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DATE News (chronologically)
12/02/07
racing news
Quotes of the week  
BERNIE ECCLESTONE, President and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Association
"I think the difference is that, in the McLaren case, information flowed to someone on nearly an hourly basis.  The Renault case is only about a mountain of drawings, and that's it," he added.  (Bernie Ecclestone has suggested that the 'Stepneygate' affair was more serious than the new allegations involving Renault.  Details leaked by McLaren last week of the affair involving engineer Phil Mackereth indicated that the scandal could be on the same scale as the one that led to the Woking based team's $100m fine and championship exclusion.)

GIANCARLO FISICHELLA, Formula 1 driver, Renault
"You [Bernie Ecclestone] are the father of Formula One and like a father you have talked about your children, including me," Fisichella said.  "I wanted to remind you dear daddy, I mean dear Bernie, that I am the one who won the first Grand Prix in Melbourne in 2005 with Renault and therefore I was the one who first discovered the R25 as a winning car," he added.  Fisichella also seemed to suggest that he was a victim of "the strategies of my team" alongside title winner Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006, explaining that, "given the circumstances I believe I could not do any better".  (Fisichella has hit back at Bernie Ecclestone for suggesting he quit Formula One.  He took exception to Ecclestone's claim that he should have done a better job in the past few seasons at Renault.)

CARLOS GRACIA, FIA Vice President and President Spanish Motorsport Federation
"I cannot say anything about this matter," Gracia said.  "The only thing is that this sort of thing has always happened in Formula One.  I don't know whether you can call it espionage or not.  It used to be called exchanging documents and now it is spying, but historically it has always existed in the sport," he added.  "Something like that could make Fernando change his mind," Gracia admits of the prospect of a huge fine, "but the impression I get is that he does have other options."  He added: "What I want is that Fernando chooses the best option for him, and I hope that can happen."  (It has been suggested that a penalty on the scale of McLaren's $100m fine this year could convince Renault to pull out of Formula One.)

RON DENNIS, Team Principal, McLaren Mercedes F1 team
"I don't think we have more problems with drivers than other teams," Dennis said.  "Actually, the only relationship that ended badly was with Fernando, but that is over now, there is nothing to do about it, and we are thinking completely about 2008."  Dennis was quoted as branding Montoya "a fool" for allowing recriminations after the incident [at Indianapolis] to color his decision to immediately quit the sport.  "We have an agreement to not criticize one another," said Dennis.  "However, I believe he was unwise to leave formula one over one incident.  He is a good driver and a good person.  But I can understand it [Montoya's decision], because his position within the team was complicated and it became very difficult, especially with the technical group," Dennis explained.  (After Fernando Alonso ended his McLaren tenure after a tumultuous single season in 2007, former team driver Juan Pablo Montoya said he sympathized with Alonso.  McLaren's relationship with former grand prix winner Montoya, who has since switched to NASCAR, imploded in mid-2006.  F1 historians cite an eight-car pileup at his last race at Indianapolis, after which he was named an instigator, as the final catalyst for the split.)

GORDON KIRBY, Veteran Motorsports Journalist
"Champ Car has put together three European races for next year and is hoping for a fourth at Donington on September 21st. Also, Tony Cotman has been appointed to the FIA's Circuits & Safety Commission. Cotman is Champ Car's best man by far and I'm sure he'll do good work for the organization in this added role. But Champ Car is very naive about working with the FIA, Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone. In fact, it's like casting a school of goldfish into a shark's tank. If there is to be a revitalized, American-based, international open-wheel series it would have to be blessed--Cotman and his operations people aside--with much sharper and more knowledgeable management people than those currently employed by Champ Car."

HELIO CASTRONEVES, 2-time Indy 500 winner, "Dancing with the Stars" winner
"This is amazing.  First of all, I want to thank the entire motorsport world because obviously, there was no question about it, without the voting I wouldn't be able to win this trophy.  No question.  I learned a lot [about] dancing, but still if you asked me to go outside and start dancing, I can't because I don't have my partner.  She was the one who told me everything.  But you know what, it was an amazing experience.  I enjoyed it so much.  It was awesome.  To have all the drivers voting and calling me, I mean, it's priceless.  I just can't thank everybody enough for giving me their support.  I had no idea it would be this crazy, but I'm having a good time.  I'm enjoying every second of it.  Plus again, as I've been hearing a lot of people say, it's good for motorsports.  I know a lot of people are going to start watching and trying to find out where I'm going to be because of what I have achieved.  And we did actually captivate a lot of new fans.  So I'm extremely excited about it.  I can't wait to go back racing.  Trust me, my feet are sore right now, but I can't wait to go back racing, and put my helmet on and start racing.  I can't thank the entire Team Penske enough to let me do this and for supporting me."  Tim Cindric [President of Penske Performance] had teased Helio that his helmet might not still fit after winning the "Dancing with the Stars" competition.  Helio said, "For sure it will still fit and I hope he will raise my salary now!"  Helio continued, "I have to say that dancing is an incredible sport.  I had no idea that it was going to be so physical.  My legs are really strong so my competitors had better watch out next year because I'm going to step on the throttle!"

DARIO FRANCHITTI, 2007 Indy Car Champion, Indy 500 winner
“When I hit the ground the first thing I thought was ‘I’ve gotta stop doing this’. I don’t know if I was thinking about IndyCar or just crashing the thing!”  (Having survived two enormous crashes this year, the Scot shed some light as to why he has chosen to switch to NASCAR in 2008.) 

DALE EARNHARDT, Jr., Most Popular NASCAR driver for 2007, Dale Earnhardt Incorporated
"Bull crap," Earnhardt said. "I'm expected to win every year I'm in this sport. I mean, I'm an Earnhardt. That's the way it is. I'm deeply disappointed in being winless last year. I'm shocked. That's why I want to race tomorrow.  I don't want to be winless all through the off-season. I want to get one in there.  I'm pissed off we didn't win a race," he said. "That's going to bother me for a while. That bothers me every day. I think about it every day."

BRIAN FRANCE, Chairman and CEO, NASCAR
“The margin of error for all the sports to manage their business smarter is more narrow," Brian France said.  But France also pointed to the failure of NASCAR's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., to have a strong season hurt the sport's television ratings.  "It would have helped if he would have been competitive," said France. "He didn't win an event and he certainly didn't make our playoffs. And that's unhelpful if you're trying to build ratings."  He continued, "The storylines we talk about are driven by rivalries, driven by personalities, and they're also driven by dominance. Dynasties are all not bad for sports.  Jimmie [Johnson] is in the early stages of what may be a dynasty. He's back-to-back champion in the stiffest of competition.  But has he gotten to the status of Dale Earnhardt Senior?” France said. “Of course not. It takes a long time and your personality has to come out there too."  (France blames NASCAR’s downfall on Earnhardt.  Overall NASCAR television ratings were down about 13 percent in 2007 as compared to 2006.  But NASCAR France said during a Reuters Media Summit in New York Tuesday that he was not worried NASCAR's popularity is slowing.)

JACK ROUSH, NASCAR team co-owner, Roush Fenway Racing 
"They can't make calls from the car," Roush said.  "What Greg [Biffle] wants to do, what I would want to do, what Matt [Kenseth]  wants to do and what [former Roush driver] Mark [Martin] wanted to do was to sit in the car and say, 'All right. This thing is loose in, so put some more spring in the right rear; put some more load in the right rear,'" Roush said.  "Or, 'It doesn't turn in the middle, so I want to go down an eighth on bar. [With the COT], the driver can't make that determination. What the driver needs to do - given all the data and all the support the engineering people bring - what the driver needs to do today is say, 'OK, my worst problem is I'm loose in, my worst problem is it won't turn in the middle, my worst problem is I'm loose off,' and let the engineers go back and in four- or five-dimensional space decide to move some weight, change the shock, change the bar and change the spring.  Myself and all the drivers I know think two- or three-dimensionally. They certainly can't think four- or five-dimensionally. They can't go back and figure what the net effect will be of making the four changes that need to be made at the time. That has taken it out of the hands of the driver, not from the point of view of providing the information that's required, but from making the determination of what to do."  (Roush says the heavy emphasis on technology flies in the face of what his drivers would like to do from the cockpit.)

PETER M. DE LORENZO, Motorsports Journalist, Autoextremist
"No, racing has become a branded form of "entertainment" now - thanks in large part to NASCAR's marketeers and the suits in corporate America and on Madison Avenue who have blindly embraced everything that NASCAR is selling. That means racing has been distilled down to "co-branding" opportunities, brand "extensions," marketing "synergies" and targeted "buckets" of media expenditures. It's not about the manufacturers anymore, at least in NASCAR it isn't. How could it be with those incredible hulks masquerading as race cars (otherwise known as the "Car of Tomorrow") that have no relationship whatsoever to anything these manufacturers sell on the street? And it's not even about advancing the technological development of our road cars anymore, either. If it was, then Formula 1, IndyCar, ALMS and NASCAR would all be exploring "next" technologies that we'll likely all be driving in 20 years (which was exactly the point of our Hydrogen Electric Racing Federation initiative, which we're still actively pursuing)."

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