Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
 February 20,  2006

Toro Rosso has mountain to climb - Tost
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.20) Franz Tost says 'Scuderia Toro Rosso' has a mountain to climb in F1.

Although new to the role of team principal, Tost - the Austrian - was a senior member of BMW's F1 foray for some time.

''We are a long way from our goals,'' he told the 'Tiroler Tageszeitung' newspaper.

''There is an awful lot of work for us to do.''

Toro Rosso, owned by Tost's countryman Dietrich Mateschitz, is the new incarnation of Faenza based Minardi. Tost said one of his first tasks was transforming the atmosphere of a 'family' team into one that is serious about success.

Beginning to get a reputation as a tough operator, the team chief also reveals that his personal effort to the job is equally arduous.

''I start my day at about 7am, sometimes earlier,'' Tost - who has now moved to Italy - told the 'paper, ''and at 10.30pm I am finished.

''Yes, it's a long day, but we are setting up a new team.

''It demands total attention.''

FIA to impose '110 per cent' rule
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.20) Although the old 107 per cent rule is a thing of the past, F1's governing body will impose a '110 per cent' qualifying rule in 2006.

FIA president Max Mosley confirmed to reporters last week that the 107 rule was gone, but suggested that he supported the concept of requiring the field to be up to speed.

''(The rule) should be there,'' said the Briton.

The 110 per cent rule will be in force in the final third of new 'knockout' qualifying this year, to prevent drivers from going slowly and saving fuel. Any lap, including in and out laps, that are slower than 110 per cent of the drivers' own quickest lap, will not count towards a fuel top-up.

At the end of the session, stewards will add up how many laps each top-10 driver has done, and allow the team to top up the tank.

How much fuel can be added for a 'credited' lap, moreover, will be uniform, as Mosley explains.

''Otherwise it would have been like having them going around with flamethrowers coming out of the back,'' Max said.

Max and Bernie disagree about V8s
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.20) F1 power-players Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley do not agree about the merits of the new V8 engine rule for 2006.

Mosley, the FIA president, insists that the V10 axe and arrival of a more restrictive V8 formula reduces the 'need' for mammoth engine development costs.

''(The rules) make it possible for independent commercial suppliers such as Cosworth and Mecachrome to remain fully competitive while spending a mere fraction of the manufacturers' budget,'' he told F1 Racing magazine.

In another racing magazine, however - Italy's Autosprint - F1 supremo Ecclestone admitted that he is no fan of the lesser V8 grunt.

The 75-year-old said it would have been cheaper to simply rev-limit the V10s.

''(The) V8 (formula) has cost a fortune to develop,'' Britain's Bernie explained, ''so there could have been a way to save much more money.''

Ferrari find '248' glitch - Schu
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.20) Ferrari has identified a mechanical problem that delayed progress on the new '248' car in Bahrain last week, according to Michael Schumacher.

The German, back on track at the now empty Sakhir circuit on Sunday, spoke after playing a friendly soccer match against locals.

''Yes, we found the problem and why (the part) had malfunctioned,'' he told reporters. ''I have spent more time standing around than I would have liked, but that's just what testing can sometimes be like.''

Back in Europe, Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya is preparing to host no less than eight of the eleven teams this week, from Tuesday.

McLaren, Williams, Honda, Red Bull, MF1, Renault and Toyota will be in action in Spain, as will F1 debutant Super Aguri.

2005 runner-up Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, raced into last weekend with a smile, after topping Friday's time sheet on the final day at Valencia.

Despite McLaren's recent troubles, the Finn's time was the best of the entire week, as Renault, Red Bull and MF1 wrapped up the winter testing session.

''Barcelona will be my last test before going to Bahrain,'' Kimi said.

MF1's Shnaider wants a fair go
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.20) Alex Shnaider has urged Midland's 'doubters' to give his team a fair go.

After the despondent and rumor-laden 2005, in which the Russian-Canadian's crew gave a sputtering exit for the Jordan identity, 'MF1' has been hard at work to improve on that image for their first real season of F1 racing.

Among the biggest rumors of last year was owner Shnaider's apparent desire to already off load the team.

But he insisted: ''We're not only still here, we're stronger and more motivated than ever.

''As tempting as it might be to tell (the doubters) to shut up, that's not our way. All we ask for is the opportunity to be judged fairly on our own merit.''

Shnaider's comments are hot on the heels of an 'Autosprint' interview with Bernie Ecclestone, in which the F1 supremo admitted he felt 'guilty' about convincing Shnaider to buy Eddie Jordan's ailing Silverstone squad.

Bernie told the Italian publication: ''Alex is a businessman but he probably underestimated the work that comes with a successful F1 team.''

Anderson joins GP2
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.20) Former F1 engineer Gary Anderson will re-emerge in the paddocks of the racing world this season.

Although seemingly finished with grand prix racing, the highly experienced Ulsterman - whose latest post was with Jordan and he even worked on the new Midland project - has signed to work for the Spain-based 'Racing Engineering' team in GP2.

Anderson will work alongside compatriot Adam Carroll, the part time Honda tester who will drive in GP2 in 2006.

Anderson said: ''Hopefully some of my 30 years experience will help him achieve his goal as a race driver in a top F1 team.''

GP2 chief rubbishes Mosley plan
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.20) A GP2 team co-owner has rubbished Max Mosley's proposal to make the series a sort of second division for formula one.

The FIA president said last week that, each year, F1's bottom team or two could be demoted to GP2, making way for GP2's stand outs to find a spot on the grid.

But Ivone Pinton, the Durango GP2 team's boss, told La Gazzetta dello Sport that the promotion-relegation scheme will simply not work.

''You can spend about 4 million Euro for one season in GP2,'' he told the Italian newspaper, ''so who can find the missing money to go up to 100m Euro for F1 in a few months time?''

Even if the bank balance could be bolstered, Pinton added, the other problems would be increasing staff numbers, building a wind tunnel, and changing the 'structure' of a small team.

GP2 organizer Bruno Michel said on Monday that the 2006 grid - with well known names like Timo Glock, Gianmaria Bruni, Nelson Piquet and Lewis Hamilton - shows that the series is the 'only true stepping stone' to F1.

''I am sure that this season will pick up where 2005 left off,'' he said, ''with the cream ... fighting it out to be GP2 champion on their way to bright futures in formula one.''

'Iconic' Brit GP should be safe - boss
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.20) Historic Silverstone's spot on the annual F1 calendar is safer than most.

Any lingering expectation that the above statement is true was questioned even more recently, when much loved and legendary Spa Francorchamps got the chop.

But Richard Phillips, managing director at the British grand prix venue, played down fears that Silverstone - scene of the very first world championship race in 1950 - could again be endangered.

''I'm not even sure formula one can really think about Britain not having a grand prix,'' the Englishman told PA Sport.

''It was the original post-war grand prix. It is iconic.''

Silverstone and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, however, share an uneasy past, with the Briton regularly threatening to abandon the increasingly outdated venue.

Lauda knocks BMW's approach
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.20) Triple world champion Niki Lauda has criticized BMW for not taking an aggressive enough approach to its renewed formula one foray.

BMW, the Munich carmaker that abandoned Williams after six years to buy the Sauber team, insist that victories can wait in 2006, with the only target being an improvement on eighth in the constructors' battle.

But Lauda, who once led the Jaguar team, reckons there is no time to take a cautious approach to grand prix racing.

He also said BMW, with Nick Heidfeld and Jacques Villeneuve, need a real 'star driver' in the cockpits.

''If your car is no good in the first year,'' Lauda said in the 'Euro Sport Automagazine', ''then you still won't have a star in the car a year later.''

Outspoken Lauda, who turns 56 on Wednesday, also panned the man at the helm, Mario Theissen, who he said is a BMW 'company' thinker.

''That attitude has little to do with the reality of formula one,'' he said, ''and can even be counter productive.''

Ralf, Trulli, not 'top' pairing - Symonds
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.20) Jarno Trulli is not capable of winning regularly in formula one, according to a former chief of Toyota's Italian race driver.

Pat Symonds, who oversaw the 31-year-old's maiden win at Renault in 2004, told F1 Racing magazine that JT's is perhaps the most 'complex' character on the whole grid.

''He implodes,'' said the director of engineering, adding to the oft-repeated theory that Trulli is a great qualifier but a poor racer.

Symonds added: ''He can be so quick, but if the slightest thing goes wrong, then his degradation of performance is staggering.''

The Briton also aimed fire at Trulli's Toyota teammate, Ralf Schumacher, describing the German as not a top driver.

''I don't rate him as highly as Giancarlo (Fisichella), for example,'' Symonds said.

Villeneuve could 'surprise' - Mansell
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.20) Jacques Villeneuve could be a 'surprise' package of 2006, according to fellow former champion Nigel Mansell.

The 1992 title winner thinks the French Canadian - who lifted F1's big trophy five years later - is capable of again finding the sort of form that put him wheel to wheel with Michael Schumacher throughout '97.

''Jacques can be extremely fast,'' 52-year-old Mansell remarked.

JV, 34, copped a lot of flak in 2005, as he returned full time to formula one with Sauber. At the end of 2004, Villeneuve also disappointed observers by failing to get up to speed with a Renault stint.

But Mansell commented: ''If BMW stand fully behind him, I think he could surprise some people.''

Hockenheim avoids '06 axe
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.20) Hockenheim, whose German grand prix looked dead in the water for 2006, will host the formula one world in July this year.

After the latest crisis meeting in Stuttgart, a 'solution' to stave off insolvency was found, according to mayor and circuit boss Dieter Gummer.

According to reports, the city invested $5 million into the circuit.

''There is a good chance that insolvency has been avoided,'' said Baden-Wurttemberg Prime Minister Gunther Oettinger, while it also emerged that Mercedes' Norbert Haug attended the summit in Germany.

Max, Renault, propose F1 'freeze'
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.20) F1 teams would be unable to modify their engine designs for three years from 2008, according to Max Mosley's latest radical proposal.

In his compulsive drive to cut costs for smaller teams, the FIA president says manufacturers should have to submit a fixed V8 specification to the governing body so that it could monitor and penalize any design tweaks between 2008-2010.

The move could then precede Mosley's next step -- a fuel consumption formula for 2011.

Mosley said the beauty of an engine freeze, and the associated cost savings, is that nothing will change for the man in the grandstand.

Although some quarters of the specialized media claim that Renault's interest in the idea is 'new information' - and therefore has political implications - the concept of a three year freeze first surfaced in January 2005 -- in a letter from the French carmaker to the FIA boss.

''The technical and sporting regulations should be frozen for a minimum of three years,'' the team proposed more than a year ago.

''Stability of regulations will reduce costs.''

F1 daughter signs DTM deal
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.20) The daughter of an 8-time formula one winner will take a step closer to the grand prix grid in 2006.

31-year-old Vanina Ickx, whose Belgian father Jacky drove for Ferrari, McLaren and Williams, has been signed to race an Audi A4 by the new DTM team run by Colin Kolles, who is also in charge of the Midland F1 squad.

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