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Piquet Jr set to thrill crowds at Renault Roadshow in Dubai  Nelson Piquet Jr, driver of the Renault Formula 1 team, will be raising decibels, scorching tires and generally thrilling the crowds this weekend as the Renault Roadshow brings the glamorous and high-octane sport of F1 to the city of Dubai for the first time.

The Renault Roadshow pulls into town on Friday, at the waterfront promenade between The Dubai Mall and Souk Al Bahar at Burj Dubai. A specially designed platform is being constructed over a section of the lake and will act as a demonstration track for various Renault machines, including one of the team's F1 cars.

Drivers, including Piquet, will take turns on the platform performing tricks, including handbrake turns, wheelspins and power slides. More ...

Doornbos tests the high banks of Texas  
Robert Doornbos went from the streets of St. Pete to the high banks of TMS
Scott Morris/AR1.com
Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) driver Robert Doornbos has yet to make his racing debut on an oval in his rookie season of IndyCar Series competition but he added another day of testing at the high-banked, 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway today to aid in his preparation.  He will make his oval racing debut at Kansas Speedway on April 25-26 in the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 before returning to this track June 4-6 for the Bombardier Learjet 550.

“I was very happy to go testing straight away after a race weekend,” said Doornbos, who ran over 100 trouble-free miles.  “St. Pete is behind us now and we have to focus on a lot of things coming up and the first was the test at Texas Motor Speedway. It went really well in my opinion. It was the first time for me to drive on such a banked oval.  We were up to speed very quick; a lot faster than I got up to speed in Homestead so I am getting the hang of the ovals.  We found some good things about the setup so the engineers did a great job testing new items.  The mechanics worked really hard to turn the car around from a street course car to an oval one.  It was sunny but at the end of the day the wind licked up and driving was a bit tricky; I had some small moments.  Now the focus changes to the next target which is the A1GP race in Portugal and then back to the U.S. to focus on the race in Long Beach.  I’m very busy but also very happy.” More ...

McLaren to be heard at diffuser appeal  (GMM)  McLaren has asked to be heard at next week's diffuser appeal hearing in Paris.

Next Tuesday morning at the FIA International Court of Appeal, F1's governing body will hear cases put forward by Ferrari, Renault and Red Bull against the legality of the cars of the so-nicknamed 'diffuser gang'.

In Australia, the three aforementioned teams lodged with the stewards formal protests about the controversial aerodynamic devices at the rear of the Brawn, Williams and Toyota cars.

BMW-Sauber followed suit with a protest in Malaysia last weekend.  In both protest cases, the stewards cleared the cars to race, causing the plaintiffs to exercise their right to appeal.

The FIA released further information about the forthcoming appeal hearing on Wednesday, including the request of the McLaren team to "be heard" by the court.

Following the Tuesday hearing, the court's verdict is expected to be published the following afternoon.

F1 doesn't need FIA or Bernie - Legault  (GMM)  Former Canadian grand prix promoter Normand Legault believes formula one teams should abandon the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone.

The 53-year-old told the French language La Presse newspaper that FOTA, the teams' new unified alliance, is their ticket to shedding the sport's current outdated structure.

Legault revealed that, shortly before the Formula One Teams Association was enacted, he made a presentation to the teams in Montreal.

"I said to them 'why don't you reorganize yourselves like a North American sports league?  When the (Montreal) Canadiens play the Boston Bruins, they don't ask the International Hockey Federation to referee the match.

"In the world of North American pro sports, each league has a board of governors, a commissioner and vice presidents who manage the business.  The owners of the sport manage themselves.

"The National Hockey League doesn't have to ask anyone if it wants to increase the size of the net by six inches!" he exclaimed.

Legault said the winds of change are already blowing, and a recent example of this is the recent flexing of muscles between the teams, the FIA and commercial rights holder Ecclestone over the scoring system.

He also says F1 could live without Ecclestone, and the time is ripe for this to happen, given the absence of a Concorde agreement.

"The teams could leave tomorrow morning.  They could call it the Grand Prix World Championship.  If you have Ferrari, BMW, Williams, if you have Lewis Hamilton, that seems pretty much like the real thing."

Legault said the problem with Ecclestone and FOM is the 50-50 revenue split.

"To go back to the model of the NHL, if the league administrative costs are $50 million, and overall revenues are $1.8 billion, then that amounts to 3 per cent.

"In F1, the guy who manages the business costs you 50 per cent of your revenues," said Legault.

GM expands Direct Injection engine lineup  

How Direct Injection Works
Direct Injection Cold Starts
Direct Injection Photography

The all-new, five-passenger 2010 GMC Terrain joins the rapidly growing list of vehicles with GM’s direct injected (DI) engines that use less fuel, make more power and produce fewer emissions. The Terrain brings to 18 the number of North American GM models that will feature DI in 2010 – more than any other manufacturer.

“Direct injection is a key component of GM’s Advanced Propulsion Technology Strategy that uses multiple technology pathways to achieve increased efficiency and the diversification of energy sources,” said Tom Stephens, vice chairman, Global Product Development. “Because there is no single solution, we’re applying advanced technology where it makes the most sense for customers in regard to fuel efficiency, performance and cost. The efficiency gain with direct injection represents a great technological value that customers can benefit from immediately.”

Both of the Terrain’s available engines – a new 2.4L four-cylinder and a 3.0L V-6 – come standard with DI, with 2.4L-equipped models estimated at 30 mpg on the highway (EPA certification pending). That puts GMC’s new crossover SUV at the top of its segment in highway fuel economy.

Additional new GM models with DI include the 2010 Buick LaCrosse luxury sedan, the sporty 2010 Chevy Camaro, the redesigned 2010 Cadillac SRX and the 2010 Chevy Equinox crossover. They contribute to GM’s global initiative that will see eight distinct DI engines offered in 38 vehicle models around the world next year. More ...

Raikkonen: Diffuser decision will decide F1 title  
Raikkonen was out to lunch in Malaysia
"Well, that was a really bad season start. It went wrong at Melbourne, it went wrong at Sepang and we left empty-handed. In Malaysia I could have gained some points on the dry track, but we knew that the rain was about to arrive at any moment. Friday’s lap times seemed quite good, but there’s always the unknown of the fuel loads the other teams have on board. And then we knew that the most difficult part was the qualifying, where we’re obviously suffering more than in the race. I was quite satisfied with my lap in Q3: that’s what we can accomplish at the moment. We’re missing grip and downforce and we’ve got to give it our all with what we have. There are some new features coming up and I know that the team is working very hard to anticipate the whole development. More ...
Kubica thinks KERS helps  Robert Kubica, speaking to the BMW Sauber team's official website after retiring one lap into the rain-hit Malaysian Grand Prix, the Pole admitted that he is currently unable to make use of KERS because of his height and weight, which makes packaging the heavy technology impractical if he is to be competitive. As one of the taller drivers on the grid, his size outweigh any benefits of the extra 80hp boost that the KERS technology provides.

"I think KERS is advantageous in race situations like overtaking and defending your position - and definitely for the start," Kubica, who suffered an engine fire at Sepang, lamented.

"The distance from the start line to the first corner made for bigger gains for KERS cars at the start in Malaysia, but you could already see in Melbourne that KERS does make a difference. If you take the situation between Fernando Alonso and Timo Glock, Fernando was much slower, but he was boosting on every straight and Timo just didn't have the opportunity to pass."

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Force India releases Liuzzi for A1 debut
  • Alonso, Kubica fans' choice for Ferrari
  • Put Schu on the pitwall, Lauda tells Ferrari
  • KERS not to blame for teams' struggles
  • Trulli reveals Abruzzo earthquake 'shock'
  • Experts think 4pm Sepang start wiser
  • Also Rosberg, Heidfeld, unwell in KL

Force India releases Liuzzi for A1 debut
(GMM)  Force India test and reserve driver Vitantonio (Tonio) Liuzzi has signed to race for the Italian team in the open wheeler championship A1GP.

The 27-year-old's debut in the series will take place this weekend in Portugal.  The next round in the UK does not clash with the F1 calendar, but the May 24 finale in Mexico takes place on the same weekend as the Monaco grand prix.

With the ever-tightening restrictions on track testing in formula one, Liuzzi said he is "really looking forward" to returning to racing.

"Racing is the thing I like to do most," he said.  "I am pleased that Vijay Mallya and Force India agreed to release me for these races so I can feel the adrenalin of a race atmosphere again."

A1 Team Italy would not confirm if Liuzzi will be available to race in Mexico.

Liuzzi has contested 39 grands prix, most recently for Toro Rosso in 2007.

Alonso, Kubica fans' choice for Ferrari
(GMM)  As far as Italian sports fans are concerned, Ferrari made the right choice in signing Fernando Alonso for the future.

It is a well-known secret that the Spaniard has inked a deal to move to the Maranello team either in 2011 or (depending on Kimi Raikkonen) even next year.

A survey conducted by La Gazzetta dello Sport claims the 27-year-old is the driver most Italian fans want Ferrari to put into a red car.

Alonso captured nearly 42 per cent of the total vote, ahead of Robert Kubica (24.6%), Felipe Massa (16.8%) and Kimi Raikkonen (8.9%).

Of the five drivers cited, Lewis Hamilton netted the lowest percentage of the vote, with 8.2 per cent. More ...

Grand-Am adds marketing veterans  Building on the success of this year's Rolex 24 At Daytona, Grand-Am Road Racing Vice President of Marketing and Communications Kevin Hindson announced the addition of a pair of marketing veterans.

Joining the Grand-Am Road Racing staff are David Pettit, Director of Sales and Partnership for Grand-Am, and Peter Casarico, Manager of Sales and Partnership.

As the Director of Sales and Partnerships, Pettit will oversee the on-going evolution of the partnership platform architecture for the sales and partnership team.  He joins the Grand-Am team bringing with him more than 20 years of corporate and racing experience, including stints on ALMS, IRL, NHRA, SCCA, Grand-Am and NASCAR manufacturers programs.

Casarico's focus will be on new partner development for Grand-Am. He joins Grand-Am with more than 16 years of business development experience in the sports sponsorship and advertising industry.  Prior to Grand-Am, he held various sales and management positions with PGA TOUR Productions, USA Network and ESPN. 

"Motorsports continues to prove its value as an integral part of many companies' ongoing business-to-business and consumer marketing plans," Hindson said. "Leveraging the ongoing growth and development of Grand-Am Road Racing, the Sales and Partnership team is charged with developing integrated relationships with select companies." More ...
NASCAR Nationwide Series rating plummets 23%  ESPN officials say that ESPN2’s coverage of last Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly 300 at Texas Motor Speedway earned a 1.4 household coverage rating from Nielsen Media Research.  The rating is down from the 1.8 earned for last year’s race, which was also carried on ESPN2.
McLaren summoned by FIA, sacks Dave Ryan  (GMM)  On the day it sacked sporting director Dave Ryan, McLaren was formerly summoned to a hearing of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council.

As the 'lie-gate' scandal nears its summit, F1's governing body said the meeting will take place in Paris on 29 April.

McLaren must answer the charge that lies were not only told at the Australian stewards hearing, but subsequently last week in Malaysia.

The FIA also claims McLaren "made no attempt to rectify the situation" despite knowing that the lies caused Jarno Trulli to be "unfairly penalized" and stripped of his Melbourne podium.

It appears that world champion Lewis Hamilton is not facing the same accusations, with the FIA saying McLaren "procured its driver" to repeat the untruths.

In reaction, McLaren vowed to "cooperate fully" with the FIA process.

A statement issued by the Mercedes-powered team on Tuesday also said: "This afternoon McLaren and its former sporting director, Dave Ryan, have formally parted company."

track news
ISC Net Income (Profit) Falls 31 percent  International Speedway Corp.'s fiscal first-quarter net income fell 31% on falling revenue amid price cuts as the racetrack operator cut its fiscal-year outlook, citing a worsening economy. The company has seen attendance at its events fall. The average income of NASCAR fans is below the national median, making them more susceptible to the recession. The company had also said it had begun to see a slowdown in corporate spending for hospitality, making the process of securing deals more time consuming. The company cut its fiscal-year earnings outlook to a range of $1.80 to $2 on revenue of $700 million to $720 million from December's estimate of $2.35 to $2.45 a share on revenue of $745 million to $765 million. It also said it wasn't including its Motorsports Authentics business in that estimate, saying that division's management was re-evaluating it given the challenges of selling licensed sports goods in the current market. President Lesa Kennedy said the company had reduced ticket prices to make it more affordable for fans to come to events. For the period ended Feb. 28, the motorsports promoter reported net income of $25.1 million, or 52 cents a share, down from $36.2 million, or 71 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding items, earnings fell to 56 cents from 78 cents. Revenue decreased 14 percent to $166.1 million. Wall Street Journal
Hamilton: McLaren to make some improvements  Lewis Hamilton has urged McLaren to up their game if they want to stand any chance of retaining the Drivers' Championship.

Two races into the season Hamilton has just one World Championship point to his name after being thrown out of the Australian GP and scoring only half points for his seventh-placed finish in Malaysia.

As such the 24-year-old is lagging 14 points behind fellow Brit Jenson Button in the standings and with the Brawn GP car well ahead of McLaren's MP4-24 in terms of pace, Hamilton admits it's going to be a tough task catching up.

"I hope we make some improvements," he told his official website. "The engineers are optimistic that we have some good improvements in the pipeline for the next race, but we've got a huge amount of distance to cover so it will be tough." More ...

NASCAR's poster child highly overrated  Dale Earnhardt Jr. only has himself to blame for being in the spotlight with the media. Just when you didn't think things couldn't get any worse... Junior was missing a lugnut when he left the pit stall during the Ambrose caution in Texas. He had to go back in to retrieve it. When he went back into the pits, he didn't see his pit stall and drove right by it even though it was a caution and he had all the time in the world.  How many other seasoned drivers do you hear about this happening to? Exactly. Seriously, he is now with NASCAR's best team and looks like a complete wanker.  He is without a doubt NASCAR's most overrated driver by a wide margin, riding on his father's coattails.
Honda was hasty in selling F1 team: Ecclestone, Brawn  Honda Motor Co. may have been too hasty in quitting Formula One, according to Bernie Ecclestone, who runs F1's commercial operations.

Facing slumping global sales, the carmaker sold its F1 operations for an undisclosed sum to former team principal Ross Brawn a month ago to save ¥20 billion a year.

While Honda counted just one victory from 53 races in three years, the Brawn team has won both Grands Prix this season through driver Jenson Button, including Sunday's rain-shortened Malaysian Grand Prix.

"They'd spent an awful lot of money, hadn't gotten anywhere and probably didn't realize the potential," Ecclestone said in Kuala Lumpur. "I'm sure if they had, they wouldn't have gone because all this would have been Honda otherwise."

Brawn isn't so sure. The Briton, who has engineered the transformation after Honda hired him 17 months ago, said the automaker had reasons beyond finance for dropping out.

Honda has forecast that its profit plunged 87 percent in the business year that ended last Tuesday to ¥80 billion as vehicle sales in the United States in February fell to their lowest level since December 1981.

"I'm sure they were very frustrated at having to withdraw," Brawn, 54, said. "I've had many notes from senior people at Honda, so they are frustrated because obviously the team has moved forward, but it was a necessity for their business."

Honda spokeswoman Tomoko Uchida declined comment.

GP needs 'more suitable' time - Sepang boss  (GMM)  The boss of the Sepang circuit insists the 2010 Malaysian grand prix must revert to a "more suitable" start time.

Bernie Ecclestone was nonplussed when it was put to him that a 'twilight' 5pm race proved inappropriate for Malaysia, given the fading light and torrential rain of last Sunday's shortened event.

"We definitely need to propose for a more suitable time for our race," said Sepang chief executive Razlan Razali.  "The issue here is whether we have enough daylight and on Sunday, this was not the case."

Razali did not want to lay blame at anyone's door, but he is adamant the twilight concept has been proved wrong for the Kuala Lumpur region.

"It was not just the fans who were dissatisfied with a shorter race but I think everyone involved in F1 also lost money," he said.

Former team boss Eddie Jordan, however, sides with Ecclestone, who saw nothing wrong with the excitement of Sunday's 32 lap race.

"I would rather have a race of that distance and it be as exciting as that than lots of other races that we've seen and been bored to death," he said.

F1 chief executive Ecclestone was unrepentant for championing the twilight concept.  "I only regret the rain," he said of Sunday's race.

New Harley czar is an outsider  
Keith E. Wandell - He is a great guy that gets stuff done.
He's an outsider, the first executive hired from another company to run Harley-Davidson Inc. in recent memory. And he doesn't even own a motorcycle - although Keith E. Wandell promises to remedy that as one of his first executive decisions.

"I have a bike picked out and am getting ready to make the purchase really quick," said Wandell, 59, hired Monday to replace retiring Harley president and chief executive James L. Ziemer.

"My new motto is 'Screw it, let's ride,' " Wandell added, quoting a line from Harley's latest advertising campaign.

Wandell is president and chief operating officer at Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc., where he has worked for the past 21 years. He moves to Milwaukee based Harley on May 1.

He is taking over for Ziemer, a 40-year Harley veteran who announced in December that he planned to retire after four years as CEO of the largest U.S. motorcycle manufacturer.

Wandell arrives during a challenging time in which motorcycle sales have slumped because of the recession and the slowdown in consumer spending. Harley's 2008 profit fell 30% to $654.7 million as motorcycle shipments slid 8% to 303,479. More ...

Versus broadcast better than ESPN  The general view after the IndyCar St. Pete race was that people liked the Versus broadcast. We think they have a knowledgeable and experienced crew and the tone of their voices lends excitement to the action. We think the camera work was great. Watching them working around the track, it seemed obvious they are very committed.

Outside of the channel just having no audience, we would say the other parts of the deal are all good moves.

The question arises...

Which is better...crappy production and bigger audience, or smaller audience and a great show? We are sure Versus says "if we build it, they will come"

However, the IndyCar sponsors could all be saying "if they don’t have viewers, we will go"

Who can say? Time will tell.......
BRTC does $1.5M deal for F1 TV rights  Bahrain Radio and Television Corporation (BRTC) has secured the Middle East and North Africa TV rights to Formula One.

The deal was signed over a weekend that saw the Malaysian Grand Prix stopped prematurely due to adverse weather conditions. Briton Jenson Button, driving for new team Brawn GP, was awarded first place and five point, leaving him at the head of the championship race.

There will be two Grands Prix in the Middle East this year, after Abu Dhabi was added to the calendar. Bahrain itself has hosted a Grand Prix since 2004.

"We look forward to giving our local and regional viewers the best possible coverage of a championship that the Kingdom has become so deeply engrossed in," said Sheikh Rashid bin Abdul Rahman Al Khalifa, the chief executive officer of BRTC.

Financial details have not been released, and all parties have officially refused to comment on the value of the deal. However, an insider confirmed to SportsPro that the agreement is worth in the region of US$1.5 million. SportsProDailyDeal

Ford reduces debt by $9.9B  Ford Motor Co. today announced that it has successfully completed the debt restructuring initiatives it announced last month, reducing its automotive division's debt by $9.9 billion -- a move that it says will save the company $500 million a year.  The Dearborn automaker and its credit subsidiary are using $2.4 billion in cash and 468 million shares of stock to retire that amount.

"By substantially reducing our debt, Ford is taking another step toward creating an exciting, viable enterprise," said CEO Alan Mulally. "As with our recent agreements with the UAW, Ford continues to lead the industry in taking the decisive actions necessary to weather the current downturn and deliver long-term profitable growth."

South Korea F1 track update  
The official home page for the 2010 South Korean Grand Prix is live, complete with new pictures of the Jeonnam track.  The Jeonnam track is 5.4km long and has the usual Tilke mix of over-taking-friendly sharp hairpins plus a couple of quick corners. It’s not clear from the diagram if it has much in the way of grade change.

Here’s how the race organizers describe the circuit:

The most notable characteristic of the Jeonnam Circuit is the fact that it has been designed as two inter-changeable tracks; the F1 track (5.6km) and the permanent track (3.04km).

During ordinary occasions, such as domestic automobile races or motorcycle races, the northern part of the circuit (3.045km, in the shape of a hat) will be used. But during international motor-sport events, such as the F1 Grand Prix, an elongated track (heading towards Yeongam Lake) will also be utilized, extending the total length to 5.6km. In the past, several circuits within the country have made short-courses by temporarily blocking certain track areas. More ...

St. Pete crowd up  St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker said that this past weekend's IndyCar Series Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg "drew a bigger crowd than last year."  Baker said that this year "topped last year's estimated crowd of 140,000 over three days." Baker said of the race, "I think it's set to be here forever." Race promoters "called the weekend a smashing success, so they definitely want to add another year to their contract with the city." The race is "already under contract to stay in St. Petersburg through 2013," and Andretti Green Promotions Manager Dir Kevin Savoree said that the race promoter "now plans to seek a one-year extension." Savoree: "We're thrilled with how the event has gone. It's been a fantastic weekend. All three days exceeded expectations"  St. Petersburg Times
Vitantonio Liuzzi Joins A1 Team Italy  A1 Team Italy has pulled off a coup by signing one of Italy’s most talented drivers, Vitantonio Liuzzi, to represent his country in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.  Liuzzi has been successful in all categories he has contested up to Formula 1, and his first race with A1 Team Italy will be the Vodafone A1GP Algarve, Portugal event over the Easter weekend.

Liuzzi was at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia at the weekend as reserve driver for the Force India Formula 1 team, but flew back to Europe on Saturday night and his first A1GP experience  is driving the series’ simulator in Modena today and tomorrow. Then he will get behind the wheel of the A1GP Powered by Ferrari car for the first time in the practice session that starts at 14.00 hours on Friday, 10 April at the Aut¢dromo Internacional do Algarve. More ...

Momentum builds for Portugal Algarve race  A1 Team Portugal’s Filipe Albuquerque made a final appearance at the WRC Rally of Portugal yesterday as the build up continues to the Vodafone A1GP Algarve, 10 – 12 April, with the next event being the Portimão A1GP Speed Demo this week.

The distinctive notes of the Ferrari engine could be heard for a final time entertaining the crowds as Albuquerque powered his A1GP car around the Super Special Stage in the Estadio Algarve, the base of the Vodafone Rally of Portugal.

“It was harder yesterday, said Albuquerque, “because there was a lot more rubber on the track so I struggled a little bit to do donuts. It was still a good show though and the crowd enjoyed it. I could still interact with them and tried to think where I could improve the show for them after last Thursday so I gave it more revs and they were happier.” More ...

Mosley visits 'outstanding' Algarve circuit  (GMM)  Portugal's hopes of returning to the formula one calendar got a shot in the arm last weekend.

While Max Mosley was in the country for the round of the world rally championship, the FIA president stopped in last Friday to visit the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve.

The Briton said the facility, already used in the winter for F1 testing, is "enormously impressive" but stopped short of saying a grand prix is necessarily around the corner.

"It would be a matter for them to make a commercial arrangement with Bernie," he explained.

In terms of gaining the approval of the FIA, however, Mosley said the venue has already been inspected by the Paris body and attained "grade 1" status.

"It's an outstanding circuit so I think there's no doubt if they made a commercial agreement with Bernie Ecclestone and FOM there wouldn't be the slightest difficulty about putting them on the calendar," he added.

More Germans watch Sepang twilight race  (GMM)  Sunday's Malaysian grand prix may have been one of the shortest formula one races in history, but Bernie Ecclestone will be pleased with television figures now emerging from Europe.

As in Australia, the start-time for the Sepang race was blown out to 5pm, providing a more comfortable day-time rather than painfully early-morning TV viewing time.

RTL, the free to air F1 broadcaster in Germany, is reporting an average audience for the rain-shortened 2009 race of 5.37 million spectators: nearly 40 per cent of the market share.

Last year, when the Malaysian grand prix began hours earlier, more than one million fewer Germans tuned in to watch the Sepang action live.

Mosley reveals plans for FIA 'world engine'  (GMM)  Max Mosley has revealed plans for a "world engine" that in 2013 would be capable of powering FIA categories including formula one, world rally and F2.

On a visit last weekend to the rally of Portugal he said: "It would work in turbocharged form for F1 and then all the way down to naturally aspirated form for the lesser categories and in a turbocharged or naturally aspirated form for the world rally championship."

The FIA president said the planning phase of the project is in its "very early days", with the car manufacturers to be involved.

In the case of F1, he said "peripheral areas" of the engine will be open for development, including KERS and other energy recovery systems to be introduced.

Asked for further information, he said energy could be collected not only from braking heat as at present, but "from exhausts and even from the cooling system".

Referring to the universal FIA engine, he added: "If we can - and I'm not sure we can - find a way of combining all forms of motor sport in that system then this would be useful because of the huge sums spent on motor sport."

Patrick, Matos blame each other for wreck  
Danica Patrick's wrecked AGR car
Scott Morris/AR1.com
Danica Patrick and Raphael Matos had a difference of opinion after their cars slammed into a tire barrier during Sunday's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

"It is not exactly the ideal spot to pass," she said after appearing to chastise the series rookie. "There's not room for two people there."

Matos, who won last year's Firestone Indy Lights division, was trying to pass Patrick heading to the treacherous 10th corner, but he wasn't completely alongside her. As their cars touched, they got locked in a fast slide that knocked the barrier back several feet.

Fortunately, neither was injured.

Matos refused her blame.

"Danica made a big mistake passing a lapped car, and I really had a good run on her," he said. "I was halfway up on her. I thought she'd give me enough room to pass, but she didn't.

"It was very unfortunate and it's frustrating (and) it shouldn't have happened." IndyStar.com

Button, not Hamilton, best British F1 driver  A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, Well, well.  Let's see--who is the top British driver now?  Jenson Button is much more genuine and likeable than Lewis Hamilton, isn’t he?  And with Button winning easily when the car is right, Hamilton can't make that dog of a McLaren go fast now that he no longer has the best car.  I guess Hamilton's greatness is really 95% the car, and 5% him.  I am appalled at Lewis' comments in the press conference he called where he squarely threw the team manager under the bus.  Even if that was the case, I do recall the whole FIA mess from a few years ago and I wonder what part of that situation Lewis didn't recall--like the part where the FIA told the drivers that they expected them to tell the truth.  Lewis didn't tell the truth to the stewards and isn't man enough to own up to that.  Then he blames it all on the team as if he had no idea.  Certainly I am not the only one who finds this ridiculous and totally unbelievable.  Now Lewis and his father supposedly want to leave McLaren?  Funny.  Without McLaren Lewis would be working in a car wash somewhere in the English countryside currently.  They gave him his career at every level from the start.  They also completely screwed Alonso for Hamilton and now he is talking smack about the team?  The guy has ZERO character. Amazing.  McLaren should release him and sign Vettel.  Mercedes would be happy and it would be so much less trouble. Ralph Monroe
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • F1 shake-up not just due to diffusers - Mosley
  • Mosley cautiously happy with 2009 rules
  • Wurz adamant he is Brawn reserve driver
  • Saturated Sepang was 'good show' - Ecclestone
  • Hamilton 'not the first liar' in F1 - Ralf
  • Only McLaren used Melbourne engines at Sepang
  • Renault must analyze KERS use for China - Alonso

F1 shake-up not just due to diffusers - Mosley
(GMM)  Max Mosley at the weekend said he does not believe "the inversion of the established order" in formula one can be simply reduced to the controversy about diffusers.

According to AFP France, the FIA president made the comments on a visit to the Portugal rally, adding that he has no idea which way the Court of Appeal hearing on April 14 will go.

The Briton said there are arguments "for and against" the use of the so-called double or triple-step diffusers.

At Sepang last weekend, meanwhile, Ross Brawn revealed that he proposed to the F1 teams' technical working group a full year ago to amend the 2009 regulations so that certain loopholes could not be exploited.

"I offered them and they were rejected, so my conscience is very clear.  And those rules that I put on the table would have stopped a lot of things," he told reporters in Malaysia.

Brawn third driver Alex Wurz agrees that, with the regulations ultimately set in stone, no-one can now complain about legitimate side-effects of the loopholes.

He told Sport Bild: "In my view formula one has regulations, and where within these rules you are able to innovate, you do.  All the teams do it, and our diffuser is a good example."

Mosley cautiously happy with 2009 rules
(GMM)  Max Mosley has given a cautious thumbs-up to the success of F1's new regulations.

Speaking at the rally of Portugal last weekend, the FIA president said that on the basis of the recent 2009 season opener, the changes to improve overtaking seem to have worked.

"At the moment it looks satisfactory," the Briton is quoted as saying by the French language news agency AFP.

"Melbourne was better than last year, it appeared that it was easier to overtake, but we will have to wait for three or four more grands prix before knowing if there really is an improvement," Mosley added. More ...

Racing News
Quotes of the Week  

"What is happening with the diffusers is stupid, forcing teams to spend money in a time of crisis.  It is also about safety: we have already put similar pieces in our wind tunnel and it gives 14 per cent more downforce.  That is not in the spirit of the regulations.  (And) once they are developed we could be talking 30 or 40 (per cent additional)." Flavio Briatore, Managing Director, Renault

“I want certainty. It’s not right to start a season with question marks as far as the rules are concerned. If the diffusers are conform to the rules it has to be said and decided as soon as possible, but we and other teams don’t think so; or they are not conform to the rules and also in this case it has to be clear fastest possible. Who interprets the rules not in line with them, creates a performance inequality, which is unacceptable.” Luca di Montezemolo, President, Ferrari

"If I'm frank, I didn't say 'look, we're going to do this diffuser if you don't accept this rule'. Because I'm not going to tell people what we're doing.  But I explained that I felt we should have a different set of rules to simplify what needs to be done and I offered them and they were rejected. So my conscience is very clear.  And those rules that I put on the table would have stopped a lot of things. It would have stopped the diffuser and all those bargeboards around the front, it would have cleaned the cars up.  Nobody was interested then, they are very interested now." Ross Brawn, Team Principal, Brawn GP, commenting that the diffuser controversy could have been avoided if those teams now protesting had embraced proposed rule changes a year ago

"I am happy because I just wanted some justice, and I got it.  I am happy for myself and for the team, and have to thank the FIA because it's not very often that they reconsider something; it must have been really hard for them, but they had the common sense to really try and understand what was going on. I have been always honest and it has paid off." Jarno Trulli, Formula 1 driver, Toyota.  Trulli lost the third place and six points he scored in Australia following an incident involving McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, for which the McLaren team has now been disqualified having been found guilty of "deliberately misleading" the Melbourne inquiry.More ...

NASCAR no plans on keeping radio chatter from fans  Radio transmissions between drivers, owners, spotters and crew chiefs will continue to be available to NASCAR, media and fans. Flak over a torrid exchange between #2-Kurt Busch and car owner Roger Penske last Sunday at Martinsville -- in which Busch called his owner "dude" -- evoked a familiar refrain on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. "The radio, I always thought, has been a team tool that should be utilized just by the teams," Busch said. "We don't get to hear what the coach says to his offensive and defensive coordinators in the NFL. I don't think that we get to hear what they do in baseball when they call to the bullpen. You don't get to hear what they say in the huddle, and what they say in the huddle is pretty animated. Roger and I are on the same page. Martinsville is behind us." That may be, but NASCAR isn't about to budge when it comes to keeping the airwaves open.

"The more access we can give the fans, that's a part of what made NASCAR what it is, the accessibility of the drivers," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president of corporate communications. "In my opinion, drivers -- even in the heat of battle -- need to be able to control their emotions. They're driving a racecar around at 200 miles an hour with a bunch of other people. NASCAR needs to be able to hear what's going on with the teams during a race, and we've extended that to the fans." Sporting News

tv news
VERSUS to televise St. Pete IndyCar and Indy Lights races  UPDATE A reminder that the Firestone Indy Lights races run in St. Petersburg on April 4 and 5 will be shown on VERSUS on Monday, April 6, at 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm ET. 

A replay of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg IndyCar race will also be shown on April 6 at 10:00 pm - 12:00 am ET on VERSUS.

04/02/09 The IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights races in St. Petersburg, Florida will be televised on VERSUS this weekend.

Saturday, April 4, 2009
IndyCar Series qualifying and season preview
Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm ET, SDD, VS

Sunday, April 5, 2009
IndyCar Series race
Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm ET, Live, VS

Monday, April 6, 2009
Firestone Indy Lights races
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm ET (04/04/09 & 04/05/09) VS

IndyCar Series race - replay
Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
10:00 pm – 12:00 midnight ET, Replay, VS

Samsung 500 Video recap  
Woman flips the boss's Ferrari  
Flipped Ferrari
BOULDER CREEK - A 23-year-old woman driving her boss' red Ferrari flipped the sports car on Bear Creek Road on Saturday, causing an estimated $125,000 in damage, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The Morgan Hill woman and her passenger did not suffer any injuries, according to the CHP. Her boss, however, was none too pleased.

"He was not very happy," CHP officer Elizabeth Addy said. "She's going to be paying that back for quite a long time."

Addy said the driver was coming around a sharp curve when she lost control and hit the embankment.

"The driver said she wasn't speeding but the cause of the crash is still being investigated," Addy said. "People tend to drive pretty fast along Bear Creek."

Bear Creek Road was closed at 3:18 p.m. until 4 p.m. to extricate the vehicle, which was partially blocking the road.

Alcohol was not involved in the incident, according to the CHP. Addy said the driver borrowed the car with the owner's consent. InsideBayArea.com

Malaysia GP results revised  The results shown in our feature story on today's Malaysian GP have been revised to show that Nick Heidfeld was moved up to second and Timo Glock back to 3rd.  They reverted to the last completed lap.
Junior Strous doubles up in St. Pete  
Junior Strous
Jim Haines/IRL
Ex-Atlantic driver Junior Strous took the Indy Lights field to school again on Sunday.  The move paid dividends for Junior Strous a day earlier on the 1.8-mile temporary street circuit so why not attempt it again? Great idea.

Strous became the third Firestone Indy Lights driver to sweep the St. Petersburg doubleheader, joining Raphael Matos (2006) and Alex Lloyd ('07), by beating Sebastian Saavedra to the checked flag by 0.4428 of a second. James Hinchcliffe finished third, Jonathan Summerton fourth and Daniel Herrington fifth.

Strous, who started second in both races in the No. 18 Shell V-Power Knaus HTP car for the Winners Circle Group, overtook Saavedra in Turn 2 coming out of a Lap 32 restart and held on in the 40-lap race. In Race 1, he made an inside move on J.R. Hildebrand in Turn 1 following a Lap 22 restart and went on to beat Summerton by 0.7205 of a second. More ...

Malaysia: Race tire strategies  

Felipe Massa: Soft / Wet / Intermediate / Wet
Kimi Räikkönen: Soft / Wet / Intermediate / Wet

Lewis Hamilton: Soft / Wet / Intermediate / Wet
Heikki Kovalainen: Soft / DNF

BMW Sauber-BMW
Robert Kubica: Soft / DNF
Nick Heidfeld: Soft / Wet More ...

Webber not pointing fingers after Sepang deluge  (GMM)  Mark Webber on Sunday said it is not fair to blame those who scheduled the Malaysian grand prix for the weather-shortened race.

It has been feared all weekend that the 'twilight' start time for the 2009 event, to better serve the bulk European TV audience, was tempting fate given the region's predisposition to evening monsoons.

The field waited in vain on the drenched Sepang grid in torrential conditions after just 32 laps, but ultimately the two-hour limit arrived as the light faded.

"How unexpected!" the sarcastic Toro Rosso press release headline exclaimed.  "Rain in Malaysia in the afternoon!" More ...

Petrov wins in the rain!  Vitaly Petrov put his experience and skills to good use today in Sepang. In a critically wet and slippery track, the Russian put in a great performance to snatch the win and take the current third place in the drivers’ championship.

The rain started to fall hard on the grid before the formation lap and the race was delayed for thirty minutes. The start was eventually given behind the safety car on a soaked track and it wasn’t until four laps later that the field was released.

Poleman of the day, Davide Valsecchi, immediately had a tough time defending his lead from a daring Pastor Maldonado who passed the Italian at Turn 2 on Lap 5. Behind, Vitaly Petrov took this opportunity to slip past Valsecchi simultaneously. More ...

Brawn: Diffuser row could have been avoided  
Ross Brawn (R) with Richard Branson
Formula One's diffuser controversy could have been avoided if those teams now protesting had embraced proposed rule changes a year ago, according to Ross Brawn.  The Brawn GP owner told reporters at the Malaysian Grand Prix that an attempt to simplify aspects of the 2009 regulations at an FIA technical meeting in March last year had been rejected.

The debate surrounds the rear diffuser, which channels the flow of air out of the back of the car as smoothly as possible for maximum grip and downforce.

Protesting teams argue the use of what is effectively a double-decker diffuser is against the spirit of the regulations.

"If I'm frank, I didn't say 'look, we're going to do this diffuser if you don't accept this rule'. Because I'm not going to tell people what we're doing," said the Briton, whose Mercedes-powered team finished one-two in Australia.

"But I explained that I felt we should have a different set of rules to simplify what needs to be done and I offered them and they were rejected. So my conscience is very clear," added Brawn.

"And those rules that I put on the table would have stopped a lot of things. It would have stopped the diffuser and all those bargeboards around the front, it would have cleaned the cars up."

"Nobody was interested then, they are very interested now." Reuters

Dennis not to blame for scandal - Ecclestone  
Ron Dennis
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone on Sunday said it is impossible to lay any blame for the 'lie-gate' saga at the door of McLaren chairman Ron Dennis.

After decades in charge of the Woking based team, Dennis handed over to his long-time deputy Martin Whitmarsh at the beginning of last month.

Ironically, Malaysia is the first race in living memory not attended by Dennis, who F1 chief executive Ecclestone believes would not have passed the buck to a junior official.

"Ron is an honest straightforward guy," Bernie said at Sepang.

"He would always say 'the bucks stops here' and wouldn't expect Whitmarsh to do it.  He'd do it himself. More ...

Mosley gets involved in 'lie-gate' scandal  
Max Mosley
(GMM)  Max Mosley has revealed that a decision about whether further action should be taken against McLaren has not yet been made.

The FIA president, in Portugal for a round of the World Rally championship, said a formal report on the so-called 'lie-gate' saga is yet to be forwarded to the World Council.

"If there is (a report), I will almost certainly be one of the people there to decide what happens.  Therefore it would be completely wrong for me to discuss the rights and wrongs of the situation," he said.

The scandal, triggered by an innocuous event behind the safety car in Australia one week ago, continued to spiral out of control for McLaren with the publishing of an article in the Sunday Times.

It is claimed world champion Lewis Hamilton threatened to walk away from McLaren and formula one over the affair, but was advised against that course of action by Mosley himself.

Reportedly, the most angry about the affair is Hamilton's manager and father Anthony, who demanded that McLaren and F1 officials allow his son to use the Sepang media centre to publicly apologize and distance himself from the actions of the suspended Dave Ryan. More ...

Damon Hill car business in trouble  (GMM)  A business founded by 1996 world champion Damon Hill has been put into administration.

'P1 International', a membership club involving the sharing of high-performance road cars, was set up in 2000 by Hill and Michael Breen.

Breen bought the company three years ago but Hill, who contested 122 grands prix most recently in 1999, remained a creditor until he filed a winding up petition last month.

The club may now be sold.

"The value of the cars has fallen sharply and membership has dropped off," a source is quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph.

Whitmarsh will not quit over 'lie-gate'  
Martin Whitmarsh
(GMM)  New McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh has rejected calls for him to quit over the 'lie-gate' scandal.

It is well-known that suspended sporting director Dave Ryan and world champion Lewis Hamilton lied to FIA stewards in Australia, but Whitmarsh then arrived in Malaysia and falsely insisted that they did not.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone believes "the bucks stops" with the Briton, and there is also indignation about how long-serving Ryan seems to have been made a sacrificial lamb. More ...

NASCAR Indy ticket sales down  Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and Tampa native Joie Chitwood said he feels "really good" about ticket sales for the Indianapolis 500, but said he is "seeing some pain" with the sales of NASCAR's Brickyard 400.  (Note: NASCAR ticket sales are off at all tracks as fans finally have gotten tired of paying the high prices.  And when the economy picks up they may never come back.)

Chitwood cited fan's sentimental connection with the open wheel race, including its on-going Centennial Celebration and said the tire fiasco that marred the 400 last year might have soured some potential fans. A toxic combination of the new race car employed by NASCAR and a Goodyear tire compound that last only eight-to-12 laps prompted a spate of cautions that marred the race. Tampabay.com

Helio has his ride back if he is acquitted  UPDATE Team owner Roger Penske left no room for interpretation about where he stands on his star driver, Helio Castroneves, being tried on federal tax evasion charges.

In a wide-ranging interview in his motor coach today, Penske said Castroneves "doesn't have a bad bone in his body" and that he hopes "the jury will see that he's not the culprit in this situation."

Castroneves' Miami trial wrapped up its fourth week Friday, and Penske said he understands that his defense team will wrap up its case early next week. Closing arguments and deliberations would follow.

Will Power will drive Castroneves' No. 3 Penske Racing car in today's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg after qualifying sixth Saturday, but Castroneves, a two-time Indy 500 and grand prix winner, will get his job back if he's found innocent.

"If there's no issue coming out of this, he'll be in the car at Long Beach," Penske said. "If he would have been done Thursday of this week, we would have put him in the car Friday. ... This is a complex off-shore tax, U.S. government, all the above (situation)." More ...

Junior Strous wins Indy Lights race on first try  
Ex-Atlantic driver Junior Strous took the Indy Lights regulars to school on Saturday
Junior Strous got the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season off to a good start on Saturday by driving the No. 18 Shell V-Power/Winners Circle Dallara to victory in the 40-lap race on the streets of St. Petersburg.

Strous, a 22-year-old rookie in the series from Wassenaar, The Netherlands, took the lead on Lap 23 and held the rest of the way to become only the seventh driver in Indy Lights history to win his first race.

“This victory means so much since we are a new team--Winners Circle Group Racing,” Strous said after the race. “This team really needed a victory. We haven’t had a lot of laps in this car and the guys worked so hard for this to come together. I’d like to thank the crew and the sponsors for making this possible.”

Junior Strous (L) talks to his Indy Lights team owner Paul Diatlovich
Team Manager Paul Diatlovich was understandably happy to see his driver win.

“This kid is the answer to my prayers,” Diatlovich exclaimed. “Not since Sam Hornish Jr. drove for me have I had a driver come so far so fast. He’s got the talent. The sky’s the limit.”

Starting second, Strous lost a position to Sebastian Saavedra in the first turn of the race and dropped to fourth behind James Davison a short time later. But the talented newcomer did not let the setbacks fluster him and stayed glued to Davison’s gearbox for the next five laps. On Lap 6, their battle for third became a battle for second when Saavedra made an unscheduled pit stop. More ...

Rahal expects good tire wear on Sunday  IndyCar polesitter Graham Rahal, who has taken to the street circuit in St. Petersburg like a duck takes to water, is happy with the wear he is getting on both the black Primary Firestone Tires as well as the softer red Alternate Firestone Tires.

"It's great to get pole. We certainly didn't know what to expect because we had the Firestone primary tires to run at the end, and we saw a couple other guys had the alternates. Both the Firestone tires - the primes and the reds - they performed well today. To be honest, the reds were quicker, no doubt about it. I think they were probably a good four- to five-tenths (of a second per lap) quicker without a problem, and maybe a little more if you pushed 'em. At the end of the day (in the Firestone Fast Six), we did a pretty good run on our primaries to get the pole. I think if we'd had another set of reds then, we would have been even quicker. I think the reds worked extremely well, very consistent. I really don't think tire degradation, reds vs. blacks, is going to be a problem tomorrow."

And it looks like the whole family might be on hand Sunday to see Rahal go for his second straight win in St. Petersburg.

“I’ve got my mom here, my little sister, who never comes to the races, so that’s exciting. My dad is here for part of the weekend, my uncle, his side of the family, and my mom’s boyfriend Chris. They’ve been at Disney World the last couple of days, and now they’re headed over here. My uncle and my dad were here last year, but this year it worked perfectly with my sister’s spring break. My mom just enjoys coming to the races.”

Ginetta-Zytek qualifies fastest in Barcelona  A Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S sits on pole for tomorrow's 1,000km of Catalunya Le Mans Series race having been easily the quickest overall during this afternoon's qualifying session. Driving the new Strakka Racing LMP1 entry, Danny Watts was a full half second faster than anyone else in the 42-car field.

It was almost a double for the debutant design with Olivier Pla in the ASM-Quifel LMP2 GZ09S the fastest in class for virtually the whole of the 20-minute session. However, in the dying seconds he was pushed back down to second place. Both drivers, not surprisingly, declared themselves to be "delighted" with the latest from the Repton-based manufacturer.

Danny proved extremely quick from the very start of the qualifying session, setting his fastest time of 1m 32.492s on his second lap. While his rivals pounded round for anything up to seven laps, the Englishman needed just a total of three to ensure that the car took pole position. What makes this result all the more impressive is that the Strakka Racing team is making its debut in the prototype category this weekend having previously competed in the GT classes. More ...
Q&A with Carl Edwards at TMS  Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, met with reporters following Friday's practice at Texas Motor Speedway. Edwards swept both races at Texas in 2008.

"This track is great to us. We've had a lot of success here, run really well, and I love coming here for a number of reasons. The fans are great, the track is really fun, the weather is always nice. It's just a cool place to come."


"That would be huge. We only got to run a few laps in race trim, but the Aflac Fusion seemed really good. That would be cool. This is a great place to win for a number of reasons. It would be really good for us right now - our finishes the last couple of weeks - it would be perfect to win a race right now."


"Mizzou did a great job, but since they're out of it, it's North Carolina. My wife, her favorite basketball player ever is Tyler Hansbrough, so I have to cheer for him." More ...
IndyCar teams pick tires they will start on  Honda GP of St. Petersburg
(In grid order; Black=Harder Primary tire; Red=Softer Alternate tire)

Row 1

#02 Graham Rahal #19 Justin Wilson
Row 2 #11 Tony Kanaan #6 Ryan Briscoe
Row 3 #10 Dario Franchitti #3 Will Power
Row 4 #34 Alex Tagliani #9 Scott Dixon
Row 5 #2 Raphael Matos #23 Darren Manning
Row 6 #4 Dan Wheldon #24 Mike Conway
Row 7 #06 Robert Doornbos #21 Ryan Hunter-Reay
Row 8 #7 Danica Patrick #13 EJ Viso
Row 9 #14 Vitor Meira #26 Marco Andretti
Row 10 #27 Hideki Mutoh #5 Mario Moraes
Row 11 #98 Stanton Barrett #20 Ed Carpenter

Race Stewards again approve Williams cars  The Stewards of the meeting for the Malaysian Grand Prix tonight decided, consistent with the decision reached by Stewards of the Australian Grand Prix, to reject a protest contesting the legality of the AT&T Williams team’s entries into the race.
Malaysia: Post-qualifying car weights  The following are the race-starting weights of the Malaysian Grand Prix grid, ordered by grid position.

Post-qualifying car weights:
Jenson Button: 660.0 kg
Jarno Trulli: 656.5 kg
Timo Glock: 656.5 kg
Nico Rosberg: 656.0 kg
Mark Webber: 656.0 kg
Robert Kubica: 663.0 kg
Kimi Raikkonen: 662.5 kg
Rubens Barrichello: 664.5 kg
Fernando Alonso: 680.5 kg
Nick Heidfeld: 692.0 kg
Kazuki Nakajima: 683.4 kg
Lewis Hamilton: 688.0 kg
Sebastian Vettel: 647.0 kg
Heikki Kovalainen: 688.9 kg
Sebastien Bourdais: 670.5 kg
Felipe Massa: 689.5 kg
Nelson Piquet: 681.9 kg
Giancarlo Fisichella: 680.5 kg
Adrian Sutil: 655.5 kg
Sebastien Buemi: 686.5 kg

Saavedra wins pole for Indy Lights race 2  Sebastian Saavedra and J.R. Hildebrand found the shortest route and best car setup on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn St. Petersburg temporary street course.

The AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing teammates won both legs of qualifying for the Firestone Indy Lights doubleheader. Saavedra recorded a quick lap of 1 minute, 07.2171 seconds (95.527 mph) and will start from the pole in the second race April 5 (watch it at 10 am. on indycar.com). Hildebrand, driving the No. 26 ARPRO car, will start from the pole (1:07.7704) in the 40-lap first race.

The 27-car field was split into two groups with the fastest overall time determining the pole sitter (Saavedra was in Group 2). The fastest car from the non-pole-winning group (Junior Strous in the No. 18 Shell V-Power Knaus HTP) occupies the other front-row starting spot. The remainder of the pole sitter's group occupies the odd positions, while the outside pole sitter's group makes up the even positions. More ...

Sepang weather shows fury late Saturday  (GMM)  Shortly before 7pm at Sepang on Saturday, the Kuala Lumpur skies gave a prelude to drivers' worst fears ahead of the Malaysian grand prix.

They fear the 'twilight' format of this year's race could coincide with the kind of terrifying weather that so often drops on the region in the evenings.

Sunday's race time is 5pm local, creating a convenient afternoon grand prix for the bulk audience back in Europe.

But as the evening set in on Saturday, the sky grew dark and a furious electrical storm roared through the paddock, causing observers huddling under cover to muse that racing cars could not circulate in that kind of weather.

Berkman: Clock ticking on 2012 IRL engine formula  
Honda Motorsport boss Erik Berkman
Ran into Honda's motorsport boss Erik Berkman in the IndyCar paddock Saturday morning and we talked about the status of the next generation IndyCar engine.  Originally the IRL was hoping to have a new car and engine formula by 2011 but "the deadline to make 2011 was to have 90% of the engine formula rules nailed down by the end of 2008," said Berkman.

"And I don't mean the number of cylinders the engine will have and whether it will be turbocharged or not, I mean 90% of the details agreed to so we could start our preliminary designs.

"And likewise, we have until the end of this year (2009) to have the details ironed out to meet 2012," added Berkman.

With regard to Honda's desire to see the new formula be 6-cylinders and VW/Audi's desire for a 4-cylinder formula, Berkman said Honda was open to some form of equivalency formula but "we would have to see how the IRL proposes to manage that.  They would have to make sure that performance levels are relatively equal." More ...
tv news
Hayden, Foust and St. Pete IndyCar winner on Wind Tunnel  Nicky Hayden, 2006 MotoGP World Champion, will be a featured interview on Wind Tunnel this Sunday, April 5.  Nicky made a change for 2009, and no longer is riding for Honda. This year he’ll be riding a factory Ducati, teaming up with 2007 champion, Casey Stoner. 

Tanner Foust, Current Rally America co-championship leader, will also be a featured guest on Wind Tunnel.  Tanner isn’t just a rally driver, he’s also a 2-time drift champion, a stunt driver for movies, he represented the U.S. in last year’s Race of Champions alongside Carl Edwards, and he hosts his own show on SPEED called SuperCars Exposed.

The IndyCar Series season opener is this weekend on the street course in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Wind Tunnel will be one of the first to congratulate the winner!

Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain airs Sunday night at 9:00 pm-10:00 pm ET live on SPEED.

Will Power tops final practice in St. Pete  On a beautiful sunny day in St. Petersburg, Florida, Will Power turned the fastest lap in his Penske Dallara-Honda  in final practice for the IndyCars at the Honda GP of St. Pete.  Ganassi Racing's Dario Franchitti was 2nd and his teammate Scott Dixon 3rd.  Some drivers did run the option red tires so the times may not be totally indicative of who is fast.

Practice 3 Results

Pos Driver Name Best Time Best Speed Best Lap Total Laps
1 Will Power (3) 1:02.8376 103.123 16 20
2 Dario Franchitti (10) 1:02.9569 102.928 6 10
3 Scott Dixon (9) 1:03.0141 102.834 16 18
4 Marco Andretti (26) 1:03.2337 102.477 13 14
5 Robert Doornbos (06) 1:03.2511 102.449 12 15
6 Tony Kanaan (11) 1:03.2805 102.401 7 10
7 Graham Rahal (02) 1:03.2891 102.387 10 14
8 Dan Wheldon (4) 1:03.3308 102.320 15 15
9 Justin Wilson (19) 1:03.3676 102.260 9 13
10 Vitor Meira (14) 1:03.3935 102.219 7 14
11 Mike Conway (24) 1:03.4030 102.203 10 17
12 Ryan Briscoe (6) 1:03.4845 102.072 5 10
13 Raphael Matos (2) 1:03.6526 101.803 16 18
14 Hideki Mutoh (27) 1:03.7398 101.663 15 15
15 E.J. Viso (13) 1:03.8296 101.520 4 5
16 Ryan Hunter-Reay (21) 1:03.8410 101.502 13 14
17 Darren Manning (23) 1:03.8650 101.464 13 13
18 Danica Patrick (7) 1:04.1378 101.032 13 15
19 Mario Moraes (5) 1:04.5309 100.417 10 17
20 Alex Tagliani (34) 1:04.5559 100.378 8 9
21 Ed Carpenter (20) 1:04.9111 99.829 17 17
22 Stanton Barrett (98) 1:07.3533 96.209 14 17
No chance against diffuser cars  Motorsports-Magazine.com - On Friday, Jenson Button was obviously holding back, because on Saturday, he once again grabbed pole position. "Brawn is the car to beat," concluded Christian Danner in conversation with Motorsports-Magazine.com. Mario Theissen also sees Button ahead in tomorrow's race: "If we take Melbourne as an indicator, he has to be the clear favorite," said the BMW Motorsport Director in an interview with Motorsports-Magazine.com. "It is still proving difficult to make any headway against the teams running with the new diffusers."

The team closest behind Brawn GP in qualifying were Red Bull Racing. "Having taken P1 and P2 amongst the 'legal' cars, we feel we have won something of a moral victory," revealed Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko in conversation with Motorsports-Magazine.com. "They are dominating the field, and Kazuki Nakajima is the only contestant who, purely on the basis of his personal level of skill, is unable to keep up with the front-runners."

In order to close the gap, Adrian Newey is now working on his own double diffuser solution which would take the principle one step further even than Brawn GP. "This will cost a king's ransom and take us three to four months," stresses Marko, who fears a return to the days of ground-effect cars if the diffusers are ruled legal. "We have the best basis of all the non-double-diffuser cars. If we then incorporate one of our own, we will be cornering at phenomenal speeds."

BMW to also protest illegal diffusers  UPDATE #2 (GMM)  Team boss Mario Theissen on Saturday confirmed reports that BMW has formally protested the legality of the 'twin diffuser' cars.

We reported earlier that the Hinwil based team, having attempted to protest in Australia a week ago, in Malaysia protested again against the controversial solutions at the rear of the Brawn, Williams and Toyota cars.

It was suggested the move is so BMW-Sauber can fully take part in the forthcoming appeal hearing at the FIA Court of Appeal, but it is also reported that the new protest will make Malaysia's results relevant to any decision the court may take.

The German news agency DPA said BMW lodged the papers with FIA officials after qualifying at Sepang.

"This is merely a formal act," Theissen said, meaning BMW officially joins the 'anti-diffuser' gang also made up of Ferrari, Renault and Red Bull.

In qualifying, four of the five quickest cars featured the disputed aerodynamic concept.

"It remains difficult to break into the ranks of the teams with the two step diffusers," Theissen said. More ...

Ferrari reduce size of F1 team by 100  (GMM)  Ferrari has reduced the size of its formula one team, but managed to avoid making staff redundant, boss Stefano Domenicali has revealed.

The Italian told Salzburger Nachrichten, an Austrian newspaper, that new rules in the sport made it necessary to trim the size of the workforce of the reigning constructors' championship team.

"Our team is smaller but (achieved this) without layoffs," Domenicali said.  "About 100 employees have been otherwise employed within Ferrari, so our (team) count is now about 700."

Button: This pole even more special than Melbourne  "This is more special than Melbourne, as it's not easy to get two poles on the trot, I've never achieved that in my career.  It's great, and it shows the car works in different circumstances.  The car works okay for us in most circumstances.  The car still has the same old issues like it did when it was slow, it's just faster!  It's still having understeer, but we changed it overnight and its improved it a lot, I feel very comfortable. Tomorrow is going to be very exciting."
U.S. Marines and U.S. Air Force to sponsor Luczo Dragon Racing  The United States Marine Corps and United States Air Force have partnered with Luczo Dragon Racing to support the No. 2 entry driven by Raphael Matos.

The Marines and Air Force will alternate as Luczo Dragon's primary partner throughout the season.

"We are so honored to have the No. 2 Luczo Dragon car represent the United States Marines Corps and United States Air Force throughout the IndyCar Series season," team co-owner Jay Penske said. "For us to even be considered to run those two brands next to ours is a tremendous honor. They both epitomize strength, commitment and preparation. Our team will be determined to uphold those same characteristics and competitiveness."

Matos is the 2008 Firestone Indy Lights champion who is making his IndyCar Series debut in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

"I am honored to drive the No. 2 car and represent the United States Marine Corps and Air Force," he said. "I live in Miami and I have the utmost respect and appreciation for everything the Marines and Air Force do to protect our freedom here in the United States." IndyCar.com

Eight teams change engines  Eight of the ten teams have changed their drivers' engines ahead of the hot and humid Malaysian Grand Prix this weekend. This year, engine rules state that each driver is entitled to eight units over the course of the season, whereas last year's regulations forced engines to have to last for two Grands Prix distances.  All teams bar McLaren and Toro Rosso have changed the engines of their two drivers for Sepang, with the other sixteen already making use of their fresh powerplants.

The Mercedes engines for McLaren and Ferraris for the Toro Rosso cars will, therefore, be the same components as run in last weekend's Australian Grand Prix; although the four drivers will have to work harder to preserve their races this Sunday, they may find themselves with an advantage towards the end of the season by being able to introduce their sixth and seventh engines earlier than their competitors.

Castroneves' father testifies in tax case  UPDATE Helio Castroneves Sr., 61, said Seven Promotions was created by himself and a Brazilian lawyer to promote his son's image and as a vehicle to pay the elder Castroneves for his work. The father said his son had no ownership or control over the company, even though the driver's 1999 contract with Penske Racing and other documents indicate he did own it.

"It's a mistake," said the father, testifying in Portuguese. "No, he's not the owner."

Prosecutors say Castroneves secretly controlled Seven and should have paid taxes on $5 million in the Penske deal.

Defense attorneys counter that if the younger Castroneves didn't own Seven, he doesn't owe any U.S. taxes.

The elder Castroneves said he kept some of that money as repayment for more than $1.5 million he had spent on his son's racing career beginning with go-kart circuits in the 1980s.

"It was to pay part of the investment that I had put on him since he was young," he said. Indy Star

04/03/09 Helio Castroneves' father says he was the one who set up a Panamanian company that prosecutors contend was used to dodge taxes.  Establishing who controlled Seven Promotions is a key issue in the driver's Miami tax evasion trial. Prosecutors say Castroneves secretly ran the company involved in managing his income and is therefore liable for more taxes than he paid.

But Helio Castroneves Sr. testified Friday that he set up Seven Promotions. Defense lawyers have said that because the father set up the company, the driver was paying the proper amount in taxes.

The defense is expected to rest Monday in the five-week-old trial. Castroneves, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and "Dancing With The Stars" champ, faces more than six years in prison if convicted. IndyStar

Diego Nunes cruises to first GP2 win in Sepang  
Diego Nunes
Fast and consistent since the beginning of the Malaysian round, Diego Nunes took an impressive first victory for Piquet GP this afternoon in the feature race at the Sepang International Circuit, while Roldan Rodriguez, his teammate, finished fourth. With fifteen points scored today, the Brazilian squad jumps from fifth to third in the championship standings.

Poleman Jérôme d’Ambrosio at Dams unfortunately returned to the pits after his reconnaissance lap following a driveshaft failure due to a manufacturing glitch. Nunes hence found himself effectively on pole alongside Super Nova’s James Jakes. At the start however, both men were slow to get away while Jakes’ teammate, Javier Villa, stalled. Starting from sixth, Vitaly Petrov found his way up to second place with Pastor Maldonado at ART in tow. Championship leader Kamui Kobayashi kept his position ahead of Ocean’s Yelmer Buurman. Jakes dropped to sixth. More ...

FIA 'recognizes' Hamilton apology  (GMM)  Lewis Hamilton's public apology over the 'lie-gate' scandal was appreciated by the governing FIA, a spokesman has indicated.

While serious questions remain about McLaren's position, and also the damage done to the reigning world champion's reputation, the FIA official suggested the Briton had done the right thing to say sorry.

"We recognize Lewis' efforts to set the record straight today," he said.  "It would appear that he was put in an impossible position.

"We are now awaiting reports from the FIA observer and stewards before consideration can be given to further investigation of the team's conduct.  We cannot rule out the matter being referred to the World Council."

McLaren, nearly excluded from the championship amid the 'spygate' scandal of 2007, is therefore not out of the woods, and the British press remains ropable.

No matter the details of the stewards investigations, British journalists did not welcome news that sporting director Dave Ryan has been suspended. More ...

Malaysia Practice 3: Rosberg again on top  
Nico Rosberg was fastest again in final practice
(GMM)  Both Brawn runners had a worryingly smoky final practice session at Sepang on Saturday afternoon, but the team insists it remains on track.

"It's just that we're running maximum oil level," engineer Jock Clear, alluding to engine overfill, told a concerned Rubens Barrichello during the session.

The Brazilian completed the session without problem and ninth quickest, and teammate Jenson Button was tenth, the Briton having also reported "a big puff" of white smoke from his customer Mercedes at the exit of a corner.

Engine failures this year do not attract penalties until a driver has run through eight power plants, but a problem in round two would put the Brawn pair behind schedule for the season.

Williams' Nico Rosberg finished the practice session fastest, for the fifth time out of the six practice sessions so far in 2009.

Runners for Red Bull, Ferrari and Toyota were also in the top seven, but the two McLarens and Renaults continued their struggle for pace. More ...

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