I took a short weekend break from F1 Wolf but now I am back with the update on the 2008 Prediction Game.
As you may already know, there are few changes in the rules. The main two are:
1) You can predict the 2008 champion anytime before March 13, 2008. If you already placed your prediction you can still change it anytime and as many times as you want, as long as it is done on/before March 13, 2008.
2) Unlike in 2007, the deadline for race result predictions will not be before start of each race but before start of the qualifying. Why ? Because this year we are also predicting the pole position.
The complete rules are here.
So, how does it look so far ?
Only 50 days left and the Aussie GP will be on the way. To mark the occassion I started a poll on the left sidebar – vote for your 2008 F1 Champion. If you haven’t done so, make sure you also join the 2008 F1 Wolf Prediction Game.
In the past 10 days we had some official and some unoficial car launches. First Red Bull launched in a low key way their RB4 in Jerez. Williams and Renault rolled out their new F1 cars in Valencia, with Renault planning the official launch for next week. Right after them Rubens Barrichello took the new Honda RA108 for a spin.
Drivers are slowly beginning to show they new lids, you can follow the new 2008 driver helmets here. Fernando Alonso is settling in Renault again, and seems to be reminding himslef of the good old times with his new helmet too.
There were Super Aguri sale rumours circulating, but if anything has been sold to Alejandro Agag, Super Aguri team is not aware of it. The team is the last one yet to officially confirm both drivers and the only one that did not test in Valencia.
The Valencia test attracted most of the F1 attention this week, Ferrari, McLaren and Williams doing pretty well. Heikki Kovalainen seems to have get used to McLaren car very quickly and very well.
The season haven’t even started and there are already claims that some teams may have found a way around the TC ban. FIA was also in action. Max Mosley is ready to introduce and confident to police a budget cap as early as from 2009 season. Slight change in the rules is on the way for 2008 season – teams will be allowed one penalty free engine change per car per season.
Max Mosley can’t seem to able to stop mumbling about the spy gate. He warned that the next team caught spying faces exclusion.
F1 Racing magazine finally devoted the cover to Kimi Raikkonen, few months after he won his F1 title. ING signed up as a sponsor of the beloved Hungarian GP. Lewis Hamilton signed up with McLaren until the end of 2012 season, and no doubt Ron Dennis added something to Hamilton’s paycheck too.
Nigel Stepney came out and said he never thougt that him passing Ferrari data to McLaren will result in McLaren using them, or something along those lines.
And finally, Lewis Hamilton revealed he knows how not to behave, and it was no one other than Fernando Alonso who taught him the lesson:
“He showed me just how not to behave as an F1 driver. He was (the leader) at the beginning, wasn’t he, but it changed. Well, he thought he was at the beginning,. But I don’t think that should be the case, we should be a team. It should be equal.”
Yesterday was the final day of the four day test at Circuito Ricardo Tormo in Valencia. The teams are in very different stages of their 2008 car development so no conclusions should be made yet, but there are already some signs of what may come.
Ferrari seems to be ready to mount another title challenge. Both Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa had good runs in the new Ferrari. Massa was fastest on Tuesday, Raikkonen on Thursday. It can be said that Ferrari is the fastest car at the moment.
McLaren did not do too bad either. Heikki Kovalainen is settling in the car pretty well and he even managed to set the new lap record on this F1 test track. He later disclosed it was on very low fuel, but nevertheless the combination of Heikki Kovalainen and McLaren car looks impressive. Lewis Hamilton was in the car on Wednesday and Thursday only, both time outpaced by his team mate. It may mean that Heikki will be formidable opponent, it may also mean each of the McLaren drivers had different test duties.
Williams, the pleasant surprise. At this stage of the testing season clearly the third fastest car, no matter whether driven by Rosberg or Nakajima. They however have to keep up their job, because there are several teams right behind them … Considering that they only came out with the new car this week in Valencia, the performance of Williams is very impressive.
Jarno Trulli expressed suspicion that some teams may have found a way around the new standard ECU developed and supplied by McLaren Electronic Systems.
“I’m not going to name any names, but I think that some teams have already found a way to automate the starting procedure and reduce to the minimum the chance of spinning the wheels under acceleration. I’m not saying someone’s cheating, even though we’ve received some conflicting information at Toyota. But having analysed the behaviour on the track both now and in the tests in December, the changes between them are many – and in several cases suspicious.”
Autosport also reports some “Paddock sources” saying that some cars did sound different under heavy acceleration during last week tests in Jerez. Only Honda and BMW did not run in Jerez last week, so if what Trulli says is true, there are quite a few suspects. The teams would be stupid to use something outright illegal, but pushing the limits to the edge of legality is common in the competitive world of F1. Remember BAR and their fuel tank in 2005 (banned for 2 races), Renault and their mass dampers in 2006, Ferrari and their flexi floor in Melbourne 2007…
The implementation of the standard ECU, was one of the reasons why it was possible to ban the traction control. It has been banned before, but quickly everybody found a way around it somewhere deep inside the car electronics and FIA had no other way than to make the TC legal again. Standard ECU should have been (among other things) a solution to the problem policing the TC ban.
If some of the teams indeed found a way around the standard ECU after only few months of working with it, than the TC ban might be shortlived again. It would be interesting to see what action (if any) will FIA take. Trulli may be right or he may be wrong. But in any case I hope that FIA goes ahead and investigates Trulli’s suspicions now. If there are to be any rulings on legality of any cars, FIA better make them before the racing begins. It would be nice if the 2008 Formula 1 season can start without a controversy.
A week ahead of the official launch Honda’s 2008 car, RA108 made the track debut. Rubens Barrichello took the car around the Valencia test track today.
As the new livery is expected to be revealed only at the official launch next week, all we can see is the all white car (last year they used all black livery during winter). A quick look reveals several similarities – the engine cover, sidepods … Hopefully the car is different from its predecessor, the doomed RA107, where it needs to be. Unlike many other teams, new Honda does not feature the front wing bridge (yet).
Rubens seems to be sticking to his traditional helmet design …
Here is the 2007 Honda F1 Screensaver to remind you of the 2007 Honda car with the Earth livery.
What will the new Honda livery be like ?
The teams keep rolling out their new cars and the F1 drivers are coming up with their 2008 helmet design. Here they are:
Fernando Alonso seems to be getting away from McLaren days and returning to Renault even with his helmet design. Jarno Trulli reduced the shiny silver surface with more red colour over it. Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica keep the designs very close to their 2007 styles.
Kimi Raikkonen’s new 2008 helmet (click here) is very similar to his 2007 one, but the white front has been replaced with some sort of “tribal” drawing. Anyone knows what it means ?
Lewis Hamilton keeps his yellow helmet pretty much unchanged. Heikki Kovalainen had to make changes to accomodate new sponsors the result is Alonso 2007 like helmet. Bourdais keeps his Champ Car yellow and blue with the addition of Red Bull brand.
Both HondaÂ andÂ RedÂ Bull drivers keep the same designs as in 2007. Sutil’s helmet does not look too different from his 2007 one as well. Fisichella is another guy sticking with his traditional colours.
Please check back for updates to this post with more on 2008 F1 driver helmets. It happened before that drivers used different design for the winter testing and came up with brand new one when the season started, so these may not yet be the definite 2008 helmets.
If you come across good pictures of new 2008 F1 driver helmets that are not yet displayed here, let me know. I will add them here !
To see what the drivers were wearing in 2007, check here
The German magazine AutoBild reports that Aguri Suzuki has sold 50% stake in the Super Aguri F1 team to Spanish billionaire Alejandro Agag. The GP2 team owner Agag has been linked with purchase of Super Aguri shares for quite some time.
Super Aguri run into financial difficulties after their sponsor SS United defaulted on the sponsorship payments during the 2007 season. They managed to secure few smaller sponsors before the 2007 Japanese GP at Fuji but still had to rely on massive support from Honda to keep on going.
The entry of Alejandro Agag into the Super Aguri would definitelly be good news for the Japanese team. Whether it is also good news for Super Aguri drivers Sato and Davidson is a different story. Sato is probably safe but not so Anthony Davidson. Super Aguri repeatedly stated they would prefer both their 2007 drivers to continue, but haven’t confirmed them yet mainly because of the uncertainties about team’s future. Now when Agag may be on board I would not be surprised if his own favourite (whoever it may be) enters the picture.
What puzzles me a bit is that why would a deal like this be done before the customer car arbitration is over and the issue what cars can and can’t race in 2008 is settled. Fifty percent stake in F1 team does not come cheap. Why would someone splash out the cash before knowing if the team actualy has a legitimate car to race with ? Or do Agag and Suzuki already know something we don’t ?
Update: Audetto, Managing Director of Super Aguri has denied the sale report:
“We have had no recent dialogue or an ongoing relationship with Agag.”
FIA has been in action again. Max Mosley seems to be on track to impose the budget caps from season 2009 already.
“Starting in 2009, there will be a cap on expenditure for all Formula One costs other than engines, drivers and expenditure exclusively for promotion and marketing. Because of the variety of arrangements, particularly shareholdings, team principals’ remuneration will not be included in the cap.”
The budget cap figure for 2009 and perhaps for 2010 and 2011 is expected to be set after a meeting between FIA technical advisor Tony Purnell and financial representatives of the teams on January 31 in Paris. The Financial Working Group is expected to finalize the details of the regulations before June 2008. Mosley warns of different action should not sufficient progress be made by then:
“If the Financial Working Group are unable to devise a satisfactory method of checking expenditure or if a majority of the competing teams do not agree the proposals by 30 June 2008, the cost reduction measures voted by the World Motor Sport Council on 7 December 2007 will be adopted for 2009 in their entirety.”
That would be the radical measures like the wind tunnel limits advertised by Max Mosley few weeks ago. While I think that limiting the massive spending is the step in the right direction I am not that sure it will work. Teams will be looking for the ways how to get around this especially those in a need to catch up during the season. Mosley is clearly aware of that, therefore the warning. I really want to see how is he going to police the budget cap. Especially when 3 costly areas are left out…
The FIA and the team bosses came up also with sensible proposal not to penalize one engine change per car per season. That would mean that the first 2008 engine change for a driver will not be followed by the 10 place grid penalty. This proposal needs get an approval of the World Motorsport Council and the vote is expected soon. A rare voice of reason
Sometime the helmets the drivers use during the testing season are not the same than those they enter the season with, but this one looks like a keeper. Alonso’s new helmet is a return to his previous Renault design and an obvious escape from his McLaren days helmet.
It also displays 2 ace cards on the back to mark his 2 world titles.
And here is the updated version as seen at the Renault R28 launch, sporting logos of his new sponsor:
I like this Alonso’s new helmet more that his 2007 one.
Red Bull team unveiled their second Renault powered car – RB4 – in Jerez, Spain. Same as its predecessor RB3 it has been designed by Adrian Newey.
As it became a trend in F1, it features the bridge wing, similar to what the team used towards the end of the 2007 season. It seems that Red Bull truly gives you the extra wings
The car is quite similar to the RB4. The main changes very likely took part under the chassis. Let’s hope the team has found some cure for their reliability issues.
To remember how the RB3 looked like, here is the 2007 Red Bull F1 Screensaver
Red Bull also yesterday confirmed Sebastien Buemi as their reserve driver.
Toro Rosso team will be starting the 2008 season with their old car.
I am out of reach of the internet today, so for the regular visitors a pre-recorded message
The best of the rest, third fastest team on the 2007 F1 grid, second place in the constructors table (after McLaren’s exclusion). BMW Sauber suprised many in 2007. Here is the BMW Sauber 2007 screensaver to remeber the so far best ever season for the Swiss based former Sauber team.
You can download the screensaver here: 2007 BMW Sauber F1 Screensaver
Please check the screensaver tag for more F1 screensavers.