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Archive for the ‘Ferrari’ Category

It was Alfa Romeo who won the first ever F1 Grand Prix at Silverstone, Ferrari won the second. Will Sunday see the Scuderia claim victory in the final race there? Never say never, but they were not as competitive in Turkey as many had imagined they would be.
Massa pits st.

However for Silverstone they have some upgrades for the car which were tested in a straight line aerodynamic test on Monday by Felipe Massa. The Brazilian was driving a new chassis, which has a lower centre of gravity and is slightly lighter than the previous one, like the chassis Raikkonen has been using for the last two races. The car is sufficiently different that it has required a new crash test.

In addition Massa tried some new parts on the car, including a new front wing and new front suspension designed to get the weight further forward and get more out of the front tyres. This should help them in qualifying, particularly.

The car also has a revised KERS system, which is lighter and one hopes, more reliable. There are also some modifications to the sidepods and wheel covers.

I saw Felipe this afternoon in London and pointed out that forecasts say it is unlikely to rain on Sunday. He was saying that with this car he would not have the difficulties in the wet he encountered last year, as this car should really get the tyres working in the wet.

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On the official Ferrari website there is an extraordinary piece, posted today, which has a major dig at the calibre of teams lining up to join Formula 1 next season under the new budget cap rules. The tone is very disparaging.

Under the headline “Formula 1 or GP3?” the following piece appears,

“Maranello, 20th May – They couldn’t almost believe their eyes, the men at women (sic) working at Ferrari, when they read the papers this morning and found the names of the teams, declaring that they have the intention to race in Formula 1 in the next year.

Looking at the list, which leaked yesterday from Paris, you can’t find a very famous name, one of those one has to spend 400 Euros per person for a place on the grandstand at a GP (plus the expenses for the journey and the stay..). Wirth Research, Lola, USF1, Epsilon Euskadi, RML, Formtech, Campos, iSport: these are the names of the teams, which should compete in the two-tier Formula 1 wanted by Mosley. Can a World Championship with teams like them – with due respect – can have the same value as today’s Formula 1, where Ferrari, the big car manufacturers and teams, who created the history of this sport, compete? Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to call it Formula GP3?”

This was posted before the Paris court rejected Ferrari’s application for an injunction against the 2010 rules, but it has certainly upped the ante. Ferrari is deliberately provoking the debate, remember on their site last week was a long piece about how “Ferrari made F1 great.”

The FIA’s statement today is as much a response to this latest posting on the Ferrari site as it is to the verdict of the Paris court,

“No competitor should place their interests above those of the sport in which they compete. The FIA, the teams and our commercial partners will now continue to work to ensure the wellbeing of Formula One in 2010 and beyond.”

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Felipe Massa has his tail up today, Ferrari are back in business and he knows that he has an important role in the outcome of the race, particularly at the start, where he lines up fourth on the grid.
Massa portr

Using the KERS system, which will give him an 80 horsepower boost on the run down to turn one, projections show that he should be second by the first corner, but if Button makes a poor start as he did in Bahrain and Kuala Lumpur, Massa will have him.

“It will be hard to pass in one go all three cars,” he says. “However the KERS has shown itself to be very efficient on other races. Let’s hope we get a good start and take advantage of it.”

He is clearly in the fight for a podium, which would be Ferrari’s first of the season.
“That’s the objective,” he says. “It would be a great result, if we think where we were in the first four races.

” Judging from Q2, on low fuel, I’d say that we are still a couple of tenths off (the Brawn and Red Bull cars). It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you add it up over a race it’s quite a distance. I hope that the next evolutions which hopefully we’ll have in Turkey, will close the rest of the gap, even if it might be a little bit late in the championship.”

The new car, he says, is a marked improvement in a few key areas. The main thing is that it has more downforce, but it’s also more driveable,
“It’s more stable under braking and in the fast corners you can be more aggressive with it, ” says Massa.

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Both Ferrari drivers will have a major upgrade this weekend, but Kimi Raikkonen will have a new chassis which is 10kg lighter than Felipe Massa’s to accomodate him and the KERS system. Raikkonen himself is 10kg heavier than Massa, he revealed today.

Ferrari’s biggest problem has been a lack of downforce compared to the opposition. “The car is handling well, the balance is good, there’s just not enough downforce,” said Raikkonen.

The new Ferrari has detailed aerodynamic changes everywhere. The sidepods are more rounded, there is a new engine cover with new exhaust exits as well as a new floor and a new double diffuser. The engineers have had a lot of redesigning to do at the back end of the car to reposition electronics and hydraulic systems to fit in the new diffuser.

The car is expected to feature modifications to the front and rear wings. Neither driver wanted to say what the expected gain is from this package, but it will need to be a minimum of half a second to get them closer to the front of the field. “I hope we can improve more than the others so we can step forward, ” said Massa. “We have good numbers, so I hope we improve very well.”

Most teams have brought updates which should be worth between two tenths and half a second, depending on the scale of the project.

Brawn GP has its first major update of the season with a new floor and new engine cover among other modifications. Meanwhile Renault has been delivering boxes into the paddock this afternoon in a very public way. New rear wings in bubble wrap and boxes of parts were wheeled through the paddock just after lunchtime to be fitted to the cars before practice tomorrow.

With no track testing allowed during the season, this will be the first time any of the teams will be able to get a sense of what effect their updates make on the track and how much they help lap time. It’s going to be fascinating to see who’s up and who’s down.

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Kimi Raikkonen will be in Regents Street, London this morning, opening the new Ferrari store. It’s a big site, I went past it yesterday and it’s full of Ferrari branded goodies.
kimi-a1

It’s amazing to think that it’s a year since Raikkonen last won a Grand Prix. He dominated the Spanish GP last season from pole, but since then he’s failed to make the top step. He would probably have won in Canada if he had not been hit in the pit lane by Lewis Hamilton and he was on target in France until his exhaust started burning a hole in the bodywork of his car.

“It was one of my best weekends with Ferrari, ” he says on the Ferrari website. “Pole, win and fastest lap. A driver never loses his taste for victory and I want to try it again as soon as possible.”

Raikkonen did a great job in Bahrain, squeezing the absolute maximum out of the Ferrari there, putting to rest any doubts about whether he still has the motivation. He was unlucky at the end not to nick fifth place off Rubens Barrichello.

There is the spectre of Alonso in the background, with well-informed Italian colleagues assuring me that an agreement is in place with the Spaniard, just as it was with Kimi for almost a year before it became public in late 2006. The deal is for 2011, but may be brought forward to 2010 if Kimi underperforms or wants out early. The president of Santander bank was very high profile in Bahrain, spending a lot of time around the Ferrari area. The Spanish bank is due to come on stream as a sponsor of Ferrari next year, having left McLaren following the failure of their relationship with Alonso.

Spain will be a important weekend for Ferrari, with the updated car expected to give them more of the kind of performance the front-runners have had so far. A quarter of the season has gone already, however.

Some Italian papers are saying that based on the performance this weekend, Ferrari will decide whether to press on with development of this car or throw more effort into 2010, as Brawn did last year. But I’m not so sure about that. For a start, the scale of the aerodynamic rule changes for next year is nothing like what it was for this year. But also team boss Stefano Domenicali pointed out after the race in Bahrain that when you are Ferrari, “You don’t write off a season, ” however badly it might be going.

Meanwhile Felipe Massa is keeping the faith. He was in Rome the other day doing a road safety campaign, following in the steps of his mentor Michael Schumacher,

“I hope things will improve, ” said Massa. “I hope we can have a different championship now. We have to keep working, things don’t come to you for free. In the team there is still a lot of faith. The team is very united.”

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Yesterday I met with Max Mosley for a long interview which is in today’s Financial Times.

He was in London briefly following this week’s world motor sport council meeting where the £40 million budget cap was voted through.

I posted yesterday on the letters exchanged between him and Luca Di Montezemolo Ferrari president. Ferrari are very angry about the budget cap plans and the ‘two tier’ system which might see two classes of car racing in F1 next year. Montezemolo’s letter hints at a possible legal challenge to the plans.

I asked Mosley whether F1 could survive without Ferrari.

“It could,” he said. “It would be very sad to lose them. They’ve been in the sport since the start, but if it’s a choice between that and a situation doomed to failure and which would collapse F1 …  We are not going to bend over backwards to keep them.”

Mosley described the budget cap move as “by far the biggest development in my time in the sport”.

He is confident though that this is a time for action, not for wait and see, as the economy struggles to recover from global recession and cars companies are losing £1 billion a month. But he accepts that it might go wrong and that this summer could see a damaging stand off between some teams and the FIA.

“If you are trying to make big changes things can go wrong,” said Mosley. “We may have a very damaging conflict, it’s possible, but we are prepared for that. We’d tough it out. We’ve got very little room to negotiate, but the message I’m getting from the board of two or three of the manufacturers is that if you can keep us in F1 so that the cheque we write is not more than €25 million, you can consider this a pretty permanent arrangement.”

In recent years the manufacturer-backed teams, like Honda, BMW, Toyota Mercedes and Renault have fuelled an arms race of costs, but the boards of those car companies take a different view, according to Mosley, especially now that the economic picture has deteriorated.

“We have contacts with the boards other than through the teams. The teams spin to the board. The CEO hasn’t got the time, knowledge or expertise to question it. But now because they are all [short of money] to throw away tens of millions on F1 is not acceptable.

“I hope and think that when a team goes to its board and says, ‘I want to go to war with the FIA, because I want to be able to spend £100 million more than the FIA want me to spend, then the board will say ‘Why can’t you spend £40 million if the other teams can do it?’ “

Mosley believes that Formula 1 has “gone down the wrong track”, with the emphasis on endless costly developments, rather than genuine innovation.. He believes that the budget cap reverses that trend.

“The cleverest team is going to win, not the richest. It’s manifestly fair because it litterally is the one who makes the best invention who will succeed, Invention is cheap, it’s refinement that is expensive and F1 is now refinement orientated. It’s probably our fault for allowing rules to develop in such a way that refinement is the means of progress rather than invention.“

* Tomorrow I will post the second half of the interview, with some interesting observations from Mosley on Ron Dennis, an explanation of how the cap will be policed and thoughts on how long it will stay in F1.

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In response to the letter Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo wrote on April 28th to the FIA president expressing concern about having two classes of F1 car and about a possible legal challenge to the budget cap, Max Mosley wrote back the following day.

He quotes FIAT boss Sergio Marchionne, with whom Montezemolo works closely and his belief that in an economic crisis such as we are in at the moment, only an extreme response will do,
“We are just going to slam the brakes on, cut everything back to essentials. It may be painful, it may be ugly. But if we want to do the right thing for this industry let’s do it now. Today my gut instinct is to be truly Draconian.” These are Marchionne’s words.

Mosley's letter to Ferrari

Mosley's letter to Ferrari

Mosley points out that the car industry is in serious difficulty and that F1, as an extension of it, is extremely vulnerable. Honda’s departure was a wake up call and another manufacturer could leave at any moment.

“If we are to reduce the risk of the Formula 1 world championship collapsing, we have to allow new teams in. We also have to reduce costs drastically. The matter is therefore extremely urgent.”

Responding to Montezemolo’s legal threat over rights that have not been respected Mosley writes,
“The only radical elements are those needed to close the gap that would otherwise exist between a low-budget team and other competitors. Thus if Ferrari chooses to continue with an unrestricted budget, the new regulations will not deprive Ferrari of any rights…I do not accept that these proposed regulation compromise any commitment that has been given to Ferrari in the past, unless Ferrari would somehow argue that it is entitled to prevent new competitors from emerging at a time when the sport itself is in danger.”

He ends with a flourish, “We are confident (as are our accountants and lawyers) that a budget cap will be enforceable. The cleverest team will win and we would eliminate the need for depressing restrictions on technology, which the existing teams are discussing with a view to reducing costs. I hope Ferrari will take the lead in agreeing the cost cap mechanism, thus freeing its engineers to work and preserving its shareholders’ money.”

Mosley has always wanted three things; to see the playing field levelled so small teams can compete with big teams, to have full grids and he has always felt that the costs were out of control, long before the credit crunch hit the global economy.

What he has done here, along with his technical strategy guru Tony Purnell, is to take advantage of the car industry’s troubles to create a window for killing those three birds with one stone. The two class F1 is not ideal for anyone, but Mosley is calculating that no manufacturer will go for the uncapped option it because it would be unjustifiable to shareholders.

Meanwhile the five independent teams, Williams, Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Brawn and Force India all welcome the budget cap at the £40 million level because to them it means survival, profit and the chance to compete against the big boys. It’s Christmas for them.

The teams formed their association, FOTA, to represent their rights, but here FOTA is in big trouble because the five independents are on a collision course with the manufacturers, so Max has also achieved a fourth aim, to undermine FOTA.

Many people dislike his methods, but think about it this way, if F1 didn’t exist and you were Ferrari or any other manufacturer and someone came to you and said, “I’ve got a great idea for a racing series; we’ll have 17 races in key markets around the world, great TV package giving your brand a media value in the hundreds of millions per year and it will cost £40 million and it capped, so you can innovate within that figure and beat the others.”

I’m sure if you started with a clean sheet of paper, in other words, you might well go for it on that basis. But it’s hard to see the Mosley/Purnell vision for F1 because we come from an era of £200 million budgets. But why does it need to cost £200 million to win?

Shouldn’t Ferrari continue to win races? If you have something very good and you distill it to its core strengths, you end up with something sensational. So surely the 350 best people at Ferrari must be the equal or better of the 350 at any of the other teams?

One of my readers, Martin Samm, made this very valid point today,
“What I (as a member of Joe Public) want is a series of interesting/exciting races – I dont care if they spent 40 million or 200 million, as I’m sure they’ll be as cutting edge as ever regardless; engineers tend to be cunning like that!”

Martin also points out this is all happening at a time when races are being won by two independent teams, Brawn and Red Bull. Most people find this very refreshing and a good thing for F1.

It’s really hard to know which way to go on this one, because it represents a huge cultural shift in F1. You can see Ferrari’s point and they believe that they have right – and the law – on their side.

The way is clear for a summer of messy legal challenges, which would throw 2010 into chaos. Ferrari will not go quietly on this one and they have gathered the other manufacturers around them for a council of war. They make the engines, of course, so the independents are dependent on them.

That is why Cosworth is sitting on the sidelines, waiting.

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Although Ferrari is refusing to comment on yesterday’s budget cap announcement, some letters between its president Luca di Montezemolo and FIA president Max Mosley have come to light.

These show Ferrari’s concerns and hint at arrangements between Ferrari and the governing body, which Ferrari feel have not been honoured.

Montezemolo ; Legal challenge to cost cap?

Montezemolo ; Legal challenge to cost cap?

On April 28th Montezemolo wrote to Mosley and other world council members,
unhappy that budget caps had been put on the agenda of a meeting which was called to hear the McLaren case.

He wrote, ” I have always been concerned about its introduction (cost cap) mainly because I consider that there are serious technical difficulties in making sure that any cap can realistically be monitored.

“There are..doubts as to whether or not two categories of teams should be created which will inevitably mean that one category will have an advantage over the other and that the championship will be fundamentally unfaor and perhaps even biased. In any event this would create confusion in the public’s mind, which would seriously lower the value of Formula 1.”

This is a view shared by all the F1 teams, that having capped and uncapped teams operating to two different sets of rules is unworkable. FOTA will discuss this at its May 6th meeting.

But Montezemolo then goes on to remind Mosley about the deal, which he signed in 2005 to commit Ferrari to F1 until 2012, the one which broke the idea of a manufacturers’ breakaway series and for which Ferrari allegedly received €100 million.

Montezemolo’s point is that under the Concorde Agreement the FIA “cannot pass or amend any regulation without it being approved by the F1 commission.”

When Ferrari did its secret deal and signed up to 2012, it demanded and was granted “all rights under the previous Concorde Agreement will continue to apply until 31 December 2010, exactly as if the Agreement itself remained in place.”

The language then gets quite legal, and Montezemolo says he ‘insists’ that the FIA respect the agreement they made.

Presumably this is a coded message that Ferrari would launch a legal challenge against the cost cap. The problem there is time. It would take months and that would delay the 2010 rules being published, which would throw the series into chaos.

Ferrari would only launch an action like that with FOTA backing, but that will be hard because half of the teams in FOTA agree with the cost cap, which guarantees not just their survival but that they will be able to compete with the big boys and make a profit at the same time!

I’ll post on Mosley’s response separately.

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Luca di Montezemolo arrived in Bahrain this morning to give encouragement to his Ferrari team, which has endured its worst start to a season for over 25 years. He talked of the team making the mistake of thinking it is the best and being caught out and called for a fresh attitude

He also talked to representatives of other teams and manufacturers about the current state of F1.

dsc00284
This is a huge week for the sport, It is essentially being restructured with new rules for 2010 due to be ratified on Wednesday at the FIA World Council meeting which has been called to hear the McLaren disciplinary case.

By the end of this week the budget cap will be a reality with a set value on it. The start point is £30 million, excluding drivers salary and marketing. It is likely to go up by Wednesday, but nit by as much as teams like Ferrari, McLaren and BMW would like.

Montezemolo, as president of FOTA as well as Ferrari is not happy with the way the FIA has introduced the concept of the budget cap. The teams have a meeting set for May 6th in London, but the FIA timetable is more urgent than that and it could all be done and dusted by then. A fight is in prospect, although with six teams in favour of a budget cap slightly higher than the proposed figure it will be interesting to see how unified the teams are and how much of a fight they put up

Montezemolo sat in the baking sun in a blazer and blue shirt and spoke to the media this morning.

What is your feeling about the start Ferrari has made to this championship?
“We have won eight world championships in the last 10 years, three of the last four. I want to understand why we are in the middle of a black tunnel. There are four reasons; we have seen some very badly written rules, grey rules, with different interpretations. This means polemics.

“Second was KERS. KERS represents a lot of money, something which has been introduced to have a link, between F1 and advanced research for road cars in terms of energy in terms of green, in terms innovation which I like. We have done KERS even though it means a lot of money, means problems with safety and reliability. But we have been surprised to see that KERS was a suggestion and not real rule.

“Today we face a strange an not positive situation; we have three different F1 competitions on the grid. Cars with KERS, cars with no KERS and with a different floor, and a third competitor with no KERS and no floor. This is bad and is one of the reasons why we are forced to invest time and extra money at a difficult time.

“Also we started to work on the new car late at a time when the rules are new. And the last reason, inside the teams there has been a little too much presumption in the team. Sometimes you need to be level headed.

“We are working hard and I have a big confidence in the team.”

What do you mean by presumption?
Well sometimes when you win all the time, you think you are the best and I want a different attitude. And sometimes we think that maintaining the top is easy. We have done ten years at the top, but this year if we had interpreted the rules in a different way with no KERS and with a different floor we would be talking about a different Ferrari.”

How long will your patience last?
I’m totally unhappy. But stability of the team and confidence of the team since 1992 has been my main goal and I will continue. This team is the same one which crossed the finish line on Brazil a few months ago, winning the championship. So no problem. I know the reason my people know the reason. When I don’t know the reason I’m worried, when I know the reason I’m not worried.”

What is the state of unity within FOTA at the moment after the row over diffusers?
“Unity is good, We will have a meeting in London on May 6th, because here we are and we don’t yet know the rules for next year. “

What is going on with Michael Schumacher’s role?
“Michael’s position is very clear, when he stopped I said to him, Do you want to be the manager? Do you want to be the right arm of Jean Todt for one year and then take over, yes or no? And he said no. I’m sorry because he has a very good mentality, but his life is different. So we said ‘Why don’t you come to some races?’ But his main job has been on development of the road cars, Scuderia, California he has done some very good work. He will come back to some race but he has no role inside the team because he has no time to come to Maranello. He is in good relations with Domenicali and he makes suggestions.”

How do you feel about Ross Brawn winning with his own team
“I like Ross very much because he was in our family for many important years and has mad a very important imput. Is see a Honda car with the Brawn name, of Honda which has invested a he amount of money in two wind tunnels, deciding very early to concentrate on a completely new car and decided at the end of the year to stop. This is Honda with one of the biggest budgets in F1. They had a different interpretation of the rules, due to the grey areas.”

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Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali started the weekend by sending an email to his team asking them to react to the poor start to the season “with pride”.

The team came away from Shanghai empty handed again and now only they and Force India are left without a point. It could have been worse, if Adrian Sutil had held on to his sixth place, but the German driver crashed heavily five laps from the end.

However Domenicali was able to draw some pride from the way the early part of the race unfolded. In his post race briefing he was encouraged by the performance of Felipe Massa in the early part of the race. Massa got as high as third place on lap 20 before an electrical problem forced him to stop out on track. He said that water had got into his electrics and he lost the throttle.

Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa


For every success story in F1 there is always a story of what might have been and given Ferrari’s position in the table, this ‘what might have been’ tale will be particularly painful.

“It is very unfortunate because if you look at the first part of the race, Felipe did a fantastic job, ” said Domenicali. “He was really much faster than Sebastian Vettel, who was with low fuel and we had more fuel. So, honestly, in that condition it was perfect. Then unfortunately we had this problem on electronic control which made the car stop, as it was a big shame.

I am pretty sure that with that strategy, and the fact that he did fantastic laps, we would have been on the podium – no doubt.”

I’m not sure he was ever faster than Vettel, but he was certainly at times competitive with Jenson Button, who finished on the podium.

He started the race from 13th place on the grid with a one stop fuel load. His car had around 80 kilos of fuel in it, some 46 kilos more than Vettel, which equates to around 1.6 second per lap extra.

In the opening stint he drove very well, passing Kovalainen on lap 9, Raikkonen on lap 12, Trulli on lap 14, moving to fourth when Buemi pitted on lap 19 and third when Webber pitted on lap 20. At that point Felipe still had a lot of fuel on board. The safety car was out and he was right behind Jenson Button, who finished on the podium and both drivers had one more stop to make. His pace out of the slipstream of other cars was similar to Button’s so you can see what Domenicali means when he says that a podium was within his sights. He had certainly played himself into a position to beat Barrichello.

“It’s a very tough situation, “said Massa afterwards. “We are in a different position from the past but I think we can get away from this problem I’m very motivated to help the team to get away from this difficult time.

“We have two issues, we need to make the car quicker and we need to make it reliable. I feel more comfortable in Bahrain and I think we can be more competitive there and more reliable.”

Ferrari tested for a week in Bahrain in February. They put that knowledge to good use last year, let’s hope they can again this year.

Kimi Raikkonen finished 10th, despite running in front of Lewis Hamilton in the first stint. He switched from a two stop to a one stop strategy, but the timing was all wrong. His problem was that his pit stop came at a time when the field was bunched up shortly after a safety car period. He dropped right down the field and never recovered the positions.

Kimi believes that the team will start to move forward when it gets its new diffuser and floor at the Spanish Grand Prix in May.
“We know that once we get to Barcelona we should take a step with the car. We probably don’t have the same downforce as the others. When we get the new floor for sure we are going to get lots of downforce and it will make the car fast.”

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