ascanelli.jpgSTR’s new technical director Giorgio Ascanelli appears to be an engineer and philosopher all rolled into one, nonchalantly spouting lines like “Nothing stays the same, but nothing changes” at the drop of a hat. Here’s something else for you to chew on – “I was laying myself under the cars last night and after five years away from F1 it was like just one day, because the floor doesn’t fit! So I would say I really don’t like labels”. Made anything out of it? No? Thought so…me neither. However, I am told that this is the mark of a great philosopher, nobody understands what the deuce he is on about. It appears Ascanelli has a lot of catching up to do though. He claims the last time he was in Formula 1, “We had no computers and we had line printers sitting on top of a cardboard box vomiting numbers, and no tools. Now there are large amounts of tools. The photographers here take digital pictures, which are published straight away”. Looks like he has been away for a bit, don’t you think? But Giorgio Ascanelli has faith in his drivers – “And for what I know today, Scott Speed and Vitantonio Liuzzi could be the next Alonso. They don’t know and I don’t know”. We don’t know either to be honest, sounds a little far-fetched…and we can’t really evaluate till Liuzzi stops spinning his car and starts to drive in a straight line.

But not everyone in STR thinks Scott Speed can be the next Alonso, and that includes team boss Gerhard Berger. If you were wondering what on earth Berger was playing at during the off-season regarding his driver-lineup announcement, here is the explanation. Apparently he was instilling a more ‘professional attitude’ in Scott Speed by making him wait for the 2007 contract. I would have thought that would just make Speed more impatient rather than more professional, but what does one know. “We wanted to send out a signal” says Berger, and the idea of picking up the telephone and just letting Speed know probably never struck him. And while Berger has been playing elaborate games and sending out more signals than a wireless router gone haywire, did the ploy have any effect on the ‘laid back’ Speed? Well, apart from calling Berger’s comments ‘ridiculous’, Speed continues to remain laid-back as far as we can see, and so it is with such people even if you stick lit matches between their toes. It’s a bit like trying to get Kimi Raikkonen all excited and animated on the podium, which as we all know is next to impossible.

Renault claims to be very pleased with how their partnership with Red Bull has turned out after the first race (RB is using Renault engines), and we (at FFN) have no clue what they are talking about. Considering Webber finished out of the top 10 and David Coulthard failed to finish, we don’t see the logic behind all the cheery optimism. So when Renault’s principal engineer for RB, Fabrice Lom, says “Our first race went pretty well overall, and the end result was very encouraging”, what does he mean exactly? Encouraging for Renault perhaps that they no longer need to worry about Red Bull being a potential competitor? Because we fail to see how the end result could be deemed encouraging for RB…unless RB aspired to finish the weekend with 0 points. “Everything has gone well so far” adds Lom, “so we need to make sure it carries on like that”. Oh well, that just confirms the man is talking through the back of his neck. There is someone else who is very encouraged by Renault’s pace this season, and that would happen to be Nick Heidfeld. BMW finished fifth overall last season, and were aiming for fourth in this one, but now with Renault performing the way it is, finishing third seems a very realistic goal. Anyway, Sepang will probably serve as a better indicator of current form for the teams.

I would like to conclude this post with one more pearl of wisdom from Ascanelli – “to react to a problem you need to establish what the problem is. And the first way to fix a problem is to realise that you have one”. Pretty neat, eh?