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Will F1 return to Indy? IMS President & COO Joie Chitwood said during a morning presentation at Smith & Streets Motorsport forum in NY Wednesday that the track is looking to add a Red Bull Air Race and is still optimistic about the return of F1. Chitwood: “I think F1 will come back, I really do. I don’t know how many annual events we would host after (the IRL, NASCAR, MotoGP and a corporate golf event), but with the centennial era approaching, I think it’s about putting special events on the calendar. Air racing is very interesting to me.”
Word is that Edoardo Piscopo will be back racing in the USA, entering the 2008 Champ Car Atlantic series with Eurointernational, the same team that pushed his career forward in Formula BMW. The Eurointernational team will be entering a car for the first time in Champ Car's support series, as Piscopo elected to move away from the F3 Euro Series.
Howard lands full-time Indy Car rideUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.
Jay Howard with Sam Schmidt
11/22/07 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, after sitting on the sidelines for a year, 2006 Indy Pro champion Jay Howard has landed an Indy Car drive for 2008 through the end of 2010, with an option to extend the contract. We await the official announcement.
Bernie hints at 18-race F1 calendar Bernie Ecclestone has hinted that he would like to limit the number of events on the Formula 1 calendar to 18 rounds.
In an interview with German weekly Auto Motor und Sport, published on F1's official site, the sport's impresario suggested that while he expected the current influx of new nation hosts to continue he did not want to see the schedule expand significantly to accommodate them all.
“It is for the teams to think about it," he said.
“Nobody can ever pay them what it costs them to run. For sure, we do not want 36 races like in NASCAR.
“Maybe 18 would be a good number.” (He said 20 just this year).
The face of the F1 calendar is set to change substantially over the next two years.
Two new races on street tracks in Singapore and Valencia will join the schedule in 2008, while Abu Dhabi will enter the fray a year later. Then South Korea and India are set to increase F1’s presence in the Asian market from 2010.
A large crowd turned out for Champ Car in Assen, Holland this year
The Champ Car series has already started encroaching on what is widely referred to as Formula One territory with races taking place in Europe this season. While they took place on tracks that Formula One does not use, such as Belgium’s Zolder circuit and TT Assen in the Netherlands, the plan is to expand this further in the future. Jerez has been added in 2008 and Donington may eventually be added as well.
Speaking to AM365 in an exclusive interview, four time Champ Car champion and now Toro Rosso racer, Sebastien Bourdais, revealed that the plan is for the predominately based American series to break into the Asian market in the future, an area currently being favored by FOM’s Bernie Ecclestone.
“The aspiration of Champ Car is to have 2 European rounds of 2 races, 4 races in Europe, that is sufficient enough,” he explained. “It is necessary to go to China or Dubai and to be established in Japan and as a matter of fact there are projects for future expansion.”
While F1 is commonly referred to as the pinnacle of Motorsports, there is one thing that Champ Car provides that Formula One does not, something that may end up securing them more fans in the long run, and that is how open the series is to everyone, while Formula One shrouds everything in secrecy….
“The fact that Champ Car has something very different to offer from F1 is a positive: it opens the paddock to the public and there is a true communion between drivers and fans. It attracts the public as a result whereas in F1 it is very difficult to access the drivers and the cars, and the secretiveness makes the envy grow. The two series have completely opposite ways of reaching the same goal.”
Dodge teams have to change decals in 2008 In what has to be the biggest farce in all of motorsports, rumor has it that the Dodge NASCAR car will be known as the Charger in 2008 instead of the Avenger. The COT body style will stay the same, just the headlight and taillight decals will changed along with the Charger name on the nose.
Rosberg still on McLaren wish-listUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation' today. Nico Rosberg has hinted that he could be looking for a long term deal with the Williams team, as speculation continues that McLaren is trying to sign the youngster as Fernando Alonso's replacement.
"I'm not going anywhere," Rosberg told The Mail newspaper. "I'll be at Williams for another season and hopefully for longer than that."
"It's very flattering to be linked with McLaren and it would certainly be interesting to team up with Lewis again, but I'm very happy where I am," he added. "We made a lot of progress last year and I'm hoping we'll continue to improve even more next season."
"I want to play a major part in taking Williams back to the good times, just as Alonso did with Renault and Schumacher did at Ferrari," Rosberg concluded.
11/21/07 (GMM) Nico Rosberg is still high on McLaren's wish-list to replace Fernando Alonso in 2008 and beyond, reports on Wednesday from Germany claim.
Despite Williams confirming that the 22-year-old will line up alongside Kazuki Nakaima next season, the major German daily Bild-Zeitung says team boss Sir Frank Williams would accept a multi million dollar buyout.
The newspaper said Williams is seeking minimally $22 million from McLaren "for his racing jewel".
Michael Schumacher's manager Willi Weber, however, advises Rosberg and his management to resist the lure of Ron Dennis' Woking based team.
"McLaren could very quickly destroy his career," Weber told the newspaper.
"Hamilton is their number one, even if officially they will not say it."
Chrysler could cut beyond buyouts Chrysler officials have not ruled out the possibility of layoffs at the Auburn Hills automaker if they fail to get enough salaried workers to leave with voluntary buyouts over the next month.
Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Bob Nardelli has warned employees to expect a tough 2008, leaving open the possibility of job cuts even beyond the 25,000 already announced, a figure that include the buyouts.
"It's never an easy decision to shrink a company, but we felt we needed to get it right-sized," Nardelli reportedly told employees during an internal company broadcast. "We didn't want to be chasing costs throughout the year. We hope we were aggressive enough and, if not, we will adjust."
Nardelli's statements were first reported by the Dow Jones news operation. A Chrysler spokesman confirmed that Nardelli addressed workers.
At this point, Chrysler officials do not anticipate layoffs, but aren't sure they can be avoided either, people familiar with the situation said. They added that the decision would be based upon the take rate of the buyouts.
Buyout offers similar to those offered to salaried employees earlier this year are again on the table.
The first wave of this new set of buyouts is aimed at salaried workers 62 or older and with 10 or more years of service. Their package includes three months' pay and a $20,000 car voucher. Their last day will be Friday, said Chrysler spokesman David Elshoff. More at Detroit Free Press
Alonso, Red Bull and BourdaisUPDATE #6 (GMM) Helmut Marko has clarified reports that Fernando Alonso may have been in talks with Red Bull about joining the team in 2008.
Although David Coulthard and Mark Webber insist they will resume their cockpits in Melbourne next March, team owner Dietrich Mateschitz on Tuesday was quoted as contemplating a multiple-year deal with Alonso, who has left McLaren after a single season.
Mateschitz's quotes were, however, interpreted differently by the media; one news outlet said the Austrian billionaire had "confirmed Alonso talks", while another said the double world champion was now "not an option" for Red Bull.
Clarifying the situation, Marko - Mateschitz's motor sport advisor - denied that there has been any "negotiations" with Alonso, the 26-year-old Spaniard.
"What I can say is that Red Bull has not negotiated anything with Alonso. We know that he has talked to several teams, and we are one of them, but there has been no negotiation," the Spanish sports daily Marca quotes Marko as saying.
Marko, a former grand prix driver, also slammed as "lies" reports that Alonso recently visited Red Bull Racing's team headquarters at Milton Keynes.
Elsewhere in the Spanish press, it emerged that although Alonso has now returned from his post-season vacation, he is not scheduled to drive for any team at next week's final test of 2007 at Jerez.
Spy Photos of the Corvette SS engine These photos show what the yet to be announced Corvette SS supercharged 650 HP LS9 engine will look like. The car is slated to be a 2009 model but will go on sale in 2008 according to the rumors.
According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Brazilian Mario Moraes is testing a Champ Car with Coyne Racing at Sebring today. We hear he is hopeful of teaming up with compatriot Bruno Junqueira for next year. Moraes started his career in minor youth motorsports, and in 2005 drove for the Bassan Motorsport team in Formula Three Sudamericana. In 2005 he raced in Formula 3 South America, garnering 6 wins and finished the season runner-up. In 2007 he drove in the British Formula 3 series.
Will Alonso replace Webber at Red Bull?UPDATE (GMM) Mark Webber says he is "pretty sure" he will not be replaced by Fernando Alonso at Red Bull Racing next year.
What happens to Webber if he gets the axe because of Alonso?
It is rumored that Alonso, the double world champion who has split with McLaren after a tumultuous 2007 season, is in talks with the energy drink-owned team, despite both Webber and teammate David Coulthard having contracts for next year.
Coulthard, 36, insists that his particular agreement with the Milton Keynes based outfit is so specific that it says "I have to drive the car in any F1 event it is entered for".
"I know that this is not always the case with younger drivers," the Scot added.
Speaking with the Australian newspaper Canberra Times, 31-year-old Webber admitted that he is not sure if his contract also contains this clause.
"I haven't gone through my contract in that sort of detail but I'm pretty sure I'll be driving there," he said.
"David is obviously looking at it a bit more than I am," Webber, who left Australia on Monday to test at Jerez next week, added.
11/19/07 (GMM) Mark Webber has rubbished rumors that Fernando Alonso could be set to trigger his departure from the Red Bull team ahead of the 2008 season.
McLaren refugee Alonso is yet to commit to a team for next year, and despite both Webber and teammate David Coulthard having secure contracts for 2008, it was reported at the weekend that talks between the Spaniard and Red Bull are still going on.
It is also speculated that if Alonso does switch to Red Bull, Flavio Briatore-managed Webber, who is 31, would be a candidate to line up for Renault.
But the Australian, in his home country at present for the annual Mark Webber Challenge, told the Queanbeyan Age newspaper that he is a firm starter for Red Bull in 2008.
"I'll be driving at Red Bull next year," Webber insisted.
"It will be nice to be in the hunt next year, and if we can start the season the way we finished it we will be doing well.
"We need to try and get some bullet-proof reliability in our car and just focus on some of the basics," Webber, who retired from seven of the 17 races in 2007, added.
Despite the poor reliability, however, Webber thinks he drove well this season.
"Personally I was very happy with how I drove, and even though it didn't reflect on the scoreboard, I was pleased with the progress our team made this year.
"But no one likes to be involved in cars struggling with reliability -- it's very frustrating," he said.
Rocketsports to test Alexandre NegraoUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.
11/26/07 Rumor has it that Rocketsports will test Alexandre Negrao. The test is scheduled for this week at Houston Motorsports Park.
22-year old Alexandre Sarnes Negrão, nicknamed Xandinho, is a Brazilian race car driver. He raced in the 2005 and 2006 GP2 Series seasons for the HiTech/Piquet Sports team, an outfit funded mostly by former Formula One world champion Nelson Piquet.
Negrão's career started in karting in 1998, where he continued to race until he joined the Piquet team in Formula Three Sudamericana for the 2003 season. The team had been put together primarily to help Nelson Angelo Piquet's run through the lower series, his goal to make Formula One, but nevertheless Negrao would stay with the team in 2004. He ended the 2004 season as the champion, and also got a taste of British Formula Three that year, in the form of two races for the Carlin Motorsport team.
Negrão continued his alignment with the Piquet team in 2007.
HWA to enter F1 with Mercedes, SpenglerUPDATE #3 (GMM) German racing car company HWA has denied reports that it is likely to enter formula one in 2007.
The German news magazine Focus last week claimed that the company, which since 2000 has built Mercedes-Benz's cars for the DTM series, could become involved in the current McLaren collaboration, or set up a Mercedes-Benz 'B' team.
The British weekly Autocar added that the bid could be backed by mostly Dubai based businesses, some of which had intended to enter F1 with Prodrive in 2008.
It was also suggested that the HWA rumor linked up with speculation that Mercedes could be looking to end its involvement with Ron Dennis' Woking based team.
But HWA CEO Hans-Jurgen Mattheis scotched the reports.
"There's nothing to it," he told sport1.de. "This is all pure speculation."
Mattheis added that HWA has "currently no ambitions in that direction".
11/25/07 (GMM) German racing car company HWA is reportedly likely to enter formula one in 2009.
The news magazine Focus reports that the outfit, which since 2000 has built Mercedes-Benz's cars for the DTM series, could become involved in the current McLaren-Mercedes collaboration.
It was reported in June that, despite McLaren and Mercedes' collaboration on the $600,000 SLR supercar, Mercedes would pair with HWA alone for the SLR's successor.
Interestingly, HWA is run by the former CEO of Mercedes-Benz, Jurgen Hubbert; a fact that could spark new speculation that the largest shareholder of Ron Dennis' outfit could be looking to bring an end to the remaining British elements of the F1 team.
11/09/07 Canadian driver Bruno Spengler, has concluded the 2007 DTM championship season as runner up to Mattias Ekstrom, his second successive year in second place after missing out on the crown in 2006 to DTM legend, Bernd Schneider.
The target for the DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG Mercedes driver is to make it the best out of three in 2008 and finally take the DTM crown, despite speculation that he may be in the running for Fernando Alonso’s vacant seat at McLaren.
Speaking to automoto 365.com, Bruno explained how flattered he is with the speculation doing the rounds by his fellow Canadians, however the fact of the matter is that the first step has not even be taken….
“It pleases me that the Canadians think this highly of me, but it is necessary to wait to see what will happen in the next few months,” he told us. “However, I have not had any discussions on this subject with McLaren and Mercedes.”
Bruno has never raced in the pinnacle of Motorsports, but he has definitely proved himself in the lower formula such as the F3Euroseries and Formula Renault, so would it be realistic for him to race alongside Lewis Hamilton next season?
“Not, not really, but nothing is 100% sure,” he said. “Let’s say that there is an 80% chance that I will race in DTM in 2008. The objective will be the title in 2008, just like this year. I would say that to have a career as long and successful as Bernd (Schneider) would be fantastic, but, I don’t hide the fact that my dream is to race in Formula 1! We will see how things develop in the future... ”
11/06/07 Bruno Spengler is one name that has been quietly mentioned as a possible F1 driver for some months now and he could be one of the outsiders in the running for the McLaren drive, although it is highly unlikely that the team would sign up the Canadian youngster before seeing him test.
The 24-year-old was born in Strasbourg, on the Franco-German border, but his family moved to Canada when he was three. He was schooled in Canada but continued to spend time in France and started karting at Biesheim, near Strasbourg, in 1995. He raced in both France and Canada in the years that followed and then in 2001 started racing in French Formula Renault. The following year he finished second to Christian Klien in the German Formula Renault Championship. This led to him being signed by Mercedes-Benz and in 2003 he was given a drive with the ASM team in the Formula 3 Euroseries. Unfortunately his career then took a bad knock when he crashed heavily in testing at Dijon and suffered a broken vertebrae which meant that he missed several races. Despite this he scored several podiums and was 10th in the championship. A switch to Mucke Motorsport in 2004 was not a success and in 2005 he joined Team Persson in DTM, driving a 2004 Mercedes C Class.
He did well enough to be promoted to the HWA team in 2006 and finished runner-up in the series. He repeated the same feat this year. His name was first mentioned in connection with F1 in the summer when there was talk that he would be one of the drivers of the planned Prodrive F1 team. We hear that he spent some time this summer in the McLaren F1 simulator in Woking and did very well. If Prodrive had happened it is likely that he would have been one of the drivers, in part because there may have been a Canadian sponsor in the background and in part because of Mercedes-Benz support.
Spengler is managed by Didier Coton (the man who oversaw the careers of Mika Hakkinen and Olivier Panis) and lives near Strasbourg. A big star with the fans in Germany, he speaks English, French and German fluently. GrandPrix.com
Vegas track buys street race assetsUPDATE We are hearing that the rumor that LVMS purchased all the barriers and fencing is not true. Apparently they did make a purchase, but it was only for a few barriers and some of the fencing. We heard it is a very small fraction of the total amount, and that the stuff is still up for sale.
11/24/07 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, to ensure Champ Car never race on the streets of Las Vegas again LVMS has purchased the fencing and walls that were used for the LVGP. They say that it will be used to better protect the industrial buildings that are located near the road course.
Pettit and Wilson to join FCRUPDATE #2 As Autoracing1.com reported, Pettit and Forsythe have joined forces under the Forsythe/Pettit Racing banner starting in 2008. See Hot News page for full story.
11/21/07 The formal announcement regarding the Forsythe-Pettit partnership
will occur next week.
11/20/07 AutoRacing1.com has learned that Dan Pettit has agreed to join forces with Jerry Forsythe at Forsythe Racing and he will be bringing Justin Wilson over with him to team with Paul Tracy and perhaps a third driver. We await the formal announcement and have updated our 2008 Champ Car Silly Season page accordingly.
BMW: Vettel and Glock might return Mario Theissen has not ruled out the possibility of Sebastian Vettel and Timo Glock returning to BMW Sauber.
The German starlets were the Hinwil-based team's test and reserve drivers this season but in 2008 Vettel will race for Toro Rosso while Glock has won a seat with Toyota.
But BMW's director of motorsport is hopeful that the duo might return to the team sometime in the future.
Of their departures Theissen told Crash.net radio: "It's not disappointing to me.
"I would say it's rather natural. There are a lot of competitive drivers fighting for very few seats, and it is clear that a newcomer has to work up through the ranks."
"It is normal for me that they get a chance and take that chance elsewhere. That doesn't necessarily mean they will stay elsewhere, though, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to get them back in our car again one day."
Theissen explained that the German marque are still looking to replace Vettel and Glock - with Marko Asmer, Nico Hülkenberg, Christian Vietoris and Adam Carroll all touted as possible candidates.
"We are certainly looking beyond Germany," Theissen said.
"We have always done that. The fact we had two German guys this year is not so much about their nationality, but more about their having been part of Formula BMW." SkySports
Autodrome St-Eustache sold to Labrosse According to some very reliable sources, Quebec promoter Alan Labrosse would take over l'Autodrome St-Eustache, a very popular 4/10 mile oval combined to a road race circuit close to Montreal.
The official announcement should be made soon when l'Autodrome will have its annual banquet.
Labrosse is also manager of Quebec drivers Andrew Ranger, NASCAR Canadian Tire's first champ and Champ Car driver Alex Tagliani. Tagliani still doesn't have a seat in Champ Car for the upcoming season but has expressed the wish to drive a NASCAR Canadian Tire car as often as his schedule will allow in 2008. Flagworld.Auto123
Will Renault be forced to sell F1 team? Renault's troubles in Formula 1 may be weighing heavily on the company at the moment while it waits for the FIA World Council meeting in December, but the company still has to look ahead, even if there is a threat that the F1 team could be thrown out of the World Championship by the FIA.
Last summer McLaren is reported to have narrowly escaped a two-year ban from F1 during its espionage hearing before the FIA World Council and Renault has already admitted to things which were never proved against McLaren. Having fined McLaren $100m and taken away all of the team's 2007 points, the FIA cannot easily allow Renault to get away with a lesser punishment without stirring up questions about the fairness and the credibility of the federation.
Thus Renault must consider the worst case scenario which could be some form of ban. The team could, in theory, be sold to a third party and continue to compete under a new identity.
Hugo Boss wants to stay with Alonso (GMM) McLaren sponsor Hugo Boss is keen to follow Fernando Alonso to his new team in 2008.
While the long association between Ron Dennis' team and the fashion company is not in doubt, it is reported that Hugo Boss officials in Spain are keen that Alonso continues to carry the logos of the German brand in 2008.
"We would like to keep him," Hugo Boss' director for Spain and Portugal, Briac Pinault, told the El Mundo Deportivo newspaper.
He clarified that whether or not it is possible depends on which team Alonso, who has split with McLaren after a single season in 2007, selects for 2008.
"I am sad that he has left the team," Pinault admitted. "We are very happy with him and we have a great relationship."
It is understood that Hugo Boss is seeking a private arrangement with Alonso similar to the one agreed with David Coulthard when the Scot left McLaren in 2004.
Mosley eyes F1 future for SerbiaUPDATE (GMM) The next location for a formula one grand prix could be Serbia, a landlocked central-European country.
JumpTV, an internet television carrier, reports that FIA president Max Mosley has visited the capital Belgrade and met with Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica about the construction of a circuit.
A statement was reportedly issued in which it was announced that the project would be a collaboration of the Serbian automobile association Auto-moto Savez Srbije (AMSS), which is already a member of F1's Mosley-led governing body.
No other details were outlined, such as whether the circuit would be built specifically for formula one, but local media also reported that the sport's chief executive Bernie Ecclestone visited Serbia last year and also met with Prime Minister Kostunica.
JumpTV quotes Kostunica as praising "the importance of this project for the development of auto racing in Serbia, and for tourism and to promote the country".
Also reportedly discussed by Mosley and Kostunica was the future of Milos Pavlovic, who is Serbia's most prominent racing driver. The 25-year-old is sponsored by the Petroleum Industry of Serbia and the jointly government-owned company Telekom Srbija.
Pavlovic finished the 2007 World Series by Renault in third place.
11/23/07 Max Mosley was in Serbia today to discuss the construction of an international racing circuit in the country. Serbia remains under some international suspicion at the moment because some observers believe that Ratko Mladic and his fellow war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic enjoy the protection of elements with the country's government and security services because they retain much popularity amongst the country's nationalists.
Both men have been indicted by the Yugoslav War Crimes tribunal in The Hague for genocide in connection with incidents during the Bosnian war of 1992-1995 war, including the Srebrenica massacre, in which more than 8000 Bosnian Muslims were killed.
Mosley met with Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica only hours after European Union peacekeepers launched a series of raids to try to capture Karadzic.
Serbia is trying hard to gain acceptance in the international community but its failure to capture Mladic and Karadzic has been a serious problem with its talks to join the European Union. In recent weeks however the chief war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte has advised the EU that Serbia is now complying adequately with the tribunal and there is a basis for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union.
Once the issue of war criminals is out of the way, Serbia's relationship with the world will no doubt change and Kostunica told AFP that "the construction of such a circuit would have great importance for the development of motor sport in Serbia, tourism, and in promoting the country."
The talks with Mosley also included discussions about Serbian driver Milos Pavlovic, who is a frontrunner in the Renault World Series. Grandprix.com
NASCAR paying Ganassi? Question: Whoa! About once a week I see you sneak a line in somewhere that makes me sit up and take notice. Your Nov. 17 answer re: Ganassi did it for me. Are you really saying that Chip is getting financial help from NASCAR to field foreign drivers? Ditto, I guess for Franchitti’s ride, Villeneuve’s ride and Carpentier’s ride. If so, what would your guess be on that arrangement? (Gary, Fort Wayne, Ind.) Answer: Yes, I think it’s possible NASCAR cut Ganassi a deal relative to sharing international TV rights, especially as it relates to Montoya and South America. In fact, I think it would have been smart for NASCAR to do everything it could to make sure Montoya and other international stars make the jump. Why is this so difficult to imagine? Indystar.com
Vegas race could return in 2009UPDATE #2 Las Vegas will have a street race in 2009 if Jim Freudenberg has his way.
Although many were quick to write off the Vegas Grand Prix as a one-time affair after it was taken off the 2008 Champ Car World Series schedule, Freudenberg, who ran the downtown Vegas Grand Prix for promoters Dale Jensen and Bradley Yonover, has been working behind the scenes to revive the event.
The Las Vegas track was the most exciting street circuit in the world
Why is he trying to resurrect the race when, by most accounts, the promoters lost millions on the venture and many downtown businesses complained the three-day event inconvenienced their customers?
Freudenberg is convinced a Las Vegas street race can succeed. He's just not sure that downtown is the appropriate venue. Or that Champ Car is the right series. And with Jensen and Yonover out of the race-promoting business, he needs to find someone to bankroll the race.
Will Super Aguri team fold? (GMM) Up to 30 staff of the struggling Super Aguri team face losing their job, according to reports.
The Oxford Mail, a local newspaper serving the area around the Japanese team's Leafield (UK) base, claims that a round of restructuring is aimed at downsizing Super Aguri in preparation for the 2008 season.
The small team, led by former grand prix driver Aguri Suzuki, was late this season urgently on the market for an investor after major backer SS United defaulted on payments.
The newspaper said up to 30 existing staff could be affected, but team spokeswoman Emma Bearpark explained that some could be found alternate posts at engine supplier Honda.
Between 100-120 people currently work for Super Aguri.
Renault has ’entire blueprint’ of the McLaren cars The politics of espionage returned to haunt Formula One in dramatic fashion yesterday as McLaren Mercedes went on the offensive against Renault.
In a concerted attack, McLaren sought to underline that the French team's possession of McLaren technical secrets is as bad or even worse than McLaren's possession of Ferrari secrets.
A leaked briefing memo from McLaren claims Renault had more than 780 individual drawings, allegedly stolen from McLaren, on its Formula One computers that amounted to "the entire technical blueprint of the 2006 and 2007 McLaren F1 cars".
The memo also names what it calls the "Renault seven", a group of seven senior figures in the Renault design and technical team who McLaren say discussed the McLaren technical information.
The Renault chief designer is among them as is the head of research and development, the head of mechanical design, the head of transmission design and the head of vehicle performance. The leak from McLaren was being seen as an attempt to dispel the impression within the sport that the illegal transfer of technical information from McLaren to Renault is of an altogether lesser order of importance than McLaren's possession of Ferrari secrets.
Alonso move in limbo as McLaren-Renault rift grows
As talks on Fernando Alonso rejoining Renault appear to have stalled – yesterday the Spaniard's manager, Luis Garcia Abad, said he is in no hurry to complete a deal – relations between Renault and the McLaren team continued to deteriorate ahead of the FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in Monte Carlo on 6 December, which will investigate McLaren's claim that Renault had unauthorized possession of a significant amount of their confidential technical information.
McLaren's legal dossier is now believed to include 18 witness statements provided by Renault F1 employees, admitting they viewed the McLaren data on 11 separate Renault F1-owned computers, and three independent forensic computer reports provided by Kroll Ontrack.
McLaren's complaint to the FIA council is believed to allege that in March last year, around the time that design engineer Phil Mackereth left McLaren to join Renault, 33 files of McLaren confidential technical information were copied on to 11 disks and loaded on to Renault F1's computer system that September. These files are said to contain more than 780 drawings outlining the entire technical blueprint of the 2006 and 2007 McLaren cars.
Auto sales to slow U.S. auto sales are likely to remain sluggish and may fall again next year due to a deepening slump in the housing market that is eroding consumer confidence, say automakers, consulting and investment firms.
Industry experts say they expect the market to contract because discounts have lost some of their effectiveness after propping up demand for several years. Detroit's automakers, in the midst of turnaround plans and capacity cuts, are reluctant to pile on the amount of incentives necessary to boost sales.
U.S. car and truck sales are on track to end 2007 at a nine-year-low of around 16 million vehicles, down from 16.6 million in 2006 and 17 million in 2005.
General Motors Corp. officials expect a flat market next year, while Nissan Motor Co.'s CEO Carlos Ghosn said in October that the market would be flat at best, ranging between 15.5 million and 16 million vehicles.
Toyota Motor Corp. expects U.S. auto sales to total 16.1 million vehicles this year and next.
"Probably the first half of the year will be tracking below that rate, and the second half of the year will probably be above that rate, ending up at around 16.1 million," Toyota Motor Sales President Jim Lentz told The Detroit News this week. Detroit News
Should BMW buy Mercedes? German luxury car manufacturers BMW and Mercedes are riding the crest of a wave, growing richer as they sell more and more premium vehicles to traditional and emerging markets around the world.
But increasingly effective competition from Audi, Lexus, and Porsche, is ganging up against the traditional market leaders, and according to a report from investment banker Morgan Stanley, the interlopers have two ace cards which are likely to become ever more powerful.
Audi is owned by German mass car maker Volkswagen, and Lexus by Japan's gigantic Toyota. This means that the cost of many basic components like engines, transmissions and components, which are used under the skin of ordinary as well as exotic machines, can be spread over huge numbers of vehicles allowing the interlopers what could be a killer long-term cost advantage.
And there's another huge cost problem looming over the horizon.
New rules expected from the European Union will force all car manufacturers to raise the fuel efficiency of their engines in the name of saving the planet from global warming caused, it says, by excess carbon dioxide (CO2) from energy in general and cars in particular. This will mean another hugely expensive investment which will inevitably cost BMW and Mercedes more per car than its massive rivals, giving Audi and Lexus another cost advantage.
Morgan Stanley, in its report, paints a chilling picture of BMW and Mercedes parent company Daimler's prospects. More at Detroit News
Alonso saga nears conclusion, talks deadlockedUPDATE #2 (GMM) Fernando Alonso is still yet to decide which formula one team to drive for in 2008, his manager said.
Luis Garcia Abad, also a Spaniard, told the BBC: "He will decide when he knows the best option for his future."
Alonso, 26, is currently holidaying and training in an unknown Spanish location, after negotiating a split with McLaren following an acrimonious season in 2007.
The private Spanish television network Telecinco on Wednesday reported that a new meeting between Alonso's representatives and Renault did not go well, after Carlos Ghosn said the French marque would only accept a three-year commitment.
"I do not know anything about Fernando, nothing new," team boss Flavio Briatore told a reporter for the Spanish daily Marca in a London restaurant on Wednesday, as his imposed Thursday deadline looms.
Other media sources insist that Toyota and Red Bull, which reportedly hosted Alonso at its Milton Keynes headquarters recently, are still in the running to woo the double world champion for 2008.
11/20/07 (GMM) Negotiations between Fernando Alonso and Renault about 2008 have reached a deadlock, reports from Spain and Italy on Tuesday said.
The Spanish sports daily Marca claims that while team boss Flavio Briatore is happy to accept Alonso's demands for a one-year contract, Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn is refusing to budge on the offer of a minimally three-year stay.
It is rumored that Alonso wants a one year deal because he has already agreed to switch to Ferrari in 2009; a scenario that might understandably be unattractive to Renault chiefs.
The wire service Agenzia Giornalistica Italia (AGI) quotes Ghosn as confirming: "It's three years or nothing." If the Ferrari rumors are true then Alonso may yet end up at Red Bull for one year.
11/20/07 (GMM) Fernando Alonso's home on the 2008 grid will be decided by early December, a source from within the Spaniard's close band of advisors revealed on Tuesday.
"Be assured, he is not going to be without a cockpit," the source told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo.
The comments follow Flavio Briatore's claim on Monday that the 26-year-old Spaniard is set to decide before the end of the week whether or not to return to Renault next year.
The Alonso source continued: "We are on schedule. Within 15 days everything should be figured out."
He also played down suggestions that Renault is the only team contractually free to accommodate Alonso in 2008.
"Until March, any team can change any driver," the Alonso source said.
According to speculation, the only stumbling block to Alonso's Renault return are rumors that the Spaniard has already agreed to switch to Ferrari in 2009.
Briatore is therefore understandably reluctant to allow Alonso to use Renault as a temporary solution only for 2008.
The Spanish newspaper El Pais quotes Briatore as saying: "Alonso believes that Ferrari waits for him for 2009. But I see this being difficult for him.
"Each team must have one great driver who fights for the (drivers') title and a second to help with the constructors'.
"Ferrari already has Raikkonen, but I suppose everything is possible," Briatore added.
The Italian television station RAI, meanwhile, quotes the Renault boss as admitting: "Toyota and Red Bull also want him. He is very attractive and all have made offers."
With no Concorde replacement, will F1 implode? Forget, for one moment, about the so-called "issues of the moment": the McLaren appeal, the espionage crisis that Renault will soon have to face and the annual driver market hullabaloo. There is a much bigger issue floating along just below the waterline in Formula 1 which is much more important than all of these as there are now only six weeks left until the end of the Concorde Agreement.
This confidential commercial contract that has been the structure of the sport - admittedly in various different forms - since March 1981 when the F1 teams and the FIA agreed to settle their differences over commercial arguments that had been disrupting F1 for several years. This contract dictated the way in which everything has been run since then. The rules of the sport, for example, are appendices of the Concorde Agreement.
When the world celebrates New Year 2008 that will all be over and, at the moment, there is no clear idea what will happen next although the teams are entered in the 2008 World Championship. That was necessary back in April 2006 during one of the FIA's manoeuvres to get the rule changes it wanted. This forced dissenting teams to decide whether to sign up or face having no say at all in the rule-making process. Only those teams who had entered were allowed to take part in the rule-making discussions. The teams that signed up were BMW Sauber, Honda, MF1 Racing (now Force India), Prodrive, Red Bull Racing, Renault F1, Ferrari, Super Aguri, Scuderia Toro Rosso, Toyota, McLaren and Williams.
F1 back to slicks, ban of tire warmers (GMM) Bridgestone will reportedly supply slick tires for formula one teams for trial at the upcoming test in Spain.
The FIA announced earlier this year that the planned 2008 reintroduction of slicks, which were banned in favor of the current grooves at the end of 1997, would now be delayed.
But the Dutch magazine Formule 1 Race Report claims that every grand prix outfit will be given several sets of slicks to try at Jerez early next month, ahead of the likely reintroduction of the tires in 2009.
The publication quotes a BMW-Sauber spokesman, and also the concurrence of the Red Bull teams and Honda, as confirming the news.
The Jerez-spec slicks will reportedly be based on the slick tire currently produced by Bridgestone for the GP2 series.
It is also reported that tire-warming blankets will not be allowed in 2008, as F1 looks to copy Champ Car yet again.
Overheard in Mexico City - 2 (Including Alonso rumor)UPDATE As we told you would happen below, Spanish telco Telefonica has reportedly pulled out of a multi-million dollar super-fund designed to woo Fernando Alonso back to Renault in 2008.
The country's biggest newspaper, El Pais, reports that the company - earlier linked with the $90 million super-fund via the mobile brand Movistar - no longer has any intention of re-entering the sport.
Telefonica withdrew as a major Renault sponsor at the end of last year, when Alonso switched from the French team to McLaren.
The British newspaper The Independent also reports that Telefonica has gone cold on formula one, adding that the company "is lukewarm about both (Flavio) Briatore and Alonso".
The Spanish newspaper Diario AS, meanwhile, reports on Wednesday that Briatore, the Renault boss, has installed a new deadline of Thursday for Alonso to decide to agree a deal for next year.
11/09/07 Don't be shocked if Giacomo Ricci lands in a third Forsythe Championship Racing car for 2008..........We hear that if David Martinez does fairly well this weekend in Mexico City that AXTEL will step up next year and he could very well have a full-time ride, possibly
David Martinez Friday morning in Mexico City
with Forsythe Championship Racing........Martinez is carrying AXTEL this weekend on both his car and uniform, but not as a primary sponsor.......Remember you heard it here first, but do not be surprised if Telmex, and not Telefonica, is the primary sponsor on Fernando Alonso's car if he ends up at Renault. We hear that Telmex is very keen on breaking into Spain and want to use Alonso as an advertising vehicle. So although there is no Mexico F1 race, nor is there a Mexican driver in F1, Carlos Slim's Telmex company may break into F1 in a fairly big way. Adding credence to this rumor is the fact that recently Telefonica bought several telecommunications companies in Europe that Carlos Slim (Telmex) was after and Slim, the richest man in the world, is not taking that defeat lightly we are told.
Speedway incentive package could surpass $70M Incentives aimed at keeping Bruton Smith from closing Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord could exceed the figure previously disclosed by Cabarrus County leaders, the chairman of the county's board of commissioners said Monday.
Bob Carruth said local officials were continuing to work with Smith's staff, and that any incentives package ultimately must be approved by commissioners, the Concord City Council and state officials. But Carruth acknowledged that the total list of projects that emerged after Smith threatened to close Lowe's isn't guaranteed to stay below $70 million.
"It just keeps going up and down," he said. "Those numbers could come out different based on the flavor of the moment."
Regardless, Carruth added, "we're not giving the store away."
Concord Mayor Scott Padgett said he didn't know the total cost of incentives being discussed Monday.
A specific number may be hard to determine, Padgett said, since the options include road widening and a bridge replacement -- state transportation projects that often see budget increases over time.
"I think the focus is more on projects than costs," Padgett said. "I don't know if they'll come up with definite figure before it's settled." That's Racin.com
Will Montagny replace Bourdais? Highly regarded Frenchman Franck Montagny has left the Toyota F1 team as a test driver with no word where he was going. Speculation says that he might be replacing fellow Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing in Champ Car. Another F1 test driver looking to race is Brazilian Ricardo Zonta, who is also highly regarded and could be up for the NHLR ride as well. The Marco Andretti to NHLR rumor is still out there but we refuse to believe that rumor given his father's hatred for Champ Car.
Fisichella job shopping Giancarlo Fisichella is on the look-out for a new F1 team just hours after Flavio Briatore hinted his services were no longer required.
Speaking to an Italian radio station, Briatore revealed that Fisichella will no longer be driving for Renault next season. "Renault will definitely have different drivers next year," the team boss said.
And although Fisichella has received no confirmation from Renault about his future, the Italian is already talking with other F1 teams. "I don't know anything yet," he told the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper. "I surely want to race in Formula One, and now I'll take a look around. "I'm considering other possibilities.
"There is Renault, there are other teams, but I've not closed a deal with anyone yet." Recent reports have linked Fisi to a seat at Force India, with whom he's expected to test at Jerez next month. It is distinctly possible Fisichella will look to Champ Car after he does not land an F1 ride, which at this point appears doubtful.
Piquet to make F1 debut in 2008UPDATE (GMM) After declaring a 60 per cent chance of securing Fernando Alonso's return to Renault in 2008, team boss Flavio Briatore gave a big hint about the occupant of the sister car.
To the Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, Briatore begins by praising the talents of Brazilian test driver Nelson Piquet Jr -- and he didn't even mention team veteran Giancarlo Fisichella.
"Nelsinho, let us not forget, fought to the very end with Hamilton in GP2 last year. He has an incredible potential; he could be a real surprise.
"Regarding (Heikki) Kovalainen, he had an undriveable car (in 2007) but so far he has done really well. We will see," Briatore added.
With Finn Kovalainen believed bound for McLaren to fill Alonso's vacated seat, it is understood that Fisichella's hopes rest with the Spaniard deciding against returning to Renault -- and an upcoming Force India test.
Fisichella, 34, is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport: "At the moment I don't know anything.
"I want to be in formula one, that is for sure, so I have to carefully look around. I see some possibilities; there is Renault, there are other teams. I have not closed a deal with anyone yet," he added.
When Fisichella was asked about his negotiations so far with Briatore, the Italian answered: "I have not talked to him.
"Right now there is nothing official."
10/20/07 (GMM) Nelson Piquet Jr in Brazil said he is confident he will make his formula one race debut in 2008.
Like many of his hopeful young peers, the 22-year-old - who is currently Renault's test driver - is waiting on the impact on the driver market of what has become known as the 'Fernando Alonso factor'.
But Piquet told the newspaper Jornal da Tarde: "Someone will give me a chance to prove that I have what it takes to be a good formula one driver."
Renault boss Flavio Briatore, clearly waiting to see if Alonso will be a free agent for next year, told reporters at Interlagos that he could not promise a decision about the team's next driver lineup in the "next few days, few weeks, few months".
Piquet seemed unfazed by the Alonso factor.
"All I want is my chance," he said, "and if Alonso does not come to Renault, there will always be someone else who wants him."
Will Champ Car race at Mazda Raceway be cancelled?UPDATE No, the race is still on according to this page on their website.
11/19/07 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I just received the latest Corkscrew Newsletter from Mazda Raceway and there was no mention of the Champ Car race in May. I drilled further into their website and again no mention of a Champ Car race next year Looks like this race is doomed before it even gets started. Bruce Foote
Malaysia may back Fauzy's F1 dream (GMM) Fairuz Fauzy's formula one aspirations could be about to receive the support of the Malaysian government.
Just as countryman Alex Yoong was backed for the Minardi drive in 2002, the Kuala-Lumpur based newspaper New Straits Times speculates that an impending news conference could announce government support for Fauzy's plans.
The 25-year-old, who raced in the Renault World Series this year and formerly in GP2 mostly with the backing of his family, was among the multiple test drivers for the Dutch team Spyker in 2007.
That contract ends on December 31.
"I'm still not certain about what I'll be doing next year. If there isn't a budget, I'll either do another season in the World Series or look at other options," Fairuz, who is based in England, said.
But while he has been disappointed with the government's interest in his career so far, Fairuz is expected to be the subject of a press conference to be held next week by the Motorsports Commission of Malaysia (MCM).
MCM chief executive Nordin Yassin, however, refused to comment on the possible content of the announcement.
"We are just awaiting a date to be set by the Sports Minister. But I cannot tell you what it is about," he said.
Glock to replace Ralf at ToyotaUPDATE #14 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement - see Hot News page. Toyota's statement on Monday did not mention who Glock's teammate will be. Jarno Trulli has a contract that includes 2008.
11/17/07 Toyota are set to officially announce the signing of Timo Glock at their annual Motorsports Festival event at Fuji next weekend, autosport.com reports.
11/04/07 GP2 Champion Timo Glock wants to cancel his contract with BMW as he has been offered a race seat with a "big F1 team". The German has declared his intention to leave the Hinwil-based constructor, with Toyota apparently keen on installing him as Ralf Schumacher's replacement. "One should realize they all want to get what's best for themselves," he told Bild. "I was offered the opportunity to race for another big team in Formula 1 and that is something BMW cannot offer me so I hope they can change the current situation." Media reports on Friday claimed that Toyota have contacted the Contract Recognition Board as they look to sign the 25-year-old driver. Glock added: "I am really grateful to BMW. The team has helped me a lot and I have always felt good with the team, but now it's time to move on. I hope we can come to an agreement soon." PlanetF1
10/30/07 (GMM) Timo Glock is still in the frame to join the formula one race action in 2008.
That was the insistence of his manager on Tuesday, amid rumors that promising negotiations with Toyota might have broken down over a disagreement about the desired length of the contract.
It is suggested that while the Japanese outfit wants a long term deal, newly crowned GP2 champion Glock is not keen to be tied down so that BMW-Sauber is free to pull him back perhaps in 2009.
But 25-year-old Glock's manager Hans-Bernd Kamps told Auto Motor und Sport: "There are four top teams which have stated their interest in Timo."
Alongside Toyota and Williams, Kamps could be referring to theoretical openings at McLaren, Renault or Honda.
10/29/07 In regard to Timo Glock a problem with driving for them in 08 has arisen, but, it may have already been sorted. It seems as if Toyota wanted to sign him for two years, but BMW only wanted to release him for one season as they want to have an alternative for 2009 in case Kubica does not raise his game.
10/18/07 In an interview with autosport.com, Timo Glock has confirmed that he's in talks with both Toyota and Williams for a race seat in 2008. Glock said: "There are one or two possibilities. But Toyota is one possibility and I would lie if I didn't say that Toyota and Williams are definitely possibilities. Hopefully in the next one or two weeks, there should be a decision made."
Dealers may be next to face Chrysler cuts With a cost-saving UAW contract and deeper workforce reductions planned, Chrysler LLC is moving on to another step in its strategy to streamline: working on reducing the number of dealers around the country and sharpening its brand image.
"We are openly talking with our dealers to get their buy-in and their opinion," Chrysler spokesman Jason Vines said Saturday, adding: "We're having discussions on a variety of areas with our dealer body." A report circulated Friday said one plan being discussed could eliminate as many as 1,000 of Chrysler's 3,700 dealerships as the company streamlines which vehicles are sold under its three brands. Chrysler disputed the report, which caught some dealers by surprise Saturday.
Vines stressed that no decisions had been made and no time line set.
"Sure, all of the dealer body would like to get down smaller, but there is no way on God's green earth to get down to that number," Vines said.
Chrysler, like other Detroit automakers, has been working for years to reduce the number of independently owned dealerships that sell its Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brand vehicles.
It's a thorny issue. Too many dealers can lead to inefficiencies and competition among themselves for sales as U.S. automakers' market share declines, but eliminating a dealership is difficult with state franchise laws giving dealers great power to resist. More at Detroit Free Press
Doornbos could get BMW ride With Timo Glock signing with Toyota, the BMW Sauber F1 team is looking for a replacement test driver. F3 driver Marco Asmer from Estonia, F3 driver Nico Hulkenberg from Germany, and Champ Car driver Robert Doornbos from Holland are said to be in the frame for the seat.
"He (Marko Asmer) would be a potential candidate for a future test drive, one of several I have to say," said BMW's Mario Theissen.
"Obviously I will have a closer look at who emerged from Formula BMW, because I know them from the past years and I want to see how they develop. And then there are a few others."
Will Bernie and CVC buy NASCAR?UPDATE NASCAR says speculation that its family-owned company is for sale to the same European private equity firm that owns the Formula One group is "unequivocally false." A recent report in the racing business newsletter The Business of Motorsport, suggested that CVC Capital Partners, which manages funds internationally totaling more than $23.7 billion, was the "most-likely buyer" of NASCAR, Inc. from the France family. NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston, quoting a conversation he had on the matter with chairman Brian France, said France's reaction was an emphatic no. France said "It's a dead end story that has nothing remotely accurate," Poston said. "I spoke with Brian. NASCAR is not for sale." CVC representatives, reached in the company's New York office Friday, chose not to comment on the matter. CVC Capital Partners opened its first US office in Manhattan in March "to expand its American business," and already has purchased the luggage company Samsonite for $1.7 billion. CVC also recently bought the GP2 racing series for $300 million, and the report states that speculation has surfaced that they're also contemplating purchasing the sanctioning body that owns the Dakar Rally and Tour de France cycle race. Marty Smith/ESPN.com
11/14/07 According to Grandprix.com, CVC Capital Partners - which already owns F1 and the GP2 series and indirectly controls MotoGP through another company - is negotiating to buy NASCAR. If true, Bernie Ecclestone is probably involved as well as he has close ties to CVC Capital Partners. In March CVC established its first US office on Fifth Avenue in New York, the aim being to expand its business in the United States. It hired a string of private equity people and they began sniffing around US firms to target. The first deal was the $1.7bn purchase of Samsonite.
A proposed new stadium for the team on the current site of Al Lang Field would at best severely impact the Indy Racing League event, which will contest its fourth running this April. At worst, it could consume most of the 1.88-mile street course. Though drawings for the arena have not been released, assuming that designers would incorporate waterfront into plans as with AT&T Park in San Francisco, at least part of Bayshore Drive would vanish, eliminating both the most high-speed and scenic part of a course that has become one of the IRL's most popular, and a gem on television broadcasts. If there is no street, there is no street course, even if designers were somehow inclined to allow cars to race through the park and over what figures to be some sort of promenade. The Al Lang's parking lot - which contains Turns 5 and 6 - would become a park. TampaBay.com
Mallya to reveal team lineup in Monaco (GMM) Force India is expected to reveal its full driver lineup for 2008 in Monaco early next month, an Indian daily newspaper said.
The Asian Age said new team owner Vijay Mallya will address the Motor Sport Business Forum in Monte Carlo, which precedes the FIA awards gala dinner, on December 5, where he is due to divulge the plans.
Adrian Sutil is under contract to the former Spyker team also for 2008, but the rookie German is also linked with a switch to replace Fernando Alonso at McLaren.
The second seat, meanwhile, is hotly contested, with established names including Ralf Schumacher, Giancarlo Fisichella, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Christian Klien among those vying to race for the Silverstone based team.
"From a business point of view, Monaco in early December is the ideal place and time to introduce the Force India F1 concept to the great and good of the global motor sport industry," Mallya is quoted as telling the newspaper.
Self eyes Champ Car future Michael Self, who is scheduled to race in 2008 with Skip Barber, got a taste of what could very well be his 2009 or 2010 race car a little earlier than he probably expected. The 16 year old karting prodigy from Utah took advantage of his free Pro Formula Mazda test with World Speed Motorsports today at Buttonwillow Raceway Park.
"This was a great test day overall, and I couldn't be more pleased. World Speed Motorsports is an amazing group to work with," stated Self. Self was chosen for the Skip Barber scholarship award and World Speed test by a panel of judges, including Champ Car driver Justin Wilson who witnessed his amazing display of driving at the 2007 Champ Car ROTAX Grand Nationals.
"We are blown away by the amount of support Mazda has brought to the North American racing community," stated World Speed Motorsports Operations Manager Mark Milazzo. "Finally there is a solid ladder system that will take a talented racer from karting all the way to Champ Cars. Michael did an unbelievable job today, and we hope we were able to get him pumped for next season. It was obvious to us right away why he was chosen as the Skip Barber scholarship winner."
MLB team owner Hicks to join RCR? Nextel Cup team owner Richard Childress hasn't joined the trend of adding an individual partner to his organization. Not yet, anyway. Childress paused and had a big smile on his face when asked if Texas Rangers team owner Tom Hicks might become a future partner of Richard Childress Racing. "Tom's a friend of mine," Childress said with a grin. "We talk a lot about different things." Hicks, who also owns the Dallas Stars NHL team, attended the Cup race at California Speedway on Labor Day weekend as Childress' guest. Hicks also is a business partner with George Gillett, who bought majority ownership in Ray Evernham's Cup team earlier this year. Gillett, who owns the Montreal Canadiens NHL team, partnered with Hicks to buy the Liverpool, England, soccer team earlier this year for $430 million. Childress said he has been approached this year by several corporations wanting to invest in RCR, but he already has a relationship with the New York firm of Chartwell Investments. "I brought Chartwell in here in 2002," he said. "They're still involved in a small percentage of the company. At this time, we still want to go in the direction we've been going." ESPN.com
Lifetime deal in the works for Johnson? No surprise, if it's up to Rick Hendrick, Jimmie Johnson will drive a Hendrick Motorsports racecar for the remainder of his career. Hendrick said he is fully prepared to do whatever it takes to retain Johnson's services for as long as he drives professionally in the Nextel Cup Series. Money. Assets. Car dealerships. And most importantly, championship-caliber racecars. "My goal with him is real simple -- to keep him with me for as long as he races," Hendrick said. "It's a flattering comment, and I think I kind of knew that," Johnson said. "But it's something we've never talked about or put on the table." Back in 1999, Hendrick made a landmark decision to sign Jeff Gordon to a lifetime driving contract. With that came equity partnership in the company, and eventually partial ownership of the #48 car Johnson drives. Hendrick co-owns Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet in San Diego, and the two have commercial real estate partnerships together, as well. Like Gordon, Johnson presents the unique package that includes both elite driving talent and premiere marketability. He signed a long-term contract extension in 2006 that runs through 2010, but in a sport in which premiums are placed on the aforementioned attributes owners are often required to renegotiate contract extensions long before their current deals are set to expire. Hence, a lifetime deal is a possibility. More at ESPN.com
Indian driver Karun Chandhok is targeting further testing opportunities with Red Bull on the back of his debut Formula 1 outing with the team at Barcelona this week.
Standing in for regular tester Sebastien Buemi who is competing at Macau this weekend, Chandhok showed promising pace, finishing his second day in the RB3 0.7s slower than veteran David Coulthard.
Chandhok’s prospects of a future in F1 have been boosted by Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya’s recent takeover of Spyker and the fact that India is due to host a grand prix in 2010 – although Mallya has made it clear that driver selection will be based on merit and not simply nationality.
GP2 race winner Chandhok is thought to be high on Mallya’s short list, if not for next season then for 2009, but the 23-year-old says he cannot take a Force India seat for granted.
“Mallya’s buyout of Spyker is good for India and Indian motorsport as it gives us more credibility within the sport,” he said in an interview with F1’s official website.
“At the moment people in India have presumed that it means that there will automatically be Indian drivers.
“What you have to remember is that while there is a 50 per cent Indian owner of the team, Formula 1 is a global sport with a global audience.
“Vijay has already made it clear on several occasions in public that the driver choice will be based on who is the most suitable rather than where he’s from and that’s fair enough.
“He was at several of the race weekends this season and saw that I had a strong run in the second half of the year.
“Obviously, I have spoken with him but I’m still only 23, so another year of GP2 will still keep me well within the age window to race from 2009 onwards and also give me a chance to gain more top-level European racing experience.” In the meantime, Chandhok is eager to gain more seat time in an F1 car with Red Bull.
“At the moment I am testing for Red Bull Racing, who are an increasingly strong midfield team with huge potential and I am very happy with that,” he said.
“What the future holds for 2008 and beyond, I’m not entirely sure at the moment but I’d like to think that I have done a good enough job here with Red Bull to get some more testing days next year combined with a GP2 program.
“As for the grand prix, of course it will be fantastic for me if I could be on the grid for that first Indian Grand Prix,” he added.
“It is now a realistic probability and that is very exciting for anyone involved in Indian sport.
“Formula 1 is a global sporting phenomenon with a prestige value on a par with the football World Cup and the Olympics so it would be of huge value to India.”
Johnson to drive with Fogarty and GurneyUPDATE According to AutoRacing1.com sources This deal is done and, therefore, this rumor is upgraded to 'fact.' today. We await the formal announcement
11/15/07 According to AutoRacing1.com sources soon to be 2-time NASCAR champion driver Jimmie Johnson will sign to drive the Gainsco Grand-Am Pontiac car alongside regulars Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney in the 2008 Rolex 24 Hour race.
NASCAR considering separate qualifying sessions Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby said Nov. 9 that the sanctioning body is still studying the possibility of having teams outside the top 35 in owner points qualify as a group, but that a final decision has not been made.
Teams outside the top 35 must qualify each week based on their qualifying speed, while teams inside the top 35 are locked into the field. Because qualifying sessions often last more than two hours, track conditions can change dramatically during a single session.
Several big-name drivers, including Dale Jarrett, Michael Waltrip and Brian Vickers, and prominent teams have missed multiple races this season by being outside the top 35.
Some team owners have said that having drivers not guaranteed a starting spot make their qualifying attempts at about the same time - rather than based on their qualifying draw - would make the session more fair.
"Right now, it's something that we've looked at and continue to look at," Darby said. "But any time you make a change, you have to look at how it affects everything. It's not as simple as just saying, 'Yeah, that would be better.'
"It may make sense for one group, but it might not for another. You've got to take into consideration when you would have those teams make their qualifying attempts - are they the first ones on the track, or the last? There are a lot of things that would be affected by a move like that."
Montagny could test for ForceF1 Although he is currently testing for the Panasonic Toyota racing team Franck Montagny could be behind the wheel of the ForceF1 team contender at Jerez next month according to rumors.
NHIS owner may have to comply with legal agreements A legal agreement limiting alcohol sales and banning concerts, night racing and drag racing at New Hampshire International Speedway could tie the hands of the track's new owner. Earlier this month, Texas racing magnate O. Bruton Smith announced the purchase of the Loudon track from owner Bob Bahre for $340 million. Smith says his company will review the commitments Bahre made to neighbors and looks forward to a friendly relationship with them. Those commitments include a legal agreement negotiated with residents of neighboring Canterbury that limits alcohol sales and consumption in the track, bans certain types of events and requires noise and traffic mitigation during big events. The group, Concerned Racetrack Neighbors, negotiated the deal with Bahre and the Loudon Planning Board in 1989. They say they reached the agreement amicably, and its provisions were attached to the deed and plan to make sure it would carry over to subsequent owners. AP/WCSH6.com
Google might buy Sprint NASCAR might have to change its name to the Google Cup Series before long. We knew there would be a good deal of debris from the news last week that Sprint Nextel Corp. and Clearwire Corp. had ended talks to form a WiMax joint venture. But the speculation that this could spur Google Inc. to bid for Sprint Nextel is a surprise. Floating the possibility of such deal, TMCnet over the weekend said that the transaction, while risky, would accelerate the search giant's push into mobile content by giving it a big wireless network to play with. Still, a deal is highly unlikely. Absorbing a troubled company like Sprint Nextel would be an exceedingly dangerous way to acquire a wireless network. Om Malik of GigaOm outlines a possible scenario in which Sprint Nextel would spin out its WiMax operations and raise funding from Google and others, but he, too, thinks the deal is unlikely.
McLaren to have ECU advantage says Renault (GMM) Renault technical director Bob Bell says it is "obvious" that teams including McLaren will begin the 2008 season with an advantage over their rivals.
Coinciding with the traction control ban, every team next year must use a standard Electronic Control Unit (ECU). The FIA granted the initial three-year tender to Microsoft MES; a collaboration that involves Ron Dennis' Woking based company.
The initial implementation of the McLaren system met with consternation, and a Renault document recently pointed out that "last summer some teams could hardly start their V8s when they tried the standard ECU for the first time".
Renault is particularly annoyed because its Magneti Marelli electronics system was until 2007 regarded as arguably the best in formula one.
"For a team like ours, which designed a bespoke system, it's a backward step," Bell said on Wednesday.
He added that it is "obvious" that teams with prior knowledge of the McLaren ECU will have an advantage in 2008, primarily because adapting to the system "involved a huge amount of work".
"All this extra work meant that resources were allocated to an area other than performance," Bell said.
"It's as if we had to talk to the car in a new language with a new philosophy."
He also said the McLaren ECU is simply not as good.
"The system has lower performance," Bell insisted. "Its capacity, complexity and functions are not on the same level."
(GMM) Ross Brawn already has an eye on his first key appointment as Honda's new team principal, according to reports.
German magazine Sport Bild claims that the 52-year-old Briton, who worked at Ferrari throughout the Michael Schumacher era as technical director, has prepared a 'shopping list' of preferred appointments to power the Japanese outfit's return to the winner's rostrum.
Brawn, to start work at Brackley later this month, said this week that he will not "take a hatchet" to Honda's existing structure.
But Sport Bild claims that Ferrari's Dieter Gundel, currently the Maranello based team's head of racetrack electronics, is one of Brawn's key targets, as formula one prepares for the ban on electronic aids including traction control in 2008.
Brawn said on Monday: "I don't want to take a hatchet to what's here already.
"When I think back to starting at Ferrari, there was no design office in Maranello. We needed to create that structure.
"We have a good structure here already. Honda is much closer to the top level than Ferrari was when I started there," he added.
Is Bruton Smith being paid off to stay? A Cabarrus County North Carolina commissioner considered an outcast among his peers, says the public has a right to know what is being done to keep Bruton Smith from moving Lowe's Motor Speedway from Concord. Commissioner Coy Privette released a private email, which lays out the incentives that are being discussed to keep LMS in the county. Privette says the people have a right to know how their money, rumored at $75 million, is being spent. He recently accused Cabarrus County commissioners of being mouthpieces for the Chamber of Commerce and "engaging in unethical practices" in their efforts to rename Speedway Boulevard to Bruton Smith Boulevard. The commission says what was made public only represents what they talked about nearly a week ago. Since then, they have met several times including one lengthy meeting with Smith. Cupscenedaily.com
NASCAR and alternative fuels soon? NASCAR's Brian France, meeting here with General Motors’ Brent Dewar, that company’s top racing exec, may be cranking up the wick on an E-85 ethanol-gasoline fuel program. Dewar has been pushing NASCAR to go green, and switch Trucks, for example, to some ethanol-gasoline mix, which he said would be a good public-relations move for the sport. France said that NASCAR has begun a test-car program to see just what it would take to switch over. Ethanol is caustic to normal fuel lines, so different lines, probably Teflon-lined, would be needed, although the cost would be minimal. The problem would come with Sunoco, the sport’s official fuel supplier, which would obviously have to get on board with any E-85 options. Engine builders said that NASCAR officials have asked them for some information on how such a fuel would burn in a racing engine. Winston Salem Journal
Champ Car Silly Season We have started our annual Champ Car Silly Season page. We will be updating it throughout the off-season so check back often. A link has been established on this rumors page above.
Gillett Evernham considering merger with PettysUPDATE The ball is in the court of Richard Petty as to whether there is a merger/partnership between Petty Enterprises and Gillett Evernham Motorsports. George Gillett, the majority owner of GEM, said he hoped to at least maintain a commercial relationship with the Pettys regarding their exchange of engines and chassis. "Whether it goes further, that's up to Richard,'' Gillett said. Petty announced this past week that he is moving Petty Enterprises from Level Cross, N.C., into the Robert Yates Racing shop in Mooresville, N.C. He said the move is being made independent of talks with any organization wishing to partner with his. Gillett has expressed an interest in combining the two companies in a manner that would allow Petty Enterprises to maintain an identity. He would not say whether talks were ongoing, but did acknowledge a recent trip to the Victory Junction Gang Camp that the Pettys run for chronically ill children. "I don't know if I've cried as an adult as much as I did there,'' Gillett said. ESPN.com
10/08/07 Alex Gillett still hopes to work out a partnership with Petty Enterprises, although he admits talks have slowed. "What you've got is one of the most storied people in the sport," the co-owner of Gillett Evernham Motorsports said. "There is a lot of emotion attached to what they want to do in the future and who they want to move into the future with. I can respect that. If that means give them space or not space. We did it with Ray." Negotiations to merge Gillett with owner Ray Evernham lasted at least four months longer than anticipated because an underground storage tank had to first be removed from Evernham's property in Statesville, N.C., for environmental reasons. "A lot of people criticized us for taking too long to close," Gillett said. "Well, nobody asked us the question of why. Each one of these has a life cycle. You can't push it." Meanwhile, Gillett said GEM officials are talking to two or three drivers to replace Scott Riggs in the #10 next season. He acknowledged that Canadian driver Patrick Carpentier is a strong candidate even though he has only one Nextel Cup start. David Stremme, who was not re-signed by Chip Ganassi Racing, also is a candidate. "I'm not sure if you bring somebody like a Patrick Carpentier and throw him right into Nextel Cup," Gillett said. "So we've got some other good options in the No. 10 car we're exploring. We'll see over the next couple of weeks where that ends up." ESPN.com
While deeming it unlikely next year, when Sam Hornish Jr. will be learning the ropes in NASCAR, neither the driver nor team owner Roger Penske is ruling out an eventual return to the Indianapolis 500 for the 2006 winner. "If at some point we have our heads above water, we're going to have to ask the question, 'What about we go and run Indy?' " Hornish said Sunday morning at Phoenix International Raceway, where he later finished 30th in his first Nextel Cup start. Penske, who confirmed Ryan Briscoe as the replacement for Hornish in the IndyCar Series, said it's something he would consider. "We'll evaluate when we get there and see where we're at," Penske said. "It's not something we couldn't think about." The 2008 Indy 500 likely will be missing its two most recent winners as reigning champion Dario Franchitti also is joining NASCAR. Indy Star
Ross Brawn to HondaUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.
11/12/07 (GMM) Ross Brawn, formerly technical director at Ferrari, will on Monday be unveiled as Honda's new team principal with immediate effect, according to media reports.
Despite links with either a return to Ferrari or a switch to Red Bull or Toyota, the London broadsheet Daily Telegraph claims the 52-year-old will replace Nick Fry, who is set to stay at the Japanese team as chief executive.
Ross Brawn during his final year with Ferrari
The move follows Brawn's one-year sabbatical in 2007, after ten years technically guiding the ultra-successful Michael Schumacher era at Ferrari.
Honda floundered to an embarrassing low this year, as Jenson Button delivered just six points and teammate Rubens Barrichello ended the first of his fifteen seasons in formula one without troubling the score sheets.
The Telegraph claims that Brawn's talks with Ferrari "broke down" in October.
Brawn and Fry reportedly travelled to Tokyo for high-level talks earlier this month, and the deal was formally signed last week.
11/11/07 Rumor has it that Honda will announce Monday that the former Ferrari technical director, Ross Brawn, as team principal of their Formula One team. The spectacular coup will see Nick Fry, who nominally held the role, continue in the post of chief executive.
Word is that Brawn will have free reign over the whole engineering enterprise and on-track grand prix activity and will start work immediately
(GMM) Jarno Trulli's position at the Toyota team for 2008 is no longer in serious doubt, according to reports.
It had earlier been suggested that the Italian, despite having a contract to stay at the Japanese team next year, might have been lining up a test for Force India this winter as a back-up plan.
Cologne based Toyota has signed a contract with Timo Glock for 2008, and was reportedly campaigning hard to woo the newly-available Fernando Alonso.
"I'm not sure we're yet ready to offer Fernando the sort of package he's looking for," The Guardian newspaper last week quoted Toyota team president John Howett as saying.
But with Glock's seat now in doubt due to the Contract Recognition Board spat with BMW, and Alonso reportedly ruling out driving for Toyota in 2008, 33-year-old Trulli is surely now guaranteed his drive, the Spanish newspaper Diario AS said.
'AS' claimed that Trulli had indeed organised an upcoming Force India test, as have beleaguered drivers Ralf Schumacher and Vitantonio Liuzzi.
But with Alonso out of the frame and Glock now uncertain, Toyota "needs the Italian's experience" to cope with the challenge of 2008, the newspaper said.
Hamilton to raise $100m by floating (GMM) Even without him needing to win a world championship, Lewis Hamilton's financial advisors have reportedly devised a way to immediately make $100m.
Although the 22-year-old rookie is apparently "close to signing a clutch of endorsement deals", the Independent newspaper also claims that 'Lewis Hamilton plc' could be lucratively floated on the London Stock Exchange in the near future.
10 per cent of the company, with the McLaren driver as the main asset and his future earnings the incentive, could reportedly attract $100m, and the Daily Star observed that the scheme "would allow him to pocket a lump sum now and avoid the risk of losing out on future earnings if he is injured in a crash".
Former F1 driver Justin Wilson pioneered the idea in 2003, to raise the money he needed to convince Jaguar bosses to hire him.
Rock veteran David Bowie also did a similar thing in 1997, raising nearly $70 million by selling bonds against his future earnings.
Briscoe to replace HornishUPDATE #5 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' as the team confirmed Briscoe will indeed replace Hornish on the Penske IndyCar team.
11/09/07 Australian Ryan Briscoe, the Toyota F1 test driver between 2002 and 2004 has finally landed a top drive in the Indy Racing League. The 27-year-old Australian has been in America since 2005 when his hopes of getting a Jordan F1 drive were dashed. He signed to drive for Target Chip Ganassi Racing but struggled to get used to the ovals and then suffered serious injuries in an enormous crash at Chicagoland Speedway. Ganassi then had the chance to hire IRL Champion Dan Wheldon and so dumped Briscoe who later did some races with the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and replaced the injured Cristiano da Matta in the Champ Car World Series. He then agreed a deal to race a Porsche LMP2 car in the American Le Mans Series for Penske and took part in the Indy 500 this year in a semi-factory Penske car. He finished fifth. Briscoe will now be promoted into the Penske team, as teammate to Helio Castroneves, replacing Sam Hornish Jr who has decided to pursue his career with Penske in NASCAR. Grandprix.com
Ryan Briscoe loves the IRL oval tracks....not!!
09/21/07 If Sam Hornish Jr. goes to NASCAR, as expected, Ryan Briscoe figures to go to Milwaukee. And Sebring, Fla. And anywhere else Penske Racing decides to test the Australian driver. Team president Tim Cindric reiterated Thursday that Briscoe is the leading candidate to replace the three-time IndyCar Series champion if Hornish switches series. But Briscoe will be tested extensively, particularly on the short oval tracks and the road courses, before he is assigned to the No. 6 car. Cindric said Briscoe, a Penske Racing driver in the American Le Mans Series who drove a team car to a fifth-place finish in this year's Indianapolis 500, wasn't impressive last year in his Milwaukee race for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, a second-tier team. "Before we commit to running him, we want to see if that was circumstantial," Cindric said. "We want to take him to places and evaluate him in our cars." Indy Star
09/02/07 When Ryan Briscoe was a rookie in the IndyCar Series in 2005, he crashed so many cars for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing that some called him the "IRL's Crash Test Dummy."
Rumors are that crash dummy is going to land the best ride in the IRL paddock. "They would be big shoes to fill, that's for sure," Briscoe said at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. "I'm sure I'd have all the right people around me to step up, be competitive and win races. I really look up to Sam Hornish, ever since I came to the United States.
"When I was at Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, I was always watching what he did because I thought he was the best guy out there."
Penske Racing president Tim Cindric said Briscoe is "at the top of our list" to replace Hornish if the three-time IndyCar champion decides to join NASCAR Nextel Cup full time in 2008. Hornish is expected to make his Nextel Cup debut in two weeks at New Hampshire International Speedway in the first race in the chase for the championship.
From listening to those in the IndyCar paddock, it's not a question of "if" Hornish leaves but rather of "when" he announces his decision.
"It would definitely be nice to be considered, though.” According to Cindric, Briscoe is more than considered -- he's the "lead candidate." ESPN.com
09/01/07 Ryan Briscoe could be a contender to replace Sam Hornish Jr. next year in IndyCar, Roger Penske said Friday at Belle Isle.
"If Sam decides to go to NASCAR, he (Briscoe) would be a lead candidate for the vacant open-wheel seat," said Penske, whose Nextel Cup team includes Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch. "Ryan had done a great job for us in ALMS this year. He's matured. I think he'd give a good account of himself.” Briscoe, 26, will be on the pole today for Penske in the Detroit Sports Car Challenge, an American Le Mans Series event. Briscoe will be in the No. 6 Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder, which he'll share with Sascha Maassen of Germany.
In May, Briscoe finished fifth in the Indianapolis 500 in a car backed by Penske. If he moved to IndyCar, he would team with Helio Castroneves, a combination Penske likes.
"Ryan is popular with the team, people like him," he said. "He's good with the sponsors and the crew respects him. He's a great kid, and he's a great race driver." Detroit Free Press
07/15/07 Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti has emerged as a possible replacement for Sam Hornish Jr. at Penske Racing if Hornish moves to NASCAR next season. Penske officials are mum on the subject, insisting a decision on Hornish has yet to be made. But Franchitti did little at Nashville Superspeedway to squelch the speculation.
"Uh, . . . anything's possible," the IndyCar Series points leader said. "It's unlikely, but definitely possible." Franchitti refused to say if he has been contacted by Penske, but his contract with Andretti Green Racing expires at season's end and he will be the top free agent. He also said driving for team owner Roger Penske would be an honor. They have talked in the past about working together.
Penske's leading candidate to replace Hornish, should he go to NASCAR, figures to be Ryan Briscoe, who drives for Penske's American Le Mans Series team.
But IRL driver Scott Dixon sees signs AGR is preparing for a driver change. "I know they've been looking for people (to drive), so something must be going on," he said. Indy Star
[Editor's Note: Other sources have Franchitti moving to the AGR Acura ALMS team alongside Bryan Herta full time. We believe this is the more likely scenario, though we have to believe driving for Penske would be something Dario might jump at.]
Champ Car to dock Bourdais and RahalUPDATE #3 Correction: The 22 second penalty represents two runs down the front straight, not one.
11/11/07 The rubber is being cleaned off the track so the drivers will not have any advantage on the start.
11/11/07 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact.' Both Bourdais and Rahal were doing practice starts during this morning's warm-up in their start line positions and laying down rubber to help their standing starts later today. Executive Director of Operations and Race Director Tony Cotman announced that both drivers have been docked 22 seconds from their 70 seconds of P2P allocation. The 22 seconds penalty represents one less press on the P2P button on the very long Mexico City front straight, rather significant here.
11/11/07 We are getting word that Champ Car is going to penalize both NHLR drivers - Sebastien Bourdais and Graham Rahal. More later....
Hamilton to be McLaren 'lead driver' in 2008 (GMM) Six months after causing a furore by suggesting he was a "number two" driver, Lewis Hamilton says he is ready to step up as McLaren's "lead driver" in 2008.
McLaren came under intense media and even FIA scrutiny after the prestigious Monaco grand prix in May primarily because the 22-year-old rookie suggested he finished second due to the fact that he is the team's "number two" driver.
"I've got number two on my car," he said, referring to his then teammate, Fernando Alonso, who brought with him from Renault the number one.
"I am the number two driver," Hamilton, disappointed to have been asked not to challenge Alonso for the win, bluntly added.
Not fast enough to qualify, Penske to use loophole for HornishUPDATE #2 Team owner Roger Penske said Saturday he hasn't decided if he'll move #2-Kurt Busch's points to Sam Hornish Jr. to guarantee the driver a spot in the first five races of next season. Hornish is leaving the IndyCar Series for a full NASCAR schedule next season, but his #77 Mobil 1 Dodge won't be one of the 35 cars locked into the first five races of the year. As a former series champion, Busch has a provisional that he could fall back on should he fail to qualify on speed. "We have a number of options and we're looking at all of them ... we'll see," Penske said at Phoenix International Raceway. "This isn't all about the first five races. This is about a long career for a great race car driver and someone who has delivered for us for a long time at Penske Racing." ESPN.com/AP
11/03/07 Kurt Busch said Friday that no decision has been made about whether his Penske Racing team will transfer Busch’s owner points to rookie Sam Hornish, Jr. next year, which would guarantee that Hornish would be locked into the first five races of next season. Busch would stay locked in, too, on the basis of him being a previous Nextel Cup champion.
“There are all sorts of discussions, and I see guys buying teams and different things,” team owner Roger Penske told NASCAR Scene last week. “We're right now trying to focus on getting him in a race. We'll look at our options once we get closer to the end of the season.”
But Busch said Friday no decision about a point swap had been made. “I don’t think he (Penske) said it, I just think it’s media speculation,” said Busch. “And so therefore there’s probably not much truth to it. And so I don’t know where it stands. I’ve reached out for Roger and I’m sure I’ll see him this weekend to see what the actual truth is. That would be great if a teammate could do that for a teammate, but yet it’s a decision that NASCAR would have to decide for us, because it usually doesn’t happen that way.” SPEEDTV.com10/29/07 With Sam Hornish having trouble qualifying for Cup races - he has missed all six he has attempted this year - Penske Racing may consider making a points swap to get Hornish into races in 2008. With Kurt Busch having won the 2004 Nextel Cup championship, Penske could transfer the points earned by Busch's No. 2 team to Hornish, which would lock him into the top 35 for the first five races of next season. Busch would get into those races as the most recent past champion if he failed to qualify on speed. NASCAR officials confirmed that a move would be allowed.
"There are all sorts of discussions, and I see guys buying teams and different things," team owner Roger Penske said. "We're right now trying to focus on getting him in a race. We'll look at our options once we get closer to the end of the season."
If Penske makes such a move, it could put a crimp in the plans of Dale Jarrett, the 1999 champion who hopes to use his past champions' provisional if he does not qualify for races at the start of next season. Jarrett is planning to run only the first five points races next year before retiring. Penske said he is committed to fielding three Sprint Cup cars next year for Busch, Hornish and Ryan Newman. A three-time Indy Racing League champion, Hornish had planned to run some races this year and then decide whether to go full time next season.
Button could quit Honda Jenson Button has called his Honda F1 car a "dog" and has once again threatened to leave the team if there is not a big improvement. He of course makes this threat every year, and every year Honda falls further behind. At this rate they may need to acquire some stolen McLaren or Ferrari design secrets to catch up.
"The car was a complete dog and I'm just not interested in racing like this any more," Button told the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
"I remember after Hungary this year wanting to hit something. I'd won that same race 12 months previously and now I was there sitting in something which was undriveable."
"I have to start winning and if I don't then I have to be ruthless," he declared. "There's an option in my contract which means we can all sit down and discuss the future at the end of the season.
"If things don't work out, that's exactly what I'll be doing," he said of the year ahead.
"I'm not saying I expect to win the world title, but I do expect a dramatic improvement.
"I can't be bothered with working my nuts off and qualifying fourteenth any more. It's making me unhappy," Button added.
(GMM) Mike Gascoyne has reportedly threatened to quit Force India if the Silverstone based team signs Ralf Schumacher for 2008.
The newspaper Welt am Sonntag revealed on Sunday that the veteran German, who was dropped by the Toyota team after three fruitless seasons, is set to test for the newly renamed Force India outfit at Jerez on December 4, 5 and 6.
But the Berlin-based daily also claims that Gascoyne, who is otherwise committed to staying at the team in the wake of the Spyker sale, has threatened to resign his 'chief technology officer' post if Schumacher occupies a race seat next year.
Welt am Sonntag says Briton Gascoyne, 44, who also worked briefly with Schumacher at Jordan in 1998, cites the six-time grand prix winner as a principal instigator of his ousting as Toyota's technical director in early 2006.
32-year-old Ralf is, however, a close friend of Force India's new owner Vijay Mallya, after they met through Mallya's sponsorship of Toyota with the Kingfisher brand.
Vitantonio Liuzzi and Christian Klien, meanwhile, will test for the former Spyker team at Barcelona next week, and it is even rumored that Giancarlo Fisichella may have been invited to join the action alongside Schumacher next month.
Bruton 90% certain to move Lowe’s trackUPDATE #6 More proof that Bruton Smith probably has no intentions of moving the Lowe's track and is just posturing to squeeze more money out of the local Concord government.
A NASCAR speedway in York County? Don't start your engines just yet. City and York County officials say they have no plans to pursue a track, despite occasional media reports that Rock Hill would be a viable spot if billionaire racing mogul Bruton Smith makes good on a threat to move his speedway out of Concord, N.C.
In fact, the notion was met with laughter by county Planning Director Susan Britt, whose workdays are spent planning for subdivisions and road projects -- not superspeedways that would be equal in size to a small city.
"This is the first I've heard of it," Britt said. "That's not to say it's not being talked about, but no one contacted the county's planning department or economic development office."
The rumors grew from Smith's threat last month to close Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord because of a dispute with Concord leaders over plans for a drag strip next to the speedway. Smith said he'd put up $350 million to build another track elsewhere in the Charlotte region. A secretary said Smith was unavailable for comment Friday. More at ThatsRacin.com
11/08/07 Cabarrus County officials expect to hear by Thanksgiving whether billionaire Bruton Smith really will move Lowe's Motor Speedway out of Concord.
Smith has threatened to spend $350 million to move the track elsewhere in the Charlotte region following a dispute with Concord City Council over his plans to build a drag strip at the speedway. The city council has since retreated from its opposition to the drag strip, and also wants Smith to proceed with plans for extensive renovations at the track.
One of the many ideas being floated to keep Smith in town is to have the speedway area become part of a new tax increment financing district.
Such a designation, fairly new to North Carolina, lets governments issue bonds without voter approval to pay for some public projects within a specific district, such as infrastructure improvements. New tax revenue generated from the district is used toward paying the bond debt.
The track is a big moneymaker, and last year accounted for $169 million in tourism spending in Cabarrus County. ThatsRacin.com
10/28/07 Anyone who thought Lowe's Motor Speedway owner Bruton Smith was bluffing when he threatened to move his track away from Concord, N.C., better think again.
Although the Concord City Council overturned its original decision to allow Speedway Motorsports Inc. to build a drag strip on the Lowe's Motor Speedway property, Smith, 80, said on Friday that he was "90 percent" certain that he would be moving the speedway regardless of further resolutions Friday.
"Maybe we've worn out our welcome," Smith said.
According to sources familiar with the situation, the new facility would be a high-banked .75-mile track or smaller with stadium seating similar to Bristol. The speedway would not just be a generic racetrack, it would be an attraction.
"I didn't realize that speedway was so valuable," Smith said of the existing property. "We've had some tremendous offers. All sports stadiums, they age out over time. I've been working on a master plan for Charlotte for a year and a half."
As far as the location of the motorsports complex — which would include a drag strip and Speedway Club — Smith says he's looking at an 18-mile radius of Charlotte Airport. He's received 15 different proposals, some including $300 million worth of tax incentives and 600 acres of land including grading expenses. More at Fox News
10/18/07 This article paints a real picture of why Bruton Smith might not be blowing smoke out of his arse and Lowe's Speedway could indeed move out of Concord.
Overheard in Mexico - 5 Mexican driver Rodolfo Lavin was roaming the paddock and told us he is trying to put a deal together for next year in Champ Car. He almost had a deal for the last two races this year, but could not pull it together. He had the backing of Corona for 11 years but they cut back their sponsorship.........Zsolt Baumgartner would love to land a Champ Car ride but he told us right now he has no sponsor. He hopes to at least do the Minardi Champ Car 2-seater program again next year.......Richard Philippe, younger brother of Champ Car driver Nelson Philippe, is trying to land a ride with the top Euro F3 team ASM next year and we hear he hopes to get word one way or the other on Tuesday. He may come back to Champ Car Atlantic in 2008 if not........Speaking of the Atlantic Series, we hear they will probably have at least as many cars in 2008 as in 2007, which was a stellar year.......Robert Doornbos may declare himself a free-agent and shop his Harry Muermans support elsewhere because he feels he is good enough to get paid and whoever he drives for next year is going to have to pay him a salary commensurate with his results.......Look for more Champ Car races on ESPN/ESPN2 in 2008 and less on ABC, perhaps as few as two on network TV. No word yet if Champ Car will broadcast in high-def next year like all the other top series, or continue to deliver in the current inferior resolution that makes it hard to see the sponsor logos on the cars. Hopefully the money saved in being on ESPN more means it will be invested into high-def........We hear that Puerto Vallarta and Cancun, Mexico are interested in having Champ Car do a street race at their beachfront resort. Talks are ongoing. Mark C. reporting from Mexico City
Penske team to lose DHL sponsorship Word is that DHL will not be returning to the Penske ALMS team next year and that they are knocking on a lot of doors trying to find a replacement sponsor. We hear they are after CDW along with Acura.
Overheard in Mexico - 4 We hear there is going to be some very positive news coming out soon about the Cleveland GP Champ Car race. Apparently a major developer is going to take the airport private and do much development around the airport including hotels, restaurants, shops and condos with the race a key part of the development. It will give the event a much better atmosphere and ambiance and will be a major boost for the race. The track or airport runway configuration will not change as a result of the development. We hear the City of Cleveland has really gotten behind the Grand Prix.......We hear that the IRL is trying to land a race in Monterrey, Mexico, we assume through their puppet organization AGR and that Champ Car is right in there looking at possibly going back with a downtown street race. The city has built a riverwalk from downtown to Fundidora Park that we hear is quite nice and very much like the one in San Antonio, Texas......Word is that A1GP is trying to land a race in Canada and Calgary is one of the cities they are looking at......We hear if CDW does not stay in Champ Car with Justin Wilson at NHLR that they will probably do a big deal with Acura and American Honda in the ALMS where the opportunity for more B2B deals is much higher given all the sponsors and major manufacturers in the ALMS. Mark C. reporting from Mexico City
Haas CNC team could shrink, or fold With its owner behind bars for tax fraud, the Haas CNC team could be looking at running one less car in Sprint Cup next year, possibly even none. Best Buy dropped their sponsorship of the team in favor of the Evernham Gillett team. Haas CNC Racing executives have indicated that its No. 66 team could run without sponsorship, if need be, in 2008. Yellow Transportation, which partially sponsors the No. 70 car, has not announced whether it will return next year. If sponsorship is lost for both cars, the team could decide to fold.
More open wheelers headed to NASCAR With open wheel racing in America all but destroyed since Tony George created the IRL, increasingly open wheel race car drivers, teams and sponsors are eyeing a move to NASCAR as open wheel racing dies a slow death. There will be more Indianapolis 500 winners in next February's Daytona 500 than in May's Indy 500, and even more are eying the move as NASCAR sucks open wheel racing dry of all its best assets.
NASCAR's big money and popularity has lured Indy champions Juan Pablo Montoya, Jacques Villeneuve, Dario Franchitti and Sam Hornish Jr. to the Nextel Cup series. Dan Wheldon and Buddy Lazier have expressed interest. A.J. Allmendinger won five Champ Car races in 2006 but was offered a fraction of the money compared with what the startup Red Bull Toyota Cup team dangled to make him a Cup rookie.
"It's the second-biggest sport in America," Montoya said. "Who wouldn't want to be a part of that?"
NASCAR Chairman Brian France said Friday that he thinks the trend is a positive - within reason.
"Some of them, I think, will bring audience," France said. "Hornish in the Midwest, for example. Juan Pablo has brought us some fans. But we're not looking for them to bring us an audience, per se; we're looking for them to validate the level of competition.
"All the guys who are joining us either are champions, or have been champions, in wherever they've raced. They're some of the best in the world.
"I suppose there would be a point where it works against the grain for us. We're not even close to that. We are an American sport, but we'd also like to be a more diverse sport, too."
Overheard in Mexico City - 4 We are hearing that a street race is a possibility in Spain in 2009 or beyond. If so, we wonder if Jerez might just be a 1-year deal for now........The Justin Wilson deal with NHLR is not done yet. Perhaps in a few weeks. Money is always an issue, but CDW's corporate headquarters is in Vernon Hills, IL, which is only 3 miles (about 6 minutes) from Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing's headquarters in Lincolnshire, IL. An advantage compared to any out of town (e.g., Indianapolis-based) team...........Look for Carl Skerlong and Frankie Muniz to be teammates on the PCM Champ Car Atlantic team in 2008. We hear Muniz is real excited about the opportunity........We hear James Hinchcliffe is trying to put together a deal to run Champ Car in 2008, but he tells us if that is not possible, Grand-Am, ALMS or even ARCA are possibilities. Hinchcliffe does an excellent job in the announcing booth for the Champ Car International TV feed so he knows he will always have a career in racing one way or the other. Hinchcliffe is one of the Greg Moore award nominees this year.............Hearing that Robert Doornbos will probably be back with Minardi next year....Rumors of Red Bull leaving Champ Car may be premature we hear. Talks are still ongoing. Mark C. reporting from Mexico City
Overheard in Mexico City - 3 We are hearing that both PKV Racing and the Forsythe Championship Racing Champ Car teams are gearing up to both run 3-car teams in 2008.......Another rumor making the rounds is that although the RuSPORT team is no more after this weekend, owner Dan Pettit will probably buy into another team and that team will run a 2nd car, so there will be no car-count loss as a result of RuSPORT dissolving.......We hear that Alex Zanardi will test a hand-control Champ Car with PKV Racing in the off-season. It will just be for fun and Alex will not be returning to Champ Car as a regular driver so nothing else should be read into this test......Look for Alex Zanardi to compete in next year's NY City Marathon with a redesigned bike. He is going to have to train hard because he finished 15 minutes behind this year's winner, who had a different bike than some of the others.....The Dubai race will not happen in 2008, but things are looking quite positive for 2009. It will be a street race and not out at the remote Autodrome. Construction in the area where the race will be held is an issue right now with the new convention center just a big hole in the ground right now. Mark C. reporting from Mexico
Petty team to make sponsor announcementUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.
11/08/07 Rumor has it that Petty Enterprises will make a sponsorship announcement for the 2008 season, Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. Both Richard Petty and Kyle Petty are believed to be making the announcement.
HOF Racing switching to ToyotaUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Hall of Fame Racing (HoFR) officials announced today at Phoenix International Raceway that the team will partner with Toyota and Toyota Racing Development (TRD) in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. J.J. Yeley will drive the #96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry in 2008 for HoFR, and the team will continue their strategic alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) - leasing engines and receiving manufacturing support from JGR. "I've had the good fortune of working with Toyota in the past. Toyota is an industry leading company and an exceptional partner who is committed to winning," said Tom Garfinkel, owner of HoFR. "We're also thrilled to continue our relationship with Joe Gibbs Racing - a first-class organization who has been supportive of us from day one." Yeley's first appearance in a Toyota in Sprint Cup competition will come in the Feb. 9 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. Yeley earned his way into the non-points paying event via his first career Cup pole on June 15, 2007 at Michigan International Speedway. Hall of Fame Racing PR
11/03/07 Expect an announcement from Hall of Fame Racing in the next seven to 10 days that it is switching to Toyota for 2008, sources said. HOF is a satellite outfit to Joe Gibbs Racing, which already has confirmed that it will move next year. The team will add a second full-time Spring Cup car in 2009 for 19-year-old phenom Blake Coleman. J.J. Yeley will drive for HOF next season, with Coleman doing as many as seven Cup races in 2008. Ford Racing
Indy champ Hornish bolts for NASCAR, major blow to IRLUPDATE #2 For the second time in two months, a former Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series champion is trading life on the farm for a shot at fame and fortune.
Sam Hornish Jr., the 2006 Indy 500 and IndyCar champion, and the winningest driver in series history, on Thursday confirmed he is leaving his Team Penske open-wheel racing ride for the No. 77 Penske Racing Dodge in NASCAR's elite Sprint Cup Series starting in 2008.
Like Dario Franchitti, the 2007 Indy 500 and IndyCar champion who left Andretti Green Racing for a 2008 Cup ride with Chip Ganassi Racing, Hornish believes he has done all he can in open-wheel, and can't resist the lure of money and fame a successful NASCAR career can provide.
The only problem is Hornish has been a dud in stock cars, failing to qualify for all six Cup races he has entered. The string could hit seven today if he doesn't make the field for Sunday's Checkers Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix. Florida Today
11/08/07 Sam Hornish Jr. is leaving the IndyCar Series for a full-time ride in NASCAR, joining the mass exodus of open-wheel stars fleeing to America's most popular racing series.
The three-time IndyCar champion told The Associated Press he will drive the No. 77 Dodge next season for Penske Racing with Mobil 1 as the sponsor. "I feel like this is something that is a new and unique challenge for me," Hornish said Thursday. "It may or may not be the right way to look at it, but I feel like I accomplished just about everything in Indy cars. I got to do more than I ever thought I would."
Penske will officially introduce Hornish as the third driver for his NASCAR team on Saturday night at the Penske Racing Museum in Phoenix. He'll join a team that already fields cars for Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman. AP Story
[Editor's note: We wonder if this was Tony George's "vision" that he would weaken open wheel racing so much in the USA by splitting the sport and so weakening it that the most popular drivers, and in this case the IRL's winningest driver, will flee for the NASCAR promised land? They lost Tony Stewart years ago, along with more recently Indy 500 winner and defending series champion Dario Franchitti and Sam Hornish Jr.. Meanwhile, a weakened CART (now Champ Car) has lost greats like Juan Montoya, Jacques Villeneuve, and now Sebastien Bourdais. The difference is that Champ Car's best and brightest make it to F1, which is considered the pinnacle of racing globally, while the IRL's go to America's pinnacle, NASCAR.]
11/08/07 Three-time IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. will begin racing in NASCAR's top level full time next season. The formal announcement will be made this Saturday night at Phoenix International Raceway.
Hornish will race the No. 77 car for Penske Racing in the Sprint Cup series next year.
Hornish has spent several years racing for Penske in the IndyCar Series. Ryan Briscoe, who has spent the off-season testing for Penske, will be Hornish's replacement on Penske's IndyCar Series team.
Hornish has entered a few NASCAR Busch series races this year. His best finish was 15th at Atlanta in March.
Hornish, 28, will leave the IndyCar Series with a record 19 wins and three titles as well as one Indy 500 win. Cup Scene Daily
Overheard in Mexico City - 1 From the Champ Car teams we have talked to here in Mexico City they all appear very positive for 2008. Not all deals are signed yet, but some are even talking about
CDW is rumored to be going to NHLR with Justin Wilson in 2008
expansion.......Justin Wilson and CDW are still being talked about for the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing team next year with the McDonald's sponsorship going with Graham Rahal. The NHLR team will once again be the team to beat........We are still hearing that the red Bridgestone tires will be even softer next year to provide a greater differential in performance over the standard black tires. However, they will wear out faster and drivers are either going to have to take care of them or use them on short stints only. It will bring a different strategy into the mix for 2008...... We are hearing that Giacomo Ricci has a fair amount of sponsorship money for next year and is shopping it to various Champ Car teams.......We are hearing that Bruno Junqueira hopes to have his '08 deal with Dale Coyne Racing wrapped up by the end of the month.......Tecate is plastered all over the track here this weekend in a big way so it may indicate their renewed involvement for 2008, or so we hear.........More later......
Liuzzi may lose F1 ride (GMM) Vitantonio Liuzzi on Friday suggested that his immediate future might lie outside of formula one.
The 25-year-old Italian, who has contested 39 grands prix for Red Bull and more recently its junior team Toro Rosso, was hoping to rescue his career with Williams next year.
But with the Grove based team leaving Liuzzi out of its newly announced 2008 lineup, he told F1's official website that he might not find an alternate seat for next year.
"As we speak I don't know where my future lies, but I hope it is in F1, if only because it would be nice to see all my Toro Rosso crew again next year," Liuzzi said on Friday.
He characterises the tumultuous 2007 season, in which his initial teammate Scott Speed was ousted mid-season by his Toro Rosso bosses, as "tough", but thinks he ended the year strongly alongside Sebastian Vettel.
"Towards the end of the year, the reliability improved and I was able to remind people of my abilities," Liuzzi said.
MotoGP's greatest rider in history, seven-time champion Valentino Rossi from Italy says he is ready to switch to the Italian Ducati team if his Yamaha team does not improve its engine.
"Let's see how this devilish engine improves. If it improves then we can wait one more year," the Italian told Gazzetta dello Sport. "If there's nothing to do, amen. I have a good relationship with both, but I'd certainly like Ducati because they're Italian."
"I don't think he'd say no," Rossi said. "Maybe he'd like to fight with the same bike. OK, that's a big one..."
"Stoner is not an overnight sensation, but to be the new Valentino he needs to win more, by fighting hard against Valentino and against Pedrosa too. In any case he won't be the new Valentino, he will be Stoner."
"All the Japanese manufacturers have underestimated Ducati this year. "Ducati have been intelligent and aggressive and they have worked better. We were competitive against Honda, but they have the money and the people to recover in a short time, something which Yamaha have lacked."
"Yamaha has never been the quickest bike but this year we were even 15-20 km/h slower," he said. "We have suffered from the reduction of fuel capacity: each time we tried to do something we broke down.
"If I want to win they must make some important changes. We need more capable people and more money."
Melbourne to axe money-losing F1 raceUPDATE #2 (GMM) A wealthy Australian family has vowed to help save the Australian grand prix by redeveloping Phillip Island.
Andrew Fox, whose father Lindsay is one of the most successful businessmen in the country, has urged the promoter of the beleaguered Albert Park race to phone him.
"The phone is on and the door is always open," Fox, whose father bought the MotoGP circuit and surrounding lands on Phillip Island three years ago, told News Limited newspapers.
He said he would "seriously consider" developing the circuit for formula one.
Phillip Island is just a two hour drive from Melbourne, where rising annual costs have cast doubt on the government's intention to renew the current formula one contract beyond 2010.
Victorian premier John Brumby refused to confirm the report, telling reporters on Friday that his government was not looking to move the race "at the moment".
His comments follow reports earlier this week that said moving the grand prix to Flemington Racecourse could be a way to cut costs.
"We're not sort of actually looking at all of these sites at the moment," Brumby added.
11/08/07 Australian circuit Phillip Island has expressed its interest in hosting the country's Formula One Grand Prix in the future if the event is moved on from Melbourne. Andrew Fox, managing director of the Linfox Property Group that owns the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, has said "We'd have a lot of work that would be required to make it an F1 standard, but I can guarantee we'd do it," Fox told the Herald Sun newspaper. "It is one of the best racetracks in Australia." Phillip Island already holds MotoGP and World Superbike events, and Fox has said that he would need a 10-year F1 contract to justify the costs of an upgrade. The Fox family is planning to build a 166-room, five star hotel and up to 500 residential villas at the Phillip Island circuit.
Massive crowds are not enough to overcome Bernie's cost
10/31/07 (GMM) 24 hours after escalating losses were revealed, the state government has refused to rule out abandoning Melbourne's Australian grand prix.
Victorian premier John Brumby, who inherited the race from his predecessor Steve Bracks, questions whether an event that loses $34 million annually is "good value for money".
Negotiations with F1 officials will need to begin shortly if the government wants to retain the race beyond 2010.
"I think the two tests post-2010 (are) firstly, does it remain a good event for the state, and secondly, can we secure good value for money?" Brumby said outside parliament, according to the Herald Sun newspaper.
He added to ABC Radio: "So that's the test and we will be examining these things in much more detail next year."
The Albert Park event was already under pressure, with Australian grand prix chief Ron Walker jetting to London on Wednesday to ratify plans for a more Europe-friendly 2008 start time of 3.30pm.
Former premier Jeff Kennett, who successfully campaigned to transfer the Australian grand prix from Adelaide to Melbourne in 1996, said he believes the current government is maneuvering the axe the race.
"My bet will be that the Labor government will renege on this contract in 2010," he told Southern Cross Broadcasting.
Smith to move NASCAR dates out of New HampshireUPDATE #3 Things are certainly looking up on the New England sports scene these days.
The Red Sox won their second World Series in four years, the Patriots are rolling through the NFL, Boston College is still a top 10 football team and the Celtics are a favorite in the NBA's Eastern Conference.
Unfortunately. NASCAR fans in the area may not be as fortunate.
Last week's announcement by Speedway Motorsports Inc. to purchase New Hampshire International Speedway could be a death blow to big-time stock car racing's presence in the Northeast.
Just as when he bought North Carolina Motor Speedway and North Wilkesboro Speedway, SMI head Bruton Smith will no doubt take one or both dates from the Loudon, N.H., facility and shift them to other tracks within his empire.
Smith and NHIS founder Bob Bahre teamed up to buy the two historic North Carolina tracks nearly 10 years ago and quickly gobbled up their precious NASCAR Cup dates and moved them -- one to New Hampshire and the other to Texas.
Now Bahre, 80, has decided to get out of the racing game and, to the tune of $340 million, turned over the keys to the one-mile track to Smith.
While New Hampshire has sold out 26 consecutive Cup events, its 90,000-seat capacity is small compared to Smith's cavernous stadiums in Texas, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Bristol, Tenn. Shipping one or both of its races elsewhere automatically increases SMI's bottom line without having to turn over one shovel of renovation at New Hampshire, which Smith stated he was looking into during the announcement of the sale last week.
"I have no plans to move anything," Smith said when asked of his intentions. Then two seconds later he said, "But all of our plans are not in place." More at CBS Sports
11/04/07 "I think it would be cool," Kasey Kahne said. "I think we need to go to Vegas twice. We need to go to tracks twice where you can fill up the grandstands and where you can sell souvenirs -- where you can put on a good show, and the people watching on TV can look and see that the place is packed and they want to come to that race next year. Like Bristol and Daytona -- some of the places that we go to where you get great crowds. I think going to Vegas would be awesome."
Bruton Smith shows off the New Hampshire Motor Speedway logo after he announced he bought the track for $340 million.
"I like New Hampshire, but we've got to look at what makes the series stronger, and I think going to Vegas (twice) makes the series stronger. There are other tracks you could look at maybe pulling a race from also that definitely aren't helping right now."
11/03/07 Bruton Smith's agreement to purchase New Hampshire International Speedway raised the possibility of one of New Hampshire's two race dates being moved to LVMS, which Smith's company, Speedway Motorsports, Inc., also owns. Word is that some drivers are all for it.
11/02/07 Most of those extra millions in cash Bruton Smith had lying around for a new speedway in Charlotte just got allocated elsewhere.
Sources confirmed a Boston Globe story Thursday that Smith has reached an agreement to purchase New Hampshire International Speedway from longtime friend and business associate Bob Bahre.
This is the dream deal Smith has wanted for years. Now his options are wide open.
That long-awaited second Cup race for Las Vegas is a realistic possibility in the near future. And the coveted opening race of the Chase could end up at Texas Motor Speedway soon.
It all depends on what Smith decides to do with the two Cup dates at New Hampshire. The Speedway Motorsports Inc. mogul holds all the cards.
Smith wouldn't discuss it Thursday. "Late for a plane," he said. "Gotta go. See ya tomorrow."
He will be at TMS Friday, and a media horde is waiting to bombard him with questions about his new toy. What will he say?
Here's what he won't say. Smith is not going to say he's moving one of the New Hampshire dates to Las Vegas. The man didn't become a billionaire by being stupid.
If someone buys a sports franchise in one city, but plans to move it to another city, he doesn't announce his intentions on the first day.
NHIS sells out both its Cup dates with more than 90,000 fans at each event. A certain amount of respect and decorum is in order.
Smith will emphasize the success on the one-mile NHIS oval and probably say he has no immediate plans to move races elsewhere. More at ESPN.com
Jaguar/Land Rover sale on track, as Ford mulls adding VolvoUPDATE #2 American car major Ford today said it expects to complete by early next year the sale of its two luxury marquees Jaguar and Land Rover, in which Tata Motors is reported to be a frontrunner.
"The company continues to explore in greater detail the potential sale of Jaguar and Land Rover with interested parties and anticipates these discussions will culminate in an agreement no later than early next year," the company said in a statement.
It, however, did not name the interested parties.
According to international media reports India's Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra are amongst top contenders for the two brands. The two companies have, however, so far declined to comment on their reported bids.
Ford has reported a net loss of 380 million dollars in the quarter ended October 31, while its third-quarter revenue was $41.1 billion, up from $37.1 billion a year ago. India Times
08/24/07 The chairman of India's Tata Group said today his company is interested in acquiring the Jaguar and Land Rover units of Ford Motor Co.
"We certainly have an interest in that," Chairman Ratan Tata told the CNN-IBN television channel in an interview, excerpts of which were broadcast today.
Ford, which lost $12.7 billion in 2006, has been looking to sell its Jaguar and Land Rover units.
The Tata Group's interests range from automobiles to steel and software. It has been seeking overseas acquisitions to gain global visibility after thriving for decades in a protected home market. Earlier this year, Tata Steel agreed to pay $12 billion to acquire Britain-based Corus Steel, an acquisition that would make the Indian company the world's fifth largest steel maker. Detroit News
08/24/07 The emergence of at least two US-based bidders has turned the sale of the UK-based units from possibility to probability, but Ford will wait till year-end for their markets to settle beneath their private equity backers.
Ford may have lost the ability to sell most of its cars at profit, but its expertise at selling divisions could set a new industry standard. Rival bidders are lining up for its Jaguar and Land Rover units, despite their substantial contribution to its losses of $12.6 billion in the last financial year. The company says it will wait until the end of 2007 for bidders to set their prices and settle their credit lines, with CEO Alan Mulally saying there is now more than a 50% chance of an acceptable offer coming in. Prospective buyers have been sufficiently enthusiastic for Ford to consider offering its Volvo unit as well.
Former managers of Jaguar are showing a loyalty to the brand that hasn’t always been evident among its owners. One bid for the luxury unit is expected to come from Nick Scheele, who ran it for most of the 1990s before becoming Ford COO and president in 2001-5. But rival bidders are set to include Jacques Nasser, the former CEO who sealed the Land Rover acquisition in 2000. Both former executives have assembled large private-equity backing, Nasser’s from One Equity and Scheele from Ripplewood Holdings. Ford believes this level of interest can push the sale price to between $1.5-2.0 billion.
Potential outside contenders, which include expansive Indian auto groups Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata, are also likely to seek private equity partners if they enter the fray. So markets’ increased reluctance to support the high debt loading favored by private equity could still jeopardize the sale. The difficulties of Virgin Media, already struggling with high debt, in lining up a private equity buyer are thought to have contributed to CEO Steve Burch’s sudden departure this week; and major US private equity houses have Carlyle and KKR have had to postpone their initial public offerings. The big private equity acquisitions that have gone through since mid-year, such as that of carmaker Chrysler by Cerberus, have generally gone ahead only when the buyers lowered the ratio of debt to equity in the deal, and the same tweaking may be needed for the sale of UK supermarket Sainsbury’s to Delta Two. financeweek.co.uk
Komatsu to sponsor Carpentier Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway reported Wednesday that Komatsu Equipment construction equipment is expected to be the new sponsor of Patrick Carpentier's #10 Dodge at Gillett Evernham Motorsports in 2008.
Zolder politics could see different Belgian in Champ Car rideUPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I think you understand in part what is happening in Belgium, nevertheless, I wish that you are not taking sides before knowing more about the intricate reasons of the "Belgian National fight." It really started in 1830, when Belgium became a country from territories disputed between various nations through the centuries and became a royalty imposed by the powers of the time who installed a royal family from Germany to control the land of the Flemish and Walloons (The royal family is Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, which has the same root as the British and Bulgarian Royal families).
The country was first controlled by nobles and the French speaking side got developed because of its richness in coal, which favored the steel industry. Although the “Frenchies” were not better off, the infrastructure was developed further than in the northern provinces. Flemish decided to create a force to show the deficiencies in their provinces. These Flamengants became more voiceful and forceful to the point of targeting the Walloons or Frenchies as being responsible for their problems, when in reality, nobles and rich bourgeois families, including from their own regions, were taking advantage of these mainly rural people.
Brussels was a neutral city where Frenchies and Flemish were cordially tolerating each other, until the Flamengants decided that Brussels was supposed to be a Flemish territory and went on an intimidation campaign, sometime with methods reminiscent of the Nazi.
I left Belgium 24 years ago. One of the main reasons being that I was not feeling at home anymore in my own Country. I was born in Belgium, on the French border and already felt to be at odds with my own people because of my French accent.
I did sympathize with the Flemish population, up to the '70s and before the extremists took over. Flemish are the majority population of Belgium with 58%. About 10% live in Brussels and are supposed to be at least bilingual and about 31% are in the Walloon provinces. More or less 1% of the population speaks German.
The Flemish are blaming Walloons and taking over most of what they can take over and Walloons are losing their industries of the past and not being replaced. Most American companies based in Belgium are either near Brussels in the Flemish territory or are in the Flemish provinces. Unemployment is double percentage in Wallonia compared to Flanders. The great majority of Belgian Embassy personnel around the world are Flemish and promoting the Flemish side of the country.
Now, if Frenchies are promoting their drivers instead of Flemish drivers, is this something new to blame Walloons about and tap the poor ol’ Flemish on their shoulder and be sorry for? Alain Clarinval
11/07/07 Concerning Zolder, the RACB will do the promotion for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Belgium. Meindert van Buuren will probably be in advisory role for the event. Quite interestingly the RACB (the Belgian Federation more French than Flemish) did everything this year to make life very difficult for Van Buuren and the Zolder Circuit.
For a long time there was doubt whether the event could take place because of the clash with the 24 Hrs. and GP dates at Zolder and Spa. Finally they reached an agreement.
But it was not wholeheartedly done. Van Buuren in fact was the one who suffered. He had to drop sponsorship for Jan Heylen for the remaining Champ Car rounds. But Heylen is Flemish remember.
If the RACB will financially help with this event, then there will be another Belgian driver in. Our feeling is, but we can always be wrong, but it is just based on local knowledge, is that they will arrange a budget for the Formula Master Champion Jerome D'Ambrosio. And guess what? He is French speaking. The RACB gave rallye driver Francois Duval a lot of money to compete in the World Rallye Championship. Our guess is that D'Ambrosio could already be talking with teams like Conquest for a 2008 ride. BTW, he is a protégé of Thierry Boutsen.
Aus GP could move to horse race venueUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' Leading figures on Thursday played down reports that the Australian grand prix could be moved from Melbourne's Albert Park to a nearby famous horse racing venue.
The television network Nine this week said promoter Ron Walker had met with Bernie Ecclestone in London and floated the idea of moving the race to Flemington Racecourse, the home of the world-renowned Melbourne Cup, to cut rising annual costs.
But a spokesman for the Victoria Racing Club, which controls the 1.27 square kilometers of land at Flemington, slammed the suggestion as a "fanciful idea not even worth considering".
The Club's public relations manager Amber Sheldon, meanwhile, dismissed the reports as "absolute nonsense" in conversation with the Melbourne newspaper The Age.
"There has been no discussion and there's no truth to it at all. It's ridiculous to say it's a possibility as there hasn't been any talking," she added.
Separate spokesmen representing Walker and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation declined to comment, and a spokeswoman for Victorian state premier John Brumby said the government was not aware of the plans.
Brumby told the Brisbane Times: "There hasn't been discussions and I'm not going to pre-empt those in any way, shape or form or offer a personal opinion on that."
Brumby, whose government inherited the grand prix from its predecessors but continues to finance shortfalls, said the Albert Park event had never generated a profit.
"It's gone from a loss of (AUD) $1.7 million (in 1996) to a loss of $35m.
"I've made it clear I think it's a great event for Victoria, but the costs of it have continued to increase, so if we're to keep the event in the future, we've got to address some of those cost issues," he added.
11/07/07 (GMM) Organizers of the Australian grand prix in Melbourne are secretly contemplating moving the race from Albert Park to a famous nearby horse racing venue to save money, according to a media source.
The commercial television station 'Nine' said the plan, following revelations that the cost of the current temporary street venue south of Melbourne is worsening every year, could save the Victorian government up to $20 million annually.
The venue under discussion is Flemington Racecourse, which on Tuesday staged the world-famous horse race the Melbourne Cup.
The local Nine Network said the plan was discussed last week between race promoter Ron Walker, who travelled to London, and F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.
So secret were the plans, Nine claims, that the state government or the Victoria (horse) Racing Club had not considered the proposal.
Melbourne's current grand prix contract runs until 2010.
(GMM) Fernando Alonso and Renault are close to reuniting ahead of the 2008 formula one season.
Although the Spaniard, who was recently released from his McLaren contract, did not meet Flavio Briatore's Tuesday deadline, reports indicate that the pair have nonetheless nearly agreed a deal for next year.
The Spanish daily sports newspaper Marca claims that 26-year-old Alonso's final decision is still "a few days" away, as negotiations continue smoothly.
Alonso had earlier baulked at Briatore's insistence on a two or three-year agreement, but it is understood that the twice world champion will instead be free to leave Renault after a single season if the Enstone based does fails to meet certain minimal performance and results criteria.
Therefore, in the event that Renault endures another uncompetitive season in 2008, Alonso can still defect to Ferrari or BMW in 2009.
Britain's The Guardian, meanwhile, reports on Wednesday that "if Alonso signs (for Renault) he will be partnered by Nelson Piquet Jr", with Heikki Kovalainen "the most likely candidate" to fill Alonso's seat at McLaren.
The newspaper said 34-year-old Italian veteran "Giancarlo Fisichella has been told there is no place for him next year".
(GMM) One of the richest men in the world reportedly wants to join the multi-million dollar so-called corporate 'super fund' to woo Fernando Alonso back to Renault.
It was reported on Tuesday that the French team had already pooled some (US) $90 million for the Alonso fund, including Movistar, BBVA and current McLaren sponsor Mutua Madrilena.
The Spanish newspaper Expansion now claims that Carlos Slim, a wealthy Mexican businessman who controls the telecommunications company Telmex, has proposed to also support Alonso's return to Renault.
'Expansion' said Slim would demand that Brazil's Nelson Piquet Jr be the Spaniard's teammate.
Just as Spanish banking group BBVA would clash with existing Renault title sponsor ING, however, Slim's telecommunications brands would clash with Telefonica, which was hoping to return to Renault perhaps through its Movistar brand.
Slim already sponsors GP2 driver Bruno Senna through the Brazilian telecommunications subsidiary Embratel.
11/06/07 (GMM) Renault has pooled an incredible (US) $90 million to try to woo Fernando Alonso back to the French team in 2008 and 2009, according to reports.
The Spanish newspaper Diario As also claims that Flavio Briatore, who is still waiting to hear from his 26-year-old former protégé about the offer, has convinced one of McLaren's sponsors to re-defect to Renault next year if Alonso also returns to the team.
'As' said Movistar, a Spanish mobile brand owned by Telefonica, and BBVA, a Spanish banking group, are eager to be associated with Alonso's second Renault tenure, following a meeting in Madrid on Monday.
Insurance firm Mutua Madrilena, meanwhile, wants to switch back to Renault with Alonso, but is understood to be under binding contract to McLaren for 2008. Ron Dennis said recently that none of his team's sponsors are contractually linked with specific drivers.
The three major Spanish sponsors' super-fund to woo Alonso, however, could cost Renault its title sponsor ING, due to the clash with banking rival BBVA, 'As' added.
It is also claimed that even if Alonso does not meet Briatore's Tuesday deadline, it does not mean that he ultimately will not return to Renault next season.
Furthermore, if the Spaniard does choose against Renault, the Spanish super-fund sponsors may simply follow Alonso to his definitive 2008 team, such as Toyota.
Red Bull, however, would be unlikely to receive the backing, due to the Austrian squad's reluctance to sell the advertising space on its formula one livery.
Neighbors to block proposed Penske track?UPDATE Penske Racing has temporarily withdrawn its application for a test track off Mazeppa Road near Mooresville, company officials announced today.
Penske faced a hearing on its proposal before the Iredell County Board of Commissioners tonight. Commissioners have the final say on whether to approve the plans.
"We have elected to withdraw our application to the Iredell County Commission at this time," Roger Penske, chairman of Penske Performance Inc., said in a statement.
Withdrawing the conditional-use application gives the company time to "more fully communicate our plans to all our neighbors and to those others who have expressed an interest in this matter," Penske said in the e-mail.
"This action provides an opportunity for a better and more constructive dialogue, which can only benefit the county and its citizens," Penske said.
11/02/07 Roger Penske would like to build a complex of test tracks at his team’s mammoth headquarters at the Mooresville (North Carolina) Business Park, but neighbors are concerned about the noise and are organizing a fight to try and stop it. Thursday morning a Penske Racing representative met with neighbors to assure them they would do all they could to keep the noise down, but most neighbors say aren't convinced, and they believe with all the new housing coming to the area, in addition to the fact that the Penske complex is in the middle of six neighborhoods, the tracks would not be welcome neighbors. When the Penske proposal went to the local planning board it was voted down 9 to 0.This coming Tuesday, commissioners will vote on allowing a variance to the zoning that would allow Penske to build his test track complex, and a group who oppose the track expect to be out in force. Cupscene
F1 could push Champ Car out of SurfersUPDATE #6 This rumor is almost downgraded to 'false' today. Greg Hooton, General Manager of IMG, the company that oversees the annual Gold Coast Indy 300 Champ Car event in Surfers Paradise, Australia, has reacted to this claim and in his opinion, a Formula One event taking place on the Surfers paradise street circuit is not really a viable option. How many race promoters can one series (F1) bankrupt?
“I have seen those reports. Now I can't comment on what's going to happen within the future, but for the race to come to the surface, I think it's highly unlikely,” Hooton said. “The street circuit I don't think would serve, and also the investment from the state government. It would probably take an investment from 10 to 15 times what they make now, and I don't necessarily think they'd be prepared to make it. I don't think the figures would stack up. So the government, like all good governments, do their due diligence, but I think it's highly unlikely. As the Premier of Queensland said at the last race, she's looking forward to the continued support with Champ Car and moving forward into the future. So I think the governments have sort of already moved beyond thinking about that race.(F1)”
11/01/07 F1 bosses have approached the Queensland Government to host its Australian race in Surfers Paradise.
The Bligh Government said yesterday it would give 'appropriate consideration' to any proposal from F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, but was reluctant to take on 'someone else's $35 million bill'.
Melbourne's Grand Prix contract is up for renewal in 2010 and its future is in serious doubt after a report tabled in the Victorian Parliament this week showed the Melbourne race ran at a $34.6 million loss -- a cost picked up by the Victorian Government.
The losses were attributed to dwindling ticket sales and sponsorship revenue. Albert Park residents have waged an ongoing battle to stop the race.
Speculation about the future of the F1 in Melbourne comes as the Gold Coast Indy faces its own problems, with the long-term future of Champ Cars in America under threat.
Champ Cars has been hit hard by driver defections, loss of sponsorship and revenue stream issues, a problem exacerbated after it split with the Indy Racing League.
Despite troubles in the US, the Gold Coast Indy continues to be the series' marquee event, attracting 314,000 spectators this year.
Champ Car eyes Orlando GPUPDATE #6This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Rumors that the Champ Car World Series racing sanctioning body would stage a race in Orlando in 2008 were apparently that -- rumors. Champ Car announced its 2008 schedule this afternoon, and the closest the series comes to Florida is Houston and Cleveland. Orlando was thought to be a possibility for a season-ender, but as this year, Champ Car's last North American race is August 10 in Wisconsin, though the season doesn't end until November 9. Ending the season in Orlando -- or anywhere in America -- could have guaranteed some interest in the series' late season, but as this year, few will care what happens after August 10. Orlando Sentinel
07/30/07Though negotiations have been largely under the radar, there's a good possibility that the Champ Car World Series, the open-wheel sanctioning body with competitors that include Paul Tracy, Sebastien Bourdais and Graham Rahal, could come to Orlando as early as 2008.
So said one of the series directors, at last weekend's Grand Prix of San Jose. Champ Car's nearest race to Orlando is Cleveland or Houston, so the sanctioning body is interested in placing a race in the Southeast. Orlando and Savannah, Georgia have been mentioned, but sources say Savannah won't happen, but odds seem about even that Orlando will. Champ Car runs many of its races on temporary street or airport circuits, and that is what would happen in Orlando, with the race essentially becoming a three-day street festival that culminates in a Sunday afternoon race. Stay tuned.Orlando Sentinel
Spain on 2008 Champ Car scheduleUPDATE #3 This rumor, including the schedule below, is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement - See Hot News or Home Page.
Aerial Photo of Jerez, Spain Track
This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' as AutoRacing1.com sources tell us that the 2008 Champ Car schedule to be released Monday afternoon will look very close to the following with the series returning to Portland (under new management), but in July instead of June, and Zolder, Belgium (also under new management) back paired with a new race in Spain in June. A race in Nurburgring that was previously rumored is not going to happen as we doubt Bernie Ecclestone would ever let Champ Car on one of his F1 tracks in Europe.
11/04/07 In this original rumor back on September 3rd we told you we spotted a Spanish TV crew at Assen surveying the TV production facilities. Now we hear that when the 2008 Champ Car schedule gets released, possibly this week (Monday), a race in Spain is a good possibility. Word is that the Las Vegas race may be gone, which we predicted when all the bundled safety tires burned weeks after the event while in storage.
We hear 5 USA races, 3 Canada, 3 Europe, 1 Mexico, 1 Australia, and 1 in the Middle East. If Champ Car wants to be a global product, the 2008 schedule certainly will reflect that. Now it remains to be seen whether they know how to market a global product.
09/03/07 Whether it was wishful thinking or just a guess we do not know, but a program that was handed out in the Champ Car Club this weekend had a partial 2008 schedule printed in it. Unchanged from '07 were the first three races - Las Vegas, Long Beach and Houston, all in April. Zolder was listed in June paired with a race in Germany (venue not listed - any number are possibilities) while the date shown for Assen remained on the same weekend as in '07. It was not paired with another European race yet. We have heard anywhere from Italy, Greece, Spain and England are possibilities. We spotted a race promoter from Spain checking out the TV production facilities. With F1 having both Barcelona and Valencia locked up, we wonder if it was possibly Jerez or the permanent facility in Valencia as Bernie is bringing his circus to a street circuit. The partial schedule also listed Phoenix on the same weekend as this year, but of course the program was printed prior to the Phoenix race being torpedoed. Portland was not listed. The remainder of the schedule looked similar to 2007 - holes and all.
The IRL looks set to lose yet another of their top drivers as NASCAR continues to strip American open wheel racing of its biggest assets
If Sam Hornish stays true to form, trusting team owner Roger Penske to all but make career decisions for him, the three-time Indy Racing League champion will be announced on Saturday night in Phoenix as the new third driver for Penske's Nextel Cup team. Though Penske said Sunday a final decision would be made in next few days, he smiled, adding, "My inclination would be to go with him." Penske said if Hornish goes to NASCAR, former IRL driver Ryan Briscoe, who has tested Indy cars for Penske, would move from the organization's American Le Mans Series unit to team with Helio Castroneves. "Our goal from the beginning was to see if Sam wanted to run in this type of series," Penske said. "Number two was to be able to conclude a project with a major sponsor." With both conditions apparently answered to his satisfaction, Penske said it was not of concern that Hornish had failed to qualify in six attempts at his first Cup race and has an average finish of 31.6 in nine Busch series starts. Hornish will attempt both series, Penske said, in the final two weekends at Phoenix and Homestead. Penske could guarantee Hornish entry into the first six races of the 2008 season by applying teammate Kurt Busch's 2007 owner points to his car. Busch would be assured entry into races with a past champion's provisional if he failed to qualify on speed. St. Petersburg Times
Bruton Smith’s purchase of New Hampshire International Speedway has triggered considerable speculation about various possible changes in the shape of the NASCAR Nextel-Sprint Cup tour. But the hottest speculation yesterday focused on the future of Pocono International Raceway, the closest track to New York, 90 miles away.
Pocono is privately owned by the Mattioli family, which has steadfastly resisted overtures over the years to sell. However Smith’s $340 million purchase price for the New Hampshire track could change that.
Some here say that the Pocono venue, with its vast acreage and close access to I-80 (less than two miles away), could easily be valued at well over $400 million, a price that could prove irresistible.
The Mattiolis are close to the France family; the late Bill France Sr. was instrumental in persuading them to build the track in the Pocono Mountains. Winston Salem Journal
Rumors hit high gear as rivals race for Alonso (GMM) Flavio Briatore has set a Tuesday deadline for Fernando Alonso to sign a Renault contract for 2008.
Spanish newspapers report that the flamboyant Italian chief has already sent the documents to Alonso's management to be signed, but the deal is likely to fall through.
Spaniard Alonso, despite winning his first race for Renault in 2003 and going on to secure back to back titles in 2005 and 2006, is pushing for a one-year deal, so that tempting alternatives like BMW and Ferrari are free to sign him in 2009.
But Spanish media sources insist that Briatore's offer is strictly for a minimum of two years; enough time to keep lucrative sponsors on board to cover the huge expense of signing the 26-year-old double world champion.
"Let's see what happens between now and Tuesday," Briatore told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Red Bull Racing and Toyota are believed to be separately willing to meet Alonso's demands for a one year deal with options to renew.
Some experts believe Red Bull is the frontrunner, particularly if Dietrich Mateschitz is also prepared to delve into the additional cost of hiring Ross Brawn to work alongside Alonso and Adrian Newey.
The Spanish daily Marca, however, reports that current Red Bull driver Mark Webber has advised his friend - Alonso - against joining the Milton Keynes based outfit.
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