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Harvick to fold truck team Unless Kevin Harvick Inc. secures sponsorship, it is unlikely to field a full-time entry in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series entry next season, KHI co-owner Kevin Harvick said.
"The truck future is up in the air. We probably won't run it again next year if we don't have something on the side of it," Harvick said.
"We've made the commitment to run it this year and do the things that we need to do there to get it through the year and run it like a first-class operation as it has run the last three or four years.
New rules to limit team owners In a little-known codicil to the 2006 rules book, NASCAR executives are trying to limit car owners to four teams by precisely pinning down business relationships between various stock-car teams - like the joint engine operation run by Robert Yates and Jack Roush, the engine-and-engineering support provided by Rick Hendrick to MB2 Motorsports and Haas Racing, the engine-and-engineering support provided by Joe Gibbs to new team owners Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach. The sport's Daytona bosses are also trying to pin down the roles that carmakers - GM, Ford, Dodge and Toyota - are allowed, in advance of Toyota's step up to Nextel Cup next season. And it appears that NASCAR may want to demand access to tax records to pin down just who owns what and who pays whom how much. The surprising new rules - apparently out since February but not in wide distribution until this week - are generating a lot of head-scratching among the few who are familiar with them. A number of key figures expressed astonishment yesterday when asked about the rules. More at the Winston Salem Journal
DEI to buy MB2?UPDATE #2 Jay Frye, the general manager and part-owner of the MB2 team, said that much of the speculation about a DEI-MB2 merger is just that, speculation. "Everyone's got this four-team program idea, but we're like two and they're like two.... so how do we both do things more efficiently together," Frye said. "That's how this all got started. Our buildings are four minutes apart. So we're trying to work together on this car of tomorrow. It's not about engines; it's about car-building. Everything beyond that is purely speculation." Winston Salem Journal
06/04/06 According to sources in the NASCAR garage MB2 Motorsports could merge with, or be sold to Dale Earnhardt Inc. MB2 still has unsold sponsorship inventory available for Sterling Marlin's #14 car, and the team's other driver, #01-Joe Nemechek, is said to be on Toyota's short list for 2007. Ford Racing
06/03/06 There's speculation that Teresa Earnhardt is planning to buy MB2 Motorsports, with drivers #01-Joe Nemechek and #14-Sterling Marlin, in addition to the ongoing speculation that she may be planning to sell DEI to John Menard, a home-improvements czar who has long been involved in racing. Marlin, who drives for the Jay Frye-run MB2 Chevy operation, said he has heard the sale talk, but that he doesn't know what's going on. Ryan Pemberton, the crew chief for Nemechek, said he has talked with Frye about it, but he's not sure, either, what might be going on behind the scenes. Earnhardt doesn't grant interviews, and Frye isn't due here until today. So yesterday it was up to Richie Gilmore, the general manager at DEI, to try to explain the situation. "We're not selling out," Gilmore said. "Our plans right now are to go to a three-car operation next year with Paul Menard (John's son). John is a great sponsor for us, and we do a lot with Menard's, engines, and he's at our company a lot, and I guess people speculate when they see him around." Winston Salem Journal
Bernie pulling for Hill Bernie Ecclestone says he hopes Damon Hill’s rise to becoming the new president of the British Racing Drivers’ Club will pave the way to Silverstone remaining an integral part of the Formula 1 calendar.
The BRDC, which operates the track, has frequently been threatened by Ecclestone to have the rights to stage the race withdrawn, amid concerns over the facilities.
But Ecclestone says he believes he will be able to talk business with the former F1 World Champion to secure his long-term role.
Said Ecclestone: “They have got a new board of people now so maybe they will do something. I can deal with Damon easy - we'll see what happens.
“We want to keep the British Grand Prix and we'll see if we can make it happen.”
The current deal to host the event expires in 2009.
Hamburg eyes F1 race - report (GMM) Northern port city Hamburg is eyeing a spot on the formula one calendar, according to reports in Germany.
RTL's sport.de claims that the city, located on the Elbe river, is planning a Monte Carlo-like street circuit, despite the fact that Germany is already represented on the annual schedule by grands prix at Hockenheim and the Nurburgring.
Reportedly, a key meeting - involving the German automobile association and former F1 driver Christian Danner - recently took place.
''I was invited ... to discuss the possibility of a city circuit in Hamburg,'' 47 GP veteran and 48-year-old Danner was quoted as saying.
He explained that the objective at present is to investigate the feasibility of a circuit, and to attempt to win government backing.
Danner also revealed that two possible locations for a Hamburg circuit have been identified.
Kasemets trying to do more races We hear that Tonis Kasemets is trying to put deals together to complete the Champ Car season. Currently he is contracted to run 6 races with Rocketsports - starting with Portland and continuing with Cleveland, Toronto, Edmonton, Denver, Road America. We hear he would like to add San Jose, Montreal, Australia and Mexico City.
And so it continues......UPDATE A reader writes, Just a few comments about the Montreal situation outlined in the "... and so it continues" rumor. First some facts: it was not Normand Legault who saved the Canadian GP, but was instead the 12 million dollars the federal and provincial governments paid Bernie Ecclestone (guised as compensation for lost tobacco sponsorship revenue) which saved it. Without that money, I seriously doubt Legault would have been able to do anything to save the GP.
Second, during the election campaigns for the Montreal mayoral seat last fall, opposition parties revealed that the World Aquatic Championships (FINA) cost the city $40 million in reality, thus ten times greater than the $4 million stated. Creative accounting was used to bring the number disclosed by the mayor after the event.
Finally some internet forum rumors are suggesting that Rocketsports did not make an offer, nor ever even speak to Carpentier. It is being suggested that this was a fabrication on Carpentier’s part to help him get an ARCA or Busch ride, as he sits home currently unemployed.
Just stating some facts (and rumors). Alex Melikian, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
06/03/06 All of this uncertainty about the Champ Car and IRL merger is not helping the Champ Car cause in Montreal. The race organizers here yesterday said they spent most of Friday not promoting their event, but taking media calls dealing with Patrick Carpentier's decision not to run for Rocketsports.
Carpentier was quoted as saying in a French paper yesterday that Rocketsports aren't running well, they're in the back of the grid, and that he had more to lose than gain by running for them. He said further that he had no interest in driving merely to put people in the grandstands, and that he's sure NASCAR is coming to Montreal and he wants to get an ARCA ride this year and a full seat in Busch for next year.
Alan Labrosse was Carpentier's long-time manager, and as the Champ Car race promoter obviously feels stung that his former driver has in effect chosen the enemy's camp, giving Legault another ace. Carpentier defends his decision, saying he doesn't care who the promoter is, he's just looking out for himself.
Normand Legault has huge influence with the mayor. He played a huge role, obviously, in saving F1 here over the tobacco legislation issue a few years ago, then rode to the mayor's rescue last spring to save the embarrassment of Montreal losing the world aquatic championships when the previous head of the organizing committee got way in over his head and was involved in all kinds of shady dealings; this guy took his own life and the mayor called on Legault to go to bat with him, which he did.
The aquatics lost "only" $4 million, not a lot, really, considering the hit the city would have taken in the international sports community which wouldn't have even booked a layover at the airport had the meet fallen through.
So, if any of this is based on political favors owed, NASCAR is in and Champ Car is out.
Champ Car and IRL to switch dates at Milwaukee We still expect a merger making this point moot, but this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article says that the new Milwaukee Mile promoters would like to see a switch in the Champ Car and IRL dates at the historic 1-mile oval if both series continue to race as separate entities. The track lost the boost in attention it used to get as being the traditional Indy Car race the week after the Indy 500.
There's been plenty of talk about reunification, of course, and that would make this point moot. But the Mile's new investor group is moving ahead in discussion with both sides on the assumption that both will be in existence and want to come back next year.
This is a big weekend for Milwaukee Mile Marketing, a coming out party, of sorts, for the group that last off-season signed an 18-year lease with State Fair Park to run the track.
It's a given that the group can do a better job of promotion than the state did. That's why they're in the business.
Toyota to run more than 3 teamsUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today with the Germain Racing announcement (see Hot News page).
05/31/06 Toyota might have more than three teams in its debut year in NASCAR's Nextel Cup series after all.
Jim Aust, vice president of Toyota Motorsports and president and CEO of Toyota Racing Development, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that two of its current teams in the Craftsman Truck Series are hoping to run some races in 2007 with the new Car of Tomorrow that NASCAR plans to launch at Bristol next spring.
Germain Racing, which fields trucks for Todd Bodine and Ted Musgrave, and Wyler Racing, which has Jack Sprague as its truck driver, have told Aust they are looking for sponsorship to run a limited Car of Tomorrow schedule next season.
The Car of Tomorrow is a bigger, boxier vehicle with a front-end splitter that NASCAR has designed to eventually replace the slick aerodynamic models that manufacturers spent the past 10 years developing. The Car of Tomorrow is scheduled to run in 15 races next season in a phase-in process that will be complete by 2009.
NASCAR officials held the latest Car of Tomorrow test on Tuesday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Only Chevrolet and Dodge took part. Ford teams didn't participate because they are waiting for NASCAR to approve a final car design before they begin building another model, and Toyota didn't have a car at the test because its Car of Tomorrow is not yet completed.
The next test is Aug. 21 at Michigan International Speedway.
Aust said it was something of a surprise when the Germain and Wyler teams approached him about competing in Cup next year.
"We had planned on only running three teams and six cars next year, but these guys came forward and said they'd like to look into running some races with the Car of Tomorrow to test the water," Aust said. "This just came up in the last couple of weeks.
"Both teams have said they would like to eventually come up into the (Cup) series sometime in the next couple of years and this could be a good test for them." More at AP article
Merger talks near finish?UPDATE #10 From today's Journal de Montreal: The biggest conflict in the history of North American racing will soon be settled. As promoter Normand Legault was working to evict the Champ Car series from Ile Notre Dame (Circuit Gilles Villeneuve), the Journal de Montreal has learned that its reunification with the Indy Racing League is a certain thing. This will signal a new super-championship that will begin next season, and all that remains to be seen is if Montreal will be part of it.
Last weekend in Indiana, Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven attended the Indianapolis 500 in the suite of IRL owner Tony George. In the local papers, journalists close to George wrote that an agreement in principle had been reached between the parties concerning the use of chassis, engines and tires that will be used in a future championship.
At the Grand Prix of Monaco, a source close to Champ Car presented the unification as a "done deal." Another source said that the text of the agreement had already been done. Journal de Montreal [Editor's Note: Both Tony George and Kevin Kalkhoven are not saying this to USA journalists.]
05/16/06 Responding to a report in today’s Toronto Sun claiming that a letter of intent to merge IRL and Champ Car could come by Thursday, IRL VP/PR John Griffin told The Daily, “At this time there are no plans to schedule any sort of announcement or press conference in the immediate future.” Griffin also said IRL founder Tony George indicated he and Champ Car investor Kevin Kalkhoven “have made progress but it's very slow progress” THE DAILY
05/16/06 Recent talks between IRL founder Tony George and Champ Car investor Kevin Kalkhoven have been “so positive that an announcement of at least a letter of intent to merge the two series could be made by Thursday.” George hosted Kalkhoven during last weekend’s Indy 500 Pole Day activities at IMS, and the two also met at Saturday’s Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston along with IRL team owner Roger Penske. Toronto Sun
05/11/06 Seen at Indy today - Tony George and Kevin Kalkhoven talking. Enough said.
05/11/06 IRL Founder Tony George yesterday dismissed Internet rumors of an IRL-Champ Car World Series merger, saying that “no announcement of an accord” is imminent (we reported this a couple of days ago).
George said he continues to talk with his Champ Car counterpart, Kevin Kalkhoven, but busy schedules this month for both have limited their opportunities.
"I'm anxious to continue the dialogue, but there's nothing I can offer at this point," George said. "There's a lot of unanswered questions. I tried to caution everyone a few months ago not to get their hopes too high."
But Champ Car driver Paul Tracy, “encouraged by” talks between George and Champ Car investor Kevin Kalkhoven, today will announce a five-year extension with Forsythe Racing, foregoing a move to NASCAR. Tracy: “If they get back together and all the best drivers in the world are there again, that’s something that definitely would interest me” Indianapolis Star
05/08/06 We are downgrading this rumor to 'speculation' today because merger talks are not nearing the finish AutoRacing1.com has learned. According to our sources negotiations are moving forward, but as with any merger both sides must perform their due diligence and that means going through hundreds of contracts, some of which may have clauses that could delay the merger until 2008.
From what we are hearing, a merger is not as close as we were initially led to believe, and as Tony George said, all the stars and moons would have to align just right for it to happen in 2007. So an announcement in May is extremely unlikely to happen, and August is probably more realistic.
With that said, some major hurdles have been overcome so everyone is still focused and remaining positive that it can eventually happen despite the fact it has become far more complicated now that the story was leaked by AutoWeek.
And no, the new Champ Car is not on hold and it will be ready in time for the 2007 season, merger or no merger. As for Scott Atherton running the merged series, that rumor is also false. Mark C.
05/06/06 This Indianapolis Business Journal (IBJ) article says [key excerpts] Indy Racing League President Tony George said earlier this year "the stars, moons and planets" would need to align for his series to merge with open-wheel rival Champ Car in time for the 2007 season.
According to motorsports sources, the alignment appears to be happening, and George told IBJ he is cautiously optimistic.
George said in a May 3 interview that discussions with Champ Car principal Kevin Kalkhoven are ongoing, but that there are still a number of issues to iron out.
"I remain optimistic that as long as we're having dialogue, it will lead to good things," he said.
One issue George said would not be up for discussion was control. He said he aimed to keep control of the open-wheel series the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which his family owns, is involved in.
"I don't need others who don't know what we're about telling us what to do," George said. "Last June at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a good example of what can go wrong when you're not in charge. Sometimes having influence isn't quite enough."
Control aside, George said he favors open-wheel unification.
"I think people would like to see it because [a unified open-wheel series] could have the potential to ascend the top rung of motorsports," he said.
Though George declined to discuss what issues remain to be worked out, a source close to both series said next year's schedule is the only sticking point.
A North American-based open-wheel race series strong enough to eclipse NASCAR in popularity, much less the world-leading F1, might seem like a joke, but Mel Poole, president of Charlotte, N.C.-based SponsorLogic, said people who feel that way have a short memory.
Before George broke away from Championship Auto Racing Teams — Champ Car's predecessor — and formed the IRL in 1994, "studies showed sponsor exposure was greater in CART than NASCAR," Poole said. "I think had [CART] fixed their problems in the early 1990s, they'd be challenging F1 for world supremacy in auto racing."
Doug Boles, who heads up the Indianapolis office of Ignition Inc., an Atlanta-based sports and event marketing firm, said unifying the two sides is no "magic bullet" to save open-wheel racing.
"A merger cleans up the noise in openwheel racing and brings about a short-term media hit, but you have to convert that into long-term growth," said Boles, who is also part owner of Panther Racing, an Indianapolis-based IRL team.
Boles said George has not contacted Panther officials for their input on a merger, but George said he has been in contact with several teams about a potential deal. Sources said officials for Andretti-Green Racing, Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Rahal Letterman Racing have discussed the merger with George.
George and Kalkhoven agreed to meet separately in late April with Zak Brown, president of locally based motorsports marketing firm Just Marketing, to get a feel for what the sponsorship climate would be for a merged IRL/Champ Car series.
Brown represents a litany of corporate clients, such as Subway restaurants, DeWalt Tools and Crown Royal, that are involved in NASCAR but not in the IRL or Champ Car. Brown said he has heard from several companies that would like to be involved in a unified North American open-wheel series, including potentially becoming a title sponsor.
Brown said a major mass retailer or large restaurant chain willing to spend millions to market the series would be ideal.
"I think they need to look at a sponsor that extends beyond motorsports and reaches out to a mass audience," Brown said.
From his conversations with George and Kalkhoven, Brown said he sensed the merger is closer than ever.
"My sense in talking to them is that the rift is gone," he said. "I think both sides want to get together, and commercial interest is pretty high."
Brown said negotiations are entering a critical period with a small window to "get this done" for the 2007 season.
"To get the schedule set, I think they have to make an announcement by June or July," he said.
Some sources close to the IRL have said a merger announcement could come by the end of the month, perhaps on the Indianapolis 500's Carburetion Day May 26.
But George said he prefers to keep the focus on the Indianapolis 500 this month.
Even so, George's main spokesman, Fred Nation said, "Things can move quickly I suppose."
Although George said work is ongoing on finalizing the IRL's 2007 schedule, sources said talks between Kalkhoven and George have included the possibility of an 18-race schedule for a unified series next year, with 12 ovals and six street and road courses.
That would be a major departure for Champ Car teams, who this year will race on 14 road and street courses and only a single oval. IRL's 2006 schedule includes 11 ovals and three road courses.
"Our sponsors are very interested in where we're going to race and which markets we're going to be in next year," said Mike Hull, managing director for Ganassi Racing. "But this is bigger than what's good for Chip Ganassi Racing. If open-wheel racing truly wants to succeed, it has to change its ways. The most important thing is [to] have clarity and a single direction for open-wheel racing." More ...
Hamilton to share '07 seat with de la Rosa? (GMM) McLaren could employ a Red Bull-like 'driver share' scheme in 2007, according to the latest rumor.
Following the lead of Red Bull's arrangement last year with Christian Klien and Vitantonio Liuzzi, reports in the Spanish 'Marca' newspaper claim that a similar idea is being thrashed around at the Woking based squad.
Marca suggests that current team test driver Pedro de la Rosa, and rising star of GP2 Lewis Hamilton, might both contest grands prix alongside Fernando Alonso next season.
Supposedly, the thinking behind the idea is to ensure some continuity in the lineup, with both Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya set to depart. Hamilton's part-time drive, meanwhile, would ease him into the grind of life as a grand prix racer.
Also on Thursday, 'MF1' showed it is serious about formula one by advertising for several positions, mainly in the area of aerodynamics.
Valentino Rossi, meanwhile, threatened to give F1 only a short break about speculation of a four-wheeled switch, by signing just a one-year extension to his MotoGP contract for Yamaha.
Franchitti eyeing NASCAR? According to Gordon Kirby's latest column on his website, Honda money for driver salaries in the IRL will dry up at the end of this year and Dario Franchitti is looking at NASCAR as a possibility.
He adds, Honda looks likely to spend most of its time and money on its new Acura ALMS program next year with teams expected from Andretti-Green and Rahal and possibly Newman/Haas.
Toyota to get early NASCAR approval Toyota hopes to have its Camrys for next year submitted to NASCAR in the next week or two as it tries to get a jump on the approval process. The deadline for submissions is July 1, but Toyota's NASCAR program Manager, Pat Wall, said Tuesday that he would like to have a Toyota "car of today" in NASCAR's hand in the next two or three weeks and is making arrangements for NASCAR to take the car to the wind tunnel for testing. NASCAR will have four submissions of cars of tomorrow, four new trucks (all manufacturers are making changes to the trucks) and Toyota's Cup car and a Toyota Busch car to approve for next season, Wall said. Toyota also has a new cylinder head for its engine that it is trying to get approved and will submit a revised engine block soon as well. NASCAR Daily Scene
Rudd to stand in for Stewart Ricky Rudd spent part of Wednesday getting medical clearance so he can stand by for Tony Stewart this weekend at Dover and part of the day practicing with the Home Depot Chevrolet crew getting in and out of the race car. Rudd said “We practiced driver changes...my part of it because I’m sure Tony’s still resting. Everyone’s seat belts and shoulder harnesses and seats are a little different so I’ve been working and trying to come up with something that is easy to make and quick enough to make on a pit stop without giving up a lot of time.” His super sub role will apparently be decided on a week to week basis. “I think a lot of it is going to be let’s see how it works this weekend” said Rudd. “When you have an alternate game plan like Tony Stewart and these guys are having to take right now I think you leave everything as open as you can and you’ve gotta be real flexible. We don’t really know. Tony might be able to stay in the car the whole race. There are a lot of unknowns here so we’re just kind of winging it as we go.” PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show
Busch, Mayfield to be finedUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. NASCAR announced today that NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet, has been fined, penalized points and placed on probation because of a rule infraction this past Sunday during the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
Busch was in violation of Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) of the NASCAR Rule Book. He disobeyed a directive from a NASCAR official, entered the racing surface without authorization and threw an object at another competitor’s car during the event. He has been fined $50,000, penalized 25 Driver Championship points and placed on probation until Dec. 31. The infraction also resulted in car owner Rick Hendrick being penalized 25 Owner Championship points.
In addition, the No. 19 Dodge team was found to be in violation of Section 12-4-A, 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment used that do not conform to NASCAR rules) and Section 20-12.8.1A (roof height too low in post-race inspection). That infraction resulted in crew chief Chris Andrews being fined $35,000, driver Jeremy Mayfield losing 25 driver points and car owner Ray Evernham losing 25 owner points.
Also, Don Richardson, crew member on the No. 5 Chevrolet team, has been fined $5,000 and placed on probation until Dec. 31. He violated 12-4-A, because of improper use of a NASCAR credential.
05/29/06 Kyle Busch could face the loss of points and a monetary fine for throwing a piece of his HANS device at Casey Mears’ car after an accident on Lap 313 of Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600. Both drivers were near the front of the pack when Mears suddenly spun coming out of Turn 4. Mears bumped the wall then came back across the track and clipped Busch in the left side, sending him into the wall and out of the race. Video replays showed Mears had no control of his car when he hit Busch. As he was being walked toward an emergency vehicle, Busch pulled away from a track worker and tossed his protective device at Mears’ car as it went past. "It was just frustration," Busch said. "We had a great race car. We were coming on there at the end. We were clicking them off."
Garfinkel takes new positionUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' as AutoRacing1.com has been able to confirm that Garfinkel has indeed left the team for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
05/31/06 The Indy grapevine says that Ganassi Racing marketing honcho Tom Garfinkel has left the team to take up a high-level position with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Not sure of the validity of this rumor. Waiting for confirmation from the team.
Is new Champ Car oval-track ready? There have been a lot of rumors and speculation out on the internet and within the IRL that the new Panoz Champ Car is not suitable for ovals. The 'fact' is that it is suitable for all ovals. We contacted Champ Car to confirm this and a spokesperson told AutoRacing1.com, "Why would we not design it for ovals. These rumors are totally false. In fact the new Champ Car exceeds all FIA and IRL requirements for safety." Mark C.
Penske: Racing should return to Detroit Roger Penske received countless kudos for his leadership of the Super Bowl XL committee that pulled off a fabulous week of bowl-related activities, not to mention the big game.
Earlier this month, he was named chairman of the civic group, Downtown Detroit Partnership, which has taken on a downtown cleanup effort.
What more can Penske do for Detroit?
Perhaps spearhead an effort to return auto racing to the city?
"I think Detroit should have a race," Penske said Sunday before the Indianapolis 500, which his driver Sam Hornish Jr. won, giving Penske 14 victories in the famed race as a team owner.
Penske emphasized "should", indicating it is something that is a desire and want but not on the front burner.
Just as there were numerous reasons for the Grand Prix's departure from Detroit after 2001, the 20th anniversary of the event, there are numerous factors stalling its potential return.
They must be overcome, however, and not just because I happen to enjoy racing. More at Detroit News
Atlantic Series to announce new sponsor, tire supplier INDIANAPOLIS (May 30, 2006) – The Yokohama Tire Corporation and the Champ Car Atlantic Championship have mutually agreed to end their partnership after the completion of the 2006 Atlantic season.
Yokohama will continue to serve as the Official Tire and presenting sponsor of the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda throughout the 2006 campaign, but the two entities have decided to part company after the season, bringing to an end a relationship that has lasted for the past 18 years.
The Champ Car Atlantic Championship will feature a new exclusive tire supplier and series sponsor beginning in 2007. The series is expected to announce this new partnership within the next few days. More ...
Hamilton could take 2nd seat at McLaren in ’07UPDATE #3 We are upgrading this rumor to 'strong' today. Ron Dennis has given the strongest hint yet that protege Lewis Hamilton is ready to graduate to motor sport's highest category.
The 21-year-old, who is presently the standout of 2006's support 'GP2' category, is being mentioned as a possible teammate for McLaren arrival Fernando Alonso next year.
Indeed, with team incumbent Kimi Raikkonen thought to be definitely Ferrari-bound, rumors in Monaco last weekend suggested that Juan Pablo Montoya has now been quietly told that his services will not be required beyond October's Brazilian grand prix.
''(After GP2) we will guide him to the next and highest level,'' team principal Dennis, referring to Hamilton - who has Caribbean ancestry - told the 'Times'.
Dennis added: ''Will he be in formula one next year? I believe he will be.''
But for which team? The Englishman answered: ''I don't know yet.''
Hamilton's father, meanwhile, confirmed to the newspaper that 'a number of teams' have already declared their interest in his youngster.
He said: ''But Lewis desperately wants to drive for McLaren. He would not be fazed and would not let the team down.''
05/09/06 "Lewis's performance in the Saturday race was the most phenomenal I have ever seen in GP2," Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren's chief executive, said. "If he continues like that he could decimate the entire field through the remainder of the year. This is doubly impressive when you consider that most of his rivals are in their second year racing in the category. Outstanding stuff."
Hamilton's Trinidadian roots have no impact, of course, on his ability to bear down on a corner at 200 mph-plus, just as Woods' multi-cultural background has no influence on his capacity to send a golf ball arrowing through the ether. In fact, if you mention the color of Hamilton's skin to Dennis, his own complexion takes on a darker hue.
"His blackness isn't important," Dennis said. "I have constantly said to him the moment that you exploit your blackness, you are going to have a problem with me. Basically, you've got to develop your career on your ability to drive a racing car."
Hamilton's hit rate is phenomenal. His stunning display at the Nurburgring, where he won on Sunday despite a 10-second drive-thru penalty, made Dennis's eyes water, and an awful lot of racing talent has passed through those hands, Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Mika Hakkinen to name but three. Winning more than 50 per cent of Formula 3 races is rare. A 75 per cent return is almost unheard of. McLaren signed Prost in 1980 on the back of seven wins in 12 European F3 starts. In 1983, Senna rattled off 12 wins from 20 races in British F3 and seven years later nine wins in 17 attempts proved Hakkinen's pedigree.
The point about GP2 is that all the drivers are in the same machinery. The sight of Hamilton carving past drivers of greater experience, not least the move he pulled on his Art Grand Prix team-mate Alexandre Premat in Germany, forced Dennis to abandon caution.
After the demolition of that GP2 field, Dennis conceded that McLaren may indeed be the team for him. "It's not impossible," Dennis said. More at Telegrapgh.co.uk
05/07/06 (GMM) Lewis Hamilton could follow in 2006 rookie Nico Rosberg's tire-tracks by using the GP2 seat at team 'ART' as his final stepping-stone to F1.
The young Briton, with a long term relationship with McLaren and Mercedes, has been dominant this weekend at the Nurburgring, winning both races in the support category.
Foreseeably, Hamilton - who would be the first black racer in formula one - could emerge next to Fernando Alonso at the silver-clad team in 2007.
Asked whether the GP2 driver appeared ready for the pinnacle of motor sport, Michael Schumacher's manager Willi Weber told 'Premiere': ''It looks like it.''
05/07/06 According to a report on autosport.com, McLaren Mercedes protege Lewis Hamilton could be considered as teammate to Fernando Alonso in the teams 2nd car for 2007.
"He's doing a good job obviously, and he was very dominant yesterday," Ron Dennis, whose McLaren team have had Hamilton under contract for a decade now, said today.
"It's very early days, and we'll see how his performance unfolds. Clearly, our position as a team is to have the best available drivers, and it is always nice to have a choice.
"[Mercedes director] Norbert [Haug] and I invested a lot of money and time in Hamilton, going right back to when he was 11 years old, I think. It's nice to see he has responded to the challenge, and he is doing his bit of the relationship."
"We have a very clear objective to end up with the best available drivers. We're concentrating on winning races and are not too concerned about next year."
NASCAR might shorten COT back end NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp told SPEEDTV.com Saturday that NASCAR is looking at cutting up to six inches of the rear end of the COT design, which Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton confirmed. “We’re talking about it,” said Pemberton. “The manufacturers are looking at some different things and we are, too. With running the wing, it’s given us a lot more options of what we can do with the body from some of the things that we’d worked on early on when it was just a spoiler. We’re looking at all that.”
Villeneuve’s future is again uncertainUPDATE Despite beating his German teammate Nick Heidfeld just about every race weekend, rumors persist that Villeneuve could be replaced by Kubica, who had a big wreck in Monaco on Thursday, in 2007. So there you have it, a German manufacturer picking a German driver over Villeneuve even though he is inferior. It is decisions such as this that hurt the "sport" part of auto racing.
04/28/06 (GMM) BMW-Sauber is likely to pair Polish rookie Robert Kubica alongside team incumbent Nick Heidfeld for the 2007 season.
The rising speculation, however, means that 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve's perpetually uncertain future is once again in the spotlight, with principal Mario Theissen refusing to comment on the F1 gossip.
He told 'sport1.de' that a decision about 2007, likely to be a difficult one with 35-year-old 'JV' now performing better than last year - would only be made 'at the end of the season'.
Theissen added: ''At the moment we will not be saying anything about that.''
What he will talk about, though, is Kubica, BMW's highly impressive rookie 'Friday' test driver, who Theissen thinks will be ready to race grands prix by late '06.
''He is coming along very well,'' the boss said, ''and better than you would expect from a twenty-one year old boy.''
Theissen revealed that he was warned against hiring such an inexperienced test driver for the 2006 season.
''They said that you need the most experienced test driver you can get. But Kubica is as quick as (Williams' Alex) Wurz on his first lap and also gives good feedback.''
If no merger, Champ Car might clear month of MayUPDATE #2 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, From the way it sounds there are too many issues that are going to prevent a merger. Why not just let the split continue until one side folds? Right now that looks to be Champ Car because most teams do not have sponsorship, they don't have a big race like the Indy 500 to prop them up, and the IRL has Danicamania and now Marcomania. Jeff Peterson, Oakland, CA
Dear Jeff, Letting one side die will only be, as the IRL's Fred Nation put it to us, "Another nail in open wheel's coffin." It is imperative that a merger deal get done now, and it be a positive story rather than a story of open wheel's impending death were either side close up shop. The teams from both sides want a merger now. Sponsors and manufacturers want a merger now. Most fans want a merger now. And the sport's image needs a merger now, not later. Once the Champ Car teams buy the new Panoz, they will not be able to afford buy another new car in 2008. Every new race deal that gets signed, every new car or engine rule that gets cast in stone, will be another impediment to a merger.
While we can appreciate what both Tony George and Kevin Kalkhoven say - "We cannot afford to merge and then have it fall apart," these two need to lock themselves in a room and hammer out an agreement in the next two months because they need to merge in 2007, not 2008 or later. There is going to be some pain on both sides no matter what is agreed to, but in the end it will be better for everyone. Coming out of an exciting Indy 500 and the Marcomania/Danicamania wave, the IRL is currently negotiating from a position of strength, a position we doubt Kalkhoven is completely comfortable with. However, the IRL teams are far better off financially than the Champ Car teams, so their side can afford to compromise more than the Champ Car side when it comes to decisions that create cost for the teams.
What we suspect/hear is going to be agreed to is a deal by which for 2007 Champ Car clears out the month of May and their teams are given IRL cars and engines to use for the month of May at Indy, maybe not for free, but almost. Yes, the Champ Car teams will be at a disadvantage car setup wise, but there are ways to take away the IRL team advantage by outlawing any custom pieces they have developed and make it so that the cars are 100% stock.
Operationally and administratively the two sides will come together under one roof and begin to work together over this coming winter. 2007 will see two divisions (which we proposed a long time ago) that race different venues with different equipment, but coming together with common equipment for the Indy 500 and perhaps another race or two where both divisions will award points for the joint races.
It, therefore, may make sense for the Champ Car teams to run the Lola one more year. Unless the new Champ Car Panoz is deemed safe for the Superspeedways, that would mean putting Panoz on hold immediately and paying them for the costs they will have incurred because of the delay from 2007 to 2008. Then in 2008 all the teams from both divisions will buy new cars and a new engine formula will be agreed to. The two divisions would then morph into one schedule for 2008. We would be surprised to see it hammered out any other way and we believe that as long as contracts are put in place that would prevent either side from pulling the rug out from the other side in the 11th hour, that this is a fair and equitable way of making the merger happen for 2007. Although the Champ Car teams would be hampered somewhat at Indy due to inexperience with the IRL equipment, it would be for just one year and they would then be able to pitch the Indy 500 to potential sponsors for 2007, which would help them immensely in that regard. Mark C reporting from Indianapolis.
05/29/06 While this concept was discussed, the reality of the matter is that Champ Car and its teams cannot afford to buy new Champ Cars in 2007 (new Panoz) as well as lease IRL cars for just one race, the Indy 500. Most Champ Car teams do not have enough sponsorship to run the existing old Champ Car let alone buying two new different cars in the same year. And, because the Champ Car teams have no experience with the IRL chassis (except for Newman/Haas) they would get eaten alive. Hence the proposal simply is not going to fly.
The only real solution is for all the teams from both sides to start on equal grounds - a new chassis for everyone. It would not be difficult to put some sort of financing plan in place so that teams from both leagues can afford the new car in 2007. The issue with the new Panoz is whether it is safe enough for the high-banked ovals. As we saw with the IRL when they first introduced their new car, a lot of drivers were injured because the car was not as safe as it could be. It has been developed and now it is much better. Could the sport risk putting the new Panoz on the high banks without proper testing? We understand the cockpit opening is smaller on the new Panoz than the IRL wants (this helps in extracting their injured drivers). However, one would think Panoz, who have experience with the existing IRL chassis, would know what it takes to make the car safe on the ovals.
Which engines to use is also an issue we hear. The IRL side wants to use the existing normally aspirated Honda and the Champ Car side wants to keep the turbo. We know Honda has a lot invested in the existing normally aspirated engine and has geared up their new facility to do rebuilds for the entire IRL field. One cannot expect them to just throw all that away. Likewise, Cosworth does not own the rights to the Chevworth IRL engine and all of the engines have been turned over to GM.
The engine dilemma is a difficult one to overcome. Ford could badge the Honda engine for a year (with Cosworth doing the rebuilds) or Honda could badge the turbo Cosworth for a year (and do the rebuilds for their teams) but there is some reluctance there. However, Honda has badged an Ilmor in the IRL before, so it is not unprecedented. This could be done for 2007 as an interim solution, before everyone switches to a new engine for 2008.
Another engine option is some sort of equivalency formula between the two existing engines, but history has shown equivalency formulas seldom work. It would have to take continual tweaking to get it right. Impossible? No. Would both sides agree? Probably not, but it is an option that could be looked at for just 2007. At this point both sides need to be willing to compromise a little to make a merger work for 2007.
2008 is too late in our opinion. As great as Sunday's Indy 500 was, there were more empty seats than we ever saw and NASCAR continues to erode the sport of Open Wheel Racing. In another year it may be too late to save the old lady. Some say it already is, however, we don't agree. Danica Patrick (an American) was a great story at last year's Indy 500 and this year Marco Andretti and Sam Hornish (both Americans) were the big story. In fact Americans finished 1-2-3 in this year's Indy 500 and it has been a long time since that has happened. These sort of stories will again begin to capture the imagination of American race fans so now is the time to capitalize on that opportunity and ride that wave. If the Indy 500 stories are immediately backed up with a merger announcement and a well thought out marketing plan, the sport of Indy Car Racing might just have the boost it needs out of the starting gate to begin its way back up. It won't happen overnight and it will take years of hard work, but timing is everything and now is the time. Mark C.
05/23/06 If Kevin Kalkhoven and George can't agree to unify for 2007, there's an outside chance Champ Car could put Indy on its schedule, clear the deck in May and lease cars/engines for Bourdais, Tracy, Wilson, Allmendinger, Junqueira, Tagliani, Servia, da Matta, Dominguez, Ranger, Legge. That would be good for everybody. Champ Car might be able to find some sponsors with Indy on its plate and Tony George would greatly improve quality and quantity. And the fans win. Robin Miller, SPEEDTV.com
Schu could face GPDA axe (GMM) Michael Schumacher could face a struggle to maintain his spot in the 'Grand Prix Drivers' Association', according to speculation.
After stewards effectively disqualified the seven time world champion from Monaco qualifying, a majority of his driving colleagues are thought to want Schumacher to be stripped of his directorship of the body.
It was rumored on Saturday evening that the GPDA had already taken a straw poll on their reaction to the Rascasse incident, with the majority supposedly wanting him to stand down.
Reportedly, involving McLaren tester Pedro de la Rosa and his manager, a petition was circulated in pit lane, with as many as 17 drivers wanting to show the German the big boot.
But David Coulthard, a fellow GPDA director who was spotted in deep conversation with Schumacher on the Monaco drivers' parade on Sunday, denied that the matter was officially on the radar.
The Scot said: ''It is rumors rather than fact.
''The main role of the GPDA is for driver and track safety and not to be involved in political issues.
''Michael is one of the most active members on track safety (in the GPDA) so you have to separate the two things.''
BMW-Sauber's Nick Heidfeld commented: ''The incident will be discussed at our next meeting, at Silverstone.''
Seen in Las VegasUPDATE We were able to confirm that Allmendinger was in Las Vegas, but it was for a short vacation, not Champ Car business. 05/28/06 Seen in Las Vegas on Friday - A.J. Allmendinger, the 2004 Champ car rookie of the year. Was he vacationing or there to help with landing a downtown race?
Street demo planned for Otaru AutoRacing1.com is hearing that the Otaru Grand Prix race organizers are planning to hold a demonstration of a Champ Car on a street circuit in Otaru in late September. Since there has never been a street race in Japan the organizers have laid out a small 0.25 mile track on the city streets for PR purposes. Mark C.
Young Spaniard to test Toyota (GMM) A young Spaniard will reportedly test Toyota's F1 car late next month.
Spanish daily 'Marca' wrote that Andy Soucek, 20 - who is this weekend contesting the World Series Formula Renault support race at Monaco - will enjoy the privilege as a reward for winning the Spanish F3 title.
According to the newspaper, Soucek is to appear in a 'TF106' contender at the Paul Ricard test late in June.
Senna to test STRUPDATE (GMM) Bruno Senna, the nephew of F1's infamous triple world champion, has played down speculation that he could be fast-tracked into formula one.
Gerhard Berger, a close friend of the Senna family ever since he was Ayrton's teammate at McLaren, admitted in Monte Carlo that a test for the young Senna in one of his 'Toro Rosso' F1 cars is a possibility.
But 22-year-old Senna, at Monaco to race in a Porsche support race, denied more fervent speculation that his grand prix debut is looming.
''My main reason to come here was to learn the track for the future,'' Senna, a stand-out of the British F3 championship in 2006 so far, told Reuters.
He also admitted the Berger link, but added: ''Right now there is nothing going on, and with no other F1 teams as well.''
Sir Frank Williams, still in charge of the last team Ayrton Senna raced for, backed the youngster's claim by ruling out a test for now.
The Englishman said: ''He's not on our radar at the present time.''
05/26/06 (GMM) Gerhard Berger has denied rumors in the Monte Carlo paddock that Bruno Senna, the nephew of his old McLaren teammate, could test a Toro Rosso car very soon.
''During the season it would be difficult,'' the Austrian, who half-owns the former Minardi squad, told the 'Salzburger Nachrichten' newspaper.
But Berger said: ''Perhaps at the end of the year.''
Todt fuels gossip about his future (GMM) Jean Todt has poured fire on the flames of speculation about his future at Ferrari.
The 60-year-old Frenchman, who joined the Italian marque in 1993 and delivered ten combined drivers' and constructors' championships, is rumored to be either on the way to retirement, or to a top job in the road car division.
Todt explained to 'Corriere dello Sport' newspaper that his decision would not be publicized along with the driver line-up for 2007 and beyond at Monza.
''Information about changes in the structure of the team will be given at the end of the season,'' he said.
Todt acknowledged the possibility that his tenure at the evocative Maranello-based outfit might be nearing an end.
He added: ''Even if I leave, I will always have a special connection with Ferrari.
''But even without me, the team has a good future.''
Corriere dello Sport suggested that Todt was due to soon discuss the matter with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo.
A1GP to add more street races A1GP's deputy chairman Tony Teixeira told autosport.com: "As time goes by we would like a 50-50 balance of road courses to street circuits and we will have some more (street courses) in season two. But we are going to go to where people want us and not the other way around. Tracks are going to pay us to come and events are going to be properly promoted."
Pirelli to bid for F1 contract Rumor has it that Italian tire manufacturer Pirelli are considering a return to Formula one after a 15 year absence. A spokesman for the Italian company is reported to have said "We are seriously considering a bid to enter Formula One when the control tire comes in 2008…"
Ferrari join race to lure Pat SymondsUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' (GMM) Pat Symonds has renewed his denial that he is looking to change teams.
It was reported earlier this week that Renault's highly-respected executive director of engineering, after being courted by Honda and McLaren, may now be the keen target of Ferrari.
But the long-serving Briton insisted at Monaco: ''I see zero reasons to leave my super team.''
While that is about as clear a denial as will ever be found in a grand prix paddock, Symonds' boss, Flavio Briatore, dodged the question about whether he would be renewing his own Renault contract.
''That is not relevant for me at the moment,'' the Italian said.
Briatore added: ''Whatever I do in the future, I need to be doing the best thing now for Renault. That is the priority.''
05/24/06 (GMM) Another team has reportedly joined a hunt to lure Pat Symonds from Renault.
Honda and McLaren were initially thought to be fishing for the highly-experienced engineer, who was part not only of Renault's recent success, but that of Benetton back in the 90s.
Also lauded for his skills relating to race strategy, the Briton - with the title 'executive director of engineering' - is now the target of Ferrari, according to the Stuttgart-based 'Auto Motor Und Sport' magazine.
Symonds' time at his current team stretches back to when it was called Toleman, where he was race engineer to a notable youngster by the name of Ayrton Senna.
He later fulfilled a similar role alongside Michael Schumacher, as the German driver won his first world championships for Benetton.
'Auto Motor Und Sport' also suggests that Ferrari made an offer some months ago for Gerhard Berger, although the Austrian's switch is highly unlikely given that he co-owns the Toro Rosso team.
Why was Kevin Kalkhoven really racing powerboats?UPDATE #2 As we said previously, Champ Car boss Kevin Kalkhoven's Gulfstream business jet usually doesn't fly unless there is a business purpose in mind and we speculated that Kalkhoven did not just fly to Italy to drive Powerboats because he likes boats. Malta wants a Champ Car race and Malta already hosts the P1 Powerboat series, which is hoping to collaborate with Champ Cars for combined events. Besides the ones we listed below, add Malta to the list of possibilities of combined street races and offshore P1 Powerboat races. This rumor is upgraded to 'strong.' Mark C.
04/29/06 More food for thought - Chris Pook is the Executive Director of the Sea Festival Assn. He has been very active with the Marine Advisory Commission of Long Beach to bring high profile attention to the boating public of Long Beach. As we know the APBA has been struggling for a fan base, sponsors, etc. An alliance between them and Champ Car as part of a Sea Festival is very likely. Both series appeal to similar demographics and a complimentary entertainment festival will certainly differentiate Champ Car from NASCAR. Kalkhoven has an interesting way of exploring the possibilities.
04/29/06 Was Kevin Kalkhoven in Italy this week with Katherine Legge driving powerboats because he likes to go to Italy to enjoy their pasta? We think not. With fuel prices what they are today, Kalkhoven does not fire up the engines on his Gulfstream and fly half way around the world from California to Italy just for a joyride. We have learned over the past two years that even when he flies for pleasure, there is always a business tie-in with the trip.
Is there a potential tie-in with a P1 Powerboat event and Champ Car races? You bet there can be. Champ Car (and the IRL when they merge) have events like Long Beach, St. Petersburg, Montreal, Toronto, NY City (rumored), Cleveland, Australia, and Otaru (rumored) that sit adjacent to large bodies of water.
The Powerboat tie-in seems to be at an early stage in the negotiation process, but Kalkhoven was certainly keen on the idea. (Related story)
"It's completely insane, which makes it brilliant," Kalkhoven enthused, "How those guys can race those things for an hour-and-a-half I don't know. I'd really love to do a race to feel what it's like. The physical effort and mental concentration needed is just incredible.
"This really makes me think about the possibilities of combining P1 with Champ Cars. There are a number of places where we race that could do it - Long Beach springs to mind. To have racing in the harbor and on the streets there would be truly spectacular.
"I'd be very interested in talking about it, as they have the same philosophy as us, taking racing to the people and making it entertainment. They've made a convert of me in one day!"
Mayfield to Davis or Waltrip?UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Jeremy Mayfield says he is working hard to help his team turn around their 2006 season and denies garage area gossip he's looking for another ride. Mayfield told PRN's Garagepass; "As far as me out looking that's defiantly not true, I haven't been out looking nowhere for nothing. I have a contract with Ray Evernham. I'm driving for Ray and Dodge. My head has been down working on our own stuff trying to get our own stuff better. Our deal is hard enough as it is let alone start throwing the rumors and all that stuff around." PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show
05/21/06 Jeremy Mayfield is also in middle of a lot of Toyota talk, perhaps leaving Ray Evernham to take a Toyota ride next season with Bill Davis, perhaps even taking a third Toyota ride with Waltrip, who indicated last week that he had a third major sponsor in the works, but Mayfield re-upped with Evernham last year and is supposedly signed thru 2008. Winston Salem Journal
Indy 500 seats plentiful Word on the street in Indy is that there are still 30K to 40K of available seats for Sunday's Indy 500. Still 210,000 spectators is a huge number for race day - about equal to Champ Car's Mexico City race the 2nd year it was held.
Kasemets to drive for Rocketsports?UPDATE #4 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement by Paul Gentilozzi and Rocketsports. Story to follow on Hot News page.
05/23/06 Word is that the team will announce Kasemets tomorrow (Wednesday) around mid-day.
05/23/06 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' and will probably soon go to 'fact.' Dutch website www.champcar.nl today reports Estonian race driver Tonis Kasemets (2nd in the 2005 Toyota Atlantic championship) has signed a 6-race deal with Rocketsports to compete in this years Champ Car championship alongside Nicky Pastorelli. From Portland onwards 4 races are scheduled (Portland, Cleveland, Toronto and Edmonton) plus the races at Road America and Mexico City. His longtime sponsor FLEXOVIT Abrasive Products from Angola, NY will be his major backer. Apart from the US market, Flexovit have strong interest in both the Canadian and Mexican markets. The 32-year old from Mundelein, Illinois is looking forward to joining Katherine Legge and Charles Zwolsman, his main two rivals from last years Toyota Atlantic series, in the Champ Car series. We await the official announcement from Rocketsports.
05/11/06 We spotted Paul Gentilozzi in serious conversations with Tonis Kasemets in Houston Thursday evening. Afterward we quizzed Paul Gentilozzi on the rumor Kasemets might drive for him.
"I like Tonis," said Gentilozzi. "He's a classy guy and a good driver. Timing is everything however. Assuming his sponsorship comes together, we could put him in the car in Monterrey, Mexico, but that would not give him any test time. We would not want to start him in Milwaukee so a start in Portland is more realistic.
'Right now it looks like it would be a partial year deal, but if it comes together we'll start it and see how it goes." Mark C.
05/09/06 Rocketsports Racing are negotiating with Tonis Kasemets for a drive in several Champ Car races this season, team owner Paul Gentilozzi has confirmed to autosport.com. Autosport.com understands that should the Rocketsports/Kasemets deal happen, it will be for six races.
Unser Jr. lands Grand-Am rideUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. See Hot News page for announcement.
05/23/06 Rumor has it that Al Unser Jr., who won the 1982 Can-Am championship in a car designed by Brad Frisselle will soon be announced he will drive for the team in their Doran Porsche in the Grand-Am Rolex Series.
Rossi decides against F1UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Valentino Rossi will definitely not switch to formula one next year, according to breaking news.
The flamboyant MotoGP champion had been linked with a four-wheeled switch to Ferrari, but he has reportedly now told the Italian team that he will categorically remain on the saddle of a motorcycle at least for now.
The news is yet another piece of the puzzle about Ferrari's 2007 line-up, with Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen looking increasingly like a safe bet.
''My friends at Ferrari gave me the chance to learn about formula one and it was a wonderful experience,'' Rossi, 27, was quoted as saying in a statement translated from Italian.
''I thank them.''
He added: ''However, for the foreseeable future, I will be in MotoGP, as my work on motorbikes is not over yet.
''I am continuing here as I still have many goals.''
05/23/06 Sources very close to MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi say that the reigning world champion won't be racing F1 next season after all. Sources say that Rossi and his manager informed Ferrari Corse yesterday that he has decided to race MotoGP in 2007.
Montagny to race through IndyUPDATE #2 (GMM) Super Aguri sub Franck Montagny has confirmed reports that he will race beyond Sunday's Monaco GP.
The Frenchman, who recently replaced the team's axed race driver Yuji Ide, said on Wednesday that he is set to also appear at the upcoming Silverstone, Montreal and Indianapolis events.
Monte Carlo is the 28-year-old former Renault tester's third race in F1.
''A strong showing in the coming events could see the team extend his contract even further,'' a report on Montagny's website said, referring specifically to his upcoming home race at Magny Cours.
05/24/06 (GMM) Super Aguri has told Franck Montagny that he can race for the Japanese team beyond Sunday's Monaco GP, it is revealed.
The Frenchman, drafted in to temporarily replace Yuji Ide as Takuma Sato's 2006 teammate, had not been guaranteed a ride beyond the Monte Carlo event.
But we can now reveal that Montagny, the former Renault tester who debuted at the Nurburgring-Barcelona double header, will definitely remain in the car for the Silverstone race in two weeks.
He may even stay beyond that, although team principal Aguri Suzuki is still thought to be under pressure to find a Japanese teammate for Sato.
28-year-old Montagny last week thanked Suzuki for giving him a leg-up in the top category.
He added ahead of Monaco: ''It will be a hard race for sure, but I am very much looking forward to the most famous race of the season and I am very glad to be taking part.''
05/23/06 Rumor has it that Franck Montagny will race for the Super Aguri team through the USGP at Indy and perhaps further, depending on his and the teams performance. It also depends whether the Japanese team can find a suitable Japanese driver to fill that seat, which is doubtful mid-season.
Ferrari replacement for VodafoneUPDATE This rumor is now upgraded to 'fact' today. Ferrari today announced that it has reached a sponsorship agreement with Telecom Italian Group, a leading telecommunications, media and internet company. Telecom Italia, through its Alice brand will thus become an official sponsor of the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, with a presence on the cars that take part in the Formula 1 World Championship. We are happy to embark on a partnership with a group as prestigious as Telecom Italia, which is a major industrial player," Jean Todt. "Innovation, the pursuit of excellence, speed and a spirit of competition are just some of the values we share with Telecom Italia and they will form the basis of a close and productive collaboration." The agreement comes into effect as from 1st January 2007 and lasts for three years.
05/17/06 After the announcement of Vodafone leaving Ferrari earlier this season, there were rumors that the Italian phone company "Telecom Italia" would replace them. Tonight Luca di Montezemolo has confirmed on Italian TV that they will indeed replace Vodafone for the 2007 season. Details of the contract have not been announced and its unclear just how much advertising will appear on the car.
Bernie wants a Rossi (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone was 'unfair' to criticize Fernando Alonso for not doing enough as world champion.
That is the belief of formula one's title winner of ten years ago, England's Damon Hill, who instead shifted the blame onto F1 for producing bland drivers.
Hill told Reuters: ''But I understand what Bernie's saying -- I think he is saying why can't Fernando Alonso be more like Valentino Rossi.''
Indeed, the Bernie-Rossi connection is pretty sound. F1's supremo is desperate for a larger-than-life character in the MotoGP champion's mould, and is actively urging Ferrari or another team to help Rossi make the switch.
Notably, at the Laureus awards on Monday night, Rossi took his 'Spirit of Sport' prize - for raising the profile of the motorcycling series - from Ecclestone himself.
But Hill said that in ultra-professional F1, doing-a-Rossi is harder.
The 45-year-old continued: ''To win at this level requires total dedication (but that) does not bring about a well-rounded personality.''
Russian GP back on track?UPDATE #3 (GMM) Roman Abramovich is reportedly breathing new life into plans for a grand prix in Russia.
The Russian billionaire, owner of football club Chelsea, is 'close to clinching' the deal with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who is also keen on the idea of a Moscow race, according to the Mirror newspaper.
''(Abramovich) is believed to have discussed his plans for a new circuit with the city's mayor Yuri Luzhkov,'' the report said.
In the past, Abramovich, a keen F1 fan, was linked with possible purchases of the former Minardi and Jordan teams, and was often spotted in GP paddocks.
Ecclestone, who once came close to pulling off a Moscow race, said last year: ''Countries like Russia and places like Moscow are important to us.''
05/01/05 Moscow is pressing ahead with plans to build a race track, suitable for Formula One, in order to host a Grand Prix in the medium term. After several failed attempts, Russian investors, and the German track architect Hermann Tilke, held preliminary talks about the construction concept earlier this week. The details may well be completed this year, though the actual construction work will not begin until 2006 at the earliest. “In spite of many declarations, the construction of a Formula One racetrack has not yet been realized. This is set to change,” says Dmitri Koroljow, head of the project. The Russian racing facilities at St. Petersburg and Mjatschkowo are about to be closed, which is why Koroljow deems it necessary to build a permanent racetrack as soon as possible. Considering the commitment of the Russian Midland Group, which bought the Jordan team earlier this year, a Russian Grand Prix would make sense. Williams
04/29/05 Media reports about a new Grand Prix venue in Russia are wide of the mark. There is a plan for a new racing circuit to be built around 50 miles out of Moscow but the track is being designed for Russian national competitions rather than with any international ambitions. The project is being headed by former touring car driver Dmitry Korolov. "Our prime aim is to create conditions for the development of Russian motor racing sport," Korolev told a Russian news agency. The problem is that Russian racers do not have permanent facilities on which to race and many feel that this is holding back the development of the sport. The work will start in 2006 and the design of a circuit is now being undertaken by Tilke GmbH. Grandprix.com
04/29/05 Once again, Russia is advancing plans for a Formula One event. The Russian 'RIA Novosti' press agency said talks are taking place between a local investor and Hermann Tilke, architect of the most recent circuits like China and Bahrain. It is reported that plans should be complete in the summer, with work provisionally scheduled to start in the spring of next year. ''I am sure we will succeed this time,'' RIA Novosti - citing earlier, failed, attempts to bring F1 to Russia - quoted a project manager.
Five candidates for Alonso seat, Bourdais tooUPDATE There is talk in France that Sebastien Bourdais might come back from the United States next year to drive for the Renault F1 team - if the team does not sign a deal with Michael Schumacher.
Kimi Raikkonen is expected to move to Ferrari and with Fernando Alonso at McLaren there is no obvious F1 candidate to lead the team. Bourdais would be a good candidate as he is both cheap and French (the French market is still very important to Renault) although his record with Flavio Briatore has not been an easy one.
Bourdais's domination of Champ Car racing is such that there is nothing left for him to achieve as he is already well on his way to a third consecutive title having won the first three races of the season. Grandprix.com
05/22/06 (GMM) Flavio Briatore has named five potential replacements for Renault's departing champion, Fernando Alonso.
The team principal backed up recent speculation by mentioning Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen, but Briatore added that incumbent Giancarlo Fisichella has also 'shown (that) he can win races with us'.
McLaren-bound Alonso, 24, will be a 'big loss' to the French owned team, the Italian chief confessed in a Monaco preview on Monday.
But he also threw youngsters Heikki Kovalainen, Renault tester, and McLaren protégé Lewis Hamilton into the hat, conceding that the pair 'could possibly win championships'.
Briatore commented: ''To attract those drivers, we need to be quicker than the opposition and at the moment, we are delivering.''
Monterrey race seeks night race, or become NASCAR raceUPDATE #3 Hearing that Gerald Forsythe, who owns 50% of the rights to the Monterrey race, may consider renting the track to NASCAR should the Champ Car night race never materialize. Rumors suggest that the government may step in to help save the Champ Car race, and one would expect them to pay to light the track if they are really serious about saving the race. Better promotion and better sponsor support would also help.
05/21/06 Was this the sixth and final Champ Car Grand Prix of Monterrey? Gerald Forsythe, who owns the race rights to the Mexican event run since 2001, seems to think so.
Forsythe said he thinks that Monterrey is "tired of" the race, which has suffered declining attendance for the last three years. An additional factor in this year's reduced crowd was a major national soccer match that began an hour after the Champ Car race ended.
Attendance at Monterrey peaked with an announced three-day total of 236,000 in 2002. Race organizer OCESA released a three-day crowd figure of 76,055 this year.
"My feeling is that we won't be back here," Forsythe said on Sunday morning. "It's a shame because the city and the venue have a lot to offer. The government did a nice job developing Fundidora Park for the community, and the racetrack is the centerpiece of the park. The Mexican fans are hugely into racing, but the sponsors down here are fickle and sponsorship drives everything."
Forsythe cited Tecate beer as a loyal sponsor and added he hoped a deal could be struck to continue the Monterrey race, perhaps as a night event to reduce the effects of the seasonal heat. Forsythe is also the race rights holder for Champ Car's Mexico City event that serves as the season finale; In the event of an open-wheel merger between Champ Car and the Indy Racing League within the next couple of years, Mexico City is likely to win the nod for the only race in the country.
"I will be extremely disappointed if we don't come back here to Monterrey, and I think the fans will be disappointed as well," Forsythe said. ESPN.com
05/21/06 The three-day event attendance for the Tecate Grand Prix of Monterrey Presented by Roshfrans was 76,055, with today just over 48,000. This is down significantly from earlier years when this race was run in cooler weather. In a Champ Car/IRL merger scenario one has to wonder if this race will survive given they will have to drop some races.
05/21/06 AutoRacing1.com sources in Mexico tell us that OCESA and Champ Car are in negotiations to continue the Monterrey race next season, but at night under the lights. Our sources tell us that the Nuevo Leon government (State) does not want to lose the race and they will support OCESA as much as they can moneywise to bring Champ Car back.
Why at Night? The temperature! They are really concerned for the fans (in the eleventh hour). The temperature not only affects the drivers, also the loyal fans. The deal does not depend on the merger. The date for the race will be again in May, but at night when it is cooler. In February or earlier OCESA is preoccupied with the NASCAR race in Mexico City. The month of May is perfect for the government and for the city of Monterrey.
If the Champ Car/IRL merger goes forward we are told that Tecate Brewery wants to sponsor Adrian Fernandez to run his final season in a farewell tour. The idea is that if the merger happens the brewery and several other companies will support and sponsor Fernandez to help him run his farewell season in front of the Mexican fans. We hear that many companies will jump in if the merger happens. Hector Serrano reporting from Mexico
NASCAR eyes smaller fuel cells for two tracksUPDATE #2 While the cars in the Nextel All-Star Challenge had the smaller fuel cells in them Saturday night, the true test of the change will come in the May 28 running of the Coca-Cola 600. Although drivers have lobbied against the 13-14 gallon fuel cell being used instead of the 22-gallon one, NASCAR will go with the smaller fuel cell. The sanctioning body made that decision before testing earlier this month so that drivers could get the weight in their cars adjusted during their test sessions. "That deal is going to happen," Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby said after the all-star race. "Even now that we've raced it, we had short runs and everything. We still don't have enough true live race data to pull it off." NASCAR Daily Scene
04/07/06 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. NASCAR will require cars to use a smaller fuel cell at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May, NASCAR official Robin Pemberton said April 7.
The move is designed to make teams pit more frequently and give them a chance to check tire wear on the newly repaved surface on the 1.5-mile track outside Charlotte. Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, said the tire Goodyear has decided to use "is a great tire," but NASCAR wanted to enter the first weekend on the new surface cautiously.
The fuel cell will be about 13 gallons, compared to the usual 22-gallon cell. Teams will be able to go about 35-40 laps on fuel instead of 60-70 with the bigger cell.
04/02/06 Smaller fuel tanks might be a way to deal with excessive tire wear at tracks like Atlanta Motor Speedway and the newly paved Lowe's Motor Speedway. The idea is that if drivers ran out of fuel after 30 laps or so, they'd make pit stops before tires could wear to a dangerous point. NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said it's too soon to tell whether the smaller tanks, which are used at Daytona and Talladega to add pit stops and therefore break up big packs of cars, will be used elsewhere. "Our primary focus in preparing for the upcoming races at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May is testing the tires and getting them right," he said. Atlanta Journal-Constitution
How NASCAR cheaters beat officials at Daytona It's taken a while for word to leak out, but the big Daytona 500 trick this season - which NASCAR discovered but made no announcement about - concerned engines "sucking air" to gain horsepower. That's the word from a top NASCAR crew chief, who asked not to be named, and it was confirmed by a top car owner, who likewise asked not to be named. "When they did the chassis-dyno tests on the Daytona engines, they found that a number of teams had made huge gains in horsepower, from 18 to 25 more horsepower over the last chassis dyno tests of restrictor-plate engines," the crew chief said. "You couldn't pick up that much horsepower with a restrictor-plate engine if you worked for seven years on it. And those teams picked up that much in just one year? It's because they were sucking air. You wouldn't believe how many teams at Daytona were sucking air."
NASCAR rules are strict about sucking air - getting extra air into the engine cylinders by bypassing the restrictor plates that are designed to limit horsepower by choking down the air - and the penalties can be stiff. However no penalties were levied at Daytona. One key trick apparently was semi-legal - using a steel gasket instead of an aluminum gasket, and taking advantage of the gap of 10-thousandths-of-an-inch created when engine heat distorts the steel gasket. NASCAR officials realized they had a problem when they discovered that some of Daytona's fastest qualifiers were using engines that couldn't pass NASCAR's post-qualifying manifold leak tests. NASCAR officials were unable to confirm the legality of front-row qualifiers Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon until six hours after qualifying had ended. In response, NASCAR quietly changed some of its rules for Talladega, and some teams that had qualified very fast at Daytona were noticeably slower. Winston Salem Journal
V8 Supercars prop up F1 in Australia Australia's Channel 10 has lost the deal to televise the V8 Supercar series to Channel 7. This could make things difficult at the Grand Prix as Channel 10 has the right to broadcast F1. The V8s are important to the Grand Prix as they keep up the spectator numbers as Australia remains obsessed by Ford versus Holden battles rather than getting excited about Mark Webber's adventures with Williams. Grandprix.com
Venues may share ’Mediterranean GP’ (GMM) A new race could be added to F1's calendar of the future -- the 'Mediterranean grand prix'.
While F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has now ruled out a touted spectator-less event at Paul Ricard, the French circuit is still linked with the 'Mediterranean' idea; which could divide the honor with Valencia and perhaps also Greece.
Solving the problem of adding new venues - but not more races - to the annual schedule, the three circuits would alternate the grand prix, meaning that each host would stage the race once every three years.
Schu in tire quit threat - tabloid (GMM) Michael Schumacher is reportedly threatening to quit formula one if Bridgestone do not develop tires specifically for him in 2007.
British tabloid 'The Sunday People' is questionably claiming that the German wants to benefit most from Japanese supplier Bridgestone's tire monopoly, after rival Michelin withdraws from F1 at the end of the year.
The publication wrote that if Ferrari's 37-year-old driver gets his way, the 2007-spec control tire will be 'suited to Schumacher and Ferrari more, giving them an immediate upper hand'.
And 'People' quoted an 'insider' as saying: ''This is just another way of him showing his power.''
Will Germain and Bodine move up to Cup?UPDATE The Germain Motor Co. is on the fast track in NASCAR, and not all of it deals with drivers Todd Bodine and Ted Musgrave ranking first and second in the Truck Series point standings. Steve Germain, who owns the Columbus teams with brothers Rick and Bob, yesterday [Friday] said plans are under way to attempt to qualify for as many as five or six Nextel Cup races this season. The family’s first race probably would be the Brickyard 400 on Aug. 6 at Indianapolis. There also are tentative plans to enter races at Michigan, Atlanta, California and Texas in an attempt to gauge whether a team with Bodine as driver would be ready to run as many as 15 or 16 races in 2007. "We’re interested in the Cup series, and it looks like we might do a limited schedule," Steve Germain said. "At this point, we’ll be at Indianapolis. We’d like to be in five or six races to help us understand the scope of Nextel Cup. We have a pretty good understanding of Cup, but we want firsthand experience so we can be confident before committing the resources for next year. We’re taking this one step at a time." The Germains own Toyota and Lexus dealerships in Columbus and Florida and got into NASCAR to promote their dealerships and help Toyota get a foothold in truck and stock car racing. Both truck teams are based in Concord, N.C., which is considered the heart of NASCAR country. Columbus Dispatch
05/20/06 The hottest Toyota driver in NASCAR is Todd Bodine, who has won five of the past eight Truck races and who leads the tour standings, ahead of teammate Ted Musgrave. The two ran 1-2 the last time out, at St. Louis' Gateway track three weeks ago. So, with Toyota's Cup teams and executives apparently running out of time to line up all the six or seven Nextel Cup drivers they'll need next year, Bodine, 42 and a 14-year NASCAR veteran, would seem a logical option. But Bodine said he has had no calls, and said he's having so much fun running for the Germain brothers (who own a number of luxury-car dealerships with $1 billion a year in sales) that it would take "a boatload of money to leave." Bodine said he and the Germains have studied stepping up to Cup racing with Toyota. But they haven't found sponsorship for what he estimates would be a $20 million to $30 million step. Winston Salem Journal
NASCAR Red Bull team rumors Toyota's Marty Gaunt has turned the lights on over at Roger Penske's old shop, hired about 40 people for NASCAR's newest team, and is now looking for a couple of good men to run Dietrich Mateschitz's Red Bull Toyota] Camrys on the Cup tour next season. #42-Casey Mears may be signing with Red Bull for 2007, leaving Chip Ganassi. Mears, in the final year of his Ganassi contract, was courted by car owner Richard Childress, either to fill Kevin Harvick's ride if Harvick had decided to leave, or to run a fourth Childress car. #38-Elliott Sadler may also be signing with Red Bull, leaving Robert Yates, who is already dealing with the defection of Dale Jarrett to Toyota's Michael Waltrip for 2007. #48-Crew chief Chad Knaus, who has put Jimmie Johnson in the thick of the Nextel Cup championship race for four years now, may also be getting a major offer from the Red Bull team, though his current contract with car owner Rick Hendrick runs through 2007. Hendrick just extended Johnson's contract through 2010, but Knaus said that no one has talked with him about a contract extension. And mum's the word with Gaunt. When will he name drivers? "We haven't put a timetable on it, though obviously we'd rather do it sooner than later. When the time is right, we'll do it," Gaunt said. "We're going to run three races near the end of the year; hopefully we can clarify which three soon. And we'll be doing some testing throughout the year. Winston Salem Journal
Yates to drop Jarrett early? Dale Jarrett may not make it through the season with Robert Yates racing after officially signing a deal to drive for Michael Waltrip and Toyota next year. If the former champion, currently 12th in points, starts falling back, look for Yates to pull the plug and try to get a head start on next year.
The big question is who will that new driver be? Yates has had very little success developing young drivers, preferring to go with veterans. However, with little to choose from, where will he look?
Casey Mears would be one option. He’s still young, but he has enough experience to be able to learn from what Yates could teach him. He could pluck a veteran like Ward Burton or Ted Musgrave off the scrap heap and hope to strike gold.
Maybe the best option is for Yates to purchase one of Jack Roush’s teams. Roush is being pushed to get to the limit of four teams NASCAR has mandated and his partnership with Yates is a logical place to put one of his teams. The obvious choice, for now, is Jamie McMurray’s, but with Mark Martin retiring, Roush could transfer or sell the No. 6 and maybe young driver Todd Kluever with it. Chattanooga Times Free Press
[Editor's Note: Yates and Ford would be wise to drop Jarrett immediately. Since he is moving to Toyota, Ford should be worried about Jarrett taking any new Ford secrets with him to their Japanese competitor. As for Jarrett's contract, simply pay him to go on gardening leave the rest of the season. There are plenty of good young drivers to fill his shoes and who would jump at the opportunity, effective immediately.]
Another Zwolsman to enter Champ Car? The photo to the right shows Charles Zwolsman Sr. and Ross Zwolsman, brother to Champ Car rookie Charles Zwolsman. Ross competed in the 2005 Euroseries F3 with a 'family' owned F3 outfit. After 5 races they withdrew as it's impossible to compete against all the other 'works supported' European F3 teams. Before that Ross did several seasons in German F3, German Formula Renault 2.0 and German Formula Ford Zetec with reasonable success.
At the moment he is not racing. The fact he is in Mexico to see his brother race, might trigger him to move to Champ Car Atlantics sooner rather then later! We wouldn't be surprised at all. He is very fast, probably even faster then his older brother, but he is also much more erratic and this has caused him major problems in European racing (race-license endorsements and disqualifications!). Mark C.
Will Houston race move to February? If Champ Car and the IRL merge, what will happen to the Houston Champ Car race at Reliant Stadium?
There is an IRL race at Texas Motor Speedway that is a fixture. This year, the race is June 10. It's highly unlikely that the new Champ-IRL (or IRL-Champ, if you will) would mess with TMS. The race draws the second-most fans in the IRL, behind the Indy 500.
It's even more unlikely that the TMS management would want a race in Houston in May when its race is in June. Bruton Smith, the man who owns the Fort Worth track, is a heavy hitter. He'll have some say about whether an open-wheel race is held so close to his track a mere month earlier.
The problem? If not in May, when can the Houston race be held? It can't be earlier because it takes six weeks, minimum, to construct the track around Reliant Park, and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo isn't over until March 18.
Having the race later in the summer would be torture for drivers and fans. Some drivers were grousing about the heat last week, and it was about as pleasant as you could get for mid-May.
Forget about the fall. The Texans rule in Reliant once early August rolls around. So, what might happen?
"As a Champ Car guy, I hadn't really thought about it," said Grand Prix of Houston promoter Mike Lanigan. "My only answer is that Houston is a bigger market than Dallas."
Splitting hairs, Dallas-Fort Worth has a bigger metropolitan area and is a bigger TV market than Houston. Certainly, if there is unification, the new open-wheel series would love to have Houston involved. The devil is in the details.
From AutoRacing1.com perspective, in a merger scenario, the IndyCar season must start in early February in order to be done in September when ABC/ESPN become preoccupied with NASCAR. The Houston and the St. Petersburg, FL. races should open the season in February, St. Pete before baseball Spring Training moves in and Houston before the rodeo moves in. In part from the Houston Chronicle
Kite and Carlson eye Indy 500 rides Jimmy Kite, a five-time Indianapolis 500 starter, and Tyce Carlson, a two-time Indianapolis 500 starter, are both at the Speedway today in hopes of landing a ride for the "500."
JIMMY KITE: "I'm not real comfortable on Pole Day here. Bump Day is more my speed. I kind of got screwed this week with both of them being on the same weekend. Normally, I have pole weekend, and then I have that whole week to find me a job. They've shortened it from a week to 24 hours. Still, when you come out here, stuff happens. You know, I'd love to be in a car tomorrow. Hopefully, by 6 o'clock (Sunday), I am. If I'm not, you know, it wouldn't be the first time. If you'd have asked about four hours ago, I'd have said there's no interest whatsoever, but I think everyone is realizing that tomorrow is getting here, and there's some interest. Whether it happens, I don't know. I'm still here. I'm a little more excited now than I was, but we'll just wait and see."
TYCE CARLSON: "I'm just pounding the pavement right now. There's a couple of people talking about opening up another car later tonight or tomorrow, but it's all about money. But weird things happen. You know it's been 10 years ago from this weekend that I made my first IndyCar attempt here at the speedway, and it was a last-day, last-second deal. I was on pit road and somebody said, 'Hey, go get your stuff and get down here and get in a car,' so I know it can happen that way, and I'm going to be here until that gun sounds. You can't put the foot in front of the horse, or whatever the saying is, but you know, everybody knows, up and down the garage area, what cars might be available, so those are the people that I'm talking to. Obviously, the 33 car (Ganassi) is going to be open, but that's going to be a lot of money to get into. Dreyer & Reinbold might have another car, Foyt might have another car. Look what A.J. did with Felipe last year. I wasn't at a Babies 'R Us today, but I was at my kid's baseball game today and I sold a house today, so it's kind of the same thing. I was out working today, doing other stuff, so you never know."
Overheard in Mid-Ohio Word from Mid-Ohio is that Honda has plans to move up to LMP1 in ALMS in 2008. We hear that Michael Andretti, Roger Penske, Adrian Fernandez and Bobby Rahal are expected at Mid-Ohio for Sunday's ALMS race. Are the rumors true that Andretti and Rahal will campaign Honda teams in ALMS in 2007?
Rumor in the paddock also suggests that we will see a Peugeot entry at Sebring in 2007, diesel powered we suspect.
Davidson, DC, on the move (GMM) Next year, Anthony Davidson could finally earn a spot on the formula one grid.
British magazine F1 Racing reports that the long-time Honda test driver, who has raced in actual grands prix just three times since 2002, is being eyed by Honda-backed Super Aguri.
''Next year Anthony would be fantastic for us,'' team principal Aguri Suzuki was quoted as saying, but he also admitted that Honda would have the final word.
The same magazine also claimed that David Coulthard could be a feature of the 2006 driver market, with Toyota apparently keen on the veteran Scot as a possible replacement for Italy's Jarno Trulli.
The Red Bull driver's manager, Martin Brundle, said: ''I wouldn't want to comment on the Toyota rumors -- besides, David remains extremely keen to drive a (Adrian) Newey-designed RB3 next year.''
Elsewhere in the F1 media, 'ITV' quoted a GPMA spokesman as confirming reports that Bernie Ecclestone finally put his signature to the carmakers' peace-making 'memorandum of understanding', which is likely to be the basis of a new 'Concorde Agreement' for 2008.
The spokesman said: ''I can confirm to you that it is true, that (Ecclestone) has signed.''
4th Childress team in works Before Dale Jarrett accepted Michael Waltrip's offer to run Toyotas on the Nextel Cup tour next season, Jarrett considered a ride with Chevrolet's Richard Childress, in a fourth Childress car, as part of a six-year package, according to sources close to the situation. Under the proposed Jarrett-Childress deal, Jarrett would have signed on for three more seasons as a driver, 2007, 2008 and 2009, and UPS would not only have followed Jarrett to Childress' but would have agreed to another three years of sponsorship beyond 2009, according to sources. However the deal never came down, in part because Childress was leery of expanding to a fourth team, given the problems he had when expanding to a third Nextel Cup team. Winston Salem Journal
Top-secret Chevy engine One of four proposed new Chevrolet NASCAR Cup engines - which have been under top-secret development by the Rick Hendrick, Joe Gibbs, Childress and DEI camps - has already finished its first dyno run, according to sources, and two more versions are expected to be on the dyno in the next week or so. Chevy execs have been tight-lipped about the project, which is designed in part to meet the Toyota challenge next season. Mark Kent, GM's racing boss, and Pat Suhy, GM's NASCAR field director, would only say the new engine - whichever version is selected to be officially submitted to NASCAR by the Sept. 1 deadline - is on the fast-track. "We hope it's a Toyota-killer.... or that it's at least as good as the Toyota," Kent said. Toyota's Truck V-8 is considered the best-designed engine in NASCAR today, but NASCAR has said it will try to rein in some of the Toyota design aspects in its new Nextel Cup engine. NASCAR officials have spent more than a year articulating some 70 engine parameters in order to create a tighter box for all four manufacturers to meet in their various engine designs. However Toyota engineers have, according to their rivals, been able to. Chevrolet's engine design is the oldest on the Nextel Cup tour, OK'd in 1996. A 1999 proposed redesign and a 2003 proposed redesign were both rejected by NASCAR. Winston Salem Journal
McLaren offers Montoya extension, Rossi to Red Bull?UPDATE (GMM) Whether Ferrari can offer him a seat or not, Valentino Rossi might still switch to formula one in 2007.
The reigning MotoGP champion is perpetually linked with the Italian team following several test outings, but recent speculation suggests that the affection of both parties may have cooled.
Instead, Maranello-based Ferrari seems to be heading for a race line-up next year starring Michael Schumacher and Finland's Kimi Raikkonen.
Spain's 'Marca' newspaper, however, is now reporting a link between the flamboyant 27-year-old rider and customer Ferrari-powered Red Bull, whose owner Dietrich Mateschitz has previously gushed at the prospect of landing Rossi.
05/18/06 McLaren is rumored to have offered Juan Montoya a one-year contract extension that is contingent on Raikkonen moving to Ferrari, which the team now thinks could happen. Montoya, not liking the contingency requirement, has not signed the deal and is said to be talking to Renault (to replace Alonso) and Red Bull (to replace Coulthard). We suspect Montoya won't sign with anyone else until it is determined where Raikkonen will drive in 2007.
Meanwhile there is some speculation that Valentino Rossi will race for Red Bull in 2007 because the seats at Ferrari are probably already spoken for. This would allow Ferrari to see how good of an F1 driver Rossi will be, and it will also give Rossi some necessary race experience should the Scuderia ever want to pick up the Italian MotoGP star.
Trulli under fireUPDATE We are downgrading this rumor to 'false' today. Toyota's new technical chief has further dampened speculation that the Cologne based formula one team might be on the market for a driver.
Italian driver Jarno Trulli, who has mysteriously struggled for pace recently, is out of contract at the end of 2006.
Pascal Vasselon, taking on a 'senior general manager' role but basically filling the departed Mike Gascoyne's boots, told 'Sport1' that Toyota intend to fight for the world championship in 2007.
Asked if Trulli and teammate Ralf Schumacher would still occupy the red and white cockpits, he answered: ''Yes, we are very happy with our two drivers.''
05/15/06 Rumor has it that Toyota bosses back in Japan had a meeting Monday and they want results and want results fast from Toyota F1 driver Jarno Trulli. If Trulli does not score a single point in Monaco, Brazilian Toyota test driver Ricardo Zonta (pictured right) may be handed the racing seat for the British GP on June 11th.
Merger plans are off?UPDATE #2 We are now downgrading this rumor to 'false' as both Kalkhoven and George deny the merger might be off in this Indy Star article. Both sound reasonably optimistic that a merger will eventually happen.
"We continue to talk in really good faith," Kalkhoven said. "We're both committed not only to the 500, but to getting it back to its place as a huge international spectacle."
The leaders of the Indy Racing League and Champ Car said there have been meetings between their competition directors, Brian Barnhart and Tony Cotman, respectively. Representatives from the engine manufacturers -- Honda and Cosworth -- have been involved, too.
The last meeting between George and Kalkhoven was May 11. George said they already have their next agenda item.
"We're going to share our views of what we think the next three years will look like in unification," he said.
05/18/06 Perhaps a bit more positive news that the merger is still alive. Tony George was quoted by the USA Today newspaper that "barring a revelation over the next 10 days," not to expect a merger with Champ Car before the Indy 500 May 28th. George said there needs to be an agreement in place in the next 60 days, however.
"It's going to take some time but I'm not closing the door on this," George said. "There is a lot more progress that needs to be made for us to get together."
George said that once a philosophy of a merged series is agreed upon, other issues - including schedule, car specifications and even a name must be settled. "Once we're together and start living under the same roof, that gives us the best shot of planning our future together," he said.
Like we said, the rumor below might have been fed to us to divert us into thinking a merger was not at hand so as not to spoil an announcement. Given George's words above, we tend to think this merger is still going to eventually happen and we are downgrading this rumor to 'speculation,' and hopefully eventually to 'false.' Mark C.
05/17/06 Rumor (strong) has it that the Champ Car/IRL merger possibility has greatly diminished, primarily due to Tony George's camp. The IRL simply has shifted into greedy mode and has started making outlandish requests. Some say they are emboldened by 1) a full Indy 500 field, 2) France family pressure and money - they don't want to see a strong open wheel racing series, 3) the thinking they can win this war without a merger, that Champ Car and its teams have failed miserably in their marketing efforts to land sponsors, and that Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe will eventually get tired of writing checks to keep it propped up. It has really dimmed the climate in open-wheeled racing, as everyone had hoped a merger was very close.
A couple of related rumors that we heard was that the IRL wants to use their chassis, called Crapwagons by the fans because they are perhaps the ugliest looking race car on the track behind Grand-Am cars. We also heard that Honda wants to continue to use their current normally aspirated IRL engine and refuse to do a turbo. If true, here we go again, the manufacturers trying to dictate what the series should do. The turbo being the preferred engine by just about everyone, it certainly is quieter for the street races and a much more versatile engine. Talk in the paddock is that Honda does not want to invest in upgrades to their old CART turbo engine because they will be gone from open wheel racing in about three years when they move to NASCAR. Honda denies a move to NASCAR is in the works, but not everyone believes that.
Champ Car has decided to move forward with their new Panoz chassis, so now there is no turning back, as Champ Car teams will not be buying IRL chassis, thereby making the merger pretty much a dead issue unless the rumor that the IRL will not use the new car is false.
If the Tony George camp has indeed dug their heels in, it could well mean the end of a merger and the end of open wheel racing in the USA. We suspect that some of the big IRL teams will follow the Honda and Toyota money to NASCAR and ALMS, just as they followed it from CART to the IRL.
Is this rumor true, or is it just a diversion so as not to spoil a big announcement? After all, Tony and Kevin even made a public appearance together last week and Tony flew to Houston this past weekend (we doubt he likes ALMS that much). Only time will tell, but we suspect if the announcement does not happen in May, and if Champ Car begins to make announcements for new venues and sponsors in June, that the rumor is probably true.
Lauda: Ferrari has signed Raikkonen Former F1 champion and ex-F1 team boss Niki Lauda says that "Michael Schumacher will most likely retire. Lauda, himself formerly a Ferrari driver, says Ferrari's announcement they would let Schumacher take his time in deciding his future means that the Raikkonen deal is a certainty. Ferrari must have an alternative driver to Schumacher," Lauda told Reuters. "The most logical one is Raikkonen - and they can't afford to wait until the end of the year. If they did wait around until the end of the year they'd have no lead driver signed up and would have to race with Massa and their test driver."
"They must have fixed Kimi in one way or another and if Schumacher continues then Massa will be a test driver and if Michael doesn't continue Massa will race," he added. "That's my logic."
Champ Car eyes race in MaltaUPDATE Initial steps to stage a world class motor sport event in Malta have taken place the past few days. A delegation from Canada which included Greg Macdonald, Eleasha Naso and Robert Vilas who are part of the organizing group of the Grand Prix of Edmonton arrived in Malta last Wednesday to meet with the local promoters, potential suppliers, future investors and members of government.
Grand Prix Malta is spearheaded by Bert Kuehne and Martin Mintoff since the late 90s. Stephen Ritchie and Charles Zahra came aboard at a later date. The race in question would be part of the Champ Car World Series.
The group’s vision of hosting a major motor sport event has taken many years of dedicated work and involved investments of both time and capital.
This dream has taken a major step forward on Thursday when the delegation from Canada made a presentation to a trio of Ministers that included Dr Francis Zammit Dimech, Mr. George Pullicino and Mr. Jesmond Mugliett in the hope of receiving support for the project.
The presentation covered what is involved and what anticipated benefits can be achieved through this project. The key factor is the economic benefit to Malta.
Champ Car events attract an average of 150,000 spectators, of which 35 per cent are from exterior origins. The average economic impact during a Champ Car race weekend is $40 million.
The events are normally transmitted live on Eurosport with around 300 million households able to watch the event around the world.
The Champ Car World Series is an international racing competition that includes venues in the US, Canada, Mexico, Korea and Australia. They are presently looking to expand in Europe, Asia and North Africa.
Their present calendar of events encompasses 16 races and is looking to fill three open points. The series is one of the most exciting forms of motor sport that compete on a variety of street, airport, oval and road courses. The drivers competing in the series hail from the US, France, Spain Great Briton, Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Australia and Brazil.
They include Cristiano da Matta, Sebastien Bourdais, Oriol Servia, Paul Tracy just to name just a few. Past competitors have included some of the world’s greatest drivers, Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Bobby Unser, Emmo Fittipaldi have all competed in this series for numerous years.
The Champ Car World Series competes with a 750hp open wheel chassis vehicle that attains speeds of 390 km/ph.
The group also visited the proposed site of the track and was very impressed with the potential that it offered as an ideal location for all aspects involved in a race event. Champ Car events are more than just a race over a weekend. It involves a number of community events leading up to the race. Champ Car calls this a Festival of Speed. They include a variety of off site initiatives, (Street Fest, Drivers Party, Face of Champ Car, VIP Gala and Speed Zone) that entail local businesses and allow all members of the community to get involved. More ...
Edmonton wants to renew Champ Car race for 30 years Rumors are flooding out of racing circles that Champ Car (including the Edmonton Grand Prix) and the IRL (Indy Racing League) will soon announce "reunification" of the two, long-quarrelling open-wheel (i.e. race cars, not stock cars) series, perhaps at the Indy 500 later this month.
Merging the two race series, just about every serious observer says, would be a win/win for open-wheel racing.
"It'd be fantastic for us," says Edmonton Grand Prix chairman Ric Forest. "All the best racing teams (in North America) would be coming here, every IRL team and every Champ Car team."
No need to worry about Edmonton being left out in the cold in a rationalizing or restructuring of the two circuits.
"We're assured by Champ Car that we'll be included (should a merger occur)," says Ric.
"We're considered to be the model for further expansion. Our contract (with Champ Car) runs to 2010. We'd like to see it extended for 30 years." Edmonton Sun
Waltrip to expand to three Toyotas Michael Waltrip says he could expand his Toyota Cup operation to three teams next season. Waltrip is set for at least two teams. He and Dale Jarrett will be the drivers.
"We'd like to have three teams," Waltrip said at Darlington. "We think that'll give us the best chance to compete against the guys who are winning races now. There's a timetable that will come into play. ... We could start a third team if we could get another sponsor." Roanoke.com
A 4th car for Vision Racing? Davey Hamilton had hoped to return to an Indy car after a five-year absence, but he couldn't come to terms with Eddie Cheever Jr. for the second car of Cheever Racing. Instead, the ride will go to Max Papis, a former CART veteran who finished 23rd in his only 500 start, in 2002. Hamilton, whose career stopped when he suffered major foot injuries in a crash at Texas in 2001, remains hopeful he will land a ride for the May 28 race. He said his best opportunity rests with the fourth car of Vision Racing, if team owner Tony George opts to run it. Indy Star
Temperature rise fueled Renault win Felipe Massa claims that a rise in temperature between qualifying and the race handed Renault their winning advantage in last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.
Writing in his personal column on Ferrari's website, Massa said:
"It's proof of the progress we have made in recent weeks that not finishing on the podium in Barcelona was disappointing," Massa said, "But, when you get to the end of a race and know in your mind that you could not have done any better, then you have to be satisfied with the result.
"There was no reason to be disappointed but, of course, we had not expected the Renaults to make such a step forward on race day. Generally, our package was just not quick enough. I was happy with our tire choice and I still think we took the one with the best performance for the race - the softer of the two Bridgestones was definitely too soft. Sure, we might have started on the front row if we had picked it but, after a couple of laps, we would have been in difficulty. "I think maybe the heat tipped the balance slightly in favor of Renault last Sunday, as it was hotter than we had expected. But it was not just the heat, it was also down to the grip levels from the track, and we know we still have to do some work for the next few races."
McLaren, Williams, consider 'flexi' option (GMM) McLaren and Williams could be the first of several teams to follow Ferrari's lead in fitting so-called 'flexi' rear wings in 2006.
After finishing a minute behind the leaders at Barcelona, and lagging behind Ferrari in the speed traps, it is now suggested that engineers at Woking based McLaren are intending to possibly debut the dubious design at soon as Monaco.
The FIA's lack of action in banning the Ferrari wing means that others now feel more comfortable in exploring the alternate interpretation of the rules.
It is understood that Williams may also be heading down the 'flexi' route, after struggling even more markedly for top speed at Circuit de Catalunya.
''We have got to improve in all areas,'' McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh has now admitted.
And, hinting at how McLaren would handle Ferrari's ongoing use of the flexible innovation, he added that the silver team has 'waited' to see how the FIA handled the issue.
What engines will Red Bull teams use? Red Bull Racing is due to use Ferrari V8 engines in 2007 and Scuderia Toro Rosso will presumably switch over to Cosworth V8s, the two Red Bull teams will not go on leading separate lives forever, particularly when the rules for 2008 will allow them to share chassis and engines. The big question that everyone is asking is which engines the team will use when that happens. There are some who believe that Red Bull will buy Cosworth Racing but it is also worth noting the developing relationship between Red Bull and the Volkswagen group. Red Bull is backing the VW Touaregs in Rally Raids, Skoda in the World Rally Championship, Seat in the World Touring Car Championship and Audi in DTM. There is clearly a policy for the two companies to work together and ultimately it may be that Audi will come to F1 with Red Bull when the company restructuring is further along its path. More at Grandprix.com
Rahal team to switch carsUPDATE #2UPDATE Buddy Rice and Danica Patrick will win or lose the Indianapolis 500 with a Panoz chassis, their team owner said today. Bobby Rahal said there isn’t enough time to make the switch to Dallara, which was superior in the first week of practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Besides, he said, the team only has two such cars in its possession. Practice resumes Wednesday. Qualifying is Saturday. “It would be totally chaotic to switch now,” he said. Indy Star [Editor's Note: Our original rumor said Texas, not Indy for the switch]
04/22/06 We have it on good word that the Rahal Letterman IRL team will switch from the Panoz chassis to the Dallara chassis starting with the Texas race. In Japan, the Rahal team was the only team running the Panoz and it can be assumed that the team has determined the Dallara is a superior car.
05/16/06 Buddy Rice and Danica Patrick will win or lose the Indianapolis 500 with a Panoz chassis, their team owner said today. Bobby Rahal said there isn’t enough time to make the switch to Dallara, which was superior in the first week of practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Besides, he said, the team only has two such cars in its possession. Practice resumes Wednesday. Qualifying is Saturday. “It would be totally chaotic to switch now,” he said. Indy Star04/22/06 We have it on good word that the Rahal Letterman IRL team will switch from the Panoz chassis to the Dallara chassis starting with the Texas race. In Japan, the Rahal team was the only team running the Panoz and it can be assumed that the team has determined the Dallara is a superior car.
Menard to move up to Cup Dale Earnhardt Jr. was addressing fans at a sponsorship gala and revealed a pair of intriguing tidbits to the gallery: Earnhardt said it is his understanding that Paul Menard will run a full Nextel Cup schedule in the #15 Chevrolet in 2007. NASCAR.com/Marty Smith
Merger would put Portland race in doubt This Portland Oregonian article discusses the likelihood of the Portland International Raceway Champ Car race making it on a merged Champ Car/IRL schedule should the two series merge. As it is, the race is already on thin ice and unless attendance and sponsorship pick up this year, 2006 could be the last year Portland fans will see the open wheel cars in action.
Aguri to replace Montagny with Japanese driver (GMM) Monaco might be Franck Montagny's last outing for Super Aguri.
The fledgling Japanese team's boss, Aguri Suzuki, is reportedly nigh on signing a countryman to permanently replace the team's axed rookie Yuji Ide.
Despite his protestations to the contrary, it is believed the Suzuki is under pressure to complete his 2006 lineup with a second Japanese, while Takuma Sato does a solid job in the primary 'SA05' car.
Frenchman Montagny was only ever signed as a 'Friday' driver for the Nurburgring, slipping into Ide's race seat at short notice. Subsequently, he got the nod for the grands prix in Spain and Monte Carlo.
''I am interested in Sakon Yamamoto,'' Suzuki, referring to the 23-year-old Formula Nippon driver, told 'Motorsport Aktuell' magazine.
Yamamoto, originally linked with the Leafield-based debutants over the winter, credibly drove a third test car for Jordan at Suzuka last October.
In the definitive practice session, he clocked a quicker time than yellow-clad regulars Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro.
Lowe's to be one groove track? Lowe's Motor Speedway President H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler says it remains to be seen whether fans will see a second racing groove on the newly paved track in this month's races.
This Saturday's Nextel All-Star Challenge will be the first race following a $3.5 million repaving project that took advantage of the latest race track paving technology. "It's as smooth as you can get," Wheeler said. "That's good and bad. That's good in the fact that it is fairly consistent. It's bad in the fact that nobody is used to it.
"They're going to have to get used to it, and they're going to have to figure it out, but that's what Nextel Cup is all about, adjustment." NASCAR Daily Scene
Traction control caused Montoya spin Juan Pablo Montoya believes a problem with his traction control caused his spin on Sunday that took him out of the race. Montoya spun his McLaren in turn two while racing in tenth position. "I think it was the traction control," he said after the race. "When I went to shift a gear up, the car just went. I don't know, normally through here you need the traction control, you lean on it, and for some reason it just went. It's kind of weird but I don't know what happened."
Hamilton to drive for Cheever? Davey Hamilton emerged as the leading candidate to drive the second car at Cheever Racing. Hamilton hasn't raced an Indy car since severely injuring his feet in an IRL accident at Texas Motor Speedway in June 2001. Indy Star
Beck team may get 2nd car Stephan Gregoire's No. 97 car made its first appearance in Gasoline Alley on Sunday, with crew members posing for a group photograph. The Team Leader Racing entry is being organized by Greg Beck, who still hopes to field a second car in this year's event, to be driven by PJ Jones. Beck said he has everything he needs to do it, except a quality crew. Beck emphasized any second-car effort must be run professionally. "It needs to be self-sufficient," Beck said. "I have the money, I have the car secured. It's nailing down the people to do it, and they have to be good people." Indy Star
Why McLaren is now so horrible Word in the F1 paddock is that McLaren went from the fastest team last year to become a mid-field team now because they lost designer Adrian Newey to Red Bull. Although no team wants to admit it, every team that Newey has been with has been a winner, and when he has left, they essentially go right down the tubes.
Next year will be the first Red Bull car under Newey's design leadership.
Champ Car TV production to change again?UPDATE #5 AutoRacing1.com has been deluged with emails again last night and today complaining about the horrible TV production for the Houston GP. The simple answer we have for all is this - until they bring back Jack Graham as noted below, expect the TV production quality to go from bad to worse. We predicted this would happen, and we didn't get any of these complaints last year.
04/11/06 After Sunday's Long Beach race the internet discussion forums are abuzz with negative comments about the quality of the TV broadcast this year. We received these letters:
Dear AutoRacing1.com, I am very disappointed with your response to Sunday's Champ Car race TV coverage. The TV broadcast was abominable! It looked like the work of a high school student's project for an electronic media course. Meaningless conversations. Mindless cutting from cars racing each other to single cars cruising down the track leaving announcers stranded in mid sentence. Airing mindless blather when racing was happening on track and then watching cars circulate under yellow. One significant problem is too many on air people and the consequent push to get all the prerecorded pieces on regardless of the reduction in broadcast time due to football broadcast overruns. Racing is difficult to broadcast at the best of times and punishes incompetence relentlessly. You should too! George Daszkowski
Another writes, Last night I finally watched the LBGP race which I recorded over the weekend. I would have liked to see a more exciting race for broadcast TV, but what really made me cringed was the new TV production work. I know CCWS is out to promote its drivers, but the cheesy driver poses during the opening telecast, reminds me of something turned out by a high school radio and TV class. It looked very second rate. Didn't CCWS sign with a new TV production company over the off season? Is this the best they can do? What happened to the fast pace cutaways and cool graphics? This seemed like a step back not a step forward. If CCWS want to attract new audience on the network TV, they are definitely going to need to do better than this. If I was a casual TV viewer I know this would not draw me in. Nathan Brophy, Dallas, TX
Dear George and Nathan, Though we predicted this would be an issue below, no one wanted to believe us. With that said, it is their first Champ Car TV production so they have two more strikes (races) before we can declare them out of their league. Hopefully things will improve by the next race. The 0.6 overnight rating, which is sure to drop for the finals, is another indicator. That's the lowest "network" TV overnight rating in CART/Champ Car history.
They did save $150K by not hiring Jack Graham back. Jack of course is the reason why Champ Car TV broadcasts had improved last year and everyone was generally happy. Bad move from our perspective, but what do we know about TV, right? To be fair, the helicopter shots added a lot to the broadcast, so that was a good improvement this year. Mark C.
01/14/06 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Why did Champ Car switch production companies again when last year the TV broadcasts were better than they have been in a long time? John Mickle, Camden, NJ
Dear John, We are not privy to why they made the switch, but you can bet money was one factor. John Mullin and his Mullin Production Group have produced the Atlantic Series races for years, so they know racing. Our concern is that John Mullin is a cable TV producer, not a network TV producer. One reason last year's broadcasts were better was because Jack Graham was the producer.
Jack has years of experience as a network TV producer and that is why the Champ Car broadcasts were markedly better last year. As we understand it, John Mullin is going to be both the Executive Producer and the Producer. So Champ Car is going to step the quality of their broadcasts back to cable TV quality rather than spend another $150K and have Jack Graham be the producer and John Mullin the Executive Producer. Graham should be working for Mullin and produce the actual broadcasts to the same network TV quality we saw last year. The Executive Producer's job should be to make sure everything else comes together, people and bills get paid, etc. and leave the actual race show production to someone like Jack Graham. The worse thing Champ Car can have happen now is to take a step backward in the quality of their TV broadcasts. Mark C.
01/11/06 This story/rumor, broke by AutoRacing1.com back in November, is now 'fact.' See story on Hot News page.
12/13/05 Several people have contacted us about the fact that Champ Car still has not made a decision on who will do the TV Production for them in 2006. Bad. Very bad. The sooner TV production contracts are in place the sooner the production company or Champ Car can sell to potential sponsors things like the neat cable-cam that you saw above the pits in Surfers this year. Champ Car could have that at every race if the production company has time to sell it to an advertiser. Ditto for additional in-car cameras.
Want three more cars equipped with in-car cameras? Well that takes money and the money comes from a sponsor whose logos appear in the live-feed. Want neat graphics on the screen that portray great information to the viewer? Guess what, that takes money and time to implement.
The fact that Champ Car is dragging their feet on picking one of the three production companies we mentioned below is alarming. The more time the production company has, the better the end result will be. Recall how horrible the TV production was the years CART/Champ Car waited until the 11th hour. Mark C.
11/09/05 This year for the first time Champ Car fans have been happy with the quality of the TV broadcasts. After years of miscues and shoddy work, they finally got it right this year. All that could be about to change. AutoRacing1.com has learned that Champ Car could be about to toss out the best TV production group it ever had.
Why? Because at the end of November Molson Sports and Entertainment no longer exists and TV Broadcast Production Director Claude Briere and all his people and contractors are out of a job. Briere had Jack Graham overseeing the TV production at the track, and Graham has years of network TV experience, and it showed. We hear that Briere is in the process of starting his own company with all the same people.
Our sources tell us that Champ Car is aiming to open the TV production for bid between Briere, Terry Lingner (who once did the '02 and '03 Champ Car broadcasts, but did the IRL the last two years) and John Mullen Production Group (who did the Atlantic Series TV). We hear that Linger is not doing the IRL anymore, and we don't know if they quit or were fired.
Word is that new Champ Car TV boss Mark Reilly is leaning toward Terry Lingner Production but we hear the race promoters don't want to see Champ Car change yet again because they liked this year's TV production quality.
Kimi coup heads for Monaco revelation (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen's move from McLaren to Ferrari could be formalized as soon as the next stop on the calendar -- Monaco.
After Michael Schumacher announced that he can leave it until the end of 2006 to make his own decision, Ron Dennis added more fuel to the speculative fire by revealing that McLaren's plans for 2007 had now been settled.
The full silver-clad line-up, with Fernando Alonso in one seat, would be known in 'two or three weeks', Dennis revealed in the Spanish paddock.
Former triple world champion Niki Lauda agreed with F1 gossip that Ferrari almost certainly already has at least one top driver - Raikkonen - ready to race.
He told 'Express': ''It is inconceivable that a team like Ferrari risks arriving at the end of the year without a top driver under contract.
''(And) the only potential replacement for 'Schumi' is Raikkonen.''
Renault on verge of ’GPMA’ splitUPDATE #2 Formula One champions Renault signed up for a long-term future in the sport on Sunday after they and other carmakers agreed to a new deal with the commercial rights holders.
"The Renault F1 team... has reinforced its commitment to Formula One beyond 2008," the team said in a statement at the Spanish Grand Prix.
"The agreement the team has reached today with FOA (Formula One Administration) expresses the Renault F1 team's commitment to Formula One," team president Alain Dassas said.
"Having entered the 2008 championship last month, this is the next logical step to guarantee the financial stability and competitiveness of our team."
"We have worked hard jointly with our fellow manufacturers in the GPMA to reach an agreement that satisfies our desire to see a balanced distribution of the income generated by our sport," Dassas added.
"We will now pursue our constructive dialogue with the (governing) FIA and the other teams to achieve our shared objectives of an improved sporting show and reduced costs.
"These factors will form the basis for Renault's long-term investment in Formula One."
05/14/06 (GMM) He was careful not to let the cat out of the bag, but Flavio Briatore has gone some way to backing up speculation that Renault is on the verge of pulling out of the carmakers' 'GPMA' group.
The team's Italian principal told 'Welt am Sonntag' that Renault is growing tired of never-ending bickering about the new 'Concorde' agreement post-2007.
''We have being negotiating for six years now,'' Briatore told the newspaper.
''How much longer are we going to wait?
''We sit in meetings for hours only to decide a date for a new meeting.
''In the past ten months nothing happened at all.
''It is my responsibility to secure the future of Renault in formula one.''
Indicating that the French carmaker now has more in common with those already signed up for Bernie Ecclestone's offerings, Flavio Briatore expressed surprise at the decision on Wednesday - led by McLaren - to vote down the FIA's plan to 'freeze' engine development for several years.
Renault shocked fellow GPMA members when it recently met at Concorde-signatory Ferrari's Maranello headquarters to discuss the idea.
Briatore said of McLaren, part-owned by German manufacturer Mercedes-Benz: ''(They) have not won a title for seven years now, despite its enormous engine budgets.
''Ferrari and Renault aside, the same applies to every other manufacturer.''
05/14/06 (GMM) Renault could be on the verge of announcing that it has joined Ferrari in signing Bernie Ecclestone's new 2008-style 'Concorde Agreement'.
The revelation, which may be imminently due for announcement, would mean that the French company has abandoned four other carmakers in the 'GPMA' alliance and broken an agreement to stick together until at least September of this year.
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone dropped a big hint about the rumor at Circuit de Catalunya, telling the Daily Telegraph that the team led by Flavio Briatore is being 'more sensible' than its rivals.
Additionally, the man who would have to sign the deal, Renault F1 president Alain Dassas, made a rare appearance in the formula one paddock earlier this weekend.
Kimi offered $143m Renault dealUPDATE (GMM) Flavio Briatore has rubbished reports that he is lining up Kimi Raikkonen as a replacement for Fernando Alonso at the Renault outfit next year.
The Italian team principal, although insisting that a 'top driver' will steer a blue and yellow car in 2007, was quoted as telling Welt am Sonntag: ''(The rumors are) complete nonsense.''
Briatore also told the newspaper that he understood why world champion and protégé Alonso decided to head for McLaren for a new challenge.
05/10/06 (GMM) Renault is making a last-minute dash to secure the services of 'iceman' Kimi Raikkonen, according to press reports.
Although the 26-year-old was previously linked more strongly with McLaren or Ferrari for 2007 and beyond, Germany's 'Auto Motor Und Sport' magazine reveals this week that Kimi secretly met with Flavio Briatore at the Nurburgring.
Reportedly, the Renault principal offered Raikkonen - under contract to McLaren but possibly already with a pre-agreement Ferrari deal - an incredible $143 million for four years, or nearly $36m a year.
Kimi was disappointed with the pace of his McLaren last Sunday at the Nurburgring, saying: ''It's not what we want.
Grapevine abuzz at Catalunya (GMM) The F1 paddock's notorious grapevine buzzed with rumors in the confines of Circuit de Catalunya.
One whisper is that, having lost Adrian Newey and a few other engineers and staff, McLaren's Ron Dennis is putting out the feelers for some new Woking talent.
A name linked with a possible silver switch is that of Renault technical director Bob Bell, who worked at Dennis' team until 1997.
A grand prix with no spectators? It could soon happen at Paul Ricard, Spanish speculation on Saturday said.
Supposedly, the race - at Bernie Ecclestone's own track in France that is not equipped with grandstands or spectator areas - would be called the 'Mediterranean grand prix'.
Bernie might even be planning to personally promote next year's returning Belgian grand prix at Spa-Francorchamps.
75-year-old Ecclestone, meanwhile, will apparently meet with Fernando Alonso after the pair exchanged blows in the press this week. Spaniard Alonso, 24, was annoyed at the F1 supremo's claim that he does not do enough in the role of world champion.
Seen in Houston - IIUPDATE #3 AutoRacing1.com investigated this report and we have learned that Kevin Kalkhoven did not arrive in Houston until 12:30 PM so the reports that he was seen this morning with Tony George in the Champ Car Business Unit are false. 05/13/06 We are getting other reports that Tony George was seen in the Champ Car Business Unit very early this morning with Kevin Kalkhoven (and probably others). He then reportedly left to get back to Indy in time for pole qualifying, which was of course rained out. These reports are unconfirmed.
05/13/06 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today as we can confirm that Tony George was spotted twice in the paddock last evening, once around 7:30 PM and again around 10:00 PM during the ALMS race. While we did not get a chance to speak to him we do hear he came down with Roger Penske to watch the ALMS race and have a look around at the Houston facility.
05/12/06 AutoRacing1.com sources spotted Tony George, IRL President Brian Barnhart and Penske Racing's Tim Cindric in the Houston Airport today. Speculation is that George and Barnhart may be in town to continue further talks with Kevin Kalkhoven. However, they may just be coming for a night of R&R to watch tonight's ALMS race as guests of Penske Racing. Stay tuned as we investigate further.....
Merger rumor reaches Mexico Rumor of a merger has arrived in Mexico as two of the different media outlets, local channels 7 and 12 in Monterrey, have talked about the rumor the last few days. Newspapers El Norte/Reforma (the newspaper uses the name El Norte in Monterrey and Reforma in Mexico City) today published an article where its Motor Sport reporter Enrique Guadarrama (who is in Houston this weekend) writes that the merger is almost a done deal according to Guadarrama.
An important official of Champ Car who asked not to be named told him in Houston that in 2 months the merger will be announced, that the original idea was to make the announcement in Monterrey and Indianapolis at the same time, but because the final points of the deal are still being discussed they decided to move the date back. According to Guadarrama the official told him the new series will use the new Panoz chassis with Cosworth and Honda engines. Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico for AutoRacing1.com
Waltrip to announce Jarrett plansUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today with the announcement that was made on Speed Channel's NASCAR Live that Dale Jarrett with drive a Toyota for Michael Waltrip.
05/12/06 Robert Yates Racing is prepared to lose Dale Jarrett to Toyota, but the organization doesn't plan to lose Jarrett's sponsor or teammate Elliott Sadler to the manufacturer set to enter Nextel Cup in 2007.
Michael Waltrip, who will field two Toyota cars next season, is scheduled to make a live announcement Saturday at 12:30 p.m. on SPEED regarding the future of his organization.
According to a source close to the situation, Waltrip plans to announce a deal with a current Cup driver.
Jarrett admitted last week at Richmond that he'd had discussions with Waltrip and that it was just a matter of finalizing details before he announced his future plans.
Eddie D'Hondt, the general manager at RYR, said Thursday there have been talks with Jarrett about him leaving the organization with which he won a championship in 1999 and has been with since 1995.
He would not speculate on who might replace Jarrett.
"We're as far as we can be with things,'' he said. "There have been talks about a whole bunch of things.''
But D'Hondt was optimistic that UPS will remain with the company.
"We are working through that with them,'' he said. "They're a great sponsor and we hope to continue with them for a lot of years.'' More at NASCAR.com
F1 peace at hand?UPDATE #2 (GMM) A meeting on Saturday involving Bernie Ecclestone and the warring 'GPMA' carmakers failed, yet again, to produce peace in the formula one paddock.
More meetings are scheduled for Monaco, but some analysts now say that the prospect of a commercial agreement for 2008 and beyond is not likely before Silverstone in June.
"It was the first of the sporting working groups established by the FIA and the processes that were put in place are ones that we applaud," said Honda's Nick Fry after Saturday's meeting in Spain. "It is democratic and based on majority voting. The people that were at the meeting were people of huge credibility and people who have spent a lot of their lives in Formula 1. I don't want to do a roll call, but we had Stefano Domenicalli from Ferrari, Dave Ryan from McLaren, Ron Meadows from our own team, Steve Nielsen from Renault - they're people who really do know about Formula 1. One of the things that was very encouraging is that these people voted with extreme conviction and it was good that every vote was carried by a majority of eight or nine of the 12, so it's very encouraging that three quarters of the field agreed. Were votes all votes that we at Honda would like? I have to say no, but some we like and some we didn't like so much, but the process was one that looks a good one. I think if the majority vote for or against something and they're people of that credibility, then we'd go along with it like a good process. Obviously the outcome of that meeting has be ratified by the following groups: The Formula 1 Commission and the World Council, but with that sort of majority I'd expect things to be carried through."
Ron Dennis said that he was "encouraged by the fact that it was a democratic vote and it was not difficult to understand. All the people that went there had to work hard to understand the subjects and took a lot of time to prepare for the meeting. I'm sure that their objectives were very consistent with mine and many others in F1. If that's the way we build the future - by a democratic process of evaluating all the options that unfold and that will be positive for Formula 1, but it's got to be democratic and all the way democratic and that's what I hope to have." Grandprix.com
05/07/06 (GMM) More meetings at the Nurburgring did not result in the declaration of peace between F1's establishment and a group of rogue carmakers.
Like at Imola a fortnight ago, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone sat down with the 'GPMA' manufacturers at the German venue on Saturday morning, but sources report that a conclusion to the standoff is not any closer.
05/06/06 The whisper on Saturday at the Nurburgring was that there was a meeting on Saturday lunchtime at which the major teams informed Bernie Ecclestone that they are now in a position to agree to the new F1 regulations for 2008 and to a commercial deal. Those involved are currently not saying anything but if the rumors are correct we would expect to have an announcement within a matter of days. Grandprix.com
If no merger, Open Wheel can die Qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 begins Saturday. At one time it was “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” but I don't think that is true these days.
The Indy 500, set for Sunday, May 28, is just another big auto racing event. NASCAR seems to be what most people are interested in. It claims to have 75 million fans. Indy car racing has a fraction of that.
If the two organizations, the Indy Racing League and the Champ Car Series, don't get together soon and form one group, Indy car racing could disappear and take the Indianapolis 500 with it. More at Bucks County Courier
George still wants Vasser Tony George's busy month included a stint Thursday as tour guide. He was seen chauffeuring Champ Car World Series majority owner Kevin Kalkhoven, with whom he met privately Wednesday night. In addition to discussing a possible merger between the series, George also had the opportunity to seek Kalkhoven's help in recruiting a driver capable of winning the Indy 500. Kalkhoven's partner and part-time driver, eight-time Indy starter Jimmy Vasser, previously turned down an offer from George to drive a Vision Racing car in this year's race. Indy Star
Ford not happy with Jarrett Ford officials are none too pleased with the apparent loss of Dale Jarrett, who will announce his decision to join Michael Waltrip Racing later this weekend (live on SPEED, Saturday at 12:00pm/et). All but two of Jarrett's 32 career Cup wins have come behind the wheel of a blue-ovaled automobile, as did his 1999 Winston Cup title. In addition, Jarrett's father, Ned, won both of his Cup titles as a Ford factory driver, and Dale Jarrett Ford is one of the largest Ford dealerships in the country, located in Monroe, NC about one hour north of Darlington. Priority number one for the suits in Dearborn? Making sure the rest of their camp stay put, in particular Jarrett's current teammate Elliott Sadler. FoxSports
Schu weighing up teammate Raikkonen (GMM) The extension of Michael Schumacher's deadline to determine his future in formula one has sparked off a new flurry of unwelcome speculation.
The German's manager, Willi Weber, denied that the now end-of-year announcement indicates that Schumacher is weighing up whether he really wants to take on Kimi Raikkonen, who may have signed a Ferrari contract for 2007.
''Michael is not afraid of anybody,'' he declared to 'Bild' newspaper.
''The reason for the delay is very simple -- he wants to make sure he makes the right decision.''
Another theory is that, because he's back in the 2006 title hunt, Schumacher would retire as soon as he is an eight-time world champion.
Weber called the guess a 'possibility'.
But he said: ''My feeling is that he would drive on anyway.''
The world's press, as well, has been busy with its hypothesizing skills. 'La Gazzetta dello Sport' in Italy said of Schumacher: ''He wants to concentrate on the championship with a clear mind.''
'Corriere dello Sport', however, added: ''Ferrari could not afford to calmly wait for Michael if the team had not already made plans.
''Independently of Schumacher's decision, Ferrari already has a new driver firmly in its grasp -- Raikkonen.''
John Andretti eyes Indy ride The Andretti "family reunion" at Indianapolis this month took on another dimension Friday at Darlington Raceway, where John Andretti said he is considering an offer to drive in the Indianapolis 500.
Andretti, who drives full-time in the Busch Series for ppc Racing was the first NASCAR driver to "do the double" when he raced in the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 Cup race at Lowe's Motor Speedway in 1994.
While preparing for Friday night's Diamond Hill Plywood 200 Andretti was asked what circumstances would get him back in a car at Indianapolis.
"Right now I keep mulling over some opportunities that are there even for this year," Andretti said with a smile. "I've got to make a decision pretty quick but I got to get through Darlington first."
Two Andrettis are already at The Brickyard preparing for the 90th Indy 500 on May 28. Michael Andretti came out of retirement to join his son, Marco, as two of four Andretti Green Racing drivers attempting to qualify.
"It's a lot of history going on," John Andretti said Friday. "I think Mario [Andretti, Michael's father and John's uncle] is probably going around looking for a ride, which he could get easily, I'm sure." NASCAR.com
More overseas venues for Champ Car In talking to Champ Car President Steve Johnson today he mentioned that there are two other overseas venues that no one in the media knows about that are strong possibilities for future Champ Car races. However, for next year they are focusing primarily on the three new venues that have already been rumored.
"I am more positive about Champ Car than I have ever been," said Johnson. "We have new races, new teams and new sponsors that you will see announced in the coming months and I think that when the new car is launched [in July] it will spur a lot of good things."
Doornbos to replace KlienUPDATE #2 (GMM) Christian Klien added his categorical denial to rumors that he may be replaced by Red Bull 'Friday' driver Robert Doornbos after Sunday's Spanish GP.
''Completely wrong,'' the Austrian, at Circuit de Catalunya, said on Friday of the story that first appeared on a Dutch website.
''I don't know why anybody would say that.''
His Red Bull press relations team, however, saw the funny side, listing a host of similarly fictitious replacements for Klien to add to the website gossip.
For Monaco, for example, Red Bull said Prince Albert would be driving alongside David Coulthard, while at Monza, Flavio Briatore was named as a candidate.
05/12/06 We are downgrading this rumor to 'false' today. Robert Doornbos' management has denied a rumor that, for 15 million EUR, the Dutch driver has bought Christian Klien's racing ride at the Red Bull Racing team.
A Dutch website reported on Friday morning that the price tag made the seat the 'most expensive ever in formula one history', but Red Bull's management also rejected the peculiar story.
''These messages are published by a website which is not FIA accredited nor contacted Robert, the team or us,'' a statement attributed to Doornbos' management said.
24-year-old Doornbos, who is currently Red Bull's 'Friday' test driver, is a bitter rival of countryman Christijan Albers, who - as it happens - writes an exclusive column for the website in question.
Doornbos' management added: ''We are very sorry that people are mislead by this information.''
05/11/06 F1Racing.net reports that Robert Doornbos will replace Christian Klien after the Spanish Grand Prix weekend. The Dutch Red Bull test driver secured the seat after his sponsor, Muermans, paid a total of 15 million Euros to secure the seat, making it the most expensive ride-buying seat ever in Formula 1 history.
Stewart doubts Schu's 'late' decision (GMM) Sir Jackie Stewart has expressed doubt that Ferrari is really giving Michael Schumacher until the end of the year to make his decision about 2007.
The former triple world champion and Scot, representing Williams' sponsor 'RBS' but once a grand prix team chief, said in Barcelona: ''The end of the season is too late. All contracts are being negotiated now.''
Another former GP winner, meanwhile - Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger - does not call into question that 37-year-old Schumacher is still genuinely undecided about his future on the grid.
''It doesn't surprise me,'' said the Austrian when asked about Schumacher's Spanish revelation.
Berger, 46, continued: ''If he needs until the end of the season, then it is correct that Ferrari gives him this time.''
Montagny expects to lose Aguri seat to JapaneseUPDATE We are downgrading this rumor to 'speculation' today. Team boss Aguri Suzuki told Autosport.com, "I have never said that we want an all-Japanese driver-line. I am sure my team is a Japanese team, but it is not necessary to have two Japanese drivers.
"If there is a good Japanese driver then I can give him a chance, but if not then it is a different story.
"We decided just before the Nurburgring to take Franck, but now we have more time to decide in the future. Anyway, he drives in Monaco also and then we have two or three weeks to decide.
"We will have some more discussions with Montagny and other drivers, but I am quite happy using him. He is good."
05/11/06 (GMM) Franck Montagny does not expect to keep the second race seat at Super Aguri for the rest of the 2006 season.
The Frenchman, who debuted in Yuji Ide's place after the Japanese's Super License was revoked, will stay in the Aguri Suzuki-owned cockpit for the next two grands prix.
But he admitted in Barcelona that a Japanese-born replacement is more likely for the longer term.
''If you look at the side of the car it says 'Born in Japan','' 28-year-old Montagny smiled, ''but I am in the car and will try to do a good job.''
Speculation suggests that an all-Japan lineup, with Takuma Sato residing the other Honda-powered 'SA05', is a condition of some sponsorship of the team.
But Suzuki told 'AFP' this week that Ide's permanent replacement would be chosen according to his 'experience, not his nationality'.
Overheard in Houston -III We have it on good word that Tony George and Kevin Kalkhoven had merger talk meetings in Indianapolis both yesterday and today as they continue to try and hammer out an agreement. We are not yet sure if the talks will continue Friday but we do know that Kalkhoven is not due to arrive in Houston until Saturday morning. Although both claim a merger is not imminent, one source told us it could come together very quickly if certain things fall into place.
Tracy to stay in Champ CarUPDATE #3 Although he will announce a 5-year deal to stay in Champ Car today, Tracy is expected to compete in 10 NASCAR races, most likely Busch Series events, in 2007, said Doug Barnette of Player Management International.
Tracy has competed in four Busch Series events this year, finishing 24th in the season-opening race at Daytona. He is scheduled to run in one more Busch race this year.
05/11/06 We already reported this back on April 11th below, but out of respect for the team did not make this rumor 'fact' until today. Tracy and Forsythe Racing will announce later today (Thursday) in Houston that Tracy has re-signed with the team for 5-years (thru 2111), thus putting an end to any speculation he might move to NASCAR. He may still run some NASCAR races from time to time. Mark C.
04/20/06 In his exclusive column for autosport.com, Tracy says he sat down with owner Gerald Forsythe during the Long Beach season opener to discuss a new contract for the former series champion.
"We sat down with Jerry, and my manager and him are discussing it - what's gonna work for me, what's gonna work for Jerry," writes Tracy. "We've had a great relationship, and hopefully by next race we'll know what we'll be doing."
"It seems like there's a lot changing, and I'm now optimistic that a reunification between Champ Car and IRL could happen," says Tracy. "Okay, so nothing's done yet, but at least the two sides aren't at odds with each other over what it will take to get a reunion to happen.
"If it does, well, I'd love the opportunity to run against all the best guys again instead of just half of them, and if it's a three-year deal I sign with Jerry, I'm confident I'll still be quick enough in three years."
[Editor's Note: As we already reported below, Tracy and Forsythe have already reached an agreement. We expect an announcement at the appropriate time]
04/11/06 After only three races in the NASCAR Busch Series, Canadian Paul Tracy appears to be putting his stock-car aspirations on hold in order to continue his open-wheel career. The 37-year-old Forsythe driver confirmed he's negotiating with his Champ Car team to extend his stay in the series two or three more years, which would push his possible move to the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing farther down the road.
"We'll have to wait and see what happens," he said. "I would like to continue open-wheel racing. Everything is changing quickly, so I want to see what happens with the merger and the new car in 2007.
"I want to have my options open to be able to do other things as well, whether it be NASCAR or just being able to try a lot of different things." More at Globe and Mail
[Editor's Note: We hear that Tracy signed a multi-year deal to stay with Forsythe Racing on Sunday morning in Long Beach. We suspect that will be announced by the team at the appropriate time. We wonder if it is tied into the potential sponsor that was there in Long Beach.]
Rival teams to adopt Ferrari tactic Rival Formula 1 teams are planning to modify their aerodynamic packages in line with Ferrari’s interpretation of the technical regulations, according to this week’s Autosport magazine.
The Maranello squad has been accused of using ‘flexi-wings’.
They argued that these devices contravened article 3.15 of the FIA technical regulations, which prohibits the use of moveable aerodynamic devices.
Ferrari has insisted that its aero package has been legal and its car has passed all FIA scrutineering tests this season.
One unnamed source told the magazine: “It’s pretty obvious what Ferrari are doing and we’re going to have to do something similar to compete.
“We won’t be the only team doing this, either, and you’ll see the changes pretty quickly – certainly within weeks.”
Schu to blow competition away rest of season (GMM) Michael Schumacher will charge for a hat-trick of victories with a brand new 'super-soft' Bridgestone tire in Spain.
Germany's 'Bild' newspaper revealed that the new spec, only completed by the Japanese supplier on Monday this week, is softer and faster than the tire with which Ferrari's number one won a week ago in Germany.
Previously, Bridgestone's product - also used for the first time in 2006 by Toyota and Williams - operated only within a small 'window' of performance.
But Schumacher told Bild: ''Whether it is hot or cold no longer plays a role.''
Ferrari boss Jean Todt added: ''Bridgestone have made a giant jump and from now on we will be strong.''
Pat Symonds, a technical chief at Renault, confessed that Fernando Alonso was simply beaten by Ferrari's Bridgestone-clad pace in the Eifel region.
'Our Michelins just could not keep up,'' Bild quoted him as saying.
Renault wants to quit 'breakaway' group (GMM) Renault wants to withdraw from the carmakers' 'GPMA' alliance and sign Bernie Ecclestone's new 2008-2012 Concorde Agreement.
Pulling out of the 'breakaway' pact, however, is proving troublesome, as - together with members BMW, Mercedes, Toyota and Honda - the quintet signed an agreement that binds them together until September, according to 'Auto Motor Und Sport' magazine.
But with the prospect of missing out on Ecclestone's latest offer, Renault is reportedly now ready to join Ferrari, Williams and four other teams in pledging their future to the F1 supremo and the FIA.
The French carmaker's new F1 president, Alain Dassas, is alleged to have now told fellow carmakers that it would like to withdraw, but the other GPMA members are insisting that Renault honor its agreement.
Dassas' predecessor, Patrick Faure, signed the binding 'GPMA' promise.
Renault's withdrawal would put seven of F1's eleven current outfits on Bernie's side, with David Richards and 'Prodrive' almost certain to tread the same path.
The GPMA's collective qualm with the current Ecclestone offer is that it offers ten per cent less of F1's revenue than they desire.
Bernie, 75, said: ''The difference (between what is an offer and what the GPMA wants) is (USD) $20 million at the most.''
Ward to Yates? Couple of little birdies have told me in the last couple of weeks that Ward Burton is off the market in terms of driver availability. And while it is claimed that this information comes from people we would all consider ‘official’ type people, these ‘official’ type people are being coy in regards to whom or what has taken him off the market. One rumor that has gained momentum has Ward taking over the #88 UPS Ford owned by Robert Yates Racing when Dale Jarrett bolts for Toyota. Again, Jarrett hasn’t officially said that he is going to Toyota, but he hasn’t exactly denied it either. Another little nugget of information floating around out there states that if Jarrett bolts, UPS will stay with Yates, but they don’t want the next ‘potential’ Cup star. They want a proven competitor, not just some cat with little or no experience. LastCowboys.com
Craven back to Truck Series? Former Cup driver/winner Ricky Craven said he may return to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this month. He is currently mulling an attractive offer and expects to make a decision soon. Craven, who has 278 Nextel Cup races under his belt, including two wins, raced full time in the truck series for the first time a year ago for Roush Racing. His victory at Martinsville Speedway made him just the 15th driver in history to win in all three major NASCAR series. He passed up his second and final year on his contract with Roush so he would be available to return to Nextel Cup racing if the right full-time offer came his way with a competitive multi-car team. It hasn't. "I have an opportunity in the truck series that has my interest. We've had preliminary discussions and now it's a matter of seeing how serious it is in the next couple of weeks," said Craven. "The bottom line is I need to either get in the game or out of it. I'm the type of person who has to be all in or all out. I'm pushing myself to make a decision. At this point, the truck series makes the most sense for me," added Craven, who wouldn't divulge the team but indicated it is a quality team that would supply him an opportunity to compete for wins. "The trucks are fun to drive and the series has its own identity. I miss racing." Over the past year, Craven indicated he has had several truck offers and some Cup offers with single-car teams. "I can't keep saying 'No.' People will stop calling," said Craven who finished 14th in points last season. Bangor News
Rossi to stick to bikes Yamaha’s MotoGP team boss Lin Jarvis thinks Valentino Rossi will decide against switching to Formula 1 now that he has rookies Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa to give him a run for his money.
"We have an understanding together when that decision will be and we fully respect that decision which ever he chooses,” Jarvis told Motor Cycle News.
“We all know that Valentino is truly a motorcyclist at heart and I think that seeing the new young riders coming into the sport, and not having it easy at the moment is every reason to continue his motivation.
“So if anything I hope this current situation will give him more motivation to stay.”
In truth, however, Rossi's 'decision' might entirely depend on the movements of Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen, who are both tipped for a red-colored ride next year.
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