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DATE News (chronologically)
Aleshin's Funding in Jeopardy (3rd Update)  UPDATE #3 Mikhail Aleshin's sponsor SMP Bank was placed on the US sanctions list this morning due to the situation in the Ukraine. The owners were the only ones targeted before but now it is the entire bank.

04/16/14 Not sure if it corroborates the rumor of Aleshin losing his funding, but he's noticeably absent at the test.

Director of SMP Racing Sergey Zlobin
A statement from Sport Director of SMP Racing Sergey Zlobin on Obama sanctions placed on bank accounts in the USA and the EU because of the crisis in the Ukraine caused by Russia:

"I don’t understand how we relate to politics, said Zlobin by phone, - the Team will still race in European Championships anyway (notice no mention of the USA). We will survive because we know how to do it. We have partners and friends, he have found an opportunity to pay our invoices. We have status of factory team "Ferrari", and Europeans occupy about 100 working positions. We also were announced as "Team of the Year." That is why all this looks really strange." More ...
Overheard at GP of Alabama  We heard a crazy rumor that Zach Veach, who we think is too young (though Sage Karam is still in high school and he is making a run the way it looks!), could make a run at the Indy 500, but we are not holding our breath. We hear he has some financial backing.

Sebastien Bourdais will start from the back. He was penalized for holding up Ryan Hunter-Reay. Both sides are pretty convinced it wasn’t intentional, and that the team didn’t tell him Ryan was coming up on him...and there wasn’t communication there.

Hearing more that Sage Karam will be farmed out by Chip Ganassi for the Indy 500 to Dreyer and Reinbold who has cars. More ...
Cryptic IndyCar Tweet from Justin Wilson - Cosworth? (2nd Update)  UPDATE #2 Cosworth told Autosport.com that it is continuing to make progress with its efforts to return to IndyCar, and that further meetings with potential manufacturer partners could take place as early as next month.

The company confirmed in February that IndyCar formed part of its plans to return its core focus to motorsport, and while it has already held initial talks with the series, any program would require it to be partnered with an engine manufacturer.

Cosworth marketing director Tom Buckler told AUTOSPORT that conversations with potential affiliates are progressing well. More ...

Coyne to run Huertas at Indy (Update)  UPDATE One of the last remaining seats for next month's Indianapolis 500 is there for Carlos Huertas to take. His decision is expected this weekend, team owner Dale Coyne said Friday.

The 22-year-old Colombian came into 2014 thinking he would only drive on the road courses and street circuits. But he has had a respectable first two races, including a 10th-place finish in Long Beach.

Now he's thinking about an oval. More ...

Yet another P2 team to quit Tudor series?  Rumors of an impending TUDOR United SportsCar Championship exit by France's Oak Racing have been inaccurate, according to team principal Philippe Dumas.

Speaking with RACER on Wednesday after Oak surpassed 6000 kilometers of testing with its new Ligier JS P2 coupe (BELOW), Dumas says the factory team continues to support the TUDOR Championship.

"I sent a letter to IMSA to better explain our purpose for Oak and Onroak Automotive crossing the Atlantic to race in their series," said Dumas. "We need to build something strong, because if it doesn't happen, it's not good for motorsports, and we want to be part of a very strong championship. We like the series very much and believe it can have a big future." More ...

Michael Schumacher 'sued for causing motorbike crash before skiing accident'?  Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher is reportedly being sued by an unnamed Spanish man for allegedly causing a motorbike accident just weeks before the sportsman's skiing accident.

The 45-year-old has been in a medically-induced coma in a Grenoble hospital since he hit his head on a rock while skiing off-piste in the French Alps on December 29.

According to the Daily Mail, a Spanish individual has filed a formal complaint, accusing Schumacher of knocking him off his motorbike after failing to give way at a roundabout in Bormujos, Seville on November 17 last year. More ...

Will Mercedes buy out Aston Martin?  Last year, Merc’s AMG division signed an agreement to supply Aston Martin with engines. But was that, as widely rumored, just the first step in a German takeover of Britain’s most venerable sports car maker? Top Gear caught up with AMG boss Tobias Moers to find out – and grill him on the new AMG GT sports car and death of the SLS at the same time.

But first up, the big one: is Merc planning to buy out Aston? Can the Gaydon firm survive without more Mercedes involvement?
"That [AM’s disappearance] would be the result if we hadn’t stepped in," says Moers. But is it just an engine deal, or are you looking at more than that? "Just the engines," he says. "We provide them with the engines and the electronic architecture – this is something that can kill you if you don’t have an automotive sugar daddy."

Pushing Moers on the details of the partnership, he puts it this way: AMG is a supplier and is quite busy enough with its own stuff to be thinking too much about buying AM, thanks very much. More ...

Whitmarsh: $9.5m from McLaren?  
Martin Whitmarsh smiling all the way to the bank?
Ousted boss Martin Whitmarsh could walk away from McLaren with a payout worth the equivalent of $9.5 million.

In March 2014, when Eric Boullier became the team's new chief after Ron Dennis' return to power, it was rumored Whitmarsh had agreed not to speak to the news media while his contract payout was being negotiated.


Dennis said at the time: "Martin is a friend. Some decisions you take in life are not that easy. I will not elaborate."

Britain's Daily Mail now reports that, while Whitmarsh's severance package was still being negotiated, it was "likely" to be the equivalent of about $9.5 million.

Correspondent Jonathan McEvoy said the figure was the equivalent of about $420K for each of the 24 years Whitmarsh worked at McLaren.

Total fuel suspected for Red Bull woes  The fuel supplied by French oil giant Total could be causing Red Bull's repeated 2014 problems with the mandatory fuel-flow sensor.

It emerges that, during qualifying in Shanghai, the reigning World champion team had more trouble with the Gill-supplied device.

To avoid a Melbourne-style disqualification, Red Bull reportedly adhered to an interim agreement reached with the governing International Automobile Federation to revert to other measurements in the event of a sensor failure.

Meanwhile, the search to cure the problem continues. More ...

Susie Wolff a 'Publicity Stunt'?  
Williams' test driver Susie Wolff.
[Editor's Note: We don't disagree with the general premise outlined below. Like the writer says, Williams Martini Racing test driver Susie Wolff, who will run Friday practice sessions for the team at Silverstone and Hockenheim this year, has never done anything of note in anything resembling a major racing series. Wolff is of course, attractive, and married to Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff. And in the big money, political game of F1, we don't disagree that those two criteria have at least as much to do with driving acumen in Wolff obtaining valuable Grand Prix weekend seat time this season.

What we do find intriguing is the fact the British F1 media rarely turn on their own. The writer mentions "several drivers of greater promise," than Wolff, a Scot. However, the writer goes on to talk about merely one driver, Worcestershire native James Calado, winner of 4 GP2 races the last two seasons.

Our quick take: Of course, Wolff is a publicity stunt. Of course, there have likely been behind-the-scenes deals made to get her in the car. Of course, based on sheer merit, Calado is a more worthy candidate, as are the two drivers who finished ahead of him in GP2 last year, and the drivers who finished one-two in GP2 the year before, who likewise are not in F1. But at the end of the day, any intelligent motorsports fan knows these things. More ...

Lack of sponsorship could shut down Swan Racing (2nd Update)  UPDATE #2 Swan Racing co-owner Anthony Marlowe tweeted on Thursday afternoon: "My mission is to ensure @ColeWhitt races in every #NASCAR Sprint Cup event this season."

04/18/14 The Swan Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team released a number of employees Thursday and may not compete in the circuit's next race at Richmond International Raceway On April 26. Team employees were reportedly informed today that the team is suspending operations, and many of them are already seeking employment with other teams. Sources say there is a possibility that Whitt's #26 Toyota could be absorbed into the existing BK Racing operation, if Swan Racing is unable to continue. Godfather Motorsports

04/17/14 Swan Racing issued the following statement Thursday afternoon: "Swan Racing is in the process of reviewing its current situation and the ability to continue to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The team has been unable to secure the kind of sponsorship required to effectively operate the team. As a result, the team management is exploring every available option. We hope to be in position to provide a detailed update in the near future." Swan Racing
Mercedes to shed F1 staff - report  (GMM)  Dominant F1 team Mercedes could be preparing to shed some staff.

Italy's Autosprint reports that team chairman Niki Lauda has assessed the chassis team at Brackley, and the nearby engine facility at Brixworth, and concluded that 1,250 staff is too many.

Early mistakes affected Schumacher outcome - report  (GMM)  A German magazine claims mistakes in the initial treatment of Michael Schumacher's head injuries may have affected his hopes of recovery.

Stern, a weekly newsmagazine, says that when paramedics arrived at the scene of the F1 legend's skiing fall, they may have misdiagnosed the seriousness of his injuries.

That is because when they initially assessed the great former Ferrari and Mercedes driver, he was conscious.

A senior emergency doctor was quoted by Stern as saying a "confused" patient who nonetheless has "his eyes open" and is "speaking and moving", can initially be diagnosed as having a less severe trauma. More ...

Dyson Racing to run Bentley's in Pirelli World Challenge (Update)  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  After an impressive performance at the opening round of the Blancpain Endurance Series in Monza, Italy last weekend, the new Bentley Continental GT3 is set to reintroduce the celebrated British marque to North American motorsports with Dyson Racing. The premier sports car racing team in the U.S., Dyson will race a pair of Continental GT3s in the second half of the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge in preparation for a full season of competition in 2015.

The new partnership returns Bentley to the racetracks of North America for the first time since 2003. The Continental GT3 will be on display on the Bentley stand at the New York International Auto Show on April 16 and 17. Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, Brian Gush, comments from the show: More ...

Formula 1 teams to lift ban on active suspension? (Update)  UPDATE (GMM)  F1 could bring back highly-sophisticated 'active suspension' to cut costs.

Reporting from Shanghai, Telegraph correspondent Daniel Johnson said the idea is among a draft proposal by the FIA after teams blocked Jean Todt's plans for a budget cap.

Active suspension was banned after Williams utterly dominated in 1993, but bringing it back could cut costs by making it easier and cheaper to set up today's complex cars.

Johnson said every car would by 2017 be fitted with 'FIA standard active suspension', and along with other benefits it could mean teams could function without as many staff at grands prix. More ...

Haas F1 team to use Dallara Chassis  NASCAR team boss Gene Haas is eying a tie-up with renowned single-seater constructor Dallara to build a car for his entry into the 2015 Formula 1 world championship.

"We're not looking to start our own shop," Haas confirmed when asked by AUTOSPORT if he was looking for a partner to design and build a car for him.

"We've had preliminary talks with Dallara and they're ready to go.

"They have a complete facility, they're experienced, [and] they've been involved in racing forever as far as I can remember.

"It would be insurmountable to say we going to figure out how to build a chassis by ourselves and hire all the people in nine months.

"We're going to have to compromise on what we do with construction of the car and acquire whatever we can." More ...

Montreal to renew F1 deal for 10 year  Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre today said that the F1 Canadian Grand Prix at Gilles-Villeneuve will continue to be held in the city for “another decade under an agreement to be reached soon.” F1’s agreement with Octane Racing Group to stage the grand prix is slated to expire after the June 8 race. F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone is also “optimistic a new deal will be reached.” Ecclestone: “We’re in the process of getting things sorted out and I’m sure we’ll do that.” Bloomberg News
Formula E eyes city night races  The success of F1 night races, most recently in Bahrain, could influence future decisions on Formula E host cities. While Agag said that there are no immediate plans for a night race, he thinks that it would be beneficial to have one. However, the biggest obstacle for a night race comes from the series itself, as one of Formula E’s criteria is minimizing CO2 emissions at all its activities.

“If we do a night race it will have to be a place where the energy can be obtained from renewable sources,” said Agag. “So that would be basically our first criteria before approaching the possibility of a night race, but yes, why not.”

And with ongoing talks about races in Rome and Paris, the idea of racing around the Eiffel Tower or Colosseum under the lights could provide a picturesque setting.  HJ Mai/Sportsbusinessdaily.com

Formula E to add another North American City  Electric racing series Formula E is in talks with two North American cities to replace Rio de Janeiro on the calendar of its inaugural season. However, Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag could not reveal the specific cities. Agag said, “We are in touch with two cities for a replacement, actually both in North America. We will probably have news in the next weeks about the replacement of the Rio race.” [Editor's Note: AR1.com knows the city but was asked not to reveal it just yet.  It will be a great venue. Stay tuned.]

Rio de Janeiro was originally scheduled to host the third race of the season in November, but was dropped from a revised calendar that was presented by motorsports governing body FIA at the World Motor Sport Council meeting in Morocco. The city selected as Rio’s replacement will host its Formula E race in February.

Agag told SBD Global that the race was postponed in order to give local authorities more time to put the track together. In addition, Rio is currently preparing for two other major sporting events, this summer’s FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. More ...

Overheard in Long Beach - Sunday (3rd Update)  UPDATE #3 AR1.com spoke to Long Beach race boss Jim Michaelian after the race Sunday and he said there was a good chance the final head count for the weekend will come in at 180,000.  There were A LOT of people there.  Long Beach is hands down THE BEST IndyCar weekend of the year.  The Indy 500 may get more overall fans on race day, but nothing beats the atmosphere of Long Beach.

Sage Karan to attempt to qualify for Indy 500 while still in high school
An update to our Sage Karan rumor in this report below.  The Indy Star reports that Sage Karam, the winner of last season's Indy Lights championship, is having a program finalized with Indianapolis-based Ganassi Racing, a senior team official told The Indianapolis Star. The car number hasn't been identified, but the Nazareth, Pa., resident will drive a Chevrolet-powered Dallara alongside last year's 500 champion Tony Kanaan, reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball and Ryan Briscoe.

Steve Lauletta, the president of Chip Ganassi's team, confirmed the effort.

"We'll get everything done early (this) week," he said. "It looks good."

Assuming Karam qualifies for the May 25 race, he will compete in the 500 on the same weekend he graduates from high school. More ...

NASCAR's Haas plans new F1 team, decision nears (10th Update)  UPDATE #10 Autosprint correspondent Maurizio Voltini claims the Haas team will be powered by customer Ferrari engines in 2015.

04/10/14 Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that official confirmation will be given on Friday that a new team owned by American businessman Gene Haas will be allowed to join the race series next year.

Last week Mr. Ecclestone told Britain’s Independent newspaper that he thought the team would be accepted but Mr. Haas is still waiting for formal confirmation from F1’s governing body the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).
“We haven’t been notified by the FIA, but Bernie is kind of half [of] Formula One, so I’m sure what he says goes,” said Mr. Haas at the Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday. He won’t have to wait much longer. More ...

BMW, Ford considering F1 return - reports (2nd Update)  UPDATE #2 Autosprint correspondent Maurizio Voltini claims the Haas team will be powered by customer Ferrari engines in 2015.  You know the ones Ferrari President said were so slow in Bahrain he could not bear to watch and left the race early.

04/11/14 (GMM)  Colin Kolles is at the helm of 'Forza Rossa', a team that the FIA on Friday said could be next in line for a F1 debut.

At a World Motor Sport Council meeting in Morocco, the governing body approved the 2015 entry of Californian Gene Haas' outfit, called Haas Formula.

And the FIA said "further investigations" are ongoing for another "high standard" application filed by Forza Rossa.

It is believed Forza Rossa is the name of former HRT boss Kolles' new Romanian-backed project.

However, Friday's news was even better for Haas, despite the fact his Nascar team co-owner, Tony Stewart, is not involved in the new project. More ...

Ferrari to axe Domenicali (2nd Update)  UPDATE #2 This rumor is now upgraded to 'fact.'  Ferrari on Monday confirmed reports Stefano Domenicali has "decided to resign" as team boss (they gave him a chance to quit or they were going to terminate him).

In a statement, president Luca di Montezemolo thanked the 48-year-old not only for his long "contribution and commitment", but for the "great responsibility" displayed by stepping down amid Ferrari's early-season crisis.

Domenicali confirmed that Domenicali's successor is Marco Mattiacci, "a manager who knows the value of the company.  He has enthusiastically accepted this challenge."

Domenicali, who said on Monday he had the "courage to take difficult and very agonizing decisions", joined Ferrari in 1991. More ...

Subway to announce 'Groundbreaking' Sponsorship With F1 (Update)  UPDATE (GMM)  American chain Subway could be the next sponsor to enter formula one, according to F1 business journalist Christian Sylt.

Zak Brown, an F1 sponsorship guru who manages the sandwich giant's motor sport portfolio, told the Telegraph newspaper that F1 and Subway are a "perfect fit".

"I took the Subway chief marketing officer to meet Bernie (Ecclestone) in Montreal last year, and I would say they have been exploring it for a year," said Brown. More ...

Formula One owner CVC to sell its stake in the sport by 2018 (Update)  UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation' today.  According to Ecclestone a "conversation" had taken place, although he was quick to point out that "just" a conversation had taken place and that it "may not go anywhere."

He added: "We'll see what the group comes up with - maybe they will get enough together to buy shares."

However, days later the F1 supremo, who later this month will face bribery charges in a Munich court, ruled it out.

"Maybe CVC will still try and float," he told Christian Sylt at the Financial Mail On Sunday. More ...

Overheard in Long Beach - Saturday  Another beautiful day in Long Beach, California where we saw Indy Lights and IndyCar qualify and the Tudor Sports Car Series race with the Ganassi Ford duo of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas taking the win over the Taylor Corvette.

The Saturday crowd was what we have seen in recent years but it did appear there were more people in the General Admission areas this time around.  There were a lot of people at the track and although no official numbers are released it appeared north of 60,000. 

Word is that when Mario Andretti was left stranded on the grid in St. Pete in the 2-seater car it was because a half-shaft broke.  Word is that perhaps that part needs to be beefed up given the car is carrying more weight than the half-shaft was designed for. More ...

Viso returning to IndyCar? (Update)  UPDATE See our overheard in Long Beach piece for an update on EJ Viso.

E.J. Viso working on getting back into IndyCar.
In an interview with Jake Query of the IMS Radio Network IndyCar, five-year IndyCar veteran E.J. Viso mentioned that he was working hard to get back in the Verizon IndyCar Series. The Venezuelan is in Long Beach this weekend to compete in the Stadium Super Trucks event.

While Viso wasn't specific as to when he might return to the series, he did mentioned that the political situation in Venezuela has affected his sponsorship situation. Nevertheless, he is optimistic that he will make a return at some point.

Paul Tracy to run Indy and Toronto  UPDATE #2 AR1.com's Mark Cipolloni spoke to Tracy in Long Beach Friday and he said he will not be running any IndyCar races this year. This rumor is downgraded to 'false.'  He told Cipolloni that his tweets saying he was looking forward to returning to some of his favorite IndyCar venues this year was mistaken that he would be racing.  It was meant that he would be at them for NBC Sport Network and his TV role.

Might we see Captain Quebec in the 2014 Indy 500?
This Auto123.com article indicates 2003 CART Champion Paul Tracy may in fact run the Indianapolis 500. We'll leave this rumor as speculation for now.

Canadian racer Paul Tracy may be joining old friends Jacques Villeneuve and Juan Pablo Montoya as he may try to qualify for the 2014 Indy 500.

Tracy hasn't raced in the Indy 500 since 2011. That year, he finished 25th for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and it is the same team that might just be interested in putting Tracy back in the car for this year's race.

Villeneuve, 42, has not raced in the Indy 500 since he won the race in 1995. Montoya, 38, made his last start in the race in 2000. More ...

Domenicali on the way out?  
Might the Scuderia's woeful early 2014 form, mean the end of Stefano Domenicali?
Apr.11 (GMM)  La Gazzetta dello Sport, the influential Italian sports daily, speculated on Friday that Ferrari could be poised to make a change at the top.

It has long been rumoured that Stefano Domenicali, the fabled Maranello team's chief, might not survive too many more disappointing seasons at the helm.

"(I) say to all those jealous people wanting this job: they have to fight for it!" Domenicali told F1's official website last week.

According to Gazzetta, however, 48-year-old Domenicali might finally be losing the support of Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo.

Montezemolo left the Bahrain circuit last Sunday part-way through the grand prix, declaring that watching "slow" Ferraris gave him "great pain".

Now, at an event at the Ferrari museum in Maranello on Friday, Montezemolo reportedly said: "I already know what you want to ask.

"My reply is that we will leave no stone unturned to be where we need to be.  We will work day and night to improve and make the decisions that we need to take."

Wondered Gazzetta correspondent Andrea Tosi: "(Will there be) changes at the top of the Gestione Sportiva?

Teams to buy into F1  (GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone on Wednesday revealed that a group of teams is considering buying into formula one.

It was rumored in Bahrain that the F1 chief executive, who owns just 5 per cent of the sport, was putting the group of teams together in a possible move to buy out the majority shareholder CVC.

Ecclestone is facing trial in Germany later this month on bribery charges, and if convicted CVC has committed to standing him down.

It is rumored that fronting the prospective team shareholders could be a way for him to remain in control no matter the outcome in Munich. More ...

IndyCar to return to MIS?  Don't turn blue holding your breath  Even though it was NASCAR that was at Michigan International Speedway Wednesday for a Goodyear tire test, the talk quickly turned to the IndyCar series.

When he was recently in Windsor, IndyCar driver Ryan Briscoe suggested that perhaps since its repave two years ago, MIS might be too fast a surface for open-wheel racing.

“It would be a very high-speed oval,” MIS president Roger Curtis agreed, but regardless of that opinion, talks continue between MIS and IndyCar to try and find a way to bring the series back to the two-mile oval.

"There’s been a lot of talks between both sides off and on over the last few years, including this winter, to see if we can work something out,” Curtis said. "I still remain optimistic." More ...
Investment Funds To Invest $40M In Formula E, Announcement Expected Shortly  Formula E "will receive support from financial backers, which will be announced shortly," according to Sylt & Reid of MOTORSPORT-TOTAL. Formula E "is reportedly set to announce that investment funds will invest" $40M into the business. In December, the electric racing series' parent company Formula E Holdings, which is based in Hong Kong, sold a 10% stake in the sport for an estimated $21M to U.S. fund Causeway Media Partners.

Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said, "The Americans were one of a bigger round of investors. We have completed the round now and a number of investors came on board so there are others to be announced. Financial investors of the same size more or less. There are three investors. They are more funds than companies." More ...

Ticket sales way up in Long Beach  Word on the street is that ticket sales are way up for this year's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend featuring IndyCar, the Tudor United Sports Car Championship, the Pirelli World Challenge and other supporting events.
Panther IndyCar team out of business?  Rumor has it that IndyCar team Panther Racing have sold everything that isn't bolted down and let everyone go after losing the National Guard sponsorship to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Ecclestone is attempting a takeover coup of F1  
Bernie Ecclestone is out to take F1 away from the FIA
(GMM)  Big politics are at play in formula one.

Amid all the noise about quiet engines and the urgent need to change rules, many suspect Bernie Ecclestone is hard at work on his latest coup.

According to the respected correspondent for Auto Motor und Sport, Michael Schmidt, the F1 chief executive is furious the FIA won the battle to get turbo V6s on the grid.

Ecclestone is reportedly now determined to win the war.

FIA president Jean Todt declared mere hours ago that a EUR 150 million per team budget cap for 2015 was set to be imminently agreed. More ...

McLaren plays down rumors in Bahrain  (GMM)  McLaren is at the centre of a body of rumors in the Bahrain paddock.

In title sponsor Vodafone's wake, the British team ran prominent Mobil 1 branding in Australia, before Esso took over the space on the sidepods of the MP4-29 in Malaysia.

Now in Bahrain, the logo of Bahrain flag carrier Gulf Air is on the car, triggering the obvious conclusion McLaren might continue its new policy of livery changes throughout the 2014 season.

A spokesman would not comment "on future liveries". More ...

McLaren want Alonso back in 2015  
Dennis and Alonso in 2007
The Bahrain paddock is being rocked by a rumor which has slipped out earlier than expected regarding the future of McLaren and Fernando Alonso. The British team appears to have started off the hostilities, or at least that is how it is being interpreted.

Yesterday McLaren posted a photo on Twitter of "Ron smiling seven years ago in Bahrain". Alongside Dennis was the recently signed Fernando Alonso, chatting happily with his new boss in 2007 in the paddock at the circuit.

Honda's interest as part of its return to Formula 1 in 2015 as the exclusive engine supplier for McLaren has been confirmed. They want a world champion at the wheel, and their preference lies with Fernando Alonso because he has the experience to drive them forward. There was talk at the end of the last season, and the rumblings have begun again now.

Fernando Alonso's camp is choosing to ignore rumors of this sort. "The driver is happy where he is," said his manager, Luis García Abad.

Wife arranging to take Schumacher home (Update)  UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Michael Schumacher's manager has played down reports that suggest the F1 legend's chances of recovery are now looking grim.

It was reported that the former Ferrari and Mercedes driver's wife is currently arranging for a medical suite to be added to their Swiss home, so that Schumacher can continue his now more than three-month coma away from the Grenoble hospital.

It was suggested Corinna Schumacher plans to take her husband home because doctors believe his chances of ever recovering are now slim.

But Schumacher's manager Sabine Kehm denied even that a medical suite is being built at the mansion on Lake Geneva. More ...

Red Bull considering alternatives to Renault  
The French Power Unit is simply inferior to the German Power Unit
(GMM)  After struggling to get up to speed in F1's new V6 era with Renault, Red Bull is beginning to think about alternatives.

Dr Helmut Marko has already issued an ultimatum to Renault.

"If there is no noticeable improvement in two or three months, we will definitely be talking about an alternative," he told the German newspaper Bild.

But the German magazine Sport Bild claims that the industry-leading Mercedes power unit is not an option for Red Bull, as the German marque "does not want to support its biggest competitor". More ...

Council May Consider Opening Long Beach Grand Prix To Bid from F1 (2nd Update)  UPDATE #2 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' with the news (See AR1.com report) that Long Beach will stick with IndyCar at least through 2015.

Start of 1983 LB GP - the last F1 race before CART took over
03/01/14 Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone evidently wants it back. And a closed-door session of the Long Beach City Council on Tuesday will determine if the contract will be put up for bid. 

"What will transpire Tuesday night is that the city council will vote on whether they wish to issue an RFP (Request For Proposal) to determine whether Long Beach will continue with the IndyCar weekend and the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach or consider another party that wants to conduct a Formula 1 race," said Jim Michaelian, the GPALB president and CEO who is currently preparing for the 40th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 11-13.

"Our contract runs through 2015 and we are asking the city to extend this very productive relationship for another five years if the RFP is denied." More ...
Formula E could snap up F1's New York race (Update)  UPDATE
The NJ F1 race would have Manhattan as a backdrop, but the costs are thru the roof
Formula One could lose its chances of hosting a Grand Prix in New Jersey if Leo Hindery junior, the organizer of the proposed race, doesn't get a move on. This is because the boss of the Formula E electric racing series says he too is working with authorities on hosting a street race in New York according to an article in Forbes by Christian Sylt.

Formula E launches in September and will race on ten tracks in city centers such as Los Angeles, Miami and Monte Carlo. "We are working with New York but we are kind of waiting to see what happens with Formula One," said Formula E's chief executive Alejandro Agag.

In 2011 Hindery announced the Grand Prix of America, a race which was due to take place in 2013 on 3.2-miles of public roads in Port Imperial, a district in the New Jersey towns of West New York and Weehawken. Part of the track snakes alongside the Hudson river and has the striking background of the Manhattan skyline. More ...

F1 close to scrapping fuel flow sensor  The FIA is understood to be close to scrapping its controversial fuel flow sensor. It's understood the sport's governing body and team technical representatives met over the weekend to discuss concerns over the fuel flow sensor with a reinterpretation of fuel usage regulations (almost) unanimously decided.

Designed to ensure teams do not use more than the allowed 100kg of fuel per race, or 100kg per hour, the FIA homologated a sensor which it could monitor in real time. However since it was implemented at the start of winter testing it has been found that there is 'noise' in the signal the sensor provides, leaving it open to criticism and (mis)interpretation. More ...

Honda to quit IndyCar?  
If this rumor is true, it may explain why Roger Griffiths left Honda HPD suddenly and unexpectedly
I just had to laugh. This was news? Really? I've been writing about the sheer, unbridled greed train that has defined F1 for going on fifteen years now in this space. The only outrage deserved at this juncture should be outrage that anybody is actually still outraged about it.

This just in: F1 is a monumental insult to the noble spirit and engaging quest that the pinnacle of racing once was and is supposed to be. F1 long ago devolved into an out-and-out greed-fest orchestrated by a mad little man by the name of Bernie Ecclestone, who would monetize air if he could figure out how to do it. For something that fancies itself as the be-all and end-all of the sport of motor racing, F1 is a dismally regimented and ruthlessly orchestrated ritual with all the fervor and passion of a tax filing.

Countries and local governments are held up at gunpoint for the "privilege" of allowing the fabled F1 circus to arrive at their doorsteps, with three-year contracts approaching $50 million per and with anywhere from $100-$400 million stacked on top of it to ensure that "proper" venues are created so that the circus can suck every last available dollar from the premises in supremely antiseptic comfort. Needless to say, the noble quest that F1 once represented is long gone, and any illusions and delusions to the contrary are just that. More ...

Dempsey to run Long Beach  
Peter Dempsey taking the checkered flag in the epic 2013 Freedom 100 finish.
We're getting word that 2013 Freedom 100 winner Peter Dempsey will likely be back in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires in two weeks at Long Beach. The 27-year-old Irishman has run partial schedules in each of the last three Lights seasons. His best season was last year, in which he scored three second-place finishes in addition to his epic Freedom 100 win, started 12 of the 13 races, and finished fifth in the series standings.

As for the team, we're hearing it is an organization that has previously competed in Indy car series. However, we are working on figuring out the details of the arrangement.

Brian C. reporting for AR1

Horner dating Spice Girl  
Horner seen on a spring stroll with Geri Halliwell
(GMM)  Christian Horner has reportedly split with his long-term partner six months after the birth of their first child.

We reported late last year that the 40-year-old Red Bull team boss and his partner Beverley were expecting to be parents.

"I'm very happy about it -- it's going to mix things up!" Horner said at the time.

On Saturday, publishing a paparazzi photo of Briton Horner on a walk with Geri Halliwell, the British tabloid The Sun said the pair is "dating".

41-year-old Halliwell, better known as Ginger Spice of the former British pop supergroup Spice Girls, was seen "walking arm-in-arm" with Horner near her London home recently, the Daily Mail newspaper agreed.

If true, it would mean Horner has split with his partner of 14 years, Beverley Allen, just six months after their daughter Olivia was born.

Graham Rahal and Dale Jr. to swap rides (2nd Update)  UPDATE #2
Chevy says Dale Jr. has not asked to drive an IndyCar.  Is he afraid?
Chevrolet has not received an official request from Dale Earnhardt Jr. to swap race cars with Honda driver Graham Rahal.

Earnhardt and Rahal are both sponsored this year by Army National Guard, and Rahal reached out to Earnhardt last week via Twitter to see if NASCAR's most popular driver was interested in swapping cars.

The Twitter conversation sparked tons of fan interest, and the guard said it wanted to be part of a swap. But Earnhardt quickly quieted the talk two days later when he said he could not drive a Honda. Chevrolet and Honda are direct competitors in the IndyCar Series. More ...

Overheard at St. Petersburg - Saturday  On a rainy and slow Saturday in St. Petersburg there was still a fair amount of inside information to dig out of the IndyCar paddock.

We did hear that the three Race Directors (Beaux Barfield, Brian Barnhart and  Johnny Unser) who will determine if there has been an infraction during an IndyCar race, practice or qualifying, will remain the same at least through the Indy 500.  After that there could a some minor rotations.  This year race control will have the ability to replay more of what TV sends them and they will also be able to go back further in time to see how an infraction may have developed and if one driver instigated it.

Derrick Walker said, "it’s really about equipment and procedures and really trying to improve our consistency and our ability to make the right call. I had the really fortunate ability when I joined INDYCAR to visit a lot of race organizations and different events and they were kind of enough for me to look at what they did and how they did. Everybody has the same problem. You don’t have enough eyes and just making the right calls is a risk factor. At the end, I took the best of the best and some of it could apply to what we do and some didn’t. We’re moving forward, cautiously, with a new system that really starts with equipment. We spent a considerable amount of money on screens and adding camera positions and a replay systems that will let us zoom in on details. It’s up and running here and it runs fantastic." More ...

NASCAR to reduce horsepower to Cup cars next season (Update)  UPDATE NASCAR has another meeting scheduled in April with Sprint Cup engine builders to determine possible changes to the engine for next year, said Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR vice president of innovation and racing development. NASCAR has talked with teams since late last year about engine changes for 2015 that would reduce horsepower. "We're all working together to find the solution,'' Stefanyshyn told Motor Racing Network on Friday at Martinsville Speedway. "We have to make sure that the little guys, the smaller engine builders are OK with this and we don't hurt them financially. It's a balance, and we've probably got six different alternatives we're looking at. We're going to be needing to get to a decision here pretty soon.'' Engine builders expect NASCAR to reduce horsepower by about 100 or so for next year. Motor Racing Network

03/23/14 NASCAR is planning on making significant engine package changes in 2015 to extend the life of Sprint Cup powerplants and reduce horsepower. And along with engine changes, there likely will be aerodynamic and tire changes for the Cup cars in 2015 as well. That's the word from NASCAR Vice President of Competition and Racing Development Robin Pemberton. Pemberton said the sanctioning body has had four meetings so far with representatives from Chevy, Ford and Toyota and race teams about how to implement those changes. No consensus has been reached yet, according to Pemberton, but discussions are ongoing in advance of making the changes for next year. More ...
Ecclestone plotting heist to take down F1 to gain control?  
Bernie Ecclestone
The most outlandish theory hanging in the moist heat of Kuala Lumpur was that Bernie Ecclestone is staging one of the cleverest heists in a career of clever heists by talking down the sport he spent a lifetime transforming.

The theory goes that he is criticizing the lack of noise from the new V6 engines because he wants the value of Formula One to fall. He will then orchestrate the purchase of the majority share in the business at a reduced price and remain in charge for the rest of eternity.

His willing accomplice, so the conspiracy runs, could conceivably be Dietrich Mateschitz, the Red Bull owner, a fellow billionaire, friend and recent critic of the quieter engines. More ...

Australian GP to switch from F1 to IndyCar (2nd Update)  UPDATE #2 Australian Grand Prix Corporation chief executive Andrew Westacott has confirmed it has discussed the idea of an IndyCar race with the government in the wake of the furor over quieter F1 engines.

The extreme option of severing ties with F1 and moving to IndyCar was floated by AGP chairman Ron Walker, also the head of the F1 Promoter’s Association, in the British paper The Independent.

Four-times F1 champion Sebastian Vettel also came out in the press decrying the quieter engines.

“It’s s..t,” Vettel slammed. “I was on the pit wall during the race, and it is quieter than in a bar! I think for the fans it is not good." More ...

Overheard at St. Petersburg - Friday  A new IndyCar season is upon us and it was good to see old friends after a long cold and snowy winter in the frozen tundra of NJ. 

Had a chance to talk briefly to Dale Coyne's rookie driver, Carlos Huertas from Colombia.  In what is becoming a tradition, Coyne confirmed Huertas the day before the season began, which mean the rookie had no testing time and the team and driver had no time to gel.  The fact he finished last in both sessions comes as no surprise, therefore.  Huertas is one of four Colombians in the field this year, the other three being Montoya, Saavedra and Munoz.  Huertas said all the IndyCar races are broadcast live in Colombia and it's very popular........Speaking of international TV coverage, In addition to television in the United States on ABC, ESPN also distributes Verizon IndyCar Series race telecasts through a combination of ESPN networks and syndication to more than 197 countries and 96 million homes. In addition, U.S. troops serving overseas and on Navy vessels around the world can watch live via a broadcast agreement between ESPN and the American Forces Network. More ...

NASCAR Kicks Off Green Initiative, Unveils Air Titan 2.0 System  NASCAR on Friday at Martinsville Speedway kicked off its second annual Race to Green initiative. A key pillar of the effort is a call-to-action for fans and the industry to donate trees that will be planted across the country as well as in a number of areas recently devastated by natural disasters. NASCAR fans can visit NASCAR.com/Green to donate trees to be planted with the support of The Arbor Day Foundation. Social media highlights of the sustainability efforts will be featured on the website.

NASCAR also unveiled the new Air Titan 2.0 track-drying technology at Martinsville. The system works in conjunction with existing jet dryers and the Eco-Infused Track Vacuum/Sweeper from Elgin, which becomes the Official Sweeper of NASCAR Green. NASCAR now has the ability to deploy up to 21 units in Toyota Tundras at larger venues. THE DAILY.
Carlos Huertas to drive road courses for Dale Coyne (Update)  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today as Dale Coyne pretty much confirmed to AR1.com that Huertas will be in the No. 18 for all the road course races.  Huertas drove in the Renault FR3.5 series in 2013.

03/26/14 Word is that Colombian Carlos Huertas will drive the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda at all the road course races in 2014.  Expect an announcement soon.  Meanwhile the 2014 IndyCar Silly Season page is now complete with which drivers go where, including car numbers.  That also means our 2014 IndyCar teams page is complete, but this is IndyCar and anything can change when the next ride-buyer brings a check.
Rain to hit NASCAR again  The National Weather Service calls for the possibility of wet weather at Martinsville Speedway Friday and Saturday, although Sunday's forecast looks good. The current forecast: Friday: Showers, mainly after 11:00am. High near 61. Chance of precipitation is 80%.
Saturday: Showers, with thunderstorms also possible after 2:00pm. High near 62. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 60.
Dario Franchitti to drive Indy 500 pace car  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.

Dario Franchitti
A very well-deserved honor is coming for three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti.

Franchitti, who was forced to retire after sustaining severe injuries in a crash last October at the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston, will become the 14th former winner of the ’500′ to drive the pace car for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” per Curt Cavin of The Indianapolis Star.

Cavin says official confirmation will be made this morning during the Scotsman’s appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Stick a fork in the Viper program?  SRT Motorsports will not take part in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, Sportscar365 has learned.

Multiple French reports have indicated that the Detroit automaker has pulled its two-car factory GTE-Pro effort, ahead of next month’s deadline for the final entry deposits.

The Viper made its return to the twice-around-the-clock French endurance classic last year, as the first year of a planned multi-year program. More ...

Servia to Dragon Racing Formula E team  
Oriol Servia seems likely to team up with Jay Penske and Dragon Racing in Formula E.
According to this ElectricAutosport.com article, IndyCar driver Oriol Servia is likely to team up with the Jay Penske-owned Dragon Racing for the inaugural Formula E season. The Spaniard was named as part of the Formula E Drivers' Club in January, but seems to have progressed in formalizing his plans for this coming year.

Servia is currently scheduled to compete in four Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2014 for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

AR1 Staff

Huertas to DCR  
Will Carlos Huertas be the latest to pilot the #18 DCR Honda?
This translated article indicates that Colombian Formula Renault 3.5 driver Carlos Huertas could be on the verge Dale Coyne Racing for this weekend's Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. While the translation is not clear, it looks as though Huertas may be in the #18 for road and street races this coming season.

We await official word.

Did Bowyer spin on purpose?  
Clint Bowyer
Clint Bowyer lashed out at fans Sunday night who accused him of spinning on purpose at Auto Club Speedway.

Bowyer had a flat tire and spun with two laps remaining in the race. He was accused of spinning on purpose last year at Richmond to help Michael Waltrip Racing manipulate the outcome of the race to help teammate Martin Truex Jr. Bowyer and MWR were penalized for the move, costing Truex a spot in the Chase. More ...

Stefanovich eyes Marussia's place on F1 grid  
Zoran Stefanovich
(GMM)  Zoran Stefanovich, who tried and failed to enter the sport with defunct Toyota's assets in 2010, is back on the cusp of formula one.

Although it is believed the Serbian has withdrawn his application to put together a brand new team for 2015, Italy's Omnicorse reports that Stefanovich has been in talks to take over the existing backmarker Marussia.

The report said the Stefanovich talks date back to last November, as the interest of current Marussia owner Nikolay Fomenko is waning under the stresses of the more expensive 2014 regulations.

Former Renault chief Flavio Briatore says the cost explosion in F1 is "madness". More ...

Razia eyes IndyCar (Update)  UPDATE
Luiz Razia
Word is that Razia will be in a car at the St. Pete season opener with Sam Schmidt Motorsports.  Whether it is an IndyCar or Indy Lights remains to be seen.  Earlier this year he tested an Indy Lights car for the team, but he is fast enough to be in IndyCar. Gil de Ferran is his agent.

12/29/13 More and more GP2 drivers are looking at IndyCar as an option!  Excellent drivers like Conor Daly, Alexander Rossi, Sam Bird, Luca Filippi have no future in F1 unless they have unlimited $$$ resources, like Chilton, Van der Garde etc. ...

Rumor has it that Luiz Razia is now looking for a possible seat in IndyCar. After the interest of former GP2 driver Sam Bird and Luca Filippi, the Brazilian has put IndyCar high on the list. The Panther team, Herta, Coyne, KV and Rahal still have unconfirmed seats for 2014.

INDYCAR back to Brazil March 8, 2015 (Update)  UPDATE
Autodromo Nelson Piquet
This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Brazilian officials have announced the return of IndyCar to the country next season, saying Friday that a race will be held in the capital of Brasilia.

The federal district government released a statement saying the Autodromo Nelson Piquet will host the race from 2015-19. The deal with local race promoters was signed at an event in Sao Paulo.

IndyCar confirmed it is “exploring a return to Brazil and is in discussions with event organizers in Brasilia,” but added there was “still a lot of work to be done” before the race can be officially added to the 2015 schedule.

IndyCar raced in Sao Paulo from 2010 until last year, but local promoters were not able to secure the event in 2014 because of financial problems. The CART series was in Brazil from 1996-2000 with a race on an oval track in Rio de Janeiro. The race in Sao Paulo was held on a street course.

"I’m very happy to find out that our return to the calendar is secured," three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves said in a statement. “It will be great to race in Brasilia and I can’t wait for that to happen. Several challenges kept Brazil from hosting the race in 2014, but that’s life. Sometimes we need a step backward to come back stronger." More ...

The struggle to fill Indy 500 field-again  UPDATE
The Indy 500 limps into in Centennial running in 2016.
Speaking of filling the field for the 98th Indianapolis 500, we at AR1 currently count 27 confirmed entries (see below). More are rumored, and we imagine IMS will do whatever is necessary to have 33 competitors. But with only two engine manufacturers, Chevrolet and Honda are stretched already to supply 33 engines between them.

Also, if there were greater incentives in place as outlined before, this annual struggle to fill the field would not be the gargantuan task it is. Further, more manufacturers might be interested, resulting in more competitors. Yet IndyCar and IMS choose to continue spending precious company resources to insure competitors will show up, rather than investing the capital necessary to provide compelling reasons for competitors show up. While there have been positive developments such as the announcement of Verizon as title sponsor, a fundamental understanding surrounding the nature of the problems persists.

Let the record show, we here at AR1 take no pleasure in highlighting the beleaguered state of a sport we love. We also acknowledge that the Indianapolis 500, diminished as it is, remains an iconic racing and sporting classic. More ...

New Ferrari engine too heavy?  
New Ferrari engine a lead anchor?
(GMM)  One of Ferrari's main problems is that its all-new 2014 engine is overweight.

That is the claim of the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, who said customers Sauber and Marussia are also struggling with a 'power unit' that weights 13 kilograms too much.

Correspondent Michael Schmidt said the overweight Ferrari caught even the Maranello based team by surprise, having successfully argued against a further increase in the minimum car-plus-driver weight of 691 kilos for 2014. More ...

Rain to be an issue at Bristol Sunday (Update)  UPDATE The National Weather Service forecast for Sunday calls for rain, mainly after 8:00am with a high near 48. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Sunday night the rain will continue, mainly before 5:00pm, then periods of drizzle. Low around 37. Chance of precipitation 80%. The forecast for Monday looks better but there is still a 50% chances of race early.

Bristol Motor Speedway general manager Jerry Caldwell said, "By now, nearly everyone has seen Sunday's weather forecast and expressed questions regarding plans. NASCAR has a nearly 70-year history of working with tracks to get races in on the scheduled date. In Bristol Motor Speedway, we have a track that dries in less than an hour, equipment here to do it, and lights that allow us to go well into the evening. We are very hopeful and fully intend to run the Food City 500 tomorrow. If by chance that does not happen, we are prepared to race Monday at noon. But that is a backup plan we hope to not need."

03/15/14 While Saturday's weather at Bristol Motor Speedway looks good with only a slight change of rain and a high of 64, Sunday NASCAR may not be so lucky. The National Weather Service forecast for Sunday calls for a 100% chance of rain after 9:00am with a high of 53 degrees. Sunday night the chance of precipitation only drops to 90%. Monday's forecast is for a 60% chance of rain with a high of only 45 degrees. Bristol has lights and Air Titan would help dry the short track even faster than usual, so NASCAR is likely to wait as long as they can Sunday to get the race in, if possible.
Monster F1 Mercedes power unit producing 900hp  
No wonder the Mercedes are so fast.  Hamilton should win with ease
(GMM)  Mercedes' new field-leading turbo V6 engine could be producing much more horse power than was earlier believed.

Before travelling to Melbourne, team chairman Niki Lauda revealed that the basic 1.6 liter Mercedes unit is producing "about 580" hp.

As it is known that the sophisticated energy-recovery or 'ERS' side adds 160hp to the equation, then Mercedes' 2014 'power unit' equates to about 740hp at present. More ...

Mercedes breached fuel flow rules in Melbourne  
Is Mercedes breaching the fuel flow limit to make huge power?
(GMM)  Is this the 'trickery' referred to just days ago by Luca di Montezemolo?

In an open letter, the Ferrari president warned the FIA to be ready for team "trickery" in the area of "fuel, software" and "consumption" as a result of "grey areas" opened up by the new regulations.

Germany's Auto Bild reports that Mercedes, already dominating the new turbo V6 era with its powerful new engine, has triggered the FIA's attention in Australia in the area of the sport's new fuel consumption limits.

As well as being limited to just 100kg of fuel per race, each car is limited in 2014 to a maximum fuel rate of 100 kilograms per hour, enforced by a fuel flow sensor. More ...

Verizon to become IndyCar title sponsor (4th Update)  UPDATE #4 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement. SportsBusiness Daily last Friday reported the deal is for 10 years and $100M, with Verizon committing to spend approximately $10M a year in rights, activation and media.

Will Power will continue to carry Verizon livery
This rumor will be updated to 'fact' on Friday when IndyCar announces at a scheduled news conference that Verizon Communications, who is ranked 16th in the latest Fortune 500 list based on revenues and profit in 2013 will become the IndyCar title sponsor. It was ranked No. 1 in the telecommunication sector in the category of World’s Most Admired Company by Fortune Magazine.

The deal is said to be worth about $10 million per year.

The Sports Business Journal reported the deal would be for 10 years.

Verizon will also sponsor the cars of Will Power and Juan Montoya.

03/10/14 "I can say we are close to signing and announcing a new title sponsor for the IndyCar Series that could be announced within the next couple of weeks," Miles told RACER.

RACER has learned the series has rectified this problem in the contract with its new title sponsor, which includes specific language and obligations that will require significant advertising expenditures to be made on an annual basis.

Coupled with a new sponsor for the series that will promote its involvement, Miles sees a wave of momentum building for IndyCar. More ...

F1 teams to sit out Saturday practice  (GMM) Television and trackside viewers face a questionable spectacle on Saturday morning at Albert Park.

As ever, an hour of practice is scheduled to finish just two hours before the all-important qualifying hour.

Some teams, however, may not bother to send their cars out at all on Saturday morning.

That's because the newly V6-powered cars have not only proved worryingly unreliable in winter testing, but because repairing them now takes much longer than in the past. More ...

IndyCar should sellout to Forrest Lucas  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, The Hulman George family destroyed CART and has run IndyCar racing right into the ground.  It's clear they have no business running the sport.  After reading this AutoWeek article about Forrest Lucas and Lucas Oil, it would seem to me that the Lucas guy understands motorsports and understands how to grow a company.  And he has the right product line to tie it all together. To all the Hulman George family, end our frustration and sell the entire series in Forrest Lucas.  Stick to your Clabber Girl Baking Soda and Starch business and leaving the racing to someone else. Joe Morrison, Chicago
Ferrari sandbagged in winter testing?  (GMM)  Ferrari is yet to reveal the full potential of its 2014 car.

That is the view of former F1 driver Mika Salo, who raced a few times for the fabled Italian team in 1999 and is now a pundit on Finnish television.

Many believe that, in the 2014 pecking order, Ferrari trails most of the Mercedes-powered teams, but 47-year-old Salo is not so sure.

"Ferrari has been pretty much hidden," he told Finnish radio Nova.

"When you look at the sector times for the tests, some are very good but some are ridiculously bad.  They are covering up their pace and no one really knows where they are," added Salo.

Scherzinger quits X Factor for year of romance on F1 circuit?  
Scherzinger with Hamilton in 2011
Word is that Nicole Scherzinger has quit The X Factor to tour the world with boyfriend Lewis Hamilton on the Grand Prix circuit.

The pop star won’t return to the hit show for a third run and instead will cheer on Formula 1 ace Lewis following a rekindling of their romance last November.

Nicole, 35, will be at Lewis’s side for the majority of the races, as she is due to promote her forthcoming album later in the year. More ...

Schumacher no longer on respirator, but doctors say he needs a miracle (Update)  UPDATE
Michael Schumacher
Doctors treating Michael Schumacher have reportedly told his family that 'only a miracle' can now save the legendary Formula One racer who has been battling for life since his tragic skiing accident on December 29.

According to a report in Britain's Daily Telegraph, wife Corinna and brother Ralph Schumacher have been seeking advice from top brain surgeons across Europe and they have been told that chances of survival are minimal. Quoting sources, the report claims that the 45-year-old Schumacher's family believes doctors treating him in French town of Grenoble have little hope of making any progress. "The family is said to be concerned that the French doctors treating Schumacher have little hope that he will recover and now assume that he will remain in a vegetative state for the rest of his life." More ...

Dixon eyes Indy 500, Coca-Cola 600 double  
Scott Dixon
Scott Dixon, the reigning IndyCar Series champion, said he would jump at the opportunity to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600, which typically are held on Memorial Day weekend.

That, of course, means the New Zealander would have to make the short plane ride from the Brickyard in Indianapolis to Charlotte, N.C., to accomplish the grueling NASCAR/IndyCar double. It's a feat completed by only three drivers: three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, Robby Gordon and John Andretti.

Dixon, who attended the 25th anniversary event honoring Target Chip Ganassi Racing on Friday night, was asked to assess the chances of Kurt Busch, who announced earlier this month he will attempt to cover the 1,100 miles of racing May 25. More ...

NJ F1 race back in play?  According to an article on Racer.com Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that the organizers of New Jersey's Grand Prix of America have made positive steps in the bid to host their inaugural race next year, but has added that its place on the calendar is under pressure as he has also signed a contract for a race in Mexico in 2015 and agreed to host a race in France if sufficient funding is raised.

"New Jersey have just written to me," he said. "Somebody has paid some more money for outstanding bills and they are saying they have got more money coming in. If they do what they have to do, I'm happy."

However, he added: "We have got a contract on the table with France for a race at Magny-Cours. To meet the terms of our contract, the organizers will need money and we will want some kind of guarantee that it's not going to be a one-night stand. It was [originally] going to take place this year, actually."
Rumors of Red Bull split for Renault, Vettel  (GMM)  Inevitably, as the scale of Red Bull's early season crisis becomes ever clearer, rumors of possible splits are now beginning to emerge.

Many of the reigning world champions' problems are undoubtedly down to engine supplier Renault and the French marque's struggle with the new V6 'power unit' rules.

So it is no surprise Red Bull, having won every title on offer since 2010 and every grand prix on the trot since last July, is supposedly on the move.

But team boss Christian Horner on Thursday played down rumors of a switch to Honda, the incoming works supplier of turbo engines to McLaren next year. More ...

Martini to be Williams title sponsor (7th Update)  UPDATE #7 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.

03/03/14 Correction: The Williams Martini photo is a cropped Forza 5 game rendering, not the real thing.

Finally a photo of the Williams in Martini livery (left).

(GMM)  Martini, the famous Italian drinks brand, is Williams' new title sponsor.

The speculation entered the realm of fact this week when the website grandprix247.com spotted images of Martini-themed Williams team shirts at officially-licensed F1 merchandiser OnPole.

The images were subsequently removed.

But speculation of the scale of the Martini deal continues to tie in with Williams' pre-season activities so far, where the team has been running a plan blue livery in testing.

Williams says it will only launch its 2014 race livery in Australia. More ...

Hawksworth, not Filippi, to drive for Herta?  UPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.

Seems Bryan Herta's team is scrambling to get its program together for 2014.
Jack Hawksworth has taken to the track today at Sebring International Raceway in the #98 Bryan Herta Autosport machine. We've taken note that the Barracuda Racing moniker, which the team ran under in 2012 and 2013 seems to be a thing of the past. Bryan Herta Autosport, the name the team carried to victory with Dan Wheldon in the 2011 Indianapolis 500 adorns the team's website, Twitter page, etc.

Also, keep in mind, the #98 BHA entry finished 23rd in the entrant standings, which would have placed them outside the Leaders Circle for last season. Now, IndyCar has expanded the LC program in the past depending on a team's situation. Also, with Dragon Racing not returning, and the possibility that Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing may run only one car, it seems there will be room for BHA to obtain an LC entry, which gives teams around $1 million in support. And we imagine BHA will ultimately have an LC entry.

As for Hawksworth, we rate the 22-year old Englishman highly, although we believe he could use another year of Indy Lights. Still, one would have to assume that two days testing with BHA less than six weeks prior to the season, put the 2012 Pro Mazda Champion and three-time 2013 Indy Lights winner in pole position for the #98 BHA entry. If Hawksworth moves to IndyCar, he will join Carlos Munoz as the second 2013 Indy Lights graduate. Of course, 2013 Indy Lights champion Sage Karam appears destined for sports cars, with possibly a few IndyCar races sprinkled in. More ...

Servia to Rahal team (2nd Update)  UPDATE #2 So it appears AR1.com's original source was correct - partially - despite us getting a nasty email from someone on the team saying we were wrong.  Current plans call for Servia to compete in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis 500.

Servia, a native of Pals, Spain, has made 191 starts in CART, Champ Car and the IndyCar Series since his rookie season in 2000.  His Indy car highlights include one win (Montreal 2005) and one pole (Surfers Paradise, Australia 2005) as well as a total of 19 top-three, 51 top-five and 100 top-10 finishes.  He competed for the team in the 2009 Indianapolis 500 and was in ninth place halfway through the race when a mechanical failure led to his retirement in 26th place. More ...

F1 engine power for 2014  Yesterday, on ServusTV, Niki Lauda said the turbo engine power Mercedes 2014 was 580hp from the fuel engine. Helmut Marko said he would like to have as much power with the Renault engine.

Here is the 2014 estimated F1 engine power when you include the added power 160hp from the electric engine:

Total estimated power
Mercedes-Benz : 740hp
Ferrari : 720hp
Renault : 720hp

Ecclestone preparing to retire?  
Will 83-year old Ecclestone retire and spend time with his new squeeze, Fabiana Flosi?
In London, Roger Blitz reported Ecclestone is " preparing the ground for his eventual departure" from F1. In "a further sign of the pressure on him," Ecclestone "also expressed frustration" at remarks by a High Court judge in a $140M civil action, which "could have a bearing on the Munich trial." Ecclestone: “I’ve been spending time on this [civil] case and to spend time on Munich I am not able to give what I normally would do, 24/7, to the business.

I’ve been looking, over the last few years, for somebody who can join me to assist with what I have to do. I will eventually be in a position, if I decide to retire -- or unfortunately become dead -- to have someone to step into my shoes.”

Potential successors to Ecclestone "are in short supply." Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner, who is close to Ecclestone, "is being pushed in some quarters." Any successor "needs to have the blessing of F1’s most important team, Ferrari," and its powerful President Luca di Montezemolo. Financial Times

Protest to be lodged in Melbourne against 'illegal' Ferrari?  
Some think the new Ferrari violates the rules
As the Formula One fraternity gathers itself before the long haul flight to Melbourne, some within the paddock believe not all is as it should be with regards to engines.

Heading in to pre-season testing it was believed Mercedes had produced the strongest power unit, as engines are now known, with Ferrari the weakest. It was a conclusion drawn from early meetings of the Technical Working Group where Mercedes lobbied for more aggressive technical controls as the new engine formula was being ironed out, while Ferrari suggested more leeway might not be a bad thing. Sat quietly, and therefore somewhere in the middle, was Renault.

Following a difficult time during the three pre-season tests in Spain and Bahrain it seems it is the French power unit which faces the most questions heading in to the season, but there are others being asked quietly of Ferrari. More ...

Qualifying tweaks coming for F1  Word on the street is that F1 qualifying changes will be introduced this coming season in an effort to get all of the top-ten cars out on track during the Q3 session.

The tweaks, which were discussed and approved by F1's Strategy Group when it met on Friday, aim to prevent cars that qualify for Q3 from saving tires for the race.  Some drivers would opt to remain in their garages for Q3, saving rubber and also giving themselves a free choice of either compound.

Now, those cars will start the race on the tire they used in Q2. Furthermore, Q1 will be reduced from 20 to 18 minutes while Q3 will be lengthened from 10 minutes to 12, to give drivers more time to complete two timed runs.

The changes need to be approved by the FIA's World Motor Sport Council before being introduced in time for the season-opening Australian GP on March 16.

Will National Guard drop IndyCar sponsorship?  
NASCAR keeps their sponsors happy
A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, Conveniently Dale Earnhardt Jr. gave National Guard a big win in Daytona.  Most people think it was fixed but even if it was not, National Guard is happy.  So why should National Guard stay in IndyCar with all the in-fighting and backstabbing with teams stealing sponsors from each other all the time.  It is like a cesspool.  The latest lawsuit between Panther Racing and Rahal Letterman Lanigan over the National Guard sponsorship should be enough to send National Guard running for the door the first chance they get.

Before I go, I noticed that Alliance Truck Parts moved up to Sprint Cup this year for 8 races with Brad Keselowski.  Phoenix is the first of the 8 races.  Are you surprised Keselowski is miraculously on the pole?  Everything happens in NASCAR for a reason.  Everything. Regardless, they keep sponsors happy while IndyCar does their best to chase them away with lawsuits, infighting and TV ratings so low on NBC Sports Network an infomercial about basket weaving would do better.  But the Hulman George family is getting that big check from NBC and using the money as a welfare payment to the teams to help keep them afloat.  They call it the Leader Circle program, but it is no different than a welfare check from the US government.  All for now...... Mordichai Rosen, Los Angeles, CA
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