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DATE News (chronologically)
Bremer back to Champ Car  UPDATE #3 We are downgrading this rumor to speculation based on Team Boss Keith Wiggins stating today that the 2nd driver has not been decided upon yet for the team.....contrary to what Bremer told the person below.  Our sources tell us Bremer only has enough money for a couple of races, at least at this point.

03/19/06 On the Qbic7 website they even have Bremer prominently featured, however, we are still not certain this will be the primary sponsor on his Champ Car as we heard they may be an associate sponsor.

03/18/06 Dear AutoRacing1.com, Ronnie Bremer is currently in Denmark where he is present at the Danish Auto show Biler i Bella.  He is present with a Qbic7 colored Reynard Champ Car. There he confirmed to me that he is going to participate in this year's Champ Car season. He is leaving Denmark for the US on Monday.

Today he is a driver at the Racing Festival at Biler i Bella where people can buy rides from him and a lot of other Danish drivers including German Jochen Mass and Swedish Stanley Dickens. All the profit goes to UNICEF.

When I came home from Biler i Bella Ronnie Bremer's PR Officer Torben Hausig confirmed on Ronniebremer.com that Ronnie is a HVM-CTE Driver in 2006. I include a picture of Ronnie Bremer sitting in the Qbic7 car.

Ronnie Bremer has also set up his own gokart team, Ronnie Bremer Racing or R.B.R, per a sticker on the car shown. How many CC drivers have their own gokart teams?  Michael Ewert - F1journal.com

07/09/05 Look for Ronnie Bremer to be back in a Champ Car seat sooner rather than later. He lost his HVM ride this weekend to Alex Sperafico because his check bounced. "It was a matter of money," said Bremer. "Actually, the money came through this morning but it was too late to do anything this weekend."

Will he return at the Edmonton race next week? "I hope so," said Bremer. "At least there's a better chance with money than without! But if not, then I'll just keep working hard for next year. I enjoyed the races I did so far this year, and I really want to be back in the series next year." If he has money, Alex Sperafico has to perform well this weekend, or HVM will probably bring back Bremer.

Champ Car teams to test  UPDATE Newman/Haas will test Wednesday and Thursday at Sebring and CTE Racing-HVM will be there Tue, Wed. Fri. and Sat. we believe. 03/20/06 Hearing that 5 or 6 Champ Car teams will test at Sebring, FL Tuesday through Thursday of this week, PKV Racing being one of the teams.
Ferrari to bounce back say rivals  (GMMf1NET) Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button expect Ferrari to mount a serious challenge for victory at the Australian GP in two weeks.

Although putting Renault's pace on a pedestal after finishing third in Malaysia, Honda's Button predicted that - like in Bahrain - Michael Schumacher should be back in with a shout at cooler Melbourne.

''Renault are clearly out in front,'' the 26-year-old confessed, ''but I think Ferrari will be there (in Australia).''

Button indicated that the Bridgestone-Michelin tire war could tip back in Ferrari's favor away from the searing heat of Malaysia.

He explained: ''At the moment we look like we are closer to (Renault) than Ferrari, but if it's cooler in Melbourne, that should help them.''

Alonso, meanwhile - who fought hard to beat Bridgestone-shod Schumacher at the season opening Bahrain race - suggested that Imola is also shaping up as a Ferrari benefit.

''Maybe they will be back in Australia,'' the Spaniard admitted, ''and also Imola, but hopefully like last year they will have more problems and they will not be as strong.''

Will ABC/ESPN poach TV crew?  ABC-ESPN executives are trying to line up an on-camera crew for their return to the NASCAR tour. But it doesn't look like NBC's crew - Bill Weber, Benny Parsons and Wally Dallenbach - will be at the top of the list. But Krista Voda could get a nod. The highly polished Weber is easily the sport's top broadcaster, but it's unclear where his future might be.

Questions about who will be in front of the cameras aren't the only TV questions being raised. The production crews may also be in some doubt.

As ragged as some of the TV productions have been - and as commercially clogged - under the Fox-NBC-TNT reign, some fans might be pining for the good ol' days when ESPN handled many of the races. However, the game has changed considerably since those days, and the new ESPN look could be considerably different.  Winston Salem-Journal

Alonso almost did not finish  Renault nursed Fernando Alonso's car to the finish line, engineering director Pat Symonds revealed. After his final pit stop Alonso put in some very hot laps and closed in on eventual winner Fisichella, but then cooled the pace.

"We had a few problems with Alonso's car, we were concerned about the fuel pump currents and alternator so we were nursing him a bit to the end," Symonds said. "We could hold Jenson ok, we had both the engines on minimum as we would, but we had other concerns."

"It was a great race from Fisi - what a bounce back after such disappointment in the last race, he pulled it back," Symonds added.

McLarens running heavy fuel load  There are hints that the McLaren team have qualified with a heavy fuel load in 5th and 6th position after being fastest in the first qualifying session.

"I am happy with our qualifying result today," Montoya said, "and we will see tomorrow with the different fuel loads just how well we have done. Hopefully the Michelin tires will continue to perform, so far they have been good, but it is a very long and hot race. We have worked intensively on the set-up of the car and I am much happier with it. I am looking forward to a good race tomorrow where we can hopefully be challenging at the front."

"I had a little bit of traffic on my out lap at the end of the session which disrupted my flying lap. As a result I didn't do as well as I could have, but I am pretty happy with the result. The car could still be better but I think that we have a competitive strategy and we will still be strong in the race tomorrow," said Raikkonen.

"We are very comfortable with the outcome of today's qualifying session and we look forward to our race strategy unfolding," Ron Dennis said.

"With Juan Pablo starting in fifth and Kimi in sixth position both our cars are in good position for tomorrow's race. With our strategy we should be in good shape," added Mercedes' Norbert Haug.

Jarrett to retire after '08 season  Before the Daytona 500, #88-Dale Jarrett described the 2006 Nextel Cup season as critical to determining how long he would extend his career. After three races of evaluating his team, he has a timetable. "I'm pretty sure now I'm going to drive through 2008," he said Friday afternoon at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "I feel like if we can stay on pace with what we're trying to do, that would be sufficient time to leave it in a good situation." USA Today
Tracy wants to stay in Champ Car  Paul Tracy, 37, will be in the last year of his contract with Forsythe, and will race in some NASCAR Busch Series events this year. He wants to continue racing Champ Car, however.

He’s sporting a new, spiked hairdo — “I’m contractually obligated to have hair,” he says, by Busch sponsor SportsClips — and crews have been filming his second reality series for WGN … As the most notable Champ Car veteran, Tracy would like to see unification with the Indy Racing League. “I’ve been hearing things about it. I’m not going to lose sleep over it,” he says.  Portland Tribune

2007 still being heralded as CC's breakout year  No question, Champ Car is heralding 2007 as its breakthrough year. The new, lighter and faster Panoz chassis will be introduced and, presumably, more teams will jump on board. A new, twin-turbo engine could be used. Allmendinger predicts up to 26 cars will compete. “We’re still going to have 18 cars this year, and there are no (Lola) chassis left,” he says. “Besides, new teams are not going to come in and spend money this year … next year it’ll take off.”  Portland Tribune
Rossi to GP2?  (GMMf1NET) Valentino Rossi could spend a year in the 'GP2' series before moving into formula one with Ferrari, according to the latest paddock rumor.

With the MotoGP champion unlikely to do much F1 testing during the agreed 36-day limit this year, the Italian has reportedly been told by Ferrari that the junior category - run as support races at many F1 grands prix each season - would provide ideal open-wheeler seat time and vital experience of racing action on four wheels.

''There are many ways to gather experience of driving a (racing) car,'' Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn told La Gazzetta dello Sport, ''including GP2.''

Red Bull and Montoya  (GMMf1NET)  Red Bull could be a serious option for Juan Pablo Montoya's future in F1 beyond 2006, according to paddock chatter.

The energy drink-owned team's racing 'advisor', Helmut Marko, admitted that Red Bull should be looking for a lineup in 2007 to complement the increasingly top-line technical/budget package.

''We already have top engineers and a top (Ferrari) engine, so we now also need appropriate drivers for this,'' he told 'Kleinen Zeitung' newspaper.

Montoya, 30, is perhaps more strongly linked with Fernando Alonso's vacant 2007 Renault ride, but Red Bull team principal Christian Horner didn't exactly deny the gossip out of hand in the Sepang paddock.

''To be honest, at the moment, I can't see that (Montoya) would give us anything more than we already have,'' he told the Independent.

Horner said David Coulthard and Christian Klien make up a 'very good' formula one pairing.

Flav calms 'all-Finn' rumor for 2007  (GMMf1NET) Flavio Briatore backed away from a double-whammy of driver speculation in the scorching Sepang paddock.

The Renault chief was faced with gossip that Kimi Raikkonen could be signed to replace Fernando Alonso next year, with Giancarlo Fisichella possibly also moved aside to clear the seat for another Finn, Heikki Kovalainen.

''This is the second race out of 18,'' Briatore marveled, ''so are we going to talk about it for 16 more?''

In his near-impenetrable accent, the Italian added: ''At the moment I do not know. Anyway, I do not want to talk about this.''

Wing test, rule, could be changed  (GMMf1NET)  F1's governing body could introduce a more comprehensive test following suggestions that some teams are sidestepping the rule prohibiting rear wings from 'flexing' at speed.

The FIA's Charlie Whiting has now overseen detailed inspections of the Ferrari, Renault and Honda wings in team garages.

But Honda technical director Geoff Willis even suggested that the rule itself could be tweaked.

Massa may skip qualifying  (GMMf1NET) Ferrari's Felipe Massa, already demoted ten places, could opt to start the Malaysian grand prix from the back.

Ferrari sources clarified that the decision - to possibly sit the Brazilian out of qualifying - would already have been made before the start of free practice on Saturday.

''The idea would be to give him a lot of fuel,'' said technical director Ross Brawn, probably hoping to emulate McLaren's strategy in Bahrain that pushed Kimi Raikkonen from last to third.

Another benefit of sitting out qualifying would be to conserve engine mileage and tires.

Quali tweak to wait until mid-year  (GMMf1NET)  F1's governing body will wait until at least mid-season before it considers tweaking the new 'knockout' qualifying format, according to Patrick Head.

Williams' co-owner suggested in Malaysia that, to replace the current slow-burn procession, it might be better to allow low-fuel runs in the final twenty minute top-10 charge.

''The basic format is pretty good,'' Head added, ''but if the FIA make a change, it will also be after some discussions with the teams.''

Ma back at Rocketsports  Sources tell AutoRacing1.com that race engineer Brian Ma has been re-hired by Rocketsports so it looks like the team is confident something will come together for at least a 1-car Champ Car program.  The team lost a lot of crew members but now we hear they are hiring.
Briscoe, Luyendyk eye Indy 500 rides  UPDATE AutoRacing1.com can now confirm, as we previously reported, that Ryan Briscoe was indeed offered a ride with Team Australia and turned it down.  Therefore, the fact that he finds himself without a full-time ride now is entirely his doing. 

03/17/06 Ryan Briscoe and Arie Luyendyk Jr. want rides for this year's Indianapolis 500. Christian Fittipaldi and Graham Rahal do not.
Briscoe's situation is the most interesting. He wasn't retained by Indy Racing League team owner Chip Ganassi following his horrific Sept. 11 accident at Chicagoland Speedway, and he was spurned by PKV Racing, a Champ Car World Series team.

Now, Briscoe is unemployed, except for next month's A1 Grand Prix series race in Shanghai, China, and a pair of fall races in Australia's V8 Supercar Series.

"It's unfortunate and a shame for me, but that's the way it goes," the 24-year-old Aussie said. "I was led to believe something was going to happen with (PKV), but it dragged on so long that when it fell apart, everything else (full time) was gone." More at the Indy Star

FIA to implement more stringent wing inspections  The FIA looks set to ramp up its scrutiny of rear wings in Formula 1 in a bid to counteract the recent uncertainty over flexible wings.

Ferrari's technical director Ross Brawn indicated in Sepang that the FIA intends to stamp down on the practice of deliberately using a flexing structure as a performance advantage.

"The FIA may change the regulations, if they feel the wings are going in a direction they don't like," Brawn told ITV Sport in Malaysia on Friday.

"We may see some new tests from the FIA in the next few races." Honda's tech boss Geoff Willis agreed with Brawn that the rules needed to be clarified over the issue, which he explained was to do with deliberately manipulating the gap – known as the slot gap – between the first and second rear wing elements. More ...
Schu could face ten-grid penalty  (GMMf1NET)  Michael Schumacher's hopes of winning in Malaysia could be dealt a major blow if his Ferrari V8 must be changed.

It is suggested that, like teammate Felipe Massa who will thus be demoted ten places on Sunday's grid, all is not well inside the German's Bahrain/Malaysia-spec unit.

''We will know more about it tomorrow,'' the 37-year-old admitted on Friday, ''but there is a chance (the engine is damaged).

''Let's hope not.''

If the V8 must be replaced, it would be the third out of four Ferraris in the field (Massa and Red Bull's David Coulthard) that did not make it through the mandatory 2-race span.

Pirelli to bid for F1 deal?  The word on the street in Italy is that Italian tyremaker Pirelli is considering a bid for the role of F1 tire supplier next year when F1 switches to a single tire supplier. The FIA will decide the identity of the supplier after a tendering process which will be beginning shortly. The Italian firm has a long history in Grand Prix racing, dating back to 1913 and was a major player before World War II and then in the early years of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Grandprix.com
No Rocketsports for Montagny, could stay at Super Aguri  UPDATE "We've been working very hard on the concept of Team Brazil for over 60 days now, but as of now, we don't know that it's going to  happen. I sincerely hope that we do get the chance though," said Paul Gentilozzi.

There is a back-up plan should Team Brazil not happen, however, and Gentilozzi said: "Franck Montagny is not out of the picture. We are still talking in case this fails," he told Autosport.com.

03/15/06 (GMMf1NET) Franck Montagny could stick around the F1 paddocks in 2006, after failing to land the 'PKV' Champ Car race ride.

The Frenchman, who lost his Renault test drive for 2006, turned up in Bahrain as 'reserve driver' for Super Aguri, and he told reporters that he would return in Malaysia before focusing on Champ Cars.

Franck, 28, was clearly downbeat when he heard the bad 'PKV' news, but is keen to make the most of the Super Aguri job.

''I will not be a kill-joy ... even if it is frustrating,'' Montagny - who will also not do any driving in Malaysia - told his official website.

''I always said that the wheel will turn and that my turn would come one day, but it seems to be stuck or something.''

Montagny is still in talks with the 'Rocketsports' Champ Car team, but he might now have the time to develop his Super Aguri role throughout the year.

About the team's F1 rookie Yuji Ide, Franck said: ''(He) does not speak English and he has a hard time getting info to the engineers.

''(Takuma Sato) is a very nice guy, he speaks good English and the exchange between us is free and easy.''

Red Bull and VW  (GMMf1NET)  After admitting that Red Bull would like a works carmaker partner, team owner Dietrich Mateschitz has confessed to keeping a eye on Germany's Volkswagen.

The Austrian billionaire told Sport Bild: ''Their entrance (to F1), perhaps with Audi, has been speculated about for years.

''It is no secret that we have many projects in common -- for example on the Dakar rally, DTM and at the A1-Ring.''

Renault plan Kimi coup  (GMMf1NET) Flavio Briatore is hoping to pull off the coup of the year -- luring Kimi Raikkonen to Renault for 2007-2008.

Following his fury at pitlane counterpart Ron Dennis' snatching of world champion Fernando Alonso, the Italian chief is busily convincing McLaren's 26-year-old Finn to help him return the favor.

The 'Abendzeitung' (better known as 'AZ') newspaper wrote that Briatore met this week with Renault bigwigs in Paris, to convince them that Raikkonen is worth spending $57.6 million on.

Although he could stay at McLaren beyond this year, Kimi is also seriously linked with moves to Ferrari and Toyota.

Heitzler San Antonio IRL race close to deal  UPDATE #6 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, If Champ Car and the IRL are on the verge of a merger, why is there an impending deal  to have an IRL race in San Antonio? Wouldn't  everything be on hold till the existing venues are sorted out? Bradford Dunlop, Toronto Ontario

Dear Bradford, One would think so, especially given that Champ Car and the IRL each already have a race in Texas (Ft. Worth oval and Houston Street Circuit).  If the IRL signs a deal with San Antonio (a third race in Texas) that would indicate one of two things - there won't be a merger, or the Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) event in Ft. Worth will be dropped because the track is simply too dangerous for open wheel cars.  In the past year we have seen some tension between the IRL and TMS President Eddie Gossage, which have resulted in rumors that the IRL's future at TMS is uncertain.  Mark C.

03/15/06 Professional Indy Car racing could be just weeks away from becoming a reality in San Antonio, bringing in close to 200,000 tourists, News 4 WOAI learned Tuesday. If the deal between the Indy Racing League and a local real estate developer goes through, the Alamodome would be the center of a giant street race track, but some are not quite ready to give the plan the green light.

A spokesman for real estate developers, HollyHills Group said Tuesday, the company is less than two weeks from closing a deal with the IRL to bring the grand prix to San Antonio. Under the deal, the race would start next year, and San Antonio would host the race for the following several years.

“There will be stuff for everyone to enjoy," HollyHills spokesman T.J. Connolly said. “It's really a week-long festival built around racing, but has stuff for men and women and kids alike.” More at woai.com

02/23/06 Officials from HollyHills Development and the Indy Racing League expressed optimism Wednesday that a deal for the rights to promote a grand prix race in downtown San Antonio is close.  As the event's promoter, HollyHills would provide the design and construction of the racecourse, publicity, tickets and marketing and the recruitment of additional sponsors.

An IRL spokesman said the sanctioning fee charged HollyHills could be as high as $2 million.  "Discussions on the San Antonio project are ongoing, and we are very optimistic," the IRL's John Griffin said.  Once a deal is reached, HollyHills can begin seeking approval for the open-wheel street race from the City Council.

The IRL's IndyCar Series has 14 races this year, the fewest since 2001, but the circuit hopes to add at least two in 2007.  "We still need to find out what (HollyHills) will need from the city, which is another way of saying, 'What's it going to cost us?'" City Councilman Kevin Wolff said. "We need to see the numbers for revenue generation as opposed to the expense to the city."

A HollyHills official declined to estimate how much the city would be required to spend for a big-league motor race in 2007.  "I will say the return for the city economically would make the cost minimal," said Joe Heitzler, president and CEO of the California-based company.

Heitzler said he plans to meet with city officials in March to discuss logistical issues, including the use of the Alamodome to serve as the infield for the course.  "We have agreed on every tenant of the sanctioning agreement (with the IRL) and are just waiting to have an additional meeting with the city to make sure all the things we are agreeing to are things the city will comply with and work together with us on," Heitzler said.

City officials are cautious about getting back into the race business after the past San Antonio Grand Prix, which was a major part of Labor Day weekend festivities from 1987 through 1990. The event's annual average loss was $300,000, with the 1990 race alone losing $600,000.

The event's operator, the Alamo Grand Prix Association, suspended operations in 1991 while owing the city more than $208,000 for services associated with the 1989 and 1990 races. Those services included police security, street closures and the use of city parking garages and Convention Center facilities.

"My recollection is we never recovered that amount," Deputy city attorney Veronica Zertuche said.  Wolff said city officials are expected to accompany Heitzler to St. Petersburg, Fla., to attend the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 2.   MySanAntonio.com More ...

Ranger to re-sign with Mi-Jack Conquest?  UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation' based on this TSN.ca article that says Ranger is expected to be back, but not with Mi-Jack Conquest Racing.

03/06/06 19-year-old Quebec native Andrew Ranger looks set to re-sign with Mi-Jack Conquest Racing.

"The good thing is we've got some new sponsors coming on board to go with last year's so I'm not getting nervous," Ranger's agent Alan Labrosse told ChampCar.ws. "I'm going to meet with Eric Bachelart this week so hopefully we'll have something finalized in the next two weeks."

Schu pens new Ferrari deal - report  UPDATE #2 We are downgrading this rumor to 'false'........for now.  Michael Schumacher has dismissed media reports that he has now penned a new two-year deal to stay at Ferrari until 2008.

Asked what he had to say about the speculation in the Sepang paddock, the frustrated German told reporters: ''I don't believe I have to say anything.

''If someone wants to write something, I can't stop them, but for me nothing has changed.  There's nothing more to say.

''I have nothing new to report.''

03/14/06 (GMMf1NET) According to reports in the German press, Ferrari's Michael Schumacher may have now signed a new two-year deal to stick around in F1 until the end of 2008.

After missing the Bahrain win by a paltry 1.2 seconds, the 37-year-old is almost certain to line up at the scarlet team next year alongside McLaren defector Kimi Raikkonen, the reports said.

Schumacher's manager, Willi Weber, would not confirm the rumor when pressed by 'Bild' newspaper.

''We will not be making any statements on this issue before the summer,'' he said. ''But it is clear -- positive results will not impact negatively on Michael's important decision.''

Bild also quoted a 'McLaren insider' as reporting that Kimi Raikkonen has already decided to leave the team.

01/23/06 (GMMf1NET)  After stirring up speculation that he might switch teams for 2007, Michael Schumacher has given the strongest indication yet that he does not intend to retire.

The 37-year-old German is under contract to Ferrari only until the end of this year, revealing that he will let the wider world know his future later in 2006.

Schumacher told the news magazine 'Focus': ''Unlike football players, I don't believe that racing drivers need to stop at the end of their thirties.''

Adding to the feeling that his career is far from nearing an end, Michael was speaking at the launch of a multi-million dollar, 3-year personal sponsorship with spring water brand 'Rosbacher'.

But Schumacher repeated his earlier warning that a new driving contract will not necessarily be penned with Maranello based Ferrari, after failing to win a single race (Indy aside) last season.

''You always have to leave a door open,'' he said, ''because this is such a fast moving sport.''

Michael, however, repeated that there is a 99 per cent probability that his car beyond '06 will be red.

He insisted: ''I have many friends at Ferrari, so to drive for them would be the most logical (decision).

''The last tests showed that we are making progress.  Everything points to the fact that we will be competitive again.''

'Maybe' Montoya, says Red Bull  (GMMf1NET )  Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz has threatened to declare the 2007 silly season open, by answering 'maybe' when asked if Juan Pablo Montoya was on his driver wish list.

''Our goal is to be among the best in formula one.  We are not here just to say that we are here,'' the billionaire told Sport Bild.

Surtees eyes step up  Former world champion John Surtees is considering a move up from A1GP to a GP2 team in the near future if he can purchase a current team according to Autosport.com.

"I have been asked to look into the prospect of taking over a GP2 team," said Surtees in this week's Autosport. "It would be ideal to have another project so that we could bring more drivers in.

"When Robbie and Sean move up, we would be able to place another Brit and another Canadian in the World Series."

Indy 500 rumors  Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong is being courted as the ceremonial Indy 500 pace car driver...............Singer Justin Timberlake is working to get Townsend Bell a ride for the 500.  Indy Star
McLaren may change Montoya's engine  (GMMf1NET) Juan Pablo Montoya could be set to join a growing band of penalized F1 drivers in Malaysia, with reports that his Bahrain-spec Mercedes V8 engine might need to be changed.

The Colombian moaned about the lackluster unit, which he said lagged teammate Kimi Raikkonen's pace by up to 5kph all weekend long.

''When we were at normal race revs, my engine was dead,'' the 30-year-old told Speed TV.

Woking based McLaren is giving nothing away about the apparent problem, but it is understood that changing the engine is an option should a specific cause (and fix) for the deficit go unidentified.

Referring to Bahrain, where he finished fifth, Montoya continued: ''If I hadn't had the problems with the engine it would have been a good race.''

FIA to inspect Renault's rear wing  (GMMf1NET)  Intriguingly, after Renault questioned the legality of Ferrari's rear wing, it is now suggested that the Enstone based team faces an FIA inspection in Malaysia following doubts about the bodywork of the 'R26' car.

FIA delegate Charlie Whiting may already have arranged a meeting with Renault's Pat Symonds, amid claims that the R26 racer's unique rear wing end plates are designed to bend at high speed, thus reducing wind drag.

According to 'Auto Motor Und Sport' in Germany, the Renault's 2006 rear wing is designed so that - at high speed - the trailing edge moves out of the line of wind flow.

A central theme of the 'flex' case against Ferrari, meanwhile, is that - unlike every other team - the main element of the '248' car's rear wing is not reinforced by vertical 'supports', which in theory could allow the wing to bend at high speed.

'Auto Motor Und Sport' suggests that Ferrari could be asked by the FIA to install such supports.

F1 qualifying format set for tweak, again  (GMMf1NET)  F1's ever-changing qualifying format could be set for yet another tweak, according to team principal Frank Williams.

The knighted chief told 'Motorsport News' that he thought the all-new 'knockout' system's final top-ten blast - during which most cars circulated slowly for nearly twenty minutes burning fuel in Bahrain - might need fine-tuning.

Williams recalled the session as 'ten cars going around eight seconds off the pace with no attempt to overtake'.

He also said the primary objective - burning fuel - is 'wasteful'.

''I think we might want to make some small adjustments, and maybe the television companies can think of ways to improve it,'' 63-year-old Williams added.

Super Aguri eyes Dominguez for ’07  Mexican Champ Car driver Mario Dominguez’s official website says that Mario will land an F1 ride in 2007.  According to this story some sponsors, and especially Televisa, Mexico’s biggest TV network, will put Dominguez in a Super Aguri car. The story says that Dominguez has confirmed that a team has contacted him but that it’s not time to give any names out. The story claims a close source confirmed it was Super Aguri and that Mario will do some testing during the year for Super Aguri.
Legge to boost race attendance  New Grand Prix of Denver general manager Rob Johnson is betting Katherine Legge will be to the Champ Car World Series what Danica Patrick is to the rival Indy Racing League.

Johnson, former president of the defunct Pikes Peak International Raceway, is six months removed from the hype surrounding Patrick's first IRL race at the 1-mile oval in Fountain.

Johnson expects the same attention when Legge, who will make her Champ Car debut April 9 at the Long Beach Grand Prix, makes her first start at the Grand Prix of Denver on Aug. 13.

"It's great for the sport to have competitive female drivers, and with Danica, she gave us a ton more awareness for our event," Johnson said. "We had people who knew about our event that never knew anything about us before Danica. She was definitely good for the IRL and I think Katherine - assuming she's going to be competitive, and what I'm hearing is that she will be - she'll be great for Champ Car."  More at Denver Post

Closing of PPIR may boost Denver race attendance  Rob Johnson, who recently was named vice president of Sutton International Motorsports and the general manager of the Grand Prix of Denver, said  "This Turbo Tour is a big positive for the Champ Car World Series," Johnson said. "Plus, it gives more exposure to the Grand Prix of Denver."

Johnson served as the president of Pikes Peak International Raceway (PPIR) in Fountain for the past seven years before the facility was bought by the International Speedway Corporation and then closed unexpectedly on Oct. 31. The Indy Racing League, a rival to the Champ Car World Series, competed at PPIR.

"I think having the Champ Car World Series race in Denver and the IRL race in PPIR a week apart last year really confused the market," Johnson said. "People were basically put in a position where they had to choose what race to go to. Now that PPIR is closed, people can focus on coming to the Grand Prix of Denver."  More at Rocky Mountain News

Chesson eyes ride with Hemelgarn  UPDATE This rumor, first broke by AutoRacing1.com, is now 'fact' - see Hot News page for story.

03/04/06 Rumors out of Homestead have IPS driver PJ Chesson from Far Hills, NJ talking to Ron Hemelgarn about a full-time ride in 2006.  We hear Gene Simmons, who has taken a liking to PJ, is helping land sponsorship.  The team hopes to race the entire season starting with the opening race in Homestead.

In 2004 he earned three consecutive IPS victories at Michigan, Kentucky and Pikes Peak and recorded second-place finishes at Milwaukee and California.

NBA star to partner with Hemelgarn  UPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today - see Hot News page for story.

03/14/06 While we expect this rumor to become 'fact' this week we have to wonder if the IRL knows what they are getting into with this new team owner.

According to this Channel 7 News article, Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony is featured in an underground DVD that is circulating in his hometown of Baltimore, Md. The DVD is called "Stop Snitching" and shows alleged drug dealers talking about what happens to people who cooperate with the police, and Anthony is standing next to one of them.

He is also seen on the DVD talking about his Olympic bronze medal and saying that he threw it in a lake. The man he stands next to later goes on to tell how he would take care of snitches by "putting a hole in their head."

It's an interesting read on the background of the soon to be newest IRL team co-owner. Is this the kind of guy open wheel racing needs at this juncture? The IRL has already had to live through the Al Unser Jr arrest and jail stories, and the Larry Curry arrest and jail stories.

03/14/06 Rumor has it that Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony will officially announce a partnership with Indianapolis 500-winning team owner Ron Hemelgarn at a press conference on Wednesday, March 15 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Two more Champ Car drivers to be announced  Sources tell us that a Champ Car driver will be announced today with another slated to be announced on Monday.  Slowly the seats are beginning to fill up.
Briscoe out, Tagliani in at Team Australia  UPDATE #13 Our previous update to this rumor stated that Ryan Briscoe turned down the offer from Team Australia.  Now reports are coming in that Alex Tagliani has concluded a deal with Team Australia.  This French website supports those reports.  It now appears that Team Australia's two drivers will be Will Power and Alex Tagliani.

03/10/06 Latest word is that Ryan Briscoe turned down the offer that was made to him from Team Australia, though we hear they are still negotiating.  If they cannot come to terms that may open the door for Tagliani to stay with the team.

03/09/06 Ryan Briscoe has already signed to drive for the Holden Racing Team in the endurance races in the Australian V8 Supercar Series. The dates of the races do not clash with Champ Car so Briscoe could yet appear in America if a deal is done with Team Australia as we heard.

03/08/06 We rumored this months ago but as the clock ticks away toward the season opener we are hearing more news on who will drive for whom.  Hearing that Team Australia will indeed be all Australian in 2006 - look for Ryan Briscoe and Will Power to be teammates.  Look for Alex Tagliani, who did a good job for the team last year to possibly return to his former team.

02/06/06 Ryan Briscoe's agent has talked with Walker about a third car and Team Australia is very interested but doesn't have funding as yet.

"Would we like to run Briscoe? Absolutely, bring it on," continued Walker. "I've talked with his manager and the only thing stopping us from running three cars is money.

"Right now I'm not planning on it but never say never and we've still got a couple months before the season starts."  ChampCar.ws

01/13/06 Another AutoRacing1.com source has told us they too hear that Briscoe may go to Team Australia. 

01/09/06 The rumor mill says that Team Australia may have scooped up Ryan Briscoe, not only because he is fast, but because he is Australian. In fact Briscoe and Mark Webber are rated as the two most talented Australians in racing right now. This rumor makes too much sense. Team Australia could run a 3-car team of Will Power, Briscoe and Alex Tagliani - a very formidable lineup we might add.

01/04/06 AutoRacing1.com as learned that Briscoe has not signed a deal with PKV Racing and is not likely to.  He is still looking.  We also hear da Matta won't be back with the team.

 01/03/06 Reports are now that Australian Kevin Kalkhoven has indeed signed Australian Ryan Briscoe for his PKV Racing team in 2006.  This will be another big boost to the Surfers Paradise, Australia race, already the biggest on the circuit.

12/29/05 According to this Sydney, Australia newspaper article, Briscoe is close to signing with PKV Racing. However, the article offers no further evidence or quotes to back up that claim. Sydney driver Ryan Briscoe is poised to sign with Champ Car team PKV Racing in a bid to keep his US open-wheeler career alive.

Briscoe was dumped from his seat with Chip Ganassi in the rival IndyCar series in favor of England's reigning Indy 500 champion Dan Wheldon. But the Australian has impressed in a hectic round of testing - which also included a return to Formula One - this month.

He is now fully recovered from his nightmare accident at Chicagoland on September 11 when his Indy race car hit a safety wall, split in half and burst into flames.

Briscoe was one of two Ryans taking part in a shoot-out for PKV at the Sebring track - alongside Ryan Dalziel - with both drivers setting their sights on a full-time race drive with the team in 2006.

Under the watchful eye of team owner and 1996 Champion Jimmy Vasser, Briscoe set the second fastest time of the day around the 1.65-mile South Florida layout. He was just 0.4 seconds from returning CART star Bruno Junqueira, who set the pace.  More ...

FIA, GPMA divided on standard ECU - Report  The chances of a final agreement being reached between the manufacturers and the FIA to head off the threat of a breakaway now depend on a deal over standard ECUs in Formula One, autosport.com reports.

The Autosport article says that high level sources say there remain major differences of opinion between the manufacturers and the FIA over plans for a standard ECU.

Supposedly Mosley held talks with individual manufacturer representatives over the course of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend and the one consistent area of concern for each of the carmakers was the standard ECU.   Mosley believes that standard ECUs are best for F1 to eliminate cheating, traction control and high costs.  The FIA even has gone as far as putting out a request for proposal to various companies who may bid on being the 'spec' ECU supplier.

'MF1' to race Russian driver in 2007  (GMMf1NET) Midland's F1 team could put a Russian in the racing cockpit as soon as next year, according to 'MF1' owner Alex Shnaider.

The naturalized Canadian, who nonetheless was born in Russia, sang the praises of 24-year-old test driver Roman Rusinov, 24, in the 'Sovietsky Sport' publication.

Asked when a Russian driver might race for the team with a Russian license, Shnaider said: ''I think no earlier than 2007.

''Naturally, we all want a Russian driver behind the wheel of (the) car, but Roman needs to spend the season as our test driver to get used to the car and amass experience.''

Shnaider, who is younger than Michael Schumacher (37) but already a billionaire, admitted to frustration that Midland had largely failed to attract any Russian sponsorship for his team.

He explained: ''(But) it's not that simple. Even in the West, it takes several years to hammer out top deals.

''I'm sure that now, with a totally Russian team with a flag on board, interest in sponsorship will increase.''

McLaren 'b' team to wait until 2008 - Wurz  (GMMf1NET)  McLaren's prospective 'b' team is likely to wait until 2008 to enter formula one, according to Alexander Wurz.

The Austrian driver may no longer work for the silver team, but he is personally sponsored by 'Direxiv' -- the Japanese company that could fund the new squad.

Experienced and technically astute Wurz, 32, would be an ideal pilot for 'Direxiv', while his former Benetton teammate Jean Alesi is tipped to take a leading managerial role.

''In two years' time (2008),'' he told the 'Austria Presse Agentur' (apa) agency, ''a F1 team will cost substantially less to run.

''It would thus make sense to wait.''

Kimi signs Ferrari deal - reports  UPDATE #8 Kimi Raikkonen has fended off fresh speculation that his switch to Ferrari in 2007 is now signed and sealed.

Germany's 'Bild' newspaper reported this week that the presently McLaren-driving Finn will earn $150 million over the next five years at Maranello, complementing reports that Michael Schumacher has penned a new $91.2 million deal to stay in red until the end of 2008.

26-year-old Raikkonen, however, denied the latest gossip, which now includes reports that his managerial team may have visited the Toyota HQ in Cologne.

''I have not signed a new contract with anybody,'' Kimi said, '(and) this Ferrari thing is written again and again, but there is nothing new (to report).''

Indeed, according to the 'Sport1.de' publication in Germany, Kimi might have baulked at news that Schumacher - with a definite 'number one' clause in his existing Ferrari contract - is eyeing a new deal.

Kimi reportedly said: ''I will not play second fiddle to anyone.''

03/14/06  German media reports that Kimi Raikkonen's move from McLaren-Mercedes to Ferrari in the new year has been finalized.

Bild newspaper quotes an unnamed "McLaren insider" as saying that the Finn has made up his mind -- in favor of Ferrari.

If other rumors can be believed, it looks like it will be a powerful Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen lineup at Ferrari in 2007. Schumacher's manager Willi Weber said at the Bahrain Grand Prix that although the timetable had not changed, he had made an arrangement to discuss the issue with Ferrari about Schumacher's re-signing with the Scuderia.

"There will be no announcements before summer. But it is clear that positive results, like the one in Bahrain, will have a positive effect on any discussions," he told Bild.

In Bahrain, McLaren boss Ron Dennis admitted in that Raikkonen could be departing from the silver team at year's end.

"If Kimi or Juan Montoya thinks their future is best served by driving for another team that's what they should do," he said. "But it's a two way street: if we think our future is best served by contracting another driver for next year, that's what we'll do."

03/03/06 Kimi Raikkonen has feebly countered near-overwhelming speculation that his pen has now sealed his switch to Ferrari in 2007.

After Finnish, Spanish and German sources concurred this week that the McLaren driver is sure to leave Woking based McLaren at the end of the year after signing a contract, a sound bite reportedly attributed to the taciturn Finn has now cropped up in the 'Ilta-Sanomat' newspaper.

Raikkonen, 26, apparently said: ''I'm not a Ferrari driver -- not yet.''

More vehemently, however, he also denied gossip that where he ends up will depend on Michael Schumacher's mid-year decision about his own career at Ferrari.

''What Schumacher does has no influence on my future,'' Kimi reportedly added.  More ...

Lester to attempt Cup start  UPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Houston-based Waste Management, an exclusive NASCAR sponsor, announced today that it has partnered with Bill Lester as he attempts to become the first African-American driver in 20 years to qualify for a NASCAR Cup Series race, according to SportsBusiness Journal’s Scott Warfield. Lester, a Craftsman Truck Series driver, will be piloting the No. 23 Waste Management car for Bill Davis Racing in the Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend. In addition to AMS, Lester’s Waste Management Team is scheduled to compete in Cup races at Michigan International Speedway in June and California Speedway in September. Lester’s No. 23 will also be supported by Precision Tune Auto Care, SponsorTRAK.com, Valvoline Lubricants, AJCars.com and Race Day on Fox Sports Radio. Atlanta-based Championship Group handles program management and business development for Waste Management. THE DAILY 03/14/06 Lester will attempt to qualify for Sunday's Nextel Cup Golden Corral 500 in a Bill Davis Racing car sponsored by Waste Management. At stake is a chance to become the first African-American in NASCAR's premier series since Willy T. Ribbs finished 37th at Michigan International Speedway on June 15, 1986. Despite huge growth in attendance and TV ratings the last two decades, NASCAR has lagged in attracting minority fans and competitors. Waste Management will sponsor him in Cup races at Michigan on June 18 and at California Speedway on Sept. 3. Lester said there's an option for more races. He will be one of an expected 17 drivers vying for eight unprotected spots in the 43-car field at Atlanta. USA Today

03/12/06 Bill Lester is expected to announce at a Tuesday news conference that he'll attempt to make the Cup race next weekend at Atlanta in a Bill Davis Racing car. If Lester makes the race, he would become the first African-American to compete in a Cup race since Willy T. Ribbs in 1986. Roanoke Times

New McLaren deal ’likely’ for Raikkonen  UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today as German media reports on Tuesday said that Kimi Raikkonen's move from McLaren-Mercedes to Ferrari in the new year has been finalized. Bild newspaper quotes an unnamed "McLaren insider" as saying that the Finn has made up his mind -- in favor of Ferrari. 03/09/06 (GMMf1NET) With speculation in top gear, Kimi Raikkonen is now playing down the possibility that he could switch to Ferrari at the end of the season.

Although the rumor mill seems to think that the 26-year-old driver has signed a contract with the Maranello based team, he was quoted by the 'sid' agency as placing the saga in McLaren's favor.

''The truth is that I have not yet signed with anyone,'' 'iceman' Raikkonen answered, when queried about 2007.

While that statement is nothing new, Kimi goes on to reveal that he is leaning towards staying in silver, where his 2007 McLaren teammate would be Fernando Alonso.

He said: ''It looks more likely that I will stay with McLaren, rather than go somewhere else.''

In the same interview, Kimi also appeared more positive than in the recent past about his 2006-spec McLaren racer.

''The car's handling is good,'' Raikkonen insisted, ''and the whole package is now a lot better. Our lap times improved by about three seconds in the course of winter testing.''

[Editor's Note: If Kimi stays Juan Montoya is out of a job. Might we see him at Ferrari?]

Tire war to color '06 hierarchy  (GMMf1NET) A Michelin-tired car might be quick in the Malaysian heat, but Imola is heading for a Ferrari white-wash, according to Pat Symonds.

Renault's engineering director reckons Bridgestone, rival tire supplier for Ferrari and Williams, will have the upper hand at the first European round of 2006.

''I think in Imola Ferrari will win by a very, very large margin,'' he told Reuters.

With Renault, McLaren, Ferrari, Honda and perhaps even Williams in the running for grand prix victory this year, the season looks set to turn into a race of car development and the swinging fortunes of F1's departing tire war.

Honda's Jenson Button, for example, is particularly looking forward to Malaysia, where hot weather is likely to suit Michelin more than Bridgestone rubber.

''We believe that our car and tires are suited to the conditions,'' sporting director Gil de Ferran agreed.

F1 peace could be declared in Malaysia  (GMMf1NET)  F1 is now 'close' to declaring an end to the war that once threatened to tear the pinnacle of racing apart.

That is the revelation of FIA president Max Mosley, who attended the Bahrain opener for key talks with the carmakers' 'GPMA' group.

Although a meeting on Saturday night failed to see the now highly anticipated 'memorandum of understanding' signed, the Briton says all parties now agree that cost cutting is a must for F1's future beyond '08.

''(An agreement is) much closer than I thought (it) would be,'' Mr. Mosley told ITV.

''Now they're all talking about getting the costs down (and) now the argument (is) how, and that's much easier.''

Mosley suggested that a final agreement could be just weeks away and 'maybe earlier than that'.

Indeed, a source within the 'GPMA' camp confirmed that changes would now be made to the rejected draft memorandum of understanding ahead of a new meeting in Malaysia.

Major changes coming for BHR  Word is that an announcement from Bobby Hamilton Racing (BHR) is forthcoming regarding MAJOR changes, including drivers, at the organization effective following the Atlanta NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race.
McNish eyed by Champion Racing  Sources tell us that Champion Racing is eying Allan McNish for one of the Audi R10's that they will race after LeMans.  With supplies of the new car initially low, Champion wants to make sure the drivers they choose don't crash much, at least for this year.
Low media interest for season opener  Hearing from our sources that media interest in the IRL season opener at Homestead is lower than normal and that the track has extended the credential cutoff date past the original March 3rd deadline. Usually this cutoff date is rarely waved only for major media outlets.
Dennis might pay for Hamilton to drive for another team  Ron Dennis has gone on record that he is prepared to pay to get McLaren protégé Lewis Hamilton into Formula One with a rival team. "It is contractually possible for him to drive for us but if he dominates GP2 he may be attractive to other people as well," he said.

"McLaren is not in the business of making grand prix drivers, it is in the business of winning races, so it is not impossible but unlikely that the first grand prix car he races will be a McLaren.

"If there is something we can do to help him join another team we will.

"The easiest thing is money but we could also supply technical guidance or support or supply engines."

Cup team considering move to Indy?  UPDATE Ray Evernham told reporters Sunday morning in Las Vegas that he is not even considering a move of his NASCAR team to Indy.   “I have not talked to anybody at Indy and we have no intention of moving Evernham Motorsports. We’re more than happy where we’re at. And actually, it’s been distracting to the team because I had a lot of people coming up and asking me about it. I have no idea where that even came from.”

01/06/06 In Darrell Waltrip's latest column at FoxSports: "by the way I was in Indy this past week on some business. There's a rumor going around that some big NASCAR team was thinking about moving to Indianapolis, and I was talking to some folks who may have given me an inside track on who it might be. It's a guy that's got three cars and no crew chiefs, if that helps you any." FoxSports

A Hoosier-Goodyear tire war brewing?  Another Goodyear-Hoosier tire war may be brewing behind the scenes, with reports that Hoosier engineers are testing new tires with Nextel Cup teams and trying to baseline those tires on some specific compounds and designs, to mimic the Goodyears.

One test was reported to have been held in the past week or so at Kentucky Motor Speedway, and the next test is reported to be scheduled for Nashville, both apparently with Dodge drivers. It is unclear which NASCAR Cup teams might be running the tests with Hoosier, and Hoosier's Bob Newton could not be reached for comment.

According to one source, the tests were approved by NASCAR executives, and some Nextel Cup teams were told it was okay to test on the Hoosiers, despite Goodyear's exclusive contract with NASCAR. According to that source, Hoosier will be designing three new types of tires, based on Goodyear designs, for intermediate tracks like Kentucky, Texas and Las Vegas, for short-tracks, and for Daytona.  More at Winston Salem-Journal

Renault Motorsports President steps down  UPDATE This rumor is now upgraded to 'fact.'  Renault motorsport president Patrick Faure stepped through the formula one turnstiles for the last time on Sunday night in Bahrain.

After twenty one years in the sport, the 59-year-old announced to French press that Fernando Alonso's victory had been his final event before retiring.

Sports newspaper L'Equipe said Faure would be replaced by another 59-year-old Frenchman -- Alain Passas.

Renault has confirmed the departure of the F1 team's president Patrick Faure. and stated that fellow 59-year-old Frenchman Alain Dassas will replace him at the start of April, a statement said on Monday. Dassas joined Renault in 1983.

03/12/06 According to reports from Bahrain, Renault Motorsport President Patrick Faure has decided to retire effective immediately after seeing his driver Fernando Alonso win a thrilling F1 season opener in Bahrain. It is expected that Alain Dassa, who is currently in charge of finances, will take his position.
Michelin may stick to F1 - boss  (GMMf1NET) Tire supplier Michelin may not quit formula one at the end of 2006, according to a team boss.

McLaren's Ron Dennis told 'Speed TV' in Bahrain that it is not 'beyond the realms of possibility' that the French marque might have a change of heart and stick around next year.

''We'd love them to continue,'' said the Briton, who is not a fan of the Bridgestone company.

Red Sox owner eyeing NASCAR?  Daytona International Speedway is a long way from Fenway Park, literally and figuratively. But a team of executives from the Red Sox ownership group, including owner John W. Henry, visited the track at the Daytona 500 festivities last month, and sharp-eyed spectators may have spotted a small green Fenway Sports Group logo on the second-place finisher of Daytona's Craftsman Truck Series race. The logo is the most visible sign yet that the Sox ownership is serious about investing in one of the nation's most popular sports. 'It's no secret we've been kicking the tires in NASCAR -- this was a way to get our feet wet," said Mike Dee, president of the team's sports marketing subsidiary, Fenway Sports Group. ''We love the sport. We think the sport is certainly one that's growing exponentially, both nationally and within New England. If it makes sense to do more, we will." Fenway Sports Group became involved in its first NASCAR sponsorship deal in a roundabout way.  More at Boston Globe
A1GP to eye USA street races?  USA A1GP team boss Rick Weidinger is calling for the series to move to street races in the USA.  He told SPEEDTV.com,  "I would like to have four races in North America next season; two in the U.S., one in Canada and one in Mexico. I think our best event so far this year was the Durban street race in South Africa; street races 'force' a community to get involved with it, and that's the way to go."
Carpentier to become stock car driver  UPDATE #4 Patrick Carpentier's open wheel racing career appears to be over, at least for now.  He told SPEEDTV.com, "I don't think I'll be racing open wheel very much this season.   I'm leaning toward NASCAR right now, we're working on a multiple year deal which I hope to announce soon. I cannot say anything else right now, other that I would like to start at the bottom, with ARCA or something like that, and then build up slowly.  Also hoping to do more Grand Am prototypes, I really enjoyed that."

Things have to be pretty bad in open wheel racing for a veteran like Carpentier to have to go all the way down to ARCA to restart his career.

02/24/06 Canadian Patrick Carpentier is waiting to hear today whether he is in line for the second seat at PKV Racing, autosport.com reports.  The Canadian, currently in Mexico competing in the A1 GP series, said he is expecting a call today and should a PKV ride not happen, he may skip Champ Car altogether in 2006.

"Obviously when Forsythe confirmed Mario Dominguez would be partnering Paul [Tracy] this year, that closed out one option.

"And apparently, if they run a third car, it will be for someone with a budget - and that certainly isn't me! PKV is the other team that I am interested in, but I know a lot of other guys are too, but I hope one way or another I will know today."

Would he consider other Champ Car teams?

"No, Mecachrome [Carpentier's long time backer] are more interested in investigating NASCAR - they think it would make better business sense," Carpentier told Autosport.com.

"We're looking at doing a program of Craftsman Trucks and Busch Series rounds. I'd be interested to try it, for sure. I could end up racing Paul again - that would be fun."

01/19/06 In this Globe and Mail article, Carpentier says, "I would like to give Champ Car another shot because I think I have improved since going to the IRL and I also missed racing in Canada last year. I would love to race there again," he said.

"I don't want to stop open-wheel racing now. I will look at many different things and series. I am going to race at least 15 times this year, but maybe doing different things."

One of the new things he will try is the A1GP series after Carpentier inked a two-race deal with Team Canada to drive in Monterrey, Mex., on Feb. 26 and again March 12 at Laguna Seca, Calif.  More ...

Newey to Red Bull?  (GMMf1NET) Adrian Newey may only recently have signed a three-year contract to switch from McLaren to Red Bull, but already rumor-mongers are tracing the lauded engineer's next F1 move.

Red Bull is powered by a semi-works Ferrari V8, so perhaps the Briton is merely being 'parked' at Milton Keynes before Ferrari swoop, the Italian 'Gazzetta dello Sport' daily newspaper wondered.

''Ferrari's future is constructed without Newey,'' said boss Jean Todt.

''But in five years' time, I have no idea who will be even in my role.''

Schu likely to 'disappear' - Todt  (GMMf1NET) Jean Todt has dismissed theories that Michael Schumacher will become a formula one team owner, or perhaps a Western horse rider, when he finally retires.

''I really do not know,'' the Ferrari principal told Gazzetta dello Sport, ''but I wouldn't be surprised if he just disappeared.''

Todt said: ''I cannot imagine him watching grands prix on TV, or becoming a commentator.''

Houston to replace Sebring as favorite test track  UPDATE We did some checking to get the correct name of this track.  It is now called MSR Houston, with the MSR standing for Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land Road Course .  Here is their website www.msrhouston.com .  Note the schedule: Rocketsports is listed to test there on March 14 and 15.

03/11/06 For years Sebring in central Florida has been the favorite test track in the cold winter months for Champ Car teams.  All that could be about to change as the new Houston Motorsport Ranch on the outskirts of the city appears to have it all over Sebring.

"This is our first time at this track and let me tell you, it’s one of the most fun tracks I’ve ever driven," said Paul Tracy after testing there this week.

"It’s got a nice combination of slow, medium and high speed corners, with one of the quickest road course corners anywhere.  I was coming in there in seventh gear and not even lifting at the turn in; just a great place to test everything from shocks to aero."

Forsythe teammate Dominguez was equally impressed: "What an amazing facility this is," he said.


Ferrari wing illegal?  According to Renault Engineering Director Pat Symonds, the Ferrari 248 F1's rear wing is illegal even though there is nothing against the rules about it. He claims that the wing flexes too much, but the FIA inspectors say it passes all tests per the current rulebook. Symonds says that although it passes the tests, it is against the intent of the rule, hence should be declared illegal.

"I am not at all happy about it. It is very clear what you can or cannot do. There might be specific rules about specific parts, but there are also general rules and I know exactly what that wing does. And that is not what I would expect."

Ferrari could have gone faster  Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn has warned rivals that they are out to reclaim the World Championship, starting in Bahrain.

The Englishman told ITV Sport presenter Steve Rider "We had two options to go for the last session where we have to use race fuel levels and believe it or not we actually went for the conservative choice," revealed Brawn.

"We had a more aggressive choice which I'm now glad we didn't do because it wouldn't have been quite as strong in the race, so I'm very interested to see how things work out."

Ferrari of course also benefited from extensive off-season testing in Bahrain while others chose to not make the long trek to the desert track.

V8 Supercars
Rocketsports eyes Lyons  UPDATE Rocketsports did of course test Richard Lyons, but we have not heard whether he will land a ride in Champ Car or not.  Meanwhile, the Irishman will star at the 2006 V8 Supercar long distance races with the Triple Eight Race Engineering-operated Team Betta Electrical.

12/09/05 Sources tell us that Rocketsports will soon announce that they are testing Richard Lyons next week in Sebring.  Lyons made his motorsports debut racing karts in 1988, at only nine years old.  In 1996, at the age of 17, he was promoted to Formula Ford.  That same year, he also competed in the Formula Vauxhall Winter Series and was crowned the champion.  The next two years the talented Irishman spent racing in the Formula Vauxhall Junior Series, where he finished as the runner-up in the 1998 season.  Lyons moved on to the Formula Parmer-Audi Series the following year and finished second in the points standings.  In 2000, he continued running in the Formula Parmer-Audi Series in addition to running in the Formula Renault 2000 Series. 

His career was limited to single-seaters through 2000, and then he set his sights on Japan and the Formula Nippon Championship for 2001.  That same year, he participated in his first endurance race, the Suzuka 1000km in a McLaren F1GTR.  From 2002 through 2005, Lyons continued competing in the Formula Nippon Championship, while adding racing in the Japanese GT Series to his resume.  2004 was a big year, one that changed Lyons name to Champion, not just in one of the series, but both.

This will be the first time Lyons gets behind the wheel of a Champ Car.

Ecclestone to buy stake in Ferrari  Bernie Ecclestone has said he would be interested in becoming a shareholder in Ferrari, after Mediobanca said this week that it planned to sell its 15% stake in the team.

Ecclestone told Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport today, "Yes, the thing interests me," he said. "I have always loved Ferrari, its history and Enzo Ferrari.  Today it is a great industry and it would appeal to me to own a piece of it. So I am interested but it depends, as always, on how much they want."

Aguri facing new car delay  (GMMf1NET) Super Aguri is likely to race the modified four-year-old Arrows for some time, with team boss Aguri Suzuki admitting that staff at Leafield HQ are only now beginning a new car.

Originally, whispers suggested that a bespoke 'SA06' might be ready to replace its dated predecessor as soon as the Imola (San Marino) race late next month.

But Japan's Suzuki said in Bahrain: ''(We have) only 100 people (in the team).

''With the season starting, it's very difficult to get the new car developed, but it's been started now.''

Suzuki also revealed that some Honda engineers are helping the team to get up to speed.

Bruton looking to buy track?  Bruton Smith reiterated Friday that he would not move dates from one of his tracks to add a second date to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Smith did not rule out, however, that he could buy an existing track and request to move that track's Nextel Cup dates to one of his tracks such as Las Vegas.
Vasser to drive in Long Beach  UPDATE This rumor is now upgraded to 'fact' as Kevin Kalkhoven has confirmed that Jimmy Vasser will drive in Long Beach in a third PKV entry.  "Jimmy didn't announce his retirement in 2005, because he was so unsure whether he could be a good team owner and driver simultaneously, so he hasn't yet really had a send-off," Kalkhoven told autosport.com. "So with him being Californian, we figured that a race in front of the Long Beach crowd would be a great way for a champion to sign off his career.

"I'm not so sure Long Beach will be his finale at all - I think there's every chance he could drive a third car at some more rounds, such as maybe San Jose and Road America. He's still got the fire burning; Jimmy could end up making more comebacks than Cher."

03/08/06 According to this TSN.ca article, PKV Racing may run a third car at Long Beach for Jimmy Vasser - alongside regular drivers Katherine Legge and Oriol Servia.

A1GP cancels USA race? No  UPDATE #3 Our sources tell us that the circuit had not received the payment due under the terms of their contract for the track usage and rental. The circuit rightly so, was not going to spend any money on the track and there was a hint of legal action, so the circuit forced the payment to be made by the A1GP organizers.  A1GP paid up this week so the race is on.

03/05/06 Organizers of the A1 Grand Prix series have confirmed the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, California, USA, scheduled to run at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on 10-12 March 2006 will go ahead as planned.

An initial inspection of the track by A1 Grand Prix officials raised concerns over the volume of rain that has fallen over recent weeks, hindering the ongoing preparation of the facility for the penultimate round of the World Cup of Motorsport. Following substantial discussions with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, A1 Grand Prix have been assured that Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca officials will do everything within their control to prepare the track for the A1 Grand Prix of Nations.

'Despite challenges brought on by the prevailing weather conditions, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is confident that the track will be presented to the necessary standard required to host an A1 Grand Prix event,' stated A1GP chief operating officer, David Clare. 'We will now continue to work with the circuit to ensure the US race meets the impeccable standards dictated by A1GP.'

03/05/06 Some rumors are suggesting that heavy rains in California have left the soil adjacent to the Laguna Seca track unsuitable for a race. However, our sources say they are just using that as an excuse to cancel the race because interest in the event by Americans is near zero. It's all sand around the track, which drains well and can be easily fixed with a grader.

03/05/06 Rumor has it that A1GP has cancelled the next race at Laguna Seca in California. Long ago AutoRacing1.com questioned the viability of that race but it was denied by race officials. If true, this is the 2nd race to be cancelled as the Brazil round was previously cancelled. Speculation is that the cancellation is due to financial reasons. Stay tuned for updates.

Risi Ferrari lineup  AutoRacing1.com sources at Sebring this morning tell us that Jamie Melo and Anthony Lazzaro have signed to drive the Risi Ferrari for 2006.  We await the official announcement.
Montoya’s Merc in trouble too  With Kimi Raikkonen believed to be in technical trouble, his McLaren teammate Juan Pablo Montoya may also be demoted ten places on the Bahrain grid after a glitch was found on his Mercedes V8.

Some reports from the Sakhir circuit, however, suggest that 26-year-old Raikkonen's problem could be isolated to the electrics, with a new engine not definitely necessary.

The necessity of Montoya's change, too, has also not been confirmed.

Carmichael eyes NASCAR  Motorcross racer, Ricky Carmichael, may trade in his two-wheel ride for NASCAR's four-wheel variety, perhaps as soon as 2008. He has a friend, mentor and supporter in Kasey Kahne, who spent last Saturday -- on a rare weekend off from Nextel Cup -- hanging out with Carmichael at the AMA Supercross at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. Kahne and Carmichael are the same age (26) and share the same passion for racing, having met at the Daytona 500 in 2004 and immediately becoming friends. That friendship has helped increase Carmichael's interest in four-wheel racing. Kahne offered to set up a taste of driving a stock car last summer and Carmichael accepted. They went to the one-third mile, semi-banked Hickory Speedway in North Carolina, a classic short track where many NASCAR drivers have run before they hit the big time. Ray Evernham, Kahne's Cup team owner, provided a late model and went along to oversee the preparation. Kahne drove to set it up. Carmichael not only didn't hit the wall, but also put in some good laps for a guy driving a stock car for the first time. "Ricky did a great job," Kahne said. "He did it right. We had a lot of fun." The experience convinced Carmichael that driving in NASCAR is something he intends to pursue. "It's a dream of mine, for sure," he said. More at CNNSI
McLaren ready to unleash 'b' team  (GMMf1NET) McLaren's old factory in Woking is ready to house a 'b' formula one team.

That is the suggestion of principal Ron Dennis, who said in Bahrain that he was waiting on an FIA rule-change to speed up plans for a second outfit.

Throughout last year, it was strongly rumored that 'Direxiv' was planning to fund a 'b' team, using Mercedes-Benz engines and old McLaren chassis.

But, under the current provisions of the Concorde Agreement, running a team's old car is strictly forbidden.

''If there is (rule) clarity then that will definitely encourage us to move in that direction,'' Dennis said.

The Briton described McLaren's former HQ in Woking as 'pristine' after a thorough revamp.

He added: ''The investment was made in order that an option of running a second team exists.''

Ecclestone to kill breakaway series by weekend  UPDATE #2 McLaren boss Ron Dennis believes the row over F1's future will be settled, avoiding any breakaway series threat.  McLaren are one of five teams who have so far refused to commit to F1 beyond the 2007 season in a row over money and the way the sport is governed.

"Our objective has always been to find a way forward that works for everyone. "I think everyone in F1 will be in F1 in 2008 on the basis of this issue."

"If Formula One exists we want to be in Formula One. "We are not going to put ourselves in a position where we don't compete."  BBC Sport

03/08/06 A breakaway group of F1 teams -– Renault, Mercedes, BMW, Toyota and Honda -– are “closer than ever” to an agreement to remain in the series when the Concorde Agreement expires after the ’07 season, according to Kevin Eason of the London Times. F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone is “prepared to dilute his power over [F1] and double payments to the teams, if it means that they will stay within his lucrative fold.” Ecclestone is expected to make “hefty increased payments” to the teams beginning in ’08, as well as “allow them two representatives on the board that makes crucial decisions” over the series’ future. A spokesperson for the teams said, “We are more optimistic than we have been for a long time.” Meanwhile, Eason notes Ecclestone is “in the middle of an effort to tie up a deal for future ownership with CVC, one of the biggest sports marketing businesses in the world”  London Times

03/06/06 The threat of a rebel group setting up a breakaway series to rival Formula One is expected to be averted this week.   An agreement should be reached between F1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone and the five members of the Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association, who want a greater say in the running of the sport and are unhappy about the distribution of revenues.

Ecclestone said: "I would be surprised if all the issues between us are not settled before the race in Bahrain [on Sunday]. What we can agree on the technical side is dependent on how much money they want to save, but they will save a huge amount without adversely affecting the technical excellence of F1. It will remain the pinnacle of motor sport.

"We cannot continue to look as if this sport is a battle of the biggest budget. That way, at current spending, will ruin the sport and the companies. There is a point, probably long since past, when the cost of trying to win races and the championship outweighs the value of being successful. I think there is a mood of conciliation now. The teams will earn double what they got before." Telegraph.co.uk

Austrian eyes Atlantic Series  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  See Hot News page for announcement.

02/26/06 After testing Walker Racing's Champ Car last February (See related story) Austrian Norbert Siedler is seriously considering the new Champ Car Atlantic Series for 2006 as the overall winner will be awarded with a $2 million bonus to secure a ride in the Champ Car World Series. Three weeks before the brand new Cosworth-powered Champ Car Atlantic racer starts its official preseason testing program the 23year old Austrian made an impressive debut in the old car at the Phoenix International Raceway in Arizona.

“I want to thank John Brooks and his BAR-Team for that great experience”, said Siedler after achieving the best lap time on Thursday. “I didn’t expect that the old car was already as good in quick corners and I guess that the new one will also benefit from the stronger Cosworth-engine. But even more important for me is the fact that I can graduate up to the Champ Car World Series just based on my own performance and that the Atlantic drivers are intensively watched on every single race weekend.”

Team principal John Brooks, who was extremely impressed by Norbert's natural speed, made it clear that the Austrian hopeful would be a perfect addition to Venezuelan Luis Schiavo, whom he had signed two weeks ago.

NASCAR contemplating '07 schedule changes  A new television package and concerns over attendance and TV ratings for some events could lead to a change in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series schedule, with changes coming as early as 2007, some in the sport believe. NASCAR typically doesn't begin the process of signing sanctioning agreements and putting its schedule together for the following year until it has visited tracks on the current schedule. However, with a new eight-year agreement that includes Fox, Speed, TNT and ABC/ESPN partners beginning in 2007, NASCAR may consider shuffling some dates to improve both ratings and attendance figures. "I haven't heard anything yet," car owner Richard Childress said March 4, "but I wouldn't be surprised. "I think with the new TV package, you better be prepared for what may have to happen. I think that [the TV package] will dictate not only the time of the race on the schedule but where we may even go as well." The season-opening Daytona 500, which was broadcast on NBC, pulled in 37.2 million viewers and a record 11.3 household rating according to the network, making it the highest-rated NASCAR event in the sport's history. The following week's race in Fontana, Calif., however, registered a 7.4 rating, down from a 7.9 rating the previous year. Attendance for the California race, as well, appeared to be down. NASCAR Daily Scene
Bahrain test waste of time?  According to Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso the teams traveling to Bahrain last month were wasting their time. The Spaniard believes the Renault team took the right decision not to join the others for a one-week test. Honda, Ferrari and Toro Rosso visited the track in Sakhir three weeks ago to prepare themselves for the Bahrain Grand Prix. "I think it was better to stay in Europe than to travel to Bahrain with the other teams," Alonso told Sport Auto Moto. "Because there were only a few teams there the track was very dirty. They must have lost a lot of time when the track needed to be cleaned."

"I think the teams traveling to Bahrain for that test were wasting their time and money."

Red Bull to continue USA spending spree  UPDATE The MetroStars are expected to be purchased by Red Bull GmbH, the Austrian company behind the popular caffeine-loaded beverage. The sale by Anschutz Entertainment Group was approved by Major League Soccer's Board of Governors at a meeting in Manhattan on Wednesday.  The price tag is estimated at $30 million.  An official announcement is expected Thursday.

03/08/06 This NY Times article says, The Austrian company that makes and markets Red Bull, an energy drink, could emerge as the new owner and operator of the MetroStars after a meeting of Major League Soccer's board of governors today in New York.

Red Bull, which has its North American headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., bought the SV Wüstenrot Salzburg club last year and renamed it SV Red Bull Salzburg. After a change of management and an infusion of money, the once-struggling team is now in second place in Austria's first division. (Red Bull also sponsors a racing team that will begin competing in NASCAR next year and owns two F1 teams.)

"We've had numerous inquiries about the MetroStars the last few years and we see it as a sign of value in M.L.S.," Dan Courtemanche, the league's vice president for communications, said in a telephone interview. Asked if the deal could be announced after the meeting today, he said, "The meeting will discuss all aspects of the business of M.L.S."

Still some uncertainty with Laguna race?  There still seems to be some uncertainty about the A1GP race at Laguna this weekend. Unsubstantiated rumors suggest that the SCCA will not participate in the event with their Miata race (They officially cancelled it - see this page), and that they will not be providing timing and scoring or other support services for the races. NASA has a Southern and Northern event this weekend, making it impossible for their support teams to help out at the A1GP. Infineon has their own safety crews and timing and scoring, but those teams are headed to Las Vegas for NASCAR. This leaves A1GP in desperate need of support for their races this weekend! It is probably too late to cancel the event for this weekend as many teams are arriving today for the weekend, but the fear is that this race will be incredibly disorganized! We assume they will find some group to support the event.
$240m Nurburgring upgrade to sink Hockenheim  (GMMf1NET)  With the future of Hockenheim in serious doubt (see rumor below), Germany's other formula one host has vowed to plough $240m into upgrading its track.

Nurburgring boss Walter Kafitz told the 'Rheinzeitung' newspaper that the revamp - masterminded by renowned F1 architect Hermann Tilke - will be the biggest since 1927.

Among the Nurburgring facelift, to be partly financed by private investors, will be a new main grandstand, a four-star hotel and shops.

Construction approval for the upgrade is already being sought, the German newspaper said.

Honda may implement new traction control device  The IRL is experimenting with a new traction-control device - which helps keep tires from spinning to the point of losing grip with the racing surface - and a new gear setup that eliminates the "shift with no lift" technique. IRL director of engineering Jim Horton said a new traction control device will be implemented for both competitive and cost-control reasons, but Honda representatives said there is no guarantee it will be back at all. If it does return, teams would not be able to use their own traction control system or tinker with the new uniform system.  St. Petersburg Times
Servia to drive for PKV in 2006  UPDATE #4  In a story broke by AutoRacing1.com back in early January, this rumor is now 'fact.'  We knew it was fact all along but were asked not to state it as such.

Kevin Kalkhoven told autosport.com: "We're building the team for the future, and as such we thought it would be good to have an experienced driver alongside Katherine this year.

"The simple fact is that Oriol isn't just experienced but a very good driver, as he proved with second in the championship last year. He will be a great addition to PKV Racing."

Katherine Legge is looking forward to using her new teammate's knowledge.

"It's extremely exciting to have somebody as experienced and talented as Oriol joining me at PKV," she said. "There is obviously a lot I can learn from him."

Our Champ Car Silly Season page was updated with this news as 'fact' weeks ago.

03/07/06 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, It's getting late and I can't believe Oriol Servia does not have a ride for 2006.  What gives?  Pete Parker, Philadelphia

Dear Pete, As we were the first to break the news back on January 9th, we fully expect Oriol Servia to line up alongside Katherine Legge at PKV.  Since then nothing has happened for us to alter our previous prediction.  Servia and Legge at PKV Racing.  Mark C.

02/04/06 According to our latest information, Oriol Servia may be placed at HVM and that Franck Montagny, based on his recent test results, may get the PKV Racing seat alongside Legge.  Our sources tell us that Jim McGee was quite impressed with the Frenchman.  Of course we have also rumored that Rocketsports wants Montagny, so it's all a bit silly right now.  We'll update our Silly Season page again.  That's why they call it Silly Season. The one thing we do know is that the Champ Car Silly Season page is downright embarrassing for the series.  It's now February and the majority of sponsors and drivers are still very much up in the air. Meanwhile the IRL, Grand-Am, NASCAR and F1 all have their teams, drivers and sponsors pretty much nailed down and have already started their marketing campaigns around them.  Champ Car had better start making some announcements soon or people will begin to wonder whether 2006 will be a year of progress or a step backwards.

01/09/06 We have updated our 2006 Champ Car Silly Season page (link above) accordingly.

01/09/06 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Oriol Servia could drive for Newman/Haas again in 2006 as they are trying to run a third car, but what we are hearing is that he will probably drive for PKV Racing alongside Katherine Legge.  This makes a lot of sense, one rookie and one veteran with Jimmy Vasser acting as team owner and driver coach (for Legge).  OWRS also wants to ensure that Servia, 2nd in the 2005 championship, has a good ride for 2006.

If our sources are correct, Cristiano da Matta will be looking for another ride and we have to wonder if he, or perhaps Timo Glock, will end up in the third Newman/Haas seat.  Our sources say that if Champ Car wants to keep Glock and his DHL sponsorship, he must be in a car capable of winning races on a regular basis in 2006.

Button an F1 flop?  F1 racing flop Jenson Button is hotly tipped to finish the new season without winning a single race.

Button, 26, has yet to grab a Grand Prix victory and is 7/4 with bookies William Hill to finish the campaign empty-handed.

Button is fourth favorite to win the opening Grand Prix of the season in Bahrain this weekend behind Michael Schumacher at 4/1 and Kimi Raikkonen at 10/3.

World champion Fernando Alonso, favorite to win at 11/4, is convinced he has what it takes to successfully defend his crown.

"In 2006, I know we have a competitive car, so my only goal is to repeat the title," said Alonso. Daily Mirror

McLaren to unveil major sponsor deal  UPDATE This rumor is now 'fact' with today's announcement - see Hot News page.

03/07/06 (GMMf1NET) McLaren is expected to announce a new major sponsorship with Dubai's 'Emirates' airline for the 2006 season.

To plug the gap left by departed tobacco sponsor 'West', but before new title sponsor Vodafone joins next year, a 2006-only arrangement will probably be outlined at a press conference on Wednesday.

According to media sources, Emirates' deal - to be unveiled at the Hotel Schweizerhof in Berlin - is worth an estimated $20-25m to the Ron Dennis-led F1 squad.

The sponsorship might explain the prominent bright red on the wings of McLaren's new chrome livery, with the color being a feature of Emirates' corporate logo.

Daytona to open and close ’07 NASCAR season  Many have said that NASCAR should hold their Super Bowl at the end of the season instead of the beginning like most sports. Rumor has it that NASCAR will have two Super Bowls at Daytona starting in 2007, one at the beginning to open the season (Daytona 500) and one at the end to close it (Pepsi 400). On a Castrol GTX sweepstakes page, the grand prize is listed as: (1) Grand Prize: 4-day/3-night trip for two (2) to the 2007 Pepsi 400 race currently scheduled for November 2007 in Daytona, FL.

Was that a typo or is the cat out of the bag? Sure makes a lot more sense than closing the season in Homestead.

New F1 teams on road to F1 - Bernie  (GMMf1NET) A wave of new formula one teams is marching towards the grid, according to Bernie Ecclestone.

Although quiet at present, the 75-year-old F1 supremo promised to tell the racing world more about it later in the 2006 season.

''At the European grand prix (May 5-7) we will know a little more,'' Bernie told the 'Kicker' sports magazine.

He said: ''It should be a good year. We have a much better qualifying system and soon we should have a few new teams.''

Names including David Richards, Roger Penske, Gerhard Berger, Misato Haga, Eddie Jordan, and even Michael Schumacher, have been mentioned in relation to 2008's more favorable rules for private teams.

Two tracks may share German GP  UPDATE #4 F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has suggested that he will consider annually rotating Germany's two grands prix.

With Hockenheim in financial strife and Nurburgring also failing to draw huge crowds to its 'European' fixture, the latter proposed that they be allowed to alternate the honor of staging a single German race.

75-year-old Ecclestone said: ''But, to be honest, I would be surprised if we really have to resort to that.''

However, in the interview with Germany's 'Deutsche Presse-Agentur' (DPA), the Briton added that he was 'surprised' that Hockenheim was struggling to find the money to put on its event.

01/31/06 (GMMf1NET) Hermann Tomczyk has told the formula one world not to be surprised when Hockenheim and the Nurburgring begin alternating as host of a single German GP per year.

Germany's automobile club sport president, and an FIA vice president, told 'ADAC Motorwelt' that he envisages an end to the days where two annual grands prix - the German and European races - are staged in the country.

''The practice is no longer justifiable,'' Tomczyk said. ''I can imagine very well that (the race) alternates, and I can see both (circuits) enjoying benefits.''

Italy, too, hosts two grands prix; one at Monza and the other further south, at Imola.

12/31/05 Hockenheim’s Georg Seiner told the Mannheim Morning newspaper that he wouldn't rule out the proposal.

"We looking into all the options, but we will not make any rash decisions", said Seiner, who added that any such considerations would have to take into account Hockenheim's contract with the FOM to host the German Grand Prix until 2008.

"It's true that the track is in financial problems," added Kafitz.

"It used to be possible to make a lot of money from hosting Formula 1 races, but these times are now past.

"We are not attracting the same amount of fans as we were in 2002 when we had 350,000 spectators for a grand prix at the Nürburgring."

Nurburgring's General Manager Walter Kafitz pointed out that, Ecclestone, who has apparently been consulted over the proposed solution, is keen to expand Formula 1's portfolio of venues.

"He has said before that he wants Formula 1 races in as many countries as possible."

Ecclestone is believed to be considering a third race in North America, while South Korea, Russia, India, Mexico and Dubai have all stated an interest in hosting grands prix in the future.

12/29/05 Hockenheim has not ruled out sharing the German grand prix with the Nurburgring, which is located near the western border of the country.

Traditionally, the two circuits each host an annual grand prix, but - as news broke that Hockenheim is nearing bankruptcy - Nurburgring's Walter Kafitz suggested that both could save money by alternating the formula one honor each year.

Hockenheim managing director George Seiler did not rule out the option, but suggested that the race venue would 'not act overhastily'.

He insisted to the Mannheim Morgen newspaper: ''We are looking in all directions.

''We have a contract until 2008.''

12/28/05 Germany's formula one race could alternate between financially-embattled Hockenheim and the Nurburgring, currently the scene of the European grand prix. The idea is the brainchild of Nurburgring boss Dr. Walter Kafitz, whose own annual F1 event in Germany is also enduring a spectator lull.

The 'SID' agency reports that F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has been receptive to the idea of limiting Germany's race count from two to one per year.  As well as save money for the beleaguered German venues, it would free-up space on the crowded calendar for new destinations like Russia and Mexico.

''Ecclestone knows about it,'' Kafitz confirmed.

He added that many traditional F1 venues no longer make a lot of money from hosting a race.

Kafitz explained: ''In 2002 we had 350,000 people at the Nurburgring on the grand prix weekend.  Those days are long gone.''

Jordan eyes possible return to lower-cost F1  (GMMf1NET) Eddie Jordan says he would consider returning to a lower-cost style of formula one.

The Irishman, who sold his increasingly uncompetitive team to Midland's Alex Shnaider more than a year ago, aimed fire at the sport's carmaker-contingent, blaming them for pricing smaller teams out of speed.

''If the lunatics can be controlled I would have every reason to come back and look at F1,'' Jordan, 57, told the tabloid Daily Express.

'EJ' told the newspaper that had he kept Jordan running in 2005, he would have run out of money and gone out of business.

He said the carmakers have 'no regard' for the private teams and have 'totally abused' the sport with their money.

Jordan also called them 'greedy and selfish' for holding the sport to ransom in the so-called 'breakaway' threat.

And he said: ''I am aggrieved that no young person can afford to get in as I did. I say 'Guys, get real and be responsible'.''

Ide’s F1 debut in doubt  (GMMf1NET) Super Aguri rookie Yuji Ide's formula one debut could be under a dark cloud.

It is reported that the 31-year-old Japanese could still be suffering from headaches and visual problems after a crash in the final round of Japanese GT last season.

According to speculation, Ide might be asked to pass a medical test staged by FIA doctor Dr. Gary Hartstein prior to opening practice for Sunday's Bahrain grand prix.

Indy 500 rumors  We are hearing some pretty wild Indy 500 rumors out of some IRL sources, which you should take with a grain of salt for now.

Hearing Tony George has invested in 10 extra cars for Indy to fill the field.   

Hearing Tony Stewart will start the race.

As we rumored from down in Homestead this past weekend, we are hearing that Al Unser Jr. has been working out with his son to compete at Indy only.

Hearing that Mario Andretti could attempt to qualify for the Indy 500 and make it the first Grandson, Father, and Grandfather combo to start Indy.  If only 33 cars attempt to qualify, he's guaranteed a spot in the race.  Not that he needs a guarantee as he could probably still smoke half the field at 66 years old.

Hearing Tony George might provide a car for Sarah Fisher for Indy only to make it a Danica vs. Sarah story.

Is NASCAR in Andretti Green's future?  Michael Andretti hinted to the Express Times that NASCAR or sports cars could be in Andretti Green Racing's future. 

"Right now we have a lot of new stuff on our plate to contend with," Michael Andretti said by phone from South Florida, where the IRL is holding its preseason spring training at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"We look at all options. We're still looking at options to expand the team. Is NASCAR one of them? Maybe. But there are other areas of racing, too. If we do decide to do something, we want to do it right."

He also mentioned the two premier American road course series -- Grand Am and American Le Mans -- as areas of interest. Fellow IRL team owners Floyd "Chip" Ganassi and Roger Penske both field teams in NASCAR, Grand Am and ALMS.

Wheldon to NASCAR?  UPDATE #2 This rumor will eventually go to 'fact.'  Wheldon's former team owner Michael Andretti told the Express-Times of Easton, Pennsylvania that Ganassi is planning to put Wheldon in their NASCAR squad. Andretti said: "That was part of the deal. That was one of the reasons he went there."

Speaking after the confirmation of Wheldon's Ganassi deal, Wheldon's manager Julian Jakobi told Autosport: "NASCAR in 2007 is quite possible. Ultimately he has to play on a bigger stage than the IRL and that means F1 or NASCAR, which are the two biggest series in the world. The Chip deal includes a progression to NASCAR if Dan wants it."

03/06/06 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today.  If Dan Wheldon has plans to head to NASCAR, he's keeping them private.
Wheldon, the defending Indy Racing League champion who lives in St. Petersburg, has moved to Target Chip Ganassi Racing for 2006. He comes off a sensational 2005 season in which he won six races, including the 89th Indianapolis 500 and Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for Andretti Green Racing.

While it's widely believed Wheldon got a huge raise at Ganassi, there might have been another inducement. Michael Andretti told the Express-Times of Easton, Pa., that Chip Ganassi has promised Wheldon a ride in Nextel Cup as soon as next season.

Asked whether that's true Saturday after a photo shoot at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Wheldon wouldn't answer directly.

"Like anything in my contract, I'm not allowed to discuss it," he said. "That's between me and Chip."

Wheldon expressed interest in NASCAR last year while he was considering his options for 2006.

"I certainly looked at it," he said. "But my focus this year is in the IndyCar series. It's going to be a tough season."  More at TBO.com

12/02/05 In this SPEEDTV article, Robin Miller speculates that Dan Wheldon moved from Andretti Green Racing to Ganassi because Ganassi could offer him a chance to switch to NASCAR in 2007. While certainly that is a plausible scenario, it won't help the IRL in the fact that it will lose one of its biggest names.....again.

Coulthard to stay at Red Bull  David Coulthard is determined to stay at his Red Bull team beyond the end of this season to benefit from the arrival of ex-McLaren designer Adrian Newey. The Scot, 34, told BBC Sport: "Adrian's hand has been part of cars that have won more than 100 Grands Prix.

"The evidence would be that if you give him the resources and support then he will give you a competitive package."

"My motivation is to be in an Adrian-influenced Red Bull in 2007," Coulthard said.

"Obviously the success of teams Adrian worked for is not been entirely down to him," he added.

"The design of cars was led by him. But it's not a solo effort. He needed the team of people around him.

"But it's inevitable that I expect it to make a difference. That's the logic behind the investment.

"Within a few months we should start to feel the influence, but of course next year will be the biggest step because it will be part of an integrally-designed package."

Foster's to end F1 involvement  There are reports in Australia that Foster's will soon end its various sponsorship deals in Formula 1. The Australian company has a five-year $3.7m annual deal to sponsor the Australian Grand Prix and also pays out around $18m a year for other F1 sponsorships, including pouring rights at events. The contracts are up for renewal at the end of the year and Foster's is expected to drop them because of a 1995 deal which means that Foster's gains little from the exposure it is paying for. This is because of an international licensing arrangement with Britain's Scottish & Newcastle brewery which entitles Foster's to just $23m a year from S&N for rights to the Foster's brand in Europe. Foster's sales are estimated to be worth $75m a year to S&N. Foster's itself is not a big brand in Australia and is now developing into a high-end wine company. Grandprix.com
Schumacher and Volkswagen to form team?  UPDATE #2 Michael Schumacher's manager has poured cold water on speculation that the German could be planning to one day run his own formula one team.

Ex-team owner Eddie Jordan recently dropped the bombshell-rumor, claiming that the idea - involving the possible purchase of Renault and the involvement of Volkswagen - was 'being discussed' between Schumacher and Ross Brawn.

But Willi Weber, Schumacher's long time confidante, said he 'cannot imagine' Michael, 37, sitting with a stop watch on pitwall.

''And definitely not as a team boss,'' the German told 'Tagesspiegel'.

Does Weber, then, think Schumacher will quit altogether when his Ferrari contract runs out at the end of the year?

''I really do not know,'' he replied, ''and no one should try to influence his decision -- not me, not Ferrari.''

Schumacher himself cast no further light on whether he might soon join Jean Todt and Ron Dennis in team boss meetings, when asked a similar question by 'Bild am Sonntag' 'paper.

''I have enough hobbies to keep me busy,'' Michael said. ''It's possible that I will look for a new sport -- like, perhaps, horse riding.''

02/21/06 Michael Schumacher's spokeswoman has declined to deny rumors that the German driver could be looking into starting a formula one team with Ross Brawn.

Sabine Kehm, accompanying the 37-year-old Ferrari driver to Bahrain for the winter test, was asked about Eddie Jordan's recent comments that Schumacher and Brawn might buy Renault and look to lure Volkswagen or Audi into the paddock.

''This is a new rumor,'' she was quoted as saying in Melbourne's 'The Age' newspaper, ''although it's not too full of fantasy, considering the link between Michael and Ross.''

Kehm added: ''But it's pure rumor.

''Michael has said countless times that there are few things he would be less interested in doing.''

02/17/06 Eddie Jordan has claimed that Michael Schumacher could prolong his F1 career by forming his own team and believes that the German may already be in talks with Volkswagen. Jordan gave Schumi his F1 break fifteen years ago and isn't convinced that the former World Champion is ready to bow out of the sport at the end of the season.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he encouraged Volkswagen, using their Audi brand, to come to the F1 table. 'Team Schumacher Audi F1' or 'Team Schumacher Volkswagen F1' would immediately attract huge following in Germany - and worldwide," he told F1-Racing magazine.

"I'm not saying it'll definitely happen, but I believe the idea is being discussed, and I can imagine Michael doing it. He's still a very powerful figure, and his name carries huge weight in F1. Schumi could certainly open doors that other people would find locked."

The magazine speculates that, to ease the burden on Schumi, Ross Brawn, whose Ferrari contract expires at the 2006, could be tempted to join the team and that it would be based at Enstone if, as speculated, Renault pull out of F1.

"None of this is certain, but I could see Michael and Ross basing their team at the Enstone facility they had so much success at before," added Jordan.

RuSPORT announcements  UPDATE #2 The CDW RuSPORT car will be visiting a number of CDW offices in the Chicago area tomorrow.   Chicago subscribers can tune in to NBC5’s morning news at 6:30 a.m. to catch a first glimpse of the No. 9 CDW/RuSPORT car and hear from Justin Wilson.

03/03/06 Champ Car has announced a press conference for Tuesday at noon ET for a major RuSPORT sponsor announcement, so this rumor is now 'fact.'  We assume it's CDW as previously reported, but perhaps we will be surprised.

03/02/06 AutoRacing1.com sources tell us that the RuSPORT team will make a number of sponsor announcements in Chicago on Tuesday.  Mark C.

HVM loses engineer to Forsythe Racing  AutoRacing1.com sources tell us that HVM engineer Mike Cannon has left the team and is now working for Forsythe Racing.
Bloomberg warming up to NASCAR's cash  According to the Staten Island (N.Y.) Advance, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is willing to accept the France family money if they want to invest in NY to build a track.

The paper reports that Bloomberg highlighted the sport as a "potential economic boost for the city" and seemed concerned about what other types of business might inhabit the planned site.

"There are other uses for that land which may create worse traffic jams than the three weekends a year NASCAR wants to do," Bloomberg told reporters after marching in the Staten Island St. Patrick's Parade.

"I like the idea that someone is willing to invest in New York City," Bloomberg told the paper. "I like the idea that people that want to go see NASCAR will be able to do it here. I don't like the idea of more traffic."

The story concludes that is it still unclear whether or not Bloomberg supports the project.

Easy come, easy go  UPDATE #2 We can now confirm that as of Friday, engineer David Watson has left Walker Racing and is now back in England. 12/10/05 We can now confirm that race engineer David Watson is now working at Walker Racing, and yes, it was the same Watson that worked at Rocketsports and helped Timo Glock win Rookie of the Year honors. 12/10/05 Our Walker Racing sources tell us that there is a rumor around the shop that the team may have added David Watson as a Race Engineer.  There was a Race Engineer named David Watson for Timo Glock at Rocketsports this past season.  Not sure if it's the same person.
Williams on par with Ferrari  (GMMf1NET) Williams' driving rookie Nico Rosberg reckons his 'FW28' racer is on a par with the similarly Bridgestone-shod 2006 Ferrari.

The German, F1's youngest driver and one of just three rookies (Yuji Ide, Scott Speed) set to debut in Bahrain this Sunday, thinks the new Cosworth-powered car is the fourth best in this season's F1 field.

''We are behind Renault, McLaren and Honda,'' Rosberg candidly told the 'Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung' newspaper, ''and level with Ferrari.''

Like Ferrari and Toyota, Williams is a top team on Bridgestone tires in 2006. At present, the Japanese supplier appears in better shape than last year, but - at least in the cold of winter testing - Michelin still have the upper hand.

And Rosberg said of Williams' off-season: ''We had a few too many technical problems for my liking. When you are a rookie, each lap counts.''

A new crisis at home of Brit GP  (GMMf1NET) Silverstone's owner, the club 'BRDC', could be facing a major crisis.

Late last month, club members requested a delay in a vote to green light the controversial proposal to redevelop the home of the British grand prix.

In fact, the plans - involving the demolishment of historic circuit corners - have enraged some members, who are seeking a vote of 'no confidence' in the board headed by Jackie Stewart.

''The membership has ... given the president and board an emphatic show of unity that they do not want any deal that means granting a 100-years-plus lease to any individual or organization,'' said Harry Stiller, who is leading the BRDC rebellion.

Typically, a vote of 'no confidence' results in a group's resignation or dissolution.

Irvine to start new F1 team  UPDATE Former Jaguar and Ferrari racer Eddie Irvine has not lost interest in running his very own formula one team.

The Ulsterman, and billionaire Russian backer Roustam Tariko, popped up in the grand prix paddocks last year, looking into buying Jordan or Minardi.

But now, Irvine, 40, has told the 'Irish Independent' that the pair are looking at starting a team from scratch, perhaps in 2008.

''There are no teams for sale at the minute,'' he told the newspaper. ''It will be a great challenge, but Roustam wants to do it and we've got the money.''

44-year-old entrepreneur Tariko made his fortune in vodka, but now also owns a Russian bank.

''I believe in emotional branding,'' he told the International Herald Tribune newspaper recently.

Irvine is also a wealthy man, who lined his pockets with huge Ferrari and Jaguar retainers but also via his global property empire.

03/04/06 Eddie Irvine has announced plans to set up a brand new F1 team with Russian vodka and banking billionaire Roustam Tariko by 2008.

"We are looking at starting a team from scratch as there are no teams for sale at the minute," Irvine told the Irish Independent on Saturday.

"It will be a great challenge, but Roustam wants to do it and we've got the money.

"Roustam needs the branding that F1 can bring him. He wants a Russian team and he wants to take his brand and turn them into world brands.

"It's not going to be easy. It is going to be very, very difficult. But if I go back into F1 I am going to be married to it for a long time. It is definitely a challenge I want to go with."

Andretti gets it  IRL team owner Michael Andretti was interviewed by SPEED News Sunday and said that he didn't want to know the details he just hoped that Tony George and Kevin Kalkhoven go behind closed doors and find a way to put the two series (IRL and Champ Car) back together.

Andretti, with four cars and the biggest name in the series, does carry some influence with Tony George and we do hear Andretti Green Racing has been lobbying for a merger.

AutoRacing1.com did hear rumors from Homestead this weekend that the merger deal has been agreed in principal and was now in the hands of the lawyers to hammer out. However, both sides continue to deny there is going to be a merger to the media......which they should do because this deal will not get negotiated successfully in the media.

NASCAR to renew with Mexico City  A return of the NASCAR Busch Series to Mexico City for the 2007 season is virtually a certainty, according to the race promoter.

Federico Alaman Gonzalez, the director of sports events for race promoter OCESA, said Saturday that he expects to see the Busch Series back next season at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. He said while the sanctioning agreement remains a one-year deal that must be negotiated annually, his company and NASCAR have a long-term contract to promote NASCAR events and a NASCAR-sanctioned stock-car series in Mexico.

As long as there is that promotion agreement, it is likely that OCESA would want to have a race at the Mexico City track.

"It definitely will be back next year," Alaman said. "It just all comes from the commitment and the trust that NASCAR has been putting in OCESA and the promoters locally.

"We're looking at having a very big sport in our country. NASCAR is going to be big in our country."  NASCAR Daily Scene

Another conspiracy theory  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, After watching the Grand-Am race from Mexico City Saturday night and then reading Felix Sabates comments on NASCAR.com about how important it is for NASCAR Nextel Cup to be in Mexico and that Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim will be an important part of that effort, it became clear to me why Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz were so dominant in the Grand-Am race.

I never saw a Grand-Am car so dominant in a race in a league that prides itself on close finishes. How convenient a Mexican driver was in it and how convenient that Carlos Slim, one of the top 5 or 6 richest men in the world, owns the car's sponsor - Telmex. Did they get one of NASCAR's now famous "The Call?"

Photo to right of Mexican fans with Telmex shirts cheering for their home country driver and Telmex sponsored car courtesy of Grand-Am.

Sure seems that way from where I sit. What better way to get Mr. Slim and the Mexican fans hooked on the France family racing business than to have a Mexican car and driver (Diaz) win in front of the home crowd. Mordichai Rosen, LA, California

Dear Mordichai, There you go with your Conspiracy Theories again. We know it looks fishy but the France family would never do such a thing. Give us proof. Mark C.

NASCAR peaked?  Saturday's Orlando Sentinel newspaper paper had a recent poll from ESPN sportsnation asking 184,619 people what their favorite sport was.
NFL 59%
MLB 23%
NBA 10%
NHL 7%
NASCAR secretly running series in Mexico  Did you know that NASCAR is spending a "fortune'' in Mexico developing a 14-race stock car series run by Chad Little?   It is the France family's way of developing a grassroots following for NASCAR before they bring a Nextel Cup race to Mexico.  Within the next 10 years Mexico too will be a NASCAR-only nation because open wheel racing is making no such similar investment.
Nextel Cup Series in Mexico? Stay Tuned  In this NASCAR.com article, Felix Sebates says it makes more sense for the Nextel Cup Series to race in Mexico than NY City. Team owner Felix Sabates predicts that an oval track will be built in Mexico over the next five years to attract the Nextel Cup Series the way the Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course has attracted the Busch Series to Mexico City.

"There's some areas in Mexico, very wealthy areas in Mexico, with a huge population around it,'' Sabates said Saturday before qualifying for Sunday's Busch race. "I wouldn't be surprised if you don't see something there in the next four or five years.''

"We have to go international,'' Sabates said. "If we don't go international we're going to die. I shouldn't say die, but we're not going to grow. I beg to say that it may not be in my lifetime, but in a lot of young people like [driver] Reed Sorenson's lifetime, we'll be running in Europe.''

"You have the sponsors paying gazillions of dollars to run these venues,'' he said. "To put a track in New York is not going to generate anymore than it's already doing because the national television exposure will count anyway.

"If you put a track in New York City, it may improve your attendance a little bit, but it's not going to be like if you put a track in England or Germany. A lot of these companies want to be involved with the international crowd.''

Sabates said the support of Mexico millionaire Carlos Slim and his family is the X-factor, noting they helped get Sunday's purse to a Busch Series record $2.4 million.

"They're not in it for the money,'' Sabates said. "They want to do something for the country. They're very, very sincere. They don't make any money on this. They pour all the money back into this thing.

"They would have a bigger purse here if NASCAR would have let them.''

With that kind of financial support, Sabates said Nextel Cup can't help but come to Mexico.

"They're looking at it,'' he said. "Somewhere between the States and Mexico.''

Marco-mania to rival Danica-mania?  This Express Times article talks about the growing interest in Marco Andretti and the fact that the IRL marketing machine will grow the newest Andretti into another overnight sensation, helped by the fact he has the popular Andretti name.  

In fact we may see a lot of media comparing the two youngsters this year.  As you know, we felt Marco needed another year of seasoning in the junior ranks, but that does not take away from the fact he will generate a lot of media hype because 1) he is an Andretti, and 2) he drives for the best team and hence will lead some laps and make some waves.....just like Danica did.  Whether he is capable of winning his rookie season remains to be seen.  Like Danica he's a lightweight and hence benefits from the loophole in the IRL weight rules.

Pruett still eyes NASCAR  Scott Pruett said Thursday that even though he is not racing in the Busch Series race Sunday in Mexico City, he plans on running both the Nextel Cup and Busch events in August at Watkins Glen International. Pruett is still running at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, where the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series is racing Saturday. Pruett drives full time on that circuit for Chip Ganassi Racing. Pruett said he had planned to run in the Telcel-Motorola Mexico 200 Busch Race , but the sponsorship didn't materialize. Pruett's plans for the June race in Sonoma are up in the air because the Grand American cars are competing at Mid-Ohio that same weekend. Daily Scene
What about Argentina and Brazil?  UPDATE #7 This rumor is being updated because of the talk about a possible Team Brazil Champ Car effort with Rocketsports. If it were to materialize it would in part be due to the fact that Belo Horizonte or Interlagos wants a Champ Car race. Recall the rumors that the F1 race could move to Rio de Janeiro. Mark C.

12/19/05 Belo Horizonte (a Portuguese name meaning beautiful horizon) is among the most important cities in Brazil. It is the capital of Minas Gerais state, located in the southeast of the country. With a population of slightly more than 2 million, Belo Horizonte — or "Beagá" as it is more familiarly known from the sound of its initials BH in Portuguese — is the third largest city in Brazil behind Sao Paulo and Rio.

If all goes to plan the track will be done in the spring of 2007. The artist rendering to the left shows what the main straight will look like. Initially plans are for 30,000 permanent seats with room for general admission seating around the 2.1-mile road course.

Initially the promoters are eyeing a Champ Car and a Brazilian Stock Car race.

12/14/05 One can only imagine what kind of driving talents the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil will produce from 2007 onwards, when it intends to open the gates to its first-ever, $20m race track.

As of now, as the country’s largest track-less metropolis, “BH” has given the racing world the likes of Cristiano da Matta, Bruno Junqueira and the newly-crowned 2005 Star Mazda series champion, Raphael Matos.

Hometown affinities aside, the 24-year-old - who also won the Formula Dodge national title in ‘03 - seems on the right path to join his countrymen in the Champ Car World Series in the near future: Matos was confirmed this week to lead Sierra Sierra Enterprises’ return to the revamped Atlantic series in 2006.

And with the Belo Horizonte circuit officials stating last month that getting Champ Car back to Brazil in 2007 is their top priority, Matos already has a fairytale scenario to dream of two seasons from now... SPEEDTV.com

07/09/05 Latest word here in Toronto is that although you won't see an Argentina and/or Brazil race on the 2006 Champ Car schedule when it is released at the beginning of August, we could see one or both added at some point. The same goes for Houston or Philadelphia. Expect to see 15 races announced with more possibly added later. Mark C.

06/03/05 We hear that although nothing is close yet for a Champ Car race in Brazil in 2006, for the first time in a long time all the right people are now talking about it so the possibility exists a race could happen, but there are upgrades needed for Interlagos, not only for Champ Car, but also F1. Who pays is always the issue.  More ...

Ferrari to sign testing deal this time  According to autosport.com, a proposal has been drafted and circulated to all teams with the hope that all F1 teams will agree a 36-day test limit for 2006. Renault, Honda, Williams and Ferrari have reportedly already signed the deal and the other teams are expected to do so in the very near future.

Last year, a similar agreement was drafted which limited teams to 30-days of testing during the season. Ferrari was the lone holdout, arguing instead for a restriction in testing miles rather than days.

Austrian GP won't be back anytime soon  At least in the near future, Austria is unlikely to re-appear on the Formula One calendar.  Although the 'A1-Ring' venue skid off the schedule in 2003, Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz bought the circuit in the mid-south of the country and vowed to totally revamp it.

However, after Mateschitz ordered the demolishing of pit buildings and grandstands, the federal government ruled that the $800m project should be stopped.

Red Bull is expected to be involved in the restoration of the former Grand Prix track, but Mateschitz told the 'Kleinen Zeitung' that a future F1 bid might be a long shot.

''Today, F1 drives into Shanghai, into Bahrain, and India and Russia will be the next markets,'' the Austrian said.  Formula One is becoming more of a global series, and is therefore set to lose its European emphasis.''

A 2nd Spanish GP?  UPDATE #2 Valencia's 'Circuit de la Comunitat Ricardo Tormo' will undergo a major modernization in their near future. The goal of the organizers: to revamp the popular Formula One test circuit in a way that it might possibly become part of the Grand Prix calendar.

The layout of the 4.005 kilometer circuit is due to be changed in order to make it faster and more spectacular on the one hand, and to meet the standards of other current Formula One circuits on the other. However, the special character of the circuit will remain untouched by the reconstruction measures. Currently, spectators can see the entire track from every single seat.

It is planned to extend the track to a total length of 4.4 kilometres, with a new straight, wider turns and two hairpins, in an attempt to create additional overtaking opportunities. At the same time, parts of the current infield section will be removed.

"We have decided to work ahead of a possible decision include the circuit on the Formula One calendar," said the track's General Manager, Eduardo Nogues. "Formula One is the benchmark for every racing facility and a dream for all Valencian racing fans, so now it's the time to show Bernie Ecclestone and everyone involved in F1 that Valencia wants to host a race." BMW

02/27/06 Spain has developed into one of the world's most intense centers of motor sport, and news this week suggests the trend is set to continue.

The circuit promoters in Valencia have held meetings with Bernie Ecclestone with a view to bringing the Circuito Ricardo Tormo on to the F1 calendar in the near future.

Valencia already stages a round of the MotoGP World Championship and in April will host a round of the fast-growing GP2 series, the single-seaters which normally run as support races to the European F1 races.

Soon after meeting Mr. Ecclestone the circuit's administrators announced a program of rebuilding and development.

"We have decided to work ahead of a possible decision," they said. "Formula One is the benchmark for every racing facility."

The circuit will be lengthened to 4.4 km with a new straight, some of its tighter turns opened out and two new hairpins.

Grand Prix cars have been testing regularly at Valencia over the European winter and are due there again next week.

Spain already has a World Championship race at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, of course, while Jerez, a former venue for the Spanish and European Grands Prix, is also in regular testing use.

Should Valencia succeed in its latest ambition, it will become the sixth Spanish track to stage F1 racing, joining the two already mentioned, Pedralbes (Barcelona), Montjuich (Barcelona) and Jarama (Madrid).

02/23/06 (GMMf1NET)  F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has reportedly played down suggestions that a second grand prix in Spain could soon be staged.

The 75-year-old met this week with officials of the 'Circuit de la Comunitat Ricardo Tormo' - otherwise known as Valencia - in London.

Valencia's twisty layout will host GP2 and MotoGP rounds in 2006, and is a popular winter test venue for F1.

But, on the German language f1total.com website, Ecclestone - although not issuing a categorical denial - is quoted as saying: ''I have never been to Valencia.

''However, I know that it is a very good facility, and that formula one teams regularly test there.''

Spain's annual grand prix, with a contract to host F1 until 2011, is held at the Circuit de Catalunya, in Barcelona.

What does EU delay mean?  Approval of F1's sale to 'CVC' has been delayed, the European Commission - the European Union's governing body - has revealed.

The 'AFX' news agency reported that a decision has been put off until March 21, apparently due to the EC's 'competition concerns', but confirmation of the reasons were not specified.

Bernie Ecclestone and a German bank announced that they would sell their control of formula one last November, but official confirmation pended both EU and FIA approval.

Doubt over the legality of the sale also arose because two other shareholders - American banks - were reportedly not given first 'right of refusal' to buy the sport.

Ridpath close to landing Champ Car drive  UPDATE #4 AutoRacing1.com sources tell us that HVM has indeed made an offer to Gareth Ridpath, but we also hear he is entertaining some other options as well from other teams.  We hear a decision will probably be made next week.  We hear his primary sponsor will be MiBill (www.mibill.comMark C

03/01/06 Gareth Ridpath confirmed to AutoRacing1.com his test time at Sebring was just 58.0 sec on slicks, but there was a reason - "My time WAS 58 seconds, the reason is a $600,000 one!!! On the morning of the test my Insurance broker cancelled (Chickened Out) on my policy, leaving myself and Keith Wiggins in a VERY difficult position!.. Fortunately a very dear friend of mine agreed to underwrite the car to the tune of $100,000 personally... at which point Keith and I agreed that the best course of the day was to simply accustom myself to the car, work and get to know the team, not try any heroics and ultimately NOT damage the car," said Ridpath.

"All this is not to say that without a $600,000 sword at my throat I would have been on a par with Paul Tracy on my first day (of course not) I had it in my mind that I would be happy to be driving safely in the 53-54 range, which I believed was definitely achievable and with hindsight I can only underline that!"

03/01/06 We are being told Ridpath's slow lap times of 58.0 sec. flat were because he tested on rain tires.  Trying to verify this story.

 02/27/06 We are hearing Ridpath's lap times at his Sebring test were nothing to write home about. We are not certain why, whether the car had problems or whether Ridpath isn't ready for Champ Cars yet, but it will be interesting to see if he lands a ride. We will bump this rumor down to 'speculation' for now.

02/27/06 Rumor has it that British driver Gareth Ridpath is close to landing a ride in Champ Car for 2006. Word is it may be with HVM.

Gareth's been racing for just over 10 years and has miles under his belt in most formula categories. His highest profile recent appearance on track was 2005 Sebring 12hr with Intersport in ALMS (LMP2), however he's been quietly over in France warming up for this season in a couple of year old F1 cars!

He's had a couple of false starts so far in his career, thanks in no part to the tendency for teams to fall into bankruptcy etc. along these lines, he was at one stage the youngest ever driver signed into Formula 1 - with defunct F1 team Pacific.

Gareth trained with the highly regarded, Winfield drivers school in France (graduates include many famous F1 drivers). There the lead instructor declared him the most sensational talent he had seen on track!

Pagenaud eyes Atlantics and Champ Car  UPDATE This rumor, back from November, is now upgraded to 'fact' today.  See Hot News page for announcement.

11/21/05 Since first getting his start karting as a ten year old, Simon Pagenaud has always been quick to find the fastest way around a racetrack. The young French racer has also identified the quickest route to the top in his career as well, as he looks to contest the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic season with the intention of moving up to the Champ Car World Series.
Pagenaud (pictured right), who narrowly missed out on winning the 2004 Formula Renault Eurocup Championship to American Scott Speed, made the step up to run the full World Series by Renault season in 2005, racing at tracks like Monaco, LeMans, Monza, and Donington in the 425-horsepower Renault/Dallara machines and taking three top-fives in the highly competitive category.
The Champ Car Atlantic series will reward the 2006 series champion with a significant $2 million dollar bonus towards a Champ Car campaign, and will also feature a new car/engine combination with a new-design Swift chassis mated to a 300-hp Cosworth.

For Pagenaud, who is managed by former Target Chip Ganassi Champ Car driver and fellow Frenchman Nicolas Minassian, the choice to race in the States is one that comes down to opportunity, and he believes that the Atlantic series can provide that.
“It is difficult in Europe because if you are trying to get to Formula 1, it isn’t just how much talent you have that matters,” said Pagenaud. “The new Atlantics package is very appealing to me because there will be a lot of very talented drivers and good teams, so it will be a good place for me to show my skills and learn the tracks.” More ...

USA Open Wheel Racing lacks key ingredient  UPDATE This St. Pete Times article says Champ Car will have 25 cars on the grid this year.  Where they got that number is beyond us, perhaps they were confusing it with Atlantics.  It's interesting to note that in a merged series St. Petersburg thinks they would make the perfect season opener.  We agree.

Q. What should IRL and Champ Car executives have noticed while watching NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics?

A. Almost all of the network’s promotion focused on U.S. athletes. Some announcers even wore USA-logo clothing. The depressed Olympic ratings prove again that, post-Sept. 11, Americans want to watch Americans win and when they don’t we look elsewhere. Our countrymen/women watch shows that not only are entertaining— American Idol, 24, Lost, Dancing With the Stars, House, Survivor—but which also feature personalities with whom the public has an emotional connection. Just how many current open-wheel drivers fit that bill?  I.N. Sider/Valvoline Racing

[Editor's Note:  Unfortunately for Champ Car AJ Allmendinger may be the only American in the series this year. We heard last week Champ Car may only run 16 cars this year, which means Ryan Hunter-Reay's chances of landing a ride are that much less. Hunter-Reay is the only active American to win a Champ Car race (two) and there are no others ready to move up.  Over in the IRL, the only American getting any media attention is Danica Patrick, so they are slightly better off, but not much.  Yes, this open wheel war has driven open wheel racing right into the ground.  If it does not end soon, turn off the lights.  Related article.]

Track News
10-story condos to overlook LVMS  SMI is expected to announce on March 10 that it “plans to build two 10-story condominium towers that will overlook the second turn” of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Clark County (NV) Commissioner Tom Collins said that the speedway thus far has not submitted a request for a zoning variance”  LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
V8 F1 cars faster than old V10s  So much for the FIA's move to a smaller V8 to reduce F1 speeds - the V8s appear to already be faster.  According to Autosport, Honda Racing test driver Anthony Davidson broke the unofficial lap record at Valencia in Spain on Thursday.   The Briton, who will be conducting Friday testing duties for Honda at race weekends again this year, set a best lap of 1:08.53 seconds early in the afternoon.
Restrictor plates for Lowe's?  Lowe's Motor Speedway president and general manager H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler expressed "trepidation" Wednesday over what is sure to be an increase in speeds at his 1.5-mile track after repaving work is completed later this month.  

Wheeler said lap speeds could be as high as 198 mph on the fresh asphalt and that could lead to two words dreaded by Nextel Cup competitors: restrictor plates.

"I'm going to be really interested when all the Cup cars come in here for the big test in May," Wheeler said. "Goodyear will have already tested, so we're going to have some idea of speeds. I'd prefer to see speeds somewhere down in the 188 range. But that's probably not going to happen. It's not out of the question that we might see 198 mph lap here. I'm all for slowing 'em down at that point."

Wheeler acknowledged that while competitors might hate the idea of using restrictor plates at the Charlotte track, safety is paramount.

"The only thing I'm concerned about is it's going to be awfully fast," Wheeler said. "It's going to be smooth, and smooth means fast. That's why we got up to 194 last October." Daily Scene

Charlotte to get NASCAR HOF  UPDATE #4 NASCAR will host a press conference Monday at 4:00pm/et at the Charlotte Convention Center to announce that Charlotte will be the home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, multiple sources confirmed to SPEEDTV.com today. SPEED will break into its regular programming to cover the Hall of Fame announcement, whenever it takes place. Speed Channel 03/01/06 Charlotte has won the year-long race to land NASCAR's Hall of Fame, three sources told the Observer on Tuesday night.

Charlotte beat out Atlanta and Daytona Beach, Fla., to win the $100-million plus shrine to stock car racing, the sources said. An official announcement is expected Monday afternoon in Charlotte.

"It's coming to Charlotte," said one source, who like the others asked not to be identified because of the confidentiality of the process. The source said final logistics must still be worked out, but "it's going to happen."

"Monday will be a great day for the city," said another source.

A NASCAR spokesman, reached late Tuesday, would only confirm that NASCAR would announce the project site this month.

Sources said NASCAR Chairman Brian France is expected in Charlotte on Monday for the announcement.  More at ThatsRacin.com

02/28/06 As the race for NASCAR's Hall of Fame heads into the home stretch, Charlotte is the leading candidate to land the $100 million-plus shrine to stock car racing, several sources told the Observer on Sunday. Two high-ranking NASCAR officials and two Nextel Cup team owners, all speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Charlotte's selection was nearly certain. Final details must be worked out before any announcement, the sources said. Charlotte has been competing with four other cities since last year to host the project, which is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors a year. In January, NASCAR eliminated Kansas City and Richmond, Va. as candidates, leaving Charlotte, Atlanta and Daytona Beach, Fla. A NASCAR spokesman maintained Sunday the selection process was not complete. "The process is still evolving. We continue to receive additional information regarding each of the three cities' proposals and the decision-making process is still active," said NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp. Tharp reiterated that NASCAR plans to decide by the end of March. Miami-Herald

02/27/06 NASCAR is downplaying a report in the Charlotte Observer that quotes sources as saying Charlotte has emerged as the clear leader in a three-city battle for the sport's hall of fame. NASCAR chairman and chief executive officer Brian France said before Sunday's race at California Speedway that Atlanta remained very much in the running for the hall, and NASCAR public relations spokesman Kerry Tharp said after Sunday's race that a decision on the hall had not been reached. "We are still in the decision-making process, and we're still collecting information from all the cities," Tharp said. "We still anticipate making an announcement in March." The Observer said a high-ranking NASCAR official and two Nextel Cup team owners, all speaking on the condition of anonymity, said NASCAR officials have indicated to them that Charlotte's selection is nearly certain. Charlotte, Atlanta and Daytona Beach, Fla., are the three finalists for the hall. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

02/27/06 As the race for NASCAR's Hall of Fame heads into the home stretch, Charlotte is the leading candidate to land the $100 million-plus shrine to stock car racing, several sources told the Observer on Sunday.  Two high-ranking NASCAR officials and two Nextel Cup team owners, all speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Charlotte's selection was nearly certain.

Final details must be worked out before any announcement, the sources said.

Charlotte has been competing with four other cities since last year to host the project, which is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors a year. In January, NASCAR eliminated Kansas City and Richmond, Va. as candidates, leaving Charlotte, Atlanta and Daytona Beach, Fla.

A NASCAR spokesman maintained Sunday the selection process was not complete.

"The process is still evolving. We continue to receive additional information regarding each of the three cities' proposals and the decision-making process is still active," said NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp. ThatsRacin.com

Wallace to test IndyCar  UPDATE #2 To prepare for his role as an analyst for ABC Sports' and ESPN's coverage of the 2006 IRL IndyCar Series season, Rusty Wallace will drive an IndyCar Series car on Thursday, March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Wallace won the 1989 NASCAR championship and scored 55 NASCAR Cup Series victories in his racing career. He retired after the 2005 season and drove the past 15 years for Roger Penske, the winningest car owner in Indianapolis 500 history. The Indy Racing League kicks off its Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway March 2-6. The IRL returns to the Sunshine State for the IndyCar Series' Toyota Indy 300 and Indy Pro Series' Miami 100 at the 1.5-mile oval, both on March 26. Homestead-Miami Speedway PR

02/24/06 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Rusty Wallace will drive one of Penske Racing's IRL cars Thursday at the league's open test at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He wants to learn more about Indy cars before becoming one of the league's TV broadcasters this season.  Indy Star

02/20/06 According to Autosport, Veteran NASCAR Nextel Cup racer Rusty Wallace is to test a Penske Racing IndyCar at Homestead next month as he prepares to become one of the IRL announcers.

Briatore linked with bribe probe  (GMMf1NET) A link has been made between Renault chief Flavio Briatore and an investigation into an allegedly corrupt tax lawyer.

David Mills, who is married to British cabinet minister Tessa Jowell, is being investigated by prosecutors who say he accepted a bribe from Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi.

The link with Briatore, 55, is that some of the funds channeled to Mills were sent through a company set up by the lawyer, but owned by him.

''I was obviously a bit annoyed at this,'' Briatore - a client of David Mills - is quoted as saying in the British 'Guardian' newspaper.

But Mills told the 'paper that the company's directors - including Flavio - 'knew precisely' about the workings of the company.

Schu unlikely to switch teams - manager  (GMMf1NET)  Michael Schumacher's manager has suggested that the German driver is unlikely to switch teams if he decides to keep racing in F1 next year.

Despite Schumacher recently leaving open a one per cent possibility of a team switch, 63-year-old Willi Weber said Ferrari is not only a team to Michael, 'it is a family'.

He told Stuttgarter Zeitung: ''We know what we have with Ferrari.  We have good friends there and feel good -- and only if you feel comfortable do you succeed.

''There would have to be very good reasons for us to change teams,'' Willi Weber said.

Red Bull, McLaren-Mercedes and Toyota have previously been touted as possible future destinations for F1's most successful ever pilot.

Weber continued: ''We are very fortunate that we are able to select whatever (team) we like.

''But it is true that we are already with the best team.''

Austria to remain off F1 calendar  (GMMf1NET)  At least in the near future, Austria is unlikely to re-appear on the formula one calendar.

Although the 'A1-Ring' venue skid off the schedule in 2003, Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz bought the circuit in the mid-south of the country and vowed to totally revamp it.

However, after Mateschitz ordered the demolishing of pit buildings and grandstands, the federal government ruled that the $800m project should be stopped.

Red Bull is expected to be involved in the restoration of the former grand prix track, but Mateschitz told the 'Kleinen Zeitung' that a future F1 bid might be a long shot.

''Today, F1 drives into Shanghai, into Bahrain, and India and Russia will be the next markets,'' the Austrian said.

The owner of one and a half formula one teams doubts that European countries will be added to the calendars of the future.

Mateschitz continued: ''Formula one is becoming more of a global series, and is therefore set to lose its European emphasis.''

Champ Car to replace Cotman?  UPDATE #2 Contrary to the original rumors that Champ Car was going to replace Tony Cotman as Race Director, we now hear that Champ Car, after further review, is going to keep him.  We will try to verify this latest news and make this rumor 'false.'

02/20/06 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I think Robin Miller and Dave Despain make a perfect pair on Wind Tunnel.  Miller should be on the show every week.  I thought I was reading AutoRacing1.com when I was watching Wind Tunnel. All the key points Miller and Despain made Sunday night were what I have read AutoRacing1.com saying for years, especially the point about NASCAR fines being a joke, hence why the cheating continues, and CART/IRL and the two sprint car series getting back together.  Brian Jones, Miami, FL

Dear Brian, Thanks for the compliments.  We just say like we see it.  We agree, Miller and Despain make a good pair.  Robin Miller is a natural on TV.  Champ Car should have him as one of their TV reporters, he would make the broadcasts fun to watch.  Instead of doing something smart like that, they are doing dumb things like removing Tony Cotman as Chief Steward because some of the calls last year didn't go the way a team owner wanted. Not having Miller in Champ Car's TV booth and removing Cotman have to go down as the two dumbest things OWRS has done in an otherwise long list of smart things they have done since starting Champ Car. Mark C.

02/02/06 In one of the most surprising moves Champ Car has made, Tony Cotman is going to be replaced as Race Director even though he is the first person in a long time who did a decent job.

This SPEEDTV.com article says, Champ Car wants Cotman replaced as race director.

"It's the owner's decision and they are seeking a replacement for me in race control," said Cotman on Thursday. "Am I disappointed, sure I am? But I'm tired of dealing with this so I guess I'll move on.

"I'm not leaving Champ Car, though."

Kevin Kalkhoven, who co-owns Champ Car with Gerald Forsythe, claimed that Cotman has too many other things on his plate and it was always the intention to replace him as Race Director.

"Tony is a very valuable member of our team but he's got plenty of other projects on his plate. Trust me, we'll find somebody just as good," said Kalkhoven recently.  More ...

An 8th Mexican for Busch race  UPDATE Only hours after José Rivera stating that Rafael Martinez would drive car # 49  of Robinson Racing in the Mexico City Busch Series race, José Rivera retracted his own statement (José Rivera manages Rafael Martinez.)  Instead Eduardo (not to be confused with Jorge) Goeters will drive the car. 03/01/06 AutoRacing1.com hears that Mexican driver Rafael Martinez (no relation to David Martinez) will be driving car #49 in the Busch series race at Mexico City this weekend. With Martinez the total number of Mexican drivers for the race will be 8, which is sure to increase attendance.
Super Aguri eyes Montagny for third seat  UPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Super Aguri has signed Montagny to be their third driver for the opening two races of the season, but they have no car for him to drive so he will just be there in case a regular driver falls ill or gets injured.

After that Montagny is not available as he hopes to be at the Champ Car open test at the end of March and start the season opening Champ Car race in Long Beach on April 9th.

02/22/06 (GMMf1NET) Former Renault test driver Franck Montagny could find himself in Super Aguri's 'Friday' practice car in 2006, according to speculation.

Although the 28-year-old Frenchman was strongly linked with a move to American Champ Cars, it is now suggested that he could line up alongside racers Takuma Sato and rookie Yuji Ide at the all new formula one outfit.

The appointment could be ideal for Montagny, particularly in the context of last month's reports that a more competitive race lineup could be installed once a bespoke 2006 Super Aguri car is ready in May.

It is rumored that contact has already been made between Feurs-born Montagny and team management, but team chief Aguri Suzuki is believed to favor the concept an all-Japanese '06 driver lineup.

02/21/06 Former Renault test driver Franck Montagny is being considered by the new Super Aguri team for the role of third driver, autosport.com reports. The Frenchman left Renault at the end of 2005 and has been pursuing a racing seat in the Champ Car series. However, despite setting impressive times in testing for the PKV team at Sebring last month, autosport.com understands that PKV are now looking for a more experienced Champ Car driver to partner their recent signing, rookie Katherine Legge.

Recall that AutoRacing1.com rumored a long time ago that Oriol Servia would team with Katherine Legge at PKV Racing. Legge has been announced and we await Servia's confirmation.

Montoya to Renault or Red Bull  Famed F1 analyst Alan Henry was a guest on Wind Tunnel on SPEED Sunday night and predicted that both Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Montoya could leave McLaren, Raikkonen to Ferrari and Montoya to Renault (to replace Alonso) or to Red Bull which is spending whatever it takes to make the team a winner.
Ferrari wing is speed boost - report  (GMMf1NET) A brand new nose and wing for Ferrari's '248 F1' 2006 car is worth up to three tenths of a second per lap, a specialist magazine says.

'Auto Motor Und Sport' in Germany published photos of the new feature, which has rid the front wing of the little 'mini wing', replacing it with a curvy scoop. Also appearing on the Ferrari wing for the first time at Mugello is an extra element, extending from the nose to the top of the end plates.

The magazine said Ferrari's speed boost should put the Maranello based team on a par with Honda, just behind pacesetter Renault.

Technical director Ross Brawn, meanwhile, was quoted as saying that the 248's widely reported clutch problems will be solved.

Jay Howard to mop up IPS field  Rumor has it that Jay Howard, who will drive for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in 2006, will mop up the IndyPro Series field.  Recall that we wrote in this article that Howard shows all the traits of becoming the next Ayrton Senna.   We don't make these things up, we just look at the facts. 

To test our theory we sent a spy out to Buttonwillow in California at a recent IPS test to see how Howard measured up against IPS veterans Jonathan Klein and Jaime Camara.  The results are exactly what we expected. 

Camara completing two full days of testing, while Klein and Howard shared a car for one day each. Klein was a fraction faster the Camara on the first day by 1 tenth. 1m0.43s seconds was the fastest time of the first day.  Howard got into Klein's car (first time ever in an IPS car mind you) the following day while Camara was on his second day.  Howard went 58.91s and Camara went no faster than he did on day one.

Why none of the Atlantic or Champ Car teams picked this guy up is beyond us, but he has Sam Schmidt as an agent so there never was much question where he would end up.  With many of the races being 100% throttle affairs he won't have much chance to showcase his talents, but he will do so on the road courses.  We do hear he might run one Atlantic race in 2006 as well.  If there is a merger of the two series in 2007, which everyone is hoping for, the best talent from both sides will come together under one umbrella. Mark C.

Joest Racing really Champion Racing  Inside sources tell us that although the Audi announcement was that the two new diesel R10 Audi LMP1 cars entered for the 12 Hours of Sebring are Joest entries, in fact Champion team owner Dave Maraj is actually listed as the Entrants Representative for Audi Sport North America for Sebring, and that virtually all of the Champion team that competed last year is credentialed for the effort this year.  Far from being shut out, Champion has become the de-facto Audi factory effort, at least for Sebring and until such time as Audi allows the Champion team to have their own R10s.  Not sure what the arrangement will be at the 24 Hours of LeMans.
track news
California Speedway to make changes?  The race was largely a parade in front of what appeared to be many empty seats, and track President Gillian Zucker said afterward that changes could be made to the speedway, including progressive banking, if it is necessary to improve the on-track product. "Today, with limited cautions, I imagine we may hear more about it and if we do, we'll take a look at the track surface. In Miami, it has completely changed the show." L.A. Times
German DTM
Audi to save Frentzen?  UPDATE #3 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  See Hot News page for Audi announcement.

01/23/06 (GMMf1NET)  Former grand prix winner Heinz-Harald Frentzen's embattled motor racing career looks set to be rescued.

After his DTM employer Opel shut the door, Audi will probably jump to the 38-year-old German's aid by offering him a 2006 ride.

''Heinz-Harald belongs in this series,'' Audi spokesman Juergen Pippig told the 'SID' agency, although he hinted that Frentzen would have to accept a cut to his usual $1m wage, and that the ride depends on sponsor funding.

01/21/06 We are close to downgrading this rumor to 'false' today. According to SID, Frentzen is going to drive for Audi in the DTM this year. The deal is about to be finalized and is supposed to be announced within the next two weeks. That move comes a bit as a surprise.

01/19/06 Whether he likes it or not, former Grand Prix winner Heinz-Harald Frentzen could be set to bow out of racing.  The 38-year-old, who won for Williams in 1997 and Jordan in 1999, has not secured a new drive in the German DTM category after Opel pulled out of the series.  Frentzen suffered a huge shunt at the Hockenheim finale, leaving him unable to train for two months.

"For it to end like this was not my plan," Frentzen told the Auto Bild Motorsport magazine.  GMM

All's not well at Red Bull  (GMMf1NET)  Less than two weeks before the 2006 season opener in Bahrain, all is not well at Red Bull.

The Milton Keynes based team, scheduled to have already completed its winter preparations, will 'squeeze in' a final test run at Valencia (Spain) this week.

The team's new 2006 car, 'RB2', is still very unreliable, despite the new bodywork package which addresses a cooling flaw.

But Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is keen to play down the alleged car crisis.

''(Christian) Klien did a decent lap (last week) which proves the car has got speed,'' he said.

''The final test in Valencia will give us more track time to smooth out a few rough edges in the overall package.''

In the German 'Auto Motor Und Sport' magazine, however, it is claimed that the RB2 is still yet to collect a single race distance this winter.  An analysis of mileage-per-day at tests, moreover, shows that - Super Aguri aside - Red Bull is by far the least reliable on the grid.

Richards planning F1 return  UPDATE David Richards' speculated return to formula one is heating up, according to reports.

'The Guardian' newspaper in Britain says the former BAR-Honda principal, who may be planning his own 'Prodrive' squad for 2008, made a 'key move within his senior management team' this week.

Prodrive 'sources' report that David Lapworth, who last week left the Subaru world rally team, will assume a 'senior' role in setting up Richards' grand prix project, according to the 'paper.

The Guardian's Alan Henry wrote: ''Richards has recently held talks with Bernie Ecclestone and ... Max Mosley about the detail of sporting, technical and commercial arrangements for the (2008) formula one world championship.''

02/27/06 Former F1 team boss David Richards is reportedly close to finalizing his return to the sport in time for 2008. According to autosport.com, Richards is close to announcing the formation of the Prodrive Formula One team. The former BAR-Honda boss has met with both FIA president Max Mosley and F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone to discuss what the rules would look like after 2007. Richards has indicated in the past that he would like to get back into Formula One, provided the rules made it more financially viable for independent teams to take part in the series.
Ferrari to enter Atlantic not Champ Car  UPDATE #7 We are now getting reports that although Eurointernational announced they would contest 10 Champ Car races in 2006, a lack of equipment (Lolas) and time will see the team probably field a car in the Champ Car Atlantic series instead with Ryan Sharp as a possible driver. The team will try to move up to Champ Car in 2007.

Sharp is a race car driver born in Newtonhill, United Kingdom on the 29th of April 1979. He raced in a partial season of the 2005 GP2 Series for the Price team and was the 2003 German Formula Renault champion.

Sharp debuted in motorsport in 1999, driving in British Formula First. He moved up to British Formula Ford in 2000, spending two seasons there, before moving to British Formula Renault in 2002 (2002 also saw him drive in one Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup race).

2003 saw his big break, though, as he moved into Europe as a full-time 2000 Eurocup driver. 2003 would also see him drive in part of the Italian Formula Renault season, and in two Formula Renault V6 Eurocup races, but Sharp's 2003 highlight was winning the German Formula Renault championship.

In 2004 he competed in Formula Renault V6 Eurocup for the Jenzer team, moving to the GP2 Series for 2005.

10/31/05 Still hearing that Ferrari's first choice for driver remains Italian driver Enrico Toccacelo, assuming he doesn't stay with the recently sold Minardi team, for which he had signed to be a test driver. Drivers with sponsorship interested include Ryan Sharp (Scotland) and Giorgio Mondini (Italy).

Because of the shortage of Lolas, the team will field just one car in 10 races in 2006. They will not waste their money buying more cars for 2006 since their lifespan is just one year. The shortage of cars in 2006 will severely limit Champ Car's ability to grow until 2007. 2007 is shaping up to be Champ Car's big breakout year.

If Chip Ganassi isn't going to run his Lolas in Champ Car next year (we wonder how he feels about getting left out by Toyota in NASCAR and Honda in the IRL) someone needs to get ahold of those cars so teams like Eurointernational can field a 2nd car if they have the sponsorship. We still think Ganassi will run six races, but he should team up with another team to run those cars in the other 10 races.

10/19/05 We hear Eurointernational has identified their entire Champ Car staff for next year, at least almost all. Hearing that one engineer is leaving another Champ Car Team by December 1, and will join Eurointernational. Their new Technical Director has just finished work with an F1 team and will be part of the team on November 1, going to Mexico City as his first assignment to "explore the new Series". The two data engineers come from Spain and England, having already worked with Eurointernational the past few years. The team has received two offers from European drivers with a partial budget to race with them the entire season, but Eurointernational is not interested. Antonio Ferrari plans to secure the team's primary sponsorship and choose the driver without any other obligations. Mark C.

09/16/05 Despite signing for Minardi as a test driver this year (see Hot News item) we hear that Enrico Toccacelo now realizes that with Red Bull owning the team his chances of becoming a regular driver are slim and none. Therefore, he is taking a harder look at coming to Champ Car with the Ferrari team, though nothing is signed.

The team has signed a Technical Director (You will be surprised..) and six crew members. Their primary sponsor (major Financial/Bank Group) has several associate sponsors interested to the program, so it is possible that the team can run the entire Championship instead only 10 races in 2006 as originally announced.

09/01/05 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' tonight.  See story on home page.... 08/11/05 It looks like Antonio Ferrari's choice of Enrico Toccacelo for his Champ Car team in 2006 may not be available. Enrico Toccacelo was confirmed by Minardi as the squad’s third driver for the remainder of the season. He will become Minardi’s first regular Friday tester. “This is a great opportunity for me, although it has all come together so quickly, I still can’t quite believe it,” Toccacelo admitted. “This is, however, the moment that all young racing drivers are working towards, and I am determined to learn as much as I can as quickly as I can, while doing the best possible job for the team. Minardi has shown many times that it is an excellent place for a driver to start his Formula 1 career, and I intend to make the most of this opportunity.” More ...

TV News
RPM2Nite to return  With NASCAR returning to ABC and ESPN in 2007 rumors have surfaced that the nightly race show RPM2Nite, formerly hosted by John Kernan, will return to ESPN2.
IRL office leaked merger talks rumor  UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.  IRL spokesperson Fred Nation told AutoRacing1.com, "I have been in contact with the editors of AutoWeek and they deny that the source of their report was a fax of any kind from the Indy Racing League.  I have been in touch with Autosport. I assume they will correct this at some point."

02/25/06 The latest round of merger talks between the two series (IRL and Champ Car) came when a fax was leaked from IRL offices to US weekly magazine AutoWeek, stating that Kalkhoven and George had been skiing together, and were now in regular communication.  Autosport.com

Probably done by someone who is afraid they will lose their job if the two series merge.

Briton joins 'Aguri' shortlist  (GMMf1NET) Part-time Honda tester James Rossiter is in the running to land the 'Friday' seat at Super Aguri in 2006, according to paddock gossip.

The 22-year-old Briton joins ex Renault test driver Franck Montagny in contention for the ride, a mere fortnight ahead of the season opener at the Bahrain track.

Rookie 'Aguri' racer Yuji Ide, meanwhile, has denied suggestions that he is a typical Japanese pay driver by saying he 'gambled' on his move from Formula Nippon.

''I said no to every offer to stay in Japan,'' 31-year-old Ide, who finished second in the category last year, told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

''I came to Europe without having a contract in my pocket. It could have ended my career.''

Irvine and Pamela Anderson  (GMMf1NET) According to a report in the 'Sunday Mirror' tabloid newspaper, former Ferrari and Jaguar racer Eddie Irvine is romantically linked with Pamela Anderson.

Busty and blonde former Playboy model Anderson, 37, shot to fame on the American TV show 'Baywatch'.

41-year-old Ulsterman Irvine was recently spotted 'canoodling' with the Canadian in Los Angeles, the 'paper wrote.

F1 could be banned  (GMMf1NET) Formula One could be banned if an oil crisis grips the world, according to Max Mosley.

In an astonishing warning, the FIA president defended his moves to make the sport more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly.

Mosley told the 'Sunday Mirror' in Britain that opportunistic politicians would aim fire at grand prix racing in a fuel crisis.

''(They) will say, 'We must show the public we are serious about fuel economy and we must stop formula one'.''

Max said F1 must move to the 'cutting edge' of fuel technology, in order to argue that the sport should not be banned.

Mosley continued: ''If you went on television and said, 'We must ban formula one', you immediately get coverage. That would be very tempting for politicians.

''It's a real danger.''

Todt to pen new Ferrari deal  (GMMf1NET) Jean Todt, who turned 60 at the weekend, will reportedly pen a new two-year extension to his expiring Ferrari contract.

The German broadsheet 'Die Express' said the Frenchman, whose current agreement will run out later this year, would sign for 2007 and 2008, although the report did not give a source for the information.

'Die Express' claimed that Ross Brawn and engine chief Paolo Martinelli would also renew.

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