Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
March 22, 2006
Fisi fizzes at Ferrari
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) Giancarlo Fisichella has struck out at Ferrari
for refusing to give Italian drivers a chance at the scarlet team.
In Milan (Italy) to launch a new 'Fisichella' perfume, the Roman
praised countryman and Renault boss Flavio Briatore as 'one of the
few' who promotes Italians on the grid.
''Unlike certain teams,'' he told the ANSA agency.
Sepang winner Fisichella added: ''Unfortunately, we (Italian drivers)
always get the short end of the stick. If they gave us a chance,
Italians would be winning races more often.''
The last Italian national to drive for Ferrari was the late Michele
Alboreto, who raced in red until 1988.
Briatore, meanwhile, returned the compliment by insisting that
Fisichella would 'deserve it' if he beat McLaren-bound teammate
Fernando Alonso to the title.
''In my opinion, he is on the same level as Fernando,'' the Italian
told Gazzetta dello Sport.
Fisichella also retorted to Alonso's post-Malaysia claim that his real
opponents for the 2006 title are Raikkonen and Schumacher.
''I won the race in Malaysia,'' the Italian said, ''and I have the
same car as him. It's ok.
''It's fine -- I'll try to change Alonso's mind!''
BMW, McLaren, to scrap 'flex' wings
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) BMW-Sauber and McLaren-Mercedes will bring new
designs to Melbourne after the FIA deemed their 'flexi' wings illegal,
it is reported.
The two teams, who earlier banded together with six others to threaten
protests against Ferrari's cars in Malaysia, now admit that they had
been quietly told to revise bodywork.
A McLaren spokesman agreed that the 'minor' change would be carried
''(But) the design is not performance-enhancing,'' a McLaren contact
reportedly clarified to Germany's Auto Motor Und Sport magazine.
It is also suggested that the relevant clause in the technical
regulations could be revised as early as April.
No driver crisis, says Flav
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) Flavio Briatore has moved to soothe speculation
that the Renault team is facing a driver crisis for 2007.
Although world champion Fernando Alonso is off to McLaren next year,
Briatore - the blue and yellow-clad principal - told Gazzetta dello
Sport that test driver Heikki Kovalainen is unwearyingly in the wings.
And, although denying that Renault could never afford Kimi Raikkonen
to replace Giancarlo Fisichella, he added: ''You should remember that
we don't have to change both drivers.''
24-year-old Kovalainen told f1.com: ''All the signals are all
suggesting that (my F1 debut) will happen in 2007.''
Be like Flav
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) It's often a mystery to outsiders, but Flavio
Briatore is one of F1's most admired and envied men.
The 55-year-old Italian grinningly revealed to Germany's 'Bild'
newspaper that he receives 750 letters a day from fans who 'want to
know how to become a Briatore'.
Flavio, although a little chubby and with grey hair, is filthy rich,
owns nightclubs and a private beach in Kenya, and is connected with a
string of super models.
''He's a charmer,'' confirmed Ralf Schumacher's wife, Cora.
She added: ''I think he's cool. Maybe it's his money, maybe it's his
power, but many women want to be with him.
''The life of pure luxury is very impressive to women.
''Luckily I already have the man of my dreams (Ralf). Then again,
Flavio is about half a century too old for me!''
Kimi in no rush to sign '07 deal
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) Kimi Raikkonen is in no rush to sign a F1
contract for 2007, according to the Finn's manager.
Steve Robertson told the Guardian newspaper that 'several top teams'
are shaping up with tasty offers for the presently McLaren-driving
''(But) Kimi is under no pressure,'' said Robertson, in the enviable
position of probably dealing with the interest of Ferrari, McLaren,
Renault, Toyota and others.
''He doesn't need to be hurried into any decision,'' Raikkonen's
manager continued. ''We will evaluate all his options very carefully
and ultimately he will make the decision.''
Robertson denied that Kimi's decision would be 'solely' driven by
But the racer's countryman, Mika Hakkinen - who won back to back
titles with McLaren in his sixth and seventh seasons with the team -
cautiously advised the ice-cool Finn to stick with Ron Dennis.
He also told Reuters: ''What Kimi should do (however) is for him to
JV's new girl
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) After several years with a ballerina from New
York, BMW-Sauber driver Jacques Villeneuve showed off a new girlfriend
The Canadian, 34, was spotted holding hands with a pretty brunette in
the Malaysian paddock -- and he revealed that she is from Paris and
Petition targets Monza GP threat
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) The fate of September's Italian GP continues to
look uncertain, after a civil court last week refused to overturn a
ban on noisy cars at Monza.
Although the historic grand prix might be protected, one
junior-category event at the track has already been axed.
Now, like F1, the ban also threatens events like touring cars and
Italian F3 and formula 3000.
'Drivingitalia.net' has set up an online petition against the court's
ruling, which can be signed at
No Schu talks yet - manager
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) Michael Schumacher's manager says he is not yet
negotiating with Ferrari about a new contract for the ace driver.
Willi Weber revealed that he is waiting for the seven time world
champion to be more clear about whether he wants to keep racing beyond
his expiring deal.
''I'm not talking to them,'' the German told La Gazzetta dello Sport,
''because I would first need to know what Michael has in his head
about continuing or stopping.''
Frustratingly for the F1 fraternity, Schumacher's uncertainty is
holding up the 2007 driver market.
Until the 37-year-old decides what to do, Kimi Raikkonen - the next
key player - will also sit tight, condemning guys like Giancarlo
Fisichella, Juan Pablo Montoya, Felipe Massa, Jarno Trulli and Mark
Webber to the same anxious wait.
Nico admits Webber duel 'mistake'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) Williams' Nico Rosberg has owned up to the
'mistake' of squeezing teammate Mark Webber on the run to the first
corner in his second GP.
The 20-year-old rookie was reportedly scolded by team bosses after
pushing his fellow racer close to the pitwall in Malaysia; a move that
allowed Fernando Alonso to pass them both.
He has also spoken to a peeved Webber, 29, about it.
''In the end it hurt both of us,'' Rosberg told his column for ITV.
He said: ''It was my fault.
''I should have worked with him (so) I will change that for the
Schu was prepared to test this week
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) Michael Schumacher, currently enjoying his
'annual honeymoon' with wife Corinna on a Malaysian island, says he
was prepared to return to Europe to test.
Given Ferrari's pace and engine problems at Sepang, the German told
reporters that he had made himself available to the scarlet clad test
team during this week.
''That was my intention,'' said Schumacher, who does expect his '248
F1' to perform better in Australia next week.
''But our program is not so intensive that I have to return this time.
''It obviously makes no sense to fly back to Europe if it is not a
necessity -- in fact, doing that could even be counter productive.''
Give Rubens time to speed up, says Honda
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) Rubens Barrichello should look speedier by the
time F1 has returned for the European season, Honda boss Nick Fry has
The experienced Brazilian, signed for 2006 for his knowledge of
winning nine grands prix in six years at Ferrari, has so far struggled
to even get close to Jenson Button's pace.
But Fry, the team principal, is clearly in no mood to begin comparing
33-year-old Rubens with the lackluster pace of the man he replaces --
''We will get there with Rubens,'' he told the Telegraph newspaper,
''but it's a bit of a hard slog now.''
Fry suggested that the problem is the car, a sentiment backed up by
Barrichello himself who has explained that the Honda is a totally
different beast to his Ferrari.
''We have to make it a bit more to Rubens' liking,'' the boss
admitted, ''(but) he has to adapt his driving style to suit it.''
Button, 26, even suggests that Rubens' problem is related to the
weather, after his new teammate once showed reasonable pace in the
cold of winter testing.
''It seems that when the conditions are hotter,'' the Briton
hypothesized, ''he is struggling a bit more.''
Alonso says no to F1 2019
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) According to many observers, Fernando Alonso is
the 'new Michael Schumacher' for F1.
But if his fans are looking forward to seeing a 37-year-old Spaniard
still wheel-to-wheel in grands prix, Fernando has warned them to think
''I cannot imagine fighting for the championship in 2019,'' the
24-year-old laughed to the 'Times' when asked if he would consider
emulating the seven time world champion.
Massa rues lost podium chance
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) Ferrari youngster Felipe Massa, 24, will spend
the days between the Malaysian grand prix and Australia in Bali.
''I've never been there,'' said the Brazilian, ''and I like to visit
new places. I have also heard that it is very beautiful there.''
On Sunday he will fly from Bali to Melbourne.
''I think I did a good job at the last race,'' said the Ferrari
newcomer, who rose from the rear of the grid to fifth and even held
off teammate Michael Schumacher despite nursing a fading fuel load.
Massa insisted: ''If I had started further up, I think I could have
fought for a podium spot.''
Team boss Jean Todt's praise, however, might be interpreted as a
little sparing, as he justified not asking Felipe Massa to move over
for Schumacher because it's 'too early' in the championship.
''Felipe could not defend his chances in the first grand prix (in
Bahrain),'' the Frenchman added, ''so I think he did a pretty good
Todt said: ''He's under a lot of pressure, so it's important that he
can demonstrate that he's a very good driver.''
Ferrari's V8 fault nearly fixed
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) Ferrari has nearly solved the engine problem that
threw its Malaysian GP into chaos, according to team principal Jean
The Frenchman says the V8's technical glitch, apparently involving the
cracking of pistons, should not recur at Melbourne's Albert Park track
Scarlet new-boy Felipe Massa had two engine changes (and penalties)
following the opening race in Bahrain, while at Sepang Michael
Schumacher suffered a similar fate with his V8.
However, in the race, both cars made it to the checker.
''I think we already did one step forward,'' Todt told reporters,
''(and) I think we've understood a lot of things.
''We have a specific failure that comes from the (pistons but) at the
moment we are still analyzing the problems.''
FIA council to meet on Wednesday
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) The FIA's world motor sport council is scheduled
to meet in Paris on Wednesday morning.
On the agenda will be Max Mosley's proposed regulations for 2008, but
also the controversial FIA president's plan to soon open and close a
one-week 'window' for teams to sign up for the new world championship.
STR unlikely to score points - boss
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) Earlier predicted as a podium challenger, F1 team
Toro Rosso dropped off the radar after a uninspiring weekend of pace
at the Malaysian GP.
With the Red Bull-owned team's diminishing pace came a calming of the
debate about engine equivalency, following the
controversially-V10-powered show of speed by Faenza based STR at the
Team boss Franz Tost admitted at Sepang that the part Gerhard
Berger-owned squad is unlikely to be a real challenger in the '06
''If the works teams sort out their (engine reliability) problems, we
will struggle to finish in the top twelve,'' said the Austrian.
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