Head: F1 formbook set for shake-up - FORMULA 1


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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Head: F1 formbook set for shake-up

Formula 1 fans are to be treated to a big shake-up in the formbook in the first half of the season, judging by the surprising results seen so far at the Australian Grand Prix.

That is the view of Williams co-owner Patrick Head, who thinks that the introduction of new regulations has stirred up the order - but thinks things could change quickly as more established outfits catch up with the current pace-setters.

His comments come after teams that moved focus early to their 2009 cars, especially Brawn GP and Williams, led the way in opening practice - with McLaren and Ferrari much further down the order.

"The main reason McLaren are behind, if they are truly behind, is that they spent so much of their resource last year trying to win the championship,".

"Whereas Honda (now Brawn GP) as good as said [last season] 'we've given up on this year' after one or two races and spent all their time on 2009.

"I think the rate of development at McLaren will be very high. One of the interesting things is that the pecking order will change quite a lot in the early part of the year."

Williams driver Nico Rosberg was quickest in both free practice sessions on Friday and, although it was an encouraging start for the team, Head thinks Brawn GP is still the pace-setter.

"It was not too bad," said Head of the first day. "The guys have been doing their homework over the winter. We don't think we are the fastest car but I think we will be in the top half, which is not too bad anyway.

"I think the Brawn [car] looks pretty good and the Toyota doesn't look too bad. And it could well be that Ferrari are lurking back there and they are running 80kg [of fuel] or something, I don't know. So we will find out a bit more what is going in qualifying."

The build-up to the Australian Grand Prix was marred by the row over diffuser designs of the Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams cars - all of which pretty much dominated the times in first practice.

Head said he remained sure the design on his car was legal, and felt rivals were wrong to suggest that the speed shown by the 'diffuser gang' so far was purely because of the controversial concepts.

When asked if he felt it was a coincidence that the diffuser cars took six of the top seven times in opening practice, Head said: "It probably isn't, but then to be put it all down to that [is wrong]- maybe the teams that were inventive enough to come up with that [the diffuser] were inventive enough in other areas of the cars.

"It is like anything, if you look at that one bit, I don't think the Brawn is quick because of that one aspect.

"I think it is probably quite difficult for other teams to do the same thing very quickly, but teams like Ferrari and others, they have got great resource and I have no doubt that they will be catching up - and I think the Ferrari is pretty quick."

Head also rubbished suggestions from BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen that F1 would be heading towards a new ground-effect era if the diffuser designs were given the all-clear by the FIA appeal hearing on April 14.

"That is just scare tactics," said Head. "You are talking about fractions! That is just a spoiling tactic. If he really wants that, we will have to put the skirts back on the car. That's just saying they've got a toy that we haven't got. It's silly stuff really."