A slightly changed Magny-cours circuit was the host of what would become a very surprising first qualifying, and a confirmation of the strength of Williams' FW25. Jos Verstappen kept his head cool on a drying track on Friday, in which he was able to post a provisional pole for Minardi. Team-mate Justin Wilson was second, but got disqualified because his car's weight was 2kg too low. A race in which the cars had to drive 2 laps less than last year (due to the circuit changes that made the circuit 150m longer) once more developed problems with the refuel rig for McLaren. Ralf Schumacher on his hand makes the best use of the current FW25 power, and gets more and more a hand in the championship. When Michael is for any reason not able to get the world title this year, it is likely that Ralf Schumacher will be a serious contender. Nonetheless, a single event or accident can mix the current standings up completely.
For Williams it was a perfect weekend. Finally after 10 months of negotiations the contract with BMW was extended to 2009 with the possibillity for BMW to step out when they want. It will be a much closer collaboration than it used to be. BMW will line up odd 50 engineers to help Williams on the transmission and chassis-side. The first common project is a new gearbox, which upshifts without a rev-drop. BMW develops such a system currently for their road-cars. On the aerodynamics and the driving dynamics Munich will deliver simulation programs and computer capacity. Gerhard Berger says:"I do not think, that ever before there was such a close link between a manufacturer and a British team."
Williams and tyres
The winning team from the Nürburgring holds the best cards for the next few races in their hands. They understand the FW25 now. With the wider front tyre, a special set-up and the recent aero-changes they have a package, which can win everywhere. So the test-ban from Silverstone till Budapest will affect them much less than McLaren and Ferrari. Both have only 4 more test-days in Barcelona to solve their problems. Then they are tied up for six weeks.
One test week is not enough to do tyre development in a way, Bridgestone needs it. The problem is, that so far the Japanese played around mostly with compounds, but they need a new construction in order to run as soft compounds as Michelin does. The process of developing new construction takes time. On top of it in the Bridgestone camp there is trouble. The other teams were angry, when they learnt, that Ferrari had used in Montreal a tyre specification, they did not even know about. "It gave us straight half a second, when we tested it afterwards in Silverstone“, Villeneuve says. BAR and Honda asked Bridgestone, how they want to explain such an unfair treatment. Sauber thinks, that Ferraris defeat at the Nürburgring was probably the best wake-up call for Bridgestone. „As long as Ferrari is winning, the people back in Tokyo think, that everything is okay."
Where to locate the brakepads?
Since a couple of years, some teams have located their brake pads on the underside of the discs. This Jaguar image shows where Jaguar locates their brakepads at the moment. The pads can be noted by a break in the glowing red, produced by the extremely hot carbon brake disks. During this year, teams are switching back to a more conventional location of the brakepads, behind the brake disk. Jaguar have opted for this configuration on the front wheels, because it allows a better cooling than with a lower brake pad. The lower configuration is important for the centre of gravity, but at the front wheels provide around 60% of the braking power, extra cooling can be efficiently used.
The MP4/18 myth
McLaren has a different problem with the test-break. They need mileage for their new car. It has done so far 1923 kilometres only. It is now become even clear that the MP4/18 will not race before the Italian Grand Prix, the first race after the test-ban. There are all sorts of problems. Overheating in the rear, cracking light weight parts, long engine changes. The new Mercedes FO110P-V10 is said to be 30 hp under the power of the current engine. It is unlikely that all teething problems will be sorted out in that 4 days in Barcelona after the French GP. „If we get some running", Coulthard says, "maybe we will only face the fund mental problems, if there are any". The side crash-test has been still not yet passed by the end of june. And the team is concerned about two big crashes from Räikkönen and Wurz. Although nothing on the car was broken, the drivers cannot explain, why they crashed. Wurz went off in Jerez at a speed of 268 kph. He thinks: "You have quite a different seat position in that car. Maybe the view out of it is different, so that you misjudge your line. I never thought, that I would come with my right rear wheel on the dust at the exit of this left-hander, so it caught me by absolute surprise, when the car spun."
- BAR had to start its race weekend after the first free session, after the cars were kept out of competition by the French court because of a dispute about a five year-old Teleglobe deal.
- Frenchman Franck Montagny, comfortable leader in the Nissan World Series took the place of Allan McNish in Friday morning free testing. It young man is believed to be a great talent, and likely to come up with an F1 drive in the future for Renault.
- Jarno Trulli used a special helmet design as a one time event. The design was metallic-grey, and advised by a friend of his. At least it helped us to differentiate him from team-mate at Renault Fernando Alonso.
- A special rear wing end plate has been used during the Grand Prix, although it was not actually brand new. This end plate specification has been used on other high downforce circuits by Renault, such as Monaco.