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So What’s New?

Good old Kimi has been keeping the tabloid journalists in copy – F1-Live has the story of his latest adventures in a karaoke bar. Not only was he singing, apparently, but also (shock, horror) he autographed a bottle of Koskenkorva Viina (some form of Finnish booze). No doubt he was drowning his sorrow at everyone saying that Massa will beat him at Ferrari.

It’s all a fuss about nothing, of course. What does it matter if he relaxes in a rather robust way as long as his performances in racing continue at as high a level as they have been in the past? The fact is that Kimi is not worried about Massa’s testing form and is looking forward to the races – he knows that racing is the spur that brings the best from himself and that he’ll produce the goods when it matters. I have no doubt that he will beat Massa comprehensively in the coming season.


Kimi in action

What remains to be seen is how well he will settle in the team. In previous posts I have wondered about this but this morning it occurred to me that he resembles another guy who once drove for Ferrari – Gilles Villeneuve. He has that same speed and cavalier approach to the sport that made Gilles so good to watch. Gilles also had his wild moments, all forgiven by the adoring tifosi because they knew he would always give of his best and never give up.

That was why Gilles became the darling of Ferrari and the fans – and Kimi could do the same if he has a few good races at the beginning of the season. Then will all the speculation about Massa cease.

The story does highlight the fact that there is a dearth of interesting news in F1 in these last few days before the Australian GP however. About the most exciting thing has been the expected announcement that Bridgestone will mark the different types of tires so that we can tell which each car is on – which is hardly earth-shattering news.

And that is why this article in Grand Prix dot com made me smile. If I may quote:

In terms of real news, there is currently very little and as we do not believe in manufacturing news stories we are keeping quiet for a few more days.

Now that is honest journalism!

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The Future of F1 in the States

Tony George, owner of the Indianapolis circuit, is scheduled to talk next Thursday about “The future of Formula One racing in the United States”. The Indy GP is guaranteed for 2007 but beyond that its continued existence is uncertain and the hope is that George will reveal his plans during his talk.


Aftermath of the accident that caused the controversy – Ralf Schumacher’s Toyota is hauled from the scene

Much of the doubt surrounding the Grand Prix centers on the events of 2005, when only six cars participated after the Michelin teams withdrew following tire failures on the banked curve. Yet this seems very unfair when it is remembered that the problem was between the tire company and the FIA and it was not caused by the circuit owners. Had the FIA been more flexible in its dealing with the situation, the race would have proceeded as normal. Several solutions, all quite workable, were proposed by Michelin but the FIA rejected them all, insisting that the cars should run on the circuit as it was, even though it was clear that safety was compromised by the likelihood of tire failures. Their own suggestion, that the Michelin-shod cars should slow down for the banked corner, would have made the race as much of a farce as ultimately resulted.

I suppose that it could be said that the banked curve itself was the problem and remains so; it is true that it is the only such corner on the F1 circuits. But in previous years there have been no tire failures and 2005 was a case of Michelin getting their calculations wrong, surely an incentive for tire manufacturers not to repeat the mistake. Now that Bridgestone is the sole tire supplier to F1, any future problems with the corner will be shared by all teams (including Ferrari) and a suitable compromise could be worked out without difficulty.

It should also be considered that F1 is trying to expand its following in the US. If the sport is to run scared of one banked corner, it loses all credibility with Americans, since they are used to so much of their motor sports being held on banked ovals. It becomes important to the future of F1 in America that Tony George decide to continue with the GP, therefore, and he is definitely the man we want to hear from on the subject. All eyes on this coming Thursday.

Apparently there are several F1 teams that would like another GP in the States and I heartily approve of this suggestion. Ideally, such a GP would be held in the west since the east is already catered for and two possibilities spring to mind immediately. Please, Mr Ecclestone, could F1 go back to Long Beach? It is a wonderful street circuit and there were some great races there.

Or, failing that, what about Laguna Seca? Okay, it would need some work done to get it up to F1 safety standards but imagine the cars going through the Corkscrew. If anything will increase the fanbase in America, that would! And it was used for a demonstration run by the Toyota in 2006 so we know it’s possible…

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