June 2007


So it was the wind tunnel after all. How awfully predictable! It has been confirmed by Jean Todt today that it was indeed the broken wind tunnel that was the cause of Ferrari’s car development problems, and given our good showing in the practice sessions, it has presumably been set right. “We had a problem with the carpet and we lost about two weeks” says Todt. That explains it…but wait a minute….the carpet? What carpet? Surely not of the flying kind? These wind tunnels must be more advanced than the models you would have built in your childhood using table fans and egg carton seperators. And clearly Aldo Costa doesn’t think the world of them. “We know that our facility is not the largest” he says,  “and is not the most recent one. And we don’t have two wind tunnels, which some other teams have got”. Why ever not? Maybe Kimi Raikkonen can donate some money for Ferrari to get a large, new and secondary wind tunnel. But as long as the…erm… carpet… is fully functional now, the details are insignificant.

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 That’s Scott Speed and Vitantonio Liuzzi standing with what appears to be an insanely giant member of  the bovine family. That much is clear, but as to what their purpose could have been remains a mystery in the paddock. There has been much speculation on the topic, but Gerhard Berger has firmly denied rumors that he is selling his stake in STR to a cattle farmer (“For the last time, I am NOT selling my stake in STR, not to Michael Schumacher or Ross Brawn or the local cattle farmer for that matter”). And no, they were not planning to paint it red and make it a Red Bull mascot either. Could it be that with Berger hinting at a Vettel-Bourdais lineup for next year, Speed and Liuzzi are looking for alternate careers? We will keep you posted, as always.

Robert Kubica has been declared fit to race this weekend, but Nick Heidfeld hasn’t been so lucky. It is rumored that all the excess weight from his facial foliage is a strain on his back muscles, and he has been flown to the hospital today complaining of back pain. Sebastian Vettel can’t believe his luck, but he could very well be racing again this weekend. It is hoped that Heidfeld will recover within a week if he consents to shave off his beard. Mario Theissen could not be reached for comments.

The Ferrari drivers appear confident for the weekend, and this time around it looks like they really mean it. “We were competitive and I think that can continue for the rest of the weekend” says Felipe. “I would say that this was quite a positive day,” says Kimi, “We worked well and I think we can be competitive this weekend”. It all looks good then, let’s hope for a Ferrari 1-2 this weekend (yet again). Forza!

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ostrich.jpgSpyker driver Christijan Albers has just clarified that he is not “an ostrich”, just in case you were wondering if he was. While the physical resemblance with the above mentioned flightless bird might be very slight indeed, this will still no doubt come as a big relief to the Spyker management. It is felt they might have gotten the mistaken impression owing to Alber’s tendency to duck inside the cockpit and adjust his helmet strap while approaching corners in a F1 car, with the inevitable result of the car not quite making it around. “I do not need to be told what situation I am in. I am not an ostrich” says Albers firmly…which is a rather wierd thing to say coming to think of it (we weren’t aware ostriches need to be told what situation they are in)…but good for him anyway!

We have been wondering a bit about Webbo, the in-house psychic (link) of late here at FFN. He has been strangely silent recently, and we fear his psychic aura has been disturbed (which is not an easy thing to set right, or so we are told). Perhaps an update to the ouja board is in order? While an in-form Webbo would have rattled off several versions of just what every team is doing right or wrong by now…not to mention the usual quota of doomsday prophecies concerning Ferrari, this new avatar is rather reticent by comparison. The only thing he would admit in a recent interview is that he is “not such good friends” with Lewis Hamilton, and hence he “would rather if Fernando won the championship”. Which is his opinion of course, and we respect it, but we can’t help but comment on Hamilton’s apparent prudence in choosing his friends well. No just kidding of course, we really like Webbo here at FFN (honestly we do).

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Going by the recent press Kimi has been getting, you could be forgiven for thinking he is yet to score a point this season. And this is just seven races into the season where he has already won once and finished on the podium two other times. With Stefano and his promises of ‘the real Kimi’, and Luca di Montezemolo hoping to invoke ‘the scary Kimi’ into action, not to mention the currently existing rather lackluster Kimi (judging by his usual standards), it is with a sense of trepidation that one wonders which version is going to report for work this weekend. We just want the one that drove in Suzuka 2005 to be honest. Todt has an explanation though – the first three races were all right. He would have done well in Barcelona if it hadn’t been for that electrical failure. He would have done well in Monaco if he hadn’t clipped the wall and parked in Rascasse like his illustrious predecessor. He would have done well in Canada had it not been such a lottery with the safety cars. He would have done well in USA if he had qualified better and stayed awake during the start. So give the guy a break, all we need is for Kimi to qualify well, stay away from the barriers, stay awake during the race and get a bit lucky with safety cars, and things will be in order. On a serious note, seeing how comfortable he was with the car in Indy during the race, it might just be a matter of time before he starts winning races yet again. Keeping fingers crossed. Forza.

hamiltonmania.jpgJust when you think Damon Hill is done making silly statements, he always surpasses expectations and comes up with the silliest one yet. And this one is pure diamond – he thinks ‘Lewis Hamilton’s likeability is a problem for Alonso’. No, not as in because of Lewis’s ‘likeability’ the team favors him more and hence Alonso’s discomfort (you have to admit it, Nando’s not eminently likeable…unless you are his mother of course), nothing as logical as that. According to Hill – “I think perhaps his (Alonso’s) motivation is more combative and he wants to challenge a rival and he finds it difficult to dislike Lewis. It is hard to race against someone you like. I think Lewis has almost charmed him a little bit!”. Dear God! No doubt Ferrari has been stifling their car development because they have fallen in love with Lewis and don’t want to challenge him too much. Someone’s been having too much alcohol before giving interviews I suspect.

Just in case you aren’t fed up to the teeth already on hearing about how Lewis Hamilton is the paragon of all good virtues, his success seems to be some sort of a cue for former F1 world champions to suddenly spring out of the woodwork, each more eloquent than the other in waxing on about his numerous sterling qualities. While Stirling Moss considers it an honor to be compared with young Lewis, Jackie Stewart thinks Hamilton was kidnapped from Krypton as a child. Prost thinks he is no less than a boon to F1, and Damon gets so overcome by emotion when asked about Hamilton that he can merely gape and look like a goldfish. And the man has done just 7 races. God help us when he wins his world championship (which he is bound to soon, given his current display of talent). Is he a Schumacher or a Senna already? Its too darned early to tell (and that’s just my opinion).

So what is Michael Schumacher going to do after giving Zidane a ride in his shiny black FXX during the French grand prix? If you were hoping the answer is – “drive back to Maranello and work day and night in assisting car development – F1 and otherwise”, you couldn’t be more mistaken. He is apparently off to Stuttgart to play in a re-enactment of football World Cup 1982 final between Germany and Italy. Though why he would want to, considering Italy beat Germany 3:1 in the final, is beyond me. Anyway that aside, 3 days to go for the French GP…will Kimi, Felipe and Ferrari turn it around this time? Keeping fingers crossed.

rossbrawn.jpgOh for heaven’s sakes, someone has started the German Media off again.

Surprisingly for once it doesn’t start with the sentence “Michael Schumacher….”, I know I had to sit down from the shock as well.

This week’s news according to our German friends is that former Ferrari Technical Director Ross Brawn will almost certainly be taking over from Jean Todt as the Team Boss at Ferrari from next year. Of course quite how the German Media know this, when Ross himself hasn’t even met to discuss his future plans with Ferrari yet is just a minor insignificant detail, which we will sweep under the carpet for now.

In light of recent events at Maranello, specifically the rumoured sherbet-gate scandal involving Ferrari Stalwart Nigel Stepney (who is incidentally good friends with our Ross), some media reports are suggesting Ferrari may have just shot themselves in the foot. It is rumoured that Uncle Ross could be absconding off in a huff to Honda instead. Although here at FFN, we do find it difficult to believe that a towering six-foot giant of a man like Uncle Ross is capable of throwing such a hissy fit. And especially not just because a so-called friend of his has been smacked on the back of the hand for supposedly acting like a petulant schoolboy for not getting his own way.

But you never do know with F1 do you? Rumours of recent times have also been discussing the possibility that Ferrari may have approached Renault Team Boss Flavio Briatore to take over at the helm of the Gestione Sportiva, when Jean Todt retires from the role at the end of the year. Although we have to admit we are a little baffled why Ferrari would want to employ a geriatric histrionic drama queen to lead a bunch of “emotional” Italians (according to our shy retiring friend Mr. Lauda), if Ferrari aren’t in crisis already…. They certainly would be with that man leading them. And if Fernando Alonso came over from McLaren, well they could all just stand about in the garage wailing and stomping their feet couldn’t they? What will those German Media Darlings think of next? Ron Dennis to Ferrari as Head of Public Relations?

sparepart.jpgNot one to throw himself into the media spotlight on any given occasion, Nostradamus Lauda (Niki to some) had a few predictions to enlighten us with on the subject. According to the previous World Champion and Ferrari pilot, Ross Brawn will be taking over as Team Boss, and once this occurs a certain Mr Schumacher’s role will become more defined as well…. Well it couldn’t get any more vague could it? (You didn’t think Michael could stay out of the picture for long did you?).

According to Niki, instead of standing around fulfilling the role of ‘mascot’ and ‘eye candy’ for the female spectators and generally looking like a spare part, Michael will become more involved in the teams operations, once Ross has taken over at the helm. Although when pressed on the subject of just what Michael’s future role will be, it seems Niki didn’t have the first darned clue really, which comes as a total surprise I’m sure you’ll agree. So what is our dear Austrian friend basing his speculations on? Ah on the fact Michael turned up to the Spanish, Monaco and Montreal Grand Prix. And we just assumed Michael had been banished from his ‘Schloss’ by Corrinna, for getting under her feet while she was zipping about with the Dyson vacuum cleaner.

felipeandkimi.jpgWhile the rest of the planet are debating whether Mr. Stepney is in fact guilty of eating sherbet dip-dabs while on duty at the Scuderia, and if Ross will or won’t be coming back as Team Boss, it seems the tifosi are more concerned with one thing….

Yup. Will their drivers please shut their pie-holes and stop coming out with all this “we are feeling bullish about our chances in Monaco/Canada/United States/France” twaddle.

Yes it seems less talk and more action is required…and we never thought we’d say less talk in conjunction with the name Kimi Raikkonen who barely manages a sentence without mumbling as it is.

So it remains to be seen what sense if any is going to come out of all this media twaddle, starting with can Felipe and Kimi really take the fight to McLaren this weekend in Magny-Cours. 4 days and counting.

usapodium.jpgPedro de la Rosa thinks Juan Pablo Montoya is talking through his hat when he says “There really always is a favorite driver on the team (McLaren)”. Montoya, we all know, is probably still smarting under the supposed differential treatment meted out to his erstwhile teammate Kimi Raikkonen (especially after his supposed tennis injury), something he probably still hasn’t forgiven Ron Dennis for. Body language experts in the paddock, after careful study of tapes of JPM’s body language (when he was not eating a burger that is) came to a recent conclusion that he suffered from the ‘Alonso Syndrome’ (named after a certain current two time world champion). The syndrome involves paranoia that the team favors the teammate over the affected individual, and also a frequent feeling of ‘being alone’, not to mention rising discomfort levels in the team. You remember the circumstances under which Montoya left Williams of course. But we were talking of Pedro, and what he states is that “Montoya is not right if he says one driver is in a better position than the other one”. Yes Pedro, that would be what Montoya is saying.

Pedro de la Rosa also feels that the current ‘civil war’ between the drivers is helping McLaren as it is supposedly inspiring everyone to do better. “Ever since the (Alonso-Hamilton) fight really began, McLaren has won every race” he says, though he might be putting the cart before the horse there. More like “Ever since McLaren was in the position to win every race, the rivalry has gotten worse” perhaps? Anyway, I can’t see the rivalry really helping McLaren if the drivers end up taking each other out…and Ferrari ends up finishing 1-2…oh, the very thought!

Talking of Ferrari, they are in the middle of yet another crisis if media reports are to be believed. This makes you wonder just what it is about Ferrari that makes them go and land themselves in more crises than you can shake a stick at. Of course we all know the latest Nigel Stepney – mysterious-white-powder-dirty-tricks-legal-proof seesaw that is going on, and we hope the matter comes to an amicable conclusion (Yeah right!). But knowing how unlikely that is (Stepney is bound to be miffed with Ferrari if he has been in the right all along, and Ferrari would be right to be mildly reproachful if Stepney has been going about adding strange looking white powder to the fuel tank), we are kind of torn between alternatives. Having a more-than-healthy affection for Ferrari, we don’t want them looking a tad silly at the end of it all…on the other hand, we really like Stepney too…so we hope even if he is guilty (and nothing has been proven yet), it is some trifling offense like switching the sugar and salt bottles in the factory cafeteria – that can be overlooked by his vast group of admirers.

There is no denying that things are looking more positive on the car front, with both Kimi and Felipe admitting they are very optimistic about forthcoming races. Kimi Raikkonen, who has a penchant for stating obvious truths like “Testing is just testing as usual”, also added that “The car is better for sure now”. Now that Michael Schumacher has clarified that any statement containing the words “Michael Schumacher”, “F1” and “comeback” in the same line is bound to be false, Kimi can breath a little easy and concentrate on staying awake during race starts (he did a wonderful job in Indy otherwise). Felipe was a bit more outspoken (naturally), and says “I’m very happy about the Silverstone tests. As soon as I got in the car I realized there was a big improvement compared to the last races”. Good then, let’s look forward to a few Ferrari wins and podiums coming up ahead. Forza.

michaelsf1comeback.jpgWell it had to happen sooner or later, just to shut some people up really. Ever since Michael announced his retirement from F1 last September, desperate fans have been dying to know just when he is making a comeback in an F1 car. F1 forums have been awash with comments about how Michael should get back in the car, test the car, and even damn well get his tool set out on it. The poor man would even be buried in it if some fans had their way.

Yesterday for the first time since hanging up his shiny red helmet, Michael got back into an F1 car at Ferrari’s 60th Birthday Celebrations in Maranello. Although we do hear it was a bit touch and go to start with, as Michael has been having a few too many doughnuts recently (and why not, I love doughnuts). Although he managed to squeeze into the tight cockpit of the F2004, there were concerns he might have trouble getting back out. So Kimi and Felipe were on hand with an extra large bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to do the needful. You know I’m only kidding.

The final day of celebrations of Ferrari’s 60th Birthday, witnessed more than a thousand Ferrari road cars accompany the very first Ferrari built, to Fiorano to kick off the day’s events. Even Kimi was allowed to drive one of the vintage Ferrari’s in the celebration, presumably it had been insured beforehand for collisions with barriers, engine blow-ups and vodka and rollmop stains on the interior. (By the way if your wondering when I’ll stop giving Kimi a hard time, I promise it will be when he next wins a race).

nostradamuslauda.jpgFerrari Formula 1 Drivers from the past, such as Jean Alesi, Gerhard Berger, Jody Scheckter, Rene Arnoux, Ivan Capelli and Nino Vaccarella along with more recent incumbents such as Kimi, Felipe, Michael etc put on a stunning historical display of Ferrari F1 cars through the ages.

Even Nostradamus Lauda was present, but presumably the mad-cap Austrian wasn’t to be trusted with a vintage Ferrari, instead he was babysat by Ferrari President Luca Di Montezemolo presumably to prevent him coming out with any unfortunately timed crazy predictions about the end of the universe as we know it. Surprisingly the Ferrari President wasn’t on his tractor for once.

In the evening, there was a fireworks display and auction, which raised 220,000 Euros for charity, which Ferrari will be donating to paediatric clinics in Bologna and Modena. It is understood some of the auctioned items included the bonnet and underbody of the F2004, and a vast array of items that had been given to Ferrari over the years. It is not thought Felipe Massa’s lucky underpants and Michael Schumacher’s infamous socks were part of the auction, rumour had it that Kimi kindly paid Felipe to keep his underpants locked away for the good of everyone.

maranellocelebrations2.jpgA perfectly wonderful end, to what must have been a slightly crazy week for the Maranello Clan.

Meanwhile, on the back of much vaunted criticism of late of one of their drivers, we’ll leave you to guess which one, Jean Todt and Luca Di Montezemolo have publicly stood up and given the Kimster (you guessed right) their vote of confidence.

While Luca Di has been suggesting we will see the real Kimi soon (as soon as they find him obviously), Jean Todt has publicly stated “They are the drivers for the present and the future of Ferrari. It’s up to us to give them a good car”. Thereby trying to put an end to the speculation that just about everyone else in the pit lane will be taking over Kimi’s seat at Ferrari next year. Although we here at FFN are at a loss to understand how Ferrari would intend fitting 21 guys in one F1 car anyway, especially considering the size of some of their ego’s.

So Kimi can finally breathe a sigh of relief that he has at least the backing of his management, even if the rest of the world is carping on like a bunch of miserable fishwives.

It remains to be seen though if and when Kimi can regain the form he had at McLaren that apparently had his opponents quaking in fear. Here at FFN we are hoping it’s sooner rather than later, if only to shut up the mindless coma-inducing drivel coming out of the mouths of them management folk.

According to reports that have surfaced in this week’s motorsports media, Ferrari President Luca Cordero Montezemolo (Or Luca Di Tractor Man as we affectionately know him) has been hoping for the real Kimi Raikkonen to return.

thesmilingimpostor.jpg“We are waiting for the real Raikkonen, the one that everyone fears,” Luca Di apparently told Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper. “Michael has said that Kimi and Fernando [Alonso] were his toughest rivals and Alonso has said the same about Raikkonen and Schumacher. Kimi has always been in the fight and now we are waiting for him to go back to being the one that everyone fears – and we are convinced that he will do it.” whittered the Ferrari President.

Of course you know here at FFN reports like this only get the cogs grinding round. Firstly if Ferrari are hoping for the real Kimi to return, we are wondering where exactly has the original one been all this time, on vacation to the moon?

Secondly, just who is this impostor who has been pretending to be Kimi since he joined the Scuderia? We have to admit in hindsight, we had found the fact the current Kimi has let slip a few smiles on occasions very suspicious indeed (especially for someone who looks so dead-pan). But on ‘face value’ we were just accepting Stefano Domenicali’s explanation that he had been told to smile more as part of his contract. Mind you if I was getting paid a reported $50 million, I don’t think I would go around permanently with a face like a wet weekend either.

One other thought, did the real Kimi ever have any of his rival F1 drivers cowering with fear in their garages? We could understand if people were a little frightened of say Michael Schumacher, presumably because you never knew if he was going to hunt you down all race then drive you off into the gravel to steal your championship points.

One could also understand if one was a little afraid of Alfonso Eyebrows. The man is a walking hissy fit about to happen at any moment, and you’d never be quite sure when the rattle could come flying out the pram and bop you straight on the forehead. But Kimi, striking fear into the hearts on his rivals? What with his ability to systematically detonate an engine at will? We are shaking in our boots.

It would seem Nigel Stepney has not been the only one at Ferrari on the Sherbet Dip-Dab.

ournigeagain.jpgTalking of which, our Nige has popped out the woodwork today to defend himself. Currently on holiday in the Philippines with his family, Nige has said he has every confidence the investigation currently taking place back in Italy will clear him of any wrongdoing.

According to Nige, he found out about the investigation through the internet whilst holidaying, and is a little baffled while people are claiming he is uncontactable when Ferrari knew exactly where he was going on holiday.

Nigel went onto claim the investigation is part of a dirty tricks campaign by Ferrari to smear his name, although presumably if you had been up to anything just a little bit naughty you’d be a bit of a buffoon to admit as much to the media wouldn’t you?

According to Nige’s Lawyer, there is a possibility of a press conference being held when Nige returns to Italy so he can answer publicly any of the charges laid at his door. It still remains to be seen exactly what Ferrari are accusing our Nige of, apart from wanting to abscond off to Honda that is.

We can’t wait for the next thrilling instalment of the Ferrari versus Our Nige public handbag slinging debacle.

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