Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
March 11, 2006
Bernie hints that F1 war is over
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) After meeting with 'GPMA' bigwigs in Bahrain,
Bernie Ecclestone revealed that an agreement has 'more or less' been
approved to drive formula one into the future.
Following months and years of uncertainty and the carmakers' threat of
a 2008 'breakaway' championship, the F1 supremo said the meeting went
'very well' and all outstanding issues were solved.
''On the commercial side, we are more or less at the point of
agreement,'' Bernie added.
He suggested that the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle is agreement
over Max Mosley's controversial rules for 2008 and beyond.
However, on the commercial side, a 'memorandum of understanding' is
presently being drafted, and BMW, Mercedes, Renault, Toyota and Honda
are all expected to sign up.
McLaren's Ron Dennis, in addition, suggested that a final agreement is
'more than a day (but) less than a month' from being penned.
Violence in Bahrain
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) As engines roared at the nearby formula one
circuit, a protest turned violent in Bahrain.
Armed with tear gas and batons, riot police battled with the group of
nearly 200 in Manama, where formula one billboards were set on fire
and twenty people were hospitalized.
A Shiite opposition group issued a statement explaining that the
protest had been staged because of the likely publicity surrounding
the F1 race.
V10 storm rains on STR's advantage
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) Team co-owner Gerhard Berger's return to the
formula one paddock was greeted with controversy in Bahrain, as
'Scuderia Toro Rosso' took criticism for being fast on Friday.
After lunching with Prince Albert of Monaco, the Austrian argued that
recent testing in Bahrain helped give the 'STR01' pace, but opponents
- led most strongly by Midland's Colin Kolles - aimed fire at the fact
that the car is a copy of last year's Red Bull, fitted with the
hugely-contentious limited V10.
''I'm 100 per cent sure that we don't have the best engine,'' Berger
argued, ''but I'm also sure that we don't have the worst.
''I think it's fair. I think all this discussion is not right.''
Ferrari's Jean Todt, however, revealed that he has told the FIA that
he 'could object' to the equivalency formula if it seems unfair.
He said: ''I am sure the FIA will do the right thing.''
The saga could be set to rumble on, with sources in Bahrain confirming
that STR has no immediate plans to switch to a V8 engine supply.
Team principal Franz Tost rejected the argument that Toro Rosso is
obliged to abandon the V10 option because it is well funded.
''Nowhere in the rules does it say that a team must be poor (to
qualify for the loophole,'' he was quoted as saying by 'Auto Motor Und
F1 teams pen test agreement
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) A voluntary agreement to limit testing in 2006
has been agreed, after Ferrari's Jean Todt put the final signature to
The Frenchman said every other team principal had also agreed to limit
testing to 36 days between March and November; a six-day increase on
Testing at Ferrari's Fiorano circuit, too, is exempt from the deal,
with the finer detail explaining that each team is able to complete
subsidized running - with a day counted as a half-day - at a nominated
''So we can say that an agreement has been made,'' Jean Todt revealed.
McLaren won't change Montoya's engine
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) Ron Dennis has played down an 'embarrassing'
start to McLaren's 2006.
After a winter of performance and reliability concern, the silver team
hit the Bahrain track on Friday and suffered an electrics failure on
Kimi Raikkonen's MP4-21.
Juan Pablo Montoya, too, complained about a lackluster Mercedes-Benz,
as the pair shrank to 12th and 13th on the opening timesheets.
But Ron Dennis denied his Colombian driver's moan that the V8 unit
might have to be changed.
''The engines are absolutely fine,'' he said. ''When you run at lower
revs to protect the engine, that does make the engine a little
uncomfortable to drive. But (Kimi and Juan's engines) are exactly the
''Our underlying performance is quite good.''
Dennis protested that Kimi's electric box failure was the first such
breakage in 'years'.
''I'm not too concerned,'' he added. ''It's not too serious.''
Williams' longest sponsor stays put
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) Williams' longest standing sponsor, 'Accenture',
will stay with the formula one team until at least 2008.
The global brand joined Grove based Williams in 1995.
Doornbos cops whopping fine
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) Red Bull's 'Friday' driver, Robert Doornbos, has
suffered the ignominious honor of whopping the first FIA-imposed fine
After forgetting to press his speed limiter button in pit lane, the
Dutchman will have to pay a huge $6250 penalty.
Renault on top, say rivals
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) Renault have the best chance of winning Sunday's
Bahrain opener of 2006, according to ex-champ Michael Schumacher.
Despite clocking the very best race-driver lap of Friday practice, the
German singled out the blue and yellow team, whose 'R26' is resided by
reigning title winner Fernando Alonso.
''Renault seem to be very quick straight out of the box which gives
them an edge,'' said Schumacher, the Ferrari ace.
It is also true that Michael's impressive practice time - more than
half a second quicker than Alonso - was achieved with new tires.
Schumacher admitted: ''I don't think everyone did what we did.
''But I still reckon there are four teams capable of winning.''
Charged with being Bahrain's hot favorite, however, 24-year-old Alonso
pointed the finger in the direction of Jenson Button's garage, as
rumors did the rounds that Honda hid their potential on practice day.
''It's nice of him to say that,'' Button responded, ''but I'm sure
he's just taking pressure off of himself.
''You have to say that Renault are the favorites, but I know that we
are going to be challenging them a lot.''
While Button's theory that Alonso is relieving pressure is
interesting, the Spaniard expressed surprise at Schumacher's rapid
pace at the end of session two.
''Maybe he was running with lighter fuel,'' Alonso wondered, ''or with
new tires. It is not exactly clear how they shape up with the rest.''
Pat Symonds concluded that he thought the gap between his Renault team
and Honda is 'tiny'.
The engineering director told the Guardian: ''And I think McLaren are
a whisker behind.''
V8s make Bahrain 'easier' - Kubica
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) F1's new V8 engines have made Bahrain 'easier to
drive', according to BMW Sauber Friday driver Robert Kubica.
After catching the headlines by going quickest in the morning session,
the Pole said: ''The two quickest corners are flat out now.''
Fisi marks decade on F1 grid
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) On 10 March 1996, Giancarlo Fisichella - at the
wheel of a Minardi in Melbourne - retired from his first ever formula
one grand prix.
Exactly ten years on, the Roman - now 33 - is at top team Renault,
where on 10 March 2006 he went eighth quickest in Friday practice at
''(In 1996) I was happy to be there, and now I am aiming for the
title,'' Fisichella said.
He added: ''I have come a long way but I don't think I have changed --
well, I am older of course, but stronger too.''
Fisichella has also raced for Jordan (1997 and 2002-3), Benetton
(1998-2001) and Sauber (2004).
Webber predicts 'wild' qualifying
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) Mark Webber reckons 'knockout' qualifying - to
debut in formula one today - will be a crazy dash with plenty of
The Australian, a renowned expert of the former one-lap format, also
described the FIA's latest system, designed to spice things up, as a
potential 'wild goose chase'.
''There are going to be lots of excuses as to why it didn't happen for
some guys,'' said Webber, whose Williams will be one of up to 22 cars
on track at the same time.
The 29-year-old admitted: ''I think there will be more chance of
someone accidentally screwing someone else up.''
Bahrain heads for Sunday sellout
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) A crowd of 17,000 watched Friday's first formula
one practice sessions of the year at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain.
Circuit manager Martin Whitaker had not seen the figure, but - by
estimation - he reckoned it was the biggest Friday crowd at the desert
venue since it joined the calendar in '04.
He added that Sunday could be a total sell-out.
''(And) the media presence is bigger than any other race I have seen,
which is encouraging,'' Whitaker said.
With Melbourne set to host the Commonwealth Games, 2006 is the first
time Bahrain has staged the season opener.
Rip-off at Sakhir
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) A cup of coffee and a bottle of juice cost a
combined (US) $10.60 inside the Sakhir formula one circuit on Friday.
It's double what you would pay anywhere outside the gates of the
desert venue in Bahrain.
BMW not a Bahrain contender - Heidfeld
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) Nick Heidfeld has played down expectations that,
in Bahrain, BMW-Sauber can repeat tester Robert Kubica's chart-topping
feats of Friday practice.
''Unfortunately, I don't think so,'' the German race driver told a
throng of journalists.
He repeated the old story of how a 'Friday' driver can run high revs
and more tires, while the real competitors save mileage.
Actually, in the afternoon session, Polish rookie Kubica had dropped
to tenth best, with Heidfeld fourteenth and Jacques Villeneuve a lowly
Heidfeld, 28, said his personal goal for the BMW-owned team is to
finish about sixth of the eleven constructors.
''We will know on Sunday where we really are.''
Ferrari is 'private' team, Todt insists
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) Jean Todt has stepped up his argument that
Ferrari should not be classed as a carmaker-team.
FIA president Max Mosley proposed recently that only private teams
should receive an income from the sport -- and Todt is clearly
pedaling the line that Ferrari falls into that category.
In La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper (Italy), the red team's French
principal claimed that Ferrari derive '80 per cent' of its budget from
sponsorship, not manufacturer-parent Fiat.
''(And) six or eight per cent of the sales from Ferrari Auto is
contributed to our formula one effort,'' he added.
Boris Becker in Bahrain
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) A familiar face has bobbed up in the Sakhir
pitlane -- Boris Becker.
The German tennis legend was spotted in conversation with British
'Jamiroquai' front-man Jay Kay, another interesting celebrity
counterpart at the first GP of 2006.
Notably, also in Bahrain is Emma Parker-Bowles (Camilla's niece).
BMW defends modest goals for 2006
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) BMW board member Burkhard Goeschel has defended
his team's modest targets for 2006.
While driver Nick Heidfeld makes it clear that his goal of sixth in
the constructors' chase is 'personal', reporters have been hard
pressed to get any BMW-Sauber official to repeat the moderate target.
''You can't set a date for success,'' German Goeschel - also a bigwig
in the 'GPMA' negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone - said.
He added: ''We will do the best job we can, and the rest will happen
on the track. It would be arrogant if we said we're going to do better
than everyone else.''
Even Heidfeld, 28, can understand why the bigwigs in Hinwil and Munich
are keeping expectations low. ''High goals create unnecessary
pressure,'' he said.
''This team will succeed as soon as the whole package permits it.
When? I can not say.''
Ralf wants to end career at Toyota
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) Ralf Schumacher says he would be happy to race
out his formula one career with the Toyota team.
The 30-year-old German, on a multi-year contract with the Cologne
based marque, told the 'Welt' newspaper that he was not looking around
the paddock for a new challenge.
''I do not know exactly when my career will end,'' Schumacher said,
''but if everything goes to plan, Toyota will be my last stop in F1.''
Toyota launched its new TF106 car amid expectations of a maiden win
this year, but Ralf has told the media that he does not yet expect to
land the title.
The team endured a nightmare start to its 2006 campaign in Bahrain,
Ralf flopping around some four seconds off the pace on Friday.
He also said in the interview: ''We want to become the best
Bridgestone runner, so we want to beat Ferrari.
''Our goal for this season is to win races.''
Zanardi in Turin
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) While F1 '06 kicked off in Bahrain on Friday,
Turin launched the winter 'Paralympics' in Italy.
A special guest at the opening ceremony, attended by 30,000, was Alex
Zanardi -- the former formula one driver who in 2001 lost both his
legs in a crash.
''I never lost my enthusiasm,'' Zanardi - who returned to racing with
hand-controls - told the Toronto Star 'paper.
''Feedback can be sent to
Go to our
to discuss this article
Copyright 1999-2014 AutoRacing1 is an
independent internet online publication and is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed
by the IRL., NASCAR, FIA, Sprint, or any other series sponsor.
This material may not be published, broadcast, or redistributed without