Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
January 30, 2006
Montagny turns back on F1
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.30) Renault test refugee Franck Montagny looks set to
leave his formula one dream behind.
The Frenchman, although making the odd appearance in a blue and yellow
car this winter, says he has all but given up on landing a race drive
in the category.
Montagny, 28, tested for Champ Car team 'PKV' at Sebring, in Florida
(US), last week.
''I am here because I want to race in this series in 2006,'' he said.
''I'm not thinking about F1 any more. I did everything I could to get
a chance (to race), but I never got one.''
Montagny tested alongside another PKV hopeful, Katherine Legge, who
recently became the first woman in more than a decade to test a F1 car
The Indianapolis-based team is expected to make a decision about what
drivers to sign shortly.
Schu says Renault 'team to beat'
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.30) Michael Schumacher has singled out Renault as the
team to beat in 2006.
The seven time world champion is upbeat about his own scarlet camp's
prospects, but reckons Renault - the reigning drivers' and
constructors' champion - is the 'team to beat' with its new 'R26'
''They seem very well prepared, very fast, very consistent,'' the
German told reporters in Barcelona late last week. ''Honda is also
making a good impression, but we (Ferrari) are also pretty content
with our work.''
Interestingly, Schumacher, 37, did not even mention McLaren, the 2005
pacesetter but believed to be struggling with Mercedes-Benz's first
On Ferrari's prospects, meanwhile, Michael is bullish but not gushing.
''The car is quite reliable,'' he said of the newly-launched 248 F1.
''We have some little issues to look at, but nothing major.
''In terms of speed, we should be able to fight again for the
championship -- and after last year that is the most important
BMW exit not good for team, says Williams
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.30) At his team's 2006 launch last week, Sir Frank
Williams said winning is 'like oxygen'.
It was a theme that resonated down the ranks, designed to sell the
concept that - despite the departure of a works manufacturer - Grove
HQ still houses a top formula one outfit.
But Nico Rosberg, the 20-year-old racing rookie, sidestepped the
corporate line by suggesting that Williams has indeed stepped down a
rung or two.
''The fact that I am with a team that was not right at the very top
last year can help me,'' the German said, ''because expectations are
not quite as high.''
He added: ''But obviously I hope that we can go up very quickly.''
Even Sir Frank himself, however, can admit that things have looked
rosier from the desk of his Oxfordshire office. Animosity aside, he
admits that the loss of BMW would not be good for any team.
''Losing a works contract does not give you an advantage,'' he
croaked, ''but I think we will still be capable of springing a few
surprises this year.
''I don't think we'll be as bad as some people think.''
Webber says team issues resolved
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.30) Mark Webber's previously rising F1 reputation
took a hit in 2005.
Moving to Williams, the Australian driver was tipped to emulate
countryman and 1980 champion Alan Jones' feats. But not only was he
disappointed with the FW27, Webber attracted often negative
comparisons with his former teammate, Nick Heidfeld.
He also got himself involved in a fair share of on-track incidents.
''If I don't win a race this year,'' the 29-year-old said at Grove
last Friday, ''all the guys will start calling me (tennis') Tim
But not only did Mark underachieve in his own eyes in 2006, he admits
that some forthright conversations with team chiefs Frank Williams and
Patrick Head were held.
''We sat down together ... and sorted it out,'' Webber insists. ''In
the end, you have to be honest with each other, and I know that.''
But he denies that, Heidfeld style, he is concerned about being pushed
by a rising teammate. This time around, it's 20-year-old rookie, Nico
Webber said: ''I have no complaints about that. It's always good to
have the best possible yardstick to measure your performance
Sato admits Super Aguri 'relief'
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.30) Takuma Sato has admitted to feeling 'relieved' by
news that Super Aguri will officially be given a spot in the 2006
The axed Honda driver's comments are seen as the strongest indication
yet that he is bound for the fledgling outfit, but he insisted that no
contract has yet been signed.
''I was anxiously waiting for the official announcement,'' the
Japanese, who turned 29 on Saturday, said in a statement.
But 'Taku' Sato cautioned: ''We have still not announced my part in
the team, so please wait a little longer.''
Williams sees end to 'GPMA' threat
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.30) An end to the dispute that has cast grey clouds
over F1 is nearing.
That is the opinion of Sir Frank Williams, the last team principal to
have signed up to Bernie Ecclestone's new post-2008 Concorde
Apart from Ferrari, Red Bull's teams and Midland, every other F1
player is still aligned with 'GPMA' and the threatened exit from the
However, asked if Mercedes, Renault, BMW, Honda and Toyota will
ultimately tow the line, Williams, 63, said: ''My own opinion is that
I would think so.
''I am aware of less chatter than three or six months ago. There is a
little belligerence from one or two of the usual quarters but I think
they will get together soon.''
Grove is F1 'lifeline' - Karthikeyan
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.30) Narain Karthikeyan admits that his fourth driver
role at Williams is a F1 career 'lifeline'.
The Indian driver nearly swung out of the sport's revolving doors at
the end of 2005, after falling out with his debut employer, Jordan.
However, even if the more coveted 'Friday' seat went to someone else,
Karthikeyan - whose personal sponsor Tata takes up residence on the
FW28 race car - reckons testing for the famous Williams team will at
least keep his name swirling in F1 circles.
''If you drop out of formula one,'' he said, ''you can find it very
difficult to go back in.''
The 29-year-old hinted that being in a top team, even if only visible
at deserted test circuits, is better than plugging away at grands prix
with a lowly F1 straggler.
''It is better to be able to show your talent, like I did (in team
testing) in December,'' Karthikeyan insisted.
Cosworth aim to stay in F1
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.30) According to near unanimous F1 speculation,
Williams is likely to switch from Cosworth to Toyota V8 power after
The 2007 deal could see semi-works 'Lexus' badged Toyotas take up
residence in the FW29 car.
Independent England-based Cosworth, however, don't entertain the
gossip, but insist that convincing Sir Frank and his men that their
engine is the best bet will be a priority this year.
''My job,'' said Cosworth chief Tim Routsis, ''is to deliver the sort
of performance that makes it bloody hard for them to want to go
Although not able to compete with the financial might of the
carmakers, Cosworth is a renowned V8 engine specialist, and - hinting
also at Mercedes' problems - new test driver Alex Wurz says he has
never experienced higher revs at the wheel of a race car.
''I have driven the Mercedes (V8) engine quite a while ago, so I am
sure they have improved,'' said the Austrian.
''I don't want to compare, simply because I don't know enough about
what the McLaren guys are doing right now.''
Who, and what, is an '06 winner?
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.30) With six weeks until the green light in Bahrain,
the buzz in formula one at present is 'who will emerge on top?'.
Under the V10 regime of 2005, McLaren-Mercedes had the quickest car,
even if Renault won both titles. Ferrari, in contrast, struggled on
beleaguered Bridgestone boots, while Honda-powered Jenson Button
notched up his 100th GP without a win.
Even if a definitive picture is not yet clear, 2.4 liter V8-spec 2006
looks like a different ball game entirely.
''I would be surprised if Jenson did not win a race. He needs one and
I think he would deserve it,'' said Sir Frank Williams, who engineered
a $30m deal to let Honda keep their man.
The Grove based chief singles out Honda and its 26-year-old driver as
a potential 2006 force.
Asked about testing, Williams said: ''The number of laps Honda does
each day is frightening. It looks like the Honda we used to know.''
Williams' experienced driver Mark Webber, however, isn't believing
everything he reads on the formula one wire. Renault's Fernando
Alonso, and Juan Pablo Montoya - the similarly Michelin-shod McLaren
ace - are saying that they think the French tire supplier's dominance
But Australian Webber, having switched to Bridgestone, isn't so sure.
He said: ''I think they are putting pressure on Michelin -- we still
see it the other way round.
''I think it's a bit of propaganda.''
Red Bull can win in '07 - Berger
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.30) F1 team Red Bull Racing can expect to be winning
grands prix in 2007.
That is the claim of team owner Dietrich Mateschitz's Austrian
countryman Gerhard Berger, the former ten time formula one winner.
46-year-old Berger told Austria's 'Trend' magazine that Mateschitz did
everything right in the first year after taking over the failed Jaguar
And, credibility retained, Red Bull now resembles a winning team, with
former McLaren trio David Coulthard, Adrian Newey and Peter Prodromou
all set to again start shining.
''In 2007 they will be playing a game that they can win,'' said
Wurz wants to race again
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.30) Alex Wurz wants to race.
It is speculated in F1 circles that the Austrian all but landed the
'Friday' drive at BMW Sauber for 2006, but the Munich carmaker refused
to guarantee his eventual race return.
So, in the end, he went to Williams, but refuses to talk post-2006.
''I have agreed with Frank (Williams) not to talk about that,'' said
the 31-year-old test driver, who after five years switched from
Wurz is thought to have made the Williams move in order to rejuvenate
his racing career, even if it means waiting a year.
He suggested: ''If I don't race, I'm not going to slit my wrists. But
that's the aim.''
Rossi 'brave' to test F1 mettle - Webber
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.30) Valentino Rossi will have nowhere to hide when he
tests alongside the world's best formula one drivers this week.
That's the claim of Williams' Mark Webber, one of the swathe of grand
prix stars who - in Valencia (Spain) - will be keen to compare their
lap times with those of the MotoGP champion, in a V8 Ferrari.
''He's quite brave,'' the Australian said in England late last week,
''throwing himself out there with the rest of us -- but he's always
surprising so who knows.''
Webber, 29, even suggests that some of his rivals will not be
impressed with Rossi's bag of MotoGP titles, when it comes to sharing
a formula one track with the flamboyant Italian. In fact, due to his
rookie status, Rossi's car will be carrying a permanently flashing
light from the moment he takes to the track on Tuesday.
Mark said: ''But at least it's not like this guy we had in Budapest
last year, the Israeli guy, that was a joke.''
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