News has been pretty slow now the 2006 season has wrapped up. Things should hot up a little when Winter Testing kicks off in a fortnight, but for now there are a couple of stories that are worth mentioning:
Red Bull have finally come to an agreement with Ferrari and Renault regarding the use of their engines in the Red Bull and Toro Rosso cars for next year. Team Principal Christian Horner had been eyeing up the Renault engine for his lead team – the Red Bull squad – but they were under contract with Ferrari for two years, the second of which would have been the 2007 season. However, Horner has managed to sway the Italian marque and has convinced Ferrari CEO Jean Todt the benefits of fitting the engine in the back of the Toro Rosso car. Toro Rosso has Italian roots, as the team were formally known as Minardi (and before then, Scuderia Italia) and based themselves in Faenza in Italy.
So Horner has got his way and next year, the Red Bulls will be powered by the French engine – Renault – and Toro Rosso will compete with the Ferrari V8. This concludes the end (for now) of Cosworth’s involvement in Formula One, and Ferrari will also supply themselves and the Spyker cars.
Oddly, 2006 saw the first failures of Ferrari engines in a fair few years, but they are still pretty formiddable and should aid the Red Bull quest. Along with the Adrian Newey designed car, and piloted by David Coulthard and Mark Webber, they should start to gain some regular points and begin moving up the field. I envisage the fight between Red Bull and BMW to be pretty heated next year.
Another story that warrants a mention is the placement of test drivers for next year. Ferrari have announced that they have retained the services of Marc Gene. Gene tested for the team last year and in 2004 after working for Williams and racing in the odd Grand Prix. Gene will partner long-term test and reserve driver Luca Badoer.
Williams have announced their second test driver to be Kazuki Nakajima, a 21 year old ‘Toyota Young Driver Programme’ graduate. This follows the placement of Toyota engines in the back of Williams’ cars for the upcoming season.
Nakajima will partner former Jordan racer Narain Karthikeyan and hopes the testing role in 2007 will act as a springboard to a full Formula One drive for 2008. Nakajima will also compete with the DAMS team in GP2.