Mansell cool on Hamilton hype
STR’s Berger predicts F1 future for Senna
McLaren to use radical wing in Spanish GP
Renault win approval for second wind tunnel
Coulthard sets new Barcelona lap record
BMW scraps Friday driver strategy
Honda unlikely to race ‘elephant ears’
Mansell cool on Hamilton hype
May 5 (GMM) Lewis Hamilton is reaping the rewards of formula one
success before he has truly delivered.
That is the claim of 1992 world champion and countryman Nigel Mansell,
who told the Daily Telegraph that the gushing British media also went
wild for Jenson Button long before the Englishman had won his solitary
"What can you say?" Mansell, who is now pushing on the single seater
careers of his sons Leo and Greg, said.
"We had to win races and challenge for championships before we got the
rewards. Now you seem to get the rewards before you achieve."
Mansell insisted that he has no hard feelings for Hamilton, but
credited much of the 22-year-old rookie’s impressive debut so far in 2007 to
He commented: "McLaren have been way overdue for success. Timing is
everything. When a driver can arrive with a team and an engine coming
right, it makes a difference. No disrespect to him."
But Mansell hints that Hamilton’s immaculate preparation for F1, since
first meeting Ron Dennis at the age of 10, makes comparisons with
earlier greats unsuitable.
"I think it was ordained," he said, comparing Lewis’ full McLaren
sponsorship through his junior career to Mansell’s selling of a house to
fund a Formula 3 seat — only to be fired.
Mansell said: "My story was a lot harder."
————————————————————————— STR’s Berger predicts F1 future for Senna
While directing yet more criticism at Scott Speed, Toro
Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger has predicted a bright future in formula
one for Ayrton Senna’s nephew.
Former GP winner Berger, who for many years was Ayrton’s teammate and
friend until his death in 1994, hailed 23-year-old Bruno Senna’s
front-running GP2 debut in the recent Bahrain round.
"I have been observing him for some time," Berger told Sport Bild,
referring to the Brazilian whose mother Vivianne was Ayrton’s sister.
"If he can now confirm the great potential he showed in Bahrain, then
formula one is the next step."
Berger’s affection for Senna is bad news for Californian Speed, whose
seat already came into doubt after his moderate debut last season.
Champ Car sensation Sebastien Bourdais is already waiting in the wings
for 2008, and Berger said of Speed this season: "He has not yet awoken
from his winter sleep."
————————————————————————– McLaren to use radical wing in Spanish GP
Contrary to earlier reports, McLaren has confirmed that
its new radical front wing is likely to be used at the Spanish grand prix
The Mercedes-powered team turned heads with the unique aerodynamic
innovation at the Barcelona test this week, which features an upper flap
that loops over the tip of the MP4-22 single seater’s nose.
But despite some suggestions that the piece had not lived up to
engineers’ expectations, McLaren’s F1 CEO Martin Whitmarsh on Friday confirmed
that the team was "pleased" with the results of its Spanish test.
Drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Fernando Alonso, moreover, are understood
to have reported that the bodywork, nicknamed the ‘bridge’ by some
sections of the media, delivered a slight improvement to the car’s
production of front-end handling.
"Consequentially it will be one of the options available to our drivers
during the Spanish grand prix weekend," Whitmarsh said.
——————————————————————————————– Renault win approval for second wind tunnel
Renault has won approval to situate a second wind tunnel
at its Enstone base.
Despite not enjoying a competitive start to the 2007 season, the
reigning back to back champions are looking to the longer-term future after
being granted conditional permission from the Oxfordshire County Council
to relocate a facility that is currently situated in Italy.
The approval is subject to the agreement of an ecologist, and it is
reported that at least one local resident is already objecting to the
development on the grounds that it will mean more vehicle movement on the
The new tunnel will create an extra 15 jobs, according to the Cotswold
——————————————————————————————– Coulthard sets new Barcelona lap record
David Coulthard turned a few heads on Thursday by setting
a new unofficial lap record as the four day Barcelona test drew to a
The Red Bull driver, whose ‘RB3’ was equipped with a new seamless shift
gearbox that also impressed in the hands of Mark Webber earlier this
week, narrowly went quicker than Kimi Raikkonen’s Monday benchmark after
Ferrari dominated the majority of the test.
It must be noted, however, that Scottish veteran Coulthard’s fast time
was achieved on a qualifying simulation run, and also before midday
when the skies above Circuit de Catalunya opened and ensured that none of
his rivals could trouble his apparent pace.
Meanwhile, aboard the heavily revised ‘F2007’ Ferrari, Brazil’s Felipe
Massa had a limited programme due to the rain and a hydraulic problem
in the morning, when it was mostly dry.
Teams packed up early at the end of the day when the track stayed wet.
Red Bull’s chief test engineer Ian Morgan said: "It’s always good to
produce quick lap times and to be fastest, but let’s wait and see how the
situation evolves when we come back here for the race."
The Spanish GP takes place next weekend.
BMW scraps Friday driver strategy
BMW Sauber has apparently caved to the pressure of its
race drivers by scrapping the unpopular policy of sitting one of them out
during Friday morning practice at grands prix this year.
The Swiss based outfit’s team principal Mario Theissen confirmed that
teenaged tester Sebastian Vettel will not take to the cockpit of either
Robert Kubica or Nick Heidfeld’s cars at the Spanish GP next weekend.
"Until further notice, the two race drivers will be on track for the
whole of Friday," the German said, having earlier revealed that BMW would
"look closely" at the strategy following Heidfeld’s struggle to perfect
his setup with limited practice time.
Germany’s Bild newspaper proclaimed the decision as a victory for
Heidfeld, who has been openly vocal about disagreeing with a plan that put
BMW’s race drivers at a disadvantage compared with its rivals.
The tabloid publication headlined that Theissen’s back-flip is a
"triumph" for 29-year-old Nick, who has yet to secure a contract for 2008,
"in the struggle for power".
In a media preview about the Barcelona race next weekend, meanwhile,
BMW-Sauber said it wanted to remain clearly the third quickest team in
formula one as the European season develops in 2007.
Honda unlikely to race ‘elephant ears’
Honda’s ‘elephant ears’ addition to the front nose of its
2007 car is unlikely to resurface at the Spanish GP next week.
The bizarre aerodynamic innovation – basically two sculpted vertical
winglets – was track debuted by test driver Christian Klien as the
Barcelona session drew to a close on Thursday.
But despite speculation that it is a definitive part of the beleaguered
Japanese squad’s new bodywork package, and the conspicuous presence at
Circuit de Catalunya of team boss Nick Fry, it is believed that Honda
engineers have almost certainly ruled out running the piece in the first
European race of 2007.
The Spanish newspaper ‘Diario As’ described the winglets, designed to
improve the RA107 single seater’s chronic instability under braking, as
"horrible" in appearance.
The report also claims that the device proved not adequately
"effective" after analysis of Klien’s programme for Thursday.
Race driver Rubens Barrichello, nonetheless, reports that he is feeling
"happier" with the updated RA107 following the test in Spain.
After finishing thirteenth and a lap down in Bahrain, he said: "We seem
to have found some results in the right direction, so I hope we can
make a small step forward at the next race."
Alonso says home GP not special
Fernando Alonso says he feels "no special responsibility"
in the lead-up to his home grand prix next weekend.
F1’s reigning world champion is credited for almost single-handedly
transforming the popularity of formula one in Spain, with an unprecedented
sellout crowd of 145,000 countrymen expected at the Barcelona circuit
next Sunday alone.
But 25-year-old Alonso shares a notoriously awkward relationship with
the Spanish press and has in the past expressed frustration at not being
able to live normally when he returns to the country from his home in
Speaking to the news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa in Barcelona
this week, he said: "I always try to drive a normal race.
"My goal is to win. When I race here, I want to win. When I race in
Bahrain, I want to win. The same for Monaco.
"I know that thousands of fans come to the circuit to see me, but when
I am driving in Bahrain, five million Spaniards are watching me on
television anyway," Alonso insisted.
Four-way fight in ’07 won’t last – Alonso
F1’s current four-way tussle for title supremacy is
unlikely to last until the final moments of the 2007 season.
That is the opinion of reigning double world champion Fernando Alonso,
who presently shares the top of the drivers’ standings with his rookie
teammate Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Raikkonen’s teammate Felipe Massa, meanwhile, is just five points
"The two Ferrari and McLaren drivers will fight together probably until
the middle of the season," Spaniard Alonso said in an interview with
Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
He added: "Eventually one or two will have some bad luck or stop
achieving such good results, so that at the end of the championship probably
only two or three will be left to fight."
Alonso conceded that English sensation Hamilton’s debut this year was
"a surprise for everyone".
"He is very fast and deserves his ranking in the championship.
Hopefully he can keep it up for the whole year," the Spaniard said.
While discounting some of the current frontrunners, however, Alonso
says a maiden victory for BMW-Sauber’s impressive Nick Heidfeld this year
cannot be ruled out.
"At the moment there is a small gap from the two top teams to BMW," he
"But perhaps at some circuits there will not be such a gap. We saw in
Bahrain that Nick is capable of fighting for the front positions.
"I think there will be races when not only McLaren and Ferrari are on
the podium, but Nick as well. And perhaps he will even fight for a
victory," Alonso added.
—————————————————————————– Updated Ferrari is ‘new car’ – Tost
The media-pleasers at the Barcelona test this week were
McLaren and Honda’s wacky wings.
But the real revolution roared out of the Ferrari garage, according to
the more astute members of the press; including Germany’s Sport Bild.
The magazine quoted Toro Rosso chief Franz Tost as observing: "What
Ferrari is testing is basically a new car."
Most obviously, the revised F2007 – strictly not a ‘b’-spec, according
to team sources – features a noticeably reshaped engine cover and
The controversial under-body, meanwhile, has been totally redesigned to
withstand the FIA’s new flexibility tests.
But it is the engine’s cooling system that is the newest, allowing
Maranello based engineers to run a more aggressive bodywork setup and
dominate the opening three days of the ultimately four day test.
"We are at least half a second faster than before," team racer and
Bahrain GP winner Felipe Massa is quoted as admitting.
‘Sport Bild’ estimates that Ferrari’s advantage over McLaren ahead of
the Spanish grand prix may have blown out to more than one second per
Gene opposed to return of street circuits
The apparent return of street circuits in formula one is
contrary to the sport’s push for better safety, according to Marc Gene.
The occasional Ferrari test driver told the Spanish news agency EFE
that he is opposed to Bernie Ecclestone’s negotiations with Valencia,
Singapore and other potential venues for Monaco-style city races.
Abu Dhabi’s grand prix layout for 2009 will combine a purpose-built
facility with a city section.
"It is definitely not going to be safer for the drivers," Gene said of
the apparent trend.
He continued: "With the exception of Monaco, the occurrence of street
races has been fading over the years.
"I don’t think it is a good idea that they start coming back, obviously
because of safety.
"But also in terms of the spectacle (I am opposed) because you almost
never see overtaking on a street circuit.
"Just from the perspective of a driver, I am not in favour."
F1 switch for Rossi not likely – Bernie
Bernie Ecclestone has backed multiple MotoGP champion
Valentino Rossi’s decision last year to call off his switch to formula one.
The F1 supremo, who chatted with the Italian rider on a visit to the
Istanbul round recently, said Rossi would have been "stupid" to abandon
his kingdom for the big unknown world of four wheels.
Bernie, 76, was reportedly desperate to lure flamboyant Rossi to F1 and
instrumental in his tests with Ferrari a couple of years ago.
But asked by Motorcycle News about Rossi’s decision to stick with
MotoGP, Ecclestone replied: "I would like to have seen him with us (but) to
be honest he’s good where he is.
"Obviously he would have been stupid to have moved. Honestly he’s the
king of the bikes and it would have been stupid to come to formula one
and maybe not make it.
"He did the right thing," Bernie added.
"We don’t know, maybe he would have come in and done well."
28-year-old Rossi is contracted to stay with his Yamaha team on two
wheels until the end of next year, but Ecclestone said he thought it now
unlikely that he might switch to formula one in the future.
Bernie said: "I think more likely he wants to do rallies. For us (the
issue is) not closed and for the teams I’m sure they’d love to have
"I’d love him to be there (in F1), but I don’t see it."
I won’t quit with third title – Alonso
Fernando Alonso has played down the prospect that he could
quit formula one as soon as he bags a third drivers’ title.
The 25-year-old Spaniard won back to back championships with Renault
and, after switching to McLaren, is jointly leading the 2007 standings.
The situation has rekindled memories of statements Alonso made late
last year, when he hinted that he would be content to retire with the same
number of titles as Ayrton Senna, Nelson Piquet and Niki Lauda.
In an new interview with Deutsche Press-Agentur, however, he clarified
that while he would be content with three championships, it does not
mean that he will quit if he achieves it in 2007.
Alonso started a three-season McLaren contract this year, and said:
"Even if I do achieve my ambition (in 2007) it will not mean that I will
no longer want to drive.
"If I should become a three times world champion, I will try to do it
"Each year you need new motivations and new goals. This year the
motivation is to win with McLaren-Mercedes and get the title. And next year
will not be different," Alonso said.
He agreed, however, that a third title would probably change the
challenge of formula one for him in successive seasons.
Alonso explained: "The pressure would probably not be as high as before
— I can imagine it would be more fun."
(c) 2007 Global Motorsport Media (GMM)