2006 Australian Grand Prix - Race 3/18

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Australia 'assured' opening slot for 2007

The Australian Grand Prix will return to the season opening slot on the Formula One calendar next year, despite hints from Bernie Ecclestone that he may prefer Bahrain to stay there.

That is the view of Melbourne race boss Ron Walker, who is adamant that Australia's move down the calendar to accommodate the city's hosting of the Commonwealth Games this year is a one-off.

"Mr. Ecclestone and I had an agreement to move the race for the first time in more than a decade to number three, and I am assured it will go back to number one next year," he told autosport.com.

Ecclestone fuelled speculation that Australia may not get its opening slot back on Wednesday when he suggested that the European television figures for the Bahrain Grand Prix were much better than the sport ever got from the Australian Grand Prix.

He said: "We got very, very good television ratings (for the Bahrain GP), whereas from Australia, we get lousy (early morning) television ratings in Europe."

Walker believes, however, that Ecclestone may have been trying to be deliberately mischievous in his comments in a bid to improve his bargaining position when it comes to negotiating who gets the opening place on the schedule.

"Well, I saw that (the quotes), and Mr. Ecclestone loves to stir me up. From 20,000km away he gets his feather out and stirs me up. Eventually it is up to the FIA I suppose, but Bernie is my closest friend in life and I have such fun being with him because he inspires me."
 
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CVC owns 100% of F1 following Lehman Brothers' purchase

Christian Sylt reports that less than forty-eight hours after completing the purchase of the Formula One Group, Alpha Prema UK Limited has acquired Lehman Brothers' interests in the company, which therefore gives the CVC majority-owned company 100 percent ownership of F1.

Alpha Prema is a newly incorporated company through which funds managed or advised by CVC Capital Partners Group are making their investment in Formula One.

A further company, established in November 2005 and based in Jersey, called Alpha Topco, is the holding company for the Formula One Group.

Having purchased 75 percent of the Formula One Group in November, two weeks later CVC purchased JP Morgan's 14.175 percent of the company.

Today's purchase of Lehman Brothers' stake - also 14.175 percent - gives CVC 100 percent ownership of the Formula One group.

As part of the transaction, Lehman Brothers has an option to reinvest in Alpha Topco.
 
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rpstewart said:
I think so - it means qualifying is on "far too early" and the race is on "very early but I might make it"

Richard T said:
both are too early!!!! :p


Wusses... :p

Personally staying up to watch and record both the A1GP finale and the Aussie GP.

Ice cream is already in the freezer, Mr Kipling apple pies are ready to be microwaved, ingredients for fresh bread have been bought, bacon and eggs are on standby. ;)

I can't have a Aussie GP party dammit - but I'm going to be eating the same crap though. :D

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Flibster said:
Wusses... :p

Yeah, and????

Ralf escapes engine penalty
Ralf Schumacher has escaped a 10-place grid penalty for needing an engine change after his Toyota team were able to fix a problem with his power-unit under supervision of the FIA.

The work on the oil pump driveshaft required two seals on his Toyota V8-engine to be broken, but the FIA were happy with the procedure and Schumacher will be able to continue using the same power-unit that he raced with in Malaysia.

The FIA have also confirmed that 15 drivers will start the Australian Grand Prix with a new engine.

They are Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jarno Trulli, Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button, Christian Klien, Nick Heidfeld, Tiago Monteiro, Christijan Albers, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Scott Speed, Takuma Sato and Yuji Ide.

There have been rumours that Ferrari may consider changing the power-units on their cars again this weekend, but the team have insisted that the plan is for them to continue with the same engines.

Maranello still having problems with engines? That won't be going down well.
 
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rpstewart said:
Maranello still having problems with engines? That won't be going down well.

It's the same flawed engine they had last race - they finished and as such were not allowed to change it. :D

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Villeneuve not ready to leave F1

Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve says he is not ready to quit Formula One as he celebrates a decade in the sport.

Villeneuve, now driving for the BMW Sauber team, made his Grand Prix debut in the 1996 Australian Grand Prix with Williams. Back then, he grabbed pole position and finished in second place behind teammate Damon Hill.

Villeneuve went on to win the title with Williams in 1997.

After moving to the BAR team in 1999, the Canadian struggled to shine, his last podium finish coming in the 2001 German Grand Prix.

"I have some very good memories, mostly in the first couple of years definitely, not so many afterwards," said Villeneuve ahead of the Melbourne race.

"But there are still here or there, even in the difficult moments, there are always the odd race or two where things go right and you actually get a good weekend, so racing wise you get good memories at least one a year normally, but good memories are mostly outside of the car I would say.

"I wasn't thinking about it being 10 years actually," added Villeneuve. "I always like coming here because it has been a track that I always went well at, especially in qualifying and since we have started the season more competitive than we did last season, coming here is exciting."

The 34-year-old Canadian was finally confirmed at the new BMW team for 2006 after months of speculation regarding his future following a shaky 2005 season with Sauber.

Villeneuve's contract ends at the end of the year, but the former champion says he is not done with Formula One yet.

"I certainly hope so," said the Canadian when asked if he expected to remain in F1 next season. "I am not ready to stop but it doesn't just depend on me, it depends on a bunch of other factors."

The BMW driver, winner of 11 Grands Prix, reckons he is still capable of winning if he is given the right equipment.

"Definitely. I can still race hard from the first lap to the last lap, and that is all that matters."
 
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Technical Working Group to consider new flexi-wing tests

Formula One technical directors will be asked to consider a revamp of the flexi-wing rules in Formula One before the San Marino Grand Prix.

The subject of flexi-wings has been a hot topic in recent weeks following the controversy surrounding Ferrari's front and rear wings at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Rival teams were ready to protest Michael Schumacher's car before the FIA stepped in to resolve the situation.

The Maranello team duly joined McLaren and BMW in modifying their wings for this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, bringing a temporary resolution to the situation that has run since the season-opener in Bahrain.

But although sources close to the FIA have confirmed that it is now happy no teams are running with illegal flexi-wings, further changes to the regulations will be pushed for at the next meeting of F1 think-tank, the Technical Working Group (TWG).

In particular, the technical directors will be asked to consider a revision of the way wings are tested to ensure that no teams can design wings that illegally flex at speed.

Rather than test the wings with the current specific forces applied to the wings at specific points, it is understood that the FIA wants to push for a more general rule of physical inspection - such as forcing teams to fit external supports to wing-elements to guarantee they cannot flex.

Honda Racing technical director Geoff Willis believes that the fixing of such supports would certainly prevent teams from running flexible rear wing elements.

"If you were looking at the upper rear-wing then most of the gains that people have played over the years were either to open the flap gap or close it," he said.

"If you have a design that is quite clear to see, that it can't change, that is has a central snubber and the tips are connected to each other, then it is going to be easy to say it is okay."

Toyota technical director Mike Gascoyne reckons that there was no need for new tests to be introduced, however, because the FIA is already allowed to do anything it wants to check teams are complying with the regulations.

He suggested that FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting could have taken a harder line against teams, especially because the matter was discussed as the most recent TWG meeting.

"In this case, Charlie (Whiting) has obviously used his discretion, and in the past I think there have always been areas where he has said, 'okay, that it not what we want to see so fix it,'" he explained.

"From my point of view, in this case I think that approach is a little relaxed because it is not as though it is something we have not talked about in the TWG.

"If you find someone doing it, when you just discussed it in the last meeting, then I would have hoped he would have taken a firmer stance on it. But this is definitely something that needs clearing up - he definitely has all the powers that he needs to do something about it."
 
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Barrichello enjoys change of pace

While Rubens Barrichello no longer attracts the same fanatical following he did in his days with Ferrari, the Brazillian says he is loving the relative anonymity of driving with Honda.

The 33-year-old spent six years with Formula One's most glamorous team, albeit mostly in the slipstream of seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher, but says he could not be happier with his lower-profile Japanese team.

"It's an environment with less pressure, that's for sure," he told a news conference on Thursday.

"There was so much pressure from the Italian press, in here it's much cooler. I'm more down to earth, I don't like to be in the limelight."

Barrichello has made a slow start in his new career at Honda, limping home in 15th position in the season-opener in Bahrain then 10th in Malaysia while his British teammate Jenson Button placed fourth and third.

But Barrichello is hoping his luck will turn at this weekend's third round at Melbourne's picturesque Albert Park.

He has fond memories of Australia, finishing runner-up in 2000, 2004 and again last year, and has always enjoyed the relaxed lifestyle.

He returned to Australia at the end of last year's Formula One race to watch his friend, fellow Brazilian Max Wilson, compete in the Bathurst 1000, an endurance race for V8 Holdens and Fords.

Barrichello was so taken by the experience in the rugged rural Australian town that is as far removed from the glamour of Formula One as can be imagined, that he is considering entering the race himself once he retires from Formula One.

"I would have to have plenty of testing before because even people who have done well in touring cars (overseas) did not do so well in the V8s," he said.

"I'll have to talk to my team to see if they would let me drive a Ford or a Holden. I'm that sort of a guy, I'm open and I get used to people very, very rapidly."
 
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McLaren duo swerve musical chairs debate

McLaren teammates Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya dodged questions about where they would be driving next season, saying they were focused only on this weekend's Australian Grand Prix.

McLaren's decision to sign world champion Fernando Alonso away from Renault next season has intensified speculation about where the two drivers will be next year.

Raikkonen has been linked with a possible move to Ferrari but the flying Finn was giving nothing away at a news conference in Melbourne on Thursday.

"I don't know, a lot of things can happen in the next few years," a tight-lipped Raikkonen said.

Montoya, whose next drive will depend largely on whether Raikkonen stays or goes, was also playing his cards close to his chest.

"I'm just concentrating on this year," he said.

"When I was in America and I was moving to Formula One I signed the deal eight months before but I was still pushing as hard as I could for the team and it's the same here.

"I think we have a good chance of winning the championship this year and I need to try to score points every race and have a chance of winning."

Raikkonen, runner-up to Alonso in the drivers' championship last season, said he was trying to ignore the constant speculation.

"It doesn't make any difference to me at all," he said. "I don't care who my teammate is. The team makes the decision and all I do is drive the car."

Montoya won three races last year to finish fourth in the championship but was plagued by mechanical problems.

But the Colombian is confident the car will be more reliable this season after finishing the first two races and being fitted with a new engine for Albert Park.

"I think we're going to be really quick, the car really has the potential and I feel a lot more comfortable last year and let's hope it carries on to the end of the year," he said.

"I think we have a big handicap because we had trouble with the engine but now it's running well so it's looking good."
 
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Ecclestone's new plan

Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One supremo, has a new plan to make Formula 1 more interesting for the fans. Ecclestone wants to rotate the tracks F1 will visit and tracks would only host a race once every three years.

Ecclestone said that many races lack a big-event hype because they are held so regularly.

Ecclestone said "You know, maybe it's because we are at the same track every year and it's the norm. Maybe we'd be better off to have a lot more countries to visit and have the race every three years or something like that, so every three years they can make a big hype out of it."
 
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Schumacher not worried about engine.

Michael Schumacher says he has no particular worries about engine reliability in Melbourne, despite the spate of piston related problems in the first two races.

In fact the engine take out of Michael's car prior to qualifying at Sepang subsequently turned out to be healthy. It was returned to Italy, fitted to a test car, and given a race mileage by Luca Badoer at Fiorano, albeit in far lower temperatures than those experienced in Malaysia. Michael started 14th in Malaysia after the precautionary change earned him a 10-place penalty.

"We had a concern in Malaysia, and that's why we changed engines," he said. "Looking back, it wasn't really necessary. Obviously there is no concern any more."
 
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Tough V8 limits for Williams duo

Mark Webber's countrymen will have to wait until Sunday to see the Australian in full flight at Albert Park.

A media report suggests that the 29-year-old's Williams team is one of the most restricted, in terms of V8 engine mileage, of the entire field.

It's also a blow for Webber's rookie team-mate Nico Rosberg, who is doing well to learn brand new F1 layouts with only a few laps of practice before he must perform in qualifying and the race.

Germany's specialist Auto Motor Und Sport magazine published data this week revealing that each Cosworth V8 is restricted by the Northampton-based engine maker to just 1100kms per Grand Prix event.

In contrast, BMW runners can collect 1200, Mercedes 1300 and Ferrari a full 1400 kms.

Rookie Rosberg, 20, commented: “I wouldn't mind a few less horse power and a few more laps.”

Auto Motor Und Sport said Cosworth's limit means just 90 kilometres each of practice in Melbourne for the two race drivers.

Technical director Sam Michael admitted: “Without Alex, our tactics wouldn't work.”
 
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Thursday's press conference - Australia

Participating: Rubens Barrichello (Honda), Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren), Mark Webber (Williams).

Q. Rubens, you were so quick in testing pre-season yet it hasn't really been reflected by the races so far, how have you felt about the start of the season?

Rubens Barrichello: It was disappointing in the way that I really felt on top of my problems. We tested a lot at every circuit, and every time I got onto a circuit, I spent the first day getting used to everything. I say that because even though the seat fitting is good, the way I am driving the car is not the way I've driven in my whole life. I have to be a little bit different. So every time I get to a new circuit, the Friday seems to be a small struggle before I actually get on top of it.

In Bahrain, I had a problem with the right rear brake which was running hot and we only got on top of the problem right at the end of the weekend. We had a problem with the sensor so we couldn't really read that there was a problem. And in Malaysia I struggled, big time. Right from the first moment I went out I never got a balance. I was having some problems with the brakes, so it was a struggle.

I think you learn from these difficulties. I went back to Vallelunga, did some testing there, effectively I think it was a little bit better. So I come to a place that I enjoy very much, so it should be less of a struggle.

Q. You've had a pole position here and second last year from eleventh place, so this is one of your favourites, is it?

RB: This is one of my favourite tracks, the people and everything. I love the place ... Melbourne is the third race this year but for me, it's just like the last couple of years when it was the first race, because I haven't scored at the other ones.

Q. You are in a different team this year - Honda - is it very different to Ferrari?

RB: In so many ways they are very much the same but the way that they operate and the way they work is a bit different. It's good, I like it. It's something that I look forward to getting my problems solved, in a way. They are doing things for me, they are on top of everything and it should be OK.

But it is different, not because… in Ferrari, we talk in English, it wasn't such a problem on that side. Now it's an English team with the Japanese, but there's no problem with communication or anything. It's just the learning method, what I bring from other teams that I think is good and the way that they should put it in as a working manner, and some methods from them that I quite like, and it's a combination of things.

Q. So change of team has been a breath of fresh air for you?

RB: Absolutely, yes. Q. Giancarlo, winner of this race last year, winner of the previous race – you must come here with much confidence?

Giancarlo Fisichella: Yes, of course. There's a fantastic atmosphere here for me. As Rubens says, there is a great atmosphere in Australia, the people are really friendly and it's a nice place. The circuit is not the best circuit for me, but it's good. I've got a good feeling and I won last year so I have a good memory (of this circuit). Coming here and being the winner of the last race is fantastic for me so I am really looking forward to it and I am really optimistic for Sunday, again.

Q. Actually, until last year I don't suppose it was your favourite circuit because you hadn't really done very well here up until then…

GF: Well, in the past I never really drove a competitive car in comparison to last year and this year, and even then, I've had a little bit of bad luck. Last year, we had a good package, I did my best and I won the race.

Q. Looking back at a year ago, the first two races were very important to get a good start in the championship and once again, the team has done the same thing. Can you see a parallel to last year?

GF: Looks like it, looks like it's on target for Renault to be competitive straight away, but the most important thing is to have a reliable car. Apart from the problem with the (throttle) butterfly I had in Bahrain, which was very unusual, we have been able to do a lot of mileage during testing and in the last race, as you saw, we finished with both cars at the front of the race.

Q. Michael Schumacher said that the key to winning the championship this year is going to be development of the car throughout the season; would you agree with that?

GF: Yeah, this is the secret of Formula One. It has been like that even in the past, so you need to carry on, you always need to develop the car, the package, and never stop.

Q. And you're confident with Renault?

GF: I'm really confident, yes.

Q. Juan Pablo, can you compare the start of this season with the start of last, from your point of view, the first two races?

Juan Pablo Montoya: I think last year we had a really quick car and I think I struggled driving it, probably a bit like Rubens at the moment with the BAR (Honda), and it was hard, even though I scored good points. This year, in the last race we struggled a lot with cooling and the performance of the car wasn't there. Kimi came in a lap earlier than me in the race and everything so I think the pace of the car was down from the start.

We had to open up the car for cooling and we lost a lot of performance but I think we are going to be really quick here. I think the car has great potential and I'm a lot more comfortable than I was last year, and as long as we keep scoring good points, we'll be there at the end of the year.

Q. What about your own preparations for this season?

JPM: I did a lot of work over the winter. Last year it was the same. This year is the same, but it was easier this year because I knew how everything worked. Last year I went to the factory just to learn how things worked. Now I go to the factory to develop. We have the simulator and that helps us a lot to develop the car and bring new things forward, so it's OK. I think things are going quite well. In a couple of races we have new suspension coming which should help us quite a bit if it works as we expect.

We keep bringing on aero packages and the engine just keeps improving. We had a big handicap to everybody in the first few races because the engine struggled a bit, but now the engine is up to speed and running well. It lasted the two races, no problem for me, and here we have a bit of a step forward so it's looking good.

Q. Were you running the engine quite cautiously in the first two races?

JPM: Yeah, well within the margins of the engine, just to make sure. But it's OK, you've always got to have a margin for it, but I think the problem we had, especially in the first race, was a little bit of a mistake on the mapping, which they changed for the second race and it was a different engine… it was the same engine but there was a big difference. In the first race I was about four kilometres, even five kilometres per hour down on Kimi down the straight. In the second race I was as quick. I didn't like it.

Q. So this race should be OK?

JPM: Yeah, it should be OK. We have to see how the car behaves. We've got a very good, stable car here, so it's a matter of how much graining you're going to get and stuff like that, but I'm pretty confident we're going to be strong here.

Q. Mark, third on the grid to fifth in the race last year, your best results here; can you do better than that this year?

Mark Webber: I hope so, yeah. I think that the competition is probably a little bit more compact this year than it was last year. At the start of year last year everyone was a little bit more spread out, potentially. Renault are still the form team, they are going to be strong this weekend, I believe, and the bunch after that is very very tight, so there is a chance to improve on that, maybe.

Could have been a strong race, we could have had a bigger fuel tank last year but we didn't so that won't be a problem this year, so we've got some other… total new ball game, new rigs, engines, tyres, first time I've been here on the Bridgestones with Williams, so lots to learn, so I'm looking forward to it, looking forward to seeing how the long runs go tomorrow with Alex in the third car, obviously, compared to some of the other running that the race drivers will do, so yeah, see how we go.

Q. As we've heard from the drivers we've spoken to so far, one or two drivers have been handicapped, Juan Pablo by the engine, Rubens by the brakes; do you think it's going to show that as those drivers come on form, are you going to slip back, or have you had your problems as well?

MW: I think we've been pretty solid actually. I've been on other tyres for my whole career in F1 and had to make a change this year and that's been different the other way. Especially on Friday in Malaysia, it was definitely a different situation to what I had the year before so I had to work a bit harder on Saturday and then Sunday I was going to enjoy the race, obviously, until we had the problem.

But no, I think collectively we've done well as a team and we're pretty strong and solid. There's no huge problems with us inside. We know what we've got to work on, we know what weaknesses we've got to get more complete.

Q. Expecting a cooler day on Sunday than in the last two races; do you think that's going to be an advantage for you?

MW: I think we would like it to be clear skies and reasonably warm, just by the fact of what happened in the first two events and that worked well for us, as a team. Winter testing has been a bit tough for us in terms of balancing the car and just getting the situation as we would like.

It's nice to be better in the races than you are in testing; I don't like it the other way around so hopefully here, obviously a month later (than usual), but we're going to have other races (which are cool) this year; Melbourne isn't going to be the only one - the next three: Imola, Nurburgring very early in the season as well. We've got plenty to learn and hopefully we can learn in the right direction and not do too much learning on Sundays, do our learning before we go on the front line.
 
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Questions From The Floor

Q. (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) For Mark, Paul Stoddart has filed an entry for 2008, assuming it all works out, what are your thoughts of having Stoddie back and the Minardi name back in F1?

MW: I am ready to drive for him. There is no question about it…. Well, actually, I didn't know about that and – brilliant. He is a competitive and passionate guy and good stuff. Why not? Its going to be interesting, Formula One in 2008, probably could be a little different to how it is now potentially and I am not totally wound up on how it will be, but I am happy for Paul if he wants to come back in and get into it. He is a popular person in the paddock.

Q. (James Stanford - Herald Sun) For Juan Pablo, the McLaren – how close do you think it is to the Renaults in terms of speed? Is it much behind or as quick?

JPM: I think we are a little bit behind, but you know it is going to be interesting to see here because we have a new engine and it is a bit of a step up and it will be interesting to see what it does. I think if the car is competitive and everything goes well, we should be able to fight them in the race. I am not sure about one lap in qualifying, but we'll have to wait and see. The only way to beat them is to be a bit smarter than them in the race.

Q. (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Juan Pablo, how much of a distraction is it for you not knowing what 2007 will bring and maybe having to ask questions all the time about 2007?

JPM: I don't really care to be honest. I am okay. I am focussed on this year and when something comes up for next year and you are happy then you will sign the deal, wherever it is. And that's it. You know what I mean. I am driving for McLaren Mercedes this year and I am going to do my best for them. It doesn't matter. It is like when I was in America and I was going to move to Formula One.

I signed a deal eight months before and even like that when I was there I was still pushing and doing the best I could. You know, I think we have got a good chance of winning the championship this year and you can't waste it and I need to try and score good points at every race and when there is a chance of winning, winning.

Q. (Brendan Cormick - The Australian) To Mark, not being respectful in asking this, but 70 races under your belt, you work very hard at what you do – is it very frustrating not being able to post your first Grand Prix victory?

MW: Yes. We are all here to win. No question about it. But it is a reasonably competitive industry and there are a few people that want to do the winning. I think there's been two Australians win Grands Prix in the last 50 years so obviously it is not that straightforward, but I am very keen to be more competitive at every race. Giancarlo had some tough years at Jordan, but this year he is having a very good season. It is a very fickle game.

The drivers are very important to the performance of the car, but also the team has to be on it as well. I thoroughly enjoy my situation at Williams at the moment and I hope we can go towards the front and challenge the pace setters of the moment. Yes, I am very competitive and I want to be towards the front so rest assured I am doing my best.

Q. (Livio Orrichio – O Estado do Sao Paulo) Question to all drivers. Your teams signed a document asking the FIA to check the Ferrari front wing and Ferrari has a new front wing here. Do you think it will affect their performance here?

JPM: I think maybe they had something a little bit tricky and everybody thought it was open and so for that reason they asked them to do something different. If it was a big advantage it may affect them a little bit, but if they have a good solution then it shouldn't. I don't know. It shouldn't really. I will be amazed if it does.

MW: Yes, that's it isn't it?

RB: I agree.

GF: I think if there was something illegal, then it was correct to make adjustment and as all the other teams have to be legal. I don't know if they have a new aerodynamic part it has to be legal.

Q. (Todd Balym - Australian Associated Press) Giancarlo, Juan Pablo just said that for them to beat you on Sunday, they need to race smarter. Is that the sort of view in your team – that you have the fastest car and it is just a matter of putting it all together on Sunday?

GF: Well, we know McLaren has a fantastic potential to be quick, as we do. In the last two races, we were quicker than them and I just heard now that they are going to have a better car aerodynamically and maybe on the power side and maybe they will be a little bit closer now, but we are still very optimistic because we have fantastic pace and even last week, at Paul Ricard, we did a fantastic job with Kovalainen and we have been able again to be the quickest and so we are looking forward to tomorrow and especially to Sunday.

Q. (Peter Windsor - F1 Racing) A question to Rubens, Mark and Juan Pablo, despite all the changes to the technical regulations this year, specifically with engines, it appears as if the Renault still has a marked advantage off the line at the start of a race. Firstly do you agree with that and secondly if so why do you think that is?

MW: I definitely agree with you Peter. I think they are phenomenal off the line. There is a combination of a few things which in terms of the torque of the engine which is helping them, where the weight is in the car and also the electronics and how obviously the clutch and that stuff is working.

In all that stuff, they have had the best situation and have had so for a few years even with the V10 and there were a lot of good V10s out there at the end, so that makes the torque one a bit less of an argument but I think the V8 enjoys some good torque. Fernando and Giancarlo also eat a lot of carrots to look at the lights, but apart from that, that's the lot. They are the parameters that have the biggest effect. Tyres, too, obviously.

JPM: About the same, really, yes, gear ratio and it all depends how much torque you have. If you look at an on-board camera from them in Bahrain you can hear there are corners where they have like no revs and it still pulled out of the corners where … it is just a characteristic of the engines and so on.

RB: You know, I think it is just a little bit too early to say they really have an advantage or that they used to... If you look at their start in Malaysia, I think Jenson was pretty level with Giancarlo. I still think that Giancarlo beat him by a little bit but I think Honda did a phenomenal job with the starts so we are quite happy on that side too.

And if you look at Alonso, too, if it wasn't for his great move on the outside I don't think he would have gained any positions on the start. Obviously they know how to do it, because they have done it in the past, but I am not so sure that they still have the advantage of the past.

GF: Secret…
 
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Ferrari deny FIA intervention over wing

A Ferrari spokesman has denied that Ferrari only changed its front wing design for the Melbourne race because the FIA caught the Maranello based team cheating.

After the notorious 'flexi-wing' saga, the red squad presented a new wing to FIA scrutineers on Thursday; one whose upper element can presumably no longer move, twist or flex because it is now secured to the front nose.

But the head of Ferrari's motor sport press office, Luca Colajanni, insisted that the change was simply a normal aerodynamic development, not the result of an FIA request.

“We will use a different front wing here,” he said at Albert Park, “to increase our efficiency, not because we have to.”
 
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BRDC rethink Silverstone plans

Silverstone's owners are reviewing their options after a grass-roots revolt against plans to lease the British Grand Prix circuit to developer St Modwen for 150 years.

"There is no Board intention whatsoever to attempt to push through existing proposals," British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) chairman Stuart Rolt told members this week in a letter inviting them to assess the alternatives.

"It is clear there is strong opposition to these plans even in their un-finalised form," he added.

"Although there is support from less vocal members, we acknowledge that there is little prospect of the necessary strong majority of members approving any move for us to proceed with the St Modwen/Northern Racing proposal.

"It is also abundantly clear that something really has to be done to secure the future of our club, independent of reliance upon the future of the British Grand Prix."

A copy of the letter was obtained by Reuters.

The proposals stalled last month when a majority of BRDC members forced postponement of a vote on two resolutions that would have authorised the board to proceed.

The BRDC, a non-profit making members' club that owns Silverstone as its primary source of revenue, needs to revamp the former World War Two airfield to secure the future of the British Formula One race after 2009.

To help pay for the redevelopment, the board had proposed leasing the facility to St Modwen Properties in a deal that would have included building a luxury hotel and houses on the site in central England.

Northern Racing, a company that controls nine British horse racing venues, would have become the circuit operators.

"Clearly the BRDC has some internal issues to sort out and until they can speak with a common voice we have just deferred negotiations," Northern Racing managing director Rod Street told Reuters last week.

Rolt urged members, some of whom had threatened a vote of no confidence in the board, to attend a series of information 'forums' next month to review the club's finances and discuss options for the future.

He said the board would then prepare a discussion document and questionnaire to gauge the majority view.
 
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