Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
January 26,  2006

Nine new cars at Barcelona
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.26) The new formula one grid is finally starting to take shape -- no fewer than nine of the thirteen cars in action at Circuit de Catalunya on Wednesday were full 2006-spec models.

Although Michael Schumacher's shining '248' Ferrari sat only in the garage in preparation for its group debut a day later, two new - and immediately quick - Honda RA106s joined Renault, BMW Sauber, Toyota, McLaren and Red Bull in running '06 racers.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa, albeit in a 2004 car, went quickest with a V8 engine. Progress, however, was slow at the freezing Spanish facility after a delay due to fog in the morning.

Honda condemn FIA's 2008 rules
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.26) After months of uncertainty and talk of a 2008 'breakaway', Japanese carmaker Honda has now admitted that peace lingers on the F1 horizon.

The Brackley based grand prix team owner's racing president Yasuhiro Wada said in Barcelona that manufacturers - on one side - and Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA are 'getting close' to looking into a unified future.

But he warned that 'many people', Honda included, are not happy about the proposed regulations for post-2007.

''The reason we are racing is for technical things,'' Wada said, playing down the role that demands for more money has played in talks.

He warns that the governing body's proposed rules dumb down what should be the pinnacle of car technology.

Wada asked: ''Three-race gearbox and so on -- where is the technology?

''We need to talk with them about these things.

''Commercial matters are not our priority. We can compromise a little on money and so forth.''

Faulty wind tunnel is now fixed - Webber
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.26) Even without works backing, and despite the loss of a title sponsor, Mark Webber thinks Williams will have a better year in 2006.

The Australian driver, to help the Grove based team launch its 'FW28' in England on Friday, says he and new teammate Nico Rosberg should at least make progress throughout the season.

Last year, the hope provided by a new aerodynamic package at Silverstone faded when it not only did not deliver an improvement, but started Williams on a spiral into deep midfield.

Webber says the problem was the wind tunnel in Oxfordshire.

''Work in the wind tunnel did not translate onto the race track,'' the 29-year-old told Motorsport Aktuell.

He reckons the aerodynamic facility was not working correctly. ''But now it is,'' Webber insisted, ''and things we improve in the tunnel are now being reflected at the track -- and that's also the way it will be from now on.''

Also, far from lament BMW's exit, Mark sees the arrival of Cosworth and new tyre supplier Bridgestone as a 'new start'.

Rapid racer makes Honda want wins
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.26) In Barcelona early Tuesday morning, the message from the mouths of all the top players in a works Honda uniform was clear -- wins.

Despite 2006 being the Brackley based team's first year with 100 per cent Honda ownership, many seasons of over-promising and under-delivering have now reached their crescendo -- and the paymasters in Japan are piling on the pressure to succeed.

So, does it explain Jenson Button and new teammate Rubens Barrichello's mighty pace in their 'RA106' cars against key 2006 rivals on the Tuesday timesheets?

''It's what we expected,'' boss Nick Fry told the Daily Telegraph.

Technical director Geoff Willis says the new off-white racer solves the aerodynamic 'weaknesses' of the 2005 BAR model, while sporting director Gil de Ferran put a metaphorical arm around Button amid further suggestions that his 100 races-no wins record should be better.

''His day will come,'' said the Brazilian former Indy 500 winner. ''And the less he worries, the easier it will be.''

After six years alongside Michael Schumacher, meanwhile - during which time the German won five drivers' titles - Rubens Barrichello is finally eying a decent shot at F1's biggest prize.

''We want to try to be in a position to win each race,'' the Brazilian said, ''and if you can win races, you can also be world champion.

''That's why I have come here.''

Schu's new Schuberth
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.26) Michael Schumacher has a new 'Schuberth' helmet for the 2005 season.

The revised carbon-fibre design, called 'RF1.8', features a new visor system, better ventilation, and increased protection from the sound of a wailing 20,000rpm V8 engine.

37-year-old Schumacher, of Germany, wore his Schuberth at the rollout of the new '248' Ferrari car this week, as he will continue to do at Barcelona on Thursday and then Valencia next week.

At the latter venue, team boss Jean Todt has hinted that Schumacher could be joined on track by Valentino Rossi, the MotoGP champion who is now perpetually linked with a future switch to four wheels.

Schumacher, however, brushed aside the media's latest Rossi-sensationalism. ''I'll be concentrating on developing the new car,'' he said this week.

''Perhaps it is special for him or for journalists, but whether (Rossi) is testing or not won't make any difference to me.''

Italian press hail Ferrari's 'comeback car'
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.26) The often merciless Italian press has unanimously hailed Ferrari's new 2006 spec '248 F1' formula one car.

'La Gazzetta dello Sport' affectionately called it 'red goddess', as a passionate country and 'Tifosi' prepare to blow away the cobwebs of a fruitless past season.

Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa's 248 is 'beautiful and promising,' the daily sports newspaper enthused.

Italy's leading broadsheet, 'Corriere della Sera', said the sleek new scarlet machine is the 'comeback Ferrari', and praised the decision to do away with glitz and glamour and effectively launch the car on a normal test day. ''There is no place for a show, only substance,'' the editorial read.

Another Italian newspaper, however - La Stampa - said there would be 'no more excuses' for Ferrari in 2006.

Test agreement unlikely in 2006
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.26) Yet again, Ferrari seems to be the only team objecting to a gentleman's agreement to limit in-season track testing this year.

But, unlike in 2005, Honda's 46-year-old technical director Geoff Willis said in Barcelona that only unanimity among pitlane would give the green light to a voluntary pact this time around, sparking fears that teams will embark on a hugely expensive free-for-all F1 testing frenzy.

''My feeling is that there will only be an agreement if everyone signs up,'' the Briton said.

Ferrari are, as ever, vehemently opposed to the majority of teams' stipulation that a 30-day test limit be applied. The red team argue that a day limit negates the benefit of having a private test track, and therefore insist that a cap on total mileage is fairer.

However, even in the absence of an agreement, Willis rejects the notion that spending will rapidly escalate just because teams are free to test whenever they like. ''In no business is it acceptable to just squander resources,'' he said.

''Even the well financed teams will be efficient -- you don't test simply for testing's sake.''

Wurz thinks Schu's star fading
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.26) Michael Schumacher's title winning days are over.

That's the belief of Alex Wurz, the long time test driver who will appear in Williams' third 2006 car.

''I believe in cycles,'' the Austrian, who will turn 32 next month, said, ''and you can see a clear downward trend in his career.''

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