Although he didn’t go to the Australian GP, Bernie Ecclestone caused a stir by insisting that the event become a night race in the future in order to appease European TV viewers. The local promoters insisted that they would run the race no later than 5pm next year. Melbourne’s current deal ends in 2010.
Pedro de la Rosa has been elected chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers Association as successor to Ralf Schumacher, who has moved to the DTM. Although not currently racing, the Spaniard is present at all the GPs in his role as McLaren test driver and is respected by his peers. Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Räikkönen are among those drivers who have declined to join the organisation.
Modifications to the FIA sporting regulations were given an early test in Melbourne. Timo Glock received the first five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change within the four-race requirement after suffering problems on Saturday morning in his Toyota. Force India’s Adrian Sutil was the first driver to have to start from the pitlane after a change of chassis following a qualifying crash, and also the first to play his joker by having a ‘free’ engine change. Since he was starting in the pits anyway, the lack of a 10-place penalty was not of much benefit…
Former British Formula 3 champion Marc Hynes broke the Donington Park short circuit lap record in his first test in the Jaguar R5 that will be used in the new FV10 programme this year. Hynes set a time of 55.5sec in the Cosworth-powered car. FV10, set up by Cars International boss Paul Osborn, is a new scheme allowing customers to drive modern-day Formula 1 cars.
The annual Grand Prix Ball is due to take place on July 5 at Stowe House, near Silverstone, following the Banbury Cricket Club match between the Eddie Jordan XI and Banbury XI. Over the past 21 years the club has raised over £10 million for charities such as the NSPCC, Mencap and the Tsunami Disaster Appeal.