Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
March 19, 2006
Ralf not worried about engine
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.19) Toyota's Ralf Schumacher is not concerned about
suffering a repeat of his engine failure during today's Malaysian
''Not at all,'' the German replied when asked if he was worried.
''Our engine is probably the most reliable of all.''
Ralf, 30, lines up at the rear of the grid after his grid penalty, but
he actually qualified a credible tenth -- and thinks he could have
gone even quicker.
''The warm weather is helping us here,'' he admitted. ''We will be
testing out at Paul Ricard (France) next week to see how we can maybe
work better with our (Bridgestone) tires.''
A 'b' car will then be raced at Monaco in late May.
Kimi's quickest - Wurz
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.19) Williams' chiefs think victory might be within
reach at Sepang, but the team's test driver would put more money on
his old McLaren teammate, Kimi Raikkonen.
Alex Wurz, who switched from silver to blue overalls for 2006, reckons
Kimi's MP4-21 is probably the favorite for Sunday victory.
''I think he has the quickest car at the moment,'' the Austrian told
'Premiere', adding that Kimi's qualifying time probably represents a
heavy fuel load.
But while that may be true, 26-year-old Raikkonen wasn't a picture of
happiness after qualifying seventh.
''(The car is) okay but (it's) not perfect,'' he said.
Head-scratching at Sepang
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.19) Confusion was the overriding emotion in the media
centre and the Sepang paddock as formula one grappled with the concept
of today's Malaysian GP grid.
Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault) has pole, but a little further afield,
the exact qualifying order is clouded, after the spate of ten-position
penalties for unscheduled engine changes.
One example is Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), who qualified fourth. He
should drop to fourteenth, but could then bumble back up to eleventh
as his brother (Toyota), Rubens Barrichello (Honda) and David
Coulthard (Red Bull) suffer similar fates.
And, because other drivers can still change engines on race morning,
the FIA will not publish the official starting order until shortly
before the race.
''Blame the FIA,'' said the Independent newspaper, which called for
the scrapping of the two-race engine rule.
It was even worse for the fans in the grandstands -- the big
electronic results tower at Sepang went blank in the qualifying hour
after a power surge.
McLaren promise Oz upgrade
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.19) Ron Dennis has promised his drivers an even
quicker McLaren for the upcoming Australian grand prix.
The silver team's principal said a significant upgrade for the
Melbourne race, to be followed by another new package a race later at
the Nurburgring, is planned.
''It is encouraging to know what we have planned,'' said the Briton.
''We want to be stronger at every grand prix.''
Part of the upgrade includes more power and revs for the
still-outpaced Mercedes-Benz V8.
Flav, Ron, disagree about new Q format
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.19) Ron Dennis has defended F1's new 'knockout'
qualifying system -- because his McLaren team manager thought it up.
While most praise the more exciting concept, the final-ten 'shootout'
has faced criticism because drivers spend their time simply burning
off race fuel at a modest pace.
''The intention is to make the race entertaining as well,'' said the
McLaren principal, ''so what we have gives the slowest twelve cars an
''It's not just about 'How do we make qualifying as entertaining as
possible?' It's also about making the race a spectacle.''
Dennis' Renault counterpart, Flavio Briatore, is a critic of the
20-minute fuel burn.
''It is much too complicated for the spectators,'' the Italian told
Williams' Rosberg could win
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.19) So you thought Williams' rookie Nico Rosberg did
well to qualify third in Malaysia?
Team technical director Sam Michael reckons F1 might soon be praising
a youngest-ever GP winner.
''Our strength, really, is our race pace here,'' the Australian said.
''To be honest, we were a lot more concerned about qualifying than we
are about the race.''
Schu, Massa, with lots of fuel - Brawn
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.19) Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa will carry
heavy fuel loads to the Malaysian GP grid, Ferrari technical director
Ross Brawn hints.
The Briton, who revealed that engineers are still getting to the
bottom of the engine reliability problem, told 'Premiere' that the
heavy race strategy could result in points 'and maybe even a podium'.
''You never know,'' Brawn added, ''(as) there is always the
possibility of a safety car or rain.''
For the record, the chance of rain on Sunday is no less than 70%. A
high of 33C is forecast.
Montoya finds full power with faulty V8
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.19) In Malaysia, Juan Pablo Montoya outqualified
McLaren teammate Kimi Raikkonen with the same Mercedes-Benz engine he
described as down on power a week ago in Bahrain.
''Yes, it's the same (one),'' Mercedes' competition director Norbert
Haug said on Sunday, ''and it looks okay here, doesn't it?''
In fairness to the Colombian, McLaren did update the unit's engine
Monteiro still in pain
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.19) On Saturday, Tiago Monteiro battled on with back
pain in Malaysia.
MF1's Portuguese driver pinched a nerve on Friday, but managed to
qualify just ahead of the Super Aguri cars a day later.
''I was concerned about the pain,'' 29-year-old Monteiro admitted on
Saturday, ''and just when I thought it had gone, it struck again and I
could hardly drive.''
He was back on the team's physio table shortly after the qualifying
session, and hopes to be fit for the race.
Monteiro said on Saturday: ''I hope the pain will be gone tomorrow.''
Ferrari FRONT wing now under microscope
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.19) The saga surrounding allegedly 'flexible' rear
wings has stepped up a gear in Malaysia, with the FIA due to again
inspect the Ferrari '248' on Sunday.
This time, Charlie Whiting and Jo Bauer are tipped to be concerned
about the FRONT wing, amid suggestions that on-board but also close-up
TV/video evidence showed the unique upper flaps moving at high speed.
Meanwhile, clearing up the confusion surrounding today's Sepang grid,
the FIA has confirmed that Michael Schumacher will start the grand
prix from 14th, David Coulthard 19th, Rubens Barrichello 20th, Felipe
Massa 21st and Ralf Schumacher dead last.
Sauber - 'I'm not nostalgic'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.19) Peter Sauber may be watching over his former team
in Malaysia, but the 62-year-old said he will not be sitting on the
pitwall during today's grand prix near Kuala Lumpur.
''I am not nostalgic,'' the Swiss - who sold his team to BMW last year
and remains a part-time sponsor consultant - smiled to the 'Premiere'
Alonso 'not favorite'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.19) Bahrain winner Fernando Alonso says he is
unlikely to make it a back to back victory after 56 laps in Malaysia.
The Renault driver, 24, will start from seventh on the Sepang grid
today, after an electronic glitch and a separate fuel rig problem in
qualifying, which saw his car filled much too heavily.
''I am no longer the favorite (to win),'' Alonso said, ''but we will
try to get a podium at least and as many points as we can.''
Some paddock observers, however, have mused that the Spaniard's heavy
fuel load is nonetheless probably similar to that of the McLarens (5th
and 6th), while Williams' two cars - 3rd and 4th - are almost
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