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DATE News (chronologically)
Recent IndyCar test times from Sebring  
Pos Driver Team Best Lap
1 Mike Conway Andretti Autosport 52.76s
Tie Alex Tagliani Sam Schmidt 52.76
3 Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold 52.94
4 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport 53.23
5 Simona di Silvestro HVM 53.25
6 Sebastian Saavedra Conquest 53.27
7 Danica Patrick Andretti Autosport 53.38
8 Sebastien Bourdais Dale Coyne 53.42
9 Charlie Kimball Ganassi 53.58
10 Ana Beatriz Dreyer & Reinbold 53.74
Although Schumacher fastest, Brawn cautious  
Much to the chagrin of the British F1 media who had to endure many long seasons watching Michael Schumacher (now past his prime) destroy the best England had to offer.  It now appears the old man has the measure of his younger teammate Nico Rosberg.  But will the Mercedes have the pace to beat Adrian Newey's spectacular Red Bulls?
Despite setting the pace at Barcelona on Friday, Ross Brawn reckons Red Bull enter the 2011 season as the 'reference point' for their rivals.

Old man Michael Schumacher gave the youngsters a driving lesson on Friday at the Circuit de Catalunya, clocking a 1:21.249 as he ran Mercedes GP's updated package, which included a revised front wing and new turning vanes.

However, he wasn't the only Mercedes driver near the front of the timesheets as Nico Rosberg was third quickest when he hit the track in the afternoon, just 0.539s behind his teammate.

Team boss Brawn says reigning World Champions Red Bull Racing will be the team to beat when the season kicks off in Australia later this month.

"Red Bull has clearly gone into this year in quite a strong position and that is who I anticipate will be our reference point in the early point of the season," said Brawn. More ...

Racing News
David Brabham to race in GT1  David Brabham will race in the GT1 World Championship with Sumo Power Nissan this year, driving  the team's #21 with Jaime Campbell-Walter.

"When I was at the FIA awards ceremony in December, I saw the GT1 trophy being presented and I thought how cool it would be to win it," said Brabham, who has twice won the GT1 class at Le Mans as well as taking outright victory with Peugeot in 2009.

"Therefore, I was delighted when the opportunity came up to join Sumo Power GT. I'm now really excited to be part of the team and the FIA GT1 World Championship.

"The series has all the right ingredients and I like the format of the races. A reflection of its credibility is the number of top-level drivers that are taking part, which means there's a lot out there that could win the title - and of course, that includes the drivers in the two Nissan teams."

Ecclestone hires a German lawyer  
Diminutive Bernie Ecclestone with his ex-wife Slavica and his two hot daughters
It has been a while since there we last heard any news in the papers about Gerhard Gribkowsky, the former chairman of F1's commercial rights holding company SLEC, who is currently in prison in Munich. Gribkowsky has been in a cell since January when he was arrested on suspicion of taking a $50m kickback for allegedly undervaluing a 47.2% stake in SLEC which his former employer, German bank BayernLB, sold to F1's current owners CVC in 2006.

Over the past two months the German media has been awash with speculation that F1's boss Bernie Ecclestone paid the $50m to Gribkowsky in 2006 and 2007 in return for him undervaluing the shares. Pitpass' business editor Chris Sylt has debunked this theory and concluded that it was as good as impossible that the shares were undervalued.

We are now more than two months into Gribkowsky's imprisonment and, surprise surprise, still no one has been arrested for paying the alleged bribe to undervalue the shares. Last month Sky News' business editor Mark Kleinman reported that an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the sale had been launched by CVC and SLEC's ultimate parent company Delta Topco. More at TotalF1.com

Final F1 test day morning washed out  The final day of pre-season has got under way in torrential conditions, with standing water pretty much covering the entire length of the Circuit de Catalunya.

Only four teams - Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Williams - are still testing at the circuit after seven of the others opted to run over the previous four days when the circuit was dry. HRT had planned to give its 2011 car its track debut on Saturday, but due to parts getting stuck in customs is unable to run.

After an hour of the morning session, Michael Schumacher and Pastor Maldonado were the only two drivers to brave the treacherous conditions, both completing single installation laps and returning to the pits.

Las Vegas Police still looking into Gordon-Conway incident  Las Vegas Police are still investigating a scuffle between NASCAR drivers Robby Gordon and Kevin Conway last week that prompted the racing series to place Gordon on probation. Las Vegas police Officer Bill Cassell said Friday that no significant injuries and no damage resulted from the March 4 altercation in a garage parking lot at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Cassell says no witnesses were immediately identified after Conway filed a police report alleging misdemeanor battery. The results of the police investigation will go to the Clark County district attorney. Conway briefly drove for Gordon in the Sprint Cup Series last year, and the drivers are suing each other. ESPN/AP
McNish Appreciates Sebring’s Toughness  
Audi driver Allan McNish greatly respects the tradition of Sebring, as he explained on Speedtv.com: "The track is historic in every sense of the word. I have in my hand a DVD of the movie Speed Merchants from 1972, and it has Vic Elford and Mario Andretti racing throughout that season. If you look at Sebring from that video in 1972, you'd be hard-pressed to find any real differences on the track itself in 2011. And that's one of the great features about the track; I'm not complaining whatsoever. It's a compliment, actually."

"As it gets older, it gets bumpier and more worn, and I must say, those are the things that give it character and personality. I'd say Sebring gets grumpier each year like an old man; it doesn't like to be driven over as much as it did in its youth. Because of the bumps, you spend more time in the air at Sebring than at any other track, but again, there's nothing like it anywhere else in the world. That's one of the points I like about it. It's not like some of the tracks today that are perfectly manicured or don't present a serious challenge to the drivers. Sebring doesn't adapt to us, we have to adapt to it." More ...

Audi Bids Farewell to R15 at Sebring  
Audi starts the 2011 sports car racing season at Sebring on March 19 by making its final appearance with the Audi R15 TDI, which had to be modified to comply with the new regulations and which carries the project name "R15 plus plus." Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Mike Rockenfeller, last year's Le Mans winners, as well as Dindo Capello, Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen will drive the two diesel race sports cars at America's premier sports car endurance race. After Sebring, the team will switch to a new R18 prototype.

The new LMP1 prototype regulations limit engine displacement for new models such as the Audi R18, which will contest its first race in May, to 3.7 liters. Older cars like the Audi R15 TDI will be slowed down accordingly. Therefore, the 5.5 liter V10 engine in the Audi R15 TDI must now draw air through two intake-air restrictors four millimeters less than before. At the same time the boost pressure is reduced by 23 percent and the fuel tank may only hold 65 instead of the previous 81 liters of diesel. More ...

Record book takes at beating in Gainesville  Both ends of the Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle national records were toppled during a record-shattering opening day at the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. Rodger Brogdon leads the Pro Stock field with his record run of 6.495. Tony Schumacher, Matt Hagan, and Hector Arana lead the other fields at the second of 22 races in the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.

Hagan continued his torrid run dating back to the end of last year by earning the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car on the first day of qualifying at the 42nd annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals Friday.

Hagan, who has been to the final round at four of the last five races including his runner-up at the 2011 season-opening Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals, secured the provisional No. 1 with a track-record 4.030-second pass at 309.84 mph in his DieHard Dodge Charger. More ...

No testing for HRT's 2011 car  
The new HRT F111
(GMM) HRT will not test its newly-launched 2011 car.  The F111 was rolled into the Barcelona pitlane on Friday but not tested due to some missing parts.

And the Spanish team said it will also not run on Saturday - the final day of pre-season testing - "due to a customs problem". More ...
IndyCar announces details of side-by-side restarts  Drama will be intensified at IZOD IndyCar Series races this season with the inclusion of side-by-side restarts at all venues, starting with the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 27.

The IZOD IndyCar Series decided to adopt side-by-side restarts on road and street circuits following input from its drivers and teams, complementing the rule on ovals announced Jan. 11 by president of competition and racing operations Brian Barnhart.

"After seeking input following our initial restart announcement, we felt it was best to be consistent with the rule and use it at every track," Barnhart said. "Whether on short ovals, superspeedways, temporary circuits or road courses, side-by-side restarts will certainly be entertaining and further intensify our on-track action.

"We are still contemplating adding a 'free pass' element, often referred to as 'Lucky Dog' by TV commentators, to the restart procedure but we want to hear from the fans." More ...

Pagenaud completes Highcroft line-up  
Simon Pagenaud
French ace Simon Pagenaud has been confirmed as part of Highcroft Racing’s driver line-up for next week’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring – reuniting last year’s ALMS championship driver line-up.

Pagenaud will join his regular partners David Brabham and Marino Franchitti aboard the HPD ARX-01e - the new LMP1 machine set to be shaken down at Sebring this weekend.

Pagenaud joined Highcroft for the first time last season and helped the team to three overall victories, a Petit Le Mans LMP2 class win and the overall championship.

“It is fantastic news that we are all back together as a team,” Pagenaud said. More ...

Q & A with Kurt Busch on his NHRA debut  NASCAR driver Kurt Busch will make his NHRA professional debut in this weekend's Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville, driving a Shell-backed Dodge Avenger for Allen Johnson and J&J Racing.

Q: It's going to be very interesting for you this weekend. Tell us about your desire to race here in Pro Stock.

KURT BUSCH: Well, last year, with the weather the way it was and I know that it's going to be clear and sunny for the rest of the weekend, being in the garage, we sat there watching rain for four days. I'm like, really, this is my off weekend from Cup. I only have three or four a month, we are so busy on the Cup circuit but I'm a car guy and I wanted to be here racing and I only got to make two passes last year. More ...

Andre Azzi Still Committed to Developing Canadian IndyCar Drivers  André Azzi of the FAZZT Race Team says that he is still working hard to create a new Canadian driver development program. Azzi is currently consolidating his position so he can successfully carry out his wide-scale project.

To this end, Azzi sold his assets to Sam Schmidt Motorsport, a transaction he deemed strategic given changes in frame and engine regulations that will become effective during the 2012 IndyCar season. The transaction enabled Azzi to sell equipment he would have had to replace next year, while providing him with the leverage he needed to come back strong in 2012. More ...

Honda USA to Support US Touring Car Championship  The Nitto Tires United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) announced today that Honda Performance Development (HPD), a subsidiary of American Honda, will provide cash awards for teams competing in Honda cars in the USTCC in 2011.  Under the program rules, teams using 2006 and newer Honda Civics will be eligible to win as much as $1000 for a win in USTCC with an additional $2000 bonus for winning the championship.  Teams need to follow certain guidelines and meet eligibility requirements which can be obtained at www.ustcc.com.

“It is fantastic to have Honda officially on board as a contingency program supporter.  With Honda joining several other manufacturers providing cash awards for racing their brands, this could only be great news for teams wishing to race in USTCC,” said Ali Arsham, USTCC Director. 

The USTCC season starts on April 16-17, 2011 at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, CA. 

HRT reveal F111, Schu flies, Dennis in trouble  UPDATE Michael Schumacher completed the majority of the MERCEDES GP PETRONAS team's program in Barcelona today on the third day of this week's test, with Nico Rosberg taking over for the final hour of the day.

Michael Schumacher
- The team added further new aerodynamic parts to its upgrade package today 
- Michael's program focused on aerodynamic evaluations and qualifying exercises
- He set the fastest time of the day, 1:21.268, during a qualifying simulation 
- Nico took over the car at 16:00hrs to experience the new developments on a dry track, ahead of expected rain tomorrow.

The team plan for both Michael and Nico to drive during the fourth and final day of the test tomorrow. More ...

Firestone to Remain as IZOD IndyCar Series Tire Supplier  Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC (BATO) and INDYCAR have announced that Firestone will continue to serve as the sole tire supplier to the IZOD IndyCar Series through the 2013 race season.

Late last week the companies announced that they would allow the Firestone sponsorship and supply contract to expire at the end of the 2011 season.

"At the end of last week, we had reached the deadline where both organizations had to make a decision regarding the future to prepare our individual operations for the long term," said Randy Bernard, CEO, INDYCAR. "This is one of those decisions that it is imperative that you have the team owners 100 percent behind you.  Early this week we called a meeting to walk the team owners through the process and hear their input.  I'm happy to say we walk as one with Firestone. More ...

Team Lotus Confirms 2011 Third and Test Drivers  Team Lotus has today confirmed that Luiz Razia and Davide Valsecchi will be combining their 2011 GP2 Team AirAsia commitments with official roles in Team Lotus with Luiz Razia as Third Driver and Davide Valsecchi as Test Driver. Ricardo Teixeira also joins the team as a second Test Driver to continue his long-term development program with the team. Luiz and Davide will be taking part in a number of Friday practice sessions at selected 2011 Grands Prix and Team Lotus is also working on a number of other exciting driver-related projects which will be announced in due course.

Riad Asmat, Team Lotus Chief Executive Officer: “We are very pleased to have confirmed that Luiz,  Davide and Ricardo will all be extending their relationships with the Team Lotus family by filling the roles of Third Driver and Test Drivers respectively for the 2011 season. Luiz and Davide’s efforts have helped Team AirAsia enjoy a very strong start to its debut season and their roles with Team Lotus will give them invaluable experience of the highest level of global motorsport which will help their natural talents develop in the right direction. Ricardo has already learnt a huge amount from his two runs in our car in pre-season testing and we are very excited about seeing Luiz, Davide and Ricardo continue to grow with us throughout 2011 and beyond and the whole team is looking forward to working with them.” More ...
Kubica to undergo more elbow surgery  (GMM)  Robert Kubica will have to undergo further surgery.

On Thursday in Barcelona, Renault's team doctor Riccardo Ceccarelli said he did not think the injured Pole would have to have any more operations.

But the SID news agency on Friday said Kubica, the 26-year-old Renault driver, will have elbow surgery this weekend.

The operation will be Kubica's fourth since he was badly injured in a rally crash more than a month ago.

Professor Luigi Celli reportedly told the Italian media that the surgery is to improve the long-term mobility of the injured elbow.

Plamen Kralev confirms F2 return  
Plamen Kralev
Bulgaria’s official motorsport ambassador Plamen Kralev has become the latest driver to be confirmed for the 2011 FIA Formula Two Championship – becoming the tenth driver from nine different nations to be announced so far.

Plamen is one of his country’s leading motor racing figures, and was elected in 2008 by the National Tourism Agency as their official global motorsport ambassador. He made history in 2009 by becoming the first ever Bulgarian to compete in the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours.

Kralev returns to F2 after a successful debut season in the series in 2010. His best weekend came at Monza, where he scored his maiden points finish in race one by coming through from 17th on the grid to finish tenth at the flag. He almost repeated the feat in race two, improving from 20th to 11th, and challenged for the points on several other occasions – notably on the streets of Marrakech, where he made up 18 places in total across the two races. More ...

Schumacher fastest in  morning session  Michael Schumacher leads the way for Mercedes at 1pm local time on the fourth day of F1 testing in Barcelona.

Full lap times as of 1pm local time, on the fourth day of the final F1 2011 pre-season five-day test at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona.

1. Michael Schumacher Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 21.268s
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 21.614s
3. Nick Heidfeld Lotus Renault GP-Renault 1m 22.073s
4. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m 22.233s
5. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m 22.315s
6. Jaime Alguersuari Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 22.675s
7. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1m 23.012s
8. Heikki Kovalainen Team Lotus-Renault 1m 23.437s
9. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m 23.921s
10. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m 25.837s
11. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m 27.375s

Formula 1 2011 - Full Lineup  
No. Driver    (Nationality) Team
1. Sebastian Vettel  (GER) Red Bull Renault
2. Mark Webber        (AUS) Red Bull Renault
3. Lewis Hamilton    (GBR) McLaren Mercedes
4. Jenson Button      (GBR) McLaren Mercedes
5. Fernando Alonso    (ESP) Ferrari
6. Felipe Massa      (BRA) Ferrari
7. Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes
8. Nico Rosberg      (GER) Mercedes
9. Nick Heidfeld      (GER) Renault
10. Vitaly Petrov      (RUS) Renault
11. Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Williams Cosworth
12. Pastor Maldonado  (VEN) Williams Cosworth
14. Adrian Sutil      (GER) Force India Mercedes
15. Paul di Resta      (GBR) Force India Mercedes
16. Kamui Kobayashi    (JPN) Sauber Ferrari
17. Sergio Perez      (MEX) Sauber Ferrari
18. Sebastien Buemi    (SUI) Toro Rosso Ferrari
19. Jaime Alguersuari  (ESP) Toro Rosso Ferrari
20. Jarno Trulli      (ITA) Lotus Renault
21. Heikki Kovalainen  (FIN) Lotus Renault
22. Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT Cosworth
23. Vitantonio Liuzzi  (ITA) HRT Cosworth
24. Timo Glock        (GER) Virgin Cosworth
25. Jerome d'Ambrosio  (BEL) Virgin Cosworth
Q & A with Pastor Maldonado  
Pastor Maldonado
Q: How did your first test day go in Barcelona this week?
Pastor Maldonado We had a KERS problem which unfortunately cost a few hours’ track time and we only did two short runs. It is better for the problems to come out now though than on a race weekend; that is what testing is for. We have a new aero package here as well, with more upgrades to come in Australia, so I am keen to get back in the car to try them out.

Q: How are you finding the step up to Formula One? Do you think you are making good progress?
: I am feeling better and better within the team and I am enjoying working to adapt the car to my driving style. It is really good. More ...

New McLaren MP4-12C GT3 Breaks Cover to Complete First Tests  
The first McLaren MP4-12C GT3 to be built by McLaren GT - a new company that brings together the expertise of the McLaren Group and CRS Racing - has successfully undertaken its debut tests at the MIRA proving ground facility and Silverstone Circuit in England. McLaren GT has also appointed a new test driver to its team, 26-year-old Portuguese racing driver Álvaro Parente.

The initial shakedown tests undertaken with the 12C GT3, whereby new components are calibrated and bespoke aerodynamic body structures are appraised for the first time, will be followed by comprehensive tests scheduled throughout March and April at a number of FIA* certified circuits across Europe. News on the development program, full driver line-up and planned competition for the 12C GT3 will be confirmed after these tests are completed.  See our Home page for a video on the car's debut test.
Newey to drive Ford GT-40 at Barcelona test  
Adrian Newey
Red Bull Racing Technical Director Adrian Newey will be in action on-track at the Circuit de Catalunya today, taking a legendary Ford GT-40 onto the circuit during the customary lunch break for Formula 1 testing.

As testing pauses for an hour from 1pm, Newey will step into the cockpit to mark the start of the ‘Spirit of Montjuic’ event, with F1 having raced on Barcelona’s Montjuic Park street circuit – later the site for the 1992 Olympic Games – between 1969 and 1975.

The sport has now visited the current Circuit de Catalunya since 1991, with Nigel Mansell having won the opening race for Williams following a dramatic pass on Ayrton Senna’s McLaren.

Superleague adds more international races  The 2011 Superleague Formula season will include races in Russia, Brazil, China, New Zealand and the Middle East.

The schedule comprises six European events as well as six ‘flyaway’ races across four continents. It includes a visit to the Smolensk Ring in September, for what will be the first international single-seater event to ever take place in Russia and Curitiba in October, part of a planned double-header in Brazil.

Season 4 of the single-seater series will also include a return to China in September and groundbreaking new events in the Middle East and New Zealand in November. More ...
Latest F1 news in brief - Friday  
  • The Mercedes car is the shortest in F1
    Volkswagen says no to F1 foray
  • Vettel says 'wow' after Perez 'quick lap'
  • Webber coy, Gene says Red Bull 'scary'
  • Mercedes is shortest car in 2011 field
  • De la Rosa happy because McLaren return 'not easy'
  • Too early to write off McLaren - de la Rosa
  • Liuzzi hopes for 'long' HRT tenure
  • Drivers want rear wing and rain tire changes
  • Kovalainen eyes Schumacher guru Balbir Singh
  • Barrichello happier than ever in longest F1 career
  • Glock back with doctors after Barcelona visit
  • Pirelli two-stop strategy 'impossible' - Sutil
  • Lotus reliability still concerns Trulli
  • Pepe Jeans renew with Red Bull
  • Oris Increases Sponsorship of AT&T Williams  More ...
Jack Roush Pleased with Strong Start to 2011 Season  As the NASCAR Series heads into the off weekend, Roush Fenway owner Jack Roush is more than pleased with the performance of his multi-car race team during the first three events of the season. Dating back to last season, Roush Fenway has finished first or second in five of the last six events.

“The team worked especially hard over the winter on things that they knew were strengths and made them stronger and they worked extra hard to fix things that were lacking.

“Right now as I look at our program, except for the judgments we made and running over things on the race track, our Fords have never run better,” added Roush. “I can’t wait to see how things unfold. I am really excited about what we have in front of us.” More ...

Indy 500 to fix broken race starts  
A typical Indy 500 strung out start under the IRL
Three-abreast starts are about to return to the Indianapolis 500 as part of sweeping changes coming to the Izod IndyCar Series.

IndyCar's starter will not wave the green flag to begin or resume races until the front row is within about 300 yards of the starting line. The cars will be traveling about 60 mph at that point, which means the formation will be more closely packed.

In recent years, leaders at Indianapolis Motor Speedway have been allowed to increase the pace in the north short chute, which often created separation well before the start-finish line. More ...

NASCAR HOF losses reach $1 million  The NASCAR Hall of Fame lost $187,983 in January, pushing its cumulative loss for the fiscal year to $1.03 million. The hall's total attendance for the month was 23,177, which includes nearly 12,000 people who visited for free during a one-week open house. Before the hall opened in May, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority projected the hall would have a surplus of roughly $700,000 for its first year. But that budget has since been revised, and the CRVA now forecasts a loss of $1.29 million for fiscal year 2011. The good news for the CRVA is that the hall's financial performance is now matching the revised budget. In its revised budget, the CRVA had projected a loss of $1.07 million through January. That means the hall is slightly ahead of its new budget. The hall probably will have two more lean months in February and March before crowds grow again in April, May and June. Charlotte Observer
TV News
NASCAR Las Vegas TV Ratings  UPDATE Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race from Las Vegas earned a 5.9/12 (10.8 million viewers), which is +34% better than last year's 4.4/9 when the race went head-to-head with the gold medal hockey game at the Vancouver Olympics. Sunday's race also posted huge gains on average viewership (+41%, 10.8 mill. vs. 7.2), Men 18-34 (+46%, 1.9 vs. 1.3), Men 18-49 (+36%, 3.8 vs. 2.8) and Men 25-54 (+37%, 5.2 vs. 3.8). Sunday's race also easily ranked as the highest-rated and most-watched sports programming of the weekend. Through three races NASCAR On FOX is averaging a 7.0/15 and 12.4 million viewers. Compared to 2009 NASCAR is down slightly on rating (-1%) but up slightly on viewership (+2%) More ...
Sebring IndyCar test times  

Morning session

1. Mike Conway (Andretti Autosport) 52.76sec
2. Alex Tagliani (Sam Schmidt) 53.01
3. Justin Wilson (Dreyer & Reinbold) 53.1
4. Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport) 53.23
5. Sebastien Bourdais (Dale Coyne) 53.7
6. Charlie Kimball (Ganassi) 53.92
7. Danica Patrick (Andretti Autosport) 54.17
8. Ana Beatriz (Dreyer & Reinbold) 54.25
9. Simona de Silvestro (HVM) 54.27
10. Sebastian Saavedra (Conquest) 54.62

Afternoon session
1. Alex Tagliani (Sam Schmidt) 52.76
2. Justin Wilson (Dreyer & Reinbold) 52.94
3. Mike Conway (Andretti Autosport) 53.2
4. Simona de Silvestro (HVM) 53.25
5. Sebastian Saavedra (Conquest) 53.27
6. Danica Patrick (Andretti Autosport) 53.38
7. Sebastien Bourdais (Dale Coyne) 53.42
8. Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport) 53.51
9. Charlie Kimball (Ganassi) 53.58
10. Ana Beatriz (Dreyer & Reinbold) 53.74

Americans shun diesels  Sometimes, it's what automakers don't offer in the U.S. that creates a stir – the diesel engine being one prime example. For years, U.S. buyers have been left out in the cold (mostly) while Europeans have had a vast selection of efficient, diesel-powered vehicles to choose from. With fuel prices on the rise, you'd think that automakers would at least consider adding diesel-powered vehicles to their U.S. lineup. Not Ford, though.

During a dinner last week in Geneva, Derrick Kuzak, Ford's vice president for global product development, told a handful of journalists that the automaker will rely on its fuel-efficient EcoBoost gasoline engines, instead of diesels, in the U.S.

Kuzak admits that Ford could "easily bring diesels to the U.S. market" but, he said, U.S. customers "are pragmatic" and most American car buyers don't want oil-burning engines. Plus, Kuzak told journalists, the automaker's EcoBoost engines nearly match the efficiency of its oil-burning mills. Furthermore, Kuzak said, since diesel fuel costs more than gasoline in the U.S., launching a lineup of diesel-powered Ford models simply "doesn't make sense." Automotive News

Highcroft's HPD ARX-01e revealed  Highcroft Racing has unveiled its new Honda Performance Development ARX-01e LMP1 machine - the new car which the back-to-back American Le Mans Series champions will take into battle at next week’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida.

HPD’s latest entry into the overall LMP1 class is powered by a development of the 3.4-liter V8 engine which has been the mainstay of its sports car activities since the debut of the Acura program in 2007.

The final driver to do battle alongside David Brabham and Marino Franchitti in the ARX-01e will be revealed tomorrow, but the three Highcroft drivers will have an additional vastly experienced “co-driver” riding beside them - the Michelin Man. More ...
IMS Centennial Speedway unveils this year's historic 500 ticket  
Indy 500 ticket
The artwork for the 2011 Indianapolis 500 ticket draws on 100 years of history at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It features Dario Franchitti celebrating in victory lane last May and includes the 100th anniversary logo and the IMS Centennial Era logo.

IMS creative services designer Brad Walters' design was inspired by the 1937 race-day ticket.

"We continue to pay homage to our rich graphic history by repurposing past ticket elements," he said. "We've pulled heavily from the 1937 ticket while incorporating the colors and feel of our 100th anniversary event logo."

Opening day for this year's 500 is scheduled May 14 and the race is May 29.

Barber Open Test sets stage for 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season  
Ryan Briscoe in the IZOD
IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights teams continue preparations for the season with an Open Test March 14-16 at Barber Motorsports Park.

IZOD IndyCar Series teams will be on the 2.38-mile circuit March 14-15. Firestone Indy Lights teams will be on the track March 16, and Star Mazda cars will have track time each day.

Twenty-four IZOD IndyCar Series driver/car combinations are expected to participate, including former Champ Car title-winner Sebastien Bourdais, two-time IZOD IndyCar Series starter Sebastian Saavedra and Oriol Servia, who was on the sidelines last year. More ...

GM loses CFO  Chris Liddell, the onetime executive hotshot hired from Microsoft and rumored to be a candidate for CEO, is leaving General Motors on April 1.

The 52-year-old will be replaced by Dan Ammann, 38, who is GM's treasurer.

Liddell oversaw GM's historic return to the stock market last year after its 2009 bankruptcy. He was lured from Microsoft as part of a team of new executives expected to inject the Detroit automaker with fresh blood and new ideas, but his abrupt departure now continues a string of upheaval in the executive suite.

“Chris was a major contributor during a pivotal time in the company's history,” Dan Akerson, GM chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “He guided the company's IPO process and established a good financial foundation for the future.
Shocker! Perez tops Day 3 in Barcelona  
Sergio Perez
Sauber's Sergio Perez held on to the top spot on the third day of testing in Barcelona, after setting the fastest lap of the week in the morning session.

The lap was probably the closest we have seen to a true qualifying simulation from any of the teams, as Perez did just one flying lap on a brand new set of tires. The track temperature also played its part, with the surface of the circuit peaking over 30C before lunch. It was the first day of the test with completely blue skies so far, something McLaren, which is having a day off track before running on Friday and Saturday, might rue if the clouds return at the end of the week. More ...

Sauber sponsor Slim tops world rich list  (GMM) Business magazine Forbes has named Sauber sponsor Carlos Slim the richest man on earth.

71-year-old Slim, the Mexican telecoms magnate who is backing the Swiss team and its rookie Sergio Perez this year through his company Telmex and its subsidiaries, grew his fortune over the past year by more than $20 billion to $74bn, the magazine said. More ...
Renault doctor predicts 'long' road for Kubica  (GMM) Renault doctor Riccardo Ceccarelli on Thursday admitted Robert Kubica's will be a "long" road to recovery.

Speaking at the Barcelona test, he said the injured Pole is recovering well in an Italian hospital after his horror rally crash more than a month ago.

"Robert is getting better day by day," Ceccarelli is quoted as saying by the team's official website. More ...
Q and A with Brian France  
Brian France
KERRY THARP: Good afternoon, everyone. We appreciate you joining our special NASCAR teleconference today, featuring NASCAR chief executive officer and chairman Brian France.
Brian, at this time I'm turn the floor over to you for some opening comments.

BRIAN FRANCE: Thanks, Kerry. Good afternoon, everyone. We're just having on our off week here a little bit of a discussion about the start of the year, some of the things that are going on, some progress reports in a few areas. I'm going to reserve most of the time to take as many questions as we can.
But obviously in general with a very dynamic Daytona 500, having a really young star born, having the iconic 21 Wood Brothers team in Victory Lane, with 74 lead changes, very interesting way the competition played out during the Daytona 500. We started there and then on to Phoenix, getting Jeff Gordon back in Victory Lane, record lead changes again there, attendance up across the board.
Obviously, the competition has never been better. That's been brewing in terms of going in the right direction for a number of months, dating back well into last year where, as you know, we made a number of changes in the new car, which is not a new car anymore, but to get the car racing as good as we possibly can. More ...

Pirelli to supply 'extra hard' tire in Turkey  (GMM) Pirelli is working on a fifth tire compound to use in 2011.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that the 'extra hard' compound is designed initially to cope with the additional demands of Turkey's famous Turn 8 in May.

Until now, the Italian tire marque has provided only 'hard', 'medium', 'soft' and 'super soft' compounds to teams, amid criticisms of extreme degradation.

The German report on Thursday said the new 'extra hard' compound will be tested by teams during Friday practice for the Malaysian grand prix next month. More ...
Q and A with Nico Rosberg  After introducing a number of upgrades for the second day of preseason testing in Barcelona, Nico Rosberg discusses his thoughts of the car.

Q: How important is this final week of testing for you, with all the final upgrades coming on the car?
Nico Rosberg: It is very important. But today already we had a few bits and pieces of the upgrade which was randomly on the car - sometimes yes, sometimes no. And obviously it doesn't fit together well with the rest of the car, as most of the rest of the car is old, so there are bits and pieces coming - but there were glimpses of the performance gain, which seemed very impressive today. More ...
Silverstone announces profit  The British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC), owners of Silverstone, have announced that the home of the British Grand Prix turned over a profit in the region of two million pounds last year, with the long-term future of the Formula 1 race having now been secured.

Despite the huge development which is ongoing at the Northamptonshire venue, its proprietors were still able to end the year comfortably in the black. More ...
Massa on to before Barcelona lunch break  Full lap times as of 11am local time, on the third day of the final F1 2011 preseason five-day test at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona.

1. Felipe Massa Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 22.991s
2. Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1m 23.120s
3. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m 24.334s
4. Jaime Alguersuari Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 24.779s
5. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m 26.012s
6. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m 26.018s
7. Michael Schumacher Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 26.639s
8. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m 30.070s
9. Jarno Trulli Team Lotus-Renault 1m 34.485s
Mike Conway back behind the wheel as he tests Andretti Autosport IndyCar  British racing driver Mike Conway was yesterday back behind the wheel of an IndyCar as he took to the Sebring race track in his Andretti Autosport car, setting the fastest lap of the day.

This week’s test marks the first time that Conway has been in an IndyCar since sustaining serious and season-ending injuries in last year’s Indianapolis 500.

Conway sustained multiple fractures to his lower left leg and a compression fracture to his T3 vertebrae during the accident and has since undergone nine months of intensive rehab. More ...

Panda Security Sponsors Hispania F1 Racing Team for 2011  Panda Security will protect the Spanish team’s office and mobile computers with its cloud-based solution Panda Cloud Protection and its Panda GateDefender Integra appliances

Panda Security, The Cloud Security Company, and Hispania Racing, the only Spanish team competing in Formula 1, have reached an agreement by which the Spanish multinational will become a technical sponsor of the racing team during the 2011 season.

The agreement will see Panda Security provide security solutions and VIP support services to protect the Hispania Racing IT infrastructure (both for the team’s office and mobile computers). Additionally, the F1 team will include the Spanish multinational logo on all its sponsorship materials and give it preferential access to various activities and services during the 2011 season. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday  
  • De la Rosa returns 'home' to McLaren
  • New McLaren not ready to win title - Hamilton
  • Better mood at Mercedes as new package arrives
  • HRT will overtake Red Bull in '11 - Kobayashi
  • Now Williams following Red Bull's lead on exhausts
  • Rear wing rule changes possible after meetings
  • Liuzzi looks ahead with new F1 seat, manager
  • 'No match' in F1 for new Red Bull - Peter Sauber More ...
No changes in this year's Sprint All-Star Race  For the first time in a while, the annual NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway will not see a format change.

The all-star race over the years has seen a variety of changes, including the use of double-file restarts, field inversion and the addition of a fan vote to add a driver to the field.

We always worth together with NASCAR on what the ideas are around the all-star race and we were all in favor in leaving the successful format in place that worked last year," said speedway president Marcus Smith. More ...

Wednesday sees the Ferrari 150 in full race configuration  
Felipe Massa at Barcelona Wednesday
It was a busy day’s work for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro for its first day of this final test session at the Catalunya Circuit; not so much in terms of the distance covered, which was more or less the average for the team during these tests, but more because there were so many items on the menu.

The 150° Italia was actually kitted out with all the updates planned for the first race, in terms of its aero configuration and also sporting a new exhaust configuration, which has them running along the sides of the rear part of the floor.

“First impressions are positive,” commented Felipe Massa after the session. “You can feel the effect of the new elements on the handling of the car, especially that of the exhausts. Today, we worked mainly on a back-to-back comparison of the various configurations, especially in the area of the front wing. Once again today we did a lot of kilometers, which is always a good thing.”

Tomorrow will be the Brazilian’s final day of testing prior to the Australian Grand Prix. “It’s true, I’ve got just seven more hours of track time, so we will try and make the most of them. Definitely, we will have a look at running over a long distance to get even more information relating to the behavior of the tires, which will certainly be one of the key factors this season.”

Rosberg impressed by new Mercedes exhausts  
Nico Rosberg at Barcelona Wednesday
Mercedes Grand Prix ran with a raft of new technical developments as its final winter test program was launched in Barcelona on Wednesday, with the silver arrows running Nico Rosberg plus bodywork modifications and Renault-like forward-pointing exhausts for the first time.

“It was nice to get the first of our upgrades on the car today and to feel their potential,” reported the German, who ended the day eighth of the 11 drivers on the timesheet. More ...

ORECA loves racing in USA  

The start of the 2011 season and the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup is just around the corner and the No. 10 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP arrived on U.S. soil at the beginning of the week. With a trio composed of Nicolas Lapierre, Loïc Duval and Olivier Panis, the Team ORECA-Matmut is preparing for its come back to American racing. The team is entered in the 12 Hours of Sebring for the first time since 2000: in the middle of the Viper era, Hugues de Chaunac’s men had scored a one-two-three in GTS. It was a victory that jump-started the team’s quest for a second consecutive American Le Mans Series title. More ...

Extreme Speed Motorsports team shows off New Patron color scheme  Tequila Patr¢n proudly returns again to American Le Mans Series racing this year as the Presenting Sponsor of the nine-race 2011 season, and the lead sponsor of the Extreme Speed Motorsports team, owned by veteran driver Scott Sharp.

The first competition of the 2011 season takes place Saturday, March 19 with the 59th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida.

More ...

ALMS makes it's annual visit to Manhattan  
Scott Atherton
A little over a week before their biggest race of the year, the 12 Hours of Sebring, the ALMS made their annual promotional tour through Manhattan today.  Series President Scott Atherton stopped by the FOX Sports offices for an interview with FOX Business and then it was off to the ESPN offices for some meetings and an interview with ESPN Magazine.

ESPN is of course their new TV partner for 2011 and not only are they doing the USA TV distribution we hear they will soon announce that they will also do international distribution through various ESPN outlets including both TV and online TV via ESPN 360. More ...
Disappointed Klien now wants third driver role  
Christian Klien will have to wait another year to buy a ride in F1
(GMM)  A disappointed Christian Klien on Wednesday vowed to keep pushing for a role in formula one this year.

The Austrian was in contention for the final race seat on the grid with HRT, but the Spanish team announced that Vitantonio Liuzzi has inked the deal.

Klien, who impressed with HRT on his few outings last year, admitted he is disappointed.

"Still, we must keep our heads up and go forward," he said. More ...

Grand Prix of St. Pete reveals event plans  The Red Bull Air Show, the return of "drifting" demonstrations and an appearance by the Budweiser Clydesdales highlight the entertainment program announced Tuesday for the March 25-27 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Although there are no concerts this year, the Indy Racing League will debut the IZOD IndyCar Village, an area between turns 4 and 5, where fans can interact with drivers and teams and test their skills in racing simulators.

The Acura Yacht Club returns after a one-year hiatus, and as in 2009, will have a floating bar with big-screen TVs that is open to the public. There's also the new "Trackside Club," a temporary two-story structure that will house corporate hospitality for the first time. More ...

Petrov explains just how bad the Pirelli tires are  
Vitaly Petrov has explained just how quickly the new-for-2011 Pirelli tires lose grip whilst on the circuit, with the Italian rubber designed to degradate at a rapid rate in order to encourage a greater amount of pit-stops and therefore spice up Grands Prix.

“It’s about 15 laps, something like that,” he explained to gathered journalists, including GPUpdate.net, when asked about the maximum average tire life at present.

“It depends also on whether it’s new or scrubbed, or whether you push them harder, but it does not take long (to go off). After just one lap you start losing five tenths, then one and a half seconds, then two seconds and three seconds… More ...

de la Rosa and Paffet back with McLaren  Pedro de la Rosa has returned to McLaren as its official test and reserve driver. The Spanish driver worked with the team for seven seasons, beginning in 2003, before moving to Sauber last year. Pedro has driven a mammoth 361 Formula 1 test days in his long career (fourth on the all-time list behind only Luca Badoer [469], Alex Wurz [382] and Jarno Trulli [381]), encompassing 22,763 laps and 104,248 kilometers. The team will also be retaining the services of 2005 German Touring Car (DTM) champion and 2002 German Formula 3 champion Gary Paffett. More ...
Biffle and Pilots Uninjured in Minor Incident  Roush Fenway’s Greg Biffle and his two pilots were involved in a minor incident this morning while landing at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Ky. A mechanical failure during the landing caused the airplane to skid to a stop on the runway. No one on board the aircraft was injured.
Toyota unveils global vision  Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) today unveiled its "Toyota Global Vision" corporate outline for the future, which will serve not only to give direction to Toyota employees around the world, but also to convey such direction to customers and to the public at large.

The Global Vision incorporates lessons TMC learned through the market downturn that followed the global financial crisis and through a series of product recalls. It outlines the ideal form the company should take in response to self-asked questions about what kind of organization TMC should be and what kind of values it should honor. TMC-related operations around the world will define their own missions in the context of fulfilling the mission statement and will translate those missions into concrete actions. More ...

Newgarden returns to race in North America  Today, Josef Newgarden signed to race for the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights Championship with series powerhouse team Sam Schmidt Motorsports. A year ago at this time, Josef Newgarden was a 19-year-old living alone in a foreign country and getting ready for his first season of elite international competition in the GP3 Series - his mind firmly fixed on his ultimate goal of one day competing, and winning, in the FIA Formula One World Championship. That goal still remains as strong as ever, but Newgarden now sets out to prove that the road to F1 can go through Indianapolis.

"I am thrilled to be joining Sam Schmidt Motorsports at this important stage of my career," said Josef. "I felt that Sam's organization would give me the best chance to be competitive this season; hopefully scoring race wins and competing for the championship. Sam has made me feel very welcome in his team and I really appreciate that. Now, I just can't wait for St. Pete to get on the race track." Newgarden continued. More ...

Rossi on pace in Formula Renault debut  Alexander commenced two days of intensive testing with his 2011 World Series Renault team, Fortec Motorsport, at Motorland, Spain this week. Alexander had to get to grips with not only joining a new team, but working for the first time alongside his engineer in Formula Renault 3.5. More ...
Hearse owner trying to exploit Earnhardt death  A North Carolina person is asking $1.5 million for a hearse they claim transported the body of seven-time Sprint Cup champion Dale Earnhardt in 2001.

The ad on eBay states that the 1996 Lincoln Town Car Hearse was used Feb. 21, 2001 to take Earnhardt from the funeral home to his burial spot in North Carolina. There is no verification, but the seller says, “This is 100% verifiable to qualified buyers.” More ...
Key sponsors support Andretti and Hunter-Reay  Two of the IZOD IndyCar Series' brightest American driving stars will hit the track in 2011 with the benefit of significant support from three high-profile Indianapolis-based companies in Bryant Heating and Cooling, OneAmerica and ExactTarget.  

                All three companies have been sponsors of Andretti Autosport in the past, but 2011 marks the first time they will share a common focus in drivers Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Andretti, who won IndyCar rookie of the year honors in 2006, and Hunter-Reay - who claimed the rookie title in 2007 - will open their 2011 seasons on March 27 at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Fla. More ...
Vettel finishes Day2 on top  .
Pos Driver Car Time Laps
1.Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:21.865 112
2.Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso1:22.396 120
3.Vitaly Petrov Lotus Renault1:22.670 116
4.Lewis HamiltonMcLaren1:22.888 57
5.Felipe MassaFerrari1:23.324 101
6.Paul Di Resta Force India1:24.334 118
7.Kamui KobayashiSauber1:24.436 107
8.Nico Rosberg MERCEDES GP PETRONAS1:25.807 100
9.Jarno Trulli Team Lotus1:26.090 98
10.Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:26.98929
11.Jerome D'Ambrosio Marussia Virgin1:28.982 64
Vettel tops morning of Day 2 in Barcelona  Sebastian Vettel wasted no time at all in underlining Red Bull's raw pace at the Barcelona test on Wednesday, by setting the fastest lap at the circuit so far on his first morning back in the car.

The second day of the test saw all the teams bar HRT on track as they embark on their final push ahead of the first race of the season in Australia at the end of the month. The weather was again overcast with track temperatures falling short of 20C for most of the morning until the sun poked through the clouds just before lunch. More ...
HRT announce Liuzzi and Friday debut for F111  (GMM) HRT announced on Wednesday that Vitantonio Liuzzi will complete the Spanish team's 2011 race driver lineup.

After being ousted by Force India, he will be Narain Karthikeyan's teammate, and will drive the new Hispania car later this week in Barcelona.

HRT also said on Wednesday that it will launch and debut the Cosworth-powered F111 on Friday. More ...
Austin track to feature barbecue pit, possibly hotel  Track site plan features pit for barbecue; hotel is a possibility The U.S. Grand Prix planned for Austin might include an on-site hotel, but the race site will definitely be equipped with a pit for cooking Texas barbecue.

Those are some of the details included in the site improvement plan for the project that was recently filed with Travis County officials. The oversized 170-page document was compiled by Carlson, Brigance & Doering, Inc., a civil engineering and surveying firm hired by the race promoters. The drawings detail the nuts and bolts and pipes and retention ponds planned for the Grand Prix site southeast of Austin, which is scheduled to host a Formula One race beginning in 2012. The document will be reviewed by the Travis County Department of Transportation and Natural Resources, Austin's Planning and Development Review Department, the Travis County Fire Marshal and the Austin Water Utility. More ...
Big updates for Ferrari coming  As everyone scrambles to catch the superior Adrian Newey designed Red Bull cars, the Ferrari F1 team is set to run a raft of new features as Barcelona testing continues this week, with the Maranello squad having elected to skip Tuesday in a swap with Saturday. The newly-named 150° Italia, following an aerodynamics test in Italy with Superleague Champion Davide Rigon at the wheel, will now be subject to a selection of updates.

As reported by Italy’s Autosprint, the car sported a selection of new aerodynamic features in the Rigon test for the rear wing, diffuser and bodywork. The Scuderia are believed to now be running Red Bull and Toro Rosso-like slits on the outside of the car’s body.

Ferrari begins its final preseason test at the Circuit de Catalunya on Wednesday, with Felipe Massa remaining in action until tomorrow evening before Fernando Alonso drives on Friday and Saturday, when larger crowds are expected to flock to the venue in order to view their leading national representative.
Oh no!  IndyCar, Goodyear discuss race tires  UPDATE
Firestone IndyCar tires
The result of an open forum meeting among the INDYCAR owners on Monday resulted in a near-unanimous vote to stick with Firestone – regardless of the price (probably so scared that they might get Goodyear instead) reports SPEEDtv.com.

“We all want to keep running with Firestone,” said Conquest Racing owner Eric Bachelart. “We know those people; we trust their product and we have to save the deal. “They are the best partner ever and we can’t afford to lose them so we’re hoping they’ll review their decision.”

Al Speyer, the executive director for motorsports for Bridgestone/Firestone, reached at his home in Nashville, Tenn. on Tuesday night, said, “It’s nice to hear those things but that’s about all I can say,” said Speyer. “I guess we’ll have to wait and see if they send us a proposal.”

Equally as good as Bridgestone would of course be Michelin, and we wonder if IndyCar has spoken to them.  Everyone praises their racing tires and they make the some of the best passenger car tires you can buy. More ...
Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday  
  • McLaren's Bubble Nose
    New rule solves tire test dilemma - Hembery
  • Glock not worried about surgery setback
  • Swollen nose not a quick trick - Button
  • More of the same as Webber flies in Spain
  • Vettel admits 'problems' with Alonso in 2010
  • Liuzzi in Barcelona as HRT's plans develop
  • Alguersuari predicts 'much better' season for STR
  • Marko warns STR drivers to fear ousting
  • Perez jumped chicane for shock testing time
  • Heidfeld wants more powerful driver 'lobby'
  • Heidfeld's test marred by lingering cold
  • Bahrain 'very happy' with delayed GP date deadline
  • Suzuka inks new GP deal for 2012
  • Another Malaysian chief eyes F1 night race
  • FIA eyes track changes to increase F1 overtaking More ...
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