Hamilton: Car is blindingly quick!

Hamilton brazilLewis Hamilton is confident he has the machinery underneath him to win the world championship in Brazil this weekend, despite being beaten by championship rival Felipe Massa in Friday practice.

The McLaren driver, who is hoping to become the first British world champion since Damon Hill in 1996, lapped second quickest in the morning session, and dropped to ninth in the afternoon after experimenting with his race setup.

LEWIS HAMILTON
“Our car was blindingly quick this morning despite the cold weather, which made the track feel quite slippery. This afternoon we focused on our race pace – but we were interrupted by the threat of rain and the changeable wind direction. I flat-spotted my tyres on a couple of runs, but I m positive that the changes we ve made will put us in a good position for tomorrow.”

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN
“A decent Friday practice session and we now have a good understanding of tyre performance following our comparison work and evaluation. We were fine-tuning the balance of the car all the time and the outcome makes me happy, although this isn t reflected in the fastest lap times. So we ve found a good baseline to work on for the rest of the weekend.”

RON DENNIS
“Today was a slightly tricky day for many of the teams – with graining, particularly of the option tyre, a particular problem with the less-than-optimal track temperatures caused by the inclement weather conditions. In fact, we suspect that some teams may have dropped their fuel loads in an effort to nullify that problem, but we didn’t. Instead we adhered to a disciplined programme, all the while assessing our raceable options. We made steady progress with our understanding of the available downforce levels, tyre choices and brake materials, and we feel confident that the lessons we learned today will pay dividends on Sunday.”

NORBERT HAUG
“This were certainly not one of the better 2008 Friday s rankings for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. But I doubt whether today s order represents Sunday s competitive situation. We had a conservative approach to the afternoon session to simulate extremes that can take place during the race on Sunday. But of course we still have to optimise both cars. I am confident we can qualify tomorrow in positions that enable us to score the necessary points on Sunday.”

Huge Hamilton painting goes on display in London

Image000A giant painting of championship hopeful Lewis Hamilton has gone on display today near Tower Bridge in London.

Hamilton could become the youngest driver to win the Formula One world championship on Sunday the first British driver to do so since Damon Hill in 1996.

Marking the Briton’s achievements this season and anticipating title glory in Brazil the huge 8 by 12 metre painting will remain on display at the iconic London landmark until after the Brazilian Grand Prix on November 2.

The picture has been designed by Birmingham-based artist Ian Cook, who, not content with the inherent association with cars and motor racing that the image portrays, elected to paint it it by steering radio-controlled cars around the giant canvas, training paint in their wake.

“I m really excited to be working on this project; Lewis has one of the most famous faces in sport and it has been interesting to capture his image in a style so closely linked to his profession,” said Cook. “I hope lots of people come down to see the finished portrait, it has to be seen to be believed!”

The painting was commissioned by one of Hamilton’s personal sponsors, Reebok.

FIA condemn anti-Hamilton website

The FIA has issued a statement condemning derogatory comments made by fans of a Spanish website against Lewis Hamilton.

The website, pinchalaruedadehamilton.com, which translates literally as ‘burst Hamilton’s tyre’, provides a forum for anti-Hamilton fans and has attracted almost 20,000 comments, large numbers of them with racist undertones.

The regulating body, which established the ‘Every Race’ campaign earlier in the year in response to racist abuse being hurled at Hamilton during testing in Barcelona, denounced the website.

“The FIA’s position is very clear. Discrimination and prejudice can have no place in sport or society. Everyone in our sport will join us in condemning these abusive and hateful comments,” an FIA spokesman said.

Hamilton’s team, McLaren-Mercedes, joined the governing body in its denunciation of the activity.

“McLaren was one of the earliest supporters of the FIA’s ‘Every Race’ campaign, and we support that campaign still,” said a team spokesman.

“We’ve seen today’s statement from an FIA spokesman, and we can only echo it.”

2008 Australian GP records another loss

A recent report filed at the state parliament has shown that the Australian Grand Prix is continuing to lose money and the amount the event loses each year is increasing.

In 2005, the event lost $13 million. In 2006, the figure had risen to $22 million. 2007 saw the event lose $34 million. This year s Melbourne race has shown that $40 million was lost, mainly thanks to a $5 million increase in expenditure and decreasing amounts of sponsorship.

Mallya: Technical partner will be announced soon

Force India s co-owner Vijay Mallya has confirmed that an announcement concerning their technical partner for the 2009 season will be just before or during the Brazilian Grand Prix race weekend.

Force India are currently powered by Ferrari engines however it is common knowledge that they have been in talks with McLaren-Mercedes over a possible technical package for 2009. Mallya has revealed that he chose to talk to McLaren about a deal because he wasn t sure that Ferrari would be able to bundle a KERS package into next year s deal.

Mallya has also said that despite the fact his team trialled their own gearbox this season, he is looking to buy a complete transmission system for the 2009 F1 season.

“I am in active discussion with McLaren and Ferrari,” Mallya explained. “We will make an announcement either in Brazil, or before Brazil.

“Adrian suffered gearbox failure. At the end of the day what sense does it make for me to have a great engine, a great KERS system, and a gearbox that’s tentative. That’s why I said go for the whole hog, a good tried and proven and tested package from the top two teams. And that’s what I’m seeking to achieve.”

One possible complication if a McLaren deal were to go ahead is that Force India already have a contract with Ferrari and with negotiations taking place so late in the season, Ferrari may already have incurred costs putting together Force India s 2009 package.

“It is recognised that if for whatever reason we need to part, it will be a very friendly parting and that’s all agreed,” Mallya continued.

“If they have incurred some costs developing engines for us for next year, we’ll talk about it. We’re certainly not going to be bloody minded. If they have incurred costs on my behalf, I think I owe it to them to offer to reimburse.”

Massa attacks Jordan over foul play remarks

Massa FaceFelipe Massa has hit back at former team boss Eddie Jordan over claims that he would consider resorting to dirty tactics in his title showdown with Lewis Hamilton in Brazil this Sunday.

The Ferrari driver took offence to comments made by Jordan that warned Hamilton to retaliate should Massa try to take him out in Sunday’s race.

Massa arrives in Brazil with a seven points deficit to Hamilton and will be hard-pressed to win the championship should the McLaren driver enjoy an incident-free race.

But the Brazilian insists he has no intention of resorting to foul play and is focussed only on winning the race.

“Playing dirty has never been part of my game,” the 27-year-old is quoted as saying by the Press Association. “I don’t want anything to do with it. The only thing on my mind is winning the race.

“The rest does not depend on me. If I’m champion, it will be a dream come true. If not, that’s okay. I will try again next year.”

He went on to slam Eddie Jordan as a ‘has-been’ member of the F1 fraternity: “Since he sold his team, Eddie Jordan has had nothing to do with F1 except for what he says in the press!”

FIA respond to Ferrari statement

FIA logoThe FIA respond to Ferrari’s quit threat; Jean Alesi backs Ferrari’s stance.

Earlier this week, Ferrari released a statement stating they had concerns over the standard engine plans and should the FIA press ahead with the proposal, they would have to carefully consider whether they still wanted to compete in the sport. Ferrari are not the only team to publicly voice their concerns Toyota have also threatened to leave the sport should the standard engine go ahead.

A statement from the FIA in response to Ferrari s statement reads, “The FIA has noted the press statement issued by the Ferrari Board of Directors.

“It seems the Ferrari Board were misinformed. The FIA has offered the teams three options, one of which is the so-called standard engine, and another that the manufacturers should jointly guarantee to supply power trains to the independent teams for less than €5m per season.

“The FIA is delighted by Ferrari’s financial success and hopes this will be maintained. However a number of teams find themselves facing costs which greatly exceed income. This is not sustainable.

“It is now for the manufacturers to agree one of the three FIA options or themselves produce concrete proposals to reduce costs to a sustainable level.”

Meanwhile, former Ferrari driver Jean Alesi has also waded into the war of words with the Frenchman firmly aligning himself with Ferrari s viewpoint.

“I have exactly the same view as Ferrari,” Alesi explained to Italian newspaper La Stampa. “It is a crazy idea because with a standard engine, you would not be competing in a real constructors championship.

“Ferrari is Formula One s flagship and whoever has proposed this idea is not thinking about what is good for Ferrari or for F1. With standardized engines, Maranello would be correct in stepping out.”

Alesi also believes that the plans are not just about cost-cutting and there is an underlying political reason for the plans.

“It is a very deep and complicated political issue,” he continued. “I don t want to say any more.

“It is the same for all manufacturers it is, in effect, asking BMW, Toyota or Mercedes to fire their engineers and buy their engines from a supermarket.”

Hamilton contemplates music career

HamiltonLewis Hamilton s girlfriend, Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, appears to be inspiring him to try new things, with reports stating the racing ace is contemplating launching a music career.

“I do love music,” Hamilton told Live News. “It s something I d love to be able to do some day. I don t believe that I have that talent, but I ve had a whirl, like the millions of people who do. If I wasn t a driver, I d like to do something that could take me somewhere.

“I play a bit of everything really, Bob Dylan, Lenny Kravitz, Jimi Hendrix. I sing more now than I used to. I have been told I have quite a good voice.”

Scherzinger appears supportive of Hamilton s musical ideas and has said that the couple have already started writing songs together.

Should Hamilton decide to go ahead and record and release an album, he would not be the first to do so former F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve released an album in early 2007 with many of the tracks written by Villeneuve himself.

Why Ferrari are right to issue quit threat

Ferrari teamBy Onelapdown

So Ferrari are threatening to pull out of Formula One if the FIA enforces a standard engine. And quite right too.

It’s not that we want to see the demise of the Italian marquee, as tempting as that may be for some. It’s that this goes to the core of the very soul of F1.

Since John Cooper decided to put a ‘cheapo’ engine in the back of a little Cooper chassis, F1 has been about two types of team: Les Garagistes, plucky little British teams for whom chassis is king and engines are stock components you buy in like tyres and Ferrari, who see a chassis as simply something to stick an engine in to allow it to move.

It may be an oversimplification but this is essentially the Oxford Cambridge boat race, the Yankees versus Red Sox, or the England versus Germany of Formula One.

The last time a world title was not won by either a British “Garagiste” or Ferrari was 1962, when BRM took the championship. BRM were not garagistes and a “Renault” chassis is effectively a British-built Toleman with a name change.

Where the FIA is right is that teams should be able to lower the cost of their engines. The closest thing F1 has had to a standard engine is first the Coventry Climax units of the early sixties and then the Cosworth engines from 1967 onward.

What the FIA needs to do is produce engine regulations that enable a company such as Cosworth to mass-produce competitive engines at a competitive price. That would allow the garagistes to flood back onto the back of the grid.

If Ferrari, Mercedes, Toyota et al. want to build their own engines, let them. But regulate them in such a way that they don’t have too much of a competitive advantage as a result of their bigger budgets.

Ferrari threaten to quit over standard engines

fia logo 2Scuderia issue shock quit threat as FIA vamp up chase on standard engines

Ferrari have followed Toyota and threatened to quit Formula One should FIA President Max Mosley persist with his plans to impose standard engines on the teams.

Speculation was rife on Monday that Toyota would pull out of Formula One after the FIA issued a statement saying that it will press on with plans to introduce standard engines having received several enquiries about the tender bid.

Now Ferrari have followed suit following a board meeting in Maranello. A team statement read: “The Ferrari Board of Directors expressed strong concerns regarding plans to standardise engines as it felt that such a move would detract from the entire raison of a sport with which Ferrari has been involved continuously since 1950, a raison d etre based principally on competition and technological development.”

“The Board of Directors expressed the opinion that should these key elements be diminished, it would have to re-evaluate, with its partners the viability of continuing its presence in the sport.”

Last week the FIA met with the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) represented by the presidents of Toyota and Ferrari, John Howett and Luca di Montezemolo to discuss cost-cutting proposals, including engine restrictions.

Only a few days earlier the FIA had infuriated the teams by putting out a tender contract for the standard engine.

The FIA-FOTA meeting did not result in agreement on the issue of standard engines, with both parties instead backing the idea of standard energy recovery systems, which are due to be introduced next year.

However, a statement issued by the FIA today revealed that the governing body will be pressing on with the tender bid, against the grain of fierce opposition from the teams.

The statement read: “The FIA has received a number of questions from interested parties regarding that Invitation to Tender. In accordance with the FIA s Tendering procedures, the replies are set out in the relevant section of the FIA website.”

“The Tender schedule for transmission-only bids has also been updated. Bids for engines and transmissions in combination and bids for the supply of engines alone must be submitted by 7 November 2008. A minimum of three further weeks will be given to those considering transmission-only bids.”

Max Mosley’s motivations for persisting with his plans for standard engines have been called into question given that the teams are rigorously opposed to the proposals.