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Webber sides with his employer  Mark Webber is prepared to participate in a rebel formula one world championship with Red Bull. Webber is angered that the split in F1 will overshadow this weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone, the former WWII airfield converted into a motor racing circuit in 1945, but the declaration of civil war in F1 yesterday will likely result in Webber and Red Bull flooring it towards a breakaway title race next year.

The dispute centers on Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) president Max Mosley wanting teams to compete under an annual budget cap of £40 million ($82m). Webber, Red Bull and every other cashed-up team has one question for Mosley: If Spanish football club Real Madrid is allowed to fork out £80m to lure Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United, why should an entire F1 franchise have to operate for a year on half that amount?

"All the drivers share the same view," Webber wrote in his column for the BBC. "We want to drive for the best teams and race against the best drivers. If it's not the FIA formula 1 world championship, so be it. It'll still be the most prestigious championship. Ferrari are crucial. Everyone wants to beat them and McLaren. They're awesome teams and big set-ups who've taken years to get into that situation. They are respected, and we want to beat these guys." More ...

Only 20 cars for IndyCar at Iowa  The IndyCar Series will have 20 participants at this weekend's race at Iowa Speedway, down from the 24 that participated in the most recent race at Texas Motor Speedway.

The same number are expected next week at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, but Brian Barnhart, the Indy Racing League's president of competition, expects between 22 and 25 at each of the remaining races.

"There's the third car at Dreyer & Reinbold at most of them, talk of (Will Power's) car coming back at five or six races, Sarah Fisher coming back for three or four more, Townsend Bell doing three or four more, even Scott Sharp doing two or three more," he said. More ...

Richard Childress Statement about General Motors  The following is a statement from Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing, regarding cutbacks by General Motors:

“Richard Childress Racing is proud to be associated with General Motors and Chevrolet. I’ve been driving Chevys since I ran a Camaro in Talladega’s first Cup race in 1969 and I look forward to continuing that relationship. I’ve been fortunate to see some of the great new products General Motors has to offer, vehicles with great fuel mileage and styling. I’ve recently purchased a new Corvette and a Camaro and they’re two of the finest cars I’ve ever driven. RCR is honored to help showcase GM products to help sell them in the dealerships. These difficult economic times have forced all of us to evaluate our budgets closer than ever but I can assure you that this will not affect our competition on the track.”

Iowa: Rain postpones Indy Lights practice  Persistent rain forced the postponement of Firestone Indy Lights practice at Iowa Speedway. Steady rain began falling about 3 p.m. CT.

The 45-minute practice session has been moved to 8:15 a.m. CT Saturday, kicking off a full day of activity at Iowa Speedway. Firestone Indy Lights will have two practice sessions, qualifying and the Miller Lite 100 under the lights, while the IndyCar Series will have two practice sessions and PEAK Performance Pole Qualifying.

This is the third season that the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights have competed at the .875-mile, variably banked track. Dan Wheldon is the defending IndyCar Series race winner.

Rain washes out Milwaukee Nationwide qualifying  Field set on owners points.

1 51 Brian Ickler* Toyota
2 88 Matt Crafton Chevrolet
3 33 Ron Hornaday Chevrolet
4 5 Mike Skinner Toyota
5 30 Todd Bodine Toyota
6 117 Timothy Peters Toyota
7 24 David Starr Toyota
8 25 Terry Cook Toyota
9 81 Tayler Malsam* Toyota
10 14 Rick Crawford Ford More ...

F1 crisis will be solved - Mosley  (GMM)  The political state of formula one looks dire, but Max Mosley on Friday insisted his standoff with major rebel teams will ultimately be settled.

On Friday, the FOTA alliance threatened to set up a breakaway championship and the FIA hit back by vowing legal action, but on a visit to Silverstone Mosley dismissed the conflict as mere "posturing and posing".

The FIA president predicts an eventual compromise, but acknowledged that it may not be found until early in 2010.

"They (FOTA) can't afford not to run in the championship and we would be very reluctant to have a championship without them," Mosley told the BBC.

The 69-year-old suspects some of the manufacturer-backed teams can afford to take such a hard line because "some of them will disappear" whether there is a solution or not. More ...

De Marco grabs pole for Race One  Nicola De Marco took pole position for the first race of the 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship in Brno tomorrow (Saturday 20 June).

Mikhail Aleshin held the top spot in the early part of the session, before Edoardo Piscopo took over. De Marco also held the provisional pole for a brief time before a late flurry of changes in the final 15 minutes. Tobias Hegewald and Carlos Iaconelli held the top two spots at one stage, but both dropped down the order as De Marco returned to take pole in the closing stages. More ...

Donington will deliver GP in 2010 - Gillett  (GMM)  Simon Gillett, the promoter of the 2010 British grand prix at Donington, was on enemy ground as he walked the Silverstone paddock on Friday.

Silverstone is disappointed to have lost its rights to the formula one race in favor of Gillett's 17-year Donington deal, and on Thursday the BRDC was making it clear it hopes the plans fail and Bernie Ecclestone wants the existing host to stage the 2010 race.

But although F1's chief executive has assured Gillett that F1 is prepared to wait a year for the Donington plans to materialize, Gillett on Friday insisted that the race will take place in Leicestershire next summer.

"Right now, we're on track," revealing that financing for the 100m pounds sterling rejuvenation project will be finalized by the end of July. More ...

Mallya keeping options open for future  (GMM)  Vijay Mallya cut a forlorn figure as he addressed the international media on Friday, having committed for 2010 to a series whose future is under a very dark cloud.

The Indian billionaire's outfit Force India recently followed Williams in breaking ranks with FOTA and signing up to the FIA world championship.

But on Friday the sport was deep in crisis: eight FOTA teams on one hand threatening to start their own series, and the governing FIA vowing legal action against them.

Facing the prospect of sharing a grid with Williams and a band of unfamiliar team names next year, Mallya said: "As of now, Force India is a confirmed entrant to the FIA 2010 formula one world championship and we wait to see the developments over the weekend.

"Until a clear direction has been identified, we do not wish to make any further comments." More ...

Reactions to FOTA/FIA F1 turmoil  UPDATE Martin Whitmarsh on Friday indicated that the FIA's official F1 world championship will wither if FOTA successfully establishes a breakaway series.

Conspicuously quiet amid the political crisis, the McLaren boss broke his silence at Silverstone by suggesting he is not concerned that the situation will create a hole at the pinnacle of global single seater racing.

"I don't think there will be two premier racing championships," he told the BBC.

"All I can say is that there will be a championship next year and that the major names that have historically been involved in motor racing will be racing together and I think that will be recognized as the major championship."

His opinion was not shared by F1's chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, who was nonetheless unconvincing when he insisted he is "not concerned" by the worsening row between major teams and the FIA.

"The formula one world championship has been going for 60 years and will continue to go," he said.

"We've had 73 teams in and out of the world championships so I don't suppose it will change."

The crisis deepened yet further after afternoon practice at Silverstone, when the FIA vowed legal action against the treachery of FOTA, and particularly Ferrari, which is bound legally to F1 for the future.

"I think to go against the governing body is a very, very dangerous position to take," said former team owner Eddie Jordan. More ...

Villeneuve: Wants to drive in the Mosley/Ecclestone F1 series  (GMM)  On his second visit to a formula one paddock in three races, Jacques Villeneuve on Friday confirmed he is in talks to return to the sport next year.

The 1997 world champion was also spotted recently at Monaco, and on Friday at Silverstone admitted he is finding the political stoush "really entertaining".

It is likely his enthusiasm is spurred on by the plethora of cockpits that a formula one split, or minimally the arrival of some new teams, would generate.

"Definitely a split would be damaging," he agreed.

French-Canadian Villeneuve, now 38 and having last raced for BMW-Sauber in 2006, said he would be open to seeing FOTA's plans but, if he could choose, would align "with the series run by Bernie (Ecclestone)".

He said he would like to see the dispute settled as quickly as possible.

"So I can plan for the future," Villeneuve told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.  "Next year I definitely want to be back in a single seater.

"At the moment everyone is waiting to see what happens, but I am already in talks with several teams," he revealed.

British GP: Vettel stays on top in practice 2  Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber continued to dominate practice at Silverstone, the pair ending up six-tenths ahead of the field in the second session. Adrian Sutil was a surprise third in a Force India. The Ferrari team remains out to lunch, back in 17th and 18th position, proving that having a huge budget is a complete waste of money, and hence backing up the FIA stance on the entire FOTA/FIA battle.

“Overall I think it was a good day for both Mark Webber and I," said Vettel. "I don’t know what happened to Mark at the end of the second session, but otherwise it was a smooth run through the program. We were able to do a lot of laps and collect a lot of data. The new parts that we brought here seem to be working well, which is a good sign, but on a Friday it’s always difficult to know how quick we really are. I think we’ve made a step forward though and, just like our team slogan Red Bull Gives You Wings, I think they helped us today for our performance on track.”

Practice 2 Results


1. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 1:19.456
2. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1:19.597
3. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 1:20.141
4. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota 1:20.209
5. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault 1:20.237
6. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes 1:20.244
7. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1:20.417
8. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota 1:20.458
9. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota 1:20.468
10. Nelson Piquet Brazil Renault 1:20.608
11. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber 1:20.622
12. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 1:20.733
13. Timo Glock Germany Toyota 1:20.762
14. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes 1:20.767
15. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber 1:20.932
16. Sebastien Bourdais France Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:20.945
17. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari 1:21.005
18. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari 1:21.132
19. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Force India-Mercedes 1:21.413
20. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:21.668

As predicted, FIA to sue FOTA, Ferrari  (GMM)  The FIA on Friday vowed to launch "legal proceedings without delay" after eight rebel teams threatened to set up a rival world championship.

A statement issued shortly after afternoon practice at Silverstone revealed that the governing body's lawyers believe "the actions of FOTA as a whole, and Ferrari in particular, amount to serious violations of law".

The laws allegedly broken include "willful interference with contractual relations, direct breaches of Ferrari's legal obligations and a grave violation of competition law", the FIA, led by its controversial president Max Mosley, said.

The statement said the final 2010 entry list will no longer be published as scheduled on Friday "while the FIA asserts its legal rights".

Why FOTA will not succeed  A reader asks, Dear AR1.com, who do you think will win the FOTA/FIA battle?  Steve S.

Dear Steve, Interesting that the FOTA teams want to start a rival series.  We don't think it is all about the budget cap, but it is interesting to take a look at the budgets of those teams and their greed.  The "FOTA" teams happen to make up the most budgets of all of the teams according to SportsPro Magazine.  In their 2009 budget analysis, this is what they estimate the budgets to be:

Ferrari: $404 million
BMW: $386 million
McLaren:  $377 million
Toyota:  $329 million
Renault:  $265 million
Red Bull:  $264 million
Brawn:    $146 million
Torro Rosso:  $112 million
Total:  $2,283,000,000

Now, These teams were spending $2.2 billion dollars to run 16 cars at 17 races.  I can see where these teams don't want to try to reduce their companies to fit into a "budget cap" of $80 million (not including driver salary and some other "marketing" expenses") as they will have to work on less money and thus will not be able to afford 300 person staffs, massive "garages", private jets, yachts, luxury hotels, and other extravagant spending all being paid for by their sponsors and car manufacturers. More ...

GM to stop building Pontiac Vibe in August  As part of the phase-out of its Pontiac brand, General Motors Corp. announced today it will stop building the compact Vibe crossover wagon in August. The Pontiac Vibe is assembled at a plant jointly owned by GM and Toyota Motor Corp. in Fremont, Calif.

The automaker has been building 2010 Vibe models since March, a spokesman said today.

Only 'losers' if F1 splits - Nurburgring  (GMM)  The boss of the German F1 venue Nurburgring on Friday said he was dismayed at the news that the world of grand prix racing could split in two.

If Friday's last-gasp meetings at Silverstone do not end the standoff with the FIA, eight existing formula one teams have said they will organize a rival series.

"In the case of a split there are only losers," Nurburgring managing director Walter Kafitz told the German news agency SID.

"What happened in America is the best example.  It is bad for motor sport," he added.  "I only hope now for reason.  Formula one has stood at the abyss before and nothing happened.

"There is still much water to flow down the Rhine." More ...

Grosjean fastest in free practice  Romain Grosjean has topped the time sheets this morning in free practice at Silverstone, claiming the position by two tenths from Andreas Zuber and Karun Chandhok. The Frenchman's time of 1:26.808 set the cat among the pigeons early in the session, but his rivals had no reply in the cool, overcast conditions that descended on the famous circuit.

With gusts of wind picking up at the start of the session everyone was on track as soon as possible to make sure they gained some data in case of rain, but Nico Hulkenberg was soon walking back to the pits after stopping at Copse on his first flying lap after suffering a mechanical gremlin. Local resident Chandhok and Zuber were swapping places at the top of the time sheets until Grosjean set his best lap just ten minutes in, and the stage was set for a huge fight. More ...

Mosley hater Stewart calls for his head  The call comes from F1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart, who believes Mosley is to blame for the crisis which could see eight teams leave the sport. Mosley's proposal to introduce a £40million budget cap was rejected by the F1 Teams Association. FOTA have threatened to form a breakaway series next season.

And three-time world champion Stewart said: "It's a bad thing to have a split, but I think that has been forced upon the teams, particularly the large multi-national corporations involved in it.

"When you're talking about Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Toyota, Ferrari and Renault, these are big companies that feel they are being pushed around by the governing body in a way that is inappropriate.

"I think they do want Max to go because I think frankly some of the decisions made over the years have been very questionable, and a lot of people are kind of fed up with the dictatorial attitude. The trouble is Max has gone too far with this and the teams have suddenly said 'I'm sorry, we can't take it any more'.  It may well be that Max Mosley has to go. He has a great position of power, but big trees do blow over."

Stewart feels it is the teams who are in a position of strength at present and that Mosley must be the one to yield.

He added: "Whether there are further negotiations, who knows, but they (the teams) seem to be very well joined up.

"I think Max has to give quite a lot because the teams have come to realize that economically they can manage their own business quite well, thank you very much.  The FIA often say they are not the commercial arm of F1 and the money side of it is not their business. But right now they are making it their business and that is why there has been the fall-out. I hope in some way that they can come to some agreement.

"Bernie Ecclestone must surely play a part in this as well because he has the commercial rights. He has to also influence Max on how he goes about his business. He has been doing it with a very imperial role for probably too long. But empires do come to an end, as Julius Caesar found out."

Talks in high gear as F1 crisis races on  (GMM)  On the face of it, the teams have resolved to break away and Max Mosley is sticking to his close of business deadline.

But in the Silverstone paddock, the Red Bulls outpacing the Brawns in Friday morning practice was merely a side issue, as the political saga raced ahead at the scene of the British grand prix.

The FIA on Friday morning said the final 2010 entry list will be published on Saturday, but in the middle of a media scrum at Silverstone, Max Mosley said: "We're going to issue a statement later on."

By noon, meetings were in full swing in the Ferrari motor home.  Earlier, Mosley met for 30 minutes in Bernie Ecclestone's paddock HQ.

Afterwards, the F1 chief executive was coy, insisting he doesn't "worry about anything."

"No idea," the 78-year-old added when asked about the sport's future.  "Speak to Max.  Is he here?"

British GP: Vettel leads Red Bull 1-2 in opening practice  Sebastian Vettel led Mark Webber in a Red Bull one-two in the first practice session for Silverstone's final British Grand Prix.  Webber led much of the session, but a late charge from Vettel saw him on top by 0.282 seconds.

The two Brawns took third and fourth, 0.8s down on the two Adrian Newey Red Bulls, with Fernando Alonso rounding out the top five for Renault. More ...

French ace lines up for Portuguese champions  Portuguese champions FC Porto are sticking to a winning team for this year’s fast approaching Superleague Formula series, which kicks off in France on 28 June. French ace Tristan Gommendy returns to the hot seat of FC Porto’s 750bhp V12 powered single-seater race car. The 30-year-old driver scored FC Porto’s first Superleague Formula victory at Vallelunga, Italy towards the end of 2008’s inaugural season making it one of the teams to beat.

“I’m really happy to be coming back with Porto,” enthused Gommendy who first hit the international headlines when winning both the French F3 title and the prestigious Macau Grand Prix in 2002. “Everyone at the club was really nice to me last year and I now have a really good relationship with them, so it’s a big pleasure to restart with them. We had a very difficult beginning to the 2008 season and we struggled to break into the top five. Porto clearly had higher ambitions but it always kept faith in me – that’s why it was great that we won together at Vallelunga and finished second at Jerez. I know Porto has been pushing to keep me for this year, so I’m really happy because I believe we can do something great.” More ...

NASCAR reduces Long's suspension  Part-time NASCAR driver Carl Long's suspension has been reduced to eight races from a record 12, but his record $200,000 fine remains. National Stock Car Racing commissioner Charles Strang heard Long's final appeal Monday in Chicago. He announced the reduced suspension Wednesday.

Long, a part-time driver in the Sprint Cup series, was penalized for having an oversized engine at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May. Long and his wife, car owner DeeDee Long, were suspended 12 races and docked 200 points. Crew chief Charles Swing was fined $200,000.

Long appealed in hopes of leniency for his low-budget team. He got some relief, but the fine could keep him from racing again.

"I suppose it's good news," Long told The Associated Press on Thursday. "Eight is better than 12. But they ain't gonna budge on the fine, and they know I can't pay it. They intentionally put it out of my reach."

Long said there is no way Swing will be able to pay the fine, and under NASCAR rules, it would then revert to the car owner. And Long's team won't be allowed to compete until the fine is paid.

More than $16,000 has been raised for Long's cause, with donations coming through his Web site and from a couple "pass the hat" events at racetracks.

"That's a long ways off from $200,000," Long said. "If I can keep stuff like that going, then maybe $200,000 is in sight. The next thing to do is to stand outside the race track with my helmet and beg for change. I'm not above doing it, either."

F1 news in brief  
  • Silverstone willing to host 2010 British GP
  • Lauda hopes FOTA 'sword-rattling' succeeds
  • Buemi's female cousin eyes 2010 F1 seat
  • Hamilton not using KERS at Silverstone

Silverstone willing to host 2010 British GP
(GMM)  Silverstone is still hoping Donington's plans for the 2010 British grand prix fail and Bernie Ecclestone agrees to keep the race at the historic track.

Ecclestone, the F1 chief executive, has penned a 17-year-old deal with Donington beginning in 2010, and warned that if the Leicestershire venue is not ready for next summer, the British GP will sit off the calendar for a year rather than stay at Silverstone.

Ahead of theoretically the last formula one race at the circuit, Silverstone owner the BRDC's chairman Robert Brooks raised the prospect that Donington will indeed be unable to deliver its promises.

"We have looked at Donington's plans," he said.  "The idea they could fund 100m pounds (sterling) on the back of debentures does not stack up.

"On the other hand, we could demonstrably hold next year's race because we are holding this year's race," Brooks added.

Silverstone is also leaving the door open to hosting a round of FOTA's breakaway series.

Former Ferrari and Jaguar driver, 1999 championship runner-up Eddie Irvine, also doubts Donington's ability to follow through its plans to come up to Ecclestone's high standards.

"If Silverstone can't make the numbers add up - and they have the infrastructure already in place - then Donington won't," the Ulsterman told Sky News.

Lauda hopes FOTA 'sword-rattling' succeeds
(GMM)  Even with plans hatched for a breakaway championship, figures in the formula one paddock are still hoping a split can be avoided.

As Max Mosley walked through the Silverstone paddock gate on Friday morning, Niki Lauda told Germany's N-TV that he hopes FOTA's threat shakes the sport into coming to a compromise.

"My hope is that the sword-rattling of FOTA means a compromise with Mosley is found.  What is clear is that the FIA and Mosley cannot simply drive over the ideas of the teams," the Austrian legend said.

Toyota is one of the hard-liners of the FOTA alliance, but its Italian driver Jarno Trulli is disappointed about the steadily deteriorating situation. More ...

FIA unmoved by teams' breakaway plans  (GMM)  Early on Friday morning, the FIA issued a statement insisting it is unmoved by eight major formula one teams' plans to set up a rival series.

The Paris body, led by its controversial president Max Mosley, said it is "disappointed but not surprised" that the protracted negotiations about income, governance and rules ultimately failed.

"The FIA cannot permit a financial arms race in the championship nor can the FIA allow FOTA to dictate the rules of formula one," part of the statement read.

The FIA said Friday's deadline for five FOTA teams to unconditionally sign up for the 2010 season stands, and that a definitive entry list will be published on Saturday.

Due to disputed agreements, it is likely that Ferrari and the Red Bull teams will again be included on the entry list against their will.

F1 team chiefs met on Thursday night at Renault's Enstone headquarters, and issued its statement about a breakaway championship around midnight.

"The FIA is disappointed but not surprised by FOTA's inability to reach a compromise in the best interests of the sport," the FIA continued.

"It is clear that elements within FOTA have sought this outcome throughout the prolonged period of negotiation and have not engaged in the discussions in good faith."

More on teams intention to form breakaway  (GMM)  In the dead of Thursday night in England, the eight FOTA teams decided to issue a statement announcing that a breakaway world championship will be formed.

The announcement came on the eve of the FIA's Friday deadline for making unconditional entries for the official formula one series, and amid the sides' deadlocked negotiations about income, governance and rules.

"The FIA and the commercial rights holder have campaigned to divide FOTA," the statement read.  "The wishes of the majority of the teams are ignored.

"Furthermore, tens of millions of dollars have been withheld from many teams by the commercial rights holder, going back as far as 2006."

The statement was issued on behalf of BMW, Brawn, Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, Toyota and the two Red Bull teams.

"These teams therefore have no alternative other than to commence the preparation for a new championship which reflects the values of its participants and partners," said the formula one teams association. More ...

FOTA announces breakaway series, doom F1  UPDATE Full statement released by the Formula One Teams Association on Friday on behalf of BMW-Sauber, Brawn GP, Scuderia Ferrari, McLaren-Mercedes, Red Bull Racing, Renault, Scuderia Toro Rosso and Toyota, announcing a breakaway series after failing to resolve their dispute with the FIA:

"Since the formation of FOTA last September the teams have worked together and sought to engage the FIA and commercial rights holder, to develop and improve the sport.

"Unprecedented worldwide financial turmoil has inevitably placed great challenges before the F1 community. FOTA is proud that it has achieved the most substantial measures to reduce costs in the history of our sport.

"In particular the manufacturer teams have provided assistance to the independent teams, a number of which would probably not be in the sport today without the FOTA initiatives.

"The FOTA teams have further agreed upon a substantial voluntary cost reduction that provides a sustainable model for the future. Following these efforts all the teams have confirmed to the FIA and the commercial rights holder that they are willing to commit until the end of 2012.

"The FIA and the commercial rights holder have campaigned to divide FOTA. The wishes of the majority of the teams are ignored. Furthermore, tens of millions of dollars have been withheld from many teams by the commercial rights holder, going back as far as 2006. Despite this and the uncompromising environment, FOTA has genuinely sought compromise.

"It has become clear however, that the teams cannot continue to compromise on the fundamental values of the sport and have declined to alter their original conditional entries to the 2010 World Championship. These teams therefore have no alternative other than to commence the preparation for a new championship which reflects the values of its participants and partners.

"This series will have transparent governance, one set of regulations, encourage more entrants and listen to the wishes of the fans, including offering lower prices for spectators worldwide, partners and other important stakeholders.

"The major drivers, stars, brands, sponsors, promoters and companies historically associated with the highest level of motorsport will all feature in this new series." More ...

Michigan TV Ratings  TNT's Sprint Cup race from Michigan averaged a 3.3/9 (5.118 mill.) on Sunday. That's even with last year's rating (3.3/9) and up very slightly on average audience (+1% vs. 5.084 million). This is the first NASCAR race of this season to be flat on rating and also the first to post any increase on viewership. Through two races TNT is averaging a 3.3/9, down -11% from last year's 3.7/9. TNT viewership is down -6% (5.327 mill. vs. 5.671).
Drivers look forward to Iowa bullring  Iowa Speedway is just three years old, but already it has produced exciting, side-by-side racing. In 2007, Dario Franchitti won the first IndyCar Series event at the .875-mile oval by .0681 of a second ahead of Marco Andretti. Last year, Dan Wheldon edged Hideki Mutoh by .1430 of a second.

Billed as a short oval when it opened, the track's variably banked corners (12-14 degrees) lends itself to racing more like a speedway.

"The key to Iowa Speedway is getting your car balanced so that it works in both the low and high grooves," said Ryan Hunter-Reay, who will race with A.J. Foyt Racing for the first time. "It races like a 1.5-mile track because of the banking, so in that sense you approach it the same as you would a 1.5 mile track only with more downforce." More ...

Unser among "Father of the Year" honorees  
Al Unser Sr.
Al Unser's success in and longtime contributions to motorsports are unparalleled. National Father's Day Committee chairman Glen Schanen says Unser's contributions extend to being a role model to generations, which elevates him into another category.

Unser and five other men will be honored June 18 during the 68th Annual "Father of the Year" Awards presentation in New York hosted by MSNBC's Chris Matthews.

"We are privileged to pay tribute to this outstanding group of men who exemplify the characteristics of not only great fathers but as great role models for children and parents across the country," Schanen said. More ...

Firestone Indy Lights to race under the lights at Iowa  Firestone Indy Lights drivers return to action June 20 at Iowa Speedway, three weeks after Mario Romancini won at Milwaukee, the fifth driver to win in the season's first six races. The race will mark the third time the series has raced under the lights - the first time at Iowa.

While technically Iowa is another short oval - 0.875 mile as compared to 1 mile at Milwaukee - it races like a superspeedway.

Panther Racing drivers have been strong at the track the past two seasons. Dillon Battistini won last June with a late-race pass of Arie Luyendyk Jr. and teammate Brent Sherman finished fourth. In 2007, Hideki Mutoh posted a third-place finish (Alex Lloyd gave Sam Schmidt Motorsports the victory). More ...

Button also has special helmet for home GP  (GMM)  Like countryman Lewis Hamilton, Britain's Jenson Button will also use a special helmet livery to mark his home race at Silverstone this weekend.

The runaway championship leader has shelved his now-familiar bright yellow color-scheme for the British grand prix in favor of a more patriotic flavor.

The white, red and blue livery, with a 'push the button' theme, was designed, oddly, by an Austrian fan, as part of a competition run on the 29-year-old Brawn driver's website.

"What I loved about Bernie's design was its unique take on the Union Jack flag and how he had incorporated it into my own Button logo," said the Briton after trying on the revised helmet for the cameras in the Brawn garage.

'Duck's beak' for revised Red Bull - Vettel  
Revised Red Bull will look very different
(GMM)  Red Bull's 2009 car is so heavily modified for the British grand prix that it will look visibly different when it hits the Silverstone circuit on Friday.

The new parts are yet to arrive from the Austrian team's nearby Milton-Keynes base, but Sebastian Vettel revealed that the new nose resembles a "duck's beak".

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said the modified front of the RB5 is significantly wider, while Adrian Newey has also worked on an improved iteration of the double diffuser.

"From the simulation numbers in the wind tunnel it looks not bad," Vettel, 21, said of the sweeping bodywork upgrade, said to also include new front and rear wings.

Mark Webber said: "Silverstone should be the ideal track for our car."

Teams meet at Renault as deadline nears  (GMM)  As evening fell at Silverstone on Thursday, team chiefs headed out onto the A43 bound for Renault's nearby Enstone headquarters.

At close of business on Friday, the FIA's latest deadline will expire, theoretically locking five of the rebel FOTA teams - Renault, McLaren, Toyota, BMW and Brawn - off the 2010 grid.

Also with Ferrari and the Red Bull teams controversially included on next year's entry list, many observers see the outcome of Friday's deadline as crucial to the seriousness of the alliance's threat to quit the sport over the dispute with Max Mosley.

The teams' Enstone meeting is to decide on a reply to the FIA president's newest offers to resolve the standoff.

"I really hope tomorrow there is good news," Fernando Alonso, who had planned to travel last weekend to Le Mans but ultimately did not, told reporters at Silverstone.

"I'm always optimistic and I really hope they find a solution, but I know that it is a critical moment and we have to be ready for all decisions," the Renault driver added.

track news
ISC, Cordish Co. Unveil Plans For Casino Adjoining Kansas Speedway  
Kansas Entertainment Reveals Details For Proposed $385M Casino
Kansas Entertainment, a joint venture between ISC and Baltimore-based developer Cordish Co., "revealed details Wednesday" of its proposal for a $385M casino adjoining Kansas Speedway. The proposal is "one of two under consideration by the Kansas Lottery Commission for one of two casinos to be awarded this year." Cordish Co. President of Gaming & Resorts Joseph Weinberg "emphasized the potential for attracting tourists by combining the casino project with the race track." Awarding Kansas Entertainment the contract "would bring together the Hard Rock Casino brand," ISC and NASCAR. Weinberg: "Combine that with NASCAR fans' higher propensity to gamble than the general population and the higher propensity of IRL fans to gamble, compared to the general population. No one can match our ability to drive revenue to this market." Kansas Entertainment "promised to open the casino in 14 months, but asked for a 36-month window." The state Lottery Commission "faces a June 30 deadline to get contracts with each developer to the Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board." That seven-member board "will select the developer for the project" Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL.
Rahal thinks IndyCar Racing is where it's at  Graham Rahal, driver of the McDonald's Honda for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing in the IRL, was Michael Knight's Newsmaker guest on last night's The Race Reporters radio show on PowerUpChannel. Joining Knight in the questioning were journalists Holly Cain (AOL Sports), Mark Armijo (Arizona Republic) and Tim May (Columbus Dispatch).

Graham, 20, had some surprising comments on his career possibilities and the state of the IRL. Here are some quotes from the interview:

"Formula One absolutely is of interest. And frankly, not many people know this, I have looked at NASCAR. Are those places I'd ultimately like to be? No, because, to be honest, a unified open-wheel series in North America was what I've always wanted to see. Everybody can appreciate that, growing up with my father (Bobby), that's the way it was. I felt very fortunate that, unlike some of these other guys . . . I was lucky unification happened so early in my career. I want to see this open-wheel series succeed. Being an America, that's what means the most to me. The second-best thing would be to be the only American in Formula One. That would be quite an honor. NASCAR would be in there. I'm not as outspoken about those things as some people. I just try to focus on my job rather than get the media all hyped-up. Before I move on to another series, I've got to be successful in one."

"People can say what you want, but Formula One isn't exactly stable right now. NASCAR, let's look at what Chevy just did, if Chevy is going to continue to cut, Dodge is going to cut. NASCAR is no more stable. I've got to be honest: I think IndyCar is the most stable of all of them . . . NASCAR has peaked, plain and simple. IndyCar racing, the quality of racing is second to none. The quality of drivers is second to none . . . I still think IndyCar racing is where it's at. I'm American, I'm biased to that, I feel that the Indy 500 is the most patriotic thing to compete in and that's where I'm focused."

Listen to the entire show by using this link:

The Race Reporters podcast is now available on iTunes
Time for F1 crisis to stop - Heidfeld  
Nick Heidfeld
(GMM)  Nick Heidfeld believes it is time for F1's political stoush to stop.

"Some people think it has gone for too long and now I agree with them," he said at Silverstone on Thursday, 24 hours before the deadline for FOTA teams to join the 2010 entry list.

The BMW-Sauber driver thinks that while high-stakes struggles are nothing new, this one has now entered a phase "where it is damaging" the sport.

"From the outside it seems that the positions of both sides are understandable," he said.

"Finding a solution is difficult, but if it goes on for longer, then the sport will be damaged," added the German.

As for whether his loyalty for 2010 would be to formula one, or to the manufacturers like his current employer BMW, Heidfeld answered that he would need to assess "which teams are in what series". More ...

Kubica not pushing for BMW's KERS return  (GMM)  BMW-Sauber's race drivers on Thursday confirmed that their car will again not feature KERS for the British grand prix weekend.

The German squad was initially the staunchest advocate of the controversial energy re-use technology, but amid its competitive problems recently dropped it to focus on honing aerodynamic improvements.

The 2009 car has a new front wing at Silverstone, while a bigger bodywork upgrade is scheduled for the forthcoming Nurburgring race.

Robert Kubica has never been a fan of KERS, and on Thursday he told reporters that he will not be pushing for it to return to the F1.09 package.

"To be honest I think we have bigger problems for now," said the Pole.

"When you're struggling with things that have a much bigger effect on the lap time, it's better to go safer," he added.

Mosley makes final offer to end crisis  (GMM)  24 hours before the Friday deadline, Max Mosley has made a final offer to rebel formula one teams in a bid to end the sport's political crisis.

In a letter to the rebel FOTA teams on Thursday, a copy of which was seen by this publication, the FIA president offered to amend the published 2010 rules so that the budget cap is 100m euros, reducing to 45m in 2011, and also wind back the so-called 'two-tier' elements.

In FOTA's letter of compromise on Tuesday, the teams did not mention a figure for the cap.

Mosley said he would agree to the teams' proposal that the cap be policed by a system of "self-reporting", with suspected breaches to be investigated by a "mutually acceptable auditor".

He also wants them to extend the expired 1998 Concorde Agreement so that it stretches until 2014, and said he is "not averse" to agreeing to FOTA's demands to changes to processes including the International Court of Appeal.

At least one FOTA team figure, however, remarked that he is not sure Mosley is actually compromising very much.

"I don't think he's moved at all, to be honest," he said.

Brawn GP signs minor sponsor  Gieves & Hawkes, the London tailors, has struck a sponsorship deal with dominant Formula One team Brawn GP.

The team’s drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, who head the Formula One points table, will join the team’s management in wearing Gieves & Hawkes suits on all formal team occasions under the terms of the supply deal. More ...
GM to take axe to top NASCAR series  General Motors will reduce its financial support in the Sprint Cup series, officials from several Chevrolet teams confirmed on Wednesday. Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and Richard Childress Racing officials said they have been asked to participate in cutbacks by the U.S. auto manufacturer that recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Officials did not say how large the cuts would be. "We had very productive conversations this week with the folks at General Motors, and it's clear they are committed to racing and committed to our organization," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports in a statement. "They've asked us for some help, and we're going to give it to them. We're proud to be a Chevy team, and we will do our part to support the new GM both on and off the racetrack."

Tony Stewart, the co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing and Sprint Cup point leader, echoed Hendrick's sentiments. "We have been, and will continue to be, strong supporters of GM and its Chevrolet brand," he said. "These are tough times for our auto industry, and in light of what's happening to them and how it affects all the people who make a living building and selling cars and trucks, the sacrifices we'll have to make as a race team are pretty weak in comparison. We believe in the products GM has now and in the products they're building for the future. We're proud to carry the Chevy bowtie on the hoods of our racecars, and we support GM in this time of uncertainty because we know they'll be an even stronger company in the years to come." Stewart said the cutbacks will force teams to review their budgets, but "it will not impact our preparation for the track or the return on investment we provide for our partners." The cutbacks come a week after GM cut all support from its Nationwide Series and Truck Series teams. ESPN
Nationwide series Milwaukee preview  The Nationwide Series once again gets the opportunity to receive top billing during a NASCAR weekend. The Northern Tool Dot Com 250 will be run this Saturday on one of the most historical and prestigious facilities in the country: the famed Milwaukee Mile. It also means that the race will not have the usual high amount of Sprint Cup drivers and that provides opportunity for the full-time Nationwide only teams.

The race has 47 entries vying for the 43 starting spots. Qualifying is expected to be intense for this race because 17 of those entries are on the "go or go home" list. That simply means these teams are not high enough in the series owner's points to qualify for a guaranteed starting berth and must make the race based on speed. More ...

Formula Two rolls into Brno  
Points leader and former Champ Car Atlantic driver Robert Wickens from Canada
After a hugely successful inaugural weekend in Valencia last month, the third and fourth rounds of the 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship take place in Brno, Czech Republic, this weekend (June 19/20/21).

All eyes will be on championship leader Robert Wickens after the Canadian scooped a dominant double victory in Spain. Amongst those chasing him down will be his two Red Bull Junior colleagues, Mirko Bortolotti and Mikhail Aleshin. Both drivers scored strong points finishes in each race at Valencia and currently lie second and fourth respectively in the overall standings.

Sandwiched between them in the championship is the only other driver to have scored points in each race so far, Brazilian racer Carlos Iaconelli. After spending the last two seasons with under-achieving teams in Formula Renault 3.5 and GP2, the 21-year-old is relishing the prospect of showing his full potential in the level playing field of Formula Two.

Lithuanian Kazim Vasiliauskas and Austrian Philipp Eng will also hope to build on impressive debut weekends in F2 after demonstrating their talents with surprise podiums finishes. Andy Soucek and Julien Jousse will expect to challenge for podium positions this coming weekend after failing to reach that goal in Valencia. Jousse’s confidence is further buoyed having scored a stunning second position in the GT1 class on his Le Mans 24 Hours debut last weekend. More ...

Teammate poses threat to Button's home win  
Barrichello (L) and Button (R)
(GMM)  While Jenson Button arrives at his home grand prix with six wins from seven races in the bag, some regard the occupant of the sister Brawn as the favorite for British grand prix victory.

"He is always extremely strong at Silverstone, I think because of his early career when a lot of time was spent here," team boss Ross Brawn said of Rubens Barrichello.

The Brazilian veteran worked with Brawn for six years at Ferrari, and in 2003 Barrichello won the British grand prix.

"It's not a track that's particularly sensitive to brakes, and that's an area that often he finds quite critical on the car, so I expect him to go very well this weekend," added Brawn.

Barrichello is also desperate to start winning races with the 2009 Brawn, which alongside the Ferraris of 2002 and 2004 must rate as arguably the best car of his long career. More ...

Mansell hails Button, Button defends Hamilton  
Nigel Mansell with his two sons Leo (L) and Greg (R)
(GMM)  Jenson Button is the "best in the business" and set to cruise to the 2009 world championship, according to Nigel Mansell.

While the 1992 world champion and fellow Briton is usually reserved in his praise for Lewis Hamilton, Mansell cannot hide his admiration for this year's runaway title leader.

In the past two years, when Mansell has commented on McLaren's Hamilton, it sparked headlines including 'Mansell cool on Hamilton hype', 'Mansell says Hamilton crown less credible', and 'Hamilton learning F1 not easy - Mansell'.

It has been suggested that Mansell, 55, relates more to 29-year-old Button because of their similarly long and winding roads to success.

"The great thing is Jenson served a very long apprenticeship and now it's coming together," he is quoted as saying by The Sun.

Button, however, relates to Hamilton's current situation, and the struggle to win critical praise while at the wheel of an uncompetitive car.

"I think Lewis is driving well," the former Honda driver told the Guardian, "and I actually think he has been driving better this year than some of last year."

Special helmet for Hamilton's British return  
Hamilton's standard yellow helmet
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton will wear a special helmet livery to mark his return to Silverstone as the defending winner of his home British grand prix.

Last July, the eventual world champion's drive to an ultra-dominant win in the treacherous wet conditions was peerless, as he finished more than a minute ahead of second place.

This weekend, the 24-year-old does not have a competitive McLaren with which to push for victory, but his helmet paint tweak shows he is still keen to pay back his fans for his 2008 achievements.

The design is modified at the top, depicting his usual helmet having been ripped away to show a Union Jack flag underneath.

Added diamonds at Monaco aside, it is the first time Hamilton has changed his familiar mustard-yellow helmet since debuting in 2007. More ...

Steve Letarte named the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race  Hendrick Motorsports' Steve Letarte, crew chief for Jeff Gordon, has been named the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race for Sunday's LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Gordon had an engine failure during practice Friday and, therefore, had to start at the rear of the field for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Gordon drove through the field and ended with a runner-up finish.

"We just fought hard,” Gordon said. “We had to work our way up through traffic, and the car was there to do it, so once we got up there in the top 15 or so we had to make some adjustments. Top-five is something I'm going to be very happy with, and with second I'm even happier."

Bob Osborne, crew chief for Roush Fenway Racing's Carl Edwards, Todd Berrier, crew chief for Richard Childress Racing's Casey Mears, Fox/Speed analyst Hammond and representatives from the Wypall brand serve as the panel for the award. In addition to the $1,000 check, the winning crew chief will receive signage to announce the win on their pit box the following week. The crew chief with the most weekly wins will be honored as the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year and will be presented a $20,000 check at the season finale.

Only in NASCAR can 81-year olds still drive  Eighty-one year old Hershel McGriff has had enough of retirement, and the legendary driver will make his return behind the wheel at Infineon Raceway for the Bennett Lane Winery 200, presented by Supercuts, on Saturday, June 20. McGriff walked away from racing in 2002, but he will compete in three road-course events on this year’s NASCAR Camping World Series West schedule, including the series’ only stop in Sonoma. If McGriff takes the checkered flag, he would become the oldest driver to ever win in one of NASCAR’s premier series. McGriff has reason to be excited about making his return at the Sonoma Valley road course. He has earned four West Series victories at Infineon Raceway (1983, ’85, ’87, ’89) and still has the track record for most West Series poles with three. Perhaps best known for his talent on a road course, it’s only natural that McGriff makes his return at the road-course events. McGriff’s racing career is one that pre-dates NASCAR and spans seven decades of racing. His first race was at 17 years of age after his family moved to Portland and from there his career took off. McGriff was presented with the NASCAR Award of Excellence and named one of the 50 Greatest Drivers in NASCAR in 1998. He was also inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in its inaugural year in 2003. McGriff’s popularity among fans was indicated by the record 12 consecutive years (1981-1992), that he was named the Most Popular Driver in the NASCAR Camping World Series West. Infineon Raceway
Danica won't announce future plans until after IndyCar season  
Danica will announce her future plans after  the IndyCar season ends
Danica Patrick yesterday said that she "will not announce a decision on her future plans until after the IndyCar Series season ends" on October 10 per her interview found on our Home page. On the conference call she said that she is "open to all possibilities at this point." Patrick: "NASCAR has so many viewers and so many partners. There are lots of options inside and outside the car. And it looks like fun."
Lola F1 decision Tuesday  UPDATE (GMM)  Lola has withdrawn itself from the FIA's reserve list of potential 2010 formula one teams.

The British racing car company lodged an application and due diligence was carried out by the FIA, but Lola was ultimately overlooked on the initial entry list by F1's governing body.

Several of the unsuccessful applicants, however, were put on a reserve list in light of the provisional status of the rebel FOTA teams.

Lola on Wednesday confirmed that the FIA requested it remain "in a state of readiness", but said it decided to "withdraw its application" nonetheless.

It is believed the outfit is particularly disappointed at missing out, noting in its press statement that "significant financial investment" was spent on its 2010 car.

"No further comment will be made," said Lola. More ...

Mosley puts his foot down with FOTA  (GMM)  F1's crisis is creeping awkwardly towards a compromise, after the FOTA rebels wrote to FIA president Max Mosley on Tuesday.

As already reported, the eight teams said they would agree to a budget cap - now called "resource restriction" - if it could be policed by a group of independent accountants.

"We have already offered to accept the report of a reputable auditor backed up by the signature of a main company board member," Mosley replied by letter on Wednesday.

He added, however, that a "fundamental problem" with FOTA's proposal is the "absence of a clear figure".  Mosley has previously indicated that he would agree to a 100m euro cap in 2010, reducing to 45m in 2011.

FOTA asked that Friday's deadline for making their 2010 entries unconditional be extended until July 1, but Mosley declined, arguing that the "remaining applicants" for places on the 2010 grid need to be informed "no later than Friday". More ...

Trap speeds from LeMans  This data is from Thursday practice ahead of qualifying.  Qualifying speeds may have been a tad faster.

Chassis Engine Class Speed Mph/Kph
Peugeot 908 HDI FAP Peugeot 5.5L twin turbo V12 Diesel LMP1 211.8/340.86
Aston Martin Lola AMR01 Aston Martin DI 5,993cc V12 LMP1 209.0/336.35
Aston Martin Lola B08/60 Aston Martin 5,993cc V12 LMP1 205.3/330.4
Audi R15 Audi V10 TDI 5499cc Twin Turbo Diesel LMP1 205.0/329.92
Courage LC70 Judd 5496cc V10 NA LMP1 202.5/325.89
Oreca 01 AIM V10 5496cc N/A LMP1 202.0/325.09
Pescarolo 01 Judd V10 5496cc N/A LMP1 202.0/325.09
Audi R10 V12 TDI 5499cc twin turbo diesel LMP1 196.7/316.56
Ginetta-Zytek GZ09 Zytek 4496cc V8 NA LMP1 196.6/316.4
Porsche RS Spyder Porsche 3400cc V8 N/A LMP2 191.9/308.83
Lola B08/80 Judd 3394cc V8 NA LMP2 188.0/302.56
Pescarolo 01 AER 1995cc I4 Turbo LMP2 180.7/290.81
Corvette C6.R Chevrolet 6993cc V8 NA GT1 180.7/290.81
Zytek 07S Zytek 3396cc V8 NA LMP2 179.7/289.2
Porsche 911 GT3 RSR Porsche 3795cc flat 6 N/A GT2 178.0/286.46
Ferrari F430 GT Ferrari V8 3998.6cc NA GT2 175.9/283.08
LolaB09/86 Mazda/AER 1995cc I4 Turbo LMP2 174.6/280.99
Radical SR9 AER 1995cc I4 Turbo LMP2 171.7/275.36
Biffle’s Team Captures Tissot Pit Crew Award in Michigan   For the third time this season, Greg Biffle’s No. 16 crew took top honors in the Tissot Pit Road Precision Award by winning the weekly competition in Sunday’s LifeLock 400 Sprint Cup race (June 14) at Michigan International Speedway.

The win not only paid Biffle’s crew $5,000, but it also lifted the No. 16 team to a tie for first in the Tissot standings. Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 crew also has three wins.

The crew with the most Tissot wins at the completion of the 36-race schedule will receive a $100,000 bonus plus Tissot watches for the crew and driver.

The win for the No. 16 crew at Michigan came as a result of Biffle’s 3M Ford Fusion spending the least amount of time on pit road (161.317 seconds) during the 400-mile race. The crew’s performance helped Biffle to a fifth-place finish. More ...

Q&A with veteran Mark Martin  
Mark Martin
You’ve had a great season thus far, including last weekend’s win in Michigan.  With your past success at Infineon Raceway, can you talk about coming out to the road course in Sonoma?

MM: Yeah, I’ve had great runs out there and really good road-course cars, and it’s a place that I have a lot of memories.  My first time out there (in 1989), we made a pit stop and I think it was for gas only, and when I left, I turned to go up the hill and the right rear tire flew off and I spun and turned over. I didn’t know if I did that or what, but we weren’t changing tires and it turns out the guy ran out and took off all the nuts off the right-rear tire like he was going to change it.  We had some great battles with Dale Earnhardt and some others. Lots of good times out there.

I know you’re into physical fitness.  How does that play out coming to Infineon Raceway, being that it’s such a tough, physical course?

MM: Well, I mean, I don’t know.  It can be hot out there, and it’s a little bit of a physical race, but all of our races are incredibly demanding in one way or another.  We’re racing every week and I prepare every day, like tomorrow’s the big day, and I look forward to it.  I’ve had great race cars this year.  I haven’t been on a road course in three years, so this is going to be fun. More ...

Wednesday  NASCAR Truck Series Notebook  The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action this Friday to host a tailgate party at a fan favorite venue: the Milwaukee Mile. The Copart 200 is expected to be 200 laps of intense action on a track that has room for high speeds on the straightaways and tight side by side racing in the turns. The race has 34 entries for an event that can start up to 36 trucks. That means the teams on the series' "go or go home list" are guaranteed a starting berth. More ...
F1 drivers to come out for charity fundraiser  Grammy award-winner Duffy will play a private gig at The F1™ Party in aid of Great  Ormond  Street  Hospital  Children's  Charity.  The  party  is  being  held  at London's  V&A  Museum  tonight  to  celebrate  the  official  launch  of  the  2009 Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix. Abbey and Santander are generously supporting  the  F1™  Party  for  a  third  year  running  to  raise  vital  funds  for  the hospital's  new  Heart  and  Lung  Centre.  Tamara  Ecclestone  is  the  creative director of the party and has helped to plan and oversee the event from the early

Duffy  is  taking  time  out  of her European tour to entertain Formula 1™'s finest including Lewis  Hamilton,  Nelson  Piquet,  team  principals  Martin  Whitmarsh, Ross Brawn, Christian Horner and Eddie Jordan to name but a few. The evening will be hosted by satirist and F1TM fan Rory Bremner. More ...

Hamilton happy with Kovalainen as teammate  
A crushed Lewis Hamilton hasn't had much else to be happy about in 2010
(GMM)  According to world champion Lewis Hamilton, he would be happy if Heikki Kovalainen remains his McLaren teammate for a third consecutive season in 2010.

Speculation suggests that Kovalainen, 27, may lose the works Mercedes-powered seat for a lack of performance, but Hamilton told the German press this week that he is "very content" to drive alongside the Finn.

Asked about the rumors, the Briton told Sport Bild: "I've heard about it but I am very content with Heikki as my teammate.  He is focused, friendly and very talented.

"He is very strong and is helping to move the team forwards.  I enjoy working with him and I hope that he stays," Hamilton, 24, added. More ...

Montezemolo downbeat as crisis hits bottom  
Luca di Montezemolo and his Ferrari team will likely be out of F1 in 2010 and have nothing to blame but themselves and their fellow FOTA teams
(GMM)  While the F1 world holds its breath for the outcome to the political crisis, Luca di Montezemolo's rhetoric has become suddenly resigned.

Friday, when opening practice for the British grand prix will take place, is the new deadline by which the rebel FOTA teams must drop their conditions or be deleted from the FIA's 2010 entry list.

On Tuesday, the FIA said the formula one teams association is unwilling to compromise, accusing it of trying to "take over the regulation" of the sport and trying "to expropriate the commercial rights for itself".

With a solution seeming further away than ever, formula one's stakeholders must take seriously the threat that either the FOTA teams will simply leave the sport, or attempt to set up a rival championship.

Montezemolo, chairman of the teams' alliance and Ferrari president, warned again that his famous Italian team is prepared to quit the sport if the FIA does not give in to its demands. More ...

Trulli wants to stay in F1 with Toyota  (GMM)  As David Coulthard retired and Rubens Barrichello's future looked shaky over the winter off-season, Jarno Trulli nearly sped onto the front row as one of the oldest drivers in formula one.

Ultimately, Brazilian veteran Barrichello, 37, retained his seat, and Giancarlo Fisichella is eighteen months older than Trulli.

But as he approaches his 35th birthday, the Italian's advancing years are triggering speculation about his future, worsened by the uncertainty about the future of his team.

Trulli, however, insists he is not contemplating retirement.

"Racing is part of my life," he told the British tabloid Daily Express.  "If you take this away I am having trouble because the fire is too much; it still burns."

Trulli, now with more than 200 grands prix and 13 seasons of F1 behind him, said he doesn't plan to leave Toyota.

"I will stay on here because I have delivered the first podium and pole position already for the team.  So my next target is clear," he said. More ...

1997 title rivals can't shake racing bug  
Villeneuve in 1995 while still in CART
(GMM)  They may both have left formula one in 2006, but former championship rivals Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve are no closer to shaking the motor racing bug.

Schumacher, the record-holding seven time world champion, recently contested a weekend of club racing at his own Kerpen kart track, and last week was back on the saddle of a two-wheeled racer.

Germany's Bild newspaper reports that the 40-year-old German travelled in his own private jet to the Sachsenring, to test his Honda Superbike in view of returning soon to the German IDM championship.

French Canadian Villeneuve, meanwhile, has signed up to contest a round of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series stock car race at the Autodrome St Eustache oval on July 11. More ...

Updates for Ferrari at Silverstone  After testing the latest components during a straight-line test at Fiorano on Monday, Ferrari is now ready to roll out its most recently developed parts. Felipe Massa will enjoy use of a lighter chassis, so far used only by Räikkönen whose general build makes the Finn the heavier of the two drivers.

Also tested in Italy by Massa - who replaced test driver Marc Gené just one day after the Spaniard's Le Mans 24-Hour win - was a new front wing and secondary parts on the front end of the car. As well as this, new wheel flanges and a new mounting system for them will first be used in England, allowing stopping times to be decreased. The latest suspension geometry parameters will let the car's weight distribution be moved further forwards in a bid to improve overall balance and downforce over the course of a lap whilst, significantly, allowing the Ferrari's tires to reach racing temperatures quicker, both at the start of the race and after pit-stops.
FIA head steward under fire  The FIA's head race steward has come under attack from teams who protest that the man in question, Alan Donnelly, should be ousted from his position. It is believed that no less than eight teams have signed a petition to remove Donnelly from his role for his 'conflict of interest' in Formula One. Having taken over from Tony Scott Andrews for the start of the 2008 season, it is delegate Donnelly who makes the final decision for any stewards' actions imposed upon drivers over the course of a race weekend, such as grid drops or drive-through penalties during races. Revealed by The Guardian on Tuesday, however, it is understood that eight unnamed teams are reported to want desire a replacement of the chief steward, who is the governing body's main representative at Grands Prix.

Described on Tuesday, FOTA's letter to the FIA describes Donnelly's 'conflict of interest' in the sport: More ...
Large upgrade for Force India  Vijay Mallya is content with the way the 2009 season is panning out for the Force India team. Pre-season, team owner Mallya, the man behind Kingfisher, hoped for points by the Spanish Grand Prix although, despite failing to register a score thus far, there have been a number of close shaves for both drivers. This weekend, a number of new components will help to push the team closer to the midfield.

The team's closest chance of scoring its first ever points unfortunately went up in smoke at the Chinese Grand Prix after Adrian Sutil lost control of his car when lying sixth in the closing stages of the race. Q2 qualifying performances by both him and team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella impressed in Monte-Carlo, as did Sutil once again when repeating the feat in Turkey and, with Fisichella having crossed the finish line ninth and less than two seconds away from a point in Monaco, Mallya can now smell success. I’m very pleased," he commented. "I think we've shown excellent progress and in this sport, which is so competitive, it's unreasonable to expect some miraculous results. We made Q2 in Monaco, we made Q2 again in Istanbul, obviously not by chance but on merit, and that is a huge step forward; it's so competitive now and being so close is just part of the game. I would have loved to have had a point - we were just one place away in Monaco and also Australia - but there's always the next race." More ...

More on Benson's Accident  UPDATE Johnny Benson, the Grand Rapids-born  NASCAR driver, is expected to make a complete recovery from injuries suffered in an accident during a SuperModified race Saturday night at his home track, Berlin Raceway.

Benson, the 2008 NASCAR Truck Series champion who recently lost his ride, remains in Spectrum Hospital in fair condition, according to a family statement posted late Monday on his Web site. He suffered broken bones in the upper body and a minor burn on his elbow at the track in Marne, Mich.

After starting deep in the field of the 50-lap feature, Benson was racing to the front when he collided with Larry Lehnert's car entering turn three. Both cars spun toward the outside barrier, but Benson's caught fire. He was extracted from the car, was awake and alert and was transported to the hospital, where he initially was listed in serious but stable condition.

06/14/09 [Following the accident] the Life EMS emergency response crew, along with Berlin Raceway officials and safety team, worked carefully to extract Johnny Benson from his race car. Benson was awake and alert during the process and gave race fans a wave when loaded into the ambulance. "He was pretty sore, but he seemed to be doing well last night when I talked to him," Johnny Benson Sr. said. "The car's driver side hit the wall hard, and it's a testament to the Hans (head and neck safety) device and the safety seat in the supermodified car that held him in place so well. I have to commend the safety crew and ambulance crew at Berlin Raceway for their quick response - they did their job well, putting the fire out quickly and taking care of Johnny." Benson Sr. said the fuel line was cut in two when it was pinched between the rear axle and the frame. The alcohol-based fuel that these supermodified cars use burns blue and very hot, and Benson managed to come out of it with barely any burns due to the quick response by the safety crew. The frame of the car was not bent badly, and all of the safety aspects of the car held up well, which allowed Benson to escape without major injuries. Berlin Raceway PR
Brawn team to debut new wings at Silverstone  Championship leaders Brawn GP will be making best use of new front and rear wings at the British Grand Prix. Having finalized the updates after the last race in Istanbul, the Brackley-based outfit will be using Friday's practice sessions to run the components on track for the first time.

With 96 points and a large gap of 39.5 to second-placed Red Bull Racing, it is likely that the ex-Honda team will mark a century on its tally at Silverstone this weekend. Round 7 was a bittersweet afternoon, however; Jenson Button dominated the race to clinch his sixth win of the season whereas team-mate Rubens Barrichello suffered from gearbox problems and an eventual first ever retirement for the team, breaking its 100% reliability record. More ...

Gordon says Goodyear tires ready for Allstate 400  Four-time Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner Jeff Gordon could not have been more emphatic in his opinion that Goodyear has found a great tire combination for the 2009 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday, July 26.

"I can promise all the fans out there that if they want to come to the Brickyard and see a great race, and be confident that the tires are not going to be an issue, you can trust me," Gordon said.

Gordon, who won the inaugural "400" at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1994 and is today one of the seasoned leaders in the NASCAR garage, was among 12 veteran NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who participated in a Goodyear tire test June 15-16. The drivers tested all day June 15 and took to the track for a busy one-hour, 20-minute test session June 16 before rain ended the day's activities. More ...

Inside track: Iowa Corn 250  Click on the graphic below for storylines, photos, milestones and more regarding the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer and the Iowa 100. The graphic also includes video components such as defending race winner Dan Wheldon talking about the keys to winning at Iowa, a virtual lap around Iowa Speedway with Marco Andretti and a tech piece describing how teams will prepare for the race.

Grand-Am Mid-Ohio preview  Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty seek to make Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 history in Saturday's EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The co-drivers of the No. 99 GAINSCO Pontiac Riley are seeking to become the first Rolex Series drivers to win the same class in the same event in three consecutive years.

The 2009 Rolex Series season reaches the midway point when Round 6 takes the green flag at 5 p.m. ET. The race will be televised live on SPEED.

The opening five rounds have seen four different winners in the Daytona Prototype class, with four teams within six points of the lead. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas are tied for first with SunTrust Racing's Max Angelelli and Brian Frisselle. Tied for third, six points behind (140-134), are Gurney and Fogarty, along with Penske Racing pilots Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard. Rolex 24 winners Darren Law and David Donohue of Brumos Porsche are another seven points back with 127 points. More ...

Gordon expects chaos on Sunday  Five-time Infineon Raceway winner Jeff Gordon expects the new double-file restart rule to create interesting scenarios on and off the track Sunday in the Toyota/SaveMart 350. Gordon, a native of nearby Vallejo, has finished fourth and second in the first two races since NASCAR introduced double-file restarts to its top division. But those two races did not feature a late-race restart, the outcome instead decided by fuel mileage. This weekend, the driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet does not know what to expect – except havoc.

“I’m anxious to get through it and see how it works out,” said Gordon. “I think Pocono and Michigan were two good tracks for NASCAR to try out the double-file restart rule, but I think it’s going to create some havoc here. “The drivers may need to rethink how we’ve raced in the past. We’re going to need to figure out how to get through the first set of corners on each double- file restart. But, at the same time, we’re going to be battling even harder and more intense for each position. And sometimes that leads to more mistakes and more accidents. “Then off the track, our crew chiefs are also going to have work through some interesting scenarios with pit strategy.” More ...

NASCAR says Mayfield expert lied  NASCAR has filed a motion in federal court that says an expert witness for suspended driver Jeremy Mayfield lied about his credentials. The motion was filed Tuesday. It claims Dr. Harvey MacFenerstein falsely represented himself on six counts in a May 29 affidavit presented on behalf of Mayfield, who was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR after failing a drug test. NASCAR says MacFenerstein does not have the medical degrees or certifications he listed in his qualifications. In his testimony about NASCAR's drug-testing policy, MacFenerstein said the policy is flawed and does not meet federal workplace guidelines. His findings were the basis of Mayfield's argument that he should be immediately reinstated.  Associated Press
Force India unlikely to debut KERS in 2009  (GMM)  It is increasingly unlikely that Force India will fit a KERS system to its 2009 formula one package.

The Silverstone based team had intended to begin using Mercedes' energy re-use solution at the Nurburgring, but Adrian Sutil now admits that the KERS debut will "certainly not" take place at either of the next two races.

"If the performance of the KERS teams is analyzed, it (KERS) seems to be no great advantage," the German driver is quoted as saying on Tuesday by Auto Motor und Sport.

Sutil added that to run with KERS at either Britain or the subsequent event in Germany would be "just too soon".

The team's commercial director Ian Phillips agreed, saying that Force India wants to assess the merits of "major aerodynamic updates" separate from other significant changes.

Mercedes' Norbert Haug added: "I do not know if they (Force India) want to use KERS this season."

F1 crisis continues to spiral out of control  (GMM)  F1's political crisis continued to spiral out of control on Tuesday, as the FIA reiterated that elements of the FOTA team alliance seem determined to hinder the quest for compromise.

The FIA's financial experts met with their counterparts of the formula one teams association on Monday, but FOTA refused even to discuss the budget cap.

"As a result, the meeting could not achieve its purpose of comparing the FIA's rules with the FOTA proposals with a view to finding a common position," said the governing body in a statement.

With four days until the 19 June deadline, it seems increasingly clear that neither side will back down, and that major teams including Ferrari and McLaren will not enter the 2010 world championship.

In addition to its statement about the Monday meeting, the FIA released a nearly 3000 word statement chronicling the dispute with FOTA, and also reams of letter correspondence between the Paris body, Ferrari and the Italian team's lawyers. More ...

FIA to keep £40 million budget cap  The FIA says that its plans for a £40 million budget cap will now go ahead unchanged, after the latest talks between the governing body and the Formula One Teams’ Association (FOTA) to try and find a compromise ended without a deal.

A statement issued by the FIA on Tuesday said: “As agreed at the meeting of 11 June, FIA financial experts met yesterday with financial experts from FOTA.

“Unfortunately, the FOTA representatives announced that they had no mandate to discuss the FIA’s 2010 financial regulations. Indeed, they were not prepared to discuss regulation at all.

“As a result, the meeting could not achieve its purpose of comparing the FIA’s rules with the FOTA proposals with a view to finding a common position.

“In default of a proper dialogue, the FOTA financial proposals were discussed but it became clear that these would not be capable of limiting the expenditure of a team which had the resources to outspend its competitors. Another financial arms race would then be inevitable.

“The FIA Financial Regulations therefore remain as published.”

So the FOTA teams have 3 choices:
1) Fall in line with budget cap, 2) Start their own series, 3) Pound Sand

A lap of Silverstone with Jenson Button  
British F1 Championship leader Jenson Button describes his ideal lap around Silverstone.

"We start along the main straight in seventh gear into Copse, a fast right-hander, which you take in sixth gear.

"It is a completely blind corner as part of the pit wall sticks out and you can't see where the exit is as the circuit dips away, so it is pretty exciting.

"Next is Maggots, a very quick chicane. You carry a lot of speed through here, lifting slightly off the power on the second apex before braking for Becketts, a fifth-gear right hander.

"You take as much curb on the inside of Becketts as you can before you go down to fourth or third gear for the approach to one of the maddest corners in Formula One.

"Chapel is a flat-out corner, one where the change of direction is out of this world, and it is the one place where you still feel the true speed of an F1 car.

"Then you are onto the long, back straight - Hangar Straight. You can exceed 200mph here in seventh gear before you have to brake for entry into Stowe, which can be a possible overtaking opportunity. More ...

British Grand Prix Preview Q+A - Pascal Vasselon  
Pascal Vasselon
So, Silverstone is all about speed?
Yes that is true, however there is a kind of paradox at Silverstone because it is a circuit which requires high aerodynamic efficiency and the average speed is high but it is still all about corners; albeit very fast corners. It is not like Monza, which is high speed but all about the long straights, so it is not the case that good top speed will automatically deliver fast lap times.

What special demands does the Maggotts/Becketts complex place on the car and driver?
This section is technically difficult for the drivers because it starts very quick and gets a little tighter, with several very high-speed changes of direction. As with all circuits it is important to have good ultimate grip but at Silverstone the car's transient handling is a dominant factor as well, and that is largely due to this section of track. It is crucial that a driver feels confident with the direction changes at high speeds so we focus a lot on making the car very drivable through this section.

How does this section affect the tires?
These corners are very demanding for the tire construction because they are long and are taken at high speed, which means very high loads. Nowadays we don't need to worry too much about that, we just have to optimize tire pressures and camber to make sure we don't overstress the construction. But when we had competition between tire manufacturers it was a real concern because the tires were operating closer to their limits. From a tire point of view, as with the chassis at Silverstone, stability factors like cornering stiffness are actually just as important as ultimate grip. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Still no debut date for Williams KERS
  • Brawn confident team will race in 2010
  • Button pulled out of triathlon
  • Le Mans invites F1 teams to switch
  • Lauda blames egos for 'absurd' F1 feud
  • FIA hits back at FOTA's Donnelly jibe

Still no debut date for Williams KERS
(GMM)  Williams is still yet to set a date for the debut of its KERS system in 2009.

The Grove team said earlier this year that at least six or seven races would pass until it deployed the energy re-use technology.

"We're still pushing as hard as we can to get our KERS onto the FW31," technical director Sam Michael said this week, ahead of the British grand prix, round eight of the world championship.

Williams took a novel approach to the KERS implementation, buying into a hybrid power company and designing a mechanical flywheel solution that is said to be safer and less expensive than the more popular battery-based systems.

"We're developing both the flywheel and the battery systems," Michael clarified, "but we've put more effort into the flywheel program over the last 18 months and we're making progress on reliability every week.

"We want to race it as soon as possible, but we're not going to put it on the car until it's fully reliable," the Australian added.

Brawn confident team will race in 2010
(GMM)  Initially with a budget only for 2009, and as yet not officially signed up to race next year, Ross Brawn is nonetheless confident his championship-leading team will still be around next season.

"I'm completely confident (we will be), and you have to plan on that," the Briton, who headed the Brackley outfit's management buyout following the Honda withdrawal, told the British media this week.

Brawn GP's results success stirred the interest of corporate backers, but as yet no major deals have been inked: probably predominantly due to the sponsors' nervousness about the political crisis. More ...

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