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Kent wins season finale, Edwards wins Championship
It was a thing of both myth and legend, a race that saw the mysterious stranger come out of nowhere and win from the pole in his first ever time in the car or on the track… but the deserving, hard-working, charming young American who put together a spectacular season goes on to win the championship and the huge, coveted prize that goes with it.

Richard Kent, an English karting champion with a background in the European Formula Palmer Audi series and a few Formula Renault U.K. races earlier this season, put the #77 Andersen Racing / Traka / Allied Building Supplies Mazda on pole during a gloomy, cold morning qualifying session.  In the warmth of the afternoon, he started in the lead, held it throughout and crossed the finish line 2.171 seconds ahead of John Edwards in the #7 AIM Autosport/ Mobil1 Mazda.  Edwards, however, with four wins under his belt already, started the race having only to score a podium finish to win the championship, and for the personable young racer, it was 'mission accomplished.'

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Rodriguez wins GP2 Race 1
Dams’ Kobayashi may have been the quickest man on track at the opening race of the GP2 Asia Series in China, but it was Roldan Rodriguez who claimed victory at the end of the 34 laps after the Japanese went too wide in the last stages of the event.

“I’m very happy!” he said. “I pushed all the way and made no mistake. On the first lap, Kamui braked later than me. I saw him far from me and when I looked again he was on my side. I chose to let him through rather than close the door and maybe crash. We pitted at the perfect time: the team made a great job. For tomorrow, I will start 8. I will adopt the same strategy: do the best I can. Of course, I will try and go for a podium. I want to leave Shanghai as the leader of the GP2 Asia Series and go home with two trophies.”

When the lights went off, poleman Rodriguez made a good start and kept Kobayashi at bay. However, at the wheel of a very competitive Dams car, the Japanese ace soon put pressure on the Spaniard and took the lead at the end of the first lap. He then drove a clean and consistent race, signing best laptime, until Lap 29 when he went off the line in turn 1. 

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Allan McNish voted top ALMS Driver of the Decade
Fans voted Allan McNish top ALMS Driver of the Decade
With the 10th season of the American Le Mans Series coming to a close, its fans are honoring the competitors who have made the first 10 years unforgettable. The Series announced its Drivers of the Decade - selected by its worldwide Internet audience - at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, site of the Monterey Sports Car Championships presented by Patr¢n.

Fans voted Audi's Allan McNish, a three-time American Le Mans Series LMP1 champion, as the Series' top Driver of the Decade. The Scot claimed championships in 2000, 2006 and 2007. He owns 26 Series victories, 12 pole positions and 15 fastest race laps. McNish added to his legacy with a sterling showing at Petit Le Mans by making up two laps in the first two hours and 45 minutes after he crashed his Audi R10 TDI on the pre-race reconnaissance lap.

McNish went on to win the race with Dindo Capello and Emanuele Pirro by 4.512 seconds.

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tv news

Burton, Berkman and Matchett on Wind Tunnel
Sprint CUP championship contender, Jeff Burton, will be a featured guest on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain this Sunday night. As the oldest driver in this year’s Chase, Burton is hunting for his first CUP title. After winning last week’s event in Charlotte, he moved up to 2nd in the standings heading into this week’s race in Martinsville. His team, Richard Childress Racing, has not won a CUP championship since 1994 when the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. won his 7th.

Erik Berkman, President of Honda Performance Development, will also be a featured guest on Wind Tunnel. In his first year as president of HPD, Honda and its Acura brand have had an amazing year in ALMS. With 4 class wins and 2 overall wins, they went into the finale this weekend with a shot to claim their first P2 manufacturer’s title. For next year, Acura will keep 2 entries in the P2 class, while they will move 2 others up to P1 to battle the dominant Audis.

Joining Dave Despain and his guests will be SPEED's expert Formula 1 Analyst, Steve Matchett.  Steve will discuss Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix and other news in Formula 1. Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain airs live Sunday night at 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm ET on SPEED.   


Briscoe on top in morning warmup
After losing out on pole position in qualifying Friday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Porsche posted the fastest time in a 25-minute warmup for the Monterey Sports Car Championships. Penske Motorsports’ Ryan Briscoe set the fastest time Saturday morning with a lap of 1:12.171 (111.635 mph) in the Porsche RS Spyder that he will share with Helio Castroneves.

Porsche and Acura are locked in a tight race for the LMP2 manufacturer championship with the German marque leading by eight points. Acura needs to sweep the class podium to claim the title.

Acura sat second in the warmup thanks to Franck Montagny’s lap of 1:12.217 (111.564 mph) in Andretti Green Racing’s Acura ARX-01b that he will drive with Tony Kanaan. Audi Sport North America’s Lucas Luhr was third-quickest and first in LMP1 in one of two diesel-powered Audi R10 TDIs.

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Tafel Racing signs Farnbacher to contract extension
Tafel Racing has exercised its option on 2008 American Le Mans Series Driver Championship Runner-up Dominik Farnbacher. The contract extension will return the resident of Ansbach, Germany to the Cumming, Ga.-based organization for a third consecutive season. Entering the October 18 season-finale, Farnbacher has three career American Le Mans Series GT2 class victories; St. Petersburg, Fla., Long Beach, Calif. and Mid-Ohio, eight podiums and two fastest race laps (Mid-Ohio and Road America).

All of his race victories have come in 2008 co-driving the No. 71 Tafel/Bell Micro Racing Ferrari F430 GTC with Dirk Muller (a native of Germany now living in Monaco). Farnbacher will be making his 25th career GT2 start on Saturday in the Monterey Sports Car Championships. 23 of his starts have come behind the wheel of a Tafel Racing entry.

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Dominik Jackson to drive Tottenham Hotspur entry
Tottenham Hotspur was the only team not represented at last night's draw.  That's because their pilot for this weekend was making a last minute dash from the UK.

With regular pilot Duncan Tappy unable to compete this weekend, the team had recruited Brazilian ex-Formula 1 driver Enrique Bernoldi to fill in this weekend.  However, Bernoldi suffered a hand injury at home in Brazil earlier in the week and is now a last minute withdrawal.

Spur's reserve driver Dominik Jackson has now been given the task of driving the club's blue and white machine this weekend.

Jackson undertook a lot of the shakedown runs for Superleague Formula when new cars were delivered to the teams including two days running at Barcelona and an additional run at Donington Park.

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team usa

Team USA learns Europeans race hard, very hard
After the elation of qualifying on the front row for their respective heat races yesterday, Team USA Scholarship winners Josef Newgarden and Conor Daly were brought back to earth this afternoon.

The two American teenagers faced a steep learning curve with their first-ever standings starts, not to mention their first experience of the no-holds-barred cut-and-thrust of British Formula Ford competition. Nevertheless, pole-sitter Newgarden earned a fourth-place finish in Heat One, while Daly’s car was stricken by a broken throttle linkage while running third in the early stages. Daly returned to the fray after a lengthy pit stop but was not classified in the final results.

Josef Newgarden
“The European driving style is much more aggressive [than in the U.S.] and you must learn how to cope with it,” said Newgarden. “Every little opportunity to pass must be taken advantage of and you must work to minimize your mistakes. I got a little bit of wheelspin at the start and Graham Carroll got past me going into Paddock. Then I got a little loose on the exit and someone else just got their nose alongside me going up the hill into Druid’s. I didn’t do a good enough job of blocking, so I lost another couple of places.” 

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Aussies petition to keep IndyCar race
Indy boss Tony George had better bring a mighty big suitcase when he arrives in Surfers Paradise early next week -- to take home the petition from passionate Indy fans Australia-wide who want the race planted firmly in the IndyCar calendar.

The Gold Coast Bulletin has been flooded with the pleas of motorsport fans who want to see the race stay, amid the uncertainty over the future of the great Surfers Paradise event.

You have your chance to voice your support by filling out the petition at the top of the page and posting it to The Bulletin.

"Keep Indy, forget the rapid rail," suggested Trevor. "OMG! Surfers without Indy?

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Bridgestone medium compound fastest at Shanghai
Lewis Hamilton has put his McLaren on pole position, using Bridgestone’s medium compound tyre to set a time of 1min 36.303secs at the Shanghai International Circuit for the Chinese Grand Prix. Hamilton will start tomorrow’s race from the head of the field and has the opportunity to clinch his first drivers’ championship title if the cards fall in his favour over the 56 laps of the race.

Hamilton’s lap was over three tenths quicker than second fastest driver, Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen’s teammate, Felipe Massa, set the third fastest time and will be joined on the second row by Fernando Alonso. Heikki Kovalainen  and Nick Heidfeld will start from fifth and sixth position.

Sebastian Vettel will start from seventh, with Panasonic Toyota Racing driver Jarno Trulli alongside him while Sebastien Bourdais will start from ninth place, and Nelson Piquet tenth on the grid. Mark Webber set the sixth fastest time in qualifying, however his Red Bull Racing team had earlier changed his engine, earning a ten place penalty on the grid, meaning that Webber will start tomorrow’s race from sixteenth place on the grid.

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Pioneering Green Technology
Where else can you find a motorsports series that maneuvers premier racecars and pioneers green technology? The American Le Mans Series is the only of its breed challenging manufacturers, teams and drivers to take that extra look under their hoods. For Paul Drayson, owner/principal of Drayson-Barwell, the decision to race competitively while testing alternative fuels on the racetrack to support this new life of endurance racing was an easy choice.

As one of the true believers in the future of alternative fuels, Drayson runs an Aston Martin Vantage GT2 on cellulosic E85. Educated in bio-technology, science and engineering, his passion merged with politics several years ago. He's also known as Lord Drayson, a former member of the British House of Lords and named two weeks ago as Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Minister of Science.

Nearing the end of 2007, Drayson asked the Prime Minister to take a year leave of absence from his responsibilities to participate in American Le Mans Series - the reasoning was a concern over energy. "There is some worry that this mass concern over energy is the flavor of the moment," Drayson said. "I think they are fundamentally wrong."

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Franck Perera storms to pole position
Franck Perera storms to pole in Portugal
AS Roma rookie Franck Perera stormed to pole position in an all-Italian qualifying shootout at the Estoril Superleague Formula event in Portugal today.

The 24-year-old rookie only drove the car for the first time this morning and became the second rookie in succession to earn the pole position in his Superleague Formula debut.

AS Roma became the fourth different qualifying pole-sitter in four rounds and the second Italian club to earn that honour.

Perera was fastest in the Group A qualifying session and went on to beat Corinthians's Antonio Pizzonia in the quarter final and Liverpool FC's Adrian Valles in the semi final to set up the all-Italian shootout for pole against AC Milan's Robert Doornbos.

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Alonso - 'I still want to race for Ferrari'
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has admitted he still harbors a dream to race for Ferrari one day.

The Spaniard has been persistently linked with the Italian marque this year, but it is now clear that - while weighing up a big-money offer from Honda - he is likely to stay at Renault for the 2009 season.

But he told Italy's Corriere dello Sport newspaper: "I admit that one day I would very much like to be with Ferrari.

"It's the best team in the history of formula one, and it is clear that those who go with them, are part of history," the former double world champion said.

Ferrari has elected to stick with its current drivers, Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa, for the next couple of years.

Alonso said the last two grands prix, which he won, have not compensated for a difficult season, because his only goal is to "win the title or at least be able to fight for it".

But he said: "I do not consider this a lost year.  I have remembered that I love formula one, and how to enjoy it."

The 27-year-old is believed to have been courted by BMW-Sauber for 2009, but Alonso denies that the deal fell through because he would not have fit in at the team.

"I have raced karts since I was three years old.  In the last 24 years I have been fine with all of my teams, except for one," Alonso said, expressing frustration that his disastrous year with McLaren in 2007 tarnished his reputation.

"It was the same team that had problems with Senna, Prost, Raikkonen and Montoya.  Perhaps the problem is with the team rather than with the driver," he told Germany's Stuttgarter Zeitung.


Roldan Rodriguez claims first GP2 win
Dams’ Kobayashi may have been the quickest man on track today at the opening race of the GP2 Asia Series in China, but it was Roldan Rodriguez who claimed victory at the end of the 34 laps after the Japanese went too wide in the last stages of the event.

When the lights went off, poleman Rodriguez made a good start and kept Kobayashi at bay. However, at the wheel of a very competitive Dams car, the Japanese ace soon put pressure on the Spaniard and took the lead at the end of the first lap. He then drove a clean and consistent race, signing best lap time, until Lap 29 when he went off the line in turn 1. Although he managed to continue, Rodriguez took the lead and crossed the finish line in first position, snatching his first GP2 win.

The race saw two safety cars, the first one after Sergio Perez stopped in the middle of the track. That’s when the leaders decided to pit, Kobayashi keeping the lead even after the restart. The second safety car was deployed after an impressive Sekigushi tried to overtake Filippi. The Japanese and the Italian eventually came together and both men had to retire. After the track was cleared, Kobayashi managed to keep Rodriguez at bay and tried to extend the gap. He pushed a little too hard, almost lost control of his car and the Spaniard drove to victory.

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FIA man defends stewarding system
(GMM)  FIA delegate Alan Donnelly has rejected calls for a former driver to occupy a permanent role in the F1 stewards room.

Donnelly, the non-voting advisor to the three nominated stewards at each grand prix, said he does not agree with claims the current system needs to be overhauled.

In an interview with Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport, he doubted that simply adding a driver to the system would improve it.

"Their experience is tied to the past, from when they used to drive.  And since then, let's say ten years ago, racing has changed," he said.

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Coulthard calls for revised stewarding system
David Coulthard has joined the chorus of drivers demanding the FIA beef up their stewarding system.

Although Coulthard retires from Formula One after 15 seasons in the sport following the Brazilian Grand Prix in a fortnight's time, the veteran Scot is hoping his voice will still be heard.

The current crop of drivers have become increasingly confused by a number of contradictory and controversial decisions made by the stewards throughout the course of the season.

That has been due in part to the FIA's rotational policy brought in at the start after dispensing with Tony Scott-Andrews at the end of last year, a permanent steward who attended every race.

Now, the three-man panel are alternated for each grand prix, and that has resulted in a lack of consistency in decision making.

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Heidfeld given 3 place grid penalty
Nick Heidfeld has been hit with a three-place grid penalty after impeding David Coulthard during qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.The BMW Sauber driver was punished after race stewards declared the German had stopped Coulthard from recording a flying lap in Q1.Heidfeld had qualified in sixth for Sunday's race but the decision, which came after an hour of deliberations, has seen him demoted to ninth on the grid.

"I have expressed my opinion about the incident. Now I will try tomorrow to do the best I can from P9," Heidfeld told autosport.com.

The action was taken after Coulthard launched a blistering attack on Heidfeld, claiming his opponent was guilty of 'unsportsmanlike behaviour'.

He said: "He would have known he was in the top ten already, so for me it was very unsportsmanlike behaviour, as all he did was screw up my last flying lap - there wasn't any intention of him doing a quicker time." sport.co.uk


NASCAR continues to be hit by bad economy
Anything associated with NASCAR has become an expensive proposition, whether it's running or sponsoring a team, backing a racing operation out of Detroit or just taking the family to the track for a nice weekend of racing. And with the U.S. economy as ragged and disjunctive as it has been, now might be the time for NASCAR to rethink the Nationwide and Trucks series.

The problems about to swamp the Sprint Cup series are obvious -- there's a lack of sponsorship money for operations with budgets that have ballooned to $25 million to $30 million a team. Dale Earnhardt Inc. is a four-team operation with four drivers and more than 60 race cars … and perhaps no major sponsorship at all next season, unless Teresa Earnhardt, General Motors executives and Richard Childress can make something happen.

But NASCAR's other two series are in similar trouble, and NASCAR is already looking at cutting the size of those fields for next season's races, because there might not be enough teams around. If that happens, NASCAR could be forced to renegotiate TV contracts, too.

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Rosberg admits 'danger' of stalled career
(GMM)  Nico Rosberg has admitted the "danger" of his formula one career losing momentum with more difficult seasons.

The German driver, who failed even to graduate through 'Q1' with his Williams in Shanghai, will also stay with the Oxfordshire based team next year.

But he admits that, in the fickle F1 world, memories of sensational promise are short.

"A certain danger exists, because the quality of the driver, in the eyes of others, is closely connected with the achievement of the car," he told Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeinen newspaper.

"Jenson Button is a good example," the 23-year-old continued.  "For me, he is still a really, really good driver.

"But his market value has gone down hugely since 2004", when he was third in the championship behind the Ferraris, Rosberg said.

He admits he has been "very disappointed" with his 2008 season.

"At the beginning of the year it looked very good.  I was third in Australia and expectations for a good season were high.  We were better than Renault.  But we have probably just done a bad job.

"Particularly with the development of the aerodynamics we have not kept up," said the forthright driver.

"For some years now Williams has had problems with the development of the car during the season.  But it is excusable because we have learned so much."


Car insurance may not cover you at the track
It is no secret that insurance companies don’t like the people they cover to drive fast. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the industry has been removing a policy loophole that insured drivers on racetracks.

That has left weekend warriors uninsured if they participate in track days or attend high-performance driving schools. Jerry Kunzman, executive director of the National Auto Sport Association, said that participation at its track events had jumped fivefold since 2003 and that many of those drivers had no idea they were not covered.

“Maybe 25 or 30 percent have done the research, the middle third just assumes they are covered, and the top third just don’t have a clue,” he said.

What’s happened is that many insurers have redefined the term “racing.” Policies have long had exclusions for racing, but it was defined as a “timed event.”

High-performance driver education neatly avoided that definition. Although cars may take laps at top speed, they aren’t timed.

At many schools, including those held by the Porsche Club of America and the BMW Car Club of America, students are required to attend classroom sessions. On the track, drivers get one-on-one tutoring from an instructor under controlled conditions. The cars are generally sent around the track in small groups with passing limited to straightaways — and only when the driver being passed signals that doing so is all right. So because these runs were not timed, many drivers were covered by their normal automobile policies.

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Roldan Rodriguez blitzes his way to pole

While everyone was waiting for Dams’ Kobayashi to sign pole position at the Shanghai track today, it was Spaniard Roldan Rodriguez who ended up at the prestigious spot on his last lap. The Japanese ace was almost once again the fastest man on track: after only four laps, he set the pace in a 1:45.492 and even went quicker at the chequered flag, but Rodriguez stole his thunder in a 1:45.233.

Another driver who could have gotten in the battle was Andreas Zuber, but the unfortunate FMS driver had to stop on his first out lap due to an engine problem. Nine minutes into qualifying, James Jakes lost control of his car and crashed. The session was red flagged for eight minutes. At that moment, Kobayashi was quickest ahead of Petrov and teammate d’Ambrosio, all three men under 1:46. With 21 minutes to go, the cars went back on track except for the two Dams. Ten minutes before the end of the session, Kobayashi and d’Ambrosio finally got back into action only to get back into the pits four minutes later as Al Fardan was stopped in the middle of the track: the Bahraini from GFH Team iSport lost the back of his car at turn 4 on cold tire.

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Pedrosa storms to pole in Sepang
Dani Pedrosa
Repsol Honda RC212V rider Dani Pedrosa stormed to a brilliant pole position at Sepang this afternoon, triumphing at the end of a complex session which started out on a soaking wet track. This is his first pole with Bridgestone tires, which he used for the first time three races ago, at last month’s Indianapolis GP.

Thanks to some clever work from his crew, Pedrosa timed his final run to perfection, snatching pole in the final moments of the session when the track was dry enough for slicks but still damp in places. Heavy rainfall hit MotoGP’s only tropical venue shortly before lunch, earlier than usual. Riders started the session on rain tires, switching to wets with about 20 minutes remaining. From that point on, lap times started tumbling, with pole position sometimes changing twice in a minute.

Pedrosa’s step-by-step approach to race preparation had paid dividends this morning when the Spaniard cut almost a second from his best Friday time to complete the third practice session less than two tenths off the fastest time, which had been set by a rival using qualifying tires.

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Dennis defends Hamilton's 'attitude'
(GMM)  Amid the widespread scrutiny of Lewis Hamilton, his mentor and team boss Ron Dennis has leapt to the Shanghai pole sitter's defense.

All and sundry in the paddock of the Chinese grand prix and beyond, the 23-year-old Briton's rivals, foes and supporters have been micro-analyzing his credentials and character as he looks to put a lid on his first world title.

Words like "aggressive" and "over confident" are now par for the course, and F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone believes Hamilton's brash attitude "irritates" some.

McLaren's Dennis said on Saturday: "Lewis is no different to any of the other great champions in sport; Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, they all had attitude."

Hamilton, who could wrap up the championship in China, has been the man to beat all weekend; fast throughout practice and qualifying, and ultimately two places ahead of his chief rival Felipe Massa on the grid.

"It looks like the McLaren guys had an easier car to put the lap together," the Ferrari driver said.  "Anyway we don't know how it is going to be in the race."


Ecclestone on phone about Canada axe
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone phoned Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay this week, indicating the Canadian grand prix might not be dead in the water.

The F1 chief executive scrapped Circuit Gilles Villeneuve's scheduled 2009 race, as it appears the dispute was over several million dollars in debts.

But with levels of Canadian government subsequently vowing to step in, chief race backer Tremblay revealed he has spoken with Ecclestone about scheduling a meeting.

"If he's phoning us, it's because he has an interest to hold the grand prix in Montreal in 2009," he is quoted as saying by the Canadian Press agency.


Hamilton 'not in F1 to make friends'
Lewis Hamilton in Shanghai
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton says the current waves of criticism do not affect him -- because he is used to it.

"It's been a similar thing my whole career," he told Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung newspaper, connecting his unpopularity among his peers with his success.

The McLaren driver, who is close friends with Adrian Sutil, also said he does not seek many friendships in the paddock.

"I am not a member of the GPDA and I don't participate in a lot of other things.  So I don't think they can judge me.  If they don't like me, it's perhaps because they don't know me.

"For lots of friendships we don't have time.  If I was here to make friends, then what they are saying about me would be a lot harder to take."

The venom of some of the disdain for the Briton is obvious, including from Fernando Alonso, who has vowed to help Felipe Massa to beat Hamilton to the 2008 title.

"Some like you, others hate you," Hamilton continued.  "That's a shame, because we are all people, and we're all here to do our jobs and not to fight."


Hamilton needs allies not enemies - Jordan
(GMM)  Former team owner Eddie Jordan has questioned Lewis Hamilton's brash approach, arguing that isolating himself from the F1 community is not a good idea.

"He's alienated the drivers against himself .. and I think it's a political game as much as it is a talent game," Jordan told the BBC.

"To have Hamilton alienated so much ... is a concern because we all know when you're in a fight you need as many allies as you can possibly find.

"He has the talent but he needs to learn the political wrangling of what goes on at grand prix racing," Jordan said.

The founder of the former Jordan team, which today is known as Force India, believes the root of the problem is Hamilton's personality, which is "too strong".

"He comes across absolutely so strong mentally that he is perhaps, dare I say, even too strong.  There's a point where you can actually go too far; there's a point you're perhaps not strong enough," he said.

Despite Hamilton's history with Fernando Alonso, Jordan believes the McLaren driver should learn from the Spaniard's titles in 2005 and 2006.

"Fernando ... has won two world championships, but more importantly, has won the last two races with a vastly inferior car.

"So that must tell you something, he's won it with a minimum of fuss, no hysterics and no drama, and this is the problem I have at the moment with Hamilton," Jordan added.


Chinese GP: Heidfeld fastest in final practice
BMW's Nick Heidfeld earned top honors by beating Lewis Hamilton in the final free practice session in Shanghai, China Saturday morning.

Hamilton led much of the hour, but when the field switched to soft tires in the closing minutes, the McLaren driver was narrowly beaten by 0.074 seconds.

Robert Kubica put the second BMW into third place, just 0.015 seconds behind Hamilton.

The Ferrari pair Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen are into panic mode, in 13th and 16th places respectively.


Driver Car Time Behind
1. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:36.061 +0.000
2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.135 +0.074
3. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:36.150 +0.089
4. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.324 +0.263
5. Trulli Toyota 1:36.396 +0.335
6. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:36.427 +0.366
7. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:36.642 +0.581
8. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:36.712 +0.651
9. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:36.713 +0.652
10. Piquet Renault 1:36.789 +0.728
11. Barrichello Honda 1:36.839 +0.778
12. Massa Ferrari 1:36.842 +0.781
13. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:36.901 +0.840
14. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:36.902 +0.841
15. Button Honda 1:36.958 +0.897
16. Alonso Renault 1:36.996 +0.935
17. Glock Toyota 1:37.053 +0.992
18. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:37.566 +1.505
19. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:37.648 +1.587
20. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:37.964 +1.903


Penalties possible after practice
(GMM)  Championship leader Lewis Hamilton could be penalized by stewards for an incident during Saturday morning practice in China.

During the last hour of practice before qualifying, the McLaren driver made a mistake on the pit entry road -- as he famously did one year ago at the Shanghai International Circuit.

This time, however, the 23-year-old avoided the famous gravel trap, instead running up an escape road.

But when he then selected reverse gear and backed into the pit entry before continuing into the pits, he may have contravened a fundamental rule.

Last month in Singapore, Toyota's Jarno Trulli was fined 10,000 after he drove the wrong way up the pit straight in order to enter the pits following a spin.

Article 30.2 of F1's sporting regulations says drivers are "strictly forbidden" from driving the wrong way around a circuit, "unless this is absolutely necessary in order to move the car from a dangerous position".

As well as the fine, Trulli was also officially reprimanded.

Meanwhile, Red Bull's Mark Webber is likely to drop ten places down the Chinese grand prix grid, after an obvious Renault engine failure in practice.


Q&A with Newman and Stewart
Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman appeared on Trackside Live! on SPEED Friday evening to discuss their pairing in the 2009 season at Stewart-Haas Racing and Stewart’s remaining races with crew chief Greg Zipadelli, among other topics.  Below are excerpts from the interview:

Elliott Sadler:  You’re not far from your work in progress, putting it all together for Daytona.  How are you feeling? How is it going?

Tony Stewart: “Obviously, you’d like to say everything is done and ready to go in the trailer for the test at Daytona but we’ve got a lot of work to go. We’re still hiring people now.  It’s like holding a grenade in your hand and pulling the pin and it’s like ‘tick, tick, tick’ to get ready for February because you know you have a short amount of time to get ready.  We’ve got Darian Grubb in place, we’re getting really close to having Ryan a crew chief and a GM to take care of everything over there.  I feel like things are coming together. In as short amount of time as we’ve had, I feel like things are coming together in a timely manner but you always want it to be quicker than it is.”

Steve Byrnes: I heard you doing an interview … one of the things that you were pleased with was hearing from a lot of guys who want to come work for your operation.  I would imagine that’s pretty gratifying and shows respect.

TS: “Probably the most flattering part of starting and having the team so far is that we’ve had so many good guys from so many different teams come to us and send us resumes saying ‘we want to part of this, we’re excited about what you’re doing and we know you’re dedicated and we want to be a part of it in some way.’  That’s the good thing.  It’s really good when you know you’re going to hire some people and you don’t know you have an option until you have two or more.  But we’ve got a lot of people and I feel confident we’re going to put together a group of guys.  There’s a lot of great people at the shop now and we’re going to be adding a lot of people to the program.  I feel confident we’re going to have good people for Ryan and myself to be successful next year.”

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Team USA Drivers do well in qualifying UPDATE #2 Both 2008 Team USA Scholarship excelled today during qualifying for tomorrow’s pair of qualifying heat races which will begin the competitive action for this weekend’s Formula Ford Kent Festival at Brands Hatch.

Newgarden was first on track this morning with his #21 Team USA Scholarship/Cliff Dempsey Racing Ray GRS07/8. After the brief but hectic 15-minute qualifying session, Newgarden had posted the fastest time of the week thus far to snare the pole position with a lap at 50.520 seconds. The lap record currently stands at 50.3 seconds.

A couple of hours later, Conor Daly ventured out for his heat’s qualifying session in the #22 Team USA Scholarship/Cliff Dempsey Racing Ray and posted the second fastest time at 50.720 seconds, just 0.073 seconds adrift of pole-sitter Patrick McKenna in a similar car.

“Qualifying today went extremely well for Conor and myself,” summarized 17-year-old Newgarden, from Hendersonville, Tenn. “We both managed to qualify on the front row for our heats and officially stamp our presence for this year’s Formula Ford Festival. I was a bit nervous before the session because I wanted to do so well, considering how good the week has gone so far.

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Kent tops opening Star Mazda practice
After most of a season of seeing the same half-dozen names at the top of the time sheets in practice, and race results, a new name has popped up – Richard Kent, an English karting champion with a background in the European Formula Palmer Audi series.  Driving the #77 Andersen Racing / Traka Mazda, Kent – in his first time at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and his first outing in a Star Mazda race car – set a fast lap of 1:12.074. 

This is almost 3/10ths of a second clear of the best lap set by championship points leader, and four-time race winner, American John Edwards.  He turned a 1:21.373 in The #7 AIM Autosport/ Mobil 1 Mazda.  In third was another 4-race winner, Irishman Peter Dempsey, currently third in the championship battle.  He turned a lap of 1:21.615 in the #21 Andersen Racing/LotusWorks/ Center Jewellers.ie/Quayside.ie/ Allied Building Products Mazda.

In fourth was another American, Joel Miller, with a lap of 1:22.090 in the ##20 JDC Motorsports / Mazda / K&N Air Filters Mazda.  Miller is the 2007 Skip Barber Pro Series Champion and is racing in the 2008 Star Mazda Championship courtesy of the MAZDASPEED Motorsport Driver Development Ladder scholarship.  Rounding out the top-5 was another unfamiliar name, an occasional competitor who usually runs in the Star Mazda West Coast regional series, Patrick O'Neill.  Driving the #64 Worldspeed  Motorsports / O’Neill Construction/ Molecule Mazda, he set a time of 1:22.179.


No. Name Best Tm In Lap Diff Gap
1 77 Richard Kent 1:21.074 18
2 7 John Edwards 1:21.373 12 0.299 0.299
3 21 Peter Dempsey 1:21.615 11 0.541 0.242
4 20 Joel Miller 1:22.090 18 1.016 0.475
5 64 Patrick ONeil 1:22.179 16 1.105 0.089
6 51 Alex Ardoin 1:22.390 10 1.316 0.211
7 30 Rick Rosin 1:22.721 12 1.647 0.331
8 15 Taylor Hacquard 1:22.790 8 1.716 0.069
9 17 Scott Rettich 1:22.816 11 1.742 0.026
10 22 Rusty Mitchell 1:22.906 10 1.832 0.090
11 5 Jonny Baker 1:23.120 13 2.046 0.214
12 29 Phil Fogg Jr. 1:23.332 14 2.258 0.212
13 19 Caio Lara 1:23.494 13 2.420 0.162
14 52 Dave Mundy 1:24.060 17 2.986 0.566
15 12 Chuck Hulse 1:24.109 15 3.035 0.049
16 16 Chris Cumming 1:24.139 12 3.065 0.030
17 48 Kristy Kester 1:24.154 12 3.080 0.015
18 24 J.C. Kester 1:24.601 9 3.527 0.447
19 86 Dave House 1:24.750 13 3.676 0.149
20 65 J.W. Roberts 1:24.950 18 3.876 0.200
21 14 Frank McCormick 1:25.502 15 4.428 0.552
22 91 Michael Guasch 1:25.751 10 4.677 0.248
23 4 Chris Hundley 1:26.459 15 5.385 0.708
24 55 Gerry Kraut 1:26.661 17 5.587 0.201
25 82 Billy Goshen 1:26.771 3 5.697 0.110
26 57 Pedro Serramalera 1:34.983 9 13.909 8.212


Laguna Seca: Pagenaud tops Friday morning practice
Simon Pagenaud
Simon Pagenaud must be a quick study. The young Frenchman posted the fastest time in Friday’s first official practice session for the Monterey Sports Car Championships presented by Patr¢n at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, site of the American Le Mans Series’ season finale. Pagenaud’s time of 1:11.967 (111.953 mph) in de Ferran Motorsports’ Acura ARX-01b headed a field that saw four LMP2 cars head the timesheet.

Pagenaud has only driven at the circuit in a Champ Car test session last spring. His teammate, team owner Gil de Ferran, has a lengthy history at the circuit including a CART victory in 1995.

Pagenaud was 0.297 seconds better than Penske Motorsports’ Ryan Briscoe in the Porsche RS Spyder that he will share with Helio Castroneves. The duo won the last LMP2 round at Petit Le Mans two weeks ago. Next in line was Adrian Fernandez in his Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura with a lap of 1:12.734 (110.771 mph). He will drive with Luis Diaz.

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Bernoldi lands Superleague ride
Superleague Formula’s mid-season driver shakeup sees former F1 and IndyCar pilot Enrique Bernoldi taking over the Tottenham drive for the upcoming race in Portugal.


Rain washes out Martinsville qualifying
Rain washed out all of Friday's on-track activity at Martinsville Speedway
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
NASCAR has officially canceled all on-track activities at Martinsville Speedway today because of rain.

The field for the Cup race will be set on owners points, which puts Hendrick Motorsports' Jimmie Johnson on the pole. Richard Childress Racing's Jeff Burton starts on the outside, followed by Roush Fenway Racing's Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway's Carl Edwards and Richard Childress Racing's Clint Bowyer. Phoenix Racing's Sterling Marlin and Derrike Cope, in the Rich Markle-owned No. 75, failed to make the race.

Starting Lineup


1 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's N/A
2 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility N/A
3 16 Greg Biffle Ford DISH Network Turbo HD N/A
4 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot N/A
5 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's N/A
6 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil N/A
7 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot N/A
8 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont N/A
9 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's N/A
10 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet AMP Energy / National Guard N/A
11 17 Matt Kenseth Ford R+L Carriers N/A
12 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Freight N/A
13 6 David Ragan Ford AAA Insurance N/A
14 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser N/A
15 8 Aric Almirola Chevrolet U.S. Army N/A
16 12 Ryan Newman Dodge Alltel N/A
17 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull N/A
18 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker N/A
19 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite N/A
20 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal N/A
21 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker N/A
22 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Best Buy / Garmin N/A
23 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet Kellogg's / CARQUEST N/A
24 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Big Red Slim Pack N/A
25 28 Travis Kvapil Ford All Sport N/A
26 44 David Reutimann Toyota UPS N/A
27 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet Super Clean / Menards N/A
28 38 David Gilliland Ford Digital TV Transition N/A
29 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target N/A
30 01 Regan Smith* Chevrolet DEI / Principal Financial Group N/A
31 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS N/A
32 66 Scott Riggs Chevrolet Haas Automation N/A
33 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar N/A
34 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Menards N/A
35 84 Scott Speed Toyota Red Bull N/A
36 77 Sam Hornish Jr.* Dodge Mobil 1 N/A
37 21 Bill Elliott Ford U.S. Air Force N/A
38 00 Mike Bliss Toyota Champion Mortgage N/A
39 10 A.J. Allmendinger Dodge Tow Truck in a Box N/A
40 96 Ken Schrader Toyota DLP HDTV N/A
41 45 Chad McCumbee Dodge Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil N/A
42 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row / DenverMattress.com N/A
43 70 Tony Raines Chevrolet Haas Automation N/A
44 175 Derrike Cope Dodge Derrike Cope Inc. -
45 109 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming


Ecclestone rules out comeback for Canada
Bernie Ecclestone
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has ruled out reinstating the axed Canadian Grand Prix as a replacement for France on what will now be a 17 race calendar next year.  Canada was dropped from a revised version of the calendar issued last week but the possibility of a reprieve was mooted when the French Grand Prix was scrapped for economic reasons on Wednesday.

Ecclestone told reporters at the Chinese Grand Prix, however, that there was no way back for the Montreal race next year and France would not be replaced in the schedule.

"They want 17 races, the teams, and that's what they've got," he said.

The Briton said the dates of some races would be changed to close the three-week gap left by the absence of the French race, which was due to take place at Magny-Cours on June 28.

"We'll have a look at that," he said. Reuters


Chinese GP: Team-by-team summary, Friday
Lewis Hamilton could wrap up the championship in China, and he got his bid off to the best possible start by topping both 90-minute practice sessions.  "While it is still difficult to tell at this early stage, we feel happy with our pace relative to the opposition," said team boss Ron Dennis.  Heikki Kovalainen was fourth in the morning but slumped to 13th in Shanghai's second session.


Felipe Massa was 4 tenths off Hamilton's pace in the morning, but seven tenths too slow in the afternoon.  "I think we are working in the right direction in terms of car setup," said the Brazilian.  Birthday-boy Kimi Raikkonen's pace was very similar to his teammate on Friday.


Another positive display by Fernando Alonso's R28; competitive in the morning, and only outpaced by Hamilton in the afternoon.  "We still have some things to improve," he warned.  Nelson Piquet, who sampled Hamilton's famous Shanghai pitlane gravel trap at one stage but managed to drive through it, finished his day's running third quickest, just behind his teammate.

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Bernie plays down team quit threats
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone on Friday played down speculation that the introduction of a standard engine formula could cause teams to leave the sport.

There is no doubt that the rumors in the Shanghai paddock were fuelled by carmaker-backed teams including McLaren-Mercedes, Toyota, BMW and Honda, who are furious with the FIA's announcement of a tender for a third party engine supplier or design by 2010.

But F1's chief executive believes the quit threats are over the top.

"I don't see why they should leave.  We're saving them an awful lot of money, I hope.

"All the technical things will still be there, and they can still show all of their talent," Ecclestone said.

The 77-year-old also told reporters that the loss of the French grand prix next year could result in a reshuffle when the final 2009 calendar is published.

"We'll have a look," Bernie said, when asked about the three-week gap that has been created by the Magny Cours absence.  "The teams want 17 races, and that's what they've got."


Latest F1 news in brief UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • 'All drivers want Massa to win' - Alonso
  • FIA not told of Magny Cours axe
  • Ecclestone wants 'no dirty tricks'
  • Hamilton 'good' despite criticism - Massa
  • FIA proceeds with standard engine
  • Kubica deserves 2008 title - Villeneuve
  • Ecclestone spells out ideas to improve F1 New
  • Canada must pay to reinstate GP - Ecclestone New
  • Webber angry about Hamilton headlines New
  • Hamilton 'irritates' rivals - Ecclestone New

'All drivers want Massa to win' - Alonso
(GMM)  Moments after the FIA press conference on Thursday, Fernando Alonso told his Spanish compatriots what he really thinks of Lewis Hamilton.

Last week, the 27-year-old Renault driver admitted he would like to help Felipe Massa beat Hamilton, his teammate during an acrimonious tenure at McLaren last year, to the title.

Seated less than three feet from 23-year-old Hamilton in the official press briefing in Shanghai, however, Alonso was less forthright.

A British journalist asked him to comment on his admission that, although he did not know what Hamilton had done, he agreed with stewards' decision to penalize him at Fuji Speedway.

"I saw it, I was just behind them," he backtracked in China.  "Sometimes what you read in newspapers is wrong."

Alonso then issued a "no comment" to whether he thought Hamilton's recent driving has been dangerous, and when asked if he was jealous of his British rival, he insisted: "I'm very happy."

But not long after leaving the press conference, Alonso made his feelings clear, according to the Spanish broadcaster Telecinco.

"Last year, when the championship was at this stage, everyone said they wanted either me or Kimi to win.

"This year, all the drivers want Massa to be champion.  So I think it is not my problem, it is Hamilton's," Alonso said.

His different attitudes sparked a headline rebuke by the British newspaper The Sun: 'Now tell me to my face', it read, alongside a photo of a menacing-looking Hamilton.

If Alonso really got his way, however, his friend Robert Kubica would beat both Hamilton and Massa to the 2008 crown.

"I know this is quite difficult because I think that with the performance of his car it will be difficult to recover 12 points," Alonso said.

FIA not told of Magny Cours axe
(GMM)  F1's governing body says it is "gravely concerned" with the news that the promoter of the race at Magny Cours has cancelled the 2009 French grand prix.

France's motor racing federation FFSA this week said it will no longer back the event for financial reasons.

A spokesman for the FIA, however, said the Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile did not notify them.

"The FIA secretary general has written to the president of the FFSA today to seek an urgent clarification of the situation of the French grand prix," he is quoted as saying by Reuters.

"Up until today we have heard nothing and we are gravely concerned."

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Audi puts Emanuele Pirro out to pasture
Pirro isn't too thrilled about being put out to pasture
Emanuele Pirro will race an Audi sports prototype for the last time in his career at the American Le Mans Series finale on 18 October at Laguna Seca. The Italian has served the brand since 1994 and is one of the most successful Audi factory drivers ever with three touring car titles, two sportscar championship victories in the American Le Mans Series and five wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich and the 46-year old Audi factory driver Emanuele Pirro had already reached an agreement some time ago about the end of the Italian’s active career for Audi at the 2008 American Le Mans Series season finale. Included among Pirro’s outstanding victories under the banner of the four rings are the Italian Touring Car Championship (1994 and 1995), the German Touring Car Championship (1996), the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006 and 2007) and the American Le Mans Series (2001, 2005).

"On behalf of the Audi motorsport squad and the entire AUDI AG I would like to extend our thanks to Emanuele Pirro for the excellent and extremely successful cooperation over the last 15 years," explains Dr Wolfgang Ullrich of Pirro who became the first driver to be signed during his time as Head of Audi Motorsport since 1993. "Throughout this extraordinarily long relationship many personal experiences and great memories of fantastic individual race wins and championship victories with Audi touring and sportscar unite us still today."

"A wonderful chapter of my life and career comes to a close," explains Emanuele Pirro. "Even as hopeless optimist, at the very beginning I would never have dreamt of spending 15 such fantastic and wonderfully successful years with Audi on both a personal and professional level. I want to pass on my sincerest gratitude to Audi Sport and all the teams for who I have driven – ROC Competition, Audi Sport Italia, Team Joest and Champion Racing and also all my team mates during this time."

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Briatore tips Hamilton to lose title
(GMM)  Flavio Briatore has tipped McLaren's Lewis Hamilton to "throw the title away again".

The Renault boss recalls his astonishment of one year ago, when with a 17-point advantage with two races to go, the then rookie Hamilton ceded the championship to Kimi Raikkonen at the final hurdle.

He mischievously said the feat was worthy of the "Guinness Book of Records".

"Now that he has a five point-lead, he could repeat the Guinness trick.  For me, Massa will win the title," Briatore said.

The Italian's partisan view is no surprise, particularly with his 2007 spy battle with the McLaren team still in memory.

"McLaren accused us of spying, we went on for four months with this nonsense that never existed," he told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

He also believes 23-year-old Hamilton is overrated and must finish the job if he is to be compared with the greats.

"You should tell him that he is a formula one driver, not a Martian," said Briatore.  "He is not Muhammad Ali.

"He is a good driver but you see good drivers also taking results home.  There are good (football) forwards who always hit the post or the bar and the ball never goes in.

"Then there are those that score and he hasn't scored yet.  Hamilton has learnt nothing.  We saw that in Japan," said Briatore.


Will Power goes surfing in Surfers
Team Australia IndyCar star Will Power becomes an honorary member of the Southport Surf Life Saving Club upon his arrival on the Gold Coast ahead of next week's Nikon Indy 300
Just Dave Photography
Team Australia IndyCar star and local favorite Will Power has today arrived on the Gold Coast ahead of his home event, the Nikon 300 on October 23-26.

All year the sun-loving Queenslander has been ‘hanging out’ to get back to one of the most famous sections of coastline in the world, the beaches of the Gold Coast.

So upon his arrival, Power ensured that his first port of call was the beach, right beside the circuit where he has earned pole in the Aussie Vineyards - Team Australia car for the past two years.

“This is definitely one of my very favorite places in the world,” said Power.

“I love the beach and the surf but I don’t get much of a chance to do anything like this in the US, so it’s usually the first thing I do each time I come home.

“It’s very unique having the beach and the waves right up against the skyscrapers and the city.

“When the Nikon Indy 300 comes around we even have a world-class race track right beside the beach. It’s all pretty cool.”

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Teams can choose engine implementation
(GMM)  Teams will be free to choose how to implement the FIA's imposition of a standard engine formula from 2010.

After a tender process for a third party supplier of engines was announced on Friday, a spokesman clarified that the mandatory aspect of the regulations will be for the use of the designated design.

"The provider will set out a detailed design for a standardized engine and either supply it in full working order or the detailed design in order to enable competitors to build their own standardized engine," the FIA official said.

He added that the third party supplier would then "assist the FIA" to ensure that F1's competing manufacturers are sticking to the detailed engine design.

The standard engine proposal is highly controversial among F1's carmakers, who are behind rumors in the paddock that some may pull out if their technological freedom is further curtailed.

The FIA, on the other hand, argues that spiraling costs have made the sport "unsustainable", and that this is the real threat to the health and size of the grid.

It is also expected that the standard engine scheme is a negotiating position, giving president Max Mosley an opportunity to back down but compromise on other cost-cutting measures.

For instance, Reuters reports that on the agenda for the teams' upcoming Geneva meeting with Mosley is a plan whereby manufacturers offer gearbox-engine packages to customer teams for less than 5m euros.


Economic downturn affects IndyCar's title sponsor search
Indy Racing League officials concede the downturn in the economy is having an impact on sponsorships.

Terry Angstadt, president of the league's commercial division, said one of the two corporations interested in becoming the title sponsor for the IndyCar Series has bowed out for financial reasons. He declined to identify the company.

"It was in the financial sector, and that's absolutely not (going to happen) and we completely understand that," he said. "The other is still a possibility, but it's very much a slow process."

Angstadt had set an October deadline for landing a title sponsor for the 2009 season, but that might have to be extended.

"Am I cautiously optimistic we'll get one? Yes, I am," Angstadt said. "But there are a couple that I thought frankly would be in the boat right now, and they're not." Indy Star

[Editor's Note: Rest assured that the decision to choose Versus as a TV partner has had a very negative impact on sponsorship, both for the series as well as the teams.  Let's see if it also chases away the other engine manufacturers who have held talks with the IRL about entering the series in 2011.  Prediction - the revenue lost in sponsorship and manufacturer participation will be ten times greater than the money saved by going with Versus over ESPN.  Not double.  Not triple.  Ten times.  The loss of just one manufacturer who otherwise would have come in would mean as much as $30 million per year gone from the paddock.]


Force India confirms Sutil and Fisichella for 2009
Force India F1 team owner Vijay Mallya says that he intends to keep the same drivers he has for next year. The news will be a blow to test driver Tonio Liuzzi, who was hoping to step into a race seat next year.  We have updated our 2009 F1 Silly Season page.


Sepang: Edwards tops wet Friday practice
Colin Edwards made a stunning return to form in typically scorching hot Sepang conditions today, the Tech 3 Yamaha rider ending the opening free practice sessions for the penultimate race of 2008 with the fastest time.

The American, who was fourth quickest in this morning's opening session, didn't let a brief interruption caused by a short rain shower this afternoon disturb his impressive speed.

Spots of rain continued to fall for the remainder of the session, but Edwards maintained his focus to clock a best time of 2.02.667 that edged out newly crowned world champion and fellow Yamaha YZR-M1 rider Valentino Rossi by 0.171s.

In air temperatures that peaked at 32 degrees, Edwards' performance was helped by a decision to revert back to a front-end setting he used at the beginning of the season. The modification immediately improved Edwards' confidence with the front-end of his YZR-M1, which also helped him drastically improve his corner speed at the long and technically challenging Sepang circuit. He was one of only three riders to dip under the 2.02 mark.

Track conditions were tricky in both sessions, riders dealing with a dusty track surface this morning, then light rain this afternoon.

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Chinese GP: Hamilton again tops Practice 2
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton remained on top in second practice for the Chinese Grand Prix, while his chief title rival Felipe Massa was only sixth fastest, with the two Renaults, Toyota's Jarno Trulli and Red Bull's Mark Webber 2nd through 5th. 

The winner of the last two GPs, Fernando Alonso, showed he is ready to try for three straight after turning the 2nd fastest lap, 0.274s behind Hamilton.

The other Ferrari of a should be retiring Kimi Raikkonen was only 8th.

It was a session with a few incidents including another spin for Raikkonen, and Bourdais ending up in a sand trap after posting the 7th best time, well of his Toro Rosso teammate Sebastian Vettel in 15th.  Nick Heidfeld was ninth with Nico Rosberg 10th, Timo Glock 11th, Robert Kubica 12th and Heikki Kovalainen 13th.



Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:35.750 + 0.000 33
2. Alonso Renault 1:36.024 + 0.274 36
3. Piquet Renault 1:36.094 + 0.344 38
4. Trulli Toyota 1:36.159 + 0.409 32
5. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:36.375 + 0.625 38
6. Massa Ferrari 1:36.480 + 0.730 31
7. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:36.529 + 0.779 32
8. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:36.542 + 0.792 34
9. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:36.553 + 0.803 38
10. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:36.556 + 0.806 33
11. Glock Toyota 1:36.615 + 0.865 33
12. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:36.775 + 1.025 37
13. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.797 + 1.047 33
14. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:36.808 + 1.058 36
15. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:36.925 + 1.175 38
16. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:36.975 + 1.225 31
17. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:37.473 + 1.723 38
18. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:37.617 + 1.867 33
19. Button Honda 1:37.800 + 2.050 37
20. Barrichello Honda 1:37.904 + 2.154 36

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