We all know Flavio Briatore has been one of the major advocates of cost cutting measures in F1, and last year he just couldn’t stop gassing about how Renault had overcome Ferrari despite spending less in car development. Well, maybe they should have spent a bit more in getting the car up to pace for this year, it is never nice to see a championship winning team languishing in midfield (brings back horrifying memories of 2005). Now Denis Chevrier, head of engine department at Renault claims to be ‘frustrated’ by all these new development restrictions, and he is understandably not thrilled with the engine freeze either. “We’re frustrated by the present regulations, which have really robbed us of the possibility of making the difference as engineers” he says “In the past, if the team was lagging behind the engineers were able to play a crucial role in overcoming the lack of performance. This season it’s much more limited”. You have to admit he has a point though, what’s with all this hype about F1 being pinnacle of racing technology when the engineers are constantly urged to put a lid on development.

balletfootball.jpgMichael Schumacher is still an ‘important part’ of the Ferrari team according to Felipe Massa, just in case we have forgotten that he is supposed to be the super-assistant. We were told earlier that his role will become clearer with the passage of time…I don’t know if it has gotten any clearer for you, it is about as clear as mud for us here at FFN. What is evident till now though is that a super-assistant is required to call the drivers before or/and after the race from exotic locations around the world and offer a few words of encouragement. (Now that is my kind of job, unfortunately you need to have won at least seven world championships to even apply, and needless to say, I don’t quite qualify). Considering Michael had been hard at work on his motor-racing career for 34 out of his 38 years (and the last time he had an entire year off with no racing was when he was 3 years old), it is about time he took a break and good that he is making the most of it. For according to Mika Hakkinen, in another 2-3 years Schumi will be yearning to race again, if not in F1 then in another series like DTM. “Racing is racing” says Mika (ever the proponent of stating things as they are), just in case you thought racing is not racing. Mika presented Schumi with a unicycle recently, carrying a plaque that read “To Michael – my great rival and friend”. While mastering the unicycle might keep Michael occupied for a year or so, a man of his capabilities is bound to want to do something else soon.

all4cars.jpgWhile Michael is out enjoying his much deserved vacation, Ron Dennis has been busy looking forward to the Spanish GP (By the way, what will it take to get Ron to retire?). He even has a reason for it. “One of the reasons why I am looking forward to the Spanish GP” says Ron, “is that the race will demonstrate how hard our development program has been working”. Well not really, unless Ferrari’s development program spends the time sleeping, which we very much doubt will be the case. Most probably (and hopefully) the status quo will be preserved, with Renault doing some catching up perhaps. With Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso eager to establish their superiority over their teammates, and with Hamilton and Massa eager to prove they are equally good, not to mention Nick Heidfeld eager to have a car to drive next year (his BMW contract is running out), this championship is wide open. We are looking forward to the Spanish GP too, but for entirely different reasons – which would be to see a Ferrari 1-2 for the first time this year. Forza.