F1 gossip column
Hola chicas y chicos, it's your favourite furry friend on the inside of all things F1 here.
Following another splendid weekend's racing in Spain - and another victory for Brawn GP's Frome Flyer Jenson Button - I've been digging around for all the latest and greatest gossip from on and off the track ahead of the next Grand Prix in Monaco.
I'm talking Donington, budget caps, team orders, team ambitions and an 11,000-strong workforce sweating like mad under the Abu Dhabi sun hoping to get the Yas Marina circuit completed in time for the season send-off on 1 November.
Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One commercial rights-holder, is prepared to cancel the British Grand Prix for one year if the revamp of Donington Park, in Leicestershire, is not completed in time for 2010. (The Times)
Meanwhile, Ecclestone insists the prospects of there being a two-tier championship in 2010 thanks to his proposed £40m budget cap, with cars running under two sets of technical rules, is "slowly disappearing". He believes that the £40 million figure is right and is confident that all the present teams, including Ferrari, will accept the rules - especially as he has now assured teams outside accountants will not be granted access to their books. "Ferrari are not stupid," he added. "They don't want to leave Formula One and we don't want to lose them, so we'll get to grips with it." (The Times)
Despite Ecclestone's confidence, though, Red Bull have become the first independent team to announce that they will not enter the 2010 F1 championship unless the proposed two-tier system is scrapped. The Formula 1 Teams Association will sit down with FIA president Max Mosley some time before next week's race in Monaco to try to thrash out a compromise. (Telegraph/Various)
Brawn GP boss Ross Brawn believes the race for the championship is already a two-horse race between his team and Red Bull. "Other teams will come and go, but in terms of the championship and long term Red Bull are very strong. They have designer Adrian Newey, a good group of people and good drivers. It looks as if they are the main challengers." (Mirror/Various)
However, Brawn GP's insistence that they do not favour Button over team-mate Rubens Barrichello has been cast in a new light by computer analysis. Although Barrichello's three-stop strategy gives a "one second" advantage - leading Button to describe it as the "optimum policy in Spain" - that surmation fails to take into account random factors such as traffic and safety cars periods. "Few teams would gamble victory on such slender margins", says correspondent Jonathan McEvoy. (Daily Mail)
BMW Sauber team principal Mario Theissen insists his team are "back in business" this season with their revised car, following Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica's respective seventh and 11th-place finishes at the Circuit de Catalunya. (www.F1.com)
And McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has vowed to provide Lewis Hamilton with a more competitive car in Monaco after the Briton's clear frustration following the Spanish GP. "I said that [Spain would be our nadir] and I truly believe - and hope - it is the case," he said. "Monaco is going to be different and we are going to be strong. It is a circuit that will suit us and Lewis is mega there. We still have loads of work - it's not going to be magic, but we are definitely going to be stronger there." (www.crash.net)
Meanwhile, the FIA will look at the incident at the Spanish GP when a fan blacked up to look like Lewis Hamilton, but it is likely to be seen as one idiot among 100,000 with no action taken. (Daily Express)
Finally, Douglas MacAskill, the deputy director of the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, which will host the final race of the 2009 season, insists the track will be completed on time despite reports suggesting the build had fallen behind schedule. A work force of over 11,000 have been brought on board, with MacAskill aiming to hand the completed circuit over to the FIA, at the latest, 60 days before the 1 November race. "We are working 24 hours a day and everything will be ready on time, I have no doubt about that," said the Canadian. (www.supersport.com)