Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
January 25, 2006
Ferrari axe Mugello plans
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.25) Ferrari has axed plans to test at Mugello this
week, after Michael Schumacher struggled for grip in the new '248' car
as it was launched officially on Tuesday.
The world's media converged on the Tuscan venue to catch a glimpse of
the newly-liveried red racer, but freezing conditions made it a trying
experience for all. And when the next day's forecast looked even
worse, Maranello bosses scrapped plans for Wednesday and vowed to take
the car to the group test in Barcelona.
Schumacher, 37, will resume running in the warmer country, while
teammate Felipe Massa traveled directly to Spain on Tuesday evening to
test the V8-powered F2004 the next day.
At Barcelona on Tuesday, Juan Pablo Montoya got his first taste of
McLaren's new 2006 car, the MP4-21. In an older car, test driver Gary
''The new car feels very similar to last year's car,'' Colombia's
Montoya said, ''but a little bit better. It's still very early stages
Ferrari's Marc Gene topped the field of eight in his 2004 model,
sharing the track with BMW Sauber, and Robert Doornbos, who got to try
the new Red Bull car for the first time, but was slowest.
Schu content with number five
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.25) Michael Schumacher says he is untroubled that,
for the first time since 2000, the digit on his car's nose is not the
coveted number '1'.
The champion's honor, this time around, belongs to Fernando Alonso,
while the seven time title winner must be content with number 5.
''Having a different number is not so long ago that I cannot
remember,'' Schumacher, 37, smiled at Mugello during the launch of the
'248 F1' Ferrari racer -- whose naming is also a break in tradition.
It could be worse. With '5' on the Benetton, Schumacher won his very
first title, in 1994. It has also guided Sir Jackie Stewart, Emerson
Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill,
and Alonso, to the biggest F1 prize.
''Honestly, if it is not the number one, I don't care what it is,''
Michael shrugged. And regarding the 2006 car's novel '248' naming, he
commented: ''It looks like we want to start a new chapter!''
Schumacher stayed away from making too many observations about the new
car at the low-key unveiling, which mainly involved the German turning
laps and posing on the start line with team bosses and teammate Felipe
Massa, attending his first Ferrari launch in jeans.
''So far, as we have tested in Italy,'' Michael observed, ''the
weather has not really cooperated. But I have a positive initial
He added that '248', with a completely revised suspension layout, will
wear a new aerodynamic package for the first race in Bahrain.
Schumacher continued: ''I think we will be able to fight for the
championship with this car. But at this point it is pretty hard to
Rossi could test at Valencia - Todt
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.25) MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi's next formula
one outing could be at Valencia (Spain), Ferrari principal Jean Todt
At the launch of the red team's 2006 '248' racer at Mugello (Italy),
the French chief did not quell speculation that 26-year-old Rossi
could be bound for a four-wheel future.
Todt said: ''Nothing has been decided.
''It's not 100 per cent certain but (Rossi) could soon be doing more
testing in Valencia.''
The Prancing Horse's president Luca di Montezemolo, however, denied
that Ferrari is already thinking beyond 2006, when Michael Schumacher
and Felipe Massa's current contracts will have lapsed.
The Italian responded: ''2007? I have asked everyone at this team for
maximum concentration for 2006.''
'Schu has two more years in him'
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.25) On the Mugello grid, Michael Schumacher and 2006
teammate Felipe Massa posed for photographers with the new '248 F1'
grand prix car.
But much of the world's media in Italy wondered what the faces of the
men in scarlet overalls would look like in a year.
Nobody was giving much away, but Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo
does not hide that he wants Schumacher to pen a new deal.
''He will decide,'' said the Italian chief. ''For me, I believe he has
everything he needs to stay at the sport's highest level for two more
''But if he tells us in the middle of the season that he is no longer
motivated, we will be sad, but we will understand, because motivation
is important not only in sport, but in your life.''
Montezemolo also rejected rumors that formula one is becoming simply
too expensive for Ferrari to compete in.
The Italian said: ''This is a sport in which we have always been
involved, and in which we always will be.''
Byrne signs to stay at Ferrari
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.25) Long time Ferrari designer Rory Byrne has penned
a new two year contract.
Although many in F1 circles expected the 62-year-old South African to
retire completely in 2006, he will stay on as a consultant after
handing over full control of the design of Ferrari's single seater
racers to Aldo Costa.
In fact, even more so than with the unsuccessful F2005, Byrne had
little to do with the actual design of Costa's 2006 spec '248'.
But technical director Ross Brawn said: ''Rory has got huge experience
and we want to use that.''
England's Brawn, meanwhile, said he wants to stay at Maranello beyond
the end of his 2006 contract, but team boss Jean Todt gave nothing
away when asked if retirement loomed for him.
Montoya says he's on the market
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.25) Juan Pablo Montoya says he is already looking
around for a new formula one team for 2007.
Speculation suggested that, in mid-December, Woking chief Ron Dennis
did not take up an option on the Colombian's services beyond this
year. It is a concept that Montoya, 30, does not reject.
''I would happily stay with McLaren,'' he told 'Auto, Motor und
Sport'. ''Continuity is a very important thing. But the team would
first have to show me that they want me.''
Montoya's comments, of course, should be swallowed in the context of
Ron Dennis' signing of Fernando Alonso for 2007, and the simple fact
that - at the very least - either Juan Pablo or Kimi Raikkonen will
have to make way for the Spanish world champion.
Already, the rumor mill has suggested that Montoya could go to Red
Bull, but the latest suggestion is that manager Julian Jakobi has now
opened talks with BMW Sauber about 2007.
Montoya warned Dennis that he will not wait forever for his decision.
''If I get an offer from Ferrari, Renault or BMW, then I will be off
'MF1' promises big test program
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.25) Colin Kolles has promised that Midland's
newly-named 'MF1' team will embark on a big test program in February.
The Silverstone based squad's managing director told 'Speed TV' - on
the one-year anniversary of taking over Jordan - that the
not-yet-unleashed 'M16' car will be taken to Jerez, Valencia and
Barcelona prior to the season opener in Bahrain.
Kolles said: ''We have 15 days of testing, so there will be a lot to
learn. Hopefully the car will be quick enough!''
It's been a busy week at the Russian-owned camp. On Tuesday, Midland
confirmed that rising German talent Markus Winkelhock has been signed
as a test driver.
''(He) will participate in (the) Friday driver lineup,'' a statement
read, ''the full details of which will be announced at a later date.''
It was also announced that the logo of container shipping company
'Zim' will be painted on the 2006 car.
McLaren wants Ferrari sponsor in '06
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.25) Moves are afoot to accelerate F1 sponsor
Vodafone's 2007 switch from Ferrari to McLaren.
The Woking based team's 'F1 CEO' Martin Whitmarsh admitted that
'discussions' are presently going on about - presumably - ending the
mobile company's 2006 Ferrari association to install the new title
''Certainly we would like Vodafone to be with us this year,'' he said.
But by launching its new car with the Vodafone logo intact on Tuesday,
Ferrari suggested that such a shift would be unlikely.
Whitmarsh also attempted to clear up lingering paddock speculation
that several McLaren engineers - including aerodynamic chief Nicholas
Tombazis - are starting to take up the tasty offers of rival teams.
He said: ''If a team has success, then inevitably other teams start to
make good offers.''
Fisichella keeps driver's license
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.25) Despite being clocked at a whopping 148kph in a
60-zone in November, F1 ace Giancarlo Fisichella has kept his Italian
The Roman was nabbed by local police speeding home at 4.30am with his
wife. Fisichella, winner of two grands prix, said at the time that
they were rushing to be with their sick child.
According to new reports in Italy, a judge has ruled that the
32-year-old Renault driver should not be punished beyond a hefty fine.
Fiat does not fund Ferrari - president
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.25) Ferrari is not a works formula one team that is
backed by a manufacturer, according to the marque's president, Luca di
Although Italian carmaker Fiat is commonly viewed as Ferrari's 'parent
company', and Montezemolo is also in charge of the Turin-based
manufacturer, he said the link between the pair should end there.
''I would like to get this straight,'' said the Italian. ''Fiat does
not give Ferrari a single Euro for formula one. All activities for
racing depend on Ferrari's resources alone.
''We are a private team.''
BMW had V8 vibration problem
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.25) According to the rumor mill, BMW - perhaps more
than most - has grappled with the problem of vibration in its new 2.4
liter V8 engine.
And while the current state of play must remain in the field of
speculation and suggestion, BMW Sauber's technical director Willy
Rampf has admitted that it was a big problem the team dealt with early
''When we ran the P86 engine for the first time,'' the German told
Motorsport Aktuell, ''it jumped up and down wildly on the test
Rampf added that the problem has been addressed.
Seven time world champion Michael Schumacher, meanwhile, inspired a
few smiles at Mugello on Tuesday when asked about the noise of the new
''They sound, to me, a bit like Tina Turner's voice,'' the German
Ferrari will let me win - Massa
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.25) Felipe Massa has vowed to charge for podiums,
victories and championships in his Ferrari.
For any other grand prix driver, such a 'goal' is not striking. But,
as Rubens Barrichello and Eddie Irvine know well, Michael Schumacher's
Ferrari teammate is very much a 'number-two'.
But it's a notion Brazilian Massa, 24, plays down.
''Before each grand prix, the objective is to win it,'' Felipe said at
the launch of his and Schumacher's new '248 F1' model in Italy.
He added: ''But my first goal this year is to get my first podium.
Then my goal is the victory, and afterwards the world championship
Massa does not think Ferrari will prevent him from winning grands
''I am sure the team will give us both chances to win races,'' he
insisted. ''In a top team it is important that both drivers get as
many points as possible, because the points count also for the
constructors' world title.''
Schu's new rearward view
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.25) At least visibly, Ferrari's new '248 F1' racer is
not radical -- unless you're referring to the car's rear mirrors.
It is perhaps the most unique aspect of the 2006 model. Unlike more
conventional designs, the mirrors' unusually-long stalks are not
attached to the cockpit sides, but to the top of the side pods.
Michael Schumacher denied that it is now harder to keep tabs on what
is happening behind the scarlet racer.
''The view is different,'' the German said at Mugello, ''but it's no
37-year-old Schumacher explained that the mirrors were moved for the
'248' car after tests in the wind tunnel showed that it is a more
Also new at Mugello was Schumacher's new 'Deutsche Vermogensberatung'
sponsor cap, featuring a Chinese character on the peak, the Italian
flag on the left, and the German flag on the right.'
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