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DATE News (chronologically)
Overheard at Indy  UPDATE #2 Expect a press release Wednesday announcing that Paul Tracy has acquired a new sponsor with a Canadian flavor for the races in Toronto and Edmonton. SPEEDTV.com

05/17/09 Hearing that Tracy may announce a sponsor this week for more than just the two Canada races this summer....could it be GEICO?

05/11/09 We hear that Paul Tracy is close to announcing a big sponsor for his IndyCar effort.........Also hearing that the Scott Sharp accident was bad enough that the car was a near write-off.  The tub had to go to a local carbon shop, Aerodine, to be repaired. More or less the whole right-hand side of the car has been replaced; the gearbox too. The engine actually survived.........We have seen Jeff Simmons, Oriol Servia, Buddy Lazier, Bruno Junqueira, Roger Yasukawa, PJ Jones, and Tomas Scheckter looking for rides to qualify the 2nd weekend.  We hear that Honda must know by this Thursday at the very latest in order to have an engine ready for a driver to attempt to qualify.....The Bombardier sign is mysteriously missing from the Pagoda leaving us to think they are no longer a sponsor of the Indy 500, or have reduced their effort.  Corporate jet sales are way off so we would not be surprised if they backed out......We spotted Gil de Ferran and Takumo Sato a number of times this weekend and rumor is rife that de Ferran Motorsports will add an IndyCar effort before long......If Mike Conway cannot return because of his lung injury, word is that Darren Manning may take over his ride.  "I'm kind of always looking for a ride. But whether one comes available that suits my situation is another matter. It's not like it's going to be my first speedway or anything, so what I'm looking for is different than a rookie, for example. There's no point in me going out in something just bumping into the field and pounding around in the back of the field. Mid- to mid-front pack cars are all full, so I'm just trying to work on my relationship with Dreyer and Reinbold Racing seeing as I've done a couple of races with them this year. There may be an opportunity to do some more this year. It was a bit of unfortunate situation this morning with Mike (Conway). I got the call to kind of be on standby, and I'm fortunate that they've got all my seats and everything and I'm available for it, but I don't think that's going to be needed. I think Mike's going to be absolutely fine. I think we'll see him back out next week, so I'll just concentrate on my deal."
Porsche considering RS Spyder for street  L'Automobile, our new favorite purveyors of outlandish stories and Photoshopped speculation, is reporting that Porsche is considering building a road-going version of the RS Spyder to fill the vacuum created by the dearly departed Carrera GT.

According to the French rumormongers, the RS Spyder's road-legal progeny will measure in at 183 inches (about eight inches longer than a 911) and will consist of a carbon fiber monocoque to keep weight to a minimum. A version of the Spyder's 3.4-liter V8 would be mounted amidships, but will be de-tuned from its current 503 hp (at 10,000 rpm) to around 400 hp. autoblog
Major shakeup coming at Toyota  The word from Japan is that the Toyota Motor Company is about to announce a massive restructuring, following the loss of $7.7bn in the first quarter of the year. It is said that 40% of the senior management of the company will be dropped when new chief executive Akio Toyoda takes control on June 1. He will be the first member of the firm's founding family to have the top job for 14 years, but will be the sixth to hold that position. It is felt within the family that the company has drifted away from its traditional values in the last few years and the change in management is designed to alter the way of thinking within the empire. There are 30 members of the Toyota board of directors, but more than half of them are over 60. Tadashi Yamashina, the head of the motorsport division, is on the board but is one of the younger generation at 57. He says that he has the support of Toyoda for the company to continue in F1 but he admits that things could change given the current state of the automobile markets of the world. Things will become clearer after Toyoda takes control. Grandprix.com
A1GP Dublin race possible  Adam Carroll believes track designing firm Tilke Engineering are planning a visit to Dublin, opening up the possibility that the Irish capital could be set to host an A1GP event.

Team Ireland clinched the 2008/09 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport with Carroll behind the wheel at Brands Hatch earlier this month, and the Portadown racer suspects his home country may be about to book a date on the series' calendar.

Tilke Engineering, led by world famous circuit designer Hermann Tilke, are planning to send a two-man team to analyze the possibility of running a street race around Dublin City.

"My understanding is that Tilke are coming to have a look," Carroll told the Irish News of the World. "They are big, big players in the terms of circuit design.

"They are coming to view Dublin as a potential venue for a street track, which would be fantastic for A1GP and Motorsport in general, especially for Ireland.

"It would be a great venue. It works in so many countries and I have no doubt it would work in Dublin."

Scheckter to Conquest, or is it Coyne?  UPDATE #3  This rumor first broke by AR1.com that Scheckter would have Mona Vie backing is now upgraded to 'fact'.  From Indycar.com: Tomas Scheckter will attempt to make his eighth consecutive start in the Indianapolis 500. The veteran driver, who finished fourth in the race in 2003, will drive the No. 19 MONA-VIE entry for Dale Coyne Racing. Scheckter will be reunited with engineer Bill Pappas, with whom he worked while driving for Target Chip Ganassi Racing in 2003.

Tomas Scheckter
TOMAS SCHECKTER: "I'm happy to be here and looking forward to it. I had a great run at Indy with (engineer) Bill (Pappas), and I like what Dale (Coyne) has done with the team and Justin (Wilson) has done in the car. I'm confident (Pappas) can give me a good car, and what's also good is that we don't have to build a relationship. We understand each other. Hopefully we can get up to speed quickly and start moving the program forward."

DALE COYNE: "We were working on several things in the offseason and talking to him for a while. This kind of came together late, but we have a good second car, and Tomas knows how to get around this place, so we should be fine. Tomas and Justin (Wilson) will be a nice combination."

05/15/09 Another rumor in the paddock says Scheckter signed with Dale Coyne Racing at the last minute instead of Conquest.  If true we should see Scheckter on track today.

05/13/09 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today as we now hear that Scheckter to Conquest is a done deal.

05/12/09 Rumor in the Indy paddock is that Tomas Scheckter will try to qualify one of Conquest Racing's cars in this year's Indy 500 this coming weekend.  One source of funding might be, Mona Vie, the Açaí Berry high anti-oxidant drink, to the tune of around $150K.  Stay tuned as we investigate whether there is any truth to this rumor.....
British GP may not be held in 2010  UPDATE #2 (GMM)  Hot on the heels of Bernie Ecclestone's similar comments, the new promoter of the British grand prix has admitted the race may be absent from next year's calendar.

After a meeting with Donington's Simon Gillett this week, F1 chief executive Ecclestone said that if work on the venue is delayed, "we would be happy to skip a year".

Gillett's project, scheduled for a F1 debut in 2010, has been dogged by negative speculation, amid reports of questionable finance and legal actions.

The latest snippet of bad news, for example, is that a catering firm is owed 46,000 pounds sterling.

But on Thursday Gillett was quoted as insisting that formula one's historic British event is "safe" even if it may not take place mid next year. More ...

BMW to be next to issue F1 quit threat  (GMM)  The latest strong rumor in the budget cap row is that BMW is set to become the next car manufacturer to threaten to quit formula one.

The German squad's F1 chief Mario Theissen hinted at the move in Barcelona last weekend, but subsequently Ferrari, Toyota, Renault and Red Bull made clear declarations of their intentions to miss the May 29 deadline for 2010 team entries.

Giving weight to the BMW speculation on Thursday was Jean-Francois Gaubet, who as a Renault spokesman was quoted as commenting to Europe 1 radio that all the carmakers involved in formula one are united.

"All of us - Mercedes, Toyota, BMW, Renault and Ferrari - are on the same page," he said.

"We have until May 29 to register ourselves for the championship of 2010, and as long as the regulations are as they stand, we will not be registering," Gaubet insisted. More ...

Pantano to replace Bourdais?  UPDATE #2 Already rumored by AutoRacing1.com way back on April 23rd, new rumors in the Italian press have shed fresh doubts on the future in formula one of the sport's only French driver.

The rumors suggest that Sebastien Bourdais, who has scored one point so far in 2009 compared with his rookie teammate Sebastien Buemi's three, is on the brink of being ousted by Toro Rosso.

Giorgio Pantano
The name linked with the potentially vacant Red Bull-sponsored seat is Giorgio Pantano, who despite winning last year's GP2 championship was left without a job in the premier series for 2009.

30-year-old Italian Pantano, who actually contested most of the 2004 season for Jordan, was said to have been preparing to race in the Renault Eurocup series this year, but may now have delayed that debut.

05/03/09 We also hear that NHLR would consider running a third car at Indy for Sebastien Bourdais should he be sacked by the Toro Rosso F1 team by then.

04/23/09 According to rumors we are hearing in the F1 paddock, Sebastien Bourdais, who has been beaten handily by two straight teammates now, is at risk of losing his F1 seat and Italian GP2 ace Giorgio Pantano's name is being mentioned as a possible replacement.
Adam Carroll set for F1 debut with Lola?  UPDATE See related Lola F1 announcement today.

Adam Carroll
04/29/09 Having flirted with the top flight before as a test driver for BAR-Honda back in 2005, it looks like leading A1GP star Adam Carroll may yet get an opportunity to break into Formula 1 – with suggestions the Irishman is in the frame at Lola as the illustrious British company is eyeing a return to the sport in its new budget-capped, low-cost era next year.

Thanks to Carroll’s efforts, Ireland currently sits a close second in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport title chase heading towards the final round at Brands Hatch at the beginning of next month, and the man from Portadown will bid to overturn the scant two-point deficit separating the emerald entry from defending champions Switzerland when he takes to the track to duel it out for glory in the nearest he will get to a ‘home’ meeting in the nation vs. nation series. More ...

Now Renault to join F1 quit threat  UPDATE #2
Renault statement in Full:

Renault and ING Renault F1 Team Statement - 13 MAY 2009

The decision of the Federation International de l’Automobile (FIA) to introduce two sets of Formula One technical regulations for the 2010 Formula One season has caused the Renault Group to reconsider its entry in next year’s FIA Formula One World Championship.

There is frustration that FOTA’s constructive proposals, including major cost saving measures to be adopted progressively between 2009 and 2012, which were carefully constructed by FOTA members, have been completely ignored without any form of consultation by the FIA with the teams.

It should be stressed that FOTA has set the same, if not lower, financial objective as the FIA, but Renault strongly believes that this must be introduced through a different procedure agreed by all parties.

Renault also believes that it is paramount that the governance of the sport is coordinated with a spirit of consultation with all parties (FIA, FOM, FOTA) in order to achieve a better balance between the costs and the revenues. Renault is also of the firm view that all entrants in the World Championship must adhere to and operate under the same regulations.

President of the ING Renault F1 Team, Bernard Rey, commented: “Renault has always considered Formula One as the pinnacle of motor sport and the perfect stage to demonstrate technical excellence. We remain committed to the sport, however we cannot be involved in a championship operating with different sets of rules, and if such rules are put into effect, we will be forced to pull out at the end of this season.” More ...

Audi to withdraw from LeMans  The German motorsports newspaper "Motor Sport Aktuell" reports that Audi might be withdrawing from Le Mans due to a recent change within the rules. Apparently Audi received a Fax from the ACO concerning several rule changes, one of which was on tires.  Recently Audi had a 32 hr. test at Paul Ricard, and they will go there again for a new test of 30 hrs., supposedly to test the ACO changes.

Another rumor we hear is that Audi might drop the development of the R15 TDI and DTM R14 Plus after Le Mans in order to concentrate on the R8 LMS GT3 Project.

Given the economic climate, will GT3 be the future for German manufacturers, or is Audi cutting back to use the money for a rumored possible IndyCar effort?

Penske eyes F1  Midweek Motorsport correspondent Nick Daman, was at the Spa 1000kms last weekend and rumor in the paddock was that Penske Racing are undertaking a feasibility study with regards to entering F1 in the near future. They are unlikely to build their own chassis and will look to partner with another company.

They will have more details on the show live today.  'Midweek Motorsport' at www.radiolemans.com is on air at 3pm EST, the podcast will be available for download at 6pm EST from www.radiolemans.com and iTunes.

Rahal team to take another crack at Indy?  UPDATE #3 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.

05/07/09 Oriol Servia is expected to be confirmed today as the driver of the No. 17 car for Rahal Letterman Racing. IndyStar

05/06/09 Hearing that Oriol Servia may drive the Rahal entry at Indy........

Rahal car painted as Dan Gurney replica
After an off-season of uncertainty, it appears one of the most popular teams in IndyCar racing is ready for another crack at the 500.

Rahal Letterman Racing hasn't appeared in the series in 2009 after losing last year's sponsor Ethanol.

Team owner Bobby Rahal said several times during the offseason that he was hopeful to have an Indy 500 program, and today the team unloaded their car from their hauler, which was still painted in the colors of last year's Ethanol ride.

Right now, the car is a painted as a throwback, and a homage to the great Dan Gurney, one of Bobby Rahal's racing heroes.

The number 17 is painted to resemble one of Gurney's famous Eagles from the 1960's.

No driver has been named to the Rahal Letterman Racing team as of yet.  WishTV

GM to build cars in China  A GM planning document given to lawmakers by General Motors reportedly shows that the Detroit-based automaker plans to ship 17,335 autos from China for sale in the U.S. in 2011. If GM succeeds in importing vehicles to the U.S. from China, it could be the first automaker to do so.

The document doesn't show which vehicle would be brought over from the land of the Great Wall (we'd take the Buick Regal, above), but it does provide GM's volume plans through 2014. By that time, GM plans to triple its China to U.S. exports to 51,546 units. While 51,546 sounds like a lot of cars, it only represents 1.6% of the planned 3.1 million (perhaps optimistic) sales the General is expecting five years from now.

Regardless of the quantity of vehicles coming in from China, union leaders are none too pleased with the development, says Automotive News. The 12-page document also showed increased production in Mexico, with annual units rising from 317,763 in 2010 to 501,316 in 2014. South Korea, which will likely make new vehicles like the Chevrolet Spark, will increase production from 36,967 in 2010 to 157,126 in 2014. In an open letter, UAW legislative director Alan Reuther has gone on record saying that GM "should not be taking taxpayers' money simply to finance the outsourcing of jobs to other countries." Autoblog

Schu was seriously injured in February fall  (GMM)  Michael Schumacher was injured more seriously in his February motorcycling crash than he let on, the authoritative Swiss newspaper Blick claims.

While testing for this year's German Superbike series at the Cartagena track in Spain, the retired seven time world champion fell at high speed and was hospitalized.

Schumacher, 40, claimed that hospital checks showed no significant injuries, but Blick insists the German sustained severe concussion and two broken ribs.

On his latest visit to the F1 paddock last weekend, meanwhile, it was rumored that Schumacher - still unable to ride a bike or even fully turn his head due to a stiff neck - may also have fractured a vertebrae in the fall.

His spokeswoman Sabine Kehm said: "We do not take part in speculation."

It is rumored that Schumacher still receives treatment for his injuries in the Bad-Nauheim hospital, but the Sportklinic's Dr Johannes Peil also refused to comment.

And spokeswoman Kehm insisted: "Once he is again fully fit, he would like to ride motorcycles again."

NASCAR: New evidence that Dodge, Chevy may be forced to cut back  Much has been made of the extent to which Chrysler and General Motors' financial problems might impact their NASCAR participation. With Chrysler filing for bankruptcy, and General Motors expected to follow suit within the next 10 days, there is cause for concern. Dodge executives have said all the right things regarding the company’s participation in NASCAR -- that, despite the bankruptcy, no changes were planned. Now, there is evidence that it may be beyond their control. According to Automotive News, Chrysler wanted to spend $134 million in advertising over the nine weeks it is expected to be in bankruptcy, but the U.S. Treasury's auto industry task force gave it half that. “So if General Motors, which is wrestling with the possibility of a Chapter 11 filing itself, is wondering how much influence the task force will have over marketing, the answer is plenty,” the publication said. “Transcripts from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, which is hearing the Chrysler case, showed that the task force at least understands that advertising is a necessary expense -- even if it doesn't think Chrysler needs $134 million for nine weeks of car ads.” Meaning what? Meaning that, under bankruptcy -- and remaining in business primarily using government money -- the government is not hesitating to tell the manufacturers how much money they can spend on marketing, which is where the lion's share of motorsports funding comes from. Very little -- less than ever -- comes from research and development. If the government is willing to cut Chrysler's marketing allocation in half -- and that's half of what Chrysler was asking for, not half of what it is used to spending -- then it may be a tough sell to convince the feds that taxpayer dollars should go towards supporting Dodge, which has won just one race this year, Kurt Busch's victory at Atlanta. Orlando Sentinel
Abu Dhabi F1 handover may be late  (GMM)  Abu Dhabi may not be able to hand over the keys to the new Yas Marina circuit by its three month deadline, an official has admitted.

Speculation about delays has dogged the venue of November's 2009 season finale, but project deputy director Douglas MacAskill insists the United Arab Emirates capital will be ready for the race.

However, a slight delay in the actual handover to the FIA is possible, he admitted.

"According to the rules, we have to hand over the circuit three months before the race, but seeing as we have a good relationship with the formula one teams, that period could be reduced to 60 days," he said.

"We are working 24 hours a day and everything will be ready on time, I have no doubt about that," the Canadian added.

Britain could be absent from 2010 F1 calendar  (GMM)  Britain could be absent from the calendar for a year and then return in 2011, Bernie Ecclestone said after a meeting with Donington's Simon Gillett.

The F1 chief executive's interview with The Times newspaper followed speculation that the Leicestershire track, scheduled to take over from Silverstone as British grand prix host next year, may not be ready.

Ecclestone said one possibility is a stay of execution for one year followed by a delayed race debut in 2011.

"If the work at Donington is not finished in time, we would be happy to skip a year," the 78-year-old Briton said, ruling out speculation that Silverstone could host the 2010 race instead.

"I don't want to lose the British grand prix, that's the last thing we want to do, but we aren't going to Silverstone for sure," added Ecclestone.

GM to move out of Detroit?  Is General Motors thinking about moving its corporate headquarters from Detroit?  GM CEO Fritz Henderson didn’t rule out the idea today in a conference call with reporters.

He stressed that there wasn’t a plan currently to do so but noted that the struggling automaker is looking at every idea to improve its business.

“We’re looking, frankly, at everything within our business but it’s not like we have that queued up at the top of our list. As we look at the structure, look at the business, we’re looking at everything,” Henderson said. “At this point, I don’t really have anything to report. Our headquarters is here, we’ve got a fairly large complement of people here. And we’re proud to be here.”

Henderson added: “We don’t have … such plans but if we did, it would be motivated by business rationale, which would be cost, efficiency and speed.”

GM faces a June 1 deadline to restructure its debt or face bankruptcy. The company is staying afloat on a $15.4-billion federal loan and has said it needs $11.6 billion more to keep operating.

Henderson said that it is still more probable that GM will file for bankruptcy, but he noted there is still an opportunity to restructure outside of court.

KERS may be compulsory in 2010  (GMM)  KERS may be compulsory for all teams and drivers in formula one next year.

It was already known that, following the voluntary deployment of the energy re-use technology in 2009, the teams' alliance FOTA was considering shortly putting out a tender for a universal KERS supplier next season.

But according to broadcaster Peter Windsor, involved with the prospective American entry USF1, it may actually be compulsory to fit active KERS systems to cars in 2010.

"If it's a choice we probably would not go with KERS, but it's potentially going to be mandatory for every team and we have to presume that's going to be the case," he is quoted as saying by the online magazine GP Week.

However, Windsor admitted that the situation could change "in a few months' time".

Meanwhile, Renault team boss Flavio Briatore said he objects to the current 'two-tier' situation, where some cars have the KERS power boost, while others do not.

The Italian told Spain's Sport newspaper: "KERS should be for everybody, or for nobody."

Spanish teams eyeing cheaper F1  (GMM)  Another potential entry has joined the ranks of those queuing for a place in F1's budget-capped future.

Spain's Marca newspaper reports that Joan Villadelprat, a former F1 team official who now runs a Le Mans outfit Epsilon Euskadi, believes he can compile a 40m pounds sterling budget for 2010.

"I have the site, the wind tunnel with the appropriate scale, the determination, everything," said Villadelprat, a Spaniard who worked with Minardi, Benetton, Ferrari, McLaren, Tyrrell, Benetton and Prost.

It is also reported that Alfonso de Orleans, boss of the GP2 team Racing Engineering, is working on a F1 project for 2011.

Merc star may be added to Brawn car  (GMM)  Given Brawn's dominance and McLaren's struggles, Mercedes-Benz is considering adding corporate branding to the championship-leading BGP001 car.

Brawn GP's use of the Stuttgart marque's engines this year is simply a customer deal, but the package has won four out of the five races so far this season, and is leading the drivers' and constructors' championships.

A three-pointed star was not in Mercedes' original plans for the Brawn linkup, but Norbert Haug said after the Spanish grand prix that the scenario is now being "considered".

"We have possibilities and options and it has been offered to us," the German, Mercedes' competition boss, is quoted as saying by the broadcaster RTL.

However, the 56-year-old added that Mercedes does not want to "divert" from its works relationship with McLaren, winner of the 2008 drivers' title with Lewis Hamilton.

Manning to replace Conway?  Indianapolis 500 veteran Darren Manning was in Gasoline Alley today, looking for opportunities for a ride in the 2009 Indianapolis 500.

DARREN MANNING: "I'm kind of always looking for a ride. But whether one comes available that suits my situation is another matter. It's not like it's going to be my first speedway or anything, so what I'm looking for is different than a rookie, for example. There's no point in me going out in something just bumping into the field and pounding around in the back of the field. Mid- to mid-front pack cars are all full, so I'm just trying to work on my relationship with Dreyer and Reinbold Racing seeing as I've done a couple of races with them this year. There may be an opportunity to do some more this year. It was a bit of unfortunate situation this morning with Mike (Conway). I got the call to kind of be on stand-by, and I'm fortunate that they've got all my seats and everything and I'm available for it, but I don't think that's going to be needed. I think Mike's going to be absolutely fine. I think we'll see him back out next week, so I'll just concentrate on my deal. I've got Grand-Am racing that I'm doing and hopefully a few more races with these guys, and work on something for next year, as well." IndyCar

Tension between Ferrari and Raikkonen - rumor  (GMM)  Rumors in the Barcelona paddock indicate that tension between Kimi Raikkonen and the Ferrari management is growing.

Officially, the Italian team was willing to take the blame for the serious strategy error that left the Finn just sixteenth on the grid for the Spanish grand prix.

But Raikkonen, 29, also admitted his own role.  "I certainly wasn't keen on doing another run," he said of the Q1 debacle. More ...

More teams could snub 2010 F1 entry deadline  (GMM)  Toyota is not the only team that could threaten to quit formula one over the budget cap row.

When confirming reports that the Japanese outfit may not submit an official 2010 entry by the May 29 deadline, team president John Howett said in Barcelona: "I don't think that is a unique opinion among other competitors."

The big-spending teams are furious that they have been pushed into a corner to accept Max Mosley's vision for a 40m pounds sterling spending limit next year.

The official line is that it is the so-called 'two-tier' element that they don't like, but Williams' Patrick Head pointed out in Spain that - if pushed through - sensible teams will have no option but to agree to the cap.

One of the technical freedoms for capped teams next year is an adjustable rear wing, and Head noted that it alone will deliver "a second-and-a-half, two seconds a lap" advantage.

"Now, no amount of expenditure anywhere else will make up for that difference," the Briton said.

Many seasoned observers are predicting a huge and messy fight, with Bernie Ecclestone - in control of the sport's commercial income - said to be ready to side with the FIA.

Howett told Reuters: "I used to believe that common sense would prevail, but I have to say that I'm becoming more pessimistic that it does."

An unnamed FIA representative told the Times newspaper: "It could be that some manufacturers might use this conflict as an excuse to leave F1, when the real reason may be more to do with the economy."

It is believed that FIA president Mosley, despite the recent death of his son, is willing to meet with teams in London next week.

Changes coming to Talladega and Daytona?  NASCAR officials, in response to #99-Carl Edwards' flip at Daytona, are now studying that slight aerodynamic rear spoiler wing change suggested by Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, according to one top Sprint Cup team manager privy to the technical debate. In fact that change might have been tested at Daytona within the past few days, during the 10-team Goodyear tire test for the tour's next restrictor plate race, at Daytona July 4th. Despite the high publicity surrounding the Talladega issue, crews here Darlington this week have so far been reluctant to discuss any possible NASCAR changes at the tour's two restrictor plate tracks. Goodyear officials said the Daytona tire testing was to improve stability in the draft. mikemulhern.net
2nd American F1 team in works?  Bernie Ecclestone has revealed a second American team is looking to join Formula One next season.

US F1 announced their potential entry earlier this year, although confirmation of that will have to wait for the political row between the current teams and the FIA to be resolved.

With Ecclestone now announcing a second US team is waiting in the wings, it will prompt speculation regarding such giants as Penske or Andretti Racing Green.

"There's two American teams," confirmed Ecclestone at the launch of a Formula One credit card.

"It will be good to see some new faces. Something like that (a change) is always good.

"When you think about it, who would have thought we would be talking about Brawn and Red Bull the way we are talking about them now."

However, before any new entrants are confirmed, the battle of the budget must be settled. More at Sporting Life

GM to use American tax dollars to create jobs overseas  The U.S. government is pouring billions into General Motors in hopes of reviving the domestic economy, but when the automaker completes its restructuring plan, many of the company's new jobs will be filled by workers overseas.

According to an outline the company has been sharing privately with Washington legislators, the number of cars that GM sells in the United States and builds in Mexico, China and South Korea will roughly double.

The proportion of GM cars sold domestically and manufactured in those low-wage countries will rise from 15 percent to 23 percent over the next five years, according to the figures contained in a 12-page presentation offered to lawmakers in response to their questions about overseas production.

As a result, the long-simmering argument over U.S. manufacturers expanding production overseas -- normally arising between unions and private companies -- is about to engage the Obama administration. More ...

Junqueira close to possible Indy ride?  Five-time Indianapolis 500 starter Bruno Junqueira is in the garage area meeting with teams in hopes of landing a ride for the race. Junqueira won the pole for the race in 2002 and recorded fifth-place finishes in 2001 and 2004. Last year, he finished 20th.

"This year is a little bit different. I should be in a car trying to get the pole like I did in previous years, but this year I'm trying to get a car to race. I'm talking to pretty much every single team in the paddock. I hope I can get something for the second week. My experience here; I think I can win starting from the back."

"People want to get their drivers qualified in the first week then they're going to think about doing a second car.  Maybe three teams have shown some interest. Let's wait and see."

Vettel negotiates 'title bonus' for contract  (GMM)  Sebastian Vettel has hastily negotiated a new clause for his 2009 Red Bull contract according to unconfirmed reports.

Pre-season, the 21-year-old did not imagine the possibility that he would be a leading candidate to win the drivers' title.

Most top drivers' contracts include the promise of a financial bonus in the event of a world championship triumph.

Germany's Bild newspaper reported that, with the assistance of his father Norbert, Vettel convinced team boss Christian Horner to offer a 10 per cent title bonus.

It is therefore estimated that Vettel will be paid an additional 350,000 (euros) on top of his 3.5m retainer if he beats his rivals to the crown.

Horner confirmed: "It would have been stupid if he didn't want that (clause), and Sebastian is absolutely not stupid."

Budweiser to sponsor Toronto race  Look for Budweiser to be announced by Andretti Green Toronto as the official beer of the Toronto IndyCar race in July.  Word is that it is a fairly sizeable deal and it is for multiple years.
Bell to drive for KV Racing Technology at Indy  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'Fact' with the announcement from KV Racing Technology today.

05/07/09 Townsend Bell is due to be the driver of KV Racing Technology's No. 8 car at Indy today. IndyStar
China's Geely to buys GM's Saab  Chinese automaker Geely Automobile Holdings said Thursday it is bidding for General Motors Corp.'s Saab brand, a move that would boost the company's ability to compete overseas. Staff at Geely's headquarters would not give any details.

"You know, it's not finalized yet. It's not convenient to talk about it when the negotiations are ongoing. We'll of course release the news if we get the deal," said Zhang Xiaoshu, an employee in Geely's public relations department.

Ailing U.S. auto giant GM plans to sell off or wind down its Hummer, Saab and Saturn units.

Geely, based in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, is among several big Chinese automakers viewed as likely candidates to acquire at least one of those brands. It has denied reports it is also bidding for Ford Motor Co.'s Swedish unit Volvo, although the reports persist.

Geely executives reportedly recently visited Sweden, further fanning rumors that it plans to bid for one or both of the Swedish automakers.

Renault scraps KERS until September?  
Renault to ditch KERS for now
(GMM)  Renault has abandoned KERS at least for the next seven races, the Spanish sports newspaper Diario AS claims.

It was already known that the French squad will not be fitting the controversial energy re-use technology to its R29 car at the forthcoming Spanish and Monaco grands prix.

But AS claims that, after investigations about the effect on performance of the increase in centre of gravity by 4 centimeters, Renault has for now put its KERS units aside.

The newspaper said Spaniard Fernando Alonso wants to reconsider KERS only for the high speed circuits at Spa and Monza, to take place consecutively in late August and early September.

Mosley son found dead of drug overdose  UPDATE #2 Police confirmed he had suffered a drugs overdose – just months after a newspaper printed photos of Max Mosley taking part in an S&M orgy. The F1 supremo said later the shame of the revelations had “humiliated” his family.

“Can you imagine seeing pictures like that of your father? It’s just appalling,” he said.

He added: “I don’t think there is anything worse for a son than to see in a newspaper, particularly one like the News Of The World, pictures of the kind they printed.

“I can think of nothing more undignified or humiliating than that.”

Alexander Mosley
A neighbor told how Alexander Mosley had battled with a serious drug habit but had also been clean for long periods. The neighbor, who declined to be named, said: “Alexander was a very troubled guy. He was too rich, too young and he had problems, and they haunted him to the end.

“I knew him socially. He was a very cultured man. I knew him and a former girlfriend, who I believe he had met while they were both undergoing treatment. He stayed with me in France a few years ago while he was on a road trip with his girlfriend and he was clean then, clean and happy.  He has obviously bought something and it was too strong and it killed him. I just hope they catch whoever sold it.”

Yesterday former F1 team boss Eddie Jordan said: “Max and Alexander particularly were very close.”

He said father and son shared “a great intellect” and described Alex as a “hugely clever and talented computer expert”.

Mr. Jordan added: “It’s totally tragic, he was such a bright boy. I’m devastated for them.”

But one neighbor, who refused to be named, said: “I don’t think it was a big secret that he was a heroin user. “I’m not going to complain, I don’t think his lifestyle imposed on others in the street.  It is very sad what’s happened. I didn’t know him well.”

Another neighbor, retired psychologist Steve Abrams, 70, said: “I saw Alex Mosley and another guy go into the house about an hour before the police showed up. The police arrived just after 4.30pm. Then a private ambulance showed up."  See related article.

05/06/09 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  F1's governing body on Wednesday confirmed the death of Alexander Mosley, the 39-year-old son of FIA president Max Mosley. It was reported that Dr Mosley, a restaurateur and economist, was found dead on Tuesday afternoon by a relative in his West London home and could not be revived by paramedics.

05/06/09 (GMM)  The son of FIA president Max Mosley has died of a suspected drug overdose, the British newspaper The Sun reported on Wednesday.

39-year-old Dr Alexander Mosley, a respected economist, was reportedly found dead by a relative in his West London home and could not be revived by paramedics.

"We were called at 16.20pm on Tuesday to reports of a male found dead at a property in W11 (Notting Hill)," said Metropolitan Police.  "He was pronounced dead at the scene.  The man is in his late 30s.

"We believe we know the identity of the deceased.  The coroner's office has been informed," the police added.

Mosley's other son, Patrick, is 37.

Adam Carroll looking at Indy Cars  A1GP Team Ireland boss Mark Gallagher has told setanta.com that Adam Carroll has made a promise to drive for the squad whenever it is plausible, even if he secures a widely mooted move to Formula 1 in 2010.

Ireland secured the 2008/09 A1 championship title in style at Brands Hatch, as Carroll won both the sprint and feature races.

Carroll, who also has vast GP2 experience, was in phenomenal form throughout the campaign and is rumored to be on course to earn an F1 race seat for the 2010 campaign, possibly with the proposed Lola team.

The Portadown racer, however, is also being heavily linked with a possible move to the Indy Racing League but, either way, Carroll’s progression would make Gallagher glow with pride.

“If Adam was to launch his career into IRL or F1, we’d be the first people to congratulate him and support him because, after two years with us, it would be a great result for him to go upwards into competing in races like the Indy 500 or in Formula 1 events,” Gallagher told setanta.com.

Ireland’s team principal and seat holder revealed: “He has made a pledge to me. Whatever he goes on to do – if he does go to IRL or F1 – he has promised me he would come back and drive for Team Ireland in the races that he could do. More ...

Kahne hints at Petty-Toyota switch  
Kasey Kahne
Could a possible move to Toyota have delayed the development of the new Dodge engine at Richard Petty Motorsports? According to RPM driver Kasey Kahne, that was one of several possible answers he's heard to his questions about RPM's development of the engine, which is already being used by Penske Racing. "It depends on who you talk to. Some people say Dodge, some people say money, some people say we're taking a break and going to Toyota," the driver told reporters Monday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "There's all different ways to look at it and say, 'Why aren't we running it?' I have my own theory on it all, but it's just a theory." Charlotte Observer
Smith close to signing for 2010 ride?  UPDATE Regan Smith and Furniture Row Racing have been discussing an arrangement for 2010. The number of races has not been determined at this time -- the ultimate is to have Smith run a full schedule in the #78. Furniture Row Racing is currently working on sponsorship opportunities and is optimistic about 2010. Furniture Row Racing PR

05/05/09 Reigning Sprint Cup rookie of the year #78-Regan Smith appears close to signing a deal for a fulltime ride in 2010. Smith lost his ride at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing before the start of this season due to lack of sponsorship. He has competed in five events for Furniture Row Racing, with a season-best 15th at Talladega two weeks ago. Smith finished all 34 races he qualified for last season in the #01 at Dale Earnhardt Inc., which has since merged with Ganassi Racing. ESPN Insider
F1 contract protects British GP  UPDATE #2 Max Mosley has added his voice to the controversy surrounding the future of the British Grand Prix. The President of the FIA said today that that body could not force Bernie Ecclestone to hold a Grand Prix in Britain.

In recent days certain leading figures in the debate, including British Racing Drivers Club Chairman Damon Hill, have suggested that the sport is duty-bound to retain certain historical events to preserve its core audience and legacy. The sport’s constitution, the Concorde Agreement, is thought to contain a proviso to that effect.

But Mosley hinted there would be a way of circumventing any agreement, written or otherwise, to which the FIA could be held.

“The FIA’s deal with Bernie means he cannot present a calendar without the traditional Grand Prix,” he told The Guardian. “However, it is not our role to insist that a Grand Prix takes place in a sub- standard venue.

“Just like people who want the World Cup or the Olympic Games have to pay the going rate, what we cannot do is to force Bernie to race below the going rate,” said Mosley.

05/05/09 (GMM)  Two central figures have played down reports that contractual protections could safeguard Britain's traditional spot on the formula one calendar.

It emerged this week that not only are key European events singled out for protection by the FIA, the same special status for the races is mentioned in F1's separate commercial arrangements.

Damon Hill
But Damon Hill, president of the Silverstone-owning British Racing Drivers' Club, said the potential demise of Donington's 2010 contract would not mean the automatic reversion to another British venue.

Referring to the protection clauses for key races including the British grand prix, he said: "It's always been a statement of intention rather than a solid agreement.

"The trouble is, there is no way of enforcing it," Hill told the Daily Telegraph.

FIA president Max Mosley agrees that while some races do have protected status, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone is not stringently bound to maintaining those events.

"The FIA's deal with Bernie means he cannot present a calendar without the traditional grands prix," he told The Guardian.

"However it is not our role to insist that a grand prix takes place in a sub- standard venue.

"Just like people who want the World Cup or the Olympic Games have to pay the going rate, what we cannot do is to force Bernie to race below the going rate," said Mosley. More ...

F1 to introduce standard KERS  The future of KERS came under question last week and despite Flavio Briatore claiming FOTA wants rid of the system altogether, it seems either a cheap customer option or standardized system will come into place for 2010.

There was much talk of the exciting new technology ahead of the season and once the rather inconvenient problems with electronic discharge through mechanics and drivers were solved there seemed to be a general confidence that the concept was worth investing in, for the sake of Formula One and the future of cars on the road.

But the cost and time of developing the systems, when so many other new rule changes had been introduced for the 2009 season, prevented all but the richest teams from developing KERS systems in time for the start of the season.

If the standardized KERS solution is voted in, those that have not finalized their designs will need to decide whether the advantage it gives is worth spending all that money to get it on their cars later in the year only for their work to be rendered meaningless and of no advantage by its end.

Needless to say, you would expect those with KERS to likely be fighting for individual team designs to continue while those who spent the money on developing their cars rather than their KERS will be very keen to be handed a solution on a plate. Yahoo! Sports

Ferrari to design Prototype or even IndyCar engine?  With F1 looking to enact budget caps, rumors have emerged that Ferrari could be on their way back to the top flight of sportscar racing, or to Indy under the Maserati nameplate.

One major sign of this is the fact that Ferrari boss - Luca di Montezemolo will be the race starter at the 2009, 24 Hours of Le Mans. Other Ferrari brass will be in attendance at the French classic. Additionally, as the F1 budget cap arguments escalate, Ferrari have been making more and more claims about their future in F1.

"Le Mans is synonymous with technologically-advanced sporting competition and has always been a focus of great attention on our part," said di Montezemolo.

Another Ferrari motivation could be the fact that they want to keep their staff employed as budget caps come into force meaning a reduction in F1 staff.

Ferrari could have a lot of spare capacity and this could go to sportscar, or an Indy program. The problem with Indy is that Ferrari does not want to pit its brand against a Honda or VW, which are considered middle class cars, but to beat an Audi at LeMans, that they would like to do.  So if they do go ahead with an Indy program it would be under the Fiat or Alfa Romeo nameplate.  Now if the IRL could convince Honda to run the Acura brand, and VW the Audi brand, then Ferrari or Maserati might badge an IndyCar engine.

Middle East branding for Richards' F1 team  
Dave Richards
(GMM)  A third and most likely option for the branding of a David Richards-headed formula one team has emerged.

We reported recently that the former Benetton and BAR boss was likely to launch his prospective budget-capped team in 2010 as either Prodrive or Aston Martin.

But as he travels to the Middle East for talks with investors, the 56-year-old admits that identifying his team with the region is actually the front-running option.

"I am looking seriously at that ... option, that's why I'm here," he is quoted as saying by the Abu Dhabi newspaper The National. More ...

Senna had a death wish?  
1990 Italian GP - Prost (L) Senna (C) Berger (R).  Senna beat Prost many times
Great rivalries are among the glories of sport, and Malcolm Folley's book Prost Versus Senna, published this week, examines one of the most fascinating. In it, Prost gives his evaluation not just of the relationship between the two world champions but Senna's character. The result on Sunday was a story headlined "Tragic Senna had a death wish, says Prost", based on a quote from the book. "Ayrton was prepared to be in a crash – and maybe kill himself," he told Folley. Prost may have won 51 grands prix and four world titles, but he is talking rubbish. Like most racing drivers, Senna accepted the possibility of injury or even death. But to say he was "prepared" to kill himself is to distort the racer's instinct to store danger in the most inaccessible of the mind's strong-boxes, and to throw away the key. Guardian.co.uk
Penske to farm out Power to Luczo Dragon  
Power ran with Verizon Wireless sponsorship in Long Beach
Rather than run a third car for Will Power at Indy, Robin Miller reported on Wind Tunnel Sunday night that Penske may place Power at his son Jay Penske's Indy Car team, Luczo Dragon, for Indy and the remainder of the season to team with rookie Raphael Matos.  Don't be surprised if Verizon Wireless stays with Power on that car.  Power ran Verizon Wireless sponsorship in Long Beach.
Was Bernie's Most Wins scheme a ploy?  UPDATE (GMM)  The controversial 'winner takes all' scoring system has been rubber stamped for introduction in 2010 by the FIA World Motor Sport Council.

The governing body tried to introduce Bernie Ecclestone's favored system this year, but the late change was vetoed by the F1 teams alliance FOTA.

We reported in March that the FIA would consult the teams before trying to introduce the system for 2010, but the new sporting regulations for next year already feature the controversial rule.

Article 6 states that the drivers' title "will be awarded to the driver who has been classified first in the greatest number of races".

The news has until now slipped the attention of the media because - unlike all other changes to the rules - the amended rule was not highlighted in pink and underlined in copies of the 2010 sporting regulations.

The FIA also confirmed that, accompanying the ban on race refueling next year, drivers in 'Q3' can refuel under parc ferme conditions prior to the race.

This change ensures the spectacle of low-fuel dashes for pole position, not affected by varying race strategies.

05/03/09 The new F1 rules for 2010 make no mention of a change in the points system.

In March the FIA announced at Bernie Ecclestone's urging that the championship winner this year would be the driver that won the most races. However that plan was abandoned after several F1 teams pointed out the rule could not be introduced so close to the start of the season.

The FIA declared that the ‘most wins’ system “will be deferred until 2010″. But the sporting regulations for 2010 published last week describes the same 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 points system used since 2003.

Some claimed the FIA never intended to use a ‘most wins’ system - that they announced it in March to deflect attention away from another controversial plan, namely the proposed introduction of budget caps.

Raines to replace Andretti in #34 during Indy 500 conflicts  Tony Raines said Saturday that he would be surprised if he is not in the #34 NASCAR Sprint Cup car for Front Row Motorsports next week at Darlington Raceway while John Andretti attempts to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. Team owner Bob Jenkins has said that Raines would likely fill that seat for the events at Darlington and Lowe’s Motor Speedway while Andretti is in Indianapolis. Raines competes for the team in the Nationwide Series and has run in select Cup races for the team this year. Scene Daily
Mosley on mission to bring Ferrari down a notch  UPDATE (GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has vowed to prevent the brawl between Max Mosley and Luca di Montezemolo turning into all-out war.

After Ferrari president Montezemolo - furious about the FIA president's budget capping - hinted that the famous marque could walk away from F1, Mosley replied by insisting the sport could survive without the Prancing Horse.

The Times newspaper claims some Ferrari figures believe Mosley wants to "destroy" Montezemolo, but Ecclestone insists: "I won't let it happen."

The 78-year-old F1 chief executive said: "The trouble with Max is he's not capable, like in the past, of wrapping things up nicely with a pink ribbon and things.  He wants to put it in an old cardboard box and tie it with string."

Briton Ecclestone believes the row is equally the fault of flamboyant Montezemolo.

"The trouble with Luca is that you shouldn't let Max ever be in a position where he can start a debate or an argument.  He's reasonably clever and you won't win," he added.

Ecclestone seems happy to play the mediator in negotiations about the budget cap, after the World Motor Sport Council last week set a voluntary figure at 40m pounds sterling.

"It would appear that everyone is in favor of the cap, including Ferrari, if we can get them to agree, which we can," Ecclestone told the newspaper.

"However, there is concern over the amount that is referred to in the cap for some of the teams and also the two-tier system.  So these are probably not monumental things to sort out," he added.

The Times suggests that one outcome could be an increase in the cap to 60m, with a steady reduction to 40m by 2012. More ...

Philippe looking for ride  We hear that Richard Philippe is back looking for an Indy Lights ride.  Apparently he had a 3 race contract with the Genoa team and as of right now he will not run the Freedom 100 at Indy.  We hear he is now looking for sponsors and for substantially Indy Lights subsidized rides.
Dodge out of NASCAR in 2010  UPDATE #2 Roger Penske denied on Saturday a report that Chrysler will pull its support from NASCAR after this season. The Sports Illustrated report came on Friday after Chrysler announced it would file for bankruptcy protection and form a partnership with Italian automaker Fiat SpA. "Chrysler guys contacted us and said they were going to continue to support NASCAR," said Penske, the owner of Penske Racing and several Chrysler dealerships. "Hopefully, they can do that based on what the government allows them to do. We're cautiously optimistic right now.'" Penske is a close friend of Chrysler chairman Robert Nardelli, who reportedly will step down after the bankruptcy process is complete. Although the manufacturer has cut some financial support, he has been given no indication that it will pull out of the sport. ESPN.com

05/02/09 From a press conference Friday at Richmond:
A: "Well, I'd like to be in Cup full time next year. I sat out this year because I didn't think that the timing was right and I didn't think I was ready for a full schedule. And I wanted to do this right as far as the Cup level goes. I wanted to come into it as someone who could run competitively and I kind of even shocked myself on how competitive I could run. The other ways of doing it last year was not the situation, so I didn't take them. I know that to make that next step, I need to run full time. I need to have a full time ride at the Cup level to be a guy who can run for the Chase or take wins. So it's a matter of making that line up. Opportunities or situations to make that work? I don't think you guys have time to hear them all. I've put some thought into it, but not a lot. The basics of it are that we still have a few months to work some other things out. Specifically I'm working with Hendrick Motorsports and owe it to them to see what they can work out. I think the key part about this whole situation of where I'm at with contracts and next year is that you stick with what got you to where you're at. Having competitive cars and having support from HMS and being able to look at their data and talk to their drivers is what got me into victory lane on Sunday. It's hard to run from that, you know. But at the same time, at this point and at this time, there isn't a clear opportunity there. So we'll have to see how that plays out." Chevy PR

05/02/09 At first blush, it doesn't look like Chrysler's filing for bankruptcy protection on Thursday will have any immediate effect on the seven Sprint Cup teams backed by Dodge. Chrysler was quick to issue a statement on Thursday reaffirming their commitment to NASCAR. But how long, exactly, is the foreseeable future? Several people Lars Anderson talked to involved with NASCAR on Friday morning, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, strongly believed that Chrysler would pull its NASCAR funding in 2010. (The company already slashed its motor sports budget by 30 percent this year.) Then the question would become this: What would happen to the seven teams that Dodge supports? That is the great unknown. Sports Illustrated
Pontiac teams to switch to Chevy  With GM announcing that they were going to shut down the Pontiac brand, hot rumor here in the NJ Motorsports Park paddock is that the teams will switch to the Chevy brand either later this year or for the 2010 season.  The only factory Pontiac teams left are the Gainsco Pontiac Prototype team and the No. 77 GT Pontiac team.  All the rest run as independents.  Wayne Taylor's SunTrust team and Krohn Racing previously switched to Ford when they saw the writing on the wall. Recall that back in 2004 Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove a Chevy in the Rolex 24 and the exact same car ran as a Pontiac the next race with the identical car.  In France family run race series, you simple change the decals on the car to switch brands.  The majority of their series are spec cars for the most part.  Mark C. reporting from South Jersey
Hamilton snubs Ron Dennis  (GMM)  World champion Lewis Hamilton's absence this week from an awards ceremony was a blatant "snub" of his former mentor and boss Ron Dennis, British newspapers report.

61-year-old Dennis, who recently stepped back completely from the formula one arms of the McLaren Group, was honored with a lifetime achievement trophy on Thursday by the organizers of the Sport Industry Awards.

Ultimately, it was former McLaren champions Mika Hakkinen and Alain Prost who presented the Briton with the prize, while the reservation for a table of ten representatives of McLaren Racing was withdrawn because no-one from the Woking based team confirmed the booking.

2009 championship leader Jenson Button did attend.

"Hamilton had indicated that he would attend but pulled out on Wednesday morning," a report in the Daily Telegraph claimed.  "It is understood that it was a personal decision by Hamilton rather than one made by the team."

In the Daily Mail, however, a McLaren representative was quoted as saying the affair is "all very political", perhaps an allusion to the rumored link between Dennis' departure and the lie-gate scandal.

Bryan Herta Autosport withdraws from Indy 500  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact'.  BHA will still run in the Freedom 100 Indy Lights race at Indy, but the 500 will have to wait until 2010.

05/02/09 Rumor has it that Bryan Herta Autosport (BHA) won’t be making their Indy 500 debut next month as hoped.  Herta’s team is running an Indy Lights program, with an eye on moving up to the IndyCar Series and entered a car in this year’s 500 in conjunction with Vision.

If this rumor is true, BHA’s withdrawal means that the #22 entry will probably sit unused this month, as we do not expect Vision to run three cars unless a driver comes with a big check.

IRL could fold by 2013  UPDATE Indy Racing League founder Tony George dropped a bombshell in December when he told an industry group that he would shut down the open-wheel series if it didn’t break into the black soon.

Tony George wearing a  hat with what is beyond a doubt the goofiest slogan in all of sports.  People have been known to fall off their chair with laughter when they see it.  Actually, the only person fit to wear such a hat is George himself because he owns Indy.  Regardless, the phrase is ludicrous.
When pressed about the possibility of being profitable by 2013, George responded, “It has to be, or there won’t be a 2013. We expect a return on that investment.”

The remark before the Sports Business Journal Motorsports Marketing Forum in New York was scarcely reported outside racing circles and received virtually no attention from Indianapolis media.

Now racing analysts wonder what would happen to the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway if the IRL were to collapse.

“It’s difficult to envision the Indianapolis 500 without a supporting series,” said Tim Frost, president of Frost Motorsports, a Chicago-based business consultancy. “I’m not sure any of us know what would happen if Tony George pulled the plug on the Indy Racing League. I can tell you, it wouldn’t be good.”

Most analysts are optimistic George will hit the goal and see the series thrive. Even Frost rates the IRL’s chances of reaching profitability within four years at around 70 percent—a figure other analysts agree is reasonable. More ...

Tensions mounting at 16th and Georgetown  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' with further news we received.

05/01/09 Rumor has it that Laura George, IMS Staff Advisor and wife of Tony George, got fired this week from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by Tony George's sisters - Kathi George, Nancy George and Josephine (Josie) George.  They along with Tony own the Speedway.

From what we hear she cleaned out her office.  Do you sense a family feud brewing?

We also hear they may have hired a new Chief Financial Officer to advise on key financial matters.

Keselowski negotiating with Hendrick  Brad Keselowski is exclusively negotiating with Hendrick Motorsports on a long-term contract. NASCAR’s newest Sprint Cup Series winner has no ride lined up for next season. Rick Hendrick has considered him as an eventual replacement for #5-Mark Martin, but it’s not clear when Martin will stop driving. Keselowski’s surprise victory at Talladega Superspeedway last week has increased interest in the 25-year-old driver. Keselowski drives full-time in the Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports, and has a developmental deal with Hendrick. He’s slated to run seven Cup races for Hendrick this year, but the 2010 season has not been determined. Keselowski’s win last weekend was in a car owned by James Finch.    Associated Press/ESPN
Feds not done with Castroneves yet  According to AR1 sources, the IRS did not take too lightly losing their tax evasion case against Helio Castroneves and his sister.  We hear they have every intention of retrying both of them on the one count the jury was hung on - conspiracy.  We shall see.....
Obama to send Chrysler into bankruptcy  President Barack Obama aims to announce tomorrow that Chrysler LLC will be placed into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, leading to an alliance with Italian automaker Fiat SpA, people involved in the matter said.  Administration officials are still resolving outstanding issues, and the plan isn’t finished yet, said one of the people, who declined to be named because discussions are private.

As part of ongoing negotiations, the U.S. Treasury raised its offer to Chrysler’s lenders, offering them $2.25 billion in cash to forgive $6.9 billion in secured debt, two other people familiar with the matter said. The previous offer had been for $2 billion in cash. More ...

Aston Martin F1 team eyes Gulf investors  Aston Martin, which plans to start a Formula One racing team, will almost certainly include Gulf involvement and the move may lead to the manufacture of certain technology and materials in the region, according to the company’s chairman.

David Richards, who is also chairman of Aston Martin’s racing arm, Prodrive, said that plans for a F1 team had been in the pipeline since he sold his last racing team in 2004, and he explained that his current visit to Qatar was part of a trip to outline the team’s plans to prospective investors.

Aston Martin has already received Gulf investment, with Kuwaiti supporters investing in the company two and a half years ago. More ...

Ecclestone buys Donington Park British GP rights?  The British Grand Prix looks likely to be saved with suggestions doing the rounds that Bernie Ecclestone has purchased the promoting rights off Simon Gillett’s troubled Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd (DVLL) company – with help from the UK government.

With rumors gathering speed that Ecclestone has bought the British Grand Prix rights – and associated debt – from Gillett, it is now also suggested that the government has stepped in as it fears the disappearance of the blue riband event on the UK motorsport calendar, and one that has been held every year since the official inception of the F1 World Championship all the way back in 1950.

According to The Guardian, business secretary Peter Mandelson is in talks with Ecclestone in a bid to save the race, and though the latter’s desire for direct funding is unlikely to be accommodated, the government has previously offered to financially support infrastructure improvements at Silverstone via regional development agency cash. More ...

Large penalty could force McLaren out of F1  UPDATE #2 The scare tactics worked.  McLaren have escaped punishment from the FIA's World Motor Sport Council for the lie-gate fiasco, with the governing body announcing this afternoon that they have issued the Woking-based team with a suspended three-race ban. The FIA said that its decision to suspend the penalty was as a result of McLaren's “change in culture which [was] made clear has taken place in [the] organization”.

“Having regard to the open and honest way in which McLaren Team Principal, Mr. Martin Whitmarsh, addressed the WMSC and the change in culture which he made clear has taken place in his organization, the WMSC decided to suspend the application of the penalty it deems appropriate,” said a statement from the FIA on Wednesday afternoon. “That penalty is a suspension of the team from three races of the FIA Formula One World Championship. This will only be applied if further facts emerge regarding the case or if, in the next 12 months, there is a further breach by the team of article 151c of the International Sporting Code.”

04/26/09 Surprise, surprise.  The scare tactics appeared to have worked.  British Sunday newspapers, apparently fed by unnamed high-level sources, are reporting that McLaren is likely to escape major punishment in next Wednesday's World Motor Sport Council hearing.

It has been rumored that race bans are possible for the British team over 'lie-gate', but the Telegraph said a points deduction is actually the most likely outcome.

McLaren, with eight points on the board so far, is therefore likely to go into negative points figures.

The Independent newspaper agreed with the speculation about the likely penalty's leniency, and other press sources indicate that the news about the hearing follows Martin Whitmarsh's letter to Max Mosley this week.

It is believed that it is because Whitmarsh outlined the apologetic and open manner in which McLaren will handle the hearing that information about the outcome is now emerging.

A source told the News of the World: "It is all up to McLaren now.  If they go into the meeting contrite and hold their hands up then they could get off.

"But if they go to Paris trying to defend themselves like they did over Ferrari-gate it will not be good for them."

04/23/09 [Editor's Note:  Clearly McLaren is using scare tactics to put pressure on the FIA to not penalize the team too much for lying through their teeth. Will the FIA fall for such nonsense?  McLaren leaving F1?  No way - it is the core of their entire business.  They will find a way to remain in F1, even if it means sucking wind behind the Force India cars.  Ron Dennis knows Max Mosley has it in for him, this is why he stepped out of F1 in hopes that Max would not lower the boom on McLaren.] 

Agents for McLaren's sponsors have reportedly approached the FIA pleading for leniency at next week's WMSC hearing, fearing a "disproportionately large" punishment could see the Woking team forced out of F1.

McLaren will face the World Motor Sport Council for the second time in just 19 months on April 29th to answer five charges relating to the 'Liargate' scandal, one of which is bringing the sport into disrupt. It's the second time in recent years that the team has faced such charge, with the FIA imposing a $100 million fine and throwing McLaren out of the Constructors' Championship two years ago for their part in the 'Stepneygate' spy scandal. More ...

Spanish GP could run with no spectators  (GMM)  One solution to the swine flu crisis for formula one would be to stage grands prix without spectators in the stands.

That is the claim of the Swiss specialist publication Motorsport Aktuell, after reports emerged this week that the Spanish region of Catalunya is recording the highest incidence of flu infections on the European continent.

The report quotes German health minister Ulla Schmidt as concurring that a potential pandemic, and public gatherings of thousands of people, do not mix.

"Everyone understands that there cannot be a major gathering of 70,000 people, if thousands of them could become infected," she said.

The Mexican death toll rose above 150 overnight, leading to the closure of schools, universities, museums, libraries, cinemas, theatres and churches.

A major football game at the Azteca stadium took place on Tuesday in front of deserted grandstands, after spectators were barred.

Red Bull could switch to Mercedes power  (GMM)  Christian Horner has refused to rule out the possibility of Red Bull switching customer engine suppliers at the end of the 2009 season.

The Milton Keynes based team's Renault contract runs out this year, and reports have indicated a switch to Mercedes-Benz is a possibility for 2010 and beyond.

Team boss Horner, however, told Germany's Sport Bild that Red Bull is happy with Renault, after the French marque was allowed to catch up its more powerful rivals over the winter amid the engine freeze.

"For the moment it is my belief that Dietrich Mateschitz does not intend to negotiate with a new engine partner," the Briton said.  "Fortunately we have time."

But Horner does not totally rule out a switch. More ...

NASCAR drivers don't have enough spine to boycott  Orlando Sentinel columnist David Whitley isn't the most popular scribe of NASCAR fans, but ol' Whitley hit it right on the head with his column today.

If Carl Edwards and other drivers believe it's unsafe to race at Talladega and Daytona, they should refuse to race there.

Boycott. Refuse to drive. Protest until NASCAR changes.

If the drivers' truly want change at NASCAR's superspeedways, that's the only way they'll get it done without somebody dying.

NASCAR drivers have walked out before -- 40 years ago, in fact, when the sport's biggest stars like Richard Petty refused to race at Talladega. That boycott had little impact, because "King" Richard Petty wasn't big enough to force the hand of Big Bill France. More ...

Brumos is Grand-Am's favored team  UPDATE #2 Correction: The Brumos Grand-Am team uses a Porsche Motorsport engine.  The Spirit of Daytona team is the only one using the Lozano "Porsche Based" motor.  You do have to hand it to Brumos. Their fastest race lap was a 1/2 second faster than Penske with the same motor/chassis.

04/27/09 Rumor has it that Jim France pays 75% of all the bills for Brumos, he considers it his team.  He paid Lozano for the engine development and J.C. France's Brumos ride cost him about $3m a year.

04/27/09 It's pretty obvious that Grand-Am has chosen Brumos Racing as the team they want to win the G-A title this year.  First, they get caught cheating to win the biggest race of the year in the Rolex 24 and get penalized only three points.  Now Brumos' David Donohue blatantly punts Scott Pruett on a re-start with three laps to go (it didn't even look like Donohue attempted to brake) to take out Pruett and Max Angelelli and he doesn't get penalized in any form.  Worse yet, it gave Brumos the series points lead.  Why not just award Brumos and Porsche the championship right now and not waste everyone's time?
Virgin to extend Brawn GP deal  Virgin are to remain as sponsors of the Brawn GP team throughout the entire 2009 season according to rumors at RealBrawnGP.com. Whilst it's still unclear as to what level they will partner with the team, we understand the current level of exposure will continue, with Virgin providing an increase in funding but stopping well short of title sponsorship.

Virgin Group chairman Sir Richard Branson has made it clear that he is not prepared to pay top rates for title sponsorship, despite having a huge range of products to promote. Throughout Virgin's history, Branson and his team have been incredibly successful in gaining PR coverage for little outlay. The current deal at Brawn GP, worth around £600,000 ($873,000/€671,000) for the first four races, has secured the Virgin Group in excess of £10 million ($14.5m/11.2m) of coverage.

"The team have become very popular since the beginning of the season," said Branson in Bahrain. "We are negotiating, as are other people, and we may or may not end up doing a full branding exercise. Someone could come in and pay a silly price, and we will bow out gracefully if that happens. But we've made an offer we feel we can afford." More ...

It is more than just the double diffuser  
Wide flat nose on Brawn GP car means something
A reader asks, Once the other F1 teams introduce their double diffusers, will Brawn GP return to being backmarkers? Dave Donnelly.

Dear Dave, It's more than just adding a rear diffuser. The rear diffuser adds more rear downforce.  However, that must be balanced with more front downforce.  The Brawn GP team and Ross Brawn designed their new car with a wide flat looking nose.  The air flowing over that wide nose generates a lot of downforce and that is why their car is quick - it has a lot of downforce and it is balanced for excellent handling.  If the other teams are going to match the performance of the Brawn they are going to have to get rid of their pointy noses as well.  Mark C.
Santander, Alonso still set on Ferrari switch  UPDATE (GMM)  Speculation that the Spanish bank Santander is set to switch from McLaren to Ferrari got a fresh shot in the arm last weekend.

Emilio Botin (red jacket) is seen watching Fernando Alonso get ready to race in Bahrain.  He is rumored to be in meetings to move Santander's sponsorship of the lying McLaren team (they originally went to McLaren because of Alonso) to Ferrari to coincide with Alonso's move to the Italian powerhouse.
Photographed entering the famous Italian team's private building in Bahrain, for a 20 minute meeting with Luca di Montezemolo, was Santander boss Emilio Botin.

Spain's Marca sports newspaper reports that Botin also met with Fernando Alonso at the Sakhir track, as well as Bernie Ecclestone.

Botin's meeting with Ecclestone explains the F1 chief executive's eye-wateringly bright red jacket on the grid of the Sakhir race: apparently it was a gift from the Santander chief.

09/16/08 (GMM)  Even without the prospect of Fernando Alonso at the wheel, the Spanish bank Santander's 2010 switch from McLaren to Ferrari is still on track, a Spanish newspaper insists.

Diario Sport reports that Banco Santander is now confirming that, at the end of a three year contract with McLaren next year, the company does not intend to exercise an option to renew for a further two years.

'Sport' explained that while Santander was keen to spearhead its Ferrari association with Alonso in a Maranello built car, this element has not proved a deal breaker. [See original rumor]

GM to pull the plug on Pontiac car brand  UPDATE #3
No wonder Wayne Taylor Racing dropped Pontiac and switched to Ford power for his Grand-Am team. This has probably been in the works for awhile even before the  economy went south. Taylor must have gotten wind of it and made his move.

04/27/09 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  See this Hot News item.  The Pontiac nameplate will be dropped at the end of 2010.

04/25/09 As General Motors Corp. races to come up with another turnaround plan, there has been growing speculation that the Detroit automaker will drop its Pontiac brand.

The company tried to pat down those reports Friday with a statement saying it has not yet announced any changes to its long-term viability plan.

"GM is continuing to review its restructuring plan to go further and faster and best ensure its future success," the company said in a statement. "Additional information will be released as any decisions are finalized."

04/25/09 General Motors is preparing to announce that the Pontiac car brand, once marketed as GM's "Excitement division," will be killed off, according to a source familiar with the decision.  An official announcement is expected Monday. GM spokesman Jim Hopson declined to comment on Pontiac's fate, saying the automaker has no announcements to make at this time.

In its most recent "viability plan" - which will be updated to reflect this new brand cut - Pontiac was not named as one of GM's four "core brands." Those are Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac. But Pontiac was also not to be killed or sold off, as were Saturn, Saab and Hummer.

Instead Pontiac was to continue on as a "niche brand" focusing on just a few models.

iSport plans F1 entry  GP2 team boss Paul Jackson is planning to bring his iSport stable into Formula One in the event that spending is capped from the 2010 season. Jackson revealed his intention in an exclusive interview with Motorsports-Magazine.com: “I aim to give a few people in F1 a kick up the backside and to show them that they are chucking money out of the window for nothing.”

But the precondition for any Formula One entry has to be a ceiling on team budgets imposed by the FIA. The earlier this precise amount is decreed - preferably within the next month - the sooner Jackson and his team can get together with sponsors and investors to decide whether they will be competing in 2010 as a separate outfit or be joining forces with one of the others already on the grid such as Toro Rosso.

“The existing teams aren’t structured to operate within a 30-million budget,” stresses Jackson in his interview with Motorsports-Magazine.com. “So it would probably be better to start with a blank sheet.” The basis of any new team would be the GP2 engineers. “We’re accustomed to doing a great job on limited resources,” he says.

Daytona 500 to be trampled by Super Bowl  UPDATE Plans to expand the NFL's regular season could very well wind up putting the Super Bowl on the weekend that's also the traditional date for NASCAR's premiere event, the Daytona 500, based on comments from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Speaking Friday in a meeting with Associated Press Sports Editors before this weekend's draft in New York City, Goodell outlined a scenario for the extended regular season that would push the Super Bowl back to President's Day weekend. It would have two preseason games in August, down from the current four. That would be followed by an open week on Labor Day weekend, followed by the opening week of the regular season. “We have not found a saturation point for pro football, which is a good thing,” Goodell said. “I don't want to be around if we do.” NASCAR's position on an expanded NFL regular-season and a possible conflict with the Daytona 500 hasn't changed. “We're aware of the proposal and are watching to see what happens,” NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said. Charlotte Observer

03/27/09 Since 1971, the Daytona 500 has been scheduled for the Sunday prior to the third Monday in February (Feb. 14-20), which has recently been two weeks following the National Football League’s Super Bowl.

But the date of the Super Bowl could change. NFL owners talked earlier this week about adding one or two weeks to their regular-season schedule, which, depending on the number of preseason games, could make the entire length of the season up to two weeks longer. That would result in the Super Bowl scheduled on the traditional date of the Daytona 500.

The NFL won’t change its schedule, most likely, until its 2011 season, meaning the first potential conflict wouldn’t come until 2012 at the earliest. More ...

Hamilton almost quit F1 over 'Lie-Gate'  UPDATE (GMM)  As McLaren's difficult season hit a high point with fourth place in Bahrain, Lewis Hamilton admitted he did consider throwing in the towel.

Amid scandals and public criticism, the reigning world champion said he recently paused seriously to reflect on his negative image.

"I wasn't 100 per cent sure I wanted to be here for the next five years," the Briton told the BBC.

"There was so much going on.  Do I want to be in the limelight with people slating me?  Do I want be in the spotlight where I can't even go to go to the fish and chip shop or the cinema and have fun without people taking pictures of me?"

Hamilton, 24, ultimately concluded that driving a F1 car to success was most important, and - despite admitting his earlier indecision - wonders why his commitment to the team was ever questioned.

"My commitment should never be questioned because I'm very committed to the sport and I'm very, very committed to my team," he insisted.

But Hamilton said his questionable commitment when addressing the media a week ago in China was "because I wasn't 100 per cent sure I would be here (in F1) for the next five years". More ...

Mercedes F1 exit possible  UPDATE #2 (GMM) Norbert Haug has been playing down the speculation in Bahrain, but back in Germany it is clear that Mercedes-Benz's involvement in formula one is very much in doubt.

The CEO of the Stuttgart marque's parent, Daimler AG, has told a German news magazine that the 'lie-gate' affair could have terminal consequences in terms of Mercedes' F1 project.

"If circumstances should change, perhaps because of an unreasonable punishment by the FIA, it is possible that we could consider our engagement," Dieter Zetsche told Focus.

The Focus publication added that the Daimler executive committee will meet to discuss possibly exiting formula one on Monday, two days before the World Motor Sport Council considers fraud charges against team partner McLaren in Paris.

04/23/09 (GMM)  As McLaren mechanics put the finishing touches on the Bahrain pit garage, speculation ramped up in Germany about the future of engine partner Mercedes-Benz.

Helmut Lense, on the supervisory board of the Stuttgart marque's parent Daimler, openly admitted to Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper that the formula one engagement is very much in doubt.

Mercedes is suffering amid the auto industry slump and the global recession, leading Lense to muse that the McLaren money might be better spent.

Key to the speculation is that Mercedes-Benz might prefer to remain in F1 merely as an engine supplier.

"Daimler has the goal to be prominent with 'green technology'.  Does formula one fit?  Would it be the right signal to step out of F1 now and instead concentrate on pollution-free propulsion technologies?" Lense mused.

Mercedes owns 40 per cent of Woking based McLaren.

Worsening McLaren's woes is the looming World Motor Sport Council meeting, where penalties for fraud may result from the 'lie-gate' affair.

A source with one of the team's big sponsors told the Telegraph: "I can say that if a disproportionately large penalty were given to McLaren on April 29 then the sponsor that I am associated with might leave." More ...

Donington renovation in doubt over new dispute  (GMM) Yet another threat to the running of the 2010 British grand prix at Donington has emerged.

Following this week's reports of legal action taken by the Leicestershire venue's owners, it emerged on Saturday that council approval for the necessary track upgrades is now in jeopardy.

North West Leicestershire District Council gave track leaseholder and F1 race promoter Simon Gillett approval for the works, but is now threatening to revoke the approval due to a disagreement.

The approval had been subject to Gillett agreeing to write up a transport management plan before every major event -- and he is yet to sign the documents.

The situation means that Gillett is now open to more legal action, with the council able to take him to court to order that the construction work be halted and reversed.

A deadline of May 5 has been imposed.

"(The council) has continued to work with Donington Park to meet the deadlines and terms of the permission. We can't keep extending the deadline for signing the agreement," said councillor Richard Blunt.

Simon Gillett did not comment.
Kahne to leave backmarker Petty team  Rumors persist that #9-Kasey Kahne is exploring options outside of Richard Petty Motorsports even though he has one year left on his contract. It began with rumors that his primary sponsor, Budweiser, was stepping away after this season. The beer company knocked that one down in a hurry.

Kahne did his best to dispel speculation that he is looking last weekend at Phoenix. "I'm definitely not exploring other options," he said. "I have another year with Richard Petty Motorsports. The Gilletts have been good to me since I came here. I made a commitment to them to race through 2010, so I'll do that for sure." Beyond that? "I've told them from the start that if we can get our cars to where they're right and we're competitive with the best teams out here then I don't know why I'd ever want to move from that company," Kahne said. "For me to leave, I wouldn't want to, but at the same time I want to get a chance in some really good equipment too. We're working on that. If we get there, I'll stay with RPM for a long time." ESPN
Hendrick to swap #5 and #88 crew chiefs?  UPDATE #2 Dale Jr. doesn't comment on rumors: asked about the rumor about swapping Hendrick Motorsports swapping crew chiefs between the #88 and #5 teams, all Dale Earnhardt Jr. would say: "I don't comment on rumors...that's all it is. A rumor is a rumor and I don't wanna get in the middle of that. I've got a job to do and I do it and shouldn't listen to rumors." PRN Garage  More ...
Nelson Philippe to land Indy ride  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  In an exclusive interview with FOX Car Report LIVE!, former Champ Car driver Nelson Philippe said that he is planning to enter the first carbon neutral team to compete in a major professional motorsport at the 2009 Indy 500.

In collaboration with HVM Racing, who will field the car for Philippe, the “i Drive Green” team is taking steps become the first to take the green flag at The Brickyard carrying a green certification from the National Arbor Day Foundation.

“All the crew members and all of the mechanics, they’re not happy about it but they have all had to become eco drivers, the truck driver has become an eco driver as well, and the goal is to make sure that we can offset our carbon footprint,” Philippe says.

In conjunction with the race, Philippe will be teaming up with EcoDrivingUSA, an educational organization backed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to hold a series of events at the track aiming educating people on how they can drive the cars they currently own in a more efficient manner.

“You don’t have to have a hybrid car to get better mileage, you can have a big pickup and if you learn how to become an ecodriver you can increase your fuel mileage by up to 33 percent and drastically reduce your future emissions right now.” More ...

Fiat pursues GM Europe stake  Fiat has set its sights on becoming one of the world’s leading carmakers, signaling an interest in taking a stake in General Motors’ European business as it rushes to cement an alliance with Chrysler.

The Italian carmaker is among up to seven suitors for a stake in GM Europe, of which Germany’s Opel forms the largest part and which includes the UK’s Vauxhall, several government and car industry sources have told the Financial Times.

News of the interest comes as Fiat, whose chief executive Sergio Marchionne has declared the world’s oversupplied automotive industry ripe for consolidation, moves closer to a tie-up with GM’s rival Chrysler, which has six days to prove to the US government that it can become viable, or face bankruptcy.

“Fiat has expressed its interest to the German government,” people close to Opel said on Thursday. Canadian car parts maker Magna International was also interested in GM’s European operations, said Hendrik Hering, economy minister for the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate.  More at FT.com

Volkswagen eyes move on Porsche  Volkswagen is considering an audacious bid for Porsche’s automotive business, in another extraordinary twist in the corporate saga surrounding Germany’s most famous car dynasty.

Several people close to the situation said VW’s management was weighing the option of buying Porsche AG, in a move that would bring relief to the highly indebted parent Porsche SE holding company.

This would turn upside down Porsche’s audacious takeover of VW, which started three and a half years ago. VW is Europe’s largest car company whose turnover is roughly 15 times as great as Porsche’s. More ...

NASCAR officially moves Cup banquet to Vegas  Nationwide and Truck Banquets combined: NASCAR announced that Las Vegas formally becomes the “Official Host City of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week.” NASCAR’s annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony will be held at the Wynn Las Vegas on Friday, Dec. 4, 2009. The move to Las Vegas provides for greater flexibility for driver and fan events. The NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events will be combined and held at the Loews Miami Beach on Monday, Nov. 23. More ...
Adam Carroll eyes F1  Irish A1 Grand Prix driver Adam Carroll has revealed that he is in discussions with a number of Formula One teams with a view to taking part in next season's F1 World Championship.

An Irish driver has not been involved in Formula One since the retirement of Eddie Irvine seven years ago. Carroll has also been speaking to teams in the Indy Racing League, the American equivalent of Formula One.

However, Carroll said his initial priority was his current involvement with the Ireland team in the A1GP series, the penultimate round of which takes place the weekend after next at Brands Hatch. Ireland currently trail leaders Switzerland by just two points after an impressive campaign. The final race of the season takes place in Mexico City.

Alonso to Ferrari rumors won't go away  UPDATE #11 (GMM)  Gerhard Berger is adamant that Fernando Alonso will head to Ferrari at the end of 2009.

Alonso expected to be at Ferrari next year
The former Toro Rosso co-owner said he "negotiated intensively" with the 27-year-old Spaniard last year, when he needed to replace the Red Bull-bound Sebastian Vettel.

"Now I can say it: he was interested, but made it clearly understood that he saw 2009 only as a transitional year, because he already knew what he would be doing in 2010," Berger said in an interview with Germany's Sport Bild.

"Surely it's Ferrari," the Austrian winner of ten grands prix added.

01/20/09 (GMM)  Renault duo Flavio Briatore and Fernando Alonso gave little attention to speculation that the Spanish driver is set to switch to Ferrari in the near future.

An Italian sports newspaper recently reinvigorated the rumor, drawing an annoyed response by Renault team boss Briatore at the launch on Monday of the team's 2009 car.

"I cannot understand how people who work for newspapers can just write lies," the Italian is quoted as saying by Diario AS.

Alonso also informed Spanish reporters that he did not intend to spend much time addressing the Ferrari rumors.

"I know that I will have to speak about this regularly, but now is not the time.  I am concentrated on doing a great championship with Renault," he said. More ...

Aston Martin, others, also eye cheaper F1  (GMM)  Potential new teams keen to be budget-limited next year are seemingly clamoring at F1's paddock turnstile.

USF1/USGPE has already lodged an application for 2010, Lola is evaluating a start-up team, and London's Times newspaper said David Richards wants to bring his Aston-Martin brand onto the grid.

Up to five other small teams may also have expressed interest in the controversial new era of low budget limits, with Bernie Ecclestone also said to be offering teams a financial package with an eye on boosting the grid to 26 cars.

The British independent engine firm Cosworth would also be involved with an affordable customer package, as the threat of more carmakers following Honda out of the sport rises.

"This is a great time to come in," Richards, set to enter talks with Middle Eastern backers about his plans for a team with a staff of 140, confirmed.

"Nothing is decided yet," he continued, "but the key to all of this is the financial reality that the budget cap will bring."

BMW's KERS not as good as Mercedes'  (GMM)  BMW-Sauber's KERS system is not living up to the Swiss based squad's expectations, the publication Motorsport Aktuell reports.

The German team has had a difficult start to the 2009 season, despite championing the energy re-use technology and marking the words 'Active Hybrid' on the rear wing of the F1.09.

Only Nick Heidfeld has consistently used the system so far, reportedly because BMW's system is much heavier than for example the leading McLaren-Mercedes KERS package.

"I don't know whether the systems of our competitors are heavier," Mercedes' Norbert Haug is quoted as saying by spox.com, "but if ours weighed 10 kilos more, we probably would not use it."

It is also believed that while the 82hp power bursts are available to McLaren drivers for the full allowed 6.6 seconds per lap, the same is not always true of the BMW KERS.

BMW team boss Mario Theissen acknowledged to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport: "It depends on how many braking zones there are, in terms of charging the batteries.

"With our system, we are on the limit with certain circuits," he added.

Piquet to get the axe?  UPDATE #10 (GMM)  Nelson Piquet has three more races to convince Renault boss Flavio Briatore that he deserves to stay in formula one.

Citing team sources, the motorline.cc portal believes the 23-year-old Brazilian could then lose his race seat, with countryman and rookie Bruno Senna a possible replacement.

Briatore was unimpressed with Piquet's showing in the Chinese rain last weekend, adding: "I only want to judge his performance in a completely normal race."

Former Swiss driver and German-language commentator Marc Surer, however, is not sure 25-year-old Senna would be the ideal substitute.

"Perhaps if Piquet continues like he is, a driver exchange could be a topic, but at the moment I don't see anyone on the market who would really be better.

"Senna is a beginner who would probably make just as many errors," Surer added.

04/20/09 (GMM)  The Spanish newspaper Diario AS,  said the underperforming Nelson Piquet Jr.'s days at Renault could be numbered.  Takuma Sato, Alex Wurz, Lucas di Grassi and Romain Grosjean were named as potential successors. More ...
Vettel among least paid drivers  UPDATE (GMM)  Shanghai winner Sebastian Vettel is "so good and so cheap", the German daily Bild newspaper claims.

F1's best driver among least paid
Red Bull
It is reported that, despite collecting the plaudits in the wake of his Monza (2008) and China wins for Red Bull's F1 teams, the 21-year-old ranks in the bottom-six in terms of driver earnings.

Vettel makes 3.5m euros per season, Bild claims, but the German insists the situation is not unfair.

"The moment money becomes your motivation, you are immediately not as good as someone who is stimulated by passion and internal will," he is quoted as saying.

Moreover, Vettel - with the aid of a single lawyer - negotiated his own contract, as he is not represented by a manager.

11/19/08 Below are the salaries of all of this year's F1 drivers and the total amount (€124,956,694.60 = 157,909,386.01 USD)

Driver Salary
Kimi Räikkönen: €17,992,788.45
Fernando Alonso: €14,994,746.84
Felipe Massa: €12,997,244.94
Jenson Button: €12,995,694.54
Lewis Hamilton: €11,496,521.15
David Coulthard: €8,495,871.69
Rubens Barrichello: €7,997,921.44
Jarno Trulli: €7,996,671.50
Nick Heidfeld: €7,497,597.45
Mark Webber: €5,997,998.65
Robert Kubica: €4,498,467.20
Heikki Kovalainen: €2,999,025.85
Nico Rosberg: €2,499,032.89
Nelson Piquet Jr: €1,999,245.66
Timo Glock: €1,299,489.80
Sebastien Bourdais: €1,299,413.04
Kazuki Nakajima: €649,835.19
Sebastian Vettel: €599,662.56
Giancarlo Fisichella: €399,779.00
Adrian Sutil: €249,686.78

If you want to find out how much this is in US$, here is a currency converter http://www.xe.com/ (example: 124,956,694.60 EUR = 157,909,386.01 USD) Source

GM to shut most US plants, bankruptcy next  General Motors Corp. is planning to temporarily close most of its U.S. factories for up to nine weeks this summer because of slumping sales and growing inventories of unsold vehicles, three people briefed on the plan said Wednesday. Analysts say the company could be seeing sales decline because of talk about a potential bankruptcy. 

The minute Obama stated that bankruptcy was an option for GM consumers stopped buying GM vehicles en mass, which is exactly what ousted GM CEO Wagoner said would happen.  This in turn has driven down sales even further, hurting much needed cash flow, ensuring that GM would go into bankruptcy.  In effect he sealed the fate of GM and the million or so employees that either work for GM or supply parts to GM.

The exact dates of the closures are not known, but the people said they will occur around the normal two-week shutdown in July when changes are made from one model year to the next. None of the people wanted to be identified because workers have not yet been told of the shutdowns.

GM spokesman Chris Lee would not comment other than to say the company notifies employees before making any production cuts public.

Spending cuts likely for GP2 series  Just like Formula One, the GP2 racing series will also have to make cuts in budgets and personnel this season due to the ongoing global financial crisis, GP2 boss Bruno Michel said.

The GP2 series, which replaced Formula 3000 in 2005, is in its fifth year with 26 drivers taking part in this season’s opening race in Barcelona on May 9.

“At least the teams have very good marketing policies in place,” said Michel. “We find ourselves in a healthy position.”

Will Chinese continue to lose money on F1?  Bernie Ecclestone is confident that Formula One will remain in China despite losses of £503 million over the last half decade.

"As long as there is China, we will be here," Formula One Management's Ecclestone told Reuters. "Asia is growing while many parts of the world are dying, that's the difference. It is disappointing that it's not supported by local companies and I think they're missing an awful lot; it seems to me in China that nobody cares about branding and a Grand Prix is a good chance to promote a brand."

The 2009 F1 Chinese Grand Prix successfully crowned another winner on Sunday, but its future in China after 2010 remains a question mark. To be or not to be for Formula 1: here's more on the story.

During the past week, this was paradise for Formula One fans. They came to the Shanghai International Circuit to enjoy the annual motorsports event. Besides the fantastic F1 race, the improvement in infrastructure and service here also won their approval. A brand new cafe street was set up in 2008 to solve food supply issues. Food with Taiwanese flavor attracted many spectators this year.

But the fans may not know that the contract between Shanghai and the F1 management company will expire in 2010. And the two sides have not reached a deal to extend the contract so far.

The main problems puzzling Shanghai include the sponsors, the huge expenditure and challenges from other Asian cities. The 2010 Chinese GP will become F1's finale in China if a deal cannot be reached before the announcement of the 2011 F1 schedule.

Dale Jr. and Mears to be penalized?  NASCAR officials will likely lower the boom on #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and #07-Casey Mears for late-race and post-race antics here Saturday night at Phoenix. The two tangled several times late, bringing out the final caution that almost cost Mark Martin the win. Mears: "I didn't mean to get together with Dale Jr. I think he was trying to save fuel and make it to the end without stopping, and I wheel-hopped the car getting into the corner and ended up making contact with him. I guess he was a little bent out of shape about it because he spun me out after the checkered flag." mikemulhern.net
Alonso unofficially penalized  Today’s Spanish newspapers report that Fernando Alonso and the Renault team might have been on the receiving end of an unofficial punishment meted out by race director Charlie Whiting during yesterday’s Chinese Grand Prix.

The paper 20 Seconds suggests that the Spaniard, on a very light fuel load, was penalized by the race being started under the Safety Car and the Safety Car only being withdrawn once the Spaniard had pitted. The double world champion lost out considerably as a result of this, falling from 2nd on the grid to the rear of the pack. He still managed to finish ninth, however.

Speculation surrounds the decision by race director Charlie Whiting to pull the safety car in, the suspicion being that the Safety Car was withdrawn at a time designed to hurt Alonso, with no relevance to conditions. The newspaper goes on to speculate that the Renault team were being punished for team principal Flavio Briatore’s outspoken stance on the FIA ”double-deck” diffuser decision, which his team lost.

It is, however, very unlikely that Whiting singled out Alonso for specific punishment on the track. A random penalty of this nature without prior notice would be without precedent. It would not be within the rules, as team penalties must go through the correct channels. A less paranoid explanation for the Spaniard’s difficulties yesterday would be a simple strategic error from the team, who decided to short-fuel the Spanish ace. Renault have fuelled Alonso light before to jump him up the grid in qualifying, even if then his race suffers.

Ferrari may write off 2009 season  (GMM)  Ferrari will decide after next month's Spanish grand prix whether to abandon development of the current F60 single seater.

In Malaysia, the word was that the Maranello team had endured its worst start to a season since 1992.  Another pointless race in China means the rot has not been this bad so early in a campaign for 28 years.

A major raft of car improvements is due when the European season begins in Barcelona, but if the championship is still in a downward spiral, Ferrari could turn its focus to 2010, team boss Stefano Domenicali admits.

"I think for sure we will see after Spain where we are," the Italian said in Shanghai.

"In that period we will see really what can be the situation, so when we come back to Europe basically," said Domenicali.

Observers are wondering if, in the post Ross Brawn, Jean Todt and Michael Schumacher era, elements of Ferrari's overly reactive and shambolic past are creeping back in.

But Domenicali insists he is thinking dispassionately about what road to take.

"I think we have to wait.  We need to stay cool.  It is not easy, I know, but we need to stay cool because there are too many things that can change very quickly," he said.

VW may have surpassed Toyota as No. 1  Volkswagen AG may have overtaken Toyota Motor Co to become the world's top-selling carmaker in the first quarter, thanks to government incentives that fueled demand in VW's major markets.

Although overall VW deliveries to customers fell 11 percent to around 1.39 million vehicles, the Wolfsburg-based group dramatically increased its share of the global passenger car market by 130 basis points to 11.0 percent.

"To gain market share during a crisis is certainly remarkable," JATO Dynamics analyst Frank Brautlecht said.

Toyota has given no forecast for retail sales, but its latest estimate for shipments for the 2009 first quarter is 1.23 million vehicles, down 47 percent from a year earlier.

"Volkswagen has the luck of being strong in the markets that are currently growing, while Toyota is exposed to those that are collapsing," said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, head of the Center for Automotive Research in Gelsenkirchen, adding the quarter's results would be "close."

Red Bull faster than Brawn GP in China  (GMM)  Red Bull is perhaps genuinely the fastest car on the Shanghai circuit, officials of the Austrian team agree.

Although Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber qualified first and third respectively in China, it is true that their RB5s were carrying less fuel than the previously dominant Brawns.

"We have an excellent car," team boss Christian Horner told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"With fuel the Brawn is faster, but you see the true speed in Q2 when everyone is empty," he added.

In Q2 on Saturday, both Vettel and Webber were still faster than Brawn racers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello.

More worryingly for Brawn, Red Bull designer Adrian Newey is yet to complete his design for a 'double diffuser', which can only be fitted to the car around the time of the Monaco grand prix late next month.

"With our car (to have a double diffuser) we have to modify the transmission and the rear suspension," Horner revealed.  "It is potentially a very big step forward."

Former Red Bull racer, and current team reserve driver, said in Shanghai he is not surprised that the Milton Keynes-based team is now among the very best on the grid.

"It all seems highly logical to me because there has been a steady, but marked, upward trend at the team and now we are seeing it come to fruition," he said in his BBC column.

"Not only do I expect the team to capture their maiden victory this season, I expect them to win more than one race," the Scot added.

Detroit to lose North American International Auto Show  The Cobo Center expansion is dead, organizers of the North American International Auto Show -- its premier event -- may explore leaving town, and city and suburban leaders are squabbling over who's to blame.

Hours after the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling Friday killing the deal, auto show organizers said they're open to other venues, while acknowledging few alternatives exist in southeast Michigan. The court ruling nixed a transfer to a regional authority -- once hailed as an example of area cooperation -- that would have overseen a $288 million expansion to the decades-old facility.

"We've got an obligation and a responsibility to the show to provide it with the best venue possible," said Joe Serra, the co-chairman of the 2009 show. The event pumps $350 million to $500 million into the economy. It's only proper we keep an open mind to all options. Our dream was to stay at Cobo and make (the show) a part of Detroit. That's why we've been so patient over the years and make that work. Our hearts are with Detroit and Cobo." More ...

Will Vettel decimate F1 field when team gets new diffuser?  Red Bull Racing is facing a ‘significant’ challenge to incorporate a ‘double-decker’ diffuser into its Adrian Newey-penned RB5, but team principal Christian Horner is optimistic of being able to introduce the new design in ‘one of the early European races’ – and with it take the fight to Brawn GP at the very front of the grid.

Red Bull has on balance been the quickest of the non-diffuser teams over the opening two grands prix of the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship campaign in Australia and Malaysia – and in qualifying in Shanghai Sebastian Vettel put the car on pole even without the new diffuser.  Once Adrian Newey completes his design there may be nothing stopping Vettel, who is certainly the most talented F1 driver, from decimating the F1 field.  More ...

Hamilton could leave McLaren  UPDATE #2 (GMM)  As feared by his McLaren team, Lewis Hamilton's first appearance for the media in Shanghai only sparked new controversy.

Observers of the press huddle in China said the reigning world champion seemed guarded and uncomfortable, and at least two newspapers described his answer about his future at McLaren as "coy".

The Times said Hamilton's less than 4-minute press meeting showed his "hostile" side.

Twice asked to confirm that he will commit fully to his long-term contract, the Briton said only that he is "happy where I am".

"A simple 'yes' would have taken the heat off him," former McLaren driver David Coulthard told the BBC.

The Daily Telegraph said Hamilton had given a "lukewarm response".

"He was clearly still disenchanted with life in formula one," the Daily Mail said.

The newspaper said Hamilton's answer about his future was "conspicuously non-committal and terse from a driver who has traditionally claimed that he wished to remain with the team for life".

Hamilton also said he was "surprised" but "not disappointed" about Ron Dennis' decision to step down completely.  "I was surprised as I hadn't heard about it.  But I am not going to fight it," The Sun quotes him as saying.

04/17/09 As expected, this rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.  Lewis Hamilton says he has no intention of leaving McLaren, despite being shocked by the departure of his mentor Ron Dennis. The current world champion has been dogged by rumors that he is frustrated with his team's poor performances this year and is keen to leave. And those suggestions grew louder earlier this week when Dennis, who has masterminded Hamilton's career since he was 13-years-old, stepped down as chief executive of McLaren.

However, although Hamilton admits he was surprised by the announcement, he insists he will fulfill his five-year contract with the Woking-based team.

"I am contracted to the team and happy where I am," he said after practice for the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.  Of course, Ron has been a huge force and support in my life, and he still plays a key role in my life.  I wasn't disappointed when I heard he was leaving. I was surprised, but I had not heard about it. I was just as surprised as the rest of my team. I don't know why he decided to do it now."

04/06/09 Lewis Hamilton landed at Heathrow on Monday afternoon, final destination still unknown.

His father, and manager, Anthony is contemplating moving his son away from McLaren after the team’s role in the ‘liargate’ controversy which dominated the build-up to Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

Hamilton Snr is still fuming at how the world champion came to ‘deliberately mislead’ the stewards over his actions in the closing laps of the Australian race a week earlier.

Lewis, along with McLaren sporting director Dave Ryan, who has been suspended and is expected to be paid off for his silence, lied about how Jarno Trulli of Toyota came to pass him under the safety car in Melbourne. More ...

Diffuser row could destroy FOTA  UPDATE #2 (GMM)  Flavio Briatore has stepped up his attack on the Brawn team, after slamming the former Honda drivers in Shanghai.

Now, the Renault boss has turned his attention to team owner Ross Brawn, who is currently the head of FOTA's technical committee.

Italian Briatore, in charge of commercial matters in the F1 teams' alliance, said he will propose that FOTA replaces Brawn at its next meeting.

Asked by the Daily Telegraph who he would prefer in the role, Briatore answered: "Anyone is better, even the first Chinese taxi driver you see in the street."

Briatore is furious about Brawn's victory in the rear diffuser controversy, claiming the situation has cost most formula one teams millions and compromised F1's credibility.

To Italian reporters in Shanghai, he said he will also be proposing that the commercial income due to the Honda team in 2009 should be distributed to the other teams rather than Brawn.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone commented: "I don't know what Flav is on about.  Ross has done a brilliant job, and as for Button being slow, he is now showing what he can do with a fast car.

"If anyone has been slow it has been the other teams and I don't think we should be hearing them complaining when the tables are turned.  They have all had their bright ideas down the years which needed official scrutiny."

04/17/09 (GMM)  The lingering effects of the differ row were still being felt in the Shanghai paddock on Friday.

During the Court of Appeal earlier this month, Williams chief executive Adam Parr was quoted as suggesting that Ferrari have been racing an illegal car for years.

The comments had been sparked by Ross Brawn, who told the court that F1 history is littered with cases of cars exploiting grey areas of the technical rules.

Ferrari seemed to agree with the statement, causing Parr to remark: "I find it almost pleasurable to hear Ferrari say they have won 11 world championships with an illegal car."

It emerged in China that, so disappointed was Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali with Parr's statement, that he sought clear-the-air talks with the Williams official. More ...

Castroneves verdict  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' - see Hot News page.

04/17/09 Hearing that Helio Castroneves has been acquitted on all charges except the big conspiracy charge. The jury is still hung on that one. More later..... We hear that Penske has a 3rd car waiting for him here in Long Beach if he can get here by Saturday. We are told Penske brought his ALMS crew to service the car.
The Atlantic Series in trouble?  UPDATE An Atlantic team owner chimes in, Dear AR1.com, I read your comment today about the Atlantic Series. I totally agree with your assessment. It doesn’t make much sense why so many talented young driver prospects have chosen to go to Indy Lights with the vague hope of landing a paid drive in the IndyCar Series. It’s been as or more common for Atlantic grads to get the paid seats over the past decade; and in the meantime the prize money of the Atlantic Series plus the lower financial and injury risks from accidents make the Atlantic Series a far more attractive series financially for young drivers.

There is also a very strong Star Mazda grid in 2009, which bodes well for the 2010 Atlantic grid as many of those drivers are there seeking Mazda’s prize of a funded year in the Atlantic Series.

Lastly, I recall the 12 car Atlantic grid at the Vancouver Indy in 2004.  Then, and again in 2005, many naysayers believed the Atlantic Series would disappear.  In short order, Vicki O’Connor achieved a 27 car grid at the first race of the hugely successful 2006 Atlantic season, with all the teams purchasing new cars, engines, etc.  The current Atlantic cars are fine for several more years, so cost-wise the challenge now is less than it was during that cycle.  Eric Jensen, President – Jensen MotorSport, Inc.

04/16/09 A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, I have heard rumors that Atlantic teams are looking to bail out and move to another junior series.  With no TV package, sponsorship is hard to come by, which is made worse by the bad economy.  I am also told that because the series is no longer linked to Champ Car, and was not picked up by the IRL, the Atlantic Series is now a dead-end street for those drivers who have open wheel aspirations at the highest levels.

This is probably one reason the Indy Lights series is blossoming now - money that would have otherwise ended up in the Atlantic paddock is now in Indy Lights where a driver has IndyCars to move up to.  The well funded Junior Strous moved to Indy Lights in 2009 because he wanted to be an IndyCar driver. I suspect you will see more of that in the next two years.  Marv Allan

Dear Marv, As long as they are going to run races, pay $50k to win each event and the champ gets a million dollars, then it is a great place to be ... There really is no better ... without Mathiasen and Bomarito (see announcement of team withdrawal) someone's chances just got a lot better!  That is for sure.

The prize money has been promised by the series and the winners of the prizes get the "cash" to take wherever on the planet they want to run, or they can invest it in real estate and never race again ... but the idea is to go race at the next level, to perhaps get a discounted GP2 seat or the equivalent in the IRL. But certainly a driver with a million dollars can go almost anywhere and get a ride, so that was the idea to provide a real opportunity for the Atlantic champ to move up the racing food chain ... I can't believe racers are not lining up and hocking their wares to get a shot at this title. Can Vicki O'Connor work her magic once again? Mark C.

Castroneves: Now a marketing liability?  UPDATE A reader comments, Dear AR1.com, Regarding Helio’s future marketability after the trial is over and he prevails, I hope most people aren’t so naïve as to think that the IRS isn’t using Helio to send a message to everyone else.  Think about it, the IRS has been working with Helio and his lawyer to resolve this issue since it first came to light back in ’03 or ’04 when he got audited.  Then Helio wins Dancing with the Stars and he becomes a mass-market celebrity amongst common folk, not just open wheel race fans.  So what does the IRS do, they decide to file charges to use him as a poster boy to scare the rest of us into paying our taxes correctly.  Gee, is it just a coincidence that this trial took place in the run up to April 15th?

It happens every year and has been happening for decades.  Leona Helmsley, Redd Foxx, Willie Nelson, Wesley Snipes, etc.  Some beat the rap, some don’t; some went to jail, some just had all their possessions confiscated and sold off by the IRS.  This case is so complicated, and involves concepts that even the best tax lawyers in the country differ in opinion on—and in the corporate world this happens all the time, and when a company’s tax advisor’s opinion differs with the IRS’s interpretation of the code, a judge decides what is owed, but no one goes to jail. More ...

Renault & McLaren to change diffusers  Renault and McLaren will run with updated diffusers at the Chinese Grand Prix, BBC Sport is rumoring.  The two Formula 1 teams are reacting quickly to a decision by the sport's governing body, the FIA, to approve the use of split-level diffusers.

The FIA Court of Appeal this week rejected complaints from rival teams about the design used by Brawn Grand Prix, Toyota and Williams.

The decision will force the other teams to consider a drastic redesign. More ...

Dennis to quit F1 over 'lie-gate' affair  UPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Ron Dennis has stepped down as the CEO of the McLaren  F1 team - see this Hot News item.

04/15/09 (GMM)  Ron Dennis is expected to announce his complete withdrawal from the world of formula one on Thursday.

Ron Dennis out of F1 for good?  Do you think Michael Andretti, Max Mosley, and Fernando Alonso might be snickering just a little bit?
According to widespread speculation and reports, the former McLaren team boss will remain chairman of the Woking based company but leave the running of the racing operations entirely to Martin Whitmarsh and his deputies.

It is believed the announcement, to be made at the McLaren headquarters in Britain, is in reaction to the 'lie-gate' scandal, with some newspapers likening it to Dennis "falling on his sword" so that central figures like Whitmarsh and Lewis Hamilton can sidestep the blame.

The Daily Mail said the press announcement will follow an address to his staff, when Dennis is to "tell them that his involvement in grand prix racing is over after more than 40 years".

It is also rumored that Dennis' announcement, to involve the 61-year-old explaining that he will focus entirely on McLaren's new production road car division, may be part of a deal with the FIA ahead of the World Motor Sport Council hearing later this month. More ...

Showers possible for Chinese GP  (GMM)  Possible showers are forecast for Sunday's Chinese grand prix in Shanghai.

Similar to Thursday's cloudy and showery forecast, the local Chinese weather bureau predicted a probability of rain for the afternoon of the race.

Friday practice, however, should be held under mostly clear skies, before cloud - but probably no rain - arrives for Saturday qualifying.

Todt's next move F1  Nicolas Todt, co-creator of the GP2 ART Grand Prix team, has hinted at a possible future venture into F1. 

Nicolas Todt, joint-team principal of the highly successful GP2 ART Grand Prix team, has hinted at a possible future venture into Formula 1. 

ART, run by Frédéric Vasseur and Todt, currently operates in the main GP2 championship and the GP2 Asia Series, as well as Formula Three. The squad, which was founded in 2005, is highly respected, due not only to its various championship successes, but also for its development of drivers. More ...
McMurray team gone after 2009  The #26 Roush Fenway Racing team of Jamie McMurray is expected to be dumped by Roush when it has to cut back to four Cup teams after this season. Virginia Pilot
Schu involved in Kimi tire blunder?  UPDATE #2 (GMM)  Michael Schumacher's spokeswoman has confirmed that the former seven time world champion will not be at the forthcoming Chinese and Bahrain grands prix.

Following criticism of the 40-year-old German's apparent role in Ferrari's disastrous start to the 2009 season, it was speculated that the Italian team had decided to shelve his advisory role.

But Sabine Kehm, Schumacher's long time press spokeswoman, said the winner of 91 grands prix was never scheduled to travel to the forthcoming back-to-back races.

"Michael is not going to China because he is vacationing for a few days with his family.  Internally (within Ferrari) it is known and has nothing to do with the first two races," she said.

Kehm also confirmed that Schumacher will similarly not be trackside at Bahrain in just over a week, insisting: "That was also never planned."

04/06/09 Michael Schumacher's agent went on the attack here Monday in the face of criticism over the seven-time champion's role in Ferrari's dismal start to the new season.

Since retiring from Formula One Schumacher has acted as special advisor to his former team which has failed to take a single point from the first two races of the new campaign.

The 40-year-old German driving legend was taken to task by none other than former champion Niki Lauda for Ferrari's failings in Sunday's Malaysia Grand Prix when a major miscalculation left Felipe Massa qualifying in 16th place. More ...

An F1 track in Ontario?  The Niagara Falls Review has been busy in recent days investigating a story about a $200m racing circuit development in the area. The idea makes sense. Niagara has been suffering in recent years with new US passport requirements, rising fuel costs, border delays, inclement weather and the weakening US economy all reducing the number of visitors. Niagara is looking at ways to increase its numbers. At the moment two-thirds of the visitors come from the US and 26% from Canada. This means that only around eight percent visit from overseas. Interestingly, their spending contributes 20% of the tourist revenues. This means that Niagara is keen to attract a more international audience, to see the famous waterfall and to enjoy the area. A casino and luxury hotel was opened by the Seneca Indian tribe and this has helped, while there are two casinos on the Canadian side.

Now Kuwaiti bank Bayt Al Mal has announced that it is to fund construction of a one-mile oval complete with a 2.5 mile road course at Fort Erie, on the Canadian side. The aim is to create a home for NASCAR in Canada, but there has already been speculation that the circuit could also become the home of the Canadian Grand Prix. More ...
Kentucky lawsuit resolution not likely in time to secure 2010 date  The likelihood that Kentucky Speedway will be awarded a 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup race has become even more remote because an antitrust lawsuit by the track founders against NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. now likely won't be resolved until July at the earliest. The case, which is in U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, is not included in the hearing calendar finalized Monday for a two-week session beginning April 20. Although the court still add the case to the schedule, that would be rare in a case such as this one. The next two-week hearing session begins June 8 - the Monday prior to the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the track. NASCAR Chairman Brian France has said that NASCAR will not consider a realignment request for a Sprint Cup date from current owner Speedway Motorsports Inc. until the case is resolved. NASCAR typically begins the sanctioning process in April or May, and France has said that the track is running out of time to begin the realignment process Scene Daily
Audi R15 not legal?  
Rivals question the legality of the Audi R15  nose and adjoining wings
The Automobile Club de l'Ouest--organizer of the 24 Hours of Le Mans--is about to issue a clarification on the eligibility of the Audi R15 TDI prototype that recently won the 12 Hours of Sebring. The ACO, which also sets the rules for the American Le Mans Series, has promised to act swiftly in the face of protests from Audi's rivals. Peugeot, Aston Martin Racing and Oreca have all questioned two key areas of the design of the R15 turbo diesel.

New ACO director general Remy Brouard said, "We are speaking with everyone--Audi, Peugeot and Acura--to try to clarify these points. In any rule book, there are always some points to clarify."

Asked if the ACO could force Audi to change the R15, Brouard replied, "I cannot answer that question."

The main concern for Audi's rivals is a flap below the R15's raised nose. They argue that this constitutes an aerodynamic element that is outlawed in the regulations, which state that "with the exception of the rear wing . . . no bodywork or underbody element having a wing profile is permitted."

Aston Martin Racing team principal George Howard-Chappell said, "It looks like it acts exactly like a flap on a wing, with the splitter arrangement acting as the main plane."

An opening on the rear engine cover has also been questioned.

Peugeot is pushing for changes to the R15 ahead of its next scheduled outing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. AutoWeek

Jos Verstappen to join Pescarolo Sport?  In an interview on his website and on the Dutch television program “Holland Sport” Jos Verstappen confirmed his plans to race in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours. After winning the LMP2 category at Le Mans in 2008 the Dutchman is keen to return to the Circuit de la Sarthe.

During the television broadcast Verstappen, who was there with his son Max, was asked what he would like to do and the Dutchman confirmed he would like to do Le Mans again and that he had been in contact with some people about racing there in June.

On his personal website more details about the deal were given. Verstappen said: “I think I have the possibility to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I would love to do it, but I don’t know if I should do it though. I want to race in a competitive car and that’s not clear for me at the moment.”

When asked about his plans and the recent withdrawal of the Epsilon Euskadi entry Verstappen had an interesting answer. “It became apparent that Epsilon would be a difficult story. But there is another team. I have been in contact with Pescarolo Sport only last week. They are still looking for a driver in their LMP1 team and really want to have me in their car. Perhaps I could test for them at the end of the month. Next week we’ll be in touch with them again.”

Hendrick plane crash trial could start later this month  More than four years after a Hendrick Motorsports plane crash that killed 10 people on the way to the NASCAR Cup race Oct. 24, 2004, at Martinsville Speedway, lawsuits over who was responsible for the crash could finally go to trial in the next couple of weeks. A final pretrial conference is set for Friday in cases involving Hendrick Motorsports, the estates of the pilots, the U.S. government and the widows of Hendrick Motorsports engine builder Randy Dorton, general manager Jeff Turner and Tony Stewart pilot Scott Lathram (a passenger on the plane). The trial could start as early as next Monday in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem, N.C. At issue is who is responsible for the accident – HMS Holdings (parent company of Hendrick Motorsports), the pilots themselves or the air-traffic controllers. According to court documents, the crash resulted when the pilots overshot the airport by five miles and failed to follow the missed-approach procedure for the Martinsville/Blue Ridge Airport, which requires a climbing right turn to avoid Bull Mountain. The plane, in heavy cloud cover, climbed without turning and crashed into the mountain, killing all 10 aboard. Scene Daily
Tracy to drive for KV Racing at 500  UPDATE Paul Tracy is poised to return to professional auto racing.  According to Speed TV, the 41-year-old West Hill, Ont., native will announce the deal during this weekend's Indy Racing League stop in Long Beach, Calif.  Tracy will compete in this year's Indianapolis 500 and a few other races on a limited schedule. Two likely candidates will probably be the Canadian stops on the IRL circuit (Toronto and Edmonton), Speed TV said.

04/13/09 Paul Tracy has not yet been officially signed to drive for KV Racing Technology in next month's Indianapolis 500, but that appears to be a formality at this point.  A news conference is expected to be held Friday at the Long Beach (Calif.) Grand Prix. Tracy last competed in the 500 in 2002 when he finished second in controversial fashion to Helio Castroneves.

Tracy's team appealed the chief steward's decision that Castroneves was leading at the time of a second-turn accident involving Buddy Lazier and Laurent Redon, but Indy Racing League founder Tony George later upheld Brian Barnhart's ruling.

Tracy, who turned 40 in December, will be competing in his sixth 500. He drove in one IndyCar Series race last season, finishing fourth in Edmonton with Vision Racing.

KV's full-season driver is Mario Moraes. It is still possible that the team owned by Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser could have an additional car in the 500, either driven by Townsend Bell or Oriol Servia. Indy Star

Abu Dhabi to change 3pm start time?  Organizers of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix have revealed that they are considering changing the start time of their race to a 'unique' hour, as opposed to the mid-afternoon slot of 3pm which is currently scheduled. The Yas Marina circuit, still currently 'work in progress', will make history by becoming the first to host a Grand Prix in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) when the season comes to a close on 1 November.

"At the moment the start time is 3pm," circuit chief Philippe Gurdjian confirmed to Autosport. "The final decision depends on Mr. Ecclestone (head of Formula One Management). We have a certain idea of what we would like to do, but I cannot yet tell you what it is! We have a very specific idea, and I hope we will be able to do it - but it would be as unique as the track."
New GM CEO prepared to bankrupt the company  UPDATE #2 The U.S. Treasury Department is advising General Motors to prepare for a possible bankruptcy filing by June 1, the New York Times is reporting.  GM's new chief has expressed a desire to restructure outside of bankruptcy, but some experts tell the Times there's little chance of that.  The plan is being made in case GM is "unable to reach agreement with bondholders to exchange roughly $28 billion in debt into equity in G.M. and with the United Automobile Workers union," according to the article.

04/07/09 General Motors Corp. is speeding up preparations for a possible bankruptcy filing even as directors seek deeper savings this week to avoid that outcome, people familiar with the plans said.  The bankruptcy readiness focuses on forming a new company from GM’s best assets if necessary, said the people, who asked not to be named because the matter is private. The cost-cut discussions center on how to go beyond GM’s proposal to slash debt by 46 percent and shed 47,000 jobs in 2009, and will include talks with Treasury officials, the people said.

The moves are a response to President Barack Obama’s March 30 rejection of GM’s bid to keep $13.4 billion in federal loans. With bondholders and the United Auto Workers balking at concessions, a push for more savings makes bankruptcy more “probable,” Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson has said.

GM’s board met today and yesterday, and more discussions are planned inside GM and with the Obama administration, the people said. Obama gave the biggest U.S. automaker 60 days to restructure, without specifying what steps were needed to stem $82 billion in losses since 2004.

Planning for a court filing was ratcheted up in February as a precaution against a defeat for GM’s bid to keep its U.S. loans, the people said. Detroit-based GM said it prefers to restructure outside bankruptcy court. More ...

Race bans possible for McLaren ungrateful Hamilton  UPDATE #3 This is a response to Mr. Ralph Monroe.  First of all Mr. Monroe, so Lewis Hamilton lied and bent the rules, so did drivers like Aryton Senna and Michael Schumacher when they drove for Benetton and Ferrari. I would like to know why in the hell don't you ever condemn those two for running drivers off the track and crashing them out of the race? Oh I see - those two guys are special and Lewis is not. Also Ralph, Ron Dennis did not see color he saw a future world champion who climbed his way up through Kart, Formula Ford, F3, GP2 and a world champion in his second year. Maybe you should think before you judge others.  Alistair Fannell

04/12/09 Holy Cow.  Now Ron Dennis is the bad guy for all the transgressions he has done to poor Lewis Hamilton and his father.  Let's see--McLaren paid for all of Lewis' racing from karts. Formula Renault with the best team, Formula 3 with the best team, GP2 with the best team, a rookie placed in the best Grand Prix car of that year and given favorable treatment to the 2 time World Champion whom Ron screwed for Lewis, and finally, gave him the ride that made him World Champion and paid him a fortune.  A mere two Grands Prix after he won the World Championship on a red carpet paved with McLaren gold, he and his father are talking trash about the team. Amazing. And the suggestion that the Hamiltons are trying to pressure Dennis to quit his own team is absurd.  Without Dennis, Hamilton would be nothing.

At the same time, Lewis has disobeyed team orders that led to the meltdown in Hungary with Alonso, lied to the stewards, and it is all Ron's fault.  Wow.  I think that the reason all the controversy Lewis carries with him has nothing to do with his skin color.  It has everything to do with the fact that the guy obviously stirs up a lot of trouble wherever he goes.  He is not the best driver on the grid.  McLaren should be done with him and bring in Vettel or Rosberg, either of whom would have been just as good with the cars Lewis was given by McLaren and far less trouble.  The only World Champion in recent history who never paid his dues has a funny way of saying thanks.  Ralph Monroe

04/11/09 Lewis Hamilton faces the threat of being banned from up to three races when the World Motor Sport Council meet in Paris in 17 days’ time to hand out punishments following Formula One’s ‘Liargate’ scandal.

But the biggest loser of all could be the man who has bankrolled Hamilton’s career since he was 13 years old and who was the team’s principal for 24 years before standing down in January. Ron Dennis, now McLaren’s chairman and chief executive as well as a substantial shareholder, will come under increasing pressure to make a decisive exit from the team he built up as the only way to ensure that world champion Hamilton stays on board.

Hamilton and his father, Anthony, are believed to have lost faith in the judgment of the McLaren chairman and sources say this is no longer a uniquely held view. Inside the team, there is said to be a gathering belief that until Dennis quits, McLaren will not be given the chance to start afresh after the shame of ‘Ferrarigate’ cost them a $100million fine in 2007.

McLaren face possible expulsion, or suspension, from the world championship after the WMSC charged them with bringing the sport into disrepute for the second time in 19 months. More ...

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