2006 San Marino Grand Prix - Race 4/18

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San Marino: Post-Race Notes - Super Aguri

It was a disappointing end to a promising race weekend for the Super Aguri. Following an early collision with Christian Albers which damaged his front-left suspension, Yuji Ide later suffered a mechanical failure ending his race on lap 23. Takuma Sato drove a solid race once again and the team executed his pitstops with rapid precision. Unfortunately, his race ended prematurely at turn 15 on lap 44 resulting in the team's first double DNF of the season.

Takuma Sato: "It is disappointing not to finish the race as we have had no reliability issues all weekend. I had a reasonable start to the race and I was able to make up a position, but the car was lacking in pace so I could not improve any further. The boys have done a really great job all weekend and we have made good progress so we shall just keep working hard to improve our performance."

Yuji Ide: "I didn't think I was pushing too hard at the start, but when I was exiting the second chicane Albers was the one on the racing line and I could not avoid contacting his car. After the contact the car was not stable in the corners and my front-left suspension was damaged. I later had a rear suspension problem and had to retire from the race. My lap times were a little faster this weekend, so I want to keep my rhythm and do better in the next race."

Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: "I knew that this would be a tough race as the circuit here makes conditions difficult for us. The team was very excited coming to Italy and has tried its best to get a good result for the first European grand prix. I know that our performance level is not high at the moment, but I see the team and drivers working very hard, so I regret that we have not been able to provide them with a new car as yet. Until we introduce the SA06 we will face a hard time, but we have very high spirits and I believe that the team will continue to do its best."
 
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San Marino: Post-Race Notes - McLaren

Team McLaren Mercedes driver Juan Pablo Montoya finished today's San Marino Grand Prix in third place, 15.8 seconds behind race winner Michael Schumacher. Team mate Kimi Raikkonen came home in fifth place. Juan Pablo made his pit stops on laps 23 (7.7 seconds) and 44 (7.5 seconds). Kimi was also on a two-stop-strategy and pitted on laps 22 (8.6 seconds) and 47 (6.6 seconds). The Mercedes-Benz Safety Car was deployed for one lap after the first couple of corners following an incident between Christian Albers and Yuji Ide. Kimi is now third in the Drivers' Championship with 18 points. Juan Pablo has 15 points and is fifth with the same points score as Giancarlo Fisichella. Team McLaren Mercedes remains second in the Constructors' rankings with 33 points. The team will test at the Silverstone Circuit in England this coming week with both Kimi and Juan Pablo in action as well as test driver Pedro de la Rosa in preparation for the next round of the 2006 Formula One World Championship at the Nürburgring.

Juan Pablo Montoya: "I'm pleased with today's race and that we managed to get a podium position and some important Championship points. I made a good start off the line but was squeezed by traffic going into the first chicane and had to lift in order to avoid an incident. I then got stuck in traffic which cost me some time. I think it was clear as the race progressed that we had qualified on quite a heavy fuel load, but we were really able to take advantage of our strategy during the race. The guys did a great job in the pit stops which helped, but once I was in clear air the leaders were already about 13 seconds ahead, and it was too late for me. The focus was then just to bring the car back and get third place and some points. Everybody has been working hard for the past couple of weeks, and I think we have definitely made some progress with our package, I can't wait for the rest of the season and hopefully winning some races soon."

Kimi Raikkonen: "I was not entirely happy with my car today and wasn't able to really go for it. My start was not very good and I lost a couple of positions, and then traffic hampered my progress during the first half of the race. After the second stop the car improved quite a bit and became easier to drive and I could start pushing again. However I got stuck behind Felipe Massa and to overtake here at Imola is virtually impossible as we could see in the race today. We can leave Imola with some points which is important and I now look forward to the next race in Germany."

Ron Dennis: "Juan Pablo had a relatively uneventful race. He made a good start but lost of some the advantage when he was squeezed coming into the first corner. However his strategy unfolded well and a fully deserved third place. Kimi's race was badly influenced by a rare mistake in qualifying which cost him some grid positions and was further compounded by him not making a particularly good start. However he drove in a disciplined manner to pick up valuable points for himself and the team. We could have raced a little harder but suffered badly from traffic. Everybody is now looking forward to the Silverstone test next week and the European Grand Prix – both of which should see us move further forward in our competitiveness and World Championship objectives."

Norbert Haug: "A difficult race after an unsatisfactory qualifying during which Juan Pablo and Kimi improved to third and fifth respectively starting from seven and eighth. Once they were out of traffic, which hampered the progress of both drivers during the first half of the race, they showed that the pace was there. Again we demonstrated reliability in the race. We will continue to improve our performance and are looking forward to the first of Mercedes' two home Grands Prix at the Nürburgring in two weeks time."
 
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San Marino: Post-Race Notes - Honda

The Honda Racing F1 Team's Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello ended today's San Marino Grand Prix in 7th and 10th positions after pitstop problems overshadowed a good step forward in car race speed. After lining up on the 1st and 2nd rows of the grid, Jenson maintained position through the opening lap whilst Rubens got a bad start and lost two places. During the opening stint of the race, both cars demonstrated good pace and confirmed a sound strategy, but the team went on to encounter a series of problems in the pits.

At Rubens' first pitstop his fuel rig failed to deliver so the team rapidly switched to Jenson's rig. At Jenson's first stop there was a problem with the right rear wheel nut and then in his second stop the lollipop was lifted momentarily before the fuel nozzle was disconnected. As the car pulled away, a number of mechanics were hit by the fuel hose and knocked over. Some fuel was spilt, but thankfully no one was seriously hurt and fire extinguishers were instantly on stand-by but fortunately were not required.

Jenson Button: "There is no doubt that we missed out on the chance of a podium today as the car was quick and we had a good strategy. I had a problem at the first pitstop with the right rear wheel going on and then in the second pitstop the lollipop was raised before the fuel hose was disconnected. Unfortunately when that happens, it takes all of the pit crew with it. The Chief Mechanic has lifted the lollipop perfectly hundreds of times before and I know he'll make sure this never happens again. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt and I know the boys will be back giving it their all at the next race. Today has been disappointing but we had the pace and we have certainly moved forward a lot since Australia. We've said this many times before but we just have to stay focused and keep pushing."

Rubens Barrichello: "It was disappointing for us today at the end of what has been a strong weekend. I had a bad start and then lost a lot of time at my first pit stop. The nozzle failed and the team had to switch me to the other one. The pace of the car was okay, particularly on the first run, but it was a bit more difficult in the middle section. The lack of pace was due to the rear tyres locking; even though the brakes have got a lot better, the rears were locking on new tyres. However, the balance of the car is better so we are getting stronger, we just need to work hard at the areas which are catching us out. If it wasn't for the problems with fuelling today, I could have finished in the top six. The team is working well and we're much happier with the tyre-warming issues, so we should make a fresh start in Nürburgring in two weeks."

Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "Needless to say this was a difficult day for us when unfortunately it all went wrong in the pits. On his first stop, Rubens had a fuel rig failure and on Jenson's second stop the problems were more dramatic but thankfully no one was hurt as a result of the incident. We are certainly all disappointed with the final results, however if we had not had such an uncharacteristically bad day in the pits we would most likely have been fighting for a podium position. Our car pace this weekend was competitive and it is onwards and upwards to the Nürburgring now."

Shuhei Nakamoto: Management Board Member - Honda Racing F1 Team, Engineering Director - Honda Racing Development: "Overall the race was disappointing today. We have not been able to get the best out of the car or ourselves this weekend so we have to refocus for the Nürburgring in two weeks."
 
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San Marino: Post-Race Notes - Bridgestone

Bridgestone shod Michael Schumacher claimed a well earned San Marino Grand Prix victory from pole position today in front of thousands of Italian tifosi. It was his 85th career win and the 96th win taken by a Bridgestone driver since entering in 1997. Schumacher's Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro teammate Felipe Massa finished in fourth, giving the team 15 constructors' points. Michael Schumacher moves up the driver rankings to second. Next up for Bridgestone was Mark Webber who drove a very solid race on his latest specification Bridgestone tyres. He finished sixth for his WilliamsF1 team, three places ahead of fellow Bridgestone runner Ralf Schumacher for Panasonic Toyota Racing. Nico Rosberg crossed the line in 11th while Tiago Monteiro finished 16th for his MF1 Racing team. It was a frustrating day for Jarno Trulli who, after qualifying in the top ten yesterday, unfortunately retired with a steering column problem. MF1's Christijan Albers did not complete a lap after contact with another car sent him rolling but a “thumbs up” from the Dutch driver afterwards indicated he will be eager to make amends at the next race. Neither Super Aguri F1 driver finished the race, a frustrating end for them.

Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager of Bridgestone Motorsport: I'm delighted to see a Bridgestone driver back on the top step of the podium. It was a tough race today but Michael managed to keep Alonso behind to take the win. It has been some time since our last win. After all the hard work and effort our engineers and staff in Japan and the UK have put in over the last year and over the winter they deserve this win. However, we do not wish to get carried away. We need to keep focused on the job in hand. Our tyres have performed well in the weekend's practice sessions and qualifying and we saw some fast competitive lap times from several of our runners today. Three Bridgestone drivers finished in the top six. However, we learnt a lot from the race today and we need to analyse a couple of areas of our tyre performance to see if we can improve even further. We need to keep pushing and working hard if our teams are to continue to get good results.

Ross Brawn, Technical Director – Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro: Obviously we are delighted with this result. Winning in front of our fans is something very special. It was a hard race and the team did a fantastic job in Michael's final pit stop getting him out in front of Alonso. We struggled a bit in the second part of the race as we could not maintain the pace produced in the first stint. Michael drove perfectly to keep Alonso behind and Felipe drove a strong race too. A fantastic result down to great work from the team, from Bridgestone and from Shell.

Dieter Gass, Chief Engineer Race and Test – Panasonic Toyota Racing: I think we had two interesting compounds this weekend. We seem to be on top of the warm-up problems and that was not an issue with the tyre specifications we had here so we are quite satisfied with that. We also saw that when we were running free at the end of the race we could do very competitive lap times.
 
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San Marino: Post-Race Notes - Michelin

Fernando Alonso maintained his comfortable Formula One world championship lead with a stirring drive to second place in the fourth race of the year, the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.

Starting fifth, the Spaniard gained a place on the opening lap and moved up to second after the first round of pit stops. He then stepped up to challenge leader Michael Schumacher in a thrilling repeat of their 2005 duel – but this time with Alonso playing the role of challenger rather than defender.

Late in the race, the Renault driver ran slightly wide at Turn Six and finally settled down to consolidate his position. After four races this season he has yet to finish lower than second and leads Schumacher by 15 points in the title chase.

Although this was Michelin's first F1 defeat of the season, the company's engineers derived a great deal of satisfaction from their tyres' technical performance because Alonso was clearly the quickest driver on the circuit. He set the race's fastest lap during his pursuit of pole position qualifier Schumacher and at one point was reducing the German's advantage by 1.5s per lap. Catching at Imola is one thing, however, and passing quite another: although he spent the entire second half of the race on Schumacher's tail, there was simply no way through.

Juan Pablo Montoya drove a strong race from seventh on the grid to finish third – his first podium finish of the season – while Kimi Räikkönen, Jenson Button and Giancarlo Fisichella also scored points on Michelin tyres. For Honda, though, the race was a story of hope unfulfilled. Button and team-mate Rubens Barrichello qualified second and third, but their three-stop strategy failed to pay off and they slipped down the order during the afternoon. Button lost additional time during his second stop, when he tried to rejoin the race with his fuel rig still attached – he had to sit stationary for several seconds while his team rectified the situation. Barrichello eventually finished 10th.

BMW team-mates Jacques Villeneuve and Nick Heidfeld were 12th and 13th, just ahead of the Michelin-shod Toro Rossos of Vitantonio Liuzzi, who recovered from a spin early in the race, and Scott Speed. The Red Bulls of David Coulthard and Christian Klien were the only Michelin cars not to finish. The Scot retired with suspected driveshaft failure, after 47 laps, while Klien suffered a hydraulic problem after 40.

The race began with a Safety Car period after Dutchman Christijan Albers (MF1) was tipped into a spectacular series of rolls at Turn Six on the opening lap. He was not seriously hurt.
 
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Post-race press conference - Imola

TV Unilaterals

Q. Michael, it's been a while since we've see you conducting the Italian national anthem on the podium. How does it feel?

Michael Schumacher: Yeah, great. What else can you say? We had an amazing weekend. We've had a lot of work. We made some mistakes in the last races, very obviously, and to come here and perform the way we performed - although there was obviously some struggle at some moments – but in general, over the weekend, we were very competitive and that's thanks to a lot of us, our many partners, starting with Shell who came up with a completely new fuel, some more horsepower; Bridgestone working very hard on the tyre side and obviously the team itself with new bits for the cars. On the engine, there has been a big push from everybody and as you say, that's the result and it paid off.

Q. Great start from the pole, great first stint and then it looked as if you had to work very hard to sustain the pressure from Fernando. What was the car like at two thirds of the race?

MS: It started off OK after my first pit stop and then I ran into some trouble, I don't know what it is, we obviously have to check the car. It was some graining but not a big issue, honestly, but the car never came back (improved) and never really performed as it was in the beginning and it was quite a bit of a struggle, but luckily this is a circuit where we know from another year – last year – that overtaking is almost impossible unless you make a mistake so obviously you study who is behind and in that case it was Fernando, and where are the moments where it could get critical, and to prepare yourself just for those areas and it worked out.

Q. And of course, it was the reverse from last year. What was the traffic situation like for you today?

MS: Pretty good. No complaints, the guys did a good job out there.

Q. Fernando, you were looking very strong in that second stint; sliced into Michael's lead and then just stuck behind him for the rest of the race:

Fernando Alonso: Yeah. It's true that I arrived quite quickly to him but then, as Michael said, here it's very difficult to overtake, nearly impossible if there is no mistake. Michael didn't make any mistake so I just waited for my opportunity and at the end it didn't come. But I'm happy. We qualified with much more fuel than the others, obviously, and we assumed that that was the right thing to do.

In normal circumstances, on a normal circuit, we should win the race. Also we didn't plan to make the second pit stop on that lap, we came in much earlier just to try to overtake Michael and it didn't work – maybe the opposite. Maybe I should have waited until my normal pit stop, maybe that would have worked better. But who knows? I think this eight points is better for me. Second in the championship were Kimi and Fisichella and I took another four or five points off them, so championship-wise it was a perfect result.

Q. We saw you run a little bit wide out of the second chicane with three laps to go, what was the car like at that phase of the race?

FA: Well, on the limit. I think Michael was very slow in the second stint but not so slow in the third stint. I think the last set of tyres again worked quite well for them and it was not so easy to be behind him and try to overtake, so I really pushed, with five laps to go, just to try to overtake him. I was able to use all the revs in the engine etc, I tried hard. When I saw it was not possible I just went down a little bit and as I said, it was a risk moment and I thought it wasn't the right time to risk any more.

Q. Juan Pablo, congratulations to you, a strong drive after your problems in practice yesterday, leading your teammate and Felipe Massa in the Ferrari.

Juan Pablo Montoya: I think it was good. I had a really quick start. I went onto the inside of Fernando, I think he went to try to pass a BAR (Honda) so I had to lift and I lost a couple of places there when I backed off but on and off it was a really good race. I think we did a lot of work over the last couple of weeks and I think we're going in the right direction.

I think our car performance wasn't as good as we expected. As you saw, we had a lot of fuel in the car as well. I think it was good, we passed a lot of people and everything and I think we had a really good car to fight for the lead but when I got to third I was 13 seconds behind. What can you do, you're too far behind.

Q. And the pressure from Felipe in those closing stages?

JPM: I was pretty much cruising to be honest.

Q. Michael, returning to you. After a great start in the first race, a couple of problematic races as you said, now the championship for you is well and truly alive.

MS: Yeah. It hadn't really gone away, honestly, even with two difficult races, but points-wise it's looking two points better now, but there's a long way to go.

Press Conference

Q. Michael, a sunny afternoon, an adoring crowd, victory; do Sunday afternoons get any better?

MS: No, certainly not. That's the maximum you can have.

Q. Everything seemed to go pretty well today, even off the grid. We saw your guys doing a major clean-up operation...

MS: Yes, there was some incident this morning so there was oil on my grid position, so that's what was going on, removing the oil.

Q. And did it feel OK?

MS: It felt pretty slippery initially, to pull away, but probably I cleaned enough off to be OK. It finally worked OK.

Q. How hard was Fernando pushing, or was it a matter of controlling, or a bit of both?

MS: In a way it was similar to what it was last year honestly, because you had very little opportunities, and if you close the door and you do the job in the right way then you don't give a chance, really, to the driver behind. In the middle stint, I had to work a bit harder and in the final stint I just drove the car at a nice limit, not to over-push anything and just controlled what was necessary.

Q. I think all the cynics in here remembered the irony of last year.

MS: Yes, it was funny, just the other way around in a way. Interesting.

Q. You mentioned the graining of the tyres in the second stint; did you have it also at the start of the third?

MS: No, I obviously drove in a way that this wouldn't happen. Obviously Fernando was behind me, so all I had to do was keep him behind me, whereas in the second stint, I really needed to keep the race alive and it was a different way to attack.

But that wasn't really the issue honestly, why we went so slowly sometimes and even at the end we were probably not as competitive as we were initially, so we have to look at the car to see what happened, because you ride very heavily over the kerbs so it's easy that something might not be at 100 percent as it was before the race.

Q. Fernando, I guess the irony is not lost on you.

FA: Yes, it was something similar. As last year, it is very difficult to overtake here - nearly impossible, so not bad for trying to stay in front. I was waiting for the opportunity, but it didn't come. So, I tried to push Michael as hard as I could. The second pit-stop was the time to overtake him. We took a risk to come a few laps earlier than planned just to overtake him.

I'm sorry they copied the strategy – a lap later they came in and got a better position – so it was a good day for them. As far as me being competitive, this track was never a good track for us, but we were still the fastest car on the track today so I am very confident for the next races and the championship – it looks a little bit better because Kimi and Fisichella were second in the championship and they are behind me by six points, so it's a positive result for me and the championship.

Q. What happened on lap 59 when you lost a couple of seconds? It looked like you hit a kerb and went wide on the outside.

FA: Yeah, I hit the kerb in turn five and I pushed hard to make up for this time loss and then went wide in the Variante Alta again, so, we had to lose. Too much risk with eight points after 30 laps of trying to throw that result away.

Q. It looked as though you got very close at Tosa every time, but maybe you were losing downforce?

FA: No, the downforce lost was not too much – it was not too difficult to follow him in the corners, but on the straights, there was nothing to do (about Michael).

Q. Juan Pablo Montoya – you must be pleased with the tactics that brought you up to third.

JPM: I think I had a really good start and it was a shame because it was probably the quickest start of all, but I came down the inside of Fernando and he came across so I decided to lift rather than hit him because I needed the points. Having so much fuel didn't matter - I was stuck behind Ralf (Schumacher) in the first stint, and when he pitted, I pushed hard for a couple of laps until my stop and from there on in it was the same thing.

Like Fernando said, the Ferraris had so much more top speed than me, that there was no way to pass them unless Massa made a mistake, and Massa was the same as Ralf so when he pitted I pushed, passed him, and then there was 13 second to Fernando so there was no point to push and I just maintained the gap to Massa and that was it. I think it was pretty good. We changed a lot on the car from last week from the Barcelona test – we did a lot of work there and did a lot of work in the factory as well. I'm very happy with that.

Q. You were controlling it at the end?

JPM: I wasn't even pushing, so it was good. I was pretty comfortable.

Questions From The Floor

Q. (Frederic Ferret – L'Equipe), Michael, How did you leave your last pit-stop, with your feelings?

MS: Pretty straightforward. We saw that they (Renault) changed their strategy and came in early, so at this moment all there is to do is push hard, so I could get a good pit-stop and hope to stay in front. It worked out much better than I thought. Excuse me, I was just watching that on tv. It was a big deal to come out in front and it was clear then that we should be in a good position to win the race.

Q. (Ottavio Daviddi – Tuttosport), Michael, do you think that Ferrari have closed the gap to Renault with all the work the team have done on the car?

MS: As Fernando said, they feel less competitive here than elsewhere. We were very competitive except for at one point when I think something was wrong with the car. We've had good testing in Barcelona and I think we should be pretty good from now on honestly. It's honestly getting very close between the top teams for maximising their performance so it should be good.

Q. (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo), Michael, on your second stint, were they new or old tyres?

MS: New. The second and third stint were new tyres.

Q. (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) Fernando, do you think it would have been a better idea to stay out any longer before your last pit-stop?

FA: who knows? Probably. After the race, it's time to stand there and see what was better, but in those moments, you take a decision in one lap or whatever. I think we did the right thing. We were two seconds slower than our pace behind Michael, so we thought one lap we come in should be enough. Unfortunately, it was not enough and it was easier to say that it is better to wait for the planned stop, but it is too late. I think we did the right thing ,but it didn't work this time.

Q. (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport), Fernando, don't you feel you lost the race yesterday?

FA: No. I think the strategies were all different. We want to be on Sunday afternoon in the top position, not on Saturday. We have had four races. I have won two and finished second in the other two, so that is not bad for the championship.

Q. Did losing two laps of fuel allowance effect you much?

FA: It's a bad thing but one was impossible to avoid because I had a bad lap on new tyres and I had to find my gap, and the first one was the out-lap. We were tenth car in the traffic and it was impossible to overtake and impossible to recover.

Q. (Anthony Rowlinson – Autosport), Michael, does this result have an effect on your feelings for the future?

MS: No

Q. (Frederic Ferret – L'Equipe), Michael, were you scared a bit when you saw Fernando coming back?

MS: No. The moment I saw my lap times falling out of the window, it was clear that he was coming. There was nothing to do.

Q. (Ottavio Daviddi - Tuttosport), Michael , are you confident for the next race considering that the track is very different from Imola and also the weather could have a big effect?

MS: As I said before, we should be competitive everywhere from now on, but it is always the same - at the end of the day, who maximises their opportunities will be in front.

Q. (Philippe Joubin - L'Equipe), Fernando, do you consider Ferrari or Michael Schumacher your main contender for the title this year?

FA: We have to wait and see. Michael for sure will be contender and a big rival at the end of the championship, but he is not the only one. Both McLarens will be there and I hope Fisichella will be at the end fighting. It can be more than two or three drivers at the end of the championship. We also have to remember that Ferrari had a very bad season last year but here at Imola they were one second quicker than us. Imola is a quite different circuit so we will find out in the next two or three races who the quick cars are in 2006.

Q. (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) Michael, was your second pitstop planned this way or did you have to react to what Renault did?

MS: I didn't ask that question yet because I wasn't watching what lap I was on – I was just watching what the team was telling me, and the team told me to get in and I didn't have time to check what lap it was.

Q. (Federica Ferri – Il Nuovo Diario Messaggero) You know there will be changes to the Variante Bassa next year. Do you think next year it will be possible to overtake more on the track? Will Bassa changes reduce overtaking?

MS: If you have a longer straight with the right combination of starting the long straight and finishing it, then you get an overtaking opportunity. The way it is now, it's almost impossible.
 
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Race Results.
Code:
[b]Pos	No	Driver			Team			Laps	Time		Grid	Points[/b]
1	5	Michael Schumacher 	Ferrari			62	1:31:06.486 	1	10 
2	1	Fernando Alonso 	Renault			62	+2.0 secs 	5	8 
3	4	Juan Pablo Montoya 	McLaren-Mercedes	62	+15.8 secs 	7	6 
4	6	Felipe Massa 		Ferrari			62	+17.0 secs 	4	5 
5	3	Kimi Räikkönen 		McLaren-Mercedes	62	+17.5 secs 	8	4 
6	9	Mark Webber 		Williams-Cosworth	62	+37.7 secs 	10	3 
7	12	Jenson Button 		Honda			62	+39.6 secs 	2	2 
8	2	Giancarlo Fisichella 	Renault			62	+40.2 secs 	11	1 
9	7	Ralf Schumacher 	Toyota			62	+45.5 secs 	6	 
10	11	Rubens Barrichello 	Honda			62	+77.8 secs 	3	 
11	10	Nico Rosberg 		Williams-Cosworth	62	+79.6 secs 	13	 
12	17	Jacques Villeneuve 	Sauber-BMW		62	+82.3 secs 	12	 
13	16	Nick Heidfeld 		Sauber-BMW		61	+1 Lap 		15	 
14	20	Vitantonio Liuzzi 	STR-Cosworth		61	+1 Lap 		16	 
15	21	Scott Speed 		STR-Cosworth		61	+1 Lap 		18	 
16	18	Tiago Monteiro 		MF1-Toyota		60	+2 Laps 	19	 
Ret	14	David Coulthard 	RBR-Ferrari		47	Driveshaft 	14	 
Ret	22	Takuma Sato Super 	Aguri-Honda		44	Spin 		21	 
Ret	15	Christian Klien 	RBR-Ferrari		40	Hydraulics 	17	 
Ret	23	Yuji Ide Super		Aguri-Honda		33	Suspension 	22	 
Ret	8	Jarno Trulli 		Toyota			5	Steering 	9	 
Ret	19	Christijan Albers 	MF1-Toyota		0	Accident 	20

Fastest Laps.

Code:
[b]Pos	No	Driver			Team			Lap	Time		Speed		Laptime[/b]
1	1	Fernando Alonso 	Renault 		23	14:37:42	211.098		1:24.569 
2	5	Michael Schumacher 	Ferrari 		19	14:31:48	210.961		1:24.624 
3	3	Kimi Räikkönen 		McLaren-Mercedes 	49	15:16:06	209.961		1:25.027 
4	4	Juan Pablo Montoya	 McLaren-Mercedes 	22	14:36:29	209.791		1:25.096 
5	7	Ralf Schumacher 	Toyota 			45	15:10:26	209.250		1:25.316 
6	12	Jenson Button 		Honda 			29	14:46:43	209.174		1:25.347 
7	2	Giancarlo Fisichella 	Renault 		43	15:07:31	209.159		1:25.353 
8	17	Jacques Villeneuve 	Sauber-BMW 		53	15:22:54	208.951		1:25.438 
9	9	Mark Webber 		Williams-Cosworth 	39	15:01:27	208.829		1:25.488 
10	6	Felipe Massa 		Ferrari 		12	14:21:57	208.731		1:25.528 
11	20	Vitantonio Liuzzi S	TR-Cosworth 		43	15:08:17	208.363		1:25.679 
12	16	Nick Heidfeld 		Sauber-BMW 		53	15:23:05	207.595		1:25.996 
13	11	Rubens Barrichello 	Honda 			12	14:22:04	207.275		1:26.129 
14	21	Scott Speed 		STR-Cosworth 		57	15:28:55	206.989		1:26.248 
15	10	Nico Rosberg 		Williams-Cosworth 	30	14:48:58	206.581		1:26.418 
16	15	Christian Klien 	Red Bull Racing 	30	14:49:17	205.770		1:26.759 
17	14	David Coulthard 	Red Bull Racing 	41	15:05:04	205.542		1:26.855 
18	18	Tiago Monteiro		MF1-Toyota 		53	15:25:00	204.823		1:27.160 
19	8	Jarno Trulli 		Toyota 			4	14:10:34	202.778		1:28.039 
20	22	Takuma Sato Super 	Aguri-Honda 		40	15:05:45	200.363		1:29.100 
21	23	Yuji Ide Super 		Aguri-Honda 		15	14:41:47	196.111		1:31.032

Pit Stops

Code:
[b]Stop	No	Driver			Team			Lap	Time Of Day	Time		Total Time[/b]
1	23	Yuji Ide Super 		Aguri-Honda 		1	14:05:45	1:19.951	1:19.951 
2	23	Yuji Ide Super 		Aguri-Honda 		2	14:09:20	11:55.326	13:15.277 
1	11	Rubens Barrichello 	Honda 			14	14:24:55	32.618		32.618 
1	12	Jenson Button 		Honda			15	14:26:09	26.651		26.651 
1	7	Ralf Schumacher 	Toyota 			16	14:27:50	23.342		23.342 
1	18	Tiago Monteiro 		MF1-Toyota		17	14:30:11	25.767		25.767 
1	6	Felipe Massa 		Ferrari 		19	14:31:58	25.381		25.381 
1	5	Michael Schumacher	Ferrari 		20	14:33:10	25.502		25.502 
1	3	Kimi Räikkönen 		McLaren-Mercedes 	22	14:36:32	25.185		25.185 
1	4	Juan Pablo Montoya 	McLaren-Mercedes 	23	14:37:52	24.292		24.292 
1	9	Mark Webber 		Williams-Cosworth 	23	14:37:58	24.469		24.469 
1	21	Scott Speed 		STR-Cosworth 		24	14:40:06	26.539		26.539 
1	1	Fernando Alonso 	Renault 		25	14:40:29	26.041		26.041 
1	22	Takuma Sato Super 	Aguri-Honda 		24	14:41:08	26.350		26.350 
1	20	Vitantonio Liuzzi 	STR-Cosworth 		25	14:41:37	25.272		25.272 
1	17	Jacques Villeneuve 	Sauber-BMW		27	14:44:05	41.869		41.869 
1	10	Nico Rosberg 		Williams-Cosworth 	27	14:44:11	27.538		27.538 
1	14	David Coulthard 	Red Bull Racing 	27	14:44:18	24.743		24.743 
1	16	Nick Heidfeld 		Sauber-BMW 		28	14:45:56	25.749		25.749 
1	15	Christian Klien 	Red Bull Racing 	28	14:45:58	26.000		26.000 
1	2	Giancarlo Fisichella 	Renault 		29	14:47:00	23.905		23.905 
2	12	Jenson Button 		Honda 			30	14:48:05	38.792		1:05.443 
2	7	Ralf Schumacher 	Toyota 			32	14:51:22	23.150		46.492 
2	11	Rubens Barrichello 	Honda 			34	14:54:32	26.958		59.576 
2	18	Tiago Monteiro 		MF1-Toyota 		37	15:00:23	25.957		51.724 
2	1	Fernando Alonso 	Renault 		41	15:03:54	23.310		49.351 
2	6	Felipe Massa 		Ferrari 		41	15:04:07	24.531		49.912 
2	5	Michael Schumacher 	Ferrari 		42	15:05:19	23.936		49.438 
2	9	Mark Webber 		Williams-Cosworth 	42	15:05:43	25.456		49.925 
2	21	Scott Speed 		STR-Cosworth 		42	15:06:46	27.964		54.503 
2	4	Juan Pablo Montoya 	McLaren-Mercedes 	44	15:08:26	23.999		48.291 
2	22	Takuma Sato Super 	Aguri-Honda 		42	15:08:42	25.322		51.672 
3	12	Jenson Button 		Honda 			44	15:08:48	24.110		1:29.553 
2	20	Vitantonio Liuzzi 	STR-Cosworth 		44	15:09:41	25.228		50.500 
3	7	Ralf Schumacher 	Toyota 			46	15:11:49	23.432		1:09.924 
2	14	David Coulthard 	Red Bull Racing 	46	15:12:17	25.055		49.798 
2	3	Kimi Räikkönen 		McLaren-Mercedes 	47	15:12:53	22.918		48.103 
2	2	Giancarlo Fisichella 	Renault 		48	15:14:37	22.856		46.761 
2	10	Nico Rosberg 		Williams-Cosworth 	48	15:15:07	24.163		51.701 
2	17	Jacques Villeneuve 	Sauber-BMW 		48	15:15:18	25.103		1:06.972 
2	16	Nick Heidfeld S		auber-BMW 		51	15:19:50	23.759		49.508
 
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Current Standings

2006 Drivers Championship.
Code:
[b]Pos	Driver			Nationality	Team			Points[/b]
1 	Fernando Alonso 	Spanish 	Renault 		36 
2 	Michael Schumacher 	German 		Ferrari 		21 
3 	Kimi Räikkönen 		Finnish 	McLaren-Mercedes 	18 
=5 	Giancarlo Fisichella 	Italian 	Renault 		15 
=5	Juan Pablo Montoya 	Colombian 	McLaren-Mercedes 	15 
6	Jenson Button 		British 	Honda 			13 
7 	Felipe Massa 		Brazilian 	Ferrari 		9 
8 	Ralf Schumacher 	German 		Toyota 			7 
9 	Mark Webber 		Australian 	Williams-Cosworth 	6 
=11 	Nick Heidfeld 		German 		Sauber-BMW 		5 
=11 	Jacques Villeneuve 	Canadian 	Sauber-BMW 		5 
=13	Rubens Barrichello 	Brazilian 	Honda 			2 
=13 	Nico Rosberg 		German 		Williams-Cosworth 	2 
=16 	David Coulthard 	British 	RBR-Ferrari 		1 
=16 	Christian Klien 	Austrian 	RBR-Ferrari 		1

2006 Constructors Championship.
Code:
[b]Pos	Constructor 		Points[/b]
1	Renault			51  
2	McLaren-Mercedes	33  
3	Ferrari			30  
4	Honda			15  
5	Sauber-BMW		10  
6	Williams-Cosworth	8  
7	Toyota			7  
8	RBR-Ferrari		2
 
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Fry wants to 'earn his money' as leader

Honda Racing chief Nick Fry believes it is important that he stands up now and helps guide his team to recovery after another disappointing outing in the San Marino Grand Prix.

Although Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello qualified second and third on the grid, a lack of pace in the race, allied to problems in the pits, left them out of the hunt for a podium finish. In the end, Button finished seventh and Barrichello tenth.

Fry, who said before the season started that he wanted the team to be challenging for wins, claimed he was ready to prove his mettle in the team's bid to get their season back on track.

"I'm a big boy," he said. "I've had 30 years in the motor industry and sometimes it gets tough. There are times when the bosses really do need to hold their heads up; these are the times when you earn you money.

"The momentum is there, we just need a few things to go right for us, which aren't happening at the moment. We don't have any huge issues on motivation either from the team members, or from the drivers.

"F1 is the pinnacle of motor sport and we're trying to get from third place to first or second, and it's tough. You have to dig deep and get on with it."

Honda are holding a motivational meeting at their Brackley headquarters today, to discuss their current issues and try and plot their way forward.

Fry denied there was any need for a knee-jerk reaction or for staff changes.

When asked whether there was a need for heads to roll because of the team's problems, he said: "No, certainly not. We've got a fast car, there are a few things today that happened that were exceptional.

"The lollipop man has done 300 of these live pitstops, as well as practice ones, and he's never made a mistake. It was just an unfortunate error. Jenson was straight out of the car giving him a big hug, it's just one of those things that happen from time to time. You have to exclude that."

Fry suggests that the key to a Honda recovery is in their RA106 being able to extract more performance from its tyres - and the team will be focusing on this area at Silverstone testing this week.

"The Renault is unlocking more pace than the other Michelin runners, and that's to do with the set-up of the cars," Fry explained.

"One team has found a better way to use them than the rest. The issues we're suffering are very little and different to the last race, the rest of us need to unlock that potential.

"We think we know what the issue is, but F1 cars are incredibly complicated and they are not something you can change overnight. We believe we know what it is, and we took some small steps between Australia and here. And in Silverstone, we'll be doing more experiments.

"Rome wasn't built in a day, and it's fairly fundamental. This is science, not art, and we'll be running experiments in Silverstone this week."

Fry also said he had no doubt that Button would not let the disappointment of the team's current form let his motivation slip.

"There is no indication whatsoever that Jenson is anything other than his usual determined self. Before we came to Imola, I had a long chat with him on the phone and he's stronger.

"This is tough, it's the pinnacle, and if it was easy, then every one would be doing it. We're here with a seven-year-old team, and Jenson is aspiring to be number one.

"You have to have the challenging spirit, and that is the whole ethos of Honda, and that's what we're trying to do. We are relatively inexperienced in comparison to the top guys, but you have to shoot to the stars."
 
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Ide reprimanded over Albers accident

Yuji Ide has been reprimanded by the race stewards for his part in the opening lap accident with Christijan Albers at the San Marino Grand Prix.

The Super Aguri driver tried to dive inside Albers at the Villeneuve chicane but ended up tipping the Midland into a series of rolls. Albers eventually ended up upside down in the gravel trap, but was luckily uninjured.

The race stewards called both Albers and Ide to a meeting to examine the accident. They eventually decided that Albers was innocent but that Ide needed reprimanding for causing a collision.

A statement issued by the FIA confirmed the reprimand and added: "The competitor is reminded of the possible effect of incurring a second reprimand."

Ide said about the accident: "I didn't think I was pushing too hard at the start, but when I was exiting the second chicane Albers was the one on the racing line and I could not avoid contacting his car."
 
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Doubts still linger about Ferrari pace

Michael Schumacher believes he can fight for a record eighth Formula One title after taking Ferrari back to the top step of the podium at Imola.

"I think we should be pretty good from now on," the German said after celebrating his first victory in 13 races and ending Renault's run of four in a row on Sunday.

"We should be competitive everywhere from now on," he added after his 85th career win and record 66th pole position.

Schumacher had promised to fire up Ferrari's championship challenge at the San Marino Grand Prix, his team's home race at the Enzo and Dino Ferrari circuit, and he was as good as his word.

The win moved him up to second place overall, 15 points adrift of Renault's world champion Fernando Alonso, who was runner-up on Sunday.

Yet even last season, with just one hollow win in the six-car U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis, Ferrari were quick at Imola with Schumacher clambering all over the back of Alonso's winning Renault.

Just as one swallow does not make a summer, one win does not make a championship and rivals kept an open mind about just how much of a threat the glamour team now posed.

The next few races, starting with the Nurburgring next week, will be a better indication of where they are at.

"Ferrari historically seem to pull it out of the bag at Imola, regardless of what's happened in the first three races and we've seen that yet again," said Honda team boss Nick Fry.

"Clearly they've done a better job here and clearly the Bridgestone tyres have worked better here. The interesting thing will be - is that sustained at Nurburgring and beyond? We'll see."

McLaren managing director Martin Whitmarsh said his team could have beaten Ferrari on Sunday had Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya qualified on the second row rather than the fourth. Montoya ended up third, with Raikkonen fifth.

"We'll see now at Nurburgring and Barcelona where Ferrari are," said Whitmarsh, whose team are still second in the constructors' standings.

"Are Ferrari considerably stronger this year than last? Yes. Are Bridgestone stronger? Absolutely - the rules were changed to allow them to be so.

"I believe that we will beat Ferrari over the course of the year, even at our current performance level," he added. "We need to lift our performance level to beat Renault.

"We have to accept that Renault is the benchmark at the moment."

World champion Alonso will not have lost any sleep over Sunday's race. Tellingly, it was the gain over his teammate Giancarlo Fisichella and Raikkonen that he highlighted afterwards.

"Michael for sure will be a contender and a big rival at the end of the championship," said the 24-year-old Spaniard.

"But he is not the only one. Both McLarens will be there and I hope Fisichella will be at the end fighting. It can be more than two or three drivers at the end of the championship.

"We also have to remember that Ferrari had a very bad season last year but here at Imola they were one second quicker than us.

"Imola is quite a different circuit so we will find out in the next two or three races who the quick cars are in 2006."
 
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Albers hopes Ide stays in F1

As an often outspoken Dutchman, Christijan Albers could well have been expected to taken the easy route and question Yuji Ide's place in Formula One for causing their opening lap crash at the San Marino Grand Prix.

But despite the disappointment of his spectacular early exit, Albers has actually said he feels some empathy for his Japanese's rival's position - and hopes the Super Aguri driver can put his early troubles behind him.

"I was angry when I got out of the car, but then I had to cool down," said the Midland driver. "I got onto the scooter, the wind got into my helmet and I started to cool down a little bit about it.

"I don't want to attack drivers because I think it doesn't make any sense you know, it makes people weak. F1 is F1 and sometimes things happen and things need to happen because otherwise the fans will switch off."

Albers is well aware that there is intense speculation surrounding Ide's future at the team, with Super Aguri boss Aguri Suzuki saying that meetings will be held this week to decide on the Japanese driver's future.

But rather than push for Ide to be dropped, Albers is actually keen to support his rival, even though he concedes that the Super Aguri drivers are being too aggressive at the start of races.

"Of course there are a lot of rumours surrounding Ide and I hope he can stay, because I think everybody who is new in F1 should have a chance," continued Albers.

"I don't like to blame other people because I have a lot of meetings where everyone starts blaming each other about this and that. In Australia a top guy ****** up my qualifying lap – I am not going to say his name but it was a big name getting $10 million a year and was slower than me in the qualifying in Australia."

Albers added that he defended Ide's corner in their meeting with the race stewards on Sunday night, although advised them to ask the Japanese driver to calm down a bit.

"I spoke to them and I said it was so obvious what happened from the television. I said it was a race incident and hopefully he has learned to cool down on the first lap.

"I understand his position because it was the same with me at Minardi. It is the only thing you have, the start, and then it is over. We are two seconds a lap quicker than them, and if they get in front of us then there is almost no chance to overtake them until the pit stops.

"The only negative thing is that things happen a lot with Ide, and everyone wants to kill him, but that is not what I like to hear."
 
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Super Aguri target French GP for new car

Super Aguri have targetted the French Grand Prix on July 16 for the debut of their new car.

The Formula One newcomers also plan to run a third car in Friday practice from next week's European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring to make up for a lack of testing elsewhere.

"It is a far more cost-effective solution," the team's financial director Wayne Humphreys told Reuters at the San Marino Grand Prix regarding the third driver, who could be announced later this week.

Super Aguri had planned at the start of the season to introduce their new car at Imola but that date was pushed back.

"The French Grand Prix is our target," said Humphreys. "We actually want it just before that so we can do some testing for the Grand Prix, probably at Silverstone.

"We're just waiting for Honda to confirm the availability of some of the gearbox components which are critical in meeting that objective. All the other aspects of the car are on schedule. It should all be deliverable."

Humphreys said the team, without a point so far this season, hoped to gain three seconds a lap with the new car, allowing them to fight with rivals Midland among the tailenders.

"It's pretty much a new car," he said. "All the rear end is going to be new, the base monococque is an (Arrows) A23 but heavily modified. To be honest, it's not an Arrows any more. It's unrecognisable as an Arrows."

Super Aguri started the season with a developed version of four-year-old Arrows cars bought from former Minardi owner and Australian aviation entrepreneur Paul Stoddart.

One of them was painted in Minardi colours and on display at Melbourne airport as a show car while another chassis has just been obtained from an owner in the Netherlands.

That car will be returned at the end of the season in a Super Aguri format.
 
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Trulli angry at Schumacher's behaviour

Jarno Trulli has warned Michael Schumacher that he can expect little help from him on track this season after their qualifying clash at the San Marino Grand Prix.

Trulli was left furious that he was blocked by Schumacher during his final qualifying run - which both slowed the Toyota driver down and caused his tyres to drop below their ideal operating temperature for the lap after.

That incident left Trulli upset - especially because he could not understand why Schumacher deliberately went out of his way to block him.

"Michael blocked me: I was starting my flying lap when he came out of the pits and hindered me by keeping me behind for the entire lap," said Trulli in Gazzetta dello Sport.

"This resulted in the temperature of my Bridgestones dropping, and I found myself going for the fast lap on shot tyres.

"He did it on purpose, because he had certainly seen me in his mirrors. I would understand that if we were in the last moments of qualifying, but it wasn't so: he had all the time to let my by and go for a flyer himself. I really can't understand why he behaved like that."

The fact that drivers lose a lap's worth of fuel allocation in the final qualifying session if their lap is not within 110 percent of their best probably played a factor in Schumacher's actions - but even so Trulli has said he will not forget what happened.

"This time he'll pay dearly for it," he warned "No, I'm not saying I want to bump him out of a race, but sooner or later I will happen to see him behind me and I'll do my utmost to obstruct him.

"The FIA never acts when he's involved. You only need to look at the sector times to see what he did."

When asked whether he considered lodging an official complaint with the race stewards about Schumacher's behaviour, Trulli said: "What for? This is Italy, nothing would have happened. Can you imagine the stewards having the courage of going against Ferrari? He took pole position and we are all happy, aren't we?"
 
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GPMA deal hits a roadblock

As reported on Saturday, and contrary to claims elsewhere, a deal between the manufacturers that comprise the GPMA and CVC Capital Partners, owners of F1, is not as imminent as some would have you believe, for talks have reached a major roadblock.

It appears that Bernie Ecclestone has withdrawn the offer to the GPMA teams of 60 percent of Formula One profits and said that this will only happen if their manufacturer parent companies sign up to the new Concorde Agreement. Should they fail to do so, the deal will be for 50 percent.

The fact is that the parent companies will never directly sign such a contract. In other forms of motorsport, such as Le Mans, MotoGP etc, the manufacturers themselves do not sign commercial rights agreements directly but rather the teams that they own sign them.

The GPMA teams want the 60 percent since they have based their discussions and commitment on getting it, consequently we face a 'roadblock'.

At the weekend, sections of the media quoted Renault F1 Team boss, Flavio Briatore, as saying that the deal was imminent, indeed one quirky quote from the Italian suggested that the reason he hadn't signed so far is that he hadn't got a pen. However, with the decision needing to come from the manufacturer parent companies, the decision as to whether to sign or not is entirely out of Briatore's hands.

According to the GPMA website, the carmakers' representatives are: Prof. Burkhard Göschel (BMW), Dr. Dieter Zetsche (DaimlerChrysler), Hiroshi Oshima (Honda), Patrick Faure now Alain Dassas (Renault) and Tsutomu Tomita - Chairman of Toyota Motorsport GmbH. Consequently it doesn't matter whether Briatore or the others (except Tomita) want to sign the deal since the decision of the carmakers in the GPMA is not in their hands.

According to a report by Christian Sylt and Caroline Reid for the Sunday Express, it was at a meeting over the Bahrain GP weekend when Bernie Ecclestone retracted the proposal; "offering the teams just 50 percent unless their manufacturer parent companies signed - a difference of $500 million over the five years of the contract". The Teams currently get just 23 percent.

According to Sylt and Reid's sources; "the manufacturers are definitely not going to sign and describe the current impasse as a 'deal breaker', since previous discussions have been based on the teams receiving 60 per cent.

"As limited subsidiaries of the parent companies, the teams could be dissolved if the manufacturers wanted to leave the sport, making it difficult for them to be pursued for damages".

Should the deal collapse, this would come as a major blow to CVC, which has only just taken full control of the sport's commercial rights, indeed, CVC is understood to be planning a bond issue, secured on future revenues, in order to refinance its $1 billion acquisition.

In order to guarantee stable revenues, F1 will need, at the very minimum, a five-year contract with the manufacturers and their teams.

However, knowing Bernie, and the way he works, it's not impossible that he has retracted the offer in order to say at a later date that the GPMA teams can have the 60% so long as they sign to the FIA's sporting and technical regulations for 2008 and beyond.

To summarise, whatever else you may have heard, this issue is far from resolved and a deal is certainly not "imminent".
 
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Villeneuve paid Michelin's supply

At the end of 2004, after having signed with Peter Sauber for the season 2005, Villeneuve knew that it was necessary for him absolutely to have Michelin tires, softer, to be competitive. At the time, Sauber rolled on Bridgestone tyres, which were provided to him free by the Japanese manufacturer.

It is the moment. By demanding that his team address his need for more softer tires, they will give them to him. Starting from next the Gran Prix, Nürburgring.

There is really a style "Jacques Villeneuve". It's not just the glaring expressions - he insists to walk the paddock in overalls three sizes too large.

He acknowledges it, Jacques likes a very aggressive driving. At Williams, one still remembers the Homeric duels which had opposed it, 10 years ago, with the technical director, Patrick Head, him which refused to let the Quebecer setup his car with his own way.

This smooth style, Jacques Villeneuve always cherishes it. But so that it is reflected on the timing sheet, he needs much grip, therefore very soft tires.

At the end of 2004, after having signed with Peter Sauber for the season 2005, he knew that it was necessary for him absolutely to have Michelin tires, softer, to be competitive. At the time, Sauber rolled on Bridgestone tyres, which were provided to him free by the Japanese manufacturer.

The Michelin tyres had to be paid for. To finish convincing Peter Sauber, Jacques Villeneuve accepted the improbable: to pay half of the sum on a purely personal basis. The agreement was thus concluded.

The problem, according to the Quebecer, is that, since the fiasco of Indianapolis, Michelin does not manufacture any more also soft tires by fear which the American problem does not repeat. Something the French engineers deny vigorously.

Refusing to listen to them, Jacques Villeneuve insisted to the point that the technicians of Michelin decided, yesterday evening, to yield to his requests: as of next the Gran Prix of Europe, in Nürburgring, in two weeks, they will produce ultra-soft compound specially designed for Team BMW Sauber. By doing so however it takes a large risk.

That is not the opinion of the Québécois pilot. "I have some enough, we are not on the pace, and I do not know why, he said, yesterday just after climbing out of his car. We need different tires."

Still perspiring, disappointed to place only with the 12th in the Gran Prix of San Marino, it could only note his dissapointment. "There are races, like that, where one would have done better to stay at home!"

If the competiveness was not on the side of his BMW Sauber, the chance was gone after the 1st pitstop, two bolts of wheel were blocked at the same time. Fifteen seconds lost. Whereas it ran in sixth place before his stop, Villeneuve took again to the track only in 13e position. A delay which it had to trail to the checkered flag.

"I do not know what occurred during this stop but, without this problem, I could gain two places." Cold comfort, it would then have finished tenth.

Nick Heidfeld, his teammate, is classified just behind him. Affected by his stomach ailment, he lost at least a half-second with a lap compared to his normal rate/rhythm. He would have been better inspired to yield its place to the pilot-tester Robert Kubica the space of this cursed weekend.

Jacques Villeneuve already makes a point of forgetting the Gran Prix of San Marino. And to turn to the next stage, this famous Nürbürgring, which was the theatre of his first victory and where, he hopes, he will be able to make the difference with tires that finally fit his taste. A taste definitely quite particular, combination of racing at the limits of adhesion.
 
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YAY!!!

Jones to join Walker in Qatar

Former Formula One world champion Alan Jones is going to join Murray Walker in the commentating booth for next weekend's GP Masters race in Qatar.

The 1980 champion had originally planned to be part of the series and practiced for the maiden race in Kyalami last November, however was forced to pull out over his neck and back concerns.

But organisers are keen for the Australian to continue to be part of GP Masters and have signed him to join commentating legend Walker in the booth for the race at the Losail International Circuit.

"We're going to get him on the commentating team," GP Masters CEO Scott Poulter said.

"He's helped a lot for us to get this underway. I really felt for him in Kyalami where he wanted to race but he had problems with his neck. I know how much he wanted to drive but he is still part of the family and will help us on TV."

Jones has targeted the Silverstone race in August as a potential date when he could make his race debut in the series.


Murray and Jones.....

Could be fun.
 
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Honda promise no knee-jerk reactions

Honda Racing chief Yasuhiro Wada believes a step-by-step approach will be key to helping his team find the form that will allow them to win a race this year, after issuing a vote on confidence in the outfit's senior personnel.

The Japanese car manufacturer's key problem is in delivering pace in races that is a match for their qualifying form. Jenson Button has qualified in the top three at every race so far this season, but has scored just one podium finish.

And although Wada, who is president of Honda Racing Development, has admitted that the team are not where they expected to be pre-season, he insists there will be neither a knee-jerk reaction to their situation or a quick fix.

"Of course this (start to the season) is totally out of our expectations, but we need to find out where we are, that is the starting point," he said. "Clearly we know where we have to be, and one-by-one we have to fix things.

"We had the tyre issue in Australia and we didn't have the temperature issue here (at Imola). So one-by-one we are killing the bugs and I think we are getting there.

"It is not overnight that everything will happen. We have to do it one-by-one. Each race, each test and each week we have to define where we are and where we need to go. It is not simple just to push one button and find a good position."

And although Renault's director of engineering Pat Symonds said at the weekend that he would have lost his job if he had made some of the mistakes that Honda have made this year, Wada says he has full faith in the capabilities of his team's senior staff, including team boss Nick Fry and technical director Geoff Willis.

"Nick is new to this field, I am new to this field, and the whole Honda team is relatively new as a current team - but I don't think that is the issue," said Wada.

"I have no doubts (about the team's senior figures). I think everyone understands the situation. Jenson is very motivated, Geoff Willis is very motivated and we clearly showed some progress here, so everyone understands what we need to do to improve."

When asked whether there was mounting pressure on himself, Fry and Willis from Honda in Japan to deliver, Wada said: "For sure. Yeah, we are here for winning.

"But we are not giving up. It is only the fourth race of the season, so there is plenty of time to do something."
 
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Imola hopes changes will improve racing

The president of the company that manages the Imola circuit is hopeful a planned revamp will help improve overtaking at the Italian circuit.

Organisers are planning a major revamp of the old Italian track, in a 10 million euro project supported by the Italian government.

The plans include changes to the layout of the circuit, and Federico Bendinelli, president of Sagis, is confident they will allow for more overtaking.

"I hope Herman Tilke's project, which includes a long straight between Rivazza and Tamburello, can improve the situation," Bendinelli told Gazzetta dello Sport, "but I would like to restore the Villeneuve turn to what it once was, even though this would need an increase of runoff areas at Tosa.

"I can only promise that we'll discuss it with Tilke and with the FIA technical delegate, Charlie Withing, to find a solution."

Bandinelli's comments come following a San Marino Grand Prix in which Fernando Alonso was unable to pass Michael Schumacher for the lead despite having a quicker car.

To be brutally bloody honest - it can't get any worse - even with Tilke's imput...
 
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McLaren to get engine boost at Nurburgring

McLaren are pinning hopes of a step forward in performance at the European Grand Prix on a new specification Mercedes-Benz engine, which is being tested at Silverstone this week.

The team have admitted that rivals Renault are the sport's current 'benchmark' but that hopes are high of an improved challenge by the time the teams get to the Nurburgring next week.

"The engine has got to be proved on the track and the dyno, but it is all about pushing," said McLaren's F1 CEO Martin Whitmarsh.

"On the chassis side as well we have got a few bits of pieces of aero, which we are running at Silverstone, and hopefully those will bring a few tenths between them.

"We are a few tenths behind Renault at the moment, but you also know that when your driver gets close behind a competitor they find a little bit in themselves typically."

Looking back at McLaren's performance at the San Marino Grand Prix, Whitmarsh confesses that his team should have done better than the podium finish they ended up with.

"As far as our own race was concerned, we have got to accept at the moment that in terms of performance we are not quite good enough," he explained. "I think Renault are benchmark, and we could have done a better job.

"It was a weekend where we weren't benchmark performance. We are close and improving, but not quite as a team performing as well as could have done.

"From where we put ourselves after qualifying the result is okay: we snuck one point from Renault in the constructors' championship and we are second place there, while Kimi is third in the drivers' championship.

"It is going to be a long season and we are going to try to improve our car, engine and package. We are going to win some races and we are certainly going to keep flogging to try to make it an exciting championship."

When asked whether it was more frustrating this year to leave Imola having under performed but score points, or like last year to have retired from the lead, Whitmarsh said: "The reality is that they are both frustrating, but on balance you would rather have a pride in having the quickest car and there are different types of pain.

"You want to have the quickest car but when you throw it away it is deeply frustrating. We took too long to get our season going last year and we are doing a little bit of that this year, but we will see.

"Hopefully in the next few races we can bang in a race win and get on form and do the job. We are close but I think I accept that we have got to find a few tenths in our car relative to Renault - taking a few tenths if they are taking a few tenths does not get us there.

"I think it was their race. Fernando Alonso could have and should have won the race, they made a fairly fundamental mistake in strategy."
 
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