to a halt, according to reports.

Italian sources said the blank-liveried racer, codenamed '657', stopped on the main straight at Ferrari's private Fiorano test track after about 50 laps.

The sources suggested that it may have been just a fuel pick-up problem.

But in near-freezing conditions on Monday, the quickest lap was a credible 59.5s, the Maranello based team's F1 press office reported.

Rain and snow permitting, testing of the car - which is rumored to be officially designated 'F2006' or perhaps 'F248' - will resume on Friday.

'Intel Inside' may have spoiled F1 deal
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.17) For many F1 fans, a first glance at BMW Sauber's 2006 car on Tuesday will also be a first glance at new major sponsor and computer chip maker Intel's revised brand logo.

The logo will apparently feature very prominently on the BMW-owned team's new white and blue grand prix car.

But according to 'The Inquirer', the new F1 deal and Intel's new logo and slogan are closely related. Intel marketing director Mark Brailey reportedly told the publication that the new logo 'allowed Intel to cut a deal' with the team.

The former 'Intel Inside' logo, it seems, might have wrongly suggested that an Intel computer chip actually lurked in the F1 machine.

The new logo also includes a new slogan -- 'Leap Ahead'.

''We believe this brand evolution allows Intel to be better recognized for our platform vision and contributions beyond the microprocessor,'' a company spokesperson added.

F1 teams settle court dispute
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.17) Two law firms have settled out of court with formula one teams that had vowed to sue them.

'Baker & McKenzie' and 'Linklaters' were being sued for negligence by McLaren and Williams, after the British teams claimed they had been given bad advice which cost them a slice of the proceeds of F1's commercial rights in 1999.

The High Court in London was due to hear the case starting this week.

Linklaters settled with Williams late last year, while Baker & McKenzie settled with McLaren some time last week. The value of either settlement is unknown.

In 1999, Bernie Ecclestone sold a $1.5bn stake in F1, but purportedly did not pay McLaren and Williams because their agreement with the sport's boss had not been drafted properly.

BMW launched new colors on Monday
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.17) On Monday, F1 outfit BMW Sauber kicked off its official two-day launch in coastal Spain.

The Switzerland-based team, taken over by Munich manufacturer BMW ahead of the 2006 season, showed off its new image with a fashion show at Valencia's 'Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencas' buildings, not far from the twisty test circuit.

Nick Heidfeld, Jacques Villeneuve, Robert Kubica and Mario Theissen were among those present, as top Brazilian model Alessandra Ambrosio graced the runway in BMW Sauber gear in front of the world's media.

In the evening, the team threw a big party.

On Tuesday, the 2006 car and livery will be unveiled and tested for the first time on track.

For the record, the team's new clothing is predominantly white, but also features red and blue.

Shnaider supports Russian GP
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.17) Russian-born F1 team owner Alex Shnaider would like to see his country stage a grand prix.

Although today a naturalized Canadian, the 37-year-old billionaire - who bought Jordan and has renamed it 'MF1 Racing' for the 2006 season - says he continues to support plans to stage a formula one race in Russia.

Shnaider, whose Midland Group operates mainly in Russia and Canada, applied to the Russian Automobile Federation for his F1 team's 2006 license, making 'MF1' the first Russian entry.

And, asked if he still supports the concept of a Russian grand prix, he told the 'Azeri' newspaper that both his team and the country in general would benefit from F1.

''Definitely, I support it,'' Alex Shnaider said. ''I would do everything I can to support it.''

Countdown to 2006
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.17) In a few more than fifty days, five red lights on Bahrain's start gantry will officially mark the start of the 2006 season.

Mid-January is therefore a frantic time of year for F1 teams.

BMW Sauber's first collaborative car will be launched and tested in Valencia (Spain) on Tuesday, while the next phase of F1 running at Jerez - also in Spain - is also set to reignite.

Ferrari rolled out its own new racer at Fiorano (Italy) on Monday, and is set to resume the program with Michael Schumacher at its private test circuit on Friday. A few days later, the liveried car will then be launched at nearby Mugello.

McLaren and Toyota will definitely resume Jerez testing on Tuesday, with Williams and Honda to kick off a day later. At Silverstone, not 500 meters from the team's factory gates, 'MF1' will resume testing.

Renault, as well as Red Bull's two grand prix teams, are not planning to run again this week at Jerez de la Frontera, but intend to test further north - at Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona - from the 25th.

Next Friday, Williams' Cosworth-powered FW28 will be launched at Grove.

Trulli now at home in new Toyota
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.17) Jarno Trulli has now adjusted to the new Toyota.

The 31-year-old Italian, who had led teammate Ralf Schumacher for most of 2005, fell behind late in the year with the introduction of a 'b' car.

JT moaned about the heavily revised front end, which has been replicated in the team's initial design for season '06, the TF106.

''He has had time to get used to the different feel,'' technical director Mike Gascoyne told Autosport. ''The problems he did experience have evaporated, and to be honest we didn't need to do much.''

Indeed, so confident is England's Gascoyne in the new car - which has so far impressed on the winter test track - he says he will be 'disappointed' if a race win does not come Cologne based Toyota's way.

So what about the 2006 championship?

''I don't want to make grandiose claims,'' Gascoyne said, ''but you could say we are confident.''

F1 set for 'united' future - Stoddart
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.17) It is looking more and more likely that the F1 carmakers' 'breakaway' threat is now almost over.

Having lost Ferrari and Williams to Bernie Ecclestone's 'Concorde' camp, and with Toyota and Honda only reluctant members of the GPMA alliance, the pendulum seems to have swung away from the prospect of a separate world championship for 2008.

Red Bull's teams and Midland are also closely aligned with Ecclestone and the FIA, leaving only Mercedes-Benz, Renault and BMW firmly committed to the cause.

It is suggested that GPMA was only ever used as a negotiating tool to lever better conditions out of Bernie and the governing body.

''The manufacturers have got what they wanted,'' departed Minardi owner Paul Stoddart told Autosport.

GPMA campaigned chiefly for better equity, money and rules, but Australian Stoddart just wonders whether the FIA's proposed 2008 regulations are really ideal.

Stoddart explained, referring to the GPMA: ''They have a better deal from Bernie, but have they got better regulations and a better deal from the FIA?

''Possibly not, but we will have a united formula one.''

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