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GP Week : Issue 96
Rossi will be involved from its inception; the 2012 Duke will be his bike even more than the M1 Yamaha. This improves his chances significantly. He leaves a company about to lose the senior guiding hand of Masao Furusawa, architect of Yamaha's MotoGP success, and the influential voice on the board that kept sufficient budget available for racing, even while sales were slumping badly. Without him, it's easy to see a major change in policy, with racing on the back burner, and the 2012 Yamaha seriously compromised as a result. Over at Ducati, Rossi will be working hand in hand with Filippo Preziosi, a remarkable engineer who has overcome paralysis (bike crash) to head the design of the highly successful Italian alternative. His record is good: Ducati adapted fastest to the new 800cc rules, winning the 2007 title with Stoner. The possibility that Preziosi and his new partner can do it again gives Valentino his best chance (short of rejoining Honda) in becoming the first ever champion on three different makes. GPWEEK OPINION >> -- by banning radios at changing for the better at Jerez '97. Those directions were all to be heard on the radio. Others have hit out at Eddie Jordan for criticizing Ferrari, in light of the orders that were issued at Spa '98. But that was different, because Ralf Schumacher was instructed to hold station and not attempt to pass Damon Hill for the lead. Jordan did not order a change of position. That's just risk management. And Couthard and Hakkinen, at Jerez, didn't trade the lead -- they were second and third at the time. Should that make a difference? Probably not, but it isn't as in your face as a change of position for the lead. I think the WMSC need to consider this now and in future. Team orders can be tolerated to an extent, but when you're changing the lead -- manipulating the result, to use an Alonso phrase (ironically) -- you really are sticking two fingers up at the sport. So it needs to be communicated to the teams that orders at the very front will not be tolerated. I have to say -- and I've said it already -- a $100,000 fine isn't sufficient. That won't even buy you the engine in a 458 Italia. But I disagree with Lauda -- I believe the FIA will want everyone to move on, and will therefore sweep it under the carpet. If you want to curb team orders -- and I think we're agreed this is what the public wishes to see -- you need to ban pit-car radios. I like having the radio transmissions broadcast, it provides some interesting insight and often some juicy quotes. But teams are able to use imaginative codes. A ban on radios wouldn't prevent teams briefing their drivers beforehand: "Felipe, if Fernando is behind you, you pull over. Capiche?"But without the instruction being repeated in the race, in the heat of the moment, only a complete doormat of a driver would agree to relinquish the lead. Felipe had to be told to yield repeatedly before he actually did so. Of course, going back to Coulthard and Hakkinen, DC did hand the Finn the lead in Melbourne '98, on the basis of their 'gentlemen's agreement' without any radio encouragement. Doormat or honorable chap, it's open to interpretation. I'm sure Coulthard felt it was the best career move. But I think a proper racing driver should be prepared to piss on his own chips if he's got a victory in sight. 21