Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
 March 23, 2006

Four venues host F1 running
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.23) In the fortnight gap between Malaysia and Australia, formula one testing is taking place at no less than four different European tracks.

The majority of action is concentrated at Paul Ricard (France), where - after a rainy Tuesday - Renault's Heikki Kovalainen set the pace.

Also on Wednesday, Pedro de la Rosa tried a new-specification Mercedes-Benz V8 for McLaren, in a MP4-21 car also featuring other new bits for Melbourne.

BMW-Sauber is also in action, as is Toyota, who have brought race drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli back for the pre-Australia test.

At Fiorano (Italy), Luca Badoer resumed Ferrari's test programme, while Narain Karthikeyan (Williams) and David Coulthard (Red Bull) circulated at the Spanish Valencia venue.

Honda is working alone at Vallelunga, where Rubens Barrichello has been asked to run following his disappointing start to 2006.

A new hotel for Coulthard
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.23) David Coulthard's empire is expanding, with work starting on a new budget hotel in Edinburgh (Scotland) this week.

The Scot and Red Bull driver, who owns a string of hotels including the plush 'Columbus' in Monaco, co-owns the new addition -- a 132-bedroom 'Dakota' set to open in January next year.

MF1 play down poor start
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.23) Team principal Colin Kolles has played down Midland (MF1)'s poor start to the 2006 season.

The Russian squad's Romanian-born chief highlighted the improvement of Malaysia over the first Bahrain race, despite his M16 cars fighting with four-year-old 'Super Aguri' racers at Sepang.

But he admitted: ''Hopefully our performance will improve in Australia, where we'll have new parts.''

Much of the Toyota-powered car's problem is an aerodynamic deficiency, where even the '02 Arrows proved tough to pass.

But Kolles said the first 'MF1' car is at least better than its dated yellow predecessor.

Kolles added: ''We do need to improve in order to help our speed on the straights, but the gap to the front isn't 4.5 seconds any more.

''You don't arrive (in F1) and overnight you're there.''

Late GPMA move fails to foil Max's vision
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.23) Enmity between F1's carmakers and FIA president Max Mosley resumed in Europe this week.

At 10pm the night before Wednesday's meeting of the world motor sport council, the GPMA alliance - including five manufacturer-owned teams - faxed a letter to the FIA's Monaco office; even though Max was in Paris for the meeting.

It highlighted 'concerns' with the 2008 rules, asking the council to consider implementing their ideas rather than ratify the controversial Mosley-plan.

The council, however, basically ignored the GPMA appeal, Mosley noting in a reply that 'none of you attended' meetings in 2005 'to discuss the 2008 regulations, despite repeated invitations to do so'.

So, in one stroke, the draft 2008 rules became law.

As well as a three-year engine 'freeze', the F1 calendar will be expanded to a maximum of 20 races, the 10-place grid penalty replaced with a 15kg 'ballast' scheme, and the $48m new-team bond axed.

Also in 2008, testing will be cut to 30,000km per team, spare cars banned, parc ferme conditions in force all weekend, and gearboxes will have to last four races.

Rubens 'deeply disappointed'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.23) Ferrari refugee Rubens Barrichello says he is 'deeply disappointed' with the dreadful start to his new Honda career.

''I didn't expect it to be like this,'' the Brazilian told German media, ''but I am still hoping to get it right and win with this team.''

So bad was Rubens' pace in Bahrain and Malaysia that the Brackley based team has hauled him back from the southern hemisphere to test this week at Vallelunga (Italy).

Even so, in the 'TV Movie' magazine, the 33-year-old found time to muse about his old Maranello sparring partner, multiple champion Michael Schumacher.

''I would call him a friend, even if we don't telephone each other daily,'' Rubens said.

'Equal' Fisi eyes Melbourne repeat
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.23) Giancarlo Fisichella has denied that his Malaysian GP win indicates that he will be favored over departing teammate Fernando Alonso in 2006.

With Spaniard Alonso, 24, bound for McLaren at the end of the season, some wondered why Renault did not take advantage of his heavy fuel load at Sepang and aim for victory with a one-stop strategy.

Does the apparent discrepancy hint that, unlike in 2005, 33-year-old Fisichella is now enjoying the good life?

''No,'' the Roman categorically told La Gazzetta dello Sport. ''The team treats us exactly equally -- our cars are identical and no one thinks about 2007.''

Indeed, a Renault source explained that Alonso did not attempt a one-stop at Sepang because of concerns that the Michelins would not last such a long stint.

But Fisichella agrees that his blue and yellow 'R26' is a step ahead of Renault's rivals, including - he says - Ferrari, Honda and McLaren.

''It will still be a close contest,'' the Italian insisted, ''and I am sure that we will not win every grand prix.

''But at the moment, our car-engine-tire package seems a step ahead and I think I can win again in Melbourne.''

Nico 'not surprised' to outpace Webber
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.23) F1 rookie Nico Rosberg says he was not surprised to outpace qualifying specialist and experienced teammate Mark Webber at Sepang.

Although exiting the race with engine failure, Williams' 20-year-old youngster started from a highly laudable third on the grid.

''I didn't expect to get as high up as that,'' Nico told his column for team sponsor Castrol, ''so that was a bit of a surprise.

''But I wasn't surprised to be ahead of Mark.

''We have always been similar (in pace) in testing, I fully believe in myself, so why shouldn't I be ahead?''

Toyota target podium revival
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.23) Toyota's Mike Gascoyne reckons his drivers could still end up on the post-race podium in 2006.

Despite the Cologne based squad's dire start with its uncompetitive TF106, the technical director - to oversee his race pilots' progress at the Paul Ricard test this week - insisted that Malaysia represented a step forward for the Bridgestone-shod package.

Gascoyne said: ''If you look at our race pace (at Sepang), we were not that far from Ferrari, who I am sure are looking at podium places.

''So we should also be able to do it.''

Another Schumacher hits the race track
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.23) Another Schumacher is now a full time race driver -- Ralf Schumacher's wife, Cora.

The 29-year-old blonde, who honed her racing skills in the Mini Challenge, has reportedly penned a one year contract - worth $600,000 - to drive a 280hp, 260kmh machine in the 'Seat Leon Supercopa' category; a support series for 'DTM'.

In one swift stroke, then, Mrs. Schumacher has become one of the highest paid racers in Germany, outpacing men like formula one rookie Nico Rosberg, who - according to 'Bild' newspaper - is making about $420,000 this year.

''I will save the money,'' Cora vowed. ''Finally I can buy Ralf and (son) David presents with my own money!''

Walker missed F1 'enormously'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.23) F1's Murray Walker, 82, says he decided to return to the sport he loves because he is happier at a race track.

The legendary Englishman, who will be a Honda F1 ambassador in 2006 as well as a contributor for broadcaster BBC, quit for good four years ago.

''Well, I did miss it, more than I expected; and I had expected to miss it enormously,'' Murray, visiting former Australian GP host city Adelaide for a domestic V8 touring car event, said.

''Feedback can be sent to feedback@autoracing1.com

Go to our forums 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 permission.