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Marlboro to stay  UPDATE #3 Another reader writes, On the same note Kenneth, Domino's and Burger King don't make people unhealthy or obese....people who make the decision to constantly eat poorly and avoid exercise do that. The real interesting thing is that these same people then try to blame their obesity and unhealthy ways on food providers rather than their own personal choices. I'm not a smoker or tobacco company fan, but I believe this "obesity" phenomena is rooted in the same psychological context as your view on tobacco companies.  D. Hughes, Cincinnati, OH

Dear Derek and Ken, Food does not cause cancer, tobacco does.  Food causes you to be obese not others.  Secondhand smoke kills innocent non-smokers.  Hence smoking kills not only yourself, but others too.  So in some respects we don't have a choice.  To lump overeating in the same category as tobacco is insane.  One can, however, lump drinking and driving in the same category - both kill innocent victims. The World Health Organizations is making great strides in wiping out tobacco advertising worldwide.  Bravo to them.  I'm sure Penske, with all his business connections and wealth, can find sponsorship from a product that does not kill innocent victims. Mark C.

09/11/06 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Regarding your article on Marlboro allegedly raising nicotine levels, I'd like to take exception to the following section of your article:

'Bottom line here is that if F1 and the IRL allow Marlboro to continue to use their sport to promote a product known to definitely kill people.  We guess it's a matter principle, of sleeping at night knowing your actions are leading to people getting cancer and eventually dying.'

Do cigarettes contribute to cancer in many (not all) cases?  I think most people would agree that this is true and I agree as well.  However, the assertion above that the product 'definitely kills people' is an irresponsible comment because cigarettes themselves do NOT kill people, cancer does.  There is a difference.  The difference is accountability and responsibility for one's own actions.

Even more troubling is the second part of the above quote, 'of sleeping at night knowing your actions are leading to people getting cancer and eventually dying'.

Just who's actions are you referring to?  The IRL? Formula 1? Ferrari?  Roger Penske? Mild Seven Renault (I could go on)?

These racing bodies and teams 'actions' are merely to use capital from the sponsor to compete in racing.  I see NOTHING in their actions that would indicate that they are leading to the death of people who smoke!  Smoking is legal. People CHOOSE to either smoke or not to smoke and I have yet to hear that Roger Penske has tried to jam a 'Marlboro Red' in someone's mouth!

Personally, I do not smoke cigarettes because I believe they are unhealthy but I also don't eat 3 Big Macs a day either. 

And by the way, if this is indeed the path we are following then we ought to prepare for the banning of alcohol sponsorship and fast food sponsorship, don't you think? Obesity is fast becoming one the biggest health issues our country faces yet no one seems to care about that as it applies to, for example, Michael Waltrip's upcoming sponsorship with Domino's Pizza and Burger King. Kenneth Holland

09/11/06 This article talks about an issue that has come up with how tobacco companies are trying to make their product more addictive by raising nicotine levels.  Bottom line here is that if F1 and the IRL allow Marlboro to continue to use their sport to promote a product known to definitely kill people.  We guess it's a matter principle, of sleeping at night knowing your actions are leading to people getting cancer and eventually dying. 

09/11/06 A rumor we heard this weekend in Chicago was that Marlboro will continue to sponsor Team Penske's IRL cars in 2007 even though they, and other USA tobacco companies previously agreed to end all sports tobacco advertising after 2006. In F1 the rumor is that the Ferrari cars may not carry the word Marlboro on them but Marlboro can make the association by putting the Ferrari F1 cars on individual cigarette packages and cartons. We shall see if this is how they will do it and whether they will try a similar scheme in the IRL.
Industry News
GM to form alliance with Renault and Nissan?  UPDATE #7 The alliance between Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. has created a new model for cooperation that's ideal for adding partners, said a Nissan executive closely involved in the original deal.

"It's a business model that we believe we can reproduce," said Dominique Thormann, a former Renault executive who's now Nissan North America's senior vice president of administration and finance.

"It appears to us that it can accommodate at least another partner," he said. "If not, we would not be in this discussion."

09/06/06 Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. have begun hiring banks to advise them on talks with General Motors Corp. over a possible alliance, Bloomberg reported.

Renault will most likely hire two banks and Nissan will hire separately one or two as well, Carlos Ghosn, who is chief executive of both companies, said at Nissan model presentation near Paris today. He reiterated that talks were going well.

“When you have something that works, why not expand it,” Ghosn told Bloomberg the presentation. “In these types of discussions it’s normal to be supported by a certain number of advisers.”

07/06/06 While a high-level team at General Motors Corp. races to study a potential GM-Renault-Nissan alliance, questions are being raised about the viability of the proposed three-way partnership.

GM's board will meet Friday to consider a plan by billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian to link GM with Renault SA of France and Japan's Nissan Motor Co. -- whose boards already have approved entering formal talks with GM.

GM's preparations are also geared toward a pivotal meeting, first reported by The Detroit News, July 14 between GM Chairman Rick Wagoner and Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault and Nissan.

As GM Chief Financial Officer Fritz Henderson and the automaker's investment banks rush to critique the idea before GM's board meeting, the wisdom of a trilateral deal is being questioned in the United States, France and Japan.

Several Wall Street analysts have already raised doubts about tying GM to Renault-Nissan.

"We do not think a Renault-Nissan-GM combination has fundamental long-term merit, but this does not mean it will not happen," said Ronald Tadross of Bank of America.

In France, a top official of the government -- which represents the state's 15 percent stake in Renault -- was quoted by news agencies as urging caution before tying Renault-Nissan to struggling GM, which lost $10.6 billion in 2005.  More at Detroit News  More ...
Industry News
Ford to slash salaried workers  Ford Motor Co. could announce a new round of salaried job cuts as soon as Friday, according to a published report.

The Detroit News reported Monday that Ford (Charts) will start by offering voluntary buyout packages and early-retirement incentives to white-collar workers.

While the nation's No. 2 automaker expects to achieve headcount reduction targets through voluntary programs, involuntary layoffs are likely to follow in some areas if too few workers take advantage of the incentives, according to the report.

Todt, Weber, fend off retirement talk  (GMM) With Michael Schumacher's driving career no longer the subject of intense speculation, similar attention is already turning to those closest to the multiple world champion.

But close friend and Ferrari team principal Jean Todt refused at Monza to give in to the latest rumors, as speculation about Ross Brawn's intentions beyond 2006 also swelled.

Todt told La Gazzetta dello Sport: ''Michael's decision will not influence my future.

''His life is his life, and mine is mine,'' the Frenchman added.

Schumacher's long time manager, Willi Weber, is also now expected to retire, having split with his other charge - Michael's younger brother Ralf - some time ago.

But the German insisted to reporters at Monza: ''I am too young to take my pension.

''I am already cooperating with some young German supertalents.''

Red Bull fires Klien  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today with Red Bull's announcement that Robert Doornbos will replace Klien the final 3 races of this year.

09/10/06 For refusing to take the Champ Car ride offered him for 2007, Red Bull has fired Christian Klien effective immediately.  At least that is the rumor.  Word is the Austrian youngster told his mechanics that he would not be back in China.
Massive Marlboro free ticket giveaway  UPDATE #3 A dismal crowd turned out for Sunday's IRL race with estimates at 28,000, the lowest since the IRL started to race at Chicagoland.  The ticket giveaway failed.

09/09/06 For the sixth consecutive year, Chicagoland Speedway has sold out of its Track Pack Season tickets, the only way you can buy a ticket is to purchase these.  Of course the giveaways for the IRL race confuse us somewhat - How did Marlboro give away tickets that NASCAR fans bought as part of the season package? 

In addition to the sold-out grandstands, suites and hospitality chalets, Chicagoland Speedway also filled up its expanded campground areas, including the new Keep You Cool Campground and Spice Things Up Campground.  Rick Schenk reporting from Chicagoland

09/08/06 More than 100,000 fans are expected Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet for the Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 (12:30 p.m., Ch. 7), and there will be plenty of story lines, with four drivers -- Helio Castroneves, Sam Hornish Jr., Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon -- within 21 points of each other in the season standings. Chicago Sun-Times

[Editor's Note: The Nextel Cup race had 80K.  The place seats 75K plus suites and infield.  That must have been one heck of a Marlboro giveaway to exceed NASCAR and to exceed 100K.]

09/07/06 As reported by WJOL Radio in Joliet, IL Saturday, there has been a massive free ticket giveaway for Sunday's IRL finale at Chicagoland by Marlboro. They plastered the town the radio station reported. Both Marlboro drivers, Castroneves and Hornish, are separated by a single point and one of them should win the title on Sunday barring any major catastrophe. The giveaway included the standard free red Marlboro hats and free tickets. Marlboro would hate to have barren grandstands for the photo op of their cars crossing the finish line.

Will this be Marlboro's last hurrah? According to the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, all tobacco sponsorship was to cease after 2006, so unless Marlboro found a loophole, they appear to be going out with a bang.

Penske doesn’t want merger  Although Roger Penske says he wants a merger between Champ Car and the IRL, if you read between the lines, one has to question whether he really does want a merger. After all, he is heavily tied to NASCAR and the France family, i.e. the oval track cartel. Given that it's easy to see he would prefer open wheel racing be run on all oval tracks, though that was tried by the IRL with very mixed results and many injured drivers, some fatally. When the Marlboro giveaways cease it remains to be seen how well some of these races draw attendance wise.

In the September issue of Road & Track magazine, Penske is interviewed and asked whether he sees a Champ Car/IRL merger happening. You be the judge of what he says.

"I was involved in discussions with Gerald Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven two years ago and it just seemed so difficult based on things they wanted to have happen and what Tony George had to do in order to be able to come to an agreement. Mario Andretti tried a year ago and that fell on deaf ears. I've heard a lot of rhetoric in 2006.

"There was a lot of concern because the IRL was all ovals; there's a transition now to four or five road courses. With St. Petersburg , we're getting some traction at some of these tracks in new markets, and to me that's going to help us and our competitors. The biggest factor is cost I think Tony and Barnhart have really looked at cost, and with this single engine program in 2006, and also a common chassis for the next three years, we're running cars today in races that we owned last year. That was unheard of three or four years ago. So today the cost of the product is much better." [What he fails to say is that the IRL copied this model from Champ Car and in reality would still have high costs with head-to-head manufacturer battles had Chevy and Toyota not dumped the IRL. So as usual Mr. Penske paints a picture as he wants us to believe, but in reality how it happened was in no way a reflection on the IRL's great thinking.] More ...
More points for NASCAR winners  NASCAR officials are seriously considering at least two proposals to change the format for the Chase for the Nextel Cup next season.

Increasing the number of points awarded to race winners and increasing the number of participants in the Chase are both under “serious consideration” at this time, NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter said Saturday at Richmond International Raceway.

NASCAR still could consider other options and no final decision is likely until the end of the season, Hunter said.

Mosley hints at 'impeding' rule change  (GMM) Max Mosley says the governing body is considering changing the rules so that drivers are not unfairly penalized in future.

The FIA president, responding to an uproar in Spain - not to mention in the Renault camp at Monza - admitted that he felt sorry for Fernando Alonso after the Spaniard was dumped to the heart of the grid for 'impeding' Ferrari's Felipe Massa in qualifying.

Mosley said: ''If you have rules in a sport you have to apply them.

''At the end of the season what we are thinking very seriously about is saying we are only going to look at these (incidents) if there is evidence of intent, which I don't think there was in this case.''

Alonso was close to tears in a scrum of journalists on Sunday morning as he expressed disbelief at on-board replays of Massa supposedly being held up.

''I don't consider formula one like a sport anymore,'' he fumed.

Dennis hints at Hamilton future  (GMM)  Ron Dennis has hinted that McLaren and newly-crowned GP2 champion Lewis Hamilton share a mutual future in formula one.  In a faxed press statement of congratulations to the 21-year-old Briton on Sunday, 10 September 2006, McLaren principal Dennis said: ''In due course the (F1) team's and Lewis' plans for 2007 will be announced.''

Hamilton is due next month to conduct his first serious test in a McLaren.

Toro Rosso technical staff shakeup  (GMM)  Toro Rosso technical director Gabriele Tredozi, who has been with the Faenza outfit since its Minardi days, has left the Italian team, according to reports.

The news coincide with speculation that the Toro Rosso cars will in future be designed by a separate group of engineers at Red Bull Racing's English factory.

Midland eyes Gascoyne  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Mike Gascoyne has been confirmed at the new Spyker MF1 Racing team, effective at the end of the current season. Gascoyne will take up his new role at the Silverstone based squad on the first of November this year and he is delighted to be back in the pinnacle of Motorsports.

"I have only recently met Victor Muller and Michiel Mol and they impressed me enormously with their commitment to Formula One and performance program,” said Gascoyne. “Naturally I am delighted to come back to Formula One to a wonderfully challenging opportunity. I know and respect many of the people at Silverstone from my time there previously and I am confident that we will be able to deliver results."

09/08/06 Former Toyota technical director Mike Gascoyne is close to agreeing terms to return to Formula One with the Midland team, autosport.com reports.

Gascoyne left Toyota after this year's Australian Grand Prix and has been on gardening leave since then but, with his contractual commitments to Toyota due to finish at the end of October, autosport.com hears that he is now seriously considering making a pledge to Midland.

Dutch consortium buys MF1  UPDATE #8 (GMM)  A press release issued from Monza at 7pm local time will confirm that the Midland team, to be immediately renamed 'Spyker MF1', has been sold to a Dutch consortium, it has emerged.

Over the coming winter, the newly Michiel Mol-owned squad, to probably be powered by a Ferrari engine next year, will then petition the other teams to allow a full name change to simply 'Spyker', a Dutch sports car maker.

09/09/06 The Midland F1 team has been sold to the Dutch-Arab consortium led by Michiel Mol. The deal was concluded in the early hours of the morning on Saturday and is believed to be worth around $90m, rather less than the rumors that have been circulating for weeks. The team is likely to be called Spyker and will probably use customer Ferrari V8 engines, although the details of the deal are not yet clear. We hear that this may be related to a deal for production car engines for the new Spyker 4x4. An announcement is expected later this morning. Grandprix.com

09/09/06 The completed sale of Midland to a Dutch consortium for about $100 million could be announced as soon as Saturday morning, according to sources in the Monza paddock.

It is suggested that the Silverstone based squad will try to change the name immediately to 'Spyker', but FIA regulations may forbid it.

09/08/06 (GMM)  A fans' website has contradicted reports that the sale of the Midland team to a Dutch consortium is now complete.

A Dutch publication made the claim on Thursday, adding that an official announcement should be due at Monza this weekend.

But a source inside the Silverstone-based team, who is presently at the scene of the Italian grand prix, told Midland F1 Online: ''At this moment in time, the team has not been sold and remains firmly under Midland's control.

''The bottom line is, we own the team, so we'll decide if and when it gets sold -- it's that simple.''

Speaking to autosport.com at Monza, Mol said: "There have been some reports that the deal was complete, but that is not the case.

"The deal is not yet done but we are trying to get it done this weekend. I don't know if we will and if we don't make it this weekend then I don't know if it will happen at all.

"But there is a lot of passion and determination from our side to make it happen."

09/07/06 Midland F1 Racing has been bought by the M-consortium of Dutchman Michiel Mol, and the deal will most likely be confirmed by the team at the Italian Grand Prix this weekend.

08/22/06 (GMM)  A Midland spokesman has admitted 'ongoing' talks between team owner Alex Shnaider and a Dutch group.

Existing sponsor Lost Boys, headed by Dutch businessman Michiel Mol, made an offer to buy Silverstone-based MF1 Racing as long as three months ago, and it was reported on Monday that the sale could now be announced at the Turkish grand prix.

''All I can say at this point is that discussions between the two parties are ongoing,'' Midland's Toronto-based head of communications Ron Fine said.

''Midland will have no further comment on the matter until it has reached its conclusion, one way or the other.''

08/21/06 (GMM)  The sale of Midland's 'MF1 Racing' team to a Dutch consortium is nearly complete, according to new reports in Holland.

'Formule 1 Race Report' is claiming that an announcement could be made this weekend, as the grand prix circus reconvenes in Turkey after a three week break.

The report explained that the final stumbling-block is new negotiations over price, with current team sponsor Michiel Mol - of the 'Lost Boys' company - concerned that his original offer of an estimated $120m was too high.

His new offer is reportedly around the $100m mark.

07/06/06 (GMM) The sale of MF1 to a group headed by Dutch team sponsor 'Lost Boys' is still possible and maybe even imminent, according to new reports.

The latest edition of 'Formule 1 RaceReport' claims that activity is still going on behind the scenes to make the sale, rumored to involve an offer to Alex Shnaider around the $100 million mark, work.

The Dutch publication hinted that it is significant that the subject has now gone eerily quiet. According to their enquiries, Lost Boys' Michiel Mol refused to respond to repeated phone calls, while MF1 chief Colin Kolles declined to answer questions about the sale at the US grand prix.

05/05/06 (GMM) Team racer Christijan Albers has declined to shed any light on speculation that Midland intends to sell its 'MF1' formula one squad.

Asked about new rumors linking Alex Shnaider's Silverstone-based team with the interest of Dutch backer Lost Boys, the 27-year-old said in Germany: ''I have no clue.

''I'm just a racing driver.''

Media reports, however, insist that MF1 'have been put up for sale', with a price tag of $55m.

Forsythe eyes 4-car Champ team  AutoRacing1.com has learned through its exclusive sources that Gerald Forsythe is seriously considering a 4-car Champ Car team in 2007. In addition to Paul Tracy and AJ Allmendinger (who is expected to stay at Forsythe despite his limited NASCAR truck deal), we hear that an existing Champ Car driver and a top IRL driver are begging for a spot on this mega-team. Sorry, we are sworn to secrecy as to who the two new names are.

If true, we look for more than 24 cars on the grid in Champ Car in 2007, despite the 24-car cap that Kevin Kalkhoven mentioned recently. We are led to believe there is some flexibility in that number depending on who it is that wants in. Already they have 4 new cars, 2 each from Gelles and Pacific Coast. Add 2 more from Forsythe and 2 more from Stoddart and there are 8 new cars for 2007. 18 this year (we expect all 18 back) plus 8 = a possible 26 car grid in 2007.  Mark C.
If da Matta returns......  According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Dario Franchitti is expected to sign with RuSPORT as previously rumored, and if he does, it will include a deal for next year, though we hear he is asking for a lot of money.  AutoRacing1.com is also hearing that if injured driver Cristiano da Matta is well enough to return next year RuSPORT will consider a 3-car team.
Ottawa to replace Montreal  UPDATE #3 We are downgrading this rumor to 'false.'  AutoRacing1.com has learned that Champ Car will not race in Ottawa.

09/01/06 Two Ottawa City Councilors are waiving the checkered flag at a proposal to hold an auto race at the former Rockcliffe airbase. The Ottawa Sun reports the Champ Car World Series wants to locate the race to the Ottawa site off the Aviation Parkway.

Both Jacques Legendre and Peter Hume suggest the idea won't get the green light from City Hall. Legendre says the race is the strangest proposal for the land he has heard. 580 CFRA Radio

08/30/06 If Champ Car races at the Rockcliffe Airport in Ottawa, Canada, it won't be the first time a race has been held there.  Rockcliffe Airport is the home of the Canada Aviation Museum. Formerly an active Royal Canadian Air Force base from 1922 to 1964, the airport is still in use for the Ottawa Flying club and for support services for the Museum.

In 1970, a 2.2 mile road racing circuit (pictured right) was laid out on the runways for a round of the Gulf Canada backed National Driving Championship for Formula A and B cars. The event was given the rather grand name of National Motor Races, and was sponsored by the Department of the Secretary of State of the Government of Canada.

On Canada Day, July 1, a large crowd, estimated at 25,000 (encouraged by free admission), attended the race that was won by Eppie Wietzes driving a McLaren Mk10B Chevrolet.

This information is from an upcoming book listing all road racing courses in Canada by noted Canadian motorsport author and Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee Tom Johnston with materials from the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame Archives.

08/28/06 UPDATE #2 The Champ Car World Series confirmed a Sun story yesterday that Ottawa is near the top of the list to replace the Grand Prix of Montreal at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Champ Car officials also confirmed that the ideal location for a race in the nation's capital would be the former Rockcliffe air force base, pictured right.

Champ Car president Steve Johnson first brought up the Ottawa option earlier this weekend in a question and answer session with selected members of the media.

Yesterday, Champ Car director of public relations Steve Shunck repeated that Ottawa is on the series' radar as a venue to replace Montreal on its race calendar.

"We are exploring all of our options for a third race in Canada and Ottawa is certainly being looked at right now," Shunck confirmed to the Sun.

What makes Ottawa so attractive to Champ Car is its status as national capital and its proximity to Quebec -- a fan base that the series does not want to lose after being told that its 2007 Montreal race date will filled by the NASCAR Busch Series.

From a logistics point of view, Rockcliffe, with its wide-open landing strips, is ideal for the big-horsepower, high-speed cars that run in Champ Car.  Ottawa Sun

08/27/06 Ottawa is the capital of Canada, and the country's fourth largest city (behind Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver). It is located in the Ottawa Valley on the eastern edge of the province of Ontario, right at the border with Quebec, about 400 km (250 miles) east of Toronto and 190 km (120 miles) west of Montreal. It is a city on the banks of the Ottawa River, a major waterway that forms the border between the two provinces.  Total population is 1.1 million.

08/27/06 A Champ Car World Series race at Ottawa's little-used Rockcliffe Air Force base is under serious consideration to replace the Grand Prix of Montreal, the Toronto Sun has learned.

It is the closest race-ready site that could accommodate the 800-horsepower, 300-km/h Champ Cars within driving distance to Montreal, a source close to the talks told the Sun.

Ottawa's bilingual national capital status would also allow Champ Car to maintain its important links to French Canada.

Champ Car president Steve Johnson officially announced on Friday Champ Car would not be returning to Montreal after a five-year run.

"It is crucial that Champ Car have a race, if not in Quebec, at least close enough to be considered a home race for Quebec drivers like Alex Tagliani and Andrew Ranger," the source said.  Toronto Sun

UPS to sponsor Renault F1 team  UPDATE Flavio Briatore admitted at Monza that Renault has not yet signed a replacement sponsor for departing tobacco brand 'Mild Seven' next season.

''We are working on that,'' said the Italian, as rumors swirl that Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica decided not to increase its commitment to the team to become title sponsor. UPS is now the leading candidate to replace Mild Seven.

09/06/06 Grandprix.com reports that the Renault F1 team is in deep discussion with UPS and that if the deal goes ahead the Renault next year could be brown and white.
Klien says ’no’ to Red Bull Champ Car offer  UPDATE #4 Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko has irritably reacted to news that Christian Klien has turned down the energy drink company's offer of a funded Champ Car ride in 2007.

''There are hundreds of drivers who would gladly accept this offer,'' he told the 'Austria Presse Agentur'.  ''(Toro Rosso test driver Neel) Jani (right) looks forward to it.''

He answered 'typical Klien' when asked why the 23-year-old Austrian had informed the press of his decision on Friday, despite a team agreement to wait until Saturday.   Like we said, his career is over.

09/09/06 (GMM)  Christian Klien has turned down Red Bull's offer for 2007 of a funded drive in Champ Cars and instead hopes to stay in F1.

In an interview with Osterreichischer Rundfunk, the 23-year-old said he has 'several options' for next year, which are believed to possibly include MF1, Super Aguri and a Toyota test seat.

''I am having conversations with other teams,'' Klien admitted, ''so this is the direction I have decided to push for.''

Swiss daily newspaper 'Blick', meanwhile, reported from Monza that Austrian Klien is supported in his quest to keep driving in formula one by none other than Bernie Ecclestone.

09/08/06 Klien gave an interview to Austrian TV where he said he would not sign a Champ Car deal with PKV and he thinks he can still land at least a test role in F1.  His career is over.

09/06/06 The rumors of Christian Klien going to Champ Car in 2007 are strengthening.  Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz told autosport.com that Klien has been offered a Red Bull-backed drive with Champ Car team PKV Racing for 2007.

"In US racing he has a fair chance to establish himself there in the top," said Mateschitz.

"He can become a hero there and by this he will remain in the focus of F1 and can offer his services in F1 again."

08/25/05 After it was revealed that either Christian Klien or Tonio Liuzzi will snare the vacant race seat next year, Red Bull 'advisor' Helmut Marko hinted that the unlucky one may not even be retained by the outfit.

Moreover, the winner of the role next to David Coulthard, the Austrian insisted, will be named 'only after (the) season.'

The 'Friday' role is sure to land in the lap of American GP2 speedster Scott Speed, who led his country's charge in the latest 'A1 Grand Prix' test at Paul Ricard on Wednesday.

''We cannot guarantee anything,'' Marko answered to speculation that the trailing youngster would continue to enjoy the energy drink's support.

Helmut, a former F1 driver, added: ''We're not the Austrian republic, which has ... officials employed for ever.''

Lopez to look for Champ Car seat  23-year old Argentinean GP2 driver Jose Maria Lopez  is mad at Renault for not choosing him as one of their test drivers instead of Piquet and Zonta.

"I did a lot of things for them to consider me (for their line-up)," Lopez told the Marca newspaper.

"What Renault has done, I think, shows a lack of respect. Now, I'll have to see what plans they have for me for the future. Maybe there's a chance they will transfer me to another team for a couple of years.

"I wanted to be in Formula One in 2007. Racing in GP2 for another year will do me no good."

There are not many F1 test seats open for next year with any decent teams, so scuttlebutt is that Lopez could look for a Champ Car seat.  If the rumored Argentina Champ Car race had materialized last year, this would have been a perfect fit for Lopez and for Champ Car.  Politics in Argentina killed that deal, but there is still a chance the race could happen in the future.  Champ Car still has a goal of racing in Brazil and/or Argentina in future years if the right deals can be put together.

Mark Martin to Yates No. 88  UPDATE #2 Robert Yates Racing co-owner Doug Yates says he hasn't talked with Mark Martin, but he certainly would like to have him in the team's No. 88 Ford next season. But first he needs to land sponsorship for the team.

Yates admitted that courting a driver at this point would be "putting the cart before the horse." He expects to finalize sponsorship plans for the team, which is losing UPS in 2007, in the next three to four weeks.

"We need the sponsorship in place to be able to go after these guys," Yates said. "Guys like Mark and these guys are going to want to make some good money in their last year, which they deserve, and we need some good people on the car to be able to do that."

Yates was then asked if the No. 88 would definitely be back next season.

"Well, I hope so," he said after a pause. "That's our plan."  Scenedaily.com

09/07/06 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.  Benny Ertel, who is Mark Martin's business manager, went Internet surfing Wednesday morning and found some interesting "fiction" on various racing Web sites.  The stories indicated Martin would be buying into Robert Yates Racing and the veteran would drive the No. 88 Ford, which will be abandoned by Dale Jarrett at season's end.   "Wishful thinking," Ertel said. "I read that online. There's no truth to it."

09/05/06 Mark Martin's farewell tour will be extended yet another year when he drives the #88 Ford next year for Robert Yates Racing. Martin originally said last year would be his final as a full-time driver in the Nextel Cup Series, but he changed his mind to return to his familiar #6 Ford at Roush Racing this season. Now it appears he will keep going, but for a new team. Three different sources close to Ford Racing said Martin will take over for Dale Jarrett at Yates after Jarrett moves into a new Toyota Camry at Michael Waltrip Racing in 2007, Morris News Service has learned. Martin said Friday he won't drive the #6 Ford at Roush next year - a ride he's had since the 1988 season - and most people believed that meant he finally planned to start his planned retirement. Robby Gordon confirmed this week he attempted to buy half of Robert Yates Racing recently, but the deal apparently fell through in the last couple weeks. Sources close to Yates confirmed Sunday that Martin - apparently with support of Jack Roush - also tried to buy Yates during the summer. Negotiations went so far that Yates had an inventory completed to show the exact worth of his racing operation. Robert Yates Racing said they would make an announcement on a new driver in about a week. They've already hinted it would be a veteran racer. Athens Banner-Herald
Reutimann or Kvapil will drive No. 00 Toyota  UPDATE David Reutimann will meet in Miami with officials from Burger King on Tuesday in what he hopes is the final step for moving into the Nextel Cup Series for Michael Waltrip Racing next season. Reutimann already has met with officials from Domino's Pizza, which will split sponsorship on Waltrip's new Toyota team in 2007. An announcement could come by the end of next week. Reutimann said the tentative plan is for him to drive a full Busch and Cup Series schedule. NASCAR.com

09/02/06 David Reutimann and Travis Kvapil are the finalists to drive Michael Waltrip Racing's #00 Toyota in 2007, but a decision may be several weeks away. Waltrip wouldn't name the second finalist, but a source familiar with the process said that Kvapil, who currently drives for PPI Motorsports, is the other driver under consideration by sponsors Burger King and Domino's Pizza. Waltrip hoped the choice would be made by now, but things haven't gone as quickly as planned when it comes to coordinating meetings with the team's co-sponsors. "It's more of a deal now where we just need to all reconvene," Waltrip said Friday. "We presented all the options to 'em and I told Ty we would be proud to have either one of our choices and we'll see what happens." Kvapil wouldn't name the two teams he's talking with besides PPI Motorsports, which is still working to nail down its sponsorship for next season. "I told Cal Wells six weeks ago that we were going to try to figure out which way we were going at the end of August," Kvapil said. "I think a couple of other teams I've been talking to are going to make decisions here shortly, too. It's kind of a wait and see as to how it all shakes out. I like some of the things Cal's trying to do for the future of his team. I think he realizes the days of a single-car team are probably limited, so he's trying to either expand himself or form an alliance or do something to help his team in the future produce on the track." Reutimann met with executives from Domino's Pizza on Aug. 29, but a meeting with Burger King executives in Florida didn't materialize as a tropical storm was bearing down on the state. Reutimann returned to North Carolina unsure of where things stand, though he felt the meeting went well. SceneDaily.com
Seven people know Schu decision - report  (GMM) Seven people know for sure that Michael Schumacher will announce his retirement from formula one on Sunday, the German 'Bild' newspaper claims.

They are: wife Corinna, father Rolf, manager Willi Weber, spokeswoman Sabine Kehm, as well as Jean Todt, Ross Brawn and Luca di Montezemolo.  Todt's girlfriend, Michelle Yeoh, may also know, as she was spotted in the Ferrari garage hugging Schumacher on Friday.

Bild quoted brother Ralf Schumacher as denying that he has been told.

''Our relationship is not close enough,'' Ralf reportedly said, referring to his elder sibling.

''I will probably find out by a text message.''

Vettel to stay on  According to whispers from Monza, BMW motor sport director Mario Theissen told Sebastian Vettel on Friday that the impressive German rookie is to remain at the wheel of the 'Friday' car for the remaining three grands prix of the 2006 season.

''At his young age he is capable of handling this job,'' Theissen said.

One more Schumacher rumor  (GMM) Mercedes boss Norbert Haug has described at Monza the intrigue surrounding Michael Schumacher's looming future as a 'mystery'.

Every possible scenario, including sabbaticals and retirement, has done the rounds in the picturesque setting for the Italian grand prix so far this weekend, but it is worth mentioning one more rumor.

It is suggested that the 37-year-old Ferrari driver could announce his departure from the team on Sunday afternoon, before returning to formula one in a silver car in 2008.

''There is nothing new to report,'' Haug insisted to German pay-TV broadcaster 'Premiere'. ''Such things do not have any substance.''

Monza race in doubt for 2007  (GMM) Imola could be the only grand prix held in Italy next year, according to rumors.

It is reported that the circuit, despite being left off the FIA's provisional calendar for 2007, is now due to be renovated by the Italian government, at a cost of some $12.8m, in time for a race at the very end of next April.

Italian reports say the government has committed the funds for the circuit renovation to begin in October, and be completed by March 2007. If confirmed, the move could jeopardize the usual Italian grand prix at historic and high speed Monza, whose safety features have recently been questioned by drivers.

A single race for Italy was listed for September 9 on the FIA's calendar, but Toyota technical chief Pascal Vasselon admitted at Monza that he had heard suggestions that the circus will not return in 2007.

He added: ''It's difficult to say that, but if you want to be pragmatic you have to say that most of the drivers don't like going to Monza.''

Toro Rosso racer Vitantonio Liuzzi has also heard the rumor, and he called it a 'shame'.

''We don't know,'' said the Italian, ''and it's a big worry for us because we love Monza.''

IRL buys air-time from ABC  UPDATE This NASCAR.com story is down graded to 'false.'  According to IRL spokesperson Fred Nation, "the Indy Racing League has a rights paying deal with ABC/ESPN thru 2009.  It is the latest in a succession of rights fees contracts since 1965 with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the second longest relationship in American television sports after CBS and the Masters.  Therefore, the premise of Marty's (the author) story is incorrect."

09/07/06 There is no easy remedy, it seems. Everyone appreciates the side-by-side format used by ABC during Indy Racing League broadcasts, but that's simply not an option in NASCAR. The broadcast rights dynamics are polar opposites:

According to industry television sources, whereas FOX and NBC/TNT must pay NASCAR for the rights to broadcast its races, IndyCar must, in fact, pay ABC.

IRL races are glorified ad-buys, so they can afford to work with preexisting partners to offer the side-by-side coverage.

It's a wonderful concept, but again, not currently applicable to NASCAR.  NASCAR.com

Imola to be reinstated  UPDATE The plans have been in place for some time but the Italian government has now confirmed that it will be providing $13m for work at Autodromo Enzo & Dino Ferrari and that work will begin in October and be completed by March. The work will include the removal of the Variante Bassa chicane (just before the current pits). This will mean that there will be a long straight from the exit of Rivazza to the entrance of Tamburello. There will be a new pit and paddock complex on the first part of this straight, featuring 30 garages and a new race control and media centre. In this area there is more room between the racetrack and the River Santerno than where the current paddock is located and there is also room for a new bridge, which will greatly improve access to the track from the town.

The circuit has a contract to stage a race until 2009 but had to complete the necessary work in order to keep the event.

The Italian government says that the race will take place on April 29.  Grandprix.com

09/01/06 (GMM)  Members of an upcoming meeting are hoping that the presently axed San Marino grand prix at Imola will soon be back on track.
The 'Agenzia Giornalistica Italia' agency reported on Friday that, as a response to the FIA's exclusion of the race on next year's calendar, key figures will discuss how to rescue the relationship with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

Italian government representatives, regional chiefs and mayor Massimo Marchignola are all slated to be at the meeting in Rome next Wednesday, the Imola town council confirmed in a statement.

Turkey could lose F1 race says FIA  (GMM)  A spokesman for F1's governing body has admitted that Turkey could lose all FIA-sanctioned events, including its formula one grand prix at Istanbul, because of a political storm involving the podium ceremony two weeks ago.

''The Turkish motor sport federation also risks being expelled from FIA,'' the spokesman, suggesting that the Paris-based federation run by Max Mosley was furious about having its political neutrality compromised, was quoted as saying by 'Agence France-Presse' at Monza.

Schu may take management role in future  (GMM) Michael Schumacher could move from the cockpit at the end of 2006 to a management role at Ferrari.

With speculation about the seven time world champion's expiring contract at melting-point, an official admitted that Schumacher's rumored 'retirement' announcement at Monza may not be the end to his association with the Maranello based marque.

Director for communication and brand management, Antonio Ghini, is quoted as saying by Sport-Informations-Dienst that 37-year-old Schumacher is invited to remain in the 'Ferrari family' beyond his driving career.

Former triple world champion Niki Lauda, meanwhile, predicted that Schumacher's likely exit might simply be a 'sabbatical'. The Austrian great once retired, returned, and won another world title.

''Maybe that is what he is thinking he might do,'' Lauda told 'Frankfurter Rundschau' publication.

''With his condition and with his experience, he is not too old.

''Personally, I think he should go. I would.''

Distraught fans of the great German have launched a petition website in recent days, aptly named 'www.michael-please-stay-in-f1.com'.

Massa's staying at Ferrari - Mateschitz  (GMM)  Felipe Massa is committed to the Ferrari team for 2007, according to Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz.

While contemplating his own squad's next driver line up, the Austrian billionaire said the 'only alternative' to hiring Mark Webber to drive alongside David Coulthard would have been Massa, the 25-year-old Brazilian racer.

''However,'' Mateschitz told Swiss magazine Motorsport Aktuell, ''it became clear relatively early that he is staying at Ferrari.''

Ferrari set for Raikkonen-Massa lineup  (GMM)  While Michael Schumacher's future is unclear, it is nonetheless becoming increasingly certain that the names Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa will surely feature on any official Ferrari announcement at Monza.

Following his maiden win from pole at Turkey, 25-year-old Massa commented at a PR event in Venice on Wednesday: ''This weekend will be another very important race, especially as a Ferrari driver.

''Life could not be much better than going to Monza for the Italian grand prix.

''Step by step I am growing as a driver.  I can't wait (for Monza).  It's going to be a really exciting weekend.''

Germany's best selling 'Bild' newspaper, meanwhile, wrote in an article to appear on Thursday that Finn Raikkonen actually signed his Ferrari contract more than a year ago.

The report said the 26-year-old put pen to paper on 25 August, 2005.

Red Bull gives Klien final Champ Car ultimatum  (GMM)  Red Bull motor sport 'advisor' Helmut Marko has rejected speculation that Monza may be Christian Klien's final grand prix in formula one.

Press reports claim that if the 23-year-old Austrian turns down the energy drink outfit's offer of a ride in 2007 in Champ Car or the DTM category, Klien may be replaced immediately by third driver Robert Doornbos.

But Marko told 'Salzburger Nachrichten': ''His contract expires five days after the final grand prix of the season.''

He warned Klien that he has until Saturday to either accept or definitively reject the 'PKV' seat in Champ Cars.

And 63-year-old Marko, admitting that Neel Jani would land the drive if Klien does not, revealed: ''(Christian) has already rejected the DTM option.  Champ Cars is open to him until Saturday.''

Industry News
GM to announce major incentives  UPDATE GM's big incentive has been announced - a 100,000 mile 5-year warranty on all powertrain components for 2007 models and beyond.  It includes roadside assistance and transportation.

09/06/06 Rumor has it that General Motors Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner will announce a major consumer initiative at a news conference today at 1 p.m. EDT at the GM Renaissance Center.
Schu to quit - report  UPDATE #10 (GMM)  Following the lead of Germany's 'Bild' newspaper, the Italian sports media is now also reporting that Michael Schumacher has decided to retire from F1.

After it was confirmed that Kimi Raikkonen is definitely not a part of the Renault line-up for 2007, 'La Gazzetta dello Sport' wrote on Wednesday that the task to announce Schumacher's withdrawal after 15 years in the cockpit will fall on Jean Todt at Monza on Sunday.

At the same time, Ferrari is expected to confirm the 2007 lineup of Raikkonen alongside Felipe Massa.

''One cannot comment on everything that is written,'' said Schumacher's spokeswoman, Sabine Kehm.

''You will have to wait until Sunday.''

The 37-year-old German himself was in Venice on Wednesday, attending a PR event alongside Massa.

He continued to stick to a team agreement to keep quiet until Sunday, but was quoted by Gazzetta dello Sport as reflecting on his five titles and eleven seasons for the red team.

''I do not have colleagues (at Ferrari),'' he said, ''instead I have friends.

''After more than ten years I am nearly Italian and the experience has been beautiful.''

09/06/06 According to this German newspaper Bild-Zeitung article, Michael Schumacher will announce on Sunday that he is going to retire at the end of 2006.

''Schumi turns his back on formula one,'' the headline reads, adding that Ferrari's technical director Ross Brawn is also likely to withdraw after the season.

'Bild' reported that Schumacher, the 37-year-old winner of seven world championships, is to announce the news in the post-race press conference, if he finishes in the top three.

Otherwise, a formal announcement to the world's press is scheduled for 6pm at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.

''Before then we are saying nothing,'' Schumacher's manager, Willi Weber, told the 'paper.

08/27/06 (GMM)  Michael Schumacher has rejected Bernie Ecclestone's assumption that he will hang up his racing helmet at the end of 2006.

Ecclestone, the F1 supremo, told 'Premiere' in an interview on Sunday that he believed the Ferrari driver has now 'probably decided' to call it a day after a fifteen year career.

He added that it must have been a very difficult decision, but in Istanbul Schumacher rejected Bernie's theory.

''(Bernie is) most certainly not (right),'' Michael insisted.

'He cannot know (my decision), because even I do not.''

The endless speculation will end at Monza, where Ferrari still plan to announce its full driver line-up for 2007.

08/27/06 In an interview with TV broadcaster 'Premiere', F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said he believes Michael Schumacher has finally decided to retire at the end of the 2006 season.

Ex-triple world champion Niki Lauda, meanwhile, told 'Kleinen Zeitung' that he thinks the chances that Ferrari's 37-year-old will sign a new contract are 'five per cent'.

''I know what I'm talking about,'' the Austrian veteran insisted.

08/10/06 (GMM)  Michael Schumacher's father has chimed in on the 'will-he-won't-he' speculation by predicting that his Ferrari-driving son will not retire at the end of the current season.

60-year-old Rolf Schumacher told the 'Express' publication that Michael, who is due to reveal his future to the world at Monza next month, has genuinely 'not yet' decided whether or not to hang up his racing gloves.

''My feeling is that Michael will go on,'' Schumacher Senior - also Toyota driver Ralf Schumacher's father - said, ''but I cannot speak for him.

'It is his decision alone.''

Rolf's comments tie-in with the most recent whispers from Maranello, which suggest that Michael has indeed indicated that he will race in 2007.

But similarly reliable noises from the Ferrari camp in Italy also indicate that Kimi Raikkonen has now penned a contract to join the red team next year, presumably as a joint 'number one' alongside 37-year-old Schumacher.

''If Michael has stopped having fun, he will stop,'' Rolf Schumacher went on, ''and if he says 'I can still beat the boys', then I see him going on.''

Schumacher's Dad does, however, concede the genuine possibility that his ultra-successful son will no longer feature on the grand prix grids of 2007.

He admitted: ''If Michael says in Monza, 'I am stopping', then I am sure that will disappoint many people.

''But life goes on, and there is still another Schumacher in formula one ...'' More ...

Zonta and Piquet to Renault  UPDATE #2 This rumor is updated to 'fact' with today's announcement - See Hot News page for details.

09/01/06 AutoRacing1.com sources tell us that the deal with Piquet and Renault is done.  We await the announcement.

09/01/06 Brazilian Ricardo Zonta – a former BAR and Jordan race driver - is virtually certain to move from his current role as Toyota tester to replace Heikki Kovalainen as Renault's back-up man.

And another Brazilian, Nelson Piquet Jr, 21 - who can win the GP2 series next week - will become Renault's second test driver, after shunning the chance to join Midland in a race seat.

Team sponsor Telefonica are keen to expand their brand in Brazil and have pushed for the signing of the pair.  Eurosport

2007 Champ Car Silly Season Page  We have begun our 2007 Champ Car Silly Season Page above and will update it until the start of the 2007 season next April.
Martinez eyes Mexico City Champ Car run  UPDATE According to AutoRacing1.com sources in Mexico, with Michel Jourdain's probability of getting a Newman/Haas ride very slim and Mario Dominguez telling everyone he will not drive in Mexico City in a Dale Coyne car, the buzz in Mexico is that David Martinez is working real hard to get enough sponsorship for a ride for the season ending Mexico City race. J. J. Arrambide Gonzalez reporting from Mexico

08/10/06 AutoRacing1.com sources in Mexico tell us that Mexican Champ Car Atlantic driver David Martinez has found enough sponsorship to finish out the year.  Since the season finale Mexico City Champ Car weekend has no Atlantic support race his backers are working on a deal to get David in a Champ Car for the season finale in Mexico City with an eye toward a possible fulltime ride in 2007.
Political war in ALMS could cost series Aston Martin  UPDATE The fact that Aston Martin is being sold could mean there is no money for racing next year, in which case the Aston Martin name could disappear from ALMS unless a privateer picks it up, but why would they do that when they know they could not beat a factory effort like Corvette.

09/05/06 [Editor's Note: The press release below from Corvette expresses their unhappiness with the latest rules changes by IMSA to try and stop the Corvette's domination. Meanwhile, Aston Martin execs were telling people in Mosport this past weekend they will not be back in 2007 because they do not like the way they have been treated in the ALMS. Such is the political BS one must endure when trying to keep manufacturers happy. This is why NASCAR is switching to one body and a spec engine, both with multiple badging. Only the decals are different and then no one can complain the other has an advantage. It's the only fair way to go racing without all the political BS.]

Mother Nature proved to be a fan of sports car racing today as days of rain gave way to a dry track for the Grand Prix of Mosport. But the dark sky overhead reflected the mood in the Corvette Racing pits as performance handicaps and penalties hampered the team's performance in the eighth round of the American Le Mans Series.

Sharp pit strategy and hard driving earned a runner-up finish for Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R, which finished one lap behind the No. 009 Aston Martin DBR9. An early stop-and-go penalty torpedoed the chances of the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R as Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell finished fourth in the GT1 division.

"Corvette Racing's primary objective is to win the manufacturers championship, and Oliver and Olivier did a great job today to protect the lead we have," said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "But we found out today just how far great pit strategy and flawless execution will take you - and that's to second place." More ...

NASCAR may alter past champions provisionals  NASCAR is looking at possibly altering the past champion's provisional for next year. There is no limit in the Nextel Cup Series for a past champion's provisional. In the Busch Series, a past champion can use it only once every eight races. "It maybe won't be the same amount of races, but it would be something similar put in place," NASCAR Vice President of Racing Operations Steve O'Donnell said Sept. 2. He said NASCAR is still going through its rulebook and discussing any revisions for 2007 As far as a rumor that the top 35 locked-in owners might be decreased to top-30, O'Donnell said, "Nothing is finalized for next year. I think it's fair to say I feel pretty confident we'll be at top 35." SceneDaily.com
RCR to expand to 4 cars  UPDATE We are bumping this rumor up to 'strong' today.   Car owner Richard Childress' long-rumored fourth Cup team may be closer to fruition, according to sources. The big question is who the driver might be. As hot as Childress' stuff is right now, potential drivers should be clogging the phone lines to his Welcome shop. Jeff Burton, one of Childress's drivers, was less than enthusiastic last year when a fourth team was proposed, for fear it would take away from the three other teams, which at that time weren't very spiffy. Now, however, Childress' three men - Burton, Kevin Harvick and rookie Clint Bowyer - are all hot, and Bowyer has been a distinct plus for the operation. Winston Salem Journal

08/29/06 Richard Childress is considering a fourth car, probably with Holiday Inn as a sponsor. Ford Racing
Monteiro, Albers to stay at Midland  UPDATE #2 (GMM) The team currently known as 'MF1 Racing' is likely to race into the 2007 season with the same driver lineup, according to Tiago Monteiro.

The 30-year-old racer revealed in a column that, even despite the team's possible change of ownership to a Dutch consortium, Midland is nearing the decision to retain both him and teammate Christijan Albers.

''I have no reason to change teams,'' Portugal's Monteiro told website f1racing.net. ''It's good to go on with the same people.

''In this respect, everything is under control. My management is finalizing the contracts. I think my team mate ... will stay too, which would be good.''

Should Monteiro be retained, and the team is sold for an estimated $100m, his three-season tenure will have spanned the Silverstone-based squad's three identities; as Jordan (2005), MF1 (2006), and the new name selected by the 'Lost Boys-Spyker' consortium for 2007.

Monteiro continued: ''Both (current owner) Alex Shnaider and the possible new owners want the same kind of team.

''My management (has) had discussions with both of them. With my engineers, I'm looking at next year's car. It looks good.''

09/01/06 Midland's Tiago Monteiro told F1Racing.net that he is on the verge of signing a contract to stay at the team for another season and is pleased with how things have gone since Midland took over the name of Jordan this season.

"Everything is under control," said the Portuguese driver.

"My management is finalizing the contracts. It's most definite that I will drive here."

"There is no reason to change teams for me. It's good to go on with the same people. I think my team mate Christijan Albers will stay too, which would be good. We know each other and are pushing each other all year and will do the same in 2007. That's what the team wants."

08/23/06 (GMM)  Tiago Monteiro says he is not sure if he will still be a Midland driver beyond the end of this year.

The 30-year-old, whose Dutch teammate Christijan Albers is almost certain to remain at the Silverstone based team, told 'Formule 1 Race Report' that he is in talks.

Asked directly if he would be racing an MF1 in 2007, however, Portugal's Monteiro replied: ''It is difficult to say, but we are in conversation with each other.

''Your fortunes in this sport can differ almost daily.''

Monteiro, backed by state controlled Portuguese oil company Galp, signed a one year contract at the end of last season to stay at the former Jordan squad in 2006.

It's thought that if he is forced out of F1 that he will most likely look to return to Champ Car where he started with Emerson Fittipaldi's team before switching to F1. In Champ Car he was racing with a Reynard against the superior Lola chassis, but still put in some stirring drives.  With the new Panoz DP01 car due out next year Monteiro would be able to return to the series on equal ground with a real chance to win, much unlike F1 where only 6 to 8 cars have any chance of ever winning.

All-American Allmendinger --A future in NASCAR?  UPDATE #3 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Regarding the article "All-American Allmendinger -- A future in NASCAR?". Do you think this may have all been set up by Red Bull & Toyota? Think that RB may not see a merger any time soon in OW so now they might as well push the only American star to their Red Bull/Toyota NASCAR team in 2008.  David Christiansen, Walnut Creek, CA

Dear David, It could be quite possible that Red Bull and Toyota are behind a concerted effort to try and steal Allmendinger from Champ Car.  However, AJ told us he loves open wheel and he loves Champ Car and as long as he can earn a decent living there he has no desire to leave.  We suspect this was set up by AJ's new management to give team boss Gerald Forsythe something to worry about come contract renegotiation time at the end of this season.  To tell you the truth, AJ has earned a bigger salary for 2007 and we suspect he will get it with Forsythe.  Mark C.

09/04/06 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  The only American in the Champ Car series, tested with Mike Skinner in a truck for Bill Davis Racing last week at Richmond International Raceway. Bill Davis described Allmendinger, 24, as "smart and smooth." Davis says Allmendinger will race for BDR before the end of the season, possibly as early as September 16 at New Hampshire.  Sporting News

09/01/06 Jayski reports hearing that Champ Car driver A.J. Allmendinger tested a Toyota Truck this week at Richmond International Speedway, while confirmed a Toyota Truck was testing this week, no team was mentioned but he hears it was for Bill Davis Racing which could field Allmendinger in a Truck Series race sometime this season.  Another example of the oval track cartel trying to pluck Champ Car's biggest names from the series.  Recall that almost all of CART's top teams, sponsors and drivers were lured away to the IRL and NASCAR before it went bankrupt.  Until drivers can make a good living again in Champ Car, this will always be the risk the series has to deal with.

08/27/06 Champ Car star AJ Allmendinger hasn't turned his back on one day racing in NASCAR.

"There's a lot of appeal there," he said.

But he's not in any great hurry to make the switch.

He likes that he can still walk down the street unnoticed, but he'd certainly give that up for a chance to race for a well-financed and well-run NASCAR team.

And for the right reasons.

"Money is nice, don't get me wrong," Allmendinger said. "It lets us have bigger houses and not worry about paying our bills. But for me it's more important to win. To have the right situation to win, like I have right now with Forsythe Racing."

No one knows better about being in a competitive ride in NASCAR than his mentor Tracy, who has driven five Busch races this year with a fairly uncompetitive team.

"He is a very, very good driver, " said Tracy, who admits that Allmendinger has taken more than just a casual look toward NASCAR recently.

Tracy would like to see him stay in Champ Car for a few more years, but he knows that the appeal of NASCAR is very strong for Allmendinger and the financial rewards are extremely lucrative.

"If he gets the right opportunity, it will be extremely hard to pass up," Tracy said. "He's got a long career ahead of him. The sky is the limit for him."

For now, Allmendinger is quite comfortable being the only American-born driver in the Indianapolis-based Champ Car World Series – though Graham Rahal, the 18-year-old son of racing legend Bobby Rahal, is poised to enter Champ Car, quite possibly as soon as next year.

But for now, Allmendinger is the main attraction for American race fans that want to support one of their own.

"I take a lot of pride in that," Allmendinger said. More at Yahoo! Sports

track news
Owner may flatten Bristol banking  UPDATE Rumor has it that contrary to what most people think, Bristol Motor Speedway is already "flattened." The track is not an actual 36 degrees. It is 28 degrees and has been for some time now. The tight corners of the 1/2-mile track make the banks look steeper than they really are. If Bristol was actually banked at 36 degrees it would be the highest banked track on the NASCAR circuit. Even at 28 degrees it is quite steep. But this is a little known secret that Bruton Smith and Jeff Byrd haven't let out of the bag.

09/04/06 Bristol's repaving job, set before next March's 500, is still "a work in progress," according to track promoter Jeff Byrd, who is studying various concrete construction techniques. In order to redo the track with variable banking, to create two grooves on what has been a one-groove track, Byrd is considering cutting the legendary banking down from an official 36 degrees to something lesser. Winston Salem Journal
Jourdain to drive in Mexico City  UPDATE #5 Here is the latest AutoRacing1.com editorial which outlines NASCAR's invasion of Mexico and its ability to strip the Champ Car paddock dry of all Mexican sponsors.

09/04/06 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Michel Jourdain Jr. said in the Mexican media today that he will definitively not drive in the last race of the year for Champ Car in Mexico City. He said that he had not heard from Newman/Haas in four weeks and that if Newman/Hass tried to contact him for a deal it would be too late to put together a competitive deal for the race. He said he will not drive an uncompetitive car for another team.

Even though Sebastien Bourdais now has an almost certain lock on the 2006 title, the fact that they never got back to Jourdain indicates Champ Car nor the team have no intention of running him. Add to that the fact that Mario Dominguez refuses to race in Mexico City in an uncompetitive car and Champ Car has the makings of a disaster on their hands. With no Mexican drivers in the field, the spectator turnout for Mexico City will be atrocious.....on the heels of last year's plummeting attendance.

After much promise the first two years, Champ Car can kiss the Mexican market goodbye.  Since there are no Mexican sponsors in Champ Car now, it appears Champ Car has decided the Mexican market isn't worth the trouble.  It will become a 'NASCAR-only' country.  The rumor is that the Busch Series will add Monterrey to next year's schedule, to go with Mexico City.  AutoRacing1.com has also been told by its Mexican sources that the France family is pumping significant amounts of money into the grassroots stock car series in Mexico and the Mexican race authorities now favor NASCAR, and that Carlos Slim Jr. is a big NASCAR fan now. 

08/12/06 A Newman/Haas team spokesperson told AutoRacing1.com, "We believe Michel [Jourdain] is a good driver.  Yes, he has spoken with NHR about running in Mexico City but a decision has yet to be made.  Our foremost focus is on winning the championship and we would need to have wrapped up the title before running a third entry properly for Michel.  As it's looking likely to be a hard battle until the season-finale, it might preclude us from doing this."

08/09/06 Radio station Imagen (this radio station broadcasts in more than 50 cities in Mexico) had a live interview with Michel Jourdain today. When asked about the rumor of driving a Champ Car for the last race of the season Jourdain said that he is still in negotiations, that he is indeed talking only with Newman/Haas Racing and if a deal that guarantees him a competitive car is presented to him he will sign it, but if he can't get the guarantee of a competitive car he will have to settle for a seat in the grandstands with his friends. J. J. Arrambide Gonzalez reporting from Mexico

08/08/06 This Mexican report also says Jourdain could drive for Newman/Haas in Mexico City.

08/08/06 Is this time for real? TV Azteca reported Monday night that Michel Jourdain Jr. will be driving a Champ Car in the last race of the season at Mexico City. According to TV Azteca Jourdain will sign a deal with Newman/Hass Racing. This is not the first time this rumor has surfaced, and although they are reporting it as a done deal we will have to wait to see if this is true. Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico
Dodge to race Challenger in 2007?  UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.  The new Dodge nose recently approved by NASCAR for 2007 will be based on the current production model Charger and not the new Challenger being introduced in 2008, according to NASCAR officials. Dodge team owners sought the change for the nose after they felt that was the area of the Charger that was causing the models to be less competitive than Chevrolet or Ford. Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

09/03/06 The Dodge Charger has been a disappointment on the track, although that is probably more a reflection of problems within the various Dodge teams and the company's racing hierarchy than any significant technical issues. Several teams balked at running the Charger earlier this year, preferring to run the older Intrepid, even though Dodge wasn't selling that brand any more. Now it appears likely that in 2007 Dodge's NASCAR teams could be marketed under the Challenger logo, rather than the Charger brand. NASCAR has approved a new Dodge nose for next season. But the Challenger isn't expected in dealer showrooms until 2008, so Dodge would have to speed up its introduction. Winston Salem Journal
Briatore, Schu, ready to reveal all  (GMM) Within the next seven days, Renault team principal Flavio Briatore will finally clarify his future.

Conflicting reports have been recently circulating about the 57-year-old Italian's intentions for 2007 and beyond, but La Gazzetta dello Sport now insists that a definitive answer is just one week away.

''For F1 you need to be incredibly motivated,'' he is quoted as saying, ''and I am no different.''

Briatore, however, totally ruled out rumors that he is considering a switch to soccer.

''Briatore and football?'' he rhetorically quizzed. ''Not likely!''

F1 fans and pundits, meanwhile, are now eagerly anticipating the checkered flag at Monza, when Michael Schumacher is due to reveal his own plans for 2007.

Briatore predicts 'the pension' for the Ferrari veteran, who in the mid-90s was guided by the flamboyant Italian to his first titles in a Benetton car.

''He is not the same as he was four or five seasons ago,'' Flavio said, ''so for me it would be better if he stopped. That is what he will probably do at Monza.''

Briatore, however, doubts that Schumacher and Ferrari will terminate their relationship before the last race of the season, so he observed that it is going to be 'hard' for Renault and Fernando Alonso to win the world championship.

He continued: ''Schumacher did not used to make these errors, and after many years of F1 he knows that his new, young and terrifying rivals push hard, they are hungry and have nothing to lose.''

Toyota to race Camry and Avalon  There are reports that Toyota might like to promote not only its Camry but also its Avalon through NASCAR racing.   Winston Salem Journal
Industry News
Aston Martin exec plans bid for company  The chief executive of Aston Martin, Ulrich Bez, is understood to be planning a management buyout of the British sports-car marque.

Aston Martin was put on the market last week by Ford, the American automotive giant. Senior sources at Ford said a consortium led by Bez was likely to bid, and they also expected an offer from a US private-equity group fronted by Jac Nasser, a former Ford chief executive.
Analysts also believe a wild-card bid, perhaps from a Russian oligarch eager to capture a trophy asset, cannot be ruled out. Ford has hired UBS, the investment bank, to conduct the sale.

Bez yesterday refused to confirm his interest in fronting a bid. “I am not going to comment at the moment on what are the strategic options,” he said.  More at London Times

Ferrari quiet on ’three drivers’ rumor  (GMM) A Ferrari spokesman has refused to comment on speculation that the Italian team will announce three race drivers at Monza next Sunday.

While much of the racing world is eagerly awaiting definite news about Michael Schumacher's future, it has been rumored that the German, plus Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa, are all set to be confirmed as under contract to Ferrari in 2007.

It will supposedly give Schumacher, 37, more time to decide whether or not to retire at the end of his expiring contract.

However, the head of Ferrari's press office, Luca Colajanni, said: ''We will make an announcement just after the race.

''We are not able to give you more details before that date.''

Bernie aiming to cut legs out from under A1GP  Hot on the heels of the A1 Grand Prix Series announcing that they will build a bigger, more powerful car for 2008/2009 to compete at the same level as Champ Car and F1 comes word that Bernie Ecclestone is planning on a winter GP2 series to go head-to-head with A1GP, also a winter series.  Bernie is a part owner of GP2 and many of the GP2 teams field A1GP teams in the winter months, so the rumor of a winter GP2 series is viewed as Bernie taking direct aim at A1GP with the goal of eventually putting it out of business.  Bernie does not view any "World Series" that aims to compete with F1 kindly.
Merger off for time being  UPDATE #7 AutoWeek reports on the Kalkhoven/George meeting at Sonoma last weekend - "I live here," Kalkhoven said of the San Francisco area.  "It was purely social."  But what George said about the meeting might be more telling: "We talk almost daily." 

Did Champ Car consider the IRL's needs when designing the new DP01?  "We would have been crazy not to," one source close to the development told AutoWeek.  The larger normally aspirated Honda engine will fit into the DP01 with some rear bodywork modifications and a speedway package has been conceived for the ovals if necessary. However, Honda should be asked to bring out their 2.65L turbo engine if there is a unification.

08/07/06 The 2007 Grand Prix of Denver and beyond could be sanctioned by an organization with one of the following names:

IndyCar World Series.

Indy Champ League.

Champ Car Indy Racing League.

In the name of a long-awaited merger between the Champ Car World Series and the Indy Racing League, they all sound good. And this time, it doesn't sound like just a dream.

Before the Indianapolis 500 in May, merger negotiations between Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven and IRL president Tony George nearly led to a settlement. Both parties say more meetings are on tap.

"The merger talks progressed a long way," said Kalkhoven, whose series competes this weekend in the fifth Grand Prix of Denver. "We never had final resolution on key issues, but the major thing that happened (negatively) was that everything became public and outside interests got involved, and then it was no longer Tony and I talking."

IRL vice president Fred Nation said George is not commenting on merger talks, but added the IRL founder is encouraged.

"They have had some conversations, and they will be having more conversations - ongoing dialogue, if you will," Nation said. "It's important that both parties keep talking. The issue is when something can be concluded. 2007 is closing in on us fast, with new schedules and new chassis and things.

"But both Kevin and Tony have publicly indicated that they want to keep talking and put a good deal together. And a good deal is more important than just a deal."

In addition to interference from outside interests, Kalkhoven said his meetings with George ceased once the circuits' seasons heated up.

"At this moment it's very difficult to do anything because both series are actually engaged in racing," he said. "As the season tails off a bit, we'll get back together." More at Denver Post

07/17/06 Honda's top U.S. motor sports official warned over the weekend that time and patience are running out to reconcile open-wheel racing in this country.
Robert Clarke, president of Honda Performance Development, offered that assessment after hearing nothing from Indy Racing League founder Tony George that tells him a merger with the Champ Car World Series is in the works.

Clarke and George met at Clarke's request prior to Saturday night's Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway.

"Time is our enemy in this process," Clarke said minutes after the meeting ended.

Clarke said his enthusiasm for a merger has waned since he completed a sequence of meetings with all IRL and Champ Car teams during races in Richmond, Va.; Portland, Ore.; and Kansas City, Kan. Clarke said each team owner offered support for a single open-wheel entity, something Honda has been pushing since before it joined the IRL in 2003.

"The fact is, the two are still talking, still communicating. But nothing's happened, and it's been the same (for a while)."

Bobby Rahal, who fields a three-car IRL team, once was CART's interim leader. He isn't surprised by the lack of recent developments.

"I have to say, having been down (the unification) road numerous times, I wasn't all that hopeful to begin with," he said. "I had dreams (that it would happen), but not much hope."

Clarke said Honda is committed to supplying IRL engines and marketing support through the end of the 2008 season -- through 2009 if league officials can add at least one more engine manufacturer. But he acknowledged such an arrangement is a blessing and a curse to the unification talks.

That's because George has the security of knowing he has Honda on board, and Honda can't threaten to leave if unification talks stall. Clarke said all he can do is offer support to the process.

"As much energy as we've put in to understanding the needs of both sides and trying to push this thing, that decision has to be made by Kevin and Tony, and they have to do it at their own pace," Clarke said. "Neither of them embraces (the need for unification) at the level we do, I can tell you that."  More at Indy Star

07/08/06 This Toronto Star article offers a good overview of the obstacles that lie ahead for a potential merger.

07/08/06 Paul Tracy would like to see Champ Car and IRL merge into one open-wheel racing circuit, but isn't optimistic it will happen soon.

The veteran driver heaved a sigh when asked about a recent report in the Indianapolis Star that IRL owner Tony George and Champ Car's counterpart Kevin Kalkhoven had reached an ownership sharing agreement.

"Obviously it was a big hoax at the last race about a merger, that it all was signed, sealed and delivered, but it was all a hoax," Tracy said.

"There's a lot of things happening in the media that get blown out of proportion. It's going to take time. I don't see it happening for next year."

07/07/06 Another reader writes, Well Tony George got his month of May publicity again- NO surprises here. It's time that Champ Car began to market the series and make it the product that we fans know it is and has always been. Brian Kellione, Colorado Springs, CO

07/07/06 A reader writes, It should be no surprise as to the outcome of this attempt to reconcile US open wheel racing.  Take the racing out and you are left with the "human" aspects of the problem which include egos and a child's sandbox.  The IRL is a bunch of egos with a lot to lose in a merger where it is easy to sabotage and blame it on others.  Whereas Kevin, Gerry and Paul have used a good business foundation to grow a series.  Egos cannot handle real world capabilities.  Egos are easily manipulated and TG's is like a palm leaf in a light breeze.  The loudest calls for a merger come from IRL teams that were once CART.  CCWS teams are moving forward to build their teams and series for 2007 with a great deal of sunshine.  Any further delays  from the IRL camp of egos only continues their misery.  Unfortunately 3/4's of the decision makers cannot overcome the ego of the last 1/4th and thus the problem continues and it looks to go through 07 as well.  Greg W, Renton, WA

07/07/06 Sources tell AutoRacing1.com that merger talks between Champ Car and the IRL are not going anywhere and not to expect a merger anytime soon, if not for years. The source tells us that Tony George is being pressured by too many factions trying to influence the deal and it's causing problems, rumors and a general level of uneasiness. We hear Kalkhoven is ready to throw his hands up in disgust and frustration.
Podium storm could cost Turkey its F1 race  UPDATE #2 The Turkiye Otomobil Sporlari Federasyonu (TOSFED), the national sporting authority of Turkey, says that it did not break any FIA rules at the weekend when Mehmet Ali Talat was allowed to present the winning trophy to Felipe Massa, arguing that he fulfils the criteria in the FIA regulations. The criteria, as detailed in Appendix 3 of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations, are that the "the winning driver's award will be presented by the head of state or the prime minister of the host country or the FIA President. If such a person is not available, a comparable person within the host country, or a dignitary of international status should be invited. Should neither of these be available, the President of the ASN will be invited to present the winner's trophy".

The Turks are arguing that Talat qualifies for the job because he is "a dignitary of international status."

08/31/06 (GMM) The political storm surrounding a controversial podium ceremony at last Sunday's Turkish grand prix took a turn for the worse on Thursday, with the FIA summoning race officials to a special meeting of the World Motor Sport Council.

The hearing is to take place in Paris on September 19, a statement issued by the governing body said.

Turkey's national sporting authority, TOSFED, and organizers of the grand prix itself, are to 'hear charges that they have acted in breach of ... FIA Statutes, the International Sporting Code and the 2006 Formula One Sporting Regulations', the FIA added.

The ultimate sanction would be exclusion from not only the 2007 grand prix calendar, but also from the FIA umbrella, meaning that the country's World Rally event is also in danger.

08/30/06 (GMM) A political storm involving the formula one podium and Cyprus could cost Turkey its grand prix.

It was reported on Tuesday that the FIA has launched an investigation into how and why the controversial and disputed leader of northern Cyprus came to present Felipe Massa with his trophy last Sunday.

The Istanbul event was listed on the governing body's provisional calendar for 2007 on Tuesday, but it is now widely reported that the incident - sparking official complaints from the Cyprus and Greek governments - could result in the World Motor Sport Council stripping Turkey not only of formula one, but also its FIA World Rally event.

''No compromise or violation of this (political) neutrality is acceptable,'' said the FIA's strongly-worded statement.

FIA spokesman Richard Woods added: ''We are taking it very seriously.''

Istanbul chamber of commerce leader Murat Yalcintas only worsened the matter by admitting that the choice of podium presenter on Sunday had been politically deliberate.

''The formula one race was a great opportunity,'' he told the Anatolia news agency, adding that organizers delayed giving the FIA details so as not to raise suspicion of the political motivation.

He added: ''Cyprus is our national cause.''

The spokesman for the Paris-based FIA refused to make further comment, but in 1997 the Jerez circuit was forever banned from staging another grand prix after a far less serious podium incident.

Uninvited, local mayor Pedro Pacheco gate-crashed the ceremony, with the result that FIA president Max Mosley told him personally that F1 would never return to race at the circuit in south-western Spain.

In 2002, Ferrari was fined $1m after Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello stood on the wrong podium steps at the A1-Ring in Austria.

Bourdais to F1 in 2007  UPDATE #2 We are reopening this rumor back up to 'speculation' today.  BMW Sauber are also looking for a new full-time tester after Poland's Robert Kubica was promoted to a race seat two races ago and looks set to keep the role next year.

German teenager Sebastian Vettel, 19, will keep the test seat for the rest of the season after setting the pace in Turkish free practice, but looks likely to battle with double ChampCar champion Sebastien Bourdais for the role next year.  Eurosport

The word AutoRacing1.com is getting, however, is that Bourdais won't agree to be a test driver for a year without some guarantee of a regular drive in 2008.

07/28/06 We are downgrading this rumor to 'false' today as our sources tell us there was no truth to this Mexican website story linked below.

07/26/06 If this Mexican website is correct, Sebastien Bourdais will replace Jacques Villeneuve in the BMW Sauber F1 team in 2007.

If true, it's too bad that Villeneuve would not take his seat at Newman/Haas.  Champ Car races in Canada, not France, so having Villeneuve in the Champ Car Series would be a big boost.  However, Jacques has said he has no interest in anything other than F1.

Montagny to replace Zonta at Toyota  Renault bound Ricardo Zonta's Toyota test role looks set to go to Frenchman Franck Montagny, the current third driver at Super Aguri – who started seven races for the team this season.  Montagny, 29, comes highly rated after two years as Renault's test and reserve driver.  Eurosport
Kovalainen to replace Alonso  Heikki Kovalainen will be confirmed as Renault's second race driver for 2007 within the next two weeks, according to sources close to the Finn.

Kovalainen, 24, who is currently Renault's test driver, will be promoted to a race seat to replace McLaren-bound world champion Fernando Alonso in the team next year alongside Italian Giancarlo Fisichella.

Although the French squad would not confirm the deal, Kovalainen is guaranteed a race drive next year under a clause in his management contract with Renault team boss Flavio Briatore.

A source close to Kovalainen said: “It looks very, very good for Heikki. Renault think very highly of him and don't see him as a risk at all.”  Eurosport

F1 dead in Canada?  It is significant that since Villeneuve left F1 most of the Canadian journalists have stopped coming to F1 races and Canadian publications have stopped taking F1 stories. Grandprix.com

[Editor's Note: With no Canadian driver to cheer for, Canadian interest in F1 will drop significantly. Normand Legault will have a hard time selling out the Canadian GP in 2007 and beyond. However, he will have his NASCAR race to fill his coffers.]

San Antonio could make sense for Champ Car  UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.  The San Antonio Grand Prix is officially off for 2007, but 2008 is still a possibility for Champ Car or the IRL.  Word is the politicians may have gotten fed up and confused with the two sides, IRL and Champ Car, trying to beat each other into the city.  Like sponsors, they decided to walk away from open wheel racing until they get their act together.

08/02/06 There has been much speculation as to why Champ Car would be interested in a race in San Antonio, Texas when in fact they already have a race in nearby Houston, Texas. Well, if rumors are to be believed that Champ Car will drop the Monterrey, Mexico race from the calendar in 2007, therein lies a possible answer. Certainly this year's Monterrey race saw a lot of empty seats, but some blame that on the promoters who did a lousy job. The fans that did attend the race are in fact die-hard open wheel fans from Monterrey and other northeast cities in Mexico. San Antonio is the number two destination in the US for Monterrey, Mexico tourists (and many other cities in northeast Mexico like Saltillo, Monclova, Reynosa, etc, etc, etc). The number one destination is South Padre Island. Without a Monterrey date you definitely will have Mexican fans attending the San Antonio race. They already travel to San Antonio a few times every year, and the River Walk is famous for its fabulous nightlife. Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico
Klien rejects Champ Car, Jani in picture  UPDATE #2 Christian Klien says that he would consider the two worse teams in F1 before going to Champ Car or DTM because once he leaves F1 he may never return.

"A reporter asked me if I had contact with Midland and I said that I didn't. The only seats available for next year are at Midland and Super Aguri. I would not say 'no' right away to these teams. If you leave Formula 1, it's likely you won't return. There are also possibilities in the Champ Car and the DTM, but I want to remain in Formula 1."

Meanwhile, today's Autosport magazine is reporting that Red Bull's motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has reached an agreement with Kevin Kalkhoven to run a fully Red Bull-branded PKV car next year. Christian Klien has been offered the drive and has until the weekend of the Italian GP (September 10) to make up his mind. If he turns it down, Neel Jani gets the drive.

The article goes on to say, "A PKV source told Autosport a Red Bull-sponsored third car was likely since the team is keen to retain its current lead driver Oriol Servia and is committed to Katherine Legge."

With that said, we see nothing that this non-American F1 reject (Klien) brings to Champ Car, nothing except his Red Bull money.  He does nothing for the series, especially after badmouthing it as a 'B' or 'C' choice. Ditto for Jani.  Champ Car needs drivers with character that the fans can warm to, drivers it can build its future on and foreign drivers who have a very small fan base both in the USA and abroad do nothing for the series except buy a ride.  Of course both Jani and Klien are very good drivers, but Red Bull would be far better off backing another American driver in Champ Car, or back a big-name driver from another series, not two little-known F1 rejects.

08/29/06 (GMM)  Christian Klien has turned down Red Bull's offer of a funded seat in the American Champ Car category for season 2007.

The Austrian will be replaced at the formula one team by incoming Mark Webber at the end of this year, but the energy drink-owned squad's motor sport 'advisor', Helmut Marko, arranged a Champ Car spot for Klien.

Marko did, however, impose a deadline of September 10 for the 23-year-old to accept it.

''So far he has rejected the Champ Car offer,'' Dr Marko was quoted as saying by Die Presse.

He explained: ''(Christian) said he does not want to live in Indianapolis.  But he has to be there, because the (Champ Car) is developed there.''

It is understood that if Klien issues a definitive 'no' to the offer at Monza, then the Champ Car ride could be given to Toro Rosso's tester Neel Jani.

Further speculation insists that Klien, now desperate to remain in the F1 circle, is pushing to be retained by Red Bull as a test driver.

His father, Johannes Klien, told motorline.cc: ''Naturally we are having conversations with Red Bull at the moment.

''I don't want to go into the details.''

[Editor's Note: The fact that Klien would have to live in Indianapolis if he drives in Champ Car gives us some indication that the Red Bull sponsorship would not be at RuSPORT as they are based in Loveland, Colorado.  However, it could be with Forsythe Racing.  However, Forsythe does not mandate what city a driver lives in.]

08/25/06 Christian Klien reportedly has until the Italian grand prix at Monza in a fortnight to accept the offer of a Red Bull-funded seat for 2007 in America's open-wheeler Champ Car series.

The energy drink-owned team's 'advisor', Helmut Marko, told sport1.at after a business trip to Denver: ''Christian must decide quickly, since we would have to organize for example sponsors and test days.''

Klien told autosport.com, "They have offered me a seat in Champ Car or DTM, that is a possibility, but I also want to check all the options in Formula One. For sure it is a bit late now and difficult to get a seat, but the main focus is to get the last five races and to do really well and get some results together. In F1 anything is possible, things change very quickly and it could open a possibility. But the main focus is F1."

Autosport.com understands that if Klien decides not to take up the offer of a drive in Champ Car then the seat will be given to Scuderia Toro Rosso third driver Neel Jani.

Villeneuve close to NASCAR deal - report  UPDATE #4 (GMM) Jacques Villeneuve is edging closer to a deal with a NASCAR team, according to an Italian sports newspaper.

'La Gazzetta dello Sport' is reporting this week that the French Canadian, whose BMW tenure and formula one career abruptly ended after the German GP last month, is now in talks with a team in the highly-popular American stock car series.

If confirmed for 2007, the news would make 35-year-old Villeneuve - world champion of 1997 - the second former formula one winner to switch to NASCAR this year, after Juan Pablo Montoya announced his shock move in early July.

In Los Angeles' 'LA Times' newspaper, meanwhile, the president of a leading sports marketing firm, Ardy Arani, outlined the value that a couple of well-known grand prix stars would bring to the US-based category.

He also called Villeneuve's recent comments, in which he favorably compared NASCAR with formula one's prestige, as a 'watershed event'.

Arani continued: ''NASCAR, at least in terms of the dialogue among racers, is now seen as having parity with one of the major racing series in the world.''

08/08/06 Patrick Carpentier has been quoted in the Canadian press that Jacques Villeneuve would not be the right fit for NASCAR and he doubts it will ever happen.  Of course Carpentier is trying to land a NASCAR ride and if Villeneuve's name gets thrown in the pot he might have the ride instead of Patrick.

08/06/06 (GMM)  NASCAR teams have reportedly scoffed at claims in the press that departed BMW-Sauber Jacques Villeneuve could be headed for the series in 2007.

Canadian newspaper 'Toronto Sun' conducted an informal poll of teams at Indianapolis' 'Brickyard 400' and found that none of them have staged talks with the world champion of 1997.

''We would be looking for someone to step in right away at this level,'' said one NASCAR owner, who ruled himself out of following the example of Chip Ganassi by signing a grand prix star such as Juan Pablo Montoya.

A report in the 'Journal de Montreal' this weekend claimed that Villeneuve, replaced this weekend at Budapest by test driver Robert Kubica, had already signed a 'pre-contract' for a NASCAR team for next season.

08/04/06 Jacques Villeneuve did not sign anything in NASCAR. The person in charge for the public relations of the Canadian driver contradicted Friday the news of the Journal de Montreal. Yan Lefort clearly explained the steps of Villeneuve to find a ride in 2007. “Jacques asked his management team to gather information and to do research concerning all the options which could be offered to him for the future. Mr. Lefort says that the options being absolute #1 priority BMW and F1; option 2 elsewhere, and elsewhere is NASCAR. Therefore, there are contacts in F1 and in NASCAR, but there is no preliminary agreement as it is mentioned in the Journal de Montreal this morning.”

08/04/06 According to today's Journal de Montreal, Jacques Villeneuve has a "conditional" NASCAR contract and is now looking for a permanent house in Montreal for his family.
Webber ignites Briatore speculation  UPDATE #2 (GMM)  The world's press and reigning world champion team Renault have rejected reports that Flavio Briatore is set to retire at the end of 2006.

German tabloid 'Bild' and British celebrity magazine 'Hello!' claimed this week that the 57-year-old Italian, whose team principal's contract with the French squad is due to expire, will not return to the formula one paddocks next year.

But, in response to the reports, prominent publications - including La Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy, broadsheet 'The Guardian' in Britain, Spanish sports newspaper AS and German broadcaster RTL - cited the information of official Renault team sources in denying the news.

''Renault rejected the media reports about Flavio Briatore's resignation,'' read a similar editorial in German magazine 'Sport Bild', explaining that Briatore had been misquoted.

Furthermore, it is understood that 'Hello!' magazine will publish a retraction and apology in its next issue.

Another specialist German publication, meanwhile - 'Auto, Motor Und Sport' - reported on Wednesday that Briatore is not only staying at Renault, but has now signed a new two-year deal.

France's national sports newspaper 'L'Equipe' also spoke of a new Renault agreement for Briatore to the end of 2008, and even referred to an annual salary of about $3.8m.

08/30/06 (GMM)  Depending on what you read, Renault principal Flavio Briatore is either on the verge of signing a new contract, or retiring from the sport.

The 56-year-old Italian, whose current agreement runs out at the end of the year, 'has said he will stay on ... next year', British broadsheet 'The Guardian' wrote on Wednesday.

But popular German tabloid Bild-Zeitung - running the headline 'Briatore retiring!' - insists that the complete opposite is true.

The newspaper wrote: 'The world champion-maker of Schumi and Alonso is going to walk away after this season'.

Briatore was quoted as saying: ''I am not coming back to the formula one races next year.

''I have the feeling that all my goals have been achieved.''

'Bild' speculates that Pat Symonds will take over at the helm of the Renault team in 2007.

08/08/06 (GMM) Mark Webber threatened to re-ignite speculation about his manager Flavio Briatore on Tuesday, as he staged a conference call for reporters.

The Australian driver, who is moving from Williams to Red Bull in 2007, was asked about earlier rumors that were linking him with the vacant Renault seat alongside Giancarlo Fisichella next year.

It is now expected that Heikki Kovalainen will grab departing Fernando Alonso's drive, and 29-year-old Webber said: ''I've got a good idea what is going on (with Renault), but maybe you should be asking Flavio what he's doing next season.''

Briatore, also the Renault team principal, has not yet announced whether or not he will still be leading the Enstone-based outfit beyond this year, despite speculation of a likely new one-year deal.

Webber, meanwhile, told Australian television 'Network Ten' last Sunday that he would not be following in Jacques Villeneuve's footsteps by jumping ship before the 2006 season-finale in Sao Paulo.

''I'll keep showing up for Mark Webber,'' confirmed Mark, who joined Williams last season.

Toccacelo to Champ Car  UPDATE Today's Autosport magazine reports that Enrico Toccacelo is planning to run the full Champ Car season next year and AutoRacing1.com sources tell us he also has the money to do the final three races this year, which he confirms to Autosport. However, he thinks this year's money might be better spent on Winter testing. He was going to replace Andrew Ranger but now Ranger has a sponsor (Wal-Mart) for the rest of the year.

"I've got the budget to do the final three races so I'm looking at that, maybe with Conquest. But I could use the money to do some winter testing with the new car. I think it will be much more level between the teams next year and a good test driver will be able to make the difference."

08/06/06 Fears that Canadian Andrew Ranger will not race the whole Champ Car season because of financial woes appears to be coming true. Ranger's No. 27 Mi-Jack/Conquest Lola was being driven by Italian Enrico Toccacelo at the team's test at Road America. Toccacelo previously raced in the F3000 and A1GP series and as a test driver for the Minardi F-1 team. Toronto Sun

Champ Car in 5-year deal for Holland  UPDATE #3 We hear that the Assen race may be moved from the September 16th date because nearby that weekend is the F1 race at Spa, Belgium.  That would hurt attendance at Assen and piss off Bernie Ecclestone who would see Champ Car in direct competition with him.  So instead of Assen September 16th followed by Athens on September 23rd, there is a good chance the two would be switched because Athens is a far distance from Spa and the two events (Spa and Athens) would not impact each other whatsoever.

08/27/06 AutoRacing1.com has learned that a legally binding Memorandum of Understanding has now been signed by both parties and they have one month to iron out the contract details for a race in Assen.  Until that happens you won't see an announcement by Champ Car for this event, nor the 2nd event in Europe (rumored to be Athens) until the ink is dried on a final contract.  Mark C.

08/26/06 Champ Car told AutoRacing1.com that they are in advanced negotiations but that a final contract is not yet signed for Assen, contrary to what the Dutch media is reporting.

08/26/06 AMSTERDAM - The Champ Car World Series, the American counterpart of F1, have signed a 5-year deal starting in 2007 to race at the TT-Circuit of Assen, in Holland according to the largest newspaper in the Netherlands, De Telegraaf. The first race will be on September 16th of next year. The Champ Cars will also race in either Athens, Greece, Germany or at Estoril in Portugal. "Champ Car has guaranteed that a minimum of 22 cars will start the race," according to Bart Rietbergen the race promoter and owner of Champ Car Europe B.V. He came to an agreement with Champ Car Series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven yesterday.

Jaap Timmer, the circuit director said, "We have already motor sport events on our circuit but not of this caliber. During the conversations with the Bart Rietbergen we became more and more interested in Champ Car and we finally decided to hold a race on the third weekend of September with them. There is still a number of details clear that we must finalize.

This season there are two Dutch drivers in the Champ Car - Charles Zwolsman and Nicky Pastorelli. Pastorelli will carry Assen 2007 on his car in the near future for advanced publicity. "We will do a demo of a Champ Car during the MotoGP race at the end of June next year."

Moreover the Dutch influence in Champ Car may increase if plans come to fruition between formula 1-sponsor Harry Muermans former Minardi F1 owner Paul Stoddart to start a Champ Car team. We are looking into that.. It depends however on Paul. If he does not want to do it, it will not happen. What does Muermans think of Champ Car coming to Assen? "That is fantastic!"

A Cosworth Spyker?  UPDATE #2 Some background history on Spyker, and why buying the Midland team has more merit than initially thought.

08/28/06 (GMM) Dutch car maker Spyker has confirmed paddock speculation that it is involved in the possible takeover of formula one team Midland.

In a statement published by BNR Nieuwsradio', Spyker Cars and current MF1 sponsor Michiel Mol said the proposed purchase of Silverstone-based MF1 is 'still depending on a number of conditions'.

It is rumored that the Lost Boys-Spyker buyout would be in the region of $100m.

''In the event that such acquisition would materialize, Spyker will consider a share issue to partially finance the transaction,'' the statement read.

Spyker Cars, launched in 2000, builds exclusive sports cars including the 450hp 'C8'.

08/26/06 If Silverstone-based Midland is bought and taken over by sponsor Lost Boys, and if it switches to Cosworth power as is rumored, the team's future engine supplier could be re-branded for 2007 as 'Spyker', a Dutch car maker.
Ferrari to confirm three drivers at Monza  (GMM)  Speculation surrounding the timing and appearance of Ferrari's driver lineup for 2007 has taken a new twist, with reports that - at Monza - the Italian team plans to confirm the identity of three racers.

The Guardian in England cited the information of 'sources close to Ferrari' while suggesting that the highly-anticipated press announcement is likely to feature the names Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher.

''But their precise status will be defined later,'' the report said, ''(giving) Schumacher another few months of decision time.''

At the same time, the Spanish sports newspaper 'AS' is claiming that Raikkonen has now signed a contract to drive not only for Ferrari in 2007, but also for Renault.

The article explained that the 26-year-old Finn's Renault contract contains a clause that allows him to drive for Ferrari in the event that Michael Schumacher retires.

Similarly, Raikkonen's Ferrari deal would be avoidable if German veteran Schumacher keeps racing beyond 2006.

Speed, Tonio secure in Toro Rosso seat?  UPDATE #3 UPDATE #2 (GMM)  Scott Speed has reinforced speculation that both he and Toro Rosso teammate Vitantonio Liuzzi will be retained by the Italian team in 2007.

At Istanbul last weekend, the half owner of the second Red Bull team, Gerhard Berger, admitted that it is almost certain that Toro Rosso's current line-up is to be retained beyond the end of 2006.

''It's not finally decided but we are quite happy with both of them,'' the Austrian said.

23-year-old Speed (right), who is F1's only American born driver at the moment, was quoted as assuming that he will still be a team member in 2007.

''Next year is going to be a good opportunity for both me and Tonio, for sure,'' said the Californian.

''We have enough experience, and we are going to be in a good situation.

''Our team is going to be very good next year.''

06/30/06 (GMM)  Inside Red Bull's impressive 'Energy Station', a tug of war is presently in play for the services in 2007 of Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Junior team Toro Rosso's co-owner, Gerhard Berger, is making it clear that he wants to keep the Italian on-board, but chiefs at Red Bull Racing reportedly want to promote him to the senior squad.

''Overall I think he's a guy we can build up into a quite good driver,'' the Austrian veteran told 'Speed TV' at Indianapolis on Friday.

California's Scott Speed is also likely to stay on board beyond 2006.

More uncertain, however, is the identity - and capacity - of the Faenza-based team's engine supplier for next season.  A contract to continue the V10-route with Cosworth exists, but there are also suggestions that STR could bow to the V8 alternative -- possibly with Ferrari.

''I don't know if (the V10 option) stays in the regulation or not,'' he continued, ''(but) if I look at the cost side, I think it's the most realistic thing.''

06/28/06 (GMM) It appears more and more likely that Toro Rosso will race into its second season with an unchanged driver line-up.

Red Bull's motor sport consultant, Helmut Marko, has been quoted as saying that while Vitantonio Liuzzi is a little quicker at times, his Californian teammate Scott Speed is also doing a good job so far.

''Scott is still in a learning phase,'' the Austrian told Motorsport Aktuell magazine.

Speed, too, is clearly feeling fairly comfortable in the Italian-based stable co-owned by Gerhard Berger.

He said: ''Ever since the fourth and fifth races, I have been more relaxed and able to enjoy it because I know that I belong here and I know that I will be here for a long time.''

[Editor's Note: As long as the lone American in F1 is driving for the worse team and not in contention to win or make it on the podium, F1 will never gain in popularity in the USA. Running at the back the field, or close to it, will just give Bernie Ecclestone another chance to point out that American drivers are inferior. He's done so on many occasions.]

08/30/06 (GMM)  Scott Speed has reinforced speculation that both he and Toro Rosso teammate Vitantonio Liuzzi will be retained by the Italian team in 2007.

At Istanbul last weekend, the half owner of the second Red Bull team, Gerhard Berger, admitted that it is almost certain that Toro Rosso's current line-up is to be retained beyond the end of 2006.

''It's not finally decided but we are quite happy with both of them,'' the Austrian said.

23-year-old Speed, who is F1's only American born driver at the moment, was quoted as assuming that he will still be a team member in 2007.

''Next year is going to be a good opportunity for both me and Tonio, for sure,'' said the Californian.

''We have enough experience, and we are going to be in a good situation.

''Our team is going to be very good next year.''

06/30/06 (GMM)  Inside Red Bull's impressive 'Energy Station', a tug of war is presently in play for the services in 2007 of Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Junior team Toro Rosso's co-owner, Gerhard Berger, is making it clear that he wants to keep the Italian on-board, but chiefs at Red Bull Racing reportedly want to promote him to the senior squad.

''Overall I think he's a guy we can build up into a quite good driver,'' the Austrian veteran told 'Speed TV' at Indianapolis on Friday.

California's Scott Speed is also likely to stay on board beyond 2006.

More uncertain, however, is the identity - and capacity - of the Faenza-based team's engine supplier for next season.  A contract to continue the V10-route with Cosworth exists, but there are also suggestions that STR could bow to the V8 alternative -- possibly with Ferrari.

''I don't know if (the V10 option) stays in the regulation or not,'' he continued, ''(but) if I look at the cost side, I think it's the most realistic thing.''

06/28/06 (GMM) It appears more and more likely that Toro Rosso will race into its second season with an unchanged driver line-up.

Red Bull's motor sport consultant, Helmut Marko, has been quoted as saying that while Vitantonio Liuzzi is a little quicker at times, his Californian teammate Scott Speed is also doing a good job so far.

''Scott is still in a learning phase,'' the Austrian told Motorsport Aktuell magazine.

Speed, too, is clearly feeling fairly comfortable in the Italian-based stable co-owned by Gerhard Berger.

He said: ''Ever since the fourth and fifth races, I have been more relaxed and able to enjoy it because I know that I belong here and I know that I will be here for a long time.''

[Editor's Note: As long as the lone American in F1 is driving for the worse team and not in contention to win or make it on the podium, F1 will never gain in popularity in the USA. Running at the back the field, or close to it, will just give Bernie Ecclestone another chance to point out that American drivers are inferior. He's done so on many occasions.]

Nurburgring likely to host 2007 race  (GMM) The Nurburgring, located close to the Eifel mountains in southeastern Germany, is likely to host the country's only F1 race in 2007.

The governing FIA released a provisional calendar on Tuesday, listing only one race date - for 'Germany' - for a grand prix in July.

The German grand prix, staged this year on July 30, is held annually at Hockenheim, the financially embattled circuit about 25 kilometers south of Mannheim.

But although the FIA calendar made no mention of the European grand prix, and its usual early-May date is now occupied by Spain for 2007, it is almost certain that the Nurburgring will continue to host F1 next year.

''We are assuming that a grand prix at the Nurburgring will take place in 2007,'' Nurburgring's managing director Walter Kafitz was quoted as saying by 'sid', while it is still speculated that the two German circuits could 'alternate' the single race beginning in 2008.

He added: ''But nothing has been signed.''

Hockenheim spokesperson Hartmut Tesseraux, meanwhile, said there had been 'no decision' about the fate of its race.

A final decision is likely in September.

Flav has 'protest' trick up sleeve - report  (GMM) Renault look set to struggle and lose their lead in the constructors' championship next week at Monza.

As pre-race testing kicked off at the Italian circuit on Tuesday, the French squad - albeit with Fernando Alonso's 12-point lead in the drivers' chase - looked at least half a second slower than title rival Ferrari.

With its one-three in Turkey, Ferrari closed to within two points of Renault for the teams' crown with four races to go.

''It will probably be a tough race here next week,'' chief test engineer Christian Silk admitted.

Alonso will run at Monza on Wednesday, as will Schumacher for Ferrari.

The 'Auto Motor Und Sport' magazine in Germany, meanwhile, is reporting that Renault have a few ideas to trial this week as the team adapts to the banning of its 'mass dampers'.

It is claimed that engineers will re-distribute the weight of the 'R26' further forward, so as to improve the speed of the blue car off the line.

Renault is also testing a new Michelin tire construction and 'D' specification engine at Monza, while it is also claimed that team boss Flavio Briatore has a trick or two up his sleeve.

Reportedly, the Italian chief is preparing an unspecified official 'protest' against the legality of the Ferrari car.

Bessette eyes Road America finale  Antoine Bessette had some talks with a few Champ Car Atlantic teams over the weekend and he might take part in the season finale at Road America in Elkhart Lake. “I would like to be back for the last race of the season in Wisconsin. We had talks with John (Brooks) and a few teams and we will see if we can strike a deal for the September round. This series is very competitive and it is always exciting to be part of it.”
Glock to Williams, Montagny to Toyota?  (GMM)  Team racer Nico Rosberg has responded to speculation that countryman and current GP2 driver Timo Glock could join him at the Williams-Toyota squad in 2007 as a test driver.

''Timo would be an ideal addition,'' the German 21-year-old was quoted as saying by 'Motorsport Aktuell' magazine.

It is also reported on Tuesday that current Super Aguri 'Friday' driver Franck Montagny is expected to move to Toyota at the end of the year, to replace Brazil's possibly Renault-bound Ricardo Zonta.

Montagny set to replace Zonta  Super Aguri third driver Franck Montagny is set to replace Ricardo Zonta as tester at Toyota next season, autosport.com is rumoring.  Zonta is rumored to be moving to be a test driver at Renault.
Zonta, Piquet, to Renault - reports  (GMM)  'Eurosport France' reported on Sunday afternoon from Istanbul that Toyota test driver Ricardo Zonta is on the verge of switching to the same role at Renault for 2007.

It was additionally reported that Nelson Piquet Jr, the GP2-driving son of his namesake and championship winning father, has signed a ten-year contract with Renault boss Flavio Briatore's 'FFBB' driver management company.

The reports give credence to hardening speculation that current Renault tester Heikki Kovalainen is likely to be Giancarlo Fisichella's race teammate at the team next year.

De la Rosa to replace Alonso?  UPDATE #2 We are downgrading this rumor to 'speculation.' Pedro de la Rosa has basically excluded speculation that he could be in the running for departing Fernando Alonso's vacant Renault seat in 2007.

The Spaniard is now almost guaranteed his current McLaren ride until the end of the season, and he is also faintly in with a shout to drive on beyond 2006.

But to rumors that Renault sponsor Telefonica want to replace Alonso next year with another Spaniard, 35-year-old de la Rosa commented: ''All I can say is that my future is very much bound to McLaren.

''I can't say anything else.''

08/26/06 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today.  Ron Dennis has confirmed Spanish media reports that said Pedro de la Rosa was almost certain to retain his McLaren race seat for the balance of the 2006 season.

''The place to develop young drivers is not in the pressure of grand prix racing,'' the Mercedes-powered team's British principal, relaying the reason for not giving GP2 protégé Lewis Hamilton a race, told reporters on Saturday.

08/26/06 Current McLaren substitute Pedro de la Rosa is now being linked with the 2007 seat to be vacated by countryman Fernando Alonso at Renault.

According to speculation in Istanbul, Spanish team sponsor Telefonica is keen to replace Alonso with another Spaniard, even though Flavio Briatore is believed to be pushing for test driver Heikki Kovalainen alongside Giancarlo Fisichella.

Schu still pushing for Monza deadline delay?  (GMM)  Despite Ferrari's official protestations to the contrary, it is still possible that Michael Schumacher will delay his decision about 2007 beyond the Monza race in two weeks.

The German driver's manager, Willi Weber, told pay broadcaster 'Premiere' that he would 'completely understand' if Schumacher needs more than fourteen days to make arguably the biggest decision of his life.

But Weber said: ''I do not know what will happen in Monza, but I assume that something will happen.''

His comments follow the insistence of team spokesmen, Ross Brawn and Jean Todt that the Monza announcement is still on track, and Bernie Ecclestone's claim in Istanbul that Schumacher is likely to retire at the end of the year.

Team principal Todt dealt awkwardly with Ecclestone's revelation while talking to reporters after the race.

''Michael joined Ferrari in 1996 and one day he will decide to stop,'' the Frenchman said.

''When the day arrives we will let you know.

''Bernie does not have any idea whether Michael will be driving in the future or not.''

Albers has 2007 F1 ride  Christijan Albers' manager Lodewijk Varossieaue told F1Racing.net: "Christijan will be racing in Formula 1 next season. On the 8th of October we will announce all the details."
Slim chance of IRL/Champ Car doubleheaders  Speedtv.com reports that Kevin Kalkhoven made in impromptu appearance at Infineon Raceway on Sunday morning to talk with Tony George about the possibility of staging doubleheaders in 2007.

"Mario (Andretti) invited me to come to talk with Tony but it wasn't about unification," said Kalkhoven, the co-owner of Champ Car who lives 30 minutes away outside of San Jose.

"We discussed the possibility of running a couple events together but I'm not real optimistic at this point."

Speedtv said that Indy Racing League founder George had no comment on the meeting, which also included Honda's Robert Clarke, who refused to talk about it.

[Editor's Note: We doubt this will happen.  The Champ Car schedule is too full now with 16 or 17 races.  Ditto for the IRL schedule.  Noise is also an issue.  The non-turbocharged Honda engine is far too loud for Champ Car's street circuits and the cars would need a muffler.  We simply do not see this one happening, even though a merger is desperately needed by both sides they always find a way of not working together.  Rumor has it that Tony George is beholden to the France family and they don't want a merger.]

Team Australia moving to NASCAR  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. AutoRacing1.com spoke to Team Australia co-owner Craig Gore who confirmed that Team Australia is moving into Nextel Cup in 2007 with Aussie Vineyards. We asked him if that means the end of their Champ Car program and he said confidently, "No we should be able to continue with that too."

08/27/06 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Aussie Vineyards, the sponsor of Team Australia wants to move their sponsor to NASCAR and create a Team Australia concept over there.  If true, it is unclear whether Team Australia will continue in Champ Car, and will probably depend on a replacement sponsor.  We also hear driver Alex Tagliani is looking elsewhere for 2007.
Papis to run three more NASCAR races  Italian driver Max Papis said he is working out the final details to race the last three Busch Series events of 2006.

Papis said he already has secured sponsorship from a major American-owned Italian food company and that he is tying up the loose ends that would put him back in a Busch car owned by McGill Motorsports.

"We are very, very close," Papis said. "We really enjoyed working with them"

Vettel eyes full time ride for 2007  UPDATE Sebastian Vettel has a 'realistic chance' of landing the full time job as BMW-Sauber's primary test driver in 2007, Mario Theissen says.

But the German squad's team principal also said in Istanbul that the Hinwil-based operation would not make a final decision until the end of the year.

08/24/06 (GMM) BMW Sauber's new 'Friday' driver, teenager Sebastian Vettel, says he has targeted a full time test role for the 2007 season.

''And as quickly as possible I want a race drive,'' the 19-year-old German was quoted as saying by 'sid' agency.

Curiously, it is understood that Vettel will steer the 'F1.06' car at the Otodrom wearing his regular Red Bull-liveried helmet, which resembles the silver and blue model worn by Christian Klien.

He also has his finger heavily taped after a nasty F3 shunt recently at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

Vettel, meanwhile, insisted that - even with his strong links with BMW and Red Bull - he would also consider making his grand prix debut in the future for other teams.

''If Ferrari made me an offer, I surely would not turn them down,'' he said.

He also said he was looking forward to sharing the Istanbul circuit with role-model Michael Schumacher, who incidentally is just shy of being twice Vettel's age.

''It will be the first time that I drive against him,'' Vettel said, referring to his BMW-Sauber debut on Friday.

He laughed: ''Perhaps I can even be faster than him -- on Fridays it is theoretically possible, after all.''

Merc makes $64m push to keep Kimi  UPDATE (GMM)  It is an 'open secret' in the formula one paddock that Kimi Raikkonen has now signed a multiple year contract to drive for Ferrari from 2007, Niki Lauda stated in Istanbul.

But Mercedes' Norbert Haug said, according to 'sid': ''Kimi told me here (in Turkey) that he has not signed for anyone.''

08/16/06 (GMM) Despite speculation that his Ferrari deal is now all but official, new reports indicate that Kimi Raikkonen's future on the formula one grid beyond 2006 is not yet settled.

An article in Germany's major daily newspaper 'Bild' on Wednesday will write that, as part of the speculated buyout of McLaren, carmaker Mercedes-Benz is making a final push to retain the 26-year-old Finn.

The report refers to a supposed two-year, (US) $64 million offer for Raikkonen, who has also been linked with a move to current championship-leading team Renault.

Regarding the rumored Mercedes-Benz buyout of McLaren, meanwhile, Bild cited the information of a Mercedes spokesman in claiming that 'it is conceivable' that Ron Dennis would be left at the helm.

Earlier reports suggested that Mercedes' competition director Norbert Haug might assume the top job.

Glock back to F1  Former 2004 Jordan driver Timo Glock is eyeing a return to the formula one grid in 2007, with his manager Hans Bernd Damps telling 'Premiere' in Turkey that a comeback after two years is more probable 'than ever before'.

The 24-year-old currently races in GP2.

Massa to move over  Pole sitter Felipe Massa is likely to move over to allow teammate and championship challenger Michael Schumacher to take maximum points in Istanbul.

''I will drive my race thinking about mine and the team's objectives in both championships,'' Ferrari's press release quoted the Brazilian as saying.

Champ Car has other options in Quebec  UPDATE #2 AutoRacing1.com sources tell us that Champ Car may indeed have a Plan B for Montreal and that it may be announced soon.....no it won't be at the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit, but elsewhere.  Stay tuned and we'll see how this may develop.

08/25/06 This weekend's Champ Car race in Montreal may be the last at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve but it may not be the last for the province of Quebec.

According to La Presse, former Quebec Nordiques owner Marcel Aubut has been investigating the possibility of staging a motorsports event through the streets of Quebec City.

The newspaper reports that Aubut has been in touch with officials of the Indy Racing League, A1 Grand Prix and Champ Car series about staging a race.

Two potential layouts are said to be under consideration, one around the old city section close to the Plains of Abraham, the other around Les Galeries de la Capitale shopping complex.

Alan Labrosse, the current promoter of the Champ Car race, did not rule out the possibility of moving the race to Quebec City if promoter Norman Legault decides not to renew his deal with the series for 2007.
Legault has a deal with the city of Montreal to stage a maximum of two races each year at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Formula One recently concluded a new five year deal with Legault. NASCAR officials have been talking to Legault about staging a Busch Series race in Montreal next year. That would leave Champ Car as the odd-man out unless the city decides to grant Legault a third race. TSN.ca

08/24/06 According to articles in the Canadian newspaper La Presse, if Champ Car is forced out of Montreal by NASCAR and Normand Legault after this year's event, promoter Alan Labrosse thinks a Champ Car race in either Quebec City or at the 2.65-mile Mont-Tremblant circuit pictured right is possible.
Evil Empire?  Bob Margolis writes in this Yahoo! Sports article, While Canadian race fans look forward to attending what may be their first NASCAR race in person next year, Champ Car fans and officials are pointing their collective fingers this weekend at NASCAR, which they blame for the open wheel series losing its Montreal race date.

Last year, when NASCAR first raised the possibility of racing in Canada, many people questioned where such an event could be held. Since there are no suitable oval tracks available, the focus turned to road courses, of which Canada has several.

Eventually all attention was focused on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, which hosts the F1 Canadian Grand Prix and is Canada's most modern racing facility. Canadian race promoter Normand Legault, who promotes the F1 race and holds the sole rights to hold auto races at this track, had expressed a desire to bring a NASCAR race to Montreal.

Since local law permits only two races per year, one race had to be sacrificed – and it undoubtedly wasn't going to be the Formula One event. More ...

Williams to sell F1 team?  JCB have made an offer to Sir Frank Williams to buy the Formula 1 team.

No figure has been released but it is understood to be a very substantial sum.

A JCB spokesman has said "We have approached Sir Frank with an offer and are awaiting a response which should come soon" He went on to say that if Sir Frank agrees then the Williams name would remain part of the team and the Toyota contract would be honoured.

JCB are the world biggest manufacturers of road digging equipment and has recently been involved in the power tool world and also are the worlds fastest diesel land speed record holders.
Gordon merging with Yates team?  UPDATE #4 A possible Robby Gordon and Robert Yates merger, which Ford Motor Company may be helping bankroll. Gordon, long a Chevrolet man, is also trying to find a second similar second-tier team to join his own camp next season, in part to get a good engine deal. John Story, Gordon's general manager, confirms talks with Ford's Jack Roush about providing engines in 2007, and Roush said he's willing to do that. But Story said there are other irons in the fire, too. "We're not buying Robert Yates Racing, though that's what the rumors have been," Story said. "We're still talking a couple of different manufacturers, Ford being one; we haven't made a decision on that, but we should make a decision within two weeks. We've talked to a number of people, but at some point as the year gets later and later if we can't put together an alliance, we'll have to keep doing what we're doing." Winston Salem Journal

Robby Gordon said Friday he still hasn’t finalized his 2007 plans, but SPEEDTV.com has learned that his one-car team is leaning towards adding a second car, rather than joining forces with Robert Yates Racing or another existing Cup team. Robby Gordon Motorsports has identified a driver and a sponsor for a second car, but has not put together a deal yet for next season, sources told SPEEDTV.com. Nor has a decision been made about whether the team will stick with Chevrolets or switch to Fords next year. Expect details about next season to be finalized within the next two weeks, sources close to the team said. One possible obstacle: Sponsors are concerned about committing millions of dollars to new cars next year, when most races will have 50-55 entries competing for 43 spots in the field, 35 of which are guaranteed based on owner’s points. Speed Channel

08/19/06 From Ford Racing PR at the Yates/Gilliland quotes: DOUG YATES - IS YOUR TEAM CONSIDERING ALIGNING WITH SOMEONE? IS THAT WHAT IT'S GOING TO TAKE TO COMPETE? "There's no doubt that you have to grow to be to that level. NASCAR set the limit at four times, that's what was out there and if you're going to compete, you've need the resources of four teams. I think we all agree on that. How you get there is things we've been kicking around. It's tough to grow, it's tough to find great sponsors like M&M's. They're just not around every corner, so how do you do that? We've been exploring opportunities and that's some of the things that are swirling. Robby Gordon's not buying our whole place, I want to put that to rest. Man, you guys caused us a lot of pain, I'll tell you that. That Jayski guy is killing me. I want to tell you something: If you guys weren't talking about us, I'd really be worried. Because the reason you guys are talking about us is because you expect more of us, and I appreciate that. And we are determined to get back to where you can say some good things about us when we get there."

YOU MENTIONED ROBBY'S NOT BUYING "THE WHOLE THING." IS THERE A SENSE THAT THERE MIGHT BE A PART OF IT THERE? "We're looking for opportunities to grow our business. We have to make smart decisions for the future. My dad is at the point in his career where if he's making every decision of every day he wants to pass the torch off. And I've got a lot of responsibilities on my shoulders. Sometimes you need some energy to help you get there. So, we're going to see how things shape up and make the best decision for our organization, our people, to get a chance to get our cars in victory lane. That is the goal. How you get there, those are tough decisions. But the goal is to get our organization back where we can win the Brickyard, we can win the Daytona 500, we can have four teams that are competing at a very high level every week. That's a tough 'how to we get there?' And that's what we're looking for." Ford Racing PR

08/15/06 A report that Robby Gordon Motorsports has purchased Robert Yates Racing's Cup and Busch Series teams was denied by officials with RGM Tuesday. But, John Story, CEO of Robby Gordon Motorsports, said the two teams have spoken about a possible merger of some sort.

"As Robby stated several months ago, we have talked to a number of people both in and out of NASCAR about expanding, with the ultimate goal of fielding a championship-caliber team," Story said. "To be competitive in NASCAR's Cup series today, you've got to have multiple teams. So, yes, we've spoken [to RYR officials], but we've spoken with other people also. "That any sort of deal has been completed between the two teams is completely erroneous."

According to the Internet story posted by the LTN Radio Network, the purchase of RYR by Robby Gordon Motorsports would be "effective this week."

Story said the need to expand to multiple teams has led to discussions with a number of organizations currently competing in the series, including Hall of Fame Racing and PPI Motorsports among others.

"Not surprisingly, a number of teams have contacted us as well," Story said. "But you can't just take two single-car teams and put them together and say you are now a multicar team. It's just not that easy. There are a number of issues that come into play." Scenedaily.com

[Editor's Note: It is not erroneous.  Merger will happen.......although it's not an outright sale]

08/15/06   We are upgrading this rumor to 'strong.'  It appears that Robby Gordon is moving up the hierarchy in NASCAR.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. has hired him to straighten out his Busch team and now the strong rumor is that he is buying Robert Yates Racing.  We expect to hear some very big sponsorship announcement related to this deal soon.  Here's another former open wheel star making it big in NASCAR.

08/15/06 The LTN Radio Network has learned that Robby Gordon has purchased Robert Yates Racing, #88 and #38 Cup teams and #90 Busch Series team to be effective this week. The Yates-Roush engine program is not included in the sale. No word on the status of the contracts between RYR and sponsors M&M/Mars and Citifinancial, and how they will be affected by the sale. LTN Radio Network [Note: Their website is currently down.]

If this rumor is true, might Robby Gordon convert team over to Toyota?  Is Toyota money behind this purchase?  This related article on NASCAR.com says it could be a Chevy team, which is what Gordon has now.  Robert Yates has always been a Ford operation.  However, Gordon has a long relationship with Toyota and we can see Toyota making something big like this happen.

Ferrari wheels to stir new F1 controversy  (GMM)  With the 'mass damper' saga still bubbling, yet another technical controversy looks set to descend on formula one.

At the Istanbul circuit on Friday, Ferrari racers Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa took to free practice with an innovative addition to their red cars' rear wheels.

It is a sort of cover for the actual wheel rims, and is already sparking suggestions from rival teams that - not dissimilar to the controversially banned 'mass dampers' - it might contravene the regulations concerning moveable aerodynamic parts.

''I have asked the engineers,'' McLaren driver Pedro de la Rosa told 'AS' newspaper, ''and they say it has an aerodynamic influence.''

It is further understood that all aerodynamic devices must be rigidly attached to the actual chassis, but Ferrari sources reportedly insist that the wheel covers simply aid brake cooling, not aerodynamic efficiency.

''Ferrari always seem to be at the limit of the interpretation of the rules,'' noted Renault's Fernando Alonso, who is just ten points ahead of Schumacher in the 2006 chase.

Schumacher - Heidfeld swap?  UPDATE (GMM)  Toyota's Ralf Schumacher has again refused to rule out speculation that he and BMW-Sauber counterpart Nick Heidfeld could swap formula one seats in 2008.

''Until and including 2007 I am under contract to Toyota,'' said the German, ''and I am concentrating on that.

''After that we will see.''

08/25/06 The latest rumor in F1 circles is that Ralf Schumacher and Nick Heidfeld could swap race seats in 2008, or even as soon as next season.

The 'Express' publication reports that Toyota's Schumacher, 30, is in talks about racing for the German marque at the end of his current contract. Schumacher drove for BMW-powered Williams between 2000-2004.

''I will fulfill my Toyota contract in 2007,'' Ralf reportedly responded, while Heidfeld's manager, Werner Heinz, admitted that he had heard the rumor that his charge could fill the seat in a direct Toyota-BMW swap.
De la Rosa to keep McLaren seat - report  (GMM)  Pedro de la Rosa will keep his seat at McLaren alongside Kimi Raikkonen for the remaining three races after Monza, according to reports in the Spanish press.

Although Gary Paffett and Lewis Hamilton theoretically threatened the 35-year-old Spaniard's ride, newspaper 'Marca' wrote that de la Rosa has now been told of the unofficial news.

The 2006 finale in Brazil, too, might not be Pedro's last taste of formula one racing for now.

Speculation in Istanbul suggests that the Juan Pablo Montoya-substitute is also in the running for the 2007 McLaren seat alongside Fernando Alonso, as well as Alonso's current Renault ride.

It is believed that Renault team sponsor Telefonica is keen to replace the departing 25-year-old world champion with another Spaniard.

Boxer George Foreman eyes Indy Car team  Few people stand taller than Mario Andretti in the eyes of George Foreman -- though the former world heavyweight champion towers over the 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner.

Foreman had an opportunity to meet Mario, Michael and Marco Andretti during a tour of the garage area at Infineon Raceway. His visit, however, wasn’t solely social.

Foreman is seriously interested in becoming involved in the IndyCar Series – first aligning with an existing team and eventually forming his own team. Foreman and his eldest son, George, toured the Infineon Raceway facility, getting a look at the cars and drivers in action from various vantage points around the 2.26-mile, 12-turn course. He lunched with Indy Racing League officials and Infineon Raceway president Steve Page, and met with a few IndyCar Series team owners “to pick their brains.”

Foreman, who won a boxing gold medal in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, became interested in Indy-style racing when he attended the 500-Mile Race the following May. He has since followed the sport, and said this is the perfect time to “get involved.”

“Just the name IndyCars brings back so many thrills to me because I cut my teeth on that name,” Foreman said between IndyCar Series practice sessions. “It has changed so much (from 1969), like from the wild, wild West to having computers in cars. It is unreal. Hopefully, soon I’ll get a chance to be a part of it.

“We are exploring starting a team. I wanted to meet everybody first of all. This is a good family atmosphere, and that’s what I love about it. Then you see a generation of children coming up behind the ones who were in the winning position. This is something I need in my life; I’d like to be a part of it.” More at IndyCar.com

Industry News
Ford to sell luxury brands  Ford Motor Co. is in talks to sell some luxury-auto brands to an investment group led by former CEO Jacques Nasser, four people familiar with the discussions told Bloomberg News.

The discussions focus on Jaguar and Land Rover, said one of the people, who didn’t want to be identified because the negotiations are private. The talks are with JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s One Equity Partners LLC, where Nasser is senior partner for mergers and acquisition, the people told Bloomberg.

Nasser, fired by Ford five years ago, created the company’s Premier Automotive Group, including European brands Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo. As late as 2004,
Ford was counting on the group to generate one-third of its automotive profit by this year. Ford says Premier will lose money this year.

The talks with Nasser, which could result in a joint venture rather than an outright acquisition, don’t involve Volvo, one of the persons told Bloomberg. They wouldn’t say whether the discussions have advanced beyond a preliminary stage.  Bloomberg News

NASCAR Montreal race to be announced  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today as Champ Car President Steve Johnson told media today in Montreal that "Normand Legault told us three months ago he does not want us back, and the city gave him a monopoly on all races on this island and right now, unless Normand changes his mind, our hands are tied and we have no plans to race here (on this island) next year. However, we love Canada and we love Montreal and we are looking seriously at a few other possibilities in Montreal and Quebec."

We will have more on this later....

08/25/06 Word here in Montreal is that after this weekend's Champ Car race NASCAR will announce the Busch Series will race in Montreal on July 22, 2007, the open weekend in the Nextel Cup schedule before the Allstate 400 at Indy so as many Cup drivers as possible can participate in Montreal. We hear that Grand-Am and CASCAR will also race in Montreal that weekend.
Champ Car to add at least three new teams  Champ Car President Steve Johnson said today in Montreal that by the end of this weekend he hopes to have three new 2-car Champ Car teams signed up for next year and that does not include any other Atlantic teams that still may move up, nor does it include ex-F1 team owner Paul Stoddart's team, which apparently is still very much a real possibility.
ALMS to replace Grand-Am Long Beach  Champ Car President Steve Johnson stated today in Montreal that "it's safe to say we are not doing business with the France family".......given what happened in Phoenix with Champ Car's efforts to race on the city streets there as well as NASCAR moving into Montreal next year, thereby pushing Champ Car out.  He stated that the Long Beach GP group (the race is owned by Champ Car's Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe) are now negotiating with ALMS to replace Grand-Am in Long Beach in 2007. 

Now it remains to be seen whether Gerald Forsythe, who is still part owner of the track in Mexico City, now moves to get both the NASCAR Busch Series and the Grand-Am Series removed from Mexico City once those contracts are complete.  This bad blood could escalate into an all-out war.

Ralf to tumble down Turkish grid  (GMM)  According to the latest whisper from Istanbul, Ralf Schumacher might follow Christijan Albers down the starting grid amid reports by broadcaster 'ORF' that yet another Toyota V8 engine required changing on Friday.

Ironically, the 31-year-old German - clearly unaware of the impending development - commented after afternoon practice in Turkey that it had been a 'painless' opening day.

Industry News
Ford may go private  UPDATE This Detroit Free Press article talks more about Ford possibly going private.

08/24/06 Champ Car sponsor Ford Motor Company is reported to be considering going private in order to buy time to restructure its ailing automobile business. Ford's share price is currently $7.75 which means that the cost of going private could be as little as $13.3bn. The Ford family still controls 40% of the company but restructuring is taking longer than planned because of the drop in sales of pick-up trucks because of the rising price of fuel. There has been talk in recent weeks of selling off a number of its brands, notably Jaguar, Volvo and Aston Martin.

Going private would mean that the firm could make swift decisions without having to fight with its own shareholders which would help the firm solve its problems. There is no doubt that the current share price does not reflect the true value of the company, which should be trading at four or five times the price.  Grandprix.com

New sponsor for Williams  The latest whisper in the formula one paddock is that Williams could already be courting a new major sponsor to tie-in with its Toyota engine connection in 2007.

The name doing the rounds was that of leading German internet service provider 'T-Online', which is a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom.

Schu wants teammate Massa, not Kimi  (GMM) A clash of opinion within the Ferrari ranks could scrap the team's plans to unveil its 2007 driver lineup at Monza in two weeks.

As Michael Schumacher told reporters in Istanbul that he is likely to take longer to make up his mind about whether or not to retire, the German 'Bild' newspaper ran a story suggesting a behind-the-scenes rift.

It is reported that the 37-year-old veteran recently met with president Luca di Montezemolo with the news that the only teammate he would accept in 2007 is incumbent Felipe Massa.

''I have still made no decision,'' Schumacher told reporters on Friday.

''I have still 14 days and perhaps even longer.''

Any delay is likely to be linked with Montezemolo's insistence that the time is right to think about the future of Ferrari by finally putting Kimi Raikkonen in a red car.

A source told 'Bild': ''Michael knows that Raikkonen is very fast and could make him look bad.''

The twist in the tale, meanwhile, is that team principal and friend Jean Todt is understood to be siding with Schumacher, despite Montezemolo's contrary view.

More evidence of NASCAR saturation  In this article Bruton Smith says that TV revenues for tracks are set to decrease when the new TV contract kicks in and NASCAR should not expect fans to have to make up the difference through increased ticket prices.  In fact he suggests lowering ticket prices because fans cannot afford NASCAR's inflated prices.  If word gets out that tracks are going to lower ticket prices resulting in lower revenue for the tracks, share price of SMI and ISC stock will nosedive.
’07 Cleveland GP date, ’07 Schedule  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' - see Hot News page for announcement.

08/24/06 The promoters of the Grand Prix of Cleveland will soon officially announce the dates for the 2007 race, June 24-27, at Burke Lakefront Airport. Mi-Jack Promotions also has released popular Grand Prix GM Rena Shanaman and is looking to move the Grand Prix offices from their current location in the United Way building. Mi-Jack will have Houston-based Chuck Kosich as GM for both races. Cleveland Plain Dealer

[Editor's Note: The date the Plain Dealer lists must be wrong because June 27th is a Wednesday.  The race should replace the Milwaukee race but it will not.]

Our guess at the 2007 schedule:

April 8 Las Vegas (Confirmed - Easter Sunday)
April 15 Long Beach (Confirmed)
April 22 Houston (Confirmed)
May 20 Zhuhai, China (Confirmed)
June 17 Portland (Tentative)
Jun 24 Cleveland (Confirmed)
July 8 Toronto (Tentative)
July 22 Edmonton (Tentative)
July 29 San Jose (Confirmed)
Aug. 12 Denver (Tentative)
Aug. 26 Road America (Tentative)
Sep. 9 or 16 Assen, Holland (Tentative)
Sep. 16 or 23 2nd Europe Race - (Tentative)
Oct. 7 San Antonio (Maybe)
Oct. 21 Australia (Tentative)
Nov. 4 Mexico City (Tentative)
Nov. 18 Phoenix (Confirmed)

Krohn back to ALMS  Hearing that Tracy Krohn is disgusted with Grand-Am and will return to the ALMS with a pair of Aston Martins.
Industry News
Ford would welcome Nissan-Renault alliance  Ford Motor Co. stock surged Wednesday after news reports said Chairman Bill Ford last month called Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Japan's Nissan Motor Co. and France's Renault SA, to discuss a partnership if General Motors Corp. does not join with Ghosn in a global automotive alliance.

Ford spokespeople declined to comment on the reports.

Some observers interpreted the news as a sign that Ford's embattled top leader -- chairman since 1998, CEO since 2001 and de facto president since July -- may be willing to step down, or at least to the side, to allow another executive to take the helm. And it adds to an emotional period for workers at the struggling 103-year-old automaker, who already face the prospect of a deeper, faster restructuring this fall.

Brian Pannebecker, an hourly worker at Ford's Sterling Heights axle plant, was excited about the possibility of Ghosn leading Ford and said he was buying as many Ford shares as he could get his hands on because of the reports.

"Bill Ford has emotional ties to the company and to the employees," Pannebecker said. "We probably need an outsider, like Ghosn, who can put emotional ties to the side and shut down excess capacity."  More at Detroit Free Press

Massa could lose Ferrari seat  Despite speculation that his Ferrari tenure could be nearing an end, Felipe Massa says he is 'quite optimistic' ahead of the last five races of 2006.

The 25-year-old Brazilian, however, appeared unsure of the identity of his employer for next year as he spoke to press in London.

''I'm really looking forward to having a good future, to stay in a good team,'' Massa said, after driving his red single-seater on a closed road in London as part of a promotional event for Shell.

He added: ''At the moment everything is open, but hopefully pretty soon we're going to know what's going on.''

An estimated 20,000 spectators watched the London action, comprised also of Ducati MotoGP rider Loris Capirossi and superbike's Troy Bayliss.

There is a chance Ferrari will make him a test driver again, or place him with another team.

Schumacher now in drivers seat  Fernando Alonso's Renault team was dealt a blow ahead of this weekend's Turkish Grand Prix after their mass damper system was deemed illegal.

Renault on Wednesday found out that their mass damper device, a system that controls tire wear by leveling out tire vibrations, had been outlawed.

Schumacher, who has closed the gap on Alonso to just 10 points with just five races remaining in the season, says this weekend's race could prove to be pivotal in his title challenge.

"We have five chances to change the current situation and win the title now," said Schumacher. "We should not make the mistake of thinking that our chances dipped after Hungary. Instead we ought to look ahead; we could have found ourselves in a much worse position at this stage of the season.

"Our desire is exactly the same and Istanbul is a very important stage on the road to the title."

"I think things are looking good," added Schumacher. "I think that we should be competitive at the weekend though. After all, our potential is as high as ever. The title challenge is so exciting that I cannot wait for the next race."

I'm feeling very positive," said Alonso. "I am in the position where everybody wants to be - leading the championship, with the races counting down. There was some pressure on us after Germany, but the race in Hungary showed that the R26 is still very competitive, and that you have to take every weekend one at a time."

Piquet set to replace Kovalainen at Renault  (GMM) Nelson Piquet Jr, the GP2-driving son of Brazil's triple world champion, has moved into pole position to replace Heikki Kovalainen in the Renault test seat of 2007.

With his Finnish predecessor set to score the plum race seat, the 21-year-old is not only linked with the third driver role, but he has already signed a contract, according to the French portal 'Le Blog Auto'.

The publication cited information from the journalist-commentator Jean-Louis Moncet, who works for French television broadcaster 'TF1'.

It is additionally reported that Sir Frank Williams, who once tested the actually German-born Piquet Junior, was also interested in signing him, while recent rumors suggested that the rookie could be eying a race seat debut for a small team.

Piquet is presently 11 points behind title favorite Lewis Hamilton, who is tipped to graduate to formula one next year possibly with McLaren, for GP2 honors.

Pizzonia mulls Champ Car for 2007  With regard to this weekend's Champ Car race in Montreal, Antonio Pizzonia told autosport.com: "For now this is just a one race agreement, but seriously I would love to do as many races as Paul could offer me."

However, the 2000 British Formula 3 champion admitted he is not 100 per cent set on a Champ Car future yet.

"I think it is too early to say what I will be doing in 2007," he said. "I've been talking to a few Formula 1 teams, because I'm only 25 and I still have a lot to show there.

"But I think Champ Car is a great series, and should be very good next year with the new car. If I don't find anything good in Formula 1 next year, Champ Car would interest me a lot."

Klien eyes Champ Car option  UPDATE #4 (GMM) Christian Klien has played down speculation in the Dutch press that he could switch to the Midland team at the end of 2006.

The young Austrian, whose race seat at Red Bull will be filled by Williams' departing Mark Webber in 2007, was reportedly considering the 'MF1' option in addition to Red Bull-sponsored drives in DTM or Champ Cars.

But Klien, 23, told news magazine 'Europolitan' that he would not try to stay at the pinnacle of motor sport at any cost.

''My goal was always to drive in formula one,'' he explained, ''but a team like Midland is for me not an option at present.''

Klien, however - who debuted with Red Bull backing alongside Webber in 2004 - expressed confidence that he will race next year.

''Touring cars or Champ Cars could be possible,'' he insisted, ''everything is still open.

''My goal, however, is formula one and I will not easily give up on that.''

08/10/06 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today.  (GMM)  Axed Red Bull Racing driver Christian Klien has been given two weeks to accept the energy drink company's offer of a drive in another race category.

According to reports in the Austrian 'Salzburger Nachrichten' newspaper, the 23-year-old can choose between America's open-wheeler Champ Car series, or the premier touring car category in Germany, DTM.

''He has at the most fourteen days to consider our offer,'' Red Bull's motor sport consultant Helmut Marko said.

''A return to formula one is open to him, but only is he makes it in Champ Car.''

Marko justified Red Bull's decision to dump the Austrian youngster by explaining that he simply 'did not develop' sufficiently after his first season or two on the grand prix grid.

Klien will be replaced at the end of the year by Australia's Mark Webber.

''He did not beat David Coulthard,'' said Helmut Marko, who contested ten grands prix in the early seventies.  ''Not in practice runs or in races.''

08/09/06 (GMM)  Left out of the 2007 lineup of either Red Bull team, Christian Klien has admitted to 'big disappointment' that his F1 career is in tatters.

The 23-year-old has said in an interview with 'APA' that, two hours before the official press release was distributed by email and fax around the globe, he was told by telephone that he would not be needed in 2007.

''I thought they were going to continue with me,'' the Austrian revealed.

But Klien vowed to not give up.  ''I am 23 and still have the possibility to be successful in motor sport.

''My goal remains formula one.''

With Red Bull and Toro Rosso out of the picture, however, Klien admitted that a team like Midland might be his only chance to race beyond the end of this year.

But with Red Bull backing at Alex Shnaider's rival team very doubtful, he confessed that MF1 is 'not an option for me at the moment'.

Klien, who was recently linked with a switch to an American race category by Red Bull's own paddock newspaper, continued: ''But to just give up now would be stupid.''

''My priority for the immediate future is to stop doing continuous interviews on the same topic,'' Christian insisted, ''and to concentrate fully on driving.''

A Midland level team is all that is left in F1 for Klien in 2006, so we expect he will look at Champ Car very seriously.  Remember there are no more "Friday" drivers, so what's left for Klien?

07/12/06 (GMM) On the back of solid speculation that 2006 will be his last year at Red Bull, Christian Klien traveled to Salzburg (Austria) after F1's North American tour to meet personally with team mogul Dietrich Mateschitz.

The young Austrian - who is reportedly last in line behind David Coulthard, Heikki Kovalainen and Vitantonio Liuzzi for the 2007 ride - emerged from the meeting buoyed, according to 'APA'.

''It was a very good, open, discussion,'' said the 23-year-old, ''and the future is open.''

Red Bull chiefs, however, are nonetheless thought to still be on track for an August deadline to decide its next driver line-up, which gives Klien two more races to impress.

06/28/06 (GMM)  Like Juan Pablo Montoya, Red Bull's Christian Klien might have to turn to the American racing scene as a career lifeline for the 2007 season.

The 23-year-old Austrian is in pole position to be chopped from the energy drink-owned team's race lineup at the end of the season, as support for his veteran teammate David Coulthard grows.

Admitting that either Klien or 35-year-old Coulthard will almost certainly be shown the door, team principal Christian Horner told Motorsport News: ''(Christian) has got an experienced teammate in David and he needs to tidy up elements of performance such as his inconsistency.''

Austrian newspaper 'Salzburger Nachrichten' mentioned the Champ Car possibility, saying that Klien could continue to enjoy Red Bull backing.  AJ Allmendinger already enjoys Red Bull's support in the category.

Klien's other option appeared to be the company's junior F1 team Toro Rosso, but co-owner Gerhard Berger has not spoken glowingly about the scenario.

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