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Roger Penske 'highly unlikely' to pursue $5 million at Vegas
Penske says no to go at $5M prize
According to team owner Roger Penske, it's "highly unlikely" his team will field a fourth car for a non-IndyCar driver to win a $5 million bonus at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
After having the championship slip from his grasp at the season finale in 2009-10, Penske said he prefers to keep focus on the title with drivers Power, Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves— all of whom won races last year.
"I'd much rather win the championship than win the $5 million," Penske said. "I think there's other things we could do along the way to create more buzz. Now there might be some people who want to do it, and if they do, that's fine."
Overheard in St. Petersburg - 4UPDATE All 2011 IndyCar races will be broadcast live in Spain on the Canal+HD network. IndyCar has yet to announce their international TV broadcast plans for this year but we hear ESPN International will still handle the distribution.....Sebastien Bourdais was an innocent victim on Saturday. Conquest Racing's Sebastian Saavedra came out of the pits hard trying to get a late lap in Q1 qualifying but he came out right in the path of Bourdais. Saavedra's left rear clipped Bourdais' right front sending Saavedra spinning hard into the wall and breaking Bourdais' right front suspension, ending both their days. "Saavedra tried to get in front of me as he exited the pits but there was no room. He apologized to me," said Bourdais......We ran into former Champ Car driver Katherine Legge, who has been back in the USA since January trying to put an IndyCar deal together with the help of Gene Cottingham's Grand Solutions sports marketing and consulting firm. They report that a lot of CEOs know who Legge is and this has opened a lot of doors. They hope to put a deal together by Indy. On a more personal note, Legge is engaged to be married to German Peter Terting. A January wedding is planned.
03/26/11 According at AR1.com sources Raphael Matos will be in the AFS team IndyCar for all road course races plus the Indy 500. If additional sponsorship can be found they may run more races, but the focus is more on doing a full season next year with the new car. The team recently hired Neil Micklewright who ran The Forsythe Racing Champ Car team for years......The Telemundo sponsorship deal with Oriol Servia and the Newman/Haas team holds great potential to tap the Hispanic market for both the team and the series. We hear there will be discussions to add on-air IndyCar content to Telemundo in Spanish. Since Versus and Telemundo are both owned by Comcast this makes a lot of sense. They may go as far as even broadcasting races in Spanish, but not this year and even that has not been decided, but it sure makes sense, doesn't it?
There is a lot of speculation in the paddock as to whether the Japan Motegi race will happen given the earthquake, Tsunami and nuclear reactor leak. Randy Bernard said that will be the call of the race promoter.......Everyone is wondering which five drivers Randy Bernard and his team will pick for the $5 million bonus prize at the season finale in Las Vegas. Bernard said it would be unfair to announce who the leading candidates are because if the top 5 rank changes between now and then there would be hard feelings and a lot of questions asked. Mark C. Reporting from St. Petersburg.
Red Bull using 'start-only' compact KERS?UPDATE See related Hot News article.
03/26/11 (GMM) Red Bull is using an innovative super-compact KERS system this year, according to the latest paddock rumor.
After Sebastian Vettel powered to a dominant pole in Melbourne late on Saturday, FIA press conference moderator James Allen told the reigning world champion he had not noticed him pressing a KERS button during qualifying.
"We didn't use it in qualifying, that's correct," answered the German.
Asked why, Vettel said bluntly: "Not fully charged."
Long, Foss and Herbert Set Pirelli World Challenge Poles At St. Pete Track records were the common thread for all three classes of Pirelli World Challenge Championship drivers during qualifying on Friday at the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg Presented by Pirelli. Patrick Long, from Belleair, Fla., Eric Foss, of Dallas, Texas, and Tristan Herbert, of Reston, Va., set pole position and new records in the GT, GTS and Touring Car classes, respectively.
Long’s journey to the front of the grid for Saturday’s opening round at the 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary street circuit was an eventful one. Signed just this week to drive the No. 45 TruSpeed./Privacy Star/Entrust Porsche 911 GT3, Long arrived from another commitment in Germany in time for Friday’s on track activities. Quickest in the opening practice during the morning, Long set out during the 20-minute qualifying knowing he had a shot at pole position.
Di Resta brings free KERS to Force India - report (GMM) Vitantonio Liuzzi's current predicament is related to Mercedes and KERS, according to a British report. Ahead of Melbourne qualifying - preceded by an available four hours of free practice - the Italian has completed an out-lap and four corners at the wheel of struggling HRT's untested 2011 car.
He had a contract to be with Force India this year, but the Silverstone based team ousted him in favor of Paul di Resta and is believed to have compensated Liuzzi financially.
According to The Independent newspaper, Force India owner and boss Vijay Mallya decided to oust Liuzzi because di Resta, who won last year's DTM championship, was Mercedes' favored choice for the seat alongside Adrian Sutil.
Mercedes, with a long-term relationship with the rookie Scot and also Force India's engine supplier, is believed to have told the team that it could save a multi-million KERS bill if di Resta was given the drive.
Conquest Racing team owner Eric Bachelart worked throughout the off-season to add a second full-time entry for 2011 to his stables, and while he’ll have just one car for Colombian rookie Sebastian Saavedra this weekend at St. Petersburg, the team could double in size as early as Round 2 at Barber Motorsports Park.
Bachelart, the 1991 Firestone Indy Lights champion, hopes to continue his trend of introducing Indy Lights graduates to the IZOD IndyCar Series if the funding for England’s Pippa Mann can be finalized.
Initial plans called for Mann to share the No. 36 Conquest Dallara-Honda, with the 27-year-old taking the controls on ovals, but according to Bachelart, negotiations have widened to possibly include the remaining 16 races on the calendar.
“Yes, there were some ongoing discussions about sharing the car. The other scenario is it’s still possible that we have a driver that could do the whole season. I'm waiting to hear something before the end of the week so, basically, I’ll know any time now. So there's still two scenarios that are ongoing.” More at SPEEDTV.com
A week after a dispute with MotoGP, the Jerez circuit in southern Spain has it is close to bankruptcy and has asked for court protection from creditors to avoid seizure of the plant and complete bankruptcy. The owner of the circuit is Cijersa, a public company owned by the municipality of Jerez and the Andalusian Regional Government, which is currently in a delicate financial situation and unable to honor a debt of 18 million euros against two construction companies, and FCC Serviobras, who had carried out the restructuring of the circuit nine years ago and who had filed a lawsuit to recover what is due them.
Overheard in St. Petersburg - 2UPDATE We can now confirm that indeed Lotus has contracted with John Judd for their Indy Car engine. More in our rumor called Overheard in St. Petersburg - 3 to follow.
03/25/11 Although Bryan Herta Autosport only announced a 1-race deal (Indy 500) for Dan Wheldon, word on the street is that they are close to putting together a multi-race package with a number of sponsors. No sponsor was announced for the Indy 500 today............HVM has hired former Panther Racing engineer Brent Harvey to replace the departed Mike Cannon who is now with KV Racing........We hear that the first new body kit for the 2012 IndyCar will be on display this May at Indy and the first engine (we hear Honda) should be on the track by July Randy Bernard told AR1.com......We asked Bernard about the status of Lotus as all had gone quiet on their proposed engine for 2012. "They have had a change in plan and another engine builder is going to do their engine," said Bernard. "It is not going to be Cosworth but that is good because that saves Cosworth for another manufacturer in 2013." AR1 sources tell us that John Judd will now do the Lotus engine and the deal is done. As for Cosworth, we hear they are talking to a few European manufacturers..........On a related topic we hear that Jacques Villeneuve is trying to put another deal together for the Montreal NASCAR Nationwide race and if he were to make a run at the IndyCar final and the $5 million prize it will have to be with a top team.......We hear that Octane is pushing to run a Nationwide race in Toronto, which would kill the IndyCar event there. Secretly Octane is 50% partner with the France family in Canada and we all know that the France family has no love for IndyCar. If the Toronto IndyCar race has another bad year it just might, sadly, happen. Now if Villeneuve and Paul Tracy had a ride for Toronto it might have a chance of drawing a much bigger crowd........We hear that Oriol Servia's sponsor with Newman/Haas will be announced soon and James Hinchcliffe is still looking good for landing the second seat at Newman/Haas......Spotted Marco Andretti ignore two fans that were but 12 feet away hanging over a fence trying to get his autograph. He proceeded right past them, just ignoring them, and that in our book is wrong at so many levels. Every single driver in the paddock must spend every available minute selling the sport and making fans. There is no room in this sport for prima donnas. Mark C. reporting from St.Petersburg.
Overheard in St. Petersburg - 1 The IndyCar Series has gathered in St. Petersburg, Florida for its traditional season opener under sunny skies and temperatures forecast to be in the mid-80s all weekend. Honda's HPD Racing announced a innovative Refueling Safety Interlock System to be used starting in IndyCar this year. The system has an fuel probe electronic eye that detects when the refueling buckeye is engaged. When it is the car is automatically switched to neutral so the driver cannot accidentally pull away from his pit with the fuel hose still engaged, which leads to huge fires. Software in the ECU signals the Gearbox Control Unit to place, or hold, the transmission in neutral. The cost is $800 per car and will be used this year as well as on the new car. All teams will get it free this year from Honda. Honda is working with Cosworth on the electronics and the software code (free from Honda) that will go into the new ECU on the 2012 IndyCar. The system will be available to other race series as well.........Ran into Dale Coyne this morning and he confirmed that Sebastien Bourdais will only run the road course events. We thought he might do the Indy 500 too but Dale said that Bourdais has Peugeot testing in preparation for the 24 Hours of LeMans. Dale said he was still working on lining up a driver to fill in for Bourdais on the oval tracks.......We hear from our Europe sources that Robert Doornbos is definitively trying to lineup an IndyCar ride again, much to the chagrin of Sebastien Bourdais, who has had a heated past with Doornbos in Champ Car. Doornbos will still race Superleague until then......Look for Dan Wheldon to soon be announced to drive for Bryan Herta and Sam Schmidt in the Indy 500. Mark C. reporting from St. Petersburg
Coyne to soon announce BourdaisUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with yesterday's announcement.
Sebastien Bourdais will officially return to the Izod IndyCar Series this weekend when the season begins in St. Petersburg, Fla. Bourdais, a four-time Champ Car title winner--will driver Dale Coyne Racing's No. 18 Dallara-Honda, and he'll have quite a staff to help him.
In St. Pete, Bourdais will make his first IndyCar start since the 2005 Indianapolis 500. He finished 12th in that race.
Coyne said Bourdais is only expected to compete on IndyCar's street circuits and road courses this year because of conflicts with the oval portion of the schedule. Bourdais drives for Peugeot in the Le Mans Series in Europe. AutoWeek
More engine manufacturers for IndyCar? IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard was asked if other engine manufacturers might be joining Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus for 2013: "I don't think Ford will come in, honestly. But I think there's other European manufacturers that are interested."
With that said we question whether Lotus will still do an engine. All has gone eerily silent on that front, and we wonder if they bit off more than they can chew by doing both a body kit and an engine. We hear rumblings........
IndyCar may try to fill NFL void Randy Bernard wants IndyCar prepared to fill the Monday night sports entertainment void if the NFL's player lockout leads to missed games in the fall.
IndyCar's CEO has talked to Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage about staging a special Izod IndyCar Series race at the Fort Worth track if professional football doesn't have a resolution. Gossage is all ears.
"I told him, lay it on us, tell us more about it," Gossage said Thursday.
Neither man is ready to commit just yet, and Bernard said it might be mid-summer before a decision to move forward is made. But there have been exploratory conversations with television executives. Versus would have the right of first refusal.
The speculation going into Sunday’s start of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar season is that it will be Danica Patrick’s open-wheel racing swan song.
Patrick, in her second year as a part-time NASCAR driver in the Nationwide Series, has never said she will quit IndyCars after this season, but her smiling face and solid performances in the first four NNS races this season speak volumes for the little lady from Roscoe, Wisc., who turned 29 on Friday.
“I am not involved right now in any negotiations regarding next season,” she said at Bristol Motor Speedway last week where she wrecked her No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet near the end of the NNS race.
But all that means is that her handlers at International Management Group are doing it for her. And it says here that, unless the unlikely happens and she wins the Indianapolis 500 in May, Patrick will saying goodbye to IndyCar [with little results to show for it]. slam.canoe.ca
New McLaren exhaust is like Red Bull's (GMM) McLaren's new exhaust and floor is a last-minute copy of the Red Bull layout, rather than a reversion to a truly conventional system.
That is the claim of Auto Motor und Sport, after team boss Martin Whitmarsh ordered the scrapping of the ultra-complex 'octopus' exhaust within days of the Melbourne season opener.
It was believed that McLaren's fall-back option was the very conventional one seen in Barcelona testing, but the German report said the new MP4-26 layout is in fact reminiscent of the one seen at the rear and underneath Red Bull's pace-setting RB7.
Japan crisis likely to interrupt U.S. Toyota production Toyota Motor Corp. said production stoppages at its North American plants were likely because of supply disruptions resulting from the quake and tsunami devastation in Japan.
Toyota's vehicle-making operations in Japan have been halted since March 14, as the automaker assesses its supply chain.
The automaker told its U.S. employees, plant workers and dealers today that "some production interruptions in North America are likely. It's too early to predict location or duration."
Most of the parts for its North American assembly operations come from some 500 suppliers in the region. "We continue to receive parts from Japan that were already in the pipeline, limiting the immediate impact," Toyota said.
Staten Island to get f1 race?UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Bernie Ecclestone has not travelled to New York this week to discuss a possible formula one race on Staten Island, it has emerged.
Explaining that the F1 chief executive had broken his earlier plans to attend the Melbourne season opener, race boss Ron Walker said Ecclestone had instead accepted the invitation of New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.
But a New York City Hall official told the Herald Sun that there is "Nothing planned" between the 80-year-old and Bloomberg.
And when asked about the plans for a Staten Island grand prix, a spokesman for Bloomberg answered: "We don't have such a plan."
This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with this press release from the Newman/Haas team that Servia is driving for them.
03/11/11 With another test scheduled with NHR at Barber, Servia told Speedtv.com that negotiations are headed in the right direction and hopes for some positive news to emerge next week from Alabama. “Let’s say I feel a lot stronger on the possibility of joining NHR than the last time we spoke. Things are looking good. That’s all I can say right now.”
03/07/11 Last night on SPEED CENTER Robin Miller reported that Newman/Haas will run two cars with Servia and James Hinchcliffe.
03/07/11 "I'm not at liberty to say anything but we will be testing and racing," Oriol Servia said at the end of last week. "It's looking good. You will see us at the track. It's hard to get the funding but we've been working very hard and I'm excited that we will soon have an announcement."
(GMM) Dietrich Mateschitz has once again refused to rule out Red Bull producing its own engine for formula one.
The team's collaboration with Renault has deepened with the new sponsorship by luxury Nissan brand and sponsor Infiniti, but owner Mateschitz said the new rules for 2013 means the idea of Red Bull making its own engine is "no longer so absurd".
In recent years, Red Bull has admitted its concerns that the Renault engine is not up to speed with Ferrari and Mercedes.
IndyCar to name new VP of TechnologyUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.
03/21/11 Will Phillips, a respected engineer and designer with ties to open-wheel and sports cars, will be named vice president of technology for INDYCAR on Tuesday reports SPEEDTV.com.
"I cannot imagine a better candidate for that position," Mike Cannon told SPEEDTV.com, Cannon is a veteran engineer who is joining Tony Kanaan at KV Racing and who worked with Phillips at HVM for four years in Champ Car.
"Will is very, very bright, technically savvy, even-tempered and fair -- a helluva package -- and Tony Cotman hit a home run with this selection."
Cotman, who is in charge of the new car/engine package along with the rulebook for 2012, welcomed Phillips to his first day on the job Monday.
"I said here's all the problems, I'll check in later," laughed Cotman, who has spent the past four months working on the rules. "There may be a few people who still don't know him but he's very sharp and has a great reputation. "I think he'll be very good for Randy (Bernard) and the series."
2011 opener could be Melbourne's last blastUPDATE #2
Bernie Ecclestone appears to have already written off Melbourne
With Melbourne’s contract due to expire in 2015, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle voiced his opposition to its escalating costs at Albert Park, claiming it was no longer needed.
That prompted Formula One chief executive Ecclestone to counter that the sport “didn’t need” Australia on the calendar.
Australian Grand Prix promoter Ron Walker moved to calm the waters on Tuesday, claiming that Ecclestone appreciated the value of Melbourne and stressing there is an option to extend.
“There is a five-year option there that goes either way, and Mr. Ecclestone recognizes that this is a great city to come to.
“It is like Montreal. They lost it, and then they turned around and wanted to get it back. It is one of these things that advertises the city on free-to-air television....It is an amazing sport to help publicize the city.”
Economy to blame for empty Bristol seats?UPDATE #2 The fans spoke loudly on Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway. Most from their dens and living rooms.
The number of empty seats in the 160,000-seat facility, which a few years ago was the toughest ticket in NASCAR, raised huge red flags. Official attendance figures said 120,000, but the stands appeared not much more than half full. In 2009 the track celebrated 55 consecutive sellouts dating to August 1982. So what were the fans saying?
The Bristol Facebook site suggests many are turned off by the two- and three-wide racing we've seen since the track was repaved and reconfigured from a one-groove track in 2007. They miss the fender-bending action that made tempers flare because the only way to pass was to bump somebody out of the way.
Kanaan signs with IndyCar team for 2011UPDATE #4 See related announcement today
03/19/11 We are upgrading this rumor to 'fact' as we hear Tony Kanaan has signed as KV Racing's third driver for 2011. His teammates will be Takuma Sato and EJ Viso.
03/10/11SPEED.com can reports that Tony Kanaan is all but signed, sealed and delivered to the Indianapolis-based team co-owned by Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser.
Kanaan was traveling in his home country of Brazil and unavailable for comment but earlier this week he sent out a message on his Twitter account to his fans that said: “I will have a good ride in 2011.”
KV Racing general manager Mark Johnson said Thursday evening:
“I don’t think it’s any secret we’d love to have Tony and we’ve been working hard to make it a reality but it’s still a work in progress.”
Tracy or Empringham to Conquest?UPDATE #3 With AR1.com sources telling us that Kanaan has signed with KV Racing, one of only a few seats left for Paul Tracy is Conquest Racing. Dale Coyne has yet to announce his lineup, though it looks increasingly likely Bourdais will land one of Coyne's seats. Newman/Haas has not announced their full lineup yet, but Servia and Hinchcliffe have the inside line there. HVM could add a 2nd car if the money was there to do it.
02/16/11 Rumor has it that David Empringham could get the Conquest seat instead of Paul Tracy but it is highly speculative.
02/05/11 "I've talked to Eric Bachelart [Conquest] a lot over the last month and he keeps saying he wants to get more serious," Tracy told the Indianapolis Star.
"He wants to move up, and you can't do that with ride-buyers. He's been proactive and aggressive. He's working hard."
Tracy said he had some sponsorship he could bring to teams for 2011, but not enough to secure a full-season deal.
"I've got a million dollars lined up, I'm talking to teams, and it's like I'm a beggar on the street," he said. "One million dollars is like 10 cents to team owners."
Other drivers in contention for Conquest's two-car team include its 2010 driver Bertrand Baguette, Indy Lights champion JK Vernay - who tested for the squad this week - and Sebastian Saavedra, who contested the 2010 finale for Conquest.
01/19/11 According to SPEEDTV.com’s Robin Miller, Paul Tracy is working with Eric Bachelart to try and put together a full-time IndyCar deal for 2011. We have updated our 2011 IndyCar Silly Season Page.
World Champion Sebastian Vettel thinks the new F1 rules are over the top
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has refused to rule out a drivers' strike amid concerns about new rule changes in F1. The new world champion has been a vocal opponent of some of this year's changes, particularly the increased driver workload due to the adjustable rear wing.
"Most drivers agreed it could be a safety issue," the German is quoted as saying by the Mirror.
With chairman Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa, 23-year-old Vettel is a director of the safety oriented Grand Prix Drivers' Association.
"The most important thing is that the drivers are together," he said. If we all agree on something then we can be very powerful. We can say, 'ok, we are not racing'. That doesn't necessarily mean we will go on strike. We'll try to find a solution with the FIA first," added Vettel.
Many drivers have inquired about IndyCar's $5 million bonus offered for winning the season-ending race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October. Alex Zanardi has an invitation. The popular two-time CART champion said Friday in a telephone call from Italy that he's considering the opportunity.
"We had a conversation about it," Zanardi said of a recent telephone call from IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard, "but I didn't think he was serious."
Bernard certainly is. With heroes hard to come by, Bernard's goal with the bonus is to bring emotional ties back to the Izod IndyCar Series. No driver fits that better than Zanardi, who won CART titles for Ganassi Racing in 1997 and 1998.
Zanardi lost both legs and most of the blood in his body in a 2001 crash in a CART race in Germany. He was leading when he was forced to make a late pit stop, and he lost control trying to blend back in. Alex Tagliani couldn't avoid him, splitting Zanardi's car in half.
Dustin Long of the Virginian Pilot talked with Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition for NASCAR, and asked him about any major changes for the cars for Talladega. There had been some talk of major changes to the radiator or a different radiator to control how long the cars can run in that two-car draft as they did at Daytona. Said Pemberton: "Any possible change of any type of cooling has been toned down quite a bit. We're working with the teams on some parameters which we're not ready to go public yet, but nothing is earth shattering. I would say the changes would be very minimal.'' Virginian Pilot
ORECA Considering 2012 IndyCar Aero Kit French sports car constructor ORECA, known in recent years for its line of aerodynamically impressive Le Mans prototypes, has been evaluating what it would take to the ranks of aero kit constructors for IndyCar’s new 2012 chassis.
Speaking to SPEED.com from the paddock in Sebring, Florida, ORECA technical director David Floury says he’s had the aero kit regulations on his desk for some time, and believes the Hugues de Chaunac-led company is ready to deliver a competitive aero kit directly to a team or an auto manufacturer.
IMS board reinstates Anton GeorgeUPDATE Randy Bernard said both Tony George and the board deferred on an opportunity to interfere when he was negotiating to bring Firestone back as tire supplier.
"I stayed so confidential on negotiations with Firestone because I didn't need them leaked in any capacity that could hurt our relationship. It was very difficult and stressful," Bernard said. "I could have seen if he was going to get involved in wanting to know more, and he stood behind me. They all have. I have to give him 110 percent of my time. I want this series to succeed so much. If it fails, they won't say it's because of them. It's because of me. So far they've been outstanding, hope it continues to go that way."
Bernard said he found George "very gracious" during a three-hour dinner, discussing family and personal lives more than racing business.
"He's family. He should be a part of it," Bernard said. "I think I remain optimistic they continue to let me do my job as they have. He has not tried to interfere. Not that I don't want his advice. If he has good advice, of course. I'm sure we'll talk more."
Look for NASCAR to ensure no Sprint Cup driver races in Vegas Richard Petty said former open wheel standout A.J. Allmendinger, currently driver of his No. 43 Ford in Sprint Cup, can vie for the $5 million bounty on a win in the IndyCar finale at Las Vegas by a non-series driver if he wants. Sort of. The Vegas race would be run the day after a Chase for the Championship Sprint Cup event at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"That'd be his call," Petty said. "Comes down to end of deal, we'll be looking where we're at in points and Chase. Lot of decisions made around there."
But if Allmendinger, who is currently ninth in points, makes the cut ...
2013 Shelby GT500 to boast over 600 horsepower Car and Driver reports that the 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 will boast as much as 620 horsepower. Naturally, the powerplant providing all those ponies will be a supercharged V8, in this case bored out to displace 5.8 liters instead of the 5.4 we've been seeing for the last several years.
Car and Driver's math tells us, assuming the power and weight estimates are in the ballpark, to expect a scorching 12.0-second quarter mile time from the 2013 GT500, a top speed that could be as high as 190 miles per hour and a sticker price of roughly $60,000.
For what it's worth, Chevrolet is estimating that the supercharged and intercooled 6.2-liter LSA V8 engine that will power its Camaro ZL1 – the top run (so far) of Chevy's muscle car lineup – will put out around 550 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque. Naturally, that's all subject to change...
Is Alfa Romeo for sale? Volkswagen sure does seem set on adding Alfa Romeo to the group and already has plans for the brands development, should VW get it from Fiat. Despite Fiat repeatedly saying that Alfa is not for sale, VW has already planned the development for the Italian brand.
The rumors say that Alfa would get direct assistance from Porsche in the form of the new flat-four engine that is currently under development. This engine would then be used in mainstream Alfas, helping to set the cars apart from other brands within the VW stable.
Japan MotoGP race could be cancelledUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. MotoGP's Japanese round has been postponed in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the nation last week.
The Motegi event had been set for 22-24 April, but was always in doubt with Japan presently facing a massive relief and reconstruction effort, continuing problems with damaged nuclear facilities, and power shortages.
A spokesperson from the FIM, motorcycling's governing body, confirmed to the Associated Press that the race would be rescheduled.
03/14/11 MotoGP commercial rights holder Dorna Sports has expressed its full support for Japan as the country continues to slowly recover from the earthquake and subsequent tsunami which has caused mass destruction in the country. The Spanish company adds that there is no rush in making a decision over this season’s Japanese Grand Prix.
The Motegi race is currently set to take place on 24 April, although Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta stresses that thoughts are with those involved in the tragedy.
NASCAR drivers know they are inferiorUPDATE "The bottom line is us trying to gain credibility, to say that our drivers are the best drivers in the world," Randy Bernard said. "They're the fastest, most versatile drivers in the world. That's really what this is all about, is putting that out there to say, 'If you don't believe it, come take a look.'"
You won't see NASCAR's champion trying IndyCar and exposing how bad he might be
[Editor's Note: And if NASCAR, who claims they have the best drivers, let their drivers race in IndyCar and they lost, then they would lose the best driver claim. Hence why it is OK for other drivers to come to NASCAR at a disadvantage and look bad, but NASCAR does not want the reverse to happen. So you won't see many, if any, Sprint Cup drivers going after the $5 million as it may expose the real truth about NASCAR drivers.]
The other bottom line is, well, the bottom line. Last year's season-ending race at Homestead was televised on the cable channel Versus; ABC will televise this one.
"Our whole key to this is last year we did a 0.3 rating on our championship race," Bernard said. "In my opinion, that's the best-kept secret in motorsports. If we can't do a 1.5 or 2 rating on network television, I would consider it a failure."
IndyCar ramblings from Barber test Mike Conway is running in one of Danica’s cars, in GoDaddy colors today. The buzz at the media luncheon was that Conway will be someone to really watch this year with the Andretti group behind him.
The rookies seem to be showing fairly well on the time sheets so far, but buzz seems to indicate that the top teams have nothing to prove here and are working on specific tuning and other things. We might see some time sheet showing toward the end though.
NASCAR put kibosh on Indy/NASCAR deal According to AutoRacing1.com (AR1) sources, NASCAR President Mike Helton put a stop to the proposed $20 million prize to any driver that can win the Indy 500 and Charlotte 600 on the same day. We hear he threatened to pull the Brickyard 400 from Indy if IndyCar went ahead with the deal.
If true, it acknowledges the speculation that NASCAR views IndyCar as an enemy (they always have and could not wait to see CART IndyCar die) and will do everything to ensure that IndyCar does not get any positive PR from NASCAR drivers that may choose to try the double.
Jakes to test for Dale Coyne While many were expecting Dan Wheldon might drive the second car of Dale Coyne at Barber this week during testing, we hear James Jakes will be in the seat instead. The driver from Leeds, England, is already under contract with the Coloni team for the GP2 Series.
Andretti to run Indy 500UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's Andretti Autosport Press Conference currently underway here at Barber Motorsports Park where the IndyCar Series is gathered for preseason testing.
John Andretti to drive for cousin Michael's team
It appears John Andretti, Richard Petty and Andretti Autosport will work together to file an entry for the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500.
The group, along with representatives of Window World, which has sponsored Andretti in the Indianapolis 500 in recent years, has scheduled a press conference during IndyCar Series testing Monday at Barber Motorsports Park to unveil what is being called a fifth Indianapolis 500 entry for Andretti Autosport.
Andretti finished 30th last year at Indianapolis, driving a Window World-sponsored entry fielded in a joint effort by the King of stock-car racing and Andretti Autosport, which is owned by John Andretti’s cousin Michael.
BBC may dump F1 (GMM) British media reports say the national broadcaster BBC is considering abandoning its television coverage of formula one.
The move, with senior managers reportedly also considering dropping coverage of the famous Wimbledon tennis tournament, is amid the BBC coming under pressure to cut 20 per cent from its budget by 2014.
The Guardian said the BBC, having taken over Britain's F1 coverage from commercial broadcaster ITV in 2009, currently spends 40 million pounds ($64 million) on the sport per year.
Bahrain GP postponed until November, or notUPDATE #6
Adrian Sutil at last year's Bahrain GP
Hopes of a revival of the Bahrain Grand Prix this year took a turn for the worse on Sunday as police and protesters again clashed on the streets of Manama, with teargas and rubber bullets being fired. The battle took place when peaceful protesters blockaded the landmark Financial Harbor. Police attacked with tear gas and rubber bullets and pushed them back towards the Pearl Roundabout, the scene of previous battles, but the result was that thousands took to the streets and the police were pushed back by the angry crowds to Financial Harbor. The economy is suffering badly at the moment with all tourism having stopped and the banking industry trying to decide whether to leave the island. There were other clashes reported further south on the island, towards the Bahrain International Circuit, where there are a number of large royal palaces. Joe Saward
03/03/11 Formula 1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone has ruled out a summer slot for the Bahrain GP, and is aiming to have the race at the end of the season instead. Ecclestone had suggested earlier this week that Bahrain could be rescheduled to the summer following its cancellation as the opening race of 2011. But speaking to Britain's BBC on Thursday, the F1 boss suggested the Sakhir race could be slotted in around the end of the season. He insisted he will do everything possible to not lose the race this year.
Williams might start 2011 without KERSUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Williams has revealed that it will be using KERS during the season-opening Grand Prix of the year in Melbourne, with the team opting to stick with its unit despite early teething problems in testing. The Grove-based outfit announced the news on Saturday, with the final pre-season test coming to a close at Barcelona.
Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado have both endured KERS related technical troubles behind the wheel of the newly-designed FW33, but Williams is confident that no such issues should occur when the upcoming Formula 1 campaign gets underway on the weekend of March 25-27.
According to Williams' official Twitter feed, Technical Director Sam Michael was at working at Grove to asses the situation, and has since decided to use the system in Australia: “Reviewed KERS problem and good news is that we'll be racing KERS in Melbourne."
Another new IndyCar team ready to join ranks We have had this team on our 2011 IndyCar Silly Season page for months. AFS Racing owner Gary Peterson said last year that he would explore possibilities to enter the IZOD IndyCar Series full time in 2011. The team is on its way with the purchase of two cars and a Honda engine lease agreement.
The team, which hasn't named a driver, won't participate in the Open Test on March 14-15 at Barber Motorsports Park. The goal is to compete in the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 27, according to general manager/vice president of operations Neil Micklewright.
"It is impossible to overestimate the challenges that await us in the IZOD IndyCar Series," said Neil Micklewright, formerly of Forsythe Racing. "We are assembling a first-class crew with which to build and enter reliable, fast cars for AFS Racing. The technical and performance issues are great, but we can rise to the challenge as we seek to establish ourselves in the premier form of motorsport in North America.
Sahara Hotel & Casino closing in May; the NASCAR Cafe with it? Sahara Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas announced that it plans to close on May 16, 2011. The hotel houses the NASCAR Cafe, no word on the fate of the attraction/restaurant, but it is assumed to be closing as well. The NASCAR Cafe offers American fare on the Las Vegas Strip, features authentic NASCAR stock cars and the world's largest Pontiac Gran Prix stock car, designed by Dale Earnhardt. The Sahara Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas opened its doors in 1952 and offers 1,720 classically styled guestrooms and Las Vegas suites decorated in a Moroccan motif. Sahara Hotel & Casino
Audi or Porsche could make F1 foray, VW NASCAR Foray (No)UPDATE #4 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Volkswagen quashed speculation on Thursday that it could expand its motorsport activities to include NASCAR and Formula One. "Nothing for us. There is certainly the one or the other person out there in the world that would wish for that, but we don't have that on the program," said Ulrich Hackenberg, head of technical development at the Volkswagen brand, when asked about NASCAR. "I should know what I am talking about, since it would come out of my budget." He also ruled out any interest in joining Formula One. There has been speculation for months over whether VW would enter NASCAR with a factory team to bolster its appeal in the U.S. market, where it lags Japanese and Korean carmakers by a large margin. Yahoo
11/20/10 A NASCAR official confirmed the sanctioning body has a meeting scheduled with Volkswagen in January. While Volkswagen competition representative Hans-Joachim Stuck emphatically denied any interest in American stock cars at Homestead one year ago, in a recent interview with Financial Times Deutschland the former racer discussed possibly taking the brand to Formula One and NASCAR. Reports earlier this month confirmed VW wouldn't pursue F1 after all. When VW unveiled its new assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., in September, Dr. Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the board of management at Volkswagen AG, announced to 700-plus dealers from the U.S. and Canada that he aspired to take his brand "to the top of the auto industry by 2018." Certainly, NASCAR's "marketing (platform)" could be the perfect vehicle to accomplish that task. VW holds the distinction of being the largest automaker in Europe. In the U.S., however, recent tallies from October show VW of America only holding a 2.1 market share of cars sold, according to the Wall Street Journal. FoxSports
10/26/10 Volkswagen could have a decision over whether to enter Formula1 in 2013 before the year is out after team manufacturer’s motorsport representative Hans-Joachim Stuck revealed talks will be opened in November.
Volkswagen has been tipped to make the move into F1 for several years, either in its own capacity or under the banner of one of its subsidiaries.
While racing as Audi was mooted for some years, a recent collaboration with Porsche could see the legendary German name return to F1 with backing from Volkswagen.
A discussion over these plans is now scheduled to take place next month, with a possible final decision before the year is out, though any planned debut would be no earlier than in 2013 when engine regulations are expected to change.
Is VW power in works for Red Bull team?UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Volkswagen has delivered a fresh blow to speculation the German giant is eyeing a foray in formula one. The dominant Red Bull Racing had positioned as an ideal carmaker partner for the Wolfsburg-based group, but Ulrich Hackenberg ruled out F1 as well as NASCAR.
"Nothing for us," the brand's head of technical development is quoted by Reuters, referring to both premier motor racing classes.
"I should know what I am talking about, since it would come out of my budget."
It is, however, rumored that VW could announce a foray in the world rally championship at the Dakar rally celebrations later this month.
Sebastien Bourdais and Martin Plowman to Dale Coyne RacingUPDATE #3
"There're a couple little things to work out," Coyne said when asked about signing Bourdais while testing at Sebring. "Everything should come together here. It's a fluid beginning of the season for a lot of people. We're happy with him and I think he's happy with us, so we'll see what we can work out."
"We knew we needed to put some people together," Coyne said. "A couple good people became available and obviously when you have a driver of his caliber, you have more people that are interested, so it all kind of works together. It's good for what he wanted. It's good for what I wanted."
"If he's going to pay me to come and race for him, and there's not the right people around, he might as well just save the money because I'm no super hero," said Bourdais, who was released from Scuderia Toro Rosso midway through the 2009 season, then raced briefly in Superleague. "I'm a good guy if I'm surrounded by quality people and a good team. There is no magic in this. You need the right things to get it right, and you're going to go up against four Ganassis and three Penskes and four Andrettis. So yeah, you can't say it's going to be all right. It doesn't work like that."
Octane Racing Group looking to snatch Toronto IndyCar race
Attendance is down over 50% since the Champ Car years in Toronto. Can a new promoter turn it around?
The owners of the Canadian Grand Prix Formula One race in Montreal and the IndyCar race in Edmonton are on the prowl for a new racing opportunity and have locked their sights on the Honda Indy Toronto.
Francois Dumontier, CEO of the Octane Racing Group, told a Montreal Board of Trade breakfast meeting on Thursday that his company wants to grow its brand beyond Montreal and Edmonton.
The current Honda Indy Toronto promoter — Green Savoree Racing Promotions — is seeking an extension on its deal to run the race on the Exhibition Place temporary street course.
Up until Dumontier’s announcement, an extension seemed pretty much a given.
A replacement for Bernie? Sky TV obviously has a good source within CVC Capital Partners, or at least someone who is happy to use the media outlet to his/her advantage. A while ago Sky broke the story about CVC investigating the goings-on regarding the purchase of the Formula One empire and now it has revealed that CVC is sniffing around possible candidates to have “a senior role at the helm of Formula One motor racing”. The last time I looked the expression “at the helm” meant “in charge” or “in command”, which means that, if it is true, CVC Capital Partners may be wanting someone other than Bernie Ecclestone to run the Formula One group. That is a pretty radical story when you stop and think about.
Jacques Villeneuve. 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner and CART IndyCar champion, who went on to win the 1997 F1 World Championship, is reportedly considering a comeback to open-wheel racing to chase the $5m bonus on offer from the IZOD IndyCar Series to an "outsider" who can win the season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
AUTOSPORT reports that Villeneuve is in discussions with IndyCar regarding one of the five "wild card" spots that will be available for the Oct. 16 race. Villeneuve had not raced in North American open-wheel racing since quitting CART for F1 with Williams in 1996 and, barring a brief flirtation with Lotus last year, has generally dismissed prospects for returning, preferring instead to focus on NASCAR racing. He has made 15 starts across all three tiers of NASCAR's national series over the past four years.
Firestone dumping IndyCar for NASCAR? Goodyear's contract with NASCAR expires in 2012, the very same year that Firestone leaves the IndyCar series. Speculation is that Firestone is going to replace Goodyear in NASCAR and show the NASCAR boys how to make tires that don't explode.
Baumgartner tweet prompts HRT rumorsUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' with today's Liuzzi announcement.
02/17/11 Zsolt Baumgartner, Hungary’s only Formula 1 driver, has got the rumor mill running in over time after he declared on Twitter that he has a big announcement on Friday, 18 February. Baumgartner tweeted on Tuesday: “Is everyone looking forward to my big announcement on Friday? ”
This has prompted speculation that he will fill the second HRT seat alongside Narain Karthikeyan for 2011.
Baumgartner made his Formula One race debut at the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix, substituting for the injured Ralph Firman in the Jordan team; he also took part in the Italian Grand Prix that year.
Liuzzi set to secure HRT race seat - reportUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.
(GMM) Vitantonio Liuzzi is close to securing the final race seat on the 2011 grid. That is the claim of the Spanish newspaper AS, despite Italian Liuzzi's former Red Bull teammate Christian Klien saying on Sunday that he is still in the running.
"The last details are still missing but the agreement between Hispania and Liuzzi is about to be formalized," read the report.
29-year-old Liuzzi, who was dropped by Force India despite having a contract for 2011, tested HRT's 2010 car recently, as did another contender Giorgio Mondini.
More ALMS TV rumors Rumor has it that the ALMS will soon announce that ESPN will also do international distribution through various ESPN outlets including both TV and online TV via ESPN 360. As with most race series, the ALMS was not able to get any traction on SPEEDTV with regard to TV ratings.
Voodoo economics still at work propping up Grand-Am
The Grand-Am race in Homestead on Saturday saw near zero race fans in attendance. The reader claims it must be voodoo economics propping up the series.
A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, I could not help but notice that you could shoot a cannon into the grandstands at Grand-Am races and not hit anyone. Saturday's Grand-Am race in Homestead was no different and I include a photo as proof. Races are broadcast on Speed, which gets low TV ratings. So with no money coming in from ticket sales and no money coming in from TV revenues, one can conclude that the series is being propped up by the France Family billionaires. The ALMS is up against this voodoo economics system until they fail, just as CART/Champ Car was up against the voodoo economics of the IRL - a complete failure financially but propped up by the Hulman and George bank account. The butt ugly cars of the failed Grand-Am series just needs to go away and do us all a big favor. Mordichai Rosen, LA, California
Maybe Firestone would have stayed A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, The news that Firestone is leaving IndyCar is not good. If the company that replaces them does not offer tires at the same price and do as much advertising and promotion, any saving realized by the new IndyCar will be wiped out. Why did Firestone leave? Will Williams
Dear Will, Although Firestone did not say in their press release the real reason behind their departure, rest assured if they were getting more exposure on TV their decision may have been different. They did a lot to support IndyCar racing through the split and sunk a lot of money into the sport, for what, 0.2 or 0.3 ratings on Versus? Where is the return on investment? So once again, the decision to go with Versus for their TV contract may (we repeat May) be coming back to haunt IndyCar. Pennywise and pound foolish. Mark C.
MotoGP great Valentino Rossi would consider a move into Superbikes towards the end of his career having previously been linked with a future in Formula One and rallying.
The 32-year-old, a nine-time world champion on bikes, has said he is probably too old now for a switch to F1 but his move to Italy's Ducati from Yamaha for the forthcoming MotoGP season has opened the door to the rival Superbike series.
"In a few years, when I'm older, I could even race in Superbikes with Ducati," Rossi said at a Ducati promotional event in Bologna.
After four years off, the Unites States Grand Prix will be returning to the Formula 1 calendar in 2012, with a brand-new, Hermann Tilke-designed circuit currently being constructed in Austin, Texas. American Formula Renault 3.5 driver Alexander Rossi visited the site this week, describing himself as ‘truly impressed’ with the facility.
“My visit to Austin affirmed the belief that this is the right location to host a Formula 1 return to the States,” the Fortec driver commented.
“There is a buzz and energy that resonates within everyone I came in contact with in Austin. Everyone is aware that a major race and big event is coming to town.
“I'll be working hard to earn the opportunity to represent America, lining up on the F1 grid for 2012.”
[Editor's Note: Good luck. No drivers go right from Formula Renault 3.5 to F1. If Rossi, who raced in GP3 last year, wanted to be on the 2012 F1 grid, he should be racing GP2 this year.]
Austin F1 track to install rain sprinklersUPDATE On Tuesday, Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone floated an idea for making F1 races more exciting use artificial rain to make the tracks slippery. Such a ploy might break up the too-frequent F1 "parades" where there is very little passing during races, but the idea has drawn more criticism than support.
Ecclestone, however, appears to have found an ally in U.S. Grand Prix promoter Tavo Hellmund, who in a statement Friday called Ecclestone's idea "brilliant" and outlined why he supports it:
• It wouldn't hurt ticket sales, as it could be done even on sunny days.
• Racing on a wet track would be spectacular and add a compelling element for fans.
• True talent always shines in the wet.
Teams with smaller budgets should rejoice because rain is racing's ultimate equalizer .
Hellmund said he is in a perfect position to create an artificial rain effect because construction is in the beginning stages at the track southeast of Austin. The Statesman
Will new board members take Hulman & Co public? Hulman & Co. took a public relations hit when Tony George, the company namesake’s grandson, abruptly resigned from its board almost two years ago. But his resignation wasn’t exactly a game-changer for the venerable Terre Haute company that controls the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The board—populated by George, his three sisters and his mother—was insular before he resigned, and it remained so after the women in his family effectively pushed him out. Not much changed until last month when the company made the welcome announcement that it was doubling the size of its board.
Tony George is one of the four new members. If that means the family is healing, we’re all for it, and George’s background in racing and with the company will surely be a benefit. But we’re more excited about the addition of three savvy directors from outside the Hulman-George circle.
Firestone out at IndyCarUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with this announcement. Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC (BATO) and INDYCAR will allow the Firestone brand sponsorship and supply contract with the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights to expire at the end of the 2011 season.
"It's unfortunate to lose a great partner and ambassador for the sport like Firestone," said Randy Bernard, CEO, INDYCAR. "We are actively engaged in discussions with other tire manufacturers on opportunities to get involved in our sport as we prepare to debut our new car in 2012. As the fastest, most versatile racing series in the world, INDYCAR provides an ideal platform for companies looking to showcase both performance and brand on the track. In fact, Firestone credits its association with our sport in doubling the sales of its street tires in the U.S. during our first five years of partnership."
Ferrari the biggest loser in Bahrain cancellation Ferrari looks set to lose out the most financially from the eleventh-hour cancellation of the F1 2011 curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix, as the sport’s teams count the cost of the political turmoil that is sweeping the desert kingdom.
In the wake of fevered speculation about whether the race would or would not be able to go ahead against the backdrop of volatile and occasionally violent protests in Bahrain, a week-and-a-half ago the grand prix was officially canned – or postponed, subject to a suitable calendar slot being found later on in the season – following prolonged discussions between F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone and Bahrain’s Crown Prince.
Ho-Pin Tung to IndyCarUPDATE #4 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. We hear from Bert Winkler, Ho-Pin Tung's manager, that Ho-Pin will definitely not race for FAZZT in IndyCar this year. He's still one of 6 Renault's F1 test-drivers and they will give him a few outings in the Renault F1 car this year.
Regarding staying in shape competition wise, he will race in Superleague Formula again this year. In a few weeks time Superleague Formula will announce which drivers will represent their football clubs this year. Superleague Formula will organize 12 race-meetings this year in Europe, Asia and South America.
Ho-Pin Tung will certainly keep a close eye on IndyCar during this season, as it might be quite possible he will join the series in 2012.
02/09/11 This rumor is downgraded to speculation now, especially since Ho-Pin Tung has signed on as a reserve driver for the Lotus Renault team. After a highly publicized test with GP2 driver Ho-Pin Tung, talk of the Dutch-Chinese pilot joining Alex Tagliani in a second full-time FAZZT Indy car has gone rather quiet, which Tagliani addressed in a SPEEDTV.com interview.
“We’re working on various possibilities. There’s nothing for sure, yet. Are we going to have one full-time car with me? Yes. Will we have a second car full-time for the season? It’s possible, but it’s still up in the air. It might just be a partial season. There’s many alternatives we’re looking at as a team that will help us to benefit overall. We had some races last year where we wanted to have two cars, like at some of the road courses. We only have one set of tires for qualifying now, and second car would now be a big, big help on setup.
“If you don’t set a good time in the first six laps of qualifying, you’re screwed, basically. So we see that having a second car to help get to the perfect setup faster could help. The sooner we are fast leading up to qualifying, the better we should qualify, and at a lot of road course races, where you qualify is a big part of where you end up at the finish. We know what we’d like to do for a second car, but we have to make sure it helps the team overall. If we don’t have a full-time second car, we will certainly try to have it for the most beneficial races this year.”
This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Shortly after being paralyzed in a testing accident 10 years ago, Sam Schmidt started a race team to compete in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Though he transitioned that team into a Firestone Indy Lights powerhouse, he always had his eye on returning to the top-level of Indy car racing.
In less than a month, Schmidt will return as a full-time owner in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Schmidt announced Tuesday that he has acquired the assets of the FAZZT Race Team, which debuted in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2010 with Canadian Alex Tagliani and will enter the team's No. 77 Honda-powered Dallara in 2011 as Sam Schmidt Motorsports with Tagliani as the driver.
"This is a fantastic time for me, my family and everyone at Sam Schmidt Motorsports," said Schmidt from his Indianapolis race shop. "Though we competed in the IndyCar Series in 2001 and 2002, I can now admit we were naive in our understanding of what it took to be successful at the top level of open-wheel racing in the United States. Ten years later, I have a much better understanding of what it takes to go Indy car racing."
Next F1 CEO could be a woman We had an interesting, if not entirely intentional, debate here on JA on F1 over the weekend about women drivers in F1 and today F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has given an interview to the official F1 website in which he says that he envisages that Formula 1 could have a female CEO, “probably in three to five years” from now.
He builds up to this by saying that,
“I am sure that not so long from now 50 percent of the decision makers in the economy and politics will be women. Women have always had a strong influence, and have probably been in the background for too long.
Red Bull to run Infiniti engines?UPDATE #2 (GMM) Red Bull's new sponsor deal with Infiniti was finally confirmed at midnight on Tuesday, but reports that it involves the rebadging of the team's Renault engines proved wide of the mark.
Infiniti is the premium division of the Japanese carmaker Nissan, which is also headed by Renault chief executive Carlos Ghosn.
Speculation had suggested a deal with reigning champions Red Bull worth at least $11 million, covering the cost of the team's customer engine supply.
But it is not a rebadging deal but rather a "marketing agreement" involving "technical activities" for 2011 and 2012, read a media statement.
This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Mercedes has finally confirmed reports it has taken over 100 per cent of the Brackley based F1 team.
We reported earlier in February that Ross Brawn and his business partners had agreed to sell the outstanding 24.9 per cent of the former Brawn GP team to German carmaker Mercedes and its Abu Dhabi shareholder Aabar.
An official spokesman at the time refused to confirm the report, and Brawn said the news was "just speculation".
But it was announced in the form of a media statement on Monday.
IRL Silly Season The 2011 IndyCar team/driver lineup is coming together but there are still quite a few seats to fill. The latest rumor has Dan Wheldon possibly going to Dreyer & Reinbold. To see our latest Silly Season page click
Highway speed limit to rise to 80 mph in the UK Motorway speed limits could rise to 80 mph to shorten journey times and boost the economy under a radical review of road safety, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond signaled today.
He is concerned that anti-car campaigners have for too long used 'road safety' as a convenient excuse to both stymie raising speed the limit on motorways from the current 70mph, and to push for more 20mph zones in urban areas - even when they are inappropriate.
Britain has some of the safest roads in Europe, and within that motorways are by far the safest.
Formula One mired in debt The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that CVC, whose other investments include the company behind Saga/AA and Merlin Entertainment, took advantage of the dip in interest rates in the economic downturn to begin repaying debt.
Bernie Ecclestone, the sport's chief executive, told The Sunday Telegraph that a lot of the debt had been paid off.
David Bruce, vice-president of fixed income at Markit Group, which charts credit pricing, added that one of F1's term loans had been paid down.
CVC owns a 63.4pc stake in Delta Topco, F1's Jersey-based commercial rights-holder, and it financed its leveraged buyout in 2006 with $550m of debt from Lehman Brothers and $2.3bn believed to have come from Royal Bank of Scotland. In 2009 Delta Topco made interest payments of around $157.5m.
Bayne unlikely to run for Sprint Cup pointsUPDATE #2 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne is still working on finding sponsors for his Sprint Cup and Nationwide cars. The 20-year-old driver said he'd like to add both races at Talladega, but doesn't have anything lined up. He also says Friday his car would have a lot of open spaces on it this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway because the Wood Brothers are still trying to line up more sponsors. Bayne is scheduled for 18 Sprint Cup races, but would like a full season. His Nationwide car does not have a sponsor. Associated Press/ESPN.com
02/23/11 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Even though NASCAR would have allowed Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne to change his eligibility for the championship from the Nationwide Series to the Sprint Cup Series, Bayne announced Tuesday he is sticking with his plans to run for the Nationwide title. As tempting as switching to Sprint Cup would have beenwith NASCAR saying he would become eligible to run for rookie of the year and that his win at Daytona would count toward a possible wild-card entry into the Chase - Bayne showed he either is mature beyond his 20 years or has gotten some excellent advice - or both. Sporting News
02/21/11 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne said Monday he's probably not going to attempt to run for the Sprint Cup championship this year. The 20-year-old became the youngest winner in Daytona 500 history Sunday with a surprise victory in NASCAR's biggest race. He's scheduled to run only 17 Cup races this season for the Wood Brothers while he competes for the Nationwide Series title for Roush-Fenway Racing. NASCAR rules this season made drivers pick just one series to collect points, and Bayne chose the second-tier Nationwide Series. He can change his mind, but he would not be given retroactive points for the Daytona 500. NASCAR officials said Monday the win would count toward seeding in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, but he would not receive any points for Sunday's race. NASCAR this year changed the format for the 12-driver Chase field. The top 10 in points after the 26th race of the season make the Chase, with the final two spots going to drivers with the most wins who aren't already eligible. The drivers would have to be ranked inside the top 20. Associated Press
F1 to lose $100m from Bahrain Grand Prix cancellation On Monday the Crown Prince of Bahrain called off the race due to the civil unrest that has gripped the country for the past 10 days and filled the streets of its capital Manama, just minutes from the race circuit.
Some of the biggest losers will be F1's 12 teams since it is believed there are penalty clauses in their contracts with sponsors that would be triggered by missing a race.
Data from F1's trade guide, Formula Money, show that the teams are expected to lose an estimated $40m from missing Bahrain, with Ferrari set for the biggest fall at $11m. The Italian team receives more income from sponsorship than any of its rivals and so it stands to lose more from the race being scrapped.
Itaipava Beer will sponsor Helio CastronevesUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' as we have obtained an image showing the livery Helio's car will carry in Brazil.
02/22/11 According to AR1.com sources, Itaipava Beer will sponsor Helio at Sao Paolo IndyCar race. We believe they will also sponsor the May 1st race. The car will be predominantly red for that race, the primary color of the sponsor.
Will Bahrain axe help struggling teams? (GMM) Mark Webber and David Coulthard have played down suggestions the Bahrain cancellation could play into the hands of F1's currently weakest teams.
With McLaren's new MP4-26 not the best car in the field currently in terms of pace or reliability, Lewis Hamilton said he was happy that the championship starting in Australia "gives us more time" to prepare.
"We have some catching up to do and not a lot of time until the season starts," he said.
BBC commentator and former McLaren driver Brundle agreed: "It (the extra time) will help some teams that were struggling to make fast and reliable cars.
Will Vijay Mallay's airline problems impact his F1 team?
The aviation business is not good – at least not for Vijay Mallay's Kingfisher Airlines.
The airline has a fleet of 66 planes and around 19.5 percent of the Indian market, behind Jet Airways and just ahead of rival Indigo. However the firm lost $147 million in the nine months ending in December last year. It has debts of $1.6 billion, but hopes to cut this to $1.3 billion with a $350 million rights issue, although the company share price has been falling dramatically of late, down to 39 Rupees from 71 in December, which means that raising more money is not easy.
The company has been in trouble over the non-payment of fuel bills, landing fees, service charges and even the airplane leases.
Unpopular Bahrain race need not return So the Bahrain GP is cancelled, on a day when two separate stories on the front page of Planet-F1 had more to link them than first met the eye.
The first story connected the political unrest on the streets of Bahrain to the grand prix. The second showed what happens when people get tired of staging a grand prix in a free and fair democracy.
The 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix has been postponed, but in this correspondent's opinion it should never come back. There has never been much enthusiasm for the race from the people of Bahrain since it started up in 2004 and the visiting crowds have been meager. Nobody much cares about F1 across Bahrain and now we can all see why.
Valencia hasn't paid for 2010 F1 race (GMM) Organizers of last year's European grand prix did not pay the sanctioning fee to Bernie Ecclestone. That is the claim of Salvador Servia, the new director of Spain's other formula one race host, the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.
"I've been told that Valencia have not paid the fee of last year," he told local radio RAC1.
On the other hand, he insisted that Barcelona "always pays on the day after the grand prix", therefore revealing that in 2011 it means F1's chief executive will receive the money on 23 May.
Rumored Vegas IndyCar race to be confirmed Tuesday IndyCar, the country's premier open-wheel racing series, will return to Las Vegas this season, it will be announced Tuesday at a news conference at City Center. The series will hold its season-ending race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 16. It will mark the first time the series has competed on the speedway's 1.5-mile oval since 2000.
What will be a three-day event will open with practice and qualifying on Oct. 14, followed the next night by the 15th annual Smith's 350k NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. The Firestone Indy Lights series will compete on Sunday with the IndyCar race. ReviewJournal.com
Montreal wants a Sprint Cup race at the Ile de Notre Dame road course The promoter of the NASCAR Nationwide NAPA 200 at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve wants a Sprint Cup race at the Ile de Notre Dame road course. In an exclusive interview with The Toronto Sun at Daytona International Speedway Octane Motorsports Events boss Francois Dumontier said that it is his objective to have Montreal as home to the first NASCAR Sprint Cup race run outside of the United States.
“Our contract as promoter of the Nationwide race is coming up for renewal and we are in negotiations to extend that,” he said. “And although we have not had any direct discussions, yet, about a Cup race in Canada, that is our objective.”
The NAPA 200 has been among the most successful Nationwide races on that series’ schedule since its debut, and has sold out every race since.
Renault can replace Heidfeld during 2011 (GMM) Nick Heidfeld's new contract with Renault allows the team to replace him with Robert Kubica at any point in 2011.
That is the claim of the specialist publication Speed Week, amid earlier suggestions a solid one-year term might have been the wiser choice for the Lotus-sponsored team before injured Pole Kubica makes a bid to return in 2012.
Heidfeld's lawyer Dr Stefan Seitz said he would not comment on contractual matters, but he did say: "This is a performance sport, with performance deciding who sits in the car at the end of the day."
With a statement provided by manager Daniele Morelli, Cologne newspaper Express quotes Kubica as saying: "With special methods I want to shorten the healing time and return this season.
"The accident will make me stronger, exactly as in the past," added Kubica, apparently referring to his horror crash in Canada in 2007 and his road crash of 2003.
Some teams may only change tires...once in the Daytona 500? Goodyear's director of racing Greg Stucker was asked point blank, "Has Goodyear developed the perfect race tire?" He smiled, accepted the compliment then chose his words carefully. "We're very happy," Stucker said. "Let's put it that way." The fact is, Goodyear has worked on the 2011 Speed Weeks/Daytona 500 tire since May 2010, just weeks after the announcement Daytona International Speedway would be repaved. It was worth the effort. Not only do these stock-car tires not generate heat, they don't wear out. Sprint Cup teams have spent virtually no money on tires. Few cars changed tires in the 62- and 60-lap Gatorade Duel At Daytona qualifying races on Thursday. Many of those tires still looked fresh after 150 miles of wear. "Tire wear is basically nonexistent," Stucker said. "Guys could have gone further in the Duel. We know that guys who ran tires in the Duel ran them again in Friday practice to put a few more laps on them." There is talk that some teams may elect to go the distance on one set of tires today. The tandem or love-bug drafting has not created problems for the tire. One of the reasons the Cup cars can run in a two-car draft is because of the their grip. Since there is no sign of tire wear after a 150-mile run, there will be one or two teams that try to push the envelope to gain track position. Daytona Beach News Journal
Ford has the cooling edge? Doug Yates, head engine builder for Roush Yates Engines, explained why the cooling systems of Ford's FR9 engines seem to have an advantage because they can run hotter, enabling Ford teams to push cars longer than their Sprint Cup competitors. "Together with the radiator and the header tank and the engine, we've designed it to run hotter and to have less grille opening," Yates said. "We saw that from the first day we rolled it on the track. We got a lot of criticism because we were the last guys out with our engine, but it seems being the last guys out we combined all the best technology into one." Kansas City Star
As each day passes, it looks like Schumacher should have returned to race with Ferrari, rather than Mercedes, which this year appears to have produced yet another slug of a car.
Michael Schumacher concedes that while his Mercedes GP W02 may win a race in 2011, the car is not up to challenging for the World title, a nice way of saying it is a slug. The first half of pre-season testing has produced varying form from Merc GP's W02, which is proving to be rather inconsistent.
While the car has shown moments of pace, resulting in Schumi finishing the Jerez test with the week's second fastest lap time, on most days the team has finished outside the top half of the timesheets.
Reliability has also proven to be a bit of a worry, although the bulk of the gremlins have befallen Rosberg.
Possible short Nationwide field for Fontana Conducting a survey of all 45 teams at the track, Frontstretch discovered it’s questionable whether the series will have a full field next weekend in Phoenix. In fact, multiple sources confirmed there’s a worry less than 43 cars will show, a combination of the economy, a new car design and a 20 percent purse reduction causing several teams to pack their bags and stay away for good. Among those on the definite “no” list for next week include Kevin Harvick, Inc.‘s No. 4, Penske Racing’s No. 12, and Germain Racing’s No. 15. Phoenix Racing’s No. 1, JR Motorsports’ No. 5, 2nd Chance’s No. 79 (after a DNQ) and Means Motorsports’ No. 52 (following their practice crash) are also unlikely to show, which would drop the entry list total to just 38 cars.
Danica to NASCAR fulltime in 2012 Jamie Little interviewed Danica after qualifying at Daytona Friday and Danica said "I need to do everything I can do to prepare for next year" when referring to drafting and communicating at Daytona.
It is no surprise, but its looking like she's not going to take the 3rd year option on her Andretti Autosport contract. She's not going to do another part time deal in NASCAR, it will be all or nothing we suspect. If she performs well in the Nationwide Series this year, she'll be gone, giving IndyCar another opportunity to raise the level of talent in the series. Pushing Milka Duno out was step 1.
(GMM) A spokesman for Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit has refused to confirm or deny rumors the venue could be lined up as an alternate destination for the last week of formula one testing early next month.
"As a policy, we never comment on rumor and speculation and have not commented at all in this instance," he told us.
On Thursday, amid reports F1 will surely not be able to travel to Bahrain next month due to the unrest, a spokesman for the Circuit de Catalunya said the teams group FOTA "has asked us what dates we have available ... but there is no formal request yet".
Liuzzi 'strong contender' for HRT seatUPDATE (GMM) HRT has confirmed reports that Vitantonio Liuzzi will test the Spanish team's Cosworth-powered car at Barcelona on Saturday.
"Tonio is a strong contender for the second seat given that he has a lot of experience in formula one," said team boss Colin Kolles.
02/18/11 (GMM) Vitantonio Liuzzi is provisionally scheduled to test with the HRT team in Barcelona, reports in Italy and Spain suggest.
Despite having a contract for 2011, the Italian driver was ousted by Force India and reportedly did not have enough sponsors to secure HRT's final race seat on this season's grid.
But Italiaracing reported that, after missing the recent Jerez test, HRT will return to action at the Circuit de Catalunya, with 29-year-old Liuzzi to share driving duties alongside confirmed racer Narain Karthikeyan.
Waltrip to run LeMans NASCAR Sprint Cup co-owners Rob Kauffman and Michael Waltrip (a two-time Daytona 500 winner) on Friday will announce plans to run this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. They’ll be in a Ferrari-powered entry in one of the GT classes. AutoWeek
Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo has again sparked rumors that he may soon switch to a career in politics, with the 63-year-old having also been connected with such a move in the past.
“In Italy we need to rediscover the culture of consensus, to rediscover a sense of community, not always everyone against each other,” he is quoted as saying by Reuters.
“We need to carry out a series of fundamental reforms that are neither of the left or of the right, a reform of the state, a reform of tax laws and a pact for growth.
“Unfortunately many Italian politicians do not have a culture of competition - just take a look at the electoral law. If I, as a voter, cannot decide who to send to parliament because someone else (a political party leader) has to decide, that is the very opposite of competition.”
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