Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
 March 9,  2006

Red Bull wants carmaker deal
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) F1 team owner Red Bull is hoping to team up with a major car manufacturer.

Although at present heading up two private squads with customer engines, the energy drink's billionaire mogul Dietrich Mateschitz admitted that he would like to join the ranks of the sport's mighty car makers.

''We would be a good partner for a manufacturer,'' the Austrian, who is known to have already spoken with Volkswagen and Audi, told 'Sport Bild'.

''We have some of the best people, like Adrian Newey and Gerhard Berger, we have two teams, and the will to win.''

Red Bull already has an imposing budget, but with a carmaker on board it could begin to woo some of the best pilots.

Mateschitz, 61, confessed that Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher would be ideal.

''Kimi would fit very well with us,'' he said. ''Of course it is pretty unlikely that we will get them. If Michael leaves Ferrari, he will probably retire, and I believe Kimi is going to Ferrari.''

Ralf defends lack of title triumph
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) Ralf Schumacher has defended himself amid criticism that he has never risen above fourth in the championship.

The German driver, who at 30 is attacking his tenth year in formula one this year, is a six-time race winner but never looked like troubling the title winner.

''Well, you have to have some luck to be at the right place at the right time,'' Schumacher - whose brother Michael won five drivers' triumphs for Ferrari during Ralf's career - told 'Kolner Stadt-Anzeiger'.

He added: ''Of course I could not win with Jordan (in 1997 and 1998), and Williams never progressed enough that I could win the title.

''And now I am at the beginning with Toyota.''

GPMA, Bernie, plan Bahrain meeting
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) F1's carmaker group will meet with Bernie Ecclestone in Bahrain this weekend, but a spokesman downplayed reports of an imminent deal.

However, as their threat of a 'breakaway' championship in 2008 subsides, the GPMA representative said 'significant progress' is being made to appease the irritation of BMW, Mercedes, Renault, Toyota and Honda.

''We hope to address several of the outstanding issues (in Bahrain),'' 'BBC' quoted the spokesman as saying.

''But it's too early to predict any outcome. We don't want to speculate but things are moving in the right direction.''

Privateer team owner Sir Frank Williams, who has already signed Bernie's 2008 contract, agreed that the war is moving towards compromise.

''I believe that the chances of (a rival series) occurring (is) looking less likely with each day that passes,'' he told the Guardian.

'07 move won't harm Alonso's charge - Lauda
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) The fact that Fernando Alonso already has a McLaren contract in his back pocket should not harm his 2006 title charge.

That's the opinion of triple world champion and former Jaguar principal Niki Lauda, who thinks the 24-year-old Spaniard should still get along fine at Renault.

''I do not see the major consequences of the move for him,'' the Austrian told TV broadcaster ORF, ''as long as he is driving a good car.''

Where Lauda, 57, thinks Alonso could run into trouble is if his final blue and yellow racer turns out to be a tugger.

He said: ''The bottom line is that Alonso, of course, wants to defend his title. So in that case I do not see why anything should be any different in the way he beats (Giancarlo) Fisichella.

''But if the results and the points do not come, if there is some crisis, then there could be some problems.''

Renault's Pat Symonds, however, admits that - title challenge or not - the team will begin to shut up shop to McLaren-bound Alonso near the end of the year.

''Of course we wouldn't have him privy to those (development ideas for 2007),'' he told the BBC.

Symonds added: ''But we're not going to cut off our noses to spite our faces and he's going to think the same.''

Rosberg expects Webber to beat him
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) F1 rookie Nico Rosberg expects to be beaten by his more experienced teammate.

The 20-year-old German, the son of Williams' 1982 world champion Keke, admitted that Mark Webber is - at present - a quicker pilot.

''For the moment, Mark is on average two tenths per lap in front of me,'' Rosberg, the reigning GP2 champion, told Germany's 'Sport Bild'.

Williams' new driver characterized Webber, 29, as an 'extremely quick' driver, particularly on a qualifying lap.

In a separate interview, with Sport1.de, Rosberg singles out Webber's four years of F1 experience as his advantage.

He said: ''So I must work hard if I want to catch him up. In F1, you are always compared to your teammate and that's the way it should be.

''My goal is to equal his achievements, or even beat him from time to time.''

Rosberg also revealed that the strength of the 'FW28' package is the Cosworth engine and the aerodynamics, while the main weakness is the often unreliable gearbox.

Honda duo eye Bahrain win
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) Honda emerged from F1's winter period as a winner of the test season.

While perhaps a little off Renault's leading pace, the Brackley based team was the most reliable of the pre-season, and considers itself a potential winner of the Bahrain opener.

''We're here to challenge for a win,'' English driver Jenson Button said, ''and that's our objective for every race this year.''

New teammate Rubens Barrichello, of 2000-2005 Ferrari fame, believes that Honda's decision to join his old team and Toro Rosso at the recent Bahrain test was one that boosts the winning prospect.

Contradicting Fernando Alonso's claim that the trio of teams may have wasted their time, the Brazilian said the tyre and setup work on the relevant venue was the 'best possible preparation' for a race.

Barrichello added: ''So I think challenging for a win is a real target.''

Vodafone's F1 bigwig fired
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) Vodafone has fired the man responsible for formula one sponsorships at Ferrari (2006) and McLaren (2007).

According to the Guardian newspaper, marketing director Peter Bamford was ousted in the midst of a power struggle between the company's chief executive and chairman.

A spokesman said Bamford's exit was the 'consequence of a fundamental review of the group's marketing operations', but did not comment on whether it might affect the Vodafone sponsorships, such as the $50m per-year deal with McLaren that kicks off next season.

Bamford joined Vodafone in 1998.

Button buys Bahrain abode
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) English F1 driver Jenson Button has reportedly bought a plush property in Bahrain.

Ahead of Sunday's grand prix on the Gulf island, the Honda star visited the $3bn 'Durrat Al Bahrain' development on Wednesday, according to Gulf Daily News newspaper.

Located on the south eastern coast of the island, 26-year-old JB's villa is not yet complete.

''Coming (here) by helicopter you could really see ... how it's come along,'' Button - who lives in Monaco - said at the site. ''Bahrain is like a second home, I feel very relaxed here and I'm looking forward to when the property is built.''

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