World championship leader Fernando Alonso says he is not worried that Michael Schumacher’s emphatic US Grand Prix will usher in a period of Ferrari dominance.
Schumacher’s Indy win trimmed Alonso’s title lead to 19 points, but the Spaniard is confident it did not signify a major shift in the balance of power between Renault and Ferrari.
And he is unconcerned by the Maranello squad’s pace of development.
“I don’t think they are developing so quickly,” Alonso said at Magny-Cours on Thursday.
“We are so dramatic after one race at Indianapolis.
“They improved a lot from Imola, but after that we won Monaco, Spain, Silverstone and we forgot about the development of Ferrari.
“Now after one race everyone is carried away by Ferrari.
“I think we have to take a more general view of the championship, and hopefully we can keep the advantage over them.”
Alonso says his North American trip was a successful exercise in damage limitation, given that the Ferrari/Bridgestone combination was expected to have the upper hand there.
“[North] America was perfect for me,” he said.
“I scored 14 points whereas last year I scored zero. I only scored four points less than Michael.
“It’s something that we expected.
“I think we can come back in Europe again and hopefully we will have some advantage here.
“The tyres will be better now so we will see this weekend.”
Jacques Villeneuve, who like the departed Juan Pablo Montoya faces the prospect of losing his F1 drive, has hit out at teams' new philosophy of choosing young stars over established veterans.
The French Canadian, with his current contract soon to expire, is locked in a battle to convince BMW Sauber bosses that his credentials are worth more than the unproven potential of a rising talent like Robert Kubica.
Similarly, at Renault (Heikki Kovalainen), Ferrari (Felipe Massa) and Williams (Nico Rosberg), team chiefs are increasingly ignoring old hands because fresh faces are cheaper.
Asked if Montoya's McLaren exit was exciting because it opened the door for youngsters like Gary Paffett and Lewis Hamilton, 35-year-old Villeneuve said: "If (his 2007 replacement) is a 20-year-old just out of Formula Ford, it won't be (exciting), because he will be groomed so correctly.
Villeneuve thinks teams are mistaken if they are trying to emulate Renault's Fernando Alonso model. "It's worked with one person," he told the Sun, "but what they don't realise is it hasn't worked with 20 others."
Villeneuve indicated that his prospects of landing a big drive next year are unlikely, commenting: "I give very good value but it seems experience is not wanted."
The FIA announced today that the World Motor Sport Council, following a fax vote, has approved the Formula One Commission’s proposed changes to the 2006 and 2007 Formula One Sporting Regulations.
The changes for the 2006 regulations will come into effect this weekend at the French Grand Prix. The final part of qualifying reduced from 20 minutes to 15 (hoping to eliminate the tedious fuel burning process) while the terminology is changing with each phase of qualifying now referred to as Q1, Q2 and Q3. In addition, there are minor timing changes to the procedure ahead of the Grand Prix start.
Most significantly, changes to the 2007 Sporting Regulations will see the third cars eliminated from Friday practice.
As it stands, teams that did not finish in the top four in the constructors' championship in the previous year can run a third car in Friday practice.
This has now been outlawed for the 2007 season. In addition, only two specifications of tyre can be supplied to the field next season. The current rule allows two specifications per team.
With third cars eliminated from Friday practice, the theory is that the race drivers will have to undertake additional running. It remains to be seen if this will be the case without further changes to the regulations.
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