News and views on motorsports

Friday, March 24, 2006


Despite Toyota being slowest in testing at Paul Ricard, Ralf Schumacher seems bullish about his prospects in Australia next weekend. Thats a good luck to you Ralf. Interesting thing about the tests in Paul Ricard is that Heikki Kovalainen, despite doing a mammoth 200+ lap testing session managed to end up quicker than Pedro de la Rosa in the McLaren. Pedro, incidentally was doing a number of one lap qualy type runs in his tests, concentrating on Imola tyre selection. I'm not sure whether the times include these qualy runs, for if it did, it doesn't bode well for McLaren's pace. Nevertheless, Ron Dennis seems rather optimistic for Melbourne.

Whatever the case may be and despite a good show by Renault last weekend, 2006 seems a most unpredictable year. I don't think anyone can predict the relative performance of any car from one weekend to the next with any great accuracy. Still, one bookmaker I checked recently, placed Fernando Alonso as firm favourite for the title, giving his odds at evens. Kimi Raikkonen is next up followed closely by Michael Schumacher, then Giancarlo Fisichella and Jenson Button.

Speaking of Herr Schumacher, this curious article appeared on It begs the question, why wasn't Michael waved through to take fifth ahead of Massa at the Malaysian Grand Prix? Especially since any wave through could have been explained away as tyre wear on Massa's one stopping Ferrari. Yes, this did seem strange to me even as I watch the final laps of the race. I fully expected Massa to do a Jarno Trulli and offer no resistance to his teammate in turn 1. But it never did come. And yet, Michael clearly had a speed advantage over Massa if you observe their lap times. Well, I'd like to think that Filipe gave the folks on the pitwall a two fingered salute each time he passed by them on the start finish straight, everytime the call came. However, I guess we're unlikely to find out the truth to this one anytime soon. After all, it would not pay for the Ferrari team to admit to issuing team orders.

Glad to see that a lot of fans seem to think that the 3 year engine freeze proposed by the FIA is complete bollocks. The results of the ITV-F1 poll still running currently shows that 93% of viewers believed that the engine freeze simply is not what Formula 1 is all about. Max Mosley claims that fans do not care of the "hidden technologies" of Formula 1. I have a suspicion that in fact a lot of people do care for it very much and lap it up as those technologies are revealed in books and publications.

Despite my objections, I know there's nothing much I can do to change the sporting regulations for 2008. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by the use of the word "homologation" when defining the engine freeze. The word of course conjures images of sports, touring and rally cars where vehicles are homologated for competition after the production of a specified number of examples for the road. Nothing wrong with that in the context of tintop or sports cars. Once cars are homologated the chassis and engines can be modified as they wish. In fact, it wouldn't be too bad if Formula 1 followed that example. Development still occurs in homologated series. Its just that the basis of development is the homologated chassis or engine.

I agree that homologation is actually a good basis for cost reduction. In saloon car racing, you can modify the engine but the engine itself must have been homologated and is in production for road use. But how do you tell when a Formula 1 engine is new or is merely an evolution? I'm pretty sure some experts could tell and thats what Max intends to do.

However, the sporting regulations talk about engines "being identical" to the engine delivered and held by the FIA. Then there's the famous clause that states that if an engine is modified and resubmitted it must satisfy the FIA and other suppliers that the engine could "fairly and equitably" be allowed to compete with other homologated engines. I can only conclude that the FIA does not want the engines to be touched at all once submitted. And this is really where it is against the spirit of Formula 1.

In short, homologation is alright but freezing modifications and further evolution is not in my book. Come on Max. People seem to think that you want to put Formula 1 back into the 70s and there's very little anyone can do about that. But surely you must agree at that even the old Cosworth DFV was modified for every year (decades!) that it was in use.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Regrding de la Rosa, I understand he did all three days testing on the same engine, which could explain his slower pace - the engine surely had the revs turned down a fair bit to last that long.