Sepang, Malaysia


You really do have to hand it to F1 team Vodaphone McLaren Mercedes. No other team in the history of the sport have managed to repeatedly get themselves into quite so much hot water as the Woking based squad, without actually employing the nefarious talents of one Michael Schumacher (Scandalmeister) and that is quite an accomplishment in itself.

At least not in all the years I have been watching the sport, and since I’m told I have the memory of a goldfish perhaps that doesn’t really count for a whole lot.

This week McLaren have managed to embroil themselves in yet another FIA related saga, this time as a result of telling a few innocent fibs to the race stewards about events that transpired towards the end of the season opener in Melbourne.

dave-ryan-and-lewis-hamil-001If we are to believe recent media reports, McLaren’s Sporting Director Dave Ryan took it upon himself to embellish events somewhat in the Steward’s presence forcing World Champion Lewis Hamilton to corroborate his version of events against his will and better judgement, and all for the sake of one measly championship point and a peanut bowl platter. (Although we suspect half of Ferrari might sell their respective grandmothers right now for aforementioned measly point not to mention the peanuts of course).

As a result Toyota’s Jarno Trulli was demoted to fourth place with a post race 25 second penalty, handing the shiny platter to McLaren’s World Champion.

Unfortunately, it would seem McLaren didn’t reckon on the old farts of the Federation Idiots and Amateurs actually listening to any post race media interviews, let alone having a good old earwig into McLaren’s radio communications with their ear trumpets.

Evidently the governing body discovered (after plowing through hours of Happy Heikki warbling Abba’s Greatest Hits) evidence that contradicted the statements made by Lucky Linda (I mean Lewis) and his Sporting Director Dave Ryan (although we feel perhaps ‘unsporting’ is probably a more applicable job title all things considered).

Sufficed to say the hapless duo were called back before the Stewards at Malaysia and asked to account for themselves, even after listening to the contradictory evidence we are to understand they continued to pull the chain of the FIA race stewards, if recent media reports are to be believed.

McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh immediately leapt to the defence of his driver and team, declaring to anyone who would listen that no-one at McLaren had told any pork-pies and he really hadn’t got the foggiest what the FIA were whittering on about. No Honestly. Deja vu anyone?

lucky-linda-squirming24 hours later, Lucky Linda (I mean Lewis) was squirming like a maggot on a fish hook in front of the world’s media admitting to lying, but we are to understand it doesn’t count because his Sporting Director Dave Ryan made him do it, presumably under threat of stealing his penny sweets and pocket money.

Of course being the caring, sharing, no-blame culture that the modern McLaren is (as we were informed just a few short weeks ago) the team summarily sent their Sporting Director packing, although under the new caring culture they continued to happily employ 3 ex-spygate scandalists, so there is still hope for poor misunderstood Dave yet.

Yesterday events took a more serious turn, when the FIA announced it was cordially inviting Vodaphone McLaren Mercedes to a soiree in Paris on the 29th April, to enjoy a buffet lunch, some bottled fizzy water and a friendly get together for a frank and polite exchange of opinions regarding the meaning of article 151(c) of the international sporting code. RSVP.

rsvp2For those of you (unlikely I know given recent events) wanting to know what this article 151(c) is all about, let us explain.

In a nutshell it is a catch-all clause in the governing bodies regulations, that should anyone do anything to compromise the illusion that all is fair in love and F1 (barring the odd controversial race stewards decision or three and a few illegal/legal/illegal diffusors), then they shall be invited to Paris for a day or two and made to grovel cap in hand to the WMSC for a lenient punishment and pay for the pleasure.

Anyone found not to be grovelling quite as much as deemed necessary, we understand are duty bound to receive 30 lashes with a cat-o-nine-tails and whatever else the FIA hand out for punishment these days.

Some newspapers are suggesting that McLaren may at worst be excluded altogether from the world championship for 2009 for bringing the sport into disrepute, or at least receive a few race bans and even possibly a huge financial fine (as the FIA has already spent the last one on road safety campaigns, icecreams and day trips to the seaside).

Rumours have begun to emerge that Lewis and his Manager/Father/Principal Cheerleader are not best happy with how things are going at McLaren, particularly the damage done to Lewis’s reputation as a result of the ‘Liegate Scandal’ and his subsequent fall from grace in the eyes of the fickle British ‘Love Button’ Media.

hamilton-snrAlthough personally we felt floating about like a PR fairy on a highwire is as damaging as it can ever get for one’s reputation when it comes to grown men.

It is rumoured the Brit may be intent on leaving the team that has supported, financed and developed his career since he was 13, some skeptics have suggested that the latest turn or events might serve as a smokescreen to hide the fact Lewis is already bored of driving the MP4-slowathon and is hankering after a drive at BrawnGP (presumably over Rubens Barrichello’s dead body).

Good to see team loyalty is alive and thriving in Woking, but then we wouldn’t want to hang around Woking for too long either…..and not just for fear of an imminent P45 (marching orders).

At least this latest scandal to rock the sport, makes a change from the 20 times-a-yearly stories of Alonso going to Ferrari that seem to have been bandied about since the Jurassic period began, and probably still rumbling on long after I’m dead, buried and been eaten by a few garden worms.

What we really want to know is what do ‘gates’ have to do with anything? Have you ever noticed that anytime the sport is engulfed in a storm in a teacup, immediately a ‘gate’ is brought into the equation?

First we had ‘Spygate’ although we don’t actually recall any missing ‘gates’ being reported in the immediate vicinity of Maranello when Nigel Stepney was a very naughty boy, and for that matter we don’t remember anyone spying through one either.

Now we have ‘Liegate’…and not a wooden strutt, fence or beam in sight. You can see why we are somewhat baffled and bemused here at FFN.

Just in case you were beginning to wonder why on earth you hadn’t heard a peep out of us here at FFN all weekend, there has been a very good reason.

Unfortunately we still haven’t see the Malaysian Grand Prix. This calamity is not due to the fact our pitcrew were unable to bring us a white visor so we could actually see through the torrential downpours at Sepang like FelipebabyTM, but due to a small technical glitch at FFN HQ.

It would seem in his infinite wisdom my elder brother decided to replace my television, with one of these new fangled widescreen digital affairs, thus far we have only just cottoned on how to use the red button to watch free practice let alone got to grips with how to actually record from the infernal device.

My attempts to hook up the video recorder to record the race while I went out to earn FFN cat her biscuits, were doomed to failure, only compounded by the fact I got home and managed to missed the replay as well. Much to the derision of FFN cat who by now was chewing on the TV aerial with great relish.

Understandably we are most miffed at missing out on what turned out to be an exhilirating and edge-of-the-seat type wet weather debacle, our only consolation is that while we didn’t get to see the Malaysian GP, the people actually in the stands at Sepang who paid a fortune for the priviledge didn’t get to see much of it either and got a good drenching to boot.

ferrari-pitwall-sepang1We are reliably informed it was a race where the tactical mastery of Uncle Ross Brawn brought home a second win in a row for Jenson Button despite 4 pitstops, and the tactical mastery of Michael Schumacher (allegedly) brought an end to Kimi Raikkonen’s chances of scoring points by having the flying Finn sent out on a dry track with wet tyres.

Ferrari presumably thought it was going to rain sooner than it was……but given their recent history in weather predictions they might want to actually leap off the pitwall and wait until they actually feel some precipitation before jumping to rash decisions about equipping their drivers in full scuba-diving gear.

So it seems a second race in a row and our beloved Scuderia are doing their very best to be obliging and share out the points to all those teams they spent the last 10 years depriving of any, by shooting themselves resoundingly in both feet and then reloading for good measure.

We can only hope they will come to their senses sooner or later, as here at FFN we don’t know if we can bear seeing Force India above Ferrari in the championship standings for much longer.

According to Ferrari’s team principal Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari’s rather vocal President Luca Di Montezemolo is not a happy bunny. We bet he looks a picture with a fluffy tail and a pair of rabbit ears, not to mention a face stormier than the Malaysian skyline…if only we had a camera….

McLaren’s World Champion (and ex-british media darling) Lewis Hamilton reportedly secured a point (despite an earlier spin in the wet stuff), although whether he will still have it by the end of the week is anyone’s guess, as you know the FIA may want to remove it from his sticky mitts on account that he is allegedly a close family relative of the much loved Disney Character Pinocchio.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, if current reports are to be believed, is firmly standing by his decision to move the Malaysian GP to a twilight setting, and thought the torrential offering was a great show, well no doubt he would say that because he was probably watching from under an 18 carat gold golfing umbrella and munching on popcorn while the rest of the paddock were doing their best impressions of the humble goldfish and swimming about the pitlane.

Sincerest apologies about the lapse in service, I am sending FFN cat out to buy a digital recording device this afternoon, I just hope she doesn’t do a Kimi and come back with an icecream and can of coke instead.

Ahead of the second round of the 2009 Formula 1 championship in Sepang Malaysia, the subject very much still at the forefront of everyone’s mind is the controversial diffusors on the Williams, Toyota and BrawnGP cars.

jordanNaturally, if you’re a certain Irish ex-Formula 1 team owner from Jordan/TV Pundit that goes by the moniker of Eddie Jordan (or Mrs. Branson on a race weekend allegedly) then were actually talking about Confusors whatever they might be.

Which considering the headache this will be giving the sports governing body the FIA in Paris on the Tuesday following the Malaysian GP, might be quite an appropriate freudian slip if ever there was one.

The entities in question located at the rear of the F1 car, are used to channel airflow under the rear of the car to increase overall downforce, it is thought the clever double-decker solution on Brawn GP and co’s vehicular offerings could add as much as an extra 15% downforce which in turn improves the car’s handling and speed.

It is no wonder then given the relative performance of the cars belonging to these 3 very naughty sets of boys, that the rest of the paddock are champing at the bit for the FIA to clarify the regulations on them.

This week it has emerged that 5 out of the 7 teams that believe BrawnGP and co’s solutions to be contravening the wording and spirit of the technical regulations, have already set to work building their own double-deckers (just to clarify diffusors and not London Buses).

Unfortunately it would seem that matter is not quite as straightforward for some teams as it is others, with Ferrari for example reportedly having to design a whole new car to fit one on. Quality German publication of choice ‘Bild’ this week reports that the Maranello squad are set to spend somewhere in the region of 20 Million Euros building a ‘B spec’ F60 in an attempt to overcome their performance deficit.

sleeping-kimiAlthough we can’t help but wonder if the 20 million might be better spent bribing official tyre supplier Bridgestone to build some Ferrari specific tyres for a change, and a few packets of pro plus to keep Kimi Raikkonen awake for the length of an entire race distance.

It is thought the ‘B spec’ Ferrari charger will take somewhere in the region of two months to complete and may be ready to hit the track somewhere around the time of the Turkish Grand Prix, assuming that BrawnGP, Toyota or Williams haven’t already won the title and swanned off on their post season jollies.

According to Ferrari’s President Luca Montezemolo, the team are suffering somewhat from a hangover. Unfortunately not due to consumption of large quantities of Chianti like can sometimes happen here at FFN, but from the efforts they put into their 2008 title campaign.

montyReportedly both 2008 title protagonists McLaren and Ferrari were so intent on their title campaigns for last season, they are several months behind in their development of this years car in comparison to their pitlane rivals.

Late last night Ferrari’s official spokesman Luca Colajanni was unavailable for comment (on account he was allegedly tucked up safely in bed composing his next literary masterpiece), and therefore we were unable to obtain any clarification on mysterious reports suggesting Ferrari are intent on building a carbon copy of the BrawnGP car, including 1980’s fluorescent yellow go-faster stripes and matching socks, albeit with a bit more red paint and a few ‘made in Maranello’ stickers haphazardly slung in for good measure.

The next few weeks it would seem are going to be a busy time for the FIA, which will teach them in future for being rather vague and waffly when it comes to writing their own rules and regulations (ok perhaps we are being slightly over-optimistic on this score). Not that they can probably remember what they have written, if recent events regarding points systems is anything to go by.

It is also reported that the FIA Race Stewards will be reconvening today at 1pm in Malaysia to reopen an investigation into the Lewis Hamilton-Jarno Trulli incident that took place in the dying laps of the Australian Grand Prix. Both drivers have been apparently been summoned to appear before the Race Stewards in Sepang.

Not that we were actually watching the race at this point, as we were more than likely crying into our morning cornflakes as a result of Ferrari’s dismal performance. But the incident apparantly saw Jarno Trulli overtaking the world champion under the safety car, which we all know is frowned upon and usually results in the guilty party receiving a sharp rap across the knuckles from the Race Stewards, when Max Mosley is otherwise engaged of course.

In this particular case, Jarno had his champagne snatched from his sticky fingers, his shiny peanut dish confiscated and was summarily and shamefully demoted to 4th place in the final results classification by default handing 3rd place to Lucky Linda…..I mean Lewis.

It is understood the investigation has been reopened following allegations that Lewis Hamilton told an entirely different version of events to the SpeedTV media outlet, shortly before going into the FIA race control and telling yet another version of events.

lucky-lindaAuto, Motor und Sport revealed that Hamilton initially told the race stewards investigating the incident that he slowed down to read the safety car instructions on his steering wheel, and it was then that Jarno allegedly overtook him.

However, after reviewing their data it now transpires that at this point in proceedings the safety car instructions would have long been cleared from Lucky Linda’s dashboard and the FIA are not best amused at being told porky pies (lies – for those of you unversed in cockney rhyming slang).

The Trulli trains’ version of events suggested that Jarno only overtook Hamilton on account that the McLaren driver pulled to the side of the road and to all intents of purposes looked to be having some sort of problem with his car (aside from the fact its uninspiringly grey and allegedly slower than a Ferrari on a bad day).

The FIA have requistioned the appropriate radio traffic for the investigation (lets hope they haven’t mistakenly picked out a copy of Kimi snoring) and are set to give the Brit a good grilling, although we are not too sure if a barbecue actually comes into the equation…..

If the investigation finds in Trulli’s favour he will be reinstated back to 3rd minus the champagne, and there may be serious repercussions for Lucky Linda…..stay tuned for the next thrilling installment of F1 the soap opera!

helmut-markoRed Bull’s appropriately named Motorsports Advisor Helmut Marko has today go on record saying that Sebastien Buemi’s strong debut performance in the Australian Grand Prix, where the swiss youngster secured 7th place bringing home 2 valuable points, is vindication of Torro Rosso’s decision to give the youngster a Formula 1 drive alongside Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais (or as we like to think of him Sebastien Bad Day – due to his tempestuous F1 career to date).

According to Mr.Hard Hat, he had to fight hard to convince many skeptics that the Swiss Youngster was able to make the step up from the GP2 feeder series. Although this might come as startling news to some F1 pundits, who believe the main and solitary criteria for occupying the Torro Seat starts with “S” and ends in “ebastien.” never mind whether you can pedal a motor vehicle or not.

buemiThe Swiss youngster was keen to point out to any journalist within a 50 foot square radius (although that’s probably a contradiction in terms squares can’t be round), that those critics who said he wasn’t ready for the step up into the elite pantheon of the Motorsport Gods simply didn’t know the first thing about motor racing. Not that this factor has stopped a journalist before you understand, or anyone else for that matter when taken with the urge to spout forth.

By now all the Formula 1 teams will have arrived in Sepang, Malaysia and begun unpacking and setting up garage ahead of the second round of the F1 calendar which takes place this weekend.

The Ferrari team are keen to bounce back after the disappointment of Melbourne, and have reportedly been working hard to try and improve their performance and avoid an embarrassing repeat of last Sunday. (Perhaps Ferrari might want to remind Felipe not to repeat his 2008 Malaysian Experience, while they are at it).

It is understood the Maranello based team are investigating a relationship between the KERS system and the high rear tyre degradation rate they suffered at the Australian GP. Despite those concerns, the team will apparantly be using the KERS system again in Malaysia, no doubt to get off to a flying start at the first corner, only to have to pit at the end of lap one for a new set of boots.

Meanwhile Bridgestone have just made Ferrari’s week, by confirming that they are bringing soft tyres to Malaysia, a compound which has never previously been used at the Sepang circuit. According to those in the know, this is an FIA directive to “spice” up the show. Although we are a little concerned going by the results so far, if the tifosi can take much more “spice” without their heads imploding and creating an almighty mess on the pit straight.

While the teams and fans are mulling over what this latest turn in developments may mean in Sepang, especially with rain predicted this weekend, Williams Driver Nico ‘Britney’ Rosberg has revealed his lifelong fear of the dark.

flappy-blonde-maneAccording to the perfectly coifed one from Germany, Finland, Iceland, Bulgaria, Papua New Guinea or wherever he happens to live this week in his attempts to avoid partaking in the joys of National service, he is most alarmed about the increasing number of twilight races being scheduled into the Formula 1 calendar.

The Williams star claims that the visibility during this twilight period is dangerous, and highlights that during the Australian GP on Sunday he was unable to see the edge of the race track, which surely should come as little surprise considering he hasn’t seen a hairdresser in the best part of 10 years. We wouldn’t be able to see a darn thing with a great big yellow mane flapping about in our faces either.

According to the young Rosberg, driving when there are so many shadows about is very dangerous. Although we would have thought the current crop of F1 stars would be used to it by now, given that they all seem to have been born with sunglasses surgically attached to their faces.

the-fly1It is reportedly the norm on a Thursday afternoon to see the odd F1 pilot stumbling about the paddock completely disorientated desperately trying to find his way to the FIA press conference on time lest he gets fined $10,000 for not showing his face, but spotting an F1 driver not doing an impression of a Fly……don’t be silly.

Don’t worry Nico your secret fear of the dark is safe with us, we wouldn’t reveal it to anyone, pretty much like we didn’t reveal Felipe Massa’s fear of clean underpants, Fernando Alonso’s Hamilton-a-phobia, Jenson Button’s fear of razors or Norbert Haug’s fear of starving to death.

Sweet Dreams…

After a calamitous opening round to the Formula 1 season in Melbourne Australia, where everything that could go wrong did go wrong, the boys from Maranello vowed to bounce back and prove themselves once more in the stifling humidity of Sepang Malaysia.

Going into the race weekend, both Ferrari boys (ickle Felipe and the Kimbot) demonstrated a strong pace in free practice, but it remained to be seen if that dominance would translate into qualifying and race pace.

Would the F2008 manage to go one weekend without having a temperamental technical hissy fit? And would Ferrari’s driving duo manage to break the habit of spinning around like a bunch of ballerina’s after too many M&M’s?

qualifying-saturday.jpgVery soon it became evident that the shambolic shenanigans of Oz were an uncharacteristic one-off for Ferrari, with Felipe and Kimi trading fastest sector for fastest sector in qualifying to ensure a front row lock-out for the Maranello outfit for Sunday ahead of their main archrivals McLaren.

However, a slight mishap at the end of the qualifying session robbed the viewing public of a straight shoot out between the rival teams off of the starting grid.

It was judged that the McLaren duo whilst coasting around in fuel saving snail mode and admiring the scenery (not to mention themselves), had impeded the fastest flying lap of BMW-Sauber’s Quick Nick and Renault’s Fernando ‘I’m an FIA frequenter’ Alonso.

As per the FIA rulebook if you get caught impeding another drivers qualifying lap, then it’s a slap on the hand and back five spaces on the snakes and ladders board. And so it proved, within hours of the qualifying session the race stewards had demoted the unhappy pair back to 8th and 9th on the start grid, further compounding McLaren’s misery for the weekend. However much to the delight of some sections of the tifosi.

The Race

As Sunday dawned, even the inclement weather that had been predicted seemed to behave itself (much to ickle Felipe’s relief) leaving us with the exciting prospect of an entertaining dry race and hopefully a 1-2 finish for the Maranello Squad. But if the opening round of the season was anything to go by, then it doesn’t do to start counting your chickens too early or remaining drivers for that matter.

kimi-and-felipe-fight-for-first-corner.jpgAs the five red lights went out signalling the start of the afternoon’s proceedings, both of Ferrari’s driving duo got off to a decent start battling it out for supremacy in the first corner.

The Kimster briefly snatched the lead off his team-mate, only for the feisty little Brazilian to take no cheek off the Finn (WDC or not) and snatch the lead back from him just seconds later.

Meanwhile 3rd placed man Quick Nick Heidfeld had a disastrous start off the grid, losing several places from the get go to watch team mate Kubica, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton, Jarno Trulli, Heikki Kovaleinen, David Coulthard and Fernando Alonso all go sailing past him serenely on the first lap. Undoing all the work he had put in with the race stewards the previous evening.

Torro Rosso’s Sebastien Bourdais meanwhile appeared to have boiled his brain in the stifling Sepang heat, forgot what he was supposed to be doing and subsequently spun his car straight into the gravel trap. Race over before it’s even begun then.

Lucky Lewis got off to a great straight making up 4 places right from the start line, only to find himself stuck behind the Red Bull of Antipodean Mark Whingebag Webber, which was going to happen quite a lot throughout the afternoon if he didn’t know it yet.

Meanwhile further down the grid Williams’ ‘Captain’ Nico Rosberg and Toyota’s Timo Glock entangled, leaving the Williams star with no front wing (it’s in the gravel trap Nico!) and both drivers had to recover to the pits to repair the resulting damage.

Unfortunately Timo had to retire, and Nico was left to rejoin the racetrack albeit trailing around in last place behind Super Aguri’s Ant Davidson. We do hope Nico does haven’t this kind of incident whilst flying that airbus!

coulthard-in-a-sandwich.jpgJust a few laps into the race and Formula 1’s elder statesman (or old fart whichever you prefer) David Coulthard was being harried by Renault’s Fernando Alonso and BMW-Sauber’s Wookie Quick Nick. Before the Scot knew what was happening he was suddenly the Haggis in the middle of a Heidfeld/Alonso sandwich on the straight, with Quick Nick stealing the place off him, shortly followed by Fandango.

In fifth place meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton was being harangued and harassed by Toyota’s Jarno Trulli, the Brit appearing to struggle with pace despite having superior machinery and having to fight off the charge of the Trulli-train (who for once was actually having a good race and not falling asleep in the cockpit).

By lap 16 both of the Ferrari’s were scuttling nicely away at the front and had come up to lap backmarker Nico Rosberg.

On the following lap ickle Felipe who was leading the race up until this point shot into the pitlane for his first of two proposed pitstops. This released the Kimbot on track, to put in some storming sector times while his team-mate was admiring how handsome his pitcrew looked in their little red overalls. Well they do!

A lap later the Kim-bot shot down the pitlane for his first scheduled pitstop, and out again like a rocket rejoining the track in second place ahead of Brazilian poppet ickle Felipe much to his chagrin. Leaving the popular Polish BMW-Sauber driver Robert Kubica to lead the race from the front.

pitstop-pandemonium.jpgTwo laps later the first McLaren driver was called in for their first scheduled pitstop, on this occasion it was Lewis. Unfortunately just to compound the already torrid weekend the McLaren team were having, the right front wheelnut refused to budge, and the Englishman lost in the region of 15 seconds track time while his pitcrew maniacally fumbled the old tyre off and the new front right into place.

In the intervening time, we are to understand that Lewis quite fancied a beer, something which the media later seized upon.

Subsequently the British Media lamented the fact that their poor pin-up had to make do with driving without any drinking water (did he spill it into the footwell and all over his smelly socks – we want to know).

Not the least bit known for their sensationalist headlines…by Monday Lewis had not only been subjected to thirst and dehydration but also water torture, rickets, beri-beri, ebola and god knows what other afflictions and still survived. What a man.

We can’t help but wonder if next week we will be duly informed by said same Media that Lewis is responsible for the resolution of global conflicts and world poverty in his spare time, and thus would explain why he can’t find the time to join the GPDA (grand prix driver’s association).

poor-thirsty-lewis.jpgThe Spanish media obviously taking a completely different meaning altogether from Lewis’s beverage related comments, by suggesting his comment about fancying a beer to actually be a sarcastic comment relating to how rubbish his pitcrew are or something similar.

Unless there is some unhitherto reported secret pitlane language we don’t know about, we can only scratch our heads in confusion about how Spanish Motorsports publication Marca could put two and two together and come up with 29. It’s not like they have a reputation for this sort of thing, is it?

A lap later BMW-Sauber’s race leader Robert Kubica came in for his first pitstop, releasing the Kimbot into the race lead for the first time that afternoon.

Meanwhile Jarno Trulli having somewhat of a storming afternoon for a change, was now out on track harassing the other McLaren driver Heikki Kovaleinen, had Toyota put some class B medication into his drinking water or a rocket under him?

Back on track after his pitstop pandemonium, Lewis was once again behind Red Bull’s Mark Webber and losing time as a result, the Brit struggling in vain to get past the Red Bull but was unable to do so. Diddums.

felipe-out-of-the-race.jpgShortly after the first round of pitstops had been completed, Ferrari’s ickle Felipe was trailing team-mate the Kimbot by something like 4 seconds. At this point in proceedings the little Brazilian clipped a kerb in turn 7 and as a result spun the car in turn 8 bedding his F2008 straight into the gravel trap, from whence he could not recover to the track.

Unfortunately since crane assistance is now outlawed by the FIA, the little poppet’s race was over and he had to scamper back to the Ferrari garage hanging his head in shame.

This second disastrous weekend in a row for the Brazilian star has sparked a whole siege of rumours about his imminent exit from the Maranello Squad, with just about everyone in the paddock apart from Max Mosley being touted as a replacement.

Later Fernando Alonso who isn’t exactly making a secret of his displeasure at not driving at the sharp end of the grid this season in his Renoo, commenting it is natural that speculation is touting him as a replacement for Felipe at Ferrari (he wishes). This is despite the fact Torro Rosso’s Sebastien Vettel is also rumoured to be heading for the second seat. It could be a tight squeeze.

Of course this is all news to Ferrari, who are standing by their man and saying there is no need to panic and we will undoubtedly see the troubled Brazilian return to form in Bahrain (or otherwise he will be taken out back tied to a lamppost, force fed the Kimbot’s rocket fuel against his will and given forty lashes with Luca di Montezemolo’s tongue).

kimis-pitboard.jpgMeanwhile before I go off topic completely, back on track at this point Ferrari’s flying Finn the Kimster was already somewhere in the region of 22 seconds ahead of next placed man Robert Kubica.

Unconfirmed rumours suggesting that the Kimster wasn’t even going as fast as he could have, and by this point had taken to playing Sudoku on his Nintendo DS in the cockpit to keep himself awake.

Poor Felipe tramped back to the paddock on foot only to be met by a horde of waiting hacks demanding to know what had happened, the forlorn little mite admitted to nothing, despite Ferrari suggesting they could see nothing on their telemetry to indicate any technical reason for the Brazilian stars impromptu spin.

Meanwhile now on Lap 37 the Kimbot was back in the pitlane for his second and final pitstop for the afternoon, gifting the lead of the race once more to Polish poppet Robert Kubica.

Just two laps after the Kimbot’s pitstop, the Ferrari engine in the back of Sebastien Vettel’s Torro Rosso blew, which must have been cause for concern for the Maranello outfit given the turn of event a week previously where both F2008’s had suffered a case of the engine gremlins.

We can only presume at this point the Ferrari pitwall were nervously crossing every available appendage, chewing off their fingernails and clock watching like no tomorrrow.

On lap 41, Nick Heidfeld and Fernando Alonso both came into the pitlane for their final stops of the afternoon, allowing Lewis Hamilton to be promoted to fourth in proceedings.

However, this advantage lasted just three laps, as Hamilton once more came into the pitlane for a beer and change of black round things. This time fortunately the pitcrew managed to perform their tasks without any pesky wheelnuts misbehaving allowing the Brit to get back on track and keep position over BMW-Sauber’s bearded wonder Quick Nick, but unfortunately not in front of the Trulli-train.

heikkis-pitstop.jpgThe following lap McLaren’s other driver Happy Heikki pitted, rejoining the race track in third place albeit six centuries behind fellow Finn Kimbot Raikkonen who was still leisurely dawdling around out front in a league all of his own, having to be occasionally prodded back into consciousness by his race engineer Chris Dyer.

Despite putting in some strong lap times after his final pitstop, and catching up with the Italian, Hamilton was unable to make up enough time to overhaul Toyota’s Jarno Trulli leaving the Brit to take fifth place in the race adding just a handful of points to his WDC tally.

Much to the delight of the tifosi, Kimi brought home the win for Ferrari with a superlative dominant performance ahead of BMW-Sauber’s Robert Kubica in second, and McLaren’s Happy Heikki in third.

While Ferrari were understandably chuffed to have a win under their belts following on from the previous week’s debacle, they were left rueing the fact it could have been 18 points and not 10 they could have taken away from the Malaysian GP.

Onto Bahrain then, where we hope Felipe can finally get it together and secure a win, and where we hope Ferrari have finally ironed out all their confusion over engines, ECU’s and everything else.

shock-horror-kimi-misses-mouth.jpgSlightly worrying for the Maranello squad though was an incident that occurred after the checkered flag, while the Kimbot was celebrating his win on the podium.

How many times have we ever witnessed the Kimbot miss his mouth when it comes to alcohol only to get it into his eye socket instead? I know worrying times indeed for Ferrari’s Electronics division, we can only hope they get this unfortunate malfunction ironed out pronto.

However, if they find themselves in dire need of some advice in this area, they need only look to McLaren. McLaren’s CEO and Team Principal Ron Dennis today confirming what we had suspected all along….that the Woking based team are a dab hand at taking their drivers apart and putting them back together.

According to Ron, this is exactly what they have done over the winter to new signing Happy Heikki, who if reports are to be believed (huge vat of sodium chloride at the ready) had arrived into the team from Renault almost a broken man after a difficult year in 2007.

We cant help but feel if their work on Fernando Alonso is anything to go by (yes that’s the one who is stuck in permanent team switching mode) then we had better keep our eyes peeled for the rest of the season for any emerging serious defects.

Forza Ferrari.

Just when we thought the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro F1 team had plenty issues of concern to be going on with (what with malfunctioning driver’s software, engines packing up left, right and centre, and the pitwall staff reportedly suffering from a case of the sleeping sickness) along comes another one to compound their problems.

sepang_circuit.jpgAccording to recent meteorological reports on the area, we can expect some rain and thunderstorms during the race on Sunday at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia.

Barely having recovered from the excitement of last weekend race in Oz, our blood pressure could be thoroughly tested again this weekend, as the current crop of F1 stars prove their mettle for the first time in wet conditions without that useful little gizmo known as traction control.

Although if the opening round of the season was anything to go by, we could end up just watching rain lashing down on the concrete and the poor bedraggled local spectators, with the entire grid parked up neatly in a gravel trap if we aren’t too careful.

We can only hope if the bad weather does come to pass (and we don’t know for certain since Niki Lauda has been remarkably quiet these last few days) that the FIA have it all under control. Here at FFN we will be making calls to the governing body at regular intervals to ensure they have prepped all the teams with any last minute rule changes – and in particular insist they dispatch Charlie Whiting off to Ferrari for good measure.

not-concerned-at-all.jpgMeanwhile the Maranello boys are hopeful they can banish the memory of their nightmare start to the season and kick start their championship campaign in Malaysia. Both Kimi and Felipe in recent days have suggested that they are not concerned about the reliability of the car and are confident the issues that blighted the team in Oz can be quickly resolved.

Although to be fair, we can’t recall Kimi ever being overly concerned about anything, but we expect the Kim-bot’s ECU has yet to realise its full potential in that department. Just imagine the hulabaloo that would ensue though in the unlikely eventuality someone snatched his champagne off him on the podium.

We understand the offending engines from last weekend have been sent back to Maranello for further analysis, in the hope the team can discover the cause of the mystery ailment that sent both drivers out of the race. Two new engines are rumoured to be on route to Malaysia as we speak and should arrive in time for the first free practice on Friday. And if they don’t, we can expect to see the Kimster’s and ickle Felipe’s legs going round faster than roadrunner while they peddle like the clappers.

macca-steering-wheel.jpgOver at arch-rivals McLaren, the Woking based team are currently planning to make changes to the pitlane limiter button on the MP4-23 steering wheel, after new starlet Heikki Kovaleinen accidentally pushed the darned thing during the Australian Grand Prix gifting a place in proceedings to Fernando Alonso.

Following on from rumours of a similar event happening at the Brazilian Grand Prix last season, presumably McLaren have come to the realisation that drivers just cannot be trusted when it comes to a big red button with the wording “Do not push!” stamped all over it.

It is unclear whether the team will remove the offending button completely or simply place it out of the reach of the driving duo’s sticky mitts. Cue lots of unexpected speeding in the pitlane and monetary fines from the FIA, then.

In other news, we are sad to report that Jean Todt (or Toad as some rival team fans like to call him) has stepped down from his position as Ferrari CEO.

todt-and-domenicali.jpgThe feisty little Frenchman who led the Ferrari F1 team through one of it’s greatest periods of success during his 15 year reign, is thought to want to spend more time dedicated to pursuing other interests and not being permanently glued to a desk in Ferrari HQ. Who can blame him. It is understood he will remain on the board of directors at Ferrari.

Here at FFN we wish him lots of luck for the future and hope he still pops by at the occasional Grand Prix from time to time. He will be sadly missed, especially the sight of him boiling his socks off in that bloody red sweater, randomly ripping off journalists heads and chewing his fingernails off in anger every time he sees Ron Dennis. As much as we dearly love new team Boss Stefano Domenicali, he just doesn’t provide the same entertainment value.

We are very sad. Roll on Malaysia.

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.

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