Heidfeld Underrated

There's always been something I like about Nick Heidfeld.  I think he is underrated as a driver. Now he's been insulted by some bloke from Toyota.
"With him, we would not improve," Team President Howett recently told Sport Bild.Howett's comments follow the speculation that the Cologne based squad might be contemplating signing Heidfeld - who has an expiring BMW Sauber contract - as a replacement for the embattled Ralf Schumacher in 2008 and beyond.
But even though it appears that Heidfeld can now strike the Japanese team off his list of potential suitors, he refused to rise to the bait of firing back at the hugely-financed outfit that in nearly six years has failed to win a Grand Prix. Heidfeld said: "I know what I can do.  I would rather keep driving quickly than try to respond with my mouth."
Yeah, keep paying the under performing duo of Schumacher and Trulli. That's been working out well for you.

Credit Yahoo F1 for the quote.


Beer with Fernando

F1 champ Fernando Alonso is third on a list of people Spaniards would most like to have a beer with.
The 25-year-old attracted 5.9 per cent of a vote published by the Ipsos News Center, on behalf of the Spanish beer producers association.Alonso was beaten to the top spot by Spanish actress Penelope Cruz, with six per cent, and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who got the nod from 11.8% of the respondents.
Most people surveyed want to drink with the prime minister? Why?

Credit Yahoo F1 for the quote.

Michael Schumacher to Appear!

This news report makes Michael Schumacher's appearance at the French Grand Prix sound fantasmagorical:
Multiple world champion, Michael Schumacher has confirmed that he will attend the French Grand Prix on July what looks set to be his first appearance at a Formula 1 race weekend, since he retired at the end of last year. The German has agreed to visit Magny Cours in order to support the Institute for Cerebral and Medullar Disorders ICM), an organisation which studies and looks into treatments for neurological diseases, psychiatric illnesses and traumas to the brain and spinal cord.
It's so sad that the great world champion has been reduced to charity worker.

Credit Yahoo F1 for the quote.

Renault Gives Up

It's being reported that Renault is already working on it's 2008 entry.
"We are already working on next year's car," team boss Flavio Briatore revealed. "Whatever we discover on this project, we can eventually use it on the current car."
This year's car is a lost cause.  By the way, I think Kovalinen needs a chance to show his talent and this year's car has not let him do that.

Credit Yahoo F1 for the quote.


The Disappointing and Overpaid

Ralf Schumacher is likely to stay at Toyota due to some convoluted formula involving saving face and what former team principals want.  I can't explain it, so here:
Ex-head of research Norbert Kreyer was fired in late 2004, but he says struggling Schumacher will almost certainly not follow him through the door later in 2007 because it will mean team President John Howett loses face. 
 Kreyer said he advised his Toyota superiors in 2004 to sign Nick Heidfeld to drive for the team in 2005 and beyond. "But Howett resisted with all of his effort," he told Sport Bild.  "Instead, he wanted a big name, which played right into the hands of Ralf's former manager Willi Weber. "Kreyer said it is therefore 'obvious' that Howett is still resisting his colleagues' affection for Heidfeld and still supportive of Schumacher, who so far in 2007 has failed to match the pace of team-mate Jarno Trulli.
That's clear as mud.

Credit Yahoo F1 for the quote.

Al Unser Jr.: Not Guilty

A lawyer for Al Unser Jr has filed a not guilty plea in his drunk driving charge in Nevada:
Unser, of Henderson, did not appear before Justice of the Peace Stephen George, who set trial for July 11. "There's a chance it might get resolved before that date," Unser's lawyer, Andrew Leavitt, said after the brief court hearing.  Leavitt declined to address circumstances surrounding Unser's Jan. 25 arrest. 
The Nevada Highway Patrol said Unser was driving a black Ford Excursion when it sideswiped a Mazda sedan that crashed into a cement median on the Las Vegas Beltway. The driver of the Mazda reported no injuries at the scene, the NHP said.  A witness followed Unser's vehicle before Henderson police stopped it a short time later near the Black Mountain Country Club, about 12 miles southeast of the Las Vegas Strip. The NHP said the 45-year-old Unser failed field sobriety tests before he was charged with driving under the influence, misdemeanor hit and run, failure to render aid in an accident and failure to report an accident.
Unser Jr. was caught beating up a woman while drunk in Indianapolis in 2002.  Not surprisingly, he was not charged.

Credit The Las Vegas Sun for the quote.

Toyota Motorsport Head to Step Down

63 year-old Tsutomu Tomita will step down as Toyota Team Principal after June of this year. Current Toyota Motorsport vice-chairman Tadashi Yamashina will be taking his place.
"Since 2000 I have been involved in Toyota's F1 project, which has been one of the most challenging and exciting periods of my career," Tomita noted, "In fact, the detailed preparation for entry into F1 started more than four years before we entered our first race.  I would like to thank all of those involved in Toyota,  at our sponsors and, of course, at Toyota Motorsport who have welcomed, helped and encouraged me as I have faced this challenge. "Despite Toyota's less than sparkling first few years in F1 Tomita remains confident that success will come eventually.
We wish him well in the future.

Credit Yahoo F1 for the quote.

Break Too Long

BMW chief Mario Theissen says the current four week break is too long for this time of the F1 season.
The boss of the Swiss-German squad BMW Sauber echoed the sentiment of the majority of F1's traveling circus, which argues that such a long break would be better suited for a point later in the season, when it makes more sense to have a rest. The gap in the calendar emerged after Imola lost its provisional spot. "Four weeks is too long," Theissen said. "Three would have been better."
If Bernie would just quit screwing with the schedule things would be better.  The schedule used to remain the same for a few years at a time.  Recently, it seems like it's being changed every year.

Credit Yahoo F1 for the quote.

Not Twisted

The rumors are circulating again that Champ Car champion Sebastian Bourdais may have a F1 ride next year.  Now he's linked with a seat at Toro Rosso.
Having tested with Scuderia Toro Rosso over the winter, reports in America suggest that the former Renault protoge could be in line for a second outing in July, as manager Nicolas Todt pushes for his inclusion in the top flight next season.
Speculation suggested that Toro Rosso was interested in taking Bourdais for 2007 after he impressed over three days at Jerez - running less than two seconds from pacesetter Lewis Hamilton despite no recent F1 experience - but the Frenchman was tied to the final year of his Champ Car contract with Newman/Haas.  However, with that deal coming to an end, Todt is understood to be pushing his client's candidature for a ride in F1 although many believe Bourdais' ship to have sailed, having been passed over by the likes of Renault and Williams in past seasons.  Indeed, the Frenchman went as far as officially turning his back on F1 just over a year ago, before relenting in order to accept the Toro Rosso test.
Yes, Nicolas Todt is Ferrari boss Jean Todt's son. As my wife has said, and I agree, Sebastian Bourdais is way too normal to function well in Formula One.  I may be wrong but... Bourdais has won the Champ Car title three times.  He could win this year if he wants to.  The Newman-Hass-Lanigan team is clearly the strongest, most focused team in Champ Car.  Bourdais fits in well there because he's surrounded by purpose-driven, well-adjusted, clean living winners.

If Bourdais goes to Formula One, two things may happen.  One he will be surrounded by whiny, egotistical, finger-pointers and will be corrupted by it.  Or two, he will continue to be his honest, hard working self and will become frustrated by the lack of teamwork and focus and will resign after a couple of seasons.  I like Bourdais.   I like him so much that I don't want to see him ruined by the corrosive atmosphere of F1.

Credit Yahoo F1 for the quote.


Prodrive Customer Car Continued

David Richards and Prodrive enter Formula One next year.  It appears they will run a customer car.  The choice of which car has been narrowed to three:
"If you look at the examples of Honda and Toyota, they have shown just how expensive it is to be successful with their own car. "So we will work with an existing team.  "Recent speculation has linked Prodrive with McLaren, however, Richards concedes he has "three options", with one to be chosen "soon".  His ambitions are clear, though, adding: "I have two conditions - the first is we must be competitive, and at the most in five years also profitable."
Profitable too! Well aren't we optimistic!

Credit Yahoo F1 for the quote.

Schumacher: Hamilton Consistent

Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher thinks McLaren phenom Lewis Hamilton has "a lot of talent".
McLaren's Hamilton recently singled out newly-retired Schumacher as a role model, amid team boss Martin Whitmarsh's claim that the impressive newcomer could go on to succeed Schumacher as the 'greatest ever' driver.  Hamilton's record-setting debut this year was one of the few topics that slipped through the net when Schumacher addressed the media in London this week.  
The former Ferrari driver's press assistant, Sabine Kehm, had explained to reporters before the international press conference that only questions relating to the UN's Global Road Safety Week should be addressed to Schumacher.  However, a noticeably tanned Schumacher obliged an errant journalist by answering:  "Lewis clearly has a lot of talent so it does not surprise me at all that he has been doing very well. "But what has been a real surprise is his consistency."
Credit Yahoo F1 for the quote.

Williams Past Champions

I look back in fondness to the days when Nigel Mansel, Damon Hill, and Jacques Villenueve piloted the mighty Williams to victory.  It seems like those days were so long ago.  Williams was unbeatable.  Now they say they have a plan to return to championship form.
Team Principal and co-owner Sir Frank Williams says the Grove based squad has just begun a 'three to five-year' plan to recapture the sort of competitiveness that allowed his outfit to dominate in the 80s and 90s. "But of course we always want to win," the Briton told Motorsport Aktuell.  
With the Toyota-powered FW29, Williams already appears more competitive than in 2006; a season described by Sir Frank as 'unblinkingly, humiliatingly shocking.  'Chief Designer Ed Wood said:  "We are at the beginning of our recovery.   At the moment we are not thinking about beating Ferrari and McLaren - that will come in a couple of years.   Now we have to build step by step."
Williams does seem to get the most out of the Toyota powerplant. Sir Frank Williams and his long-time partner and chief engineer Patrick Head are probably the last of a breed of gentleman racers that go back to the beginnings of the modern days of Formula One racing. I salute them.

Thanks to Yahoo and F1live.com for the quote.

Making Up The Rules as You Go Along

The FIA looks to make even stricter rules governing "flexible floors".  The unintended consequence of this is to cause teams to raise their car's height.  They would have to raise the cars to eliminate the possibility of undercarriage breaking from running over tall curbs.
The saga first hit the headlines after the Australian Grand Prix, when teams including Ferrari and BMW Sauber were accused of deliberately circumventing the rules to obtain a performance advantage.  The FIA's subsequent clarification affected the design of most Formula One teams' floors, sources said.  But Auto Motor und Sport contends that Ferrari and BMW's original floor designs passed even the stricter test; motivating the FIA to now quadruple the amount of load applied for the new Barcelona tests.  Toyota's Pascal Vasselon says,"Many teams will have to raise their cars quite a lot," he said, "but raising a car by) only a millimetre can mean two per cent less downforce."
If the FIA wants the cars to be run at a higher height, why don't they just mandate that?

Credit Yahoo F1 for the quote.

Lost Team

I get the impression that this year Renault is a lost team.  They lost champion Fernando Alonso and their important tire supplier Michelin.  Another big impact was the ruling against that movable thing in the nose; that mass-damper system.  The handling of the car went to hell after that was banned.  Renault driver Giancarlo Fisichella says everyone is trying their best.
"This is a team that is used to winning races, and we are determined to improve the situation. It is also a team of world champions, that has shown they have what it takes to be the very best during the last two years, so I know we have the strength in depth to turn things around," he stated. "I am confident that we will get to the bottom of our problems, and emerge even stronger."I cannot predict when, that is what we are working on right now. But whatever happens, I will be giving 100 per cent on every lap and driving with maximum motivation. That will not change, whether we are fighting for points or for race wins."
Asked about the season thus far, Fisi conceded that while it has been tough - especially when he thought he might have a shot at the title - it doesn't mean he isn't trying his utmost."I have to say that I have mixed feelings. The car is clearly not performing how we had hoped, so that makes it disappointing because I came into this season believing I had my best chance yet to fight for the title," he continued."But that is a fact of life for us at the moment, so the focus at every race, and every test, has to be on getting the maximum from the car - and performing to our best possible level."
I'm not sure Heikki Kovelinen has gotten a fair chance this year to show his driving

Credit Yahoo F1 for the quote.


Andretti-Green Do Something Right

Tony Kanaan won the geographically challenged Indy Japan 300.  All I have to say is -- it's about time.  Last year's dominance of Penske and Ganassi was making the IRL a real bore.
"This was a race where I had to be patient,'' Kanaan said. "When I started, the car wasn't that good but I knew the track would get better.  By the last stop, I was convinced I could pit and come out and go ahead of Dan and that\'s what happened.''
Let's hope Andretti-Green can make things interesting this year.  Super weirdo Dan Weldon finished second and acted a little pissed about it.
"We were the fastest car but we lost radio contact early on and that cost us,'' said Wheldon, who led for 126 laps. "That's something that should be fixed.  When we are costing ourselves the opportunity to win because of silly mistakes it's very frustrating.''
Hello! Rahal-Letterman are you listening. Let's have some action out of you too.

Credit Yahoo IRL for the quote.

No Regrets

I sure would like to see Michael Schumacher return to racing in some form - either as driver or team owner.  I think he would bring the same competitiveness to any venture he attempted.
"I do not miss the racing driving at the moment at all," he told Bild newspaper. "I live a really good life now.  I am a very happy man.  I have had a very nice time during the last years, but I am definitely having a better time now.""I can arrange my schedule now so that I can spend the school holidays with my children.  This is so nice for us.  I simply have more time at home." After a stellar career, Schumacher said he enjoys watching the races, but had no desire to get back behind the wheel. "I like watching the races on television," he said. "I find it quite amusing now.  It is interesting to see things from the other side.  But I simply watch now to have fun with the family and friends."
All you Americans who want Schumacher to come to NASCAR - give it up!

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

Ron Dennis to Retire

Yeah. I'll believe it when I see it.  Apparently, Ron Dennis has said in the past that he will be stepping aside as the Grand Leader of McLaren.  Now he has restated that he wants to retire.  He's 60 years old and that's not that old.
"I don't see myself continuing to work as hard as I currently do forever, and there are things I want to do that I just wouldn't have the time to do if I were to remain as Chief Executive Officer of the McLaren Group in the long term." Dennis recently sold half of his personal stake in the team to a Bahrain company, and Mercedes' parent company Daimler Chrysler is rumoured to be eyeing the rest.
Ron Dennis is to much of a control freak.  He's just like Bernie Ecclestone and Frank Williams. Too stubborn to retire.  Good for them.

Credit Yahoo for the quote.


Champ Car at Indy?

Robin Miller reported an exciting rumor on Speed TV last night .   It seems that some Champ Car teams would love to run at Indy. I still think Paul Tracy won that race) I'm looking for the text of Miller's comments and can not find them on the unfriendly Speedtv.com.

From what I can recall he said:  Champ Car executive Kevin Kalkhoven told IRL chief Tony George that some Champ Car teams would like to run the Indy 500.  The teams would supply the chassis if the IRL could supply some engines.  Apparently, George has not gotten back to Kalkhoven. Please, someone correct me if you can find the text of Miller's report.  This would be most exciting if it comes to pass but alas, it's not likely.  It appears that the merger talks between the IRL and Champ Car are completely dead:
"The merger is a completely dead issue," said Kalkhoven today.  "I don't think I can summarize it any further than that.  There was a lot of progress made while the talks were quiet.  The moment that it got leaked out, an awful lot of influences came into play who might not have benefited directly from such a unification.   A lot of factors came into play, but basically, you can assume that now and for the foreseeable future, it\'s dead."
That quote from David Phillips and Speedtv.com.

Over Paid and Under Performing

Who else but Ralf Schumacher can get away with such a dismal performance and still keep his job. The rumors have started again.  It seems like every year there's talk that Ralf will be let go.  I have heard he's paid something like 20 million dollars.  For what?
The 31-year-old has struggled to keep up with team-mate Jarno Trulli in the opening races, sparking gossip that the highly-paid winner of six Grand Prix will be left with precious few options to stay on the grid beyond this season.  "I can live with criticism but I'm not interested in irrelevant comments," Schumacher replied. "There is no way it is going to make me nervous.
"His manager Hans Mahr added: "If so-called experts who weren't even at the track assess the situation from a distance, they just lose credibility. "Mahr suggested that some of the criticism is motivated by an 'agenda' to 'confuse things' as negotiations regarding a new contract for Schumacher get set to take place. "We agreed with Toyota quite some time ago that we would get together to talk about a contract) extension towards the middle of the year. And we are sticking to this schedule," he insisted.
Why is Ralf so much slower than his brother?  He blames the car:
Referring to his critics, Schumacher said:  "I will answer on the track as soon as the car is competitive again."
Excuses, excuses. 

Thanks to Yahoo and F1live.com for the quotes.

Not a Surprise

Would a Formula One team hide a mistake that could have caused a tragedy?  I think so.  This report from F1live.com points out the possible scenario:
We have learned that Spyker mechanics almost lost control of a fire that broke out near the back of the team\'s garage at the Sakhir circuit on the Saturday of qualifying. Video footage of the incident shows mechanics scrambling to the scene with fire extinguishers, as huge flames licked dangerously around nearby compressed-air bottles.
Had there been an accident there would have been much hand-wringing and finger-pointing.  Let's hope even the less funded teams like Spyker put safety first over profit.


Team Penske wins in Houston

Team Penske rolls to another victory in the ALMS Lone Star Grand Prix Saturday in Houston. Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas were first, Bryan Herta and Marino Franchitti were second in the Acura. The Audi of Capello and McNish finished third overall and first in their P1 class. Bernhard says he had to push to keep Herta behind him:
"The last 30 minutes were the toughest of my life, I can tell you," Bernhard said. "After the yellow there, I was concentrating so much on the restart warming up the brakes, warming up the tires, I said o, the last 30 minutes you have to push.' You could see the restart was good, and I was able to gain six, seven seconds in front of the 26 Herta/Franchitti) car. 
Then I thought maybe I could slow up a little bit and go slower, but then I caught traffic and he caught back up to me. Then I lost three more seconds on a bad move in traffic and he was there. Then I had to push. In the traffic, nothing is predictable, you just have to go."
With almost a month off, the ALMS cars travel to Salt Lake City, Utah for a race on May 19th.

Thanks to the Houston Chronicle for the quote.

Graham Rahal Places Second

Behind teammate Sebastian Bourdais at the Grand Prix of Huston Champ Car race. It's no secret that I'm a fan of Graham Rahal.  I come from Columbus, Ohio and have followed Bobby Rahal for 30 years.
Bourdais got a little lucky at the end to secure the win.  He went for a pit stop on the 68th lap, while rookie Tristan Gommendy stayed on the track, gambling that he wouldn't have to stop again for fuel.  But Gommendy ran out of gas on lap 87 and stalled as Bourdais glided past.Bourdais cruised to the finish line from there with rookie Graham Rahal, his Newman/Haas/Lanigan teammate, protecting him in second place.  
The 18-year-old Rahal, who skipped his senior prom in Ohio to race in Houston, finished 4.819 seconds behind Bourdais and became the youngest driver in series history to earn a podium finish.
Get used to seeing Rahal on the podium.  Bourdais should get used to seeing him in his rearview mirror.

Thanks to Yahoo for the quote.


Castroneves on Pole

Helio Castroneves is on pole for the Indy Japan 300.  Driving a Honda, Castroneves reached speeds in excess of 205 MPH at the Motegi oval.
"The car made a very good lap,'' Castroneves said.  "That's the best I could go for sure.  There was no way I could push it any harder. ''Castroneves will start from the front of the grid for the second straight year.  Last year, he beat Dan Wheldon by 6.3851 seconds for his first win in Japan. 
Wheldon, who won here in 2004 and 2005, was second fastest in Friday's qualifying with a lap of 26.6744 and will join Castroneves on the front row. "I'm a little disappointed,'' Wheldon said.  "I don't think I got everything out of the car today.  It's frustrating because this is a season where I want to be dominant. ''The 200-lap Indy Japan 300 is the only IndyCar Series race staged outside of the United States.
The race is on ESPN Saturday at 3:00pm.

Thanks for the quotes Yahoo!


100 Wins for Dallara

The Dallara chassis in the Indy Racing League will claim it's 100th victory in this Sunday's Bridgestone Indy Japan 300 race.  It looks like Dallara is set to celebrate:
"To achieve 100 victories has taken an enormous effort over the years and has included many hours of dedicated design study, aerodynamic research, track testing and close liaison with our customers," said Andrea Toso, head of research and development for Dallara.
The chassis has won both the Indy 500 and the IndyCar Championship.

Thanks to Yahoo IRL for the quote.

A Special Fourth Place

BMW chief Mario Theissen calls the fourth place in Bahrain, "special".
"We are very happy about this result," confirms Theissen. "On the one hand, it was just another fourth place.  But it was also a very special fourth place because it was the first time we were able to match the speed of the top teams. "The fact that Nick Heidfeld managed to overtake world champion Fernando Alonso on the track provides Theissen with a further good reason for optimism. "Nick was the only driver out of the top six who overtook competitively on the track.  That is why it was very special and our strongest performance so far."
He also says the top teams are looking over their shoulders with a concern for BMW.

Thanks to f1technical .net for the quote.

Sensible Words

Sensible words from Toyota's Ralf Schumacher, there are no easy answers, just hard work.   That's the kind of attitude that gets things done.  No blame, no finger pointing, just let's get down to work.  Ralf says them main area for improvement is in the aero package:
Ralf concedes that they are not doing as well as they want:  "Clearly, where we are now is not where we want to be," he noted, when asked to assess the teams start to 2007. "But, saying that, we have generally been qualifying in the top 10 and scoring points. We've also had decent reliability and good strategy, so the factory and the race team are doing a strong job. "What we need now is just a bit of extra performance and hopefully we can deliver that soon. "As for if they can close the gap to the top three, Ralf added that while it won't be easy they 'have' to do it."It's a case of getting the best out of the package we have and optimizing everything," he summed-up.
Perhaps with the long gap between now and the next race Toyota can make some improvements.  The problem is all the teams hope to make improvements in this off time.

Thanks to Yahoo for the quotes.



34-year-old Milka Duno has tested an IRL car at Kansas Motor Speedway.
Duno: "I didn't realize how different this was going to be, but I just cut to the chase,'' Duno said.  "I'm still learning, of course -- this was my first test -- but I am a fast learner, also.  This is an advantage, to adjust quickly to changes and take the opportunities you have. ''The biggest change, she said, is adjusting to the high speeds involved in open-wheel racing on ovals.  "You're going over 200 all the time,'' she said.  "When you feel the car starting to slide a little bit, not to have nerves but to control the situation -- that's something very tough.''
Putting Duno, who has limited racing experience, in an Indy Car has been controversial.

Thanks to Yahoo for the Duno quotes.

Paul Tracy Injured

Former champion Paul Tracy will be out for at least a few months after sustaining a back injury in practice for the Long Beach Grand Prix.
Tracy:  "This is obviously a very unfortunate situation; it's really a shame because it pretty much ruins the championship for us this year,'' Tracy said after returning to the track.  "I'm very disappointed for the whole team because we had gotten off to a great start in Vegas (finishing second) and we were pretty strong here.  We were building momentum and just hoping to be fast and consistent the whole year.
The Canadian driver said he had no indication of any trouble until the car snapped around when he got back on the throttle after driving through turn one. "I went head on into the wall and then the car jumped up in the air and then slammed back on the ground,'' he said. "I could tell something was wrong right away."
Tracy was replaced by Oriol Servia who finished an amazing second on Sunday.

How Long?

How long until Lewis Hamilton starts to believe the media hype about him is true?  I hope he doesn't read the paper, listen to the radio or watch TV.  McLaren chief Martin Whitmarsh says Hamilton could be better than Fangio and Schumacher:
"It's too early to analyse but if the trend continues there is no reason why he could not become the greatest driver ever," Whitmarsh told the Guardian. "What I'm seeing so early in this man's career is remarkable."
Whitmarsh laid out the criteria he believed separated the elite from the "simply good or average". "Firstly, you obviously need the natural skill," he said. "Secondly, you require a considerable degree of natural toughness. "Thirdly, some technical empathy is a major benefit because it helps a driver to integrate better with his engineers, which in turn speeds up the car development progress. "Finally there is fitness, determination and application.
Even over their cornflakes the top guys are always thinking what they can do to improve their own performances." It is almost as if they have some special genetic capability.  Lesser drivers don't do this, possibly because they aren't smart enough, aren't committed enough or simply don't care."
Tell the other drivers in Formula One they aren't committed enough.

Thanks BBC Sport.

Bridgestone Complaining

It's sooo hard to get all this valuable media exposure by being the sole tire supplier in Formula One. Don't you feel sorry for us. (stomps foot) It's too hard! Says Kees van de Grint, Bridgestone's Head of Track Engineering Operations for F1:
"I think people underestimate how much work is required when you are the sole supplier, especially as you want to maintain a high and fair level of service.  I was working with Ferrari for six years when Bridgestone won four world championships; that was a tough job.  But now I am looking after 11 teams, it is much tougher.  Along with everyone else at Bridgestone, I am spending more hours at the circuit than ever before."
Much of the increased workload is thanks to a rule change that sees Friday's practice at each grand prix increased to two ninety-minute sessions, the teams being free from the engine restrictions that severely limited their running in the past.
That's funny.  I don't feel sorry for Bridgestone in the least.

Thanks to F1 Technical for the quote.


Racing for Charity

I love to see race teams and top drivers lend their names and prestige to charity events.  Adrian Fernandez is helping out Habitat for Humanity. His ALMS team is donating 10% of this years winnings to this cause.
"Today was the second Habitat for Humanity build that I have participated in," said Fernandez, who last raced on the streets of Houston in 2001.  "This is just a tremendous program with people coming together to help families in need to build their own homes and I can see why Habitat has a special place in so many hearts at Lowe's. "This has struck a note with me personally, and I am very happy to announce that Lowe's Fernandez Racing will be supporting Habitat for Humanity by donating a percentage of our prize money from every ALMS race. 
 It is a great motivation for everyone on our team to do their best to help a great program. Our participation in the build today was to help spread the word about Habitat for Humanity and to encourage people to get involved and volunteer.  I am looking forward to doing more builds as we tour the country with the ALMS race schedule."
It makes me want to root for Fernandez Racing this weekend.

Thanks to Motorsport.com for this quote.

Four Week Break

After back-to-back race weekends, the Formula One community takes a four week break before Spain on May 13th.  It's pretty amazing to have a three way points tie for first place.  It will be interesting to see how the different teams adjust given the time off.
The next few weeks will see all the teams hard at work, testing and developing their cars and hoping to make big steps forward in performance."For all the teams, you would imagine that from this race to the next race is when you would expect the largest incremental improvement during the season," said McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh at the weekend."The car is still young and very much at the start of its development cycle. We've got a four-week break and the opportunity to test in Barcelona."Everyone who is doing their job will improve their car between now and then."McLaren lead Ferrari by five points in the constructors' standings and both teams can see substantial performance gains to be made before their next appearance at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Spain will be the home race for McLaren's Fernando Alonso. You can be sure his home crowd will provide robust support:
Ron Dennis: "Going to Spain we have every intention of making it a two horse race (between Alonso and Hamilton). "Spain will be Alonso's home race and the flowing and familiar Circuit de Catalunya is also far more to his liking than the hard braking characteristics of Bahrain. "This race (Bahrain) is so unique and it was complicated by wind and sand contamination, so it had all sorts of things making it difficult for the drivers," said Dennis."Don't read too much into this result), one way or another.  I think the true level of competitiveness, team to team, will start to unfold over the next three or four races."
Thanks to Reuters and Yahoo for these quotes.

In Other News

There's always a lot of interesting news from further down the grid.  We just never seem to hear about it.  It seems like Ferrari, McLaren and Hamilton have sucked all the air out of the room when it come to F1 news.

For example -Red Bull Racing's veteran driver David Coulthard says despite the poor showing in Bahrain, the Red Bull team has progressed while the Renault team has fallen back in performance.
The Scot said he took heart in Red Bull's progress since winter testing, after the Milton-Keynes built car looked genuinely a match for struggling champions Renault in Bahrain. He explained : "As quickly as they have gone backwards we have gone forwards. "Coulthard said Red Bull's goal for the next few races is to finally score some points and become the fourth force on the grid, after proving quicker than big outfits like Toyota and Honda so far this year. "We have to be realistic and as painful as it is parking the car, I'd rather park the car having had a good race rather than what we had last year," he said.
I think it's dangerous for other teams to underestimate Renault's ability to bounce back from this slump.

Number One Driver

It's always been a big question in Formula One - Does a team that supports one of it's drivers over the other have an advantage over its rivals?

For example, would Ferrari have a better chance of defeating McLaren for the World Championship if the team were to get behind Filipe Massa?  Would McLaren have a better chance if it were to support Fernando Alonso over Lewis Hamilton?

Right now it appears that all drivers on both teams are being equally supported. No one seems to be getting favorable treatment.  It's not obvious anyway. Massa thinks Ferrari will be choosing a "primary" driver later in the year:
"I think we will not see any decision until the championship is almost done," said the Brazilian, "so I think the team has to work like we are doing now with both drivers, trying to put both cars in front of McLaren. 
"The message out of McLaren, however, was even clearer, as sensational rookie Lewis Hamilton made history by becoming the first ever driver to finish his first three grands prix on the podium. Asked if he has the same chance as world champion teammate Fernando Alonso to go for the ultimate prize, he said on Sunday :  "Yeah, absolutely, I don't see why not.  I have the same car and I seem to be as competitive as him, and I feel a lot more comfortable now that a win is going to be possible."  
After the 22-year-old genuinely outperformed Alonso in Bahrain, McLaren's chief executive Martin Whitmarsh agreed that Hamilton is "now a serious title challenger". "He'll want to go better now and win a race," Whitmarsh added. "I don't think anybody doubts that he will do that this season."
I wonder how Alonso likes his new teammate?

Thanks Yahoo.


I May Be Wrong

I may be wrong about Kimi Raikkonen and Filipe Massa.  Massa may be the one with the drive and guts to win the championship and Raikkonen may be the one who is timid and shy of risk-taking to the point of losing.
Massa: Massa was on it throughout the weekend in Bahrain and led practically from start-to-finish after starting from pole. Furthermore despite coming under pressure from Lewis Hamilton early on and towards the end, the Brazilian kept his cool, setting the fastest lap of the race near the end, en-route to the third win of his career. "A great result and it's nice that we now have a long break during which I can enjoy thinking about it," he noted.  "After the first two races did not go so well for me, we put everything together today.  The team did a great job today in terms of the strategy and the car set-up and everything else.  But I will dedicate this win to my girlfriend Raffaela who has had to be very patient with me this weekend!
"Raikkonen: The Finn, who started from third on grid, lost out to McLaren's Fernando Alonso at the start and after that was never in a position to challenge his team-mate, Felipe Massa for the win or to be able to go after Lewis Hamilton and try and take second.Indeed while he overtook Alonso in the first pit stops he was unable to make any more progress and had to settle for the final place on the podium. "I am happy with these six points, but I can't be completely satisfied with this result," he reflected.  "At the start, I think I made a small mistake but I was still in a position where I could try and overtake Lewis, but in the end I lost a place to Alonso and spent all of the first stint right behind him, with no chance of getting by.
Thanks to Yahoo for both quotes.


NY Auto Show

I'm a little late with this but the New York International Auto Show has some interesting new items.
  • Ford Flex:
But relax: it's not six across, with two middle seats and a center aisle for a drink cart.  The 2008 Flex is a six-passenger people mover (a seventh seating position is available) based not on the Boeing 737, but on the Ford Fairlane concept car of 2005.

This latest derivative of the Arnage sedan is expensive, with a price around $3500 and it's exclusive, since only 550 will be built.  It is also fast, since it comes with a 530-horsepower twin-turbo V-8 that churns out an incredible 775 pound-feet of torque.

This sleek little roadster initially gets only 172 horsepower, but it should still be very quick because it tips the scales at just 600 pounds.  A high-horsepower version may also be in the works, however. This is definitely one of the show's top head-turners.

Only 40 of these celebrations of automotive excess will be available, starting in the fall.  How excessive are they?  Start with a twin-turbo V-12 engine, 612 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque.  Add a liquid metal exterior paint that had been available only on auto show concepts. The CL65 commemorates the 40th anniversary of Mercedes\'s AMG engine-tuning subsidiary.  The new CL65 is slightly larger, more aggressive looking, and has eight (yes, eight) more horsepower than the '06 model.  All for $20000 give or take a euro.

The nearly production-ready concept is due to reach dealers next year and will have Hyundai's first V-8 engine.  On top of upscale styling, the rear-drive sedan flaunts a lush interior, a five-link independent suspension and acceleration from 0 to 60 m.p.h. in less than six seconds.  The car will have "well over 300 horsepower, ' Hyundai says, and a price  'well under $3000.'
Thanks to the New York Times for the quotes.

Friday Practice

Both Ferrari's were fast in Friday's practice session in Bahrain.  Friday practice is hardly a good indicator of qualifying or actual race pace.
Raikkonen lapped in 1:33.16 0.517 quicker than Massa and nearly a second faster than Hamilton on a track dirtied by overnight rainstorms. Double world champion Fernando Alonso, the overall leader who led Hamilton to a McLaren one-two in Malaysia last weekend, was fourth. Alonso warned on Thursday that Ferrari, dominant in the Australian opener and in pre-season testing in Bahrain, remained the team to beat and those fears seemed entirely credible on Friday's evidence.
I remember how M. Schumacher used to sandbag on Friday and Saturday practice, fooling everyone about exactly how fast he was.

Thanks to Reuters via Yahoo.

What Might Have Been

What might have been for Rubens Barrichello had he stayed at Ferrari in 2005?  Would he now be in Kimi Raikkonen's place?  It sure seems like Barrichello left at the most inopportune moment.  Now this:
The Brazilian driver broke ranks with his Honda colleagues on Thursday by reporting that the struggling RA107 racer "has not improved" since it debuted disappointingly in Melbourne last month. Barrichello thus set a modest target for round three at Sakhir: "If I am able to push the car to the limit in qualifying then a grid position in the top twelve should be possible."
Credit to Crash.net and Yahoo.

Pushing the Silly Season

Hey, let's not push the silly season after just two races. Remember when the silly season started at the end of the race season. Then over the years it's gotten earlier and earlier. Now this from BMW driver Nick Heidfeld:
Heidfeld is understood to have a contract 'option' to stay at BMW in 2008 but he has also been linked with a move to Toyota. He said in Bahrain: "I am satisfied at BMW."
Nico Rosberg seems to be happy at Williams.
Rosberg, meanwhile, earned the praise recently of Williams' Technical Director Sam Michael, amid suggestions that other teams might also have an eye on the former GP2 champion. "That's a nice question to hear," he smiled on Thursday when asked about his promising future, "but I have nothing to say.  I am with Williams and I hope that together we can progress as a team."
Credit to f1live.com via Yahoo.


Heidfeld Top Dog at BMW

Well, we don't really know. Was he ever? Apparently co-driver Robert Kubica's poor showing in the first three races of the season mean Nick Heidfeld is top man:
Heidfeld out-qualified Kubica in both Australia and Malaysia and has finished twice in fourth place.  Kubica's struggles, meanwhile, came into full focus at Sepang, after he finished dead last thanks to a catalog of mechanical woes. With Sebastian Vettel waiting in the wings and expected to graduate to a race seat in 2008 or 2009, sections of the media have also sensed a shifting supremacy off the track for Heidfeld. 
Heidfeld's manager is thought to have stridently leaked the apparent talks with Toyota about 2008, while Heidfeld himself has been unusually vocal about his distaste for BMW's Friday driver policy. Theissen is also quoted as telling the specialist magazine Auto Motor und Sport that complaining openly about issues is "Nick's right" due to his experience.
The shoe could just a easily be on the other foot.  What if Heidfeld had suffered mechanical failures?

Quote courtesy of Yahoo.

Brawn to McLaren, Perhaps

Ferrari seems to have "dibs" on Ross Brawn's services.   Honda sure needs an experienced man at the helm, but McLaren has the money, prestige, and power to lure Brawn back into the sport:
It is rumoured that the 52-year-old Briton, who at the Maranello based team presided over Michael Schumacher's five Ferrari titles until the German retired last year, is keen to return to the sport but only with an outfit based in England. "McLaren could offer a multitude of projects that Ross could lead," Bild quotes an insider as saying. Ferrari boss Jean Todt, however, this week insisted that the Italian team should be first in line if Brawn wants to return to pitlane.
I've seen Ross Brawn.  He's one tall guy.  He can work anywhere he wants.

Thanks to Bildflive.com, and Yahoo.

Lewis Hamilton is a God

The British press never passes up an opportunity to praise Lewis Hamilton. Now they have him entering the history books -- again!:
The rookie Briton could on Sunday become the first ever rookie in the history of the sport to stand on the podium after each of his first three Grand Prix.
But could the superior performance of the McLaren be the real reason for Hamilton's success?
But, amid all the mainly British media hype, one of 22-year-old Hamilton's on-track rivals has anonymously asserted that Hamilton\'s podium-filled debut has been more to do with the competitive McLaren MP4-22 than with the reigning GP2 champion himself.The unnamed rival is quoted as saying in the Spanish newspaper Diario As: "Lewis has done a good job but in qualifying he is on average more than five tenths a lap away from Alonso." "That's slower than Fisichella was alongside Alonso at Renault; and nobody raves about Giancarlo any more."
The season is early. The fun part is watching the races to see who will win.

Credit to f1live.com and Yahoo.

Manning Has the Cure

Manning has the cure for whatever has been ailing A.J. Foyt Racing.  Brit Darren Manning put in a stellar performance in the IRL race in St. Pete last Sunday. Speedtv's Robin Miller likes Manning:n
Darren Manning pumped some life into A.J. Foyt Racing as well as his own career by hunting with the big dogs all three days at the Honda Grand Prix.
Sure, his late spin relegated him to 12th place but the final result doesn't begin to tell how competitive this rusty veteran performed on the streets of St. Pete for this one-car, one czar operation.
Manning ran in the fast group every session, qualified fifth and was running third when he looped the ABC Supply Dallara on Lap 75.

What Will We Do?

No Friday test drivers in Bahrain:
After BMW confirmed that Sebastian Vettel is occupied in the Renault World Series this weekend, it has also emerged that Williams' Kazuki Nakajima will sit out his regular F1 duties while he races in the opening round of the GP2 season.  Meanwhile, Spyker's original Friday plans this year were shelved partly due to the contractual tussle involving Giedo van der Garde, and Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger has ruled out nominating a test driver for this year.
That quote from f1live.com and Yahoo.


Massa's Future

The F1 races in Australia and Malaysia occur in the middle of the night here in the eastern time zone of the U.S. so we always tape those races and watch later.   I was telling Mrs. Howell what I thought of Filipe Massa's future prior to the start of the F1 race in Sepang.  Massa qualified well in Malaysia and that's a good thing.  He doesn't strike me as a driver with a lot of leadership skills and, for lack of a better term, iron will.   It's only going to take  Raikkonen beating him a few times or out-qualifying him before he will become a dejected, broken driver.  He'll be issuing excuses.  I think he's a lot like fellow Brazilian Rubens Barrichello.  Massa did well as second driver under Schumacher. The Italian press and Jean Todt is piling on Massa over his less than stellar performance:
For letting both McLarens past at the first corner and then falling off the track in a battle with rookie Lewis Hamilton, the sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport refused to mince its words in contemplation of the Brazilian\'s form. " Massa did everything wrong," the editorial said. La Repubblica, meanwhile - which is Italy's major broadsheet - excused fellow Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen for managing only third place because the Finn had to run a de-tuned engine for the Sepang race. 
But the newspaper, perhaps recalling the Maranello based team's disastrous 2005 season, nevertheless wrote: "Ferrari rediscovers its fears".  The Maranello fan club noted that the retired Michael Schumacher "would not have let this happen".  Ferrari chiefs' criticism of Massa was gentler, but nonetheless fairly plain.  For example, Team Principal Jean Todt made it clear that while Raikkonen's engine was "compromised",  Massa's V8 unit was "quite fresh" after a pre-race change in Australia.
Raikkonen has proven that he is a winner.  He wants the championship.  Massa has to prove himself.  Massa should have been more patient in that pass on Hamilton.  Schumacher would have just waited for the right time.  It will be a quick season for Massa if he doesn't step up and take his place at Ferrari.

Thanks to F1Live.com and Yahoo for the quote.

Alonso and Hamiton Flap

The press is already trying to drum up a conflict between McLaren Drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton:
According to one source, Alonso's manager Luis Garcia-Abbot became so frustrated with McLaren team members' one-sided enthusiasm for rookie Lewis Hamilton in Australia that he opted to watch qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix from the tranquility of the Renault pits.  To the Diario As newspaper, McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh insisted that championship leader Alonso should not become the forgotten man.As also pointed out that, although Hamilton achieved the best overall lap on Sunday, no fewer than 16 of the 20 fastest laps of the Malaysian Grand Prix belonged to Alonso.
Just imagine how it would be portrayed if they were actually fighting?

Thanks F1live.com and Yahoo.

Wrong Anthem?

I wondered why they played "God Save the Queen" after McLaren won the Malaysian Grand Prix. Then I remembered that McLaren is a UK based team.
The major German newspaper Bild-Zeitung argues that the national anthem 'Das Lied der Deutschen' - made so famous on the F1 podium by the 91 victories of Michael Schumacher - should be played whenever a McLaren greets the chequered flag first. On behalf of Germany, Bild said the McLaren MP4-22 is 'OUR car!' "It is difficult to understand," said former German F1 driver Hans-Joachim Stuck. "The heart of the silver arrows is in Germany," he added, referring to Mercedes motorsport's Stuttgart HQ. Mercedes' Norbert Haug reacted: "I can understand the feeling of the German fans.  But we are an international team and the really important thing is that we win, not what is heard on the podium."
If anything they should play the anthem of New Zealand.

Thanks to f1live.com via Yahoo.

Raikkonen Issues Challenge to McLaren

Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen has thrown down the gauntlet and says he's "very optimistic" about this weekend's race in Bahrain:
"We will get a new fresh engine for Bahrain.  That makes me feel very optimistic," he noted.  "As I have always said I am here to race just to win.  When we have our whole package working 100 per cent, we should be back to the same speed as what we had in Melbourne. "Before the season we had a good test in Sakhir circuit. 
For sure, McLaren has improved since that, but at least we should be able to challenge them better than in Sepang. "You never know before the weekend how it goes.  F1 moves on so amazingly quickly and so many things can happen during the race, also.  I just expect that we are in a better shape than we were last Sunday.  The team is doing everything they can to get us back to the winning speed."
I think the Ferrari engine used at Sepang  was more damaged than the team was disclosing. Raikkonen was being very careful until the last laps of the race when he decided to attempt a pass on Hamilton.

Thanks Crash.net and Yahoo.


Florida Car Show

More than just a car show, the Amelia Island Concours has turned into the must see event for car enthusiasts.  Guests included Sir Stirling Moss, John Fitch, John Surtees, Hershel McGriff, Brian Redman, Vic Elford, Chris Economaki, David Hobbs and Sam Posey.  As you could imagine the bull flowed freely:
As you'd expect, the stories were priceless:  Surtees being pelted with hail and freezing rain during his win at the Isle of Man, hands so cold that he could only push against the handlebars, not grasp them.  Or McGriff, who won the first Carrera Panamericana in 1955 dodging spectators and donkeys and potholes large enough to swallow his Oldsmobile.
Organizer Bill Warner:
"It was a dream for me to have all those guys in one place," Warner said.  "That probably will never happen again. Now, I don\'t know how I'm going to top it.  That's my problem; when you get guys like Stirling Moss and John Surtees together in one room, how do you top that?"
Read the entire article at Autoweek.com.

Follow the Money

There's something fishy about this whole F1 race in Singapore deal. There must be some big money behind it. Someone stands to make a lot of cash. There's such a big push for a Singapore race. This conflicted quote from Malaysia's Sports Minister is most puzzling:
Malaysia's Sports Minister Azalina Othman told reporters last week there should only be one F1 race in Southeast Asia but denied the country was jittery over Singapore's bid to host it. "The region should have one F1 race. Singapore should not compete with Malaysia," Azalina said. "I am not worried.  I have no concern with Singapore hosting the F1 race," she added.
You just know that Bernie Ecclestone will make out, but who else stands to benefit?

Thanks to the Straits Times, F1live.com and Yahoo for the quotes.

I Would Have Won

Not exactly, but I'm always suspicious of these excuses - I would have done better except for .... Toro Rosso's Vitantonio Liuzzi:
"I think it's a shame that Sato pulled a crazy move at Turn 4 and compromised my race, as everything was going well," said Liuzzi. "But I collided with him and then that meant I also touched [my team-mates] Scott [Speed]'s rear tyre and had to come in for a new nose. A shame, as I felt my race pace was really strong and we could have done a lot better in terms of the final result."
At least his teammate, Scott Speed had the good sense to praise his mechanics.
"The guys worked very hard over the past couple of weeks so I am just glad for them that I was able to bring the car home and finish the race. We learnt a lot this weekend and I think we should be able to perform slightly better in Bahrain."
Yeah, I really think those Toro Rosso cars will run better in Bahrain.

Aero Updates For Spyker

Head of the Spyker team Colin Kolles says he's disappointed after his team's poor showing in Sepang:
"I am disappointed we didn't get the chance to show the progress we had made with the car this weekend. We knew over the longer runs we were confident of showing an improvement in pace. We'll carry the developments onto Bahrain, where we'll hopefully be able to demonstrate how far we've come," he summed-up.
The team had instituted a new aero package for the race and was hoping it would help the team place higher. Technical chief Mike Gascoyne was also put off by the early retirement of the Spyker drivers:
"A miserable end to a tough weekend," Gascoyne summed-up. "Adrian had a problem at the rear of the car, which caused him to have contact with a Honda through the fourth corner, while Christijan's car got stuck in first gear. Wee yet to ascertain the reason for the failure, but as he ran at very high revs for a long time to get back to the pits, the exhaust got hot and the bodywork caught alight. We've now got to move on."Sutil and Albers were equally disappointed with their predicaments, the former noting that the result was really sad', while the latter said it was a 'shame' as he had 'confidence in the car'.
Thanks to crash.net via Yahoo.

TVR Comes to Orlando

I live in Orlando and did not hear about this important automotive news. The venerable British sports car company TVR has been bought by some area businessmen and will be headquartered in Orlando. This from Autoweek.:
Santacreu and Burdette now run a legendary British sports car company that will no longer be based in Britain, as world headquarters will be in Orlando. They plan to import one model of the TVR to America in 2008, to be sold here through a 45-dealer network. Total production will be 5,000 a year; the U.S. will get 3,00 and the rest will be divided between the 20-odd existing TVR dealers in Europe, and another 35 in the Far East.  The car will be the TVR Sagaris, which was introduced in 2004, but has never really been properly marketed. U.S. versions will be powered by a 400-horsepower, 4.0-liter inline "Speed Six" six-cylinder engine sourced from Ricardo, a British engineering firm.  The final assembly of the Sagaris will be done in Italy, by Bertone.  Bodies will, for now, continue to be produced in England.  Expected price in the U.S.: about $12000.
My first car was a 1971 Triumph TR-6. In my old neighborhood (35 years ago) there was a very interesting sports car.  It was silver and looked very fast.  I stopped one day when I saw the owner out working in the yard. The guy showed me his 1971 TVR.  It was so cool and it had a Triumph British Layland) TR-6 straight six cylinder engine in it. My TR-6 was a sports car but the TVR was a sports car that bordered on race car.


Unusual Champ Car Race

The Champ Car race in Las Vegas was strange on many levels. Multiple champion Sebastian Bourdais had a bad day.  That never seems to happen to Newman-Hass-Lanigan.
Bourdais, who had won the previous five inaugural races in Champ Car, was never a factor in this one. He started 16th after a crash in qualifying on Saturday, overcame three flat tires in the first 24 laps to reach third place and then hit a concrete barrier on lap 30 and ended up 13th.``It's probably the worst race I've ever had by far,'' Bourdais said.
I counted eight rookies in the field. They all seemed to do a pretty good job of racing safely and competently.
Pagenaud, a 22-year-old Frenchman who beat out Rahal for last year's Atlantics championship by 16 points, ran with the leaders most of the way, but went out with an electrical problem and finished 12th.
What the hell happened to Graham Rahal. First I heard he got hit. Now it appears he just crashed.
Rahal, the 18-year-old son of three-time CART champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, watched his father win a Vintage Car race on the same track Sunday morning, then crashed on the first lap in the Champ Car event and finished last.
Australian Will Power (please, that name!) won over rookie Robert Doornbos.
"It was a pretty cruisy race, really,'' Power said, grinning. "I was saving fuel and saving brakes because the brake pedal was really getting pretty long. And, with no one pressing you, no one to attack, I was just hoping nothing went wrong.'' Last year's top rookie said he was ``relieved'' when the 1-hour, 45-minute timed event snaking through the streets of downtown Las Vegas ended.``When I heard there were about three laps to go, I figured we probably had it, but I still just wanted to get it done before something happened,'' Power said.
Thanks for the quotes, Yahoo. The next race is next weekend, April 15 in Long Beach, California.

Where's that Wet Blanket

Fernando Alonso, not satisfied with first and second for the McLaren team in Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix pulled out the wet blanket.  Wee still behind Ferrari?  Huh?, What?:
"I think, to be honest, we still need to work a little bit, especially on the race pace," he confirmed. "I think with Felipe [Massa] having a good start, better than our start and keeping first position maybe was extremely difficult to follow their pace in the race, so I think we mustn't confuse ourselves with that. "But we are much, much closer than Australia.  We have some developments on the car and some improvements coming very shortly, so we should be alright then, very, very shortly and I think it will be a very close fight but I think our team has the potential to do it and I have 100 per cent confidence we can do it."
Suddenly Alonso's move to McLaren from World Champion Renault looks brilliant.

Thanks Yahoo.

Blow it Up

At McLaren Kimi Raikkonen would have drove the car to it's limit and not worried about blowing it up.  He babied the Ferrari at Sepang Sunday to keep it on  the track and score maximum points:
Raikkonen arrived in Malaysia with doubts surrounding whether his engine would cope with a second consecutive weekend of racing after suffering a water leak in Australia. With the track temperature registering over 50 degrees Celsius in Sepang, the danger of it overheating was palpable and as a result, Raikkonen felt he was hindered from the outset.
He therefore decided the wisest course of action was to take the longer-term view and record as many points as possible to stay in contention near the top of the drivers' standings. "We knew the engine wasn't 100%, as well as some other things, so we could not take risks or do anything stupid," he added."We knew when we came here we had some handicaps, so I think we maximized our speed."We did the best we could in the situation we were in and so the team did a very good job."
Thanks to Yahoo for the quotes. Next race is in Bahrain, next Sunday April 15.

Lewis Hamilton Dubbed King of the World

I love this overblown analysis of Lewis Hamilton done by AFP:
Lewis Hamilton has not only achieved more in two Formula One races than anyone before him but his stunning performance in Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix has confirmed he is poised for unprecedented global stardom.
That global stardom they are talking about it is "unprecedented". They go on.
The 22-year-old Briton, the first man of Afro-Caribbean descent to race in Formula One, has finished third and second in his two races to date. But it is not just the results that have impressed seasoned observers of the sport. It has been the sheer speed and quality of his racing and a maturity that has set him apart from any other rookie driver in modern times.  Above all, he has shown he can cope with all the pressures - and at Sepang on Sunday he had to cope with sweltering conditions and two Ferraris on his tail - and fight crisply and cleanly against anyone when required.
Hey, Lewis Hamilton can work in hot conditions. Thanks AFP!

Ross Brawn to Honda?

Ross Brawn, former Ferrari genius, could be the person to turn the beleaguered Honda around.  This quote from F1live.com via Yahoo:
As the Japanese squad's crisis deepened in Malaysia, Honda could be about to launch a multi-million dollar bid to sign Ferrari's former technical director Ross Brawn. British newspapers including the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail report that Brawn, currently on a 'sabbatical' but not under any contractual obligations to Ferrari, is the target of beleaguered Honda's team principal Nick Fry. "Brawn ... is the man Fry has identified to harness the vast resources available to the Japanese manufacturer," the Telegraph wrote.
Honda needs to do something to get back to winning form.
Jenson Button finished a lap down and twelfth at Sepang on Sunday, and revealed afterwards to the Daily Mail that Honda personnel have resorted to "shouting at each other" in frustration about the RA107's dismal lack of pace.
Button's teammate Rubens Barrichello finished eleventh.

Chinese F1 Driver

Hey, I didn't know that a Chinese driver is competing this year in the Champ Car Atlantic series. His name is Jiang Tengyi. He drove in the A1 GP last year and is driving for the Brooks Associates team this year.
The 22-year-old driver from Shanghai leveraged a karting championship in China into a Formula BMW seat in 200 followed by Italian Formula Renault and then the A1GP.  "The Brooks team was highly recommended by Forsythe Racing, a team I hope to race with in Champ Car in the future, " Tengyi said.The Champ Car series is scheduled to race for the first time in Zhuhai, China on May 20. "The guys are working really hard for a top effort for Jiang," said team owner John Brooks.  "He reminds us of some of our favorite drivers of the past - Andreas Wirth, Ronnie Bremer and Al Unser III.
To get that Chinese sponsorship money, Champ Car will have to move him up the ladder.

 Thanks again to Yahoo for the news.

Weekend Racing Action

Well there certainly was a lot of racing action over the weekend.  It was hot in Malaysia but not for Ferrari. The Champ Cars raced in Vegas.  I counted eight rookies in the field. WOW!


Ferrari Keeps Crappy Old Engines

Millions can breath a sign of relief today because it's been announced that Ferrari won't have to change engines after all.  That means no ten position penalty.  Huzzah!
Nonetheless, Luca Baldisserri revealed that, following the practice sessions, neither engine on Felipe Massa or Raikkonen's car would require a change. "Tomorrow starting with free practice and as a result of carrying out several tests, we will be using the same engines that finished the Australian Grand Prix on both our cars. "That is likely to come as relief for Raikkonen who endured a modest day of running at Sepang, allowing team-mate Massa to grab all the headlines as the Finn settled for the fourth best time in both sessions.
That means tattoo-boy shouldn't have to work too hard this weekend.  Thanks to crash.net via Yahoo.

Tattoo More Valuble Than Money

Ferrari chief Jean Todt says Kimi Raikkonen's new tattoo is more important than his sponsors:
But Todt insisted that keeping Ferrari's drivers happy is a higher priority than satisfying the whim of sensitive sponsors. "Perhaps if he wanted to tattoo his face, I would advise him against it," Todt joked in Malaysia, according to motorsport-total.com. "If a sponsor was unhappy about it, I would rather change the sponsor than tell Kimi that he cannot have a tattoo."
That report from F1Live.com via Yahoo.  Link to photo of Raikkonen tattoo.


Customer Cars in Formula One

I have to agree with FIA Prez Max Mosley - Customer cars would be good for F1.  There are a lot of rich men who would like to compete in F1,  they are just not super-rich like the manufacturers.
"In 2007, there is a dispute about what the Concorde Agreement means and it is right and proper that if there is a dispute it should go to arbitration," Mosley, who earlier spoke alongside Michael Schumacher for the launch of the UN Global Road Safety Week, told Reuters in London.  
"But in the end in 2008, it won't be a problem. "Mosley, 66, has consistently argued that there is not 'enough money' in Formula One to sustain twelve different constructors.  Bernie Ecclestone is currently working on a new definition for the term, which will outline different commercial benefits for 'constructors' and a mere 'entrant'. 
But Mosley, the 'M' in the Formula One constructor March which in the 1970s famously built and supplied customer cars, said: "You either have customer cars or you have people struggling at the back of the grid being lapped four times."
I think it\'s been proven time and time again that running a customer car does not guarantee success. Often teams that run customer cars are competitive but are rarely as quick as the primary team.

Credit Yahoo for the quote.

Top 5 Champ Car Drivers

ESPN's motorsports writers have ranked Champ Car's top five drivers:
  1.  Sebastian Bourdais
  2.  Paul Tracy
  3.  Justin Wilson
  4.  Graham Rahal
  5.  Neel Jani

I would agree.

Split a Good Thing?

There's been so much talk about how bad the split has been for open wheel racing in  the United States.  Maybe it hasn't been such a bad thing.  Sure, when there was one series there were more cars in any race.  I seem to remember fields for a CART race numbering in the 30's.  But because there was only one series, I think there were fewer overall teams and fewer opportunities for drivers.

Yes, you could argue that the overall quality of racing has dropped. But not by much. Now we have two series. Champ Car is fielding 17 cars, the IRL has 20 this year.  That's 37 total.  Both series are getting TV coverage of every race this year.  I'd say that is pretty good exposure.

I'm beginning to think Bernie Ecclestone's proposal from a couple of years ago makes more sense.  Ecclestone is the head of Formula One racing and when asked about the Champ Car/IRL split he said that Champ Car should focus on street circuits; the IRL on ovals and both series should come together for a "championship playoff" at the end of the season.

Silly Games

This is absurd. According to Gerhard Berger, co-owner of Toro Rosso the way to instill a professional attitude in a driver is by playing a childish game of wait-and-see:
Berger confirmed speculation to the APA news agency that the long delay was a ploy in reaction to Californian Speed's laid back approach to his rookie season at the pinnacle of motorsport." "We wanted to send a signal that we do not necessarily roll out the red carpet for drivers," Berger said.
Yeah, real mature. That quote from f1live.com via Yahoo.


This Sucks

Florida beat Ohio State for the NCAA basketball championship last night. All I can say is it sucks. The Buckeyes will rise again!

Don't Get So Excited

Says Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen.  I love the headline to this story from F1Live.com via Yahoo.  It's like Kimi is throwing water on a fire:
Also moderating Raikkonen's optimism ahead of the ultra-hot Malaysian Grand Prix is a lingering concern about his qualifying and race engine, which nearly overheated at Albert Park."To have the best chance for the championship, you have to get top finishes, especially from the first races," said Raikkonen.  An engine change prior to Sunday's race will cost him ten places on the grid.  He continued: "To win you need points from every race. "Obviously the situation is a whole lot different if the engine has to be changed," Raikkonen said, referring to Sepang.

Ecclestone to France: Drop Dead

Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone wants to drop the grand prix race in France while possibly adding India, Russia, Mexico, and South Korea to the calendar.
Ecclestone also raised the possibility of organising a new race on an urban circuit, as well as a night race."That (night race) would be ideal for Asia, since it would be the right time difference to be broadcast in Europe. It would also be very spectacular, it all depends of course on the circuit."Concerning the reticence of team bosses over the creation of more races, he said:  "The more we hold races in good countries, the easier it will be for them to find sponsors." And amid the threat to the France Grand Prix at Magny-Cours in 2008, Eccelestone warned that no country had a monopoly on the sport. "Formula One is very international, it's a world championship, not a championship linked to certain countries. When the the standards are not respected we have to go elsewhere," he added.
I guess when you dream, you might as well dream big. That quote is from AFP via Yahoo.


Briatore Wants to Shake Up the F1 World

Renault boss Flavio Briatore has some innovative ideas to make Formula One more spectacular. For example, two races on the same day, both would count for points, one a shorter sprint and the other a longer race.
"We need two races; a 45-minute sprint in the morning and a race for one hour in the afternoon," the Italian said.  Briatore's revolutionary plan would involve banning refueling and using the results of the morning 'sprint' as qualifying for the main feature - with the top eight finishers made to start in reverse order.
Briatore is not keen on the mandated "environmentally friendly" cars, which seem to me just a PR stunt.  He says it will cost millions of dollars to develop these cars and add nothing to the F1 show.

Credit Yahoo F1 for the quote.

Bridgestone to "White Stripe" Tires

Bridgestone will mark its softer compound tires with a white stripe running the circumference for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday April 8. The white dots used in Australia were indistinguishable.   It appears the whole scheme for marking the different compounds was not well thought out.  Sepang circuit head of track engineering operations Kees van de Grint says:n
"From what we learnt from the Malaysia test, we are confident that both specifications can cope with the heat," van der Grint insisted, "There were no major issues encountered. Because we selected the two hardest compound tyres in our range, the hard lacks a little bit of grip on a green track, but that should be satisfactory with the expected improved track conditions during the GP itself. The medium compound had a good level of grip and sufficient wear life to allow for any sort of strategy. "We had rain during the test and ran with both the wet and extreme wet tyres. One issue that often appears while running in the wet is to get temperature in the tyres but, as it rains 'hot water' here, it was not difficult to get the tyres to the correct temperature. I am expecting the same solid performance from our wet weather tyres should we experience rain during the race."
That quote comes from F1Live.com via Yahoo. Qualifying for the  Malaysian Grand Prix is on Speed TV Friday April 6 at 2:00am.  The race will be shown on Saturday April 7 at 2:30am.

Loeb Wins Rally Portugal

Sebastian Loeb comes within two points of leader Marcus Grunholm with his win this weekend at Rally Portugal.  This quote is from motorsports.com.
On the final leg of five stages, Loeb won two specials, including the short 2.03km superspecial final stage. The Frenchman did not have to push too hard in his Citroen C4 as he held a lead of over 40 seconds at the end of leg two yesterday. "It was pretty much a perfect weekend for us," commented Loeb. "My set-up wasn't ideally suited to the terrain during Friday's first loop but we managed to fine-tune the balance and it was much more to my liking after that."
I like Marcus Grunholm. He got off to a good start this year.  I'm afraid he won't have what it takes to defeat Loeb for this year's title.

IRL Crashfest

I just finished watching the IRL race from St. Petersburg and there seemed to be an awful lot of crashes. I'm glad to see Castroneves and Penske win one.  I'm not that fond of Chip Ganassi.  I think Dan Weldon is weird.  I heard Jimmy Vassar sum it up best.
He said, "There's no "I" in team, but there is in Chip."
Anyway, here are the results courtesy of motorsports.com:

Pos Car Driver Laps Gap Status
1.3Helio Castroneves100...
2.9Scott Dixon1000.6007
3.11Tony Kanaan1007.3123
4.26Marco Andretti1005.5960
5.27Dario Franchitti1001.0845
6.2Tomas Scheckter10010.7174
7.6Sam Hornish Jr1001.7613
8.7Danica Patrick1000.9656
9.10Dan Wheldon1006.3521
10.15Buddy Rice10012.5281
11.8Scott Sharp1001.1800
12.14Darren Manning991 lap
13.22AJ Foyt IV981 lap
14.17Jeff Simmons971 lap
15.5Sarah Fisher9741.8785
16.4Vitor Meira961 lap
17.55Kosuke Matsuura8313 laps
18.20Ed Carpenter4538 lapsAccident

By the way, Matsura got punted off the track and when he was being interviewed on live TV he said the "F" word. The announcers later apologized for it.