IMS Malaysian Grand Prix postscript

2006 MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX POSTSCRIPT Toro Rosso boss cautions against points expectations; Villeneuve scores for BMW INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, March 21, 2006 - Californian Scott Speed gained more valuable Formula One experience even though he...

2006 MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX POSTSCRIPT
Toro Rosso boss cautions against points expectations; Villeneuve scores for BMW

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, March 21, 2006 - Californian Scott Speed gained more valuable Formula One experience even though he didn't quite make it to the end of the Malaysian Grand Prix on March 19. A clutch lever problem ended his race 14 laps from the finish while he was running in 11th place.

Afterward, Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost cautioned fans not to expect Speed and teammate Tonio Liuzzi to have too many finishes in the points this year. Toro Rosso is a small team taking on some very stiff competition in this 18-race season that includes the United States Grand Prix on July 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"If Tonio had not had an accident and had to pit after the opening lap," Tost said, "I think he could have maybe finished a couple of places higher up than 11th. Scott did not finish because of what looks like a failure with the clutch lever on the steering wheel.

"What we learned from this weekend is that if the works teams sort out their problems, we will struggle to finish in the top 12. So it will be very difficult to pick up points this season. We have to up our game and do a really good job, especially in qualifying, because if we get into the top 10 on the grid, we might bring home some points."

Speed left Malaysia on March 20 and headed to Cairns, a town on the northeast corner of Australia and close to the Great Barrier Reef. The plan is to get in some hot-weather training before the Australian Grand Prix on April 2.

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BMW encouraged: 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve finished seventh in Malaysia to earn the first points for the former Sauber team now owned by BMW. His teammate, Nick Heidfeld, retired with an engine failure.

"The performance was good," BMW Sauber Team Principal Dr. Mario Theissen said. "Both cars were quick. Both cars could stick with the front train of the race. That was positive. It was also positive that we earned the first two points with the new team.

"I'm disappointed about the engine failure with Nick's car. He almost completed the two race weekends with the same engine, and it would have been good to disassemble an engine after two races to see where we are."

***

Testing agreement: The 11 F1 teams have agreed to limit their testing during the season to 36 days.

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Podium visit: Renault team boss Flavio Briatore nominated Giancarlo Fisichella's race engineer, Alan Permane, to attend podium ceremonies after the Malaysian Grand Prix and collect the trophy for the winning constructor.

"What a feeling!" Permane said afterward. "During the last lap, Flavio came on the radio and told me I would be going up if Fisi won. It was a great feeling to see the team down below, the anthems, the trophies, and then the drivers soaking me in champagne! Fisi did a fantastic job, and it's brilliant to see him bounce back like this. He will be dying to get to Melbourne, and I know he's going to be a force to be reckoned with."

Permane's nickname is "Bat" because when he started at the team he worked such long hours that they were convinced he only came out at night.

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Toyota turnaround: After struggling in the season opener in Bahrain because its cars could not generate enough heat in the tires, the Panasonic Toyota team performed better in Malaysia where Ralf Schumacher started from the back of the field and finished eighth.

"If we had planned a three-stop strategy, we could have qualified Ralf third or fourth and we could have been racing for a podium today," chassis technical director Mike Gascoyne said after the race. "That's all ifs, so we have to do it. Our race pace is close to Ferrari's."

The team is closing in on a solution for its tire problems, Gascoyne said.

"We now understand it, and we will try and stay on top of it," he said.

***

No easing off for Renault: Mild Seven Renault may have won the first two races of the season, but the team is not easing off.

"Nobody in the team is resting on their laurels," said executive director of engineering Pat Symonds, "and we know we have a fight on our hands. There were half a dozen new components on the car for the Malaysian race, and there will be more aero developments for Melbourne in two weeks time. We are pushing flat-out to continue improving our level of performance."

***

Next event: The next race on the schedule is the Australian Grand Prix on April 2. The United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, round 10 of 18, is scheduled for July 2.

***

2006 USGP tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 2006 United States Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday, July 2.

Fans can order tickets online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or at the ticket office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.

Hours for phone orders and the ticket office are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday, while online orders can be made at any time.

-ims-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Ralf Schumacher , Jacques Villeneuve , Nick Heidfeld , Scott Speed , Flavio Briatore , Mike Gascoyne , Mario Theissen
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , Toro Rosso