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Conquest Racing On-track in Sebring  
Conquest's new paint scheme
Sebring , Fla. – Since Conquest Racing took possession of their Dallara chassis, it’s been a grueling last few weeks for the team. Long days, short nights and even all-nighters were part of the regimen in order to make it to the first open-test in Sebring. And today, the mission was accomplished when Conquest Racing completed their first IndyCar Series laps of 2008 at Sebring International Raceway.

The day may not have gone quite as expected for the Indianapolis-based team, but the end result was nonetheless satisfying. Frenchman Franck Perera, who didn’t waste any time getting up to speed, recorded the third quickest time of the day on only his 18th lap. The 23-year-old posted a fast lap of 53.4917 seconds (112.391 mph) which was only half a second off of the quickest lap of the day, recorded by Will Power on his 59th lap. As for Perera’s teammate at Conquest Racing, Enrique Bernoldi, he didn’t turn as many laps, but was still able to shake down the car and get ready for the second day of testing which gets underway at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.  More ...
Marlin Replaces Sauter at Phoenix Racing  Sterling Marlin has replaced Johnny Sauter as the Nationwide Series driver at Phoenix Racing.  Marlin, 50, will make his first Nationwide start of the season Saturday at his hometown track, Nashville Superspeedway.
Brinkworth Models Prepares Limited Editions of 2007 Champ Cars  The Brinkworth 1:10 scale DP01 Champ Car models are now available. To view or commission the 2007 models, visit: http://www.brinkworthmodels.com/panoz/panoz.html.

The Limited Edition 2007 models will be Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing’s championship #1 (Sebastien Bourdais) and #2 (Graham Rahal) cars; Walker Racing’s #5 (Will Power) and #15 (Simon Pagenaud) cars; PKV Racing’s #21 (Neel Jani) car; and Minardi Team USA’s #14 (Robert Doornbos).

The actual size of the models is 19 inches long by 8 inches wide. They are mounted on wood bases with aluminum trim, with a top surface of unpainted 2X2 twill 200gsm 3k Carbon Fiber. The actual piece of material was produced exclusively for Brinkworth Models in the Elan Motorsports factory where the full-size DP01 Champ Cars were built.

“These are high-end hand-built models, not die-cast,” says Al Brinkworth, President & CEO of Brinkworth Models & Design Consultants. “Certainly these will be special collector’s items for Champ Car fans. Our web site contains valuable information on the models, along with hundreds of photographs of our Limited Edition presentation models going back to 1991.”

Models also are available on the internet via the AutoRacing1.com store hosted by Speedgear.

Boris Said to drive in Mexico City and Montreal  Team Rensi Motorsports has signed Boris Said to drive the team’s No. 25 Ford in the upcoming Nationwide Series races in Mexico City and Montreal – both road-course events.

Frank Stoddard, who has worked with Said as crew chief on the NASCAR Sprint Cup No Fear Racing team, will be in the same role for the two Nationwide races. It’s exciting to know Team Rensi Motorsports will now race in every Nationwide Series event,” said Ronnie Russell, president of Team Rensi Motorsports. “We worked real hard to make this happen, it was important to our team to enter every race. Having Boris Said in the No. 25 No Fear/Smithfield Foods Ford Fusion in Mexico City and Montreal will be a real honor. Every race Boris enters he is a threat to win the pole and the race. It will be great having him on our team this season.”

track news
Indiana partnership to design new road course complex in Brazil  The Indiana partnership of Derek Daly Design and Paxton Waters Architecture has announced that it has been commissioned to design and build a new road course race track in Porto Alegre, Brazil.  The complex, known as Velopark, will encompass a drag strip and an FIA category 2 road course.

“We want to build the finest race facility in Brazil,” said Sergio Lima, Vice President of Velopark, and have selected Derek Daly Design and Paxton Waters Architecture based on their unique perspective of road course design.”

“Paxton brings a wealth of ability designing complete facilities from traffic patterns to the people friendly ergonomics required in modern facilities, and Derek’s experience racing in Formula One and Indy cars allows him to bring an exciting new philosophy to the design of modern road courses,” said Klaus Gerdau Johannpeter, owner of Velopark. More ...

Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix Seeking 2008 Event Volunteers  One of Detroit’s most popular events is looking for helpful and friendly Motor City ambassadors to bolster its volunteer corps.

The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix attracted over 100,000 fans last Labor Day weekend and a dedicated team of over 1,000 event volunteers helped make the weekend a smashing success. Eager to make this summer’s Grand Prix – to be held once again on Labor Day weekend, August 29-31, 2008 – an even bigger and better event, officials are looking for volunteers across a broad range of areas.

For more than 25 years the Detroit Grand Prix has been supported by one of the largest and hard-working volunteer staffs in racing. Originally formed in 1982, the very first year that Detroit hosted a Grand Prix auto racing event, the Detroit Grand Prix Association (DGPA) has established itself as a quality volunteer organization. Many other racing venues have used the DGPA model when creating a volunteer force to support their events. With over 1,000 volunteers working hard in all 21 of the previous Grand Prix events in Detroit, the DGPA has also developed a very consistent, knowledgeable and reliable support team. The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix is activating this stellar volunteer corps once again in 2008, while also searching for new members to add to the team. More ...

Raikkonen - "I know that the Team will never lose its focus"  
Kimi Raikkonen in Melbourne
"There's really not much to say about the first race weekend of the season: The only positive thing is, that it's all behind us. We had problems right from Saturday morning and we could not operate according to our plans. Obviously we are really disappointed. There's no point in knowing what we could have done on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, because in the end we would not have finished the race. We don't cry over spilled milk. It doesn't help anyway and would not change the result. Although, with all the problems we had, we still managed to get one point. So in the end one can always find a positive aspect in this Australian weekend. We'll see how important that single point will be by the end of the season.

"The lack of reliability is a real problem for me now. But I know that back in Maranello the Team is working hard to solve our problems. I'm not worried at all about the performance and the competitiveness of the car. The first race was like it was, but we know that we have a really good car. We have to be constantly competitive during the weekend, because when you have to start from far behind, you get stuck in the traffic, just the way it happened at Melbourne. We had a good start, but it is difficult to overtake; you need to take some risks, especially when you have slower cars in front of you. More ...

Luca di Montezemolo lauds Jean Todt  
Jean Todt
Maranello - The Ferrari shareholders' Meeting was held today chaired by the President Luca di Montezemolo.

The Assembly approved the balance sheet and the management report which underlined the excellent results achieved by the Prancing Horse company in 2007, a year of great financial and sporting results.

The year 2007, as announced earlier this year, closed with a record balance: 1,668 million euro invoiced, 6,465 cars delivered to the final client and 266 million euro of ordinary management results are some of the main financial indicators together with the significant investment of 300 million euro in research and development for GT cars.

The Assembly also confirmed all the outgoing members of the Board of Directors for the three-year period 2008-2010. The Board is therefore composed as follows: Luca di Montezemolo, Piero Ferrari, Jean Todt, Amedeo Felisa, Alfredo Altavilla, Diego della Valle, Christopher Gent, Ferruccio Luppi, Sergio Marchionne, Paolo Monferino, Lindsay Owen-Jones, Marco Piccinini and Sergio Pininfarina.

The Board of Directors, in their immediately subsequent meeting, renewed the appointments of Luca di Montezemolo as President of Ferrari S.p.A and Piero Ferrari as Vice-President. More ...

LePan Joins Samax Motorsport  In racing, timing can be everything. And with the recent tumult in the open-wheel world, Samax Motorsport got the timing just right as the team has secured the services of one of the top team managers in the sport, Phil LePan.

LePan has already started work with the Pompano Beach, Florida-based team, which will race again on March 29th as part of the GAINSCO Grand Prix at Homestead Miami Speedway for round two of the 2008 Rolex Sports Car Series season.

“Phil was looking to do something different, and we were lucky enough to be able to grab him before anybody else did,” said team owner Peter Baron. “ Last year due to budget constraints we operated without a full-time team manager, and we’re thrilled to have a Manager with Phil’s credential helping lead the team.  An added bonus, Phil already has a lot of experience working with our Technical Director Steve (Challis) back at Forsythe which resulted in numerous wins, so we are really happy to have him on board and are looking forward to our home race at Homestead.” More ...
Notes from Sebring testing - Transition teams  The Champ Car teams making the switch to the IRL had their first day of testing today at Sebring in their IndyCars (See reports on Home page).  Here are some afternoon notes.

Sounds like these teams have had their work cut out for them......scarcity of parts.....learning new systems and all.....not only that but it sounds like they have many hours and days ahead of them before seeing home. They leave Sebring and go to Homestead for practice...then the Homestead race.....then St. Pete.

Oriol Servia has a picture of Salvador Dali on his helmet...Servia's home is in the same area of Spain where the famous painter lived.  Did you know that St. Petersburg, Florida has the biggest collection of his art outside Spain.

Drivers on track today:

KV Racing Technology....Oriol Servia (Spain)...Will Power (Australia)

Dale Coyne Racing....Bruno Junqueira (Brazil)....Mario Moraes (Brazil)

Conquest Racing....Franck Perera (France).... Enrique Bernoldi (Brazil)

The KV Racing Technology drivers were on track a lot today...much less for the Dale Coyne Racing drivers with Moraes not getting out at all before we left for the day. The Conquest Racing drivers were out on track very little.

Fans wanted a lot of pictures of Oriol.....at least the female fans did.....see our PM report on our Home page.

Alliance Motorsports signs Chris Festa  Alliance Motorsports officials announced that Indy Pro Series veteran Chris Festa will drive the team's No. 24 car during its debut season.

"This is a great day for our organization," said team co-owner Tyce Carlson. "Chris is one of the most poised and experienced drivers in the Indy Pro Series, and we intend to compete for race wins at the drop of the green flag. We have built an incredible group of talented people that will surround Chris to ensure his success."

Festa, 22, is a native of Atlanta who now makes his home in Indianapolis. He has made 39 starts with a best finish of second, most recently at the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last May. More ...

Will Power tops Sebring test times  With just 15 minutes remaining, Will Power turned the fastest lap so far in the opening day of IndyCar testing for the Camp Car teams.  Power's lap of 52.97s was 1/2 second slower than Ryan Briscoe turned when he topped testing at Sebring for the regular IndyCar teams on March 6th.  Testing continues tomorrow, though we could see some faster times turned today at the track cools in the waning minutes.

Test times with 15 min. to go


Driver Diff Best Time Best Speed Best Lap
1 Will Power (8) ... 52.9685 113.501 59
2 Oriol Servia (5) 0.6350 53.6035 112.157 62
3 Bruno Junqueira (18) 1.2896 54.2581 110.804 32
4 Franck Perera (34) 8.3036 1:1.2721 98.120 3
5 Enrique Bernoldi (36) 0.0000 -0.0001 0.000 0
6 Mario Moraes (19) 0.0000 -0.0001 0.000 0

Coyne confirms Junqueira and Moraes  
Bruno Junqueira
Dale Coyne Racing announced that drivers Bruno Junqueira and Mario Moraes will compete on the diverse set of ovals and road/street circuits this season, beginning with the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 29. Dale Coyne Racing, which is marking its 25th year in Indy-car racing, is the fourth Champ Car World Series team that is transitioning to the IndyCar Series.

"Coming over here, the top three teams have set the bar and they will maintain that level all year," Coyne said, referring to Team Penske, Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Green Racing. "I think it will be difficult for any team to be able to crack through those three teams in the first year. But that's the challenge we enjoy.

"Somebody talked (recently) about the things I've done – whether it was when I was a driver, an owner, working with rookies or building a racetrack -- and asked how would I describe myself. I said I'm just a racer. This is what I do; this is what I love. Even the businesses I've done away from racing have been to support the racing program. This has been my life and what I do." More ...

Track News
Long Beach race contract extended to 2015  The partnership that has produced the country's premier street race has been extended.

The Long Beach City Council, in a unanimous vote, has renewed the city's contract with the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach LLC, guaranteeing that the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be racing on the city streets through 2015, with an additional five-year option that could carry it through the year 2020.

"We're very proud that the City of Long Beach - whose vision and foresight has been instrumental in our success since the first race in 1975 - considers the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach such a key ingredient of the city's fabric," said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach LLC.

"We will continue to stage the best street race in the nation and, through international TV and media coverage, showcase Long Beach not only as an unequalled tourist destination, but as a dynamic home to the American business community, as well." More ...

Miller named Crew Chief of the Race in Bristol  Scott Miller, crew chief of the #31 AT&T Mobility Chevy driven by Jeff Burton, was named the Wypall Wipers “Crew Chief of the Race” for his team’s first place finish in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Although Burton only led two laps throughout the entire race, it was the “final” two propelling him to his first career victory at Bristol.

Miller will receive a $1,000 check as a result of his leadership and successful strategy calls during the most critical moments of the race. At both Bristol races this season, not only does the winning crew chief receive $1,000, but a $1,000 bonus is awarded to the winning pit crew as well. The #31 AT&T crew received a $1,000 check during the post-race ceremonies in Victory Lane. More ...

Q&A Adrian Sutil  
Adrian Sutil
Adrian Sutil endured a frustrating weekend for Force India in Australia, which was tarnished by an off in first qualifying that damaged his chassis and engine, and forced him to start from the pitlane. The first lap carnage and early safety car helped him out, and he soon passed other cars and gained ground, only for a hydraulic problem - a legacy of the need to build up the spare car overnight - to put him out.

Your problems started when you damaged the chassis in qualifying. Was the accident a bit like the one Timo Glock had in the race at the same corner?
"Yes, I think it was just a problem of the race track. There's a huge bump there, and it's dangerous. I think they have to change something for the next race. If you see it on TV, Timo didn’t touch any barrier, but he destroyed the car, and he was close to rolling over. It was unacceptable and I think we have to have a change there."

That left you starting from the pitlane with a different chassis. How did things go from there?
"It was a hard day, unfortunately. Starting from the pitlane is never easy! But it was going quite well, and the car performance was very good, like I expected after the long runs on Friday. The pace was there. I was catching a few cars and I was up to 13th stuck behind Timo. It was a very close fight, but I couldn’t find a way to get past him. Maybe a few more laps and I would have got him. And then I had this hydraulic failure, and I had to stop the car." More ...

Kuala Lumpur is an important GP for BMW  After the first race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix, the BMW Sauber F1 Team moves on to its first home race of the year, the Malaysian Grand Prix. BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen looks ahead to the coming weekend, when he is expecting a taxing race in the home of premium partner Petronas.

Mario Theissen: "No sooner have we ticked off the season opener in Australia than Malaysia is already beckoning. This Grand Prix is a kind of home race for us. Since 2006 we have experienced the sheer charisma that our premium partner Petronas has in Malaysia. The euphoric welcome extended to our team in this country is a fantastic experience every time, and the various events held at the foot of the Petronas Twin Towers have always exerted a magnetic pull. As part of its Asia strategy, the BMW Group has ramped up its involvement in Malaysia over recent years. The race in the Greater Kuala Lumpur area is an important grand prix for both BMW and Petronas.

"Following the unexpectedly hot battle in Melbourne, we now head for the steam bath of Sepang. Not only are temperatures above 30° Celsius, but humidity levels are also extremely high due to the proximity to the equator. Consequently, we are looking ahead to this test of endurance with bated breath."  Source BMW

McLaren to modify speed limiter system  After the first race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix, the BMW Sauber F1 Team moves on to its first home race of the year, the Malaysian Grand Prix. BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen looks ahead to the coming weekend, when he is expecting a taxing race in the home of premium partner Petronas.

Mario Theissen: "No sooner have we ticked off the season opener in Australia than Malaysia is already beckoning. This Grand Prix is a kind of home race for us. Since 2006 we have experienced the sheer charisma that our premium partner Petronas has in Malaysia. The euphoric welcome extended to our team in this country is a fantastic experience every time, and the various events held at the foot of the Petronas Twin Towers have always exerted a magnetic pull. As part of its Asia strategy, the BMW Group has ramped up its involvement in Malaysia over recent years. The race in the Greater Kuala Lumpur area is an important grand prix for both BMW and Petronas.

"Following the unexpectedly hot battle in Melbourne, we now head for the steam bath of Sepang. Not only are temperatures above 30° Celsius, but humidity levels are also extremely high due to the proximity to the equator. Consequently, we are looking ahead to this test of endurance with bated breath."  Source BMW

Merc's Haug defends new Ferrari chief  
Norbert Haug
(GMM)  Norbert Haug has defended new Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali following the Italian team's disastrous start to the 2008 season in Australia last weekend.

Some sections of the media made a link between Ferrari's first race since 1993 without Jean Todt on the pitwall and the shopping-cart of problems that befell the red team at Albert Park.

But Haug, competition director for arch rival McLaren's engine and equity partner Mercedes-Benz, is sure that Ferrari is still a formidable opponent now that 42-year-old Domenicali is solely in charge at races.

To the German news agency SID, he referred to Ferrari's Melbourne showing as a "slip" for the reigning world champions.

"What I find really bad is the criticism of the new team boss after the first race," Haug said.

"For many years Stefano and his colleagues formed the basis of all Ferrari wins.  His team is strong enough to be the winners in Malaysia," the German added.

As to where Ferrari went wrong in Australia, Haug explains that mere "millimeters" often separate formula one's "heroes" from the "zeroes" at any grand prix.

ASF/Andretti Green - Arie Luyendyk Jr. joins Matos in IPS  AFS/Andretti Green Racing announced that it has signed Indy Pro Series veteran Arie Luyendyk Jr. to drive for the AFS/AGR two-car Indy Pro Series team.  Luyendyk Jr. will join Raphael Matos, who will drive the #27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers Dallara/Firestone.

Michael Andretti, Chairman, Andretti Green Racing:
"Arie has proven in the past that he can be a successful driver in the Indy Pro Series.  He finished second in the championship in 2002 and Kim (Green), Kevin (Savoree), Gary (Peterson) and I believe in his ability, for sure.  We feel we've assembled quite a team and driver lineup in a short period of time.  Just like in the IndyCar Series, we expect to win races and compete for the Indy Pro Series championship. By signing Rafa (Matos) and Arie, we feel like we've put ourselves in a position to contend right from the start."

Gary Peterson, Owner, AFS Racing:
"I believe in Arie's potential as a driver and AFS/Andretti Green Racing's ability to offer him what we believe to be the best car, equipment, engineer and crew in the Indy Pro Series today.  I've driven with Arie when he raced for AFS Racing and know that he embraces the team concept.  This was an important asset to Michael and me in selecting a teammate for Raphael (Matos).  As a friend of the Luyendyk family, I've watched Arie transform into the mature, responsible driver he is today.  I'm motivated by his commitment to move to Indianapolis to be closer to the team and work with the engineer and crew to make AFS/AGR the best team possible.  This is his opportunity to shine and I appreciate Michael and everyone at AGR backing him."

Arie Luyendyk Jr., #26 AFS/Andretti Green Racing Dallara/Firestone:
"This is a very big opportunity for me and I'm very thankful that Andretti Green Racing and Automatic Fire Sprinklers have given me the chance to compete again in the Indy Pro Series.  I've driven in many Indy Pro Series races and I feel like this is my best opportunity yet.  Obviously, my goal is to win races and win the championship and I feel like I have a very good chance at doing that.  Gary (Peterson) and I have a very nice relationship and I'm thrilled to be driving with AFS/AGR.  Like any driver, my goal is to get into the IndyCar Series and I think joining AGR and AFS is the best route to take.  Winning races in the Indy Pro Series means a lot more now than it did a few years ago.  I want to show that I can win and prove to teams that I'm a contender for an IndyCar Series seat."

Glock fit for Malaysia says Toyota official  
Timo Glock
(GMM)  Timo Glock will contest the Malaysian grand prix this weekend, senior Toyota official Noritoshi Arai says.

On his return to formula one in Australia last Sunday, Glock, the newly 26-year-old German, knocked his left wrist in his spectacular crash in the high speed chicane.

Glock left Albert Park wearing a bandage following a visit to the medical centre, and reports this week suggested that test driver Kamui Kobayashi has been put on standby to possibly replace him at Sepang.

But Arai said on Wednesday: "Fortunately, he didn't suffer any physical damage, so he will be ready to go again (in Malaysia)."

Glock also said on Wednesday: "I am fine.  My hand was a bit sore after the accident because I got a big hit from the steering wheel when I landed but there's no serious damage and I'm sure it won't be a problem."

Bridgestone Motorsport Malaysian Grand Prix Preview  
Last year's start
Bridgestone Motorsport's hard and medium compound Bridgestone Potenza Formula One tires take on one of the most grueling challenges of the season as they tackle the predicted searing heat of the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang on March 23rd.

The second event on the 2008 calendar will mark the tenth time the Malaysian Grand Prix has been held, with every race held at the 5.54 km Hermann Tilke designed Sepang circuit near Malaysia's capital city, Kuala Lumpur.

The Malaysian circuit offers a tough test to cars and drivers alike. From a tire perspective it is a severe circuit. Two long straights head into tight slow speed corners meaning heavy braking, and the changes in regulations for 2008 mean that tire locking could be more likely as ECU-controlled engine braking is not there to assist the slowing of the cars. More ...

No Petty Racing points swap for Martinsville  Petty Enterprises officials say they will not ask NASCAR to approve a points swap between drivers Bobby Labonte and Kyle Petty. That means that Petty will need to qualify based on speed for the March 30 Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway. The team could have swapped points between the drivers, helping get both into the field. Petty is outside the top 35 in owners points this season, with the locked-in field being set based on this season’s points starting with the Goody’s Orange Cool 500. Since Labonte is the 2000 Cup series champion, he would have been eligible for the past champions provisional as the most recent past champion outside the top 35. Instead, the team is not requesting a change, leaving Labonte 18th in points and Petty 40th. SceneDaily
The decimation of Champ Car  The deal between the Indy Racing League and Champ Car was billed a merger, but it is now emerging that this was not the case at all, as most of the Champ Car teams are now dropping out of the sport. Forsythe Championship Racing, Minardi USA and Walker Racing have announced that they will not be switching to IRL. Conquest Racing says it will join the series, but we hear that there are money troubles as the team's new backer provided money which was then spent on Champ Car equipment and there is little cash left for the switch.

Newman Haas Lanigan Racing will switch over and former Champ Car shareholder Kevin Kalkhoven says he will run cars under the new banner of KV Racing Technology, once again in partnership with former driver Jimmy Vasser, but it remains to be seen whether Kalkhoven will continue for long and we have heard suggestions that he is more interested now in looking for a way into Formula 1 racing. KV Racing Technology will enter cars for Will Power and Oriol Servia, with backing from Aussie Vineyards, which used to be the backer of the Walker team. It is not yet clear what will happen to Paul Gentilozzi's Rocketsports, Dale Coyne Racing [Editor's Note: Coyne will run in the IRL, deal to be announced today] and Pacific Motorsports. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Patience limited for Renault boost - Alonso
  • Todt steps down as Ferrari CEO
  • UK minister meets Bernie about British GP
  • Hamilton - I'm not as good as Ali, yet
  • Glock's Malaysia GP under injury cloud
  • Tost predicts more hard times for Piquet
  • Ferrari suspects ECU to blame for Aus woes
  • GPDA keeps pressure on Hamilton to join
  • Heikki faster than Hamilton in Aus - Stuck
  • Buemi moves to tax-free Bahrain
  • No night race decision yet says Sepang boss

Patience limited for Renault boost - Alonso
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has told a Spanish radio station that he will not wait forever for Renault to produce a better car.

The former double world champion finished fourth in the attrition-fuelled 2008 season opener last weekend, but Renault's R28 was not among the fastest single seaters in Australia.

"I have a lot of patience," he answered to a question from Cadena SER, "but if we begin to finish races in poor positions, the patience will slowly go.

"At the moment there is no other thing to do but work and motivate the entire team to a level of 100 per cent."

Alonso, 26, says the R28 has a lot of potential, but he estimates the current deficit to the front at eight tenths in qualifying and a full second per lap in the races.

"This is a lifetime," he explained.

Todt steps down as Ferrari CEO
(GMM)  Less than a week after the F1 season kicked off without him at the helm, Jean Todt has stepped down as CEO of the Italian marque Ferrari.

After a shareholders' meeting on Tuesday, a Ferrari statement said the board had "taken note of Jean Todt's wish to relinquish his position as CEO".

Amedeo Felisa succeeds him as CEO, but Todt will remain on the board of directors and continue to represent Ferrari at FIA World Motor Sport Council meetings.

"Jean Todt will furthermore be given special appointments directly by the president (Luca di Montezemolo) in the context of GT activities and sports management," Ferrari added.

Frenchman Todt, who joined Ferrari as its team boss in 1993, was quoted as saying that stepping down as CEO will give him "more time to dedicate to myself and my other interests".

Stefano Domenicali succeeded him as Ferrari's team boss this year.

Interestingly, despite Tuesday's news, Todt is rumored to be making the trip to Malaysia for the grand prix this weekend.

His partner, actress Michelle Yeoh, is Malaysian. More ...

Sepang technical insight with Pascal Vasselon  Panasonic Toyota Racing heads for the heat and humidity of Sepang for the Malaysian Grand Prix and round two of the 2008 FIA Formula 1 World Championship this weekend. Pascal Vasselon gives us some technical insight.

Can you explain the challenges of the new regulations for the 2008 season?
"Our preparation was speeded up by introducing an interim car at the end of 2007. The first thing to concentrate on was the four-race gearbox, which we wanted to put as much mileage on as possible. We had a target of 2,500km with the first gearbox, and it went smoothly. The second thing was the new standard Electronic Control Unit (ECU). To meet the demands of the four-race gearbox the design items have a long lead time and so if you face a problem you have to fix it early to produce the new parts for the start of the season. With the standard ECU we also wanted to be able to run early, understand the system and fix any bugs, and we are still fixing bugs. We also had to work on the driver aids ban of course. The combination of ensuring reliability as well as learning the systems was a lot of work."

What was Timo Glock’s gearbox issue in Melbourne qualifying that cost him five places on the grid?
"It was not related to the hardware. It was connected with the control system, a consequence of the standard ECU. It’s quite complex in terms of settings and we are still in the learning process. I think several teams have had a similar kind of issue to us with various systems and it is certainly the type of issue that we would not have had with our own system, because we knew it so well." More ...

Two Fans Heading to Bristol Killed in Plane Crash  Two men killed early Sunday morning in a plane crash in Sumter County Florida were headed to the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Pilot George Trail, 68, and passenger Barry Bevan, 65, both from Ontario Canada, reside in Lake Worth during winter months. Both men died at about 5:30 a.m. when the aircraft slammed into the ground near Lake Panasoffkee about 30 miles east of Orlando.

Sumter County Sheriff's Capt. Gary Brannen said the plane left Lake Worth at about 4:30 a.m. destined for Virginia. Trail and Bevan were scheduled to pick up Trail's son before continuing on to Bristol Tennessee. Cup Scene

Lizards flying high after Sebring 1-2  The previous two seasons, Flying Lizard Motorsports left Sebring International Raceway lamenting about what might have been. The team saw two consecutive runner-up GT2 finishes (including one by a race-record 0.202 seconds) as missed opportunities. After this year’s race however, there were no regrets, no questions and no doubts.

Flying Lizard Porsches
Flying Lizard captured the top two spots on the class podium in the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida, a first for the squad in its four-year Series stint. The fact that it came in the 12 Hours made it even sweeter. Jörg Bergmeister, Wolf Henzler and Marc Lieb took a three-lap GT2 victory in the No. 45 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Having Seth Neiman, Darren Law and Alex Davison finish second in the No. 44 entry - three laps up on the third-place Ferrari - added icing to the cake.

“As far as the season goes it’s a very good start,” team manager Eric Ingraham beamed. “But that’s all there is. It’s only the beginning. It’s only one race but we couldn’t be much happier. It’s the best finish we’ve ever had, the best finish at Sebring. It was a case of last-man standing, which typically it is at Sebring. The last couple of years that hasn’t been the case and we’ve been involved in them both.” More ...

Wilson and NHLR unable to participate in Sebring test  [Editor's Note: Like we said this merger was done in the worse possible way for the Champ Car teams, i.e. they got the royal screwing.]

After the announcement only three weeks ago that open-wheel racing would unify and move forward under the IndyCar Series banner, Justin and Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing switched their focus to competing in the 2008 IndyCar Series beginning with the season-opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway on 29th March.  On 3rd March, the team took delivery of the first two IndyCar Series cars that they will compete with and began preparing the Honda-powered Dallara chassis to be run on Firestone tires for the first of two pre-season tests for Champ Car teams joining the IndyCar Series. 

A two-day test at Sebring International Raceway road course will take place this week (19th and 20th March) and another two days of testing will take place at Homestead-Miami Speedway next week (24th and 25th March). 

Unfortunately Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing is unable to participate in this week’s test, as General Manager Brian Lisles explained: “Despite the best efforts of Dallara and the IndyCar Series, we still don’t have all the parts necessary to be ready in time to test in Sebring. It is a big disappointment for the team and an enormous setback because we will be losing valuable track time that will be difficult to recover. The team continues to work hard to complete the cars in time for the Homestead test on March 24-25.”

Justin supported the team’s decision. “Obviously I’m disappointed that I won’t be testing at Sebring”, he said. “I was looking forward to trying out the Dallara for the first time and making some progress on our 2008 season. The circumstances have come about that we won’t be able to make it and I know the team will use the extra time wisely. They said right from the start that they will not put out a car that is not up to their usual high standard of preparation. It is reassuring for me to know that I will have a reliable car, especially given the commitment necessary to compete on some of these high speed tracks.”

Justin’s team-mate Graham Rahal added: “It is disappointing to not be testing in Sebring this week, but we all understand that this team has been used to sending the car out on the race track without any doubts in their mind that their preparation was 100 percent perfect. We have found ourselves in a position where this would not be the case and instead we felt that it would be best to focus our efforts on the Homestead test and race. This will give us more time to prepare for the busy upcoming schedule.” Source: Justin Wilson website

Jean Todt leaves Ferrari CEO role  
Jean Todt
Former Ferrari team boss Jean Todt has stepped down from his position as the company's CEO.

Todt had handed over the reins of the racing team to Stefano Domenicali at the start of this year.

He will remain on the Ferrari board, and has been appointed to special duties within the GT division and sports management by company president Luca di Montezemolo.

"My commitment to the President had been to manage the company until the end of his mandate as President of Confindustria and to indicate the new director of the Sports Management," Todt explained.

"Having accomplished these tasks, a new phase of my life has now begun in which I will have more time to dedicate to myself and my other interests.

"Naturally I will continue to make a contribution to Ferrari in my institutional positions and in those which the President has chosen to entrust me."

Rahal Letterman Racing Announces ALMS sponsor  The return of BMW to American Le Mans Series competition with Rahal Letterman Racing will feature cutting-edge technology and the latest in performance and innovation, so it is only fitting that a company that embodies all of these ideals has become the first to sign on as a sponsor of the new racing program.

NEC Display Solutions of America and Rahal Letterman Racing today announced the signing of a multi-year partnership where NEC will join the Ohio-based team’s ALMS program as an associate sponsor. One of the world’s leaders in monitors, plasma displays, projection and integrated display solutions, NEC becomes the first company to join RLR and BMW as the German manufacturer makes its much-anticipated return to American sportscar racing in 2009.

“As the BMW M3 features the most recent advances in technology, NEC Display Solutions is well-known for being a leader in bringing innovations and forward thinking to its business,” said RLR co-owner Bobby Rahal. “We are pleased to welcome NEC and anticipate a great relationship both on and off the track.”

The Chicago-based company will be prominently featured on the BMW M3 at all ALMS events and will also have a major presence at the track with BMW and RLR as its monitors and plasma displays will be a vital component of the team’s trackside and paddock areas. More ...

Peak Motor Oil To Sponsor IndyCar Series Pole Award  IndyCar Series officials, together with representatives from industry-leading automotive brand PEAK Performance Products, today announced that PEAK Motor Oil will sponsor the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award at all 2008 IndyCar Series events. 

The award, presented to the fastest qualifier each race weekend, builds on the strong partnership already in place between the IndyCar Series and PEAK Performance Products. PEAK Motor Oil is the official motor oil of the IndyCar Series, and PEAK Antifreeze serves as the primary sponsor of the IndyCar Series' championship race at Chicagoland Speedway.

The PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award will give $10,000 to the fastest qualifier at each race on the schedule except for the Indianapolis 500, where it will award $100,000 for the top qualifier. In addition to the $100,000 for the Indianapolis 500 polesitter, PEAK will award $25,000 to the second place Indianapolis 500 qualifier, and $10,000 for the third-place qualifier. These top-three qualifiers will make up the PEAK Motor Oil Front Row. More ...

Fitz Motorsports scaling back efforts on Kenny Wallace team  Fitz Motorsports officials announced Tuesday that the team will “slow operations” of the No. 36 Nationwide Series Dodge driven by Kenny Wallace.

The No. 36 entry is sponsored by Shark Energy Drink, which began distribution in the United States this year, but sales haven’t been high enough to continue a full sponsorship, according to a team news release.

“Sponsor money for the No. 36 Dodge Charger was based on distribution of Shark Energy Drink,” team owner Armando Fitz said in the release. “While the initial response was terrific, it’s taking longer than anticipated to generate enough funding to run the No. 36 car competitively in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.”

Fitz said the No. 36 team would be scaled back, with a “full effort put toward the team’s other car, the No. 22 Dodge driven by Mike Bliss.

“Kenny Wallace has an opportunity to drive for another Nationwide Series team, and we certainly don’t want to hold him back,” Fitz said. “Kenny has been a great friend and supporter of our program, and he deserves to be racing full time.

“We’re going to regroup and focus on our No. 22. We feel great our about our 2008 chances with Mike Bliss and the entire Supercuts team as we move forward.”
Conquest Racing Signs Brazilian Enrique Bernoldi  
Enrique Bernoldi
Conquest Racing is set for the 2008 IndyCar® Series season with today’s announcement that the team has signed former Formula 1 driver, Brazilian Enrique Bernoldi, as a teammate to Frenchman Franck Perera who was confirmed last month.

Bernoldi will be making his debut in the IndyCar Series this season and will get his first taste of the #36 Honda/Dallara/Firestone Conquest entry tomorrow at Sebring International Raceway.

“I am very happy to be joining Conquest Racing. I think we have an interesting season ahead of us,” expressed Bernoldi. “At the beginning, we will have to learn a lot because it is a new car for the team and for me and especially to race on ovals which I never did, but it will be interesting. I’m very motivated and I think we will do a good job. Having Eric (Bachelart) here helps as well because as an ex-driver he understands more what the driver needs. It is a very positive relationship with him and everybody on the team. I look forward to testing the car this week, and even if it is a little late being one week away from the first race, everybody’s target is to learn quickly and be competitive through the season.” More ...
F1 needs more night practice - Rivola  (GMM)  Toro Rosso team manager Massimo Rivola has called on F1 officials to revise the scheduled timetable for the inaugural Singapore grand prix later this year.

The Asian city-state will host the sport's first ever night race, but Rivola is concerned that teams have only been afforded ninety minutes of floodlit practice before qualifying takes place at 8pm on Saturday night.

Initial Friday practice, for instance, will take place in daylight (4pm), and - similarly - pre-qualifying practice on Saturday is currently scheduled for 5pm.

"I don't think this is enough time (to practice under the lights)," Rivola said.

F1 teams have already ruled out organizing a pre-Singapore night test in Europe because of the cost, and the series long ago abandoned the procedure of installing an extra day (Thursday) of official practice before racing at new circuits.

Rivola told the Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell: "We must find a way to let the drivers get used to driving at night.

"Either we change the program so that a greater amount of practice takes place at night," he added, "or we have to think seriously about re-introducing the Thursday tests."

It is suggested that Rivola is seeking the written support of all teams before making a formal proposal to the FIA.

Karam wins JICA  
Sage Karam and his father
Ocala, Florida -  Sage  Karam’s shocking win in the Florida Winter Tour’s JICA class, was way ahead of schedule! Sage’s constant improvement, was a key component to the victory over the many seasoned teams/drivers in the JICA category.

IRL team owner, Michael Andretti, was quick to say, "Sage's quick adaptation to the JICA class wasn't surprising to me. I know his talent level and expected him to rise to the occasion. It should be a challenging and exciting year for him. I am following Sage’s season closely and continue to enjoy working with him.”

The junior driver was very excited and had a lot to say. “ It was only my third race in JICA and I knew we were getting faster each time out. My dad, Chris (Lobaugh) and Marc (Zartarian of Hi Rev Engineering engines) worked very hard for me. My dad and Chris really made a lot of progress with the new chassis”. Karam is no stranger to chassis development. More ...

MWR Installs Jet Edge Waterjet Cutting System  Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) has installed a Jet Edge precision waterjet cutting system at its fabrication shop in Cornelius, N.C. MWR plans to use its Jet Edge system to cut parts for its three Sprint Cup Series teams and Nationwide Series team. MWR and Jet Edge also announced their new technical partnership, which will give MWR access to Jet Edge’s latest waterjet-cutting technology and position Jet Edge as a leading waterjet technology supplier to the $19.5 billion performance racing industry. With construction of its new fabrication shop completed, MWR has begun increasing its in-house manufacturing capabilities, explained Dr. Eric Warren, MWR’s vice president and technical director. One of its first steps was to acquire waterjet-cutting capabilities that have become essential to NASCAR teams as they race to fabricate parts under extremely tight deadlines. MWR PR
Conquest Racing  Round-the-clock approach  Chris Mower has seen the "can do" attitude at the Conquest Racing shop the past 14 days – almost around the clock.

The team manager and shop personnel have been diligently working to prepare the Dallara/Honda/Firestone package for delivery to Sebring International Raceway, where Franck Perera will test March 19-20 in preparation for its first IndyCar Series race.

Conquest Racing, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, KV Racing Technology, Dale Coyne Racing and HVM Racing are expected to make the transition to the IndyCar Series from the Champ Car World Series. Since the announcement about unification in late February, teams have been working around the clock to prepare for the start of the season March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now," Mower said. "It's only basically come together (in the past couple of days) with a lot of items. It's been a monumental task not only for us, but for us, the IRL, for the other teams that have been assigned to help teams. To do it in two to three weeks has been incredible." More ...

Australia was massive motivation  
Mario Theissen
One day after the season opening race BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen analyses the Australian Grand Prix and comes to a positive conclusion. Nick Heidfeld made it too the podium and although Robert Kubica was forced to retire after a collision with Kazuki Nakajima, his performance was very encouraging.

Mario Theissen said: "The months of waiting are finally over and Formula One racing is back: with the season kick-off, the Australian Grand Prix held in Melbourne, proving to be a great event for our BMW Sauber F1 Team. In a turbulent race with three safety car periods and numerous retirements, Nick kept cool and finished second, achieving the team's first podium of the season. Only Lewis Hamilton was quicker.

"This Sunday's race in the Albert Park turned out to be a real game of strategy. Nick was somewhat lucky with the safety car periods, while unfortunately Robert was unlucky. Towards the end, Nakajima pushed him off the track. Up to this point he had driven a strong race following his fantastic qualifying yesterday. Never before had we been second and fifth on a GP starting grid. And without his massive off-track moment, Robert would surely have clinched pole position. More ...

Brawn expecting to be strong in Malaysia  
Ross Brawn
Honda surprised many in the paddock in Australia when Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button showed much better pace than expected. Despite Button being knocked out at the first corner, and Barrichello's disqualification for passing a pitlane red light while running in the top-5, new team boss Ross Brawn expects the team to be competitive in Malaysia. 

"Whilst the result was disappointing, we have to look at the positives," Brawn said. "Qualifying confirmed that we are in the midfield and a very strong race drive from Rubens showed that we have the potential to fight for points. It was pleasing to see that the aerodynamic upgrade from Jerez worked as expected and I think we have a good basis for the first three races until we can introduce the next development step for Spain."

"I think we can have a similarly strong weekend to the one we experienced in Melbourne," Brawn added about his team's prospects in Malaysia. "We have shown that we have a car with which to target the points and two drivers who are very determined to achieve that."

Domenicali: "Staying cool and not overreacting makes the difference"  
Stefano Domenicali
Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro's new team principal, Stefano Domenicali put a brave face on his team's performance in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne. Neither car took the checkered flag, but Kimi Raikkonen was eventually classified eighth although both his and teammate Felipe Massa's car were stopped by engine problems.

"It was very tough, no doubt," admitted Domenicali. "The result speaks for itself. Unfortunately it was a dreadful weekend. Nothing went as planned, so it was difficult. But if you remember in 2006 we had a similar start with the two DNF and we were able to catch up again.

"We weren't phenomenal guys before this race and we are not stupid after it, so we really need to analyze in all the details what has happened. And of course the main concern is to understand the reliability problems. We had two engine failures so this is the main issue to understand."

Kimi Raikkonen
Domenicali explained that the team didn't know what happened to Raikkonen's engine. "We need to understand the problem. We knew that the engine was ready to finish, but at that stage, looking at the number of laps and fighting for points, but unfortunately we didn't finish. With such a disastrous weekend, if we score one point it's really one plus." More ...
Stewart blasts Lewis Hamilton  
Lewis Hamilton
Formula One legend Jackie Stewart has blasted Lewis Hamilton for refusing to join the Grand Prix Drivers Assoc (GPDA) to help make the sport safer.

The triple world champion, who still attends grands prix as a representative for Williams' sponsor RBS, fears that fourteen years after the last F1 fatalities at Imola in 1994, drivers like McLaren's Hamilton have become "complacent".

Hamilton announced in Australia last weekend that, despite pressure from F1 stalwarts including Pedro de la Rosa and Mark Webber, he does not think he has enough time to devote to the GPDA's cause.

Grand Prix racing has gone the longest period in its history without a serious accident and Stewart said: "It is completely wrong of Lewis not to be involved.

"I am surprised and disappointed at him. He has been badly advised. So far we have been incredibly lucky. We are on the slate to have a big shunt. But what is going to happen is this; somebody is going to get killed.

"It has been 13 years and 11 months since the death of Ayrton Senna. At the speeds modern cars do it'll be like an air crash.

"You can't go on without something going wrong somewhere eventually. And somebody will die.

"The moment somebody dies there is a new awakening. It is going to be a big shock to this fraternity when somebody gets killed.

"These guys don't know how to deal with a death. They have never seen it. They have never been up close.

"I pray to God they never do have to learn that. But the law of averages says that when you are doing 200mph, millimeters apart, with mechanical failure or human error, you are going to have an accident.

"I have the highest respect for Lewis. He is the best thing since sliced bread but he is inexperienced. There will be even more accidents now that traction control is gone."

Stewart is also quoted by The Times newspaper as questioning Hamilton's decision to eschew professional agents in favor of continuing to be managed solely by his father.

Anthony Hamilton revealed recently that, not only was it his decision for Lewis to move to Switzerland, he also poorly advised the 23-year-old to tell the media that minimizing tax was not a motivating factor.

Stewart tells Hamilton: "Once you get bigger than your dad, working with your dad becomes more difficult."

Q and A with Nelson Piquet  
Nelson Piquet Jr.
Nelson Piquet didn’t have the grand prix debut he had hoped for in last weekend’s 2008 season opening Australian grand prix when he qualified at the back of the grid then failed to finish the event. But now, he intends to put it all behind him, learn from the experience and move on to the next round in Malaysia.

Nelson, your F1 debut did not unfold as you would have liked.  What have you learnt from the first race?

Yes, that is not how I had imagined my first Grand Prix would unfold, but I knew that it would not be easy and I was prepared for it. I did little running during Friday practice and that complicated things for the rest of the weekend. However, I learned a lot and I now know what a Grand Prix weekend is like – it passes very quickly and you need to be able to get comfortable straight away. I am now looking forward to the next race in Malaysia, so that I can put into practice all that I have learnt from my first race.

The second race takes place at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, a circuit that you already know…

Yes, I drove at Sepang in 2005 in A1GP so I therefore know the circuit and I have experienced the extremely high temperatures which we expect in this part of the world. So I think that things will be a little easier this weekend. I will be able to find my feet more quickly and to concentrate on the set-up of my car with the engineers. I hope to be able to push hard and avoid reliving a Grand Prix like I had in Melbourne.

After Australia, what are your expectations for this next race?

I hope that I can make more progress. In Melbourne I did little running in practice, my qualifying was disappointing and at the start of the race my car was damaged and I had to retire – it was therefore difficult to make much progress at all. I hope to be in a position in Malaysia to have a strong qualifying session so that I can have a good race and continue my apprenticeship. Each race will be the opportunity for me to learn and progress.

Do you think that the R28 will suit the layout of the Sepang circuit?

We will work hard to make that the case! This is an exciting circuit for F1 cars and interesting for the drivers. There are two long straights, some big braking areas into some slow corners, and some fast exciting turns. I will work with my engineers to try and have a well balanced car as early as the first practice session so that we can try different solutions and hopefully make good progress throughout the weekend.

Eurointernational branches out into Superleague  
Brazilian Superleague Formula football club Corinthians have joined forces with the experienced trans-Atlantic race team Eurointernational for its inaugural 2008 championship assault.

Corinthians unveiled their black and white-liveried Superleague Formula entry in Sao Paulo last month and have now finalized a deal with Eurointernational team boss, Antonio Ferrari.

In addition to its Superleague Formula efforts, Eurointernational will run cars in Formula BMW competition in both the US and Europe this year, plus the US-based Atlantic Championship.

With bases in Italy and Indianapolis, Eurointernational began in the US CART Championship in 1989 and has gone on to compete in IMSA sportscar racing, the Indy 500, Indy Racing League, US Formula 3, Eurocup Formula Renault Championship, Eurocup Formula Renault V6, US Formula Renault 2000, World Series by Renault as well as Formula BMW in both Europe and the US. More ...

Alliance Motorsports Signs Chris Festa for IPS Ride  Alliance Motorsports, LLC, the Brownsburg, Indiana based Indy Pro Series team, today announced the signing of Chris Festa as driver of the teams’ #24 Indy Pro Series Dallara. 

Festa, hailing from Atlanta, Georgia and now residing in Indianapolis, is a veteran of the Indy Pro Series with thirty-nine career starts, two pole positions and twenty-four top ten finishes. He returns to the series with the goal of surpassing his best finish of second place, and aims to propel himself to the IndyCar Series for 2009. “I am excited for the opportunity to be apart of Alliance Motorsports,” said Festa. “The series appears to be gaining momentum in participation and popularity, and I believe that we have the tools to win.”

Tyce Carlson, co-owner of Alliance Motorsports, is excited about the signing of Chris Festa. “This is a great day for our organization,” exclaimed Carlson, who leads the first year operation into the Indy Pro Series battle. “Chris is one of the most poised and experienced drivers in the Indy Pro Series, and we intend to compete for race wins at the drop of the green flag.” Carlson went on to say, “We have built an incredible group of talented people that will surround Chris to ensure his success.”

McLaren rave about Kovalainen  
Heikki Kovalainen
McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh believes Heikki Kovalainen came of age during his debut race for the team, and is certain the young Finn will win in 2008.

Although Kovalainen was not quite on pace to beat teammate Lewis Hamilton in Australia, he was on course for a fine second place until the safety car came out just before he was due to make his second pit stop, dropping him at the end of the pace car queue when he pitted and had to settle for fifth place.

Whitmarsh said the final result was less important than the impression Kovalainen had made.

"A solid one-two might have made us jump a little bit higher, perhaps, but I'm sure we will get results like that this season because Heikki has crossed over to become a fantastic Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver," he said.

"He came of age this weekend and will be pushing hard in Malaysia.  "Kovalainen overtook both Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso as he fought back through the field, although he then allowed the Renault back past after accidentally triggering his pit lane speed limiter while reaching for a visor tear-off.

"I believe he'll have drawn a great many positives from what he has achieved this weekend and I have no doubts at all about his ability to win races this year," Whitmarsh said.

"It was an important race for him and he'll come out of it with greater mental strength and confidence.

"The team has done its best to support him and he has paid that back with a calm, constructive contribution."

Commercial appointments announced by A1GP  A1GP World Cup of Motorsport has appointed Octagon Worldwide, the global sales agency, to assist in the development and co-ordination of commercial sales for the series.

The operation will be based in Octagon’s London offices and members of the newly strengthened A1GP commercial team will work on a day to day basis with them.

The A1GP Commercial team cover all the parts of the world reporting to Scott Hollingsworth, Chief Commercial Officer & Regional CEO (Americas). New appointments to the team are Julian Cottam, General Manager for Commercial Development, and Tarek Mokbel, General Manager Commercial Development Asia Pacific. More ...
BDR sacks Labbe  Richard “Slugger” Labbe, who was crew chief of the No. 27 Bill Davis Racing car, has parted ways with the team, a BDR spokesman confirmed Monday.  The team, which had Jacques Villeneuve penciled in to drive before sponsorship fell through, skipped the race last week at Bristol.
General Motors shares hit 52-week low  Shares of General Motors Corp. are tumbling on a drop in the overall market and an ongoing strike at one of its key suppliers.

In heavy afternoon trading, GM shares fell $1, or 5.2 percent, to $18.22, after plummeting as low as $17.47 earlier in the day and easily passing its previous 52-week low of $19.

The broader market dropped Monday, before rising later in a day of volatile trading, reeling on news of JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s plans to buy rival investment bank Bear Stearns Cos. in a deal backed by the government.

Hülkenberg again the quickest  
Nico Hulkenberg
On the second day off the official Formula 3 Euro Series tests, Nicolas Hülkenberg (ART Grand Prix) again secured the top position on the time sheets. In the Sunday morning session of the tests held at Valencia’s Circuit Ricardo Tomo, the German set the fastest lap time of the entire tests when lapping the 4.005-kilometre track in 1:28.405 minutes.

Second position also was clinched by a German: Christian Vietoris (Mücke Motorsport) was just 0.062 seconds slower than his compatriot. While Jules Bianchi (ART Grand Prix) confirmed his good performance delivered on the first day of testing by coming third on day two, with his personal minimum time of 1:28,539 minutes.

As the track was faster than on day one, the Sunday minimum times proved to also be the fastest lap times of the entire weekend. In summerlike conditions, with temperatures of about 24° C, all the 29 drivers participating in the tests opted for covering as many kilometers as possible. The busiest of all the drivers involved was France’s Richard Philippe (Carlin Motorsport) who completed 98 laps on the track located close to Valencia. Altogether, no major incident was witnessed during the two days of testing. Only once, a session had to be red-flagged for a short period of time: in the early stages of the Sunday afternoon session, when Stefano Coletti (Red Bull Signature) and Jon Lancaster (ART Grand Prix) collided in the final corner. More ...

british f3
Talent Spotting in the British F3 Class of 2008  Everyone who knows about UK motorsport is aware that since 1964 British Formula 3 has been the championship for young drivers wanting to make their mark in international motor racing.  Over the years British F3 has launched the careers of drivers such as Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna.  However it isn’t just in the history books that British F3 makes it mark and you only have to look at the past four title winners to see this. 

2004 British F3 Champion Nelson Piquet is racing in his first season of F1 at Renault, 2006 Champion Mike Conway is a development driver for Honda F1 and Marko Asmer, fresh from winning the 2007 British F3 title, was snapped up as a test driver for BMW Sauber.  The 2005 British F3 champion has further success by winning the 2007 World Series by Renault crown and testing for Renault F1 as part of his prize. More ...

Detroit GP tickets now on sale  Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix ticketholders will benefit from a marked increase in entertainment value both on and off the track in 2008 as they continue to enjoy one of the best values in all of sports.

Tickets to the three-day August 29-31, 2008 Labor Day weekend celebration at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix go on-sale to the public today at 5 p.m. ET. Once again featuring the high-tech cars of the American Le Mans Series and the high-speed stars of the IndyCar Series, the Grand Prix features many family-friendly and affordable ticket options, in addition to packages aimed to please the most passionate racing fan.

The 2007 return of world-class auto racing to the Motor City provided edge-of-the-seat excitement. But enhanced competition on the racetrack coupled with more entertainment options around the picturesque Raceway at Belle Isle Park circuit and increased fan comfort features, make the Grand Prix an even hotter ticket in 2008. More ...

KV Racing Technology to participate in first IRL test  KV Racing Technology will participate in its first IndyCar Series test, March 19-20, at Sebring International Speedway in Sebring, Florida.

The team will test cars for both drivers on the 1.66-mile Sebring “short course”.  Oriol Servia will pilot the KV Racing Technology #32 Honda/Dallara//Firestone entry while Will Power will be behind the wheel of the KV Racing Technology #8 Aussie Vineyards – Team Australia Honda/Dallara/Firestone machine.  This is the first opportunity KV Racing Technology has had to test their IndyCar Series cars since announcing they would join the series for the 2008 season on March 12. More ...

track news
Testing at Kentucky this week CANCELLED  Jimmie Johnson and Joe Nemechek are scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway on Tues/We March 18-19 along with R&D teams of Joe Gibbs Racing with Joey Logano, Stanton Barrett's team, the CTS Bill Davis Racing team with Mike Skinner and on Wed Petty Racing will test with driver TBA. Fans can watch from the Turn 3 Fan Center at no charge. Schedule subject to change daily. Test times vary.

CANCELLED: All race teams scheduled to test Kentucky Speedway March 18-19 have canceled their sessions due to a rain-filled weather forecast. Kentucky Speedway PR
Ford shares tumble on market drop  Shares of Ford Motor Co. are plummeting, pulled down by a steep drop in the overall market resulting from JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s plans to buy Bear Stearns & Co. in a government-backed deal.

The Dow Jones industrials, down nearly 200 points in the early trading, rose into positive territory and then sank again by more than 150 points.

Ford shares dropped as low as $4.95, passing its previous 52-week low of $5.12 set on Thursday, before edging back to $4.99 in afternoon trading.

Menards to sponsor Carpenter  John Menard told SPEEDTV's Robin Miller that Menards stores will return as a sponsor in the IndyCar Series. The long-time Indy 500, IRL, CART, and NASCAR backer will sponsor Ed Carpenter's Vision Racing entry in 2008.
Chevrolet Volt's pricing could provide sticker shock  
Chevy Volt
The price of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in electric car will reflect high warranty expenses to cover the lithium-ion batteries that power the cars, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz told Bloomberg News last week. We are going to bake in a very substantial warranty cost for the battery in our overall pricing calculation," Lutz said. "We need to be conservative, simply because it's the first time we've done anything like this."

GM is racing to deliver the Volt by the end of 2010, and its key challenge is finding a lithium-ion battery pack that is durable and safe enough for automotive use while delivering 40 miles of all-electric driving on a single charge.

Sauter, Phoenix Racing part company in Nationwide Series  Johnny Sauter announced today that he and Phoenix Racing have parted ways.

"After a challenging start to the NASCAR Nationwide season and several key personnel changes, including the release of both newly hired crew chiefs, Jon Wolfe and Newt Moore, Phoenix Racing and Johnny Sauter have amicably parted ways," the statement said.

Bristol TV Ratings Up  NASCAR on Fox posted a 5.0/11 for racing from Bristol Sunday, a +2% gain over the same race a year ago and the third straight week that NASCAR has posted a year-to-year increase in the metered markets. Season-to-date, NASCAR on Fox is now averaging a 6.5/13 in the metered markets, a +7% boost over last year's 6.1/12. Fox PR
Barrichello calls for new signaling system in pitlane  Rubens Barrichello, who was yesterday excluded from the points after a pitlane infringement, has called for a change to the signaling system in the pits. The Brazilian ignored a red light by leaving the pit lane and was therefore disqualified. Rubinho claims that he never saw the red light as they are placed in the wrong places.

Barrichello said: "I never saw a red light. I will never see it and I don't pretend to see it. They are in the wrong places and by the time you see it, it is too late. You have already gone past it.

"Because of the new ECU, you have different functions and different knobs that you have to change all through the pitstops, and I am still doing that when I get to the lights.

"My problem in the past 16 years of F1 is that the lights at the end of the pits, you don't see them. It has happened to Montoya, Massa and Kubica. Nobody will see it unless someone in the team is prepared to say there is a red light, or something else is done. It is unfortunate."

Brian Stewart Racing signs younger Cunningham  Brian Stewart Racing has signed New Zealand's Mitchell Cunningham to contest the eight road course races on the 2008 Indy Pro Series schedule.

Cunningham, 21, is the younger brother of 2005 Indy Pro Series champion Wade Cunningham, who drove for Brian Stewart Racing in 2005 and again in 2006, when the team claimed its two series entrant titles.

"I think Mitchell will have great success in the Indy Pro Series," team owner Brian Stewart said. "I'm confident that he will do a good job for us and I know we'll do a good job for him."

Mitchell Cunningham made his debut in cars last year after following his older brother into European karting. He finished fifth in the Pacific Formula Ford 2000 Series scoring a win at Willow Springs in California in just his third start in the series. He finished sixth in the recently concluded Toyota Racing Series point standings in New Zealand.

"I see this as a way of getting experience in the bigger, more powerful (Indy Pro Series) cars before tackling a full program in 2009," Cunningham said. "It's a big jump from the cars I have been driving like the FF2000 and the Toyotas, which are four cylinders and produce up to maybe 200 horsepower, and the IPS car which is a V8 and produces 450 horsepower, but by doing it this way I can focus on one thing at a time."

Transitioning teams getting ready for Sebring test  Chris Mower has seen the "can do" attitude at the Conquest Racing shop the past 14 days - almost around the clock.

The team manager and shop personnel have been diligently working to prepare the Dallara/Honda/Firestone package for delivery to Sebring International Raceway, where it will test March 19-20 in preparation for its first IndyCar Series race.

Conquest Racing, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, KV Racing Technology, Dale Coyne Racing and HVM Racing are expected to make the transition to the IndyCar Series from the Champ Car World Series. Since the announcement about unification in late February, teams have been working around the clock to prepare for the start of the season March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now," Mower said. "It's only basically come together (in the past couple of days) with a lot of items. It's been a monumental task not only for us, but for us, the IRL, for the other teams that have been assigned to help teams. To do it in two to three weeks has been incredible."

The teams received their cars the first week of March, and have been aided by existing IndyCar Series teams with technical instruction and data and basic setups.

"The first thing was the tubs, painting the tubs, adjusting the bodywork," said Eric Bachelart, Conquest Racing's co-owner. "While we were doing that, we only got the engines March 11, we started to prepare the different components of the car, crack test everything, build everything. Now that we have the engine, we can start to do all the trimming of the car."

Every box arriving at the shop is "like Christmas."

"Over the years, you find yourself in some amazing situations," Bachelart said. "There is always a solution. It's OK. We have a good team manager, and he's well on top of everything. I'm concerned but not overly worried. At least we're going to be there."

tv news
Motorsports This Week on ESPN  
NASCAR Nationwide Series Airing on ESPN Saturday from Nashville 

The NASCAR Nationwide Series makes its first appearance of the 2008 season on ESPN with a live, flag-to-flag airing of the 300-mile race from Nashville Superspeedway Saturday, March 22, beginning at 2 p.m. ET with NASCAR Countdown. The Nashville telecast is presented by Tractor Supply Company. ESPN2 is the home of the NASCAR Nationwide Series all season, with selected races on ESPN and ABC.

Carl Edwards won both NASCAR Nationwide Series races held last year on the 1.333-mile, concrete-surfaced Nashville track on his way to the series championship.

ESPN2 airs live coverage of Friday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series practice at Nashville at 2:30 p.m., and taped coverage of final practice airs Saturday at 11 a.m.

Marty Reid will be the lead announcer for ESPN’s coverage, joined in the booth for analysis by 1989 NASCAR Cup Series champion Rusty Wallace and two-time Cup Series champion crew chief Andy Petree. Jamie Little, Mike Massaro, Shannon Spake and Vince Welch will report from the pits, while two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief Tim Brewer will be in the ESPN DISH Tech Center.

Allen Bestwick will host NASCAR Countdown with analysis by Wallace and Brad Daugherty, a former winning team owner in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, in the ESPN pit studio.

The race will be simulcast on ESPN360.com, ESPN’s signature broadband sports network, and on ESPN Deportes, the domestic Spanish-language network. The event also will be simulcast on ESPN MobileTV.

NASCAR Now Schedule Includes Monday Roundtable Discussion

NASCAR Now, ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information show, features news, highlights, opinion, debate and analysis from drivers, crew chiefs and insiders both on and off the track.

On Monday, March 24, host Allen Bestwick leads a discussion of the Nashville Superspeedway weekend and other NASCAR news in a one-hour episode airing at 5:30 p.m. ET. Half-hour episodes air Tuesday and Wednesday of this week at 6 p.m., at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and 7:30 p.m. Friday.

NASCAR Now is hosted by Ryan Burr, Nicole Manske and Bestwick and originates from ESPN’s high definition studios in Bristol, Conn. Contributors include NASCAR Insiders Marty Smith and Angelique Chengelis, analysts Ray Evernham, Tim Brewer, Brad Daugherty, Boris Said and Tim Cowlishaw, ESPN.com reporters Terry Blount and David Newton and D.J. Copp, a member of Bobby Labonte’s NASCAR team.

NASCAR Now viewers also benefit from frequent contributions by the NASCAR on ESPN team including Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett, Dr. Jerry Punch, Andy Petree, Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Mike Massaro and Shannon Spake. More ...
tv news
Indianapolis 500 opening sequence nominated for Emmy Award  The opening sequence for ABC Sports' broadcast of the 2007 Indianapolis 500 was nominated for a Sports Emmy® Award by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences on March 13 in New York.

Actor Jeremy Irons narrated the opening that led into ABC's live coverage of the 91st edition of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, won by Dario Franchitti. The opening, called "All Roads Lead to Indy," focused on the international background of many of the 33 drivers participating in the 2007 race.

Winners will be announced at the 29th annual Sports Emmy Awards on Monday, April 28 at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. More ...

Toro Rosso hail ex-Champ Car champion  
Sebastien Bourdais has impressive debut in F1
Toro Rosso have been singing the praises of Sebastien Bourdais after he joined a select group of drivers to have scored points on their Formula One debut.

The four-times Champ Car Champion finally made his F1 bow in the Australian Grand Prix, with Bourdais making full use of his experience of American open-wheel racing to climb to fourth place as a chaotic afternoon brought repeated safety car interruptions.

Bourdais' promising debut then looked set to come to a sorry conclusion when the Ferrari engine on his car failed with just three laps remaining.

However, an attritional race which saw just seven cars finish on the road eventually allowed a seventh-place classification and two championship points. More ...

track news
MIS partners with LifeLock  Michigan International Speedway has announced a partnership with LifeLock®, the industry leader in identity theft prevention to present the LifeLock 400, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at MIS on Sunday, June 15. The Father’s Day race will kick off the track’s 40th season of racing.

LifeLock is partnering with MIS to shed light on the fastest growing crime in America, identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission recently reported that the number of reported cases of identity theft increased 16% from 2006 to 2007.

“Since our sponsorship of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the end of last season, we have been looking for another opportunity to bring our prevention message to the fans, teams and corporate sponsors of NASCAR,” said Todd Davis, LifeLock CEO and founder. “The Father’s Day event at Michigan International Speedway is one of the most meaningful stops of the year for teams, the largest annual sporting event in the state and the perfect place for LifeLock to get reconnected with the sport.”

Italy slams Ferrari for Aus 'disaster'  (GMM)  The partisan but famously volatile Italian press predictably lashed out at Ferrari after the Maranello team's disastrous beginning to its 2008 championship defense in Australia.

The sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport summed up the mood by labeling the Prancing Horse's Melbourne effort a "disaster" strewn with "incredible errors".

Not only did both F2008s retire with engine failures, reigning champion Kimi Raikkonen - who started down the grid following another reliability problem in qualifying - made two blaringly rookie-style errors as he tried to make up ground.

Felipe Massa's bad day, meanwhile, got off to an immediately bad start when he lost control of his scarlet car and hit the wall before contemplating turn two of the 58-lap race.

"Ferrari, you must immediately improve!" Corriere dello Sport demanded.

Tuttosport called Albert Park the scene of Ferrari's "great debacle", while La Repubblica pointed out that "the first Sunday without Jean Todt" on the pit wall turned into a "black start" for the Italian outfit.

"Raikkonen was a shadow of himself and Massa inattentive.  Not since 1992 has Ferrari started a season so badly," Tuttosport observed.

Jani upset after penalty  
Neel Jani
Neel Jani believes A1 Team Switzerland could have had double the championship point lead it has now after a disastrous Feature race in Mexico.

Even though Switzerland extended its lead in the championship from 10 to 15 points over today’s two races, Jani was upset after the team was given a drive-through penalty for an ‘unsafe release’ following its second stop.

Jani exited the pits alongside eventual winner Adam Carroll. The pair continued to drive side-by-side until the exit of the pit lane, when Carroll got ahead.

Jani had been leading the race until the pit stop, but dropped to 13th after taking the penalty. He eventually finished 19th, after a last-lap crash with Pakistan.

‘Our pit stop unfortunately wasn’t great and I was alongside [Adam] Carroll leaving the pits. I was basically half a car length ahead so I couldn’t pull over. I was ahead of him, so I stayed on my line.

‘We would have been at least 27 or 30 points ahead after this if we wouldn’t have had the penalty.’

However, with a 15-point advantage with four races to go, Jani says he is intent on taking this season’s title.

‘This makes me determined from now to win this championship for Switzerland,’ Jani said. ‘The determination doesn’t change but it just makes me more angry. I definitely I will try not to give anyone any cause to give us a penalty in the future.’
F1 Grands Prix are the world’s most valuable annual sporting events  Formula One boasts the world’s highest revenue generating annual sporting events, with the 18 Grands Prix in 2007 having an average revenue of $217 million, according to research from the Sports Business Group at Deloitte.

This compares with per game values of $24 million in the NFL, $8 million in the FA Premier League and $2 million in the MLB.

At absolute revenue levels, F1’s global revenues of $3.9 billion (Source: Formula Money) mean only the NFL ($6.5 billion in 2006) and MLB ($5.1 billion in 2006) earn more revenue, albeit from a substantially higher number of events. The Premier League clubs’ combined revenue was $3 billion in the 2006/07 season.

The $3.9 billion is comprised of central revenues (from broadcasting, race sponsorship and corporate hospitality), team revenues (including sponsorship and contributions from their commercial partners and owners) and circuit revenues (from ticketing and certain sponsorships). More ...
Champs reign at Gatornationals  Reigning NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series champs Tony Schumacher, Tony Pedregon, and Jeg Coughlin all collected victories at the 39th annual ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, the third round of the 2008 season.

Coughlin and Pedregon earned their first wins of their title defense seasons, scoring in Funny Car and Pro Stock, respectively, with final-round victories over Gary Densham and Jason Line and Schumacher (pictured) his second in Top Fuel by defeating Brandon Bernstein. As he did for his first career win in Reading last year, No. 1 qualifier Matt Guidera again won Pro Stock Motorcycle with a blistering string of four six-second passes. He’s the only rider to accomplish that feat.

Schumacher, who started from a season-low fifth spot in qualifying, defeated J.R. Todd and Antron Brown with back-to-back laps of 4.61 and 4.59 but squeaked by season archrival Larry Dixon in the semifinals where neither driver’s car ran up to its capabilities. Schumacher’s Army digger squirmed around its lane and dropped cylinders on the top end but managed a 4.74 to 4.85 win over Dixon’s U.S. Smokeless rail, which wasn’t in much better shape, to reach his 71st career final. The race was their third straight in the semifinals this year and was a rematch of last year’s final round, which Schumacher also won. To add insult to Dixon’s injury, he also was tagged with a 10-point oildown penalty in the loss. Schumacher scored his second straight and third overall Gatornationals victory by a 4.60 to 4.66 decision over Bernstein. The victory is Schumacher's 43rd in Top Fuel, just nine behind all-time class winner Joe Amato. More ...

A lap around Sepang with Alex Wurz  
After a disappointing result to the season opener in Melbourne Australia, Honda racing head to Sepang for round two and although test driver Alex Wurz won’t actually be racing this Sunday, he knows just what the Malaysian track is like to drive.

It's usually very hot and humid in Malaysia, so the race is a big challenge for the brakes, the engine and also the drivers. The circuit is a great challenge too, so it's a pretty full-on weekend for the teams.

Here Alex tells us all about it…. More ...

Sepang: a grueling challenge for Bridgestone  Bridgestone Motorsport’s hard and medium compound Bridgestone Potenza Formula One tires take on one of the most grueling challenges of the season as they tackle the predicted searing heat of the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang on March 23rd.

The second event on the 2008 calendar will mark the tenth time the Malaysian Grand Prix has been held, with every race held at the 5.54 km Hermann Tilke designed Sepang circuit near Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur.

The Malaysian circuit offers a tough test to cars and drivers alike. From a tire perspective it is a severe circuit. Two long straights head into tight slow speed corners meaning heavy braking, and the changes in regulations for 2008 mean that tire locking could be more likely as ECU-controlled engine braking is not there to assist the slowing of the cars.

In addition to the two heavy braking zones, a wide range of corner types mean that the tires are kept under heavy loads. The circuit layout is not the only aspect that is tough on tires as the hot weather experienced here gives the tires a harsh test too. More ...

Top 35: Hornish in, McMurray out  The goal for Sam Hornish Jr. in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway was simple: Be invisible.

If Hornish managed to stay out of trouble during the race, then he and his No. 77 Penske Racing team would have a chance at making the top 35 in owners points and locking themselves into the next race at Martinsville Speedway.

Mission accomplished. It wasn’t pretty, but Hornish wasn’t involved in any accidents and brought his Dodge home in 29th place. With Jamie McMurray’s troubles, Hornish and his team moved up to 35th in the owners standings.

“I probably got bumped a little bit more than I bumped anybody else just because we weren’t as quick as we’d like to be,” Hornish said.  “The left-rear quarter panel sure shows it. It was a tough day for us, but we finished and I think we’re in the top 35 in points, so it makes us feel a little bit better about going into Martinsville.” Scenedaily.com
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Aus GP future to be clear later in 2008
  • Mubadala revs up Ferrari F1 deal
  • Dennis plays down Sepang absence
  • Lauda slams drivers after Ferrari debacle
  • Pity Wurz left Williams says Keke Rosberg
  • Briatore goes easy on Piquet after dire debut
  • Flav saves cheeky smile for McLaren setback
  • My rear-view mirrors 'suck' says Coulthard
  • Gene surprised by McLaren finger trouble

Aus GP future to be clear later in 2008
(GMM)  Melbourne officials will discover later this year if the country stands a chance of retaining the grand prix at Albert Park beyond the looming expiry of its contract.

Race bosses and F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone are at odds over a new deal, with the Australian chiefs recently ruling out meeting Ecclestone's demands for a night race.

Premier John Brumby, in charge of the promoting Victorian state government, said at the weekend that he expects to find out about the event's future from Ecclestone later this year.

"I expect that by the spring we will have a firm decision in relation to the future of the grand prix," he said.

Organizers have offered to compromise on the night race demand with a 5pm twilight start in 2009, but Ecclestone and grand prix boss Ron Walker did not discuss the issue at the weekend because the F1 supremo did not make the trip from London to Australia for the 2008 opener.

Interestingly, however, Walker - who said he spoke on the phone to Ecclestone on Sunday - told the local newspaper The Age that there might even be room to maneuver on the 5pm proposal.

"We're not far off a compromise," he said.

Mubadala revs up Ferrari F1 deal
(GMM)  The state owned Abu Dhabi investment company Mubadala has extended until 2010 its sponsorship of the formula one team Ferrari.

It was revealed last year that Mubadala, having already bought a five per cent stake in the famous Italian marque in 2005, would inject additional funds so that its logos are featured on the red racers in 2007-2009.

The company has now negotiated a further one-season extension (to 2010) of that deal, with prominent branding on the nose of the Maranello built single seaters.

Dennis plays down Sepang absence
(GMM)  Ron Dennis on Sunday pre-empted more inevitable speculation about his future by revealing that he does not plan to attend this weekend's Malaysian grand prix.

Not long after rumors that the McLaren boss might call it quits before the 2008 season opener were proved wrong, the 60-year-old told reporters in Australia that a prior engagement will keep him away from Sepang.

"When you don't see me in Malaysia, don't jump to conclusions -- I will be at all the other races," Dennis said, insisting that his absence has nothing to do with formula one.

Wearing the now familiar bright orange McLaren 'victory' t-shirt in the Melbourne paddock, the Briton also bluntly denied that Lewis Hamilton's Albert Park win, and Ferrari's disastrous showing, was sweet "revenge" after the trials of 2007.

Dennis also would not hear suggestions that Ferrari's dreadful weekend could be related to the official handing over of power from Jean Todt to new chief Stefano Domenicali.

"They're a very competitive team, they're well run," he insisted.

"We know they're going to be a very strong team in all the remaining races," Dennis added. More ...

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