Chris Dyer

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.


michaels-modest-hut.JPGHeading into the last three Grand Prix of the curent Formula 1 season much of the news and rumours surrounding the paddock concern the drivers market.

This season being no exception to previous ones with the exception we are not wondering this time what Michael Schumacher might be upto (apart from the important business of tinkering with his new Schloss that is).

As FerrariFan previously reported Fernando Alonso is keeping everyone guessing, with rumours that he is joining just about every other team plus some in his bid to escape the incessant chattering of McLaren Team Principal Ron Dennis. Obviously having seen that Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen made a great escape, Nando it is rumoured is attempting to follow suit. Not least because he probably feels that his temper tantrum throwing ways should fit in well with a team that historically had been known for throwing the odd few itself on occasion (Ferrari just in case you were unsure who I was prattling on about).

But it is not just Nando’s eyebrow movements that are keeping the tifosi on their toes and potentially having them pulling tufts of hair out, oh no.

It would seem according to current rumours, other changes could be afoot at Ferrari as well apart from the obvious difficulty the team are going to encounter trying to cram Felipe Massa and Nando into the same car.

jean-todt2.JPGAccording to the latest scurrulous rumours Ferrari CEO Jean Todt could be receiving his pension and bus pass sooner rather than later. It is understood in some of the less prestigious sections of the media that Jean is under increasing pressure from the top to give up his role of Team Boss to make way for former Technical Director Ross Brawn. Jean however it is thought is less than willing to give over the reins of power as is often the way with people of dimunitive stature (just look at Bernie!).

Here at FFN we think we have hit upon the solution. Given that Jean is not very big anyway, why not keep them both, after all if Jean sat on Ross’s knee on the pitwall (and Ross being a great hulking figure of a man) he would finally be able to see what the deuces is going on track and lead the team from there, instead of having to be resigned to campaigning for the teams annual shiny pot allowance in courtrooms in Paris.

Yesterday we also learnt that former glorified Mechanic and top of Max Mosley’s Christmas Card list Nigel Snitch Stepney is penning his autobiography. The lengthy tome entitled “Red Mist” which will highlight all areas of Nigel’s life (car chases, white powder, secret dossiers, love trysts with Coughlan and whether he knows his beard is only second in silliest to Alonso’s) will be available in bookshops next year.

Ever the thoughtful type we are to understand ‘Steppers’ is not penning this great work of fiction to make any money (I’m not rolling my eyes in incredibility honestly) but to put across his version of events in the spygate saga amongst other things. How incredibly kind of him, we are presuming since Nige doesn’t want any money for the honour, it will be perfectly acceptable for us to ‘borrow’ a copy from the local bookshop, sneak it out under our coats, take a photocopy on McLaren’s behalf and return the original from whence it came.

the-artist.JPGGiven that our Nige has gone on record in the past talking about knowing where Ferrari keep their dead bodies (we had presumed a cemetary but maybe that’s naive) we are wondering if this lengthy revelation may have half the staff at Maranello downing tools and heading off en masse with spades in hand preparing a plot on his behalf.

If other scurrulous rumours are to be believed yet more changes may be afoot amongst Ferrari’s other encumbants. Here at FFN we understand Mario Almondo is looking to set up his own cake baking emporium, Luca Di Montezemolo is thinking about going into hairdressing (I promise I won’t make a pun about his cutting remarks) and Luca Baldisserri it is thought will be donning a beret and heading off into the sunset with his crayons to be an artist.

Where this leaves the likes of Rob Smedley and Chris Dyer we haven’t got the foggiest, but at least ickle Felipe is giving Luca Colajanni a run for his money in the press release department. Forza.

spa-francorchamps.jpgAfter a year out from the F1 calendar while revisions were being made to the track, F1 racing finally returned to glorious Spa Francorchamps last weekend.

The week leading up to the Grand Prix had been dominated with the legal wranglings taking place in Paris at the WMSC, with the pitlane on tenterhooks as to what decision if any the FIA would take against McLaren. Who you probably know by now if you have a head, a brain and all the usual limbs etc saw McLaren take a bit of a drubbing, but lucky to escape with a humungous fine, no constructors points and a big arrow above their heads pointing in a southerly direction saying “cheats”.

So it came as great relief to the fans, engineers, drivers and everyone concerned that finally things could move on, the men in grey suits could be banished back into their broom cupboards and we could finally get back to what the sport is ‘supposed’ to be about motor racing.

After a dismal showing at their home grand prix a week previously Ferrari were determined to redress the balance and finally give their fans something to be cheery about, but could their arch rivals stop them?

Securing the first Ferrari front row lockout of the season, things were certainly looking up for the Maranello squad. But it remained to be seen if Kimi and Felipe could manage to go a whole race keeping their McLaren counterparts behind them and without any more mysterious collisions into tyre walls, damper failures (whatever they are when they are at home) or any short term memory loss on the pitwall regarding refuelling.

the-race-start.jpgAs the five red lights went out, both of our boys were wide awake for once and made a great start down into the first corner, with the McLaren duo battling it out behind them. As his team mate drew level with him going into La Source, Fernando Alonso decided he was having none of it from the star rookie and was going to teach him a bit of a lesson as only pushy Double World Champions with a penchant for brake-testing and tantrum throwing are want to do. Nando forced his team mate to go wide at the exit to La Source and the pair ran side by side down into Eau Rouge, but Fernando was determined not to give an inch let alone a mile to his team mate forcing young Lewis to back off or end up as tyre wall fodder.

Apparently this manoeuvre upset the Englishman, but considering he has been carrying out Schumacher-esque chops all season on just about everyone, is he really in a position to complain? Really one cannot expect much better from certain Spaniards who think nothing of cheating, lying, blackmailing his team and shopping them to the governing body really.

At the end of the first lap BMW-Sauber’s Robert Kubica had moved up from 15th to 13th place after being demoted down the grid post qualifying for an engine change. He may have a head shaped like a parsnip but he certainly knows how to drive which can’t be said for some people in F1.

As the second lap was under way Austrian beanpole Alex Wurx spun his car in the bus stop demoting himself right to the back of the pack. Meanwhile Antipodean Mark ‘Whingebag’ Webber (who we should mention has been remarkably quiet of late) seemed to be a man on a mission and stormed past Renault’s Gardening Expert Heikki ‘Grassmower’ Kovaleinen into 6th place. It remained to be seen though if the Red Bull could manage more than a handful of laps before the gearbox gremlins set in.

Out front the Kimster was scampering away having built up a 1.7 second lead in just two laps over teammate Felipe Massa, with petulant Spaniard Fernando Alonso just 1.4 seconds behind him on track.

Proving that his birdnest beard is no hindrance to aerodynamic efficiency bratwurst munching and all round sparkly personality Nick Heidfeld meanwhile was scrapping it out with Grassmower for 7th spot.

Meanwhile Parsnip-chops Robert Kubica was charging up the field and showing one of the “top 3 drivers in F1” Ralf Schumacher a thing or to, by making short work of him on track and snatching away his 8th place.

sutil-v-coulthard.jpgIt would seem Spyker’s B spec car was a bit of an improvement on their usual day-glo eyesore of a shopping trolley, with German Star Adrian Sutil up into 12th spot. The talented pianist and pitlane totty (according to some) was by this stage in proceedings all over the back of David Coulthard’s Red Bull like a bad rash. Whether Mr Magoo noticed or not, or was too busy grooming his grizzly little excuse for a beard in his wing mirrors who can say.

Meanwhile poor little poppet Sebastien Vettel (with slightly frightening shaved head) had come into the pits, gone out again and decided to retire. The 12-year-old lookalike sat patiently in his car in the garage while the mechanics removed the nose cone and poked about the car.

Out front the Kimster and ickle Felipe were scampering away, while Robert Kubica and Heikki Kovaleinen were scrapping it out at La Source. In the Bus Stop Kubica left his braking later than the Finn and shot past like a rocket or at the same speed you’d expect from Kimi had a bottle of Finlandia Vodka been up for grabs.

On lap 14, the first of the pitstops began with Nico Rosberg, Mark Webber and Vitantonio Liuzzi all pitting. The following lap championship contenders Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton came in for the first of their pitstops, and wonders will never cease Ferrari managed to remember all four tyres, fuel and everything. Bravo! It’s amazing what they can do when they have new crayons on that pitwall.

Eventually Adrian Sutil in the Spyker pitted, much to the relief of Mr Magoo in the Red Bull, who then had to fight off the challenge of Robert Kubica in the BMW-Sauber. However, DC managed to use his cube shaped head to his advantage and managed to resist the challenge from the ‘divinely’ inspired and Vatican favourite Pole.

scampering-away.jpgBy the end of lap 20 the Kimster was leading ickle Felipe by 2.3 second and Fandango by 11.8 seconds, so much for the drubbing McLaren were going to dole out in response to their slapped hand at the WMSC courtesy of arch rivals Ferrari then.

A few laps later further pitstops taking place, with Jense (once loved by the British Media) Button and Liuzzi coming in, and a lap later Mr Magoo coming in releasing Kubica out on track.

On lap 31 the Kimster decided to come in presumably because he had run out of Roll-Mops and Vodka, and incidentally took on some fuel, new tyres and a Spiderman comic to read on his way round to the chequered flag. Meanwhile poor Cube-head Coulthard retired in the Bus stop due to a technical failure on the Red Bull, oh well if he waited long enough presumably some public transport would drop by and pick him up. Well it must be called ‘The Bus Stop’ for a reason!

The following lap ickle Felipe came into the pits for a second time, meanwhile out on track Takuma “suicidal move” Sato managed to pass Jense Button in the Honda, the Honda B Team still spanking the Honda A team good and proper. Haven’t Honda recalibrated that blooming wind tunnel yet?

By lap 33 Alonso had come in for his second pitstop releasing his teammate Lewis Lovechild up into 2nd spot, However 3rd placed ickle Felipe has already pitted and Lewis hadn’t meaning that it was only a matter of time before the Ferrari front position lock out was back on again.

A few laps later Hamilton came into the pits for his second stop, while Jense retired down at Honda…well what can you expect from a car that has about as much mechanical grip as an oiled haddock on a skating rink and all the aerodynamic efficiency of a 1970’s style afro.

Out front the Kimster was now 14 seconds ahead and rumouredly having to receive electro-convulsive therapy every few seconds from race engineer Chris Dyer to keep him from slipping into an afternoon nap as he is want to do on occasion.

With two laps remaining both ickle Felipe and young Lewis both started putting pressure on their respective “No.1” team mates, the McLaren rookie nearly losing it at Pouhon, but fortunately the tarmac run off area allowed him to continue, no doubt if a gravel trap had maliciously intervened there wouldn’t have been enough time for a crane to come out and rescue him before the race had finished.

the-race-winner.jpgThe Kimster then lead home a much needed Ferrari 1-2 much to the delight of the tifosi and the team, and even managed a rare show of emotion by doing a donut in his F2007 before entering the pitlane prompting everyone to wonder just who had been driving the Ferrari that afternoon. He even managed to crack a smile on the podium…we are deeply concerned…what have Ferrari been doing to him?

Meanwhile Nando Alone-so was looking increasingly uncomfortable during the podium celebrations, no doubt because he was out numbered 3-1 by Ferrari men even if he did know their brake balance, weight distribution, wives shopping habits, favourite meals and bank balances.

So now just 9 days to go until the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji, and the fight is on for the World Drivers Championship, with just 2 points between the McLaren duo and the Kimster 13 points behind. All it needs is a Banana in the odd McLaren tail pipe and let battle commence! That’s unless McLaren decide to appeal their conviction and end up even deeper in the mire with the WMSC.

Forza Ferrari!

At the beginning of 2007, Formula 1 fans everywhere were eager with anticipation for the season to begin, in what promised to be one of the most open and exciting championship years in a long time. With the retirement of 7 times World Champion Michael Schumacher, and the move of Double World Champion Fernando Alonso to McLaren and a much hyped flying Finn Kimi Raikkonen to Ferrari it was expected we would witness some really exciting close racing.

ferrariwindtunnel.jpg7 races into the season, all is not going as expected. Fernando is struggling not to be outclassed by a rookie to F1, and apart from his opening performance of the season things are not looking quite so rosy red for Kimi at Ferrari either. So what has gone wrong?

If you were to believe the rumours flying around currently concerning Ferrari, Maranello has descended into chaos and anarchy, and Luca Di is currently circling the perimeter security fence on a tractor so no one can escape.

So far we are being led to believe that Ferrari have suffered a failure of their wind tunnel at Ferrari HQ, which is rumoured to have put car development back several weeks. This would explain why the F2007 is rapidly going the way of Honda’s creation – backward down the grid, according to the armchair experts. Nothing to do with those two hapless thieves that absconded off to Toyota a while back was it? After all according to paddock chit-chat Toyota already have their beady eyes on one of our drivers…and wasn’t one of those hapless sticky-mitts a wind tunnel expert? The plot thickens.

It is also rumoured that since the departure of previous Technical Director Ross Brawn, the non-Italian members of the Ferrari squad have been feeling increasingly uncomfortable with current arrangements. Not least because they can’t understand a friggin word of the instructions they have been given, apparently, according to some mysterious nameless insider (who has probably never even been to Italy let alone inside the Gestione Sportiva).

michaellookingpretty.jpgIt has also been suggested by some “in the know” that nobody at the Scuderia seems to have the first darned clue who is supposed to be doing what. Least of all ‘Super Assistant’ Michael Schumacher who seems to turn up now and then like a bit of tumbleweed being blown in the door, stands or sits around looking pretty on the pit wall gantry for the Press and then disappears off into obscurity once more. Leaving pretty much everyone none the wiser to his purpose or when he’ll blow in again.

Another mystery is why does Ferrari have a Technical Director who doesn’t actually turn up to races? How is the man supposed to lead technical development and improvements on the cars when he probably hasn’t even clapped his eyeballs on them? Or hasn’t the first darned clue what they look like in action? Is Mario Almondo surgically attached to his desk? Is he a hermit living in a bat-cave below the factory? We demand to be told the truth.

Along with the admissions by Ferrari’s Head of Track Operations Luca Baldisserri that they still haven’t the foggiest why the car isn’t as good as it should be, come some startling admissions by Kimi’s Race Engineer Chris Dyer. Apparently the Ferrari Engineers and Mechanics on Kimi’s side of the garage have had to throw all their old rule books and practices out of the window with their new charge.

chrisandkimi.jpgAccording to Chris, Kimi doesn’t work remotely in the same way as Michael did (with some of us wondering if he actually works at all), so his entire crew is having to grope about in the dark carrying out a task that is tantamount to looking for needles in haystacks. The important question is can the Scuderia wait until 2015? As we suspect with the two or three mumbled words Kimi produces on a weekly basis it might take them until then to find out what his feedback is.

With all this supposed farcical chaos going on its a miracle that the Ferrari team actually manage to remember to turn up for races, let alone manage to remain in second place in one of the most highly competitive and hard fought Championships in Motorsport.

Inevitably since things have not being meeting the Italian Media and tifosi’s lofty standards (only winning is acceptable – otherwise heads should roll down Modena High Street), it wasn’t going to be long before this old chestnut got rolled out of the Ferrari broom cupboard.

michaelinmonaco.jpgAccording to German (eyebrows raised quizzically already) Publication ‘Auto Motor Und Sport’ that has brought us some cracking stories in the past, Michael Schumacher is being prepared in secret to make a comeback to take over from the lacklustre Kimi. According to the publication Michael has already secretly tested the F2007 in preparation, and it is inevitable that the calls for Kimi to step aside should have come, because it is thought that had Michael still been driving this year Ferrari really wouldn’t be in this mess.

Is it any wonder that Kimi looks so shifty every time Michael appears in the Ferrari Garage, he is no doubt fearful to turn his back lest he should step into his car to find he has been beaten to it and he is perching on the Red Baron’s knee.

Michael’s spokes-personage Sabine Kehm has categorically denied the reports insisting Schumi has no intention of getting back in the car, but we won’t let that stand in the way of a sensational comeback story.

Cor blimey. It really is getting like a series of the TV soap Dallas. Tune in next week to find out who shot Jean Todt, and if Aldo Costa actually has been kidnapped by Aliens, and just where has Massa’s race Engineer Rob Smedley got to of late?

Watch out for the next happy instalment of the F1 Soap Opera coming soon. Episode 2 – McLaren’s Media Troubles.

bernie.jpgFor a pint sized ankle-biting midget with a bowl haircut and the fashion sense of the average grandma, Bernie Ecclestone sure can kick up a big fuss at a moment’s notice. Today the miniature F1 supremo has sparked a political row in Spain, by vowing that Valencia will be hosting a round of the F1 Grand Prix Calendar from 2008, on the condition that current President Francisco Camps (Interesting Surname) gets re-elected in the forthcoming local elections to be held later on this month. (Can I detect a bung?).

Suffice to say in Spain, this has upset a few people….most notably the opposition political parties, who are furious that Bernie is making a political event out of the issue. This is an insult to the people of Valencia who are above these sort of conditional offers,” said Inmaculada Rodriguez-Pinero, the PSOE’s secretary of politics, economics and employment. Not to a mention an insult to the intelligence of us all when Bernie said there was no reason for any country to host two Grand Prix while axing some of Europe’s old favourites, to twenty seconds later attempt to cash in on the new found popularity of Formula 1 in Spain due to the success of some chap called Fernando “Eyebrow” Alone-so and all over a bit of monopoly money.

I don’t know why we should be surprised, the midget hasn’t got to where he has with out a fantastic business acumen, the ability to manipulate at will, a secretive admiration for Josef Stalin, and knowing how to make friends and influence people on a par with Microsoft’s Bill Gates. Let’s hope he never mistakenly gets offered the job as a UN goodwill ambassador….or Switzerland could be invading Iraq.

On the back of the FIA saying they are going to clamp down on all the silly winglets appearing like sprouting mushrooms up and down the pitlane, in an attempt to improve the opportunity of overtaking possibilities….BMW-Sauber have confirmed they will be unveiling an interesting and novel new wing from tomorrow morning in Friday Practice. BMW-Sauber Team Boss Mario Theissen has confirmed the team will be testing the new device for the first time tomorrow and suggested “we will know it when we see it”….leading us to wonder if it can be any more fantastical or long lasting than the ‘dumbo ears’ from Honda.

davidcoulthard.jpgTalking of dumbo’s, apparently Red Bull’s Mr.Magoo (that’s David Coulthard to you and I) is apparently getting a bit narked about people continually harping on about his age. According to DC he is just as motivated as he was last millennium and doesn’t see what difference it makes if he is 18 or 158 as long as he is a fast experienced driver. And the fact that he doesn’t see is the crux of the issue, as Alex Wurz’s nicely attached head might agree.

But there is no telling DC, who actually believes he has out-performed his younger team mate Mark Webber, despite the Scot not having finished a race since last August…and Mark finishing in both Australia and Malaysia. Another benefit of Old Age…Convenient Short Term Memory Loss. Next DC will be turning up at McLaren and wondering who the hell the two children are that seem to have stolen his seat. I am also wondering if perhaps mirrors have been banned in the Coulthard Household and if David has convinced himself he actually has ‘blonde highlights’ in that grizzled old man’s beard. Gawd help us all when he gets a mobility scooter.

kimster.jpgMeanwhile down at Ferrari young whipper-snapper Kimi Raikkonen has been wildy monosyllabically enthusing as only he knows how, about the return of his predecessor the ‘Red Baron’ to the Formula 1 scene. According to the Kimster, The Return of the King, will involve Michael going behind the scenes to advise Ferrari on what he thinks other teams are upto (sounds like a bit of spying) and suggesting valuable ways to help the team move forward (I usually find the accelerator is a good place to start).

However, Kimi uncertainly refuted the fact Michael would be driving the F2007 “I think I still drive the car, and I do with my engineers what I want,” the Finn replied to Media questions while rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. Which probably only prompted more questions, as it is rumoured Michael like to wear his engineers lucky underpants….so the mind boggles just what Kimi gets up to behind closed doors with his roll-mop herrings and Chris Dyer.

Just three days to go until the Spanish Grand Prix…..

kimster1.jpgKimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso have all recently spoken out about the Australian grand prix. While Kimi was not expecting to win so early, Felipe Massa was hoping for a better weekend, and Nando is “not agreed that Lewis is the fastest one” in his own words. Ferrari would have us believe that Kimi’s recent victory and subsequent visit to Thailand has resulted in a sudden spurt of vocabulary, with Kimi saying rather un-Kimi-esque things like “It was a moment I would not have missed for anything in the world”. First of all, it is more the two words, which is a strict no-no in Kimi-speak, further it seems rather emotional – and that is totally unheard of.

“I have never hidden my joy since the first day I came to Maranello” says Kimi, making us wonder – if this is the joyous version of Kimi, then the mind boggles at what the taciturn and stoic version would be. “Now, after the success in the first race, I am – in case this is possible – even more joyful”. Okay, now this is stretching things a bit. Luca Colajanni (even if made the whole thing up to put on the Ferrari website) should have at least made it sound realistic. Even I can do better….let’s see…”It is nice, I am happy. After the win, it is nicer, I am happier”. Now that sounds like the Kimi we know, doesn’t it?

“When I passed the chequered flag it was a really emotional moment and it was fantastic to celebrate together with the boys from the pitwall. It was a moment I would never have missed for anything in the world” he adds, and those ‘boys’ from the pitwall would include Jean Todt, Luca Baldisserri, Stefano Domenicali and Chris Dyer. It all does seem like one big, happy family. Kimi also felt bad for Massa, saying “The problem Felipe had during qualifying was a real pity, we could not bring home the best possible result as we should have done”. Massa meanwhile is not disheartened by his slow start to the season, which saw gearbox problems during qualifying. “I just have to think ahead” says Massa, sounding positive, “There is a fresh chance for the next race at Sepang, and I am looking forward to being in the front”. Way to go, Felipe.

hamilton.jpgFernando Alonso has meanwhile been very busy trying to dampen all the enthusiasm for Lewis Hamilton, his first race for McLaren getting more than overshadowed by Hamilton’s – with suggestions that pitwall tactics ensured the finishing order to save Nando some embarrassment. Alonso on the other hand, feels he was “slightly held up by Hamilton”. This is a bit like Nick Hiedfeld saying “I was faster than even Kimi Raikkonen, but I couldn’t catch up with him” – I thought the whole idea about being faster is that you catch up with the person in front – otherwise basic physics would dictate that you are travelling at the same or lesser velocity, but Hiedfeld obviously thinks differently. Or maybe he was referring just to the few microseconds after the start. Anyway, Nando points out that he has always struggled against his teammates, saying “I remember Fisi winning in 2005. I had difficult moments with Trulli in 2004, he won in Monaco and he had more podiums than me”. Well…we don’t know what Alonso’s point is, is he trying to say he is not that much better than Fisi and Trulli? Or is he trying to compare Hamilton’s performance on debut to that of the veterans-in-comparison? I am quite fogged to be honest, but all it takes usually is a congratulatory word about Hamilton’s performance before moving on to concentrate on the next race. After all, the season is more than one race long.

Meanwhile Scott Speed is rather appalled at the suggestions from Gerhard Berger that he is a party animal. “It is ridiculous” he says, “For sure I am the person in the paddock who parties the least, I don’t even drink alcohol”. We feel sorry for Scott Speed of course, it’s always rather a pain to be unfairly blamed, but we would also like to point out that it is not very tactful to call one’s team boss ‘ridiculous’, it might result in him no longer being a ‘person in the paddock’, and that would be a pity. Especially considering his weekend was far better than that of the other STR driver, and even one of the Red Bull drivers (at least he didn’t come to within inches of decapitating Wurz, and that is no laughing matter). 16 days, 13 hours and 40 minutes to go for the next race.

kimi2.jpgWhat a smashing race it turned out to be. Of course the enthusiasm comes largely from the fact that Kimi Raikkonen won the first race of the season for Ferrari in great style, dominating the race proceedings. After a very good start, he just sped away into the horizon never to be seen by the rest of the drivers till he came up from behind to lap them, bringing back memories of the 2004 season that Ferrari had. The only thing that went wrong for him and Ferrari today was the loss of radio contact before the race, but Kimi wasn’t too perturbed by that (if he does get perturbed by anything at all) as the plan was all in place. Well, it worked like clockwork. Luca Baldisserri seemed in total control of the strategy situation, and the pit crew were as efficient as ever. The only sore point of the weekend remains Felipe Massa’s gearbox problems, without which he would have been on the podium most probably. Felipe drove a decent race to finish sixth.

But all things should start at the beginning, and that includes race reports. So after Kimi shot off like a bullet, Alonso found himself hastily trying to defend his position against Nick Hiedfeld, only to be overtaken on the outside by Lewis Hamilton as well. And talking of Lewis Hamilton – what an amazing talent this young man is turning out to be! Hamilton seemed to be well in control against Alonso’s pace almost throughout the race, till when Alonso overtook him at the second set of pitstops – an incredible debut performance really. I seem to be getting the chronology all mixed up again, so where were we? Yes, the start…so Nick Heidfeld held on to second position in his BMW till his first (rather early) pit stop, leaving Hamilton in second place ahead of Alonso in third.

It was around this time that Jarno Trulli’s Toyota started spouting a bit of oil, though Trulli’s engineers (according to Peter Windsor) weren’t unduly worried by it – apparently nothing about the car surprises them anymore (“Did you notice the way the car jumped up into the air and started to tango?!!”, “Yeah (indifferently), that happens sometimes”). Christian Albers got bored with all the racing and brought it to a premature halt by going off the track into the barriers (The Spyker is going to kill someone before the season is through really, it still looks a lot like the Ferrari despite the orangish livery). As unbelievable as it sounds, Albers was apparently playing with his ear plugs and didn’t notice the corner coming up….honest! If I were running the Spyker team, I would kick him out and make sure he bounces twice. Felipe had made it to 14th by then and spent some time gazing at Honda’s ‘earth’ livery, stuck behind Button and Barrichello.

After the first round of pitstops, Kimi had a huge lead on Hamilton in second, Nando in third and Hiedfeld in 4th. Renault is reported to have practised their pitstops 90 times before the grand prix to eliminate the occassional wheel nut issue that has the driver accusing them of sabotaging their own championship campaign. Well, they did get it right but Fisi almost nullified the efforts by almost taking out Trulli coming out of pitlane. Hamilton was still ahead of Alonso after the first pitstop leaving Ron Dennis scratching his hair so to speak (whatever he has of it), considering all the lectures he has been giving regarding team orders.

Button compounded an already miserable outing by getting a drive through penalty for pitlane speeding (apparently the pitlane was the only place that the car speeded). Scott Speed retired after grassing it following a puncture, and Robert Kubica retired with gearbox problems. Kovalainen had a spin as Felipe sped past to get into points at eighth position. Raikkonen drove a bit like Schumi in more ways than one – not just speeding away and building up a sizeable lead, but also napping a bit after doing all the hard work. He had a small ‘off’, but after a hearstopping moment, straightened his car and was on his way like it never happened.

Alex Wurz and David Coulthard tried disobeying the basic law of physics and paid the price for trying to be in the same spacial and temporal position – in other words colliding with one another rather spectacularly, sending DC flying a bit bringing back memories of his Superman costume on the Monaco podium. Nando overtook Hamilton after his second pitstop and the order stayed the same till end of the race. Kimi crossed the finish line first, only for the radio to spring back to life and Chris Dyer’s voice to come floating in with the congratulatory messages from the team. Glad our team could get the radio restored in time for the finish. Alonso finished a strong second in his McLaren, with Lewis Hamilton also finishing on the podium in his debut race. Felipe finished in 6th position. A very positive outing for Ferrari overall. Now it’s back to counting days till the Malaysian grand prix…

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