Is it the German Grand Prix or the European Grand Prix? Who knows, but it is being held at the Nurburgring circuit somewhere in Germany. Which is, coincidently, somewhere in Europe. I vote a move to rename the event the Gerpean Grand Prix. Problem solved. But aside from the little confusion over the name of the race this coming weekend, other Formula One related news has hit the headlines in the last seven days, summed up rather briefly below.
Spyker Lean Towards Winkelhock
Spyker, the Dutch team that dumped its Dutch driver last week over a sponsor payment dispute, tested Honda test driver Christian Klien at Spa Francorchamps alongside the other teams. The Austrian driver did reasonably well considering (I believe) he didn’t get the opportunity to have a proper seat fitting, although he was still at the bottom of the timing sheet. And understandably so – Spyker have spent much of the season so far propping up the all important piece of paper. So Spyker have shown interest in a driver who has experience, capabilities to do a reasonable job for them and is also very eager to get back into racing. You would think the problem is solved.
But instead of signing Klien on a temporary contract for the remainder of the year, they instead have decided to try out their most experienced (but rookie) test driver (who has been with them all along throughout this saga) Markus Winkelhock, so the rumour goes. Being of German nationality, this will of course prove popular this weekend, and Markus’s father drove in Formula One between 1982 and 1985. If the Winkelhock name does return to the grid at the Gerpean Grand Prix, it will mean a total of five German drivers racing, with Winkelhock being accompanied by Nico Rosberg (officially German), Nick Heidfeld, Ralf Schumacher and second Spyker driver Adrian Sutil.
I just hope for a chance, and in the European Grand Prix that would be perfect for me. For a German driver to have his first race in Germany would be cool. Markus Winkelhock
Currently, nothing has been confirmed, but the deal is apparently almost set in stone. More news is expected on Wednesday, and it is also thought that Markus will likely only drive for one event as the team could really do with a pay-driver who can bring some sponsorship on board.
Geoffrey Willis is making a return to Formula One after spending far too long on the bench. Many of you may be asking “who” right now, but Willis is an important person in F1. The Brit spent much of his career at Brackley as Honda’s designer, arriving at the team in 2002 after working at Williams during some of their most successful years. However, Willis and Honda parted company in 2006 rather abruptly, and according to his new employers – Red Bull – he has been “has been tending his garden”.
Geoff will report to Adrian Newey, and his position will be technical director. Although he doesn’t officially start until the Monday after the Gerpean Grand Prix, I’m sure Willis has already been given the task of sorting out the RBR3s woeful reliability, particularly with regards to the seamless gear box.
Indy Unveils MotoGP Circuit
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, who this week ended negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone to hold a 2008 US Grand Prix, has had its new MotoGP circuit approved by the FIA as F1 friendly. IMS has been trying hard to get bikes racing at the famous venue for a while, as the last event held for two-wheeled vehicles at the Brickyard was way back in 1909.
One of the things that we did moving forward is we, and I’m not sure if it might be the only time, but we had a joint FIM/FIA inspection. So any changes that are being made to the road course should Formula One ever return, we still could use those changes for Formula One.Joie Chitwood.
The new 16 turn anti-clockwise circuit was confirmed as okay for F1 at a joint meeting with the respective governing bodies FIA and FIM, and while nothing has been said about a possible return of F1 to Indy, the door has apparently been left open by Tony George and Joie Chitwood – the two people in charge of the venue.
Stepneygate continues to dominate newspaper real estate as well, with McLaren being required to attend a World Motor Sport Council hearing to defend their position on the whole saga. While a recent vote on a German motorsport website suggested that 70% of people believe McLaren should be penalised in some form, one member of the WMSC has hinted that proving McLaren gained from the alleged incident of information transferral will be almost impossible. Ron Dennis continues to insist that no other employee saw the documents from Ferrari, and nothing has leaked into the design of the MP4-22 – McLaren’s 2007 challenger.
It is going to be very difficult to demonstrate that McLaren used that information and that it did so knowing where it came from. Certainly what I hope happens is that Dennis’ team do not even get a reprimand, because it is almost impossible to prove anything. Joaquin Verdegay.
An investigation into the car chases, tracking and stalking of ex-Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney has been launched, with Stepney’s lawyer suggesting that if Ferrari are behind any of these incidences, they could end up in court themselves.
Obviously, if it is confirmed that Ferrari are behind this, it would be very serious. If that was the case, the Maranello people will be called to answer for it in court. Sonia Bartolini.
The saga continues and will likely see no resolution until August at the very earliest.