Singapore GP work begins

Singapore has officially begun the construction of the Formula 1 Grand Prix facilities with a ceremony at the new pit building. The building, adjacent to Singapore s waterfront, will hold 36 garages for 12 racing teams. Singapore will be holding its first street race on September 18 2008.

Today’s groundbreaking event marks an important milestone in our preparations to host the F1 race in September next year,” Lim Neo Chian, chief executive of Singapore’s tourism board remarked.

“The pit building that will rise from this piece of land that we now stand on will be one significant milestone that all will watch closely,” explained Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for trade and industry.

“In terms of physical work, this is the first step,” Nick Syn, technical manager for the race promoter, Singapore GP Pte Ltd, added.

The glass-fronted building is to cost in the region of 33 million Singapore dollars (21.7 million US dollars) and is due to be completed towards the end of May 2008.

Nine teams in action on Friday

Nine Formula 1 teams out of eleven have chosen to stay on at Monza on Friday to complete an extra day of testing.

All eleven teams ran on the Thursday however torrential rain hit track during the morning session disrupting the morning sessions, whilst the afternoon session was also disturbed by a drying surface resulting in a ‘green track.

The only two teams who will be missing from the extended day are Spyker and Renault who have both opted to head home. In a statement, Renault explained, “Having completed it s major test items and in order to save mileage for testing later in the year, the team opted not to prolong the test by an extra day.”

Spyker’s B-spec car passes

Spyker F1 s B-spec car has passed its crash test and will make it s debut at the Italian Grand Prix.

The B-spec car had been scheduled to debut at the Turkish Grand Prix however shortly before the race, it failed the rear impact test and was not allowed to race. Work was carried out on the car over the weekend and on Tuesday, it passed all tests with flying colours.

Adrian Sutil has already tested the car at the test session in Monza and both Sutil and Yamamoto are expected to drive the car at the Italian Grand Prix.

Dernie joins Toyota

Toyota have appointed a new senior advisor in the form of old F1 hand, Frank Dernie. Dernie left the Williams team earlier this year having spend four years as a specials project engineer. Previous to Williams, he had also worked at Lotus, Benetton, Arrows and Lola.

Toyota have said that Dernie will be advising the Formula 1 team on chassis design and aerodynamics.

“We are delighted to welcome Frank to the team,” Yoshiaki Kinoshita said. “HE has a tremendous amount of experience in Formula 1 and, as we are a relatively young team, this will help us move closer to our goals. We are continually striving to improve and I am sure Frank will make a positive contribution.”

Monza- Day 2 Round-up

Despite only running in the afternoon session, Fernando Alonso topped the timesheets on the second day of testing at Monza. Alonso s best lap time was a full three tenths of a second quicker that Hamiltons best with each driver putting in 49 laps.

Slight rain fell on the circuit, however the majority of the day was warm but cloudy.

Nick Heidfeld continued his good form setting the third fastest time of the day with the Toyota of Trulli fourth, and the Ferrari of Raikkonen in a surprising fifth. Trulli had a minor drama when he went off-track over the new run-off area around the second chicane. After the session, he said he was pleased he had given the new run off section a go and gave it the thumbs up.

Three red flags were seen in the session. Early in them morning, Mark Webber s Red Bull stopped at the first chicane causing the first red flag of the day. Just before lunchtime, the Super Aguri of Takuma Sato stopped on track to bring out the second red flag of the day. The last red flag was caused by Alex Wurz who stopped at  Turn 6.

Unofficial Times for Testing at Monza, Day 2

Testing at Monza, Day 2 times

Monza- Day 1 Round-up

On the opening day of testing at Monza, Lewis Hamilton proved to be the fastest man on the track, just edging out Kimi Raikkonen.

Hamilton was testing out an ultra low downforce wing and set a best lap of 1:24.112 early on. He suffered a minor failure during the morning when a CV join failed however the issue was soon resolved and he was able to continue testing.

Ferrari have been working to improve the way the F2007 car handles the kerbs. Raikkonen seemed happy with the pace of the car as he also worked on some with a new aerodynamic package.

Nick Heidfeld continued a good run of form finishing third overall, less than two tenths of a second behind Lewis Hamilton. Toyota, with Jarno Trulli at the helm, finished fourth as they tested out a new downforce configuration with a new rear wing and sidepods.

Williams were fifth with driver Kazuki Nakajima at the wheel. The Japanese driver was hoping to impress as he is hoping to enter Formula 1 next season. Williams were testing some new aerodynamics, one of which included a McLaren-type bridge across the nose cone.

Vettel showed good pace in the Toro Rosso to finish seventh, with Nelson Piquet Jnr in the Renault in eighth. Piquet Jnr was in the first car to test out the new 2008 ECU.

Down in ninth, Mark Webber had another torrid day when a mechanical problem brought a red flag to the session. James Rossiter also caused a red flag in the Super Aguri after his steering wheel suffered from an electrical glitch.

Towards the end of the session, rain hit the circuit as predicted. Many of the teams are contemplating staying on for a further day at the circuit if rain continues to fall on Wednesday.

Unofficial Times for Monza Testing, Day 1

Monza Testing, Day 1 - Times

Bridgestone’s initial findings on Hamilton’s tyre failure

Bridgestone have examined the troublesome tyre that failed on Lewis Hamilton’s car during the Turkish Grand Prix and have stated they believe the failure was down to delamination caused by ‘chunking’.

Bridgestone are unclear as to the exact circumstances which led to the tyre failure and a detailed examination of the rubber is still being undertaken at it’s headquarters in Japan. Initial analysis on the tyre has shown that the failure was not caused by debris and preliminary findings point to tyre chunking being the problem. Chunking is when small bits of rubber, commonly referred to as ‘marbles’, get stuck to the tyre surface. This continues forming larger chunks which then harden on the tyre surface. These hardened pieces of rubber can then damage to tyre underneath which can in turn cause a tyre failure.

“It was delamination caused by excessive chunking,” Bridgestone’s director of motor sport Hirohide Hamashima explained. “Lewis was suffering from heavy understeer in Turn Eight and in order to correct that, he was turning the steering wheel a bit more. This produced the chunking which then got hardened as he braked for Turn Nine. It seems that there was an unexplained extra force applied to where the chunk was, and this delaminated the tyre.”

Bridgestone are as yet unclear as to the exact forces in place within the tyre which caused the failure and are reserving an official judgement for when they have a clearer picture of what happened. Several drivers experienced high levels of chunking on their tyres, similar to Hamilton, however the McLaren driver was the only one who suffered a failure – it is possible that Hamilton may have hit a kerb causing excessive forces in the tyre which pushed the tyre too far and caused the failure.

Teams ponder whether to extend Monza test session

Bad weather is forecasted for this week in Monza and so Formula 1 teams are pondering whether to extend this week s testing session or not.

Teams are currently running out of testing mileage, as specified by under F1 s testing agreement. As such, some teams are reluctant to do any miles in the wet for fear of ‘wasting the allocated mileage. With weather forecasters expecting heavy downpours tomorrow, some teams are considering skipping the entire day s testing, postponing their testing programmes to a later day.

Dennis hopes appeal judges back original verdict

McLaren boss Ron Dennis is worried that if his team are found guilty at the FIA Court of Appeal this Thursday, any title success they gain this year will be tainted by the whole spy affair.

The Court of Appeal is due to hear evidence regarding the espionage saga which has overshadowed much of the 2007 season and centres around chief designer Mike Coughlan being found in possession of secret Ferrari documents.

At the original hearing at an FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting last month, McLaren were found guilty of breaching international sporting regulations but escaped without punishment. Many were baffled at the lack of punishment and Ferrari vowed to keep on fighting, culminating in the appeal hearing this week.

Ron Dennis believes that any satisfaction from any titles won this season now rests on the appeal judges coming to the same conclusions as the original judges.

“We are in F1 to win,” Dennis explained. “But the most important thin is not just winning it is how we win. I do not know what twists and turn are going to take place in the Court of Appeal. If we do not come of that Court of Appeal with an unblemished reputation then the results of the season will be tainted.

“I know the truth and the truth is that McLaren as a company are not involved in this matter, and I just do not want to find through some process that our reputation is damaged. The rumours and spin that I have heard about this matter just leave me amazed. I cannot believe that people can construct some inaccurate views based on no fact whatsoever and be quite comfortable to project them into the pack as being true. It is ridiculous.”

Ferrari team principal Jean Todt has vowed he will make sure the truth according to Ferrari will be revealed in his team s presentation during the appeal hearing.

“It will be very important, this hearing of the 13th,” he explained. “We want the truth to appear, and it will appear. That is something for me, which for Ferrari, for the sport, for me, I want it to appear. And it will appear.”

Monza’s second chicane modified

Monza s second chicane has been modified a fortnight ahead of the Italian Grand Prix after repeated calls from the GPDA to improve safety features at the circuit.

After the 2006 race, the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA) stated that they were unhappy that their calls for safety improvements had god unheeded despite a seven year campaign. Last season, matters were made worse when the circuit s representatives failed to turn up to a pre-arranged meeting to discuss the issue.

In the statement last year, the GPDA requested that the gravel trap at the end of the chicane to be replaced by an asphalt run-off area at the very least. Little has been done to allay drivers concerns, however the GPDA has now been told by the track officials that the second chicane will be improved before the race weekend.

Ultimately, the GPDA were hoping to have the chicane remodelled to make it a right-left, however they acknowledge that replacing the gravel trap is a start. Several drivers have publicly acknowledged the welcomeness of the change.

“I spoke with the Monza director at the weekend ,” Jarno Trulli said. “At the second chicane, the gravel trap has been resurfaced so it will be asphalt. Already, that is a good step ahead.”

“Anything that improves safety has got to be a good thing,” David Coulthard remarked. “It is a fact that tarmac slows the car down quicker than gravel. The old theory of digging into gravel is fine, but what happens with these flat bottom cars is that they bounce over the gravel.”

Coulthard is also an advocate of replacing the high kerbs at the circuit. “The asphalt is a step in the right direction, but they may need to do something else, even if there were different kerbs. What is the problem with running over a flat kerb if you know you get a penalty if you go too far? Having those kerbs, I think they can damage your suspension. You can go through the two Lesmos and now know about it until you run down to Ascari at 200mph.”

One of the problems that the track owners face are the trees which are protected by law as part of Monza s park. This means they cannot be cut down and this sometimes limits what the track owners can do to the circuit.

“The asphalt is an improvement if that is the case,” Wurz remarked.  “But it needs something else to be honest. It is a cool chicane, I like it to drive, but the way you drive it with these cars is too aggressive. You are always asking for it to damage material and then you are asking for a high-speed crash. I think they have to come up with a better solution at one point. We know they have problems with the trees, so it is not easy, but it would be good if we could find a compromise.”