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Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
 February 16,  2006


Massa defends Bahrain testers
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.16) Felipe Massa has defended the decision of three F1 teams to abandon cold Europe and test this week in Bahrain.

The Brazilian driver, who on Wednesday topped the times at Sakhir with his V10-powered Ferrari, was joined on track by rivals from Honda and Scuderia Toro Rosso.

Some, like Honda's Jenson Button, have expressed surprise that more of the eleven teams did not turn up, just three weeks ahead of the opening race of 2006 at the same circuit.

''It is so cold in Europe at the moment,'' 24-year-old Massa said at warn Sakhir on Wednesday, but others question the costs and logistics of flying overseas for a single test.

Massa, however - who has switched from Sauber - insisted: ''We think being here is an advantage.

''It was a very good decision.''

He said Ferrari, to stay in Bahrain well beyond Honda and STR's intended schedules, is 'under a lot of pressure' after teammate Michael Schumacher won just a single grand prix in 2005.

''I will try my very best to get as many podium finishes as possible,'' Massa said, ''when the season gets underway.''









Schu and his dog
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.16) During a break from testing in Bahrain on Wednesday, former world champion Michael Schumacher took his dog 'Shiva' for a walk around the Sakhir venue's paddock.

The big dog's appearance sparked some concern in the local press, as the German had appeared to have broken strict quarantine laws.

But a spokesman said the laws can be sidestepped if the pet-owner carries sufficient documentation.

Peaceful strolling aside, Schumacher endured a troublesome day at the wheel of the new '248' Ferrari -- he ran only until about noon, when a problem struck.

He will try again on Thursday, the last day of running for Honda and Scuderia Toro Rosso.

Back in Europe, at Valencia in Spain, five teams - including McLaren, Renault, Red Bull and MF1 - continued to test, with Williams' rookie Nico Rosberg on top of things.

''We need to find more performance,'' said Midland's Christijan Albers, about two seconds off the pace on the short, tight circuit.

Kimi Raikkonen also showed some pace in his striking chrome McLaren, but only logged a handful of laps with yet another Mercedes-Benz V8 failure.

Teammate Juan Pablo Montoya also had problems, but so too did the usually reliable Renault, in the hands of Giancarlo Fisichella on Wednesday.

At a third test venue, meanwhile, Jacques Villeneuve and Nick Heidfeld circulated alone for BMW Sauber at Barcelona, with the latter German driver proving just a tad quicker.









MF1 trio charge for super licenses
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.16) Midland's MF1 team will apply for at least two, and probably three, F1 super licenses at the end of the Valencia test.

Young German Markus Winkelhock, and Swiss-Italian Giorgio Mondini, ran at the Spanish circuit this week with the primary objective of collecting the necessary 300kms in order to qualify for the mandatory FIA document.

Completing the trio of drivers likely to share the 'Friday' car in 2006, Adrian Sutil will do his laps on Thursday.

A statement admitted that Mondini's objective on Wednesday was 'running more than 300km', while team manager Manfredi Ravetto admitted to 'Auto Motor Und Sport' that Winkelhock's plan was also 'to complete a full grand prix distance'.

Mondini, Italian-born but with Swiss nationality, will complete at least nine Fridays for MF1 this year, with the German magazine claiming that Sutil and Winkelhock are likely to do about four official practices each.

Further, Auto Motor Und Sport revealed that Sutil, also German, would probably run at Imola, Monaco, the Nurburgring and Suzuka, while Winkelhock - nicknamed 'Winki' by the team - was penned to drive at least at the Hockenheimring track.









Another Finn joins McLaren
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.16) Another Finn will soon join McLaren.

To help driver Kimi Raikkonen, and teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, with their health and fitness, Aki Hinsa - currently in Turin - will leave his post on the Finnish Olympic Committee to join the team.

He has already worked with the Woking-based squad part time, but will now lead a full time staff of four, including Kimi (Mark Arnall) and Juan's (Gerry Convey) trainers.

The deal is part of new 'Direxiv' branding on the chrome MP4-21 car, which sees female CEO Misato Haga - linked with a Super Aguri-like 'b' McLaren team for 2007 - become formally affiliated with the team.









Mosley to write F1 column
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.16) FIA president Max Mosley will author a column in the monthly British 'F1 Racing' magazine throughout 2006.

Called 'Grip 'n' Spin', the 65-year-old Englishman's first entry is predictably about the need for cost saving in formula one, and the disinclination of the famed carmaker group.

Mosley, serving a new, third term as FIA chief that is not set to expire until late 2009, is a former team chief but also a qualified barrister, whose infamous father Oswald was imprisoned during World War II for leading a Fascist political party.









Loophole says 'STR01' is legal
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.16) Despite the team's avowals to the contrary, paddock speculation is convinced that the 'new' STR01 Toro Rosso car is simply a reworked 2005 'RB1' Red Bull.

As energy drink mogul Dietrich Mateschitz's second team, the apparent STR approach is hardly surprising. But, to the letter of the Concorde agreement, it is actually illegal, because every team must either pen a unique car and its components, or buy them from a non-F1 entity.

Indeed, the clause moved Super Aguri to scrap plans to run the 2005 BAR in 2006, and instead revert to the four-year-old Arrows A23.

Red Bull, already under fire for running a limited V10 in the junior team's car, insist that 'STR01' is neither the RB1 or a development of last year's Minardi. It cannot argue that copying the RB1 is legal because it was basically designed by defunct Jaguar/Ford, as Red Bull Racing acquired the team from Ford as a going concern.

It has emerged, however, that a 'loophole' may be in play, with claims that - on paper - the Jaguar R5 (RB1) was officially designed and built by a Ford subsidiary -- which is a non-F1 entity.

Furthermore, Scuderia Toro Rosso - testing the actual '05 Red Bull in Bahrain this week - now owns the intellectual property rights of the STR01 design, meaning that - in essence - the copy is legal.

It should, however, be pointed out that any rival team can protest the legality of the Toro Rosso car at any time once it has debuted.









Mosley's radical engine plan
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.16) FIA president Max Mosley has proposed to totally revolutionize formula one's engine rules.

Although the brand new 2.4 liter V8 formula is yet to even debut at a grand prix, the Briton revealed that the Federation was - for 2011 - thinking about no longer mandating the number of cylinders or engine capacity.

Instead, one of the only limits on engine design would be the amount of fuel allowed per race.

''All kinds of motors will be allowed,'' Max was quoted as saying by the Italian 'La Gazzetta dello Sport' newspaper, ''but every car will get an equal amount of fuel.

''So it will be based on (fuel) consumption. Who wins will be the one who uses (the fuel) best.''

Mosley admitted that his idea also tips its hat to the world's 'oil crisis' and to critics of the excesses and waste of futile motor racing.

He said: ''It is something that we will talk about at greater length on a later date.''









Honda pack more power - Alonso
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.16) Although some recent reports hinted at a weakness in the new Honda V8's design, world champion Fernando Alonso says it is the pick of the paddock at present.

Alonso's Renault team, and Honda - with Ferrari also in the mix - have been the standouts of the oft-called 'winter championship'.

But the 24-year-old Spaniard reckons it is Honda with the most powerful 2006 engine of all, and also suggested that Ferrari may be ahead of the Renault V8.

''We're pretty quick,'' Alonso told Spanish radio last week, ''but if we talk about horse power, Honda and Ferrari are now in front.''

He also mused about McLaren's sub-standard winter form, but denied that he was starting to worry about his infamously early switch to the British team for 2007.

Alonso told 'Cadena SER': ''They don't look very quick at the moment, but I am sure it will not be long and they will be winning races again.

''Hopefully they'll be good again for next year.''

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