Ralf Schumacher


We (at FFN) have been wondering about the new point system a bit. You know, the newest 25-18-15-12-10 one, awarding the winner with a whopping 7 point lead. It feels as though the powers that be in F1 have a sudden sneaking suspicion that lack of overtaking might have little to do with the cars and tracks after all. In the recent past, the governing bodies have been throwing everything they could lay their collective hands on into making F1 a better sporting spectacle, meaning more cars overtaking and less resemblance to a ruddy procession. If this meant sweeping aerodynamic changes or the blessed KERS or even shortcuts, so be it. And then some bright chap in some Council approved a proposal from a different commission, the gist of it being to provide a bit of incentive to the drivers to actually want to overtake. We think it’s a rather bright idea, our only concern being Bernie Ecclestone agrees. “The idea was to make a much bigger gap between first and second” says Bernie, “give people the incentive to overtake, not to sit there getting points”. Uh oh, what did we miss? Jenson Button, it has to be said, is far more diplomatic than FFN when it comes to voicing opinions on anything Bernie. He thinks the ‘shortcuts’ idea is rather ridiculous of course, but seems to suggest it is an exception rather than norm. “We struggle seeing anyway out of the sides of the cars, because the cockpit comes up to here for safety reasons. So if there is a car coming at an angle, it can be very dangerous” says Jense, “It’s probably not one of Bernie’s better ideas”. Oh, we think it is one of Bernie’s better ideas, which doesn’t say much for the standard I suppose.

Meanwhile, Force India’s design director Mark Smith is not upset about skipping the Valencia test last week. “As long as we are ready to go the Jerez test with a car that will run then it’s better for us” he says, and you have to agree. Car that runs is definitely better than car that maintains its state of inertia at rest. Nico Hulkenberg is also feeling the pressure, not that he is driving for Force India. “Williams expect me to deliver a good job, to drive quickly and do well for them. They would not appoint me as a driver if they didn’t expect something from me” says the clearly inexperienced youngling. If only he had read a bit of F1 history, he would know Williams specialize in appointing drivers no one in their right mind can expect anything out of. I mean, he’s got Rubens Barrichello as teammate for heaven’s sake! I bet if Ralf Schumacher were to make a comeback, Williams would sign him up without a second thought. Speaking of Rubens, we hear he had been urging young Rosberg to bolt out of Mercedes, now that Michael Schumacher is his teammate. Acts of courage, indeed.

Bring on the Jerez test then, keep fingers crossed that Ferrari goes fastest there as well. Forza!

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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.

Yesterday was the final group testing day for the Formula 1 fraternity on location at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.

With just two weeks to go before the season opener in Melbourne, the paddock pecking order remains about as transparent as a bucket of dirty ditch water, with armchair experts and pundits alike speculating like wildfire whom will come out on top down under.

trulli.jpgThe final day of testing witnessed a Toyota top the timesheets, with Italian Jarno Trulli setting the fastest lap of the day on a 1.20.801 on what many have presumed to be a ‘qualifying’ run.

Ferrari’s Technical Director Aldo Costa has recently commented that the Cologne-based Toyota team appears to have upped their game on previous seasons. But it remains to be seen whether the mysteriously set fastest time yesterday had more to do with showboating in order to impress the Sponsor-like big-wigs that appeared in the Toyota Garage, than the actual true race performance of the car.

Not that we feel it would make a great deal of difference either way, because once the red lights go out it’s all systems go for the Trulli train. Team-mate Timo Glock reportedly has been suffering with set-up trouble and could not get the car to his liking, which we presume must go a long way to explain why the third fastest driver in F1 (Ralf Schumacher) struggled all those years towards the tail-end of the grid.

Ralfie has now embarked on a new stage in his career, driving in DTM. The German confessing that he lied about having other offers in F1 towards the end of last season, because he wanted to end his F1 career with as little fuss as possible. Of course that’s making an assumption there was going to be a great deal of fuss in the first place.

dc.jpgMeanwhile, the second fastest man of the day was Red Bull’s DC, who seemed to have recovered very well from the trapped nerve that kept him sidelined during Tuesday’s proceedings. Some cynics suggesting that the sight of someone nearly half his age setting a blistering pace in the RB4 the previous day was enough to put a rocket under the archaic Red Bull racer. We can think of a few people we’d like to put a rocket under….

Nico Rosberg continued to impress in the Williams, securing the third fastest time over all for the day and having completed somewhere in the region of 200 laps between himself and team mate Nakajima towards the William’s test program.

Unusually both the McLaren and Ferrari drivers failed to trouble the top of the time sheets yesterday, with Heikki Kovaleinen in 4th, the Kimster in 9th, Lewis in 10th and ickle Felipe in 13th places respectively. Before the tifosi get their undergarments all a tangle, perhaps it is worth pointing out some of the assessments of those apparently in the ‘know’.

niki-lauda.jpgOne man who can always be relied upon to divulge his considered opinion no matter how far-fetched it may be (and whether we want to know or not) is Triple World Champion Niki ‘Nostradamus’ Lauda. If you are fairly new to FFN you may wonder why he has been nicknamed Nostradamus, well ‘tis simply really…. He likes to make predictions…. And no the world hasn’t come to an end just yet…that’s next week.

This week Niki has benevolently bestowed his thoughts on us, informing us all that his tip for the top is the Maranello outfit. According to Niki, the F2008 is roughly 0-5-0.8 seconds a lap faster in race trim than the MP24-23-67 (or whatever it is called) of nearest rivals McLaren.

How exactly Niki has stumbled upon this elusive figure we are not sure, but given that most F1 insiders are touting a maximum of 0.4 seconds advantage at a push on a good day in fair weather (and those are the ones who have been furiously crunching away like a bunch of nerds on their calculators) we’ll take this with a liberal dose of sodium chloride and a Tequila, thanks.

Thinking back to last season, we are pretty sure Niki tipped Alonso to be WDC and look how that one turned out…. Of course I could be wrong I do have the memory of a goldfish. Where was I?

In other news, it has been reported that the spy scandal is still rumbling away under the surface, with Italian Magistrates reportedly paying visits to Paragon as well as the homes of several key McLaren employees yesterday, including CEO Ron Dennis.

What started out as a simple report on Pitpass and Autosport yesterday as some senior McLaren management figures being interviewed by Modena Magistrates accompanied by Surrey police, has already begun to snowball in the Media.

British Publication ‘The Daily Mail’ has reported this morning that Ron has had his home raided by order of the Italian Courts, and that his career is on the brink of collapse, not to mention the prospect of the damage this could do to Lewis Hamilton’s 2008 campaign.

ron-dennis.jpgAlthough we are completely at a loss to work out just what Ron keeps in the privacy of his own home that could be so damning for the British Driver. Answers on a Postcard if you please.

This is despite senior McLaren and Mercedes figures moving to dispel recent rumours regarding Ron’s impending retirement as ‘pure speculation’.

By this evening we are expecting to hear that Ron has been arrested on suspicion of running a drugs cartel from his garden shed, Martin Whitmarsh will have been promoted to Secretary General of the United Nations, Fernando Alonso will win the Nobel Peace Prize and Lewis will be named the Greatest F1 driver of all time.

Stranger things have happened.

After enduring a torrid season in 2007, struggling with a car that was as temperamental as a 14 year old and a stomach wrenching complexion to match, it would seem the Honda team have gone just slightly giddy.

we-are-going-to-win-arent-we-ross.jpgIf rumours are true, the Brackley based team is cock-a-hoop over the fact they have managed to snatch former Ferrari technical Director Ross Brawn from the clutches of Ferrari. (Let’s ignore for one moment the fact Ross has mentioned on more than one occasion he planned his escape from Maranello as far back as 2004 – perhaps he should have asked Nigel Stepney to smuggle him out it would have been quicker) Meanwhile Honda has now gone back to their old ways of counting chickens before they have hatched. 1,2, 3…

Honda CEO Nick Fry has gone on record recently as saying he sees no reason why the team will not be able to start off their 2008 campaign pretty much on a level with their performance at the end of the 2006 season. Theoretically there is nothing wrong with making such assumptions, but we can’t help wondering if Honda are putting foot firmly in mouth yet again by making the statements publicly before they have even got their new challenger out on the tarmac. After all at the beginning of 2007, they were predicting challenging for the championship…and look how that turned out. With Honda only managing to win one prize, that of most ridiculous paint job on a shopping trolley. If in doubt it’s best to stop crowing to all and sundry from the rooftops, as Ron Integrity Dennis will be able to tell you, lest you have to make a grovelling apology later on and really do look like a prize turkey (albeit a very bald one).

Here at FFN we can partially understand Honda’s enthusiasm at having Uncle-Cuddly-Bear-Banana-Man-Brawn whip them into shape, after all he did a decent job of sorting out those “irrational screaming hysterical Italians” down at Ferrari. But really we feel they would be better off concentrating on shaving off that alarming ginger bird’s nest that seems to have firmly ensconced itself on Jenson’s chin. After all that thing has got to have some negative effect not only on the car’s handling performance, but on the morale of the poor Mechanics that have to look at it weekend in and out. (At least Alonso’s raised a few giggles).

It remains to be seen if the Brackley team have finally got to grips with their wind tunnel gremlins and produced a better car for the 2008. One thing we can’t help pondering here at FFN, is whether some of Honda’s new found enthusiasm and cheery attitude could be a result of passing on their lame dog of a car for 2007 to the poor Super Aguri team, who will have to pay for the dubious pleasure. In which case we fully endorse Sato taking out just about every passing car he can in a destruction derby. We can only hope in the following days we may here some good news on behalf of the Super Aguri team, and hopefully find out if Ant Davidson has kept his race seat.

tadashi.jpgMeanwhile Ross Brawn apparently has a two-year plan for turning Honda’s fortunes around, which coincidentally is the same time limit Toyota’s Team Principal Tadashi Yamashina has been given before Toyota pull the plug and see their F1 plans go swirling down the toilet.

Despite the biggest budget of all F1 teams (most of which was presumably paid to the other Schumacher brother by mistake) the Toyota team have failed to impress in the 6 year history in F1.

Yamashina has confirmed that their efforts will be concentrated on improving in two areas: aerodynamics and operationally. According to recent reports, Toyota officials are claiming that their 2008 car will be 2.2 seconds faster – but they didn’t confirm if they meant faster than last years vehicle or faster than the warp speed in which the FIA slapped a libel law suit on an ill advised journalist for voicing his opinion. If FFN suddenly goes off air, please come and storm the basement of FIA headquarters in Paris – otherwise I could be forced to eat my own arm off.

Meanwhile Toyota’s Jarno Trulli has been quoted as saying that is he looking forward to driving against a challenging team mate for a change (Timo Glock). When asked if he was making a snide remark regarding his previous team mate Ralf Schumacher, the Italian refused to elaborate lest he incriminated himself. Rumours in the Schumacher camp are suggesing Ralfie is plotting a return to F1 in 2009 after a sabbatical (it didn’t harm Ross did it?) although we cannot ascertain if there is any truth in suggestions that Ralfie has petitioned big brother to buy him an F1 team just in case he can’t get in at Force 1 India.

Going back somewhat to the subject of toilets, Ferrari’s Nick Tombazis has recently moved to deny there has been any dissent in the Ferrari camp regarding their new Champ Kimi Raikkonen. According to Tombazis, there has never been any question marks over Kimi’s head (apart from when can he leave to get to the bar) and that Kimi although very quiet, when he does pipe up apparently says “significant things”. We only hope the significant things he is talking about include excellent technical feedback on the car and do not include detailed descriptions of his bowel habits, as mentioned some time ago at the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2006.

a-vision-in-grey.jpgWorryingly, we have just heard some disturbing news regarding McLaren’s new charge Heikki Kovaleinen. The chirpy Finn has reportedly been seen with a pair of grey underpants on his head, walking around in circles in Woking, claiming that it was his “childhood dream to drive for McLaren”.

Additionally the poor mite is reported to be muttering about staying with the team long term and the possiblity of enjoying equal treatment to Lamppost Lewis. We really do hope this strange malaise lifts soon, otherwise we may be forced to send Professor Sid Watkins in to investigate…assuming he can fit inside McLaren’s tiny garages at the end of the pitlane of course.

Stayed Tuned….Part 3 coming soon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forza Ferrari!

Unless you have been very luckily sunbathing in the Maldives and a cajillion miles away from those infernal contraptions known as the TV set, you will no doubt be aware that this weekend just gone was the Italian Grand Prix.

Suffice to say it is terribly difficult to find any form of amusement from a difficult weekend that witnessed Ferrari getting a good drubbing on home turf by the McLaren team. Apart from the vague sense of enjoyment to be had from using your air-horn to deafen the McCheat fan in grey sat next to you, or watching Ron Dennis blub like a 6 year old girl when his team won. Presumably Ron was practising in earnest for this Thursday (Sept 13th) and the World Motorsport Council (I can live in hope).

The weekend began pretty much as it would continue, with the spying scandal dominating the attention of all. The grandstands of Monza Park were plastered with plenty of relevant banners and posters, presumably the tifosi venting their spleens on the subject…. Rather than one of our Nige’s advertising campaigns.

freef2008plansforyou.jpg

One such Banner reading “get your F2008 plans here” conveniently hung up within spitting distance of the McLaren pits should they have time to stop for a sandwich and to pop across the pitlane for a perusal.

Anyway before we get lost in the politics which will no doubt be a big feature of this week’s motorsport news we should perhaps actually talk about the on track action…well what there was of it.

Qualifying

With McLaren pretty much dominating the Monza test the week before, and much of the free practice sessions leading up to Saturday, it was always going to be an uphill battle for the Maranello Squad to get their cars on the front row of the grid.

In the morning free practice, Kimi Raikkonen did not help matters by sticking his car headfirst into the barriers at the entry to Ascari. Much debate then ensued as to whether the car had suffered some sort of mechanical failure or if in truth the Kimster had been caught napping again. Ferrari later confirming that Kimi had lost control of the car under braking on a bump in the road.

recovered-kimis-damaged-car.jpgUnconfirmed rumours from the pitlane later suggesting no one else could see this mysterious bump.

The truth of the matter (apparently) much to the embarrassment of the Ferrari team was that the Finn not used to actually finishing races let alone anything else from his time at McLaren, had dropped his road map in the footwell of the F2007, and as he bent down to retrieve it lest he got lost, he failed to notice a banana skin lying innocently in the road (presumably dropped there by Ross Brawn last year).

The team then had to set about changing the engine over to the T car chassis for the qualifying session to enable Kimi to go out again.

In qualifying Ferrari never quite seemed to have the pace of the McLaren team, as has been the case quite a lot this year. We can’t help but wondering if this is because McLaren are in possession of Ferrari’s magic bible, and the Ferrari team don’t seem to know their bottoms from their elbows without it, let alone which end of the car is which. So can they have it back please Mr.Ron?

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso stormed to a dominant pole ahead of his team-mate Lewis Lovechild, leaving Ferrari trailing in 3rd and 5th spot respectively. Not a good position to be stuck in really for Kimi, as being behind BMW-Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld on the grid would mean he wouldn’t be able to see much of the pit straight at all behind that voluminous facial fuzz.

italian-police-outside-mclaren.jpgThe McLaren team displaying dominant form despite apparently receiving a friendly visit from the Modena Magistrates who thought they’d pop in for a tour, a cup of tea and a friendly chinwag with the team prior to qualifying starting.

McLaren later issuing a press statement on Sunday declaring the move had been orchestrated to disrupt their on track preparations. Subsequently McLaren’s CEO Ron Dennis admitted that the magistrates had been “very polite and discreet”.

Presumably very alarming behaviour for the likes of Ron when your used to being under siege for being a bunch of ‘cheats’ and have your two drivers perpetually shouting the odds at each other across the garage and flouncing off in huffs every other weekend.

Down at Honda revisions to their planetary nightmare seem to have started paying off with Jenson Button for once making the top ten final shootout. Either that or the entire lack of gravity needed at Monza suited their hippy tree hugging earth dream better than usual.

Red Bull’s David Coulthard joined Ralf Schumacher in the previous GP winners hall of shame, after losing the back end of his car ahead of the first chicane in the first qualifying session putting paid to any further action for the afternoon.

Yet another disastrous qualifying session doing not much to further the F1 career of the other Schumacher brother, who would have us believe he is quite confident of keeping his seat for next year. Right pull the other one, last time we heard such twaddle it was from the mouth of Ron Dennis saying his team would be completely exonerated in the spying/letter writing debacle.


The Race

With the two McLaren’s locking out the front row for Sunday’s race, Ferrari had to do something to get back on terms with their bitterest rivals on race day to save a bit of face at home in front of their gloriously partisan fanclub. (Personally a packet of thumbtacks on their grid slots would have done the trick I feel).

monzathestart.jpgAs the lights went out Ferrari’s ickle Felipe Massa looked like he was going to snatch second spot off of Lovechild Lewis going into the first chicane, only for Lewis to have a go at punting Massa off track to get it back again.

As McLaren’s Nando (happy as Larry) Alonso lead Lewis, Flippin ‘ell Felipe, Beardy-chops and the Roll-mop chewing Snoozemeister around the opening lap, Red Bull’s David Coulthard yet again was off track this time parking his vehicle neatly in Curva Grande, apparently as a result of a front wing failure.

Here at FFN we are thinking it’s got to be worth going down the betting shop and put a bet on for both Red Bull’s to actually finish a race without a technical failure at some point. As the odds you’d get, going off their season’s reliability so far have to be pretty darned reasonable really. Perhaps if the team stopped drinking all that taurine and being so darned well jittery when they put the car together they might actually get to the end of a race? Just a thought.

As a result of Mr.Magoo’s neat parking trick at Curva Grande, the safety car was deployed giving the backmarkers a chance to catch up with the big guns at the front.

On lap 6 the safety car was brought in, and the ‘race’ was back on again.

felipe-rejoins-track-after-unscheduled-pitstop.jpgA few laps later ickle Felipe seemed to be driving around very slowly, initially we presumed he had slowed down and was looking for his dummy lost somewhere out on the Parabolica but by all appearances all was not happy as the diminutive Brazilian came into the pitlane.

After a quick refuel and tyre change Felipe was sent out on his way again only to return to the garage and retire a lap later due to a suspension failure of some sort.

We don’t really see why Nigel ‘Steppers’ felt the need to apparently sabotage the F2007 before Monaco, given that the Ferrari team seem to be doing a stirling job of messing it up all on their own this season. (I know I’m being a bit harsh – I love them all really).

Felipe then sat about in the garage pouting and doing his best to look petulant anytime the camera’s flashed in his direction. As he might, given that this retirement has effectively put paid to his championship challenge for the season unless the FIA are feeling particularly vindictive towards the McCheats on Thursday at the convening of the WMSC.

Meanwhile, the only real excitement on track was happening between the Honda of Jenson Button and the Williams of flaxen-haired golden boy Nico Rosberg, who were having a tantalising duel swapping places at every given opportunity.

Out front Fandango and Louie were trading fastest laps and scampering away, leaving Kimi trailing behind rather pitifully. Either the Kimster was on a one-stop strategy and heavily fuelled or he kept mistaking the brake pedal for the accelerator. In all fairness the Kimster was apparently struggling all race from excruciating neck pain as a result of his accident in free practice, but we cant help feeling if you don’t keep your wits about you and look out for discarded banana skins you only have yourself to blame.

On lap 18 second placed man Lewis Hamilton came in for the first of his pitstops, followed two laps later by his team mate Nando. Presumably McLaren having learnt their lesson from Hungary that two many drivers in the pitbox is akin to a spanner in the works or some such proverb. Meanwhile the Kimster took the lead of the race, coming into pit just four laps later for his one and only pitstop but was unable to maintain track position over the McLaren duo.

michaelatmonza.jpgHowever, unfortunately this time the strategy did not pan out as expected and the Kimster could not keep up with the scintillating pace of his rivals, slipping back too far to be able to challenge them for the win.

Nothing to do with the fact a certain frightening fashionista by the name of Michael Schumacher had been spotted lurking around the Ferrari team over the weekend was it? one too many flowery shirts and dodgy cowboy hats and boots is enough to put anyone off what they were doing…now where was I? No wonder poor Kimi looks like a perpetually slapped haddock.

Meanwhile down at Renault Giancarlo Fisichella was languishing down in 13th after overtaking the Super Aguri of Ant Davidson, his poor start position apparently the fault of Rubens Barrichello who felt the need to go off track and rejoin just in front of the verbose Italian just when he was doing his fastest qualifying lap. Rumour has it Fissyfella was still whimpering and whining about the unfairness of it all 24 hours later.

By lap 30, the Kimster was lapping over 1.2 second slower than race leader Fernando Alone-so and was being rapidly caught and put under pressure by Nick Heidfeld in the BMW-Sauber. Presumably the only thing keeping the Kimster in front of the German was the improved aerodynamic flow around his car due to a lack of a bird’s nest on his chin.

At the end of lap 39 Lewis Hamilton came into the pits for his second stop, only to rejoin the track some seconds later behind the Ferrari of the Kimster much to the delight of the fans in the Grandstands. But it wasn’t to last, being on fresher tyres Lewis was able to outbrake the Ferrari into the first chicane and zoom past the Kimster, who still seemed to be peering into the footwell of his F2007 presumably still looking for his circuit map in order to find out where the drinks stand was.

Meanwhile race leader Nando was 7 seconds ahead of Lewis and looking to all appearances to be firmly on his way to the chequered flag having given his younger illustrious team mate a bit of a lesson.

monzapodium1.jpgFrom this point in nothing much of import or interest occurred (not if you are a tifosi at any rate), with McLaren coming over the line to take a much-needed morale boosting 1-2 on Ferrari’s home turf. Ron sobbed like a girl, and Ferrari snuck off to lick their wounds and regroup for the Belgian GP in Spa this weekend.

It remains to be seen if McLaren will still actually be in the championship come Thursday afternoon, or if they will be thrown out by the FIA for having sticky mitts.

Whatever happens we do hope here at FFN they can race in Spa, just so Ferrari can have another chance at giving them a good trouncing….and if they don’t it will be back to gibbering like an idiot and hiding under the duvet again.

Forza Ferrari.

icklefelipe1.jpgIf you are anything like us here at FFN (no I’m not suggesting your half-baked) you will no doubt have been as pleased at punch this last weekend that the Formula 1 finally returned to some on-track action in Istanbul, Turkey after 3 weeks off.

It’s not that we don’t find the daily changes in Lewis Hamilton’s love life fascinating, or the neverending contradictory press statements that seem to fall out of Nando’s mouth for that matter either, but well its finally good to be able to talk about some racing rather than what is going on over at McLaren’s Multi-million pound Creche.

Suffice to say we are chuffed to bits that Ferrari finally managed to pull their crayons out and give McLaren a good on-track thrashing (as opposed to the vebal media/courtroom type stuff), although no doubt if your a McLaren fan (yes those mythical creatures…we aren’t terribly sure if they exist either) the Turkish Grand Prix on sunday will have been a bit of a let down.

As is quite often the case these days, the race order was pretty much decided the previous day in qualifying when ickle Felipe managed to snatch pole position from the sticky mitts of Lewis Lovechild.

The Kimster had been looking like he was going to get pole, but unfortunately the flying finn got slightly distracted in turn 13 and made a slight mistake, presumably because he was too busy gawping like a slapped haddock at a poster for a new flavour of Finlandia Vodka. However Kimi was adamant he would rather have qualified third than second, as starting on the clean side of the grid meant he wouldn’t have to get any dust on his beer goggles.

the-slug-on-the-upperlip-look.jpgMcLaren’s Double World Champion Nando only managed to secure 4th spot in qualifying, despite threatening earlier on to set a fast time, but unfortunately the Spaniard made a slightly baffling tyre choice for his last run. Nando went out on the harder compound despite everyone else opting for the opposite and subsequently was unable to improve on his time. We can only wonder if he lost all his common sense when he lost that hilarious beard and ‘tache.

Star of the day (apart from Felipe for pole) had to go to Super Aguri’s Ant Davidson for managing to drag his car up into 11th spot, narrowly missing out on getting into the final top ten shoot out. Well at least he managed to keep it out of the gravel trap for a change, much to the palpable relief of his mechanics.

Toyota’s Ralf Schumacher who is currently struggling to hold onto his drive for next year, helped his cause no end by serially underachieving yet again and could only manage a meagre 18th spot which is pretty poor for one of the “top three” as he terms himself.

On Race Day, once proceedings got under way the Kimster was able to redeem himself at the start shooting past the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton to take up second position behind team mate ickle Felipe. Meanwhile Nando went slightly backwards down the grid with both the BMW-Sauber’s of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica barging past to relegate him down into 6th spot.

the-ferraris.jpgThis pretty much set the tone for the race, Ferrari leading out front and McLaren never really finding an answer on track, despite the fact Ron Dennis is insisting now McLaren could have easily beaten Ferrari if they had caught us. Presumably then they thought they would just let us have this one out of the kindness of their hearts. Bless.

Mark Webber must be wondering what on earth was wrong with his crystal ball, as he must be rueing the day he ever signed for Red Bull. The Aussie yet again having to retire due to gearbox problems for the umpteenth time this year, personally I reckon he should insist on having an automatic car…might be less troublesome.

Meanwhile the Honda cars were battling on track with Rubens receiving a radio call from his engineer reporting that according to Jense he was 2 seconds a lap faster. Rubens response was something to the effect “Don’t make me laugh!”. We can assure you Rubens the dire performance of Honda is no laughing matter, however that slightly comedic goatee you were sporting throughout the weekend is a different matter entirely.

Not long after the first round of pitstops ensued, Raikonnen coming in followed by Massa a lap later. McLaren this weekend having set out two pitboxes just in case their wayward driving duo insisted on coming in together to refuel and reboot. The Ferrari’s were sent out again on their way with the softer tyres (as they had started with) while McLaren went out on the harder tyres…which no doubt they would be lamenting later on as the Ferrari’s galloped away.

Despite being a great track for overtaking, this race was a bit processional and we did struggle in parts not to fall asleep so we haven’t the faintest how Kimi managed not to. In the latter stage of the race Kimi was able to catch up with ickle Felipe and looked like he might be able to challenge the dimunitive Brazilian to a bit of wheelbanging action, unfortunately though the mighty duel did not materialise and we were left to slip back into our comatose state.

At the second round of pitstops Kimi thought he might play a bit of a practical joke on his pitcrew and stopped a few metres short of his pitbox, meaning the poor little italians had to jump up hotfoot it to his car and set to work like an army of ants who had been on too much caffeine.

flailing-about.jpgThe highlight of the race then occured. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton’s right front tyre deciding it was going to dramatically fall part, gifting Ferrari a few more points over their rivals in the championship battle as the Englishman limped around the track back to the pits with his tyre flailing about all over the place like Nando does in a hissy-fit.

Luckily for Lewis he managed to keep his car out of the wall (take note you Spykers) and got back to his pitbox to receive new tyres despite having received some damage to the front wing of his car. Nando was thus able to snatch third spot from his team mate, but Lewis fortunately managed to keep it all together and bring home his car in fifth place to score four points.

In the closing laps Kimi set the fastest lap of the race which is becoming his trademark this season, however here at FFN we are left wondering when he is going to actually a) do it in qualifying and b) string multiple fastest laps together and actually get on with winning some races…which is presumably what Ferrari are paying him stupid sums of money for.

All in all the Turkish Grand Prix was a rather boring race, but great to see Felipe and Kimi bringing home a 1-2 result for the Maranello boys keeping their championship hopes very much alive….despite Keke Rosberg’s claims to the contrary.

Forza Ferrari.

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