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Sato, de Ferran team to also run IndyCarUPDATE #12 Gil de Ferran, who owns De Ferran Motorsports, still doesn't have an IndyCar program to announce for 2010 but said he remains on the path to have one. "I'm pushing it at every angle," he said. "We're trying to do Indy cars and sports cars, but I don't have anything to announce." De Ferran said he has talked extensively with former Formula One driver Takuma Sato but said other drivers with potential deals are out there. IndyStar.com
08/07/09 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. Gil de Ferran announced today at Mid-Ohio that his goal is to have a 2-car ALMS and 2-car IndyCar team in 2010. We will have more information on this story on our Hot News page shortly. Mark C. reporting from Mid-Ohio.
08/07/09 Here in Mid-Ohio Friday we spotted Gil de Ferran and the President of his racing team, Robert Clarke (former HPD boss), walking into a meeting with Honda Performance Development (HPD) boss Erik Berkman in the HPD Business Unit. Were they discussing the Acura ALMS program or the expansion of De Ferran Motorsports into IndyCar? It's that time of year where decisions for next year begin to solidify. Mark C. reporting from Mid-Ohio
07/09/09 There are no plans and there are no discussions to sell the American Le Mans Series. There are absolutely no plans or discussions to sell IMSA or any of the Panoz Motor Sports Group circuits either. You know, these same rumors have surfaced in various forms for many years and nothing has ever materialized from any of them. Scott Atherton, ALMS President and CEO
Lots of rumors about Acura departing the Series. If Acura decides to leave after this season, can the Series survive? Beyond the cars it fields on track, it also is a big corporate partner of the Series - it would be a huge competitive and commercial blow, wouldn't it?
Atherton: "As has been the case from the start, I am in constant contact with Acura executives from both the retail and motorsports divisions. Acura, like virtually every auto manufacturer, is currently looking at all options regarding its future - not only its involvement with the American Le Mans Series but across the board. We are fortunate to be involved with many major auto manufacturers - more than any other major racing series in the world - and as a result if one elects not to continue at the same level or opts out, it’s not a disaster."
07/04/09 Still hearing that Sato is coming, just don't know when or with which team. But if the rumors are true that ALMS might not answer the bell in 2010, then we could see all the Acura teams move to the IRL.
06/22/09 Takuma Sato appears headed for the IndyCar Series in 2010. Formula Dream's financial involvement in the series appears headed for the former F1 driver. A team has not been identified, but Panther Racing and De Ferran Motorsports are likely choices. Formula Dream has sponsored Hideki Mutoh's car at Andretti Green Racing the past two seasons. AutoWeek
05/08/09 Spotted at Indy today - Gil de Ferran and Japanese ex-Honda F1 driver Takuma Sato. Recall we rumored that Sato would be one of de Ferran's drivers in IndyCar. Could it happen before 2010?
05/04/09 Hearing more rumors that De Ferran Motorsports will be running an IndyCar team in 2010.
04/05/09 Scott Sharp is a year removed from driving in the IndyCar Series, and he's itching to return. No plans are set, but the 1996 series co-champion is hoping to have a ride for the Indianapolis 500. "I'd like to, with the right deal," he said. "We're trying. We'll see." Sharp, who won Indy's pole in 2001, is in his second season with the American Le Mans Series. Indy Star
04/03/09 Our ALMS sources tell us that although Acura would prefer to be racing another manufacturer in LMP1, like the IRL where they have no competition, they are quite happy with ALMS and still able to use the series to market their product and help sell cars.
03/25/09 Robin Miller reports - The ALMS folks got all riled up because of my "rumor" on SPEED REPORT last Sunday night that Honda would drop the Acura LP1 program after Sebring so let me clarify. OK, maybe that was bad phrasing. My understanding is that the R&D will cease on this car immediately and Honda wants to take Gil de Ferran's team to the IRL in 2010 instead of competing against no one in sports cars.
I also heard that Honda of Japan wants Takuma Sato in an open wheel series and he may get to run a couple of ovals prior to Motegi (ideally with Gil's people). And, if de Ferran runs two cars next year, it would be good to see Simon Pagenaud back in an open wheel car. There's also talk that Scott Sharp's Highcroft team may be bringing him to Indianapolis this May.
Would owner Duncan Dayton, an accomplished vintage F1 racer, want to go IndyCar racing full-time? Probably depends on what happens with Honda and the ALMS.
But the ALMS folks swear de Ferran and Highcroft will continue with their 2009 ALMS efforts. It's just a shame that Audi and Porsche bailed because the ALMS had a lot of momentum after last year and watching the end of Sebring with Peugeot and Audi was entertaining. SPEEDTV.com
03/23/09 Marshall Pruett, who covers the ALMS and was at Sebring, said on Wind Tunnel that he hadn't heard anything about the possible pull out by Acura. Audi will return for Petit Le Mans and Laguna Seca and will likely return full time in 2010. Plus there's the possibility that Porsche will roll out their new LMP1 by the end of the season. Panoz also announced he plans on building a front engine LMP1 that he hopes it will hit the track at the end of the season. One has a hard time believing Honda/Acura is going to throw in the towel after one race after spending millions developing their new LMP1 prototype even though they were 2 seconds off the pace of the diesels during the Sebring race.
03/22/09 Robin Miller reported Sunday night on The Speed Report that rumor has it that jilted Honda F1 driver Takumo Sato will be hired by the Gil de Ferran Acura (i.e. Honda) team before the end of the year and together with the Patron Highcroft Sharp Acura ALMS team will move back to IndyCar this year.
Miller hears that Honda is not happy that they will be the only brand in competition in ALMS LMP1, so they want to pull out and use that funding for these two teams in IndyCar.
IndyCar rumor updatesUPDATE Tony George confirmed layoffs at Vision Racing, which does not have a major sponsor, but said he still plans to field a car in 2010. IndyStar.com
10/07/09 Series title sponsor IndyCar has been without one since Northern Light fizzled out at the end of its second of five scheduled seasons in 2001.
Izod, which has been a strong series partner the past two years, may fill that role, but an announcement has not yet been made.
The schedule Officials have invested heavily in the new Brazilian race scheduled to open the season. A deal was apparently reached last week, but there has been no announcement as to which city will host the March 14 race.
The traditional race in Milwaukee is not on next year's 17-race schedule, which for the first time will have more street/road course races (nine) than ovals (eight).
The participants Team Penske is expected to make Will Power a full-time driver and become a three-car team.
The reorganizing Andretti team might slip from four cars to three if the Formula Dream sponsorship (currently supporting Hideki Mutoh) moves to another team.
George has said Vision Racing needs to find sponsorship to continue with Ed Carpenter. De Ferran Motorsports has grown quiet regarding its plans to enter the series. IndyStar.com
(L to R) Ken Anderson, Jose Lopez and Peter Windsor
(GMM) Argentine driver Jose Maria Lopez has reportedly signed to race with the USF1 team in 2010.
The 26-year-old former GP2 driver, who has recently been racing in his country's touring car championship, must complete a $8m sponsorship package but has signed documentation at the team's Charlotte base, the Corsa publication said.
"The agreement with the American team is done," said Carlos Garcia Remohi, an official with the Argentine club.
"We have a week to finish collecting the budget."
Lopez, who occasionally tested with Renault a few years ago, was pictured by the ambito.com website standing at the USF1 entrance with principals Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor.
"To be specific, at this moment we lack about 20 per cent of the budget," Lopez's father confirmed.
Kahne Leaving RPM Kasey Kahne may finally "get out of Dodge" especially with the team’s management, which he has been clearly frustrated with.
“I use to try and stay in the loop and then things don’t happen that they say will,” Kahne said Friday morning at Homestead-Miami Speedway. “At this point, I have one year left (on my RPM contract). I want to do the best job for Richard Petty Motorsports in my final year. It’s up to them what happens. They do their thing and I’ll do mine. All I can do is make myself better at driving race cars and communicating with (crew chief) Kenny Francis. If I do that, I’ll be happy next season.”
Asked if he’d be seeking out opportunities elsewhere next season, Kahne said, “Yeah.”
Kahne was hesitant to speculate what the future might hold for him after his RPM contract expires at the end of 2010.
“That’s hard to say. Come January, I can start looking around. I can talk to other people,” Kahne said. “I would imagine the Gilletts are going to talk to me at that point. But as of right now, the Gilletts haven’t talked to me and I’m just kind of doing my job, doing the best that I can through the end of the season. The ups and downs of the team has made it difficult for me to really say, ‘Man, I’m going to be here for 10 more years.’ I really don’t know what’s going to happen. Truthfully, I don’t know what’s going to happen right now.”
Penske to drop Marlboro colors for 2010? Penske Racing confirmed Verizon Wireless as the sponsor of its third full-season Indy car, a black-and-red machine to be driven by Will Power. But it might not be the only new look for Roger Penske's team.
Longtime cancer stick producer Philip Morris is reducing its involvement with the team through its Marlboro brand, and that could affect how the cars of Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe look in 2010 and beyond.
Team president Tim Cindric said the traditional Marlboro colors could be gone.
"We have looked at changing this over the last few years, especially now that the international races require (the two cars) to look different," he said.
A decision on the paint scheme will be made in January, he said. IndyCar.com
Political shenanigans between FIA and FOTA Martin Birrane, Executive Chairman of the Lola Group, believes that the FIA was taking advantage of a selection of budding new teams during the ongoing war between the Formula 1 governing body and FOTA earlier in the season. With Lola and numerous other teams having not been selected to take part in the 2010 championship, N.Technology has already gone before French courts to discuss what it describes as 'irregularities' in the FIA voting process which eventually saw Campos, Manor and USF1 selected, with Lotus later taking the place of departing BMW.
"It was something of a mystery to us at first but clearly we were, to some extent, being used as pawns between the FIA and FOTA," explained Lola's Birrane, who had been attracted to F1 by the £30m budget cap, which was later overturned by FOTA, with Lola withdrawing its application just two days before N.Technology followed suit. "I do not think that technical capabilities were given sufficient consideration in the process. From commercial, accounting and sporting matters, everything seemed very thorough indeed.
"However, messages that we got from the FIA were that everything at Lola was in line with their standards and that of an organization intent on being competitive in Formula 1. It remains to be seen whether the three new teams that were selected then can achieve more than just 'also ran' status." Lola and N.Technology are not the only organizations to be left questioning the FIA's decisions earlier this year, as Prodrive also pondered its failure to be selected by the Paris-based federation, then being headed by Max Mosley.
"The conflict was very disturbing to us and certainly one potential investor was completely put off by it," Birrane revealed. "We decided to withdraw our application because we did not wish to be used in this political dispute. There was so much infighting and uncertainty at that stage and all we wanted to do was go racing." GPUpdate.net
De la Rosa, Villeneuve, Summerton linked to USF1UPDATE (GMM) Team principal Ken Anderson has named Pedro de la Rosa as a possible driver for the new American team USF1 in 2010.
De la Rosa, McLaren's long time Spanish test driver, has also been linked in recent times with Force India and Campos.
Of F1's four new teams, Manor has signed Timo Glock, Campos has signed Bruno Senna and Lotus has signed an unnamed driver, but the only news from USF1 was a rumor linking young American Jonathan Summerton with a race debut.
Summerton, 21, wrote on his Twitter page this week: "Who says I've signed man, (I'm) just saying F1 here we come.
"I know I can do it and would be honored to drive in F1 representing America," added Summerton, who does not possess a F1 super license.
Ken Anderson told France's Auto Hebdo: "The most important thing for us is to work with drivers who have F1 experience, simply because of the decrease in test days.
"Pedro de la Rosa is on our list," he said, referring to the 38-year-old.
"His F1 experience would be a major asset for us," Anderson continued. "Our list has about 12 names on it. All are excellent drivers who could bring us a lot.
"To choose two or three of them will not be easy," he said, while the report also mentioned Jacques Villeneuve and Franck Montagny.
It was reported by the French language Rue Frontenac this week that 1997 world champion Villeneuve is in intensive training in Austria to prepare for his F1 return.
McMurray to EGRUPDATE #3 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced that they will add Jamie McMurray as a teammate of #42-Juan Pablo Montoya, to drive the #1 Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevy for the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. McMurray will return to Ganassi whom he raced for from 2002-2005. Bass Pro Shops will once again return for their fifth season as one of the primary partners on the #1 Chevy. The Jamie McMurray Foundation (JMF), created in 2006, was formed to promote awareness of, and raise funding for, research, education and support for individuals and families affected by autism. The JMF is dedicated to bringing the financial backing and support of the NASCAR community, together with the passion and commitment of the autism community to promote better understanding of this challenging disability. Bass Pro Shops of Springfield, Missouri, will enter their fifth season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as one of the primary sponsors of the #1 Chevy. Earnhardt Ganassi
11/17/09 Apparently, a one-year deal was inked last Wednesday between Jamie McMurray and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and is expected to be announced sometime on Tuesday. Kevin "Bono" Manion is expected to continue on as the crew chief. FoxSports
Jack Arute to Versus? IndyCar TV pit reporter Jack Arute, subbing for Dave Moody, confirmed on Sirius he will not be returning to ESPN for 2010. We suspect he is headed to Versus to continue as the IRL's No. 1 cheerleader.
Penske planning to run Power in 3rd car in 2010UPDATE #2 Penske's IndyCar Series team confirmed the signing of the popular Australian with a media alert for a Thursday teleconference. The sponsor of the car will be unveiled then.
Officially, Power will drive for Penske Racing while Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe drive for Team Penske. The differentiation is based on Team Penske's contract with Philip Morris through its Marlboro brand.
10/29/09 It's looking like Will Power will be in a third car for Team Penske for all of 2010, IZOD is finalizing plans to be the series sponsor and, after months and miles of exploring and negotiations, it appears the 2010 season will, indeed, open in Brazil.
Power, whose season ended with a broken back in an accident at Sonoma a month after scoring his initial win for Roger Penske at Edmonton, hasn't heard anything definitive on joining Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves full-time.
"But I know Roger and Tim (Cindric) are working hard to make it happen," said the 28-year-old Aussie, who is progressing nicely from his injuries. "I said last year that driving part-time for Team Penske is better than anything else but I really want to run the full season because I think we can win the championship."
Cindric, president of Penske Performance, said on Wednesday that: "nothing was concrete yet but we're planning for three cars."
Penske Racing plans to go with three cars in next season's IndyCar Series. AutoWeek quotes Penske Performance president Tim Cindric as saying Will Power will join regulars Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe next season.
“I'm planning on running three cars full-time, but I don't have the deal done yet,” says Cindric.
The team plans to use staff from its Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car program to run the Power entry. Cindric says Penske is not planning a return to the sports car series next season due to a lack of funding.
Villeneuve eyes F1 returnUPDATE #3 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve has reunited with personal trainer Dr. Erwin Göllner in Austria as the French-Canadian hopes to secure a place on the Formula One grid and a return to the sport next year.
Having last raced in F1 for BMW before being replaced by Robert Kubica after the 2006 German Grand Prix, Villeneuve's career in the sport looked to be over as he concentrated on other commitments such as producing his own music. With the fire still burning for Jacques, however, he has been training hard just outside of Salzburg. "I found Erwin because I must be ready to drive as soon as possible," Villeneuve explained to French publication Rue Frontenac, now working again with the man who helped his fitness regime whilst driving for BMW. "He is providing the same routine as I had when I was in F1 before."
Having first departed the sport after leaving B.A.R at the end of the 2003 season, Villeneuve made an unexpected comeback to compete with Renault for the final three races of the 2004 championship. "It is a bit surprising but I am actually in better shape now than before driving for Renault," Jacques continued, "perhaps thanks to motocross or just because I began my training - but in any case, it's encouraging."
Administrators say Donington GP possible in 2011 (GMM) The operator of the Donington Park circuit has been placed into administration, but a grand prix at the British circuit in 2011 is not being ruled out.
The track confirmed reports on Wednesday that leaseholder Donington Ventures Leisure Limited, having failed in its bid to organise a formula one race for next year, will now be managed by administrators.
But Nigel Price, of the Birmingham office of corporate recovery specialists Begbies Traynor, said: This need not be the end of formula one racing at Donington."
Work to refurbish the Leicestershire circuit, which is currently unusable, had already begun before the grand prix deal collapsed.
"We are certainly hopeful that a 2011 grand prix could take place at the site.
"We are looking for a purchaser for the business and the potential opportunity to bring formula one to this part of the Midlands by funding the work that needs to be carried out to the circuit," Price added.
The Raikobutton saga...we make the callUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's McLaren announcement.
11/18/09UPDATE #4 Jenson Button will reportedly be unveiled as a McLaren driver within the next forty-eight hours - and possibly as early as later today. The World Champion has signed a £6million a year deal with the Woking team, according to reports in The Daily Mail.
The newspaper says that Button has agreed a salary paying less than half that of his new teammate Lewis Hamilton after Mercedes made it clear that he was not wanted at Brawn GP following the manufacturer's takeover of the team, with the new owners believed to want an all-German driving team for 2010.
This comes despite Mercedes honcho Norbert Haug insisting on Tuesday that: "We want to have the best ones and we definitely do not want to have the pure German team." The Mail has dismissed Haug's remarks as 'lip service'.
While neither McLaren nor Button have commented on the story, it follows fevered speculation that the World Champion is set to leave Brawn just a month after winning the title with them.
The Guardian reported on Tuesday that Button had agreed to a three-year, six million a year deal with Woking-based team.
11/17/09 It looks like AR1 made the call on this one a week ago, with persistent and reliable rumors that Button has signed a deal with McLaren. Now we have this rumor of Kimi's manager stating that he will not be racing this year.
Kimi Raikkonen will not be in Formula 1 in 2010. Steve Robertson, one of his management, told the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat on Tuesday that negotiations for a drive with McLaren were over.
Raikkonen may try to come back again in 2011 when there will be other drives available, possibly at Red Bull Racing. Robertson told the newspaper that Raikkonen will do some rallying next year and may race in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The news could be interpreted as confirmation that Jenson Button has a deal with McLaren, but it is hard to imagine that Brawn would be happy with Nick Heidfeld and Nico Rosberg, neither of whom has won a race. It still makes so much more sense for Button to stay at Brawn and Heidfeld join Hamilton at McLaren.
Mercedes has just splashed out to buy a top Formula 1 team and it is hard to imagine that it will allow the World Champion to walk away over a few million dollars. In part from Grandprix.com
11/14/09 (GMM) McLaren has confirmed AutoRacing1.com's reports revealing that Jenson Button visited the Woking based team's headquarters on Friday.
The 2009 world champion-elect had just touched down in Heathrow after a post-season holiday in Japan when he made "a small detour to Woking to say hello", a McLaren spokesman said.
The Guardian newspaper said his manager Richard Goddard was also given a tour of the factory by team boss Martin Whitmarsh.
Briton Button, 29, is considering lining up alongside 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton next year, with his current employer Brawn not willing to substantially increase his retainer.
Goddard was quoted by the Telegraph newspaper as scoffing at Ross Brawn's proposal that Button be given more freedom to negotiate personal sponsorships rather than more money.
BAM plans to run Toyota's BAM Racing owner Beth Ann Morgenthau came on Race Talk Radio Monday night, announcing their #49 car will run full-time in 2010 under the Toyota Camry banner. With sponsorship from Warner Records, the team is expected to return to full-time competition, running all 36 races for the first time since the 2007 Cup Series season. Driver and crew chief announcements will come at a later date, but regardless the team will have its own show on RTR every Wednesday night next season. RTR
Francis to move to Penske According to AutoRacing1.com sources, rumor has it that Richard Petty Motorsports team director Kenny Francis, will move to Penske Racing to replace Pat Tryson on the No. 2 Car.
Di Montezemolo to step down as FOTA President Luca di Montezemolo, President of Ferrari, declared to 'Autosprint' that he is likely to step down from his role as President of the Formula One Teams' Association, FOTA, at the end of 2009. Di Montezemolo, who took on the role in July 2008 when the organization was formed, wants to step down to focus on his role with Ferrari and FIAT.
Di Montezemolo said to the magazine: "I took up the president role because I felt it was good to have teams competing on the track, and talking out of it like sports professionals. This is what we did. However, I have another job and I can't do everything. So, I really think that I will step down at the end of the year."
Sterling Marlin....retiring Sterling Marlin plans to enter Sunday's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway then, after over 30 years of life in the fast lane, will "probably" hang up his helmet. "Will I miss it? Yeah, in some ways," said Marlin, 52, who raced his way out of the Carter's Creek tobacco fields and into international fame with back-to-back Daytona 500 victories in '94 and '95. "But in some ways I'll kinda be glad when it's over. The sport has changed. It's not much fun any more." Racin' Today
(GMM) Lucas di Grassi rates his chances of securing a deal to make his formula one debut with Manor in 2010.
The new British team on Tuesday named Timo Glock as the "lead" driver.
"My chances of landing a deal with team Manor are good," Brazilian di Grassi, this week preparing for the forthcoming Granja Viana kart race near Sao Paulo, is quoted as saying by a Xinhua news agency report.
"They have a couple of guys they are looking at for next year, and I am one of them," the 25-year-old added.
The Xinhua report added that di Grassi expects an answer from Manor next week.
The GP2 regular completed the 2009 season as Renault's reserve driver.
Glock '100 per cent' likely to be on 2010 grid?UPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with this announcement today.
11/12/09 (GMM) Manor has moved into the frame to sign Timo Glock for 2010. In the Abu Dhabi paddock earlier this month, it seemed the Toyota driver would almost certainly be switching to Renault to become Robert Kubica's teammate.
But with Renault now considering its future, which has held up announcements regarding 27-year-old Glock as well as the identity of Red Bull's engine supplier, German Glock is eying his other options for the 2010 season.
Manor will almost certainly be strongly backed by British billionaire Sir Richard Branson and even renamed 'Virgin F1' for 2010, and Auto Motor und Sport reports that Glock is at the top of the list to be in the cockpit.
"We are still in serious negotiations with three teams," his manager Hans Bernd Kamps said, "and Manor is one of them.
"We are approaching the finish and expect a decision at the beginning of next week," he added.
The German magazine said Glock's teammate would likely be a pay-driver, such as the Brazilian Lucas di Grassi or Irishman Adam Carroll.
Toyota would sell 2010 car design - reportUPDATE #2 (GMM) Toyota turned down an approach from one of F1's new teams to sell the rights to its car design.
It was reported last week that the completed TF110 was for sale, but an official of the Japanese outfit declined to comment.
The Swiss publication Blick reports that a new team made an approach about buying Toyota's 2009 single seater, but the "enquiry was rejected".
Blick speculated that the identity of the enquiring team may have been Lotus.
11/13/09 (GMM) Toyota on Friday declined to comment on reports that the design of its completed F1 car for 2010 is for sale.
A report in the French newspaper Le Parisien this week said the TF110 could be bought by one of the sport's remaining teams, following the Toyota Motor Corporation's decision to quit formula one immediately.
But when asked by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport to comment, a Toyota official in Japan declined.
The spokesman was more forthcoming about the future of Kamui Kobayashi, the Toyota backed rookie who looked likely to step up to a full race seat until the team's withdrawal was announced.
Toyota said the Japanese will remain under contract in its young driver program, but will be released if he finds an alternative F1 race seat.
Teams said no to offer of more F1 income (GMM) F1 teams turned down the opportunity of a 10 per cent commercial income pay-rise because it would have meant committing to the sport for the next three years.
A report in the Financial Times said that F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, concerned after the departures of carmakers Honda, BMW and Toyota, offered to increase the teams' 50 per cent share of the sport's profits in return for their signatures on a new document.
The agreement, separate to the commitments of the Concorde Agreement, would have bound the teams' actual owners - rather than merely the separate teams that can be liquidated - to F1 until the end of 2012.
F1's carmaker exodus leaves Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Renault as the only manufacturers on the grid.
Ecclestone was thought to have been looking into whether Toyota could be pursued for breaking the Concorde Agreement, but when asked if he could stop others from leaving, answered: "You can't."
"The manufacturers won't commit," he said, adding that they "don't know what they're going to do next week" and don't want to allocate in advance the necessary money.
Button/McLaren deal set to be signedUPDATE #7 (GMM) 2009 world champion Jenson Button appears poised to leave Brawn GP, which has been bought and renamed by Mercedes, and join McLaren for the 2010 season.
Button being frozen out by the very team he won title with
The Guardian newspaper said a three-year, 18m pounds sterling (in total) contract is set to be signed by the 29-year-old Briton, at the end of a protracted salary-increase standoff with Brawn management.
The Daily Mail said the deal could be completed before the end of the week.
"The one thing we don't want is Jenson left in limbo," said Button's manager, Richard Goddard.
Brawn chief executive Nick Fry hinted at the outcome in conversation with BBC radio on Monday.
"We've had discussions with Jenson which we think are (about) a sensible salary and you know this (the Mercedes buyout) is not going to change anything in that respect," he said.
"I hope Jenson is still with us next season. But we have to recognize that formula one is not divorced from the rest of the world.
"The reason we survived as a team was that we operated in a sensible way, within our means," Fry said.
Heidfeld to McLaren or BrawnUPDATE #3 (GMM) Norbert Haug has confirmed that talks with Nick Heidfeld about a formula one seat for 2010 are taking place.
It has been reported that, despite Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button actually visiting McLaren's Woking headquarters in recent days, the 32-year-old German is also in the running to take Heikki Kovalainen's place.
"We are speaking with Nick Heidfeld as well," Haug, Mercedes' competition director, told the German news agency DPA.
"Mercedes-Benz supports the idea of signing an experienced and capable German driver. There is however no reason to finalize the driver situation too hastily," he added.
It is also rumored that Mercedes may be interested in assigning Heidfeld to Brawn, amid expectations a major collaboration is to be announced this week.
Heidfeld wrote on his official website nickheidfeld.com that he is not worried about his future after not being able to achieve high profile results with BMW-Sauber in 2009.
"Fortunately, the people who run the teams can see beyond that," he said. "So all in all, I'm quite optimistic about the future."
Nico Rosberg is understood to have already inked a contract for 2010, raising suggestions that Jenson Button is being pushed out by Brawn in favor of a German 'super team'.
11/06/09 The ongoing discrepancy between Kimi Raikkonen’s wage demands and the salary that his most likely F1 2010 employer McLaren-Mercedes is willing to pay him could force the Woking-based outfit to look to out-of-work BMW-Sauber refugee Nick Heidfeld instead – as it emerged that the Finn might do better financially by taking a year off.
Following the official announcement that he was being released by Ferrari to make way for fellow F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso next season, Raikkonen was linked with a number of teams, from Renault to Red Bull and Toyota to McLaren.
However, whilst the 2007 title-winner wasted little time in making clear that only the latter option was of interest to him [see separate story – click here] – having competed for the Silver Arrows for five years from 2002 to 2006, triumphing nine times along the way and arguably being unlucky to miss out on title glory in 2003 and 2005 – it soon became apparent that there was, and remains, quite a gap between his own valuation of his financial worth and McLaren’s estimation.
Due to having been forced to terminate Raikkonen’s contract a year ahead of schedule, Ferrari promised to pay the 18-time grand prix-winner €17 million if he does not compete in F1 in 2010, or €10m if he does. To that end, Germany magazine Auto Motor und Sport reports that McLaren is offering a deal of just €5 million, reasoning that his total would thereby be a more than acceptable €15 million – but the 30-year-old’s management team of Steve and David Robertson is said to be unwilling to budge on its demands, as well as the stipulation that Raikkonen has to attend fewer sponsor days than would be the norm.
Trulli to NASCAR?UPDATE With the Lotus team announcing that they have signed their first driver and an official announcement coming very soon, thoughts turn to Jarno Trulli, who now finds himself out of a drive for 2010 after the Panasonic Toyota Racing tram opted to close their doors on the pinnacle of Motorsport.
However, on the same day that the team announces the arrival of that undisclosed driver, Trulli, who was thought to be in the hot seat for a drive with the Malaysian team, was busy in America at a NASCAR event in Phoenix with Michael Waltrip Racing ahead of his first official test in the series next week. While the Italian racer has openly admitted that there are several opportunities to remain in the pinnacle of Motorsport next season and that next week’s test is just for fun, he did reveal in an interview to Autosport that he would like to keep the door open to the possibility of racing in NASCAR alongside his former F1 colleague, Juan Pablo Montoya.
According to Trulli, Montoya’s defection to the US based series several years ago has highlighted the series and with no real ties to keep him in Europe, a move to America is a real possibility, especially after seeing the huge following and professional atmosphere that goes along with the NASCAR championship.
“It’s just a question that I don't know if I want to do it,” he said. “That's why I'm extremely interested in testing this car, to get an idea of what [it] is [like] driving these cars."
Chrysler unlikely to survive, McCain calls Obama a Socialist
Senator John McCain, the race Grand Marshall, chats with media at Phoenix International Raceway, calling President Obama a Socialist
Christian Peterson/Getty Images
Arizona Sen. John McCain said Sunday that Chrysler Group LLC is unlikely to survive, despite receiving nearly $15 billion in government loans.
McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, reiterated his opposition to the $80 billion auto industry bailout begun by President George W. Bush last December.
"No, I don't think we ever should have bailed out Chrysler and General Motors," McCain said in Arizona, where he was serving as grand marshal of at the NASCAR Sprint Cup series race at the Phoenix International Raceway. "We should have let them go into bankruptcy, emerge and become viable corporations again."
Labonte expected back in #71UPDATE Bobby Labonte has signed a one-year contract to drive TRG Motorsports' car in 2010 -- and at least for the season-opening Daytona 500 he'll have a teammate in TRG's hoped-for full-time second car. On Saturday morning at Phoenix International Raceway, TRG owner Kevin Buckler and Labonte announced the deal and a 12-race primary sponsorship with TaxSlayer.com, a provider of online tax preparation software, that Buckler hopes will be the first of several.
One of the biggest short-term decisions TRG must make is which car manufacturer to align itself. Buckler said he hopes to have that decision made right after Homestead. "We're talking to several manufacturers right now, we're in the middle of some strong negotiations with them, and as usual we have to do what's best for the team," Buckler said. "I tend to be very, very loyal about stuff, maybe too much so; but I've got a lot of partners and other people to consider here, and our final decision needs to be based on what's best for TRG Motorsports." NASCAR.com
11/14/09 Bobby Labonte is expected to remain driver of the #71 TRG Motorsports Chevy in 2010. An announcement is expected to take place Saturday morning around 11:00am at Phoenix International Raceway. FoxSports
Robby Gordon down to 8 races in 2010? Robby Gordon, who has run a full Sprint Cup schedule as a driver/owner since 2006 and before that was full time with RCR in the #31 car since mid 2001, says he has enough sponsorship for only eight races in 2010. "I'm looking at a lot of weekends off,'' a frustrated Gordon said Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. Gordon said he has two four-race commitments from sponsors for next season. One of his major sponsors, Jim Beam, announced earlier in the year that it would not return to the sport. "Nobody is spending money,'' Gordon said. "Everybody is cutting the fat out of everything. To be in racing you have to be a pretty big company.'' Gordon said many of the larger teams are making deals for well less than the market value because they can afford to, but that runs teams like his out of business. "It's sponsorship suicide,'' said Gordon, who is 34th in points. Gordon said NASCAR needs to create a unified marketing plan so every team is on a level playing field. He said there are so many different plans now that sponsors are confused. He expects to see more start-and-park teams next season than ever, adding he doesn't plan to be one. "I don't know what we're going to do,'' Gordon said. "We're going to continue to work hard to sell races through March of next year. After that I'm looking at a lot of weekends off.'' ESPN
Danica being courted by Earnhardt Jr.UPDATE #3 Dale Earnhardt Jr. says a deal to put Danica Patrick in his Nationwide Series car isn't imminent, and even if it were, JR Motorsports wouldn't necessarily have the funding for the IndyCar Series' most popular driver. Multiple media outlets have reported in recent weeks that Patrick was on the verge of signing with JRM for a part-time Nationwide schedule next season while continuing to run the Indy Racing League. Patrick and JRM share a sponsor in GoDaddy.com, but Earnhardt says it doesn't make the deal a cinch. "We've had a relationship with GoDaddy, so that makes us look like a nice fit, but they're moving (next year), so we don't really have it anymore," Earnhardt said after Sprint Cup practice Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. "We're having to search around." JRM's #88 Chevy currently driven by Brad Keselowski is sponsored by GoDaddy.com, but the company will move to Cup next year to back the #5 Chevy of Mark Martin at Hendrick Motorsports, which has an alliance with JRM. Earnhardt says JRM has only "three-quarters to half a season" of sponsors for the #88 in 2010. Earnhardt says the lack of funding is what's driving JRM's interest in Patrick, who also has been pursued by Roush Fenway Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing. Patrick also has met with Joe Gibbs Racing and Richard Childress Racing, and Earnhardt says he's talked to her along with Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick. Patrick lives in the Phoenix area, but offseason sponsor commitments are expected to keep her from attending Sunday's Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500. "She's very interested in trying NASCAR, and a lot of people weren't sure whether she was serious or not, but she is serious," Earnhardt said. "There's a lot to learn there for her. She's got to get in the cars. She's got a lot of (stuff) to do before she ever takes the green flag for anything. But she's talked to a lot of people. I've spoken with her a couple of times just about the lifestyle and the difference in the series vs. what she does now." Besides GoDaddy, Patrick has sponsorship ties to Motorola's Boost Mobile brand and Tissot. Earnhardt believes she might be able to bring those companies to NASCAR, though without some TV advertising campaigns that could be considered risqué. USA Today
10/21/09 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. ESPN.com has confirmed that IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick is talking with JR Motorsports and Michael Waltrip Racing about running a limited schedule of about eight Nationwide Series races -- plus a few Truck and maybe ARCA events -- in 2010. Kevin Harvick Inc. could be a player. But sources say those aren't the only options as Patrick begins preparing for a potential NASCAR career after her IndyCar career is over. More at ESPN Insiders
10/04/09 The two most popular drivers in auto racing -- Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. -- may soon be involved in a limited NASCAR arrangement, NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick confirmed to SI.com.
The other side of the Patrick puzzle may soon fall into place as Hendrick said Sunday afternoon that Patrick's agent at IMG has met with the team about a limited schedule of ARCA and NASCAR Nationwide Series races to go along with the IndyCar Series contract she signed to remain at Andretti Green Racing.
According to Hendrick, the plan would be to put Patrick in the JR Motorsports team that is owned by Hendrick driver Earnhardt, Jr. with sponsorship from GoDaddy.com.
"We have no deal but she has spoke with Kelley Earnhardt [Dale Jr's sister who handles that teams business affairs] about a limited number of NASCAR races in that car," Hendrick told SI.com. "I have had some conversation and Kelley Earnhardt has had some conversation with that but Kelly is heading that up.
2010 Atlantic Series due out today Word is that the 2010 Atlantic Series schedule will be released today. We hear 12 to 13 races will be listed. We also hear that things are looking up for the series with 16 to 18 cars expected on the grid, up from 2009 where 10 to 12 cars was the norm. We hear that Cooper Tires, Mazda, and Cosworth will all be back.
Long-time Atlantic Series boss Vikki O'Connor spent the past year bringing John Brunner, VP of Operations up to speed on running the day-to-day operations with the goal for Vikki to take a step back and enjoy life a bit more after 25 years at the helm. As we understand it Vikki will be retained as a series consultant.
Possible sellout for Phoenix Phoenix Int'l Raceway President Bryan Sperber said that he expects "pretty close to a capacity crowd" for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil, the penultimate race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. When asked if the fact that Jimmie Johnson's lead in the Chase is down to 73 has helped ticket sales, Sperber said, "I think it did. We've seen some really great sales volume. … The fans are responding" ARIZONA REPUBLIC
Santander to pay for Raikkonen transfer to McLarenUPDATE #3 This is getting pretty interesting now - Button or Raikkonen at McLaren. The likelihood of a return to McLaren for Kimi Raikkonen has stepped up a gear this week.
It is reported by ITV as well as the Evening Standard that the former Ferrari driver's managers met in recent days with McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh at the team's Woking headquarters.
The news is likely a blow to Jenson Button, because his negotiations for a bigger retainer at the Brawn team for 2009 were bolstered by McLaren's apparent interest in the new world champion.
Raikkonen, managed by father and son duo David and Steve Robertson, has also been at odds over money with his desired team for 2010.
"I've been racing for nine years in formula one now," the 30-year-old Finn wrote in his final blog for Ferrari.
"I still want to win races and titles, but I'll only stay in F1 if I can find a team that can guarantee me a car I can use to fight for victory.
"Let's see what will happen in the upcoming weeks," he added.
10/26/09 Apparently, Kimi's move to McLaren is not a sure thing, unless he can convince them that he wants to win, and not just get a fat paycheck. Kimi's motivation has been in question more than once in recent years. This was echoed in a masked stealthy statement by Mercedes-Benz’s head of motorsport Norbert Haug, who has given the clearest indication yet that McLaren is still looking for a second driver for 2010. Haug’s remarks, to Autosport magazine, are a big surprise as it was thought that Kimi Raikkonen had the drive and would not have left Ferrari without a solid contract for the future. Raikkonen will be paid in 2010 by Ferrari but he and his management appear to be rather greedy and want a lot of money as well as the Ferrari pay-off. It is clear from Haug’s remarks that the Finn is dreaming if he thinks he can dictate terms.
“Kimi is an option,” Haug said, “but there are lots of options around. One thing is for sure, though – guys who are out for money are not the right ones for us, whoever it may be. I won’t name anyone, but we want to have full commitment from someone who is success-oriented and not someone who is saying, ‘I am a big name, pay me a lot of money and I will drive for you’. The team has to be convinced that a driver is hungry, motivated, focused and that his first thought is not to get more money. We have shown our level of competitiveness – Lewis has scored race wins and podiums and beaten the guys that have been going for the title this year. It shows that we are going in the right direction; we have stabilized this year and we have a seat to offer in a race-winning car – there are probably three, four or five teams, maximum, that can offer that.”
The message in this is very simple. Raikkonen can forget it unless he is willing to bring down his price. The Finn has had a similar response from Toyota and if he and his management are not careful they may end up without any decent option for 2010. It is amazing that Kimi agreed to leave a solid contract at Ferrari and put himself on the market without a deal in his pocket. This will inevitably be interpreted as a further sign that Raikkonen does not really care about F1 and is simply cashing in – whether that is true or not. 10/08/09 McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh said the Finn would be a good fit at the team if they "choose to go down that route."
"The answer is simple. We have not determined a driver line-up yet and we haven't set a timetable for doing so," he told the official F1 website. "We now have clarity about Ferrari's drivers and we know now that other drivers are available.
"We try and give Heikki every opportunity to do a good job, Heikki is a very committed driver and a lovely chap, and we would like him to get some good results over the rest of the season. We are focusing on that and are not announcing a driver line-up for the moment.
"We have not made a decision on timing. We will continue to review the situation and, once we know, we will announce it."
The odds are hedging in Raikkonen's favor, though, as Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug has said he would welcome the Finn back at McLaren. Haug added that he's confident McLaren could handle having two star drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Raikkonen, on the payroll.
This is a sentiment backed up by Whitmarsh, who reckons Raikkonen would be a good fit at McLaren, especially given his future desire to beat Ferrari.
"Kimi is a fantastic driver, and I like him and know him well. He was with the team for five years," Whitmarsh said.
"He is quick, he is committed and I think he probably would be very committed to beating Ferrari in the future - knowing him.
"All these are attractive things with Kimi. He is not political. He is absolutely straightforward - what you see is what you get with Kimi. And on top of that everyone knows that he is a winning driver.
"I think he has been underestimated technically. He is a very good racing driver and I think he would fit well in this team, if we choose to go down that route."
Major layoffs for RPM, Engine shop to shut downUPDATE #2 The dominos continue to fall at Richard Petty Motorsports. When Keith Barnwell was released on Tuesday, that left #44-A.J. Allmendinger sans spotter. On Thursday, the decision was made to reunite Allmendinger with former spotter Tony Hirschmann, who had been reassigned to #43-Reed Sorenson in the crew chief swap. Sorenson's crew chief Sammy Johns will spot for him this weekend. Kevin Buskirk, who was #19-Elliott Sadler's crew chief earlier this season, is expected to make the calls on the #43 pit box. Pete Rondeau, who served as the director of research and development at RPM since July 2005, was also released on Tuesday. The former crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he's ready to become a road warrior again and is interested in any upcoming crew chief openings. FoxSports
11/10/09 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. The NASCAR workforce shrunk by 47 people on Monday as Richard Petty Motorsports took the first steps toward shutting down its engine department in Concord, NC. RPM is making reductions in its staff with the impending merger with Yates Racing. Additional cuts are expected in the car shop in Statesville, N.C. on Tuesday. Sources said on Sunday that the three remaining teams expected to join forces with Yates will retain 17 crewmen per team. But given the move to Ford which started at Talladega with #19-Elliott Sadler on Oct. 30th and continued this past weekend with #44-AJ Allmendinger at Texas, there's no need to continue building new Dodge cars or engines. The engine department will continue to employ 14 employees through the end of the season to assist in the organization for the final two races. Roush Yates Engines will supply powerplants for the team in 2010. FoxSports
11/09/09 What's left of the original Evernham Motorsports engine shop is expected to shut down on Monday, according to multiple sources. Richard Petty Motorsports will retain the necessary personnel to complete the final two races of the season when engine duties will revert to Roush Yates engines with the move to Ford. With the merger of RPM and Yates Racing, the Petty crew chiefs were told that each team would be able to keep 17 crewmen per team. The overall reduction for the organization is expected to be 200 of 250 employees once the deal is complete. FoxSports
Will two races be added to F1 calendar?UPDATE #2 FIA Senate President Nick Craw is optimistic Formula 1 could return to the United States to organize a Formula 1 race. A race at a permanent circuit is unlikely though but according to Craw there are two or three major cities that are trying to organize a Formula 1 race at a temporary street circuit.
When asked on Speed TV whether or not Formula 1 is going to return to the US Craw said: "I think everybody from the commercial rights holders to the teams and sponsors see the absence of a US Grand Prix being a huge liability. There is only one circuit in the United States that has a license to organize such a race which is Indianapolis and there is probably no deal coming in the near future with them.
"If you've seen some of the Taj Mahal's being build for the F1 circuits these days I don't see any budget for that in the United States so I think it is more likely that we will see a temporary street circuit in or around a major metropolitan area and there are two or three right now that are looking at that possibility. I am reasonably optimistic that that could happen in the near future."
11/09/09 We are hearing that the two races added to the F1 schedule to bring it back up to 20 races will be the USA and England.
11/09/09 The discussions over the British Grand Prix remain stuck at the moment with Silverstone having put what it says is its best possible offer to the Formula One group and Bernie Ecclestone saying that the circuit should sign the deal that he wants, which would cost the track more money. The two parties are both trying to position things so as to avoid being blamed should be the negotiations fail. There is nonetheless pressure on Ecclestone from the motorsport industry for a British GP, which is considered to be important for the industry. The British government (or at least the existing British government, as there must be a General Election before June 3 2010) is not interested in helping out. The Labour Party has long avoided being too closely linked with Ecclestone after the 1997 scandal over a donation to the party.
Brawn's counter offer to Button... With Champions Brawn GP and Jenson Button still yet to come to a deal ahead of their season of title defense in 2010, Team Principal Ross Brawn has suggested that the Brackley outfit may offer its driver 'more freedom' for sponsorship deals as opposed to the pay rise the Frome man seeks.
With Button, who took a pay cut of £5m to £3m for this season - making him the lowest-paid Champion of the decade - now believed to be searching for a salary of £6m or higher for next season, it seems that the team may not agree in this area but instead suggest that the Englishman can have the right to recruit his own personal sponsors. "We can offer a higher proportion of driver freedom and that will probably be the route we will go," Brawn told The Guardian on Wednesday. "Jenson (currently) has some freedom for his own endorsements but has a commitment to meet our obligations."
With 2009 team-mate Rubens Barrichello already signed up with Williams for next year, the likelihood is that Germany's Nico Rosberg may effectively swap with the Paulista to become Button's team-mate for the upcoming campaign. GPUdate.net
Acura to sign with JAS Team? There may be an Acura next season in the European Le Mans Series, and rumor has it that Acura will sign with the Italian JAS Team. Team boss Alessandro Mariani said, "the Acura prototype is still in Japan but I hope to bring into our shop soon and then debut in the Le Mans Series."
Peugeot to snatch ALMS Acura team According to the latest rumors, the Peugeot is looking to team up with an existing LMP1 team in ALMS, Highcroft or de Ferran, to deploy a 908 HDI in the ALMS next season. Peugeot abruptly ended their relationship with Pescarolo in the European LeMans Series.
Chassis diversity for IRL in 2012 Indy Racing League President of Competition Brian Barnhart says that the current exclusive chassis arrangement Italian constructor Dallara holds in the IndyCar Series could end when the new engine and chassis rules come into effect, which he says is still “most likely” to happen in 2012. racer.com
Cosworth switch an option for Red BullUPDATE (GMM) Sebastian Vettel this week has given another sign that Red Bull is staying with Renault power for the 2010 season.
McLaren, Mercedes' exclusive F1 partner, vetoed Red Bull's desired switch to the German marque's engines, and it is believed that moving to Cosworth was ruled out due to question marks about the returning British supplier's 2.4 liter V8.
It is believed that an internal deadline at Red Bull Racing simply came and went without a decision, moving Adrian Newey to progress with work on the 2010 car on the basis of the current Renault specification.
Team driver Vettel was asked by spox.com if he wanted to be powered next year by the Mercedes engine, which is regarded as the best currently in F1.
"It is obvious that the Mercedes engine was an important piece of the success of Brawn," the German answered.
"As a team, and myself as a driver, we want the best possible package. That will be possible next season with different engines, including the Renault," added Vettel.
Valentino Rossi has warned Yamaha that it must choose between him and Jorge Lorenzo in 2011 – and that he is willing to leave for Ducati if the Spaniard is retained. The MotoGP champion had already hinted that he was unhappy that Yamaha was trying to balance two number one riders, and although rumors of a 2010 team switch have been dismissed, Rossi has now confirmed that he has a Ducati offer on the table and that he will accept if Yamaha chooses Lorenzo over him.
When asked by BBC Sport if he still wanted to finish his career with Yamaha, Rossi replied: "I'm not 100 percent sure, it depends what happens next year. It depends on my performance, and the decision of Yamaha for 2011. I think Yamaha has to decide between me and Jorge for 2011."
Ricciardo for Red Bull reserve seat? British Formula 3 Champion Daniel Ricciardo will drive a Formula One car for the first time during a test with Red Bull Racing next month, the team has confirmed to GPUpdate.net. The Australian, who succeeded in Britain with the Carlin team, will be driving the 2009 runner-up RB5 at Jerez. Having been granted a full F1 Superlicence as a reward for becoming British F3 Champion, Australian Ricciardo - who succeeded Toro Ross's Jaime Alguersuari as the title holder - will not only be testing as a examination for himself but indeed helping Red Bull with development work, as the new-for-2009 testing ban prevents regular pilots Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber from being able to step into the cockpits again until February.
Born in Perth, Ricciardo celebrated his 20th birthday on 1 July this year and successfully controlled proceedings throughout the season's BF3 championship; taking the title by an eventual margin of 87 points from his closest challenger, Daniel drove to 7 race wins from 20 starts, generating a win ratio of 35%. gpudate.net
Earnhardt Ganassi to Toyota?UPDATE Toyota and Richard Childress, who is part of the joint venture which currently supplies Chevrolet engines to Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, gave co-team owner Chip Ganassi an ultimatum for a decision on manufacturers next year. Following several early morning meetings at Texas Motor Speedway, EGR opted to stay with Chevrolet. Ganassi spoke with General Motors Racing manager Mark Kent in a closed-door meeting inside the #1 team's transporter Sunday morning at Texas Motor Speedway and Alba Colon, GM Racing's Chevrolet program manager, camped out in front of the hauler for part of the morning. He also met with Toyota senior manager Andy Graves before making his decision. When asked for a comment after his meetings, Ganassi said "It's nobody's business." FoxSports
11/03/09 So, what's the holdup in EGR's decision to remain with Chevy or move to Toyota? Perhaps it's the "E" in EGR. Can anyone really imagine the Earnhardt name associated with Toyota? Since Teresa Earnhardt is not at the racetrack on a weekly basis, that might be a tough answer to get. And with the current General Motors situation, Chevy is in no position to offer EGR a new and improved deal. Maybe Chip Ganassi believes delaying the decision will prevent the current engine builders from sabotaging the cars? But since Ganassi didn't want to answer the question of manufacturers on Sunday, what do we know? Richard Childress Racing's engine department, which supplies motors for EGR, was expecting a call on Friday from the Ganassi camp regarding their status for next season. It never came. Principals at EGR are expected to meet with Toyota again on Tuesday. EGR has had discussions with Joe Gibbs Racing about supplying engines for next season. Apparently Toyota Racing Development, which provides Michael Waltrip Racing and Red Bull Racing with engines, does not have the capacity at this time to be a supplier for EGR. FoxSports
Izod could terminate IndyCar contract early Sources familiar with the IZOD IndyCar title sponsorship deal announced Thursday said if certain metrics concerning number of races held annually, TV ratings, attendance and car count among other things aren’t met, there are triggers in the contract that will allow Izod to decrease its financial pay-out or opt out of the contract all together.
So now the real work begins. And from the looks of the piles of leftover Izod-IndyCar Series apparel at Carson Pirie Scott in downtown Indy this week—long-sleeve shirts marked down from $60 to less than $5—I’d say both sides have their work cut out for them. IBJ.com
TransAm staging a comeback? Road America officials won't comment on the details of their "TBA" weekend, but it appears the revived Trans-Am Series will be the headliner.
According to a schedule announcement Tuesday from the F2000 Championship Series, that open-wheel steppingstone division will race a doubleheader Aug. 6-8 at Road America in conjunction with Trans-Am. Given that, it's likely the weekend would be filled out by a variety of series involving advanced amateur and low-level professional drivers.
A product of the pony car era, Trans-Am peaked in the late 1960s and early '70s with such drivers as Mark Donohue and Parnelli Jones. It continued in good health well into the '90s but petered out and ultimately went dormant in 2007 and '08.
Trans-Am raced at Road America this fall as a precursor to the SCCA National Championship Runoffs. JSOnline
McLaren losing Mercedes?UPDATE #2 Mercedes motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug has claimed that his company's interest in forging stronger relations with world champion Brawn GP should not have any affect on its long-standing partnership with McLaren.
Mercedes stepped in to provide engines for the Brawn effort at the last minute, following the team's winter resurrection from the ashes of Honda, and was rewarded with eight race wins and both world titles. Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello showed the rest of the field a clean pair of heels for the first few races and consolidated after that, with the Briton claiming the drivers' crown and his team-mate third overall.
The success, and speculation about Brawn's financial situation, led to suggestions that Mercedes would seek to increase its investment - with the rumor mill the claiming that the German giant would look to back out of its deal with McLaren, despite holding a 40 per cent stake in the Woking operation. The ménage a trois is also thought to have scuppered Red Bull Racing's chances of running Mercedes engines in 2010, with McLaren apparently vetoing the move. Force India, which enjoyed something of a break-out season in 2009, also runs the German powerplants.
Mutoh in 3rd Newman/Haas/Lanigan car At the IZOD press conference IndyCar Series officials conceded it appears likely Danica Patrick will drive selected NASCAR events in 2010 with JR Motorsports. They maintain the exposure will help IndyCar as she has a three-year deal to remain with Michael Andretti's team.
Ryan Hunter-Reay didn't try to stop speculation he is on the verge of signing with Andretti.
Hideki Mutoh and his Formula Dream sponsorship appear to be headed to Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing as a partner to Graham Rahal and Alex Lloyd. IndyStar
IndyCar title sponsor to be announced November 5thUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' based on yesterday's announcement.
11/03/09 The IndyCar Series' choice for a title sponsor -- Izod -- was hailed Monday for what it's not.
It's not an oil company.
It's not a fuel company.
It's not a tire company.
"It's lifestyle, it's trendy, it's fashion, and as you go down the list it's about as good as you could get," said Zak Brown, who owns and leads Zionsville-based Just Marketing, which sells sports sponsorship packages.
The Izod IndyCar Series will formally be announced Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Financial terms of the deal are not expected to be announced, but Brown said the asking price was $10 million a year for at least five years, a figure that will be divided among the series, its television partners and Izod's advertising and marketing campaigns.
Brown believes having an automotive company as IndyCar's overall sponsor and biggest promoter wouldn't have taken the series beyond its fan base.
Indy Speedway on the block?UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Jeff Belskus hasn't said much publicly since assuming the leadership of Indianapolis Motor Speedway from Tony George in July, but what he said Thursday came through loud and clear.
"The Speedway and the Indy Racing League are not for sale," he said after Izod was confirmed as the new title sponsor of the IndyCar Series. "Absolutely not."
Possible F1 style qualifying for NASCAR Anyone who has watched NASCAR qualifying knows that it can seem like a long drawn out affair; one car at a time, one or two timed laps.
At tracks like Talladega and Daytona, qualifying can actually become something of a snooze fest. The most exciting qualifying of the year usually comes during Speedweeks at Daytona with the duel qualifying races, which come after fans are forced to sit through a traditional qualifying session a few days before.
One idea being to generate excitement is to look at the way Formula One qualifies. Instead of a single car, single run F1 qualifying uses a timed ‘knockout’ system. Here’s how the FIA, Formula One’s sanctioning body list the qualifying procedure.
Q1: All 20 cars may run laps at any time during the first 20 minutes of the hour. At the end of the first 20 minutes, the five slowest cars drop out and fill the final five grid places.
Q2: After a seven-minute break, the times are reset and the 15 remaining cars then run in a 15-minute session - again they may complete as many laps as they want at any time during that period. At the end of the 15 minutes, the five slowest cars drop out and fill places 11 to 15 on the grid.
Toyota may shed 550 F1 staff (GMM) A Toyota staff member has told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport magazine that, following the announcement of the carmaker's withdrawal from formula one, he heard rumors that only 150 employees will remain at Cologne for the next racing project.
About 700 staff currently work on the team's F1 engine and chassis programs in Junkersdorf, in the west of Cologne.
One option for the withdrawing owners of F1 teams is to sell the operation as a going concern, but team president John Howett said on Wednesday that he believes Toyota Motorsport GmbH will instead be scaled down in order to participate in "grassroots motor sport".
Le Mans has been mentioned as a likely alternative.
USF1 looking at Kyle Busch?UPDATE #2 This evening on Florida's SunSports network, a regional network sports channel owned and operated by Brighthouse Communications, Kyle Busch was featured and was interviewed and asked a couple of interesting questions. Though we do not have a transcript of the interview, we will paraphrase his responses here.
Asked about rumors about F1 and the USF1 team, Kyle said that if it were to happen, it would have to happen now. He said that he has talked to Montoya and Scott Speed about it quite a bit, and that if he were to do it, he needs to do it now, because he is still young enough to take the "beating" (his word for it) that an F1 car puts on your body. He said it is a much more difficult kind of racing, and a completely different culture and lifestyle that he would have to adapt to.
He was also asked about one thing he would change about the Sprint Cup Series right now, and he did not even hesitate to say he would completely get rid of the current car. He said that it does not showcase the driver, and that a decent driver with a team that hits the setup is going to run up front.
So basically, he just said that its more about the car than the driver, and that F1 is the top of the sport. Its nice to hear that directly from a NASCAR driver.
We could be wrong, but we would say that despite being a stock car driver, we think Kyle Busch is one of those rare talents that can be fast in anything with a steering wheel, pedals and tires. It would be huge for the USA and F1 to put him in F1. We say give him a test, and if he is close, give him a shot.
Toyota to quit F1, mass exodus of Japanese from F1UPDATE #4 Contrary to what has been given as a decisive reason by Honda, BMW, and Toyota for justifying their departures from Formula One, Ferrari insists that the real cause is not the economic crisis but rather the constant hammering the sport's authorities have dealt car manufacturers.
"In reality the steady trickle of desertion is more the result of a war against the big car manufacturers by those who managed the sport, than the effects of the economy that affected Formula 1 over the last years," a Ferrari statement issued on Wednesday declared.
The Italian team went so far as to compare the situation in F1 to Agatha Christie's famous novel Ten Little Indians.
New Lotus team is looking a bit "Fauzy" Fairuz Fauzy believes he is now practically within touching distance of achieving his lifetime dream of making it to F1 – as he evinces ‘a real possibility’ of joining up with 2010 newcomer Lotus having proven his talent in finishing as 2009 World Series by Renault runner-up.
After clinching the top spot in the superpole qualifying session on his 27th birthday, Fauzy went on to produce a feisty showing in race one at Motorland Aragon in Spain to claim sixth from eighth on the reverse grid, getting the better of Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 ace Jaime Alguersuari along the way. He later took second place to irrepressible newly-crowned champion Bertrand Baguette in race two to secure the best-ever championship finish for a Malaysian single-seater driver at international level, coming out on top in a fraught five-way scrap for the position.
“The race was the perfect end to my season, and I hope that by finishing second in the series, it will allow me to get closer to my dream of driving in F1,” the Mofaz Fortec contender told Malaysian newspaper the New Straits Times. “I had not thought much about the F1 drive, as from the start I’d just wanted keep my focus on this target.
More NASCAR layoffs coming Teams have predicted that the unemployment lines following the season finale at Homestead will exceed the numbers we witnessed following 2008. Under NASCAR's four-car rule, Roush Fenway Racing loses one team under its roof and another across the street at Yates Racing. While employees have been told there will be movement in the ranks with the potential of a Richard Petty Motorsports/Yates merger, in either case a minimum of two teams will dissolve, the #26 and the #44. The #96 Hall of Fame Racing team will no longer use the services of Yates Racing in 2010. However, the #98 team could remain under the Yates banner, and not RPM, in order to keep Paul Menard in the fold. Regardless, the four teams (98, 9, 19 and 43) are expected to operate under one roof. FoxSports
Brawn has primary sponsor for 2010UPDATE It was worried that after their debut season the team would run into financial troubles, but now CEO Nick Fry has spoken out about new sponsorship agreements which will come into effect with next years car.
Fry shared with 'autosport', “We have zero worries on funding for this year, next year, the year after, and the year after that. I smile when people talk about money, because we’ve always had the finances for this year, and neither Ross nor I would not have taken on the team if we did not have the money for this year.
“We've signed some nice contracts, and those will come out into the open when we launch the car next year, but we will see what happens. There is zero worry on our side," he concluded. F1technical.net 10/31/09 (GMM) One of Brawn's tasks for the forthcoming winter period is to announce a primary sponsor for 2010.
"We have got a title sponsor, that will become clear over the winter, and we are looking good in other areas," said team boss Ross Brawn.
The Brackley based outfit's main (albeit minor) sponsor this season has been Virgin, but Sir Richard Branson is taking the brand to the Manor team for next year.
At recent races, Brawn has been supplementing its budget, made up in large part by the contribution made by former owner Honda, with one-off single-race signage deals.
Brawn is confident the team, having won the drivers' and constructors' titles at its first attempt this season, also has a successful future.
"The objective I set with Honda was to be a top-three team every year," he told the Mirror.
"You can't win every year but with the resources, people and drivers we have, we can be a top-three team every season," said Brawn.
Nothing has been signed yet, but Mike Conway has signaled his intention to race in IndyCars once again in 2010.
The Seven Oaks Speedster endured a difficult rookie season. Mechanical gremlins, crashes and his own inexperience meant he finished 17th in the championship. However, there were plenty of positives, not least his brilliant podium in California.
It showed America what the 25-year-old can do and he wants another crack at it.
"It's been a pretty tough season, but I have learned a lot throughout the year and towards the end of the season the results were starting to come," the Dreyer and Reinbold racer said.
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone believes it's only a matter of time before the Formula One calendar is extended to 20 grands prix.
While this year's Championship comprised just 17 races, next year there could be as many as 19 with Canada seeking a return and South Korea gearing up for its debut.
But with more countries wanting a place on the calendar, Ecclestone believes the schedule could be extended to include 20 race weekends in the near future.
"I always said that it is possible and obviously now there are more and more people falling for that idea," he told the official F1 website.
"Nobody needs testing. It was always, in my opinion, that testing costs money while racing brings money. Or let them test on Monday after the race when everybody is at the track, the hotels are paid for and that huge logistical effort is eliminated." SkySports
IndyCar heading to Qingdao, China IndyCar is pondering an entry into China in 2011 to garner Chinese fans.
The info regarding a 2011 street race was posted to Wikpedia The league is exploring a race in Qingdao, China. A 2011 event would be a street race, and move to a proposed 500,000-seat oval for 2012
The 2011 race is also mentioned on Qingdao’s own Wiki page IndyCar Series commercial division president Terry Angstadt has mentioned Qingdao as a possible venue for a second race in Asia after Twin Ring Motegi, Japan. There are plans for a 400,000+ seat purpose-built course to be opened in 2011 or later. Angstadt has suggested that the series may race in a street circuit while the facilities are under construction.
The USAToday quotes IndyCar’s commercial director, Mr. Terry Angstadt, as saying. "The series hopes to have a Chinese driver in that race and has already identified three potential prospects that could soon compete in the developmental Indy Lights series. Under consideration is Qingdao, which hosted the Beijing Olympics sailing."
Formula One currently have a track in Shanghai, and has gained quite a following in China, with CCTV5 televising the race either live or pre-recorded (when they choose to show the national badminton championships instead), an Indy street race would certainly be more exciting for the average viewer should it choose to enter China. China Times
Keselowski in for Stremme at Texas?UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact.' Brad Keselowski will compete for Penske Racing in the final three NASCAR Cup Series races of the 2009 season. Keselowski will drive the No. 12 Penske Dodge in the upcoming races at Texas (Nov. 8), Phoenix (Nov. 15) and Homestead (Nov. 22).
In September, Penske Racing announced that Keselowski would join the team full-time beginning in 2010. The talented 25-year-old native of Rochester Hills, Mich. will drive the No. 12 Penske Dodge in the Cup Series next season and he will also compete for the team in the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge in the 2010 Nationwide Series.
Over the final three Cup Series events of 2009, Keselowski will step in for David Stremme and work with the Penske Dodge team in the car that will become his full-time ride next season.
New driver of #1 announced this week? An announcement on the driver that will replace #1-Martin Truex Jr. could come this week, sources close to the situation said. Jamie McMurray, who is losing his ride at Roush Fenway Racing because the organization has to reach the four-car cap, is one candidate. Bobby Labonte, the 2000 Cup champion, is the other. EGR co-owner Chip Ganassi wants McMurray. Bass Pro Shops, which will sponsor the #1 for 20 races next season, isn't sure he fits the image. More at ESPN Insider
Hulkenberg, Barrichello to race for WilliamsUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.
10/25/09 (GMM) The news remains unofficial, but a well-connected figure on Sunday all but confirmed the composition of Williams' driver line-up for 2010.
The British team heads into this weekend's Abu Dhabi season finale with Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima at the wheel of the FW31s, but Williams looks set for a wholesale change ahead of its next championship campaign.
Rosberg looks likely to head to Brawn, while Kazuki Nakajima is out of favor at Williams due to the forthcoming parting of ways with the Japanese driver's backer Toyota.
Willi Weber, famous in F1 circles for being Michael Schumacher's manager, let the cat out of the bag when speaking to Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper about his new charge, the 22-year-old rookie and current Williams test driver Nico Hulkenberg.
"I think he will be a match for his new teammate (Rubens) Barrichello," Weber said.
Kobayashi possible for 2010 seatUPDATE (GMM) After watching Kamui Kobayashi race to sixth place in Abu Dhabi, Toyota team president John Howett on Sunday said the Japanese rookie had staked a worthy claim to a full-time race seat for 2010.
The Cologne based outfit is set to now part with both Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock, but both of its high-profile targets Robert Kubica and Kimi Raikkonen have turned down Toyota's advances.
Kobayashi, 23, demonstrated on-track flair two weeks ago in Brazil, and he allied that with genuine pace in Abu Dhabi as he again filled in for the injured Glock.
Asked if he was a shoe-in for a 2010 race seat, Howett told reporters: "It looks like it, yes.
"We have to really seriously consider him now after this good strong result," said the Briton, explaining that Kobayashi's chances are as good as 80 per cent.
Howett confessed he had harbored some doubts about Kobayashi, who despite winning the last GP2 Asia championship, has been less impressive in the F1 feeder category's main series.
"I think it's a definite lesson that sometimes we all should be braver in our driver choices and not go for the safer, risk-hedged decision," he said.
Toyota cannot sign any drivers for next season until its 2010 budget is rubber-stamped at an executive board meeting in Tokyo in two weeks.
UAE team coming to IndyCar Even vast amounts of money can't buy the things missing from the imposing new Yas Marina Circuit, Lewis Hamilton remarked before starting his last race as reigning world champion from pole position.
"It's called character, the history of the place" said the Briton, a staunch supporter of Silverstone's efforts to stay on the calendar despite a far less opulent venue and without the support of its government.
"Money can't buy it," the McLaren driver added. "If it is here for many years and they get Abu Dhabi drivers, then maybe it will have it."
However, it emerges that moves are afoot to add those missing elements to the Yas extravaganza, and money is again the recipe, an Arabian Business report revealed.
Millions are being poured into a fund to establish United Arab Emirates (UAE)-centered Indy and MotoGP teams, and to develop local drivers.
Ferrari racing legacy continues Enzo Ferrari Junior, the great grandson of his namesake and the car firm's founder, has gained a motor racing license but is keeping his ambitions in check. "For the moment I have only taken a racing license. A dream is to race the Le Mans 24-Hour," the 21-year-old told Sunday's Gazzetta Sportiva newspaper.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo was also quoted as telling former Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve that he could test a Ferrari GT car as he plots a way back into F1. Yahoo!Extra Sport
British GP deal 'very close'UPDATE #2 Secretary of State for Business Lord Mandelson has urged Silverstone bosses and Bernie Ecclestone to strike a deal to secure the future of the British Grand Prix.
As talks continue between the two sides at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Lord Mandelson stressed the importance of the race as the totem of an industry worth £4billion per year to the British economy.
However, he once again insisted that taxpayers' money would not be used to help broker an agreement with Formula One's commercial rights controller.
Lord Mandelson told BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek program: "The British Grand Prix is a very important event, it's a much loved British institution and it's got to continue.
"The whole of motor sport is important, not because of the enjoyment it provides but because it's really important for our economy.
"It contributes getting up to £4billion to the economy and if you look at the jobs it creates there are 25,000 engineers involved in this sport in Britain, quite apart from 40,000-odd other jobs, so I have a responsibility to retain it and to support the motor sport industry just as I would any other."
The grand prix was thrown into doubt when Donington, which had won a 17-year contract to host the race, missed a deadline to prove it could raise the £135m it needed for circuit upgrades. 10/31/09 (GMM) Damon Hill on Saturday sounded quietly confident that a deal to safeguard the immediate future of the British grand prix is close.
With negotiations apparently deadlocked prior to this weekend, Silverstone managing director Richard Phillips as well as Hill, the president of the track-owning BRDC, travelled to Abu Dhabi for the 2009 season finale.
"I'm not involved in the discussions but I've been keeping abreast of them -- and we're very close, that's all I can say," the 1996 world champion is quoted as saying by the BBC.
Bernie Ecclestone said earlier at the pristine Yas Marina Circuit that he was not interested in negotiating further with Silverstone.
But Hill added: "Ultimately it comes down to a little bit of give on the negotiations and we're nearly there, but until it's done, there's a bit of nervousness that we might not get there."
Arabs may buy Memphis Motorsports Park On Friday, Dover Motorsports, Inc. announced that they were going to shut down the racing facility they own just outside the city of Memphis, Tennessee. Months ago, the facility appeared to be sold to Gulf Coast Entertainment but that group was unable to secure financing.
The facility has enjoyed a decade long relationship with NASCAR. The .75 mile track at the Memphis Motorsports Park began hosting Camping World Truck Series events in 1998 and the Nationwide Series in 1999. There has never been a Sprint Cup Series race at the facility but the track has been used by Sprint Cup teams for testing purposes throughout its history.
Aside from the D-shaped oval track, the facility also contains a ¼ mile drag racing strip which has hosted NHRA events dating back to the 1990s.
Senna set for 2010 Campos seatUPDATE #4 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today - see this Hot News story.
10/29/09 This rumor is upgraded to very 'strong.' Bruno Senna's deal to make his F1 debut next year with the new Spanish team Campos has now been signed, according to reports.
Two weeks ago, the 26-year-old Brazilian denied similar reports in the Spanish press, but admitted that the negotiations were in a "good condition".
The latest reports were published by sections of the Brazilian media, and an unnamed official close to Senna confirmed the news to a reporter of the Associated Press news agency.
Campos-Meta, having openly targeted Senna as well as Pedro de la Rosa, did not comment.
The Brazilian reports also said Rubens Barrichello has definitely signed with Williams, and the British team's boss Sir Frank Williams has confirmed he will announce his drivers for 2010 on Monday.
Lucas di Grassi, Renault's reserve driver and a Sao Paulo native, was mentioned in connection with a race seat for the French team, but it is believed Timo Glock is actually closer to a deal.
10/20/09 A senior official at Renault has stated that the team is in talks with Bruno Senna about testing him for the Renault seat soon. Recently confirming Robert Kubica for 2010, they are still seeking a second driver for next season.
Apparently the deal with Campos is not yet complete, or someone forgot to tell Renault. Maybe someone should be reading our Rumors page...we are returning this rumor to speculation for now...
10/18/09 In Sao Paulo Bruno Senna declared that the agreement with the new team of Adrian Campos is now done. Senna, the 2008 GP2 Series vice-champion, this year raced in the Le Mans Series. The Spanish Campos team will use a car built by Dallara.
10/09/09 (GMM) Bruno Senna may now have signed a deal to make his formula one debut with the new Spanish team Campos in 2010, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
The Brazilian, whose uncle Ayrton won the world championship three times, is said to carry a double-digit million euro sum in personal sponsorship, as the arrival of up to four new teams next year signals the return of a pay-driver era.
Favorite to be his teammate is Pedro de la Rosa.
Also eyed by the new teams Campos, Manor and Lotus is Vitaly Petrov, a Russian who finished the 2009 GP2 championship in second place while promising a hefty 15 million Euros to a formula one employer for next season.
Cosworth to be biggest supplier of F1 engines in 2010 We hear famed F1 engine manufacturer Cosworth may soon sign a 6th F1 team for 2010. If so the American owned company will go from supplying zero engines in 2009 to the largest F1 engine supplier with 10 to 12 cars next year. Reducing F1's dependence on car manufacturers is a good thing for the long-term stability of the sport.
More A1GP races to be cancelled After the cancelled A1GP race in Surfers Paradise, Australia last weekend, next up was Zhuhai, China on November 15th. Well that isn't going to happen and now we hear Sepang, Malaysia on December 6th is also doubtful. The A1GP owes its creditors almost $200 million. Order the flowers and plan the funeral. Look for this series to go into bankruptcy before long as no one is going to buy a series with that much debt and no business plan to make a profit. With all its races flyaway events, the cost are enormous and the business model unsustainable.
Kimi says he never talked to Toyota Kimi Raikkonen has denied ever negotiating with the Toyota team over a drive next season. The Finn, who yesterday revealed his preference to rejoin McLaren insisted that he had never spoken to the Japanese Manufacturer about becoming their driver.
“It wouldn’t make sense to change to any other team,” Raikkonen told the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat. “With Toyota there was nothing, although they said that we negotiated. We didn’t speak with them; that was only what they said.”
Raikkonen also said that he would have no worries lining up alongside Lewis Hamilton at McLaren and that the British driver would not be a factor in his decision.
“Hamilton does not have anything to do with my decision,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to me who drives the other car.”
After announcing that they will be powered by Cosworth next season, Williams took another step towards revealing their driver line-up with Rubens Barrichello expected to partner Nico Hulkenburg.
“In one week we will know more for sure,” said Barrichello, “At the moment there are more important things than the announcement of my contract for the coming year,”
Amidst the news, current Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima has admitted that his Formula One future is not secure.
“All I can say is we are talking with some new teams and some current teams.” the Japanese driver told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.
Meanwhile Sport Bild has claimed that Timo Glock will sign a contract with Renault next season, partnering Robert Kubica, although this was denied by his manager.
In other news USF1, due to enter Formula One next season, has said it will house its European operations at Spain’s Motorland Aragon technology park and circuit.
Finally the future of the British Grand Prix remains in the balance after Bernie Ecclestone revealed that he has issued the BRDC with a final take-it-or-leave-it offer.
Although the F1 supremo admitted that he would be “very upset” if there wasn’t a British Grand Prix in 2010, he made it clear that he would not offer Silverstone another deal.
“We’ve been negotiating for too long,” Ecclestone told BBC Sport. “That deal is better than anybody else’s deal anyway so if they don’t like it, it’s OK.”
The revelation comes days after UK Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, reportedly contacted Ecclestone and stressed the event’s importance Britain.
“I stressed to him the importance of Formula One and the British Grand Prix to the UK,” he told The Times. formula1.net
“This (the GP) is a very British institution and every effort must be made to keep the race in the UK,
“Bernie reassured me he was doing everything possible to maintain the British Grand Prix in the UK.”
McLaren favors 'golden boy' Lewis Hamilton (GMM) In what might be interpreted as a parting shot, Heikki Kovalainen has suggested that he did not enjoy equal treatment as Lewis Hamilton's McLaren teammate in 2008 and 2009.
The Finn is now linked strongly with a move to Toyota, or possibly Renault, as McLaren weighs up pairing Hamilton next year with Kimi Raikkonen or Jenson Button.
McLaren insists it operates without a driver hierarchy, but Kovalainen, 27, painted a different picture in conversation with the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.
"It was always difficult to accept that Lewis was always the first to receive the new parts.
"I have never wanted to make a big deal about it, but it would have been nice to just once had the new parts on my car, particularly after we lost the chance of winning the championship," he said.
More adverse rumors about USF1 emergeUPDATE #2 We are downgrading this rumor to false, as it seems that plans are moving ahead normally at USF1.
The USF1 team has confirmed that its European base will be located at Spain's Motorland Arag¢n circuit. With the main facility of the American team in Charlotte, the Spanish site will be used for operations during the European season, which in 2010 will run from May to September with the exception of the Canadian Grand Prix in June.
With USF1 headed by Team Principal Ken Anderson and Sporting Director Peter Windsor, the latter explained to reporters in Abu Dhabi that the base in Spain will be used chiefly for development and logistics jobs, as well as some (permitted) testing at the track.
"It's is the ideal motorsport complex for USF1's European operation," Windsor said on Friday. "From the excellent location and weather to the rich racing heritage and diverse track configurations, Motorland will provide the first American team in over 40 years with the perfect facility to manage the 2010 season plus train for 2011 and beyond.
"We're thrilled to call it our European home," Ken Anderson added of the venue which is found in the province of Teruel, roughly halfway between capital Madrid and Barcelona, host city of the Spanish Grand Prix. 10/27/09 (GMM) Peter Windsor has rubbished suggestions that USF1 is trying to terminate its contract with engine supplier Cosworth.
Reports in the German press mentioned the rumor last week, amid speculation the new American team's sporting director Windsor believes switching to Toyota power would be a better option.
However, it has also been suggested that USF1 is trying to cancel contracts in anticipation of failing to make it to the 2010 grid.
"The rumors are not true, I'm afraid," Windsor told the GPWeek magazine. "We are fully committed to Cosworth -- which is why we are delighted to have Bernard Ferguson working for us."
Until 2007, Ferguson was Cosworth's director of motor sport.
10/22/09 (GMM) Negative rumors about the health of the new USF1 team persist.
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that Alex Wurz, once strongly linked with a race seat in 2010, has now given up on that opportunity.
Also claimed by the magazine is that the Charlotte based outfit wants to terminate its contract with engine supplier Cosworth, while the 60 on-site staff are currently employed only on a month-by-month basis.
Additionally, no backers with the exception of Chad Hurley have been confirmed, but the YouTube founder told USA Today: "We'll find the revenue to make a great business out of this.
"The returns may not be as large in the first few years, but I'm not involved for the short term. We're looking 20 years down the road," he added.
Vison racing in trouble? This comes from the Vision Racing Facebook page:
While the team will not be making any formal announcements, we feel that we should share with you some of the things that have happened in the past week.
It is with great regret that the team has lost some very valuable team members in the past week or so. We'd like to say we simply "misplaced" them somewhere in the attic while cleaning up the shop... but the truth and reality is that while we are happy that some members of our crew have moved on to pursue new opportunities, Vision Racing has also had to cut back their staff for the off-season.
The team is working very hard to pursue sponsorship and secure funding for the 2010 Indy Racing season. We sincerely hope to bring as many people back as possible and have high hopes of even perhaps expanding our IndyCar & Indy Lights programs. ... Read More
At this time, however, as is the case with many families these days, the economic reality cannot be ignored. The team is in conservation mode and doing everything it can to secure a strong future.
We appreciate our fans support throughout past seasons and hope you hang in there with us this off-season as we work diligently to build for a solid platform on which to launch the 2010 Indy racing season.
We will of course keep you updated with the goings on each week through the long winter months.
We hope to have good news for everyone in the coming weeks and months as we prepare for a new year and an exciting new season of Indy racing.
Mario Moraes made so much improvement as an IndyCar Series driver this season that his boss wants him reclassified.
"The kid eventually needs to get paid like a professional," Jimmy Vasser said. "He's not a money (providing) guy."
It's difficult to argue with the 1996 CART champion, co-owner of Indianapolis-based KV Racing Technology, as Moraes drove more competitively than his 14th-place standing would suggest.
Moraes delivered a strong month of May until he made contact with Marco Andretti on the first lap of the Indianapolis 500. He handled the death of his father midseason and finished with four consecutive top-seven finishes, including a third at Chicagoland when he went three-wide for the lead with only a few laps remaining.
Paddock perception of the 20-year-old driver is changing.
"I took a lot of (grief) for calling him the new (Juan Pablo) Montoya, but I saw some similar things in him," said Vasser, who was Montoya's teammate for two seasons at Ganassi Racing. "I think a lot of people are coming around, like Dario (Franchitti)."
Moraes said he speaks frequently with Vasser and Kevin Kalkhoven about returning to KV, but he has stressed to them the importance of having a strong teammate to help him.
KV certainly has been stronger with multiple cars. After a productive 2008 with Will Power and Oriol Servia, it fielded Paul Tracy alongside Moraes in four races and had Townsend Bell in a third car at Indianapolis. All three drivers had good showings in May, with Bell finishing fourth in the 500 and Moraes leading a practice and qualifying seventh.
"It made a lot of difference without (a teammate)," Moraes said. "Jimmy and Kevin want that, too, so we'll see. I'm pretty happy with the team."
Michael Andretti's team could be a destination for Moraes, although there are no current signs of that happening. It's worth noting Moraes' U.S. affairs are handled by Andretti driver Tony Kanaan's company.
Williams will announce its 2010 Formula One driver lineup on Monday, increasing the expectation that Rubens Barrichello will be lured across from Brawn GP. Team principal Frank Williams confirmed the near-term announcement just hours after Barrichello spoke glowingly about the opportunity to join Williams, while stopping short of confirming his move.
“We will announce our drivers for next season on Monday,” Williams said in Gulf News.
Barrichello was widely expected to be joined at Williams by 22-year-old German Nico Hulkenberg, who currently drives in GP2.
Nico Rosberg confirmed Thursday that this weekend’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be his last with the team, with Williams saying he was bound for one of the Mercedes-powered teams next year, either McLaren or Brawn.
“Nico is German and Mercedes need at least one German driver to sit before their engine.”
The Williams team also confirmed it will use Cosworth engines next season, replacing Toyota power. Cosworth provided engines for Williams when it won its first constructors championship in 1980.
The 2010 driver market was the main source of conversation around the Abu Dhabi paddock.
In another development ahead of Friday’s opening practice session, Kimi Raikkonen said he had narrowed down his F1 options for 2010 to his old team McLaren, while a switch to rallying or a year’s sabbatical also remained options.
Toyota had been chasing Raikkonen, but the Finn said he never considered a move there as he ponders his future following his ousting from Ferrari to accommodate Fernando Alonso.
“Toyota has not even been discussed,” Raikkonen told Finnish television station MTV3 on Thursday.
“If I want to drive (F1) cars, then McLaren is the only option. I should know the situation in the next few days.”
Toyota’s driver options for next season were rapidly thinning out. Robert Kubica had also spurned the team’s advances and moved to Renault. Timo Glock said Friday he was likely to leave the team and Jarno Trulli is also expected to depart.
Glock, who is sitting out this weekend’s race due to a back injury, said Friday he is yet to sign a deal with a new team. There had been recent speculation linking Glock to Renault.
The German had a 2010 option with Toyota, but the team was yet to commit due to its pursuit of other drivers and uncertainty over next season’s budget, pending a decision by the parent company.
“Toyota can’t make a decision before Nov. 15, so that is the main reason why it doesn’t look like I can drive for Toyota again,” Glock said. “There are various teams I have good contacts through, and where we are in a good position for next year.” -
Williams to announce drivers next week Germany's Nico Rosberg has already said he was leaving, with Williams widely expected to name an all-new pairing of Brazilian veteran Rubens Barrichello and Germany's GP2 champion Nico Hulkenberg.
Japan's Kazuki Nakajima, Rosberg's team mate this season, is a Toyota-backed driver and set to leave after Williams decided not to continue with the manufacturer's engines.
Nakajima has also failed to score a point this year. Barrichello, 37, has won two races this year with new champions Brawn and is fighting for second place in the standings.
Rosberg is tipped to take his place at Mercedes-powered Brawn.
Williams will be powered by Cosworth engines, although the spokesman would only say that a formal announcement on their new supplier was scheduled for the week after next.
However, team owner Frank Williams (pictured) was quoted in the Gulf News newspaper as confirming the Cosworth deal and saying the drivers would be announced on Monday.
"Our performance needs to improve. We staggered in the second half of the 2009 season. It's fundamental that the car is not fast enough, but from what I've seen we should have been a little more competitive," he said.
"We've finished our contract with Toyota and we've moved on to a British engine manufacturer Cosworth, with whom we have won many world championships in the past," he added.
"They are 50 miles away from Williams which is very convenient.
"Besides we also like our independence. We will be not under the influence, not that Toyota ever bossed around, but we've just gone down a private and independent route." Reuters
Secret agenda to scrap Surfers race? Paradise councilor Susie Douglas is turning her back on the SuperGP and encouraging local residents to get together an urgent petition so she can use it to force the Gold Coast City Council to withdraw all support and $500,000 in cash and services for next year's event.
An email leaked to The Bulletin has revealed Cr Douglas told a disgruntled resident she supported his stance to have the four-day carnival scrapped or relocated out of Surfers Paradise.
She told the unnamed constituent that he should, as a matter of urgency, get a petition going 'and I will use it to try to withdraw council's support'. Cr Douglas yesterday admitted she had sent the email but said she wanted the event scrapped if there was no international component and only the V8 Super-cars were involved.
Latest F1 Silly Season rundown See our 2010 F1 Silly Season Page linked above. Williams will announce its 2010 Formula One driver lineup on Monday, increasing the expectation that Rubens Barrichello will be lured across from Brawn GP.
Team principal Frank Williams confirmed the near-term announcement just hours after Barrichello spoke glowingly about the opportunity to join Williams, while stopping short of confirming his move.
“We will announce our drivers for next season on Monday,” Williams said in Gulf News.
Barrichello was widely expected to be joined at Williams by 22-year-old German Nico Hulkenberg, who currently drives in GP2.
Nico Rosberg confirmed Thursday that this weekend’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be his last with the team, with Williams saying he was bound for one of the Mercedes-powered teams next year, either McLaren or Brawn.
Toyota covets signing Kubica, RaikkonenUPDATE #4 (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has dismissed reports that moving to Toyota is among his options for the 2010 season. The Finn, driving a Ferrari for the last time this weekend in Abu Dhabi, has also been talking with McLaren but insists he has other options, including a full time switch to rallying or a sabbatical.
"I can (have a year off) if I want," said the 30-year-old, also admitting that rallying is "definitely" another serious option. It is not just formula one or rallying. There are other things I could do and we will see what happens," Raikkonen added.
The sticking point with McLaren seems to be money, after Toyota's John Howett recently said the Japanese team was not willing to increase its financial offer to the 2007 world champion.
But Raikkonen denies Toyota was ever a serious option.
"Toyota has not even been discussed," he told the Finnish broadcaster MTV3. "If I want to drive (F1) cars, then McLaren is the only option. I should know the situation in the next few days."
Money aside, another essential element of a deal is permission to do more rallying. When he drove for McLaren between 2002 and 2006, the Finn's contract disallowed dangerous outside activities.
"It's not going to hurt you. Any kind of driving is always going to give you some experience, so I don't see what's the issue. It's going to be in the contract that I'm allowed to do it," Raikkonen insisted.
10/20/09 Toyota has offered Kimi Raikkonen a contract for next season, team president John Howett has confirmed.
The Cologne-based squad is chasing a big-name driver as it awaits the Japanese parent company’s decision on its Formula 1 future, and having missed out on the chance to sign Robert Kubica – who is bound for Renault in 2010 – has identified Raikkonen as its main target.
The 2007 world champion, who has agreed to leave Ferrari one year before the end of his contract to make way for Fernando Alonso, has also been strongly linked with a return to McLaren.
Howett told Reuters that Toyota had made Raikkonen a firm offer but admitted the Finn’s management is pushing for a higher salary.
“We don't play too many games. We put on the table what we can afford and what we think is a serious offer in the current market,” said Howett. itv-f1.com
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