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Scuderia Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric sounded very confident Thursday at Interlagos when asked about his 2015 prospects with the team.
"Compared to one month ago," Vergne told France's RMC at Interlagos, "the situation is much more optimistic.
Of course, Vergne was passed up for a set at the Red Bull senior team in favor of 2014 STR teammate Daniil Kvyat last month. It was the second time in a year's span that JEV had lost out to a Toro Rosso teammate, as 2013-teammate Daniel Ricciardo got the nod for 2014.
"A lot of people at Red Bull and Toro Rosso would like to keep me next year so we will see how the situation will evolve," he added.
Messy contractual situation brewing at Sauber? (Update 2)UPDATE #2
Giedo van der Garde says his Legal Eagles will be handling his contract situation with Sauber.
Add Giedo van der Garde to the list of drivers who believe they have a contract to drive with Sauber for next season.
The Dutchman confirmed this Thursday in light of 2014 Sauber man Adrian Sutil also saying he has a working contract with the Hinwil team for 2015. For those counting, that means four drivers under contract for Sauber next season, as the team announced Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr in the past week.
"You could say that I am surprised -- in capital letters," van der Garde told the Swiss newspaper Blick.
"Next week my management and lawyers will be on the case."
Van der Garde's good friend Nico Hulkenberg of Force-India told reporters he had spoken to the Dutchman about his 2015 contract on Tuesday.
F1 comeback bid ended Barrichello commentary (Update)UPDATE
Rubens Barrichello was poised to return to Formula 1 with Caterham for the final three races of the season, it has been claimed.
According to reports by Fox Sports, the former Ferrari, Honda and Williams driver would have replaced Kamui Kobayashi.
The deal, however, fell through when Caterham went into administration last month after a series of disputes between Engavest SA, the consortium that purchased the team in July, and former owner Tony Fernandes.
"We would have run Barrichello in the last three races," a team source allegedly told Fox Sports. "We had sponsorship and everything was going the right way. It would have been fantastic for Formula 1."
Berger to replace Sam Michael at McLaren? (2nd Update)UPDATE #2
(GMM) Gerhard Berger has played down persistent speculation his next move could be a return to the F1 paddock.
The F1 legend recently stepped down from the FIA after presiding over the governing body's junior single seater categories.
It triggered speculation that earlier reports he might be preparing to join McLaren-Honda, although dismissed at the time as "utter nonsense", are actually true.
And then it emerged that 55-year-old former McLaren and Ferrari driver Berger, absent from F1 since selling his Toro Rosso shares in 2008, might even be drafted in by Ferrari to advise the Maranello team's new boss Marco Mattiacci.
Ecclestone working with Ferrari to lift engine freeze?
Bernie maneuvering behind the scenes to make sure Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel are competitive in the coming years? No way!
In Tuesday’s Latest F1 news in brief on AR1’s Hot News page you’ll see that Mercedes is apparently considering a proposal to lift the much-discussed engine freeze in Formula One. Thus far, Mercedes, who clearly have the dominant power-unit in Formula One, have shown little willingness to be flexible.
However, according to Ferrari boss Marco Mattiacci there was discussion of the matter this past weekend in Austin. Mattiacci noted that three-time World Champion and Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda has shown some flexibility on the matter. The report also noted that F1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone played a role in getting Mercedes to possibly budge.
Now, it should be noted that the report came from an Italian newspaper. And there was no confirmation of any discussions from Lauda or Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff.
F1's 'Minnow' Teams Could Be Handed $160M Windfall To Prevent Boycott F1's "three minnow teams could be handed" a $160M windfall to "prevent another threat of a boycott," according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. Force India, Lotus and Sauber "turned the screw on F1's rulers last weekend by threatening to pull out of the showpiece United States Grand Prix in protest at what they see as an unequal payments system that unfairly hands millions of pounds to the biggest teams in the sport."
A "frantic series of meetings before the start of the race resulted in a phone call" from F1 majority shareholder CVC Capital Chair Donald Mackenzie to Lotus Chair Gerard Lopez. Mackenzie "pleaded with Lopez to call off the action in return for a compromise settlement that seems likely to include a series of payments directly from CVC's funds."
There were times during Friday's press conference when one could have cut the air with a knife. Though nowhere near as riveting as Canada 2003, when Ron Dennis and (Minardi boss) Paul Stoddart went head-to-head, it did have its moments, with both sides making sense.
And, as ever, that is what it is all about, sides. Us and them, the haves and have-nots, the big teams and the rest.
After months of speculation, Caterham and Marussia have gone to the wall, and while the administrators claim interest from numerous parties, talk of Romanian consortiums hardly inspires confidence.
Whilst Toto Wolff and Eric Boullier fought their corner, Vijay Mallya and (Lotus owner) Gerard Lopez made some valid points; the Force India pointing out to the McLaren and Mercedes representatives that they receive (pay) checks whilst he's always issuing them, and Lopez asking how the sport can justify the huge amounts spent when the cars are only marginally quicker than their GP2 counterparts.
Sweeping changes coming for Roush Fenway Racing According to AR1 sources Roush Fenway Racing will start 2015 with new leadership. Doug Yates will manage the race team and Mark McArdle will manage the engineering department.
Sure, it looks good here. But this 2014 Renault V6 power-unit is no match for the Mercedes version.
Add Renault to the list of parties re-considering their future in Formula 1 in the wake of the current financial situation plaguing the sport.
The famous French marque has supplied engines to nine World Championship teams from 1992-2013, including the last four with Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull. While Renault-powered Red Bulls have captured three Grand Prix victories in 2014 with Daniel Ricciardo at the wheel, the company’s V6 turbo-charged hybrid power unit is clearly at a deficit to the dominant Mercedes.
With Lotus switching to Mercedes in 2015, Red Bull losing Vettel, the team reconsidering their engine options after 2015, and Caterham having gone into administration, Renault is losing customers. Plus, Honda rejoins the fray in 2015, and the Japanese marque is sure to drive up the price of competition.
AR1’s Formula One sources have told us are telling us that in addition to Caterham and Marussia going into administration, Sauber and Force India experiencing financial difficulties, you can add a budget cup coming to Ferrari. Fiat/Chrysler of course, plans to move Ferrari out from under its financial support umbrella in the near future.
Further, could the budget cuts have something to do with Fernando Alonso wanting to negotiate his way out of Ferrari? And if that is the case, has Sebastian Vettel potentially made a disastrous move in switching to Maranello during his prime year.
FIA could change US GP qualifying format for 18-car entry (Update)UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. The FIA have confirmed the revised qualifying format for this weekend's U.S. GP amid the absences of Caterham and Marussia.
With just nine teams and 18 cars racing in Austin this weekend – the fewest number entered for an F1 event since 2005 – the usual three-part knockout for qualifying has had to be tweaked to take into account the reduced field.
Instead of the usual six cars being knocked out in Q1 and Q2 respectively, four will exit each of the opening two segments to leave the normal top-ten runners to battle for pole in Q3.
Domenicali to start work at Audi next week (Update)UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement by Audi.
Domenicali (L) with Pat Fry before he was sacked by Ferrari
(GMM) Stefano Domenicali will reportedly start work at Audi next week.
Earlier this month, reports emerged that the former Ferrari team boss had accepted an offer to work for the Volkswagen-owned carmaker.
It triggered rumors not only that Audi could be set to abandon its Le Mans and DTM projects and head to F1 for 2016, but that the project could be spearheaded from the cockpit by the Domenicali ally and friend Fernando Alonso.
Italy's Corriere dello Sport now claims Domenicali, 49, will move into his new office in Ingolstadt next week, having signed a contract with Audi at the beginning of last week.
2015 IndyCar Schedule (18th Update)UPDATE #18 Latest prediction for the 2015 IndyCar schedule to be announced today: February 22: Dubai (expected, not confirmed) March 8: Brasilia (confirmed) March 29: St. Petersburg (confirmed) April 12: New Orleans (confirmed) April 19: Long Beach (confirmed) April 26: Birmingham (confirmed) May 9: Indianapolis road course (confirmed) May 24: Indianapolis 500 (confirmed) May 30-31: Detroit doubleheader (confirmed) June 6: Fort Worth (confirmed) June 13-14: Toronto doubleheader (confirmed) June 27: Fontana (confirmed) July 12: Milwaukee (confirmed) July 19: Iowa (best guess) Aug. 2: Mid-Ohio (expected, not confirmed) Aug. 23: Pocono (best guess) Aug. 30: Sonoma (expected, not confirmed)
Hawksworth to drive 2nd Foyt entry (Update)UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.
A.J. Foyt's IndyCar Series team is going back to fielding two cars next season -- all season.
A formal announcement will come Wednesday afternoon, but the team based in Waller, Texas, with a new base in Indianapolis is expected to announce that Jack Hawksworth will drive the No. 41 car alongside Takuma Sato in the No. 14. Both cars will be powered by Honda. Indy Star
Sam Bird still eyes IndyCar Series (2nd Update)UPDATE #2 With two words "In Indianapolis" followed by a smiley face, Sam Bird may have given away a clue he's looking at a Verizon IndyCar Series seat for 2015.
Bird tweeted this on Tuesday night, and frankly there's no reason for a young driver from across the pond to tweet "In Indianapolis" if there isn't some intention of looking to explore teams.
It would also follow nicely after this tweet from Monday saying he was off to America:
(GMM) It is perhaps the burning question in F1 at present -- what is Fernando Alonso going to do next?
Hopeful rookie Carlos Sainz Jr, a fellow Spaniard, summed up the mood of the entire paddock when he told AS newspaper on Wednesday: "I have no idea."
In fact, some F1 protagonists believe they know what is going to happen.
Italy's specialist La Gazzetta dello Sport declared on Wednesday that new Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne will travel to Austin this weekend for a double announcement -- Alonso's exit and the arrival of Sebastian Vettel.
IndyCar to run downtown Toronto, not Mosport? (2nd Update)UPDATE #2 It appears almost certain that promoters of the Honda Indy Toronto and the Verizon IndyCar Series have agreed that the 2015 race will stay downtown, but be held a month earlier than usual.
After months of on again, off again, talks with City of Toronto officials about when to hold the race in the face of the Pan Am Games taking over its traditional Exhibition Place home for all of July next season, a decision was made to move it to mid June.
The announcement that the race will be held June 12-14 next year will be made on Thursday.
Those dates also avoided a potential conflict with Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix, which will run June 5-7 at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
However, Caterham F1 driver Marcus Ericcson's manager Eje Elgh had a rather interesting quote in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet when asked about the possibility of Caterham returning for next month's Formula One season finale at Abu Dhabi.
"(Bernie) Ecclestone has given them an ultimatum that they must be in Abu Dhabi to get the license for next year," he said.
"Without the license, the bankruptcy trustee cannot sell the team because it will be worthless. I am guessing that the team will be at the season finale and that Marcus will be asked to race," Elgh said.
Busch and Danica to switch crews (2nd Update)UPDATE #2
Kurt Busch's switch to Stewart-Haas Racing has not produced the expected results.
Greg Zipadelli met with the media Friday at Martinsville to discuss the crew swap between the #10 & #41 teams that was announced this week:
TAKE US THROUGH THE CHANGES THIS WEEK: "This week obviously we have made some changes for Texas between the #10 and the #41. We are just basically looking to try to get both teams to be a little more consistent. They have had speed throughout the year, but haven't necessarily put the whole season together all the races at the level that we expect from them. Tony Gibson has got a lot of experience. That group has been with a lot of veteran drivers. We just felt like it was worth moving him over to Kurt (Busch). We feel like his experience and things will help put that group together and get the finishes that we need out of that team. As far as Daniel (Knost) he is a young aggressive, very smart engineer. Danica (Patrick) is used to more of that dealing with the engineers from her background. She actually, a while ago, talked about having the opportunity to work with a younger engineer and build the relationship over time. I just kind of feel like it was the time to do it. We have three races with us not sure what the testing policy is for next year. This is a good opportunity for us to switch things up for Texas. The last three races and just see how things go."
Marussia also won't race in America (Update)UPDATE
American Alexander Rossi could not write a big check to buy his ride and keep Marussia afloat so his chances of racing in the USGP are now zero
This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Marussia will join fellow F1 straggler Caterham in not racing in Austin next weekend, Bernie Ecclestone has announced.
The news follows the sport's chief executive giving Caterham special dispensation to miss the US-Brazil double header as it enters administration.
But we had reported on Friday that the grid may in fact shrink from its usual 22 to just 18 cars in Austin, because Marussia - grief-stricken after the Jules Bianchi crash - was struggling to find a necessary cash injection to ship its cars and equipment from the UK for the trek to America.
"This is happening while the owner Andrey Cheglakov wants to sell," Auto Motor und Sport's Michael Schmidt had claimed.
F1 deal for Las Vegas race may be shot across LB's bow (4th Update)UPDATE #4 As Forbes reported last week, he is in discussion about hosting a Grand Prix on the streets of Las Vegas which last hosted F1 in 1982. This was confirmed by Mr. Ecclestone himself and a source in the United States who said that F1's track designer Hermann Tilke has made site visits to Vegas to design the course.
Further details came from respected American motorsport correspondent Steven Cole Smith who revealed that "an investment and management group is deeply involved in bringing a Formula One street race back to Las Vegas."
Earlier this week American motoring magazine Autoweek reported that the organizers of the Vegas Grand Prix have asked Mr. Ecclestone to visit the city and officials in advance of next weekend's F1 race in Austin, Texas. Mr. Ecclestone added that the organizers do not include Vegas powerhouses, casino magnate Steve Wynn and Guy Laliberté, the co-founder of circus troupe Cirque du Soleil which has eight shows in Vegas. However, as Forbes' previous report pointed out, both Mr. Laliberté and Mr. Wynn would benefit greatly from the race so they are likely to stand by it even if they are not amongst the organizers.
Madrid to replace Barcelona F1 race (3rd Update)UPDATE #3
Salvador Servia, father of Oriol Servia, not worried about his track losing race to Madrid
This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation' today. Bernie Ecclestone has played down reports he is in advanced talks to bring formula one to the streets of Madrid.
Spain's El Confidencial claimed this week the F1 supremo is already in possession of a business plan and bank guarantees, as a group of businessmen want the Spanish capital to host an annual street race.
The news would seem to be a threat to F1's existing Spanish grand prix in Barcelona, but Circuit de Catalunya boss Salvador Servia reacted: "We know nothing.
"Nobody has told us anything."
F1 chief executive Ecclestone has also now played down the Madrid reports, confirming that a group "talked about it but nothing has happened".
And while the scholarship sum has been reduced, Chaves will be the beneficiary of greater latitude in how exactly the Mazda money can be used. Previously, drivers had to secure full-season deals for the scholarship to take effect, in what amounted to a “use it or lose it,” system. 2013 Indy Lights champion Sage Karam, of course, was only able to make one IndyCar start in 2014, the Indianapolis 500, as the Nazareth, PA native was unable to parlay the Mazda scholarship into a full-time ride.
Davey Hamilton to field full-time car in 2015 (Update 4)UPDATE #4 Former IndyCar Series driver Davey Hamilton concluded a multi-year partnership with Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson, and tells RACER.com he's finalizing plans to enter a car of his own in conjunction with an existing IndyCar team.
"I have a passion for IndyCar racing from when I was a little kid to today, and there are some things they need to improve that we all know about; but it's something I still want to be involved with, so I've been working hard to put my own program together and it's getting closer every day," said Hamilton.
"I have a show car, two complete racecars, I own a full hospitality unit, and I have a lot of the equipment to be a true co-owner, and I've built that up over the last few years. I have a vested interest in the series and want to continue to invest in IndyCar. I want to use my assets to work with a team and have them make the most of what I can bring with my equipment and my sponsors, and I'm not looking to do it all myself – from scratch – so it makes sense to partner with a team that can achieve all the goals I just mentioned and for me to be a bigger part of what's going on to deliver that success."
China to buy or start an F1 team Wei Di, the director of the Automobile and Motorcycling Administrative Center, part of the country’s General Administration of Sport, says that a Chinese group is bidding to acquire a Formula 1 team and that “in the next one to two years, China will have its own F1 team”.
He did not say who was behind the idea. The organization he heads is the state-run sports organization which serves as the permanent administrative body of the Federation of Automobile Sports (FASC), the country’s FIA-linked sporting federation. It was established in 2002 in order to organize, direct and promote automobile and motorcycle sports in China.
AR1 is hearing Chip Ganassi Racing will be testing Chevrolet aero-kits in the near future.
With Team Penske having tested Chevrolet's 2015 IndyCar aero-kits, we are hearing now that Chip Ganassi Racing will be testing them within the near future. The Penske team, of course, ran the kits on the Homestead oval and Circuit of the Americas. No word on whether Ganassi will test the same kits as Penske or a different spec.
We heard back at Fontana that Andretti Autosport would be the first to test the Honda aero-kits. The team has a test session scheduled October 27th at Barber Motorsports Park, when they plan to run Formula E driver Daniel Abt. We imagine, however, the aero-kit test will take place at an undisclosed location.
Anyway, expect a Ganassi aero-kit test session sometime in the near future. And stay tuned to AR1 for updates.
Jenson Button has enjoyed a fine F1 career. But at 34 it would seem his options for a competitive seat are very limited.
According to the BBC, 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button is mulling a switch to the World Endurance Championship in the case he cannot secure a top-level F1 seat.
The Briton, of course, is facing an uncertain future with the Woking-based team, who are said to be in hot pursuit of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso to lead their effort in light of Honda's return in 2015. With Alonso likely headed to McLaren, it appears the 34-year-old Briton is less likely to be resigned than 22-year-old Dane Kevin Magnussen, currently in his first season of F1.
Earlier this season, Button moved into third-place on the all-time F1 starts list passing Ricardo Patrese. Only seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher (308) and Button's former Honda and Brawn teammate Rubens Barrichello (326) have more career starts than Button's 265. The Frome, Somerset native also has scored 15 Grand Prix victories, the most recent being the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Vettel signs Ferrari contract (12th Update)UPDATE #12 This rumor, first published in May 2012 (yes over two years ago) stating that Sebastian Vettel had signed with Ferrari, is about to become 'fact.' It was the first of many such rumors on AR1.com in the two years that followed.
12/20/12 We are bumping this rumor up to 'strong' based on positive Vettel comments in this news article by Luca di Montezemolo.
11/26/12 Sebastian Vettel refused to be drawn on whether his next challenge will be winning a title with another team after claiming his third with Red Bull. Asked about whether his next step in Formula One would be to win a title with "another" team, Vettel said: "I want to enjoy now.
"I tried to explain to you that for the whole team the most important thing is the present, I don't want to get carried away with next year or next years, I want to have a good time tonight and let's see how long... Sometimes at some stage you have to charge your batteries, come back in shape next season.
"I am with the team, I have a contract until the end of 2014, I am very happy with what we have achieved so far and this story isn't over yet.
"I am very happy and extremely committed to give everything I have in the next years and at the moment I don't see any point about seeing another team or something else."
Vettel to Ferrari? (Update)UPDATE This rumor, first published here in February 2013, is about to become 'fact.' No one believed it back then.
Vettel and Alonso pairing not practical?
Negotiations over the futures of both Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso could effectively end speculation that the two leading drivers of their generation wind up as team-mates.
While Alonso's long-term future ties him to Ferrari, the past two seasons have been peppered with suggestions that Vettel may join him in a Maranello 'super team'. Various Ferrari sources have claimed that Vettel had an agreement to join the team from 2014, with Stefano Domenicali - and even Vettel himself – doing little to quell the speculation. Only Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has spoken out against the partnership, claiming that it would be difficult to manage two outstanding talents under the same roof.
For Alonso it's down to McLaren Honda or staying at Ferrari (2nd Update)UPDATE #2 He won't be staying at Ferrari based on today's revelation.
10/12/14 (GMM) Fernando Alonso dropped a big hint about his future after Sunday's Russian grand prix.
Wild rumors in the past few days suggested the Spaniard was working on a sensational deal to join dominant Mercedes next year, in Lewis Hamilton's place.
"This is all bullshit," Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told German television Sky at Sochi.
"We have a driver lineup for next year," he said, referring to Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
"We just don't want to go into contract negotiations (with Hamilton beyond 2015) during this intense phase, which is why there are these rumors.
"But we have said that at the end of the season, we will get together and renew the contract," Wolff insisted.
Alonso has undoubtedly been in talks with McLaren-Honda for 2015, but the Woking team has reportedly been trying to drive down his retainer and insisting upon a more than one-year term.
It has triggered rumors Alonso could go elsewhere in 2015 as a 'stopgap' -- perhaps Williams or Lotus, both of which will have the field-leading Mercedes V6 next year.
But the 33-year-old has now been quoted by the US broadcaster NBC after the Russian grand prix that his next team will not be powered by Mercedes.
"My future is already set," he told British television Sky a few minutes earlier. "Or already set in my mind for some months.
"Now we are finalizing everything," Alonso revealed. "You need to be patient, you need to wait a little bit.
"I cannot say anything until everything is completely done but it's good and I will do the best for my future and the best for the future of Ferrari because it is the team that I love.
"When you know it you will say 'it was so obvious you will do that'," he added.....which means he could stay at Ferrari and drive alongside Vettel, or move to McLaren-Honda. There is nothing else now.
Fernando Alonso caught with his pants down by Vettel move
(GMM) Fernando Alonso is locked in "tough negotiations" with McLaren, the F1 correspondent Luis Vasconcelos claims.
Although the Spanish driver insists Sebastian Vettel's switch to Ferrari is a mere symptom of his own plans for the future, there are sections of the media who think the German actually caught Alonso off guard.
Some well-placed Spanish correspondents, for instance, think Alonso expected to be replaced at Ferrari by Lewis Hamilton, therefore opening up the prime seat at dominant Mercedes.
That suspicion would tie in with the fact that, like the rest of F1, even Red Bull was apparently caught off guard by Vettel's news, which was revealed to the team mere hours before it was made globally public. Of course for over one year AR1.com readers read many rumors placing Vettel at Ferrari.
Luca Filippi in pole position for the vacant #98 seat?
In this RACER article by Marshall Pruett, Bryan Herta mentions that he if he can raise the possible funds, he would like to run Italian Luca Filippi full-time in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series. Filippi, of course, made four starts for the team in 2013, and showed flashes of potential.
For what it's worth, we here at AR1 hold the 29-year-old Italian in very high regard. And with Honda needing to bolster its driver lineup in the wake of losing both Josef Newgarden (CFH Racing) and Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske), Filippi would be a very good addition to the Honda stable.
Pippa Mann practicing for this past year's Indianapolis 500.
AutoRacing1 is hearing that Pippa Mann is likely to run the 2015 Indianapolis 500, once again with Dale Coyne Racing. Mann, who has contested three Indy 500s, ran each of the last two in a third DCR entry. However, as first rumored by AutoRacing1 during this past year's Pocono weekend, we are hearing once again the IMS Radio announcer may contest additional Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2014.
What races exactly will for the former Indy Lights winner run? We don't know for sure. Mann has 7 career series starts, all on ovals, and it appears that some combination of the oval races would be the most likely.
In any case, stay tuned to AR1, as we continue to track this story.
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