Nigel Mansell


One really does have to feel a little bit of sympathy these days for Rubens Barrichello, or as one of my close friends calls him ’Woobens’. It seems wherever the plucky Brazilian goes, controversy is never far behind bobbing about on the horizon like a malevolent storm cloud.

woobens2Not mentioning the four seasons he spent at Ferrari where the team seemed to spend more time in trouble than out of it, even the odd impromptu karaoke night out on the tiles reciting complimentary ditties about your past teammates’ ends up unceremoniously splashed all over the media.

Moving to Honda (now BrawnGP) it seems poor Ruben’s still can’t escape the evil cloud of controversy that dogs his every move, the moment he finally gets his mitts on a half decent car that doesn’t drive like a drunken three-legged tortoise, already his counterparts up and down the pitlane seem hell bent on getting the darn thing declared illegal for having a diffuser that exploits a loophole in the regulations, allegedly.

Really is it any wonder that ‘Woobens’ has been stamping his feet somewhat and getting slightly irked with well meaning journalists when they have innocently asked about the legality of his current mode of transport.

During an interview with Spanish Publication Marca, the Brazilian churlishy replied “Your asking are we legal? When someone is behind it is easier to say your rivals are against the rules than do better work”.

That clears things up nicely thanks ‘Woobens’, the BrawnGP challenger is clearly not illegal in any way shape or form, and evidently the rest of the paddock are like a bunch of silly jealous schoolgirls, sniping at you because they want your shiny new car.

brawngp-diffuserUnfortunately in F1 things are never quite that simple. Despite the fact the FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting has today confirmed that the diffusers on the BrawnGP, Toyota and Williams’ vehicles are considered legal and just a clever exploitation of a loophole in the sporting regulations, that doesn’t mean it won’t be illegal in two week’s time. Especially once Renault’s Team Boss Flavio Briatore has threatened to sit on him and talk him into submission of course.

Naturally Charlie might have changed his mind in the interim period, as he has demonstrated a want to do on previous occasions, most noticeably when telling the McLaren pitwall that their driver’s overtaking manoeuvre at Spa is in fact acceptable, only then to go on and report it as an infraction to the race stewards. And they say women are fickle and indecisive.

Williams’ Technical Guru Sam Michael meanwhile has expressed his surprise that more teams have not copied and adopted the controversial diffuser designs (although we understand McLaren have been having a jolly good attempt at Jerez with a bottle of green liquid dye and a sheet of sticky-back plastic), stating that it would be fairly easy to do.

What might surprise Sam Michael is the speed in which the other teams can get into race control first thing on the Friday morning prior to the Australian Grand Prix and lodge a complaint, no doubt faster than the FFN office cat can run when I get the frontline flea treatment out of it’s hiding place….. and that’s saying something.

fernando-alonsoMeanwhile while the teams are considering how they can put a kaibosh on the seemingly runaway BrawnGP express train, the drivers yesterday have been sharing their thoughts about the latest dubious turn of events courtesy of the Freakin’ Idiots Assocation.

Fernando Alonso, Jarno Trulli, Nick Heidfeld and Nico Rosberg to name but a few have condemned the latest rule changes to the points system, declaring it as nonsensical, silly and confusing…..and they were just the printable comments. Even former World Champion Michael Schumacher has waded into the fray in his cowboy boots, saying he is astonished and that the change in rules make little sense, and can only be of detriment to the sport. Sufficed to say the new rules have gone down like a lead balloon at a party.

Toyota’s Jarni Trulli has gone on to suggest that the FIA are in fact trying to kill off F1 and make the drivers leave to race in another series, which we feel is a rather drastic course of action merely because they have had the odd falling out with Max Mosley in the past over the hugely inflated prices of superlicenses and so forth.

madame_tussauds_lewis_hamiltonThis being the case the FIA may want to borrow Vodaphone’s remote control Blackberry and get on to Madame Tussauds’ in London pretty sharpish, to get themselves some cheaper and less vocal replacements.

Madame Tussaud’s reportedly have a rather impressive array of Formula 1 waxwork dummies on show, including Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell and Michael Schumacher. This week Lewis Hamilton has been added to the collection, with his waxwork dummy costing a cool 230,000 euros to make. Well in these times of economical difficulty, if ever there is a power cut….you know where to go to get a candle!

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Apparently F1 veteran Nige believes that the current spy saga is not only damaging the reputation of both Ferrari and McLaren, but the entertainment value of the sport as well. We thought the FIA had done a pretty good job of that with the stupid rules and regulations they keep introducing on an annual basis.

Presumably Ferrari are generally being seen as a bit ditzy when it comes to internal security (with this being the second episode of employees helping themselves to secrets on the way out the back door, in the last few years) and McCheats I mean McLaren claiming complete innocence and coining phrases “whiter than white” when in fact they have looked all along pretty much grey and metallic to us, which probably explains alot about Mo-Ron’s personality.

Still Nige believes that the current scandal is taking the whole concept of espionage in the sport to an almost parasitic level (just for the record it’s not me calling McLaren a bunch of parasites – as if I would) and thinks it absolutely dreadful that the whole issue is being dragged to the civil courts and not being swept under the carpet which is usually the case in the sport.

nigelmansell.jpgJust for the record before your blood starts boiling and you start booking a one way ticket to England in preparation for lynching a former glorifed but now disgraced Ferrari Mechanic for having the gall to talk about the subject, the latest informed and intelligent comments have actually poured out of the spout of one Nigel Mansell, former World Champion and ex-Ferrari driver and not from the lips of Mr.Stepney “The Spy who Shagged Ferrari”.

According to Nige, we should all forget about this silly espionage business and instead focus on what is important in all this, the racing. Well it’s all very well saying that Nige, but when faced with the prospect of races like Monaco and the Hungaroring…it’s a little hard to focus…especially when we’ve seen more thrilling paint dry. No wonder a bunch of guys in suits shouting the odds and waving their briefcases frantically about outside the Place de la Concorde looks more interesting.

Meanwhile it seems young Ferrari driver Felipe Massa has been counting his chickens and is reportedly glad that Ferrari are not having to endure the same inter-team rivalry that exists at McLaren.

The Brazilian poppet has commented that although he and Kimi are not best friends, there is no uncomfortable rivalry between them like the supposedly tense relationship between Nando and Lewis at McLaren, just a professional working relationship with the team.

Here at FFN we are of the opinion that it must be nigh on possible to have an uncomfortable rivalry with the Flying Finn for many reasons. Firstly does anyone actually understand a word our Kimster mumbles? presumably its pretty darned impossible to have a successful two way argument with someone who visibly demonstrates less communication skills than the average family cat in a coma.

thekimstersface.jpgSecondly, how on earth would you tell if the Kimster was annoyed or not? here at FFN we are still trying to work out if his deadpan facial expression is a result of the wind changing and it getting stuck like that, or if in fact is due to paralysis from all that Finlandia Vodka he reportedly consumes. We have seen more animated facial expressions on the inhabitants at the local fish counter. We had thought earlier in the season we had seen a smile, but we were later disappointed to find out it was just Sporting Director Stefano Domenicali liberally applying the catlle prod to keep the tifosi happy.

Thirdly, does the man ever stay in the Ferrari Garage long enough to engage in a verbal set-to with anyone? The minute he is out the car it would seem he is off like a jack rabbit onto the nearest plane to Finland to watch the latest Ice Hockey Game. No wonder he has a reputation as the fastest man in F1, he can clear airport customs in a faster time than an airline’s trolley dolly.

Finally, how does Felipe have the first clue who to look for? When Kimi isn’t dressing up as the local silverback male gorilla and taking part in Finnish boat races, he is parading about as former F1 star James Hunt (mutton chop sideboards not withstanding) the man seemingly has more disguises than the local costumes department in the amateur dramatics society.

So with no clue where or who his team mate actually is, its little wonder Felipe ended up having a spat with Nando instead at the Nurburgring – at least those two slugs on Nando’s face are instantly recognizable.

However, it seems now on Felipe’s part at least the bad feeling has been forgotten and he has extended the olive branch of forgiveness to Mr.Alonso by inviting him to take part in the annual Brazilian Charity Karting Challenge known as the ‘Race of Stars’ to take place in Florianopolis on the 24th and 25th November.

michael1.jpgActually we are being a bit presumptious really assuming it’s a gesture of forgiveness on the part of the little Brazilian poppet also nicknamed ‘Sunshine’, taking into consideration the fact one Mr Michael Schumacher of 7 times World Championship fame seems to have also been invited to the event.

We are left wondering if the event is going to be more like a round of dodgems, with Michael giving his young friend Felipe a proper demonstration on how to take Nando’s sidepods off in racing conditions. Presumably followed by a masterclass in how to protest your innocence and look astounded that anyone would suggest you did anything so very dreadful on purpose as only Michael can.

One noticeable omission from the invite list is current championship leader Lewis Hamilton, whether this is because Felipe is already sick to death of him winning all the pots, or because Lewis will be too busy practicing his parallel parking in his specially designated car parking slot outside his local Asda supermarket to attend, we will never know.