Spyker Chief Designer Suspended

John McQuilliam, chief designer at Spyker F1, has been suspended. McQuilliam is no stranger to Formula 1, having joined the Jordan team in 1991 and remaining with it through the years.

Team principal Colin Kolles has reportedly suspended the Brit although the reasons for his suspension are, as yet, unclear. Last week, the Spyker B-spec car failed an FIA crash test, just days before it was meant to debut at the Turkish Grand Prix and many believe that McQuilliam was fired over this issue. When questioned, Kolles refused to be drawn stating only that, “His position is currently being investigated by the team.”

The McQuilliam situation comes hot on the heels of a rumour that former Red Bull Racing technical director Mark Smith may be joining Spyker. Since Geoff Willis joined Red Bull last month, Smith s position within the team has been uncertain. Having worked with Mike Gascoyne in the past, the move would not come as a surprise to many. Red Bull are still waiting for an answer from Smith as to whether he will accept his new position in the team or not.

Brawn & Todt: The future is still undecided

Ross Brawn, former Ferrari technical director who is currently on sabbatical leave, is still in talks with Ferrari over a possible return to the action. However, team principal Jean Todt has said that no decision over Brawn s future has yet been made.

Brawn has recently said that Ferrari are the only team he is discussing his future with and he will make a decision over his future during the summer months, although there are the inevitable rumours in the paddock over whether Brawn will be tempted away to another team instead.

If Brawn does return to Ferrari, there is the possibility he will take over from Jean Todt as team principal, leaving Todt with his full focus on being CEO. Todt has already stated he does not want to leave Formula 1 quite yet, and the two Ferrari men are still in talks about their mutual futures.

“I am not at all prepared to retire,” Todt stated. “I still feel very motivated with the same anxiousness before every race-  the same happiness when we are successful, the same unhappiness when we are not successful. So I hop I can only be here a few more years. Bernie, when you ask him and there is 15 years difference is still very motivated. I am not thinking at all about stopping working, sorry!

“As for Ross, we had some discussions and we will have other discussions. At the moment, no commitment from either side has been made. We are just discussing his options, and our options. Maybe we will find some common point, maybe we will not find some common point.

“But still we will always be friends, we will always have respect for each other,” Todt added. “He has been doing a tremendous work at Ferrari, and Ferrari have given him a lot. So our partnership has been good for him and good for Ferrari.”

Tough resource decisions at Ferrari

Ferrari F2007 carFerrari are having to make a tough decision when it comes to their car resources and development programmes.

The scarlet-clad team are currently fighting with McLaren for both titles and cannot afford to ease off some of the pressure, meaning they must continue to improve and develop their current F2007 car. However, they must also work on next year s car to ensure that they are fully competitive for the next season s racing.

“The balance is very difficult to achieve to be honest, because we are still fighting for the championship,” head of Ferrari s chassis department Aldo Costa explained. “There is a very long lead time of preparation for 2008 and it has to start. So it is a very tough period. We are still working on this car, pushing the development, but the 2008 car has to be seriously considered.”

“Next year s car will appear again at the beginning of January, but we still have to decide when. We will benefit from having the same rules for tyres and aerodynamics, so we will go in this respect towards a stable year. This unknown thing with be the MES electronic system which is pushing us to find a different compromise for the general car development, as there will not be any more driver aids.

“On the reliability side, it will be again a good challenge for the gearbox because it has to last for four races. And there is, of course, a material limitation in the composite area so there is a lot of thinking about that. So it is quite a busy winter and also, as I said before, a tough summer to work on two cars this year s car and next year s car.”

Button had a fun race

Despite finishing in 13th place, Jenson Button was pleased with his overall performance. Button had to start from the back of the grid after an engine change following Saturday s qualifying session.

Button overtook several cars during the race on Sunday and has admitted that he enjoyed the race. “It was a lot of fun passing 10 cars,” he explained. “If you put to one side where we finished because 13th position is still far from a good result I think we had a reasonable race compared to the last one.

“I had a good time and was able to pass quite a few of the midfield competitors that we have been struggling to keep pace with in recent races. Obviously, starting from the back of the grid is not something I want to have to repeat but we did a good join to right for something better and I think the team can be pleased with our performance today.”

No bad feeling between Trulli and Fisichella

It s the second year in a row that Giancarlo Fisichella has caused chaos at the Turkish Grand Prix. Last year he had a spin; this year, he hit the back of Jarno Trulli s Toyota, spinning him around at the first corner of the race.

Luckily, neither car was damaged, but both cars lost time along with the Super Aguris of Davidson and Sato, and the Honda of Button, all of whom had to drive wide to avoid a collision with the duo.

Fisichella eventually fought his way through the pack to finish ninth, just outside the points. Trulli struggled through the rest of the race, eventually finishing in sixteenth place.

Both drivers are being calm about the collision with Fisichella apologizing to Trulli, and Trulli shrugging the collision off as just a racing incident.

“We had the opportunity to get a better result, but that is racing,” Trulli explained. “It was a shame because the car was well balanced throughout the race and this is thanks to the hard work back at the factory. There was no clear lap for me to show my potential but the feeling of the car was good. The start went well but unfortunately, at the first corner, Fisichella hit me at the back and I lost a lot of positions. These things happen.”

“My race was compromised by what happened at the first corner,” Fisichella remarked. “Jarno braked very suddenly in front of me I had nowhere to go and ended up hitting him which cost me positions and made him spin. That ruined his race and I am sorry. But it also cost me the chance of finishing in the points. After that, it was tough I just had to drive flat out and hope for retirements. Unfortunately that didn t happen but the pace of the car was not too bad.”

Meanwhile, the two Super Aguri drivers are ruing the incident. Anthony Davidson shone in qualifying, just missing out on the final qualifying session in 11th place. However, he had to settle for 14th place overall on race day.

“It was a good start, but then I got sandwiched going into Turn One between Coulthard and Fisichella,” said Davidson. “Fisichella and Trulli touched, Trulli spun and I had to go on the outside of him off the track and when I rejoined I touched another car and damaged my front end, which definitely affected the balance of my car.

“It was a tough race from there on really. We had a good strategy. We got ahead of the Toro Rosso, which was who I was fighting with all race, so it is a shame to have had a bit of contact at the start. After that, it was a good clean race and it felt good to finish another Grand Prix.”

His team-mate Sato finished the day in 18th place. “It was a tough race,” Sato explained. “I did not have a very good start off the line, but I held my position. I was optimistic that I would be able to gain some positions in the back of the queue into Turn One, but just in front of me one of the Toyota cars spun and completely blocked my line.

“I had to brake really hard and to avoid him I had to go round the outside and I lost many places. From then on I had a very tough race and nothing else really happening. It is a shame to finish the race weekend like this, but we just struggled with grip all weekend and continue to lack the pace.”

Ralf loses his cool

Ralf Schumacher has not done his contract hopes any good over the Turkish Grand Prix weekend. After an excellent Friday which saw a competitive car and Ralf finishing third quickest, he was knocked out in the second round of qualifying, starting a surprisingly low 18th on the grid.

After qualifying, he was seen storming out of the back of the Toyota garage, ignoring all the press waiting around for him. He only returned to the garage when Toyota s media manager Fernando Villa-Boas reminded him that he had a commitment to the press.

“I had many problems and I do not know what,” Schumacher eventually explained. “The situation is not good.”

Although Schumacher is confident he will be in a Formula 1 race seat in 2008, rumours are circulating to the contrary. One of his remaining options is to swap seats with Nico Rosberg of Williams. Frank Williams made a passing comment about Schumacher over the weekend which has stirred up media interest over the 2008 line-ups of the two teams. “Alex is very highly regarded in our team,” Frank Williams began. “As Ralf is in the other Toyota team, our short list is very short.”

Schumacher believes that he did have a good chance of scoring some points over the weekend, however his poor qualifying show put pay to his hopes.

“I am not really happy with the result,” admitted the German. “I think we had the speed, but I couldn’t really push early in the race and the car was not ideal with the hard tyres, so I lost a bit of time. Also, because I was on a one-stop strategy my car was very heavy and that made it hard to push earlier in the race. But it was the right strategy as it was very difficult from where we were on the grid.

“As we have seen on Friday, we have decent race speed and when I was in clear air my pace was not so bad in the end. My lap times got better towards the end of the race and they were actually quite good. If our result in qualifying had been better we would have been able to score points. We can definitely expect to fight for points in the remaining races, starting at Monza in two weeks.”

2007 Turkish Grand Prix: Lap by Lap Report

Having taken victory at Istanbul Park last season, Felipe Massa will be looking to replicate his success during today s race. The 2007 Formula 1 Petrol Ofisi Turkish Grand Prix looks set to be a close battle between the Ferrari and McLaren teams, with Massa starting on pole alongside Lewis Hamilton. Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso start from row two for the 58 lap race.

With a track temperature of 52 degrees, it s likely that most teams will use the softer tyre which is slightly faster over a race distance, although not as durable. The softer option is actually a medium compound tyre, although softer than the harder compound supplied by Bridgestone for this weekend. Team strategy is likely to involve two pit stops, although some teams may gamble for one.

Despite concerns over initial traction from the dirtier side of the grid, both McLarens start on the harder compound tyre, whereas their archrivals start on the soft.

All drivers drive away for the parade lap. Coulthard complains of gearbox issues which have plagued the Red Bull team this season.

Lap 1 Raikkonen gets ahead of the McLaren of Hamilton, Alonso drops to sixth his second consecutive poor start having lost a number of places during the Hungarian Grand Prix. Webber moves into tenth, but Coulthard launches himself to ninth from thirteenth. Barrichello also has a good start, going from last to sixteenth. Trulli spins and falls to twenty-first after being knocked by Fisichella.

Lap 4 Hamilton appears to have the Ferraris in check as the leaders trade fastest sector times.

Lap 8 Trulli passes Button for seventeenth. Alonso lines up Heidfeld for fifth, after making such a poor start.

Lap 10 Mark Webber struggles with his Red Bull, being passed by Wurz and Fisichella. Webber is pushed back into the garage and into retirement, the first of the race.

Lap 11 Alonso just half a second behind Heidfeld, but unable to find a way past.

Lap 12 The softer compound appears the tyre to be on as the Ferraris begin to pull away from Hamilton.

Lap 13 Robert Kubica pits for BMW. Trulli makes an error through Turn Nine allowing Jenson Button to claim back seventeenth from the Italian.

Lap 15 Jenson closes in his team-mate Rubens Barrichello.

Lap 17 Button passes Barrichello into Turn One.

Lap 18 Heidfeld, Rosberg and Coulthard pit. Heidfeld rejoins ahead of Kubica, the Pole suffering from having such an early stop. Massa sets the fastest lap of the race so far on a 1:27.922 as Raikkonen pits; Kimi stays on the softer tyre.

Lap 19 Fernando Alonso pits and stays on the harder compound tyre, Wurz also pits. The Spaniard jumps Heidfeld for fourth.

Lap 20 Felipe Massa pits from the lead and rejoins ahead of his team-mate. Hamilton also pits and stays on the harder compound tyre. Kovalainen leads in his Renault.

Lap 21 Trulli pits along with Kovalainen, he rejoins ahead of Kubica.

Lap 22 Button passes Coulthard into Turn One.

Lap 23 Button, Yamamoto and Fisichella pit.

Lap 24 Rubens Barrichello pits his Honda. Alonso trails Hamilton by fourteen seconds.

Lap 31 Ralf Schumacher, who has yet to stop, closes down David Coulthard in the Red Bull but is unable to pass despite his fuel load.

Alonso is shown as being off-track at Turn Eight, but continues.

Lap 32 Raikkonen reduces Massa s lead by three tenths to 2.4 seconds. Hamilton continues to struggle to find a way to catch the leading Ferrari s.

Lap 33 Ralf Schumacher pits for Toyota, his only stop of the race.

Lap 34 Alonso sets his personal fastest lap of the race.

Lap 36 Rosberg continues to catch Kubica for seventh. The following lap Kubica pits.

Lap 37 – Raikkonen, having taken over a second out of Massa s lead over the previous two laps, is just over a second behind the Brazilian.

Lap 39 Ferrari mechanics come out into the pit lane, but both Ferraris drive through.

Lap 40 Raikkonen pits, but overruns his box by half a metre. Despite this he takes on the harder compound tyre and leaves the pit quickly.

Lap 41 Massa pits and rejoins ahead of Raikkonen, but in third with Hamilton and Alonso now first and second.

Lap 42 Hamilton suffers a right front tyre failure, leaving the road but managing to rejoin and drive back to the pit lane.

Lap 43 Hamilton trails fourth place Heidfeld by 3.3 seconds. The Brit having to complete the remaining laps with damaged aerodynamics.

Lap 50 Kovalainen given information that Lewis Hamilton has a damaged front wing and may be able to pass him before the end of the race.

Lap 57 Raikkonen sets the fastest lap of the race on a 1:27.295.

Lap 58 Felipe Massa takes victory for the second year in a row in Istanbul. Raikkonen finishes second, no doubt rueing his mistake during final qualifying yesterday. Fernando Alonso finishes third ahead of BMW Sauber s Nick Heidfeld, with Lewis Hamilton finishing fifth just ahead of Renault s Heikki Kovalainen. Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica make up the final points finishing positions.

2007 Turkish Grand Prix: Qualifying

Qualifying for the 2007 Formula 1 Petrol Ofisi Turkish Grand Prix starts under sunny skies in Istanbul Park, with a track temperature of 49 and air temperature of 35 degrees. This qualifying session should see an almighty battle between the McLaren and Ferrari teams.

Q1

Sato is the first driver to join the circuit, with unusually, a number of drivers deciding to take to the track right from the start of the session. Sato aborts his first flying lap. Ralf Schumacher sets a time to go second behind the Williams of Wurz.

With eight minutes remaining, Massa and Alonso have yet to take to the track with most drivers having already left the pits on the harder compound tyre. Yamamoto spins his Super Aguri at Turn Ten as he attempts to improve his time of 1:31.479. Ralf Schumacher falls foul to the final run of the session, finishing eighteenth as he continues to struggle this season.

Drivers knocked out:

17. V. Liuzzi
18. R. Schumacher
19. T. Sato
20. S. Vettel
21. A. Sutil
22. S. Yamamoto

Q2

Raikkonen sets the first competitive time of 1:26.902, three tenths faster than any other time set during the weekend so far. Hamilton and Massa set similar times but fail to overturn the Finn. Alonso, with 4:47 remaining on the clock sets a faster time of 1:26.841 to underline the speed of the McLaren round this circuit. The BMW Saubers set identical times, lining up fifth and sixth on a 1:27.253. During the dieing moments of qualifying, Anthony Davidson put his car in eighth, only to be pushed back in eleventh by the close. The Brit drove his car beyond its limit much to the pleasure of the fans.

Drivers knocked out:

11. A. Davidson
12. M. Webber
13. D. Coulthard
14. R. Barrichello
15. J. Button
16. A. Wurz

Q3:

Raikkonen leads the other nine cars out for the third and final qualifying session. Trulli, with eights minutes remaining, is the first to pit for tyres in which to set his first flying lap, suggesting the Italian is on a low fuel load. However it s Raikkonen who sets the first competitive time of 1:27.546, only to be beaten by Massa on a 1:27.520. Alonso and Hamilton set times fast enough to sit in third and fourth behind the Ferraris. With three minutes remaining all will go again. Alonso is delayed in his pit giving the Spaniard just 1:40.00 to complete his out lap on harder compound tyres.

Raikkonen makes a mistake through the penultimate corner losing a tenth and fails to improve. Hamilton goes fastest, only for Massa to grab pole on a 1:27.329. Alonso finishes fourth ahead of the BMWs of Kubica and Heidfeld.

Provisional top ten for tomorrow s Turkish Grand Prix:

1. F. Massa
2. L. Hamilton
3. K. Raikkonen
4. F. Alonso
5. R. Kubica
6. N. Heidfeld
7. H. Kovalainen
8. N. Rosberg
9. J. Trulli
10. G. Fisichella

Turkish Grand Prix – Practice Session 2 Round-up

Lewis Hamilton showed his pace in the afternoon session to finish top in practice session 2 of the Turkish Grand Prix.

The session was disrupted mid-way through when a drain cover came loose at Turn 10 causing a 20 minute red flag. Giancarlo Fisichella inadvertently caused the problems when he ran over the drain cover, detaching it and sending it flying. The drain cover came to a rest on the grass next to the track. Officials chose to stop the session whilst they checked out the problem. When the session resumed, many drivers were unable to improve on their previous times.

Hamilton set a fastest lap time of 1:28.469, just ahead of the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. However, the Ferrari driver still holds the fastest time of the day with a fastest lap set in session 1 of 1:27.988.

Toyota had a better afternoon with Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli putting in the third and fourth fastest times of the session. This meant that the stranglehold at the top end of McLaren and Ferrari was broken with Felipe Massa managing to finish fifth, with Alonso sixth although both men were only around four tenths of a second slower than Lewis Hamilton.

With three minutes remaining, Anthony Davidson locked his wheels at Turn 3, sending his Super Aguri into the barriers and causing yellow flags to be shown. It wasn t  Davidson s only hair-raising moment earlier in the session, he was approaching Turn 8 when he came across a very slow moving Sebastien Vettel. Already committed to the corner, Davidson took a minor excursion off-track before rejoining, whilst Vettel limped around to the pits so his mechanics could fix his mechanical issue.

David Coulthard suffered a fuel leak in practice session 1, causing a spin and a fire. The Red Bull team were forced to change his engine and carry out repairs meaning the Scotsman missed the early parts of the session. He did manage to put some laps in, making it home in eleventh place.

Unofficial times from practice session 2 of the Turkish Grand Prix:

Istanbul Park, 2007 - Practice session 2 times

Briatore insists Formula 1 is his priority

Despite having recently been involved in the takeover deal of British football club Queen s Park Rangers, Renault boss Flavio Briatore has said he remains fully committed to Formula 1.

Briatore is part of a consortium who are considering taking over the football club, at a time when Bernie Ecclestone is rumoured to be looking at buying part of London club Arsenal. Briatore s talks regarding the takeover are ongoing however he has stated that even if the deal is successful, no attention will be diverted away from his Formula 1 team.

“It is like any other business,” Briatore said. “I opened Cipriana in London but I am not in the kitchen cooking I have people managing it. It is possible to have different businesses and not be involved. My business is F1. Formula 1 is my priority 100%. Everything else we do in a professional way, but we are a group of friends. It is more fun. My focus is F1, especially next year because next year for us, we need to be competitive again. This year we are a bit on holiday and next year we need to get back to business.”

Briatore has denied that a deal with QPR is already done and dusted and he is surprised that his bid has attracted so much media interest. “We are talking,” he continued. “We are a bunch of friend together. I don t think it is such a big issue. There are a lot of people talking at this moment with QPR and we are talking like that. I know the guys involved and it is like that but it is nothing formally done. Absolutely nothing.”