2006 San Marino Grand Prix - Race 4/18

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Special helmet for Fisico

Renault F1 driver and Italian, Giancarlo Fisichella, will have a special helmet for the upcoming San Marino Grand prix at Imola.

Fisichella hopes to score a victory in front of his home crowd this weekend.

The helmet is in red, white and green, the colours of the Italian flag.

fisihelmet.jpg
 
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New motorhome a big improvement says Liuzzi

One of the most talked about things in the San Marino paddock at the moment is the new enormous Red Bull Energy station that encompasses everything for not just Red Bull Racing’s needs, but also has more than enough room for their sister team, Scuderia Toro Rosso team. Speaking to the press here at Imola today, STR’s Tonio Liuzzi was quizzed on the massive structure as well as his recent test for Red Bull and his superfast teammate, Scott Speed….

Tonio, is the motorhome big enough?
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.

You mean for girlfriends…
Both.


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

What about your teammate? He’s been pretty quick in the first three races. Is he pushing you a little bit?
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.
 
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Alex Shainder hits back at the media

MF1's voice continues to ring out, this time from the lips of the team's owner Alex Shnaider. Today Alex has added to his team's press release and poured scorn on the recent negative stories. We have also heard today that MF1 have been received far more positively in the F1 paddock in San Marino.

From today's Globe & Mail (Canada's national newspaper):

'Despite the constant rumours, I have not sold the team' Midland boss Alex Shnaider takes the media to task and tries to quell the nasty gossip about his outfit's future

After more than a year of being the favourite target of the Formula One media, frustrated Midland F1 owner Alex Shnaider has decided it's time to fight back.

Since he bought the Jordan outfit, the Russian-born Canadian businessman has endured almost constant speculation about financial crises, staff unrest and his desire to get out of the sport.

"I wonder what their motivation is for spreading this bull****, and why they never seem to grow tired of publishing the same lies, over and over again.

"The fact is, despite the constant rumours, I have not sold the team and it continues to operate at a healthy level," Shnaider said.

"It's lazy, irresponsible journalism, and in the end, the lies only serve to damage their own credibility. The media writing these rumours should go back and analyze everything they wrote about us last year and see whether anything they reported happened."

The Midland Group chairman seems to have a point. Since buying the financially troubled Jordan outfit in January, 2005, and admittedly struggling through its first year, the team made significant investments in a number of areas before the current season.

It built an all-new car for 2006 with Italian chassis designer Dallara, introduced a new colour scheme and logo, rebranded the team as MF1 and developed plans to upgrade the wind tunnel facility in Brackley, U.K.

"I will continue investing in the team for as long as I'm passionate about competing in the sport, and given that I've loved F1 since my childhood, I don't see that enthusiasm fading any time soon," Shnaider said.

"It frustrates me when people say we're not investing in the team, because we've been investing non-stop since we bought it."

While Shnaider promised the team a budget of $100-million annually, it is a modest amount in a sport where top teams shell out five times as much to go racing. But Shnaider also made it clear that he doesn't enjoy spending his own cash to keep the team going and he wants it financially independent as quickly as possible.

Part of Midland's early cash problems arose from the debt load they inherited from Eddie Jordan when it bought the Irishman's 14-year-old team. While the team has almost finished sorting out the financial mess, the intense loyalties and cutthroat politics in the F1 paddock continue to wreak havoc in the team garage.

"Certain people we brought to the team and certain people we inherited with the team were detrimental to MF1's development because they were following their own agendas instead of promoting the team's interests," Shnaider said.

"Unfortunately, I can infer from the latest round of rumours that some of these people are still pursuing those agendas."

With the constant negative press making the search for additional sponsors and partners more difficult, hitting the break-even point may be farther down the road than anticipated.

Things got so bad that the team took the unprecedented step of responding to the rumours last week with an official statement that attempted to quell the gossip.

It didn't work. A day after the statement hit the media, reports circulated that GP2 team owner Alfonso de Orleans Bourbon planned to sit down with Shnaider this weekend in Imola and discuss buying Midland.

"Yes, that one I find quite amusing, actually. I spoke to this Spanish gentleman once, at last year's Turkish Grand Prix, because he wanted to introduce to me to someone who was interested in buying steel," Shnaider said.

"But we never spoke about the sale of the team -- not once. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if I was interested in buying a team, wouldn't it make sense for me to speak to the owners about it first, before going to the media?"

While he steadfastly denied the latest speculation of another possible buyer, Shnaider admitted that the team has received offers in the past, but they were all rejected.

It is thought that former F1 driver Eddie Irvine made an offer at last year's Monaco Grand Prix. Another rumoured suitor is former BAR-Honda owner Craig Pollock, who would not confirm whether he's spoken to Midland about a deal. "I guess funnier things have happened in life," he said when asked about buying the team.

Unfortunately for Shnaider, his willingness to discuss the team and its future may have been the starting point for much of the negative talk about the team.

Last year, when speculation began that he was unhappy with the way things were going, he made the rookie mistake of saying that the team would be sold if the right offer came along. The media latched on to it and have not let go, he insisted. "I made a comment to that effect last year and it keeps coming back to bite me, but I stand by what I said because it's common sense," he said.

"Even Ferrari could be sold tomorrow if someone would offer [parent company] Fiat enough money for it. The same is true for every team on the grid, without exception."
 
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Type_R said:
The man certainly knows how to spot talent :D

Have to say - that is the only picture I could find that I could post of her...

For a wonderbra model she sure likes getting them out.. :D

Simon/~Flibster
 
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BTW...

Like the new sig???

For this weekend only.. *and maybe next weekend too - although may have a Grand Prix Masters one for them*

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The new sig did kind of throw me a wee bit this morning but it's a nice touch. Good to see you've included Ratzenberger as usual, it's a shame he seems to get forgotten when that weekend is remembered.

GPM huh? Senna would have been eligible too this year (assuming he wasn't still racing) now that would be something.
 
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Prodrive coy on 2008 entry reports

Prodrive boss David Richards refused to confirm his team have been granted the 12th spot on the Formula One grid for the 2008 championship.

Formula One's governing body has chosen a 12th team to enter the sport in 2008 with the Prodrive company run by former BAR and Benetton boss Richards tipped as likely winners.

The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) had no comment but confirmed an announcement would be made next Friday.

Richards, contacted by Reuters on Friday, would not confirm or deny increasing speculation that he had secured the slot.

"We have heard rumours of letters flying around but we have been told that the formal announcement will come next Friday and we await that with bated breath," he said.

Former Minardi boss Paul Stoddart confirmed, however, that he had received a rejection letter from the International Automobile Federation (FIA).

"We got a 'not at this time but stay in touch' sort of letter," the Australian entrepreneur told Reuters by telephone from Britain.

A spokesman for the governing body, who received 22 applications from teams seeking to fill the 12 slots in the 2008 championship, said it would be inappropriate to comment on which teams had been successful.

However, paddock sources said the decision had been made, with the existing nine teams expected to be joined by Banbury-based Prodrive.

Other hopefuls seeking an entry had included Carlin Motorsport, run by former Jordan sporting director Trevor Carlin, who have won a series of British Formula Three titles.

Stoddart, who had hoped to resurrect the Minardi name after selling his team to Red Bull last year, said he had always considered Prodrive as the favourite from the moment that Richards confirmed the application.

"When I applied there were only six confirmed entries but it was pretty much a foregone conclusion once the entries were submitted by the manufacturers," he said.

The Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association (GPMA), the five carmakers who have been threatening their own rival series from 2008, have entered despite failing to nail down a new commercial agreement after 2007.

Stoddart said he was disappointed, but not surprised, to have been rejected but warned that he was not giving up hope entirely.

"It's not over until the fat lady sings and they (the manufacturers, governing body and Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone) have got to get through a very interesting round of negotiations yet," he said.

The FIA had set March 31 as the deadline for applications for 2008, when the rules are expected to change significantly to cut costs and allow smaller privately-run teams such as Prodrive to compete with the major manufacturers.

Damn - Stoddy's out. :(
 
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rpstewart said:
The new sig did kind of throw me a wee bit this morning but it's a nice touch. Good to see you've included Ratzenberger as usual, it's a shame he seems to get forgotten when that weekend is remembered.

GPM huh? Senna would have been eligible too this year (assuming he wasn't still racing) now that would be something.

Always nice to confuse people. :p

Considering doing a different sig for each race. :D Will keep me amused anyway while waiting for the work servers to come back to life.

Ratzenberger's accident was much worse than Senna's. And tbh, Senna should have walked away from his. Barrichello's accident was worse as well - he was lucky that he was only knocked unconcious. Also given the injured mechanics from the Minardi wheel, the debris going into the croud at the start - they were lucky to have only the 2 fatalities that weekend really. :(

Would have been great to see Senna, Prost, Mansell, Fittipaldi all racing each other. If Senna was still around we may well be seeing Berger in GPM as well. Would almost be like an old boys club. :D

Oh well...

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Great, so i don't get a proper home team again :(

Minardi better be back soon as i'm missing being able to support my local team :D
 
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Friday Free Practice 1.
Code:
[b]Pos	No	Driver			Team			Time[/b]
1	5	Michael Schumacher	Ferrari			1:24.751		
2	35	Alexander Wurz		Williams-Cosworth	1:25.132		
3	38	Robert Kubica		Sauber-BMW		1:25.942		
4	36	Anthony Davidson	Honda			1:26.012		
5	8	Jarno Trulli		Toyota			1:26.417		
6	37	Robert Doornbos		RBR-Ferrari		1:26.498		
7	6	Felipe Massa		Ferrari			1:26.596		
8	14	David Coulthard		RBR-Ferrari		1:26.678		
9	3	Kimi Räikkönen		McLaren-Mercedes	1:26.938		
10	19	Christijan Albers	MF1-Toyota		1:28.048		
11	21	Scott Speed		STR-Cosworth		1:28.498		
12	39	Giorgio Mondini 	MF1-Toyota		1:28.969		
13	15	Christian Klien 	RBR-Ferrari		1:29.106		
14	40	Neel Jani 		STR-Cosworth		1:29.695		
15	18	Tiago Monteiro 		MF1-Toyota		1:29.697		
16	20	Vitantonio Liuzzi 	STR-Cosworth		1:30.348		
17	22	Takuma Sato Super 	Aguri-Honda		1:31.217		
18	23	Yuji Ide Super 		Aguri-Honda		1:31.482		
19	1	Fernando Alonso 	Renault				
20	7	Ralf Schumacher 	Toyota				
21	2	Giancarlo Fisichella 	Renault				
22	4	Juan Pablo Montoya 	McLaren-Mercedes				
23	16	Nick Heidfeld 		Sauber-BMW				
24	17	Jacques Villeneuve 	Sauber-BMW				
25	11	Rubens Barrichello 	Honda				
26	9	Mark Webber 		Williams-Cosworth				
27	10	Nico Rosberg 		Williams-Cosworth				
28	12	Jenson Button 		Honda

Sector Times - Free Practice 1

Code:
[b]Sector 1[/b]
[b]Pos	No	Driver			Time[/b]
1	5	Michael Schumacher	23.793 
2	35	Alexander Wurz		24.196 
3	36	Anthony Davidson	24.281 
4	6	Felipe Massa		24.320 
5	38	Robert Kubica		24.342 
6	14	David Coulthard		24.420 
7	8	Jarno Trulli		24.430 
8	37	Robert Doornbos		24.466 
9	3	Kimi Räikkönen		24.609 
10	15	Christian Klien		25.109 
11	19	Christijan Albers	25.124 
12	21	Scott Speed		25.157 
13	39	Giorgio Mondini		25.241 
14	40	Neel Jani		25.264 
15	20	Vitantonio Liuzzi	25.304 
16	18	Tiago Monteiro		25.475 
17	22	Takuma Sato		25.858 
18	23	Yuji Ide		26.182 
19	1	Fernando Alonso		715.417 
20	2	Giancarlo Fisichella	883.260

Code:
[b]Sector 2 [/b]
[b]Pos	No	Driver			Time[/b]
1	5	Michael Schumacher	27.273 
2	35	Alexander Wurz		27.588 
3	36	Anthony Davidson	27.694 
4	37	Robert Doornbos		27.740 
5	38	Robert Kubica		27.870 
6	3	Kimi Räikkönen		28.058 
7	6	Felipe Massa		28.118 
8	8	Jarno Trulli		28.128 
9	14	David Coulthard		28.209 
10	19	Christijan Albers	28.535 
11	21	Scott Speed		28.758 
12	39	Giorgio Mondini		28.777 
13	15	Christian Klien		28.981 
14	20	Vitantonio Liuzzi	29.073 
15	18	Tiago Monteiro		29.081 
16	40	Neel Jani		29.142 
17	1	Fernando Alonso		29.253 
18	23	Yuji Ide		29.667 
19	22	Takuma Sato		29.741 
20	2	Giancarlo Fisichella	29.852 
21	7	Ralf Schumacher		36.208 
22	17	Jacques Villeneuve	37.230 
23	16	Nick Heidfeld		37.303 
24	4	Juan Pablo Montoya	38.281 
25	11	Rubens Barrichello	42.890

Code:
[b]Sector 3 [/b]
[b]Pos	No	Driver			Time[/b]
1	35	Alexander Wurz		33.299 
2	38	Robert Kubica		33.628 
3	5	Michael Schumacher	33.685 
4	8	Jarno Trulli		33.759 
5	14	David Coulthard		33.851 
6	36	Anthony Davidson	33.951 
7	37	Robert Doornbos		33.996 
8	6	Felipe Massa		34.158 
9	3	Kimi Räikkönen		34.271 
10	19	Christijan Albers	34.382 
11	21	Scott Speed		34.583 
12	15	Christian Klien		34.770 
13	39	Giorgio Mondini		34.937 
14	40	Neel Jani		35.034 
15	18	Tiago Monteiro		35.044 
16	23	Yuji Ide		35.464 
17	22	Takuma Sato		35.618 
18	20	Vitantonio Liuzzi	35.624 
19	7	Ralf Schumacher		43.331 
20	4	Juan Pablo Montoya	44.439 
21	16	Nick Heidfeld		44.451 
22	17	Jacques Villeneuve	47.506 
23	2	Giancarlo Fisichella	48.772 
24	1	Fernando Alonso		50.860 
25	11	Rubens Barrichello	61.565

Speed Trap

Code:
[b]Pos	No	Driver			Time		Speed[/b]
1	5	Michael Schumacher	11:59:58	290.0 
2	6	Felipe Massa		11:58:07	289.6 
3	38	Robert Kubica		11:55:33	289.2 
4	8	Jarno Trulli		11:55:57	283.9 
5	35	Alexander Wurz		11:15:24	283.7 
6	36	Anthony Davidson	11:57:00	283.1 
7	22	Takuma Sato		12:00:15	282.7 
8	39	Giorgio Mondini		11:49:00	282.5 
9	3	Kimi Räikkönen		11:58:43	282.0 
10	37	Robert Doornbos		11:56:42	281.9 
11	23	Yuji Ide		11:57:30	281.9 
12	20	Vitantonio Liuzzi	11:57:06	281.8 
13	21	Scott Speed		11:56:32	281.3 
14	18	Tiago Monteiro		11:56:46	280.7 
15	15	Christian Klien		11:57:11	280.4 
16	14	David Coulthard		11:56:55	279.2 
17	40	Neel Jani		11:39:16	278.4 
18	19	Christijan Albers	11:56:16	276.3 
19	2	Giancarlo Fisichella	11:49:24	271.7 
20	17	Jacques Villeneuve	11:53:33	257.0 
21	4	Juan Pablo Montoya	11:40:28	246.4 
22	16	Nick Heidfeld		11:48:20	231.0 
23	7	Ralf Schumacher		11:32:22	229.1 
24	1	Fernando Alonso		11:53:56	221.9 
25	11	Rubens Barrichello	11:54:46	116.9
 
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Friday Free Practice 2.
Code:
[b]Pos	No	Driver			Team			Time[/b]
1	1	Fernando Alonso 	Renault			1:25.043		
2	5	Michael Schumacher 	Ferrari			1:25.371		
3	38	Robert Kubica 		Sauber-BMW		1:25.421		
4	36	Anthony Davidson 	Honda			1:25.699		
5	6	Felipe Massa 		Ferrari			1:25.879		
6	2	Giancarlo Fisichella 	Renault			1:25.991		
7	8	Jarno Trulli 		Toyota			1:26.029		
8	35	Alexander Wurz 		Williams-Cosworth	1:26.328		
9	4	Juan Pablo Montoya 	McLaren-Mercedes	1:26.334		
10	16	Nick Heidfeld 		Sauber-BMW		1:26.387		
11	12	Jenson Button 		Honda			1:26.427		
12	3	Kimi Räikkönen 		McLaren-Mercedes	1:26.500		
13	11	Rubens Barrichello	Honda			1:26.653		
14	19	Christijan Albers 	MF1-Toyota		1:26.783		
15	17	Jacques Villeneuve 	Sauber-BMW		1:26.797		
16	37	Robert Doornbos 	RBR-Ferrari		1:26.917		
17	10	Nico Rosberg 		Williams-Cosworth	1:26.989		
18	20	Vitantonio Liuzzi 	STR-Cosworth		1:27.128		
19	9	Mark Webber 		Williams-Cosworth	1:27.157		
20	14	David Coulthard 	RBR-Ferrari		1:27.503		
21	18	Tiago Monteiro 		MF1-Toyota		1:27.544		
22	7	Ralf Schumacher 	Toyota			1:27.639		
23	21	Scott Speed 		STR-Cosworth		1:27.719		
24	15	Christian Klien 	RBR-Ferrari		1:27.990		
25	40	Neel Jani 		STR-Cosworth		1:28.361		
26	39	Giorgio Mondini 	MF1-Toyota		1:28.833		
27	22	Takuma Sato Super 	Aguri-Honda		1:29.870		
28	23	Yuji Ide Super 		Aguri-Honda		1:31.042

Sector Times - Free Practice 2

Code:
[b]Sector 1[/b]
[b]Pos	No	Driver			Time[/b]
1	1	Fernando Alonso		23.987 
2	5	Michael Schumacher	24.001 
3	6	Felipe Massa		24.107 
4	2	Giancarlo Fisichella	24.153 
5	38	Robert Kubica		24.214 
6	36	Anthony Davidson	24.239 
7	17	Jacques Villeneuve	24.350 
8	12	Jenson Button		24.355 
9	8	Jarno Trulli		24.372 
10	11	Rubens Barrichello	24.385 
11	35	Alexander Wurz		24.398 
12	4	Juan Pablo Montoya	24.400 
13	3	Kimi Räikkönen		24.404 
14	16	Nick Heidfeld		24.488 
15	19	Christijan Albers	24.561 
16	9	Mark Webber		24.579 
17	10	Nico Rosberg		24.612 
18	7	Ralf Schumacher		24.691 
19	20	Vitantonio Liuzzi	24.700 
20	37	Robert Doornbos		24.755 
21	21	Scott Speed		24.767 
22	14	David Coulthard		24.789 
23	15	Christian Klien		24.862 
24	40	Neel Jani		24.951 
25	18	Tiago Monteiro		24.986 
26	39	Giorgio Mondini		25.026 
27	22	Takuma Sato		25.532 
28	23	Yuji Ide		26.002

Code:
[b]Sector 2 [/b]
[b]Pos	No	Driver			Time[/b]
1	5	Michael Schumacher	27.745 
2	38	Robert Kubica		27.912 
3	36	Anthony Davidson	27.961 
4	8	Jarno Trulli		27.969 
5	1	Fernando Alonso		27.972 
6	16	Nick Heidfeld		28.015 
7	6	Felipe Massa		28.028 
8	12	Jenson Button		28.088 
9	35	Alexander Wurz		28.099 
10	37	Robert Doornbos		28.101 
11	4	Juan Pablo Montoya	28.130 
12	2	Giancarlo Fisichella	28.148 
13	11	Rubens Barrichello	28.171 
14	3	Kimi Räikkönen		28.206 
15	19	Christijan Albers	28.327 
16	18	Tiago Monteiro		28.352 
17	9	Mark Webber		28.438 
18	17	Jacques Villeneuve	28.458 
19	20	Vitantonio Liuzzi	28.465 
20	10	Nico Rosberg		28.466 
21	7	Ralf Schumacher		28.497 
22	21	Scott Speed		28.605 
23	40	Neel Jani		28.616 
24	14	David Coulthard		28.634 
25	39	Giorgio Mondini		28.657 
26	15	Christian Klien		28.774 
27	22	Takuma Sato		29.236 
28	23	Yuji Ide		29.511

Code:
[b]Sector 3 [/b]
[b]Pos	No	Driver			Time[/b]
1	1	Fernando Alonso		33.084 
2	38	Robert Kubica		33.286 
3	36	Anthony Davidson	33.499 
4	5	Michael Schumacher	33.508 
5	6	Felipe Massa		33.650 
6	3	Kimi Räikkönen		33.666 
7	8	Jarno Trulli		33.688 
8	2	Giancarlo Fisichella	33.690 
9	12	Jenson Button		33.703 
10	35	Alexander Wurz		33.704 
11	37	Robert Doornbos		33.764 
12	4	Juan Pablo Montoya	33.804 
13	16	Nick Heidfeld		33.837 
14	14	David Coulthard		33.859 
15	20	Vitantonio Liuzzi	33.884 
16	19	Christijan Albers	33.895 
17	10	Nico Rosberg		33.911 
18	17	Jacques Villeneuve	33.989 
19	11	Rubens Barrichello	34.074 
20	9	Mark Webber		34.080 
21	18	Tiago Monteiro		34.178 
22	15	Christian Klien		34.217 
23	7	Ralf Schumacher		34.293 
24	21	Scott Speed		34.312 
25	39	Giorgio Mondini		34.455 
26	40	Neel Jani		34.539 
27	22	Takuma Sato		35.005 
28	23	Yuji Ide		35.284

Speed Trap

Code:
[b]Pos	No	Driver			Time		Speed[/b]
1	5	Michael Schumacher	14:59:40	293.4 
2	6	Felipe Massa		14:18:54	292.6 
3	1	Fernando Alonso		14:58:37	289.2 
4	38	Robert Kubica		14:33:27	289.1 
5	4	Juan Pablo Montoya	14:56:48	288.8 
6	2	Giancarlo Fisichella	15:00:48	287.4 
7	16	Nick Heidfeld		14:52:46	286.6 
8	17	Jacques Villeneuve	14:59:50	286.4 
9	36	Anthony Davidson	14:08:59	284.9 
10	22	Takuma Sato		14:59:55	284.8 
11	39	Giorgio Mondini		14:56:41	284.4 
12	35	Alexander Wurz		14:19:21	284.1 
13	37	Robert Doornbos		14:55:50	284.1 
14	12	Jenson Button		14:56:29	283.1 
15	20	Vitantonio Liuzzi	14:53:51	282.9 
16	3	Kimi Räikkönen		14:57:38	282.9 
17	11	Rubens Barrichello	14:53:42	282.5 
18	23	Yuji Ide		14:53:58	282.1 
19	8	Jarno Trulli		14:56:47	281.9 
20	10	Nico Rosberg		15:00:19	281.7 
21	21	Scott Speed		14:04:42	281.2 
22	9	Mark Webber		14:56:53	280.4 
23	15	Christian Klien		14:53:39	280.1 
24	14	David Coulthard		14:54:50	279.9 
25	18	Tiago Monteiro		14:52:01	279.5 
26	40	Neel Jani		14:46:44	279.2 
27	19	Christijan Albers	14:46:33	279.2 
28	7	Ralf Schumacher		14:33:25	277.1
 
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GPMA on the verge of signing up for F1

Formula One's manufacturers are on the verge of signing the Concorde Agreement to commit themselves to Grand Prix racing until the end of 2012 after the latest round of talks at Imola aimed at securing the sport's future.

Although the five members of the Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association (GPMA) have so far been unable to reach commercial terms with supremo Bernie Ecclestone, sources have revealed that meetings have taken place at this weekend's San Marino Grand Prix that could result in an imminent agreement.

Renault boss Flavio Briatore has been acting on behalf of the manufacturers in talks with Ecclestone and the sport's commercial owners CVC Capital Partners, which has been represented by Donald MacKenzie.

This has resulted in the latest offer being put on the table for the manufacturers to consider. This was due to be considered in a GPMA meeting that was taking place at Imola on Friday evening.

The five manufacturers have agreed to act in unison with regards to the sport's future, which means that they will either all sign the deal that has been offered to them or they will all reject it.

However, Renault boss Flavio Briatore told autosport.com that he was happy with what was now being offered to the teams and was ready to sign the deal.

"We are going to sign with Bernie, yes," he said. "But I haven't signed yet...I don't have a pen. We want to sign it as soon as possible."

Briatore would be unable to sign the deal if the other members of the GPMA - BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Toyota - decided that the terms were not acceptable.

Ecclestone himself said he was not getting overtly optimistic about a deal that would bring a final end to the threat of a breakaway championship.

When asked about whether he was confident a deal would happen imminently, he said: "I am confident when something happens. When people say they have paid a bill, I only believe it when the money is in the bank. Up until then it is conversation, so we will see.

"They are having a meeting again, but they have meetings all the time. I have said to them, 'look at all the money you have spent on mineral water in these meetings, that is more than you want anyway.'"

Ecclestone's original offer to the teams was for a share of 60 percent of the sport's commercial revenue.

"What we've offered they can take it or leave it. That is not being rude. What has been offered is all that is being offered. I think they are happy to be honest."

Speaking about whether he believed a deal could be done this week, he said: "I've no idea. I don't know. With these people it should have been two years ago."
 
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