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DATE News (chronologically)
Mercedes F1 team to be kicked out of 2013 championship? (Update)  UPDATE In London, Kevin Eason wrote that "the feeling was growing that Mercedes will get to keep their trophy because the test ban did not apply directly to the Monaco event." But the FIA "pointed the finger and let it be known that Mercedes had been warned that they could not test with this season’s car and their two race drivers." Most likely, the transgression will result in "a huge fine to fatten the FIA’s coffers" and Pirelli will get "a nasty slap on the wrist." London Times

05/26/13 Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes team could be kicked out of the world championship.

Hours after teammate Nico Rosberg stormed to the biggest win in their history, the car giant was branded “underhanded” by Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

Mercedes had to deny claims their Monaco result was built on a secret three-day Pirelli tire test ahead of the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. More ...

Bruton Smith could move fall race out of Charlotte (2nd Update)  UPDATE #3 NASCAR chairman Brian France is not in favor of moving a Sprint Cup race from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Las Vegas. Earlier this week, Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith said there was a 70% chance he would seek to move the October Chase race from CMS to his 1.5-mile track in Sin City. That would leave the hub of NASCAR with only one point race, the Coca-Cola 600 in May, and the All-Star race held the week before. France said during a Saturday state-of-union address at CMS there have been no discussions with Smith or SMI, but his preference is to "make the events where they are more successful.'' More ...
Briscoe to run more races?  Rumors of Ryan Briscoe expanding his schedule to do more races with Chip Ganassi have been making the rounds this week and I've been told it's very likely the Aussie could partake in a few additional events that don't conflict with his full-time duties with the Level 5 American Le Mans Series team. Racer.com
Is Johnson greatest NASCAR driver ever?  CONCORD, N.C. — Jimmie Johnson joked after his win in the Sprint All-Star Race last week that he just got lucky, like always.

“We just get lucky, man. That's what people say. There's no talent involved, we just got lucky tonight,” Johnson said.

He is used to the “haters,” as he calls them, questioning every victory and everything he does.

The haters, though, don’t exist in the Sprint Cup garage, where the five-time champion has tremendous respect. More ...
Henrik Fisker joins Hong Kong tycoon on Fisker bid, report says  Henrik Fisker is working with an investor group to salvage Fisker Automotive, the plug-in hybrid automaker he co-founded nearly six years ago that is now struggling to stave off bankruptcy, people familiar with the matter told Reuters this week.

The discussions follow Henrik Fisker's resignation from the company in March after finding himself increasingly at odds with other top executives over strategy.

The well-regarded car designer is now teamed up with an investor group led by Hong Kong billionaire and Fisker investor Richard Li. The group is looking to buy the U.S. Department of Energy's loan to Fisker without making the car company resort to bankruptcy. More ...
Three teams poised to change engine supplier for 2014  Three teams appear to be one step closer to signing new engine contracts for next season, according to reports.

Marussia, Scuderia Toro Rosso and Williams have all been rumored to be looking for new engine contracts to coincide with the new regulations in 2014, and, according to Auto Motor und Sport, the deals are close to being finalized.

Marussia are set to sign a contract with Ferrari which has been aided by Jules Bianchi’s drive with the backmarkers. Bianchi is a part of Ferrari’s driver academy, and he runs with the Scuderia’s logo on his helmet. Current suppliers Cosworth are set to withdraw from F1 at the end of the season, but Marussia are happy to make the change as they look to cut the gap to the midfield. Although Pat Symonds has previously stated that the team is considering all possible options, it would appear Ferrari are leading the race for a new customer team. More ...
Red Bull to rebrand Renault engines 'Infiniti'  (GMM)  Red Bull will reportedly rebrand its Renault engines as 'Infiniti' for the start of the turbo V6 era next year.

Infiniti, the Renault-linked Nissan's luxury division, is already the world champion team's title sponsor.

"Next year, (Infiniti) is paying the Renault engine bill and wants advertising in return," said German magazine Auto Motor und Sport's correspondent Michael Schmidt from Monaco on Friday.

Schmidt said Renault is therefore looking for a new premium partner to advertise with in F1, and the first choice is the former Renault works team, Enstone based Lotus. More ...

Renault engine deal for Toro Rosso to be announced (Update)  UPDATE (GMM)  The engine deal between Toro Rosso and Renault is reportedly not yet ready to be announced.

Earlier this week, we reported that the Red Bull-owned team's anticipated switch from Ferrari power would be announced imminently, on the sidelines of the Monaco grand prix weekend.

But German-language Speed Week reports that, during conference calls and internal meetings in the last days, there were still elements of the deal that were being discussed and debated.

"There are still too many outstanding issues," a Toro Rosso source is quoted as saying. More ...

Honda seeking English base for F1 foray  (GMM)  Honda is looking for an English base for its new formula one foray with its great former partner McLaren.

The two marques announced late last week that they have linked up for a new 'works' partnership that will see Honda supply turbo V6 engines to McLaren from 2015.

"Honda will develop its engines at its facility in Tochigi, Japan, where it has already begun development," read the media statement last Thursday. More ...

Time to put Patrick on pole again  A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, I was reading that Danica Patrick is starting to get booed by fans because more times than not she stinks up the joint.  NASCAR can't have their biggest poster girl booed.  It's time for NASCAR to put her on pole again ala the Daytona 500 and make her a star.  Mordichai Rosen, Los Angeles, CA.
3-wide start for Pocono 500  
CART Pocono 500 1985 - a 3-wide start
Rumor has it that the return of IndyCars to the 2.5-mile Pocono Trioval in July for the Pocono 500 will see a return to a 3-wide start. 

The track has a very wide front straight that can easily accommodate a 3-wide start.
BMW back to F1? (Update)  UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' now.  BMW has hit back at Bernie Ecclestone's claim the German carmaker might be looking to return to formula one.

Off the back of Honda's decision to make a F1 comeback in 2015, F1 chief executive Ecclestone told City A.M. newspaper he would be "surprised" if BMW didn't follow suit.

But the Munich carmaker's motor sport boss Jens Marquardt said on Monday: "We are pleased with our current program."

At present, the cream of BMW's motor racing program is its new foray in the German touring car series DTM.

"We have no intention of looking into other areas," Marquardt told German website motorsport-total.com.

"We withdrew from formula one deliberately.  We are focused on what our customers really recognize as BMW, and we have no reason to change." More ...

Honda’s ace in the hole?  
Senna drove a Lotus Honda in 1987
Mostly everyone agrees that the return of Honda to Formula One in 2015 is a good thing.  After the departure of Toyota, the inclusion of a Japanese manufacturer is a shot-in-the-arm (or a distraction at least) for a sport currently beleaguered by a sketchy Concorde agreement and perceived apocryphal racing.  Just how Honda will perform from the outset however is open to… Well interpretation.

Whilst speaking with an un-named engine supplier earlier in the year, they alluded to the fact that should Honda come on board, they will more or less be up to speed with their competitors – perhaps even more than predicted. More ...

Davey Hamilton to try and qualify for 500  
Davey Hamilton
Sam Schmidt said time is running out to field the No. 99 car.

Schmidt, who owns cars driven by Simon Pagenaud and rookie Tristan Vautier, apparently has the only car that could be a 34th contender for this year’s 500.

But Schmidt said he doesn’t have the funding to run it. “I can’t risk the car without having enough sponsorship,” he said. More ...

Seven Of 11 F1 Teams Are In Financial Trouble  Seven of the 11 F1 teams "are reportedly unable to afford the new engines for the '14 season," according to Helmut Uhl of BILD.

Besides the top four teams, Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes, "the rest of the field is in financial trouble." The three engine suppliers, Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault, "experienced it first hand when they announced the prices of the new 1.6 liter V6 turbo engines for the '14 season." More ...
McLaren F1 switching to Honda engines (8th Update)  UPDATE #8 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's news.

05/15/13 (GMM)  Honda is shaping up to announce its return to formula one, a source at the Japanese manufacturer said on Wednesday.

We reported at the weekend that McLaren has let a deadline pass whereby it could have extended its customer deal with Mercedes beyond next season.

"That can only mean Honda in 2015," said Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt. More ...

Honda sandbagging?  Word in the Indy paddock is that Honda is sandbagging - letting the Chevy teams be fastest in every Indy 500 practice session - as they pretty much did last year.  Then on race day Honda will turn up the wick and bury Chevy.

Honda uses a single larger turbo.  That may be a disadvantage on road and street circuits but on the big ovals it is said to be an advantage.

For the first time in a decade, IndyCar teams could flirt with 230-mph laps, a senior series official said Tuesday. That’s because even though the extra turbocharged boost given to engines starting Friday. The boost is increased before pole day for entertainment, giving fans higher-speed laps. The boost is lowered for the race's 500 miles to help engine reliability.
tv news
NBC to pick up TNT's NASCAR races? ESPN to cut back?  NASCAR has signed one contract for 2015-2022, for the first 13 Cup races, with Fox Sports, which includes the new Fox Sports 1 that replaces Speed in August. Fox considered it a priority to get NASCAR as one of its anchor sports for its all-sports Fox Sports 1 network, so it already signed a deal for 2015-2022 (at a 36% rate increase).

While the sport might have lost some of its buzz, Fox Sports recognized the loyalty of NASCAR fans to watch its programming. It will eventually put some Cup races on that cable network to boost its profile. More ...
Reprieve for pit-lane speedsters  Motorsport's governing body, the FIA, has agreed to do away with pit-lane speeding fines, according to a report.

Earlier this month the Grand Prix Drivers' Association sought clarification from the FIA as to why drivers were still being fined for speeding in the pit lane when a deal agreed for an increase in super-licence fees was supposed to have stopped financial penalties.

The Sporting Regulations, though, state that drivers must be fined $200 for every kilometer per hour they are over the speed limit. More ...

Bribery charge would end Ecclestone's reign (Updated)  UPDATE
Bernie Ecclestone may be trading in his black suit for a pinstripe one
(GMM)  If Bernie Ecclestone is charged with bribery, it will be the end of the 82-year-old Briton's long and famous reign over formula one.

That is the claim of a source, who was commenting in the wake of reports at the weekend that German prosecutors are close to indicting F1's chief executive over the Gerhard Gribkowsky affair.

According to Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, the next step would be a court deciding if it should hear the case, with a trial to shortly follow.

The Financial Times said one option for Ecclestone would be for him to negotiate a settlement with the prosecutors. More ...

Walker hired to be IndyCar President of Operations  UPDATE Hulman & Company Chief Executive Officer Mark Miles will host a press conference at 11:30 a.m. today to announce and officially introduce the new head of INDYCAR operations and competition. The position includes the responsibility for the on-track and competition elements of the IZOD IndyCar Series and the series' participants.

Derrick Walker
SPEED.com reports that Derrick Walker has agreed to become the president of racing operations for IndyCar.

Walker left Indianapolis on Tuesday as the team manager for Ed Carpenter's IndyCar team and the Falken Tire ALMS program but when he returns he'll be on the other side of the pit wall for the first time in his 40-year career in motorsports.

Walker has agreed to become the president of racing operations for IndyCar and a formal announcement is expected next week. Carpenter informed his squad of Walker's impending move on Wednesday. Speed.com

Chevy testing 2014 IndyCar aero kits  UPDATE It took getting through multiple false starts and a pair of protests from the paddock, but SPEED.com reports the long-awaited Indy car aero kits will finally debut in 2014.

But not everywhere.

The new Indy car bodies, designed by Wirth Research and Honda Performance Development for Honda, and Pratt & Miller and GM Racing for Chevy, will only be allowed in the Triple Crown events at Indianapolis, Pocono and Fontana.

The rest of the schedule will conform to the spec Dallara DW12 body that has been in place since 2012. More ...

Busch and IndyCar  A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, I see NASCAR is up to their old tricks again with their timing and scoring computers.  No sooner did we hear that Kurt Busch's Furniture Row team may fold later in the year due to lack of sponsors did the timing and scoring computers come  to the rescue and put him on pole at Darlington.  Maybe it was a 'special' ECU he got and not the timing and scoring computers.  And I could not help to think, let's see, Kurt Busch tests an IndyCar and his entire Furniture Row team flies to Indy for the test (maybe a move to IndyCar in the works) and wham, Busch is immediately on pole and the whole Furniture Row team forgets about that Indy stuff.  Or is Dodge thinking about returning to NASCAR with Andretti, Furniture row and RCR so if we put Furniture Row on pole Dodge will be thinking they are getting a fast team and return to the sport. Everything happens in NASCAR for a reason.  Mordichai Rosen, Los Angeles, CA
2013 F1 driver salaries  Following is a rumored list of 2013 F1 driver salaries in Euros.  The report was published by Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo citing information compiled by Business Book GP.

Drivers (Currently 1 Euro = 1.3 US Dollars):

1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari Euro 20m
= Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Euro 20m
3. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes Euro 16m
4. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing Euro 12m
5. Nico Rosberg Mercedes Euro 11m
6. Mark Webber Red Bull Racing Euro 10m
7. Felipe Massa Ferrari Euro 6m
8. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus F1 Team Euro 3m
9. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes Euro 1.5m
10. Romain Grosjean Lotus F1 Team Euro1m More ...
Dodge back to NASCAR with Andretti (15th Update)  UPDATE #15 More background on this rumor.  Evidently, Branson attended a few NASCAR races a few years ago (when he was dabbling in F1) with the Virgin America and Virgin Money brands.  Now that he has Virgin Galactic in the USA, maybe the connection with technology would be a better play.  However, we think he likes cars and he and Michael have been friends for a while so maybe he is just going to be an investor to get things started, and then sell out like Barry Green did with Andretti-Green. 

Also, we know that Dodge and Andretti had discussions last season about a NASCAR program, but the problem was that Andretti does not have the engine building/development capability.  Andretti Sports Marketing was primarily set up to find sponsors for their NASCAR effort.  Rumor from our NASCAR sources is that Childress is going to Dodge and the engines will be built by his engine facility, which would solve the engine issue they had with Andretti.  He (and maybe Furniture Row), would then just buy engines from Childress, and Dodge is back in the sport. More ...

Mercedes eyes possible Indy 500, Le Mans return  
CART Detroit 2000 - Mercedes engines powered a number of drivers.  That was when CART IndyCar had Ford, Mercedes, Honda and Toyota engines in the field.  Soon Mercedes left because Tony George's destruction of the sport was beginning to take hold
(GMM)  Toto Wolff is not ruling out a return for Mercedes in the future to the fabled Indy 500 and Le Mans races.

The German marque's new motor sport chief, Austrian Wolff told Italy's Autosprint that his immediate goal is for Mercedes to "finish among the top four" in this year's F1 season.

But when asked specifically about a possible return for Mercedes to the Indy 500 and Le Mans, Wolff admitted: "Basically, we would look at any racing category.

"It would have to make sense for the Mercedes brand. More ...

More on Long Beach sale rumors to F1 (12th Update)  UPDATE #12 I think that there will be three Formula 1 Grands Prix in the United States by 2016. The United States GP in Austin, the Grand Prix of America in New Jersey and the Long Beach Grand Prix in California. The only way to find out if I am right is to wait for three years, but I am confident that Bernie Ecclestone is not going to waste the opportunity to conquer the one place where Formula 1 should be big and is not. The signs have been there for a while. His goal is to create a solid package to market F1 in the Americas by adding races in America and Mexico to the existing events in Canada and Brazil. By doing that he has a package of races that can be sold to TV companies at much higher prices than is the case at the moment. More ...
Reckless drivers face bans  Reckless Formula One drivers have been warned that the introduction of a 'football-style' penalty points system may lead to them facing race bans in future.

Discussions into the viability of a revised punishment system for dangerous or other irregular driving are expected to take place at next weekend's Spanish Grand Prix and could be introduced later this year.

International Motoring Federation (FIA) race director Charlie Whiting is due to meet the teams at a meeting of the Sporting Working Group think-tank ahead of the Barcelona race to discuss potential future rule changes.

"It's a complex question and we need to get the balance right because banning a driver is a serious issue," he said. "We need to make sure a driver genuinely deserves any ban. More ...

F1 may introduce penalty points system  Formula One may develop a new “penalty points” system for driver infringements.

A report by Autosport indicates this would be one of the items discussed by the Sporting Working Group think tank, along with a revised testing schedule and clarification of pit lane speeding penalties, for future 2014 rule changes.

Driver licenses would be hit with penalty points at small increments, only building later on. A mock system may appear later this year. More ...

Goodyear Tire Testing at Indy (Update)  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. A half-dozen Sprint Cup Series drivers are testing this week at IMS. Jeff Gordon, two-time Brickyard winner Tony Stewart, a Columbus, Ind., native and resident, along with Mark Martin, reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Trevor Bayne.

Gordon said he was impressed with the grip level generated by the series’ first-year car, known as the Gen-6 design. He couldn’t believe it when Hendrick Motorsports officials told him his Chevrolet topped out at 214 mph in the cooler part of the morning.

“I didn’t realize we were going that fast,” he said. More ...

Marussia looks set for Ferrari power in 2014 (Update)  UPDATE
Probably tipping the scales in Ferrari's favor was Marussia's last-minute signing of Jules Bianchi, who is strongly supported by the famous Italian marque
(GMM)  Marussia looks set to use customer Ferrari engines in 2014.

With the team's current supplier Cosworth unlikely to build a new power unit for next year's radical V6 rules, Marussia's choice appeared to have boiled down to Mercedes or Ferrari.

"We'll talk with both," chief executive Andy Webb said in March.

He said the price of the engine and energy-recovery 'ERS' package, to be significantly higher than the current V8 configuration, "will be an important factor".

Webb indicated Marussia wanted to make its decision "by the end of April". More ...

Less than 33 cars to start Indy 500?  UPDATE #2 Pippa Mann has been confirmed for dale Coyne Racing in this announcement.

04/25/13 Rumor has it that Pippa Mann will land a ride for the Indy 500.  So along with the Lazier brothers the Indy 500 might get just to 33 cars.

Will 33 start the 2013 Indy 500?
Sam Schmidt and Dale Coyne still hope to field third cars for next month’s Indianapolis 500, but they don’t have deals done as sponsorship programs haven’t been signed.

Both are needed. Currently, there are 29 confirmed car-and-driver combinations, with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing expected to field the 30th for Michel Jourdain Jr.

For Schmidt, it will be a third car to go with Simon Pagenaud and rookie Tristan Vautier; Coyne’s third car would partner with Justin Wilson and Ana Beatriz. But a lot still has to happen. More ...

Google Self-Driving Vehicle Trained to Hog The Left Lane?  
Google 'left-lane-dick' driverless car
A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, I have been looking for what to do with the photo taken a couple of weeks ago in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Your article on driverless cars triggered an answer.

Northern California drivers are not particularly disciplined about keeping to the right, as evidenced in the photo, which makes me wonder: have the programmers designed in 'left-lane-dick' logic?  Harry Smith, San Francisco

Is IndyCar in Kentucky Speedway’s future?  Kentucky Speedway held its Ford Fan Day on Saturday. As part of the event, which benefited from more hospitable weather this year, general manager Mark Simendinger fielded questions from fans during two town hall-like sessions in the press box.

Simendinger again raised the possibility of the IndyCar Series someday returning to Kentucky Speedway.

"I would see them coming back at some point in time. I'm not sure when that point in time would be because that’s a series that’s kind of working on its mix of ovals versus road courses and they’ve got a management change there. They’re dealing with kind of the economic model  of what they’re races are going to be and how much money they’re going to charge tracks and all that kind of stuff. So I think that stuff has to get worked out, but I could see the IndyCar Series coming back here." More ...

DRR parking No. 22 after Indy  UPDATE #2 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing will attempt to make occasional appearances in IndyCar over the remainder of the season if it is unable to secure the funding to continue full-time after the Indy 500. It was revealed on Friday that the team will be forced to stand down after the Indy 500 unless it can attract additional investment, with the hope of regrouping and re-entering the series full-time in 2014. However, team co-owner Robbie Buhl says that even if DRR is forced to scale back after Indy, it could still race later in the season.

"If there were one-offs later in the year that made sense, we would do that," he said.

"Oriol was as disappointed as everybody, just because the continuity that we have working with Panther was really starting to make some strides," Buhl said. "Having said that, we've really got to focus and deliver at Brazil and Indy, but it's a tough position to be in. More ...
McLaren 'supremo' Dennis demoted  UPDATE (GMM)  McLaren on Friday played down reports Ron Dennis has been demoted by team co-owner Bahrain.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport had reported the McLaren 'supremo' was stripped of his voting rights, and is now only a non-executive member of the board.

The report said McLaren shareholder Mumtalakat Holding, the Bahraini investment company, is angry because Dennis' pet project, McLaren Automotive, is losing millions.

But a McLaren spokesperson on Friday told the BBC that Dennis' change of role was decided by himself. More ...

Overheard in Long Beach - Saturday (UPDATED)  UPDATE #2 We rumored (below) last Saturday that Conor Daly would sign with the ART team in GP3 for this year.  That announcement was made today - see Hot News.

04/20/13 We forgot to mention, rumor has it that Honda has been able to step up their performance in IndyCar by increasing the exhaust manifold temperature. Not sure how they did that, but the engine appears to have more power pulling off the corners than it did before.  The top six drivers show three in Hondas and three with Chevy power, so it does not get more equal than that.  However, we also hear that Honda made the wall of the exhaust manifold thinner, but that has led to some cracked manifolds.

04/20/13 The Toyota Pro/Celebrity race had the smallest crowd we have seen in years today, probably because some of the stars are not as famous as in previous years, and the 'Pro' drivers were Olympic stars and Military Medal of Honor Winners and not real road racing stars. The promoter is looking for a sponsor for the Pro/Celebrity race.  After many years Toyota wants to take a step back - they will still provide the cars and at track equipment but they want to step back from the race promotion and bringing in the celebrities.

We asked Justin Wilson what caused his accident yesterday in the 2nd practice session. He told AR1.com, "There is a about six feet between the concrete wall and the curb.  I kept trying to take more and more of the curb (cutting the corner) and I was gaining lap time.  So I figured I would try putting all four wheels inside the curb.  Well that didn't work.  The entire front end got off the ground.  Of course then I could not turn and went straight into the wall.  That broke the left front corner off, but then Simona de Silvestro hit my right rear and that resulted in more damage to the car then the left front." More ...

Did Kenseth's engine fail inspection after Kansas? Yes  UPDATE #3 "Whether with the Gen-6 car or back to the Gen-3 car in my crew chief days, we’ve always known the engine and tires are sacred ground. You don’t mess with the engine or the tires.  But I absolutely think this was a mistake on the part of Toyota Racing Development (TRD).  If they were going to intentionally run light connecting rods, they’d make all eight of them light – not just one.  This was pure human error.  But in NASCAR’s defense, they can’t completely determine intent or non-intent. I don’t question the points penalty or the monetary fine, but I take issue with suspending Jason Ratcliff, because while the crew chief ultimately is responsible for the car from the roof to the driveshaft, there is no way in this world Ratcliff knew that rod was too light. He wouldn’t have known if all eight rods were light; heck, he wouldn’t have known if all eight were missing from the engine.  In my 18 years as a crew chief, I couldn’t tell you anything about the engine other than whether it was running well or whether it was in the car. More ...
Rahal to run third car at Indy for Jourdain Jr.  UPDATE #2
Michel Jourdain Jr. in 2002
This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  As we also rumored this past weekend in Long Beach when we saw Michel Jourdain in the paddock - It was announced today in Mexico City that Michel Jourdain Jr., who brought Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Indy car wins in Montreal and Milwaukee Champ Car World Series races in 2003, and who drove for the team in the 2012 Indianapolis 500 will again join the team for the 2013 500-mile event.  Office Depot Mexico returns as the primary sponsor of Jourdain’s No. 17 entry and Grupo Indi and Grupo Multi return as associate sponsors.

"I am very happy to compete in the Indianapolis 500 again," said Michel Jourdain, 36.  "It has been a year since I have been in the car but I will take the same strategy as last year and build up speed little by little. We have good confidence because we ran pretty well last year, especially Takuma (Sato).  I’m sure the car will be really good and with it being a three car team we should be able to progress much faster. I’m happy to be working with Bobby and the guys again as well as with Bruno (Couprie) my engineer, who I worked with last year. I have worked with Office Depot Mexico for over 11 years now and I am thankful that they will be the primary sponsor again. I’m also happy to have Grupo Indi and Grupo Multi back again as associate sponsors. Hopefully we can give them all a great result in the Indy 500." More ...

F1 Stewards told to be lenient in 'secret' F1 meeting  (GMM) In a 'secret' meeting over the winter, it was agreed that stewards should impose less penalties in 2013 in order to spice up the action.

That is the claim on Tuesday of Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, reporting that the meeting with FIA president Jean Todt was attended by drivers including world champion Sebastian Vettel, team managers, Charlie Whiting and stewards.

"Has it been noticed?" wrote correspondent Michael Schmidt. "The drivers are being punished much less." More ...

Kubica testing in Mercedes' F1 simulator  
Robert Kubica
(GMM)  Robert Kubica has been conducting secret formula one tests at the wheel of Mercedes' sophisticated driver simulator, German newspaper Bild reports.

The Pole tested the German marque's DTM car over the winter, but ultimately signed up with Citroen for the second-tier world rally championship in 2014 as he continues his return to full speed in the wake of his near-fatal crash two years ago.

But 28-year-old Kubica, who raced for BMW and Renault in F1 until the end of 2010, has never hidden that - notwithstanding his still injured right arm - his main priority is to get back on the grand prix grid. More ...

Bahrain could stage 2014 race under lights  
Lewis Hamilton in Bahrain
(GMM)  Bahrain could celebrate its tenth anniversary as a formula one host by staging next year's race under lights, circuit chairman Zayed Alzayani has revealed.

The news follows reports Bernie Ecclestone is happy to keep F1's most controversial race on the calendar long into the future, and is considering a season opener slot for Bahrain in 2014.

Bahrain's existing contract runs until 2016, and the F1 chief executive said: "I feel they do a super job and we're more than happy to give them a contract (extension) for five years. More ...

Dodge heading back to NASCAR soon?  UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.  allpar.com has added an update to this post: While it appears that Ralph Gilles did speak with Ray on this topic, there was a misunderstanding as to the context. Mr. Gilles appears to have been referring to why Dodge pulled out of NASCAR, and was essentially saying that it was not a funding issue  the funding had been approved, but there were other issues. At this time we are awaiting clarification from Chrysler, but it appears that Chrysler had the money earmarked for another NASCAR run but lost key personnel such as engine builders and top-tier teams.

04/22/13 Ray Alexander, on hand for the LX-centric Spring Festival 8, reported that Ralph Gilles told him that NASCAR funding has been approved, and that Chrysler is talking to teams. While no details can be provided, because of the sensitivity of the negotiations, this is the first time a Chrysler official has confirmed that the company is working on a NASCAR re-entry. Last month, Mr. Gilles told Allpar in New York, in answer to a question about NASCAR, "Oh my God, I can't talk about that right now. No comment on that." Chrysler's return to NASCAR presumably remains contingent on being able to sign up competitive drivers and support crew (e.g. car and engine builders). allpar.com
Who paid off the local LB newspaper?  UPDATE While there may not be any monkey business going on with regard to the decreased coverage from the Long Beach Press Telegram (hence rumor downgraded to 'false'), Jim Michaelian did have this to say - "The City-side coverage of the event has been excellent this year, better than other years, but the coverage for our event in the sports section has been disappointing."

04/20/13 One rumor making the rounds in Long Beach is that some devious entity has paid off the owners of the Long Beach Press Telegram newspaper to only provide minimum coverage of the race this weekend, perhaps in an effort to hurt the attendance so they can devalue the event and buy it for less money.

Whereas the race was extensively covered Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday with front page as well as sports page headline stories and huge photos all three days in the past, this weekend Friday had nothing on the front page and hardly a story in the sports section.  Saturday morning has a small story on the front page (not a feature story) and a small story on the sports page (not a feature story).  And the overall coverage in the sports section is significantly reduced from prior years.

The reduction in coverage is significant and quite noticeable.
Toyota could follow Honda in F1 comeback  (GMM)  Toyota could be set to follow its old Japanese rival Honda back into formula one.

Having pulled out of the sport amid the global financial crisis in late 2008, it is expected Honda is preparing a return for 2015 for the new turbo V6 rules.

"I think we've all heard the stories that Honda are coming in and there are other people looking at joining formula one," Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn said.

"I think it (the V6 rules have) regenerated that area, which it needed." More ...

Long Beach to be part of Lemans series  The future of sports car racing in North America "became apparent earlier this year when its two premiere series -- the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Series -- announced their merger for the 2014 season." What is not as clear is "whether Long Beach will be part of that future."

ALMS President & CEO Scott Atherton when asked if United SportsCar Racing would return for the '14 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach said, "We certainly hope so. ... It's a very important market for us." He added that the '14 schedule -- as well as TV details and title sponsorship -- should be "finalized by June or July, and will include between 10 and 12 events." Pasadena Star-News
Red Bull copies solution from Williams  (GMM)  Red Bull has copied from Williams a clever technical innovation, Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt reports.

During winter testing, eagle-eyed experts spotted the Williams solution on the new FW35's brake duct area.

Actually, the original idea was Red Bulls.  Last year, the FIA ruled that the reigning champions were using the brake ducts as an aerodynamic aid, by channeling airflow through the wheel with the rim, hub and nut all playing a role.

Williams, however, modified the concept for 2013, making it legal by ensuring the exit holes for the airflow are stationary and therefore not constituting a banned moveable aerodynamic device. More ...

F1 to be five seconds slower in 2014 - report  (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone is worried F1 cars will be five seconds per lap slower next year compared to 2013.

That is the claim of Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt, who said F1's chief executive is also pushing to increase the likely revs of the radical new turbo V6s next year from just 12,000rpm to 15,000.

The extra revs would alleviate some of Ecclestone's fears about the tamer tones of the V6s compared to this year's howling V8s, but Schmidt said the change is actually unlikely.

That is because of the current rules limiting the engines' flow rate to 100 kilograms per hour, and each car to just 135 liters of fuel per race. More ...

Webber to talk with Mateschitz on Monday  (GMM)  Mark Webber on Thursday refused to specifically deny reports he is set to quit formula one and spearhead Porsche's Le Mans prototype project next year.

"At the moment there's all sorts of rumors going around," the Australian is quoted by Austria's Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper.

Indeed, in the wake of the 'Multi-21' affair and his nightmare Chinese grand prix a week ago, some conspiracy theorists were suggesting Red Bull was deliberately sabotaging Webber's car.

"There's also a lot of nonsense being peddled," Webber said.

The 36-year-old did not specifically address the Porsche rumors, except to say "I still have a lot to offer".

Salzburger Nachrichten reports that Webber is scheduled to have a "private conversation" with Red Bull magnate Dietrich Mateschitz on Monday.

Hankook could replace F1 tire supplier Pirelli  (GMM)  Hankook, a South Korean company, has emerged as an alternative official tire supplier for formula one.

Currently the subject of intense criticism of its heavily-degrading 2013 product, F1's official supplier Pirelli has said it wants to stay on the grid beyond its initial three-year tender that runs out at the end of the season.

But the Italian marque's F1 chief Paul Hembery said last week that Pirelli is nervous it has not yet been offered a new deal for 2014 and beyond. More ...

Did liberal media shun NRA 500?  If you thought that the media was fueling an anti-NRA bias in the wake of the group sponsoring a NASCAR race in Texas, the Associated Press (AP), ESPN, and even reportedly right-wing biased Fox fueled that theory with their handling of the race’s coverage.
ppp The AP wrote an entire article without referencing the race’s official name, the NRA 500. ESPN’s live, 1am ET edition of SportsCenter did the same thing. TheBlaze also received several tips from those who watched the race on Fox’s local affiliates saying the network, too, seemed to be erasing the NRA from it’s paid-for position.
ppp But further examination reveals that the three outlets seem to have been simply keeping in line with the way they’ve recently handled official race names, specifically when looking at last week’s race in Martinsville as a comparison. More ...
Lotus to sell stake to fund Raikkonen deal  (GMM)  Lotus owner Genii is offering part of the Enstone based team for sale, according to a report by Cesare Mannucci in Italy's Autosprint.

Mannucci said the money would go towards the team retaining Kimi Raikkonen for 2014, amid reports Red Bull is making moves to sign the 2007 world champion.

"Kimi's position (beyond 2013) is going to be based on a bunch of things and not on what Red Bull say," Genii's Gerard Lopez is quoted by the Sun newspaper. More ...

F1 Owner CVC Considers Taking Over Online Betting Company Betfair  CVC Capital Partners, private-equity owner of the car-racing marketing company Formula One, "is considering a takeover approach for Betfair," according to Anne-Sylvaine Chassany of the Financial Times. A person with knowledge of the matter said that "the buyout investor has not yet been in contact with the company’s board and is still in an early stage of assessing an approach."

CVC said that "it never commented on market rumor or speculation." Betfair, started by entrepreneurs Ed Wray and Andrew Black, went public in Oct. '10 and "has since lost about half its value after regulatory uncertainties, especially across Europe, hindered the company’s international expansion."

However, the shares "have climbed lately, fuelled by takeover speculation," closing at 699.5 pence on Friday, giving the company a market capitalization of £724.69M ($1.1B) FT
Someone ratted on Penske team  If garage gossip is to be believed, somebody dropped a dime on NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski and his Penske Racing team at Texas Motor Speedway. The story blowing like wildfire Monday through NASCAR goes like this: Keselowski was parked at Texas next to Jimmie Johnson, while teammate Joey Logano was further down the garage parked next to Jeff Gordon. The assigned spots gave Hendrick Motorsports crews crystal clear views of the Penske cars all weekend.

As the rumor goes, there may have been eavesdropping on team chatter over the scanner during practice runs. Did someone from Hendrick ask NASCAR to take a closer look at the Penske cars? On race day, NASCAR inspectors were indeed sniffing around looking for an infraction. What they found in the rear-end housings on the #2 and #22 Fords were confiscated - Logano barely made the start of the race - though NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton curiously avoided a very important word in explaining the problem with the Penske cars. Pemberton never said the cars were illegal. More ...
IndyCar or sports cars could be on Audi's expanded U.S. racing agenda  UPDATE "We would definitely welcome Audi to our sport," Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Jeff Belskus told SPEED.com on Sunday. "We are going to reach out to them, and it would be very meaningful to have a premier European brand competing in IndyCar.

"They have a great following among car buyers and racing fans, and I think with the level of competition we have between Chevrolet and Honda, it would be a big challenge for any manufacturer to come in and win right away, but we hope to have discussions with them very soon about this."

Belskus followed up on Monday, reaching out to Audi of America and Audi AG. Randy Bernard, his IndyCar CEO predecessor, did the same in 2010, but nothing came from the exchange. More ...

Chip Ganassi selling to John Menard?  UPDATE Don't put too much stock in John Menard to buy Ganassi team rumors. Ganassi likes competing in various series and his NASCAR teams are showing a little improvement in recent weeks. That's not to say that Paul Menard couldn't end up taking his sponsorship to Ganassi, but he could pick other stronger operations to bring his money. Sporting News

04/12/13 One of the hottest stories in the garage Thursday was intense speculation that veteran team owner Chip Ganassi may be considering selling his two-team NASCAR operation to John Menard. Menard, who owns the Midwestern home improvement chain Menards, is a long-time racer, and he is currently sponsoring his son Paul's NASCAR team, part of the Richard Childress organization. Ganassi and Childress are both Chevy men. Childress supplied Ganassi's two teams (with #1-Jamie McMurray and #42-Juan Pablo Montoya) with engines until this season, when Ganassi switched to Hendrick motors. Of the sport's top eight team owners, Ganassi this season ranks seventh in finishes. Of particular disappointment is Montoya, who is averaging a 27th place finish; Montoya's last top-10 was at Michigan last June, and his last tour win was at Watkins Glen in the summer of 2010. McMurray's seventh at Martinsville last weekend was his best finish in over a year.
Lowe to replace Ross Brawn? Maybe not  UPDATE
Ross Brawn
(GMM)  Toto Wolff has played down suggestions Ross Brawn is definitely set to leave Mercedes.

Earlier, Wolff - the Brackley based team's new director and shareholder - hinted Brawn's future is clouded, having been informed of Mercedes' interest in securing the services of McLaren's Paddy Lowe.

"Ross responded totally professionally and said 'For three years I have not brought the results that were expected.  Therefore it is clear that you would look around for a successor'," Wolff told Die Welt newspaper.

But that was before Lewis Hamilton secured pole in Shanghai, raising the question that if Mercedes is capable of beating all comers on a Saturday, why would the job of the man at the helm be in doubt? More ...

Rumors hint at Sauber sponsor news  
Will Carlos Slim fill those blank Sauber sidepods with one of his companies?
(GMM)  A rumor in the Shanghai paddock is hinting Sauber has secured a major new sponsor.

Veteran correspondent for Blick newspaper, Roger Benoit, said an announcement by the Swiss team could be made ahead of next weekend in Bahrain.

But team boss Monisha Kaltenborn said: "No comment." More ...

Car count for Indy 500 - Briscoe  UPDATE #2 Per this announcement, the Ganassi team has signed Briscoe for the Indy 500.

04/07/13 Pencil Ryan Briscoe alongside Charlie Kimball for a fourth Ganassi car for the Indy 500 according to speed.com.

04/07/13 26 cars are participating at Barber Motorsports Park this weekend for the Honda GP of Alabama.  They are shown below in black.  The rumored or already announced additional cars for the Indy 500 are shown in red, which brings the total to 29 cars.  We can see Foyt, KV Racing and possibly Ganassi adding an additional car, and Panther Racing may as well.  Four more are needed to reach 33 before any bumping can happen - and that appears unlikely at this point. More ...
IndyCar to race at Mugello, Imola or Monza?  Never!  UPDATE #8
F1 will race at Mugello before IndyCar, which is an inward facing domestic series
Fernando Alonso reckons the Mugello Circuit is "more than prepared" to host a Formula 1 race in the future, with the Ferrari driver revealing that of all the available options for an extra Grand Prix, the Italian venue stands out as his firm favorite.

The track staged a three-day Formula 1 test last year, with all teams bar the now defunct HRT in attendance. Feedback was largely positive at the end of the gathering and Alonso is certain that it is capable of living up to the sport's high standards.

"I would love to race at Mugello," Alonso commented during a Twitter Q&A. "I know the circuit well and it’s more than prepared, in every aspect, to be on the calendar." More ...

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