2006 European Grand Prix - Race 5/18

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Lola pressing ahead with F1 plans

Racing car constructor Lola is still pressing ahead with plans to build a Formula One car following approaches from two possible future entrants, even though Prodrive have been granted the 12th slot for 2008.

Autosport revealed last week that two of the teams that lodged applications to join the world championship in 2008 had asked Lola whether they could build them an F1 chassis. The identity of the two teams involved is being kept secret.

Although neither of the two teams are understood to have been successful in getting a slot on the 2008 grid, Lola has insisted that it is still pushing ahead with the plans that would see it build its first F1 chassis since its aborted 1997 attempt.

"We have had close consultations with several F1 teams that are ongoing," a Lola spokesman told autosport.com on Tuesday. "The release of the entry list didn't change anything and we are still pressing ahead with our plans.

"We've got the facilities for a serious F1 operation, and our wind tunnel is still used by F1 teams when theirs is out of commission for any reason.

"However we are unable to announce anything more at this stage."

Lola's owner Martin Birrane told Autosport last week that he believed the interested parties were serious in their efforts to move into F1 and that his company was confident it would be more successful than its last foray into the sport.

"We're entirely serious about this," he explained. "There's no way we want to embarrass ourselves.

"We're one of the few companies who can do the whole lot in terms of building a car for a new team and we'd be absolutely delighted to go ahead and do it. It's natural for a company of Lola's reputation to be in F1."

Birrane refused to reveal any details about the two parties but did say they were entirely new F1 outfits that had no links with current teams.

"One of the projects already has an engine deal agreed and although the other one hasn't yet, they are both serious."
 
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Prodrive factory decision this month

Prodrive should move a step closer to getting planning permission for their Formula One-spec factory in Warwickshire later this month with the matter tabled for discussion at a meeting on May 23.

Following the end of the public consultation on the plans for a state-of-the-art facility at the former airfield in Honiley, a Warwick District Council spokesman confirmed on Tuesday that it has now prepared all the paperwork it needs for the matter to be discussed by its Planning Committee.

It had been hoped that the application would be considered as early as this week but it has now been scheduled for the May 23rd sitting - although there is no guarantee that it will be discussed then if its agenda is already full.

If it is evaluated then, however, then there is likely to be an immediate answer on whether the council accepts or rejects the planning application.

A positive outcome will not automatically mean that Prodrive will be allowed to build the facility, however, because the matter still needs to be approved by John Prescott, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and Regions.

As the application is regarded as a 'departure from the development plan', because the factory is being built on green belt land, it automatically has to be approved by the government minister even if the local council support it.

Proscott's decision could take several weeks and, if he decides to call it in for further examination, then the matter may not be resolved for months.

Prodrive have already said that they will run their new F1 team out of their current Banbury factory until the Honiley site is up and running.

With Prodrive boss David Richards having told autosport.com recently that he was confident the application would be accepted, local politicians have also shown their support for the facility - which is known as 'Fulcrum'.

John Deegan, Warwickshire County Council's strategic director of environment and economy, told Kenilworth Today that he was overjoyed at Prodrive's successful application to enter F1 in 2008.

"I've been working closely with Prodrive for the past two years and the announcement that their Formula One team will be based here in Warwickshire is fantastic news for the county," he said.

"Warwickshire is demonstrating again and again the tremendous skills base available and is becoming a major player in motorsport engineering and research.

"The news also comes as the best possible tonic for the county after last week's announcement from PSA Peugeot Citroen that it plans to close the works at Ryton. Warwickshire County Council wishes Prodrive as many successes in Formula One as the company has enjoyed in rallying."
 
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Brawn's comments taken out of context

Comments made by Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn on the matter of flexing wings have been taken out of context and were not made in response to a letter sent by Honda to the FIA.

Following the San Marino Grand Prix, Honda Racing wrote the governing body claiming to have new evidence which could suggest Ferrari's rear wing is still flexing.

Subsequently, Auto Motor Und Sport quoted Brawn as saying Ferrari would retaliate with an official protest against their rivals should a similar protest be made against the Italian team.

"If somebody should protest against us, then we will immediately submit a counter-protest," Brawn was quoted as saying.

"We have videos of every car in the field where it can be proven that aerodynamic components become bent when driving. If video material is the yardstick, then all the cars are illegal."

However, a Ferrari spokesman has made it clear these statements were made long before the San Marino Grand Prix and therefore before Honda contacted the FIA.

Furthermore, Brawn was not referring to any specific team, including Honda.
 
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Berger not interested in Montoya

Toro Rosso's co-owner Gerhard Berger believes the Red Bull team should not be interested in signing Juan Pablo Montoya if the Colombian leaves McLaren.

Montoya, whose contract with McLaren ends at the end of the year, is yet to announce his plans for the future, but he has been linked with a move to the Red Bull Racing team.

But Berger believes that unless Red Bull can sign Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso or Kimi Raikkonen, the team should opt for five other drivers who are all younger than Montoya.

"If you cannot lay hands on a Michael Schumacher, Alonso or Raikkonen, then you must have some of the five young drivers of tomorrow, and Montoya is not among them in my opinion," said Berger.

"Those five, without order, are Kovalainen, Rosberg, Kubica, Speed and Liuzzi."

And although Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz has dropped hints that he would like to lure Schumacher away from Ferrari, Berger believes the move is unlikely to happen.

"I cannot foresee Didi (Mateschitz) to lure away Michael from Ferrari with money straight away," he added.

"Only when there is a situation that Michael would be no longer happy there or Raikkonen is coming over and Michael does not wish to drive with him or if Michael would like to jump on the new Newey era here, then Didi Mateschitz would start to think about making an offer for Schumacher.

"But the basic goals for both Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso must be to work with drivers out of our own pool."
 
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Brawn: Ferrari not given special treatment

Ferrari tech chief Ross Brawn has hit back at critics who maintain the team have been given special treatment by F1's rule-makers.

Defending Ferrari against suggestions that changes by governing body, the FIA, to technical regulation tend to favour the team, he said all competitors were consulted before any changes were made.

"The FIA don't make these rules up in isolation," Brawn said in an interview in this week's Autosport magazine. "They consult all the important players before they reach a decision and Ferrari is one of those teams that try to work with the FIA.

"I don't think we have any unjust influence or unfair influence over the regulations."

Several rival teams have privately suggested that the return this year to tyre changes during races was made specifically to favour Ferrari and Bridgestone, after the difficulties they experienced in 2005 with the 'one-race' tyre rule.

But Brawn said the 2005 tyre regulations proved Ferrari received no special treatment.

"The worst thing that could have happened to us at the end of 2004 was that the tyre rules changed," he said, "and we told the FIA behind closed doors that we didn't agree with those rules, but they were the rules and we had to work with them."

Brawn suggested rivals could learn from Ferrari's 'non-confrontational' approach to governing body the FIA.

He said: "The FIA are always willing to discuss the situation before they come to a decision. I've never found in any of the teams I've been in unwilling to discuss the situation if you approach them in a constructive and positive way. If you attack them they are going to defend themselves and that's human nature and that's the character of everybody.

"But if you go to them as an organisation and try to work with them to resolve the problems then it's a much more constructive situation.

"There are one or two teams in the pitlane who choose to take a very aggressive and negative approach to the FIA and of course perhaps their opinions are not held in such high esteem as those teams who try and solve the problems with he FIA."
 
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No 600 party for McLaren

Assuming one doesn't count the shambolic 2005 United States Grand Prix (and why would anyone?), this weekend's European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring represents the six-hundredth round of the FIA Formula One World Championship in which a car bearing the McLaren name has entered.

Since Monaco 1966, when New Zealander, Bruce McLaren, drove the Ford-powered M2B, subsequently retiring on the ninth lap with an oil leak, the team has gone on to win 148 Grands Prix, taking 122 pole positions and 128 fastest race laps along the way.

There is also the little matter of 11 drivers' Formula One World Championship titles and 8 constructors' titles, not to mention the company's phenomenal success in Indy Racing (winning the Indy 500 three times), Can-Am, F5000 and even Le Mans.

A team source has said that the team will not mark this weekend's milestone event, mainly because there is confusion as to whether Indianapolis 2005 counts, therefore making Imola the Woking outfit's 600th GP.

However, the same source also said that the team could well use the occasion of the forthcoming Monaco Grand Prix, the 40th Anniversary of that first appearance of a McLaren in an F1 Grand Prix, as the basis for a celebration.

One couldn't pick a better place than Monaco to party, and surely nobody would begrudge McLaren a special result in the principality later this month.

Ironically, the British Grand Prix, the race that follows Monaco, marks Renault's 200th F1 Grand Prix, while the French Grand Prix, is the 750th FIA Formula One Grand Prix, assuming that one doesn't count the 11 Indianapolis 500 races held between 1950 and 1960, which counted towards the world championship, but rarely featured F1 drivers.
 
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Japan to host two Grands Prix in 2007?

According to reports, there is a strong possibility that in the wake of (Toyota owned) Fuji International Speedway winning the rights to host the 2007 Japan Grand Prix, Suzuka, owned by Honda, could host the Pacific Grand Prix, giving Japan two rounds of the World Championship.

According to sources, Hiroshi Oshima, Operating Officer, Corporate Communications and Motor Sports, with Honda Motor Co. Ltd, has stated that Honda had applied to continue their association with the Japanese GP, but since Fuji now has the contract for the Japanese GP for October, a second race in Spring may be an option.

Japan has hosted two races in the past, having held the Pacific Grand Prix in 1994 and 1995. Therefore, it would appear that the plan is for Suzuka to host a race in the Spring, which would fit together with the Australian and Malaysian races to form an Asian leg of the championship.

If the race does go ahead next year, this would mean Suzuka hosting two Grands Prix in 6 months.

In addition to having three F1 teams - Honda, Toyota and Super Aguri - Japan currently has two drivers in the 2006 World Championship, though that could change in the coming weeks should Yuji Ide fail to improve.
 
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Honda boss backs critical Button

A boss of Honda's F1 team has refused to rebuke Jenson Button for being openly critical of the Brackley-based outfit after the recent Imola race.

Frustrated driver Button, 26, pointed the finger at Honda after yet another front row qualifying spot failed to net an equivalent result in the grand prix. He was also annoyed about being bopped on the head by his lollipop-man during a badly botched race pitstop.

''We don't want to hide from anything,'' sporting director Gil de Ferran told sport1.de. ''Success develops from honesty. I agree with Jenson.'' De Ferran, a former winner of the Indy 500 but never an F1 pilot, admitted to being 'disappointed' that Honda's winter form has not translated into a real title challenge in 2006.

But he defended Button, who is the target of constant speculation about whether he is good enough to ever win races. ''(Jenson) is an unbelievable driver,'' de Ferran insisted, ''who has everything he needs to be very successful. I'm a real fan.''
 
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Speed in Voodoo deal

It is understood that Toro Rosso driver Scott speed has signed an exclusive sponsorship deal with PC manufacturer Voodoo PC.

Announcing the deal, Voodoo PC president, Rahul Sood, said: "Scott is young, hungry to win and wants to prove himself as a leading race car driver. In many ways, he exemplifies the core characteristics and values of our company."

Sood also revealed that his company will be producing two Scott Speed special edition laptops in addition to a notebook.
 
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F1 venue tires of 'GP share' idea

The Nurburgring, scene of Sunday's European grand prix, is no longer willing to 'share' a single F1 race in Germany each year with Hockenheim.

Managing director Walter Kafitz, who is believed to have originally floated the idea to centralise German interest in Formula One, now says he intends to stick to his track's current contract.

'We have a contract until 2009,' he told Sport Bild, 'and so we want to annually organise our GP for a long time.'

However, he admitted that in the longer term, it might be 'difficult' to sustain two grands prix in one country.

Walter Kafitz told the German weekly sports magazine: 'But that is a topic for the future.'
 
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Coulthard defends F1's cigarette link

David Coulthard has played down the debate about whether cigarette advertising should be permitted in Formula One.

Despite a European ban, a few leading grand prix teams still carry tobacco branding, as the sport continues to push into less regulated regions of the world.

It's a contentious issue, with a looming ban now threatening the future of the Australian GP, while Honda and Renault also hunt for replacements for their exiting backers.

Ferrari, meanwhile, appear only to be strengthening the cigarette link, with reports that Marlboro may be prepared to foot a $70 million bill for 'dream team' pairing Michael Schumacher and Kimi Räikkönen next year.

Although now backed by an energy drink, 35-year-old Coulthard has promoted the Rothmans, Marlboro and West cigarette labels in Formula One for nearly 90 per cent of his career.

'It doesn't really bother me,' the Scot said at a go-kart event organised by Red Bull in Cardiff (Wales) this week.

Coulthard played down the effect F1 advertising has on the unhealthy habit by insisting that the effects of smoking cigarettes are 'well documented'.

He said: 'I think perhaps there's too much made about (the issue), because it's legal to sell cigarettes and it's legal to smoke them.'
 
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Stewart pleads to PM for GP cash

Former BRDC president Sir Jackie Stewart's parting gesture to the grand prix at Silverstone was a letter late last week to the British prime minister.

Writing to Tony Blair, the triple world champion, succeeded by 1996 title winner Damon Hill, accused the government of giving preferential funding treatment to other sports. ''We are still waiting for the delivery of the sports minister's famous promise in July 2003 that the government was going to 'put its money where its mouth is' for the development of Silverstone,''

Stewart wrote, according to The Times. 66-year-old Stewart, a Scot, warned that without government help, the historic British grand prix could be lost to a new host.

The newspaper also reported that the current board at the British Racing Drivers' Club survived a vote of no confidence last Friday, but that opposing members have 'left the club at an impasse'.
 
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Webber wants Williams to keep Cosworth

Mark Webber has urged Williams' team bosses to 'get the funding' in order to keep racing with engine supplier Cosworth.

Speculation suggests that a semi-works deal with Toyota/Lexus is the more likely option for 2007, particularly as Northampton-based Cosworth - although with a tidy V8 engine this year - is struggling to keep up with the spending pace of bigger carmaker-rivals.

''If we stay with Cosworth,'' Australian driver Webber told ITV, ''we need to find the big bucks to help (them).''

The 29-year-old, likely to stay at Frank Williams' squad next year although the spare Renault seat could be an option, indicated that yet another fundamental 'change' at the team may not be ideal. The Grove-based outfit moved from works BMW power in 2005 to Cosworth.

Webber said: ''I'd prefer to ... get the funding engine-wise to push us up there. If (Cosworth) had the budget of some of the other companies, then Christ, they would be doing very, very well.''

Cosworth is presently struggling to quickly cure a reliability issue, which could demote Webber and teammate Nico Rosberg down the Nurburgring grid through unscheduled engine changes.
 
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Ide apologies for Albers roll

Struggling rookie Yuji Ide has apologised for tipping Dutchman Christijan Albers into a frightening sequence of barrel-rolls at Imola more than a full week ago.

While some observers doubted that the slow-moving Japanese would re-appear for the subsequent Nurburgring race, his Super Aguri team confirmed on Tuesday that he will contest the European GP.

Albers, of the Midland 'MF1' team, magnanimously asked Ide's critics to give him a second chance following the Imola incident, albeit after accusing the 31-year-old of 'aggressive' racing. In a team preview, Ide suggested that he has already said sorry once. ''I would like to apologise again to Christian for what happened and I very much hope that he is ok. ''I am new to formula one and have had very little running in the car, so I have been trying to drive safely and to improve with every race.''

Notably, there are two additions to the Leafield-based Aguri camp at the Nurburgring -- some new bodywork, and a 'Friday' test driver, Franck Montagny.
 
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'Ring wants to keep its Race

The Nurburgring, scene of Sunday's European grand prix, is no longer willing to 'share' a single F1 race in Germany each year with Hockenheim.

Managing director Walter Kafitz, who is believed to have originally floated the idea to centralise German interest in formula one, now says he intends to stick to his track's current contract.

''We have a contract until 2009,'' he told Sport Bild, ''and so we want to annually organise our GP for a long time.''

However, he admitted that in the longer term, it might be 'difficult' to sustain two grands prix in one country.

Walter Kafitz told the German weekly sports magazine: ''But that is a topic for the future.''
 
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A serious look at F1

Sport Business has launched a new industry report into "The Business of Formula One".

The two-volume report is designed to be a guide to anyone who is interested in getting involved in the sport and looks at all aspects of the Grand Prix world.

The report explains the mechanics of investing in Formula 1, throws some light on the complex F1 community, interviews key people on the business side of F1, includes case studies of companies that have used F1 to their advantage and assesses the future of the sport.

The Sport Business Group specialises in providing information about the business related to sport, a sector which it believes is worthy of its own analysis, intelligence, trade media and B2B marketing services.

The report has been compiled by journalists Christian Sylt and Caroline Reid with assistance from the Formula One group.

For further information go to http://www.sportbusiness.com/reports/f1.adp
 
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Fair bit of news this week. Berger's comments are interesting and certainly true, why should Red Bull spend a huge sum on emplyoing Montoya? $15-20 million on a driver isn't going to make as much difference to a team's performance as spending the same cash on car development.
 
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Yeah - it's been busy. :D

I can certainly see Bergers point - they've already got Coulthard who has been very good on the whole car development front.

Montoya will want to be in a front running team - red bull aren't there yet. With Newey and possibly Cosworth they're heading in the right direction though.

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Personal request now...

My mate is finally recovered enough to be coming back from the US and wants to catch up on his 2 years of missed F1 - I've got the lot - apart from the 2005 USGP Qualifying *I think - it's the only one obviously missing*

If anyone has this that I can borrow for him - eternal thanks will be sent your way. :D

Simon/~Flibster
 
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