2006 Malaysian Grand Prix - Race 2/18

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McLaren not writing Toyota off
Toyota's chances of fighting at the front of the field this season should not be completely written off, despite their disappointing form in Bahrain last weekend.

That is the view of McLaren's F1 CEO Martin Whitmarsh, who is convinced that Toyota's resources will be enough to help them out of their current situation.

Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli could manage no better than 14th and 16th in the season-opener as their TF106 was unable to generate any grip through its Bridgestone tyres.

And although the Japanese car manufacturer admit they are baffled by the situation, Whitmarsh believes it is only a matter of time before the team are back up front.

"Our surprise (about Toyota) came before the season when we realised in testing they weren't quite as competitive as they wanted to be," he explained.

"I know they have been trying very hard on their aero, but you hear all the rumours about how they put a new aero package on their car and went even further backwards.

"They are a very well funded, resourced organisation, and they have the biggest wind-tunnel in F1, so I am sure they going to be working hard to rectify that.

"But after one race I don't think you can write any team off. We just hope to stay ahead of them."
 
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McLaren 'b' team to wait until 2008 - Wurz

McLaren's prospective 'b' team is likely to wait until 2008 to enter formula one, according to Alexander Wurz.

The Austrian driver may no longer work for the silver team, but he is personally sponsored by 'Direxiv' -- the Japanese company that could fund the new squad.

Experienced and technically astute Wurz, 32, would be an ideal pilot for 'Direxiv', while his former Benetton teammate Jean Alesi is tipped to take a leading managerial role.

"In two years' time (2008)," he told the 'Austria Presse Agentur' (apa) agency, "a F1 team will cost substantially less to run. "It would thus make sense to wait."
 
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Bernie confirms Fuji switch

Bernie Ecclestone has told a Japanese newspaper that Fuji, not Suzuka, will host the country's formula one grand prix next year.

In the 'Yomiuri Shimbun', the 75-year-old F1 supremo was quoted as saying that Fuji - owned by Toyota - had convinced him to take the race away from Honda-owned Suzuka, home of the GP since 1987.

The newspaper said the deal was for multiple years, and does not include the possibility of a second Japanese race, such as a 'Pacific' or 'Asian' GP.

"I'm not surprised at all," said Suzuka boss Ikuo Shimizu, who travelled to Bahrain for talks with Ecclestone, "(but) I'm going to keep on negotiating."
 
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'MF1' to race Russian driver in 2007

Midland's F1 team could put a Russian in the racing cockpit as soon as next year, according to 'MF1' owner Alex Shnaider.

The naturalised Canadian, who nonetheless was born in Russia, sang the praises of 24-year-old test driver Roman Rusinov, 24, in the 'Sovietsky Sport' publication.

Asked when a Russian driver might race for the team with a Russian license, Shnaider said: 'I think no earlier than 2007.

'Naturally, we all want a Russian driver behind the wheel of (the) car, but Roman needs to spend the season as our test driver to get used to the car and amass experience.'

Shnaider, who is younger than Michael Schumacher (37) but already a billionaire, admitted to frustration that Midland had largely failed to attract any Russian sponsorship for his team.

He explained: '(But) it's not that simple. Even in the West, it takes several years to hammer out top deals.

'I'm sure that now, with a totally Russian team with a flag on board, interest in sponsorship will increase.'
 
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One last thought about Bahrain

The Grand Prix in Bahrain may be doing wonders for the reputation of the city and there is clear development going on all over the island but this does not seem to have had much of effect on the crowds.

In 2005 the circuit said that it had attracted 77,257 spectators over three days.

This year's post-race figures were 32,500 seats sold, an attendance of 40,000 and a weekend crowd total of a rather blurry "over 77,000".

Vagueness is never a good sign, particularly given the precise numbers in 2005 and the reality is that the number of paying spectators may even have dropped because there were free three-day tickets available free of charge for students at Bahrain University, which is located next to the circuit.

Clearly, as Malaysia has found in the past, building up a strong spectator base in a place with no racing culture is not the work of a moment.
 
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Toro Rosso to get extra 'edge' - Liuzzi

While the F1 paddock may be musing Toro Rosso's alleged horse power advantage, Vitantonio Liuzzi has suggested that the former Minardi team might have even more of an 'edge' in Malaysia this week.

Weather forecasts suggest that temperatures could soar to 35C this weekend, with high humidity and rain also likely for Sepang.

"One good thing (about the heat) is that we are the only team with V10 (engines)," said Liuzzi, the 24-year-old Italian.

Toro Rosso's Cosworth, although built to generate 19,000 rpm and 950 horse power, is performance-limited in 2006 -- resulting in near-bullet proof reliability.

Liuzzi, on a quick PR trip to Singapore with Red Bull's Robert Doornbos before jetting into Kuala Lumpur, added: "We should have an edge -- more reliable in the conditions. I think this will help us a lot."
 
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Sepang from a technical perspective

Sepang is what can be termed a ‘complete’ circuit in its demands on the chassis. It has high-speed corners, rapid changes of direction (particularly turns 5 and 6), and slow hairpins. In order to achieve optimum performance for these contradictory requirements we must, as always, find the correct compromise on the car set-up.

Suspension: The car must be stable and well-balanced in the fast corners, and in the braking zones for the slow corners. We will use relatively stiff settings to achieve this, while still maintaining them soft enough to have good traction in the slower corners.

Aerodynamics: The cars use medium high downforce to optimise the car performance in the high-speed corners and under braking.

Tyres: This will be a key factor and will play a significant part in our set-up choices with the car. The quick corners coupled to high ambient temperatures put the tyres under significant loadings, and the rear tyres work particularly hard at this circuit. Tyre degradation will be a key parameter.

Cooling: Given the high temperatures expected in Malaysia, the effective general cooling of the car will be a key to success this weekend.

Performance: With 72% of the lap spent at full throttle, Sepang is now one of the most demanding engine circuits of the year – this is the third highest value encountered all season, and represents a significant change to the V10 era. This is because of the high number of high-speed corners on the circuit. Given that the V8 engines have less power than their predecessors, this means that the drivers will spend more time on the throttle than last year.

Operating Range: The operating range of the engine is not particularly demanding at this circuit, as the engine is rarely used at very low revs. However, the high speed sections can pose their own particular problems, particularly through turns 5 and 6. The drivers use partial throttle openings at high revs on this part of the circuit, and if this is not properly managed, it can result in a phenomenon named ‘blow-by’ which can damage both the pistons and piston-rings, with gas escaping from the combustion chamber.

High Temperatures: More so than in Bahrain, we will once again have to contend with the acoustic offset caused by the high temperatures. The higher temperatures, and thus lower air density, modify the intake acoustics, and mean that maximum power is produced at higher engine speeds than at lower temperatures. This means the operating range is pushed higher than usual.

Engine Cooling: If we need to use higher engine revs in order to extract maximum performance from the engine, this will require an increase in the already significant cooling capacity at this circuit. As always, the compromise on cooling will be between keeping the oil and water temperatures within their specified limits, and sacrificing a minimum amount of performance in order to achieve this.
 
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Malaysia GP engine preview

With 72% of the lap spent at full throttle, Sepang is now one of the most demanding engine circuits of the year - this is the third highest value encountered all season, and represents a significant change to the V10 era.

This is because of the high number of high-speed corners on the circuit. Given that the V8 engines have less power than their predecessors, this means that the drivers will spend more time on the throttle than last year.

The operating range of the engine is not particularly demanding at this circuit, as the engine is rarely used at very low revs. However, the high speed sections can pose their own particular problems, particularly through turns 5 and 6. The drivers use partial throttle openings at high revs on this part of the circuit, and if this is not properly managed, it can result in a phenomenon named 'blow-by' which can damage both the pistons and piston-rings, with gas escaping from the combustion chamber.

More so than in Bahrain, we will once again have to contend with the acoustic offset caused by the high temperatures. The higher temperatures, and thus lower air density, modify the intake acoustics, and mean that maximum power is produced at higher engine speeds than at lower temperatures. This means the operating range is pushed higher than usual.

If we need to use higher engine revs in order to extract maximum performance from the engine, this will require an increase in the already significant cooling capacity at this circuit. As always, the compromise on cooling will be between keeping the oil and water temperatures within their specified limits, and sacrificing a minimum amount of performance in order to achieve this.
 
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Malaysia Preview: Michelin

15/03/2006

A taxing start to the 2006 Formula One world championship season continues this weekend as the 11 teams complete a swift dash from the sandy expanses of Bahrain to Sepang, Malaysia, where the latest V8 engines will have to complete the second part of their two-race cycle in searing heat and humidity.

Sepang has been ever-present on the F1 calendar since its inauguration in 1999 and this will be the eighth Malaysian Grand Prix. Michelin teams dominated 2005's corresponding event, when Fernando Alonso (Renault) spearheaded a clean sweep of the top six positions. The emerging world champion's success was Michelin's third at Sepang in the space of four years: Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya swept to a one-two for Williams-BMW in 2002 and Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren Mercedes) notched up his maiden F1 success here the following season.

Nick Shorrock, Formula One director, Michelin: "The second race of the season takes place in something of a Formula One hotspot. It will be a very demanding weekend for tyre manufacturers. Several long straights put quite a strain on rear tyres, but sustained ambient heat is the biggest factor. We have done a lot of preparatory work, though, and obtained encouraging results during a pre-season test in hot conditions at the Bahrain International Circuit, where we won last weekend's opening race. We expect things to be much warmer in Malaysia and will turn to slightly more rigid tyre constructions. Given our winning start to the season, I'm confident we will perform very strongly once again."

Gil de Ferran, sporting director, Honda Racing F1 Team: "It is obviously quite tricky preparing for hot conditions during the cool of a European winter, but our pre-season test in Bahrain gave us some useful pointers. We anticipate that temperatures will be warmer in Malaysia than they were during last weekend's season-opener in Bahrain, but Michelin has proved it can be competitive in all conditions and we have worked well with its engineers to optimise tyres for every type of circuit."
 
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Williams still linked with Toyota engines

Williams remain linked with a possible switch to Toyota engines next year, despite the impressive start to their relationship with Cosworth at Bahrain last weekend.

Although Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg both finished in the points at Sakhir, with the latter claiming fastest lap, it is understood that the team are continuing talks with Toyota about a customer deal for 2007.

Sources have revealed to autosport.com that Toyota's engine chief Luca Marmorini and manager of car design Pascal Vasselon held a meeting with Williams co-owner Patrick Head one evening at the Bahrain Grand Prix to begin preliminary discussions about the technical issues relating to a future partnership.

Despite those talks, however, it is understood that Williams have not signed a deal with Toyota yet and that there is still a chance that Cosworth could still remain with the team if they continue to shine.

Williams chiefs made it clear in Bahrain last weekend that they were very impressed with the work that Cosworth had done over the winter.

"I personally think they have got the best engine on the grid and whether that gives us a harder time to develop the tyre or the set-up or aero, fine," said technical director Sam Michael. "But you have got to take your hat off to them to produce an engine that revs to 19,000rpm and is as solid as a rock. They did a really, really good job."

However, the ultimate decision may well come down to whether Williams can afford to remain an independent customer team or if it would make better financial sense to join up with a manufacturer who would likely subsidise the cost of power-units.

Cosworth's managing director Tim Routsis said at the Williams launch earlier this year that he was determined to make it difficult for the team to choose to change engine partners.

"My job as head of Cosworth is to deliver the sort of performance in the early part of the year that makes it bloody hard for Williams to want to go anywhere else," he said.
 
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Bridgestone helped Ferrari in the wind tunnel?

For the first time, Ferrari crafted the bodywork for its new '248' F1 car by fitting real Bridgestone tyres to its wind tunnel models.

Previously, the Maranello based marque built wind tunnel models with aluminium tyres, according to 'Auto Motor Und Sport' magazine.

Ahead of the 2006 season, however, Ferrari engineers stumbled upon the idea of using real tyres, probably because Bridgestone's new teams - Toyota and Williams - revealed that it is a practice employed by rival Michelin-shod squads.

Interestingly, the revelation coincided with a sizeable boost in performance from the red team -- Michael Schumacher's near-victory in Bahrain. 'Auto Motor Und Sport' contended that the change resulted in a three (3) per cent gain in aerodynamic efficiency.

''Unlike rubber, aluminium does not deform,'' technical director Ross Brawn explained, suggesting that in previous years, Ferrari might have developed aerodynamic packages that did not totally correspond with the actual cars on track.

Brawn added: ''Three months ago, Bridgestone supplied us with our first tyres for a wind tunnel.''
 
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Dutch Guy said:
Wasn't it a few years ago they raced in very wet conditions, was a very fun race :)

@Flibster, do you want the Bahrain moved to the archive?


Brazil 2004 iirc - they only had Intermediate tyres available as part of the FIA's wonderfull cost cutting ideas they were only allowed to take 1 slick compount and 1 wet compound - and everyone took Intermediates. :D

Would be great if the Bahrain thread could go to the archive too. :D

Simon/~Flibster
 
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