EVERY MONDAY – AROUND THE MOTORSPORT WORLD F1 >> MotoGP >> WRC
week.com Issue No 047
MONDAY May 25, 2009
Button Masters Monaco
Jenson takes title chances up a gear with brilliant win on the streets
Latvala breaks Loeb’s WRC stranglehold and
No breakthrough in F1 Crisis
EDITOR: WILL BUXTON firstname.lastname@example.org MotoGP Editor: Michael Scott email@example.com Rally Editor: Martin Holmes firstname.lastname@example.org Production Editor (Australia): Andrew van Leeuwen email@example.com Assistant: Cedric Dufour IT/Design (Australia) Jayne Uthmeyer firstname.lastname@example.org Photography Sutton Motorsport Images www.sutton-images.com Keith Sutton email@example.com Publisher Chris Lambden firstname.lastname@example.org
may 25, 2009
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>> GPWEEK NEWS Headline: FOTA agrees to work as a team; plus the latest from the worlds of F1, MotoGP and WRC
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>> F1: Taking it to the streets Jenson Button adds a Monaco win to his dream start to the 2009 season.
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>> Moto GP: Changes to single life Michael Scott looks at the first wave of tyre changes since MotoGP has had a sole supplier
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>> WRC: Loeb gets beaten ... finally Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen handed a rally win to Jari-Matti Latvala through tactics. He never gave it back ...
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Compromise or Chaos? FOTA teams agree to enter/not enter as a 20-car ‘group’ FORMULA 1’s immediate future, although nowhere near concrete, took a few small but meaningful steps towards clarity over the Monaco Grand Prix weekend following days of meetings between the Formula 1 Teams’ Association, FIA President Max Mosley and the sport’s Commercial Rights Holder Bernie Ecclestone. Having failed in their attempts to have an injunction against the 2010 regulations upheld by the French courts, Ferrari and their President Luca di Montezemolo, pictured right, arrived in Monaco in determined mood to find a solution. All members of FOTA sat for a four hour meeting aboard Renault Team Principal Flavio Briatore’s boat, after which di Montezemolo stated that all the teams were unified in their stance against the 2010 rules, which will impose a voluntary £40million budget cap in Formula 1, with certain technical dispensations being granted to those teams who stay under the budget cap. “What we want is that Formula 1 stays as Formula 1 and that it doesn’t become something different and go towards
constant changes which confuse the public and all the others,” he said . “What we want is stability and that we work over the next two years to arrive at a way of further reducing costs.” He did, however, fire a warning shot at FIA President Max Mosley: “We will not enter the championship with these rules and with this governance,” he said, appearing to lay down a strong indicator that the argument had developed from one of regulation changes to one of who presided over the FIA. Despite meeting Mosley and admitting to positive developments, no agreement could be found between the FIA and FOTA. Discussions continued throughout the weekend, culminating in a final meeting of the teams on Sunday morning in the Renault motorhome. Toyota Motorsport President John Howett reacted to the meeting in conversation with GPWeek: “I think [the meeting was] very constructive,” he said. In response to whether FOTA’s position had stayed the
same, he said: “I think from FOTA, no, but you’ll have to wait and see.” When asked if that meant a strengthening of FOTA’s resolve, he replied: “Yes, I think so.” As the Grand Prix weekend came to a conclusion, further light has been shed on these comments. It is now understood that FOTA has agreed to enter its name for positions on the 2010 F1 grid as a block unit, representing all 10 teams, but with certain preconditions – that a higher level of budget cap will be initiated in 2010 before being lowered in 2011, and that the concept of a two-tier F1 will be dropped in favour of maintaining 2009 technical regulations. If the FIA does not then amend the 2010 regulations to suit these conditions, FOTA as a group will not enter its name for Formula 1 in 2010. Mosley himself said that he believed a compromise over the level of the budget cap could be achievable, but with a matter of days until the May 29 deadline for applications to the 2010 championship, time is running out to find a workable solution.
>> F1 NEWS
Brawn and Virgin to split? Are the World Championshio leaders about to Google?
THE big rumour of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend was that Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin group sponsorship of the BrawnGP team may come to an end. With BrawnGP winning five of the first six races of 2009, it is reported to be in serious negotiations with a number of potential big sponsors, and is understood to be growing tired of Branson’s reluctance to agree to pay a reasonable rate for his sponsorship of the team. Virgin’s deal with Brawn, which was announced at the Australian Grand Prix, has been rumoured in some areas of the press to have been for as little as £250,000 (US$400,000). Branson was set to announce further details of how his deal with Brawn would unfold at the Spanish Grand Prix, but no news on the extension of the sponsorship has been forthcoming. Interestingly, and despite attending the race on his BrawnGP pass, Branson was seen for much of the weekend on Red Bull’s motorhome ‘The Energy Station’, adding extra fuel to the fires of rumour. Also of interest was the attendance at the race of Larry Page, one of the two founders of Google and one of the richest men in America, as a guest of McLaren sponsor Vodafone. Page is a friend of Branson’s, and there is some talk that it may be Google who could ultimately replaces Virgin as Brawn’s main sponsor, if the price does not turn out to be right for Sir Richard.
Monaco players back Ferrari KEY political players in the organisation of the Monaco Grand Prix have called on the FIA to do more to ensure that Ferrari and other key manufacturers do not pull out of Formula 1. Michel Boeri, the head of the Automobile Club de Monaco, said over the weekend: “What would the Monaco Grand Prix be without Ferrari? A catastrophe. Like the Cannes Film Festival without the stars.” His statement was backed up by his Serene Highness Prince Albert of Monaco, who told the BBC that while it would be hard for teams to go against the FIA, Formula 1 should think about the manner in which it was governed. “It’s hard to go against the governing
body of the sport but you want to ensure a fair and even playing field for everybody. I’m sure we cannot afford to lose teams like Ferrari or Renault. I think it would be such a bad image for the sport that I am sure that a solution is going to be found.” Regardless however, he insisted that Monaco would fight to keep its place on the calendar. “The economic impact can be measured in hundreds of millions of Euros, and it is part of history and should there be a change in regulations or in the sport’s outlook on things, then we would all put up a big fight to try and keep the grand prix here. “We are happy to work with the FIA and everyone involved in F1 racing.”
>> F1 NEWS
Ricard: We want French GP! CIRCUIT Paul Ricard has thrown its hat into the ring as a potential new base for the French Grand Prix. The track, which last hosted the French Grand Prix in 1990, has in recent years been reborn as a High Tech Test Track, but announced its intention to tender for the French Grand Prix once again over the Monaco weekend. “We have decided to think seriously about what needs to be done to welcome a Formula 1 Grand Prix,” said Paul Ricard Director Gerard Neveu. “Every time the French Grand Prix has had problems, people, media, drivers have asked; ‘why not at the Paul Ricard circuit?’ Up to now, we did not want, nor had a good reason to realise such a race. Nevertheless, our circuit does have Degree
1 FIA track homologation, which allows us, technically speaking, to welcome an F1 GP. Furthermore, we have re-opened the Paul Ricard circuit to visitors this year, and the public did a very warm welcome to this initiative, this also gives us the right to think, it could be an idea.” Circuit Paul Ricard has recently built grandstands to welcome fans back to the circuit, and as rival bids for the French Grand Prix encounter difficulties. Paul Ricard believes that it could be the answer to the problem. “During last winter we built grandstands on our circuit, and re-opened this mythical place to visitors. During the first events this year, the new grandstands were full, and it was a great success. This also made us think about the evolution of racing on
our track. “Projects of new circuits in France seem to have encountered some difficulties. As of today, thanks to the great success we had, as well for competitors and for visitors, and after the numerous solicitations here and there, it became right for us to think our circuit could be a solution. Therefore we started to think on what we would need to do, to welcome a GP.” The circuit’s reinvention was the brainchild of F1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone, who holds the ultimate decision-making power as to where the F1 World Championship races. The track’s rebirth was overseen by Philippe Gurdjian, who has recently moved his attentions to the new Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.
New teams submit entries
Pantano: 2010 is my F1 chance GP2 Champ eyes Campos ride, as new wave of F1 teams get ready REIGNING GP2 Series champion Giorgio Pantano says that his best chance of returning to Formula 1 rests with the new teams due to enter Formula 1 in 2010. With the first entries being received by the FIA for places on the 2010 grid this week, the increase in F1 grid size to 26 cars could give Pantano a shot at racing in F1. “The entry of the new teams is probably the most likely situation in which I can be involved in Formula 1,” he told GPWeek in Monaco. “I’ve been in touch with some of the new teams who want to come in and, well, we need to
see what happens in the next two weeks.” One team known to have submitted an entry is Campos, with whom Pantano raced in the GP2 Series in 2007. Team owner Adrian Campos, himself a former F1 driver, is known to rate Pantano highly as the Italian played an instrumental role in turning his team into a race-winning operation in the F1 feeder category, and Pantano admitted that there had already been contact between himself and his former team boss. “Campos is one of the team’s I’ve been talking to,” he confirmed.
es for 2010
>> F1 NEWS THE FIA has opened the tender for places on the 2010 Formula 1 grid and ,with the promise of increased competitiveness and a budget cap for next year’s as-yet unconfirmed regulations, a number of new teams have already formally entered. The first team to enter its bid was Campos, the Spanish F3 and reigning GP2 championship-winning team run by ex-F1 racer Adrian Campos. Campos sold his GP2 outfit to Spanish businessman Alejandro Agag over the winter, and hasty moves were made in the days between the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix to alter the GP2 squad’s name from Campos Grand Prix to Addax, before Adrian Campos entered his team for next season’s F1. GPWeek understands that Campos will benefit from a collaboration with Italian racecar designers Dallara, who designed the GP2 Series cars that Campos took to the teams’ title in 2008. With British manufacturere Lola expected to enter its own team in 2010, that would mean that two of the world’s most recognised and respected race-car designers could be on the F1 grid next year. The second team to make an official entry was the USF1 outfit, entering under the name of Team USF1. The team’s sporting director Peter Windsor told GPWeek at the Spanish Grand Prix that his team was well on the way with its entry, having already completed CAD designs of the car they intend to race in 2010. Windsor also indicated at Monaco that a Cosworth engine deal was becoming more and more likely.
>> F1 NEWS
Grosjean absolves Zuber of blame GP2 Championship leader Romain Grosjean has absolved Andi Zuber of blame for the accident which launched the Frenchman into the catch fencing at the Tabac corner in the sprint GP2 race in Monaco. Speaking exclusively to GPWeek the day after the incident, Grosjean insisted that the crash had been a racing incident. “It was funny, no?” he joked. “He went to the left to defend the position because he had a very poor exit of the chicane, so I went to the right to wait until Swimming Pool corner to try and overtake, and when I came back to the right he braked when I was coming back and our wheels touched. And in open wheels, when they touch, they go flying. If we’d had 20cm more we would have been fine.” Asked if he thought anything could have been done to have avoided the incident, Grosjean was unsure. “It’s difficult to say. It’s Monaco, it was a tough fight and the big
shame was that I didn’t even want to overtake at that corner. It’s a little bit frustrating but on the other hand we’re both fine and that is what matters.” Grosjean leads the title race after dominating the first two weekends of the championship. Fastest in all practice and qualifying sessions, and with two race wins and two fastest laps under his belt, he says he is enjoying his time with his new team Addax. “The team is doing a very, very good job. We have something with the car that is very good and obviously now we have to keep working and trying to keep this advantage. At the moment it’s a very good start to the season.” With the next race in two weeks’ time in Turkey, Grosjean also had an ominous warning for his rivals. “I didn’t like so much Barcelona and Monaco, but Turkey I like. In Turkey I won my first race last year and I love this new track because it’s like an old track but with all the security of a new one.”
Close call: Grosjean, above, and Zuber, below, had a big shunt at Monaco, but it seems not even feelings were hurt ...
Technical Update: Round Monaco is usually a track where there is a lot of technical stuff related to the particular features of this circuit, that requires an incredibly high downforce load, as the teams try to adapt their cars.
This year the situation was slightly different, in that some teams have introduced changes on their cars, not just due to the aforementioned needs, but instead more related to their planned longer-term development. In any case the changes seen on the cars were many, and here we look at a selection of the most interesting. 1 – Brawn BGP 001 chassis fins The leading car of the moment didn’t bring many changes in the Principality – although the diffuser was slightly changed, featuring two side slits to increase the efficiency of its central section. A small array of subtle changes were visible. Of particular interest, was the introduction of a horizontal fin placed just over the small barge boards placed on side of the chassis in front of the sidepods. These fins, shaped as a wing profile, slightly curved, help in terms of splitting the airflow in two parts, so to divert a portion of it in the highly-paced sidepod inlet, to feed the radiators. The lower portion of the airflow is diverted underneath the car, increasing the extraction of the rear diffuser. 2 – Redbull RB5 diffuser update The RB5 featured a deeply revised diffuser from first practice, that follows the same principle of the Brawn one. This is itself interesting due to the fact that the rear end of the RB5 originally wouldn’t be able to fit with such kind of diffuser, because the design of the rear end features a very low section with the upper wishbone of the rear suspension placed over the top of the gearbox case in one single element. The new diffuser, therefore meant requiring considerable modifications, starting with the gearbox case. Red Bull brought two new carbon-fibre gearboxes instead of the single one used by Webber in Spain, but apart from this the changes required to fit the new diffuser were really minimal. The diffuser is, in fact, pushed slightly backwards compared to the old one, but this didn’t require a particular redesign of
the rear end. The double-decker diffuser is clearly recognisable by the presence of the upper channel (contoured in yellow). This new feature should increase the downforce generated in this area by the bottom of the car, especially when F1 returns to higher-speed circuits. 3 – F60 revised front wing As part of a complete package of changes on the F60, Ferrari has modified their Brawn-style front wing endplates introduced in Spain. The second vertical element – placed on the edge of an arch-shaped knife edge profile to manage in a better way the airflow around the front wheels – has been increased in height, compared to the version seen in Spain (inset). In this way the turbulence generated by the front wheels is further reduced, so improving the efficiency of the front wing at slow speed. This, understandably is particularly useful here. 4 – BMW nose and front / rear wing A huge development package was introduced in Spain and retained for Monaco, with new nose , front wing, revised sidepods, revised engine cover, and a completely new rear wing. The car also underwent a weight reduction of around 7 kilos. All these changes were aimed at finding decent pace for the F109. This was partially reached in Barcelona, but not here where the same package was kept unvaried. In particular the new higher nose, now completely horizontal on its top side, aimed at increasing the airflow passing underneath, to increase the downforce generated by the bottom of the car and rear diffuser. Under the new nose appeared two series of small vertical fences, whose function was that of managing airflow in a better way towards the sidepods. At the rear, together with a slimmer engine cover in particular in the area of the exhaust pipes, it is interesting to note the introduction of a completely new rear wing, sporting an additional double profile in the central 15cm free section.
>> F1 NEWS
Monaco saw as much long-term development updates as Monaco-specific changes. Technical Editor PAOLO FILISETTI kept an eye on developments
1 4 This solution generates additional downforce close to the rear axle, hence improving the grip at the rear. It was a little strange that this was introduced in Barcelona, as it would have been more usual to adopt it in Monaco, where downforce load required is certainly higher.
HIGH SIDES After successful surgery, Sete Gibernau’s collarbone injury is not as bad as originally feared, and the 36year-old veteran is targeting a return for his home race, the Catalan GP, two weeks after the upcoming Italian round. He will thus miss two races after highsiding at Le Mans in practice. n
n Valentino Rossi lost the chance of taking his 100th GP win at home when he plummeted to last at Le Mans. Should he win at home it will be number 99. Should he not win, it will break a seven year’s straight streak of Mugello victories. n Mechanics working late in the pits at Le Mans on Saturday evening had the shock of their lives when a jet-powered drag racer exploded down pit lane in front of packed grandstands at the climax of a long stunt show. “Just about blew our pit door off,” said one dazed 125 mechanic.
Rossi-to-Ferrari rumours surface … again PERSISTENT rumours linking MotoGP dominant figure Valentino Rossi with a Formula 1 future with Ferrari have surfaced once more in Italy – and Rossi played along, when questioned by leading paper Gazzetta dello Sport. “We need to wait and see how the situation evolves, even if for next year it seems almost impossible for me,” he told reporters for the massive national sporting daily. Rossi has tested the F1 Ferrari several times, including a special “just-for-fun” outing at the factory’s Fiorano circuit at the end of last year. He came closest to a switch three years ago, and joined open F1 tests at Valencia … but found the atmosphere and the attitude of the existing drivers oppressive, and re-dedicated his racing future to MotoGP. That closed the door on any chance of emulating John Surtees, the only man to be two-wheel and four-wheel World Champion.
Especially since Rossi is now 30. But in spite of his insistence, the notion will not die. The latest rebirth is as part of Ferrari’s current dispute with the FIA, with suggestions that the traditional racing factory might find a seat for Valentino if it pursues its threat of a rebel series with three-driver teams. Rossi has just started a new two-year contract with Yamaha, tying him up also for 2010. Such a move “would be very difficult,” he told the newspaper. But he did not rule it out altogether. “It is everybody’s dream,” he said. MotoGP is dreading the eventual departure of the most popular rider ever, though a successful switch to F1 would bring some reflected glory. More worrying is the fear that he might persuade Yamaha to switch him to World Superbikes in 2010, for a final flourish to close his career.
n Beleaguered Chinese Haojue 125 team has called for a restoration of Thursday morning’s 125 practice, in a bid to solve development woes that mean neither rider even qualified in France; fourth time in a row for rookie Matt Hoyle. “It doesn’t save any time, and very little money,” said team chief Garry Taylor. “You can understand it for MotoGP, where engine maintenance is a major cost. But it’s not like that for 125s.” n Not strictly MotoGP, but it can happen to any motorbike. Yamaha’s official release about Superbike star Ben Spies’s retirement at Kyalami explained how he had been unable to change gear, after “his shit linkage broke”. Don’t you hate when that happens?
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>> Moto GP news
Race Director: pit stops are punishment enough VALENTINO Rossi’s disastrous French GP might have been slightly less so, but for the stipulation that each pit stop must entail a change to a different tyre combination. He would have had to make only two pit stops – and if still last, he might have been less that two laps behind. Rossi stopped early on the drying track to switch to dry tyres – and promptly crashed. When he nursed that bike to the pits, the crew had his earlier ‘wet’ bike ready, but with a slick tyre in the rear. Ideally, it would also have had slicks front and rear, but the regulations demand a change of tyres. As a result, he had to stop once more to change bikes again, in order to get the right tyre combination. A fourth call to the pits was for a ridethrough penalty, after he’d broken the pitlane speed limit on his second exit; the team had neglected to activate the speed-limiter switch. Race director Paul Butler described the third bike change as unnecessary. “We have tried and tried to get the requirement for different tyres removed, but the MSMA won’t budge,” he said. “I believe that having to come into the pits is enough of a penalty in itself – it’s reckoned to be worth about 30 seconds.” The fact that a rider was pitting in any case indicated he had some problem that needed solving. Dictating tyre choice just complicated the issue. Butler clarified another issue. The rules in English require a single tyre changed, but in French the word “tyres” is in the plural. Rossi’s crew chief Jerry Burgess growled: “I don’t read French”, when this was pointed out. Butler confirmed that in MotoGP, unlike many other motor sports, the English version of the regulations took precedence.
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Edwards linked to WSBK return IS double World Superbike champion Colin Edwards preparing to see out his career back in his old SBK haunts? There were already rumours that Yamaha might switch him with Ben Spies next year. Now he has confirmed new reports in Europe that link the timeless Texan – faster than ever at 35 years old – to a return not only to the production-based series, but also to the Aprilia factory that brought him to MotoGP in 2003.
Edwards eventually joined Yamaha as team-mate to Valentino Rossi, but only retained his current satelliteteam contract with the Tech 3 team after protracted negotiations last year. Reliably a strong competitor, he has been ten times on the rostrum, but has found victory elusive. Edwards told Britain’s Motor Cycle News that he was indeed in touch with Aprilia, adding: “I’m not sure what my future is in MotoGP, so I’m just looking
at all options.” All-new this year, the Aprilia V4 superbike has made an impressive debut in the hands of two ex-GP stars. Max Biaggi has been twice on the rostrum and three more times in the top five so far, while Shinya Nakano has a best of fourth. But it’s only, as he said, “at the starting gate”. Edwards said his first choice would be to stay where he was, with Tech 3 in MotoGP.
Teams must cap rider costs – IRTA Chief HERVE Poncharal, president of teams association IRTA and team principal of Yamaha Tech 3, believes that private teams need to reach some agreement to cap payments to riders. “Everyone is trying to cut costs, because this is necessary. This is the only cost that we can control,” said Poncharal.
“I believe we should try to find some agreement.” While the salaries of top riders would always fluctuate at the whim of major sponsors, Poncharal said there should be some control applied to the new class of rider created by the change in rules … that class rookies must spend their first year with a private or
satellite rather than a factory team. Several big names are in the frame; including US multichampion and Superbike sensation Ben Spies, and 250 stars Marco Simoncelli and Alvaro Bautista. It is these riders, already commanding good fees, that Poncharal is targeting. Poncharal postulated a
situation where his team, plus LCR Honda, Gresini Honda, Team Scot Honda and Pramac Ducati were competing for one rider. “In this case, the fee can go out of control. I think we need to talk together. “But it’s a competitive business,” he added. “I don’t know if this can ever be done.”
>> Moto GP news
Bridgestone investigation reveals Pedrosa’s luck DANI Pedrosa snared third place in Japan with an astonishing rip in his front tyre, as reported in GPWeek. Now Bridgestone has revealed the reason … a “foreign object” that worked its way out through the tread of the tyre. “After a detailed inspection, we found a small foreign object that had become embedded within the tread of the front slick,” said a company statement, quoting race tyre development manager Tohru Ubukata. “This was the origin of a weak point in the tread of the tyre which, during the course of the race, worked its way to the surface, causing a crack to form in the rubber.” Sounds like either a manufacturing fault, or that Dani picked up some debris. Either way, he was lucky to finish the race, let alone on the rostrum.
Interest promises big Moto2 grids Massive entry prediction means little chance of any 250s in 2010 RACE organisers expect to be inundated with entries for Moto2, the 250-class replacement, which kicks off a year earlier than planned in 2010. Early signs are that the 34 places will be easily filled and probably oversubscribed, so the selection committee will be able to pick and choose. This is in sharp contrast to the dying 250 class, which mustered only 23 fulltime starters at Le Mans. Although the series will be open to 250cc two-strokes for 2010 only, it is thought unlikely any will take part. With engine dimensions and basic specifications confirmed at Le Mans, teams were invited to submit applications – and there was an
immediate rush, with the proposed 34-strong grid already almost half full within the first 24 hours. More applications are expected from outside of the paddock, as small-scale constructors are attracted back into the sport, and organisers expect to have the luxury of whittling the list down to size. Entries will be prioritised, taking into account not only the team’s stature and record, but also the riders’. A provisional list will be drawn up within four weeks, to be revealed at the Catalunyan GP. Informal tiers of seniority have been suggested, with first preference going to existing MotoGP satellite teams (Tech 3, LCR, Gresini and Scot Honda have
already expressed strong interest). Next up will be existing 250 teams, and then 125 teams anxious to move up. There are plenty of these already interested. The surge of interest in the class suggests a high level of competition between chassis builders and teams. All will operate with the great leveller of an engine supplied at random from the pool at the start of the weekend, and given back straight after the race. This in turn makes it more attractive to riders, and may tempt current leading 250 protagonists Simoncelli and Bautista to linger in the junior class, in the attempt to become the first-ever Moto2 World Champion.
SPECIAL StAGES n The debate about the two-minute penalty in Sardinia imposed on the World Champion Sebastien Loeb is bound to continue, especially as his team-mate Dani Sordo was excluded for the same offence in Japan in 2006... n The IRC authorities have finally confirmed that the planned round in Japan will not now happen, so there will now be eight weeks between the penultimate and the final round of the series. n Patrick Snijers won seven of the 12 stages on the Sezoens Rally in Belgium, at the wheel of a Subaru Impreza World Rally Car. This was the first of the six rounds in the 2009 Euro Rally Challenge, which is aimed at competitors in World Rally Cars. n Reigning champion Roman Kresta (Peugeot 207 Super 2000) beat Vaclav Pech (Evo IX) by nearly a minute on the Czech national Cesky Krumlov Rally with Jaromir Tarabus third in a Fiat Grande Punto S2000. n Round three of the FIA’s European rally championship, the Croatia Rally, is held this weekend at Zagreb. Top seed is Polish driver Michal Solowow (Peugeot 207 Super 2000), ahead of Giandomenico Basso (Grand Punto S2000), who are heading the series. n Bumper fortnight for Italian rally fans, following last weekend’s Sardinia Rally. This weekend Kimi Raikkonen has been seeded number 15 in his Grande Punto S2000 on the Rally della Marca, to be run at Treviso.
We will if they do ... “WE’RE ready and want to continue in World Championship rallying but this is conditional – we will not be involved if we are alone!” Citroen Racing chief Olivier Quesnel has confirmed his company’s policy regarding future activity effectively depended on whether
Ford will be present in championship rallying after the end of this season. “We certainly want to stay and eagerly await coming decisions from the World Council on June 24 about the calendar and the technical regulations, and we hope that Ford will still be there.”
Mark Deans, Ford of Europe’s Motorsport Manager, is unable to give any assurances about the future of his team. “The Super 2000 development project is an M-Sport not a Ford project. We also really want to stay in the sport, but consent depends on the global economic situation.”
German’s WRC chance
22 year-old German driver Mark Wallenwein is entering four World Championship rallies as part of a proposed system in which entries on events in Italy, Poland, Finland and Spain are exchanged for entries in the Deutschland Rally.
Mark is the third generation rally driver in his family – his grandfather started competition 40 years ago and drove his last event at the age of 76. Mark’s elder brother Sandro finished second in the 2008 German championship.
Higgins closer in BRC scrap MARK Higgins reduced the British Rally Championship lead of Irish driver Keith Cronin in a close battle on the asphalt roads in south-east Scotland, but only just... Cronin’s Group N Mitsubishi punctured early on in the twoday Jim Clark rally and he spent the rest of the event trying to
catch Higgins, closing to within 2.6 seconds before the final group of stages. Higgins meanwhile had been suffering differential and misfiring problems, and only in the late stages was his old Group N Subaru Impreza made to work better. He finally gained maximum points from
this event by 11.4 seconds. Points total after three of the six championship events is Cronin 58, Higgins 56 and Alistair Fisher 41. Class wins were taken by Matti Rantanen, (Renault Clio), Martin McCormack (Citroen C2 R2 Max) and Gordon Nichol (Suzuki Swift Sport). Higgins, below, during the popular Duns Special Stage
>> WRC news CALENDAR IN ‘FLUX’
Fiesta R2 launched FORD’S customer market 1.6litre Fiesta R2, the company’s first rally car to be designed around FIA’s Group R rules, was launched at and ran as 00 car in the Rally d’Italia Sardegna. Aimed at replacing the popular 2-litre Group N Fiesta ST, (nearly 300 conversion kits for which have already been sold round the world), this model is intended as Ford’s next preferred single-make championship car. FIA’s cost saving Group R rules encourage performance improvements through using
parts sold as standard for more powerful models in the Ford range, rather than requiring specially engineered pieces. Certain special parts are admitted under the rules, however. The Fiesta R2 for example has a Sadev-supplied five-speed sequential gearbox, adjustable Reiger shock absorbers, a hydraulically operated handbrake, T45 material rollcages, special fourpiston front brake calipers, and a variable valve timing tuned version of the Zetec engine.
Chief engineer Chris Williams explained that many parts fitted to the car come from models in the Focus passenger car and also the Transit Connect van ranges. Malcolm Wilson of M-Sport explained that this car was an ideal project for a one-make World Rally Championshipbased series, having been developed to be suitable for the full range of conditions experienced in the WRC. FIA homologation is expected for July 1, but the first event on which the cars will appear is not yet decided.
Snijers set for Ypres Patrick Snijers will drive the Rene Georges-run VW Polo S2000, as team-mate for Francois Duval, on the Ypres Westhoek Rally.
Snijers, who lost his driving licence after a recce speeding offence, returned to the sport on the first full day of the Wallonie Rally. He regained
his licence from the Police at midnight, after the short opening day, during which his co-driver was obliged to drive the car!
ISC, the promoter for the World Rally Championship and charged with proposing a revised structure to the 2010 WRC calendar, has reacted to the withdrawal of three of the nominated rounds authorised by the FIA by adding four new names. Portugal, Spain, Corsica and Britain have been added to the series. The fourth name has been added as the Bulgarian round has yet to be official ‘observed’. No dates have yet been decided, because ISC is now suggesting some rallies change their dates, so that the calendar ends up with three week gaps between each championship round, and a longer gap in the summer, because of the World Cup football tournament. The draft proposals have been shown to the teams and will, in final form, then be presented to the FIA’s World Council meeting on 24 June. A major compromise is already evident – the policy of strict rotation approved in 2007 has been abandoned. The proposed calendar still seriously unbalanced. Although there are six events in first half of the season and seven in the northern autumn, there are four long-haul rallies in the first half (and a fifth in the second). The first event is still to be Sweden but then half of the season will be on gravel while four of the final seven events will be on asphalt. Comments from the teams are cautious. Olivier Quesnel of Citroen Racing: “The calendar could have been worse!” … though Mark Deans of Ford, who earlier strongly advocated a change to a winter calendar, nevertheless says that “the new calendar is encouraging – we have a group of organisers who really want to be part of the series”. Latest draft list for 2010 is thus: Sweden, Mexico, Portugal, Jordan, Turkey, New Zealand, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Japan, Spain, Corsica and Great Britain.
5 Minutes with ...
DANI PEDROSA After three years and just six wins aboard the top Honda, Dani Pedrosa has often been criticised for playing second fiddle to Rossi and Stoner. Dani started the season injured, but, as he told MICHAEL SCOTT, things are getting better GPWEEK: First off, how is your injury? DANI PEDROSA: Coming better day by day. My knee can bend almost full (he demonstrates). Still some problems in my kneecap, but on the bike it’s quite better now. Qatar was terrible, so it was impossible to go into the corner. But now as you see it is quite enough. Has it spoiled your training? Because my kneecap is so much stressed and making some friction with the knee, I cannot do it more than 15 minutes. So physical condition in general is not so good. But the knee will get better. It takes long. Everyone now has to race against Valentino Rossi, who is so dominant. Are you glad to be racing in his era, or do you wish he hadn’t been here? I like, because … one day I am done, it is better to know, okay, this was my level. Instead of trying to deceive myself. You’ve been criticised for not wanting to fight, for only taking runaway wins. The Spanish Press called you ‘The Voyeur’ because you only watched the RossiStoner battles from behind. Fair? I feel that, really, people don’t know exactly what is going on in the garage. Until you have the whole information I don’t think it is fair to make this criticism. In that year it was right that I couldn’t fight in many races, but I was also the only Honda on the top all the time. For me it was the limit. I couldn’t do more. If I could fight, sure I would. Before I used to care a little bit more about the perception of the people. Now I stopped. Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo are both real showmen. Why do you never do anything like that? It’s not my style. I care more about being concentrated and focused, and do the racing as best I can. I care less about making show. I don’t feel it is natural for me. If I make a show one day, it’s because it is automatic. If I have to plan things, like I will
stop at this corner and we will put a show … I don’t know. Where do you see your main strengths and weaknesses as a rider? Difficult for me to answer. I like when other people tell me. But I would say that my power of concentration is very high. And weakness … I have many, so to say which is the worst, I really don’t know. For example, before it was the rain. Now it’s coming a little bit better: still not good enough to win a race, but coming more normal. If you could change anything about your career, what would it be? I never thought about this question. Probably, when I crash I like to have less injuries. Because I am young and many times I went to the hospital (laughs). So in the future if I can change this, it would be good. Alberto Puig has been the guiding light of your whole career, but some think he is a bad influence on you. As before, on the critics, I think it is just … that people really don’t know him very well. From my point of view it’s not that case. Because he helped me from when I was 13 years old. He don’t want anything back, just me riding fast. 10 years together and he did everything just because of love of this sport. I really appreciate that.
In public, you look very solemn. But people say in private you are different. Because when I am in the public, I am racing, and it’s my concentration. I am very focused on what I am doing. For example Rossi does this show, and it goes with him. It’s his style and natural for him. For me it is natural to be focused and concentrated, nothing disturbs me, and I am always looking straight ahead. Back to motorbike racing. You seem to use a lot of traction control in the corners compared even to other Hondas. Is that how you like it? It’s not how I like it, but it is the way we have to set up our bike now, because our engine is very … let’s say peaky. In the corner we have some problems for the edge grip, so we have to control it. What’s your opinion of electronics at the moment? For one part I like, because it sometimes stops crashing. Like you can have huge high-side in the rain for example, because this bike has so much power. But the other point, with this technology you allow to the slowest rider to get closer to the fast ones, because the difficulty comes less. But they can’t overtake them. No. Still the fast ones are in front. But if you look at the times, the gap between the first
>> MOTO CHAT
and last is not very big. Everything comes more to the limit now. Before, the first 10 laps were like looking, warming up; and then start the fight. Now it’s like from the start to the finish it’s full, and you are always fighting for tenths of a second. That is why you can’t see so many fights. Didn’t you prefer it the old way, with more battles and overtaking? (Enthusiastically) Yeah. Now it’s like you start the race, it’s set, and then … (he shows a procession with his hands). It’s not really good. At the moment, it seems Dorna changes the rules every two weeks. If you could change the rules, what would you change? First one, not to change the rules every two weeks! It’s a little bit crazy. The other thing: it looks like the racing is going in this direction, like every day more limit, like F1 for example. But I don’t know how I can stop this. Really. If you cut off totally the electronics, I don’t believe it will help for the fight. Away from the track … what was the last good movie you saw? Probably … The Last Samurai. Music? I listen almost every day – I like especially the Eighties. Phil Collins is one of my favourites. But also I listen to modern as well. Normally pop or rock. Can you recommend a good book? Apart from Don Quixote, of course. Probably … The Power of One [by Bryce Courtenay]. Finally, the demands of MotoGP are tough; it’s a crazy business, really. Do you ever get the start-line blues, where you suddenly wonder what on earth you’re doing? (laughs) Not on the start line, but sometimes when you are in hospital, you think: why am I doing this? Then when you are fine again, you go again ….
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If there's no agreement ... With all that’s going with the FIA – EU Laws potentially broken, Ferrari, FOTA and the commercial rights holders – I would like to offer what might be solution. I own a TV production company – which I am happy to offer to the teams that look like leaving F1. I know a good promoter/management company that would be happy to help administer and run the back end of a new series. I will happily share the millions of $ in TV revenue that any new series created, managed and regulated by teams like Ferrari, Toyota, Red Bull et al – EQUALLY (that's better than your current deal, Ferrari excepted) and I will supply a plan that will enable this new series to be promoted to and followed by fans around the world. I am sure between us will be able to secure some tracks to race at - probably the ones Bernie DOES NOT own. I feel sure that countries currently paying Bernie & Co millions for the rights to host a race would look favorably at an offer made by any new series that had marquee names like Ferrari, Toyota, Red Bull etc on the grid - that reduced their 'pay to race”'fee - while still bringing the greatest motorsport show on earth to the fans. I , like many fans of F1, love it because it is cutting edge. We LOVE the technology and seeing the advances made on the track take form in road cars a few years later on. That technology costs money - and while a budget cap is a good idea - at Max’s current level of insistence it WILL damage the sport beyond repair. I don’t want to see that. I love the sport. OK, passing is a great thing too – and I don’t think any teams will disagree that the opportunity to pass the car in front is integral to making the event watchable from a fan perspective and marketable from a sponsors point of view. But that's why I suggest that you - the TEAMS – make and agree the rules. So – if the big teams decide not to enter the 2010 F1 Championship - please give me a call or drop me a line. Let Max and Bernie take second class cars and drivers wherever they like next year. I, and everyone I have spoken to, agree – if the big teams leave, so will we. I have no interest in watching a series that is dominated by an FIA bully with dubious credibility, who pushes rules without consultation. I doubt he can even drive ... I would LOVE to work with teams and sponsors serious about providing cutting-edge entertainment, using cutting-edge technology done under a set of regulations set out and agreed by the stakeholders – THE TEAMS. Call me ... Carl Liebold <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The best racing ca opinion
Michael Scott MotoGP Editor
In the wake of a brilliant French GP, and feeling a little guilty at being so rude about Le Mans last week when it was ended up so enjoyable, one thing stands out, a reaffirmation of what we had discovered already – pit stops make for brilliant racing. We discovered this first in Australia in 2006. It was the first time new flag-to-flag bike-change rules were used in anger. The wettyres bikes warming up as the weather got worse, the yes-or-no decisions as riders judged when to go off down the long pit lane for a quick change, the jostling once they
got there, vaulting from one saddle to another. And then a victory for Melandri. It was fantastic fun. Le Mans demonstrated it all over again. And, funnily enough, again favoured Melandri. It certainly proved how pit stops upset the procession and ensure real track battles, and without being in any way unfair. Lorenzo didn’t win because he was lucky. Nor was Rossi’s last place because he was unlucky. True enough, first into the pits for slicks was taking a big gamble, and he lost. But he fell off because he made a mistake, a fact he did not shirk in his post-race debrief. It’s plain to see how pit stops mix things up. Riders came in anywhere between the fifth and 12th laps, as each judged he’d be sufficiently
>> GPWEEK OPINION
an be in the pits rain. Without any intervention by the weather, the whole thing could be just a stopwatch charade. Not allowed to change tyres, or refuel, or running repairs. Just everyone has to come to a stop at some point during the race, for some prescribed time. It’s more or less what’s being considered anyway, in line with next year’s single-bike proposal, for races in which the weather does turn nasty: a fixed-time stop allowing time to change tyres and brakes. Very F1, this way of thinking. And why not? At least there are efforts to spice up the show. Nonetheless, the F1 parallel is uncomfortable, for deeper reasons. If Grand Prix motorbike racing now needs the reshuffle of pit stops to make it exciting again, then something has gone seriously, seriously wrong.
THE World Rally Championship calendar for 2010 is at the heart of our worries about the future of rallying. Even though International Sportsworld Communicators has now issued its first draft calendar for 2010, there are many issues to be identified and clarified before the 2010 season can finally be settled. The task of ISC cannot be underestimated; the withdrawal of Monte Carlo, Indonesia and Russia from the original 2010 list means that there are three vacancies to be filled if a full 12-event calendar is to happen. So, how to do it? Do you break the rotation agreement and invite rallies that were run in 2009? And if so, which ones will give a good balance to the 2010 season? Or, do you keep the rotation agreement and bring new events into the established 24-event consortium. Or, scrap the proposed 2010 calendar altogether, pretend it never existed and start all over again? The 2009 season was badly unbalanced. This year there are only two long-haul events, and only four of the 12 rounds are in the second six months of the season. And, in the matter of the remaining nine events scheduled for 2010, the balance gets even worse. The loss of the three
faster on slick tyres. Plenty of tension, just in that. But as an obvious consequence, some slower riders were catapulted up the running order, while fast ones dropped to the back. Then they had to sort themselves out all over again, by really racing each other. Overtaking make a come-back. The bottom line is: pit stops are great. Maybe they should be compulsory. Maybe the F1 trick should be adopted: compulsion. Problem is, at around 115 to 120 km, MotoGP races are too short to need refuelling. Indeed, they lend themselves to the opposite discipline, of restricting fuel: each bike is allowed just 21 litres for the distance. And changing tyres would be a contravention of the spirit of costcutting single-tyre rules. Even so, it’s not necessary to rely on
MArtin Holmes Rallies Editor
events means that there are now only four European rallies left in the 2010 WRC (Sweden, Bulgaria, Germany and Corsica) and only one of them, Sweden, before August. Also, three of the nine events are asphalt (Bulgaria, Germany and Corsica), a far higher proportion than is traditional in the championship. If the criteria of balance was to win the day, 2010 looked bad for Argentina (longhaul), Ireland (asphalt), Norway (a second winter rally), Australia (long-haul), Spain (asphalt) or Britain and Finland, if they each wished to stay at the latter end of the season. But then, should another completely new event be invited instead? The problem with choosing a newcomer is that there is now no time for a new event to be prepared, run and observed. A major upheaval is also out of the question; since the lists for 2010 were
published at the end of 2007, the event organisers are well into preparing their organisation and commercial contracts. Information was leaked at Sardinia as to what ISC was proposing. This was (a) break the rotation system in inviting some of the 2009 events into the 2010 season, (b) make the first half of the season long-haul and the second half mainly European, (c) make the first half mostly gravel and the second half mostly asphalt, (d) prepare for an increase in the number of events from 12 to 13 and (e) demand some teams change the dates they were originally offered. Now comes the long wait till the FIA’s World Council meeting to see what they think. The war is not over. Quite apart from the anger expected from the existing events who are being told to change their dates, or other 2009 events which were passed over, there is also a massive timing pressure on the ISC. Their proposals do not simply include a list of events on paper, there must first have been confirmation by the candidates of their acceptance of Promoters’ terms, a legal process which normally takes months. There has been almost no time for change at all.
n a M ’ n i t h g i F t e e r St
In Formula 1’s most glamorous race, one man’s talent shone brightest. It’s five wins out of six for Jenson Button, and this was “the best yet.” WILL BUXTON was there
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>> F1 MONACO
ENSON Button pulled his BrawnGP car into the pits at the end of the Monaco Grand Prix, as he has done for the last four years, and wondered what to do next. And then it dawned on him; he’d won the race. And he had parked in completely the wrong place. Cue one of the visually defining moments of the year to date, as the elated Briton ran the length of the start/finish stretch to the podium and awaiting Royal family, waving to the cheering fans on the way. It was the only mistake he’d made all afternoon. In taking victory from pole position, Button became the first British driver in 36 years to do so, and carved his name alongside the greats to have won on the streets of Monte Carlo in the past. The manner in which he did so reflected just how rich his title aspirations can now be judged. He didn’t just win the race, he completely annihilated his opposition, including his team-mate Rubens Barrichello … again. Barrichello himself put in a good performance, screaming off the line as the lights went out to beat Kimi Raikkonen to the first corner, and set up a Brawn 1-2 that was untouchable in race conditions. Button then started lapping his rivals 20 minutes into the 78-lap contest in a demonstration of the advantage held by the Brawn car, and the ease at which Button finds himself with its handling. Despite losing second place to Barrichello at the first corner, Raikkonen did lead home a Ferrari 3-4 for the Scuderia’s first double points finish of 2009. While Monaco isn’t traditionally the best overall indicator of the quality of a car, it was a fine result for the team, which is still trying to make up for the mistakes that have seen it slip from championship contention this season. But while Brawn and Ferrari had much to celebrate, Red Bull was left contemplating where they had gone wrong. Sebastian Vettel was angry to have missed out on pole on Saturday, but an uncharacteristically sloppy race from him ended in retirement, while Mark Webber, who many had earmarked as a potential race-winner in the new diffuserfitted RB5, was left to follow the top four home in fifth. If Red Bull had been left baffled by its inability to compete for the win, Toyota was left similarly dumbfounded. All the pre-race talk coming out of the team and, in particular, Jarno Trulli, was that Monaco stood as one of their best shots at victory. And yet the team was nowhere. Both cars went out of qualifying in the first session and Glock and Trulli trailed home in 10th and 13th. BMW, too, was hugely off the pace and never looked like mounting a challenge, even for points. Those final points positions went instead to Nico Rosberg, who in sixth position took his best result of 2009 for Williams, ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Renault. Eighth and the last point went to Sebastien Bourdais in the Toro Rosso… but only just. On a yellow card from the stewards for cutting the chicane, one more misdemeanour would have seen him slapped with a drive-through penalty, and would have gifted the final point to Giancarlo Fisichella, who brought his Force India home just 1.898s from its first ever point. But the man of the race, and of this season so far, was Jenson Button. Earlier in the weekend, his team boss Ross Brawn had said that Jenson was starting to emulate the kind of form that Michael Schumacher had shown at Ferrari. If his rivals weren’t worried before, they should be now.
Button: Title not mine to lose JENSON Button has said he is trying not to think about winning the Formula 1 World Championship, despite taking his fifth win in the first six races of the 2009 season – a feat previously only ever achieved by Alberto Ascari, Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Nigel Mansell and Michael Schumacher. With many people now saying it is Button’s title to lose, the Briton is insistent that his mindset could not be further from such a thought. “I wouldn’t put it like that,” he said. “I am 16 points in the lead and I have more of an advantage than others to win the championship. But it is all to play for. It is not mine to lose for sure. I am doing the best I can and at the moment that is good enough. We will see what happens over the next few races. “I am just enjoying this moment, as the whole team should be. Every win is great but I think for the whole team, and I
think everyone in Formula 1, you want to win in Monaco and you want to win your home Grand Prix. In a way this is both for me.” Button’s next home race is at Silverstone in four weeks time, and no matter what happens next time out in Turkey, he will arrive at the British Grand Prix at the top of the championship. “Yeah, that’s a great feeling,” he agreed. “I always love the British Grand Prix. It is obviously my proper home Grand Prix. Even when you’re not competitive and things are going tough you still get a lot of support there, being British, which is a great feeling. “But also going there having won five races will be a nice feeling and hopefully there will be lots of Brawn caps out there. I think they’ve only just gone on sale but it would be nice to see a couple out there. It’s a special race, whether you’re in a good car or a not so good car. But turning up there winning the
championship (ED: note the Freudian slip), yeah, it’s going to be a nice feeling and hopefully I’ll put on a good show in front of the home crowd.” For now, however, that championship remains a distant dream. “I’m taking it as it comes. Nothing’s changed. I don’t know what would change if I did think about the World Championship to be fair. But I’m enjoying myself, as you can imagine and I’m just looking forward to the next weekend in Turkey but before that we’ve got a bit of enjoyment to do this evening.”
Finally ... Ferrari get two home with po FERRARI Team Principal Stefano Domenicali says he is proud of the Ferrari team, following their first podium of 2009 at the Monaco Grand Prix. Kimi Raikkonen’s third place finish was backed up with a fourth place for Felipe Massa, bringing Ferrari its first two-car points finish of the year. “Well, at last two cars scored points and that was an important step,” he said after the race. “I think that the most important thing is that we showed that the people at home [in Maranello] are totally committed to the job. It’s not easy at the moment when you hear all around that you have to cut dramatically the costs, so they think we will lose hundreds of people, so we need to be very careful saying that. [That] is why I think it is important to thank all the people at home who are working flat out in order to improve the performance and the reliability that we didn’t have at the beginning [of the season.] “What we have seen in Spain, which was confirmed
here, shows that what we are doing is going in the right direction. We will stay focussed on our job, on the fact that in Turkey we need to move forward again because at least now we can see a little bit closer the cars that were in front of us and it’s a good motivation for everyone after a not very good start this season.” Domenicalli says that the F60 still has problems that need to be ironed out, but that the competitive edge of development was what the sport was all about. “I think for sure the downforce is the most important area that we have to recover and this will help a lot in high speed corners as it is the biggest problem we have to attack and I am sure that in Turkey already we will have another step. We are pretty sure that our competitors won’t turn up with the same spec, but this is racing and this is what we love about racing. You try to react and to show who is the fastest to recover.”
>> F1 MONACO
Getting closer ... NINTH position, and just one position away from a famous first point, was the result for Force India. Giancarlo Fisichella finished the race less than two seconds behind Sebastien Bourdais’ Toro Rosso, in what was the closest the team has been to scoring genuine pace-related points in its short history. “Ninth position is a great result for the team,” he said after the race. “The pace was very good and consistent and I felt I was driving well, taking care of the tyres and putting in some fast
laps at the same time. I just lost a position at the start and perhaps it was this that cost me the point in the end, but we have to be happy.” Fisichella also expressed his delight at the step forward the team has made over the last few races, which had resulted in both he and teammate Adrian Sutil reaching the second qualifying session on Saturday. “It was a great step forward, to get two cars into Q2 and then to get within two seconds of a point. We need to keep pushing and be there all the time now.”
Kovalainen disappoints again AFTER two consecutive years of victories in Monte Carlo, McLaren picked up no points in 2009, following a dire weekend for the team after showing so much promise early on. Lewis Hamilton’s race was compromised by a crash in qualifying, which ultimately saw him start from the back of the grid. With the Briton unlikely to score points it was therefore down to his teammate Heikki Kovalainen to bring home a result, and after being handed the perfect opportunity to shine, he crashed out of the race after another all-too-familiar mistake. “A disappointing outcome to my weekend after some real promise,” Heikki said afterwards. “During my first stint, I had a little difficulty making my tyres work properly. Nevertheless, I was able to get past Sebastian Vettel. My second set was much better and I was just waiting for Nico [Rosberg]’s pit-stop to have a chance to pass him, unfortunately I didn’t get that far. I hit the kerb at the fast chicane and the car’s rear stepped out. I couldn’t catch it and hit the guardrails. It was my fault and I want to say sorry to my team who have worked so hard to provide me with a competitive car.”
Grosjean’s smash and grab ROMAIN Grosjean laid down an ominous marker to anyone hoping to challenge him for GP2 title honours in 2009 with a dominant display around the streets of Monaco. Grosjean, as had been the case in Barcelona two weeks previously, was the man to beat from the outset. Quickest in practice, he duly took pole position by half a second from his teammate Vitaly Petrov. The first race was all about Grosjean, as the Frenchman led imperiously to record his second win of the season, and with Petrov behind him, Addax’s second 1-2 in as many events. Third on the day was Lucas di Grassi, but the Brazilian, along with seven of his fellow GP2 drivers, was slapped with a 25s penalty after the race for cutting the first corner. Why such a decision couldn’t have been made during the race by the stewards was anyone’s guess, as a drive-through penalty early on would have given fans of the championship a far better understanding of the real positions, and negated any need for the stewards to appear over-officious in the aftermath. Third, therefore, went to Andi Zuber, with di Grassi slipping to fourth, Nico Hulkenberg fifth, Jerome d’Ambrosio sixth, Karun Chandhok seventh and Pastor Maldonado eighth after Alvaro Parente and Edoardo Mortara made contact in the final laps. The second race saw Maldonado,
pictured right, on pole, and on a track at which he usually flies everyone expected him to walk the sprint race. He didn’t. Chandhok blasted off the line and into a lead he never really looked like losing. Even when Maldonado upped the pressure, Chandhok simply pulled a gap back out again and settled into his race with apparent ease. But luck can be a cruel mistress, and with two thirds of the contest under his belt, the Indian’s driveshaft decided it had been busy enough for one day and let go. The win was therefore handed to Maldonado, but not before a scary end to the race. With Chandhok out, Zuber and Grosjean were scrapping over fifth position, and into the chicane Zuber got it all wrong. As Grosjean tried to find a way through at Tabac, the Austrian covered the inside and then moved back onto the racing line. Grosjean had nowhere to go but over Zuber’s rear wing and up into the air, smashing into the catch fencing and barriers. Luckily the championship leader was unhurt, but the race was red flagged and Maldonado took the win from d’Ambrosio, his third podium in four races, and Nico Hulkenberg. The result means Grosjean leaves Monaco on 31 points with Petrov second on 16 and d’Ambrosio third on 13. In the teams’ championship Addax lead the way on 49, with DAMS second on 21 and ART third on 20. Next stop Turkey, and that’s one of Grosjean’s favourite tracks …
>> F1 MONACO
MONACO is, by tradition, Formula 1’s most glamorous race. The sight of an F1 car gunning it around the narrow streets of the Principality has for many years encapsulated the very essence of the sport to devotees and one-off fans alike. It’s the Superbowl of motorsport, if you like; the one race that people will tune in to watch even if they’re not that big a fan of the sport. To many, Monaco is Formula 1. With the future of the sport in flux, and its financial prowess under serious strain, it was therefore perhaps unsurprising to see this state of affairs mirrored by the championship’s blue ribbon event. Grandstand seats went unsold; hotel rooms and apartments that are usually oversubscribed and overpriced went spare. Hell, I booked my room on the Tuesday before the race. The exclusive F1 Paddock Club remained half full. It’s tough for company executives to quaff champagne while they’re cutting staff. Even the F1 teams themselves cut back. Red Bull’s traditional welcome party on the Thursday night, which usually takes over the entire ‘energy station’ motorhome, was softened down to a media-only affair on a smaller extremity of the great floating palace. For those who had to drive, there was little or no traffic to complain about. Even the town’s bars seemed quiet. And the harbour, which is usually packed out by some of the world’s most luxurious yachts felt strangely empty. With harbour space over the grand prix weekend usually booked up years in advance and at an unbelievable premium, the Monaco Harbour Master was reportedly doing
Where the streets have no fans
Will Buxton GPWeek Editor
last minute deals to fill the ports over the weekend. It was a little bit weird. And it’s a huge shame. If there is one place that is sure to make you forget about the politics, it is Monaco. Standing in the tunnel, watching F1 cars fly through the Swimming Pool
chicane … there’s nowhere else on earth where you get that close to the cars going that fast and looking so beautiful and yet menacing. This is why F1 needs to sort itself out. It’s not just the credit crunch that is keeping the fans away, it’s the political mess that the sport keeps on throwing itself into. If F1 needed a wake-up call, the Monaco Grand Prix was it. One hopes the powers that be heed the warning its biggest race has served to them. Because if you can’t sell out Monaco, you’re doing something very wrong indeed.
FORMULA 1 Round 6 MONACO Pos #
1 22 2 23 3 4 4 3 5 14 6 16 7 7 8 11 9 21 10 10 11 6 12 1 13 9 14 20 15 17 Ret 2 Ret 5 Ret 15 Ret 8 Ret 12
Jenson Button Rubens Barrichello Kimi Räikkönen Felipe Massa Mark Webber Nico Rosberg Fernando Alonso Sebastien Bourdais Giancarlo Fisichella Timo Glock Nick Heidfeld Lewis Hamilton Jarno Trulli Adrian Sutil Kazuki Nakajima Heikki Kovalainen Robert Kubica Sebastian Vettel Nelson Piquet Sebastien Buemi
Brawn-Mercedes 78 Brawn-Mercedes 78 Ferrari 78 Ferrari 78 RBR-Renault 78 Williams-Toyota 78 Renault 78 STR-Ferrari 78 Force India-Mercedes 78 Toyota 77 BMW Sauber 77 McLaren-Mercedes 77 Toyota 77 Force India-Mercedes 77 Williams-Toyota 76 McLaren-Mercedes 51 BMW Sauber 28 RBR-Renault 15 Renault 10 STR-Ferrari 10
Time 1:40:44.282 +7.6s +13.4s +15.1s +15.7s +33.5s +37.8s +63.1s +65.0s +1 Lap +1 Lap +1 Lap +1 Lap +1 Lap +2 Laps Accident Brakes Accident Accident Accident
Grid 1 3 2 5 8 6 9 14 13 19 16 20 18 15 10 7 17 4 12 11
Points – Drivers: Button 51, Barrichello 35, Vettel 23, Webber 19.5, Trulli 14.5, Glock 12, Alonso 11, Hamilton 9, Raikkonen 9, Massa 8. Manufacturers: Brawn 86, Red Bull 42.5, Toyota 26.5, Ferrari 17, McLaren 13, Renault 11, Williams-Toyota 7.5, BMW Sauber 6, Toro Rosso 5.
Team-By-Team: Monaco Grand
A story of what might-have-been for McLaren after the weekend had started off looking so bright. Hamilton had high expectations on one of his favourite tracks, while Kovalainen too seemed to be confident of a good result. Practice times seemed to reflect this confidence and the buzz around the paddock was that this could be the one shot Hamilton had of a win all season.
And then came qualifying, and Lewis put it in the wall. Heikki was top 10, but the team was still disappointed. Contact in the race sent things from bad to worse for last year’s winner, while Kovalainen was racing well within the points. But on his day to shine, the Finn stuffed it into the barriers. He has got to stop making these mistakes if he wants to hold onto his seat.
Well, well, well. Who would have guessed it? A Ferrari on the front row, both in the points and one in the podium. Monaco was kind to the Scuderia, who arrived with more updates after Spain and a feeling that they might just have turned a corner. While Monaco doesn’t give you the best steer on your ultimate competitiveness, the team must be
happy that on a track that requires so much downforce (their bugbear so far this season) they looked so good. Sure, Red Bull and Toyota’s fall from grace helped them out hugely, but take nothing away from the boys from Maranello. They’re making the kind of steps that could see them competing for race wins in the second half of the season.
The nightmare continues at BMW. While both drivers were looking forward to racing at Monaco, the results of practice left them gloomy. Getting out of Q1 was going to be tough, and they knew it. Thus it didn’t really seem like too great a shock for the boys when they were duly dumped out of qualifying at the first shout. In any other season it would have been
embarrassing. But this isn’t any other season and BMW are really struggling right now. The race saw a DNF for Kubica and a pretty plucky 11th for Heidfeld, who had battled hard with Hamilton. He was stuck behind Sutil for a number of laps, but even so admitted the car had been too slow for any sort of decent result regardless of traffic ...
The Renault squad had an air of calm and controlled confidence about it in Monaco, as both Alonso and Piquet fared well in the early running. Indeed, it was Piquet who seemed to have the edge in practice and the Brazilian looked comfortable in the R29 for one of few occasions this season. In qualifying, a perfect lap would have seen Piquet reach the top 10, but in the
end brake balance issues saw him spin in Q2 and qualify 12th, albeit only three spots behind Alonso. Come the race and Piquet was the innocent victim of Sebastien Buemi’s moment of madness, which called to an end what could have been a decent race for Renault’s number 2. Alonso raced well to finish seventh, banking a couple more points for the team.
The talk before the weekend had been of Jarno Trulli. He always goes well in Monaco and hopes were high that in 2009 he may just spring a surprise in the Toyota. Many pundits truly believed he had an outside shot at victory. Practice wasn’t promising though, as both Trulli and Glock struggled with their tyres. Overall, finding the right set-up was proving nigh on impossible, and even the
old Bahrain set-up didn’t give them the figures they were expecting. Baffled, both drivers slumped out of qualifying in Q1, with Glock plum last. Glock opted to start from the pit-lane and was shocked to finish 10th, while Trulli found himself in traffic and could only come home 13th. Both drivers will be hoping for a return to form in Turkey after a hugely frustrating weekend in Monaco.
>> F1 MONACO
nd Prix, Monte Carlo Practice time was important for the Toro Rosso boys and both Sebs duly kept their cars out of the barriers on Thursday. Both Buemi and Bourdais were pleased with their day’s work, and despite not having front-running pace, they were both confident of a good showing from the weekend. It was again the rookie who showed his more experienced team-mate the way
in qualifying as Bourdais wound up 14th and Buemi in 11th, and the prospect of points looked good. It was not to be for Buemi, however, who clattered into Piquet and killed both their races. He later apologised. Bourdais, meanwhile, rose through the field, made the best use of retirements ahead and kept his head for eighth and a point. Job done.
A weekend of missed opportunities for Red Bull, as the team finally got to run its new rear end. Practice was dismal with technical issues hampering both Vettel and Webber. But the promise was there and it was telling that Vettel was hugely upset to have only been fourth on the grid for the race start. With both drivers in the top 10, keeping
their noses clean should have rewarded them with a good haul of points. Vettel, however, had an uncharacteristically sloppy race, and finished up in the barriers. Webber took advantage of those ahead of him having trouble, set some good lap-times in clean air, and came home with fifth position and some good points. The team will hope to be fighting with Brawn again in Turkey.
Sir Frank Williams admitted that his team had been doing a bit too much showboating in practice in 2009, and that the low fuel runs weren’t truly indicative of pace. Even so, Rosberg again went fastest in the practice session and was hopeful of good things from the weekend. Nakajima, too, looked promising and both drivers duly made it into the top 10 in qualifying,
with Nakajima 10th and Rosberg 6th. The German looked racey and should perhaps have taken fifth following Vettel’s retirement. However, he insisted that sixth was the maximum the car could do on the day, and that was where he finished. At least it was points. Nakajima had a tougher time, struggling with traffic and crashing at the end of the race.
Force India has got to be wondering what it needs to do to get a break in Monaco. It wasn’t a bad start to the weekend for the team as Sutil found himself comfortably midfield in practice, and Fisichella agreed with his team-mate that this could turn out to be an OK weekend. Qualifying was a brilliant reward for the squad. Both drivers made it into Q2 with Sutil in 15th and Fisichella 13th.
At the start, the Italian lost a place and he ultimately blamed that for his race result, which was only 2s off a point. Had Bourdais straight-lined the chicane once more he would have been handed a drivethrough, and the points would have been Fisi’s. As we said, they just can’t get a break. Sutil finished 14th but having seen his team-mate’s pace was confident going forward.
Brawn’s fifth win from six races and their third 1-2 of the season is the big news, but it doesn’t tell the full story. Brawn had not started the weekend well, and was genuinely concerned about its pace in practice. With newer rivals to contend with, it looked like Monaco might not be the Brawn-fest some had anticipated. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, however, and Jenson Button delivered
another last gasp pole position with a brilliant lap around the Monaco streets. With Barrichello third, things were looking good. At the start, Barrichello got a great one and leapt up into second and from there it was all about the white cars. Nobody could touch them, and with every race Button is looking more and more the World Champion in waiting.
Greetings from Monaco
‘But it works in NASCAR ...’ Sebastien Buemi tried some good ol’ bump drafting on Nelson Piquet at Monaco; with disastrous effects. Speaking of which, Seb Vettel ran way to much camber and toein, while Lewis Hamilton’s toes got a good work out during qualifying when he had to walk home.
>> F1 MONACO
It was a case of big, bigger and biggest on the Monaco harbour, although as far as weâ€™re concerned, there was one boat that was clearly the best â€“ the GPWeek boat! Mind you, there were some other good looking, umm, vessels on the water.
This is for keeping me in a job! Rubens gave Ross Brawn a spray post-race. Being Monaco, you can only imagine that there was no shortage of champagne around for the luckier spectactors, too.
Simple and effectiv Jari-Matti Latvala was handed the lead in Sardegna thanks to Citroen playing tactics with Sebastien Loeb. But once in front, the Finn was unstoppable, breaking a record run from the French. MARTIN HOLMES reports 36
>> WRC ITALIA
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>> WRC ITALIA
T was one of the biggest turnarounds in rallying memory. The all conquering Citroen team arrived hoping to achieve a record seventh successive world rally win, pulling away to yet another title – but it all went wrong. The World Champion made a Time Control mistake and was then penalised for breaking the seat belt rules; his teammate Dani Sordo had endless turbo problems; two desperate attempts at clever tactics went wrong; and in the end, it was a corporate nightmare. The imposing collection of five C4 World Rally Cars was beaten by an eight-year old Xsara and Ford stormed through for its first World Rally win in over six months. Ford too had its moments of tactical distress but reacted instantly and brought Jari-Matti Latvala to his second championship victory.
n a week already charged with political drama, surrounding many aspects of the future World Rally Championship calendar, the Italian round of the series was action-packed. Latvala started with an ideal running position, seventh car on the road, and spent the first day building up a healthy lead. Having to start Day 2 first on the road, however, was a nightmare but he handled this with a maturity far beyond his 24 years, heading his teammate Mikko Hirvonen into the final day. On Day 3 Latvala again had to start first, but early still air led to heavy dust hanging in the air, giving him the chance to hold the lead to the finish. He waited anxiously to hear iif Ford would ask him to allow Hirvonen to win but the call didn’t come – there had already been too many failed tactical manouvres for comfort! The sandy tracks of Sardinia were dry, hot and dusty but there was some variety in the challenges they presented the drivers. Some faster sweeping stages favoured the Fords, others were more technical and gave
advantage to the Citroens. Loeb, however, was the favourite, the Italian press nicknaming him The Cannibal (who devours his rivals). But this was not the happy confident Loeb to which we are accustomed, though there was one shining moment which will be remembered for ever. He punctured and changed the wheel beside the stage in 70 seconds, but even that remarkable effort was clouded when the FIA officials noticed that his co-driver, Daniel Elena, had his seat belts unconnected for a while. This led to a two-minute penalty, which caused the duo to finish off the podium. The tenacity of Petter Solberg in his privately-run eight yearold Citroen Xsara WRCs is already becoming a legend in the sport, and he is a massive thorn in the side of the official Citroen Team. For this rally he had a different car with revised cooling systems and mechanical differentials, and from start to finish he was always in the top four positions. His efforts again put the efforts of the Citroen and Ford customer teams in the shade. Among the Citroen Junior drivers Evgeniy Novikov finished a remarkable fifth overall while both Sebastien Ogier and Conrad Rautenbach were delayed by suspension problems. Rautenbach’s hope for Citroen Junior points were sacrificed when his entry was withdraw before the finish, allowing Sordo to gain one more point for the official team. Among Ford’s customer teams, 22 year-old Matthew Wilson’s sixth place was a steady result ahead of his Stobart teammate Henning Solberg in eighth place. The Focus of Munchi’s driver Federico Villagra was withdrawn on the second day as his co-driver Jorge Perez Companc was unwell. 21 year-old Mads Ostberg was impressive, finishing seventh in his private Subaru Impreza WRC despite a 10 minute penalty (under SuperRally rules) for missing a stage.
SNIPPETS FROM SARDEGNA n Dani Sordo claimed the reason for checking in late at the start of the first stage, conveniently forcing Hirvonen to run on the road in front of him, was because he had “a damper problem”, which was not generally believed. On Stage 3 Sordo lost time with a broken front shock absorber, damaged when they hit a rock in the road. “It seems that the rock had been dislodged by the car in front of us,” Sordo explained. That was Hirvonen’s … n Latvia’s PCWRC driver Andis Neiksans was banned from starting the rally, following a recce accident after which the Police confiscated his driving licence. n Madeiran driver Bernardo Sousa maintained his unenviable record of Shakedown disasters. He crashed in the pre-rally Shakedown on his two previous PCWRC entries this year, Norway and Portugal, then here his Fiat Grand Punto broke its steering. n Sebastien Ogier was given a six-rally programme, to prove his worth in the WRC, up to Sardinia. Then Citroen Racing gave him one more, Acropolis, and now he has been tentatively entered for an eighth, Poland. “Everything depends on available funding”, explained Olivier Quesnel, “and at the moment we do not yet know he can start in Poland.” The entry was made, just in case. n An extraordinary disaster befell the five Pirelli Star Drivers on the first morning. After three stages only two arrived at the midday service still running. Two stopped with mysterious fuel troubles. Williams had complete clutch failure while both Nikara and Thomas reported misfiring. n Confirmed by Ford, the reason for Hirvonen’s retirement in Argentina, was a failure connected with the new electric water pump system in their car. n What’s in a name? Italian Gentleman driver Pierlorenzo Zanchi had painted on the side of his car the name ‘Petter Zanchi’... To the amusement of his friends, delivery of his latest luxury yacht was delayed and he was denied his accommodation at the island.
Al Attiyah takes a cl THE race for the championship in the Production Car category at Rally d’Italia was undoubtedly the most dramatic in the history of the series. In the end Nasser Al Attiyah snatched the lead on the final stage from Patrik Sandell and won by 1.5 seconds. Two other drivers had held the lead during the event, and there was an amazing series of eight successive stages in which the lead changed. Earlier Patrik Flodin had held the lead but then lost time with a driveshaft failure. Armindo Araujo led before he had a broken rear shock absorber. Al Attiyah now leads the series by two points from Araujo with Sandell one further point behind. Also in Group N cars were the five Pirelli Star Driver award winners. The highest placed of these drivers was 23 year-old Finn Jarkko Nikara, who finished third overall in Group N and three times scored fastest Group N stage times. All the Star Drivers had problems with their cars, usually with suspected fuel contamination, but in the case of Jon Williams a clutch failure. Both Mark Tapper and Martin Semerad retired after going off the road, while Nick Thomas stopped because of fuel trouble.
Markko back for Ford MARKKO Martin returned to the Ford team as a test driver before Sardinia, having in recent years been engaged in test work for Prodrive on their Impreza WRC projects. The team reported he gave important suspension ideas. Jari-Matti Latvala said: “It was a good idea. It is very easy for us to get blind to the things we are doing!” Christian Loriaux added “we wanted to have a test driver with no preconceived ideas, which is why we asked him. We had good feedback from him, his guidance happened to be in the same direction as we were going, anyway. It gave us a lot of confidence. “I suspect he was expecting to find more wrong things in what we were doing!”
>> WRC ITALIA
Prokop survives scare to take JWRC points
IT was the only time this season that all the registered Junior Championship contenders would be seen together and it was another close battle, eventually won by Citroen driver Martin Prokop. After leading early on, Prokop suffered from a neardisastrous electrical failure on a road section but finally recovered to regain the lead from Michal Kosciuszko when the Polish driver had a puncture on the final day. Alessandro Bettega led for a while before impacting a rock which shot the car off the road, and he had to wait for spectators to help him. Aaron Burkart went cautiously to finish third. Kosciuszko now holds a six point lead in the series, with the next round of the JWRC taking place in his home country.
Loriaux: Latvala’s car took Portugal hit well Crash not as bad as Galli in Germany 08 M-SPORT Technical Director Christian Loriaux talked about Latvala’s crash in Portugal during the Sardegna event. “It was, of course, a spectacular accident,” he said, “and because it was such a long accident it must have been very frightening, but it wasn’t the worst one we have had. “There was no massive impact at high speed. The car did very well. The accident for Gig Galli in Germany [last
year], for me, was a lot more severe; hitting something immoveable very hard at high speed. “What impressed me most was that the main roll cage tube has not moved at all – not a millimetre. That confirmed the way the cage was designed. It was a success for using the pyramid system, which we started with the 2003 Focus, systems which other people have [since] followed.”
CATALUNYA 1 Jari-Matti Latvala Ford Miikka Antilla 4:00:55.7s 2 Mikko Hirvonen Ford Jarmo Lehtinen +29.4s 3 Petter Solberg Citroen Phil Mills +1:57.6s 4 Sebastien Loeb Citroen Daniel Elena +1:43.7s* 5 Evgeny Novikov Citroen Dale Moscatt +5:11.8s 6 Matthew Wilson Ford Scott Martin +7:29.3s 7 Mads Ostberg Subaru Vanessa Engan +13:20.6s 8 Henning Solberg Ford Cato Menkkerud +13:21.2s Points: Loeb 55, Hirvonen 38, Sordo 31, H Solberg 2, P Solberg 20, Latvala 19.
MONOTYRE HONE AS MICHAEL SCOTT explains, the rules have been tweaked following ridersâ€™ requests
>> Moto GP INSIGHT
EYMOON IS OVER T
YRE rule changes announced in the break between French and Italian GPs mark the end of the honeymoon for this year’s new monotyre regulation. The fact that the changes are so small – “only a tweak”, according to one crew chief – can be taken as proof of a ‘so-far so-good’ feeling through most of the paddock after four races with control tyres. Even the complete absence of intermediate tyres has not proved a major problem. This was amply proved at Le Mans, where even in the changing conditions of a drying track there was sufficient overlap between the performance of full wet tyres and the replacement slicks to give a wide pit-stop window – from laps five to 12. “Even last year we noticed that Bridgestone wet-weather tyres were incredible on a drying track – sometimes lasting even better than our cut-slick intermediate tyres,” said Yamaha Tech 3 chief Hervé Poncharal. “At Le Mans, Lorenzo stayed out until the track was already almost dry, and he was still setting fastest laps.” The rule change affects only front tyres. Each rider gets eight for the weekend, as before, but with a touch of mix-and-match. In the original plan this meant four of each type of the two compounds Bridgestone brings to each circuit. From June 24, riders will be able to favour one or other type of tyre, and may change the ratio to 5:3 in whichever way they prefer. The only catch is that they have to decide within two hours of the finish of the previous race. This does have the effect, as another in racing management pointed out, of introducing a new element of prediction (also known as ‘educated guesswork’) to the new landscape. Since there is the possibility of getting it wrong as well as right, this makes the playing field a little less level than before.
It also gives Bridgestone the chance to adjust their tyre allocation. Since all supplies this year come to the tracks from Japan by sea rather than last year’s extensive air-freighting (another significant cost saving), they have to be despatched at least six weeks before the race in question. Pre-ordering a fortnight before the actual event gives a small window to air-freight any adjustments required. The rule change was requested by the riders, via the Safety Commission, confirmed race director Paul Butler. Since it was on the grounds of safety, it was passed on to Dorna, and thence to Bridgestone. “The new rule is working pretty well so far, with no complaints about the rear tyres, but some problems with the front allocation,” he said. The original request for more front tyres was firmly resisted by Bridgestone. The company’s alternative offer effectively does give a rider one more tyre. All riders will make the most of the new latitude, but it’s really being done with one particular rider in mind. Call it the Toni Elias Sanction; for his particularly acute case illustrates the problem for all. The erratically brilliant little Spaniard last year used special soft-construction front tyres from Bridgestone to suit his unique style. With the new control tyres, not only were the softer option not really soft enough for him, the harder fronts were quite useless. Effectively cutting his front tyre allocation for the weekend from eight to four. Now he can use five, and discard only three. He is not the only one. Capirossi’s Rizla Suzuki crew chief Stuart Shenton explains: “It’s normal that one of the two tyres will work much better for the rider, so it did sometimes get bit tight. You’d want to keep one for the race, leaving only three for all the practice.
“The front tyre choice is very personal to a rider. The rear is not so sensitive,” continued the experienced Englishman. Both current Suzuki riders Capirossi and Vermeulen agreed with the Rossi/ Stoner view, that they’d prefer the harder-construction front tyre they used last year. But in general they all felt the single-tyre rule was working alright so far, “as long as they don’t change it. “Bridgestone have tried to be fair, and the choice is pretty conservative, to operate over a wide range. If the same range of tyres was available as last year, we would have wanted different ones. But they’re not. “Where before we could change the tyre to suit the bike, now we don’t have that luxury any more. We have to modify the bike for a smaller choice of tyres. We need stability of rules while we do that, and it could take two or three years.” Suzuki’s problems at present on the control tyre were that the bike seemed over-sensitive to changing conditions. “We can’t throw another tyre at it. We have to find out why: whether it is engine character, chassis stiffness ratios, geometry … “ From Poncharal’s view (he is president of IRTA as well as Tech 3 team principal), the rule change is just a small adjustment. “Bridgestone was very clear, and would not give in to pressure for more front tyres. But for me this is a more than acceptable compromise, if it is going to help some riders, and as long as it doesn’t affect the total number of tyres.” Elias is the worst victim of the onetyre rule, and it is hard to know how to respond to his extreme case. He is somewhat isolated. Riders and teams alike have taken to the onetyre rule with barely a ripple. Even Rossi, after speaking about how he is having to adjust his bike and his style to a front tyre that is too soft in construction for him “to ride as I like”, seems happy enough to add: “but it’s the same for everyone.”
>> GPWEEK PArting Shot
The great thing about Monaco is that you can get almost close enough to the cars to touch them. Thatâ€™s certainly how the Brawn GP crew felt as Jenson roared past for victory #5 ... Photo: sutton-images.com
Published on May 31, 2009