It turned out to be a very busy Friday at Sepang today with Felipe Massa topping the timesheets in both practice sessions rather effortlessly. It might very well be Felipe’s weekend this time around if rain doesn’t spoil the party. The F2007 was fast on both the hard and medium compound tyres, with medium being the one marked with the white groove (and thankfully not the tiny white dot that is difficult to spot even when the car is stationary). Meanwhile Bernie Ecclestone is most disgruntled – it is bad enough that you have Speed TV commentators urging you to log onto their website and read a detailed technical report on moving floors (not the kind of fun/glamor image that Bernie has been trying to project), and now the team bosses are getting on his nerves by not reaching a resolution on the customer car row and protesting car parts left, right and center. The beleaguered stewards have confessed to being at their wit’s end when it comes to playing spot-the-difference game with Red Bull and STR, and they have returned the protest fee back to Spyker and advised the team to go hound the courts instead. Bernie has decided to get personally involved to resolve the issue by arranging a team principals’s meeting this weekend, where the small matter of television rights money might just crop up. You see, the deal is – only 10 teams are awarded television and travel money (which can run into several million dollars), so naturally no team wants to finish eleventh. But Gerhard Berger is not really making it easy for Bernie when he says “There is no compromise solution. We are either right or wrong”. What’s worse, he uses the forbidden ‘P’ word in F1 which stands for Principle, saying “I think it is the principle. F1 is not something where in the end you fix something with money”. Yeah right! That’s Berger trying to convince us how it is against his principles to come up with an original design for the car instead of nicking someone else’s – what a strange world indeed.
Getting back to the racing, Ferrari still looks very much on top – floor modifications or otherwise. Felipe set a blinding pace in both sessions, and both on track as well as in the pitlane (collecting a 4800 EUR fine for the same). The good news is that for once we might get to see both cars start out in the front of the grid, with the team confirming Kimi Raikkonen‘s engine will not be changed. “We are going to keep it, there is no reason to change it” says Kimi, and we will take his word for it. McLaren continues to look very competitive, with Lewis Hamilton still providing stiff competition to Fernando Alonso – this will be another interesting teammate battle apart from the one unfolding in the Scuderia camp. Renault had a very encouraging second session after a rather disastrous first one, while BMW had ‘many problems’ according to Robert Kubica and they are apparently struggling a bit with car balance. Honda seems to be progressing in the wrong direction at a rather alarming rate, with Button opining that the RA107 needs some ‘big changes’. One idea for a ‘big change’ would be to just scrap the car altogether and start all over again – whatever they build can only be better. I hate to admit this, but maybe Damon Hill was right after all. Jenson Button should do what he has been threatening to do for years now and skip to Williams when he still has the chance, after all as Damon says – ‘the clock is ticking’, and Jense certainly deserves something better than this earth liveried cucumber.
Keeping fingers crossed for a Ferrari 1-2 tomorrow.