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                                             MICHAEL
F1 >> MotoGP >> WRC




week.com
Issue No 079   TUESDAY April 27, 2010




                                                Is IT TOO
                                                sOOn
                                                TO wrITe
                                                hIM Off?
                                                 MOTOGP
                                        when nature intervenes

       >> GPWEEK OPENING Shot




  The glory days in Red. At his peak, Michael Schumacher was The Man, and
he and Ferrari were an irresistable force. Now, in 2010, the question is being
                                 asked again – can sporting comebacks work?
                                                                                 

                                                                                                   FULLY GREEN
                                                                                                 Informing motorsport
                                                                                                       fans world-wide
                                                                                                            – and not a
                                                                                                             single tree
                                                                                                             destroyed
                                                                                                                  to do
                                                                                                                      it!

                                     ISSUE 079                                             APRIL 27, 2010


week.com
EDITOR: ADAM HAY-NICHOLLS
adam@gpweek.com

MotoGP Editor: Michael Scott
michael@gpweek.com

Rally Editor: Martin Holmes
martin@gpweek.com

Production Artists (Australia):
Cedric Dufour, Kieryn Hyde

Photography
Sutton Motorsport Images
www.sutton-images.com
Keith Sutton keith@gpweek.com

Publisher
Chris Lambden
publisher@gpweek.com

Published by:
Grand Prix Week Ltd
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Northants NN12 6AG
United Kingdom
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renault singing Petrov’s praises a
RENAULT F1 Team boss Eric Boullier has        qualities: his speed and his calmness
applauded rookie Vitaly Petrov for his        under pressure. You always have to
impressive points-scoring drive in last       give young drivers time. Kobayashi
weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, where           and Hülkenberg, the other rookies in
the 25-year-old Russian scored six world      established teams, have struggled to
championship points for an impressive         finish races and score points this year,
seventh-place finish.                         and they both have more experience
   Going to China, Petrov had failed to       in an F1 car. [In China], Vitaly was
score a single race finish in three starts,   finally able to show his true talent.
largely due to reliability problems, but      It demonstrated that once he has
put his name firmly on the map by rising      confidence in the car, he can be very
to seventh from 14th on the grid in the       quick indeed.”
changeable conditions.                           Vitaly joined Williams’ Nico Hulkenberg
  “Vitaly put in a great drive. At the        as the second rookie to score points so
beginning of the race, the conditions         far this year.
were very tricky. Some parts of the track
were wet, some weren't, and it's never
easy for a rookie when the conditions are
changing all the time,” Eric Boullier said
during the week.
  “But once everybody got onto the same
tyres in the second half of the race, he
just got faster and faster – in the final
laps, he was the quickest car on track.”
   Like team-mate Robert Kubica and
eventual race winner Jenson Button,
Petrov took a gamble and stayed out
on slick tyres during the early drizzle,
with the qualities he demonstrated in
claiming second in the 2009 GP2 Series
finally showing in Formula One.
  “We know that he has some very strong




ferrari dismisses Alonso-Massa feu
 FERRARI has hit out angrily at
 suggestions in the media that
 there is a rift developing between
 Felipe Massa and Fernando
 Alonso following their infamous
 close encounter in the pit-lane
 of Shanghai last weekend when
 Alonso overtook Massa at the 90-
 degree left-hander pit-lane entry
 as the pair were stopping for
 intermediate rubber on lap 19.
    No less than four statements were
 issued by the team to dispel rumours
 of disquiet between the drivers,
 claiming that Massa and Alonso were
“tired and surprised” at the unwanted
 attention.


                                                                                            >> F1 NEWS

after debut points score in China




ud after China pitlane kerfuffle
                                    The day after the Chinese Grand Prix,   upon on Tuesday to ensure the fans that all
       Boys will be boys – no    a spokesperson said:                       was rosy. Massa said:
      rift says, the team, the     “What happened yesterday with              “As it happens quite often, there’s always
        boss, and the drivers    Fernando overtaking Felipe was just        someone who wants to create some
         themselves. Do they     an episode in a race and it should be      confusion. The situation between me and
            protest too much?    treated as such. Our drivers know how      Fernando is the one it always has been and
                                 to behave on the track and they have       an overtaking manoeuvre won’t change it
                                 shown it also this time.”                  for sure.”
                                    A day later, Ferrari President Luca        Fernando added:
                                 di Montezemolo weighed in on the             “I’m surprised by what I’ve been told. I
                                 debate:                                    already said it in Shanghai: this episode
                                   “There is no dispute between Alonso      is creating a stir just because it happened
                                 and Massa, they know well what they        between two team-mates. If the other car
                                 have to do and will continue doing it,     would have been green or grey, we’d all be
                                 because they know that they are racing     celebrating this manoeuvre, but instead
                                 for Ferrari and not for themselves.”       we’re just losing time with polemics, where
                                    Fernando and Felipe were also called    there is nothing to say.”

                                                                                                                       7
                Short

                                                  Mosley hits out at
                Straights
     Pedro de la Rosa could lose his seat at



                                                  ferrari and “weak”
    n
BMW Sauber in the near future according
to recent rumours, as the Swiss-based team
continues to under-perform following an
impressive pre-season testing programme.



                                                  di Montezemolo
With the team in need of sponsorship, it’s
been rumoured that Venezuela’s Pastor
Maldonado or Italy’s Luca Filippi, both
with significant backing, could replace the
former McLaren test driver as early as three
races’ time.
  n Reigning world champion Jenson
Button will move to Guernsey off the north
French coast next month, according to the
BBC, leaving the Monte-Carlo tax haven
in which he has resided since making the
jump to Formula One with Williams in
2000. Button was born in Frome, Somerset.
   n Ferrari is hoping to be allowed to
make changes to its fragile V8 engine in
the coming weeks in an effort to help its
poor reliability record. The Italian team
is expected to ask the FIA for permission
to changes it engines’ pneumatic valves
following a spate of failures in the first four
races. Under the engine freeze regulations,
all teams will have to agree to Ferrari’s
request before they will be allowed to
modify their powerplants.
   n Mercedes Grand Prix will increase the
wheelbase of its W01 for the forthcoming
Spanish Grand Prix in an attempt to push
it up the grid. The team miscalculated the        FORMER FIA President Max Mosley may              Mosley then talked about his arch-
move to narrower front tyres and larger           be six months into retirement after 16         nemesis LdM:
fuel tanks for 2010 resulting in major            years in the job, but the 70-year-old           “Luca is very, very good company
weight distribution problems, but the team        Briton is still managing to make the           with people and he’s certainly a very
is hoping the increased wheelbase will go         headlines.                                     personable, pleasant person but, in my
some way to improving the situation.                His latest controversial comment             opinion, he’s also a very weak character so
                                                  has been directed at Ferrari and their         he’s easily led.”
  n Serbian outfit Stefan GP has submitted        president, Luca di Montezemolo, after            He also strongly refuted past
an entry with the FIA to compete in the           the Maranello-based team scuppered             suggestions that the FIA favoured
2011 F1 season, after its last-minute             plans to introduce a grid-wide budget          Ferrari during his tenure, citing the
effort to secure a place on the 2010 grid         cap last year. Mosley also admitted it was     1999 Malaysian Grand Prix as a mistake,
with Toyota cars failed to materialise. The       a mistake to let Ferrari keep their 1999       when Ferrari escaped punishment on a
Belgrade-based outfit also plans to build         Malaysian Grand Prix win after barge           technicality.
an F1-standard circuit 25km outside the           board irregularities, while also branding di    “The classic case of people saying we
capital.                                          Montezemolo “weak”.                            favoured Ferrari was the barge boards,
  n Luca di Montezemolo will have more
                                                    In an interview with F1 Racing, Mosley       which were legal if they were at a slight
time to run Ferrari now after stepping            said of the budget cap:                        angle to the chassis and illegal if they
down as Fiat chairman last week. He will           “Between January and May in 2008, we          were vertical. Now I think that they were
be replaced by 34 year-old Agnelli-heir           had a series of meetings and everyone          probably vertical, but we took them off
John Elkann. Meanwhile, McLaren team              was agreed on the cost-cap and the             to look at them, and then it was possible
principal Martin Whitmarsh has taken on           methodology - but Ferrari were always          for Ferrari to say ‘No they were at a slight
two new roles within the McLaren group            against it. I think it's because they know     angle’ and they got off on that basis.
of companies – CEO of McLaren Group and           that if they had the same amount of             “We should have impounded the entire
Deputy Chairman of McLaren Automotive.            money to spend as the other teams, they        car, but you live and learn and we would
                                                  would fail.”                                   never make that mistake again.”


                                                                                                >> F1 NEWS

AirAsia comes
                                                          the onward journey to London
                                                          Stansted, and once the airspace
                                                          over London had reopened,
                                                          Fernandes was there to ensure



to the rescue
                                                          everyone was on the plane for
                                                          take-off.
                                                            “I’m delighted everyone’s made
                                                          it back to Norfolk safe and sound,”
                                                          said Fernandes after shepherding
                                                          his crew back to England on

Virgin and Kingfisher left                                Thursday.
                                                            “The AirAsia team in KL worked
                                                          extremely hard to ensure we
in the shade                                              could get everyone on the first
                                                          flight out, and with the extremely
                                                          tight timelines they’re working to
                                                          between now and the departure
 MALAYSIAN low-cost airline AirAsia                       dates for Barcelona, it was vital
 stole a march on its fellow F1 rivals in        we could get them all home as soon as
 the aftermath of the Chinese Grand Prix,        possible.
 when it helped numerous F1 personnel              “We were fully prepared for the journey
 return to Europe amid the chaos caused          back, and when I gave the team a tour of
 by Iceland’s erupting volcano.                  the AirAsia Academy at Sepang on Tuesday,
   After seeing his team’s travel plans          I showed them the simulators where our
 disrupted by the volcanic ash, Lotus team       pilots had been through rigorous training
 principal and AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes        for flying through volcanic ash. Tough
 was quick on his feet to organize a special     times often produce amazing results, and
 F1 flight from Kuala Lumpur to London,          the team has bonded even more closely
 leaving fellow F1 airline rivals Virgin and     through these trying times, both internally
 Kingfisher (owners of Virgin Racing and         and with the AirAsia team who helped
 Force India respectively) in his wake.          them out. They knew they were in safe
   The first task at hand was getting all        hands and it’s great we could get them
 his passengers to Kuala Lumpur for              back ahead of most of the grid!”




f1 travel chaos after Icelandic volcano eruption
THE F1 circus has been trickling back            Most had made it back to Europe
to Europe in dribs and drabs ever since        by Wednesday though, at the time of
the conclusion of last Sunday’s Chinese        writing, many F1-related folk are still
Grand Prix.                                    stranded in Shanghai.
  The now infamous Eyjafjallajökull              However, with the next grand prix just
volcano in Iceland caused the majority         under two weeks’ away, there is still time
of airspace over Europe to be closed           for everyone to be home and dry before
for safety reasons from the Thursday           the action kicks off for the start of the
before the race, and with the no-fly           European season.
period continuing into last week, many           Read more about the race to get home
people had to arrange alternative ways of      in GP WEEK editor Adam Hay-Nicholls’
returning home.                                column.




   For your daily dose
   of Formula 1 news ...
                                                                                                         9
spanish Grand Prix not affected
by air travel disruption
THE forthcoming Spanish Grand Prix,
scheduled to take place in just under two
weeks’ time, on May 9 in Barcelona, will go
ahead as planned without any disruption,
despite the major travel chaos caused by
the Icelandic volcanic eruption last week.
   While some F1 personnel are still
stranded in Shanghai, the cars and
equipment of the sport’s 12 teams has
already landed in Europe and has made its
way to team headquarters in England, Italy
and Spain.
   F1’s commercial rights holder, Formula
One Administration, is responsible for
transporting team equipment between
fly-away races and once the skies above
Europe opened late last week, it didn’t take
long for FOA’s Boeing 747 cargo planes to
arrive and deliver their goods.
   Teams had originally been worried that
the flight delays would impact on their
pre-Spain development work, with most
outfits planning major upgrades for the first
European race. All 24 cars have been away
from base since a week before the Bahrain
Grand Prix in early March such is the tight
schedules of long-distance fly-away races.
  “Thankfully, the way the calendar is with
the extra week between the Chinese and
Spanish Grand Prix, it has a very limited
impact,” confirmed Red Bull team principal
Christian Horner.
  “There's still over a week to turn the cars
around and a lot of the components for the
next race are produced here in the factory.
  “The factory hasn't been affected –
obviously the turnaround components are
a little bit out of sync now coming back two
or three days late, but with the additional
week, we're confident it won't cause us any
major issues.”




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10
                                                                                                           >> F1 NEWS

 Pirelli eyeing f1 return
 ITALIAN tyre manufacturer Pirelli has         by Michelin, would clear Pirelli’s major    teams to use their tyres, rather than the
 become the latest name to throw its           roadblock towards a Formula One return –    tyre manufacturers providing teams with
 hat in the F1 ring after revealing that it    by making tyre technology relevant to its   tyres free-of-charge.
 is considering a return to Formula One        other activities.                              The company is to complete a feasibility
– provided the sport moves to 18-inch            Also of importance to Pirelli is the      study on a possible return, although 2012
 wheel rims.                                   changed commercial agreement, which         is likely to be the first we’ll see of a Pirelli
    With Bridgestone due to end its sole       would see tyre manufacturers get paid by    tyre in F1, if at all.
 tyre supply agreement with the FIA at
 the end of the year, the sport’s power
 brokers have been on the look-out for a
 replacement, with Michelin and Cooper
 Avon thus far the only known candidates.
    Ever since withdrawing from Formula
 One in 1991, Pirelli has refused to
 entertain the idea of returning to the
 pinnacle of motorsport due to the high-
 profile 13-inch wheel rims currently in
 use. Most other racing series and road car
 tyres use wheels of much lower profile,
 but a move to 18-inch rims, as demanded




Button “blown away” by opening 2010 races
 REIGNING world champion and         than one race this year so far.
 current championship leader         His victories have propelled
 Jenson Button says he has been      McLaren into a 19-point lead,
“blown away” by the start to his     but the 30-year-old insists that
 2010 season, after claiming two     it’s because of his team’s hard
 wins in his first four races for    work that they have emerged
 McLaren.                            on top.
   Few pundits predicted Button        “It has been an absolutely
 would be able to challenge          incredible start to the season.
 Lewis Hamilton’s skill and talent   Just incredible,” exclaimed
 behind the wheel of the MP4-        Button following his Chinese
 25, not least take two impressive   Grand Prix victory.
 wins and lead the world               “To say I'm satisfied would be a
 championship standings by ten       massive understatement - I am
 points.                             absolutely blown away by all
   But two inspired tyre calls in    the events of the last five weeks,
 Australia and China helped him      and to be on top in the world
 to two unexpected wins, making      championship is just an amazing
 him the only driver to win more     place to be. And it feels so good.”
                                                                                                                        The world of MoTorsporT
                                                                                                                                                                  direcTly To your deskTo
                                                                                                                                                                                                         p



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                                                                                                                                                                                               11
                n




            HIGH                           hayden:
            SIDES
                                   “I was faster than I looked”
  n Massive crowds are             2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden has sounded a
expected for the opening           warning to those who had ceased to take him seriously,
round of the European season       saying that his strong fourth place at Qatar was the
at Jerez next week. Always a       culmination of a steady improvement.
record-setting event, Jerez is       “I’d say it started toward the end of last year, the middle
the first chance avid Spanish      of last year. We started to get some momentum going.
fans will have of seeing           I was faster than it really looked,” he said, as prime
MotoGP bikes for almost six        guest at a teleconference to promote the forthcoming
months, after show-case pre-       Indianapolis GP.
season tests were cancelled.           But things had improved, with the new bike, with
  n October 3 has been
                                   revised firing intervals. “I feel a lot more comfortable on
confirmed as the replacement       it, and also with the team,” he explained.
date for the cancelled               “I like the bike, and we’ve been quick testing. But we
Japanese GP. The slot was          still got some areas we need to improve on. So we’ve
proposed at the same time as       got a lot of work to do,” he said.
cancellation of last weekend’s        The engine felt smoother, he said, and there was a
race was announced.                better feel at the bottom end of the rev range. “With
                                   this engine, you’ve got more connectability.”
  n Mika Kallio added two              Hayden acknowledged that the improved bottom-
more national ice-racing           end performance may have cost some of the Ducati’s
championships to bring his         legendary top speed, but while he’d been somewhat
tally to five at home in Finland   surprised to be outpowered by Dovizioso’s Honda
in the winter. While riding on     on the run to the line at Qatar, costing him a rostrum
ice, on motocross bikes with       finish, the Honda had been quick throughout testing,
studded tyres, was “completely     while he was not getting off the last corner well. It
different from MotoGP”, he         might not prove typical, he said.
said, the close racing helped to
keep the reflexes sharp.



                                         help, help me honda!
  n British bike racing fans
were heartened by an all-
British rostrum at the World
Superbike race at Assen last
weekend, as Rea, Toseland and
Haslam stood side by side. The
SBK race went ahead in spite
                                       Pedrosa asks for urgent assistance
of the flying ban, with the               THE Repsol Honda factory team’s top             he will get the upgraded unit for the first of
track easily accessible by road         rider Dani Pedrosa has asked HRC for              four home Spanish races.
to most competitors.                    urgent assistance to the problems that             “The bike is jumping around, into the
                                        have seen him slump behind junior team-           corner, in the middle of the corner, and
   n Skulduggery has been               mate Andrea Dovizioso – and the factory           on the exit,” Pedrosa complained after the
ruled out as the cause of 2009          had been ready to respond in time for the         Qatar race, where he led from the start but
125 champion Julian Simon’s             Motegi GP.                                        fell back to a disappointed seventh, while
costly slipper clutch failure             Cancellation thwarted plans for the             Dovizioso finished third.
on the first lap of the Moto2           Spaniard to try a stiffer version of the            The solution was extra stiffness, and
race at Qatar. Simon qualified          RC212V chassis at Honda’s home-track race,        Pedrosa was hoping for the best. “I am
on the front row, but did not           but now                                                       disappointed not to get the
complete the first lap. Since                                                                         chance to try it in Japan,” he said.
all clutches are supplied by                                                                             Dovizioso had a slightly
Suter Racing, which is also a                                                                          different view. “From the riders’
major chassis supplier to the                                                                          and fans’ point of view it is a
class, some reports hinted at                                                                          pity of course, but I think that
sabotage – Simon was using                                                                             technically it can be a small
a new clutch for the race. But                                                                          advantage for us, because
this would be impossible:                                                                               now the technicians have
clutches are allocated at                                                                               more time to work on the
random by race officials, with                                                                          developments we’ve asked for.”
no involvement by Suter.

1
                                                                                            >> Moto GP news

    MotoGP solves the double bind
    Bikes back in time for Jerez




FEARS that the cancellation of last weekend’s Japanese GP                October 3, a week before the Malaysian GP.
would have a knock-on effect on Sunday’s Spanish GP at Jerez                Teams’ association IRTA chief Mike Trimby told GPWEEK:
were set to rest on Monday, when the first of three Jumbo-jets             “Ninety percent of the teams were scheduled to fly out of
touched down at Seville with bikes and cargo from Japan.                 northern Europe – Paris, or Frankfurt or Schiphol.” With the
  The Japanese race was called off with a week to go, and                situation uncertain and plans for re-opening air space being
rescheduled for October 3, in response to an almost week-long            deferred day by day, he said that Dorna would make a firm decision
shut-down of air space over most of Europe, because of volcanic          on Monday.
dust from Iceland. With aircraft grounded riders and team                   In fact, Dorna had already decided to pull the plug, and teams
personnel would have been unable to get to Japan for the race.           were informed during the weekend that the race was to be
  But Dorna was in a double bind. Not only were the staff stranded       postponed.
around Europe, but the bikes and equipment were also stranded               The machines and equipment were already in Japan, having
in Japan, having been flown out directly after the opening round in      been air-freighted directly from Qatar the weekend before. But the
Qatar two weeks before.                                                  riders and team personnel were missing.
  Cancellation of the race gave more time to return the bikes, but          Dorna had a back-up plan in motion, with two wide-bodied jets
at the same time the backlog of passengers and cargo from the            on standby to take off from Istanbul. However, this was abandoned,
shut-down had left schedules in tatters, and caused real fears that      in the face of continuing reports that the crisis showed no sign of
the bikes might not get back to Spain in time for the race.              lifting, and amid fears that the dust cloud might close the Turkish
  By the weekend air traffic was moving again and air-space back         airport as well, even if the people were able to get there.
to normal. By then, Dorna had already arranged three air-freighters,        The MotoGP event was the first major sporting fixture to be
one flying via Siberia and Kazakhstan, the other two taking a more       cancelled because of the air-traffic shut-down, but with travel
southerly route via Helsinki, and all prepared to divert to fly in the   chaos spreading world-wide it is unlikely to be the last, unless the
opposite direction, via America, if necessary.                           crisis is rapidly resolved.
  In the event, there were no hitches, with the first plane landing as      The postponement means that the first European round, the
scheduled at Seville on Monday, the other two expected on Tuesday.       Spanish GP at Jerez on May 2, becomes the second round.
  MotoGP travels with 270 tons of equipment in 600 cases. More              But the 18-race scheduled will be maintained, with the Motegi
than 100 bikes and associated team gear account for 180 tonnes,          event now scheduled for the weekend before the Malaysian GP.
Dorna’s TV gear another 50 tons. The rest includes advertising              This is followed a week later by the Australian round, meaning a
material, timing equipment and the BMW service cars and bikes.           gruelling schedule of three back-to-back flyaways at a time of the
   end that the event was off, and would be rescheduled in               season when titles are likely to be resolved.

                                                                                                                                           1
>> Moto GP news
     extended break gives riders a helping hand
     SEVERAL riders were             of extra recovery time.           motocross bike the week          in the motocross fall but my
     grateful for the extra week      “For me it was quite lucky       before, and while nothing        shoulder was quite sore so
     of idleness afforded by the     to have this extra week,” the     was broken, there was a          it was good to give it more
     cancellation of the trip to     Qatar GP winner said.             question mark over his           time to recover. I don't know
     Japan, with Rossi leading         He had wrenched his             fitness for the Japanese GP.     yet how much it will affect
     the way among those glad        shoulder falling from a             "I didn't hurt myself badly    me this weekend, I hope not
                                                                                                        too much,” said Rossi.
                                                                                                           Team-mate Jorge Lorenzo,
                                                                                                        recuperating from his own
                                                                                                        minibike crash that fractured
                                                                                                        bones in his right wrist, was
                                                                                                        also happy for the time
                                                                                                        bonus. He overcame pain
                                                                                                        and weakness at Qatar to
                                                                                                        finish second, but had been
                                                                                                        concerned about the effects
                                                                                                        of the repeated hard braking
                                                                                                        at Motegi.
                                                                                                           Now he was full of
                                                                                                        confidence for Jerez. “It has
                                                                                                        always been a good track for
                                                                                                        me,” he said.
                                                                                                           Moto2 favourite Toni Elias
                                                                                                        also enjoyed the recovery
                                                                                                        time, after dropping back
                                                                                                        from the early lead in the
                                                                                                        opening Moto2 round at
                                                                                                        Jerez due to hand and ankle
                                                                                                        injuries sustained in testing.




Pressure is on                                                           Proposals for 1000cc machines with a maximum bore size (to
                                                                      limit revs) became complicated when some factories proposed to



manufacturers
                                                                      continue running the current 800cc prototypes alongside them;
                                                                      while Dorna’s proposal for a third tier of ‘claiming-rule’ private
                                                                      teams using production-based engines muddied the waters still



for crucial
                                                                      further.
                                                                        “And ideal scenario would be if BMW or perhaps Aprilia decided
                                                                      to supply these teams with engines,” said Butler. They had already



Jerez meeting
                                                                      proved, with Team Gresini and Tech 3, they were capable of
                                                                      commissioning special prototype chassis.
                                                                         But there had also been some opposition from within the
                                                                      MSMA, to block factories from involvement in this third low-
                                                                      budget level.
THE GP Commission will meet at Jerez on the Saturday, with              “It all contributes to and progresses the debate,” said Butler.
the proposed 1000cc MotoGP shift at the top of the agenda,               But decisions would need to be made sooner rather than later,
and Dorna, FIM and IRTA delegates agog to hear what the               he added.
factories’ association, the MSMA, will be proposing.                     The factories had recognised that building up grid numbers
   The 800cc sanction expires at the end of the 2011 season, and      was crucial, and had been given plenty of chance to find a way to
with Dorna pushing ahead with proposals to introduce a second-        provide satellite teams with engines under the current rules, said
tier budget level for so-called “claiming rule teams”, time is        Butler.
running short for decisions. Matters need to be settled before the       This had proved impossible, with costs for lease 800cc engines
end of 2010, if not sooner, to give designers and engineers time      little less than those for a whole motorcycle.
to prepare.                                                             “The solution needs to be sustainable. Nobody thinks these
  “The pressure is on the MSMA to take a clear position,” said race   teams will win the championship, but they can provide a viable
director Paul Butler, who added:                                      sponsorship package.”
  “We haven’t heard anything about their deliberations until now.”
1
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                                                                     1
             5 MINUTES WITH ...

                         NICO HULKENBERG
The latest German wunderkind has only met Michael Schumacher fleetingly
even though they share a manager; he’s good at coming up with naughty
nicknames; and he learnt to drive behind the wheel of a forklift.
                                Nico Hulkenberg talks to Adam Hay-Nicholls
How are you finding F1 so far? Is it
harder, easier, or as you expected?
  It’s basically as I expected. It’s a tough
environment, which I knew before,
and I love the challenge. If it was easy
everyone could do it, and it would be
boring.

What’s been the best moment of the
season so far? Congratulations on your
point in Malaysia, by the way…
  Well that point was more a present
from Ferrari, when Alonso’s engine blew
two laps from the end.
  Apart from that, qualifying in Malaysia
was very good. P5 in the wet. I was very
happy with that.
                                               should I stop or do I carry on with another    What was your best subject at school?
Have you gleaned much advice from              driver. He decided to do it again, and got      Geography. I love travel, you see. I
Rubens Barrichello, or have you just           in touch with me.                              particularly like New Zealand.
been making fun of his bald spot?                We got together. He was running the
  Ha, no. We have a good relationship as       A1 Team Germany back then. He gave me          What’s your dream car?
team mates and work well together.             a test and then invited me to do the first       There are a few I really like. The Aston
   I respect him, I think he respects me,      race. That’s kind of how it went, and then     Martin DB9 Volante, the BMW M3. Both
but still we’re pushing each other hard.       we had a contract.                             are great cars. It’s difficult to choose one.
We want to beat each other.
  Sure, there are many things I can learn      The GP2 Series is about to fire up again.      What does your dad do?
from him, but he’s not coming to me to         You’re the reigning champion. Who do              He runs a truck company transporting
give me advice. Yet by seeing him work         you think is going to be competitive this      tiles and things backwards and forwards
and listening to him talk I am able to pick    year?                                          between Germany, Holland and Italy.
up things which I can use for myself.             Hopefully my ART boys. Jules Bianchi        I used to help him out in the factory
                                               is a very quick driver. Pastor [Maldonado]     driving the forklifts, unloading the trucks
Do you have much interaction with              will be good too, but he’s under pressure      and stuff.
Michael Schumacher, given that you             because he’s been there so long. But
share the same manager?                        don’t underestimate him – he’s going to        Who would be your three dream dinner
  No, not at all. I’ve only met Michael a      be quick. Christian Vietoris looks good,       guests?
couple of times before, and very briefly.      another German driver.                           Roger Federer, Angela Merkel and
There’s no friendship or anything like that.                                                  Johnny Depp
                                               Doesn’t everyone call him ‘Clitoris’?
Who’s your hero?                                Yes, I gave him that nickname!                Indy 500 or Le Mans 24 Hours?
 Um… I have no real hero.                                                                       Le Mans. I don’t see the point of going
                                               Do you have any interests outside of           around an oval all the time.
How did you first meet your manager,           racing?
Willi Weber?                                      Yes, tennis. I love tennis. I started       Wet race or dry race?
  It was at the end of 2006. It was just       playing about one and a half years ago.          Wet race because many things can
as Michael was stopping, and Willi was         I just play for fun, I’m not a professional.   happen, it’s easier to overtake and it’s
asking himself the same question –             It’s good for hand/eye coordination.           more down to the driver.
1
>> ‘MOTO CHAT




            17
          Email us
                                                                                                The Volc
                                                                  aDaM




                                                 opinion
          Something to say?
          Email us at                                             haY-
          mail@gpweek.com
                                                                  NIchollS
                                                                  GPWeek Editor
 Some rules for one ...
 How is it that Mclaren seems to be above        Okay, okay, I know you’re sick of hearing      car, bus, ferry and, for one journalist who
 the rules? Lewis appears to be able to          about the volcano – those of you who           went via Croatia, a donkey no doubt.
 drive around with his elbows out doing          were affected are still having sleepless          We kept track of each other’s progress on
 whatever is necessary to get to the front       nights and those who weren’t don’t give        Twitter, following the #volcanicGP feed.
 without a care as to who falls victim to        a monkeys – but the volcano is all anyone         Some teams organized charter flights,
 his antics – i.e. Vettel in the pits, Webber    in F1 has been talking about, and that’s       while other individuals went on more
 on the restart, weaving in Malaysia.            because it was the greatest race of the        circuitous routes: some went east, camping
    Every other driver seems to be able to       year.                                          out in Toronto and New York and waiting for
 find a better way past but Lewis.                  Even better than China and Australia.       the ash cloud to lift. Others went via Dubai,
   As for Jenson Butterwouldntmelt,              Even better than Dijon ’79.                    Helsinki, Moscow, Rome and Frankfurt and
 stalling the entire field at the hairpin in       This was a race with a real prize – own      took rental cars and trains. One Portuguese
 those conditions was reckless as pointed        beds, rarely-seen children, home-cooked        journalist got home via Kuala Lumpur,
 out by the BBC commentators – rule              meals, a shower – not just some sparkly        Bahrain, Cairo, Casablanca and Porto. He
 number 40.01 or something.                      object d’art and a bottle of bubby.            reached home on Wednesday.
    I guess we will have to wait and watch          It was a race tens of thousands of             Ross Brawn and Sam Michael managed
 this space.                                     kilometres and several days long. A century    to get themselves to Europe on Monday
                                  Warren Furze   ago, adventurers and daredevils gave up on     ahead of everyone, where a car met them
                  warren.furze@bigpond.com       ice picks and tall ships and started driving   in Nice and took them back to the UK. Many
                                                 across Europe into Asia in their 20mph         of the drivers – Alonso, Massa, Kubica, De
 Performance parity in WRC?                      mechanical beasts.                             La Rosa, Buemi, Fisichella and Liuzzi – were
 The progress of the 2010 World Rally              The Peking-Paris rally was punishing as      on the next Emirates flight into the Cote
 Championship (enjoy your coverage) –            was, for many, the Shanghai-Paris/London/      d’Azur, all bunched up in Economy, so I’m
 as for 2009 and before – leads to one           Brackley/Maranello rally of last week.         told. Apparently they all treated it as a good
 obvious conclusion; that the Citroen has          The 1000 or so people who were in            laugh, which is heartening.
 adistinct performance advantage over            the paddock in China began journeys on           A lucky few from the BBC got to Frankfurt
 all-comers, which includes Ford.                Sunday night that took them by plane, train,   Tuesday and then drove the seven hours to
   Hirvonen and Latvala aren't untalented




                                                  Too Little, Too
– they are just having to over-drive to
 compensate for the (albeit modest)
 shortcomings of their car.
   In order to provide more compelling
 events (other than Loeb winning unless
 some misfortune befalls him), is it not
 time for rallying to consider some form
 of peformance equalisation before fans                                                          so far this year – just one race completed,
                                                   opinion




 start yawning?                                                                                  to four Superbike and four for Formula
   Rallying is the most compelling, and
 scenic, form of motorsport – and well
                                                                   MIchaEl                       One. The soft-core fans, the vast bulk of
                                                                                                 the TV audience, may by now have found
 covered on TV – but the same winner all                           Scott                         a different reaction to the somnolent
                                                                                                 series.
 the time can start to be a turn-off.                              MotoGP Editor
                         Michael Harrington                                                        They may have lost interest.
                                  Leeds, UK         Another exciting weekend of World              Okay, it wasn’t Dorna’s fault that a few
                                                    Superbike racing gave bike racing fans       particles of volcanic ash put the whole
 Weak link?                                         something to keep them entertained           European air traffic management into
 If you count up the number of tactical             on Sunday. Good close fights at a classic    a state of mad panic, in the process
 errors originating from the pit wall               circuit; different manufacturers all in      scuppering the second round, the
 this year, it is not hard to understand            the thick of it; a title battle beginning    Japanese race at Motegi.
 why both Red Bull F1 drivers might be              to take some shape; BMW getting up to          But it served to highlight a major
 wondering what next! Up your game                  speed...                                     shortcoming in Dorna’s management
 team – otherwisde you could throw                    And just as well, too. Hard-core MotoGP    of the sport. The Spanish company has
 away a championship.                               fans may have been suffering withdrawal      confounded its critics in many areas:
                               Roger T Saintly      symptoms at the lack of grand prix action    the TV show is world-leadingly good,
                Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

1
                                                                                          >> GPWEEK OPINION


canic GP
 Calais, squeezing on as foot passengers. A
 lot of the broadcaster’s massive crew are still
 stuck in Shanghai as I write this (Saturday),
 though, desperate to find a way out.
    Shanghai isn’t the most popular place on
 the calendar so others crept into other parts
 of Asia – and in certainly one case regretted
 it: Two media members were caught in
 Vietnam without a visa between them and
 were thrown in a cell for 13 hours.
    Another befell bad luck when he went to
 Shanghai’s Hongqiao airport rather than            And the winner is ... Bernie! F1's boss got home fastest of all – apparently using a
 Hangzhou. You can see how that happened.           propeller-driven plane, at low altitude, for the last leg ... Despite sucking up big-time,
     Meanwhile even Bernie Ecclestone was           there wasn't room for Fernando on Bernie's jet ....
 unable to alleviate the red tape encountered
 when FOM tried to get a charter into                But they didn’t beat Bernie. He was at his    to my homies in Vietnamise prisons and
 Shanghai and take their crew back.                desk in Knightsbridge on Monday, business       waiting lounges the world over, but –
    Christian Horner and Mark Webber made          as usual. How did he do it? Teleportation?      jammy sod that I am – I was able to make it
 what they called “a five-stop strategy” where,    A pipeline to the west, like in The Living      home to Paris on Tuesday evening and – get
 on the penultimate Nice-Glasgow leg on            Daylights? Houdini never revealed his tricks    this – without having to make any changes
 Tuesday, a friend of mine gave them a lift in     and nor does The Bolt. The 79 year-old          to my itinerary at all. Thanks Zeus, god of the
 his private jet. They got back to Oxfordshire     becomes the first winner of the Volcanic        skies. Oh, and Emirates.
 at 4pm, and narrowly missed out on the            Grand Prix – which I’m guessing (for I’m no       I don’t propose it’s a race we should run
 team boss/driver race. I gather that was won      expert on geology) will be a sporadic thing.    every fortnight, but it was a memorable
 by Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher,             Like the United States Grand Prix.              adventure for most and, I think, should
 respectively.                                       As for the media race, heartfelt support      count as Round 5 of the championship.




Late
 rule changes seem to be bearing fruit (at least in
 Moto2), and with the help of Rossi the status of
                                                           Maybe in the process he is failing to accord due
                                                         respect to Superbikes. Okay, MotoGP reject James
 bike GP racing has risen vastly under Dorna’s care.     Toseland was twice on the rostrum at Assen, which
   The calendar, and most especially this year’s         gives a measure of the relative strength of the
 calendar, is all the more significant a shortcoming.    competition in both series.
   Short being the operative word, at least in terms       But the bloke on the sofa doesn’t care about
 of getting things going.                                that.
   Perhaps it is something Spanish. In the pace            Dorna need a major shake-up here. There are
 of the day, they are as a nation slow starters, still   currently too many races in Spain (four, plus
 much given to a mid-day siesta, getting going           another over the hills in Portugal), not enough in
 thereafter to work on into the cool of the night.       developing countries, the flyaway schedule is too
   Hence the tendency towards dinners that start         punishing, we should go back to Istanbul, and at
 at 10pm, and go on long after midnight.                 least one race needs to be moved – the Australian
   Or maybe it’s just circumstances. Dorna’s             GP should be late in the Australian summer near
 Ezpeleta doesn’t officially pay any mind to the         the start of the year, rather than six months later,
 World Superbike calendar, but he has to wriggle         as the bad weather of winter is setting in.
 and squeeze to avoid clashes with F-1, which he           Above all, the season needs to get going. Soon.
 sees as the main TV rival.                              Please. Before Superbikes have taken all the             Dorna's Carmelo Ezpeleta


                                                                                                                                                 19
                                                       ahead of the season.
     Michael Schumacher played down expectations
                                                                    four races in,
                                a few races to get up to speed. But
      He said it would take him
                                                     his team-mate in each.
     he’s been passed by rookies and annihilated by
      Adam Hay-Nicholls looks at what’s going wrong in the number three car.


0
>> F1 FEATURE




            21
C
            oming back after a 40-month-         Michael to drive around problems like this.
            long sabbatical, it was                “He can drive around any imbalance,”
            always going to take Michael         said Ross Brawn in James Allen’s 2007
            Schumacher a few races to            book ‘Michael Schumacher: The Edge of
get up to speed. Michael was adamant             Greatness’.
everything was going according to                  “This is also a weakness because it makes
plan despite lapping long way off Nico           the difference between a good car and an
Rosberg’s pace during the first three            average car less discernible in testing and
weekends. Michael was chirpy and                 you can easily misread how competitive
relaxed. It was a bit disconcerting. Then        a car really is.” Well, the W01 looks
China happened, and Michael’s smile              competitive in Rosberg’s hands, not so in
became a grimace. It was, he said, a             Schumi’s. Are those the wrinkles of doubt
weekend to forget. So what went wrong            across the engineer’s forehead?
and why?                                            Schumacher had raced on grooved tyres
   In China, Michael was struggling for          for nine years before coming back to slicks
traction on the exit of slow speed corners.      this season. All the other drivers were
This was due to a combination of low front       forced to adapt to that rule change at the
downforce, how the W01 mismanages its            start of 2009, but they did so together. Nico
tyres, and bad balance.                          has an extra year’s worth of tyre knowledge
   Mercedes GP boss Ross Brawn has               over Schumi, who raced very different slicks
confirmed that the team under-reacted to         from 1991-1997.




                                                                                                 T
the new-for-2010 narrower tyres and, as a           Also the specific set of circumstances of
result, the car naturally understeers:           the conditions in Shanghai exacerbated                 hat old chestnut about fitting F1 tracks
  “New regulations have made the front           Schumacher’s problem.                                  with sprinkler systems is starting to
tyres narrower, which means you need to             He chose the soft tyre early in the                 gain credence because, as has been so
generate more downforce at the front than        race after he’d corrected the mistake of               illustrative this season, rain acts as a cat
before. Michael needs to be able to lean         switching to intermediates. Most drivers        among pigeons and, once again, it was Jenson
heavily on the front of the car to make his      who made that same choice at that point         Button who read the conditions right.
driving style work.”                             found that their car understeered and             On lap two, most cars poured into the pitlane
   The weight distribution is also wrong. The    the left front grained badly, which was         for intermediate tyres, while Jenson stayed out.
team has brought weight as far forward           particularly bad for those with a dry set-up.   Three laps later, Button’s strategy was proved
in the car as they can, in order to work the     It played very badly for Schumacher.            correct as the drivers on inters – which included
front tyres harder, but this means the rear         Mercedes will be bringing a host of          pole man Sebastian Vettel plus Mark Webber,
slides around a lot, eating the rear rubber      updates to Barcelona including a longer         Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton - struggled
and preventing the necessary traction.           wheelbase chassis. This should cancel out       on the drying track and had to come in again.
   Nico Rosberg found this too. Tyre             the balance problem. It will be tailored to      “Staying out on the dries was the right thing,”
degradation forced him off the circuit at        Michael’s driving style. Rosberg might have     said Button.
one point, yielding the lead to Jenson           seen that coming, but it hasn’t dented his       “You wouldn’t know it at some corners – every
Button. But the 24 year-old was still able       confidence: “I have quite a strong position     corner was an adventure”. The reigning champion
to drag it to P3 – his second podium in          now in the team which is really nice, so        had been fifth on the grid, and was now staring
succession. Michael limped across the line       that’s why I have quite high hopes for          at victory – one he would hail as the best of his
in tenth.                                        what’s to come,” said Nico in China’s post      nine career wins.
  “It’s not the difficult corners, but the       race press conference, having denied he’s
technically simple ones [where Michael           now the team’s number one driver.
is struggling]. Until now he has been              “From the beginning everybody saw
getting closer and closer to Nico, so what       Michael was number one and me number
happened in China is totally against the         two. It’s even. We both get the same
trend,” said Brawn. Mercedes’ vice president     possibilities, but of course I’m very, very
of motorsport, Norbert Haug, suspected a         happy with the way it’s going for me.”
chassis flaw on the number three car. Surely        Rosberg says he’s comfortable being
Schumi couldn’t be that slow.                    Michael’s team mate now, despite having
  “Give us a chance to look at that [theory]     reservations at the beginning. That’s just
and we can come up with a good                   another way of saying Michael is no longer
explanation,” he said.                           a threat: “People have the wrong opinion
   The car is far from perfect in Nico’s eyes,   of Michael. I thought that it wouldn’t be
but it suits his style better than Michael’s.    a good thing to have him as team-mate
That happens between team mates                  but instead, I’m pleasantly surprised about
sometimes. It happened between Button            it”. In deference to the seven times world
and Rubens Barrichello at Brawn when the         champion, though, he told La Gazzetta
Brazilian couldn’t get on top of the brakes.     dello Sport:
But, based on his track record, we expected        “I’m happy to be ahead of him, but


>> F1 FEATURE




            2
I don’t know how long it will last”. That may     Mercedes but there are already question           Such was the hype surrounding
be answered by how Rosberg finds the              marks as to whether he’ll see that out.         Schumacher’s return, expectations were
long wheelbase car next weekend.                  Haug reckons the team will be on top next       impossibly high and now the knives are
   Perhaps Nico has gained more from              year thanks to the headcount restrictions       out. It seems those of us on the sidelines
Schumacher’s return that anybody. “He             they’re already adhering to and which will      prize Schumacher’s legacy more greatly
stimulates everybody, including Nico. To          come online at McLaren, Ferrari and Red         that the man himself. “All he’s going to do is
work together with him and to profit from         Bull Racing over the winter. Mercedes’ rivals   damage what his achievements have been,”
his experience can only be positive,” says        will have to shed up to half their workforce    Sir Stirling Moss told GP Week over the
Norbert Haug.                                     and that will be painful, emotionally and       phone last week. “People are going to say
   Bernie Ecclestone has attempted to             competitively.                                  he’s passed it now, which he probably has. I
answer the question of why Rosberg is so             It could be that Michael is already          can’t understand why he’s come back.”
much faster than Schumacher.                      looking to 2011, when McLaren is missing           Boredom maybe. Missing the rush. And
  “Nico is very talented and Michael was on       Mercedes’ money and all the big teams are       because no other driver would be invited
holiday for three years. Ask me the same          downsizing. Buying into Brawn, which had        back after three whole years, in his forties,
question after another two races. At the          already gone through that process, was          by a top team except Michael Schumacher.
moment I would say, don’t underestimate           fundamental to Mercedes’ strategy.              He looks as fit as ever, but have his
Michael. Give him time to adapt to the              “At the moment we don’t have the best         advancing years dulled his reactions and
new car and the new tyres. At the moment          performing car on the grid,” concedes Haug.     relaxed his hunger to beat everyone else?
he’s something of a newbie who has to get        “We have known that fact since the first day      “Maybe he has lost his feeling for driving
accustomed to the trade again. Michael            of testing, but we are in good shape for        during the three years of his retirement,”
would have never returned had he not              the future. Other teams are still working       says Jos Verstappen who partnered Michael
been convinced that he can do the job. He         with double the headcount that we do.           at Benetton in 1994.
is not a tourist in the paddock - he’s here to    This should not sound like an excuse but         “What we are now seeing is that
win. And he will win again.”                      rather an explanation. We will definitely be    Schumacher is an ordinary man of flesh
   Michael has a three year contract with         fighting for victories soon.”                   and blood and that even he cannot




                                     “It’s tempting to draw a comparison between
                                      Michael Schumacher and Sir Paul McCartney ...





                                                                                                 >> F1 FEATURE




 conduct magic.”                                      “Or David Bowie or Lou Reed. Charlie
   “I believe in his abilities,” said another ex-   Nicholas, David Niven, Malcolm McLaren,
 team mate, Martin Brundle.                         Elvis Presley…”
   “I think he needs more time. If I was               It’s tempting to draw a comparison
 seeing the same results in September then          between Michael Schumacher and Sir Paul
 I would be worried. The fact that there            McCartney. Macca is the world’s greatest
 is no testing is difficult for him,” added         living songwriter, just as Michael is the
 Brundle, who insists he has seen “the old          greatest living driver. It doesn’t mean
 Schumacher magic once or twice” this year          he’s actually STILL the greatest, but he’s
 in practice sessions.                              got the greatest back catalogue without
    Martin is right. Let’s see how he does          question.
 with the new car, on a circuit he’s lapped            The trouble is, McCartney hasn’t
 thousands of times before – Shanghai was           written a really good song that got
 never his favourite track, but he’s won on         everyone excited since Live and Let Die,
 the Circuit de Catalunya no less than six          and that was in 1973.
 times.                                                When Michael left Ferrari he left The
    But it’s also true that what goes up            Beatles. Mercedes is Wings. Let’s see
 must come down, and despite taking a               if next week’s Spanish Grand Prix is a
 rest which he said would energise him to           Live and Let Die, or just another Mull of
 further victories, perhaps Michael’s star has      Kintyre.
 been falling since Fernando Alonso first              Renton: “So we get old, we cannae
 beat him in 2005.                                  hack it any more and that’s it?”
   “At one point you’ve got it, then you               Sick Boy: “Yeah.”
 lose it. Then it’s gone forever. All walks of         Renton: “That’s your theory?”
 life,” pronounces Sick Boy in Trainspotting.          Sick Boy: “Yeah. Beautifully f***ing
“Georgie Best, for example, had it – lost it.       illustrated.”

                                                                                                             2

                           >> Moto GP FEATURE




When nature
  – and man –
       intervenes
       This week isn’t the first time that Mother Nature
       has cancelled – or delayed – MotoGP events.
       MICHAEL SCOTT reflects on rain, snow, war and
       now volcanoes …




                                                           27
V
          OLCANIC activity is by far the most      of there was fog on the mountain, but not        cam, for it is a mini-Matterhorn), and the
          dramatic reason for a grand prix         often.                                           upland meadows of the Sound of Music.
          to be scuppered. Usually (not that          It’s still like that, but running races as    The Salzburgring was (and still is) also
          it a very usual occurrence) it is for    scheduled is nowadays a lot harder to            terrifyingly dangerous.
more prosaic reasons. The weather.                 achieve. The first problem was slick tyres,        But it must have looked spectacularly
   GP racing has always prided itself on the       coming into racing in the late 1970s:            peaceful when the GP circus rolled into
fact that races take place whatever the            these rendered dry-shod bikes effectively        town for the GP, in late April... for it was
weather. America may have had the habit            unrideable if it suddenly rained. The second     under a carpet of more than a metre of fresh
of staying in the pits when it rained ... but      was TV. Where before a race might be             snow, with more in the offing. One observer
there were reasons for that: one being that        delayed for 30 minutes or more to let a          recalls future 250 superstar Carlos Lavado, in
US racing was rooted in dirt-track ovals and       cloudburst pass, it was no longer possible.      his first full season, gambolling around the
TT courses, which could become unusable              The struggle to find a formula to run flag-    paddock. The Venezuelan had never seen
when wet. And the weather was generally            to-flag races took years and several blind       snow before.
better, too.                                       alleys before today’s bike-swap system was         Anyway, the race was off and was
   Nor were there set TV schedules and             introduced. But that’s another topic. What       not replaced. In fact it was the second
expensive broadcast-satellite slots to worry       about the races that didn’t happen at all,       cancellation, because round one in
about.                                             because of the weather.                          Venezuela had also been called off, although
   This last was true also of GP racing for its      Surprisingly, a troll through history can      this time well in advance, after a general
first 25 years or so, but no matter: real racing   find only one. The Austrian GP of 1980.          collapse of the already sketchy organisation.
took place in real world conditions. Come            This was at the Salzburgring, a blindingly     As in 2010, the season got off to a late start
rain come shine, the circus was in town,           fast track running up each side of a narrow      that year.
and would perform on schedule. TT races            Alpine valley. Scenically, it was spectacular,     The only other such last-minute
were sometimes postponed for a few days            overlooked by the Knockstein (after a            actual cancellation, also because of the


                                                                                      >> Moto GP FEATURE




intervention of freak weather, was only         full result) the race was called off, and riders   He had crashed out of the third leg.
last year. The desert of Qatar produced out     thankfully fought their way through the              There have been works-rider walkouts
of nowhere a flooding storm right as the        storm and back to the pits.                        before races began – those in Belgium in
MotoGP grid formed up. It was already late        In 1995, a monsoon struck early in the           1979 and at Nogaro in France 1982 stand
at night, and it only took a couple of hours    125 race at Shah Alam in Malaysia – a track        out, if only for having privateer winners –
for the event to be called off. But it was      where existing problems included cobras            New Zealander Dennis Ireland and France’s
almost immediately rescheduled for the          and giant monitor lizards (Max Biaggi called       Michel Frutschi respectively. They came at a
next day, so it hardly counts.                  them “crocodiles”). They slithered around for      time of rider rebellion. Another start-line sit-
   But there have been countless occasions      a bit, barely visible with the giant raindrops     in at Assen in the 1950s indirectly cost Geoff
when the weather has played mayhem,             bouncing off the track, before the race was        Duke another World Championship.
causing races to be curtailed, although         stopped. It was Australian Garry McCoy’s first       And even a mid-race mass withdrawal –
never actually abandoned.                       GP win, but with only 12 laps run it meant         the factory riders pulled out en masse when
  As recently as 2008. The inaugural            only half points.                                  rain hit at Misano in 1989.
Indianapolis GP was hit by Hurricane Ike.         There were half points also for another            Clouds of war have shadowed but not
Under lowering clouds and freshening            extraordinary race – the 500cc Belgian GP of       cancelled other events. The 1939 TT was
winds, the MotoGP race was already under        1989. The race was interrupted by rain, twice,     run with international tension building in
way, when vicious winds and lashing rain        and restarted twice. Afterwards, the FIM           the run up to World War Two, which began
struck. Conditions became increasingly          Stewards overruled the Clerk of the Course         in earnest within three months. And the
dangerous, with advertising hoardings           (one Claude Danis, now FIM delegate to the         Argentine GP of 1982 was won by Kenny
flapping, and at one stage a whole              GP Commission) and declared the second             Roberts just four days before the start of the
concession stall threatening to blow across     restart invalid – a decision still disputed to     Falklands War.
the track. After 20 of 28 laps (more than two   this day. The decision had a profound effect:        Some things are even more dramatic than
thirds, and therefore enough to count as a      Kevin Schwantz, for example, came second.          volcanoes.

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                                        >> GPWEEK PArting Shot




Gone from Formula , but not (yet) forgotten: after a number of early shunts and DNF’s former Ferrari F1 driver
             Kimi Raikkonen – here on his way to fifth in Turkey – is putting some WRC points on the board.
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