On-track activity may be suspended until the testing ban lifts at the end of this month but wheeling and dealing is ongoing in the quiet period. It seems that the dispute between the FIA and the Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association (GPMA) is due to be resolved for once and for all, with an agreement reached between the concerned parties in regard to the sport's financial and technical future.
For a long time there was the threat of the GPMA forming a rival series from 2008, when the current Concorde Agreement comes to an end, but slowly progress was made in resolving the disputes. According to the Financial Times, now FIA President Max Mosley and GPMA Chairman Burkhard Goeschel have said all the issues have been cleared up and a new Concorde Agreement is soon to be drawn up for the next five years.
Meanwhile, Renault is reorganising its technical department with executive engineering director Pat Symonds due to change some of his responsibilities. Although Symonds will reportedly still attend races and be involved in decision-making, Alan Permane, previously Ginacarlo Fisichella's race engineer, will step up to the role chief race engineer and will supervise both race cars.
Denis Chevrier, Renault's engine chief, will oversee trackside operations for both Renault and Red Bull, which will run Renault engines next year, and Fabrice Lom, formerly Fisichella's engine man, will co-ordinate the personnel team for Red Bull. With these changes the race and test teams will be shuffled during the winter and positions are expected to be confirmed by the first tests of next year.
World Champion Fernando Alonso leaves Renault and joins McLaren for 2007 and team principal Ron Dennis knows the pressure is on the Woking squad to give Alonso a car that is capable of fighting for a third title for the Spaniard. McLaren's performance in 2006 was not terribly inspiring and the team failed to win a race but Dennis is determined that they and Alonso will fight at the front next season.
"Fernando is the World Champion and I understand the responsibility that we have to give him a car that is capable of winning the championship," he said at a press conference in Spain. "Both Fernando and McLaren fully understand what is required to win. I believe that he will win with us, and if Alonso did not think the same then he would not have chosen us as his team."
Dennis also added that Pedro de la Rosa would continue with McLaren next season but did not say if he would be racing alongside Alonso. De La Rosa was in the second race seat since the departure of Juan Pablo Montoya in the summer but is in danger of being ousted by GP2 champion, and McLaren protégé, Lewis Hamilton. A decision is expected before the end of the year and nobody else appears to be in the running.
In circuit news, the redevelopment at Spa has got under way with the pits and paddock due to be upgraded in time for the 2007 race in September. The work necessitates a change to the Bus Stop, which will become a right-left chicane. Imola is also going ahead with modifications despite being off next year's calendar. The pit complex will be redesigned and the circuit hopes to be back on the schedule in 2008.
Bernie Ecclestone has never been the greatest fan of Silverstone and yet again has cast doubt on the British venue. It appears that the F1 supremo is looking at the prospect of Magny Cours and Silverstone sharing a race on alternate years -- reportedly the French track isn't adverse to the idea but the British Racing Drivers' Club, owners of Silverstone, claim it isn't financially viable.