September 2007


Here at FFN we are extremely concerned. Has someone been slipping something into the drinking water in the F1 paddock? Or is it merely the mysterious effects of the mountain air?

This week it seems the glossy PR, carefully worded press statements and ‘more slippery than an eel in a politician’s pocket’ approaches have gone out the window. Nearly everyone has descended into that age-old bastion of forthright opinions, spouting nonsense and name calling that is usually reserved for the likes of Niki Nostradamus Lauda.

certified-half-wit.JPGThus far this week we have had the FIA’s president Max Mosley no less shooting straight from the hip and telling us that former World Champion Jackie Stewart is a certified half-wit. We wonder if that certificate is courtesy of the FIA and mounted in a silver-gilded frame at Sir Jackie’s Mansion.

According to Mr Mosley, Jackie should shut his trap and stop spewing forth rubbish concerning the Spygate Scandal when he wasn’t in fact there or actually have the first darned clue what the evidence in the case was. Mind you after reading the lengthy transcript from the said same hearing on September 13th we’d be entirely surprised if anyone else who attended did, as Ferrari’s Lawyer Nigel Tozzi did seem to be able to talk the hind legs off a donkey.

And really what else are former forgotten F1 heroes of days gone past supposed to do when a microphone is shoved towards their left nostril? Start talking about the latest trend in knitted cardigans, slippers and the price of chewing tobacco?

The forthright expression of opinions does not stop there either (although we are perplexed at how quiet old Nostradamus has been this week). Indeed this week Ferrari’s President Luca Di Whatisname has popped out of the Maranello woodwork with a controversial statement or three. According to the tractor driving axe-wielding Italian, it matters little whoever shall win the World Drivers Championship this year out of the current contenders (Alonso, Hamilton, Raikkonen or Massa) as it will be done in a car that has a made in Maranello sticker firmly on it. Despite the fact McLaren insist most vehemently that no part of their current car comes from Ferrari…it just rather coincidentally has red paint on parts of it.

ickle-felipe.JPGEven the odd Ferrari driver has jumped into the fray this week. Usually ickle Felipe leaves the politics to the mudslinging old farts from the paddock, but he couldn’t quite resist the urge to get a dig in at rival team McLaren. Ickle Felipe apparently declaring that Ferrari’s 15th Constructors Title is in no way tainted by what has happened this year, because his team have won it by working very hand and sticking to playing by the rules. (Instead of nipping out back and borrowing one of Stepney’s illicit instruction manuals we assume).

When asked to comment on why he felt McLaren did not appeal their punishment at the hands of the FIA, ickle Felipe is reported to have said something along the lines of “Usually, in any sport, if you do something wrong you have to pay the penalty and I think the decision that they did do something wrong is reinforced as being correct exactly by the fact they did not appeal”.

Given that McLaren’s own witnesses seemed to have done a thorough job of shooting themselves firmly in the foot at the last attempt, is it any wonder they aren’t too keen at going back for round two? As one casual observer quipped “McLaren’s Paddy Lowe couldn’t lie straight in bed” whatever that means!

kimbot.JPGThe only man who seems immune to all the handbags flying overhead is Ferrari’s Kimbot. As ever his usual serene self, the Kimster has been concerning himself only with the on track action, what time the ice hockey is on TV, wheeling around Fuji on a motorbike with some bald headed chap and if he is getting meatballs for his evening meal. Despite only having 10 mumbled words to his vocabulary and disappearing off at a moments notice from Grand Prix, here at FFN we are beginning to really appreciate Kimi’s simple approach in contrast to some of the screaming fishwives that inhabit the paddock.

Despite earlier in the season declaring a media truce, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso have come out at Fuji with feathers flying in just about every direction. Still smarting from their on track set-to at Spa, Lewis has commented that Alonso just isn’t who he thought he was. Presumably Lewis wasn’t expecting a reclusive, non-talkative (unless there is a reporter in front of him) histrionic drama queen with a penchant for driving you up the wall for a team mate then when the Double World Champion joined the Woking outfit. Leading us to wonder if he had been watching cartoons previously while the rest of us watched F1.

Lewis has decided to spark a psychological war via the tabloids, by claiming that the team now know who to back in the drivers title challenge, given the events of the last few weeks. Lewis has intimated that Nando has not been loyal to the team (given that he dumped them right in it with the FIA presumably) and therefore the team will now rally around Lewis’s cause.

is-this-roy-orbison-or-fernando.JPGNando has apparently countered this statement saying he now feels very happy within the team and can’t see any reason why he won’t stay, and he will do his talking on track thank you very much. Followed quickly by half a dozen press releases saying that he can’t quite believe all the garbage being written in the press about him, he is on speaking terms with Ron Dennis and has always been (much to our chagrin) and that he doesn’t expect any first corner accidents involving him and that annoying Englishman, because they are both intelligent human beings. Presumably to be followed shortly after on Sunday, by giving Lewis a good brake-testing just to remind him who he is dealing with.

Phew! So with all these harsh words being bandied about we can only hope we are in for a very exciting weekend of racing, that’s if the drivers and team bosses remember to put their handbags away and get on with the business in hand of course!

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michaels-modest-hut.JPGHeading into the last three Grand Prix of the curent Formula 1 season much of the news and rumours surrounding the paddock concern the drivers market.

This season being no exception to previous ones with the exception we are not wondering this time what Michael Schumacher might be upto (apart from the important business of tinkering with his new Schloss that is).

As FerrariFan previously reported Fernando Alonso is keeping everyone guessing, with rumours that he is joining just about every other team plus some in his bid to escape the incessant chattering of McLaren Team Principal Ron Dennis. Obviously having seen that Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen made a great escape, Nando it is rumoured is attempting to follow suit. Not least because he probably feels that his temper tantrum throwing ways should fit in well with a team that historically had been known for throwing the odd few itself on occasion (Ferrari just in case you were unsure who I was prattling on about).

But it is not just Nando’s eyebrow movements that are keeping the tifosi on their toes and potentially having them pulling tufts of hair out, oh no.

It would seem according to current rumours, other changes could be afoot at Ferrari as well apart from the obvious difficulty the team are going to encounter trying to cram Felipe Massa and Nando into the same car.

jean-todt2.JPGAccording to the latest scurrulous rumours Ferrari CEO Jean Todt could be receiving his pension and bus pass sooner rather than later. It is understood in some of the less prestigious sections of the media that Jean is under increasing pressure from the top to give up his role of Team Boss to make way for former Technical Director Ross Brawn. Jean however it is thought is less than willing to give over the reins of power as is often the way with people of dimunitive stature (just look at Bernie!).

Here at FFN we think we have hit upon the solution. Given that Jean is not very big anyway, why not keep them both, after all if Jean sat on Ross’s knee on the pitwall (and Ross being a great hulking figure of a man) he would finally be able to see what the deuces is going on track and lead the team from there, instead of having to be resigned to campaigning for the teams annual shiny pot allowance in courtrooms in Paris.

Yesterday we also learnt that former glorified Mechanic and top of Max Mosley’s Christmas Card list Nigel Snitch Stepney is penning his autobiography. The lengthy tome entitled “Red Mist” which will highlight all areas of Nigel’s life (car chases, white powder, secret dossiers, love trysts with Coughlan and whether he knows his beard is only second in silliest to Alonso’s) will be available in bookshops next year.

Ever the thoughtful type we are to understand ‘Steppers’ is not penning this great work of fiction to make any money (I’m not rolling my eyes in incredibility honestly) but to put across his version of events in the spygate saga amongst other things. How incredibly kind of him, we are presuming since Nige doesn’t want any money for the honour, it will be perfectly acceptable for us to ‘borrow’ a copy from the local bookshop, sneak it out under our coats, take a photocopy on McLaren’s behalf and return the original from whence it came.

the-artist.JPGGiven that our Nige has gone on record in the past talking about knowing where Ferrari keep their dead bodies (we had presumed a cemetary but maybe that’s naive) we are wondering if this lengthy revelation may have half the staff at Maranello downing tools and heading off en masse with spades in hand preparing a plot on his behalf.

If other scurrulous rumours are to be believed yet more changes may be afoot amongst Ferrari’s other encumbants. Here at FFN we understand Mario Almondo is looking to set up his own cake baking emporium, Luca Di Montezemolo is thinking about going into hairdressing (I promise I won’t make a pun about his cutting remarks) and Luca Baldisserri it is thought will be donning a beret and heading off into the sunset with his crayons to be an artist.

Where this leaves the likes of Rob Smedley and Chris Dyer we haven’t got the foggiest, but at least ickle Felipe is giving Luca Colajanni a run for his money in the press release department. Forza.

Oh dear! You do still remember the FIA of course – they played a rather important role in the recently concluded Espionage saga – which led to McLaren losing all their constructor points and a 100 million dollars additionally to boot for having access to Ferrari secret information. As has been rumored, there are no secrets between Ferrari and McLaren now when it comes to car design – all knowledge is just common knowledge. So naturally, at the recent WMSC hearing held in Paris, there were no veiled references to design components or any beating about the bush, but just an open and amicable discussion on whether it was right that Fernando Alonso apparently knows more about the F2007 than Kimi Raikkonen does (whose knowledge is unfortunately limited to “it is red, it is nice and it goes fast”).

Of course what they weren’t all anticipating was that FIA would go about and release the uncensored transcripts on the internet, with the net result that everyone has access not only to Ferrari secret information, but also to McLaren secret information additionally. I bet Jean Todt and Ron Dennis are not exactly thrilled to bits about this new development. It’s always a bit fatiguing when you have spent nearly the entire season painstakingly collecting evidence that sensitive information is in the hands of a rival, only to find the same sensitive information being disseminated to all and sundry because some bungling muppet at FIA doesn’t understand the meaning of “Black out the secret stuff”.

There is also Ross Brawn…who took a temporary break from his attempts to catch at least a single fish before the year is through, just so he could fly all the way to Paris and emphasise on how important the Ferrari weight distribution information is to any strategist worth his salt. And now every member of the paddock (or non-member for that matter) not only knows the Ferrari weight distribution, but also Mike Coughlan’s salary, Alonso’s opinion on the Swiss climate and de la Pink’s know-how (or lack of it) of cylinders and springs. Not the ideal situation.

McLaren driver (at least as of now) Fernando Alonso, also fondly referred to as the in-house recluse by Ron Dennis, is being touted as a possible Ferrari driver for next year, and this is no doubt a bit concerning for the tifosi. Not that we have anything against his driving skills, but Schumi has spoilt us all rotten with all the vivid “happy and winning Ferrari family” imagery, and Nando does have this unfortunately tendency to bring the roof down if things don’t go his way.  Felipe is friendly, Kimi is silent, and Fernando Alonso is apparently neither. Anyway, unless Ferrari can employ 3 drivers and let them take turns, I don’t see how this can be managed. The situation at Toyota seems a bit crowded as well with nearly half the grid being touted to drive for them next year – the latest addition to which is Felipe Massa. Very convenient for Alonso no doubt, but we see no reason why poor Felipe should be so unceremoniously packed off to Toyota when he has exceeded all expectations and matched Kimi in performance this year.

The only hitch is – if Alonso is not driving a red car, he will be driving for a rival – and we all know what a pain in the neck that can be as he is a rather goodish driver one must admit. An insider in Maranello tells us that Luca Colajanni will no doubt demand a hefty pay rise if Nando dons red next year, for he is likely to feel overworked with all the potential damage control. And poor Kimi deserves a break having had teammates like the rather destructive Montoya, and later de la Pink who no doubt plagued him with emails attempting to explain brake balance systems and what not. Anyhow, it will be interesting to observe how this year’s silly season plays up. Hopefully Ferrari will make the right decisions. Forza.

diddums-poor-lewis.jpgIn the aftermath of Spa, British sensation Lewis Hamilton has been openly critical in the media of teammate Fernando Alonso’s aggressive start tactics.

The young Brit complaining that Nando is the first one to throw his rattle out of the pram if someone does something on track that he doesn’t like, and so it was a bit of unfair of him to try and run his main rival (namely Lewis) off the road like that.

Really here at FFN we can’t see what Lewis is complaining about, for a man who claims Michael Schumacher was his inspiration growing up, we’d have thought aggressive attempts to drive your competitor off the road should be order of the day (didn’t he watch Jerez in 1997?)…. Even Sato and Fisichella have been known on occasion to do it in over ambitious overtaking incidents. And you have to consider that young Lewis has been prone to a bit of on track weaving on occasion this season at the beginning of races (I’m referring to his driving tactics not his spare time hobby of wicker basket making just for the record).

the-kimster.jpgSurprisingly Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen (a man well known for not using 10 words if 1 will suffice and generally a master of complete understatement) has leapt into the fray and to the defence of the Double World Champion. The Kimster is reported as saying “I saw the incident on TV after the race and I think there wasn’t anything wrong. That was just part of a hard race. It will be like that for the rest of the season”. We can’t help but feel that it is very kind of the Kimster to step to the defence of the beleaguered Spaniard like that, but then you have to wonder given Kimi’s torrid five years at McLaren where his car was systematically blowing up week in week out if he’d consider it normal if the wheels came off Lewis’s chariot on the start line.

While the McLaren duo continue to battle it out in the media and across the McLaren garage, Ferrari’s Flying Finn is enjoying a more tranquil time. The Kimster is currently sitting out the Jerez test to recover from the sore neck he obtained from his set-to with the barriers in the Ascari Chicane at Monza a week or so back. The unusually verbose Kimster happily chatting away 19 to the dozen to the media about the satisfaction and happiness he is still deriving from his win at Spa, a track which according to the Finn is his favourite. We only hope that Fuji, Shanghai and Interlagos will also be among his favourites in the coming weeks.

Some of you have pointed out on occasion that here at FFN we seem to favour ‘ickle Felipe above the Kimster, and we felt really we should clarify our position on the matter. It simply isn’t true in the slightest, we are just as happy to see Kimi give McLaren a good drubbing as we are ‘ickle Felipe. It’s just that the vodka swilling, gorilla costume wearing, identity stealing, press conference mumbling and poker faced antics of the Kimster are far more fascinating to write about than Felipe who sits shining his halo week in week out. So next time you see me giving the Kimster a hard time it’s all meant with much affection, honestly. Suffice to say I can’t say the same for Nigel ‘Steppers’….

bernie-and-spyker.jpgNow that the Spying Scandal has effectively been brushed under the F1 rug (barring McLaren making an appeal that is), pint sized megalomaniac Bernie Ecclestone is out and about stirring it yet again. This week Bernie has blasted the Spyker team for making no contribution whatsoever to Formula 1. The gospel according to Bernie “They came in and that was it”.

We think that’s a little unfair, as far as we can tell they came in, gave Renault a good run for their money in the most hideous car paint job stakes, created a political storm over customer cars, and systematically tested out the safety and reliability of every tyre wall and barrier in the sport. How can that be called making no contribution? Besides you have to give someone for poor old Jense and Rubens to beat.

Just 24 hours to go until the deadline given to McLaren to appeal their penalty dished out at the last World Motorsports Council Meeting. After perusing the 115 page transcripts of the last meeting we can’t help but think McLaren would be very silly indeed to put themselves through yet more torment at the hands of Ferrari’s Lawyer Nigel Tozzi. Personally if it were me, I’d rather walk over hot coals and eat Flavio Briatore’s trusty Speedo’s but then some people just don’t know to quit when they are ahead.

alonsoanddennis.jpgThe last week has been a revelation of sorts, and I am sure you all agree. Those of us who had understimated Fernando Alonso’s talents to be strictly limited to driving a F1 car, throwing hissy fits, disrupting entire teams and of course doing the finger dance were in for a rude awakening. Little did we know of Alonso-the-revolutionary who had planned a grid protest in Monaco 2006 by lying down in front of Michael’s car…pity the stewards intervened. We all know Schumi doesn’t really mind running over the odd F1 character or two with his car (remember Nigel Stepney and his wobbly knee), and we could have tested the Ferrari damper system at least. Oh well, one can’t have everything.

And then there is Alonso-the-mailbox-spammer and his part in the espionage affair. After personally sticking out my neck for him by writing “If Alonso had known the source of the information, he wouldn’t have touched it with a 10 foot pole”, it was interesting to know that not only did dear Nando apparently know the source, he was literally spamming de la Pink with emails on ways to use the same. While it is heartening to read about the amount of team work Monobrow, de la Pink, Mr. Photocopier and Ferrari’s own altruist Stepney are capable of, it was not entirely appropriate as Stepney belonged to a different team really. If only McLaren had realized that the bright red “confidential” watermark on the Ferrari pages they were perusing meant the pages were confidential, they might have saved on a 100 million dollars at least.

Well, still one might find it within oneself to continue supporting the young two time world champion and his team. After all he is an excellent racing driver and McLaren is a capable F1 team…just with an impaired sense of judgement in differentiating between “mine” and “not mine” when it comes to using information for the betterment of the car. A trait quite common amongst inmates of Leavenworth who don’t consider it morally dubious to walk into a bank and help oneself to someone else’s money.

happynandofromold.jpgBut I would like to make a case for poor Fernando Alonso. What could have caused the normally cheerful, friendly character to transform into this non-communicative, sour and threatening presence in McLaren? Agreed he had his moments – hugging trees, lying down before cars, declaring F1 is not a sport etc. which hinted at slight mental imbalance when under pressure – but one could never have envisaged the world champion as one of those shady characters lurking around dark street corners and terrifying innocent pedestrians (Not that he is one right now, but it might be barely a step away). “He does not speak to anyone much” says Ron Dennis, “He is a remarkable recluse for a driver”. And therein lies the key!

I consider all this an elaborate ploy from Nando who was desperate to stop the incessant chatter from his teamboss and to enjoy a few moments of peace without the indecipherable Ron-speak constantly ringing in his ears. Can one really blame him for that? When ear-plugs proved to be of no significant help, he took to acting cold, vexed and irritated in turns, but still to no avail. Not one to give up easily, Nando tried denouncing the team to the media, and even tried deliberately obstructing Ron’s golden boy Hamilton during Hungary qualifying. But it appeared nothing could stop Ron from launching into elaborate speeches at the drop of a hat, not even the glassy-eyed look accompanied with the dropping jaw shortly followed by snoring noises. Finally it is rumored he took to threatening Dennis – “Either you stop talking, or I start talking to the media about Stepney and Coughlan”, scarcely imagining Dennis would be silly enough to call his bluff and ping Max Mosley. Anyway the damage is done, the letters were sent and McLaren is out of running for WCC, but at least it has effectively ceased all conversation – which also explains why Alonso has been having the upper hand over Hamilton since Hungary. His reputation might be mud, but in his opinion it is a small price to pay for peace and golden silence – which is why I think he is to be pitied more than censured. With this rather sad surmise, I rest my case. Forza.

spa-francorchamps.jpgAfter a year out from the F1 calendar while revisions were being made to the track, F1 racing finally returned to glorious Spa Francorchamps last weekend.

The week leading up to the Grand Prix had been dominated with the legal wranglings taking place in Paris at the WMSC, with the pitlane on tenterhooks as to what decision if any the FIA would take against McLaren. Who you probably know by now if you have a head, a brain and all the usual limbs etc saw McLaren take a bit of a drubbing, but lucky to escape with a humungous fine, no constructors points and a big arrow above their heads pointing in a southerly direction saying “cheats”.

So it came as great relief to the fans, engineers, drivers and everyone concerned that finally things could move on, the men in grey suits could be banished back into their broom cupboards and we could finally get back to what the sport is ‘supposed’ to be about motor racing.

After a dismal showing at their home grand prix a week previously Ferrari were determined to redress the balance and finally give their fans something to be cheery about, but could their arch rivals stop them?

Securing the first Ferrari front row lockout of the season, things were certainly looking up for the Maranello squad. But it remained to be seen if Kimi and Felipe could manage to go a whole race keeping their McLaren counterparts behind them and without any more mysterious collisions into tyre walls, damper failures (whatever they are when they are at home) or any short term memory loss on the pitwall regarding refuelling.

the-race-start.jpgAs the five red lights went out, both of our boys were wide awake for once and made a great start down into the first corner, with the McLaren duo battling it out behind them. As his team mate drew level with him going into La Source, Fernando Alonso decided he was having none of it from the star rookie and was going to teach him a bit of a lesson as only pushy Double World Champions with a penchant for brake-testing and tantrum throwing are want to do. Nando forced his team mate to go wide at the exit to La Source and the pair ran side by side down into Eau Rouge, but Fernando was determined not to give an inch let alone a mile to his team mate forcing young Lewis to back off or end up as tyre wall fodder.

Apparently this manoeuvre upset the Englishman, but considering he has been carrying out Schumacher-esque chops all season on just about everyone, is he really in a position to complain? Really one cannot expect much better from certain Spaniards who think nothing of cheating, lying, blackmailing his team and shopping them to the governing body really.

At the end of the first lap BMW-Sauber’s Robert Kubica had moved up from 15th to 13th place after being demoted down the grid post qualifying for an engine change. He may have a head shaped like a parsnip but he certainly knows how to drive which can’t be said for some people in F1.

As the second lap was under way Austrian beanpole Alex Wurx spun his car in the bus stop demoting himself right to the back of the pack. Meanwhile Antipodean Mark ‘Whingebag’ Webber (who we should mention has been remarkably quiet of late) seemed to be a man on a mission and stormed past Renault’s Gardening Expert Heikki ‘Grassmower’ Kovaleinen into 6th place. It remained to be seen though if the Red Bull could manage more than a handful of laps before the gearbox gremlins set in.

Out front the Kimster was scampering away having built up a 1.7 second lead in just two laps over teammate Felipe Massa, with petulant Spaniard Fernando Alonso just 1.4 seconds behind him on track.

Proving that his birdnest beard is no hindrance to aerodynamic efficiency bratwurst munching and all round sparkly personality Nick Heidfeld meanwhile was scrapping it out with Grassmower for 7th spot.

Meanwhile Parsnip-chops Robert Kubica was charging up the field and showing one of the “top 3 drivers in F1” Ralf Schumacher a thing or to, by making short work of him on track and snatching away his 8th place.

sutil-v-coulthard.jpgIt would seem Spyker’s B spec car was a bit of an improvement on their usual day-glo eyesore of a shopping trolley, with German Star Adrian Sutil up into 12th spot. The talented pianist and pitlane totty (according to some) was by this stage in proceedings all over the back of David Coulthard’s Red Bull like a bad rash. Whether Mr Magoo noticed or not, or was too busy grooming his grizzly little excuse for a beard in his wing mirrors who can say.

Meanwhile poor little poppet Sebastien Vettel (with slightly frightening shaved head) had come into the pits, gone out again and decided to retire. The 12-year-old lookalike sat patiently in his car in the garage while the mechanics removed the nose cone and poked about the car.

Out front the Kimster and ickle Felipe were scampering away, while Robert Kubica and Heikki Kovaleinen were scrapping it out at La Source. In the Bus Stop Kubica left his braking later than the Finn and shot past like a rocket or at the same speed you’d expect from Kimi had a bottle of Finlandia Vodka been up for grabs.

On lap 14, the first of the pitstops began with Nico Rosberg, Mark Webber and Vitantonio Liuzzi all pitting. The following lap championship contenders Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton came in for the first of their pitstops, and wonders will never cease Ferrari managed to remember all four tyres, fuel and everything. Bravo! It’s amazing what they can do when they have new crayons on that pitwall.

Eventually Adrian Sutil in the Spyker pitted, much to the relief of Mr Magoo in the Red Bull, who then had to fight off the challenge of Robert Kubica in the BMW-Sauber. However, DC managed to use his cube shaped head to his advantage and managed to resist the challenge from the ‘divinely’ inspired and Vatican favourite Pole.

scampering-away.jpgBy the end of lap 20 the Kimster was leading ickle Felipe by 2.3 second and Fandango by 11.8 seconds, so much for the drubbing McLaren were going to dole out in response to their slapped hand at the WMSC courtesy of arch rivals Ferrari then.

A few laps later further pitstops taking place, with Jense (once loved by the British Media) Button and Liuzzi coming in, and a lap later Mr Magoo coming in releasing Kubica out on track.

On lap 31 the Kimster decided to come in presumably because he had run out of Roll-Mops and Vodka, and incidentally took on some fuel, new tyres and a Spiderman comic to read on his way round to the chequered flag. Meanwhile poor Cube-head Coulthard retired in the Bus stop due to a technical failure on the Red Bull, oh well if he waited long enough presumably some public transport would drop by and pick him up. Well it must be called ‘The Bus Stop’ for a reason!

The following lap ickle Felipe came into the pits for a second time, meanwhile out on track Takuma “suicidal move” Sato managed to pass Jense Button in the Honda, the Honda B Team still spanking the Honda A team good and proper. Haven’t Honda recalibrated that blooming wind tunnel yet?

By lap 33 Alonso had come in for his second pitstop releasing his teammate Lewis Lovechild up into 2nd spot, However 3rd placed ickle Felipe has already pitted and Lewis hadn’t meaning that it was only a matter of time before the Ferrari front position lock out was back on again.

A few laps later Hamilton came into the pits for his second stop, while Jense retired down at Honda…well what can you expect from a car that has about as much mechanical grip as an oiled haddock on a skating rink and all the aerodynamic efficiency of a 1970’s style afro.

Out front the Kimster was now 14 seconds ahead and rumouredly having to receive electro-convulsive therapy every few seconds from race engineer Chris Dyer to keep him from slipping into an afternoon nap as he is want to do on occasion.

With two laps remaining both ickle Felipe and young Lewis both started putting pressure on their respective “No.1” team mates, the McLaren rookie nearly losing it at Pouhon, but fortunately the tarmac run off area allowed him to continue, no doubt if a gravel trap had maliciously intervened there wouldn’t have been enough time for a crane to come out and rescue him before the race had finished.

the-race-winner.jpgThe Kimster then lead home a much needed Ferrari 1-2 much to the delight of the tifosi and the team, and even managed a rare show of emotion by doing a donut in his F2007 before entering the pitlane prompting everyone to wonder just who had been driving the Ferrari that afternoon. He even managed to crack a smile on the podium…we are deeply concerned…what have Ferrari been doing to him?

Meanwhile Nando Alone-so was looking increasingly uncomfortable during the podium celebrations, no doubt because he was out numbered 3-1 by Ferrari men even if he did know their brake balance, weight distribution, wives shopping habits, favourite meals and bank balances.

So now just 9 days to go until the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji, and the fight is on for the World Drivers Championship, with just 2 points between the McLaren duo and the Kimster 13 points behind. All it needs is a Banana in the odd McLaren tail pipe and let battle commence! That’s unless McLaren decide to appeal their conviction and end up even deeper in the mire with the WMSC.

Forza Ferrari!

Suffice to say here at FFN even with our over-enthusiastic imaginations and propensity for making up a load of old twaddle on a rather regular basis, we have come to the startling realisation this week that we have been totally outclassed and could be out of a job.

Back in June when it first came to light that a certain former Ferrari Mechanic had escaped from his broom cupboard back at Maranello, and disappeared off on his jollies with a sample of mysterious white powder down his red breeches and some top secret 780 page light bedtime reading under his arm, little did we realise that a saga to top anything Hollywood could come up with was about to unfurl before our very eyes.

wmsc-meeting.jpgSince the World Motorsports Council Meeting (WMSC) on Thursday, skeletons have been popping out of wardrobes at a somewhat alarming rate. The only person who hasn’t had a scallywag jumping unexpectedly out of his bedroom furniture it would appear is Ferrari CEO Jean Todt, and only then we assume on account that there is no room amongst his 67 identical red sweaters coupled with the fact his wardrobe is only 3 foot high anyway which is a bit cramped for the average set of bones.

On Thursday shortly after the WMSC delivered the verdict on the spy scandal that has somewhat monopolised F1 of late (not to mention nearly warn my keyboard out), details began to emerge about the reasons behind the decision by the WMSC to impose what some thought was a draconian punishment of magnificent proportions on the McLaren team. After all, if reports from the McLaren camp were to be believed they hadn’t done anything wrong, and nobody had seen anything…. So it was all a bit unfair wasn’t it?

delapinkandnando.jpgWe soon learnt that McLaren had very narrowly missed out on getting a 2 year ban from the sport (and only then being saved by pint sized megalomaniac Bernie Ecclestone) due to new evidence that had come to light. According to the FIA report that was shortly to follow, various McLaren drivers namely Pedro the Pink and Fandango Eyebrows-agogo had during the course of a few months been gossiping like a bunch of wishwives on the McLaren computer system concerning secret information that was being passed over by McLaren’s resident photocopying expert Mike Coughlan. The only thing missing from this cosy set up we are to understand being a set of knitting needles, a ball of wool and blue rinses all round. McLaren’s other driver Lewis Hamilton only missing out on account he wasn’t old enough to join in.

Without boring you too much with all the nitty-gritty details (and I’ll gladly admit the fact my eyes glazed over, I slipped out my chair and started dribbling like an idiot after the first page) Mike Coughlan and Nigel Stepney had not only exchanged some light bedtime reading, but something in the region of 288 sms messages, 35 phone calls and unlimited number of clandestine love trysts between March and July, systematically passing over details of just about everything you can think of to do with Ferrari, strategies, weight ratios, tyre pressures, Ferrari President Luca Di’s real age, and what was on the menu at Il Cavallino. All top secret stuff.

This was then digested and discussed between McLaren’s Spanish contingent via email and texts, with the intention of testing some of it out, purely out of curiosity of course. Fandango apparently asking Pink to clarify that the source was genuine and in his reply Peter Pink replied something like:

Dearest Temperamental Tantrum Throwing One,

Yes it is genuine. It’s that bloke with the poor kneecap and dodgy beard who used to prance around the pitlane at Ferrari before Michael Schumacky tried running him over. Yes, yes the one with white powder down his long johns. Well he is friends with Xerox Mike and Mike said he can even tell us what lap that vodka swilling Finnish bloke will pit (I mean retire due to a car failure) on.

Yours Forever with kisses on top, Pedro (pouting coz I didn’t get the race drive) Pink

Anyway before you all slip into a coma, I had better stop whittering on and get to the point (assuming there is one). Ah yes, the FIA like Ferrari didn’t take too kindly to all this emailing secrets willy-nilly. Presumably because racing drivers should be outside risking life and limb, doing what they are paid for and not embroiling themselves in espionage and dodgy goings on and getting F1 into the media in America finally which Bernie never quite managed despite his best efforts.

After much deliberation, it was decided that really McLaren had been rather naughty, and it wasn’t going to wash just because Ron had apparently not known all of this was going on under his nostrils. Perhaps Ron had been too busy polishing his slaphead and acting like a pompous twit all these years instead of paying attention to what his employees were up to.

mad-max.jpgFIA president Mad Max was all for despatching the McLaren team out of Formula 1 for 2007 and 2008 for cheating, but tempered by Bernie and some of the other members of the WMSC eventually relented and allowed them to stay in the sport albeit minus $100 million of their pocket money and without any constructors championship points. Boo hoo.

Max later confirmed he also had considered stripping the McLaren drivers of their points as well, but since he had offered them amnesty for snitching he couldn’t really go back on his word.

As the week wore on, more bizarre stories began escaping out of the woodwork. There were suggestions that Fernando Alonso had held his team to ransom over the information he held, demanding to be given preferential treatment after the Nurburgring Debacle. However Nando probably didn’t reckon on McLaren CEO Ron Dennis deciding to dob his own team into the FIA and his plan to gain number one status fell about as flat as a cowpat.

Here at FFN we are a little baffled then why McLaren seemed so shocked and surprised to be found guilty and on the receiving end of a supposedly draconian punishment, when they had provided the evidence to hang, draw and quarter themselves. Doh!

Suffice to say McLaren and Ron’s reputations now lay in tatters, even the once partisan British Media laying into them for cheating and even suggesting their golden boy really shouldn’t be allowed to race for the drivers championship, as it is now considered tainted.

lucadi.jpgFerrari have no such qualms about their provisional World Championship Constructors pot being tainted thank you very much, Luca Di announcing that he really didn’t mind if they had to win it in the courtroom as long as he had something to pop into his trophy cabinet. Presumably now the trophy hogging German who had filled up Maranello with pots left, right and centre has retired, Luca Di is feeling somewhat aggrieved at the odd few young Kimi and Felipe have managed to muster together this season.

Ron has apparently suggested over the weekend that he doesn’t know if McLaren will appeal the ruling that has branded them cheats and left them worse off than pantomime baddies, because he wants to achieve closure. Looking visibly strained the McLaren CEO commented that he wants to do what is in the best interests of F1 and if that means not appealing so be it.

Call us old cynics, but we thought that McLaren might not want to appeal on account they would have to endure another lengthy day of bickering with the pint sized Yoda from Ferrari over the table in Paris, only to come out with an even bigger punishment and a boot shoving them out the door of F1 for a lengthy period. But what would we know.

billy-no-mates.jpgMeanwhile, with all this going on, the man whose evidence sealed McLaren’s fate …yes Mr. Fandango Popular….doesn’t seem to be overly concerned that the brown stuff has the hit fan because he has been acting like a petulant 6 year old child. Nando refused all race weekend in Spa to comment on his role in the sorry saga, and said he would only speak to journalists about normal racing things like tyres, strategies…and presumably Ferrari’s weight distribution if they asked nicely.

Additionally he doesn’t seem to be at all concerned that he may lose the support of his team over the affair, claiming that he is staying where he is and happy while he still has a winning car. That’s until the wheels start falling off one by one and bananas are found sticking mysteriously out the exhaust pipe. Perhaps amongst all his other talents of tantrum throwing, blackmail, media manipulation and mind games, Nando is also a secret dab hand at engineering and will be setting up his own car in future to ensure those dastardly British people don’t sabotage his championship hopes.

With more evidence due to be released by the FIA later on in the week, we can only assume more bizarre twists and turns will seep out the woodwork and the F1 soap opera will continue apace. If any more ‘smoking guns’ are found, we are thinking Nando might want to invest in a bullet proof vest for under his race suit. Stay tuned, that’s unless you’re called Nige in which case you probably know how this one will end.

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