Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
 February 24,  2006

Ralf rules out brother's title bid
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.24) Michael Schumacher should forget about winning the 2006 championship, according to his younger brother Ralf.

30-year-old Schumacher, seven years the junior of seven time title winner Michael, was quoted by 'Sport1.de' as ruling out an eighth drivers' triumph for his Ferrari-clad sibling.

''I do not see Ferrari's potential,'' the German said. ''I am sure Michael will have fun this year, but you can rule out the title.''

Maranello based Ferrari has been singled out as a potential challenger to Renault, Honda and McLaren in 2006, but reliability problems have beset the new '248' racer.

Ralf, too, has some insight into Ferrari's beleaguered tire supplier, Bridgestone, after Toyota switched to the Japanese company.

He insisted: ''So I simply do not see the potential of Ferrari.''

Police drop Klien assault probe
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.24) A police investigation into Christian Klien's alleged assault on a fellow nightclub goer has been dropped, Austrian media reports say.

The national broadcasting corporation, Osterreichischer Rundfunk (ORF), claims that the man who was apparently hospitalized withdrew his statement against the Red Bull racer.

Austrian Klien, 23, vehemently denied that he had got into a fight earlier this month at the 'Enjoy' nightclub, but he did admit to a dispute over a drinks bill.

Meanwhile, the 'Rheintalische Volkszeitung' newspaper reported that the formula one driver will move from Austria to live in Diepoldsau, which is located on the Austrian border in the far east of Switzerland.

'My religion is Ferrari' - Todt who turns 60
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.24) Ferrari principal Jean Todt turns sixty on Sunday.

And the Frenchman - who joined the Italian marque in 1993 and set about constructing the modern super-team with Michael Schumacher, Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne - has vowed to take at least one day off to celebrate, according to 'Sport Bild'.

''Ferrari has become my religion,'' Todt - who works up to 16 hours every day - told the German sports broadsheet.

Anxious and obsessive, Todt wears Band-Aids on the tips of his fingers to control the habit of nail-biting. He outlined the secret of success as endless vigilance, after starting his career as a rally co-pilot for drivers including Ove Andersson.

Todt, whose Ferrari contract expires at the end of 2006, said: ''You have to always be on the ball, every day, every hour.

''There are no moments in which you should lean back and say it is done.''

Meanwhile, on Friday, Alain Prost (51) and Pedro de la Rosa (35) also celebrate birthdays.

Aguri pilots - We will struggle
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.24) Super Aguri drivers Takuma Sato and Yuji Ide have admitted that the team may not be up to speed in its F1 debut.

Although Sato got the deficit to the leaders down to 5 or 6 seconds at Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday, the Japanese racer said: ''In terms of performance, we need to work hard.''

Moreover, Aguri's initial 2006 car, based on a four-year-old Arrows, was not even wearing race-legal bodywork. Revised aerodynamics that conform to the 2006 regulations will be tried at Silverstone next week.

Sato's countryman and rookie teammate Yuji Ide added at the Spanish test: ''Hopefully I can do a better lap time at the races.''

At the Barcelona venue on Thursday, Honda's Jenson Button led the field of fifteen, also comprising Renault, McLaren, Williams, Toyota, Red Bull and MF1. BMW Sauber and Toro Rosso continued to lap at wet Imola (Italy).

2005 runner-up Kimi Raikkonen agreed with reports that his shining silver team is finally starting to look good.

The Finn said: ''I feel that we have improved a lot over the last few weeks, but we need to keep pushing as there is still work to be done.''

Hamilton, Piquet, set GP2 pace
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.24) Lewis Hamilton and Nelson Piquet Jr have emerged as likely contenders for the 2006 GP2 crown -- the stepping stone to F1's grid.

Last year's champion, Nico Rosberg, and runner-up Heikki Kovalainen, both graduated to the premier category in 2006.

At the first official GP2 test at Paul Ricard this week, Hamilton - the McLaren protégé - set the pace, ahead of Jose Maria Lopez and Piquet.

Midland lacks passion - Symonds
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.24) Pat Symonds has slammed the Midland-owned 'MF1' team for doing 'nothing to enhance' formula one.

In a season preview for F1 Racing magazine, Renault's engineering director also said the team - which bought Eddie Jordan's Silverstone based squad a year ago - lacks passion.

Symonds wondered: ''Are Midland still around? I haven't looked recently.

''I see nothing in them that has any passion ... so I see no reason to say, 'good luck to the little guys'.

''They had a damn good (Toyota) engine last year, but did nothing with it.

''As a team, they do nothing to enhance formula one.''

MF1 has been seeking an image boost in recent months, after the media delivered the message in 2005 that Shnaider - like surly team principal Colin Kolles - was not committed to the sport.

Facelift for Valencia ahead of F1 race bid
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.24) After officials met with Bernie Ecclestone this week, Valencia has announced that the Spanish circuit will be modified ahead of a bid to stage formula one races.

The 'Ricardo Tormo' track will be extended by 400 meters, according to a report on the Valencia website, to accommodate 'the possibility of a formula one grand prix'.

Valencia said the tight and twisty circuit would be made faster, wider and feature a 'more spectacular' layout.

Circuit general director Eduardo Nogues said a grand prix would be 'a dream' for Valencia supporters. ''Now is the time to show (Bernie) Ecclestone and everyone involved in F1 that we want to host a race,'' he told circuitvalencia.com.

He urged Spaniards to 'fill the grandstands on 8 and 9 April' -- Valencia's GP2 race date.

Meanwhile, Francisco Camps - president of the Valencia government - said after the meeting with Ecclestone that he expects F1 to be staged at the circuit 'in this decade'.

He added: ''The meeting (with Bernie) went far, far better than I expected.''

F1 parades, without F1 cars
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.24) On Sunday, the organizers of next month's Malaysian grand prix will throw a F1 street demo on the nearby Langkawi islands.

Porsche GT3 and Formula BMW single seaters will be in action, but general manager Datuk Ahmad Mustafa expressed regret that he had not managed to organize that a grand prix car join in.

''Of course,'' he told the Bernama news agency, ''if we had a choice, we would love to bring the F1 car here.''

Meanwhile, in the city of Manama in Bahrain, a similar 'formula one' street parade will be thrown on Friday, but - like in Malaysia - F1 horse power will be missing.

'I've never been so motivated' - Schu
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.24) A fortnight ahead of the 2006 season opener, Michael Schumacher - F1's oldest but most successful driver - has moved to silence any talk that retirement looms.

In the 'TV Movie' magazine, Ferrari's 37-year-old said: ''Even after all those successful years, I have never been as motivated as I am today.''

With the single (farcical) win at Indianapolis the only fruit of 2005, Schumacher said his goal with the scarlet team this year is simple: ''To get the titles.''

Michael also revealed that he is happy with 24-year-old Felipe Massa, his new number-two teammate at Maranello.

Asked about the young Brazilian, Schumacher commented: ''The engineers are happy with his work, and so am I.''

'My racing clock still ticks' - Wurz
(GMMf1NET -- Feb.24) Alex Wurz says he still wants to race again in F1.

The tall 32-year-old switched testing roles from McLaren to Williams for the 2006 season.

Although he can assume the 'Friday' seat at Grove, some have speculated that such a move might only have been motivated by Frank Williams' behind-the-scenes pledge that a return to the grid is likely for Wurz in 2007.

The Austrian driver confirmed in the 'Sportzeitung' newspaper that he is keen to add to his tally of 53 grands prix.

''My racing clock still ticks -- absolutely,'' Wurz was quoted as saying.

Suggestions that there is more to his Williams deal is only bolstered by Wurz's admission that he leaves 'very good friends' at McLaren.

''We experienced a lot together,'' said Alex Wurz, who joined the silver clad team in 2001 after racing for Benetton.

He calls Williams 'a new challenge with the same goal.' Presumably, it is to race.

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