Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
January 31,  2006

Webber tries new Williams
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.31) After Nico Rosberg, 2006 teammate Mark Webber also got a few debut laps at the wheel of Williams' new 'FW28' car at Valencia on Monday.

German 20-year-old Rosberg, however, did the most work at the wet southern Spanish circuit, 43 laps, ahead of the test's real kick-off on Tuesday morning.

''Today was spent completing filming (of the car),'' said technical director Sam Michael, ''before the proper testing begins.''

Webber, 29, will drive the car on Tuesday.

'Minardi' to keep racing in 2006
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.31) The 'Minardi' name will remain in motor sport in 2006, with confirmation that Gian Carlo Minardi is to loan the famous brand to the 'GP Racing' F3000 team.

Founded by the Italian in 1979 and making its F1 debut in 1985, Minardi looked certain to disappear from the tracks this year after Paul Stoddart sold the Faenza based grand prix outfit he acquired in 2001 to the Red Bull company.

But after buying back his brand, Gian Carlo has arranged that 'Minardi Team by GP Racing' will race, with the 58-year-old on board only as an advisor. The deal is useful for GP Racing because it allows sponsors to be associated with the name.

''I'm just an external advisor,'' Minardi told f1grandprix.it, ''but I had just ended an adventure and they proposed me to begin another.''

He added that he would attempt to broker similar deals with other teams in junior racing, but ruled out a return to the F1 paddock.

''(Gian Carlo) Minardi is 58 years old, formula one is stressful and requires efforts and money that I cannot afford anymore,'' he told the website.

Cosworth dismiss V10 advantage row
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.31) Cosworth has rejected suggestions that F1's controversial engine equivalency restrictions are not fair.

The independent British engine design outfit, to supply V8s to Williams but a 3.0 liter V10 to Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2006, has come under fire for underestimating the advantage the latter team may still maintain despite running a rev limit and air restrictor.

''We see no reason to change the numbers,'' Cosworth chief Tim Routsis, who admitted that Cosworth actually authored the original figures after the request of the governing FIA, told ITV.

Routsis conceded, however, that equivalency is 'difficult ... to define', and said horse power is not the only factor.

But F1's main carmakers, who have produced new 2.4 liter V8s at huge expense, argue that even 'equivalency' is unfair, and that Toro Rosso should either be clearly disadvantaged or also switch to V8 grunt.

Routsis continued: ''But I don't see anybody else running a V10 at the moment, so I think it will be a moot point.

''My expectation is that the rules will stay pretty much as they are.''

Rosberg's no pay driver
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.31) Nico Rosberg has contradicted suggestions that he is a pay driver, after the logo of one of his personal sponsors emerged on his and teammate Mark Webber's Williams-branded helmets.

The 20-year-old, the rookie son of Williams-Cosworth's world champion of 1982 Keke Rosberg, told the Times newspaper that - like Webber - he will be paid by the Grove based team.

Germany's Rosberg, admitting that having a famous surname has often helped in finding sponsors, told the British publication: ''This is the first year I will be paid for driving.

''There won't be much left after I pay the expenses of my support team, but there will be something.''

No matter the logos on the cars, then, Rosberg says he knows what will happen if he does not perform on the track this year.

''Williams are a team that do not bullsh*t their drivers,'' Nico - cooler and calmer than his often volatile Dad - said.

''Everybody in F1 knows that. If I'm a lot slower (than Mark Webber), I'm in trouble.''

Speed would prefer V8 grunt
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.31) Californian F1 rookie Scott Speed says he would rather be powered by a V8 power plant in 2006.

The new Scuderia Toro Rosso driver, 23, chimed into the engine equivalency debate by suggesting that the 2006 2.4 liter formula is the 'future' of the sport.

''Frankly, we'd rather like to have a V8,'' Speed, whose team has opted for the FIA's temporary regulation allowing two years of rev-limited and air-restricted V10s, told Speed TV.

Scott added: ''(Having a V8) would be better for the team in the long run. But a V10 is what we can have right now, and we hope it will work well for us.''

'STR' is currently still testing with Red Bull's 2005 car, but a bespoke racer should hit the track early in February, before the STR1 is launched in March.

Scott Speed said eyeing podiums is not a realistic target for the Faenza based outfit.

He said: ''But definitely points.

''It depends on how the new car will be.

''We have the resources to be well ahead of both (MF1 and Super Aguri), I believe.''

Ferrari owner back in the black
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.31) The prospects of Ferrari owner 'Fiat SpA' are looking up, after the Italian carmaker and company reported a profit in 2005.

It is Fiat's first net profit in five years, and compares with the $1.97bn loss of a year ago.

The $1.62 billion profit should, of course, be viewed in the context of the $2bn payment received from General Motors, the Forbes publication stated.

However, Fiat and Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo commented: ''We have a lot to be satisfied about.''

Montoya on hunt for new team
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.31) Juan Pablo Montoya says McLaren has not yet decided whether he or teammate Kimi Raikkonen will get the boot for 2007.

The feisty Colombian, reportedly disillusioned that Ron Dennis did not take up an option on his contract to extend beyond this year, admitted that he is thus looking for a new seat.

''There has been no decision on what is going to happen,'' Montoya, 30, was quoted as saying by the News of the World tabloid, ''but I am open to offers.''

McLaren has already signed up Fernando Alonso for 2007, meaning that either Juan Pablo or the highly-rated Kimi Raikkonen will make way.

But Montoya insists that he will not be left standing when the music of the next silly season stops. ''I am not waiting for anybody,'' he replied, when asked how long he would wait for Dennis' call.

''I need to find a drive if he doesn't want me.

''If they don't want me, I'll find a team who do.''

MF1 set to launch new weapon
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.31) Midland's first all-new grand prix car will be launched as scheduled this Friday, the 'MF1' formula one team reports.

Although the car's 'M16' designation has reminded some observers of an assault rifle, sporting boss Adrian Burgess promises a 'far better' weapon than 2005's two-year-old Jordan.

He said: ''We've had twelve months of stability now, we know who the owner is, we know where we're going.''

A year ago, the frantic focus at Silverstone HQ was on trying to fit the customer Toyota V10 into a car that was designed for a Ford. ''(With the M16) we've been able to attend to details that we couldn't with last year's car,'' Burgess adds.

He said the M16 has so far performed better in the wind tunnel than did the Shanghai-spec EJ15.

It will be unveiled to the world's media at Silverstone.

Biaggi to test MF1 car again
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.31) When MotoGP refugee Max Biaggi recently tested for the Midland-owned MF1 team, he insisted that it was a 'one off'.

But the 34-year-old Italian, who reportedly will definitely not now race in the World Superbike category in 2006, added that if he ever re-appeared in the machine, it meant he has decided to be serious about formula one.

Biaggi, we can reveal, is set to test for Midland-owned MF1 this week. He is expected to bag a pukka test seat.

''This was an unique thing,'' he said at the time of his Silverstone test. ''If I drive again, then it means that the thing that really boils my blood - the motorcycle - won out.''

A new cloud over British GP
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.31) A grey cloud is once again threatening to move above the British GP.

With news that a $1bn developer, St Modwen Properties, is on the verge of signing a 125-year lease of the Silverstone venue, a group objecting to the plan has emerged within the track-owning British Racing Drivers' Club.

The St Modwen contract must first be ratified by the BRDC at a February 22 (2006) meeting.

Former British F3 champion and BRDC member Harry Stiller is leading the group of objectors, who argue that the formula one race - costing the club some $21m every year - should not be safeguarded at any cost.

''We are being asked to vote on an agreement that could put our club in jeopardy and as yet we know nothing of the detail,'' he told England's Daily Telegraph.

''Under the proposed deal it is my belief that we could lose control of the property entirely.''

A fourth Spanish test track
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.31) A fourth Spanish test circuit could soon be hosting formula one race teams, it is reported.

The television station 'La Otra' claimed this week that a F1-standard track on the Spanish coast, not far from the Portuguese border, is now under construction and should be ready by the start of next season.

Spanish circuits Barcelona, Jerez and Valencia presently host the majority of F1 test action.

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