nanfo.jpgIf Pat Symonds is to be believed, we might see Fernando Alonso begin to act all strange a bit sooner than expected this year…and no we are not talking about Nando pretending to be a duck or a crane in the parc ferme after a win, but his tendency to spout mind boggling bilge when under pressure. I am sure you all remember “I feel alone”, “The team doesn’t want me to win” or even his famous “I don’t consider F1 a sport anymore”. Pat Symonds thinks Nando is going to come under a lot of pressure from Lewis Hamilton this year, and it is never a good idea to put too much pressure on the current world champion if you don’t like that kind of entertainment. “He is an intelligent guy and, although he finished higher than Lewis, he will also look deeper and see the real picture. I think it will upset him” predicts Pat Symonds, which makes you wonder what it is about F1 that attracts more prophets and seers than the Himalayas does (we have the in-house psychic Webber, not to mention the local doomsayer Niki Lauda, and now Symonds too?) The season is barely a race old and the mind games have already begun. In Symonds’s defense though, he must have figured what with two seriously discouraged drivers in his own camp, why not discourage a few drivers from other teams to even out the playing field. “A lot of Fernando’s strength of character comes from his self-esteem” he adds, “And the only times that I saw Fernando really get upset during the years he worked for us was on the days when he got beaten by his teammate”.

While on the topic of Fernando Alonso, El Mundo Deportivo reports that a bunch of Spanish fans are most upset that “Alonso treats his fans like crap”. Apparently 15 members of Club F1 Alonso traveled all the way from Spain to Australia, only to be refused autographs or photos from their hero. They had to be content with photos of Kimi Raikkonen instead. But they are not dissolving the fan club and calling it Club F1 Raikkonen just yet, with a few of them flying to Malaysia for the next race. Well, in Nando’s defense, it is impossible to please everybody and they might just have caught him at the wrong moment. But one has to concede that with Michael Schumacher around, there was always a controversy or two to fill up news pages, and now with Michael gone, juornos are having to interview fan club presidents to come up with anything.

And talking of Michael, is anyone else having an odd sense of deja vu? Fresh reports are circulating that Schumi is on the verge of buying out the STR team…but haven’t we already heard this before? I thought Berger dismissed the speculation and said he had no intentions of selling his stake in STR, and even Willi Weber admitted to joking about the whole thing. So we don’t have a clue what Bernie Ecclestone is dithering about when he says “Michael has been such a fantastic figure, a real legend, he would be welcome back to the scene in any capacity. He could count on my help anytime” in relation to his rumor. Or maybe that’s just Bernie trying to keep the interest going what with the current F1 schedule having so much of a time gap between two races that it almost seems like a mini-offseason. Michael’s spokeswoman could not be reached for comment as she is having a very tough time keeping up with all the teams he is rumored to be buying out or is secretively serving as team boss already, and has retired to bed early with a migraine.

Rumors are circulating in the press that a ‘B’ version of the Renault R27 is being developed as I type, with Flavio ordering his engineers to build a new R27B with a longer wheelbase. Call me an eternal optimist, but I am hoping fervently that they change the livery as well, longer wheelbase or not. The car is expected to be ready in time for the European races, though it could have been sooner had the engineers not wasted so much time laughing at Ferrari’s unique long wheelbase design initially. Considering the number of race winning cars Ferrari has produced in recent times and considering their long and close association with Bridgestone, one would have thought it is just common sense to take their technical expertise for granted, but apparently the F1 world functions differently. At least one of the teams had the right idea a few years back when they allegedly tried nicking the Ferrari blueprints and then funnily enough refused to give it back as it was mixed with their own data (I will not mention names, but you know to which team I ‘allude’). “We had balanced our (2006) car with Michellin, and the moment we put the Bridgestone on was a shock” says Briatore, and understandably so. What’s that sound? Oh, it’s just Ferrari having the last laugh.