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DATE News (chronologically)
03/02/16
nassprint

NASCAR hands out Atlanta post-race penalties
NASCAR released the Post-Event Penalty & Warning Report from Atlanta on Wednesday, among the penalties announced:

#78 Furniture Row Racing crew chief Cole Pearn has been fined $50,000, suspended from the next NSCS championship event [Las Vegas] and remains on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31; team has been assessed with the loss of 15 championship owner and 15 championship driver [Martin Truex Jr.] points for a roof flap violation at Atlanta.

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03/02/16
irl

Test At Sebring Is Latest Learning Experience For IndyCar Rookies
The learning process for Verizon IndyCar Series rookies Spencer Pigot and Alexander Rossi began in earnest when the calendar flipped from February to March.

The two American drivers drove their race cars for the first time as part of a two-day test at Sebring International Raceway as team's prepared for the March 13 Firestone Grand Prix of Sebring.

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03/02/16
irl

Rahal and Pigot Complete Final Test Day before St. Pete
Graham Rahal
Graham Rahal
Graham Rahal, 27, and rookie teammate Spencer Pigot, 22, completed the final test at Sebring International Raceway before the season-opening Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 13 and were pleased with the results. It was the second consecutive day of testing for Pigot, who was joined today by teammate Rahal. 

"I think the test went really well today," said Rahal. "I'm pleased with what we did. We didn't run until the very end of the day because obviously the track will continue to improve and be less and less St. Pete like but we did get some good development done today. I'm pleased with what we got done and pleased with where we stand. I think our pace was extremely good.

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03/02/16
ta

Trans Am set for an event 50 years in the making
Trans-Am at Sebring
Trans-Am at Sebring
On March 25, 1966, a field of 44 cars took to the course at Sebring International Raceway for the Sebring 4 Hours, commencing what would become a 50-year phenomenon know as the Trans Am Series.  On March 5, 2016, nearly 50 years to the day of that historic race, two Trans Am fields comprised of 79 cars will take to that very track in a celebration of five decades of America’s Road Racing Series while kicking off the 2016 Trans Am Championship.

The Trans Am Series season opener will be a true celebration of the Series’ history, pairing the modern Trans Am with the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) and the Historic Trans Am Series, creating an event that brings together the past and present of the iconic Series.  

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03/02/16
nassprint

NASCAR CEO's Trump endorsement draws fire
Brian France endorsing Donald Trump
Brian France endorsing Donald Trump
NASCAR CEO Brian France's endorsement of Donald Trump Monday generated a response from at least one of the sport's champions of diversity.

Marcus Lemonis, CEO of the Camping World truck series, tweeted: "There is no place for politics/any political endorsements in any business. Your customers and employees should have their own mind. #period."

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03/02/16
automotive

McLaren Automotive to spend $1.5bn on expansion plan
McLaren Automotive, part of the F1 group, has unveiled a $1.5 bn expansion plan to produce up to 15 new models and recruit 500 staff.

The six-year strategy aims to produce 15 new cars or derivatives of existing models and lift annual sales to as much as 5,000 cars, from 1,600.

At least half of the cars will have hybrid engine technology.

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03/02/16
gp3

Successful shakedown for the GP3/16 car in Magny-Cours
Jake Hughes (DAMS)
Jake Hughes (DAMS)
History was made today when the GP3 teams got their first experience of the brand new GP3/16 car at a non-official test in Magny-Cours circuit in France. Only one car per team will be used during the two-day shakedown in which the main focus is the reliability, with the teams learning how to operate the vastly different car, rather than chase lap-times. Newcomers to the Series, DAMS, also made their first appearance in the category at the shakedown.

The French squad were eager to show their fighting spirit by being first onto a wet track with British rookie Jake Hughes behind the wheel. Next out was former F1 driver Giedo van der Garde who was assisting Campos Racing with their program for the morning session.

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03/02/16
f1

Super-Soft tires put Bottas on top on Day 2
Valtteri Bottas
Valtteri Bottas

For the first time in two weeks Valtteri Bottas put Williams on top in Formula 1 pre-season testing at Barcelona thanks to the Pirelli Super-Soft tires.

The Finn clocked a 1m23.261s in the afternoon on the softest Pirellis, and he also completed a series of qualifying simulations on the soft tires.

Mercedes again split driving duties with Lewis Hamilton's fastest time from the morning, set on the soft Pirellis, 0.361 seconds off the pace of Bottas on the Super-Softs.

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03/02/16
nassprint
nasx

Toyota Las Vegas Notes & Quotes
Kyle Busch returns home for this weekend's Kobalt 400
Kyle Busch returns home for this weekend's Kobalt 400

HE’S COMING HOME: Camry driver Kyle Busch heads to his hometown of Las Vegas as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) points leader after earning third-place results in the season’s first two events. The defending series champion also earned his first NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) victory of the season last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Busch became the only NSCS driver from Nevada to win at the 1.5-mile track when he drove his Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 18 M&M’s Camry to victory lane in March 2009 after starting from the pole. He last visited Las Vegas in December, when the series celebrated his first, Toyota’s first and sponsor M&M’s first NSCS championship.

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03/02/16
nasx

JR Motorsport -- Las Vegas Preview
Elliott Sadler
Elliott Sadler
JR MOTORSPORTS TEAM PREVIEW:
TRACK: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
RACE: Boyd Gaming 300 (200 laps / 300 miles) DATE: Saturday, March 5, 2016

Elliott Sadler, No. 1 OneMain Chevrolet Camaro

“We learned a lot about our downforce cars this past weekend in Atlanta and are working to make some gains for Vegas. I am proud of the effort our OneMain guys have put in and I really feel like Kevin (Meendering, crew chief) and I are communicating well. Las Vegas is a great market for NASCAR and somewhere I always look forward to racing.”

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03/02/16
f1

'Musical chairs' F1 qualifying set for Australia
(GMM) 'Musical chairs'-style qualifying will take place ahead of the Melbourne season opener in just over two weeks.

Earlier, Bernie Ecclestone had said that although the F1 Commission approved the controversial shakeup, the software-writers at Formula One Management would run out of time to be ready for the first race of 2016.

However, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports on Wednesday that a compromise solution has been found, following a meeting between F1 race director Charlie Whiting and team bosses in Barcelona.

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03/02/16
nassprint

Extra track time for teams at Las Vegas
With the new low-downforce rules package for 2016 still in its infancy, NASCAR is giving Sprint Cup Series teams a little extra track time this week in Las Vegas. There are two test sessions scheduled Thursday, one in the morning and the other after lunch, to aid teams in preparing for Sunday's Kobalt 400. All told, teams will get five hours of test time on Thursday. There'll be one more practice session Friday morning before qualifying later in the day. Motor Racing Network ..... NASCAR has scheduled an all-day test session on Thursday at 9:00am, for the Sprint Cup Series teams, and Las Vegas Motor Speedway is opening the grandstands and Neon Garage for free to all race fans. In addition to the test, Brad Keselowski and Landon Cassill will visit the Neon Garage to participate in question-and-answer sessions with fans at 3:30pm.(LVMS

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03/02/16
nassprint

Las Vegas Goodyear Tire Notes
Teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series will run different tire set-ups at Las Vegas this weekend . . . this is the first time Sprint Cup teams have run either of these two tire codes . . . this right-side tire incorporates Goodyear Racing's multi-zone tread technology, which features two distinct tread compounds -- one for endurance and heat resistance on the inboard two inches of the tread and one for traction on the outboard 10 inches . . . compared to what was run at Las Vegas last season, this right-side code (D-4690) features the same compound on the inboard, with a different compound for more grip on the outboard . . . this left-side tire code (D-4680) also features a compound change to give more grip.

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03/02/16
f1

Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday (Update) UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

03/02/16
  • Marchionne tells Ecclestone that Ferrari can't support new confusing qualifying proposal
    Marchionne tells Ecclestone that Ferrari can't support new confusing qualifying proposal
    F1 under fire for 'unprofessional' qualifying farce
  • Ferrari Does Not 'Accept' New Formula One Qualifying Format
  • Alonso future depends on F1's 2017 revolution
  • Sauber may not be '100 per cent' in Melbourne - Nasr
  • Mercedes denies cracking 1000hp barrier
  • One-year deals for Magnussen, Palmer - boss
  • Bottas not among dieting F1 drivers
  • 2015 absence was Hockenheim 'wake up' - Ecclestone
  • Ecclestone Wants To Return To Africa, Add Second Race In U.S.
  • Alonso Announced as Official Ambassador for the 2016 Grand Prix of Europe! New
  • Pure Storage To Bring Mercedes AMG Petronas Data Advantage New
  • Leclerc/Haas F1 role still to be defined New

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03/02/16
automotive

Video: New Lamborghini Centenario unveiled at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show


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03/02/16
automotive

Android Auto Availability Expands on Select Chevy, Buick, GMC and Cadillac Models
A software upgrade enabling Android Auto compatibility for select 2016 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models equipped with the 8-inch infotainment touchscreens will now be offered to U.S. drivers. The upgrade will be performed by each brand 's dealer at no cost to consumers.

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03/02/16
racing news

Video: Managing Your Racing Career
No matter what level we’re racing at, we always face the same challenge - managing your career so you keep moving ahead.

It's part of the job: Connecting with the right people and finding the best opportunities to land those "good rides".

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03/02/16
pwc

Mazda Motorsports: 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Season Preview
Double the number of Mazda entries in 2016
Double the number of Mazda entries in 2016
Twenty-four Mazda race cars are ready for the season opening rounds of the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge|(PWC) at the Circuit of the Americas|(COTA) in Austin, Texas, on March 3-5. Independent Mazda racers will be challenging for drivers championships in the Touring Car (TC), Touring Car A (TCA) and Touring Car B (TCB) classes.

John Doonan, director of motorsports, Mazda North American Operations said, “Thanks to great customer support, our Mazda entries have doubled since last year. With the launch of our new Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires, for the fourth generation MX-5, the TCA class looks to be the ideal place to race the third-generation MX-5 Cup cars.”

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03/02/16
elms

The OAK Racing Ligier JS P3s to wear Ingenico Group livery
Three weeks before the start of the season at the official test session for the European Le Mans Series on the Paul Ricard circuit on 22-23 March, OAK Racing is pleased to unveil the 2016 livery of its nos 4 and 24 Ligier JS P3s in the colors of the Ingenico Group. 

The two OAK Racing sports prototypes will fly the colors of the Ingenico Group, world leader in the field of integrated payment systems, and the team's official partner in the 2016 ELMS. Thus, OAK Racing's traditional black and pink livery will be replaced by a brand-new design in the Ingenico Group's colors.

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03/02/16
wec

Manor WEC signs former-IndyCar driver, James Jakes
James Jakes
James Jakes

British driver, James Jakes, will return to Manor this season for his debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship. James had previously driven with the team during 2007 in Formula 3 and 2010 in the GP3 series, visiting the podium a number of times, before heading to the USA to compete in the IndyCar Series for the past 4 seasons.

This will be James' debut into endurance racing but he is no stranger to the big occasion having raced all over the world and taken part in the Indianapolis 500 three times.

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03/01/16
irl

Reigning Indy Lights Champion Pigot Completed His First Test Day with RLL
Spencer Pigot
Spencer Pigot
Spencer Pigot, 22, completed a trouble-free day of testing at the 1.65-mile Sebring International Raceway short course in preparation for his Verizon IndyCar Series debut at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 13. He completed 166 laps in what was his first time behind the wheel of an open wheel race car since clinching the 2015 Indy Lights title on Sunday, September 13 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. 

"The day was great,” said Pigot, who will continue testing tomorrow and be joined by teammate Graham Rahal. “Our approach was to just get me comfortable in the car and comfortable working with everyone on the team and I think that went very well, very smoothly. We were able to get going pretty well early on in the day and I immediately felt comfortable in the car. From then I just focused on getting used to it and improving my driving and improving the car as well. It was a great day; we made a lot of improvements in all areas. The guys worked really hard. It was definitely a very productive day that we can build on and learn more tomorrow."

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03/01/16
r2i

My Mazda Road to Indy: Meet TJ Fischer
TJ Fischer
TJ Fischer
PALMETTO, Fla. – Pursuing a racing career requires sacrifices, but few drivers have had to make the kind of choice that TJ Fischer did: continue playing college football, or put all his focus on auto racing. Four years after leaving his football pads behind, Fischer joins the Mazda Road to Indy, signing with Team Pelfrey in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda with the hopes of achieving his dream: a ride in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
 
Fischer’s family moved from Wilsonville, Ore., near Portland, to Vacaville, Calif., when he was 10 years old, but it wasn’t until the move to the city south of Sacramento that the racing bug hit in earnest.

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03/01/16
F1

Espresso Veloce - Engineered to Perfection
Formula One Engine inspired capsule-type espresso machine, manufactured from authentic aerospace alloys. Created as a tribute to automotive Design engineers, racing teams and automobile enthusiasts.

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03/01/16
f1

Marchionne says Ferrari against new quals format
Sergio Marchionne
Sergio Marchionne

Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne has called for a rethink over the idea of elimination qualifying in Formula 1, after saying that he isn't sure Ferrari can accept the proposed format writes Jonathan Noble of MOTORSPORT.

F1 teams approved a plan last week to bring in a knockout format on Saturdays, in a bid to mix up grids and deliver a more exciting spectacle on race days.

However, just a few days after the announcement, the planned introduction at the Australian Grand Prix has had to be delayed because Bernie Ecclestone's FOM company cannot prepare timing software in time.

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03/01/16
f1

Rosberg tops Day 1 of 2nd F1 test
Nico Rosberg
Nico Rosberg

Nico Rosberg set the pace as Mercedes used soft tires for the first time in 2016 pre-season Formula 1 testing at Barcelona on Tuesday as Mercedes begins to demonstrate its true pace.

The world champion team chose not to run any soft tires last week as it focused on logging mileage in search of reliability, with Lewis Hamilton and Rosberg managing 675 laps between them.

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03/01/16
nassprint

Roush Fenway Racing Lands Sunny Delight As Sponsor For No. 17
Roush Fenway Racing this morning is announcing a deal with juice drink Sunny Delight, which will be the primary sponsor of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s No. 17 Sprint Cup ride for four races in '16. The company also will sponsor Stenhouse for a Nov. 12 Xfinity Series race.

SunnyD was previously a partner with RFR when former driver Mark Martin carried the paint scheme in '90. Stenhouse’s other primary sponsors in the Sprint Cup Series include Fastenal, Zest and Fifth Third Bank. How much inventory left on the No. 17 was not announced. RFR landed and negotiated the deal in-house. Adam Stern/SBD

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03/01/16
f1

Mercedes calm makes Marchionne 'worry'
Sergio Marchionne (R) knows that Ferrari isn't going to beat the Mercedes designed by Italian Aldo Costa
Sergio Marchionne (R) knows that Ferrari isn't going to beat the Mercedes designed by Italian Aldo Costa
(GMM) Sergio Marchionne on Tuesday said the serene winter pre-season enjoyed so far by Mercedes makes him "worry".

Earlier, the Ferrari president had targeted a winning start for the red team at the forthcoming Melbourne season opener.

But that was before Mercedes began dazzling its rivals with lap after lap in Barcelona testing. "Around the world in four days," Marchionne smiled to Italian journalists at the Geneva Motor Show.

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03/01/16
f1

Video: Toro Rosso Launch - 1
From the AutoRacing1.com YouTube page - Shortly before the cars were back on track at the Circuit de Catalunya this morning, Scuderia Toro Rosso unveiled its 2016 World Championship challenger, the STR11, in its new livery. Includes pre-season interviews with Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen.

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03/01/16
f1

Video: Toro Rosso Launch - 2
From the AUtoRacing1.com YouTube page - Technical Director James Key and Team Principal Franz Tost discuss the STR11 and their hopes for the upcoming 2016 F1 season. 

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03/01/16
usac

Tulsa County Sheriff completes investigation into Stewart Chili Bowl incident
Stewart confronts Hess
Stewart confronts Hess
Tulsa County Sheriff completes investigation into Chili Bowl incident: A spokesman for the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office told NBC Sports on Monday that it has completed its investigation into an incident between Cpl. Kyle Hess, who was off duty at the time, and Tony Stewart at the Chili Bowl Nationals in January.

"The investigation into that incident has been concluded and handled according to policy," Dep. Justin Green, public information officer for the Tulsa County's Sheriff's Office, emailed NBC Sports.

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03/01/16
nassprint

Bosch renews Hendrick partnership
Bosch Automotive Aftermarket North America has announced a multi-year renewal of its technical partnership with 11-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports. Dating back to 2001 with an agreement to supply spark plugs to the racing powerhouse, the scope of the relationship has since expanded to include alternators, starters, oxygen sensors, fuel injectors and fuel pumps. Entering its 16th season, this partnership has yielded seven Sprint Cup Series championships and a wealth of knowledge and insights. Hendrick Motorsports engine builders have worked closely with Bosch engineers over the years to develop some of the most powerful vehicles on the track. Hendrick Motorsports

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03/01/16
nassprint

NASCAR boss Brian France endorses Trump
Brian France endorsing Donald Trump
Brian France endorsing Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump picked up a few more endorsements Monday, this time from the NASCAR world.

NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France appeared at a rally in Valdosta, Ga., to express support for Trump along with NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott and drivers Chase Elliott, Ryan Newman -- a Purdue University graduate -- and David Ragan.

"If the people that like and watch NASCAR vote for Donald Trump, they can cancel the election right now," Trump said to cheers. "Nobody else can win. Nobody."

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03/01/16
f1

Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
  • Nasr admits scoring points near impossible
    Nasr admits scoring points near impossible
    Nasr admits points will be difficult in 2016
  • Drivers not unanimous in supporting 'halo' concept
  • Marko praise means Renault step 'huge' - Berger
  • Hamilton must be 'driver' not 'rapper' for 2016 title
  • Final test will show Mercedes strength - Arrivabene
  • Alonso found 'happiness' at McLaren-Honda
  • Alonso confirms near Hamilton-Ferrari swap for 2015
  • US GP hopes buoyed as Austin lowers tax bill
  • King retains Manor development role
  • Barcelona pre-season testing (2): Day 1 line-up
  • Ericsson eyes consistent points finishes

Nasr admits points will be difficult in 2016
(GMM) Sauber is targeting the midfield in 2016.

Last year, the Swiss team finished a lowly eighth in the constructors' championship, and late on Monday it became the last team to unveil its new car for 2016.

It is notably similar to its predecessor, but driver Felipe Nasr, whose sponsor Banco do Brasil is Sauber's main backer, said the C35 is in fact a "new concept".

"I hope that the car is born well," the Brazilian, ahead of the Ferrari-powered machine's Barcelona debut on Tuesday, was quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

Designer Mark Smith says the C35 is based on a "slightly different aerodynamic philosophy", with boss and co-owner Monisha Kaltenborn declaring that the plan for 2016 is "to clearly improve".

"Obviously, there's a certain position we'd like to achieve. But, to start with, it's important to become established in mid-field. Only then are we going to focus on individual positions," she added.

Nasr agrees that Sauber's expectations for 2016 should be kept in check.

"To be regularly in the points would be a good target for us," he said. "Each team will be taking a step forward and I expect that the midfield will be very close.

"Driving in the top 10 will already be a big challenge."

There are three Ferrari-powered customers in 2016, but only Sauber and Haas will share the 2016-specification power unit with the works team.

The closely Ferrari-aligned Haas, therefore, has been singled out as a particular rival.

"With their resources, they can develop well and catch up quickly, even if it is difficult for any new team to come into formula one and master all the operational issues," said Nasr.

Hulkenberg wants to keep his head exposed so something like a flying wheel could hit him in the head and kill him just like happened with Surtees' son
Hulkenberg wants to keep his head exposed so something like a flying wheel could hit him in the head and kill him just like happened with Surtees' son

Drivers not unanimous in supporting 'halo' concept
(GMM) Not every driver is on board with F1's plans to cover the cockpits.

After Grand Prix Drivers' Association chief Alex Wurz declared recently that "all the drivers hope that passing the additional head protection will be a formality", the FIA duly cleared the path for its introduction in 2017.

During last week's Barcelona testing, however, Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg made clear his opposition.

"It's just a personal thing. I don't like it. For me, it (the F1 cockpit) should be open," said the German.

His comments follow a period late last year when teams were provided with a mock-up of the proposed 'halo', designed initially by Mercedes, in order to get driver feedback.

"I think maybe it was Nico Hulkenberg who said he wasn't really for it," Daniel Ricciardo told the Sunday Age newspaper, "but I think most of the other guys are (for it) so we'll see what happens."

The Red Bull driver said other drivers who were formerly opposed to covering the cockpits were convinced by the deaths last year of Jules Bianchi and Indycar's Justin Wilson.

But there are others, like Hulkenberg, who would prefer F1 stick to its roots.

"For me, safety is obviously on the agenda, but it is not a massive concern," Renault rookie Jolyon Palmer told PA Sport.

"I think IndyCar is quite different to formula one in that point of view," he said.

"A car (in IndyCar) hits the wall on the outside and all the debris has nowhere to go apart from back on the circuit. If you have an accident in formula one ... by and large if you hit a wall you are quite a long way from the track.

"I think we need to be careful not to go away from what formula one has always been, which is an open cockpit," Palmer added.

Dr Helmut Marko
Dr Helmut Marko

Marko praise means Renault step 'huge' - Berger
(GMM) Rare sounds of praise for Renault are emerging from the Red Bull camp ahead of the 2016 season.

Last year, the strained relationship between the two parties broke down completely, meaning Red Bull lost its title sponsor Infiniti and had to re-brand its customer supply of turbo V6 power as 'Tag Heuer' for the new season.

But Dr Helmut Marko, formerly the chief critic of Renault's slow progress in the 'power unit' era, is now sounding much more positive.

"The car is fantastic as expected," he told Germany's Auto Bild, "but I am especially satisfied by the work Renault has done over the winter.

"In terms of reliability and responsiveness of the Tag-Heuer Renault, they have done a step," Marko said.

Some analysts, however, question whether Renault has actually upped its game in pure horse power, but Marko said the marque's improvements are in fact "finally reflected in laptime".

Marko's comments are sure to raise eyebrows.

"If Helmut is praising Renault, then the step on the engine side must be huge," said former F1 driver and long-time Red Bull supporter Gerhard Berger.

And not only that, Marko said Renault is planning to take another big step forward after the first handful of races in 2016.

"There is a major performance update planned" for Canada, he told Auto Bild.

"Then, podiums on our own steam will even be possible," said Marko.

I'm cool dude
I'm cool dude

Hamilton must be 'driver' not 'rapper' for 2016 title
(GMM) The outcome of the 2016 world championship will depend in large part on whether Lewis Hamilton is sufficiently focused.

That is the view of Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 world champion and now an outspoken pundit, who thinks this year's battle could once again be a two-horse race between the silver-clad Mercedes drivers.

"To understand whether he (Hamilton) or Nico will be most competitive, first we will have to see if Hamilton's head is more with the rappers than on the track, as happened in the final races of last season," he said.

"We will have to see if he feels like a driver again," Villeneuve, speaking at the launch of Italian broadcaster Sky's F1 coverage for 2016, added.

Quoted by La Repubblica newspaper, Villeneuve was also critical of Fernando Alonso, arguing that the Spaniard priced himself out of the market for a more competitive seat in F1.

In moving to the struggling McLaren-Honda project, 44-year-old Villeneuve argued, "He made a risky choice, but we can hardly say 'Oh poor thing' given that he earns 30 million a year.

"Of course, few drivers would say no to that kind of money, but Alonso paid the price for his arrogance when he was angry with Ferrari.

"Although he says he made the right choice, it is impossible that he really thinks that. Vettel has already done better than him because he brought peace to Ferrari," he insisted.

As for whether Sebastian Vettel can really challenge his silver-clad rivals in 2016, Villeneuve is not sure.

"In my opinion," the former Williams driver said, "the Silver Arrows were never really pushed to the maximum last year. Definitely Ferrari will have made progress, but the first thing will be to see what level Mercedes is at."

And he thinks Vettel's teammate Kimi Raikkonen can also not be written off.

"He may be the surprise of the season," said French Canadian Villeneuve. "Last year he received a lot of criticism but he is a more serious and stronger driver than before."

Villeneuve does not, however, rate Red Bull's chances, particularly because of Daniel Ricciardo.

"He suffers a lot because of the pressure," he charged. "As soon as he became the first driver, he disappeared."

Maurizio Arrivabene is smoking something if he thinks Mercedes will show their full hand this week. They didn't show their full hand last year until the first race
Maurizio Arrivabene is smoking something if he thinks Mercedes will show their full hand this week. They didn't show their full hand last year until the first race

Final test will show Mercedes strength - Arrivabene
(GMM) Ferrari's hopes for 2016 rest on the progress Mercedes has been able to make over the winter.

That is the claim of Maurizio Arrivabene, the Ferrari team boss, amid media reports even the innovative new white and red SF16-H car might not be enough to prevent Mercedes from winning a third consecutive championship this year.

"The question is not 'How good are we?'" Arrivabene told the Italian newspaper La Stampa.

"It is rather 'How strong is Mercedes?' As they are still the best on the field.

"If we can stay for a moment in the language of football," the Italian continued, "they have the ball and we have to catch them on the wrong foot."

Arrivabene said Ferrari's engineers and drivers have no doubt the new car is good, "but we still lack the comparison with Mercedes under identical conditions.

"I guess in the next four days of testing, we will get a clearer picture of where we stand and where we still need to work," he added.

But Arrivabene said that, despite Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne having set the target of winning in Melbourne, the 21-race world championship will be played by the main protagonists as a long game.

"As in all businesses, it is your leader who sets the goals," he said. "The president has given us everything we asked for so it is right that he expects the best.

"What matters is the result at the end of November, but it is obvious that a good start would give us a boost," added Arrivabene.

Fernando Alonso happy at McLaren where he is a backmarker
Fernando Alonso happy at McLaren-Honda where he is a backmarker. He says Mercedes is running their own championship

Alonso found 'happiness' at McLaren-Honda
(GMM) Fernando Alonso insists that, although ultimate success in F1 has eluded him for a decade, he has found "happiness" with the McLaren-Honda project.

Some, however, see the Spaniard's situation vastly differently, after he left Ferrari amid apparent acrimony only to find a vastly less competitive alternative.

But Alonso, 34, scoffs at the retirement rumors.

"Never," he insisted to Cadena Ser radio when asked if he had even considered it.

"I never thought about retirement or a sabbatical. I do not think I am the most talented on the grid, but I think I am one who has worked the hardest to get the results in these 16 years.

"A withdrawal or a year out is unthinkable for my character," Alonso said.

He said an elusive search for a winning car is particularly common in the world of formula one.

"In sport only one can win, and in F1 winning is very predictable -- very early on you know you can or cannot win, which is cruel."

It might be said that after early success, Alonso's luck took a steady decline for the worst, first as he narrowly missed the title at Ferrari and now amid the deep McLaren slump.

Alonso disagrees.

"I don't think luck changes, it's just the nature of sport, with only one winner.

"At Ferrari we were close and now at McLaren we are starting a project that is still some way off. We are trying to improve, you always want it more or faster but my motivation is intact.

"Success is very temporary, it (the goal) is to find happiness in what you do because that way you perform better and better. I have found that in recent years," said Alonso.

That is not to say that 2015 was not frustrating for Alonso, as his desperate radio calls about Honda's "GP2 engine" and "embarrassing" situation showed.

"It was very hard," he said. "Frustrating, because you had no chance. We left the pits knowing that after 10 laps we would lose cylinders, or that the batteries would not last.

"I was not angry. The project was at an early stage and we all needed to pull in the same direction to mature it. And that's what we're doing."

Asked if he will have a car capable of being on the podium in 2016, Alonso answered: "We'll see.

"We are coming from a very low base so our need for improvement is great. To be up there, our improvement has to be huge."

He denies reports that Honda's horse power deficit to Mercedes is still 200hp.

"200 is impossible," said Alonso. "We will have less power for sure, between 30 and 80, but not 200.

"The feelings from the car are already good although I noticed there are improvements to do. But Mercedes is in another championship.

"I don't think we are far from a podium, although I would be surprised if we achieve this straight away, as in the first races we will not have everything in place."

That much was clear on the final day of the first Barcelona test last week, when Alonso's tally of 3 laps for the entire day reminded the F1 world of the team's woeful 2015.

"The last day of the week was very bad," he admits. "To change an engine takes three to four hours, and to repair what happened with us took eleven hours.

"I think F1 now is very complex to understand."

Asked if he likes F1 less today than when he won his titles, Alonso nodded: "Yes because the cars are slower. The aerodynamics now are very strict and the car weighs 120 kilograms more.

"But it has always been more of a championship for engineers than for drivers."

And yet, he insists he has never felt more supported by the fans.

"The audience and the popularity of F1 has fallen in all countries," Alonso said, "because the races are a bit boring and there is less interest. But for me I feel more love from the people."

Fernando Alonso still in denial Ferrari sacked him
Fernando Alonso still in denial Ferrari sacked him

Alonso confirms near Hamilton-Ferrari swap for 2015
(GMM) Fernando Alonso says he almost switched to Mercedes last year in a move that would have involved Lewis Hamilton replacing him at Ferrari.

As it became clear during the 2014 season that all was not well with Alonso and Ferrari's relationship, rumors emerged that the Maranello team and Mercedes might do a sensational driver swap.

"It was tried. Yes, yes, there was this offer," Alonso told Cadena Ser radio.

"There were the circumstances for this idea but in that moment Ferrari didn't want it. We were in full negotiations to renew with me until 2019, so in the end Ferrari did not convince me and I went to McLaren-Honda," he said.

"I don't know if Hamilton knew about it," said Alonso.

As for why he didn't stick around at Ferrari to reap the fruits of the fabled team's current resurgence, the 34-year-old explained: "I did not want to stay at Ferrari to be third until 2019.

"They were changing times at Ferrari and I still say that it was the right moment to close a wonderful story for me," Alonso said.

US GP hopes buoyed as Austin lowers tax bill
(GMM) Hopes are increasing that the embattled US grand prix will in fact take place in October.

Currently, the popular Austin race is marked as "subject to confirmation" on the 2016 calendar, after the Texan government reduced its annual contribution to the race fee from $25 million to less than $20 million.

But F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone told Forbes at the weekend: "I think Austin will happen this year.

"(Race chief Bobby) Epstein is confident. He knows the money is coming," Ecclestone told the F1 business journalist Christian Sylt.

The reason for Ecclestone and Epstein's buoyed mood may have been explained on Tuesday, in a report by the local Austin newspaper American Statesman.

It explains that the Circuit of the Americas has reached an agreement with local authorities to lower the paper value of the venue by a staggering $180 million.

The report estimated the tax saving at about $13 million.

Officials declared in a statement: "Circuit of The Americas is glad to have this matter resolved and looks forward to a bright future as a contributing member of the community."

Jordan King's check was only big enough to be a test driver
Jordan King's check was only big enough to be a test driver

King retains Manor development role
Jordan King will retain his role as Manor's development driver in 2016, the team confirmed ahead of the second pre-season test in Spain.

King, 22, joined Manor at the start of 2015 and sampled Formula 1 machinery for the first time during the post-race tire test in Abu Dhabi.

King will also continue to compete in the GP2 Series for Racing Engineering, having finished 12th overall in his rookie campaign last year.

"Spending time trackside with the team last year was really important for me and for where I want to get to," King commented.

"I saw all the processes and techniques that go into running an F1 team, plus I got a good grasp of how the tires work as well as the data.

"So when I got the chance to drive the MR03B in the Abu Dhabi test, it felt like I'd had a massive head-start and I was really confident.

"I racked up 300km in that test and loved every second in the car. But what I want to do now is race one and I'm flat out working to achieve that.

"Continuing in the development driver role with Manor is key to that progression.

"I'm excited to be working with Dave Ryan, Pascal [Wehrlein] and Rio [Haryanto] for the first time, as well as the guys I'm more familiar with."

Barcelona pre-season testing (2): Day 1 line-up
The second four-day pre-season test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is upon us and, to keep you up to date with who is in action, here is the driver line-up.

Running will take place from 09:00 to 13:00 and from 14:00 to 18:00 (CET).

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg (am), Lewis Hamilton (pm)

Ferrari
Kimi Raikkonen

Williams
Valtteri Bottas

Red Bull
Daniil Kvyat

Force India
Nico Hülkenberg

Renault
Kevin Magnussen

Toro Rosso
Max Verstappen

Sauber
Felipe Nasr

McLaren
Fernando Alonso

Manor
Rio Haryanto

Haas
Esteban Gutierrez

Marcus Ericsson hopes the new Sauber will bring consistent point finishes
Marcus Ericsson hopes the new Sauber will bring consistent point finishes

Ericsson eyes consistent points finishes
Marcus Ericsson is hopeful that Sauber's new C35 package will enable the team to fight for points on a regular basis in 2016, after its 2015 efforts faded away.

Sauber began the 2015 season with a sizeable 14-point haul in Australia, but added just 22 more over the remaining 18 Grands Prix amid a lack of development.

Ericsson, who continues as part of an unchanged driver line-up alongside Felipe Nasr, is optimistic of a more consistent challenge for the top 10 positions this year.

"The battle for positions is getting fiercer," Ericsson began.

"But I'm convinced that, with the new car, we're going to take a step forward so that we can finish in the points with greater consistency and under our own steam.

"Last year we managed a good start. In the second half it was a harder struggle for us to score points.

"This season I'd like to see us being in contention for points and fighting on a level where speed is decisive. I know that everyone at the factory is working very hard in this direction."

Nasr was a little more hesitant about setting goals, but nonetheless expects progress.

"It's difficult for me to predict how the positions behind the top teams are going to pan out this season – and where we'll be able to line up in that part of the field" he said.

"We're going to put innovations on the grid, but so are our competitors, and their efficiency remains to be seen. It's hardly possible to make any predictions under these circumstances.

"The whole team has been working very hard to explore areas in the car that we can improve. That's why I'm confident that we've made progress [over the winter].

"The season will show what positions we'll be able to achieve with it."



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02/29/16
v8

Kumho - V8 Touring Cars relationship expands in 2016
The ongoing partnership between the Australian V8 Touring Car Series and Kumho Tyre Australia will enter into a ninth year in 2016.

The lengthy partnership has seen the Kumho brand involved with the V8 Touring Car series since its inception in 2008 and as a naming-rights partner since the 2011 season.

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02/29/16
v8

Video: Watch driver pass 34 cars
His alternator belt broke during the first race, and the front of the car got bent pretty badly, so he was starting this second race in 49th place. It took him less than 30 seconds to start moving up, and once he got started, he saw no need to stop. By the time the race was over, he had passed 34 other drivers, moving into 15th place.


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02/29/16
fe

Mahindra Racing Seeks Fans' Help To Design Formula E Track In Delhi
Mahindra Racing "asked fans to design the Indian Formula E track in Delhi, following its successful showrun in the country earlier this month," according to Darshan Chokhani of MOTORSPORT.

The Indian Formula E squad revealed that it has received a "letter of intent" from the Indian Government which pledges the support for an ePrix in the city of Delhi from the officials.

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02/29/16
Irl

Mario Andretti gives some thrills by driving celebs around the Phoenix Speedway
Mario Andretti gives rides in Phoenix
Mario Andretti gives rides in Phoenix
Col. David Shoemaker is vice commander of the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, so he knows something about going fast. But getting a ride around Phoenix International Raceway from legendary Mario Andretti in the INDYCAR Experience two-seater Feb. 27 was enough to get the military veteran's heart racing.

"Riding in an Indy car with Mario Andretti would have been on my bucket list if I knew it was even a possibility. That's the absolute truth. That was unreal. Speed isn't new to me, but speed to us is at a reference of 500 feet, not at 1 foot over the ground. That was unbelievable, unbelievable. Great," Shoemaker said.

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02/29/16
nassprint

NASCAR paddock clueless as to why SHR is switching to Ford
Will John Henry shut down the Roush Fenway team, or will Jack Roush keep it going?
Will John Henry shut down the Roush Fenway team, or will Jack Roush keep it going?
According to AR1.com sources, the rumor on the street is that Roush Racing will no longer field a team after 2016 and Ford will lose 4 cars. Roush Yates will remain a Ford engine supplier in NASCAR. Knowing Roush was out, the sources say Ford went after a Chevy team to fill the void. While it is only a rumor, the rest of the paddock appears clueless to this rumor, or are doing a great coverup to save face for the series.

Hendrick Motorsports Owner Rick Hendrick indicated that he was "caught off guard" by Stewart-Haas Racing's decision last week to switch from Chevy to Ford beginning with the '17 NASCAR season, according to Jim Utter of MOTORSPORT.com.

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02/29/16
wscc

IMSA Sebring February Test Notebook
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida – The final test before the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, scheduled for March 19, wrapped up last week with two days of action on the historic Sebring International Raceway in Central Florida.

Thirty-six teams in four classes attended the test, run under cool, dry conditions that may well be the same the teams see at the second IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race of the season. However, Sebring has been known to throw curve balls weather-wise, making the always grueling race even more challenging. 

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02/29/16
wrc

Loeb joins Peugeot team
Sebastien Loeb
Sebastien Loeb
Nine-time FIA World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb will join Team Peugeot-Hansen to compete in all 12 rounds of this year’s FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy. Loeb will partner last year’s runner-up Timmy Hansen in a two-car squad with both drivers piloting a Peugeot 208 WRX Supercar.

Before the start of the season, Loeb and Hansen were put to the test in Hansen’s home country, over a challenging ice track on a frozen lake in Are, Sweden. Watch the team battle it out on this unique rallycross playground here.

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02/29/16
irl

Chaves to fill in for Aleshin at PIR and Sebring (Update)
UPDATE We now hear that Chaves will be in the car for this week's Sebring test as well as Aleshin continues to have Visa problems.

Visa issues for Mikhail Aleshin mean Gabby Chaves will drive the #7 Honda at PIR
Visa issues (or did his check not clear yet?) for Mikhail Aleshin mean Gabby Chaves will drive the #7 Honda at PIR

02/25/16

Phoenix, AZ - Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) announced today that Gabby Chaves will temporarily fill the seat of the No. 7 SMP Racing Honda entry during the Verizon IndyCar Series open test at Phoenix International Raceway.

Russian driver Mikhail Aleshin, SPM's contracted driver for the No. 7 car, is unable to attend the test due to last-minute work visa issues.

Twenty-two-year-old Chaves, who completed his rookie IndyCar season with Bryan Herta Autosport last year, finished 15th in the championship points standings. The Colombian-American driver had a season-best finish of 9th at the second Dual in Detroit race and lead 31 laps at the ABC Supply Co. 500 at Pocono Raceway.

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02/29/16
irl

Video: 2016 Phoenix Test Day 1


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02/29/16
irl

Video: 2016 Phoenix Test, Day 2


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02/29/16
nassprint

Hendrick will not replace Stewart-Haas lost business
Rick Hendrick
Rick Hendrick

Hendrick Motorsports won't look to replace the engine lease program and the chassis business it will lose when Stewart-Haas Racing moves to Ford starting next season, but it also does not plan to lay off any employees.

Team owner Rick Hendrick said Sunday that the decision "kind of caught me by surprise" but it was no surprise that another manufacturer would go after SHR. It will make for an interesting year as SHR remains a customer but one that will start building its own chassis and leasing engines from Roush Yates Engines next year.

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02/29/16
nassprint

RCR cars have parts impounded
Richard Childress Racing's three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars had trouble in pre-race inspection Sunday. After multiple trips through the line, NASCAR pulled the #3 of Austin Dillon, #27 of Paul Menard and #31 of Ryan Newman out of inspection and confiscated the braces in the right rear corners of their respective vehicles.

According to NASCAR, the parts in question were optional braces (brackets) in the rear-wheel area of the cars. NASCAR officials had them removed and will take the parts back to the R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina. No penalties are 'expected' according to NASCAR. NASCAR.com

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02/29/16
nassprint

Positive response to aero package from drivers
Johnson first to win with new aero package
Johnson first to win with new aero package
For a race with a mere three cautions, Dale Earnhardt Jr. found Sunday's event with the new low-downforce competition package exhilarating. "I loved it," Earnhardt said. "We were sliding around and driving the hell out of the car. I had a blast! I had some good races there on the track with the #2 (Brad Keselowski) and the #18 (Kyle Busch) and a bunch of guys. Man, it was so much fun. And I post old pictures online all the time of the '80s and '90s, and that's when racing was racing. That's when it was good. That's what they saw today."

Read more & Comment...
02/29/16
f1

Latest F1 news in brief - Monday
  • Ecclestone puts a stop to qualifying format that would have confused 99.9% of the fans
    Ecclestone wants to stop qualifying format that would  confuse 99.9% of the fans
    'Flop' qualifying shakeup may not happen
  • Renault to get started on 2017 car - Lopez
  • 2016 to be Mercedes versus Ferrari - Rosberg
  • Renault 'happier' team than McLaren - Magnussen
  • V8 Supercars threatens to quit Aus GP weekend
  • Ricciardo: Renault has made only minor progress
  • Sainz Jr: People will 'enjoy' STR battle
  • Haryanto: 'Huge difference' from GP2 to F1
  • Ultra Soft tire to appear at Canadian GP
  • Alex Lynn to Continue as Williams Development Driver

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02/29/16
nassprint

NASCAR's Sprint Cup Race In Atlanta Smallest In Nearly 20 Years
NASCAR today had its "smallest Sprint Cup field in nearly 20 years" when the Folds of Honor 500 began at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Only 39 cars started the race in NASCAR's "new 40-car maximum field, cut from 43." The most recent race without a full field came in June '14, when 42 cars "started the race at Kentucky." The last time a Sprint Cup race started with fewer than 40 cars was September '96, when an event at North Wilkesboro Speedway "was limited to 37 cars" ESPN.com

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