Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
March 28, 2006
Webber launches new challenge
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.28) In Melbourne on Tuesday, Williams' F1 driver
unveiled plans for a second 'Mark Webber Challenge' in Tasmania.
In 2003, the Australian staged an unique hiking, kayaking and cycling
contest - with a few celebrities on board - in the rugged outback.
The 2006 edition of the cancer fundraiser will be run in November this
Later on Tuesday, 30-year-old Webber will head to Kooyong, to take on
F1 rivals like Fernando Alonso at tennis.
In an interview in the city, Mark ruled out winning his first race on
the Albert Park layout.
''Well, obviously it would be very spectacular, but we're a fair way
off yet,'' he said.
''Renault are the form team at the moment and we've got a lot to do
before we start winning.''
JV's jab at 'pointless' Friday
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.28) Jacques Villeneuve is no fan of regulations that
turn Friday practice into a F1 farce.
The French Canadian, who won the championship in 1997, warned
spectators planning to go to Albert Park on Friday to expect very
little action -- unless they're interested in non-race 'Friday'
''Friday is pointless,'' the BMW Sauber driver said, referring to the
two-race engine rule that has been exacerbated in 2006 by the doubtful
reliability of the new V8s.
Villeneuve, already in Melbourne, told the local Herald Sun: ''It's
not really a fair thing for the fans or the teams. The fans come (but)
they don't care about third drivers.''
GPMA not dead yet - spokesman
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.28) A GPMA spokesman has rebuked reports that its
threatened 'breakaway' championship is now dead.
After BMW, Mercedes, Renault, Toyota and Honda lodged their 2008 entry
forms with the FIA, some revelers rejoiced that it nailed the final
coffin into a long standing power struggle.
However, although the news is undoubtedly positive, 'GPMA' is yet to
put pen to paper on a new commercial (Concorde) agreement, and
probably only signed up so as to have a say about controversial new
rules like the proposed V8 'freeze'.
Spokesman Xander Heijnen said: ''It is too early (to say). There are
some open issues left (to resolve).''
JV's warning for 'amazing' Webber
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.28) Mark Webber's formula one career could stagnate
if he spends much more time in the midfield.
That's the warning of 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, who won
11 times before 1998 but has failed to add to the tally in the
intervening eight years.
''If you spend too many years in a car that can't win,'' the
34-year-old told 'AAP' in Melbourne, ''the day you're in one ...
you're not used to it.''
Canadian JV, however, is a Webber supporter, claiming that the dip in
the Australian's reputation is probably related to his 'amazing'
BMW-Sauber driver Villeneuve said: ''His qualifying (skills are) so
good that it makes his racing look not so good.''
But while Mark Webber is a solid feature of the Williams team, Jacques
expressed doubt about how his title-winning camp could keep up with
its rivals in 2006.
Cosworth-powered Williams got off to a strong start this year, but the
real test will be matching the development strength of hugely-funded
JV predicted: ''I think the longer the season goes, the more difficult
they'll find it.''
Schu step-brother finds race spotlight
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.28) Believe it or not, another relative of F1's
Michael Schumacher is about to hit the world motor racing scene.
With brother Ralf also on the grand prix grid, and sister-in-law Cora
now a money-earning racer, the Schumacher siblings' step-brother
Sebastian Stahl is to grace the 'A1' open wheel circuit for Germany.
27-year-old Stahl - predictably nicknamed 'Schumi 3' - is the son of
(Michael and Ralf's father) Rolf Schumacher's second wife.
The German 'A1' team, incidentally, is run by Michael Schumacher's
long time manager Willi Weber.
Gascoyne joins qualifying dissent
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.28) Mike Gascoyne has backed former boss Flavio
Briatore's criticism of the final top-ten portion of F1's new
Briatore, Renault chief, proposed this week that rule makers tweak the
novel format to eliminate the 20 minute 'fuel-burn' anomaly.
''When everyone is driving around getting fuel down, (it) is not
particularly interesting,'' Gascoyne - formerly at Renault but now
Toyota's technical director - said.
''That may need readjusting but overall (the format) is definitely an
Honda and Super Aguri
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.28) 'Super Aguri' members have eased speculation that
Japanese engine partner Honda has reneged support for the fledgling
formula one squad.
It was rumored in F1 circles that Honda, the team's V8 engine partner
and engineering/commercial sponsor, had got cold feet about
associating itself with a 'b'-style outfit.
However, team manager Daniele Audetto, a veteran of the sport, told
f1.com that of the current staff of 90 at Leafield HQ, fourteen - or
15 per cent - are dedicated Honda personnel.
He insisted: ''We also have strong support from Honda in Japan.''
Audetto explained that, in addition to engine supply, Honda - with its
Brackley based works team also on the grid - contribute electronics,
software and engineering support.
''They have been invaluable in the development of the team, in every
aspect,'' Daniele added.
Renault duo eye F1's big prize
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.28) Fernando Alonso is feeling bullish about backing
up his 2005 triumph with another title.
Renault's Spaniard, who will switch to McLaren next year, said he is
confident the two-time winning 'R26' can be just as quick everywhere
in the '06 season.
''It is a difficult feeling to explain,'' Alonso, 24, said on the eve
of the Melbourne event, ''but having seen what the car can do (in
Bahrain and Malaysia), I don't have any doubts that we can win the
According to Fernando's boss and manager, however, he might face a new
title challenger for the end-of-year trophy; last-start winner and
Renault teammate, Giancarlo Fisichella.
Team principal Flavio Briatore admits that '80 per cent' of the
Roman's problems last year were Renault's fault.
''He needs the luck, yes,'' said the Italian, ''but that comes when
you are strong and take risks, because you believe in yourself.''
Barrichello baulked at Ferrari 'limit'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.28) Honda's Rubens Barrichello says he left Ferrari
because the red-colored team did not give him the 'same attention' as
champion Michael Schumacher.
The 33-year-old, enduring a difficult start at his 2006 squad,
admitted in Melbourne that he decided to leave Maranello because he
exhausted the level of support available to him.
''All the attention is on Michael,'' Barrichello explained, ''(but) I
worked very hard to overcome that fact.''
He said: ''I think I did quite well, but every year I improved and
improved but I got to a limit.
''(And) if they don't give me the same attention I can't do much.''
Rubens said becoming world champion is impossible without a team's
He also thinks the red team, after Rubens' dismal final season at
Ferrari, can now come good.
''We were always on top,'' Barrichello said, referring to the fact
that 2005 was the only season in his tenure in which Ferrari did not
win a world title.
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