Posted on May 31, 2009


I’ve been fascinated by the coverage of the FOTA teams’ entry for next year’s world championship in the last couple of days. On Friday morning I was saying that something was going to come out of FOTA which was quite different from the convergence position with the FIA that was being widely reported. And so it proved. Then when the FOTA statement was made most commentators seemed to see it as Ferrari and the other eight teams signing up after all, which it was some way from being. Ferrari obviously felt quite frustrated with this and so they issued one More…

Posted on May 30, 2009


The nine remaining teams in the Formula One Teams Association submitted a conditional entry for the 2010 world championship before the deadline at midnight last night. Along with that single entry for all nine of them, they have submitted a document with proposals for cost reduction to the FIA, which Toyota’s John Howett describes as ‘comprehensive’. There has been a mixed reaction to this. Some media are saying that Ferrari and the other teams have signed up for 2010, others are highlighting the conditional nature of the entry and the two main conditions which they want to see fulfilled before More…

Posted on May 29, 2009


After all the brinkmanship, the tough talking and the threats, the Formula 1 teams should today, barring any last minute upset, submit entries by midnight for the 2010 world championship. Ferrari will still be a Formula 1 team and life will carry on. A statement is expected today from the Formula One Teams Association with their position ahead of the deadline, although team sources could not confirm at what time this might be published. Intriguingly, it has been suggested to me, however, that this statement will not be along the lines of what has been speculated in the media since More…

Posted on May 28, 2009


There has been quite a bit of chatter in the last couple of days about Jenson Button’s future, in light of comments made by Brawn GP’s Nick Fry on the subject. “Jenson’s been with us a long time, and we’ve had failures and we’ve had successes,” said Fry. “My objective, and our objective, is to have him for the rest of his career, and nothing’s changed on that front. It’s mutual that he would like to stay with the team, and after five race wins, we should be able to get something together.” After five wins from six races and More…

Posted on May 27, 2009


At a meeting of FOTA teams in London today it was decided to suspend the membership of the Williams team, after they broke ranks and submitted an entry to the 2010 world championship. “Fota’s decision, although regrettable, is understandable,” said team boss Frank Williams. “As a company whose only business is F1 with obligations to our partners and employees entering was unquestionable. In addition we are legally obliged under our contract with FOM and the FIA to participate in the world championship until the end of 2012.” Williams acknowledged that the suspension of the team is temporary, pending ongoing negotiations More…

Posted on May 26, 2009


I posted here on Sunday morning that I had heard Williams were going to break ranks with the other Formula 1 teams and put in an entry for the 2010 season this week and they have done that. I’ve been thinking about this, about why they have done it, what it will do to FOTA unity and where it leaves the other teams. Williams have become the team closest to the FIA in recent times. In part this is down to a personal relationship between Williams CEO Adam Parr and Max Mosley. Both trained as barristers and I think they More…

Posted on May 25, 2009


Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix saw confirmation that Ferrari are back in business. Kimi Raikkonen qualified within hundredths of a second of Jenson Button with only two laps less fuel on board and in the race the Scuderia got its first double points haul of the season, with Raikkonen third and Felipe Massa fourth. On top of that, Massa set the fastest race lap, with 1min 15.154, four hundredths of a second faster than Jenson Button’s fastest lap in the Brawn and two tenths faster than the Red Bull of Mark Webber. It is tempting to say that Ferrari has now More…

Posted on May 24, 2009


This morning in Monaco there was plenty of activity around the ongoing discussions about the 2010 F1 rules and plenty of chat about what was going to happen next. It seems to be becoming widely believed that Toyota will use this situation to make its exit from Formula 1. They were thinking about it towards the end of 2008, but there seems to be general belief among the other teams that they will go at the end of this year. BMW, which is having its worst season by far in F1, is also said to be reviewing it’s participation. FIA More…

Posted on May 24, 2009


Jenson Button did another first class job to win the Monaco Grand Prix from pole position today. He was followed home by Rubens Barrichello and Kimi Raikkonen, who gave Ferrari their first podium of the season. Barrichello got the jump on Raikkonen at the start, which was crucial for the outcome of the race as it kept the Ferraris from challenging at the end of the first stint when their tyres were superior. Both Brawns started on the supersoft tyre, the least attractive of the two tyres this weekend. This was quite a bold move, but it paid off for More…

Posted on May 24, 2009


It’s race day in Monaco. The weather has been fantastic all weekend and it’s perfect again for the Grand Prix. The crowds coming in today on the train were much greater than yesterday. Tens of thousands pouring into the Principality. There are still plenty of grandstand seats left, though at Tabac, St Devote, Swimming Pool, Chicane. Not surprising really as they are between €400 and €450 each! The most affordable place to watch from is the Rocks area looking down on the Nogues corner which leads onto the pit straight. It’s €70 to sit up there, but you are sitting More…

Posted on May 23, 2009


Monaco is always a tough race to predict because of the 50% chance of a safety car. For this reason a lot of teams split their strategies, putting one car on quite a light fuel load and the other on a heavier one. That way, if a safety car comes out early and wrecks the lighter cars’s race, the heavier car has a chance. Last year Sebastian Vettel went from 18th on the grid to finish fifth, thanks to safety cars and Lewis Hamilton could do something similar if fate intervenes. Jenson Button did a sublime job today, with a More…

Posted on May 23, 2009


Take nothing away from Jenson Button, that was a mighty lap this afternoon to take pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix, but Sebastian Vettel is left once again thinking about what might have been. The German, who is the Brawn drivers’ closest rival in the drivers’ championship, felt that he had the car today to challenge for pole position, but when it mattered he came upon Kazuki Nakajima on a hot lap, which wasn’t so hot and he lost vital time. Like so many occasions this season, Vettel has been thwarted, but F1 is all about making things happen More…

Posted on May 23, 2009


There is a fantastic interview with Fernando Alonso in the Gazzetta dello Sport today, in which he gently moves closer to talking about Ferrari and his possible move there. According to Pino Allievi, the number one writer on the paper, Alonso has moved to a house on the border between Switzerland and Italy, near Lugano. He spoke about the affection he has for Italy and Italians: “As a Spaniard I feel more at ease with Italians,” he said. “We have a lot of shared culture and character. We have identical feelings.” As for Ferrari he started talking about the team, More…

Posted on May 23, 2009


Although nothing concrete came out of yesterday’s meetings it seems progress was made and there is something still to talk about. Everyone seems to have calmed down and there was no more talk of Ferrari leaving the sport following the meetings. The boss of the Monaco Grand Prix, Michel Boeri, however did have something to say on the subject: “What would the Monaco Grand Prix be without Ferrari? A catastrophe. Like the Cannes Film Festival without the stars.” Picking up more details of how things are moving, it seems that the teams are pushing to have a more gradual reduction More…

Posted on May 22, 2009


Three hours waiting in the Ferrari motorhome this evening, for a press conference which was all set up for a 5pm start, but then that slipped as the meeting between the teams, the FIA and FOM rolled on. In the end we were told that the meeting was ‘constructive’ but inconclusive so there will be more meetings in the next couple of days. This means that there is some hope. There have clearly been some concessions on both sides. The teams and the FIA stood on the brink and stared into the abyss and Bernie Ecclestone worked hard to make More…

Posted on May 22, 2009


While we wait for the grands fromages to have their meetings and decide what kind of spectacle we are going to see next year and beyond in Formula 1, I thought a brief colour post might be in order. For the first time in years I’m not staying in Monaco this year. I’m in Villefranche, which is 20 minutes west by train. They have a fantastic train service here with double decker trains whizzing you along the coastline. Monaco railway station is a 10 minute walk from the paddock and the media centre. On my way in I passed a More…

Posted on May 22, 2009


This is going to be a big day. The F1 team owners meet this morning to discuss their next move in the escalating row over the 2010 budget cap rules. By the end of today, the teams will really have to make their minds up whether they are going to put an entry in before the deadline of May 29th. At the moment, there is every indication that Ferrari are determined to stick to their guns and if nothing changes they will not put an entry in for 2010. They are backed up by other manufacturers including Renault and Toyota. More…

Posted on May 21, 2009


I caught up with Fernando Alonso this afternoon at his press briefing in the Renault motorhome. He’s one of the few drivers to do this session on the first day of practice. I was interested to hear how good it felt to be back on the streets here, brushing the barriers, feeling that unique adrenalin rush of Monaco. His answer surprised me a little, “Not feeling good because being close to the barriers is not something you enjoy too much it’s a bit stressful. It’s always nice to be at Monaco and you get a different feeling, but it’s very More…

Posted on May 21, 2009


I wasn’t surprised to hear Jenson Button saying that racing is dominating his life at the moment. Button is like many drivers who have found themselves in with a chance of winning the world title. Presented with an unexpected opportunity to fulfill his lifetime’s ambition, Button is finding that he can think of little else between races. “I’m probably a right boring bastard at the moment, I really am,” he said. Jenson has always had a relaxed air about him in person and in the years when things were not going so well, he found it easy to switch off More…

Posted on May 21, 2009


Two weeks ago Felipe Massa’s hopes of a podium in Spain were wrecked by a strange situation with the refuelling of his Ferrari, which meant that the team believed he was running out of fuel and was telling him to slow down in the closing stages of the race. He lost places to Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. When we spoke to him after the race he and the team had not worked out the reason, but yesterday he explained what happened, “What happened to my car especially in the last race was something that I never saw More…

Posted on May 20, 2009


This is going to be one of those weekends, where the buzz is constant and the drama level high. The strange statement on the Ferrari website denigrating the teams hoping to enter F1 seems to have garnered the most reaction, certainly a lot of the media are focussed on it. But in the wider sphere, the reaction has been interesting to the news from Paris that Ferrari’s injunction has failed. This is one of those moments when you need to apply a bit of perspective and calm appraisal, rather than run screaming. We’ve had some great comments on this site More…

Posted on May 20, 2009


On the official Ferrari website there is an extraordinary piece, posted today, which has a major dig at the calibre of teams lining up to join Formula 1 next season under the new budget cap rules. The tone is very disparaging. Under the headline “Formula 1 or GP3?” the following piece appears, “Maranello, 20th May – They couldn’t almost believe their eyes, the men at women (sic) working at Ferrari, when they read the papers this morning and found the names of the teams, declaring that they have the intention to race in Formula 1 in the next year. Looking More…

Posted on May 20, 2009


Ferrari has lost its legal challenge against the FIA in the Paris courts. The team had been laying the ground for the legal challenge for a while and had set great store by the outcome. Now the legal route is closed to them, they will have to try to persuade as many teams as they can to stick with them and not put in an entry for the 2010 championship by next week’s deadline of May 29th. The dreaded word ‘breakaway’ will be on the agenda. Although Ferrari felt they had a strong case in Paris, the FIA were more More…

Posted on May 19, 2009


I’ve been enjoying working with the leading F1 photographer Darren Heath this season. He has a fantastic eye and always gets an original view on a Grand Prix weekend. We are experimenting with ways we can work together on content and this is a Flickr slideshow with my captions. For maximum impact, expand it to full screen and click on “Show info” to get the captions. (You will need the latest Flash plug-in installed and your browsers might prefer to go directly to the JAF1 Flickr pages) [vodpod id=Groupvideo.2529187&w=425&h=350&fv=offsite%3Dtrue%26offsite%3Dtrue%26amp%3Blang%3Den-us%26amp%3Bpage_show_url%3D%252Fphotos%252Fjaf1%252Fsets%252F72157618183455056%252Fshow%252F%26amp%3Bpage_show_back_url%3D%252Fphotos%252Fjaf1%252Fsets%252F72157618183455056%252F%26amp%3Bset_id%3D72157618183455056%26amp%3Bjump_to%3D]

Posted on May 18, 2009


For the first time in his career, Jenson Button goes to Monaco as the favourite to win the race. “To go to Monaco with the lead in both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships is fantastic but we saw in Barcelona that the performance margins at the front are extremely close. There will be a lot of competitive cars fighting it out this weekend, ” he said. He has won four of the first five races and even though there have been signs lately that the Red Bull car is more than a match for the Brawn, at a tight circuit More…

Posted on May 18, 2009


FIA president Max Mosley has said that he expects perhaps half the current F1 field not to lodge an entry by the deadline of May 29th. This deadline is now less than two weeks away. Tomorrow the Ferrari injunction against the FIA over the process by which it drew up the 2010 rules package will be heard at the High Court in Paris. If the injunction succeeds it opens the way to a full legal challenge of the way the rules for next season were drawn up. “I think that we will probably get anywhere between three and six teams More…

Posted on May 16, 2009


You will have seen some of the interviews Lewis Hamilton did this week, on Reuters, in the Times and on the BBC. The Times one caught my eye because it was an open expression of regret that Formula 1 has become a job and that he does not enjoy the political environment around him. Hamilton has slotted into the space left vacant by Michael Schumacher in Formula 1, clearly massively talented, unloved by his fellow drivers and always seeming to find himself tangled up in controversies. Senna occupied that space before Schumacher. The Times interview reveals the state of mind More…

Posted on May 15, 2009


The meeting between the F1 teams and FIA president Max Mosley and commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone failed to reach any conclusions today, but Ferrari has followed through on the threat of mounting a legal challenge. An injuction has been filed with the courts in France, where the FIA headquarters are situated, and will be heard on Tuesday. If it fails then the negotiations can move swiftly towards finding agreement on a £40 million budget cap and from there setting the details of what is included (engines, drivers, specific research programmes?) and the process for checking the accounts. It sounds More…

Posted on May 15, 2009


Good week for: Jenson Button – Four wins from five, only four points dropped. He’s running out of people to challenge him for the title. Ferrari – Took a huge step closer to the front with the updated car in Spain and decided to got for it and take a stand on 2010 rules. Let’s hope it doesn’t end in tears. Kleenex – Jenson Button’s mother, Simone, attended the Spanish GP and revealed that that she cries every time he wins. Oversized handluggage – Brawn has now won 11 trophies in the first five races Bad week for: Rubens Barrichello More…

Posted on May 14, 2009


Ferrari F1 memorabilia including engines, a motorhome used between 2001 and 2005 and wind tunnel models are some of the items under the hammer at an auction due to take place at Ferrari HQ in Maranello this Sunday, 17th May. The event is called Leggenda e Passione. The auction is likely to see a new record for a Ferrari as a 1957 250 Testa Rossa goes under the hammer. The record currently stands at £5.9 million. It’s an exciting time of year for car lovers to be in Italy. The classic Mille Miglia set off on 13th May and runs More…

Posted on May 14, 2009


Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton has today backed Brawn GP’s Jenson Button, the runaway championship leader, to finish the job off and take his title. “I think Jenson’s got a great chance, a great shot at it so I wish him all the best,” he told Reuters’ Alan Baldwin today. “I think if I were to wish anyone (else) to win, it would be him.” It’s quite an exciting prospect for British F1 fans to have two consecutive world champions. This used to happen in the 1960s when British drivers dominated the F1 scene. In 1962 to 65, we had More…

Posted on May 14, 2009


You recall the banter between Jenson Button, David Coulthard and Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone last year when Jenson challenged Lewis to join him in a Triathlon and Lewis accepted the bet only for his Dad to withdraw him later. Well Jenson will be participating in this year’s London Triathlon on August 1st and is going to be raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The race covers a 1500m swim, 40km bike ride and a 10km run, which Jenson is challenging himself to complete: “I’m aiming to finish in the top 10%, so no pressure!” I think it’s great he’s doing More…

Posted on May 14, 2009


As the pressure builds in the powerplay between the FIA and the manufacturers, led by Ferrari, the Scuderia continues to push the idea that F1 is what it is today because of their unbroken participation over 60 years. On the official Ferrari website they have posted a piece called, “The pride of making F1 great” and they go on to list all the great moments, which make up the sport’s history, of which Ferrari was the central protagonist. The intro to the piece reads, “Since the year 1950, when the modern Formula 1 World Championship was held for the first More…

Posted on May 13, 2009


There have been some fantastically interesting comments in the last couple of days on the Ferrari story. Most people think F1 cannot survive without Ferrari, but I sense maybe 20-25% think it can. To me this boils down to an ideological debate about what F1 should be and how it should be governed. The manufacturers, having failed to achieve any change in the governance of the sport the last time they united – in 2004 – are now trying to finish the job off, knowing that this time Ferrari is on their side and is not going to be picked More…

Posted on May 13, 2009


Renault is to be the next manufacturer to declare that it will withdraw from Formula 1 if the FIA does change the rules as voted by the FIA world council on April 29th. Following on from Toyota on Sunday and Ferrari yesterday, the French manufacturer will argue that the two tier system and the budget cap are not the basis for a sport in which it wishes to participate. BMW are expected to follow shortly. I would not expect Mercedes to take their place in this queue, as they are more likely to keep their heads down after the recent More…

Posted on May 13, 2009


Everyone was waiting for the statement from Ferrari yesterday afternoon and when it came, the eye went immediately to what they had to say about Formula 1. But at the top of the page, the opening paragraphs, there was another story, which was designed to show that Ferrari, unlike many car makers, continues to be a success story. Not only is it selling cars and making a profit, but it is expanding its licensing and branding activity, through things like the Ferrari Store, under the watchful eye of Danny Behar, formerly Dietrich Mateschitz’s right hand man at Red Bull. “Ferrari’s More…

Posted on May 12, 2009


Ferrari today decided to test Max Mosley’s assertion that “Formula 1 can survive without Ferrari” It issued a strongly worded statement following a meeting of the Board of Directors which said that it would not enter the 2010 F1 world championship if the rules voted through by the FIA world council on April 29th are not changed. It noted that the April 29th meeting was convened to hear a disciplinary matter (the McLaren lie-gate scandal) and that the decisions taken there brought into being a two tier system of rules “based on arbitrary technical rules and parametres.” It goes on More…

Posted on May 12, 2009


The first encouraging noises for a while about the chances of Donington hosting a Grand Prix have come from Bernie Ecclestone. Speaking in the Times, his preferred medium, he says that following a meeting with Donington promoter Simon Gillett, he feels that the financial problems Gillett has experienced with unpaid rent will be sorted out and that financing the construction will be achieved. On that basis, he appears to be willing to give Gillett a 12 month extension, if required. This would almost certainly mean the British Grand Prix being absent from the calendar for a year in 2010. Ecclestone More…

Posted on May 11, 2009


I’ve always been a huge Steve McQueen fan. I love the film Le Mans and I share his passion for moto cross bikes – if you haven’t seen the documentary he made about bikes, “On any Sunday”, treat yourself, it’s magnificent. One of my proudest possessions is a TAG Heuer Monaco watch in the Gulf colours of the Porsche car which McQueen races in the film. You get the idea… Anyway, someone at TAG Heuer has had the idea of putting Lewis Hamilton into a clip with McQueen from the film and I saw it today for the first time. More…

Posted on May 11, 2009


I’m intrigued by the comments coming out of Williams over the last 24 hours, regarding Nico Rosberg. First at the top of yesterday’s press release after the race they said, “Inconsistency compromised a strong strategy and left Nico in P8 and with one point at race end.” Then lower down, Patrick Head says, “Nico’s pace in the first stint was initially good, but we then struggled to maintain consistency, so we will have to investigate that.” Today comes a de-brief document from the team, in which technical director Sam Michael says “Nico’s lap times were somewhat inconsistent, yes, and we More…

Posted on May 11, 2009


Vijay Mallya is bobbing in the harbour on his motor yacht, Flavio Briatore will have zoomed off in his private jet, like most of the drivers but the winner of today’s Grand Prix, was on the Easyjet flight to Luton with his team, Red Bull, Force India, me and a load of sunburned, happy fans. Most of them couldn’t believe their eyes that Ross was on the same flight and he had to pose for photos with many of them. His only token bit of elitism – he paid €12 for Speedy Boarding! Ross has always been a team player More…

Posted on May 10, 2009


Jenson Button’s chances of winning the world championship improved dramatically today with a fourth win from five starts. It means that from a maximum 45 points he has scored 41. And with the next race in Monaco likely to be one of Brawn’s strongest tracks of the season, he looks set to cut down the number of people who can challenge him down to an absolute minimum. It’s starting to look like he is uncatchable. It’s a good job we don’t have the controversial medals system in place as he would be close to clinching the championship now. Thus far More…

Posted on May 10, 2009


This is starting to remind me of 1992 when Nigel Mansell took a very good car and dominated the championship with it, after years of seeming like the world title might elude him. The difference is that then the Williams Renault was massively superior to the rest and Mansell was far faster than team mate Patrese. This situation looks the same, but it’s not. The Brawn is not a huge step ahead of the rest, in fact the Red Bull has now squandered two god chances to win in Bahrain and Barcelona. And as for the team mate rivalry, Button More…

Posted on May 10, 2009


The latest development in the stand-off over the budget cap and new regulations for 2010 is that Toyota’s John Howett has told the Italian media that if the conditions for competing in 2010 do not change, then “Toyota will not sign up for the world championship.” Howett went on to say that the company was evaluating a return to Le Mans 24 hours among other possible alternatives. Howett is the number two in FOTA, the team’s organisation. He is vice-president working underneath Ferrari’s Luca di Montezemolo. It would appear that Howett is articulating what all the other manufacturers are thinking. More…

Posted on May 10, 2009


Felipe Massa has his tail up today, Ferrari are back in business and he knows that he has an important role in the outcome of the race, particularly at the start, where he lines up fourth on the grid. Using the KERS system, which will give him an 80 horsepower boost on the run down to turn one, projections show that he should be second by the first corner, but if Button makes a poor start as he did in Bahrain and Kuala Lumpur, Massa will have him. “It will be hard to pass in one go all three cars,” More…

Posted on May 10, 2009


The attendance at this year’s Spanish Grand Prix is noticeably down on recent years. This morning we drove in at 8am and didn’t stop once. It’s the first time I’ve been able to do that since Alonso came to prominence. His lack of competitiveness with Renault is a lot to do with the drop off in interest, I’m told by my Spanish colleagues. But also the state of the economy and the high ticket prices are having an effect. Nevertheless they are expecting 100,000 people here today, so more than Silverstone’s capacity. But they expanded the grandstand capacity here and More…

Posted on May 9, 2009


Apologies to readers for late posting of this regular piece of content. I had an engagement in town and then another out of town and no wifi to be had in either place! Anyway, the Spanish Grand Prix is going to be very close and the teams involved in fighting for the win are very excited about that. I spoke with Ross Brawn after qualifying and he was really pumped up about the way his car had performed, but also by how close and intense the competition is. Judging from the fuel weights, I would say that Jenson Button will More…

Posted on May 9, 2009


Jenson Button described his pole position here in Barcelona as ’the best pole I have ever had’ and it’s hard to argue. He crossed the line to start the lap with only two seconds to spare after a mix up with his team over track position, which caused him to find BMW’s Robert Kubica in his path in the build up to the lap. He thought Kubica was on a hot lap and let him through, but he wasn’t and he then had to drop back to find a space. But he onlt had four seconds to spare on the More…

Posted on May 9, 2009


Adrian Newey, the Red Bull technical director is back in the F1 paddock this weekend after a few weekends based at home, developing updates for the car. Newey is a fascinating character. On the surface he looks like a real quiet, studious person, but when you see him in action and talk to him you realise that he is one of the most competitive people in Formula 1, drivers included. He has that rage to compete, which marks out the real champions. It was very much in evidence during his Leyton House, Williams and McLaren days, but after many seasons More…

Posted on May 9, 2009


Fernando Alonso is not enjoying his home Grand Prix and yesterday evening he had a major blow up with some of the Spanish journalists. It all relates to an autograph signing session on Thursday in the pit lane, where he was surrounded by photographers, so couldn’t get to the fans. He lost his temper and left the pits, then came back when the photographers had gone and signed the autographs. This was reported in El Mundo in particular as Alonso being rude to fans and showing arrogance towards poor people who’ve saved up to see their hero. Alonso was very More…

Posted on May 8, 2009


Veteran Williams technical boss Patrick Head is here this weekend, and was typically good value in the FIA press conference this afternoon. He got stuck into several meaty topics, but the most interesting point was about the proposed two tier formula for next year where teams running under the £40 million budget cap will have technical freedoms such as more KERS boost, unlimited engine revs and an adjustable rear wing. “If you are able to move your rear wing and lower your drag level going down the straights it has a number of interesting effects on your lap time but More…

Posted on May 8, 2009


Jenson Button says that he is not happy with the performance of his Brawn Mercedes car today, the first day of practice in Barcelona. The car is equipped with the new aerodynamic package, the team’s first major development step since the season started. It features a new engine cover, new floor and new bodywork around the rear suspension. It is supposed to have given around three to four tenths of a second to the car. Rubens Barrichello was fourth today and is happy with his car. It looks very much as though it is still the strongest car out there, More…

Posted on May 8, 2009


There was quite a bit of chatter last week about the inclusion of the ‘winner takes all’ clause in the 2010 sporting regulations, whereby the driver who had the most wins would become world champion. The FIA had tried in March to introduce it for the 2009 season, but needed the teams’ agreement, which wasn’t forthcoming. It was assumed by most people, including teams and by me, that the system would be introduced in 2010 instead. After the World Council Meeting on 29th April, the rules were published with the winner takes all system in place. Now it’s gone again. More…

Posted on May 8, 2009


Picking up on the story yesterday about Fernando Alonso losing 5.5 kilos in bodyweight during the Bahrain GP, I mentioned that Nico Rosberg was telling us yesterday that he feels the rapid weight loss the drivers have undergone over the winter is contributing to them not having the reserves of energy and strength at the end of races. I spoke to one of the leading driver trainers and he agrees with Rosberg’s point. Apparently, though, the important thing is how you lose the weight. If it’s too sudden then you lose the reserves and your energy patterns go all over More…

Posted on May 8, 2009


I went along to Nelson Piquet’s press briefing yesterday afternoon. The poor lad is under some pressure at the moment, with speculation that he has this race and Monaco to save his seat. So far this season he has not impressed, struggling particularly in qualifying. Twice 15th on the grid, twice 17th he admitted that lack of testing had caused this problem, “Not getting pre-season (testing), not running low fuel, and then suddenly, when you put everything together, you can’t get the maximum out of it. Or you push too much and you end up overdriving the car. I think More…

Posted on May 7, 2009


Today had two distinct parts for Lewis Hamilton, but they both had to do with breaking eggs. In the morning he took part in a Vodafone promotion whereby the public challenged him to do something and he ended up making a spanish omelette. I know, it’s not an obvious pr activity for a Formula 1 driver, but it’s better than being suspended on a harness above a stage, as he was in Turkey last year, again by Vodafone. In the afternoon he realised the truth of the saying “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs”, as the fall out More…

Posted on May 7, 2009


Both Ferrari drivers will have a major upgrade this weekend, but Kimi Raikkonen will have a new chassis which is 10kg lighter than Felipe Massa’s to accomodate him and the KERS system. Raikkonen himself is 10kg heavier than Massa, he revealed today. Ferrari’s biggest problem has been a lack of downforce compared to the opposition. “The car is handling well, the balance is good, there’s just not enough downforce,” said Raikkonen. The new Ferrari has detailed aerodynamic changes everywhere. The sidepods are more rounded, there is a new engine cover with new exhaust exits as well as a new floor More…

Posted on May 7, 2009


One of the striking images from the Bahrain GP was Fernando Alonso being carried from his car, having fought his way to the finish in seventh place depsite having no drinks bottle. That in itself is not unusual, but what made Alonso’s situation really severe was a further problem inside the car. “I had very specific problems with not having enough water in the car because I lost five and a half kilos in the race, this is not normal, ” said Fernando. “There was a problem with the radiator, we had some hot gas going into the cockpit. It More…

Posted on May 7, 2009


The FOTA teams met yesterday in London to discuss developments in the 2010 rules and to co-ordinate a response to the FIA’s introduction of a £40 million budget cap for next season. The statement, as usual, was fairly bland and uninformative, but did hint at the seriousness of the situation, as it sees it, “FOTA held a positive and constructive meeting and agreed to continue working together in a methodical manner for the definition of further cost-reduction in 2010 and 2011, progressing along the path begun in 2008. FOTA has concerns with the decisions taken at the last WMSC meeting More…

Posted on May 6, 2009


Kimi Raikkonen will be in Regents Street, London this morning, opening the new Ferrari store. It’s a big site, I went past it yesterday and it’s full of Ferrari branded goodies. It’s amazing to think that it’s a year since Raikkonen last won a Grand Prix. He dominated the Spanish GP last season from pole, but since then he’s failed to make the top step. He would probably have won in Canada if he had not been hit in the pit lane by Lewis Hamilton and he was on target in France until his exhaust started burning a hole in More…

Posted on May 5, 2009


This weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona will almost feel like the start of the season again, with so many teams bringing substantially updated cars. In most cases this is a response to the ruling that double diffusers, as used on the Brawn car, are legal. It will be fascinating to see who goes up and who goes down. Here’s my take on the things to look out for. Ferrari The reigning constructors’ champions have had a disastrous start to the 2009 campaign in terms of results and the car has not shown strong performance at any track, really. They More…

Posted on May 5, 2009


The promoters of the 2010 British Grand Prix at Donington have been given until June 30th to provide the local council with the paperwork it needs in order to get the planning permission signed off so that the race can go ahead. At a meeting of the North West Leicestershire council this evening it was decided to give the track once last chance to sort out its administrative problems. The promoters, Simon Gillett’s company Donington Ventures Ltd, has been hit with a £2.5 million lawsuit by the circuit’s owners, Wheatcroft and Sons for unpaid rent. The court hearing for that More…

Posted on May 3, 2009


The would-be promoters of the 2010 British Grand Prix, face a crunch meeting with the local North West Leicestershire council on Tuesday which, if it goes wrong, could mean the end of plans for the race at Donington. Already squeezed by a £2.5 million law suit from circuit owners the Wheatcroft family, Simon Gillett’s Donington Ventures group must persuade the council to give them more time to get the Wheatcrofts to sign a crucial section 106 spectator safety document, without which the race cannot go ahead. According to the council leader, speaking in the News of the World today, either More…

Posted on May 3, 2009


I did an interview with Max Mosley for the Financial Times on Friday in London, all about the budget cap introduced to F1 for next year, the first part of which was posted yesterday. We covered a lot of topics, but I couldn’t help asking him about Ron Dennis’ departure from McLaren. He made an interesting comment about how the McLaren situation had played into his hands this week, “I don’t hate Ron Dennis, “ he said. “But he was always very obstructive. And he would have been difficult in this situation (budget caps), whereas Martin Whitmarsh may not agree More…

Posted on May 2, 2009


Yesterday I met with Max Mosley for a long interview which is in today’s Financial Times. He was in London briefly following this week’s world motor sport council meeting where the £40 million budget cap was voted through. I posted yesterday on the letters exchanged between him and Luca Di Montezemolo Ferrari president. Ferrari are very angry about the budget cap plans and the ‘two tier’ system which might see two classes of car racing in F1 next year. Montezemolo’s letter hints at a possible legal challenge to the plans. I asked Mosley whether F1 could survive without Ferrari. “It More…

Posted on May 1, 2009


Today is the 15 anniversary of the death of Ayrton Senna. The day before we lost Roland Ratzenberger. Thankfully these were the last fatalities in the sport. I was at Imola that weekend. I had been working hard on research interviews for the autobiography of Nigel Mansell I was ghostwriting at the time. I’ll never forget the chill that weekend, it seemed that the weekend was cursed, with Rubens Barrichello being hospitalised by a huge shunt on Friday, then Ratzenberger on Saturday and Senna on Sunday. Also there was a big shunt at the start and a wheel went into More…

Posted on May 1, 2009


In response to the letter Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo wrote on April 28th to the FIA president expressing concern about having two classes of F1 car and about a possible legal challenge to the budget cap, Max Mosley wrote back the following day. He quotes FIAT boss Sergio Marchionne, with whom Montezemolo works closely and his belief that in an economic crisis such as we are in at the moment, only an extreme response will do, “We are just going to slam the brakes on, cut everything back to essentials. It may be painful, it may be ugly. But More…

Posted on May 1, 2009


Although Ferrari is refusing to comment on yesterday’s budget cap announcement, some letters between its president Luca di Montezemolo and FIA president Max Mosley have come to light. These show Ferrari’s concerns and hint at arrangements between Ferrari and the governing body, which Ferrari feel have not been honoured. On April 28th Montezemolo wrote to Mosley and other world council members, unhappy that budget caps had been put on the agenda of a meeting which was called to hear the McLaren case. He wrote, ” I have always been concerned about its introduction (cost cap) mainly because I consider that More…



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