Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
March 27, 2006
Oz grunt keeps Rubens awake
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.27) Rubens Barrichello spent his weekend watching an
Australian 'V8 supercar' race in the southern former grand prix city
The Brazilian was in town to support compatriot Max Wilson, a regular
of the domestic touring car series who grew up on the same street as
Barrichello in Sao Paulo.
''Max has a huge talent,'' 33-year-old Rubens told local media. ''I
watch him in this series on television.''
He explained that the stopover in Adelaide, where temperatures soared
to above 30 degrees, would help him acclimatize also to the Australian
time-zone ahead of the Melbourne GP.
And, referring to the V8 engines' deep grunt-like sounds, Barrichello
smiled: ''I'm definitely not going to feel like sleeping!''
Barrichello admits to Honda 'struggle'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.27) Rubens Barrichello says it will take 'a bit of
time' for him to get up to speed at the Honda team.
The veteran Brazilian has endured an uncompetitive start since
switching from Ferrari, but he told reporters at the weekend that the
problem is simply adjusting to an entirely different F1 package.
''Team, car, engine, tires, everything was new,'' Rubens, 33, said at
a touring car race in Australian city Adelaide.
Barrichello, significantly slower than teammate Jenson Button in
Bahrain and Malaysia, admitted he is struggling not only with the
switch to Michelin tires, but with Honda's new V8 engine.
''(Button) is very used to the way it behaves -- the drivability,'' he
''But I'm quite happy.''
Earlier, to Italy's 'Corriere dello Sport' newspaper, Rubens confessed
to finding it 'difficult' to adjust after many years of wearing
Williams lose chief designer
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.27) Williams' chief designer has left the team.
Jorg Zander only replaced his departed predecessor Gavin Fisher less
than a year ago, but the former BAR man has quit immediately for
'personal' reasons, a spokesman said.
''There is no other underlying reason,'' the spokeswoman said. ''He
wanted to go back with his family to Germany.''
The team spokesman revealed that a new chief designer would not be
sought right away.
''(Technical director) Sam Michael believes the (team) is strong
enough to withstand (the loss) in the short term.''
Ron's high praise for Montoya
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.27) Ron Dennis has offered high praise for McLaren's
Colombian driver, saying Juan Pablo Montoya is one of formula one's
The silver-clad chief told 'F1 Racing' magazine that he had 'never'
seen a grand prix pilot put in more preparation for a new season.
Dennis' praise is in the context of the fact that either Montoya, 30,
or 2006 teammate Kimi Raikkonen will have to make way next year for
But, despite revealing an initially 'predictable' reaction to the news
that Alonso was en route, Ron said Juan simply got to work.
Ron Dennis explained: ''I'm very sure he'll have a much better season
than he did last year.''
Birthday boy DC defends Ferrari
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.27) Birthday boy and F1 veteran David Coulthard has
played down claims that Ferrari has been caught 'cheating' in 2006.
The Scot, who turns 35 on Monday, chimed in on the 'flexi-wing'
argument by insisting that every formula one team pushes the FIA's
regulations to the limit.
''Some might say what they did was against the spirit of the rules,''
Coulthard - powered by a customer Ferrari engine - told Britain's News
of the World.
Indeed, the F1 rulebook is deliberately penned without intricate
detail, meaning that it is often open to interpretation and having
grey areas and loopholes.
'DC' explained: ''Cheating is an ugly word but it you are penalized
then that is effectively what you are doing.''
Head warns of test limit side-effects
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.27) Limits on F1 track testing are a disadvantage for
smaller teams, according to Williams' co-owner Patrick Head.
The 60-year-old, doubling as an engineering director, agrees that
doing less test miles - such as via the current 36-day voluntary
agreement - does cut costs.
However, with the FIA looking to regulate test mileage into the
future, Head warned that it could escalate the divide between F1's
haves and have-nots if not accompanying rules to nullify huge spending
in other areas.
''As testing gets limited more,'' the Briton said, ''it puts more
emphasis onto simulation tools, and some of those are pretty
After the loss of works partner BMW, Sir Frank Williams' Grove based
squad should be seen as an independent in the same mould as Red Bull,
Midland and Super Aguri.
As an example, Head explained that the FW28's new seamless gearbox had
to be 'de-bugged' on the test track because the team no longer has
access to sophisticated dynamometers.
Ralf's spat spills into public arena
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.27) A spat between Ralf Schumacher and estranged
former manager Willi Weber has spilled into the public arena.
While Weber continues to work with Ralf's brother Michael, the pair
split late last year, with Ralf explaining that he is able to handle
his own affairs.
However, while both appeared to feign a enduring friendship,
30-year-old Schumacher has now cried 'enough' in a German media
''Too often has (Weber) said negative things about my family and I,''
Toyota's German pilot said.
Weber handled Ralf's racing career for twelve years, including his
rise to formula one with Jordan back in 1997.
But, since their managerial split, Weber has been quoted as pointing a
finger at Ralf's wife Cora for exercising an adverse influence over
her husband's high speed career.
Aussie autumn to shape F1 tire war
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.27) F1's traveling fraternity will discover a new
autumnal Melbourne for the city's grand prix this week.
With the race delayed in 2006 to make room for the Commonwealth Games,
it will be the sport's first encounter of Australia outside summer.
Indeed, a somewhat warm week will come over overcast on Friday, with
temperatures not expected to rise above 17C on all three days of the
Elsewhere in the country, a Red Bull driver fitness camp in the Cairns
region - featuring Christian Klien and Tonio Liuzzi - was disrupted by
the destructive cyclone 'Larry'.
The weather anomaly has caused a few brows to furrow, such as runners
on Bridgestone tires who had looked forward to typically good
performance in the country.
''We need some heat (for the tires),'' Williams' Bridgestone clad
local racer Mark Webber told the Herald Sun.
Also referring to the unique Australian weather, Bridgestone's tire
rival headlined its pre-race media document with the words 'Autumn
Should Suit Michelin'.
At a mild Albert Park track on Monday, all the F1 cars - which were
being stored at nearby Avalon Airport until the end of the Games'
closing ceremony - were expected to arrive.
JV to go 'cautious' in Oz
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.27) BMW Sauber will take a 'cautious' approach to
Jacques Villeneuve's grand prix at Albert Park.
The French Canadian's V8 engine failed in Bahrain, before teammate
Nick Heidfeld endured a smoky exit from the ensuing Sepang race.
However, unlike Heidfeld whose 'F1.06' is fitted with a fresh power
plant, 34-year-old Villeneuve will have to make do with his
Malaysia-spec unit on the streets of Melbourne.
''Australia is another circuit that's heavy on engines,'' JV noted,
''so we'll have to exercise a certain amount of caution during the
Upgrades for Oz
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.27) Williams' FW28 will be fitted with a new
specification of Cosworth V8 engine in Australia.
But the team's technical director Sam Michael warned: ''All teams will
have improvements for Albert Park.''
The 'Series-3' power plant was tested last week at Valencia, and
features a change that addresses the sort of fiery failure that struck
Nico Rosberg's 2.4 liter V8 in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, further down pitlane, F1 newcomer Super Aguri has brought a
new front wing to Melbourne for its 'SA05'.
Silverstone's soccer clash solution
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.27) Silverstone has dreamed-up a novel solution to
the British GP's clash with world cup football in June this year.
Presumably to deter race fans from staying home to watch the England v
Paraguay opener, the F1 circuit says it will show the match live on
huge screens just after the final laps of qualifying.
It could mean that up to 65,000 grand prix fans will stick around on
pit straight, 'Stowe' and 'Abbey' to follow the soccer action.
To accommodate the plan, the start time for qualifying was moved back
to 12.30, making room for a 2pm kick-off.
''There should be a fantastic atmosphere around the circuit,'' track
boss Richard Phillips said.
F1 tests end in Europe
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.27) Pre-Melbourne grand prix testing wound up around
Europe last Friday.
Williams had a windy Valencia (Spain) track to itself, following the
departure of Red Bull.
At Paul Ricard (France), McLaren, Renault, BMW Sauber and Toyota
encountered a damp track in the morning after overnight rain, while at
Fiorano Ferrari wrapped up a test.
Bernie Ecclestone's Paul Ricard circuit at Le Castellet, meanwhile,
will host more F1 action next week.
F1 'freeze' summit at Maranello
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.27) F1's governing body has met with Ferrari, Renault
and Cosworth to draw up a rule blueprint for a controversial 'freeze'
on V8 engine development.
At Ferrari's Maranello HQ, powerbrokers Max Mosley, Charlie Whiting,
Flavio Briatore, Pat Symonds, Jean Todt and Ross Brawn sat down to
hammer out a five-year ban on V8 development to cut costs from 2008
Significantly, Renault is a member of the rogue 'GPMA' alliance, but
F1 boss Briatore is a Mosley supporter and is thought to have actually
devised the engine 'freeze' -- originally a 3-year proposal.
Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper said a broad agreement was
reached, amid further suggestions that Mercedes, BMW, Toyota and Honda
will imminently sign a new 2008-2012 'Concorde' contract.
Conversely, however, John Howett - a representative of at least one
other 'GPMA' carmaker (Toyota) - has been quoted in opposition to the
He said: ''Three years out is quite a long way to freeze an engine
after a very limited period of running with it.''
Max heaps praise on 'Flav'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.27) Whilst softly aiming fire at his usual
adversaries, FIA president Max Mosley has lavished praise on Flavio
Briatore, the 'playboy' boss of Renault.
Max and Italian 'Flav', 55, are long time allies; the pair even
attending a recent meeting to endorse Briatore's controversial engine
'freeze' idea to cut costs.
In his regular column for 'F1 Racing' magazine, Mosley said Briatore
must appear to his rivals to effortlessly win titles with inferior
And, probably referring to regular foe Ron Dennis' diametrically
opposite 'Ron-speak' rambling, Max explained how Briatore always
'comes crisply to the point'.
''It's a pity we don't have a few more like him,'' the Briton mused.
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