Welcome back Fernando

_26Y4292A hundred thousand Spanish hearts shattered to pieces on Sunday as Fernando Alonso s Renault V8 buckled and spluttered with agonising corollary. But the real damage, the lethal silent kind, came a day earlier when the double World Champion signalled to his rivals, with devastating effect: “I m back”.

Welcome back Fernando. We missed you. Yes, we, the Hamilton-worshipping British press, the ones who cannot put last year behind us, the ones who hang on your every word only to twist, manipulate and distort, we really did miss you.

Tenths of a second speak in Formula One and the paddock needed no accompanying prose to interpret the significance of Alonso s blistering P2-sealing 1m 21.904 lap in qualifying: Fernando was well and truly back.

If there is one thing wrong with the current qualifying format it is the way it masks, disguises and makes irrelevant come the following day displays of pure racing genius over the single lap.

Yes he was lighter, yes there was an element of show-boating involved, and yes he turned out to be slower than the Ferraris and McLarens; but what a stunning lap nonetheless. Make no mistake, in the context of the arms race that is F1 car design, no team, not even Renault, could make such a leap in performance in such a short period of time.

The Alonso factor came into its element. Renault lifted the car out of the mid-field, Alonso, the world champion that he is, did what he is paid $13m for and hustled an average car into not-so-average position. They say that your home crowd affords you half a second. One wonders if Alonso didn t find a little bit more from his 100,000 strong partisan support.

Encouragingly for Renault, Barcelona is very much the litmus test for good design. Get it right there and you re in good shape for the rest of the season.

The team will no doubt be buoyed also by the performance of Nelson Piquet who stormed into the elite top-ten for the first time this season.

In Alonso s own words: “It is unbelievable. It s difficult to describe or say anything as the team did a huge effort to improve the car. We keep doing work. We started the season with a little bit of disappointment because maybe in the winter we expected to be a bit stronger than we were in the first few races.”

“Now is not the time to give up. Now is the time to work even harder after the disappointments. The team made a step here and they have very aggressive plans to come in the coming races, so step-by-step we need to raise our level.”

“That makes me very happy and hopeful of things for the future.” Us too Fernando.

Ferrari: New nose cone may not feature at all races

Ferrari have revealed that they may not use their radical nose cone in all races this season. The new nose cone was one of the worst kept secrets in Formula One this season however it has been a good concept for the team who raced with it for the first time on Sunday, taking both first and second spots at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Despite the initial success of the design, team principal Stefano Domenicali has revealed that for the faster F1 circuits, the team may revert back to their old nose cone design.

“We still have to evaluate it,” he began. “On this type of track, as far as the balance of the car is concerned, it was fundamental together with the rest of the package. But I can t say that we will use it everywhere. In theory, medium-quick circuits like this one are the ones where we can really use it; the super-quick ones are in doubt – we ll have to evaluate that.”

Meanwhile, Ferrari s technical director Aldo Costa has said he is pleased with how the nose cone performed. In an interview with Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport he said, “There are reasons to be pleased with the performance of the car across the weekend. The developments have been positive and in our programs, we plan to launch new ones race after race.

“There will be some new ones in a fortnight s time in Turkey too they will concern the aerodynamics and they will be visible, just like this hole. We won t be plugging this hole for a while at least we would be crazy with the results it is giving us!”

It appears that Ferrari s new nose cone has attracted the attention of their rivals with rumours that BMW Sauber will be attempted to create their own version and put it through it s paces in their Hinwil wind tunnel. “I am almost certain that it would also work on some of the other cars so we will have a look,” explained BMW s technical director Willy Rampf.

A new bidder for Super Aguri?

Super AguriAccording to some news reports, the German automotive company the Weigl Group are about to put in bid for Super Aguri.

Having had their last bidders pull out at the last minute, the Super Aguri team have been in turmoil trying to secure their financial future. Since the deal with the Magma Group collapsed, the team have been working hard to find new investors.

It is understood that the Weigl Group are planning to offer the team around £6.5 million enough money to keep the team afloat for now until they can find a more long-term solution.

Super Aguri driver Anthony Davidson has always remained calm over the team s situation, focusing instead on the job at hand. But the cool Brit has finally spoken up and vented some of his frustrations at other drivers who don t seem to realise how good they have it.

David Coulthard has recently referred to the Japanese team as the “stupid Aguris” because they are frequently the backmarkers and are sometimes seen to get in the way when they are being lapped.

“They can shut up right now!” Davidson said. “When you can hardly see what the hell is going on because the car is shaking around so much and you are just focused on keeping the damn thing on the track, the last thing you can do is be bothered about others trying to lap you.

“I would love to swap cars with these drivers I really believe some of them would struggle – or even crack if they were in our position.”

French law courts can’t ban Mosley video

FIA President Max Mosley has been dealt a further blow by the French courts who have told him that they have no powers to ban the News of the World s video from being shown on the internet.

Despite a similar judgement by English law courts, Mosley had filed legal action in France in the hope of getting the video banned from being shown in the country. France has stricter privacy laws than England therefore Mosley hoped that his legal action would be successful.

The Paris court ruled that it was unable to block the video from being shown on the internet, however the photographs that had been printed in the paper version of the newspaper were in violation of privacy laws therefore and copies available in France had to be withdrawn by the newspaper.

GPDA to push for larger run-off area

The Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA) looks set to request that, in light of Heikki Kovalainen s spectacular crash over the weekend, the FIA extend the run-off area at Turn 9 on the Barcelona track.

Kovalainen crashed into the tyre barrier after a mechanical failure on his car. It is estimated that he was travelling around 130km/h when he hit the barrier and experienced around 27G of deceleration forces. Luckily for the Finnish driver he escaped shaken but unhurt and is expected to race in the Turkish Grand Prix in a fortnight.

Talking to Autosport, current GPDA director Mark Webber has explained that they will be pushing for changes to be made to the corner ahead of next season s race at the track.

“We need to make the run-off there a bit bigger,” he explained. “Bourdais also had a crash there in testing and we need to look at it. The run-off on the exit of the corner is good, but not so on the entry. If you have a problem on the way in, there is not enough run off. But we will learn from the accident and we’ll move the barriers back next year I am sure.”

Meanwhile, the FIA are investigating why it took doctors so long to reach Kovalainen after the crash. The Finn was trapped underneath the tyre barriers, unconscious, and it took the doctors several minutes before they arrived on scene.

Dr. Stephen Olvey, a member of the FIA safety division, has said that delays of only a few minutes can prove the different between whether the driver survives the accident or not.

“If you are unconscious and perhaps not breathing, you don t have more than two or three minutes before you get some kin of significant damage, so that s going to have to be looked into,” he explained to the Associated Press.

A spokesperson for the FIA confirmed they are looking into the incident. “It is too early to comment on the incident other than to confirm the FIA s safety experts have already begun a very detailed analysis of the accident data.”

Davidson continues preparations for Turkish Grand Prix

Super AguriSuper Aguri driver Anthony Davidson has said he is preparing for the next race in Turkey as normal despite the uncertainty over whether his team will make it to the grid or not. Super Aguri are still in talks with Honda over the future of the team after a deal with the Magma Group fell through earlier this month. The talks, which are being held in Tokyo tomorrow, are critical in the survival of Super Aguri as Honda will decide whether the team will continue in F1 or not.

Davidson has explained he is putting all the team problems to the back of his mind and is continuing to prepare as he would for any race. “You have to,” he began. “I have to do the training for Turkey – it’s a demanding circuit on the left-hand-side of the neck and body, so I have to get on and do that.

“And without finishing the race here (Barcelona) well, without even doing more than four laps it doesn’t really do much for your race fitness, so you have got to do as much as you can away from the circuit.

Meanwhile F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has revealed his is not optimistic about the future of Super Aguri. “They don t look in very good shape,” he explained to Reuters. “I want them to stay I ve been helping them the last week.”

At the last race meet, team owner Aguri Suzuki was unable to confirm that his team would make the grid for the Turkish Grand Prix in a fortnight.

No warning that Alonso’s engine would fail

Fernando Alonso put in a stunning performance at Barcelona to qualify on the front row of the grid in front of his home crowd. However his hopes of scoring some points at the Spanish Grand Prix were dashed when on lap 35, his engine failed and he retired for the first time this season.

Renault s engine chief Rob White has said that they are determined to get to the bottom of what caused the failure as there were no warning signs that the engine was about to fail.

“There was no warning Fernando s engine failure was coming,” White explained. “How we go about resolving the problem does not change we need the same discipline and the same speed of reaction to decide what counter-measures might be required.”

Denis Chevrier, head of trackside operations for Renault, has also confirmed that the engine failure was unexpected. “You know, it s a typical very sudden failure something which really could be considered worrying perhaps half a lap before,” he began. “But there was nothing we could do, nothing in accordance with how we used the engine.

“It was quite low of mileage compared to a normal race engine potential; It was a pure failure and we must make sure what it is and then consider how it involves the next engines. The only question now is what to do in the future.”

Kovalainen: I am feeling well and in good spirits

Heikki Kovalainen has spoken for the first time since his horrific crash in Barcelona yesterday, the Finn reporting a slight headache and a stiff neck but otherwise feeling fit and well.

The 26-year-old has been cleared of any head injuries or broken bones following an overnight stay at the Hospital General de Catalunya in Sant Cugat del Valles in Spain.

“I have a slight headache and a stiff neck, but apart from that I am feeling well and in good spirits," said the McLaren driver. "My focus is on getting better as soon as possible so I can pass the FIA medical inspection required to allow me to race in Turkey.”

The team has established that Kovalainen speed was approximately 240km/h when the tyre deflated and about 130km/h when he hit the tyre barrier. He experienced a 27g deceleration.

The McLaren ace does not remember anything about his accident other than the aftermath and was quick to praise the medical team for their swift response.

“I don’t remember anything from the accident or what happened afterwards but would obviously like to thank all the circuit emergency staff, the FIA medical team at the track and the doctors at the hospital for all their efforts in looking after me. Also thank you for all the messages I have received they all mean a lot.”

The cause of the accident is not yet known but the early signs are that a broken wheel rim triggered a left front tyre failure.

“The team told me that the left front wheel rim might have broken which could have lead to the sudden deflation of the tyre. However we have to wait for further inspections to be able to confirm the exact cause. What is especially important is the fact that the monocoque withstood the heavy impact, so credit should also be given to everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for that.”

Kovalainen expected to race in Turkey

McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen is expected to race at the Turkish Grand Prix in two weeks time. The Finnish driver suffered a horrific accident over the weekend when he ploughed into a tyre wall at an estimated 200 km/h (140mph) after a mechanical failure on the car.

Kovalainen was knocked unconscious by the crash which produced a force of 26G. The Finn soon regained consciousness and was able to wave to the crowd as he was stretchered away from the accident scene. He was then airlifted to the Hospital General de Catalunya as a precaution but it appears that no damage was done and he should be fit for the next race.

Talking to reporters Ron Dennis confirmed, “His scans are completely clear. There is no physical damage to him at all and no trauma damage to his brain – he’s completely clear.

“He s a little concussed but not as a result of anything other than the trauma of the accident – there’s no damage or bruising or bleeding. So we’re quite optimistic about the next race.

“I’m not a doctor so I must qualify what I say – I spoke to our doctor at the hospital and we’re quite optimistic that at this very early stage he’ll be able to race because there is no damage, bruising or bleeding.”

Theissen hoping for safety car rule change

BMW Sauber s motor sport boss Mario Theissen is hoping for a change in the safety car rules. BMW driver Nick Heidfeld was penalised during the Spanish Grand Prix having pitted under the safety car whilst the pit-lane was closed. Heidfeld had to pit as he was running out of fuel. As a result of this, the German driver received a 10 second stop-go penalty which pushed him to the very back of the field and effectively ruined his race. Heidfeld finished the day in ninth place.

Talking to reporters after the race, Theissen said, “It’s a lottery, you cannot plan for it. You put up your strategy before the race and you can only hope it doesn’t happen. We tried to call Nick in but it was maybe two seconds too late – he had just passed the pit-lane entry so there was no choice.

“We could do another two laps and then we had to call him in. We knew it would be a 10 second penalty but there was nothing we could do about it. I know the team managers and the FIA are discussing this rule already and I hope they will come up with a solution soon. It would be good if we get something before these races.”