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Lewis Hamilton has too much money  Lewis Hamilton, a keen guitarist, has parted company with 100,000 dollars (61,000 pounds) to purchase a gold guitar previously owned by American musician Prince.

With Prince having held an auction, where all funds raised went towards art, education and the environment, he revealed Hamilton’s acquisition of the Fender Stratocaster when talking to United States television host George Lopez: “We got 100,000 for that from Lewis Hamilton, the racing car driver. It will be hard to part with.”

On Friday in China, the McLaren driver finished second quickest in practice to World Champion and current standings leader Sebastian Vettel.

Milka Duno Leads Final Practice at Talladega  She failed as an IndyCar driver but someday maybe NASCAR will make her a star.  Milka Duno led the final practice for today's 3 Amigos 250 at Talladega Superspeedway, driving the No. 63 CITGO Supergard Toyota to a lap of 52.064 seconds (183.928 mph). Duno topped 15 other drivers in the 55-minute session.

"The guys gave me a great car and this is the result of that," Duno said. "I think we have a very good, competitive car for the race, but I think it will be a very tough and intense race. The next step is the race, but we know now that the car is good." More ...
IndyCar Long Beach Friday Notebook  Legendary car owner Roger Penske was the 2011 Road Racing Drivers Club honoree at an annual event Thursday night at the Long Beach Hilton.

1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal played host to the event, which raises funds for Team USA driver development.

A who's who of racing past and present - past RRDC honorees Dan Gurney and Parnelli Jones were present as were  IZOD IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves Dario Franchitti, Will Power, Ryan Briscoe, JR Hildebrand, Simon Pagenaud, Simona de Silvestro and Ana Beatriz.

IZOD IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard, four-time Indy 500 winner Rick Mears, two-time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, past IMS track record holder Roberto Guerrero, owners Chip Ganassi and Keith Wiggins and drag racing legend Don Prudhomme also enjoyed the story-filled evening.

"To join Dan Gurney and Parnelli Jones as inductees is an incredible honor," Penske said. "I've raced against these guys and had strategize against them as car owners on race day. Parnelli and Dan are two of the top all-time names in racing - any form of racing -- and to be honored and join is a thrill for me. To look out into the crowd and see so many friends, family and racing legends is quite humbling for me.

"We have all shared some fun times together at the place we all love - the racetrack."

Former driver and TV broadcaster Sam Posey in a taped presentation recalled Penske's dynamic career on and off the track through video presentation featuring iconic black and white and color photos from the 1960s to present day. Common threads in the photos - winning and perfection - are Penske hallmarks.


Indy car champion Jimmy Vasser and Target Chip Ganassi Racing received "stars" on the Motorsports Walk of Fame on Thursday in Long Beach.


Chef and television personality Gordon Ramsey is the grand marshal of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing is competing in its 28th consecutive Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (CART, Champ Car, IZOD IndyCar Series). The team, founded in 1982 by Paul Newman and Carl Haas, has six victories and 11 pole starts on the temporary street course.


Ana Beatriz returns to the No. 24 Ipiranga car for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing this weekend. She sat out the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama because of a fractured right wrist (scaphoid bone) that required surgery suffered in the season opener March 27.

Beatriz was re-evaluated April 11 by the INDYCAR medical team and cleared to drive. She has been fitted with a carbon fiber brace that she will wear in the car.

"I was disappointed that I couldn't be in the car at Barber, but I learned a lot from another angle being there with the team," said Beatriz, whose seat was filled by Simon Pagenaud (finished eighth). "I know the Long Beach track as I raced there in Indy Lights so I feel prepared going into the weekend. My wrist will be sore, but the doctors said that I will be OK. I may not be 100 percent, but I will push through it and I'm ready to get back in the Ipiranga car."

Teammate Justin Wilson, who suffered a fractured left wrist in the same race, wore a similar brace at Barber Motorsports Park last weekend.

"My wrist is feeling fine, it just has a little bit of throbbing, not too bad," said Wilson, the runner-up in last year's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. "I'm hoping once I get a rhythm through the hairpin that I will be fine."


Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver Alex Tagliani will make his 160th Indy car start this weekend (27 IZOD IndyCar Series). He won on the streets of Long Beach twice in the Toyota Atlantic Series, and has three top-five Indy car finishes.

Sam Schmidt Motorsports, in its 10th year, will be making its first start in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The team owner, who has an MBA from Pepperdine University, lived in Long Beach with his wife, Sheila, when they were newlyweds.


Andretti Autosport driver Marco Andretti will throw the ceremonial first pitch - with longtime Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda catching -- April 16 at Dodger Stadium before the game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Additionally, 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti will drive the street-legal two-seater with Lasorda in the passenger seat. Both will sign autographs at 5:30 p.m. in Autograph Alley.


Drivers will have 20 pushes of the Honda overtake assist - an ECU software alteration employed by Honda Performance Development - each lasting 18 seconds during the race. It is activated by the driver via a button on the steering wheel and provides an extra 200 RPM (about 10 horsepower) to the Honda Indy V-8 engine. Parameters are updated before each race weekend to meet the circuit layout.

There is a 10-second recovery period between pushes. One overtake assist push is available for the warm-up session on Sunday morning.


The dry weather tires for this weekend are the street course primary, which is a new spec for 2011 and used on the streets of St. Petersburg in March. This same primary spec will be used at Brazil. Making its debut this weekend is the street course alternate, which will be used again at Toronto in July.

The alternate tire program, part of the IZOD IndyCar Series since 2009, calls for a second tire specification at road/street courses using the same construction as the primary specification but with a softer tread compound to provide more grip and faster lap times while trading off compound durability for those shorter-term advantages.


Teams are free to use their tire allotment as they see fit, though a new rule for 2011 limits cars to one set of tires (team choice of primary or alternate) for each qualifying segment. Also, per series regulations, all cars must use at least one set of primary tires and one new alternate set during the race, each for a minimum of two green flag laps.


IZOD IndyCar Series drivers will greet fans and sign autographs from 4-5 p.m. April 15 in front of their transporters in the paddock. … Mario Andretti, Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal will greet fans from 6-7 p.m. April 15 at the Beverly Center Macy's in Los Angeles. … Gordon Ramsey of "Hell's Kitchen" fame and the grand marshal of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and Patrick Warburton of "Seinfeld" and "Rules of Engagement" will be among the celebrity passengers in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater on race day. … John Kay & Steppenwolf will cap a busy April 16 when they perform in the Tecate Light "Rock-N-Roar Concert" Presented by KLOS.

Firestone Indy Lights entry update: Ryan Phinny of Carmel Valley, Calif., is now driver of #8 Brooks Associates entry.


Speaking of food, Conquest Racing driver Sebastian Saavedra has developed an affinity for a West Coast classic.

"I don't know what it is, but there's just something about eating at In-N-Out Burger when you're in Southern California," he said. "All the mechanics like it, so any little things I can do to make the crew happy, I'll go for it."


Saavedra's parents and sister are visiting from Colombia to watch the first-year driver compete on the streets of Long Beach.

"It will be only the second time for my sister to see my race in IndyCar (the other being the Indianapolis 500 in 2010)," he said. "California is such a beautiful place. It's always nice to be here and, of course, having my family here will make it even more so."

Charlie Kimball of Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing will have about 60 family and friends rooting for him in Grandstand 6. He's from Camarillo, Calif.


JR Hildebrand, Sunoco Rookie of the Year points leader in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car, has competed at Long Beach in ©Toyota Atlantics, Firestone Indy Lights, the American Le Mans Series and now the IZOD IndyCar Series.

Hildebrand won in 2009 in Firestone Indy Lights and he co-drove the Genoa ALMS entry to a class podium (seventh overall in the event) in 2010.

Selected quotes from Danica Patrick's media availability

"I have a lot of fond memories of Long Beach - winning the Pro-Celebrity Race back, oh, 9 or 10 years ago, then coming here in 2008 straight from Motegi to start the whirlwind after my win there and then finishing fourth the next year. Last year wasn't so great, but I have a lot of good memories here. I think that this is a race where a lot of things can happen. That's the nature of the street course so it's important to be there to take advantage of it. I think that the emphasis for me is going to be to do the best I can to get a good qualifying effort out and be farther up the grid."

(About double-file restarts): "Those of you who follow Indy car racing are familiar with the fact that it's challenging to pass in these cars. The double file restarts have really changed that. You can pick up five spots and you can lose five spots so that's been an interesting change that I like in the series."

(About qualifying on street courses): Ultimately, when you don't qualify well, you're forced to take risks. It's best to be up the grid and that's what we're going to be working toward. The first practice session didn't go well at all. We were having a throttle issue. It was as if I was kind of keeping my foot on the throttle all the way around the track all the time so it made it rather difficult to stop the car and start the car so hopefully that will be fixed for the next practice, and we'll be able to feel the car a little bit more. When something like that is wrong it makes it a little bit difficult to feel the changes very well because you're trying to over compensate for something that is not normal. But I think that we could be good. A couple of our teammates were fast - obviously Ryan won last year and he's running well already. So, I think we have some good teammates to look to if we need some specific direction."

(About the season and how it seems to be starting off the same as last year): "I would say that this year has felt a lot better to me than last year. To be honest, this is probably the first practice session that hasn't really gone so well for me so far, but I'm much more in the top 10-15 range instead of way down. I guess I would have been apprehensive to say this a couple of years ago, but the competition is so difficult that if you can make in in the top 10 or 12, that's a good practice. So we've been much better off so far for the most part at practice, it's just that in qualifying it doesn't go well. I've had one of the fastest laps times of the race for the first two races of the year already so the pace is there in the race it's just that when you start further back and you have to take chances."

(Is Long Beach one of your best races or your favorite race? ): "I don't think I'd say that (laughing). I enjoy coming to Long Beach. It's here, it's a great atmosphere, but this is not one of my best races. It's part of the schedule and you still have to try and do well.

A great atmosphere and when you're in a good atmosphere like this with all kinds of people and excitement and buzz you always enjoy doing well. But, I struggle more on road courses than I do on ovals - although I've had almost as good of results on road courses - but you have to take chances. I've qualified on the front row a couple of times a few years ago, but it's been a while. My qualifying isn't good enough so you have to take chances in the race then.


Conor Daly will not participate in the opening Firestone Indy Lights practice session due to his travel schedule from Barcelona, where he was testing with his GP3 team. Daly drives the #77 Mazda Road to Indy car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in Firestone Indy Lights.

CONOR DALY (No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "Six weeks ago I had the option of missing the whole weekend by not even trying to make it back from Spain, or taking the gamble that the flights might not get in on time. Long Beach is such a mega INDYCAR event that even if the gamble did not pay off and I had to miss the first session, I still wanted to be part of the weekend. I will spend time with my engineer, Chris Finch, Friday afternoon and also learn as much as possible from my teammates".


IZOD IndyCar Series driver Takuma Sato and the Children Mending Hearts organization are collaborating to launch "With you Japan" -- an international fund-raising program that will empower local child-care professionals to provide responsive and proactive care to thousands of children impacted by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last month.

Speaking engagements, merchandise sales, celebrity collectible auctions, and mobile phone text donations are part of the program. Autographed driving gloves, helmets and race suits from IZOD IndyCar Series competitors will be among the items for auction at www.WithYouJapan.org.

"With you Japan" T-shirts also are available for sale at this weekend's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May and online.

"People in Japan are suffering so much, and the children are going through a terrifying situation," Sato said. "I am personally supporting a few campaigns but since I am competing in the IndyCar Series I want to do something special to support Japan from North America. This With you Japan campaign is going to do several projects and hopefully make a difference."


Tony Kanaan, Alex Tagliani and Simona de Silvestro participated in a taping of a dinner serving of "Hell's Kitchen" with Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach grand marshal and show host Gordon Ramsey. The episode will air this fall.

Overheard at Long Beach - Friday  UPDATE Our article, mentioned below, on the update of the 2012 IndyCar has been added to our Home Page.

04/15/11 Weather-wise Friday turned out to be another picture perfect day in Long Beach, California.  They seem to have a patent on perfect race weather.  Coming here for at least 15 years, I can only remember one day that it actually rained, and never on race day........A big crowd was on hand Friday taking in the sun and all the racing action.  The action is non-stop all weekend and there is a buzz in the air that you just don't feel anywhere else.......Hospitality appeared to be very healthy, definitely up from the lean years, but not yet back to the CART heydays........Spotted former driver Willy T. Ribbs making the rounds and meeting up with old friends.......Mike Conway is in the black Window World Cares car this weekend.......Spotted Simon Pagenaud talking to HPD's Eric Berkman over lunch.  Pagenaud drove the HPD Acura last year and he later told us he definitely is trying to do a full-time IndyCar deal for next year and hopes to run a few more races this year.  Right now his only conflicts are the 24 Hours of LeMans and 24 Hours of Spa races with Peugeot......Ran into Dan Clarke who is driving in NASCAR Canadian Series this year but has his eye on returning to open wheel if the sponsorship materializes.......We asked a number of drivers (Matos, Kimball, de Silvestro, and team owner Dale Coyne) what they thought about the double file restarts and everyone agree it was exciting.  The general consensus was "They are here to stay so we as drivers have to figure out how to make it work.  By the end of the year it should get better."  However, most agreed that this track, with its concrete walls, is going to be a challenge......The consensus in the paddock is they hope IndyCar moves all its races to network TV on NBC (not NBC Sports Channel) starting in 2013.  Giving NBC the Indy 500 might be incentive enough for them to do it.  The team owners have a hard time getting sponsorship with Versus TV ratings......We hear that things are looking good for this year's Brazil race on May 1st with ticket sales and hospitality sales good.....Practice 2 ended after just two laps for Paul Tracy.  Damage was mostly to the front wing but he was done for the day......One of the Corvette teams had a transmission problem early in morning practice.  The team did a full transmission change right there on pit road......Tony Cotman gave us an update on the new car and engine packages for 2012.  See my feature article a bit later on our Home page.  Mark C. reporting from Long Beach
Takuma Sato "With you Japan" Charity  
Takuma Sato
In response to the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011, and the ongoing dreadful aftermath that continues to unfold in Japan, IZOD IndyCar Series driver, Takuma Sato, and the Children Mending Hearts organization are collaborating to launch an international fund-raising program entitled, “With you Japan”.

The “With you Japan” program was created by Japanese IZOD IndyCar Series driver, Takuma Sato, who quickly recognized the tremendous amount of support that so many of the children in Japan will continue to need over the coming weeks, months and even years. These young, innocent survivors will need tremendous support as they try to cope with experiencing such traumatic events where they may have lost members of their family, friends, teachers and even their homes, and sometimes right before their eyes.

All proceeds raised through this program will be used to help empower local child-care professionals in Japan to provide responsive and proactive care to thousands of children as they try to move forward with their lives. More ...

racing news
Tanner Foust partners with Ford  Over the last few years at X Games, two things have been a constant at the top of the podium – Ford Fiesta and Tanner Foust.  And neither plans on that changing anytime soon. 

The winningest rally driver in X Games history has chosen to ensure he’ll be in a Ford for many years to come.  Tanner Foust announced a multi-year partnership with Ford Racing today to represent the ‘Blue Oval’ in the Global RallyCross Championship (GRC), European RallyCross Championship (ERC) and at X Games 17 in Los Angeles. 

Tanner Foust has carved a unique niche for himself in the world of action motor sports, showcasing the skills that have made him a three time gold medalist at X Games as well as a champion drifter and rally driver. He balances an ever expanding broadcast career that has seen him host various programs on SPEED Channel and now serve as co-host of the critically acclaimed Top Gear USA on the History Channel. More ...

Guerrieri tops Indy Lights practice  Esteban Guerrieri joked that he was first and last on the Timing & Scoring sheet for the lone Firestone Indy Lights practice session.

It was an anomaly. Guerrieri was quickest in the 60-minute session with a lap of 1 minute, 15.6670 seconds in the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car - filling the seat of teammate Conor Daly, who was traveling from Europe. It was fortuitous for the young Argentinean.

"I had a mechanical issue with the (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports) car," said Guerrieri, who has started on the front row in both of the races this season. "The driveshaft broke so I only did one lap. Unfortunately, my teammate isn't here because of his GP3 commitments, so his car was available. I had to know the track and it was useful for the team because his car needed to be shaken down." More ...

Guy Smith tops opening ALMS practice  
Guy Smith
After a practice session dominated by Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing, Guy Smith threw down the fastest lap for Dyson Racing on Friday morning in practice for the Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach. The Englishman set a time of 1:16.780 in Mazda-powered Lola that he will share with Chris Dyson in Saturday’s race.

Smith was just 0.286 seconds quicker than Lucas Luhr in the Muscle Milk Lola-Aston Martin coupe. The German, a winner here with Audi Sport in 2008, will drive with Klaus Graf.

The battle was even closer in GT, which is nothing new. Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Patrick Long set the class’ fastest lap on his final pass around the Long Beach circuit – a 1:20.264 in the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR that he will share with Joerg Bergmeister. The top four cars were within 0.816 seconds, and for a time the top nine cars were separated by less than a second. More ...

Long Beach: Power tops opening IndyCar practice  He didn't top the session until the final minutes, but as he has so many times the past two seasons, Verizon Penske driver Will Power owns the IndyCar street and road circuits and was again fastest this morning in Long Beach.

Power's time of 1m11.410s topped last year's Long Beach winner Ryan Hunter-Reay by just 0.190s.

Scott Dixon, Justin Wilson and Ryan Briscoe rounded out the top-5. 

Paul Tracy, making his return to IndyCar with Dragon Racing, was a respectable 15th.  Ana Breatriz stuffed it in the tires and finished last. More ...

Versus remains a noose around IndyCar's neck  UPDATE #3 Just when you thought it could not get any worse, it did.  Versus posted a 0.2 final U.S. rating for last Sunday's Izod IndyCar Series Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.  The 0.3 previous published was a Cable TV rating.  When the final numbers came in counting all households that have a TV, the final was a horrible 0.2.  And the Versus noose around IndyCar's neck tightens.......  In our opinion IndyCar needs to do a deal to put all races on network NBC TV starting in 2013 with Versus doing qualifying and other ancillary stuff.  With a result of 0.2 that is all they are good for.  While the league may have to pay money to NBC to begin, the investment will bring more sponsorship money into the paddock and the payback will be five-fold.  You can't grow IndyCar on the back of 0.2 ratings.

The Honda Grand Prix of Alabama drew a TV rating of 0.3 on Versus, a drop of 25% from last year's 0.4 rating on Versus. One ratings point represents 1 percent of the potential viewers, or approximately 1.1 million people.

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said prior to the race at Barber Motorsports Park that he hoped the rating would be 0.6, a 30 percent increase from the 2010.

04/10/11 A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, If you think IndyCar has a bad TV deal the ALMS has a deal that will probably kill the series. When I was at Sebring I heard everyone complaining and was wondering why.  I found out the next day when my friends on the west coast were supposed to see the one and half hour condensed version on ABC and got to watch tennis. Whoever agreed to this package is nuts. Doug Ferguson

04/10/11 Although Versus is supposed to be the TV partner with IndyCar, and their stated goal is to grow TV ratings, the Versus IndyCar website has a video talking about the next race - St. Pete.
NASCAR Texas TV Rating  UPDATE The NASCAR Sprint Cup Samsung Mobile 500 4/9 on Fox earned a 4.0 final TV Rating with 7.036M viewers tuned in.  This is down from previous years - more later.

04/11/11 The overnight TV rating for Saturday night's Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on FOX was a 3.7.  While last year was a rainout, the 3.7 is down from the 4.2 (-12%), 4.7 (-21.3%) and 5.4 (-31.5%) overnight ratings in 2009, 2008 and 2007 respectively.  The trend is worrisome for NASCAR.
Jack Clarke and Mihai Marinescu set pace at Silverstone  
Jack Clarke
British driver Jack Clarke and Romania’s Mihai Marinescu set the pace in free practice for the opening round of the 2011 FIA Formula Two Championship at Silverstone today (Friday).

Clarke, who embarks on his third F2 campaign this season after finishing ninth in 2010, led the way in the 45-minute opening session with a fastest time of 1m51.629s around the 3.67-mile Arena circuit, which is home to the British Grand Prix.

Spain’s Ramon Pineiro finished free practice one in second position, with Italy’s Mirko Bortolotti – who returns to F2 in 2011 after a season in GP3 – in third position. More ...

Daly has most productive GP3 test - will miss opening practice at Long Beach  MAZDASPEED driver, Conor Daly had his most productive GP3 test this week in Barcelona, Spain. He ended up as the fastest team Carlin car with a 1:39:445, leaving him P13 for the session, 0.8 from the fastest time. Having been fastest in the wet session in Silverstone, England two weeks ago, this was the best dry session of the pre season testing so far. In addition to understanding the car at a higher level, Daly has had to alter his driving style considerable to start to unlock the cars true potential. In Barcelona, he also did his first full race distance test. He is the first to admit though that there is a lot to learn.

"There is so much to learn, the circuits, how to bring the tires up to temperature, how to achieve a qualifying set up and then the changes needed for a race set up and all of the learning has to be done in very short runs in order to manage tire wear", said Daly. "It's been difficult at times, difficult to wrap my head around so many moving parts and parameters  but I'm glad I'm here and I'm glad I'm going through this learning period". Daly's first two races will be in Turkey, May 7th - 8th. More ...

LBGP Notebook: Race, venue remain favorites with drivers  When the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach comes around, there is never a shortage of drivers who talk about how special it is to compete in it. Count Vitor Meira of Brazil is among them.

"There's a lot of tradition there; it's a very famous course because of the drivers who've raced there," said Meira, who toils in IndyCar for A.J. Foyt Racing. "It gets great crowds and it's always a fun weekend because of the general atmosphere.

"Last year it was one of the best street races we had aside from Brazil."

Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won at Long Beach last year, gave even higher praise. More ...

New approach helps Mercedes team  Michael Schumacher says that Mercedes GP are working in a modified way in China this weekend, having suffered a disappointing start to the season in Australia and Malaysia. In Shanghai’s second practice session, the German finished fifth as fellow countryman and teammate Nico Rosberg went one place better.

“We have changed our working approach this weekend and I think this has paid off,” said the seven-time World Champion. “We concentrated mainly on high fuel loads and it seems we can find the setup better than starting from low fuel. More ...

Indianapolis 500 chaplain accused of sexual abuse  A sexual abuse lawsuit has been filed against a priest who serves as chaplain for the Indianapolis 500.

Fr. Philip Derea officiated at the wedding of Ashley Judd and Dario Franchitti and was the ABC News "Person of the Week" in 1996. His alleged victim, who is now an adult in his 40s, claims the priest molested him repeatedly over several years beginning when he was 9 years old.

Derea has been called the "Race Track Reverend" for his association with the Indianapolis 500 and the Indy Racing League Ministry. He has served as a priest for more than 40 years and is allegedly a member in good standing of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. More ...

Chinese GP: Friday Press Conference  
James Key
Aldo COSTA (Ferrari)
James KEY (Sauber)
Paddy LOWE (McLaren)
Naoki TAKUNAGA (Renault)


Q: A question to you all. Can you give us some idea as to how things went today for you. James, could you start?

James KEY: It was okay today. For us it was a normal program of running tires, set-up work and so on. We had some test items in the morning. FP1 was a bit slippery to be honest, so there is not too much you can read into the first session, but we got some useful data. It was a normal program and it seems to be alright. It was a bit like Malaysia for us, as we have got a bit of work to do overnight with the balance of the car, in sector one particularly, but otherwise it all went okay. More ...

Pirelli predicts two-stop race  Pirelli is predicting a two-stop race and fewer marbles at this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix.

The Malaysian Grand Prix one week ago resulted in a mix of two-, three-, and four-stop strategies as the tires degraded quickly in the hot temperatures. However, Pirelli is expecting strategies to mirror those at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix this weekend.

"We've been very encouraged by our first day of running in China, which like nearly every one of the circuits this year is entirely new to us," said Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery. "Although today has been warm, degradation is a lot less than we saw in Malaysia, so I'm expecting to have two pit stops per car on race day, similar to Australia." More ...

Heidfeld admits to mistakes  
Nick Heidfeld
Nick Heidfeld admitted he simply made driving mistakes after crashing twice during Friday practice in China.

The Renault driver damaged his front wing after going off track at Turn 10 during first practice, and then again after skidding off at Turn 13 in the second session.

The German admitted he was just trying too hard.

"It was a driving mistake. I went off twice and that can happen - I just went over the limit," said Heidfeld.

"I was in a very good mood until I crashed into the tire. I have been around for a while but I cannot remember crashing twice in one day, so that was not a good start."

He added: "It was just my mistake. These things unfortunately can happen, I think a lot of other people also went off a bit and had spins. Unfortunately I destroyed two wings, it shows it isn't easy today but it is not meant to be an excuse. I just f***** up!"

Track news
STP Nationwide sponsor for June 4 Chicagoland Speedway event  Chicagoland Speedway has announced that STP has signed on to be the title sponsor of the June 4th NASCAR Nationwide Series Race at Chicagoland Speedway.  Danica Patrick and Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne are scheduled to participate.
Shipping new car for Perez cost Sauber EUR 30,000  (GMM)  In freight costs alone, Sauber spent EUR 30,000 to send a new chassis to China for Sergio Perez. The move followed the destruction of the Mexican rookie's car in Malaysia, when an unidentified piece of heavy debris punched a hole in the Ferrari powered C30.

It was initially believed that a loose piece of ballast from a Toro Rosso caused the damage.

But the Italian team denied the charge, moving Charlie Whiting to write a letter to all the teams asking them if a piece of their car was missing after the Sepang event.

"Until now he has received no answer," said Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

Said Sauber team manager Beat Zehnder: "It could have been a drain cover."

Newey annoyed as Red Bull 'flexi' saga rolls on  (GMM)  Red Bull's rivals are playing games when their complain about flexible front wings, according to RB7 designer Adrian Newey.

The Briton told Germany's Auto Bild that it is the entire chassis concept of the dominant 2011 car that leads to the front wing being perceived as running unfairly lower than the opposition.

"It is not an issue about the front wing being bent or not," said Newey.  "The secret is how the car is designed overall.

"There is the impression that the wing is closer to the ground than for example the McLaren, which has been designed with the opposite principle -- higher at the front and lower at the back," he added. More ...

Eurosport to broadcast Le Mans 24 Hours until 2013  Eurosport will broadcast every minute of the mythical 24-Hour race LIVE across channels Eurosport, Eurosport 2 and Eurosport Asia-Pacific.

Round-the-clock LIVE streaming of the race will also be available in Europe on the Eurosport Player web TV service and mobile application.

For the second consecutive year, Eurosport's unbeatable coverage starts before the race with "Le Mans 24 Minutes" show each evening at 19:30 CET from Monday 6 June to Saturday 11 June 2011.

This exclusive show is produced LIVE from Eurosport's on-site studio and will be the perfect build-up to the week-end's climax. Top consultants will bring fans in-depth interviews, analysis and all the latest news direct from Eurosport's on-site teams. "Le Mans 24 Minutes" will continue throughout the race weekend with additional broadcasts immediately before and after the event. More ...

Four winners, 42 entries in 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 field  Four past winners and four IZOD IndyCar Series champions are among the drivers named to the 42 entries filed for the 2011 Indianapolis 500, scheduled for Sunday, May 29 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Eighty-three cars comprise the 42 entries, the most entries since 2002. It's the third consecutive year with at least 40 entries on the list. It's also the eighth consecutive year in which the number of entries has climbed or held steady.

Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti (2007, 2010) leads the list of past winners, which also includes Helio Castroneves (2001-02, 2009), Scott Dixon (2008) and Dan Wheldon (2005). Franchitti will attempt to become just the 10th driver to earn at least three Indianapolis 500 victories, while Castroneves is trying to become just the fourth four-time winner in the illustrious history of the race, joining A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears. More ...

Hunter-Reay Joins LIVESTRONG® as Global Envoy for the Fight Against Cancer  
IndyCar driver Ryan Hunter-Reay joins LIVESTRONG as a Global Envoy in the fight against cancer.
IndyCar driver Ryan Hunter-Reay joins LIVESTRONG as a Global Envoy in the fight against cancer
LIVESTRONG® is pleased to announce the addition of IndyCar driver Ryan Hunter-Reay to the foundation's Global Envoy program. As a LIVESTRONG Global Envoy, Hunter-Reay serves as a committed cancer advocate who connects with constituents and demonstrates extraordinary leadership in the global fight against cancer. Hunter-Reay gives a voice to the diagnosed who suffer in silence. He takes a stand against cultural stigma attached to cancer and helps to spur grassroots mobilization.

"It is such an amazing honor to be selected as a Global Envoy for LIVESTRONG," said Hunter-Reay. "My mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in 2008 and the horrifying fight she waged made a huge impact on my life in so many ways. I was there with her every moment I wasn't on the race track and the LIVESTRONG organization and cancer survivors were a constant guiding light, which gave us comfort in our darkest hours." More ...

Burton expects more teams to communicate at Talladega  UPDATE The radio inside the four-time Sprint Cup champion's #24 Chevy can accommodate 16 team channels in Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. But Gordon says it's been programmed only for Hendrick Motorsports teammates #48Jimmie Johnson, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and #5-Mark Martin and the Stewart-Haas Racing Chevys of #14-Tony Stewart and #39-Ryan Newman (whose chassis and engines are supplied by Hendrick).

A prevalence of two-car trains made for strange bedfellows at the Daytona 500 as many rival NASCAR teams shared radio transmissions with one spotter calling the action for two drivers drafting nose to tail. It's expected many will employ the same strategy at Talladega. "We had people coming to us last week wanting our radio approval, and we're like, 'No,'" Gordon said Thursday. "We're not ready to do that. Having somebody be able to get on your channel is more complicated than some people are making it out to be. I'm not for that. We want to stay in control of what's said and be able to talk to the crew chief. I have one of the best spotters, so I want my spotter to be leading the way as much as possible. So we're very hesitant when it comes to that." USA Today More ...
Expect 197-198 mph speeds at Talladega  The day of the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway in February was one of anxiety for NASCAR officials. They watched as Sprint Cup drivers, hooked up in the new Daytona version of the two-car draft, shot speeds into a relative stratosphere, spinning gauges to 206 miles per hour. That was very fast. That also was not acceptable. So NASCAR stepped into its occasional role as speed police, eventually changing the engine restrictor plate that helps control speeds at Daytona and Talladega and toying with the cooling systems that teams use to feed air to the engine compartment, with the aim of occasionally disrupting the two-car tandems. The plan worked, and a modification of it will be in use this weekend during practice and qualifying for the Aaron's 499 and the race itself at Talladega Superspeedway. After Daytona Speedweeks, NASCAR dropped the size of the restrictor plate by 1/64 of an inch to 7/8 for this weekend. A minor impact on speed is expected. John Darby, Sprint Cup Series director, said he expects speeds this weekend to be in the 197-198 mph neighborhood "with an occasional lap at 200 to 201." SPEED
Webber wants KERS sorted  Mark Webber wants Red Bull Racing to fix its KERS problems, with the championship-leading squad having encountered more issues with the power-boosting system in Shanghai on Friday. In Malaysia last Sunday, the Australian lost a large amount of ground due to failure of the device off the start line.

“I didn’t have the best P2, particularly on the short run with the new tires, which is why my time is down a little, but the long run on the Option (Soft compound) tire was good,” Webber explained in China.

“We’ll look at KERS tonight – we’d like to run it this weekend of course. Generally it was a good Friday - we learned a lot and the car was reliable.”

Double File restarts to remain at Long Beach  Izod IndyCar Series drivers are concerned the number of full-course cautions has nearly doubled this season, but the new double-file restart policy will remain in effect for Sunday's race in Long Beach, Calif.

The hot spot in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be the nearly 90-degree first corner, a left-hander the drivers say will almost certainly cause calamity.

IndyCar chief steward Brian Barnhart shares that concern, but said the outcome of that corner and Long Beach's other 10 will be in the hands of the drivers.

"Double-file restarts are going to remain," he said. More ...

Chinese GP: Vettel tops 2nd practice too  
Sebastian Vettel
After topping practice 1 times Sebastian Vettel went fastest again in the second practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix.  But this time instead of his Red Bull teammate being 2nd, he was followed closely by the McLarens of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton less than three tenths behind the world champion.

Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher showed improvement over the first two races in the Mercedes, winding up fourth and fifth - less than half a second off the pace.

Felipe Massa was again the fastest Ferrari driver with the sixth quickest time. More ...

Chinese GP: Vettel tops 1st practice  Sebastian Vettel turned the fastest lap in the opening practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix.  The defending world champion and current championship leader had a fast lap of 1m38.739s.

Red Bull teammate Mark Webber was second over half a second behind Vettel.

The McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were third and fourth, but out to lunch two seconds behind Vettel. More ...

Q and A with Barrichello and Maldonado  
Despite a frustrating start to the year in Australia and Malaysia, Rubens remains bullish about his chances in this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. This is what he had to say prior to the start of the on-track action in Shanghai.

What are your hopes for the weekend ahead?
RB: To have a clean weekend without any problems. I also think we can be competitive because we have some new parts to try here. If we can get them to work as we hope, and be reliable, I think a top six position in qualifying is possible. Even if we have to revert to the old layout, we’ll be looking at top 12 because the FW33 is a good car. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief - Friday  
  • Lewis Hamilton may not stay at McLaren forever
    Staying with one team for ever not attractive - Hamilton
  • India GP race cockpit for Chandhok possible - Fernandes
  • Haug rules out losing Rosberg or Schumacher
  • 'Artificial' F1 must change to keep Ferrari - Montezemolo
  • Ferrari 'will have' flexible wing - Costa
  • Alguersuari unclear on Red Bull's driver plans
  • Alonso cautious amid Chinese doping threat
  • Newey not copying innovative Renault exhaust
  • F1 much less physical than past - Heidfeld
  • Shanghai 'is Red Bull-country' - Glock More ...
Nationwide speeds approach 200mph  Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer paced the field during the final NASCAR Nationwide Series practice Thursday at Talladega Superspeedway. The session saw average speeds approach 200 mph.

Harvick and Bowyer -- the winners of the last two Cup races at Talladega -- locked up together in a two-car tandem and reached 198.044 mph to post the fastest time in either session. Joey Logano and Kyle Busch weren't far behind at 196.875 and 196.863 mph respectively. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and drafting partner Aric Almirola were well back at 17th and 18th nearly 6 mph slower than Harvick and Bowyer.

It's not just Cup cars that will be paired off in two-car tandems. The Nationwide race on Saturday should see plenty of that as well. Some teams were even practicing pushing off center of the rear bumper in order to get some air on the nose of the pushing car. That would allow a tandem to push longer without having to switch places because the car doing the pushing wouldn't overheat.
Shanghai weather should be OK  No significant showers are expected to affect proceedings for the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend. Since debuting on the calendar in 2004, three of Shanghai’s seven Formula 1 races have been affected by rain.

After conditions remained favorable as the first media gatherings were staged on Thursday, a clear night greeted the community which headed back to hotels. Although light rain could fall on Friday, the weekend is forecast to stay dry if not somewhat overcast. Temperatures will range between lows of 6 and highs of 21°C (43-79°F).

Shanghai’s wettest event to date remains 2009, with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber having celebrated Red Bull’s first Grand Prix victory and a 1-2 result.
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