Adrian Newey

Day 2

rubens.jpgThe second day of testing for the Formula 1 fraternity at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona, was by and large a fairly dull affair, not withstanding the fact that Honda’s Rubens Barrichello ended up topping the timesheets by the end of the day’s session. Followed on by Force 1ndia’s Giancarlo Fisichella who has been having somewhat of a barnstorming season now he has escaped the rather large shadow of Flabby-o Briatore.

Following on from the previous day’s proceedings, most teams concentrated on working with the 2009 regulation spec slick tyres and associated aerodynamic/downforce configurations, although we were treated to some rather intriguing aerodynamic pieces by a handful of teams still working on developments for this championship season.

If you follow wildlife documentaries you may have noticed that nature always seems to come up with some of the most clever and efficient designs, and it would seem many an F1 team down the paddock have cottoned onto this fact.

We certainly have witnessed Honda’s obsession with it in the past, with Ruben’s Barrichello talking about his vehicle as if it were a cat, and some of the strange appendages that appeared during 2007 looking like they were straight out of London Zoo.

honda-rabbit-ears.jpgEvidently it would seem that BMW-Sauber’s prickly porcupine has had somewhat of an influence in this area, no doubt because of their excellent and impressive performances thus far this season. Following suit on Tuesday, Honda appeared with some interesting appendages of their own…a pair of rabbit ears protruding out of the front of their nose cone.

Of course here at FFN we will willingly admit we are no ‘Adrian Newey’ when it comes to aerodynamics, but we do have to wonder how a pair of rabbit ears helps the performance of the car, wouldn’t they be better off with a rabbit’s foot? (A well known good luck charm) I suppose we should thank our lucky stars they didn’t build a tortoise instead.

renoos-shark-fins.jpgContinuing on with the wildlife theme, Renault appeared to have copied Red Bull, by adopting a similarly hideous looking ‘shark’s fin’ to the rear of the engine on their car. If nothing else it looks like it could be useful for the team to hang their coats off when the car is in the garage.

Even Ferrari were getting in on the act, with little Brazilian poppet Felipe Massa laughingly admitting that the F2008 now looks like a shark, complete with ‘hammerhead’ front wing and a gaping mouth on top of the nose cone. As long as it doesn’t inadvertently chew his gear-shifting arm off when he is least expecting it.

Incidentally the Ferrari star put in the third fastest time of the day, however, we understand that this was done on grooved tyres with the 2008 aerodynamic configuration, making Felipe the fastest man using full 2008 regulations. Forza Felipe!

Day 3

familiar-face.jpgThe third day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya got under way with a rather familiar face at the wheel of the F2008. Yes, you guessed it sometimes Super Assistant, Car Developer, Football reality TV show and Motorbike stunt skid fiend Michael Schumacher taking over in testing from Felipe Massa. Where he finds the time amongst all his trophy polishing we’d really like to know.

The 7 times World Champion managed to finish the day second fastest on the timesheets, behind Renault’s Fernando Alonso. But due to most of the teams still tinkering about with a mixture of 2008 and 2009 regulations, slick and grooved tyres and various appendages left, right and centre it was nigh on impossible to have the slightest inkling what it all meant.

Renault’s Pat Symonds has admitted that the R28 has failed to live up to the Enstone team’s expectations, but it is apparently difficult to pinpoint one area where there is specifically a problem. It would seem in an effort to improve their midpack position, just 3 races in they have resorted to throwing just about every available aero appendage they can at the R28 and hoping for some kind of divine intervention.

fernando.jpgCurrent rumours circulating the paddock are suggesting that Renault are desperately trying to hang onto their Double World Champion, who is rumoured to have signed a two year contract with the team, albeit with a clause to leave after one year if the car is not upto scratch.

Given Fernando’s much touted car development skills (you’ll have to browse a few F1 internet forums for further information) we can’t help feeling Renault should be up at the front challenging by now, if the Spaniard spent more time concentrating on the job in hand and less time sending flirty emails off to Maranello every hour on the hour.

On track for the first time on Wednesday was the new Torro Rosso STR3, which within hours of having been unveiled, promptly found itself careering across a gravel trap into a crash barrier by former Champ Car ace Sebastien Bourdais after just 71 laps of testing.

newly-reconfigured-torro-rosso.jpgIt is understood the damage is significant enough to ensure the car will be unable to be repaired in time for the fourth and final day of testing at the Barcelona Circuit.

Still, Sebastien should take some solace from the fact his penchant for off-road excursions are probably earning him quite an army of admirers in the Rallying fraternity if things don’t work out in Formula 1….failing that he could always start a pop career…..

ournigeagain.jpgHave you heard of the Stepney-Coughlan joint car development collaboration? No? Neither had Ferrari, or McLaren for that matter (we hope for their sake) – which might be the reason behind all the chaotic developments that unfurled today. It started off with Ferrari firing Nigel Stepney, shortly folllowed by McLaren suspending a senior engineer suspected to be Mike Coughlan, and both teams releasing a bunch of statements on the supposed one-way flow of dossiers of sensitive information. Now the chaps at Maranello are not a demanding or picky lot, but if there is one thing they object to rather strongly – that would be their design innovations reaching the chief rival before their own factory floor. Of course there are some teams (which I will not name) where it wouldn’t make any difference even if a battalion of Ferrari engineers were to conduct daily tutorials using latest design blueprints, but there are also some other teams where leakage of any such information will result in Ferrari’s performance oscillating like a sine curve in comparison. McLaren would naturally fall into the latter category.

Now the inner workings of this supposed Stepney-Coughlan collaboration remains a mystery, but the rumor is that it isn’t really symbiotic. One possibility could be that while Stepney brings all the information and data to the table drawing from…erm…his organization’s expertise, Coughlan uses the same in a manner he deems fit without causing too many raised eyebrows. Of course all this is just speculation and nothing is confirmed yet, but if true, there is just one question I would like to ask – of all the ruddy teams on the grid that one could pass on information to, why choose McLaren? Mike Coughlan is (was) the chief designer at McLaren to boot.

As if the McLaren team doesn’t have enough problems on the plate already, someone’s set off Fernando Alonso and he has started all over again like a broken gramophone record on how Hamilton is British and McLaren is British too and the next race is the British GP. Odd coincidence, eh? Is that Haug that I see running down the paddock armed with a a stout stick searching for his 2 time world champion driver? Nando claims McLaren will want Hamilton to win in Silverstone, just like they wanted him to win in Barcelona. And just like Nando couldn’t win at Barcelona, we suspect Hamilton won’t have much better luck at Silverstone either given Ferrari’s dominant form. At least it will give Ron Dennis some time off from baby-sitting his drivers, which he can productively utilize for instructing his employees that they should not accept packages labelled “Confidential. Top Secret Ferrari documents” from relative strangers, however kindly they may seem.

Incidentally, the RBR charity program was a grand success, and they now have 30,000 faces (photographs of faces rather) to add to the car livery. After Adrian Newey threatened to cry bloody murder if they came anywhere near the front wing with the decal stickers, the team has reluctantly decided that the front and rear wings, and the leading edges of the car will be face-free. Just for your information. Forza.

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.

Boys will be boys, and inside every Formula 1 engineer secretly hides a frustrated racing driver just desperate to get out.

Red Bull Racing Technical Director Adrian Newey is a case in point, with the car designer for Red Bull and Torro Rosso apparently confirming that he will be taking part in the Le Mans 24 hour race later this year.

adriannewey.JPGObviously the frustration of watching his creations driving round towards the back end of the grid is such that he is desperate to get his speed fix somehow, he will be risking life and limb driving a Ferrari 430 GT2 alongside two other Brits in the Le Mans competition due to take place in June.

Apparently two other former F1 personnel will also be taking part in Le Mans, ex- drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Johnny Herbert.

Its a bit ironic really considering Red Bull fought tooth and nail not to be given Ferrari engines for their car this season, but their chief designer can’t wait to get his hands on one…

Now I could be wrong, but I do recall our Adrian having a little bit of a mishap last time he decided to play ‘Michael Schumacher’, rumour has it he crashed the car and got a little bump on the head. I’m sure Mrs. Newey is going to be absolutely thrilled at the prospect of Adrian playing silly beggars again. I wonder if another bump might knock some sense into him and stop him making extremely complicated turkeys to baffle the Red Bull contingent with.

kimicanthearyou.JPGAnother rumour coming out of the pitlane regards Kimi Raikonnen’s radio problems during the Australian GP. According to ITV F1, the reason why Kimi was only able to receive messages and not make any on his Ferrari radio is due to the fact the team have just installed a new digital radio system with military grade encryption.

Rumour has it that Ferrari are still trying to iron out bugs in the Tetra radio system, and while they were banking on no-one else getting to hear what they were saying they didn’t reckon on it effecting Kimi. Seems a convenient enough excuse to be selectively deaf, ignore the boss when he is nagging and thrash the car hell for leather!

Finally, it is rumoured that Ferrari’s secret team-boss, car-tester, landscape gardener and car designer Michael Schumacher will be attending a handful of Grand Prix this season in the capacity of his ‘top secret’ role at Ferrari.

The former 7 times World Champion will be attending Barcelona, Monaco and the Nurburgring…but to what end we can only guess…..personally I think its Ferrari’s way of getting their own back on the F1 journalists by winding them up to fever pitch…..question is considering its all so top secret, does Michael actually know to turn up let alone what he is doing if he gets there?


Red Bull – Spot The Difference Contest? -win the grand prize (front row seats for two at court room in Lausanne for Williams & Spyker Vs. SA & STR)

There is just one week to go for the start of the 2007 F1 season, but what is F1 without controversy. So the customer car row looks all set to dominate race weekend proceedings, but Colin Kolles wants to keep us guessing. “I cannot tell you what will happen for the moment, because some people are expecting some things. Sometimes it is better to keep quiet and come with something that they are not necessarily expecting” he says, which is rather counter-intuitive because it is going to send the concerned parties thinking out of the box now. Gerhard Berger will no doubt be asking himself “What are we not expecting and should we be expecting it?”. All fun, bring it on.

The gist of the customer car row (just in case you were hibernating through it all) is that there are some teams that feel you cannot just share the chassis of another team and pass it off as your own, and there are some others teams that feel you can. Each team must design its own car and hold the intellectual property rights to it – sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? But of course Formula 1 team bosses are all major exponents of the policy –  “Give me a law and I will find you a loophole”. Now according to Autosport, all this deals with Concorde Agreement and not with the FIA official rules, so there won’t be an official protest. Just the legal action then. The only bummer here is that no one really knows what the darned Schedule 3 of the Concorde Agreement says as it is protected by a confidentiality clause, so we will just have to take their word for it. This is what Berger has to say – “There is a different interpretation of the Concorde Agreement and I respect very much the interpretation of Spyker and Williams, but we have our own”. And I thought the whole idea behind having a legal document and an ‘agreement’ was to remove ambiguity….if there are ‘n’ million interpretations for it then it kind of makes you wonder. Sir Frank Williams is however quite clear on the matter – “If you are a constructor, then you build your own car. If you buy one, ergo you are just not a constructor”. 

So what do Williams and Spyker want? “SA and STR should score no constructor points as they are not constructors”. But then SA and STR are not in this business for charity, and if they score no points then they make no money (though realistically, we are not expecting either of them to score a bunch of points even with customer cars). And Gerhard Berger is not going down without a fight – “If they want to take legal action, fine, we will fight it out”. The STR car design is not owned by Red Bull racing team, but by Red Bull Technology, which is an independant company led by Adrian Newey, which supposedly makes it legal. It is reported that SA will also be sharing the Honda chassis through similar measures….MORE in the Articles Section.

45massaul3.jpgAll this talk about drinking and karaoke bars has set me wondering – how does Kimi Raikkonen sound when he sings? I mean, he can’t even get his voice modulation right when he talks (Kimi’s voice coach – “there should be an upward inflection of the voice when you ask a question, there should be a downward inflection when you finish a sentence…it can’t all be said in the same pitch for heaven’s sake!”). So does he sing in a monotone too…like he is just talking loudly? That apart, I fail to understand what all the hoopla is about. So the man had a couple of drinks and did a bit of singing – there wasn’t any law against that last I checked. And with two whole weeks to go before race weekend, I honestly think we should just leave him alone. And it’s not like he is the first F1 driver to drink or sing. To put things in perspective, here’s a picture (on the left) of our dignified and esteemed driver lineup from last year – now that ought to keep us tifosi silent for a while. Of course Kimi can expect bricks by post if he doesn’t deliver this season, but that might never come to pass.

Damon Hill has advised fellow Brit Jenson Button to quit Honda if he nurtures any hope of winning the WDC. It is all very well to ask Jense to quit Honda, but with all top teams having either promising young talent or established stars, and with exciting talent like Sebastian Vettel, Nelson Piquet Jr. and Nico Hulkenburg waiting on the sidelines, Button might be best adviced to stay in Honda and make the most of it. Of course one feels a little sorry for Rubens Barichello who willingly left the Maranello camp to join Honda, stating that this was his only chance to fight for the WDC….making one suspect all was not well with the Barichello brain cells. In this sport, one man’s loss is another man’s gain – and Massa has made the most of his wonderful opportunity. Which brings us to our favorite Australian – Mark Webber. Webber quit Williams for Red Bull and has since not stopped predicting doom for his former employers. But Damon Hill feels Williams always goes through these huge performance variations and 2007 might very well be the comeback year.  And now with Red Bull at least a couple of seconds off pace and reports coming in that they are planning to replace the wings, bargeboard, undertray…and nearly the whole car so to speak, we think Webber might just end up looking a little silly this year…not that he doesn’t usually as well.  

It has just been revealed that Paul Stoddart will be a commentator for the forthcoming Melbourne GP. What’s with all these former team bosses taking to the commentary business one wonders (with Peter Sauber playing a similar role too). There is this small fear that with Ron Dennis rumored to be selling his stake in McLaren this year, he might also decide to come in and give it a shot, and we all know it is easier to understand fluid dynamics and tyre composition chemistry than trying to interpret Ron’s unique language. We will just have to wait and watch.

The start of the Formula 1 season is just two weeks away, and trouble is already rearing its ugly head. (No I’m not talking about Jacques Villeneuve for once).

Aside from the customer car row that has been bubbling away underneath the surface all winter, several teams have now come to the realisation that their car is really rather rubbish and are frantically pulling all the strings to try to rectify the situation.

Most notably the teams that are not happy with their vehicles’ performance are Honda and Red Bull. In addition Poor Super Aguri haven’t even finished building their car yet…. So they have no idea if it’s rubbish or not.

Honda has confirmed today that they are planning a major revamp to the RA107 in time for the Malaysian Grand Prix, which takes place on 8th April.

A lack of out and out pace has become evident throughout winter testing, with tectonic plate movement on planet Earth recording faster times than the RA107. This has left the technical team at Honda urgently seeking to make upgrades to the car’s aerodynamic package and other mechanical changes including revision to the rear suspension.

Honda’s Senior Technical Director Shuhei Nakamoto has stated that he fears the Honda outfit will struggle in Australia to qualify inside the top 10, claiming to be marginally ahead of Toyota and Red Bull but behind the rest.

nickfry.JPGTeam Boss Nick Fry however has downplayed suggestions that Honda are pants, and reckons that the car has intentionally been built to give room for vast improvements throughout the season. (Pull the other one it has bells on it Nick! who builds a crap car on purpose?).

“With our team over the last seven or eight years it has been an evolutionary process and we evolved our way up to fourth place in the championship last year,” he said.

Can Honda ignore their critics and actually produce a decent car for a change?

“But to get into the top three, we don’t feel you can do it with evolution. It is more minor revolution and a lot of features of this car, especially the cooling package, the exhaust packaging and Coke bottling at the rear of the car are probably more dramatic than any other.

“So the headroom this cars gives us in order to develop through the season is much greater than we have had before. I am not promising we will win in Melbourne, far from it, I think we will be in a points scoring position.

“But as we go through the season this car has the ability to get stronger and stronger, and it will be a race winner.” jabbered Nick…. (Right I’m off down the bookies to put a bet on that one, who will lend me a quid?).

Meanwhile Red Bull who throughout last year gave up on developing their car to concentrate on this season’s vehicle, have come to the realisation that they also have a bit of a turkey on their hands.

christian-horner.JPGThe Adrian Newey designed RB3 has not shown impressive pace during winter testing and has had its fair share of reliability issues as well. Although an aerodynamic update is due to be tested on the car next week at Magny-Cours, Red Bull are in a race against time if they want to make any kind of big impression this season.

Can Red Bull manage to save Horner’s bacon, or will he be left looking a bit of a prat? —>

Team Boss Christian Horner who has been recently studying at the Nick Fry Management School of Excuses and Explanations, had this to say:

“It is not an evolutionary car, but a revolutionary one. Of course, we have teething problems to deal with such a new car, and it is hard to know where we are.

“There will be an aggressive development through the season that will move us forward. And I am confident we will stride forward.

“There is going to be a huge fight. Everyone is so tightly packed.” (A big fight to stop everyone else lapping them that is).

So there we have it the Constructor A teams, that promised so much, have so far delivered so little…and are faced with the prospect of getting beaten by their customer car compatriots.(I’m not laughing no honestly I’m not…..much.)

I bet those that were laughing their socks off back in January at Ferrari’s long wheel-based cars aren’t laughing quite so hard now, eh?

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