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2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS Indianapolis 500 Pace Car  
Officials from Chevrolet and Indianapolis Motor Speedway unveiled the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS Indianapolis 500 pace car at the Speedway’s Hall of Fame Museum today.

“We’ve enjoyed a great partnership with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway throughout the years, and are proud to once again have the privilege of pacing the Indianapolis 500 in a Camaro,” said Jim Campbell, General Manager, Chevrolet.

The 2010 Chevy Camaro Indianapolis 500 pace car is a 21st century sports car that looks to the future with a nod to both the car’s and the race’s heritage. The first year for Camaro to pace the Indianapolis 500 was in 1967, the year the Camaro made its debut. Camaro has since paced the race in 1969, 1982, 1993 and 2009. More ...

Q&A with Danica Patrick at ARCA test  SPEEDtv.com columnist Robin Miller sat down with Danica Patrick Friday in a live exclusive one-on-one interview on SPEED from ARCA testing at Daytona International Speedway.  Following is a transcript from the interview.

Miller: When you guys tested in Indy cars here, you got to run a couple of corners here.  The first time you drove down the straightaway at Indy and what that felt like going into turn one and comparable to here?  It’s a completely different mindset.

Patrick: It seems like it (car) asks for a lot of patience.  Also, just a comparison I’ve already kind of felt is when you go faster in an Indy car, the faster you go, the more speed you get going, the better it feels because you just keep producing more downforce.  But in these cars, it seems like the faster you go, kind of the more they start moving around and you’re like, ‘Oh, boy’ and I was really slow with the throttle, really slow with the brake because you don’t want to upset it because it just feels like it’s lifting up more.  It will be interesting how it feels on these bigger tracks.

Miller: One of the great secrets last week was your test at Disney World … you got to run four-and-a-half hours.  Just your impressions of the brakes … completely different way to drive a car?

Patrick:  The brakes - they’re pretty good, they don’t lock the car up too quick. I feel like I can use quite a bit of pressure.  Still not, I guess, the pressure reads that I’m getting in an Indy car.  I felt like I could get on them.  The cars really are responsive to driver input. I found myself getting into the corner, getting off the brake and rolling a lot of speed and, almost mid-corner, just dipping the brake a little and getting the nose down.  That way, I could get to full throttle sooner so that it didn’t push all the way to the wall.  Look at that – I’m using the word ‘push’ already. More ...

Yacaman races in hometown  Firestone Indy Lights driver Gustavo Yacaman was one of the more than 10,000 participants in a road race in Colombia.

The 18-year-old driver ran in the Carrera del Río Cali (Cali River Race), a 10-kilometer race that takes place each December in Yacaman's hometown of Santiago de Cali, Colombia. It is one of the biggest races in Colombia.

"The idea was not to go for the win or to go for a good result," said Yacaman, who completed the course in a little more than an hour and used the race as part of his preseason training program. "I ran so the people of my city had a chance to interact with me."

Yacaman, who has tested with several teams and is planning to return to race in Firestone Indy Lights in 2010, was recognized on the podium following the event and given a badge by race organizers.

Tickets for Toronto reduced  Tickets for the 2010 Honda Indy Toronto, which will return to Exhibition Place July 16-18, are now available at www.HondaIndyToronto.com.

Many of the reserved seat ticket packages have been reduced in price and a new junior price ticket has been added. Reserved seat adult ticket packages range between $106 and $215 for upper Gold Level tickets. Adult general admissions tickets also have been reduced as well ($21 for Friday, $31 for Saturday and $42 for Sunday's events). Three-day general admission ticket packages are $52. Reduced rate tickets are available for juniors (ages 12 and under) in most ticket categories.

Fans purchasing any ticket package before Dec. 31 can choose from an IZOD IndyCar paddock pass (valued at $57), a VIP Pit Walk-Through ($36 value) or a three-day parking pass ($70 value). More ...

Center to carry Patrick's name  Employees and guests weren't the only ones to get a boost from Go Daddy Group Inc.'s holiday party at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Go Daddy founder and CEO Bob Parsons announced that his Scottsdale, Ariz.-based domain name registrar would donate $500,000 to UMOM New Day Centers' capital campaign to build a wing onto its existing downtown Phoenix facility. The new wing will be called the Danica Patrick GoDaddy.com Domestic Violence Center.

UMOM New Day Centers, which has served the community through a variety of programs geared toward the homeless and at-risk families since 1964, provides shelter, counseling and other resources to victims of domestic violence. More ...

Are wind tunnels out of style?  Wirth Research has designed Formula 1’s first ever car without a wind tunnel. The car will be raced under the Virgin Racing banner in 2010 and has been generated by state-of-the-art Computational Fluid Dynamics technology at Wirth Research’s facilities in Bicester, Oxfordshire.

The car, on course to run for the first time in February, has already passed most of Formula 1’s mandatory crash tests.

All other major components are also on schedule at Wirth Research, whose workforce has doubled in size to 110 engineers since the new 2010 Formula 1 entries were announced in June.

“We are of course delighted to add Virgin Racing to our burgeoning list of blue-chip clients,” comments Nick Wirth, Technical Director of both Wirth Research and Virgin Racing.

“Virgin Racing is an all-new Formula 1 entry and here at Wirth Research we are very proud to be providing the backbone to it with a unique approach to car design and development, part of a process we call ‘Development in the Digital Domain’.”

This process also includes extensive use of Wirth’s Driver In the Loop simulator to “virtually” test and develop new cars before any parts have been produced.

Wirth Research has already proven its capabilities by using this method to design the Acura LMP1 and LMP2 prototypes, the cars winning both classes in the 2009 American Le Mans Series. In 2010, the all-conquering LMP2 Acura will come to Europe to race in the Le Mans 24 Hours while, simultaneously, the company will be developing a new LMP1 car for the future.

Nick Wirth adds: “We will continue our philosophy of major investment in cutting edge technologies to carry on innovating. Our group of companies has involvement in many areas both inside and outside motorsport and our philosophy of technology transfer will continue to benefit all of our existing and future clients.

“The fact that our Formula 1 project is fully on schedule speaks volumes for the motivation and capabilities of our entire workforce. We are all looking forward to seeing the car break cover for the first time on track in February.”

He continues: “Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport technology and working on such an exciting project as the Virgin Racing entry gives Wirth Research a unique opportunity to showcase our engineering talent.” Racecar Engineering

Statement from Gil de Ferran  Following recent press interest in the future of de Ferran Motorsports Team Owner, Gil de Ferran has made the following statement:
“At the time of writing I am working very hard to secure de Ferran Motorsports immediate future and my plans to enter the 2010 Indy Car Championship are still very much alive.
“I have continued to employ our staff until now while working towards our 2010 goals but as of yet I am not in a position to announce anything further.  The staff have been kept fully informed of the situation and the current status was communicated to them yesterday.  In the meantime I am continuing to work on the 2010 program and will release further information when our plans are finalised.”
racing news
Zakspeed goes belly up  Race car manufacturer and entrant Zakspeed, one of motorsports most famous names, has filed for bankruptcy in Germany.
racing news
Allison named new Ford Racing Boss  Jamie Allison, a 22-year Ford veteran with experience in engineering, product planning and marketing, has been named director, Ford North America Motorsports, effective January 1, 2010, it was announced today.

Allison, who most recently has been Ford Performance Group Manager, will replace current director Brian Wolfe, who has been named to a new position in global product development by Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Ford Global Product Development and Tony Brown, group vice president, Ford Global Purchasing.

“I’m excited about the challenge of helping take Ford’s racing program forward,” said Allison, who has been part of the Ford Racing management team for just over six years.  “For a kid who wanted to work for Ford Motor Company, to help carry forward a tradition that Henry Ford himself started is something special. More ...

Stick a fork in Saab, it's done  General Motors announced today that the intended sale of Saab Automobile AB would not be concluded. After the withdrawal of Koenigsegg Group AB last month, GM had been in discussions with Spyker Cars about its interest in acquiring Saab. During the due diligence, certain issues arose that both parties believe could not be resolved.  As a result, GM will start an orderly wind-down of Saab operations.

“Despite the best efforts of all involved, it has become very clear that the due diligence required to complete this complex transaction could not be executed in a reasonable time. In order to maintain operations, Saab needed a quick resolution,” said GM Europe President Nick Reilly.  “We regret that we were not able to complete this transaction with Spyker Cars. We will work closely with the Saab organization to wind down the business in an orderly and responsible manner. This is not a bankruptcy or forced liquidation process. Consequently, we expect Saab to satisfy debts including supplier payments, and to wind down production and the distribution channel in an orderly manner while looking after our customers.” More ...

Danica had better watch her rear view mirror  Danica Patrick shouldn't let her newfound NASCAR aspirations take her eye off of her day job in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

The popular IndyCar driver recently signed a deal to compete in select NASCAR Nationwide Series races with JR Motorsports in 2010. However, she could be challenged as the fastest woman in IndyCar if Swiss racer Simona de Silvestro joins the series next year.

Patrick, who first gained notoriety in 2005 by becoming the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500, has enjoyed a level of success and a lot of media attention in America's top open-wheel series. She became the first woman to win a major open-wheel race when she won the IndyCar event at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in 2008. More ...

Ecclestone doubles fee for 2011 Turkish GP  (GMM)  The last Turkish grand prix could be held in 2010, after Bernie Ecclestone told organizers the race promotion fee will be almost doubled for 2011.

The Istanbul based Hurriyet daily said on Friday the F1 chief executive has in a letter demanded $26 million per race from the Turkish government beginning in 2011, up from a previous $13.5m.

The newspaper said Ecclestone wants a decision by the end of December.

It is reported that the 79-year-old said in his letter to sports minister Faruk Nafiz Ozak that countries like India are offering as much as $30m per race.

But an unnamed Turkish official said: "In countries such as France and Germany, the formula one CEO is requesting something between $1.5 million and $4 million."

Turkey hosted its first F1 race at the purpose-built Istanbul Park in 2005, earning rave reviews for its unique turn 8, but a conspicuously small crowd numbering just 30,000 turned up for this year's race day.

In 2007, Ecclestone agreed to rent the track until 2021.

Godstone Ranch Rolex 24 lineup  Godstone Ranch Motorsports and Houston’s Texas Heart Institute announced today an impressive driver lineup for the 48th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.  The talented group includes some of the biggest names in American motorsports; Rolex 24 and Le Mans 24 winner Davy Jones, 2008 Rolex Sports Car Series GT Champion Paul Edwards, Daytona 200 5-time winner and AMA Hall of Fame inductee Scott Russell and promising Grand-Am newcomer John McCutchen II will be behind the wheel of the #07 Godstone Ranch Motorsports / Team MBR / LRPG / Corvette, benefitting the Texas Heart Institute.
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • USF1 signs agreement with supplier
  • Surname did not help Lucas di Grassi
  • Wurz still interested in USF1 race seat
  • Qadbak's football club deal also collapses
  • Lopez link no guarantee of seat for Tung
  • No McLaren sponsors to switch to Mercedes
  • Yas Marina not confirming Schu comeback test
  • Katayama rescued during Mt Fuji mountain climb

USF1 signs agreement with supplier
(GMM)  The new American formula one entry USF1 has signed a long-term agreement with a supplier.

The deal is with Umeco's Oklahoma-based Advanced Composites Group (ACG).

"ACG's composites expertise will be critical for us to meet our goals and expectations in 2010 and beyond," said team principal Ken Anderson.

Of F1's four new teams for 2010, USF1 is the only team yet to announce at least one driver.

Surname did not help Lucas di Grassi
(GMM)  Lucas di Grassi has admitted that funding his way through motor racing's lower categories to formula one was difficult.

Like his contemporaries Nelson Piquet and Bruno Senna, the 25-year-old is from Brazil, but was unable to attract sponsors with the assistance of a famous surname.

Di Grassi, a GP2 regular and last year's Renault reserve, has secured his grand prix debut for 2010 with the new Virgin Racing team.

But he told Brazil's Globo: "I have always been competing with drivers with strong last names.  It was always difficult to find sponsors." More ...

track news
Heluva Good!® Partners with Two International Speedway Facilities  International Speedway Corporation (“ISC”) today announced it has signed a multi-year race entitlement and official status agreement with Heluva Good! at Michigan International Speedway and Watkins Glen International.  Financial terms were not disclosed.

Under the agreement, Heluva Good! will serve as the title sponsor for the June NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan and the August Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen. In addition, Heluva Good! will become the Official  Dip and Cheese Products at Michigan and Official Dip Product at Watkins Glen.  Lastly, as part of the agreement, Heluva Good! will receive display and signage opportunities at both facilities. More ...

racing news
Jim Russell Racing Drivers School, Future Driver Search  The Jim Russell Racing Drivers School’s Future Driver Search “2010 Selection” process takes place at the Infineon Raceway beginning on Saturday (19 Dec) and concluding Tuesday (22 Dec). Double Le Mans 24 Hour race winner Allan McNish heads the Selection Panel which also includes Chip Pankow, President of the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School.
Bryan Herta Autosport Moves to New Headquarters  Bryan Herta Autosport (BHA) owners Bryan Herta and Steve Newey today announced that they will move their Firestone Indy Lights program to a new headquarters for the 2010 racing season. BHA, a technical partner and tenant of Vision Racing in its debut season, will begin the moving process this week and will occupy a race shop on the northwest side of Indianapolis which formerly housed Fernandez Racing.

“I am thrilled that we have this opportunity to grow our team,” said Herta, who will confirm BHA’s full program in January. “We are definitely a year ahead of the plan that Steve and I had originally set for ourselves. This is an important step for our team as we continue to build our infrastructure. I have to thank Tony, Laura and Lauren George in addition to everyone at Vision Racing for all of their support this season. It was a great partnership and we never could have started BHA without their support.” More ...

Atlantic test slated for Sebring  The first series-sanctioned on-track activity for the 2010 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda is set for Sebring International Raceway from January 22-24, series officials announced today.

Atlantic testing at Sebring is part of a three-day test session that will include other IMSA-sanctioned series, including Star Mazda, the GT3 Challenge and Prototype Lights. Each day of the weekend test will include two on-track sessions for each series. Atlantic testing runs from 8:55 to 9:35 a.m. ET and 1:40 to 2:40 pm ET on Friday, January 22; 8:00 to 8:40 a.m. ET and 12:25 to 1:25 p.m. ET on Saturday, January 23; and 11:15 to 11:55 a.m. ET and 4:10 to 5:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, January 24. More ...

Extreme team names 2010 ALMS lineup  Extreme Speed Motorsports, the new race team created and owned by veteran race car driver Scott Sharp, has revealed the driver lineup to compete for the team in the American Le Mans Series' GT2 class in 2010. The announcement follows a successful day of testing the team's first new Ferrari F430 GTC at Sebring International Raceway - the car's first run on American soil after arriving from the factory in Italy.

"The Ferrari F430 is beautiful, and definitely one of the best handling cars I have ever driven," Sharp said today. "The team is incredibly enthusiastic about our relationship with Ferrari, and I'm very excited that we are already hitting the track, testing." More ...

Oreca team gets its Peugeot  After taking time to consult the various teams which expressed an interest in running a Peugeot 908 HDi FAP in 2010, Peugeot Sport has finally decided to provide Team ORECA MATMUT with a car. The motor sport record of the Hugues de Chaunac-directed operation provides clear evidence of the team's skill and professionalism, while the team has provided assurances of its ability to source the necessary funding to enter a 2010-specification 908 HDi FAP in the Le Mans 24 Hours and in the Le Mans Series.

"ORECA and its director Hugues De Chaunac have a proven winning record in several motor sport disciplines over the years," says Peugeot Sport Director Olivier Quesnel. "We have consequently chosen this team which we believe is the best qualified to defend Peugeot's colours. Team ORECA MATMUT will run a 908 HDi FAP in the 2010 Le Mans Series, as well as in the 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours where its support will be invaluable. I am convinced that our collaboration will be a fruitful one, and that there is every chance it can be extended in the future with the supply of Peugeot engines in 2011."

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Lotus versus Virgin rivalry heats up
  • Massa admits sore neck after Mugello tests
  • Ecclestone reveals Schumacher return likely
  • F1 teams to select appeal judges in 2010
  • Renault halves F1 budget with Genii deal
  • Sauber sponsor switches to Virgin
  • Kovalainen to drive Proton in Finnish rally
  • Tung's manager quiet amid Renault seat reports
  • Canada GP tickets go on sale
  • Kubica waits for answers after Renault team sale
  • Sauber confirms Kobayashi for 2010

Lotus versus Virgin rivalry heats up
(GMM)  Lotus team boss Tony Fernandes has doubted Virgin Racing's claim that it can be competitive in formula one without using a wind tunnel.

Virgin's designer Nick Wirth, who owned Simtek and was also involved with Benetton in the late 90s, has penned the 2010 single seater by using only computers and simulation technology.

"(Virgin are) very convinced that is the way forward, that you can do it all with CFD," Fernandes told Reuters.  "I am from the aviation business, mate.  You can't.  You've got to have a wind tunnel."

The rivalry between Lotus and Virgin, whose bosses Fernandes (AirAsia) and Sir Richard Branson both run airlines, took a cheeky turn this week when Branson dared Fernandes to become a female Virgin stewardess if his team is beaten in 2010.

Fernandes responded by saying "bring it on", while a photoshopped image of Branson wearing AirAsia stewardess gear was posted on the Lotus team website.

"Knowing Richard, the real challenge will be to prevent him from asking our guests 'coffee, tea or me?'  That would be scary," said Fernandes. More ...

track news
Sick a fork in Milwaukee Mile - Giuffres pull out  UPDATE #2 The Milwaukee Mile, the oldest continually operating motor speedway in the country, won't be hosting a national race in 2010.

That was the word late Wednesday from Wisconsin State Fair Park officials, who said there would be no NASCAR or Indy Racing League racing next year at the famed Mile.

"I'm sorry for this," was the message Susan Crane, chairwoman of the State Fair Park Board, said she wanted to tell race fans. "We tried to do everything we could to secure racing. But we're not giving up."

The announcement is a blow to motorsports fans in the region and a blow to community pride. Both Crane and Craig Barkelar, the fair's interim executive director, said they hoped to bring national racing back to the Mile in 2011. More ...

ESPN announces broadcast line-up  
Marty Reid
Marty Reid, whose 28-year career with ESPN has touched all forms of motorsports the network has covered, will expand his role and join analysts Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree in the booth as lap-by-lap announcer for ESPN’s full season of NASCAR coverage in 2010. Reid will call the action for all 17 of ESPN’s NASCAR Sprint Cup races as well as many of the network’s NASCAR Nationwide Series telecasts. He was lap-by-lap announcer for ESPN’s IndyCar Series coverage and selected NASCAR Nationwide Series races in 2009.

Returning to a role he helped define for ESPN for more than 20 years, Dr. Jerry Punch will join ESPN’s team of pit reporters for 2010, working both Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races. Punch was lap-by-lap announcer for ESPN’s Sprint Cup coverage the past three years. More ...

Featherlite renews GrandAm sponsorship  Following one of the most competitive seasons in its 10-year history, GRAND-AM Road Racing continues to combine growth stability in announcing today a five-year extension with longtime partner Featherlite Trailers. The renewal maintains a relationship that began during GRAND-AM's inaugural season of competition in 2000.

As the Official Trailer of GRAND-AM - which sanctions both the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 and the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge - through the 2014 season, Featherlite will continue to showcase its trailers during GRAND-AM race weekends.

GRAND-AM currently utilizes Featherlite products for at-track merchandise sales as well as a unique mobile business center known as the Toshiba Motorsports Business Center presented by SunTrust, which allows teams and sponsors the opportunity to conduct business meetings in two conference rooms and execute functions such as coping, faxing, scanning and utilizing the internet. Additionally, a designated area outside the trailer is set up each race weekend, catering to fans through Q&A sessions with drivers and team members. More ...

Miller Motorsports Park announces schedule  Entering its fifth season of operation, Miller Motorsports Park has crafted an ambitious schedule of events that includes one new major race and some date changes for others, some exciting new mid-level events plus its regular lineup of local racing that includes a new class of competition.

The first major event of the 2010 season will take place over Memorial Day weekend, May 28-31, with the third annual appearance of the HANNspree Superbike World Championship. Support series will include the Supersport World Championship and the second annual Larry H. Miller Superbike Challenge. More ...
Canadian GP tickets go on sale  Octane Racing Group is pleased to announce that as of today, Wednesday December 16, tickets for the 2010 FORMULA 1 CANADIAN GRAND PRIX are now on sale. As previously announced, those who wish to attend the FIA Formula One World Championship round which will take place June 11-13, 2010 at Parc Jean Drapeau's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, will be able to order tickets on a first come, first serve basis. Fans should contact the ticket office without delay as the best seats in house are in high demand.

"Since it was announced that Formula One is returning to Montreal in 2010, we have been able to measure the level of enthusiasm raised by F1 with the number of people who have registered on-line to book tickets during the past two weeks, as well as the number of orders received by fax at our Montreal offices," explained François Dumontier, President of Octane Racing Group. "However, as previously stated, we are going to honor the promise made to our 2008 ticket holders who will receive priority treatment. We also want to thank all the new fans who have shown a desire to enjoy the FORMULA 1 CANADIAN GRAND PRIX experience this coming June." More ...

Massa experiences neck pain in test  Felipe Massa complained of a sore neck on Wednesday after completing two days of tests in a 2007 Ferrari Formula One car.

The Brazilian has been out since suffering life-threatening head injuries in an accident at July's Hungarian Grand Prix.

"I had a bit of neck pain, above all in the quick corners. But the rest went fine and there was no difference compared to before the accident," Massa told reporters at the Mugello circuit before jetting back to Brazil for Christmas.Yahoo!XtraSport

Teams will vote to elect FIA judges  From the 2010 season, Formula 1 teams will be able to nominate judges for any FIA Court of Appeal (ICA) hearing. Based in Paris, the court deals with any appeal cases following FIA sanctions, such as with Renault when its ban from the European Grand Prix was overturned this season. As F1 governing body, the Paris-based FIA has the power to impose penalties on teams or certain individuals following actions both on and off the race track; from next year, however, teams will be able to make use of a new system allowing them to suggest judges for appeal hearings.

The move comes following a meeting of the ICA, which is made up of judges from 18 countries, in Monaco last Friday.
With both the FIA and all teams agreeing with the new procedure, judges will now be 'co-opted' by the teams for any given appeal hearing, with the post-Brazil 2007 fuel irregularities case of BMW and Williams being another example. For all hearings, elected ICA judges will form the majority of any panel, the FIA has confirmed.

The FIA's Wednesday statement explains: 'All elected ICA judges are bound by formal undertakings to remain absolutely independent and impartial (from teams, from National Sporting Authorities, from the FIA itself, and from any other party). The new 'co-opted' judges will adhere to identical standards of independence and impartiality.' gpupdate.net

Mercedes to announce drivers on New Year's  Dieter Zetsche, head of Daimler - the parent company of Mercedes - has said that the team formerly known as Brawn GP will wait until the New Year before announcing its second driver. Nico Rosberg has already been signed, with 7-time World Champion Michael Schumacher currently rumored to be taking the second spot. With Mercedes having bought Brawn and Rosberg confirmed as moving from Williams, speculation has intensified as to who will be selected as his team-mate; with Schumacher's name constantly appearing in media reports, compatriot Nick Heidfeld has also been mentioned although some say the latter has now been retained by Sauber.

"We have, in Nico Rosberg, already signed an excellent driver and will know in the New Year who the second one will be," Zetsche revealed in Abu Dhabi at a public relations event.

Mercedes team CEO Nick Fry has already suggested that Schumacher would be a highly attractive proposition for the Brackley team although no clear-cut evidence has yet been presented to confirm the German's interest. gpupdate.net

Departed Toyota paid F1 bills on time  (GMM)  A study into the financial habits of formula one teams has shown that suppliers of Cologne based Toyota were most likely to receive owed payments on time.

The Japanese carmaker has now pulled out of the sport, but a study into the creditworthiness of teams that competed in 2009 found that Toyota paid its bills on average five days before they were due.

On the other end of the scale, the independent study conducted by business intelligence group Dun and Bradstreet showed that Force India pays its bills about 66 days late.

The Silverstone based team's final result was, however, a nine day improvement on the start of the season, according to the study's results which were revealed by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

Even McLaren was found to pay bills on average 26 days late, while suppliers of the title winning Brawn (now Mercedes) team had to wait usually two weeks to be paid.

F1 rule changes overview  Formula 1 governing body the FIA has confirmed that eight cars will now be eliminated in the Q1 and Q2 phases of qualifying from the 2010 season onwards. The modification comes due to the increased size of the field and is joined by a raft of other minor changes. Qualifying: With the field being bolstered in size from 20 to 26 cars for next year, the FIA has revealed that eight cars (as opposed to six) will now be eliminated in the first two phases of the qualifying hour; as such, Q1 will now determine grid slots 19 to 26 with positions 11 to 18 being occupied by taking results from Q2. Q3 will remain a top ten shootout, with cars no longer carrying fuel into the start of the race - all competitors' cars will be refueled after qualifying.

Garage space: The FIA has said that all teams will now enjoy the same amount of garage space at each circuit; previously, the reigning Constructors' Champions generally enjoyed the most space but all garages will now be of equal size.

Engines: The regulation of eight power plants per season remains although no driver can now use two additions units on one race weekend - in the event of such an occurrence, the driver involved will receive 10-place grid penalties for both the Grand Prix in question and the following event.

In-season aerodynamic testing: Now reduced from eight to six days, with a new option introduced which allows teams to swap any of those six days for four hours of full-scale wind tunnel testing within a period of 24 hours. gpupdate.net

Fernandes vs. Branson: "Bring it on"  "Bring it on, the sexier the better." That was the response from Tony Fernandes to Sir Richard Branson's challenge over the loser in the Formula 1 stakes having to dress up as an airline stewardess on the winner's airline - AirAsia or Virgin Atlantic.

The Lotus F1 Racing team, of which Fernandes is Team Principal, has even taken the liberty to pick out a lovely crew uniform for Branson. (see attached image).

"It's quite fitting, don't you think? Our passengers will be delighted to be served by a Knight of the Realm. But knowing Richard, the real challenge will be to prevent him from asking our guests "coffee, tea or me? That would be scary," said Fernandes, who is a founder and Group CEO of AirAsia, which is Asia's largest low-cost carrier.

Summary of 2010 F1 qualifying changes  Formula 1 governing body the FIA has confirmed that eight cars will now be eliminated in the Q1 and Q2 phases of qualifying from the 2010 season onwards. The modification comes due to the increased size of the field and is joined by a raft of other minor changes. More ...
Official: Renault sells team stake, stays in F1 (in name only)  (GMM)  Renault announced on Wednesday it is selling a "large stake" of its Enstone based formula one team.

As was expected, the buyer is Luxemburg-based Genii Capital, headed by Gerard Lopez, which will "operate the team together" with the French carmaker, it was confirmed in a press statement.

A letter of intent has been signed and the deal "should be concluded in early 2010", Renault added.

It was also confirmed that the team will keep its name in 2010, while Red Bull will continue to be powered by the Renault engines that are built at Viry-Chatillon.

F1 substitutes to get in-season test in 2010  (GMM)  Rookie drivers called up to make a mid-season grand prix debut in 2010 will be allowed to test beforehand, the FIA has confirmed.

This year, the strict in-season testing ban was heavily criticized, because it meant Jaime Alguersuari was not able to drive an F1 car prior to replacing Toro Rosso's ousted Sebastien Bourdais.

It emerged this week that, as in 2009, track testing will again be banned during the 2010 season.

But the FIA has confirmed that if a newcomer, or a driver like Michael Schumacher who has been out of the sport for more than two years, wants to make a mid-season debut, he will be permitted "one day of track testing". More ...

Red Bull confirms staying with Renault power  (GMM)  As was confirmed earlier by Renault, Red Bull will continue to use the French carmaker's formula one engines in 2010.

In the wake of Renault's decision to stay in F1 but sell a large stake of its team, Red Bull Racing confirmed officially that it will not be changing engine suppliers ahead of next season.

"We are extremely happy with the way they work with us and are looking forward to continuing our fruitful partnership with Renault in 2010," said team boss Christian Horner.

Lloyds takes Manor GP stake  Lloyds TSB Development Capital (LDC), part of Britain’s Lloyds Banking Group, has bought a stake in new British Formula One team Manor GP.

UK newspaper The Financial Times reported that the stake was worth around £10 million. LDC is the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group.

Reuters reports that the LDC said the investment was consistent with its principles of “seeking out unusually attractive market segments, and then backing British business, proven management teams and of continuing to invest throughout the business cycle”.

“Together with a unique commercial and sponsorship strategy that is expected to produce strong revenues, this talented team is well-placed to capitalize on the huge commercial opportunities presented by F1,” said LDC. More ...

Month of May shortened  UPDATE Doing what CART told then they should do 20 years ago, shortening the month of May at Indy is part of the Speedway's overall plan to revive the sport of open-wheel racing in Central Indiana. Over the past year, officials have reduced IMS staffing by about 15 percent, including closing and razing the Brickyard Crossing Inn. More adjustments are coming.

The revamped Indy 500 schedule figures to benefit out-of-town teams the most, saving them at least $10,000 in hotel accommodations alone. But smaller savings will be uncovered as bills are paid.

"We won't be dry-cleaning as many uniforms," said Scott Roembke, general manager of Hilliard, Ohio-based Rahal Letterman Racing. "Maybe that's (a cost of) $3,000 before and $2,000 next year, but it adds up."

Belskus said two large noncore divisions of the company -- likely food-and-beverage and the golf course -- are targeted for outsourcing in 2010. Company aircraft are for sale, too.

Many of the cost-cutting initiatives are the result of a sluggish economy, which includes Allstate not renewing its title sponsorship of NASCAR's Brickyard 400 and a double-digit percentage decline in attendance at Indy's 2009 stock car and motorcycle events. Many NASCAR events had similar declines. More ...

Fry admits Schu talks taking place  (GMM)  Nick Fry has admitted that talks with Michael Schumacher are taking place.

Asked about German reports claiming a deal to bring the seven time world champion out of retirement in 2010 has been done, the Mercedes GP chief executive said: "I can't tell you at this stage, unfortunately."

But the Briton did say that Schumacher would be "very good for our team" and that a number of other drivers "are still available if Michael were to decide not to drive", according to an Associated Press report.

"Then there are alternatives that we would be happy to go with," Fry added, describing the theoretical line-up of Schumacher alongside Nico Rosberg as "formidable".

German reports said Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche on Tuesday warned that the identity of Rosberg's teammate is not expected to be clear until next month.

Virgin is F1's only fully British team - Branson  (GMM)  Sir Richard Branson on Tuesday said he is proud to be involved with the last fully British team in formula one.

The London born billionaire, who began his new F1 foray with an opportunistic sponsorship of the Brawn team in 2009, has rebranded the new Manor outfit Virgin Racing ahead of its debut next March.

Comparing Virgin with other British teams including stalwarts Williams and McLaren, Branson told the Guardian that his Yorkshire based outfit is the "last 100 per cent-owned British team". More ...

Massa to also test Ferrari on Wednesday  (GMM)  In what Ferrari has described as a "Christmas present", Felipe Massa on Tuesday did 30 laps of the Mugello circuit in a two-year-old formula one car.

In the midst of a testing ban, the Maranello based team explained that the F2007 single seater was run by the separate Corse Clienti department and fitted with "exposition tires".

"Everything went well," the Brazilian driver said.

Referring to the weather conditions in the morning, Massa added: "It's a pity that I could only drive in the afternoon.  Let's hope I can be back (on the track) tomorrow."

FOTA votes to retain in-season F1 testing ban  (GMM)  The F1 teams alliance FOTA last weekend reportedly decided to keep a full in-season testing ban in place for 2010.

Finland's Turun Sanomat reports that, despite rumors of a possible relaxation of the agreement for next season, normal circuit testing will continue to be effectively disallowed during the March-November race calendar.

The newspaper also said Ferrari's proposal to allow three-car entries per team was not even discussed at the meeting.

Around the 'net: F1 on Wednesday Dec. 16th  
(GMM)  Timo Glock sure Michael Schumacher is returning to F1:


Virgin's Branson proposes cheeky 'stewardess challenge' to Lotus boss Tony Fernandes:


Branson wanted a female F1 driver for Virgin Racing:


Silverstone arranging loan to fund circuit improvements:

Henkel dispute not disturbing Mercedes team plans  (GMM)  A motor sport spokesman for Mercedes has denied suggestions the sponsorship dispute with Henkel could affect the team's plans for 2010.

It emerged earlier this week that a three-year 90 million euro contract with the Dusseldorf-based backer will not go ahead because it was negotiated by an alleged fraudster.

The situation comes in the middle of negotiations with Michael Schumacher, with reports suggesting the German is poised to sign a multi-million euro deal.

"The immediate loss of the sponsor funds does not impair the objectives and the plans of the team," Mercedes spokesman Wolfgang Schattling is quoted as saying by the German-language Express.

He added that Mercedes is seeking an "agreement" to settle the Henkel dispute -- presumably a monetary settlement.

Rosberg says 'no' to being Schu's number 2  (GMM)  Nico Rosberg has acknowledged the "very strong" rumors linking Michael Schumacher with Mercedes, but insists he will not be the team's number 2 driver.

The 24-year-old German is currently waiting to know if the seven time world champion will make his F1 return in the garage alongside him, and has this week admitted in interviews that he hopes it is the case.

But to Bild newspaper, Rosberg said: "Me a number two?  No.  But I respect Schumi a lot.

"At Mercedes there is not hierarchy.  It has always been known that the two drivers are equal.

"Sure, if at the end of the year there is the possibility for only one driver to fight seriously for the title, the team concentrates on that driver.  But until then the Mercedes philosophy is 'We have two number ones'," Rosberg added.

VIDEO: Rosberg on Mercedes GP and Schumacher  
30 laps for Massa at Mugello  Felipe Massa had to wait until yesterday afternoon for his very special Christmas present. The Brazilian driver wanted to get back behind the wheel of a Formula 1 single-seater before the end of the year and took the opportunity of his visit to Maranello for the traditional Christmas events over the weekend to accomplish his desire.

The opportunity was supported by Ferrari’s Corse Clienti department, which provided Felipe with a F2007, the car, which won the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Titles two years ago, fitted with exposition tires for the occasion.

However, the weather conditions at the “Autodromo del Mugello” enabled the Brazilian driver to go onto the track in the afternoon only so Felipe managed to drive about 30 laps before he had to stop due to darkness falling...

“I’m happy that I could get into this car and it’s always a pleasure driving on a track like Mugello. Everything went well: it’s a pity that I could only drive in the afternoon. Let’s hope I can be back tomorrow!”

In fact Felipe will also be in Mugello on Wednesday before he goes back to Brazil, where little Felipinho and mother Raffaela are waiting for him.

NASCAR ponzi scheme  A Los Angeles man has pleaded not guilty to running a Ponzi scheme that cheated about 50 investors in a NASCAR merchandise wholesale business out of at least $10 million. Federal prosecutors say 63-year-old Eliott Dresher was arraigned Monday and ordered held pending trial in U.S. District Court. The U.S. attorney's office says Dresher claimed investors' money would be used to buy NASCAR apparel and sell it to stores. He claimed he had $70 million in various accounts and his business would return 20 percent every six months. Prosecutors say Dresher ran his scheme for about 10 years before it collapsed last year when he couldn't make payments to investors.(Associated Press)
Brian France ranks in Sports Biz Journal Top 50  NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian France is ranked 16th on Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal's list of the 50 most influential people in sports business. He was 9th on the list in 2008. The article states, "Jim France, Brian's uncle, might technically own NASCAR, but Brian still runs it. The son of Bill France Jr., Brian oversees the day-to-day operations and the unit chiefs report directly to him. Brian is still the best-positioned France to dictate the direction of the sport, whether through instituting cost containment measures for teams, tweaking the Chase for the Sprint Cup format or setting the overall agenda. And if he decides to wield his influence on an issue, his voice will be heard above all others." Jim France, Chairman of International Speedway Corporation, returns to the list this year at 45th. NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick, who wasn't ranked in 2008, is on the list in 36th. TV executives on the list include: #3 George Bodenheimer, President of ESPN/ABC Sports (who was first last year) and #8 David Hill, Chairman of Fox Sports. See the complete list at the Sports Business Journal
Penske expanding Nationwide team  Penske Racing entered the NASCAR Nationwide Series with full force in 2009. Next year, Penske will double its pleasure, fielding a second car for Brad Keselowski to go along with Justin Allgaier’s entry.

Penske had been only an occasional entrant in the series until this year. The team made its debut with a one-race deal with Rusty Wallace in 1997 and didn’t run again until competing in 15 races with Ryan Newman in 2001.

Five years later, Penske ran 15 races with three drivers and run part time in 2007 and 2008, too.

But sponsorship from Verizon Wireless helped Penske decide to bump up to a full team for 2009, though it was a scramble. Allgaier was originally supposed to run only a handful of races, so crew chief Chad Walter began scrambling to get the No. 12 Dodge team ready for the full season.

“I had a meeting with our team – it might’ve been the day before we left to go to Daytona in February – and I said, ‘Look, no matter what happens, you’ve got to be proud of what you’ve done from December to now,’ because we literally had nothing,” Walter said.

A backup car for Daytona was only completed the week before the race, so Walter encouraged his fledgling team to temper expectations. Some weeks, they’ll do really well. Other weeks, well, no one will get it.

Walter said the goal was to simply finish in the top 10 in points, and Allgaier did that, coming home sixth. Allgaier didn’t win a race, but he posted three top-five and 12 top-10 finishes and was crowned Raybestos Rookie of the Year.

“This year’s been a lot about building potential,” Walter said. “You have to have potential before you can cash in on it.”

Penske Racing President Tim Cindric said his group learned this year, its first as a full-time team.

“We learned a lot this year,” Cindric said. “Running a single-car team for us was probably the best approach because we got to understand a bit more what it’s going to take to run at a championship level next year. Running a two-car team is going to be much different than running a one-car team.”

Adding a second team isn’t as simple as doubling the number of cars and personnel, though.

“Once you go to a multicar team, you’ve got to have somebody to referee once in awhile,” Cindric said. “But more importantly, you’ve got to have someone who’s looking after all the other things besides how you go fast.”

Cindric said a team manager will be hired to supervise the Nationwide program. Plus, the Nationwide team moved into the area formerly housing Penske’s sports-car team on Dec. 6.

Crew chief Paul Wolfe was hired to lead Keselowski’s No. 22 team, and more personnel will be brought on in the coming weeks.

And though Keselowski’s team will be new, he figures to be a contender for the 2010 championship. That’s part of the reason why he decided to run both Sprint Cup and Nationwide next year.

“The goal there is to be that first guy to get [team owner] Roger Penske a NASCAR championship, whether that’s Nationwide or Cup,” Keselowski said. “I want to be that guy. That’d be cool.

“I think I’m in an awesome position for that. I think. Maybe six months form now, I’ll say, ‘I didn’t realize how hard this was going to be.’ But with the transition of the new car, it essentially scraps a good portion of fleets. So you’re starting from scratch there. The economic situation right now has a lot of good people looking.

“We already have a sponsor. So that means we have the money to do it, there’s people available. And there’s no equipment that you’re really behind on. I think it’s a good year to do it.”

Even Allgaier could be considered a title contender, despite his relative inexperience in the series.

“The kid can drive cars,” Walter said. “As an example, Kevin Harvick runs 600 laps more than Justin Allgaier and does 14 more pit stops [on a weekend]. Not to mention his 14 years of experience beforehand. That’s always an Achilles heel that we have to circumvent.

“Do I think we’re capable of doing it? Yeah, I do. I think he’s got everything it takes from a talent standpoint, and he’s learned how to race.

“With feedback from a bonafide teammate and twice as much data for me to sort through and twice as much resources, I think he’s legitimate.”

Running for a championship is only part of the reason why Penske Racing is in the Nationwide Series. It wants to be able to develop crew chiefs, engineers and crew members for its Cup program.

“There are certain guys, they’re ceiling is there,” Cindric said. “Those guys are typically very good parts of the team and they’re very important to the team. But they know and we know that’s their level.”

There are others, though, who are talented enough to move to Cup at some point in the careers. Still, Cindric said the Nationwide program needs to be balanced.

“If you keep moving everybody up, then you really don’t have any continuity,” Cindric said. “You want those who know, ‘Hey, I’m going to work in the Nationwide program for the next two to five years.’ Then there are other ones you want who have the potential to prove themselves there and can start to fill holes [on the Cup level].”

Walter is one such employee who Penske officials will eventually move to Cup.

“We want to see him as a Cup engineer in our organization someday,” Cindric said.

Having opportunities to advance makes Penske a more attractive team, Cindric said.

Still, Walter said his crew members aren’t looking ahead. Winning races and performing well in the Nationwide Series is what’s on their minds.

“The guys that are at Penske Racing that are involved in the Nationwide program, this is what we do,” Walter said. “I pour my heart and soul into this, no less than somebody does over on the Cup side. This is my life, this is Justin’s career – however you want to look at it. I take this very seriously, and it’s run very similarly.” scenedaily.com
QA with Lucas diGrassi  São Paulo's Lucas di Grassi will make his Formula 1 debut in March as Virgin Racing takes to the grid for the first time. Reunited with 2007 GP2 rival Timo Glock, the Brazilian's partnership with Virgin is a cocktail of old and new - he explains why. Favorite racing moment ever?

Winning Macau with Manor Motorsport. It's great to be back with the old team

Career highlight?

Definitely the fight for the GP2 championship in '07. Me and Timo, neck and neck. He won though. I'm excited to be racing with him again in F1

Which of the other F1 drivers are you mates with?

Quite a few, but I spend a lot of time with Felipe Massa, Rubens Barrichello and Tonio Liuzzi

Top 3 circuits for 2010?

Monaco is every driver's dream race; it's amazing. Turkey is pretty challenging - the triple apex turn 8 is the highlight. Spa is one of the greats - long straights, high speed corners, low speed technical sections and loads of history

It's 12,000 kilometers (7,500 miles) to Bahrain from Brazil. What's your long-haul flight strategy?

Drink plenty of water, stay in the right time zone for Bahrain and find a cute girl to talk to

What's your idea of the perfect road trip?

I'd like to do a lap around Brazil from the Amazon to the south

Listening to….?

Rock to Brazilian pop music and lots of different stuff in between

The best thing about your training program is…?

The results. If I know I'm staying fit I have no problem being motivated

Days of Thunder or Talledega Nights?

Talledega Nights is more fun, for sure

Who would you take into space on the Virgin Galactic space ship?

My father. He deserves it; he's done a lot for me and for Brazil. If I can have two more places I'd like to take my brothers as well please

Favorite movie?

Lord of War is pretty cool

Which famous person were you most excited to meet?

I guess Pele, as he's a legend back home in Brazil

It's March 14 2010 and you're about to line up on the grid for the start of your first ever Formula 1 race. What are you thinking?

1) Wow! 2) Need a good start and a good finish. 3) Don't stop for fuel!

F2 announces rule changes  The FIA have announced a few subtle changes to the 2010 Formula Two Championship with next year’s calendar being expanded from eight to nine events, with two races to be held at each event to give a total of 18 races for the championship while race duration will be increased to 40 minutes for both races at each 2010 F2 event.

Engine power will also be increased from 400bhp to 425bhp, with a greater gain on overboost, from 450bhp to 480bhp. The number of cars admitted to the championship has also increased from 26 to 30 and there will be no more mandatory pitstops.

Various changes made to the F1 Sporting Regulations have also been incorporated into the F2 regulations, including...

- Time penalties
- The number of times a driver can cross the line before serving a penalty during the race
- Detail changes to the Safety Car Procedures
- Changes to the race suspension procedures to clearly specify where cars should stop on the grid.
(press release)

racing news
Video: Volkswagen "Racing Under Green" Trailer  In motorsports, there’s more to the action than what’s seen on the track by fans. Beginning the week of January 18, all of the behind-the-scenes drama of the country’s only professional clean diesel racing series will hit national television with a documentary on the season, titled Racing Under Green.

The 60-minute documentary takes an inside look at all of the elements that make the series unique. During the season, a broadcast crew followed the series 25 drivers and key leadership on track and off to capture the personalities behind the wheel of the equally-prepared Jetta TDI Cup racecars. The documentary was shot in high definition and also explores the environmentally-friendly aspects of the series, from biodiesel blends used to power the cars on the racetrack to the series support of CarbonFund.org. The documentary will air at various times on Discovery Communications Discovery Channel, Science Channel, Planet Green, and HD Theater from January 18-31. Check local cable listings for channel information and broadcast times.

Were really pleased with the broadcast products that have been produced on the 2009 series, and I think that its going to make for some great TV, said Clark Campbell, motorsport manager, Volkswagen of America, Inc. The film crew followed some of our drivers to their hometowns, so viewers will get to see many of the drivers stories away from the race track. There are also many behind-the-scenes elements of our series that even people who are at the racetrack don’t see, and these broadcasts will really let people take a look inside the Jetta TDI Cup. More ...

Ocean Racing Technology announces GP2 drivers  
Fabio Leimer
Fabio Leimer and Max Chilton will form the driver duo for the Ocean Racing Technology team in the 2010 GP2 Series. In only their second year of participation in the Formula 1 feeder category, the team belonging to Tiago Monteiro and Jose Guedes is aiming to reinforce its competitiveness and speed which was proven in the 2009 Main Series. Fabio Leimer was at the wheel for Ocean Racing Technology for the opening round of the GP2 Asia Series, in Abu Dhabi last month, where he secured the 3rd best time in qualifying. In the race his pace was constant and he showed excellent communication skills with the team. The 20 year old Swiss racer won the Formula Master championship in 2009 dominating the series with 7 race victories and 6 pole positions. He has proved in his testing at Jerez, Paul Ricard and Abu Dhabi and in qualification and race performance in the GP2 Asia race in Abu Dhabi that he is ready to move into the main GP2 series.

"I am just delighted. Since my aim is to race in the GP2 Series, I am determined to do so with one of the best teams. Ocean Racing Technology actually has excellent engineers with a very professional structure and in my opinion it is important to run with such a team. Despite the fact it will be my first season in the series, I think I can find a good pace. I need to be consistent, to do good races, to aim for the podium and why not a win," Leimer said.

Max Chilton
At just 18 years of age, Max Chilton is a British racer who already has remarkable experience forged through his participation in several championships. He finished the 2009 season in an excellent 4th place in the British Formula 3 Championship and secured two victories and four pole positions. After three seasons in Formula 3, Max proved that he was ready to begin a new challenge, which will now be in a single-seater in the GP2 series. "I am happy to join forces with Ocean Racing Technology, this is fantastic! It is a great team and its approach is smart. The structure is really professional and the engineering crew gives all the guarantees the team needs. As for me, it is a big step coming from F3 but I'm motivated. I hope to quickly secure some good results and I know Ocean Racing Technology is the team with which I can do so."

The two directors of Ocean Racing Technology, Tiago Monteiro and Jose Guedes, rely on their choices for the team's second year of existence. Tiago has closely followed the careers of both Fabio Leimer and Max Chilton, and has fully measured their talent and believes that signing two rookies could be an advantage. "Rookies are always motivated because they want to progress and they always give their best with no motivation breakdown. It is not always true with experienced drivers. Fabio and Max have an excellent attitude on track, with their technical approach, but they also communicate really well with the team. They know our goals are ambitious but they have the qualities to make them happen. I am confident of getting good results quickly," said Tiago Monteiro.

Jose Guedes points out that despite their youth, the two new drivers for Ocean Racing Technology have already showed that they have the potential to fight out in front. "Fabio and Max are young but they are mature enough to succeed in the GP2 Series. The championship will be especially competitive this year and I think some rookies, especially ours, might surprise in a positive way. It is an important choice for the second year of Ocean Racing Technology in the GP2 Series. Our responsibilities are higher but I think our drivers are up to the job and can take the challenge," guaranteed José Guedes.

Fabio Leimer and Max Chilton succeed Karun Chandhok and Alvaro Parente. In 2009, Ocean Racing Technology finished the championship in 9th place in the team's classification, just two points shy of 5th place. (press release)
Bridgestone and Virgin are Racing Partners  Sir Richard Branson launched the new Virgin Racing Team today and confirmed Virgin’s delight at partnering with Bridgestone, the leading global tire and rubber products manufacturer. Bridgestone is the FIA’s (motorsport’s worldwide governing body) Official Tire Supplier and a company with a long and proud history in international motorsport.

Bridgestone has been at the fore-front of innovation and development in motor sport since making its racing debut at the first Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka in 1963. Motor sport is now a crucial arena for expressing Bridgestone’s corporate identity on a global level. The tires supplied by Bridgestone for that first race were ordinary motor car tires but within three years Bridgestone had developed a racing tire and began its bold climb towards the summit of motor sport. More ...

Virgin car to have black/red livery in 2010  (GMM)  Virgin Racing team principal Alex Tai on Tuesday said the new team would field a black and red livery in 2010.

Launched earlier in London, the team has also confirmed that ten sponsors are already signed up, including Carbon Green, shampoo company Clear, FxPro, clothes brand Kappa and Russian supercar maker Marussia.

"We're the new red car on the block," Tai is quoted as saying in a Reuters news report.

Ever the shrewd operator, Virgin's billionaire figurehead Sir Richard Branson said the team would operate on a small budget of under 40m pounds, with the aim of producing a profit.

"We haven't put a lot of money in, we've put our brand in," he told reporters at the launch event in Notting Hill.

"On the back of the brand, the team are managing to get a lot of sponsors.  Our involvement is the naming of the team and some money," Branson added.

Wirth breaks new ground with Virgin F1 design  UK-based Wirth Research has designed Formula 1’s first ever car without a wind tunnel. The car will be raced under the Virgin Racing banner in 2010 and has been generated by state-of-the-art Computational Fluid Dynamics technology at Wirth Research’s facilities in Bicester, Oxfordshire.

The car, on course to run for the first time in February, has already passed most of Formula 1’s mandatory crash tests.

All other major components are also on schedule at Wirth Research, whose workforce has doubled in size to 110 engineers since the new 2010 Formula 1 entries were announced in June. More ...

Virgin signs racer di Grassi, Parente as reserve  (GMM)  Virgin Racing was launched in London on Tuesday.

The takeover of the new Manor team by Sir Richard Branson's famous brand had been one of the worst kept secrets in F1, but also strongly rumored was the signing of Lucas di Grassi to be Timo Glock's teammate.

British billionaire Branson was present at the Notting Hill event, as he and his colleagues wore black leather jackets bearing the team's new 'VR' logo.

Portuguese pay-driver Alvaro Parente, previously linked with Campos, was announced as the reserve driver, and 20-year-old Brazilian GP2 driver Luiz Razia is a tester.

Virgin Racing said it will operate with a mere 40m pounds sterling budget, with Virgin Galactic's Alex Tai as team principal and Manor's John Booth the sporting director.

The car, to be called VR-01 and tested for the first time in February, has been penned by Simtek, Benetton, Indycar and Le Mans designer Nick Wirth, without the aid of a wind tunnel.

It has already passed most of the mandatory FIA crash tests, Virgin revealed.

Finnish broadcaster denies Kovalainen link  
Heikki Kovalainen
(GMM)  The sports boss for the Finnish F1 broadcaster MTV3 has denied rumors it might not have shown grands prix to Finnish viewers had Heikki Kovalainen not signed a contract to race in 2010.

With Kimi Raikkonen moving to rallying, it was rumored that if compatriot Kovalainen had also been missing from next year's grid, MTV3 might have scaled back or ended its agreement with formula one.

"Finnish participation and success is of course important, but it's not critical," said MTV3's head of sports Tatu Lehmuskallio.

"Kovalainen's three-year contract is a good thing, but our agreement (with F1) and his contract are not at all connected," he added.

Valencia mayor admits city to host F1 launch  (GMM)  The mayoress of Valencia has all but confirmed reports the Spanish port city will host a common car launch for F1 teams at the end of January.

Earlier reports said the event would be held at the ultra-modern Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias (City of the Arts and Sciences) complex on January 30 and attended by all teams.

F1 officials recently confirmed the agreement but not the date and location, but Valencia mayoress Rita Barbera told the EFE news agency that the recent news about the event was essentially correct.

She said Valencia was chosen "as a direct consequence" of her attendance at the recent Ferrari World Finals event at the Cheste circuit, also attended by the FOTA chairman Luca di Montezemolo.

Mosley regrets not keeping carmakers in F1  
Max Mosley
(GMM)  Max Mosley thinks personal meetings with the bosses of the carmakers BMW and Toyota could have kept them in formula one.

The former FIA president has written a series of retrospectives in the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph, and in the latest he admits that not sitting down with CEOs Norbert Reithofer (BMW) and Akio Toyoda was a "mistake".

"There was perhaps one major error on my part," he wrote, recalling the period of turmoil last year when he was pushing for budget caps to be introduced amid fierce opposition from team principals.

Mosley admits he "should have taken the trouble to visit each of the car company CEOs individually and explain exactly what we were doing and why". More ...

Button plays down fears of Hamilton rivalry  
Jenson Button
(GMM)  Jenson Button insists he has time to forge a good relationship with Lewis Hamilton prior to the start of the 2010 season.

F1's most recent world champions, both English, will be paired at McLaren next season, and the domestic press is already hinting at a likely tense battle for team supremacy.

"I haven't really spoken to Lewis," 2009 title winner Button conceded to the Daily Express newspaper.  "We had a little chat at an awards ceremony about a week ago, but there is a lot of time, don't worry. More ...

Baja 1000
SCORE Baja 1000 to air on NBC Saturday  This year’s 42nd running of the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race, the granddaddy of all desert races, will air on the NBC television network as part of the World of Adventure Sports series this Saturday (December 19th) at 2:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m. PT.

With amazing footage spanning from an unprecedented motorcycle rivalry, terrifying crashes, innovative POV and aerial shots and an attempt to continue a Baja legacy, the broadcast is sure to electrify even the most uncompromising multitudes of SCORE Baja racing fans.

Being televised for the sixth straight year on NBC, the broadcast will also be distributed on ESPN International, Universal HD and long form video will be available on hulu.com. More ...

Montezemolo: "2009 was a very bad year for Ferrari"  
Luca di Montezemolo
Today was the day for the traditional Christmas lunch for all Scuderia Ferrari personnel, which again this year was held in the Logistica building, next to the Fiorano track. It was also an opportunity for the Ferrari President, Luca di Montezemolo to look back over the past season.

“This has been a very bad year, not up to Ferrari’s usual standard,” were his opening words. “There were several reasons, but we have a history and a culture of not looking for excuses. None of us is happy with the ways things went: we were hardly ever competitive enough to fight for the win and that is not our style. However, every one of us has the will and the ability to react and get back, not just to being very competitive, but also to winning. The symbol of our desire to fight back is really Felipe, who knew how to deal with a very difficult and dramatic situation and all of us can take that as our example next year. It has also been a bad year outside the sport, because we do not just live in our own little world. We had to make decisions, some of them painful, but we have continued to invest in the future of the company because we firmly believe that this time of crisis can be turned into an opportunity for growth. We have to look to the future with confidence, but without ever forgetting our roots, such as Enzo Ferrari himself, because we must always remember where we came from. I am happy to be here with you, because this is an important opportunity to talk to all of you and not just those who are under the spotlight, because what gives Ferrari its strength are the people and the pride they take in being part of this company, the pleasure they get from working here and the way they get upset when we don’t win!” More ...

tv news
Final week of fan voting for SPEED awards  This is the FINAL week for fan voting on the 4th Annual SPEED Performance Awards. Video nominees are available for viewing and voting at www.speedperformanceawards.com, with all nine categories open through Dec. 20.

Voting schedule:

§        Oops, Biggest Hit and Best Move opened Nov. 23

§        Best Finish, Temper-Temper and Biggest Upset opened Nov. 30

§        Best Rivalry, Biggest Comeback and Rookie of the Year opened Dec. 7

Winners will be revealed as part of a one-hour television special in February.

Bobby Caldwell Files First F2000 2010 Entry  Bobby Caldwell became the first official 2010 F2000 Championship Series driver last week as he was at the front of the line when series registration opened.  Caldwell returns to the #80 Van Diemen under the Caldwell Racing banner for a third F2000 season with engineering support provided by Liberty Motorsports and support from sponsors Freitag Weinhardt, Industrial Outsourcing Services and Ryan Fire Protection.

“The bang for the buck with the F2000 Series just doesn't get any better,” commented Caldwell. “The big news is that being with Liberty (Motorsports) means I'll have a full time mechanic and the same crew around me all season. It'll be the same engineering guy and data guy and I can build a relationship with them. More ...
IMS: Buy 4 tix, get pieces of Indy Bricks  INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Dec. 14, 2009 - To mark the 100th anniversary of the
completion of its famous brick racing surface, the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway is offering a unique keepsake to commemorate this significant day
in the track's history.

On Thursday, Dec. 17, exactly 100 years to the day that the final brick
was laid, any fan who purchases four reserved Race Day tickets to any IMS
event in 2010 will receive a commemorative plaque containing a replica of
the contract used to purchase the bricks and a casing of original brick
pieces from the racing surface. The offer is valid on new purchases only
for new or existing IMS ticket customers. All plaques will be shipped at a
later date.

Tickets for the Indianapolis 500 (May 30), Brickyard 400 (July 25) and Red
Bull Indianapolis GP (Aug. 29) can be purchased three ways: Online at
www.imstix.com at any time; on the phone by calling (800) 822-INDY outside
the Indianapolis area or (317) 492-6700 locally between 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Monday through Friday; or visiting the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Ticket
Office on the first floor of the IMS Administration Building at 4790 W.
16th St. in Indianapolis from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

To celebrate the historic anniversary, the original brick contract and
several original bricks will be on display Dec. 17 in the lobby of the IMS
Administration Building.

When IMS opened in the summer of 1909, the first races took place on a
track surface composed of crushed stone and tar. To provide a smoother
racing surface for the competitors, IMS purchased more than 3 million
paving bricks and began laying them in fall 1909. On Dec. 17, 1909,
Indiana Gov. Thomas Marshall laid the ceremonial final "golden" brick in


IMS tickets: Established in 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has long
prevailed as an icon of motorsports excellence. Beginning in 2009, the
Speedway celebrates its Centennial Era, commemorating the 100th
anniversary of the facility in 2009 and the 100th anniversary of the
Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in 2011.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com at
any time. Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are on sale. Contact the
IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information.

Ferrari won't stand in Schumacher's way  Ferrari will not stand in Michael Schumacher's way if the seven-times Formula One world champion decides to come out of retirement and race for Mercedes, president Luca di Montezemolo told Reuters on Monday.  The 40-year-old has worked as a consultant for the Italian team since retiring at the end of 2006 but reports say he is close to signing with fellow Germans Mercedes, who have taken over world champions Brawn.

Schumacher announced in September he would work as a consultant for Ferrari for another three years. Asked if Ferrari would enforce the deal, Montezemolo said: "No, not binding."

"It's clear that if he decides to take another road our (consultancy) agreement will no longer be valid, that is logical. You can't work with a competitor and with us at the same time," Montezemolo told Reuters in an interview.

"I still haven't spoken to him about it. He is only a dear friend, not a team member. He is a consultant for our road cars."

Penske names Addington as Crew Chief  Penske Racing welcomes one of the most respected and successful crew chiefs in NASCAR to its ranks with today’s announcement that Steve Addington will head up the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team beginning in 2010.

The 45-year-old Addington, who was crew chief for 12 NASCAR Cup Series victories over the last two seasons, will team up with driver Kurt Busch and the Miller Lite squad that is coming off a strong fourth-place finish in the 2009 series championship standings.

“Steve Addington has a proven track record of success in NASCAR and we are excited to welcome him to Penske Racing,” said Roger Penske. “By adding Steve to the winning Miller Lite team and working closely with Kurt, we believe we have the combination in place to compete for a championship as we head into the 2010 season.” More ...

Mercedes sponsor deal ends in dispute  (GMM)  A potentially lucrative sponsorship deal for Mercedes' newly acquired and rebranded formula one team looks set to end in dispute.

The German financial newspaper Handelsblatt reports that, earlier this year, the Brackley based team's Brawn GP management agreed a three-year 90 million euro contract with Henkel.

Dusseldorf-based Henkel is an adhesives and liquids company that has previously sponsored McLaren.

The firm's now departed sponsorship chief agreed and signed the deal with Brawn prior to the Mercedes takeover, but CEO Kasper Rorsted is refusing to honor the contract because he nor the executive board approved it.

The staff member in question is the subject of an embezzlement and fraud investigation, after he faked bills and sold them for 45m euros to debt recovery firms.

11m euros of the allegedly embezzled money is missing, the newspaper added.  The Reuters news agency said Henkel filed a suit against the team last month.

Kansas Speedway tickets go on sale  Kansas Speedway tickets for the 2010 season will go on sale Dec. 15, 2009. Kansas Speedway will continue to offer fans a season ticket option, which will include four races (NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR Nationwide Series, IZOD IndyCar Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series) over two weekends and access to the new Track Pass, which will allow season ticket holders access to the infield to take part in driver introductions and Sprint FanWalk prior to each Sunday race. New in 2010, Kansas Speedway is offering fans the opportunity to purchase a weekend-only ticket for Oct. 2  3, 2010, that includes the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kansas 400 and the NASCAR Nationwide Series Kansas Lottery 300. Also new in 2010, fans will be able to purchase tickets to the IZOD IndyCar Series Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 (May 1, 2010) and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 (May 2, 2010) races separately. To purchase Kansas Speedway tickets, call 866.460.RACE or log onto www.kansasspeedway.com. Kansas Speedway continues to offer free parking and allows fans to bring in a 6x6x12-inch soft-sided cooler with their favorite food and drink.(Kansas Speedway PR)
Pagenaud jumps ship from de Ferran to Highcroft  After going head-to-head against Patr¢n Highcroft Racing the last two years, young French sports car star Simon Pagenaud will join the championship-winning squad alongside David Brabham for the 2010 American Le Mans Series.

Pagenaud has been a key rival of the Danbury, Conn.-based team with de Ferran Motorsports during the past two seasons but will now join forces with Brabham to form a potent attack at the Honda Performance Development factory squad armed with the newly revised ARX-01c chassis. More ...
More fraudsters in F1 circles  The commercial dealings of the Mercedes Grand Prix team have seemingly begun in negative fashion as the Brackley team is currently involved in an argument over 90 million Euros' (£81.3m) worth of sponsorship with German company Henkel. The situation dates back to July when the Mercedes team, then Brawn GP, agreed to a 3-year sponsorship deal with the company which operates in three business areas - home care (such as dishwashing liquids), personal care (products such as shampoos and toothpastes) and adhesives, sealants and treatments for surfaces.
With the contract in place, Mercedes Grand Prix is believed to have contacted Henkel following the team's takeover of Brawn, only to learn that the Düsseldorf company denied any such connection with the team.

According to German publication Handelsblatt, Henkel argues that its former head of corporate affairs possessed no right to sign such a contract, thus meaning the company is not legally bound to the Mercedes deal. The Grand Prix team, on the other hand, is believed to be arguing that the unnamed individual did hold rights to confirm the deal, meaning the contract stands.

The departed Henkel worker in question is now facing prosecution for fraud. "The Formula 1 deal is invalid because it is signed by someone who was not entitled to do so," reads a statement from Henkel, the producer of Persil washing powder. "There are therefore no (valid) claims against Henkel." gpupdate.net

U.S. House Votes to Extend NASCAR Track Tax Breaks  Extending temporary tax breaks has become nearly routine for Congress, but pressure is building to review the provisions and perhaps send some to the trash heap. A tax break for NASCAR racetrack facilities has been singled out as suspect by some Democrats on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. "I questioned it. I have not seen its usefulness," said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D., N.J.). "I thought this would be a good example to get to the bigger question of do these things work anymore?" The NASCAR break, estimated to cost $45 million to extend for one year, is included in the bill passed by the House on Wednesday. It is important to race complex operators including Speedway Motorsports Inc. and International Speedway Corp. The provision allows a quicker, seven-year depreciation schedule for new construction and improvements to racetracks, grandstands, parking lots and other parts of track facilities. It was first enacted in 2004 tax legislation, after track operators argued they deserved similar depreciation treatment as theme-park rides and equipment, rather than the longer amortization periods used by operators of sports stadiums.Wall Street Journal
VW Dakar Rally driver to tweet while driving  (Ed note: Should we say anything about the notion of texting/tweeting while driving?)

When it comes to off-road racing, the Dakar Rally is the Super Bowl of events, and the kickoff is set for January 1. When Volkswagen American factory driver, Mark Miller straps in to his Volkswagen Race Touareg for the 17-day journey across South America, he’ll be taking Twitter users along for the ride. Fans can follow Miller at www.twitter.com/MarkMillerDakar.

The 32nd edition of the Dakar Rally begins in Buenos Aires, Argentina and spans 17 days and 9,000 km from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans across some of the most rugged terrain in Argentina and Chile. During the race, five pairs of Volkswagen drivers will battle against other competitors in Volkswagen Race Touaregs powered by 280 hp clean diesel, TDI engines. The 2010 campaign is Miller’s fourth try at the legendary race and his third as a Volkswagen factory driver.

In 2009, Volkswagen scored a 1-2 victory in the Dakar Rally with its Race Touaregs in the car class. The German duo of Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz took the win with Miller and teammate Ralph Pitchford (New Zealand) coming in second. With this finish, Miller, a Carefree, Arizona native, became the highest finishing American driver in the history of the race. The 2009 race was also significant, as it marked the first Dakar win for a diesel-powered car.

“I have been participating in off-road racing of various forms for most of my life, and there’s not a more prestigious or challenging race anywhere than the Dakar Rally,” Miller said. “Volkswagen’s 1-2 finish last year was one of the proudest moments in my racing career, but this year, I’m hoping to land on top and take that feeling of accomplishment to the next level. Thanks to modern technology, I’ll be able to give Twitter followers an inside look at my adventure. I’ll be sharing commentary and photos on our experience, and it’s going to be a great ride!”

Miller has been competing in off-road racing for more than 20 years. In 2005, Volkswagen recognized him as one of the top talents in the world and signed him as a factory driver for its off-road team based in Hanover, Germany. In 2006 and 2007, he finished fifth and fourth in the Dakar Rally driving a Race Touareg. Miller also serves as a driving instructor for the SCCA Pro Racing Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup in the U.S.

Volkswagen has a storied off-road racing history dating back to the 1950’s. The German auto manufacturer’s participation in the Dakar Rally began in 1980 when the team won with the Iltis in the second year of the race. Since 2003, this discipline has become the central part of the Volkswagen off-road motorsports program with the TDI-powered Race Touareg.
Heylen wins PRI CKI All Stars race  UPDATE We updated this story with the overall results from both races.

Tonio Liuzzi, Jan Heylen and Scott Speed
Photo Courtesy CKI
Belgium’s Jan Heylen won the star-studded Performance Racing International / CKI All-Stars Karting Classic last night at the PRI Show in Orlando.  The former Renault Eurocup and British Formula Ford Champion and IZOD IndyCar competitor had a stellar race meeting, winning pole and leading both the 25-lap pre-final and 40-lap feature race from flag-to-flag.

In an event that has grown to be a true all-star gathering in its 5-year history, Heylen beat current Force India Formula 1 driver Vitantonio Liuzzi, Sprint Cup drivers Scott Speed, Jamie McMurray and AJ Allmendinger, and Indy Racing League stars Justin Wilson, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Buddy Rice, Tomas Scheckter, Ed Carpenter and Alex Tagliani. 

Heylen represented Volkswagen Motorsports and the Jetta TDI Cup, and raced for CRG Karts and SSC East.  The chief driving instructor for the Jetta TDI Cup, he is also lead testing and development driver for the series, which uses karting as a qualifier for the young drivers selected to race in the program. 

Heylen on the grid
photo Scott Morris AR1
He said, “For me, the PRI / CKI karting event is a lot of fun, but everyone comes here to win the race.  Look around and you see some impressive names and the big kart manufacturers like CRG, Birel and Tony Kart, and as a result, the competitive level is so, so high.  Karting was my first passion in motorsport, and I’ve driven against lots of these guys over the years.  Tonio [Liuzzi] and I used to race for the same tire manufacturer, and we raced together for years.  It was really good to hang out and spend time with him, but even better to beat him on the track!” More ...
Heidfeld pins hopes to Schumacher's decision  (GMM)  Nick Heidfeld has all but acknowledged he is hoping Michael Schumacher decides against launching a sensational return to formula one.

Seven time world champion Schumacher's possible signing with the Mercedes squad would make international headlines, but it may simultaneously end the grand prix career of his German compatriot Heidfeld, 32.

On the same day that Lotus announced Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli for 2010, Heidfeld told the DPA press agency that he has turned down "concrete possibilities" while he hopes to become Nico Rosberg's teammate next year.

"I have already turned down concrete opportunities and we are continuing to give other possibilities a lesser priority," said the veteran of 169 grands prix, who since 2006 has driven for the departing BMW squad. More ...

Saab powertrains to be made in China  Saab Automobile AB announced today that it had closed on the sale to Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings Co. Ltd (BAIC) of certain Saab 9-3, current 9-5 and powertrain technology and tooling.  Saab will assist BAIC to integrate this technology into future BAIC vehicles.

Jan Åke Jonsson, Managing Director of Saab Automobile said:  “This arrangement is excellent for both parties, now and for the future.  We have developed a good relationship with BAIC and look forward to working with them to integrate this Saab technology into their future vehicles.”
RWR and JGR to cooperate on Toyotas  Officials of Rusty Wallace Racing (RWR) and Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) announced today the formation of a technical alliance between the two teams, under which JGR will provide RWR with technical support for the development of NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry race cars.

In the last two Nationwide Series seasons, RWR has fielded a pair of Chevrolet Impalas and in 2009 was the only team with multiple drivers among the top-ten in the year-end driver standings.  For the 2010 season, the team will campaign factory-backed Toyota Camrys, with engines provided by Triad Racing Development. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Haug - points system change not radical
  • British bank buys stake in Manor/Virgin team
  • Sutil not sure Schumacher should return
  • Montezemolo happy with 'competent' FIA president
  • Vettel insists Red Bull 'staying with Renault'
  • Grosjean to contest Andros ice races
  • Whitmarsh to be new FOTA chairman
  • Piquet to test NASCAR truck again
  • Lotus logo is 'glimpse' of 2010 livery - boss

Haug - points system change not radical
(GMM)  Norbert Haug has pointed out that the changes to F1's scoring system for 2010 are not as radical as has been interpreted by some.

2009 world champion Jenson Button hailed the decision to award race winners 25 instead of 10 points next year.

"It's a great idea," he told BBC Radio 5 live.  "It's nice that you get five points over second for winning.

"That's important because we all love winning races.  I won six races this year and I got just two more points," said the Briton.

But Haug, who is Mercedes' competition chief, points out to the German news agency SID that the plan actually does not involve a greater reward for winning.

"As before, second place receives 80 per cent of the points of the winner, and third place gets 60 per cent (of the winner's points)," the German said. More ...

Mosley slams 'guilty cheat' Briatore  (GMM)  Former FIA president Max Mosley has slammed Flavio Briatore for taking legal action against F1's governing body.

Briatore, Renault's departed team boss, was banned from the sport for his role in the so-called 'crash-gate' scandal of 2009.

Accusing Mosley of enacting personal revenge, he subsequently challenged the ruling in the French courts and is seeking a million euros in damages.

"What he's saying is that he was not given a proper trial, but he declined to turn up and declined to appeal," Mosley, who has been succeeded by Jean Todt, wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.

"The fact is he knew damn well he was guilty," he added, describing the events of Singapore 2008 as an "outrageous act of cheating".

The 69-year-old Briton also said Briatore's legal action was launched to "distract everybody's attention".

"What it reminded me of was Saddam Hussein's PR man telling the world the Americans were in full retreat when you could just about see their tanks pulling up over his shoulder," Mosley added.

Massa to test 2007 F1 car this week  (GMM)  Ferrari has described as a "special Christmas present" a forthcoming test in a formula one car for Felipe Massa.

Circuit testing is banned until after the new cars are launched at the end of January, but the Italian team said Massa "asked Ferrari to give him a present".

"In the next few days, the Brazilian will be back on a race track at the Mugello circuit to drive a formula one car," said the Maranello based outfit, revealing that the single seater at the 28-year-old's disposal will be a F2007 with demonstration tires.

Ferrari said the test will not take place on Monday, with an exact date to only be set pending the region's weather forecast.

"I wanted to jump into a formula one car before the end of the year, so I made the most of being in Maranello to do it," said Massa, who wore a Santa costume at Ferrari's Christmas party on Sunday.

Button beaten to BBC award by footballer  (GMM)  Although he was the bookies' favorite, 2009 world champion Jenson Button on Sunday was not named the Sports Personality of the Year by the British broadcaster BBC.

"Just about to leave to head up to Sheffield for the BBC Sports Personality Awards tonight -- very excited!" the Briton had written beforehand on his Twitter page.

But it was footballer Ryan Giggs, who plays for Manchester United, who received the prize.

29-year-old Button, present at the awards ceremony, was placed second with less than 19 per cent of the public vote.  Giggs received 55,000 more votes than Button.

Last year, fellow Briton and 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton was beaten to the BBC plaudit by Olympic cyclist Chris Hoy.

Around the 'net: F1 on Monday Dec. 14th  
(GMM)  Felipe Massa wears a Santa costume for Ferrari's Christmas party at Fiorano:


FIA holds gala award-giving evening in Monaco:


Jacques Villeneuve carries Winter Olympics torch in Montreal:

Lotus confirms Trulli, Kovalainen for 2010  (GMM)  Lotus on Monday announced that 2009 formula one drivers Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen will race for the new Malaysian-owned team next season.

Kuala Lumpur-born Fairuz Fauzy was named as the reserve driver at a press conference at the parliament building involving the Malaysian sports minister.

Italian veteran Trulli's involvement had been strongly speculated, but the likelihood of a deal with Kovalainen only became clear with a recent report in Turun Sanomat.

The Finnish newspaper said Trulli and 28-year-old Kovalainen, who have each won a single career grand prix, will both be paid.

With his manager Flavio Briatore banned from any involvement in F1, 2009 McLaren driver Kovalainen's deal was reportedly informally handled by Aces Management, headed by Didier Coton.

"Experience is the most important thing for us, because it's a value you can't buy," said Lotus team boss Tony Fernandes, according to 422race.com.

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