Super Aguri insist they will start the season on time

Super AguriSuper Aguri have insisted that they will make the starting grid for the first race of the 2008 Formula One season in Australia next month.

Super Aguri missed the final week s full pre-season test session as they continued to talk with potential investors over the state of the team, although officially they missed the session over a mix-up over car parts.

“The cancellation was because some parts hadn’t arrived in time,” Super Aguri’s co-owner Fumio Akita told Reuters. “We are usually scrambling to be ready for the start of the season. It was very tight last year and this year is following the same pattern. But we will be on the grid for Melbourne. We’re not worried at all about missing out.

Talks are still going on and I’m told there are three potential investors. Obviously, we have to think of the future and what’s best for the team. It might be 100 percent. But obviously any sponsors or investors who leave the infrastructure there and back the team to improve results would be ideal.

“How much any potential stake in the team would be does depend on the conditions the investor has. But even if it’s a 100 percent stake you can’t sensibly get rid of the team per se. If you have no Aguri Suzuki you probably lose Honda as engine suppliers. If investors come in and say they can bring in BMW engines that’s a different story.

“But even if we give up 100 percent share it doesn’t necessarily mean the owner or the team name goes with it.”

Bridgestone announce compound options

F1 s sole tyre supplier Bridgestone has announced the compounds they will be sending out for the first nine rounds of the Formula One season.

The actual allocation of tyres (super-soft, soft, medium and hard) have remained pretty much the same. The only exception is Bahrain which will be using medium and soft compounds as opposed to 2007 when hard an medium compounds were used.

The super-soft tyres which will featured at the Monaco and Canadian Grands Prix have a slightly different compound to the one used last season. The remaining three compounds remain the same.

“Tyre allocation choice for the first half of the season has been made easier by the continuity of our tyres from last year,” Hirohide Hamashima explained. “We have made a minor evolutionary change to the construction of the dry tyres for safety and we have modified the super soft compound, but apart from that the tyres are the same.

“However, we should see faster lap times as teams and drivers now have a year’s experience with these tyres and the cars are being developed all the time. For Bahrain, having looked at the data we accumulated last year, and data from the recent test there, we are confident about using softer tyres.

“In the second half of the season we will have more of a challenge with tyre allocation as we visit two new street courses at Valencia and Singapore. These will be announced at a later date.”

Tyre options for the 2008 F1 season:

	       Super Soft     Soft     Medium     Hard
Australia                      X          X
Malaysia                                  X         X
Bahrain                        X          X
Spain                                     X         X
Turkey                                    X         X
Monaco             X           X
Canada             X           X
France                         X          X
Britain                                   X         X

Williams announce two new sponsors

The Williams F1 team have announced two new sponsors for the 2008 season. The first is trendy fashion label All Saints, and the second sponsor is a new diamond website mydiamonds.com. Mydiamonds.com is owned by Aurum Holdings who also own the brands Mappin & Webb, Goldsmiths, and Watches of Switzerland.

“I am probably one of the only a handful of non-professionals to have ever driven a Williams car and I am thrilled to be able to sponsor such a great British team,” Kevin Stanford from All Saints said. “This deal offers fantastic international exposure for All Saints and fits perfectly with out ambitions for the brand.”

Frank Williams said, “Kevin has been a keen supporter of the team and I am delighted that All Saints will be joining us as a partner. I look forward to the contribution we can make to the All Saints international ambitions.

“We are delighted to welcome mydiamonds.com to the team and look forward to playing a significant role in the launch of this exciting development in online jewellery retailing.”

Justin Stead, Chief Executive of Aurum explained, “This sponsorship deal offers an exciting, global marketing platform to launch mydiamonds.com. It forms an important part of our strategy in establishing mydiamonds.com as a destination online store for loose diamonds and diamond kewellery.”

The sky’s the limit for Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher is showing no signs of slowing down despite making millions from his time in Formula 1 – Schumacher is forging ahead with business ventures, the latest being putting his name to a new skyscraper in Dubai. Schumacher is set to make around 5 million euros from the deal on the 29 storey high complex, named the Michael Schumacher Business Avenue.

Schumacher s manager Willi Weber has confirmed the skyscraper deal and has also said that office space within the building sold out in three days. “Demand was enormous,” he explained. “Within three days, all offices were sold.”

The complex overlooks one of the top hotels in Dubai, the Burk Al Arab, and is planned to hold apartments as well as office space. The skyscraper is due to officially open in 2010.

Slicks to be tested again in April

When official F1 testing resumes mid-season in April, the teams will once again be testing out slick tyres.

In December, many of the teams tested some slick tyres in Jerez. Bridgestone has confirmed that they will be providing ‘experimental slick tyres to F1 teams in April in anticipation of an expected tyre rule change for the 2009 season.

“Of course we are looking to a possible change for next season and that is why we will be evaluating our latest slick development tyre when we next test in April,” Bridgestone s Tetsuro Kobayashi explained. “We have modified the super soft compound, but this will not be seen in use until later in the year. The other compounds the hard, medium and soft are the same as last year.”

Rosberg hints at mid-field pace

Nico Rosberg has hinted that Williams could find themselves competing in the mid field come Melbourne despite impressive form from the team in pre-season testing.

In a slightly ambiguous comment following the third day of testing at Barcelona today Rosberg said that there would be little to choose between the competitors in the mid-field.

“It s going to be close in the middle of the field so we ll have to see how we do,” he said after Williams concluded their pre-season testing at Barcelona today.

“I m now looking forward to getting to Australia. It should be a lot of fun,” he added.

As Forumula1.com reported earlier in the week, Williams s 2008 challenger, the FW30 has been showing promising signs in testing with some talk of the team being third quickest behind Mclaren and Ferrari.

Both Rosberg and his Japanese team-mate Kazuki Nakajima have been consistently at the top end of the time-sheets making Rosberg s hint that the team would find themselves in the mid-field even more unusual.

Indeed, the 22-year-old went third quickest on the third day of testing at Barcelona today suggesting that he may be talking down the team s actual potential ahead of the Australian Grand Prix in early March.

A surprising end to pre-season testing

It was a surprising end to the final full pre-season test session Barcelona with the Toyota of Jarno Trulli topping the timesheets. The Italian s best time was four tenths ahead of the RB4 of David Coulthard with the Scot rejoining the test session have sat out the Tuesday session thanks to a minor neck injury.

The day was marred by red flags with seven seen throughout the day. The McLaren of Lewis Hamilton brought out the first red flag of the session early in the morning when he stopped at the end of the pit-lane. Toyota caused there of the red flags fastest man Trulli stopped on-track mid-afternoon, whilst his team-mate stopped at Turn 11 early in the morning with a mechanical problem, before tapping the tyre wall at Turn 8 just after midday.

Heidfeld stopped at Turn 10 with gearbox problems during the morning session before causing a second stoppage just before 4pm. Sebastien Bourdais caused the remaining red flag when he spun at Turn 1 just after 3pm.

Unofficial Testing Times (27/02/08)

Pos  Driver        Team                   Time      Laps
 1.  Trulli        Toyota                 1:20.801   83
 2.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault       1:21.258   76
 3.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota        1:21.293   77
 4.  Kovalainen    McLaren-Mercedes       1:21.309   87
 5.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault       1:21.368   91
 6.  Piquet        Renault                1:21.443  114
 7.  Alonso        Renault                1:21.454  128
 8.  Nakajima      Williams-Toyota        1:21.796  124
 9.  Raikkonen     Ferrari                1:21.933   80
10.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes       1:22.011   88
11.  Glock         Toyota                 1:22.155   49
12.  Fisichella    Force India-Ferrari    1:22.233   90
13.  Massa         Ferrari                1:22.286   49
14.  Kubica        BMW-Sauber             1:22.299   93
15.  Bourdais      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:22.465   79
16.  Sutil         Force India-Ferrari    1:22.521   97
17.  Heidfeld      BMW-Sauber             1:22.624   61
18.  Wurz          Honda                  1:24.154   82
19.  Button        Honda                  1:24.275   73

Another strong performance for the McLaren duo

McLaren MP4-23The second day of testing saw McLaren once again edge ahead of Ferrari with Lewis Hamilton topping the timesheet, closely followed by Heikki Kovalainen.

The day was dry allowing all teams to complete a good day of testing. The McLaren duo tested out some more developments on their MP4-23 and Hamilton ended the day nearly half a second faster than the quickest Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.

David Coulthard chose to sit the session out the Scottish driver has a neck injury and he chose not to test to ensure that he did not aggravate his neck any further. Sebastien Vettel took his place in the RB4 and finished the day in seventh place.

Unofficial Testing Times (26/02/08)

Pos  Driver        Team                   Time     Laps
 1.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes       1:21.234   81
 2.  Kovalainen    McLaren-Mercedes       1:21.434   68
 3.  Raikkonen     Ferrari                1:21.722   72
 4.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota        1:22.309   75
 5.  Massa         Ferrari                1:22.513  102
 6.  Fisichella    Force India-Ferrari    1:22.516  102
 7.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault       1:22.558  109
 8.  Kubica        BMW-Sauber             1:22.625   94
 9.  Button        Honda                  1:22.659   67
10.  Liuzzi        Force India-Ferrari    1:22.942   89
11.  Nakajima      Williams-Toyota        1:22.977  100
12.  Trulli        Toyota                 1:23.023   98
13.  Alonso        Renault                1:23.112   77
14.  Barrichello   Honda                  1:23.169   74
15.  Heidfeld      BMW-Sauber             1:23.284   77
16.  Bourdais      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:23.323   98
17.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault       1:23.458   58
18.  Piquet        Renault                1:23.467   45
19.  Glock         Toyota                 1:23.561   80

Alonso: driving without traction control “not easy”

Fernando Alonso has admitted that the arrival of Standard Electronic Control Units and the ban on driver aids will make it difficult to negotiate corners without wheelspin.

The double world champion said that it will become “almost impossible” to prevent wheelspin as a result of the loss of traction control.

“It becomes almost impossible to stop it even if you back off the throttle,” the Spaniard told Formula1.com.

“When you have wheelspin, the revs rise and you have more torque, which makes the wheels spin even more.

“To deliver a good lap time, it is essential to avoid wheelspin through all parts of the corner, and that is not easy.”

The Renault driver also expects his competitors to make radical changes to their racing style as a result of the regulation changes.

“You have to change your driving style quite dramatically,” he said.

“Last year we used to go straight to full throttle, but now we need to be gentler and feather the throttle.”

Another upshot of SECUs is the loss of engine breaking systems (EBS). Teams will no longer be able to transmit brief bursts of power (‘throttle blipping ) to the car to prevent the rear wheels locking up under braking.

This will put a greater emphasis on car setup according to Alonso.

“Without EBS you do suffer with locking of the rear tyres because stopping a car travelling at 300 km/h is not easy,” he said.

“You have to adapt the set-up of the car to compensate for the loss of all the systems.”

Mosley: Schumacher would beat Hamilton

It is an oft-discussed debate in a straight fight between Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher, who would win? Max Mosley has said he would put his money on Schumacher over Hamilton.

Austrian broadcaster ORF asked the FIA president who he thought would win in a hypothetical head-to-head. “Schumacher!” Mosley exclaimed. “If you think about his team-mates, they were almost all very strong and some of them were tremendously strong but he was always the strongest,” Mosley explained.

Mosley also spoke about reducing costs in Formula 1, and how he has his doubts over biofuels.

“If we can succeed in what we intend, and a manufacturer can clearly see that the costs are under control and the research expenditures are reasonable and in a useful direction, then I think we will see new ones.

“I have enormous concerns about biofuel,” he continued. “What we really need to be looking at is better exploiting the source of the energy.”