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Monday, August 31, 2009

Force India, Luca and Fisi, Jenson Button and race fixing: It’s the post-Belgium F1 roundup

Force India is warning it’s Spa performance was no one-off, and with Monza being another low-downforce track, another good performance could be in the cards.

F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Race

“Why not?” AUTOSPORT quotes team owner Vijay Mallya. “We know that the car is quick, blindingly quick I would say. The sector times show it and I think the Monza track will suit us.”

It’s beginning to look like Mallya’s hands-on approach is paying off. But don’t think it will alter his approach to the rest of the season.

“It's just too early, I'm just trying to assimilate it all. We will talk about targets later on.”

Meanwhile, Mallya says he has had no contact with Ferrari regarding Giancarlo Fisichella.

Rumors began circulating last weekend Ferrari was interested in securing Fisichella’s services for Monza following another difficult outing for Luca Badoer.

The other variable in the mix? Felipe Massa, who may be well enough to return by the Italian Grand Prix. A decision is pending a medical evaluation in Miami.

“I can't comment,” he said, according to AUTOSPORT. “Ferrari hasn't come to me, Fisichella hasn't come to me. His manager hasn't come to me. This is all speculation.”

AUTOSPORT makes mention of outstanding debts Force India has with Ferrari from its customer engine days, but refuses to speculate what effect that may have on the situation.

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali defended his longtime test driver’s last place performance at Spa, his second in the last two races.

“Luca did the best he could and this win also reflects his contribution within the team,” Formula1.com quotes Domenicali. “Now we will take a few days to evaluate his immediate future, also based on what Felipe’s recovery time might be.”

Predictably, the Italians are calling for Badoer’s replacement, and the English media have labeled him “Look How Bad You Are.”

For his part, the under fire Badoer doesn’t think he should be replaced, despite his fastest lap at Spa being nearly a second and a half off the pace of the next slowest car.

“Monza, Mugello and Fiorano are the tracks where I have driven most in my life. It would be absurd and I would be very disappointed, because I am convinced that at Monza I have the feeling needed, Reuters quotes the Italian. “Going to a track that I could drive with my eyes closed, I am sure I could get a good result. If I had to set myself a deadline, maybe I would do it for after Monza. I would be the first to say ‘lads, it's not working out’.”

Red Bull: Jenson will soon feel the pain

After escaping the fiasco which was his Belgian weekend, Jenson Button cannot continue to turn in poor results if he expects to win the championship, so warns Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

“Rubens has taken 10 points out of him in the last two races and Sebastian six points here, and he's not had a good weekend since Istanbul in early June,” AUTOSPORT reports Horner said. “He can't continue to have race weekends like he's had without being punished points wise in the next couple of events. It's still a four-horse race between now and the end of the championship.”

And Horner made it clear Red Bull will not be playing favorites with its drivers.

“It's all left to play for, and I think there's going to be another twist in the championship between now and the end of the year. Sebastian has moved to within 19 points, and although Mark didn't score, both still have a real chance of overhauling over him. With one-and-a-half-points between the drivers it would be wrong at this stage to back one over the other. We'll continue to do what we've done all year and support both of them with equal priority.”

Of Renault and race fixing?

The FIA confirmed it is investigating allegations concerning events at a previous world championship race.

Speculation is it the FIA is looking into 2008’s Singapore Grand Prix, based on a report out of Brazil that Renault ordered Nelson Piquet to purposely crash his car in order to create an ideal situation for teammate Fernando Alonso.

Piquet crashed into the wall, bringing out the safety car. Alonso, who gambled on a short stint, had already pitted when the safety car came out, and jumped to the front of the field. He went on to win the race.

At the time, Piquet said the accident was do to an error. Given the season he was having, that was not far-fetched.

Joe Saward gives his take here. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


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