News and views on motorsports

Monday, December 19, 2005

News Comments

The reason why I haven't said anything about the latest testing results at all is that there's just no way to gain any accurate indications about 2006 until next year when all the 2006 spec cars are ready. Up until now we've all got modified 2005 and even 2004 chassis in the case of Ferraris fitted with development V8s and restricted V10s. The tyre manufacturers and the teams are just feeling their way in. So whether its Montagny or Schumacher going fastest is irrelevant at this stage. With 2006 bringing in another round of major rule changes, we can only know for sure a couple of weeks before Bahrain. After all, the F2004M looked quite good in the winter world championship this year but come Sepang, it was (happily) a couple of seconds off the pace.

These new V8s have such vastly different power characteristics. Its one thing to have lower brake horsepower and torque but the power delivery is also vastly different as well. Some speculate, we're looking at a narrower powerband than is usual with the 3.0 V10s. I'd think Renault would finally migrate to a seven speed transmission rather than persisting with their traditional six gears.

I'm not so sure that Toyota have gone down the right route with their TF106. Its front end was developed in 2005 and fitted to the TF105B. Its rear end is new for 2006. Well, with the differences in power characteristics, wouldn't it have been smarter to develop it all as one package once the V8s have had more running? Granted they've been testing their V8 far longer and harder than most teams during the season but surely it would have been wiser to wait until next year to finalise the design. Oh well, I surely hope Mike Gascoyne and Toyota get this one right. In any case, chief designer Gustav Brunner has now left Toyota. Speculation has it that he and Mike Gascoyne did not get along. In any case, I've thought of Brunner as quite a talented designer but at his advanced age he's out of fresh ideas. Witness 2004 when mid-season he simply ran out of ideas to develop the car. Not good in a sport where standing still means getting left behind. Money buys a lot in Formula 1 but not apparently all the ideas.

As we all know, Vodafone has decided not to continue its backing of Maranello and will now be the title sponsor for McLaren. Well done to the marketing folks at Woking for pulling this off. If I'm not mistaken Ferrari were quite confident of extending their deal after its end this year but now has the egg thrown firmly in their face. Annus horribilis indeed for the folks in red. Thrashed completely everywhere in 2005. Well, not to worry Bernie will always think of something for them. Like even more payments.

Now its also common knowledge that Vodafone is also a sponsor for Michael Schumacher. With Vodafone now Woking bound, some speculate that Michael will follow suit. There are of course the denials in the press. But wasn't it a couple of months ago that Herr Schumacher was seen with "friend" Norbert Haug in the pits twice in some apparently deep discussions? With lawyers present as well. Hmmm......

But most disingenuous statement of the week goes to Ross Brawn esquire, who calls for budget cuts across the board in Formula 1. It is the poor that asks for quarter when it comes to fiscal matters. And Ferrari, now with the loss of Vodafone and with parent Fiat in financial meltdown, are getting poorer by the minute. Funny how in previous years, when the kitty was full, they cared not for the plight of the poor whose balance sheets were definitively in the negative. But now of course, they sing the Max Mosley FIA party line. Oh and dear Ross, I'm sure Toyota and Honda's inflated spending were caused by their new windtunnel and team accquisition costs respectively. Confuse asset acquisitions not with operational expenditure. Year on year it is (or was) Ferrari that spent the most, everyone knows that. And yes, if Fiat still spent lavishly on its precious jewel and Vodafone still paid to be associated with Red then you can bet Ferrari will give bugger all to budget cuts.

Again, the issue of cost cutting. It just isn't going to happen. You can bet McLaren will be spending every last penny of that Vodafone sponsorship in an effort to extract the maximum advantage whatever rules the FIA proposes. It just goes somewhere whether this be to better facilities or simulation, the money will be spent. Those who have it will find a good use for it and will if they do things right, gain the advantage on the circuit. Even if that advantage buys them mere thousandths of a second. The only way to reduce budgets is to reduce sponsorship and thats not going to happen. There's just no way.

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