Saturday, June 30, 2007

Kubica on comeback

The BMW Sauber F1 Team had a trouble free Saturday at the French Grand Prix and were rewarded by Robert Kubica qualifying fourth and Nick Heidfeld seventh. This was Robert's best qualifying result in Formula One.

"It was good, a positive weekend and I am happy the car is working well," said Kubica. "I was happy about the balance of the car yesterday, and again today as we have improved it and this morning's lap times were very consistent. I think a better result than this wasn't possible, but I feel we are in good shape for the race, although I think Renault here are closer to us than we are to Ferrari. Overtaking here is very difficult and that was why it was very important to qualify in front. I think we have to make a good start and keep up our speed for the whole race." Nick Heidfeld commented, "The qualifying was okay, but not particularly good so I am not completely satisfied with my grid position. On my last outing in the first chicane the rear was very nervous and the car was oversteering. Nevertheless, the balance of the car today was better than on Friday. My lap times from this morning didn't reflect the true performance because I had too much traffic. My back didn't cause me any trouble at all. It was a painful muscle cramp and this was treated successfully last night. Obviously Ferrari is stronger than us and Renault has caught up. For tomorrow the weather forecast predicts rain and I would welcome a wet race. We haven't had one for quite a while and I like driving in the rain a lot. It could mix up the field and provide good entertainment for the spectators." Team boss Mario Theissen added, "On his return Robert had a great qualifying. Fourth on the grid gives him a very good starting point for the race. Nick also made it to the final qualifying session, but his final fast lap wasn't perfect. Even more important than his grid position is the fact Nick didn't have any back pain. Seventh means he is starting from the clean side of the grid, so this is also a good starting point for him. We didn't have any technical problems during the entire qualifying."

Very disappointing qualifying

Red Bull Racing endured a disappointing qualifying session at Magny Cours as Coulthard suffered a gearbox problem to finish sixteenth and Webber fared little better in fourteenth.

"I had a problem with my car on my out lap, which the guys are looking into now," said Coulthard. It's very disappointing as I think we were in reasonable shape this weekend. Everyone's working hard in the team to find the edge, that's the definition of Formula One, being right on the limit. Sometimes teams hook it up, as McLaren have this year, but they had reliability issues before now so I'm reluctant to be 'dummy in the dust' because I don't want to lose the attacking spirit that's in the team at the moment. Sixteenth isn't good, but that's what we have, so I'll do the best that I can from there." Webber commented, "The first qualifying session went pretty well, but in the second session I had a moment in the fast chicane on my first timed lap, so I aborted it. The second lap went okay, but it just wasn't quick enough. I just didn't seem to have the rear grip in the second session that I had in the first. We'll see how we go tomorrow." Team boss Christian Horner added, "Unfortunately, it was a very disappointing qualifying session for both drivers. David's looked competitive all weekend and it was unfortunate for him to have a suspected oil pressure related issue. For Mark, it didn't come together for him today, we need to work hard tonight and make sure we have a competitive race tomorrow."

Alonso still start from 10th

Fernando Alonso will not receive any grid penalty for tomorrow's French Grand Prix after the McLaren team confirmed he had suffered a gearbox problem and not an engine failure as it had initially been feared.

"Fernando appears to have had a gearbox failure on the first lap which was very disappointing," McLaren's F1 chief Martin Whitmarsh confirmed.Alonso will therefore start the French Grand Prix from tenth on the grid.

Massa beat 0.070s

Felipe Massa muscled his Ferrari into pole position for tomorrow's French Grand Prix, beating Lewis Hamilton by just 0.070s in a very close fought qualifying session at Magny Cours. Kimi Raikkonen qualified third ahead of Robert Kubica. Fernando Alonso's hopes were dashed by a suspected gearbox problem.

It was a warmer day at Magny Cours with air temperature at 24 degrees Centigrade and the track 43 degrees, a contrast with yesterday's very cool conditions. Lewis Hamilton put down an early marker in the first session, but Kimi Raikkonen was less than a tenth off with Massa and Alonso third and fourth - pole position looking like a four-way fight. While the McLarens and Ferraris cruised through the first session Liuzzi, Wurz, Sato, Davidson, Albers and Sutil were knocked out. In the second session Coulthard's Red Bull developed an electronics problem early on, putting him out of the action along with Ralf Schumacher, Button, Barrichello, Webber and Speed. Disaster struck Fernando Alonso in the pole position shoot out as the reigning champion pulled into the pits with a gearbox problem after just one lap putting him out of the session and dashing his hopes for the weekend. On track it was a scrap between Massa, Hamilton and Raikkonen for pole. Felipe Massa snatched pole from Hamilton by just 0.070s with Raikkonen third 0.150s further adrift. Kubica made an emphatic return in the BMW Sauber to take fourth ahead of Fisichella, Kovalainen, Heidfeld, Trulli and Rosberg. Alonso was officially classified tenth.
1. F. Massa Ferrari 1:15.034

2. L. Hamilton McLaren 1:15.104

3. K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:15.257

4. R. Kubica BMW 1:15.493

5. G. Fisichella Renault 1:15.674

6. H. Kovalainen Renault 1:15.826

7. N. Heidfeld BMW 1:15.900

8. J. Trulli Toyota 1:15.935

9. N. Rosberg Williams 1:16.328

10. F. Alonso McLaren no time

11. R. Schumacher Toyota 1:15.534

12. J. Button Honda 1:15.584

13. R. Barrichello Honda 1:15.761

14. M. Webber Red Bull 1:15.806

15. S. Speed STR 1:16.049

16. D. Coulthard Red Bull no time

17. V. Liuzzi STR 1:16.142

18. A. Wurz Williams 1:16.241

19. T. Sato Super Aguri 1:16.244

20. A. Davidson Super Aguri 1:16.366

21. C. Albers Spyker F1 1:17.826

22. A. Sutil Spyker F1 1:17.915

Hamilton put the top in final practice

Lewis Hamilton unpredictably put his McLaren top of final practice for the French Grand Prix after Ferrari had dominated the session. Hamilton's best of 1:14.843s was just under a tenth quicker than second-fastest Felipe Massa with Kimi Raikkonen in third. Fernando Alonso did not put in a flier until the very last moments and was eighth fastest.

Renault looked strong in front of its home crowd with fourth and fifth fastest via Heikki Kovalainen and Giancarlo Fisichella. Robert Kubica was solid in sixth for BMW Sauber just ahead of Nico Rosberg's Williams. Jarno Trulli and David Coulthard then rounded off the top ten behind Alonso. Nick Heidfeld was 15th in the second BMW Sauber after the driver complained of back pains yesterday. Mark Webber will also be disappointed with 20th fastest although the midfield appears as competitive as ever with just half a second separating seventh and 19th places.


1. L. Hamilton McLaren 1:14.843

2. F. Massa Ferrari 1:14.906

3. K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:15.276

4. H. Kovalainen Renault 1:15.404

5. G. Fisichella Renault 1:15.489

6. R. Kubica BMW 1:15.535

7. N. Rosberg Williams 1:15.735

8. F. Alonso McLaren 1:15.742

9. J. Trulli Toyota 1:15.801

10. D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:15.802

11. V. Liuzzi S T R 1:15.872

12. J. Button Honda 1:15.902

13. A. Davidson Super Aguri 1:15.925

14. R. Schumacher Toyota 1:15.944

15. N. Heidfeld BMW 1:16.060

16. R. Barrichello Honda 1:16.102

17. A. Wurz Williams 1:16.104

18. S. Speed S T R 1:16.161

19. T. Sato Super Aguri 1:16.221

20. M. Webber Red Bull 1:16.573

21. A. Sutil Spyker F1 1:17.517

22. C. Albers Spyker F1 1:17.705

Friday, June 29, 2007

Free Practice II

Ferrari dominated in practice again for the French Grand Prix in the second Friday session. This time it was Felipe Massa to take top spot with a time of 1:15.453s, just 0.035s faster than his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. Third fastest was surprisingly the Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso of Scott Speed whilst Lewis Hamilton put in a late fast time to end up fourth fastest.

McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso was eighth fastest as it seems that McLaren might have fallen behind Ferrari in pace again in preparation for this weekend's race. Vitantonio Liuzzi was fifth in the second Toro Rosso which suggests that the team might have made some improvements for this weekend. David Coutlhard was sixth fastest for the senior Red Bull outfit whilst Nico Rosberg was again a solid top ten contender in seventh. Anthony Davidson was an impressive ninth for Super Aguri whilst under-pressure Ralf Schumacher did well to round off the top ten in his Toyota.The session stayed dry despite the cloud cover threatening to make it wet. There were several off moments for the drivers as they pushed to find the limits ahead of tomorrow's qualifying. Davidson bizzarely clipped the back of Liuzzi on the entrance to the pits in the opening moments - 20 minutes before the Italian went off himself after mis-judging a bend. Mark Webber got homesick whilst approaching the Adelaide hairpin and stopped with a transmission problem. Then later on front-runners Massa and Alonso had off moments as they tried to find Magny Cours' limits.


1. F. Massa Ferrari 1:15.453

2. K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:15.488

3. S. Speed STR 1:15.773

4. L. Hamilton McLaren 1:15.780

5. V. Liuzzi STR 1:15.952

6. D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:15.958

7. N. Rosberg Williams 1:16.003

8. F. Alonso McLaren 1:16.049

9. A. Davidson Super Aguri 1:16.162

10. R. Schumacher Toyota 1:16.184

11. G. Fisichella Renault 1:16.205

12. R. Kubica BMW 1:16.236

13. A. Wurz Williams 1:16.260

14. J. Trulli Toyota 1:16.285

15. J. Button Honda 1:16.395

16. M. Webber Red Bull 1:16.562

17. H. Kovalainen Renault 1:16.735

18. R. Barrichello Honda 1:16.950

19. N. Heidfeld BMW 1:16.968

20. T. Sato Super Aguri 1:17.165

21. A. Sutil Spyker 1:18.213

22. C. Albers Spyker 1:18.708

Free Practice I

Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa were the fastest drivers out on track in Friday's first free practice session at Magny-Cours. The duo were fastest for most of the session. Lewis Hamilton ended sixth, but the Briton missed track time due to a problem with his car.

The Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend got underway at 10.00 in France for what is most likely the last French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours. Lewis Hamilton's session didn't go without any problems. The McLaren driver had to stop his car 25 minutes into the session. His car was returned to the pitbox and just over 30 minutes later he could continue his free practice session, but valuable time on track was lost. Robert Kubica was back on track after his horrible crash at the Canadian Grand Prix. He had to miss the US Grand Prix. On his return Kubica set the 9th fastest time.
1. K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:15.382

2. F. Massa Ferrari 1:15.447

3. F. Alonso McLaren 1:16.154

4. N. Rosberg Williams 1:16.214

5. D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:16.268

6. L. Hamilton McLaren 1:16.277

7. N. Heidfeld BMW 1:16.338

8. A. Wurz Williams 1:16.407

9. R. Kubica BMW 1:16.441

10. J. Trulli Toyota 1:16.603

11. V. Liuzzi STR 1:16.895

12. T. Sato Super Aguri 1:16.967

13. R. Barrichello Honda 1:16.990

14. J. Button Honda 1:17.047

15. S. Speed STR 1:17.103

16. A. Davidson Super Aguri 1:17.166

17. R. Schumacher Toyota 1:17.168

18. G. Fisichella Renault 1:17.226

19. H. Kovalainen Renault 1:17.348

20. M. Webber Red Bull 1:17.435

21. C. Albers Spyker 1:18.178

22. A. Sutil Spyker 1:18.419

The French GP Preview

Can McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton keep his world championship aspirations rolling with a third consecutive victory, in what may be the last French Grand Prix for at least a couple of years?Or will his team mate Fernando Alonso make good on his promise to start winning as the title campaign moves to the first of four tracks he claims as his favourite hunting grounds? Or will Ferrari get back on a par with McLaren as the series moves back to Europe?

There is no shortage of key questions as the championship approaches its mid-point and a spate of three races in four weeks.

Testing at Silverstone last week indicated that Ferrari and Toyota were fully on song, while McLaren described the test as ‘the most intensive’ of their season. Testing results are not always reflected at races, however, and it is likely that the fight in France will be between McLaren and Ferrari as usual, with BMW Sauber close at hand and Renault desperate to do well on their home turf.“The French round of the GP2 championship last year was not my best weekend,” Hamilton admits. “I had a coming together in the first race and therefore started race two in 19th. I did make my way up through the field to fifth to score some points, so it is possible to overtake here.

”Meanwhile, Alonso says: “I have always liked racing at this track, when you hear people talk about circuits that are technical, Magny-Cours is definitely one of them. It is important to have good speed in the slow corners as they tend to lead on to long straights. You have to have good mechanical set-up for the corners and the same with traction for the exits. My favourite sections of the track are the two high-speed chicanes at the back of the circuit. We go through them at speeds of up to 200 km/h, which is very fast for a chicane; very special to drive through and unique in Formula One.

”Over at Ferrari, Chairman Luca di Montezemolo has made subtle hints to Kimi Raikkonen that he expects him to be the man others fear, while Felipe Massa is his usual bubbly self. “I’m not sure what to expect at Magny-Cours, to be honest,” the Brazilian said, “but we will be pushing hard, if not for the win, then certainly to score good points again.”BMW Sauber and Renault are now fully engaged in battle for third place overall, and both will bring aerodynamic improvements to France. Renault believe they are making strong progress, and that they are now on a par with their immediate rival.Elsewhere, Honda signed off on some new mechanical and aero parts during their recent test in Jerez and hope for a ‘small improvement’ here. Toro Rosso will finally have the new seamless transmission already used by Red Bull Racing, and it showed well in last week’s test at Silverstone. “It is worth up to four-tenths of a second a lap, so we are very keen to see how it goes in qualifying,” Tonio Liuzzi says. And Spyker hope to have a significant aero revision ready for both cars.Magny-Cours has a very smooth surface and places a heavy premium on aerodynamic performance with its mix of very high-speed corners, fast chicanes and frequent sharp changes of direction. It also requires good brake performance and stability going into the chicane, and can be hard on tyres because the track temperature is often high. Bridgestone will be bringing its medium and soft compounds, and making the latter last each race stint will require a good chassis set-up. In general, the rear tyres take a beating accelerating out of the slower turns, while the fronts work hard during the directional changes.Overall, given the general similarity between Monaco and Magny-Cours - both are medium to high downforce tracks with some tight corners - it will be fascinating to see if McLaren have it all their own way this weekend, or whether Ferrari can fight back.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Massa warns !!!

Felipe Massa has had a busy time since Indianapolis, with a day's testing in Silverstone and then attending the celebrations at Maranello. "Driving Ascari's car and doing a great burn-out in it were the highlights of the festivities at Maranello last weekend to celebrate Ferrari's sixtieth anniversary," said Massa.
While the party was a celebration of a glorious past, the test at the English circuit was aimed squarely at ensuring more glories in the future. "At the Silverstone test, our car was very well balanced and we immediately found a good level of grip, along with a consistent performance," commented Felipe. "The car was really good there and I hope we will find the same at all tracks from now on. I am happy with the package we have got. I think we really improved the car and it was working well on new tyres, which was something we had found difficult to achieve in the last few races. I hope this progress is not just related to the Silverstone track." In terms of what to expect this weekend, the Brazilian did not want to base any predictions on the Scuderia's excellent record at the French circuit. "There is no point in saying Ferrari has won here a lot, Ferrari won here last year, because you could have said that about Indy two weeks ago. We must think of trying to win every race, no matter which circuit we are on. In the championship, we are not in a comfortable enough position to say, 'we will be alright here if we pick up this number of points.' No, we must think about winning and about always being ahead of our closest rivals. We can still do it, but we have to work hard to turn things around." Asked if he was surprised that so far, he is having a better season than his team-mate, the Ferrari man explained he felt things were closer than they seemed. "Last year I had a team-mate who was the most complete driver ever, who had won more than any other driver and at the end of the year, I was competitive with him after growing as a driver throughout the year," he said. "Now, we are two young drivers pretty much at the same level, both trying to be in front. I feel comfortable within the team and although I haven't always had the results I wanted in the races this year, in some of them I have had excellent results and I hope it continues like that. When you have two closely matched and competitive drivers in the same team, it is obvious that they want to be ahead of one another." Over in the McLaren camp, the battle between its two drivers is also close and Massa was asked if the chances of their two rivals fighting one another was good for the Scuderia. "I don't think we are going to see team-mates fighting and crashing, because you have to do the job for yourself but also for the team. So, the fact they are fighting one another will not affect us." And finally, with the gap to the championship leaders having grown over the past three races, was the mood at Ferrari still relaxed? "Even if you are leading the championship, the mood in the team is never relaxed, as you are always working to have a competitive car," reckoned Massa. "In the early part of the season we already knew it would not be easy to win the titles, so the mood in the team is the same as it was at the start of the season."

60% chance of rain

Welcome back to Magny-Cours in France for round eight of this year's Formula One season. Contrary to Tuesday's weather forecast, Sunday is now the most likely day to be wet, with thunder storms expected to grace the region, meaning a 60% chance of rain.The action will begin tommorrow morning wth heavy clouded skies. The rain, however, should escape the track, with a chance of only 20%. Temperatures will hit about 23°C, the coolest of the weekend. Saturday will feature much of the same weather, with cloudy skies and a 20% chance of rain. Temperatures will rise to 26°C, before dropping by a degree or two for Sunday.

Fernando Alonso says

Fernando Alonso says he never expected to be in such a competitive position in the championship in his first season with McLaren Mercedes. The Spaniard is in a determined mood this weekend at Magny Cours as he bids to cut the ten-point gap to team mate Lewis Hamilton.

"Well, I think that in a way it has been a surprise, a good surprise how quick the car was," Alonso said. "I moved teams, I left Renault last year and I was not so sure about what the McLarens would be like at the beginning of the season. I found a very good car straight away and I was able to win two races in the first seven races of the championship and I'm second in the Drivers' championship and leading the Constructors', so it has been a very very positive first half of the season but for sure, I would like to be first, leading both championships and for that, I need to be a little bit quicker than in the first seven races."

"I always enjoy driving here at Magny Cours, also because I have been driving for Renault here, which is a very important race for the Renault team and we are in France and I had a lot of fans, a lot of support here," he added. "This year will maybe be a little bit different because the grandstand will not be with McLaren so much as they were with Renault but as I said, I love the circuit and it should be a good weekend."

Raikkonen talks

Formula 1 drivers can be delicate people at times and many of them insist any air-conditioning is turned off before the start of the FIA press conferences in the Media Centre. On Thursday afternoon, as Kimi Raikkonen joined other drivers at Magny-Cours, it was a case of turning the heating on, as temperatures here are more winter like than summer.
The Ferrari driver began by giving his view on how last week's testing went: "In Silverstone, we had a useful test where the car felt good straight away, but testing is testing and now we are here for a race and of course, this is not Silverstone, but all the same, I have a positive feeling," commented the Finn. As for a general comment as the season approaches its mid-point, Raikkonen was not prepared to make any rash promises. "For sure, I did not expect to be in this position but it is up to us to try and improve and to start winning races again. I hope that now we are back in Europe, we see a change for the better. So, let's see tomorrow how things go once we have been out on track, but I hope we will be in a position to challenge our closest rivals. We are improving, but it is just taking a bit longer than I had expected." In recent races, Raikkonen has not always got off the line as cleanly as he would have liked. "I have just suffered from a lack of grip off the line," he admitted. "And also at the last race, I was on the harder tyre at the start. But we have made improvements to our clutch which I think will help." Could the cooler temperatures here affect tyre performance? "I don't know what the forecast is for the weekend," said Raikkonen. "But as we are all on the same tyres, it should not have a significant effect. But, if the weather is mixed on Sunday, then it should make for a very interesting race!" For the moment, this is supposed to be the last time Magny-Cours hosts a grand prix and Raikkonen had mixed feelings about this. "I have to say it is a nice track to drive and race on, but it is also true that there is nothing to do in this part of France. I guess a lot depends on whether we go somewhere better or not."

Brawn to be Ferrari boss

Ross Brawn will almost certainly take over from Jean Todtnext year as boss of Ferrari's formula one team. That is theinformation of the German newspaper Bild, which said the highlyrespected British engineer is sure to return to the Maranello basedteam from his one-year sabbatical in 2008 despite offers from rivaloutfits including Honda. The 52-year-old' s new post could also enticeMichael Schumacher into a more prominent position at Ferrari, withBild speculating that the retired seven time world champion is usinghis visits to races this year to learn the ropes before becoming a keystrategic expert. Schumacher, 38, is already scheduled to appear againat Magny Cours. Bild quoted Brawn as confirming that he will notreturn to Ferrari to be technical director next year, "but there couldbe new possibilities on the race team."

Kubica ready to France GP

Robert Kubica has been cleared to race in this weekend's French Grand Prix by FIA doctors. Kubica had to sit out the US Grand Prix after doctors would not allow him to get back in the cockpit after his high-speed shunt at the Canadian Grand Prix.

"I'm completely fit," Kubica told reporters at Magny Cours. "I'm looking forward to the race and glad I only had to miss one race."

Mansell to demo BMW

Britain's 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell will get back behind thewheel of a Formula 1 car at Silverstone next week.The 31-time grand prix winner will drive a BMW Sauber car on a100-metre asphalt track in the team's Pit Lane Park next Friday.BMW third driver Sebastian Vettel will then take over the car onSunday, giving fans attending the British GP the chance to see amodern day F1 car up close.The BMW park will be situated at the Becketts complex throughout theBritish GP weekend, with interactive features also on show.

Vettel for STR in '08?

Team co-owner Gerhard Berger on Thursday gave a big hint about thepossible appearance of Toro Rosso's driver lineup for 2008.The Austrian stalwart and former grand prix winner has often beencritical of STR's current racers Scott Speed and Vitantonio Liuzzi,but insists to that rumours of an early exit for the pairis not on the cards.Berger did, however, admit that signing at least one experienceddriver in the longer term would be "an advantage" for any team in itsearly stages."Sometimes we suffer because we have two young, inexperienced drivers," he said.Berger hinted: "But a rookie does not necessarily have to be so youngand inexperienced. "Champ Car's dominant Sebastien Bourdais, for instance, is stronglyrumoured to be heading for a Toro Rosso cockpit next year, and Bergeradmits long-standing links with the 28-year-old Frenchman's managerNicolas Todt."I have known Nicolas since he was a child when I drove under hisfather Jean (Todt) at Ferrari. That is apart from the fact that Ithink Nicolas does a very good job in this industry," he said.BMW's Sebastian Vettel - jointly contracted to STR's sister team RedBull - is also speculatively linked with a race seat for 2008, but theGerman teenager laughed off the rumour at Magny Cours."I know nothing about it and nobody has spoken to me about it," Vettelis quoted as saying by Sport-Informations- Dienst.

Kovalainen says

Renault rookie Heikki Kovalainen says he has stayed positive throughout his first seven F1 Grands Prix, despite a shakey start to the season. The 25-year-old Finn scored just three points in the first five races, but in Canada and USA took a further nine.

"I have never lost confidence, never let my head go down," Kovalainen told the BBC. "I have always believed things would come together for me and I was positive even in the difficult moments.""I always push to the limit, always attack and sometimes this year I've overstepped the mark," he added. "For me personally, nothing has changed. I came into F1 confident in my ability.""I am still improving every time I drive, learning and putting it into practice," he went on. "As we develop the car, that is showing in my race results."

Bernie goes to Vegas

Bernie Ecclestone may not show up at the French Grand Prix thisweekend. Our spies tell us that the Formula One boss is currently on avisit to Las Vegas. The obvious conclusion will be drawn from this,but then that may be the reason for the visit as Ecclestone negotiateswith Indianapolis.Whether there is a serious chance of a race in Las Vegas remains to beseen. The streets are not very likely but there might be possibilitieswith individual casino owners, notably Steve Wynn, who was hot on theidea of an F1 race in Vegas around 10 years ago. Wynn now has a muchlarger, private, property known as Wynn's Las Vegas and he could stagea race himself.The big question is whether he would pay the fees necessary andwhether the race could be timed to hit the major F1 TV markets

FIA plans for 2011

The FIA has come up with a number of proposals to shake up Formula 1's technical regulations from 2011. Biggest surprise is the introduction of electronically-controlled moveable wings.
The plans proposed by the FIA are designed to make the sport more road-relevant, environmentally friendly and obviously more cost-effective. At the same time the FIA hopes to improve overtaking. The proposals came out following a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris. The FIA published a framework document to get discussions started with the teams. The most radical aspects of the document concern the chassis regulations.

The proposals set by the FIA:

Engine efficiency

To limit engine power by imposing a maximum energy flow rate. However, there will be few restrictions on the engine cycle, which can include turbo-charging and energy recovery. It is believed that this will lead to a gain of at least 20% in thermal efficiency.


To allow moving aerodynamic devices, which will reduce drag by over 50% and allow a 40% reduction in the power required to maintain current speeds.

Energy recovery

Energy will be recovered during braking and returned to both front and rear axles when accelerating. The amount of energy returned on each straight will be limited in order to prevent top speeds exceeding the safety criteria for the circuits.


The total amount of fuel energy to be consumed during a race will be regulated, encouraging further overall efficiency. The CO2 emitted will be further reduced by the introduction of gasoline which is partly derived from sustainable, non-food bio sources but complies fully with pump fuel legislation.


Formula One cars currently find it very difficult to overtake because of the influence of the car in front. New aerodynamic rules will halve the downforce, and de-sensitise the car to the influence of the wake of the car ahead. It is also proposed to eliminate automatically the downforce deficit of the following car.

Toyota confident

Toyota Racing returns to Europe this weekend following its North American double-header, with the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours. After Jarno Trulli scored his best result of the season with sixth place at Indianapolis last time out, the team is in a confident mood. After the North American races, Jarno and Ralf Schumacher spent time testing the TF107 at Silverstone last week and both drivers set fast laps during a trouble-free three days. The Magny Cours circuit in central France, which has hosted the French Grand Prix since 1991, sees a return to more standard aerodynamic set-ups and the team will benefit from several aero updates to the car. Last year's race saw strong performances from both Ralf and Jarno, with Ralf recording fourth place while a brake problem denied Jarno a podium finish. That gives the team encouragement ahead of the 2007 French Grand Prix and it will push hard to record more points as the first half of the season draws to a close.
"We have some updates on the car in terms of the aerodynamic package because we are now returning to a track which requires our baseline package," said chassis chief Pascal Vasselon. "Ever since Monaco we have been using special aero packages - Monaco because it is of course high downforce but also Canada and Indianapolis, which are closer to a low downforce package. In France we will return to a package closer to that which we used in Barcelona, although we have since developed it and there will be new aero parts this weekend. At Indianapolis we were comparatively not as strong in low downforce, low grip conditions as we had been in Barcelona so we are looking forward with optimism to returning to the package which we have focused most of our effort on. Jarno drove a great race in Indianapolis to get sixth and that clearly demonstrates that the car has the potential to fight at the front. We expect to close the gap on the group ahead of us and we are hopeful of another strong points-scoring performance in France."

Prost: Hamilton good for F1

Former F1 champion Alain Prost believes having a driver such as Lewis Hamilton in Formula 1 is good for the image of the sport. But it is also good for his team-mate and double world champion Fernando Alonso as he will has to work harder to beat his team-mate.
"Most of all, I think it is good for the sport, good for the team and good for everyone - even Alonso," Prost told Reuters. "He will learn from this and be harder and faster in the future." Prost knows exactly how it feels when you have to fight your team-mate. Prost had to fight Ayrton Senna at McLaren. "You think you are the only son and then you find out that there is another one - and then you think that maybe they like him more than you. It is so different from past years. In the past, it has been about the racing or the technology, but this is about the human factor. It is all about the psychology. And, I must say, I know just how Alonso must be feeling. "Usually, in this situation, the drivers are of different generations, but these two are separated by only two or three years. And both are new in the team. That makes it more difficult for Alonso. He wanted to go to McLaren because it was like a dream for him - he expected to feel like a number one - but now he is there he is finding he is not the only one in the family. "When you have a young driver against one who has been winning, then the people, the media and everyone all support the new and young driver. That is how it is. I think it must be very difficult for him to motivate himself in this situation. Even if it is not true that the team favour Lewis in any way - and I am sure they do not - that does not stop Alonso having that feeling."

Renault aero change

F1 team Renault has tweaked the lineup of its aerodynamics department, as Pat Symonds announced that the "tide is turning" following a difficult start to the 2007 season.Renault won the world championships in 2005 and 2006 with Fernando Alonso at the wheel but this season with the R27 car fell behind the leading trio Ferrari, McLaren and even BMW-Sauber.Engineering veteran Symonds said this week, however, that Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen are now hot on BMW's heels, having pulled out of the midfield over the last few races."We take a lot of comfort from the fact that after a poor start to the year, we are pulling it back so rapidly," the Briton insisted.Coinciding with the positive trend, aerodynamics chief Dino Toso has been promoted to lead Renault's new CFD centre at Enstone, with former deputy technical director James Allison moving in to head the wind tunnel."We believe this is the right time to make the change to ensure that our work for 2008 progresses at full speed, while the team in the wind tunnel continues to push forward with development for the remainder of the 2007 season," technical director Bob Bell said.

Espionage the new rumour

A Ferrari spokesman insists that the case against British engineer Nigel Stepney will be proved.The specialist publication Auto Motor und Sport quotes Luca Colajanni as revealing that the Maranello based team has in its possession "compelling proof" of 48-year-old Stepney's illegal behaviour.It emerges, however, that the internal and police investigation may not be about sabotage, despite reports of a mysterious 'white powder' found in the fuel tank of Felipe Massa's car prior to Monaco as well as a major incident recently in the team's wind tunnel.In fact, the latest suggestion is that - following the widely reported case involving Toyota personnel - Ferrari suspects a new case of espionage, involving the selling of information and blueprints to rival teams.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ferrari to 'push' for better rules - boss

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has revealed that his team will"push hard" for better rules to be written for Formula One.The Italian, at Fiorano over the weekend for the celebration ofFerrari's 60th anniversary, hit out at current rules including thosegoverning the Safety Car and the design of modern F1 racers."No, I do not like the rules much, for various reasons," the Spanishnewspaper Marca quoted 59-year-old Montezemolo as saying.He added: "I think it is necessary that they be changed. I do not likethe rule for the Safety Car, which turned Montreal into a game ofroulette."And I don't like the fact that races are not fought properly becauseof aerodynamic considerations, where it is so difficult to overtake."I believe that Formula One, a great international success with newand enthusiastic locations, must quickly confront these subjects andFerrari will push hard to make it happen."Montezemolo did, however, spare some praise for F1's advances in thearea of safety, after Robert Kubica amazingly escaped an horror impactin Canada without injuring himself."It has been a long and difficult battle," he explained, "after thenumerous tragedies of the past, but we must never stop pushing foreven more advances."

Paul Ricard for Sale

Bernie Ecclestone is rumoured to have put his Paul Ricard High TechTest Track at Le Castellet, near Toulon, up for sale. Ecclestone hasowned the track since 1999, through a company called Excelis, which isrun by Philippe Gurdjian. Since then the circuit has been redevelopedinto one of the most advanced facilities in the world. The company hasalso upgraded the Le Castellet Aerodrome to take executive jets andthe Hotel du Castellet has been turned into a top-quality hotel andconference centre.The investment involved to achieve all this has been considerable andit seems that Ecclestone now wants to cash in, presumably hoping thata car manufacturer or a promotional company will buy the facility andmake a profit using it for testing, presentations and launches.There have often been rumours that the track might one day be able tohost the French GP once again but the poor road access and theproximity to the Mediterranean beaches, coupled with a lack ofsufficient hotels means this is unlikely. There are also no spectatorfacilities left.The facility boasts a top level karting facility and a skid pan, inaddition to one of the most advanced medical facilities to be found atany racing circuit.Paul Ricard hosted a total of 14 Grands Prix between 1971 and 1990when the race moved away to Magny-Cours.

Honda cut lap times with 'B' car

Honda's significantly revised RA107 is now nearly a full secondquicker than the single seater of its junior team Super Aguri,according to sources.While the majority of the F1 world ran at Silverstone last week, theJapanese squads tested alone and privately at Jerez in southwesternSpain, away from the glare of the media and rival outfits.Under wraps was the running of the unofficial 'B' car, boasting newwings and new front suspension, which is to debut at Magny Cours."With Super Aguri we can compare not only our lap times but also thedata so we can better understand our strengths and weaknesses," saidtechnical boss Shuhei Nakamoto.In its former guise, the RA107 was only a few tenths quicker thanSuper Aguri's SA07 - which is basically a modified version of lastyear's works Honda - at recent races.But according to sources after Honda's private Jerez test, that gaphas now extended to nearly a full second per lap."We expect to make a small step forward in performance at the nextrace," engineering director Jacky Eeckelaert confirmed.

F2007 now quicker - Felipe and Kimi

Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen are expecting their Ferrari to be more competitive at the weekend's French grand prix. The red-clad pair fellsignificantly behind the pace of their dominant McLaren challenger sover the past three races, but at the Silverstone test last Thursday Massa set easily the quickest time as he assessed a new aerodynamicpackage for Magny Cours and beyond."I am very happy after this test," the Brazilian revealed at Fiorano on the weekend for a celebration marking Ferrari's 60th anniversary.He added: "On the track I noticed some positive effects immediately,so I am optimistic for France."Massa told La Gazzetta dello Sport that the new package should helpFerrari to improve its pace especially in qualifying trim."Silverstone is a track that already suits our car but we also learned a lot of useful things about aspects that did not work so well in thepast races," he said.Massa's Finnish teammate Raikkonen agreed that the Silverstone- specF2007 seemed "much better", but warned: "We don't know yet whether itwill be enough to go past McLaren. We will have to wait and see, butfor sure the car seems much better."

Ferarri 'content' the Drivers

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has joined team boss Jean Todt in denying interest in signing McLaren's disgruntled Fernando Alonso."With all due respect to Alonso, we are content with our own drivers and intend to keep them," the Italian told the newspaper La Stampa.Montezemolo insisted that Felipe Massa alongside Kimi Raikkonen is "just as strong" as the McLaren lineup, despite Lewis Hamilton and Alonso's recent dominance at races."Our problem is our speed, not our drivers," he added.Montezemolo defended the underperforming Raikkonen amid rumours that Maranello officials are keen to replace him with reigning world champion Alonso, or tempt Michael Schumacher out of retirement.He said of the Finn: "Kimi is a fast driver. Michael said at the end of his career that the most dangerous opponents were Alonso and Raikkonen."Kimi will bring a lot of success for us -- at the very beginning, even Schumacher was questioned."

Stepney hits back

Ferrari's Nigel Stepney has broken his silence and declared that he is the victim of a "dirty tricks campaign" waged by the Italian team.Rumours this weekend suggested that the formula one veteran, currently the subject of a police and internal investigation for alleged illegal behaviour and possible sabotage of his own employer, had fled Italy and was holidaying somewhere in Asia.England's Sunday Times newspaper has now located him in the Philippines, with his fiancee Ash and their child."I'm on a planned holiday," he said."Why would anyone say I am not contactable? I booked the flights through the Ferrari travel office. They know where I am."Police raided his residence near Ferrari's Maranello base on Friday night, seizing several objects including a small container, which could be related to reports that a mysterious white powder was found in the fuel tank of Felipe Massa's F2007 in the days before the Monaco GP.Stepney, a Briton, was openly disappointed after being left behind in the technical reshuffle following the departure of Ross Brawn late last season.He was subsequently left in a factory-based role, despite previously occupying the high profile role as race and test technical manager.The 47-year-old said from the Philippines: "This is just part of a dirty tricks campaign. I have confidence I'll be cleared by the legal process that is now taking place."His Italian lawyer Luca Brezigher told La Gazzetta dello Sport that Stepney was being investigated for allegations including "aggravated damage" and "sporting fraud".But he said of Stepney, who earns more than (US) $1m per year: "I don't find it credible that a professional of his calibre could damage his own team."

No internal war

Fernando Alonso has contradicted reports that he has agreed not to talk about Lewis Hamilton to the press. McLaren boss Ron Dennis told the media at Indianapolis that the Mercedes-powered pair made the pact after their comments in recent weeks stirred rumours of a 'civil war'. Rookie championship leader Lewis Hamilton admitted to reporters at a Vodafone sponsor event in London on Friday: "It's just at the moment we both feel it's better that we speak about each other when we are both there, because (otherwise) he can read something in the papers where someone might have twisted what I said." But at a press conference in Madrid, Alonso contradicted both Hamilton and Dennis."I have always spoken about Lewis and I always will. What has been written is wrong," he said."There is no internal war. Everything happened because of (what was said in) Monaco, the FIA investigation,and when I said that I was not absolutely comfortable (in the team)."The 25-year-old Spaniard, at the construction site of the huge Mutua Madrilena tower, also denied speculation that he is already thinking about switching from McLaren to a rival team -- like Ferrari."I have every intention to fulfil my contract with McLaren because I want to have the best car in my hands, and at the moment the McLaren is the best."I do not have any intention to move."Alonso said he did not have any problem with Hamilton's defensive driving at the US grand prix last Sunday but reckons the 22-year-old rookie has also enjoyed some luck this year."In Monaco he touched the guard rails and the normal result is that you are out of the race," the Spaniard said."Also in Canada he made his pit stop just before the Safety Car. I have also had a lot of luck in the past and sooner or later his will end as well."

Changes at Renault

Renault F1 is restructuring its aerodynamic department as it expandsand prepares for a new computational fluid dynamics facility to bebuilt at Enstone. The team's chief aerodynamicist Dino Toso is to moveup to a new role, overseeing the CFD organisation and leading theaerodynamic design team, while the management of the team's windtunnel programmes is being passed on to Deputy Technical DirectorJames Allison.Allison's role will be a temporary one as the team will be recruitingsomeone for the position later in the year.Applications are expected to pour in.

Ferrari president turns heat up on Kimi

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has turned the heat up on Kimi Raikkonen, saying the Ice-Man has so far failed to achieve his potential with the Italian team, despite winning the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

"We're still waiting for the real Raikkonen, the one that everyone fears," Montezemolo was quoted as saying by the BBC. "Kimi's always been in the fight and now we're waiting for him to go back to being the one everyone fears.""Michael said Kimi and Fernando Alonso were his toughest rivals, and Alonso has said the same about Raikkonen and Schumacher," he added. "Clearly the two McLarens are very strong and we got distracted for a moment. I don't like this situation and we have to regain our competitiveness."

Ferrari has taken legal action

Ferrari has taken legal action against one of its long-serving senior staff, Nigel Stepney. The Italian squad filed a formal complaint earlier this week and Stepney is now under investigation by the public prosecution office in Modena, the nearest major town to Ferrari's factory in Maranello.The team has confirmed that it has launched court proceedings but hasrefused to divulge its grounds for doing so."Nigel Stepney is still an employee but we have brought an action against him," a Ferrari spokesman told Reuters."It is not related to any event; it is related to his behaviour."In the absence of any hard facts as to what Stepney is alleged to havedone, a variety of theories – conspiracy or otherwise – have surfacedin the Italian media. Sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport claims that at the centre of theprobe is an attempted sabotage. Citing a leak from the investigation, the paper says Ferrari has presented prosecutor Giuseppe Tibis with evidence that its cars were tampered with three days before the team left for Monte Carlo, when technicians discovered a suspicious white powder around the fuel vent.There is no suggestion that the team's performance in Monaco was compromised by the alleged interference because the cars werethoroughly checked before leaving Italy and the affected parts replaced.Else where there are suggestions that the complaint concerns industriale spionage. In April this year, two former Ferrari employees were convicted oftaking team secrets to Toyota and were given suspended prison sentences. It should be emphasised that no charges have been brought against Stepney at this stage and neither Ferrari nor the prosecutor has been prepared to disclose details of the investigation. Stepney has been unavailable for comment and is reported to be onholiday. A defence counsel has been appointed to represent him in his absence.The Englishman joined Ferrari from Benetton in 1992 and was part ofthe so-called 'dream team' that helped propel Michael Schumacher to his five successive world championships in 2000-04. He described himself as a 'glorified chief mechanic' and played a keyrole in coordinating the team's activities and ensuring its preparation and reliability were of a high standard. But tensions between him and Ferrari's senior management became public earlier this year when Stepney voiced his displeasure with the technical reshuffle that followed Ross Brawn's departure, which consigned him to a factory-based role.He let it be known that he was open to offers from other teams and has recently been linked with a possible move to Honda.

Montezemolo Eager For 'Real Kimi' To Return

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has admitted the Italian squad is anxious for its star recruit Kimi Raikkonen to rediscover the form that struck ‘fear’ into his rivals while at McLaren. Finnish ace Raikkonen was identified by Ferrari as the ideal candidate to be the team’s long-term replacement for its most successful driver Michael Schumacher, and showed its faith in him with what is rumoured to be the largest salary in Formula 1. However, since convincingly winning on his debut for the Scuderia in Australia, Raikkonen has seen his championship challenge slip away after a series of curiously muted and lacklustre performances. Di Montezemolo admits Ferrari has yet to see the type of form on which the 27-year-old built his reputation at McLaren – although he is certain Raikkonen will turn things around. “We are waiting for the real Raikkonen, the one that everyone fears,” he told Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.“Michael has said that Kimi and Fernando [Alonso] were his toughest rivals and Alonso has said the same about Raikkonen and Schumacher. “Kimi has always been in the fight and now we are waiting for him to go back to being the one that everyone fears – and we are convinced that he will do it.”Raikkonen’s quest to return to race-winning form hasn’t been helped by Ferrari’s pace in the last three grands prix, where it has been unable to challenge McLaren in either qualifying or the race.After winning three of the season’s opening four races, the Italian squad left North America 35 points behind its British rival and with both Raikkonen and team-mate Felipe Massa’s title hopes looking increasingly bleak. It is a sequence of results that di Montezemolo has not enjoyed and he says Ferrari must redouble its efforts to close the gap.“Clearly the two McLaren drivers are formidable,” he said.“We got distracted for a moment and I don’t like this situation.“We have to regain our competitiveness.“We have all the means to fight back and we must work out how to recover the two or three tenths [of a second] that separate us from McLaren.”

Friday, June 22, 2007

Massa pushed Toyota off the top

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa pushed Toyota off the top spot during the third and final day of testing at Silverstone on Thursday. Massa clocked a quickest lap of 1m20.805s around the British circuit, finishing over four-tenths faster than the second-placed Williams of Nico Rosberg.

Aside from a slight shower at midday, conditions were dry and sunny and Massa was able to cover a total of 87 laps. The Brazilian experimented with a variety of new aerodynamic and mechanical solutions, as Ferrari attempt to glean more pace from the F2007. The team return to Italy this week and will shakedown the two cars they plan to use at the French Grand Prix on June 27 at Fiorano, with tester Luca Badoer behind the wheel.

Rosberg, meanwhile, was charged with picking up where Williams team mate Alexander Wurz had left off on Wednesday. The young German continued to evaluate the FW29’s aero updates and completed 98 laps. Rosberg will now head to Iceland for a promotional event.

Third fastest on Thursday was McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who took over driving duties from tester Pedro de la Rosa. Alonso continued to focus on aero updates, but also carried out some tyre work and general set-up adjustments. He covered 58 laps, even though an oil system problem caused a slight delay.

Renault tester Nelson Piquet Jr finished up fourth after a busy day. Piquet was the most productive man on track and was the only driver to complete more than 100 laps. He initially worked on finding a good balance in the R27 before conducting a series of tyre tests.

“I was really pleased to be driving today, because I really enjoy this circuit and I have always felt good here,” he explained. “I hadn't driven since the last test in Paul Ricard, and was excited about this week, and the car was handling well - better than I expected to be honest. We made good progress with our programme, and collected interesting data which confirms Heikki's (Kovalainen) work earlier in the week. That's a positive sign.

”Wednesday pacesetter, Toyota's Jarno Trulli, settled for fifth slot on Thursday. Trulli covered 70 laps in the TF107, as he conducted tyre comparisons, system evaluations and suspension tests. The Italian was just over two-tenths quicker than David Coulthard, sixth for Red Bull. The Scot assessed the team’s new aero package and some suspension changes.

In seventh was BMW Sauber tester Timo Glock, who wrapped up the German-Swiss team’s programme over 71 laps. Glock tested tyres, suspension parts and some aero changes. Over half a second down on the German was Toro Rosso’s Scott Speed, who finished eighth. Speed covered 65 laps, despite a failure in his STR2's power train.

“We did our homework on various solutions; some paid off and some didn't,” explained Toro Rosso technical director, Giorgio Ascanelli. “Until this afternoon, general reliability seems good, as we managed to put the equivalent of three race distances on the same quick-shift gearbox. And in performance terms, it seems better too. So to sum up, these three days have allowed us to sign off new steering and suspension components and the quick shift box for the French Grand Prix.

”At the back of the field were the Spyker drivers Christijan Albers and Giedo van der Garde, ninth and tenth respectively. Albers covered 35 laps in the morning, working on brakes, before an electrical problem halted his running. Tester Van der Garde took over the car in the afternoon but span into the gravel on his first run. The team quickly fixed the damaged front suspension and sent Albers back out for few more laps.With next weekend’s French Grand Prix looming, most teams will now return to their respective factories to continue preparations.

Unofficial Thursday times from Silverstone:

1. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:20.805

2. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:21.274

3. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:21.284

4. Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault, 1:21.357

5. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:21.703

6. David Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:21.933

7. Timo Glock, BMW Sauber, 1:22.456

8. Scott Speed, Toro Rosso, 1:23.049

9. Christijan Albers, Spyker, 1:23.374

10. Giedo van der Garde, Spyker, 1:25.865

Ferrari's Stepney faces criminal enquiry

Nigel Stepney, Ferrari engineer The Modena district attorney in Italy has opened criminal investigation against Ferrari stalwart Nigel Stepney, after the Maranello outfit filed a formal complaint earlier this week. The team would not divulge the nature of their complaint or what Stepney is accused of, but a team spokesman has confirmed to that the Briton is at the centre of investigation. "Ferrari have taken action against Nigel Stepney, and there is now an investigation," the spokesman said, adding that Stepney is still an employee of Ferrari.Ferrari refused to offer any additional information, saying they will refrain from making any comment on the matter while the investigation is ongoing. Stepney himself is currently on holiday, and all attempts to reach him for comment over the last few days have failed. understands the Modena district attorney has launched a criminal investigation after receiving Ferrari's complaint with accompanying documents. A public defence lawyer has been appointed to represent Stepney in the investigation in his absence. Just a few months ago, two former Ferrari employees were found guilty of taking team secrets to Toyota.Stepney is responsible for team performance development at Ferrari, having been the Scuderia's race and test technical manager until earlier this year. The Briton, who joined Ferrari a decade ago from Benetton, was moved to his new position after claiming he was unhappy at the technical department following Ross Brawn's departure.Stepney had hoped to be able to take a sabbatical this year, but that request was declined by the team who instead gave him a new factory-based role. Speaking to Autosport magazine earlier this year, he said: "I am looking at spending a year away from Ferrari."I'm not currently happy with the situation within the team - I really want to move forward with my career and that's something that's not happening right now. "Ideally, I'd like to move into a new environment here at Ferrari - but if an opportunity arose with another team, I would definitely consider it."Stepney has been widely linked with a possible move to Honda.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ferrari new hopes

Kimi Raikkonen ran at the Silverstone test on Wednesday, declaring that "a lot depends" on the success of a new aerodynamic package for Ferrari's F2007 single seater.Reports emerging from Germany, meanwhile, suggest that the famous team's mid-season slump could be linked with a major problem in the sole Maranello wind tunnel.It is reported that the facility's rolling road broke at full speed just prior to the Spanish grand prix, causing significant damage.Perhaps not coincidentally, the F2007 failed to win any of the three races subsequent to Barcelona.It is not known if the tunnel is back up and running at full capacity even now, but Finn Raikkonen refused to admit that the season is a write off.He said at Silverstone, where sporadic rain spoiled afternoon proceedings for the nine teams in attendance: "We have a new aerodynamic package and some other things (here)."One thing is for sure: we really need better results at the upcoming two GPs than we got in North America," Raikkonen, 27, added.

Alonso-Hamilton relationship

Fernando Alonso has joined his teammate Lewis Hamilton in rubbishing reports that they do not get along. Experts have described the tension inside the McLaren camp at the moment as akin to the ferocious relationship shared by Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in the 80s. But world champion Alonso, who shook his fist and swerved at the pitwall after failing to pass Hamilton at Indianapolis last Sunday, said there is a difference between on and off-track rivalry."On the track you can have your run-ins," he is quoted as saying by the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, "but this is normal. Our relationship is good."Rookie and championship leader Hamilton revealed recently that, in the McLaren motor home, he often plays computer games with Alonso."Off the track, we laugh, we joke," the 25-year-old Spaniard confirmed.Alonso added: "Clearly I was not overjoyed (at Indianapolis) because I believed that I was faster and I wanted to win. So it did not leave a good taste in my mouth."

Spaniard speaks on Radio

Fernando Alonso may already have broken a new 'vow of silence' imposed on McLaren drivers at Indianapolis by Ron Dennis.The Mercedes-powered team's chairman and principal, concerned about the handling of Alonso and rookie teammate Lewis Hamilton's recent musings about each other to the press, informed reporters on the scene of the US grand prix that the pair have agreed to not talk about one another any more."They will only talk about each other in each other's presence," Dennis revealed at Indy, "because then there is no misconception or no misunderstanding. "World champion Alonso, however, went on Spanish radio shortly after the US grand prix - in which he finished behind Hamilton for the second time in the space of seven days - claiming that it is he who does the bulk of the car setup work for his team."Hamilton gets my data," the Spaniard told Cadena SER, "but I also get his data. But the one that gets the car ready on a Friday is me."

Murray can't hear N-E-E-E-O-W

MOTOR racing legend Murray Walker has gone deaf from the roar of Formula 1 engines.

The commentator never wore ear protectors because he thought he would look like a wimp — even though noise in the Grand Prix pits reached 120 decibels. Now Walker , 83, has powerful digital hearing aids in BOTH ears. The man dubbed ‘The voice of motor racing’ said: “Everyone is aware of health and safety now — but in my time no one bothered.

“I was often in the pit-lane, near the cars, where the noise was indescribable and I’ve no doubt that is why my hearing was affected.

“But if I’d turned up wearing protectors I would have been considered a wimp. Anyway, I loved the noise.”

Hearing can be damaged by regular exposure to just 85 decibels, revealed the UK Noise Association. Murray, who covered hundreds of GP races in a glittering 50-year career, is now trying to persuade people to protect their hearing. He is fronting the David Ormerod Centres’ Hearing Clearer campaign, saying: “I do regret I didn’t look after my own ears. I was recently at a race where there was a young mechanic bent down by the engine.

“The noise was terrible. I shouted, ‘For God’s sake, put in some ear-plugs’. He looked at me and shrugged.

“I’ve learnt from the error of my ways and always wear ear-plugs now.

“Hearing deteriorates as people get older but mine is abnormally bad.

“The digital hearing aids have made everything sharper and clearer now.”

Murray, who lives in the New Forest , quit UK TV six years ago but plans a comeback on Radio 5 for the German GP next month.

Fittipaldi to Flavio

Fittipaldi to Flavio - 'give Piquet his debut'

Former world champion Emerson Fittipaldi says Renault boss Flavio Briatore "likes the idea" of giving Brazilian rookie Nelson Piquet Jr his grand prix debut this year.We reported last week that 60-year-old Fittipaldi, who won two drivers' titles in the 70s, thinks the team's young test driver is"ready" to arrive on the grid.Fittipaldi, the Brazilian veteran, knows country man Piquet Jr well after running the 21-year-old - who is the son of the triple world champion of the same name - in his A1 GP team.Piquet senior, meanwhile - a close friend of Fittipaldi's - was aguest of the Renault team at Indianapolis last weekend.Reuters quoted Fittipaldi as saying this week: "I talked to Flavio Briatore in Canada. I said 'Flavio, you want to put Nelsinho inimmediately' ."He likes the idea but he said 'but I want my cars to be stronger forNelson to be a competitor'."If I were Flavio I'd put him in this year," Fittipaldi added.

Schumi Vs Hamilton

Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton could go head to head in a charity 'Race of Champions' at Wembley Stadium in December, event organisers said on Wednesday.
Retired seven times Formula One champion Schumacher has confirmed his participation while organisers said Hamilton, the 22-year-old rookie leading the standings for McLaren, had expressed an interest.
"It could be a unique occasion, the only occasion to see him compete against Michael Schumacher," said Fredrik Johnsson, founder of the event which brings together champions and leading drivers from across the world of motorsport.
The Race of Champions, previously held at the Stade de France in Paris, will have a rally-style format with knockout heats on a two-lane asphalt track inside the new Wembley Stadium.
"I hope that my participation can help the event organisers raise even more funds and awareness for the Institute for Cerebral and Medullary Disorders," Schumacher said in a statement.

75G on Kubica's Crashes

Robert Kubica crashes his BMW Sauber in the Canadian GPData from the Robert Kubica's horrific accident during the Canadian Grand Prix hasbeen disclosed, showing the Pole survived a 75-G impact.

Kubica made contact with Toyota's Jarno Trulli when trying to pass the Italian, the BMW Sauber driver losing his front wing and going off track.

Data showed the Pole impacted against the wall at 230 km/h, and the G-forces on Kubica peaked at around 75 G in a millisecond.

The onboard accident data recorder (ADR) is built in the BMW Sauber car, placed behind the driver below the fuel tank. The device, roughly15 by 15 centimetres big, is capable of logging data from the wholerace.

The data was studied at Indianapolis by former Lotus engineer PeterWright, now head of the FIA safety commission, together with hiscolleagues Andy Mellor and Hubert Gramling.

A report by them came to the conclusion that all the safety measures­- survival cell, enhanced crash boxes, HANS device, cockpit head restand helmet -­ worked perfectly.

"While we were completely shocked about the violence of the accident,we were over the moon to see Robert relatively unharmed and were verycontent about the behaviour of the chassis as survival cell," said BMWSauber's technical director Willy Rampf.

"We are never doing any compromises regarding the chassis, never goingnearly to the limit regarding weight for instance. We stay always onthe safe side and that payed off.

"One must not forget that such a cell is quite complex, consisting ofover 1,000 parts of carbon fibre, Kevlar, honeycomb structures andmetal."

Alonso denies angry swerve

Spaniard was cooling his car

Alonso on Sunday denied race commentators' claims that he swerved at the pit wall during the US grand prix to 'send a message' to his McLaren chiefs.Some TV angles suggested that the Spaniard also shook his fist, a lap after failing to make an attempt to pass his teammate Lewis Hamilton stick for the lead of the race at Indianapolis. But in the post-race press conference, 25-year-old Alonso said he was just trying to cool his car."I followed (Lewis for) so many laps that my overalls were black from the carbon brakes."I think my brakes and all of my car was hotter than normal, so I tried to pull away from the slipstream sometimes just to cool the car."

Latest silly season rumour

Klien to Toyota, Honda keep pair

Honda and its drivers have decided to field an unchanged lineup for the 2008 season, according to emerging reports.

The Austrian daily newspaper 'Osterreich' claims that Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello are staying put at least for another year, despite failing to score a single point so far with the uncompetitive RA107 car.Barrichello' s extended stay for 2008 involves a new contract, while Button penned a long term deal two years ago.'Osterreich' says the news is bad for Christian Klien, who had been hoping to use his test berth this year to spring back onto the grid, especially amid rumours that Barrichello might retire.But it is being suggested that former Jaguar and Red Bull racer Klien, who is 24, could be in talks with Toyota about 2008, with F1's other Japanese squad unlikely to renew Ralf Schumacher's expiring contract.Klien's current deal only covers the 2007 season.His manager-father Johannes Klien is also understood to have explored the options at Honda-powered Super Aguri, but sources report that both Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson are likely to stay.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Trulli fastest in day two

Toyota driver Jarno Trulli was the fastest man out at the Silverstone circuit on Wednesday. The Italian was just ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Williams driver Alexander Wurz.
Wednesday was the second day of testing at Silverstone. Nine Formula 1 teams came to the British track for a three-day test session. The track had remained dry for most of the day until a heavy shower midway through the afternoon. "In general it was a positive day even though it's difficult to judge comparative performance because it's always very windy here," said fastest man Trulli. "The morning went pretty well for us testing set-up and tyres and I felt pretty comfortable with the car. Then we change the suspension settings so we lost some time around the lunch break. After the rain in the afternoon we only had about a half an hour more of meaningful work." It was a difficult day for Red Bull Racing driver Mark Webber. The Australian caused a couple of red flags thanks to problems with his car.

Testing will continue on Thursday.


1. J. Trulli Toyota 01:21.420 -48laps

2. K. Räikkönen Ferrari 01:21.548 -62laps

3. A. Wurz Williams 01:21.904 -64laps

4. P. de la Rosa McLaren 01:22.018 -58laps

5. H. Kovalainen Renault 01:22.119 -53laps

6. V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso 01:22.365 -52laps

7. M. Webber Red Bull 01:22.447 -33laps

8. T. Glock BMW 01:22.481 -84laps

9. A. Sutil Spyker F1 01:23.284 -72laps