On with the show

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren-Mercedes, Pre-season, 2006It’s been a long and busy winter here at F1Fanatic. For those of you who were with us last year, welcome back! I hope you’re enjoying to new site design. And for those of you who’ve recently joined us – and I’m delighted to say that’s 75% of you – welcome!

2006 promises to be an intriguing year, if you can persuade yourself to put aside concerns over the new qualifying system and the return to ‘sprint-stop-sprint’ racing that tyre changes may well bring. With Renault, Honda and McLaren – and surely Ferrari – looking very close to each other, the first two races could be real thrillers.

While I’m in a rare optimistic mood, let’s also try to raise our spirits about the political situation. In response to Michelin’s planned withdrawal after 2006 Max Mosley commented that it would at least prevent a repeat of Indianapolis 2005. It seems to me that cordial relations between the warring ‘manufacturer’ and ‘FIA’ teams would go a lot further.

But that seems at least to be where things are heading. Even that biggest bone of contention – testing – could soon be resolved as a number of teams are working on a new agreement – including even Ferrari (2005 testing restriction refuseniks).

The restriction would be good for the teams and good for the sport. And best of all for the mechanics who work on the cars, who in an 18-race season (even if it is one race shorter than last year) would get an August break so that their children and partners can re-discover what they look like.

Bahrain Grand Prix Start 2005Ah, there it is. I’ve gone and done it now. 18 races, you see. Not 19. We’re one short. Of course, they haven’t finally gone and axed the Hungaro-snooze-ring, or cut Germany or Italy back to one race each. No, Spa-Francorchamps is off the calendar. You remember, the one that 96,000 fans last year voted the best circuit in Formula One?

I hear various F1 snobs chortling over the cancellation of the A1 Grand Prix round at Laguna Seca due to unfinished safety repair work – and claiming it is the beginning of the end for the fledgling series. Well, F1’s just gone and dropped its number one venue from the calendar because Bernie Ecclestone thinks the pits aren’t big enough. A1 may be struggling, but at least the organisers know the importance of keeping the fans happy.

Something F1 had better prove it knows this year – especially when the teams jet off to Indy for round 10.

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