Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
March 13, 2006
No deal after F1 summit
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.13) Peace is edging nearer, but Bernie Ecclestone and
F1's warring 'GPMA' carmakers emerged from a fruitless meeting on
Saturday evening in Bahrain.
''We all hoped that the memorandum of understanding would be signed
here,'' said McLaren-Mercedes' Ron Dennis in the paddock, ''but not
everything ran absolutely as we had wanted (in the meeting).
''However, progress is being made.''
Although it was expected that the deal might be clinched in Bahrain,
sources insist that a more likely venue is Albert Park, scene of April
F1 moves to hot, wet Malaysia
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.13) According to a weekend weather forecast, Malaysia
could turn on a hot, humid and potentially rainy round two of the 2006
With the Bahraini checker now showing, the circus moves straight on to
Kuala Lumpur, scene of the formula one race at Sepang.
''We have experienced some incredible cloudbursts in Sepang,''
BMW-Sauber's Nick Heidfeld mused in Bahrain on Sunday night.
There is a forty per cent chance of rain for all three days of the
Malaysian grand prix, culminating in Sunday's race, with tops of 33
Rookie Rosberg in dream debut
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.13) F1's 'big three' drivers might have hogged the
podium, but a 20-year-old debutant arguably had the best day in
Bahrain on Sunday.
Nico Rosberg, son of 1982 world champion-turned-spectator Keke, capped
off a brilliant drive by overtaking Red Bull's Christian Klien on the
last lap at Sakhir.
Earlier, he had battled - and won - against veteran David Coulthard.
In his Cosworth-powered Williams, he also set the fastest lap of the
race and - if not for a first corner mistake where he tipped Nick
Heidfeld into a spin and lost a front wing - might have beaten Kimi
Raikkonen to the podium.
''I can't remember a performance in a first grand prix that was so
impressive,'' said triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart, in
Bahrain representing Williams' sponsor 'RBS'.
Defending his decision to sign the GP2 champion, Frank Williams said
last year that Nico's overtaking maneuvers in the junior series had
really caught his attention.
Rosberg said on Sunday: ''Everyone always said you can't overtake in
F1 but it worked ok for me!''
A beaming team co-owner Patrick Head, meanwhile, mixed his praise with
a cheeky reference to the recent wrangling with Jenson Button.
''We've made very certain that our contract is good and safe,'' the
Luckless Fisi fuming
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.13) In a mid-race outburst, Renault's luckless
Giancarlo Fisichella screamed into his radio as his '06 opener in
Bahrain went from bad to worse.
With the team seeming to change everything but his misbehaving V8
prior to the race, Rome's 33-year-old - still with dodgy horse power -
then ground to a halt with broken hydraulics.
''We had all night and the morning to fix (the problems),'' he fumed
to ITV, ''but unfortunately we didn't.''
Team boss Flavio Briatore, and engineering director Pat Symonds, both
apologized to Fisichella.
''I don't believe in luck,'' said the latter, ''but when I look at
what happens to Giancarlo, I start to think there is such a thing.''
Clutch cost Button win - Fry
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.13) Honda's pre-season promise faded in a fit of bad
reliability when the flag dropped in Bahrain.
New signing Rubens Barrichello, who struggled all weekend alongside
Jenson Button, pounded around in the lower midfield as his gearbox
lost a gear.
JB's promising second row start, meanwhile, went begging in a groan of
''We were genuinely as quick as anyone out there,'' the Briton moaned.
''I was on the line and then nothing happened. I just hope it is
something we can fix quickly for Malaysia.''
Team principal Nick Fry thinks that, without the glitch, 26-year-old
Button could have challenged Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher
for the victory.
Massa sparks Ferrari inquests
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.13) Felipe Massa's troubled Ferrari debut has sparked
off a flurry of investigations at the team.
The Brazilian, who had started from a career-best second on the grid,
nearly took out race winner Fernando Alonso at one stage when he
''We need to find out what caused it,'' said technical director Ross
Brawn, who did not want to rule out driver error.
Then, when Massa pitted for new tires, mechanics struggled to operate
a rear wheel gun, resulting in a stop of nearly a minute.
Ross Brawn admitted: ''The back-up system didn't work either. We're
going to have a careful look and see what caused this error.''
FIA rule cost Schu victory
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.13) The FIA's new '110 per cent' qualifying rule may
have cost Michael Schumacher victory in Bahrain.
Ferrari's veteran driver had expected an extra 2.75 kilos of fuel to
be added to his car prior to the race -- which would have been enough
for one more lap before his decisive last pit stop in the heated duel
with Fernando Alonso.
But, after getting held up in traffic on one 'top ten' qualifying
flyer on Saturday, the FIA deleted the lap - and therefore the fuel
allocation - because it was not within 110 per cent of his pole
''Maybe that extra bit would have been enough to stay ahead,''
principal Jean Todt said.
Schumacher himself was more adamant, reporting that the FIA omission
was the 'decisive factor' in the loss to Alonso.
Toyota in crisis after Bahrain shocker
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.13) Toyota treated the Bahrain grand prix as an
emergency 'test session', with formula one's biggest-budget team in
crisis with its new 2006 'TF106' package.
Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli were much more than a lap down at the
end of 57 laps, while Cologne based engineers move on to Malaysia
desperately seeking answers to a deadly lack of grip and pace.
''We don't know what the problem is,'' said Ralf Schumacher, whose
Japanese team switched from Michelin to Bridgestone in the winter.
Teammate Jarno Trulli added: ''The harder I pushed the slower I seemed
to go. We are simply not quick enough.''
Team principal Tsutomu Tomita called Toyota's 2006 season opener
FIA slap Nick
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.13) F1's new permanent steward made his debut
reprimand in Bahrain, scolding BMW-Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld after a
dice with David Coulthard.
The FIA's Tony Scott-Andrews ruled that Heidfeld, a 28-year-old
German, had wrongfully forced the Red Bull driver off the track after
completing a pass.
DC cops penalty for Malaysia
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.13) David Coulthard will start Sunday's Malaysian
grand prix from near the back of the grid after his Ferrari V8 blew on
the slowing down lap in Bahrain.
''Even if I get pole in Malaysia I will start 11th,'' said the Scot,
whose Red Bull team neglected to mention the detail in its post-grand
prix press review.
Failing to get a single engine through two complete race weekends
results in a ten-position qualifying penalty at the next event.
BMW Sauber's Jacques Villeneuve will also start 10 places back in
Sepang, after his V8 expired spectacularly without warning in Bahrain.
It is now the subject of an analysis back in Munich.
Renault deny Ferrari 'flex' protest
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.13) Renault has backed away from suggestions that the
team could protest against Ferrari's allegedly flexible rear wing.
After his driver, Fernando Alonso, beat Michael Schumacher in Bahrain,
engineering director Pat Symonds said Renault would 'try to avoid'
making a formal complaint to the FIA.
But, suggesting that a more rigorous wing 'flex' test might be
required, he told Speed TV: ''I think there are a number of teams
wondering where the limits lie.''
Stoddart's airline to make long pit stop
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.13) Former Minardi owner Paul Stoddart has admitted
that his new 'OzJet' airline in Australia could be about to make a
permanent pit stop.
The 51-year-old, who last year sold his Faenza based formula one team
to Red Bull who re-branded it 'Toro Rosso', announced that he had
suspended all OzJet services after failing to win enough support.
50 or 60 staff will be let go.
''It's really, really sad,'' he told ABC Radio.
Mosley rules out 'knockout' tweak
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.13) FIA president Max Mosley has ruled out modifying
F1's new 'knockout' qualifying to make the top ten pole-run less
Although the 2006 system basically won a thumbs-up on debut in
Bahrain, some critical voices moaned about the convoluted 'fuel
credit' concept, arguing that most of the final 20 minutes was about
burning fuel with mediocre lap times.
Why not, Max - like the rest of the session - make it a low-fuel
''It is more complicated,'' the Briton admitted, ''but if we had let
them have empty tanks, everyone would just wait in their garage saving
''You would have a flurry of activity at the end, but for the first
ten minutes nothing much would happen.
''At least this way, they have to be on the track.''
FIA to leave V10s alone - for now
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.13) Although a storm of controversy whistled through
the Bahrain paddock, F1's governing body has vowed to stick with the
current restrictions for V10 engines.
Tonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed scored no points in their 'Toro Rosso'
cars, but their V10 grunt allowed them to beat a BMW, a Honda and both
Toyotas -- all major players in the V8 brigade.
''(Toro Rosso) have about 720 horse power,'' Max Mosley said in
Bahrain. ''The best new V8s are about 760.
''We have the ability to further limit the performance of the V10s,
but for the moment we don't feel the need.''
Hockenheim puts faith in soccer boss
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.13) The fate of embattled German GP venue Hockenheim
has been put in the hands of a football (soccer) chief.
Rene C. Jaeggi, in charge of a German soccer team, has signed up to be
Hockenheim's new managing director in 2007, after debts at the circuit
rose to $35m.
However, he did not confirm the appointment. ''I have a contract with
FCK (FC Kaiserslauten),'' he told the SID agency, ''and will say
something at an appropriate time.''
V8s make F1 one second slower
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.13) 2.4 liter V8 engines have slowed down formula one
by less than one second per lap.
In 2005, Pedro de la Rosa - with a V10-powered McLaren-Mercedes
producing 950 hp - raced to a best lap in Bahrain of 1.31.447.
On Sunday, Nico Rosberg's V8 best - with a 760 horse power Cosworth -
But while new engines may not have hugely slowed the pack, former
Jordan technical director Gary Anderson reckons the change will spice
up the on-track action.
''Bahrain showed that the drivers are now willing to have a go and
throw it around a bit,'' he told 'Setanta'.
40,000 at Sakhir
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.13) A crowd of 40,000 watched Fernando Alonso and
Michael Schumacher battle it out for Bahrain GP victory on Sunday.
It's a 6,000 increase over last year, bringing the three-day total up
to 77,000 fans.
[Editor's Note: With so few spectators this promoter is
profusely bleeding red ink - another in a long list of F1 races that
lose money, big money]
Schu rules out Todt's job
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.13) Michael Schumacher, 37, has denied that he might
follow Jean Todt into principals' meetings next season as a formula
one team owner.
The Ferrari racer told 'RTL' television: ''Jean spends at least six
days a week behind a desk, for twelve to fourteen hours every day.
''I couldn't do that.''
Alonso move not for money - Dennis
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.13) Ron Dennis has denied claims that Bahrain winner
Fernando Alonso, 24, only decided to switch to McLaren for 2007 to
make more money.
With Alonso currently earning about $7.2 million a year at Renault, is
was earlier reported that his new McLaren retainer would be at least
But while that may be true, Ron Dennis revealed to the 'Sunday Mirror'
newspaper that Alonso might actually have turned down a mighty Renault
He revealed: ''The reason he came to us was not to do with the money.
He would have earned more at Renault.''
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