Sakhir, Bahrain

The British media have been busy the past week wondering what could possibly be the reason for Ferrari topping the charts at Valencia last week. Never mind that Ferrari has won 8 out of the last 11 world constructor championships, one would have thought Force India topped the charts judging by the reaction. One interesting theory presented was that Ferrari omitted to add 30 kgs of ballast to the car, an honest mistake any team can make, and after all the self-congratulatory pats on the back for having exceeded expectations, were chagrined to find the missing ballasts hidden behind the extra tyres. We can see that going down well with Luca di Montezemolo. Or wait, maybe it was a deliberate ‘mistake’, much like our beloved Schumster parking in Rascasse. Maybe Ferrari thought it was a wonderful idea to corner all the pre-season hype only to fail spectacularly in the first race. Well, clearly we are not the only ones in the fake news business, that’s for sure.

We hear Red Bull’s got a bit of a problem. Adrian Newey, in his quest for aerodynamic perfection has designed such a unique raised nose that it’s pretty much all the driver can see from the cockpit. Maybe they should have just stuck to the previous year’s design, much like Force India. Force India has cleverly restricted all their innovations to the steering wheel. We have already highlighted their desire to just have a car that runs, which is actually a clever strategy. This way, they will surely finish ahead of at least five other teams that seem destined to merely form immovable hurdles at the race start. And there is further action in store presented by teams such as Virgin, where you never know when the car is going to disintegrate all over the track, as it did in Jerez today, with drivers no doubt having to drive warily around to avoid the odd piece of debris. Thankfully DC has retired, I doubt our hearts could have withstood that added excitement, given his well documented stopping-in-the-rain routines and attempted decapitations.  

Ferrari is looking increasingly consistent and reliable at the Jerez tests, all positive signs leading up to the season. Bring on Bahrain! Forza! I will leave you with a bit of Ron-Speak, just so we can be grateful we are not subjected to this on a regular basis anymore. “You have one driver preceding the other and feeling that he had to catch up. You have all these very, very different chemistries, and it’s just not the case with two drivers who have got like-minded approaches, an Anglophile approach”. And this was all in reply to some unsuspecting journo asking Ron about the Hamilton-Button pairing in McLaren.

This weekend hosts the fourth round (and quarter way point already – crikes!) of the Formula 1 season at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain. Following on from the two previous races in Malaysia and China where local weather conditions played havoc, it is rumoured that a sandstorm may be on the cards for Sunday afternoon which just happens to be race day.

sandstorm-sakhir-circuitBahrain’s Meteorology Office (not to be confused with Ferrari’s sometimes errant pitwall system) has reported there is an increasing risk of “rising sand” whatever that means. We do hope it isn’t quicksand, otherwise the entire paddock could be swallowed up and never seen again.

With the current season only being four weeks old, and two thirds of that taking place in meteorological conditions of biblical proportions, here at FFN we are beginning to wonder what catastrophe we are in for next….fire and brimstone raining from the skies? plagues of locusts? incurable boils? We realise the powers that be have been trying to improve the spectacle of the sport but this is just getting ridiculous.

While the F1 teams have been unpacking and getting ready ahead of the race weekend, the F1 rumour mill has been in top gear all week, seemingly no amount of rain or sand can put a spanner in the works of the worlds motorsports media.

If you have access to the BBC, you may remember that last weekend at the Chinese GP, former Force India Technical Director Mike Gascoyne took over from the BBC’s regular pundit Eddie Jordan to bring us his unique insight into all matters F1, and did a superb job.

According to recent reports the feedback received by the BBC was so positive, that Mike Gascoyne is allegedly pushing for the job full time at the expense of the Irishman. Simultaneously it is reported that Mr. Gascoyne also has his eye on an unspecified role at Maranello and fancies himself as a bit of a Ross Brawn.

mike-gascoyneAllegedly Mike has been quoted as saying he will fit in well with the culture at Ferrari (no doubt he has his beady eye on the lunch menu already and has been practicing speaking and waving his arms around like an animated windmill at the same time) and is touting himself for a possible role in the wind tunnel or in the aerodynamics department.

Perhaps Mike is offering to fill the Maranello based windtunnel with hot air, as it seems this is what he is spouting at the moment. As far as we are concerned he is nothing like Ross Brawn, in height, girth or fashion sense, not to mention Ross Brawn hasn’t been sacked by his last two employers. But lets not split hairs. Perhaps he is referring to his facial fuzz and whether he looks jolly and round in red uniforms.

Personally we would have thought Jean Todt would have been a more accurate comparison….since they both have reputations for rollocking their employees when they get cross, not to mention the need for a few copies of the Yellow Pages so they can reach their pitwall bar stools….

Someone else who is considering their future with the Ferrari Team is Michael Schumacher, who has confirmed he will be holding talks with the team over the summer as to whether he continues on in his extremely vaguely titled role as ‘Advisor’, two years on we are still trying to ascertain what he does apart from standing around looking pretty and scaring the bejesus out of Kimi.

Although we suppose some tifosi may point out the very same thing two years on, regarding sometimes WDC Kimi Raikkonen. Not least since Team Boss Stefano Domenicali hinted after Malaysia that people would be best remembering what their responsibilities are, assuming of course that Kimi can actually remember that far back in the first place…..

michael-schumacher-mystery-advisorMichael’s announcement has led to all sorts of scurrulous speculation, that he is either looking to dethrone current F1 team boss Stefano Domenicali, or has simply got fed up of standing about like an expensive piece of furniture and taking flak for dubious strategy decisions, and wants to cut ties with the Maranello team and instead has decided to run off with the Moscow State Circus.

Is there anyone in the paddock these days not considering their future with the team? According to former Toro Rosso boss Gerhard Berger, the only man in Maranello with an assured job for next year is Fernando Alonso, quel surprise!

Allegedly the Toro Rosso ex-boss and former Ferrari encumbant himself, claims that the Spaniard already knows what team he is working for in 2010. According to reports, Fernando informed the Toro Rosso team in 2008, that he was only looking for an option for 2009 as he had already got plans in place for the following year. We can only presume he is coming to Ferrari in an advisory capacity as it seems to be all the rage these days, filling your garage up with highly paid advisors, never mind the sodding drivers.

This could leave Renault in the lurch somewhat when it comes to drivers, as already rumours have begun to emerge that Nelson Piquet Jnr (Alonso’s less illustrious teammate) has been given a 3 race deadline to show his skills or get given a close encounter with Flavio Briatore’s boot and the fire exit.

flav-and-his-boysThe Brazilian has been told that he has until Monaco to impress the Flamboyant Flav, or the team will start looking at other options, including running his car with a plastic crash test dummy. Not that we would probably notice much difference when it comes to the actual driving, but we do suppose they complain less, are a lot cheaper and have similar colours to Nelson’s helmet already which should please the sponsors.

Flav has gone on record as saying that even if Nelson Piquet Jnr does get the old heave-ho, the team are limited at trying too find a decent replacement this season (surely anything has got to be an improvement albeit slightly less entertaining…..).

One rumour currently doing the rounds is that Renault may be interested in luring away BrawnGP’s third driver Austrian Beanpole Alex Wurz, due to the fact he provides excellent technical feedback and has close working knowledge of BrawnGP’s hairdryer (I mean diffusor). Not to mention Alex has already worked for Flavio on a previous occasion at Benetton, and conveniently comes with a pair of industrial earplugs already installed. That’s if he isn’t already off to Ferrari, like the rest of the paddock.

Meanwhile the Maranello squad themselves have confirmed they will not be running the KERS system on Raikkonen’s car this weekend, but they will be running it on Felipe Massa’s.

kimi-in-bahrainApparantly the team have been hard at work back in the factory trying to get to the bottom of the system’s problems, and are hopeful that they may have fixed its reliability issues in time for the Bahrain GP. According to news reports this afternoon they will be running the system on only one car as a way of comparing performance, presumably to see the difference between very slow and VERY VERY VERY slow.

Mr. Raikkonen has spoken to the Italian Media today and in his usual understated manner has assured them there is not much chance of the Maranello outfit winning at Sakhir this weekend (just in case we were in any doubt), but that the realistic target is at most a podium place or a few points. That’s what we like to see, our drivers brimming with enthusiasm and confidence!

We can only hope that with the removal of his KERS (Kimi’s early retirement system) the Finn hasn’t got much excuse but to get on with it, and will have to wait a bit longer for his after race refreshments. Although we should point out since they don’t supply champagne on the podium in Bahrain, it’s hardly much of an incentive for him is it?

No doubt by now (unless you’ve been living on Planet Mosley) you’ll be aware that Ferrari finally secured their first 1-2 of the season in the third round of the Formula 1 Championship at the Sakhir Circuit in Bahrain.

start-of-the-race-bahrain.jpgEven though Felipe lost out on pole position during the dying seconds of qualifying thanks to a stunning lap by BMW-Sauber’s ‘Mr.Potatohead’ Robert Kubica, and suffered an unfortunate earphone related debacle on his way to the grid formation (where he reportedly couldn’t hear any merry mancunian chuckles from his race engineer Rob Smedley), the little Brazilian poppet still managed to outpace the Papal Polish favourite into the first corner and go on in commanding style to secure his first victory of the season. Simultaneously silencing his critics better than any familiar two-fingered salute could have done..

Ferrari’s current WDC the Kimbot, allegedly was suffering from an ear infection throughout the weekend (hopefully not inspired by Luca Di Montezemolo) and to all intents and purposed appeared a little off colour throughout proceedings (not that here at FFN we think he could get any paler, just for the record), but the Kimster bravely soldiered on and secured second place to ensure a perfect weekend and result for the Maranello Squad.

Ickle Felipe’s win coincidentally marked the 100th victory for the team under the leadership of their glorious softly spoken and media shy leader Mr Montezemolo.

Elsewhere BMW-Sauber’s Robert Kubica, who lost out to Felipe in the first corner and the Kimbot on the second lap due to some mysteriously invisible on-track oil spillage, was able to hang onto 3rd place and finish a not too shabby four seconds behind the Kimster.

McLaren meanwhile endured yet another torrid weekend.

Lewis Hamilton seemed to have unfortunately caught something contagious off ickle Felipe, whereby he started off the weekend losing control of his car on a kerb and spinning it through a sand trap and into a barrier demolishing one side of the car in the process. Not content to leave it there, the Brit fumbled his start to the race engaging the anti-stall on his car, slipping him back into tenth place from third and behind old arch rival Fernando Alonso. Nothing like making a hams fist of things is there?

lewis-minus-front-wing.jpgOn the first lap Lewis managed to damage his wing while driving into the back of the Renault, and then just a lap later decided to go one better and try and drive over the top of Alonso instead, knocking off his own front wing in the process.

This debacle sparking all manner of debate amongst the F1 fanbase, did Alonso brake-test him? Had Lewis lost his contact lenses? Had the Renault got a super strong magnet in it? You get the general gist.

After the race, Renault’s Pat Symonds kindly published the team’s telemetry to prove that the Sparkly Spaniard had not been willfully employing any kind of devious trickery on his old McLaren chum as had been previously suggested by ITV’s television “not quite-so-experts”.

Thus putting the spotlight firmly on the Woking based team to explain the strange incident and why Lewis seemed to have taken a rather obvious fancy to Alonso’s rear wing (apart from loving the paint scheme of course).

McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh (or Witchmarsh as we affectionately know him) suggested that the front wing of the McLaren had failed two seconds prior to Lewis climbing all over the back of the Renault like a bad rash.

This was evidently met with a fair helping of derision from F1 based internet forums, where members who quite clearly did not need to go to Specsavers (the opticians) could see from video footage for themselves that the wing had not come off two seconds before the incident but as a result of said same debacle.

But according to the Woking based fraternity they stand by their explanation, and suggest the failure of said device two seconds prior to the incident lead Lewis to lose all downforce and get sucked at high speed into the slipstream of Fernando. Which is quite scoffable really, since we all know at the speed Renault have been managing thus far in 2008, they couldn’t even suck a gobstopper in let alone a whole F1 car.

mr-talkative.jpgThis woeful performance on the part of the Enstone Massive might explain why just three races into the championship, we are being subjected to almost daily updates from the uncharacteristically loquacious Double World Champion.

This mainly consists of verbal musings in the media on what he plans to do next year, with whom, wearing which colour of his favourite underpants. That is when he isn’t too busy petitioning his fanbase to become his PR department for a year (all for the princely sum of 30000 Euro’s of course).

We can’t help feeling the Double World Champion would need a permanent army of Luca Colajanni clones to extricate him from the all trouble his mouth seems to get him into, nevermind just one poor deluded starry-eyed fan.

Before we go off completely at a tangent (and it wouldn’t be the first time) the only other point of interest in an otherwise quite dull coma-inducing race was provided courtesy of…you guessed it Mr. Magoo.

This time Red Bull’s David Coulthard tangled with Jense’s Honda on lap 17 taking off the fellow Brit’s nose cone in the process, sending Jenson scuttling back to the pitlane for another one.

Previously after similar incidents, DC has complained that the mirrors on F1 cars are about as much use as a chocolate fire guard (or something to that effect). Which goes some way to explaining his propensity for ignoring them completely and knocking rivals off track left, right and centre. Although we do feel that big square jaw might have something to do with it.

We can only assume by the end of the season there won’t be an F1 driver on the grid that hasn’t been driven into, run over in the pitlane, or been threatened with having seven shades of something knocked out of them. We’d really hate to see what carnage he could cause in a busy multi-storey carpark in a FIAT Punto.

michael.jpgNext week the teams will be returning to action at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona Spain, ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix in just over two weeks time.

It is rumoured Ferrari’s overqualified sometimes test driver Michael Schumacher will be putting in an appearance for the team, testing out slick tyres and some components for the 2009 amongst other things, not to mention driving the media round the bend as per usual.

It remains to be seen if McLaren can bounce back in Spain, if BMW will continue to give Stefano Domenicali sleepless nights, and who can introduce the silliest addition to their car in the F1 development race. Bring it on.

This week the F1 fraternity has relocated from Malaysia, to the hot sandy sunny climes of the Kingdom of Bahrain. Even though the season is barely two races old, already the gossip and scandal mongering has reached near epidemic proportions.

ickle-felipe5.jpgYou may remember roughly two weeks back (what’s a few days between friends?) that Ferrari’s ickle Felipe Massa was left with a complexion to rival the colour scheme of his F2008, when the poor poppet spun out of a second solid points paying position and bedded his car into the gravel trap with great panache.

Unfortunately this unforeseen turn of events brought his Grand Prix Completion Tally for the season to a big fat zero, which is to be expected if your driving a Super Aguri…but not one of the World’s most famous Marques, allegedly.

Despite the team checking his car and the telemetry, no obvious reason could be found for the uncharacteristic spin, leaving the poor little mite protesting his innocence and having to endure the slings and arrows of the paddock press (and just about anyone else that felt like getting their considered expert opinion into print).

Little did we all know that while the scavenging ‘Crows of Doom’ were circling above ickle Felipe’s bonce, something far bigger was about to unfold and scandalise us all.

Many times in the past, here at FFN we have found it rather irksome to read and listen to the fanbase of rival teams making claims that our beloved Ferrari enjoy a very special relationship with the sports governing body the FIA (The Federation of Idiots and Amateurs, as we fondly call them).

Especially when you consider the number of times that 7 times World Champion Michael Schumacher got black flagged, red flagged, demoted to the bottom of the grid and stripped of all his world championship points for his on-track shenanigans. It certainly didn’t feel all that special on those occasions, we can assure you.

madmax.jpgIn light of recent events where FIA President Max Mosley has kindly stepped into the limelight and saved ickle Felipe’s head from the proverbial F1 chopping block, we are having to begrudgingly admit maybe there maybe something special to this relationship after all.

Last Sunday morning we all woke up to the unexpected news that FIA President Max Mosley had been caught out by a tabloid newspaper, while up to no good. According to the revelations in said tabloid publication, Max had been caught carrying out extra-curricular activities in a dungeon (not the FIA’s for the record), with five ladies with a penchant for dressing up and a DVD copy of Prisoner Cell Block H.

Immediately this caused all manner of uproar and lengthy tomes of discussion across the internet, about what these revelations could mean for the Presidency of the FIA. Surely someone getting caught paying to safety test various punishment-based paraphenalia outside of FIA office hours is taking things a bit too far? Especially when you consider all the opportunities McLaren presented free of charge for such things last season.

Unfortunately, the F1 fraternity has not seen the unfortunate expose of the episode in quite the light intended.

Instead of being impressed that Max during his tenure of the FIA Presidency, had found the time to make close acquaintance with five young ladies and spend five hours having tea and hot cross buns with them, there has been growing calls today from the Manufacturers BMW, Toyota, Honda and Mercedes for the FIA to clarify their stance on the matter.

This has lead to the beleaguered President calling an extraordinary meeting of the FIA to discuss the matter, we do hope all those pacemakers will be up to the daunting challenge and no physical re-enactments will be involved.

crown-prince-of-bahrain.jpgAccording to recent reports, the Crown Prince of Bahrain has written to the FIA President in light of the alleged affair, and suggested it would not be appropriate for him to attend the forthcoming Bahrain Grand Prix.

While it was initially thought this was to ensure the unfortunate dungeon-based debacle did not overshadow the forthcoming event, scurrulous rumours are suggesting the real reason is an entirely different matter.

According to the very same scurroulous suggestions, it is thought there may be a heightened level of concern for the safety and continuing good reputation of the plethora of men that are wont to swan about Sakhir in dresses with tea-towels on their heads.

After all at 67 years old, the odd beard and moustache is not that unusual amongst some women (we know we have seen it) and it wouldn’t do for some of the Bahraini Royal Family to be inadvertently whisked off by mistake.

no-over-50s.jpgWhilst on route to the circuit today, our intrepid reporter also observantly noted several newly erected signs at the side of the road….which to all intents and purposes looks like the Bahraini Royal Family are trying to discourage anyone over the age of 50 from attending Sunday’s Motorsports Event. (Bernie apparently doesn’t count due to the fact he is no taller than the average 12 year old with a haircut to match).

Meanwhile, Ferrari’s ickle Felipe has been breathing a huge sigh of relief (thanks to Max). Former team-mate and mentor Michael Schumacher has stepped to the defence of the Brazilian star, commenting that ickle Felipe knows how to deal with the pressure being heaped upon him and there is no reason why he cannot pull out a good performance in Bahrain similar to last year.

However the former Champion admitted that ickle Felipe has used up all his current jokers in the opening two rounds of the championship and can’t afford any more, we just hope here at FFN that Felipe has been playing SNAP and not something more salacious.

Unfortunately the Brazilian’s poor start to the 2008 season, has inevitably lead to suggestions that he is about to be replaced contrary to whatever Ferrari spokesman Luca Colajanni has stated in recent media reports.

One such person being touted as Felipe’s replacement for next year is Renault’s Fernando Alonso, according to….well Fernando. The Double World Champion has been remarkably restrained this season, if you consider that after the Australian Grand Prix in 2007 after just one race with the McLaren team he was already in discussions to play musical team chairs.

whatshisnameagain.jpgThis time he has managed to last two Grand Prix before kindly informing anyone with a red sweater within twenty paces that he has a clause in his current contract that would allow him to leave Renault, if Ferrari would please come and get him kiss kiss wink wink.

We understand the Spaniard has even taken to sewing his name onto his team t-shirt in big letters, in the unlikely event that Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has a senior moment and forgets his name. God Forbid.

In other news, after McLaren were stripped of all their constructors championship points last year by the FIA for their part in the Stepneygate saga, it was initially thought the Woking based team would be demoted as per the rule book to the bottom of the pile for choosing garages in the pitlane. Apparently the championship winning team get first dibs, followed by the second and so forth, with the slightly red faces of McLaren coming last behind Force 1ndia.

However, it is understood that an agreement was made over the winter with Bernie Ecclestone to allow the team to take fifth placed slot, which would ensure the team could fit their behemoth Media centre into the alloted area in the paddock parking lot. And indeed in Australia and Malaysia this was the case.

end-of-the-pitlane.jpgBut in what could be deemed a parting shot, the FIA President (Max Mosley lest you have forgotten him already) has demanded that the team be relocated to the bottom of the pitlane amidst rumours that other teams have complained about this favouritist treatment.

An apology has been issued to the fans who had brought tickets with the sole purpose of being seated opposite from the McLaren Garage (presumably a bunch of irate Spaniards), and McLaren have indeed been squeezed like oranges into the two furthest garages in the pitlane, whilst championship rivals Ferrari get to swan about the top spot with four.

Never a dull moment in F1, that is “for sure”.

Just when we thought that the month off between the Bahrain and Spanish Grand Prix would be a relatively quiet affair, thus giving us free reign here at FFN to make up a lot of old twaddle…. Along comes a whole bunch of news all in one day to put paid to the plan.

The FIA it would seem get just as bored as the rest of us in between the races, and like to find ways to entertain themselves. When they are not sending Formula 1 drivers with dubious driving histories off to the UN to promote road safety, they are re-arranging their false teeth, tripping youths up with their zimmer-frames and making up new party games. The favourite game of the moment involves writing to the F1 teams with just a few weeks to go before a race to drop a nasty little surprise in their laps. Inevitably the poor little engineering mites have to stop working on their latest cunning invention they were planning on slipping past Charlie Whiting (FIA technical delegate) and go to work making the last one legal.

fiafloors.jpgThis week the FIA are back on the case of the flexi-floor. They feel that some teams are still attempting to exploit loopholes in the FIA regulations (as if they would!). After inspecting all of the cars in Malaysia and Bahrain, the FIA have decided to impose even stricter rigidity tests, to put a stop to teams who appear to be building floors with the sole purpose of increasing aerodynamic efficiency at speed.

You may remember after the Australian Grand Prix when McLaren went tittle-tattling, the FIA wrote to all the teams telling them the use of springs/stays to hold the floor to the chassis were not in fitting with the regulations and would have to be removed. Now they have decided the naughty little boys are still making the floor’s flex at speed (although the FIA can’t quite figure out how), so they are introducing further more stringent rigidity tests ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix. The cars floors will now have to be able to resist 2000 Newtons of upward pressure as opposed to the original 500 Newtons. What it all means and who it will effect I haven’t got the foggiest, but I’m expecting either a lot of cars being launched into the stratosphere from the FIA weigh-bridge, or a total ban on floors by the end of the season. (Which could be a bit hairy for the poor old drivers as they go over the kerbs).

hondawindtunnel.jpgI’m sure the flexi-floor saga is the least of the worries at poor old Honda. According to Rubens Barrichello, performance improvements identified in the Honda Wind Tunnel just don’t seem to be coming to fruition on track. Writing on his personal website, Rubens (who is turning out to be quite the philosopher) suggests that he has two theories on why the wind tunnel results don’t seem to be transferring onto the car. The first is that the wind tunnel has been calibrated incorrectly and the second is that when the parts are being built as a response to the wind tunnel results they are not coming out right.

We decided to do a bit of digging about. According to rumours, it would seem that the chap put in charge with the callibration and operation of the Honda wind tunnel has in fact no aerodynamic experience whatsoever. This might explain a thing or two about why Honda’s current car seems to act like a ‘parachute’ when it’s going in a straight line. Here at FFN we are wondering if the hapless chap has actually been popping the RA107 into the wind tunnel the wrong way, and then wondering why the hell no gust of wind is coming along at each grand prix to help the vehicle round the track.

Meanwhile over in Italy two former Ferrari employees have been found guilty of Industrial Espionage by a court in Modena. Mauro Iacconi and Angelo Santini were sentenced to 14 and 9 months in prison respectively for stealing industrial secrets from the Maranello based team. The dizzy dolts left Ferrari for Toyota in 2002, and decided they would help themselves to a few nuggets of information on the way out the door (although why they couldn’t stick to taking a few mugs and pens like anyone else we will never know).

Unfortunately the wretched pair got a bit carried away and everyone realised what was going on when Toyota popped out at the beginning of the 2003 with Ferrari’s car. It is thought the plethora of Marlboro stickers, red paint scheme and title F2002 was a bit of a give-away and the not so clever thieves were caught and subsequently fired by Toyota. However no real harm was done, as Toyota have kept loyal to their tradition of building turkeys to this day.

rondennis.jpgWith all this espionage, skullduggery and what-not going on you must be wondering if anything good and decent happens in the sport. I have to admit I got a little bit excited on Monday when I read the Headline ‘Dennis determined to step down’. Has McLaren’s CEO Ron Dennis finally answered all my prayers and decided enough is enough? Has he seen that Michael Schumacher at 38 is happily enjoying retirement and decided to follow suit?

No. It would seem we are stuck with the cantankerous old git with a personality bypass and a shiny forehead a while longer as he claims he is looking at retiring and handing over the reigns to his team at some point in the next five years. Whether this is because he is a control freak that just can’t let go, or because Mrs.Dennis is stubbornly and sensibly resisting any attempts to let him back into the family home we can’t say. Perhaps he is waiting for Lewis Hamilton to grow out of nappies, so he can stop ‘nannying’ him.

It would seem when the Ronster does finally decide to leave the sport, he will leave a huge gaping hole in our lives….we will all miss his warmth, his sense of humour and more than anything his passion for Ferrari…..and the FIA will sorely miss their weekly influx of fan mail.

dc.jpgDavid Coulthard has had a rather mixed beginning to the season so far this year, which is to say he is yet to score a championship point or make it into Q3 for that matter, but it is all looking rather promising (No, honest!) He started off the season by running wide in Q1 and qualifying 18th, and didn’t do too much better in the race either. Let us just say Alex Wurz was lucky to escape with his head intact after DC unleashed a particularly potent and botched up overtaking move from his unique repertoire. If DC was determined to turn things around in Malaysia after the rather dramatic start in Australia, well…it didn’t quite show, though the Adrian Newey designed Red Bull was partly to blame. He did make it to 13th on the qualifying grid this time (when a mistake in Q2 stopped his progress to Q3), but was forced to retire from the race on encountering a rather weird problem. With his brake pedal obstructing his steering column, he was forced to choose between braking and turning, and understandably chose the third option of parking his car instead. With barely a week between Malaysia and Bahrain, the RB reliability didn’t exactly improve by leaps and bounds and gearbox problems this time around meant DC started the Bahrain race from 21st on the grid, not really the ideal position one has to admit. A sterling drive and an aggressive fuel strategy saw him storm to seventh, before the car decided it had had enough of racing and a broken driveshaft put paid to any hopes DC might have had of picking up a point or two.

After 3 retirements from 3 races, he remains positive for the rest of the season and claims “he would rather park the car having had a good race” than finish the race 2 laps down in a turkey. Now that is precisely the dangerous attitude that caused McLaren to become popularly known as ‘McBoomer’, and it has taken them all these years to realize reliability is not a bad thing after all. Christian Horner says the current reliability level  is unacceptable and they have every intention of doing something about it, but he is also busy trying to prevent former employees from distributing RB design documents to all and sundry, not to mention convincing Spyker (and possibly Williams) that there is nothing quite wrong in multiple constructors saving a bit of money and nicking chassis design from each other (or chassis-sharing in other words). Adrian Newey’s finely tuned aerodynamicist senses are still in shock after calculating the effect of the open fuel flap on Webber’s car from last race, and hopefully he will recover soon enough to do the needful. It will be interesting to see if there are any improvements in the RB reliability in Barcelona post the one month break.

PS: If you are wondering why I started this feature with David Coulthard, I don’t have a clue either, it just seemed like a rather good idea at that time. Anyway, watch out for The Season So Far: Kimi Raikkonen next.

nando.jpgWe all know Adrian “Alonso-is-God” Campos of course. For those who don’t, he happens to be Fernando Alonso’s former manager who.., let’s just say, thinks highly of his protege (Campos on Nando). No he has not resurfaced to shoot down the Hamilton hype, but FFN sources reveal that he has been having a quiet word with Nando that he should really learn from Rubens Barrichello. “It is not wrong to have occassional bad days” he is rumored to have adviced Nando, “It is just wrong to have bad days and not have an excuse for it”. Especially when he has a teammate who, the British press is trying to convince us, is the next best thing to happen to the world after the invention of sticky tapes. I really like Hamilton, mind you, and I am quite convinced he is the real deal and no flash-in-the-pan, but honestly isn’t it a little early to be saying “Senna, Schumacher and Hamilton…”? Anyway, Nando must have been giving this some thought and has probably realized it was a little rash to dismiss the ‘lighting pod’ incident like he did after the race, and now feels that it might have had something to do with his surprising lack of pace. He claims apart from the simultaneous understeer and oversteer, the car became tyre-independant as well, with no discernable difference between the hard and medium tyres. “Maybe a mistake was made while re-assembling the car after that mishap” Nando says, “The fact is the car had a strange behaviour from then on. It was as though there was no difference in grip between the hard or medium tyres. If I had raced on intermediates it would have been the same”. Yes that sounds like strange behavior all right, rather a mystery eh?

Meanwhile Robert Kubica’s involvement with F1 is bringing Polish journalistic creativity to the forefront, and no one following F1 should miss out on this hilarious bit – (Source: Autosport – “The story of the punch-up in Bahrain revolved around Vettel and Heidfeld nearly colliding on the track, returning to the pits for a fisticuffs, getting dragged apart by Alain Prost – who was then punched in the face himself, before Mario Theissen stepped in and banished them to their driver rooms.The story ended with the two drivers shaking hands before they left the paddock – only for Heidfeld to sneer: ‘I’ll see you at the hotel later…'”). Alain Prost getting punched in the face??! Whatever next?

The media has now replaced the question “Are you missing Michael Schumacher” with the question “Did you receive a call from Michael Schumacher?”. With the net result that every time Schumi calls someone in Ferrari, meticulous records of the same are maintained to answer related questions. (Q: When did you last speak to Schumacher? A: On 16th April 2007 at 16:00:43.21 GMT. We spoke about recycling plastic). Poor Michael must be wondering just what he ought to do to stay out of newspapers. We know he called Kimi in Melbourne, then spoke to Felipe before and after the race in Malaysia, spoke to whole  bunch of people during the Bahrain race according to Stefano Domenicali (Q: Did he phone at the end of the race again? Domenicali: “Yes, yes, he spoke with a lot of us”), and now Felipe informs us “I received a phone call from Michael after the race. He congratulated me and said I had a very good race”. Not even Kimi Raikkonen has been spared the telephone question, and he has tried various answers like “I have not spoken to Michael”, “Yes, we spoke about general things”, “I have spoken to him a few times”, “I think it was Michael, but I could not hear him”….but the questions never stop. Poor Fisichella is a little behind times though, he says “Michael is a good champion, but I do not particularly miss him on the tracks”. Oh good for you Fisi, but that discussion went out of fashion a goodish month ago. Never mind that, just let everyone know if and when he gives you a ring, and remember to note down the time.

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