Quotes of the Week
BERNIE ECCLESTONE, President and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Administration
"I told Lewis [Hamilton] that if Ron [Dennis] didn't say 'yes' to him being in the McLaren then I'd get him into another team. There are only one or two drivers that I have ever said that to. I could see he had the talent. He has won everything he has ever done, so I thought, why shouldn't he win in Formula One?" Ecclestone said he was worried that F1 would face a slump following the retirement of Michael Schumacher but says the four-way title fight in 2007 has been a more than perfect remedy. "Obviously, because Lewis has more points and is leading at the moment, you have to make him favorite."
ROBIN MILLER, Motorsports Journalist, Veteran Open Wheel Expert
"[Tony] Cotman is the direct opposite of a yes man. Firm and fair, he's the best thing that ever happened to Race Control. His pragmatic way of running races and making smart, quick judgments has earned him respect across the board. The 40-year-old is a racer with a brain who is good with people and problems. He comes in the office early, stays late and, unlike his predecessors, has a passion for the series and its participants. If he's not micro-managed by Kalkhoven and Forsythe, Cotman will do wonders for this series' credibility and Champ Car's collective morale. If he gets too much interference from above, he'll walk away. Cotman still needs a strong business type next to him and the toughest thing will be finding a replacement for him in Race Control. Whether Cotman will be allowed to try and make things better remains to be seen. But, for the first time in a long time, something is positive in the Champ Car office. There's a new sheriff in town and it's kinda like John Wayne replacing Barney Fife." (Tony Cotman has been named Executive Vice President, Operations, Champ Car World Series)
DERRICK WALKER, co-owner Team Australia, Champ Car World Series
"Steve Johnson has a tiger by the tail. Anybody who is the CEO of Champ Car has had a difficult job, just ask those who came before him. Recovery of the series will take some time and Steve, with a small staff, limited resources, and more things to do with not enough hours in the day to do them, has done his best to be all things to all people. To me, as CEO he has always gone out of his way to help, used his influence when needed enabling us to continue in Champ Car. Let’s face it it’s a big challenge for anybody. The reallocation of his time to concentrate on sales and securing the need for sponsorship dollars is a more important use for him than chairing meetings and micro managing the price of car parts as we tend to do, quite frankly. Moving Champ Car up the ladder is going to take three to five years. Times have changed since the glory days of CART. We need new ideas that work in the very different marketplace of today. The owners of Champ Car (who I jokingly referred to as ‘The Brothers’), have made a huge commitment to open wheel racing, which we all tend to take for granted sometimes, need to provide the leadership to make it happen. In the winter of 2006 valuable momentum was lost, but now there are positive signs of change and a new direction emerging.”
TONY GEORGE, CEO of Indianapolis Motor Speedway
"Money is a factor. It's not the only factor and it has some bearing on the decision. But there are a number of things that I believe need to happen for it to be viable as a business opportunity. I think the future will depend on recognizing the fact that the United States is a bit different and to the extent it is important we need to find a way to make it work," George said. "It's a sizable gap," George said of his offer and Ecclestone's asking price. "Suffice it to say, he can get more (money) elsewhere, so he's asking for more in the future. Personally, I'm very disappointed," George said. "I thought we'd be able to make a better success of this, especially after eight years. But we need everybody to activate, and without all of the pieces in place . . . you're asking for trouble." (Speedway CEO Tony George said he wanted the U.S. Grand Prix to stay at the IMS, but not at a cost of at least $30 million a year. George said he was willing to spend $15 million a year to stage grand prix races, but he couldn't match the estimated $30 million to $35 million in sanctioning fees others are offering F-1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. As a result, Indianapolis' eight-year run as the host of the U.S. Grand Prix has ended, although George left the door open for a possible resurrection of the event, estimating the odds at 60-40 in favor of future races.)
MARTIN BRUNDLE, former Formula One driver, F1 Analyst
"It's difficult to see what Toyota are achieving in F1," Brundle said criticizing the Japanese giant for using a "huge budget" for poor pace and reliability. He added, "It's going to take a sea change of attitude to make that any different."
On the other end of the budgetary scale is the backmarker Spyker, for whom Brundle predicts a dim future. "I don't quite understand what they are doing in F1," he said. "Their owners have all the hallmarks of people who are just passing through. It's difficult to see how they can move forward."
Brundle manages Red Bull's David Coulthard but he says the energy-drink owned team have gone down the wrong path with the woefully-unreliable seamless gearbox. "They should really have bought that technology in rather than do it themselves," he said.
BILL WEBER, NASCAR TV host
Weber on No. 8 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. losing his power steering on his car at Chicagoland: “It’s like going from driving a fancy sports car that handles great to driving a school bus.”