2006 San Marino Grand Prix - Race 4/18

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2006 San Marino Grand Prix - Race 4/18

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2005 San Marino Grand Prix
Grid and Results



2005 San Marino Grand Prix Grid

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2005 San Marino Grand Prix Results

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2005 San Marino Grand Prix Lap Chart

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Current Standings

2006 Drivers Championship.
Code:
[b]Pos	Driver			Nationality	Team			Points[/b]
1 	Fernando Alonso 	Spanish 	Renault 		28 
=3 	Giancarlo Fisichella 	Italian 	Renault 		14 
=3 	Kimi Räikkönen 		Finnish 	McLaren-Mercedes 	14 
=5 	Michael Schumacher 	German 		Ferrari 		11 
=5 	Jenson Button		British 	Honda 			11 
6 	Juan Pablo Montoya 	Colombian 	McLaren-Mercedes 	9 
7 	Ralf Schumacher 	German 		Toyota 			7 
=9 	Nick Heidfeld 		German 		Sauber-BMW 		5 
=9 	Jacques Villeneuve 	Canadian 	Sauber-BMW 		5 
10 	Felipe Massa 		Brazilian 	Ferrari 		4 
11 	Mark Webber 		Australian 	Williams-Cosworth 	3 
=13 	Rubens Barrichello 	Brazilian 	Honda 			2 
=13 	Nico Rosberg 		German 		Williams-Cosworth 	2 
=15 	David Coulthard 	British 	RBR-Ferrari 		1 
=15 	Christian Klien 	Austrian 	RBR-Ferrari 		1

Click here for a more in depth view of the Drivers Championship

2006 Constructors Championship.
Code:
[b]Pos	Constructor 		Points[/b]
1   	Renault  		42  
2   	McLaren-Mercedes 	23  
3   	Ferrari  		15  
4   	Honda  			13  
5   	Sauber-BMW  		10  
6   	Toyota  		7  
7   	Williams-Cosworth  	5  
8   	RBR-Ferrari  		2

Click here for a more in depth view of the Constructors Championship
 
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San Marino GP broadcast schedule

Live qualifying:
Saturday 22 April
1230-1425
ITV1

Live race:
Sunday 23 April
1200-1515
ITV1

Highlights:
Sunday 23 April
2345-0050
ITV1

Highlights:
Tuesday 25 April
0340-0440
ITV4
 
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Flibster said:
The magnificent Google earth files...
New version of the Google Earth file for this race. Now featuring circuit flyovers for all the tracks up to Hungary so far, the rest should be done before the next race.

To view the flyover simply highlight the appropriate flyover folder then click the play button in the bottom right of the places panel.

There are a couple of bugs, due to a plate join across both the Nurburgring and Indianapolis the flyover jumps about a bit between a couple of the corners at each circuit. Nowt I can do about it I'm afraid.....
 
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San Marino preview quotes: Bridgestone

Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director of Motorsport: "Bridgestone's teams have had a solid start to the 2006 season and we are now expecting them to build on those results. We have already seen Bridgestone drivers on pole, on the podium and take the fastest lap of the race this season.

"This is a great start, especially with three new teams this year. But we now need to push hard as our teams aspire for wins and more constructor championship points as we start the European rounds.

"This track is one of Ferrari's home tracks so we can expect them in particular to be pushing hard in front their many supporters and I am sure Jarno Trulli will also be looking to impress on home soil. It has the potential to be a great race weekend!

"The San Marino GP will also host the second round of the GP2 Series after the hugely successful first races in Valencia ten days ago. We look forward to our potential future world champions battling it out in front of the F1 crowds for the remainder of the season."

Hisao Suganuma - Technical Manager: "We've had a good start to the season and we're now eager to get racing again in Europe. From a track surface point of view Imola is relatively rough but the nature of the circuit does allow us to use compounds from the softer end of the scale. Furthermore, the use of softer compounds at Imola allows us to maximize grip levels at a circuit where temperatures can vary quite a bit.

"Track temperatures can reach 35 degrees Celsius if the sun comes out but we generally expect fairly cool weather in this region of Italy at this time of year. Grip, not wear or heat durability, will be the key issue in Imola for our teams. As a result of the successful development of the compounds which ran earlier this year we are bringing further new compounds to San Marino to tackle this issue.

"Testing of these compounds recently produced some very interesting results so we are keen to see them in action in San Marino this weekend."
 
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San Marino preview quotes: Michelin

Nick Shorrock, Formula One director: "The first three Grands Prix of the season have been very satisfactory for both Michelin and its partner teams.

"Our excellent results have been the fruit of dedicated work carried out by Michelin's research and development teams and our F1 partners, factors that have enabled us to build on 2005's spectacular success and make significant progress.

"The analysis of data received from our partner teams is central to our work and allows us to monitor a wide range of elements and, subsequently, to determine future development trends. We have thus been able to evolve new casings and compounds while enhancing the way in which our partners use them."

"We are now looking forward to Formula One's European return at Imola, a circuit rich in both tradition and history. The tyres we're bringing to this race need to be able to cope with fierce braking and hard acceleration on a track whose surface varies at almost every bend.

"In addition, drivers tend to take an aggressive approach here - they make extensive use of the kerbs because that is the key to a quick lap time.

"In last year's corresponding fixture we identified a number of areas that needed to be developed in order to improve our future performance. The development programme in 2006 has taken this into account and our recent tests have been encouraging.

"We have subsequently selected a range of tyres featuring new compounds in order to respond to the challenges we identified one year ago.

"It is conceivable that the first European race of the campaign will be rain-affected - but that holds no fears for us because we saw the effectiveness of our latest intermediate tyres during the free practice sessions in Australia.

"Our partners' wet-weather lap times in Melbourne gave us particular cause for satisfaction and underlined just how much progress we have made. Previously, we had only been able to evaluate these tyres during our winter test programme, when circumstances are less representative.

"Michelin might have dominated the first three races of the season, but we appreciate that the opposition remains very strong. Each Grand Prix represents a whole new challenge. There are no guarantees that the early-season hierarchy will remain settled and we remain focused on building up a successful world title campaign.

"Moreover, intense competition is exactly what Michelin thrives on - as far as we are concerned it represents motorsport's very essence. Fierce rivalry of this kind enables Michelin to fine-tune its products and demonstrate their true worth."
 
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San Marino preview quotes: Renault

Fernando Alonso

Q. Fernando, it's been a great start to the season...

FA: Yes, a fantastic start. The R26 performed really well, we had no mechanical problems, and it is always important to score a lot of points at the start of the year. We know Renault is the team to beat at the moment, the reference. I am really happy with our position, and very confident for the coming races.

Q. So where has the advantage come from?

FA: The package altogether is competitive. There are no particular problems with the car, you can feel everything works well together. The driveability of car will probably be the strongest point of the season, and fingers crossed we can finish all the races with no reliability problems.

Q. You said in March that there were four teams fighting at the top - is that still the case?

FA: Yes, we have very strong opposition this year. Ferrari, McLaren and Honda are all good enough to win races, and we need to work hard if we want to beat them.

Q. What will be the key factor in the coming races?

FA: The development of the cars. We are in a strong situation, and we know that the team that develops most, with a strong finish to the year, will probably be champions. The drivers have a role too, because we need to tell the engineers where the car has to improve, which is what we are doing at the moment.

Q. Tell us about Imola - it was a famous win for you in 2005...

FA: It became maybe the most talked-about win of my career so far I think. For me, it was a win like the others - a special achievement. But when you are fighting with Michael, then I think the media talk about it in a special way, and make it something bigger. I enjoyed the final laps of the race last year, and it was an important race to win. But if I can do it again this year, on my own, a long way in front, then that's even better!

Q. It's a tough track though...

FA: It is very difficult for the drivers, with the chicanes and the kerbs, and the car bumping over them. That makes it hard for us to take the same line twice in any corner, and every lap you have to feel things a little bit differently. It is tough physically, but also for the car because there is a lot of stress over the kerbs. This is a hard race to finish.

Q. You have said Renault is the team to beat. Who will be the competition?

FA: Ferrari and McLaren will be our main opponents. Ferrari dropped down in the last two races, but I think they will be back. Their tyres work well at this circuit, and it is their home Grand Prix, so I expect them to be extremely competitive.

Giancarlo Fisichella

Q. You arrive in Imola second in the championship. You must be feeling optimistic?

GF: For sure! It is nice to be racing back in Europe, and to be in my home country as well, with all the Italian fans. Physically, I am fitter than ever before, and feeling really good at the moment. And compared to last year, I am in a much better position in the championship: more points, and closer to the lead. So yes, things are looking very good right now.

Q. Looking back at the last race, what is your assessment?

GF: It was a difficult afternoon for all the drivers I think - and an exciting race for the spectators! I had some problems during the race, but managed to overcome them and score some good points. I have tested two times since then, we have worked through some answers to those problems, and the new B spec engine feels like a good step in performance. We are moving forward all the time.

Q. What challenges will the circuit bring?

GF: You need to be good in every area to be quick there, you must have a complete car. The drivers need to have confidence in the handling and the reactions, the right tyres and a strong engine. We have a mix of slow and fast corners, plus of course you need to attack the kerbs very aggressively - and the car needs to cope with that. The R25 was quick there last year, so there's no reason to think the R26 will not be this year

Q. What are your hopes for the race?

GF: I am going to every race this year looking to score maximum points. I think Renault has an edge at the moment, so we have to aim for the victory at every Grand Prix. I have a fresh engine, and a bit more power from the new specification, so that gives me a fantastic chance for this race. We are not underestimating our rivals, because we know that the level of competition is very close the front. But I believe we have the package to win in Imola.

Denis Chevrier, Head of Trackside Engine Operations

Q. Denis, we are three races into the V8 era. What have been the lessons so far?

DC: I think that reliable engines were something we had taken for granted until the end of last year. With the move to the V8, we have seen many enforced engine changes, and failures in the race - including with Giancarlo in Bahrain. Few teams have avoided this, and that reflects how much effort is involved in developing the V8. Certainly, the engine's strategic importance has been greater during these opening races than ever before.

Q. Why have there been so many problems?

DC: The V8s are still young engines, and I don't think any team was 100% ready for the start of the season. At Renault, we had done a lot of mileage in the winter, encountered problems that we had worked hard to resolve, and started the season in a stronger position than some of our rivals. But every manufacturer is still working through the challenges encountered early in the life of a new engine, and nobody can yet say they have solved them all.

Q. In terms of performance, how does the Renault engine compare to the competition?

DC: The conclusions we can draw show that engine performance is very similar from team to team. There are some small differences in peak revs, for example, but there are no bad V8 engines out there. Now, the challenge is to add performance to what is still a young engine, without compromising reliability. It is not an easy job.

Q. What are the challenges with developing the V8 engines?

DC: Simply, it is harder to find performance than it was with the V10, especially this early in the engine's development. But on the other hand, the competition is closer-matched than last year, which makes development even more important. Several teams are at an equal level on ultimate performance, and the first one to gain the upper hand could take a decisive advantage. So nobody can afford to relax, and we are putting the same resources and effort into our development as in previous years.

Q. What has been the secret to Renault's success in the opening races?

DC: I think we have seen that our project was a little better prepared than some of our competitors, and we are very proud to have won the final race of the V10 era, and the opening races of the V8 period. It has been interesting to compare our performance, because we have learned that pure performance on a single lap is not necessarily our strongest suit at the moment. In qualifying conditions, we are very close to a number of teams. But we seem to have an advantage over a full race distance.

Q. Where does the advantage come from?

DC: We have designed the car and engine to win races - not just to get pole positions. From an engine point of view, that may mean we are able to run higher revs for longer, but overall, we have a car that gives the drivers the confidence to attack from the first lap to the last. We know that it is hard to gain a significant advantage in single lap performance under these regulations. On the other hand, the ability to run the car in a competitive configuration from the first laps to the last can be decisive.

Q. The RS26B arrives in Imola. What are the differences?

DC: It is a normal evolutionary step early in the development cycle: we have looked to gain performance by increasing the peak revs, and improving areas like cylinder filling and combustion. In qualifying trim, we expect a gain of several tenths of a second and the final dyno tests before the Grand Prix will allow us to determine exactly how much additional performance is available during the race.

Q. Will both drivers use the engine at Imola?

DC: No, it will only be available for Giancarlo to use. His retirement in Bahrain put him 'out of cycle' relative to our development schedule, and we had to take a decision on whether to accelerate the introduction of the B spec, which had been planned for race 5. We decided it was important to do so, and have pushed our processes to make it happen. However, this early debut may lead us to use to conserve some of the engine's potential performance during the race in order to not compromise reliability. Fernando will receive the B spec engine at the Nurburgring, as per our original schedule.
 
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San Marino preview quotes: McLaren

Kimi Raikkonen: "We had a solid session at the test in Barcelona last week, we were able to complete the MP4-21 development work planned for the session and continue the progress made by Pedro and Gary at the Paul Ricard test the week before. It will be good to see how the modifications will be on the race track.

"The biggest factors at Imola are hard braking and acceleration, because of all the chicanes and the short straights in between them. This also means that performance of traction, braking and braking stability is key for this race. To get quick lap times at Imola, you have to really attack the kerbs and because they are so high, probably more so than at most tracks, we have to keep the car quite soft so it rides the kerbs well.

"The best place to overtake at Imola would be the Tosa hairpin, both under braking and also exiting, and you also tend to see a lot of cars running wide providing more opportunities."

Juan Pablo Montoya: "It was good to test last week, as we have been able to cover some good pre-race set-up work for San Marino and the car felt good. Imola is a very technical and demanding circuit, so the set-up of the car is particularly important at this track to be fast.

"It is a medium to high downforce track, because of all the slow corners and chicanes, also there isn't really one very long straight that would demand a lower downforce configuration. Imola is one of three anti-clockwise tracks we race on. It does place an extra strain on your body, particularly your neck. However it's not really a big deal, I have been working with my trainer to ensure there are no issues.

"There are a couple of great corners at San Marino, such as the Piratella and Acque Minerali, and you need to make sure you push and carry as much speed through them as possible, they should be quite fun with the V8 engine!"

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One: "The three week gap between the Australian and San Marino Grands Prix has allowed us to complete six intensive days of testing prior to racing at Imola this week. Between Kimi, Juan Pablo, Pedro and Gary, we completed over 4,797 kilometres and the test team have pushed hard to bring further modifications to the MP4-21 online.

"The gap has also allowed the race team to recover from the demanding first three fly-ways and everyone within Team McLaren Mercedes is now looking forward to getting back to the Championships and putting in a positive result at San Marino. We now move to Imola for race four of the season, it is a medium speed track, which has a tendency to be tough on cars.

"A major factor of the track is the high kerbs and the requirement of the drivers to use the kerbs to be fast. As a result, the test team has also spent some time working on dampers specifically for this race, to ensure we have the performance we need."

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: "Due to the stop-and-go nature, with many braking and acceleration manoeuvres, the Imola circuit's characteristics are quite different from those of this year's first three races. About 65 percent of a lap will be run under full throttle; this means almost two thirds of a lap. This is similar to the first two races this year in Bahrain and Malaysia, whilst the full throttle percentage in Australia was more than 70.

"However, due to the four Safety Car periods, the strain on the engines there was less than usual. The race at Imola will take place at the end of a three-week break which was packed with testing and saw us completing a total of almost 4,800 kilometres at Paul Ricard and Barcelona."
 
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San Marino preview quotes: Toyota

Ralf Schumacher: "The Imola circuit is technically very demanding - with lots of long straights and slow corners which are especially tough on brakes. The venue has been kind to me in the past and I've always enjoyed good results - particularly when I took my first ever grand prix win there in 2001. By contrast the circuit has not been that good for Toyota down the years although both Jarno and I scored points last year.

"We could face cold conditions in Imola but you never know what the weather will bring there. We struggled at the start of the year in cool conditions but we made the podium in Australia so that shows how far we've come. Of course the season has started off harder than we expected but Australia was much better and the team is strong enough to keep bouncing back."

Jarno Trulli: "It always makes for a slightly different weekend when you are racing at home. I will have more support than usual and my fan club usually pays me a visit but I will also be busier out of the cockpit.

"Despite being in Italy, I don't particularly like the circuit at Imola. It's often cold there in April but the most important factors for performance are braking stability and traction, as well as a car that can ride the kerbs. Last year I was able to celebrate the birth of my son with a points finish and we have to hope for another top eight finish this time.

"I didn't have a good weekend in Australia but our pace was much better so we can only be confident. We have had two hard weeks of testing and we hope to find suitable tyres for the conditions and to reap the benefits this weekend."

Dieter Gass - Chief Engineer Race and Test: "Now we are back in Europe we will probably face cooler temperatures at Imola than we have so far this year. That would have been a concern for us after the difficulties we had in Bahrain. But given the work we have done with the car set-up combined with the development work from Bridgestone on their new generation of compounds designed to work at lower temperatures, we can now be confident that those problems are under control.

"We showed a much stronger performance in Melbourne and we have to look to continue that development. We have had two tests since Australia which have given us a chance to look at some of the main issues, including the damper set-up we will need to ride the Imola kerbs. Our car has shown it is capable of qualifying in the top ten so we have to look to do that and score points."
 
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San Marino preview quotes: Williams

Mark Webber: "Being the first European race of the season, Imola is always keenly awaited by everyone as it feels as though we're finally back home after the first three flyaways and that the new season is really underway. There's always a pretty good atmosphere in the paddock as we return to working out of our motorhomes and the whole set-up has a much more traditional and familiar feel.

"The track itself provides us with a unique challenge as it's somewhere we really have to use the curbs quite a lot. I've always enjoyed racing at Imola and, falling after a successful test at Barcelona last week when both Bridgestone and Williams made good progress with the tyres and car respectively, I'm looking forward to getting the car on the track."

Nico Rosberg: "I'm looking forward to my first Formula One race in Imola. Bridgestone have made some good progress on their compounds for cooler temperatures, as we saw in Melbourne. The team's test went well in Barcelona last week and I believe we made good progress, especially with the aero package. I know the Imola track from GP2 so that will be a help to me, definitely, so we will see how it goes."

Sam Michael, Technical Director: "Since the last race, the team has been testing at Vallelunga and Barcelona to improve the car's reliability and performance. We have identified the problem we had on Mark's gearbox in Melbourne and put corrections in place to avoid that type of failure again. Imola mainly consists of medium and high speed corners and chicanes.

"The curb riding requirements at San Marino tend to dominate the mechanical set-up of the car, but high speed stability is also important. We will have some aerodynamic and mechanical improvements on the FW28, all of which form part of our normal season-long development programme. Bridgestone have been working hard to improve tyre grip on low temperature surfaces and, as a result of this work, we will have two new tyre designs in Imola.

"Tyre wear is not an issue, however, particularly with such a short pitlane and the effect that has on fuel strategy for the race. The FW28 has proved its competitiveness in the first three races of 2006 and with greater reliability we should be able to run near the front of the grid."

Simon Corbyn, Head of F1 Race Engineering, Cosworth: "In order to ensure the best possible engine reliability in Imola, both drivers will start the event with fresh CA2006 Series two engines. As neither Mark nor Nico finished the previous race, they will not suffer a grid penalty as a result of this decision.

"Cosworth continue to work closely with Williams to carefully manage race engine usage and running conditions, while the usual challenge of delivering the best possible performance without compromising engine reliability remains."
 
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San Marino preview quotes: Honda

Rubens Barrichello: "The Imola circuit is a good one for the drivers. I really like the layout and the challenge of setting up the car, which is not easy. Imola has had its ups and downs for me; I have had a lot of support from the fans there in the past, but there are also some very sad memories.

"Our difficulties during the last race in Australia have made us work even harder in testing over the last couple of weeks, and there is a good feeling that we have made some solid progress. The whole team feel positive about this weekend and I share those feelings, so we're hoping for a competitive race."

Jenson Button: "I've always really enjoyed racing at Imola. The track has a mixture of different types of corners and a few chicanes and is quite challenging for the drivers.

"There's always a fun atmosphere and it's a track where I have great memories. In 2004, I qualified on pole position here, which was my first pole in F1 and finished the race in second place.

"It's good to be back in Europe following the first three races, where we were able to achieve a podium position and some points.

"Obviously we were extremely disappointed with our performance in Australia, however we have made good progress in testing and I am confident we will be competitive in Imola. Hopefully it should be a good weekend for us."

Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "Imola represents the start of the European season and the challenge of four races in just one month. Traditionally, this is the weekend when many teams target the introduction of development upgrades to their cars, which can reshuffle the order of performance established at the first three flyaway races.

"With this in mind, we have not stood still since Australia and have evaluated many potential improvements to both the performance and reliability of the RA106 at our tests in Vallelunga and Barcelona.

"Our team has traditionally gone very well in Imola, so it all looks good for us to get our championship challenge back on track."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development: "The countermeasure for Jenson's engine problem in Melbourne worked to our satisfaction in Barcelona, and we are introducing a more powerful spec for the start of the European season."
 
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San Marino preview quotes: BMW

Nick Heidfeld: "The San Marino Grand Prix is the first race of the season in Europe and, from experience, this is when the teams come out with their first major round of modifications.

"We're no different and have tweaked one or two elements of the car's aerodynamics since the last race. I'm not expecting these changes to shake up the field completely, but they might just result in a readjustment in the balance of power.

"As far as the track itself is concerned, two things in particular stand out. Firstly, that we drive very hard over the kerbs at Imola and need a car that can deal with that kind of treatment.

"Second, Imola is very tough on the brakes, almost as tough as Canada. That makes efficient brake cooling very important, although the lower top speeds with the V8 engines will make this slightly less of an issue.

"As far as the travelling is concerned, the start of the European season means things are a little calmer again - despite the testing we've been doing. I really hope we can build on the progress we've made so far this season at Imola."

Jacques Villeneuve: "Imola has always been a good track for us as it was there where we got our best result last year. It is a fun track but it is the second race on the engine so we will have to be a little bit careful.

"It is a very different track to the first three of this year, with a lot of chicanes and kerbing, but it is fun to drive and very difficult to overtake."

Robert Kubica: "Imola is one of my favourite tracks in Europe and I am happy to return there after a victory in 2002, which was the first time I drove in Formula Renault. Unfortunately I am not racing but I hope I will help the team to get as much data as possible from the Friday pre-testing and I hope to do a good job.

"It is the first time this season we will race on what I would say are the 'old' kind of tracks, because Imola is an old-style circuit with all the kerbs. Bahrain and Malaysia are very flat with no kerbs, but here you have to jump over the chicane.

"It is something different but I like all types of tracks, as the new ones have larger run off areas and those kinds of features. I like Imola, I am happy I am back in Italy where I have lived for five years so I am really looking forward to it. It is also the first time I shall be with the team on a circuit I know."

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Everybody looks forward to the start of the European season - with both people and materials having less distance to travel - and the working conditions in the paddock are better.

"When we get to Europe, the teams suddenly become home-owners, with the motorhomes set up for the first time in the year. We will have a new motorhome this year and are looking forward to settling in. However, the F1 village will have to squeeze into one of the smallest paddock areas for the first European race of the season.

"Both Nick and Jacques will be using the same BMW P86 engines they finished with in Australia. With the short development time we had for the new engines, that continues to present a challenge for the team.

"Both engines are still at the stage of development we had reached prior to the race in Melbourne. And, with its high downforce requirement and uphill sections, Imola is a track which generally puts a lot of strain on the engines."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis: "Our goal is to carry over the momentum generated by the positive result in Melbourne into the European season - and the team's been working very hard to make sure that happens.

"Indeed, the BMW Sauber F1.06 will line up for the San Marino Grand Prix with both a modified rear section and a new front wing, which promises increased downforce. Added to which, we're working intensively with our partner Michelin to get a better handle on the problems we've experienced in bringing the tyres back up to temperature.

"Imola not only demands a lot of downforce, it also places huge pressures on the brakes. For this reason we use maximum brake cooling and the optimum brake specification for this race.

"The kerb stones in Imola are fairly high and the drivers have to be able to drive straight over them to set a good lap time. This places considerable mechanical loads on the chassis and suspension.

"Overtaking is difficult as a rule, as the straights between the chicanes are not long enough to pass. That makes a good grid position and the right race strategy all the more important. I'm confident that we are in the position to go out there and put in a good performance once again."
 
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San Marino preview quotes: Midland

Tiago Monteiro: "It's good to be back in Europe! I'm looking forward to trying out all the new parts we have on the car, which should make for a good improvement. I really believe I could have scored points in Australia had I not been forced to retire with mechanical problems.

"Hopefully, I will have the same opportunity at Imola, which is a very exciting track with a great racing tradition - one of the last traditional drivers' circuits left on the calendar."

Christijan Albers: "I am really looking forward to the first European GP of 2006. I was very impressed with the new parts we tested at Silverstone, which should help us move forward. The car is really improving, and Tiago, Giorgio and I will do everything to show that MF1 Racing is on the way up. Imola is a nice track with a great atmosphere, and I can't wait to get back in the car again. Maximum attack!"

Giorgio Mondini: "It's going to be nice to finally drive on a track I'm familiar with, for a change! I know Imola quite well and I like it very much, actually. It's a challenging circuit, but it's good from a driver's point of view because it flows and allows you to get into a rhythm.

"Friday is going to be interesting because from what I've seen, the track surface is still very dirty, which will affect traction considerably. But my fitness is much better than it was in Malaysia, so I'm confident that I will be able to do a good job for the team and help them choose the right tyres for the weekend."

Dominic Harlow, Head of Race and Test Engineering: "Imola is a classic and challenging circuit, with several high-speed chicanes, considerable elevation changes, and some hard braking points. The track surface is well worn and poses its own set of challenges for the control systems, particularly early in the weekend. This lower grip level, combined with the chicane kerbs, forces us to focus on damping and the third spring set-ups in both the front and rear suspension.

"There have been some small changes to the circuit, making Turns 11 and 12 tighter. It is a difficult area to simulate, and because of the kerbs, we believe it will slow the cars by approximately 1.5 seconds per lap and, of course, increase brake energy slightly. We were pleased with the results of the Silverstone test week.

"We feel we made significant progress with the Bridgestone tyres and also tested development aero parts that our simulation predicts will give us improved performance. In addition, we now fully understand the problem that caused Tiago's retirement in Australia and have a fix tested and in place."
 
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San Marino preview quotes: Super Aguri

Takuma Sato: "The start of the European season means that the team will be in its new motorhome, which will be exciting to see.

"Following the two-week break the team is now refreshed and looking forward to the San Marino Grand Prix. Imola is a unique circuit - classic and narrow with a bumpy surface. We use a lot of kerb throughout the race, so car set-up is very important. The weather is often cold which makes the driving conditions very different from the first races of the season.

"Our car has good straight-line speed, but the chicanes and high-speed corners will make this race another challenge for us."

Yuji Ide: "I am disappointed that I was not able to drive during the test in Barcelona last week as I really need to complete more miles and spend more time learning the car.

"I want to finish the next race as I did in Australia and hopefully be able to run a little faster. It is my first European race so I am looking forward to it and have been studying the Imola circuit during the break."

Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: "After three fly away races I am sure that the team members were glad to return home.

"In the time we have had back in the UK we have been able to work on the car and participate in an important test in Barcelona. The team was not able to complete its entire programme but was able to achieve a greater understanding of the SA05 as this was the car's first full testing programme.

"So I am content with our progress as the team flies to Italy for its first European race."
 
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Thursday's press conference - San Marino

Participating:: Vitantonio Liuzzi (Toro Rosso), Nico Rosberg (Williams), Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), Jarno Trulli (Toyota).

Q. Nico, how much of a difference does knowing this circuit make to you?

Nico Rosberg: I think it's going to help me, for sure. Just coming here often makes you more comfortable, you know what's awaiting you, you can go out and you can push straight away, you don't have to find your way around for the first few laps. So I think that's going to be a bit of a help for me, for sure.

Q. You've obviously shown speed during the first few races, but the reliability hasn't been so hot; what are your feelings about that coming to this race?

NR: Yeah. We've worked flat out on the reliability, especially in the factory and also in testing and everything. I think we've made some good progress but in the end, we are just going to have to wait and see if we last the race.

Q. What have you been up to since the last race; you didn't do any testing...

NR: I've had a bit of relaxation, actually. I had a nice Easter with the family and everything. It was very nice. It was good to get away from racing also for a couple of days.

Q. So are you ready to come back?

NR: Ah, for sure, now, ready, on it, I feel good and really looking forward to this weekend.

Q. Tonio, is the motorhome big enough?

Vitantonio Liuzzi: It's not big enough, I think, we can make it better! No, compared to last year it's a big improvement but now there are two families living in it so maybe the one from last year was a bit small. I think Red Bull have shown again how strong they are in this kind of job and they did really good things with the big motorhome, the big tree house for the engineers. I think we have got a lot of space to play with.

Q. You mean for girlfriends…

VL: Both.

Q. Tonio, since the last race you've tested for Red Bull Racing as well. How did you find that?

VL: I was really happy because I tested a V8 engine for the first time and I definitely saw the technical difference between the two, and I was really impressed by the difference and how to utilise the two engines. The Red Bull car was pretty interesting because it was quite a big step into the ex-RB1. They did a really good job and the car is really good.

Regarding the engine, I think the V8 is different, it has got a really short range of torque but in the areas where it works I think it is really strong, so I don't think that, as many reports said, that the V10 can be an advantage because I felt the V8 was really strong in that range. For sure, it is a little bit different in the bottom slower corners but after, when you pick up the right revs, I have to say that it has big power.

So I was pretty impressed about the car, especially because I think the team did a really good job developing the RB2 and now I think they will soon be getting the results they deserve.

Q. What about your teammate? He's been pretty quick in the first three races. Is he pushing you a little bit?

VL: Yeah, he's doing a good job, I think. He's a rookie and he can be quick in qualifying, especially he can make some good laps. But he needs to work a little bit on the consistency but in Formula One you don't get into it in a few races, you need to learn experience and cover kilometres so I think he's doing some good performances but for sure he's still got a lot to learn.

Q. Jarno, have you recovered from your ear infection that you suffered in Australia?

Jarno Trulli: Slowly, but yes. I'm actually still recovering but I feel much better now.

Q. How does it affect you, because very often the ear affects balance?

JT: Yeah, effectively it was imbalance if I could keep my ears open. As soon as I could close them, it was OK so I spent most of my time with my ears closed, so I couldn't hear much but I was well balanced and I was actually feeling better.

Q. But you feel OK for this race?

JT: Yeah, I have felt OK for the last week. I've been taking some specific antibiotics which only affect the ears and now it's definitely a good step.

Q. Your teammate scored a podium in Australia; what sort of effect has that had on the team?

JT: It was definitely a good boost for the team because after a slow start at the beginning, we needed a bit of a result and now the results are coming and we are definitely moving forwards because Ralf's podium showed that the performance can be reached during a test weekend. And during the last (test) session at Barcelona I showed very good performance, always topping the time (sheets) and this is definitely giving the team a good boost.

Q. But at the same time, you've lost the technical director.

JT: Yeah, this is part of Formula One: people coming and people going and that's what happened with Mike.

Q. Is that going to have an effect on the team?

JT: At the moment, no. He hasn't really been replaced because Pascal Vasselon has replaced him for the moment before they take a long term decision but in the end, there were a lot of people working behind Mike who have done great things for the team. But anyway, he has also created a lot of people around him, helping him do his job, so at the moment the situation is under control.

Q. Michael, this was probably your strongest race last year; how do you feel about this year? It was also a good circuit for Bridgestone.

Michael Schumacher: Yeah, I'm not sure what it was worth last year. It's important to see what we can do this year, and the more information we have, we believe pretty strongly that we can be very competitive here.

Q. You have a new engine here; how important is it for you, drivers, to have a new engine for this race in particular, given the developments that will have come through from the first three races?

MS: Obviously we have a new engine spec which gives you extra performance. It doesn't really matter whether this engine is then one or two races old because it is always planned to be for two races and should have equal performance for the first and the second race.

So we're pretty happy that we have been able to bring this engine here and yeah, it's a step forward, but it was pretty much planned anyway to have it. It wasn't planned to have it for here, in a way, because naturally we would have raced the same engine here as we did in Australia - but that's the way it is.

Q. Do you think we will see a slightly strange race because some people have got the old engines and some have the new spec engines?

MS: Not at all because the spec changes are pretty minimal. We can't talk about big steps – not on the engine side anyway, so I don't think it makes a big difference, plus, as I said, teams really should have an engine which is as good for the first as it is for the second race.

Q. There's been some talk about Ferrari introducing a seamless shift gearboxes, which I believe you are very keen on. Is that the case?

MS: We are developing one certainly, but when to use it? We don't know. We know the worth of it but we don't want to lose races over it.

Q. One of the engineers for a team that does have a seamless shift thinks it will be worth 0.4 seconds a lap at Imola.

MS: I think that if he believes in that, then great.

Q. There's been speculation on when you might make up your mind about next year. Have you got anything to add to what you've already said?

MS: No.

Questions From The Floor

Q. (Marco Evangelisti, Corriere dello Sport) – Michael, Ross Brawn has said that this is not a decisive race but a key one. Do you agree?

MS: I agree in that every race from now on is very important. We took our jokers already unfortunately at an early time of the year. From now on we have to make up ground for the points that we lost through problems at the first three races.

Q. (Ottavio Daviddi, Tuttosport) - Michael, when do you think you will announce you will stay with Ferrari next year?

MS: I'm pretty sure that once a decision is taken, we'll inform everybody who is willing to listen. I haven't set a specific day or time of the day to make my decision, honestly.

Q. (James Allen, ITV) – The kerbs have always been important at Imola. I've only just arrived, but I've noticed a few of the big kerbs have been taken away and it seems a few of the teams didn't expect that to happen. What did you know about the plans to remove the kerbs and what do you think it will mean for Sunday?

MS: Basically, the change of one chicane and therefore two kerbs was known to all of us who wanted to listen. As I said, it's one corner with two kerbs. All the other kerbs are still there.

Q. Which corner is that?

MS: Variante Alta.

Q. (Juha Paatalo, Financial Times, Germany) – Michael, regarding the start of season, how important is it psychologically for the team to have a good result here?

MS: It is always good to have good result, but it won't break us, whatever happens here. There have been people putting words in my mouth that this is a crucial race but it's not. It's an important race, but not a crucial one, and whatever happens will happen. We trust in our people and our package and it's time to stop talking about it – it's time to show it.

Q. (Frederic Ferret, L'Equipe) - Michael, what improvements have you made in testing between Australia and today?

MS: We made a step forward on the car, so it will be interesting to see who made the biggest one.

Q. (James Allen, ITV) – I was talking to Jackie Stewart over the last three races, and he achieved a lot in his career. He said that when you have a huge career, full of success, it's very important to end it on a high. Do you agree with that?

MS: Not really. It would be nice if you do so, but everybody has different priorities and other characters and I believe nothing matters as long as you enjoy it. I always enjoy winning races to losing them.

Q. (Juha Paatalo, Financial Times Deutschland) Michael, the enjoying factor. How was last year?

MS: Mixed. Very mixed. Honestly there were some very frustrating races, which were not good, and some enjoyable and interesting races – and not necessarily the ones where I finished on the podium. Take Monte Carlo. I really enjoyed that race – I had fun.
 
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FIA decides on 12 teams for 2008

Motor racing's governing body has made its decision about the 12 teams who have been grated entries to the 2008 Formula One world championship, autosport.com has learned.

A public announcement revealing the elected outfits, however, will not be made until next week.

The FIA have spent the last week examining details of the 22 teams that lodged their applications last month in a bid to finalise their entry list.

Although an information-gathering meeting with all the prospective entrants, scheduled for shortly after the Australian Grand Prix, had to be cancelled, the FIA subsequently asked for details from each team about their plans, including infrastructure and budget projections, for 2008.

These dossiers had to be delivered to the FIA by the middle of last week and, following examination of that information, the decision has now been taken about who will be on the list.

Although the 12 successful teams have not yet been informed about their entries, sources have revealed that those outfits whose entries have been rejected have been written to.

It is believed that all of the current 11 teams have been granted an entry to the 2008 championship - which means that just one slot is available for a new team.

The favourite outfit to grab that position is David Richards' Prodrive organisation, who are hoping to base their F1 team at a new factory they are building at Honiley in Warwickshire.

Prodrive certainly appear to be ramping up their plans for 2008. According to a report in this week's Autosport, Prodrive are chasing a deal for customer Cosworth engines for 2008 in their bid to be as competitive as possible for their entry.

Richards said: "We're entirely serious about this. Most other people have applied by the seat of their pants, but we have had meetings with Bernie Ecclestone and other very senior figures.

"But there's no point in wasting a lot of energy and expense until we hear."

Richards was unavailable for comment on Thursday, however, to confirm whether his team had been granted the entry.

The other strong contender for the 12th slot is Carlin Motorsport, who had hoped to base their operation out of the old Penske factory at Poole in Dorset, which they are planning to buy.

Team boss Trevor Carlin was also unavailable for comment but told autosport.com last week that his entry did have the blessing of FIA president Max Mosley - who has been in close contact with the team about their F1 aspirations.

"I spoke to Max before we put the entry in," said Carlin. "I had the entry form on my desk, and I sent him a fax saying I was going to call him to outline our plans that afternoon, because I knew he was going to be in the office.

"I wanted to ask him if I was going to waste my time or his time or not, and he actually called us. He said, 'no, I would like you to do it. We feel that you are one of the right teams for this and please put your entry in.' That was it. We sent it off and now we are waiting."

The official entry list for 2008 will be published by the FIA on April 28, in a bid to allow those teams who are competing a chance to join discussions aimed at framing the rules package for that season.
 
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TWG decides against new flexi-wing tests

Formula One appears to have drawn a line under the early season flexi-wing controversy, after technical directors agreed on Wednesday that there was no need for any change in regulations or testing this year.

After the issue flared up at the Malaysian Grand Prix, when eight teams threatened to protest Ferrari over their front and rear wings, there had been fears that the matter would overshadow the close fighting on the track.

But after the FIA intervened to avert the protest in Sepang, and after informally requesting modifications to the wings of Ferrari, McLaren and BMW, there had been suggestions that more stringent tests may be required to ensure no teams were exploiting the situation.

The issue was on the agenda at Wednesday's meeting of Formula One thinktank the Technical Working Group and, after discussions between the teams and the FIA, it was felt that the situation was under control enough for no action to be needed to be taken this season.

One source at the meeting said: "I think everyone left Melbourne feeling that the wing situation was in hand and that no further action was needed this year."

However, there is likely to be some changes to the regulations for next year in relation to the slot-gap of the rear wing to further ensure that teams do not try to benefit from flexi-parts.

The TWG also did not get involved in the debate over the engine performance of Scuderia Toro Rosso's V10 engines.

Despite some teams complaining that the older power-units have an advantage over the current V8s, the matter was not discussed at length in the meeting.

The FIA are continuing to monitor the performance of the V10 and V8 engines, and have not ruled out restricting the V10s further if they believe that engines are more powerful than the V8s.
 
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