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Latest F1 news in brief
  • F1 figures farewell friend Dino Toso
  • More mistakes will cost contenders title
  • Renault finds secret to 2008 tire performance
  • McLaren's 'J-damper' secret now exposed
  • Top simulator gives Alonso edge for home GP

F1 figures farewell friend Dino Toso
(GMM)  Flavio Briatore, Eddie Jordan and former world champion Damon Hill were among the mourners paying tribute to formula one engineer Dino Toso at a private service near his Oxford (UK) home on Wednesday.

Toso, the 39-year-old former aerodynamic boss at Renault's F1 team, lost his long battle with cancer last week.

Former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan, who was Toso's boss at Jordan until he moved to Benetton (Renault) in 2001, told the Oxford Mail: "He was a very fit man and it was a blow when he got cancer -- he was given no time at all, particularly for someone who was so fit.

"The only time Dino went home was when he went to the gym," he joked.

1996 title winner Hill, also present at the service, was race engineered by Toso when a Jordan driver.

The Briatore-led Renault team said: "Dino was instrumental in building one of the sport's most successful aerodynamics departments, which helped the team win double drivers' and constructors' titles in 2005 and 2006."

More mistakes will cost contenders title
(GMM)  F1's championship contenders have identified finding consistency as the key to securing the 2008 title.

At the top of the current points standings is Lewis Hamilton, who has won more races than his challengers so far this season but also emerged from a couple of troughs.

"The most important thing now is consistency," the McLaren driver admits.

"This year, everybody's results have been more varied and every driver who has won a race has also failed to score on at least two other occasions," he said.

Five points behind Hamilton is Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, but his teammate Felipe Massa would be topping the charts if not for his engine failure near the end of an inspired drive in Hungary three weeks ago.

Raikkonen admits: "We haven't lost anything, but we need to get better results consistently.

"From now on, every single race will be extremely important and every single point will have a great value," the Finn explained.

Massa agrees that mistakes - whether their origin is driver error or car unreliability - will from now on spell disaster for the contenders' chances.

Referring to his Budapest engine failure, the Brazilian said: "We can't throw away points like that.

"We have to be as competitive as at Budapest, but we need to raise our reliability.  We can't repeat certain mistakes: we don't have any more excuses." 

Renault finds secret to 2008 tire performance
(GMM)  Renault may have stumbled upon the secret to getting the most out of Bridgestone's temperamental tires in 2008.

Up and down pitlane this year, a common theme has been competitors' difficulty in consistently finding performance from tires that seem hyper-sensitive to factors including temperature and pressure.

Renault, however, has enjoyed a run of improved form at the last couple of races, and the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport believes it knows the French squad's secret.

During Saturday morning practice at Budapest, observers wondered about the odd on-track behavior of Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet.

In the opening stages of the session, their R28s circulated notably slowly for a few laps, before recording a burst of full speed.

Auto Motor und Sport claims this deliberate start-stop preparation of the tires gave the drivers consistency and durability for the race.

"Tires have a memory," BMW-Sauber's technical boss Willy Rampf is quoted as confirming.

Interestingly, Sunday at Hungary was a notably poor showing for BMW, whose drivers complained about a massive lack of grip from their Bridgestone tires.

Only the action from this weekend's Valencia event will show whether Renault repeats its unique tire-preparation technique, and if the team's rivals attempt to emulate the routine.

McLaren's 'J-damper' secret now exposed
(GMM)  So-called 'J-dampers' are set to become commonplace on formula one cars, as the intriguing history of the previously secret technology is revealed.

We recently reported that Renault delayed debuting similar technology earlier this year because of the spy scandal surrounding engineer Phil Mackereth's defection from McLaren.

In the World Motor Sport Council hearings before Christmas, it was revealed that among Mackereth's McLaren drawings was a device referred to as a 'J-damper'.

"What's a J-damper?" Renault engineering chief Pat Symonds replied memorably to the press at Montreal in June.

Symonds' answer may have been disingenuous, but it subsequently emerged that Force India recently started using on its 2008 car what boss Mike Gascoyne referred to as an "inerter damper".

'J-damper' was simply a codename developed by McLaren and the technology's inventor to put their rivals off the scent of what the device actually did.

McLaren has been using the inerter damper since 2005 -- a year before Renault's mass damper system was banned.

It has emerged that, three years ago, McLaren penned an exclusive confidentiality agreement with the famous Cambridge University, the scene of the J-damper's birth and the owner of its patent.

Business Weekly reports that, with the McLaren agreement now lapsed, Cambridge has licensed the J-damper to the leading damper company and F1 supplier Penske Racing Shocks, thus allowing any other team to deploy the device.

Penske Racing Shocks' technical director Jim Arentz said: "We are confident that the ingenuity of Cambridge now combined with Penske ... will promote greater exposure of the inerter in motor sport."

Top simulator gives Alonso edge for home GP 
(GMM)  Renault does not possess one of the best driver simulators in F1, but the team's Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet are arguably now the best-prepared drivers ahead of this weekend's European grand prix at Valencia.

It emerges that Spaniard Alonso, who once derisively referred to Renault's own sim as a "Playstation", recently booked a full day at the wheel of what is said to be the best custom motor racing simulator in the world -- the one run by former Benetton technical chief Nick Wirth.

For some time, it has been known that Wirth Research's facility is used frequently by at least two unknown F1 teams.

It emerges that Brazilian rookie Piquet has sat at the controls on a number of occasions.

Located in Bicester (UK), it is similar to a flight simulator, delivering every bump and corner to its users from circuits modeled by GPS with realistic visuals.

The Spanish sports newspaper Marca said the cost of the simulator to customers is 7500 euros per day.

"The correlation between the simulation and reality is more than 95 per cent, depending on how much data we have," Wirth, who owned the Simtek F1 team in the mid-90s, said.

Like Renault, BMW-Sauber, Toyota and Force India also do not boast leading simulators.  Honda's Jenson Button said he learned the new Valencia layout on the team's Brackley machine.

"You're not getting the complete feeling of the car but you are gaining understanding of the distances and the braking points, so it's very useful," he said.

McLaren and Williams lead the way in terms of F1 teams' simulators, and Red Bull's is also said to be quite good, while Ferrari is working on installing what has been described as a "next generation" of simulators at its Maranello factory.

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