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DATE News (chronologically)
Replacement race for threatened Bahrain opener?  (GMM)  Cancellation of the 2011 season opener in Bahrain would likely leave a hole at the start of this year's 20-race calendar, a team boss has admitted.

Violent anti-government protests have led to this week's GP2 Asia race being called off in Bahrain.

Virgin team boss John Booth told the BBC that if a similar decision is made ahead of next month's Bahrain grand prix, it is unlikely a replacement race will be organized.

"Impractical," he said.  "Our sea freight, like every other team's, left for Bahrain a month ago, and a lot of the equipment in the sea freight is vital for the running of the cars." More ...

Bernie Ecclestone stung by warts-and-all biography  Bernie Ecclestone is reported to be livid over revelations regarding his family in Tom Bowers' No Angel: The Secret Life of Bernie Ecclestone which is published next week.

According to the Times, Ecclestone believes he has been betrayed by the author who he thought had agreed not to delve into his private life. The newspaper says he is so upset that he is considering cancelling invitations to a lavish launch party for the book.

Until now, Ecclestone has managed to avoid any in-depth delving into his private life. In December, Susan Watkins, wife of the former F1 medical delegate Professor Sid Watkins, released Bernie: The Biography but it stopped short of anything too risqué. Despite that, Ecclestone at one point offered to pay for it not be published. Insiders have suggested Ecclestone co-operated with Watkins and Bowers to try to ensure he had some control on the output. More ...

Even ESPN, Washington Post reporters think NASCAR is 'rigged'  UPDATE Co-host Tony Kornheiser intimated on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption that NASCAR had helped Earnhardt turn the fastest lap in qualifying. Kornheiser said a longtime NASCAR reporter told him there was a 60% chance that Earnhardt's car might not be legal. "There are people in and around the NASCAR world, not just drivers but people who cover the sport, who are winking at this one," Kornheiser said. "Who are wondering if this wasn't a setup because it's the pole position." The reporter was The Washington Post's Liz Clarke, who covered NASCAR for more than a decade for four newspapers and also wrote a book about the sport. [Editor's Note: No transponders in the car, so others think the car was legal but timing and scoring computers are rigged to put certain people on pole for certain races depending on what will sell more tickets.  What everyone sees come up on the timing and scoring screen is believed, but with no transponder in the car so teams can verify time, everyone takes for granted that the qualifying time is real.  Is it?]

Earlier Tuesday, Clarke had appeared on Kornheiser's ESPN 980 radio show in Washington. During a discussion about Earnhardt's pole position, Clarke said, "people who covered racing for a long time, a lot were just laughing when they heard Junior won the pole because of the rich NASCAR tradition of ginning up storylines and outcomes. There's a lot of questions still about Richard Petty's 200th win, which came the day Ronald Reagan was there. Everything Americana happened to fall into place that particular day."

Noting that PTI does a segment called "Odds" in which situations are assigned a 1-100 percentage, Kornheisesr asked Clarke, "what are the odds that NASCAR rigged this" so Earnhardt would start first? "I'd say better than 60%," Clarke said. "I'm trying to think, 'Will I regret saying that?' No, it's more likely than not. But he drives for the best, best team with the best cars and smartest mechanics. This is an awesome team. He's had the best equipment." More ...
GM to ditch the Acadia?  Word on the web is that the GMC Acadia is back on the chopping block. You may recall that the big crossover found itself in dire straits once before when the entire GMC brand underwent a strategic review during the General Motors bankruptcy proceedings. After that brush with death, the decision makers at the company decided to give the entire brand – and by association, the Acadia – a stay of execution. Now a new report suggests that the next-generation Acadia may be scrapped to reduce product overlap within the GM dealer network.

General Motors currently produces three Lambda-based crossovers – the Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave and the GMC Acadia – and the company says that it wants to keep overlap to a minimum for its Buick-GMC dealers. The next-generation Lambdas are expected in 2014 as 2015 models, but even if the Acadia gets axed, it's likely that GM will still keep a trio of models based off of the three-row platform, only with Cadillac getting the third model instead of GMC. GMInsideNews

Heidfeld to replace Kubica  UPDATE #5 This rumor, as first reported by AR1.com, is now 'fact.'  Lotus Renault have confirmed that Germany's Nick Heidfeld will replace the injured Robert Kubica in their driving line-up, starting with this week's pre-season test in Barcelona.  Heidfeld said: "I would have liked to come back to Formula One in different circumstances, but I'm proud to have been given this chance.

"Everything has happened so quickly, but I've been very impressed by what I have seen so far in terms of the facilities and the dedication of the people at Enstone.

"I really enjoyed the test last week in Jerez and I've already settled in well with the guys at the track. I have a good feeling for the car, which is quite innovative. I'm extremely motivated and can't wait for the season to begin."

Renault team principal Eric Boullier said: "The team has been through a very difficult couple of weeks and we had to react quickly. We gave Nick a chance in Jerez last week and he really impressed us.

"He's quick, experienced and is very strong technically with his feedback and understanding of the car.

"We always said the priority was to have an experienced driver in the car and we feel he is the ideal man for the job. We are pleased to welcome Nick to the team and look forward to a strong start to the season with him and Vitaly in Bahrain." More ...

Trouble for F1 in Bahrain?  UPDATE #6 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today.  Formula 1 is going to have to start worrying about its season-opening race if the situation in Bahrain continues to deteriorate. The latest reports from Manama say that the thousands of protesters who were gathered at the Pearl Roundabout have been attacked by the security forces. The reports, from the opposition, say that 50 army vehicles moved into the square and attacked the crowds. There have been reports in recent hours of further deaths and there are now reports (and photographs) of Saudi Arabian troops moving across the King Fahd Causeway in order to help support the Bahrain government. If this is confirmed it is very bad news. The reports have been denied by the authorities, saying that these are simply rumors to stir up more trouble. Joe Saward

02/16/11 The nation's majority Shiites — about 70 percent of the population of some 500,000_ have long complained of discrimination and being blackballed from important state jobs.

Many in the square waved Bahraini flags and chanted: "No Sunnis, no Shiites. We are all Bahrainis." It also appeared they were planning for the long haul. Some groups carried in tents and sought generators to set up under a nearly 300-foot (90-meter) monument cradling a giant white pearl-shaped ball that symbolizes the country's heritage as a pearl diving center.

Bahrain is one of the most politically volatile nations in the Middle East's wealthiest corner despite having one of the few elected parliaments and some of the most robust civil society groups. A crackdown on perceived dissent last year touched off weeks of riots and clashes in Shiite villages, and an ongoing trial in Bahrain accuses 25 Shiites of plotting against the country's leadership. More ...

New McLaren too radical for 2011 success?  (GMM)  Less than a month before the 2011 season begins, one major unknown is the likely performance of the new McLaren car.

Specialist reports in Italy (Autosprint) and Germany (Auto Motor und Sport) say the British team's MP4-26 will be the most radical car on the Bahrain grid.

But according to Autosprint, the recent Jerez test "did not show how competitive" the silver car will be.

McLaren's former long-time team coordinator Jo Ramirez was in the pits in Spain and he reported that technicians were so busy with the car that there was no time to experiment with the adjustable rear wing. More ...

Injured Kubica pushing for Liuzzi as understudy  (GMM)  Rumors are circulating about the delay in Renault's confirmation of its driver lineup for 2011.

The Lotus-sponsored team was reportedly so happy with Nick Heidfeld's performance at Jerez last week that an announcement about his selection as the substitute for injured Robert Kubica was scheduled for Monday.

But as that deadline came and went, rumors emerged that Kubica - who was German Heidfeld's teammate at BMW for almost four years - is pushing for another candidate from his Italian hospital bed. More ...

'The Call' is already in, Dale Jr. will win the Daytona 500  NASCAR is asking 200,000 fans to honor Dale Earnhardt this coming Sunday. On the third lap, everyone at the Daytona 500 will be asked to extend three fingers.

The announcer might as well say, "Everyone who thinks Dale's son will win, please raise your hand."

The smart money is on Junior. So is the dumb money, the Confederate money and every other bit of currency. Ten years after Dale Sr. died at the track, who doesn't think the Earnhardt stars are aligning? More ...

Austin to tax hotel travelers to pay for F1 track  Travis County officials are considering a new approach to paying for road and drainage improvements near a planned Formula One racetrack: a 2 percent hotel-motel tax. County staffers estimate that improvements will cost $6 million, and so far organizers of the project, which is expected to draw more than 100,000 racing fans to southeastern Travis County annually starting in 2012, have not indicated whether they will pay for the work.

Some commissioners have said the F1 organizers should pay for widening a narrow county road that leads to the site. If not, a hotel tax would largely shift the burden from local taxpayers. It would be in addition to state and city hotel taxes, making occupancy taxes at Austin's hotels among the highest in the nation.

Commissioners are expected to hear a legal briefing on the idea in closed session today. More ...

Pagenaud to land IndyCar ride  
Simon Pagenaud
SPEED.com reports that a few IndyCar team owners have been seriously considering the 26-year-old ex-Champ Car driver Simon Pagenaud for at least a part-time drive in 2011 and a full-time ride in 2012.

“It’s a bit early to talk about the details—I’m actually not permitted to discuss the details, but if it happens, it could be a pretty big deal,” Pagenaud told SPEED.com while speaking from his home in France. “If it does happen, it would be a partial season for this year, with a full season the following year. It’s where I want to be, and where I’ve wanted to be since Champ Car ended. If I can do some races this year to get acclimated to the car and to some of the tracks, I think this would be the best scenario for me to be fully up to speed with the new car and the team for 2012.” More ...
Schumacher fast lap was 'a show for Germany'  UPDATE
Michael Schumacher
This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation.'  Nico Rosberg says Michael Schumacher was still keeping something in reserve when he shot to the top of the times in Jerez testing last Friday.

Mercedes had not looked competitive early in winter testing, leading to fears that it might start the season off the pace.

There were therefore raised eyebrows when Schumacher blasted the team to the top of the leaderboard on Friday with what was then the fastest lap of the week.

The seven-time champion maintained that form with third place next day.

Rosberg said Schumacher's times proved Mercedes was in better shape than the skeptics thought - and that the pace was genuine rather than a low-fuel glory run to get some positive press. More ...

Pirelli to supply hard tire at first races  (GMM)  Based on the first two tests of the 2011 group pre-season, new official supplier Pirelli has already decided upon which tire compounds to take to the first four grands prix of 2011.

Auto Motor und Sport said that amid complaints of severe degradation at Valencia and Jerez, no driver managed more than a 15-lap run on the compounds supplied to teams last week.

"For the first four races Pirelli will therefore go on the safe side," read the German report.

With a compound 'gap' to be left between the race selections again in 2011, that safe option is therefore the hard and soft compounds. More ...

California to be biggest electric vehicle market  California is likely to become the biggest U.S. market for new plug-in and electric cars, accounting for more sales of these high-tech, clean vehicles than the five next largest states combined, according to a new study.

The Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor said in its study that demand for plug-in and electric cars, such as the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, is likely to follow a similar pattern to hybrid car sales.

The leading markets for these new, cleaner vehicles tend to be the more populous states, but California also leads in density of hybrid owners, with more than 50 per 10,000 residents, compared with fewer than 26 per 10,000 in Texas or Michigan. More ...
McLaren Fuel Injection for NASCAR in 2012  UPDATE #2 This rumor became 'Fact' with this announcement.

02/11/11 NASCAR is expected to announce today that its Sprint Cup teams will start using fuel injection systems. It is also expected that McLaren Electronic Systems will provide the electronic control units, in partnership with Freescale Semiconductor of Austin, Texas. McLaren’s Ron Dennis popped up in NASCAR last year at Indianapolis and it seems that the NASCAR folk were happy to listen as they want to have a little more technology on the cars, because the carburetors that are currently employed are from another age. At the same time they wanted to control costs and with standard ECUs this was obviously possible.  It is believed that McLaren beat bids from eight other companies. Joe Saward

02/11/11 NASCAR is expected to announce Friday that the Sprint Cup Series will shift to fuel injection in time for the 2012 season-opening Daytona 500. It is expected that Britain's McLaren Electronic Systems will provide the controller through a partnership with Freescale Semiconductor, Inc. out of Austin, Texas. Testing and development of the components will continue throughout the year. FoxSports
Danica could move to NASCAR full-time  Either she's not easily detoured or she's a glutton for punishment. Danica Patrick has returned for another shot at Daytona and second season of running part-time in NASCAR's Nationwide Series.

America's best female racer and IndyCar racing's biggest celebrity crashed and finished 35th in her Nationwide Series debut a year ago. She posted an average start of 27th and average finish of 28th in 13 starts for JR Motorsports, but that was then and this is 2011. More ...
Future BMW styling hinted in radical concept car  
BMW Vision ConnectedDrive
BMW will reveal a two-seat concept car called BMW Vision ConnectedDrive at the Geneva motor show that will launch a new styling language and driver information system for the German brand. This new language and information system will come out in 2013 on the production versions of the VisionED Sportscar and MegaCity EV.

The new concept is called the Vision ConnectedDrive and will feature new headlights and body surfacing. It will also have a shark-nose grille and the afore mentioned next generation driver information system that includes a new three-dimensional dashboard interface.

The styling of the Vision ConnectedDrive will feature round headlights and the traditional L-shaped rear lights. It will also have sliding doors, similar to those seen on the BMW Z1. More ...
Conquest eyes 4 drivers  
Will Bertrand Baguette be back with Conquest?
Paul Tracy has been in contact with three teams -- KV Racing Technology, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Conquest Racing -- but said only Conquest owner Eric Bachelart is showing much interest.

Bachelart said he wants to pair Tracy, a veteran with 31 career wins, with Firestone Indy Lights champion J.K. Vernay.

Bachelart said he also is continuing talks with drivers Belgian Bertrand Baguette, who drove 15 races for the team last year, and Columbian Sebastian Saavedra, an Indy Lights veteran.  Indy Star

Firestone to dump IndyCar and Indy Lights?  UPDATE #3 IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard and Firestone racing boss Al Speyer said there still is no resolution to Firestone's contract with the series that expires at the end of the year. "Still evaluating," Speyer said Thursday. Indy Star

01/04/11 Firestone also sponsors and supplies tires for the Indy Lights series, so one would assume that series would be looking for new tires and a new sponsor as well.  The best company to replace Firestone would be Michelin.  The USA is their biggest market and with no F1 in their portfolio, one would think IndyCar, which is a bit international, would be a good fit.

01/04/11 “Firestone is evaluating all their marketing assets right now but we’re currently in negotiations,” said IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard. “We talked again today and I’m optimistic that we’re making progress.”  Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division, and Bernard traveled to Memphis a few days before Christmas to try and persuade Firestone to stay through 2012 reported SPEEDTV.com's Robin Miller.

01/04/11 One of the Izod IndyCar Series' best partners could be leaving the sport. Firestone, which has been the series' sole tire supplier since 2002 and a key promoter of the drivers and their races, is in the final year of its IndyCar contract. It is in negotiations to determine an exit strategy.

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard admitted Tuesday that he is "definitely concerned."

"No doubt; definitely concerned," he said.

Bernard said Firestone officials have told him "what we're willing to do 'if' we come back." More ...

New IndyCar team in the works  UPDATE We have learned that this new team is a collaboration between AJ Foyt Racing and NASCAR team BAM Racing, which was formed by Beth Ann Morgenthau and her husband Tony, investment bankers from Coral Gables, FL. The goal of combining the resources of A.J. Foyt Racing and BAM Racing is to create the quintessential American team as well as a championship caliber program, something that has been lacking with Foyt's team in recent years.

The team will start as a single car team and expand to a two car effort later this year.

02/10/11 Rumor has it that a new IndyCar team is in the works and will be associated with AJ Foyt. We hear it will be called BamFoyt Racing and will run car no. 49. No word on who the driver is yet.
Peugeot to go hybrid at LeMans  

The Technical Director of Peugeot Sport confirms his ambition to integrate hybrid technology in the new 908.

Will the Peugeot 908 be fitted with an alternative engine?
Bruno Famin:" We're working on and soon we will take important steps. It is too early to predict when we will be able to equip the 908 in our system. It is clear that this would be a plus if we could hire a hybrid car, but we want to win Le Mans foremost, whatever the technology on-board."

In September 2008, a 908 HDi FAP hybrid was demonstrated on the track. Is the system not yet ready?
"At the time, we just grafted a battery and an electric motor onto a 908 HDi FAP. For it to be effective in competition, we must go much further. Unlike its predecessor, the new 908 is designed to accommodate a KERS."

Several technologies exist in this area. Which did you choose?
"We will talk later on this subject at a later date."

More than three candidates for Kubica seat  (GMM)  There are more than three candidates to race injured Robert Kubica's Renault in 2011, team boss Eric Boullier has clarified.

Reports on Tuesday said the Frenchman had shortlisted only Bruno Senna, Nick Heidfeld and Vitantonio Liuzzi to become Vitaly Petrov's new teammate until Kubica is ready to return to the R31.

"Senna, Heidfeld and Liuzzi?" Boullier is quoted by the Spanish sports newspaper Marca.

"We have talked with them, but there are others that we have also spoken with who are in perfect condition to drive the car," he insisted. More ...

IndyCar broadcasts in Europe to move to ESPN?  UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today, at least for the UK. 

Sky Sports has confirmed a new two-year deal for exclusive live high definition coverage of the Izod IndyCar Series.

Sky Sports will endeavor to screen live high definition coverage of all 17 events from the centennial year of the IndyCar Series - including the Indy 500 from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May.

The season begins with the streets of St Petersburg on March 27 and will also include races from Japan, Brazil and Canada. More ...

Chrysler workers at Jefferson plant accused of using drugs during lunch  Three workers from Chrysler Group LLC's Jefferson North plant were arrested recently for alleged drug use during their lunch break after police were tipped off by the automaker.

The workers were arrested on Jan. 24 but have not been formally charged, said Det. Lt. Robert Honey, of the Michigan State Police's County of Macomb Enforcement Team.

The arrests mark the second publicized instance of apparent drug use at the Detroit assembly plant in six months. Last fall, FOX 2 TV captured video of workers from the same plant drinking and smoking what appeared to be drugs during their lunch break. Chrysler fired 13 workers as a result of that incident. More ...

Will Raikkonen replace Kubica?  With the Lotus Renault GP team now effectively acknowledging that Robert Kubica could be out for the season, attention inevitably moves to the identity of who could replace him.

The fact that the seat is potentially available for the whole year – and that any driver signed in the next few days will still get six days of testing at Jerez, Barcelona and Bahrain – puts a whole new complexion on things. Assuming that Vitaly Petrov drives on the first two days, then there will be a car waiting for the new driver in Jerez on Saturday February 12.

Bruno Senna was revealed exactly a week ago today as the team’s main reserve driver, on the basis that he raced last year and would thus be relatively fresh, should he be called upon. However even the Brazilian would accept that given its ambitions to win races sooner rather than later – and the R31 was fastest in Valencia after all – for a full season the team has to take a proven driver who can get the job done. More ...

Angolan driver eyes Team Lotus role in 2011  
Ricardo Teixeira
(GMM)  Team Lotus looks set to have no fewer than four reserve drivers in 2011.

It has already emerged that Davide Valsecchi and Luiz Razia will almost certainly appear in the T128 race cars on some Friday mornings this year.

And Karun Chandhok is also close to securing a role with the Hingham based team in support of race lineup Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen.

Media reports at the weekend suggested that yet another contender is 26-year-old Portuguese born Angolan driver Ricardo Teixeira. More ...

Who will replace the injured Kubica?  UPDATE Asked about which reserve driver team would prefer, Lotus Renault team principal Eric Boullier had last week said that from the two reserve drivers, Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean, Senna was the most ready to replace any of the regular drivers.

Senna (L) & Grosjean (R)
Ho-Pin Tung
With Robert Kubica badly injured today in a rally accident the immediate speculation turns to which Lotus Renault driver will race in his place.

The team's reserve drivers include Bruno Senna, Ho-Pin Tung and Romain Grosjean.  Of the three only Senna has real F1 race experience and will, therefore, probably get the seat.

However, the Chinese Grand Prix is in mid-April and we would not be at all surprised if Dutch-Chinese driver Ho-Pin Tung gets the seat for at least that event.

McLaren holds back secrets of 2011 car  UPDATE
McLaren's new sidepods have everyone wondering
McLaren has revealed that the importance of getting as much clean air as possible over the lower plane of the rear wing was the catalyst for the radical U-shaped sidepod design on its new MP4-26.

"I think there are some novel features on the car – the long wheelbase and U-shaped sidepods are probably the most obvious examples," said Lowe. "The thinking behind that is to feed as much good-quality air as possible to the rear-lower main plane and the floor of the car. We want to get the rear-end working as well as possible following the loss of performance caused by the banning of the double diffuser."

McLaren's new sidepods have everyone wondering
McLaren pieced together its sleek new Formula One car bit by bit at a public launch on Friday but made sure their secrets stayed well out of sight of curious rivals.

The last of the big teams to roll out their 2011 car, the Mercedes-powered team took the show to the fans with the silver racer assembled in front of a crowd of fans in the Potsdamer Platz near the old Berlin Wall.

Wheels, pieces of bodywork and even the steering wheel were carried through the crowd by team members before being attached in near silence before a final blast of wheel guns completed the task with a flourish.

However the engine and exhausts on display were only fake parts and team bosses recognized that the car they would race in the season-opener in Bahrain on 13 March would look very different. More ...

Advantage goes to McLaren and Mercedes teams in 2011  McLaren’s technical director Paddy Lowe says the reintroduction of KERS in Formula 1 this season will prove an advantage for the Mercedes and the McLaren teams.

After being shelved at the end of 2009 for cost reasons, the energy storage devices are set to return in 2011, and this time around most teams are expected to use them from the start of the season.

The KERS unit developed in a joint effort between McLaren and engine supplier Mercedes in 2009 was widely acknowledged as the best in F1, whereas Ferrari and title winner Brawn struggled with its system for the entire season. More ...

GM looks to cut price of next-gen Chevy Volt by $7,500  Back in July of 2010, General Motors revealed that the 2011 Chevrolet Volt would be slapped with a base price of $41,000 (including a $720 destination charge, but excluding any plug-in vehicle incentives). While the Volt's price isn't as aggressive as some potential buyers had hoped for, its lease rate of $350 per month for 36 months is nearly identical to the deal offered on the Nissan Leaf.

Buyers willing to wait for the second-generation Volt to debut may see a price tag that's up to $7,500 less than the $41,000 sticker on the 2011 model. According to GM-Volt, The General expects that economies of scale, along with the possibility of reducing the size of the Volt's lithium-ion battery pack, could contribute to a $7,500 price reduction for GM's next-gen plug-in hybrid. GM spokesman Robert Peterson reiterated that the Volt's price will drop over time, stating: More ...

Front exhausts still possible for McLaren, Mercedes  (GMM)  Contrary to speculation, the launch model of McLaren's 2011 car did not feature Renault-style front-exiting exhausts.

But leading figures of the Woking based team did not rule out the appearance of the innovation on the MP4-26 at some point between now and the start of the 2011 season.

Indeed, closer inspection of the car on display in the cold Berlin air on Friday showed some of the detail beneath the bodywork had been molded in dummy plastic.

Engineering director Tim Goss admitted: "It won't come as any real surprise or shock that the exhaust solution that you see on the car today is not what we intend to be testing or racing." More ...

Did fat Stewart lose weight for run at Indy 500?  
Did a buff and shaven Tony Stewart clean up his act to make a run at the Indy 500 or was he tired of looking like a slug?
Asked recently why he decided to drop some pounds before heading into the 2011 Sprint Cup Series season, the driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, Stewart grinned before answering.

"I just wanted to feel better, actually," Stewart said. "I'm realizing I'm not 20 any more. I'll be 40 in May. It was just me sitting down and saying, 'Hey, I've got to pay better attention to this.'

"And honestly, Mark Martin is probably the greatest inspiration to all of us in this series on this. He's one of the most fit people out there -- especially for his age. He's heads and shoulders above most of us in fitness. He's a good mentor, and a guy to look up to. You look at him and say, 'Hey, he does it. I can do it, too.'

"I know we have a heck of a schedule, but he's found a way to make that part of his daily routine. That's really kind of part of my inspiration."

Viso and Sato in Lotus cars  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with this announcement.

01/30/11 Not only will Takuma Sato drive a green Lotus KV Racing IndyCar in 2011 our sources tell us EJ Viso will also be driving a green Lotus KV Racing car this year.  They may run a 3rd car as well, though we do not know if that will carry the Lotus colors or not.
If NASCAR had mandated the HANS device, Earnhardt would still be alive today  HANS Performance Products released a question-and-answer transcript on Tuesday with Jim Downing, co-founder of HPP, dealing with a number of safety issues surrounding the death of Dale Earnhardt in a last lap wreck in the 2001 Daytona 500.

Here are some of the most relevant questions.

Q: If Dale Earnhardt Sr. had been wearing a HANS Device during his crash at Daytona in 2001, would that have prevented a fatal injury?
: "We have learned over the years at HANS Performance Products that re-constructing accidents is an extremely difficult and complex chore. We rely on the professional experience of others and in this case there were different opinions by experts about the cause of the fatal injuries. With that in mind, I believe that when Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s car hit the wall and the belts from his safety harness were loaded by the impact that a HANS Device would have kept his head back. That likely would have produced a better outcome under the different scenarios that have been proposed by experts. This is what it seems like to me, but we don't really know for sure." More ...

Pirelli tires to have wear problem?  UPDATE Mercedes GP's Nico Rosberg echoed Hamilton's sentiments.

"I'm not concerned - that [higher degradation] will make races more exciting," explained Rosberg.  "We have always seen in the past [that] the most exciting races have been when the tires collapse in the biggest way, [like in] Montreal last year."

While some drivers have expressed concern about the situation, Robert Kubica refuses to get too concerned about it.

"I don't think they [the new tires] have changed so much that it will affect the feeling and the driving wise," explained the Renault driver.  "To be honest it's difficult to compare [as we are testing on a] completely different track, completely different car, so I cannot judge if it is the right direction or not.  But I think Pirelli has enough experience to judge themselves...they know how to build the tires to move in the right direction.  They are working hard and they will improve," he added.

02/03/11 After the first days of testing using the new Pirelli tires, the general consensus among the drivers is that the tires will degrade much quicker than last year's Bridgestones.

It is believed that Pirelli were instructed to create tires which wore out quicker because it is thought that this would create for more exciting racing as was seen at last season's Canadian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton for one is happy with the situation as it will force the drivers to make more than one pit stop

"Last year we obviously had one pit stop [in races] but now the degradation is massive on these tires, so it might be for some people they have to do two, or three pit stops for example," explained the Briton.

"I think it's quite good - I didn't actually like doing one pit stop last year, it wasn't as exciting as it had been in the past when we did two or three pit stops," he said.

"So I'm hoping that we have to do more this year because it adds a little more excitement to it."

Traction Battery Winner will be Toyota?  We used to have battery makers and car makers and little connection between the two. The lead acid battery in a car never controlled cost or performance and it became a commodity. Now we are in the decade of the hybrid electric vehicle to the extent that the three percent of new cars that are hybrids will rise to many times that percentage in ten years. Indeed, outdoor forklifts, military vehicles, some small aircraft and most electric buses are becoming hybrid. This is detailed in the new IDTechEx reports, “Electric Vehicles 2011-2021”, “Electric Buses and Taxis 2011-2021” and “Electric Aircraft 2011-2021”.

Toyota is the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles by value and the leader by a big margin in hybrid cars. Toyota obtained its hybrid batteries from Panasonic EV Energy of Japan, a joint venture with the world’s largest battery maker, Panasonic of Japan, formerly Matsushita. These were nickel metal hydride NiMH, because of its good cycle life, lighter weight and smaller size than conventional batteries. More ...
Montoya to re-sign with Ganassi  During the Rolex 24 last weekend, #42-Juan Pablo Montoya's co-owner Felix Sabates said the driver wasn't "going anywhere" and he expects the deal to be completed soon. Montoya's contract is up at the end of 2011. FoxSports
IRS after NHRA  A political action committee looking to replace the BCS bowl system with a playoff filed a complaint with the IRS last year, claiming three bowls were in violation of their tax-exempt status.

Now the National Hot Rod Association is facing a similar accusation, though not from a political group.

It's from one of the organization's members.

A longtime NHRA member filed an anonymous complaint with the IRS, claiming the drag racing organization has been operating more like a commercial business instead of furthering the sport and serving the 80,000-or-so members it represents as a nonprofit group. More ...

FIA may change F1 rear wing rules  The FIA is fully open to tweaking Formula 1's movable rear wing rules to ensure they are a success, after setting out initials plans for a 600-meter overtaking zone at each track.

F1 teams have got down to work with the movable rear wing technology in this week's Valencia test, but there remains a great deal of uncertainty about how the concept will work when it is actually put into action in the races.

However, AUTOSPORT rumors that teams have now been informed by the FIA about the plans for the first few races of the season as the sport gets to grip with ensuring it improves the spectacle without making overtaking too easy.

Sources have revealed that the FIA's current plan is for the overtaking zone - where the movable wing will be made active in races - to be the final 600 meters of a track's main straight. More ...
Williams set for 28pc Frankfurt stock float  
Frank Williams desperate to keep team alive
(GMM)  Williams' stock market floatation is close to being realized, according to an authoritative newspaper.

The British team announced recently that the option is being examined because it is the "best way to secure" its future.

A report in the Wall Street Journal this week said up to 28 per cent of the Oxfordshire based team will be floated on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange later this month.

Williams' new car for 2011, the FW33, features radically low rear packaging and a small gearbox, but it has failed to impress the Valencia test timesheets so far. More ...

Doornbos back to IndyCars?  UPDATE #3 Robert Doornbos, the Dutch driver who spent the 2009 racing season in cars of the HVM and Newman/Haas/Lanigan teams, wrote on his Website this week that he’s trying to build an Indianapolis 500 deal with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

Officials for Bobby Rahal’s team are hopeful of having an Indy program that continues with a few races later in the Izod IndyCar Series season, but general manager Scott Roembke said Doornbos is just one of several potential opportunities.

“Has Bobby Doornbos called? Yes, he has, but so has Oriol Servia, Jonathan Summerton, J.R. Hildebrand, (John) Edwards, Buddy Rice … hmm, I’m missing someone,” he said today. More ...

Raikkonen to drive for Peugeot at LeMans  Rumor has it that Kimi Raikkonen will be announced in Peugeot's LeMans lineup tomorrow as a replacement to Sebastien Loeb.
tv news
Versus President Jamie Davis Reportedly Ousted, Replaced By NBC's Flood  New majority owner Comcast is putting its own stamp on NBC Universal, as evidenced by a flurry of departures by high-ranking NBC executives. But when it comes to sports, NBC seems to be the one in charge.

An announcement is expected Wednesday that Versus president Jamie Davis will be relieved from his duties, Sports Business Daily reports.

Davis would be replaced by NBC Sports coordinating producer Sam Flood and NBC executive John Miller. More ...

CORRECTED: Report - corruption threatening India GP  UPDATE (GMM)  It seems not everything is running smoothly as India prepares to host its inaugural grand prix in October.

Last week, it emerged that Mark Hughes - the F1 boss of the race promoter Jaypee - had quit for "personal reasons" and switched to the Abu Dhabi project.

Now, it has emerged that Suresh Kalmadi, the official who initiated India's F1 project, has been stepped down on suspicion of corruption.

He was in charge of original F1 promoter the Indian Olympic Association, and is accused of hindering an inquiry of India's Central Bureau of Investigation. More ...

McLaren, Mercedes, to ape Renault exhaust trick?  (GMM)  Like the innovative new Renault, McLaren's unlaunched 2011 car reportedly also features a trick exhaust system.

That is the claim of Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, after the Lotus-sponsored R31 was revealed this week with the engine exhaust exiting at the bottom of the sidepod area.

"The MP4-26 apparently has the same trick," said the German report, referring to the car that will be launched in Berlin on Friday.

A report in Italy's Autosprint said the solution generates more downforce through the flow of air to the now mandatory single diffuser.

Renault has confirmed that the R31's exhaust layout is the reason for the car's slightly different engine note at Valencia. More ...

Chandhok to sign Friday driving deal with Lotus  UPDATE (GMM)  Karun Chandhok looks to have definitely secured a role with Team Lotus for 2011. The former HRT driver hinted recently that he is close to becoming the Tony Fernandes-headed team's reserve and Friday driver.

"Nothing is final until you have a contract in your hands," said the Indian.

That contract appears to have now been signed, given Chandhok's sighting early on Wednesday wearing a 'Team Lotus'-branded jacket. The photograph of Chandhok, standing alongside the team's driver development official and ex-Minardi driver Alex Yoong, was posted on Twitter by Fernandes.  Team Lotus' T128 makes its test debut at Valencia on Wednesday morning.

01/23/11 (GMM)  Karun Chandhok has hinted he is close to signing up as reserve driver with Team Lotus for 2011.

The Indian driver made his F1 debut with HRT last year but sponsorship issues meant he was dropped mid-season.

The PTI press agency quoted Chandhok, who turned 27 this month, as suggesting the move to Tony Fernandes' Malaysian team will be "a step up" for him.

"I like the idea of building an Asian team with Asian drivers, mechanics, engineers, PR and marketing people," he said. More ...

Ex-CART drivers to race for Jaguar team  The last time we looked, Cristiano da Matta and Bruno Junqueira were racing stock cars in Brazil and P.J. Jones was filling in for Robby Gordon in a few NASCAR races.

Once regulars in CART, all three found themselves without rides near the end of the last decade and wondering if their careers were over.

But, in what promises to be one of the feel good stories of 2011, this trio of open wheel veterans is being reunited in sports cars as they will compose three-fourths of the factory Jaguar ALMS GT team for Paul Gentilozzi.

An official announcement is expected Tuesday. SPEEDTV.com

Sponsor guru Brown could be next Ecclestone  (GMM) F1 marketing specialist Zak Brown has been named as a potential successor for the sport's long-standing chief Bernie Ecclestone.

American Brown, who is racing alongside Martin Brundle and Mark Blundell in this weekend's Daytona 24 hour race with his own team, also heads Just Marketing, the leading sponsorship agency that represents several high-profile formula one team backers. More ...
Valsecchi, Razia to join Team Lotus as testers  (GMM) After dropping out of contention for the final 2011 race cockpit at HRT, Davide Valsecchi could still be in formula one this year.

The Italian website 422race.com claims the 24-year-old Italian, who has raced in GP2 in the last few years and impressed F1 chiefs with his pace at the Abu Dhabi test last November, is set to join Team Lotus.

Valsecchi will be a test driver alongside young Brazilian Luiz Razia, who was with the Virgin team in 2010.

The Italian report said Valsecchi will get a half-day of testing with Lotus at the Bahrain test in March, and probably then two outings on the Friday mornings of the Australian and Malaysian grands prix.

And Razia, another GP2 driver, will do as many as "five Friday free practice" sessions in 2011, added the report.
Alfa Romeo to sell cars again in the US in 2012  UPDATE Speaking at the launch of the 2011 Ferrari F1 car yesterday, Luca di Montezemolo also commented on suggestions that Alfa Romeo could return soon to motorsports.

“As far as Alfa is concerned, everything is possible. The brand is extremely sporty and connected to Ferrari since the early days of motorsports. There are many possibilities.”

01/19/11 Carmaker Fiat SpA intends to extend a new labor deal, backed last week by workers at its Mirafiori, Turin plant, to other Italian plants, its chief executive said on Tuesday in a newspaper.

Sergio Marchionne told Italian daily la Repubblica that the labor deals form the backbone of Fiat's investments in Italy, where the company is planning to spend 20 billion euros ($27 billion) on its factories and produce new models.

"There is no alternative (to extending the deal to other plants). We can't live in two worlds. I hope that, as the (new) agreements are put to the test, the workers won't want to live in the past," he said in the newspaper.

On Saturday, Fiat won narrow backing from its workers for a labor contract that limits strikes and absenteeism in exchange for investment in Italy. Its Pomigliano plant backed a similar deal in 2010.

Marchionne reiterated that Fiat's Alfa Romeo brand was not for sale nor was the recently spun-off Fiat Industrial SpA heavy machinery and truck arm.

"The pipeline is emptying in the second half of 2011, and we see... the full Lancia range arriving, redone with the Americans," he said referring to Fiat's Chrysler affiliate in the United States.

"And thanks to Chrysler, Alfa will arrive in America with a 2,000 dealer network and will make a splash," he said.

[Editor's Note:  Given recent talks, might Alfa Romeo then be the brand Fiat might race in IndyCar starting in 2013 and beyond?]

Ford Mustang in Cup in 2013  Although Jamie Allison, Ford's director of motorsports, stopped short of saying the Mustang will replace the Fusion as the automaker's entry in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series in 2013, it's abundantly clear Ford is leaning heavily in that direction. "We like what's going on in Nationwide-we really do," Allison told Sporting News. "The more brand identity we have & and Mustang is the most identifiable brand we have in terms of racing and motorsports. So we've made it known that we'd like to see Mustang in NASCAR. We're going to see and track how the Nationwide Series is going and how the Mustang's impacting that and how much we can bring more brand identity into these cars, and then we'll make a decision on what we're putting in Cup." Sporting News
Mattel may build Hot Wheels track at IMS  IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials are working on a deal with California-based Mattel Inc. to build a life-size Hot Wheels track in the Speedway’s infield in conjunction with the centennial running of the Indianapolis 500 this May. IBJ.com
Liuzzi to DTM  According to AutoRacing1.com sources, now that it looks like Vitantonio Liuzzi will not land an F1 seat for 2011 he may drive for the Mercedes DTM team.  He has ties to Mercedes having run their engines in F1.
Bernie eyeing F1 races in Warsaw and Staten Island?  UPDATE Back in 2004, you may recall, there was much fanfare when it emerged that NASCAR’s sister company, the International Speedway Corporation (ISC), had bought a 676-acre parcel of land in a disused industrial sector of Staten Island, not far from Goethal’s Bridge, which links The island to New Jersey. The intention was to build a speedway to serve the New York metropolitan area. Part of the project was to include the development of a high-end shopping complex in the area, working with real estate company called The Related Companies, owned by Stephen Ross, the owner of the Miami Dolphins, best known for its $1.7 billion redevelopment of the Time Warner Center in Manhattan. The project went wrong when ISC ran into opposition from the local population which did not want to see any more traffic on the island and in 2006 it was announced that ISC was giving up and selling the land to KB Marine for $88 million, nearly $20 million less than it paid. That never actually happened because the company never came up with the money and in December the land was put up for sale again.

Things have not changed much in Staten Island in recent years but there has been a lot of talk about redeveloping the North Shore waterfront, all the way from the celebrated Staten Island Ferry to Mariners Harbor, not far from where the planned speedway was to have been built. The plan calls for several new or refurbished parks along the way, with space for farmers’ markets, performance spaces, yacht harbors, cafes and restaurants. At the same time there has been continued discussions about reviving the old rail links from the ferry along the same route, using light rail or trams. This all makes sense as Staten Island could benefit enormously from better transportation and from a little beautification. Tourists often catch the ferry across the harbor in order to get a cheap view of the Statue of Liberty, but they rarely leave the Staten Island terminal and look around. Joe Saward

01/28/11 (GMM)  Melbourne grand prix boss Ron Walker has named some unusual rivals who could take the country's formula one race from Australia.

As a spat between Melbourne's Lord Mayor and Bernie Ecclestone develops, Australian Grand Prix Corporation chief Walker warned that there are plenty of alternative hosts bidding to slot onto the sport's crammed annual calendar.

"The race will not leave here until 2015, that is for sure -- unless the government decides to talk to Mr. Ecclestone about termination," he told the local Herald Sun newspaper.

Insiders likened Ecclestone's angry response to Lord Mayor Robert Doyle's recent comments as the calling of a bluff, and Walker warned that Australia should risk its place in F1 at its peril. More ...

No test return for Heidfeld?  (GMM)  Mercedes is talking to potential candidates to become the team's test and reserve driver in 2011.

Before returning to the grid last year with Sauber, Nick Heidfeld started 2010 in the third role at Mercedes.

But the marque's head of marketing Joachim Schmidt suggested that a non-German will be appointed for this season.

"We already have two German drivers," he told the Bietigheimer Zeitung newspaper, referring to the unchanged race line-up including Nico Rosberg. More ...

De la Rosa close to McLaren test return  (GMM)  Pedro de la Rosa is close to agreeing a return to the McLaren team for 2011.

The Spaniard's contract as a Pirelli test driver is set to expire, after he was ousted by Sauber mid-season last year.

Before that, the 39-year-old was McLaren's long-time main test driver, and although it has been suggested he is set to stay with Pirelli in 2011, reports in the Spanish press on Thursday said de la Rosa could go back to his former British employer.

He said recently that the remaining vacancies on the grid are "reserved for drivers that come with a sponsor", admitting that he would agree to return as "a reserve or a tester". More ...

Was fire set to collect insurance money?  Fire Department officials continue to investigate a fire that destroyed a former NASCAR and IndyCar owner's $1.3 million home in Sheridan last year.

The home's owner, Lowell G. "Bob" Hancher, recently agreed to repay his victims nearly $3 million as a result of three separate fraud allegations.

Brian Harwood, an investigator with the Sheridan Fire Department, said Hancher's business dealings "create a lot of suspicions." The state fire marshal's office and Hancher's insurance company are involved in the investigation. More ...

Trouble brewing in Germany?  UPDATE This is an interesting article, if true it could cause a lot of problems for Mercedes in Germany. The reason being that Mercedes in Germany are cutting costs, reducing work force and demanding that the employees take reduced pay rises. At the same time they are supporting to the tune of $6M a Formula One driver from Scotland, whose population is just 5 million so they can’t really say it is for marketing reasons. The unions have already been alerted to high costs of Mercedes Motorsport department employed Michael Schumacher, with his large salary compared to their employees. Watch this space. At least there is some good news, it is good for Scotland and Paul Di Resta.

Trouble brewing at Mercedes over di Resta
01/27/11 The Force India F1 Team has announced that Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta and Nico Hülkenberg will be the team’s drivers in 2011. The team did not mention contracted driver Tonio Liuzzi in the official press release.

It is believed that di Resta has been given the second Force India drive in exchange for the free supply of the Mercedes KERS system, which would otherwise be costing the team in the region of $6 million, after the German manufacturer decided to hike the price of the system last autumn. This is in addition to an engine bill which works out at around $12 million, at the current rates of exchange. More ...

IndyCar could add Houston in 2012  
Champ Car raced in Houston a couple of years, but at a time of year too hot and humid so the race failed.  IndyCar would be smart to race in Houston in March
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard will meet with city officials today about a new push to get the Grand Prix of Houston back on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule in 2012.

"We continue to evaluate venues and promoters as we look to grow the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule in the future," Bernard said. "This trip is an opportunity to take a firsthand look at the area and see what potential opportunities may lie ahead for our sport in Houston, one of the largest markets in the country."

The Grand Prix of Houston was eliminated from the schedule in early 2008 when the top two open-wheel series in North America — the Champ Car World Series and the Indy Racing League — merged to form the IndyCar Series. More ...

Danica could end up at Petty Cup team  
Danica Patrick could become NASCAR's biggest star
Now that Richard Petty Motorsports is on firm financial footing, don't be surprised if Danica Patrick is part of a conversation about the organization's future. Financier Andrew Murstein, one of Richard Petty's partners in the revamped RPM, thinks Patrick would be an excellent fit for the Sprint Cup team, which currently fields Fords for AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose.

When 2012 arrives, Murstein would like to see a third car in the stable, and Patrick, who currently drives part-time for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series, is an intriguing possibility. Clint Bowyer of Richard Childress Racing is another driver who has caught Murstein's eye.

“Not that any of these guys are available, and not that we've spoken any of them, but two names that come to my mind of people that I think would be great for this brand would be Clint Bowyer – who I think is coming out [of his current contract] next year – and Danica Patrick would be very interesting, also…,” Murstein told Sporting News at a Richard Petty Motorsports press conference Wednesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. More ...

A Million Electric Vehicles on the Road by 2015?  In last night's State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called for the United States to "… become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015."  But talk is cheap. 

The IEEE-USA Electric Vehicles & Personal Transportation Workshop will explore the challenges and opportunities to make that vision a reality. The all-day event, at the Renaissance Austin (Texas) Hotel on Friday March 4th, will feature eight panels and more than 20 technology, industry, academic and policy experts.

Workshop focus areas include the electric vehicle market; charging infrastructure; plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and the electricity business; customer acceptance; managing PEV loads; electric vehicle policy issues; PEVs and the electric grid; and personal electric transportation. More ...

Porsche mulling diesel power for U.S  Audi and Volkswagen are working hard to push diesel products in the United States and it seems as though their corporate cousins at Porsche may be ready to join them. Rumor has it that the German automaker is considering a pair of oil-burners for our shores.

Porsche already produces a diesel-drinking Cayenne for Europe and it's been speculated that a Panamera diesel will appear on stage at the Geneva Motor Show. While the move will surely offend the Porsche purists in the States, it's a safe bet that diesel options will help lower the automakers average fuel economy figures – a problem Porsche has been dealing with for years.  Automotive News

Di Grassi could become Pirelli tester  UPDATE (GMM)  Luca di Grassi has dismissed reports linking him with a test driver role at Pirelli this year as "speculation".

But the Brazilian, who lost his Virgin race seat after just a single season in F1, admitted he might be interested in the tire testing role.

Reports said di Grassi, 26, could be set to replace Pirelli's secondary tester Romain Grosjean, who is returning to GP2 full-time in 2011.

"The news about Pirelli test driver role are just speculation at this stage but sure it would be interesting to understand the tire better," di Grassi wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. More ...

Sutil, di Resta and Hülkenberg for Force India  Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta will spearhead Force India’s line-up ahead of the 2011 season, sources close to GPUpdate.net have revealed prior to this afternoon’s press conference in Glasgow. Having been left out of the Williams squad, Nico Hülkenberg will switch to the Silverstone outfit as reserve driver.

Today’s media gathering comes later than expected for Force India, with winter testing beginning next week and numerous rumors having circulated the internet since the end of the 2010 season.

Although moves to the newly-branded Lotus Renault GP team had initially been anticipated for Sutil, the German remains at the team formerly known as Spyker for his fifth consecutive season. Scotsman di Resta will make his Formula 1 debut, having served as the outfit’s third driver before wrapping up the DTM crown in November. More ...

Two drivers out of running for HRT seat  (GMM)  Two candidates have reportedly fallen off the radar as HRT considers the completion of its driver lineup for 2011.

Arguably the most highly-rated driver in the running for the cockpit alongside Narain Karthikeyan this year was Italian Davide Valsecchi, who was comfortably the quickest of the new team rookies at last November's Abu Dhabi test.

But team boss Colin Kolles admitted recently that Valsecchi's sponsorship budget was not yet big enough for the drive, and Turun Sanomat in Finland now reports that he is no longer on the list of candidates. More ...

Driver simulators make Schumacher sick  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. 'Simulator sickness' does not explain Michael Schumacher's disappointing return to F1 alongside Nico Rosberg in 2010.  That was the gist of a statement issued by Mercedes following reports this week that the seven time world champion did not work in the team's Brackley simulator last year due to motion sickness.

A source had told Dutch website f1today.nl that while Rosberg's setup work was "largely done" by the time he got to a grand prix, "Michael begins with a basic setting" because of his inability to work effectively in the simulator.

But Mercedes clarified in a statement that the reports were wrong to say Schumacher, 42, has only been suffering from motion sickness since returning to F1 after an initial career spanning 91 wins.

"Throughout his career, Michael from time to time has been susceptible to simulator sickness which has affected the length of time that he can spend on a simulator," said the German team. More ...

F2 champ Soucek eyes move to IndyCars  UPDATE #3 Andy Soucek's crash during qualifying for the Superleague race at Beijing, China last October.

You've said your team will have four cars again, with Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Danica Patrick confirmed as three of the drivers. When will the rest of the plans be rolled out?

Michael Andretti: We have a sponsor summit next week, so that's when we'll start announcing things.

AW: Are you leaning toward a rookie driver or a veteran in the fourth seat?

MA: You'll have to wait on that. Stay tuned. Read more at AutoWeek

01/19/11 Word is that Andretti Autosport is looking at possibly putting 2009 F2 champion Andy Soucek of Spain in one of their IndyCars in 2011.  Sponsorship is needed.

F2 champ Soucek eyes IndyCar
2009 Formula 2 Champion and, for a period, Virgin Racing reserve driver Andy Soucek is set on exploring racing options in the USA as he feels that, without big sponsorship, getting a seat in F1 for 2011 will be very difficult.

Speaking in Dubai where he is guest driving for Seychelles Racing in the Motorcity 24 Hours karting race the Spaniard said, “It is very difficult to find options in F1 as most teams require big money for a drive or a large amount of sponsorship. It is becoming more and more like this as money is tight for the teams. I am working  on options in IndyCars for 2011.” More ...

NASCAR looking to change qualifying rainout procedure  The days of the starting order being set by rank in points when qualifying is rained out might be coming to an end. Multiple sources said after Monday meetings with NASCAR that plans are in place to set the qualifying order based on practice speeds, and the starting order based on practice speeds if qualifying is rained out. The qualifying order currently is set by a draw, with the team whose owner has the most owner points picking first. Under the proposed plan, which is expected to be announced Wednesday by chairman Brian France, the only way the starting order will be based on points is if both practice and qualifying are rained out. The sources said NASCAR remains consistent with its plan to change the points structure to a 43-1 format, giving 43 points for first, 42 for second and one point less for each spot through last. ESPN.com
Paul Di Resta a step closer to F1 with Force India  UPDATE #2
Paul di Resta
Paul di Resta, is set to be announced as the new man behind the wheel at Force India this week after weeks of speculation by fans and the media. The 24-year old Scot was test driver for the Silverstone-based squad last year and although his Italian team-mate Vitantonio Liuzzi has a contract already in place with Force India, his manager, Peter Collins, told BBC Sport, "Tonio will be in F1 this year."

"Will he be racing? I don't know. I've no comment to make at this stage.  The position has been very clear for some time and it is best to let the team make any announcement."

If the suggestions of di Resta joining the team are true, he is expected to have German Adrian Sutil as his team-mate for the 2011 season. More ...

Stewart could be in more trouble in Australia  The repercussions for the Tony Stewart fracas in Australia may still reverberate, and Australian media is now reporting that not only was the incident more serious than first reported, but that the possibility of formal charges being filed is still a very real possibility. After spending nearly a month in Australia vacationing and dirt racing, Stewart got into a confrontation with the co-owner of the Parramatta City Raceway Brett Morris, himself a former racer, on the final night of his trip last Saturday. Witnesses reported that Stewart was upset over the condition of the track and threw a helmet at Morris. Morris retaliated with his fist and the two exchanged several blows before being pulled apart. First reports said Stewart had sustained a cut over his eye but had been questioned and released by police. But as it turns out the injuries to Morris appear more serious and include a broken eye socket which will require Morris to undergo surgery next week. It also turns out that Stewart was placed in a patrol car, in the front seat, and then placed in a holding cell at the police station. He was later released and allowed to travel back to the US. According to one report Stewart was held for a couple of hours in the holding cell 'to reflect on the benefits of controlling his temper. See the full story at the Sydney Morning Herald
Report links Gribkowsky bribe to Ecclestone company  UPDATE
Bernie in hot water again
(GMM)  A German newspaper has published more details about its claim that Bernie Ecclestone paid a $50 million bribe amid the sale of F1's commercial rights five years ago.

Earlier in January, the sport's chief executive vowed to "fight it in the courts" if publications continued to allege he paid German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky a $50 million kickback when the rights were sold by BayernLB to F1's current owners CVC.

The newsmagazine Stern subsequently alleged that the payments to Gribkowsky were linked with a company called Petara -- a word made up from the names of Ecclestone's daughters Petra and Tamara.

Now, the Suddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) newspaper claims it has found "concrete evidence" about the Ecclestone link. More ...

racing news
A1GP to re-launch as A10  UPDATE #2 Open-wheel racing fans may recall A1GP, self-styled as the World Cup of Motorsport. The spec racing series pitted national teams against each other in identical machinery – the final iteration having been developed and powered by Ferrari  – on circuits across Europe and around the world. It was a promising idea (at least once organizers positioned it as a viable step on the ladder to F1 and not as a rival series), but financial troubles saw the series liquidated by the end of 2009.

Reports of A1GP's revival have been circulating ever since, but according to Autosport – the publication of record when it comes to international motor racing – the series will be back by next fall.

Few details were revealed, except to say that a "leading motorsport figure" (we'd guess a former F1 champion) will head the group of investors behind the effort, and that it will be renamed the A10 World Series (which hopefully won't be confused with the World Series by Renault).

While the previous A1GP series was balanced between European and overseas races, the new one will reportedly focus on emerging motorsport markets. So, figure on an Asia-heavy calendar with a number of races in the Gulf emirates and the Far East. As for the machinery, the new series could adopt the abandoned Ferrari chassis or go with a different design altogether. Source: Autosport More ...
Lukewarm Audi not ruling out F1 foray  (GMM) Audi has not ruled out entering formula one, its motor sport chief has admitted. Amid rumors parent brand Volkswagen is interested in F1's new engine formula for 2013, Wolgang Ullrich told the regional Donau Kurier newspaper that Audi is happy in DTM and Le Mans sports car racing.

"Nevertheless, Audi regularly assesses the situation in formula one," he admitted.

But he acknowledged that F1 is not Audi's first priority.

"From an image point of view, Audi already comes out high in consideration of 'sportiness' and 'sporting success'," insisted Ullrich.

And he believes that Audi's slogan 'Vorsprung durch Technik' (progress through technology) has not been compatible with F1 for "the past 15 years".

Melbourne to deep-six F1 race  Melbourne's mayor Robert Doyle believes the city should cease hosting the money-losing Australian GP F1 race after it's contract with Bernie Ecclestone expires in 2015.

In a column in today's Herald Sun newspaper he listed four possibilities for the future: that "Bernie Ecclestone will pick up his bat and ball and go home" and give the date to another nation; that Ecclestone will insist on a night race and the event moves "to a purpose-built track either at Avalon or Noble Park, or possibly elsewhere Sydney or Perth"; that Albert Park is upgraded and continues to host the race; or that Melbourne decides to walk away from F1 - which Doyle says is the best option for the city.

"The big stumbling block ... is the cost to the Victorian taxpayer," Doyle said. "In 1996 when the race was a combination of a four-day event and corporate sponsorship was far more generous than it is today, the race still needed to be underwritten by about $1.7 million. Last year it was $50 million. More ...

Newey to win 2011 F1 title  In an interview with Auto Moto und Sport Gerhard Berger predicted that Red Bull will win this year's F1 titles but not because of their drivers - rather it's because of Adrian Newey. Red Bull dominated last year's Championship, claiming 15 pole positions, nine race victories and four 1-2 finishes.

The team clinched the Constructors' Championship by 44 points over McLaren while Sebastian Vettel netted the World title at the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

"I do not see a chance for the others, unless the regulations change dramatically," Berger said. "Adrian Newey is quite simply in the area of aerodynamics a genius.  It would however be much, much better if driving genius would play the crucial role."

Lotus Ownership Stake at KV?  Possible big changes coming to KV Racing in 2011.  Rumor has it that Lotus Cars is poised to buy into the team this year, taking an ownership stake in the team it partially sponsored last year with Takuma Sato at the wheel.  If this rumor is true expect a large influx of Group Lotus personnel behind the pit wall in 2011, and at least)two green-and-yellow – or perhaps black-and-gold – cars this season.
What does Keith Olbermann's departure all mean for IndyCar?  [From the NY Post] Democrat loving broadcast liberal Keith Olbermann's countdown has finally come to an end. The liberal lip of MSNBC was unceremoniously dumped by NBC last night in a major shakeup that set tongues wagging across the broadcast world. Olbermann, in the middle of a four-year $30 million contract reportedly set to last until 2012, announced that last night's edition of his prime-time "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," would be his last.

Sources said network brass basically paid the pontificating pundit to leave by working out an agreement in which he would give up his show and continue to be paid. The garrulous gasbag will likely also have to stay off the air at least until fall under the agreement.

Last night, the unemployed Uberdork -- who was suspended from the network in November for making political contributions to the Democrats -- bid his farewell to fans in a long-winded segment at the end of his show, touting his program as a progressive platform that he felt spoke truth to power. More ...

HVM set to confirm de Silvestro on Monday  HVM has announced that it will hold a press conference with de Silvestro in Baltimore on Monday to reveal full details of its '11 program. Team boss Keith Wiggins hinted last month that HVM had secured significant new backing to ensure that de Silvestro could stay on.

"We've signed a multi-year agreement with a sponsor to secure Simona's future," Wiggins told SPEED.com

IndyCar to copy NASCAR restart procedures  IndyCar announced it was going to adopt two-abreast restarts on ovals this season, but, after some of its drivers and teams voiced their opinion, it now appears that IndyCar will copy NASCAR’s playbook to the letter.

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard is going to suggest to his senior management team that the lapped cars should be placed behind the leaders and also have the lead cars pit first under caution.

“I said the other day that we need partners and the drivers and owners are our partners so we’re listening. We want to do what’s in the best interest of the series,” said Bernard.

“I don’t think our drivers realized how many fans wanted this two-abreast restart and we want to make sure to do it in a way our fans approve.”

“That’s what a lot of us were upset about, not the double-file restarts, but the fact that you could have Milka Duno on the front row with the leader of the race,” said Tony Kanaan, the unofficial king of the restart.

“That’s not only crazy, it’s confusing to the fans, especially the ones who may be seeing their first race and wonder what is going on.” SpeedTV.com

Ferrari set to extend Marlboro sponsorship  (GMM) Marlboro is set to stay as Ferrari's title sponsor until at least 2014, according to a report on Thursday.

The German-language Motorsport-Total.com said it learned about the likely contract extension at the team's recent 'Wrooom' media event in the Italian Dolomites.

An official announcement could be made on January 28, when the famous team launches its 2011 car at its Maranello base.

Philip Morris brand Marlboro has remained in F1 long after the sport's total ban on cigarette advertising.

The team's so-called 'barcode' logo and livery was controversial in 2010, leading to the launch of a new logo for this year, which will be incorporated into the design of the 2011 car's livery.

"We see no obstacles to an extension," the report quotes a spokesman for Philip Morris International as saying.
Fauzy could make F1 race debut in 2011  (GMM)  Renault is not ruling out a grand prix debut this year for its new reserve driver Fairuz Fauzy.

The Malaysian, who has switched with the Group Lotus-owning carmaker Proton from Team Lotus for 2011, appeared on the Friday morning at a few grands prix last year.

Closely aligned with Proton, the 28-year-old could be promoted for a race debut towards the end of the season, Lotus Renault GP team boss Eric Boullier reportedly told Malaysia's Star newspaper.

The report said Frenchman Boullier advised that "if Fairuz did well at some point in time towards the end of the season, he would give him a shot at it". More ...

The Comcast-NBC Merger Affects the Future of IndyCar?  For the last few years, marketers have clamored about the need to bring in a "1" rating, especially when on network television.  With IndyCar races potentially moving to NBC in the future, achieving that mark becomes easier.  With ratings up, it becomes easier to sell sponsorships.  A win-win for everyone involved.

Right now, Versus stood alone in promoting its races.  Sure, a graphic might pop up on an ABC telecast to let viewers know the remainder of the IndyCar schedule or to promote a future ABC race, but for the most part, Versus was left on its own.  With the merger, this ends.

When NBC Sports begins its golf coverage with the Florida swing later this winter, it would behoove them and Versus to promote the beginning of the IZOD IndyCar season.  During the U.S. Open, you think NBC can't or won't work a few promotions in for coverage of the Iowa Corn Indy 225, which runs a week later on Versus? More ...

NASCAR may scrap points system  UPDATE #2 Tom Bowles from Sports Illustrated redid the 2010 points, using the possible new and simpler points system that NASCAR may go to according to an AP Report. Here is the final top 12:
1-Jimmie Johnson: 388
2-Kevin Harvick: 387
3-Denny Hamlin: 386
4-Carl Edwards: 340
5-Matt Kenseth: 314
6-Greg Biffle: 293
7-Tony Stewart: 287
8-Jeff Gordon: 279 (+1 spot over current system)
9-Clint Bowyer: 272 (+1)
10-Kyle Busch: 267 (-2)
11-Kurt Busch: 265
12-Jeff Burton: 232

But what about the bonus points, you're asking? That hasn't been divulged by NASCAR either, but let's pretend it's one point for leading a lap, two extra for leading the most and a three-point bonus for winning. So that would mean the max a driver could score per race is 48, leaving a possible 47-point swing between first and last place. More at the Sports Illustrated

01/18/11 Ramsey Poston, NASCAR managing director of corporate communications, said the sanctioning body has bounced several new competition ideas around to drivers and car owners in a recent series of town hall meetings. "NASCAR executives, including chairman and CEO Brian France, are in the process of meeting with drivers and team owners," Poston said in a phone interview Monday night. "In those meetings we have discussed a number of ideas for potential changes for the coming season, none of which have been finalized at this point." NASCAR president Mike Helton and vice president of competition Robin Pemberton will address 2011 rule changes in a news conference scheduled Friday at Daytona International Speedway. "We need to balance stories from past and look to the future to make things better," Speedway president Joie Chitwood III said from his home Monday night. More ...
Lotus to be third IndyCar engine supplier (With Cosworth)  UPDATE #4 AR1.com hears that the deal is close to being done to make it official that Cosworth will indeed do the Lotus IndyCar engine.

11/21/10 This SpeedTV.com video interview with Lotus Danny Bahar confirms our rumor below - Cosworth will almost certainly do the Lotus IndyCar engine.  He says that Lotus is already partnered with Cosworth to develop racing and passenger car engines.

11/19/10 Lotus just beat the Nov. 16 cutoff to get on board for the 2012 season. Bernard admitted the engine package was a surprise development.  "We never felt it was going to be an engine up until a couple weeks ago," he said. "They didn't feel they were going to be able to get it."

Cosworth has yet to be announced as the engine builder as we previously rumored, but we suspect it's because all the contracts are not in place yet between Lotus and Cosworth.  It is anticipated that the Lotus engine will also be a direct injection twin-turbo V6.  A 4 cylinder is at a distinct disadvantage and will require favorable rules to match a V6.  IndyCar has not worked on the 4 cylinder engine rules, and won't until a manufacturer says that is what they want to build.  All focus has been on the V6.

"Last March, one thing we learned really quick was that the fans wanted to see the 'spec' series go away," said Brian Bernhard, referring to the time when he took the reins of the series from its former boss Tony George. "That was the number one thing they said.

"Lotus is a renowned name in racing, with a long association with some of the greatest names of motorsports," he added in a statement. "We're honored Lotus has chosen to serve as an engine manufacturer for the first time with us.

"We are excited about the future of Indy Car racing with the addition of Chevrolet and Lotus as well as the continued involvement of our longtime engine supplier Honda. The IZOD IndyCar Series has the fastest, most versatile cars and drivers in the world, and now we have engine competition to provide even more excitement for our fans." More ...
Comcast-NBC joint venture approval expected Tuesday  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  The FCC today approved the Comcast-NBC Universal merger, "smoothing the way for the deal to close by the end of January." The U.S. Justice Department also is expected to approve the deal today, "with conditions." Comcast "will not formally gain control of NBC Universal until after the end of the company's next pay cycle, which is Jan. 28." The FCC voted 4-1 to approve the deal.

01/18/11 Versus, the albatross around IndyCar's neck may soon go away, and not a minute too soon.  Federal regulators are expected to vote Tuesday to approve Comcast and NBC Universal's joint venture, putting an end to a more than year-long review of a controversial union that will combine the nation's biggest broadband Internet and cable service operator with a television and movie powerhouse.  IndyCar is praying that Versus, a TV station almost nobody watches, will be renamed and pulled under the NBC label.

According to sources familiar with the thinking of the Federal Communications Commission, the deal is set to be approved in a four-to-one vote, with Democratic Commissioner Michael J. Copps dissenting. The senior member of the FCC has consistently expressed concern that the joint venture would harm the public interest as too much control of content goes into the hands of a company that also controls how consumer access the Internet and television. More ...

Hulkenberg offered Virgin seat  (GMM)  Nico Hulkenberg's manager Willi Weber has hinted strongly that the 23-year-old will have a "Friday" driving role in 2011.

"We have been thinking: shall we pause for a year?" admitted Weber, who has been busily scouring the driver market for a race cockpit for his German charge, who has been ousted by Williams in favor of the well-funded Pastor Maldonado.

"But in today's world you are too quickly forgotten.  So I think it is better for Nico to still have a presence with a good team where at least he can practice on the Fridays.

"That is the ideal alternative for him," added Webber. More ...

Williams to use interim car at first test  UPDATE (GMM)  Williams has cleared up a round of confusion about its plans for the debut of its 2011 car.

We reported earlier that the FW33 will be ready for the opening of the Valencia group test on February 1, with Rubens Barrichello at the wheel.

But Germany's Auto Motor und Sport muddied the waters this week by reporting that the British team will actually travel to Cheste with an "interim car", with the debut of the new car not expected until mid February.

Williams cleared up the confusion on Tuesday by announcing that the FW33 will indeed debut on 1 February, with Barrichello in charge until the middle of the second day of the test when his new teammate Pastor Maldonado takes over.

"The car will run with an interim livery so no roll out for photography purposes will take place," the team said in a statement.

"The team will announce an official launch of the FW33, complete with its new livery, at a later date," it added..

01/18/11 (GMM)  Five teams are likely to have not yet launched their 2011 cars by the time of the opening pre-season group test beginning 1 February.

That is the claim of Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, contradicting other reports that said Williams and Lotus will be ready with their new single seaters at Cheste's Ricardo Tormo circuit near Valencia early next month.

The report said Williams will likely have an "interim car" at the test rather than the new FW33, with a 2011 launch not expected until mid-February. More ...

Renault livery could break Canadian law  UPDATE (GMM)  Renault's new black and gold livery might fall afoul of strict anti-tobacco advertising laws in Canada this year. That is the claim of the Toronto based Globe and Mail newspaper, after the Enstone based team's newly Group Lotus-sponsored livery was launched officially last weekend at a racing car show in Birmingham.

Mario Andretti in Montreal, Canada with the John Player Special Lotus in 1978 after he had clinched the F1 world title that year
The 2011 Lotus Renault GP livery is a tribute to the Lotus cars of the 70s and 80s, whose black and gold colors were to promote Imperial Tobacco's John Player Special cigarette brand.

Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar recently played down the latter fact, insisting that the 2011 Renault livery will not have any "negative implications with potential tobacco advertising".

But a Health Canada spokesperson revealed that if a F1 car did resemble a cigarette packet whilst racing on Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, "tobacco inspectors would need to fully review to assess whether a violation of the Tobacco Act has occurred".

An Imperial Tobacco spokesperson said: "It is categorically against the law to present any likeness to a cigarette pack.

"If I were Lotus (Renault) ... I would be concerned -- I wonder if they are aware of the law in Canada." More ...

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