A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,
OTD Lite 2006 – Fisichella appy with Malaysian GP victory
When you’re a child, days seem to last forever. Especially stuck in classes that you don’t want to attend when you could be outside playing sports. As you get older time literally flies – possibly because you tend to make plans in the future and you count down the days to their fulfillment.
Anyway, as per usual I digress. Is it really nine years since Italy’s last great hope took his final race victory? On this day Giancarlo Fisichella took victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix from his Renault team-mate Fernando Alonso. Surprisingly there were no histrionics from the Spaniard or from team boss Flavio Briatore and, of course, Fisi was “very ‘appy”.
It seems scarcely believable that a career that promised so much – during his debut Jordan season in 1997 – petered out with a mere three victories to his name. To this day, he and compatriot Jarno Trulli remain the last victors adorned by the Tricolore and sadly a footnote in Italian motorsport history.
With the country blessed with the legend that is Valentino Rossi still winning in MotoGp and Ferrari dominating the Italian media – there appears little chance that we will see an Italian F1 driver anytime soon.
Smedley applauds Mercedes work ethic
In recent days Felipe Massa and Pat Symonds have suggested that the Power Unit that they receive from Mercedes may not be of similar spec to the works team.
Ferrari have made significant gains over the winter but Williams realistic goal is to remain the second quickest constructor, behind Mercedes. At present the pace between the Ferrari and WIlliams cars looks similar, but once the inevitable season long development race kicks in, the team from Grove may well be out-spent by the Maranello squad.
Rob Smedley believes that Malaysia will prove more suitable for the Grove team. “We have achieved the goals we have set which were quite aggressive but Ferrari have also made a big breakthrough with a lot of that being mainly due to their engine.”
“In Melbourne we were very close to one another in performance but when both cars ran on the same tyre Ferrari were definitely faster than us. That is down to both the chassis and the engine. If you look at the characteristics of Malaysia it should prove a little better for us but will we be ahead of Ferrari? It’s impossible to say.”
Unlike his compatriots, Smedley doesn’t feel that the engine is lacking in comparison to the Brackley team. ” I worked for a team that has dominated (Ferrari) and now Mercedes are dominating but this comes about because of a great deal of hard work – they have dome everything well and you have to take your hat off to them”
“Look if we knew the answers we would have done the same thing but there is no trick or magic technical secret that allows them to be 1.4 seconds faster than everyone. Quite simply they have produced an excellent car and have raised their level.”
Prost offers direction for future of F1
Four time champion Alain Prost was interviewed by Motorsport.com last weekend in Miami, where he saw his son win the E-Prix.
Whilst it is in vogue to blame Mercedes for all Formula One’s ills – especially if you work in Milton Keynes – the Frenchman offered a different view opinions about the problems F1 is facing at present.
Prost was asked whether the proposed 1,000bhp engines would arrest the sport’s declining audience, and as someone who drove mechanical beasts of that power level it would be natural to assume the Frenchman would have an affinity with this idea.
Yet Prost had other priorities on his agenda.
“Look at drivers aids, for example. As far as I’m concerned, I would take off quite a lot of downforce, make cars maybe harder to drive. For sure, a bit of extra power wouldn’t be bad. But that’s not all. There are many things on the side, such as radio communications, etc. You have to give back an image, a credibility to F1, and to attract younger fans.”
Renault’s brand ambassador then offered an intriguing insight into why F1’s fan-base is decreasing: “Here, we are among a non-renewed public of F1 fans. That’s also why they tend to get bored: those are the same people! People enjoy noise? There is no more! They are nostalgic of the 80’s, etc. We have to attract people, so that they see the new things brought in.”
“This engine technology is fantastic and it’s not been talked about enough, or maybe not explained the right way. We have to put things straight and understand why we arrived at this point instead of going ‘here’s a thing that’s gonna make a difference’. I don’t really believe in that.”
Wolff compounds Alonso misery further
In the aftermath of the Maranello bloodbath which saw Fernando Alonso leave Ferrari after five years of failed expectations, a consensus emerged here on TJ13 that the Spaniard’s driving gift in fact had mis-directed the design engineers as to what exactly their problems were.
As Fernando’s allies were systematically removed from the Italian organisation, Alonso attempted to ingratiate himself with the new team principal – Marco Mattiacci. This proved to be, too little, too late and the Italian media report at the Japanese GP the pair had a seismic dispute which saw Fred storm out using all blasphemies known to mankind.
As the weeks dragged on toward the winter break, Fernando was rumoured to be taking a sabbatical, signing to drive at Le Mans with Porsche together with being courted by Honda for their F1 return.
The result was Alonso remained in F1 by kissing and making up with his old employer – Ron Dennis, as together they faced a new dawn and the rebirth of a historic partnership. During the winter tests, Fernando had but limited running with the dysfunctional Honda Power Unit before his mysterious accident in Barcelona hospitalised him.
Possibly even more annoying for the Asturian, is that the team he reluctantly left after five long years appears to have turned their fortunes around. This is evidenced by the fact that at the Asutralian F1 opening weekend, Toto Wolff singled out Ferrari as the Mercedes’ team biggest rival.
“The road to the title is a long one but we have to consider where Ferrari was last year. Their improvement is very impressive and we can see from GPS data that their engine is very powerful. The Cavallino has all it takes to catch us and I’m certain that it will only be a matter of time before they are fighting us.”
Zanardi to compete in motorsport again
For anybody who is impressed by the indomitable spirit of the human mind – one person springs to mind for his sheer will to refuse defeat – Alex Zanardi.
It has been announced that he will be competing in at least two rounds of the Blancpain Endurance Series with BMW. He will compete at the 24 hours of Spa-Francorchamps and the Paul Ricard 1000km with the Z4 GT3.
As yet his team-mates haven’t been named but Zanardi is overjoyed to be competing once again: “I dreamed of running a classic endurance for a long time and it’s great that the BMW Motorsport and Jens Marquardt managed to make that dream a reality.”
“It seems impossible that a guy with no legs like me can compete with ‘normal’ drivers in an event that is so competitive, difficult and prestigious, but I know that my friends from BMW Motorsport have all the technical skills and innovative ideas to get the better of this challenge.”
Italy’s Goodwood FoS set to run in historic Turin
Before Enzo Ferrari created his eponymous company in 1947 – he had been the team manager for Alfa Romeo in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s.
Prior to this, Enzo had survived WWI and then sought employment with the Fiat car company in Turin. He was rejected and found himself sat on a bench whilst the snow fell in Turin’s Valentino Park. He cried tears of anguish that day.
In 1947 with his fledgling company he entered a car for a race around the same Valentino Park and it won. Again Enzo cried, but this time with tears of joy.
Inspired by the enormous success that the Goodwood Festival of Speed has become, Turin announced that they would be hosting an open-air motorshow at the ‘Parco Valentino’ from 11th to 14th June this year.
Coach builders, car manufacturers and historic race teams will attend the event with cars from Ferrari, Tyrrell, Toleman, Tecno and Osella amongst the stars – as well as a Lotus-Renault once driven by Brazilian legend Ayrton Senna. Further motor sport support comes from the rallying world, WTCC, DTM, WEC and the World Series by Renault cars.
On the Sunday the racing cars will travel the 3km from the park to the Piazza San Carlo, where they will be on public display. Yet such is the expected attendance, the organisers have decided the cars will follow an 18km route from the Valentino Park to the Gardens of the Reggia di Venaria in Turin, to accommodate over 300,000 spectators.
Giedo van der Garde’s new drive