Tadashi Yamoshina


Just when you think the powers that be in Formula 1 can’t come out with anything more ridiculous than they have already unleashed on the world, then lo and behold they seem intent on proving you completely wrong.

bowlhead-bernieThis week Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has declared that the global economic downturn seems to be having very little effect on the sport, despite the withdrawal of several teams’ sponsors or should we say bankers.

Both ING and RBS who are major sponsors for Renault and Williams respectively, have announced their imminent withdrawal from the sport, but not before they have nonchalantly frittered away our hard earned cash on the stock exchange and scoffed a few rounds of salmon sandwiches and fancy vol-au-vents.

According to the pint-sized bowl-headed one (who we suspect lounges around on sheepskin rugs getting fed peeled grapes by Mongolian princesses), all of this is having very little effect on how the teams are spending their money or operating. Little Bernard has reportedly pointed out that most F1 teams will still be bringing just as many team personnel to the grand prix for example, and therefore the global recession cannot be having much of an effect in the sport.

Not withstanding the extensive raft of cost cutting measures implemented by the Formula One Team Association (FOTA) in recent times to ensure the future of the teams in the sport, you only have to look around the paddock to find evidence to counter the claims of the pint-sized one.

A stones throw from the FOM trailer for example, we can see the global economic downturn already biting at Toyota, with Team Principal Tadashi Yamashima admitting he had to fight to keep the F1 team going against the need for Toyota as a Manufacturer to drastically reduce costs. Nowhere is this more evident, than in the Toyota Garage itself where the poor car designers have had to re-use the same can of paint to decorate their charger for at least the last five years. Here at FFN we even have a sneaking suspicion the poor mechanics are having to construct the car out of second hand Meccano kits found on E-bay and a reel of duct tape.

what-do-you-mean-i-dont-get-paidLikewise at Renault, if you scratch beneath the surface, evidence bubbles to light of hard times ahead for the team. Rumours of a most alarming nature have reached our ears, that things are in fact so tight at Renault that the team have confiscated Pat Symonds pocket money and the respected technical genius can no longer be found loitering around the back of the trucks enjoying a crafty cigarette. Tough times indeed.

Down at BrawnGP (formerly Honda and we all know about their financial crisis over the winter) it is clearly evident their poor drivers are taking the brunt of the global economic downturn, with Jenson Button’s retainer being cut almost in half, which must explain why the poor mite can’t even afford a cheap razor and can of shaving foam, while poor Rubens Barrichello has lost weight over the winter….because he hasn’t been able to afford food for the table.

dishwashing-dutyEven Ferrari, who let’s face it are always rolling in money, have been cutting costs of late. Gone is the state of the art scarlet clad electric dishwasher for cleaning pasta sauce off those plates, and in come the rubber gloves with the mechanics reportedly signed up to a dishwashing rota. We dread to think whether this means Luca Di Montezemolo can’t afford another TV set to wreck come the time of the Brazilian GP this year, and whether Stefano Domenicali has had to double up as the tea-lady.

Rumours have even been circulating that McLaren may have to de-commission their glorious gleaming beacon of a media centre because it is too costly to run, and replace it with the less costly alternative of canvas tent and deck chairs (second hand of course).

Not forgetting ex-Formula 1 Champion of yesteryear Jackie Stewart who is doing his bit for the good of the sport (no he hasn‘t promised to stay quiet for a change), the canny Scotsman is carrying on doing whatever he does without getting paid for it, which we must all agree is very benevolent of him. Although why he would need paying we haven’t got the foggiest, since he seems to be wearing the same trousers as he did 30 years ago, so it can’t be going on his wardrobe can it?

Clearly though Bernard hasn’t the first notion what he is on about.

Anyway, amidst all this financial doom and gloom, spare a thought for our poor friend from Asturias. Dear Nando.

poor-nandoWhile we are not aware of any financial hardships for the former double world champion, we do suspect the Spaniard may have made a dreadful mistake. What the deuces am I wittering on about you ask? Well we do wonder if the Renault driver may in fact be now regretting turning down that reported blank cheque proffered by Ross Brawn to lure him to BrawnGP. Presuming it wouldn’t have bounced of course.

Could he be currently sitting on a wall somewhere in Jerez bemoaning the surprising “performance” of the BrawnGP outfit, while Renault haven’t exactly been setting fires in winter testing? We wouldn’t like to bet on it……but we do suspect he may live to regret spending every other weekend for the next nine months getting up early each morning to look at that eyesore parked in the Renault Garage. Perhaps utilising the current spirit of goodwill and cooperation from FOTA, Fernando can petition Toyota for some cheap paint.

After enduring a torrid season in 2007, struggling with a car that was as temperamental as a 14 year old and a stomach wrenching complexion to match, it would seem the Honda team have gone just slightly giddy.

we-are-going-to-win-arent-we-ross.jpgIf rumours are true, the Brackley based team is cock-a-hoop over the fact they have managed to snatch former Ferrari technical Director Ross Brawn from the clutches of Ferrari. (Let’s ignore for one moment the fact Ross has mentioned on more than one occasion he planned his escape from Maranello as far back as 2004 – perhaps he should have asked Nigel Stepney to smuggle him out it would have been quicker) Meanwhile Honda has now gone back to their old ways of counting chickens before they have hatched. 1,2, 3…

Honda CEO Nick Fry has gone on record recently as saying he sees no reason why the team will not be able to start off their 2008 campaign pretty much on a level with their performance at the end of the 2006 season. Theoretically there is nothing wrong with making such assumptions, but we can’t help wondering if Honda are putting foot firmly in mouth yet again by making the statements publicly before they have even got their new challenger out on the tarmac. After all at the beginning of 2007, they were predicting challenging for the championship…and look how that turned out. With Honda only managing to win one prize, that of most ridiculous paint job on a shopping trolley. If in doubt it’s best to stop crowing to all and sundry from the rooftops, as Ron Integrity Dennis will be able to tell you, lest you have to make a grovelling apology later on and really do look like a prize turkey (albeit a very bald one).

Here at FFN we can partially understand Honda’s enthusiasm at having Uncle-Cuddly-Bear-Banana-Man-Brawn whip them into shape, after all he did a decent job of sorting out those “irrational screaming hysterical Italians” down at Ferrari. But really we feel they would be better off concentrating on shaving off that alarming ginger bird’s nest that seems to have firmly ensconced itself on Jenson’s chin. After all that thing has got to have some negative effect not only on the car’s handling performance, but on the morale of the poor Mechanics that have to look at it weekend in and out. (At least Alonso’s raised a few giggles).

It remains to be seen if the Brackley team have finally got to grips with their wind tunnel gremlins and produced a better car for the 2008. One thing we can’t help pondering here at FFN, is whether some of Honda’s new found enthusiasm and cheery attitude could be a result of passing on their lame dog of a car for 2007 to the poor Super Aguri team, who will have to pay for the dubious pleasure. In which case we fully endorse Sato taking out just about every passing car he can in a destruction derby. We can only hope in the following days we may here some good news on behalf of the Super Aguri team, and hopefully find out if Ant Davidson has kept his race seat.

tadashi.jpgMeanwhile Ross Brawn apparently has a two-year plan for turning Honda’s fortunes around, which coincidentally is the same time limit Toyota’s Team Principal Tadashi Yamashina has been given before Toyota pull the plug and see their F1 plans go swirling down the toilet.

Despite the biggest budget of all F1 teams (most of which was presumably paid to the other Schumacher brother by mistake) the Toyota team have failed to impress in the 6 year history in F1.

Yamashina has confirmed that their efforts will be concentrated on improving in two areas: aerodynamics and operationally. According to recent reports, Toyota officials are claiming that their 2008 car will be 2.2 seconds faster – but they didn’t confirm if they meant faster than last years vehicle or faster than the warp speed in which the FIA slapped a libel law suit on an ill advised journalist for voicing his opinion. If FFN suddenly goes off air, please come and storm the basement of FIA headquarters in Paris – otherwise I could be forced to eat my own arm off.

Meanwhile Toyota’s Jarno Trulli has been quoted as saying that is he looking forward to driving against a challenging team mate for a change (Timo Glock). When asked if he was making a snide remark regarding his previous team mate Ralf Schumacher, the Italian refused to elaborate lest he incriminated himself. Rumours in the Schumacher camp are suggesing Ralfie is plotting a return to F1 in 2009 after a sabbatical (it didn’t harm Ross did it?) although we cannot ascertain if there is any truth in suggestions that Ralfie has petitioned big brother to buy him an F1 team just in case he can’t get in at Force 1 India.

Going back somewhat to the subject of toilets, Ferrari’s Nick Tombazis has recently moved to deny there has been any dissent in the Ferrari camp regarding their new Champ Kimi Raikkonen. According to Tombazis, there has never been any question marks over Kimi’s head (apart from when can he leave to get to the bar) and that Kimi although very quiet, when he does pipe up apparently says “significant things”. We only hope the significant things he is talking about include excellent technical feedback on the car and do not include detailed descriptions of his bowel habits, as mentioned some time ago at the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2006.

a-vision-in-grey.jpgWorryingly, we have just heard some disturbing news regarding McLaren’s new charge Heikki Kovaleinen. The chirpy Finn has reportedly been seen with a pair of grey underpants on his head, walking around in circles in Woking, claiming that it was his “childhood dream to drive for McLaren”.

Additionally the poor mite is reported to be muttering about staying with the team long term and the possiblity of enjoying equal treatment to Lamppost Lewis. We really do hope this strange malaise lifts soon, otherwise we may be forced to send Professor Sid Watkins in to investigate…assuming he can fit inside McLaren’s tiny garages at the end of the pitlane of course.

Stayed Tuned….Part 3 coming soon.