2005/2006 F1 News and Testing.

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Fisichella: Alonso exit no problem

Giancarlo Fisichella says Fernando Alonso's decision to leave Renault has not affected the atmosphere within the team.

World Champion Alonso announced at the end of last year his plans to drive for McLaren in 2007, when his current contract with Renault expires.

While some of Renault's rivals have voiced their belief that Alonso's decision will hurt the French squad in 2006, Fisichella claims there are no problems at all.

"Everyone must make their own choices and Alonso felt this was the best one," Gazzetta dello Sport quoted Fisichella as saying. "But there are no problems, and there's still a great atmosphere inside the team.

"We'll both be able to benefit from this, and that will pay off for the team."

Fisichella also talked up his own chances in this year's championship, saying the new R26 will suit his driving style better than last year's car.

"I'm satisfied with the car and I'm optimistic for the upcoming season," he said. "I'd like to fight for the top positions in the championship.

"Last year [the car] was probably closer to the style of Alonso, who is an aggressive driver at turn entry, while I've always been very tidy.

"Together with the designers we managed to improve the car, and on 12 March in Bahrain we can already do well since we've worked hard during the winter. On my part, I'll try to be more determined and tough."

The Italian driver, however, believes the battle for the title will be hard, with several teams racing at the top, including Ferrari, who Fisichella reckons will bounce back this year.

"[Ferrari] will certainly be among the favourites, as they are every year after all, even though the championship is becoming harder and harder due to the improvements of certain teams who are able to fight at the top," he added.
 
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BRDC board facing vote of no confidence

The battle over the redevelopment of Silverstone took a fresh twist on Friday when moves were announced to try and oust the BRDC board over their plans for the circuit's future.

A vote on whether the BRDC should appoint St Modwen and Northern Racing to revamp the circuit was delayed last month following dissent from club members and to allow them more time to get information about the intentions for Silverstone.

However, amid the backdrop of a growing number of members who are unhappy with the BRDC board's plans for Silverstone, there is now a push to call for an Emergency General Meeting to obtain a vote of no confidence in them.

In a statement issued by BRDC member Harry Stiller, who has made no secret of the fact that he is representing a large number of individuals who do not want the lease of Silverstone to be offered to St. Modwen for up to 150 years, solicitors have now been instructed to call for the EGM.

The statement said: "In light of press and media reports emanating from the President and Board of the BRDC based at Silverstone, a group of Life and Full members have today given instructions to the solicitors representing them, to call for an immediate Emergency General meeting with the primary objective of obtaining a vote of no confidence in the entire Board of the BRDC.

"Their raison d'etre is the clear indication by the Board to further pursue the Joint Venture with St Modwen and Northern Racing against the wishes of the membership which was made clear to them at the EGM held at Silverstone on Wed. 22 nd Feb. 2006.

"The membership has been given insufficient information and details of the proposed transaction as well as having given the President and Board an emphatic show of unity that they do not want any deal that means granting a 100 years plus lease to any individual or organization.

"It is the intention of the members, at all costs, to preserve Silverstone as the UK's home of British motor-sport, to uphold the aims and objectives of the Club's forefathers in maintaining the circuit as the only home of the British Grand Prix and... aiding and assisting young drivers. There are many other avenues to achieve this aim safely."

It is understood that the members proposing the vote of no confidence in the board do have an alternative solution for the track that would not involve the ownership of the track being given to another company or the loss of some of the track's famous corners to make way for housing.

The statement added: "The members are confident that they have a better alternative which will keep the circuit intact without housing estates being built or other major non-conducive development of the estate property.

"The Board has not listened to the members and seems to continue ignoring the prime objectives upon which the Club was founded. It is therefore time for radical change in the administration and policies of the BRDC."

BRDC president Jackie Stewart has warned that the circuit could lose the British Grand Prix if the redevelopment plans are not agreed, although there are suggestions that some board members are not too worried if the race is lost - because of the high fees that need to be paid to Bernie Ecclestone for the event.

Stewart told this week's Autosport: "We believe the British Grand Prix has to be retained in this country for the British motorsport industry... and for the development of young drivers and engineers.

"So this deal has the universal approval of the BRDC board. There are some people who say they do not care about the British Grand Prix. However, we do not think that is reflected in the majority of our membership."

This could get very serious...
 
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Steve Ryder heads new-look F1 on ITV

Steve Rider will make his first appearance on ITV screens since rejoining the network when he presents this Saturday’s Formula 1 Preview from 12.40 to 1.10pm on ITV1.

Steve will present ITV’s award-winning coverage of Formula 1, which begins on March 11-12 at Bahrain and continues with live coverage of every race.

Former McLaren driver Mark Blundell will join Steve Rider at every round as ITV’s analyst.

Martin Brundle, who drove for the likes of Benetton and McLaren during his time as an F1 driver, will resume his acclaimed grid walk in the build-up to the races, as well as co-commentating with James Allen.

Louise Goodman and Ted Kravitz will provide reports from around each circuit and there will be guest appearances from experts including David Coulthard, Johnny Herbert and Eddie Jordan.

There are also new graphics and a new title sequence featuring drivers including Britain’s Jenson Button and David Coulthard. This will be accompanied by a re-working of Moby’s track ‘Lift Me Up’.

Looking ahead to the start of the championship in Bahrain, the preview programme will look at the new rules and qualifying changes, which have replaced the single-lap qualifying system used in recent years with a three-part, hour-long knockout session.

Also to be shown within the F1 Preview and ahead of the first race: Steve Rider interviews 2005 world champion Fernando Alonso and British ace Jenson Button.

ITV has also announced that it is finalising a deal with North One for the exclusive production of its Formula 1 coverage.


F1 Preview 2006
Saturday 4 March 1240-1310 ITV1


Bahrain Grand Prix coverage
Saturday 11 March 1030-1215 ITV1 Qualifying LIVE *YAY!!!!*
Sunday 12 March 1030-1339 ITV1 Race LIVE *YAY!!!!*
Monday 13 March 0010-0110 ITV1 Highlights
Tuesday 14 March 0245-0345 ITV1 Highlights
 
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FIA Orders Safety Revisions for Malaysian Grand Prix

The FIA's Charlie Whiting has ordered safety revisions to the Malaysian grand prix venue.

The permanent Race Director and Safety Delegate inspected Sepang this week, and asked organisers to replace overgrown grass at the track's verge with interlocking bricks, according to the local 'Star' newspaper.

''(Otherwise) Charlie said there were no problems with the track,'' said general manager Datuk Ahmad Mustafa.

Reportedly, Whiting was concerned that the grass bulges could have posed a danger to drivers.

Malaysia will stage the second round of the 2006 championship, a week after next Sunday's Bahrain opener.
 
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Williams to run seamless shift in Bahrain

Williams have given the green light to running their seamless shift gearbox from the start of the season, autosport.com has learned.

The team originally designed their new Cosworth-powered FW28 with the system, which allows gear changes to take place with minimal power loss, but were unsure about whether it would be reliable enough to start the season with.

Technical director Sam Michael made it clear at the launch of the team's new car in January that the team would only race the seamless shift gearbox if it was sure it would last a full Grand Prix distance.

Following extensive testing, the team have been convinced about the gearbox's durability and sources have revealed that they have opted to use the system fromthe season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

"We are comfortable with its progression," said a Williams insider.

As a back-up, the team had the option of reverting to a standard gearbox if the seamless system was not reliable enough.

Team co-founder Patrick Head said at the car launch: "It is new technology for us and we are debugging it.

"We have got a backstop which is the same gearbox but in a slightly different configuration, but because the seamless is faster that is what we are planning to be racing."
 
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F1 teams close to testing agreement

Formula One teams are on the verge of reaching a compromise testing agreement for 2006, autosport.com has learned, with Ferrari finally agreeing to fall in line with their rival teams.

Ferrari stood alone last season in refusing to sign-up to the 30-day in-season limit that was agreed between the other nine teams. The Maranello outfit believed that it was more cost efficient to restrict testing through a mileage limit rather than a day limit.

Although Ferrari's insistence on the matter appeared to have scuppered any chance of a deal being struck for this year, with some team's arguing they would not agree to a limit for 2006 unless every team signed up, moves have since taken place to find a compromise solution.

Autosport.com understands that a provisional deal has now been struck between teams and that a document is being circulated in a bid to get every outfit's signature of approval before a deadline of next Monday. The deal will only stand if all of F1's 11 teams approve the limitation.

It is understood that Ferrari, Renault, Honda and Williams have all so far put their signature to the deal, with other teams expected to do so imminently.

Toyota's Richard Cregan dismissed suggestions that his team were set to block the deal.

"That is not correct," he told autosport.com. "We are fully supportive of a testing agreement, as we were last year. We are really pushing for a deal to be struck and we support the concessions that have been made."

Although the exact details of the testing agreement have not been confirmed, it is understood to revolve around the basic premise of a 36-day in-season limit, that will run from next week's Bahrain Grand Prix until the season-closing Brazilian Grand Prix, and includes a summer testing ban.

The compromise solution that has won over Ferrari's support is believed to relate to exactly how the 36-days are counted as well as a way for teams to run at two tracks occasionally.

It is believed that teams can nominate circuits in their home country that will be exempt from the agreement under certain circumstances, as well as the possibility that aerodynamic straight-line testing will not count either.

These clauses in the deal mean, for example, that Ferrari will continue to be allowed to use their Fiorano and Mugello facilities without compromising their chance to test at other circuits.

There were fears that if a testing deal was not struck this year then testing costs would escalate dramatically, as a time when teams are trying to bring down the amount they spend.

Teams would also likely have tested at Grand Prix tracks shortly before the race in a bid to improve their knowledge. Honda Racing, Ferrari and Scuderia Toro Rosso have already tested at Bahrain recently because a previous agreement outlawing testing outside of Europe no longer stood.

Williams technical director Sam Michael said earlier this year that teams would change where they tested if there was no agreement.

"If there is no testing agreement then we will try and test on Grand Prix tracks," he said. "So you will test at Imola, Nurburgring and Magny-Cours for example, the tracks we cannot test on now, just weeks before the race."

So....you can test freely at a local circuit - but can only do 36 days at other circuits...

Hows that restricting?
 
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Speed says V10 a disadvantage

Scott Speed has hit back at those teams who have criticised Scuderia Toro Rosso for running V10 engines this year - by insisting they are going to have no advantage.

Some rival outfits are upset that Toro Rosso's decision to run the restricted V10 power-units could hand them the edge over some of the V8-powered teams.

But Speed has rubbished those claims, and instead believes that Toro Rosso are going to face a handicap this year because of their engine choice.

"Certainly, it's a big disadvantage for us because the V8 is the future of Formula One," he told reporters. "In the meantime, we're missing out of a year of development. It's at this point, not a performance advantage for us.

"Perhaps at the beginning of the year we could have a slight reliability advantage. But really by the end of the year, and certainly even now, the V8s are adapting and they're evolving, and they're already breaking track records in testing that they had from the V10 era.

"So we're really crossing our fingers that they don't develop the V8s to where we're completely uncompetitive. But as it stands now, I think it's a pretty equal playing ground."

The FIA have introduced an air intake restriction and rev-limit in a bid to ensure that the V10s perform at the same level as V8s this year, although these parameters will be changed if the equivalency aim does not work.
 
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Whats I think has got the nose up of some of the teams is the eqvivalance rule doesn't stipulate equivilance against what. The only v8 Cosworth has a full set of info on is thier own V8 which happens to be the most powerful engine (reputadly) currently on the grid. So what do they make it equivalent to...their own v8.
 
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Rain thwarts Ferrari once more at Mugello

The Ferrari team continued to be thwarted by poor weather at the Mugello circuit, where a constant rain meant the Italian squad were unable to carry out their planned programme.

Michael Schumacher took to the track in the 248 F1, but only managed 36 laps with a best time of 1:30.389 as conditions were very poor at the Italian circuit.

Meanwhile at Fiorano, test driver Luca Badoer carried out the shakedown of two of the three cars the team will use in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The third car will be shaken down on Monday by Badoer.
 
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The circus is unpacking in Bahrain

Manama, 3rd February 2006; The magnificent facility of the Bahrain International Circuit is becoming increasingly busy as the Formula One circus continues to arrive and heavy duty flight containers disgorge the machinery and equipment that will set the world's pulse racing for the 2006 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. In less than one week the event will be underway, and the preparations are now a round-the-clock operation to ensure that the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship gets underway in fine style.

The Formula One paddock itself is a hive of activity, with the team hospitality areas being branded and kitted out and the Paddock Club suites above the pit lane being fettled in sumptuous style. The elegance of the VIP areas is in sharp contrast to the armada of freight containers bringing in the team hardware ready for the race.

Each of the 11 teams travelling to the Kingdom of Bahrain for the Grand Prix brings 50-80 shipping cases, up to 40 tons of equipment. Of that over 30 tons is made up by the mechanical needs of cars themselves - three chassis, the engines, spare parts, tools, wheels and pit equipment. The remainder is made up of pit garage branding and extraneous equipment - even the utensils for the team chefs! Then finally comes the telemetry and computer equipment.

Formula One has an information superhighway all of its own: there will be approximately 180 large computers and 300 laptops in use between the 11 teams, supplied by over 3.5km of power cable and sending information through 5.5km of data cable. The team members themselves - approximately 1,200 - will be equipped with 1,100 walkie-talkie radios and headsets.

For a hot country such as Bahrain, the teams also need to keep their staff members cool and hydrated. Almost 37,000 litres of mineral water and soft drinks will therefore be consumed up and down the pit lane.

Approximately 15,000 litres of fuel will be delivered to the Bahrain International Circuit by the various fuel suppliers in order to meet their teams' needs. A Formula One car running for the full course of the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix weekend will consume in the region of 500 litres from the first laps of practice to receiving the chequered flag. Nonetheless a Formula One engine is over 20 per cent more efficient at turning fuel into power than even the most economical small car.

A further 17,500 litres of fuel will be available for the Support Races: the Porsche Michelin SuperCup and Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix Pro Celebrity Race.

The Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix will mark the debut of all eleven of the 2006 season challengers. From the moment that design began on these cars to their arrival in Bahrain, almost four million man-hours will have been spent by the teams and engine builders to deliver their new 2.4-litre V8 charges. Such mind-bending dedication to extracting the last shred of performance, the seismic change in moving from 3.0-litre V10 engines to 2.4-litre V8s, the evolution of the designs through the season, the scale of technology required to develop the cars and the salaries of the team staff place the total cost of each lap at each Grand Prix event at well over $3,000 per car.
 
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Mateschitz: Toro Rosso may have early edge

Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz has admitted that his Scuderia Toro Rosso team may be more likely to score points at the beginning of the year than Red Bull Racing.

On the back of the cooling issues and reliability problems that have marred the RB2's build-up to the season, Mateschitz is under no illusions that the beginning of the campaign could be a struggle for his main outfit.

And with Toro Rosso's restricted V10-engine expected to be bulletproof in terms of reliability, Mateschitz thinks it is possible that Red Bull's junior team will be their main points-scorers early on.

"There will be, at the beginning, a small advantage (for the V10) because they will have no problems with the durability," he said in an interview with Salzburger Nachrichten.

"But as time goes by the V8s will become stronger and more stable and then they will have the advantage. However, the chance to come into the points is larger perhaps at the beginning (of the year) for Toro Rosso than for Red Bull Racing."

Although Mateschitz has admitted that Red Bull Racing are behind schedule with their preparations for the year, he is not unduly concerned about the situation.

"With the overheating problems from the beginning of testing with the RB2 we lost time and the testing programme was put a little bit back," he added. "But the best lap of Christian (Klien, at Barcelona last week) was very good.

"We know it is safe to say that the new is good and that Mark Smith delivered some tidy work as chief designer. The influence of Adrian Newey coming now will begin to show.

"The engine is of course a concern in terms of reliability and we have not yet driven a full race distance. But at the beginning, all will have this problem more or less."
 
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