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European GP: Thursday Press Conference  
Drivers: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes), Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber), Christian Klien (Honda), Nico Rosberg (Williams), Ralf Schumacher (Toyota), Adrian Sutil (Spyker).

Q. Christian, you drove both the Honda and the Spyker at the Spa test; what was that like?

Christian Klien: Well, it was obviously a great experience to drive two different cars on one track in one test. Spyker invited me for a test just to get to know the team, get to know the car as well.

Obviously testing is very restricted this year for a test driver, so it's important to get as much time in the car as possible so we sat down with Honda and asked them if there was a possibility to test with Spyker and they agreed, they were very supportive, and they loaned me to Spyker for this test day.

It was a very interesting test and obviously there's maybe a chance to do some racing for them this year.

Q. What chances are there of a race drive next year?

CK: It's all very open. I've done the test with Spyker, so it's down to them if they give me the chance to race for them this year. With Honda, we have to see. You will know in one hour.

Q. Ralf, again, testing looked pretty good at Spa, fourth fastest on the first two days.

Ralf Schumacher: We seem to pick up pace, especially on those kind of circuits. Spa is another quick circuit which seems to suit our car. Obviously we have to wait and see how it is here but it shouldn't be too bad either. More ...

Electronics' role in the future of F1  Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro comes to the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, following on from back to back victories for Kimi Raikkonen in the French and British races. The Finn got off to a great start to the season, winning the opening race of the year in Melbourne, although after that he revealed that he was finding it hard adapting to some aspects of driving the F2007.

One area that is always different for a driver coming in from another team is electronics and Dieter Gundel, Ferrari's Head of Race Track Electronics explains what exactly these difficulties can be. "The difference comes from two sides: the first is the interface between the driver and the car, in terms of the display he sees on the steering wheel and the array of buttons he has to push," begins Gundel. "This is a big learning curve for a new driver, because operating these functions must be second nature and come almost automatically, as his main job is to actually drive the car. He has to be able to operate these functions 'blind.' The second element is simply how much a driver has to be involved in optimizing the car in terms of the various strategies and again, different teams have different philosophies in this respect. For Kimi, this was a big change, because at Ferrari, we involve him a lot in setting up the car and maximizing its performance. We ask his opinion on many aspects and offer him a variety of changes and we have to rely on his feedback, while he has to rely on our advice. This is a relationship that has to build in confidence and I think we are nearly there now with Kimi." More ...
McLaren too honest to be spies - Hamilton  (GMM)  Lewis Hamilton may be a formula one rookie but he says his mentor Ron Dennis' McLaren team would never stoop to spying.

On Thursday at the Nurburgring, the drivers' world championship leader said he was not worried about possible sanctions that could come out of the FIA's World Council meeting next week.

"I do feel they are one of the most honest teams out there," he told reporters, after new reports suggested that suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan was tipped off by Nigel Stepney earlier this season about Ferrari's dubious moveable floor.

As for the upcoming hearing, at which Woking based McLaren must answer a charge of possessing or even using sensitive Ferrari data, Hamilton said: "I know the team are working hard on it.

"There are always teams trying to bend the rules in some way, but I honestly believe we are the most honest.  For me, I believe we will be all right."

Ethanol may create more problems than first thought  As the automotive industry continues the debate regarding which alternative fuel should replace gasoline, some scientists have been studying the effects and environmental impacts of those alternatives in question. As Neil Winton of Detroit News Online states, “evidence continues to mount that car manufacturers are barking up the wrong tree with their push to convince motorists that ethanol-powered cars are a great way to pursue a green agenda.”

In Europe, some car makers including Saab, Ford and Volvo, have been making claims that burning ethanol made from sugar or corn derivatives will cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80%. These claims are being called into question. Some experts have pointed out that taking into account the whole lifecycle of renewable crops, with the substitution of land currently used for food, plus the extra fertilizer, water, transportation and energy needed to convert it into industrial alcohol, the likely result is that more CO2 will be emitted than from conventional fossil fuel.

In Sweden, buyers are offered everything from a $1,460 subsidy to lower fuel taxes to free parking and no road tolls to encourage the purchase of ethanol-powered vehicles and still sales are behind those of diesel-powered vehicles. One of the main reasons: diesel engines offer more than a 50% improvement in fuel consumption over ethanol power. Peter Schmidt, editor of Automotive Industry Data (A.I.D.) says that “cars modified to run on E85 consume, on average, between 20 and 30 percent more fuel than those operating on gasoline.” Sweden currently has a plan to become fully energy self-sufficient by 2020, with renewable fuels accounting for the majority. The country is pushing to have 25% of its gas stations providing ethanol by 2008. Currently, less than 1% of all stations there provide ethanol. More ...

Honda confirm Button and Barrichello for '08  The Honda Racing F1 Team can confirm that Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello will remain as team-mates for a third consecutive year when they race together for Honda in 2008.

The team will benefit from the stability and wealth of experience that Jenson and Rubens bring, as it works towards an improved second half of the 2007 season and looks forward to a more competitive 2008.

2008 will be Jenson's sixth year as a Honda driver, having joined the team in 2003. Rubens, who came to the team in 2006, will be entering his third season. 

Jenson Button
"Although we are still very firmly focused on the current season, I am excited about the opportunity that we have for 2008. It goes without saying that 2007 has been extremely frustrating but over the past few races we have gradually started to see some improvement. We have not had the performance to be competitive this year but what we do have is a very solid team of people which has been boosted recently by some key new appointments. Every team has good times and bad and I am confident that our recent difficulties are now behind us and that next year looks promising."

Rubens Barrichello
"I am delighted to confirm that I am staying with Honda for 2008. When I came here in 2006, it was always my intention to develop a long-term relationship and help build a strong team together. 2007 has been tough so far but I believe we are heading in the right direction again. In addition to the great team we have already, there are some good new people coming on board and I have confidence that we will make progress now. Jenson and I have a great relationship together as team-mates and stability will be key as we look forward to the challenge of 2008. For now though, we have eight races remaining and that is where our focus lies."

Champ Car Assen race in danger?  UPDATE #2 Not that it will stop the race but AutoRacing1.com has confirmed that Jacques Kremer did file his lawsuit against race promoter Bart Rietbergen this week.

07/08/07 Head of Public Relations for Champ Car, David Higdon, told AutoRacing1.com that he does not expect this lawsuit, if it materializes, to stop the race, which as you can imagine, is selling a lot of race tickets and suites due to the recent success of Robert Doornbos, Sebastien Bourdais and other drivers from Europe in Champ Car.  Until now Bart Rietbergen and Champ Car have not been notified of the lawsuit.

07/08/07 A former consultant to Champ Car Europe race organizer Bart Rietbergen (pictured right talking to Champ Car driver Robert Doornbos) wants, by means of a court order (injunction), to stop the Champ Car race in Assen because the commercial rights holder refuses pay him for breach of contract and refusal by Rietbergen to cure and live up to his commitments.

Jacques Kremer says his lawyer has filed a $2.6 million lawsuit in court. The Frenchman is a former top man at Eurosport and ESPN International and manager of the Dutch driver Nicky Pastorelli.

The lawsuit charges there were several breaches of the contract and that Rietbergen tried to exclude Kremer when it was he who brought the whole deal to Champ Car and Rietbergen.

"I have no problem with Champ Car or any particular person at Champ Car," Kremer told AutoRacing1.com when we phoned him. "I want the races in Holland and Belgium to happen and to be successful, but I want Rietbergen to live up to the contract. I am simply defending my own interests.

"As a side note you should know that Nicky Pastorelli could not live up to his commitments to Rocketsports last year and this year because Rietbergen did not live up to his commitments to support him."

We contacted Rietbergen who would only say, "I am not aware of any lawsuit against me from Jacques Kremer. I have, however, sent a letter to Kremer asking him to fulfill his obligations to promote the event and find sponsors and he is not doing that." Mark C.

Q and A with Sebastien Bourdais  Three-time Champ Car World Series champion, Sebastien Bourdais tested at Spa in Belgium last week for Scuderia Toro Rosso. Bridgestone caught up with him for the latest Racing all over the World podcast and here he chats about that two-day test, explains why he would still like to move to Formula 1 and lots, lots more…

Racing all over the World:
Sebastien at the moment you are three points off the lead in the race for this year's Champ Car World Series drivers' title, how much of a distraction is it for you to come to Europe to test an F1 car?

Sebastien Bourdais:
It is a lot of fun. Obviously you don't get the chance to test at Spa in a Formula 1 car everyday. It was a great opportunity and even though the weather isn't exactly great, it is still very enjoyable. We have been able to test in all sorts of different conditions - wet, intermediate and dry. It was very interesting.

Racing all over the World:
It sounds like you have been busy. Can you give us any more details on what you have been doing with Toro Rosso and how it has gone?


It was all about trying to evaluate what kind of downforce level is going to be appropriate for the race weekend [here in September] - and since it is the first time with the V8 cars around here, there were quite a few things to learn. From my point of view, I am just driving and giving feed-back on the different configurations they go through. I am also trying to judge: ‘What is the correct tire, at the right time and in which condition'. The conditions have been changing very rapidly and that has made it very interesting too. More ...
Schu knows more about Ferrari spy scandal  (GMM) Michael Schumacher on Thursday refused to comment in detail about the espionage scandal involving his former chief mechanic.

Until he retired as a racing driver at the end of last season, the 38-year-old had a close relationship at Ferrari with the now sacked Nigel Stepney, who is the subject of criminal proceedings which also pursue him for suspected sabotage.

Schumacher told the newspaper Bild: "Unfortunately with large companies there are always unpleasant moments such as these."

The German, a close friend and confidant of Ferrari principal Jean Todt, refused to go into further detail because he admitted he knows more than the public does about the case.

Schumacher confirmed: "Yes. But in these sorts of matters you cannot talk as openly as perhaps you would like. Unfortunately."

While hardly leaping to the defense of his former chief mechanic, then, Schumacher did say that he thought his struggling brother Ralf could weather the storm of 2007 and emerge with a formula one seat next year.

"I am completely sure about it," Michael, who is six years older than his brother, said, "and I know at which teams there are spare places.

"Fortunately there are enough team bosses who still appreciate what experience is worth. Everyone will soon see the old Ralf Schumacher again.

"Clearly he has to sort a few things out, because if your teammate is faster, then you simply must work harder on your own car.

"But Ralf knows where his problems lie."

Schumacher laughed when he asked if he had given Ralf any advice on his visits to the formula one paddock so far.

"You know my brother," he said.

"Seriously, we chatted in Canada quite a bit and I told him some of my thoughts about what I had seen on the tracks."

Barrichello inks deal to stay at Honda in '08  (GMM) The news is yet to be confirmed by the Japanese team, but Rubens Barrichello has signed a new one-year contract to keep racing for Honda in 2008.

The 35-year-old, who is the most experienced driver on the grid albeit younger than David Coulthard, revealed ahead of the European grand prix that he will stay on for a third consecutive season with the Brackley based outfit.

"When I came here in 2006, it was always my intention to develop a long-term relationship and help build a strong team together," Barrichello, 35, who switched from Ferrari at the end of the 2005 season, said on Thursday.

2007 has been an uncompetitive season for the Honda team, but Barrichello also indicated that current teammate Jenson Button will be honoring his long-term deal into next year.

He said: "Jenson and I have a great relationship together as team-mates and stability will be key as we look forward to the challenge of 2008.

"For now though, we have eight races remaining and that is where our focus lies."

Hunter-Reay Joins Rahal Letterman Racing  HILLIARD, Ohio – Rahal Letterman Racing today announces that American open-wheel and sportscar race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay will take over as the driver of the team’s #17 Ethanol-sponsored car in the IndyCar Series, effective immediately.

“We have made important strides in our IndyCar program this year and we feel like this is something that we needed to do to maintain that pattern of improvement and growth,” said RLR co-owner Bobby Rahal. “Jeff stepped into a difficult situation last season and did a lot for our team and our sponsors, but we feel at this time, that this is the right move for the long-term future of Rahal Letterman Racing.”

Hunter-Reay worked his way up the American open-wheel ladder, having great success at every level. He began his career by winning six national karting championships before moving onto the Skip Barber program, where he was rookie-of-the-year in the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 2000. He moved to Toyota Atlantic competition in 2002, and led the series with three race wins and three poles, while also pacing the championship in laps led. The performance caught the attention of road-racing ace Stefan Johansson, who hired Ryan to drive for his first-year Champ Car World Series squad in 2003. More ...

Around the Nurburgring with Adrian Sutil  Spyker rookie driver Adrian Sutil heads into his home grand prix this weekend hopeful of a strong showing in front of his loyal local fans. One of just five German’s on this year’s grid, it will be a special occasion as he lines up for the first home race and here he talks us around a lap of the famous Nurburgring circuit….

Traction is very important at the Nurburgring, and during the race it’s very hard for the rear tires. We’ve had nine dry races this year, and it would be very interesting to have a wet race now. At the Nurburgring the weather can change very quickly! I’m happy with both options, but I think our chances will better if it rains…

The first corner is a tight hairpin. You’re braking a little bit blind because it goes over a little bump, you can’t really see the apex. You brake very late and go down to second gear. It’s quite an interesting corner for the start, as normally there’s always an accident! Then you go in the new Mercedes arena. It’s a very tricky sector, because there’s a lefthander that’s blind, and you can’t really see when you have to turn in. Then you go downhill and brake for the next lefthander, which is second gear. It’s a really tight one and it’s very important to have a good exit for the following right-hander, which is flat. Then you go on a small straight, so you need to carry a lot of speed.

You are now back on the old circuit, and you come to a complex. There’s a really quick lefthander down the hill, taken in fifth gear, followed by the right-hander which is in third. You have to make a compromise, either going in very fast into the first one, or going in a little bit slower in the first one and then carrying a lot of speed out of the second one onto the straight. There are always two different lines. I think they’re both nearly the same, but it’s not the easiest combination. More ...

Hamilton shaking off the 'flu  (GMM)  Championship leader Lewis Hamilton has arrived in Germany for the European grand prix hoping to shake off a bout of the 'flu.

The McLaren rookie, who leads the drivers' standings by 12 points from his teammate Fernando Alonso, is taking medication but tried to play down the illness at a Vodafone sponsor event on Thursday.

"I've just caught a bit of 'flu, but it's okay," Hamilton, 22, was quoted as saying by PA Sport before taking to a circuit in a McLaren-liveried go-kart.

The Briton continued: "I don't think it's going to be a problem.  Trust me, I'm a lot better now than I was on Monday."

His mood will not have been improved when he arrived at the Nurburgring, which is drenched in the remnants of torrential rain on the eve of opening free practice.

The real reason franchising won't happen in NASCAR  When Texas businessman Red McCombs bought the NFL's Minnesota Vikings in 1998, he paid $246 million -- a relatively modest sum for a franchise in the nation's premier sports league. Two years ago, after being unable to broker a deal for a new stadium, he sold the team. He walked away with $600 million, a profit of $354 million on his original investment.

That's the big upside to franchising, a system of ownership prevalent in most major North American sports leagues, and a practice that has yet to find a place in NASCAR. Yes, team owners have to pay big to get in; Charlotte food-service mogul Jerry Richardson paid a $140 million franchise fee to land the Carolina Panthers in 1993. But that investment offers a certain level of protection, an asset that can be traded in when times are tough. When Quebec Nordiques principal owner Marcel Aubut found himself strapped for cash in one of the NHL's smallest markets in 1994, he still walked away with $103 million after selling to a group of Denver investors.

Owners in NASCAR have no such safety net. They risk losing everything if sponsorship dries up, which is exactly what happened to legendary car owner Bud Moore. The Spartanburg native, who stormed the beach at Normandy in World War II, won a pair of championships in NASCAR's premier division. But when the sponsors went away in the late 1990s, so did Bud Moore Engineering, and all its history. The assets of a team that had fielded cars for Joe Weatherly, Bobby Allison, David Pearson and Dale Earnhardt were sold for pennies on the dollar at auction.

Beyond the natural questions -- how many franchises do you award? What's the franchising fee? Are existing teams grandfathered in? -- there's the natural resistance from NASCAR, which doesn't want to limit who can compete in its sport. Had franchising been in effect, the sanctioning body argues, men like Joe Gibbs might never have had the opportunity to own race teams. Never mind that Gibbs, now that he's part of the sport, is all for franchising. And never mind that directives like the top 35 rule and the impending four-car cap are even more exclusionary than franchising would be.  More at NASCAR.com

Industry News
Japanese automakers assess quake impact  Japan's automakers are assessing the impact on their U.S. assembly plants of a powerful earthquake that shook central Japan on Monday and damaged the facilities of a major supplier.

Toyota Motor Corp. halted production at its Japanese assembly plants today and could not say when it would resume full production.

A spokesman said Toyota's North American operations had not been affected. Except for the pickup plant in Texas, Toyota's North American assembly plants are idled this week for the summer shutdown.

"There's no immediate impact," said Victor Vanov, a spokesman for Toyota's U.S. manufacturing headquarters in Erlanger, Ky. "However, we're investigating."

Riken, whose factory in the city of Kashiwazaki was badly damaged by the 6.8-magnitude earthquake, produces piston rings for engines and transmission components for several Japanese automakers. More at Detroit News

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Winkelhock admits need for Spyker sponsors
  • More McLaren bosses named in spy scandal
  • FIA upset with opinionated F1 steward
  • Alonso could leave McLaren if team guilty
  • Heidfeld set to be a father again
  • Schu unsure about Ferrari role
  • Barrichello welcomes Honda's hiring spree

Winkelhock admits need for Spyker sponsors
(GMM) Reserve driver Markus Winkelhock says he can not afford to drive for Spyker beyond this weekend's Nurburgring race.

The 27-year-old has now been confirmed as Christijan Albers' European grand prix substitute, but a paying driver - either Christian Klien or Narain Karthikeyan - will take over for the final seven events in 2007.

"I am still the test and spare driver," Winkelhock explained to the magazine Auto Motor und Sport.

"Albers' situation means that I can sit in the car at the Nurburgring without a financial offering, but what happens after that, I don't know.

"You would have to ask Colin Kolles, but basically I need to find some sponsors."

Winkelhock also admits that completing a one-off drive alongside highly rated rookie Adrian Sutil, following less than three hours' private testing this year, is a hard task.

"Adrian is really very, very fast -- substantially faster than most could have predicted. He was regularly half a second in front of Albers," he said.

"So I will simply get into the cockpit and give the maximum from myself and from the car."

More McLaren bosses named in spy scandal
(GMM) More high-ranking figures of the McLaren team face being dragged into the 'Stepney-gate' spy scandal.

In his supposedly confidential sworn affidavit provided to Ferrari by English lawyers, the Woking based outfit's suspended chief designer specifically named 'F1 CEO' Martin Whitmarsh as well as engineering director Paddy Lowe.

According to apparently leaked details published in the Italian daily sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, Coughlan also confided in Whitmarsh - who is outranked only by team boss Ron Dennis - and Lowe, and was told by both of his superiors to dispose of the nearly 800-page secret Ferrari dossier.

Team manager Jonathan Neale had already been flagged as being potentially involved both by Coughlan and Ferrari's Italian lawyers.

Even La Gazzetta dello Sport, however, had to admit that "we are into the realms of rumors and whispers".

Nevertheless, the revelation could turn out to have serious implications for McLaren, after the team vehemently declared on Monday that Coughlan's illegal possession of the material "was not known to any other member of the team prior to (3 July)".

Not informing the FIA of suspected espionage is also contrary to the rules.

F1's governing body will examine all of the evidence in an emergency meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in central Paris next Thursday.

"McLaren looks forward to having the opportunity to present the complete and accurate picture of events in the appropriate forum," the team's statement also said. More ...

NASCAR’s Golden Age of Competition is Now  DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Present-day NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races offer closer competition than anytime in history, a new NASCAR statistical analysis has shown.

Taking into account such statistics as cars on the lead lap, average leaders per race and margin of victory, racing since 1970 has become more competitive and more unpredictable than ever.

Consider this: In 1970, 22 of the 48 races “featured” only ONE car on the lead lap at the end of the race. Not since 1994 has a race ended with one car on the lead lap (Geoffrey Bodine at North Wilkesboro).

In the early 1970s, it was common for a race-winner to have a margin of victory of multiple laps. In 1973 at Darlington, for example, David Pearson finished 13 laps ahead of second-place finisher Benny Parsons. Also, in April 1977 at Bristol, Cale Yarborough finished seven laps ahead of runner-up Dick Brooks – and led all but four laps in that race.

Since then, margins of victory have steadily decreased. Unimpeded runs to the checkered flag are a fading memory.

The chart below illustrates the competitive progression of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. More ...

Ginn reveals why he axed Marlin and Nemechek  Wednesday on “The Driver’s Seat,” on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, hosts John Kernan and Buddy Baker spoke with Ginn Racing owner Bobby Ginn about the reasons behind the shakeup involving his #13 and #14 race teams.

Host, John Kernan: “I guess it is all a matter of being able to do business and finding sponsorships. That’s the reason you made the changes with Sterling [Marlin] and Joe [Nemechek]. Is that correct?”

Bobby Ginn: “Yes, I think so. There were a lot of reasons. First of all, I’d like to say that both Sterling and Joe have become friends. I know their families and we feel bad about the situation but at the end of the day there are hundreds of other people that are involved in this team and the strength of the team is what keeps you racing. I think all of you would agree. We started the season off this year and Joe and Sterling and Mark [Martin] did a masterful job of getting our cars into the top 35 and keeping them there. That was our first objective. We started with one car qualified, and it was pretty far down, and two cars unqualified. So the first hurdle we had was to try to get something that was on the track and as we went through the season we were trying to get sponsors and trying to get sponsors that were quality sponsors not just take the first one that came through the door. And as the season got in close to the halfway mark we began to look at the fact that because I was running the car with our name on it I think the world thought that we had third party sponsors. And so I had to make a decision, a decision that I think a lot of teams have had to make over the years and that was to let the world know by running two black cars that we still had inventory available, we had space available. So that started and it helped. We’ve had a lot more activity and a lot more urgency put into that since we did that than we had up to that point. When we bought into the team last year we didn’t get into it until the silly season was over and so talking to sponsors before they did budgets last year was not an option to me. I didn’t have that. So most of the sponsors we talked to this year were talking about not this year but they were talking about ’08. And I was running three cars in the top 35 and I still had inventory so I ran that and that helped. I heard the end of Joe’s interview and he’s right. There’s a lot of activity out there and a lot going on right now so we’re scrambling like we should be to try to fill up that inventory. More ...

Bet on it, when Champ Car comes to town so does bad press  The Champ Car World Series comes to Edmonton in July, makes a lot of noise and disappears for a year. And that's not the only way it resembles a circus.

The three ringleaders who own Champ Car - Kevin Kalkhoven, Gerald Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi - have spent gobs of money trying to keep their heads out of the lion's mouth for the past three years. Now that talk of a lifesaving merger with the Indy Racing League is dead, they treat their rival like the elephant in the corner. And they do a lot of juggling - of finances and personnel - at head office.

But as often as it looks like they might have to fold the tent, here they come again, parading their cars through the streets of North America. Will they be back in 2008? Sounds like it. Will they be bigger and better next year? That's what we're always told. Champ Car president Steve Johnson regularly hints at two new teams, 20-car grids, four races in Europe to make it 18 in total and a title sponsor for the entire series by 2008.

Some of it might actually come to fruition. But in auto racing, it's safer to believe in fast cars rather than fast-talking executives. What we know for sure is this: the circus comes to Edmonton this weekend with 17 cars, down one from last year. This is the eighth race of a 15-race schedule, up one from last year but down one from the start of the season. More at Edmonton Journal

[Editor's Note: Like clockwork, you can bet when Champ Car is in town the local media will write bad things about the series in an effort to kill off the event. Some say it's Baghdad Bob doing what he does best. He is good at it.]

Video: Former F1 Driver examines physical challenges drivers face  This feature is the first in a series of Formula One Insights produced by the UK's F1 rights holder, ITV, in association with the AT&T Williams team. With state-of-the-art CGI (computer generated animation) content, this series of vignettes are intended to explore a variety of Formula One subjects in investigative depth. In this feature, Martin Brundle, former F1 driver and TV pundit, investigates the physical effects of driving a Formula One car by undergoing a series of assessments at QinetiQ's human performance laboratories in Farnborough, UK, including G loading in a human centrifuge. See video on Home Page
Alonso: McLaren want Lewis to win  Fernando Alonso has threatened to re-fire tensions with McLaren mere days ahead of the team's home British grand prix.

Lagging his rookie teammate Lewis Hamilton by 14 points, the reigning world champion said his Woking based bosses would prefer if the British superstar won this Sunday at Silverstone.

"I think that, yes, they will prefer that and I don't think there will be any argument (about it)," Alonso, 25, said.

"We will be in England and we have a Spanish driver and an English driver and the Englishman is leading the championship.

"So if he wins it will help the team. The team wanted me to win in Barcelona and they will want Hamilton to win at Silverstone, but I hope things will get back to being how they were in Barcelona."

Cytosport back in LMP1  Team Cytosport is returning to the American Le Mans Series this weekend at Mid-Ohio for the Acura Sports Car Challenge. The Benicia, Calif., -based team made its Series debut in April at Long Beach and has tested since then to prepare itself for the rest of 2007.

Klaus Graf and team owner Greg Pickett shook down Cytosport’s AER-powered Lola B06/10 on Monday at Putnam Park near Indianapolis, a session that proved successful according to team manager Jim Dunford.

“We ended up running until 8:00 pm to really get a feel for running into dusk conditions and seeing what affect the cooling track temps had on grip and tire wear,” Dunford said. “Tire testing was conducted to see how the car reacted with various compounds and much data was gathered. We are pleased with the performance of the Dunlop tires and are getting the balance of the car closer and closer with every test.” More ...

Gibbs releases Almirola  Joe Gibbs Racing has granted Aric Almirola his release, allowing the development driver to compete for Ginn Racing in select Nextel Cup and Busch Series races this year. Almirola will still compete for JGR in the five remaining Busch Series races that were a part of his original 2007 racing schedule. In 2008, Almirola’s entire racing slate will come via Ginn Racing. Joe Gibbs Racing PR
Q and A with Marcus Winkelhock  
Q. You now have the opportunity to race the F8-VII. How does that feel?

Markus Winkelhock: I was very surprised to get the call from Colin as I did not think that I would have this chance! But obviously I am very, very pleased to be able to race this weekend. It's now the only German race on the calendar, so I am excited to be make my race debut in front of so many German spectators.

Q. You are very familiar with the Nurburgring too - what does it mean to you to be racing in front of your home crowd?

MW: I know the track very well from Formula Renault, Formula Three and DTM, which will be an advantage going into the race as I do not have so many kilometers in the car. Making my race debut at this track in particular though will be very important personally for myself and my family. This was the last track my father raced a Formula 1 car on before he died; now I can make my Formula 1 debut on the last track he ever raced on in F1.

Q. How did your family react when you told them?

MW: My mother was a bit emotional - she is clearly very happy that I can achieve something I have wanted for so long, but obviously a little nervous too. I think all parents are like that though! She will watch the race on TV I think rather than coming to the track. More ...

Labonte to drive for Waltrip in Allstate 400  Terry Labonte, NASCAR's 1984 and 1996 Cup champion, will drive the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota next week in the Allstate 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Labonte is guaranteed a spot in the field with a past champion's provisional. Waltrip has qualified for only four races this year, and Labonte drover the car into the field at Infineon Raceway last month without having to use a provisional.

The team also plans on using Labonte in the Watkins Glen road race in August.

The Indianapolis race is arguably the second highest profile race of the Nextel Cup season right behind the Daytona 500.

"While we've planned to bring Terry back for the Watkins Glen road course event, I felt having him in the car next weekend at Indianapolis would be a great opportunity for me to continue to evaluate my entire organization from an owner's perspective," owner/driver Waltrip said in a statement. "The feedback related to road course racing that Terry was able to provide my team after Infineon Raceway was very valuable. We look forward to more of the same input after Indy."

racing news
SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking  
Updated 7-18-07

Pos.  (LW) Driver (Series)                     Pts
1. (3) Dario Franchitti (IRL)                  7.762
2. (2) Lewis Hamilton (F1)                     7.710
3. (5) Scott Dixon (IRL)                       7.690
4. (4) Carl Edwards (NASCAR)                   7.670
5. (NR) Tony Stewart (NASCAR)                  7.663
6. (1) Jeff Gordon (NASCAR)                    7.295
7. (8) Kimi Raikkonen (F1)                     7.182
8. (9) Fernando Alonso (F1)                    7.168
9. (23) Kevin Harvick (NASCAR)                 7.136
10. (14) Matt Kenseth (NASCAR)                 7.059
11. (6) Will Power (CCWS)                      6.911
12. (17) Jeff Burton (NASCAR)                  6.805
13. (22) Denny Hamlin (NASCAR)                 6.661
14. (7) Kyle Busch (NASCAR)                    6.632
15. (13) Clint Bowyer (NASCAR)                 6.579
16. (24) Casey Mears (NASCAR)                  6.541
17. (12) Sebastien Bourdais (CCWS)             6.394
18. (19) Ryan Newman (NASCAR)                  6.353
19. (16) Kurt Busch (NASCAR)                   6.319
20. (15) Justin Wilson (CCWS)                  6.167

Dropped out: Martin Truex Jr. (NASCAR), Jamie McMurray (NASCAR), Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR), Tony Kanaan (IRL)

Provided by STATS Inc.
Current year results, last 10 races, last five races and last race are factored in equally, with an adjustment factor to compensate for the series different scoring systems. In addition, a competition difficulty factor has been included to balance the competitive depth of each series.

Formula BMW
Formula BMW World Final returns to Valencia  The venue and date for the Formula BMW World Final 2007 have been confirmed. The high point of the season for the four international Formula BMW series will take place at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain from 22nd - 25th November. The event will see the world wide leading Formula BMW drivers battling it out for overall victory - and a prize which would be a dream of every up-and-coming young racing driver: a Formula One test with the BMW Sauber F1 Team.

This will be the second year in succession that the circuit on Spain's Mediterranean coast has hosted the spectacular climax to the Formula BMW season. "The Formula BMW World Final 2006 in Valencia was a big success," recalls BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen. "The drivers, teams, partners and sponsors were really excited about the event, so we are delighted to be returning to Spain this year. Valencia is a very special place for us, somewhere we always like to go back to. The Team Launch for the BMW Sauber F1 Team took place there at the start of the year, as has Formula One testing. Plus, Valencia is home to the Formula BMW Racing Center, hosts World Touring Car Championship races and formed the backdrop for this year's America's Cup. The Spanish city has become something of a second home for us." More ...

industry news
GM Announces big Investment for Argentina and Brazil  General Motors Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner announced today that the company will invest $500 million in its operations in Argentina and Brazil for the development of a new generation of small vehicles for Latin America and other emerging markets. The investment also includes the expansion of GM's Brazilian product development center.
Euro F3
VW returns to F3 as an engine supplier  Formula 3 comeback for Volkswagen: The German automobile manufacturer aims to continue its successful tradition as engine supplier in the talent school of formula racing with a newly developed two-liter engine.

Volkswagen celebrated 92 wins alone in the German Formula 3 Championship between 1979 and 1991, and claimed numerous other wins on the international stage. The new power unit will debut at the seventh round of the Formula 3 Euroseries at the Nürburgring between 31 August and 2 September 2007.
"Volkswagen won innumerable races and championships in Formula 3 during the nineteen-eighties and at the beginning of the nineteen-nineties and, as a result, proved impressively the performance of its power units,” explains Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of the Volkswagen Brand with responsibility for Development. "Even today, Formula 3 is an excellent platform to present production-based engine technologies. We want to take on this demanding competition."
"Volkswagen has been committed to promoting young talent for many decades, returning to Formula 3 is therefore the logical continuation of this commitment. The ADAC Volkswagen Polo Cup represents the first step in motorsport for novices, Formula 3 is the springboard to professional racing in the highest motorsport categories such as the DTM, Le Mans and even Formula 1,” adds Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen.

industry news
Japan earthquake halts Toyota production  Toyota Motor (TM) said Wednesday it will halt production at all its factories in Japan for the rest of the week because of quake-induced damage at a major parts supplier. The temporary closure of auto parts maker Riken's plant at Kashiwazaki city, near the epicenter of Monday's magnitude 6.8 quake, forced the halt, Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco said. Toyota will assess the situation at Riken, which supplies key transmission and engine parts to Toyota, before deciding whether to resume production on Monday, Nolasco said.
Spyker confirms Winkelhock  It will be a slightly revised Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One Team that takes to the track for the European Grand Prix, the tenth event of the year, this week. Adrian Sutil and Markus Winkelhock will complete driving duties for the team this weekend, making Spyker the only team in the paddock to run an all-German line-up.

In front of his home crowd, Markus, the son of the late Formula 1 driver Manfred Winkelhock, will be making his Formula 1 race debut. The 27-year-old from Stuttgart has previously competed in the DTM, finishing ninth in the last race of the highly competitive series in Mugello, and has also experienced success in German Formula 3 and World Series by Renault. In both this and last year's FIA Formula One World Championship, Markus has been the team's test and reserve driver, most recently testing the F8-VII at a test in Paul Ricard.

Team Q&A
Colin Kolles, team principal and managing director
Are you excited by the driver pairing you will be running for this weekend's race?
Markus has been a very popular and respected member of the team and has contributed much to the test and development of the car and I think the pairing is strong. I am very pleased that Markus has the opportunity to race the Spyker this weekend. It is very fitting that he has the chance to finally race after being the team's reserve driver for the past two years, particularly in front of his home crowd in Germany. I believe that in Adrian and Markus we have a young, dynamic line-up who are hungry for success and will fight to achieve the best results they can.

Is this the permanent driver line-up for the rest of the year?
At present Markus is only confirmed for the European Grand Prix and we will review the situation once more after the weekend. We are still considering other drivers for the permanent role, Markus is obviously still one of them. More ...

industry news
Honda to increase N. American production  Honda Motor Co. is increasing production capacity in North America and elsewhere to keep up with growing demand for its fuel-efficient cars and to maintain the momentum for global growth, the company’s president said Wednesday.
Annual production in North America will reach 1.62 million vehicles by the fall of 2008 from the current 1.4 million, President Takeo Fukui told reporters. The maker of Accord and Acura cars would also boost production capacity in other parts of the world, he said.

Honda, Japan’s No. 2 automaker behind Toyota Motor Corp., plans to build a second auto plant in Thailand and its first auto plant in Argentina, and it is setting up a research and development center in China to build models especially to appeal to that growing market, Fukui said.

In North America, a new auto plant in Indiana, Honda’s seventh in North America, is set to begin production in late 2008, he said.

Later this year, a plant in Mexico will start making the CR-V sport utility vehicle, raising annual production capacity from 30,000 vehicles to 50,000 vehicles, he said.

Demand has been healthy for Honda’s cars with a reputation for good mileage, such as the Fit subcompact and CR-V, at a time when gas prices are soaring. But competition has also been intensifying among the automakers to cut costs and develop environmentally friendly vehicles. More at Detroit Free Press

Champ Car demo run at Assen  UPDATE At the moment it looks like either Arie Luyendyk Sr. or Mario Dominguez will have the honor to debut the 'old' Champ Car Lola chassis at the Assen TT-Circuit and (try to) break Verstappen’s A1GP car lap record (1.32,824 min). Unfortunately there is currently no Panoz DP01 'ready-to-race' demo car available to do the job! The organization also seems to forget there are currently two Dutch Champ Car drivers without a drive (Nicky Pastorelli and Charles Zwolsman, who both raced the Lola car last year). Both are available at the moment and both could do this job much better, especially in front of their home crowd. ChampCarWorldNet

07/17/07 Today the announcement was made by Lee van Dam (who organizes the Assen Champ Car race on behalf of promoter Bart Rietbergen), that a Champ Car will do a demonstration run at the Rizla Racing Days on the 12th of August. Who the driver will be is yet to be announced. All the regular Champ Car drivers will be at the Elkhart Lake round of this years championship. Might we see Jos Verstappen do the run? ChampCarWorldNet
New crew chief for Steve Wallace  Steve Wallace will have a new crew chief this weekend after Rusty Wallace Inc. officials decided to replace Bryant Frazier on Monday night as leader of Wallace's No. 66 Busch Series Dodge.

Steve Darne, the team's Busch East Series crew chief, will replace Frazier on an interim basis, the team announced. Darne and Wallace worked together in ARCA in 2006, as Wallace won three races and four poles with Darne as crew chief.

"Bryant has done a good job for our team over the past two years, but it was just time for us to make a change," team owner Rusty Wallace said in a statement. "This is a performance-based business, and unfortunately this year, we just haven't seen the level of performance that we'd like to have."  Scenedaily

Where are all the fans?  UPDATE #2 Nashville Superspeedway's 25,000 capacity main grandstand was full prior to the Saturday night deluge that delayed the race 18 hours, but only about a third of those spectators came back for Sunday's noon start.  ESPN.com

07/15/07 Another reader writes, I see the grandstands at Nashville, as small as they are, were just 50% full on Sunday.  I guess all those real fans (or are the ticket giveaway fans?) decided to not come out and watch the Indy Car race today after it was rained out.  A true fan would have returned. As it was, I estimated the attendance at around 7K to 8K at best.  And what a borefest of a race it was on that stupid one-groove concrete race track.  Why is the IRL racing there again?  Kuldip Gingh

07/14/07 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, First let me admit that I am a big NASCAR fan.  I was at Nashville yesterday to watch practice and qualifying and the place was a ghost town, very depressing.  At the NASCAR races I go to there are many fans that attend practice and qualifying.  This would indicate to me that the IRL has very few true fans like we have in NASCAR.  What I cannot figure out is why the IRL fans only show up for the race.  Are they all free ticket giveaways?  Jason Greer

Dear Jason, That has always been a mystery and makes you wonder, but we can say that the IRL has been consistently getting 1.0 TV ratings this year, which is an improvement over recent years, so either they have just had dumb luck with channel surfers, or their marketing campaign around the three poster girls - Patrick, Duno and Fisher - is reaping some results.  Mark C.

New team to debut at Indy with Andretti  A new team, E&M Motorsports, plans to debut and attempt the Allstate 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the #08 Dodge is scheduled to run in the Nextel Cup Series for a limited number of races remaining in the 2007 schedule and a full schedule in 2008. E&M Motorsports is owned by NASCAR veteran John Carter [formerly owner of the #37 RJ Racing team] and is based in Toccoa, Georgia. The #08 car -- a Dodge -- will be take the track at Indy for the Allstate 400 this month with John Andretti driving and are currently seeking primary sponsors for the '08 car -- now and in 2008. Race Week Media/08team.com PR
Schrader back to the #49  BAM Racing has announced that former crew chief David Hyder will return to the fold this week, reuniting with former driver Kenny Schrader. Schrader has been on the Nextel Cup sidelines since being replaced in the Wood Brothers/JTG Racing Ford by Bill Elliott a few weeks ago. He will reunite with Hyder at BAM, beginning at the Brickyard 400 in two weeks. Motorsports Soapbox
American Hayden hopes to defend Laguna title  Repsol Honda’s American World Champion Nicky Hayden will this weekend be gunning for a third successive victory in front of his home fans at the U.S. Grand Prix. The 25-year-old from Owensboro, Kentucky, will be determined to maintain his record as the only rider to have won in the MotoGP class at the Laguna Seca circuit in California. Hayden took his first ever MotoGP victory on the series’ return to Laguna in 2005 and won again last season on his way to the 2006 World Title.

Hayden has struck form just in time for his home race after shrugging off a very difficult first half of the season. The previous two races in the Netherlands and last weekend in Germany have seen Hayden back to his combative best, producing stunning rides to the podium after qualifying in 13th and 14th places respectively. If he can gain a better grid position at Laguna few doubt the American will be a contender for victory again in Sunday’s 32-lap race.

Hayden will celebrate his 26th birthday just eight days after the U.S. Grand Prix. If he completes the hat-trick of Laguna Seca victories on Sunday, it’ll be the perfect early birthday present as the World Championship heads into its four-week summer break. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Willis to return to F1 with Red Bull
  • Abu Dhabi F1 circuit under construction
  • Winkelhock excited about Nurburgring debut
  • Schu manager faces 10 years in jail
  • Spyker target big step with 'B' car
  • Stepney ready to name names - lawyer
  • Hamilton takes over Beckham role
  • Delhi government backs India GP
  • No more movie-theatre F1 races - Odeon
  • Piquet has 'chance' for Renault seat - Briatore

Willis to return to F1 with Red Bull
(GMM) Geoff Willis is returning to formula one to become Red Bull's new technical director.

The 47-year-old Briton, who left Honda last year following a demotion, will next week start working alongside Adrian Newey at Red Bull Technology, the company that designs cars for both Red Bull and Toro Rosso.

Willis replaces Mark Smith, who "has been offered another senior position within the company," Red Bull announced in a statement on Tuesday.

He worked alongside Newey at both Leyton House and Williams, before moving to Honda-powered BAR in 2002. Since last year Willis has been "tending his garden", Red Bull added.

Abu Dhabi F1 circuit under construction
(GMM) Construction of Abu Dhabi's new formula one circuit is already well under way.

On the emirates' Yas Island, the location in the Persian Gulf will first host the sport in 2009.

"A number of tasks are already ahead of schedule, including the excavation of the marina and piling work for the pit building," the government's Khaldoon Al Mubarak is quoted as saying by formula one's official website.

15,000 people will be working on the site by early next year.

Abu Dhabi's initial contract runs until 2016. More ...

track news
Work progressing on Abu Dhabi track  Work is pushing ahead for the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Yas Island. The circuit website continues to count down to February 1 2009 and there is still much to be done on the 6300-acre island. The marina area is already being excavated and the foundations for the pit buildings are underway. The marina will be able to accommodate 150 yachts including 20 that are more than 100ft long and six 200-footers.

The track itself will feature two sections: a non-permanent street section around the harbor and then a high-speed permanent track in a parkland setting. This will have elevation changes of 10m and there should be at least three overtaking spots. The construction for the Hermann Tilke design will be done by Bahrain's Cebarco-WCT, a joint venture between Bahrain and Malaysian construction firm WCT Engineering. The company will build the track and all the associated buildings. WCT has been involved with the construction of both the Bahrain and Malaysian F1 tracks. The circuit is scheduled for completion by December 31 2008.

Yas Island will also feature a Ferrari theme park, hotels, golf courses and a large shopping area. Grandprix.com

MIS says they’re fed up with the IRL  MIS and the Indy Racing League, sanctioning body of the IndyCar Series, will part ways following the Michigan Indy 400 on Aug. 5, MIS President Roger Curtis said Monday.

The breaking point in negotiations came when the IRL was unwilling to provide MIS with an acceptable race date for 2008, Curtis said. MIS wanted a race date in July, while the IRL gave Michigan a take-it-or-leave-it date of Aug. 3 for next year.

No deal, said Curtis.

Curtis said that it is not feasible to host an IRL race two weeks before the speedway's marquee NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race in August. MIS is hosting the IRL event two weeks before NASCAR this season, but Curtis said he had a verbal agreement with the IRL that the 2007 arrangement would be a one-year deal.

Curtis made no bones about whom he feels is to blame for the breakup.

"If this is burning a bridge, they burnt it," Curtis said. "They put us in this position. We physically cannot do the IRL event justice two weeks before our NASCAR race. More ...

Australia finally gets Champ Car TV coverage  UPDATE Champ Car confirmed this news in a press release late Tuesday.

07/15/07 The Seven TV Network in Australia today confirmed the signing of an agreement that will see the network build on its leadership in sports with expanding coverage of the Champ Car World Series. Today’s signing strengthens Seven’s commitment to the upcoming Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold Coast and complements the network’s partnership with V8 Supercars Australia.

Beginning next weekend with the eighth round from Edmonton, Canada, the big news for Australian fans is that they will now be able to follow the progress of Australian driver Will Power of Team Australia. The Toowoomba driver is currently placed second in the international open wheel series championship, just two points adrift of the outright lead and will be one of the main contenders for a win at his home event, the Gold Coast’s Lexmark Indy 300, October 18-21.

Today’s announcement allows Seven to deliver a total season package of the major motorsports categories that form the foundation of the Lexmark Indy 300: Champ Cars and V8 Supercars. Seven will be undertaking up to 12 hours of coverage of the Lexmark Indy 300 race weekend. More ...

Weekly NASCAR cheating report  UPDATE NASCAR officials fined Morgan Shepherd's Busch Series team $1,000 for a violation found during inspection July 13 at Chicagoland Speedway.  Crew chief Chad Beahr was the recipient of the fine. The penalty was because Shepherd's car did not have a jacking bolt made of solid magnetic steel, according to NASCAR

07/17/07 NASCAR officials announced penalties Tuesday for Roush Fenway Racing's No. 6 truck driven by Travis Kvapil.  Kvapil and car owner Jack Roush have each been penalized 25 points, and crew chief Mike Beam was fined $10,000 after the team's Craftsman Truck Series Ford was found to be too low after the Built Ford Tough 225 at Kentucky Speedway.  Kvapil finished second to Mike Skinner in the race to move into a third-place tie in the point standings with Todd Bodine. But Kvapil now falls to fourth, 313 points behind leader Skinner.
Ginn Racing outlines plan for the future  Emphasizing an eye on the future along with solidifying the foundation of its NASCAR Nextel Cup program, Ginn Racing announced the following transactions.

* Aric Almirola, the 23-year-old Busch stalwart and a member of the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) program the past four years, has signed with Ginn Racing. He will become Mark Martin’s co-driver in the 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet for the remainder of the 2007 season and will also share the ride with Martin in 2008. His first race in the 01 will be Aug. 12 at the road course in Watkins Glen, N.Y. As part of his contractual obligations, Almirola will compete in five remaining Busch races for JGR this season.

* Regan Smith, 23, who was Martin’s co-driver in the 01, will assume full-time driving duties in the team’s No. 14 Chevrolet, beginning with the Nextel Cup race July 29 in Indianapolis. Smith replaces Sterling Marlin.
* Due to a lack of sponsorship, the No. 13 Ginn Racing team is currently being evaluated. Joe Nemechek, who drove the No. 13, has been released and is free to explore other opportunities. More ...

Industry News
Video: Spot the Tot safety program  

A new program called "Spot the Tot" has been created to raise awareness about child safety and reduce fatalities resulting from automobile accidents. The program is run by Safe Kids Worldwide and General Motors and is designed to educate parents about child safety measures needed both in and around the car. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, accidents are the leading cause of death for children. However, one of the most preventable accidents is when a driver unintentionally runs over a child he or she did not see playing behind a vehicle. To avoid this type of incident, the program suggests drivers walk around the car for a visual check before getting in and driving away.

Wanted: American heroes  UPDATE A reader writes, How about Jon Fogarty, Alex Gurney, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Joey Hand, and Rocky Moran Jr.....all of them paid their dues in Atlantic and Barber Dodge; Fogarty, Hunter-Reay, and Moran Jr were multiple race winners in each series. Most of them have found work elsewhere, but I bet they would jump at the chance to drive in Champ Car. The series would benefit hugely with the addition of a couple of these guys. Maybe it's time to give Legge a rest and plug in someone else. Sooner or later Champ Car has to address this deficit in their package...The American audience is just not connecting to the foreign drivers. Name Withheld by Request

07/17/07 Champ Car is a world series, but its financial lifeblood flows in and out of the United States. And there is no denying the series suffers at the gate and on television down south because, quite frankly, American racing fans couldn't pick wildly successful Sebastien Bourdais, a Frenchman, out of a police lineup.

Dutch rookie Robert Doornbos leads the points race and he's virtually anonymous. Neel Jani of Switzerland? Please. Australia's Will Power? Great name, but no profile. When we go to Canada, we always get huge crowds; that's because they're real fans there," said outspoken Graham Rahal, one of only two American drivers in the series this year.

"In the States all they're interested in is personalities. They don't really care about watching, no offence to Sebastien, they don't really care about watching Sebastien. That has no interest to a lot of these people.

"I'd like to help this series grow. I've always been an open-wheel guy and I've always been a Champ Car fan because I love the road racing. At the same time, one guy can't do it. This series needs to get names here and they need to promote it and they need to work better at that." More ...

Can Conquest finally beat the establishment?  Jan Heylen, #34 Grand Prix of Belgium, is the sole driver of Champ Car’s only one-car team in the series and ready for his breakthrough race. Jan has not yet finished a race this year, however Heylen and Conquest Racing have shown competitiveness and qualified 8th at the last race in Toronto ahead of Paul Tracy or Robert Doornbos, who is leading the championship. Unfortunately, Jan has ended up the victim in most of the crashes he has been involved in which has hindered his race completion record. So, can Conquest make it all the way onto the podium this season?

[Editor's Note:  There have been published reports out of new Zealand that say Matt Halliday will be back with the team for five races.  However, as of right now, Jan Heylen will remain the only driver for Conquest Racing. They only have one car and money for a 2nd car is the issue.]

Conquest Racing has endured 5 crashes in the first 7 races, has one of the smallest operations budgets in Champ Car and may be currently considered the underdogs of the series. The small but devoted crew who works closely with Jan is confident in his potential and is certain that a podium finish will happen once he can run without incident. Despite the fact that Champ Car is a spec series and everyone has a DP01 chassis and a Cosworth engine, not all teams are created equal. However Eric Bachelart, Conquest Racing Team Owner, does not feel that their smaller budget will keep them from competing with the larger teams.

“While we may have one of the smallest budgets and be one of the smallest teams, we have worked very hard to get our most recent eighth position qualifying and see great potential for a top six finish once we can avoid any crashes. We have a very dedicated and hard-working team that is diligently working with Jan to get that result”.

Having only started his 2007 season in June, Heylen missed out on driving the first three races in Las Vegas, Long Beach and Houston but he doesn’t see it holding him back. “I would have liked to race in the first three races but it just didn’t work out for me. I don’t, however, think that I am at a huge disadvantage starting in Portland. It was the first race for everyone in the field to experience a standing start“.

“The crew has been great to work with and have helped me to be comfortable in the new DP01 quickly and with a minimal amount of testing. The potential is there and now we just need to take it to the next level and avoid any accidents”.

Willis joins Red Bull team  Geoffrey Willis has joined Red Bull Technology and will take on the role of Technical Director, reporting to Chief Technical Officer, Adrian Newey. The new appointment is effective from 23 July 2007.

Forty-seven year old Willis has worked alongside Newey in the past when both men were at Williams and the two men share an interest in yacht design. The Southampton born, Cambridge University graduate worked for the British America's Cup team in 1987, where he developed hull and keel designs using computational fluid dynamics. His first Formula One role came with the Leyton House team from where he joined Newey at Williams, eventually becoming Chief Aerodynamicist. He moved to BAR in 2002 as Technical Director and left the Honda team in 2006, since when he has been tending his garden.

Mark Smith who has been Technical Director since January 2006, has been offered another senior position within the company.

Grand Prix ticket sales racing down to wire  Given that equal parts methanol and blood course through his veins, Ric Forest can easily envision the perfect race week, and he might even pull it off one day.

He chairs the board of directors and is therefore the driving force behind what is now known as the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton, an ever-changing corporate entity whose only product hits the City Centre Airport tarmac at speeds of 300 km/h from Friday through Sunday.

Yes, the Champ Cars are back and everything old is new again. There's a new car type, the DP01; six new drivers and a new team, Pacific Coast Motorsports. Sixty vehicles from the Northern Alberta Sports Car Club will race, 24 Hours of LeMans-style, to celebrate the 50th year of that organization. This is the first year for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, quality stock car racing on the undercard, as well as for Jim Haskins, the new general manager of the cacophonous event. More ...

Reiser wins Crew Chief of the Race award  Heading into the USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, crew chief Robbie Reiser knew his team’s No. 17 USG Sheetrock Ford had the potential to perform well.  Strategizing to keep his driver, Matt Kenseth, in the front group for the running of the race became Reiser’s main focus.  While the debate among crew chiefs wavered around two tire stops, fuel mileage and finding the right line to run around the 1.5 mile tri-oval track, Reiser did his homework and stuck to the plan, earning the crafty veteran crew chief and team their seventh top-five finish for the season.  For his precise planning and strategy execution, Reiser was awarded the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Race.
After a qualifying run that placed the No. 17 team 10th on the starting grid, Reiser’s plan to keep Kenseth up front began to unfold on pit road.  During the first green flag pit stop, while most of the leaders took two tires, Reiser called his crew to change all four.  His strategy was to give his driver the ability to work both low and high on the track, while knowing that he could also hunt down the leaders during long runs.  Reiser kept to his planning and with the added advantage of his crew providing outstanding serves on the car, had Kenseth running in the top-five for the majority of the race.  As the final laps were run, Kenseth made a desperate serge for the lead, only to be denied by some cunning blocking by eventual winner Tony Stewart.  Reiser and his No. 17 Roush / Fenway Racing team finished the day second after a solid and gratifying performance.
At the conclusion of the race, Reiser commented on his team’s performance.  “We had a top-five car for sure today, however, just didn’t quiet have enough for the No. 20,” said Reiser.  “We wanted to give Matt the ability to drive at the bottom so we went for four tires while others went for two.  I asked my guys to give me great pit stops today and they did.”
tv news
Nashville IPS race to be shown on ESPN2  The Infiniti Pro Series race run at the Nashville Superspeedway on July 14 will be shown Wednesday, July 18, 5:00 pm - 5:30 pm ET on ESPN2.
Lenovo supercomputer revs up Williams team  

Lenovo announced it has teamed up with AT&T Williams Formula One to provide a supercomputer to drive the racing team's wind tunnel simulator. The supercomputer will simulate airflow around a virtual model of a three-dimensional, on-track racing car so engineers can examine aerodynamic variables, such as surface geometry, wheel turbulence and track surface. This process will help predict how small changes in component shape and placement can affect drag and downforce, with resulting impacts on speed and handling. According to Lenovo, the supercomputer is four times more powerful than the team's previous solution and will enable the team to speed up the process of aerodynamic simulation by approximately 75 percent.

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • McLaren denies spy saga knowledge
  • F1 fans think McLaren is guilty
  • WMSC member - McLaren should escape penalty
  • Even without Schu, Nurb ticket sales higher
  • Liuzzi hits out at Toro Rosso problems
  • No F1 link in Indy's MotoGP deal

McLaren denies spy saga knowledge
(GMM) McLaren has put further distance between itself and suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan.

The Woking based team on Monday angrily denied Coughlan's alleged admission that he told several fellow McLaren employees about his possession of reams of secret Ferrari material.

The contents of his confidential sworn affidavit were reportedly leaked to the Italian press by Ferrari, the other main player in the espionage saga that has scandalized formula one.

McLaren rejected reports of Coughlan's quotes as "erroneous speculation" that gave rise to "inaccurate and misleading" coverage.

The strongly worded statement continued: "This is unfortunate and is prejudicial to a fair interpretation of these matters."

The Mercedes powered team reiterated that "the fact that (Coughlan) held at his home unsolicited materials from Ferrari was not known to any other member of the team prior to (3 July)."

F1 fans think McLaren is guilty
(GMM) Most formula one fans believe that McLaren must or will be punished for its alleged involvement in the Stepney-gate spy scandal.

In an online poll, more than 70 per cent of German-speaking respondents think the outcome for Ron Dennis' Woking based team at the upcoming World Council hearing will be negative.

McLaren has denied its involvement, but suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan has reportedly admitted to possessing confidential material belonging to Ferrari and told several team colleagues about it, including team manager Jonathan Neale.

Only 27 per cent of those who voted in Auto Motor und Sport's poll think McLaren should escape sanctions, which could range from fines to docked points or total exclusion from the world championship. More ...

Tech file - Nürbürgring  One of the first modern ‘autodrome’ circuits, the Nürburgring’s reputation has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years. While difficult, overtaking is possible into the first corner and the chicane at turns 13 and 14, and the circuit’s challenges range from first gear hairpins to sixth- and seventh-gear sweepers. No matter what the season, rain and cool conditions are an ever-present threat in the Eifel mountains.


The Nürburgring demands some of the highest downforce levels of the season, not only for the numerous slow and medium-speed corners, but also to maintain good stability under heavy braking for the first corner and the slow chicanes.

Corners such as turns 5/6, 8/9 and 10/11 in particular demand a neutral handling balance to avoid compromising the optimum line through the second corner in the sequence, and the engineers will often work through the weekend to dial out understeer in the medium-speed corners. More ...

Rainey to be Inducted into hall  Readily acknowledged as one of the greatest motorcycle road racers of all time, Wayne Rainey of Monterey will be inducted into the Legends of Laguna Seca Walk of Fame this Thursday (July 19) in a special ceremony at 2 p.m. at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Monterey Mayor Chuck Della Sala will read a proclamation welcoming Rainey into the inaugural group of the Legends of Laguna Seca, quite fittingly in Turn 9 of the world-renowned raceway which bears his name – Rainey Curve.

Rainey’s tireless efforts were a key factor in bringing MotoGP back to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2005 after a 10-year absence and his considerable influence led to persuading Yamaha, for whom he rode while winning three straight World Championships, to invest $2 million in track upgrades to comply with FIM specifications.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca established the Legends of Laguna Seca as part of the celebration of its 50th Anniversary. The first race at the track nestled in the hills of the former Fort Ord military installation was held in November, 1957. The first inductee was legendary auto racer Dan Gurney at the U.S. Sports Car Invitational in May. More ...

2007 could be year Edmonton race makes money  The Champ Car Grand Prix of Edmonton was a first-year phenomenon followed by a second-season sensation.

But as fans ready for a third edition, there is the question.

Will continued successes follow?

So far, it's been a good time. Now, the challenge is to make it a long time.

This, understand, is an event which hasn't turned a profit yet. Hasn't made a dime.

It had huge start-up costs and, as a result, has lost upwards of $5 million.

"No one can write checks to subsidize anything long term," said Jim Haskins, the former TV executive who became president and general manager of the event.

"We have to build on our success to be here long-term. This is, by far, the premier auto racing event in Western Canada and the most successful Champ Car event in Canada, but it has to be self-supportive.

"Nobody in our investment group has done this to make huge amounts of money. It's like the old saying that the quickest way make a million in auto racing is to start with 10. Our goal this year is to break even for the first time."

I think that's a realistic goal. More ...

track news
Green Power Prix-View of LB  The 34th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be taking a decided step into the future April 18-20, 2008.  America’s premiere street racing event will spotlight a dynamic new attraction for 2008 – Green Power Prix-View TM – as well as multiple racing series including Champ Cars, the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, Drifting and powerful sports cars. 

Green Power Prix-View TM will feature extensive, weekend-long displays of alternative energy vehicles and on-circuit activities featuring vehicles that might range from hydrogen-powered cars to robotic vehicles.

In addition, the Lifestyle and Alternative Energy Expo - free with a race ticket - will be adding a wealth of exhibits highlighting a wide variety of renewable energy sources, water and energy conservation and green building materials to its more than 150 exhibitors already offering the latest products and services in automotive, travel, home improvement, fitness and recreation in the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center. More ...

New IMS motorcycle circuit design to challenge riders  UPDATE Added image of new 16-turn MotoGP track map.

07/16/07 Riders in the inaugural Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Sept. 14, 2008 will race on a new Indianapolis Motor Speedway motorcycle road circuit.

The motorcycle circuit is 2.601 miles (4.186 km) long and will feature 16 turns (10 left, six right). The initial IMS road-course configuration, unveiled in 2000, had 13 turns in its 2.605-mile (4.192 km) layout. All three classes competing at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP - MotoGP, 250cc and 125cc - will race on the new circuit.

As motorcycles cross the "Yard of Bricks" to start a lap, they will be traveling counter-clockwise, the same direction as cars in the two IMS oval events, the Indianapolis 500 and the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Cars in previous road-course events at IMS traveled clockwise.

Construction has started on parts of the circuit. Paving of an estimated 13,300 tons of asphalt is scheduled to be completed by this fall, and the entire project is scheduled to be finished before Opening Day of the 92nd Indianapolis 500 in May 2008, said Kevin Forbes, IMS director of engineering and construction. More ...

industry news
General Motors partners with Penske  General Motors Corp. is moving fast to become a bigger player in the world of diesel engines.

The automaker today announced plans to buy a 50 percent stake in VM Motori S.p.A., an Italian diesel engine maker owned by Bloomfield Hills-based Penske Corp.

The move comes a week after GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said the company is looking to bring diesel passenger cars and trucks to the U.S. market.

The pairing with Penske helps position GM to better compete for business in Europe and emerging markets such as China and India, where diesel technology widely used, said Dan Hancock, vice president of GM Powertrain's Global Engineering. GM is looking to target commercial vehicles, which account for about one-third of vehicles sold in those markets. Detroit News

Nintendo Announces Partnership with Roush  Nintendo's record-selling Wii* video game system takes video gaming to a whole new level with a partnership with Roush Fenway Racing and NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Greg Biffle. Biffle will debut the Wii-themed Ford Fusion at Watkins Glen in August and then provide an encore performance at Dover's Monster Mile in September. Nintendo's partnership with Roush Fenway Racing is the company's first endeavor with NASCAR and it is excited about the possibilities it brings.

"Partnering with Roush Fenway Racing further demonstrates how Wii is bringing gaming to the masses," says George Harrison, Nintendo of America's senior vice president of marketing and corporate communications. "Like going to a NASCAR race, playing Wii is a family event. Everyone can enjoy Wii regardless of his or her gaming knowledge and experience." More ...

Q and A with Franz Tost  
Q. Franz, can you talk us through your season so far in under a minute?

Franz Tost - Toro Rosso team principal - We are still suffering the effects of our late start, losing nine days of testing. The car was not as competitive as we expected. We struggled to understand the car at the beginning and to find the right set-up.

In Melbourne, our level of preparation was not where we wanted it to be. Nevertheless, Tonio finished the race, Scott did not because of a problem with a front rim.

Both cars saw the checkered flag in Malaysia.

In Bahrain, Scott collided with Button after the start and retired. Tonio overtook Schumacher under the yellow flags and got a drive-through penalty retiring with a hydraulic problem.

In Barcelona, none of the cars finished the race. Scott had a tire failure caused by debris, Tonio had a hydraulic problem.

In Monaco, Tonio's race was over at Turn 3 after being hit by Coulthard. Scott did his best job of the season so far and finished ninth.

Montreal could have been our best race. With 16 laps to go Tonio was fifth, which would have become fourth as Barrichello still had to pit. But then he crashed into the wall and that was it. Scott collided with Wurz and also retired.

In Indy, Tonio had a good race, after we risked running him with low downforce. His race was spoilt when a refueling system problem cost him 7 seconds. Scott was tenth.

In France, Tonio's race ended in Turn 1after being hit by Davidson. Scott had a gearbox problem. In Silverstone, both cars made it to Qualifying 2, but no further as the drivers were unable to repeat their Friday times. Scott crashed with Wurz on lap 30 and retired, while Tonio went out with a hydraulic problem. More ...

Q and A with Christian Horner  With half the season now completed, Red Bull Racing’s Team Principal Christian Horner has assessed the year to date, namely being that with a total of six points after nine events, their goals have not been achieved. However, a lot of their reliability issues seem to stem from the gearbox, however as Horner explained, it is not so much the gearbox that is the issue but other factors relating to it. With that said, the Milton Keynes based squad is looking forward to a more competitive second half of the year, starting with this weekend’s European Grand Prix..

A fifth place for Coulthard in Spain, seventh spot for Webber in the US, 6 points; it’s not really where you want to be?
Looking back at the last few races, our performance has not matched our expectations. The RB3 has shown genuine pace, for example in both Monaco and then in Canada, where Mark qualified on the third row in sixth place. Both cars qualified in the top ten on the grid in Monaco, only for David to have his time removed for having impeded Kovalainen. David had a competitive race in Barcelona finishing fifth and Mark got his first points of the season in Indy after a solid run to seventh. These performances have shown the potential of the car, which has been marred by a depressingly high number of retirements. More ...

Tickets on sale for MotoGP race at IMS  Ticket orders are being accepted now for the inaugural Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008, the first motorcycle race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in nearly 100 years.

The MotoGP race will be the first motorcycle event at IMS since 1909, the year the facility opened.

Orders can be placed either online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com or by mailing an order form to IMS. The order form is available at the IMS Web site or by calling the IMS Ticket Office at (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area or (317) 492-6700 locally. Ticket Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

All tickets for this event are three-day tickets, with both reserved and general admission seating available.

Anyone wanting reserved seats must request at least four choices of their preferred seating area with their order. All orders will be fulfilled at a later date.

Fans of all ages wishing to have a reserved seat must purchase a ticket. Children age 5 and under will be admitted free when they accompany an adult who purchases a three-day general admission ticket.

MotoGP fans are encouraged to order early, as tickets for past inaugural events at IMS have sold quickly.

Champ Car reiterates faith in Steve Johnson  AutoRacing1.com was able to obtain this internal memo to Champ Car staff and stakeholders put out today:  The owners have renewed Steve Johnson's contract for multiple years to remain on as President and CEO of Champ Car.  Tony Cotman, as Exec. VP of Operations, will report to Johnson.  The series needs to land more sponsorship so it made sense to free up Johnson to work on that end of the business and not have to worry about the day-to-day issues.

To: All Champ Car World Series Stakeholders

From: Champ Car Ownership Group
(Gerald Forsythe, Paul Gentilozzi, Kevin Kalkhoven & Dan Pettit)

Date: 7/16/2007

Re: Champ Car Organization

As we reach the mid-point in our season, we have implemented an adjustment within our senior management team to help us maintain the positive momentum that we currently enjoy with the Champ Car World Series.

Steve Johnson, our President and CEO, is shifting his energy and attention toward sales and sponsorship during a critical period when companies finalize 2008 budgets and we have several major organizations considering sponsorship of the Series and its partners (teams, events, et al).  To allow this shift in responsibilities to take place, Steve promoted Tony Cotman last week to Executive Vice President, Operations so Tony could manage our day-to-day operations through the rest of the year. We’re thrilled that Tony will be able to extend his leadership and creativity to other areas of our business, and we’re certain this change in Tony’s role will be welcome both inside and outside the Champ Car organization.

Additionally, we are pleased to announce today that we have provided Steve with a multi-year extension of his contract with the Champ Car World Series, providing us with stability in the President/CEO position as we look forward to the years ahead. Steve has been instrumental over the past two years in enhancing our organization, and we’re pleased that he will continue to add value to Champ Car.

Please join us in congratulating both Steve and Tony, and we thank them for their on-going commitment to the Champ Car World Series.

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