Posted on September 30, 2009


Fernando Alonso has spoken on the Ferrari website about his move to the Scuderia, while Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has spoken of the reasons why they dropped Kimi Raikkonen and hired Alonso. The Spaniard was not quoted in the Ferrari press release which was careful to dispense with Kimi Raikkonen’s services in a respectful way. “I’m very happy and very proud to become a Ferrari driver,” Alonso said. “Driving a single-seater from the Prancing Horse is everybody’s dream in this sport and today I have the opportunity to make this dream come true. Above all I want to thank More…

Posted on September 30, 2009


Well, it’s finally been confirmed; Fernando Alonso is joining Ferrari next season for three years initial term. The team has also confirmed that Felipe Massa will be racing for them again. Formula 1 has it’s dream scenario, which harks back to the Prost vs Senna days – Hamilton in a McLaren vs Alonso in a Ferrari, two drivers on the same level with some history between them. F1, like any sport, works at its absolute best when it has a really great rivalry and we now have that. Except that it’s even better than that because Kimi Raikkonen is also More…

Posted on September 30, 2009


Toyota’s F1 team principal Tadashi Yamashima has issued a stark warning today that the involvement of the world’s biggest car maker in F1 could come to an end soon. He described the situation as ‘unclear’, but warned that it depended on how the car business was doing. “We will participate for now,” he said. “We have to consider a variety of things in relation to our core business. Our participation is unclear, depending on our financial results.” It is quite a downbeat message on the eve of the company’s home race in Suzuka, especially coming off the back of a More…

Posted on September 29, 2009


Fernando Alonso will be announced as a Ferrari driver on Thursday of this week according to reports in Spain, Italy and Germany. This should in turn give rise to a series of driver moves which will establish many of the teams’ line ups for next year. It’s almost October, historically much of the grid is sorted out by this time, announcements made. As I posted yesterday Kimi Raikkonen’s move away from Ferrari has been underwritten by Santander and by going to McLaren they get some return on investment. Nico Rosberg looks like he’s heading for Brawn, with Jenson Button caught More…

Posted on September 28, 2009


It is looking as though the long running saga over Fernando Alonso’s move to Ferrari is drawing to a conclusion. Ferrari’s Stefano Domenicali said that things would be settled in the next two weeks. An announcement of Massa and Alonso for 2010 would play very well if it were made in Brazil, at Massa’s home race, but they may not be able to hold on to the story for that long, so it may come sooner. Traditionally Ferrari has made its announcements by this time of year, they usually come at Monza. When pressed Domenicali did not rule out Massa More…

Posted on September 28, 2009


This weekend has seen a PR blitz by Jean Todt as the campaign to be elected FIA president enters the final stages. The election is less than a month away and Todt has made his first visit to the F1 paddock since announcing his candidacy. Outgoing FIA president Max Mosley has already publicly endorsed him and this week belittled his rival Ari Vatanen. Also this week Bernie Ecclestone came out strongly in support of Todt. This is no surprise; it was Ecclestone who persuaded Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo to hire Todt back in 1993 when he was at Peugeot. More…

Posted on September 27, 2009


Lewis Hamilton won the Singapore Grand Prix with a faultless drive from pole position to redeem himself after his last lap crash in Monza. But his task was made easier by key errors made by his two main rivals, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel. Both made mistakes in pit stops which brought them drive through penalties; Rosberg had done the hard work at the start, passing Vettel off the line to take second place, but then he got into trouble when he made a slip after his pit stop and crossed the white line on the pit exit. Vettel was More…

Posted on September 26, 2009


Lewis Hamilton did the best job of the cars at the front of the field today, with a lap which was two tenths of a second faster than the man in second place, Sebastian Vettel, despite carrying an extra fuel weight penalty of over three tenths, so he was net half a second faster. Of course we never got to see what Vettel would have done on his second run because Barrichello hit the wall and the session was stopped prematurely. With all the intricate detail recently about how Renault fixed the result of last year’s race, the subject of More…

Posted on September 26, 2009


Lewis Hamilton took a widely predicted pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix today, but he was given a helping hand by Rubens Barrichello who crashed with 26 seconds remaining, when Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg were both on potentially better laps. They ended up second and third respectively. It was an anti climactic ending to a session which was brought alive by the unexpected performance of Rosberg and the Red Bulls. Hamilton felt that he had a couple of tenths over the others in any case. “I came in today with a positive approach, ” said Hamilton. “My mechanics More…

Posted on September 26, 2009


McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of the third practice session at Singapore, pushing Sebastian Vettel down to second place. Nico Rosberg was third. It looks like being a very competitive qualifying session this evening, with McLaren, Red Bull and Williams all looking strong, while BMW seem to have made a big step with their heavily revised car. There is some work to be done at Brawn. Yesterday the car seemed to be working well but they made some changes in the third practice and Jenson Button radioed his engineer at the end of the session to say that More…

Posted on September 25, 2009


Things are moving quickly now in the one key move in the driver market which will unlock the others. Today Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali said “In the last couple of days the situation has changed, so we will keep you updated as soon as we can say something. At the moment nothing to add on that.” What did he mean? Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo was in Madrid on Thursday and took part in a question and answer session with the readers of Marca, the leading daily sports paper. He was collecting one of their awards. He allowed himself to More…

Posted on September 25, 2009


New Renault managing director Jean-Francois Caubet has said that Renault has suffered immense damage to its brand and considered an F1 pullout. It has decided to commit itself to the sport, but must put in place a management structure that will keep the team true to Renault’s values. This weekend has been utterly humiliating for the team so far, with the high profile rejection by two sponsors, ING and Mutua Madrilena. To be cast off like that by two blue chip international companies gives Renault a pariah status that is hard to comprehend for one of the world’s leading car More…

Posted on September 24, 2009


There was a very serious development this evening in the Renault cheating story. Two of Renault’s key sponsors have today pulled out of their relationships with the team with immediate effect. Title sponsor ING, which was due to end its $65 million a year deal at the end of this season and Spanish insurance company Mutua Madrilena is also calling time on its $5 million a year deal with the team. However both companies will continue their relationship with lead driver Fernando Aloso until the end of the 2009 season. The statement from ING reads as follows; “ING announced today More…

Posted on September 24, 2009


Bernie Ecclestone has said in the last few days that he thinks that the penalty meted out to Flavio Briatore by the FIA World Motor Sport Council was too harsh. Ecclestone is a member of the WMSC himself and has a personal interest because Briatore is a close friend and business associate with whom Ecclestone spends his evenings at race meetings. Now, it seems their relationship is broken. Speaking at an LG press conference in Singapore today he said, “He’s not talking to me, I don’t know. He thinks I should have defended him, which I couldn’t.” But beyond that, More…

Posted on September 24, 2009


This is a good short video I spotted of Lewis Hamilton talking about his last lap crash at Monza and looking ahead to this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix. I like it for the body language; Hamilton is standing in the race bay at the factory while his mechanics toil to repair his damaged car. “How bad was it?” Hamilton asks, rather bashfully. “Pretty bad, ” grunts the man lying under the car. Click on the link below:

Posted on September 24, 2009


In the light of the Renault penalties over Singapore, Williams driver Nico Rosberg regrets that Fernando Alonso’s victory cannot be struck from the records, giving him his first race win. Rosberg finished second to Alonso, but as we no know, the victory was achieved as a direct result of the team cheating. Had Piquet come clean at the time, or even up to a month after the event, Rosberg might have had his win. But under FIA rules the deadline for changing the result of last year’s Singapore Grand Prix was the end of November. By then Piquet had been More…

Posted on September 23, 2009


Renault has just announced its new management team as it seeks to rebuild after the Singapore race fixing scandal. Bob Bell, the wily Irishman who has been technical director for many years and who has worked at McLaren in the past, becomes the team principal, until the end of the season when a permanent replacement will be found. Alain Prost’s name continues to circulate in France as a possible candidate. He would restore a lot of pride and prestige to the brand after this demeaning and damaging episode. Bob is very much a technical man, but he has a deep More…

Posted on September 23, 2009


Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has stirred up the Ferrari driver situation again by saying that while Felipe Massa’s position at Ferrari is assured for next year, Kimi Raikkonen’s is not. “We will have a Brazilian driver, who deserves another chance, seeing as he’s well. As for the rest, we are thinking about the best choice, but we still have time. We will decide in a few weeks.” This is a different line from the one he took at Monza two weeks ago, at the announcement of Santander’s five year sponsorship deal, where he appeared to be suggesting that the More…

Posted on September 23, 2009


As I speculated in post before the World Council meeting, part of Renault’s submission was that it planned to commit itself to Formula 1. As part of the evidence and material relating to the case, published yesterday, there is a letter from Renault in which it pledges its commitment to the sport. “Renault F1 and its parent company have given serious consideration as to whether it should remain in the sport following the prejudice caused to its corporate image by the conspiracy, in addition to the existing background of financial pressures that have caused car manufacturers to withdraw. “But it More…

Posted on September 22, 2009


The full explanation of how the World Motor Sport Council reached its decision has just been published and the really interesting point is that Flavio Briatore was betrayed by a Renault insider who demanded anonymity in return for detailed information about Briatore’s involvement in F1′s most notorious cheating scandal. After their initial investigations, neither Renault nor the FIA were sure of the extent of Briatore’s involvement. As a result, according to the report, “The FIA considered that it was imperative to conduct further enquiries in order that all available facts could be presented to the WMSC. The FIA’s further enquiries More…

Posted on September 22, 2009


This is the letter Renault director of engineering, Pat Symonds, wrote to the World Motor Sport Council. It played a part in the decision to give him only a five year ban, rather than a life ban, because he admitted his part in it, unlike Flavio Briatore. But two things stand out; he sticks to his line that the idea was Nelson Piquet’s originally and he does not implicate Briatore. He was offered immunity but did not take it, as this letter proves. “In mitigation I would like to acknowledge my role in this incident. I was the one who, More…

Posted on September 22, 2009


I’ve been thinking about another decision reached yesterday by the World Motor Sport Council, namely equalising the engines from the top downwards, rather than from the bottom up, as was done last year. According to the FIA, the feeling is that despite the engine freeze, some engines are more powerful than others, thanks to making the most of the very limited things you are allowed to do to engines and fuels. As last year it seems that Mercedes and Ferrari have squeezed an extra bit of performance from their engines, where Toyota and Renault have not. This was graphically demonstrated More…

Posted on September 21, 2009


Nelson Piquet Jr issued a statement today, after the World Motor Sport Council verdict was announced into the Singapore race fixing case, which again slammed his former team boss Flavio Briatore, much as he had done in the summer after being sacked. I find it incredibly ironic that a season which began with Briatore saying some extremely uncomplimentary things about Jenson Button, referring to him as a ‘concrete post’ has ended up concluding with Briatore himself being derided on all sides and hammered by one of his drivers. Flavio is the classic example of the old saying, “You live by More…

Posted on September 21, 2009


Flavio Briatore has been banned from motor sport for life and his co-conspirator Pat Symonds for five years, as Renault escape lightly, with a two year suspended ban and no fine for the Singapore crash scandal. The hearing in Paris today took just 90 minutes and was attended by Renault Sport president Bernard Rey, Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet. As expected Briatore came off worst today, the World Motor Sport Council taking a very dim view of the fact that he continued to deny any involvement in the plot, despite the FIA’s and Renault’s investigations concluding that he was involved, More…

Posted on September 21, 2009


The World Motor Sport Council meets today to consider what punishment to hand out to Renault for asking its driver Nelson Piquet Jr to deliberately crash his car in Singapore last year. Renault’s deputation is headed by Renault Sport president Bernard Rey and Fernando Alonso has also answered the summons to give evidence. He has not had a lot of time to prepare and it will be interesting to see what line the WMSC takes with him. The FIA investigators concluded that Alonso didn’t know anything and it appears he was surprised to be called. One wonders whether the FIA More…

Posted on September 20, 2009


Fernando Alonso, the driver who benefitted most from Nelson Piquet’s deliberate accident in Singapore last year, has been summoned by the FIA to give evidence to the World Council on Monday. According to Gazzetta dello Sport, former team principal Flavio Briatore has also been summoned, but not Pat Symonds, whom the FIA investigators found to be centrally involved in the conspiracy. Symonds is believed to be on holiday in Spain. Both men have left the team and Briatore is thus under no compulsion to attend and is unlikely to do so. Whether he does or he doesn’t there is a More…

Posted on September 19, 2009


Amid all the furore over the Renault race fixing scandal, this week has seen another important development in shaping the next generation of F1. I posted last week on the news that Mercedes was set to take a controlling interest in the Brawn team. It appears that the deal has been worked with the backing of the Abu Dhabi investment vehicle Aabar, which bought 9.1% of Mercedes’ parent company Daimler earlier this year. It is the company’s largest shareholder. Aabar is an interesting company with a wide range of investments in many different sectors. They bought a 32% stake in More…

Posted on September 18, 2009


Nelson Piquet Senior has said that he informed the FIA late last season, that there was something fishy about his son’s crash in Singapore. He alleges that he told FIA race director Charlie Whiting about it a few weeks later at the season finale Brazilian Grand Prix. According to a leaked transcript of the interview done by a Quest investigator on behalf of the FIA, the three times world champion says that he first learned of the plot, “I think the next day or maybe two days after the race… I was glad that he didn’t hurt himself..but in the More…

Posted on September 17, 2009


The dust has not settled on yesterday’s announcement that Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have left the Renault F1 team. In fact that was merely a turn of the wheel, albeit an important one. There is a lot more still to happen. Inevitably there is a lot of speculation about whether the pair quit or were fired. Ross Brawn said yesterday, “Flavio told me he had done this to save the team. He’s done the right thing.” Clearly if they did act themselves it was as a result of a fait accompli from Renault. It amounts to the same thing More…

Posted on September 16, 2009


It got lost in the wake of Renault’s announcement today, but according to further leaked material from the prosecution’s dossier into the events surrounding Nelson Piquet’s accident in Singapore last year, the FIA believes that Fernando Alonso knew nothing of the alleged conspiracy. Alonso won the race thanks to a safety car triggered by Nelson Piquet’s accident, which he alleges was a conspiracy involving senior Renault management. In summing up a lengthy document detailing the interview and investigations carried out by stewards at the recent Belgian Grand Prix, assisted by the FIA’s Herbie Blash, Lars Osterlind says, “As regards Mr More…

Posted on September 16, 2009


Both Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have resigned their positions at the Renault F1 team over the scandal of Nelson Piquet’s deliberate crash in Singapore last year. A brief statement from the team at midday today said, “The ING Renault F1 Team will not dispute the recent allegations made by the FIA concerning the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. It also wishes to state that its managing director, Flavio Briatore and its executive director of engineering, Pat Symonds, have left the team.” With the main architects of the ‘plot’ no longer in position and Piquet granted immunity from prosecution, the way More…

Posted on September 15, 2009


I’m interested in the rights and wrongs of the FIA offering immunity from prosecution to Nelson Piquet and Pat Symonds – but not to Flavio Briatore – in the Singapore crash investigation. I spoke to a London litigation lawyer this evening and he said that the key points here are that 1) this is not a case in the criminal courts, where, in the UK at least, plea bargaining is not really done. It is subject to the rules of the FIA. I don’t know what it says in the rules on disciplinary hearings and whether it says in there More…

Posted on September 15, 2009


Who would want to swap places with Renault’s Director of Engineering, Pat Symonds? The veteran, whose F1 career goes back almost 30 years to the Toleman team, is the only senior engineer to have worked with Senna, Schumacher and Alonso and is always fascinating on the subject. It has been a career of great distinction. He hasn’t worked for Ferrari, Williams or McLaren but he has helped a new team break their stranglehold on F1 glory, with Benetton in the 1990s and Renault in the 2000s. Both phases brought double world championships and although there was a whiff of controversy More…

Posted on September 15, 2009


BMW has sold its stake in the BMW Sauber F1 team to a Swiss company which represents wealthy families from Europe and the Middle East. Judging from the wording, the group has bought the whole team, including Peter Sauber’s stake. Earlier today it was announced that the team’s slot on the grid had been taken by the Malaysian backed Lotus concern. Because BMW didn’t sign the Concorde Agreement along with the other teams, it lost its rights to TV and prize money and is valuable spot on the grid. I can’t help but feel that it played a bad hand More…

Posted on September 15, 2009


I’ve just had a note through from the FIA to say that they have awarded the 13th slot on the F1 grid next year to Lotus, the Norfollk based car maker, which is backed by the Malaysians. The team principal is Tony Fernandes, the boss of Williams sponsor Air Asia. The team’s technical chief is Mike Gascoyne, formerly of Renault and Toyota. The team will be based on Norfolk initially, however as it will race under the Malaysian flag, it is building an R&D and manufacturing centre at Sepang, home of the Malaysian Grand Prix. Danny Bahar, formerly Red Bull More…

Posted on September 14, 2009


The saga over Fernando Alonso’s move to Ferrari looked on Friday like it was finally being cleared up. Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said that Fernando Alonso will join Ferrari one day, but hinted strongly that it will be 2011, rather than 2010. But the signals continue to suggest that this situation is fluid. My understanding of the much rumoured agreement with Alonso has always been that it was for 2011, with a clause for 2010 if there was a vacancy. I wrote about this last Christmas. Both Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen have firm contracts for 2010 and it More…

Posted on September 14, 2009


Veteran Williams engineer Patrick Head has seen it all in his 30 plus years at the sharp end of Formula 1. This weekend he spoke out about the FIA investigation into Nelson Piquet’s allegation that Renault F1 management got him to deliberately crash his car at a specific time and place in Singapore last season in order to bring out the safety car and help Fernando Alonso win the race. Head has seen plenty of young drivers, under pressure for their futures, do some desperate things, but the notion that a driver would go along with something like this is More…

Posted on September 13, 2009


Rubens Barrichello was magnificent this weekend at the Italian Grand Prix. But whatever happens from now on, whether he is able to beat Jenson Button to the world championship or not, the whole season has been a win for him. He didn’t have a drive in January and yet his stunning performances in the second half of the season, including two wins, have more than done enough to cement his place in F1 next year, for an unprecedented 18th season! As Ross Brawn said to me recently, he sees no reason why he wouldn’t retain Barrichello for next year. Of More…

Posted on September 13, 2009


Rubens Barrichello took his second victory in three races at the Italian Grand Prix, heading home team mate Jenson Button. It was a beautifully judged performance all weekend from the 37 year old, to put his team mate in the shade. Whereas Button hit the ground running at the start of the season, since Turkey it has been all Barrichello. Today was Barrichello’s third win at Monza and the first time that he has headed Button in a Brawn 1-2 finish. It moved him to 14 points behind Button in the championship and with the Red Bull pair of Mark More…

Posted on September 12, 2009


Who will win the Italian Grand Prix? This has been one of the most open race weekends of the year with four or five cars capable of pole and of the win as well. Who could win it? Well Hamilton, obviously, he’s on a two stop strategy so will have to drive flat out all three stints, but the McLaren has been quick all weekend. Sutil is a longer shot, not least because he will lose his second place to Raikkonen and Kovalainen at the start due to their KERS systems. Raikkonen has more fuel than the other two stoppers More…

Posted on September 12, 2009


It’s been great fun and we had over 300 people contributing ideas as to how close Giancarlo Fisichella would get to Kimi Raikkonen in qualifying for his Ferrari debut at Monza. Thanks to everyone who took part and I’m sure we will do this again soon. The prize is a signed copy of my biography of Michael Schumacher, The Edge of Greatness. I’m very proud to say that we had lots of really good estimates with over 30 comments being within five hundredths of a second – it’s even more competitive than the F1 grid itself! It shows that we More…

Posted on September 12, 2009


Ferrari debutant Giancarlo Fisichella qualified 14th for the Italian Grand Prix and believes that the crash he suffered in the morning practice was largely to blame for him not making it through to the pole position shootout. In a tight field, Fisi was 0.475s slower than team mate Kimi Raikkonen, and with such a tightly bunched and competitive field, that was enough to put him out of contention. Fisichella looked tentative on the brakes, in particular. He said that he has more or less learned when and how to deploy KERS, but looking at him driving the car, it seems More…

Posted on September 12, 2009


Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Italian Grand Prix with a last minute lap to take it away from the Force India of Adrian Sutil. The German briefly went fastest, but had made a mistake at the Lesmo bends, which arguably cost him the pole, as he ended up two tenths of a second behind the world champion. Three of the top four cars are equipped with KERS, underlining its potency around Monza. Sutil will doubtless be swallowed up at the start by Kimi Raikkonen, who starts third and fourth place Heikki Kovalainen. Ross Brawn confirmed that both of More…

Posted on September 11, 2009


The stakes were raised significantly today in the case of Renault and the crash which won the team the Singapore Grand Prix. Renault issued legal proceedings against the Piquets, father and son for defamation and blackmail, team boss Flavio Briatore spoke about the damage the bad press is causing to the image of Renault and FIA president Max Mosley said that the FIA considers this allegation to be more serious than cheating and that the team could be thrown out of F1 if found guilty on September 21st. In what is rapidly turning into the biggest in a series of More…

Posted on September 11, 2009


Adrian Sutil kept up Force India’s excellent form from Spa with fastest time in free practice for the Italian Grand Prix. The German was on the pace throughout the day and set the fastest time at the end of the second session using the soft Bridgestone tyres. The Force India took a big step forward at Valencia but has really come into its own on the low downforce circuits. Meanwhile his former team mate, Giancarlo Fisichella, found himself in the Luca Badoer slot, 20th position on his first day as a Ferrari driver, albeit with far more prospect of eventual More…

Posted on September 10, 2009


FIA presidential hopeful Jean Todt is underlining his road safety credentials, ahead of the election next month. Todt has a strong motor sports background and is pushing hard on the saving lives aspect of the FIA. His partner, Michelle Yeoh is an FIA ambassador for Make Roads Safe. Yesterday at Vallelunga, Italy he hosted an event which highlighted technologies from the eSafety campaign of which he is president. He roped in some very big names from the world of F1, including Michael Schumacher, Heikki Kovalainen, Robert Kubica, Timo Glock and Giancarlo Fisichella. The eSafety Challenge is an event co-funded by More…

Posted on September 10, 2009


Fernando Alonso spoke today at his usual Thursday afternoon press briefing about the investigation into the events of last year’s Singapore Grand Prix, which he won thanks to a safety car triggered by his team mate Nelson Piquet’s accident. “I’m very surprised. I cannot imagine this situation, so as I said, I’m surprised, and it’s time to think in another job, in Monza and the next grand prix because I’m not spending any more time on this.” He added: “I will not comment too much about this, as the team said we will not comment. For me it’s not even More…

Posted on September 10, 2009


Giancarlo Fischella spoke to the Italian media the other day ahead of his Ferrari debut at Monza this weekend. It’s been a great week for the 36 year old Roman, who will become the first Italian to race a Ferrari at Monza for almost 20 years on Sunday. He said that of the current drivers only fellow veteran Rubens Barrichello rang him when the drive was announced, saying “Us old guys will be around forever!” He also revealed that he had called Felipe Massa from Stefano Domenicali’s office. Massa wished him well and Fisi told him, “The car is yours More…

Posted on September 9, 2009


Autosport is carrying a story this evening with some amazing revelations about a meeting which took place between Renault’s Flavio Briatore, Pat Symonds and Nelson Piquet Jr at Singapore last year. Renault stand accused of deliberately causing Piquet to crash, just after Alonso’s early first pit stop, in order to give Alonso the chance to win the race, as the rest of the field would pit under the ensuing safety car. The first ever night race, the Singapore Grand Prix was sponsored by Renault’s title sponsor, ING, making it a perfect day for them. Autosport’s Jon Noble quotes ‘sources’, in More…

Posted on September 9, 2009


Williams and Force India have been welcomed back into the Formula One Teams Association, having been asked to leave over the summer when they broke ranks and signed up to the F1 championship, rather than follow the breakaway movement. With the resolution of that conflict in late July, it was always expected that the two would be readmitted at some point, but at a FOTA meeting in Monza today they came in from the cold. This weekend marks the first anniversary of the key moment when FOTA was formed and I remember the atmosphere in the paddock as the team More…

Posted on September 8, 2009


Also in today’s Guardian interview with Felipe Massa is an interesting section where he talks about the championship battle and the recent, alarming decline in the form of Jenson Button. According to Massa, who fought Lewis Hamilton for last year’s world championship, Button is buckling under the pressure as the end of the championship comes into view and this offers Massa’s friend and fellow Brazilian Rubens Barrichello the chance to win the title, “Look at me, ” says Massa. “I came to Brazil six points behind [Hamilton], and I almost won the championship. That was one race. Rubens has five More…

Posted on September 8, 2009


Felipe Massa has spoken at length to the Guardian newspaper today, in a terrific interview with Donald McRae. You can listen to the whole interview on the Guardian website. The gist of it is that he feels that everything in life is pre-ordained, including his accident. This was something he had to come through, to serve some higher purpose, but he hasn’t worked out what that purpose might be yet. He is lucky to be alive, not to be blinded or brain-damaged by the 700 gramme alloy spring which fell off Rubens Barrichello’s car in Budapest and bounced into his More…

Posted on September 7, 2009


I must admit when I saw the story in the Telegraph this morning suggesting that Mercedes might be buying into the Brawn team I wasn’t sure. On the face of it, why would they need to do that, when they already have a 40% stake in McLaren? It seems all the more intriguing that they should be doing this at a time when other manufacturers like Honda and now BMW are pulling out and Toyota are dramatically reducing their spend on the sport. Who knows what Renault’s next move will be after the judgement is made on the Singapore race-fixing More…

Posted on September 7, 2009


A rather crestfallen Luca Badoer has blamed the media for causing him to lose his Ferrari drive at Monza this weekend. Badoer was parachuted into the drive after first Felipe Massa was injured in Budapest and then Michael Schumacher, the first choice replacement, failed medical tests on a neck injury. Not having driven in a Grand Prix for 10 years and with no miles under his belt in the car this year, Badoer inevitably struggled, finding himself last of the qualifiers and of the finishers in both the European and Belgian Grands Prix. He had convinced himself that he would More…

Posted on September 6, 2009


The Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper in Italy has been conducting a survey into how the Italian Ferrari fans, known as the ‘tifosi’, feel new boy Giancarlo Fisichella will get on at Monza this weekend. The results show a lot of faith in the choice of Fisichella to replace Luca Badoer and get a decent result. 49% believe he will score points at Monza. 23% believe he will score a podium 11 % believe that he could win the Italian Grand Prix. Sceptics are thin on the ground: only 8% think he will fail to score a point. A Ferrari has More…

Posted on September 5, 2009


The battle to be elected FIA president is hotting up and former rally champion Ari Vatanen has seen his campaign gathering traction lately. But some of his answers indicate that, if elected, he could be on a collision course with Bernie Ecclestone and CVC, not least his views on the 100 year agreement between the FIA and FOM and on the circuits that Grands Prix visit. Vatanen was in London yesterday to meet with some of the British media and I was invited along. The meeting place was the London Eye and Vatanen conducted his press briefings in one of More…

Posted on September 4, 2009


The Renault team has been summoned to appear before an extraordinary gathering of the World Council on September 21st, the Monday before Singapore, to answer a charge of bringing the sport into disrepute. It is alleged that the team conspired with its number two driver Nelson Piquet, to crash his car at last year’s Singapore Grand Prix to help its lead driver Fernando Alonso, win. It is a very serious charge and one which carries a range of punishments from fines to exclusion from the world championship. McLaren faced a similar charge over the Ferrari spy allegations and was fined More…

Posted on September 4, 2009


On the Ferrari official website president Luca di Montezemolo has spoken about the reasons why he – eventually – chose Giancarlo Fisichella to stand in for the injured Felipe Massa. “I chose Fisichella for several reasons, starting with the fact he deserves it, that he’s on great form and that he is an expert driver,” he said. “On top of that, we all wanted to have an Italian driver in our car for Monza and lastly, because it takes the long term view, as he will be our third driver.” “It is an important moment, coming off the back of More…

Posted on September 3, 2009


Force India say that they released Giancarlo Fisichella to Ferrari with no commercial terms involved, for the good of the sport. There were rumours that the team still owed some money from its lease of engines last season, which may have been written off as part of the deal. After their slap-down of commercial director Ian Phillips on Monday over comments that Force India could expect a call to release Fisichella within 24 hours, team principal Vijay Mallya confirmed that the approach was made on the timetable Phillips suggested. “Giancarlo and his management team approached me yesterday with the proposal More…

Posted on September 3, 2009


Ferrari has decided to put its faith in Giancarlo Fisichella for the remainder of the season, replacing Luca Badoer. It is an ideal scenario for the 36 year old from Rome, who has been in Formula 1 since the 1996 season. He has tried before to get involved with Ferrari, but this cameo appearance of five races at the end of the season will give him a chance to live the dream and drive a Ferrari at Monza next week. “I’m in seventh heaven,” Fisichella said on the Ferrari website. “I still can’t believe it – that the dream of More…

Posted on September 2, 2009


This made me laugh. It’s Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton in a viral for Johnnie Walker, each making out that the “Pact” – not to drink and drive – was their idea. It’s funny because you can see the tells both men use when they are lying – as they clearly both are here. Mika is not a bad actor. There’s a moment at 40 seconds where he does this grin, which he used to do sometimes when you interviewed him. It’s a kind of involuntary show of emotion. I remember he did it after that amazing pass on Michael More…

Posted on September 1, 2009


Felipe Massa says that he got a thumbs up from his visit to top motor sport doctor Steve Olvey in Florida this weekend. He is to be allowed to resume training after a small medical procedure in the next few days. But a statement from Ferrari suggests that he will be training for a return in 2010, not this season. “I’m very happy with the outcome of the exams,” Massa said. “After the small surgery that I will have done in the next few days I can finally start working out a little in the gym to get back in More…

Posted on September 1, 2009


Formula 1 commercial right holder Bernie Ecclestone has said that he fears the Renault board may decide to quit Formula 1 following allegations that Nelson Piquet was asked to crash his car so that his team mate Fernando Alonso could win last year’s Singapore Grand Prix. With car sales well down for all the manufacturers in Formula 1, this is a delicate moment in their participation in the sport anyway. Renault recently announced heavy losses and Toyota is expecting to lose up to $8 billion this year. The feeling in the Spa paddock before the bombshell about the Singapore enquiry More…



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