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
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
''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
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
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
''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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