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NASCAR future stars get to show their stuff
Charlotte, North Carolina (October 29, 2009) – Ron Sutton’s Winner’s Circle further established itself as the leading driver development program for those seeking to make it to NASCAR, with four of its top drivers showcasing their talent in a NASCAR Driver Talent Combine on October 21st at Caraway Speedway in North Carolina.

With the 2009 race season rapidly coming to a close, Ron Sutton’s Winner’s Circle Development drivers Jessica Brunelli, Bobby Grewohl, Jace Meier and Benny Moon recently got the rare opportunity to meet, interview and test a full day in front of leading NASCAR Sprint Cup and ARCA teams.

As part of a Driver Talent Combine, the foursome each got behind the wheel of a 650 horsepower, 3300 pound USAR Pro Cup Car (formerly called Hooters Pro Cup cars) owned and operated by NASCAR Nationwide & USAR Pro Cup squad Mac Hill Motorsports. The drivers tested in front of top NASCAR and ARCA teams at the famed 0.455-mile Caraway Speedway oval in North Carolina.

Under the watchful eye of Ron Sutton, NASCAR and ARCA team representatives, Brunelli, Grewohl, Meier and Moon each took to the track four times for 16-lap runs. Working with the crews to tune the cars - which are similar to a top tier NASCAR car with a truck arm suspension. The RSWC standouts not only impressed those on hand with their outright speed, but their consistency, communication skills and professionalism. At the end of the day’s activities, three of the Ron Sutton’s Winner’s Circle drivers topped the timesheets of drivers participating.

“Each of our Drivers represented themselves well here today,” commented Ron Sutton. “This is what these drivers have been working towards … getting their shot to show their talent and skills in front of top NASCAR Cup and ARCA teams. The teams spent 6-7 hours with the drivers today … evaluating their talent and their character … and were impressed with what they saw.”

The 16 year-old Brunelli, the youngest and only female in this combine, entered the evaluation test following a successful season in NASCAR Grand American Modified competition driving for Nascimento Motorsports. The Hayward, California native, who is in her second year with the Ron Sutton’s Winner’s Circle program, was a front runner in USAC Ford Focus Midget competition last year, having previously earned the 2007 Rookie of the Year award in Skip Barber Regional competition and been a two-time IKF Region 11 Regional Karting champion.

Grewohl, of Hollister, California, returned to the driver’s seat, having contested selected USAC Midget and NASCAR Modified races this past season with Ron Sutton’s Winner’s Circle race teams. The 23 year-old, won three consecutive USAC Midget Wins and scored a big NASCAR Open Late Model win in 2008, captured three NASCAR Late Model wins in 2007, earned two USAC Western States Midget Series wins in 2006, won the 2005 SCCA Western States Championship Formula Continental race, started on pole in his inaugural USAC Ford Focus Midget race in 2004, and captured both the SCCA Western States Formula Ford regional title with six wins and the Jim Russell 125cc Shifter Series kart title in 2003.

The 20 year-old Meier traveled to Caraway Speedway after racing select races in NASCAR Modifieds in 2009. The fourth year Ron Sutton’s Winner’s Circle development driver from Las Vegas, Nevada captured the pole position in his only NASCAR Late Model start of 2008, was the 2007 Auto Club Late Model Series runner-up and Rookie of the Year at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, earned the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway NASCAR Late Model Rookie of the Year award in 2006, won three USAC Ford Focus Midget races 2005-2006, earned the 2004 Rookie of the Year award in the Legends Semi-Pro division at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and was a multiple Rotax Junior Champion in 2003.

Moon, of Sacramento, California got behind the wheel of the USAR Pro Cup car following a season of selected races in NASCAR Modifieds in 2009. The 24 year-old, who has been part of the RSWC program for the past four years, scored a NASCAR Late Model pole position in 2008, won two NASCAR Late Model races in 2007, secured two NASCAR Late Model pole positions in 2006, captured three USAC Ford Focus Midget wins in 2005, including Turkey Night, won four times in the 2004 Skip Barber Formula Dodge championship, captured one Skip Barber Formula Dodge victory in 2003, and was a SKUSA Pro Moto race winner in 2002.


New rules for Truck Series
NASCAR announced several rule adjustments to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series that will not only assist with cost control, but will continue to promote the same top-flight competition for which the series is known.

Here are the amendments to the 2010 NASCAR Camping World Series rule book:

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Raikkonen says car is painfully slow
Results from Friday's practice sessions in Abu Dhabi will not make good reading for Ferrari fans after Kimi Räikkönen and Giancarlo Fisichella could manage no more than tenth and seventeenth positions on the brand-new track.

Having won only one race in Belgium this year, Ferrari is hoping to equal the finishing position of its worst season so far this decade - third in 2005 - although, lying a point behind McLaren heading into the season finale, improvements will be needed in final practice on Saturday morning.

The car is not bad to drive but it is simply slow and lacks grip, as in fact has been the case very often this year," a down to earth Räikkönen said at Yas Marina after seeing the McLarens of Kovalainen and Hamilton lead the field. "It's not as though there is a specific reason why it's not going well but, most of all, its down to our choice to stop development of the F60, so our performance level compared to the others is going down race by race, given that so many teams are still working on this year's cars.

"There are only a few corners where you can make a difference, near the start of the lap. Then there are so many heavy braking points and slow speed corners, where stability on entry and acceleration on exit are the important factors.

"Going from daylight to artificial light? After two races in Singapore, it doesn't cause a problem. The pit lane exit? In terms of its layout, it's quite similar to Interlagos, except there's a wall instead of a guardrail."gpupdate.net


Dover Motorsports shuts down Memphis track
Dover Motorsports shuts down Memphis track: Dover Motorsports, Inc. announced that it was ceasing all operations at Memphis Motorsports Park and that it would not be promoting any events in Memphis in 2010. As previously announced, the Memphis facility had been under an agreement of sale to Gulf Coast Entertainment but Gulf Coast was unable to secure financing. "This was a difficult decision for us, but one that ultimately was dictated by economics," said Denis McGlynn, President and CEO of Dover Motorsports. "We greatly appreciate the many years of dedication shown by our Memphis employees and their efforts to make Memphis such a great destination for the racing community - from racing fans and drivers to sponsors, team owners and sanctioning bodies. For all concerned, including the Memphis community, it is truly sad to see Memphis Motorsports Park taken off the racing schedule. NASCAR has approved the realignment of our NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series events from Memphis Motorsports Park to our Nashville and Gateway facilities." The realigned events and dates are as follows:

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Nashville Superspeedway, April 2, 2010, (together with NASCAR Nationwide Series event on April 3, 2010)

NASCAR Nationwide Series, Gateway International Raceway, October 23, 2010. Dover Motorsports PR


Prost still interested in FIA role under Todt
(GMM)  Alain Prost has indicated he might still be interested in a role under the FIA's new president, his French countryman Jean Todt.

The retired quadruple world champion earlier this year indicated he would consider joining Todt for a "F1 and sport" role if the former Ferrari boss won office.

"We have talked," Prost, 54, told sport365.fr.  "We will meet very soon to see if there are interesting things we can do together."

Todt has proposed that a separate Commissioner be appointed to represent him in every FIA-sanctioned championship, including F1.

Said Prost: "I am always willing to give my opinion on certain things (including) the future of formula one."


Wickens takes fourth pole of season
Robert Wickens clinched his fourth pole of the season in the first qualifying session at Barcelona, edging out Andy Soucek by just over two tenths of a second.

Nicola De Marco continued his impressive start to the weekend by taking third, and will be joined on the second row by Russia's Mikhail Aleshin.

Soucek led the way in the early stages, ahead of another eye-catching display from Tristan Vautier. The Frenchman was again immediately on the pace as both he and Soucek set their best times in the opening moments of the session.

With the circuit getting continually faster as the session progressed, Wickens took full advantage to set a 1:39.215s time and claim the top spot as the session moved into the final ten minutes. Philipp Eng followed suit, setting the fourth fastest time, only to be instantly bettered by Julien Jousse.

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Raikkonen not afraid of Hamilton as teammate
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has confirmed he is in talks with McLaren about re-joining the British team.

"It wouldn't make sense to change to any other formula one team," said the Finn, who has agreed to leave Ferrari one year early to make way for Fernando Alonso.

The 30-year-old, a winner of 18 grands prix and the 2007 world champion, slammed Toyota chief John Howett for declaring repeatedly on recent occasions that talks about the 2010 season were taking place.

"With Toyota there was nothing, although they said that we negotiated," Raikkonen told the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat. "We didn't speak with them; that was only what they said," he added.

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Mayfield holding auction
Mayfield holding auction: Former NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield is selling items worth about $5 million on the auction block next month [November 20th] as part of a favorite hobby of the N.C. resident. During the past year, the former driver has faced a swarm of controversy, including alleged drug abuse and a suspension from NASCAR. But the auction isn't because Mayfield is on hard times  he says his auction is an annual tradition on the farm. "I think this is going to be huge because we've got so much different stuff," said Mayfield. "Got some land involved in it, heavy equipment, tools& it should be fun. It's all I do all the time is try to find the nearest auction around, just trying to get a deal and just trying to outbid somebody. It's kind of competitive and sometimes I've ended up with stuff I didn't want just cause I got excited and started to bid against somebody." The auction includes 475 acres of land, a home under renovation, jewelry, guns and cars from Mayfield's personal collection. "He has a good fan base and I believe the fans will come out and support him during auction," said Will Lilly of Iron Horse Auction Co.(news14.com)


Abu Dhabi: Kovalainen on top in practice 2
Heikki Kovalainen has once again set the fastest lap in the second practice session at the new Abu Dhabi track.  The McLaren KERS system is highly advantageous in the middle sector of the lap.  The times are as follows.

  Driver Time
1 Kovalainen 1.41.307
2 Hamilton 1.41.504
3 Button 1.41.541
4 Vettel 1.41.591
5 Kobayashi 1.41.636
6 Buemi 1.41.683
7 Webber 1.41.684
8 Barrichello 1.41.831
9 Rosberg 1.41.931
10 Raikkonen 1.41.987
11 Sutil 1.42.180
12 Nakajima 1.42.245
13 Heidfeld 1.42.278
14 Trulli 1.42.409
15 Liuzzi 1.42.530
16 Alonso 1.42.782
17 Fisichella 1.42.932
18 Grosjean 1.43.021
19 Alguersuari 1.43.022
20 Kubica 1.43.708


USF1 confirms Aragon
USF1, the American team aiming to make its F1 debut next March, said in a press release today that the Charlotte based team will house its European operations at Spain's Motorland Aragon technology park and circuit.


Webber to have last leg surgery next month
(GMM)  Mark Webber will have surgery next month to remove the last artificial pieces from the leg he broke badly in a pre-season cycling crash.

Since he injured his right leg last November, Red Bull's Australian driver has gone under the knife for several follow-up operations.

He had pins removed in February, and screws taken out in separate procedures in both June and August.

The main titanium rod will now be taken out with an operation in November, after which the dramatic bump in his right shin will disappear.

Remarkably, Webber's 2009 season - featuring two wins and a guaranteed fourth place in the world championship - was the best so far in his eight year career.

"I had the worst preparation ever, but it turns out I've had my best season ever," he said, adding that next year should also be a good one for Red Bull.

"I think next season will start off not a million miles from how we've finished this one," Webber added.


Hamilton unsure of 2010 teammate
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton on Friday repeated his claim that he would not mind if he has to wear the number 2 on his McLaren car next year.

Amid Jenson Button's disagreement with Brawn about the size of his 2010 retainer, Hamilton said recently that he would welcome his countryman to the Woking based team.

The likelihood of a McLaren switch for Button, 29, has grown even more in recent days, as McLaren tosses up between signing the very expensive Kimi Raikkonen, or the 2009 world champion at half the price.

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Williams confirms Cosworth power for 2010 UPDATE Williams F1 Press Release: The AT&T Williams team today confirmed that it has signed a long-term engine partnership with Cosworth Limited.

Frank Williams, Team Principal, said “Cosworth have impressed us with the quality of their technical team and convinced us that their program will deliver a competitive Formula One engine. In addition, like Williams, Cosworth is an independent company whose owners share our passion for racing and engineering. We believe that, working together, we will develop not only a competitive racing car for 2010 but also a long-term partnership that can take on the best in Formula One.”

Mark Gallagher, Cosworth's General Manger, Formula One, said “Cosworth is delighted to be renewing our partnership with Williams. We look forward to forging a long-standing relationship, not only for the supply of competitive Formula One engines, but also in the joint development of new technologies that have wider application outside of Formula One.

Kevin Kalkhoven, one of Cosworth’s investors, said, “I am very pleased to see Cosworth engaging with like-minded companies in the development of high-technology solutions.  Formula One is a great opportunity to showcase technical capabilities that can, with proper application, solve current and emerging challenges in the wider world.”

Frank Williams
(GMM)  Sir Frank Williams has confirmed speculation that his Grove based team will switch to Cosworth power for the 2010 season.

"We've finished our contract with Toyota and we've moved on to a British engine manufacturer Cosworth with whom we have won many world championships in the past," the Briton told the local Gulf News in Abu Dhabi.

Amid speculation he might have linked up with Renault, Williams said the choice is a "more private and independent route" than staying with a carmaker.

"They (Cosworth) are 50 miles away from Williams which is very convenient.  Besides we also like our independence.  We will be not under the influence, not that Toyota ever bossed around, but we've just gone a private and independent route," he explained.

Williams, 67, also confirmed speculation that his team's current lead driver Nico Rosberg will be powered by a Mercedes engine next year.

"Nico is German and Mercedes need at least one German driver to sit before their engine," he said.

"So we will announce our drivers for next season on Monday."


If there wasn't "The Chase"
The idea behind the Chase for the Sprint Cup was to extend the championship excitement to the final race of the season. Reset the points of the top drivers with 10 races to go and let them battle down to the last checkered flag for the championship.

Jimmie Johnson seems determined to spoil NASCAR's fun, winning three of the first six Chase races and building a 118-point lead entering Sunday's AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. That's still less than the 179-point lead that Tony Stewart held when the 12 Chasers' points were reset for the 10-race playoff.

But this season, the old championship system -- adding up the points for every race and seeing who has the most at the end of the year -- would be providing a tighter title race than the Chase.

Under the old system, Stewart would still hold the lead, but by only 85 points on the fast-charging Johnson.

Jeff Gordon would be third under either system. But in the Chase, he's 150 points behind Johnson; the old way he'd be 122 points behind Stewart.

Gordon won four championships under the old system -- including two by 349 and 354 points -- but has yet to triumph in the Chase format. His protégé, Johnson, has three Chase crowns. With 10 races instead of 36 deciding the champion, Gordon said a lot can depend on the tracks in the Chase.

"If I could take 10 races from the schedule and put my best 10 races together, I would throw out a couple of the ones that are in the Chase," he said. "I feel like you ask Jimmie Johnson that question, he will say that those are pretty much, other than maybe Talladega, those are 10 of his -- or nine of his -- best tracks. I think that certainly plays a role."

While Johnson has been the best driver in the Chase, he hasn't been the top driver in the past 10 races. Kurt Busch has been, with eight top-10 finishes and 1,401 points, even though he's only sixth in the Chase. The Press Register


Honda has no regrets about F1 pullout
Honda CEO Takanobu Ito said last week that the decision to quit Formula One at the end of last year was essential for the company's long-term survival. “[I have] no regrets,” he told the assembled media last week. “After our withdrawal, we've seen our team (Brawn GP) doing extremely well. The reason why I say this is because of all the efforts we put into the team prior to our withdrawal that led to this result,” Ito said.

Ito said the decision to quit F1 was made by his predecessor, Takeo Fukui, but that he agreed with it. “Just a year ago, Mr. Fakui made the decision to withdraw from Formula One racing and I think it was the correct decision,” Ito continued.

The company, according to Ito, will now devote all of its engineering talent and resources to coming up with advanced environmental solutions for its future production cars, a noble goal I might add, but certainly not the way the "old" Honda would have gone about its business. After all, this was the company that pioneered developing its young engineers through its racing programs, and then after seasoning them in some of the most fiercely competitive arenas in racing, would unleash them on developing future production cars. And it worked exceptionally well, with other car companies readily copying the Honda method as well.

But this is a different era now, as Ito explained, and his engineers will find plenty of challenges in trying to creatively execute its modern and environmentally efficient production cars of the future.

Wait a minute, is this the Honda Motor Company we're talking about? The same company that went to the ends of the earth to prove its competitive mettle? The same company that lived for racing in all of its forms, from motorcycles to cars? The same company that would come up with brilliant solutions as a matter of course in its pursuit of victory?

No, it clearly isn't. The combination of the global economic crisis and the fact that the Japanese government isn't having nearly the success that it once enjoyed in its manipulation of the yen has decimated the Japanese manufacturers, more so Toyota than Honda, but you get the picture. And now Honda is going about justifying its existence in this new global economic order we're living in by pulling back on the reins and turning inward for its technical inspiration.

And I have a huge problem with that rationale, because what Mr. Ito is describing suggests to me that Honda has actually turned away from the path of innovation and technical prowess, and that he actually believes that the challenges presented by the white-hot heat of competition can easily be duplicated in some sterile laboratory and that - not to worry - Honda will be just as successful in its business as ever.

We'll see about that, because without racing - and without the attitude, talent and sheer will to win required to succeed in the sport - at what point does Honda cease being "Honda?" At what point does Honda - operating in Mr. Ito's safe, "cocoon" mode - become that dreaded "me too" haven of mediocrity and horror of horrors, just another car company?

I hope that Mr. Ito's attitude about racing is indeed just a temporary phase for Honda, because if not, let's just say that the forecast for the future direction - and success - of the company is mixed, at best. autoextremist.com


Nakajima admits 2010 Williams seat not likely
(GMM)  Kazuki Nakajima has acknowledged that Abu Dhabi is almost certainly his last grand prix for Williams.

The 24-year-old Japanese joined the British team two years ago with the backing of Toyota, but Williams is set to revert to Cosworth power for the 2010 season.

It is believed Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg will be revealed as the Grove team's new driver lineup on Monday, leaving Nakajima looking for a seat.

Asked how likely it is that he will still be racing a Williams next March, Nakajima answered: "I think very low.  This is probably my last race for the team."

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No deadline on Red Bull engine decision
(GMM)  A string of internal deadlines have come and gone, so Red Bull is no longer trying to put a timeline on the decision about its engine supplier for the 2010 season.

It is no secret that the team would already have put pen to paper on a deal with Mercedes for 2010, having secured the clearance both of the German marque and the governing FIA.

But McLaren, Mercedes' exclusive F1 partner, is vetoing the arrangement, leaving Red Bull also weighing up a switch to Cosworth or staying with Renault power.

Mercedes' Norbert Haug confirmed: "We have no announcements planned for Abu Dhabi."

Asked when a decision will be made on the Red Bull side, the energy drink company's motor sport advisor Helmut Marko said: "Probably I would already have decided, but (designer Adrian) Newey is looking at all the options to the last detail. 

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Chance of new Button deal now '80pc' - Fry
(GMM)  The percentage-chance that Jenson Button will stay at Brawn in 2010 has dropped, team chief executive Nick Fry has admitted.

Amid reports the parties are at odds over the size of the new world champion's retainer, boss Ross Brawn said recently that the chance of Button staying put was nonetheless "99 per cent".

But in an interview with the BBC on Friday, Fry was also talking numbers.

"I'm pretty confident he will stay with the team -- I'm 80 per cent certain," he said.

29-year-old Button, meanwhile, said in Abu Dhabi that he would not shy away from a high-profile pairing with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton in 2010.

And he insisted: "I wouldn't put a percentage on anything."


Fast Button vows to enjoy Abu Dhabi
(GMM)  Jenson Button has vowed to enjoy this weekend's Abu Dhabi season finale, now that he is guaranteed the 2009 world championship.

Two weeks ago when he clinched the title in Brazil, the Briton admitted to enduring months of stress, but his first reward is a race at the impressive Yas Marina Circuit with his lifelong dream already secure.

"It's been a while since I've jumped into an F1 car and not felt stressed or a little bit under pressure," he said, before going second quickest in opening practice on Friday afternoon behind the reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton.

"The last time I wasn't thinking about the championship was my final race (for Honda) in 2008," Button added.

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Abu Dhabi: Hamilton tops practice 1
Lewis Hamilton ended the first free practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix fastest ahead of new world champion Jenson Button



Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:43.939 +0.000 18
2. Button Brawn-Mercedes 1:44.035 +0.096 20
3. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:44.153 +0.214 28
4. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1:44.207 +0.268 23
5. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 1:44.667 +0.728 23
6. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:44.687 +0.748 32
7. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:44.688 +0.749 14
8. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:44.805 +0.866 25
09. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:44.955 +1.016 33
10. Trulli Toyota 1:44.958 +1.019 25
11. Kubica BMW-Sauber 1:44.988 +1.049 22
12. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:45.123 +1.184 20
13. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:45.649 +1.710 27
14. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:45.679 +1.740 25
15. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:45.704 +1.765 27
16. Alonso Renault 1:45.865 +1.926 23
17. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:46.239 +2.300 22
18. Fisichella Ferrari 1:46.267 +2.328 26
19. Kobayashi Toyota 1:46.364 +2.425 28
20. Grosjean Renault 1:46.411 +2.472 27


Horner amazed Button still on driver market
(GMM)  Christian Horner has expressed surprise that, two weeks after he clinched the world championship, Jenson Button is still on the market for a team to drive for in 2010.

Horner is boss of the Red Bull team, whose Sebastian Vettel was beaten to the drivers' title by 29-year-old Button last time out in Brazil.

Briton Button and Brawn are at odds over the size of his retainer for next year, which has reportedly sparked the interest of the McLaren team.

McLaren was earlier thought keen to snap up the available Kimi Raikkonen, but the Finn's asking price is at least double the amount Button is demanding from his reluctant Brawn chiefs.

"I just find it staggering he's won the world championship and had a brilliant year and he hasn't been signed up for next year," Horner told BBC television on Friday when asked about Button's contract standoff.

"If I was Brawn, I'd get off the fence pretty quickly because he's a pretty attractive proposition.  I wouldn't hang about too long if I were them," he added.


Lotus F1 appoint CEO
Lotus Formula One team appointed Riad Asmat as chief executive on Friday.
Mr. Asmat, who was general manager at state-owned Proton Holdings Berhard overseeing its motorsport program, will take charge at the team included as the 13th entry on the starting grid for next season.

The Malaysian-backed team, which was launched last month, are aiming for a roll out of the new car in mid-February to test it before the season opener in Bahrain in March.

'Riad's expertise, which is a good blend of both corporate experience and motorsports knowledge, will provide the dynamic and success-oriented leadership that the Malaysian team requires,' team principal Tony Fernandes told a news conference in Sepang.

'I'm confident that his knowledge of motorsports coupled with vast experience will contribute to the success of the 1Malaysia F1 Team.'

Lotus F1 is a partnership between the Malaysian government and a consortium of Malaysian entrepreneurs. 'All of us in the 1Malaysia Formula One Team understand that this is a very important first step for the nation,' Mr. Asmat said.


IndyCar attendance to plummet in 2010 UPDATE The Indy Star newspaper reports that Roger Penske said this week that Philip Morris USA will again sponsor the IndyCar team through its Marlboro brand even though the company eliminated its ticket-purchasing program at tracks.  It cannot have it's name on the Penske cars and it cannot advertise at the race track, so why would Marlboro give Penske money for nothing in return?  There must be some backdoor deal involved that we don't know about.

10/25/09 Philip Morris USA, which backs Team Penske, will not continue its Marlboro ticket-buying program at IndyCar races in 2010, a blow to tracks that host events.  [One could not miss the thousands free Marlboro hats that went with free grandstand tickets at every IndyCar race.] Indy Star


NASCAR Truck Series Talladega preview
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be looking at a vastly different racing venue this Saturday: the massive Talladega Super Speedway. This is a far cry from other racing venues such as last weekend's race at the Martinsville Speedway half mile.

The Mountain Dew 250 is guaranteed to feature NASCAR's truck series drivers running door to door at very high speeds where sling shot passing is the norm while running three and four wide. The truck series races has created a recent tradition for close finishes. In the last three series races at Talladega not once has the margin of victory exceeded eight one hundredths of a second. Last year Todd Bodine won the race over Ron Hornaday Jr by a margin of 0.074 seconds.


Before the green falls on Saturday's race series history will be made. Chrissy and Mike Wallace will be enhancing the Wallace family racing legacy by being the first father-daughter team to participate in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.

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Q&A: Adrian Valles vs. Craig Dolby
The 2009 Superleague Formula by Sonangol championship battle reaches its climax at Jarama next weekend when Liverpool and Tottenham go head-to-head for the title. Spurs’ Craig Dolby has played catch-up for most of the year but took points out of Kop star Adrian Valles’ league lead at Monza last time out to set-up their Spanish showdown. Here the pair discuss their chances ahead of the biggest weekend of their careers.

Adrian, Liverpool haven’t won a league title for 19 years. How confident are you of bringing that run to an end at Jarama?

Adrian Valles: I’m quite confident. We’ve got a healthy advantage at the top but that doesn’t mean we can relax because it’s a really tough championship to win. There are a lot of strong drivers out there who will be pushing hard. It’s best to treat it like any other race and hope that things play out like normal. If I start thinking about pressure, trying to win or not crashing instead of racing as I usually would then that’s the wrong mentality. I’m just going to go there and try to do my best. The whole team is working hard for it.

Craig, 49 points, although achievable, is still a sizable deficit. Is it realistic to think you can overhaul that?

Craig Dolby: Yes! All Adrian needs is a mechanical failure or to make a mistake and, if I have a good result, I’m right back in it for the second race. In Estoril, where I was taken off in one of the races, I only got something like 28 points so if he has a weekend like that then it will be close. You never say never and as there’s still a realistic chance of the title then I won’t give up. If it wasn’t for the problems in Portugal I think we’d be within 10 points right now. It’s going to be difficult, I’ll admit that, but I can still see there’s a chance there, especially as I think we’ll be fast.

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Silverstone boss in Abu Dhabi for British GP talks
(GMM)  Hopes that a British grand prix will be held in 2010 will rise on Friday, when the boss of Silverstone walks into the paddock of the new Yas Marina Circuit.

Ironically, the Northamptonshire venue's managing director Richard Phillips will be surrounded by the unprecedented opulence of the latest addition to the F1 calendar, which came at a cost of hundreds of millions to the Abu Dhabi state.

Britain, on the other hand, makes no direct financial contribution to its grand prix, with Silverstone privately making a profit of less than 700,000 pounds sterling last year on turnover of 38.2 million.

Silverstone is therefore baulking not necessarily at Bernie Ecclestone's proposed annual race fee for 2010, but the fact that the figure will increase automatically by 7 per cent every year thereafter.

Jenson Button said it would be "devastating" if he was not able to race as reigning world champion at Silverstone next year.

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Ecclestone trying to save GP - British minister
Ecclestone talks to Sebastian Vettel
(GMM)  An official of the UK government has revealed he this week pleaded with Bernie Ecclestone to safeguard the future of the British grand prix.

Peter Mandelson, the business secretary, told the Times newspaper he phoned the F1 chief executive, amid reports of the demise of contracted 2010 venue Donington and stalling talks with the existing race host Silverstone.

"I stressed to him the importance of formula one and the British grand prix to the UK," Mandelson said.

The British government provides no direct financial support to the grand prix.

"This (the GP) is a very British institution and every effort must be made to keep the race in the UK," Lord Mandelson added.

"Bernie reassured me he was doing everything possible to maintain the British grand prix in the UK."

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Video: F1 1979 René Arnoux Vs Gilles Villeneuve
René Arnoux (Williams-Renault) Vs Gilles Villeneuve (Ferrari)- Dijon, France 1979- Best duel in the F1 History.


Montezemolo talks about Raikkonen
The first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is also the last GP in red for Kimi Raikkonen, who will leave the Scuderia after three successful years. Before the race Chairman Montezemolo wanted to thank the Finnish driver for his contribution during his stay at the team.

“Kimi entered the history of the Scuderia, winning one World Title in his first year with Ferrari and he contributed decisively to conquer two World Titles in the Constructors’ Championship in 2007 and 2008,” Montezemolo said. “He has always been an honest boy, transparent and loyal and we will always remember him with joy. I’m glad that I can be here with him and the team on the occasion of his last GP in this particularly difficult year. Let’s hope we can gain a good result.”

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Dale Jr.: Restrictor plates cut into real racing
The two shout-outs that will incite a crowd in Alabama are "Roll Tide" and "Earnhardt!"

Dale Earnhardt was legendary at 'Dega. He scored 10 wins in 44 starts — including the 2000 Winston 500, which would be his last Cup victory anywhere. Earnhardt was still beaming days later after schooling his competitors.  After Earnhardt died the following February, Junior defended his father's honor in the fall brawl and brought home the trophy. It appeared the torch was indeed passed to Little E. As Earnhardt Jr. strung together four consecutive victories the talk was he had inherited the ability to "see the air."

In Crimson Tide territory, Earnhardt Jr. also inherited most of his father's legions of fans. For seven years, the stands of Talladega were a different shade of red — Budweiser red.

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Griese suspended for Montoya 'Taco' remark UPDATE #4 NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya has checked in with the tweet of the day on Twitter.  Montoya was out having a taco--that's in fact what he's doing.  Montoya tweeted on Thursday afternoon: “Guess what I'm having for lunch.....TACOS!!!!!....and I'm serious about it!!!!”

10/26/09 ESPN college football commentator Bob Griese was suspended for one game for a comment made on the air Saturday that Earnhardt Ganassi Racing driver Juan Pablo Montoya was “out having a taco,” the network confirmed Monday. The game Griese was scheduled to work Saturday had not been determined. He will not work any game this coming weekend.

10/26/09 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing President Steve Lauletta said it was “unfortunate” that ESPN college football commentator Bob Griese’s comment on the air Saturday that EGR driver Juan Pablo Montoya was “out having a taco.”.
Griese later apologized for the comment he made about the Colombian driver during the Ohio State-Minnesota college football game Saturday. During the telecast, ESPN did a promo for the Sprint Cup race Sunday on ABC. The promo mentioned the top five drivers, prompting announcer Chris Spielman to ask where Montoya was in the standings. Griese, an NFL hall of famer, responded that the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing driver “was out having a taco.”

Griese apologized later in the telecast and then again on ESPN later that night.

“It’s unfortunate that he would make such a comment,” Lauletta said. “Obviously he has apologized. I haven’t talked to Juan about his feelings about it.”

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Abu Dhabi Q&A with Sutil & Alonso
Q: A question to you all. What are your reactions to seeing the Yas Island Circuit for the first time. The facilities? The circuit? Adrian, would you like to start?
Adrian SUTIL: Impressive, let’s say. A very nice circuit, very big. I think it is the biggest I’ve ever seen. The facilities are amazing. It is going to be an interesting weekend really.
Jarno TRULLI: I think I agree. I was impressed with the facilities and the place and the circuit. So far it seems to be very well made with the surface and the kerbs. I think the run-off area so far seems pretty good. Obviously before we judge the circuit lay-out we need to have a run.
Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN: I have only seen the paddock area so far. I haven’t been around the circuit yet. It looks all new and you can see a bit that it is last minute but, overall, it is a very big, massive thing and it will be one of the nicest when everything is ready.
Q: Fernando, have you looked at it on the simulator?
Fernando ALONSO: No, no simulator for us. Not even Play Station this time. It will be the first lap tomorrow. Again, the same as all the others, I am very impressed with all the facilities. The circuit itself and the lay-out I think we need to wait until tomorrow as in the car you have always different feelings and different sensations, so I am looking forward. It will be an interesting weekend especially with the late start for the race, with the lights, so it can be quite a good show for television.

Q: Adrian, you have tried it on the simulator, haven’t you?
AS: Yes, I tried it on the simulator. It is quite good to drive but let’s say, not overwhelming, but let’s see how it is in the real. It is always a different thing.

Q: Do you think you can continue the form you have shown in the last few races here?
AS: Well, hopefully yes. There are long straights on this circuit, so hopefully it will suit our car but it is hard to say where we are. It went really well in the last races, especially in qualifying where our pace was great. But it is a new circuit and we have no set-up here. For everybody it is a big challenge, so let’s see how we go but we try to do the best out of the car and hope for a really good race.

Q: There are a lot of right angle turns here. Do you think they will hurt the car?
AS: Yeah, a long straight and then hairpins. Some second gear corners, some first gear corners, so actually really slow corners everywhere. I am not sure if it suits us but we will have to try and make the best out of it. But when I walked the circuit today I had quite a good feeling, so hopefully it is the truth.

Q: What about your future? What are the chances of staying on at Force India?
AS: Well, at the moment I am still not confirmed but we are talking with Force India for sure and it would be a good thing to do another season there. Both sides are interested and I feel really well with my team at the moment.

Q: Jarno, a similar questions to you really, concerning your form over the last few races and your future.
JT: I think it was really good by the team to show the performance in the last few races after a poor middle of the season. It was nice to be back fighting for the front. I think we missed a little bit of luck but all in all it was nice to prove that Toyota was bouncing back after a fantastic start to the season. But to be honest we have gone through such an up and down season that it is difficult to predict what is going to happen for this race. These hot conditions should suit our car but it is only a hope and we will only find out during the weekend. Regarding the future, I have nothing to say or add at the moment.

Q: Are you talking to other teams as well at the moment?
JT: I prefer not to make any speculation. Obviously I have got some options.

Q: What are your thoughts on possibly leaving Toyota?
JT: Obviously there is a high chance to be leaving Toyota but it difficult to say and talk about. A lot is up in the air.

Q: Kimi, what are your thoughts on leaving Ferrari?
KR: Well, it is not any different than a few races ago. I don’t have a contract anymore with them. It is the last race and we try to make a good result and we will see what happens in the future.

Q: Is your focus totally on Formula One or would you like to pursue your rallying career?
KR: Basically I have a few different options and we will see what is the best one overall and then make my decision.

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ROC Track nearly completed

ROC Track under construction

World’s top motorsport stars, including newly-crowned F1 World Champion Jenson Button and seven-time Champion Michael Schumacher, will compete in the 2008 Olympic venue next week. The circuit is the longest and fastest Race of Champions track to be built in a stadium, and Work is almost complete in turning Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium into a race track for The Race of Champions – one of the first major events to be held at the venue since the Olympic Games last year.

Over 8,000 tons of gravel, asphalt and bamboo have been used to convert the stadium into a 1km-long parallel circuit, on which the world’s greatest motorsport stars will compete head- to-head against each other from 2-4 November. Work is now almost finished, with just finishing touches left to complete.

The construction process began with the laying of bamboo boards to protect the surface below, before gravel and asphalt were laid on top. The finished result is a two-lane parallel track, on which identical cars will be raced to prove who is the fastest. Stars who will be taking part in this year’s event include Button, Schumacher, eight-time Le Mans 24 Hour winner Tom Kristensen, and a host of drivers from rallying, touring cars and bike racing. The Race of Champions began in 1988 and has been held at several venues, from Gran Canaria to the Stade de France in Paris and most recently Wembley.

The size of the Olympic Stadium has allowed organizers to build a circuit that is longer and faster than any of the tracks they have built before. Fredrik Johnsson, President of event organizers IMP, said the Beijing event is a significant one: “This year’s Race of Champions is incredibly exciting, because it’s the first time we’ve ever taken the event outside Europe. “The Chinese impressed the world with the Olympic Games last year, and the Bird’s Nest Stadium was a fantastic centerpiece. It was the natural choice for our first event in Asia.” The event will be broadcast live on television across the world, as well as live online at www.freecaster.tv.

ROC Track Facts:
- A team of 40 people has worked approximately 4,500 man-hours to build the circuit
- A fleet of 35 trucks, transporting 40 tons of gravel each, has delivered around 8,000 tons of gravel and asphalt to the venue - The bridge which gives The Race of Champions course its cross-over point is 55m long, 7m wide and weighs 100 tons
- The biggest-ever Race of Champions event lasts for three days, will feature around 115 races in total, with drivers completing 494km of racing action

The event has traditionally moved from venue to venue around the world, being most recently held at the Stade de France in Paris (2004-2006) and Wembley Stadium in London (2007-2008).


Martinsville TV ratings drop...again... UPDATE ABC's live coverage of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway earned a final national household rating of 2.9, down from the 3.3 rating for last year's race that also aired on ABC. The telecast averaged 4,702,038 viewers. ESPN2's live coverage of Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Memphis Motorsports Park earned a final household coverage rating of 0.9, averaging 1,161,156 viewers. No direct comparisons can be made to the 2008 race as the event was simulcast on both ESPN Classic and SPEED.(ESPN)
10/26/09 The slide of NASCAR's broadcast ratings continues, as ABC’s broadcast of Sunday’s Tums Fast Relief 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway earned a 2.5 overnight Nielsen Media Research rating, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Daily reports.

The rating is 13.8 percent lower than the 2.9 ABC earned overnight for the race in 2008.

Despite creating "The Chase" and the incredibly successful "Car of Tomorrow" is seems that the public's romance with stock car racing is waning.


Wickens heads free practice one in Barcelona
Robert Wickens set the fastest lap in the opening free practice session in Barcelona today (Thursday) after seeing off the threat from F2 champion Andy Soucek.

Wickens and Soucek were the class of the field throughout the 30-minute session as the front running duo were the only drivers to dip under the 1:40s mark. Wickens led the way in the early stages before Soucek set a 1:39.568s lap time. His Canadian rival responded with nine minutes of the session remaining, bettering Soucek by just 0.056s.

Having won both races at the season opener in Valencia, Wickens is absolutely focused on what he calls the 'Spanish sweep', as he looks for a repeat performance at the Circuit de Catalunya this weekend.

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Charting the progression of Robertson Racing
The progression of the Robertson Racing GT2 program has been fantastic to witness in the American Le Mans Series. Now the team is going global with its entry into this weekend’s inaugural Asian Le Mans Series event in Okayama, Japan. In the team’s first race outside the boundaries of North America, David Murry and wife-husband duo of team owners Andrea and David Robertson will pilot the Ford GT MK7.

The team - managed by Dick Barbour Racing and operated out of its headquarters in Braselton, Ga. - has made noteworthy competitive strides since debuting the Ford GT at the 2008 12 Hours of Sebring. The car was five seconds off the pace of the class leaders during the event, but the continued refinement on all aspects of the car led to a GT2 pole position at Road Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans powered by MAZDA6 a month ago. Murry delivered one of the biggest surprises of the season by beating out factory and works-supported efforts from Porsche, Ferrari, Corvette, BMW and others.

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Allmendinger Charged with DWI


Allmendinger charged with DWI: UPDATE: For the second time in a week a NASCAR driver is in trouble with the law. A.J. Allmendinger, driver of the #44 car, was arrested for drunk driving, Mooresville police say. Allmendinger was pulled over around 1:30 a.m. Thursday along Highway 150. According to police, Allmendinger blew a .08, which is the legal limit in North Carolina. Last week Mooresville police say alcohol was a factor in an accident involving NASCAR driver and team owner Michael Waltrip. Officers investigating the accident suspected Waltrip was drinking, but when he was given a field sobriety test, he registered a .06. In North Carolina the legal limit is .08.(News Observer)(10-29-2009)
UPDATE: The Richard Petty Motorsports driver, according to the police report, was driving a 2007 Lexus when he was pulled over at 1:27 a.m. He was released to others at the owner's request. Police said he blew a .08 on a breathalyzer test. He has a court date for Dec. 18. "I made an error in judgment last night for which I take full responsibility," Allmendinger said in a statement released by RPM. "I went out to dinner and I had a couple of drinks. I honestly felt fine but I obviously should have erred more on the side of caution particularly given what I do for a living. It was a bad judgment call and I apologize for that ... To my fans, sponsors, team and NASCAR. If anything good can come of this then hopefully I can be an example of being more aware of drinking responsibly and if even if you feel fine, take a cab, call a friend ... just don't risk it. I will do my best to make it right and use this to learn myself and hopefully educate others." RPM officials said Allmendinger will be in the car this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.  ESPN.com


McCumbee has a new sponsor
TALLADEGA, Ala. (October 29, 2009) – As those familiar with the high-speed, close-quarters racing of Talladega Superspeedway know, focus and concentration are key ingredients in a successful race at the 2.66-mile track. Chad McCumbee will enter the “Mountain Dew 250 fueled by Fred’s” with full intentions of improving upon his career best 10th-place finish here but knows that one wrong move could end in disaster for the No. 07 tiwi Chevrolet.

Likewise, on our nation’s highways and roads one wrong move or distraction can end in disaster, which is too often the case as more teens die from auto accidents than from any other cause. McCumbee’s sponsor tiwi is the technology that serves as a sort of spotter to reduce such incidents. tiwi is an in-vehicle monitoring device used to instantly alert and instruct new teenage drivers and promote safe driving.

The tiwi logo will adorn the hood of the SS Green Light Racing truck for the sixth time this season and the hopes are that the safety benefits of its product translates into heightened awareness for McCumbee, who will be racing inches apart from the competition at speeds over 190 miles per hour, and his spotter. Just as tiwi mentors young, inexperienced drivers to aid in the development of critical driving habits, limiting distractions and preventing even just one wrong move that could result in an accident, McCumbee will have his own “mentor” high atop the Talladega Superspeedway grandstands.  McCumbee’s spotter, John Chisholm, will be keeping him abreast of the position of his truck and his competition, guiding him through the field and helping the tiwi Chevrolet avoid the “big one,” which is so infamous at the largest track on the NASCAR circuit. -2-

“Maintaining your composure and focus for 250 miles is probably one of the toughest parts about racing here at Talladega,” said McCumbee.  “But my spotter does a good job of keeping me aware of what’s going on around me and directing me through traffic in the fastest -- and definitely safest -- way possible.”

In three starts at the Alabama track McCumbee has shown improvement with each race, posting a top-10 finish in his most recent attempt in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race here last October.  McCumbee already has posted one top- five and five top-10’s in 17 races this season. “I know how much safer I feel with my spotter looking out for me when I’m on the track,” McCumbee said.  “I know parents must feel that same peace of mind when they know that the tiwi product is watching over their child out on the real road.” tiwi was the technology utilized by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in its independent driving safety study released May 7.  The IIHS report entitled “In-vehicle Monitoring and the Driving Behavior of Teenagers,” concludes that equipping the cars teens drive with in-vehicle monitoring devices can help reduce driving risks. The tiwi technology dramatically improves driver behavior and has been documented to reduce accidents by up to 90 percent. tiwi is the only technology on the market that meets all of the criteria outlined in the IIHS report and also the only device approved by insurance company, ANPAC, for their DriveSmart program.  ANPAC feels so strongly about the effectiveness of DriveSmart and tiwi that the company offers a substantial discount on teens’ insurance rates for DriveSmart and tiwi users.  For more information about tiwi, please visit www.tiwi.com.


Serious Brawn talks to start after Sunday - Button
(GMM)  Jenson Button on Thursday skimmed over speculation he might be set to take his 'number 1' to McLaren in 2010, revealing that talks with Brawn about next season have now begun.

Amid a dispute with his current team about the size of his 2010 retainer, rumors had surfaced that Button might be snapped up by McLaren, and Lewis Hamilton said he would welcome the 29-year-old to Woking.

Button has been holidaying in Dubai with his girlfriend in recent days, and told reporters in Abu Dhabi that he had not seen the latest internet reports.

"I have started discussions with Brawn, but we are not going to talk seriously until after this weekend when we can sit down and focus on the future," said the Briton.

"We've had chats this week; we're talking and that's the main thing," added Button.


NASCAR driver nailed for drunk driving
AJ Allmendinger
NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger was arrested early Thursday morning on a charge of drunken driving.  Mooresville police said Allmendinger failed a field sobriety test after he was pulled over.

Allmendinger, who drives the No. 44 for Richard Petty Motorsports, said in a statement he had drinks with dinner and made a mistake in driving afterward.

"I honestly felt fine, but I obviously should have erred more on the side of caution, particularly given what I do for a living," Allmendinger said. "It was a bad judgment call and I apologize for that."

RPM officials had no immediate comment.  More at ThatsRacin.com


Ecclestone confirms F1 dream over for Donington
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone on Thursday confirmed that Donington will no longer be the new host of the British grand prix.

The Leicestershire circuit had inked a 17-year contract to begin hosting formula one in 2010, but has failed to come up with the necessary funding for renovations.

A series of deadlines stipulated both by the written agreement and F1 chief executive Ecclestone have come and gone, but reports earlier this week said there was still a remote possibility that Donington could get back on track and be ready for the event in eight months.

But in the paddock of the billion dollar Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, Ecclestone said: "There's no Donington (for F1).

"They've missed the deadline which we kept extending for them."

Talks about extending traditional host Silverstone's deal have already commenced, but the two sides are yet to agree on commercial terms.


Trulli, Sutil, resume row two weeks after Brazil

Jarno Trulli

Adrian Sutil

(GMM)  After fiercely arguing trackside at Interlagos and then in the stewards' room, hostilities resumed between Jarno Trulli and Adrian Sutil in the FIA press conference on Thursday.

Two weeks after they clashed at the start of the Brazilian grand prix, resulting in a fine for the "aggressive" Italian veteran Trulli, the pair openly rowed for the benefit of the international media at Abu Dhabi's new Yas Marina Circuit.

In the presence of Force India's 26-year-old Sutil as well as Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, Trulli confirmed he had been "extremely furious" with the German's driving.

"I've got all the evidence to show I was there and was next to him, and tomorrow we are going to discuss it," said the Toyota driver, as he waved about photos of the incident and referred to the regular pre-race drivers' briefing.

Sutil said he did not feel at fault for the crash.

"It's not my problem.  It's his problem.  I don't know why he's freaking out like that to be honest," he said.

Trulli hit back: "I don't know if you're blind, but I can clearly show you my front wing is next to your front wing."

The tit-for-tat exchange continued, with Sutil pointing out the finer points of motor racing to Trulli, a veteran of 218 grands prix, and quipping: "I don't know how long you need to learn this."

Alonso confirmed that driving standards will be discussed "deeply" in Friday's briefing.


Newgarden goes for Hayes Trophy

Joseph Newgarden

Josef Newgarden returns to the cockpit of a Formula Ford for the final time in official competition this weekend (October 31-November 1), when the talented young American takes part in the renowned Walter Hayes Trophy event at the Silverstone Circuit.

After a season of great success behind the wheel Joe Tandy Racing prepared Duratec-powered Mygale in the British Formula Ford Championship – scoring a series-high nine race wins – Newgarden will get behind the wheel of a traditional Kent-powered Formula Ford for the annual Walter Hayes Trophy. While it mark the first time the 18 year-old has piloted a standard FF1600 this season, he enters the prestigious year-end event with experience both in the class and the Walter Hayes Trophy, having been part of the Team USA Scholarship contingent in 2008.

Newgarden will enter his second consecutive Walter Hayes Trophy driving the No. 121 National College of Motorsport/Cranfield College Van Diemen RF92. Under the guidance of Guy McCulloch, who was Newgarden’s race engineer this past season at JTR, and crew made up of students from the National College Motorsport, the American will go head-to-head against over 100 other Formula Ford racing pilots. Among those Newgarden will be battling for top honors are friends and current Team USA Scholarship driver Brett Smrz and Connor De Phillippi.

Newgarden, having won the 2008 Formula Ford Festival Kent class and ended the 2009 season as the British Formula Ford Championship runner-up and Rookie of the Year, enters the latest edition of the Walter Hayes Trophy not only expecting to improve on his disappointing 14th place result from last year, but as one the early favorites to contend for the win.

“I think it’s going to be a great way to finish my 2009 season and my career in Formula Ford racing,” stated Newgarden. “There’s absolutely no pressure, its going to be a whole lot of fun for me! I’ll get to race against this year’s Team USA guys and a very strong European FF1600 contingent. It’s one last run with my engineer Guy McCulloch from JTR and I’m driving the same kind of car that won the FF1600 event at the Festival just last week, so I like my chances.”

Newgarden went on to express his gratitude to Robo-Pong ping pong robots and all of his backers for this years racing effort and requested his fans join his efforts with the international MAKE ROADS SAFE campaign.

Randomly allocated to the Heat Two group, Newgarden will get his first chance to sample his Van Diemen RF92 via two 25-minute test sessions on Thursday (October 29th). This will be followed by an additional two 20-minute test sessions on Friday (October 30th), before the official action gets underway on Saturday (October 31). Day one will feature a morning qualifying session for each Heat, followed by an eight-lap Heat race. Sunday’s (November 1) race action commences with the eight-lap Storm race, eight-lap Progression race and eight-lap Last Chance race for drivers who did not advance directly into the Semi-Final races via a top-11 result in the Heat races. After the running of the two 12-lap Semi-Final races, the 15-lap Walter Hayes Trophy Grand Final race will be conducted at the end of the day.

Supporters, fans and media can keep abreast of Newgarden’s rookie season of European racing via the newly designed and developed website www.raceroftomorrow.com


Drivers face finale with uncertain futures
(GMM)  The checkered flag will wave on the 2009 season on Sunday, but the fates of several drivers are still uncertain.

2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen, having agreed to terminate his Ferrari contract to make way for Fernando Alonso, is linked with a move to McLaren or Toyota, but is believed to have run into trouble in terms of his wage demands.

Asked if switching to rallying is really an option for 2010, the 30-year-old Finn answered in Abu Dhabi: "It's definitely one of them."

Nick Heidfeld's future is also unclear as his team BMW-Sauber struggles to find a place on next year's grid, but the German driver said he is in talks with a couple of teams.

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F1 'must' keep Britain on calendar - Heidfeld
(GMM)  Nick Heidfeld on Thursday backed Martin Whitmarsh's view that Britain should not be lost to the formula one calendar.

With Donington's hopes flailing and F1's talks with Silverstone in deadlock, there is a real possibility that the traditional host country will not be represented on the 2010 schedule.

Heidfeld, standing in the paddock of the splendid and massively state-funded Yas Marina Circuit paddock, told reporters that Britain "must" retain its race.

"Most of the teams are based there, it is really where the home of motor sport is," said the German, whose own future is also in doubt as BMW pulls out after this weekend's season finale.

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Anthony Hamilton joins football management foray
(GMM)  Two names associated primarily with formula one have united for a foray into the world of professional football.

Former grand prix driver Mark Blundell, already with a driver management company 2mb, has expanded the business to include the handling of soccer players.

Involved with 2mb International Soccer Management as an advisor will be Anthony Hamilton, whose son Lewis drives for McLaren and won the 2008 world championship.

The name '2mb' refers to the initials of its two founders, but Blundell's former F1 teammate Martin Brundle left the company earlier this year.


More good news for Renault after crash-gate
(GMM)  Another piece of good news has emerged from the French formula one team Renault in the wake of the damage done by 'crash-gate'.

After a new sponsorship deal with Dutch watchmaker TW Steel was announced, it has also emerged that Altran intends to continue its technology partnership with the Enstone based team.

"It is important in a partnership to affirm full support," Pascal Brier, Altran's communications and strategy chief, is quoted as saying in the French press.

Paris based Altran is a technology and innovation consulting firm.


Dates set for ALMS winter test
The annual American Le Mans Series Winter Test is scheduled for February 22 and 23, sanctioning body IMSA announced Wednesday. The two-day test format at Sebring International Raceway will make participation more feasible for teams, many of whom requested a later date compared to previous years so they could be more prepared for the event.

American Le Mans Series cars will test each day from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. ET. General admission is $10 per day, and the paddock will be closed to the public. No overnight camping is allowed.

The American Le Mans Series will open its 12th season with America’s greatest sports car race, the 58th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida from March 17-20. The green flag will fall at 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 20.

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NASCAR Cheaters Report - Nationwide Series
NASCAR has fined and penalized two Nationwide Series teams for rules violations discovered during this past weekend’s event at Memphis Motorsports Park.

Jay Robinson, owner and crew chief of the No. 49 Jay Robinson Racing Chevrolet driven by Mark Green, has been fined $2,500 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31 for washers used to conceal slotted holes in the lower A-frame spring bucket.

Robinson also was penalized with the loss of 25 owner points, while Green was docked 25 driver points.

Chris Rice, crew chief of the No. 70 ML Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Shelby Howard, has been fined $2,500 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31 after he also was found to have the same violation.

Team owner Mary Louise Miller was penalized with the loss of 25 owner points, while Howard forfeited 25 driver points.

The infractions were discovered on Oct. 23 during opening-day inspection. scenedaily.com


2009 Driver Salaries

the $45mil man...

As ever, the figures are all but impossible to verify, but it still makes interesting reading...

2009 driver salaries – US $ (m)
1 . K. Raikkonen - Ferrari F60 - 45
2 . L. Hamilton - McLaren Mercedes MP4-24 - 18
3 . F. Alonso - Renault R29 - 15
4 . N. Rosberg - Williams Toyota FW31 - 8.5
5 . F. Massa - Ferrari F60 - 8
6 . J. Trulli - Toyota TF109 - 6.5
7 . S. Vettel - Red Bull Renault RB5 - 6
8 . M. Webber - Red Bull Renault RB5 - 5.5
9 . J. Button - Brawn Mercedes BGP 001 - 5
10 . R. Kubica - BMW Sauber F1.09 - 4.5
11 . H. Kovalainen - McLaren Mercedes MP4-24 - 3.5
12 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Sauber F1.09 - 2.8
13 . G. Fisichella - Ferrari F60 - 1.5
14 . S. Buemi - Toro Rosso Ferrari STR4 - 1.5
15 . R. Barrichello - Brawn Mercedes BGP 001 - 1
16 . J. Alguersuari - Toro Rosso Ferrari STR4 - 0.5
17 . A. Sutil - Force India Mercedes VJM02 - 0
18 . K. Nakajima - Williams Toyota FW31 - 0
19 . V. Liuzzi - Force India Mercedes VJM02 - 0
20 . R. Grosjean - Renault R29 - 0


McLaren & FOTA offer support for Brit GP
With the future of the race - a staple of the calendar since the World Championship's inception in 1950 - appearing in doubt following Donington Park's failure to secure necessary funding, Whitmarsh said the Formula One Teams' Association would do all it could to offer support.

"I don't think it's just McLaren, I think any team in Formula One knows the importance of the British Grand Prix," Whitmarsh said in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Phone-In.

"The World Championship is 18, 19 or potentially even 20 races. I guess you couldn't say that any of them are absolutely vital but I think to lose the British Grand Prix would be massively damaging to the sport."

As things stand, Donington, which had secured a 17-year contract to stage the race starting from next year, looks set to lose out after missing a number of deadlines to prove it could fund necessary upgrades costing an estimated £135million.

The man who presented the deadlines, the sport's commercial rights controller Bernie Ecclestone, has also entered negotiations with Silverstone but the two sides remain deadlocked over the terms of a deal.

Whitmarsh said that the passion of British fans was more than enough justification for the grand prix to keep its place.

He added: "I think the quality of the fan base you experience... for any of us who go around the world attending grands prix, one of the remarkable feelings that you have is inevitably you have to walk through, round and past campsites and the fans in Silverstone and they are such fantastic fans - that real grass roots enthusiasm.

"So I'm sure McLaren, all the teams and FOTA will do everything it can to preserve the British Grand Prix in the calendar."


McLaren endorses Sauber as 14th team
While there seems to be a general consensus that 14 teams in Formula One is too many for the current infrastructure, McLaren Mercedes is keen to see the current BMW Sauber team continue in the sport next season.

BMW announced its exit from Formula One in the summer, but significantly did not sign the Concorde Agreement before the new deal with Qadbak Investments was put into place. With just 13 teams permitted under the current rules, the mysterious new owners are now relying on the existing teams to agree before they can be allowed to compete.

“We have a lot of sympathy,” explained McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh. “The people who work at Hinwil - the Sauber facility in Switzerland - are a good group and have worked hard over the years and certainly McLaren would not want to do anything that would potentially jeopardise their ability to continue in the sport. One, because the people there deserve the opportunity to race and, two, it would be damaging to the sport – to lose a well [established] team such as them.

“McLaren’s position is that we have been that we would agree to 14 teams – if that 14th team were them. 

We would help facilitate that [but] in the event that they or any other team failed, then we would see the number of teams marginally reduced. 14 is above the optimum number of teams, but we would make an exception in the case of BMW Sauber.”

While Mario Theissen - the BMW motorsport director - has the support of McLaren, Williams has made clear that is against the addition of a 14th team. The FIA has said that they will “be consulting urgently” with the existing outfits to allow BMW Sauber to compete.


Lotus Appoints Berro
Having been with the Italian companies for 14 years, former Peugeot rally co-driver Berro joins the Norfolk-based Lotus, which is soon set to open a new facility at Malaysia's Sepang Circuit. "Lotus has a peerless motorsport heritage, not just in Formula One, but we have also won in sportscar racing, saloon car racing, the world rally championships, Le Mans and the Indy 500," he told the official F1 website.

"There is no other car company in the world which can lay claim to so many accolades and championships in such a wide variety of motorsport fields, and I am looking forward to re-introducing Lotus to high level motorsport to not only compete and win but also to demonstrate the shared technology between Lotus sports cars and future racing cars."

With the outfit backed by Tony Fernandes' Tune Group, the company behind airline AirAsia, another part of the managerial jigsaw has now been slotted into place. "I am delighted that Claudio is joining us as Director of Motorsport," added Lotus CEO Dany Bahar. "He has a proven track record of not only setting up and managing the motorsport divisions within sports car brands but also winning championships in GT racing and rallying. His skills will be very valuable as we look to return Lotus to high level motorsport around the world."


Star Mazda South American TV Schedule Announced
The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear and P-UNO Motorsports TV today announced the SPEED Channel Latin America broadcast schedule for the 2009 races.  SPEED Latin America will begin broadcasting races at 1-hour shows every Wednesday, beginning November 11.  Two different races will air each Wednesday, with a repeat broadcast 3-4 days later. The final two events, the Grand Prix du Trois Rivières from Quebec and the season finale from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, will air on Dec. 9, with a repetition on Dec. 13.  Over the course of a month, SPEED Latin America will air 24 Star Mazda Championship broadcasts in more than 40 countries.  Races will air with Spanish-language voice-over commentary, SPEED will provide commentary in Portuguese for the Brazilian market and there will be a SAP version in English as well.

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Brawn: Master of the one race sponsor deal
This team does what it has to do to keep moving forward. The left-overs from Honda helped a lot for sure, but they still just don’t give up. They get out there and sell whatever they can and bring in whatever they can:

Brawn GP is pleased to confirm a one-race partnership with Qatar Telecom
for the final race of the 2009 Formula One season, the inaugural Abu
Dhabi Grand Prix, which takes place at the spectacular Yas Marina
circuit this weekend.

Qatar Telecom (Qtel) is the leading telecommunications company in Qatar,
with a presence in 17 countries, and their sponsorship of the new World
Champions Brawn GP will see the Qtel branding on the rear wing, chassis
and cockpit sides of the Brawn-Mercedes cars of Jenson Button and Rubens
Barrichello throughout the weekend.

Qatar Telecom's partnership with Brawn GP is part of their ambitious
sponsorship programme to maximise exposure of the Qtel brand through
innovative campaigns. With Formula One attracting a passionate following
in Qatar, the new partnership has generated a great deal of excitement
in the state as the Gulf region gears up to host the final race.

Ross Brawn, Team Principal, Brawn GP said: "We are delighted to be
partnering with Qatar Telecom this weekend as Formula One returns to the
Gulf for the final race of the 2009 season. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is
set to be a fantastic end to what has been a very exciting season of
racing with a very impressive new venue at the Yas Marina Circuit. With
both World Championships secured, Brawn GP will be looking for a good
result in Abu Dhabi to round off the season and we look forward to
welcoming our new partners at Qatar Telecom to the team over the

Dr Nasser Marafih, CEO, Qtel, said: "Qtel's profile is increasing across
the Gulf region and our ambitious agreement with the new World Champions
Brawn GP is the ideal partnership to drive awareness of our brand to a
new level. Qtel is proud to be associated with this fantastically
successful team and we plan to use our sponsorship to reach out to a
global audience of millions who will be watching the final race of the
season take place in Abu Dhabi this weekend."


Renault signs first sponsor since crash-gate UPDATE (GMM)  Renault has signed its first sponsor in the wake of the crash-gate scandal.

With title backer ING and Mutua Madrilena both leaving the French team in the wake of the Singapore race-fixing affair, Renault announced on Wednesday that it has inked a three-year deal with the Dutch watchmaker TW Steel.

The maker of oversized watches' branding will feature as of this weekend in Abu Dhabi, where on Friday morning a photocall will be staged in the Yas Marina Circuit's pitlane to show the logos on the car's nose, front wing and sidepods.

The announcement also deals a blow to speculation that Renault may not be committed to F1 despite signing the 2012 Concorde Agreement.

"The partnership ... confirms the team's positive outlook for the years ahead," said managing director Jean-Francois Caubet.

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American Auto Makers just need to make better cars
American automobile manufacturers are under the gun from the government, having received massive bailout funds and are scrambling to prove to the American people that it was not a wasted effort. Well, the answer is simple really. They just need to make better cars. For once, something seems to boil down to the product. The one domestic manufacturer that received very little help from the government, seems to be hanging in there, and making some of the best cars in the world right now.

Ford Motor Co. has secured its position as the only domestic automaker with world-class reliability, according to a report released today by Consumer Reports at a lunch event in Detroit hosted by the Automotive Press Association.

The findings for the trusted magazine’s 2009 Annual Car Reliability Survey are from 1.4 million consumer surveys combined with its own performance testing.

• PHOTO GALLERY: See the most reliable models.

• PHOTO GALLERY: See the least reliable models.

Of the 51 Ford, Mercury and Lincoln cars and trucks surveyed by Consumer Reports, 90% were average or better.

The Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan midsized sedans ranked higher than any other family sedan, except for the Toyota Prius hybrid car.

That’s noteworthy because the Ford Fusion, which is the 10th best selling vehicle in America so far this year, outperformed the better selling Toyota Camry (No. 2) and Honda Accord (No. 4).

“It’s rare for Consumer Reports to see family sedans from domestic automakers continue to beat the reliability scores of such highly regarded Japanese models as the Camry and Accord,” David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Automotive Test Center, said in a statement.

While the Ford Flex SUV also performed well, the all-wheel drive versions of Ford’s luxury Lincoln brand faltered, the magazine said.

Mixed results at GM

Meanwhile, Consumer Reports said its survey revealed mixed results for General Motors and showed that Chrysler continues to struggle with reliability

Consumer Reports said that 20 of 48 GM models have average reliability scores while the Chevrolet Malibu V6 has shown better-than-average scores. Also, the reliability scores for the Chevrolet Silverado and the GMC Sierra 1500 pickups improved enough to earn Consumer Reports recommendation.

Consumer Reports said the reliability of more than one-third of Chrysler’s cars and trucks continue to be worse than average.

Last year, Consumer Reports did not recommend any Chrysler product either because of mediocre performance, poor reliability scores, or both.

This year, Consumer Reports said it is recommending one vehicle — the four-wheel drive version of the redesigned Dodge Ram 1500 pickup.

Asians still dominate

Despite Ford’s strong performance and GM’s bright spots, Asian brands continued to dominate Consumer Reports nameplate rankings for predicted reliability.

To calculate predicted-reliability ratings, Consumer Reports averages the overall reliability scores for the most recent three model years

Ford’s Mercury brand, ranked 10th, is the only nameplate in the Top 10 listing. Others in the top 10, in order, are: Scion, Honda, Toyota, Infiniti, Acura, Mitsubishi, Lexus, Hyundai and Porsche.


Williams F1 establishes Technical Centre
Williams F1 and the Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) formally signed an agreement today to inaugurate the Williams Technology Centre (WTC). QSTP is a world class incubator for the research, development and commercialization of new technologies that has attracted significant R&D investment from companies such as Shell, Microsoft and GE. QSTP is part of the Qatar Foundation which also incorporates Education City, which hosts overseas campuses for six US universities including Carnegie Mellon and Texas A&M.

The Williams Technology Centre at QSTP will be the first Formula One-related Technical Centre outside the sport’s traditional heartland of Europe. The WTC will initially be tasked with the progression of two Formula One inspired R&D projects with clear commercial goals, namely the development of an industrial application large Magnetically Loaded Composite (MLC) flywheel and the advancement of Williams F1’s simulator know-how for competition and road car application.

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JGR turns to fake wrestling
NASCAR, Joe Gibbs Racing and the WWE-World Wrestling Entertainment. Now here's an interesting marketing partnership that we thought we'd never see. But it seems to be working very well. Gibbs Racing will be promoting the WWE on their two NASCAR Nationwide Series cars for the upcoming November 7th race at the Texas Motor Speedway. Logano's #20 Toyota will carry the Game Stop/WWE "Raw" Versus "Smackdown" logos. That's the name of the new wrestling video game patterned after the WWE's two popular weekly television programs. Busch's #18 Toyota will carry the Z Line Design/Raw brand on the car's hood.

With all of the marketing going on, the WWE thought it would be a great idea to have Busch and Logano as their celebrity managers last Monday night on its "Raw" program. The event was held in Buffalo-New York and aired live by the USA Network.

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All cars and engines pass inspection
All cars and engines taken to the NASCAR Research and Development Center following the Sprint Cup race Sunday at Martinsville Speedway have passed inspection, a NASCAR official confirmed Tuesday afternoon. Cars taken were those of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin (winner), Penske Racing’s Kurt Busch, and Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin. Engines taken back were those of Hamlin, Johnson and Busch.


Toyota warns 3.8M of floor mats
Toyota Motor Corp. began mailing notices this week to 3.8 million vehicle owners, urging them to remove their floor mats while it seeks a remedy for reports of sudden, unintended acceleration.

Toyota hasn't determined the factors behind a number of accidents, including the Aug. 28 wreck of a Lexus ES-350 in which an off-duty California Highway Patrolman and three others died.

Those factors may include floor mats, the accelerator pedal design, and the ignition system's software.

The Lexus ES-350 that crashed and burned, killing Officer Mark Saylor, his wife, 13-year-old daughter and brother-in-law, was a loaner from a dealership while Saylor's was being serviced.

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Photos of Yas Marina Circuit

Development Statistics
Work on Yas Marina Circuit began in February 2007, and has included:
- Employing a workforce of 14,000
- Investing 35 million man hours
- Shifting 1.6 million cubic meters of earthwork
- Laying 720,000 square meters of asphalt
- Pouring 225,000 cubic meters of concrete
- Installing 30 kilometers of special electronic ducts
- Installing 25 kilometers of electrical cabling
- Installing 17 kilometers of drainage
- Installing 22 kilometers of irrigation piping
- Landscaping 430,000 square meters of ground
- Planting 5,000 trees
- Setting 40 kilometers of curb-stones

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Haug plays down reports of Merc talks
  • Todt - 'no problems' with Ferrari's Montezemolo
  • Todt not excluding FIA role for Vatanen
  • Todt vows to push for French GP revival
  • Ferrari loses team member to Lotus
  • Campos officially joins teams group FOTA

Haug plays down reports of Merc talks
(GMM)  Norbert Haug has played down but not denied reports that Abu Dhabi will this weekend stage crucial talks about Mercedes' changing approach to formula one.

Reports this week said the German carmaker's chairman Dieter Zetsche and other officials will be at the Yas Marina Circuit not only to discuss ramping up the collaboration with Brawn, but also dismantling the one with long-time partner McLaren.

Haug, Mercedes' competition director, said in a telephone conference call that there was "nothing new to say" except that the marque has "options (about) how we present ourselves in formula one".

"There are no signatures," he confirmed, pointing out that the presence of Daimler officials in Abu Dhabi is not unusual, since the group is 9.1 per cent owned by a government investment arm.

Haug also referred to the exclusive contract with McLaren, which extends through 2011.

"If we want to do something McLaren has to agree and when McLaren want to something we have to agree," said the German.

"I can only assure you that we have a long term-basis association.  Everything else is speculation about which we do not comment."

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Alonso talks about the Abu Dhabi track
Yas Marina Circuit
What are your first impressions of the new circuit in Abu Dhabi?
It looks like it will be quite a demanding circuit for the drivers as there are over twenty corners in the lap – and some of them look very challenging. However, when you are looking at a map it’s difficult to really understand a circuit and it’s only when you get there and walk the circuit that you start to feel what it is really like.

How do you normally prepare for a new circuit?
We look at a lot of simulation data and I work very closely with the team to understand the demands of the track – much more than I would do for a track that I already know. We will probably spend five times longer preparing for a new venue and the circuit walk becomes very important for me and the engineers.

Which corners have caught your attention?
I think turns 11, 12 and 13 look interesting. I remember when we first saw the map of the circuit it reminded me of the difficult turn ten chicane in Singapore. It looks like turns eight and 11 will be the two big braking zones and for sure there will be opportunities to overtake there.

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David Coulthard gets a speeding ticket. In an F1 car.
(Ed Note: Didn’t they do something like this in that racing cinema classic "Driven"...)

You can't blame an F1 driver from driving fast. That's what they're supposed to do. Evidently authorities in India feel differently, however, as they've slapped David Coulthard with an enormous £20,000 (approx $33k) ticket for breaking the speed limit. The kicker? It was for a Formula 1 demonstration on a closed-off section of roadway.

The winner of thirteen grands prix (and one of the top points scorers of all time) retired from active racing at the end of last season, but remains a consultant and test driver for the Red Bull Racing team which he helped form. The team recently held a demonstration run in Mumbai, India, drawing a crowd of some 50,000 racing fans.

Part of the route took Coulthard across the Rajiv Ghandi Sea Link. The bridge has a maximum speed limit of 62 miles per hour, and even drops to 31 MPH in some parts. DC, however, was clocked at 162 MPH. As a result, the local authorities are reportedly withholding the £20,000 deposit which the team put down for the event, making for one mammoth speeding ticket. But at least Coulthard isn't stuck paying out of pocket.


Donington loses British GP UPDATE #2 Former Formula One champion Damon Hill is trying to bring the British Grand Prix back to Silverstone next year but fears the race could be scrapped from the calendar.

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone seems convinced that Donington Park will fail to meet Tuesday's deadline to find the cash to redevelop its circuit. That leaves him with three options — he finds the cash himself, the race goes back to Silverstone or is dropped from the 2010 schedule.

Hill, the 1996 F1 champ, is now president of the British Racing Drivers Club which is negotiating a deal to take the race back to Silverstone. But he believes Ecclestone could earn more money by giving the slot in the calendar to another country.

“He can get a value globally that is far in excess of what he can get for the UK,” Hill said. “We can respect that it is a difficult position for him to be in. He has to answer to his shareholders.

“Other countries are bound to pay a premium, but their revenue streams are more open than they are to a promoter in the UK. There are options on the table. There are discussions taking place and I'm hopeful something can be sorted out.”

The British GP has been held every year since 1948 but almost was dropped in 2005 because of a dispute between Ecclestone and the BRDC, which refused to pay the race fee he had demanded. The race was left off the provisional race calendar but was reinstated after negotiations produced an agreement.

Ecclestone has long criticized the lack of investment in upgrading Silverstone. The proposed move to Donington Park on a longterm contract was announced in July 2008.

Ecclestone said there would be major development work at Donington, which has been a regular venue for world championship motorcycle races and also the F1 European GP in 1993. But the owners of Donington failed to come up with the 135 million pounds (C$234 million) they needed to redevelop the circuit.

Ecclestone said on Monday he did not regret the initial decision to give the race to Donington.

“If they could have done what they said they were going to do and what the contract said they had to do, it would have been good,” he said.

10/23/09 (GMM) Donington's hopes of becoming the new host of the British grand prix beginning in 2010 are now over, according to British media reports.

Sources including BBC radio, and newspapers the Guardian, the Telegraph and the UK Express, claim that the newly launched high-risk loans funding scheme has been withdrawn.

"Bankers appear to have abandoned the initiative due to lack of interest from the world's major financial institutions," said the Guardian.

Friday is the deadline imposed by Bernie Ecclestone for the circuit, headed by Simon Gillett, to remedy its breach of contract by guaranteeing the funds for its major renovation.

"Gillett ... has tried everything to find the money but today he will have to admit defeat," read the report in the Express.

Donington was not available for comment.

10/22/09 Donington Park's plans of hosting a 2010 British Grand Prix were cast in doubt this week, with the BBC reporting that rumors that the track's financial plans have stalled.

A few weeks back, management announced the offering of a £135 million bond as a means to secure the financing needed to redevelop the venue, and meet the high sanction fee demands of Formula One.

Bernie Ecclestone has apparently set deadline for Friday for the track to secure the required finances before considering termination of British GP contract. BBC Radio 5 quoted unidentified banking sources as saying the bond issue had been withdrawn due to lack of interest from investors.

We can likely expect to hear something late Friday from one or both parties regarding the status of the British GP, with the possibility of there being no British GP for the first time in the history of Formula One.

However,  a report in AUTOSPORT indicates that Silverstone and Ecclestone have lined up a backup plan, just in case, so it seems that the lack of a British GP is not entirely at risk

In gentlemanly spirit and goodwill, Silverstone has agreed not to pursue the event unless Donington's hopes are completely extinguished.


Gordon's thoughts on 'Dega and the "Big One"
Oh, it will occur. But how do you avoid the “big one” in Sunday’s Amp Energy 500 according to six-time Talladega Superspeedway winner Jeff Gordon.

“It seems simple, really,” said the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion. “Just be ahead of it or way behind it – just don’t be in the middle of it. “Rarely do you escape when you are in the middle of it.”

Along with his six victories in 33 starts at the Alabama track, Gordon has one pole, 13 top-fives and 16 top-10’s. He has won in dominating fashion by leading 139 of 194 laps and he has been victorious with a conservative approach, patiently waiting until the end to make a move and leading only one lap – the final one.

“You can be aggressive or you can be conservative – either approach can be good or bad,” said Gordon, who collected his 16th top-five finish in 32 races this season last weekend at Martinsville. “And I don’t believe one approach works better than the other. “The ‘big one’ is going to happen – it’s just whether you get caught up in the crash or not, or whether it comes early or late in the race.”

While Gordon expects another thrilling race for the fans at the 2.66-mile track, a change has already begun at the speedway. “It’s going to be an exciting race for the drivers and the fans, but things are definitely changing here,” said the driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet.

“We saw it a little bit last year and again here in April – two cars working together could separate themselves from the bigger pack. -2- “We’re still going to see three-and-four-wide racing with a big pack of 30 to 40 cars, but you could see some breakaways during the race and again at the end.”

But the key is to be there at the end with a chance at victory and Gordon has not yet decided which approach he will employ during the 188-lap event.

“We will most likely take the aggressive approach and try to lead, but try to make smart decisions as well,” said the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion who is third in the standings and 150 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.

“A lot of that will depend on where we start and what is going on around us once the race starts. If need be, we can change our game plan during the race. “But there is one approach I prefer, and that’s racing from the drop of the green flag.”


SPEED launches social networking site
SPEEDtv.com, the online motorsports authority, has officially launched its new social networking property known as, MY SPEED. As with all entities associated with SPEED and SPEEDtv.com, MY SPEED will be devoted to the passionate fans who celebrate motorcycles, motorsports and the automotive lifestyle. 

MY SPEED will feature such social networking tools as customizable personal profiles, uploading and sharing personal video, photographs, commentary blogs, status share, friendship additions, interest groups, along with new message board and chat options. Also available will be free enhanced membership for SPEED Fanatics, where users have the ability to personalize areas of interest including their favorite SPEED programming, online breaking news and/or commentary.

“We really wanted a more engaging experience for the SPEED viewer and SPEEDtv.com user,” said Kevin Annison, SPEED VP of Digital Media. “We also wanted to meet the expectations our audience has for networking with all the people that share the same passions they do.

“Future expansion of the community will also include integration with Facebook, MySpace and Twitter accounts,” Annison continued. “We’ll also be looking at sponsorship opportunities to develop online communities around unique SPEED properties like NASCAR RaceDay and Formula One.”

As the site develops, many of SPEED’s on-air and online personalities also will be a part of the social network. Many of them will have regular blogs, providing exclusive commentary, up-to-date content and behind-the-scenes information from around the industry.

“MY SPEED takes our already active online community to another level entirely – offering up social networking features that have become mainstream,” said Joe Tripp, SPEED Director of Interactive Operations. “SPEED fans will be able to connect, contribute and customize their experience like never before.


Dave Rogers to become Kyle Busch's new Cup crew chief
Joe Gibbs Racing officials announced Tuesday that Dave Rogers will replace Steve Addington as Kyle Busch’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chief after this weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Rogers returns to Sprint Cup after four seasons in the Nationwide Series. He guided JGR’s No. 20 team to the Nationwide owners championship last year, winning nine races. The No. 20 has won five races this year.

Addington has led Busch’s No. 18 Cup team for two years, winning 12 races over that span. But Busch missed the Chase For The Sprint Cup this season. Addington will be reassigned to another position at JGR after Talladega.

“We evaluate all of our teams on an ongoing basis and believe this is a change that will make the 18 team stronger as we prepare for next season,” JGR President J.D. Gibbs said in a news release. “We think highly of Steve and the job he has done, and we look forward to him remaining a part of the JGR family.

“Dave has proven himself a talented crew chief, and we think he will work well with Kyle. We hope that by making the move following this weekend’s race at Talladega they can use the final three weeks of this season to begin working on communication and setups for the 2010 season.”

Rogers first joined Gibbs in 1998, working with the organization’s No. 20 Cup team and driver Tony Stewart through 2004. He moved to Cup as Jason Leffler’s crew chief in 2005.


Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Preview Q+A - Jens Marquardt,
Abu Dhabi Preview Q+A - Jens Marquardt, Team Manager

What are the first steps you take when preparing for a new circuit in terms
of logistics?
The first thing is to try to get as much information as possible beforehand,
so either you approach the circuit directly or, more often than not, they
are proactive in letting us know what their status is. With Suzuka for
example, the changes were made to the pit facilities.
drawings, information about their plans and an invitation to go there
to take photos, ask questions, make requests and understand what the
It is useful to give our input about what we
require from electricity and network connections, all that sort of thing.

If you could have three wishes for any new venue in terms of facilities,
what would they be?
The first would be enough space to work and store everything comfortably,
especially thinking ahead to next year when there will be more teams.
Another priority would be to have facilities as similar as possible from
track to track so we don't need to continually change or adapt our
equipment. Finally, good transport infrastructure is essential because
otherwise it can be a real inconvenience for the team.

What about Abu Dhabi in particular?
In the case of Abu Dhabi, it is a completely new venue so the situation is
different to Suzuka because we had no existing information. We were invited
to visit after the Bahrain Grand Prix and were shown what was available at
that time and what was planned. They listened to our input and discussed
issues like access as well as pit or office installations. Abu Dhabi is a
slightly different case because Richard Cregan and Andy Beaven are working
on the project so obviously we have great contact due to their time with
Toyota. Also, those two guys have a lot of expertise from a team's
perspective so they know exactly what is required.

How about logistics away from the track?
After we look at the circuit itself, the next task is to understand the
logistical situation in terms of what hotels exist, which airport is most
suitable and how to transport people around when they are there. We look at
whether there are any regulations covering foreigners driving hire cars and
if it is more appropriate to use buses; we make a decision based on the most
convenient, efficient and cost-effective solution. This is actually quite a
lot of work in long-term preparation so it takes place between six months
and a year in advance.

How are the logistics in terms of getting people to the venue in Abu Dhabi?
I would say everything looks good in terms of logistics in Abu Dhabi. Our
hotel is located between the airport, the city and the track so we should
have decent transportation in that respect and driving should be no problem.
We had a small concern in terms of immigration and access to Yas Island,
which normally requires a permit, but this has been sorted out with FOM
(Formula One Management) and the government so it should be quite easy for
the team.

How do you decide which hotels to book?
More or less it is a compromise between cost, location and comfort. We have
some standards that we like to provide to the team and at the same time we
have a certain budget that we allocate for every event so we need to find
the best fit. For Abu Dhabi we went as far as looking at the possibility of
staying in Dubai and commuting every day, in case the hotels proved more
suitable, but in reality it was not really viable. The transfer time is long
and there is the possibility for sand storms or accidents on the roads so in
the end we chose a hotel in Abu Dhabi itself. Our philosophy is that we get
better quality of work from people if they have appropriate accommodation at
a suitable distance from the track. If you have a long day of work then
spending another hour or so transferring to the hotel is quite a burden.

Does the evening start time cause any complications or changes to routine?
The good thing is it is the last race of the season so the delayed starting
time is not really an issue logistically or in terms of pack-up, unlike the
night race in Singapore which also affected the back-to-back Grand Prix in
Japan. That was quite a logistic problem on Sunday because we had the late
race and then still had to have our freight ready by the normal time, so
around 4am on Monday morning. It was demanding on the guys to get it all
arranged in time but in Abu Dhabi this won't be a problem. It is the last
race so there is no hurry to get the equipment to the next venue and our
flights are on Monday night so there's plenty of time.

How did the cars get from Brazil to Abu Dhabi?
The cars went direct from Brazil to Abu Dhabi via the FOM air freight. They
arrived at the end of last week and were stored in Abu Dhabi before our guys
got there to start work on Monday morning.

What are your impressions generally of the Yas Marina Circuit?
It is extreme. When I was down there in April to do a recce they were
already working all the time available in a day, although obviously not at
the hottest time because it is impossible. What we have seen of the updates
since then is incredible; something I have never seen before with a Formula
1 track. The marina they are building, which the track runs around, the
hotel with the bridge across - they have invested a lot in the whole venue
and it is certainly something different. They have really made an effort for
the teams to have everything exactly how we want it so hopefully for us it
will be the easiest new event for a long time.


PRI/CKI All-Star Karting Event add Rice, Rahal
A pair of history-making drivers are the latest stars to be added to the line-up for the 4th Annual PRI CKI All-Star Karting Classic as Buddy Rice and Graham Rahal will participate in this year’s event to be being held in conjunction with the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in Orlando, Dec. 10-12.

Rice is one of just 12 drivers in history to win both the Indianapolis 500 and the Rolex 24 at Daytona.  He’s joined by Rahal, the youngest winner in major open-wheel history after winning in IRL competition at just 19 years, 93 days in 2008.  In addition to Rice and Rahal, former Indy car star and current Grand-Am driver Memo Gidley also has been added to the field.

“It’s going to be a real show when all of these top drivers get on the track and the visors go down,” said CKI General Manager Kevin Williams.  “I can’t wait to see the action! And I know the spectators are going to get real enjoyment seeing the best in the business race these fast and powerful karts on the tricky, purpose-built track on Thursday night.” 

One of the most unique races on the annual U.S. motorsports calendar, the PRI CKI All-Star Karting Classic is the highlight of the December racing schedule, featuring drivers from a variety of series including IRL, NASCAR, Grand-Am, ALMS and NHRA.  Among the drivers already announced is NASCAR star Jamie McMurray.  More than 20 drivers will be announced in the All-Star division and past All-Star Karting Classic winners include Rice, Grand-Am star Michael Valiante and Indy car driver Jay Howard.

Two karting divisions will actually be presented on the tight, fast track. In addition to the All-Star division, the Karter division features some of the best young, up-and-coming kart drivers from around the country. Many of the competitors in the Karter Division are champions and will soon be graduating up to cars.

“With most racing series finished for the season, it makes for a terrific show to see so many stars from around the racing world come together to go wheel-to-wheel in December.  And with no admission charge for the race, it’s certainly the best bargain in racing.  It’s like an early Christmas present for race fans,” exclaimed, Steve Lewis, producer of the PRI Trade Show.  “And there’s no place you can see an event like this except at our PRI Trade Show.”

The PRI CKI All-Star Karting Classic will be held at 7 p.m., Thursday, December 10, on a track adjacent to the North/South Building of the Orange County Convention Center, which houses the PRI Trade Show. There is no charge for admission.

The event accompanies the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show, the world’s largest hardcore racing trade show, featuring exhibits by 1,200 racing companies.  Last year more than 40,000 buyers from 61 countries attended the show.

The PRI CKI All-Star Karting Classic joins the Motor Sports Business Forum North America, PRI’s annual Industry Roundtable, the accompanying Advanced Engineering Technology Conference, and the Grand Opening Breakfast featuring Wind Tunnel’s Dave Despain to make the five-day series of events the biggest happening of racing’s off-season.


Tony Eury Sr. to return as a crew chief for JR Motorsport
Tony Eury Sr. says he’ll continue as a crew chief at JR Motorsports in 2010, even as driver Brad Keselowski leaves the NASCAR Nationwide Series team for Penske Racing.

Eury Sr. also serves as competition director for JRM and had to be convinced to serve as a crew chief by team co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“I guess I’m going to be,” Eury Sr. said of next season. “I can’t say 100 percent. We really don’t know what all is going on with our program yet. We do know the [No.] 88’s going to run full time. We possibly could have two full-time cars. We could even have a third car run part time.”

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Sadler officially in a Ford at 'Dega
Elliott Sadler's #19 Stanley car will race as a Ford for the first time in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. Sadler is racing the Ford Fusion in preparation for Richard Petty Motorsports switch to Ford beginning in 2010. Sadler will return to his familiar #19 Dodge entry for the final three races of 2009.

ON DRIVING A FORD AT TALLADEGA: "Richard Petty Motorsports is working with Ford Racing as we get ready to make the full-time switch at Daytona in 2010. Since this is the final restrictor plate race of the season, we made the decision to run a Ford to get some work done in advance. This will be our first time to practice and work on a Fusion under real race conditions. It should help us get ready to make a strong showing at Daytona and put us in the best position to start next season. I'll be back in a Dodge at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead, but since it's important to start a season off on the right foot we thought we'd try to get a head start." RPM


Merc's Zetsche goes to Abu Dhabi for F1 talks
(GMM)  Daimler and Mercedes chief Dieter Zetsche will travel to Abu Dhabi this week for the last race of the 2009 formula one season.

German language reports in Auto Motor und Sport and Motorsport Aktuell claim he will head talks about Mercedes' new plans for its grand prix foray in 2010 and beyond.

It is expected that Mercedes, with a 40 per cent shareholding in McLaren, wants to step away from that British team in favor of the new drivers' and constructors' champions, Brawn GP.

McLaren and Mercedes are however tied together by exclusive contract through 2011, making it likely that the pair will stay together until then.

Mercedes, however, reportedly wants to ramp up its collaboration with Brawn immediately; possibly by taking a 75 per cent stake in the team and having it held for now by Daimler shareholder AABAR.

AABAR is an Abu Dhabi state-owned investments company.


Rogers to become Kyle Busch's new Cup crew chief
Joe Gibbs Racing officials announced Tuesday that Dave Rogers will replace Steve Addington as Kyle Busch’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chief after this weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Rogers returns to Sprint Cup after four seasons in the Nationwide Series. He guided JGR’s No. 20 team to the Nationwide owners championship last year, winning nine races. The No. 20 has won five races this year.

Addington has led Busch’s No. 18 Cup team for two years, winning 12 races over that span. But Busch missed the Chase For The Sprint Cup this season. Addington will be reassigned to another position at JGR after Talladega. 

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IndyCar sponsor KYMCO announces new products and deals
IndyCar's official scooter and off-road utility vehicle, KYMCO announced new products and purchase and finance deals today. If you are an IndyCar fan, and in the market for one of these types of toys, try to support the sponsors of the sport so we can all bring IndyCar back to a place we remember!

Check out their ad here!


HVM making changes for 2010
With the checkered flag unfurled on the 2009 IndyCar Series season, HVM Racing is planning changes for the off-season to get the historically winning team back on track for 2010.

The team plans to return next season as a two-car operation after adding a second car mid-season in 2009 with the signing of Robert Doornbos.  Doornbos is signed to return in 2010, and the team is now exploring options with their second entry after E.J. Viso’s contract with the team expired.

Team principal and owner Keith Wiggins is already busy looking for the right talent that he feels is needed to get team performance back to past levels.  In seven years in the CART and Champ Car series, the team was a regular race winner and championship contender and produced two Rookie of the Year winners.  HVM Racing earned seven top-10 finishes in its first IndyCar season in 2008, but 2009 results were below the team’s sophomore-year expectations.

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Drivers experience tunnel vision at Abu Dhabi
The already much talked about pit exit in Abu Dhabi is likely to be one of the attractions of the weekend. Unlike any other pit exit in the history of Formula One, Yas Marina's travels through a tunnel before rejoining the track at the third corner. With the pit entrance on the right-hand side of the circuit and the exit to the left, those pitting in Abu Dhabi will skip three corners of the race track. The covered section, however, will be tackled at unrestricted speeds as the pit exit line comes before the tunnel, raising number of eyebrows.
because it's different, but when we actually get there and go through it, it won't be such a big issue," commented Andy Stevenson, Team Manager of Force India. "The one thing that might be a little bit difficult is the temperature of the track, because it's going to be very different in the tunnel, but I like to think it won't be too much of a problem."

Andy went on to mention the pit exit of Interlagos, in which former Champion Lewis Hamilton came close to brushing the barriers during the Brazilian Grand Prix. However, he is not so worried over Abu Dhabi's link back onto track. "If someone hits the barrier, there is a crane that can lift the car out of the way," Stevenson explained.

"The track is also eight meters wide at that point - there's a lot of room - and it releases the cars out onto the track at high speed in a completely safe environment - and that is what it was designed to do.

"It certainly makes it totally original. If it wasn't a tunnel, nobody would be questioning it - I think it's just the fact that the whole thing has got a roof on and you get a claustrophobic feeling!" f1gpupdate.net


Glock travelling to Abu Dhabi for 2010 talks
(GMM) Timo Glock will still make the journey to Abu Dhabi this week as the 2009 season concludes at the new Yas Marina Circuit.

Suffering from minor leg and spinal injuries, his Toyota cockpit will be filled by the Japanese rookie Kamui Kobayashi.

But, for the 27-year-old German, arguably more important than this weekend's racing will be the trackside negotiations with potential employers about the 2010 season.

Glock's manager Hans Bernd Kamps on Tuesday told the German news agency SID that he thinks he could finalise a deal for next year within the next 14 days.

Top of the list will be the talks with Renault about becoming Robert Kubica's new teammate, but it is also believed that Manor and Sauber are options for 2010.

"We had five prospective teams, and we negotiate seriously with three," Kamps said.


Donington not confirming GP contract loss
(GMM) Despite Tuesday's final deadline, Donington Park is refusing to comment on reports it will now definitely not host the British grand prix.

The latest media statement issued by the Leicestershire venue last Friday was about the failure of its loans funding scheme for "F1 redevelopment".

That statement referred to a noon Monday deadline to "remedy a breach of contract" with Bernie Ecclestone "in order to keep any plans for retaining the ... formula one contract alive".

F1 chief executive Ecclestone subsequently clarified that Tuesday was actually Donington's last chance, but circuit spokespeople refused to comment when contacted.


Wheldon to stay with Panther
Former Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon confirmed Monday that he will return to Panther Racing despite having the least-productive season of his IndyCar Series career. Wheldon's second-place finish in the 500 was one of three top-three finishes this season.

After winning at least two races in each of the previous five seasons, the 2005 series champion did not reach victory lane this year, finishing 10th in the standings.

With 15 victories, Wheldon ranks fourth among drivers who have competed in the IndyCar Series (since 1996). He had averaged 543 laps led per season over the past five seasons, but he led only. eight this season. The Indianapolis Star


Force India previews  F1 finale
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, from 30 October - 1 November, will be the finale of the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship. A new venue on the calendar, it's one of the most talked about events of recent years on account of the sheer scale of the work involved in constructing the state-of-the-art Yas Marina circuit.

Over the course of just a few years, organizers have built a 25km sq man-made island known as Yas Island with 17km sq of luxury apartments, hotels, retail parks, theme parks and, of course, the circuit: a Tilke-designed, high-speed run through the island's marina district. The track itself is a feat of engineering, with unique facilities including a pass through a hotel lobby, underground pit lane exit and a straight running parallel to an airplane landing strip.

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Injured Glock to also miss Abu Dhabi
(GMM) Team reserve Kamui Kobayashi will again replace Toyota's regular race driver Timo Glock as the 2009 season concludes in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

German Glock, 27, cut his leg and cracked a vertebra in a Suzuka qualifying crash earlier this month, and had to sit out the Japanese and Brazilian races.

His manager Hans Bernd Kamps said at the weekend that Glock's chances of returning to the cockpit in Abu Dhabi were "90 per cent".

But Toyota team president John Howett said on Tuesday: "Having discussed the medical advice with Timo and his management, the team has decided to take no risk and to put Kamui in the car.

"We feel genuinely sorry for Timo that his season, which has included two impressive podium finishes, is ending in this way," he added in the media statement.


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Deadline still looming but Donington hopes over
  • Ecclestone will not pursue Donington for damages
  • New barriers bring walls close to F1 action
  • Fauzy turns attention to Lotus F1 seat
  • Blame gov'ts for F1's turning tide - Cregan
  • Massa all set for competitive race return
  • Hakkinen advises McLaren to keep Kovalainen

Deadline still looming but Donington hopes over
(GMM)  Contrary to widespread reports, Donington's deadline to resurrect its flailing British grand prix bid is Tuesday, not Monday.

But it seems the Leicestershire venue has already given up all hope of staging the event, with formula one now removed from the 2010 'events calendar' on the official Donington Park website.

Bernie Ecclestone told the Guardian newspaper that he did not want to prejudice the situation before the deadline officially passes, and Donington also would not comment.

The Times, however, said the British billionaire has said Donington's chances are "over".

Theoretically, Donington's woe is good news for the race's traditional venue Silverstone, but its negotiations with the F1 chief executive about a deal for 2010 and beyond are deadlocked.

The two sides are reportedly disagreeing about a small amount of money, and particularly the rate at which the promoter's fee increases every year.

Silverstone owner the British Racing Drivers' Club president Damon Hill said: "I'm confident a deal can be worked out.

"The contract can be of any combination of years, but it has to be affordable," he told BBC radio Northampton.

Ecclestone will not pursue Donington for damages
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has played down suggestions that Donington's inability to stage the British grand prix next year could cost the circuit millions in penalties.

The track has also lost the MotoGP rights to Silverstone, made its facility almost unusable due to refurbishments that cannot be completed, and is facing "administration" due to debts, according to the Telegraph newspaper.

Moreover, documents relating to the recently failed loans funding scheme show that Ecclestone, F1's chief executive, can claim 18m pounds sterling in "liquidated damages" if the grand prix bid falls through.

But the 78-year-old Briton told the Times: "No, there are no penalties -- not at all."

Ecclestone also said he does not regret entering into the 17-year agreement with Donington, with the future of the current venue Silverstone also under a cloud with just eight months until Britain's scheduled race date.

"No I don't regret it," he insisted.  "If they could have done what they said they were going to do, and what the contract said they had to do, it would have been good."

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