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A stumbling block for News Corp? One of the UK's leading competition lawyers says that a takeover of Formula One by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation would face "concerns" due to a conflict of interest.
Paul Stone, head of competition and regulation for leading law firm Charles Russell says that "News Corporation's involvement in the bid for Formula One could attract scrutiny from the competition regulators, given News Corporation's interest in Sky."
He adds that "one of the potential concerns that our sports and media group at Charles Russell has identified would be that News Corporation might be able to influence decisions over which broadcaster is awarded rights to show the races, in order to advantage Sky."
Montezemolo churns the F1 breakaway rumors again Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has stated that a breakaway championship could be possible in the near future, with 2013 being outlined as the main opportunity. The 63-year-old believes there is no obligation for the 12 teams involved in the sport to continue after 2012, the year when the agreement with current owners CVC and commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone runs out.
"I think we have to be very pragmatic," the Italian told CNN. "At the end of 2012, the contracts of every single team with CVC will expire. So, we have three alternatives. We renew with CVC, or we theoretically - as the basketball teams did in the U.S. with great success - we create our own company, like the NBA. Just to run the races, the TV rights and so.
No NASCAR drivers for $5M IndyCar Vegas prize When 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya was at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week for NASCAR testing, he gave a more thorough explanation for why he sees no way a Sprint Cup Series driver could participate in Randy Bernard's $5 million challenge in the season-ending Izod IndyCar Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The race is Oct. 16, the night after the Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Google estimates the distance at 2,200 miles. That's a flight of at least three hours.
"Of course I've given it thought; I'm a human being," Montoya said. "But you've got to understand that time-wise it's nearly impossible. We're running Saturday in Charlotte, which means no qualifying (for the Indy car).
(GMM) Mercedes is reportedly set to introduce a Renault-like approach to its 2011 car's exhaust layout for debut in Barcelona next weekend.
It was already rumored that the German team is perhaps now closer than any other to imitating Red Bull's flexible front wing.
"For Barcelona we have some aerodynamic developments that should bring us a step in performance," team boss Ross Brawn told Auto Motor und Sport.
AS newspaper said the main feature of Mercedes' Spanish upgrade is side-exiting exhausts, with Red Bull's Adrian Newey admitting recently that innovation has been the most impressive of the season so far.
Overheard in St. Petersburg - 3 (Lotus/Judd)UPDATE #2 AR1.com reported this below back in March during the St. Petersburg race, so this is really old news, but Autosport did get wind of it and report today that Lotus Motorsport boss Claudio Berro said Engine Developments was its first choice, and that the company has been working on the project since January. "We needed a partner and we are very happy with Judd," Berro said. "We didn't want to work with a big company like Cosworth, because everyone would call our engine a Cosworth and not a Lotus."
03/26/11 We spoke to Randy Bernard regarding how engine manufacturers will be married to teams next year and he told AR1.com that no decision has been made. "We have talked about a lot of different scenarios." He did reiterate that if you bring a manufacturer to the game (example Penske and Chevy) then you will get that manufacturer.
03/25/11 We spoke to Conor Daly who was 2nd quick in the first Indy Lights practice on Friday. His plan is to run five Indy Lights races and a full GP3 season. After that? He does not know as he needs sponsorship.......We spoke to a Lotus representative here in St. Pete and he confirmed our earlier rumor that Lotus has contracted with John Judd for their 2012 IndyCar engine. He claims Lotus is doing the design and using the design and manufacturing equipment at John Judd. He also told us another group in Lotus is working on their body kit. They hope to have their engine designed by September with testing to begin soon thereafter......As for Cosworth, we heard from yet another source that they are in talks with another car manufacturer who are considering an IndyCar engine for 2013.
And staying on the subject of engines, rumor has it that each manufacturer (Honda, Chevy and Lotus) will be allowed to pick one team, presumably a top team. After that the teams will be in charge as they will choose the engine manufacturer, with pick order based on their finish in the 2011 Indy 500. We hear the entire process must be done by November in order to have time for testing before the 2012 season.
Sebastien Bourdais has words with IndyCar official Kevin Blanch after session 2
No one was happier in the paddock Friday than Sebastien Bourdais' father. When Bourdais popped up 8th on the charts on his final lap his father leaped three feet in the air and ran to the fence holding up eight fingers and shouting something in French........Ran into Dan Partel in the paddock, who coincidently went to the same Rutgers University as I did. While in school in the mid-60s, Partel, originally from Hoboken, NJ, studied Agriculture, was captain of the Light football team and played Rugby. Although still trying to get the Delta Wing project off the ground, Partel is currently writing a book on his 25 years in racing. Mark C. reporting from St. Petersburg, Florida
Barrichello to leave Williams (GMM) Rubens Barrichello on Thursday sounded reluctant to sign up for a third season at Williams in 2012.
The famous British team has had its worst start to a new championship in its illustrious history, prompting technical director Sam Michael and chief aerodynamicist Jon Tomlinson to lose their posts for next year.
And Barrichello, the most experienced driver in F1 history, told the British magazine Autosport that he could be the next high profile departure.
IndyCar and ABC discuss more races on network TV This is a big month in more ways than one for the IndyCar Series. In addition to the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 later this month, there are several notable happenings regarding the open-wheel series. On Tuesday, the series unveiled two potential prototypes for its 2012 chassis—one for road and one for track. Response from fans varied from those who think it’s great to those who don’t think the new models represent enough change and innovation.
Also this month, IndyCar drivers will take their annual pilgrimage to New York City, where series executives hope they can use recent momentum to gain the attention of the Big Apple’s massive media contingency. But one of the most important happenings for the series’ long-term health is occurring behind closed doors. In recent weeks, series officials began negotiating a television contract extension with ABC, which airs the Indianapolis 500 and four other races.
Wickens waits as late sponsors threaten d'Ambrosio seatUPDATE
Jerome d'Ambrosio's stay in F1 may be short-lived
(GMM) F1 bosses John Booth and Eric Boullier have played down reports Jerome d'Ambrosio is set to lose his race seat at Virgin.
Boullier, Renault team principal and also in charge of Belgian d'Ambrosio's management outfit Gravity, said on Tuesday that Virgin is becoming "impatient" as the 25-year-old driver's sponsors refuse to pay up.
But in response to the subsequent reports, Virgin's British boss Booth told La Derniere Heure that d'Ambrosio is contracted through to the end of 2011.
"Since the beginning of the season Jerome has done a fantastic job and if his contract will be respected, there is no reason to replace him," he said.
Scott Speed likely a $5 million contestant Scott Speed is targeted as the first of the Izod IndyCar Series’ $5 million men, making him eligible to go for the big financial prize at the season-ending race Oct. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Speed, who is entered in this month’s Indianapolis 500 in a car owned by Dragon Racing, said he has been assured that he will be one of the five drivers selected later this summer. If one of those drivers wins the Las Vegas race, he’ll collect $5 million, although IndyCar officials haven’t decided how that will be paid.
“That’s what the rule stipulates,” Bernard said of the two-race maximum. Indy Star
Alonso - Briatore 'not Mourinho' as Ferrari rumors swirl
(GMM) Fernando Alonso would like to see Flavio Briatore back in formula one, but he denies his arrival at Ferrari "would be like Mou in Madrid".
The 'Mou' reference is to Jose Mourinho, the highly respected Portuguese football coach who arrived at Real Madrid last year and is regarded as one of the best managers in history.
In Turkey last weekend, rumors that Briatore - currently banned from formula one for the 'crashgate' scandal - could be heading to Ferrari were mentioned by Sky Italia.
"I would like Flavio to return, we miss him," Alonso told Spanish broadcaster TV3. "He is an unique character but it wouldn't be like Mou in Madrid", he added, possibly referring to Mourinho's latest controversies.
The main straight Istanbul grandstand had a lot of empty seats Sunday and some grandstands were completely empty
(GMM) Istanbul Park moved closer to reaching a deal for a 2012 Turkish grand prix following a meeting with Bernie Ecclestone.
Earlier, officials ruled out paying a doubled race sanctioning fee for a new contract, leaving the F1 chief executive Ecclestone saying in Turkey: "We don't want to leave here".
"Both sides are trying to solve this issue. Comparing before the race and the current situation, there is a 50 per cent difference," Turkey's automobile federation chairman Mumtaz Tahincioglu told local media after the meeting.
Why the FIA is probably going to ban blown floors in F1
Renault uses exhaust gas to increase underbody downforce
Just before the Chinese Grand Prix engine supplier Renault Sport F1 made something of a surprising announcement; to get the best out of front exiting exhausts and other blown floor concepts the cars use as much as 10% more fuel. To power a blown floor effectively and generate additional downforce, an engine must produce significant amounts of exhaust gas. Simply put, the more fuel burned, the more exhaust is produced and potentially more downforce.
It is startling that the French engine manufacturers would highlight this as it did in a press release as it is pretty much an open invite for the FIA to ban these exhaust layouts.
There are three main reasons for why they will like outlaw the concept, firstly the blown floors are very expensive to develop, requiring complex wind tunnel and CFD work, a lot of prototyping, and very trick composites. It not an easy task look how much McLaren struggles with its solution. F-Ducts were banned for less.
Vettel crash provides front wing flex clue - report (GMM) According to one F1 correspondent, Sebastian Vettel's slippery slide into the wall on Friday revealed a hidden secret of his dominant Red Bull car.
The team's rivals are yet to uncover the mystery of how the RB7 passes the ever-stricter flexibility tests whilst the front wing still so obviously bends towards the track.
It is believed teams including Ferrari and Mercedes are getting closer to the mystery, but the damage to Vettel's wing incurred by his Istanbul practice crash might have provided yet another clue.
El Pais correspondent Oriol Puigdemont wrote from Turkey that unidentified wires or cables were seen dangling from the upright supports after the main element of the front wing broke off following Vettel's crash.
Cosworth owners Kevin Kalkhoven (above) and Gerald Forsythe have built Cosworth's non-racing business to be much greater than its racing business. But to compete and win in F1 against the likes of Renault, Mercedes and Ferrari, more cash is needed for R&D.
(GMM) Formula one engine supplier Cosworth is reportedly considering a stock market floatation.
The Sunday Times reported that the independent Northampton-based outfit has appointed UK investment bank JPMorgan Cazenove to consider the initial public offering.
Without naming the source of the information, the newspaper said the floatation could value Cosworth - supplying engines in formula one to Williams, HRT and Virgin - at more than $400 million.
Ford sold Cosworth to US investors Gerald Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven in 2004.
Daniel Ricciardo is well on course to claim a seat at Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2012, with Team Principal Franz Tost eager for the young Australian to make it onto the grid after an impressive early motorsport career. Sébastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari are currently contracted to the Italian squad for the rest of the year, but Ricciardo has been putting pressure on the duo with his recent Friday outings.
"He should learn the team, all the race tracks, to work together with the engineers, get a little bit of knowledge about the press work, about the marketing and this should be the preparation for him to race for Toro Rosso in 2012." Tost explained to reporters at Istanbul Park.
The Trins-born man was then asked about the possibility of Ricciardo replacing either Buemi or Alguersuari at some point during the 2011 campaign, replying: "No, currently not."
Oklahoma City eyes ALMS raceUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today - See related press release.
05/06/11 The American Le Mans Series has agreed to hold a date in May 2013 while organizers in Oklahoma City work out arrangements for the race.
OKC Motorsports president Mike McAuliffe said Thursday his group must still work with state and local officials for funding of the race and road improvements needed to host the event near the zoo and Remington Park horse racing track.
ALMS has agreed to hold Grand Prix racing in Oklahoma City on the third weekend in May from 2013 to 2015 if the details get worked out.
Another group's bid to bring an ALMS race to Oklahoma City fell apart last year when the City Council rejected a request for $7 million in funding.
Red Bull Racing: Drivers and Chevy or Toyota for 2012 Red Bull Racing team manager, Jay Frye, says he's comfortable letting things play out elsewhere in the NASCAR garage over the next month or so before he needs to start pushing on the 2012 lineup. #4-Kasey Kahne is on only a one-year contract and moving to Rick Hendrick at the end of the year. That's one seat Frye needs to fill. #83-Brian Vickers is the final year of his contract, is just eight races into his comeback, after sitting out most of 2010 recovering from blood clots. Mark Martin could be the wild card. He's quite happy with Hendrick, though Martin says he has no specific plans for 2012, when he's to turn his Cup team over to Kahne. But Martin and Frye have worked together before and have a good comfort level; Frye, who is bringing along 20-year-old newcomer Cole Whitt (a part-time Nationwide schedule this season), might like Martin as mentor and part-time driver (as Martin did for Frye when they ran Bobby Ginn's team in 2007)&though Red Bull itself might prefer a different marketing demographic than Martin, at 52, might provide.
Foyt to replace Trump in Indy Pace CarUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner AJ Foyt will drive the pace car at this year's centenary race after original nomination Donald Trump stepped down.
The businessman, who had been a controversial choice for the role, pulled out yesterday to focus on his possibility presidential bid, and Indianapolis moved quickly to bring 1961, 1964, 1967 and 1977 race winner Foyt in instead.
"Since I won my first Indy 500 50 years ago, I had hoped to still be racing in it, but driving the Pace Car is the next best thing!" Foyt said. "Seriously, racing has always been very important in my life - it's been my life - and the Indianapolis 500 is the most important race in the world. I lived for that race.
"When I got hurt in race cars, I always made it back for Indy because it is that important. That's where people know me from - Indy.
"So being asked by my good friend Mari George to drive the Chevy Pace Car for the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500 - well, I couldn't have a bigger honor come from the Speedway and the Hulman-George family."
Dragon Racing will field NASCAR and Formula One veteran Scott Speed in the Indianapolis 500 and also in the Izod IndyCar Series finale at Las Vegas.
Speed would be eligible to compete for a $5 million bonus posted by IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard for any driver for another series who wins the race. As a teammate to Ho Pin Tung, Speed would be sponsored by Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka, American Racing Wheels and Vizio in his attempt to make the Indy 500 for Dragon.
If he makes the field of the centennial running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, it would mark the IndyCar debut for Speed.
"It's an honor to be able to partner with Jay Penske, Dragon Racing, and a Hoosier legend like Fuzzy Zoeller for this year's Indy 500 and my debut in the IndyCar Series," said Speed, who ran the past two Sprint Cup seasons with Red Bull Racing. "Having the ability to compete in the Indy 500 is a dream for any racing driver, and I am proud to be partnered with Jay Penske in our attempt to drink the milk and win the biggest race in the world." USA Today
News Corp and their Formula One bid partner Exor will need to find £7bn if they are to buy F1, former team owner Eddie Jordan has claimed.
Speaking on Jeff Randall Live, Mr. Jordan said the sport had grown beyond his wildest dreams in Asia, and that it would command a hefty price if it is sold, as expected, some time in the next 12 months.
The approach from News Corp and the Italian investment firm Exor is "friendly" and at a "very preliminary stage" according to F1 owners CVC, who have not officially put the sport up for sale.
Sky's Mark Kleinman revealed that despite this, the approach is to be considered by Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bull Racing in secret talks later this month.
Earnhardt Jr. steals Martin's engineerUPDATE Although his skill as a driver is questionable, there is not a doubt that NASCAR Sprint Cup’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the most popular race car driver in North America. And the bosses that run NASCAR have made no secret of the fact that a win by Earnhardt in any of its 36 points races would cure any ails the series might have (only in American motorsports are the best athletes not the main stars).
NASCAR boss of bosses Brian France repeated that mantra on Monday in an appearance on ESPN’s NASCAR Now program.
“He’s the biggest franchise in NASCAR,” France said. “It would be great if he continues to figure out the chemistry of the team.
“He’s done that, and I think his confidence is finally back to where it was a few years ago. He went through a pretty good slump, so it’s nice to see him competing at a high level.”
05/01/11 [Editor's Note: NASCAR is desperate to get Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning races so Hendrick Motorsports is giving the 2nd generation driver the best people from the entire team to try to get the team's worse driver to win] That change in engineering on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s team that Earnhardt talked about a little last week but wouldn't go into details? He got Mark Martin's engineer. Rumor has it that Chris Heroy, moves to join Dale Jr.'s team to be the race engineer there. He replaces Tom Stewart, who moves into a position where he'll work with both the 88 and the 5 team. hamptonroads.com
Overheard at Long Beach - SundayUPDATE #3 As an add-on to a story we originally broke here on AR1.com in Long Beach - There will be three new engines powering the 2012 IZOD INDYCAR series but everybody might be driving the same-looking car. SPEEDTV.com reports that the car owners are against introducing the bodywork kits until 2013.
“The owners voted Saturday in Brazil that they didn’t want to do the new bodywork kits next year,’’ said INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard. “INDYCAR’s position is that we want it for our fans and our manufacturers but I guess we can’t make the owners do it.
“I respect the fact they have to spend a lot of money for new cars and engines and we are here for the long term. But I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.’’
Bernard was asked about the reaction from Honda, General Motors and Lotus (John Judd) – the three engine manufacturers.
“I haven’t spoken with Lotus yet but Honda and GM said they would do whatever is needed,’’ he replied. “It will be a significant savings for them next year.’’ Speedtv.com
Vairano test shows Ferrari back on track (GMM) Ferrari is reportedly on the road to recovery after getting to the bottom of a wind tunnel problem that has affected development of the 2011 car.
It had been reported that a calibration problem with the team's Maranello tunnel had forced engineers to turn to Toyota's state-of-the-art facility in Cologne with a view to recovering before the world championship is lost.
Felipe Massa drove the 150 Italia car for a filming day at Fiorano last week, but the 2011 model was also being tested on the long straight at Vairano.
Ecclestone has November date in mind for BahrainUPDATE #2 This ESPN columnist essentially says the FIA should go and pound some of their sand for this year and see how the regime conducts itself between now and then.
05/02/11 The FIA on Monday gave the Bahrain government an extra month to secure a place for its Grand Prix on the 2011 Formula One calendar.
The original deadline of May 1 passed on Sunday, a day after the government issued a statement emphasizing its desire to hold the race this year. It's thought that Bahrain GP representatives and FIA president Jean Todt will meet in Turkey during this weekend's F1 race there.
An FIA statement said, "The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile has granted the Bahrain Motor Federation and the Bahrain International Circuit an extension until June 3rd, date of the FIA World Motor Sport Council [meeting] in Barcelona. This decision was taken after consultation with the relevant Bahraini authorities and Formula One Management, the international promoter."
In an effort to "boost its television rights revenue, the Izod IndyCar Series is considering adding races to its 2012 schedule that would expand and sweeten the five-race package now held by ABC," according to Tripp Mickle of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL.
The rights agreement for ABC’s package, which includes the Indianapolis 500, is "set to expire this year." ABC "pays $6 million annually for the rights to the Indianapolis 500 and four other races: St. Petersburg, Kansas, Watkins Glen and Toronto." It has held the rights to the Indianapolis 500 for 46 consecutive years. IndyCar has hired IMG and Barry Frank to "represent it in its TV rights negotiations," and ABC has a "90-day exclusive negotiating window that runs from April through the end of June." IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard said, "ABC has been a great partner, but I also know there’s significant interest from other networks"
Ecclestone has not told the FIA to grant Bahrain an extension yet
This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation' today. The FIA is sticking to its May 1 deadline for the possible rescheduling of Bahrain's 2011 grand prix.
With the date fast approaching amid reported continuing problems inside the island Kingdom, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone on Thursday indicated he is now willing to wait for Bahrain until "early June".
"We need to wait a little bit to see exactly how progress is made," he is quoted as saying by the Mirror.
Daily Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary said Ecclestone's new position caught the FIA "off guard".
Another senior Williams man's future in doubt (GMM) The future of another senior member of Williams' technical team is reportedly in doubt.
On the back of a near unprecedentedly bad start to the famous British team's 2011 season, it emerged that chairman Adam Parr is heading a radical restructuring that could result in technical director Sam Michael losing his job.
And Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that other personnel changes could be implemented, possibly as soon as next weekend's Turkish grand prix.
The report said Williams' 38-year-old chief aerodynamicist Jon Tomlinson could be set to leave the Oxfordshire based team.
Did IndyCar Break Up Motley Crue? On February 14, 1992, Tommy Lee, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx issued a press release ousting Vince Neil from Motley Crue contending that:
"Race car driving has become a priority in Neil's life, and he's dedicated much of his time and energy to it. The Crue's relationship to Vince began to deteriorate because his band-mates felt that he didn't share their determination and passion for music."
The race car driving that the band was referring to--and the alleged cause of Motley Crue's infamous break-up--was Neil's participating in the IndyCar Lights Series. This, and Neil's standing offer to kick the shit out of Axel Rose at The Staples Center for all to see, is just one of the new Motley Crue factoids I learned while reading Neil's autobiography Tattoos & Tequila.
Rumor has it that Jean Alesi is going to enter the Indy 500 in a Lotus next year. Supposedly he is going to attend this year as a guest of KV Racing at the 500 and is going to start a training program in preparation for next year.
Alesi (born Giovanni Alesi; June 11, 1964) is an Italian but has a French citizenship. Alesi was born to Sicilian parents in Avignon, Vaucluse. His Formula One career included spells at Tyrrell, Benetton, Sauber, Prost, Jordan and most notably Ferrari where he proved very popular among the tifosi.
04/27/11 Supposedly a crew chief swap has been discussed and is imminent between the #11 and #20 Joe Gibbs Racing teams. The swap would send #11-Denny Hamlin's crew chief Mike Ford to #20-Joey Logano with Logano's crew chief Greg Zipadelli to the #11 garage.
2011 has been a dismal year for Hamlin having scored just one top-10 finish through the first eight-races of the season. Logano is 66-points out of a playoff spot in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup. Expect to see the change within the next few weeks if not sooner. Captain Thunder
Mitsubishi Motors interested in F1 race for electric vehicles Mitsubishi Motors Corp President Osamu Masuko said Wednesday that the automaker is ‘‘very interested’’ in participating in a championship race for electric vehicles, which is being considered by the governing body of Formula One. ‘‘We are very interested. Our employees are saying that we should definitely do it,’’ Masuko told Japanese media.
‘‘The development costs for electric vehicles seem much lower than for gasoline cars and it would also contribute to the technological development of cars that are already on the market,’’ he added.
The Ford GT is set to make another return – this time as GT40 again, but the 40 in deference to it’s miserly fuel consumption rather than it’s height.
There have been several fuel sipping supercars launched of late – BMW’s Vision ED, Porsche’s 918RS and Jaguar’s C-X75 among them, not to mention Audi’s e-Tron, the electric Mercedes SLS and a swathe of zero-emissions flyers. And now it seems Ford is getting on that low emissions supercar bandwagon too.
Ford is busy honing its most advanced available technology into the next GT40 – likely to recall the name in recognition of it being a car capable of not only conquering Le Mans but also being able to return 40 miles per gallon – or 5.9 liters per 100 kilometers. That means a supercar capable of emitting just 140 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer while likely chalking up sub-4 second 0-100km/h acceleration and 320km/h-plus top speed.
Former commentator and broadcaster Murray Walker has been highly impressed by rookie Paul di Resta over the first three races of 2011 and now predicts a Mercedes Grand Prix drive for the Scot.
25-year-old Di Resta, who hails from Uphall in West Lothian, made the full-time switch to Formula 1 this year after racing to the DTM title with Mercedes-Benz in 2010.
“Paul di Resta has to be my number one of the newcomers, indeed I think everybody’s number one of the newcomers, because he’s done brilliantly with Force India,” Walker said in a video feature on the BBC Sport website.
“Points in both of his first two races, he finished 11th and just out of the points in China and he’s beaten his very quick team-mate Adrian Sutil.
(GMM) One of Ferrari's key problems is a lack of imagination, according to a specialist Italian magazine.
The new 150 Italia car fell in line behind Red Bull and McLaren in the early races of 2011, and it threatens also to be outclassed by Mercedes and Renault.
The problem has been identified as aerodynamic in nature, with rumors suggesting development of the car will be moved to the Toyota wind tunnel in Cologne as a recalibration of the Maranello facility is undertaken.
But even before Ferrari's current problems became clear, some commentators had observed that while the other top teams had obviously pushed the envelope for 2011, the Italian-made single seater appeared too conservative.
Ford profit expected to riseUPDATE Motor Co. this morning announced its best first quarter earnings since 1998: $2.6 billion, or 61 cents per share.
The results, an increase of $466 million over the first quarter of 2010, far exceeded analysts' expectations of about 50 cents per share and reflect how well Ford's fuel-efficient vehicles and profitable full-size pickups continue to resonate with consumers who are paying, on average, higher prices than a year ago.
The increase is due in part to lower incentives, and because buyers are choosing more expensive trim levels and options, such as heated seats in a subcompact Ford Fiesta, said Chief Executive Alan Mulally.
American Alexander Rossi leads Canadian Robert Wickens in Spain. These two very talented youngsters will likely be the next American and Canadian in F1.
(GMM) A Canadian is at the front of the queue to become the next reserve driver for the Virgin team.
The role is vacant at present following Sakon Yamamoto's contract that covered only the first three grands prix of 2011.
The Toronto based Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail said Robert Wickens, 22, is linked with the role given his new backing in the Formula Renault 3.5 series by Virgin's Russian sponsor and shareholder Marussia.
In the series, he uses a car and overalls colored in the exact designs of the formula one team.
Ecclestone alleges extortion in bribery sagaUPDATE
Ecclestone: Yeah he ripped me off
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone is reportedly no longer denying he paid millions to jailed German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky.
The German weekly newsmagazine Focus claims the F1 chief executive, accused by Munich prosecutors of aiding and abetting a breach of trust, has alleged Gribkowsky blackmailed him to the tune of $40 million as he oversaw the sale of the sport to current owner CVC.
The report said Ecclestone made the accusation of extortion, which if proved could result in the return of the payment to the 80-year-old, in the form of official testimony.
(GMM) F1's governing body is considering banning the 'DRS' moveable wing systems for Monaco.
Italy's Autosprint magazine said the reason for the ban would be the danger of the system's deployment on the famously tight and twisty street layout.
Moreover, DRS would probably be of limited benefit in the Principality, given the lack of a proper straight.
Autosprint said the main fear regarding DRS and Monaco is the free usage of the system in practice and qualifying, and the fact that the curving high-speed tunnel is the most logical place for deployment of the system in the race.
Zanardi to attend Indy? Jimmy Vasser invited his former CART title-winning teammate, Alex Zanardi, to the 500. Vasser said he expects Zanardi, who lives in Italy, to come for pole day May 21. Zanardi never drove in the 500. Indy Star
HRT to establish British office (GMM) Hispania is set to establish a British office, according to internet reports in Spain.
It emerged recently that the Spanish team, whose official home is Murcia while the bulk of the crew hails from Colin Kolles' German operation, has concluded a deal to rent a wind tunnel at Mercedes' Brackley headquarters.
Ross Brawn explained that Mercedes GP can only use one of its two tunnels - the newer one - due to the FOTA financial constraints.
NBC and Comcast must have some big plans for VersusUPDATE #2 For more on this topic see today's article by Mark Cipolloni on our Home page.
04/19/11 NBC's Dick Ebersol said the Versus name will be changed within 90 days to better reflect its association with NBC. The most attractive part of the deal from the NBC side is the exclusive nature it provides for IndyCar.
04/19/11 NBC and Versus have signed a 10-year, $2B deal to renew the NHL's TV rights. Fox took a preliminary look at the package but never made a bid, and Turner pulled out of the bidding last week, saying it could not find a business model to support the money NBC and Versus are paying the NHL.
So why would they pay the NHL $200 million per year (up significantly from $75 million per year) even though the NHL TV ratings on Versus are almost all below 1.0, and most below 0.5?
There are rumors that Versus will become the NBC Sports Channel, and if that happens maybe NBC will be able to convince cable and satellite providers that the NBC Sports Channel should be in as many homes as ESPN.
This of course would be good for IndyCar. Locked into a 10-year deal on Versus, IndyCar cannot grow with ratings below 1.0. AutoRacing1.com recommends that IndyCar take the Indy 500 to NBC (The 500 contract with ABC is up after 2012) and do a deal to put all IndyCar races on NBC network TV. That is the only real way to grow the series. ESPN-like ratings on a cable channel called NBC Sports channel (or whatever they call it) will make it difficult to get anything much above 1.0 ratings. The NBC Sports Channel can be used for qualifying shows, and race re-runs, and other ancillary programming.
Ferrari Should Be Valued at $7.3 Billion in IPO Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said he’s told bankers pushing him to pursue an initial public offering of Ferrari that the division may be worth more than 5 billion euros ($7.3 billion). “I’ve always viewed Ferrari as a sacred brand, and sacred brands are peculiar,” Marchionne said in an interview at Fiat’s headquarters in Turin, Italy. “I know I can float Ferrari any time, but there’s nothing on my desk.”
Ferrari, which will next month start delivering its first family car, the $359,000 four-seat FF, is Fiat’s most profitable unit. The sports-car maker’s earnings before interest and taxes rose 23 percent last year to 302 million euros on revenue of 1.92 billion euros.
Parr: 2013 engines vital to F1 future Williams chairman Adam Parr believes the introduction of new engine regulations in 2013 is vital to keep the sport relevant and encourage investment in teams.
Last December the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) agreed that the current V8 engines will be replaced by four-cylinder turbo units in two years' time. Since then, however, Bernie Ecclestone has criticized the changes, which he believes "are going to be terribly costly to the sport". His concern is that the muted sound of the new engines, which will be running on half the cylinders and peaking at 6,000rpm less than the current V8s, will attract smaller audiences at both the circuit and via TV.
And Ecclestone is not alone, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo believes the cut in engine size goes too far. "A four-cylinder Ferrari seems absurd to me," he said. "We've not even built a ten-cylinder Ferrari and I'm still thinking that a six-cylinder would have been more in line with the Formula One positioning on the market."
But Parr believes such arguments are fuelled by individual interests rather than the overall good of the sport.
"Formula One is ultimately defined by its technology and Formula One's constant reinvention of itself, whether it's on the chassis side or the engine side, is fundamental to the nature of the sport," he told Reuters. "The people who don't want things to change are the people who for whatever reason feel they have an incumbent advantage by not changing things. The problem with that is the sport will lose its interest very quickly if people think that it is standing still."
Parr believes F1 engines have to remain at the cutting edge of technology in order to keep sponsorship money rolling in.
"Why do we need a new engine? Well, we've got this V8 which essentially in one shape or another...has been going for years. The technology is dated, it's not what's going on out in the real world and I think it's a major, major barrier to bringing in new partners and growing the sport.
"It will have one fan generating electricity to super-charge the engine, another fan to recover energy from the exhausts which will recharge a battery and then be usable. You are going to have a powertrain generating well over 800bhp from four cylinders. I think it's going to sound fantastic. It's going to run on pure electric in the pitlane."
According to Reuters, Mercedes and Renault, who supply half the grid's engines between them, are both in support of the switch. ESPN F1
Heads to roll at Ferrari and Mercedes The design personnel at Ferrari and Mercedes will be looking nervously over their shoulders in the next few weeks following their teams' poor start to the season, according to a report.
F1 journalist Joe Saward claims in his latest blog that both teams could be making changes in the design departments before they start work on their 2012 cars.
Ferrari's engineers are under pressure to come up with solutions after the team struggled to keep up with Red Bull and McLaren in the first three races of the season.
Politics threaten F1 race at Nurburgring (GMM) A political alliance in Germany is reportedly endangering the future of the formula one race at the Nurburgring. Elections in the western Rhineland-Palatinate state were recently held and the ruling SPD party lost its absolute majority. The green party, meanwhile, tripled its vote meaning that a ruling coalition has been formed, and according to DPA news agency this endangers state funding for the Nurburgring's F1 contract.
"I have nothing against car racing in the Eifel," said the green (Grunen) state party chief Daniel Kobler. I just have a problem if tax money is needed to ensure that more millions and billions are reaped in profits (by F1)," he added. "In the negotiations with the SPD, we will work to permanently remove the subsidies for the 'Ring in the foreseeable future," said Kobler.
Reports say Sam Michael could get the axeUPDATE #2
Sam Michael could get the axe
(GMM) Sam Michael has admitted he could lose his job as Williams restructures following the famous British team's worst start to a season since 1979.
In China last weekend for the third round of the 2011 championship, the Oxfordshire based team's chairman Adam Parr refused to deny speculation Williams' Australian technical director Michael, 39, faces the axe.
"If Sam thought that the right thing for the team is for him to stop, he'd stop tomorrow. He will do whatever is necessary for the team," he said.
thenational.ae quotes Michael as admitting that Williams' current situation is not tenable.
Stick a fork in Chinese GP After seeing the massive empty seats during Sunday's running of the Chinese GP F1 race in Shanghai one can only wonder how long before that race is gone from the calendar. With no Chinese driver in the field the Chinese have near zero interest in F1.
CVC chief to be questioned in bribery probe - report (GMM) Munich prosecutors are preparing to delve deeper into formula one's top management as the $50 million bribery affair is investigated.
F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone travelled to Munich earlier this month to be questioned and he skipped the Chinese grand prix at the weekend, amid suspicions he was involved in paying the kickback to a jailed German banker.
The affair surrounds the sale of the commercial rights some years ago to CVC, so the latest information is that CVC managing partner Donald Mackenzie is next in line to be interviewed.
This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Roush Fenway Racing announced today that both 3M and Greg Biffle have renewed their contracts for three more years. The new contracts will take 3M, Biffle and Roush Fenway Racing through the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. 3M has been a Roush Fenway partner since 2005 and Biffle began his NASCAR career with the team in 1998. Terms of the contracts were not disclosed.
“I am thrilled with the prospect of continuing the relationship we have with 3M and what that, paired with the talent of Greg Biffle, means for the success of the No. 16 team at Roush Fenway Racing,” said team owner Jack Roush. “Our endeavors with 3M have been successful both on and off the track and will ideally culminate with a championship season for Greg and 3M in the near future.”
Ford might be forced to offer incentives Ford, after increasing its share of the U.S. light-vehicle market for the last two years, is falling short of its retail goal this year, which may put pressure on the automaker to offer larger discounts - the very practice that bankrupted the American automotive industry in the first place.
In the first quarter, Ford had 13.6% of the U.S. retail auto market, which excludes sales to fleet buyers, according to researcher Edmunds.com. That trailed the 14.1% target Ford's board set for executives to match or exceed this year, according to the automaker's government filings.
Overheard at Long Beach - Saturday Another beautiful day in Long Beach, California - they always are. Ran into Kenny Brack who has two kids now and is working with the IndyCar driver development program. He is not doing much races these days, except for a few rally races.......The reason why Paul Tracy never returned to action Friday in afternoon practice after damaging his front wing is because the safety crew pulled his car behind the wall and had no way of getting back onto pit road to do the necessary repairs.....Speaking of Tracy we hear he has sold his house in Las Vegas and is moving to Scottsdale, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix.......We learned that Kroger Supermarkets owns Ralph's Supermarkets, sponsor on Tracy's car for the five races. Rumor has it that Kroger might consider sponsoring Tracy in more races.......Both Newman/Haas cars look like a real team now. Hinchcliffe had to run Servia's backup car today after the fire in Hinchcliffe's car Friday. The car was painted the same Blue as Servia's Telemundo car, but with Hinchcliffe's Sprott sponsorship decal on it.......Rumor has it that NOV.us will soon be announced as an associate sponsor on Oriol Servia's car, but maybe not until Indy. NOV.us (pronounced Novus) is run by a bunch of ex-Dell Computer guys. As we reported previously, Telemundo has a weekly TV show with Oriol Servia and one of those shows draws more viewers than all of the IndyCar Versus race broadcasts combined......While on the subject of TV, we hear the IndyCar broadcasts in Brazil are now just highlight shows.
McLaren to spend $175M on Button and Hamilton McLaren are reportedly preparing to make offers to Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton worth a combined total of $175M in order to retain their current driver line-up until at least 2017.
According to The London Times, McLaren view the pair as a 'dream team' combination and are set to offer Button a five-year extension to his current deal, which expires at the end of 2012, and remain committed to keeping Hamilton 'for the foreseeable future'.
Whilst the financial outlay required to keep both Hamilton and Button is vast, McLaren calculate that the pair provide good value for their big money - and not just in terms of race wins.
'The pair are also a marketing man's dream team, crucial to McLaren, with more than 30 sponsors paying out on deals running into tens of millions of pounds, who love the handsome, articulate and glamorous drivers', the newspaper reports.
Rain to hit Talladega? Not atypical - the Weather Channel is calling for severe weather to pass through Talladega, most likely tonight, but rain could hit all day. The forecast is currently calling for a 40% chance of rain through 2 pm/et. During the afternoon the chance increases to 60% and thunderstorms start to develop. Tonight there is a possibility of strong winds, hail and tornados. The forecast for the rest of the weekend looks good.
IndyCar to return to Phoenix? IndyCar has raced at nine tracks owned by International Speedway Corp. over the years: California, Chicagoland, Homestead, Kansas, Michigan, Nazareth, Phoenix, Richmond and Watkins Glen. None are on this year's schedule.
In a bid to increase the number of ovals the series visits in 2012, Bernard has been pushing ISC officials for a return to Phoenix. There has been casual discussion about returning to other ISC tracks, too.
But Bernard made his strongest statement on the ISC subject last weekend at Barber when he told a blogger that from his perspective, it's Phoenix or nothing.
"If Phoenix isn't in the mix, I don't know if I'm interested in ISC tracks," he said on George Phillips' website, oilpressure.com. Indy Star
Mayfield is out to prove Brian France had a personal vendetta against him and was out to destroy him
Thanks to the Daly Planet, I was linked an interview conducted by Captain Thunder, and his guest was none other than Jeremy Mayfield. Now, I understand many fans just want this soap opera to end. They want Mayfield to just go away. For me, it is the just the contrary. I am interested in this storyline, and I honestly believe that there so much more to this story that will be revealed in due time. Mayfield let us in on some of it in his candid interview.
Some of his most interesting comments were:
"And from a very reliable source, who is in direct contact with Brian France has told me several times and not just several times, but a lot of times, that he (France) has had a problem with me from day one. I'm from the South, and he is trying to take all of the Southern out of NASCAR, the Southeast out, just like he got rid of the racetracks and everything else, and I'm just part of that. And he didn't like what I did with Ray (Evernham) either."
If you recall, Mayfield questioned Evernham's priorities as an owner [and blew the lid on Evernham’s affair with driver Erin Crocker.]
Ferrari is working very hard on the replacement for its awesome 599 GTB. The new car is slated to come out sometime in 2012, so soon we can expect to start seeing spy pictures.
There is a very good chance that the new car will be the most powerful road car ever to have been built in Maranello. “If you look at where we went from the F430 to the 458, and from the 612 Scaglietti to the FF, it is not hard to see where we want the next 599 to be,” said one insider close to the project. “We are not looking for a small step.”
Paul Tracy at the age of 13 getting a handshake and wearing his Pepsi shirt
1983 Letter from Pepsi agreeing to be Paul Tracy's first sponsor in racing for $1,000
Below is the livery Paul Tracy will be running featuring Ralphs Supermarkets as his primary sponsor.
To the right is a letter and photo from 1983. It's the 28th year reunion of Pepsi and Paul Tracy as they have come on with Ralphs Grocery on the Dragon IndyCar.
Pepsi was in fact the 1st sponsor to invest ($1,000) in a young Paul Tracy as the age of 13 years old…..and returns to help him capture a 5th GPLB title this weekend.
04/12/11 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with this news item.
04/12/11 Rumor has it that the popular California Supermarket chain Ralphs will be the primary sponsor for Paul Tracy at Long Beach with Rockstar Energy Drink an associate sponsor. Tracy will be driving the No. 8 Dragon Dallara Honda car for at least five road/street races this year. We expect a formal announcement from the team any day now.
How Raikkonen got to NASCAR, and why Waltrip team could be nextUPDATE #2
Kimi Raikkonen buying his way into the lowest form of motorsports in America - the NASCAR Truck Series. There must be more to the story
Former Formula One star Kimi Raikkonen might start his NASCAR career in the Truck Series with Kyle Busch Motorsports, but the bigger question in the NASCAR garage is where he will eventually end up.
Kyle Busch Motorsports isn’t likely to go Sprint Cup racing, and as a former Formula One champion, Raikkonen probably isn’t interested in toying in the development leagues for long, even though he probably should.
While it would make sense that he could transition from KBM to the team Busch drives for in Cup – Joe Gibbs Racing – that might not be the best possibility.
Ferrari eyes 'plan B' after Shanghai deadline (GMM) The outcome of Sunday's Chinese grand prix will determine whether Ferrari stays the course or reverts to 'plan B' for the development of its 2011 car.
That is the claim of Italian newspapers including La Stampa and La Repubblica, as bosses Stefano Domenicali, Aldo Costa and Pat Fry returned to Maranello this week rather than remain in the East ahead of the Shanghai round.
"We are analyzing everything to find out why things have not worked as expected at this stage of development," said team boss Domenicali.
Will Factory teams flock to Grand-Am? With no live broadcast TV for the ALMS it seems many of the factory European car companies have decided to take a hard look at Grand-Am.
GRAND-AM Managing Director of Competition, Mark Raffauf, confirmed to SPEED.com that the series has been in negotiations with Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lotus about adapting their GT3 and GT4-spec machinery to compete in the Rolex Sports Car Series’ GT category.
These latest developments are on the heels of Ferrari’s announcement in January that it will build a GT-specific version of its new F458 Italia GT3-spec machine for GRAND-AM competition.
Exodus from Formula One to NASCAR likely isn't over So, who's next? Now that former Formula One champ Kimi Raikkonen has tested with Kyle Busch's truck team and is set to compete in the truck race at Charlotte next month, who's the next driver from Formula One to follow Juan Pablo Montoya and others to NASCAR?
"People are watching,'' Montoya says when asked if those in Formula One pay attention to NASCAR.
"Over the last few years, when I came over, people started paying attention to how I ran, and I think a lot of people got hooked on it. I still receive emails from people in Formula One.''
500 winner Trevor Bayne to miss All-Star race?UPDATE #2 Wood Brothers Racing is expected to add two more races to Trevor Bayne 's schedule, including the May 21 Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The team is completing a deal for additional sponsorship that would push the rookie's schedule in the Sprint Cup Series to 18 regular season races and the All-Star event. The announcement could come as soon as this week. The additional sponsorship also includes the April 17 race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne may miss the All-Star race for lack of money
04/01/11 Trevor Bayne likely will be in the Sprint All-Star Race next month as a sponsor deal has gained steam over the last two days, Wood Brothers Racing co-owner Len Wood said Friday. Wood said the deal is not done but it’s close for the team to be able to run the all-star event May 21 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The 20-year-old Bayne qualified for the all-star race with his upset victory in the season-opening Daytona 500.
“We’re working on something for the all-star [race], which is more than what we’ve talked about before,” Wood said Friday at Martinsville Speedway. “I think we’ve got somebody [as a sponsor]. … I think we’ve got something that popped up in the last 36 hours for the all-star race.”
“The all-star race is important,” Wood said. “But if you had to pick and choose, if it paid points, it would be more important to the end goal.”
Even NASCAR's best truck team a money loser It’s Kyle Busch’s goal to take Kyle Busch Motorsports up to the Nationwide level, possibly as early as next season.
“I’ve told everybody here that KBM would like to go to Nationwide,” Busch said Thursday at Texas Motor Speedway. “We’d like to have a full-time Nationwide team next year and work toward that.” Busch started KBM last season as a single-truck operation in the Camping World Truck Series. He’s made no secret about the organization being a losing venture financially. On the track, however, it’s been a different story, thanks mostly to Busch himself. In its first year of operation, KBM won eight races (all by Busch) and collected the series’ owner’s championship.
KBM already has won two of the four races in the CWTS this season and made headlines recently by signing former Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen to drive a handful of races.
IndyCar officials may tweak double-file restart format
Will IndyCar drivers show more talent in Alabama than they showed two weeks ago in St. Pete with Andretti on his head?
Marco Andretti figures it's just a matter of time before there's another big wreck.
Andretti was in the middle of the first big wreck of the IZOD IndyCar Series two weeks ago in St. Petersburg. With the field lined up double file at the start and going hard into Turn 1, Andretti ended up upside down before he even got started.
And he'd like to see the series make some changes to the double-file restarts it began this year to avoid a repeat of St. Pete.
"Last race it was Helio (Castroneves) and I," Andretti said Thursday of his wreck. "This week it'll be somebody else."
Lapo Elkann to take over from Luca di MontezemoloUPDATE The Elkann brothers are moving in, ladies and gentlemen. First, Luca di Montezemolo handed over the chairmanship of the Fiat group to John Elkann. Now, reports from Italy are indicating that the affable Marquis di Montezemolo could be preparing to abdicate the Ferrari throne in favor of John's rakish younger brother Lapo.
Montezemolo had assumed the Fiat chairmanship after the passing of Gianni Agnelli, as the controlling family waited for its scions to become ready to take control. Once they were, the Marquis gave up the group chair to John as reports proliferated of Montezemolo's political aspirations. These were followed by public calls from within Italy's political echelon for Montezemolo to lead a coalition to eject the troubled Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is currently under trial for alleged relations with underage prostitutes.
NASCAR expected to hold first fuel-injection test at Kentucky The first on-track test of fuel injection in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series could come as early as July 7 at Kentucky Speedway, provided NASCAR finalizes specifications for system hardware and software in time for teams to prepare.
Because the Cup series will race at Kentucky for the first time on July 9, NASCAR has OK’d extra practice on Thursday, July 7. Cup teams are scheduled to spend four hours on the track that day, and Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines chief engine builder Danny Lawrence hopes that will also provide the first test of fuel injection for the series.
Danica taking Go Daddy to NASCAR Q: What's the deal with Andretti Autosport? The last two seasons they've fallen from title contenders to also-rans. They don't appear to have drivers that are on par with Penske and Ganassi, especially now that TK has moved on. Do they have the financial backing that's necessary to keep up with the big boys?
Robin Miller (SPEEDTV.com): Well, Hunter-Reay and Kanaan were the only drivers to win besides Penske and Ganassi in 2010 and Mike Conway looked strong in his debut (before the first lap). But the team hasn’t been the same since Dario left and when Danica takes GO DADDY to NASCAR Sprint Cup, it’s going to be nut cutting time.
Korean consortium eyes HRT buy-in - report (GMM) A Korean consortium is reportedly interested in buying into the struggling Hispania team.
Italiaracing.net said the talks with owner Jose Ramon Carabante recently began "although the amount requested by the Spanish businessman is apparently quite high".
Carabante recently told Cadena Ser radio that he is not ruling out selling some of his HRT stake.
"We are talking with investors but what I don't want is to sell the team and disappear," he said after Vitantonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan failed to qualify for the 2011 season opener in Australia.
(GMM) Rubens Barrichello could be struggling with F1's ever-sophisticated steering wheels, an insider has suggested.
As the record-setting veteran began his 18th consecutive season two weeks ago in Melbourne, Barrichello oddly drove onto the grass and spun out of qualifying, and was penalized in the race for crashing into Nico Rosberg.
With many drivers complaining about the unprecedentedly high cockpit workload due to DRS and KERS systems, the insider indicated that modern F1 may have overtaken the 38-year-old Brazilian.
Mellencamp's estranged wife Elaine Irwin dating Jay Penske
Recording artist John Mellencamp and his wife Elaine Irwin Mellencamp arrive at the 2007 Vanity Fair Oscar Party at Mortons in West Hollywood, California.
John Mellencamp's willowy soon-to-be ex-wife, Elaine Irwin, is helping herself get over their marital split by dating wealthy media mogul Jay Penske, 32. Sources tell us Irwin, 41 -- the face of Almay -- and Penske have "been seeing each other quietly for a few months."
Los Angeles-based Penske is the CEO and founder of MMC, a digital media and publishing company which owns and operates Nikki Finke's Deadline.com, movieline.com and Bonnie Fuller's HollywoodLife.com. He is the son of racing driver Roger Penske and now owns his own racing team. Elaine and rocker John split in January after 18 years of marriage and have two teenage children. John immediately started dating Meg Ryan.
The source added, "Despite Elaine being a little older, she and Jay have been quietly seeing each other for a while as she has been spending more time in Los Angeles. But it is still early days." Reps for Irwin and Penske didn't get back to us. NY Post
Qatar to replace Bahrain? (GMM) The Qatar Motor and Motorcycling Federation (QMMF) has played down rumors the Arab emirate could be set to replace Bahrain on the F1 calendar. Prior to the civil unrest that led to the postponement of this year's Bahrain season opener, Qatar had already begun modifying its Losail circuit so it is able to host a grand prix as well as its popular MotoGP night event.
But a spokesman for the QMMF dismissed suggestions Qatar is readying to become a long-term calendar replacement for Bahrain.
"As you know, formula one has an agreement with Bahrain until 2016," the official insisted. "We want to make clear that at present there are no communications or official conversations with the promoters of formula one," he added, according to Dutch website f1today.nl.
Red Bull to use KERS in Malaysia - report (GMM) Red Bull's 2011 car will feature KERS throughout the forthcoming Malaysian grand prix weekend.
That is the claim of Bild newspaper in Germany, despite team chiefs Christian Horner and Adrian Newey saying a decision about the energy-recovery technology at Sepang will only be taken after it is tested on Friday.
The report said the team only decided to "voluntarily" do without KERS in Australia because it would only have been an additional reliability worry on board the clearly dominant RB7.
Hinchcliffe and Newman/Haas deal close but not doneUPDATE #3 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.
04/04/11 Hearing rumors that Hinchcliffe could be announced as early as Tuesday.
03/23/11 James Hinchcliffe left little doubt after last week’s final IndyCar Series test that should he secure a full-time ride in North America’s premier open-wheel category, the Canadian would be a front-runner.
While understandably frustrated not to be participating in this weekend’s 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season-opener, the ‘Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg’, the 24-year-old will still be on-hand to watch the action up-close and personal as part of the Newman/Haas Racing team he tested with so successfully throughout the off-season.
Hinchcliffe’s third and final outing for the Illinois-based outfit, last week’s full-field test at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, saw the rookie comfortably amongst the pace-setters, finishing the first day fifth fastest and the second day seventh quickest having earlier topped the timesheets trading lap-times with team-mate and veteran racer, Oriol Servia.
Will Newton get a NASCAR Cup race? A little over five years ago, when Iowa Speedway was a fledgling facility just starting out, track designer and former NASCAR driver Rusty was begging for a NASCAR race — any NASCAR race — to come to Newton. Since that time, Iowa Speedway has landed NASCAR’s Camping World series (now K&N Pro Series), an IndyCar race, NASCAR’s truck series and a pair of NASCAR Nationwide dates.
“It’s ahead of what I expected. I thought it was going to be a lot more to get these NASCAR races.” Wallace said. “Man, I never expected ever this much inventory this quick. And now we’ve got a second Nationwide race.”
How many NASCAR races could the Newton facility run? “Five” said Speedway President Jerry Jauron, smiling. That fifth race would be a Sprint Cup race — the pinnacle of NASCAR racing. If the Nationwide series is like AAA baseball then the Sprint Cup would be the major leagues.
NASCAR Looking at Fueling Heads? There was some talk in the garage this weekend that NASCAR may begin taking a closer look into the fueling systems used by the Cup Series teams. As you've heard repeatedly all season, the teams are using a new style self-vented fueling system this season with the elimination of the catch can man. NASCAR's rules for the new system, which was developed by Schultz Products, allow for some modifications to the components. And besides making changes to pit stop choreography, many teams have spent a lot of time trying to find ways to make fuel flow faster with the new equipment. It sounds now as if NASCAR wants to see what they've been able to accomplish. NASCAR Insiders
Volkswagen AG has agreed to fund production of the Bugatti 16C Galibier sedan, Bloomberg News reported on Friday, citing two unnamed sources that had knowledge of the project.
The 16C Galibier would join the Veyron sports car in Bugatti's lineup. But Galibier production may not start for two to three years while Bugatti retools its boutique manufacturing plant in Molsheim, France.
The ultraluxury sedan was first shown in 2010 as a concept at the Geneva motor show. It shares the 16-cylinder, 1,000-hp engine used in the Veyron. Speculation on a price tag centers on 1 million euros, or about $1.4 million at current exchange rates.
Trouble brewing for F1, ALMS?UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, I just wanted to comment on ALMS being a cash cow. While F1 does generate millions of dollars from the TV rights fee, ALMS has to pay the networks to air their shows. Yes I agree they are in trouble. Name Withheld by Request
03/31/11 If you look at how the ALMS, and for that matter how most racing series have evolved, it’s clear that they are too often defined by a format that ensures commercial success for the series owners, generally at the expense of other participants.
This structure accounted for the demise of CART/Indy Car and would seem to soon be going to take the ALMS down with it. The IRL will need the proverbial miracle to avoid the same fate.
While I have no big problem in such a profit motive, I do have issues when the profit motive is at the expanse of the element that makes the whole thing work, the teams!
Vitantonio Liuzzi is under no illusions that Hispania Racing will be able to qualify for the upcoming Malaysian Grand Prix, admitting that being able to make the 107 percent threshold at Sepang will be even more difficult than at Albert Park.
This season sees the rule return to Formula 1 for the first time since 2002, meaning all cars must be within 107 percent of the fastest Q1 time in order to qualify for Sunday’s race. However, Liuzzi is doubting HRT’s Kuala Lumpur capabilities.
“We paid the consequence of being late from the beginning, so now for Malaysia we should be fully ready for our first race of the season,” he wrote in a column for ESPN.
“I think things will be different there but, unfortunately, if I was to say at the beginning of the year which track would be worst for the 107 percent rule I would have said Malaysia because of its characteristics. “Even so, I still think we can show improvement compared to Australia and good pace compared to Virgin.”
(GMM) Lucas di Grassi will be Pirelli's new main tire test driver. That is the claim of italiaracing.net, amid the need for formula one's new official tire supplier to replace the departing Pedro de la Rosa.
De la Rosa has been given permission to test Pirelli's 2009 Toyota in Istanbul this weekend, but after that he will focus exclusively on his role as third driver at McLaren.
Brazilian di Grassi, 26 and a renowned test driver, was left without a role in F1 this year after making his grand prix debut with Virgin in 2010.
Earlier this year, he dismissed initial reports about a possible Pirelli role as "speculation" but admitted being a tire test driver "would be interesting".
(GMM) F1 'spygate' conspirator Mike Coughlan has re-emerged in the world of American NASCAR racing. The Canadian website auto123.com reports that the Briton, formerly McLaren's chief designer, is now working for the North Carolina-based Michael Waltrip Racing.
In 2007, he was sacked by McLaren following accusations he received a dossier of information stolen by Ferrari's Nigel Stepney. He is reportedly now Michael Waltrip Racing's director of vehicle design, after helping to design an armored vehicle called Ocelot.
"I came from an environment (F1) where I drew a new car every year and I had a great time. There was no chance that there'd be a new vehicle every year with the Ocelot," said Coughlan.
Already at Michael Waltrip Racing was McLaren's former head of race operations Steve Hallam.
Ecclestone looking to move F1 up a notch As the FIA and FOTA, the teams' alliance, look at ways to spice up the action on track, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is said to be on the verge of announcing a move aimed at seriously broadening the sport's appeal.
Pitpass is rumoring that Ecclestone has invited English duo Simon Cowell and Simon Fuller to help him in his quest to move Formula One out of its sporting niche and into the wider entertainment market.
Cowell, a music executive, television producer and entrepreneur, is the man behind the X Factor and Got Talent franchises and according to the New Statesman was one of the "World's 50 most influential figures" in 2010.
Baltimore GP in trouble? 10 new sponsors announcedUPDATE #2 We are downgrading this rumor to 'false.' In addition to the new sponsors below, the city of Baltimore sent about a dozen people to St. Pete last weekend---they loved it! It’s nice to see an event with such strong city backing and good support internally. The recent changes in management at BGP probably started the rumors.
When the Baltimore Grand Prix (BGP) drivers roar into downtown Baltimore on September 2-4, ten new event sponsors will join thousands of fans at the "Festival of Speed".
Philadelphia-based transportation fuels provider Sunoco will be the official fuel partner and the official pit lane sponsor for the Baltimore Grand Prix. Sunoco will play a key role in keeping the racers of the world class competition in the race as they travel speeds of up to 180 mph throughout the streets of Baltimore.
Kimi Raikkonen must have his head screwed on backwards
Former Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen has received approval from NASCAR to compete in the Camping World truck Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 20th.
Raikkonen is slated to make his debut in the truck series later this summer with a team that includes former Richard Petty Motorsports principal Foster Gillette as a partner. Gillett's father George was the owner of RPM before financial issues forced them to sell the remaining assets of the team to an investor group led by Richard Petty.
However Ray Evernham, who merged his team with the Petty organization in a business transaction with the Gilletts, had some strong words for the family's intention to return to NASCAR.
Evernham has filed a $16 million lawsuit against Gillett for money he believes is still owed.
Three carmakers linked with post-2013 F1 forays (GMM) Three car makers have been named as potential candidates to enter formula one after the engine rules change in 2013.
Jean-Francois Caubet, managing director of F1 engine supplier Renault Sport F1, said "Volkswagen, Honda and Hyundai" could launch forays when the turbocharged four-cylinder power plants replace the current 2.4 liter V8s.
His comments are a further sign that engine makers back the FIA's greener rules for 2013, amid Bernie Ecclestone's fears that spectators and sponsors will not appreciate the loss of the current engine note.
Argentinean driver Esteban Guerrieri to Indy Lights with Sam Schmidt MotorsportUPDATE #2 On our last sentence in this rumor back in February on Guerrieri we wrote he was really good. Well he proved that Saturday with Indy Lights pole in his first ever race in the USA. Keep your eye on this kid.
02/18/11 It sure looks like this rumor can be upgraded to 'fact' now. Guerrieri training in a simulator for the St. Petersburg season opener.
02/16/11 According to AR1.com sources, on Tuesday night Argentine driver Esteban Guerrieri left for the United States, to pursue the "American Dream."
According to sources Esteban Guerrieri hopes to repeat the Indy Lights that Sam Schmidt Motorsports won in 2010 and to also race at least one IndyCar race, at Sonoma which will be held on August 28 at Infineon Raceway Laguna Seca circuit.
Esteban first has to pass the necessary medical examination and then begin testing at Barber Motorsports Park circuit in Alabama on March 14-15-16.
According to AR1.com sources, Guerrieri is very good.
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