Racist abuse is unacceptable and must be stopped right away

Hamilton AbuseAs those who read this blog regularly may see, I am not the biggest fan of Lewis Hamilton. I do not have much against him but simply there are other drivers I like better. But what has happened in Barcelona last weekend goes beyond the liking or not liking. The expressions of hate mixed up with racial abuse are totally unacceptable. You can just click on the image on the right that links to an Pitpass article to see how disgusting some “fans” were. If these people keep presenting themselves as fans of Fernando Alonso, then Fernando has to come out and distance himself from them, and do it pretty quickly.

The FIA has to clamp down on this right now and tough. To their credit they were quick to come out with a strong warning:

“The FIA is surprised and disappointed at the abuse directed at Lewis Hamilton. Abuse of this kind is a clear breach of the principles enshrined in the FIA statutes and any repetition will result in serious sanctions.”

The important thing is, that the serious action will indeed follow should the same happen again. I am not saying that because of few idiots F1 should now leave Spain, absolutely not. That would be total over reaction. The passions following last season are still high especially in Spain and they die down sooner or later. The sanctions should first of all be aimed at these “fans” … As a warning all these “people” caught on many of the pictures that circulate around the web should be identified and banned for ever from entering any F1 venue. This is the kind of “fans” F1 does not need and FIA needs to make it clear. Instead of threatining the tracks with loosing F1, FIA needs to sit down with organizers of the tests and races and work together on making sure that these now isolated incidents do not appear again…

Isn’t it better to express the allegiances this way:

Alonso Fans

Alonso Fans

then like this…?

Barcelona Test – The Summary

Red Bull FinEight teams have finished their weekend of testing in Barcelona. Three days and three different cars on the top. Hamilton (McLaren) on Friday, Vettel (Toro Rosso) on Saturday and Mark Webber (Red Bull) on Sunday.

In absence of Ferrari it was expected that the McLarens will be topping or be very very close to the top. Hamilton topped the sheets on Friday. On Saturday however Toro Rosso’s were both quicker than both McLarens and on Sunday Mark Webber managed to beat the silver cars. Overall the McLarens look good.

Toro Rosso team will not introduce their new car until few races into the 2008 season, so what they test now is an updated version of their 2007 car. Their Saturday impressive run might a bit misleading, as they an the car very light. However they did not do too bad also on Friday and Sunday. This definitelly was an encouraging weekend for the team.

Red Bull came up with a revolutionary design - implementing an ugly fin on the engine cover. And unfortunatelly it seems to be working Mark Webber’s fastest time on Sunday shows. If other teams get the hint, we may see more cars getting ugly.

BMW seem to have overcome the problems they experienced last week and they seem to be around 0.3 off the McLaren pace now. Renault is also clawing back, either the car has seen quite an improvement from last year or Fernando Alonso brought his famous 0.6 second with him. They do not seem to be 1 second behind McLaren any more. It looks pretty even between them and BMW Sauber.

Giancarlo Fisichella impressed o Friday with the 4th fastest time. Force India only tested with 1 car and neither Liuzzi nor Sutil were able to get anywhere near the time Fisi posted on Friday.

Williams did not do much in Barcelona. After Kazuki Nakajima’s crash the team did not continue on Friday. And when they realized the problems with their front wing mounting need more thorough fix, they decided to abandon the Barcelona test completely. A bit of a turn in their fortunes after the excelent form in Valencia. But one of the purposes of the tests is also to find out what does not work.

Rubens Barrichello, Honda RA18, Barcelona
Photo: HondaRacingF1

And this leaves the poor Honda. The car simply is not good enough yet and the team has lots of job ahead to move up from the back of the field to midfield at least. According to Jenson Button the car “lacks the driveability” and the new ECU and the fact that the car is brand new are mentioned as the main reasons. The gap between Honda and the top is 1 and half second at the moment. If I was to bet on who will copy the ugly fin from Red Bull first, Honda would be my candidate.

On Sunday there were 7 teams within 1 second and if ad the impresive run of Fisi in Force India on Friday we can say the field is very tight at the moment. The only team visibly lagging behind right now is Honda. We have no comparison with Ferrari and Toyota this time, these 2 will be testing this week in Bahrain. The lack of news (other than takeover and driver rumours) from Super Aguri is a bit worrying.

Unfortunatelly it will not be the racing that will be making the headlines after the Barcelona test but the racist behaviour of some Spanish fans towards Lewis Hamilton

Melbourne and Australian Grand Prix

Bernie Ecclestone has a fresh new target for his axe:

“Maybe we don’t want to be in Australia. Our costs are very high in Australia and we get a lot less money. It’s bloody bad for us. We’ve got quite a few places on the list which would like to have Formula One and, as it seems your guy (Victorian Premier John Brumby) down there doesn’t want Formula One, we can make him happy and make the other people happy.”

Mr. Ecclestone loves to threaten F1 venues and some do not survive his threats, Indianapolis being the latest example.

Albert Park Poster

I am not sure how serious Bernie is in this case, but there seem to be some real issues with promoting the race in Melbourne. Few weeks ago I read an article by an upset Australian fan on poor or almost non existent promotion of the race by the organizers. I also recalled my trip to Melbourne back in 2005, few weeks before the race. There were no signs of the Formula 1 race coming to town except for the preparation works in Albert Park and few angry posters around the lake…

Albert Park 2005

Albert Park 2005

I hope Australia keeps the F1 race, but if that is to be, the organizers and the local authorities should not continue sending the wrong messages to Bernie …

Short memory and Christian Klien

Not that long ago Christian Klien packed up his bags and said bye bye to his testing job in Honda. These are his words:

“I will look everywhere to get back into a race seat again. The places at Honda are occupied and a further year as a test driver brings nothing. One year testing is useful but it is not a permanent solution.

There are very many open places but, first of all, everyone has to wait and see what Fernando decided to do – and that could be two or three weeks away. But, I know I want to go racing again!”

The mention of Fernando Alonso in this quote is clear indication that Mr. Klien said this sometime between Alonso’s departure from McLaren and his signing for Renault. In other words, not that long ago a test driver job was nothing for Christian Klien.

And then all of a sudden BMW Sauber announces signing up Christian Klien as their test and reserve driver and Estonian Marko Asmer as a second junior test driver.

What caused this sudden change ? Short memory ? The snub from Force India ? The threat of the military service (by the way, will Austrian military still insist he reports for duty ?) Or realization that getting out the F1 circus now may mean getting out for good ?

Congratulations to Marko Asmer ! ( Here is the link to photos from 2007 Macau F3 race, with some photos of Asmer, but also other youngsters with fresh F1 test jobs – Hulkenberg and Grosjean. )

Spotted by Wolf – 1st Edition

WolfWelcome to the new regular weekend feature – Spotted by Wolf. Selection of interesting articles from F1 and other racing websites and blogs.

The possible purchase of a part or whole of Super Aguri created quite a buzz. Grand Prix dot Com offered different view than most of the other media.

Honda launched their new car and one their drivers, Rubens Barrichello is on course to become the most experienced F1 driver ever. He is only few races short of Patrese’s all time record 256 F1 starts. But how many races exactly is he short ? is the question Ollie of BlogF1 asks.

It looks like the team mate rivalries are not limited to F1 only, MotoGPs Dani Pedrosa had some nice things to say about his team mate Nicky Hayden.

The Facebook mania reached the F1 blogs too. Sidepodcast started a Facebook group, F1Wolf followed :-) . I am not exactly sure of the benefits, but let’s try and see. By the way, feel free to join F1Wolf on Facebook.

Besides Renault and Honda new Williams livery has been revealed by mistake. Jef, a F1Wolf reader, emailed me photos of what might be the 2008 Williams racing livery, with the new sponsor logos. Check the photos here, here and here.

If you wonder, why the 2008 European GP will not use the existing track in Valencia (often used for testing) but a brand new street track, this blog post brings an interesting insight and comparison.

The award for the weirdest thing I read this week goes to the Pat Symonds (Renault) and one his answers to F1 Racing magazine:

“Overall, F1 should be a constructors’ formula and therefore I fall on that side.I don’t really like the idea of only six teams running four cars. All sorts of things can happen; for example when Fernando was talking to Red Bull we advised him that his Renault engines wouldn’t be as reliable as ours.”

Is he serious ? Would Renault be really ready to punish Red Bull for signing Alonso with less reliable engines ?

And the final note. As I spent bigger part of January travelling around the globe, my post frequency was not exactly regular. Therefore all the commentators with 10 and more comments during last month can go on the Friends of F1Wolf wall. For January that would be Shaun, Paris and zblkhwk. So if you want to appear, send me a 125 x 125 button that you want to feature during January, sorry I meant February :-) .

Barcelona Day 1 – Red Bull Given Fin

I will summarize the Barcelona test when it is over after the weekend. Here comes only brief summary of what was new on Friday.

All teams showed up, except Ferrari and Toyota (heading to Bahrain instead) and Super Aguri (who knows where they are going).

- Red Bull came up with a radical engine cover. The purpose of this ugly fin is to provide more balance to compensate for TC and engine breaking ban. How this will affect the car if the wind blows from the wrong side, that we will see. It is hard to blame Adrian Newey now that the new Red Bull is not radical enough :-)

Here is the finned Bull:

Red Bull RB4 with fin

And this is the usual Red Bull look for comparison:

Red Bull RB4 normal

- Lewis Hamilton was the fastets guy on track.

- Fisichella was flying in his Force India car. Fourth fastest and less than a second slower than Hamilton.

- Nakajima hit the barriers hard. Williams cut their first test day short to work on the problem with the wrong wing mounting that apparently cause the crash.

- Hondas are still at the bottom but not sounding too worried, yet…

Renault R28 Unveiled in Paris

Renault R28Renault unveiled their 2008 F1 car – the R28 – yesterday in Paris. The eyesore of the livery remains but the team says this new car represents a shift in the design philosphy. The predecessor, R27, suffered from the switch to the Bridgestone tyres (and the wrong wind tunnel data reading), so it is no surprise that the R28 main design focus has been on getting the most of the Bridgestone tyres.

Renault R28

The new car features revised weight distribution, new aerodynamic concept and a “zero-keel” front suspension mounting. The new Renault is yet another car featuring the front wing bridge. Under the chassis the biggest changes are the new Standard ECU and new 4 race gearbox.

Technical Director Bob Bell:

“2007 was a very poor year by our standards. For 2008, there are high expectations inside and outside the team, and it is down to us to give the drivers a competitive car. We have put the problems from 2007 behind us and in terms of the car design, we have looked at the problem afresh. The team pushed very hard in all areas, and particularly on the aerodynamics. The front end of the car has come in for special attention with a brand new front wing and the front suspension. The rear end has also been heavily reworked, and we haven’t neglected the basics. The car ran reliably in its first test, and we made encouraging progress on performance development last week. We are confident that the advances we have seen in the wind tunnel will be reflected on track.”

(more photos in the article)
(more…)

Are people really getting so crazy ?

It was crazy enough idea 2 or so years back when Superi Aguri got conceived in order to keep Taku Sato in F1. I am a fan of Sato and I am glad he is still around and his move on Alonso last year was awesome. But still, the idea to create a multimillion dollar company for the sake of keeping one driver in F1 does sound crazy, right ?

This madness has proven to be contaigeous ! It has spread to India and another consortium around the Spice Group has openly admitted that the only purpose of their possible purchase of or investment to Super Aguri is to provide a race drive for Narain Karthikeyan …

Neha Rastogi, spokesman for the Spice Group:

“The discussions right now are centred on commercial feasibility. But our main mission is to support Indian drivers and give Narain the opportunity to drive in F1 again. So you can say the deal is contingent on this condition.”

People, please get real … Throw your money into F1 if that is what makes you feel good. But please choose the drivers based their skills …

Schedule for Singapore night race confirmed

Singapore FlyerUntil now it was not very clear from the 2008 F1 Sporting Regulations how would the race weekend in Singapore look. All that we knew was the race will start at 8pm. Now FIA has confirmed the schedule for practice and qualifying sessions too:

Friday
16:00 – 17:30 Practice Session 1
20:00 – 21:30 Practice Session 2

Saturday
17:00 – 18:00 Practice Session 3
20:00 – 21:00 Qualifying Session

Sunday
20:00 Race

The news F1Wolf has been receiving from the special envoy posted there also confirm the worst fears. Besides being the street race there also other similarities with Monaco. Prices of hotels are through the roof and the same can be said about the tickets. Well, I have to speed up the contributions to my piggy bank massively.

The full 2008 Formula One World Championship timetable is inside the article:

(more…)

Honda warns Super Aguri over drivers

Anthony Davidson, Super AguriThis week has been mostly about Honda, thanks to their car launch. Super Aguri also made it to the news thanks to Max Mosley’s doubts about their future. Now the strong words from Honda, namely from Nick Fry (to Reuters) only add to Super Aguri woes:

“The intent for 2008 is that Aguri will be on the grid but clearly what Ross (Brawn) and I need to do, and are doing, is ensure that doesn’t detract from our primary job. At this stage, the intent is that they will be on the grid with Honda engines and support. Exactly how much of that support comes from here is being worked on at the moment. I would not personally be convinced that the driver you mentioned would be of an acceptable standard for us.”

Nick Fry went on to point out that Anthony Davidson is the driver of the appropriate standard.

The driver Reuters mentioned is Narain Karthikeyan. His name came up in connection with Indian telecom company Spice Group. Spice Group is said to be one of the parties in talks with Super Aguri over funding or investment.

Now this is not an easy situation for Super Aguri. Paid drivers have been source of funds for the cash strapped teams for years. And the race seat may be the only thing thatSuper Aguri has to offer at the moment. On the other hand, while they may struggle without new funds coming in, they would surely go down and under and out of business should Honda pull the plug. Super Aguri simply can’t afford to go against Honda’s wishes…

(more…)

Honda Unveils RA108

The new Honda did some track mileage last week in Valencia. Today the official unveiling took part in Honda’s F1 headquarters in Brackley. Altgough no longer carrying the weight of the entire globe, the new mostly white Honda RA108 is also “green” with myearthdream message all over the chassis.

Honda RA108

The new Honda livery is what kept the fans guessing for a while, but for Honda the performance of their 2008 challenger is what matters the most. Especially after the dismal 2007 season with their dog of a car (poor retired RA107). This is what Ross Brawn had to say about the car the team unveiled today:

“The difficulty with last year’s car was that it produced a lot of downforce but it was in a very aggressive way. The focus on this car has been to make sure we produce the aero downforce in a more friendly way, a more usable way. We have also slimmed down the chassis, changed some of the layout for the car to give it more potential, particularly with aero development in the future, because it is going to be a very intensive season of development for us. There are a lot of new ideas, and we wanted a car that could accept a wide variety of changes through the season.
The car you see here is very much a base spec, which was established back in October/November and you will see over the next few months before we get to Melbourne some quite dramatic changes in the car – a new engine cover, new floor, new wings, new bargeboards and area around there. So this is very much a starting spec and there is a good programme before Melbourne.”

Here are some more photos of the new Honda RA108, courtesy of Honda Racing F1:

(more…)

Is F1 going to lose a team in 2008 ?

Aguri SuzukiWith Prodrive expected to enter the F1 from coming season, it looked that finally F1 can have a full grid of 12 teams and 24 cars. The last time F1 was close to having 12 teams was in 2002, the year when Toyota entered. However Prost went out of business during the winter and Arrows cars were last seen in Germany 2002. With 5 races to go in 2002, the grid that promised to have 24 cars has shrunk to 20.

Now Max Mosley is not convinced there will still be 11 teams in Formula 1 by the end of the 2008 season. When asked whether Super Aguri will appear on the start of Australian GP in Melbourne in little over 6 weeks, he said:

“I wouldn’t like to stake my life on that. I think so, but you can’t be certain.”

But when asked if he is confident that all eleven teams will contest the entire 2008 F1 championship, he allegedly said to PA Sport:

“Not very.”

The team in question is no doubt Super Aguri.
(more…)

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