Hungary: Plus24

Hungary: Plus24

Jacques Villeneuve leaves BMW SauberWell, what a Hungarian Grand Prix that was!? I don’t think anyone was really expecting the kind of race that happened yesterday – Hungary is usually a processional parade of the drivers, Noah’s Ark style. But the aging Formula One circuit came up trumps and delivered an exciting and somewhat different experience – it was some light relief that both championship contenders suffered penalties and retirements (after a ding-dong battle), especially at such a crunch time in the season.

But the circus moves on, and this Monday has brought some news that is worthy of a mention, even if it was predictable.

Jacques Villeneuve has announced that he has separated with the BMW Sauber team – a team that he was so desparate to drive for last year. It is believed that BMW weren’t so keen to retain him after seing his 2005 performances in the Sauber team, but allegedly honoured the Canadians two year contract because of potential legal ramefications. But now, following Jacques’ accident in Germany, BMW have parted company with the 1997 World Champion, apparently mutually.

BMW’s Mario Thiessen had this to say regarding the matter:

Jacques has performed well for us this year, scoring the team’s first grand prix points in Malaysia.

He has made a significant contribution to developing the newly formed BMW Sauber F1 Team and the performance of the car.

However, after Jacques’ accident in the Hockenheim race the team decided to review its options for next year, including assessing Robert Kubica in a race environment.

Our decision to look towards evaluating our driver line up has naturally impacted Jacques’ position for the remainder of this season.

We fully understand that it is difficult for Jacques to maintain his natural level of commitment in circumstances of uncertainty.

We respect his position and wish him well for the future.

So essentially, BMW weren’t happy with Jacques’ slow start and desparately wanted to find a way of putting their young star in the cockpit (saving a bundle in the process). And Villeneuve’s incident at the Hockenheimring gave the team the catalyst they had been waiting for.

And as a quick side, 44% of voters thought Jacques was due to retire after his absence from Hungary.

Mark Webber signs for Red Bull for 2007Another move that was known all weekend, although not confirmed, was Mark Webber‘s side-step to Red Bull. Mark recently left his stable of two years – Williams – after both parties spent too long negotiating. It was initially thought that Webber would move to Renault to partner Giancarlo Fisichella next year as the Australian is managed by Renault boss, Flavio Briatore. But after discussions by ambitious Red Bull team manager Christian Horner, it is now clear that Mark will partner David Coulthard (confirmed as well) next year in Adrian Newey‘s first ‘Bull. A happy Horner said:

We believe that together he and David will form a very solid partnership, which will give us one of the strongest driver line-ups in the field.

To be honest, the team does look strong on paper. They have Newey – the aerodynamics genius. They have Coulthard and Webber – two mature and strong drivers. All they need to do now is confirm an engine and they will be challenging for wins before Toyota at this rate, and they have the biggest budget out of everybody!

And finally, Max Mosley has succeeded in bringing forward his proposed engine freeze plan one year earlier. It was initially decided that the development of engines would stop at the end of 2007, in readiness for the cut-cost formula designed to take effect for the 2008 season. However, this plan has now been brought forward to 2007, and therefore engines will remain un-developed from October 23, 2006. The 2.4 litre V8 configuration will remain the same.

The only good thing to come from this engine freeze is summed up in a statement made today by the FIA:

As a result of the above the FIA and GPMA are now in full agreement about the future of the FIA Formula One World Championship.

Agreement? Formula One? What is the world coming to?

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