Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
 March 15, 2006

Ferrari got winter wind tunnel boost
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) For the first time, Ferrari crafted the bodywork for its new '248' F1 car by fitting real Bridgestone tires to its wind tunnel models.

Previously, the Maranello based marque built wind tunnel models with aluminum tires, according to 'Auto Motor Und Sport' magazine.

Ahead of the 2006 season, however, Ferrari engineers stumbled upon the idea of using real tires, probably because Bridgestone's new teams - Toyota and Williams - revealed that it is a practice employed by rival Michelin-shod squads.

Interestingly, the revelation coincided with a sizeable boost in performance from the red team -- Michael Schumacher's near-victory in Bahrain. 'Auto Motor Und Sport' contended that the change resulted in a three (3) per cent gain in aerodynamic efficiency.

''Unlike rubber, aluminum does not deform,'' technical director Ross Brawn explained, suggesting that in previous years, Ferrari might have developed aerodynamic packages that did not totally correspond with the actual cars on track.

Brawn added: ''Three months ago, Bridgestone supplied us with our first tires for a wind tunnel.''

Brawn says Ferrari wing is legal
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) Attempting to quieten speculation that Ferrari is cheating, Ross Brawn says the '248' car's rear wing does not illegally flex.

''The elements (of the wing) are more rigid than they have to be,'' said the technical director, who with team coordinator Nigel Stepney explained the part's function to the FIA's Charlie Whiting at an inspection in Bahrain.

Some rivals, specifically Renault, contend that the Ferrari rear wing contravenes the spirit of the regulations by sidestepping a rule that prohibits wings from deforming at speed, in order to boost top speed.

But Brawn told 'Auto Motor Und Sport': ''Last year, no one was interested in our car. If they are complaining now, we must be good again.''

Press heralds Schu revival
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) 'Schumacher beaten, but Ferrari is back!' That was the overwhelming message of a jubilant Italian press following the red team's return to form in the '06 opener.

''The fiasco of 2005 is now a distant memory,'' the daily 'La Repubblica' proudly exclaimed after the German driver's return to competitive form in Bahrain.

Germany's 'Frankfurter Allgemeine' newspaper agreed that Michael Schumacher's second place to Fernando Alonso was a triumph, after the 37-year-old failed to win all but one of the 19 races last year.

''The runner-up is really victor,'' the headline read.

'Bild' tempered its enthusiasm. ''Germany would be rejoicing if it wasn't for this Spaniard,'' a by-line said.

Indeed, the Spanish press put the emphasis on Alonso, the actual winner.

''He begins the new season like he finished the last one,'' said the headline in 'El Pais'.

The daily 'Marca', meanwhile, contended that Bahrain was 24-year-old Alonso's 'first lesson of the new season' for Schumacher.

Bernie confirms Fuji switch
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) Bernie Ecclestone has told a Japanese newspaper that Fuji, not Suzuka, will host the country's formula one grand prix next year.

In the 'Yomiuri Shimbun', the 75-year-old F1 supremo was quoted as saying that Fuji - owned by Toyota - had convinced him to take the race away from Honda-owned Suzuka, home of the GP since 1987.

The newspaper said the deal was for multiple years, and does not include the possibility of a second Japanese race, such as a 'Pacific' or 'Asian' GP.

''I'm not surprised at all,'' said Suzuka boss Ikuo Shimizu, who traveled to Bahrain for talks with Ecclestone, ''(but) I'm going to keep on negotiating.''

Newey eyes long future at Red Bull
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) McLaren's former technical director says he intends to stay at Red Bull for the long haul.

Adrian Newey, architect of many grand prix and championship-winning cars, signed a three year deal to star in the Red Bull lineup at least to the end of 2008.

But the 47-year-old, once strongly rumored to be eying retirement, has revealed that he is actually anticipating a longer stay at Milton Keynes.

Newey explained: ''There is no point going beyond a three-year contract, but the goal is more long-term.''

Rosberg's girl
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) Hands off, girls! F1's young, blonde and rapid rookie, Nico Rosberg, already has a girlfriend.

Her name is Viviane, a 21-year-old German student.

Earlier, in Britain's Telegraph newspaper, Williams' 20-year-old German born star - whose world championship-winning father is Finnish - confirmed that he is connected but declined to give details.

Pressed by the interviewer, Rosberg shyly grinned: ''Oh, you know.''

In Bahrain, he became the first F1 driver since Jacques Villeneuve in 1996 to set a fastest lap on debut.

Toro Rosso to get extra KL 'edge' - Liuzzi
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) While the F1 paddock may be musing Toro Rosso's alleged horse power advantage, Vitantonio Liuzzi has suggested that the former Minardi team might have even more of an 'edge' in Malaysia this week.

Weather forecasts suggest that temperatures could soar to 35C this weekend, with high humidity and rain also likely for Sepang.

''One good thing (about the heat) is that we are the only team with V10 (engines),'' said Liuzzi, the 24-year-old Italian.

Toro Rosso's Cosworth, although built to generate 19,000 rpm and 950 horse power, is performance-limited in 2006 -- resulting in near-bullet proof reliability.

Liuzzi, on a quick PR trip to Singapore with Red Bull's Robert Doornbos before jetting into Kuala Lumpur, added: ''We should have an edge -- more reliable in the conditions. I think this will help us a lot.''

Murray turns down offer to 'call' Oz GP
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) Murray Walker has turned down an offer to 'call' the Australian GP in Melbourne next month.

The legendary British commentator, who retired from F1 in 2001 at the age of seventy seven, will return to many grand prix paddocks this year as an ambassador for Honda.

But, when asked by Australia's channel '10' to call the 2006 event, Walker said 'no'.

''While we respect Murray's decision, he will be dropping by the commentary box for a couple of practice sessions,'' said executive producer Scott Young.

Walker, 82, will also do a pre-race grid walk.

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