It must be quite obvious that we, here at FFN, are rather fond of Kimi Raikkonen in that detached, indulgent manner like you are sometimes fond of a crazy cousin. Having authored several best sellers such as “The Art of Replying in Monosyllables” and “Ron Dennis: A Survival Guide”, not to mention “When and Where to Dress in a Gorilla Costume”, Kimi also drove a F1 car in his spare time, and was even a Ferrari driver briefly. However, after a career move to rallying, we are surprised by how vocal Raikkonen suddenly is, never losing an opportunity to remind everyone how boring F1 is, and how foolish millions of people are to be even following this silly sport (or non-sport as Alonso would put it). Now when he says “WRC is more open than F1, there’s a warmer feeling”, we can’t help but feel not all is well with Iceman. I mean, Kimi-Bot talking about openness, friendship and warmness is like Flavio Briatore talking about team orders…just doesn’t gel. By the way, what did you think of the new Lotus? This is what we thought…

The next test session in Jerez is promising to be a cheery affair, what with severe rain forecasts and  flood warnings. It will be interesting to watch all the F1 teams huddled up in their respective motorhomes watching the cars floating in the garages outside.  With the testing regulations and all that, we can’t help but feel half the grid is going to get the first decent run only during the Bahrain GP, adding a whole new dimension of variability to the proceedings (Can the Virgin front wing last 10 laps? Is USF1 really going to be there on the grid? Did Campos get the brake and accelerator pedals interchanged?)  So when Kimi says boring and unpredictable, he clearly doesn’t have a clue.

There was an interesting news piece on Pitpass yesterday on majority of the Mercedes former management resigning, and to be replaced by Mohamed Badawy Al Huseinny (and if that’s only one man, then a few others from Aabar Investing Fund as well). But today, a Mercedes spokesman has dismissed the reports – “”I can confirm that Nick Fry remains at the team in the position of chief executive officer”. The spokesman adds that there is no big change forthcoming, except they have fired the cook in the Mercedes motohome. “There was a lot of negative PR because Michael was always dashing off to the Ferrari motorhome for lunch” clarifies the spokesman, “Now we have a Italian chef who can make spaghetti aglio e olio pasta with garlic and olive oil  as well as the next person”. Michael was not available for comment.

The British media have been busy the past week wondering what could possibly be the reason for Ferrari topping the charts at Valencia last week. Never mind that Ferrari has won 8 out of the last 11 world constructor championships, one would have thought Force India topped the charts judging by the reaction. One interesting theory presented was that Ferrari omitted to add 30 kgs of ballast to the car, an honest mistake any team can make, and after all the self-congratulatory pats on the back for having exceeded expectations, were chagrined to find the missing ballasts hidden behind the extra tyres. We can see that going down well with Luca di Montezemolo. Or wait, maybe it was a deliberate ‘mistake’, much like our beloved Schumster parking in Rascasse. Maybe Ferrari thought it was a wonderful idea to corner all the pre-season hype only to fail spectacularly in the first race. Well, clearly we are not the only ones in the fake news business, that’s for sure.

We hear Red Bull’s got a bit of a problem. Adrian Newey, in his quest for aerodynamic perfection has designed such a unique raised nose that it’s pretty much all the driver can see from the cockpit. Maybe they should have just stuck to the previous year’s design, much like Force India. Force India has cleverly restricted all their innovations to the steering wheel. We have already highlighted their desire to just have a car that runs, which is actually a clever strategy. This way, they will surely finish ahead of at least five other teams that seem destined to merely form immovable hurdles at the race start. And there is further action in store presented by teams such as Virgin, where you never know when the car is going to disintegrate all over the track, as it did in Jerez today, with drivers no doubt having to drive warily around to avoid the odd piece of debris. Thankfully DC has retired, I doubt our hearts could have withstood that added excitement, given his well documented stopping-in-the-rain routines and attempted decapitations.  

Ferrari is looking increasingly consistent and reliable at the Jerez tests, all positive signs leading up to the season. Bring on Bahrain! Forza! I will leave you with a bit of Ron-Speak, just so we can be grateful we are not subjected to this on a regular basis anymore. “You have one driver preceding the other and feeling that he had to catch up. You have all these very, very different chemistries, and it’s just not the case with two drivers who have got like-minded approaches, an Anglophile approach”. And this was all in reply to some unsuspecting journo asking Ron about the Hamilton-Button pairing in McLaren.

We (at FFN) have been wondering about the new point system a bit. You know, the newest 25-18-15-12-10 one, awarding the winner with a whopping 7 point lead. It feels as though the powers that be in F1 have a sudden sneaking suspicion that lack of overtaking might have little to do with the cars and tracks after all. In the recent past, the governing bodies have been throwing everything they could lay their collective hands on into making F1 a better sporting spectacle, meaning more cars overtaking and less resemblance to a ruddy procession. If this meant sweeping aerodynamic changes or the blessed KERS or even shortcuts, so be it. And then some bright chap in some Council approved a proposal from a different commission, the gist of it being to provide a bit of incentive to the drivers to actually want to overtake. We think it’s a rather bright idea, our only concern being Bernie Ecclestone agrees. “The idea was to make a much bigger gap between first and second” says Bernie, “give people the incentive to overtake, not to sit there getting points”. Uh oh, what did we miss? Jenson Button, it has to be said, is far more diplomatic than FFN when it comes to voicing opinions on anything Bernie. He thinks the ‘shortcuts’ idea is rather ridiculous of course, but seems to suggest it is an exception rather than norm. “We struggle seeing anyway out of the sides of the cars, because the cockpit comes up to here for safety reasons. So if there is a car coming at an angle, it can be very dangerous” says Jense, “It’s probably not one of Bernie’s better ideas”. Oh, we think it is one of Bernie’s better ideas, which doesn’t say much for the standard I suppose.

Meanwhile, Force India’s design director Mark Smith is not upset about skipping the Valencia test last week. “As long as we are ready to go the Jerez test with a car that will run then it’s better for us” he says, and you have to agree. Car that runs is definitely better than car that maintains its state of inertia at rest. Nico Hulkenberg is also feeling the pressure, not that he is driving for Force India. “Williams expect me to deliver a good job, to drive quickly and do well for them. They would not appoint me as a driver if they didn’t expect something from me” says the clearly inexperienced youngling. If only he had read a bit of F1 history, he would know Williams specialize in appointing drivers no one in their right mind can expect anything out of. I mean, he’s got Rubens Barrichello as teammate for heaven’s sake! I bet if Ralf Schumacher were to make a comeback, Williams would sign him up without a second thought. Speaking of Rubens, we hear he had been urging young Rosberg to bolt out of Mercedes, now that Michael Schumacher is his teammate. Acts of courage, indeed.

Bring on the Jerez test then, keep fingers crossed that Ferrari goes fastest there as well. Forza!

Williams have declared that they are going in for a ‘clean-sheet design’, which is the best way to go really when you have produced a string of turkeys year after year with unfailing consistency. In fact, I think it’s for the best if they burn all the previous design documents, just in case they are tempted to take a quick peek as to where they attached the steering wheel last time around. Sam Michael also seems to have a lot of (misplaced?) optimism in the driver lineup. “We have managed to sign the German managed by Willi Weber” he told us proudly in an exclusive to FFN, and we didn’t have the heart to put a damper on his enthusiasm by pointing out they’ve already tried this before with Ralf Schumacher. As for Rubens Barrichello…well, given his tendency to sue bloggers who feel rather differently about his capabilities on track, we shall refrain from comment. It would suffice to say we don’t share Sam Michael’s sunny optimism.

We hear Nick Heidfeld is cursing Michael Schumacher a goodish deal in his spare time (of which he has plenty these days), and you can’t help but feel a little sympathetic. When Mercedes (Brawn) announced they were settling for an all German lineup for 2010, Nick was confident it was a done deal. Naturally he is not very pleased with the new developments, and if there’s one person who is not waxing on eloquently about how Michael’s return is good for F1, it is Nick. Good for F1 maybe, but a disaster for him personally, as he has now been announced as Mercedes reserve driver when all a reserve driver does these days is pretty much sit in the garage and twiddle his thumbs. It’s all down to the grooming we think, after all, with Nico Rosberg looking like a pretty Hollywood actress, who will go in for the Chewbacca look alike? Moral of the story – A shave in time saves a F1 career. Or something like that.

Meanwhile Heikki Kovalainen is busy hitting back at critics who are discussing odds of Heikki being the next Finn to go rallying. It is said Kimi will consider switching back to F1 mid-season, and maybe they can just trade places. While an elegant solution no doubt, Heikki is convinced he has a long and prosperous F1 career ahead. “If Rubens can be in F1, why can’t I?” reasons Heikki, “After all, I have beaten Michael Schumacher in RoC. And the only thing Rubens has ever beaten Michael in is in Backgammon…plus I am a hundred years younger”.   Very logical, you have to admit. Heikki also suggests that his reputation as a poor racer is not ‘a true reflection of his many talents’ (of which perhaps racing is not one?). “I didn’t get the best out of the McLaren” he admits (in a gross understatement), “I don’t think there are any areas I particularly need to improve”. That’s twisting the truth a bit, one particular area where we feel there’s definite room for improvement is driving a F1 car at reasonable speed. “Some people think I’m a good qualifier and not such a good racer (like some kind of reverse Jenson Button?)” he adds helpfully, “But that is only in McLaren. If you look at my time at Renault in 2007, the race performances were actually very strong (but the qualifying not so much)”. The key to this whole racing thing, Heikki, is to do both the qualifying and racing part well in the same year.

Not much news on the Ferrari front, except the new 2010 livery looks like they couldn’t decide till the last minute if they wanted a red car or a white car, with the end result the car now looks like a red-and-white zebra. Still no comparison to the Renault rainbow of 2007 or the Honda Earth Car. And as long as the car can race like a Ferrari always races, we should have a good season ahead. Forza.

Here at FFN, we are convinced January is the longest month in the year. We know its just 31 days like most other months, but the days somehow just seem longer you have to admit. Probably its all an elaborate cosmic conspiracy hatched to lengthen the F1 off season. Speaking of which, it’s a miracle Bernie Ecclestone hasn’t just suggested around-the-year racing, considering there’s not much car development anyway what with all the cost cutting. And its not like Bernie is the shy kind who shrinks from making ridiculous suggestions (speaking figuratively of course, in a literal sense, if he shrank anymore he would be invisible…). The various F1 comittees (how many are there anyway?) are not to be outdone, they are as good as the next person in airing harebrained schemes to the general public.  When they are not busy cutting costs, they are trying to reduce speeds. It’s a bit confounding this one, you would have thought the whole idea about F1 racing is to increase speeds but apparently not. A bunch of blokes got together yesterday and officially agreed to ban double diffusers for 2011, in a move aimed at keeping speeds under control. If you are thinking rules could hardly get more haphazard, you are not alone. We think Christian Horner nails it when he says “I think the most important thing is to set clear objectives – as to what do the governing body and the promoters want F1 to be. I think looking at components in isolation is often quite dangerous, so I think it is important that the overall objective is clearly defined and then worked on by the various technical groups. What do they want the F1 cars to be able to do?” From the look of it, go very slowly one behind the other with no overtaking whatsoever. Oh, and maybe have shortcuts if things get too boring. Pinnacle of motor racing, indeed!

No doubt there are sinister machinations afoot at Mercedes headquarters. I am sure Nico Rosberg has been having sleepless nights ever since he heard he was going to be the ‘other’ driver in a team that has Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher…not that Ross will be doing any driving…his role will be strictly restricted to eating bananas and looking intelligent on the pitwall. Rosberg confessed recently that he had a really bad nightmare, that the new president of FIA, Jean Todt, was present at every race, instructing Rosberg over the microphone to “let Michael pass, I repeat, LET MICHAEL PASS”. Not the ideal situation you have to agree. For all the brave talk Rosberg has been doing about beating Michael and being the king of the world, he has kept a wary eye on the proceedings. So when Michael Schumacher recently declared that he wanted the No 3 car because he is superstitious about even numbers, it is fair to assume Nico’s hackles are up and he is all ready to bite if the need arises.  It’s a pity Michael is not more like Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton, you remember Ron Dennis told us, is apparently beyond human emotions, a spiritual kind of chappie. Michael unfortunately still believes in initimidating his opponents, starting with his teammate first.

Conspiracy theories aside, maybe Michael really is superstitious. Martin Brundle once said that Michael went out looking for four leaf clovers before every important race (it’s a bit odd it’s not a three leaf clover considering…). No doubt he didn’t find one before Jerez 97 and got all into a nervous twitter…and we all know what happened next. Or Suzuka 1998 for the matter. Who would have thought what is often mistaken for Michael cracking under pressure and making a hash of things is actually Michael’s inability to find four leaf clovers? Felipe Massa recently confessed that he has been following Michael’s advise since 2007. “Michael has made me the driver I am” he declared proudly the other day, “It was Michael who told me to wear the same underpants through the race weekend if Friday turns out well. It works like magic”. Michael was clever enough to  hand out this advise just before his departure in 2006, but no wonder poor Kimi Raikkonen has given up on F1 and taken up rallying instead. And unsuspecting Fernando Alonso knows nothing about the grave assault in store for his olfactory senses every other Sunday. Talking of other driver superstitions, Alex Wurz likes to wear different colored shoes on race weekends, not that it helps his performance any. Mark Webber likes to get dressed in the same order – underpants, socks, pants, shoes – which I suppose works the same way for everyone unless you are Clark Kent.

It remains to be seen whether the FIA and Mercedes management would agree to Schumacher’s request, innocent or otherwise. But considering Todt is president of FIA, and Ross Brawn is team boss, I am thinking the answer is probably a resounding yes. Give it some thought though – all the exciting things that Michael’s ever done, from winning championships to parking in Rascasse, have all been in odd number cars…can you really blame the man? There, I didn’t think so either.

This is most disturbing. I know I’ve been in hibernation for a year or so, but really, who would have thunk?!  The Iceman has gone rallying, our very own super assistant has gone behind our back and signed for Mercedes (just when the general audience was beginning to understand what a super assistant really does), and we have good old Nando in Ferrari red proudly displaying the Santander logo. Todt is the new president of FIA (I bet Nando won’t call it Ferrari International Assistance any longer), Ron Dennis is finally gone, and Flavio…well, dear Flavio is always getting into some trouble or the other. This time apparently he thought it would be funny to tell Nelson Piquet Jr to crash (it’s a bit like asking Nick Heidfeld to look like Chewbacca) and Nelson was so thrilled on being asked to do what he does so well for a change that he executed it in perfection. It’s good that indignant Flavio got the lifetime ban overturned, a pure case of witch-hunting,  this! As if Nelson wouldn’t have crashed if Flavio hadn’t asked him to! Oh, and did I mention Jenson won the world championship? You can easily understand why my head’s reeling a bit as I type.

I am already missing Kimi a bit. Agreed he had about as much animation in his eyes as that of a dead fish, but the Iceman was still a bit special. Who can forget the gorilla costumes and James Hunt pseudonyms? And now we have to change the website logo, which is a darned nuisance  by the way. Oh well, at least we still have dear Felipe, a fighter as always. Talking of which, what has come over Michael Schumacher (Or his evil twin, as Luca di Montezemolo would have us believe)? So he got the racing itch, and there was a small logistical problem at Ferrari (2 Ferrari cars is not divisible by 3 drivers), but if he had been a bit patient, I am sure Bernie would have found the way. Yes, Bernie Ecclestone. Clearly a man who can reveal he would like short-cuts at every circuit with a straight face is capable of thinking up some creative solution to this problem. I attribute this whole fiasco to inviting Michael to every other race by the way. No good racing driver can sit on the pit wall and watch his erstwhile colleagues make a hash of it race after race without wanting to jump in the car and show them a pointer or two. Anyway, no use crying over spilt milk, so we resign ourselves to watching da Michael in gray overalls and red helmet, a fashion disaster as always.  

Talking of fashion disasters…I mean fashion, I must say the red sits pretty well on young Fernando. Better than blue anyway. And is it just me, or has his neck slimmed down quite a bit? No more talks of fat necks, bushy eyebrows and mental instability by the way. We have always been very fond of Fernando Alonso here at FFN, and as a grand welcoming gesture from now on, we shall only focus on the positives. Anything else is just an endearing quirk. With Fernando and Felipe at Ferrari, we are very tempted to change FFN to FFFFN, no that’s not what I was going to say…we at FFN are very excited about the 2010 season. Bring it on! Forza Ferrari, as always!

Unless you have been desperately trying to avoid the glare of the global media by living under a rock for the past week (no names mentioned of course Pinocchio), you will no doubt be aware that the FIA have decided in their infinite wisdom to adopt some rather dramatic and draconian rules for the beginning of the 2010 F1 season.

do-as-your-jolly-well-toldWell we say the FIA, in reality lets be clear and say Max Mosley, since it would seem whatever he fancies these days goes with very little opposition from his minions, and who can blame them? We wouldn’t much fancy a good thrashing with a cat o’ nine tails either.

The FIA president has dropped somewhat of a proverbial bombshell on the F1 fraternity, by the introduction of a voluntary £40 million budget cap. Before you get all excited and start clambering to get your hands on expensive copies of Kimi Raikkonen’s trendsetting red head gear perhaps we should actually explain.

In an ‘alleged’ effort to secure the future of the sport in times of economic doom and gloom, the proposed £40 million budget cap per team is intended to make it cheaper for Formula 1 team to operate in the sport at competitive prices. It is also intended to allegedly reward those who can be innovative with a reel of sticky tape, two egg cartons, an empty washing detergent bottle and unlimited ice lolly sticks, and be slightly less rewarding of those with a fancy designer italian leather chequebook and endless euros at their disposal.

Unfortunately the proposed voluntary budget cap, comes with some rather ‘interesting’ smallprint and conditions attached. Those teams who can compete within the £40 million can pretty much get away with anything they want, including having movable front and rear wings, unlimited engine revs, extra KERS (although that does beg the question who would actually want it) and as much testing as they can cram into the season. While those who struggle to downgrade the cost of their F1 operations, are basically going to be allowed to race the untested reconditioned lawnmower from their garden sheds.

Sufficed to say, these new rules caused somewhat of a stir in the undergarments of several F1 bosses up and down the pitlane, as effectively the rules would be introducing a two-tiered system, with one set of rules for the low budget new boys, and another for the more longstanding big budget boys.

ronaldoblindfoldWe simply can’t imagine this happening in any other sporting arena, where there are only one set of rules and regulations. Can you imagine Manchester United playing Altrincham FC for example? Except in this case Manchester United would only be allowed to field 11 men hopping about on one foot, blindfolded and twirled around three times in comparison to their able bodied counterparts.

While it might be amusing to watch Man U get a good thrashing start with, having two sets of rules is farcical….particularly when the FIA who govern the sport usually struggle to get to grips with one set….let alone two.

What next? Giving detailed instructions to the race stewards about which coloured cars are allowed to overtake and which are not?

Anyway before this turns into a feature length rant, you get the idea…..its simply ridiculous to govern a sport by two distinct and separate set of rules. It doesn’t take a degree in the Krypton Factor to work that one out….which is just as well as we don’t have one…

poor-lucaIt comes as hardly any surprise though, that these proposed regulations were met with much gesticulation, arm-waving and Mamma Mia’s in the vicinity of Maranello. Ferrari and FOTA President Luca Di Montezemolo reportedly firing off strongly worded complaints to the White Star Line (oops I mean FIA) which were met with the usual dose of Max Mosley’s contempt and derision.

In retaliation to this alleged fan mail, Max has insisted that F1 can survive without Ferrari if they don’t like it, thank you very much. Naturally this has led to speculation that Max has now got somewhat bored of picking on McLaren now that former Team Principal Ron Dennis has departed the scene, and has now switched his beady eyes in the direction of the Maranello outfit. Although personally we feel he may actually have trouble getting an argument out of Stefano Domenicali, who seems to be the most perennially cheerful man on the planet.

In response Ferrari have reiterated their commitment to F1, but the tifosi have been left feeling rather irked with the FIA President, who only last year was telling us how historically important Ferrari were to the sport. We do wish he would make up his mind….and actually get on with retiring like he has promised for the last half century.

bernie-ecclestone-and-mental-maxF1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone meanwhile has stepped into the fray, and promised to protect Ferrari and it’s President with all four foot 3 inches of his powerful presence….assuming Max Mosley can actually see him down there of course.

According to the half pint-sized supremo you don’t want to go getting yourself into an argument with Max because he is so clever….which leads us to wonder if in fact there are two FIA Presidents, as some of the decisions emanating from Place de la Concorde of recent times seem frankly laughable even for a village idiot.

As ever though it seems Bernie is pretty adept at knowing where the money is at, and after all what other team has such a fanatically deranged fanbase that would mortgage their grandmothers for the prospect of sitting on a rather uncomfortable concrete block in a hugely overpriced red shirt for 2 hours for an extortionate sum during an economic crisis?

tifosiConsidering the tifosi make up a pretty large proportion of the F1 fan base, we’d like to see them fill the grandstands and extort ridiculous annual fees out of all the race tracks without the presence of the barmy red flag waving brigade.

It remains to be seen if this is yet another ploy by the FIA to herd FOTA where they want them, and if FOTA are willing to go along like good little sheep….or if the sheep might actually bite back.

Meanwhile, the rest of Ferrari have been busily concentrating on developing and testing the F60(B) according to media reports. Last weekend the Maranello squad were testing their new gadgets and gizmo’s at the Vairano test track in Italy. Test driver Marc Gene carried out the 350km straightline test (excluding the times when he had to actually turn around or end up in Calais) to assess the new fangled improvements.
It is rumoured the upgrades to the F60, including a new floor, interim diffusor and various aerodynamic changes (including Luca Di’s latest hair trim) will be bring somewhere in the region of 0.6 seconds to the speed of light to the Maranello charger.

adessoAccording to reports in the Finnish Media, the Italian squad have managed to shave off an astounding 15Kg from the weight of the car to improve the use of the KERS system. Alongside suggestions of lighter body parts (the car’s not the driver’s we hope) it is also rumoured the Maranello boys found all sorts of debris in the footwell of Felipe and Kimi’s chargers.

Allegedly, Kimi’s footwell was full to brimming with copies of the Times Crossword, various inflatable animals and a 1st edition tome on effusive public speaking, while Felipe’s was in danger of becoming a fully established 1980’s aviator sunglasses emporium.

Test Driver Marc Gene has suggested that the upgrade is the biggest he has ever seen at Ferrari, which no doubt has led to some teams Technical Directors hopping from foot to foot in nervous agitation like men in a department store changing room lest their’s should turn out to be less well endowed.

ferrari-factoryNoises emanating from Ferrari HQ suggest the team are quietly pleased with their progress, but the last time they counted their chickens, they ended up with only three points on the scoreboard and a lot of egg on their faces. So we can only hazard a guess that every available appendage is crossed back at the factory in hope they have done enough to take the fight to the likes of Brawn and Co.

McLaren who have recently been let off the hook for their grovelling apologies to the FIA over liegate, have reportedly begun fretting already that their upgrades will not be as big as other teams and are concerned they may be leapfrogged. We’d suggest keeping out the way of Robert Kubica then as he has already had a good go on Jarno Trulli recently.

The F1 teams will be arriving tomorrow in Barcelona for the Spanish GP….so all we can do is wait for the next enthralling installment in the F1 soap opera…..the only difference is here at FFN we are still waiting for a mysterious shooting like in Dallas….

Hey Folks,

just to let you know I am a bit busy at the moment with other commitments so haven’t had any time to write, but I will try and get back into the swing of things this week.

thanks for everyones continued support and readership!

sugarpuff x

This weekend hosts the fourth round (and quarter way point already – crikes!) of the Formula 1 season at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain. Following on from the two previous races in Malaysia and China where local weather conditions played havoc, it is rumoured that a sandstorm may be on the cards for Sunday afternoon which just happens to be race day.

sandstorm-sakhir-circuitBahrain’s Meteorology Office (not to be confused with Ferrari’s sometimes errant pitwall system) has reported there is an increasing risk of “rising sand” whatever that means. We do hope it isn’t quicksand, otherwise the entire paddock could be swallowed up and never seen again.

With the current season only being four weeks old, and two thirds of that taking place in meteorological conditions of biblical proportions, here at FFN we are beginning to wonder what catastrophe we are in for next….fire and brimstone raining from the skies? plagues of locusts? incurable boils? We realise the powers that be have been trying to improve the spectacle of the sport but this is just getting ridiculous.

While the F1 teams have been unpacking and getting ready ahead of the race weekend, the F1 rumour mill has been in top gear all week, seemingly no amount of rain or sand can put a spanner in the works of the worlds motorsports media.

If you have access to the BBC, you may remember that last weekend at the Chinese GP, former Force India Technical Director Mike Gascoyne took over from the BBC’s regular pundit Eddie Jordan to bring us his unique insight into all matters F1, and did a superb job.

According to recent reports the feedback received by the BBC was so positive, that Mike Gascoyne is allegedly pushing for the job full time at the expense of the Irishman. Simultaneously it is reported that Mr. Gascoyne also has his eye on an unspecified role at Maranello and fancies himself as a bit of a Ross Brawn.

mike-gascoyneAllegedly Mike has been quoted as saying he will fit in well with the culture at Ferrari (no doubt he has his beady eye on the lunch menu already and has been practicing speaking and waving his arms around like an animated windmill at the same time) and is touting himself for a possible role in the wind tunnel or in the aerodynamics department.

Perhaps Mike is offering to fill the Maranello based windtunnel with hot air, as it seems this is what he is spouting at the moment. As far as we are concerned he is nothing like Ross Brawn, in height, girth or fashion sense, not to mention Ross Brawn hasn’t been sacked by his last two employers. But lets not split hairs. Perhaps he is referring to his facial fuzz and whether he looks jolly and round in red uniforms.

Personally we would have thought Jean Todt would have been a more accurate comparison….since they both have reputations for rollocking their employees when they get cross, not to mention the need for a few copies of the Yellow Pages so they can reach their pitwall bar stools….

Someone else who is considering their future with the Ferrari Team is Michael Schumacher, who has confirmed he will be holding talks with the team over the summer as to whether he continues on in his extremely vaguely titled role as ‘Advisor’, two years on we are still trying to ascertain what he does apart from standing around looking pretty and scaring the bejesus out of Kimi.

Although we suppose some tifosi may point out the very same thing two years on, regarding sometimes WDC Kimi Raikkonen. Not least since Team Boss Stefano Domenicali hinted after Malaysia that people would be best remembering what their responsibilities are, assuming of course that Kimi can actually remember that far back in the first place…..

michael-schumacher-mystery-advisorMichael’s announcement has led to all sorts of scurrulous speculation, that he is either looking to dethrone current F1 team boss Stefano Domenicali, or has simply got fed up of standing about like an expensive piece of furniture and taking flak for dubious strategy decisions, and wants to cut ties with the Maranello team and instead has decided to run off with the Moscow State Circus.

Is there anyone in the paddock these days not considering their future with the team? According to former Toro Rosso boss Gerhard Berger, the only man in Maranello with an assured job for next year is Fernando Alonso, quel surprise!

Allegedly the Toro Rosso ex-boss and former Ferrari encumbant himself, claims that the Spaniard already knows what team he is working for in 2010. According to reports, Fernando informed the Toro Rosso team in 2008, that he was only looking for an option for 2009 as he had already got plans in place for the following year. We can only presume he is coming to Ferrari in an advisory capacity as it seems to be all the rage these days, filling your garage up with highly paid advisors, never mind the sodding drivers.

This could leave Renault in the lurch somewhat when it comes to drivers, as already rumours have begun to emerge that Nelson Piquet Jnr (Alonso’s less illustrious teammate) has been given a 3 race deadline to show his skills or get given a close encounter with Flavio Briatore’s boot and the fire exit.

flav-and-his-boysThe Brazilian has been told that he has until Monaco to impress the Flamboyant Flav, or the team will start looking at other options, including running his car with a plastic crash test dummy. Not that we would probably notice much difference when it comes to the actual driving, but we do suppose they complain less, are a lot cheaper and have similar colours to Nelson’s helmet already which should please the sponsors.

Flav has gone on record as saying that even if Nelson Piquet Jnr does get the old heave-ho, the team are limited at trying too find a decent replacement this season (surely anything has got to be an improvement albeit slightly less entertaining…..).

One rumour currently doing the rounds is that Renault may be interested in luring away BrawnGP’s third driver Austrian Beanpole Alex Wurz, due to the fact he provides excellent technical feedback and has close working knowledge of BrawnGP’s hairdryer (I mean diffusor). Not to mention Alex has already worked for Flavio on a previous occasion at Benetton, and conveniently comes with a pair of industrial earplugs already installed. That’s if he isn’t already off to Ferrari, like the rest of the paddock.

Meanwhile the Maranello squad themselves have confirmed they will not be running the KERS system on Raikkonen’s car this weekend, but they will be running it on Felipe Massa’s.

kimi-in-bahrainApparantly the team have been hard at work back in the factory trying to get to the bottom of the system’s problems, and are hopeful that they may have fixed its reliability issues in time for the Bahrain GP. According to news reports this afternoon they will be running the system on only one car as a way of comparing performance, presumably to see the difference between very slow and VERY VERY VERY slow.

Mr. Raikkonen has spoken to the Italian Media today and in his usual understated manner has assured them there is not much chance of the Maranello outfit winning at Sakhir this weekend (just in case we were in any doubt), but that the realistic target is at most a podium place or a few points. That’s what we like to see, our drivers brimming with enthusiasm and confidence!

We can only hope that with the removal of his KERS (Kimi’s early retirement system) the Finn hasn’t got much excuse but to get on with it, and will have to wait a bit longer for his after race refreshments. Although we should point out since they don’t supply champagne on the podium in Bahrain, it’s hardly much of an incentive for him is it?

race-start-chinaI know what you are thinking. It’s Tuesday afternoon, 3 days after the Chinese Grand Prix and you were beginning to think we had flung ourselves off a Balcony in a fit of despair after what can only be described as yet another desolate and demoralising weekend for the Ferrari Team.

Do not fear, we can confirm we are alive and well, albeit wearing pairs of underpants on our heads, inserting pencils up our nostrils and taking valium like its going out of fashion. Even the FFN cat is refusing to come out from under the duvet.

Going into the race weekend, Ferrari confirmed they would be racing in China without the KERS system, which to those of you new to the sport, is the Kinetic Energy Recovery System, although given all the reliability problems that Ferrari have had with it of late we do feel it should be more aptly described as Kimi’s Early Retirement System.

Allegedly, the removal of the extremely temperamental device was supposed to improve the reliability of the F60 and the chances of some much needed points, but on the downside would make it harder to overtake during the race. But at least it wouldn’t be spontaneously bursting into flames and fumigating Kimi’s underpants at any given moment.

ferrari_kersKimi as ever was pretty nonchalant about the removal of his retirement system, and was more interested in knowing when the ice hockey was on and if the Ferrari Fridge Freezer was fully stocked, but ickle Felipe was eager to insist the team work to improve the reliability and get the infernal creation reinstalled back in time for Bahrain. Heaven knows why, unless he is hell bent on removing his teammate as a rival before he has even left the garage.

At this point it is worth mentioning, that during the Chinese Grand Prix weekend only 3 cars out of 20 on the grid were using KERS, the rest of the grid including BMW who insisted on the teams developing it in the first place at FOTA, removing the device from their cars.

Renault’s Flamboyant Team Principal took a few seconds break over the weekend from haranguing Ross Brawn, to describe the KERS system as being very useful as a sailboat anchor and not much else.

flavio1Flavio then immediately went back to calling Jenson Button a concrete bollard, Rubens an old fart, and demanding that the FIA refuse to give Ross Brawn his £30 million share in TV revenues for forcing everyone to fork out for the odd new diffusor or two. We can only hope this new cashflow problem for the Renault team will mean Flavio cannot afford any more new eye-watering thongs. Every cloud has a silver lining so they say.

We can’t help feeling that if the FIA hadn’t insisted on KERS in the first place, (which thus far has proved about as much use as a chocolate teapot), then all the teams would be able to have just as many diffusors as they jolly well liked….since they are after all in fitting with the wording and spirit of the current technical regulations. We are enthusiastically waiting for the first team to come up with a triple-decker, and see how the FIA like that, presuming they actually noticed of course.

Anyway I suppose at some point we should actually mention the race, as that is why we are here, isn’t it?

Red Bull emerged as a serious contender over the course of the race weekend, being the only non-double diffusor team taking the challenge to Ross Brawn’s BrawnGP team.

Popular little German Sebastien Vettel led home a resounding 1-2 victory for Red Bull from pole position, his cryogenically frozen teammate Mark ‘Wooden Leg’ Webber not far behind, with current World Championship Leader Jenson ‘Bollard’ Button happy to secure third spot on the podium after yet another extremely difficult race thanks to precipitation.

Yes, following on from the wet weather debacle in Malaysia just a week or so ago, the weather once more intervened in proceedings thank you very much to whoever’s wise idea it is to swap the F1 calendar around to incorporate the rainy season. We won’t mention any names of vertically challenged F1 supremo’s at this point, lest he decides to sue us. Let’s hope he doesn’t come up with any more bright ideas for the future of the sport, like putting a race in tornado alley or up the side of a volcano for example.

safety-car-chinaDue to the track conditions the race began under the safety car, which while we applaud the FIA taking seriously the safety of the drivers concerned, they actually cancelled out about the only exciting bit of the race, and we were therefore deprived of Rubens Barrichello tanking his way past anyone who happened to be on the same bit of track he wanted.

Considering most stalwart fans had to get up in what can only be described as the middle of the night (well to me anyway), the last thing they want to watch is 90 odd laps of F1 cars driving around at a snails pace, behind a safety car that goes slower than my Grandmother in her FIAT 500 at a roundabout.

Once the safety car had been dispatched, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa had a storming race fighting his way up through the field with a magnificent drive from 12th to 4th, silencing some of his critics (who claim he can’t drive in the rain) in the process.

Unfortunately fate had other plans, and a software management program shut down ickle Felipe’s Engine leaving the poor Brazilian floundering on the grass verge like a fish out of water.

Had it not been for this unfortunate turn of events there was every chance the passionate little poppet would have been in with a good chance of getting on the podium, assuming Ferrari hadn’t come up with some bizarre strategy to send him out with no tires at all not to mention the obligatory white visor…..

kimi-chinaTeammate Kimi Raikkonen endured a less auspicious afternoon, the Flying Finn (or should that be Floundering Finn?) struggled throughout, apparently suffering from a lack of speed, lack of grip and intermittent issues with rain dripping into his engine. Perhaps next time he might want to take an umbrella round with him, either that or get his engine covered in sticky back plastic.

Kimi managed to bring his F60 home in 10th spot, which is quite a remarkable feat in itself considering it seemed he was overtaken by just about every driver on the grid on at least two or three occasions. Unfortunately Kimi has come in for come flak for his Sunday afternoon performance, with some fans insisting he might actually go faster if Ferrari strap choc-ices to the rear wings of all the other cars to motivate him to go faster. The Kimbot has hit back and suggested that motivation isn’t his problem, in fact he hasn’t even got a first clue what it is…..or something to that effect.

Suffice to say yet another dismal performance has incensed the Italian Media and some sections of the“Tifosi” somewhat, with yet more calls for heads to roll. We are at a loss to see how beheading Ferrari Staff is actually going to help matters, not least because they won’t be able to see the darned car to improve it.

_stefano_domenicaliAfter the Race, Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali hinted that the Maranello outfit may resort to scrapping efforts for 2009 and concentrating on 2010, if they do not see a vast improvement in the performance of the car come the Spanish Grand Prix in 3 weeks time.

According to some reports, Ferrari will be introducing a new floor on the F60 (riddled with drilled holes for more downforce) I know this because they phoned us up here at FFN HQ asking to borrow our cordless power drill in exchange for an extremely rare free official signed photo of Kimi smiling and Felipe looking vacant.

It is also thought that the Spanish GP will see the team introduce a new double diffusor at the back of the car, to help claw back some of the performance deficit to some of the top teams. Ferrari staff were unavailable for comment last night, when we tried to ascertain any truth to the rumours they would also be installing a couple of rockets (not icecreams Kimi) on the side of the car to speed it up a little.

As per usual Austria’s very own like-for-like version of Prince Phillip (due to his fondness for political incorrectness), has popped out the woodwork to impart us with his words of wisdom on the current situation. Former World Champion Niki Lauda has insisted that the loss of Ross Brawn, Michael Schumacher and Jean Todt has left the Ferrari team unravelling into chaos like a ball of spaghetti. We just hope they find the meatballs to turn the situation around, either that or find some spare socks or a block of parmesan to stuff into the piehole located on Lauda’s face.

lewis-spinmasterEven McLaren starlet Lewis Hamilton had a torrid time on Sunday afternoon, the Brit who has developed something of a reputation for his skills in wet weather driving the last two seasons, ended up spinning around more times than a ballerina in a version of Swan Lake, well we suppose he would look very pretty in a tutu. Even then he still managed to overtake Kimi on 3 seperate occasions (although don’t quote me on that I had slipped into a comatose state by this stage) and simultaneously mount a serious challenge on Felipe Massa’s all time silverstone-spin record.

The highlight of the race weekend for us, apart from listening to Flavio Briatore’s witticisms, was watching first Nelson Piquet, then Adrian Sutil aquaplaning off track to demolish the 50m and 100m polystyrene braking markers at the side of the track. Not that any of the drivers could probably see them in the first place through all the spray coming off the back of the car in front of them.

Unfortunately poor Adrian had been on course to score some points after a dogged effort up into 6th place, and even overtaking current world champion Lewis Hamilton on one of his many off track excursions. Nelson Piquet Jnr meanwhile looks like he is on course to sign his own F1 death warrant which might be preferable to walking back to the Renault garage and finding out what Flav has got to say on the matter.

sebastien-buemi1Meanwhile Torro Rosso’s Swiss Rookie Sebastien (yes another one) Buemi, yet again had a sterling race, showing up supposedly more experienced former world champions, the Torro Rosso star managing to overtake both Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton at one stage, then proceeded to fight off the attentions of Fernando Alonso who was attempting to inspect his gearbox at close range for several laps. The swiss youngster eventual went onto score a valuable point for the Faenza outfit, bravo!

All in all though, despite the weather and the numerous spins, gravel trap outtings, and Robert Kubica’s car trying to mate with the back of Jarno Trulli’s, the Chinese GP was a pretty dull affair and I suppose we would say that considering our allegiances.

Still here at FFN we are finally hoping for a race when it doesn’t rain as really Ferrari have just about enough to contend with already, and have sent off one of our office staff in search of Ferrari’s famous Weather Cow which was last seen in the sand dunes in the immediate vicinity of the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain in 2008.

We have just about every appendage crossed in the hope that Ferrari finally get some points on the scoreboard this weekend….otherwise we will be in desperate need for some retail therapy, not to mention wanting to affectionately smack Ferrari staff round the back of the head with our keyboards.

Finally yesterday after months of dithering, deliberating, discussing and debating, the day of reckoning that may eventually decide the outcome of the 2009 Formula 1 championship finally arrived.

rory-byrne-in-jolly-old-paris‘Double Diffusorgate Deadline Day’ or DDDD as it will hence forth be affectionately known, saw the FIA finally stop faffing about and were forced at the International Court of Appeal in Paris to clarify the legality or otherwise of the much debated Double Diffusors on the BrawnGP, Williams and Toyota cars.

Despite the best efforts principally of Ferrari’s infamous Lawyer Nigel Tozzi to reduce the usually unperturbable Ross Brawn to tears with a few well placed tongue-lashings (well Tozzi does have a bit of a habit of reducing Formula 1 employees into quivering heaps on previous occasions) , the ICA eventually ruled in the favour of BrawnGP, Williams and Toyota declaring the double diffusor-devices to be completely legal. This is despite the fact seven other F1 teams have disputed that the devices are within the spirit and wording of the sports regulations.

Unfortunately, due to the annually occurring utter incompetence of the FIA to get their rules in some semblance of sense and order, once again we are in a position where the outcome of the sporting season may not actually be decided on track as we suspect it is intended to be, but in a coffee shop over croissants in Paris instead.

names-in-a-hat-pleasePerhaps in future the FIA might want to entertain the idea of writing the teams and drivers names on pieces of paper and pulling the winner out of a top hat and be done with it, not only would it help in the FIA’s overall drive to reduce costs in the sport by having the teams not bothering to actually compete on equal terms, but it might be more environmentally friendly than KERS in the long run with a sheet of A4 paper having a far lower overall carbon impact. Not forgetting how many trees would be saved by not letting the teams design a car in the first place.

Here at FFN being of naturally suspicious nature, we are inclined to believe the sports governing body are doing this on purpose purely for an all expenses day out in the French Capital, as this sort of debacle overshadowing the start of each season seems to be happening with annoying regularity, and in fact with more regularly than a dose of laxatives.

Sufficed to say, the ruling now forces the seven teams that had built their cars within the wording and spirit of the sporting regulations, to either sit back and see the Double Diffusor ‘3’ disappear off into the distance, or force them to spend even more money by adapting the technology to their cars in an attempt to get back on equal footing. Which is a bit farcical to say the least when the Mad Max and Bernie Puppetshow are forever preaching about penny-pinching, while pinching other peoples pennies.

fiaOne has to wonder what is the point of having regulations in the first place if you only go on to give teams carte blanche to completely disregard them anyway? It sets a very dangerous precedent, not least calling into question what is the point of having the FIA at all? (a question many F1 fans have probably been scratching their heads and wondering for years anyway).

Some reading this might be inclined to think it is simply a case of sour grapes (is that vinegar then?) because here at FFN we are somewhat inclined to support Ferrari, whom it just so happens on this occasion at least followed the regulations to the letter.

It is not so much the outcome or result that irks, or that BrawnGP and co could be about to scamper away with the championship pot for being rather clever, but if we wanted to watch court room drama week in week out we’d go and get ourselves a video of LA law, some shoulder pads and a bucket of popcorn instead.

Personally we’d prefer the fighting to be done wheel to wheel on track on equal terms (with the odd occasional punch up and name calling thrown in for good measure), and enjoy the odd car rearranging technical glitch as Nelson Piquet bounces his car off the armco, rather than have to sit through more old farts shouting and waiving bits of paper about in an exaggerated and animated fashion.

It is rumoured that Ferrari will now have to spend in the region of 10-20 million dollars, to redesign the F60 to incorporate the double diffusor device if they wish to compete on equal terms. If reports are to be believed, it is not simply a case of strapping one on and hey presto! It would involve a major redesign of the car including, the floor, rear, gearbox and suspension all which will take time, resources and effort to complete.

Not surprisingly Ferrari’s Team Principal Stefano Domenicali was not best pleased with the ruling, the usually mild mannered and chipper team boss yesterday expressing his discontentment.

ferrari-store1As a result, Ferrari are promptly dispatching their Flying Finn Kimi Raikkonen to London, to officially open the new Ferrari Store on Regent Street on May 6th. It is rumoured the move is intended to generate some much needed cash for the Diffusor fund, by increasing sales in T-shirts, caps and Magnum ice-creams to teenage girls. Do not be alarmed though, we are to understand Kimi won’t actually required to make an opening speech, he will already have quite enough hard work on his plate with cutting a ribbon and having to smile for at least five seconds for the camera, all whilst wearing a strangely oversized cap.

Meanwhile, Ferrari’s other starlet Felipe Massa is reportedly being put on a new exercise regime in the Maranello Gym. The dimunitive Brazilian as we speak is being strapped up to a recumbant bicycle and a dynamo, and being asked to power the Gestione Sportiva and Ferrari Factory by pedal power. The savings on the electricity bill all going to the good cause of helping Ferrari fund a new car.

Even Ferrari President Luca Di Montezemolo will be doing his bit for the cause by considerably cutting down on hairspray, and limiting himself to one stamp per week for firing off written complaints about the current shambolic state of the sport.

poor-baldoIn other news this week, we were shocked to learn that in the aftermath of the disastrous opening rounds of the season for the Scuderia, Ferrari have relocated pitwall poppet, Team Manager and Strategic Chief Luca Baldisserri back to the factory.

It would seem the poor thing has been made the sacrificial scapegoat for the poor start to the season particularly for the strategic decisions at Sepang, and as a result he has been grounded, and is not allowed out to play again until Ferrari have produced a championship challenging car (or until the Italian Media have stopped asking for heads on silver platters).

We can’t help feeling that this is a bit harsh, especially when you consider British Weatherman and Meteorologist Michael Fish couldn’t even predict a Hurricane heading for the coast of Britain back in 1987 after a tip off from a viewer, and he got off with just a rather red face and no official punishment from the BBC.

Baldo will apparently be working closely with Technical Director Aldo Costa (Aldo and Baldo – sounds like a winning formula for a children’s TV show) in a working group created with the sole intention of improving the F60, hopefully giving Felipe and Kimi the best possible chances to compete on level terms with the rest of the rule regarding F1 fraternity.

Chief Race Engineer and Antipodean Chris Dyer meanwhile, will take over the trackside responsibilities of Luca, while he is chained 24/7 to a desk in the design office. We do sincerely hope he has been given enough leeway to actually make it back and forth to the toilet and expresso machine.

We wish Chris the best of luck in taking over the hot seat so to speak, and sincerely hope he doesn’t find himself getting his weather predictions or tyre selections slightly wrong, otherwise Ferrari could end up with an empty pitwall by the end of the season.

You really do have to hand it to F1 team Vodaphone McLaren Mercedes. No other team in the history of the sport have managed to repeatedly get themselves into quite so much hot water as the Woking based squad, without actually employing the nefarious talents of one Michael Schumacher (Scandalmeister) and that is quite an accomplishment in itself.

At least not in all the years I have been watching the sport, and since I’m told I have the memory of a goldfish perhaps that doesn’t really count for a whole lot.

This week McLaren have managed to embroil themselves in yet another FIA related saga, this time as a result of telling a few innocent fibs to the race stewards about events that transpired towards the end of the season opener in Melbourne.

dave-ryan-and-lewis-hamil-001If we are to believe recent media reports, McLaren’s Sporting Director Dave Ryan took it upon himself to embellish events somewhat in the Steward’s presence forcing World Champion Lewis Hamilton to corroborate his version of events against his will and better judgement, and all for the sake of one measly championship point and a peanut bowl platter. (Although we suspect half of Ferrari might sell their respective grandmothers right now for aforementioned measly point not to mention the peanuts of course).

As a result Toyota’s Jarno Trulli was demoted to fourth place with a post race 25 second penalty, handing the shiny platter to McLaren’s World Champion.

Unfortunately, it would seem McLaren didn’t reckon on the old farts of the Federation Idiots and Amateurs actually listening to any post race media interviews, let alone having a good old earwig into McLaren’s radio communications with their ear trumpets.

Evidently the governing body discovered (after plowing through hours of Happy Heikki warbling Abba’s Greatest Hits) evidence that contradicted the statements made by Lucky Linda (I mean Lewis) and his Sporting Director Dave Ryan (although we feel perhaps ‘unsporting’ is probably a more applicable job title all things considered).

Sufficed to say the hapless duo were called back before the Stewards at Malaysia and asked to account for themselves, even after listening to the contradictory evidence we are to understand they continued to pull the chain of the FIA race stewards, if recent media reports are to be believed.

McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh immediately leapt to the defence of his driver and team, declaring to anyone who would listen that no-one at McLaren had told any pork-pies and he really hadn’t got the foggiest what the FIA were whittering on about. No Honestly. Deja vu anyone?

lucky-linda-squirming24 hours later, Lucky Linda (I mean Lewis) was squirming like a maggot on a fish hook in front of the world’s media admitting to lying, but we are to understand it doesn’t count because his Sporting Director Dave Ryan made him do it, presumably under threat of stealing his penny sweets and pocket money.

Of course being the caring, sharing, no-blame culture that the modern McLaren is (as we were informed just a few short weeks ago) the team summarily sent their Sporting Director packing, although under the new caring culture they continued to happily employ 3 ex-spygate scandalists, so there is still hope for poor misunderstood Dave yet.

Yesterday events took a more serious turn, when the FIA announced it was cordially inviting Vodaphone McLaren Mercedes to a soiree in Paris on the 29th April, to enjoy a buffet lunch, some bottled fizzy water and a friendly get together for a frank and polite exchange of opinions regarding the meaning of article 151(c) of the international sporting code. RSVP.

rsvp2For those of you (unlikely I know given recent events) wanting to know what this article 151(c) is all about, let us explain.

In a nutshell it is a catch-all clause in the governing bodies regulations, that should anyone do anything to compromise the illusion that all is fair in love and F1 (barring the odd controversial race stewards decision or three and a few illegal/legal/illegal diffusors), then they shall be invited to Paris for a day or two and made to grovel cap in hand to the WMSC for a lenient punishment and pay for the pleasure.

Anyone found not to be grovelling quite as much as deemed necessary, we understand are duty bound to receive 30 lashes with a cat-o-nine-tails and whatever else the FIA hand out for punishment these days.

Some newspapers are suggesting that McLaren may at worst be excluded altogether from the world championship for 2009 for bringing the sport into disrepute, or at least receive a few race bans and even possibly a huge financial fine (as the FIA has already spent the last one on road safety campaigns, icecreams and day trips to the seaside).

Rumours have begun to emerge that Lewis and his Manager/Father/Principal Cheerleader are not best happy with how things are going at McLaren, particularly the damage done to Lewis’s reputation as a result of the ‘Liegate Scandal’ and his subsequent fall from grace in the eyes of the fickle British ‘Love Button’ Media.

hamilton-snrAlthough personally we felt floating about like a PR fairy on a highwire is as damaging as it can ever get for one’s reputation when it comes to grown men.

It is rumoured the Brit may be intent on leaving the team that has supported, financed and developed his career since he was 13, some skeptics have suggested that the latest turn or events might serve as a smokescreen to hide the fact Lewis is already bored of driving the MP4-slowathon and is hankering after a drive at BrawnGP (presumably over Rubens Barrichello’s dead body).

Good to see team loyalty is alive and thriving in Woking, but then we wouldn’t want to hang around Woking for too long either…..and not just for fear of an imminent P45 (marching orders).

At least this latest scandal to rock the sport, makes a change from the 20 times-a-yearly stories of Alonso going to Ferrari that seem to have been bandied about since the Jurassic period began, and probably still rumbling on long after I’m dead, buried and been eaten by a few garden worms.

What we really want to know is what do ‘gates’ have to do with anything? Have you ever noticed that anytime the sport is engulfed in a storm in a teacup, immediately a ‘gate’ is brought into the equation?

First we had ‘Spygate’ although we don’t actually recall any missing ‘gates’ being reported in the immediate vicinity of Maranello when Nigel Stepney was a very naughty boy, and for that matter we don’t remember anyone spying through one either.

Now we have ‘Liegate’…and not a wooden strutt, fence or beam in sight. You can see why we are somewhat baffled and bemused here at FFN.

Just in case you were beginning to wonder why on earth you hadn’t heard a peep out of us here at FFN all weekend, there has been a very good reason.

Unfortunately we still haven’t see the Malaysian Grand Prix. This calamity is not due to the fact our pitcrew were unable to bring us a white visor so we could actually see through the torrential downpours at Sepang like FelipebabyTM, but due to a small technical glitch at FFN HQ.

It would seem in his infinite wisdom my elder brother decided to replace my television, with one of these new fangled widescreen digital affairs, thus far we have only just cottoned on how to use the red button to watch free practice let alone got to grips with how to actually record from the infernal device.

My attempts to hook up the video recorder to record the race while I went out to earn FFN cat her biscuits, were doomed to failure, only compounded by the fact I got home and managed to missed the replay as well. Much to the derision of FFN cat who by now was chewing on the TV aerial with great relish.

Understandably we are most miffed at missing out on what turned out to be an exhilirating and edge-of-the-seat type wet weather debacle, our only consolation is that while we didn’t get to see the Malaysian GP, the people actually in the stands at Sepang who paid a fortune for the priviledge didn’t get to see much of it either and got a good drenching to boot.

ferrari-pitwall-sepang1We are reliably informed it was a race where the tactical mastery of Uncle Ross Brawn brought home a second win in a row for Jenson Button despite 4 pitstops, and the tactical mastery of Michael Schumacher (allegedly) brought an end to Kimi Raikkonen’s chances of scoring points by having the flying Finn sent out on a dry track with wet tyres.

Ferrari presumably thought it was going to rain sooner than it was……but given their recent history in weather predictions they might want to actually leap off the pitwall and wait until they actually feel some precipitation before jumping to rash decisions about equipping their drivers in full scuba-diving gear.

So it seems a second race in a row and our beloved Scuderia are doing their very best to be obliging and share out the points to all those teams they spent the last 10 years depriving of any, by shooting themselves resoundingly in both feet and then reloading for good measure.

We can only hope they will come to their senses sooner or later, as here at FFN we don’t know if we can bear seeing Force India above Ferrari in the championship standings for much longer.

According to Ferrari’s team principal Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari’s rather vocal President Luca Di Montezemolo is not a happy bunny. We bet he looks a picture with a fluffy tail and a pair of rabbit ears, not to mention a face stormier than the Malaysian skyline…if only we had a camera….

McLaren’s World Champion (and ex-british media darling) Lewis Hamilton reportedly secured a point (despite an earlier spin in the wet stuff), although whether he will still have it by the end of the week is anyone’s guess, as you know the FIA may want to remove it from his sticky mitts on account that he is allegedly a close family relative of the much loved Disney Character Pinocchio.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, if current reports are to be believed, is firmly standing by his decision to move the Malaysian GP to a twilight setting, and thought the torrential offering was a great show, well no doubt he would say that because he was probably watching from under an 18 carat gold golfing umbrella and munching on popcorn while the rest of the paddock were doing their best impressions of the humble goldfish and swimming about the pitlane.

Sincerest apologies about the lapse in service, I am sending FFN cat out to buy a digital recording device this afternoon, I just hope she doesn’t do a Kimi and come back with an icecream and can of coke instead.

Courtesy of http://www.TheRatter.com

Link to Story

Everyone Disqualified from Australian GP except Adrian Sutil

….. is an outcome of the 2009 Australian Grand Prix which is entirely possible according to The Ratter™.

Nothing has changed in Formula 1 for this season – you still have to wait until the Thursday of the week following the race to find out who was on the flippin’ podium, and even then that might not be the final race result.

lewiscamYes, today’s news is that Britain’s Lewis Hamilton™ and McLaren have been disqualified from the Oz race result because they “……acted in a manner prejudicial to the conduct of the event by providing evidence deliberately misleading to the Stewards at the hearing on Sunday 29th March……” , which is the longest translation of the word “fib” that we’ve ever seen here at The Ratter™ offices. Who’d have thought it…….McLaren……….caught fibbing…….. tch!

Well we won’t explain it all here because to be honest we don’t understand it yet and besides, Autosport will do it more concisely, accurately and seriously anyway, but – given that the decision as to the legality of other cars’ diffusers is currently pending (unless it gets disqualified too) , there is a real possibilty that Adrian Sutil could be the eventual winner of the 2009 Australian Grand Prix.

Here’s our reasoning…….

aussie-gp-classification

Ahead of the second round of the 2009 Formula 1 championship in Sepang Malaysia, the subject very much still at the forefront of everyone’s mind is the controversial diffusors on the Williams, Toyota and BrawnGP cars.

jordanNaturally, if you’re a certain Irish ex-Formula 1 team owner from Jordan/TV Pundit that goes by the moniker of Eddie Jordan (or Mrs. Branson on a race weekend allegedly) then were actually talking about Confusors whatever they might be.

Which considering the headache this will be giving the sports governing body the FIA in Paris on the Tuesday following the Malaysian GP, might be quite an appropriate freudian slip if ever there was one.

The entities in question located at the rear of the F1 car, are used to channel airflow under the rear of the car to increase overall downforce, it is thought the clever double-decker solution on Brawn GP and co’s vehicular offerings could add as much as an extra 15% downforce which in turn improves the car’s handling and speed.

It is no wonder then given the relative performance of the cars belonging to these 3 very naughty sets of boys, that the rest of the paddock are champing at the bit for the FIA to clarify the regulations on them.

This week it has emerged that 5 out of the 7 teams that believe BrawnGP and co’s solutions to be contravening the wording and spirit of the technical regulations, have already set to work building their own double-deckers (just to clarify diffusors and not London Buses).

Unfortunately it would seem that matter is not quite as straightforward for some teams as it is others, with Ferrari for example reportedly having to design a whole new car to fit one on. Quality German publication of choice ‘Bild’ this week reports that the Maranello squad are set to spend somewhere in the region of 20 Million Euros building a ‘B spec’ F60 in an attempt to overcome their performance deficit.

sleeping-kimiAlthough we can’t help but wonder if the 20 million might be better spent bribing official tyre supplier Bridgestone to build some Ferrari specific tyres for a change, and a few packets of pro plus to keep Kimi Raikkonen awake for the length of an entire race distance.

It is thought the ‘B spec’ Ferrari charger will take somewhere in the region of two months to complete and may be ready to hit the track somewhere around the time of the Turkish Grand Prix, assuming that BrawnGP, Toyota or Williams haven’t already won the title and swanned off on their post season jollies.

According to Ferrari’s President Luca Montezemolo, the team are suffering somewhat from a hangover. Unfortunately not due to consumption of large quantities of Chianti like can sometimes happen here at FFN, but from the efforts they put into their 2008 title campaign.

montyReportedly both 2008 title protagonists McLaren and Ferrari were so intent on their title campaigns for last season, they are several months behind in their development of this years car in comparison to their pitlane rivals.

Late last night Ferrari’s official spokesman Luca Colajanni was unavailable for comment (on account he was allegedly tucked up safely in bed composing his next literary masterpiece), and therefore we were unable to obtain any clarification on mysterious reports suggesting Ferrari are intent on building a carbon copy of the BrawnGP car, including 1980’s fluorescent yellow go-faster stripes and matching socks, albeit with a bit more red paint and a few ‘made in Maranello’ stickers haphazardly slung in for good measure.

The next few weeks it would seem are going to be a busy time for the FIA, which will teach them in future for being rather vague and waffly when it comes to writing their own rules and regulations (ok perhaps we are being slightly over-optimistic on this score). Not that they can probably remember what they have written, if recent events regarding points systems is anything to go by.

It is also reported that the FIA Race Stewards will be reconvening today at 1pm in Malaysia to reopen an investigation into the Lewis Hamilton-Jarno Trulli incident that took place in the dying laps of the Australian Grand Prix. Both drivers have been apparently been summoned to appear before the Race Stewards in Sepang.

Not that we were actually watching the race at this point, as we were more than likely crying into our morning cornflakes as a result of Ferrari’s dismal performance. But the incident apparantly saw Jarno Trulli overtaking the world champion under the safety car, which we all know is frowned upon and usually results in the guilty party receiving a sharp rap across the knuckles from the Race Stewards, when Max Mosley is otherwise engaged of course.

In this particular case, Jarno had his champagne snatched from his sticky fingers, his shiny peanut dish confiscated and was summarily and shamefully demoted to 4th place in the final results classification by default handing 3rd place to Lucky Linda…..I mean Lewis.

It is understood the investigation has been reopened following allegations that Lewis Hamilton told an entirely different version of events to the SpeedTV media outlet, shortly before going into the FIA race control and telling yet another version of events.

lucky-lindaAuto, Motor und Sport revealed that Hamilton initially told the race stewards investigating the incident that he slowed down to read the safety car instructions on his steering wheel, and it was then that Jarno allegedly overtook him.

However, after reviewing their data it now transpires that at this point in proceedings the safety car instructions would have long been cleared from Lucky Linda’s dashboard and the FIA are not best amused at being told porky pies (lies – for those of you unversed in cockney rhyming slang).

The Trulli trains’ version of events suggested that Jarno only overtook Hamilton on account that the McLaren driver pulled to the side of the road and to all intents of purposes looked to be having some sort of problem with his car (aside from the fact its uninspiringly grey and allegedly slower than a Ferrari on a bad day).

The FIA have requistioned the appropriate radio traffic for the investigation (lets hope they haven’t mistakenly picked out a copy of Kimi snoring) and are set to give the Brit a good grilling, although we are not too sure if a barbecue actually comes into the equation…..

If the investigation finds in Trulli’s favour he will be reinstated back to 3rd minus the champagne, and there may be serious repercussions for Lucky Linda…..stay tuned for the next thrilling installment of F1 the soap opera!

helmut-markoRed Bull’s appropriately named Motorsports Advisor Helmut Marko has today go on record saying that Sebastien Buemi’s strong debut performance in the Australian Grand Prix, where the swiss youngster secured 7th place bringing home 2 valuable points, is vindication of Torro Rosso’s decision to give the youngster a Formula 1 drive alongside Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais (or as we like to think of him Sebastien Bad Day – due to his tempestuous F1 career to date).

According to Mr.Hard Hat, he had to fight hard to convince many skeptics that the Swiss Youngster was able to make the step up from the GP2 feeder series. Although this might come as startling news to some F1 pundits, who believe the main and solitary criteria for occupying the Torro Seat starts with “S” and ends in “ebastien.” never mind whether you can pedal a motor vehicle or not.

buemiThe Swiss youngster was keen to point out to any journalist within a 50 foot square radius (although that’s probably a contradiction in terms squares can’t be round), that those critics who said he wasn’t ready for the step up into the elite pantheon of the Motorsport Gods simply didn’t know the first thing about motor racing. Not that this factor has stopped a journalist before you understand, or anyone else for that matter when taken with the urge to spout forth.

By now all the Formula 1 teams will have arrived in Sepang, Malaysia and begun unpacking and setting up garage ahead of the second round of the F1 calendar which takes place this weekend.

The Ferrari team are keen to bounce back after the disappointment of Melbourne, and have reportedly been working hard to try and improve their performance and avoid an embarrassing repeat of last Sunday. (Perhaps Ferrari might want to remind Felipe not to repeat his 2008 Malaysian Experience, while they are at it).

It is understood the Maranello based team are investigating a relationship between the KERS system and the high rear tyre degradation rate they suffered at the Australian GP. Despite those concerns, the team will apparantly be using the KERS system again in Malaysia, no doubt to get off to a flying start at the first corner, only to have to pit at the end of lap one for a new set of boots.

Meanwhile Bridgestone have just made Ferrari’s week, by confirming that they are bringing soft tyres to Malaysia, a compound which has never previously been used at the Sepang circuit. According to those in the know, this is an FIA directive to “spice” up the show. Although we are a little concerned going by the results so far, if the tifosi can take much more “spice” without their heads imploding and creating an almighty mess on the pit straight.

While the teams and fans are mulling over what this latest turn in developments may mean in Sepang, especially with rain predicted this weekend, Williams Driver Nico ‘Britney’ Rosberg has revealed his lifelong fear of the dark.

flappy-blonde-maneAccording to the perfectly coifed one from Germany, Finland, Iceland, Bulgaria, Papua New Guinea or wherever he happens to live this week in his attempts to avoid partaking in the joys of National service, he is most alarmed about the increasing number of twilight races being scheduled into the Formula 1 calendar.

The Williams star claims that the visibility during this twilight period is dangerous, and highlights that during the Australian GP on Sunday he was unable to see the edge of the race track, which surely should come as little surprise considering he hasn’t seen a hairdresser in the best part of 10 years. We wouldn’t be able to see a darn thing with a great big yellow mane flapping about in our faces either.

According to the young Rosberg, driving when there are so many shadows about is very dangerous. Although we would have thought the current crop of F1 stars would be used to it by now, given that they all seem to have been born with sunglasses surgically attached to their faces.

the-fly1It is reportedly the norm on a Thursday afternoon to see the odd F1 pilot stumbling about the paddock completely disorientated desperately trying to find his way to the FIA press conference on time lest he gets fined $10,000 for not showing his face, but spotting an F1 driver not doing an impression of a Fly……don’t be silly.

Don’t worry Nico your secret fear of the dark is safe with us, we wouldn’t reveal it to anyone, pretty much like we didn’t reveal Felipe Massa’s fear of clean underpants, Fernando Alonso’s Hamilton-a-phobia, Jenson Button’s fear of razors or Norbert Haug’s fear of starving to death.

Sweet Dreams…

Courtesy of http://www.TheRatter.com

Link to Story

stefanodom1Yes, it’s official, the prophets of Doom have announced that Ferrari’s 2009 season is officially over.

Following a disappointing season opener for the team in Melbourne on Sunday, the Italian press were quick to point out that they singularly failed (twice) to get maximum points or indeed seal both World Championships on their first showing.

Ferrari were plagued with reliability issues, a lack of pace and grip, some interesting on-track manoeuvres from its star drivers and a strategy that would have been perfect if it had been used during the 1996 Belgian Grand Prix and not the 2009 Australian Grand Prix.

The Tifosi (well the ones who moan a lot) blame Stefano Domenicali (pictured in the huff – above) because blaming the bloke at the top (or demanding he be replaced with immediate effect) always solves problems in sport right?

However, Domenicali (43) places the blame for Ferrari’s woes squarely at the door of Felipe Massa, the diminuitive Brazilian who nearly stuck it to Britain’s Lewis Hamilton™ last season in a gripping season finale at his home race – but for the superbly executed reversing skills of Timo Glock…..

“Isa the stupid leetle beard – is bad luck” said Stefano when pressed on his reasoning. The bespectacled Ferrari Director is referring of course to the chin fairy’s recent handywork which resulted in the appearance of the half-finished appendage currently hanging from the laughing gear of the plucky yet vertically challenged Ferrari driver.

beard1Many paranoid F1 speculators with nothing better to do however have said that Domenicali’s protest is a smokescreen as Felipe’s “beard” is the subject of much controversy in the paddock at present. It is believed that his ridiculous “Zorro/renaissance painter” face fungus has an illegal design. Unlike Jenson Button’s slapdash affair, it is believed that Felipe’s carefully crafted crumb catcher controvenes FIA regulations as regards cockpit aerodynamics and creates unsanctioned downforce by channeling the air from his nostrils illegally down the back of his neck and into his Special Edition “Teste-rossa” Boxer shorts (see picture right). These “Rear Diffusers” of Felipe’s are currently being probed by the FIA at the time of writing and we expect them to make a firm decision about it sometime in July (the next scheduled FIA “long week-end in Paris”) when the weather’s warmer and Max has finished sueing everybody from last year and can play golf again.

During the meanwhilst, Ferrari will be understandably nervous going into this week-end’s race in Malaysia as the pressure mounts for the team to put in a good performance but more importantly,with temperatures often in the mid 40s at the Sepang circuit, you really need good airflow in your underpants!

“They were good in winter testing, but I really needed a pair that ‘cooled the jewels’ for Malaysia” said the tiny little Scuderia driver. “My beard may look bloody funny to you but I need all the airflow I can get down there” continued the pint sized pilot.

If BrawnGP continue their dominance in the desert however, I think Stefano might be buying “ickle Felipe” a Braun of his own – one with an attached nasal trimmer and a 5 year guarantee.

oz-gp-go-go-goNo doubt as you are probably aware by now (given the inordinate length of time it has taken me to dispose of the FFN cat off my laptop keyboard to sit down to write) that this weekend past was the opening round of the 2009 F1 season in Melbourne Australia.

Albert Park located just a few kilometres south of the city of Melbourne, had the auspicious task of hosting what turned out to be a fairytale and nightmare all rolled into one.

The BrawnGP team (formerly Honda), who once were on the receiving end of more than their fair share of stick for building cars that made wayward supermarket trolleys seem a drivers dream, got off to a dream start by not only securing pole position during Qualifying but then going on to dominate the race with a fairytale 1-2 result. Englishman Jenson Button securing only his second ever race win ahead of teammate Rubens ‘Did I tell you I hate Ferrari’ Barrichello.

Sufficed to say, the team couldn’t quite believe it, and neither could the rest of the paddock who immediately shot off to their garages to think up imaginary complaints to the FIA. Not that there were many left to make after the deluge that poured through the FIA’s letterbox by the end of Qualifying.

In fact the governing body taking the strange action of only announcing the official starting grid for the race 1 hour before it was due to take place, presumably it taking them that long to wade through the neverending and increasingly ridiculous retaliatory complaints submitted by teams.

sam-michael-williamsIn fact by the end some teams were submitting then retracting complaints, because they couldn’t even remember what they were protesting in the first place. We understand though that Williams strongly objected to Ferrari for eating Pepperoni Pizza on Friday night, and objected to Red Bull for putting too much taurine in their popular soft drink. But in the interests of the sport they retracted the complaint, although they hoped the FIA would pop over to Ferrari and investigate what Pasta they would be serving Sunday Lunchtime.

The race result itself for BrawnGP was particularly remarkable when you consider they had a semi-bungled pitstop in the dying laps of the race, Rubens Barrichello taking an impromptu nap off the startline and letting half the field past, followed by his penchant for spending the rest of the afternoon trying to drive through other F1 cars and not around them.

a-victim-of-the-barrichello-brawlThe BrawnGP driver took out an impressive four rivals cars in the first corner alone, leaving Mark Webber, Happy Kovaleinen, Nick Heidfeld and Adrian Sutil all scuttling back to the pitlane for repairs or retirement and all without incurring the slightest penalty from the Stewards. Even Maestro Michael Schumacher himself would have been in awe of that one.

We can only presume Rubens who is now the oldest member of the F1 driver fraternity, has taken over the mantle from its previous encumbant David Crash-Magnet Coulthard. The little Brazilian it would seem is firmly intent on winning a title now that he has a decent car, in fact any title, and from what we have seen thus far we can only presume he is gunning for the world record in dodgem racing.

Ferrari were unfortunately handed a masterclass on a plate by their previous Technical Director Bananaman Brawn, the Maranello squad were left with red faces (blending in seamlessly with their red shirts of course), after a disastrous start to their Championship challenge.

Things all started out well enough, with both of the Ferrari driving duo getting off the start grid well and gaining places on their rivals thanks to the KERS system and the soft tyres. Initially all went well, and it looked like Ferrari had pulled off a strategic masterstroke with Felipe Massa up into 3rd place and Kimi chasing down BMW-Sauber’s Robert Kubica from 5th place.

felipe2However, within a few laps it all went horribly wrong, the degradation on the tyres on the Ferrari’s being such, that the Scarlet clad chargers became strongly reminiscent of an ambling tortoise. The Ferrari pitwall were embarrassingly forced to pit both drivers way to early to change the troublesome rubber rings located on the corners of the car.

Williams Japanese driver Kazuki Nakajima even selflessly attempted to even things up a bit in Ferrari’s favour, by unexpectedly parking his car at high speed into a barrier at turn 3, eventually tempting the safety car out once it’s designated driver had finished the crossword in the Times and enjoyed a round of Ham and Cheese Deltoids (sandwiches).

The emergence of the safety car allowed the field to close up behind Jenson Button who had reportedly been not far off finishing the championship, enjoying his champagne and buying himself a yacht with his winnings.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa meanwhile was evidently sick to the back teeth of his tyres misbehaving, the usually sunny little Brazilian doing his darnedest to flat spot them and get another 4, unfortunately more of the same awaited him back in the Ferrari Garage. Mores the pity.

piquetAfter the safety car had peeled off and the race was back on, Renault’s Nelson Piquet improved his pitlane reputation no end by tussling with Williams Nico Rosberg and unceremoniously sliding straight off track into the nearest gravel trap. According to the Brazilian his brakes failed at a vital moment leaving him floundering in the kitty litter (hope there were no unmentionables), although here at FFN we strongly suspect you could replace brakes with the word ‘brain’ and you’d not be far wrong.

As if the lack of performance and tyre degradation issues were not enough to be going on with at Ferrari, a rather baffling 3 stop strategy which we can only presume was to trim Felipe’s ferocious facial fuzz, pretty much put paid to the afternoon’s proceedings. Adding insult to injury, a broken suspension in the dying laps of the race meaning Felipe was out of the race and out of the points in Australia for the second year in a row.

Rumour has it Ferrari’s team boss Stefano Domenicali had to keep frantically double checking the date on the pitwall calendar to reassure himself it wasn’t 2008 all over again, either that or Groundhog day. Still Stefano should thank his lucky stars his alarm clock didn’t get rather confused over British Summertime and drag him out of bed to watch the Grand Prix at 4am instead of 6am really.

By the end of it all, really was it any wonder the usually unperturbable Kimbot had enough and decided to try and retire himself from proceedings, clipping the barrier and damaging his differentials, which I can’t help thinking sounds a tad on the painful side. Unfortunately for Kimi, even that didn’t go according to plan leaving the Finn doing his best impression of Mark Webber (sorry, bad joke) and limping around at the back of the pack for the remainder of the race.

the-semiautomatic-machine-gun-goes-hereWe understand that Ferrari chief car designer, Nick Tombazis was last spotted storming at high speed into the Ferrari Motorhome, allegedly the talented Greek was overheard muttering about incorporating Challenger Tank Tracks and a gun turret into the 2010 car instead of having to endure another season of being bested by those pesky round black Bridgestone affairs.

A few laps later, back on track BMW-Sauber’s Robert Kubica had caught up with Red Bull’s Sebastien Vettel, both drivers seemingly so intent on securing 2nd position and not yielding an inch, they took each other out of the race in spectacular fashion.

Unconfirmed rumours have suggested that it wasn’t really Sebastien Vettel’s fault, despite the fact the popular little German skipped off to BMW-Sauber to politely apologise, bless his cotton socks. Was it purely coincidental that the Red Bull starlet was spotted earlier in the weekend wearing what can only be described as 7 times World Champion Michael Schumacher’s shorts?

schumachers-undercrackers1All these years Ferrari Legend Michael has been on the receiving end of some particularly unfair flak from the British Media for his on track ruthlessness, win at all costs attitude and apparent arrogance, when all the time it was a pair of chequered undercrackers that were evilly masterminding the punting off of rivals willy-nilly in championship title deciding moments. Poor Michael, just goes to show you never really know a man. There is hope for Lewis Hamilton yet then.

Anyway before we start whittering away nineteen to the dozen about current paddock fads and fashions and global domination, we should conclude that predictably the BrawnGP duo led home a dominant dream 1-2 result, much to the delight of the flaxen haired and toothy new team sponsor Virgin’s Entrepreneur Richard Branston Pickle, and to the obvious relief and delight of Uncle Ross Bananaman Brawn.

Much to the dismay of everyone else of course, as subsequently the BrawnGP team have admitted there is much more to come (heavens forbid), and presumably every other team in the paddock is having to work their socks off 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in order to remotely keep up.

One does have to wonder though just exactly what the FIA race stewards were doing on Sunday afternoon, as we strongly suspect they weren’t actually watching the race at all.

After failing to give Ruben’s Barrichello a good rap over the knuckles for his numerous avoidable incidents, and demoting Jarno Trulli from 3rd place effectively handing the trophy to McLaren’s World Champion Lewis Hamilton (who we grudgingly admit drove a stellar race from the rear of the grid to claim a handful of points), rather puzzlingly the FIA saw fit to punish little Sebastien, but not for dispatching Robert Kubica onto the grass verges minus a wheel.

The FIA slapped the German with a 10 place grid slot penalty and a 50,000 euro fine for not getting his car off track quickly enough after the initial incident. According to the FIA regulations it was a breach of safety, which does beg the question what the one-man-demolition-darby who also goes by the moniker of Mr.Barrichello is classed as.

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, and the FIA are well….I’ll leave you to figure that out.

As suspected, Thursday morning of the opening weekend of the Grand Prix season in Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia was a flurry of activity.

catwalk-model-kimiWhile the drivers were chatting away merrily in the FIA press conference or happily getting their official photo taken (fetchingly demonstrated by stunning catwalk model Kimi Raikkonen inset), BMW-Sauber, Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault were frenetically submitting official protests to the sports governing body the FIA over the controversial and innovative design of the diffusors on rival teams’ cars, notably that of the Williams, Toyota and BrawnGP.

Within minutes BMW-Sauber’s protest was thrown out on the grounds they did not submit it within one hour of scrutineering, presumably because Nick Heidfeld’s new best friend kept eating the paper and hiding the pencils and generally aping about much to the annoyance of Super Mario.

However Renault, Red Bull and Ferrari all got their own way, leaving the poor FIA technical delegation crawling around on the garage floor like children at kindergarten for half the afternoon, inspecting the rear ends of the cars in question.

It seems the protests though have amounted to nothing, as just a few hours ago, the FIA threw out the protests and confirmed that as far as they were concerned the devices were perfectly legal….but then haven’t we been here, done that and bought the t-shirt when it came to mass dampers? And we all remember how that saga ended.

scrutineeringIt is presumed that the teams protesting will not be happy to leave matters there and may protest the race result on Sunday (if either BrawnGP, Toyota or Williams win) taking the matter to the FIA Court of Appeal (at least they provide a nice spread of cucumber sandwiches, sausage rolls and fizzy pop no expense spared).

Former Ferrari favourite Uncle Ross (looking resplendently grey in his new Henri Lloyd ensemble) was quick to point out that the only reason Ferrari have protested is because they have fallen out of bed in shock that someone is quicker than them, and also intimated they wouldn’t be in this mess if they had actually learned to read the regulations for themselves. Saucer of Milk at table two. Sufficed to say Uncle Ross might not be quite so popular as previously thought in Maranello this week.

In Ferrari’s defence we do feel that the lengthy FIA rules and regulations are in fact the perfect cure for insomnia if ever there was one, so really is it any wonder the Italians nodded off over their hot chocolate before ever getting to the end.

vision-in-greyScurrulous circulating rumours in Melbourne have suggested that Ferrari are so incensed by the whole debacle they have sent a formal notice down the pitlane to the BrawnGP garage, asking Uncle Ross to return his official limited edition Ferrari Parmesan Cheese Grater and Vintage 2006 bottle of balsamic vinegar.

Meanwhile Ferrari’s Felipe Massa has been sharing his little gems of wisdom with the media in the official FIA press conference, discussing such subjects as KERS, the new front wings, his chances for the season and who he thinks will be lining up to driver for the Scuderia next.

One journalist asked the Brazilian poppet how he would feel sharing a garage with Lewis Hamilton, who we understand has set tongues wagging by announcing that he would pleased to learn if rival teams were interested in him.

As is always the case in F1, a simple innocent statement flies around the paddock three times, and before you know it Lewis Hamilton has packed his bags, bought a Villa on Lake Como and declared a penchant for Pasta Pillows all based on the rumour of an alleged performance deficit at his beloved McLaren.

hamiltonWhat may come as a little bit of a shock to the McLaren star, is that there is a lengthy list of drivers ahead of him in the queue for a seat at the Scuderia, not withstanding his good friend Fernando Alonso, Robert Kubica, Nico Rosberg, Sebastien Vettel and anyone else that has ever shown a fancy for wearing red, today Felipe let slip that his father may even be in the frame for the job. Although we do think it might be a tight squeeze getting him into the cockpit of Kimi’s car (especially with the Finn sleeping inside). Perhaps Ferrari might consider employing Felipe’s mum as Chief Designer and kill two birds with one stone while they are at it.

They do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and to this effect it seems that former World Champion and Renault star Fernando Alonso seems hell bent on following in the footsteps of Ferrari President Luca Di Montezemolo. The Spaniard has been spotted waving his arms around and talking rather animatedly in the paddock, anytime the merest mention of Bernie Ecclestone is uttered.

According to reports, the Double World Champion has insisted that it is about time the Formula 1 Supremo, got off his soapbox and actually listened to those involved in the sport before running off half-cock with stupid and ill-advised rule changes to the FIA. Our dear friend from Asturias in recent times seeming to have promoted himself to the role of ambassador for sport, in the absence of any sense emitting from anyone else aged over 25 in the paddock.

nicks-new-friendWe can’t help wondering however if Fernando might have more luck selling ice to Eskimos or even encouraging Nick Heidfeld‘s new best friend to compose the entire works of Shakespeare on a manual typewriter, given that Bernard has reportedly admitted this week “Everything I have done, I have done for myself or for the company I run. I have never done it thinking it could be good for somebody else”.

Has the world of F1 finally gone to pot? Why the deuces is Force India’s Adrian Sutil figure skating up and down the pitlane like Peter Pan? Will Mark Webber ever defrost in time for Sunday? Will Ferrari’s Team Principal Stefano Domenicali ever succeed in getting that grubby stain off Felipe’s chin? Will FFN ever write a serious and intelligent article? Stay tuned to find out more….

3 days and counting…..

Well here we are again. Only five more days to go until the start of the 2009 Formula 1 season, and we are still no nearer having the first darned clue about what to expect for the opening race of the season in Melbourne.

mark-webberUnfortunately our usual pitlane clairvoyant Red Bull’s Mark Webber has been remarkably quiet of late, and we cant help fearing that whilst he was hobbling about healing his broken leg in a cryogenic chamber over the course of the winter, his crystal ball has succumbed to a fatal case of frostbite. Ouch.

One thing however is certain, that Formula 1 will continue on for the time being with the old points system. Unfortunately the governing body, the FIA, have ended up this week rather red faced after craftily trying to sneak through a controversial new points system, only to be amusingly defeated by the legality of their own small print. It would seem the old farts at the FIA didn’t reckon on anyone at FOTA actually having the first darn clue about the rules and regulations, let alone the ability to read.

Given that the teams spend every waking moment trying their darnedest to exploit the rules and regulations to gain advantage over their rivals, we suspect you couldn’t even pass off a fart in the F1 paddock without someone catching on to the fact and exploiting it.

FIA 0 – FOTA 1.

Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, has however assured the world that the controversial points system will be enforced from 2010, so the reprieve is only temporary unless FOTA can find ways to permanently put a spanner in proceedings, and we wouldn’t put it past them.

melbourneAll the teams have now arrived in Melbourne ahead of the first race of the season on Sunday, and as usual all the drivers and teams have been talking about their chances for the title.

If we are to believe the vast array of news reports and articles on the matter, there is to be a 19 man/car tie for the championship, with only the ever constant Kimi Raikkonen calmly stating like clockwork he doesn’t know what his chances are, and refusing to elaborate any further.

We can only think its going to be a rather crowded podium celebration come Abu Dhabi in November, and perhaps that’s the real reason all the drivers have been desperately losing weight throughout the winter so they can all squeeze en masse into one tight spot to pick up the winners trophy.

Ferrari Team Boss Stefano Domenicali meanwhile it seems has intimated that this season is a very important one for the flying Finn, and Kimi is apparently intelligent enough to know as much.

Presumably this roughly translates as Stefano lighting a rather large petrol-fuelled Shell-branded bonfire under the Finn’s posterior regions, the real question is not whether Kimi is intelligent to know it, but whether he actually gives two figs worth of notice or actually just carries on as normal in his own inimitable way while the rest of the universe is going to rack and ruin.

icecool-kimiIf that isn’t pressure enough for the Ice-cool-cardboard-cut-out Kimi, former World Champion Michael Schumacher will be attending the opening two races of the season in his role as Ferrari team advisor (although exactly what he actually advises about we still have no idea).

Historically, this hasn’t always been a recipe for success for the Finn, as when the German Superstar has attended previously, Kimi’s car has mysteriously suffered a case of the hissy-fits on more than one occasion. Not that we are insinuating that Schumacher has been up to anything dubious or sinister of course….as if he would.…the man is virtually a saint.

But Kimi might want to insist on a few last minute checks with his race engineer prior to the start grid in Melbourne, just to check his charger has actually got four functioning wheels and has been filled up with petroleum, and an absence of bratwurst sticking out the exhaust pipe.

Team mate ickle Felipe meanwhile has been busily casting his beady eye over the bottom of the pitlane where the BrawnGP team are residing, as well as nurturing what can only be described as a smudge of dirt that has mysteriously appeared attached to his chin. It can’t possibly be a beard, surely, he can’t be old enough!?!

Kimi and Felipe Massa in Maranello to see President Napolitano at a Ferrari ceremony, 19th March 2009Anyway before I digress completely, according to the pocket-sized Brazilian poppet, Ross Brawn’s re-badged Honda Team look likely to be Ferrari’s arch–nemesis for the 2009 season. That’s if Ferrari’s KERS coolant system doesn’t beat them to that accolade first.

Arch-rivals of recent times, McLaren have been downplaying their chances for the opening rounds of the season, with Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh declaring the MP4-24 is suffering from a “performance deficit” or as the rest of us call it in layman’s terms – SLOW.

World Champion Lewis Hamilton has been attempting to put a brave face on it, and has informed us all that he will still do his utmost and race his little heart out even if he is not at the sharp end of the grid. It is rumoured that the MP4-24 is suffering for an aerodynamic problem, well here at FFN we can’t say we are surprised, has anyone actually seen those ridiculous rear wings? Of course your going to have an aerodynamic problem dragging what is akin to a child’s chair around at the back of your vehicle.

It is widely thought it may take McLaren as much as half the season to rectify the problem (unless they have a fortuitous first corner incident to remove the offending article), so they should thank their lucky stars the new points system hasn’t been introduced otherwise the championship could be wrapped up by Barcelona. Assuming that the Woking fraternity have not in fact been pulling the proverbial wool over the eyes of their rivals of course, and have actually been secretly sniggering behind their hands and sandbagging all winter.

Elsewhere it seems the rest of the paddock are jockeying for position to be the one’s taking the fight to Ferrari, and to date nobody has yet admitted to being a midfield runner or backmarker. So it looks like Ferrari really have got their work cut out this season beating off the attentions of Toyota, BrawnGP, Williams, Renault, BMW and co with a large stick.

quick-nick-demonstrates-the-ejector-buttonSpare a thought however, for Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica. This time, I’m not referring to their respective fashion sense and follical growthage.

It would seem this years BMW-Sauber car has somewhat of a complicated steering wheel, with more buttons and dials than the local telephone exchange can boast.

How the deuces the pair of them are expected to look where they are going, whilst twiddling all those knobs we haven’t the faintest idea. We can only hope the driving duo are a dab hand at multi-tasking, otherwise a quick twist of the differentials could end up with track marshalls flying in all directions and a BMW parked neatly into a nearby burger stand.

5 days and counting…..

One really does have to feel a little bit of sympathy these days for Rubens Barrichello, or as one of my close friends calls him ’Woobens’. It seems wherever the plucky Brazilian goes, controversy is never far behind bobbing about on the horizon like a malevolent storm cloud.

woobens2Not mentioning the four seasons he spent at Ferrari where the team seemed to spend more time in trouble than out of it, even the odd impromptu karaoke night out on the tiles reciting complimentary ditties about your past teammates’ ends up unceremoniously splashed all over the media.

Moving to Honda (now BrawnGP) it seems poor Ruben’s still can’t escape the evil cloud of controversy that dogs his every move, the moment he finally gets his mitts on a half decent car that doesn’t drive like a drunken three-legged tortoise, already his counterparts up and down the pitlane seem hell bent on getting the darn thing declared illegal for having a diffuser that exploits a loophole in the regulations, allegedly.

Really is it any wonder that ‘Woobens’ has been stamping his feet somewhat and getting slightly irked with well meaning journalists when they have innocently asked about the legality of his current mode of transport.

During an interview with Spanish Publication Marca, the Brazilian churlishy replied “Your asking are we legal? When someone is behind it is easier to say your rivals are against the rules than do better work”.

That clears things up nicely thanks ‘Woobens’, the BrawnGP challenger is clearly not illegal in any way shape or form, and evidently the rest of the paddock are like a bunch of silly jealous schoolgirls, sniping at you because they want your shiny new car.

brawngp-diffuserUnfortunately in F1 things are never quite that simple. Despite the fact the FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting has today confirmed that the diffusers on the BrawnGP, Toyota and Williams’ vehicles are considered legal and just a clever exploitation of a loophole in the sporting regulations, that doesn’t mean it won’t be illegal in two week’s time. Especially once Renault’s Team Boss Flavio Briatore has threatened to sit on him and talk him into submission of course.

Naturally Charlie might have changed his mind in the interim period, as he has demonstrated a want to do on previous occasions, most noticeably when telling the McLaren pitwall that their driver’s overtaking manoeuvre at Spa is in fact acceptable, only then to go on and report it as an infraction to the race stewards. And they say women are fickle and indecisive.

Williams’ Technical Guru Sam Michael meanwhile has expressed his surprise that more teams have not copied and adopted the controversial diffuser designs (although we understand McLaren have been having a jolly good attempt at Jerez with a bottle of green liquid dye and a sheet of sticky-back plastic), stating that it would be fairly easy to do.

What might surprise Sam Michael is the speed in which the other teams can get into race control first thing on the Friday morning prior to the Australian Grand Prix and lodge a complaint, no doubt faster than the FFN office cat can run when I get the frontline flea treatment out of it’s hiding place….. and that’s saying something.

fernando-alonsoMeanwhile while the teams are considering how they can put a kaibosh on the seemingly runaway BrawnGP express train, the drivers yesterday have been sharing their thoughts about the latest dubious turn of events courtesy of the Freakin’ Idiots Assocation.

Fernando Alonso, Jarno Trulli, Nick Heidfeld and Nico Rosberg to name but a few have condemned the latest rule changes to the points system, declaring it as nonsensical, silly and confusing…..and they were just the printable comments. Even former World Champion Michael Schumacher has waded into the fray in his cowboy boots, saying he is astonished and that the change in rules make little sense, and can only be of detriment to the sport. Sufficed to say the new rules have gone down like a lead balloon at a party.

Toyota’s Jarni Trulli has gone on to suggest that the FIA are in fact trying to kill off F1 and make the drivers leave to race in another series, which we feel is a rather drastic course of action merely because they have had the odd falling out with Max Mosley in the past over the hugely inflated prices of superlicenses and so forth.

madame_tussauds_lewis_hamiltonThis being the case the FIA may want to borrow Vodaphone’s remote control Blackberry and get on to Madame Tussauds’ in London pretty sharpish, to get themselves some cheaper and less vocal replacements.

Madame Tussaud’s reportedly have a rather impressive array of Formula 1 waxwork dummies on show, including Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell and Michael Schumacher. This week Lewis Hamilton has been added to the collection, with his waxwork dummy costing a cool 230,000 euros to make. Well in these times of economical difficulty, if ever there is a power cut….you know where to go to get a candle!

Oh dear, Oh dear. It would seem F1’s governing body the FIA has been accused of being somewhat high-handed, due to the vast array of regulation changes they pushed through the World Motor Sport Council yesterday without the knowledge, approval or backing of the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA).

Although why this comes as somewhat of a surprise we have no idea, given the long illustrious history the FIA has of getting right up people’s nostrils at the drop of a hat.

animated-lucaFOTA’s chairman Luca Di Montezemolo was allegedly straight on his hobby horse and waving his arms around in the air in a rather animated fashion within minutes of the decisions being announced to the media, declaring;

“With regard to the decisions taken today by the FIA World Council, FOTA would like to express its disappointment and concern at the fact that these have been taken in a unilateral manner.

“The framework of the regulations as defined by the FIA, to be applicable as from 2010, runs the risk of turning on its head the very essence of Formula 1 and the principles that make it one of the most popular and appealing sports.

“Given the timeframe and the way in which these modifications were decided upon, we feel it is necessary to study closely the new situation and to do everything, especially in these difficult times, to maintain a stable framework for the regulations without continuous upheaval, that can be perplexing and confusing for car manufacturers, teams, the public and sponsors.”

fotaSuffice to say once you have translated that eloquent oration into layman’s terms, the FOTA are royally annoyed and no mistake.

It is believed the teams are particularly displeased about the introduction of the £30 million budget cap (as we suspected they might be) which may very well encourage new teams to enter the sport, but will significantly make life harder for the larger teams who have already made significant investments in terms of technology and development and whom had already been working on cutting their own costs.

Ever shy and retiring when it comes to the glare of the media spotlight, FOM supremo Bernie Ecclestone has downplayed FOTA’s concerns and basically insinuated that it is the teams doing what they love best – having a good old moan for the sake of it. Indeed according to the worlds most powerful Homo Floresiensis, every time a new rule or regulation is introduced the teams involved immediately begin flapping about and squawking like a nestful of recalcitrant jackdaws at feeding time.

bernardAccording to young Bernard, despite many teams having reportedly cut their costs by as much 50%, it still didn’t go far enough for his liking. Although it does seem a little strange to us, hearing that money grabbing little urchin preaching about cost cutting on one hand while holding several race circuits to ransom for ridiculous sums of money on the other. Pot calling Kettle……we can’t help feeling perhaps he may have missed his true calling in life….that of a banker.

Meanwhile, the introduction by the FIA of a new rule for 2009 whereby the driver with the most race wins (not points) gets the World Champion’s Chair, has annoyed many racing enthusiasts. Online petitions and Facebook groups are springing up all over the place like a plague of mushrooms, but it remains to be seen whether this groundswell of feeling and invective will have any effect whatsoever on the powers that be. Especially when you consider that the FIA don’t even listen or take the blindest bit of notice when it comes to the findings of their own petitions and surveys….

So it remains too be seen where things stand and what will happen next when the feathers finally settle, if they in fact ever do. What we wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall at the next meeting of FOTA. I’ll have five pounds on Luca Di Montezemolo in the red corner please!

Earlier this afternoon, quite literally out of the blue (or should it be red?) the Ferrari Board of Directors made the announcement that former team principal, CEO and much loved vertically challenged knitwear fashionista Jean Todt has resigned from all his posts at Ferrari with immediate effect. That’s a shocker and no mistake.

Ferrari’s President Luca Di Montezemolo (of whom it is scurrulously suggested is as old as the invention of the wheel itself) paid a glowing tribute to the Frenchman in the press release, adding “All of these years we’ve spent together – victories and tough times included – have forged a link between Jean Todt and Ferrari that will never be broken.”

Allegedly, at one point we are to understand Mr Montezemolo even had a tear in his eye, but fears of an emotional outburst in the Ferrari Boardroom were unfounded when the Ferrari President reportedly revealed he had in fact just accidentally poked himself in the eye with his biro (according to our unnamed source).

jean-todtNaturally though, this sudden shock announcement has sent ripples through the world of F1 and it’s fanbase, prompting all sorts of speculation as to what this shock departure could be signalling (apart from the end of a very special era in which Jean was instrumental in bringing success and glory back to the Scuderia – not that we are in the teeniest bit biased of course).

Some may say that Jean Todt has stepped down from his commitments at Ferrari in order to run for the Presidency of the FIA, should Max Mosley ever tire of being a power-mad tea-drinking control freak of a lawyer (which surely is never going to happen, is it?).

Other theories have suggested that at 63 years old, the Frenchman is retiring from active duty and is looking to relocate to the outer rim, where he will take up residence in the swampy regions of Dagabah and train young Jedi Knights when he isn’t being a Datuk or appearing at Michelle Yeoh’s film premieres.

More alarming though is the suggestion that the Frenchman has decided to adopt an entirely new career at this late stage, and is set for global domination via the opening of a new knitwear franchise with Ron Dennis signed up as the catwalk model. Stranger things have happened in F1 before now, we don’t know what exactly….but they must have.

Whatever the truth of the matter, only time will tell. But here at FFN we wish Jean luck in his future endeavours as he will always have a very special place in our hearts and on our pages. Bon Chance Jean!

fia-logoJust a few minutes ago, news reports have emerged that the governing body the FIA is introducing a voluntary budget cap of £30 million into the sport to encourage new teams to enter into F1.

It is thought the budget cap is entirely voluntary, giving the new teams open access to all the technological advancements that their less frugal counterparts have near bankrupted themselves developing at great expense.

FIA President Max Mosley has suggested the budget cap will encourage all the teams to get clever with their engineering, which can be translated as meaning F1 engineers are going to start engaging in the practice of foraging through other peoples mini-skips looking for useful treasures.

According to the reports the £30 million proposed figure incorporates all costs for running an F1 team, including paying the wages of all the team plus the drivers.

We do wonder how the likes of McLaren, Ferrari, Renault and co may react to the news, given that a £30 million yearly budget probably scarcely covers the pocket money expenses of one of their drivers, nevermind any actual technology.

Will McLaren be able to afford Lewis Hamilton’s popstar entourage? Can Ferrari meet Kimi’s bar tab? Can Renault afford to buy Flavio a new thong? Will Britney Rosberg ever afford a haircut? Will the teams start racing lawnmower engines instead?

not-impressed-colajanniMeanwhile, it would appear the WMSC has ratified plans to make F1 drivers more accessible to the general public and the media. It is understood drivers are going to be required to attend autograph sessions during first practice on a grand prix weekend as well as making themselves more available to the media if they are not attending the FIA official press conferences.

It is thought this piece of alarming news has come as somewhat of a shock to Ferrari’s official media representative and spokesman Luca Colajanni, who has been carted off to lie down in a dark room to ward off an impending migraine triggered by all the extra “for sures” he is going to have to translate over the course of the year.

In addition to introducing a budget cap, and forcing Kimi to mumble in the company of journalists more than is strictly necessary, it seems the FIA have made some minimal rule changes with regards to the points system.

Instead of accepting proposed changes to the points themselves for 2009, the FIA has introduced a new rule that the driver who has gained the most wins during the course of the season will go home with the spoils of war and a few bottle of fizzy pop to boot, while someone who has scored more points but less overall wins goes home sobbing uncontrollably….presumably.

What does all this mean for the future of our beloved sport? answers on a postcard please!

If recent news reports are anything to go by, it would seem that BMW-Sauber’s Team Principal Mario Theissen has been complaining somewhat about the unexpected side effects of KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) that most of the Formula 1 teams have been implementing ahead of the 2009 season.

mario-brosAccording to Mario (who we should point out is actually the inspiration behind the globally recognised Nintendo character bearing the same moniker), the sporting regulations should now raise the minimum weight of Formula 1 cars to help incorporate the technology.

It is understood that the installation of such systems, which has kept most of the paddock pulling their hair out all winter, has been quite a technological challenge as engineers have had to get very clever indeed (well that is what they are paid for isn’t it?) attempting to make the cars as light as possible to offset the weight of the KERS devices.

If rumours are to be believed BMW-Sauber driver Robert Kubica feels he is at a weight disadvantage to the other F1 pilots (even though you’d find more meat on a spare rib) and feels that this may have some sort of negligible influence on his driving prospects for the forthcoming season.

This week,Team Boss Mario has said he feels it is important to increase the minimum weight of the cars or else we will be left with just a jockey or words to a similar effect. Of course here at FFN (myself and the office cat) immediately fell about laughing, imagining the current crop of F1 stars riding around Albert Park on donkeys. The mind boggles though where you would keep the KERS batteries.

electrocuted-bmw-minionStill before we get carried away at a tangent, we can’t help but point out that it was BMW-Sauber themselves that insisted on forging ahead with the introduction of KERS this year, dragging the rest of the pitlane with them kicking and screaming (literally in some cases). Let’s not forget Red Bull nearly burnt their factory to the ground, some poor mechanic ending up in the emergency room after getting to close to the BMW car, not even mentioning the meteoric explosion in winter sales of Prozac in the immediate vicinity of Maranello.

So the important lesson to be learnt here is; Karma can come back and bite you on the behind if your not too careful.

Meanwhile it seems that the Williams team, have removed the ‘skate’ fins that adorned the FW31 at the recent test in Barcelona. It in understood the team have decided not to forge ahead with the devices after a friendly chit-chat with the sports governing body the FIA.

Allegedly the devices which were located on the side of the cockpit next to the drivers head, were some sort of aerodynamic device to channel the flow of air towards the rear of the car, and were actually not a pair of blinkers to prevent the William’s drivers from seeing who they were crashing into at the first corner of each race as had been originally thought.

flappy-thingsAnyway we understand after a brief consultation with Charlie Whiting, Williams have done a U turn and whipped the devices off the car faster than Kimi can get out of a Formula 1 circuit to watch the ice hockey. Probably not half as quick as they would have done if Max Mosley had been handing out punishments though.

According to the latest reports, the FIA will be today voting on the implementation of a new points system for the sport. The proposition is to replace the current 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 points awards with a 12-9-7-5-4-3-2-1 system. It is thought that the new points system will ensure that whoever wins the most races during the course of the season, might actually go on to be the world champion at the end of the day.

Now Michael ‘Trophy-Hogging’ Schumacher has left the sport, presumably the powers that be are quite happy to award a few extra points here and there on the understanding the championship titles are not done and dusted before March is over, giving plenty of scope for race stewards to controversially tinker about with proceedings to keep the show on the road right up until the season finale so to speak.

fernando-at-jerezFinally, a little snippet of news from testing at Jerez. It seems yesterday our friend from Asturias, Fernando Alonso, knocked the BrawnGP challenger off the top of the timesheets, beating Rubens Barrichello by a tenth of a second.

We can only hazard a guess at how fast dear Nando might have gone if he in fact had got his grubby mitts on the Beast from Brackley. We best not repeat the equation here though as it has a tendency to rather excite Fernando’s fanbase, and FFN HQ is not big enough to swing the cat in let alone house a riot.

Just when you think the powers that be in Formula 1 can’t come out with anything more ridiculous than they have already unleashed on the world, then lo and behold they seem intent on proving you completely wrong.

bowlhead-bernieThis week Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has declared that the global economic downturn seems to be having very little effect on the sport, despite the withdrawal of several teams’ sponsors or should we say bankers.

Both ING and RBS who are major sponsors for Renault and Williams respectively, have announced their imminent withdrawal from the sport, but not before they have nonchalantly frittered away our hard earned cash on the stock exchange and scoffed a few rounds of salmon sandwiches and fancy vol-au-vents.

According to the pint-sized bowl-headed one (who we suspect lounges around on sheepskin rugs getting fed peeled grapes by Mongolian princesses), all of this is having very little effect on how the teams are spending their money or operating. Little Bernard has reportedly pointed out that most F1 teams will still be bringing just as many team personnel to the grand prix for example, and therefore the global recession cannot be having much of an effect in the sport.

Not withstanding the extensive raft of cost cutting measures implemented by the Formula One Team Association (FOTA) in recent times to ensure the future of the teams in the sport, you only have to look around the paddock to find evidence to counter the claims of the pint-sized one.

A stones throw from the FOM trailer for example, we can see the global economic downturn already biting at Toyota, with Team Principal Tadashi Yamashima admitting he had to fight to keep the F1 team going against the need for Toyota as a Manufacturer to drastically reduce costs. Nowhere is this more evident, than in the Toyota Garage itself where the poor car designers have had to re-use the same can of paint to decorate their charger for at least the last five years. Here at FFN we even have a sneaking suspicion the poor mechanics are having to construct the car out of second hand Meccano kits found on E-bay and a reel of duct tape.

what-do-you-mean-i-dont-get-paidLikewise at Renault, if you scratch beneath the surface, evidence bubbles to light of hard times ahead for the team. Rumours of a most alarming nature have reached our ears, that things are in fact so tight at Renault that the team have confiscated Pat Symonds pocket money and the respected technical genius can no longer be found loitering around the back of the trucks enjoying a crafty cigarette. Tough times indeed.

Down at BrawnGP (formerly Honda and we all know about their financial crisis over the winter) it is clearly evident their poor drivers are taking the brunt of the global economic downturn, with Jenson Button’s retainer being cut almost in half, which must explain why the poor mite can’t even afford a cheap razor and can of shaving foam, while poor Rubens Barrichello has lost weight over the winter….because he hasn’t been able to afford food for the table.

dishwashing-dutyEven Ferrari, who let’s face it are always rolling in money, have been cutting costs of late. Gone is the state of the art scarlet clad electric dishwasher for cleaning pasta sauce off those plates, and in come the rubber gloves with the mechanics reportedly signed up to a dishwashing rota. We dread to think whether this means Luca Di Montezemolo can’t afford another TV set to wreck come the time of the Brazilian GP this year, and whether Stefano Domenicali has had to double up as the tea-lady.

Rumours have even been circulating that McLaren may have to de-commission their glorious gleaming beacon of a media centre because it is too costly to run, and replace it with the less costly alternative of canvas tent and deck chairs (second hand of course).

Not forgetting ex-Formula 1 Champion of yesteryear Jackie Stewart who is doing his bit for the good of the sport (no he hasn‘t promised to stay quiet for a change), the canny Scotsman is carrying on doing whatever he does without getting paid for it, which we must all agree is very benevolent of him. Although why he would need paying we haven’t got the foggiest, since he seems to be wearing the same trousers as he did 30 years ago, so it can’t be going on his wardrobe can it?

Clearly though Bernard hasn’t the first notion what he is on about.

Anyway, amidst all this financial doom and gloom, spare a thought for our poor friend from Asturias. Dear Nando.

poor-nandoWhile we are not aware of any financial hardships for the former double world champion, we do suspect the Spaniard may have made a dreadful mistake. What the deuces am I wittering on about you ask? Well we do wonder if the Renault driver may in fact be now regretting turning down that reported blank cheque proffered by Ross Brawn to lure him to BrawnGP. Presuming it wouldn’t have bounced of course.

Could he be currently sitting on a wall somewhere in Jerez bemoaning the surprising “performance” of the BrawnGP outfit, while Renault haven’t exactly been setting fires in winter testing? We wouldn’t like to bet on it……but we do suspect he may live to regret spending every other weekend for the next nine months getting up early each morning to look at that eyesore parked in the Renault Garage. Perhaps utilising the current spirit of goodwill and cooperation from FOTA, Fernando can petition Toyota for some cheap paint.

This week we have seen all ten Formula 1 teams in action at the same time at the winter group test at the Circuit de Catalunya, near Barcelona in Spain.

By and large testing is usually a pretty dull affair, (unless your one of those armchair experts who excitedly devours all the photographs like they are going out of fashion looking for all the latest updates and gizmos) with the most exciting event being when someone’s car has a technical hissy fit and forces the poor driver to abandon it and walk back to the pitlane.

michael-inspects-mclarenThat is unless you are the World Champion at McLaren and fancy parking it in a gravel trap, immediately causing former World Champions scuttling off eagerly down the nearest escape road to oversee proceedings whilst the track marshalls recover your car using your favourite crane. However, don’t worry Lewis, at least it is giving Michael Schumacher something to do in his spare time, when he isn’t falling off motorbikes, polishing his trophies or counting his handsome Ferrari retainer for standing about like a spare part in the Ferrari Garage and distracting the media, allegedly.

This weeks group test, has been quite interesting, for more than just this reason alone though.

Firstly we should mention that the former Honda Team, which has been saved from extinction by none other than former Ferrari favourite Uncle Ross (Brawn) has surprised the pants off just about everyone connected to the sport. Given that up until a week or so ago, nobody knew if the team would even make it to the season opener in Melbourne, you can imagine the surprise, eyebrow raising and head scratching going on that the Brawn GP has spent the entire group test soundly thrashing everyone including Ferrari, McLaren and co.

brawngpBoth Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello respectively topping the timesheets on subsequent days in the BrawnGP challenger. Sufficed to say this has caused a flurry of excitement, discussion, arguments and financial bets across internet forums, as the formula 1 fanbase are trying to work out if indeed Uncle Ross has managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat like never before or if the truth of the matter is that the former Honda team are in fact showboating in a desperate attempt to attract sponsors with more money than sense. Although given that Honda spent at least a year or two recently failing to attract any sponsors, we do wonder if perhaps that could be an entirely fruitless and pointless exercise if it is indeed the case as some may claim.

At this point in proceedings we should point out that controversy is already rearing its ugly head prior to the season opener in two weeks time, with several team bosses muttering furiously away nineteen to the dozen about the illegality or otherwise of several car’s difusers. According to some, the Williams, Toyota and Brawn GP teams are all running difusers which may need clarifying by the FIA. By which we take it to mean someone runs off to the FIA complains bitterly, and hey presto next week the FIA confiscates somebodies new toy and out the pram comes that rattle.

icklefelipe2Ferrari who have been consistently fast in winter testing (when their KERS system doesn’t keep breaking down) were last seen heading off for Maranello muttering that they thought they had the fastest car, and couldn’t quite believe they have had their thunder stolen by their former Technical Director. It is not all bad news however, we are to understand that ickle Felipe is pleased as punch with his new F2009 and hopes he will be go on to challenge for the World Championship with it, if only the FIA would agree to make F1 races a little bit shorter (one lap would do eh Felipe?).

We are a little less clear what the Kimblebot thinks of his new charger, aside from the fact we are still trying to decipher his mumblings, we understand he has been taking part in yet another artic event of some sort. It would seem the former Ferrari World Champion has been quite busy this winter entertaining himself at various events involving snow, but we are yet to work out how this fits into the bigger picture unless Ferrari have replaced horsepower with reindeers and skidoos, or are predicting an awful lot of snow during the season. Well you never know with this global warming malarkey or Ferrari‘s weather prediction systems.

McLaren meanwhile have been enduring a bit of a torrid time during the recent test at Barcelona, with their 2009 car consistently languishing down the timesheets leading to all sorts of speculation. Heikki Kovaleinen has informed us all that this winter he has in fact put on weight (which might account for why his car seems slower), but doesn’t really explain what has happened to the current World Champion’s, Lewis Hamilton. We can only presume McLaren spent too much time faffing about making vodaphone adverts about remote control cars and blackberry phones, and not enough time working on the damn car.

mclaren-boysAs per usual the McLaren PR department has been working like a perfectly oiled machine, with former team principal Ron Dennis declaring he is not worried about the pace of the MP4-24, but subsequently both Martin Whitmarsh and Norbert Haug have admitted they are concerned that they aren’t fast enough. Probably a good job Norbert isn’t driving the damn thing, we reckon. However, do not fret, the team claim to know what is wrong and are working even as we speak to resolve the problem.

Unsubstantiated rumours emanating from the F1 paddock from an unnamed source, have suggested some short-sighted bod at Woking has mistakenly popped the car axles on the wrong way round leading to the MP4-24 having no rear grip and in fact going backwards instead of forwards. We couldn’t possibly comment.

ferrarieye3Meanwhile, just to make life a little bit fairer for everyone else Ferrari have announced they will reintroduce their traffic light pitstop system for the 2009 season, yes the very one that caused all sorts of manic mayhem with refuelling rigs in Singapore and near traffic halting pitlane collisions in Valencia. We are to understand from Sporting Director Luca Baldisserri, that Ferrari have implemented a solution to prevent such errors happening again, which only leads us to consider what new debacles it might unexpectedly throw up for trigger happy head mechanics and overenthusiastic Finns. Mentioning no names of course.

Testing continues from today at Jerez for McLaren, BrawnGP, Renault and Williams, while the rest of the grid have shot back to their respective factories ahead of Melbourne for two weeks of frantic head scratching, swearing under their breath and car tinkering.

Stay Tuned.

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