Here’s the news from the world of motorsports:
• Testing Update: Pre-season testing for the Formula 1 teams is wrapping up as the season opener at Bahrain on March 12 looms ever closer. Many of the teams wrapped up their test schedule last week, while a handful will do a little testing this week with backup or extra cars while the primary race cars are packaged and shipped to the Middle East. The majority of the teams were in Barcelona last week, with Renault, Honda, McLaren, Toyota, Red Bull, Midland and Super Aguri logging laps. Meanwhile, in Bahrain, Ferrari finished up a 10-day test with both its 2006 car and a restricted V10-powered 2005 car. In Imola, Italy, BMW and Scuderia Toro Rosso battled inclement weather to sharpen their weapons. At Barcelona, once again it was Renault, Honda and McLaren taking turns at the top of the time sheets. Jenson Button had the fastest lap of the pre-season on Thursday with a 1:13.935, with the Renaults of Giancarlo Fisichella and defending World Champion Fernando Alonso close behind at 1:13.971 and 1:13.977, respectively. Behind them, Williams and Toyota (with its new aero package) seem rather equally matched. At Bahrain, Ferrari ran two days with Felipe Massa faster than Michael Schumacher both days. It appears that they are still struggling with their new car, but the team says it is finding and fixing problems as they go and are confident for the new season. At Imola, Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Vitantonio Liuzzi had the fastest lap of the week at 1:29.087, just ahead of Jacques Villeneuve’s BMW. Villeneuve says he’s very pleased with the new car, that it is easier to drive that the new BMW V8 is working very well. Two more weeks, and all the speculation will be over.
• Mosley on Last Lap: FIA president Max Mosley, who never fails to arouse controversy, told Autosprint magazine last week that this will be his last term as the head of the organization. He says that he has his successor already picked and waiting in the wings. The 65-year-old Brit has served as FIA president since 1991. He has some big issues ahead, though, namely the Grand Prix Manufacturers Association threatened break-away series and the finalization of the 2008 Concorde Agreement, the commercial agreement between the teams and the sanctioning body.
• FIA Seeks Supplier for Standardized ECUs: The FIA is mandating standardized ECUs for all the Formula 1 teams starting in 2008, a proposal that has not been enthusiastically received. However, it is nonetheless putting out a call for potentials suppliers of such a device. According to an FIA press release, the device will be required to control the following: an eight-cylinder engine, including single injector and spark plug per cylinder, one throttle actuator, pneumatic valve air pressure, two lambda sensors and two fuel pumps; a six- or seven-speed semi-automatic sequential gearbox and hydraulic multi-plate carbon clutch; a hydraulic differential; an energy recovery system; and a number of digital output drivers. The system will be required to include: steering wheel electronics for switch inputs and driver displays; data acquisition and logging capability sufficient for all control, diagnostic and chassis performance analysis functions with fast data upload capability; an accident data recorder; a nominal 12V regulated car system voltage supply; a list of approved sensor and actuator types; and a single infrastructure telemetry system. The FIA hopes, by instituting the standardized ECU, to eliminate expensive electronic aids like traction and launch control, helping to reduce overall costs. It will also put more control in the hands of the drivers. However, it does move in the opposite direction from Formula 1’s tradition of having the highest level of technology available in the sport.