Williams


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.

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Finally yesterday after months of dithering, deliberating, discussing and debating, the day of reckoning that may eventually decide the outcome of the 2009 Formula 1 championship finally arrived.

rory-byrne-in-jolly-old-paris‘Double Diffusorgate Deadline Day’ or DDDD as it will hence forth be affectionately known, saw the FIA finally stop faffing about and were forced at the International Court of Appeal in Paris to clarify the legality or otherwise of the much debated Double Diffusors on the BrawnGP, Williams and Toyota cars.

Despite the best efforts principally of Ferrari’s infamous Lawyer Nigel Tozzi to reduce the usually unperturbable Ross Brawn to tears with a few well placed tongue-lashings (well Tozzi does have a bit of a habit of reducing Formula 1 employees into quivering heaps on previous occasions) , the ICA eventually ruled in the favour of BrawnGP, Williams and Toyota declaring the double diffusor-devices to be completely legal. This is despite the fact seven other F1 teams have disputed that the devices are within the spirit and wording of the sports regulations.

Unfortunately, due to the annually occurring utter incompetence of the FIA to get their rules in some semblance of sense and order, once again we are in a position where the outcome of the sporting season may not actually be decided on track as we suspect it is intended to be, but in a coffee shop over croissants in Paris instead.

names-in-a-hat-pleasePerhaps in future the FIA might want to entertain the idea of writing the teams and drivers names on pieces of paper and pulling the winner out of a top hat and be done with it, not only would it help in the FIA’s overall drive to reduce costs in the sport by having the teams not bothering to actually compete on equal terms, but it might be more environmentally friendly than KERS in the long run with a sheet of A4 paper having a far lower overall carbon impact. Not forgetting how many trees would be saved by not letting the teams design a car in the first place.

Here at FFN being of naturally suspicious nature, we are inclined to believe the sports governing body are doing this on purpose purely for an all expenses day out in the French Capital, as this sort of debacle overshadowing the start of each season seems to be happening with annoying regularity, and in fact with more regularly than a dose of laxatives.

Sufficed to say, the ruling now forces the seven teams that had built their cars within the wording and spirit of the sporting regulations, to either sit back and see the Double Diffusor ‘3’ disappear off into the distance, or force them to spend even more money by adapting the technology to their cars in an attempt to get back on equal footing. Which is a bit farcical to say the least when the Mad Max and Bernie Puppetshow are forever preaching about penny-pinching, while pinching other peoples pennies.

fiaOne has to wonder what is the point of having regulations in the first place if you only go on to give teams carte blanche to completely disregard them anyway? It sets a very dangerous precedent, not least calling into question what is the point of having the FIA at all? (a question many F1 fans have probably been scratching their heads and wondering for years anyway).

Some reading this might be inclined to think it is simply a case of sour grapes (is that vinegar then?) because here at FFN we are somewhat inclined to support Ferrari, whom it just so happens on this occasion at least followed the regulations to the letter.

It is not so much the outcome or result that irks, or that BrawnGP and co could be about to scamper away with the championship pot for being rather clever, but if we wanted to watch court room drama week in week out we’d go and get ourselves a video of LA law, some shoulder pads and a bucket of popcorn instead.

Personally we’d prefer the fighting to be done wheel to wheel on track on equal terms (with the odd occasional punch up and name calling thrown in for good measure), and enjoy the odd car rearranging technical glitch as Nelson Piquet bounces his car off the armco, rather than have to sit through more old farts shouting and waiving bits of paper about in an exaggerated and animated fashion.

It is rumoured that Ferrari will now have to spend in the region of 10-20 million dollars, to redesign the F60 to incorporate the double diffusor device if they wish to compete on equal terms. If reports are to be believed, it is not simply a case of strapping one on and hey presto! It would involve a major redesign of the car including, the floor, rear, gearbox and suspension all which will take time, resources and effort to complete.

Not surprisingly Ferrari’s Team Principal Stefano Domenicali was not best pleased with the ruling, the usually mild mannered and chipper team boss yesterday expressing his discontentment.

ferrari-store1As a result, Ferrari are promptly dispatching their Flying Finn Kimi Raikkonen to London, to officially open the new Ferrari Store on Regent Street on May 6th. It is rumoured the move is intended to generate some much needed cash for the Diffusor fund, by increasing sales in T-shirts, caps and Magnum ice-creams to teenage girls. Do not be alarmed though, we are to understand Kimi won’t actually required to make an opening speech, he will already have quite enough hard work on his plate with cutting a ribbon and having to smile for at least five seconds for the camera, all whilst wearing a strangely oversized cap.

Meanwhile, Ferrari’s other starlet Felipe Massa is reportedly being put on a new exercise regime in the Maranello Gym. The dimunitive Brazilian as we speak is being strapped up to a recumbant bicycle and a dynamo, and being asked to power the Gestione Sportiva and Ferrari Factory by pedal power. The savings on the electricity bill all going to the good cause of helping Ferrari fund a new car.

Even Ferrari President Luca Di Montezemolo will be doing his bit for the cause by considerably cutting down on hairspray, and limiting himself to one stamp per week for firing off written complaints about the current shambolic state of the sport.

poor-baldoIn other news this week, we were shocked to learn that in the aftermath of the disastrous opening rounds of the season for the Scuderia, Ferrari have relocated pitwall poppet, Team Manager and Strategic Chief Luca Baldisserri back to the factory.

It would seem the poor thing has been made the sacrificial scapegoat for the poor start to the season particularly for the strategic decisions at Sepang, and as a result he has been grounded, and is not allowed out to play again until Ferrari have produced a championship challenging car (or until the Italian Media have stopped asking for heads on silver platters).

We can’t help feeling that this is a bit harsh, especially when you consider British Weatherman and Meteorologist Michael Fish couldn’t even predict a Hurricane heading for the coast of Britain back in 1987 after a tip off from a viewer, and he got off with just a rather red face and no official punishment from the BBC.

Baldo will apparently be working closely with Technical Director Aldo Costa (Aldo and Baldo – sounds like a winning formula for a children’s TV show) in a working group created with the sole intention of improving the F60, hopefully giving Felipe and Kimi the best possible chances to compete on level terms with the rest of the rule regarding F1 fraternity.

Chief Race Engineer and Antipodean Chris Dyer meanwhile, will take over the trackside responsibilities of Luca, while he is chained 24/7 to a desk in the design office. We do sincerely hope he has been given enough leeway to actually make it back and forth to the toilet and expresso machine.

We wish Chris the best of luck in taking over the hot seat so to speak, and sincerely hope he doesn’t find himself getting his weather predictions or tyre selections slightly wrong, otherwise Ferrari could end up with an empty pitwall by the end of the season.

Ahead of the second round of the 2009 Formula 1 championship in Sepang Malaysia, the subject very much still at the forefront of everyone’s mind is the controversial diffusors on the Williams, Toyota and BrawnGP cars.

jordanNaturally, if you’re a certain Irish ex-Formula 1 team owner from Jordan/TV Pundit that goes by the moniker of Eddie Jordan (or Mrs. Branson on a race weekend allegedly) then were actually talking about Confusors whatever they might be.

Which considering the headache this will be giving the sports governing body the FIA in Paris on the Tuesday following the Malaysian GP, might be quite an appropriate freudian slip if ever there was one.

The entities in question located at the rear of the F1 car, are used to channel airflow under the rear of the car to increase overall downforce, it is thought the clever double-decker solution on Brawn GP and co’s vehicular offerings could add as much as an extra 15% downforce which in turn improves the car’s handling and speed.

It is no wonder then given the relative performance of the cars belonging to these 3 very naughty sets of boys, that the rest of the paddock are champing at the bit for the FIA to clarify the regulations on them.

This week it has emerged that 5 out of the 7 teams that believe BrawnGP and co’s solutions to be contravening the wording and spirit of the technical regulations, have already set to work building their own double-deckers (just to clarify diffusors and not London Buses).

Unfortunately it would seem that matter is not quite as straightforward for some teams as it is others, with Ferrari for example reportedly having to design a whole new car to fit one on. Quality German publication of choice ‘Bild’ this week reports that the Maranello squad are set to spend somewhere in the region of 20 Million Euros building a ‘B spec’ F60 in an attempt to overcome their performance deficit.

sleeping-kimiAlthough we can’t help but wonder if the 20 million might be better spent bribing official tyre supplier Bridgestone to build some Ferrari specific tyres for a change, and a few packets of pro plus to keep Kimi Raikkonen awake for the length of an entire race distance.

It is thought the ‘B spec’ Ferrari charger will take somewhere in the region of two months to complete and may be ready to hit the track somewhere around the time of the Turkish Grand Prix, assuming that BrawnGP, Toyota or Williams haven’t already won the title and swanned off on their post season jollies.

According to Ferrari’s President Luca Montezemolo, the team are suffering somewhat from a hangover. Unfortunately not due to consumption of large quantities of Chianti like can sometimes happen here at FFN, but from the efforts they put into their 2008 title campaign.

montyReportedly both 2008 title protagonists McLaren and Ferrari were so intent on their title campaigns for last season, they are several months behind in their development of this years car in comparison to their pitlane rivals.

Late last night Ferrari’s official spokesman Luca Colajanni was unavailable for comment (on account he was allegedly tucked up safely in bed composing his next literary masterpiece), and therefore we were unable to obtain any clarification on mysterious reports suggesting Ferrari are intent on building a carbon copy of the BrawnGP car, including 1980’s fluorescent yellow go-faster stripes and matching socks, albeit with a bit more red paint and a few ‘made in Maranello’ stickers haphazardly slung in for good measure.

The next few weeks it would seem are going to be a busy time for the FIA, which will teach them in future for being rather vague and waffly when it comes to writing their own rules and regulations (ok perhaps we are being slightly over-optimistic on this score). Not that they can probably remember what they have written, if recent events regarding points systems is anything to go by.

It is also reported that the FIA Race Stewards will be reconvening today at 1pm in Malaysia to reopen an investigation into the Lewis Hamilton-Jarno Trulli incident that took place in the dying laps of the Australian Grand Prix. Both drivers have been apparently been summoned to appear before the Race Stewards in Sepang.

Not that we were actually watching the race at this point, as we were more than likely crying into our morning cornflakes as a result of Ferrari’s dismal performance. But the incident apparantly saw Jarno Trulli overtaking the world champion under the safety car, which we all know is frowned upon and usually results in the guilty party receiving a sharp rap across the knuckles from the Race Stewards, when Max Mosley is otherwise engaged of course.

In this particular case, Jarno had his champagne snatched from his sticky fingers, his shiny peanut dish confiscated and was summarily and shamefully demoted to 4th place in the final results classification by default handing 3rd place to Lucky Linda…..I mean Lewis.

It is understood the investigation has been reopened following allegations that Lewis Hamilton told an entirely different version of events to the SpeedTV media outlet, shortly before going into the FIA race control and telling yet another version of events.

lucky-lindaAuto, Motor und Sport revealed that Hamilton initially told the race stewards investigating the incident that he slowed down to read the safety car instructions on his steering wheel, and it was then that Jarno allegedly overtook him.

However, after reviewing their data it now transpires that at this point in proceedings the safety car instructions would have long been cleared from Lucky Linda’s dashboard and the FIA are not best amused at being told porky pies (lies – for those of you unversed in cockney rhyming slang).

The Trulli trains’ version of events suggested that Jarno only overtook Hamilton on account that the McLaren driver pulled to the side of the road and to all intents of purposes looked to be having some sort of problem with his car (aside from the fact its uninspiringly grey and allegedly slower than a Ferrari on a bad day).

The FIA have requistioned the appropriate radio traffic for the investigation (lets hope they haven’t mistakenly picked out a copy of Kimi snoring) and are set to give the Brit a good grilling, although we are not too sure if a barbecue actually comes into the equation…..

If the investigation finds in Trulli’s favour he will be reinstated back to 3rd minus the champagne, and there may be serious repercussions for Lucky Linda…..stay tuned for the next thrilling installment of F1 the soap opera!

helmut-markoRed Bull’s appropriately named Motorsports Advisor Helmut Marko has today go on record saying that Sebastien Buemi’s strong debut performance in the Australian Grand Prix, where the swiss youngster secured 7th place bringing home 2 valuable points, is vindication of Torro Rosso’s decision to give the youngster a Formula 1 drive alongside Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais (or as we like to think of him Sebastien Bad Day – due to his tempestuous F1 career to date).

According to Mr.Hard Hat, he had to fight hard to convince many skeptics that the Swiss Youngster was able to make the step up from the GP2 feeder series. Although this might come as startling news to some F1 pundits, who believe the main and solitary criteria for occupying the Torro Seat starts with “S” and ends in “ebastien.” never mind whether you can pedal a motor vehicle or not.

buemiThe Swiss youngster was keen to point out to any journalist within a 50 foot square radius (although that’s probably a contradiction in terms squares can’t be round), that those critics who said he wasn’t ready for the step up into the elite pantheon of the Motorsport Gods simply didn’t know the first thing about motor racing. Not that this factor has stopped a journalist before you understand, or anyone else for that matter when taken with the urge to spout forth.

By now all the Formula 1 teams will have arrived in Sepang, Malaysia and begun unpacking and setting up garage ahead of the second round of the F1 calendar which takes place this weekend.

The Ferrari team are keen to bounce back after the disappointment of Melbourne, and have reportedly been working hard to try and improve their performance and avoid an embarrassing repeat of last Sunday. (Perhaps Ferrari might want to remind Felipe not to repeat his 2008 Malaysian Experience, while they are at it).

It is understood the Maranello based team are investigating a relationship between the KERS system and the high rear tyre degradation rate they suffered at the Australian GP. Despite those concerns, the team will apparantly be using the KERS system again in Malaysia, no doubt to get off to a flying start at the first corner, only to have to pit at the end of lap one for a new set of boots.

Meanwhile Bridgestone have just made Ferrari’s week, by confirming that they are bringing soft tyres to Malaysia, a compound which has never previously been used at the Sepang circuit. According to those in the know, this is an FIA directive to “spice” up the show. Although we are a little concerned going by the results so far, if the tifosi can take much more “spice” without their heads imploding and creating an almighty mess on the pit straight.

While the teams and fans are mulling over what this latest turn in developments may mean in Sepang, especially with rain predicted this weekend, Williams Driver Nico ‘Britney’ Rosberg has revealed his lifelong fear of the dark.

flappy-blonde-maneAccording to the perfectly coifed one from Germany, Finland, Iceland, Bulgaria, Papua New Guinea or wherever he happens to live this week in his attempts to avoid partaking in the joys of National service, he is most alarmed about the increasing number of twilight races being scheduled into the Formula 1 calendar.

The Williams star claims that the visibility during this twilight period is dangerous, and highlights that during the Australian GP on Sunday he was unable to see the edge of the race track, which surely should come as little surprise considering he hasn’t seen a hairdresser in the best part of 10 years. We wouldn’t be able to see a darn thing with a great big yellow mane flapping about in our faces either.

According to the young Rosberg, driving when there are so many shadows about is very dangerous. Although we would have thought the current crop of F1 stars would be used to it by now, given that they all seem to have been born with sunglasses surgically attached to their faces.

the-fly1It is reportedly the norm on a Thursday afternoon to see the odd F1 pilot stumbling about the paddock completely disorientated desperately trying to find his way to the FIA press conference on time lest he gets fined $10,000 for not showing his face, but spotting an F1 driver not doing an impression of a Fly……don’t be silly.

Don’t worry Nico your secret fear of the dark is safe with us, we wouldn’t reveal it to anyone, pretty much like we didn’t reveal Felipe Massa’s fear of clean underpants, Fernando Alonso’s Hamilton-a-phobia, Jenson Button’s fear of razors or Norbert Haug’s fear of starving to death.

Sweet Dreams…

oz-gp-go-go-goNo doubt as you are probably aware by now (given the inordinate length of time it has taken me to dispose of the FFN cat off my laptop keyboard to sit down to write) that this weekend past was the opening round of the 2009 F1 season in Melbourne Australia.

Albert Park located just a few kilometres south of the city of Melbourne, had the auspicious task of hosting what turned out to be a fairytale and nightmare all rolled into one.

The BrawnGP team (formerly Honda), who once were on the receiving end of more than their fair share of stick for building cars that made wayward supermarket trolleys seem a drivers dream, got off to a dream start by not only securing pole position during Qualifying but then going on to dominate the race with a fairytale 1-2 result. Englishman Jenson Button securing only his second ever race win ahead of teammate Rubens ‘Did I tell you I hate Ferrari’ Barrichello.

Sufficed to say, the team couldn’t quite believe it, and neither could the rest of the paddock who immediately shot off to their garages to think up imaginary complaints to the FIA. Not that there were many left to make after the deluge that poured through the FIA’s letterbox by the end of Qualifying.

In fact the governing body taking the strange action of only announcing the official starting grid for the race 1 hour before it was due to take place, presumably it taking them that long to wade through the neverending and increasingly ridiculous retaliatory complaints submitted by teams.

sam-michael-williamsIn fact by the end some teams were submitting then retracting complaints, because they couldn’t even remember what they were protesting in the first place. We understand though that Williams strongly objected to Ferrari for eating Pepperoni Pizza on Friday night, and objected to Red Bull for putting too much taurine in their popular soft drink. But in the interests of the sport they retracted the complaint, although they hoped the FIA would pop over to Ferrari and investigate what Pasta they would be serving Sunday Lunchtime.

The race result itself for BrawnGP was particularly remarkable when you consider they had a semi-bungled pitstop in the dying laps of the race, Rubens Barrichello taking an impromptu nap off the startline and letting half the field past, followed by his penchant for spending the rest of the afternoon trying to drive through other F1 cars and not around them.

a-victim-of-the-barrichello-brawlThe BrawnGP driver took out an impressive four rivals cars in the first corner alone, leaving Mark Webber, Happy Kovaleinen, Nick Heidfeld and Adrian Sutil all scuttling back to the pitlane for repairs or retirement and all without incurring the slightest penalty from the Stewards. Even Maestro Michael Schumacher himself would have been in awe of that one.

We can only presume Rubens who is now the oldest member of the F1 driver fraternity, has taken over the mantle from its previous encumbant David Crash-Magnet Coulthard. The little Brazilian it would seem is firmly intent on winning a title now that he has a decent car, in fact any title, and from what we have seen thus far we can only presume he is gunning for the world record in dodgem racing.

Ferrari were unfortunately handed a masterclass on a plate by their previous Technical Director Bananaman Brawn, the Maranello squad were left with red faces (blending in seamlessly with their red shirts of course), after a disastrous start to their Championship challenge.

Things all started out well enough, with both of the Ferrari driving duo getting off the start grid well and gaining places on their rivals thanks to the KERS system and the soft tyres. Initially all went well, and it looked like Ferrari had pulled off a strategic masterstroke with Felipe Massa up into 3rd place and Kimi chasing down BMW-Sauber’s Robert Kubica from 5th place.

felipe2However, within a few laps it all went horribly wrong, the degradation on the tyres on the Ferrari’s being such, that the Scarlet clad chargers became strongly reminiscent of an ambling tortoise. The Ferrari pitwall were embarrassingly forced to pit both drivers way to early to change the troublesome rubber rings located on the corners of the car.

Williams Japanese driver Kazuki Nakajima even selflessly attempted to even things up a bit in Ferrari’s favour, by unexpectedly parking his car at high speed into a barrier at turn 3, eventually tempting the safety car out once it’s designated driver had finished the crossword in the Times and enjoyed a round of Ham and Cheese Deltoids (sandwiches).

The emergence of the safety car allowed the field to close up behind Jenson Button who had reportedly been not far off finishing the championship, enjoying his champagne and buying himself a yacht with his winnings.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa meanwhile was evidently sick to the back teeth of his tyres misbehaving, the usually sunny little Brazilian doing his darnedest to flat spot them and get another 4, unfortunately more of the same awaited him back in the Ferrari Garage. Mores the pity.

piquetAfter the safety car had peeled off and the race was back on, Renault’s Nelson Piquet improved his pitlane reputation no end by tussling with Williams Nico Rosberg and unceremoniously sliding straight off track into the nearest gravel trap. According to the Brazilian his brakes failed at a vital moment leaving him floundering in the kitty litter (hope there were no unmentionables), although here at FFN we strongly suspect you could replace brakes with the word ‘brain’ and you’d not be far wrong.

As if the lack of performance and tyre degradation issues were not enough to be going on with at Ferrari, a rather baffling 3 stop strategy which we can only presume was to trim Felipe’s ferocious facial fuzz, pretty much put paid to the afternoon’s proceedings. Adding insult to injury, a broken suspension in the dying laps of the race meaning Felipe was out of the race and out of the points in Australia for the second year in a row.

Rumour has it Ferrari’s team boss Stefano Domenicali had to keep frantically double checking the date on the pitwall calendar to reassure himself it wasn’t 2008 all over again, either that or Groundhog day. Still Stefano should thank his lucky stars his alarm clock didn’t get rather confused over British Summertime and drag him out of bed to watch the Grand Prix at 4am instead of 6am really.

By the end of it all, really was it any wonder the usually unperturbable Kimbot had enough and decided to try and retire himself from proceedings, clipping the barrier and damaging his differentials, which I can’t help thinking sounds a tad on the painful side. Unfortunately for Kimi, even that didn’t go according to plan leaving the Finn doing his best impression of Mark Webber (sorry, bad joke) and limping around at the back of the pack for the remainder of the race.

the-semiautomatic-machine-gun-goes-hereWe understand that Ferrari chief car designer, Nick Tombazis was last spotted storming at high speed into the Ferrari Motorhome, allegedly the talented Greek was overheard muttering about incorporating Challenger Tank Tracks and a gun turret into the 2010 car instead of having to endure another season of being bested by those pesky round black Bridgestone affairs.

A few laps later, back on track BMW-Sauber’s Robert Kubica had caught up with Red Bull’s Sebastien Vettel, both drivers seemingly so intent on securing 2nd position and not yielding an inch, they took each other out of the race in spectacular fashion.

Unconfirmed rumours have suggested that it wasn’t really Sebastien Vettel’s fault, despite the fact the popular little German skipped off to BMW-Sauber to politely apologise, bless his cotton socks. Was it purely coincidental that the Red Bull starlet was spotted earlier in the weekend wearing what can only be described as 7 times World Champion Michael Schumacher’s shorts?

schumachers-undercrackers1All these years Ferrari Legend Michael has been on the receiving end of some particularly unfair flak from the British Media for his on track ruthlessness, win at all costs attitude and apparent arrogance, when all the time it was a pair of chequered undercrackers that were evilly masterminding the punting off of rivals willy-nilly in championship title deciding moments. Poor Michael, just goes to show you never really know a man. There is hope for Lewis Hamilton yet then.

Anyway before we start whittering away nineteen to the dozen about current paddock fads and fashions and global domination, we should conclude that predictably the BrawnGP duo led home a dominant dream 1-2 result, much to the delight of the flaxen haired and toothy new team sponsor Virgin’s Entrepreneur Richard Branston Pickle, and to the obvious relief and delight of Uncle Ross Bananaman Brawn.

Much to the dismay of everyone else of course, as subsequently the BrawnGP team have admitted there is much more to come (heavens forbid), and presumably every other team in the paddock is having to work their socks off 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in order to remotely keep up.

One does have to wonder though just exactly what the FIA race stewards were doing on Sunday afternoon, as we strongly suspect they weren’t actually watching the race at all.

After failing to give Ruben’s Barrichello a good rap over the knuckles for his numerous avoidable incidents, and demoting Jarno Trulli from 3rd place effectively handing the trophy to McLaren’s World Champion Lewis Hamilton (who we grudgingly admit drove a stellar race from the rear of the grid to claim a handful of points), rather puzzlingly the FIA saw fit to punish little Sebastien, but not for dispatching Robert Kubica onto the grass verges minus a wheel.

The FIA slapped the German with a 10 place grid slot penalty and a 50,000 euro fine for not getting his car off track quickly enough after the initial incident. According to the FIA regulations it was a breach of safety, which does beg the question what the one-man-demolition-darby who also goes by the moniker of Mr.Barrichello is classed as.

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, and the FIA are well….I’ll leave you to figure that out.

As suspected, Thursday morning of the opening weekend of the Grand Prix season in Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia was a flurry of activity.

catwalk-model-kimiWhile the drivers were chatting away merrily in the FIA press conference or happily getting their official photo taken (fetchingly demonstrated by stunning catwalk model Kimi Raikkonen inset), BMW-Sauber, Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault were frenetically submitting official protests to the sports governing body the FIA over the controversial and innovative design of the diffusors on rival teams’ cars, notably that of the Williams, Toyota and BrawnGP.

Within minutes BMW-Sauber’s protest was thrown out on the grounds they did not submit it within one hour of scrutineering, presumably because Nick Heidfeld’s new best friend kept eating the paper and hiding the pencils and generally aping about much to the annoyance of Super Mario.

However Renault, Red Bull and Ferrari all got their own way, leaving the poor FIA technical delegation crawling around on the garage floor like children at kindergarten for half the afternoon, inspecting the rear ends of the cars in question.

It seems the protests though have amounted to nothing, as just a few hours ago, the FIA threw out the protests and confirmed that as far as they were concerned the devices were perfectly legal….but then haven’t we been here, done that and bought the t-shirt when it came to mass dampers? And we all remember how that saga ended.

scrutineeringIt is presumed that the teams protesting will not be happy to leave matters there and may protest the race result on Sunday (if either BrawnGP, Toyota or Williams win) taking the matter to the FIA Court of Appeal (at least they provide a nice spread of cucumber sandwiches, sausage rolls and fizzy pop no expense spared).

Former Ferrari favourite Uncle Ross (looking resplendently grey in his new Henri Lloyd ensemble) was quick to point out that the only reason Ferrari have protested is because they have fallen out of bed in shock that someone is quicker than them, and also intimated they wouldn’t be in this mess if they had actually learned to read the regulations for themselves. Saucer of Milk at table two. Sufficed to say Uncle Ross might not be quite so popular as previously thought in Maranello this week.

In Ferrari’s defence we do feel that the lengthy FIA rules and regulations are in fact the perfect cure for insomnia if ever there was one, so really is it any wonder the Italians nodded off over their hot chocolate before ever getting to the end.

vision-in-greyScurrulous circulating rumours in Melbourne have suggested that Ferrari are so incensed by the whole debacle they have sent a formal notice down the pitlane to the BrawnGP garage, asking Uncle Ross to return his official limited edition Ferrari Parmesan Cheese Grater and Vintage 2006 bottle of balsamic vinegar.

Meanwhile Ferrari’s Felipe Massa has been sharing his little gems of wisdom with the media in the official FIA press conference, discussing such subjects as KERS, the new front wings, his chances for the season and who he thinks will be lining up to driver for the Scuderia next.

One journalist asked the Brazilian poppet how he would feel sharing a garage with Lewis Hamilton, who we understand has set tongues wagging by announcing that he would pleased to learn if rival teams were interested in him.

As is always the case in F1, a simple innocent statement flies around the paddock three times, and before you know it Lewis Hamilton has packed his bags, bought a Villa on Lake Como and declared a penchant for Pasta Pillows all based on the rumour of an alleged performance deficit at his beloved McLaren.

hamiltonWhat may come as a little bit of a shock to the McLaren star, is that there is a lengthy list of drivers ahead of him in the queue for a seat at the Scuderia, not withstanding his good friend Fernando Alonso, Robert Kubica, Nico Rosberg, Sebastien Vettel and anyone else that has ever shown a fancy for wearing red, today Felipe let slip that his father may even be in the frame for the job. Although we do think it might be a tight squeeze getting him into the cockpit of Kimi’s car (especially with the Finn sleeping inside). Perhaps Ferrari might consider employing Felipe’s mum as Chief Designer and kill two birds with one stone while they are at it.

They do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and to this effect it seems that former World Champion and Renault star Fernando Alonso seems hell bent on following in the footsteps of Ferrari President Luca Di Montezemolo. The Spaniard has been spotted waving his arms around and talking rather animatedly in the paddock, anytime the merest mention of Bernie Ecclestone is uttered.

According to reports, the Double World Champion has insisted that it is about time the Formula 1 Supremo, got off his soapbox and actually listened to those involved in the sport before running off half-cock with stupid and ill-advised rule changes to the FIA. Our dear friend from Asturias in recent times seeming to have promoted himself to the role of ambassador for sport, in the absence of any sense emitting from anyone else aged over 25 in the paddock.

nicks-new-friendWe can’t help wondering however if Fernando might have more luck selling ice to Eskimos or even encouraging Nick Heidfeld‘s new best friend to compose the entire works of Shakespeare on a manual typewriter, given that Bernard has reportedly admitted this week “Everything I have done, I have done for myself or for the company I run. I have never done it thinking it could be good for somebody else”.

Has the world of F1 finally gone to pot? Why the deuces is Force India’s Adrian Sutil figure skating up and down the pitlane like Peter Pan? Will Mark Webber ever defrost in time for Sunday? Will Ferrari’s Team Principal Stefano Domenicali ever succeed in getting that grubby stain off Felipe’s chin? Will FFN ever write a serious and intelligent article? Stay tuned to find out more….

3 days and counting…..

Well here we are again. Only five more days to go until the start of the 2009 Formula 1 season, and we are still no nearer having the first darned clue about what to expect for the opening race of the season in Melbourne.

mark-webberUnfortunately our usual pitlane clairvoyant Red Bull’s Mark Webber has been remarkably quiet of late, and we cant help fearing that whilst he was hobbling about healing his broken leg in a cryogenic chamber over the course of the winter, his crystal ball has succumbed to a fatal case of frostbite. Ouch.

One thing however is certain, that Formula 1 will continue on for the time being with the old points system. Unfortunately the governing body, the FIA, have ended up this week rather red faced after craftily trying to sneak through a controversial new points system, only to be amusingly defeated by the legality of their own small print. It would seem the old farts at the FIA didn’t reckon on anyone at FOTA actually having the first darn clue about the rules and regulations, let alone the ability to read.

Given that the teams spend every waking moment trying their darnedest to exploit the rules and regulations to gain advantage over their rivals, we suspect you couldn’t even pass off a fart in the F1 paddock without someone catching on to the fact and exploiting it.

FIA 0 – FOTA 1.

Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, has however assured the world that the controversial points system will be enforced from 2010, so the reprieve is only temporary unless FOTA can find ways to permanently put a spanner in proceedings, and we wouldn’t put it past them.

melbourneAll the teams have now arrived in Melbourne ahead of the first race of the season on Sunday, and as usual all the drivers and teams have been talking about their chances for the title.

If we are to believe the vast array of news reports and articles on the matter, there is to be a 19 man/car tie for the championship, with only the ever constant Kimi Raikkonen calmly stating like clockwork he doesn’t know what his chances are, and refusing to elaborate any further.

We can only think its going to be a rather crowded podium celebration come Abu Dhabi in November, and perhaps that’s the real reason all the drivers have been desperately losing weight throughout the winter so they can all squeeze en masse into one tight spot to pick up the winners trophy.

Ferrari Team Boss Stefano Domenicali meanwhile it seems has intimated that this season is a very important one for the flying Finn, and Kimi is apparently intelligent enough to know as much.

Presumably this roughly translates as Stefano lighting a rather large petrol-fuelled Shell-branded bonfire under the Finn’s posterior regions, the real question is not whether Kimi is intelligent to know it, but whether he actually gives two figs worth of notice or actually just carries on as normal in his own inimitable way while the rest of the universe is going to rack and ruin.

icecool-kimiIf that isn’t pressure enough for the Ice-cool-cardboard-cut-out Kimi, former World Champion Michael Schumacher will be attending the opening two races of the season in his role as Ferrari team advisor (although exactly what he actually advises about we still have no idea).

Historically, this hasn’t always been a recipe for success for the Finn, as when the German Superstar has attended previously, Kimi’s car has mysteriously suffered a case of the hissy-fits on more than one occasion. Not that we are insinuating that Schumacher has been up to anything dubious or sinister of course….as if he would.…the man is virtually a saint.

But Kimi might want to insist on a few last minute checks with his race engineer prior to the start grid in Melbourne, just to check his charger has actually got four functioning wheels and has been filled up with petroleum, and an absence of bratwurst sticking out the exhaust pipe.

Team mate ickle Felipe meanwhile has been busily casting his beady eye over the bottom of the pitlane where the BrawnGP team are residing, as well as nurturing what can only be described as a smudge of dirt that has mysteriously appeared attached to his chin. It can’t possibly be a beard, surely, he can’t be old enough!?!

Kimi and Felipe Massa in Maranello to see President Napolitano at a Ferrari ceremony, 19th March 2009Anyway before I digress completely, according to the pocket-sized Brazilian poppet, Ross Brawn’s re-badged Honda Team look likely to be Ferrari’s arch–nemesis for the 2009 season. That’s if Ferrari’s KERS coolant system doesn’t beat them to that accolade first.

Arch-rivals of recent times, McLaren have been downplaying their chances for the opening rounds of the season, with Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh declaring the MP4-24 is suffering from a “performance deficit” or as the rest of us call it in layman’s terms – SLOW.

World Champion Lewis Hamilton has been attempting to put a brave face on it, and has informed us all that he will still do his utmost and race his little heart out even if he is not at the sharp end of the grid. It is rumoured that the MP4-24 is suffering for an aerodynamic problem, well here at FFN we can’t say we are surprised, has anyone actually seen those ridiculous rear wings? Of course your going to have an aerodynamic problem dragging what is akin to a child’s chair around at the back of your vehicle.

It is widely thought it may take McLaren as much as half the season to rectify the problem (unless they have a fortuitous first corner incident to remove the offending article), so they should thank their lucky stars the new points system hasn’t been introduced otherwise the championship could be wrapped up by Barcelona. Assuming that the Woking fraternity have not in fact been pulling the proverbial wool over the eyes of their rivals of course, and have actually been secretly sniggering behind their hands and sandbagging all winter.

Elsewhere it seems the rest of the paddock are jockeying for position to be the one’s taking the fight to Ferrari, and to date nobody has yet admitted to being a midfield runner or backmarker. So it looks like Ferrari really have got their work cut out this season beating off the attentions of Toyota, BrawnGP, Williams, Renault, BMW and co with a large stick.

quick-nick-demonstrates-the-ejector-buttonSpare a thought however, for Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica. This time, I’m not referring to their respective fashion sense and follical growthage.

It would seem this years BMW-Sauber car has somewhat of a complicated steering wheel, with more buttons and dials than the local telephone exchange can boast.

How the deuces the pair of them are expected to look where they are going, whilst twiddling all those knobs we haven’t the faintest idea. We can only hope the driving duo are a dab hand at multi-tasking, otherwise a quick twist of the differentials could end up with track marshalls flying in all directions and a BMW parked neatly into a nearby burger stand.

5 days and counting…..

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