Old Spice leaving Stewart Hass next season Two-time Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart is searching for a new sponsor for the 2011 season. Old Spice, a brand of Procter & Gamble which serves as primary sponsor of Stewart's #14 Chevy in 14 races this season, confirmed Sunday it has decided not to renew its sponsorship. "Based solely on a change in our marketing strategies, the Old Spice contract with Tony Stewart and Stewart-Haas Racing will expire at the end of 2010 and will not be renewed," Mike Norton, Old Spice Brand spokesman, said in a statement. Office Depot will continue as a co-primary sponsor of the #14 next season and SHR spokesman Mike Arning said the organization has already started a search for a new sponsor. Charlotte Observer
Lauda predicts Monaco victory for Red Bull (GMM) Niki Lauda thinks Red Bull are on course for another victory in Monaco.
With on-track action always kicking off a day earlier in Monaco, the back-to-back scheduling with Spain means that - volcanic ash disruptions or no - the F1 circus must now embark on a quick dash to the Riviera.
After starting from pole position, Red Bull's Webber comfortably dominated the race in Barcelona, but the Circuit de Catalunya is famous for particularly rewarding the best cars aerodynamically.
On slower tracks like Monaco, the RB6's predecessor was not a star.
But Lauda told Motorsport-Magazin.com: "If Red Bull were six tenths faster here, it will be the same picture in Monaco but maybe three or four tenths.
Mercedes 'nowhere' despite Spain updates - Rosberg (GMM) Nico Rosberg thinks Mercedes has made a backwards step with its updated car.
Although his teammate Michael Schumacher was faster than Rosberg all weekend in Spain, the seven time world champion was still a minute behind the winner at the checkered flag -- as he had been in China three weeks ago.
Rosberg, meanwhile, was a lap down, despite finishing twice on the podium in the first four races of 2010.
Bristol race again not sold out For the first time in nearly 20 years, Bristol Motor Speedway is selling single-event tickets to its night Cup race in August. The tickets cost $109 each and are renewable.
Packages for three days of racing there, which includes the Cup, Nationwide, Camping World Truck and Whelen Modified races, remain for sale for $170, along with two-day weekend packages for the Cup and Nationwide races at $126.
Alexander Rossi - as we have told you many times on these pages, Rossi has the best shot at becoming America's next F1 world champ someday. He is blazingly fast and just needs more experience. Looks for him in GP2 next year
Alexander Rossi was in a class of his own this morning finishing 10.53 seconds ahead of his nearest rival to clinch his first GP3 Series victory in Barcelona, Spain.
The American driver kept his head and made the perfect start from pole position disappearing into the distance and leading home Lucas Foresti and teammate Esteban Gutierrez.
Having qualified a lowly 28th on Saturday Rossi had powered his way through the field in Race 1 finishing in the coveted eighth spot to start on pole for today’s race. When Michael Christensen missed his grid spot it meant a second formation lap for Race 2, leaving Rossi with another long wait whilst the 30-strong field lined up behind him, but the American kept his cool and his race was won from the start.
Fabio Leimer (SUI, Ocean Racing Technology, Center) celebrates his victory on the podium with Luiz Razia (BRA, Rapax) and Pastor Maldonado (VEN, Rapax)
Fabio Leimer has stormed to victory in today’s sprint race in Barcelona in a lights to flag display which saw him easily control the pace throughout the event: the Swiss driver was never headed from pole position to finish ahead of Luiz Razia and Pastor Maldonado.
The race was delayed after Sergio Perez suffered a terminal engine problem on the warm up lap so that the marshals could clean up the oil left behind, but Leimer was unfazed by the delay: when the lights went out he got away cleanly and was never challenged into the first corner.
An incredible lap from Fernando Alonso in Q3 saw Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro get one car onto the second row of the grid for the Spanish Grand Prix. Team mate Felipe Massa, who struggled with grip levels, will start tomorrow's race from 9th place.
Fernando Alonso was fourth fastest, while Felipe Massa ended up ninth at the end of the third and final part of qualifying. “First and foremost I want to congratulate Fernando,” said Stefano Domenicali. “He drove a really fantastic lap, getting every last thousandth of a second of performance out of the package he had today. Felipe never managed to find the right feeling for the car this weekend and today he did the best he could: we have to analyze the reasons that led to this situation. On this track, so far one team has been untouchable, while the other top three teams are all very close. We will see if this will still be the case in tomorrow’s race, especially in terms of tire performance. Points are handed out on Sunday and before jumping to conclusions, it’s best to wait for the checkered flag.”
Sebastien Bourdais gave Peugeot pole position for the Spa 1000km with a stunning lap of 1m57.884s to fend of a seemingly growing threat from Audi this weekend.
The Frenchman put the #3 908 HDi FAP to the top of the times halfway through the 20-minute session. Timo Bernhard qualified second for the 1000 km of Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) with a time of 1m 58.519s (212.746 km/h).
On the 7.004-km track, the German was just 0.635 seconds slower than pole setter Sébastien Bourdais in the Peugeot 908. Audi Sport Team Joest had expected a bigger gap because, in contrast to the competition, all three Audi R15 TDI prototypes are running in full Le Mans spec - and thus with much less down force than usual at Spa-Francorchamps.
ALMS to salute Corvettes Legends of LeMans This year's 24 Hours of Le Mans will mark the 50th anniversary of Corvette's first participation in the world's most prestigious sports car race. Chevrolet will celebrate this motorsports milestone with a salute to the Corvette Legends of Le Mans at the American Le Mans Series Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on May 21-22.
The spotlight will shine on Corvette's racing heritage with a special display of historic Corvettes that raced at Le Mans and appearances by legendary Corvette drivers. Corvette Racing fans will be able to give the American Le Mans Series' most successful team a grand send-off before the twin Compuware Corvette C6.R race cars begin their transatlantic journey to France, where they'll compete in the world's biggest sports car race on June 12-13.
Ferrari fined $20,000 for Alonso-Rosberg near-missUPDATE #2 Nico Rosberg has applauded the stewards at the Spanish GP for punishing Ferrari following a pit-lane incident he felt was fortunate not to cause injury.
As Fernando Alonso exited the Ferrari garage to set off on his first hot lap in the final 10-minute qualifying session, he almost ran into Rosberg who was heading down the pit lane in his Mercedes.
The German was forced to brake sharply to avoid colliding with the Spaniard, following which he issued an immediate retort over the team radio as he snapped: "Alonso should get a penalty for that."
After swiftly reviewing the matter, the four stewards deemed the maneuver an unsafe release from the pits, and in accordance with the regulations, fined Ferrari US dollars 20,000 (£13,500).
Explaining the issue, Rosberg said: "There were some photographers standing there, who I've just spoken to now.
"For them, if we had collided - and it was very possible to collide in that situation - parts could have started flying and it would have been very dangerous for them.
"So it's a serious thing and I think it's correct they (Ferrari) got a fine.
"They really need to try and do better next time. That was not good."
Charles Pic has claimed victory in his first GP2 race in Barcelona, keeping his head and driving a strong, sensible race as his rivals dropped away to lead home Giacomo Ricci and Dani Clos in today’s season opener.
The Frenchman’s race was set up at the start when polesitter Jules Bianchi and teammate Sam Bird struggled to get off the line as the lights went out. Sergio Perez tore away from the front row with Christian Vietoris pushing for a line inside the Mexican at the first turn: the pair came together out of the corner with the German spinning backwards into Bianchi, putting them both out on the spot and forcing Bird over the high curbs to avoid the melee.
Alonso denies 'no hands' F-duct claims (GMM) Fernando Alonso on Saturday denied he has been driving around the Circuit de Catalunya with no hands.
Earlier, Ferrari technical boss Aldo Costa played down suggestions the team's F-duct solution is dangerous.
Unlike McLaren's system which is believed to be activated by the drivers' knees, it became clear in Barcelona that Alonso and his teammate Felipe Massa are triggering the airflow on the straights with their left hand.
Often at the same time, the drivers are then using their right hand to make adjustments to the brake balance.
Volcanic ash cloud to again affect F1 world (GMM) The chaos caused by an erupting volcano in Iceland has followed the world of formula one from China to Spain.
After the sport's personnel suffered travel nightmares as European airports were closed three weeks ago, it is now being reported that flights across Spain have been grounded due to the returning ash cloud.
The latest reports say 19 Spanish airports - including Barcelona - have been closed on Saturday.
European air control officials now expect more flights across the continent to be cancelled, with the Monaco grand prix to be held in just one week.
The good news for F1 is that Barcelona and Monaco are separated by just 700 kilometers of road.
(GMM) Red Bull looks set to dominate Sunday's Spanish grand prix. Locking out the front row of the grid, the RB6s driven by pole sitter Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were approaching a full second quicker than their closest rival on Saturday afternoon.
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, the fastest non-Red Bull runner, was more than eight tenths slower than Australian Webber.
"I don't think anyone expected them to be so fast," he told the BBC.
Local hero Fernando Alonso shares the second row of the grid with Hamilton, mere hundredths ahead of championship leader Button.
With Indianapolis native Conor Daly leading the way, drivers from six countries took to the track for two days of intensive testing at O'Reilly Raceway Park. After eight 45-minute on-track sessions, a total of six hours, Daly's lap of 20.187 sec. (122.336 mph) around the .686-mile oval asphalt oval in his #22 Juncos Racing / INDECK / The College Network / Merchant Services Ltd. / Tom Lange Co. Mazda put him among the open-wheel elite who have made their mark at this historic track.
The outright open-wheel lap record of 20.016 sec. (123.381 mph) was set by Jason McCord in an 800-horsepower USAC Sprint Car in 2001. Jason Leffler set the lap record of 20.298 sec. (121.667 mph) in his 700-horsepower Silver Crown car in 2001 and the lap record for the 350 horsepower USAC midgets was set in 1997 by Chris Schultz at 20.373 mph (121.219 mph). The Star Mazda race car weighs 1,335 pounds with fuel and driver and the Mazda 'Renesis' rotary engine produces 250 horsepower.
Ford looking for new racing engineer Ford Racing is searching for a new manager of North American Racing Operations. Doug Hervey, who has been in the post since April 1997, will move on to the product development end of the Ford Motor Company. He will be under Brian Wolfe, former director of North American Motorsports. Hervey directed the engineering of all of Ford's North American Racing initiatives with an emphasis on NASCAR and NHRA. He also oversaw Grand-AM and USAC. Ford Racing has been winless in NASCAR's Cup Series since Jamie McMurray took the checkers at Talladega on Nov. 1, 2009. Its last Nationwide Series win came when Carl Edwards was victorious at Phoenix two weeks later. Ford pulled its manufacturing support from the Camping World Truck Series two years ago but still offers technical and contingency support. Fox Sports
Portimao dropped from 2010 GP2 Series calendar GP2 organizers have announced today that the Series will not return to Portugal this season. The Portuguese venue was initially scheduled to host this season’s fourth round in June, and following this announcement it has been decided that Portimao’s event will not be replaced. The 2010 season will now consist of ten rounds, from Barcelona this weekend to Abu Dhabi on November 13-14.
GP2 Series organizer Bruno Michel explained: “We are disappointed to have to cancel Portimao this season, but the track organizers have not met their contractual obligations, and therefore, we cannot go back to Portugal this year. It is a shame because I believe that GP2 produced some great race action on that track last September, and we would have loved to have Portimao on our calendar again this season.
“We will see whether we can return there in 2011. Meanwhile, we will not replace this round in 2010, and therefore will now have twenty races on our calendar.”
Earnhardt Jr. wrecks in practice Darlington Raceway wasn't too tough for Dale Earnhardt to tame. "The Intimidator" scored nine victories (more than any track but Talladega) here, marking the egg-shaped oval as one of the highlights on the seven-time champion's Sprint Cup resume.
The 1.366-mile track might have a career-defining moment in store for Dale Earnhardt Jr., too — but not in a feel-good, "like father, like son" way. AR1.com has said many times that Dale Jr. is no where near as good as his father, yet his NASCAR's most popular driver, which is a sad commentary for NASCAR - that it's best drivers are not the most popular like most sports.
A busy weekend for Spanish stewards (GMM) It has been a busy weekend so far for the F1 stewards, featuring in Spain the former grand prix driver Derek Warwick.
They have issued five-place penalties to both Virgin drivers due to failing to notify them about the VR-01 cars' gear ratios.
Renault's Vitaly Petrov will also start five places down in Barcelona after damaging his gearbox in his morning practice crash. HRT's Karun Chandhok suffers the same penalty, also for an unscheduled gearbox change.
Nigel Melker takes first ever GP3 Series pole The early morning start meant a low track temperature of just 14 degrees on a drying track for the first ever GP3 qualifying session in Barcelona, making the conditions tricky for the 30 young drivers. It was an extremely closely fought battle to take the first ever GP3 Series pole position, with positions constantly changing during the final few minutes. Almost half of the field were potential pole sitters and it was impossible to predict who would find the extra few hundredths needed to claim the coveted top stop.
RSC Mucke Motorsport continued their strong weekend and Nigel Melker crossed the line seconds later posting a time of 1:52.602 and holding on to the top spot despite last ditch attempts from the remainder of the field. Pal Varhaug then put in an extremely impressive performance for Jenzer Motorsport, the young Norwegian improving lap after lap in the dying moments, his last lap time of 1:52.931 enough to knock Wickens down into third. Daniel Morad finished the thrilling session in fourth with a time of 1:53.311, followed by James Jakes for Manor in fifth spot with a time of 1:53.440. Dean Smith flied up the time sheet on new rubber, ending in sixth spot for Carlin, and in a surprise seventh spot for ART was one of the pole favorites Estenban Gutierrez.
Ferrari insists F-duct not dangerous (GMM) Ferrari technical boss Aldo Costa has played down suggestions the team's F-duct solution is dangerous.
It is believed the cars driven by both Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa are still fitted with the downforce-spoiling innovation on Saturday following Friday's practice tests.
But unlike McLaren's system which is believed to be activated by the drivers' knees, the rumor in Barcelona is that Alonso and Massa - like the Sauber drivers - are triggering the airflow on the straights with their left hand.
Often at the same time, the drivers are using their right hand to then make adjustments to the brake balance.
"As you know, drivers are trained to use several systems in the car," said Costa. "They normally use the front flap adjuster, they normally use brake balance.
"Last year they used the KERS system, so they can also use the F-duct with no big issues," he insisted.
Latest on Hamlin's Knee From Denny Hamlin's driver diary at USA Today: "Knee surgery was more than a month ago, but I still am going to rehabilitation almost every day if I'm in town. It's going well, but the recovery is so slow is what's frustrating. It's not like anything else. You can break a bone or sprain something, and it can get better in a couple of weeks. This is a long, long process of putting in a whole bunch of work, and I wish the results were faster. The rehab mostly involves squats and stuff to try to get the quad and calves strong again. They get very weak being laid up, and they don't fire as well anymore, which in turn gives you more knee pain. So I'm doing the normal leg exercises that anyone would do to build muscle. It's better every week, for sure, but not 50% better, it's 10% or 5% better. It's about a six-month recovery, and we're a month into it. The doctors have said we're ahead of schedule. I still can't run, and that's the biggest limiting factor. I can't get the cardio exercise as I'd like, so that part also is a bear to deal with. I can get to where I'm on the elliptical machine now and can make some rotations. Within a week, I figure I'll be back to some sort of cardio, but nothing sports-related. The biggest thing I hear from people who do this in sports all the time is part of the depression that athletes face is not being able to go to the gym and do things as they did before. We live in the gym and live to play sports and do stuff like this. Being told to sit on the couch to recover is tough to deal with." USA Today
Denny Hamlin picked up his first NASCAR Nationwide Series pole of the season on Friday as he beat teammate Kyle Busch for the top qualifying spot for Friday night’s Royal Purple 200 at Darlington Raceway.
Hamlin’s top speed of 16.031 mph was enough for his 14th career Nationwide Series pole, and in doing so denied Busch his chance for two in a row.
Busch (175.754 mph) will roll off second in his sixth top-five start in nine races this season. Brad Keselowski (175.322 mph), Jamie McMurray (174.767 mph) and Carl Edwards (174.556 mph) rounded out the top five.
Richmond TV RatingUPDATE The final TV rating for last weekend's Richmond NASCAR Sprint Cup race on FOX was a 3.7, down 7.5% from last year's 4.0 final rating.
NASCAR Sprint Cup telecasts on Fox are averaging a 5.1 Nielsen rating and 8.402 million viewers for eight telecasts to date. That average does not include two Sunday races which were rained out and run on the following Monday. Compared to the same time period last year (10 races), Fox is down 3.7% in ratings and 5.9% in viewership. Two races to date -- Phoenix on April 10 and Talladega on April 25 -- have seen ratings increases from '09. Last weekend's Crown Royal presents the Heath Calhoun 400 marks the lowest-rated and least-viewed spring Richmond telecast since the race moved to Fox from FX in '07. Saturday's telecast is also tied with the April 10 Phoenix telecast as the second lowest-rated NASCAR race ever on Fox, ahead of only last year's Subway Fresh Fit 500, which drew a 3.6 rating. The six lowest-rated NASCAR Sprint Cup telecasts on Fox have been during the last two seasons. THE DAILY
05/03/10 NASCAR ON FOX earned a 3.4/7 on Saturday night for racing from Richmond International Raceway. The 3.4/7 for the short-track race was down -8% compared to last year's 3.7/7. With the green flag coming a half-hour earlier this year, initial tune-in for the race was off slightly. Despite the overall decline, FOX's race earned a 3.5/7 in Primetime. That gave FOX a narrow win for the night in the metered markets over second-place CBS's 3.4/6, but that slim margin is set to expand when national ratings are tabulated and NASCAR gets its usual small-market bump. For the season-to-date NASCAR On FOX is now averaging a 4.6/10 in the overnights, down -2% compared to 2009's 4.7/10
GP3 - RSC Mucke Motorsport dominate free practice The GP3 Series was officially underway in Barcelona this afternoon with the first 30 minute practice session of the 2010 inaugural season.
Dutch driver Renger van der Zande put his early stamp on the Series by dominating almost from beginning to end in today’s opening free practice session at Circuit de Catalunya. The RSC Mucke Motorsport driver posted a time of 1:38.664 and finished just ahead of team mate Nigel Melker, an impressive showing from the Ralf Schumacher led race team. It certainly wasn’t plain sailing for the Dutch driver. With Gutierrez hot on his heels and just six minutes remaining, van der Zande was shown a black and orange flag for a broken mirror he picked up earlier in the session. But, despite a last-gasp effort from Gutierrez, the Mexican was unable to match the flying Dutchman and had to settle for third.
With fresh rubber on his Status GP car Robert Wickens moved towards the top of the time sheets and finished the session in fourth spot posting a time of 1:38.974. Four tenths of a second behind Wickens was Manor Racing driver James Jakes, followed by his teammate and GP3 newcomer Adrian Quaife-Hobbs. Despite ending his session prematurely deep in the gravel after just five laps, Addax Team driver Mirko Bortolotti managed to finish the session in seventh spot. Eighth was the Italian’s teammate Pedro Sanchez Lopez. ART’s Alexander Rossi had an afternoon to forget, ending his session out on track and ninth in the final timings. Rounding out the top ten was Dean Smith for Carlin.
MW Arden’s top driver was Michael Christensen in eleventh just ahead of the newly signed Addax Team driver Felipe Guimaraes. Simon Trummer recovered from an early bump in the pits with his teammate to bring his GP3 car home in thirteenth. Atech CRS GP driver Oakes only took part in session briefly after mechanical issues meant he failed to finish the first lap.
The GP3 action continues bright and early tomorrow morning for Qualifying at 08:45 local time.
Adrian Newey - the best F1 designer. Wherever he goes, the team becomes dominant. And to think he was once in CART as race engineer for Mario Andretti (1986).
(GMM) Red Bull looks unbeatable in Spain. Although the McLarens were quickest in the morning, both RB6s were able to speed up to the tune of a full second per lap when the final 90-minute practice session was held in the afternoon.
Mercedes' Michael Schumacher came closest to the Red Bulls in that session at the cool Circuit de Catalunya, but still lagging Sebastian Vettel's pace by a whopping eight tenths.
"It does seems that maybe one team is to be very, very quick at the moment," said McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, fifth.
His teammate Jenson Button agreed: "It's horrible to say it, but I think Red Bull are untouchable this weekend."
Mark Webber, two tenths slower than Vettel in the afternoon but still much quicker than anyone else, told reporters he thinks McLaren "probably weren't showing everything today".
But Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who like Schumacher was right on the non-Red Bull pace on Friday, disagreed.
"Red Bull were very, very quick in second practice and it will be very difficult for all of us to arrive to those times," the Spaniard said.
3 more teams withdrawal from LeMans classic The ASA ACO des 24 Heures du Mans has received three official withdrawals since Thursday 6th May. Belgian team Anthony Kumpen’s Pekaracing, which was to enter a Corvette C6.R in LM GT1 officialized its withdrawal on Thursday evening. On Friday morning, two more withdrawals were confirmed by Sora Racing and Pescarolo Sport, each of which was to enter a prototype Pescarolo-Judd in the LM P1 category.
The following are thus invited to attend scrutineering for the 78th Le Mans 24 Hours (6-7 June 2010), and have been included on the official list of entries for the event.
The AF Corse Team’s Ferrari F430 GT, first on the LM GT reserve list
The KSM Team’s Lola-Judd, LM P reserve car
The Matech Competition Ford GT, second on the LM GT reserve list.
The no. 95 Ferrari F430 GTC, AF Corse’s second entry, will be driven among others by Giancarlo Fisichella, the first nominated driver. Thus, there will be 2 AF Corse Ferrari F430 GTCs at the start (nos 95 and 96). They will battle for victory in the LM GT2 category, which has attracted an exceptional field. This category, which links prestigious makes and major manufacturers, has attracted another heavyweight, as the second AF Corse Ferrari joins the other Italian manufacturer’s representatives, the Risi Competizione, and Hankook-Team Farnbacher squads.
(GMM) Ferrari has in fact not decided whether to keep using its new full F-duct system for the remainder of the Spanish grand prix weekend.
It has been reported that, after a shakedown at Vairano in Giancarlo Fisichella's hands and tests on the race cars at Barcelona on Friday, the downforce-spoiling system will stay on the F10 for qualifying and the race in Spain.
But Fernando Alonso, quicker than Massa throughout Friday and fourth fastest in the afternoon session, said a final decision will only be taken "this evening".
"The system worked well but obviously, despite the fact we have tested it on various occasions, we still lack a bit of experience before we can get the best out of it," he added.
(GMM) Michael Schumacher on Friday confirmed he is now feeling more comfortable at the wheel of his 2010 Mercedes.
Earlier at the Circuit de Catalunya, his younger brother Ralf remarked that "everything for Michael looks a whole lot better" as he outpaced the sister car driven by Nico Rosberg in both 90-minute sessions.
"Here I'm feeling comfortable with the car, it does do what I'm asking it to do," said the German, after driving the revised W01 car with a longer wheelbase.
Nico Rosberg, meanwhile - who had previously been outpaced by Schumacher in just four other official sessions this season - said he "went wrong on the setup" of the updated car.
Michelin and Pirelli prepared to be F1's only tire supplierUPDATE Pirelli has confirmed that it has no intention of ending its involvement in the World Rally Championship should it prove to be successful with its application to re-enter the Formula One arena next season.
The Italian tire company last week revealed that it was to perform a U-turn on previously stated claims that it had no interest in replacing Bridgestone for 2011, but its confirmation sparked concern among WRC competitors, who feared that relationships built up in recent years would be ended at a stroke. Adding to the fears is the fact that Pirelli is in the final year of a three-year deal to supply control tires to the WRC and the 'junior' championships running under its umbrella, but a company spokesman insists that its backing for rallying remains strong.
Jules Bianchi has taken an early lead in this year's GP2 championship with a storming drive to pole position in today's qualifying session in Barcelona, claiming the top spot ahead of Sergio Perez and this morning's fastest man Sam Bird. The Frenchman stunned his rivals with a laptime of 1:27.727 in warm, sunny conditions to claim the first pole position of the season, three tenths ahead of Perez and half a second in front of his teammate. The session opened to warmer temperatures than this morning's free practice, with Christian Vietoris leading the way on the first lap before Bianchi asserted his authority and set the target for his rivals. Bird, Perez and Pic opened a five way fight for the top spot early in the session, and when Bianchi broke the 27 second barrier a third of the way through the fight was on. The field headed back to the pits at half time for fresh tires and a rethink, everyone casting around for a new advantage on the only testing circuit of the race season, but with the track so well known it was going to take an almighty effort to knock the Frenchman off his perch in the closing stages of qualifying. With minutes remaining Bird pushed hard to repeat his morning's result but lost time in the final sector and was two tenths off, with Bianchi pushing to cover but actually running slower. When Perez's first sector time went purple it looked as though the Mexican was going to break through, but instead he came into the pits without crossing the line, clearly unhappy with something. And when Bianchi spun to a stop at the chicane in the final sector was no chance of anyone else improving, putting the rookie at the front of the grid for tomorrow afternoon's race one. Slotting in behind the top three will be Vietoris, Oliver Turvey, Pic, Dani Clos and Marcus Ericsson: with six rookies in the top eight tomorrow's start promises to be unmissable entertainment.
Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn was happy with progress on the opening day of practice for the Spanish Grand Prix, with Michael Schumacher looking more competitive than he has thus far in 2010 with third quickest time behind the pace-setting Red Bulls. Brawn confirmed, however, that Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, who was seventh, half a second behind, had run different programs.
"We still don't have a complete understanding of Michael's lack of Shanghai performance," Brawn said. "I think that even drivers of Michael's caliber face quite a challenge coming back to F1 after a three year absence but, saying that, I think Shanghai was an anomaly. His chassis had underside damage and is being repaired and he is using the testing chassis here with our modifications.
It's often the case that when you come to the Barcelona race the drivers say that the car isn't as good as it was in pre-season testing at the circuit but our drivers are saying that it's much better, so that's a positive. But it's still a moving target. If you stand still in F1 you go backwards by 0.2-0.3s per race."
Explaining the thinking behind the team's revised engine cover and air intakes, Brawn added: "It was done to improve the potential of the rear wing. At some circuits, including some of those coming up, you need that, and we think it is a better system." grandprix.com
Virgin signs sponsor Full Tilt Poker Virgin Racing, which is competing in the Formula One world championship for the first time this year, has signed a sponsorship agreement with online poker site Full Tilt Poker.
The company’s logos will have “significant branding” on the cars and team clothing, including that of drivers Timo Glock and Lucas Di Grassi, starting with this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Spanish GP: Vettel quickest in Practice 2, Schumacher improves Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel was the only driver to below the 1m20s barrier, setting a best time two tenths of a second faster than teammate Mark Webber, who sat atop the timesheet for the majority of the session after posting the best time on the hard tire runs early on.
The pair were six tenths clear of the rest of the field. But the pack was tightly packed behind with the next six tenths covering from third to ninth.
Michael Schumacher was the fastest of the challengers, continuing to overshadow Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg now that he has a car that suits him. "Today I felt much more comfortable in the car and feel that it is behaving more consistently. In my view, our upgrade is a step forward but we have to wait and see how big the step is as the other teams have obviously improved as well. Now we have to deeply analyze the data to get a better overview on the actual situation and as usual after the Friday practice sessions, it is difficult to estimate where you actually are in comparison to our competitors. We will only have the real picture after qualifying tomorrow."
Schu looks 'a whole lot better' in Spain - brother (GMM) On the opening day of the fifth grand prix weekend of 2010, Michael Schumacher's brother thinks the seven time world champion may have turned the corner.
6-time GP winner Ralf Schumacher, six years younger than the Mercedes driver, is in the Barcelona paddock this weekend as sporting boss of the GP3 team RSC Mucke.
Mercedes has heavily updated its 2010 car for the Spanish grand prix, including a longer wheelbase that is touted to suit 41-year-old Schumacher's famous affection for strong front-end handling.
In morning practice, he was ahead of Nico Rosberg by more than three tenths, having been outpaced by the younger German in nearly every previous track session.
Schumacher looked comfortable and competitive once again in the afternoon.
"Here in free practice we have seen that everything for Michael looks a whole lot better," Ralf told Sky television.
Bird on top in first session Sam Bird has started his season with a shot across the bows of his rivals by putting himself at the top of the timesheets in today's season opening free practice session here in Barcelona, finishing narrowly ahead of Charles Pic and Sergio Perez. The Briton claimed the top spot with a time of 1:28.511, with the top three split by just three tenths as the drivers went out in anger for the first time this year under sunny but cool conditions.
The session opened with a bang as Jules Bianchi followed the rear wing of Perez a little too closely on their warm up lap: the Mexican spun gently into the gravel but found his way back to the pits just behind his French rival, while a few turns later Jerome d'Ambrosio found the wall at turn 9, bringing his session to an early end. But back on track Bird set the early running with a lap of 1:28.511 and continued to push as Perez and Bianchi sat just below him on the screens. The Briton went even faster just before the usual rush for fresh rubber just before the halfway mark of the season, with Pic staying out a lap longer to get some clear air and his best time. And the story of the session was told: with the teams concentrating on set up ahead of this afternoon's qualifying session the timesheets saw little movement as the clock wound down to zero.
Speedway to provide bus shuttles for race fans The Town of Speedway is facilitating roundtrip bus service for 2010 Indianapolis 500 fans Sunday, May 30 at four convenient locations, including three in downtown Indianapolis and one at Indianapolis International Airport.
Service will be provided by Transportation Management Services (TMS) and the Free Enterprise System, Inc. Both companies will serve fans with air-conditioned shuttles and handicapped-accessible vehicles on all routes. Shuttle details:
With sales down, NASCAR tracks can't gouge fans as much NASCAR pledged the 2010 season would be aimed at placating its hard-core supporters with rough-and-tumble racing, but the fans are still staying away in droves due to the recession, but more likely because fans finally realize the extremely high prices they were being charged for race tickets while, they (Tracks) were reporting huge profits year-in-and-year-out, was enough..
According to estimates from official box scores, attendance decreased in nine of the first 10 races, with double-digit drops at Bristol Motor Speedway (14%), Phoenix International Raceway (13%) and Talladega Superspeedway (13%). International Speedway Corp., which owns Phoenix, Talladega and 10 more tracks that host Sprint Cup races, said during a first-quarter conference call last month that crowds at its speedways were at 81% of capacity.
McLaren chief advocates small turbocharged engines with KERS McLaren’s chief engineer Tim Goss feels that a move to turbocharged engines - and the return of KERS - would be the correct route for Formula One to take.
Goss said the sport needs to make moves to find an engine formula that provides performance, but that also makes F1 more fuel efficient.
A move to a 1.5-litre turbo engine and KERS has been mooted for 2013.
"As far as the 2013 engine is concerned, I think that Formula One does need to move on and show that it is moving in a fuel-efficiency age," he said.
"So we fully support all the moves that the Engines Working Group and FOTA are doing to push Formula One in that direction. The concept of a 2.4-litre V8 is getting a little bit dated now and I think the move to turbocharged engines with KERS is the right thing to do.
Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of the opening practice session for this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona. McLaren set the top two times, with Hamilton finishing the 90-minute session half a second clear of teammate Jenson Button.
Michael Schumacher beat his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg for the first time this year, so perhaps the revised car is more to his liking.
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