Friday, September 7, 2007

Mixed day for The Prancing Horse

The Prancing Horse had something of a mixed first day of practice at Monza today setting the pace in the first session and finishing sixth and eighth in the second.

The first session went well, but in the second one I lost a lot of time with a hydraulic problem and I only managed to do one run of laps on new tyres in the final moments," said Raikkonen. "We therefore don't have much of a reference point on where we actually are, on top of the fact that as usual there are the unknown factors linked to the fuel loads and tyres used by the other teams during the practice. The balance of the car is not bad, but we definitely have work to do to improve the performance, especially for qualifying, where our rivals are particularly competitive. But our race pace should be good. Monza is Ferrari's home race and I will be doing my best to give the team and all its fans something to be happy about."

Felipe Massa commented, "We tackled the two free practice sessions in a different way, working mainly on race pace in the afternoon. We still have work to do on the car set-up to find the best balance on the single lap, while over a long run I would say that we are in reasonably good shape. Today, the track was a bit dirty but definitely in better condition than it was at last week's test."

Technical director Luca Baldisserri added, "There were two sides to today. This morning, everything went according to the set plan, but in the afternoon we had a hydraulic problem on Kimi's car which took some time to sort out. Now we have to establish what caused it. Luckily, we also have available to us the data from last week's test at this track. Felipe struggled a bit to find the right balance on the car on the first lap but his long run pace was quite good. To sum up, we are certainly not in for an easy weekend, but we have the potential to do well."

Rosberg shows strong pace for Williams

The Williams team benefited from a constructive free practice at Monza today as the paddock enjoyed less pressurised Friday conditions having already spent time testing here last week. The two sessions proved relatively textbook for the team and saw the drivers carry out fine tuning work on their FW29s in advance of Sunday's race. Despite a nine minute halt in proceedings in session two, the pair covered over 650kms of the Autodromo, with Nico ending the day in P5 and Alex in P10.

"Today we went through two or three things that I really wanted to try here last week which we couldn't do due to the bad weather," said Rosberg. "I'm pleased we did them because we gained some helpful results. Monza has proved to be a very interesting track for the tyres. We haven't made a decision yet on which direction we'll take and will spend time going over that tonight. Generally, I'm quite pleased with how the sessions went.

"Alex Wurz commented, "Practice went ok. We changed a couple of things in the first session and went for a long run at the end which was very interesting. There's more to come from the balance of my car so I'm working on that tonight. Surprisingly, we actually found that today's conditions were relatively the same as those at last week's test, which is good because it means we can use some of the useful data we have collected already.

"Technical director Sam Michael added, "We've had a productive day at Monza. We completed a lot of the normal Friday systems checks such as brakes and cooling at the test last week so today was about set-up changes and tyres. The Bridgestone Potenza tyres both look strong. We didn't have any reliability issues during the day."

Trouble free start for Kubica and Heidfeld

It was a trouble free first practice day in Monza for both BMW Sauber F1 Team drivers, Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld. While it is only a week since the team was testing at this track, which is the home of the Italian Grand Prix, conditions seem to have changed so analysing the data will be very important.

Robert Kubica covered many laps to gather a lot of data for his team. He said about today's job: "We were testing here last week, so we know a bit about the car's balance and other things, and that was why we didn't run a lot in first practice. However, it looks like the condition of the track is pretty different, and the braking stability, especially, is worse than it was in testing. In the second free practice we did many long runs, comparing the tyres, and these were looking quite good. I think we have quite a lot of data to look at and analyse."

Nick Heidfeld was optimistic after the first day in the Italian Grand Prix weekend: "I think in general our configuration is good. Both sessions were trouble free. However, my lap times on the long runs are less consistent than I would like. The balance of the car changes, with it being better during the test, so we now have to analyse the data. But I still hope we can come close to Ferrari."

Dear Mr De La Rosa

The FIA has announced that there was a letter sent to McLaren's drivers Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and test driver Pedro de la Rosa. In the letter FIA President Max Mosley is requesting them to inform the FIA if they have withheld any information regarding the spy saga.

The letter Max Mosley sent read;

Dear Mr De La Rosa, As you will be aware, the FIA has recently investigated whether, how and to what extent McLaren was in possession of confidential Ferrari technical information. The FIA has subsequently been made aware of an allegation that one or more McLaren drivers may be in possession, or that such drivers have recently been in possession, of written evidence relevant to this investigation. In the interests of the sport and the Championship it is important that the FIA as the regulator establishes unequivocally and rapidly whether or not this allegation has any basis in fact. The FIA therefore formally requests that you produce copies of any relevant documents which may be in your possession or power of procurement and which may be relevant to this case. For these purposes "documents" includes all written materials such as emails, letters, electronic communications, text messages, notes, memoranda, drawings, diagrams, data,. or other material, stored in any physical, "hard copy" or electronic form. In particular (though without limiting the generality of this request), the FIA wishes to receive copies of any electronic communications (howsoever conveyed or stored) which may be relevant to this case and which make reference to Ferrari, Nigel Stepney or any technical or other information coming from or connected with either Ferrari or Mr Stepney. In the event that you are aware of the existence or previous existence of any document falling within the above description but are not in a position to produce it, please describe the content of the document in question, the circumstances under which it came to your knowledge and the reasons why you are unable to produce it. In the event that you are unsure as to whether any document falls within the above description, kindly submit it (or a description of it) and the FIA will assist in making a determination. You will appreciate that there is a duty on all competitors and Super Licence holders to ensure the fairness and legitimacy of the Formula One World Championship. It is therefore imperative that if you do have any such information, you make it available to us without delay. I can confirm, given the importance of this issue, that any information you may make available in response to this letter will not result in any proceedings against you under the International Sporting Code or the Formula One regulations. However, in the event that it later comes to light that you have withheld any potentially relevant information, serious consequences could follow.

Monza 2nd Free Practice

While Ferrari dominated the first free practice session it was McLaren that were clearly fastest in Friday's second free practice session at the Autoromo Nazionali Monza. Fernando Alonso was over half a second faster than anyone else on track. Giancarlo Fisichella was well underway as the Italian set the third fastest time.

Lewis HamiltonThe second 90-minute free practice session this afternoon was without any major problems. McLaren driver Fernando Alonso was topping the time sheets for most of the day. Hamilton was second for most of the session. Ferrari drivers Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen were well underway in the first free practice session, but in the second session they were found outside the top five. Anthony Davidson was the only driver with a problem. The Briton could only complete six laps as he had to stop his car at the side of the track, causing red flags. The red flags were shown so marshals were able to remove Davidson's Super Aguri car.
Result :
1. F. Alonso McLaren 1:22.386
2. L. Hamilton McLaren 1:23.209
3. G. Fisichella Renault 1:23.584
4. R. Kubica BMW 1:23.599
5. N. Rosberg Williams 1:23.679
6. F. Massa Ferrari 1:23.722
7. N. Heidfeld BMW 1:23.821
8. K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:23.833
9. H. Kovalainen Renault 1:23.848
10. A. Wurzi Williams 1:23.881
11. J. Trulli Toyota 1:23.919
12. R. Schumacher Toyota 1:23.922
13. J. Button Honda 1:24.137
14. M. Webber Red Bull 1:24.328
15. R. Barrichello Honda 1:24.462
16. D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:24.605
17. T. Sato Super Aguri 1:25.328
18. S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:25.459
19. A. Sutil Spyker F1 1:25.531
20. V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:25.567
21. S. Yamamoto Spyker F1 1:25.863
22. A. Davidson Super Aguri 1:26.021

Monza 1st Free Practice

The Ferrari team dominated the first free practice session at the team's home Grand Prix at Monza this morning. Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa were the fastest drivers at the end of the session, just ahead of championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

The Italian Grand Prix weekend went underway this morning at 10.00am at Monza. Temperatures went already up to 23 degrees Celsius. After half an hour of free practice it was Italian Jarno Trulli topping the time sheets. It wasn't until the 40th minute when Ferrari and McLaren let their drivers go on track. It was a difficult start of the weekend for Alonso. In his installation lap the Spaniard suffered from an technical problem and slowly drove back to the pitlane. Twenty minutes before the end of the session Fernando Alonso went out again but was unable to complete a clean lap during his first flying lap. He missed the chicane and spun in the Ascari chicane. At the same time Lewis Hamilton spun his McLaren around in the first chicane. At Williams and Super Aguri the drivers complained about a nervous rear of the car. Both Rosberg and Sato missed the chicanes this morning a couple of times and will have to work on the stability of their Williams and Super Aguri car. At Spyker the drivers enjoyed the team's official Grand Prix debut with the new car. Adrian Sutil showed immediately the team made a good improvement as the German was able to cover the laps faster than direct his competitors at Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Result :
1. K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:22.446
2. F. Massa Ferrari 1:22.590
3. L. Hamilton McLaren 1:22.618
4. F. Alonso McLaren 1:22.840
5. N. Rosberg Williams 1:23.472
6. J. Button Honda 1:23.668
7. G. Fisichella Renault 1:23.671
8. R. Kubica BMW 1:23.703
9. N. Heidfeld BMW 1:23.886
10. J. Trulli Toyota 1:23.965
11. H. Kovalainen Renault 1:24.076
12. R. Barrichello Honda 1:24.564
13. T. Sato Super Aguri 1:24.587
14. M. Webber Red Bull 1:24.595
15. R. Schumacher Toyota 1:24.660
16. A. Wurz Williams 1:24.689
17. A. Davidson Super Aguri 1:24.694
18. D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:24.810
19. A. Sutil Spyker F1 1:25.130
20. S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:25.439
21. S. Yamamoto Spyker F1 1:25.448
22. V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:25.762

Feeling to win in Italy

McLaren Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton has hit out at Ferrari, wondering why the Italian team is behaving the way they are in the spy row. Hamilton will do whatever he can to show his answer on track in the Italian's home Grand Prix.

"Ferrari are being portrayed as the most innocent team. I do not think that is the case," Hamilton told the BBC. "I do not like what Ferrari are putting our team through. I know my team, and we are being been unfairly treated. It would be a great feeling to win in Italy this weekend. Beating Ferrari on their home ground is going to be a huge blow to their team." Hamilton is looking forward to race at Monza this weekend. Last year he clinched the 2006 GP2 championship at the Italian track beating Nelson Piquet jr. in the title fight.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Button wants more competitive

The Honda Racing F1 Team heads to northern Italy this week for the penultimate European race of the 2007 Formula One season, the Italian Grand Prix held at the historic Monza circuit. Set in a leafy royal park just north of Milan, the circuit is the fastest on the Formula One calendar requiring a unique low-downforce set-up, and is a firm favourite for drivers, fans and the teams. Jenson Button has said he expects the team can be more competitive at Monza than it was at the last few races.

"I always look forward to racing at Monza and it is a track that I really enjoy," said Button about the upcoming Italian Grand Prix. "Ascari is probably my favourite part of the track and you can have a lot of fun through there, particularly in a well-balanced car. It's a very fast lap with big braking points so you have concentrate hard the whole way round and make sure that you use the kerbs to your full advantage to take every tenth from the lap. "We tested here last week for four days, which went well despite the unusually poor weather. We ran the car in the unique set-up required for Monza with a lower downforce setting than usual and it performed well. The race will be tough however I expect our performance to be more competitive than some of the recent races which gives cause for optimism."

I like racing at Monza: Nico Rosberg

Williams F1 driver Nico Rosberg is already looking forward to this weekend's Italian Grand Prix. Rosberg is a big fan of the Italian way of life and said he especially enjoys the incredible atmosphere at the Italian Grand Prix.

Speaking about the upcoming race at Monza he said: "I like racing at Monza. I have good memories there, especially from my GP2 race when I had a very good weekend, finishing in second twice and setting the fastest lap. The circuit itself is unique, has a great deal of history and it's fun to drive. The whole lap is a great experience because every corner is different and interesting in its own way. The second chicane is fun because you have to throw the car over the kerbs, hold onto as much speed as you can and brake as late as possible, unlike at the two Lesmos where you need to brake a bit earlier. The Ascari corner and the Parabolica are also interesting for the drivers. "The atmosphere at the Autodromo is brilliant thanks to the Tifosi. Italy has a lot of nice places to visit, it has fantastic food and I really like the Italian attitude to life, which is probably why most of my friends are Italian!"

The support of the tifosi

For Kimi Raikkonen it will be the first time he is racing at his team's home soil. This weekend Formula 1 travels to Autodromo Nazionale Monza, situated in 'Parco di monza'. The Finn realises it will be a special race with the support of the tifosi.

Speaking about the upcoming Italian Grand Prix Kimi Raikkonen said: "I'll race at Monza for the first time with a Ferrari and it will be really special to feel the heat of the tifosi: I can't wait to see all the flags with the Prancing Horse on the grandstands. I always liked the atmosphere at this track. Already during the test many fans came to see us there and it's good to know that you can rely on their support. This is a very special track from the technical point of view; it's different from all the others. You need good aerodynamics, so you remain stable over the curbs, to be quick; but you also need a great engine, as you give it all for most of the lap."

"Traditionally Ferrari has been very competitive here, but also McLaren has been very strong, during the years when I raced for them, but for some reason or another I never managed to win. Let's hope we can make it this time, by being perfect from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon. Winning the homerace of Ferrari would be a great feeling." Five races to go, 16 points to catch up:

"My goal has to be to make up points on all of those who are ahead of me in the standings. The more we can close the gap on Alonso and Hamilton the better it is for me and Felipe. All the upcoming races are crucial: we can't commit any more mistakes. The team gives 110% and we have to beat our competitors and need to gain more points than them every time. After the tests at Monza I went home to Switzerland. I cycled, went to the gym and watched the World Championships in Athletics in Osaka. I was really happy for my fellow-countryman Tero Pitkamaki in javelin throw: it seemed that he had some problems during qualifying, but in the competition he was really good and could win. Let's hope we can do the same in the last races of the year!"

Renault prepare to engine freeze

Renault engine development chief Rob White has called for teams to get together to revise and refine the engine-freeze rules that came into force for the 2007 season, although he does accept they did help cut engine development costs in the short term.

"The principle of homologation was introduced to reduce the cost of engine development," White explained. "While development on the minor parts outside the homologated perimeter of the engine can still yield performance gains, they are not big. And while it would be possible to continue spending on engine development in search of ever-smaller gains, we have not done this at Renault."

"The development activity associated with short-term performance gain has been reduced, and we have made substantial savings," he added. "So in terms of achieving cost savings with no negative impact on the show, I think the rules must be judged a success. But I do not think the 2007 rules are optimum yet, and I hope that future rules will allow us to build on this experience, in order to put on a better show at reasonable cost."

Fisi after a troubled weekend

After a troubled weekend in Turkey, Giancarlo Fisichella is determined to fight back and get in the points at his home Grand Prix this weekend. The Italian is under pressure to perform as his contract comes up for renewal this month and Renault is keeping tight-lipped over its plans.

"I really lost out in the incident at the first corner," Fisichella said about his Turkish weekend. "I could easily have scored points, and that makes it all the more frustrating to finish in 9th position. But you have to put that behind you and look forward. There are still five races to go, and each one will be important for the team and myself. We are totally focused on the Italian Grand Prix this weekend, which will be a very special race for me.""We have been working hard to ensure the car can be competitive," he added. "Our test last week was spent preparing for the race, even though bad weather on Thursday restricted our running. Like the other teams, we have a specific, new aerodynamic package for this race, which is adapted to the specific demands of the circuit. We know that our engine is strong too, but even though we have tested here recently, it will still be important to make good use of practice to fine-tune the car, and find the right compromise for qualifying and the race."

Hopes can finish

After last week's test at the Monza circuit Renault F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen hopes he can finish the race after a strong performance. The Finn is getting more and more comfortable at Renault as the car is improving throughout the season.

Looking ahead of this weekend's Italian Grand Prix Heikki Kovalainen said: "Monza is a high-speed circuit, and it goes without saying that good top speed is essential. But I think it will be even more important to concentrate on the corner exit, so we can put the power down as soon as possible without sliding and losing time… We looked at these areas during the test and collected lots of data, which we will use to build our programme for Friday practice. We want to show once again that we are making progress, just like we did in Istanbul." Kovalainen furthermore said: "I think it is a very exciting race, because of the layout and also the atmosphere. This is a special weekend in the F1 season. The circuit is very fast, you run very light downforce and the drivers need to maintain total concentration throughout. You often see quite dramatic races here as well, and the Ferrari supporters will be out in force this weekend to cheer on their team. Our goal will be to put on a strong performance for the fans who are supporting us out in the stands too."

Fittipaldi has Hamilton re-think

Two-time F1 champion Emerson Fittipaldi is now tipping Lewis Hamilton to win the drivers' crown in his first season. Earlier this year, the Brazilian played down the Hamilton hype, sayingthe Briton was unlikely to win a race.

But Hamilton, 22, now leads the standings from Fernando Alonso, who supplanted Fittipaldi as F1's youngest champion in 2005, when he was 24."Lewis is very good, very determined and has the best chance of winning the title of anybody, " said Fittipaldi. "He is very focused and very established even though he is new."Fernando is very nervous. He has to focus on his driving and go forit, not be complaining so much about Lewis."He's very talented and he should be focused more on driving, and then he can get back to being more competitive again. "Fittipaldi, who won the second of his titles with McLaren in 1974, added that he expects compatriot and Ferrari driver Felipe Massa to push the current McLaren pairing all the way. Massa is currently third in the standings, 15 points behind Hamilton and one ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. "I'd love to see Felipe win," added Fittipaldi, who is head of the Brazilian team in the A1GP series."He won last weekend (in Turkey), and has the opportunity of his life, but he has to win more races."

Indian tycoon set for Spyker deal

Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya has emerged as the potential new owner of the struggling Spyker Formula One team. He and Michiel Mol, Spyker's director of F1, have had a £50m bid accepted by Dutch owners Spyker Cars NV. "I have been dreaming about owning a Formula One team. I was looking at the right opportunity to show up at the right time," said Mallya. "2008 will be the starting point for a gradual improvement. No miracles are going to be produced."Mallya is chairman and controlling shareholder of the UB Group, which has beer, spirits and airlines operations in India. With him in charge, it could mean an Indian driver in F1 next season, potentially Narain Karthikeyan, who is currently a test driver for Williams. It is also likely the team will race under a different name in 2008, although Mallya was unable to confirm driver or team name possibilities."It would give me immense pleasure to see an Indian drive an Indian F1 car, but we have to consult with the team principal and chief technical officer," he said."As of today I won't be able to commit whether Spyker Ferrari will continue to maintain the same name or not next season. "What name the new team will race under is subject to approval of other teams and the F1 management."But the deal is good for F1. It's good for India and for F1's management because viewership (in India) is going to shoot up now."

Monza is memorable for Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton heads to the Italian Grand Prix at Monza ready to make up for his blown tyre disappointment in Turkey and has plenty of good memories of the high-speed circuit where he clinched the GP2 championship last year.
"I had my first race there last year in GP2 and it was a very memorable weekend because it was where I won the Championship," Hamilton said. "I also had an awesome battle with Giorgio Pantano for the whole of the Sunday race, which was one of the most enjoyable for me all year. Hopefully this year I will have just as good a race and great memories for the future.""I remember it is not an easy track to get a good set-up at, so the test last week was very useful," he added. "It is really tough on the cars, and you have to use the kerbs a lot to get quick lap times. Because of this we have a softer suspension package to make the car ride over them better so we can use them more and in a bid to avoid any damage. Slowing the cars down with the incredibly low downforce is not easy, and the balance under braking is key. This was another area we worked on in the test."

Toyota wants poin at Monza

Toyota heads to the high-speed Monza circuit this weekend for the Italian Grand Prix, the home race for Jarno Trulli. After a disappointing race in Turkey the team is determined to bounce back. After missing out on points in Turkey, the team is motivated and hopeful of a return to form in Monza.

"Basically we have to make a one-off car for the Italian Grand Prix in order to match the very high efficiency required by the outstanding average speed around the lap," explains Pascal Vasselon, chassis manager at Toyota. "In that sense it is hard to judge how competitive you will be, but I am quite optimistic because we have done a good job and obtained the target figures we had in terms of aero efficiency. Monza is tough on engines because a driver is flat out for more than 70% of the lap. That also makes the engine more of a performance factor at Monza than at other circuits.""Other issues we face at Monza are braking stability and riding the kerbs," he added. "The kerbs are high and you have to ride them otherwise you lose time, but that forces you to compromise as ideally you would run the car lower and stiffer. As well as high speed, the other aspect to Monza is the history, which makes it a very special venue. I love Italy and it's great to race there. We were unlucky with our race in Turkey but I am optimistic we can be back fighting for points again this weekend."

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Mood to dominate the race : McLaren Spaniard

Having cut the gap to Lewis Hamilton down to five points at the Turkish Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso travels to Monza in a determined mood to dominate the race and not rely on any tyre failures to haul him up the championship table.

"We spent time testing on the track this week, and we had some good feedback so I feel positive going into the race," said Alonso who topped the time sheets on two days. "It is a challenge, but it is a special circuit and it is a great feeling to race here.""Last year did not give me any good memories, but it is a track that I would really like to win at so hopefully we can make that happen in 2007," he added. "

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Bridgestone apologise for Hamilton failure

F1's sole tyre supplier on Wednesday apologised to Lewis Hamilton after the championship leader suffered a right-front failure during the recent Turkish grand prix. At the Monza test, head of track engineering operations Kees van de Grint reportedly walked into the McLaren garage and accepted Bridgestone' s side of responsibility for the delamination that dropped Hamilton from third to just fifth with15 laps to go in Istanbul. Following detailed examinations back in Tokyo, Bridgestone determined this week that excessive 'chunking' contributed to the failure, aswell as a so-far unexplained extra force impacting the damaged surface of the tyre. "It could have been a stone or the edge of a kerb that he unfortunately hit," Dutchman van de Grint told Auto Motor und Sport.