2005/2006 F1 News and Testing.

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Bernie offers teams seats on FOA board

Despite his, and FIA President Max Mosley's claims, that the Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association's threat of a breakaway series should not be taken too seriously, it would appear, that Bernie Ecclestone does indeed fear the threat posed by the manufacturers and rebel teams.

Why else therefore would the F1 supremo be offering the manufacturers a seat on the board?

According to a report in the Sunday Express, Ecclestone has told the manufacturers that he is willing to offer two non-executive directorships on the board of Formula One Administration (FOA).

This would mean, according to the article; that the manufacturers would be able to "bring independent views to FOA, mastermind race calendars and ensure free-to-air TV coverage is provided".

With six teams having signed up to Ecclestone's new Concorde Agreement, which comes into effect for the 2008 World Championship, it remains to be seen how they will react to the news that the 'rebels' have been made this offer, since they, including Ferrari have not been offered a similar deal.

Interestingly, Ecclestone's offer comes at a time when Mosley is applying the pressure, having warned that unless the manufacturers and rebel team(s) commit to the 2008 Championship by the end of March they will face exclusion.

The GPMA has been keeping a low profile recently, though it known that it has been awaiting the investigation by the EU into the purchase of F1 by CVC.

That said, other than money, one of the main concerns of the manufacturers is the governance of the sport, which takes them into direct conflict with Mosley and the FIA.

The power to dictate race calendars and free-to-air TV coverage is one thing, the rules of the sport quite another.
 
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A1 GP event at Laguna Seca back on

Organisers of the A1 Grand Prix series have confirmed the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, California, USA, scheduled to run at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on 10-12 March 2006 will now go ahead as planned.

An initial inspection of the track by A1 Grand Prix officials raised concerns over the volume of rain that has fallen over recent weeks, hindering the on-going preparation of the facility for the penultimate round of the World Cup of Motorsport.

Following substantial discussions with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, A1 Grand Prix have been assured that Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca officials will do everything within their control to prepare the track for the A1 Grand Prix of Nations.

"Despite challenges brought on by the prevailing weather conditions, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is confident that the track will be presented to the necessary standard required to host an A1 Grand Prix event," stated A1 GP chief operating officer, David Clare. "We will now continue to work with the circuit to ensure the US race meets the impeccable standards dictated by A1GP."

WOOHOO!!!
 
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Bahrain Grand Prix Pro Celebrity Race

What do you get when you take one of the world’s most technologically advanced race tracks and you add the raw power of 16 Chevrolet V8 SS Luminas, the global appeal of 16 international and regional celebrities and the talents of 16 professional drivers from around the world? The answer - The Bahrain Gulf Air Grand Prix Pro Celebrity Race.

Famous faces from the worlds of sport, entertainment and media are set to make their racing debuts in front of a record crowd at the Bahrain International Circuit at the Grand Prix, March 10th-12th.

An anticipated televised audience of 400 million global viewers will tune in to watch the likes of five time Olympic Gold medallist, rowing icon Sir Steve Redgrave, three time Grammy award winning US musician John Legend and world famous rhythmic guitarist Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt fight it out on the track.

Commenting on his impending race debut, Sir Steve Redgrave said: “I’m really excited. The race represents a new sporting challenge for me and I’m keen to see I can perform as well on the track as I do off it. Of course it will be fun but I have a very competitive nature and I don’t enjoy losing so I will be giving it my all out in Bahrain!”

Sir Steve isn’t the only Olympic gold medallist competing in the race, as British hero Redgrave will be joined by legendary American sprinter Michael Johnson. Four time gold medallist Johnson, famed for his gold running shoes, is widely perceived as one of the greatest sprinters of all time having won nine world championship titles.

It won’t just be testosterone that will rule on the race track, the fairer sex will be well represented with a strong line up including British motoring journalist Emma Parker Bowles, stepdaughter of the future King of England, and Egyptian singing and acting sensation Anoushka. Persian-born Laleh Seddigh, motor sport’s answer to Angelina Jolie, will be adding to the line-up of pro drivers supporting the celebrities.

There will be two races: one on the Saturday and one on Sunday before the start of the opening round of the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship. Each ten-lap race will consist of 16 cars with the professional drivers starting and completing the first five laps of the track before a pit stop swap with their celebrity partners for the remainder of the race.

Joining the all-star line up at the Bahrain International Circuit is Pink Floyd drummer and founding member Nick Mason. Mason, an avid classic car fanatic, perhaps has the upper hand on some of his fellow celebrities being no stranger to racing having competed previously at Le Mans.

The International celebrities will be joined by regional celebrity drivers from Bahrain and the Middle East. Lebanese favourite Ragheb Alama, a man firmly established as one of the Middle East’s top singers and personalities will also take to the wheel in front of a legion of fans at the Grand Prix.

Alama will have regional competition from local sporting hero Rashid Ramzi. Ramzi became the first man to complete the 800m/1,500m double at the world athletics championships in Helsinki last year when he stormed down the finishing straight to hold off the late rush from the Olympic champion, Yuri Borzakovski, in a flying finish in the 800m final.

The race will be the first of its kind in Bahrain and compliments the curtain-raiser to the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship. Commenting on the event Martin Whitaker, General Manager of the BIC, said: “I’m so delighted at the reaction and willingness of the stars to take part in the Pro-Celebrity race. It’s great to have so many high-calibre personalities taking time out of their schedules to participate in this event. I am in no doubt that the two races will prove to be very entertaining for the crowds and the viewers at home.”

The 16 identical Chevrolet V8 SS Luminas have 380bhp and a top speed of 280km/h, creating a sound and spectacle perfectly in keeping with the Grand Prix weekend. The cars aren’t the easiest to drive and as such the calibre of the professional racers is first class, with the line up including ex-Formula One stars Martin Brundle, Johnny Herbert and Christian Danner. TV presenter and former Le Mans racer Tiff Needell will also be lending his considerable expertise to the event. India’s first Formula One driver, Narain Karthikeyan will be taking time out from his Williams F1 testing commitments to compete in the event and guide his celebrity partner around the track.

Now that sounds like a laugh... :D
 
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McLaren tester helped pen new Spanish track

Pedro de la Rosa was engaged as a special 'advisor' on the layout of a new Spanish test circuit for Formula One.

The McLaren test driver, 35 and from Barcelona, advised renowned F1 track designer Hermann Tilke about the venue that is presently under construction in 'La Palma del Condado' - in the south of the country.

'Our draft has a two kilometre-long straight,' de la Rosa told the 'Marca' newspaper, 'but we also have slow curves like Monaco, fast curves like Shanghai, and high kerbs like Imola.'

The circuit should be ready for winter testing ahead of season '07.

Built on a 350-hectare site for about $120 million, the test circuit could - like Spain's Barcelona, Valencia and Jerez - become another popular destination for F1 teams.
 
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Red Bull owner points finger at Ferrari

Red Bull's junior team - Scuderia Toro Rosso - could upstage its mammoth-budget sister in Bahrain this weekend.

That is Dietrich Mateschitz's warning, as the duel team-owner contemplates Red Bull Racing's problems heading into its second year.

With RBR's overheating and unreliable Ferrari V8, the Austrian billionaire said Toro Rosso's tried and tested - and controversial - Cosworth V10 is sure to be an initial 'advantage'.

'Toro Rosso will not have engine reliability problems,' Mateschitz predicted in an interview with the 'Salzburger Nachrichten' newspaper.

He said: 'However, with some time, the V8 will become strong and more reliable, and we will reclaim the advantage.

'But at the very start, Toro Rosso perhaps have a better chance to score points than does Red Bull,' said Dietrich Mateschitz.

He described the new Red Bull as a 'tidy car' designed by Mark Smith.

But when musing the customer Ferrari V8, Mateschitz pointed to reliability concerns, and warned that the unit's full potential will perhaps not yet be seen.

And he added: 'I think a lot of teams may be having engine problems early on. Perhaps the new Cosworth will be best!'

Ferrari have had more failures that Mercedes - what does that say about the engine really?
 
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Can't say I'm surprised, traditionally you've had more chance of bathing a cat than getting Maranello to put a V8 in a car :) They do, however, have the benefit of far more running with Ferrari's 24/7 test schedule and Red Bull's Friday sessions.

The smart money I think will be on Williams this weekend, certainly for a strong finish and maybe a surprise if the tyres are up to it.
 
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In theory they should be able to...

The V10 should always be near the back of the grid - but I suspect that if anything it'll reduce the power of the V10's rather than increase it.

I'm expecting that there's going to be a few surprises from the Toro Rosso cars this weekend.

Simon/~Flibster
 
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My uncle has been quietly optimistic about their chances, at least of scoring some point. The v10 is bullet proof (or at least appears to be) and making it equivalent to the v8 from Cosworth is never going to hurt its performace...I keep meaning to asking him about development and the equivalance but hes been out testing for the last few weeks.
 
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My F1 team of choice from the testing results:

Chassis: McLaren
Engine: Cosworth V8
Tyres: Michelin
Driver 1: Raikkonen
Driver 2: Alonso
3rd Driver: Davidson

Simon/~Flibster
 
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J1nxy said:
My uncle has been quietly optimistic about their chances, at least of scoring some point. The v10 is bullet proof (or at least appears to be) and making it equivalent to the v8 from Cosworth is never going to hurt its performace...I keep meaning to asking him about development and the equivalance but hes been out testing for the last few weeks.

The Cosworth V10 which STR are running is a revision of last years V10 - which was completely reliable. IIRC they only had 1 failure all year - including testing.

They really should be able to get points this year..

Simon/~Flibster
 
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Schumi Wants to Drive a Few Races Before Making Quit Decision

Seven time world champion Michael Schumacher says he will decide soon whether or not to quit formula one.

The German, after again testing at a rainy Mugello track last Friday, told 'Bild' newspaper that he still has not determined if 2006 is to be his last year with Ferrari and the pinnacle of motor sport.

''Let me drive a few races (in 2006),'' Schumacher, 37, told the newspaper, ''and then we'll see how it looks.''

He insisted that - to impact positively on his decision - Ferrari must be a 'frontrunner', unlike last season when his red car slumped in the field.

Schumacher added: ''I can be world champion again.''

Ferrari's technical director, Ross Brawn, added that the pace of the team's Japanese made Bridgestone tyres - defeated at 95 per cent of grands prix last year - will be crucial.

''The '248 F1' (car) is good,'' said the Englishman, ''but whether we can win or not depends on the tyres.''
 
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Finally!!!!

FIA appoint permanent chief steward
Motor racing's governing body has confirmed that it has appointed a permanent chief steward for Formula One this year in a bid to bring more consistency to its decision-making process.

The sport previously operated with a rotation-system of four stewards, with a different chief steward at specific races, which sometimes left the process open to criticism that it was not consistent in its ruling throughout the whole season.

In a bid to alleviate these concerns, the FIA has appointed Briton Tony Scott Andrews to the new permanent role.

Scott-Andrews said: "Under the previous system all four permanent stewards spoke with each other on a regular basis and were aware of each other's decisions. Having the same steward at each race there is an even greater chance of consistency and of course that steward would have a greater awareness of the global scene in which he operates."

Lawyer Scott-Andrews has been one of the four permanent stewards in Formula One for the past three years, as well as a national steward for the British Grand Prix and joint chairman of stewards for the British Touring Car Championship.

His appointment comes after Australia's John Large turned the job down because of health reasons - but not before recommending that Scott-Andrews get the job.

"I believe Tony Scott-Andrews should have been offered it in the first place," explained Large. "He is a first rate steward.

"He's got a mind like a rat-trap when it comes to knowing the rules. He is polite, courteous and unassuming, all-important attributes when dealing with the big personalities in Formula One. And he is a lawyer by profession. He brings the best of everything."

The FIA has also appointed Nazir Hoosein to the role of permanent chief steward for the World Rally Championship.

"Both championships need a single permanent steward. It will help to sustain consistency in the decision making process," said Hoosein.

It's been obvious for years that there was no consistency in the way the stewards operated so why it's taken this long to get some action is beyond me.
 
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Michelin critical of tyre changes return

Michelin's Formula One director Nick Shorrock has lamented the return of tyre changes to the sport ahead of the first race of the 2006 season.

After a year of making tyres last for qualifying and the race, Formula One will again have drivers making regular pitstops for fresh rubber.

That could boost the fortunes of Bridgestone and Ferrari, eclipsed by Michelin last year but dominant in 2004 when races were sprints between tyre changes.

Shorrock said that, although the rules have been revised in the hope of reducing costs, tyre changes mean Michelin will need to carry 38 per cent more stock than in 2005, thus increasing the costs significantly.

"Although the rules were changed in a bid to reduce costs, it is disappointing to note that a tyre manufacturer such as Michelin will have to carry 38 per cent more stock to Grands Prix this season than it did in 2005," said Shorrock.

"Michelin is working with six F1 partners this year, rather than seven, yet finds itself having to supply more than 300 extra tyres per race weekend.

"This weekend marks the dawn of a new F1 era. It's a step into the unknown for everybody, but Michelin has prepared with its traditional attention to detail. We expect fierce competition but, as history shows, we thrive on such challenges."

Michelin, the world's biggest tyre group, will leave Formula One at the end of the season after Formula One's ruling body, the FIA, announced plans for a single supplier from 2008.
 
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rpstewart said:
Finally!!!!

It's been obvious for years that there was no consistency in the way the stewards operated so why it's taken this long to get some action is beyond me.

Yup. All we need is someone competent in charge now. ;)
 
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Shorrock said that, although the rules have been revised in the hope of reducing costs, tyre changes mean Michelin will need to carry 38 per cent more stock than in 2005, thus increasing the costs significantly.
Now why doesnt that surprise me :p
 
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Renault upbeat about revised aero

Renault are hoping that a new aerodynamic upgrade planned for their R26 at this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix will help them start off their title defence in perfect style.

The team's 2006-challenger has been marked out as one of the pre-season favourites after some impressive performances in winter testing, and the team confirmed on Monday that new developments, tried out for the first time at the recent Barcelona test, should make it even quicker come this weekend.

"We are constantly honing all areas of the aerodynamics," said Renault's technical director Bob Bell. "This (new) package includes a new floor, modifications to the front wing and nose, modified suspension components and the addition of two small chassis winglets. Altogether, that represents several tenths in laptime."

Bell said that Renault were planning to push the development programme for their R26 much harder than they did last season - which will likely result in new parts coming on board for each race.

"We intend to push even harder than we did for the R25, and we are gearing up for that. In concrete terms, that means developments at every race. Furthermore, we will be working with more capacity than last year.

"Our wind tunnel is now operating 24 hours a day, and we have made other changes to streamline our working methods. All of that means we will be able to add performance to the car even faster this year."

Despite his optimism about the work on the R26, Bell has drawn short of admitting that Renault are the favourites for Bahrain.

"Looking at the winter testing times, and especially the long runs, then it's obvious that Renault, Honda and McLaren are right up there at the front," he said.

"I am sure come Bahrain, Ferrari will be much more competitive than last year. It is hard to judge exactly how much at the moment, but you can never write them off. I think Toyota will also move further along, and show themselves to be more competitive."
 
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