Honda pour cold water on 'unlikley' Aguri saviour.
Japanese parent company paints an increasingly bleak-looking picture for beleagured Leafield-based squad, with still no sign of Sato and Davidson's cars being transported to Turkey.
Despite Aguri Suzuki revealing yesterday that his embattled Formula 1 team is in further discussions to safeguard its increasingly precarious-looking future within the sport, parent company Honda has suggested any talk of the squad's survival being assured is somewhat premature.
Super Aguri announced that it was in the advanced stages of negotiations with the German Weigl Group AG, in an eleventh hour deal that Suzuki said included an 'agreement for a substantial shareholding of the Formula 1 team' and one that would 'allow [the team] to race for the foreseeable future' [see separate story - click here].
Honda, however, have hinted that the deal is far from a certainty, and Reuters claims Takuma Sato and Antony Davidson's cars are still being held at Super Aguri's Oxfordshire factory and have not yet been shipped to Istanbul. Other teams sent their cars direct from the Circuit de Catalunya to catch a ferry from Trieste in northern Italy for the three-day trip, with official scrutineering for the fifth grand prix of the 2008 campaign to be held on Thursday, 8 May.
"I am aware that Aguri Suzuki is continuing to look for an investor and we wish him well," Honda CEO Nick Fry told the international news agency. "Since we have been looking for a partner for over a year, unfortunately, it would seem unlikely that someone appropriate is going to appear in the next 48 hours.
"It would appear unlikely that a company the size of Weigl is able to support a competitive Formula 1 team, unless of course there are other partners of which we have not been made aware."
Super Aguri are believed to be in as much as $100 million debt to Honda for engines and technical support, and it is just such a prospect that allegedly scared off previous potential investors Dubai International Capital - fronted by the British Magma Group - who by pulling the plug on their agreement with the small Leafield-based concern plunged SAF1 into crisis ahead of last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.
Honda have recently underlined they are no longer willing to continue to bail Super Aguri out of trouble, with suggestions the latter was only able to compete in Barcelona with the Japanese manufacturer's financial assistance.
Suzuki met senior Honda figures in Tokyo on Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to keep the cash-strapped team afloat, and there will be a further meeting next week, as not all of the board had been in attendance due to a national holiday.
Whilst both Sato and Davidson have insisted they are forging ahead with their usual preparations, the chances of Super Aguri racing in Turkey in just a week's time do not look good.
EXCLUSIVE! Former Formula One world champion Alan Jones has backed under-fire FIA president Max Mosley, expressing doubts over the methods by which the media obtained footage of his sex life.
Asked whether he feels Mosley ought to resign over the scandal - in which the world motorsport boss allegedly engaged in a Nazi-themed sexual role-play with five prostitutes - he replied: "No. What he does in his private life is his business.
"I care more about what he does in the office than what he's doing in the bed - I don't know that even the majority of people would frown upon what he did. The only crime he committed was being caught.
"You've got to ask yourself: how come there was a camera across the road that saw him go into the establishment; and how coincidentally there was a camera inside recording it all?
"I think he was set up."
Jones, speaking to Eurosport at the final A1 grand prix of the season at Brands Hatch - where he is boss of Team Australia - also expressed his belief that women could secure F1 seats in the future.
Andretti Green IndyCar driver Danica Patrick could be set for a test with Honda in the next year.
"One of the main hindrances for female drivers in the past was the sheer physical nature of the cars," he continued. "In the old downforce cars, when the grands prix were two hours long, it was pretty gruelling stuff.
"It was tantamount to a woman saying she wanted to be heavyweight boxing champion! Nowadays though, with power steering and paddle change, Danica Patrick or another woman could make a good F1 or A1 driver."
A1 boss Tony Teixeira recently considered buying into an F1 team, with the possibility of saving the seats for the top drivers in his own series as a prize.
However the plans fell through and, with Ferrari set to provide the engines from the beginning of next season in A1, Jones believes that the sports should be kept mutually exclusive.
"A1 and F1 should be kept separate," he said. "The series can stand alone as they are. There are a number of people in A1 who would make good test drivers though and even full Formula One drivers.
"I don't know if [top A1 driver] Neel Jani will go into F1: it's who you know these days, the fall of the dice.
"Look at Sebastien Bourdais: he was successful in ChampCar for four years before he got an F1 drive."
As for the possibility of the Australian GP moving to Sydney from Melbourne, Jones - whose world title was won in 1980 with Williams - does not think the project is feasible.
"They're talking about spending 30 million [Australian] dollars on it, which would probably furnish [F1 boss] Bernie [Ecclestone]'s office, but I don't think it'd build a good F1 track," he told us.
"They're kidding themselves. If I was a betting man I wouldn't say F1 is going to be in Melbourne either after 2010.
"I'd be sad to see the Australian GP go. I'm a big F1 fan and proud of the way my country's hosted those events in the past."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport vice-president, said Hekki Kovalainen was extremely lucky to escape serious injury when he crashed during last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.
Looking ahead to next weekend's Turkish Grand Prix, Haug recognises that the team still has work to do in order to counter the Ferrari challenge.
How is Heikki Kovalainen doing following his accident in the Spanish Grand Prix on 27th April?
"Heikki was really lucky, and we were too of course. The MP4-23's safety cell prevented the outcome from being worse, as did the safety barriers at the race track. This accident might have had more serious consequences, had it not been for the FIA and the teams working intensively and continuously on improved safety standards over the past 14 years."
"The medical teams at the racetrack and in the hospital did exemplary jobs as well as the marshals. Heikki and the team want to thank all of them. Heikki didn't have any injuries; however, he did have a headache. One day after the accident, he was released from the hospital in Barcelona. First he took time to recover, and now he is preparing for the next Grand Prix in Istanbul. Before that he of course has to undergo the medical check by the FIA. It is not so important that Heikki will take part in the next race; it is important that he will be racing again when he will have fully recovered."
Prior to Barcelona, experts said the team that was in front there would remain in front for the rest of the year. What is your opinion?
"Barcelona as the first Grand Prix of the European season and, with its challenging track layout, is definitely a yardstick for the following races. In qualifying, we missed pole position by less than three tenths of a second; however, we carried a little more fuel and therefore more weight. Anyway, even with the same fuel load we wouldn't have been fast enough to beat Ferrari."
"Since winning the season opener in Melbourne, our car has improved gradually and has become significantly faster. Unfortunately, we didn't score all possible points, neither in Melbourne, Malaysia, Bahrain or Barcelona, mostly due to self-induced mistakes and this is the reason for the gap to the top of the rankings, after Ferrari had scored only one point in Melbourne."
"Our aim is to improve further over the next few races, however it is possible the Turkish Grand Prix might be a challenging race for the team."
How do you evaluate the chances of McLaren Mercedes in the Turkish Grand Prix?
"We didn't really shine here in the past, and also this time we are not the current benchmark. The team wants to score as many points as possible, but after three consecutive wins Ferrari obviously arrive here as the favourites."
EXCLUSIVE! Former Formula One world champion Emerson Fittipaldi told Eurosport that McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton is capable of winning multiple titles, as long as he is at the right team.
Brazilian Fittipaldi, 61, won drivers' championships with Lotus and McLaren, becoming the youngest F1 champion in 1972 at 25 years of age before switching teams and repeating his triumph in 1974.
Hamilton came within a whisker of claiming his maiden crown in his rookie year, but lost momentum in the last races.
"It was fantastic [to win a world title at a young age]," Fittipaldi said. "I was very young. I was on the right team and that was the title I prefer to remember.
"When I joined McLaren though, they were always a very organised team. They are having a tough time at the moment, but if there is a team that can resolve its difficulties quickly, it's McLaren. They have all the ingredients: the human power and technology to improve the car.
"Whether Lewis Hamilton can turn it around this year depends on the car. He showed how fast he was last year - he made mistakes like in Brazil as any driver can do, but he has tremendous standards.
"Potentially he can win multiple championships, as long as he's on the right team. If he can drive like he does now, how will he drive in the fourth and fifth years of his career?
"Every time you go out on a racetrack it becomes easier. Every kilometre of track that you drive brings experience and that helps you the next time."
Following his triumphs, Fittipaldi raced for several years with his brother Wilson's Fittipaldi Automotive team, with little success.
He hinted that Spaniard Fernando Alonso - who took Fittipaldi's youngest champion mantle in 2005 - should stay within his adopted home team Renault, to which he returned for 2008 after a year of exile with McLaren, despite problems with the current car.
"To race with my brother was very different, a challenge. In motor sport you sometimes have to have the best team around you, I mean humans - it's not all about money.
"In the last year I had the best team there, the human quality, but we didn't have sponsors.
"Renault are showing again that they are improving. Can he win there again? Yes. This year it will be difficult, but next year why not?"
Another youthful prospect is Fittipaldi's compatriot Nelson Piquet Jr, who followed in Hamilton's footsteps from a year before by winning the GP2 title in 2007.
"A problem he has, that Lewis Hamilton doesn't, is his father, who was many times the world champion," Fittipaldi continued.
"When he gets in a car he's asking himself: 'can I drive like my father?' It's a lot of pressure.
"He needs experience and then he'll be fine, because he's very talented."
Fittipaldi was speaking at the A1 grand prix at Brands Hatch.
Super Aguri's departure from the Formula One championship has left the sport with just 10 teams and no sign of any new entrants on the horizon.
Commercial uncertainty, doubts about the sport's future rules and the credit crunch that has gripped the global economy over the past year have only served as a deterrent to potential newcomers.
The sex scandal surrounding the head of the sport's governing body, International Automobile Federation president Max Mosley, has not helped.
The sport's landscape has changed considerably since Super Aguri, let down by a key sponsor last year and owing backers Honda huge sums, entered Formula One in 2006 on a wave of optimism.
The idea then was for Aguri to compete as effectively a Honda B team with Mosley saying that so-called 'customer cars' were the future of the sport.
Prodrive had secured the coveted 12th and final slot, apparently beating off 10 other bidders, with the intention of entering this year with McLaren cars and Mercedes engines.
A1 Grand Prix organiser Tony Teixeira was looking into a similar arrangement with Ferrari and Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso.
However, that all fell apart last October when former champions Williams challenged the legality of Prodrive's entry and made clear they would fight their corner all the way to the civil courts.
Williams had argued that teams that do not make or design their own cars should not be allowed to score championship points or benefit from television revenues earmarked for constructors.
"Obviously if a team comes into Formula One without any investment in the staffing and equipment that we've built up over the last 25 years and gains access to a [customer] car... then it's a serious commercial threat to us," Williams co-founder Patrick Head said last year.
Prodrive subsequently announced that they would not be taking up the 12th slot while Teixeira said his talks with Toro Rosso ended late last year when it became apparent that customer cars would not be allowed from 2010.
"If the rules change, I would look for a spot in F1," added the South African. "If the rules don't change, there's nothing in it for us."
Honda's eagerness to support Aguri waned when they realised the problems facing their works team, who scored just six points last season.
New Honda F1 team principal Ross Brawn and chief executive Nick Fry are determined to get back among the frontrunners next year and do not want any distractions or dilution of the parent company's resources.
The FIA is eager to bring the costs down, introducing long-life engines and four-race gearboxes but a proposal to impose budget caps on teams is still some way off.
In the meantime, the sport is dominated by the major manufacturers. The last independent team to win a race was Williams in 2004.
Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya has revived and renamed as Force India the former Spyker/Midland team that emerged from the remains of Jordan.
But that team were a far more attractive proposition than Super Aguri because they had a history as a constructor as well as owning their factory.
The cost of starting a team from scratch is prohibitive for all but the biggest players. Toyota were the last to do so in 2002 and they have spent well in excess of $1 billion (£500 million) without winning anything.
BMW bought Sauber rather than go it completely alone.
Toro Rosso are looking for a buyer, and that team may now have increased in value as a result of Super Aguri's exit, with Red Bull's billionaire owner Dietrich Mateschitz saying last month that the decision to sell was also because of the change in the customer car regulations.
"For that reason I see it as essential that we concentrate on one team," the Austrian, who also owns Red Bull Racing, told Switzerland's Motorsport Aktuell magazine.
"The cheapest thing you can do in Formula One is buy a team," he added. "It only gets expensive when you try to run one seriously."
Following Super Aguri's announcement that they were withdrawing from the Formula One championship, here is a list of teams that have folded or changed ownership in recent years.
* At the end of 2005, the Jordan and Minardi names disappeared from Formula One while Sauber were bought by BMW.
Jordan were on the brink of collapse when rescued by Midland while struggling Minardi were bought by Red Bull and renamed Toro Rosso. Midland then became Spyker at the end of 2006 and Force India in 2008.
* Ford, who had bought Stewart in 1999, announced in September 2004 that they were pulling out of Formula One. They sold their Jaguar team to Red Bull energy drink billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, with that team now competing as Red Bull Racing.
* The Arrows team went into liquidation in January 2003 after being barred from the championship.
They had withdrawn from the Belgian Grand Prix and missed the last five races of the 2002 season. In 25 years in Formula One, and 382 starts, they never won a race.
* The Prost team founded by France's four times world champion Alain Prost were declared bankrupt in January 2002.
They had entered the sport in 1997 after Prost bought the race-winning Ligier team at the end of 1996.
* Former champions Tyrrell disappeared as a racing name in 1998 after being sold to British American Racing. That team is now Honda F1.
* Lola departed in 1993 but returned briefly in 1997 before pulling out on the eve of the second race of the season and going into liquidation. Neither of their cars had qualified for the season-opener.
* Former champions Lotus shut up shop in January 1995. Team founder Colin Chapman had died of a heart attack in 1982 but they were still a good enough team for Brazilian Ayrton Senna to take his first win with them in 1985.
* British-based Simtek also went into receivership in 1995 after promised sponsorship dried up while Italian-based Forti were wound up in mid 1996.
* Italy's Andrea Moda team were banned from the 1992 championship for tarnishing the image of the sport after team boss Antonio Sassetti was arrested and charged with fraud. They had previously been known as Coloni.
* Former champions Brabham, founded by Australian world champion Jack Brabham and once owned by Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, failed in 1992 after being sold to a Swiss financier who was subsequently jailed for fraud. That same year they gave future champion Damon Hill his F1 debut.
* Pacific raced in 1994 and 1995 and then closed, while Larrousse withdrew in 1994. March and Dallara both left the scene in 1992, AGS in 1991. EuroBrun folded in 1990.
* Other teams to have departed over the years include BRM, Cooper, Fittipaldi, Hesketh, Matra, Osella, Shadow, Vanwall, Wolf and Zakspeed.
Super Aguri have withdrawn from the Formula One World Championship following problems over funding.
The team, which owes engine and support supplier Honda around £100 million, had fought tooth and nail for its survival for many months.
A takeover by Magma Group, funded by Dubai money, collapsed last month and Honda were lukewarm about an 11th hour rescue bid from Germany's Weigl Group.
The team was effectively created to give an F1 seat to Japanese driver Takuma Sato, who was dropped by Honda in 2005, while Briton Anthony Davidson was chosen for the second car in 2008.
"Regretfully I must inform you that the team will be ceasing its racing activities as of today," team principal Aguri Suzuki stated on Tuesday morning.
"The team has competed against the many car manufacturer-backed teams and succeeded in obtaining its first points after only the 22nd race, finishing in ninth place overall in the 2007 constructors' championship.
"However, the breach of contract by the promised partner SS United Oil & Gas Company resulted in the loss of financial backing and immediately put the team into financial difficulties.
"Also, the change in direction of the environment surrounding the team, in terms of the use of customer chassis, has affected our ability to find partners.
"Meanwhile, with the help of Honda, we have somehow managed to keep the team going, but we find it difficult to establish a way to continue the activities in the future within the environment surrounding F1 and as a result, I have decided to withdraw from the championship."
Suzuki took a parting shot at Honda F1 chief executive Nick Fry, who had expressed scepticism about a deal with Weigl and reportedly told Formula One Management that Super Aguri would not race in Turkey next weekend.
The team's trucks had already been denied access to the Istanbul circuit for the fifth round of the championship while their cars remained at the Honda F1 factory in central England.
"I don't understand how suddenly Nick Fry needs to be commenting on everything," said Suzuki.
"Honda were our backers and he's not the CEO of Honda. I have no interest in Nick Fry whatsoever and have no idea what he was talking about."
Suzuki had praise for many other people involved with and within the team.
"I would like to express my deepest thanks to Honda, Bridgestone, the sponsors and all the team staff," he said.
"[And] the drivers have been fantastic. When we started the cars wouldn't even go in a straight line, but Takuma never once complained."
Formula One now has only 10 teams for the first time since 2005.
Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen can chalk up his third win of the season on Sunday and shatter Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa's dream of a Turkish Grand Prix hat-trick.
Brazilian Massa has won from pole position in Istanbul for the past two years but Raikkonen, winner with McLaren in the inaugural Turkish Grand Prix of 2005, has the momentum.
The Finn is nine points clear of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton after four races including the most recent in Spain that saw him dominate from pole position.
"Barcelona was a perfect weekend for me and the team," Raikkonen said. "Now we want to keep that rhythm and we will push very hard.
"The pole position helped a lot and it seems that starting ahead of everybody else is a necessary condition for winning the race in Istanbul, too.
"I won't change my approach. It's too early to think about anything other than a victory."
Massa, the winner in Bahrain, is 11 points adrift of Raikkonen and one behind third-placed Pole Robert Kubica for BMW Sauber.
Ferrari remain the clear favourites however, something acknowledged by their McLaren rivals.
"We didn't really shine here in the past, and also this time we are not the current benchmark," said Mercedes motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug.
"The team wants to score as many points as possible, but after three consecutive wins Ferrari obviously arrive here as the favourites."
Hamilton wants to do better than last year, when he finished fifth in a race held in August when conditions were hotter.
Team-mate Heikki Kovalainen faces a fitness test on Thursday before he can be sure of racing after the accident that knocked him unconscious in Spain.
"I want to get back racing as soon as possible, since the accident at Barcelona it has been my only focus," the Finn said last week.
McLaren have experienced Spanish test driver Pedro de la Rosa waiting for the call should Kovalainen fail the test.
Even if McLaren and Ferrari again dominate at Istanbul Park, the grid will look different after the struggling Honda-backed Super Aguri team withdrew from the world championship on Tuesday because of financial difficulties.
For the first time since 2005 there will be just 10 teams, with Japanese driver Takuma Sato and Britain's Anthony Davidson the absent drivers.
Honda's Brazilian Rubens Barrichello will celebrate a Formula One record with his 257th race start, one more than Italian Riccardo Patrese managed between 1977 and 1993.
"I will feel some sadness of course," Patrese said. "I was pleased to keep the record but records are there to be beaten. And the only thing I can say is that I congratulate Rubens for doing it."
The Super Aguri team have gone into administration after withdrawing from the Formula One championship for financial reasons.
Joint administrators PKF said in a statement that they were "seeking to sell the business as an on-going concern to a company or individual looking to launch a Formula One or other motor sport operation."
"Several expressions of interest have already been received," they added.
The Japanese team, based at the old Arrows factory in Leafield in central England, gave up the struggle on Tuesday after the collapse of a takeover deal and the reluctance of backers Honda to keep them afloat.
Sources have said Honda were owed around $100 million (£50 million) by Super Aguri for engines and technical support for the team founded by former grand prix racer Aguri Suzuki after the 2005 season.
The team's current cars, effectively a version of last year's Honda, were taken to the Honda F1 factory in Brackley after the Spanish Grand Prix on April 27.
"This administration provides a unique opportunity to get into high-level motor sport without having to build an operation from scratch," joint administrator Philip Long said in a statement.
"In terms of capability, a new team could easily be up and running for the 2009 Formula One season."
Accountants and business advisers PKF were also the liquidators of the Arrows Formula One team, Super Aguri's predecessors at Leafield, in 2003 and the British interests of the failed French Prost team in 2002.
Anthony Davidson insists that his Formula One dream has not died along with the Super Aguri F1 team, which has finally been put out of its misery.
The Briton has been one of Super Aguri's two regular drivers for the past year and a bit, running alongside Japanese favourite Takuma Sato, but was always living on the edge as the team negotiated with various potential investors, many of whom had their own preferences in terms of talent.
Now, however, the decision to close the team down ahead of this weekend's Turkish Grand Prix has left both Davidson and Sato - along with the entire workforce at Leafield - looking for alternative employment.
"It is a bitter blow to see them disappear, but maybe it is a sign of the times that privateer teams can't survive now with the way the world is going," the 29-year old told the BBC.
Davidson made his name in F3 before enhancing his reputation in the top flight with years of sterling service as a test driver, primarily with BAR and Honda before being seconded to Super Aguri to speed its progress.
Despite losing his job with just four races gone in the 2008 campaign, however, he insists that he has no plans to look beyond Formula One for alternative employment.
"It's a difficult time of year to suffer this bitter blow, but I'll bounce back," he confirmed. "I'm fully confident of my ability behind the wheel, and I'm sure things will be better in the future for me.
"I'll hang on in there. I have to stick to Formula One. That's the priority at the moment and for the future. That's what I have to do, it's what I'm trained to do. I really want to concentrate and get a good chance to do it properly.
"You ride the ups and downs on this rollercoaster. If it's been a downward slope today, then I'm sure we'll bounce back.
"You begin to realise just how much you love it when it's taken away from you. I really feel it's unfinished business for me in Formula One. I feel it's where I belong."
Mark Webber tells Eurosport-Yahoo! he is realistic about his chances of making the podium in his Red Bull any time soon.
How have you prepared for this weekend's race? What have you been up to?
MW: Much the same as I do for any race really. In previous years I've always come a day or so early because of media and PR commitments and to acclimatize to the hot weather but obviously this year the race is being held much earlier. In fact, it's a lot cooler here than it is back in the UK. I went back to the UK straight after Barcelona and so I've spent a bit of time at the Red Bull Racing factory seeing the boys, and also training.
After fifth last time out can you go one better this weekend and end the Turkish GP on the podium?
MW: Of course you're always looking to get the best result out of any race weekend but to finish third will probably mean a fair rate of attrition amongst the front runners.
What do you expect from the car? Have any changes been made to it?
MW: We introduced a lot of new things to the car at Barcelona - as did most teams - but we do have a few more tweaks this weekend.
Alan Jones said recently that the car is clearly improving and he expects you to win a race sometime soon. Is that a possibility this season?
MW: At the moment, it's very hard for us to race against the likes of Ferrari, McLaren and BMW and they're the guys competing for the three podium positions each race. Of course, there's always that rainy day which things don't go according to plan and that's when we need to be waiting in the wings and picking up the pieces. As a team, we are making good steps forward but I think we're still a while away from genuinely racing the big boys.
Where do you think your best chance of achieving this will be?
MW: I don't think a particular track would make any difference to me winning but something like changing weather conditions could play a factor.
Who do you expect your main battle to be with during this weekend's race?
MW: The usual suspects; Jarno Trulli, Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg.
Who are your direct rivals in general this season?
You've suffered a couple of car failures in Turkey. How much does that play on your mind when you return to a track?
MW: Not at all; I actually enjoy the track here.
How do you find the circuit in Istanbul? What are its particular qualities?
MW Istanbul is a very unique circuit, and obviously we go around it in an anticlockwise direction.
It has a similar layout to Brazil. We have a very fast left hand corner in Turn 8, which is very stressful for the car and driver. The circuit is very spectacular and very challenging.
Where do you rate it compared to the others on the calendar?
MW Turkey is in the top five F1 circuits.
Generally do you enjoy the young tracks or the more traditional ones which have been on the calendar for many years?
MW: I'm a big fan of the traditional circuits such as San Marino, Spa, Silverstone but some of the newer tracks such as Shanghai provide a good challenge too. I would like to see more street races in F1 so I'm looking forward to Valencia and Singapore.
Jones said there was no chance of Sydney hosting the Australian GP at Eastern Creek. What are your thoughts on that, and the chances of Melbourne retaining the opening fixture?
MW: I'd agree with Alan; the track would have been totally redeveloped as it simply isn't up to scratch and I'd question whether it's even safe enough for touring cars. The Australian Grand Prix has a fabulous home in Melbourne; it's a fantastic city, safe, welcoming and the F1 community love going there each year. I don't see the point of moving the race elsewhere but of course the Victorian Government has to be comfortable about hosting it into the future.
What about the race being held at night?
MW: If it was a deal-breaker in whether Australia had a F1 Grand Prix, I'd say yes, we should have the race held at night.
F1 was criticized for being a procession in Barcelona, with few overtaking moves. How do you expect the downforce changes and slick tyres to affect matters next year, and will you welcome them?
MW: At the moment, competitiveness in F1 is incredibly tight. We have such a small margin covering the whole field so I feel that the regulation changes next year will spread the field more. I am not sure if the overtaking will be affected, but the teams will be a lot further apart in terms of performance and not as competitively similar, as they are this year.
Mark Webber was speaking to Jon Symcox / Eurosport
It's time to rev up your Fantasy teams with a few pit-lane adjustments ahead of Sunday's Turkish Grand Prix. If you haven't picked one yet, it's not too late to get going - just follow our simple instructions.
- Choose three drivers for each race - one from Group A and two from Group B - plus a team.
- The top eight finishers in the race receive 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 fantasy point respectively plus there is a bonus point for any driver leading at any point during the race and a bonus point for completing the entire race.
The top three drivers in qualifying will earn 3, 2 and 1 point respectively meaning each driver can receive a maximum of 15 fantasy points during each race and each team can earn a maximum of 27 fantasy points per race.
AND NOW THE BEAUTY OF THE GAME:
- Each driver and constructor can be an active member of your team in no more than four races.
This means with 18 races scheduled you will have to use at least five of the elite seven Group A drivers at some point in the season and also at least nine of the 15 Group B drivers.
It also means that you have to pick five of the 11 F1 teams and herein lies the great dilemma of the game - who should I pick for each race?
Shall I pick all the big names early on to get to the top of the leaderboard? Which teams perform well on which tracks; which teams will improve as the season progresses.
The deadline to create a team for each race is 8am local time on the day of qualifying which means you must have your entries in by 6am GMT on Saturday morning.
FOUR FOR TURKEY:
The withdrawal of Super Aguri leaves only ten teams to choose from, and it would be madness not to stick with Ferrari if you reaped the rewards of their one-two podium finish in Spain.
Luca di Montezemolo's team are going for a hat-trick at the Otodrom, and Felipe Massa is the undisputed master of this young track.
For a second pick we recommend McLaren, who won in Turkey three years ago with Kimi Raikkonen behind the wheel. Heikki Kovalainen has recovered from his horror crash last week and will race.
If you're looking to switch your A driver this week, Raikkonen and Massa might seem the obvious choices, but how about a punt on McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton drove well in Turkey last year, only to be denied by a late puncture, and this just might be the week he returns to the top of the podium.
From the B group Red Bull's Mark Webber is a good bet. The Australian finished fifth in Spain, his best result since last July's European Grand Prix, and has been threatening to seriously challenge in a race for some time.
To keep him company how about Toyota's Jarno Trulli, who performed well on this track last year. The Italian was in fine form in Barcelona, and but for a breakdown in communications that cost him two places, would have finished sixth.
Toyota are unlikely to make the same mistake again, and will need little motivation to help Trulli to a decent result in Turkey.
Before every race we will give you the definitive guide of who is hot and who is not whilst within the game there is a Driver Performance Table - a stats tool showing you the top fantasy performers for each race of the season - and a Driver Distribution Table showing you how many managers are picking each driver.
So join up now, form a mini-league with friends, family or colleagues, watch your progress in your national league and you may find yourself at the top of the Grid!
The main protagonists sound off after a rain affected first day of free practice ahead of Sunday's Turkish Grand Prix.
Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari): "Not the best of Fridays. This morning, I only managed one timed lap before a gearbox problem meant I could not go out for the rest of the session. In the afternoon, I struggled a bit to find the right settings on the car. We lost valuable time this morning, but we still have enough data to analyse so that we can be ready to tackle the rest of the weekend."
Felipe Massa (Ferrari): "Overall, this was a positive day. The track is very fast, even if it's still a bit dirty, which meant it was quite easy to make mistakes. The low temperatures mean it is difficult to get the most out of the tyres on a first timed lap, especially on the harder ones. I feel comfortable on this track and I think I can be very competitive tomorrow and on Sunday in the race: it would be fantastic to win again here, after having done it for the past two years."
Fernando Alonso (Renault): "The track conditions were certainly not ideal today, buy they were the same for all the teams and did not disturb our programme too much. We still have to make a few more improvements tomorrow, especially with the general balance of the car, but today's performance is encouraging for the rest of the weekend."
Nelson Piquet (Renault): "My day was pretty normal. The track conditions were relatively stable, even though it rained a little bit at the beginning of the afternoon. Overall I think that we have prepared well, and I am determined to make the most of the final practice session tomorrow."
Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India): "This morning I was really struggling with the balance and with the grip on the circuit, but then we made a few changes on the car and it felt much better, much more consistent so I think it was a good afternoon, it was definitely a step forward in the second session.'
Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber): "Unfortunately I didn't have too much time on the track this morning due to a small technical problem. We only did four runs and had to work on the tyres and the set up. We still have a few problems with the balance of the car, but tested several set up options which we will now evaluate and then choose the best one. I am confident for tomorrow."
Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber): "The trouble is I don't get the tyres heated up quickly enough. The long run wasn't bad. As soon as the tyres start to work, it is okay, but it takes too long to get there. We now have to work on that."
Jenson Button (Honda): "It was a bit damp when we first went out this afternoon but from then on the track was fine. This circuit is very tough without traction control and you could see that a lot of people were making mistakes but that does make it more fun to watch and drive. I was certainly enjoying it out there! The car is working better on the smoother asphalt here and we have made some changes to help with the ride quality, so for me the car feels better than in Barcelona."
Rubens Barrichello (Honda, on F1 race 257): "Most importantly, when I'm in the car, it's a normal weekend for me. It's fantastic to have the celebrations here, with all my family and the team, but on the track nothing changes. When I began my career back in 1993, I never thought that I would break this record, but now it really means a great deal to me."
EXCLUSIVE! Grand prix hero Emerson Fittipaldi has told Eurosport that Max Mosley should step down as the head of the FIA because his sexual indiscretions have overshadowed motor sport, while sharing his thoughts on the upcoming record of Rubens Barrichello.
Fittipaldi, winner of the Formula One drivers" title in 1972 and 1974, said he had nothing against the Briton, but he ought to stand down instead of fighting tooth and nail for his position.
"I think that his private life does not affect his presidency of the FIA, but it interferes globally for the sport," he commented.
"Unfortunately it has damaged the image of motor sport and he should consider leaving his position.
Asked for his personal experience of Mosley, who was caught engaging in a sexual role-play with five prostitutes that reportedly included aspects of mock-Nazism, he replied: "I always had a very good relationship with Max. He's a very normal guy, and he works very hard."
During the interview, Fittipaldi, now 61, was accosted by his two young grandchildren, visiting Britain from their home in the United States.
Shaking his head, he laughed about their fledgling careers in racing, highlighting the five-year-old's experience in particular: "He is crazy: he races 125cc already. He scares me! Racing is in their blood, I suppose."
In contrast, this weekend Fittipaldi's Brazilian countryman Barrichello, 35, will become the most experienced driver to have competed in the sport.
"I think it's incredible to be able to race for so many years and in so many grands prix," Fittipaldi said.
"I talked to him on the phone last week. He asked me how I was at the end of my career, because my last win came when I was 48, and what is he? Only 35, 36?
"I told him I was fine. He can go on for many more years if he wants to, as long as he has the passion."
Defending drivers world champion Kimi Raikkonen shrugged off a gearbox problem to clock the fastest time in second practice for Sunday's Turkish Grand Prix.
The championship leading Ferrari driver swept to the top of the time-sheets with a typically stylish performance in the rain-hit afternoon at the Istanbul Park circuit.
The Finnish racer finished bottom in the opening session after being restricted to just three laps of the 5.338 kilometre track by the technical fault as Ferrari team-mate Brazilian Felipe Massa set the pace.
But reigning champion Raikkonen, who leads the standings by nine points after four of the 18 rounds, deposed the Brazilian in the afternoon session after a short shower had hit the track.
The drivers, reduced to 20 after the demise of Super Aguri, were finding the cooler conditions tricky after the race was moved from its traditional August date.
Raikkonen, winner in Istanbul in 2005 for McLaren, clocked a best time of one minute 27.543 seconds.
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, last year's championship runner-up and second again this season, produced a late flying lap to get within 0.036 seconds of Raikkonen.
But the British driver, 23, looks to have a battle on his hands in the 58-lap race to prevent another Ferrari one-two.
Massa, who has won the event for the past two years in his Ferrari, was third fastest just over 0.1 seconds adrift of Raikkonen.
The Brazilian, 27, needs to make it three years in a row if he is to reduce his 11 point deficit to his team-mate who has won two of the opening races including the last grand prix in Spain.
Red Bull's Scottish driver David Coulthard, whose season has been marred by a succession of crashes, went fourth fastest late on.
Raikkonen's fellow Finn Heikki Kovalainen was fifth quickest as he showed no lasting problems from his horror smash in Spain two weeks ago when he rammed into a tyre barrier at around 165mph.
Poland's BMW Sauber driver Robert Kubica was the only other racer to get within one second of the pacesetter, finishing almost 0.9 seconds down in sixth spot.
But Coulthard's fellow Red Bull driver Mark Webber crashed out early in the afternoon session after losing control of his car at turn six.
Australian racer Webber, 31, drifted too wide and was sent spinning across the circuit before ramming into a barrier. The two front wheels of his car were ripped off although the crash was nowhere near as serious as Kovalainen's.
Webber ended up 19th fastest after managing just four laps with only Force India's German driver Adrian Sutil below him.
Honda will try to help Japan's Takuma Sato and Briton Anthony Davidson after the demise of the Super Aguri Formula One team, according to Honda F1 chief executive Nick Fry.
"It's something that we are thinking about at the moment. Obviously both drivers have done a super job over a number of years and if we can help, I'm sure we will," Fry said.
"But there's nothing planned at the moment."
Super Aguri were formed with Honda's backing at the end of 2005 after Sato was dropped by BAR Honda in favour of Brazilian Rubens Barrichello.
Sato, Japan's most successful Formula One driver, has been supported by Honda throughout his career while Davidson (pictured) was Honda's F1 test driver before joining Super Aguri last year.
Both were left out in the cold when Super Aguri founder Aguri Suzuki announced last Tuesday that the team were withdrawing for financial reasons after the collapse of a planned takeover.
Sunday's race will have just 20 cars on the track for the first time since 2005.
Former grand prix racer Suzuki was critical of Fry, who had played a central role in those takeover talks with Dubai-backed Magma, at a Tokyo news conference after the announcement.
The Briton, who had expressed scepticism about a last-minute rescue attempt by German Group Weigl and was accused of telling Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone days earlier that the team would not be racing in Turkey, said his conscience was clear.
"I'd be very interested to hear from the person who thinks we or I have any responsibility for the demise of Super Aguri," he said. "It's a business issue.
"I am sorry to see them go, not only from the point of view of some of the people there and obviously Anthony and Taku but also because we put a huge amount of effort into trying to find the appropriate partner.
"The principal effort was Magma DIC (Dubai International Capital) and that got within a hair's breadth of happening. We put a lot of work in and it would have been nice to see it come to fruition.
"I can understand Aguri's emotion," added Fry.
"To be fair to him, he'd just announced to the world that he was pulling out of Formula One and obviously there are fairly serious financial ramifications for him.
"The fact that he was quite emotional about it is no big surprise. This is a pure financial issue and some of the things that have been written about being allowed or not into the paddock are somewhat irrelevant."