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Alonso Wants McLaren Love

Alonso wants more McLaren LoveAfter a team meeting before the Turkish Grand Prix to clear the air within the McLaren Team it seemed that Alonso and Hamilton  have put their differences after the events at the Hungarian Grand Prix behind them, with both stating that there are no grudges being held. McLaren though were careful all weekend to ensure that both drivers did not face the assembled press together.

Hair Today Gone TomorrowThere were also another couple of McLaren events this week that were quite interesting, firstly Alonso arrived at the Turkish Grand Prix sporting facial hair, something that is known to annoy team principal Ron Dennis, but the next day Alonso appeared cleanshaven, leading speculation that Alonso had been told to remove it.

The other incident was after the race, where Alonso finished 3rd. In the post race celebrations Ron Dennis appeared to congratulate Alonso, but it was hardly a hardy congratulations, but rather a typical stodgy “good race” from the McLaren team principal.

With the Hungarian episodes behind them McLaren appeared to be moving forward, but Alonso let it slip this week that he is still not happy with the way he has and is being treated by McLaren.

“That is always very clear in any team, you know, to have equal opportunities to everybody and to have an equal car to your teammate,” Alonso said on BBC Radio. “What I think sometimes is that I gave the team a lot. When I arrived in December, I remember the car I drove; I remember the results they had in 2006. And now, you know, I brought to the team half a second, six tenths, whatever, and I don’t see anything giving me back.”

With English being Alonso’s second language  everyone does have to be careful with the things he says, but it seems that he feels that McLaren are not giving him enough credit in their revival,  given their 2006 season. It’s almost impossible to know how much Alonso and/or Hamilton have contributed to the increased success of McLaren, after all McLaren have been a championship winning team many times over the years, and know what it takes to win.

If we look back to 2006, they knew they were not going to win the championship, and their star drive Raikkonen was leaving at years end, and Montoya left mid season, so the McLaren of 2006 is not really a real representation of where they would be in 2007. I am sure they stopped development on their 2006 car and were pouring all their resources into the 2007 car.

When Alonso came along  in pre-season testing McLaren would have been behind a little as they had not have a top current drivers input up until that point for the 2007 car, but obviously the car had good potential. Alonso would have contributed significantly to the program in testing, but then as a top driver he would have been expected to, it’s part of being a top driver.

Now, if he contributed as he has said, more than that, then maybe all the noise about Stepneygagte should die down and we should be looking into Alonsogate, as above the normal input of a top driver he would only be able to contribute Renault secrets and methods. Maybe what he is actually saying is “I bought a lot of Renault secrets with me to McLaren, and McLaren have used them but have not given me credit for giving those secrets to them”

Only a few people know the true sequence of events, and who contributed what to the current McLaren team, so we will probably know. Whatever happens, Alonso should be quiet and act like the true World Champion he is, not the sniveling schoolboy he seems to be turning into.

Mercedes Road Cars vs DTM vs F1

Yet another road car versus Formula One speed comparison, this time featuring two Mercedes road cars, followed by a Mercedes DTM car, and finally a McLaren Mercedes Formula One car.

Villeneuve to Toyota

Jacques Villeneuve to drive ToyotaNo, Jacques Villeneuve is not replacing Ralf Schumacher in Formula One next year at Toyota.

Instead Villeneuve will make the next move in his racing career, taking on NASCAR. THis week he will get his first taste of NASCAR by testing a Bill Davis Racing Toyota Tundra truck at Chicagoland Speedway.

Word is he will race in the last 7 truck series races of the year, and if things go well he may even make his Nextel Cup debut later in the year at the wheel of a Bill Davis Toyota, and could take over the #36 Camry next year full time in the Sprint Cup.

Bill Davis commented on NASCAR.com from Bristol that he will put Villeneuve in the final seven Craftsman Truck Series events this season, plus the ARCA event at Talladega Superspeedway — all in an attempt to prove to NASCAR officials that the former F1 star will be ready for a full-time Cup ride by 2008. But Davis didn’t rule out Villeneuve getting some seat time in a Cup car by the end of ’07.

“I don’t know. He’s going to do some Cup testing, some Car of Tomorrow testing, and maybe toward the end of the year we do run a Cup race,” Davis said. “We’ll just kind of see how things go.”

Asked why he was planning to start Villeneuve off in the Truck Series, Davis replied: “I think it’s just a good starting point. We’ve got a successful Truck program, and trucks that run up front and win races, and good teammates for him to pull from. It just makes sense. That’s something he could step into that’s working on a weekly basis, something that he can build his confidence in.”

Villeneuve is of course no stranger to oval racing, after spending a number of years racing on North American ovals, and winning the Indy 500. With those credentials he will fit right into NASCAR, just as Juan Pablo Montoya has done.

After the success of Juan Pablo Montoya coming to NASCAR this season Bill Davis signing Villeneuve makes a lot of sense. With the Car of Tomorrow becoming the only car raced next year, the learning curve will not be as great as it has been in the past. Sure the current drivers have this season to learn about the Car of Tomorrow, but that is nothing compared to the learning curve faced in the older style cars.

Also the signing of Villeneuve coincides with NASCAR’s move into Canada, and as we have seen in the past Villeneuve has an absolutely huge following in his native Canada, and NASCAR will love all those eyes on NASCAR programming at a time when ratings are slowly declining, and of course it’s a win win for Toyota. The only thing that has not been announced is how long time manager Craig Pollock will be involved. Expect some announcements soon, including maybe some sort of Pollock/Davis merger, after all I am sure Bill Davis could do with some input from one of the few people to successfully set up a formula one team from scratch in the recent past.

Massa Dominates In Turkey

Felipe Massa Wins Again in TurkeyFelipe Massa did everything in Turkey except take the fast race lap, which fell to his teammate Kimi Raikkonen. In the dying seconds of qualifying Massa took pole position away from Lewis Hamilton, setting the stage for an almost clean sweep weekend in Turkey, the site of his first ever pole position and win in 2006.

With Massa on pole, Raikkonen starting right behind him in 3rd, and with the McLarens on the dirty side of the grid, Hamilton in 2nd and Alonso in 4th, there really was no contest at the start as the Ferrari’s just drove away off the start and were never headed again. Raikkonen did close up on Massa late in the race, but never really threatened him at all.

Hamilton settled into a solid third ahead of his teammate Alonso, and just as it looked like they would finish that way, Hamilton had a front tire failure, managed to save himself from hitting anything, but had to pit to replace the tire, dropping him back to 5th behind Alonso in 3rd and Nick Heidfeld who finished a solid 4th. Hamilton almost dropped another position back to 6th as a charging Heikki Kovalainen closed the gap to him in the closing laps as Hamilton struggled with a damaged front wing, but Kovalainen ran out of time and finished 1 second behind Hamilton in 6th.

Off track this weekend things were much quieter than they have been recently, with a team meeting earlier in the week giving Alonso and Hamilton a chance to clear the air after the antics of the Hungarian Grand Prix a few weeks ago. It seems the meeting did have an effect as both Hamilton and Alonso reported that a truce had been struck. Despite this though, apparently the McLaren team was careful to make sure their drivers were never together when facing the media all weekend. Maybe everything is still not perfect in McLaren land.


Take a lap of the Istanbul circuit with Robert Kubica

Johnny Herbert Puts Hold On New Career

Johnny Herbert P1 Powerboat RacingOn August 14th Johnny Herbert tested for what may become a new career, swapping 4 wheels for no wheels. The test was in a P1 Powerboat, and was held on Lake Como in Italy.

The 43-year-old took to the driver’s seat of the 11.3-litre, Evolution Class front-runner Wettpunkt.com, alongside throttleman and team owner, Hannes Bohinc and navigator Ed Williams-Hawkes. Herbert was took his place as the boat driver in place of regular driver Miles Jennings.

Herbert commented afterwards: “I’ve always liked doing things that are challenging. In a straight line it’s not over-powerful – it doesn’t just suddenly shoot off like a Formula 1 car does – but what’s nice about it and very similar to F1 is when you go into the corners that’s where you start to get the grip on the turn. Trying to get that right is always the exciting part.”

“I didn’t know where I was going at first, but once you’ve done a couple of turns you know where you’re aiming for. It’s a little bit like being a rally driver and having a co-driver in the car alongside you. The relationship has to be very close and you have to gel, whereas driving an F1 car you’re on your own. It’s completely different to anything I’ve ever done before.”

Herbert enjoyed his ride enough to want to experience the boat in full racing conditions, and was a starter for the UIM Powerboat P1 World Championship event to be held at Cowes August 24-26, however at the last minute Herbert has pulled out to support his daughter at a clashing Olympic equestrian trial, but has said he would like to make his debut on water later in the year.

Is Nico Rosberg Really For Sale

Is Nico Rosberg Really For SaleDespite strong noises being made by Sir Frank Williams that Nico Rosberg is not for sale, he may still be for sale.

Formula One teams have a long history of denying rumors and paying tricks to try and maximize every opportunity to make some money, and with the escalating costs of Formula One the independent teams are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet and remain on the grid.

Williams have long held the belief that it is more about the car than the driver. Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head have proved that over the years by refusing to renew contracts of stars that they thought were asking for too much money, and they also have a record of plucking young drivers out of obscurity and making them stars.

Nico Rosberg, although not really plucked form obscurity thanks to being the son of a former Williams Formula One World Champion, is still a new face to Formula One, and found Williams willing to give him an opportunity to prove his talents, while at the same time providing great value for money for Williams.

Word on the specifics of the deal between Williams and Toyota are not well known, but most are assuming that Williams is a “customer” of Toyota, and that somewhere along the line there are payments made from Williams to Toyota (probably way less than market value and confused with “technology transfer” deals) , but nevertheless payments must be made.

However much these payments are, Williams will always be looking for ways to offset the cost of engines, and now with the Jenson Button payments from Honda drying up that income must be replaced, and what better way to do that than to trade Nico Rosberg to another team for a large cash settlement, or even sell him to Toyota in return for engines, after all there are several good candidates with experience to fill Rosbergs position in the team.

BMW Drivers For 2008 Confirmed

Heidfled and Kubica Re-Signed for 2008 at BMW Sauber F1BMW Sauber have announced that the drivers for their Formula One team in 2008 will remain as in 2007, with Nick Heidfeld partneing Robert Kubica.  Kubica was assured a seat, but with Heildfelds contract up this year a new contract had to be negotiated, but with Heildfelds strong performances this year there was never much doubt that he would be re-signed.

“Both Nick and Robert have delivered very strong performances in the course of this season. They have played a decisive role in enabling the BMW Sauber F1 Team to firmly establish itself as the third best team in Formula One. Forty two world championship points plus two podium places says everything about Nick’s achievements. For Robert, 2007 is his first full season in the top echelon of motor sport. In his brief Formula One career so far he has established himself as equal to Nick. With this strong driver team we are in an excellent position.” said Dr. Mario Theissen, the BMW Motorsport Director.

“For me it was always clear that I wanted to continue driving for the BMW Sauber F1 Team, and I never doubted that would be the case. When I look at the progress we have made over the last two years, it’s an incredible incentive for me. Personally I have high sporting ambitions and I am certain I can achieve them with the BMW Sauber F1 Team.”, said Nick Heidfeld.

“I have now been in Formula One for just over one year and have gathered a great deal of experience. Even so, I am learning new things every day and making steady progress. We now have to concentrate on achieving our ambitious common goals, and I’m confident that the team will be able to give me all the necessary tools that I need to reward them for their renewed trust.”, said Robert Kubica

There was no announcement about who would be the teams reserve and test drivers, with this announcement expected in the near future.

A Fun Press Release from Red Bull F1

Toro Rosso Fun press ReleaseRed Bull are a fun company, and since coming to Formula One they have injected more than their fair share of fun back into a sport that had become very stodgy. Before every race Formula One teams issue very corporate politically correct press releases, usually saying the very same things race after race, depending on where the team sits in the current F1 pecking order.

For those up the of the grid it’s pretty much always how we are looking forward to fighting our nearest rivals for the win, while for those in the midfield it’s usually how they are working harder than anyone to bridge the gap to the front running teams, and for those at the back of the field it usually tells the story of how the team will be a mid field team soon.

Red Bull have broken that tradition by putting some fun back into their press releases. After a recent Grand Prix a Toro Rosso press release simply stated that they had no comment, and in the lead up to this weekends Turkish Grand Prix Toro Rosso have released yet another gem, entitled “Understanding Press Releases”

You’ve had two weekends without a grand prix so here is a handy Red Bull Dictionary to remind you what all those Press Release quotes really mean: a useful Red Bullshitometer to keep with you throughout the race weekend. And don’t blame the press officers, because you have to remember that the Press Release is the only thing they produce that their team bosses and you, the media, actually recognise as work! So, without even pausing to optimise our issues, please read on:

“We have no plans to change any of our drivers in the near future.”
Means: “We plan to change one of our drivers on Monday after the race.”

“The car retired with an electrical failure.”
Means: “The engine seized, threw a piston and con rod through the side of the block where it cut through the electrical wiring loom, causing an electrical failure.”*
*If you run a customer engine, under no circumstances can you have an engine failure.

“We do not know what fuel loads the other teams were running in qualifying.”
Means: “We are in deep trouble because we are slower than the others, but actually it’s worse than that because we are much, much slower than them, as they have enough fuel to run ten laps more than us at the start of the race.”

“But the car has very good pace in race trim, so we should be okay for the race.”
Means: “Our car is just plain slow, but if we are stuck in the middle of the pack with no chance of overtaking, we can claim we had a competitive car and no one will know we are lying.”

“We knew our car would struggle on this type of circuit.”
Means: “Our car would struggle on any type of circuit made up of a tarmac road surface laid out with straights and corners.”

“I have a very good relationship with my team-mate.”
Means: “I am comfortably quicker than my teammate”

“I have a good working relationship with my team-mate.”
Means: “I hate my team-mate. I call him my ‘team-hate.’ He can’t even remember the names of his mechanics, he does hardly any testing, and yet he just turns up and drives the car and is quicker than me. He also has a much prettier girlfriend.”

“A difficult first day of practice which saw us struggle to find the right balance on the car. We still need to complete our tyre comparison programme.”
Means: “The car is a complete pig and the only balance I’m ever likely to find is the one in my bank account. As for the tyre choice, we’ll toss a coin in the hotel bar tonight to decide which one to use

“Next year, we should be able to challenge for race wins on a regular basis.”
Means: “We said exactly the same thing last year, but hope no one will notice that we are repeating ourselves.”

Of course, none of these comments refer to Red Bull Racing or Toro Rosso press releases, which are always honest, decent and truthful.

Pretty funny stuff, especially in an official press release from a Formula One Team. Now, if only some of the other teams would take their press communications a little less seriously than they do, then world would be a better place!

Dennis Talks to Schumacher

Well here it is hot off the press. Video of Ron Dennis talking to Michael Schumacher about one day driving for McLaren.

Sorry, it’s not about Schumacher replacing Alonso or Hamilton, but rather was taped many moons ago when Michael was still driving for Benetton, and before he left the team for Ferrari.