Mike Coughlan


It seems some people no matter how much trouble they are in, just can’t seem to put a sock in it for their own good, and take every available opportunity to spout off hot air faster than Lewis Hamilton’s hairdryer.

im-going-to-tell-you-a-little-story.jpgOne such person being Nigel Stepney (Ferrari’s former storyteller with a part-time hobby for sabotage on the side). Just when the dust was finally settling, Ron Dennis could just about go out in the street again without cabbages being thrown at him, and Jean Todt had stopped chewing his fingernails down to his elbows and ranting and raving like a madman….Nigel pops out of the woodwork once more to stir the proverbial hornets nest with a big stick.

One has to wonder why Nige has decided to speak out now giving us yet another version of his side of events after being quiet for so long, could it possibly be to promote an upcoming work of fiction perchance? I know! Call me cynical, while I’m going to start calling him Jackie Collins.

This time Nige has decided to kindly impart yet more of his “reliable” testimony of what really happened in the Spygate saga. Going back to the beginning…

Firstly we were to understand Nige was on holiday and hadn’t got the first clue what all the fuss was about. Later on we were entertained with stories of a mysterious insider in Maranello who was attempting to frame Nige by sending out confidential top secret documents to his former friends via the postal service.

Before long we were worrying about dead bodies apparently hidden somewhere inside the Ferrari Factory about to jump out at any given second to scare us all witless. Then we were enthralled by tales of high-speed car chases and mysterious strangers hounding Nige out of Europe.

Later still we were informed that actually the postal service must have broken down and Nige delivered the secret 780 page dossier of bedtime reading himself to Mike Coughlan. At this point we were assured via Nigel that Mike “wouldn’t use it so don’t worry”. Look how that one turned out.

We can only suppose the 300 odd text messages informing McLaren of the day to day business of Ferrari between March and June 2007, including what was on the breakfast menu weren’t to be used either.

i-could-swear-i-left-it-here.jpgThe current gospel according to Nige is that he gave the Ferrari dossier to Mike under the misguided illusion it would entice Mr Coughlan away from McLaren. They would then embark on setting up a new group of like-minded technicians (Presumably with Nige playing the role of Robin Hood albeit in red tights not green).

This band of merry light-fingered men would then go to work for a new team, allegedly. How Kimi Raikkonen’s pit strategies come into the equation we haven’t quite figured out yet, unless of course Nige was planning to set up his own pitcrew for the Finn’s benefit… But could they be trusted not to make off with the wheels and Kimi’s prized bottle of Finlandia Vodka when he wasn’t looking?

According to Nige he never intended for any of the information to be disseminated throughout McLaren, and is shocked and appalled by his friend’s apparent lack of moral values and integrity. Which is the Pot calling the Kettle if ever we heard it. Whatever next? Adrian Newey calling Ron Dennis a slaphead? Max Mosley calling Jackie Stewart opinionated? Flavio Briatore calling Bernie Ecclestone an old gasbag?

But don’t feel too bad for Nige, he has told us that he doesn’t feel responsible for what happened at McLaren. Although this does lead us to wonder whom on earth is responsible if he isn’t. Nigel though is not that bothered by the fact he won’t be working in F1 again.

Which is just as well, because we don’t think the Italian Prison Service currently has a Motorsports Division on account they might accidentally provide the inmates with get away vehicles. Although the paint scheme on the Renault is a crime all in itself…but I’m digressing.

mi5.jpgBefore we get a little bit ahead of ourselves and start booking visiting rights and putting crowbars in cakes, we understand that the Englishman has just been appointed as Director or Race Technologies at on-board camera company Gigawave.

Amongst one of their many motorsports activities, Gigawave will be running a team in the FIA GT championship this season.

And should they not do so well, they can always resort to spying on their rivals via the on-board camera footage. Honestly Nige is wasted as an author and motorsports bod, he should be employed at MI5.

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alonsoanddennis.jpgThe last week has been a revelation of sorts, and I am sure you all agree. Those of us who had understimated Fernando Alonso’s talents to be strictly limited to driving a F1 car, throwing hissy fits, disrupting entire teams and of course doing the finger dance were in for a rude awakening. Little did we know of Alonso-the-revolutionary who had planned a grid protest in Monaco 2006 by lying down in front of Michael’s car…pity the stewards intervened. We all know Schumi doesn’t really mind running over the odd F1 character or two with his car (remember Nigel Stepney and his wobbly knee), and we could have tested the Ferrari damper system at least. Oh well, one can’t have everything.

And then there is Alonso-the-mailbox-spammer and his part in the espionage affair. After personally sticking out my neck for him by writing “If Alonso had known the source of the information, he wouldn’t have touched it with a 10 foot pole”, it was interesting to know that not only did dear Nando apparently know the source, he was literally spamming de la Pink with emails on ways to use the same. While it is heartening to read about the amount of team work Monobrow, de la Pink, Mr. Photocopier and Ferrari’s own altruist Stepney are capable of, it was not entirely appropriate as Stepney belonged to a different team really. If only McLaren had realized that the bright red “confidential” watermark on the Ferrari pages they were perusing meant the pages were confidential, they might have saved on a 100 million dollars at least.

Well, still one might find it within oneself to continue supporting the young two time world champion and his team. After all he is an excellent racing driver and McLaren is a capable F1 team…just with an impaired sense of judgement in differentiating between “mine” and “not mine” when it comes to using information for the betterment of the car. A trait quite common amongst inmates of Leavenworth who don’t consider it morally dubious to walk into a bank and help oneself to someone else’s money.

happynandofromold.jpgBut I would like to make a case for poor Fernando Alonso. What could have caused the normally cheerful, friendly character to transform into this non-communicative, sour and threatening presence in McLaren? Agreed he had his moments – hugging trees, lying down before cars, declaring F1 is not a sport etc. which hinted at slight mental imbalance when under pressure – but one could never have envisaged the world champion as one of those shady characters lurking around dark street corners and terrifying innocent pedestrians (Not that he is one right now, but it might be barely a step away). “He does not speak to anyone much” says Ron Dennis, “He is a remarkable recluse for a driver”. And therein lies the key!

I consider all this an elaborate ploy from Nando who was desperate to stop the incessant chatter from his teamboss and to enjoy a few moments of peace without the indecipherable Ron-speak constantly ringing in his ears. Can one really blame him for that? When ear-plugs proved to be of no significant help, he took to acting cold, vexed and irritated in turns, but still to no avail. Not one to give up easily, Nando tried denouncing the team to the media, and even tried deliberately obstructing Ron’s golden boy Hamilton during Hungary qualifying. But it appeared nothing could stop Ron from launching into elaborate speeches at the drop of a hat, not even the glassy-eyed look accompanied with the dropping jaw shortly followed by snoring noises. Finally it is rumored he took to threatening Dennis – “Either you stop talking, or I start talking to the media about Stepney and Coughlan”, scarcely imagining Dennis would be silly enough to call his bluff and ping Max Mosley. Anyway the damage is done, the letters were sent and McLaren is out of running for WCC, but at least it has effectively ceased all conversation – which also explains why Alonso has been having the upper hand over Hamilton since Hungary. His reputation might be mud, but in his opinion it is a small price to pay for peace and golden silence – which is why I think he is to be pitied more than censured. With this rather sad surmise, I rest my case. Forza.

Suffice to say here at FFN even with our over-enthusiastic imaginations and propensity for making up a load of old twaddle on a rather regular basis, we have come to the startling realisation this week that we have been totally outclassed and could be out of a job.

Back in June when it first came to light that a certain former Ferrari Mechanic had escaped from his broom cupboard back at Maranello, and disappeared off on his jollies with a sample of mysterious white powder down his red breeches and some top secret 780 page light bedtime reading under his arm, little did we realise that a saga to top anything Hollywood could come up with was about to unfurl before our very eyes.

wmsc-meeting.jpgSince the World Motorsports Council Meeting (WMSC) on Thursday, skeletons have been popping out of wardrobes at a somewhat alarming rate. The only person who hasn’t had a scallywag jumping unexpectedly out of his bedroom furniture it would appear is Ferrari CEO Jean Todt, and only then we assume on account that there is no room amongst his 67 identical red sweaters coupled with the fact his wardrobe is only 3 foot high anyway which is a bit cramped for the average set of bones.

On Thursday shortly after the WMSC delivered the verdict on the spy scandal that has somewhat monopolised F1 of late (not to mention nearly warn my keyboard out), details began to emerge about the reasons behind the decision by the WMSC to impose what some thought was a draconian punishment of magnificent proportions on the McLaren team. After all, if reports from the McLaren camp were to be believed they hadn’t done anything wrong, and nobody had seen anything…. So it was all a bit unfair wasn’t it?

delapinkandnando.jpgWe soon learnt that McLaren had very narrowly missed out on getting a 2 year ban from the sport (and only then being saved by pint sized megalomaniac Bernie Ecclestone) due to new evidence that had come to light. According to the FIA report that was shortly to follow, various McLaren drivers namely Pedro the Pink and Fandango Eyebrows-agogo had during the course of a few months been gossiping like a bunch of wishwives on the McLaren computer system concerning secret information that was being passed over by McLaren’s resident photocopying expert Mike Coughlan. The only thing missing from this cosy set up we are to understand being a set of knitting needles, a ball of wool and blue rinses all round. McLaren’s other driver Lewis Hamilton only missing out on account he wasn’t old enough to join in.

Without boring you too much with all the nitty-gritty details (and I’ll gladly admit the fact my eyes glazed over, I slipped out my chair and started dribbling like an idiot after the first page) Mike Coughlan and Nigel Stepney had not only exchanged some light bedtime reading, but something in the region of 288 sms messages, 35 phone calls and unlimited number of clandestine love trysts between March and July, systematically passing over details of just about everything you can think of to do with Ferrari, strategies, weight ratios, tyre pressures, Ferrari President Luca Di’s real age, and what was on the menu at Il Cavallino. All top secret stuff.

This was then digested and discussed between McLaren’s Spanish contingent via email and texts, with the intention of testing some of it out, purely out of curiosity of course. Fandango apparently asking Pink to clarify that the source was genuine and in his reply Peter Pink replied something like:

Dearest Temperamental Tantrum Throwing One,

Yes it is genuine. It’s that bloke with the poor kneecap and dodgy beard who used to prance around the pitlane at Ferrari before Michael Schumacky tried running him over. Yes, yes the one with white powder down his long johns. Well he is friends with Xerox Mike and Mike said he can even tell us what lap that vodka swilling Finnish bloke will pit (I mean retire due to a car failure) on.

Yours Forever with kisses on top, Pedro (pouting coz I didn’t get the race drive) Pink

Anyway before you all slip into a coma, I had better stop whittering on and get to the point (assuming there is one). Ah yes, the FIA like Ferrari didn’t take too kindly to all this emailing secrets willy-nilly. Presumably because racing drivers should be outside risking life and limb, doing what they are paid for and not embroiling themselves in espionage and dodgy goings on and getting F1 into the media in America finally which Bernie never quite managed despite his best efforts.

After much deliberation, it was decided that really McLaren had been rather naughty, and it wasn’t going to wash just because Ron had apparently not known all of this was going on under his nostrils. Perhaps Ron had been too busy polishing his slaphead and acting like a pompous twit all these years instead of paying attention to what his employees were up to.

mad-max.jpgFIA president Mad Max was all for despatching the McLaren team out of Formula 1 for 2007 and 2008 for cheating, but tempered by Bernie and some of the other members of the WMSC eventually relented and allowed them to stay in the sport albeit minus $100 million of their pocket money and without any constructors championship points. Boo hoo.

Max later confirmed he also had considered stripping the McLaren drivers of their points as well, but since he had offered them amnesty for snitching he couldn’t really go back on his word.

As the week wore on, more bizarre stories began escaping out of the woodwork. There were suggestions that Fernando Alonso had held his team to ransom over the information he held, demanding to be given preferential treatment after the Nurburgring Debacle. However Nando probably didn’t reckon on McLaren CEO Ron Dennis deciding to dob his own team into the FIA and his plan to gain number one status fell about as flat as a cowpat.

Here at FFN we are a little baffled then why McLaren seemed so shocked and surprised to be found guilty and on the receiving end of a supposedly draconian punishment, when they had provided the evidence to hang, draw and quarter themselves. Doh!

Suffice to say McLaren and Ron’s reputations now lay in tatters, even the once partisan British Media laying into them for cheating and even suggesting their golden boy really shouldn’t be allowed to race for the drivers championship, as it is now considered tainted.

lucadi.jpgFerrari have no such qualms about their provisional World Championship Constructors pot being tainted thank you very much, Luca Di announcing that he really didn’t mind if they had to win it in the courtroom as long as he had something to pop into his trophy cabinet. Presumably now the trophy hogging German who had filled up Maranello with pots left, right and centre has retired, Luca Di is feeling somewhat aggrieved at the odd few young Kimi and Felipe have managed to muster together this season.

Ron has apparently suggested over the weekend that he doesn’t know if McLaren will appeal the ruling that has branded them cheats and left them worse off than pantomime baddies, because he wants to achieve closure. Looking visibly strained the McLaren CEO commented that he wants to do what is in the best interests of F1 and if that means not appealing so be it.

Call us old cynics, but we thought that McLaren might not want to appeal on account they would have to endure another lengthy day of bickering with the pint sized Yoda from Ferrari over the table in Paris, only to come out with an even bigger punishment and a boot shoving them out the door of F1 for a lengthy period. But what would we know.

billy-no-mates.jpgMeanwhile, with all this going on, the man whose evidence sealed McLaren’s fate …yes Mr. Fandango Popular….doesn’t seem to be overly concerned that the brown stuff has the hit fan because he has been acting like a petulant 6 year old child. Nando refused all race weekend in Spa to comment on his role in the sorry saga, and said he would only speak to journalists about normal racing things like tyres, strategies…and presumably Ferrari’s weight distribution if they asked nicely.

Additionally he doesn’t seem to be at all concerned that he may lose the support of his team over the affair, claiming that he is staying where he is and happy while he still has a winning car. That’s until the wheels start falling off one by one and bananas are found sticking mysteriously out the exhaust pipe. Perhaps amongst all his other talents of tantrum throwing, blackmail, media manipulation and mind games, Nando is also a secret dab hand at engineering and will be setting up his own car in future to ensure those dastardly British people don’t sabotage his championship hopes.

With more evidence due to be released by the FIA later on in the week, we can only assume more bizarre twists and turns will seep out the woodwork and the F1 soap opera will continue apace. If any more ‘smoking guns’ are found, we are thinking Nando might want to invest in a bullet proof vest for under his race suit. Stay tuned, that’s unless you’re called Nige in which case you probably know how this one will end.

thewmsc.jpgNo doubt if you are an avid F1 fan, by now you have heard the news, that McLaren were yesterday dealt a pretty severe slap on the back of the hand at the World Motorsports Council Extraordinary Meeting in Paris.

The meeting itself seemed to go on just about forever, having started at 9.30 am local time in Paris, by 5pm in Europe most of the F1 fans were just about ready to pull their hair out in desperation to find out what if anything was going on. Most reliable F1 dedicated websites were up and down like yo-yo’s buckling under the strain of fans trying to find out what the verdict would be and what it would mean for their respective team and the sport in general.

Even the FIA official website struggled to cope with the demand, especially considering the most internet traffic it has been used to coping with on an annual bias has been 5 hits, and all of those by FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting checking out what regulation the Ferrari F1 team have supposed to have breached this time according to their bitterest rivals McLaren.

ross-in-paris.jpgThe tifosi were delighted to see old favourite Uncle Ross Banana-Man Brawn in attendance at the hearing on behalf of Ferrari, as being the big chap he is, if he threatened to sit on Bernie Ecclestone to solicit a result it was always going to be a bit more productive than having Jean Todt biting at your ankles like a rabid chihuahua.

McLaren also wheeled out their top players for the occasion, even taking along their rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton for moral support. Fandango Alone-so was not in attendance, a move that raised many eyebrows (apart from Nando’s two facial slugs) and prompted much speculation. Was Nando staying away because he had provided the evidence to sink McLaren’s title hopes or was it that he and Lewis just can’t be trusted in the same room anymore without dummies flying? Whatever the reason Nando was back at Spa keeping schtum on his role if any in the spy scandal.

After what seemed like a century of waiting and the tifosi driving themselves round the bend with nerves, an initial report leaked out that McLaren had been banned from both the 2007 and 2008 seasons. But just as soon as the report popped out, it disappeared again leaving us the waiting public with shredded nerves and more questions than answers.

Eventually (presumably after the WMSC had run out of bananas to keep Ross happy) and after much deliberation and apparently heated exchanges (that’s jumping up and down, banging your fists on tables and screaming like a girl by all accounts) the WMSC delivered their verdict. McLaren have been stripped of all constructors title points for 2007, fined a whopping $100 million and must submit their 2008 car to scrutineering to ensure there are no ‘made in Maranello’ stickers on it.

Ferrari issued a statement suggesting they were satisfied with the result, and that the truth had come out. Obviously us fans are still waiting to know what that truth is, apart from the fact that Ron is a smug slaphead with a penchant for story telling, and the FIA don’t half come out with baffling decisions.

give-us-another-bedtime-story-ron.jpgFirstly in this sorry saga, Honest Ron attempted to convinced us that the first his team knew about the Coughlan-Stepney Cock-up collaboration was on the 2nd July when officials raided the suspended McLaren muppet’s home and found the secret Ferrari Dossier. Then the story got changed when it was found that actually McLaren had known about it and half-heartedly attempted months before to stop Stepney leaking like a sieve by installing a firewall at Woking to stop him bombarding Mike with fan-mail. But they hadn’t seen or used the information, honestly.

Then we found out actually McLaren had used information supplied by Stepney to grass up their rivals to the FIA after the Australian Grand Prix for having a flexi-floor, but it wasn’t using the information it was called whistle-blowing and should be admired and encouraged. But honestly only Mike Coughlan had seen the dossier, no honestly he had.

Now according to rumours it turns out that some of the information fell into the hands of the McLaren drivers who happily discussed it all by email, but no-one apart from Mike Coughlan had seen the information, no honestly and even then he had only perused it for ten minutes while having a brew in his potting shed. A bit of a picture is developing here we feel.

It’s little wonder the FIA came to the decision they did, given that Ron and his cronies have changed their stories more times than Michael Schumacher changes his flowery shirts and cowboy hats, and that’s saying something.

honest-ron.jpgIn a press conference late last night after the WMSC verdict had been delivered, Honest Ron declaring that the McLaren team have done nothing wrong. They didn’t use the information honest guv’ (for the thousandth time) and they are shocked and appalled that they have been cast as the villains of the piece, and declared they will still fight for both championships (despite the fact they have just been turfed out of one). We can only wish them luck with that, but with zero points now on the constructors table McLaren will presumably be fighting it out with Spyker and Scuderia Torro Rosso for last place. So much for exonoration then Ron.

One thing that has baffled everyone is why the FIA have decided not to punish the McLaren drivers and strip them of their points as well. By declaring McLaren guilty of breaching the sporting code of conduct surely as part of the team the drivers have surely benefited from this ungentlemanlike conduct. However, just days before the WMSC the FIA apparently wrote to the McLaren Drivers offering them an amnesty if they come forward and provide the noose to hang their bosses with or something similar. Although why they had to go all this trouble I can’t quite see, I’d have done it for free if they provided the rope.

Here at FFN we can’t help wondering if their isn’t something a little more political behind the decision to allow the McLaren drivers to continue fighting it out for the championship.

mclaren-duo-with-cardboard-kimi.jpgApart from the obvious fact that Kimi Raikkonen standing like a cardboard cut out and with about as much facial expression as a wet dish cloth on the winners podium, does not make for dramatic and exciting television.

It would seem that the powers that be want the show to go on. For Nando to throw his weekly tantrums, for ITV to keep smarming around Lewis Hamilton like a bad case of nappy rash, and for Ferrari’s Felipe Massa’s car to keep suffering reliability problems, so he can be witnessed flouncing into the garage in a huff.

If F1 is going to be turned into a soap opera rather than a sport, could we at least have Nando in a big flowery dress, humungous sombrero and a few punch ups for good measure please? and bring back that hilarious beard!

We can only hope more information will come out in the coming weeks so we can understand what the deuces is going on, and that Ferrari can give McLaren a good stuffing at Spa because I desperately want to see Honest Ron bawl his eyes out again!

delapinkandnando.jpgThis is most disconcerting to say the least. No, not the fact that FIA has taken to sending out lengthy missives once again pertaining to the Stepney saga (though that’s vaguely disturbing as well) – apparently the McLaren lawyers have advised the team and drivers to stay mum on the topic which means we don’t have to dread a 10 page reply of impossible-to-decipher Ron-Speak in the near future. No, what’s indeed disconcerting is the content of the supposed leak of de la Pink’s correspondence with Fernando Alonso in the Italian press. If our Italian journo pals are to be believed, the excerpt reads (Source: F1-live) –

“Do you know that I’ve found out how Ferrari is able to get its tires to work to perfection?” de la Rosa was quoted as writing to Alonso earlier this year.
He added: “Nigel Stepney told Mike Coughlan.”
“I don’t believe it,” Alonso reportedly replied.

Alonso shouldn’t have any problems believing it now for sure – now that we all know the tendency of Nige and Coughlan to talk about things they clearly shouldn’t be talking about. Whether this was part of the stolen Ferrari dossiers, or if this was just something Coughlan picked up when Nige was in one of his expansive moods, we are not too sure. But what’s kind of catchy in the above cordial exchange is of course the fact that de la Rosa rumoredly knew too – top Ferrari secrets were being bandied about like it was news off a local tabloid column. It appears Mr. Coughlan has not exactly been the model citizen for discretion and secrecy like McLaren would like us to believe, someone ought to have warned Mr. Photocopier that he was a chief designer and not a broadcast medium. What was he planning to do next – print pamphlets and distribute them within the team? We demand to know if there’s anyone in McLaren who doesn’t know how Ferrari is able to get its tires to work to perfection, amongst other such similar gems as to how Ferrari do the things they do. Now if that isn’t proof of usage, I don’t know what is. Provided it is true of course, we have to admit that our Italian pals can get a bit excitable and carried away at times.

And then there’s Lewis Hamilton. Who thinks it is rather unfair that Ferrari would want to pursue the espionage saga any further despite knowing that it is clearly giving Ron Dennis a bad migraine. Never mind that if left unpursued, it could possibly give McLaren an unfair competitive advantage and cause Ferrari millions of dollars in damage. “I do not like what Ferrari are putting our team through” says Lewis, “I know my team, and we are being been unfairly treated. It would be a great feeling to win in Italy this weekend. Beating Ferrari on their home ground is going to be a huge blow to their team”. Well, not half as huge a blow as getting banned in the WMSC meeting next week we are sure. While it is nice Lewis is willing to stand up for his team even at the cost of sounding exceedingly silly, Monza might not be the right place for it. Indeed, Pitpass reports that Hamilton finished the P2 session by doing a slow lap waving to the Monza crowd…and probably wondering how wierd it was that Italians apparently wave back with their middle finger. Forza.

I have come to a rather startling conclusion after a brief period of serious research work – not feeling too well for a rather prolonged period makes you realize there are other things in life apart from F1 and racing…nobody could have possibly predicted that the thought of enjoying a simple McDonald burger without feeling sick would one day bring more pleasure than a Ferrari 1-2 (There! I’ve said it and have not yet dropped dead, so it mustn’t be that much of a sacrilege after all). Now anybody who refers to Montoya as burger-boy will do so at their own peril – I have the fullest sympathy for the man and don’t see why he shouldn’t stuff his face with burgers when he still has the chance. That said, this is a F1 blog and not a hospital bulletin board, so thanks to all of you for continuing to visit the blog despite our irregularity of late. I would love to promise that we shall keep up with the one-post-a-day nuisance ceaselessly into the future, but one mustn’t get too emotional and carried away. Which incidentally is the problem with Fernando Alonso.

scaryvettel.jpgWith rather ominous rumors in the paddock yesterday of “new evidence” and some level of driver involvement in the whole ugly espionage saga, one could have been forgiven for thinking this had something to do with Sebastian Vettel in some way. At least it would have been one explanation as to why the normally cheerful chap looks like he has been unwillingly hobnobbing with a few ghosts this weekend. But it was not to be. There have been new whispers in the paddock of some email communication between Pedro de la Rosa (affectionately referred to as de la Pink by babelfish) and Fernando Alonso talking about car setup, and it gives us some inkling as to why poor Nando has been behaving like a cat on hot bricks past few weeks talking about sabbaticals, retirements and what not. It is rumored that the details might have come straight off the 780 pages of “F2007 for dummies” that Stepney so magnanimously shared with Coughlan (rumoredly), but I certainly don’t believe Nando would have touched the information with a 10 foot pole had he known the source.

You know how it is sometimes – Red Bull parties, too much to drink, and suddenly someone talks more about car setups than one ought to, and everyone has a chuckle later on when using the information given away during moments of indiscretion. (And before you start looking suspiciously at Kimi Raikkonen, he probably couldn’t talk about car setups even when sober as a judge). One is probably not thinking of espionage, stolen dossiers, foreign embassies and heavily scented veiled women pinching stuff from the drawers in candle-light when reading emails containing bits of sensitive information – just having a laugh wondering who was the person with the loose tongue. Oh well, what I am trying to say is that we don’t know how true these rumors are, and even if true – it doesn’t necessarily incriminate the McLaren drivers even if it does definitely incriminate McLaren. There are even rumors that Max Mosley himself threatened the McLaren drivers with suspension of their super-lisences if they didn’t co-operate with the FIA, but this I find very hard to believe. For one, where would F1 be if we went about suspending the super-licenses of the only chaps who know how to drive a racing car and do it exceedingly well at that? I am sure the very thought would make Bernie foam at the mouth. And it is an extremely disconcerting one for any F1 fan – be it Ferrari fan or otherwise.

As it is, the poor stewards must be feeling rather over-worked and under-paid considering they seem to be conducting some investigation or other every weekend regarding breach of some darned regulation by McLaren. And considering the stewards had already docked all constructor points from McLaren for the Hungarian GP, the latest gearbox issue would have had them scratching their heads as to what else they could possibly do with the team. Life is never easy when you have to spend every weekend willingly listening to Ron Dennis attempting to explain something to you. All in all, it must feel like retribution for Ron for waxing on for too long about integrity and pretending to be the only scrupulous chap in the paddock – a lesson on how sometimes circumstances can be against you even if you have personally done nothing wrong.

I never thought I would be saying this – but good luck to McLaren and Nando for getting out of this spot. I have never liked the former, am rather fond of the latter for his sheer driving skills despite the regular supply of rather fatheaded remarks – but even I wouldn’t want McLaren banned from the sport. That said, here’s hoping for a Ferrari 1-2 at Monza. Which I hope to enjoy munching on a burger 😉 Forza.

PS: Michael Schumacher’s won yet another award, a nasty habit he cannot rid himself of even after retirement. This is Spain’s prestigious Prince of Asturias Sports Prize. While the 50,000 Euros prize money might come in handy to fund his next vacation (no doubt the Nepali elephant safari), it is rumored he is a bit distraught about the lack of cabinet space in his brand new trophy room. As long as it is not a 200 kg giant trophy like what Ferrari presented him with….no, just kidding. Congratulations to the seven time world champion for this latest and most well-deserved recognition.

You may have been wondering this week why the deuces we have gone so quiet here at FFN. Before you start phoning around all the local mental hospitals to see if we have finally been carted off, I can assure you all is well and yes, we are still barking mad and at large.

monza.jpgIn fact, one of us having managed to escape a fate worse than death (I’m referring to the near miss with a Brazilian rainforest tree counting expedition) has sauntered off here to sunny Monza for the week. (That’s in Italy just in case your geography is as bad as mine is).

No sooner have I stepped away from the trusty old keyboard back home then it seems certain former Ferrari Mechanics have been up to no good yet again, and are forcing me back in-doors and on to the tint-er-web for a rant or three.

After things going remarkably quiet of late in the Ferrari-McLaren Espionage storm-in-a-teacup, it seems our Nige has managed to get himself back into the headlines yet again.

This time rumours emanating from the paddock at Monza, suggest that the former glorified Ferrari Mechanic was not only busy all winter emailing his old pal Mike ‘Xerox’ Coughlan with secret Ferrari plans. If rumours are true our Nige was also joining up to friends and networking site ‘Facebook’ (a bit similar to MySpace) and getting pally with McLaren driver Fernando Alonso and test driver Pedro De La Rosa too.

flav-me-no-likes-mclaren.jpgAccording to German Media Publication Auto Motor und Sport, the two McLaren stars were also on the receiving end of top secret emails detailing Ferrari set-up plans. Suspicion only being aroused when Nando had a spat in Italian with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa on route to the podium in where ever it was (senior moment on my part), and accidentally slipped in one of Nige’s favourite phrases ‘spiffing’ by mistake.

Nando apparently was unavailable for comment this afternoon on account he was off somewhere throwing yet another hissy-fit.

We can’t help but feel there has been some terrible mix up at Ferrari and someone should have explained to our Nige that when he was given the job of being in charge of ‘Team Performance Development’ naturally the Maranello Squad meant Ferrari’s and not Motorsport as a whole.

Meanwhile it seems the FIA have cancelled next weeks Court of Appeal hearing where Ferrari were looking to put forward their case against the ruling made at the last monthly old farts meeting.

fiatruck.jpgInstead the FIA are convening a second WMSC (World Motorsports Council) meeting and McLaren have been invited to attend in light of new evidence in the spying/letter-writing scandal that has rocked F1 this year. We can only hope the general public are spared the details this time as even the lengthy literary tome Lord of the Rings (and all those elven songs) are easier to follow than Ron’s rantings.

Scurrulous rumours currently circulating out here in the ethos are suggesting Renault Team Boss Flavio Briatore has played a big part in forcing the issue, not because his team’s lawyers have apparently been working very closely with Ferrari to firmly nail McLaren in their coffin….but because he has apparently been bombarding the FIA’s Fax Machine with images of himself in Speedo’s until they pull their finger out. And let’s face it – that image is enough to put anyone off their breakfast for life.

flavio.jpgAnd just when things looked like they couldn’t get any worse for the Woking outfit, it appears McLaren are under investigation (AGAIN) this time by the race stewards at Monza who are citing that McLaren are illegally using a new lightweight gearbox or some such rubbish. We presume they are talking about a car part and not the infernal device that seems to deliver never ending power to Ron’s trap and keeps spewing on and on about integrity and honesty.

It remains to be seen if the handbags can go away for twenty seconds, and if we might actually get a bit of on track action for a change this weekend. 4 days to go until the Italian GP.

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