ralfie1.jpgThis week Toyota Team Boss John Howett has proved yet again he needs his heading checking by the medical profession. Howett suggests that the reason Ralf Schumacher is not living up to his self proclaimed billing as ‘one of the top three F1 drivers’ is because the 2007 Bridgestone tyres do not suit the German’s driving style. (So nothing to do with the fact he isn’t actually called Michael then?) Apparently this is the reason why team-mate Jarno Trulli has outperformed Ralfie in both Malaysia and Bahrain.

Now forgive my slightly poor old age memory, but Ralf wasn’t exactly setting the world alight with sterling drives last year was he? …so perhaps the 2006 tyres didn’t suit his style either….leading us to wonder just which decade he might find some tyres that do match his driving style…and if he might actually manage to win a race again before he is in a mobility scooter.

However Toyota Boss Howett is not to be dissuaded from his belief that the tyres are to blame, and suggests “Even in Ferrari and McLaren you can see experienced drivers struggling a bit at times with the new tyres we have for 2007.” Hating to be the one to point out the obvious but including Ferrari and McLaren that encompasses four drivers, and I’m pretty sure in the last 3 Grand Prix there have been other drivers in between them and the Toyota’s. So just where exactly does Ralf fit into this top 3 again? You do the Maths….meanwhile I’m off to call the men in white coats.

Over at Renault it is rumoured that the team are all very impressed with Giancarlo Fisichella’s fighting spirit in the face of adversity, Managing Director of Engineering Pat Symonds, yesterday lauding the team’s number one driver for getting the absolute maximum possible out of the their troubled vehicle.

“Giancarlo has been very impressive so far this season,” said Pat. “A lot of our esteem for him is rooted in the way he handled our 2001 season, when he put huge effort into making the most of a difficult car”. Pat went on “We are seeing something similar this year.” and on “The R27 is a hard car to drive consistently, but in spite of this, he has driven very consistent races.” and “We couldn’t ask more from him”. (maybe perhaps just a little bit less swearing on live television?).

Consistent is just about the right word. Giancarlo has popped up again today blubbering about the state of affairs, thrown in the towel and told the team they might as well forget their 2007 car and concentrate on next year’s effort, because he has written off any chances of getting on the podium this season. It’s a good job he isn’t in the army, because if that is fighting spirit…I’d hate to see someone with a defeatist attitude.

“With the heir of the car which won everything in the last two seasons, I was aiming to win the championship. By contrast, here I am, suffering,” Giancarlo lamented. Since Renault predict there will be no significant change in the running order for the Spanish Grand Prix from the last race, it might actually be us poor viewers “suffering”. Probably from headaches brought on by the consistent wailing and colourful language emitting from Fisichella’s radio broadcasts as he gets overtaken by just about everybody else on track. “I’m in trouble! I’m in trouble!” and that’s presumably before the cars have left the starting grid.

kimiandfelipe.jpgAt the sharp end of things, Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa have been scaring the pit-lane witless with their flowing, happy and upbeat comments concerning their chances for the Spanish Grand Prix, now Ferrari have made updates to the F2007.

The usually dour one-worded automaton terminator that is the Kimster, it would seem has been replaced by a remarkably happy, cheerful and smiling alter-ego. Prompting fears that Ferrari have been secretly tampering with cloning technology, or that Sporting Director Stefano Domenicali has threatened to permanently lock the drinks cabinet unless Kimi’s facial behaviour improves significantly.

Not wanting to be outdone by Kimi’s claims he is happy with the car and looking forward very much to winning the Spanish Grand Prix (and did he mention he was happy and confident?), young Felipe has gone one better and is now staking his claim on the Championship.

“The world title is my objective, and I think I have the car to win it,” Massa was quoted as saying by Gazzetta dello Sport. Someone ought to tell him it’s all very well having the car, but you need to keep it pointing in the right direction and out of the gravel traps….and if possible out front at the first corner, otherwise someone will have their hands on the pot before you do.

While it is nice to see the Ferrari duo happy and positive, we can’t help wondering what Ferrari are playing at. Normally the Maranello squad are very circumspect and keep everything under their Marlboro hats, but they have been really whooping it up this week. Perhaps it’s a very clever psychological game to encourage dispair amongst their competitors to the point the rival engineers refuse to be dragged out from under their duvet covers. Or perhaps the Ferrari F2007 really is very good, or just maybe Technical Director Mario Almondo has been popping too many E numbers in Kimi and Felipe’s Smarties of late.

michaelandhisremotesteeringdevice.jpgMeanwhile the German Media have been hard at it the last few days trying to decipher just what job ex-champion Michael Schumacher will be performing when he attends the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday.

Michael’s spokeswoman Sabine Kehm has confirmed Michael will be keeping a low profile, and working in the background making vital suggestions for areas where improvements can be made in his role as advisor to the Ferrari team. Michael and low profile?? run that past me again….

Strangely the German Press Hacks have a total contrasting idea in mind, and have him down as taking control of the entire Ferrari pit-wall and leading the Ferrari’s to a stunning victory (presumably by some sort of remote control device). Which will be a welcome relief to Head of Track Ops Luca Baldisserri who can put the crayons away and stay in bed relaxing for the weekend, instead of having palpitations and practically fainting when the red lights go out, and Team Principal Jean Todt…well he did say he wanted to retire didn’t he?

Forza Team Michael, I mean Ferrari.

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