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Alonso’s and Hamilton’s potential new stablematesUPDATE #2
Lewis Hamilton's hopes of having good friend Nico Rosberg alongside him at McLaren next season appear to have been dashed after Williams issued a hands-off warning over the German.
Hamilton yesterday named Rosberg as one of three drivers he believes are competing to replace Fernando Alonso at McLaren next season - and has indicated his fellow 22-year-old would be his preferred option as team-mate.
But Williams director Patrick Head said in the Mail on Sunday: "Nico is contracted to our team for 2008 and we have an option for his services for 2009.
"We are planning to go into next season with Nico as our lead driver, and we would not entertain any approach from McLaren for Nico.
"McLaren are a team in a position to offer very large salaries, but our aim is to be looking to strengthen Williams." Sporting Life
11/03/07 (GMM) Lewis Hamilton on Saturday said he did not know who his McLaren teammate in 2008 will be.
But the 22-year-old Briton, who shared an antagonistic pairing with Fernando Alonso this season, nonetheless floated the names of three likely candidates.
"I am interested to see who it is going to be," Hamilton told reporters at Mercedes-Benz's 'Stars and Cars' event in Stuttgart.
He added: "I am as excited as you guys are. I have no idea, I can only guess."
Hamilton said the only prerequisite for the role is to be a "team player" -- a function that departed Alonso seemed reluctant to perform.
When pressed for the actual names of possible candidates, Hamilton reacted: "Nick Heidfeld is under contract with BMW, right?
"There is also Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil and Heikki Kovalainen. One of the three, although I have no idea who it will be," he added.
"They are all fantastic drivers; I know them all well, but I have heard that they are all under contract, so it is difficult to know."
Asked about Alonso's departure, meanwhile, Hamilton said: "I wish him all the best for the future, wherever he goes."
Alonso was much happier at Renault
Renault For Won two world titles under Flavio Briatore, his mentor, manager and the managing director of the team, who originally spotted the Spaniard’s talent. Would be undisputed No 1 in the team and knows the engineering staff inside out. Renault also need big-name signing and, chances are, Briatore is already writing out the contract. Against Renault were way off the pace in 2007 and have a budget much smaller than their main rivals. Lacked Alonso’s leadership, but the danger is he will struggle to repeat his 2005 and 2006 heroics.
Red Bull For Would love a high-profile driver of Alonso’s fame, reputation – and youth. The present drivers, David Coulthard and Mark Webber, have a combined age of 70. Emerging, though, with Adrian Newey, formerly McLaren’s chief designer, at the helm. Against Unlikely to be winning next season and Christian Horner, the principal, is happy if experienced hands can aid car development.
Williams Toyota For Despite a severe downturn since Jacques Villeneuve won the title a decade ago, the team have experience and talent. New Toyota engines have also proved good enough, with the Williams chassis, to outpace the Toyota factory team. Against No chance of winning regularly in an underfunded team. Not a lovey-dovey environment for drivers; Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head, his partner, do not allow whining.
Outside bet Toyota For Lots and lots of money and a determination to win. Against Clueless on how to build a Formula One car. Alonso has turned them down.
Lewis Hamilton’s running mate Who could replace Fernando Alonso at McLaren
Nico Rosberg For First choice of Ron Dennis, the McLaren team principal. Son of Keke, the 1982 world champion, he turned down an academic career to go racing. Speaks five languages, is photogenic and an exciting driver, who proved tenacious in an average Williams. Against Almost as inexperienced as Hamilton. Fiercely ambitious and will not back down if Hamilton demands No 1 status. Hamilton is believed to be against him as he is seen as a potential threat.
Heikki Kovalainen For Could be straight swap for Alonso at Renault. Seventh last season in an undistinguished car and was soon beating Giancarlo Fisichella, his more experienced teammate. Great talent and easy to work with. Against Inexperienced and timid, could be overawed by the Hamilton bandwagon.
Mark Webber For Could be straight swap for Alonso at Red Bull. Swashbuckling and experienced Australian, desperate to drive a winning car. Has terrific media image, beloved of sponsors, is articulate, intelligent and works well with his engineers. Against Skeptical of the Hamilton phenomenon to the point of dislike. Will not back down to Hamilton’s demands, and will make Alonso look like a softie if it comes to a battle for status in the garage.
Outside bet Pedro De La Rosa For Long-serving McLaren test driver who filled in for absent Juan Pablo Montoya. Also a Spaniard, to please McLaren’s Spanish sponsors. Solid and unlikely to threaten Hamilton’s No 1 position. Against Played significant role in the Ferrari-gate affair, which soured relations with McLaren officials. Unlikely to win races.
Alonso Renault stalemate There appears to be a bit of a stalemate between Renault and Fernando Alonso. The Renault Formula 1 team has offered Fernando Alonso a contract with the team for the upcoming years team boss Flavio Briatore confirmed. On Friday Alonso and McLaren made an announcement that the Spaniard leaves the team after just one season with the team.
Briatore expects to clear it up soon. He told Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport: "Let's wait and see what happens in the next few days. I have presented a plan for Fernando's future at our team. If he wants he can race with us in 2008."
The Italian did admit though the team would not be interested to sign Alonso for just one year, but rumors persist that Alonso wants a one year deal so he can move to Ferrari in 2009. Hence the holdup in Renault announcing Alonso is signed.
McLaren threaten to sue Alonso German newspaper ‘Bild’ claims that despite the agreement to part company, McLaren has threatened to take legal action against Fernando Alonso. The paper says they will act if he continues to talk about his time with the team, and have threatened him with legal action ‘for the flagrant breaking of his contract’.
Tecate and Axtel will sponsor Martinez Word is that Tecate and Axtel (who sponsored Mexican Champ Car Atlantic driver David Garza this past year) will sponsor David Martinez in the Mexico City season finale Champ Car race next weekend with the possibility of full sponsorship in 2008. Martinez coached Garza all year in Atlantics and is a friend of both Garza and his family.
Villeneuve, Pollock buy NASCAR team?UPDATE #6 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Jacques Villeneuve has categorically stated that he has no interest in buying into NASCAR team Bill Davis Racing. The 1997 Formula One world champion has been linked to a purchase of the team he is racing for since his manager Craig Pollock expressed an interest in buying a NASCAR team, but Villeneuve claims that he will not be involved in any takeover bid. Villeneuve said: "Over the last few weeks there has been persistent speculation that I am considering some form of purchase of the Bill Davis Racing organization. "In spite of my consistent denial of these claims, the questions and speculation continue, so I want to set the record straight, one time only. I am not interested in buying the BDR business, or any other NASCAR team. I have not been considering such a purchase, and I will not be changing that position." Villeneuve added that he wants to remain totally focused on his racing in NASCAR, where he is currently preparing for his rookie season in the Sprint Cup in 2008. Autosport.com
10/31/07 Interviewed on Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway Tuesday, Davis once again denied reports that Jacques Villeneuve or his agent, Craig Pollack, have purchased the team, saying that he and his wife maintain 100% ownership. Sirius Speedway
10/27/07 Jacques Villeneuve has apparently completed a buy-in of Bill Davis’ High Point-based Toyota operation, according to sources close to the team, and Villeneuve will have at least a majority interest in the operation, perhaps even full ownership. Last Sunday, when asked about the report of a planned Villeneuve buy-in, Davis said he wasn’t in a position to give a specific answer but did say he was considering a number of options. It is unclear what a purchase price might be. It is also unclear why Villeneuve, who lives in Montreal, would want to buy a NASCAR team, or if Villeneuve might move the team from High Point, where Davis has operated for more than 15 years. Winston Salem Journal
10/24/07 Craig Pollock, Jacques Villeneuve’s longtime manager, will announce possibly as early as this week that he has become part or full owner of Bill Davis Racing. The team currently fields two cars in Cup and three in the Craftsman Truck Series and Villeneuve is expected to race one of the cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup next year.
10/22/07 Bill Davis said reports that he’s selling his High Point NASCAR team may be premature, but he won’t flat-out deny reports he may be selling part of his team to Jacques Villeneuve, perhaps a very significant part.
Davis has signed Villeneuve to run his Toyotas next season on the Nextel Cup tour, as teammate with Dave Blaney. And Villeneuve is spending this fall running NASCAR Trucks, to warm up for 2008.
Now comes word that there is much more to the Davis-Villeneuve deal than the two are letting on.
If Villeneuve does buy a significant stake in Davis’ operation, he would become yet another non-NASCAR newcomer to the owners’ party, joining people such as George Gillett Jr., who owns the Montreal Canadiens; John Henry, who owns part of the Boston Red Sox; Dietrich Mateschitz, who owns Red Bull; and Rob Kauffman, who is a London-based billionaire hedge-fund dealer.
Davis hedged when pressed on the situation. “We’re not in position to make any comment right now,” Davis said.
“But any team in this garage, particularly at this end (far down in points and finances), needs to be looking at opportunities to grow. There are a lot of people throwing money around, wanting to invest. Real big money.
“But it still needs to be someone who can add value to the team.
“For the last six months we’ve been entertaining offers and weighing our opportunities. And certainly there is the possibility that somebody will do that.” Winston Salem Journal
10/20/07 Team owner Bill Davis insisted on Saturday that he has not sold his organization as published reports indicated.
That doesn't mean he won't.
The owner of Bill Davis Racing said several parties have expressed an interest in purchasing his company that includes two Nextel Cup cars driven by Dave Blaney and Jeremy Mayfield, who will be replaced by Formula One star Jacques Villeneuve next season.
"Like any team our size, we have to be realistic and look at all of our options with what's going on in the sport right now," he said before practice at Martinsville Speedway.
"We've had a lot of interest, a lot of very interested people, and a lot of things that are for real. We just have to do our due diligence and make a smart, logical choice."
Davis denied a published report that Villeneuve and his business manager, Craig Pollock, already have purchased his organization.
"Bill Davis Racing is still 100 percent owned by Bill and Gail Davis," Davis said. "I don't think Jacques has an interest in owning a race team. But we're not going to talk about specific individuals." ESPN.com
10/19/07 Auto123.com's contributor Bertrand Godin has learned earlier today a rumor indicating that Jacques Villeneuve and Craig Pollock have purchased the Bill Davis Racing Team. According to a reliable source, Villeneuve and his business manager since 1992, Craig Pollock, have recently purchased Bill and Gail Davis' stock-car racing team. This is the team that currently runs Villeneuve in the Craftsman Trucks series and in the Nextel Cup. The new team, based in High Point, North Carolina will apparently continue to field the current drivers, as well as a Sprint Cup car for Villeneuve. Auto123.com
Alonso rebukes Toyota Fernando Alonso is said to have turned down an astonishing £28 million (over $50 million)-a-year offer, more than even Michael Schumacher was paid at his peak, which means that he thinks Toyota have nothing but money to offer.
Petty team to move in with RYR? Petty Enterprises could move into the soon-to-be-abandoned Robert Yates Racing shop as it continues exploring a permanent site in Salisbury, N.C. Petty Enterprises is currently located in Randleman, N.C., and Salisbury is about halfway between Randleman and the auto-racing hub of Mooresville, N.C.
RYR is moving to a shop closer to Roush Fenway Racing, with whom it will have an affiliation with next season.
"The No. 1 thing is taking care of the employees that we have and to make sure that they know what we're doing before we really talk about it outside," said Petty Enterprises Executive Vice President Robbie Loomis. "Everybody knows [Yates' shop] is probably the right fit, but there's got to be a lot of things worked out before we get to there.
"It's not where we want to end up eventually. We want to land in Salisbury. That's where we've targeted from the beginning. That is the first thing that Richard [Petty] got comfortable with." Scenedaily.com
Is NASCAR failing its biggest sponsor?UPDATE #2 A private-equity buyout group that features some prominent ex-Nextel executives considered a takeover of Sprint-Nextel last year, through the Carlyle Group. That particular deal never got anywhere, in part because of the amount of money involved, around $100 billion to buy the whole operation. But there is still a lot of curious talk about Sprint Nextel, following the recent ouster of boss Gary Forsee.
What it all might mean for NASCAR’s Nextel Cup soon-to-be-titled Sprint Cup series is unclear: The Carlyle Cup?
Well, the Nextel Sprint merger has been rocky, to say the least. First, all the Nextel guys who put together the NASCAR deal abruptly left the company. Then just a few weeks ago Forsee got the boot, too, amid questions about the company’s direction.
These are big-money stakes.
Still, a deal of some sort could get footing. Particularly in light of Sprint Nextel’s precipitous third-quarter net-income decline, announced yesterday. And the company issues a warning about the fourth quarter too.
Sprint Nextel, which is the nation’s third-biggest wireless operator, reported net income of $64 million for the quarter, compared to $279 million last year. Revenues also dropped slightly to $10 billion.
And noteworthy with regard to the Carlyle angle: James Hance Jr., who is Sprint Nextel’s interim chairman, is a senior adviser to the Carlyle Group. Carlyle men Daniel Akerson, Bill Conway and Bill Kennard also have had ties with Nextel. Winston Salem Journal
10/11/07 After spending $1.78 billion on advertising this year (including $70 million from the 10-year, $700 million deal to sponsor NASCAR signed in 2004), Sprint is losing customers at a prodigious rate (as was Nextel before the merger, indicating their NASCAR sponsorship is reaping negative returns). Over the just-completed third quarter Sprint lost 340,000 "postpaid" wireless customers (people who pay a monthly bill), which is a stunning number.
The bottom line in this situation is that if Sprint's fortunes continue trending downward, everything in that company will come under scrutiny. And yes, that means that the NASCAR title sponsorship deal will be high on the list of "involvements" that will come under review. Sprint is not only spending $70 million annually for the "privilege" of being NASCAR's title sponsor, it is spending another huge chunk of change (running into the millions) on promoting its NASCAR involvement. And if things keep going south for Sprint, it's easy to see how that NASCAR sponsorship deal will become a big fat target when the discussion turns to cutting expenses.
Don't be surprised if the next move made by Sprint is to craft an exit strategy - right out of NASCAR. Autoextremist.com
10/09/07 Many NASCAR companies, including Dodge, Chevy and Ford are in deep trouble financially and there is no indication their NASCAR sponsorship is helping them. Add Sprint Nextel to that list.
Sprint Nextel Corp (S.N) Chief Executive Gary Forsee stepped down on Monday as the company lowered its annual outlook, bowing to investor pressure amid heavy customer losses.
The move came after an activist investor last week demanded change and media reports said Sprint's board was quietly looking for a new leader.
"This is a major positive catalyst for Sprint. It's good to know the board isn't asleep at the wheel," said Patrick Comack, an analyst at Zachary Investment Research.
Sprint, which has struggled to position itself against bigger rivals AT&T Inc and Verizon Wireless, said its board believed it was time to "put in place new leadership to move the company forward in improving its performance."
Amid falling TV ratings and empty grandstand seats, many sponsors are starting to second guess their NASCAR involvement, with some having already axed their involvement.
Will NASCAR take away one of Atlanta’s races? Careful observation of the grandstands at Atlanta Motor Speedway this past Sunday -- from my various positions in the infield, revealed the attendance for the Pep Boys 500 was significantly down from previous years. The speedway’s clever attempt to mask the empty seats by painting seats red and blue randomly may have fooled the television viewing public, but standing behind pit road and looking up, the empty seats were obvious. Granted there are about 16-20 rows of lower seats on the frontstretch that have limited viewing (even the track website accounts for the restricted viewing) making those seats less desirable, the track was far from a sellout crowd. My best estimation was that seating was two-thirds full. The Public Relations machine announced the crowd to be around 100,000 strong. Many estimated it was more like 75,000. Remember when NASCAR abandoned Rockingham because it did not sell out? Remember when Darlington lost a date because it could not fill the stands for two events? Should Atlanta be concerned? Source
Teams sabotaged at Atlanta?UPDATE #2 NASCAR officials said Friday morning that water contamination that plagued several cars in last week’s Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway has been traced to a portable fuel dispenser. The cars of #11-Denny Hamlin, #22-Dave Blaney and #16-Greg Biffle were among those to suffer contamination from water in the fuel.
10/30/07 Tests conducted Monday night showed no water in any of the fuel systems in the cars tested that day at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"Crystal clear," Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby reported Tuesday afternoon.
Water got into the fuel of several cars during the Pep Boys Auto 500 on Sunday at Atlanta. With those cars gone and the new cars of tomorrow being used in the test Monday and Tuesday, NASCAR asked the teams to check their cars Monday night and see if there were any additional problems.
Darby believes NASCAR will be able to come close to pinpointing exactly what happened. He suspects it was part of the plumbing or a hose among those that runs from the underground fuel tank to and through the fuel dispenser.
The fuel in the underground tanks shows no contamination.
"I think that we will [find it]," Darby said. "We haven't yet. But the fact that everything's clear here all day yesterday and today, what that tells you is the fuel itself is not contaminated.
"There's a huge difference between having contaminated fuel or a contaminant introduced in between the fuel [tank] and the race car. It's obviously not a problem with the fuel. Unfortunately the fuel was the carrier."
There are four fuel dispensing stations at the gasoline fill-up area. Those are used more than just on NASCAR race weekends for racing schools and other racing events at the track.
Toyota to build oval track in Canada? There are rumors about Toyota building a two mile Michigan-like track in Woodstock, Ontario on the site where their new plant is being built that could host auto races and serve as a Toyota test track.
Mosley to stay on.... Despite calls from Sir Jackie Stewart to step down, FIA President Max Mosley has confirmed that he has no intention of retiring from his role anytime soon.
With two years left to run on his current term, his fourth in power, Mosley confirmed to the BBC that at this stage he intends to see them out and as for a fifth term in office he won’t even begin to think about that until next year….
"In 2004 I actually said that I had enough but various people insisted that I stay a little longer,” he said. "But I think the day that you start to think that, 'this can't operate without me', that's the moment you've got to stop, and also you shouldn't go on too long.”
“When I started this I was old enough to be the father of some of the drivers, but now, there are drivers out there that could be my grandchildren, and that starts to be on the limit. As to what happens in 2009, I'll decide that in a year's time." Related article
McLaren Boss wants Alonso at Williams Ron Dennis will only agree to release Fernando Alonso from his 2008 contract if the Spaniard switches to a privateer rival next year, according to reports.
Following the first meeting on Wednesday between McLaren figures and representatives for Alonso, the Spanish newspaper Diario As has put Red Bull and Williams at the top of the list to receive the 26-year-old former double world champion next year.
More talks with McLaren are expected in the coming days, but the 'As' report would explain why speculation of moves to carmaker backed outfits including Renault, Ferrari, Toyota and Honda has recently gone cold.
Alonso's manager Luis Garcia Abad, who was in England this week, played down links with other teams whilst talking to the British newspaper The Guardian on Wednesday.
Bruton Smith buys NHISUPDATE SMI Chair & CEO Bruton Smith has "entered into an agreement to purchase" New Hampshire Int'l Speedway (NHIS) from track Chair Bob Bahre, according to a source. A press conference will be held tomorrow at SMI-owned Texas Motor Speedway. SMI tracks would host 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in ‘08, including September's Sylvania 300, the first race in the "Chase for the Cup" should the deal go through Boston Globe
11/01/07 Bruton Smith is up to something, and the absolute truth is I don’t know right now what it is.
Smith, of course, loves that.
Smith did give a couple of interviews on Charlotte radio stations on Wednesday. He told WBT-AM (1110) and WFNZ-AM (610) that he has a “big” announcement planned for 2 p.m. Friday. Presumably, that would come at Texas Motor Speedway, the track he owns near Fort Worth where NASCAR’s top three series will be racing this weekend.
What I called Smith to ask about Wednesday was whether he’d made a deal to buy New Hampshire International Speedway.
Smith told me he has heard that John Henry and Jack Roush, the owners of Roush Fenway Racing (and, in Henry’s case, of the Boston Red Sox) were interested in buying that track. Smith said he has also heard that George Gillett, Ray Evernham’s partner, might want it. Or that Kentucky Speedway owner Jerry Carroll wants it.
What I asked him, though, was whether he’s bought it, or has a deal to buy it.
He tried to change the subject again, then finally said, “It’s unfortunate that you weren’t able to get up with me for a comment today.” But he also said that I might be able to reach him later this week.
“Are you going to Texas,” he said. I told him I was.
Gardner does photo shoot for MaximUPDATE #2 Along with the photo session Lauren did with Maxim Magazine of Mexico, she also did several others, including the Reforma, Excelsior, Record, and Estadio newspapers.
Reforma (L) and Excelsior ( R)
10/31/07 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Here are the photos from the Mexico version of Maxim magazine to prove it.
09/29/07 In conjunction for the buildup for Champ Car's Mexico City race, Lauren Gardner, 2007 Face of Champ Car, is rumored to have done an exclusive photo session at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez track for Maxim magazine to be included in the November issue.
IRL to roll out new sponsorsUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement. Expect more IRL sponsors to be announced soon. Expect them to do a lot more for the IRL than Roshfrans did for Champ Car. After doing essentially nothing they quietly stepped aside.
10/30/07 The new official motor oil of the IRL has been announced as Peak Lubricants.
10/29/07 The Indy Racing League will roll out category sponsorship deals with soft drink, energy drink and motor oil brands in the next two months.
IRL officials declined to divulge which companies the deals are with, but said each are multiyear, multimillion-dollar deals.
Sources close to the series said Frank’s Energy Drink will be one of the category sponsors. The Austrian-made drink is huge in parts of Europe and throughout Canada, with a healthy marketing budget and ambitious U.S. expansion plans.
Former rocker Gene Simmons, who was hired in 2006 to help market the IRL, has an affiliation with Frank’s and was said to be instrumental in the deal.
IRL officials said these agreements are the biggest sponsorship deals they’ve inked in more than five years. They all represent category sponsorships the IRL has never had.
10/30/07 Rumor has it that Champ Car will announce an increase in horsepower from their Cosworth engines for the season finale in Mexico City in two weeks. If all goes well look for the added HP to become the standard for 2008. It is assumed the extra HP will be done by increasing the turbo boost pressure to give the cars more HP with normal boost pressure and an extra 100 HP (up from 50) when the push-to-pass button is engaged.
Mutoh to replace Franchitti, sign of IRL weaknessUPDATE #2 Mutoh will join Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick at Andretti Green Racing but his recruitment will be seen as a sign that even the strongest IRL teams are now looking for money because clearly Mutoh is getting this ride because he brings sponsorship and is backed by Aguri Suzuki's operations.
10/30/07 Hideki Mutoh, a Japanese driver with only 15 races in the Indy Pro Series, will be officially confirmed Wednesday to the team's No. 27 car. Mutoh, 25, is backed by Aguri Suzuki.
10/14/07 Robin Miller reported on The SPEED Report Sunday night that Japanese driver Hideki Mutoh is rumored to be replacing Dario Franchitti at Andretti Green Racing with backing from Honda.
Honda is reported to be putting a Japanese driver in a top car to prove that Japanese drivers can win a race. It will be ironic if Mutoh wins before Danica.
Alonso lawyer set for McLaren visit - report (GMM) A lawyer representing Fernando Alonso is due to meet with McLaren officials at Woking on Wednesday, according to a Spanish sports daily.
The newspaper 'Marca' claims that the meeting is the first step to deciding the 26-year-old's future at the Mercedes-powered team, including the possibility of an early end to a minimally two-year contract that began in 2007.
Alonso's manager Luis Garcia Abad, however, denied the story to the British newspaper The Guardian, and also rejected team boss Ron Dennis' recent claim that the uncertainty will be cleared up soon.
"Nothing is urgent. We are trying to rest a little. I have no special meetings with McLaren scheduled," he said.
Abad also played down rumors that Alonso could be heading for Williams next year. The latest whisper is that he could team up in 2008 alongside Mark Webber at Red Bull on a single-year contract.
"We have a contract next year with McLaren and that's it. Can they sell it? Without our approval, no they cannot," Alonso's manager insisted.
Honda are preparing to relegate the 'past-it' Rubens Barrichello to their 'B-team' Super Aguri next season. Although the Brazilian has a contract with the Brackley outfit for the 2008 season, F1 Racing Magazine claims that the team has lost faith in the 35-year-old after he was comprehensively out-raced by Jenson Button during the second half of the 2007 campaign.
The magazine cites Barrichello's undistinguished performance in China - where he finished in 15th place, 10 positions behind Button - as being the breaking point in their relationship. It claims that 'the team's engineers, in particular, have become frustrated by what they see as a lack of effort on their driver's part' and quotes one mechanic grumbling in Shanghai, "We think he got scared. It's about time he retired, isn't it?" Confidence in Barrichello has also reputedly dried up amongst the team's hierarchy. 'Many F1 insiders now feel that, like fellow veterans Alex Wurz, Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella, Rubens has passed his sell-by date.
"What's new is that many Honda insiders now feel the same way,' the magazine reports. 'There is a growing faction within Honda that favors relegating Barrichello to Super Aguri for 2008. Crucially, Rubens no longer has the support within Honda of his friend and countryman Gil de Ferran, who resigned as sporting director in July of this year." Skysports
France family to put NASCAR up for sale? On the heels of another report of a drop in TV ratings, this time a 16% dip over last year for this weeks Atlanta event, comes another indication that there could be a chink in the once impregnable armor of NASCAR. Just weeks after rumblings that there could be a change in the NASCAR leadership with current CEO Brian France stepping aside for his uncle Jim France, there seems to be speculation that NASCAR itself could be for sale. Multiple sources are saying that NASCAR’s parent company, International Speedway Corporation, is studying the sale of the world’s largest stock car auto racing sanctioning body due to financial troubles. Two sources say that an investment bank, most likely New York based Lehman Brothers, has completed a study that placed a value on NASCAR and that a prospectus has been prepared. The financial troubles for ISC include the costs of lawsuit mitigation, combined with the loss of potential tracks in New York and Washington State. Combined with falling ticket sales and TV ratings, according to some, investors are getting weary. This concern could force not only the change in leadership, but also a partial or full sale of the entire sanctioning body. Cupscene
[Editor's Note: A more plausible scenario may be the fear of losing an antitrust lawsuit because the France Family both owns NASCAR which hands out race dates and contracts, and ISC which is the company the family controls and is the biggest benefactor of race dates handed out by NASCAR. It can indeed be deemed a monopoly by the courts, which could force the sale.]
Chrysler to axe three models The board of Chrysler LLC is expected to decide today to kill at least three slow-selling models as part of a sweeping strategic realignment of the newly private automaker. People close to Chrysler said the board, in its initial meeting under new Chairman and CEO Bob Nardelli, likely will approve plans to discontinue the Chrysler Pacifica crossover, the Dodge Magnum wagon and the PT Cruiser hatchback. Scaling back products is expected to be the first of several major initiatives at Chrysler as it takes shape under the ownership of private-equity giant Cerberus Capital Management LP. A Chrysler spokesman declined Monday to confirm the board meeting or its agenda.
We hear that negotiations about Fernando Alonso between Renault and Telefonica have not been going very well in recent days with there being disagreements about some of the people involved in the Renault F1 project. One rumor we have heard, which may have some credence, is that there may be more to Fernando Alonso's conversations with Red Bull Racing than was initially thought although there are conflicts over the length of the contract as Alonso obviously wants to be free after one season and Red Bull wants a longer-term commitment. Grandprix.com
NASCAR to bar Cup drivers from earning Busch points NASCAR officials are considering alterations to the point system for the Nationwide Series that would deny points for most, if not all, Sprint Cup drivers in 2009, several sources have told NASCAR Scene.
Beginning in 2009, drivers in the top 35 in the Sprint Cup standings would not be eligible to receive points in the Nationwide Series, under a proposal being considered by NASCAR.
NASCAR officials declined comment on the plan since it is under consideration. The sanctioning body, sources said, has also talked to teams in the series about other possible rules changes for 2009 in an attempt to differentiate itself from the Cup series.
If the proposed point system were in effect for this season, the series standings would be drastically different. Scenedaily.com
New sponsor for AndrettiUPDATE #2 For more on this rumor about Frank's Energy Drink (first broke by AutoRacing1.com) going to AGR, see this rumor. This rumor is upgraded to strong.
10/14/07 It looks like we have uncovered who the new AGR energy sponsor may be - Frank's Energy Drink. We hear Gene Simmons is tied in with the deal and so to perhaps 7-Eleven. Gene Simmons is lending his legendary rock star energy and enthusiasm to help market and promote Frank's Energy Drink. He also of course does a similar effort for the IRL. So it appears Simmons is sending Frank's Energy Drink the IRL's way. Frank's is named after Frank Stronach, who came from Austria to Canada with nothing more than a few hundred dollars and a dream to own his own business. That business is today one of the largest automotive manufacturers in the world, with sales of more than $25 billion per year and 85,000 employees.
10/14/07 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Andretti Green Racing will announce that an energy drink company will sponsor one of their existing drivers next year. Putting 2 and 2 together, Danica has a multi-year deal with Motorola, we believe Tony Kanaan is locked up with 7-Eleven and that leaves Marco Andretti. The NYSE never made any sense to us as there is zero fit between the stock exchange and race fans. Fans buy the stock they want regardless of what exchange it is on. A person does not buy one stock vs. another based on the stock exchange it's traded on. Previous Andretti sponsor Archipelago bought the NYSE, that is why NYSE went on the car. Therefore, we conclude that Marco Andretti will be sponsored by an energy drink company in 2008.
IRL may not have to worry about losing HornishUPDATE #2 As for Sam Hornish Jr., one of Penske's two IndyCar Series drivers who is considering the switch to the Cup Series but has yet to qualify for a race, the plan is to continue trying to get him in a race. "We're going to keep digging," Penske said. He said the team likely will know its plans for Hornish by the Phoenix Cup race in two weeks, but it is clear from where we sit he does not have what it takes to race in NASCAR after spending years driving 100% throttle high downforce IRL cars that do not require car control. But with that said, rumors persist Hornish will be in NASCAR next year.
09/21/07 Former Champ Car drivers Juan Montoya and AJ Allmendinger will start 2nd and 11th at Dover respectively.
09/21/07 At the current rate the IRL has nothing to worry about with regard to losing their superstar driver Sam Hornish Jr. (who we don't rate). He again failed to qualify for a Nextel Cup race, this time at Dover Friday and his NASCAR career may be over before it even starts. The excuse from the Penske team last weekend was that he didn't push hard enough.
So far all his outings in NASCAR Busch and Cup have been horrible and it seems he can't drive fast enough unless it is a 100% throttle IndyCar, which requires little talent. On the Indy Car road and street circuits he has yet to make an impression. They of course are not 100% throttle. Perhaps he will do well at Talladega and Daytona, which are 100% throttle restrictor plate NASCAR tracks.
Penske team eyes switch to Toyota?UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Penske Racing owner Roger Penske said Sunday that his team will be driving Dodges for years to come. Penske said he has agreed to a multi-year deal with Dodge. The team contract was set to expire at the end of the 2008 season. "We've extended our relationship," Penske said. "We've got it good. With [Robert] Nardelli there [as CEO of Chrysler], the commitment is here." ESPN.com
10/15/06 Toyota's Lee White looks at the furor over Ford and Roush losing Martin, and at Dodge's woes, and similar troubles in other rival camps, and said that all may play in Toyota's favor early next season.
Toyota's 2007 Cup lineup so far: two Davis teams, three Waltrip teams, and two Red Bull teams, and two part-time teams. "I won't deny we've had conversations with existing teams, from every manufacturer," White said, leaving the answers up in the air. "It's not something we're actively pursuing. Teams have approached us; we have not approached them."
One of those teams, sources say, could be Roger Penske's two-car Dodge operation. According to one source, Penske's Ryan Newman has just tested a Camry.
At the moment, White said Toyota is simply busy getting all its parts and pieces approved by NASCAR and shipped to the teams for construction of '07 cars.
"The good news is those parts are coming through, there are lots of cars on the ground, going to the wind tunnel, going to the race track. I see light at the end of the tunnel. But there's still a mountain to climb." More at Winston Salem Journal [Related article on Toyota's plan to conquer the Nextel Cup Series]
McClure Motorsports to return for 2008 Team owner Larry McClure says that his team will be back in Cup racing next season, but he has yet to finalize his plans. McClure has two more years of sponsorship from State Water Heaters, but is looking for additional sponsorship for about 15 races. "We just need something else to come with them and we'll be fine," he said. He has not named a driver for next season. Ward Burton has been driving for the team this season. "I guess we're considering our options," he said. "We still don't have firm sponsorship for the complete season. When we do, then we'll be seriously talking to some people. We've talked to some people, including Ward. It's kind of unclear right now." SceneDaily.com
Mallya tempers Ralf-to-Spyker rumorsUPDATE #2 Ralf Schumacher actually told his colleagues in the GPDA meeting that he will continue as President in 08 as he will be racing, but the question is where? The lowly Spyker team appears to be the only team that would take him at this point.
10/11/07 (GMM) The new owner of Spyker has tempered speculation that Ralf Schumacher is in pole position to rescue his formula one career with the Silverstone based team in 2008.
32-year-old Schumacher and Vijay Mallya became close friends as the Indian sponsored Toyota through his Kingfisher brand in 2007.
And with the German now committed to leaving Toyota after next Sunday's Brazilian grand prix, some keen-eyed observers spotted his manager Hans Mahr in conversation with Mallya in the Shanghai paddock.
Asked specifically about Ralf's chances of landing a seat for next year, Mallya said: "I personally hold him in high regard.
"But a driver lineup is not something that should be decided by the heart but by the brain. I want drivers that can raise the standards in the team.
"I always get asked if we will have an Indian driver and my response is, if I can find one who is ready, yes. But only under the parameters just said," he told F1's official website.
Mallya added: "Drivers are a crucial part of the team so the driver lineup is a serious matter and not a sympathy contest."
The team's future CEO, meanwhile, refused to be drawn on whether Spyker will be renamed something like 'Pride of India' next year.
Changing a team's name is a complicated affair that, among other things, can require the unanimous consent of every other grand prix outfit.
"It is my vision that India is part of the name, yes," Mallya answered. "What it will be in the end is not decided yet so everybody will have to wait."
10/07/07 (GMM) Nine of F1's eleven teams have answered "no" to whether they would consider accommodating Toyota refugee Ralf Schumacher in 2008.
Only Super Aguri and Williams would not comment, according to the German Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
"I knew that without doing an inquiry," triple world champion Niki Lauda told the newspaper. "Ralf will probably have to stop."
32-year-old Schumacher's manager Hans Mahr commented: "We consider inquiries like this completely meaningless. We continue to negotiate."
The most likely opening for Schumacher next year is at Spyker, which is now officially co-owned by his friend and Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya.
Existing Spyker driver Adrian Sutil, meanwhile, was asked by the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad who he sees as his ideal teammate for next year.
"Someone who is fast and who pushes me, because then you are forced to make yourself even better," he said, before adding: "Someone with a big name and with much experience."
Toyota to axe Trulli too? After three bad races from Jarno Trulli, Toyota management is rumored to be in doubt about whether they should carry on with the Italian driver or not. Trulli has criticized the car in the media, something the Japanese do not like, and he also gave public advice to Alonso not to go to Toyota because the team is so bad. Certainly not a way to make friends with your employer.
Dennis favors one driver (GMM) F1 veteran David Coulthard has refused to back McLaren's insistence that the team always treats both its drivers equally.
Amid Fernando Alonso's suspicions of favoritism towards his British teammate Lewis Hamilton this year, Coulthard admits that he also experienced moments of second-rate treatment throughout his McLaren tenure in 1996-2004.
Coulthard, who now drives for Red Bull, said he discovered as early as his first race for the Woking based team that boss Ron Dennis cared more about teammate Mika Hakkinen.
"The first sign that there might be specific favoritism towards Mika came in Melbourne 1996," the Scot wrote in his autobiography 'It Is What It Is'.
"I was with my race engineer and Mika was chatting to his.
"The door opened and Ron walked in. I stood up to shake his hand and Ron ignored me. Instead he strode over to sit next to Mika and said, 'What's the plan (for the race), guys?' We all listened to Mika's plans and then Ron said, 'OK, what are they doing?'
"Here was my team principal talking about me as if I was a rival team. 'They' is not a word you use in a team situation, surely?
"At that exact moment, I think the naivety, the innocence of my youth, shattered around me," Coulthard added.
Todt could hand over reigns to BrawnUPDATE #2 Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo confirmed that his team's F1 structure will be announced by the end of the year and it is expected at that point the team will clear up all the speculation around whether Jean Todt will move to an executive role on the road car side of the business and whether Ross Brawn will return as F1 team principal. "As always with Jean Todt we will announce the structure of Ferrari at the end of the year," di Montezemolo said. "But the strength of the company is the stability of its men, the growth of our people, our technicians, our engineers, the whole team, inside the sports management and the company itself."
10/26/07 (GMM) Luca di Montezemolo has proffered an indistinct denial to rumors that Jean Todt's reign at the helm of the Ferrari team is nearing an end.
Frenchman Todt, who has led the Maranello based marque's sporting arm since 1993, is also currently CEO of the entire Ferrari organization.
"Until further notice he will carry on doing that, while also having the Gestione Sportiva under his wing," di Montezemolo, Ferrari president, said after a Fiat Group board meeting earlier this week.
It is rumored that Todt and Montezemolo may have fallen out, amid the latter's apparent desire to see Ross Brawn return from sabbatical in charge of the famous formula one team in 2008.
"In any case, we'll announce the team organization for 2008 at Christmas," the Italian added.
10/24/07 (GMM) Jean Todt remains coy about his future at the helm of Ferrari's formula one team. Persistently strong rumors indicate that the Frenchman, who also guided the Italian squad's golden period early this century with Michael Schumacher, has fallen out over Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo over his separate vision for the future of the Prancing Horse.
According to speculation, Todt is particularly at odds with Montezemolo's desire to unite Fernando Alonso with Ferrari with Ross Brawn at the helm, presumably at the expense of Felipe Massa, who is managed by Todt's son Nicolas.
Todt, 61, dodged a question about his future at Interlagos last Friday.
"Each thing at a time," he told reporters.
Todt added: "Even with a very strong change in the team, Ferrari has remained very competitive, very strong and very united together, very good atmosphere, so that is what we wanted to achieve and that is our main objective to achieve, with or without me."
He was asked a similar question about his future at Ferrari by reporters after the race, in which Kimi Raikkonen clinched the first title in the Maranello based outfit's post-Schumacher period.
"My future now with the team is to have a quick dinner with them tonight, which was already planned. I need to fly later to Europe, so that is my nearest future," he answered.
Less teasingly, Todt added that it is not yet "the proper time" to address his longer term future at the helm of the famous team.
But he suggested: "The final result (of the 2007 championship) is not going to affect my personal choices."
Would NASCAR switch to Ethanol?UPDATE CEO Rick Wagoner of General Motors has been talking with NASCAR executives about bringing ethanol fuel into stock-car racing, to make the sport “greener.”
Brent Dewar, GM vice president in charge of racing, said “We are guests at this party. But we’re also a partner, and we think this would be the right signal to send to America. We have to reduce our (foreign) dependency.
“We know they have a fuel partner (Sunoco), and we’re respectful of that. We’re hoping that when the time comes for a discussion of the fuel we can talk about that. What we have to do now is show them some of the technical learnings we’ve had with ethanol in other series.
04/29/05 Several Midwestern Senators want to tap into NASCAR’s marketing power. The four farm-state Senators have sent a request to the sport's top officials, asking them to switch to a corn-based Ethanol fuel and take part in a new kind of promotion.
“What we really want NASCAR to do is to adopt this because it’s the fuel of the Heartland of the country. They could make a statement about how high performance a fuel Ethanol really is,” said Missouri’s Jim Talent.
Talent isn't alone in his thinking. The Senator is joined by fellow Republican Norm Coleman, of Minnesota, and Democrats Tom Harkin of Iowa, and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. The bipartisan group is grandstanding for alternative fuels in an effort to help their farmer-constituents.
“They’d be helping American farmers instead of Saudi oil producers and that’s certainly the right statement to make now, too. This would be an important, and a good step for NASCAR to take,” said Talent.
Penske eyeing Allmendinger?UPDATE #2 A.J. Allmendinger said that he was amused Friday morning when he read an internet report stating that at least one other Cup team may be interested in him driving for it next season. "People get bored during the week, and I guess they get bored with talking about Jimmie and Jeff," Allmendinger said. "If it is true, it shows me that least people are noticing (me)."
Allmendinger said that he has no plans to leave Team Red Bull Racing. He has qualified for 15 races this year as a rookie and posted his best finish earlier this month at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "My focus is trying to finish this year off good and get ready for next year," Allmendinger said. Macon.com
A.J. Allmendinger, an Indy-car racer trying to make it in NASCAR, has another year on his contract with Toyota’s Team Red Bull, according to competition director Elton Sawyer. Nevertheless, there is speculation that at least one rival team owner would like to make a run at Allmendinger, even though Allmendinger has had a fitful first season on the stock-car tour. Winston Salem Journal
04/11/07 Take it for what it's worth...a rumor, but the latest circulating, is that Roger Penske has talked to AJ Allmendinger about an opening at Penske (for his IndyCar team) should things not work out at Red Bull (NASCAR) for AJ and Hornish decides to move on to Busch/Cup next year.
The drag strip that triggered the dispute between Bruton Smith and Concord City Government is said to cost $60 million to build according to Smith's group.
At that budget, the proposed strip would by far be the most expensive such raceway ever built in the U.S. Most strips proposed in recent years had price tags of $10 million to $15 million. The most expensive strip to date cost less than $30 million.
Although Speedway Motorsports, with Smith as chairman and CEO, would pay to build the strip, the amount of investment helps determine how much in government incentives the project could get from Concord and Cabarrus County.
City and county officials have discussed incentives in an effort to keep Smith from closing Lowe's -- a threat made after the City Council on Oct. 1 voted to ban the drag strip, seeking more information about how noise would affect nearby residents.
City leaders have since reversed their stance, and a vote to undo the drag-strip ban is scheduled for tonight. Yet Smith hasn't publicly budged from last week's statement that there's a 90 percent chance he'll close Lowe's and build a $350 million speedway elsewhere in the region.
Sounds like Smith is using a form of blackmail (threat to leave Concord) to milk more incentives (money) from the Concord City Government by over-inflating the estimated cost to build the drag strip.
Kazuki Nakajima says he expects to continue racing in the GP2 Series in 2008. The Japanese driver has combined the Formula 1 feeder series with testing duties for Williams this year and made his race debut for the Grove squad at the season finale in Brazil last weekend where he ran over his pit crew and hospitalized two men.
Nakajima insists that although a race seat in F1 next year isn’t out of the question, he will more than likely continue in GP2 for a second season.
"It isn't impossible for me to get an F1 seat next year, but I think it will be another year in GP2,” he told The Red Bulletin magazine at Interlagos.
Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has revived the idea of staging a London Grand Prix – saying the ambitious plan is “not dead in the water”.
A street race in England’s capital city was first floated in 2004 following a hugely successful street demonstration of F1 cars down Regent Street.
Ecclestone made no secret of his desire to pull a London GP off, but admitted projected costs for staging such an event were too high and seemed to signal the death knell for the plan earlier this year.
However, after a season in which Lewis Hamilton’s stunning exploits have captured the imagination of a wide audience in Britain, Ecclestone has signaled it could still happen if the money is found.
“It would be great if we could do it,” he was quoted as saying by London’s Evening Standard newspaper.
“The idea is not dead in the water.”
He added that should a London race ever come to fruition then it could follow the precedent which is set to be made by Singapore next September and hold a grand prix under floodlights.
“If they can do it then we should be doing it,” Ecclestone said. ITV/F1
Haas team could lose sponsors With NASCAR's falling attendance and falling TV ratings, some teams are having a hard time convincing their existing sponsors to renew. Haas CNC Racing has settled on its drivers for its two-car Sprint Cup team in 2008, but its sponsorship situation is unsettled.
Best Buy, which backs the team's No. 66 - driven for the first time this weekend by Jeremy Mayfield - has not decided its future, a spokesman for the company said this week.
And Wednesday, a statement released by Yellow Transportation said that company is evaluating its future in the sport. Yellow entered Nextel Cup this season as sponsor of Johnny Sauter's No. 70.
Champ Car eyes Middle EastUPDATE #3 Paul Tracy believes Champ Car needs to continue its international focus - "rumors are we've got a new race lined up in Bahrain" - but maintain a strong presence in the United States, perhaps even through a merger, finally and after years of negotiations, with the Indy Racing League.
"I think we need to have as many American races as we can .. we can't abandon races in the States because we're struggling for sponsorship there," he said. "We've got to keep our core fan base." TSN.ca
10/14/07 Robin Miller reported on The SPEED Report Sunday night that Kevin Kalkhoven is in Europe this week trying to negotiate a deal for a race in Dubai. He will be in Dubai next weekend before flying back to California for the JDS Uniphase trial that begins the 23rd.
09/28/07 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, You mention two possible races in Germany next year. Two? Is that possible. Dan Duffel
Dear Dan, Nurburgring is pretty definite according to what we heard a month ago. Not sure of the other venue in Germany. We do know that either Monza (with the FIA-GT series) or Imola are being tossed around in Italy, a race in Spain, we've heard Brands Hatch and Donington Park in the UK and a street race in Greece are all possibilities....and of course Dubai if they decide to try their hand at the Middle East. Mark C.
09/27/07 Rumor has it that Champ Car is trying to line up a new race in the Middle East for 2008, most likely in Dubai. We also hear that they are eyeing two possible new races in Germany, one in Greece, Italy, South Korea, Japan and of course China. Which ones come through remains to be seen.
Heylen may not return to Champ CarUPDATE The author said he doubts Champ Car will make it in 2008 but Jan Heylen told Autoracing1.com today that those were not his words and that Champ Car has been a great series and he is trying to put a deal together for 2008 in Champ Car. To cover his bases in case it does not work out in Champ Car, yes he is looking at ALMS and Grand-Am too.
10/24/07 In this Belgian article Belgian Champ Car driver Jan Heylen says that he won't be back in 2008 and is looking for a ride in ALMS or Grand-Am. Therefore, one has to wonder whether Champ Car will be back at Zolder in 2008, since Heylen is one of the few drivers from Belgium with the requisite experience. He also says, like many others, that he doubts Champ Car will exist in 2008. Statements like this, if not true, cast Champ Car in a very bad light for all the obvious reasons.
Johnny Sauter is still, as far as he knows, the driver of the #70 Yellow Transportation Chevy for the same team, but Scott Riggs has been signed by the team for 2008. That leaves Sauter in an interesting position: Does he have a job or not? He has a sponsor in Yellow Transportation that is committed to the series, and they seem happy with Sauter. Latest is that Sauter will go to a second team with Robby Gordon, taking Yellow with him. NASCAR.com
Furniture Row Racing officials say the team is working on the final details of a three-year contract with driver Joe Nemechek. Nemechek took over the team's No. 78 Nextel Cup Series entry at California Speedway in September. With the team outside the top 35 in owners points, Nemechek qualified his way into six consecutive races before failing to make the field for the last two. The organization is also seeking sponsorship to start a second team to run at least a limited schedule in the series.
Bernie to seal Brazil F1 future through 2014UPDATE (GMM) The future of the Brazilian grand prix will shortly be guaranteed through to 2014.
At the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on Saturday, otherwise known as Interlagos, it was rumored that Bernie Ecclestone would soon ink a new contract with organizers of the F1 race, including the construction of a much needed new paddock and pit complex.
It now emerges that F1's chief executive did indeed reach an agreement last weekend with Sao Paulo mayor Gilberto Kassab and Brazilian sports minister Orlando Silva, according to local reports.
A formal contract, also requiring a new 10,000 seat grandstand, is expected to be signed within the next few weeks.
10/20/07 (GMM) The future of the Brazilian grand prix is expected to be confirmed by Bernie Ecclestone on Saturday.
According to rumors at Interlagos, located just outside downtown Sao Paulo, F1's chief executive has inked a new contract that guarantees a formula one race at the circuit until 2014.
Part of the deal, according to the speculation, is the organizers' pledge to build a new pit and paddock complex, replacing the ageing current facilities.
No rest for Rosberg rumors (GMM) Williams chiefs are not even contemplating letting Nico Rosberg depart to McLaren for the 2008 season.
That is the insistence of the Grove based team's co-owner and engineering boss Patrick Head, who addressed increasing speculation that the 22-year-old German would be an ideal replacement for Fernando Alonso next year.
Rosberg is under contract to Williams for 2008, but some have suggested that McLaren's interest might be an excellent source of income for the independent team.
"I don't think Rosberg's departure would be the death of the team but, as a competitive force, until we find somebody who could replace Nico, it would certainly be difficult," Head is quoted as saying.
"It's something neither Frank (Williams) or myself is even contemplating."
Head's comments follow the visit to Interlagos of McLaren's last world champion Mika Hakkinen, who told Finnish commercial television MTV3 that it is very unlikely Alonso will stay at the team in 2008.
The Finn, still a close friend of Ron Dennis, specifically mentioned Rosberg, who he said would be a "great driver for McLaren".
Champ Car Super V8 merger in works?UPDATE #2 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. “At no stage has either myself or anyone from the management of V8 Supercars Australia held discussions with Champ Car with a view to holding joint races in any location,” V8 boss Tony Cochrane said. “I have no idea where this story originated and we have no short or long term plans to conduct events either in Australia or overseas with Champ Car.
“The relationship has worked well on the Gold Coast up until now and only has one year left on our current agreement. At this stage we have no plans and nor have we discussed the future to be involved in Indy beyond the event next October.
“I am disappointed that these type of speculative comments would come up when at no stage have I been asked for my opinion. V8 Supercars Australia has an outstanding success record with events both in Australia and internationally and our primary market remains Australia.
“Next year we will introduce a new street race in New Zealand which on advance sales has almost sold out six months before the event begins in Hamilton. The board of V8 Supercars Australia takes its' responsibility to the championship in a serious manner and does not conduct speculative concepts via the press.”
10/21/07 Champ Car series vice-president David Higdon said Sunday it was premature to start talking about a deal between his US-based Open Wheel Racing Series and the Australian-based V8s, which would mean double billing at some events in 2009.
The double bill works perfectly at the Lexmark Indy and it is understood V8s supremo Tony Cochrane met Champ Car boss Kevin Kalkhoven last week to work out a possible strategy, although nothing concrete had been settled.
Under the proposal being discussed, the Champ Cars and V8s would have equal billing at street circuit races. Mr. Higdon said Champ Car already co-existed with other classes at some races in the US.
"This is a great recipe here," said Mr. Higdon.
"We're looking at any scenario that will help Champ Car and help promote motorsports in the US.
"We're constantly in conversations with key people (but) just because you have something that's wildly successful here, that doesn't mean you can do it elsewhere.
"Obviously this is a top-tier event and it's the model for the rest of the series. I think there are good opportunities for both organizations to have co-sanctioned events but it's early days."
Team Australia boss Craig Gore said at the weekend that speculation of a takeover by V8 organizers was 'crap'.
But he did support the concept of the V8s joining Champ Car in parts of Europe and the US to run as a double act.
Mr. Cochrane has been trying for some time to extend the reach of V8s, kicking off races in the Middle East and China. Goldcoast.com.au
10/21/07 Rumor here in Australia suggests that plans are being drawn up for V8 Supercars and Champ Cars to form a shock merger and duplicate the annual Gold Coast Indy event worldwide. This may explain why we spotted Tony Cochrane in Assen last month (See related rumor).
The Indy 300 festival would be used as a blueprint for how two series can develop a relationship and be driven into key international markets.
There is speculation that V8 Supercars chairman Tony Cochrane is being courted by Champ Car to usher in a bold new era.
The exclusive development could be up and running by 2009 and see V8 Supercars and Champ Cars run together in Long Beach, South Africa, Asia and elsewhere around the world.
Six new companies eye Surfers race sponsorship Lexmark 300 Indy general manager Greg Hooton hailed the four-day event a success. However, while he said he was confident about the future of the Champ Car series, he could not guarantee it. In recent days there has been widespread speculation about the future of the series and the possibility of changes to the Surfers Paradise event.
"I can never guarantee what Champ Car will do. My major concern is making sure we can put on the best race that we can," he said.
"Champ Car is certainly positive about their future. They'll probably announce an extra round or two in Europe next year, so they're still looking to move forward, and the same with the V8s."
Mr. Hooton said he had not looked at other options if Champ Cars folded.
"Until such time as I get more of an indication that something was going to happen I'm quite comfortable where Champ Cars sit," he said.
Despite concerns about the future, sponsors appear keen to remain involved in the event.
Six companies are interested in a naming-rights sponsorship deal after current sponsor Lexmark announced it would not continue next year.
"We took them around and showed them what it was all about. Between now and the new year it's a matter of trying to follow up with all of those guys and make sure that we address each and all of their concerns," said Mr. Hooton. "I'd like to think that we could have something in the new year. It may take a bit longer."
Mr. Hooton said the new sponsor could be national or international. Goldcoast.com.au
It's been nothing but downhill for NASCAR under Brian France's rule
If rumblings are to be believed NASCAR may soon have a new CEO. According to some there is speculation inside International Speedway Corporation that current NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France will step down from his post ‘in days’ to make room for his uncle, Jim France.
The conjecture is that the growth of the sport has stagnated to point where a change at the helm is necessary. TV ratings are down and several attempts to build new speedways in different regions of the country have been thwarted.
Brian France assumed the role of CEO from his late father, Bill France Junior, in October 2003. He instituted several changes in NASCAR including the Chase for the Nextel Cup.
Jim France is currently Vice Chairman and executive vice president of NASCAR and the Chairman and CEO of ISC the parent company of NASCAR.
Lesa France, sister of Brian who is currently vice president and treasurer of NASCAR and president of ISC, would also assume a new role under the management shuffle
What role Brian France would assume isn’t clear although he would remain within the company. Cup Scene Daily
Valvoline moving to another team? Patrick Carpentier’s #10 Dodge in 2008, which is half-owned by Valvoline and half-owned by Gillett Evernham Motorsports, likely will have a primary sponsor other than the oil company next year, sources sell TFR. Valvoline is an associate sponsor for Roush Fenway Racing. Ford Racing
F1 title still up in the air? NoUPDATE #5 Luca di Montezemolo said he believes McLaren's appeal will not change the F1 championship outcome.
"It looks to me like it is a useless stress for everyone," he told Italian radio station RAI.
"The regulations say that even if some car gets disqualified, it doesn't mean that the points are automatically given to the others."
"Enough of that, let's look ahead and let's send professional stewards to the races instead of amateurs at large," he said.
"It must be said that the complexity of today's cars creates difficulties in checks and verifications, from the electronics to the fuels, aerodynamics and everything else. Everything is about hundredths of seconds."
10/21/07 McLaren Mercedes have notified the FIA of their intention to appeal the race stewards' decision not to penalize BMW Sauber and Williams. We do not expect them to win the appeal since there will be an argument as to what the precise ambient temperature was and exactly when and where it was measured. And finally what was the exact performance gain from the 3 or 4 degree colder fuel?
In the end justice was served as McLaren, like other Michelin teams that ran Bridgestones for the first time this year, would have been nowhere without the stolen Ferrari secrets. Even Renault, Champions the last two years, were lost this year on Bridgestones.
So McLaren or its drivers in no way, shape, or form deserve to win. And if McLaren wins the appeal Ferrari will immediately sue to have the McLaren drivers, as was the team, excluded from the championship for gaining an advantage from stolen Ferrari secrets.
Bank on it.
10/21/07 The FIA has decided that there will be no penalty for the Williams and BMW teams and, therefore, Kimi Raikkonen is now officially the 2007 F1 World Drivers Champion.
10/21/07 The FIA has confirmed that the fuel temperatures of the BMW Sauber and Williams cars were outside the regulations during the course of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
As the race stewards continue to investigate the matter to decide on whether or not a punishment is necessary, a statement issued by technical delegate Jo Bauer revealed the extent of the temperature variation of the cars involved.
Article 6.5.5 of the Formula One technical regulations states: "No fuel on board the car may be more than ten degrees centigrade below ambient temperature."
The statement issued by Bauer showed that Heidfeld's fuel was 13 degrees centigrade lower than ambient at his first stop and 12 degrees centigrade lower at his second stop.
Robert Kubica's fuel varied by 14 degrees, 13 degrees and 13 degrees at his three stops; Nico Rosberg's fuel was 13 degrees and 12 degrees out at his two stops and Kazuki Nakajima's was 12 degrees out at his first stop. His second stop was inside the 10-degree limit.
10/21/07 Spyker technical chief Mike Gascoyne said he believed the variation would have provided a performance advantage.
"It can be five to ten horsepower easily," he told autosport.com. "The car is producing a performance advantage during the race. If they dump fuel in that is below the [temp] limit, it is an illegal performance advantage. They should be excluded from the event, there is absolutely no doubt."
10/21/07 (GMM) A stewards inquiry following the Brazilian grand prix has put a question-mark alongside Kimi Raikkonen's world championship triumph on Sunday.
It has emerged from Interlagos that investigations are currently taking place regarding the BMW-Sauber and Williams teams, after fuel samples from the cars failed post-race scrutineering checks.
Nico Rosberg (Williams), Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld (BMW) finished the race fourth, fifth and sixth respectively, meaning that if they are disqualified, Lewis Hamilton would inherit three additional points.
If confirmed, the McLaren rookie would be crowned world champion ahead of Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso.
BMW and Williams representatives were indeed summoned to the stewards' office, according to a spokesperson for the FIA.
A BMW spokesperson confirmed that the issue relates to the temperature of the fuel sampled, and a BBC radio news item speculated that the fuel may have been too cold.
Gibbs or Waltrip is lying over GM secrets J.D. Gibbs, who runs Gibbs Racing for his owner/father, is denying that his team has provided any engine help to Toyota teams. Michael Waltrip apparently told a TV reporter that his hot run at Talladega was helped in part by some help from the Gibbs team. Gibbs said no way. The Gibbs teams are moving to Toyota next season when their contract with General Motors runs out at the end of this season. The issue is particularly sensitive since car owner Bill Davis, while still under contract with Dodge a few years ago and awaiting the end of that deal in order to move to Toyota, was taken to court by Dodge over technology issues. Winston Salem Journal
[Editor's Note: The Toyota F1 team was accused of producing an almost exact copy of the Ferrari F1 car a few years ago. Meanwhile both they and Honda continue to get eaten alive in F1 by the Germans and the small little Italian team called Ferrari. Allegations that Toyota has to use secrets from competing manufacturers to win won't do much to improve their image in the racing world.]
(GMM) Fernando Alonso and his manager at Interlagos repeated their denials that a deal to return to Renault next year is now effectively done.
Speculation is rife that a letter of intent or a verbal agreement - that would be formalized if he can win a release from his McLaren contract - are now in place with the Spaniard's former team.
The newspaper 'Marca' reports that Alonso's father Jose Luis, and manager Luis Garcia Abad, were at the weekend seen in conversation in Renault's hospitality area.
But Alonso's manager bristled at the mention of a done Renault deal.
"It is false, an absolute lie," he said. "We have a contract with McLaren, so we cannot sign with another team. It is forbidden," he is quoted as saying.
It should be pointed out that the Swiss based Contract Recognition Board has hefty penalties within its power should a driver be found to have a contractual relationship with two teams.
Garcia Abad would not comment on whether the CRB can rule against verbal agreements.
Alonso, meanwhile, would not confirm his future before departing Interlagos on Sunday.
"I don't know," he told reporters. "We will see what happens. As I always say, the first thing to see is that I have a contract for the coming years with McLaren.
"Speculation about whether I go to this team or another team are all lies, because until we see what McLaren want to do, there is nothing," he added.
McLaren organized a team dinner in Sao Paulo on Sunday evening. Alonso and his representatives did not attend.
Alonso back in happier days with Renault
10/11/07 (GMM) Fernando Alonso has signed a letter of intent to rejoin Renault starting next January (2008), according to emerging reports.
Germany's Bild newspaper said the document is the precursor to a definitive three-year contract (2008-2010), but only if the reigning world champion can successfully negotiate an end to his current McLaren deal.
Alonso, 26, is currently under contract to McLaren also for 2008, with an option to continue in 2009.
The news of Alonso's likely return to Renault follows reports that Toyota was offering the Spaniard a record retainer to switch to the Japanese giant for 2008.
The German magazine Sport Bild said the Cologne based team was prepared to fork out (US) $150 million for a three year deal; a comparable amount of money to that earned by Michael Schumacher at Ferrari towards the end of his illustrious career.
Although he is selling his Colorado based RuSPORT Champ Car team, Dan Pettit intends to stay in Champ Car as an owner. He told autosport.com, "I am planning to stay involved with a team, but put simply, it makes no business sense for me to independently run a race shop out of Loveland, Colorado. I want to find a solution that makes sense."
"I'm talking to all the obvious candidates (PCM and Conquest) and I have several options. Now I have to decide which one to take."
There is no way he will team up with Paul Gentilozzi's Rocketsports team.” Paul has his own business issues to deal with, and again, there's the problem of location, because they're based up in Michigan."
"I will continue to own a percentage of the series because I believe in it and it is a great product.
"I'm well aware that there are a lot of things wrong with it but the racing is great and you look at an event like this [Surfers Paradise] and you realize there are also lot of things right.
"There are a lot of great people involved in this series, and it has become like a second family. Leaving would be very, very hard."
Petty team to skirt NASCAR rules The Petty Enterprise team looks to use a loophole in the NASCAR rulebook next year with a driver swap to get both cars in the top-35 in points and be guaranteed race starting positions.
Bobby Labonte could find himself in the No. 45 instead of the 43 at Petty Enterprises should Kyle Petty fall out of the top 35 in Nextel Cup owners' points over the next five weeks. Petty said he would consider switching cars with his teammate so both would be guaranteed a starting spot, him on Labonte's points [17th] and Labonte on his past champion's provisional, the remainder of this season.
That also could help for next season if Labonte could race the No. 45 back into the top 35 that will be guaranteed a spot the first five races of 2008.
"Yeah, we'd consider it," Petty said Saturday between practices at Martinsville Speedway. "I'm not gonna lie. Look, as long as they don't change the rules and the rulebook is written that way, we're in the business to run racecars.
"We have two racecars, the 43 and 45. Whatever it takes to get those in, I don't see the issue with it."
Super Aguri loses $10M in its first year in F1 The Oxfordshire-based Super Aguri Formula One team, home to UK driver Anthony Davidson and one of the few F1 outfits not owned by a billionaire or a car manufacturer, has posted a £4.5m loss in its first year in the sport.
The team is owned by former F1 driver Aguri Suzuki and was only established four months before competing in its first F1 race in 2006. Boasting just 83 employees, it competes against teams with more than 500 staff.
With one of the lowest incomes of any of the 11 F1 teams, Super Aguri files abbreviated accounts that don't show turnover. Industry monitor Formula Money estimates that its sponsors paid a total of $5m (£2.5m) in 2006; Ferrari received over $180m last year.
Yet despite their financial support, many F1 teams struggle to break even. Last year the Williams team posted a £28m loss. The Independent
Many to test for backmarker Spyker team The revived Spyker F1 team is to have a major test in mid-November to try to decide who will join Adrian Sutil in the team next year. The young German has a contract with the team and new owner Vijay Mallya says he wants to keep Sutil. The other seat is up for grabs and we hear that there will be four drivers seen in action at the test with both Toyota drivers, Tonio Liuzzi and Sakon Yamamoto all expected to test. The big surprise is Trulli as it was thought that the Italian had a Toyota contract for next year. There were lots of rumors in Brazil suggesting that this may be paid off as Toyota tries to make a bigger impression. There is little doubt that Timo Glock will be confirmed as one of the Toyota drivers, probably on Monday, but it is a little more difficult to establish who will drive the other car. There have been stories of a possible deal for Robert Kubica but it is hard to imagine that the Pole would want to leave BMW to move to Toyota and even more unlikely that BMW would let him go. There were suggestions that Mark Webber might also be in the frame but the Australian says this is not true. It may end up that one of the Renault drivers could pop up at Toyota depending on whether or not Fernando Alonso moves back to Enstone. Grandprix.com
Massa in trouble for yellow flag breach? (GMM) Felipe Massa can expect to be penalised ahead of qualifying for his home grand prix after an incident during free practice on Saturday.
The Ferrari driver and Brazilian, who won at Interlagos a year ago and posted the fastest lap of the one hour practice session, is alleged to have overtaken a car while yellow flags were being waved for Robert Kubica's stricken BMW-Sauber.
Last year in Hungary, Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher were penalised for overtaking while, respectively, yellow and red flags were waved during the same Saturday morning practice session.
Stewards penalised both drivers by adding two seconds to their best lap times in each of the three sections of the subsequent qualifying session.
They ultimately both dropped out of qualifying in the second part, leaving them twelfth (Schumacher) and fifteenth (Alonso) on the grid.
Wilson to replace Bourdais?UPDATE #5 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. Craig Hampson, Sebastien Bourdais' race engineer, told Autosport.com that he thinks Wilson has a good chance to replace Bourdais at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.
"It's not for me to speak for Mr. Haas, but what I will say is that I'm sure Justin is going to be on his list of potential candidates. Everyone in this team regards Justin as an excellent driver, and someone who we've regarded as a primary competition over the last two or three years.
"Remember, Justin was on our original shortlist to test when we picked Sebastien, but he went for the Minardi Formula One deal. What I'm saying is, we considered him then, and he's now got four years' experience in a Champ Car to add to that. He's a great driver."
"Also, bear in mind we now have Todd Malloy working for us, and he was Justin's race engineer for two years at RuSPORT. He knows how good he is, and knows he's a good guy with a strong work ethic."
"It's an... interesting time for me right now, to be honest. Newman/Haas/Lanigan is where any driver would want to be, so of course I'm looking at that," Wilson told Autosport. "And Champ Car is where I want to be because the racing's good and I have unfinished business here.
"But I've had inquiries from different championships, yes. I can't comment on the Andretti Green Racing rumors because I don't know what's happening there, and I don't want to go and do the ALMS even though I've been linked there.
"It's good to hear that someone like Craig Hampson thinks well of me, sure. We all know he's a great engineer. So of course I hope I'm on Carl Haas's list, yeah. Maybe things will start happening and phone calls will get made when we get back to America."
10/18/07 Graham Rahal wants Englishman Justin Wilson to replace Sebastien Bourdais next year when Rahal's French teammate makes the move to Formula One. RuSPORT driver Wilson is second in the overall standings with 243 points behind Bourdais (301), who can win his fourth consecutive title Sunday.
Wilson may not be back with RuSPORT next year, enabling him to join Rahal on the Newman/Haas/Lanigan team.
"To be honest I think the guy I'd like to see get the shot would be (Justin) Wilson," said Rahal, the son of three-time CART series champion Bobby Rahal.
"The reason he deserves a shot is because he's been patient and he's won races with a team a lot of people wouldn't expect to win races. He's tough to beat. He'd fill in perfectly for Sebastien."
Set to enter Formula One with Toro Rosso in 2008, Bourdais could become the first driver to win the Gold Coast event twice.
It's a statistic brought up every year and one that favors Rahal, an 18-year-old rookie who has never raced on the temporary Surfers Paradise street circuit.
But Rahal has experienced the track — on a video game.
"It sounds cheesy, I'm not a video gamer, but the video game I play, you drive this track in a V-8 Supercar so I've seen the place before," Rahal said. "Nowadays they're so accurate it's amazing. You get the idea of the direction — that's the biggest thing — and where the curve placement is." USA Today
Mercedes gives green light to axe Alonso?UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation.' Norbert Haug has denied admitting that McLaren-Mercedes is likely to release Fernando Alonso after Sunday's Brazilian grand prix.
The German has been quoted recently as hinting that the unhappy Spaniard might not be part of the team in 2008.
Asked about some of the criticisms made by drivers this year, Haug told the news agency 'sid' at Interlagos: "What a driver's contract says about this is usually very precise."
26-year-old Alonso has seemed more content than usual at recent races, and he told the Italian broadcaster Sky on Friday: "My first option is to remain with McLaren (in 2008). I have a contract."
To the Spanish press, Haug flatly denied that he has explicitly suggested that Alonso might leave the team.
"I never said anything like that. That is totally untrue," he said.
"I have always maintained that we will not be talking about that until after this race."
10/18/07 Mercedes has given the green light to McLaren to drop Spain's two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso from the team for next season, the Spanish sporting daily Marca said Thursday.
Mercedes bosses met in Germany "and reached the conclusion it is in the best interests of the company and the (McLaren-Mercedes) team to let go of the Spaniard at the end of the year," the Marca daily said.
The decision was motivated by the poor personal relations between Alonso and both his British team-mate Lewis Hamilton and McLaren boss Ron Dennis, Marca said, quoting sources close to McLaren-Mercedes.
It was "backed yesterday (Wednesday) by all the partners and the team," including Dennis.
"This situation means that all roads for Alonso lead to Renault," the team with which the Spaniard won world titles in 2005 and 2006, the newspaper said.
Renault "promised him a place with the possibility of winning the title and is currently taking steps to find the funds necessary to sign him on a contract equivalent" to the one he has with McLaren, Marca said.
It noted that Alonso could not join Ferrari, which has Brazilian driver Felipe Massa under contract through 2010 and Finland's Kimi Raikkonen to 2009.
Doornbos to stay with Minardi Dutchman Robert Doornbos tips his racing world is about to hit top gear, while Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais is set for a slide.
Doornbos, placed third in the series and likely to win the Rookie of the Year title, has stepped across to Champ Cars from Formula One, while Bourdais is about go in the opposite direction in 2008.
However Doornbos, who has stalked the Champ Car leaders all season, says Bourdais is in for a rude awaking. The Frenchman is expected to win his fourth straight Champ Car title this weekend, but the going will be a lot tougher in F1.
"I think Sebastien is a good driver but it will be difficult for him to do it the other way around," said Doornbos.
"Coming from the best team in Champ Car to a not so good team in Formula One, it will be very hard.
"I had the same when I went from Formula 3000 where I was winning races, then to Minardi (F1) and being on the last part of the grid.
"It will be very hard for him. He will have to be honest with himself and accept that sometimes it will be a case of 'OK the best that I can achieve this weekend is 14th'.
Hamilton could be demoted 5 grid spots? NoUPDATE #2 (GMM) Lewis Hamilton has been fined (US) $21,000 by stewards at the Brazilian grand prix and had the offending wet weather tire set confiscated after an inquiry at Interlagos on Friday.
The McLaren driver, as well as Jenson Button and Takuma Sato, received the penalty for breaching Article 25.3 of the sporting regulations by using more than one set of wet tires in morning practice.
10/19/07 (GMM) Lewis Hamilton and McLaren officials on Friday were waiting for a stewards' inquiry to be held at the Interlagos circuit at 4.30pm local time.
Ron Dennis admitted in Brazil that the Woking based team was responsible for breaching Article 25.3 of the sporting regulations by fitting more than one set of wet tires to the British championship leader's car in morning practice.
Super Aguri (Takuma Sato) and Honda (Jenson Button) made similar errors.
"Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Takuma Sato have used two sets of wet weather tires during the first free practice session which is breach of article 25.3 of the 2007 Formula One Sporting Regulations," the technical delegate's report to the stewards confirmed.
Team boss Dennis said: "We made a mistake and used one set of tires too many on Lewis's car.
"This was unfortunate and clearly did not provide any advantage."
He told reporters in the paddock that Hamilton only completed a single installation lap with one of the sets of tires, but that "it was clearly a breach of the rules".
"We are trying maybe too hard, and it was a silly mistake," Dennis admitted.
10/19/07 (GMM) Lewis Hamilton is facing a possible grid demotion after breaching a sporting regulation in morning practice at Interlagos on Friday.
The British championship leader, along with Jenson Button (Honda) and Takuma Sato (Super Aguri), will all be investigated by the stewards after the afternoon session for allegedly breaching article 25.3 relating to wet weather tires, BBC Radio Five Live said.
It is claimed that the trio used two sets of wet tires on Friday morning, where the rules say only one set may be used.
Article 25.3 reads: "No driver may use more than one set of wet and one set of extreme weather tires during P1 and P2".
BBC Radio said a demotion of five grid positions is a possible sanction, but the stewards may also consider a solely monetary penalty.
With just Sunday's Brazilian grand prix to go in 2007, Hamilton is four and seven points ahead of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen respectively in the drivers' classification.
Prodrive to be stillborn? (GMM) Prodrive is unlikely to join the formula one action next year, Bernie Ecclestone admitted on Friday at the scene of the last grand prix of 2007.
David Richards' Banbury-based outfit is signed up to debut next March, but uncertainty about the touted 'customer car' rules and a legal challenge by Williams has probably compelled Prodrive to "give up", F1's chief executive told reporters at the Interlagos circuit in Brazil.
"I think they have decided to give up, haven't they?" Ecclestone, 76, said outside of Sao Paulo on Friday.
"They were all excited about coming in, it's a pity for them."
Prodrive, now nearly three months past its self-imposed deadline to organize other details including commercial and driver line-ups, has already admitted that its plans to run an identical McLaren-Mercedes package has fallen through.
Ecclestone said he thought off-the-shelf cars should "probably not" be allowed in F1.
"The teams say they are constructors spending for example about half a billion a year and the Prodrive budget was about 75 million," he noted..
Alonso-Hamilton love-in a fake? (GMM) F1's press corps reacted skeptically in Sao Paulo when Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso insisted that their bitter relationship is now over.
In fact, the McLaren duo - who have spent the bulk of their 2007 rivalry accusing one another of disloyalty and splitting into impenetrable corners of the garage - denied that they had ever exchanged a cross stare.
"I think we have got on quite well all year, despite what the media says," 22-year-old Hamilton told reporters at Interlagos.
"They always try to make a big gap between us and they haven't really succeeded. We just get on quite well."
Spaniard Alonso, sitting alongside Hamilton in the official press conference adjacent to the media centre, agreed that their relationship has always been sound while the press wrote "many things that weren't true".
Champ Car eyes Portland Street Race Champ Car has wanted to race on the streets of Portland for quite some time but was never able to muster up the political support. That might be changing as Robin Miller reports. The key will be whether it will be a proper course layout or another ridiculously short shoehorned in money loser.
Team Australia co-owner Derrick Walker may hire Dale Coyne Racing's Katherine Legge as a driver for a possible third car in 2008.
"I would love to go there (enter a third car) and I am on record as saying that," said the respected motor racing identity yesterday.
"She (Legge) would definitely be one of the drivers we would look at. I think it is very important that she be in the championship.
"First and foremost she is a driver and so if you look at it in commercial terms for a series, having a female driver do well in this series is obviously what a lot of the series would like to see happen, and happen as naturally as possible.
"I think she deserves to be here and I don't think we have seen by any means what she can do.
"Like all drivers they stand in line and hope to get a break and when you get a good combination of the team and the car and being at the right level in your career then you do some good things.
"Give her another year and I think we will see some good things."
In a possible indication of where she may be headed, Legge and Walker were seated together at yesterday's Champ Car drivers' breakfast at Conrad Jupiters.
"I am trying to persuade Derrick to give me a drive for next year," she said, with a smile aimed at Walker.
Champ Car schedule delayedUPDATE The delay in the 2008 Champ Car schedule release is due to the fact that Champ Car had not finalized all their overseas race deals in time for the previous FIA meeting, but hopes to conclude those deals this week with Kevin Kalkhoven in Dubai meeting with Sheik Maktoum. The schedule then gets submitted to the FIA at their next meeting in about two weeks. Once the races are approved Champ Car will then be able to release their schedule in early to mid-November. AutoRacing1.com was originally told by Champ Car PR head David Higdon that he hoped to release the schedule by mid-October. At that time we told him that was not going to happen because FIA approval is needed and all the deals were not yet finalized. So indeed the schedule is delayed from what Champ Car had hoped.
10/14/07 We hear that Champ Car originally planned to release their 2008 schedule by mid-October but now we hear the earliest it is likely to come out is mid-November as it tries to finalize a much more international schedule. Meanwhile all other major race series have already released their 2008 schedule and locked up their TV inventory.
Red Bull to buy Yates team?UPDATE "Robert Yates did contact us awhile back to see if we were interested in talking with him about purchasing his building or his teams. We weren't - so the conversation ended there. We're committed to building our team from scratch and making our cars competitive. We don't have plans to buy anyone else's team." Red Bull VP of Competition, Guenther Steiner statement
10/11/07 Team Red Bull has approached Robert Yates Racing about purchasing its racing and chassis manufacturing shops in Mooresville, N.C. The offer comes in the heels of Yates' announcement that it wants to move to Concord, N.C., to a shop currently occupied by Boris Said's No Fear team (next to Roush Fenway) to expedite their sharing of technology in 2008. Yates will use Roush-built chassis next season. Red Bull is in dire need of more space. It gets engines from Toyota Racing Development and buys chassis, but wants to start departments in both areas. Buying Yates' facilities would give them the room to do that. Sports Illustrated
What’s really behind Massa’s Ferrari deal?UPDATE #2 The news on Tuesday of Felipe Massa's new Ferrari contract was met by almost universal surprise in F1 circles.
"Everyone here is astonished," Jayme Brito, a producer with Brazil's national TV Globo network, was quoted as responding to the news by the Independent newspaper.
He added: "It is not the proper time for such a thing, and there is a strong suspicion that it may be a smokescreen for other things."
One such theory is that there may be more than meets the eye to Tuesday's 81-word Ferrari press release.
Much has also been made of the tense political situation at Ferrari this year, with Montezemolo supposedly pushing for Ross Brawn to succeed Jean Todt as team boss in preparation for a new era that involves Alonso in the cockpit.
Todt, on the other hand, has previously and publicly lobbied against signing Alonso, while his son Nicolas is Massa's manager.
Spanish 'Diario As' journalist Carlos Miquel on Wednesday concurred that Massa's re-signing through to 2010 is a more than 81-word story.
"The only thing that is for sure is that (Kimi) Raikkonen is now in a weaker position with regards to the possible arrival (at Ferrari) of Alonso in 2009," he wrote.
10/16/07 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, The surprise timing of Massa's contract extension announcement has me wondering if it is advanced payment for taking out Hamilton in the first corner. Then Fernando or Kimi win the title. Ferrari don't care who because with Alonso's move to the Scuderia, the boys in red have the coveted number one on their car whatever happens. And what of Massa you ask. Well he becomes the new Junior Ferrari team number one driver. See how nicely it all fits together. Hey....this year, anything could happen! Ray Masters, Hawaii
10/16/07 While the rest of the world has its attention on the upcoming shoot-out for the 2007 Formula One world championship in Brazil this weekend between McLaren-Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, the Italian team caught everyone on the blind side yesterday by announcing that Felipe Massa will remain with them through to the end of the 2010 season.
The timing of the announcement has come as a complete surprise. Alonso has been linked with a move to Ferrari after his well documented problems at McLaren, and recent reports have suggested that Massa, who has been contracted to Ferrari since 2001, would leave the Scuderia to make way.
Rumors in China last week strongly suggested that Alonso has signed a pre-agreement with Ferrari valid from 2009 onwards, so the Massa deal, which entails the team taking up an option for 2008 and renewing for two years after that, mean the Brazilian would be entitled to a massive pay-off if the team still wished to pursue the Spaniard to partner Raikkonen. More at NZ Herald
Rain to affect Brazil finaleUPDATE (GMM) Friday practice could be wet at the Interlagos circuit, but F1's 2007 championship decider is expected to be played out in dry conditions for qualifying and the race.
The Brazilian meteorology institute Climatempo said on Thursday that the area outside of downtown Sao Paulo is now expected to be dry on both Saturday and Sunday, with warm temperatures for the final race of the formula one season.
In another development prior to the race weekend, it has emerged that extensive resurfacing has taken place at the circuit -- which may explain Bridgestone's debatable decision to supply the softest Monaco-style selection of tires for the usually demanding layout.
"The surface is far smoother now," Interlagos' chief engineer Luis Ernesto Morales said in a statement on Wednesday.
The pit lane entrance has also been tweaked.
10/17/07 The F1 teams are gearing up for a wet grand prix in Brazil as the 'forecast is currently predicting rain all weekend.'
The rain, which always adds a bit of excitement to the weekend's events, has been predominant the past two grands prix.
In Japan the drivers had to start behind the Safety Car because it was so wet while in China the rain at the start of the grand prix played a crucial role in tire choice and ultimately the outcome of the grand prix.
And for the third successive race weekend the weather is set to play a role in the outcome of the race and perhaps even the outcome of the Drivers' Championship as downpours are expected in Brazil.
Williams technical director Sam Michael revealed that the "forecast is currently predicting rain all weekend," while new driver Kazuki Nakajima claimed that it "looks like it's going to rain over the weekend, so the weather is going to make the whole process quite tricky."
Barrichello could get the axe at Honda (GMM) Rubens Barrichello has contradicted suggestions that his Honda seat for 2008 may not be secure.
Media reports have claimed that the Brazilian, who early next season would become the most experienced F1 driver of all time, could lose the ride if Honda find a better alternative in the wake of Fernando Alonso's potential impact on the driver market.
Barrichello, 35, penned a new Honda deal in July.
It has also been reported that Jarno Trulli's Toyota seat could similarly be in doubt for 2008, despite the Italian also possessing a contract for next year (see related rumor).
Barrichello, however, is quoted by the Swiss newspaper Blick as saying: "Honda know what they have in my experience.
Alonso appoints own Hamilton 'spy' - report (GMM) Not content to rely on the special FIA-appointed 'equality steward', Fernando Alonso has reportedly assigned his own garage observer for the 2007 championship finale.
Germany's Bild newspaper reports that Fabrizio Borra, who is Alonso's long time physiotherapist, has been asked by the Spanish 26-year-old to keep an eye on his McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton throughout the final grand prix of 2007 at Interlagos.
Spanish motorsport president Carlos Gracia asked FIA president Max Mosley for an official to be stationed in the team's garage for his weekend following speculation of inequality and internal sabotage against Alonso's title chances.
Bild claims that Italian Borra, who earlier this year was implicated in the qualifying pitstop delay in Hungary, will observe Hamilton and monitor things including his setup decisions and fuel and tire strategies.
Gibbs team giving GM secrets to Toyota?UPDATE "Joe Gibbs Racing is 100 percent focused on trying to win a championship for GM, as well as our sponsors and fans. We have at no time shared any technical information with Toyota or any Toyota team, nor will we as long as there are still races to be run in 2007." - J.D. Gibbs, president, Joe Gibbs Racing
10/17/07 Michael Waltrip said in a TV interview last week that one reason his team has improved in recent weeks is the help it has received from Joe Gibbs Racing. JGR is moving to Toyota next year, but it can't make Chevrolet officials too happy to hear the Gibbs experts already are sharing info with the Toyota camp.
ESPN and Nielsen to announce new metricUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.
10/17/07 The Daily reports that ESPN and Nielsen Media are developing a new metric to measure viewership across all media. That means ESPN is preparing to go to advertisers with ratings that show how many people are watching specific content on television, the Internet and mobile devices. A formal announcement is expected this morning.
Rosberg to McLaren? (GMM) Norbert Haug has issued a mixed denial to persistent rumors that Nico Rosberg is at the top of the list to potentially replace Fernando Alonso at McLaren next season.
To the German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Haug - who is McLaren partner Mercedes-Benz's competition director - also countered reports that impressive Toro Rosso rookie Sebastian Vettel might be an ideal candidate should Alonso leave the team after Sunday's Brazilian grand prix.
"So there is no confusion, there are no talks (with them)," Haug was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
He added: "Whether one of them drives for us one day, I do not know -- they are both good enough. Their destiny lies in their own hands."
Champ Car to lose key sponsor and teamUPDATE #8 Of course this is old news for AutoRacing1.com readers, but in case you had any doubt, British driver Justin Wilson has admitted to Australia’s goldcoast.com.au that there won’t be a RuSPORT team in Champ Car next year.
"They have just announced they are closing down," goldcoast.com.au quotes Wilson as saying. "They have just told me and the crew. They don't want to carry on. This weekend I will have to see what my options are.
"The fact that the team is closing down is disappointing, but it happens all the time in motor racing. You just have to pick yourself up and try to get into another good position. I had quite a few people inquire early in the season if I was available for next year and at that time I wasn't. Maybe now, when the news gets out people will start calling up again."
10/12/07 We hear the RuSPORT employees have been told November 15th will likely be their last day and to expect to see the team up for sale. Too bad because there will be some very talented individuals on the market looking for a job. Forsythe Championship Racing is already running ads in AutoWeek looking for more people so one would expect that some of the RuSPORT people could end up there.
With the loss of RuSPORT, one might assume that car count would be an issue next year for Champ Car. "Not so," Kevin Kalkhoven told AutoRacing1.com. "I'm not worried about car count at all next year."
10/11/07 We continue to hear that with CDW gone after this year, the RuSPORT Champ Car team will also fold unless a replacement sponsor can be found fast.
09/29/07 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I read somewhere that the new owners of CDW made the decision in May to no longer sponsor the team. Is that what happened? Lisa Gerber
Dear Lisa, Nothing could be further from the truth. Since the transaction hasn't closed, the new owners control nothing, and haven't/can't influence a single thing about any of CDW's business operations yet. No the truth of the matter is that CDW is leaving for the reasons we stated below. It's a sad tale of how to piss off a good sponsor and drive them right out of the sport. Mark C.
09/26/07 Correction, CDW has told RuSPORT that they will not be back in 2008. CDW has not yet said to Champ Car that they are not returning. We hear they hope to keep racing together with Wilson.
09/26/07 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today as AutoRacing1.com has learned that CDW has decided not to return to Champ Car in 2008. We heard CDW was unhappy the day the two teams merged and especially troubled when Jeremy Dale was let go. Rumor has it that RuSPORT might not be back either now that CDW is gone.
09/18/07 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Isn't there any way Champ Car can keep CDW and Wilson from bolting to the IRL or ALMS? Pat Baretta
Dear Pat, First of all there is no confirmation that they are leaving. We would think that CDW and Wilson might stay if a deal could be done to put them in Bourdais' NHLR seat and move McDonald's over to American Graham Rahal's car. That would be a win-win for everyone as we would think McDonald's can do more in the way of marketing a young American. Of course that would mean RuSPORT would lose them, but if they leave the series they would lose them anyway. Mark C.
09/17/07 The move by CDW and Justin Wilson to Andretti Green Racing could be with their ALMS program rather than their IRL program.
09/17/07 Robin Miller reported on Wind Tunnel Sunday night that Champ Car is losing the only sponsor it has that activates its sponsorship, CDW, as a car sponsor in 2008. "Not good for Champ Car," Miller told Dave Despain. He also speculated that Justin Wilson might go to Andretti Green Racing in 2008. Recall back in May we reported that CDW was furious over Jeremy Dale being fired and they were very unhappy over the merger of RuSPORT and Rocketsports. While many may not have believed us then, if this rumor of CDW leaving is true, you know where it all started.
Chrysler set to ax models Chrysler LLC could cut as many as five nameplates within the month as part of its quick and dramatic makeover as a newly private company.
It's "highly likely" Chrysler's top brass will approve plans to kill vehicles this month, a person familiar with the situation told the Free Press. About five vehicles are being considered for elimination, but the source would not reveal which ones. The boardroom drama could help explain why the UAW was unable to win the same sort of future-product guarantees in its tentative labor deal with the Auburn Hills automaker as it did in its deal with General Motors Corp.
The product review comes as the automaker is seeking to get its tentative agreement with the UAW ratified by rank-and-file union members.
The likeliest models to go
Chrysler could -- or should -- scrutinize these 10 vehicles for improvement or possible elimination, analysts say.
Aspen: Chrysler version of the Durango SUV is only about 1 year old, but lacks buzz.
Commander: Jeep's first three-row SUV never caught on. Likely to disappear.
Compass: Jeep crossover seen as weakening the brand because it lacks off-road capability.
Liberty: Sales down by one-third compared with last year as market for truck-based SUVs shrinks.
Magnum: Sales of sports wagon down 32% this year amid fuel-economy concerns.
Nitro: Dodge version of the Liberty has eye-catching looks, but does Chrysler need two of the same size?
Dakota: Sales of Warren-made truck down 33% from last year in tough midsize pickup segment.
Durango: With sales off 30% this year, truck-based SUV will be replaced with crossover.
Pacifica: Leapfrogged by newer crossovers, sales of the minivan-based model are down 30% this year.
Sebring: Sales up from previous generation, but midsize sedan struggles against rivals. Detroit Free press
A1GP hits another home run with its cars to be low-cost F1 cars, which are sure to smoke an overweight Champ Car, both on and off the track
(GMM) The cars of the next A1GP series will reportedly be based on the 2007 Ferrari that was this year raced in formula one by Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa.
It was announced last week that Ferrari will supply engines and design consultancy to the so-called World Cup of Motorsport for six years beginning next season.
A report of the news agency Reuters says the 2008-2009 A1 car is "expected to be based on this year's F2007 formula one racer but built by another company".
Series boss Tony Teixeira, who has been linked with the possible buyout of Ferrari powered F1 team Toro Rosso, suggests that the Ferrari deal is designed to bolster the series' status.
"If Ferrari can deliver a 650-700 horsepower car that is a few seconds off F1 pace, then you will want to drive for your country because you know you are driving the best equipment available," he said.
"A1GP will be taken very seriously as a true global motor racing series.
"For A1, I think the credibility issue is totally resolved and put to rest. Ferrari would not do anything to jeopardize its brand," Teixeira added.
[Editor's Note: And the already money-losing A1GP teams are going to afford this? If so one can bet Bernie-money might be behind the A1GP now to stall Champ Car's global aspirations]
Honda switching to NASCAR?UPDATE Honda officials were spotted at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Saturday night — but the group was from the power equipment division, and not automotive part of the company. We suspect Honda is sitting back and observing Toyota's move to NASCAR before making the jump.
07/24/07 We have published a number of rumors about Honda following Toyota into NASCAR and unless this eBay ad is a hoax, we have our first proof that Honda is moving into NASCAR.
Notice the Honda truck the seller is preparing in the photo background. Also see photo below. Hmm.......if true are Honda's days in the IRL numbered?
Waltrip team to lose two sponsors Michael Waltrip Racing is still talking with sponsors Domino's and Burger King, but right now it appears the two companies will not return as primary sponsors in 2008. The pair shared the primary sponsorship of David Reutimann's No. 00 Toyota this season. Next year, Reutimann will drive the No. 00 in five races, then move to the No. 44 for the remainder of the Sprint Cup season. Reutimann will replace Dale Jarrett, who plans to run the Bud Shootout, the opening five races of the season then the all-star race in his final season.
MWR Vice President and General Manager Ty Norris said that the organization is still in talks with the companies.
"At this point, they won't be back as a primary sponsor," Norris said. "However we still continue to have conversations with them but we don't have anything contracted for next year from them."
"We do have a few races contracted, but we have a good many races that are currently under proposal and on a company's desk, but [team owners] Rob [Kauffman] and Michael [Waltrip] have looked at all the financials and looked at everything and said, "We are going to run that third Cup car." And here is the financial gap we have to fill and that's what we're in pursuit of right now," Norris said. Scene Daily
Kentucky Speedway explored sale to ISC Before it sued NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. in 2005 for allegedly monopolizing big-time racing, Kentucky Speedway apparently discussed a possible sale of its Gallatin County track.
But ISC was only interested if it could buy it on the cheap, according to a sworn statement filed last week by Jerry Carroll, the track's chairman and developer. Carroll could not be reached for comment.
The allegation is included in a confidential 2002 memo Carroll sent to Kentucky Speedway partners and referenced in the court record. Carroll said in the sworn statement the memo is consistent with his recollection of the meeting, at which Lesa France Kennedy, now ISC's president, said "ISC would only purchase Kentucky Speedway if it were a 'steal.'"
In its amended complaint filed earlier this year, the speedway said Kennedy and other ISC officials visited the track several times from 1999 through 2004 to assess a possible purchase. Business Courier of Cincinnati
Sutil eyeing move to Toyota?UPDATE Sutil now admits he is not negotiating a deal with Toyota at the moment.
Speaking about his future in Formula 1 Sutil told German newspaper Express: "There are no negotiations with Toyota. But in the future I would love to join a winning team. I am ready at any time."
10/01/07 After Ralf Schumacher announced he will no longer race with the Toyota Formula 1 team next season rumors say it could be either Timo Glock or Adrian Sutil joining the Cologne based team.Comment
Will merger of Miller and Coors hurt Kurt Busch? “I don’t know anything other than they did combine, or they’re in negations to do such. The numbers that I’ve heard are 58 percent for MillerSAB and 42 percent for MolsonCoors. That’s all that I know. I haven’t talked with any Miller people about it. They are all coming in tonight to check out qualifying, and then tomorrow we’ve got some in the morning for meetings. Right now I’m sure it doesn’t change a thing. Roger Penske has been with Miller for over 25 years and his race teams. That’s what really anchors us solidly with that program.” Dodge Motorsports PR
Rosberg offered $21m Toyota deal - report (GMM) A German newspaper has disagreed with conflicting reports that say Timo Glock has now agreed a deal to race for Toyota in 2008.
The Sunday publication 'Welt am Sonntag' claimed at the weekend that while newly crowned GP2 champion Glock is a contender for the seat alongside Jarno Trulli, the Japanese team is actually keener on a different German youngster.
The newspaper says it has learned that 22-year-old Nico Rosberg, whose current team Williams is supplied engines by Toyota, has been offered a $21m per year contract starting in 2008.
Rosberg, however, remains under contract to his current Grove based team for 2008, and his boss Sir Frank Williams said a few weeks ago: "Nico is not for sale."
Who will drive for Haas CNC in 2008? When it comes to who'll be in what Haas CNC Racing cars in 2008, nobody seems to know much of anything. Joe Custer, the team's general manager, plays his cards close to the vest. Very, very close. Johnny Sauter, driver of the organization's #70 entry, says that he doesn't have a clue what he'll be doing next year, but adds that he's been given permission to look elsewhere. Jeff Green, who steers its #66 Chevy, refuses altogether to comment on the situation. With Scott Riggs already signed for next year and two Haas cars available, there's considerable speculation as to which one he'll drive and whether it'll be Green or Sauter who's left out of the mix. Then again, names other than Riggs' [including Mayfield and Stremme] have been mentioned as joining the operation. If that happens, Green and Sauter would most likely both be gone. According to Custer, neither driver has a decided advantage at this stage of the game. NASCAR.com
Possible new IndyCar teamUPDATE #2 Kingdom Racing announced an alignment with the Man in the Mirror ministry. Based in Orlando Florida, the organization helps men find meaning and purpose in life. The Founder and CEO of the ministry is Patrick Morley, noted author, business leader and speaker. His book, "The Man in the Mirror" has sold over two million copies and has appeared on best seller lists eighteen times.
"Because of the quality of the principals behind Kingdom Racing, I have a great deal of confidence that this vision will become reality. I wholeheartedly endorse this campaign to win race fans to Christ. These are people who really want to make a difference in the world," said Patrick Morley, author and CEO, Man in the Mirror.
"It is an honor that Man in the Mirror has chosen to partner with Kingdom Racing's platform. Our mission is to win on the track, create value for sponsors and deliver a winning ministry. Patrick Morley is a proven winner who has touched millions of men's lives. His ministry will bring that reach to the track grandstands and infields," said George Del Canto, Managing Director of Kingdom Racing. Kingdom Racing
08/31/07 Longtime racing fan George Del Canto is coming off the bleachers to start up his own IndyCar Series racing team.
Del Canto, who has spent most of his career as an international banker in Houston, has quickly learned that it's not enough to just put a team together, buy a car and travel to the races. Forming a team has required budgeting skills, negotiation and a lot of sponsor schmoozing.
"Fortunately, my background is enabling me to see a team as a business from the viewpoint of sustaining it," he says.
Did Stepney pass McLaren secrets to Ferrari? Nigel Stepney, who was fired as head of performance at Ferrari after the scandal broke in July, said he was able to supply the Italian team with details of McLaren's cars thanks to an exchange with its chief designer, Mike Coughlan.
"I got information about when they were stopping (during races)," Stepney was quoted as saying in The Sunday Times. "I got weight distribution, I got other aspects of various parts of their car from him. Ferrari got off lightly."
Stepney said he also knew information from McLaren tests, including fuel levels.
Stepney said Ferrari should have also been punished.
"I think they should have been docked points," he said. "The question is 'Did I use the information, did I talk about it?' I spoke to some people about it. I can't prove it, there are no e-mails or anything.
"As well as McLaren having an advantage, did Ferrari have an advantage? I think so."
IRL to announce sponsor According to AutoRacing1.com sources, the Indy Racing League is close to announcing Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser beer as the league's new sponsor (title sponsor we were told, but it might be an event and car sponsor). We await the formal announcement.
Three F1 teams for sale The boss of the A1GP series has confirmed that he is interested in buying the formula one team Toro Rosso.
Tony Teixeira, a South African businessman, this week reached a long term deal with Ferrari for the supply of engines and car design consultancy for the so-called World Cup of Motorsport starting next year.
A few days earlier, it was rumoured that Ferrari, supplier of customer engines to Faenza based Toro Rosso, was considering bolstering its alliance with the team by also supplying an identical chassis to effectively form a satellite outfit. It was also rumoured that Ferrari's recent talks with Teixeira involved a possible arrangement that he buy into Toro Rosso, which is currently co-owned by Gerhard Berger and Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz and almost constantly linked with prospective buyers throughout the 2007 season.
We reported in August that, like Vijay Mallya who has now bought Spyker, Teixeira was eyeing the small Dutch squad and also Super Aguri.
"I am looking around," Teixeira confirmed to the news agency Reuters on Thursday.
"I have been speaking to two or three different teams that are maybe available for sale. Toro Rosso are one of them."
V8s lining up for more Surfers' cash V8 Supercars want a greater slice of the Indy financial pie as behind-the-scenes drama dominates talk on the eve of the major Surfers Paradise motorsport event.
V8s boss Tony Cochrane is in talks with the State Government to finalize next year's contract, and The Bulletin understands he is seeking a greater slice of the $12 million the Government pours into the event each year.
There has also been speculation over the International Management Group's continuing role with Indy, after The Bulletin was told the group and State Government were at loggerheads over a number of issues, including IMG's profit take from the event.
Late yesterday, Lexmark Indy 300 chairman Terry Mackenroth released a statement saying that letters of intent had been drafted between IMG and the Queensland Government for a joint partnership through to 2013.
Why are all the open wheel drivers going to NASCAR? Elliott Sadler, who will have former Champ Car star Patrick Carpentier as a teammate next year, said he isn’t surprised at the almost overnight phenomenon of more and more former Champ Car, IRL and F1 drivers entering NASCAR.
“It seems like they’re all here in one shot, but it’s like that in NASCAR,” he said. “A couple of years ago, you had to have a World of Outlaws guy. A couple years before that, you had to have a guy with Busch (Series) experience.
“Now the owners are trying the IRL, CART (Champ Car), Formula One kind of background. It just kind of runs in cycles.”
Or is it NASCAR's secret plan to deplete open wheel racing of its biggest names and eventually put the competition right out of business? We recall the run they made at Champ Car's biggest star at the time, Paul Tracy, two or three years ago. They have been able to lure in the biggest sponsors and teams. The drivers may be the last piece of the puzzle.
Stremme to drop to Busch in '08 Axed Ganassi Racing driver David Stremme is pretty blunt when he talks about his Sprint Cup prospects for 2008. "I got nothing," Stremme said Thursday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "I'm beating on doors trying to find something. We've talked to a few people, but it's tough right now."
"You can't wait much," Stremme said. "I was let out of my deal real late, and that hurts. It's all part of the business. I feel I belong at this level. We'll just see how things work out."
The 30-year-old Stremme, who will be replaced by Dario Franchitti, could be headed to the Nationwide Series at least temporarily?
"I probably have talked to more Cup teams than I have Busch teams," Stremme said. "I feel I have proven to be at this level."
"It could be worse," Stremme said. "I could be out digging ditches or doing something else. You can always say, 'This could be better' or 'that could be better' but it could be a lot worse, too. At least I'm able to walk around. I'm healthy. And I feel that I have enough talent to be at this level."
Green to Gibbs or Childress? Jeremy Mayfield had been rumored to be talking to Haas CNC Racing, which signed Scott Riggs last week after Jeff Green decided not to return to the #66 and signed with another team, according to a source. Why would Green leave a team on the rise with owner points he worked for? It would have to be a team he thought had greater potential and could overcome not having owner points at the start of next season with performance. The two organizations that fit that profile are Joe Gibbs Racing and Richard Childress Racing, which both want to get to four cars. Gibbs, of course, is switching to Toyota next year and the manufacturer is likely willing to supply the funding for an additional entry. Childress has been trying to find a sponsor for its fourth car. Sports Illustrated
Franchitti knew he was leaving IRL 2 years ago "And Dario, I hear he had his deal to come to NASCAR for two years, and he didn't have a whole lot of success in the IRL until this year." Sam Hornish Jr.
Filippi to test again for Honda GP2 race winner Luca Filippi will most likely get a day of action at Circuit de Catalunya with the Honda Formula 1 team. Last week the Italian spend a day of testing with the DPR team and team boss David Price revealed Filippi received one day of testing with the Honda F1 team.
DPR Team boss David Price said: "I managed to negotiate him a test with Honda in Barcelona next month and we're trying to establish a relationship. Whether we can go forward into the winter and next season we'll see."
Williams lost $57m in 2006 (GMM) Grove based Williams recorded a company loss of (US) $57 million last year, according to a report in the British newspaper Daily Telegraph.
The former championship winning team has had a better season on and off the circuit in 2007, but the loss of free BMW engines and title sponsor HP at the end of 2005 hit Sir Frank Williams' outfit hard, the newspaper said.
In 2006, when Williams finished eighth with a customer Cosworth engine supply that cost about $20m, the now Toyota-powered team reportedly also used all but $61,000 of its previous bank savings of more than $42 million.
In comparison to the $57m loss, Williams made a profit of $60m just a year earlier (2005) -- a difference of $117 million.
The Telegraph pointed out that Williams, the winner of 113 grands prix between 1979 and 2004, is now the only current formula one team not backed by a car manufacturer or a billionaire.
Waltrip team to take on investor Michael Waltrip Racing could have something up its sleeve at a news conference scheduled for Friday where David Reutimann’s 2008 plans figure to be addressed. ThatsRacin.com hears rumors that Waltrip’s team is about to follow the trend of partnering with an investor. In this case, it’s a New York-based asset management firm called Fortress Investment Group that earlier this year broke the mold in its industry by becoming the first hedge fund to go public. Team general manager Ty Norris declined comment on that Wednesday, saying the future of Michael Waltrip Racing would be discussed Friday.
Carpentier to replace RiggsUPDATE #5 Autosport.com is also reporting what we reported earlier today, that Carpentier has indeed signed to drive the No. 10.
10/10/07 Reports are that this deal has been signed. We await the formal announcement.
10/07/07 Patrick Carpentier could be the next open-wheel driver to make the move to the Nextel Cup Series. Ray Evernham, the minority owner of Gillett Evernham Motorsports, said the Canadian-born Carpentier is a candidate to replace Scott Riggs in the #10 car next season. "That's going to be up to George Gillett," Evernham said of GEM's majority owner. "I know he's one of the people being considered. They'll make that decision." Gillett has said Carpentier, who replaced Riggs at the Watkins Glen road course earlier this year, could drive in at least one Cup race during the championship chase. Evernham added that he will have three full-time Cup teams and possibly two full-time Busch teams in 2008, and that his goal of becoming a four-car team likely won't happen until 2009. ESPN.com
10/05/07 According to rumors in the Talladega paddock, Canadian Patrick Carpentier is very close to being announced to replace the departing Scott Riggs at Gillett Evernham Motorsports in 2008.
09/07/07 George Gillett, majority owner of Gillett Evernham Motorsports, said Canadian racer Patrick Carpentier will drive a Cup car for them during the Chase this season and probably will race full time in Cup for GEM next year. "I think there's a very good chance of that," Gillett told CKAC radio in Montreal. "Patrick is a fine young man and a great driver. He will be in some car for us at some of the races, if not all races, the rest of the season."
09/07/07 While it appears Patrick Carpentier is close to signing with Gillett Evernham Motorsports, it looks like the next step for the Canadian driver is a test session with the NASCAR team. Carpentier's business partner, Robert Desrosiers, said Wednesday that he has had regular talks with the team over the last few weeks. "We don't have any contract signed with them, we don't have any schedule for which race he will do," Desrosiers said.
"The only thing that I know for sure is that Patrick will be testing in the very near future." Desrosiers said the test session will likely be on an oval in Kentucky, possibly as early as next week. "I believe that after the tests, I think all of the cards are going to fall in place and we'll have more of a definite schedule on what Patrick's going to do this season," he said.
"There are still quite a few races left in Busch and Nextel Cup and it's going to be up to Mr. Evernham and Mr. Gillett to see where they want to put Patrick." There was no immediate word on which car Carpentier might drive, but the former Champ Car and IRL driver should be comfortable testing on an oval with his open-wheel experience. Canadian Press
This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Following reports of uncertainty about its 2008 entry in formula one, Prodrive's David Richards has now ruled out using an identical McLaren-Mercedes package next year.
"We cannot do the plan that we had with McLaren now," the Briton said on Wednesday, according to the news agency Reuters.
"There will not be a full-blooded equal car arrangement from day one, it cannot be," he added, but he did not rule out either fielding a hybrid chassis or a different car altogether.
The main complication for Prodrive is the ambiguity of the 'customer car' rules for 2008.
Williams recently wrote a letter of protest to the FIA, and Max Mosley has referred the matter of Prodrive's legality to the Court of Appeal for a hearing later in October.
But even though a new Concorde Agreement for 2008 is not yet in sight, Richards insists that Prodrive remains "committed to participating in formula one".
"In the meantime, we will consider all our alternative options for next season," he added.
10/10/07 (GMM) Continuing uncertainty about the legality of customer cars in 2008 and beyond may have resulted in the breakdown of talks between Prodrive and McLaren.
The two outfits had been strongly tipped to link up to share cars and engines when Prodrive enters the sport next year.
McLaren chairman Ron Dennis revealed mere days ago that "a detailed commercial agreement" is ready to go as soon as there is clarity about the legality of the customer car rules for 2008.
A potentially devastating spanner in the works, however, was the news last Friday that FIA president Max Mosley had referred the question of Prodrive's arguably legal plans to the Court of Appeal.
The court's decision will be publicized on October 25 -- just ten weeks before the start of the 2008 season in Melbourne.
David Richards-led Prodrive reacted to the news, which was sparked by a letter of protest by Williams, with a strongly worded statement.
"Uncertainty spread by others, for their own interests, is not only harming the development of our F1 program, but is putting in jeopardy those of other teams already committed to a customer car program next year," it read.
10/09/07 Prodrive's negotiations with McLaren-Mercedes for a partnership in next year's Formula One World Championship have collapsed, autosport.com is reporting.
Prodrive have been pursuing a deal with the Woking-based outfit for a supply of customer cars, and just a few weeks ago Prodrive boss David Richards said the only hurdle left to overcome in the negotiations is the new Concorde Agreement.
However, sources have told autosport.com that McLaren F1 CEO Martin Whitmarsh notified his staff yesterday that the team are no longer pressing ahead with their plans for a partnership with Prodrive. Neither McLaren nor Prodrive would comment on the matter.
Daimler silent on Fiat report Daimler AG is ready in principle to work with other carmakers on projects of mutual interest, a spokesman said on Wednesday, but he declined comment on a report it could develop compact cars with Fiat. Speculation has swirled for weeks that Daimler could seek a partner to work on the next generation of Mercedes-Benz A-Class and B-Class compact cars, whose importance is being highlighted by the debate on cars' contribution to global warming.
"We don't exclude (collaboration accords) categorically and we are in cooperation with others. We will entertain them if they make sense in certain fields and certain areas," a Daimler spokesman said, but he would not discuss Fiat specifically. Fiat also declined comment.
(GMM) Fernando Alonso in Japan two weeks ago was shown details of Renault's plans to return to the world title in 2008 and beyond -- including detailed information about next year's R28 single seater, according to reports.
Spanish sources including the magazine Autopista says the 26-year-old reigning world champion met with Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds on the Saturday at Fuji Speedway, where they discussed a possible two or three-year contract starting in 2008.
It is believed that Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn is reluctant to enter a one-year arrangement with Alonso, after which he would be free to switch to Ferrari or another top rival for 2009.
Autopista said Alonso's manager Luis Garcia Abad also attended the half-hour meeting, and later with the McLaren driver's wife Raquel they followed the track action from the comfort of Renault's hospitality area.
The magazine claimed that Alonso's teammate would not be Giancarlo Fisichella, as in 2005 and 2006, because the Roman may be moving to Williams to fill the seat vacated by Nico Rosberg, who is first in line to replace Alonso at Woking based McLaren.
In contention to become Alonso's teammate, then, are incumbent Heikki Kovalainen and current Renault test driver Nelson Piquet Jr.
FIA probes McLaren for Alonso sabotage - reportUPDATE (GMM) F1's governing body has opened a new investigation into McLaren, amid claims that the Woking based team may have sabotaged Fernando Alonso's car in China, reports on Tuesday said.
At the conclusion of the espionage saga last month, FIA president Max Mosley warned that the Paris body would closely monitor McLaren for signs of retribution against the Spaniard's involvement in providing evidence that ultimately cost the team $100 million and exclusion from the constructors' world championship.
The Spanish newspaper La Nueva Espana claims that Alonso's tires were extremely over-inflated due to being heated too much prior to the 'Q3' section of qualifying in Shanghai.
"I think they are still investigating," the 26-year-old had told reporters on Sunday, 24 hours after the incident that left him baffled and six tenths slower than his teammate, championship rival and pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton.
Alonso added: "I think the tire pressures were quite high, more than normal, but I don't know if it was that or another explanation."
La Nueva Espana said the FIA is now investigating the claim.
Meanwhile, it was reported by Italian media that Fernando Alonso on Tuesday traveled to the Modena magistrates office near Ferrari's headquarters to be interviewed as part of the criminal probe into McLaren for allegedly spying.
Ron Dennis and fellow team chiefs were at the Italian grand prix last month served with 'avviso di garanzias' -- formal warnings that they may be charged for sporting fraud, espionage and embezzlement.
10/08/07 Ron Dennis, the team principal of the McLaren Mercedes Formula One team, let one very large cat out of a very expensive bag after Lewis Hamilton’s retirement from the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on Sunday. Speaking about the disastrous decision to delay Hamilton’s tire change, which led to the British rookie sliding off the track while trying to get into the pits, Dennis said something that will have convinced Fernando Alonso’s supporters that there is a conspiracy within the team against their hero.
“The problem was rain and his [Hamilton’s] tires were in the worst condition,” Dennis said to a group of British journalists in the paddock at the circuit. “But we weren’t at all fazed about Kimi [Raikkonen, of Ferrari]. We weren’t racing Kimi, we were basically racing Fernando.”
Slip of the tongue it may have been – there were efforts by McLaren to explain it away - but, in one stroke, Dennis had made a nonsense of his claims to be treating his drivers equitably in the World Championship run-in.
What is more, Dennis’s remarks have turned into articles of faith the deep suspicions in Spain and elsewhere that McLaren could be deliberately doctoring Alonso’s car to present the championship to Hamilton. In large parts of the motor-racing world, it is regarded as gospel that Alonso is battling against not only Hamilton but also the whole McLaren team for his third consecutive drivers’ championship.
It is possible that the public will never know for certain exactly what is going on in a team who have been torn apart by the feud between their drivers and between Alonso and Dennis. The team principal says that McLaren are treating their drivers fairly and giving them equal chances to win, while Alonso says – or implies – that he is being cheated of his chance.
One element that does seem to be becoming increasingly obvious is that McLaren as an organization have, in recent weeks, turned their collective backs on Alonso. The team are going through the motions with their unhappy Spaniard, but are deriving very little pleasure from the process and it is undoubtedly the case that, as a group, they would prefer to see Hamilton win the title.
In Spain, this regrettable state of affairs is regarded as having held sway since near the beginning of the season. In truth, there is little evidence to suggest that Alonso had anything other than a clean slate when he arrived at McLaren. But his unsportsmanlike attitude to the challenge of trying to beat Hamilton, plus his allegedly threatening behavior towards Dennis and recent refusal to deny suggestions of “car-fixing”, have pushed him beyond the pale. More the Times of London
Jacques Villeneuve and Bill Davis Racing, coming off positive results in the former Formula One champion's Cup debut Sunday at Talladega, are contemplating running another Cup race before the end of the season. Mike Brown, general manager at BDR, said the team had several meetings Monday to discuss the feasibility of Villeneuve competing in the Car of Tomorrow race at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 11. Villeneuve, who also has an Indianapolis 500 win on his resume, qualified sixth at Talladega and finished 21st. Villeneuve, who will drive in the remaining Craftsman Truck series races this year, will drive in the Cup series for BDR next season. "We've talked to Jacques about it, and he wants to do it and we want to do it," Brown said of adding Phoenix. "We're kicking it around, and we really want to do it." Brown said the team wants Villeneuve, who will participate in the two-day COT test later this month at Atlanta, to get in some testing time at a track comparable to the one-mile Phoenix track. Villeneuve has raced an open-wheel car at the track, so it's not a completely unknown entity to him. Villeneuve possibly could test at Nashville or New Smyrna. ESPN.com
IMS Productions HD trucks According to AutoRacing1.com sources, IMS Productions is building two High Definition mobile units. One super HD unit that will carry 18 cameras. The second unit will have a 12 camera complement.
Word is that SPEED and ESPN have guaranteed that both trucks will be kept busy working for the respective networks to justify the cost.
Change in direction may hurt NASCAR This Montgomery Advertiser article makes the argument that NASCAR's influx of foreign drivers will eventually kill NASCAR.
The author writes - People automatically gravitate toward things they're comfortable with and people they can easily relate to. That's a huge reason why stock car racing became so popular in the South to start with. And it's a big reason why people around here never watched open-wheel racing.
The guys in the garage in the old NASCAR were like the shade-tree guy down the block who could get 15 more horsepower out of a lawnmower. The guys behind the wheel were like the guys you could find any Friday or Saturday night at a dozen different dirt tracks. They all talked like the folks around here. They looked like the folks around here. We knew these guys.
And we knew their cars. Because they were the same kind of cars we could buy at the car lots on East Boulevard.
People in the South could relate to all of it. And on the backs of these fans, the France family built an empire.
But ever so slowly over the last several years, they've been moving the sport as far away from those loyal fans as they can get.
Mark my words: It's going to backfire.
All the nonsense that's involved now is turning off the sport's core constituency. Drivers jumping from team to team, the crazy owners buying up half the field, the closing of historic tracks, it's changing the average NASCAR fan, a guy who used to be so loyal that he grew an Earnhardt-like mustache and shopped only at NASCAR sponsors, into the casual NASCAR fan.
That's just a step away from being an indifferent NASCAR fan.
The sport is eventually going to need these fans. When all the newcomers have tired of stock car racing, when the novelty has worn off, NASCAR will come looking for the people who will fill the stands here today.
And they'll be off somewhere trying to figure out what they can do with $8,000 worth of worthless Budweiser No. 8 memorabilia.
McLaren ignored Bridgestone’s advice The McLaren team reportedly ignored the pleas of tire manufacturers Bridgestone to call in Lewis Hamilton earlier during the Chinese GP. With his tires losing grip, the team belatedly called in the World Championship leader on lap 31. However, by that stage, Hamilton's tires were so bare that he was unable to negotiate the pitlane entry and crashed out of the race. 'Although nobody at the tire company would comment on the matter, it is understood that the Bridgestone engineers told McLaren to abandon their gamble of keeping Hamilton going with wearing tires to avoid having to make an extra pit stop for fuel later in the race,' reports The Guardian. 'At the time Raikkonen, in second place, was slicing several seconds a lap off Hamilton's lead.' Planet F1
NASCAR to slam Ganassi Dodge team The No. 41 Dodge of Reed Sorenson, who finished 10th, was found too low in front-end height during post-race inspection on Sunday. The No. 41 was a random selection for inspection. NASCAR officials decided to take the car back to the company's research and development center in Concord, N.C., for further evaluation. Any penalties would be announced later this week.
A1GP to use FerrarisUPDATE #3 (GMM) Ferrari has confirmed speculation that the Maranello based squad is in talks with organizers of the rival open wheel series A1 Grand Prix.
We reported last month that sporting director Stefano Domenicali was spotted at an A1 test at Silverstone, sparking rumors that the Italian marque might want to get involved in the series.
The contracts of current chassis and engine suppliers Lola and Zytek are up for renewal at the end of the current season.
It is also rumored that Ferrari's talks with A1 organizer Tony Teixeira, a South African businessman, could involve an arrangement to buy into Faenza based Toro Rosso to create a Ferrari satellite team in F1.
Asked about the Ferrari-A1 reports, Reuters quoted a Ferrari spokesman as saying: "We are in talks with them."
10/01/07 Here is a photo of the Ferrari pace car A1GP is using. The A1GP may have made a smart move tacking the popular Ferrari name onto their series by using their race cars and made by Ferrari. That name carries worldwide recognition as compared to Panoz (chassis) and Cosworth (engine) that Champ Car uses. Champ Car is struggling for worldwide name recognition and one reason is because it has no big car manufacturer associated with its series in any way, shape, or form. With Champ Car's goals to go more global, the battle for F1's crumbs between Champ Car and A1GP will be interesting. It's too bad really that the two series were not one. Then they might be able to make an impact.
09/30/07 This rumor, first broke by AutoRacing1.com, is upgraded to 'strong' today. In an interview with Tony Teixeira this morning on Dutch RTL TV, he said they (A1GP) are talking to 4 -5 different racing car manufacturers, but also after just having said that, he emphasized it's very likely Ferrari is going to brand around 50 single seater 'customer' cars (each race team representing a country has two cars) for the A1GP organization in a 9 year deal. The Maranello (Italy) based Formula 1 racing team will 'supply' the A1GP organization with both chassis and engines in this sensational multiyear deal!
Yesterday at Zandvoort, venue of the first A1GP race this year, there were also rumors Ferrari will outsource the manufacturing of the chassis to either Dallara or Tatuus, both Italian racecar manufacturers.
It looks like we will have to take A1GP, and the people behind it, a little bit more serious then anticipated at first three years ago .... At Zandvoort this weekend A1GP is already using a Ferrari 430 Scuderia safety car.
09/28/07 According to AutoRacing1.com sources the A1GP series will switch to chassis manufactured by the Ferrari F1 team starting in 2008. We await the official announcement.
Will Alonso take Hamilton out? Bernie Ecclestone has been quoted recently as saying that he expected the World Championship to be won basically by Hamilton, ahead in points, taking Alonso off the road. They both crash out and the title is decided. However, now following Lewis' massive screw up in China, wouldn't it follow that Alonso is now in position to deliver one last poke in Ron Dennis' eye by crashing out Hamilton and serving up the World Driver's Championship to one Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari?
NASCAR regulars to hang Villeneuve out to dry All eyes will be on Jacques Villeneuve when he attempts to qualify for the UAW-Ford 500 today.
If he makes the field, even more eyes will be on the Canadian driver in the Talladega Superspeedway draft on Sunday.
Villeneuve’s qualifying attempt is historic because he was once, in 1997, considered the best driver in the world. That’s the reason Formula One calls its best the World Driving Champion. But that was 10 years ago. Villeneuve has done precious little since. NASCAR marks a new career path.
Most of the Nextel Cup drivers clearly think he has no place in this field, however.
“There’s no doubt the guy’s talented,” said Jeff Green, “but I hope I’m nowhere around him. That’s not a slam on his abilities. That’s just the reality of any first-timer at Talladega. I think he’ll probably be running at the rear of the pack, regardless of where he qualifies. I don’t think anyone will help him in the draft. They’re going to hang him out to dry whenever they get the chance, just because he’s a rookie at a restrictor-plate track. It happened to all of us our first couple of times at Daytona and Talladega. The veterans see that rookie stripe and try to get as far away from you as they can.”
Nothing personal, mind you.
“I really hope he has a good, solid day, and that he gains a lot of experience and stays out of trouble,” added Green. “If I were in the Chase, I’d probably be at (NASCAR president) Mike Helton’s house right now, pleading my case as to why (Villeneuve) shouldn’t be in the race.
Wurz to lose F1 ride Frank Williams has given his clearest hint yet that Alex Wurz will be dropped at the end of the season. Although the Drivers' Standings does not indicate a massive disparity, the likeable Austrian has been made to look distinctly ordinary by teammate Nico Rosberg.
Asked in China to comment specifically on his drivers' performances this season, including that of test driver Kazuki Nakajima, Williams responded: "I think Nico is a star of the future, Alex has been very reliable but I am not sure whether he is going to race again next year.
"Nakajima - too soon to say if he will have an outstanding future or a medium future in F1, but I think he is Formula One material."
Jensen to field car for MexicoUPDATE This rumor, first broke by AutoRacing1.com last month, is upgraded to 'strong' today. Autosport reports that Eric Jensen has declared himself '90 percent certain' to run a Champ Car in the season finale, having been loaned PKV Racing's spare chassis.
"The only slight doubt that remains is covering the operational costs. We did have an agreement with a sponsor back in July to do this, and we were going to run the final two races, but the cancellation of the Phoenix race jeopardized that."
Jensen confirmed that he is not looking for a pay-driver, and that favorites for the seat are Ryan Dalziel who was recently released by Pacific Coast Motorsports and Franck Perera who finished runner-up in the Atlantic Championship.
He said: "I don't want someone who's going to crash, and Franck didn't crash once in Atlantics this year and is clearly very, very talented. And Ryan now has an almost complete season of experience in the DP01 and is also clearly talented."
Jensen has confirmed he has been in contact with Oriol Servia as well.
09/29/07 According to AutoRacing1.com sources there is a possibility that Jensen Motorsports will field a single Champ Car for Ryan Dalziel or Franck Perera at Mexico City. The team had also planned to run the Phoenix race until that was axed. We hear getting a spare car from a team may be the issue. Recall that Jensen fielded a car for one race in 2005 at Long Beach. Meanwhile the Eric Jensen team has applied for a GP2 franchise, and if approved, could be moving across the Atlantic for 2008.
Speed Channel suspends reporter Ray Dunlap Speed Channel has suspended on-air broadcaster Ray Dunlap for three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races, beginning with this weekend's Mountain Dew 250 at Talladega Superspeedway. Speed's spokesman Erik Arneson confirmed Dunlap's suspension on Thursday. Arneson declined to reveal the reason for Dunlap's suspension, saying Speed does not comment on personnel issues. However, The Charlotte Observer and ThatsRacin.com have learned through multiple sources that Dunlap's suspension is not related to any on-air actions in his role as pit reporter for Speed Channel.
IRL after Las Vegas raceUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. The following statement is from Champ Car to AutoRacing1.com.
"The idea of the IRL coming to Las Vegas is unfounded. They approached our promoters about Las Vegas but that was quickly dismissed."
So they tried and were once again unsuccessful.
10/03/07 Rumor has it that there are now two parties trying to buy the rights of the Las Vegas race from Dale Jensen - Champ Car (read that Kevin Kalkhoven) and the IRL (read that Andretti Green Racing - AGR - with financial help from Tony George). This isn't the first time the IRL and AGR has tried to take a race that Champ Car built. They previously bought the St. Petersburg GP and the Detroit GP, they tried to snatch the Cleveland GP years ago and they tried to grab the Long Beach GP when CART filed for bankruptcy.
Talladega expecting smaller-than-normal crowd Talladega Superspeedway likely will have a smaller crowd this weekend for its UAW-Ford 500 Nextel Cup race, International Speedway Corp. officials said Thursday.
"While we expect to draw a strong crowd for the weekend, advance ticket sales are trending behind ," said ISC Chief Operating Officer John Saunders during a call with financial analysts Thursday.
High fuel prices impact Talladega sales because nearly 75 percent of the ticket holders come from out of state.
"We have significantly improved attendance for this year's event weekend as compared to 2005 and have retained a sizable percentage of the new event attendees from last year," Saunders said.
'B' teams must wait for 2008 cars (GMM) At least two formula one teams look likely to start the 2008 season with 'old' cars.
It has emerged that both Super Aguri and Toro Rosso, viewed by some in pitlane as 'B' teams for Honda and Red Bull respectively, will probably still be using their current chassis at least for the early races of next year.
Reports have indicated that the reason for the delays, in both cases, is logistical -- with the parent outfits simply unable to prepare enough versions of their new 2008-spec models, plus spare parts, to equip a second team.
A more likely explanation, however, is the continuing uncertainty over the legality of 'customer cars' for 2008, with McLaren-Mercedes 'B' team Prodrive also yet to move ahead with its plans for its debut season.
Honda boss Nick Fry confirmed that Super Aguri would like to use an identical works 2008 car next year, but insists that the plans have only been delayed due to logistics.
"If the rules allow it, the objective would be for Super Aguri to have the same car as us next year, but that probably wouldn't be from round one -- purely because the logistics just don't work," he is quoted as saying by Speed TV.
"Even though we have substantial manufacturing capability, to turn out two teams' worth of cars in time for round one just would not be possible," Fry added.
The 'customer car' regulation hold-up may, however, be pushed along now that a date has been set for Spyker's arbitration case against the two 'B' teams.
It has emerged that the first hearing in the Swiss based Court of Arbitration for Sport will take place on October 9 (next Tuesday) in Lausanne.
Overheard at Assen - SaturdayUPDATE #2 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Here is an interesting article on Tony Cochrane. Some of the figures given are a bit low, but it is interesting he was in the US not too long back "looking at business opportunities" and he attended a Champ Car race with Craig Gore: Team Australia and the backer of Marcos Ambrose's Craftsman's truck. It is surprising to learn he won a US Tony Award for the play "Hairspray" that he produced for Broadway. The article states that Cochrane is resigning his position as Chairman of the V8 Supercar Series and his company SEL is looking overseas for new business opportunities. Let's pray he and/or his company SEL does get involved with Champ Car and fixes the big mess it is in. Robert Ryan
09/26/07 According to AutoRacing1.com sources in Australia, Tony Cochrane has sold his house on the Australia Gold Coast and has not bought a new one. Hmmm.......Cochrane would be great for the series. Look what he did for V8s. In 1996 the series almost collapsed due to a lack of commercial interest, the rising Two Liter racing category and the fact that most races were in country tracks not street circuits. Within 3 years he had pushed V8 Supercar racing within the top 5 most watched sports in Australia and killed off 2 liter racing in Australia. Tony Cochrane also moved races away from country tracks to city street circuits in touch with corporate sponsors and fans. An interesting note - within 5 years Cochrane had introduced 4 brand new successful street circuit races to the V8 Supercars. He is one savvy businessman.
09/01/07 We spotted V8 Supercar boss Tony Cochrane (pictured right) in the Team Australia pits talking to Craig Gore and Derrick Walker. Word is that he flew in for four hours to meet with Champ Car boss Kevin Kalkhoven regarding the Champ Car series. The outspoken Cochrane runs a tight ship in his V8 Supercar series, which is hugely popular in Australia and New Zealand and has recently branched out to other countries. Of course Kalkhoven is also Australian as is Paul Stoddart. Could we be seeing more Australian influence in Champ Car before long?
Champ Car to lose TaglianiUPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, You must be joking the - the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series (CTNS) has 12 races, some of them on Mickey Mouse tracks, and the best track in Ontario (Delaware Speedway) dropped the series this year. They are racing before 2-3,000 fans in most races and the winner's purse is $7500. Even if Tag is not making that much money in Champ Car he is at least racing in the 2nd or 3rd best racing series in the world not the 1st or 2nd best stock car series in Ontario, Canada.
By the way the old CASCAR series used to have 30-40 entries. Depending on the track most of the CTNS races had 20 cars, which is not exactly healthy, and the series had absolutely no media buzz.
Dean McNulty doesn't like Champ Car and never has. He writes any negatives he can about Champ Car but his paper is a big sponsor of the Toronto Steelback Champ Car Grand Prix. Bill Brittain
10/03/07 The bad news just keeps flowing unabated for Champ Car. Another Canadian Champ Car World Series star is being groomed to join the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series next season, Sun Media has been told.
According to several sources, Alex Tagliani is expected to join Dave Jacombs Racing --the team that won the series championship this year with Andrew Ranger.
Ranger jumped to NASCAR from Champ Car this past season and said that it was the best move he's made in his racing career, winning the NCATS title in his first stock car season.
Ranger, who raced for two seasons in Champ Car, is now poised to move up to the Craftsman Truck Series and compete in several Busch Series races next season.
A source close to the Jacombs No. 27 Tide/Wal-Mart Ford squad said after the series finale at Kawartha Speedway that the team was in discussions with another Champ Car driver for the 2008 season. Toronto Sun
Will IRL's new payout system attract some CCWS teams? This SPEEDTV.com article points out that the IRL's new (and old) purse payout system to its teams dwarfs Champ Car's. It remains to be seen if the new IRL TEAM system works and entices some existing Champ Car teams to switch sides, thereby almost ensuring the end of the series. However, the Champ Car team owners point out that it's far more expensive to run in the IRL and the lesser teams have zero chance of running up front. The new system also is a big hit financially to the larger IRL teams unless they win often. However, all of them are flush with sponsorship money, so the hit will likely be nil. With both the IRL and Champ Car car-count low, at least the IRL is trying to do something about it by guaranteeing the smaller teams a minimum payout to participate.
Kovalainen key to Alonso's Renault return? (GMM) Heikki Kovalainen has emerged as a potentially central figure in the short term future of reigning world champion Fernando Alonso.
The Finnish rookie's Renault team boss Flavio Briatore revealed this week that he has made a solid offer to reunite the French outfit with Alonso, its recent back to back title winner.
"I've said to Fernando that the moment he is free from McLaren, we would like to have him back," the Italian told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
But while many believe that Giancarlo Fisichella would be the obvious choice to make room for the Spaniard next year, Renault has not yet confirmed either of its current drivers for the 2008 season.
It has sparked speculation, including in the German magazine Sport Bild, that Fisichella will actually stay put to once again be Alonso's teammate -- particularly as Briatore indicated that "the days are gone when you could have two strong drivers in the same team".
Senior Renault engineer Alan Permane is the latest to gush over the recent quality of Kovalainen's driving, saying in an interview that the 25-year-old is "going from strength to strength at the moment".
Offering the increasingly impressive Kovalainen to McLaren, therefore, could be a key aspect in Briatore's attempt to persuade Ron Dennis to release Alonso.
Perhaps higher on Dennis' wish list to replace Alonso, however, is Nico Rosberg, who is under contract to Williams but, crucially, has not yet been formally confirmed by the Grove based team for next year.
The 22-year-old German told Sport Bild this week: "I do not have an influence on things that lie outside of my job as a racing driver."
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