michael-in-barcelona-test.jpgThis week so far, with the exception of the Super Aguri Team (who are currently holding financial crisis talks in Japan – some people go to any lengths to avoid the RA107), all of the Formula 1 fraternity have been taking part in a group test session at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona.
This is the last group testing session to occur before the 2008 Formula One season begins in earnest in Melbourne Australia on March 16th.

If media reports are anything to go by, the first day of testing was largely dominated by the three way duel out for the top spot between McLaren’s young star Lewis ‘Hamster’ Hamilton, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Formula 1’s most highly decorated and overpaid test driver one Mr. Michael Schumacher.

Despite the day starting off with damp track conditions, presumably as a result of climatic conditions e.g. precipitation, conditions on the black stuff steadily improved throughout the course of the day allowing all of the teams to at least obtain some semi-useful data. We are of course making the assumption that rain was the guilty party, and not the horde of journalists all wetting themselves in anticipation of seeing some 40 year-old German fellow squeezing into an F1 car.

As the day wore on, the talented trio continually traded fastest lap for fastest lap. Sending F1 forumites into a frenzy of manic analysis about what it all meant, trying to decipher who was the undisputed king of the track and whom would be going out of the circuit at sunset with their reputation in tatters and their head in a paper bag.

kimi-looking-impressed.jpgFerrari’s flying Finnster narrowly missed out on setting the fastest lap of the day on his final run, but alas after setting the fastest first two sectors the mumbling maestro unfortunately came across some traffic which held him up in the last sector. It just so happened the traffic in question was a certain German in a bright red F2008 cheekily ensuring he had the last word as usual.

As a result McLaren’s Hamster got to keep top spot by the width of a cat’s whisker (domestic feline of course and not a man-eating Sabre tooth) giving the Woking boys something to be cheerful about for a change. After all if you grimace for long enough there is always the terrible risk of the wind changing and you end up looking like Max Mosley in a meeting. Frightening Thought.

Speaking after the day’s session had expired, Michael meanwhile kindly divulged his impressions of the F2008, his thoughts on his team’s chances for the upcoming 2008 season, as well as pointing out that Williams Star Nico Rosberg is the man to watch for the future. (On track and not in shampoo commercials you understand).

According to the Titlemeister, the F2008 is an improvement on the F2007. Naturally this comes as some welcome news, otherwise we can imagine Luca Di starting to ask some rather pertinent questions of his highly paid employees about what the devil they have been up to in the last 12 months…. Apart from polishing his tractor and playing chess of course.

Michael went on to confirm that he believes Ferrari will be able to fight for wins straight from the opening race of the 2008 campaign and that they are better prepared than last year. Let’s hope they don’t forget to refuel their cars and get their wheels on the right way round then, otherwise they could be learning a few lessons from the likes of Force 1ndia and Honda.

renoo-garage.jpgSince the teams launched their respective challengers back in the cold depths of winter, Ferrari have emerged as the favourites for many pundits to win the 2008 titles. Whether this is because they genuinely look to be the fastest or is actually because no-one can remember the names of the vast legions of white liveried cars on track is anyone’s guess.

This is despite the Maranello team exchanging some pretty close lap times with their silver ‘sisters’ at McLaren, and rumours that Renault have apparently been sandbagging somewhat in winter testing. Here at FFN we have been enthusiastically scouring the photographic archives looking for tell-tale buckets and spades parked outside the Renault Garage, but to no avail.

Unconfirmed rumours have suggested that Alonso’s team have been hiding their true pace thus far, in order to give their sponsors a thorough appreciation of the car’s overall aesthetically pleasing paint scheme and logos as Nelson Piquet Jnr pedals past furiously at 5kph.

luca-di.jpgToday Ferrari President Luca Di ‘Unpronounceable’ has asked the team to keep their optimism in check and their feet on the ground for the season ahead.

According to lippy Luca the 2008 championship will be just as hardly fought as in previous years (Just hopefully not so much of it over the table with handbags at full swing in the FIA headquarters in Paris).

It just goes to prove it really doesn’t matter what field of employment you work in, the moment you look to be enjoying yourself and having a good time the boss has to walk in and put a kaibosh on it. Whatever next, a ban on Kimi smiling on the podium?