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Dale Jr. crew chief to stay same in 2010 Dale Earnhardt Jr. was asked:
Q) ON WORKING WITH LANCE MCGREW, HAVE ANY DECISION BEEN MADE ABOUT HIS COMING BACK NEXT YEAR AS CREW CHIEF?
A) "Well, I just want to make it clear, I guess, that the decision is Rick's (Hendrick) and his management team. I like working with Lance. I get along great with Lance. We have had some great runs and I feel like I can build on that type of success and it happened more often, more consistently with Lance. And I hope that we're successful the rest of the year and that we go into next season with the same group of guys. But the decision isn't mine, and never will be mine. So, I hope that we'll have more success and continue to give Rick and the people that do make those types of decisions good reason to keep us as a team and keep us working together because I really do enjoy working with him. I feel like I'm a different race car driver than I've been over the last several years; just my temperament and my disposition throughout the races and the weekend. I still have to check myself every once in a while; I get a little angry, but just during practice and stuff when something you do to these cars can frustrate you. But for the most part, Lance is really great at controlling the situation and controlling our team and directing our team throughout the weekend and the races themselves. I've enjoyed the experience working with him." Chevy Racing PR
Hendrick cars caught cheatingUPDATE #3 NASCAR officials, after a two-day post-race inspection at the Concord R&D center, have warned the #5-Mark Martin and #48-Jimmie Johnson teams [see earlier post below for more details], and crew chiefs Alan Gustafson and Chad Knaus, about going too close to the edge on body tolerances on their Dover cars, but NASCAR's John Darby insists both cars are legal and there are no penalties coming. Darby said NASCAR may be taking the Martin and Johnson cars back to the R&D center "over and over and over again" after chase races, regardless of where they finish. "NASCAR's job is to police the sport and manage the sport, but we also work very closely with the competitors on helping the competitors to make sure we get the right results (i.e., warning teams when they get too close to the line). Take any measurement: say the car has to weigh at least 3,450 pounds, and if a car comes through inspection right at 3,450 pounds, we'll point that out to the team and say 'Hey, what are you doing? What's wrong with putting two more pounds in there, because you're putting a lot in the bank that our scales are going to measure the same every time.' We do it with engines, carburetors, everything. We owe it to the teams to do that. So (Tuesday, after the post-race inspection in Concord) we called the teams and said 'This thing is passing, but, if the exact same car comes back next week, and if our inspectors are five-thousandths (of an inch) off, guess what you're not going to be right at the tolerance, you're going to be over it."
"But the teams said 'Our (own) measurements aren't that close; they're 'this.' So we said 'Both cars are still on the (surface) plates; we'll lock them down, and you can come over with your engineers and measure yourself.' This would be Wednesday morning. And we walked through from the front of the race car all the way to the rear. I think they're engineers learned why there was a discrepancy. And I feel good about going through that with them. Obviously as we go through the season post-race inspections gets to be so routine, like everything else, and then when you get something like this it throws up a bunch of red flags." MikeMulhern.net
10/02/09 Word circulated Wednesday night that NASCAR had found issues with the #48 Chevy as well as the #5 Chevy during inspection at the Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. The two Hendrick Motorsports teams currently sit atop the points standings. The buzz within the NASCAR community suggests that the offset on the tail, which helps the rear of the car stick to the ground instead of spinning out, of the #5 Kellogg's Chevy just made the tolerance. NASCAR allows a tolerance of 0.070 of an inch for the body off of the center line of the car. Suffice it to say, JJ's #48 car didn't make it. But by how much? NASCAR claims it was 0.006 over the tolerance. That's about the thickness of two sheets of copier paper. Others in the garage hint at a charitable disposition on the part of the sanctioning body. So how did NASCAR view the situation with the Hendrick cars? "The 48 and 5 were brought back to the Research and Development Center," according to a NASCAR statement. "We've been doing this since the inception of the new car as a part of routine post-race inspection. We bring the winner and a random pick back to the R&D Center after each event. While both cars passed post race inspection, we informed the 48 and 5 they were extremely close on some of the tolerances." FoxSports [Editor's Note: We repeat, as long you are within the tolerances it is OK, so why then were the teams told to never bring those cars to the track again? Think back to the Carl Long incidence where his engine was barely over the displacement limit and NASCAR suspended him - i.e. hammered him hard for an engine he bought from a reputable NASCAR engine builder. Never will happen to NASCAR's top team. Can you imagine NASCAR suspended the top two drivers in the chase?]
10/01/09 We guess you can be illegal, but "within tolerance" of NASCAR's good graces if you are one of their favorite sons. Claire B. Lang reported on Sirius Satellite NASCAR Radio Channel 128 "Dialed In" show Thursday night that the #48 and #5 Chevy's teams of Hendrick Motorsports were told they cars were too close to NASCAR tolerances at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, NC this week. The cars were taken to the R&D Center after Jimmie Johnson won the Sprint Cup race at Dover in the #48 with Mark Martin finishing 2nd in the #5 Chevy. Lang says she heard the teams were told not to bring the cars back to the track. Lang asked NASCAR if this was true and was told: "The 48 and 5 were brought back to the R&D center. We've been doing this since the inception of the new car as a part of routine post-race inspection. We bring the winner and a random pick back to the R&D center after each event. While both cars passed post race inspection, we informed the 48 and 5 they were extremely close on some of the tolerances."
NASCAR said to never bring those cars back to the track, which means they must be illegal, hence this rumor is deemed 'fact' by AR1.com. Everything happens in NASCAR for a reason.
10/01/09 Unconfirmed rumors are coming in via AR1 sources that the No. 48 Jimmie Johnson team has been caught cheating with an offset body. If true, let's see how hard NASCAR is on their 2nd favorite son (favorite being Dale Jr.). We repeat, this rumor is not yet confirmed.
McLaren to buy BMW's F1 engine division (GMM) The hottest rumor at the Suzuka circuit on Saturday is that McLaren is contemplating splitting completely with Mercedes at the end of the season.
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that the Woking based team's plan, masterminded by chairman and former team boss Ron Dennis, is to buy BMW's formula one engine division from the withdrawing German carmaker in order to go it alone as an independent chassis and engine constructor.
The move would clear the path for Mercedes to completely concentrate on its intensifying partnership with Brawn, with Dennis thought not keen on the prospect of taking a back seat to Mercedes' new favorite.
McLaren has an engine supply contract with equity partner Mercedes for two more seasons, but Dennis is believed to be confident that - as with his new MP4-12C road car project - the outfit can manage without the Stuttgart based manufacturer.
Auto Motor und Sport said BMW would be interested in selling its F1 engine program for the right price, and that Dennis may already have made enquiries with the marque's Munich headquarters.
It is also rumored that McLaren's existing Bahraini investors might bolster their involvement in order to support the new independent engine program.
Said team boss Martin Whitmarsh: "We have no plans to buy BMW's engines."
Goodyear's new 17-inch stock car tire may be delayed Goodyear's long-proposed new 17-inch stock car tire, considerably wider and taller than the current NASCAR tire, is apparently on hold for a while. It was to have been tested this week at Richmond International Raceway by one of Jack Roush's Ford teams, but the Greg Biffle-Greg Erwin team, which was to have been the testing team, has had to back out, in order to test their own stuff for the current championship chase. Erwin says the 17-inch tire, even if successfully tested, almost certainly would not be used on the NASCAR tour in 2010, because it would force teams to complete change car designs and setups. MikeMulhearn.net
Lotus in talks with Sauber sponsor PetronasUPDATE New Lotus F1 chief executive Tony Fernandes has denied that a $500,000 a year sponsorship deal he has brokered for the new Asian Basketball League will lead to the company backing his grand prix outfit.
The three-year deal has secured the future of the nascent league after helping to bring its total backing to the required $3m, but any link between the backing and Fernandes' F1 venture is being discounted by the man himself.
"I have not talked to GE about F1 and I don’t think we will," he told the SportsPro Daily Deal newsletter, "GE was the one who believed in us and took a leap of faith when we started AirAsia and no banker would even serve us coffee."
The Air Asia chief executive has already stated that his airline will continue to back Williams rather than switching allegiance to Lotus, but the rumor mill continues to claim that the 'newcomer' will bid to take advantage of the uncertainty surrounding the future of the current BMW Sauber team to tempt Malaysian giant Petronas on board.
"We are certainly campaigning for Petronas to come over to us," he confirmed earlier this week, "We think it is logical, as a Malaysian team, that they should be somehow involved in it. But we'll have to make our case." Yahoo Sports
09/27/09 (GMM) The new Malaysian-owned Lotus F1 team is in talks about being sponsored next year by Petronas, the state owned oil company.
Petronas has been a long term sponsor of the BMW-Sauber team, who are being taken over by the mysterious investment group Qadbak but are not guaranteed a place on the 2010 grid.
Lotus boss Tony Fernandes, who is also in charge of the Williams sponsor AirAsia, confirmed the Petronas talks.
"We would love Petronas to sponsor us," he said at the verge of the Singapore grand prix.
It is also rumored that 2002 Minardi driver and Malaysian Alex Yoong, now 33, has joined the team, but will have a management role rather than a driving one.
Toyota wants Kubica Autosport reports that Toyota is making a major push to beat Renault to Robert Kubica's services for 2010.
Although Kubica has been most strongly linked with Renault for a deal for next year, Autosport reports that talks between the Polish driver and Toyota are at an advanced stage - with the ball now in Kubica's court as to whether he wants to take up the option with Toyota, or pursue the one he has with Renault. A decision is expected in the next week. Our 2010 F1 Silly Season has been updated above.
City Centre Airport runway closure may be put off for Indy The closure of one of two runways at the City Centre Airport might be put off until the end of next July to allow the Indy car race and the Airfest show to go ahead, city manager Al Maurer says.
A city report indicates runway 16-34 is expected to be decommissioned by April 30, but this would require shutting the airport for up to four weeks in 2010 to make room for the Indy, which runs on the other runway.
“In order to keep the airport operational during the 2010 race time frame, a new track would be required. Discussions are underway to identify alternatives and their implications.”
Count. Ron Hayter said the Alberta Aviation Museum is also concerned that with one runway closed there won’t be space for its annual Airfest, usually held near the end of June.
Alonso-Raikkonen swap in the works?UPDATE #5 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. Kimi Raikkonen's manager has confirmed that McLaren is interested in signing up the Finn for 2010.
"Several teams are interested in Kimi and are talking with him," Steve Robertson is quoted as saying by the Finnish broadcaster MTV3.
"McLaren is one of his options," he added.
Ferrari on Thursday denied rumors that Santander, the team's new major Spanish sponsor, was the powerful force behind the push to sign Fernando Alonso at all costs.
But team boss Stefano Domenicali told reporters that Alonso's "main characteristic" is his leadership ability, and Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo referred to "personality".
"Kimi is the type of person that shows little emotion, he keeps everything inside. These things don't help with the exchange of information inside the team," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
10/01/09 Kimi Raikkonen fans might see the Finn in Formula 1 next season but there is also the possibility they will see him quit the sport if a top team doesn't come with a good offer. Raikkonen revealed he has yet to make a decision on his future in Formula 1. "Maybe I will race, maybe not," Raikkonen was quoted by The Guardian. "My only aim, if I am going to race next year, is to have a car that can win the championship. Otherwise there is no point."
Ford sales will top GM by 2012 A leading economic forecasting firm sees an anemic recovery in new car sales over the next 18 months, but a stronger rebound after 2012 when Ford’s market share in the U.S. will surpass General Motors and narrowly trail Toyota’s.
“The good news is we are at the bottom. That bad news is the hole is deep and it will take long to dig out,” said George Magliano, Global Insight director of North America auto industry research. Several experts from the Lexington, Mass., firm met with clients and industry leaders today at the Dearborn Inn.
Magliano and Nariman Behravesh, the firm’s chief economist, talked about a slow and gradual recovery from this year’s bottom of just over 10 million vehicle sales in the U.S. to 11.2 million next year. But pent-up demand, the eventual creation of jobs and a modest recovery in housing will propel the industry back to annual sales of as high as 17 million by 2014.
Alonso in trouble for Briatore tribute? (GMM) His formula one future is secure in the form of a new multi year Ferrari contract, but Fernando Alonso may be slapped on the wrist for comments made after finishing on the podium at the recent Singapore grand prix.
Finally with something to celebrate after weeks of 'crash-gate' intrigue, the Renault driver dedicated the result to his sacked and banned team boss and manager Flavio Briatore during the international television segment of the post-race FIA press conference.
Two British newspapers claim Spaniard Alonso, 27, could be in trouble for his tribute to the convicted cheat.
"(Alonso) may face censure from the FIA after he upset the governing body", it is written in The Independent.
Another article, this time in the Daily Mirror, said F1 officials were "fuming" after the Briatore cheerio.
"The words caused furor in the paddock", said the newspaper.
Renault to name Alonso replacement next week (GMM) Renault will name the Ferrari-bound Fernando Alonso's replacement for the 2010 season "next week", the French team announced at Suzuka on Thursday.
In a statement, Enstone based Renault - although having previously parted with the Spaniard when he switched for a single season to McLaren in 2007 - wished the 27-year-old "all the best" for the "next phase of his career with a new team".
It is believed that Alonso's move is about to trigger a domino effect in the frenetic 2010 drivers' market, with the next announcements likely to be Robert Kubica to Renault and Kimi Raikkonen back to McLaren.
Another likely move is Williams' Nico Rosberg and Brawn's Rubens Barrichello swapping seats, and possibly Timo Glock to the newly Qadbak-owned Sauber team.
Alonso-Ferrari deal opens the floodgates The announcement that Fernando Alonso will join Ferrari next season opens up a can of worms as far as the F1 driver market is concerned.
The immediate speculation is around the destination of out-going Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen. With an estimated salary of $51 million per year, the Finn’s pay-off, which Ferrari only recently started pushing for to see him released a year early, is a big one. And it says an awful lot about how Maranello feels about his extra-curricular pursuits and laid-back approach to racing: fine when you’re winning races and championships, not so fine when you’re not.
Most have him down for a move back to his old team McLaren. All good for them, you have to say. On paper it looks like the deal out of hell with two of the biggest stars in the sport racing against each other – and the team knows all about that.
Alonso could earn 150m euros at FerrariUPDATE (GMM) Ferrari has denied media reports about the impressive terms of Fernando Alonso's new contract.
Some Spanish reports this week suggested that the 27-year-old former double world champion will earn 25m euros per year, which is less than the retainer enjoyed since 2007 by the man he replaces, Kimi Raikkonen.
It has also been reported that in addition to Spaniard Alonso's 3 year deal are contracted options for 3 further years, and that terminating Raikkonen's contract is costing Ferrari a whopping 45m euros, partly paid for by the Spanish sponsor Santander.
"The numbers talked about have absolutely nothing to do with reality," said a report on Ferrari's official website.
"It's easy to write numbers, forgetting that the world has changed recently. At Ferrari a lot of calculating is done and attention is not only paid to the costs of the operational structure, but also as far as the drivers are concerned."
The Ferrari report also scoffed at suggestions that Alonso is set to bring with him from Renault some of his preferred engineers.
"It's quite funny reading about the arrival of technicians, as if there weren't any professionals in Maranello, able to plan and manage victorious single seaters and drivers," said the Italian team.
Hockenheim F1 future set for final axe? No.UPDATE #11 (GMM) Formula One Administration (FOA), the company led by Bernie Ecclestone, has taken on some of the "business risks" of promoting future German grands prix at Hockenheim.
It was announced on Wednesday that, after recording annual multi million euro losses in recent races, the circuit's future on the F1 calendar has been secured.
Until 2018, Hockenheim will share the German GP in an alternating scheme with the Nurburgring.
It had been believed that only the regional government was contributing to the solution, but the race organizers confirmed in a statement that FOA has agreed with Hockenheim to share the "business risks and opportunities" of hosting the race.
In a news conference, Hockenheim mayor Dieter Gummer did not want to give any more away, but he confirmed that the city no longer has to worry about a projected 6 million euro loss for the 2010 event.
09/30/09 Formula One racing will continue at Germany's Hockenheimring until 2018, it was confirmed Wednesday. The news comes after the regional council where Hockenheim is situated approved late Tuesday a contract between the circuit's management company Hockenheim GmbH, the mayor of the area's town council and the Formula One Association (FOA).
Under the deal, FOA and Hockenheim GmbH will share the financial burden of hosting the event, meaning the 2010 German Grand Prix will now take place at the circuit as planned.
Hockenheim and the Nurbürgring host the German GP on alternate years for financial reasons.
09/30/09 (GMM) Yet another opportunity for the future of Hockenheim's formula one race to be clarified has passed.
The state premier Gunther Oettinger recently explained that the government factions would have a decision about funds for the track, scheduled to host the German GP next year, by 29 September (Tuesday).
But the German news agency DPA reports that the parliament wants to ensure that any state support flows only into infrastructure, presumably as opposed to the sport's coffers.
DPA however said that if the parliament's conditions are upheld, there would need to be more negotiations with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.
"We are not quite there yet," economics minister Ernst Pfister said in Stuttgart when asked to give clarity about the race.
He added that he is confident "we will have found a way in eight to ten days".
09/22/09 (GMM) Although allocated a firm July date on next year's F1 calendar, the 2010 German grand prix is not yet set in stone.
Reports in Germany insist that the Hockenheim circuit must first receive the final approval from its local state Baden-Wuerttemberg.
Track boss Karl Josef Schmidt told the news agency SID that the agreement could take "a few days".
The uncertainty arose in June, when the Hockenheim council said it was no longer willing to absorb annual multi million euro race losses.
Kahne using R5 Engine at Kansas...and beyond From a Kasey Kahne, Teleconference Transcript on September 29, 2009:
Q: What engine will you run this weekend at Kansas? Kahne: I'm using the R5 again this weekend, the same as what we had last week.
Q: Do you anticipate going back to the R6? Kahne: I think it will be all about reliability. If they think they can get it back where it's really reliable like the R5, then I would think we would probably go back to it. What I told them was that we have some points to make up and if we have anymore issues where we fall outside of the top 35, we're screwed & we have no chance. The very little power that you gain with the R6, it's not nearly enough power for me to say let's take a chance. We definitely want it to be reliable. Maybe we're down a couple horsepower, but that's it. At the end of the day it's not a big deal. Dodge Motorsports/NASCAR PR
Toyota may quit F1, Mercedes committedUPDATE #8 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. Toyota's team boss has indicated the Japanese manufacturer might decide to pull out of formula one.
Amid rumors about the Toyota Motor Corporation's wavering commitment to the sport because of its serious financial losses, Tadashi Yamashina said the cost of competing in F1 is an issue.
"We need to turn it into an F1 where you don't need so much money," he said at a news conference in Tokyo, according to the Yomiuri newspaper.
Toyota's team president John Howett has been at the forefront of the FOTA group's efforts to cut costs, but the Briton was also one of the leading protagonists of the argument against Max Mosley's budget cap.
Yamashina added: "We'll have to consider various issues while bearing in mind our ties with the main (Toyota) company."
Cologne based Toyota has signed the new Concorde Agreement, which binds teams to F1 until the end of 2012, but the team's 2010 budget has not yet been approved by the carmaker's executive committee.
It is said that this can be done at a November 15 meeting at the earliest.
It emerged this week that the team is therefore not in a position to sign up any drivers for next year.
The news about Timo Glock's expiring contract option for 2010 was interpreted by some as the driver having been "fired", but he said in the German press: "I can look around at other teams, because Toyota has to clarify certain things."
Tadashi Yamashina was earlier quoted by the Yomiuri newspaper as indicating that money, relating to the success of the parent company and also cost-cutting efforts within formula one, are issues to consider.
"We will participate for now," he added. "We have to consider a variety of things in relation to our core business.
"Our participation is unclear, depending on our financial results," said Yamashina.
09/09/09 (GMM) Jarno Trulli has played down speculation that Toyota is set to pull out of formula one. With Honda and BMW already calling time on their respective grand prix forays, the signs are rife that Toyota is to be the next car manufacturer to walk away.
It has emerged that the Cologne based team's Japanese parent Toyota Motor Corporation is delaying approval of the 2010 F1 budget until November.
That news is believed to be linked with Williams' decision to look around for another engine supplier, as well as drivers Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock featuring in the 2010 driver market.
But amid the rumors about Toyota's future, reports late last week suggested the more likely outcome for the team is a drastically reduced budget for 2010.
Trulli told the Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport: "Toyota has asserted that there is no reason to depart from formula one."
Audi continues to talk to IRL about global FIA engine Dr. Ullrich told Gordon Kirby at Petit LeMans this past weekend that Audi is continuing to talk to the IRL about its new formula for 2012. He said Audi may be interested in competing if the IRL's new rules embrace the FIA's 'global engine'--a four-cylinder which can be turbocharged and raced in various forms across a broad range of categories from F1 to sports cars, Indy cars and rallying. It will be interesting to see if this dream is able to navigate the many agendas that drive worldwide motorsport's numerous categories and emerge in a uniformed form.
"We are talking," Dr. Ullrich said about the IRL's new formula. "It comes with the FIA's idea of the global engine concept which as you know is under development. It looks positive and if they end up in two or three years where there is an engine configuration available that you can race more or less in all the bigger series then it's going to be quite efficient for a group like ours to be able to do some different racing activities with the same basic engine. It would be very efficient."
Serbian Stefan F1 team to make it on grid in 2010 The Serbian Stefan Grand Prix team believes that it still holds a realistic chance of lining up on the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix grid next year. Furthermore, the Belgrade-based outfit is confident that, in the event of a presently accepted team dropping out, it will be selected by the FIA.
Currently, 13 teams are set to join the 2010 starting grid with governing body the FIA requesting permission for a 14th entry - the newly-bought Qadbak Sauber team - to bolster the line-up to 28 cars. However, having taken into account the opinion of Bernie Ecclestone that some new teams may not be ready in time, Stefan Grand Prix (SGP) hopes to benefit.
Heidfeld could return to Williams in 2010 (GMM) Nick Heidfeld could be set to return to his team of 2005, Williams.
The German veteran, 32, drove for the then BMW-powered team alongside Mark Webber, before moving with the Munich manufacturer to its new works team.
Other drivers linked with Williams for 2010 are Heikki Kovalainen, Rubens Barrichello and Timo Glock, with the Grove based team expected to part not only with the Brawn-bound Nico Rosberg but also his Toyota-backed teammate Kazuki Nakajima.
Technical director Sam Michael admits he still rates Heidfeld highly.
RPM may race Ford in 2009 Kasey Kahne is using the "older" R5 this weekend at Dover. RPM officials are hoping to get an R6 in the car next week at Kansas. RPM's other two drivers, Reed Sorenson and AJ Allmendinger, have used an R6 this year, and Allmendinger could find himself with a Roush Yates engine by the end of the season. RPM is planning to switch to Ford next year as part of a planned merger with Yates Racing, and RPM would like to race a Ford if it can before the end of the 2009 season. Scene Daily
Menard a key element in pending Petty-Yates deal? The two big unknowns about the pending merger between Richard Petty Motorsports and Yates Racing can be summed up in two words: "When?" and "If."
The two sides have executed a letter of intent and are working toward finalizing the deal. The new organization will continue under the Richard Petty Motorsports name and will switch from Dodge to Ford next season.
According to a joint release two weeks ago at Richmond, the team's lineup will include current RPM drivers Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and A.J. Allmendinger as well as Yates driver Paul Menard.
Team co-owner Richard Petty estimated Sept. 12 at Richmond that the deal could be concluded within two weeks, but that projection now appears optimistic, as the parties are still ironing out the details.
Ferrari not expecting Massa back in 2009?UPDATE (GMM) Ferrari's team boss has refused to completely rule out a return before the end of the 2009 season for the recovering Brazilian driver Felipe Massa.
Massa, 28, sustained serious head injuries at July's Hungarian round of the world championship, but has already announced he intends to race karts at events in Brazil in November and December.
Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali then revealed that Massa is already back in physical training, and is set to get at the wheel of a go-kart this week.
Domenicali was therefore asked by reporters in Singapore if a return to Massa's number 3 Ferrari can be expected at any of the remaining races of this season.
"I don't want to exclude anything, but we need to be cautious," he is quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph.
Domenicali is also quoted as saying by sports.fr: "He will be back to 100 per cent, but there is no need to rush anything."
09/01/09 It was a long day yesterday for Felipe Massa, seen by doctors. The Ferrari driver flew to Miami on Sunday for some important check ups carried out by Professor Stephen Olvey, Head of the Jackson Memorial Hospital Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit.
The checks (neurometric and impact tests, cognitive capacity tests) all had a positive outcome, just like the eye exam: everything is in order for Felipe to get back to racing. Now there has just to be carried out some plastic surgery at the brain box, where the spring at the accident at the Hungaroring hit his helmet. The surgery will take place in the upcoming days. After a short convalescence Felipe can then gradually start with physical preparations.
“I’m very happy about the results,” Felipe told the official Ferrari website before boarding the plane back to Sao Paulo. “After the small surgery in the next days I can finally start to go to the gym to get back into shape and drive some tests in karts. On the track with a Formula 1 single-seater? Let’s take it step by step: at the moment I’m concentrating on taking up physical activities, which is a great step forward.”
Naturally the results were received with great joy and satisfaction at Maranello with the prospect to be able to count on Felipe 100% for the start of the next racing season. Ferrari PR
Canon may extend Brawn GP sponsor deal (GMM) An official of the printer company Canon has refused to rule out a longer-term sponsorship of the British formula one team Brawn.
The firm's red logo was featured prominently on the sidepods of the Mercedes powered cars in Singapore, in a one-off deal with the company's Singapore arm.
But it was rumored in the Singapore paddock that Canon's Tokyo based parent may be interested in reviving its full association with formula one, which dates back to a prominent deal with Williams in the 80s.
"All we know is that Canon worldwide will be watching this weekend's events with great interest and we'll see the feedback later," Canon Singapore director Andrew Koh told the Straits Times newspaper.
Alonso's Ferrari move to be announced Thursday (GMM) Fernando Alonso will this week be confirmed as a Ferrari driver for 2010 and beyond, according to reports.
The German Auto Motor und Sport claims the deal will be announced by the Italian team on Thursday at the Suzuka circuit in Japan.
"It is a possibility, but it is not guaranteed," team boss Stefano Domenicali was quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph in Britain, when asked if Ferrari's next driver lineup will be known in Japan.
The newspaper said lawyers were working hard in Singapore last weekend on the finer details of Kimi Raikkonen's release from his 2010 contract.
The Finn will reportedly return to his team of 2002-2006, with McLaren and Ferrari's mutual sponsor Santander involved in the financial details of the move.
Team boss Martin Whitmarsh was giving little away on Sunday, but he did admit that it is his job to field the best drivers possible, while admitting he has been disappointed with Lewis Hamilton's current teammate Heikki Kovalainen.
And the Briton is quoted as saying by Auto Motor und Sport: "We regard Kimi to be one of the biggest talents in the sport."
It is believed that Hamilton, as well as his father and manager Anthony, are not keen on the prospect of lining up with 29-year-old Raikkonen.
"At the moment I'm very happy with how things are in the team but we have to see what happens," said Hamilton.
Toyota to ditch both drivers for ride-buyers According to reports emerging from the Singapore Grand Prix paddock, both Toyota drivers, Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli, have been told that their services will not be required for their 2010 driver line up because, due to Toyota budget cuts, the team is seeking funded drivers.....so say the rumors.
Both men have been told that should no suitable ride buyers be found by next January, and they have not signed a deal to race with any other team, then they might rehire them.
Mears to get the axe?UPDATE Richard Childress Racing hasn't picked up the option on Casey Mears' contract and likely won't unless a sponsor is found to keep four cars in the organization. And even that's not a given. "If we don't have the funding to do it, I don't want to hold him back from getting another ride," team owner Richard Childress said Friday at Dover International Speedway. Mears signed a one-year deal, with an option for a second, to drive the#07 with Jack Daniel's as the sponsor. Jack Daniel's announced earlier in the week it will not return in 2010. Childress said the goal is to remain a four-car organization, noting a personal responsibility for keeping as many RCR employees as possible under tough economic times. If potential suitors aren't interested in Mears, who is 20th in points, sources said the organization may be forced to turn to another driver. "It all depends on sponsorship," Childress said. "Casey has done a good job. It's just unfortunate circumstances around Jack Daniel's to have to leave the sport." ESPN.com
09/26/09 With the announcement this week that Jack Daniels will not continue as a sponsor for the #07 Chevy, Casey Mears finds himself in a predicament for 2010. "I don't know what we're doing yet," Mears said. "I do know that Richard (Childress, team owner) is working hard to secure sponsorship for the fourth team." According to team sources, several potential sponsors toured the Richard Childress Racing campus in Welcome, N.C. this week. Possible driver/sponsor combinations for the fourth team could include a deal with Hall of Fame Racing/Ask.com or Paul Menard with the Menards brand. Another name that continues to be mentioned is Bobby Labonte. Childress admitted on Friday that there has been interest from sponsors, but would not elaborate on specifics. Mears signed a three-year deal last August that locked him in for 2009. The final two seasons were contingent on performance and Mears said that he is "just short" on the stipulations. FoxSports
Turkey to be dropped from 2010 calendar (GMM) On the face of it, F1 recently presented a healthy 19 race dates for the 2010 calendar.
But so many of those venues are under a cloud: Canada and Germany are subject to the signing of contracts, Britain's two alternative circuits are not guaranteed races, Spa's racing license has been revoked, and South Korea's new venue is only half built.
Meanwhile, the latest uncertainty surrounds the May 30 allocation for the 2010 Turkish grand prix. Istanbul is therefore due to host a race within days of the Monaco GP, and the logistical impracticality of that prospect has been discussed this weekend by the FOTA group.
According to rumors, the most likely outcome is that the race, promoted currently by Bernie Ecclestone but not expected to retain a long-term presence on the calendar, is dropped altogether.
Officially, the Turkish GP, criticized for attracting so small a crowd earlier this year, is due to move to June 6 if the negotiations with Montreal fall through, which would give teams a more feasible time-frame to travel to the venue.
NASCAR considering more 2-day weekends NASCAR is exploring the possibility of more two-day weekends for 2010 in an effort to help organizations save money. Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition, said such scenarios typically are considered every year, but with tough economic times there is more support from organizations than in the past. Pemberton didn't know what the savings would be, but it has been estimated that it costs $300,000 to $600,000 per car for an average three-day weekend. Cutting a small portion of that would result in millions for some organization over the course of a 36-race season. Pemberton said the response from organizations and fans over cutting the Atlanta race on Labor Day weekend from three to two days has been positive. He added that changing the length of the weekend depends on the number of events scheduled at the track. For instance, last weekend's race at New Hampshire would have been tough with the number of smaller series competing in addition to Sprint Cup and Trucks and no lights. NASCAR also is finalizing plans to move to more consistent start times -- 1 p.m. for most East Coast races, 3 or 4 p.m. for West Coast -- as the NFL has. Pemberton said that not only will make it easier for fans, but save money if teams get home earlier on Sunday night and shorten the work week. NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said the governing body is focused on getting start times finalized before changing the length of the weekend. ESPN.com
Lotus has a shortlist of driversUPDATE Malaysia's 1Malaysia F1 Team for the 2010 season is likely to feature a driver with vast F1 experience to lead the charge, so, a homegrown talent to spearhead the Lotus F1 Team in the debut season next year is unlikely to happen.
Not until the chosen one is ready to enter the big league and compete with the big boys of F1, according to Lotus F1 Team Principal, Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes.
So for now, the search is on for a driver with the experience; the temperament and the proven skills to carry the Malaysian flag next season.
And probably that's why Fernandes is here for the Singapore F1 Grand Prix to seek out and maybe finalize a deal to bring a proven F1 name on board.
People like Kimi Raikkonen of the Ferrari team and former world champion Fernando Alonso of the Renault Team, last year's Singapore GP winner, are said to be the team's target.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Singapore GP at the Marina Circuit here today, Fernandes said that the team is in F1 not to finish last.
Piquet may seek race drive in IRLUPDATE #2 (GMM) Although blacklisted by many in the pitlane, Nelson Piquet Jr will find another drive in formula one, according to the sport's chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.
The 23-year-old Brazilian was sacked by former Renault boss Flavio Briatore earlier this year, and he then blew the whistle on what became known as crash-gate, having admitted to crashing on purpose in Singapore last year.
2010 team Manor's current boss John Booth suggested earlier this week that he still rated Piquet Jr highly.
But when his comments were interpreted by some as suggesting Piquet might race for Booth next year, likely team sponsor Virgin - via Virgin F1's expected boss Alex Tai - said categorically in Singapore that the team would never work with cheats.
But Ecclestone told the Daily Express: "Piquet will get another drive. He's a driver who does as he's told. That's what any team boss would want. And they don't all do that."
Piquet is also linked with a seat at the new Spanish team Campos. [Editor's Note: Did we not tell you that Bernie would not let the famous piquet name get to the IRL?]
09/25/09 Alex Tai, the Virgin board member responsible for group sponsorship who is set to become team boss when the lifestyle brand confirms its involvement with Manor, made it clear in Singapore on Friday that his company would never be associated with a driver who had broken the rules.
Speaking to AUTOSPORT in the paddock, Tai said, "We will make our plans known after the end of the season," said Tai. "I don't believe it is professional to in any way talk about our plans while we are sponsoring another team this year, namely Brawn - who happen to be leading both championships and who I personally believe will win the championships.
"However, what I can say, is that as a director of the main board of Virgin, I can assure you that we would never have anybody in a team sponsored by us who cheats."
09/23/09 (GMM) Crash-gate conspirator Nelson Piquet Jr has revealed that he may seek a race drive across the Atlantic ocean for the 2010 season.
The 23-year-old Brazilian, who was not punished for his actions in the 2008 Singapore grand prix due to his whistleblower immunity granted by the FIA, has indicated he intends to return to formula one next year.
"I am aware that because of this (scandal) it will be difficult," Piquet said during an interview with Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
"Some people will be afraid that the same thing will happen. But this was an unique case and I have learned from it. If I can't find a place in F1, perhaps for one year I will go to America and try to do a good job there until the waves have calmed down a bit. I was there in August for a week and spoke with some teams," he revealed.
[Editor's Note: This is tactical ploy by Piquet because he knows darn well that Bernie Ecclestone will not let the famous Piquet name get away to IndyCar, especially with the rumored Brazil IndyCar race. Piquet is from Brazil so he would add nicely to the list of drivers from Brazil that IndyCar would bring to the event. BTW we hear the race is 50/50 and may not happen, which is why the IRL has yet to announce the venue in Brazil.]
Telefonica to sponsor Campos (GMM) Telefonica is set to be the main sponsor of the new Spanish team Campos in 2010.
But despite the expected support of the telecommunications giant, team managing director and F1 veteran Daniele Audetto has revealed that the FIA's budget cap row with FOTA earlier this year endangered the project.
"The abolishment of the budget limit threw our plans in disarray," he told Auto Motor und Sport. "We were counting on (a budget of) 45m euros, and suddenly in 2010 you can spend double."
Audetto also revealed that a Spanish sponsor that was in talks with Campos is now hesitating.
"The Renault scandal was not good for us," he explained. "The sponsors were holding back until there was clarity."
Rumors link David Richards with Renault buyout (GMM) As Renault assesses the damage to its image and counts the fleeing sponsors, David Richards has entered the frame as the crash-gate scandal rolls on.
Media reports, including by the German news agency SID as well as the British broadcaster BBC, claim the Prodrive and Aston Martin chief Richards may be waiting in the wings to take over the French squad.
BBC claimed that the Briton, who was team principal for a time in the Benetton days at the end of the 90s, may be willing to buy the team for $50 million USD.
Germany's SID, meanwhile, said the 57-year-old met recently with Renault SA CEO Carlos Ghosn at the Frankfurt motor show, and also visited the team's British headquarters.
Taking over from the ousted and banned former team boss Flavio Briatore as of this weekend as managing director is Jean-Francois Caubet, previously Renault's communications and marketing chief.
IRL closing on title sponsor?UPDATE #2 Terry Angstadt, the president of the Indy Racing League's commercial division, said Thursday that the series is close to signing a title sponsor for 2010 and beyond. The company IRL officials have been talking to is Phillips-Van Heusen, which has Izod as a brand. Izod is already in partnership with IndyCar. IndyStar
08/25/09AutoWeek reports that IRL officials say that they are nearing a deal for a series title sponsor in 2010, but the company is not Firestone, according to Terry Angstadt, president of the Indy Racing League's commercial division.
08/06/09 Terry Angstadt, president of the Indy Racing League’s commercial division, admits the search for a series title sponsor has been up and down. “It’s been a bit schizophrenic,” he told IBJ recently. The heat from the series’ teams to get a deal done has been ratcheting up despite the lagging economy.
“The on-track product, I think as you saw at Kentucky, is good,” said Penske Racing President Tim Cindric, shown above, right with his boss Roger Penske. “It comes down to promotion and perception. We need someone in the mainstream who believes in the series, and I think the perception will change. The popularity of any sports property has a lot to do with the marketing dollars behind it.”
BMW drivers could face grid penalty Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld might face a grid penalty towards the end of the season as both drivers have just one fresh engine left for the rest of the season. BMW Sauber F1 team boss Mario Theissen now wonders if that might be enough to end the season with.
Speaking about the team's engine situation Theissen said: "The cause of our engine problems in qualifying at Monza was a quality issue with the valve gear, and this means we can't use either of the engines again. Both drivers ran their engines from Spa in Sunday's race at Monza, which leaves them with one more new engine each and several used ones for the remainder of the season.
"The key question will now be whether these will be enough. If not, we will be forced to use a ninth engine and take a ten-place grid penalty as a result."
No. 8 team returning in 2010? The folks at Dale Earnhardt Inc. are working at bringing the #8 car to both the Nationwide and Cup series next year. The plan would be for Jeffrey Earnhardt, grandson of Dale, to drive the #8 car in the Nationwide series and have that team based out of the DEI shops in Mooresville, N.C. If sponsorship can be found, the #8 car would return to Cup and be based out of the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing shop in Concord, N.C. "We do have plans to bring the #8 car back for next season,'' Jeff Steiner executive VP and general manager at DEI, told Dustin Long Wednesday afternoon. "We are working with a number of sponsors. It's not a for sure deal. We haven't announced that we are officially bringing it back. .. I don't think we would see anything with the #8 car at the Sprint Cup level in 2009. I think based where we're at with sponsor discussions, I don't foresee that happening this year, but it is one of our aspirations to get that car back on the track together with the #1 and the #42.''
So, would the #8 come back fulltime or would it be acceptable to bring it back part time in 2010?"I think we would consider something part time,'' Steiner told me. "In today's economy and today's NASCAR, we need to look at all potential opportunities to get either young developmental drivers or other people out on the track and if we have an opportunity to do that and get the #8 back on the track in 2010, I think we would certainly consider that.
As for Jeffrey Earnhardt: "That would be something we would be looking at running him in an #8 fulltime in the Nationwide level,'' Steiner said. "We're still working on sponsorships. Our intention ... having him in a family number. I think we're hopeful of a fulltime schedule for Jeffrey. We're pretty bullish on that potential for 2010." Roanoke Times
F1 rumor mill in full swing The new F1 team Campos Meta will bring a new Dallara F1 car to the grid in 2010. FIA inspectors have visited the headquarters of the Dallara to verify the validity of the project. The first test is scheduled for January 10th. Word is that Adrian Campos will be in Singapore this weekend to attend a FOTA meeting. As for their drivers some insist Vitaly Petrov and Giorgio Pantano, or Pedro de la Rosa.
All is not so clear with USF1 and Manor. The American team based in Charlotte has not yet found its base in Europe, has not yet shown a real product. They say that they can use a car from another manufacturer, perhaps Lola, who was among those who had launched its own entry then were rejected by the FIA. We hear the owners Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson have started negotiations with Toyota to get the Japanese engines instead of the Cosworth. Why? When in doubt, follow the money.....We now hear that Kazuki Nakajima could be one of their drivers fully funded by Toyota.
As for Manor, the John Booth team will have the support of Richard Branson of Virgin, who will leave Brawn. Nick Wirth (former Simtek) is working on the design of the car. Wirth's work, as revealed by Autosprint, is CFD, with the computer simulation replacing the wind tunnel. We hear that British F3 driver Max Chilton could be one of the drivers despite little experience, and Adam Carroll. We will update our F1 Silly Season page with this info a bit later.
Hulkenberg signed to race Williams in 2010UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. Williams will confirm this weekend that new GP2 champion Nico Hulkenberg has been selected to make his F1 debut with the British team in 2010.
Germany's Sport Bild said the information was admitted directly by Willi Weber, the 22-year-old's famous manager.
Weber, who also handled the ultra-successful career of Michael Schumacher and negotiated many of the same sponsors to also back Hulkenberg, was also quoted by the publication as saying the outcome of the 'crash-gate' saga was good news for Williams.
"It is good news for formula one and for Williams that Renault is continuing," said Weber, referring to the declaration this week by Renault lawyer Ali Malek QC that despite giving the matter "serious consideration", Renault's parent company has decided to stay in F1.
"The engine question for Williams to date was not clarified," Weber continued. "Now there will be talks with Renault."
09/18/09 (GMM) Nico Hulkenberg will definitely make his formula one debut with the Williams team in 2010, the German newspaper Bild-Zeitung reports.
The newspaper said Sir Frank Williams has taken up an option on the 22-year-old newly-crowned GP2 champion's existing contract, which this year saw him act as the British team's reserve and test driver.
"I cannot confirm that," Hulkenberg's manager Willi Weber said. "But I will be pleased if that is what happens."
Bild said Hulkenberg has been signed to replace his German compatriot Nico Rosberg.
Prost head of queue for Briatore's jobUPDATE #4 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Contrary to speculation and his offer to "help" Renault, quadruple world champion Alain Prost was on Wednesday not named the French team's new formula one boss.
However, the team issued a statement announcing only a "temporary" new management structure "which will be in place from today until the end of the 2009 season".
Replacing the departed Flavio Briatore as team principal is existing technical director Bob Bell, a 51-year-old Ulsterman.
The similarly departed Pat Symonds was Renault's executive director of engineering, but his vacated role has not been directly filled. Instead, Bell is to also be the chief technical officer.
Meanwhile, existing head of marketing and communications Jean-Francois Caubet takes on Briatore's other role as managing director.
09/23/09 (GMM) A deal with Alain Prost may be concluded imminently so that the four time world champion can travel to Singapore to act as Renault's new team principal as soon as this weekend's night race in the Asian city-state.
With Flavio Briatore ousted by the French team amid the 'crash-gate' scandal and now banned for life by the FIA, 54-year-old Prost is considered the favorite to replace the flamboyant Italian.
Reports in the French press say the signing of a contract to this effect is now imminent, however a team spokeswoman referred only to the media statement of earlier this week, which said more information would be issued "in the next few days".
The winner of 51 grands prix, who drove for Renault between 1981 and 1983 and ran his own team between 1997 and until it failed in 2001, was coy when again asked by the media about the rumors.
"It's difficult to say," he is quoted as saying by Europe 1 radio. "Firstly it would be necessary that a proposal is made to be.
"Renault's image has been damaged, and if I can help Renault to restore its image through formula one ..."
Barnhart hints new IndyCar may not change muchUPDATE #2 Another reader writes, Dear AR1.com, There should be no question that the new IndyCar needs to be the new ultra modern design. The series desperately needs something new to keep it going into the future. Staying with a relatively similar car to what there is now is not the answer. I'm not gonna repeat everything that has already been said about the current car.
As a series, IndyCar needs to take a really hard look at itself and get the job done. This represents a great opportunity for the series. The new car proposed is different, yes, but we need different. We need a modern and fresh design. I've been a die hard open wheel fan for many years and I'm starting to waver because of the poor outlook shown in series decisions and management. If not this new car, bring back the CART design of the late 90's. Those looked more sexy than what we have now. And that is unacceptable. Reggie Corona Brownsville, Texas.
09/23/09 Readers respond in dismay to Barnhart's statement:
The first reader says, I think that new IndyCar is the way to go...or at least some sort of evolution toward that. The sponsor space is fantastic and highly visible, and also provides additional protection to the driver. I would like to see some kind of rear wing on there to maintain the look of an IndyCar as we have come to know it.
But that design is the bomb. They would be fools not to do some version of that car. Steve Morrison
Another writes, If you build it they will come ...... or at least they might .....
When will they get it that a new product is desperately needed .......
Honda is the only one that can step up and save this series ..... if we leave it to the current IRL management this car will never be built. Let's not forget that it was this IRL management team that produced the ugliest race car ever built - today's IndyCar, deemed by many as a Crapwagon. Keith H.
Reading between the lines, Barnhart appears to indicate that he does not want to get too radical with the new IndyCar, even though the one we saw at Indy this year was pretty awesome looking (see below)
09/22/09 During the Indy Japan 300 race weekend at Twin Ring Motegi, IRL President Brian Barnhart said he expects specifications for a new engine and chassis package to be announced in the fourth quarter.
"My anticipation continues to be for the package to roll out in the 2012 season," he said. "We have four manufacturers that have expressed interest in participation in the series beginning in 2012, which in this (economic) environment we feel very good about. So we're continuing dialogue with them and hope to have final word from them in the next couple of months."
Prospective engine manufacturers from around the globe, who initially met at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in June 2008, are in agreement on a specification, while the league continues to explore parallel paths in terms of chassis design.
"We have two significantly different chassis packages in terms of appearance and how different and radical they are from our current car," Barnhart said. "The one is so radically different it will entail significantly more in terms of R&D, cost and time. It's kind of out there.
Spa loses right to host F1 raceUPDATE #2 This is downgraded to 'false' now. The Walloon Ministers today decided to lift the provisional suspension, allowing for a minimum period of six weeks all races to take place. Strange things sometimes happen in Belgium.
09/23/09 (GMM) Belgium has joined Canada and Germany in the uncertainty about their spots on the 2010 formula one calendar.
Canada is yet to agree a contract with Formula One Management, and the Hockenheim circuit in Germany is still negotiating after saying it was no longer willing to absorb annual million euro losses.
Belgium also has a spot on next year's race schedule, but it emerged on Wednesday that the famous and popular Spa-Francorchamps circuit has had its operating license revoked by a local administrative court.
The license has been rescinded until 2026, upon request by a board of local residents complaining about noise, according to the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.
It is believed that the Spa operators were ordered to submit an environmental impact study, which has been denounced by the court as "seriously inadequate and incomplete".
"The whole viability of the circuit may be questioned," circuit director Pierre-Alain Thibaut, who vowed to contest the decision, said.
09/23/09 Reports in the Belgian press on Wednesday explain how the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, scene of the country's Formula One race, has lost its right to hold the event for another seventeen years. It is believed that the decision comes following a 2007 complaint posted by people living in the vicinity of the legendary track. With Spa having lost its place on the F1 calendar in both 2003 and 2006, the races of 2010 and many more years also appear to be in doubt, according to reports in the country from Lesoir.
The publication describes how the State Council has suspended the license for the Spa-Francorchamps circuit and related facilities to be able to host a Grand Prix until the year 2026, stressing that the decision comes 'more than two years after the introduction of a complaint filed by residents of the circuit and the Mute association'.
"The whole viability of the circuit may be questioned," the circuit Manager is quoted as saying, adding that he will challenge the government's decision. The State Council added the following, regarding noise pollution in the area: 'If it exists, the study of environmental impact is seriously inadequate and incomplete.
The State Council has therefore suspended the operating license.'
A1GP aiming to takeover IRL race in Brazil With rumors that the IndyCar race in Brazil might not happen since the venue has yet to be announced, comes news that A1GP has scheduled their Brazil race on the same day next year - March 14th. It was A1GP that stepped in and took over the highly successful Surfers Paradise race when the IRL walked away from it, so perhaps they are gambling the IRL will eventually walk away from the Brazil race as well. Of course A1GP could run as a support race to the IndyCars, but the risk there is that might actually be faster.
'Distraught' Briatore set to hit back - reports (GMM) Some sections of the media believe Monday was the end of the crash-gate scandal, but a scorned Flavio Briatore may be now readying to hit back.
Spanish motor racing chief Carlos Gracia told the AS newspaper that he believes the 59-year-old Italian might be justified in now pursuing court action to contest his life ban from any participation in motor sport.
"I wouldn't rule out him going to ordinary justice because he has been left without his means of earning a living," said the Spaniard.
It is believed Briatore did receive a late invitation to Monday's World Motor Sport Council meeting, but chose not to attend.
Sections of the Italian press said Briatore might use his rancor to launch a non-FIA sanctioned rival to formula one, and he told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "I am distraught."
Two more ALMS teams eye switch to IRLUPDATE #7 Will Acura return in 2010? We hear the simple answer is “no.” They’ll lease engines (the teams have already bought their ARX-01 and 02 chassis), but that’s all – support for teams and the series, along with HPD work on further development will mostly disappear. It doesn’t take a lot of reading between the lines of the Fernandez Racing announcement of its demise to come to that conclusion.
Lowe's backed Fernandez car
This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. AR1.com asked Fernandez Racing Team Manager Tom Anderson this morning at Mid-Ohio whether his Acura ALMS team was also looking at an entry in IndyCar. Anderson, "We are trying awful hard to do it. We sure would like to." So it looks like the de Ferran, Sharp/Patron and Fernandez/Lowe's ALMS Acura teams are all trying to put together some sort of IndyCar program for 2010. Mark C.
08/07/09 We heard here at Mid-Ohio today that Scott Sharp (Patron Acura team) has some interest in possibly having his ALMS team also do an Indy 500 effort in 2010.
08/03/09 Acura looks increasingly likely to quit its LMP1 prototype program in the American Le Mans Series.
News that all three of its teams--De Ferran Motorsports, Highcroft Racing and Fernandez Racing--are eyeing a move to the IndyCar Series has fueled speculation that the sports-car effort will come to an end and supports AutoWeek sources that insist that the decision has been made.
“[The future of the Acura program] doesn't look good from everything you hear and everything you see,” said team owner Adrian Fernandez. “The future of [LMP] prototypes doesn't look good to me.”
Honda Performance Development boss Erik Berkman was unavailable for comment. An Acura spokesman said that an announcement on Acura's 2010 racing plan is tentatively scheduled for early September, possibly prior to Petit Le Mans on Sept. 26.
Acura is understood to be unwilling to continue in LMP1 with De Ferran and Highcroft unless they have real opposition. Acura slashed the P1 development program when it became known last December that Audi would not continue in the ALMS. AutoWeek
07/23/09 Another reader writes, Dear AR1, I just wanted to comment on the speculation of Acura teams switching to the IRL due to a lack of competition in ALMS when there is similar lack of competition in the IRL. Unfortunately, no one wants to discuss this in the forums.
Uhh, it's called contracts and cutting costs. I suspect Honda is quite simply pulling the Acura brand from racing and from competition with itself in many respects. Honda's financial woes mirror virtually every other manufacturer involved in the North American automotive market, and quite frankly, I doubt Honda has seen much return on their investment in the ALMS programs. They have contracts with de Ferran and Fernandez, so they might as well pull them in under the Honda banner in the IRL where they both were successful for the duration of their contracts. If I recall correctly, the Acura ALMS program was started prior to the merger of Champ Car and the IRL and provided Honda Motor Company a piece of the road racing market for their upscale brand. Now that the IRL is about evenly mixed with course types, the ALMS is no longer needed to reach that market. Could we see a switch to the Acura brand in the IRL if we see one or more European brands enter the IRL? I also suspect the Honda crystal ball sees increasingly gloomy days for the ALMS with dwindling car counts. I also might add that their chief rival Toyota is pulling the Lexus brand from the Grand Am at the end of this season, but no one writes a thing about that. John Narvell
07/22/09 A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, Acura would leave ALMS due to no competition to compete in a series (IndyCar) with…umm, no competition? At least in ALMS P2 Acura competes against Mazda and now a Porsche (albeit an independent one). I also have heard that there are chassis and aero configurations done by Wirth Research that would optimize and make the ARX-02a competitive at Le Mans. I don’t know if they have been produced for wind tunnel testing but I have it on good authority that it would not take very long.
Montoya blows off interview, in trouble? Juan Pablo Montoya may be in trouble with NASCAR - certainly with its PR operations -- after an incident in which he blew off a pre-planned satellite interview with a major California Fox affiliate, Sacramento's KTXL. Montoya and NASCAR both are now on that station's D-list. And Sacramento is, of course, the state capital, where governor Arnold Schwarzenegger holds forth. Schwarzenegger typically attends NASCAR events in that state, and will likely be at Southern California's Auto Club Speedway in a few weeks for the California 500 chase race. Montoya was doing a routine round of Sprint Cup championship chase interviews Saturday in advance for the first race of the chase, but when 5 o'clock rolled around, he took off his mike and walked off the NASCAR set. Much to the chagrin of the KTXL reporters who had been patiently awaiting their NASCAR-scheduled spot in the interview line. See the video of the incident and Jim Crandell's commentary about it and NASCAR's waning popularity at fox40.com. MikeMulhern.net
Crew chief changes at Roush There is supposedly a meeting planned at Roush Fenway Racing featuring General Manager Robbie Reiser and representatives from Ford. Could crew chief changes be in RFR's future? One rumor circulating NHMS Sunday morning had veteran crew chief Jimmy Fennig connecting with former Roush racer Jeff Burton at RCR. Not so, Fennig said. "After 13 years with Jack, my goal is to retire from Roush Racing," Fennig said. "But I'm getting too old to be on the road." Another scenario places Fennig in a research and development role. Fennig says testing suits him just fine. FoxSports
Superleague to replace A1GP in Surfers There are concrete rumors SF (Superleague Formula) will replace A1GP at Surfers Paradise ... as their 7th round this season!
To be honest, there is not much choice left for the Surfers Paradise organizers / promoters and SF are now doing really well since they've announced their Sonangol title sponsorship!
We already heard this rumor a few weeks ago and last Saturday at the Nurburgring we heard from a race series organizer from New Zealand that the A1GP NZ round won't happen and we quote him: "A1GP series is not going to happen anymore."
Crashgate boss Flavio Briatore facing life banUPDATE This rumor is now upgraded to 'fact.' Flavio Briatore has in effect been banned indefinitely from all FIA-sanctioned motorsport.
The World Motor Sport Council said that “for an unlimited period, the FIA does not intend to sanction any International Event, Championship, Cup, Trophy, Challenge or Series involving Mr. Briatore in any capacity whatsoever, or grant any license to any Team or other entity engaging Mr. Briatore in any capacity whatsoever. It also hereby instructs all officials present at FIA-sanctioned events not to permit Mr. Briatore access to any areas under the FIA’s jurisdiction. Furthermore, it does not intend to renew any Superlicense granted to any driver who is associated (through a management contract or otherwise) with Mr. Briatore, or any entity or individual associated with Mr. Briatore. In determining that such instructions should be applicable for an unlimited period, the World Motor Sport Council has had regard not only to the severity of the breach in which Mr. Briatore was complicit but also to his actions in continuing to deny his participation in the breach despite all the evidence”.
Flavio Briatore has in effect been banned indefinitely from all FIA-sanctioned motorsport. This will be a blow to the Italian and it means that he will almost certainly now come under scrutiny from the British soccer authorities which have rules about people who are allowed to be owners of teams in the Premier League. This is believed to include a clause which excludes those who have been banned by other sporting federations. In addition to this the FIA says that will not renew any Superlicense granted to any driver who is associated (through a management contract or otherwise) with Briatore, or any entity or individual associated with Briatore.” Pat Symonds, the team's former executive director of engineering, has received a five-year ban for his part in the scandal. However, Fernando Alonso, who won the race after benefiting from the safety car period the crash brought about, was cleared of any involvement.
Vision Racing to add second car?UPDATE Despite struggling to find additional sponsorship, Vision Racing team owner Tony George said Thursday at Motegi that one way or another, he intends to field at least a one-car team in both the IndyCar Series and the Firestone Indy Lights Series next season.
George did indicate, however, that lack of sponsorship has clouded the future of his team – something ironic considering that George is the founder of the Indy Racing League and was the CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation before a dispute with the Hulman-George Family-controlled IMS board of directors led to his ouster on July 1.
NASCAR may give teams some help on testing and springs At NASCAR's crew chiefs meeting here Saturday morning, Sprint Cup teams were given a few tweaks on the car-of-tomorrow and on testing for 2010, but it's unclear if more might be coming.
NASCAR officials are apparently leaning toward okaying Greenville-Pickens Speedway for Cup testing next season, to give teams a less expensive testing venue – a track closer to their Mooresville, N.C., shops. But some teams say they would continue flying/driving down to places like New Smyrna in Florida for testing anyway.
NASCAR banned testing this season at NASCAR tour tracks, ostensibly as a cost-cutting move. However the more well-funded teams have continued testing, flying around the country to whichever tracks they can find that are similar to Cup tracks. Less well-funded teams, however, are essentially left out in the cold.
One championship crew said if NASCAR really wanted to open up a good testing venue, it could let them all test at Charlotte's Lowe's Motor Speedway, which is only a few miles away from most team shops.
Marcus Smith, who runs the Charlotte track for his father's Speedway Motorsports, has said teams are welcomed to use the speedway any time for testing, if NASCAR would give the okay.
NASCAR is also considering letting teams use some different rear springs at Daytona and Talladega, which could either improve handling or speed, depending. More at MikeMulhern.net
Mercedes, BMW eye Rosberg, Ferrari Vettel?UPDATE #7 See related news item.
08/27/09 (GMM) Williams has recognized the likelihood of losing Nico Rosberg to a rival formula one team at the end of the season.
The 24-year-old began his grand prix career with the British outfit in 2006 but is tipped to switch to McLaren-Mercedes for next year.
"We would gladly keep Nico, but he will probably take another option," Williams co-owner and engineering chief Patrick Head is quoted as saying by Germany's Auto Bild Motorsport.
German-born Rosberg, the son of 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg of Finland, has scored all of the Grove based team's 29.5 points so far this season.
07/21/09 (GMM) The signs are growing that Nico Rosberg is set to move from Williams to the Mercedes-powered McLaren team at the end of 2009.
Mercedes competition boss Norbert Haug speaks in ever more flattering tones about the 24-year-old, who is openly assessing his options at the end of his current contract.
He admits he is keen to see a compatriot at the wheel of the so-called 'silver arrows', and McLaren figures have so far been non-committal when asked about Finn Heikki Kovalainen's chances of remaining at the team beyond this season.
"We must set ourselves up to win races and championships, and if this can be done with a German driver, all the better," Haug said in an interview with the SID news agency.
He admits that recent efforts have been made to unite the three-pointed Mercedes star with a German.
Brawn joins McLaren in bidding for RosbergUPDATE See related news item.
(GMM) The championship-leading Brawn GP team has reportedly made an offer to the German driver Nico Rosberg for 2010.
But 24-year-old Rosberg, who currently drives for Williams but is eyeing a more competitive seat after four years with the British team, is more likely to become the first German to drive a works Mercedes since 1955, according to Bild newspaper.
McLaren-Mercedes wants to replace Lewis Hamilton's current teammate Heikki Kovalainen with Rosberg beginning next year, the German publication added.
"It looks good that I can go where I want to go. But I haven't decided yet," he is quoted as saying.
McLaren does have some competition for his services, however, with Bild saying both Williams as well as Brawn would also sign up the son of 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg in 2010.
He said at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend that he wants to have a contract for next year signed within the next few weeks, but Bild warned that his potential teammate Hamilton's father/manager Anthony "is not enthusiastic" about the move.
Bild said Rosberg would be the first German driver of a 'silver arrows' since Karl Kling in 1955.
German media convinced Rosberg will move to McLarenUPDATE #2 See related news item.
09/08/09 McLaren chief Norbert Haug has confirmed that the team are in talks with Nico Rosberg regarding a race seat in 2010.
"Nico is a candidate with whom we are talking," Haug said in a telephone conference.
However, Haug insisted that the Woking-based outfit had not yet decided on their line up.
The 24-year-old, whose contract with Williams expires at the end of the season, has made no secret of the make that he is looking elsewhere for a drive, telling the German Press Agency that: "I have a preference and it's looking good, but there are several options." Planet F1
09/04/09 According to the German newspaper 'Bild', both McLaren Mercedes and Brawn GP are interested in the services of Williams driver Nico Rosberg for the 2010 season. During the Belgian Grand Prix weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, the young German himself said that he would like to have a contract signed for next year within the coming weeks.
McLaren has showed interest in Nico Rosberg for quite some time now and the rumors about a possible move of the German to the Woking-based outfit were only fuelled by the statement of Martin Whitmarsh about Heikki Kovalainen.
In august, Whitmarsh said: "We are not in active discussions with any other drivers at the moment, but it's true to say that we haven't confirmed our driver line-up for next year. A lot of us want to see Heikki get some good results this year and that will ensure that he remains with us."
Despite the interest of Williams and Brawn GP and the fact that Kovalainen scored points in the last four races, Bild is predicting that Rosberg will make a switch to McLaren in 2010.
Rosberg to drive silver Brawn in 2010UPDATE See related news item.
09/09/09 (GMM) Nico Rosberg is going to switch to Brawn to drive a silver-coloured car in 2010, according to the authoritative Swiss publication Blick.
In an article penned by the well-connected journalist veteran Roger Benoit, it is claimed that Mercedes will allow its contract with McLaren to lapse at the end of 2011, and by then the German manufacturer will own 75 per cent of Brawn GP.
Blick said the Brawn buyout is in conjunction with Arab partners, and will see the Brackley-built cars painted silver and with prominent Mercedes branding as of 2010.
Benoit also wrote that Rosberg is in fact not heading to McLaren, the British team that is currently 40 per cent owned by Mercedes, but to Brawn, despite chief executive Nick Fry saying recently he was happy to keep Rubens Barrichello alongside Jenson Button.
Rosberg said coyly last week that although still with multiple options for 2010, he had now at least honed in on one in particular.
"Nico is an option," Mercedes' motor sport president Norbert Haug said on Tuesday. "He is a candidate."
Lakshmi Mittal may buy out Flavio Briatore An order issued to a racing driver to crash his car ended up costing Flavio Briatore, the Italian playboy, his role as manager of Renault's Formula One team. It may also spell the end of his business relationship with Lakshmi Mittal.
The Indian billionaire was persuaded by Briatore to become an investor in Queens Park Rangers football club in 2007, but Mandrake hears that he is now reconsidering his ties with the flamboyant tycoon.
Labonte may not be able to run full race at NHMS After qualifying 8th for Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Bobby Labonte, driver this week, of the #71 TRG Motorsports Chevy said: "I hope we get to race on Sunday. We still don't have enough money to race. We are still looking for a little bit to race on Sunday. Hopefully this will do it. We have a dinner to go to tonight, so maybe some things will come out of it. I am really excited about the run that we had. Slugger (Richard Labbe, crew chief) did a good job. I changed air pressure a little bit and screwed up my first lap some. I knew getting in to three the second lap was definitely going to be better. I was just hoping it was going to more than the normal 2/10ths sometimes. It was. Really proud of all the guys on the TRG Chevy. It was a lot of fun." Chevy Racing
Dodge looking for more teams? Dodge hasn't given up on expanding its 2010 Sprint Cup fleet past the three-car operation of Penske Racing. The manufacturer continues to talk to several small teams with the hope of convincing them to run its product full time. Dodge lost four of its seven full-time cars when Richard Petty Motorsports, which fields the #9 car of Kahne, announced last week it was absorbing Yates Racing and moving to Ford next season. More at ESPN Insider
Mercedes to buy into Brawn teamUPDATE #4 Amid all the furor over the Renault race fixing scandal, this week has seen another important development in shaping the next generation of F1.
I posted last week on the news that Mercedes was set to take a controlling interest in the Brawn team. It appears that the deal has been worked with the backing of the Abu Dhabi investment vehicle Aabar, which bought 9.1% of Mercedes’ parent company Daimler earlier this year. It is the company’s largest shareholder.
Aabar is an interesting company with a wide range of investments in many different sectors. They bought a 32% stake in Virgin Galactic, Sir Richard Branson’s space project recently.
According to Auto Motor und Sport’s Michael Schmidt, who is usually pretty good on these matters, the Mercedes shareholding in the Brawn team will be held by Aabar until the end of 2011, at which point clauses in Mercedes’ contract with McLaren lapse and allow them to take equity in another team.
The suggestion is, however, that from next year onwards the Brawn car will carry more significant Mercedes branding, the three pointed star on the engine cover and so on. There is also a strong suggestion that Nico Rosberg will drive there. One would expect Jenson Button to partner him, but the championship leader is being squeezed in negotiations over a new deal at the moment. With a much bigger picture in play now at Brawn, he may opt to stay with what is clearly a team of the future and settle for what’s on the table.
Brawn is known to have signed a title sponsor and two secondary sponsors for next season. There are others negotiating the remaining positions on the car and Mercedes’ involvement will attract others.
The team are keeping the details close to their chests, but I have heard a suggestion that one of the secondary sponsors may be Orange, the mobile phone giant. It seems that another of the sponsors may be a Germany company and another from the Far East. It is known that LG is interested in sponsoring a team next season, in addition to its extensive spend with Bernie Ecclestone and FOM thus far, but I have not heard any direct connection with Brawn yet. James Allen on F1
09/08/09 (GMM) Norbert Haug on Tuesday remained tight-lipped about speculation regarding Mercedes-Benz's approach to formula one for the 2010 season.
It was expected that the German manufacturer would unveil its plans for next year at Monza this weekend, but competition director Haug in a teleconference said he was "not sure" that timetable could now be met.
The delay is surely due to reports that Mercedes is close to buying into the Brawn team, and how this might affect the engine deal that was expected to be reached with Red Bull Racing.
It seems Red Bull might now be keener to simply stay put with Renault power, leading to suggestions that Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head's visit at the Brands Hatch DTM race last weekend could be the prelude to a Williams-Mercedes deal.
1 new engine left for BMW drivers As revealed in the Singapore GP preview, both BMW Sauber drivers will be facing a tough situation regarding the engine usage. According to Mario Theissen, each will have just 1 new engines left plus several used ones. this will pose a challenge to the team.
On the good side, at least the situation is not as bad as for example Vettel's, as it's clear BMW isn't fighting for the Championship and now the future of the team is secured...just pending the FIA's 14th team approval.
Fauzy tipped as Lotus driver Malaysia's Fairuz Fauzy has been hinted as a candidate for a Lotus drive as the legendary name returns to Formula One next year for the first time since 1994. The 26-year-old is currently competing in the World Series by Renault.
Backed by Tony Fernandes' Tune Group, the name behind airline AirAsia, Lotus will be back in F1 next year as former GP2 driver Fauzy is tipped as one candidate for a drive, possibly alongside a more experienced campaigner.
"My personal preference would be to try to get someone with lots of experience, even though he may be ending his career, who can add a lot of experience and develop the car," Fernandes told Reuters.
"Having the right personality - that can transfer knowledge and enjoy working with people, I think is critical - there's no point throwing someone in at the deep end if he's not ready either."
Peter Sauber may be 'Sauber-Ferrari' team boss (GMM) Peter Sauber has refused to rule out returning to the pitwall as the boss of the Qadbak-owned "Sauber-Ferrari" team in 2010.
In an interview with the Swiss newspaper Blick, he said he had been intimately involved in the talks that see the formerly BMW-owned team change hands to a consortium involving unnamed Middle Eastern and European families.
Asked what role he is now going to play in the Hinwil-based outfit he founded in 1993, 65-year-old Sauber answered: "We are probably going to meet again next week and then I will be able to better answer this question."
Asked if he might be appointed team boss, a role he occupied until he sold to BMW at the end of 2005, Sauber said: "If the investors want me as the team head then I will do that.
"That doesn't mean I want to do it, but the fact is I assured these people before the sale that I am at their disposal if they need me, no matter for what role," the Swiss added.
Villeneuve to race full-time in Argentina The former Formula 1 champion is considering the possibility of racing the full 2010 season in the Top Race V6, the Argentinean series in which he will be competing for the third time this weekend, driving a Mercedes-Benz. Villeneuve acknowledged that he would love to return to Formula 1, but as of today his chances are slim.
The Canadian driver is in Argentina competing in what is called the "Race of the Year" of Top Race V6. He previously raced in this series last season and this past July, in the presentation in Interlagos, Brazil.
The former Formula 1 champion, who will drive a Mercedes-Benz, like he did in Sao Paulo, recognized that he could compete in the entire 2010 season in this Argentinean series: "It is possible that in 2010 I will race the entire Top Race season. It is very difficult to reach the maximum speed if one doesn't fully know the car and if you are not testing it continually. This is why I would be happy to race all next year and we are already in talks,” commented Villeneuve.
Crashgate will be Renault's out from F1UPDATE Renault could be gone from Formula One in six weeks despite swerving around the idea of withdrawing immediately from the sport in the wake of the race-fixing scandal which has brought down Flavio Briatore. They face a massive fine of at least $20million (£12.2m) when they face the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council on Monday in Paris, but it is the disgrace which the car company cannot accept.
The departure of Briatore and director of engineering Pat Symonds to avoid a grilling at the hearing came as Renault decided not to contest allegations that Nelson Piquet was ordered to crash his car in the Singapore Grand Prix. That allowed Fernando Alonso, who did not know of the plan, to go on and win.
Renault’s chief operating officer, Patrick Pelata, would not comment on the possibility that the French manufacturer could walk away. The Express
09/14/09 Renault has been rumored to be leaving F1 for a number of years. If they are found guilty of deliberately planning to have Nelson Piquet Jr. crash in Singapore last year so Fernando Alonso could win the race there is a good chance they will be banned from the sport for a period of time. We suspect that if that were to happen Renault will never return to F1. And as for Flavio Briatore, he was planning his retirement anyway. With their star driver, Fernando Alonso rumored to be headed to Ferrari, look for Renault to be the next manufacturer out of F1.
The World Motor Sport Council appear set to review their policy in relation to punishing team members following Formula One’s Renault race-fix scandal.
In deciding not to dispute the allegation made by the FIA, Renault have effectively admitted conspiring with then driver Nelson Piquet Junior of causing a crash to the advantage of Fernando Alonso.
However, it is only Renault who will stand before the 26 members of the Council.
Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds will also now not attend after they resigned from their posts on Wednesday. Under FIA regulations, as neither Briatore nor Symonds are no longer associated with a license holder — that applies to drivers and teams only — no formal action may be taken against them under the International Sporting Code.
Briatore to be driven out of F1 - FactUPDATE This rumor is now 'fact.' The Renault Formula One team issued the following press release on Wednesday:
The ING Renault F1 Team will not dispute the recent allegations made by the FIA concerning the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.
It also wishes to state that its managing director, Flavio Briatore and its executive director of engineering, Pat Symonds, have left the team.
Before attending the hearing before the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris on 21 September 2009, the team will not make any further comment.
09/15/09 Flavio Briatore is likely to be driven out of Formula One within the next 48 hours unless he can convince Renault they can successfully defend the charge of fixing last season’s Singapore Grand Prix.
The FIA have accumulated a huge weight of evidence against Renault’s flamboyant team principal, all of which Sportsmail has seen, ahead of next Monday’s meeting of the World Motor Sport Council.
Briatore has spent the past fortnight trying to convince the team’s parent company that he did not order Nelson Piquet Jnr to crash his car in the floodlit grand prix, an accident which brought out the safety car that allowed his other driver, Fernando Alonso, to win the race.
It remains to be seen whether they have accepted Briatore’s version of events, though they must surely come to a conclusion as early as Wednesday after FIA president Max Mosley set ‘the middle of the week’ as the deadline for the presentation of Renault’s evidence. By Thursday, at the latest, they must decide whether to back him or sack him. MailOnline
Ecclestone to become Hockenheim promoter? (GMM) Yet another meeting to discuss the future of the German grand prix at Hockenheim passed this week without a definitive solution.
The race's existing private promoters have ruled out absorbing financial losses in future, raising the prospect that Germany, an important and traditional F1 host, will not be featured on the 2010 formula one calendar.
A meeting was held this week between representatives of F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone and the head of state Gunther Oettinger, according to Sudwestfunk.
"It was perhaps a pre-decisive round," said Dieter Gummer, who is the mayor of Hockenheim and also chairman of the Hockenheimring circuit, "but a final decision has not yet been made."
It is believed that Ecclestone is willing to become the promoter but is asking for 1.5 million euros from the existing stakeholders.
That would reportedly ensure a race in 2010, giving time for the establishment of an extension of the current arrangement whereby Hockenheim alternates annually with the Nurburgring.
Ferrari power for new Sauber/Qadbak team (GMM) If given the green light to race in 2010, the team currently known as BMW-Sauber will be equipped with Ferrari engines and transmissions, it is reported in the German press.
Publications including Sport Bild said the transaction selling the Hinwil based outfit to the mysterious Swiss-based foundation Qadbak is for 80 million euros.
Little is known about Qadbak Investments Ltd except that it represents "certain Middle Eastern and European-based families". Earlier this year through a subsidiary it bought the English football club Notts County.
BMW-Sauber's parent BMW AG made the press announcement on Tuesday, and a spokesman for the Swiss based team has now said: "The team expects to line up on the grid for the first race of the 2010 season." We have updated our 2010 F1 Silly Season Page above.
Lotus to return to F1 gridUPDATE #4 This rumor, first broke by AutoRacing1.com on August 20th, is now 'fact' with today's news that Lotus will return to F1 in 2010.
09/04/09 (GMM) Peter Sauber, the founder and 20 per cent owner of the Hinwil based formula one team, has this week been in Malaysia.
"In his luggage could be good news for the future," the Swiss newspaper Blick said.
We reported on Thursday that the Malaysian government, already involved with BMW-Sauber through its 35m euro per year sponsorship by the state owned oil company Petronas, might be interested in forming a national formula one team.
Through the involvement of a Malaysian consortium, it was suggested that the bid could involve either taking over Sauber in the wake of BMW's impending withdrawal, or joining forces with Lotus, Litespeed and Mike Gascoyne in a separate start-up operation.
The new speculation is a combination of the two possibilities: a BMW-Sauber takeover with the involvement of the F3 team Litespeed, as well as the well-known F1 engineer Gascoyne and Lotus' new CEO Dany Bahar.
Coinciding with the rumors was the confirmation that Bahar, who like Peter Sauber is Swiss, has left Ferrari and will start his new role as Lotus CEO in October.
"I am looking forward to taking on the challenges as CEO of this legendary and iconic company with a peerless motor sport history," said Bahar in a statement.
F1 to return to Montreal in 2010UPDATE #4 (GMM) The path is now clear for the Canadian grand prix to return to the formula one calendar, the promoters of the Montreal event announced in a media statement on Monday.
Grand Prix F1 du Canada Inc president Normand Legault said a "commercial dispute" with Bernie Ecclestone has been settled, and an "announcement is forthcoming" about the return of the race in 2010.
"I never doubted that the Canadian race would regain its rightful place on the FIA schedule, and my discussions with F1 management led me to believe that the event would return soon," he said.
The race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was not held in 2009, to the chagrin of F1's teams, manufacturers, sponsors and fans.
Legault also announced on Monday that he is not planning to stay on as the race's local promoter due to the "economic model currently prevailing in formula one".
08/25/09 (GMM) The potential organizers of a 2010 Canadian grand prix have refused to comment on the latest reports about formula one returning to Montreal.
It is reported that Bernie Ecclestone last weekend showed team bosses a calendar for next year that includes a round at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
But with the track hosting NASCAR this weekend, a spokesman for the race organizers said it would be "disrespectful to our guests" to talk about formula one right now, according to the Montreal Gazette.
08/14/09 (GMM) The mayor of Montreal has finally penciled some dates onto rising speculation that the Canadian grand prix is set to return to the formula one calendar.
Gerald Tremblay said in an Associated Press report that it is looking "very good" that Circuit Gilles Villeneuve will host a race next June.
He also said he is confident an official announcement will be made prior to the publication of F1's first 2010 race calendar in September.
"There are still certain commitments which have been made that have to be refined," said Tremblay. "Right now, we're trying to finalize this agreement in the best interests of Montreal."
Also confident of a new deal is Francois Dumontier, the chief organizer of the Montreal race in recent years.
"I would say that I'm pretty optimistic about it. I think there are a lot of things to do yet, but it's okay to be optimistic about it, yes," he told the Montreal Gazette.
Dumontier suggested that an official announcement could be coming within two weeks, as he urged those involved to delay the news until after Montreal has hosted its NASCAR round at the end of August.
"I'd prefer that they wait a little bit before they announce anything because it's (less than) three weeks until our NASCAR race," he said. "I'd like all the attention to be on our event."
Virgin-Manor deal set for Abu Dhabi launch (GMM) After appearing trackside at Monza, Sir Richard Branson's next stop on the formula one calendar will be the Abu Dhabi finale.
It is there that the British billionaire is expected to announce a major tie-up with the new Manor team, in which the outfit could be rebranded 'Virgin F1' for the 2010 season and beyond.
Virgin entered F1 as Brawn's most visible sponsor this year, but the British team's unexpected success meant Branson was not prepared to pay the higher rate for a ramped up collaboration into the future.
Brawn GP has already confirmed that Virgin is not involved in the team's plans beyond November's Abu Dhabi season finale.
Santander could stay at McLarenUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. McLaren on Monday confirmed that Santander will remain a sponsor of the British team in 2010, despite the Spanish bank's high profile new deal with Ferrari.
It had been expected that Santander's switch to Ferrari with a major five-year deal beginning next year would mean the bank will be no longer associated with McLaren.
But in a media statement, McLaren said Santander branding will be featured "on all four (team) drivers" next year.
No mention was made of actual car branding, with the logo this year on the rearward-facing elements of the rear wing.
Team boss Martin Whitmarsh suggested he has no problem with Santander also sponsoring Ferrari.
"We are very proud of our relationship with Santander and to be part of their ever-expanding formula one involvement. We welcome, and wish them well with ... their other activities," said the Briton.
09/13/09 (GMM) Santander could remain a sponsor of the McLaren team next year despite the Spanish bank's high profile new deal with arch rivals Ferrari.
The rumors first emerged on Thursday, when Santander CEO Emilio Botin was asked at Monza about the expiring McLaren deal and he replied that it had contributed markedly to the company's profile in Britain.
It is also suggested that Lewis Hamilton, McLaren's lead driver, is to be sponsored by Abbey, the British arm of Santander with an identical logo, in a deal to be announced in the coming days.
It would not be the first time that McLaren and Ferrari have shared a sponsor. In the 90s, both outfits enjoyed backing by the cigarette brand Marlboro.
Engine 'de-freeze' possible at end of 2009 (GMM) Rival F1 engine manufacturers could be permitted to catch up with the sport's pacesetter Mercedes. It is clear that Mercedes, supplier of the McLaren, Brawn and Force India teams, possesses what is currently the best engine in the field.
Engine development was recently frozen to cut costs, but in the areas where some work is still allowed, it is obvious that Mercedes has done the best job and drawn clear.
Renault was permitted by the FIA last winter to catch up with the engine pace, and it is now believed that it is the Toyota V8 on the bottom of the pile.
Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali admitted after Sunday's Italian GP that the issue of a temporary 'de-freeze' for lagging engine makers is once again a topic of conversation.
"This is for sure something that we will be discussing in the engine working group because today we have seen a really great performance from the Mercedes engine and before we make a final decision we have to see the numbers connected to that.
"It is a point that is on the table to discuss among the teams, as it is something that we need to understand," he added.
Major unrest at RPMUPDATE The deal between Richard Petty Motorsports and Yates Racing already has cost one top official his job. Richard Petty, the minority owner of RPM, said on Saturday that Mark McArdle, the vice president and managing director of competition at RPM, was fired on Friday after a heated confrontation with team co-owner George Gillett Jr. at Richmond International Raceway. Petty would not speculate on how many others in the engine and chassis department might lose jobs if RPM uses Roush-Yates engines and Roush Fenway chassis as planned. Petty said RPM is moving from Dodge to Ford because Dodge could not offer financial support for 2010 and beyond. Yates already has a financial commitment for two Ford teams, and Petty hopes that will increase once the economy is restored. ESPN.com
09/12/09 Mark McArdle, Richard Petty Motorsports's vice president and managing director of competition, got into a heated argument with team co-owner George Gillett on Friday and has returned home for the weekend, multiple sources confirmed to the Charlotte Observer and ThatsRacin.com.
McArdle, who basically oversees RPM's engine and chassis departments, apparently was arguing with Gillett in the garage area at Richmond International Raceway over the organization's proposed merger with Yates Racing announced on Thursday, sources said.
The merger would in effect close RPM's engine department since the merged team would use Ford engines beginning next season produced by Yates Racing.
Witnesses confirmed the two were in a heated discussion in the garage and that McArdle was seen later in the afternoon cleaning out his motorhome, which was at the track.
It remains unclear in what capacity McArdle remains with the organization but sources said he would not be at the track on Saturday.
Reached by phone late Friday night, team spokesman Drew Brown said he was not aware McArdle's status with the team had changed and said McArdle was at the track on Friday. ThatsRacin
Bobby Labonte to the #07 or #1 Bobby Labonte's popularity has picked up considerably in the last few weeks. Apparently, his name is being presented as a possible candidate for the #07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to sponsor Jack Daniels this week. Also hearing that he could be competition for Jamie McMurray in the #1 Chevy at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. FoxSports
Red Bull Racing to use Mercedes engines?UPDATE #4 (GMM) Christian Horner on Saturday hinted strongly that Red Bull is still eying a supply of Mercedes engines for the 2010 season.
With speculation pointing at a buyout by the German manufacturer of current engine customer Brawn, it had been suggested that Red Bull might instead choose to stick with its Renault power plants.
But after qualifying at Monza, boss Horner told the German broadcaster RTL: "(Mercedes powered) Force India is in some unbelievable form, but there are six Mercedes engines in the top seven.
"For sure that is no coincidence," the Briton added. "Mercedes builds very good engines."
Also at Monza, Ross Brawn would not comment on the reports about Mercedes buying 75 per cent of his Brackley based team.
"I'm not going to comment on our specific plans, drivers, sponsors, they'll all be announced in due course.
"We're very comfortable with where we're going to be next year. That's as much as I would like to say," said Brawn.
08/25/09 (GMM) The signs are growing stronger that Red Bull is preparing to switch to Mercedes-Benz engine power for the 2010 season. The rumors were circulating prior to Sebastian Vettel suffering two Renault engine failures at Valencia last weekend.
Now team boss Christian Horner is quoted as saying by Bild newspaper: "We have several options (and) Mercedes is one."
Racing boss Norbert Haug, whose employer Mercedes already supplies the McLaren, Force India and Brawn teams, commented: "We want to decide in four weeks."
In a separate report, in the Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten, Red Bull's motor racing advisor Helmut Marko also raised the prospect of an engine change.
Were terrorists eyeing attack on Daytona? A state trooper was named Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for July 2008, cited for "excellent training, experience, investigative techniques, and self-motivation," that led to the arrests of four "potential terrorists who may have been targeting the Daytona International Speedway." But the FBI said Friday that while Trooper William Cain did the right thing when he reported the men to the FBI and a Florida Department of Law Enforcement Joint Terrorism Task Force, the men were not arrested and did not pose a threat. "Several individuals were interviewed and, after it was determined that no immediate terrorist threat existed, those individuals were released," said Special Agent Jeff Westcott of the FBI's Jacksonville office. It all started with Cain's observations of the men photographing the speedway three days before the Coke Zero 400 and escalated when Cain rain the tag on their minivan and the registration matched a name on a terrorism watch list. FHP spokeswoman Sgt. Kim Montes said the incident is an open investigation and any information about the traffic stop is not public record. Orlando Sentinel
It will soon be lights out for DodgeUPDATE The decision by Richard Petty and the Gillett family to further consolidate their operations and opt for that wonderful Doug Yates horsepower means that only Team Penske is planning on using Dodges next season and you have to wonder how long that plan will remain in place.
There are good surprise announcements and bad ones in racing. In 1999, Evernham made a good one. Well, as it turns out, an interesting one. He announced that he was forming his own team and that team would return Dodges to the track in 2001 for the first time since 1985.
The plan was risky, he knew, but he was confident that his experience and that with his "20 Points for Success" philosophy in place, Dodge would soon be a NASCAR power again and that all would live happily ever after.
Perhaps there should have been a 21st point inserted somewhere in there. While revived Dodge has had small successes over the years, it has never really ascended from the bottom wrung of the NASCAR manufacturers ladder.
Drivers came and went and teams came and went from the Dodge effort -- an effort which was initially backed by car dealerships from around the country. Hey, Evernham came and went as he sold his operation to George and Foster Gillett a couple years ago and now remains visible only as a television analyst.
The recent economic meltdown has sent out signals that Dodge itself may soon be going. Certainly scores and scores of those very Dodge dealers who had backed the revival effort have disappeared, their empty, spooky dark showrooms serving as carcasses along the road of economic doom.
With the company's very existence murky, who could blame Petty and Gillett for making their escape?
Crew Chief Tryson to leave Penske Bob Dilner reported during SPEED's coverage of the Sprint Cup first practice at Richmond that Pat Tryson, current crew chief for #2-Kurt Busch, will leave Penske Racing and head over to crew chief Martin Truex Jr. for Michael Waltrip Racing #56 NAPA Toyota team. SPEED
Mallya plans to float Force India Vijay Mallya is considering listing his F1 team Force India as well as his other sports interests on the Indian stock exchange.
India's Economic Times said the billionaire, head of the United Breweries group, planned to combine his sports assets including cricket and football teams.
"I am working on this plan and could go for a possible listing or bring in financial investors," said the 53-year-old, whose team co-owner Michiel Mol is also at the Monza circuit this weekend.
The plan comes amid a run of form for the Silverstone based team, with Giancarlo Fisichella achieving pole position and a podium two weeks ago in Belgium, and Adrian Sutil setting the pace at Monza on Friday.
Ferrari to confirm Alonso?UPDATE #15 (GMM) Luca di Montezemolo nearly dropped a bombshell on Friday when he announced that Fernando Alonso will join Ferrari -- "sooner or later".
The Ferrari president, who admitted he liked the Spaniard and would describe him as a "great driver", was speaking to Spanish reporters in the Monza paddock.
So too was Emilio Botin, the boss of Ferrari's new and major Spanish sponsor, the bank Santander.
"Of course I would like to sign Alonso," Botin is quoted as saying by Diario AS newspaper, "but I can only appoint directors of the bank. Ferrari are the ones who make the decisions about drivers."
However, like Montezemolo, the hints about Alonso's future came thick and fast. When told that masses of Spanish fans are dreaming of seeing Alonso in a red car, Botin answered: "I have always said that people should be optimistic."
Also at the centre of the speculation is Kimi Raikkonen, who according to widespread paddock gossip would be the driver to make room at Ferrari for Alonso.
Asked on Friday by La Stampa newspaper if he wants to finish his career with Ferrari, the Finn answered: "I did think so, but sometimes in F1 things change overnight, so who knows?"
Raikkonen repeated his regular line about his 2010 contract, and told the interviewer: "Rumors and leaks are your problem, not mine.
"This is my team. Nothing has changed and nobody has said anything to me, because there is nothing to say."
09/10/09 (GMM) The confirmation later on Thursday of the Spanish bank Santander's arrival at Ferrari as a sponsor does not mean Fernando Alonso is also heading to the Italian team.
That was the message intimated on Wednesday by Luca di Montezemolo, after the Ferrari president appeared at the Monza circuit for a meeting with his fellow FOTA chiefs.
The Italian will reappear at the circuit on Thursday for the Santander press conference "but that doesn't mean anything in terms of choices for the near future", he insisted.
"I want to say it again, that the drivers are chosen by Ferrari and not by the sponsors," Montezemolo added.
The rumors linking Ferrari, Santander and Alonso also involve Kimi Raikkonen, with it suggested that the marriage of the former trio means the team's Finnish driver must depart.
Referring to Raikkonen's run of top form, team boss Stefano Domenicali said in the Italian media: "As I said in Spa, I hope the rumors continue because if it means Kimi reacts like this, it is good for us."
Raikkonen, 29, is under contract for 2010, but Domenicali insisted that clear declarations about Ferrari's plans for next year will only be announced "at the opportune moment".
Kvapil back in a Cup car in 2010? Travis Kvapil fully expects to race in Sprint Cup next season after a year of unemployment. Kvapil has been in serious discussion with several respectable teams, he said, as well a few lesser ones and some in the Camping World Truck Series as an alternative. Sidelined when Yates couldn't find sponsorship, Kvapil expected to land a fill-in ride during the "silly season," but the traditional round of mid-season firings didn't happen. "There's a handful of guys that don't deserve to have rides if I don't have one - I know I can outrun them - and the demands of sponsors put a lot of pressure on the teams," Kvapil said. "It seems like teams were afraid to make a change and have it look to the sponsors like they're shaking things up." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Kubica in talks with Ferrari to replace BadoerUPDATE Kubica admits Ferrari talks Text (GMM) Robert Kubica on Thursday confirmed that he was also a candidate to switch to Ferrari to replace the struggling Luca Badoer.
Ultimately the wearer of the red team wear at Monza and beyond is Giancarlo Fisichella, but reports had suggested the Pole Kubica, whose future is unclear in the wake of BMW's decision to pull out of F1, was also in contention for the seat.
"Well, I think I'm in white (team wear), so there's no more speculation," he told reporters in Italy.
"Yeah, there was some contact and I was in the interest of Ferrari but I don't think it's so easy to change teams during the year and anyway, I think we will have a competitive car here with BMW, so I'm happy to be where I am," the 24-year-old added.
Kubica said his management is currently working on his plans for the 2010 season.
His current teammate Nick Heidfeld admitted that staying at BMW-Sauber in 2010 if the Swiss based team finds a buyer is an option.
"But there's actually not much going on at the moment because nobody knows if (the team will survive) or who will be there, so there's nobody to speak to," said the German.
09/03/09 (GMM) Christian Klien insists he is ready to make an imminent return to the F1 grid, but doubts he is going to be needed at the forthcoming Italian grand prix.
It is reported that if BMW-Sauber agrees to release Robert Kubica to replace Ferrari's struggling Luca Badoer for Monza and beyond, third driver Klien would be asked to step into the vacated seat.
A Sauber source told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport: "Why should we let Robert go to Ferrari? In our situation we need the best drivers possible."
However, if Kubica were to switch, Ferrari might offer Hinwil based BMW-Sauber a supply of customer Ferrari V8 engines for next year.
"Rumors seem to be an integral part of F1 these days," Austrian Klien, who is conducting a straight-line aerodynamic test in the 2009 BMW car this week, said.
"I understand Robert Kubica has a contract with the BMW-Sauber team and I assume he will be driving our car for the rest of the season."
Klien insisted, however, that if there is a vacant cockpit to fill at Monza, "I am ready".
BMW Sauber team could be rescued by Swiss government Rumors ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix in Monza this weekend have suggested that the Swiss government could be on the verge of putting together a package to rescue the BMW Sauber team.
BMW announced it will be withdrawing from Formula One at the end of the current season. The German car manufacturer, which took over Sauber in 2005, cited "current developments in motorsport" as the reason for their decision.
BMW's team had given themselves three years to win the world championship and won their first race in 2008 but have amassed only 18 points this season.
Stories are now emerging about the defense being planned by Renault F1 against the claims that the team conspired to fix the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. The information, clearly from a leak, suggest that the team will blame Nelson Piquet for coming up with the idea. The claims have been published by Autosport and suggest that there was a meeting between team boss Flavio Briatore, engineering executive Pat Symonds and Piquet on the Sunday in Singapore, at which the idea was discussed. Symonds apparently claims that it was Piquet's idea, but Briatore is reported to have said that nothing of the kind was discussed. The story also suggests that Nelson Piquet Sr contacted the FIA President Max Mosley on the day of the Hungarian GP to inform him of the alleged conspiracy. Piquet Jr went to Paris a few days later and made a statement about events to FIA consultant Alan Donnelly and investigators from Quest. After that the three Singapore stewards and two investigators from Quest went to the Belgium GP and interviewed Renault staff.
The magazine says that Briatore is claiming that he is "a victim of extortion by the Piquet Family". Extortion is a criminal offense which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services through coercion. It is not clear what Briatore thinks that the Piquets have gained, but the suggestion is a further indication of the ugliness that surrounds the claims. Grandprix.com
Abu Dhabi involved in Mercedes-Brawn buyout (GMM) The signs are growing that McLaren and Mercedes-Benz are headed for different futures in formula one.
The companies had already parted in terms of their joint road sports car programmes, and reports have intensified throughout this week that a similar split is looming in terms of their 15-year F1 collaboration.
On Wednesday, the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport claimed that McLaren is getting in the way of Mercedes' plans for 2010 by currently vetoing the intended engine supply deal with Red Bull Racing.
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