This week some of the F1 fraternity has been back in action again this time in the sunny climes of Spain. Well we say sunny, unfortunately though the teams haven’t seen much of it with the first two days at Montmelo (Circuit de Catalunya) being on the receiving end of some British style weather (we do like to share).
It is rumoured that perhaps the Meteorological Office might be persuaded to pull their fingers out and get things sorted in exchange for a few Grand Prix tickets and a bit of advertising on the odd ‘Earth-themed’ car.
Yesterday, Ferrari’s Felipe or ‘Flippi’ Massa topped the time sheets during a session marred by plenty of precipitation. Despite being allegedly highly allergic to the wet stuff (according to nonsensical internet rumours anyway), Flippi only managed one small uncharacteristic off-track excursion during the days proceedings, and only then just to check to see if Team Manager Baldo had sneakily dozed off in the garage.
The diminutive Brazilian then handed over the F2008 to Luca Badoer to carry on proceedings for the afternoon. No doubt you will be glad to know our reporter on the ground there managed to get a glimpse of Flippi as he scuttled back into the garage to avoid the rain and nary a hive could be found residing on his chubby little face. Thank heavens for that.
Ferrari’s Champion the Kimster is not due to attend the test until Friday, and current circulating reports are suggesting the poor Finn may have been struck down with a case of that deadly contagion the ‘Man-Flu’. According to some, the poor WDC has a runny nose and a case of the sniffles and had to take to his bed in his favourite red pyjamas (with go faster stripes of course!). It is beginning to look like the only new red shiny nose we are going to see this week is the one firmly attached to the Finn’s face.
No doubt you have probably already come across much speculation and rumour surrounding a new nose cone design concept that the Ferrari team was considering putting onto the F2008.
The concept involving a hole in the nose to increase the aerodynamic efficiency of the front of the car, has been much discussed of late on F1 forums and bulletin boards. The Italian media had also gone as far as suggesting it would be making an appearance in this weeks Barcelona test…but thus far the nose has not been forthcoming. We are beginning to wonder if the clever design engineers at Ferrari HQ have been having a great titter all along behind the legendary gates of Maranello, pulling our proverbial legs.
Yesterday arch-rivals McLaren wisely decided again sit out the rainy weather and save their testing mileage. Unnamed sources in the paddock suggest the team spent most of the rain-hit session playing I-spy Alonso, noughts and crosses on their laptops and playing about with the strange flaps attached to the wheel fairings.
It is still a matter of debate whether these strange wheel attachments are indeed an aero device, a measuring device, a satelite system, or a tv signal booster, perhaps only time will tell. Personally we were hoping for some spikes out the side to shred the oppositions tyres, but you know we can’t have it all and we are prone to getting carried away with things on the odd occasion.
The Red Bull’s of Mark Webber and David Coulthard posted the second and fourth fastest times of the day on the wet Montmelo circuit, as always with testing it is nigh on impossible to know just exactly what teams are upto in their testing programmes. But we are hoping here at FFN that the team has managed to put all their technical gearbox glitches behind them and have finally found their wiiings.
Local hero Fernando Alonso posted the fifth fastest time of the day in his R28, but was reportedly none too happy with the car’s handling during the day. Ferrari’s other test driver Marc Gene (who we think must have the cushiest number in F1 since he only works about two days a year), has reportedly suggested that the Renault team and Alonso could in fact be hiding their true pace and are possibly ‘sandbagging’ during recent tests.
Fernando has cautiously played down his chances of being able to get race wins and podiums next year, and in one interview in the Spanish Press pointed out that even Michael Schumacher had to spend 5 seasons at Ferrari before bagging the next WDC shiny pot. Since Fernando has insisted he will retire once he has won 3 WDC, we can only presume he is no nearer to picking up his pension than we are and on a reported $46 million a year we wouldn’t be too quick to retire for a free bus pass either.
Renault’s Team Principal Flavio Briatore also went on record yesterday as suggesting that the Double World Champion and Renault resumed talks about returning to the Enstone based team as early as the opening Grand Prix in 2007 in Melbourne. This may come as a surprise to many that things seem to have turned so sour so quickly for the Spaniard at McLaren, seemingly before he even got out on track for a set-to with his illustrious team-mate the Hamster. However, we can only wonder what took him so long to come to his senses, mind you it took Kimi five years….
More to follow shortly….