Formula One: On and off track - week 9

Formula One: On and off track - week 9

The Ranting Horse, optimistic Stefan GP team, the GPDA, and a new safety car Last week Ferrari took the Formula One world by surprise with a publication on their official website, a story called "the Horse Whisperer - For whom the bell tolls",...

The Ranting Horse, optimistic Stefan GP team, the GPDA, and a new safety car

Last week Ferrari took the Formula One world by surprise with a publication on their official website, a story called "the Horse Whisperer - For whom the bell tolls", in which Ferrari openly and 'sans g?ne' attacked the FIA and the four new Formula One teams. And not just an attack, no, it was more like the raging bull in the china shop, in this case the bull being the famous Italian prancing horse. In the past Ferrari president Luca de Montezemolo already expressed his intense dislike of now ex-FIA president Max Mosley and his efforts to attract new teams to Formula One, which ended with Montezemolo's conclusion that the new teams were 'GP3 teams', and were not worthy of participating in Formula One.

Is Luca di Montezemolo the mysterious writer?.
Photo by Ferrari Media Center.

So who is this mysterious Horse Whisperer, could it be Montezemolo himself? It's clear this story wasn't written in 20 minutes, the writer took his time, carefully chose his words, used plenty of platitudes to name his enemies, and tried to give the readers the impression Ferrari is on a crusade to ban all evil from Formula One. Without going into the details of the publication - it's simply not worth it - it is safe to conclude that Ferrari has no respect whatsoever for their new colleagues, and of course blames Mosley for all the problems. Needless to say Ferrari nor Montezemolo would never launch such an attack on the current FIA president and former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt.

It would be a good idea if the FOTA would show they don't tolerate this kind of disrespectful behavior - which clearly exceeded the limits of good manners - from any (emphasis added) Formula One team, and suspend the Ferrari team for 4 months from their organization, and then Ferrari will have to ask themselves the very same question the mysterious writer did at the end of his article: Was it all worth it?

Formula One and the FIA are a bit lost about what to do with the self- proclaimed Stefan GP Formula One team, who wants to take over the US F1 entry. Stefan GP is very optimistic and has already shipped equipment to Bahrain and have published documents on their website which show that indeed containers from Stefan GP, shipped from the Toyota headquarters in Germany, have arrived in Bahrain. However, although the documents tell us that "Formula One spare parts" were shipped, they do not describe what is exactly in those containers. The shipment has a total weight of 6645 kg, which seems a little underweight for a complete 2 car Formula One team.

Stefan GP assumes they automatically would take over the thirteenth slot if US F1 is not able to fulfill their promises, but in the end the FIA decides who will be admitted to the 2010 grid. Another problem is that such a late entry would, according to the regulations, need the unanimous approval of the other teams. And with the Ferrari tirade in mind, an unanimous approval will be highly unlikely. Also the fact that Stefan GP has hired ex-McLaren engineer Mike Coughlan, who was involved in the 2007 McLaren./Ferrari spy scandal, could play a role in the decision the FIA will make.

US F1 have confirmed they are talking with the FIA to hold their entry until 2011, if they reach an agreement, Stefan GP is out of the race. But if the FIA decides to revoke the US F1 entry, the FIA could also decide to start the 2010 season with 12 teams instead of giving the entry automatically to Stefan GP, and re-open the whole procedure to select another team which could join Formula One in 2011. This would mean the new entrant would have almost one year to prepare for the first race of 2011. And in that case it is even possible 2009 candidates Lola and the Prodrive- Aston Martin outfit run by David Richards could be, together with Stefan GP, back in the race for a place in Formula One as well.

The Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) announced they will elect a new chairman during the Bahrain Grand Prix, current chairman Pedro de la Rosa takes his new racing driver's role at the Sauber team very serious, and wants to step down. The GPDA is if you will, the union of Formula One drivers, the organization was founded in 1961 and still has the same objectives, maintaining and improving safety standards. It has since then seen many chairmen, the first of them was Stirling Moss, but when in 1982 as a result of the FIA-FOCA war and changes in the commercial organization of Formula One, the GPDA organization, at the time led by Frenchman and Ferrari driver Didier Pironi, ceased to exist.

Pedro de la Rosa steps down as GPDA chairman.
Photo by

The GPDA officially started its second life during the Monaco GP in 1994, right after the fatal accidents of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger during the San Marino GP a few weeks earlier that year. After the serious accident of Rubens Barrichello on Friday at the San Marino circuit, and the death of Ratzenberger on Saturday, all drivers, led by Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger, had during a meeting vowed to reinstate the GPDA, and had already on Sunday morning, the day of the race, appointed Ayrton Senna as the temporarily director of the new GPDA, ironically enough, just a few hours before his death. David Coulthard was chairman until 2006, Ralf Schumacher succeeded him, and in 2006 De la Rosa was elected. De la Rosa has recently tipped Mercedes test driver Nick Heidfeld for the role of GPDA chairman.

Mercedes-Benz again provides the new Formula One safety car, the Mercedes- Benz SLS AMG, the fastest safety car ever. The car, with its characteristic top hinged gull-wing doors, has a 6.3-litre V8 430 kW (571 hp) engine, which is capable of accelerating the car from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.8 seconds. The car also has a rear wing and rear diffuser to get the necessary down force. The car is equipped with an aerodynamically shaped roof light bar, which also has an integrated TV camera and for the flash lights Mercedes has used state of the art LED technology instead of the ordinary light bulbs. The car also has a rear view camera, so the driver can keep an eye on the cars behind him on a monitor in the cockpit of the car.

When the safety car is deployed, two centrally positioned green lights will be illuminated during the time the safety car is overtaking Formula One cars to get to the front of the field. Once in front of the field, the two outer orange flashing lights are switched on to signal to the Formula One drivers that no overtaking whatsoever is allowed. The white stroboscopic lights in the head and tail lights will always flash whilst the safety car is deployed. The safety car will again be piloted by German ex-DTM driver Bernd Mayl?nder, and FIA delegate Pete Tibbitts will be in the passenger seat.

Join us again next week for the weekly "Formula One: On and off track".

See also: Formula One: On and off track - week 8

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About this article
Series General , Formula 1
Drivers Pedro de la Rosa , Rubens Barrichello , David Coulthard , Nick Heidfeld , Gerhard Berger , Luca di Montezemolo , Ayrton Senna , Stirling Moss , Didier Pironi , Roland Ratzenberger , David Richards , Jean Todt
Teams Sauber