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Scott Speed talks about switch to Sprint Cup Series
Scott Speed holds the trophy after winning the truck race at Dover in the Spring
How is the test here at Lowe's going so far for you?

“So far it’s going all right.  It’s nice to be out there with a lot of the other guys, to kind of see where we range.  It’s nice to follow some guys to see how this thing handles behind other cars.  It’s a little bit different.  So far, everything is going really well.”

Can you explain the difference between this NASCAR car and the ARCA car you’ve been running?
“Honestly, I feel these a lot better.  I feel the track better.  It’s a lot tighter.  This thing moves around a lot less.  Everything is done right on these things.  The steering box, the pedal box -- everything is really precise.  It makes it actually easier for me to feel the car and the changes.  So far, it’s been an easy transition.”

How well do you think you have done adapting to stock-car racing?
“I think I’ve learned everything pretty quickly, but the thing I’m missing is experience.  You can’t learn experience.  That’s why we started throwing in truck races.  As we started becoming successful in the Truck Series, we started looking at Cup Series testing to speed this process along.  The more and more time I do before I get in a Cup race is better.  Am I ready now?  Maybe.  Could I have come straight over here to Cup and not looked stupid?  Probably.  It’s one of those things where I have the time to not do that.  We’re trying to take as much time as possible and really wait for the right circumstance to jump in.”

Do you want to be racing in the Cup Series right now?
“Honestly, it doesn’t matter.  It depends on if we’re in the right circumstance.  So far, we’ve made really good decisions and Red Bull has made great decisions for me my whole career.  I trust that when they think I’m ready that they’ll make the right choice.” --

Did you ever think you would be racing in NASCAR?
“I’ve said so many times that I would never do this.  I’ve for sure said that.  I guess after Formula One, when I started looking at what I wanted to do, I was like, ‘Do I want to go race open-wheels in America?  What am I going to win there?  Am I going to prove anything to myself?  No.  I’ve already accomplished that and more already.’  This is something I’ve never tried.  I’ve never raced on an oval.  It’s still a very, very big series in America.  It’s very popular motorsports.  And I looked at it like, ‘All right, I don’t want to do Formula One right now, and I want to stay with Red Bull. What would be a good challenge?  What do I want to do?’  I have a lot of drive to do this because I think if you can be successful in Formula One and come over here and do this and be successful in Cup racing, that’s another huge accomplishment.”

Are you having more fun racing here in the U.S.?
“I’m having way more fun over here in America.  There are a lot of things that I miss in Europe, for sure.  The quality of everything I miss of Europe.  The racing here is really fun.  You really are racing out there, opposed to qualifying every lap.  I get along better with the people, of course.  I’m American.  I’m surrounded by friends now, opposed to foreigners.”


Lowe's AM Testing: Earnhardt fastest
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Rhonda McCole/AR1.com
The first day of testing at Lowe's Motor Speedway, the first session in the afternoon, 51 drivers driving 66 cars made runs. The fastest in the Day 1 afternoon session was Earnhardt Jr at 182.642mph, followed by Biffle, Martin, Kyle Busch, and Ragan.

AM Results

Pos No. Driver Make Time Speed
1 88B Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevy 29.566 182.642
2 16 Greg Biffle Ford 29.582 182.543
3 8 Mark Martin Chevy 29.700 181.818
4 18B Kyle Busch Toyota 29.723 181.677
5 6 David Ragan Ford 29.800 181.208
6 99 Carl Edwards Ford 29.821 181.080
7 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Dodge 29.832 181.014
8 45B Chad McCumbee Dodge 29.838 180.977
9 20 Tony Stewart Toyota 29.860 180.844
10 31 Jeff Burton Chevy 29.879 180.729
11 5 Casey Mears Chevy 29.881 180.717
12 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge 29.929 180.427
13 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevy 29.941 180.355
14 29B Kevin Harvick Chevy 29.949 180.307
15 2B Kurt Busch Dodge 29.951 180.294
16 10 Patrick Carpentier * Dodge 29.962 180.228
17 77B Sam Hornish Jr. * Dodge 29.971 180.174
18 84 Mike Skinner Toyota 29.973 180.162
19 45 Chad McCumbee Dodge 30.007 179.958
20 24 Jeff Gordon Chevy 30.024 179.856

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F1 goes off track as FIA takes easy way out
Hamilton left Spa thinking he had won
The decision by the FIA International Court of Appeal to take the easy way out and rule that McLaren's appeal against Lewis Hamilton's time penalty in the Belgian Grand Prix was simply inadmissible has done nothing to stem the perception, both inside and outside Formula One, that the dice are loaded in Ferrari's favor and against McLaren.

Nor will many of the discrepancies which, thanks to that simple ruling, did not become the issues in court that they should have been.

First, there was race director Charlie Whiting's confirmation - twice - to McLaren sporting director Davy Ryan, during the 43rd lap of the race, that Hamilton had done enough in handing the lead back to Raikkonen.

It is alleged that race stewards were minded not to apply a penalty, but they did so after an incident report was submitted by Whiting.

Then there is the question of if it was right at the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji last year to allow Toro Rosso to appeal against a 25-second time penalty imposed on their driver Tonio Liuzzi.

They were permitted to do so even though the appeal subsequently failed.

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Chrysler plans to sell electric car in 2010
Chrysler LLC said today it will put an electric car on sale in North America in 2010, revealing that despite missing out on the buzz surrounding the Chevrolet Volt, it is neck and neck with General Motors Corp. in the race to put a mass-produced electric vehicle on America's roads.

The company showed reporters three electric prototypes: a Dodge sports car, a Jeep and a Chrysler minivan. But Chrysler's product development chief, Frank Klegon, said the automaker hasn't decided which one it will roll out first.

The Dodge sports car is completely electric, but the Jeep Wrangler and Chrysler minivan models will have a recharging system similar to the Volt, which GM has said will go on sale in November 2010. The Volt plugs into a standard wall outlet and can go 40 miles on battery power alone, but then a small gasoline engine kicks in to recharge the batteries, allowing the car to travel hundreds more miles.

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Risi's Petit LeMans inside track
It’s the race that Risi Competizione wants most. It has class victories at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans to its credit. All that’s left in endurance racing’s “Triple Crown” is a triumph at Petit Le Mans powered by the Totally New MAZDA6. As he has all season, Risi technical director Rick Mayer gives his insight on what it will take for Risi’s two Ferrari F430 GTs to be successful in the American Le Mans Series.

The Track:
The Road Atlanta repave of last spring has had time to age. This usually increases the grip as some of the petroleum leaches out from the track. We should see a further decrease in lap times from last year’s quick times. If the weather is good, all the lap records should fall.

The track may have changed a bit but the requirements to go fast here are still the same. You need a good platform for the high-speed corners (T1, The Esses, T12). You can gain a significant amount of time using the apex curbs effectively at T3 and the exit curbs of T5. The curbs at T7 and T10 also yield lower lap times. If you don’t set up right, using the curbs will kill the drive shafts; it’s such a long race. Top speed is also key here; the top speed is just above 160 mpg for a GT2 car, a little higher for the Panoz, Corvette, Aston Martin and the Ford GT-R due to their restrictor rules break.

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NHLR and Rahal Completed One Day Test at Richmond Today
Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) completed a one-day test at the 0.75-mile Richmond International Raceway oval today with driver Graham Rahal handling the testing duties.  Rahal, 19, was joined at the track by drivers Tony Kanaan and Oriol Servia, who were testing on behalf of Firestone. 

“It was a good day for us,” said Rahal, who completed 276 laps.  “We made some big strides which will help us get closer to the frontrunners.  We ought to have a good baseline setup to battle for the win here when we come back next year.  I think our lap times were competitive with Tony’s although it’s hard to tell what sort of test program they were working on since they were testing tires.  Overall it was good to get back on track to test and start working on 2009.”

Due to the demanding 2008 IndyCar Series race schedule and transition to a new racing series this year, the team was unable to test as much as they would have liked during the season.  The team’s next test will take place at the 1.5-mile, high-banked Texas Motor Speedway oval next Tuesday, September 30.  Both Rahal and McDonald’s driver Justin Wilson will participate in that test.

The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with a non-points paying race Oct. 26 at Surfers Paradise, Australia. The Nikon Indy 300 will be telecast live in High Definition at 10:30 p.m. (EDT) Oct. 25 by ESPN Classic and will re-air at 11 p.m. Oct. 26 on ESPN2. NHLR has won six events in Surfer’s Paradise including the last two in 2006 and 2007 with Sebastien Bourdais, who clinched his third and fourth consecutive titles, respectively, in Australia.  Rahal set the fastest race lap there last year and finished 11th for the team while Wilson finished second to Bourdais while driving for RuSPORT.


Voxdale and Conquest Racing in Top Gear for 2009
Conquest Racing is pleased to announce that it has renewed its technical partnership with Voxdale, a design and engineering firm based in Belgium, for the 2009 IndyCar Series season. The partnership consists of providing Conquest Racing with a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) development program which will help them better understand the Dallara chassis.

“With our first CFD steps, in early August 2007, we saw the car evolving to the front of the field by the end of last season in Champ Car,” explained Eric Bachelart, Conquest Racing team owner.  “We were however left with a lot of redundant data after the switch to the Dallara chassis when we joined the IndyCar Series this year. Knowing what technology Voxdale is capable of, we’re eager to get an efficient development program on track with them for next season.”

Computational Fluid Dynamics, or CFD, represents a method of describing the interaction of fluid flow and surfaces by solving mathematical equations using computers. An object is scanned or modeled and then broken down into a ‘mesh’ of millions of ‘nodes’. Using massive amounts of computing power, equations applied to these nodes can be solved to determine the flow patterns around and through a surface and the forces acting on it.

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Australia site of big wins for IndyCar Series drivers, owners
What do Michael Andretti, Dario Franchitti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Bruno Junqueira and Jimmy Vasser have in common? They are among the 16 drivers who have won Indy car races on the Gold Coast of Australia, and they will all be returning to the Land Down Under Oct. 24-26 when the IndyCar Series sanctions its first race in Surfers Paradise.

The group of past winners raves about racing in Australia, where they claimed some of the biggest wins of their careers.

Bruno Junqueira got to kiss the trophy in 2004
“It was one of my best wins because it’s a very special track,” said Dale Coyne Racing’s Junqueira, who won in 2004. “It’s very difficult to drive there. In 2002 and 2003, I was so close to winning the races, but because of changing weather and yellows, I didn’t win even though I led the race. In 2004, it was really nice. It was a big fight between me and Sebastien (Bourdais) and Paul Tracy, as well. I put some really fast laps in and pulled away from them. It felt fantastic, especially because I was fighting for the championship with Sebastien, and that kept it close going into the last race.”

Junqueira’s victory came one year after Hunter-Reay earned his first career victory during his 2003 rookie campaign.

“It was an amazing day,” recalled Hunter-Reay, who won his first IndyCar Series race at Watkins Glen in July. “That race usually has something that throws everyone a big curveball, which is great, because it’s great for the fans. We had a lot of rain, we even had a stoppage for hail. We had a half-race dry at the end. We were the first car to go to slicks (tires), and it paid off for us. To win there was awesome. I was able to hold them off and win.”

It was also an amazing day for Franchitti when he won in 1999, winning from the pole to take the season points lead from Juan Pablo Montoya with one race to go.

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Wheldon’s Panther Debut Confirmed for Australia
Panther Racing has confirmed that Dan Wheldon will drive the team’s No. 4 Delphi National Guard entry in the non-points Nikon Indy 300, held on October 26th in Surfers Paradise, Australia, marking the first time Wheldon has driven a Panther car since he finished 15th at Texas Motor Speedway on September 15, 2002.

“We look at this as a great way for our team to get a jump on the 2009 season with Dan,” team co-owner John Barnes explained. “Our No. 4 crew is going to remain intact and we’ve got some great people that are looking forward to working with a driver of Wheldon’s caliber. Having the opportunity to run the Australia race next month is a tremendous opportunity for all of us to get familiar with one another. Our goals for next season are high, and the work we’re putting in to meet our goals of winning races, the league championship and the Indy 500 have already begun.”

Wheldon will test with the team at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday, and again at Sebring International Raceway prior to making the trip to Australia with his new teammates.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to work together on a race weekend and determine what the team needs from me and what I need from them,” Wheldon explained. “The key to the 2009 championship is coming out strong in the first five races, and the work we do now will help us accomplish that. In just the first few days I’ve spent with the team I must say I’m impressed with how hard the guys at Panther work and the attention to detail I’ve seen with the racecars. I know the No. 4 car is very special to John Barnes, and I’m very much looking forward to the opportunity to race in the Delphi National Guard car starting in Australia.”


McLaren statement on appeal loss
The Paris-based FIA International Court of Appeal decided on Tuesday that the appeal presented by McLaren Mercedes, in hopes of overturning the time penalty which cost Lewis Hamilton his Belgian Grand Prix victory, was not admissible.

Since the post-race 25-second penalty was given in replacement of a drive-through sanction, the court decided that the same inadmissability applied, therefore putting an end to the proceedings.

The McLaren Mercedes team issued the following statement:

Statement from McLaren Mercedes

The FIA International Court of Appeal has announced today that it has found Vodafone McLaren Mercedes' appeal in respect of the penalty awarded to Lewis Hamilton after the Belgian Grand Prix on September 7th to be inadmissible.

Martin Whitmarsh (Chief Operating Officer, McLaren Group) said:
"We are naturally disappointed with today's verdict, and to have received no ruling on the substance of our appeal. No-one wants to win Grands Prix in court; but we felt that Lewis had won the Belgian Grand Prix, on track, in an exciting and impressive manner. 

Our legal team and witnesses calmly explained this, as well as our belief that the appeal should be admissible, to the FIA International Court of Appeal. It nonetheless decided that our appeal was inadmissible. We will now concentrate on the remaining four races of the 2008 Formula 1 season."

Lewis Hamilton said:
"People will probably expect me to be depressed about today's result, but that isn't me. All I want to do now is put this matter behind me and get on with what we drivers do best: racing each other. We're racers, we're naturally competitive, and we love to overtake. Overtaking is difficult, and it feels great when you manage to pull off a great passing maneuver. If it pleases the spectators and TV viewers, it's better still. So I'm disappointed, yes, but not depressed."


BMW Announces U.S. Sales Slide
BMW has become the latest company to announce a dramatic decrease in sales in the U.S. market, with the company’s north American boss announcing that BMW USA has stopped shipment of 44,000 cars that were due to cross the Atlantic before the end of the year.

CEO Jim O’ Donnell, previously boss of BMW GB, reportedly took the decision due to the increasing cost of the incentives necessary to keep BMW’s sales figures buoyant in the states. The weakness of the U.S. The weakness of the U.S. dollar against the Euro has reduced BMW’s ability to make profits on American sales.

The news is a major blow for BMW – and proof of the depth of the economic slowdown. BMW sales in American had previously remained strong even as other European premium brands began to suffer.


Hamilton 'not depressed' after verdict
(GMM)  Championship leader Lewis Hamilton on Tuesday said he was "disappointed but not depressed" with the FIA's decision to reject the appeal against his stripped Belgian GP victory.

The International Court of Appeal on Tuesday announced that the appeal, lodged by Hamilton's team McLaren, was not admissible because drive-through penalties - even when they take the form of a 25-second time penalty - are not subject to appeal.

"People will probably expect me to be depressed about today's result, but that isn't me," said the British driver, whose 1 point lead over Ferrari's Felipe Massa would have been increased to 7 had the appeal succeeded.

"I'm disappointed, yes, but not depressed.  All I want to do now is put this matter behind me and get on with what we drivers do best: racing each other," Hamilton, 23, added.

Team chief executive Martin Whitmarsh said he was disappointed that the Court of Appeal offered "no ruling on the substance of our appeal".


FIA rejects Hamilton appeal UPDATE Here is the full FIA press release explaining the decision:

At the Grand Prix of Belgium, run on 7 September 2008, and counting towards the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship, the Stewards of the meeting imposed a drive-through penalty upon the driver of car No. 22, Lewis Hamilton, for a breach of Article 30.3 (a) of the 2008 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations and Appendix L, Chapter 4, Article 2 (g) of the International Sporting Code.

As the drive-through penalty was imposed at the end of the race, 25 seconds were added to the driver’s elapsed race time in accordance with Article 16.3 of the FIA 2008 Formula One Sporting Regulations.

Article 152 of the International Sporting Code states that drive-through penalties are “not susceptible to appeal”.

The competitor Vodafone McLaren Mercedes appealed the Steward’s decision before the International Court of Appeal in a hearing in Paris on September 22nd.

Having heard the explanations of the parties the Court has concluded that the appeal is inadmissible.

The International Court of Appeal was presided over by Mr. Philippe NARMINO (Monaco), elected President, and composed of Mr. Xavier CONESA (Spain), Mr. Harry DUIJM (Netherlands), Mr. Thierry JULLIARD (Switzerland) and Mr. Erich SEDELMAYER (Austria).


Article 16.3  of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations provides as follows:

The stewards may impose any one of three penalties on any driver involved in an Incident:
a) A drive-through penalty. The driver must enter the pit lane and re-join the race without stopping.
b) A ten second time penalty. The driver must enter the pit lane, stop at his pit for at least ten seconds and then re-join the race.
c) a drop of ten grid positions at the driver’s next Event.

However, should either of the penalties under a) and b) above be imposed during the last five laps, or after the end of a race, Article 16.4b) below will not apply and 25 seconds will be added to the elapsed race time of the driver concerned.

Paragraph 5 of Article 152 of the International Sporting Code provides as follows:

Penalties of driving through or stopping in pit lanes together with certain penalties specified in FIA Championship regulations where this is expressly stated, are not susceptible to appeal.


Appeal lodged by the Motor Sports Association (MSA) on behalf of its license-holder Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, against Decision N° 49 taken by the Panel of Stewards on 7 September 2008 at the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix, an event run on 7 September 2008 and counting towards the 2008 Formula One World Championship

Hearing of Monday 22 September 2008 in Paris

The FIA INTERNATIONAL COURT OF APPEAL ("the Court"), comprised of Mr. Philippe NARMINO (Monaco), who was elected President, Mr. Harry DUIJM (Netherlands), Mr. Erich SEDELMAYER (Austria), Mr. Xavier CONESA (Spain) and Mr. Thierry JULLIARD (Switzerland), met in Paris on Monday 22 September 2008 at the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, 8 place de la Concorde, 75008 Paris.

The Court, ruling on the appeal submitted by the Motor Sports Association (MSA) on behalf of its license-holder Vodafone McLaren Mercedes ("McLaren") against Decision N° 49 taken by the Panel of Stewards on 7 September 2008 at the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix, run on 7 September 2008 and counting towards the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship, heard presentations and considered arguments presented by the MSA/Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and by the Fédération Internationale Automobile (“FIA”).

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Dario Franchitti bullish on Surfers race
Dario Franchitti back to IndyCars after NASCAR try fizzled
Although the official and complete IndyCar Series Nikon Indy 300 entry list will not be released by the category’s management until the two weeks preceding the Event, the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team has officially confirmed Dario Franchitti will begin his new position as the team-mate of Brisbane-born Kiwi Scott Dixon on the streets of Surfers Paradise.

“It is quite ironic that I will be making my return to open-wheel racing with Target Chip Ganassi Racing at one of my favorite events anywhere in the world on the streets of Surfers Paradise,” said Franchitti.

“Fans and fellow drivers continually ask me about the Surfers Paradise race and it really is hard to put how great the event is into words.

“You have to experience it to understand the amount of work that goes into making it one of the world’s great sporting festivals.

“The promoters are passionate, the fans are passionate, the media are passionate and the sponsors work it.

“It is hard for the drivers and the teams not to be caught up in all that and enjoy what really is one of the great street events anywhere.”

Franchitti was the 1999 winner of what was then a CART sanctioned event at Surfers Paradise.

The fight for the series title between he and Juan Pablo Montoya – who is now a Chip Ganassi Racing Felix Sabates NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver - took a dramatic turn at that race as Franchitti stormed to a victory from the pole to unseat the rookie sensation Montoya for the championship lead before a record crowd.

With over 180 starts under his belt between the CART and IndyCar Series resulting in 18 wins, 17 poles, 63 top-five and 95 top-10 finishes (1997-2007), Franchitti is the ‘winningest’ driver in U.S. open-wheel history from Great Britain.


McLaren preview of Singapore GP
Formula 1 continues to break boundaries as it travels to the Republic of Singapore for Asia’s first street race and the first night race in the history of the sport.

The anti-clockwise, 5.067km track will wind through the heart of one of the world’s most striking and energetic cities. The drivers will race on public roads past landmarks such as the historic Anderson Bridge, St Andrews Road and Raffles Boulevard.

The Singapore event is the second Grand Prix of the season to take place in a city state, Monaco being the other location. However, unlike the tight, twisting Monte Carlo track, the Asian street circuit is wider and significantly faster. An average speed of about 175km/h was calculated for this track. The average speed during qualifying in Monaco this year was about 160km/h. The drivers are expected to reach top speeds of approximately 290km/h along the main straight.

The temporary lighting system is in itself a feat of engineering. 108,423 meters of power cables, 240 steel pylons and around 1,500 light projectors are installed, creating light that is four times brighter than that used at sports stadiums.

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Ford sales chief says customers feel pinch
The credit crisis pummeling Wall Street is going to make an already tough car market that much more challenging, said Jim Farley, head of sales and marketing for Ford Motor Co.

"The credit issue is becoming a big deal for them as consumers," he told reporters during a dinner Monday night. "It will affect our industry."

Many consumers have seen their credit scores fall even though nothing about their finances has changed, Farley said. Leasing is no longer an option for many customers, and they can't access their home equity to help finance auto purchases.

"It's just more pressure on the customer," he said.

Ford is responding by offering more generous loyalty incentives to existing customers, trying to lure them back into showrooms with extra cash. But Farley said the market is proving too difficult for some dealers, many of whom have been under profit pressure in recent years.

Analyst Erich Merkle of Crowe Horwath said the credit crunch is definitely affecting sales in the United States.

"It's going to continue to constrain sales for the foreseeable future," he said. Detroit News


GM shares fall amid cash flow fears
General Motors Corp. shares fell 11.5% in Monday trading after analysts said the automaker's plan to draw the remaining $3.5 billion from a revolving credit line indicated it may be using up available funds at a rapid pace.

The stock price fell even though GM was among 137 companies added to the list of companies whose stock could not be sold short.

That safety net was not enough to shake concerns that the automaker's cash reserves could run low, which prompted Goldman Sachs to cut its ratings on GM stock and Fitch Ratings to cut GM's credit rating.

Citigroup and others cited Friday's late-afternoon borrowing as a cautionary -- if perhaps shrewd -- move.

"It does suggest the 2008 second-half cash burn remains quite severe," Citigroup Inc. analyst Itay Michaeli said in a note to clients Monday. "We do not view the move as a sign of imminent financial distress." Michaeli, based in New York, rates the company's shares "hold."

GM may need to raise as much as $8 billion to help finance monthly operating expenses of $11 billion to $14 billion, Goldman, Sachs & Co. analyst Patrick Archambault said in a note. Detroit Free Press


Formula Two moves ahead
MotorSport Vision (MSV) has won the tender to supply chassis and engines for the new FIA Formula Two Championship, following a fax vote of the FIA World Motor Sport Council. As part of the winning tender it has been agreed that MSV will be the promoter of the Championship as well as the operating entity for all of the cars.

MSV has commissioned WilliamsF1 to design the car, which will incorporate a turbocharged 1.8 liter Audi engine and be built to Formula One-level safety standards. The first prototype car is on schedule for its testing debut in November 2008, with the Championship due to start in May 2009 and comprising 16 races over eight events. Performance levels will be between Formula Three and Formula One and the cost per competing driver will be less than €250,000.

“The objective is to make top-level international single-seater racing available to drivers who at present have difficulty in raising enough money to demonstrate their talent. Formula One and other major championships will benefit by being able to draw on a far larger pool of drivers, while competitors from countries which do not yet have an established motor racing structure will find it easier to make progress,” said Max Mosley. “We hope to reveal talent that might otherwise never have emerged and we look forward to seeing drivers coming into Formula One with Super Licenses gained in Formula Two.”

MSV, which is run by Jonathan Palmer, who won the penultimate FIA Formula Two Championship in 1983, has extensive experience in supplying race cars and promoting motor racing events. MSV owns and operates five circuits in the UK and has run the Formula Palmer Audi racing championship for the last 11 years. MSV is also the commercial and organizational rights holder for the British Superbike Championship.  FIA


Hamilton fights corner at FIA appeal
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton spent the whole of Monday sitting through the McLaren appeal in Paris, facing a full hour of cross-examination from FIA and Ferrari lawyers.

The British championship leader, who had his Belgian grand prix victory controversially stripped by stewards, made it clear he is as unprepared to shy away from a tussle in a courtroom as he was on the Spa-Francorchamps tarmac earlier this month.

"I said what was on my mind as I was being talked down to, but by no means am I an idiot," the 23-year-old explained afterwards, before setting off to catch a flight to Singapore.

"I had a right to my opinion," Hamilton added, when asked about the manner in which he responded to Ferrari QC Nigel Tozzi's line of questioning.

Answering one of Tozzi's questions, Hamilton had said: "Are you a racing driver?  No.  I have been a racing driver since I was eight years old and I know pretty much every single maneuver in the book, and that's why I'm the best at my job.

"We're talking about a skilled driver under intense pressure making a split-second decision which no one, unless they are in F1, can comprehend," he added.

When Tozzi suggested that Hamilton should not "personalize" Ferrari's argument, the cocky McLaren driver answered: "I beg to differ."


Ferrari drivers to work together - president
(GMM)  Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo says he is "confident" the team's drivers will work together to deliver the titles in 2008.

Amid fierce speculation in Italy that world champion Kimi Raikkonen should now concede the 2008 honors and fully support teammate Felipe Massa's campaign, the newspaper La Stampa asked Montezemolo for confirmation of this strategy for the remaining four races.

"I am confident, and so are Kimi and Felipe," he answered.

Montezemolo was asked what Ferrari can do if Raikkonen does not want to back Massa's charge for the drivers' championship.

"When drivers want to race only for themselves, it is better that you show them how to race for the team," he answered.


Vettel to win German award
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel, who at Monza recently became F1's youngest ever pole sitter and grand prix winner, is to be declared the 2008 'Motorsportler des Jahres' (motor sportsman of the year) by the Deutscher Motorsport Verband (German motorsport association).

An official ceremony is to take place in Frankfurt on 6 December.

In 2001, a then 14-year-old Vettel won the same association's junior motor sportsman of the year title.


Vettel test useful for RBR - Coulthard
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel's early test for his 2009 employer Red Bull Racing was about more than just allowing the German to acclimatize to the Renault-powered team.

That is the claim of retiring RBR racer David Coulthard, who says the Milton-Keynes based squad was also keen to learn about why it has fallen behind the pace of Red Bull's junior team, Toro Rosso.

Vettel, 21, won the Italian grand prix from pole just over a week ago, leading some to wonder if Toro Rosso is simply reaping the benefits of a better Ferrari engine with a near-identical Adrian Newey-penned chassis.

Writing in his online column for ITV, Coulthard said of Vettel's Jerez test: "The other aim was to help crystallize what the differences are between the RB4 chassis and the STR3 that Toro Rosso use, in terms of grip, drivability and so forth."

37-year-old Coulthard said Vettel's race-winning form was the perfect opportunity for him to compare the teams' respective cars and give feedback about other reasons for the performance differences.

"So it was a useful exercise for both Sebastian and the team," said the Scot.


Hamilton says he's the best driver in the world
Lewis Hamilton proclaims himself to be the best driver (Were they to be on the same team, Sebastian Vettel would bury him)
A cocky Lewis Hamilton proclaimed during a grueling five-and-a-half-hour International Court of Appeal hearing in Paris that he is the best driver in the world.

Lawyers representing McLaren, the FIA and Ferrari initially argued for two hours if the appeal against a retrospective 25-second drive-through penalty imposed against Hamilton at the Belgian Grand Prix 15 days ago was admissible. 

After an adjournment, Hamilton then stood up to the test of effectively being put on the stand, holding firm under cross-examination from Ferrari’s counsel, Nigel Tozzi QC.

At one point Hamilton rounded on Tozzi as he attempted to explain the incident, saying: “Are you a racing driver? No. I have been a racing driver since I was eight years old and I know pretty much every single maneuver in the book, and that’s why I’m the best at my job.

“We’re talking about a skilled driver under intense pressure making a split-second decision which no one, unless they are in F1, can comprehend.”


Singapore GP - It will be hot, wet and very humid
The Singapore track, home to this weekend’s fifteenth round of the season, is made up entirely of public roads; it has 23 corners and is one of only three circuits on this year's calendar to run in an anti-clockwise direction. The abundance of first and second-gear bends will result in an average lap speed of just 175kph (108mph), which is similar to Monaco, and will result in the cars running with maximum levels of aerodynamic downforce.

As at the new Valencia Street Circuit last month, the Honda Racing F1 Team has left nothing to chance ahead of the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix. The team did a 3D track scan of the circuit several months ago, which provided the engineers with data about the track surface and the corner profiles, and was added to the simulation programmes at the factory.

With the race taking place at night, the team also faces the prospect of the track temperature being cooler than the air temperature. This could create slippery conditions for the drivers and with the circuit's unforgiving barriers just inches away, the Singapore Grand Prix is sure to be an enthralling and exciting contest.

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Yamamoto confirmed at ART for GP2 Asia
ART Grand Prix has announced that Sakon Yamamoto will defend their colors in the 2008/09 GP2 Asia championship, which will get underway in Shanghai on October 18th.

The Japanese racer joined the French based squad earlier this year when he joined Romain Grosjean late in the season to contest ART Grand Prix’s GP2 European Series challenge. After impressing team bosses, Sakon will therefore continue his partnership with the team for the 12 Asian events.

“Sakon demonstrated that he was a fast driver in each of the categories he contested. His last results did not give grace to his talent, his determination and professionalism, but ART Grand Prix is convinced he will be able to aim higher with them,” said Frédéric Vasseur.

“Sakon is a driver with a big technical background and he is without a doubt one of the very best Asian drivers at the moment. He was missing the right tools to do great things in the past, but we will do everything in our power to make of ART Grand Prix a springboard for his success,” added Nicolas Todt.


Hamilton tells appeal court he did no wrong at Spa
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton told a Formula One appeal court on Monday that he had gained no advantage from a chicane-cutting controversy that cost him victory in this month's Belgian Grand Prix.

The 23-year-old championship leader was demoted from first to third at Spa-Francorchamps after cutting a chicane in a duel over the closing laps with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

Although he gave the place back on the straight before overtaking the world champion into the next corner, stewards ruled the Briton had gained an advantage by failing to give the place back satisfactorily.

Asked whether he had done so, Hamilton told the International Automobile Federation (FIA) appeal hearing: "I believe so hand on heart."

Hamilton, who will see his lead over Ferrari's Brazilian Felipe Massa stretch from one point to seven if McLaren win their appeal, said he had no choice but to cut the chicane to avoid a crash with Finland's Raikkonen.

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SPEED Set for Petit Le Mans Broadcast
One of the premiere endurance races in North America will once again play out on SPEED’s multiple media platforms, as both SPEED and SPEEDtv.com will broadcast from picturesque Road Atlanta during the 2008 Petit Le Mans. On Oct. 2, six-and-a-half total hours of race coverage from the penultimate event of the 2009 American Le Mans Series season starts at 11 a.m. ET with the start of the 1,000-mile sports car classic.

Long time sports car play-by-play announcer Leigh Diffey will anchor this year’s coverage, as 1989 Trans-Am Series Champion Dorsey Schroeder and road racing veteran Calvin Fish provide color commentary from the booth. On pit road, former racers Brian Till and Chris Neville are set to be joined by sports car insider Jamie Howe to cover the many storylines throughout the weekend.

In addition, similar to this year’s coverage from the historic 12-hour race from Sebring, Fla., SPEED will host a Petit Le Mans special on Thursday, Oct. 2 starting at 7 p.m. ET. The show will originate pit side, previewing the race and providing a taste of on-track activity and off-track reaction as the race’s night practice session unfolds. Then, on Oct. 3, qualifying will be streamed live by SPEEDtv.com starting at 3:25 p.m. ET.

This will be the network’s 10th year of broadcast coverage from the race’s 11 years of existence.

“The Petit Le Mans special will celebrate the first 10 years of this great endurance race,” said Rick Miner, SPEED SVP of Studio Production & Operations. “The show will also preview that Saturday’s race, especially with the great background of night practice where we’ll be able to interview drivers and get the impressions immediately after they leave the track.”


Esteban Gutierrez drives for Mexico in A1GP
Esteban Gutierrez
A1 Team Mexico confirmed today that Esteban Gutierrez will drive for Mexico in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in the rookie sessions, during Season Four that will have the season opener at Circuit Park Zandvoort, Netherlands on October 3 - 5.

"On behalf of A1 Team Mexico we welcome Esteban Gutierrez, who is a talented Mexican driver and recently won the European Formula BMW Championship in a great fashion," A1 Team Mexico spokeswoman, Rosa Elena Torres said.

"Esteban's driving skills were evident for the Mexican team last year when he participated in an A1GP test session. Since then we wanted him to join us, but due to the requirements for competing in the European Formula BMW he was unable to be with us. Now the situation is different and we feel very proud to have him in the team. Gutierrez will participate in the rookie sessions, in preparation for competing later in the A1GP races," she added.

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Conquest Racing to Partner with Zytek, Team LNT at Petit Le Mans
After taking on a new project in the IndyCar Series this season, Conquest Racing will now be taking on a second one as it makes its first foray into the world of sports car racing. The open-wheel team announced today that it will be present at Petit Le Mans on October 4 by providing Zytek and Team LNT with personnel, engineering and logistical support.

Team LNT, who is making its American Le Mans return and first appearance in prototype competition in North America, announced last week that it was entering a Ginetta-Zytek LMP1 car in the 1000-mile / 10-hour race which takes place at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. The car will be driven by Danny Watts and a second driver still to be announced.

While this will be Conquest’s first venture into the American Le Mans Series, the team is hoping to learn as much as they can about it with hopes of eventually having a bigger presence in the series in the near future.

“We’re very pleased to support and help the LNT Zytek Group for the Petit Le Mans race,” expressed Eric Bachelart, Conquest Racing team owner. “We are definitely looking to get involved in the American Le Mans Series in 2009 on top of our IndyCar Series program and this is a great opportunity to learn about the series from the inside.”

Petit Le Mans powered by the Totally New MAZDA6 from Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia takes place on October 4 with live coverage on SPEED starting at 11:00 a.m. eastern time. The race is scheduled to start at 11:15 a.m. eastern time and will also air live on XM Satellite Radio on Channel 166. The 1000-mile/10 hour event is the 10th round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series.


NJMP Hosts NASCAR¹s Next Stars at Loud Energy Drink 150
Officials and staff at New Jersey Motorsports Park are gearing up for the final professional racing event of the 2008 season, the Loud Energy Drink 150 featuring the ARCA RE/MAX Series. The track will host several series over the weekend, including the ARCA RE/MAX Series, SPEED World Challenge GT, Playboy Mazda MX-5 Series, Volkswagen TDI Cup and Formula BMW Series.

Unquestionably, the highest profile driver competing at NJMP during the ARCA weekend will be American Scott Speed, the former Formula One driver, Red Bull star and ARCA RE/MAX points leader.  Speed, whose long-time backing from Red Bull earned him two seasons in Formula One, will make his NASCAR Sprint Cup debut later in 2008. He has claimed four victories to date in the ARCA Series in 2008, as well as one in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. 

The SPEED World Challenge GT Series is home to many manufacturers’ racing programs, including perennial adversaries Cadillac, Porsche, Ford and Dodge. Points leader Randy Pobst will look to close in on a third World Challenge GT Championship. Pobst, who drives a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup for K-PAX Racing, holds a slim lead over GM Factory Driver Andy Pilgrim and his Cadillac CTS-V with two races left to go in the season. 


Peugeot Down to One Car at Petit After LMS Crashes
Peugeot's dual entries for Petit Le Mans had changed overnight to a single entry on September 16th on the AmericanLeMans.com website, and the French team finally confirmed the change today. "The incidents at Silverstone have called for us to otherwise commit technical resources which were initially planned for Road Atlanta," said Peugeot Sport Director Michel Barge. "It is important for Peugeot to take part in this race in order for the team and the technical department to gain even more experience. To ensure we have the necessary resources that our participation in this race requires, just as we did at Sebring earlier this year, we have consequently decided to enter just one car."

Of the five known 908 chassis, one was destroyed at the pre-Le Mans test on June 1st, one seriously damaged at Silverstone September 15th, and one has been converted to the new 908 HY Hybrid demonstration car. Despite having two chassis available Peugeot is believed to be unwilling to risk damage to both remaining 908's and have reduced their Petit Le Mans entry by one as a result. In reducing to a single entry, Peugeot has also consolidated their driving effort, placing their two fastest pilots together for the 10 hour race. More at SPEEDTV.com


Pantano ready for F1, Senna not - Zanarini
(GMM)  Giancarlo Fisichella's manager says Giorgio Pantano, the newly crowned GP2 champion, is ready to move up to formula one.

But the Italian, who with Fisichella runs a team in the feeder category, believes the much-vaunted Bruno Senna, who apparently has had contact with nine of F1's ten teams about 2009 and beyond, is not ready.

"Obviously in the car he's a very good driver, but he's not ready yet," Zanarini, who previously guided Eddie Irvine's formula one career, told GP Week.  "He's not Hamilton or Rosberg."

Zanarini is, however, impressed with 29-year-old Pantano, who after several campaigns in GP2 and its predecessor F3000, finally won the title a couple of weeks ago at Monza.

"The problem for him is that formula one probably will not want him because of his age and because he's been there before.  But certainly he deserves the attention of every manager.

"If it can happen for (2007 champion Timo) Glock then it can happen for Giorgio," Zanarini added.

tv news

Motorsports This Week on ESPN and ABC
The Chase is On: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Live from Kansas on ABC

NASCAR’s version of the playoffs continues this week with the third race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as the series visits the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. ESPN on ABC’s high-definition telecast of Sunday’s 400-mile race begins at 1 p.m. ET with NASCAR Countdown. ABC will have live coverage of all 10 races that make up the Chase.

ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will have live coverage of NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying at Kansas on Friday, Sept. 26, at 4 p.m., and same-day coverage of final practice airs Saturday, Sept. 27, at 6:30 p.m. The race telecast re-airs Monday, Sept. 29, at noon on ESPN Classic.

Dr. Jerry Punch will be lead announcer, joined in the booth for analysis by 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Dale Jarrett and two-time champion crew chief Andy Petree. Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Mike Massaro and Shannon Spake will be pit reporters with two-time champion crew chief Tim Brewer in the ESPN Tech Center.

The pre-race NASCAR Countdown show from the ESPN pit studio will be hosted by Allen Bestwick, with 1989 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Rusty Wallace and analyst Brad Daugherty. The studio team will interact with the booth during the telecast of the race.

Race day on ABC also includes a presentation of Lifelock’s Greatest Racing Identities – Motorsports Explained at 12:30 p.m.

NASCAR Nationwide Series Live on ESPN2 from Kansas

ESPN2’s season-long coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series continues with a live telecast of the event at Kansas Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 27, beginning at 3 p.m. ET with NASCAR Countdown. The race also airs in high definition on ESPN2 HD and will be simulcast on ESPN Deportes.

In addition, ESPN2 airs same-day coverage of NASCAR Nationwide Series final practice from Kansas Speedway on Friday, Sept. 26, at 6 p.m.

Analysts Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree will call the race with lead announcer Dr. Jerry Punch. Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Mike Massaro and Shannon Spake will report from the pits, while Tim Brewer will be in the ESPN Tech Center. Allen Bestwick will host NASCAR Countdown with analysis by Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty.

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track news

Red Bull plans, gov’t to upgrade A1-Ring UPDATE #6 (GMM)  Four years after the former grand prix venue was demolished, the A1-Ring circuit in Austria is finally set to be rebuilt.

Work at the circuit in Zeltweg, supported by Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz, begun this week, following years of to-ing and fro-ing about the fate of the former Osterreichring.

Austria's 'sportnet' reports that Mateschitz is injecting about 70 million euros into the project.

The restored A1-Ring is to get new pit buildings and grandstands, after the originals were knocked down in anticipation of a bigger redevelopment following the last Austrian grand prix in 2003.

The restored circuit should be up and running by 2010.

"I am happy that Dietrich Mateschitz kept his word and the project is finally on track," Styria politician Christian Buchmann is quoted as saying.

Originally known as the Osterreichring, the circuit was built in the late 1960s and updated in 1997 to host seven more grands prix until 2003.

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racing news

Quotes of the Week UPDATE “We’re going to run a fiscally responsible company. We have no plans on running less than four but we’ll do what we need to do to make good business sense.”  DEI President of Global Operations Max Siegel, on NASCAR still planning on fielding four cars in the Sprint Cup series next year

"All team bosses are gangsters, one after the other. Nevertheless I want to race there, because Formula 1 is the highest level of motorsport. Once you are in there, one won't notice it very much, but you must however protect yourself well." Giedo Van der Garde, current leader, World Series by Renault

"I'll tell you what. I wouldn't have wanted to be in his [Jack Roush] position. I'd have crapped my pants watching those three [team] cars running into each other. We were going at it. That was Friday, Saturday night short track racing, where we all came from -- but there's so much on the line." Greg Biffle, NASCAR driver, Roush Fenway Racing, winner of the second race in a row for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, at Dover International Speedway

“The biggest thing I want to get across is to apologize to NASCAR and their officials, Ron Hornaday, [crew chief] Rick Ren, KHI, our sponsors, … [and] to all the fans, especially the families that have to try to explain to their children like I had to do on Sunday that it’s not OK to fight, it’s not OK to let your tempers flare and get into those kind of confrontations. Sometimes you get passionate about what you do and sometimes you do things out of passion and you have to serve the penalties and consequences.” Mike Hillman Jr., Germain Racing, crew chief for Todd Bodine, Craftsman Truck Series

"We hoped to finish a little higher today, but we were turned around late in race, but we did what we had to do. After three straight seasons finishing second in this championship, it's great to be back on top. To accomplish what we have all season is just a testament to everyone involved - the entire Chip Ganassi Racing team, everyone at Lexus and TRD and we couldn't have done it without the support of a great partner in TELMEX. The record is great, but I'll look back on that more at the end of my career. Right now, it's all about winning this championship and all the guys that have worked so hard. Nobody puts together a better effort than Chip Ganassi." Scott Pruett, Grand-Am driver, winner of Daytona Prototype championship along with teammate Memo Rojas, TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

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Hamilton confident no problems under Singapore stars
World championship pace-setter Lewis Hamilton is confident he will overcome any problems thrown up by racing at night around a street circuit at the Singapore Grand Prix this week.  The McLaren driver, who attends an FIA appeal tribunal later Monday to try to overturn a controversial 25 second penalty he picked up winning the Belgian Grand Prix, is excited at racing under the stars.

"I'm looking forward to visiting the country, trying the food, seeing what the track is like, seeing what it will be like to race on," said the Briton, who wants back the championship points he was deducted in Belgium.

He was adjudged to have cut a chicane during a duel with Finnish rival Kimi Raikkonen in the closing laps. The verdict of the appeal is expected to be published on Tuesday.

Hamilton has 76 points, just one more than rival Felipe Massa ahead of the remaining Grand Prix races in Singapore, Japan, China and Brazil.

"The race will be quite a fun challenge and I like a challenge," Hamilton said of Singapore.

"I've never raced at night before but I don't think it is going to be a problem. It doesn't seem to be a problem in other sports and there have been huge preparations for this so I think it will be great.

"We are racing on another street circuit which are a particular favorite of mine.

"From what I understand it is wide and fairly flowing in nature, which is not what you usually expect from a street circuit, but it sounds like it will be pretty spectacular."


China recalls its podium stars
Ho-Pin Tung and Congfu Cheng will both race for A1 Team China in 2008/09, the team has announced.

The pair are notable in that they have been behind the wheel when China has secured its two podium finishes to date in A1GP, with Tung taking third in Sydney in 2007, and Cheng finishing a famous third on home soil in Zhuhai early in Season Three.

Both drivers will race at some point this season, with Tung getting the nod to be recalled to race in the opening round at Zandvoort on 5 October. However, no driver choice has been announced beyond that round, which means the honor of being A1 Team China driver at their home race, A1GP Chengdu on November 9 is up for grabs.

“It is great to bring these two talented Chinese drivers together in A1 Team China,” said vice president Steven Lu.

“We have much more confidence in the new A1GP season, and would like to win more trophies and pride back to China. We Chinese people surprised the world in the Beijing Olympic Games, and we believe we can do the same in A1GP.”


Whitmarsh: Justice will be served
Martin Whitmarsh is hoping to see justice served when Lewis Hamilton takes on the FIA's International Court of Appeal in Paris on Monday.

Hamilton is seeking to overturn the retrospective 25-second penalty awarded by the stewards at the end of the Belgian Grand Prix which resulted in him being demoted from race winner to third.

If McLaren are successful, Hamilton would increase his lead in the Drivers' Championship over Felipe Massa from one point to seven, whilst the team would overhaul Ferrari in the Constructors' standings by a point.

The four judges will initially determine whether McLaren's appeal is admissible as under FIA rules a drive-through penalty "is not susceptible to an appeal."

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Q & A with Mercedes' Norbert Haug
Norbert Haug, Vice President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, analyses the points score established by McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen over the last few races, using numbers to demonstrate the team's championship push.

Haug also speaks of his anticipation regarding next week's Singaporean premiere, a new challenge to be held in a very different atmosphere.

After Monza, Lewis' advantage in the Drivers' Championship is only one point. Are you getting nervous now?

"We see no reason to be. In his 31 Grand Prix so far, Lewis scored 187 points, six on average per race. During this period, no other Formula 1 driver collected more points. In 26 of his 31 Grands Prix, Lewis finished in the points, 20 of those occasions finishing on the podium. We now want to pick up our good shape of the second third of the season, then we head into the right direction."

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A1GP Scores Big on New TV Deals
A1GP World Cup of Motorsport is due to hit the ground running with a full line of up of both new and renewed TV deals ensuring continued worldwide exposure for the series that kicks off Season Four in less than a month.

Commenting on the new agreements, A1GP's Director of Broadcast, Richard Dorfman said: “A1GP continues to attract new broadcasters around the globe along with our original family of carriers which have been with us since our inception. This is testament to the growing popularity and acceptance of the series by many of the worlds most highly viewed channels.”

A1GP has taken a major leap forward in Italy with the commitment of RAI. The national broadcaster, which hosts several channels, will broadcast all the races in Season Four in their entirety either live or slightly delayed. Complementing the new deal in Italy, A1GP is pleased to announce the signing of NT1 France, along with their channels such as Men and Motors, which will air the series in full.

Sky Sports, one of the top sports broadcasters in Europe and Five UK have both extended their agreements to broadcast the series.  Sky Sports has extended its contract for a further three seasons and will continue to broadcast live coverage of Saturday qualifying and Sunday’s races while Five will continue its highlights package in its regular late night sports slot within a week of the race.

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Hamilton buckling under pressure - Sauber
Peter Sauber says Hamilton is cracking under pressure
(GMM)  Formula one team founder Peter Sauber has revealed that, of the two main challengers, he would prefer to see his former driver Felipe Massa win the 2008 title.

Sauber, whose Hinwil based team is now controlled by BMW while he remains a small shareholder and consultant, raced as a privateer with customer Ferrari power for many years.

"If I follow my heart, I would say Massa because Ferrari obviously means a lot more to me," the 64-year-old Swiss, who actually dropped Massa at the end of 2002 before re-hiring him in 2004, said.

Sauber also told the Credit Suisse emagazine that he believes Massa, just a single point behind McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, is the more solid contender with four races to go.

"Both McLaren and Hamilton are showing some nerves," he said, questioning McLaren's handling of the Hamilton championship campaign.

"Hamilton was declared as this year's star and world champion even before the season got going.  This is in keeping with McLaren's style, but of course it's not true.

"That's a huge burden for a young man to bear and now, in one way or another, it has taken its toll.  He just can't take the pressure."


Alonso won't rule out McLaren return
Without directly saying it, Fernando Alonso has not ruled out a return to McLaren should Ron Dennis retire
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has refused to rule out re-joining the McLaren team in the future.

Less than a year after his acrimonious split and contract termination with the Mercedes-powered team, it is clear that McLaren is not among the Spaniard's options for 2009.

"I am someone who never says something is impossible," the 27-year-old former double world champion is quoted as saying by Spanish press, "but a lot of things (at McLaren) would have to change."

It is widely believed that Alonso's personality clash with his 2007 teammate Lewis Hamilton was a crucial element to his failed McLaren tenure.

"I never had problems with him directly.  He is a driver I respect," he insists.

"It is true that we did not get on very well, but it was more the team's fault and how the bosses handled it.

"I respect him because, in only his second year, he is doing a very good job.  He is a good driver and there is nothing more to say," Alonso added.


Hamilton appeal verdict due Tuesday
A smug Lewis Hamilton
(GMM)  The International Court of Appeal will publish its decision about McLaren's Lewis Hamilton Spa-Francorchamps appeal on Tuesday.

The FIA court is set to hear the matter in Paris on Monday morning, after the Mercedes-powered team objected to race stewards' imposition of a 25-second penalty for illegal overtaking that retrospectively cost championship leader Hamilton his Belgian grand prix win.

Up for grabs are the six points the 23-year-old Briton lost as a result of his demotion from first to third place, and Massa's promotion, but the court's first task will be to rule on whether McLaren's appeal is even admissible.

Although just days before official action kicks off under lights in Singapore, Hamilton will personally attend the hearing, to take place at the FIA's Place de la Concorde headquarters.

"We have to have faith in the system, and in the fairness of the FIA International Court of Appeal," said McLaren boss Ron Dennis.

The team's lawyers are expected to argue two key points: that Hamilton had to cut the Bus Stop chicane to avoid colliding with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, and that he then voluntarily ceded the gained place back to the Finn before launching a new pass at La Source one corner later.

In addition to the real-time advice given by race director Charlie Whiting, McLaren might also be holding some undisclosed evidence close to its chest, according to the German press.

"We are not going to discuss the hearing with the media in advance, so we ask for your understanding," Mercedes' Norbert Haug told the news agency SID.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo is also reluctant to comment.

"I just hope that the rules are upheld," the Italian said.

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