Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
January 24,  2006

German lands MF1's 'Friday' job
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.24) A fourth German is set to join the formula one circus this year, with 25-year-old Markus Winkelhock on the verge of landing the 2006 'Friday' test seat at Midland.

The highly-promising driver, who incidentally does not carry a huge purse of personal sponsorship, lands the ride after Dutchman Nicky Pastorelli's backing went sour.

Markus is the son of Manfred Winkelhock, the late grand prix driver of the 80s who died in a sports car race in 1985.

He has secured a one-year contract for the Russian-owned 'MF1' squad, thus joining countrymen Nico Rosberg, Nick Heidfeld, and the Schumacher brothers, in the F1 category.

''On Fridays before races,'' Winkelhock told Germany's 'Bild' newspaper, ''I will show what I can do. But now, I must work on building up my neck muscles.''

Pedro admits McLaren race ride 'impossible'
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.24) Pedro de la Rosa is hopeful that his senior test role at McLaren will lead him back to the formula one race grid.

But the 34-year-old Spaniard knows it won't be at the wheel of a silver grand prix racer. He described the thought of contesting an F1 season in a McLaren 'practically impossible'.

''But I would be a valuable addition to many of the other teams,'' de la Rosa told the daily 'Marca' 'paper.

Pedro notched up 63 grands prix for Arrows and Jaguar between 1999 and 2002, and finished fifth in a spectacular one-off drive in injured Juan Pablo Montoya's McLaren seat last year.

He said: ''I am confident that I will get another chance to demonstrate what I can do.''

Villeneuve tops new McLaren in Spain
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.24) All eyes were fixed on the 2006 McLaren's new curves, but Jacques Villeneuve actually topped the timesheets as Barcelona track testing kicked off on Monday.

In chilly conditions at the Spanish venue, he piloted the new 'F1.06' BMW Sauber, promisingly leading the field of four, including teammate Nick Heidfeld in the older 'C24' model.

The life of the new McLaren got off to a mixed start, Pedro de la Rosa recording some decent pace with the virginal MP4-21 over 19 initial laps, but stopping on track with an oil pressure problem.

''This is why we test,'' said the Spanish driver. ''Considering it was a shakedown, everything went well.''

McLaren and BMW Sauber were the only teams on duty at Circuit de Catalunya, in the north of the country, on day one.

Ferrari pen Martini deal
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.24) Ferrari has penned a three-year sponsorship with Martini, the famous Italian drinks firm.

The deal, which will see the famous red and black Martini logo painted on the nose of the Maranello based team's 2006 cars, reunites the historic sponsor with motor racing, after previous commercial associations with Alfa Romeo and Lotus.

''We look forward to an exciting season with a victorious team,'' a Martini & Rossi contact said.

The famous martini cocktail, a mix of gin and vermouth, is named after the Martini company.

Ferrari's new deal comes shortly after the announcement of the major 'Acer' sponsorship, and suggestions that the scarlet team is returning to form following a dire 2005 season.

Mercedes-Benz's Norbert Haug says: ''Ferrari will clearly be stronger than last year.''

Aguri still waiting for green light
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.24) Bosses at the fledgling 'Super Aguri' F1 team are, with bated breath, waiting to hear from the sport's governing body.

A spokesman told crash.net that the Japan-funded, Leafield-based squad has now lodged the FIA's mandatory $48m bond but had hoped to receive an official entry for the 2006 season over the weekend.

''The bond was indeed lodged,'' he told the website, ''and we now hope to hear this week.''

Should the outfit be welcomed onto the 2006 grid, Takuma Sato is guaranteed a drive and his teammate will almost certainly be a countryman. But Japan's Kosuke Matsuura has removed himself from the running, after signing to return to the IRL category in America with the jointly Aguri Suzuki and Adrian Fernandez-owned camp.

Stewart quits as Silverstone president
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.24) Sir Jackie Stewart will quit as president of British grand prix promoter 'BRDC' this year.

The former triple world champion, 66, became president of the Silverstone-based Club in 2000, and just last year fought a bitter campaign to keep the post.

Stewart says he was originally asked by his former F1 boss, the late Ken Tyrrell, to seek the position. ''Ken was a hero and mentor to me,'' he explained, ''and I could not have said no.''

Stewart thus presided over many battles, not least the almost annual fight with Bernie Ecclestone to retain the formula one race. However, the latest British grand prix deal - engineered by Stewart - enraged many within the Club.

Also on Monday, BRDC chairman Stuart Rolt gave an update on plans to revamp the Silverstone circuit to the tune of $1bn, saying that he hopes to have 'concluded an agreement' with a business partner before long.

Kimi returns to F1 track
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.24) 2005 runner-up Kimi Raikkonen will return to the wheel of a formula one car this week.

The Finn is scheduled to try McLaren's brand new MP4-21 at Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday and Friday. It will be his first run since finishing second to Fernando Alonso in the Chinese GP.

''For sure I can't wait to get back to it,'' the 26-year-old Finn said.

Next week, Kimi will test at Valencia, and then throughout February.

McLaren turn screw on Kimi
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.24) As speculation mounts about who might stick around at McLaren to be Fernando Alonso's 2007 teammate, the Woking based team is enthusing about Juan Pablo Montoya.

In a Monday teleconference, the Woking based team's 'F1 CEO' Martin Whitmarsh said the Colombian has moved up a gear in readiness for the '06 season.

''He is raising his game,'' said the Briton, ''and working like hell.''

Whitmarsh suggested that 30-year-old Montoya is determined to beat Kimi Raikkonen, who has been linked with mammoth-salary moves to Ferrari or Toyota.

And he added: ''I sensed at the end of last year that (Juan Pablo) was able to show quicker form than Kimi.''

Whitmarsh is an astute and articulate thinker, and therefore not likely to give away a solid sound bite for those who think serious pressure is being put on Raikkonen to make his mind up about next year.

He said: ''I hope both (Kimi and Juan Pablo) see McLaren as an attractive option. At some stage we will all have decisions to make.''

Schu's not my hero - Rosberg
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.24) Nico Rosberg no longer lists seven time champion Michael Schumacher as a role model.

When the son of 1982 title winner Keke Rosberg was just eight years old, countryman Schumacher wrapped up his first drivers' triumph.

''But I can no longer say he's my hero,'' Nico, now 20, told Germany's Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen TV, ''because he is my competitor. And you should not idolize your rivals.

''But I admire him for everything he has achieved, and for his talent.''

Just a few years ago, Rosberg had it all figured out. After achieving excellent high school scores, he had lined up an interview at the Imperial College in London to study aerodynamics.

But something niggled in the recesses of his mind -- the desire to race.

''It doesn't matter,'' Nico smiled. ''I can pursue my interest in physics in formula one!''

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