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DATE News (chronologically)
03/13/09
automotive
Crash splits Ferrari in half, kills driver  UPDATE Another story on this accident.

03/11/09 A red Ferrari crashed into a light pole in Newport Beach Tuesday, killing the driver and injuring a passenger, authorities said.  The accident on Jamboree Road near Camelback Street was reported just before 1 a.m., according to a Newport Beach Police Department lieutenant. Video

The Ferrari crashed into a light pole, causing it to topple onto the luxury Italian sports car, a police dispatcher said. The vehicle was split in half, its front portion crushed by the pole, an On Scene Video camera crew reported.  Firefighters declared the driver dead at the scene. His name was not immediately released.

A second victim was taken to a hospital following the accident, a Newport Beach Fire Department dispatch supervisor said. Her condition was not immediately reported.  The injured victim was a female passenger who was ejected in the crash, On Scene reported.

Skid marks could be seen along the roadway leading up to the site of the crash. The rear of the car came to rest about 75 feet away from the point of impact, On Scene reported.  The car, according to On Scene, appeared to be a Ferrari F430, an all-aluminum V8 with a top speed of 205 miles per hour and a price tag of about $300,000.

03/13/09
formula bmw
atlantic
Busy Week for Jensen MotorSport  Jensen MotorSport enters one of the busiest weeks in team history, with separate squads competing at circuits 2,000 miles apart.

Michael Nacol and Matt Lee will pilot the team’s race cars at Sebring Florida in race #1 of the 2009 Atlantic Championship. Meanwhile, Freddy Zebede and Barrett Mertins will pilot the team’s race cars at Puebla Mexico in race #1 of the 2009 Formula BMW Americas championship.

Team owner Eric Jensen states, “We have assembled a terrific roster of drivers and team personnel, and everyone in our team is very excited to get the 2009 race season underway. We have all worked diligently to maximize our pre-season preparation, and I am looking forward to seeing how well we stack up versus the best competition in each series.” More ...

03/13/09
gp2
GP2 Testing: Paul Ricard  Another trouble-free day in Paul Ricard for the GP2 teams where track records have been broken every day and where the level of reliability and performance of the 2009 update kit has been very satisfactory.

Photos

This concludes the three-day test session at Paul Ricard. The GP2 Paddock will gather in Barcelona in two weeks for the second and last test session of the 2009 season, on March 23-25

Morning session
Driver Nationality Team Time Laps

1. Lucas Di Grassi BRA Fat Burner Racing Engineering 1:09.536 48
2. Andreas Zuber UAE Fisichella Motor Sport Int. 1:09.663 32
3. Pastor Maldonado VEN ART Grand Prix 1:09.691 36
4. Vitaly Petrov RUS Barwa Campos Team 1:09.865 37
5. Javier Villa ESP Super Nova Racing 1:09.875 34
6. Alberto Valerio BRA Piquet GP 1:09.958 41
7. Nico Hulkenberg GER ART Grand Prix 1:09.980 42
8. Michael Herck ROM DPR 1:09.982 49
9. Jérôme d’Ambrosio BEL Dams 1:10.054 47
10. Kamui Kobayashi JAP Dams 1:10.070 46 More ...

03/13/09
nassprint
Goodyear tire test open to fans  The frontstretch grandstands at Lowe's Motor Speedway will be open next Tuesday and Wednesday for fans to watch a Goodyear tire test featuring four NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers.

Richard Petty Motorsports' Kasey Kahne, Hendrick Motorsports' Jimmie Johnson, JTG Daugherty Racing's Marcos Ambrose and Yates Racing's Paul Menard will be testing tires in preparation for the track's Sprint All-Star Race on May 16 and the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24.

Ticket-holders for the two events can watch testing from a pit-road grandstand near victory lane on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT. More ...

03/13/09
nassprint
Heluva Good! to sponsor Cup race at The Glen  Watkins Glen International officials announced Friday that Heluva Good! will sponsor the track’s Aug. 9 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, which will be called the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen.

The cheese and dip company is headquartered in Sodus, N.Y, about 65 miles from the famed road course. The track said Heluva Good! will also be the official dip product of Watkins Glen and will have promotional rights at Michigan International Speedway. Both tracks are owned by International Speedway Corp.

Financial terms of the title sponsorship were not disclosed.

03/13/09
irl
3 Doors Down to headline Miller Lite Carb Day Concert  Rock superstars 3 Doors Down will be the headline act for the popular Miller Lite Carb Day Concert on Friday, May 22 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IMS officials announced March 13.

The concert is free to all ticket holders for Miller Lite Carb Day, the final day of on-track activity before the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on Sunday, May 24. Tickets are just $10 each, with children 5 and under admitted free.

"Miller Lite Carb Day is filled with non-stop entertainment and excitement from start to finish," said Joie Chitwood, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and chief operating officer. "The energy and power of 3 Doors Down will provide a perfect soundtrack to one of the biggest days of the year at the Speedway." More ...

03/13/09
nastruck
David Starr and Wife Kim Welcomes Son  HT Motorsports/Zachry driver David Starr and his wife Kim welcomed their first son, David Starr Jr., on March 12th at 11:21am.  The proud father and mom are doing well, and Jr. is working his way into the hearts of all that surround him. 

“He’s just great,” exclaimed a happy Starr.  “I know everyone says that having a child truly changes you and it really does.  Just looking at him makes me so happy.  It was a great experience for us all. 

“People claim that when a NASCAR driver has a child it makes them soft, but I am so proud of him I want to strive harder and be better to make him this proud of me.  There is nothing like it.” More ...

03/13/09
gakoni
Bell Races out of the Hospital and on to the Pole  Matt Bell set a time of 1:27.803 (94.302 mph) on his first lap of qualifying Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and will lead the 27-car Grand Sport (GS) field to the green flag in Sunday's Grand-Am Fan Appreciation Weekend, the second round of the 2009 KONI Sports Car Challenge season.

Meanwhile, in Street Tuner (ST), Andrew Aquilante set his flying lap on his final run around the 2.3-mile, 11-turn track, taking a time of 1:32.976 (89.055 mph), three thousandths of a second quicker than Christian Miller's time.

Despite not running during the morning session and earning limited track time during the afternoon, Bell - who was hospitalized from apparent food poisoning Thursday evening - was on the throttle early, and made his first lap count in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3. He led the entire session, besting Peter Ludwig's No. 18 Motorsport Technology Group Porsche 997 by four hundredths of a second. Ludwig, sharing the No. 18 with Billy Johnson, set a time of 1:27.843 (94.259 mph). More ...
03/13/09
track news
LB ticket office opens Saturday  Tickets for the 35th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 16-19, will be available for purchase in the downtown ticket office beginning at 9 a.m. on Monday.

The Grand Prix downtown ticket office, located at 300 E. Seaside Way (near the Convention Center box office) will be open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Ticket prices, which remain unchanged from 2008, range from $25 for Friday general admission up to $125 for a three-day ticket that includes Saturday and Sunday reserved seats in upper levels of the grandstands.  Pre-paid parking packages are also available when ordering through the Grand Prix Ticket Office. Handicapped seating, IndyCar Paddock passes, Super Photo tickets and a variety of hospitality club packages are also available.

03/13/09
irl
Foyt Racing ABC Supply Team Tests at MSR Houston  Vitor Meira tested the No. 14 ABC Supply Indy car at MSR Houston Tuesday and Wednesday with everyone leaving satisfied with the results.

“Our test went very well; the car is definitely better than when we unloaded,” said Meira, who had flown in from Brazil this past weekend after doing some tire testing in an F3000 car there last week. “What we found was a very good gain. We won’t really know how much better the car is until we are all together in St. Pete.”

A.J. Foyt and chief engineer Adam Schaechter were also very pleased with how the test went at the 2.3 mile road course in Angleton, south of Houston.

“I’m really happy with what we learned,” said Foyt. “We got a lot done on Tuesday because there was a good chance of rain on Wednesday afternoon. As it turned out, it didn’t rain so we got in two full days of testing.” More ...

03/13/09
f1
Q&A with McLaren's Whitmarsh and Haug  McLaren completed their penultimate pre-season test in Barcelona on Thursday, and with just one final four-day test remaining before the start of the season the team is languishing dangerously at the back of the field. Here to give us an update on the team's performance in testing are McLaren's newly-appointed Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh, and the Vice President of Mercedes-Benz's Motorsport activities, Norbert Haug.

Q: How is testing going at the moment?
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren-Mercedes (Team Principal): Initial testing of MP4-24, which first ran with an interim aero package, went in accordance with our early developmental expectations. This week the car has run in Barcelona with an updated aero package, as we had always planned it would, and a performance shortfall has been identified that we are now working hard to resolve.
Norbert Haug, McLaren-Mercedes (Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice President): We are definitely not where we want to be. We will continue our test program next week at Jerez for another four days. But it will take time to improve.

Q: Is the MP4-24 fast enough?
MW: Not at the moment - and certainly not by our team's extremely high standards. But Lewis is the reigning world champion, and he became world champion in one of our cars. So anything less than success at that level is naturally regarded as unsatisfactory by us, by our partners, by the media and by the fans. Having said that, McLaren has started 648 grands prix. We have won 162 of them and have recorded 431 podium finishes. We are proud of our record and have faith in our engineers' ability to work hard to get MP4-24 into a position to add to that record. They are already engaged in doing exactly that.
NH: Not for the time being. We still have a lot of work ahead of us to improve the technical package. More ...

03/13/09
nassprint
Atlanta TV Ratings down 14%  UPDATE NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing on Fox earned a final 5.5/12 (8.9 million viewers) on Sunday for the Kobalt 500 from Atlanta. NASCAR ranked as the highest-rated and most-watched sports event of the weekend for the fourth consecutive week. Although Sunday's rating is down -14% compared to last year's 6.4/15 (10.6 mill), it's up +6% over 2007's 5.2/12. A huge factor in the year-to-year decline was competition from the Duke-North Carolina college basketball game on CBS (2.9/6, 4.6 mill.). The Duke-UNC rating more than tripled the weak 1.1/2 delivered in the same window last year by Purdue-Michigan, and combined viewing of pro and college basketball opposite NASCAR was up by roughly two and a half million viewers. Fox got a lucky break when the final national rating for the Atlanta race came in a tenth of a point higher than the preliminary rating released on Tuesday, a rare occurrence. Men 18-34 continue to be a trouble spot for NASCAR. Ratings in that demo were down -27% (2.4 vs. 3.3) for the Atlanta race, nearly doubling the overall Household decline. One month into the season, NASCAR racing is being impacted by two disappointing trends on the track: lead changes per race are at an all-time low, while caution flags per race are near an all-time high. The season's first four points races have averaged just 14 lead changes per race. The same races a year ago averaged 30 lead changes. Through four races, NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing on FOX is averaging a 6.7/13 (11.3 million viewers), down -11% from last year's 7.5/14 (12.9 mill.). NASCAR's year-to-year comparison continues to be skewed by rainouts in this year's highly-rated Daytona race and last year's lower-rated Fontana race. While it's easy to focus on the -11% year-to-year skid, it's also important to note that this season's 6.7/13 average is still more than double the rating of the NBA On ABC (2.8/6) and is greater than the combined ratings of the NBA on ABC, NCAA Basketball on CBS, and PGA Golf on all broadcasters (5.8/13 combined). Fox PR

03/09/09 NASCAR on Fox notched a 4.7/10 yesterday for the Kobalt Tools 500 from Atlanta, easily the top sports rating of the weekend. Thanks in part to much tougher college basketball competition from CBS, yesterday's 4.7/10 is down -16% compared to last year's 5.6/12. This year's Atlanta race rating matches 2007's 4.7/10, but note that the 2007 rating came against second-round NCAA Tournament games on CBS. Metered market ratings have been a relatively weak indicator of NASCAR's national ratings this season. Through last weekend's Las Vegas race, FOX's national ratings have been an average of +6% better year-to-year than the overnight ratings comparisons. Every FOX race to date has compared more favorably to last year in the nationals than in the overnights. Through four points races, NASCAR On FOX is down -13% for the year in the metered markets (5.9/11 vs. 6.8/13). FOX PR
03/13/09
irl
Caught in lie, 90% chance Castroneves gets convicted  UPDATE #4 A top official with Penske Racing says it would be horrible for business and the sport if race car driver and TV dance celebrity Helio Castroneves is convicted on tax evasion charges. Penske Racing general counsel Lawrence Bluth (Blooth) called the prospect “terrible” in testimony Friday. Bluth said the 33-year-old Castroneves is Penske’s most popular driver and one of the world’s best.

Bluth was called as a prosecution witness and provided other testimony that could be damaging to Castroneves.

The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and “Dancing With the Stars” champion is on trial in Miami on conspiracy and tax evasion charges along with his sister and lawyer. All three could get more than six years in prison if convicted. Indy Star

More evidence on that issue came Friday from Miami banker Guido Chipy, who was involved in a 2001 mortgage taken out by Castroneves. In documents provided by Miller, Castroneves is identified as being the sole owner of a company in which the $5 million in Penske money will be deposited.

But Chipy also acknowledged that nearly all the mortgage application information came from Miller and that he had no contact with Castroneves during the process.

"The only thing he did was sign it?" asked Castroneves attorney David Garvin.

"That's correct," Chipy said.

[Editor's Note: The prosecution is driving more nails in Helio's coffin.  If Penske's attorney, Bluth, was so concerned about the damage Helio hiding his taxes would do to racing should he be caught with tax evasion, Penske would have never agreed to pay or defer Helio's money to an off-shore location.  Bluth and his legal staff are no dummies, they know exactly what was going on and the scheme that appears to have been in play.  And you wonder why the IRS gets a better than 90% conviction rate in these cases?  The evidence against the perpetrators is usually quite damaging. And if Castroneves was sole owner of the off-shore company he had to sign those papers at some point too.  He didn't know he was signing to be sole owner of a company?  Just call us dumb.]

03/11/09 Kevin Savoree, now an executive at Andretti Green Racing, gave conflicting testimony today in defense of Helio Castroneves.  Savoree handled accounting work for Castroneves in 1999 and 2000.  Savoree said when he handled accounting work for Castroneves in 1999 and 2000, the plan was to set up a legitimate deal in which much of the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner's income would be deferred. That meant his taxes owed to the IRS also would be deferred until he actually got the money.

"Helio Castroneves never suggested that you do something improper, right?" asked Castroneves attorney David Garvin.

"Absolutely not," Savoree replied.

But Savoree acknowledged helping draft a memo describing the ultimate goal as having Castroneves "maintain a residence in a tax haven, such as Monaco."

Asked by prosecutor Jared Dwyer how much U.S. tax Castroneves would have paid on the $5 million if he had made that move, Savoree answered, "Perhaps zero."

Savoree said Castroneves had minimal involvement in his financial dealings, but he also said the race car driver got "mad as hell" at one point as discussions dragged on in 2000 about the deferred income account. "He was upset. He wanted the matters resolved," Savoree testified.

The original plan was for Penske to transfer the money to a Panamanian company called Seven Promotions. But Savoree said he balked at that because Panama's status as a tax haven meant Penske would deduct 30% for U.S. taxes from the $5 million before making the deposit.

"I wasn't comfortable with Panama," he testified.

Prosecutors say Castroneves secretly controlled Seven Promotions and therefore is liable for taxes on the entire $5 million, even though it eventually wound up with the Dutch firm Fintage.

So the bottom line is that Savoree was aware that Castroneves wanted to set up a plan to defer his taxes and he acknowledged helping to draft a memo describing the goal of Castroneves was to maintain a residence in a tax haven such as Monaco. Well duh.....He would then take his money out of Fintage once he moved to Monaco and, would therefore, not have to pay any income tax on it.  How convenient is that? So although Savoree was brought on by the defense team to help Castroneves, he may have actually hurt the cause and it appears from our non-legal eyes that the government's case against Castroneves is getting stronger.  Information for this article came form this AP article. More ...

03/13/09
tv news
Allmendinger, McNish and Letarte guests on Wind Tunnel  Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain will feature three special guests this Sunday night including AJ Allmendinger, NASCAR Sprint Cup driver for Richard Petty Motorsports; Steve Letarte, Crew Chief for NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Jeff Gordon; and Allan McNish, ALMS current Audi factory driver and defending winner at Sebring.

Tune in to watch Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on Sunday night, March 15 at 9:00 pm – 10:00 pm ET live on SPEED.

03/13/09
alms
Andy Lally Rejoins Dyson Racing for Sebring  Andy Lally will be partnering with Chris Dyson and Guy Smith in the #16 LMP2 Mazda Lola Coupe for the 57 th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 21.  Lally is a long-term contributor to Dyson Racing, having driven in prior American Le Mans Series races at Sebring and Petit Le Mans for the team.  At last year's Sebring Twelve Hour, he finished second overall with fellow Dyson drivers Butch Leitzinger and Marino Franchitti.
03/13/09
f1
Kovalainen gained weight for 2009  (GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen bucked this winter's trend by actually putting on a significant amount of weight.

While most of his rivals shed kilograms ahead of the introduction of heavy KERS systems, the McLaren driver revealed he now weighs nearly 5kg more than he did one year ago.

Finn Kovalainen, 27, trained hard with a new physio and intentionally wanted more muscle mass, the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat said.

His centerpiece exercise was cross-country skiing.

"I now weigh 4.5 kilograms more than I did at the same time last year," said Kovalainen, who now weighs 65kg.

The introduction of KERS makes it an unusual time for a driver to put on weight, but Heikki insists the move was right for him.

"Personally I feel considerably better now.  I have no pressure to lose weight," he said.

03/13/09
f1
Ecclestone set to lose £1bn  UPDATE What part of the word 'divorce' does the diminutive Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone not understand? On Wednesday, his Croatian-born (former) wife Slavica was granted a decree nisi at the London High Court, so terminating their 24-year marriage, but Bernie appears to be in a serious state of denial about the matter, and suggests today he may be able to rekindle their relationship and perhaps even persuade her to re-marry him.

Bernie is delusional to think he will get his £1bn and Slavica back
"I last spoke to her 10 days ago and it's true we're not really talking," Ecclestone, 78, told the Daily Mail. "But who knows? Maybe after she has thought about it, we can get back together.

"In fact, I see no reason at all why we shouldn't even get married again. Other divorced people have - why can't we?" He added: "Everyone who knows Slavica knows there is a crazy side to her, but it's the reason I love her. I thought I would be with her until my 90s, which was when my father died."

Earth to Bernie - get over it, say goodbye to £1bn.  That is a lot of money to lose and is the only reason why Bernie would want her back.  If you know Bernie you know what money means to him - everything.  Prediction - she isn't coming back, and she's laughing all the way to the bank.

03/12/09 On Wednesday Bernie Ecclestone and his wife were granted a quickie divorce in the High Court in London on the grounds that 24-year marriage had "irretrievably" broken down.  The divorce payout, though, is what has really caught the attention with the Daily Star claiming that Ecclestone is 'understood to be ready to settle for £1bn.'

That would make the 78-year-old's payout to his ex-wife the biggest in world history.

Neither Ecclestone nor Slavica were present at Wednesday's hearing as the decree nisi was granted. It will be followed by a decree absolute in six weeks.

03/13/09
alms
lms
First major challenge for Audi R15  
Audi R15
Now it’s serious: After tests in Spain and Italy, the first race looms for the new Audi R15 TDI. During the 12-hour race at Sebring (Florida, USA) on Saturday, March 21, the new diesel racing sportscar meets the competition from Acura/Honda, Peugeot and others.

For Audi Sport Team Joest, the US endurance classic acts specifically as an endurance test and to gauge the level of competiveness for the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 13/14, 2009. At the same time, the team under Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich aims to continue the brand’s impressive run of results at Sebring around the demanding race track in the heart of Florida: Audi has won eight times to date – in just ten races.

It is tradition that new prototypes from AUDI AG make their debut at Sebring: Audi started its first ever sports car race at Sebring on March 20, 1999. At that time Michele Alboreto, Dindo Capello and Stefan Johansson claimed third position first time out with the Audi R8R fielded by Audi Sport Team Joest.

A year later on the debut of the Audi R8, Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro, took Audi’s first victory in a sports car race. Another 62 wins would follow and make the R8 one of the most successful LMP1 sports cars in history. More ...
03/13/09
f1
British firm to design French GP track  Pierre Bedier, the president of the Yvelines Conseil General has revealed details of the planned F1 factory at Flins-Les Mureaux, in the Seine Valley to the west of Paris. Bedier said that the French firm of Wilmotte et Associes has presented the best project, which includes the circuit design by the British firm Apex, which designed the Dubai Autodrome and is involved with a number of other circuit designs around the world. The track will be 2.8 miles in length and will be laid out on a 235-acre site. The plan is for 120,000 seats and budget estimates for the project are $142m. The circuit will include a conference centre capable of hosting 1000 people so that the track can have other events in the course of the year.

The track will feature a long straight of around 1000m. This will go into a tight corner and will be preceded by a fast corner and that should provide plenty of opportunity to overtake.

The design was picked by a jury of 18 people and its chief attraction was that it respects the local environment while also creating sustainable development.

The plan is for the circuit to be ready in time for a race in 2011. Grandprix.com

03/13/09
track news
ISC issues smaller bonuses to top two execs  International Speedway Corp. issued smaller bonuses to its two top executives in 2008 than it did in 2007. According to its 2009 proxy statement filed Wednesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, ISC Chairman Jim France's total compensation was $1.04 million in 2008 - $48,000 less than what he made in 2007 with his bonus about $28,000 less than a year ago. ISC President Lesa France Kennedy's bonus was more than $25,000 less than a year ago, and her total compensation was $768,454, down from $814,159 in 2007. Executive Vice President John Saunders and Senior Vice President Roger VanDerSnick did receive higher bonuses and overall compensation. Saunders' total compensation was $639,450 in 2008 compared with $632,944 in 2007, while VanDerSnick made $507,345 in 2008 compared with $457,002 in 207. As of March 9, the France Family Group owned 68.91 percent of the voting stock in the company. Jim France, brother of the late Bill France Jr., is listed as owning 46.23 percent of the voting stock, while Betty Jane France, Bill France Jr.'s widow, owns 20.57 percent. Lesa France Kennedy, Bill France Jr.'s daughter, owns 2.66 percent, and Brian France, Bill France Jr.'s son, owns 0.23 percent. All are members of the France Family Group, which also includes their children. Scene Daily
03/13/09
nassprint
Earnhardt Ganassi still searching for #8 sponsorship  
Aric Almirola
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing has sponsorship for Aric Almirola for the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Bristol and Martinsville and will definitely enter him April 5 at Texas, but his schedule beyond Texas is still pending sponsorship, EGR President Steve Lauletta says. Dale Earnhardt Inc. had intended to run Almirola the full 2009 season, but after the partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing was formed last November, Almirola's situation has been cloudy with no full-time sponsor. Almirola has 22 career Cup starts, and the #8 team currently is 36th in the owner points. Lauletta confirmed that Almirola will have Champion on the car for Bristol and then Guitar Hero: Metallica for Martinsville, but he wouldn't elaborate on those companies' plans for future events. He said the team still needs sponsorship to get past Texas. Scene Daily
03/13/09
f1
Aussie GP projected to have huge losses again  There isn't a race promoter in F1 that Bernie Ecclestone and the FOM don't bankrupt.  Not a single one turns a profit and if not for government subsidies, are really bankrupt corporations.

Australia's 25th Formula One Grand Prix is set to be different from its predecessors in almost every way, except one - it will again lose money. And as has previously been the case, the losses will be picked up by taxpayers.

The Australian Grand Prix Corporation launched the 2009 race on Friday, unveiling the twilight program forced on it by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.  This year's race will start at 5pm to cater for European fans who had been troubled by early morning TV telecasts in past years, but will now see the year's first GP launch from the starting grid as they eat breakfast.  Grand Prix chief executive Drew Ward said the twilight theme would be embraced throughout the four days of the event with action on the first three days continuing until 7pm, with discount tickets to attract fans after work.

What won't be changing, however, is any requirement for the GP to make a profit.  The 2008 grand prix suffered a record $40 million loss, funded by the Victorian government.  Mr. Ward said the event will record another loss but its goal was to provide the best return for the government.

"It is not forecast to be run at a profit," Mr. Ward told journalists.

While financial concerns are acute this year, it could be even worse in 2010 with the withdrawal from F1 sponsorship worldwide of the Dutch insurance and investment group ING.

Mr. Ward said a replacement sponsor was yet to be determined.

03/13/09
nhra
Wiley X Eyewear announces NHRA sponsorship  Wiley X Eyewear, a leading provider of high-performance protective eyewear for high-speed enthusiasts around the globe as well as the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, has announced its sponsorship plans for the 2009 NHRA season.

Wiley X is continuing its ongoing partnership with successful and popular Pro Stock driver Jim Yates. Wiley X will be a primary sponsor of Yates’ Pontiac GXP Pro Stock car for the first four NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing events of 2009. The season kicked off with the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, followed by the Lucas Oil Slick Mist NHRA Nationals in Phoenix. Two events in March will round out 2009’s opening quartet of championship races: the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville and the O’Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Pennzoil in Houston. Wiley X will continue to support Yates with an associate-level sponsorship for the remaining 20 events in 2009.

Wiley X also announced its continuing associate-level sponsorship of Jim Dunn Racing’s Canidae All Natural Pet Foods Funny Car for the 2009 campaign.

“We’re very proud to be associated with NHRA Championship Racing and to be supporting these top drivers,” said Wiley X Inc. President of Sales Myles Freeman Jr. “And, more importantly, we’re ecstatic to play a role in their success.”

03/13/09
f1
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Brawn on pole for title bombshell
  • Haug admits new McLaren 'far too slow'
  • France on track for F1 return
  • Schu in 'no hurry' for Ferrari talks
  • BMW 'not title favorites' - Kubica

Brawn on pole for title bombshell
(GMM)  The newly-rescued Brawn GP on Thursday continued to astound its rivals at Barcelona, on the last day of the final group test of the winter.

Not only was Rubens Barrichello atop the timesheets, he bettered teammate Jenson Button's astonishing time of Wednesday and was nearly a full second clear of the quickest of his dumbfounded rivals.

The cynics are not now wondering if the BGP001 is fuelled light, but how much below the mandatory 605kg minimum weight it is circulating.

Up and down the pitlane, however, the message is clear: if Brawn is running representative fuel and a legal weight, the car is the runaway favorite to win in Australia.

Asked by La Gazzetta dello Sport who he would put his money on for Melbourne, BMW's Robert Kubica laughed: "Button!"

"Seeing a truly competitive car again really excites me," said Barrichello, who switched from Ferrari to Brawn's previous guise Honda in 2006.

"I feel bursting with energy.  After two or three not so good seasons I'm feeling positive again.  And I'm back to win," the Brazilian added. More ...

03/12/09
f1
Brawn just wants respect  
Ross Brawn
Ross Brawn is hoping for nothing more than respectability from a season that will undoubtedly be his most challenging in Formula One. Brawn may concede to overcoming his 'biggest hurdle' in salvaging from the ashes of Honda Racing the new Brawn GP team, and he may possess one of the most astute technical brains in the business. But with the new season just three weeks away, and with the new car only due to take to the track for its first official outing in Barcelona on Monday, his problems have surely only just started.

Brawn is far from naive as he is expecting to encounter those problems, but he also feels in light of the staff retained, they can produce a creditable display over the course of the season.

"The biggest hurdle we faced was being in a position to race in Melbourne, and we will now be able to achieve that target," said Brawn, who has confirmed he owns the team.

"Initially we may experience some reliability issues resulting from the lack of track testing, but we feel we have a good car and we hope that our performance will be respectable."

"We are confident in the fundamental design principle of our car and look forward to the opportunity to develop it further as the season progresses."

"But I know we will take away from Melbourne an enormous sense of pride and achievement at having already met and overcome our biggest challenge." More ...

03/12/09
automotive
GM tells Obama to keep March loan money  General Motors Corp. said it told President Barack Obama’s autos task force that it won’t require $2 billion to survive this month, while Chrysler LLC said it still needs aid in March.  “We’ve run a little ahead in some of the cost-reduction stuff,” GM chief Executive Rick Wagoner told reporters in Washington today, without committing to a deadline for needing aid.

Chrysler, which has requested an additional $5 billion “is focused on its viability plan,” spokesman Stuart Schorr said in a statement. Schorr noted that Chrysler said Feb. 17 it “will not have ample liquidity to operate,” if it doesn’t receive additional funds and restructure liabilities by March 31.

GM’s delay in requesting more government loans may indicate that about $15 billion in spending cuts are working. In July, GM said it was reducing salaried benefits, delaying products and closing plants to trim the need for cash, and added Nov. 7 that it would scale back further. On Feb. 17, GM said it needed $2 billion by March 31 to stay in business even after reining in expenses.

“It’s positive with the respect that they are able to get by another month without government loans,” said Dennis Virag, president of Automotive Consulting Group Inc. in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “The downside is that while things are changing rapidly, it still gives the appearance GM doesn’t have internal control over what their costs are. It could cause confusion.”

03/12/09
racing news
World's Billionaires Racing Names, Penske and Smith fall off 2009 list  UPDATE Two of NASCAR’s richest people have dropped off Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires. Roger Penske, who owns Penske Racing in NASCAR and other teams in a variety of other auto racing series, had a net worth of $2.7 billion last year, but he isn’t on the list of billionaires this year. Neither is Bruton Smith, the chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., who had a net worth of $1.2 billion last year, according to the magazine. More at SceneDaily.com

Please note that John Henry, Roush Fenway Racing co-owner, has been added to the Forbes list of World's Billionaires, who was inadvertently omitted in our original list of racing names.

03/12/09 We went through the 2009 Forbes list of the World's Billionaires and spotted these racing names:

Ranking

Name Net Worth ($ Billion)
132 John Menard Jr. 4.0
151 Bernard Ecclestone & family 3.7
151 Dietrich Mateschitz 3.7
647 John Henry 1.1
701 James France 1.0

03/12/09
nhra
NHRA Safety pioneer Jim Deist dies  Jim Deist, who created some of the first commercially available parachutes for use in drag racing and founded Deist Safety in 1958 to continue that work in other lines of driver safety, died March 9. He was 80.

Deist learned the parachute-manufacturing business while working at Irving Air Chute in the late 1940s, and his passion for drag racing led him to combine the two. With the encouragement of early parachute customer Mickey Thompson, he founded Deist Safety and soon added custom seat belts and, in 1961, his first firesuit. Deist also expanded beyond the dragstrip to include land-speed-record cars.

Deist was a founding member of SEMA and helped initiate the Meets SFI Specs program and was inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame. More ...

03/12/09
alms
Curtain to raise on BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team M3s  The two BMW M3s of the Rahal Letterman Racing Team will make their competitive debut at the 57th annual 12 Hours of Sebring on March 21st as BMW returns to the American Le Mans Series for the first time since the 2006 season.

Assembled at Rahal Letterman Racing’s Hilliard, Ohio headquarters over the past three months, the two BMW M3 racing cars represent more than two years of planning, design, construction and testing.

In recent weeks both M3s have had to undergo substantial additional modifications. Originally conceived for the GT2S class, the M3s have now been consolidated into GT2. Following the January 26-28 Winter Test IMSA further clarified aerodynamic, restrictor, and fuel cell specifications. Close cooperation with IMSA and the ALMS meant the team could prepare one of the cars for an additional two days of testing at the end of February. More ...

03/12/09
f1
Briatore unhappy with diffuser rules  
Flavio Briatore
Renault boss Flavio Briatore has complained that rival teams are flouting the spirit of Formula 1’s rules with controversial diffuser designs – and warned that his team may lodge an official protest at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

The governing FIA has provisionally declared the designs legal, with president Max Mosley admitting last month that some team cleverly exploited a loophole in the regulations.

Briatore, however, believes the designs defeat the intent of the rule book and has called on the FIA to clarify the situation.

“F1 must have rules that apply equally to everybody,” he was quoted as saying by Gazzetta dello Sport.

“It’s not fair that certain diffusers are made one way and others in another way, because I don’t think it’s right that every team has its own rule book. More ...

03/12/09
f1
Barcelona: Day 4 team test notes  Preseason testing came to a close for many teams today in Barcelona, with the fourth day of action at the Spanish Grand Prix track. Early-morning fog meant running was delayed for over an hour at the start of the day, but the drivers soon made up for the lost time. On top of the timesheets for the second consecutive day was Brawn GP, with Barrichello clocking the week's quickest time in the afternoon on a qualifying simulation.

Brawn-Mercedes
Driver: Rubens Barrichello (1st, 1:18.926, 110 laps)
Barrichello brought Brawn GP's inaugural test week to a successful conclusion today, completing 110 laps and running through a full race-weekend simulation. The morning saw the team complete a full race distance, complete with pitstops and using both types of Bridgestone tire, while in the afternoon Rubens undertook a series of qualifying simulations, during which he clocked his quickest time.

Rubens Barrichello: “I'm very pleased with the mileage that we have achieved today and the completion of another full race distance. The qualifying exercises were also very useful in enabling the team and I to get fully up to speed and ready for Melbourne. The car has proved fast and reliable throughout the week so we go to Jerez feeling positive and pleased with the results of our first test outing.”

Ross Brawn (Team Principal): “We are extremely pleased with the inaugural test of the BGP 001 car in Barcelona this week. The team made a very late start to our pre-season testing program with only seven days in which to run the car before the first race in Melbourne, therefore our focus has been on reliability and achieving as much mileage as possible. Both of these aims have been successfully achieved this week. That the car has run so reliably 'out of the box' is a tribute to the strong team that we have at our factory in Brackley and they have done a great job during a very difficult period. The car is performing to our expectations and the feedback from Jenson and Rubens has been positive with both drivers completing full race distances. We have three further days of testing in Jerez next week to complete our preparations for the first race and I look forward to seeing how the car progresses from here.” More ...

03/12/09
atlantic
Garcia Flies Atlantic with Condor to Conquer America  Borja Garcia will be racing in the 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda with Condor Motorsports after testing with the team at the Palm Beach International Raceway on Tuesday and Wednesday and topping the time sheets in all four sessions, with a best time of 1.07.286, leaving 2008 Champion Markus Niemela and the rest of the field in the distance.

In a move masterminded by his management company, CJ Motorsport Consulting, the talented Spaniard follows in the footsteps of fellow CJ Driver Franck Perera, who successfully took up the same challenge in 2007.

At the time, following an equally dominant first test at Laguna Seca, Perera literally rewrote the record books (3 Wins, 8 Podiums, 2 Poles, 1 Best Lap, Top Five in all 12 Races) on his way to the 2007 Rookie of the Year title. He narrowly missed out on the overall title to series returnee Raphael Matos. More ...

03/12/09
alms
Patr¢n Highcroft Racing ready for LMP1 Sebring debut  DANBURY, CT: When Patr¢n Highcroft Racing hits the track for official practice next Wednesday for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, it will be the culmination of 201 days of intense preparation for the team's debut in the LMP1 class of the American Le Mans Series with the new Acura ARX-02a.

The team was announced on August 29 last year as one of the two squads representing the Acura brand in its graduation to the highest level of international sports car competition. Patr¢n Highcroft Racing earned the honor after claiming four LMP2 victories last year, with Scott Sharp and David Brabham also clinching Acura's first overall victory at Lime Rock Park.

Sharp and Brabham will be joined by 2007 Indy 500 and IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti for the season opener at Sebring. More ...

03/12/09
irl
Rahal & Doornbos conclude NHLR's 2-Day Sebring Test  Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) drivers Graham Rahal and Robert Doornbos completed a trouble-free day of testing today at the 1.65-mile Sebring International Raceway to bring the team’s two-day test here to a close.  It was the team’s first time to conduct two full days of testing on a road course in an Indy car since they joined the IndyCar Series one year ago. 

Robert Doornbos
After testing here on Tuesday, Doornbos utilized his additional allocation of test miles given to series rookies and ran again today.  For Rahal, it was the first time he got behind the wheel of an Indy car on a road course for testing since the team had to abort a three hour test here on April 1, 2008 when rain ended the day after approx. six laps.  Both Rahal and Doornbos were happy with the progress made throughout the day.

“It was really nice to get back in the race car on a road course,” said Rahal who set a fast lap time of 52.8.  “It was my first time in about five months, since the Surfer’s Paradise (Australia) race, to be on a road course so it was a bit of a wake-up session this morning.  As the day went on I feel we learned a lot of good things that can help us all season.  I think a lot of the things we tried will translate to the tracks we will race on this season and that is what we need most.” More ...

03/12/09
irl
Four IndyCar rookies ready for battle  Raphael Matos has won four championships in the last six seasons, working his way through the developmental racing ranks to a full-time ride in the IndyCar Series. While a fifth title might be a bit ambitious for 2009, Matos will be a top contender for Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year honors.  

Matos is one of four rookies entered full time in the IndyCar Series in 2009, joined by Stanton Barrett, Mike Conway and Robert Doornbos. All four will be contenders for the $50,000 prize.  

Of the four, Matos should have the easiest learning curve. The 27-year-old won the 2008 Firestone Indy Lights championship, competing on many of the same circuits as the IndyCar Series in a race car that is the most similar to the one used in the IndyCar Series.  

“I feel comfortable and I have been successful at pretty much every road course that we will be racing at, so it’s just a matter of having all the pieces together,” Matos said. More ...
03/12/09
irl
Pole will be worth one point  Indy Racing League officials have altered the bonus points awarded during an IndyCar Series race weekend to match Firestone Indy Lights – two points for leading the most laps and one point for the pole winner, marking the first time since 2000 that points will be awarded based on qualifying. Since 2001, the lap leader received all bonus points. 

The pole winner also will receive the $10,000 PEAK Performance Pole Award prize for races other than the 93rd Indianapolis 500 ($100,000). 

“The fight for the pole is full of drama on ovals and on road and street courses,” said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and operations for the IndyCar Series. “It seems appropriate that the driver who can survive four laps driving on the edge on ovals, or who can make it through three elimination rounds on road and street courses, be rewarded for their efforts with a point towards the championship.” More ...
03/12/09
nnw
NASCAR crew  member suspended over substance abuse policy  UPDATE R3 Motorsports officials say they respect NASCAR’s decision to indefinitely suspend one of the Nationwide Series team’s former crew members.  The team issued a statement Thursday about the suspension of John Boyd, who NASCAR said was found to be in violation of its substance-abuse policy. The team said Boyd was a contract employee who served as a tire carrier on race day and was not a day-to-day employee.

“We strongly support NASCAR and their continued effort regarding their substance-abuse policy,” R3 co-owner Rob Fuller said. “NASCAR respectfully contacted us in advance to inform us of the test results for Mr. Boyd. We thank them for their professionalism in this matter. Mr. Boyd must now deal directly with NASCAR regarding this issue.  R3 Motorsports is fairly new to NASCAR competition, and we want them, our sponsors, crew members and fans to know we stand by and support NASCAR’s substance-abuse initiatives. We will continue to work with them in the future in regards to this and all matters.”

03/11/09 John Boyd, a licensed crew member for the #23 team in the Nationwide Series, has been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR for violating the sanctioning body's substance abuse policy. On March 9, Boyd was found to have violated Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 7-5 (violation of the NASCAR substance abuse policy) of the 2009 NASCAR rule book. NASCAR PR
03/12/09
f1
Big F1 teams shocked by Brawn GP pace  Brawn GP have taken their Formula One rivals by surprise with their buoyant showing in testing here this week, with Ferrari's Felipe Massa one of those won over by the new team.  After Jenson Button had posted the quickest time here on Wednesday for the former Honda F1 team bought by Ross Brawn it was the turn of Rubens Barrichello to continue the good work on Thursday.

The Brazilian sped round the Catalunya circuit leaving the likes of Massa and world champion Lewis Hamilton in his wake, posting a fastest time of 1min 18.926 seconds in a 110-lap session for the new Formula One outfit. Barrichello was almost one second faster than Nico Rosberg in a Williams with Hamilton's McLaren almost two seconds slower.

Massa, who clocked a best time of 1:20.677, has been impressed with the speed of the new Brawn and its Mercedes engine.

"This Brawn has surprised everyone," said the man pipped by Hamilton for the world title last season.

"Before Barcelona we (Ferrari) were one of the quickest on the circuit, we were very competitive, in the leading pack. Now we're competitive, but behind Brawn."

Massa added: "No one can do the same times (as Brawn). Everyone was using less fuel, not only them. But their times were much faster than those that anyone else could do." AFP

03/12/09
alms
Primetime announces Sebring lineup  Primetime Race Group is pleased to announce their driver lineup for the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida at Sebring International Raceway. Campaigning the #11 GT2 Viper on Saturday March 21st, Primetime owner Joel Feinberg will drive alongside his 2008 teammate, Chris Hall, and Ft. Lauderdale native Ritchie Holt.

The addition of Holt brings over 15 years of competitive talent to the Primetime squad. Holt’s previous racing includes the F2000 Skip Barber Series, Motorola Cup, as well as Late Model circle track racing. Holt is no stranger to the cockpit of a Viper, he currently races his own GTS Viper in the PBOC and NASA regional series and owns two other street Vipers. More ...

03/12/09
f1
Barcelona Day 4 PM test times  
Pos Driver Team Car Time Behind Laps
1. R. Barrichello Brawn GP BGP 001 1:18.926 +0.000 110
2. N. Rosberg Williams FW31 1:19.774 +0.848 120
3. T. Glock Toyota TF109 1:20.091 +1.165 128
4. S. Vettel Red Bull Racing RB5 1:20.576 +1.650 83
5. F. Alonso Renault R29 1:20.664 +1.738 64
6. F. Massa Ferrari F60 1:20.677 +1.751 92
7. R. Kubica BMW Sauber F1.09 1:20.740 +1.814 134
8. L. Hamilton McLaren MP4-24 1:20.869 +1.943 70
9. S. Buemi Toro Rosso STR4 1:21.013 +2.087 62
10. G. Fisichella Force India VJM-02 1:21.045 +2.119 141
03/12/09
nassprint
Harvick against two races per track  Richard Childress Racing's Kevin Harvick is not in favor of NASCAR returning a second race date to historic Darlington Raceway – nor, for that matter, seeing a second race at other tracks.

While the driver of the No. 29 Chevrolet says he enjoys racing at the 1.366-mile track and is looking forward to running in the Southern 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on May 9, he says that a second Darlington date would be a mistake. Harvick would rather see a schedule in which the Cup series visits each track only once during the season.

"There's a lot of different markets that we can go to, and that would make the sport even stronger than it already is," Harvick said.

"Darlington has done a great job of selling this race out, and the fans really enjoy it. I think a second race would hurt a track like Las Vegas. It's hard to take a step back and undo something that's already been done."

The last year Darlington hosted two Cup races was 2004. Scenedaily.com
03/12/09
f1
Alonso thinks Brawn GP pace is real  Fernando Alonso believes that the pace shown by Brawn GP in testing at the Circuit de Catalunya is indicative of the former Honda team’s true pace.

Ross Brawn’s team spent the first two days of the test towards the top end of the timesheets, before Jenson Button set the fastest time of the week so far.

Alonso says that the team under new management’s pace is real, as he listed the cars he believes are ahead of the others at the moment, leaving out his former employees McLaren, who have struggled in Barcelona.

"It is difficult to judge now although Toyota, Ferrari, BMW or Brawn are very fast," Alonso was quoted as saying by Spanish daily Diario AS. "The competition is very tough and all [the teams] are working well, with good progression. It is clear that three or four are in front of the rest." More ...

03/12/09
f1
Green light turns red for French GP?  UPDATE #5 French authorities on Thursday announced they had selected in principle which circuit would host future French Grands Prix, a year after Magny Cours was dropped from the race calendar.  Pierre Bedier, chairman of the departmental council of the Yvelines region west of Paris, unveiled the project of Parisian architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, whose 4.5km-long, 95-hectare site at Flins-Les Mureaux some 40 km north west of the capital will have seating capacity for a 120,000 crowd.  An onsite conference centre for year-round use will also add to the attraction at the 112-million-euro (144-million-dollar) development.

Those behind the new circuit say it will be technically challenging and conceived as to allow easy overtaking. Wilmotte has been hard at work on the concept in tandem with Clive Bowen of British circuit designer Apex.

"All of the 18 jury members voted for this project," said Bedier.  "This dossier has the virtue of improving a site which is currently lying fallow and not being properly utilized."

Bedier saluted what he termed "an idea which constitutes durable development". AFP

01/29/09 There have been stories in the last 24 hours about the French Assemblee Nationale voting against the idea of a French Grand Prix in the Yvelines. This appears to be a misinterpretation of the amendment in question which is a technical step designed to save time and make the project easier, but does not cast any doubt at all on the project itself.

There is some opposition to the plan from some local residents and some ecologists have expressed worries about the project but the promoters of the idea say they will deal with all the complaints to try to ensure that the plan is supported by the maximum number of people. Grandprix.com

01/29/09 (GMM)  The French parliament has scrapped the senate's earlier approval of a formula one circuit project near Paris.

It was reported this week that obstacles to a French grand prix in 2011 at Flins-sur-Seine, in the department of Yvelines, had been swept away by a government bill amendment.

Map showing location of proposed circuit
But although initially approved with prime minister Francois Fillon's support on the grounds of economic stimulus, the project was also greatly opposed, including by the political opposition and environmentalists.

Members of a joint committee therefore could not reach a compromise between the two chambers, and nullified the senate amendment.

Senator Bariza Khiari said the amendment was "at the expense of Magny-Cours and 400 jobs in Nievre (Nevers)", while environmentalists had argued that the circuit would have been built on important farming land 40 minutes from Paris.

Another government sitting was scheduled to discuss the issue further on Thursday, reports in France said.

01/27/09 (GMM)  The French Senate has approved a bill amendment giving permission for the construction of a formula one circuit near Paris, the sports daily L'Equipe said.

The move, initiated by a group of four senators, is designed to fast-track preparations and overcome bureaucratic obstacles for a French grand prix in 2011 at Flins-sur-Seine, in the department of Yvelines, about a forty minute drive from the French capital.

France, although an historic home of grand prix racing, will not feature on the 2009 or 2010 calendars following the demise of the Magny-Cours event as well as the alternate project at Disneyland Paris.

"If the construction and organization is conducted in a timely manner, it is possible that a grand prix can be held in France from 2011," the senators said. More ...

03/12/09
lms
fiagt
Delivery of the Audi R8 LMS has started  
Delivery of the first Audi R8 LMS to Audi Sport Italia
The new customer sport program of AUDI AG has reached the next stage with delivery of the first Audi R8 LMS to Audi Sport Italia. Twelve examples of the over 500 hp GT3 sports car will be delivered during the forthcoming weeks to six customer teams. The first races for the R8 LMS are scheduled for April.

Audi Sport Italia receives the Audi R8 LMS with chassis number 101. The symbolic handover of the first customer car was made on Tuesday in the Audi Forum Neckarsulm. Emilio Radaelli, Team Manager of Audi Sport Italia, accepted the R8 LMS from Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.

"In the future our new customer sport program represents Audi Sport’s third business field alongside our factory programs in the DTM and in sport prototypes," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "2009 is a test and development year during which we aim to collect as much experience as possible with the R8 LMS. We are delighted to be able to do this with teams with which we are familiar and have established a solid partnership over the years." More ...
03/12/09
f1
Barcelona Day 4 midday test times  The final day of testing in Barcelona is underway and at midday Nico Rosberg was fastest having made a qualifying simulation.  Rubens Barrichello remained fast in the Brawn clocking the 2nd fastest time. 

Considered the greatest British driver of all-time by the British media, Lewis Hamilton remained dead last.  He was credited with winning the world championship last year and was heralded as the next coming of Michael Schumacher, so the British media cannot figure out why he remains dead last.  We doubt he forgot how to drive over the winter.  This year they are blaming the car whereas last year all the credit went to the driver.  Bottom line is that F1 is so technically advanced, the car is 90% of the equation and Mr. Hamilton is pretty much just along for the ride.

Some suspect McLaren is sandbagging.  We will see in Melbourne.

Midday Results

Pos

Driver Team Car Time Behind Laps
1. N. Rosberg Williams FW31 1:19.774 +0.000 54
2. R. Barrichello Brawn GP BGP 001 1:19.971 +0.197 74
3. S. Vettel Red Bull Racing RB5 1:20.678 +0.904 47
4. F. Massa Ferrari F60 1:20.702 +0.928 50
5. R. Kubica BMW Sauber F1.09 1:20.740 +0.966 70
6. T. Glock Toyota TF109 1:20.928 +1.154 68
7. S. Buemi Toro Rosso STR4 1:21.013 +1.239 62
8. G. Fisichella Force India VJM-02 1:21.045 +1.271 63
9. F. Alonso Renault R29 1:21.276 +1.502 42
10. L. Hamilton McLaren MP4-24 1:21.717 +1.943 29

03/12/09
nassprint
Bristol still has tickets for sale  Jeff Byrd, president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway, would not say how many tickets remained nor how many had been sold for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 on March 22.

Although he evaded hard numbers and talked around sales figures, Byrd did tell the Bristol Herald Courier something race fans and NASCAR followers have been waiting months to hear: He anticipates tickets for the Food City 500 will sell out in the next five to six days.

“We’re going to run out of tickets,” Byrd said Wednesday afternoon, sitting in his spacious office that overlooks Volunteer Parkway. “We sold more yesterday than on Monday. And we sold more on Monday than we sold on Sunday.”

If Byrd is right, the sellout would mark the 54th consecutive Cup race that has done so at BMS. The current sell-out streak at the 160,000-capacity track dates to Aug. 28, 1982 and is the longest run in NASCAR. Tricities.com

03/12/09
nassprint
Q&A with Ford engine builder Doug Yates  Doug Yates is a second-generation engine builder who now operates the family racing team — Yates Racing. Doug currently builds engines for Roush Fenway Racing as well as his own team.

What are your primary concerns as an engine-builder?

“The No. 1 job that we have for our teams is to give them the reliability to get to the end of the race, and then, obviously, they want the most power they can get for an advantage. But it seems lately with these cars and the conditions, that we have a lot of really long green runs, so the focus has been pushed to fuel economy…”

What are the challenges of getting the fuel efficiency and horsepower?

“Carburetors are tough to work with and to get the even distribution between eight cylinders is a huge challenge and as our engine company works on different projects with fuel injected and single stacks, you really realize what the challenge is. A lot of Formula One guys can tune each cylinder individually just by a tweak on the computer, but for us, working with a four-barrel Holley carburetor and trying to get good fuel economy is really an interesting engineering challenge.”

What’s the best way for people to conserve fuel in their street cars?

“How you apply the throttle and how you start leaving a red light, if you ease into it and baby the gas somewhat and don’t apply it too fast or too long, you can look at your tach and that will give you a good indication. A lot of cars today have a real-time fuel mileage indicator, so you can see what you’re doing with your miles per gallon, so the driver can make a huge difference.”

03/12/09
nassprint
More on the "Start and Park"  How closely will NASCAR watch for "start and park" teams in this time of less than fully funded fields in Cup races? And how harshly will NASCAR deal with them? That depends on who you talk to within NASCAR. Vice president of competition Robin Pemberton largely confirms what scenedaily.com began reporting Friday: that NASCAR is watching closely. But two officials with higher seniority are taking a more benign posture.

Jim Hunter, NASCAR's veteran vice president for corporate communications, wonders how and why NASCAR could enforce start and park. And NASCAR president Mike Helton doesn't even like to use the term "start and park" anyway. Could NASCAR actually prove a driver has parked, not for mechanical reasons stated, but to save money and still collect the minimum prize to start? "Sure we can," Pemberton said Sunday. "If somebody says the motor was sputtering due to a fuel-pump problem, we can take it apart and look at it." Bottom line, "We're encouraging people to come in and race," Pemberton said.

But, said Hunter, "It's not an issue that's paramount to the success or failure of an event, so why is it an issue [at all]." Said Helton, "I don't look at them as start and parks. I look at them as teams and drivers that are trying to figure out how to get into the sport, and that's a good thing. People talk about start and park as a negative thing, so I don’t like to use that term. "I think of it more as people who have an opportunity," Helton said. "Maybe they're not up to speed yet. Maybe they're not quite capable of doing things that they want to do one day. And this is the way they get started." Helton agrees that "What Robin was referring to, we're watching to be sure that that [getting started] is the intent of these owners."

"If you were going to label somebody a start-and-parker, you would have to understand his financial situation," Hunter says. "Does the guy who might do it this week and not do it next week? Does he have the money to buy tires to really race?" It's race by race, case by case, so that there are so many factors that I don't think it's an issue," Hunter said. ESPN Insider

03/12/09
nascar
Goodyear Tire Test at Darlington Raceway  Darlington Raceway was the site of the latest Goodyear tire test today with four teams, one from each manufacturer that competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, taking to the track. #96-Bobby Labonte, #29-Kevin Harvick, #19-Elliott Sadler and #11-Denny Hamlin began testing Tuesday afternoon with Goodyear engineers on the two-year old surface at Darlington. All four drivers gave the track good reviews and talked about the importance of winning at Darlington Raceway.

“Well obviously this is a very historic race track that we go to,” said Kevin Harvick. “It still has a lot of the characteristics that it’s had for a number of years so to come here and race as a driver in NASCAR, I think that’s something special to everyone in the garage. This is an exciting place for us to race at and to win would be really cool. We’ve been close a couple of times and it would be nice to finally win one.”

“This is a place I got to come to as a kid and watch races because it is not far from where I grew up so to come here and have a chance to win this race is a dream come true,” said Elliott Sadler. “I love that we race here, I’m glad it’s a night race, it’s a great event for us and since we only come here once a year we put a lot of effort into running well here because Darlington is still a huge cornerstone in our sport and represents where we’ve been and how far we’ve come.” More ...

03/12/09
automotive
GM postpones diesel pickup engine  General Motors Corp.'s cash problems have snuffed out plans for a small diesel engine that would have improved the fuel efficiency of the company's light-duty pickup trucks.  Citing the poor economy, the struggling automaker announced Wednesday that it is indefinitely postponing its plan to put a 4.5-liter Duramax V-8 diesel engine in the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups next year.
03/12/09
f1
Toyota eyes longer future in F1 - Howett  (GMM)  Toyota plans to stay in formula one at least until 2012 and possibly even longer, team president John Howett insists.

At the Barcelona test, the Briton addressed speculation that if another carmaker is set to join Honda in pulling out of the sport amid the global recession, it will most likely be Toyota.

"It is said that we will retreat if we do not win.  But when you look at the general economic climate, all the teams have to proceed with caution, and all must be successful, which puts on the pressure," Howett is quoted as saying in the French language by the news agency AFP.

He confirmed that Toyota's current commitment is to 2012 "and perhaps longer".

"But at the same time there is such pressure on the market," Howett added.  "We must provide value to the company.  I am confident though: if we have a strong season, we will stay."

03/12/09
f1
Alonso says Melbourne podium unlikely  (GMM)  Fernando Alonso has slammed the brakes on swinging speculation about the form of his formula one employer Renault.

Following a sluggish start to the 2009 pre-season and then an apparent burst of speed, the 2005 and 2006 world champion clarified that neither interpretation of the R29 single seater is right.

"First we were really bad in Portimao and then we were the best in Jerez, but it is neither one or the other," he is quoted as saying from the final group test at Barcelona.

The Spaniard said that while he is happier with the Enstone based team's preparations this year compared to 2008, the R29 is not leading the field with two weeks to go to Melbourne.

"To be in the first six (in Australia) is almost an impossible task," Alonso, 27, said after the Brawn, Ferrari, BMW and Toyota cars led the pace on Wednesday.

"Some of those (lap) times are unattainable at the moment for us, with or without fuel.  They are a step ahead of us," he admitted.

"But we are not so far away, some tenths, and if our rate of evolution is as good as it was last year, we can have good hopes."

Alonso said victory at Albert Park is unlikely.

"Even though we have done good preparations, I expect that some other teams have a small lead, for example BMW who are about two and a half months ahead of us.

"Some teams are showing incredible speed, also like Toyota and Brawn.  And on Tuesday we could not have had the times of the Ferrari, the same today (Wednesday) probably with the Brawn.

"We are going well.  Last year I thought I was just going to be a tourist -- seeing the tracks and the cities and nothing much else, so I am more optimistic this time," Alonso added.

03/12/09
f1
Brawn stuns F1 by smashing pole record  (GMM)  Even the cynics were astonished when Jenson Button cut the timing beam on the Circuit de Catalunya pit straight on Wednesday.

Low fuel run to impress potential sponsors or not, the Brawn GP had circulated the Barcelona layout in an unofficial 1min19.1.

Last April for the Spanish grand prix at the same venue, Robert Kubica's BMW was the fastest car in the low-fuel Q2 phase -- a 1min20.5.

"If it stays like this, Brawn GP will be all by themselves at the front in Melbourne," Sebastian Vettel marveled to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

Likewise, Fernando Alonso on Wednesday admitted that the BGP001 currently seems faster than his Renault.  "Brawn is not such a surprise for me because they have been preparing their car for a long time.

"They have done great work with the aerodynamics," the Spaniard added.

After a similarly impressive Monday and Tuesday in Spain, Button's Mercedes-powered car, fundamentally designed under Honda ownership last year, was a full second and more quicker than the chasing Ferrari, BMW and Toyotas.

At the other end of the spectrum, McLaren's woeful winter continued on Wednesday, Lewis Hamilton slowest of the ten runners and at one point in the barriers at turn 2.

Compounding the 2008 world champion's misery, when he returned to the pits from his crash, the ardent Spanish fans made clear their derision with a shower of boos and whistles.

Referring to the Mercedes-powered MP4-24, Ron Dennis told Reuters Television in London on Wednesday: "It is certainly not as fast as we would like it to be.

"But it's early days and we've still got quite a bit of testing to do and quite a bit of development to reflect through into our pace."

03/12/09
a1gp
Dutch team announces drivers for next 2 races  A1 Team Netherlands has decided on its driver line-up for the next two A1GP events. The team will continue its policy of rotating its lead man for the next two meetings, having alternated between Jeroen Bleekemolen and Robert Doornbos all season.

Despite Bleekemolen’s race victory last time out in Gauteng, Doornbos will be installed back in the car for A1GP’s maiden visit to the Algarve on April 12. Bleekemolen will return to race at Brands Hatch on May 3, a venue where traditionally there is the strongest away-support for the bright orange team.

The team is having one of its best campaigns ever, having adopted a much different approach to its driver strategy this campaign. In the first three seasons the team chose to stick with one main driver for the vast majority of races, but in 2008/09 the team has split the events down the middle, constantly alternating its pilot. More ...

03/12/09
f1
Heidfeld optimistic about KERS  The Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) is new to Formula One in 2009; the device will effectively use kinetic energy, built up under braking, and convert this to electrical energy as a means of supplying the engine with extra power, courtesy of a boost button on the cars' steering wheels which should allow overtaking to be easier.

BMW was the first team to experiment with the new device, which operates via the car's battery; this initially caused concern when one of the team's mechanics was electrocuted in Jerez. "That was not so funny," driver Nick Heidfeld told the official F1 website. "After that a lot of thought went into it and since then there have been no further issues." Mechanics can now be seen wearing rubber gloves to avoid similar incidents occurring, with metal plates in pit boxes to earth the charge. More ...

03/11/09
alms
ALMS upgrades their antiquated website  Fans around the world are getting a fresh look at the world's leading sports car series as the American Le Mans Series launches a completely new www.americanlemans.com, the official Web site of the Series. With an enhanced digital Series strategy in place, the new site is the focal point for information whether users are new to the Series or have been following from Day 1.

"The new americanlemans.com represents the cornerstone of our ongoing development of our digital platform," said Series President and CEO Scott Atherton. "Nothing can match the experience of an American Le Mans Series race in person, but the goal of the new americanlemans.com is to recreate that experience online with an unprecedented level of entertainment, information and interaction with the personalities and programs that make up this prestigious championship. The American Le Mans Series is and always will be one that is truly 'For the Fans' and this Web site evolution is just the latest example." More ...
03/11/09
atlantic
Garcia Quickest again in Atlantic testing  After two days of Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda testing at Palm Beach International Raceway, Spanish driver Borja Garcia served notice that he will be a factor in the chase for the $1 million championship prize at the end of the season with a dominating performance in the first Atlantic test session of his career.

The 25-year-old from Valencia, Spain topped the time charts for all four sessions of testing, with a best overall lap at 1:07.286 in the No. 6 machine for Condor Motorsports. With two solid days of testing now under his belt, Garcia will make his way to Sebring International Raceway for the 2009 Atlantic Championship season opener next week. The $50,000-to-win race is scheduled for Friday, March 20.

“We’ll see next week,” Garcia said. “These two days, the team and also I have adapted really good and really quickly with the car to be quickest in all four sessions. We’ll see next week in Sebring. Everything on every track is new for me. We’ll see what happens.” More ...

03/11/09
irl
IZOD's rideless driver  UPDATE Ryan Hunter-Reay is currently without a ride for the upcoming IndyCar Series, but that might not be for long. The winner of last year's race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International said he is talking with two existing teams, including one of his former teams, HVM Racing.  Hunter-Reay said the other is not Rahal Letterman Racing.  Meetings are planned for later this week and next.

"Nothing is imminent," he said today. "But it seems like progress." IndyStar

Ryan Hunter-Reay winning last year at Watkins Glen
Gail Miller/AR1.com
03/10/09
  IZOD is poised to launch one of the largest advertising and promotional campaigns in the Indy Racing League's 14-year history.

Beginning in a few weeks there will be a national television spot, promo trailers in movie theaters, ads in major magazines and newspapers and in-store promotions at Macy's stores across the country that will also include a special Indy 500 clothing line.

It's estimated several million dollars in media value has been budgeted for this project. But there is a little snag in clothing line's plan to take Indy-car racing to the mainstream. No, make that a big snag. The guy they put all the promotion behind, the guy in the TV commercial, the guy in the print ads and the guy on the 90-foot billboard in Times Square doesn't have a ride for the 2009 season.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, signed last summer as the face of the IRL for IZOD, is still unemployed 25 days before the season opener at St. Petersburg.

"I'm told that I don't have to worry, although I don't know what that means yet," said Mike Kelly, the president of marketing for Phillip Van Husen, the parent company of IZOD.

I do know we will have a significant problem if Ryan is not in a car."  More at SPEEDTV.com

03/11/09
atlantic
Wed. AM Atlantic test times from Palm Beach  

03/11/09
f1
Another difficult day for Ferrari  After another difficult morning the rest of the day went very well for the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, busy at the penultimate day with the preparations for the Championship's start at Melbourne. Felipe Massa, sitting today behind the wheel of the Ferrari F60 after Kimi Raikkonen tested over the last two days, compared different setup options in the morning and conducted a real race weekend simulation, with qualifying, race and pit stops.

The day didn't start very well. During Massa's first run he had to stop next to the track, due to a hydraulic problem. The reparation work took until noon and the Team immediately started with the simulation of the three qualifying sessions. But this part also didn't go smoothly, although this time it wasn't the Scuderia's fault. The red flag (Buemi) prevented the Team from completing the qualifying. After the lunch break Felipe started the race simulation and completed it successfully, in contrast to Kimi's attempt yesterday. Felipe drove 109 laps, the best in a time of 1.20.168, the second fastest time of the day, just behind the surprisingly fast Brawn GP with Jenson Button.

The Scuderia's winter tests will end tomorrow on this track, again with Felipe Massa behind the wheel.

03/11/09
f1
Wednesday final F1 test times from Barcelona  
Button in the sponsorless Brawn
Brawn GP's Jenson Button topped the timesheets at the Circuit de Catalunya today as the Formula One team continued its maiden test in Barcelona.

On the third day of testing with the new BGP 001 car, Jenson completed a full race distance with live pit stops in the morning, followed by a qualifying simulation and various set-up evaluations in the afternoon. Another successful day for the team saw Jenson complete an encouraging 130 laps.

"It's been another great day and a very positive test generally," said Button.  "It's so good to have achieved a full day's running, including a race distance, without any issues and it's fantastic that we clocked up so much mileage. After the challenges we have faced, to come here and get off to such an encouraging start is just what we all needed and I can't thank the team enough. All that effort has really paid off and everyone can feel very proud."

Flavio Briatore on Wednesday said not to read too much into this week's test times.  "If you have no sponsors for your car (referring to Brawn GP), you come here to make big lap times.  Otherwise you focus on the preparation of your machine," he said.

Lewis Hamilton crashed his McLaren in Turn 3, much to the delight of the Spanish fans who despise him.

Final Wednesday Test Times

Pos

Driver Team Car Time Behind Laps
1. J. Button Brawn GP BGP 001 1:19.127 +0.000 124
2. F. Massa Ferrari F60 1:20.168 +1.041 109
3. R. Kubica BMW Sauber F1.09 1:20.217 +1.090 109
4. T. Glock Toyota TF109 1:20.410 +1.283 99
5. F. Alonso Renault R29 1:20.863 +1.736 107
6. S. Vettel Red Bull Racing RB5 1:21.165 +2.038 102
7. N. Rosberg Williams FW31 1:21.324 +2.197 89
8. G. Fisichella Force India VJM-02 1:21.545 +2.418 97
9. S. Buemi Toro Rosso STR4 1:21.569 +2.442 140
10. L. Hamilton McLaren MP4-24 1:21.657 +2.530 82

03/11/09
track news
SMI profits up  The owner of Lowe's Motor Speedway on Wednesday reported a smaller fourth-quarter loss and higher profit for 2008, but also said declining revenues in the quarter were the result of “challenging recessionary conditions on admission, merchandising and concession revenues.”

Concord, N.C.-based Speedway Motorsports – which also owns six other major tracks – reported fourth-quarter revenues of more than $130.6 million, down more than 7 percent from a year earlier. Admissions revenues dropped more than 17 percent to $36.1 million.

For the year, however, total revenues were up almost 9 percent to nearly $611 million – due in large part to Speedway Motorsports acquisition of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which hosted two NASCAR Sprint Cup races and other events last year. More ...

03/11/09
f1
Brawn confirms partners in Brawn GP  Ross Brawn has confirmed that Brawn GP is not owned wholly by him and that there are four others involved in the team. These are chief executive Nick Fry, financial director Nigel Kerr, legal counsel Caroline McGrory and HR director John Marsden.

Brawn said that the group had decided to push ahead with the team because the only other choice was to close the team down and lay off the entire staff.

"Things can go wrong," Brawn said, "but we are optimistic and if we can capitalize on the performance of the car - and the car looks good - then I think the team has got a future. If the car was poor then we only have ourselves to blame."

Brawn said that there have been "some very black days" in the course of the recent months as the group fought to keep the team alive.

03/11/09
f1
Three 2009 cars illegal - Briatore  (GMM)  Flavio Briatore on Wednesday said he is concerned that "at least three teams" look set to field illegal cars in 2009.

The Renault boss made a surprise visit to the Barcelona test, and was quoted by Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport as complaining about the interpretation of the rules by some teams in the area of the rear diffuser.

"Apparently there are two rules: one that allows a team to have the diffuser in a certain way, and another that results in (the component's) banning for being illegal.  It is not what we expect," Briatore said.

"We want rules that are black and white, the same for everybody," he added.

He was asked if Renault might lodge an official protest ahead of scrutineering in Melbourne later this month.

"At least three teams do not conform to the regulation.  I do not want it to end as with the engine freeze, which we respected and found ourselves with 50 horsepower less than the others.

"Now it is the same old story," Briatore said.

Briatore also warned observers not to read too much into this week's test times.  "If you have no sponsors for your car (referring to Brawn GP), you come here to make big lap times.  Otherwise you focus on the preparation of your machine," he said.

03/11/09
f1
Ecclestone's wife granted divorce  
The Ecclestone marriage has ended
(GMM)  In a hearing that took less than one minute, a district judge in London on Wednesday granted Slavica Ecclestone a divorce.

Neither the Croatian, a former Armani model, nor her ex-husband, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, were present.

In court papers, Mrs. Ecclestone accused the 78-year-old billionaire of "unreasonable behavior" that had caused her "stress and anxiety".

The judge found that Mr. Ecclestone "behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent" and that the marriage had "broken down irretrievably".

Bernie Ecclestone's papers said he would not dispute the divorce or the legal costs.

A private hearing will be held if a financial settlement cannot be agreed.

Slavica, 50, and Bernie married in 1985 and have two daughters.

03/11/09
f1
Whiting inspects three cars at Barcelona  (GMM)  Three 2009 cars were under Charlie Whiting's microscope as the FIA figure made a flying visit to the Barcelona test.

According to the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, he wanted to closely examine the new Toyota, Williams and BMW-Sauber to ensure the cars are legal ahead of the season opener.

His concern about the impressive Toyota TF109 is its rear diffuser, while in the Williams pits he wanted to discuss the 30cm-high cockpit fairing fins.

Whiting's only interest in the F1.09 BMW was the much smaller fairing fins.

03/11/09
f1
Wednesday AM test times from Barcelona  
Pos Driver Team Car Time Behind Laps
1. F. Massa Ferrari F60 1:20.168 +0.000 19
2. J. Button Brawn GP BGP 001 1:20.313 +0.145 86
3. F. Alonso Renault R29 1:20.863 +0.695 61
4. T. Glock Toyota TF109 1:21.046 +0.878 61
5. S. Vettel Red Bull Racing RB5 1:21.165 +0.997 49
6. R. Kubica BMW Sauber F1.09 1:21.201 +1.033 63
7. N. Rosberg Williams FW31 1:21.482 +1.314 30
8. G. Fisichella Force India VJM-02 1:21.545 +1.377 47
9. S. Buemi Toro Rosso STR4 1:21.569 +1.401 54
10. L. Hamilton McLaren MP4-24 1:21.657 +1.489 46
03/11/09
f1
KERS issues for Ferrari as Schumacher watches on  
Ferrari F60
Tuesday had two faces for the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team. It was Kimi Raikkonen's last day of testing before his departure for the Australian GP and, after testing different setups for his F60, he had a complete race weekend simulation on his agenda, with three qualifying sessions and the race.

Unfortunately the program could not be completed, because the KERS started losing cooling liquid after around ten laps into the race simulation. Until this moment Kimi had driven 55 laps, the fastest in a time of 1.20.314, the best performance in this test session.

"We had a problem with the KERS' cooling system and we preferred to stop and not risk greater damage," Kimi said in front of the press at the circuit. "Until then everything went really well. I think that once we've resolved these small problems with the reliability, we can say that we've got a very good package available. Sure, I would have liked to make a second race simulation, after the one we've done at Bahrain in February, but it's better that some things happen during the tests and not at a GP." More ...

03/11/09
f1
STR team runs into testing setback  
Sebastien Buemi
The lack of laps tell their own story today. After Sebastien Bourdais had completed just 14 laps, a problem was identified on the front suspension of the new STR4, which could not be solved completely without the arrival of new parts from the factory back in Faenza.

Therefore,  rather  than  continue  with  car  development  testing,  it  was decided  by the STR team to  put  Sebastien Buemi  in  the  car,  running    just  "in"  and  "out"  laps,  while carrying out basic systems checks. The reason for the driver switch is that Bourdais had already run in the new car yesterday and on two days last week at the Adria circuit in Italy, therefore it was decided to give Buemi a chance to try his seat position and get a feel for the car for the first time, prior to starting testing proper tomorrow.

03/11/09
f1
Twenty two days is pretty good going says STR  There was an opinion shared by some of the media at the Toro Rosso new car launch on Monday that the STR4 was rather late in getting to the track. The team’s technical director, Giorgio Ascanelli was therefore very keen to set them right.

“I am happy that we have made our debut just 22 days later than Red Bull Racing first ran their new car. This compares very favorably to last year when we were at least 70 days behind Red Bull Racing, which shows we have made progress.”

Twenty two days is pretty good going, when two factors are taken into account; the team’s use of more outside suppliers, as Toro Rosso does not yet have the manpower and production capacity of its sister team and the fact that the car designs from Red Bull Technology are originally based around a different engine to the Ferrari 056 that the Faenza cars use. More ...

03/11/09
f1
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • McLaren gets press to report Vodafone ad
  • Hartley waiting for FIA superlicense
  • No Mark Webber Challenge in 2009
  • No calorie-counting for F1's 'iceman'
  • Toyota set for best-ever F1 campaign
  • Piquet denies Renault driver disparity
  • McLaren 'not where we want to be' - Haug
  • Wurz in Brawn 'advisory' role in 2009
  • Bernie not sorry to see me stay - Rubens
  • Rubens looks forward to life after Honda

McLaren gets press to report Vodafone ad
(GMM)  McLaren and title sponsor Vodafone on Tuesday pulled off a masterstroke: media coverage of an advertisement.

The Mercedes-powered team's head of communications Matt Bishop tipped off selected publications to a viral campaign by Vodafone starring world champion Lewis Hamilton.

The video depicts the 24-year-old Briton controlling his driver-less formula one single seater wirelessly with the use of a Blackberry Storm mobile phone.

Bishop's campaign raised speculation as to whether the footage is genuine, or whether the feat was achieved thanks to digital effects.

"It's amazing what can be done with a Blackberry Storm and that's all I'm prepared to say about it at the moment!" he said.

The video can be watched here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiLoANg6nNY

Hartley waiting for FIA superlicense
(GMM)  Brendon Hartley's role as Red Bull reserve driver in 2009 has not been confirmed because he is yet to receive his mandatory FIA superlicense.

Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost this week revealed that the 19-year-old New Zealander will be the official back-up for the race drivers of the two Red Bull-owned teams this season.

But it has subsequently emerged in the New Zealand press that while Hartley qualified for the mandatory FIA credential at a recent test, he has not yet been issued with the license.

"This thing has prematurely got out -- it's all subject to signing off his superlicense and we're just waiting for that to happen," said Hartley's manager Peter Johnston.

The news agency NZPA said official confirmation of the role is expected within the coming days.

Hartley was expected to race in the F3 Euroseries this year. More ...

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