Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
 February 21,  2006

Mosley 'biased' - A1 chief
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.21) Sheikh Maktoum, founder of the 'A1' concept, has hit out at Max Mosley after the FIA president predicted that the series' unique concept will not succeed.

Last week, Mosley said a world cup-style model would only work 'if the biggest and most famous names are on board -- and that is not the case.'

In response, Maktoum has told the Chinese 'Shanghai Daily' newspaper that Mosley is 'biased' in favor of the FIA's premier championship, formula one.

He said in Shanghai: ''It is very unfortunate when the president of the FIA, who is supposed to be neutral, is biased against one of the series that is under his jurisdiction.''

Maktoum, a member of Dubai's ruling family, claimed that 20-30 million viewers tune in to each A1 race, which compares to F1's TV audience of up to 350 million every grand prix.

Meanwhile, it has been announced that former Minardi racer Patrick Friesacher will drive the Austrian team's A1 car in Mexico this weekend.

Austrian regular Mathias Lauda, the son of the triple world champion, will be testing his GP2 car in France.

'Kimi's choice depends on McLaren'
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.21) Norbert Haug has reinforced speculation that, just three weeks ahead of the 2006 season, McLaren is struggling.

The German, competition director for engine partner Mercedes-Benz, admitted to the 'Stuttgarter Nachrichten' newspaper that all is not well with the MP4-21 package.

Haug said: ''We will have a difficult start to the season, but we will also have the strength to then catch up.''

The biggest problem, apparently, is with the Mercedes V8 engine, but an updated specification showed off some speed at the Valencia test last week.

Reliability, however, is another weakness.

Haug admitted that whether or not Kimi Raikkonen renews his team contract for 2007 and beyond will depend on the silver car's pace.

''Depending on the equipment we give him, Kimi will make his decision,'' Norbert said.

Ferrari to change test program
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.21) According to sources, Ferrari will apparently cut short its scheduled Bahrain test because it is running out of parts for the new '248 F1' car.

Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa were expected to keep running at the Sakhir circuit, but will instead pack up and return to Europe after testing throughout Tuesday.

The 2006 car is now fitted with the definitive bodywork package, but Schumacher struck yet another day of technical trouble on Monday. Speculation suggests that the latest problem was related to V8 engine cooling.

Another expected change to the Ferrari program is that the '248' will be run later this week at Mugello, not in Spain, because the Italian circuit is closer to Ferrari HQ in the event that more spare parts be required.

Elsewhere this week, F1 tests will take place in Barcelona (Spain), Imola (Italy) and Silverstone, in England.

Schu to leave smell in Bahrain
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.21) Michael Schumacher, currently testing in Bahrain, intends to leave his 200mph scent on the Gulf island state.

'Deutsche Presse-Agentur' reports that, in collaboration with Management Directions International - a new Bahraini promotions company - a Michael Schumacher perfume and cosmetics line will be launched before the circus lands in Sakhir next month.

The first Schumacher perfumes were launched in Europe in 2002.

Suzuki expects 'tough' start
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.21) At a Honda news conference in Tokyo, Aguri Suzuki predicted a 'tough' start to his formula one team's new life.

The 45-year-old Japanese, sitting alongside his engine supplier's chief men like Honda principal Nick Fry, admitted speculation that 'Super Aguri' could be several seconds per-lap off the pace in the first half of 2006.

''We launched the team in a short period and assorted problems are rising,'' Suzuki acknowledged.

''There are many things that should be solved.

''I'm afraid that we will be in a fairly tough position at the beginning.''

Before a 2006 car is debuted later this season, 'Aguri' will race a modified version of the 2002 Arrows A23, which will be tested properly for the first time on Tuesday in Spain.

Takuma Sato will get the Barcelona test rolling with the single 'SA05' on Tuesday, before countryman and teammate Yuji Ide makes his track debut a day later.

Honda looking 'strong' in 2006 - boss
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.21) Honda's works formula one team will travel to Bahrain for the first grand prix of 2006 next month in a 'strong position', according to Nick Fry.

The newly Japanese-owned team has been a standout of the winter period, with Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello regularly outpaced only by Renault, and probably trailed by the third best camp, Scuderia Ferrari.

''Testing so far has gone extremely well,'' Fry, the team principal, said at a news conference in Japan.

''The engine performance is good and the chassis performance has been very strong. We will be going to the first race in a strong position.''

Fry admitted that Renault and Honda have their noses in front, but confirmed the major improvement over last year of the scarlet-colored team from Maranello.

The Briton, also making mention of the Williams-Cosworth pairing, said: ''Ferrari shouldn't be discounted.

''They are in a strong position.''

Like me, Rossi can switch - ex-racer
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.21) The last motorcycle racer to switch to F1 says Valentino Rossi is capable of doing the same.

Venezuela's Johnny Cecotto, now 50, won the 350cc world motorbike class in 1975, before switching to two wheels and driving for the Theodore F1 team in 1983.

A year later, he was Brazilian rookie Ayrton Senna's Toleman teammate.

Cecotto suggested that, these days, the switch from two to four wheels is easier than in his time.

''There are so many driver aids now,'' he told the Milan daily 'Il Giornale', also dismissing suggestions that Rossi's regular jumps from his bike to the Ferrari F1 seat could actually be a hazard because he might start to confuse braking distances.

'I'm not Webber's deputy' - Rosberg
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.21) He may be a twenty year old rookie, but Nico Rosberg insists that he is not a 'number two' teammate for the experienced Mark Webber.

''Williams is of the old school mentality where there are definitely no pecking orders,'' the young German and reigning GP2 champion told formula1.com.

''You just race!''

A year ago, Australia's Webber uttered a similar theme when contemplating his first driving cohort at the Sir Frank Williams-led F1 squad -- Nick Heidfeld.

He had said: ''I was just the first to be announced.''

Heidfeld, now at BMW Sauber, revealed last year that Williams leaves it up to the race drivers to 'establish your own position' within the team.

Michelin ahead, rivals agree
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.21) Michelin will maintain its advantage over tire rival Bridgestone in 2006, according to two analysts from both sides of the grand prix fence.

Sam Michael, technical director for the Williams team that has switched to Bridgestone, admitted at a test last week that he believed Michelin was 'still in front'.

And, even though the 2006 rules would appear to favor a return to form for Bridgestone, Michelin clad Renault racer Giancarlo Fisichella reports that the team's French supplier is doing 'very well' in the winter period.

The Roman added: ''There has been some graining sometimes, but overall I think (Michelin) are looking better than Bridgestone.''

Fisi wants teammate's crown
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.21) Giancarlo Fisichella says he will not be content to again play second fiddle to his world champion teammate in 2006.

The Roman, who is nine years older than Fernando Alonso and has six seasons more experience, started 2005 with a season opening win but failed to add to that tally during the last 18 races.

Musing about again winning the first race, this time in Bahrain in three weeks, Fisichella said: ''But the important thing is to win the rest of the season and score lots of points.''

Fisichella was outclassed by Spain's Alonso in 2005, but he also struck the lion's share of the reliability dramas and bad luck.

He admitted: ''I didn't have enough points to fight for the championship.

''This year, I want to win.''

Ralf wants to improve image
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.21) Ralf Schumacher says he wants the public to get to know him better in 2006.

The German, whose wife Cora is also a frequent feature of the German press headlines, reckons the media often get it wrong when reporting about the lives of the grand prix couple.

''Perhaps the problem is that the public does not know us very well,'' Schumacher, 30, told the 'EUROSPORT Automagazin' publication.

Ralf hinted that he and Cora, who both live in Austria, would go out of their way to make more public appearances, in a bid to be better understood.

Switch idea is no GP fix - Haug
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.21) Alternating the German GP between Hockenheim and the Nurburgring would be no fix for the circuits' financial problems.

That's the claim of Mercedes-Benz motor sport chief Norbert Haug, who was present at the recent crisis meeting to rescue Hockenheim's embattled 2006 race.

Although a fix was found for the July 30 date this year, the longer term future of the premier German grand prix is still dubious.

One proposal is that the event should annually switch between Germany's two circuits, after European GP venue Nurburgring also recorded recent diminished spectator numbers.

But Germany's Haug told the 'Stuttgarter Nachrichten' newspaper: ''I don't think it would be any easier to fill a circuit every two years, rather than one.''

Paris grand prix
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.21) Hotel heiress and socialite Paris Hilton could attend the Australian grand prix in early April, according to whispers at the launch of the Melbourne formula one race in the city on Tuesday.

Webber clashed with Sam Michael
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.21) Mark Webber has admitted that he clashed with countryman - and Williams' technical director - Sam Michael last season.

In the 'Auto Action' magazine, 29-year-old Webber - who became disillusioned with the lack of progress at Grove in 2005 - said he was rebuked for being too opinionated about processes at the factory.

''I am keen on attention to detail,'' Mark explained, ''and sometimes I did upset Sam because I was focusing on things that were not my job.

''Sometimes I can't help myself. I want to make sure we cover all the bases, which (Michael) is trying to do anyway.

''When you feel it slipping a bit I feel involved with that and I don't want us to go down.''

During Webber's previous tenure, at Jaguar in 2003-2004, he was heralded not only for his speed and determination but for being a motivational figure behind garage doors.

But at super-successful Williams, 2005 was the lowest ebb in its recent decline. Webber refers to his maiden season for the British team as 'a kick in the guts'.

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