Alonso dominates on day of debate

After the usual Friday runners - Sauber-BMW's Robert Kubica, Honda's Anthony Davidson and Alex Wurz of Williams-Cosworth - set the initial pace, times corrected for likely fuel load suggest that the Renaults of Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella enjoyed a half-second advantage over Michael Schumacher's Ferrari. At this stage it appears likely that it will be business as usual for the championship leaders in the French Grand Prix here tomorrow after the Indianapolis hiatus, where Michelin had to be conservative on tyre choice.

"So far, so good," Alonso said.

"The situation looks pretty good," Schumacher said.

But beneath seemingly calm waters, tensions remain high in Formula One. Manufacturers and the FIA, the sport's world governing body, continue to dispute the FIA's aspiration to "take a 21st century view of engine development", according to a spokesman, "rather than a 20th century view".

"Instead of spending vast sums on an endless quest for more revs and more power, we want the focus to switch to achieving maximum power and performance from a given amount of fuel, then recovering and reissuing as much of that energy as possible." In other words, making Formula One more relevant as a road-car research vehicle.

Whatever happens, the 2008 championship, to which all of the existing teams plus Prodrive have signed up, will be run with engines frozen to the specification that prevailed on 1 June 2006. The manufacturers are still arguing over what happens in 2007, before the existing Concorde Agreement is replaced by a new one in January 2008.

Meanwhile, the independent teams are flexing what limited muscle they have; the present Concorde Agreement requires unanimity. The independents will not agree to everything the manufacturers want in terms of engineering freedom because they have seen no sign of the £10m engines that the manufacturers promised three years ago.

They argue that it makes more sense for the manufacturers to stump up that sum between them, per year, to fund an independent engine of similar power and torque to the major teams' units, than it does collectively to invest perhaps more than £1bn in 2007, only to have to revert to mid-2006 spec power units in 2008. In return for that, they would agree to proposals for increased scope for development that the manufacturers want to put to the FIA for 2008 onwards.

It is the typical Formula One impasse, where self-interest often overrides other considerations.

For their part, the manufacturers have concerns. The 2008 development freeze appears to give an unfair advantage to Renault and Ferrari, who currently have the best engines. They also argue that equal power levels would lessen overtaking, and rob the sport of the development challenge that makes it so exciting. And that Formula One would be less interesting for current and future engine manufacturers.

One manufacturer-based insider said: "I honestly can't tell you whether any manufacturer will actually quit F1 over this, but if it were my brand/budget participating, I would certainly ask myself whether the playing field has just become less level, and whether I will ever have a realistic chance of winning the way the rules would be framed."

There is also a feeling that while they have kept their part of the deal with the FIA (by submitting their 2008 entries on time despite a schedule brought far further forward than usual, participating in all technical and sporting working group meetings, casting their votes, and generally keeping calm and constructive), its president, Max Mosley, is once again running roughshod over them.

The day ended with the McLaren principal, Ron Dennis, suggesting that it is "completely possible" that the Nascar-exiled Juan Pablo Montoya might yet reappear in Formula One this year. The gist was that the "employee" needed a period of "attitude adjustment". Cynics believe Honda will win a race before that happens, however.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Alexis Sanchez, Alan Pardew and Graziano Pelle
footballAfter QPR draw, follow Villa vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs Hull and Swansea vs Southampton
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam