McLaren Investigation

It looks like McLaren are under a little suspicion. It seems they’ve been accused of employing team orders in Fernando Alonso’s victory at Monaco. The FIA will be investigating.
Announcing the probe FIA in a statement said: “The FIA has launched an investigation into incidents involving the McLaren Mercedes team at the 2007 Monaco Grand Prix in light of a possible breach of the International Sporting Code.

“The relevant evidence is under review and a further announcement will be made in due course.”

McLaren were quick to respond, a spokesman for the British team telling AFP: “We are very confident about FIA’s investigation into our race strategy.”

He added: “All the decisions that we took before and during the race respect perfectly the International Sporting Code.

Ron Dennis says McLaren didn’t break the rules.

“I don’t like to slow drivers down, I don’t like them to be frustrated but it is the way you have to win the Monaco Grand Prix,” he said.

Dennis insisted to reporters that the situation was a ‘one off’, created by the unforgiving Monaco barriers and also McLaren’s performance advantage over their nearest competitor here.

He said: “We don’t have team orders - we had a strategy to win this race.

“There will be places where they will be absolutely free to race, but this isn’t one of them.”

There will be an investigation and no fault will be found. There has to be an investigation to make the sport look fair. In reality, Ron Dennis can do whatever he likes. They are his cars to race.

Credit AFP  and F1_Live.com for the quotes.

Saw this Coming

Saw this coming from a mile away. Toyota is looking to replace Ralf Schumacher.
31-year-old Schumacher is enduring an abysmal season at the wheel of the TF107, and he found a new low in Monte Carlo when he qualified behind Spyker’s Adrian Sutil in twentieth place.
It is well-documented that Ralf is coming to the end of his current multi-million dollar contract with his Japanese employer, but Howett has traditionally been the German’s staunchest supporter.
But Briton Howett, who already has Schumacher’s teammate Jarno Trulli under contract for 2008, told the newspaper Bild: “It is only professional that we observe the (driver) market.”
Howett, though, insisted that Toyota is still working to help Schumacher overcome his difficulties with the machine. “Of course it is frustrating, but to say that he is completely alone would be wrong. We must give him a better car,” he added.
Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.


Franchitti’s 500

It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Dario Franchitti won the Indy 500.  Did he have the fastest car?  No, I think that would have been Tony Kanaan.  Franchitti talks about his victory:
“The start of the race, the most important thing is not to stall when you are leaving because that’s pretty embarrassing,” Franchitti said. “The last thing I remember before I got into race mode, I was staring at the front of my car and Chuck Yeager (the test pilot who was the first man to break the speed of sound) was standing there in front of me. “That was pretty cool.” 
Going into the first turn at the start of the race, Franchitti was on the outside of the front row with Andretti Green teammate Tony  Kanaan to his immediate left and Helio Castroneves starting on the pole. 
“Going into Turn 1, it was all about being nice and clean going through there and staying out of trouble,” Franchitti said.  “The loosest part of the track was right here. The car was really balanced, you’d get a little wiggle through here where the car would wiggle around a bit.” Franchitti had one of those “moments” early in the race when he entered the first turn. “On one restart, everybody tried to break a lot going into Turn 1,” he recalled. “I almost hit the guy in front of me, I don’t know who it was, but that was the only real `moment’ for me. I had a big understeer going into Turn 2 through the first two stints but after that, the car was really good through here.” 
Franchitti said Turn 1 was tricky all month for many of the drivers in the field. When he sees the foreboding tire marks and paint from crashes into the wall, it’s a constant reminder of the danger of this race. “I try not to look at it,” Franchitti admitted. “The good thing when you are running here is the comfort factor of the SAFER Barrier and the amount of money that Tony George and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has invested in that project.” After driving through Turn 2 and under the black-flag board, where a car’s number is posted when race officials order him to the pits to serve a penalty, the van entered the long backstretch, which separates the Brickyard Crossing golf course, where four of the 18 holes are actually in the IMS infield. The long stretch of asphalt is a bit deceiving. “When you are in the lead of the race, it gives you a little time to think, but when you are in traffic, you are trying to set the guy up in front of you,” Franchitti said. “With these car regulations, you have to set the guy up a lap or two in advance.” 
The backstretch was also a point where some of the most aggressive moves of the race were made, with drivers going three- and sometimes four-wide at over 220 miles per hour. “I went three wide through here were Sam Hornish and I split Roger Yasukawa,” Franchitti recalled. “We were almost running side-by-side through Turn 3. It was pretty early in the race so I backed out of it rather than be too brave and end up in the wall.” Through Turn 3, Franchitti said the track was in excellent condition. But after Marco Andretti’s spectacular crash at the end of the race, where his car flipped upside down, it gave Franchitti pause for concern. “I was driving by and seeing his car sitting there and worrying that he was OK,” Franchitti said. 
The four turns of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway include two short straightaways called “chutes” before entering turns 2 and turns 4. “I passed Al Unser Jr. in the short chute between 3 and 4 and that was an interesting maneuver because it was pretty tight but that got me the break I needed for the lead right before the red flag,” Franchitti said. Coming off Turn 4 is another long straightaway with massive grandstands on both sides of the track. Halfway down is the flag stand, where the yellow and checkered flags waved signaling Franchitti’s victory. “It was raining like crazy and I had to open my visor and I could see the fans were still in the grandstands,” Franchitti said. “It was really special savoring that moment. The first thing was getting to the checkered flag because the car was hydroplaning on the racing slicks. It was so wet. I just wanted to get there. “Then, it was relief seeing all the team members up on the wall. It was just a great feeling.” After crossing the finish line, the moment hit Franchitti that he had won the Indianapolis 500. “Personally, winning the Indianapolis 500 means a huge amount,” Franchitti said. “Everybody is out there. This is the biggest race we do. It’s an amazing race, very special and so difficult to win it. Look at a guy like Michael Andretti, one of the best drivers I’ve ever raced against and things just never went his way here.
When the split in open wheel racing occurred in the US, Dario was hesitant to go to the IRL. The cars, the speed and the nature of the oval tracks made it so much more dangerous than the CART series. I’ll bet he’s glad he changed his mind.

Credit Yahoo IRL for the quote.


Raikkonen’s Error

'Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen made a slight error in qualifying at Monaco today. He broke his suspension after touching the armco barrier. He will be starting from seventh on the grid. He had little to say.
“There’s little to say after this qualifying session. I was on my first run with soft tires when, coming out of the Swimming Pool Chicane, I hit the barrier with the left front wheel. At first it seemed that everything was alright, but when I got to Rascasse, the car would not make the turn. I managed to get back to the pits and the mechanics tried to fix the car but we realized it could not be done in time. Here, the very slightest error costs you dear and it is a real shame because I think I could have fought for pole position. However, I will start from the seventh row so I am expecting a very tough race, but I will do all I can to get a good result for the team.”
Born under a bad sign. If he keeps this type of performance up, he will be replaced at the end of the year. He’ll be lucky to get a ride with Red Bull.

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

Excellent Article

I have to recommend this excellent article by AP sports columnist Tim Dahlberg. Yes, the Indy 500 is not what it used to be. Here’s the 2 nut grafs:
But there will also be empty seats, and plenty of them. Both tickets and hotel rooms were readily available in the days before the race, something unheard of when the Indy 500 meant something to almost everyone.
It doesn’t anymore, for a variety of reasons that basically begin and end with greed. A bitter split between rival open wheel organizations has lasted more than a decade, and the factional fighting has taken a toll on America’s most venerable race.
On Sunday the race will compete for the attention of race fans with NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 later that evening, where names like Dale Earnhardt. Jr., Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon trump the Indy starting front row of Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, and Dario Franchitti.
If this were the 1970s, it would have been no contest. But it’s not, and even the best spin from drivers and owners can’t change that.
Why does greed always ruin the best things in life?

Credit Yahoo IRL for the quote.


Wurz on Monaco

Williams driver Alexander Wurz has certainly paid his dues in Formula One. He’s been in the sport for years and has logged many miles as a test driver for McLaren. Here’s some words from Wurz on Monaco.
“This weekend is going to be very cool,” the 33-year-old enthused. “It’s just amazing to drive a Formula 1 car through the streets of Monaco. The track gets quicker every session and, once you’ve built up a rhythm it is just mind blowing how much adrenaline you build up driving between the armco.”

“Every corner is difficult and, with the changing track conditions, it is obviously important to be on top of your game,” he explained. “In terms of set-up, it is most important that the driver has a good feeling about his car and can drive it with confidence. That is one of the key ingredients for setting a quick lap-time around Monaco.

“In terms of off-track work, Monaco is always the busiest weekend for all the drivers, and that’s a challenge in itself. Nevertheless, it is still one of my favourite race weekends of the season. It’s as hard as ever to forecast the result for the race; the only thing I can say for sure is that it’s going to be a close fight.”

Credit Crash.net for the quote.

Night Racing for Wrong Reason

Has F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone never heard of TIVO?
Singapore, which will host its debut Grand Prix on a street circuit next year, could be the first in the world to hold a race after dark with Ecclestone indicating it was a done deal.

“I think we can stop discussing the possibility of the race during the day,” he said when announcing a five-year contract from 2008.

Organisers insist a night race in the city-state will only go ahead if all safety concerns are met, including glare in dark conditions if it rains.

In typical Ecclestone style, he then drew Australia into the equation, putting it on the spot this week with an ultimatum — work on holding the Melbourne Grand Prix at night or risk the race being taken away.

“Unless they (organisers) can come up with something satisfactory, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be able to continue there,” the one-time motorcycle salesman was quoted as saying in local newspapers.

“I would like to make sure we can watch (the race) in Europe and other parts of the world at a respectable time rather than having to get up at three or four in the morning.”

I live in the eastern time zone of the U.S. I don’t get up to watch the race from Mayalsia. Hell, I don’t know what time the race is held in Japan.

We tape the race on video and watch it when we have time. Does Bernie think people won’t watch because it’s on in the middle of the night?  This points out the problem with having a 76 year old in charge. He is woefully behind the times in terms of technology.

Night racing is great and can be safe. We do it all the time here in the states. But racing at night because of TV coverage is the wrong reason.

Credit AFP for the quote.

The Legend of AJ

There’s been a lot of stories told about legendary driver and car\nowner AJ Foyt. I have never heard this one reminiscent of Elvis.
Eddie Cheever, who drove for Foyt in 1994-95, is among a group of Foyt alums (along with Chip Ganassi, Robbie Buhl and Robby\nGordon) who later became team owners themselves.

Cheever discovered that Foyt often tipped his hand when he was about to lay into his driver. “The clue was that when he called you ‘Cowboy,’ it was time to leave the room,” Cheever said. “The thing with Foyt is, as quickly as his temper comes, it leaves.”

Cheever recalled the day Foyt ripped a TV set out of the wall in a racetrack drivers’ lounge.

“Sparks were flying all over the place. He threw the TV on the floor and walked out,” Cheever said. “Five minutes later he was back talking to me like nothing had happened, like he had just woken up from a nap.”

Those emotional outbursts aside, Cheever summed up the feelings of those who have driven for Foyt, especially in Indianapolis in May.

“Being with him at the 500,” Cheever said, “is like being with the Pope at the Vatican on Easter Sunday.”

Credit Indianapolis Star for the quote.


Australia Race Threat

Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone has said that the Australian Grand Prix could be taken off the calendar in 2010. He is more concerned with European television audiences.
“When the contract comes up, we have to have a look and see exactly what we will be doing with Melbourne,” he said. Unless they (organisers) can come up with something satisfactory, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be able to continue there. “I would like to make sure we can watch (the race) in Europe and other parts of the world at a respectable time rather than having to get up at three or four in the morning.”
Furthermore, the Australian Grand Prix itself could be under threat regardless of venue if a better Television deal to show other Formula 1 races is not sought, while a reverse in falling attendance numbers is also being demanded.
“Ron is not stupid and he knows exactly what is at stake,” Ecclestone added. “It seems that Melbourne tried to get behind F1 and always has done, but the rest of Australia doesn’t seem to get behind it.”  However, skeptics are thought to believe that holding a night race in Melbourne will not be a success, while the Brack Government has also hit back at Ecclestone’s remarks, claiming that negotiations are yet to even start.
“We strongly support the race,” said a spokesman for Tourism Minister Tim Holding. “The contract runs until 2010, but we haven’t begun negotiating that yet. And a night Grand Prix has never been formally proposed. Ultimately the Victorian Government will decide what is best for Melbourne.”
I would like to see the Australian government stand firm against Mr. Ecclestone. There are some things more important than television ratings.

Credit Crash.net for the quote.

Top Ten Car

In a sentiment reminiscent of stock car racing, Spyker is aiming for a top ten finish in the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix. Managing Director Colin Kolles is optimistic.
“Until Spain, we were behind Toro Rosso as they had a better finishing record than us, but the double finish moved us back ahead, which showed we were making progress,” he explained, “It might not seem a lot, but it’s very important for us to be in the top ten. We cannot be happy with this in the long-term, of course, but we have to make the most of what we can achieve at present. The atmosphere is good as we can see we are moving forward.
“Monaco is known as a hard race and you can never predict what will happen. You could start on pole and then be knocked out at the first corner, or start at the back, it rains, you get the strategy right and suddenly you’re in the top eight. If we keep out of trouble and are reliable, we could be in the top ten.”
Both Sutil and Albers know Monaco well, with the German holding the current F3 lap record from 2005, when he was team-mate to current F1 sensation Lewis Hamilton. While Sutil has yet to make his F1 debut in the Principality, however, Albers has raced there twice, in 2005 and 2006, getting his car to the finish on both occasions, and Kolles is happy that this experience will be sufficient for an encouraging result this weekend.
Although Spyker is a smaller F1 team, I think they are good for the sport. They are always fighting to be more competitive. They remind me of the old Arrows team.

Credit Crash.net for the quote.

News Flash

This is a news flash: McLaren driver Fernando Alonso wants to win the Monaco Grand Prix.
“Monaco is one of those races that, at the start of the year, you mark down as one you really want to win,” the reigning double world champion stated. “I took the victory in the grand prix last year, and although it was an emotional weekend it was an amazing feeling, one I will race hard to try and repeat again this season.
“I have not had the results I wanted in the previous two races, however I have kept scoring good points and we have continued to develop the performance of the car.”
Alonso currently sits two points adrift of his team-mate at the top of the drivers’ standings, but is well aware Monaco’s perilous nature and propensity to bite could so easily see that situation dramatically alter with just one wrong flick of the steering wheel.
“At Monaco you have to really keep your concentration at all times and push to the limit,” the 25-year-old underlined. “It is very easy for things to go wrong at this track because it is very narrow and the barriers are very close, but that is why you have to stay focused. Because of the barriers and the need to be very accurate, you do have to use a slightly different driving style here to perform well over the weekend. You tend to be less aggressive in the braking zones.
“You also need to set the car up with a responsive front, so you can be on the throttle as early as possible in the middle section of the corner without waiting for the car to turn; it is ways like this that you can find the milliseconds you need in Monaco.”
The Monaco GP is a prime example of a race weekend as marketing opportunity. If Monaco were to propose a race through the streets for the first time these days, Bernie would surly say no and others would decry the lack of safety.

Credit Crash.net for the quote.

Old Guy Drives Fast

48 year old Roberto Moreno has qualified for the Indianapolis 500. He’s been one of my favorites down through the years. He’s humble and fast.
As he got more comfortable in his car Sunday, Moreno’s practice speeds climbed and he knew it was time to get aggressive instead of waiting for a faster car to bump him.
“I saw that I achieved 220 (mph) and was solid in the car and said, `OK, guys, that’s enough. Let’s go for it.’ “Moreno, who got his ride in the No. 77 Chastain Motorsports car on Friday, the day after Stephan Gregoire crashed, fracturing a vertebra, was up to the challenge. His first lap was over 219.8 and the next three were all over 220, giving him an average of 220.299 — more than 4 mph faster than the speed he posted on Saturday.
“Yesterday, we were not ready for it,'’ Moreno said. “We played around too much with the car. I told my engineer to just make me comfortable so I could go flat around this track. I’d never done that. My cars I drove before, I never drove flat here.'’
Moreno, who finished 19th in 1986 and 20th in 1999, was so happy with his run on Sunday, he took his hands off the steering wheel before he completed the final lap, raising his arms in triumph and shaking his fists.
It proves that old guys can compete. I think AJ Foyt raced open wheel cars into his late 50’s.

Credit Yahoo IRL for the quote.


Bourdais Tests at Paul Ricard

Newman-Haas-Lanigan driver Sebastian Bourdais tested the STR at Paul Ricard in France.
Bourdais completed 142 laps of the 2D short 3.593 km circuit aimed to replicate the characteristics of the Monaco Grand Prix circuit. Bourdais’ best lap was a 1:07.743s.

Today, there were no mechanical problems, hence the large number of laps. The programme consisted of evaluating Bridgestone Potenza tyre compounds and doing long runs, while also evaluating a couple of new aerodynamic and mechanical components.

Tomorrow, all the teams switch to a longer configuration of the Paul Ricard circuit in order to simulate the Montreal track for the Canadian Grand Prix.
Scott Speed was also there. I get the feeling that Scott Speed will be in a Champ Car or the IRL series next year.

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

History of Monaco

The following is a short history of the Principality of Monaco:
From 1793 to 1814, Monaco was under French control. The Congress of Vienna designated Monaco as a protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia from 1815 until 1860 when the Treaty of Turin ceded to France the surrounding county of Nice (as well as Savoy). During this time there was unrest in the towns of Menton and Roquebrune, which declared independence, hoping for annexation by Sardinia. The unrest continued until the ruling prince gave up his claim to the two towns (some 95% of the country) to France in return for four million francs. This transfer and Monaco’s sovereignty was recognized by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861.

Until the 1911 constitution, the princes of Monaco were absolute rulers. In July 1918, a treaty was signed providing for limited French protection over Monaco. The treaty, part of the Treaty of Versailles, established that Monegasque policy would be aligned with French political, military, and economic interests.

Rainier III, Prince of Monaco acceded to the throne following the death of his grandfather, Prince Louis II, in 1949. A new constitution, proclaimed in 1962, abolished capital punishment, provided for women’s suffrage, and established a Supreme Court to guarantee fundamental liberties. In 1993, Monaco became a member of the United Nations, with full voting rights.

In 2002, a new treaty between France and Monaco clarifies that if there are no heirs to carry on the dynasty, the principality will remain an independent nation rather than revert to France. Monaco’s military defense, however, is still the responsibility of France.

By 31 March 2005, Prince Rainier III had become too ill to exercise his royal duties and relinquished them to his son Prince Albert, Marquis of Baux. On 6 April 2005, Prince Rainier died and his son succeeded him as Albert II of Monaco. Prince Albert II of Monaco formally became the ruler of Monaco on 12 July 2005, in a celebration that began with a solemn Mass at the cathedral where his father was buried three months before, after a reign of fifty-six years. His accession to the throne was a two-step event with another ceremony drawing heads of state for an elaborate ceremony held on 19 November 2005. He is the son of the late actress and princess Grace Kelly.

The Monaco Grand Prix is May 27.

Credit Wikipedia for the history.


Hans-Joachim Stuck Says

Former F1 driver and sports car pilot Hans-Joachim Stuck says Filipe Massa has proven himself and should be the focus at Ferrari.
German Stuck, a formula one racer in the 70s, usually attends races as a commentator but he missed the Spanish Grand Prix while he recovers from injuries sustained in a recent sports car shunt.  But he nevertheless told the broadcaster 'Premiere' that Raikkonen's performance at Barcelona has now sealed the 'hierarchy' at the Maranello based team.  "Massa has many more points and Ferrari should now concentrate on him," Stuck said in Munich. Stuck described Fernando Alonso  as the 'big loser' in Spain after putting himself 'at risk' by unsuccessfully trying to pass Massa on the first lap.
Hans-Joachaim is the son of the famous Hans Stuck who had much success in the 1930's driving for Auto Union.

Credit F1Live.com for the quote.


Enge to Return

Injured driver Tomas Enge will return to the cockpit for this weekend's ALMS race in Utah.   Enge suffered numerous injuries in a crash while leading the GT2 class for Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing in St. Petersburg.   He's been on the mend for six weeks.
"I didn't know what to expect and was pretty nervous a few days before the test," Enge said.   "But things went fine.  The first couple of laps I wanted to start slowly and build up speed.   But I really couldn't hold myself back."My left hand is still a little weak but I am training quite a lot everyday," he added. "Once I get into the rhythm I will get better and better.  For me, it is like the start of a new season.
I am going to try and get back the things that I used to handle without any trouble." A shattered left elbow was the most serious of Enge's injuries.   He also suffered a contused lung, cracked ribs and severe bruising in the crash at St. Petersburg.
At the time, he wasn't sure when he would be cleared to return to racing but started working immediately toward a goal of being back by the 24 Hours of Le Mans. As soon as he saw that his first goal was within reach, he worked even harder to accelerate his return. "This has been my personal goal, this and the 24 Hours of Le Mans," Enge said. "The rehab went very, very well and was very hopeful I would be able to drive the car at Utah.  I am sure that my determination to get back was a big help in my recovery. I did everything that I could have done."
The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Utah Grand Prix, set for 5:05 p.m. MT on Saturday, May 19 from Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City.  CBS Sports will air the race at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 20.

Credit motorsports.com for the quote.

Ferrari: Mea Culpa

Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo says Driver Kimi Raikkonen’s early departure from the Spanish Grand Grand Prix is the fault of Ferrari. He stands by the Finn.
Montezemolo told La Gazzetta dello Sport: “We are content with Raikkonen. His retirement in the Grand Prix on Sunday was our fault.  If his car had made it to the finish, he would be much higher in the driver classification than he is now.”
Ferrari is committed to Raikkonen, it least in public, but is Raikkonen truly committed to Ferrari? Is he giving everything to win?

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

Up Next - A Win

Everyone is predicting a win in Monaco for Lewis Hamilton.  It's possible.  I can't seem to find odds on Hamilton for Monaco (right now he's 7-2 for the championship).
Asked after Sunday's race whether he had thought it was possible when the season began that he would lead the standings, Hamilton said:  "No, not at all.  I just want to do a good job and that is what I\'m doing.  With that in mind, I've got the points.  But no, I definitely didn't expect to do as well as I'm doing."
Monaco, the glamour highlight of Formula One's calendar, is next up and Hamilton could well add a victory to his remarkable resume. The 22-year-old has raced there three times, in Formula Three and the GP2 support series, and won every time.  After the Spanish race, he turned to Massa and assured the Brazilian that he would get him soon.McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh agreed that the prodigy had every chance, even if Alonso won there for Renault last year and Raikkonen the year before with McLaren.
"I think Lewis has been gearing himself, as he tucks himself into bed at night, to the idea of winning in Monaco," he told Reuters. "But the truth is that both of our guys are very quick there ... I think they both fancy their chances and the car will suit there as well."
Credit Reuters for the quote.

Todt: Much Work To Do

Ferrari seems to have been bitten by some reliability problems this season.   Massa's gearbox problem in Australia and Raikkonen's early retirement in last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.  Ferrari boss Jean Todt is happy with Massa's victory but says there's still much work to do.
"Pole, victory and fastest lap - for the second consecutive race weekend, Felipe put in a flawless performance," enthused Todt.  "He was really great in a great Ferrari car. In the second part of the race, he drove impeccably to control the situation and bring home a wonderful win.  "But we had Kimi's retirement due to a problem in the wiring to the alternator.  "We know one of the indispensable ingredients for winning the championship is reliability and twice now it has been missing this season.
"So despite three wins and four pole positions, we are back to a following role in both classifications because of the great competitiveness of our main rivals.  "Right now this season is very hard to predict.   There is still a long way to go and much work to do to reach the objectives we have set ourselves.  "But we know what is required."
Remember that prior to the Schumacher era, Ferrari was always a mid-pack finisher, if they finished at all.  I think it was the great open wheel driver Rick Mears who said, "To finish first, you must first finish."

Credit sportinglife.com for the quote.

What Does He Know?

I'm always a bit suspect when race promoters dismiss safety concerns.   Apparently, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is pooh-poohing concerns that a night race on a street course could be dangerous.
"There's another street track we've been racing on for quite a few years that's in the south of France - Monaco I think it's called!" said the 76-year-old.  "We've had no trouble there, so I don't see why we should have any trouble at these other street circuits. "But of course there won't be a race unless it is safe."
Of course he would say that!

Credit sportinglife.com for the quote.


Al Unser Jr. Hopes for the Best

Does Al Unser Jr. have what it takes to qualify for the Indy 500? If he qualifies, starts the race and his car holds out, can he win? I’m not so sure given his lack of time behind the wheel and his personal troubles.
It was a sad day for Unser, who left the track without comment after his speed was bumped. Unser is part of one of American open-wheel racing’s royal families, an Albuquerque, N.M., clan that has been an integral part of Indy for decades.

His father, Al Sr., won the big race four times. Uncle Bobby won it twice. Uncle Jerry died in a crash on the historic 2.5-mile oval while practicing for the 1959 race. Little Al’s cousins, Robby and Johnny Unser, have also raced at  Indy, as has Unser Jr.’s son, Al III, although the latter has run only in the developmental Indy Pro Series so far.

Unser Jr. is 45 years old now and has driven only one race — last year’s Indy — since 2004. In recent years, he has become better known for his trouble off the track than his success on it. In 2002, Unser underwent treatment for alcohol abuse after his girlfriend said he hit her in the face while drunk in Indianapolis. Prosecutors did not file charges.

Then there was a January crash in Henderson, Nev. He faces a July 11 trial after pleading not guilty to charges including driving under the influence, misdemeanor hit and run, failure to render aid in an accident and failure to report an accident.

I really hope Al Jr has a good race day. It may be just the thing he needs to pull him out of the apparent depression he’s in. Old race car drivers need to be smart and need things to keep them busy after their racing years are behind them. I guess it’s the same for most professional athletes.

Credit Yahoo IRL for the quote.

BMW Firmly in Third

BMW driver Robert Kubica placed fourth in the Spanish GP.  A good showing that firmly cements BMW’s place as the third best team in F1 today. Nick Heidfeld could have had a better day. The right front lug nut was not on and tightened and later his gearbox failed.
“In the end it was most likely a gearbox problem that stopped me, but unfortunately my race was over much earlier after the problem during my first pit stop. For some reason the front right wheel was loose, we have to look at it how this happened. For the first 24 laps until this stop it looked superb for me. I drove a long first stint and my second stint would also have been a long one. On top of this Alonso was not very quick on the harder tyres in his second stint. I believe I had the chance to finish on the podium today.”

BMW chief Mario Theissen is happy and sad at the same time.

“We view the result with mixed emotions. Eight cars retiring was a lot today, and sadly we were among them – most likely it was a gearbox failure. But as disappointing as this is for us and for Nick, it was a positive result for Robert. He scored our fourth fourth place today, drove a very good race and our team is now established as the third strongest. At the end of the day the result is pleasing. “

Credit F1 Technical for the quote.

Indy 500 Pole Day

Pole day for the Indy 500 was an exciting affair. I was sure AGR driver Dario Franchitti would retain pole position despite attacks by some of the best drivers. Penske’s Helio Castroneves got pole and AGR’s Tony Kanaan almost took it from him.
Kanaan’s teammate at Andretti Green, Dario Franchitti, held the pole for five hours before Castroneves bested that with a four-lap average of 225.817 mph in the waning minutes of qualifying.

Minutes later, as the first of four days of qualifying ended, Kanaan tried to reclaim the pole for Andretti’s team. For three laps, it appeared Kanaan had it. But he slowed slightly on the last lap and finished with a 225.757, six-hundreths of a second slower than Castroneves.

That put Kanaan in the middle of Row 1, giving the Brazilians their second one-two start at Indy since 2003, and left Franchitti, a Scot, on the outside.

Credit Yahoo IRL for the quote.

What’s up with Kimi?

I have a theory about the performance of Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen this year. He started the season winning in Australia. It looked like he would be a dominant force this year. I would have picked him to win the championship.

He put up some heroic drives in the past. There were a number of times at McLaren when, due to an engine change, Raikkonen would drive through the field. He would pass people like a man possessed. I remember him winning at least one race from the back of the grid.

This year he seems to have a different attitude. His driving, both in qualifying and in the race seems to be more “timid”.  He seems to be holding something back.

It may be a case where Raikkonen feels as though he has “arrived” at Ferrari. Perhaps less effort is required because the car is so good or the team is so good. The car has certainly proved to be reliable until Raikkonen’s day in Catalunya. He may feel like he deserves number one status but so far Massa has proved to be the more consistent driver.

Being a world driver’s champion is a mix of skill and luck. If Kimi Raikkonen is not getting the luck, then he’ll have to bring more skill to the season to make up for it. It’s already four races into the season. Now is not the time to dawdle. I think Raikkonen needs to screw on some more determination if he expects to win the big prize this year.

Rosberg Gets First Points

Will Nico Rosberg live up to the reputation of his father, world champion Keke Rosberg?  It's too soon to tell.  Nico finally scored his first Formula One points. Quote from Nico:
"I wasn't perhaps expecting today would turn out so well, but I started last year's first race from 12th place and finished 7th, so I thought I could maybe do it again given my qualifying position.  I have taken the best out of our car today and I was particularly happy that overtaking Ralf was successful. 
I was taking a chance of course, but you've got to try it and it was good for the team.  The new regulation requiring us to use both tyre types mixed it up a bit and although I did suffer some graining late in the race, it didn't matter because I didn't have anyone close in front or behind me.  At the next test in Malaysia we have to improve to keep progressing."
Rosberg should begin to distinguish himself in F1.  No one can keep his job for long by placing seventh unless you're David Coulthard.

Back Grid Report

Congrats to David Coulthard and Red Bull and Takuma Sato and Super Aguri for finishing in the points at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Briton David Coulthard, at 36 the oldest driver in the race, claimed Red Bull’s first points of the season in fifth place at the circuit where he made his Formula One debut in 1994.Germany’s Nico Rosberg was sixth for Williams with Finland’s Heikki Kovalainen seventh for Renault.

Japan’s Takuma Sato gave Super Aguri their first point in Formula One with eighth place. The race was shortened by one lap after the first start was aborted because Italian Jarno Trulli’s Toyota had stalled in sixth place on the grid. Trulli was pushed away and began the race from the pit lane.
His team mate Ralf Schumacher also had a miserable afternoon, rammed from behind by the Williams of Austrian Alexander Wurz when he braked into the new chicane on the opening lap.
Honda once again failed to score their first point of the season, with Brazilian Rubens Barrichello and Briton Jenson Button coming together on the 23rd lap as the latter was leaving the pit lane.
Continued problems for Honda. I just don’t understand. This is a team that could be a world champion contender.

Credit Reuters for the quote.

A1GP v. F1

I just received some correspondence from MD asking if the A1GP and F1 should or would come closer some day. This is a great question.

I think the A1GP is a great series. The technical level of the cars and drivers skills are almost on par with Formula One, sometimes better. I like the idea of cars and drivers competing in a “world cup” of motorsports representing their home counties.

Unfortunately, we don’t get much press coverage of the series here in the states. Once in a while I will see some parts of the race on television. I have to seek out news about the races and drivers so I don’t get to mention it much on my website. Apparently, the season has just concluded at the end of April. A1 Team USA owner Rick Weidinger says:
“We had a successful season on the track and in our commercial activities,” Weidinger, of Washington, D.C., said. “There is strong patriotic appeal to supporting a team that races for the USA in an international series that limits one entry from each nation. I feel the team is now well positioned for next year with drivers, engineers, and mechanics. The entire team has really come together and we are all looking forward to September 30, 2007 in Holland for next season’s opening race.

“I continue to believe that A1GP World Cup of Motorsport is the best product in motorsports. From an owner’s perspective, A1GP delivers a level playing field with fixed operating budgets where more money can’t buy you more speed. It is the relationship between driver and engineer that delivers more speed. Additionally, one team represents its country and the series has attracted young and aggressive drivers from that country. An excellent mix of excitement, business model and patriotism.”

Germany placed first in the 2006-2007 standings with 128 points.

A1GP could certainly serve as a support race during a Formula One weekend. I’m not sure A1GP and Formula One will ever compete together\nor become close partners. A1GP has a good formula that makes for good racing. Hey, if it works why change it.

F1 boss Bernie Eccelstone closely guards the sanctity and product of F1. He’s not likely to want to do anything to compromise the cash cow that the modern F1 series has become. He looks at F1 as the pinnacle of motor sport. All other forms are inferior.

Because F1 and A1GP will probably not come together, that means we get to enjoy these two series for the unique personalities that make them great.

By the way - Former Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice has qualified 16th for the Indy 500 in an A1 Team USA/Dryer and Reinbold car.

Thanks to MD for the correspondence.

Credit WhoWon.com for the quote.


Klein to Honda?

Former Red Bull and Jaguar driver Christian Klein wants Rubens Barrichello’s seat at Honda.
The Austrian, who formerly raced for Milton Keynes-based Jaguar and Red Bull, notes that veteran Barrichello’s contract with the Japanese giant is set to expire.

“It is a possibility, but nothing is guaranteed,” Klien is quoted as saying by the news agency APA.

Klien, however, said returning to the Grand Prix grid is ‘100 per cent my goal.’

“With Honda is would be a logical step,” he added, “because I could integrate myself easily after a year as test driver.”

The poor performance of the Honda appears to have been identified.

Klien acknowledged, however, that Brackley based Honda is far from its goal of winning with the uncompetitive RA107.

Our biggest problem is the aero,” he explained. “The calibration of our wind tunnel was incorrect - the data we collected did not correlate with the data obtained on the track. It has set us back quite a lot and it will not now be easy to catch up.”

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

Lauda: Schumacher is Mascot

Former world champion Niki Lauda has called Michael Schumacher - Ferrari’s Mascot. Very funny!

    Niki Lauda has dismissed as ‘rubbish’ suggestions that Michael Schumacher’s attendance at the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend is anything other than symbolic.

    “I am sure he will follow things closely,” Lauda, who himself was once an advisor to the Maranello based team, told the newspaper Welt.

    Lauda insisted: “But all this gossip about him being an advisor or an assistant is rubbish. I do not know what the internal arrangements are, but my belief is that he is simply curious about keeping motor racing as a part of his life.”

    “For Ferrari, I rather see him as a kind of mascot.”

I’ll bet that Schumacher is still on the payroll at Ferrari. Lauda may be a bit jealous.

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

Coulthard Out?

Red Bull driver David Coulthard is rumored to be out at the end of the year - replaced by who?
Team owner Dietrich Mateschitz hinted in an interview last week that his Milton Keynes squad might better be served by installing a young charger alongside one of the existing experienced racers next year.

With Mark Webber newly arrived and regularly in the top-ten qualifiers, the rumours hinting at a step up from junior team Toro Rosso for Tonio Liuzzi seem to suggest that David Coulthard - who made his Grand Prix debut way back in 1994 at Barcelona - is set for the elbow.

“I’m irritated to have to answer questions based on the fact I was born in 1971,” Coulthard fumed to the British newspaper The Mirror.

“The statistics show I am quicker in the races than Mark and the car telemetry shows it too. End of story.”

I like David Coulthard. Like Michael Schumacher, I feel as though he still has a lot to offer a team and it’s true he is still competitive. He often gets the most out of the under-performing Red Bull car.

Liuzzi is a driver that one cannot take seriously.

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

On Again

The reports that the Singapore Grand Prix for 2008 was dead were greatly exaggerated. It appears that the race is on again. We never know for sure but for now it looks to be done.
The tiny but affluent city-state will organize the first of five Grand Prix in either September or early October 2008, with an option to extend to 2013, trade and industry minister S. Iswaran told a briefing.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said he was confident safety issues would be resolved to allow night-racing, a move designed to boost global TV ratings.

“Yes,” he said via videolink from Barcelona, when asked if the Singapore Grand Prix would be a night event.

Iswaran said hosting an F1 race will bring Singapore closer to its ambition of becoming a “vibrant, global city,” adding that the race is estimated to generate about 100 million Singapore dollars (66 million US) a year in incremental receipts.

It’s been reported that Malaysian officials were not happy with the Singapore race but there’s not much they can do in the face of the marketing juggernaut of Bernie Ecclestone.

Speaking of which, when do you think that old man (79 years old) will step down? What will happen then?

Credit AFP for the quote.


Born Bad

Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella has some pretty harsh words for his car. He says it was born bad. He also says a podium or win is not going to happen this year.
“Of course you can never rule anything out in F1, even winning with this car. But I don’t think I’ll be back on the podium in 2007.”

This season he has scored just eight points from three races, with Renault fourth overall, and in Bahrain last month recognized that any title hopes had evaporated.

“I don’t see any chance of winning a race,” Fisichella told Gazzetta. “The aerodynamics are wrong. It’s better to start straight away on the 2008 car than wasting time fixing a car born bad.”

“Nobody expected a start to the season like this,” he said. “We even thought about bringing back the championship-winning 2006 car but with these tires we wouldn’t have achieved anything.”

It’s the tires fault that Fisichella can’t get on the podium.

Credit Reuters for the quote.

Singapore is Out

It looks like the deal to race at night in Singapore is dead for this year. The government is balking at the cost and there are many difficult infrastructure changes.
The government said it was “willing to support such a venture up to a level commensurate with the broader benefits to the economy.”

The cost of hosting a race, which has been tipped to be the sport’s first night race, is estimated to be 70 million US dollars.

Aside from the costs, the paper said the task of working out logistics, particularly maximizing public safety and minimizing disruptions to local businesses in the area earmarked for the race, was proving to be a nightmare.

It said roads would have to be widened, curbs remodeled and crash barriers erected.

However, lighting was the main challenge as Formula One has no standards for this, having never before hosted a night race.

Those cars could race at Daytona at night. We’ve got plenty of lights.

Credit AFP for the quote.

Schumacher Who?

'Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen are not looking forward to seeing Michael Schumacher. What could be wrong with that. Schumacher is retired and no longer a threat on the race track.
Schumacher is in Spain attending his first race since retiring as a driver last year, but whispers from the Ferrari camp already suggest that his successor, Raikkonen, is far from keen on the prospect of seeing his former nemesis in the Barcelona motor home.

And McLaren’s Alonso told the Spanish newspaper El Pais: “He was in F1 for fifteen years but personally I do not miss him. Okay, fighting against him was not unpleasant, but now we have a big battle with Massa, Raikkonen and Hamilton.”

“It seemed like, with Michael, we had come to a point where it was all a bit monotonous.”

Disagreeing with Alonso and Finland’s Raikkonen, however, is Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, who said this week that he was ‘very happy’ about Schumacher’s confirmed visit to the Circuit de Catalunya.

That’s right! I forgot. Schumacher is a threat to Alonso’s and Raikkonen’s tremendous egos. I think I like Massa a little bit more after these comments.

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

F1 TV Schedule

Speed TV will air this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix

Friday : May 11, 2007 8:00 am Formula One Practice Spanish Grand Prix (LIVE)

Saturday : May 12, 2007 8:00 am Formula One Qualifying Spanish Grand Prix (LIVE)

Sunday : May 13, 2007 7:30 am Formula One Spanish Grand Prix (LIVE)

Streets of Valencia

The European Grand Prix will be held in Valencia, Spain on a newly designed circuit.

The Valencia circuit will be between 4.1-4.3km (2.5-2.7 miles) long and its harbourside location is bound to draw comparisons with the Monaco Grand Prix.

According to Spanish media, Ecclestone insisted the race must be on a street circuit rather than the nearby Ricardo Tormo track in Cheste which hosts a round of the MotoGP and is also used for F1 testing.

Valencia’s willingness to pay an estimated 26m euros (£17.5m) to stage each race as well as the boom in popularity of F1 in Spain, sparked by the emergence of double world champion Fernando Alonso, are seen as major factors behind the decision.
It’s always about money.

Credit BBC for the quote.


Japanese Culture to Blame?

Technical chief at Spyker, Mike Gascoyne blames "Japanese corporate culture" for Honda and Toyota's lack of success.
"They have each tried to do it the Japanese way, with lots of bureaucracy and control from Japan.   And it is not working," he is quoted as saying by The Times.  Former Jordan Technical Director Gary Anderson backed Gascoyne's assessment by recalling that he thought officials in Japan were 'cut off' from the reality of the Formula One world when Honda supplied works engines to the now defunct team. "They could not get to grips with the fact that things were going wrong," he recalled.
I've written about this puzzle before.  It's true that both teams have had their problems.  But both Honda and Toyota have had great success in America.  Honda supplies engines to all the competitors in the Indy Racing league.  In the past, Honda and Toyota have supplied engines to the various open wheel series in America with great results.

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

Pedro Says

McLaren's third driver, Pedro de la Rosa calls the track changes in Barcelona safer:
"The biggest change is the new chicane and this will be the first time we are racing with it.   Basically we have lost the two high speed corners that lead you into the main straight.   I think it is positive, because it means you will be able to get close to the guy in front and if you have a quicker car you can actually overtake into turn one," he explained.
"One of the characteristics of the Circuit de Catalunya has always been that the two high speed corners before the main straight are so difficult to get close to the guy in front, so you can't overtake.   It is safer first of all, and then, just as importantly, it is better for the spectators.  "It will give them the chance to see some overtaking, when at the Spanish Grand Prix, qualifying has been traditionally so important, because your starting position tended to be your finishing position. It will be much more open now."
Why does overtaking come down to track design rather than driver skill?  A good driver should be able to overtake despite the track.

Credit Crash.net for the quote.

Felipe Says

Ferrari driver Felipe Massa says he's not keen on the changes made to the circuit at Catalunya:
"I am looking forward to the Spanish Grand Prix.   As you may know, they have modified the circuit and this will be the first time we actually race on the changed layout.   I have to say from the point of view of just driving pleasure, the new version is worse than the old, because there are more slow corners and slow chicanes. That is not what we racing drivers like.   But, I have to admit that from the point of view of making the racing exciting, for making a spectacle, it is a good idea, as there will be more overtaking opportunities at the end of the straight, as you no longer have a very quick corner.
So for the show, I think it is better now.   Of course, I can be optimistic about the Spanish Grand Prix: I won the last race, we had a good test at the same circuit that hosts the race and even though it is never easy to win races, I can be confident. Within the team, we just want to keep the momentum going forward and everyone is working very hard in every area to achieve that."
Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

Kimi Says

Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen says the car's aero package is important at Catalunya:
"To be in the front row and to win on the Catalunya circuit you need the best aerodynamics possible and a really good set-up:  the whole package has to work the best way possible;  after the tests I can see that the team has done some excellent work.  The new chicane has made the track a little bit slower, but that applies to all of us: it's still a very demanding track, for cars and drivers.  Last February we had a good test session and we managed to make the set-up even better now, also thanks to the new components, which give me a very positive feeling.  All in all the car is much better to drive now."
Raikkonen is a big fan of the NHL's Mighty Ducks!
"We come to Spain to win; and we'll do the best to accomplish this goal.  It is a hard-fought championship and it is always important to gain as many points as possible.  The best part of the season is yet to start: summer is coming and we race in Europe.  Now I can even follow the important part of the ice hockey season, because I'm a really big fan.  Over the last days I watched all the games of the world championship in Moscow and also the playoff in the Stanley Cup, where my friend Teemu Selanne plays for the Mighty Ducks from Anaheim:  the Finnish national team and my friend are doing really well and I'm really happy about that.  I also did some exercises on ice, but also on the green, as the golf season is about to start: my swing is ready!"
Hey Kimi. Focus on your driving please.

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

McLaren Wants to Lose

The competition director for Mercedes, Norbert Haug says McLaren will not favor one driver over another.
"There are not only two drivers in the team, but also the two crews who look after their cars," 54-year-old Haug told the magazine Spiegel.  Not implementing a driver hierarchy within a top team, such as like Michael Schumacher's former position at Ferrari, has traditionally impeded its quest for the title.  But Haug said McLaren's philosophy is different to Ferrari, the Italian team which is likely to get behind either Felipe Massa or Kimi Raikkonen as their superiority becomes clearer later this year.  Haug explained: "The drivers and the other team members only perform at their best if they know that they are fully respected with no disadvantages."   He added that top drivers are usually sensitive, "like first-rate talents in other industries."   "And if you cooperate as closely as you do in a F1 team, mutual respect is particularly important," said Haug.
Is this the way to get the best out of everyone, or will this doom McLaren to failure?

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

Massa Receives Award

Ferrari driver Felipe Massa has received the Bandini trophy named for famous Italian driver Lorenzo Bandini.
"The award is very important and prestigious," 26-year-old Massa said this week.   "It is usually given in the early stages of one's career and reflects also on how well you have done in the previous year's championship."  Massa added:   "I was extremely happy to accept it and I was given a very warm reception by the people in the town square for the ceremony."
Bandini was burned to death in an accident at Monte Carlo in 1967.

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.


Testing Happy for Toyota

Toyota's Jarno Trulli reports a good test day in Barcelona despite the wet weather.
"I spent the day working on set-up and configurations for next week's Spanish Grand Prix. It was good to try out the new package, which has many new parts to help our performance.  It seems like a step forward but it's difficult to draw too many conclusions from today because the conditions have been a bit strange.  The track was wet yesterday and it was gradually drying out during the morning.  There has also been quite a lot of wind, which has a major effect on set-up around here. Still, the day has gone quite well, we put in a number of short and long runs without major problems and we've gathered a lot of data that will be useful for the grand prix weekend."
Toyota needs to have a number of good test days.  Tomorrow will be Ralf Shumacher's time at the wheel.

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

It Can't Happen

I love this news report.  The headline reads "Schumacher visit to be low-profile".
But the retired champion's media spokeswoman, Sabine Kehm, also insisted that Schumacher will be an active member of the Ferrari team - rather than merely a guest - at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.  "He will be watching structures in the background and looking at where things can be improved,"   Kehm is quoted as saying by the Deutsche Presse-Agentur. Kehm's warning follows earlier reports that said Schumacher would probably not even speak to the media this weekend.
That's like saying the Pope is going to be spending "a quiet weekend in Brazil".

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

Spectator Death

One of the things I think is most dangerous, yet thrilling, about World Rally is how close the spectators can get to the action.  You have people right next to cars speeding at 40,  50,  60  or more miles per hour.  Now someone has been killed at the Rally Argentina.
The rally was tainted by tragedy on Saturday when a 49-year-old female spectator was killed after a local crew lost control of their Group N Subaru Impreza 200 metres from the start of a stage and crashed into three people.  The driver, 32-year-old Gonzalo Alenaz from Buenos Aires, faces possible charges of culpable homicide.
I'm surprised at how rare this type of accident is.  I am not proposing that "something be done".  If you are a race fan, read the fine print on the back of your ticket next time.  And as the lawyers say "govern yourself accordingly".

Credit Guardian Unlimited for the quote.

Three in a Row

Three in a row for Sebastian Loeb when he won the Rally Argentina on Sunday.  There was a little mixup with transportation.
Seven stages were canceled on Friday because bad weather left some drivers stranded in Buenos Aires, 700km from the rally's host city, after an opening super-special in the capital\'s River Plate stadium on Thursday.  Loeb won 10 stages in total, including the last super-special.  The Frenchman added to his Rally Argentina wins in 2005 and 2006.Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala, in a Stobart Ford, was fourth ahead of Norwegian Henning Solberg in another Ford.
Loeb now leads the World Rally Championship standings with Ford's Marcus Gronholm second and Mikko Hirvonen third.

Credit Reuters for the quote.


Charity Begins at Home

It appears that McLaren and Ron Dennis have done something admirable and charitable.  They have donated money to an arts group in return for a loan of some inspiring artwork.
Team boss Ron Dennis, however, had revealed that he hoped displaying some of Britain's top sculptures around the huge and impressive Woking factory would stimulate workers ''individual creativity'.  It also emerges that, unlike the traditional team-sponsor arrangement of money in return for promotion, the only party forking out the cash for this arrangement is McLaren itself.
The team says it wants to help the Arts Council  'increase its already important support of the young and emerging artists working in Britain,' while the English broadsheet newspaper The Guardian revealed that Dennis is an avid art aficionado and recreational collector.
Now this is news that renews my faith in the goodness of the Formula One community.   How come we don't hear more about the good works of F1?

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

Commoners Service

Former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn has found out what it's like to watch F1 on the telly. It's frustrating:
Brawn also referred disparagingly to the 'quality of commentators' of Britain\'s F1 coverage.  "I sympathise with you," he told readers of the British magazine Autosport.  "Our commentators don't seem very good at conveying what is going on. "It's very frustrating to watch a race and not have that information which is available to everyone at the track.   So condolences for that."
Brawn may want to come back to F1 to simply get a better look at events rather than rely on television coverage.

Credit F1-Live.com

Prost Predicts

Let's hope Alain Prost can make predictions better than he ran his F1 team.  Prost predicts Massa for this year's world drivers champion and Ferrari for team title.
The Frenchman observed that Ferrari have clearly the fastest package so far this year, "and Massa can be world champion," Prost told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport."Why? Because he knows the team better than Raikkonen."Prost, also a former team owner, also said Ferrari is the favourite to edge rivals McLaren in the constructors' contest. "They have more recent experience of winning and are always a team that is hard to beat," said the 52-year-old, who drove for the Italian stable in the 90s. "The only question mark for them is the rivalry between their own drivers, because most recently they have always concentrated on just one driver," he said.
Prost drove for Ferrari and headed up his own F1 team for five years.

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

Why Would He Do That?

Former world drivers champion Nigel Mansell says it would be be wonderful if F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone bought the legendary Siverstone circuit.
"I think it would be wonderful if Bernie ended up buying the whole thing and doing something very special," Mansell told the Daily Telegraph in Britain. Silverstone's current Grand Prix contract runs until 2009. The circuit is perpetually high on Ecclestone's list of gripes as he demands upgrades.  But Mansell said of the 76-year-old: "He is the only person who could afford to do that.   It would cost a lot of money but Bernie is the godfather of motor sport."
Silverstone is currently owned by the British Racing Driver's Club.  Of course, the questions are: Why would Ecclestone buy Silverstone?  What would he do with it?

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.


Old NHRA News

I know this is old news but I can't resist writing that Ashley Force beat her father, 14 time Funny Car Champion John Force.
"Being the first woman to beat dad?  I think it's the funniest thing I've ever heard," Ashley Force said.  "He's got all these daughters and he's been racing all these years and no woman has ever beaten him before."
John Force, who is not one to be very happy when it comes to losing, actually took the defeat at the hands of his daughter as something that was bound to happen sooner or later. "I was so proud of Ashley.  She beat two world champions (Force and Pedregon) and got to the semifinals.  Wee gonna fix my 'ol heap now and see if we can't get back in the hunt for the championship," John said.
The NHRA racers will be in Madison, Illinois this weekend for the Oeilly Midwest Nationals.

Credit All Headline News for the quote.

Mansell is Right

1992 World Champion Nigel Mansell is right about McLaren rookie Lewis Hamilton.  Just as things have gone right for him so far, the tables can turn and all could start to go wrong.  It's too soon to tell if his success is his skill or the superior car.
"What can you say?" Mansell, who is now pushing on the single-seater careers of his sons Leo and Greg, said.  "We had to win races and challenge for championships before we got the rewards.  Now you seem to get the rewards before you achieve." Mansell insisted that he has no hard feelings for Hamilton, but credited much of the 22-year-old rookie\'s impressive debut so far in 2007 to McLaren. He commented: "McLaren have been way overdue for success. Timing is everything.  When a driver can arrive with a team and an engine coming right, it makes a difference.  No disrespect to him."But Mansell hints that Hamilton's immaculate preparation for F1 since first meeting Ron Dennis at the age of ten, makes comparisons with earlier greats unsuitable.
It's still early in the season. You can bet that Alonso wants to win as many races as possible.

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

Berger Likes Senna

Toro Rosso co-owner and former Ferrari driver Gerhard Berger likes Bruno Senna.
I have been observing him for some time," Berger told Sport Bild. "If he can now confirm the great potential he showed in Bahrain, then Formula One is the next step. "Berger's affection for Senna is bad news for American driver Scott Speed, whose seat already came into doubt after his moderate debut last season.
I don't know what Berger has against Speed.  If he doesn't like him he should just get rid of him and hire another.  There are plenty of good drivers out there like Sebastian Bourdais for one.  But just stop sniping at Speed.

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.


Gene: Opposed to Street Circuits

Test driver Marc Gene says street circuits are unsafe.
"It is definitely not going to be safer for the drivers," Gene said of the apparent trend. "With the exception of Monaco, the occurrence of street races has been fading over the years." "I don't think it is a good idea that they start coming back, obviously because of safety," Gene continued. "But also in terms of the spectacle (I am opposed) because you almost never see overtaking on a street circuit. Just from the perspective of a driver, I am not in favour."
I would be opposed from a fan perspective.  It's more difficult to see the cars.  I'm not sure that street circuits are less safe.  I think that's just an excuse being used to quash the push for more street courses.

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

Let Hamilton Talk

Famous raconteur and former F1 team leader Eddie Jordan says Ron Dennis should not be so protective of phenom Lewis Hamilton:
"Media interviews, through generating interest for fans and exposure for paying sponsors, are the lifeblood of Formula 1 " Jordan told F1 Racing magazine.  "So, what was Ron Dennis thinking when he stopped Lewis Hamilton doing interviews on the Melbourne and Sepang grids?   Ten other drivers would gladly have done it, and all sponsors would give their right arm for a logo shown in the pre-start minutes."  Jordan added that Dennis' cageyness could even harm Hamilton's career in the future.
"And fans certainly wanted to hear F1's new star, live.   I don't understand what he was being protected from, and it'll only hurt his profile.   Nobody in F1 is too important for 'trivialities' like the media.   Let's get this straight: focus on technology and driving all you want, but if nobody's watching, you ain't gonna be at it for long.  "Lewis is good enough to stay focused.   He doesn't need nannying.   Ron should have let us have our piece: we're entitled to get to know him," he added.
We haven\'t heard much from Eddie Jordan recently.  What he says is true.  Let Hamilton talk to the media. You can't shield him forever.

Credit Setana Sports for the quote.

May Madness

It's the month of May and that means it's time for the Indianapolis 500.  I've given up on my objections to Tony George and how he ruined the Indy 500.  Now that Ganassi, Penske, and Rahal are in the IRL it's more like CART than ever.  That's another story.  Here is the schedule for the activities leading up to the Indy 500. On-track Schedule (all times Local Time):
Rookie Orientation Program Sun, 6 May :: Noon - 5 p.m.
Rookie Orientation Program Mon, 7 May :: Noon - 5 p.m.
Practice 1 Tue, 8 May :: Noon - 6 p.m.
Practice 2 Wed, 9 May :: Noon - 6 p.m.
Practice 3 Thu, 10 May :: Noon - 6 p.m.
Practice 4/Fast Friday Fri, 11 May :: Noon - 6 p.m.
Practice 5 Sat, 12 May :: 9 - 11 a.m.
Pole Day Qualifying Sat, 12 May :: Noon - 6 p.m.
Practice 6 Sun, 13 May :: 10:15 - 11:15 a.m.
2nd Day Qualifying Sun, 13 May :: Noon - 6 p.m.
Practice 7 Wed, 16 May :: Noon - 6 p.m.
Practice 8 Thu, 17 May :: Noon - 6 p.m.
Practice 9 Fri, 18 May :: Noon - 6 p.m.
Practice 10 Sat, 19 May :: 10:15 - 11:15 a.m.
3rd Day Qualifying Sat, 19 May :: Noon - 6 p.m.
Practice 11 Sun, 20 May :: 10:15 - 11:15 a.m.
Bump Day Qualifying Sun, 20 May :: Noon - 6 p.m.
Final Practice Fri, 25 May :: 11 - Noon
91st Indianapolis 500 Sun, 27 May :: 1 p.m. Live on ABC
Some of these practice sessions and qualifying are going to be on TV.  As they say, check your local listings.

Credit IndyCar.com for the schedule.

BMW Can Win

In an earlier post I quoted Fernando Alonso as saying that BMW could fight for a win this year. He said that on certain circuits BMW would perform better.

I'm thinking that BMW could win Monaco this year.   It's a smaller, tighter course and if they play their strategy right BMW can win.

Here's how...Sandbag during the weekend's practice sessions.  Don't show your true speed at first. Then during qualifying run a very light fuel load.  The key to winning at Monaco is to get pole position.  Do everything to get pole because once you get out front no one can pass you on that tight circuit. Start the race on a lighter fuel load and run like hell for the first 15 laps. Get as far out in front as possible before you pit.

Take a full fuel load on the first pit stop and don't worry.  Be like M. Schumacher and make the most of your in and out of the pit times.  Drive a steady race.   Do not try to pass unnecessarily and do not push the car.  This is not the time for mechanical failure.  The other competitors will cycle through their pit stops and you will find yourself out front at the end of the race.

Alonso Says

Let's start today's coverage with a few quotes from reigning world champion Fernando Alonso. Alonso says bad luck will help break the current tie in points:
The two Ferrari  and McLaren  drivers will fight together probably until the middle of the season," Spaniard Alonso said in an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur." Eventually one or two will have some bad luck or stop achieving such good results, so that at the end of the championship probably only two or three will be left to fight."
 Alonso likes teammate Lewis Hamilton:
"He is very fast and deserves his ranking in the championship.  Hopefully he can keep it up for the whole year," the Spaniard said.
 Alonso says there may be a venue this year where BMW can win.
"At the moment there is a small gap from the two top teams to BMW," he said. "But perhaps at some circuits there will not be such a gap. We saw in Bahrain that Nick is capable of fighting for the front positions. I think there will be races when not only McLaren and Ferrari are on the podium, but Nick as well.  And perhaps he will even fight for a victory," Alonso added.
I think the most likely place for a BMW win would be Monaco.  I'll outline BMW's strategy for winning in my next post.

Credit F1-Live.com for the quotes.


Tambay to Race in Formula BMW

Patrick Tambay's 16 year old son Adrien will be competing in the Formula BMW series starting with this weekend's race at Oschersleben.
Adrien Tambay is the son of former McLaren and Ferrari driver Patrick Tambay, the Frenchman who won two Grand Prix in his 123-race career in the 70s and 80s. Part of BMW's exclusive Young Driver Scholarship Programme, Tambay will race in 2007 for JK Racing, the current champions who powered names including Nico Rosberg and Adrian Sutil to past title success.
Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

Rosberg Crashes

Williams driver Nico Rosberg crashed heavily in testing at Barcelona Wednesday. He was taken to hospital:
Rosberg, the son of former world champion Keke and ninth in the new season standings, wrecked the side and front of his FW29 car after the crash at turn 10 which came barely 36 hours after the team\'s test driver Kazuki Nakajima damaged his chassis in a shunt. A Williams spokesperson confirmed Rosberg, who began his season with a seventh-place in Australia for his only points to date, was not hurt.
The crash ended Williams test day.

Credit Wheels 24 for the quote.

Hello to the U.K.

I just got some lovely correspondence from a lady in Great Britain. Hello to all my readers in the U.K.  As you may know, The Howell Report is based in Florida, USA. Your honorable Queen Elizabeth is presently visiting our country.

I certainly hope to visit your great nation some day because it is filled with enthusiastic Formula One fans!


Stop Messing with Formula One

Formula One Teams from top to bottom all agree that it is VERY expensive to compete. Teams are always scrambling for resources. But the FIA never stops changing the rules. That's why costs continue to rise.
While admitting that there should be more overtaking in Formula One, however, Mosley said a working group is already investigating ways to spice up the show - including the possibility of re-introducing slick tyres. "We've got four of the top teams working together to see if they can improve the situation,"

Mosley is quoted as saying by the Bridgestone Motorsport website. "It remains to be seen whether they'll succeed, but if they don't we'll probably do something really radical in 2010." Mosley also said all the controversy about the incoming 'engine freeze' rules last season had now been discredited after it made 0 difference to the sport so far this year except to save the car makers millions of dollars.
All this talk of, there needs to be more overtaking in Formula One, is blather. There is overtaking in F1 when the situation is right for passing. There will never be enough overtaking in F1 for some people.

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

Ross Brawn will Return to Formula One

I'm going to go out on a limb and make a prediction. Ross Brawn says he will be making a decision in July as to his future in Formula One.
The former Ferrari technical director took advantage of Michael Schumacher's retirement to step back from life on the front line and take a year out of Formula One, but his absence from Maranello has set tongues wagging with regard to possible future involvement.
Both Honda and McLaren have been touted as alternative employers should Brawn opt to return to the fray in 2008, although the man himself insists that Ferrari will be his first port of call. "In July, I will make a decision," he was quoted as saying by as.com, "Before that, I have to speak with Ferrari and, if I do not arrive at an agreement with them and the desire to continue still burns, I will begin to think about other options."
I do not think Brawn will come to an agreement. He can go to any team on the grid and simply name his price. Brawn is a genius and Ferrari will fail to appreciate his talent.

I predict Brawn to McLaren.

Credit Crash.net for the quote.

Fastest Lap

Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen posted the fasted lap at a rain soaked track in Barcelona Spain on Tuesday.
In a continuation of yesterday's finale, Kimi Raikkonen accomplished the fastest lap on the wet, driving his Ferrari F2007 over the track in 1:30.280 ten seconds slower than yesterday (on the dry). He was followed by a surprise second-fastest lap from Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber, with Heikki Kovalainen taking third at the wheel of the Renault R27. The top five continued with Nick Heidfeld BMW and Nico Rosberg Williams, with Nico having a best time over two seconds behind the day's leader.
If the Bridgestone tires are better on the wet than the old Michelin's, then all lap times should tighten up and come in closer to one another.

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.


Staying Focused

BMW chief Mario Thessien is happy with the progress of the BMW team and says bigger is not always better:
Theissen happily admits that the German manufacturer is "ahead of schedule" in its F1 project, but hinted that some of the success is down to his desire to keep BMW simple. My personal conviction is that resources are to a certain extent necessary but will never guarantee success," he said. "I see a big chance to get distracted if you have too many opportunities. So that is why we don't want to have the biggest team, why we don't want to have two wind tunnels or even three." Theissen explained: "Focus is more important than sheer size."
Whatever Mario and BMW are doing they should keep it up because it's working.

Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.

Dan Weldon's Not in Kansas Anymore

Dan Weldon has won the Kansas Lottery 300 and was very dominant throughout the race.  We are now seeing flashes of brilliance out of Andretti-Green Racing.  Dario Franchitti finished second and Tony Kanaan had a car that was fast enough to win.

What's happened to Penske? Helio Castroneves finished a respectable third but Sam Hornish had a loose car all day. He only got it under control with about 50 laps to go. By then it was too late. The big controversy of the day was when Danica Patrick collided with Kanaan damaging his suspension and putting him out of the race:
Kanaan, who fell from second to fifth in the points standings, left without commenting on the accident.  He later issued a brief statement calling Sunday "an extremely disappointing day" still without going into specifics.  But Patrick said she was cleared to take off by spotter Kim Green and crew chief Dave Popielarz. "I listened to them, and they said, 'Go,'" she said.  "Obviously, T.K. was there.  I feel bad because Tony had a really fast car, but it cost both of us a chance to win a race for AGR. "Kanaan, who had been running second, eventually got back on the track but finished 15th, eight laps down.  Patrick was delayed getting out of the pits by the accident but came back for her best finish of the year.
 Did I say that there's something about Dan Weldon that creeps me out?

Credit San Jose Mercury News for the quote.

Dutch Love Beer

In 1994 the World Cup came to Orlando/Central Florida. I saw up close how much the Dutch love their beer. It was not pretty. I'm not surprised to see this:
Spyker has teamed up with Heineken to launch the first-ever Formula One-themed sports bar in the Netherlands, while also agreeing to work together at the track, as Heineken becomes the official beer supplier at events organized by the team.
Further details regarding the sports bar concept, including the location and opening date, won't be announced until the beginning of July, but the will carry both Spyker and Heineken branding as the two partners link up to promote the brewer's alcohol awareness campaign 'Enjoy Heineken Responsibly'. Marketing director Herwin van den Berg believes the co-operation between the pair is a perfect match.
Credit Crash.net for the quote.

Scrappy Team

Williams is my favorite minnow on the F1 tour. Although they've not been acting so minnow like. Now they've upped their deal with the Royal Bank of Scotland -- RBS:
"AT&T Williams are very privileged that our partnership with a brand of RBS' stature has been extended," team owner Sir Frank Williams commented," "It is a fruitful relationship that has developed and strengthened over the last two seasons and I look forward to it continuing successfully.
"Confirmation of RBS' continued support further boosts a strong start to Williams' season on- and off-track, with the Toyota-powered FW29 proving a strong contender for points in a competitive midfield group and a string of new and renewed sponsorship agreements - including the arrival of Air Asia - having already been revealed.
Credit Crash.net for the quote.

McLaren Tests Wing

Team McLaren is testing a new aerodynamic front wing this week in Spain:
Test driver Pedro de la Rosa was at the wheel of the concept; a more aggressive version of the sort of front wing design pioneered by teams including Williams and Toyota. The upper plane on the new McLaren wing, which was compared back-to-back with an older design on Monday morning, extends uniquely above and across the entire tip of the MP4-22's front nose.
Credit F1-Live.com for the quote.