McLaren


It must be quite obvious that we, here at FFN, are rather fond of Kimi Raikkonen in that detached, indulgent manner like you are sometimes fond of a crazy cousin. Having authored several best sellers such as “The Art of Replying in Monosyllables” and “Ron Dennis: A Survival Guide”, not to mention “When and Where to Dress in a Gorilla Costume”, Kimi also drove a F1 car in his spare time, and was even a Ferrari driver briefly. However, after a career move to rallying, we are surprised by how vocal Raikkonen suddenly is, never losing an opportunity to remind everyone how boring F1 is, and how foolish millions of people are to be even following this silly sport (or non-sport as Alonso would put it). Now when he says “WRC is more open than F1, there’s a warmer feeling”, we can’t help but feel not all is well with Iceman. I mean, Kimi-Bot talking about openness, friendship and warmness is like Flavio Briatore talking about team orders…just doesn’t gel. By the way, what did you think of the new Lotus? This is what we thought…

The next test session in Jerez is promising to be a cheery affair, what with severe rain forecasts and  flood warnings. It will be interesting to watch all the F1 teams huddled up in their respective motorhomes watching the cars floating in the garages outside.  With the testing regulations and all that, we can’t help but feel half the grid is going to get the first decent run only during the Bahrain GP, adding a whole new dimension of variability to the proceedings (Can the Virgin front wing last 10 laps? Is USF1 really going to be there on the grid? Did Campos get the brake and accelerator pedals interchanged?)  So when Kimi says boring and unpredictable, he clearly doesn’t have a clue.

There was an interesting news piece on Pitpass yesterday on majority of the Mercedes former management resigning, and to be replaced by Mohamed Badawy Al Huseinny (and if that’s only one man, then a few others from Aabar Investing Fund as well). But today, a Mercedes spokesman has dismissed the reports – “”I can confirm that Nick Fry remains at the team in the position of chief executive officer”. The spokesman adds that there is no big change forthcoming, except they have fired the cook in the Mercedes motohome. “There was a lot of negative PR because Michael was always dashing off to the Ferrari motorhome for lunch” clarifies the spokesman, “Now we have a Italian chef who can make spaghetti aglio e olio pasta with garlic and olive oil  as well as the next person”. Michael was not available for comment.

Advertisements

The British media have been busy the past week wondering what could possibly be the reason for Ferrari topping the charts at Valencia last week. Never mind that Ferrari has won 8 out of the last 11 world constructor championships, one would have thought Force India topped the charts judging by the reaction. One interesting theory presented was that Ferrari omitted to add 30 kgs of ballast to the car, an honest mistake any team can make, and after all the self-congratulatory pats on the back for having exceeded expectations, were chagrined to find the missing ballasts hidden behind the extra tyres. We can see that going down well with Luca di Montezemolo. Or wait, maybe it was a deliberate ‘mistake’, much like our beloved Schumster parking in Rascasse. Maybe Ferrari thought it was a wonderful idea to corner all the pre-season hype only to fail spectacularly in the first race. Well, clearly we are not the only ones in the fake news business, that’s for sure.

We hear Red Bull’s got a bit of a problem. Adrian Newey, in his quest for aerodynamic perfection has designed such a unique raised nose that it’s pretty much all the driver can see from the cockpit. Maybe they should have just stuck to the previous year’s design, much like Force India. Force India has cleverly restricted all their innovations to the steering wheel. We have already highlighted their desire to just have a car that runs, which is actually a clever strategy. This way, they will surely finish ahead of at least five other teams that seem destined to merely form immovable hurdles at the race start. And there is further action in store presented by teams such as Virgin, where you never know when the car is going to disintegrate all over the track, as it did in Jerez today, with drivers no doubt having to drive warily around to avoid the odd piece of debris. Thankfully DC has retired, I doubt our hearts could have withstood that added excitement, given his well documented stopping-in-the-rain routines and attempted decapitations.  

Ferrari is looking increasingly consistent and reliable at the Jerez tests, all positive signs leading up to the season. Bring on Bahrain! Forza! I will leave you with a bit of Ron-Speak, just so we can be grateful we are not subjected to this on a regular basis anymore. “You have one driver preceding the other and feeling that he had to catch up. You have all these very, very different chemistries, and it’s just not the case with two drivers who have got like-minded approaches, an Anglophile approach”. And this was all in reply to some unsuspecting journo asking Ron about the Hamilton-Button pairing in McLaren.

Williams have declared that they are going in for a ‘clean-sheet design’, which is the best way to go really when you have produced a string of turkeys year after year with unfailing consistency. In fact, I think it’s for the best if they burn all the previous design documents, just in case they are tempted to take a quick peek as to where they attached the steering wheel last time around. Sam Michael also seems to have a lot of (misplaced?) optimism in the driver lineup. “We have managed to sign the German managed by Willi Weber” he told us proudly in an exclusive to FFN, and we didn’t have the heart to put a damper on his enthusiasm by pointing out they’ve already tried this before with Ralf Schumacher. As for Rubens Barrichello…well, given his tendency to sue bloggers who feel rather differently about his capabilities on track, we shall refrain from comment. It would suffice to say we don’t share Sam Michael’s sunny optimism.

We hear Nick Heidfeld is cursing Michael Schumacher a goodish deal in his spare time (of which he has plenty these days), and you can’t help but feel a little sympathetic. When Mercedes (Brawn) announced they were settling for an all German lineup for 2010, Nick was confident it was a done deal. Naturally he is not very pleased with the new developments, and if there’s one person who is not waxing on eloquently about how Michael’s return is good for F1, it is Nick. Good for F1 maybe, but a disaster for him personally, as he has now been announced as Mercedes reserve driver when all a reserve driver does these days is pretty much sit in the garage and twiddle his thumbs. It’s all down to the grooming we think, after all, with Nico Rosberg looking like a pretty Hollywood actress, who will go in for the Chewbacca look alike? Moral of the story – A shave in time saves a F1 career. Or something like that.

Meanwhile Heikki Kovalainen is busy hitting back at critics who are discussing odds of Heikki being the next Finn to go rallying. It is said Kimi will consider switching back to F1 mid-season, and maybe they can just trade places. While an elegant solution no doubt, Heikki is convinced he has a long and prosperous F1 career ahead. “If Rubens can be in F1, why can’t I?” reasons Heikki, “After all, I have beaten Michael Schumacher in RoC. And the only thing Rubens has ever beaten Michael in is in Backgammon…plus I am a hundred years younger”.   Very logical, you have to admit. Heikki also suggests that his reputation as a poor racer is not ‘a true reflection of his many talents’ (of which perhaps racing is not one?). “I didn’t get the best out of the McLaren” he admits (in a gross understatement), “I don’t think there are any areas I particularly need to improve”. That’s twisting the truth a bit, one particular area where we feel there’s definite room for improvement is driving a F1 car at reasonable speed. “Some people think I’m a good qualifier and not such a good racer (like some kind of reverse Jenson Button?)” he adds helpfully, “But that is only in McLaren. If you look at my time at Renault in 2007, the race performances were actually very strong (but the qualifying not so much)”. The key to this whole racing thing, Heikki, is to do both the qualifying and racing part well in the same year.

Not much news on the Ferrari front, except the new 2010 livery looks like they couldn’t decide till the last minute if they wanted a red car or a white car, with the end result the car now looks like a red-and-white zebra. Still no comparison to the Renault rainbow of 2007 or the Honda Earth Car. And as long as the car can race like a Ferrari always races, we should have a good season ahead. Forza.

No doubt there are sinister machinations afoot at Mercedes headquarters. I am sure Nico Rosberg has been having sleepless nights ever since he heard he was going to be the ‘other’ driver in a team that has Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher…not that Ross will be doing any driving…his role will be strictly restricted to eating bananas and looking intelligent on the pitwall. Rosberg confessed recently that he had a really bad nightmare, that the new president of FIA, Jean Todt, was present at every race, instructing Rosberg over the microphone to “let Michael pass, I repeat, LET MICHAEL PASS”. Not the ideal situation you have to agree. For all the brave talk Rosberg has been doing about beating Michael and being the king of the world, he has kept a wary eye on the proceedings. So when Michael Schumacher recently declared that he wanted the No 3 car because he is superstitious about even numbers, it is fair to assume Nico’s hackles are up and he is all ready to bite if the need arises.  It’s a pity Michael is not more like Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton, you remember Ron Dennis told us, is apparently beyond human emotions, a spiritual kind of chappie. Michael unfortunately still believes in initimidating his opponents, starting with his teammate first.

Conspiracy theories aside, maybe Michael really is superstitious. Martin Brundle once said that Michael went out looking for four leaf clovers before every important race (it’s a bit odd it’s not a three leaf clover considering…). No doubt he didn’t find one before Jerez 97 and got all into a nervous twitter…and we all know what happened next. Or Suzuka 1998 for the matter. Who would have thought what is often mistaken for Michael cracking under pressure and making a hash of things is actually Michael’s inability to find four leaf clovers? Felipe Massa recently confessed that he has been following Michael’s advise since 2007. “Michael has made me the driver I am” he declared proudly the other day, “It was Michael who told me to wear the same underpants through the race weekend if Friday turns out well. It works like magic”. Michael was clever enough to  hand out this advise just before his departure in 2006, but no wonder poor Kimi Raikkonen has given up on F1 and taken up rallying instead. And unsuspecting Fernando Alonso knows nothing about the grave assault in store for his olfactory senses every other Sunday. Talking of other driver superstitions, Alex Wurz likes to wear different colored shoes on race weekends, not that it helps his performance any. Mark Webber likes to get dressed in the same order – underpants, socks, pants, shoes – which I suppose works the same way for everyone unless you are Clark Kent.

It remains to be seen whether the FIA and Mercedes management would agree to Schumacher’s request, innocent or otherwise. But considering Todt is president of FIA, and Ross Brawn is team boss, I am thinking the answer is probably a resounding yes. Give it some thought though – all the exciting things that Michael’s ever done, from winning championships to parking in Rascasse, have all been in odd number cars…can you really blame the man? There, I didn’t think so either.

Unless you have been desperately trying to avoid the glare of the global media by living under a rock for the past week (no names mentioned of course Pinocchio), you will no doubt be aware that the FIA have decided in their infinite wisdom to adopt some rather dramatic and draconian rules for the beginning of the 2010 F1 season.

do-as-your-jolly-well-toldWell we say the FIA, in reality lets be clear and say Max Mosley, since it would seem whatever he fancies these days goes with very little opposition from his minions, and who can blame them? We wouldn’t much fancy a good thrashing with a cat o’ nine tails either.

The FIA president has dropped somewhat of a proverbial bombshell on the F1 fraternity, by the introduction of a voluntary £40 million budget cap. Before you get all excited and start clambering to get your hands on expensive copies of Kimi Raikkonen’s trendsetting red head gear perhaps we should actually explain.

In an ‘alleged’ effort to secure the future of the sport in times of economic doom and gloom, the proposed £40 million budget cap per team is intended to make it cheaper for Formula 1 team to operate in the sport at competitive prices. It is also intended to allegedly reward those who can be innovative with a reel of sticky tape, two egg cartons, an empty washing detergent bottle and unlimited ice lolly sticks, and be slightly less rewarding of those with a fancy designer italian leather chequebook and endless euros at their disposal.

Unfortunately the proposed voluntary budget cap, comes with some rather ‘interesting’ smallprint and conditions attached. Those teams who can compete within the £40 million can pretty much get away with anything they want, including having movable front and rear wings, unlimited engine revs, extra KERS (although that does beg the question who would actually want it) and as much testing as they can cram into the season. While those who struggle to downgrade the cost of their F1 operations, are basically going to be allowed to race the untested reconditioned lawnmower from their garden sheds.

Sufficed to say, these new rules caused somewhat of a stir in the undergarments of several F1 bosses up and down the pitlane, as effectively the rules would be introducing a two-tiered system, with one set of rules for the low budget new boys, and another for the more longstanding big budget boys.

ronaldoblindfoldWe simply can’t imagine this happening in any other sporting arena, where there are only one set of rules and regulations. Can you imagine Manchester United playing Altrincham FC for example? Except in this case Manchester United would only be allowed to field 11 men hopping about on one foot, blindfolded and twirled around three times in comparison to their able bodied counterparts.

While it might be amusing to watch Man U get a good thrashing start with, having two sets of rules is farcical….particularly when the FIA who govern the sport usually struggle to get to grips with one set….let alone two.

What next? Giving detailed instructions to the race stewards about which coloured cars are allowed to overtake and which are not?

Anyway before this turns into a feature length rant, you get the idea…..its simply ridiculous to govern a sport by two distinct and separate set of rules. It doesn’t take a degree in the Krypton Factor to work that one out….which is just as well as we don’t have one…

poor-lucaIt comes as hardly any surprise though, that these proposed regulations were met with much gesticulation, arm-waving and Mamma Mia’s in the vicinity of Maranello. Ferrari and FOTA President Luca Di Montezemolo reportedly firing off strongly worded complaints to the White Star Line (oops I mean FIA) which were met with the usual dose of Max Mosley’s contempt and derision.

In retaliation to this alleged fan mail, Max has insisted that F1 can survive without Ferrari if they don’t like it, thank you very much. Naturally this has led to speculation that Max has now got somewhat bored of picking on McLaren now that former Team Principal Ron Dennis has departed the scene, and has now switched his beady eyes in the direction of the Maranello outfit. Although personally we feel he may actually have trouble getting an argument out of Stefano Domenicali, who seems to be the most perennially cheerful man on the planet.

In response Ferrari have reiterated their commitment to F1, but the tifosi have been left feeling rather irked with the FIA President, who only last year was telling us how historically important Ferrari were to the sport. We do wish he would make up his mind….and actually get on with retiring like he has promised for the last half century.

bernie-ecclestone-and-mental-maxF1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone meanwhile has stepped into the fray, and promised to protect Ferrari and it’s President with all four foot 3 inches of his powerful presence….assuming Max Mosley can actually see him down there of course.

According to the half pint-sized supremo you don’t want to go getting yourself into an argument with Max because he is so clever….which leads us to wonder if in fact there are two FIA Presidents, as some of the decisions emanating from Place de la Concorde of recent times seem frankly laughable even for a village idiot.

As ever though it seems Bernie is pretty adept at knowing where the money is at, and after all what other team has such a fanatically deranged fanbase that would mortgage their grandmothers for the prospect of sitting on a rather uncomfortable concrete block in a hugely overpriced red shirt for 2 hours for an extortionate sum during an economic crisis?

tifosiConsidering the tifosi make up a pretty large proportion of the F1 fan base, we’d like to see them fill the grandstands and extort ridiculous annual fees out of all the race tracks without the presence of the barmy red flag waving brigade.

It remains to be seen if this is yet another ploy by the FIA to herd FOTA where they want them, and if FOTA are willing to go along like good little sheep….or if the sheep might actually bite back.

Meanwhile, the rest of Ferrari have been busily concentrating on developing and testing the F60(B) according to media reports. Last weekend the Maranello squad were testing their new gadgets and gizmo’s at the Vairano test track in Italy. Test driver Marc Gene carried out the 350km straightline test (excluding the times when he had to actually turn around or end up in Calais) to assess the new fangled improvements.
It is rumoured the upgrades to the F60, including a new floor, interim diffusor and various aerodynamic changes (including Luca Di’s latest hair trim) will be bring somewhere in the region of 0.6 seconds to the speed of light to the Maranello charger.

adessoAccording to reports in the Finnish Media, the Italian squad have managed to shave off an astounding 15Kg from the weight of the car to improve the use of the KERS system. Alongside suggestions of lighter body parts (the car’s not the driver’s we hope) it is also rumoured the Maranello boys found all sorts of debris in the footwell of Felipe and Kimi’s chargers.

Allegedly, Kimi’s footwell was full to brimming with copies of the Times Crossword, various inflatable animals and a 1st edition tome on effusive public speaking, while Felipe’s was in danger of becoming a fully established 1980’s aviator sunglasses emporium.

Test Driver Marc Gene has suggested that the upgrade is the biggest he has ever seen at Ferrari, which no doubt has led to some teams Technical Directors hopping from foot to foot in nervous agitation like men in a department store changing room lest their’s should turn out to be less well endowed.

ferrari-factoryNoises emanating from Ferrari HQ suggest the team are quietly pleased with their progress, but the last time they counted their chickens, they ended up with only three points on the scoreboard and a lot of egg on their faces. So we can only hazard a guess that every available appendage is crossed back at the factory in hope they have done enough to take the fight to the likes of Brawn and Co.

McLaren who have recently been let off the hook for their grovelling apologies to the FIA over liegate, have reportedly begun fretting already that their upgrades will not be as big as other teams and are concerned they may be leapfrogged. We’d suggest keeping out the way of Robert Kubica then as he has already had a good go on Jarno Trulli recently.

The F1 teams will be arriving tomorrow in Barcelona for the Spanish GP….so all we can do is wait for the next enthralling installment in the F1 soap opera…..the only difference is here at FFN we are still waiting for a mysterious shooting like in Dallas….

race-start-chinaI know what you are thinking. It’s Tuesday afternoon, 3 days after the Chinese Grand Prix and you were beginning to think we had flung ourselves off a Balcony in a fit of despair after what can only be described as yet another desolate and demoralising weekend for the Ferrari Team.

Do not fear, we can confirm we are alive and well, albeit wearing pairs of underpants on our heads, inserting pencils up our nostrils and taking valium like its going out of fashion. Even the FFN cat is refusing to come out from under the duvet.

Going into the race weekend, Ferrari confirmed they would be racing in China without the KERS system, which to those of you new to the sport, is the Kinetic Energy Recovery System, although given all the reliability problems that Ferrari have had with it of late we do feel it should be more aptly described as Kimi’s Early Retirement System.

Allegedly, the removal of the extremely temperamental device was supposed to improve the reliability of the F60 and the chances of some much needed points, but on the downside would make it harder to overtake during the race. But at least it wouldn’t be spontaneously bursting into flames and fumigating Kimi’s underpants at any given moment.

ferrari_kersKimi as ever was pretty nonchalant about the removal of his retirement system, and was more interested in knowing when the ice hockey was on and if the Ferrari Fridge Freezer was fully stocked, but ickle Felipe was eager to insist the team work to improve the reliability and get the infernal creation reinstalled back in time for Bahrain. Heaven knows why, unless he is hell bent on removing his teammate as a rival before he has even left the garage.

At this point it is worth mentioning, that during the Chinese Grand Prix weekend only 3 cars out of 20 on the grid were using KERS, the rest of the grid including BMW who insisted on the teams developing it in the first place at FOTA, removing the device from their cars.

Renault’s Flamboyant Team Principal took a few seconds break over the weekend from haranguing Ross Brawn, to describe the KERS system as being very useful as a sailboat anchor and not much else.

flavio1Flavio then immediately went back to calling Jenson Button a concrete bollard, Rubens an old fart, and demanding that the FIA refuse to give Ross Brawn his £30 million share in TV revenues for forcing everyone to fork out for the odd new diffusor or two. We can only hope this new cashflow problem for the Renault team will mean Flavio cannot afford any more new eye-watering thongs. Every cloud has a silver lining so they say.

We can’t help feeling that if the FIA hadn’t insisted on KERS in the first place, (which thus far has proved about as much use as a chocolate teapot), then all the teams would be able to have just as many diffusors as they jolly well liked….since they are after all in fitting with the wording and spirit of the current technical regulations. We are enthusiastically waiting for the first team to come up with a triple-decker, and see how the FIA like that, presuming they actually noticed of course.

Anyway I suppose at some point we should actually mention the race, as that is why we are here, isn’t it?

Red Bull emerged as a serious contender over the course of the race weekend, being the only non-double diffusor team taking the challenge to Ross Brawn’s BrawnGP team.

Popular little German Sebastien Vettel led home a resounding 1-2 victory for Red Bull from pole position, his cryogenically frozen teammate Mark ‘Wooden Leg’ Webber not far behind, with current World Championship Leader Jenson ‘Bollard’ Button happy to secure third spot on the podium after yet another extremely difficult race thanks to precipitation.

Yes, following on from the wet weather debacle in Malaysia just a week or so ago, the weather once more intervened in proceedings thank you very much to whoever’s wise idea it is to swap the F1 calendar around to incorporate the rainy season. We won’t mention any names of vertically challenged F1 supremo’s at this point, lest he decides to sue us. Let’s hope he doesn’t come up with any more bright ideas for the future of the sport, like putting a race in tornado alley or up the side of a volcano for example.

safety-car-chinaDue to the track conditions the race began under the safety car, which while we applaud the FIA taking seriously the safety of the drivers concerned, they actually cancelled out about the only exciting bit of the race, and we were therefore deprived of Rubens Barrichello tanking his way past anyone who happened to be on the same bit of track he wanted.

Considering most stalwart fans had to get up in what can only be described as the middle of the night (well to me anyway), the last thing they want to watch is 90 odd laps of F1 cars driving around at a snails pace, behind a safety car that goes slower than my Grandmother in her FIAT 500 at a roundabout.

Once the safety car had been dispatched, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa had a storming race fighting his way up through the field with a magnificent drive from 12th to 4th, silencing some of his critics (who claim he can’t drive in the rain) in the process.

Unfortunately fate had other plans, and a software management program shut down ickle Felipe’s Engine leaving the poor Brazilian floundering on the grass verge like a fish out of water.

Had it not been for this unfortunate turn of events there was every chance the passionate little poppet would have been in with a good chance of getting on the podium, assuming Ferrari hadn’t come up with some bizarre strategy to send him out with no tires at all not to mention the obligatory white visor…..

kimi-chinaTeammate Kimi Raikkonen endured a less auspicious afternoon, the Flying Finn (or should that be Floundering Finn?) struggled throughout, apparently suffering from a lack of speed, lack of grip and intermittent issues with rain dripping into his engine. Perhaps next time he might want to take an umbrella round with him, either that or get his engine covered in sticky back plastic.

Kimi managed to bring his F60 home in 10th spot, which is quite a remarkable feat in itself considering it seemed he was overtaken by just about every driver on the grid on at least two or three occasions. Unfortunately Kimi has come in for come flak for his Sunday afternoon performance, with some fans insisting he might actually go faster if Ferrari strap choc-ices to the rear wings of all the other cars to motivate him to go faster. The Kimbot has hit back and suggested that motivation isn’t his problem, in fact he hasn’t even got a first clue what it is…..or something to that effect.

Suffice to say yet another dismal performance has incensed the Italian Media and some sections of the“Tifosi” somewhat, with yet more calls for heads to roll. We are at a loss to see how beheading Ferrari Staff is actually going to help matters, not least because they won’t be able to see the darned car to improve it.

_stefano_domenicaliAfter the Race, Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali hinted that the Maranello outfit may resort to scrapping efforts for 2009 and concentrating on 2010, if they do not see a vast improvement in the performance of the car come the Spanish Grand Prix in 3 weeks time.

According to some reports, Ferrari will be introducing a new floor on the F60 (riddled with drilled holes for more downforce) I know this because they phoned us up here at FFN HQ asking to borrow our cordless power drill in exchange for an extremely rare free official signed photo of Kimi smiling and Felipe looking vacant.

It is also thought that the Spanish GP will see the team introduce a new double diffusor at the back of the car, to help claw back some of the performance deficit to some of the top teams. Ferrari staff were unavailable for comment last night, when we tried to ascertain any truth to the rumours they would also be installing a couple of rockets (not icecreams Kimi) on the side of the car to speed it up a little.

As per usual Austria’s very own like-for-like version of Prince Phillip (due to his fondness for political incorrectness), has popped out the woodwork to impart us with his words of wisdom on the current situation. Former World Champion Niki Lauda has insisted that the loss of Ross Brawn, Michael Schumacher and Jean Todt has left the Ferrari team unravelling into chaos like a ball of spaghetti. We just hope they find the meatballs to turn the situation around, either that or find some spare socks or a block of parmesan to stuff into the piehole located on Lauda’s face.

lewis-spinmasterEven McLaren starlet Lewis Hamilton had a torrid time on Sunday afternoon, the Brit who has developed something of a reputation for his skills in wet weather driving the last two seasons, ended up spinning around more times than a ballerina in a version of Swan Lake, well we suppose he would look very pretty in a tutu. Even then he still managed to overtake Kimi on 3 seperate occasions (although don’t quote me on that I had slipped into a comatose state by this stage) and simultaneously mount a serious challenge on Felipe Massa’s all time silverstone-spin record.

The highlight of the race weekend for us, apart from listening to Flavio Briatore’s witticisms, was watching first Nelson Piquet, then Adrian Sutil aquaplaning off track to demolish the 50m and 100m polystyrene braking markers at the side of the track. Not that any of the drivers could probably see them in the first place through all the spray coming off the back of the car in front of them.

Unfortunately poor Adrian had been on course to score some points after a dogged effort up into 6th place, and even overtaking current world champion Lewis Hamilton on one of his many off track excursions. Nelson Piquet Jnr meanwhile looks like he is on course to sign his own F1 death warrant which might be preferable to walking back to the Renault garage and finding out what Flav has got to say on the matter.

sebastien-buemi1Meanwhile Torro Rosso’s Swiss Rookie Sebastien (yes another one) Buemi, yet again had a sterling race, showing up supposedly more experienced former world champions, the Torro Rosso star managing to overtake both Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton at one stage, then proceeded to fight off the attentions of Fernando Alonso who was attempting to inspect his gearbox at close range for several laps. The swiss youngster eventual went onto score a valuable point for the Faenza outfit, bravo!

All in all though, despite the weather and the numerous spins, gravel trap outtings, and Robert Kubica’s car trying to mate with the back of Jarno Trulli’s, the Chinese GP was a pretty dull affair and I suppose we would say that considering our allegiances.

Still here at FFN we are finally hoping for a race when it doesn’t rain as really Ferrari have just about enough to contend with already, and have sent off one of our office staff in search of Ferrari’s famous Weather Cow which was last seen in the sand dunes in the immediate vicinity of the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain in 2008.

We have just about every appendage crossed in the hope that Ferrari finally get some points on the scoreboard this weekend….otherwise we will be in desperate need for some retail therapy, not to mention wanting to affectionately smack Ferrari staff round the back of the head with our keyboards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next Page »