Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
March 2, 2006
Renault to set '06 pace - Schumacher
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.2) Renault is likely to enter the season opener in
Bahrain next weekend with the quickest 2006 car.
That is the overwhelmingly solid feeling in the F1 test paddocks --
and Ferrari's Michael Schumacher does not argue.
''Behind them,'' the 37-year-old German told La Gazzetta dello Sport
whilst testing at the Mugello track in Italy, ''I see Honda,
(McLaren)-Mercedes and us.''
Schumacher insisted that Ferrari has designed a better car for 2006
than its unsuccessful predecessor.
He said: ''Our approach has been the same, but last year we were
clearly not well enough prepared.
''This year we seem to have a very good machine.''
Winkelhock, not Mondini, to drive in Bahrain
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.2) Despite telling the press that Giorgio Mondini
would reside the 'Friday' car in Bahrain, MF1 now says Germany's
Markus Winkelhock will be given the debut privilege.
Winkelhock will then hand the keys over to Swiss-German Mondini for
Malaysian practice, the Silverstone based outfit informed in a
It is expected that Adrian Sutil will also get the chance to steer the
third car on a Friday or two later in 2006.
''I'm sure (Winkelhock and Mondini) will help us develop the car to
its maximum potential in preparation for the opening races,'' said the
Midland owned team's boss Colin Kolles.
Montagny pens Aguri deal
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.2) Franck Montagny, Renault's former French tester,
will be the 'third' driver for the newest formula one team in Bahrain
Super Aguri said in a statement that Montagny, 28, penned a deal this
week to accompany the Japanese outfit to the first two rounds of 2006
-- even if he won't turn a wheel.
Franck will be merely 'on stand by', the statement read, because a
third 'SA05' car will not be ready to run in practice.
Montagny's Aguri tenure is then likely to conclude prior to the
Australian race, as he intends to switch to the American Champ Car
In Bahrain and Malaysia, however, he will provide 'valuable experience
and technical knowledge,' said the fledgling F1 team.
Ferrari unsure about winter end
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.2) Ferrari has not decided whether to conclude its
winter test preparations at Mugello on Thursday, or whether to keep
driving and wrap up in Italy a day later.
On Wednesday at the circuit, Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa - in
new '248 F1' cars - encountered rain and very cold weather, limiting
their running to a handful of laps each.
Schumacher said on Wednesday: ''However, there was lovely weather
yesterday, and we could complete a problem free race simulation.''
At sunny and warm Valencia (Spain), meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen got
McLaren's final winter test into blistering form, as the Finn set the
fastest ever V8-powered lap of the tight and twisty track.
The Finn tempered: ''But testing is very different to being on the
race track. We will find out where we really are performance-wise in
Bahrain next week.''
Also in Spain, Honda, Red Bull, Toyota and Williams turned test laps.
Richards' company to build F1-style HQ
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.2) David Richards' speculated grand prix team for
2008 stepped up a gear this week, as the former BAR boss unveiled
plans for an impressive F1-spec factory.
The Briton's renowned 'Prodrive' company outlined its intention to
build the base - called 'Fulcrum' - in Warwickshire, a county in the
centre of England.
Prodrive said the factory 'could become the location for a new British
F1 team', with room for a staff of 1000.
Richards' pronouncement is interestingly timed. The 52-year-old was at
the Geneva Motor Show this week, reportedly to stage talks with a
carmaker about his F1 project.
Also in Geneva on Wednesday, however, was FIA president Max Mosley,
who addressed a letter to F1's existing teams - many of which are
threatening to race in their own series - warning them that a one-week
window for 2008 team entries would open at the end of March.
''We very much hope that all the current participants will ... submit
their entries in due time,'' Mosley wrote.
Speed targets teammate scalp
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.2) American rookie Scott Speed's priority for his
formula one debut will be to beat his teammate.
The 23-year-old, from California, will - in Bahrain next Sunday -
become the first United States-born driver since Michael Andretti to
contest a grand prix.
However, at the Red Bull junior team - called Toro Rosso - Speed
admitted that wins and podiums are not level-headed targets.
''Perhaps next year I will set more ambitious goals.
''Naturally, I want to show up well against my teammate,'' said Speed,
to be joined in the sister car by Tonio Liuzzi.
Amid all the controversy about engine equivalency, though, Scott
declined to predict how his V10-powered racer will fare.
He told a teleconference with journalists: ''Actually, I think we will
be disadvantaged. V8s are the future of F1 and we will lose a year of
''It is true that our reliability could look good at the start of the
year, but it won't take the V8s long to catch up.''
Mosley revs up pressure on F1 rebels
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.2) In a letter to F1 principals and manufacturers
this week, Max Mosley has confirmed that a one week window to sign up
for 2008 will open and close between March 24-31.
The FIA president's probable intention is to put pressure on the rogue
GPMA group - made up of Renault, Mercedes, Toyota, BMW and Honda - to
end their threat of a 'breakaway' championship.
In the letter, Mosley explains that he wants to impose the early 2008
window so that participating teams have time to help 'fine tune' the
But, particularly with speculation rising about alternate teams - like
David Richards' 'Prodrive' - the Mosley letter could be interpreted as
a warning to carmakers that they run the risk of losing one of F1's
twelve garage slots for 2008.
Max wrote: ''The FIA very much hopes that all the teams and
manufacturers competing in this year's championship will also enter
Brit GP official jailed
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.2) A former official of the club that owns British GP
venue Silverstone has been jailed for stealing about $900,000.
51-year-old Stephen Beattie, ex-'finance controller' of the BRDC who
was fired in 2004, stole money by illegally making out dozens of
checks in his name.
But, in Northampton Crown Court, Silverstone - located in central
England - also did not win a clean bill of health. A defense lawyer
described the circuit's financial affairs as a 'shambles'.
Beattie, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to forty three months in
''You saw (the BRDC) as an organization that ... you could just steal
from,'' Judge Charles Wide QC told him.
Coulthard must earn '07 seat
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.2) David Coulthard and Christian Klien should watch
out -- Red Bull's cockpits are certain to be two of the more desired
driver destinations of the future.
With the lauded brain of Adrian Newey now steering the technical ship,
a strong budget and a top class Ferrari engine in tow, team owner
Dietrich Mateschitz suggested that the pressure should be on the 2006
''I am positive that David will want to prove himself worthy of the
first Newey (Red Bull) car,'' said the Austrian, referring to 2007.
Mateschitz, 61, suggested to Austria's 'Salzburger Nachrichten'
newspaper that - when the first proper Newey-penned Red Bull racer
will debut - driver lineup will become crucial for 2007.
''Of course, we hope the car will be very fast, so we cannot allow the
driver to be the weakest link in the chain,'' he told the 'paper.
Mateschitz's comments come after recent speculation that Juan Pablo
Montoya and Jarno Trulli - or even Michael Schumacher - might be
interested in negotiating with the energy drink owned squad.
He continued: ''Ideally, our junior drivers will become the Sennas and
Schumachers of the future for us. If not, we will have to look around
on the market.
''But at the moment it is too early to say.''
-- Mar.2) Ferrari's newly launched 12-cylinder road car is named after
the racing marque's formula one test circuit.
The origins of the name 'Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano' needed little
introduction for F1 fans as the veil was lifted at the Geneva Motor
Show in Switzerland.
'599', incidentally, is a reference to the nearly six-liter engine.
The striking two-seater supercar packs a whopping 620 horse power
punch, going from 0 to 100kph in 3.7 seconds with a top of 340kph.
Rossi saga is 'ok' with Massa
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.2) Felipe Massa says he is not bothered that the
rumor mill seems to have discounted him as a long term Ferrari
The 24-year-old Brazilian hasn't even turned a wheel at a grand prix
for his new team, but speculation is already rife that Valentino Rossi
or Kimi Raikkonen are more likely '07 seat contenders.
And, with Michael Schumacher to possibly extend his Ferrari tenure for
another two years, Massa does appear at the rear of a long Maranello
Looking on the bright side, though, the Sao Paulo-born racer reckons
the Rossi fracas is at least giving him room to breath in his new 2006
''For me, it is ok that everyone talks about Rossi,'' Massa - on a
one-year Ferrari contract after three years at Sauber - told La
Gazzetta dello Sport.
''It means I can just calmly focus on what I have to do.''
Toro Rosso livery set to stun
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.2) Toro Rosso's top-secret 2006 race livery will blow
the F1 world's socks off, rookie driver Scott Speed says.
The former Minardi team, taken over for 2006 by energy drink Red Bull,
ran the undisclosed paint-job behind closed doors at Paul Ricard
(France) this week, but is not set to show it to the world until the
official launch next week.
In a teleconference, 23-year-old Speed - the junior team's American
rookie - gave a sneak preview of the radical livery.
''It looks really sensational,'' he enthused.
''(It) will give everyone an enormous surprise, I promise you!''
Until now, the Toro Rosso car has tested in a Red Bull Racing-style
livery, with a gold nose.
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