Yesterday witnessed two more F1 teams officially launch their challengers for the 2008 championship. With both Honda and Renault having already given us a sneak preview of their chargers at the recent testing session in Valencia, albeit without the final paint scheme in Honda’s case.

happy-families.jpgRenault’s Prodigal son Fernando Alonso has been speaking out today and informing us that the 2008 car is roughly 1 second off the pace of the likes of the McLaren and Ferrari. We are not entirely sure of the reasons behind making such information public, unless Alonso is trying to subtly lower our expectations.

Naturally we are a little bemused by such newfound cautious behaviour, since the self-proclaimed expert on car development is going to bring at least 6 tenths of a second or even more in the intervening time between now and the season opener in Melbourne, and he is going to absolutely wipe the floor with his rookie team-mate…. of course. Hopefully all those tenths of a second he will be accruing over his team-mate, might mean Nando can actually make time to attend a hairdressing salon between now and Interlagos, we wouldn’t want his flowing locks to get wrapped around the front axle and cause any unfortunate on-track misdemeanours.

Fandango’s new team-mate Nelson ‘I’m so handsome’ Piquet Jnr is looking forward enormously to his F1 debut, and believes there will be no repeat of the shenanigans that went on at McLaren last year, on account that Renault team principal Flav would simply not allow it. Presumably there will be no repeat in inter-team-mate hostile relations, because if anyone is going to throw a tantrum and act like a 6 year old girl at a birthday party…. It’s going to be Flav. Everyone else will just have to wait patiently in line.

While Renault were launching their car in Paris, Honda were launching their 2008 “charger” at their operations centre in Brackley…although we feel the town should be renamed Bracken to be in-keeping with Honda’s environmental theme. Gone is the humungous planetoid of 2007, replaced with a smaller globe (they orbit faster we reckon) and instead of any corporate advertising the RA108 is plastered with the environmental logo ‘earth dreams’.

We are a little bit confused to whom this apparent marketing ploy is pitched, apart from earthworms and long-haired, bicyle-riding, sandal-wearing hippy geologists. It’s definitely not for the poor legion of F1 fans that spend on average 3 days every July wading around up to their armpits in mud and rain, catching the common cold at Silverstone, is it?

is-it-a-dream-or-a-ruddy-nightmare-honda.jpgNew Team Boss Uncle Ross informs us that there are many parts to come on the car before the season opener in Melbourne, and really we shouldn’t be at all concerned that the RA108 was trundling around in the recent test at Valencia slower than Ron Dennis on his way to a WMSC meeting.

At the official Honda Launch, Jense, Rubens and Nick Fry were witnessed waxing lyrical about their new team boss, and the fact they are definitely going to be challenging for the 2009 season championship (so sorry, Ferrari) which as far as we can tell is no different from any other year they have been in the sport….and apparently going to win it. I’m still counting chickens.

Meanwhile Ross has been keen to point out that he will be concentrating on building up the team and its processes, practices and philosophies rather than walking in the door with a 780 page dossier on how to build a vintage 2007 Ferrari. Are we to presume Honda hasn’t even successfully mastered that immensely difficult task of operating a photocopier yet? Is there any hope? Can you help them please Obi-wan Kenobi?

Suffice to say it is not just us here at FFN that are pleased to hear this, because the grid is already half full of white liveried cars, and adding another duo of red ones (to the already present two) will just cause more confusion than it will solve. Not to mention McLaren wouldn’t know whom to protest about first, and just think of those poor pitcrews charging out of their garage like a nest of frenzied ants, only to realise the car coming down the pitlane isn’t theirs after all. And then there are the race stewards…who already seem to not have the faintest idea what day of the week it is let alone who owns what car…..

no-fancy-hats-in-f1-please.jpgMeanwhile the FIA has been looking into introducing a budget cap for all F1 teams, to limit spending and help level up the playing field. The Ferrari team is apparently not too keen on the idea, while other teams seem to be in favour of Max’s latest fashion craze.

FIA president Max Mosley today has suggested that all the F1 teams should be paying in the region of £2 million a year for accountants to ensure that each team is sticking to the budget cap, and not circumventing the rules.

Here at FFN we are all for levelling up the playing field and ensuring the continuity of independent teams within the sport. But we are at a loss to understand where cheaper headgear comes into the equation and how a bunch of grossly overpaid glorified bean counters are going to enforce it. It just wouldn’t have happened if Michael Schumacher were still in the sport! Bring back that cowboy hat pronto!

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