2005/2006 F1 News and Testing.

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rpstewart said:
I think I've got a handle on it but what is the obsession with qualifying on race fuel all about??? If the slowest 12 get to pick their strategy based on their qualifying result why are the top ten not allowed this advantage?

There's also a real risk if you're going for pole - you need to put in two quick laps just to get into the final session. From what I can tell if you put in a blinder in session 1 all that gives you is a spot in session 2, if you screw up session 3 then tough. Conversely if you get 11th in session 2 and everyone screws up session 3 then you can end up with a faster lap time than the pole sitter! How the heck does that make sense?

Solution: 1 hour, 12 laps, fastest guy gets pole. The fans understand it.

I think thats about right tbh...

However there was 1 advantage with the single lap of the past couple of years - I could do it on the fly for this place. ;)

New format and 12 lap could be on the confusing and difficult side...

Simon/~Flibster
 
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A whole new ball-game?

Tyre changes during the race are back for 2006. Does that mean major changes for the team? Not really – it’s all still about meticulous preparation, and perfect execution. By re-introducing tyre changes during the Grand Prix for the 2006 season, the FIA has radically altered the physionomy of the races. Like in 2004, refuelling stops will once again be accompanied by tyre changes, and the strategic opportunities to jump ahead of the competition that come with this type of ‘sprint’ racing.

However, to make that move, you need to make sure firstly that the race strategy is the correct one, and secondly that the team in the pit-lane can execute the plan perfectly…

At the Renault F1 Team, this job falls to a highly-trained group of people. The winter preparations reached their maximum last Friday, when the entire race team travelled to the Barcelona test in order to rehearse their manoeuvres for 2006. It was an operation that involved 11 trucks, and all the new pit equipment for the 2006 season, as the team ran through a demanding schedule of preparation and practice. It was vital preparation for the new challenges of the 2006-style race weekend. This is what they worked on…

Race pit-stops. During this exercise, the time the car spends stationary is dictated by the flow rate of the refuelling machine, which pumps 12.5 litres per second (limited by the regulations) into the car. The Renault F1 Team’s operating methods will be similar to 2004: at each corner of the car, a mechanic pulls off the old wheel, another puts the new one in place, while a third operates the pneumatic wheelgun to loosen and tighten the wheelnut. The mechanics’ still is put to the test here: if the nut is too loose, the car will have to stop again to have it tightened. Too tight, on the other hand, and it will cost time at the next stop… That’s why they train before the first race – to make sure that in the heat of battle, everything is instinctive.

The other key players in this choreographed ballet are the jack men, at the front and rear of the car, and the refuelling team: two men holding the hose, which weighs 40 kg! Then, other mechanics carry fie extinguishers, are ready to replace the nose, adjust the wing, clean the visor or clear debris from the colling ducts. In total, some 22 people crowd around the car at pit-stop time. And they do so around an R26 that has been designed to make the stops quick and reliable. That means the wheels and uprights are designed to mesh perfectly: you cannot lock the wheel nut on if it hasn’t been done right.

Qualifying. The new qualifying means the teams need perfect organisation in order to get the most out of the hour-long session. During this time, the cars must compete in three sessions: Heat 1, 15 mins; Heat 2, 15 mins; Super-pole, 20 mins. Given that the circuit Is often quickest at the end of the session, the team will need to be ready to make a lightning-fast pit-stop at the end of the session – for both cars. Time management throughout the hour-long session was also something the team rehearsed in some detail last week in Barcelona.

So what’s the key to managing successfully the demands of the race weekend? It’s simple. Training. Before the season starts, the mechanics will complete more than 200 practice pit-stops. Then at each race weekend, the team trains on Saturday evening and Sunday morning (at least 25 stops per session). And they practice for every situation: have the cars collided in the first corner? Does a sudden rain shower mean a quick double stop is required? The team runs through all the possible scenarii so that nothing comes as a surprise in the heat of battle.

“From a simple puncture, to changing car parts, we try and train for every situation,” explains Steve Nielsen. By the end of the year, the team will have practiced over 1000 stops. Back at the factory, video footage is studied to let each team member see where they can economise their movement, and improve performance. And of course, the drivers have their part to play as well: if Fernando or Fisico stop more than 20 cm beyond their marks, it could cost several seconds. So that’s why they practiced as well last week – to make sure everybody is at the top of their game, in every area, come March 11th in Bahrain, and the first 2006-style qualifying session.
 
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Red Bull extend testing programme

Red Bull Racing have decided to extend their pre-season testing programme in a bid to fully get on top of their car before the start of the campaign in Bahrain.

The team had originally planned to finish their pre-season preparations at Barcelona last week but cold weather and rain, allied to reliability problems with their Ferrari-powered RB2, hampered their running so much they have decided to attend the Valencia test this week as well.

Sporting director Christian Horner remains hopeful, however, that the team are slowly getting back on track with their programme after the cooling problems on the RB2 that hit their early running.

Revised bodywork introduced recently has helped overcome some of their dramas, with Christian Klien able to set the fourth fastest time in testing last Friday, although a lot of focus now needs to go into overcoming niggling reliability issues.

"The new bodywork we introduced is doing what it is supposed to do and RB2 has obvious potential which we are now beginning to see," said Horner.

"Klien did a decent lap (on Friday) in testing which proves the car has got speed. The engineers have a good understanding of how the car reacts to set-up changes and the drivers are growing in confidence in its abilities.

"Everyone in the team is working flat out to be as well prepared as possible for Bahrain and the final test in Valencia will give us more track time to smooth out a few rough edges in the overall package."
 
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'I Don't Care Who My Team Mate Is, I Am Not Afraid of Anybody'

Kimi Raikkonen has seemingly responded to speculation that he turned down a $72m offer to stay at McLaren beyond this year.

The Irish 'Setanta' broadcaster quoted the Finn, who is strongly linked with a move to Ferrari, as saying that he had 'not decided' what to do in 2007 and beyond.

Raikkonen added: ''But (this indecision) cannot go on for too long.

''At some point everyone needs to make a decision.''

Kimi, 26, denied that he is baulking at the concept of facing off at the silver clad outfit with 2007 arrival Fernando Alonso.

He said: ''I don't care who my team mate is, I am not afraid of anybody. That (fact) will not determine whether I stay (at McLaren) or go somewhere else.''

In the Italian 'Gazzetta dello Sport', Kimi continued that he will wait to gauge the pace of his McLaren in 2006 before making the call.

And he insisted: ''I have lots of options.''
 
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Firman signs for Aguri Super GT team

A1 Team Ireland principal driver Ralph Firman has re-signed for Team Honda Racing and will compete in the 2006 Japanese Super GT series driving a Honda NSX run by the sports car team owned by new Formula One entrant Aguri Suzuki.

Firman, 30, attended Honda's 2006 Motorsport launch in Tokyo last Monday where he was announced as the only European driver in the two-car Team Honda Racing line-up. He will drive alongside co-driver Daisuke Ito in the Honda NSX-GT developed for Honda by Dome Co., Ltd and M-TEC Co., Ltd. The pair finished 2nd in the 2005 Japanese SuperGT series, taking a dominant victory in Round 7 in Autopolis.

"I am delighted to have signed to drive for Team Honda Racing and I am confident we will be highly competitive again this year," said Firman. "Last year was the first running of the new Super GT series and we developed the Honda NSX-GT very well during the season. We were unfortunate not to win the championship in my opinion, so this year our sights are firmly set on both the Team and Driver titles."

"It's a very competitive series and the battle between the manufacturers is hard fought. I'd like to thank both Honda and Aguri Suzuki for giving me the opportunity to continue as part of their programme. Monday's event in Tokyo was very impressive as it reminded me of Honda's enormous commitment to motorsports world-wide, so it's an honour to drive for them. I will certainly be very busy in the coming weeks combining the remaining A1GP events with the start of the new Super GT season."

The 2006 Autobacs Super GT series comprises 9 rounds and will commence at Suzuka on March 19th, one week after Firman competes in the United States round of the A1GP series at Laguna Seca. Firman raced in Japan for six years before progressed to Formula One with Jordan Grand Prix in 2003, including winning the 2002 Japanese Formula Nippon Championship with Nakajima Racing. He has been a consistent points-scorer and highly competitive for A1 Team Ireland in the inaugural A1GP series, highlights including a podium finish in Portugal and fastest laps in both Dubai and Indonesia.
 
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Richards makes progress on new F1 team

Former BAR boss David Richards is believed to be close to giving the green light to launching his own Prodrive Formula One team for 2008.

Sources have confirmed that Richards recently held talks with FIA president Max Mosley and F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone to discuss the future framework of regulations planned for the sport after 2007.

It is the first indication that Richards' plans for a team are advancing behind the scenes - even though he has made no secret of the fact that he has been considering a return to Grand Prix racing for some time.

Although Richards has declined to comment on the latest developments, he did admit at the Autosport International Show in January that a move to F1 for Prodrive would make sense if new rules planned for 2008 made the sport more economically viable for independent teams.

"I would not say it is unfinished business, but Prodrive is a motorsport business and that is at the heart of everything that we do," he said.

"We are involved in most aspects of it, but we are currently not involved in F1 - although we do supply some components.

"I will only go there (into F1) when the situation allows us to be competitive and to make a profit - and the changes coming for 2008 might allow that to come to fruition."

There are suggestions that David Lapworth, who left his position as Performance Director of Prodrive's Subaru World Rally Team last week, will be involved in the F1 operation.

A report in this week's Autocar magazine also suggests that Prodrive will build a state-of-the-art factory for their F1 team at the former Honiley airfield near Warwick, which has been owned by the company since 1999.

Richards' ambitions for the team come at a time when Mosley is campaigning hard on behalf of independent teams – claiming they are the lifeblood of F1. Mosley admitted recently that Richards was 'serious' in his ambitions to launch an F1 team.

"David Richards is looking at it quite seriously, but I think that is a separate operation, he has put a whole operation together," said Mosley. "It would make sense."
 
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Rossi says F1 will take a backseat

Valentino Rossi has claimed that his Formula One efforts will take a backseat for a while now that the new MotoGP season is just around the corner.

Although Rossi impressed Ferrari team management with his recent run at Valencia in Spain, prompting further speculation that he could land a drive at the team in 2007, he has played down talk that his focus is slipping away from motorbikes.

Speaking at the launch of his Camel Yamaha team in Milan on Monday, Rossi made it clear that he was completely concentrated on defending his title on two-wheels.

"Formula One has always taken a backseat, especially now that we're close [to the new MotoGP season], absolutely," he said.

Rossi is clearly undecided about his future plans, and the fact that he will take care of development of Yamaha's 2007 bike, which will feature an 800cc engine, indicates that he is definitely not ruling out remaining in motorbike racing.

However, when asked by reporters whether an unsuccessful defence of his bike title would be a good enough reason to remain in MotoGP, Rossi said: "No."

Rossi is likely to test again for Ferrari this year, as the team continue to evaluate his potential if they need to find a replacement for Michael Schumacher.

But the Italian has made it clear that he has no problem switching between cars and bikes - and that his racing activities are not suffering at all from his F1 try-outs.

"This is one of the things I long thought about before deciding to try the car, but there is absolutely no problem," he explained. "You could even run on the same day in the car and on the bike because they are so different...The car is driven in a completely different way on totally different racing lines.

"The important things to be quick are completely different compared to bikes. In fact, when I went to Valencia to test in Formula One, the next day I went to Qatar [to test the bike] and after five laps I went quicker than in my fastest lap of [last year's] race, so there's certainly no problem.

"Yamaha has given me the chance to test because they know there won't be any repercussions on my effort on bikes, neither in tests nor in the upcoming season, which is certainly the most important thing for me."
 
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Yamaha: no deadline for Rossi

The Camel Yamaha team have denied they have given MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi a deadline to decide what he will do next year.

In the last year Rossi has tested several times for the Ferrari F1 team and has been linked with a move to Formula One in 2007.

Asked at today's launch of the MotoGP team in Milan whether the Japanese manufacturer had set a deadline for Rossi to decide on his future, Yamaha team director Davide Brivio told autosport.com: "No, we're waiting for him to let us know."

While Yamaha are awaiting for Rossi to make up his mind, Brivio said that the team are planning for the future in case the Italian rider decides to move elsewhere.

"Obviously our priority will be to wait and see what Valentino wants to do," said Brivio. "If he'll carry on with the bikes we hope it will be with us otherwise we'll see. Obviously we're thinking about it.

"In our meetings we talk about the possibility [of him leaving], but we're scared to think about it because we wouldn't like to find ourselves in that situation."

After a Formula One test in Valencia last month, both Rossi and Ferrari said there will be further tests.

Brivio, however, is not worried testing cars will make Rossi lose focus on the bike, and he reckons it might in fact benefit his performances.

"Absolutely not, because especially this winter I've seen him very focused and efficient. It almost looks like it's beneficial for him," he said.

Asked how much of a loss it would be for Yamaha and for MotoGP to lose Rossi to other forms of racing, Brivio replied: "I don't know how much, but we'd all lose out. Obviously Yamaha would lose the best rider in the world, maybe the best rider of all times, and MotoGP would lose a lot of audience, so let's do our best to make sure he stays."

Brivio also said he doesn't know whether Ferrari have given Rossi a deadline to decide on his future.

Yamaha's position about Rossi testing in Formula One was further reiterated by Lin Jarvis, managing director of Yamaha Motor Racing: "We have one of the world's top sportsmen with us, one of the very best sportsmen in the world, and sportsmen will always look for new challenges, extreme challenges.

"So our position is that we allow Valentino to express himself and to make the next challenge.

"Of course, we want Valentino to stay with us, so the only thing we can do is to put together the best team, the best bike and the best package because we know, in his heart, he's a motorcyclist, so we hope if he has fun riding the Yamaha and we provide him with everything we can, he will stay with MotoGP."
 
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Mercedes unveil new F1 Safety Car
Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the new Safety Car to be used in the Formula One World Championship during the 2006 season.

The brand-new CLK 63 AMG will make its debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix when the season kicks off in less than two weeks time.

The standard road version to be sold to the public will only appear in the second quarter of 2006.

The car, which will again be driven by Bernd Maylander, is powered by an AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine, producing 481 HP. The power is managed by an AMG Speedshift 7G-Tronic automatic transmission with steering-wheel shift paddles.

To optimise handling, further racing features have been added to the car, including a sports suspension and 19-inch AMG forged alloy wheels with wide-base tyres.

The new Safety car will be 150 kg lighter than the road version, despite all the additional components such as communication equipment, lights, rear axle and brake cooling and the larger wheels and brake system.

Meanwhile, as in previous years, the C55 AMG estate will be the official medical car.

Mercedes-AMG has been supplying the Formula One Safety Car for the past ten years.

Mmmm... Nice! However I'm not sure 481bhp + Bernd Maylander = safety!
 
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No doubt they will still complain that its too slow...maybe they should stick a DTM C Class in just to keep the F1 cars circulating at quick enough pace to keep heat in the tyres and brakes.
 
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Not really, its replacing the SLK 55 which has 380 odd. The 6.3 is replacing the 5.5 in the AMG range and is going to also replace the 5.5 Supercharged engine as well. Its meant to be quite tuneable but this is its first outing in a road car. Torque will be down on the supercharged engine but it will meet all the compliance laws etc and doesn't destroy the 7G gearbox like the supercharged one does.

They are going to stick it into a C classs as well...now thay will give an M3 and S4/RS4 a bit of trouble :)
 
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No decision on US GP until after 2006 race
The future of the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis will not be resolved until after this year's race, a circuit official has confirmed.

Speculation about whether Indianapolis wants to continue hosting the US GP has been rife since the tyre controversy that marred the 2005 event - especially with the circuit's contract to host a Formula One race running out this year.

But despite F1's desire to keep the race on the calendar, because of the importance of the United States market, Indianapolis chiefs have made it clear that they will not rush into making a decision.

Instead, they have said that they want to see how fans receive this year's event before they make a decision about whether they want to continue with F1.

"We had conversations after last year's event and then mutually decided to address the future after we see how this year's event goes," circuit spokesman Fred Nation told The Indianapolis Star.

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone admitted earlier this month that he was unsure about whether a new deal with Indianapolis would be struck - and hinted about a possible switch to Las Vegas.

"The contract with Indianapolis expires this year, and I don't yet know whether there will be the conditions to renew it," he said in an interview with Autosprint. "I'm looking around for an alternative solution.

"You can forget the idea of going back to Long Beach, although I'd like a street circuit anyway, like in the 1980's. Ideally it would be a track in Las Vegas, obtained from the 'Strip,' the road with all the most important casinos. We are trying that, we're working on it."
 
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New look Super Aguri hits track
Super Aguri have unveiled their definitive aero package today, which they will race with in Bahrain, when they make their Formula One debut on March 12.

The Japanese squad had both Takuma Sato and Yuji Ide at Silverstone today in order to shake down the two chassis that will be taken to the first three rounds of the season.

But bad weather, including some snow, meant the team were only able to run a handful of laps, to check all systems are working.

The shake down also allowed the team to unveil their car livery, which sported minimal colour over white background with red lining.

"We just did 3-4 laps to shake down the cars," the team's managing director Daniel Audetto told autosport.com.

"We ran the revised aero as well, it's the one we will use in Bahrain. All the bodywork has been revised, and we brought it up to meet the 2006 rules - since the car we ran in Barcelona was not 2006-legal.

"We did a good job today, and despite the weather I am pretty happy."

1141148191.jpg


1141148246.jpg


Still looks a tad chunky.
 
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Renault edge rivals at Valencia
World Champions Renault edged their rivals on the second day of this week's testing at the Valencia circuit, which hosts the final major session of the winter before the 2006 season kicks off.

Renault's test driver Heikki Kovalainen posted a best time of 1:10.438 to finish on top of the times as the French squad completed their preparations ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Kovalainen had a busy day, working first on long runs and then on short, faster ones, completing a total of 123 laps.

The Finn finished less than a tenth of a second in front of Honda's test driver Anthony Davidson, who joined the test today. The Briton had a very productive session, completing 146 laps as he worked on tyre testing, doing long runs during the day.

McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen was third in the McLaren MP4-21, the Finn carrying out pitstop practice during the day. Test driver Pedro de la Rosa switched from the MP4-21 to the hybrid car and covered 109 laps on his way to the fourth fastest time.

Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber were in action for the Williams team, on both racing drivers' final day of work ahead of the start of the season. Both men carried out the final tyre test ahead of the Bahrain race and also worked on the seamless gearbox.

Webber admitted he was eager to start racing to see how competitive Williams can be this year.

"It is getting better but we still have work to do," Webber told autosport.com. "I know I want to do more testing but I want to start the races to see where we are exactly. This is the last day for me, it is coming so soon, yet I want to see where we are."

There were three red flags during today's session, caused by Raikkonen, Kovalainen and Rosberg, all due to mechanical problems.

Red Bull and Toyota will join the test tomorrow.

Today's times:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Kovalainen Renault (M) 1:10.438 123
2. Davidson Honda (M) 1:10.532 146
3. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:10.827 73
4. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:10.834 109
5. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:11.268 69
6. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:11.561 85

All Timing Unofficial


Everyone's certainly getting quicker. The Williams looks not bad considering that the word on the street says Bridgestone still have work to do.
 
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Schumacher, Massa continue at Mugello

The Ferrari team continued on Tuesday with their final preparations before the start of the season in Bahrain.

At the Mugello circuit, both racing drivers Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa enjoyed a more productive day than yesterday, when fog and rain hampered their progress.

Schumacher, focusing on set-up work and aero testing, was the quickest of the two, completing 94 laps with a best time of 1:21.974 at the wheel of the 248 F1.

Brazilian Massa worked on reliability in the second 248 F1 and covered 71 laps, posting a best time of 1:22.481.

Both men will be testing again tomorrow.

Ferrari of course decide to go somewhere else so neither us nor them actually know if they're quick or not. At least they're testing the right car though.
 

Arc

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At least their Ferrari are getting plenty of laps done now and are working on reliability.

J1nxy said:
No doubt they will still complain that its too slow...maybe they should stick a DTM C Class in just to keep the F1 cars circulating at quick enough pace to keep heat in the tyres and brakes.

Yeah but that means a support crew for the DTM car and you have the increased risk of something going wrong. In this case a standard road car with a few extra bits and bobs will always be more reliable than a race car, it'll never be as quick but with a few selective mods it'll perform ok.

Its a fine balance, you want the pack of F1 cars to travel fast enough to retain some heat in the brakes/tyres but not fast enough to cause another accident (although you do end up with people like Montoya/Button doing their best to destroy that argument ;) ).
 
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