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2017 WEC Silly Season Update With the 2016 season just a few weeks in the books, silly season is in full swing in the FIA World Endurance Championship, as manufacturers and teams gear up for the 2017 season.
Sportscar365 takes a look at the confirmed, likely and possible teams for the LMP1 and LMP2 classes for 2017, which will see notable changes, including the absence of Audi for the first time in the history of the globe-trotting championship.
UPDATE After a 10-year absence, Formula 1 "will make its return" to France in '18, according to LE PARISIEN. But "against all odds" the race will be held at the Castellet dans le Var circuit, the site of the French Grand Prix in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and not the Magny-Cours dans la Nievre, the host of the last French GP in '08.
The official announcement will be made on Monday in Paris at a press conference organized by the Automobile Club of France. LE PARISIEN.
REUTERS' Alan Baldwin reported F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said, "Yes, I think it will happen."
Takuma Sato will race the #26 Andretti Autosport-Honda next year, after "agreeing in principle" on a deal to replace Carlos Munoz in the team's fourth car reports motorsport.com.
Sato will join Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Alexander Rossi in Michael Andretti's team for the Japanese driver's eighth season in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Two weeks ago his manager Steve Fusek admitted to Motorsport.com that Sato had three favored teams among the HPD contingent but that it was a constantly evolving situation. Andretti moved into prominence because, while RLLR and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports would have to gain an additional engine lease – to the one and two respectively they currently hold – Michael Andretti's team already has a fourth engine lease in place.
Will Monster Energy deal drive 5-Hour Energy from NASCAR?
#15 Clint Bowyer in the 5-Hour Energy car
While its current Cup sponsorship of Erik Jones at Furniture Row Racing has been grandfathered in, 5-Hour Energy's ability to change teams in the future is unclear after Monster has signed to sponsor the series. Statement from Living Essentials (5-Hour Energy):
"Living Essentials is not privy to any negotiated provisions of the agreement between NASCAR and its new entitlement sponsor, therefore we could not speak with any clarity on whether yesterday's announcement has any bearing on Living Essentials' primary sponsorship of Furniture Row Racing 5-Hour ENERGY car and driver Erik Jones. We value NASCAR as a marketing platform and have been a sponsor of races, media, promotions, teams and drivers. We will gather more information in the near future and expect to remain a part of the racing community." ESPN
Coca-Cola's Monster Energy Drink May Be Next NASCAR Cup Series Title Sponsor (2nd Update) UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. NASCAR announced on Thursday at Wynn Las Vegas a multi-year deal that will make Monster Energy only the third entitlement sponsor in premier series history. The length and terms of the deal were not disclosed, but both parties hailed the partnership as the perfect fit for both brands.
"Monster Energy is a brand built on excitement and enthusiasm, qualities that align with NASCAR," said Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO. "This sponsorship position is the most unique in all of sports and entertainment, and we are thrilled to have a partner that will help us further elevate the series. Today's announcement is the culmination of a thorough search, one that resulted in the right partner at this important time in our sport’s history."
Hamilton faces 'sack' over Abu Dhabi behavior (4th Update)
Jackie Stewart says Hamilton should be sacked
UPDATE Formula 1 legend Jackie Stewart called fellow triple World Champion Lewis Hamilton a ‘little ballerina' following his refusal to obey team orders at the recently concluded Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Hamilton slowed his Silver Arrow down on purpose while he was in the lead to increase the chance of his team-mate Nico Rosberg being overtaken. The tactic proved fruitless as the German went onto win the Drivers' Championship after he held P2 through to the end.
Adding to the backlash Hamilton received for his tactics, Stewart said Mercedes should definitely punish his British compatriot.
When it comes to money, nothing is sacred in NASCAR anymore
As NASCAR says it is inching closer to landing a new title sponsor for its Cup Series, sources close to the talks said the organization has been pitching prospects on a deal without the word "Cup" in the new name reports Adam Stern of SportsBusinessDaily. In at least some sales pitches, NASCAR has referred to the Cup Series as its "premier series" with no reference to the word "Cup," which would represent a notable brand change if it comes to fruition.
Whether NASCAR had pitched any companies on a deal that would keep "Cup" included was unclear. NASCAR declined comment when asked about its sales process.
F1 to return to Monza After '16? (26th Update) UPDATE The future of the Italian Grand Prix at the Monza circuit "has been secured for the next three seasons," according to Andrew Benson of the BBC.
Monza signed a new contract until '19 with Formula 1's commercial arm worth a total of €68M ($72M). F1 will receive €22M ($23M) in '17 and '18 and €24M ($25.5M) in '19, "according to a source close to the deal."
The move ends a "period of uncertainty over the future of Monza, which is the oldest race on the calendar." It first held the Italian GP in '21. The F1 group will also receive an additional figure -- said by sources to be in the region of €3M-€4M ($3.2M-$4.3M) -- to "exploit a space outside the back of the paddock formerly occupied by a museum and the rights to some of the merchandise shops at the track." BBC
BMW to offer new version of i3 electric car in 2017
Current BMW i3 at a charging station
BMW plans to launch a new version of its i3 electric car next year with a longer range and revamped design, German weekly Welt am Sonntag reported, citing company sources.
The rumor comes as a surprise considering BMW has just updated the i3 to give it more range and some additional features. According to the report, BMW will rework the front and rear of the i3 and equip the car with a new battery to increase its range substantially beyond the current 300 km maximum, the increase is said to be below 50 percent.
Alfieri sports car to be first Maserati electric car
Maserati Alfieri Concept
Maserati’s first electric car will be a new sports car based on the stunning Alfieri concept car unveiled at the 2014 Geneva auto show, according to Autocar.
The British publication, without citing a source, reports that Maserati is targeting a 2020 launch date for its electric sports car, one year after the arrival of a conventional, V-6-powered version.
The new follows comments made in October by Maserati engineering boss Roberto Fedeli that the company’s first electric car would arrive in 2020. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has also hinted that the Alfieri-based sports car could get an electric option.
McLaren ready to take Hamilton after Mercedes fires him
McLaren's new management hierarchy: Zak Brown, Eric Boullier and Jonathan Neale in the Abu Dhabi paddock
New McLaren boss Zak Brown has said 'never say never' to Lewis Hamilton returning to the team - but reiterated that returning the fallen superpowers to winning ways remains his priority.
After previously spending the entirety of his F1 career at McLaren, Hamilton left for Mercedes at the end of 2012 in search of a new challenge.
"I will move heaven and earth to have the best two race-car drivers in our car," Brown told Sky Sports News HQ. "Right now, we have them and Stoffel is going to be outstanding. Lewis is an awesome driver who has a great history here and I certainly wouldn't rule anything out. But right now, I'm happy with what we have."
In a separate interview with Sky F1, Brown then reiterated: "You can't rule out anything for 2019, 2020. We will see what our current drivers want to do."
UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Malaysia Tourism & Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz said that the country will not host a Formula 1 Grand Prix after the current agreement expires in '18, according to Joseph Sipalan of REUTERS.
When asked about reports that the country was considering halting the annual race, Aziz said, "After 2018 no longer. (From the) longer term perspective, it's probably the correct decision because it's more expensive and no longer that attractive."
Greg Biffle's decision to leave Roush-Fenway Racing Monday triggered a chain reaction that will include the slumping racing company loaning driver Chris Buescher to a rival manufacturer next season.
Buescher will drive for a newly-created second Chevy team at JTG Daughtery Racing in 2017. Roush Fenway is expected to scuttle Biffle's #16 team, and that could make that team's charter available to the highest bidder - including the new JTG Daughtery entry.
Roush Fenway to sell #16 car charter The move by Greg Biffle to leave Roush Fenway Racing for another team, combined with the loss of key sponsor Cheez-It, leaves the No. 16 Ford in limbo. RFR may be forced to drop the car and become a two-car operation -- a move that would see the team sell or lease that car’s charter.
Zak Brown to replace Ron Dennis (2nd Update) UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's news see Hot News page.
American Zak Brown "has received a 'firm offer' from McLaren" to succeed Ron Dennis as its CEO, according to Gill & Slater of SKY SPORTS.
But it is also understood that Brown "has also received a job offer from Liberty Media, the sport's proposed new owners."
Sky sources have suggested that Brown "will make a decision" -- effectively choosing between becoming the boss of one of the sport's biggest teams or one of the bosses of the sport -- "in the next week."
Mercedes to ditch 'dirty' diesels in the USA With consumer demand dwindling, Mercedes-Benz is questioning whether to continue offering diesel vehicles in the U.S.
Mercedes is working to get certification on a limited number of diesel models it had planned to offer in the U.S., Matthias Luehrs, vice president of sales and product management for Mercedes-Benz Cars, said last week during an interview at the auto show here. More rigorous testing procedures by the EPA in the wake of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal have delayed diesel certifications for Mercedes and other automakers.
Oil company's first step to convert stations into EV charging stations?
If oil companies don't convert their gas stations to 480-volt fast-charging EV stations they will be out of business in about 10 years.
Total, the major French multinational oil and gas company, announced today a $300 million investment to install about 200 MW of solar capacity at 5,000 gas stations around the world. The investment is being presented as a way for Total’s operations to reduce its carbon footprint, but what if its the first step to convert the gas stations into electric vehicle charging stations?
As the global car fleet transition from being powered by gasoline and diesel to being powered by electricity, the refueling infrastructure is also bound to change. Gas stations have already mostly all become convenience stores, but they still depend on the traffic from drivers refueling their tanks.
Dennis' long McLaren reign to end? (6th Update) UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. McLaren has officially terminated Dennis.
It appears Ron Dennis is toast. One has to believe Michael Andretti is out there with a big smile on his face about now
Ron Dennis will reportedly be suspended from his role as Chairman of McLaren this weekend, after a legal challenge at London's High Court failed.
The Briton, who has been in charge of the McLaren Formula 1 team for almost 40 years, is fighting a bid by McLaren's shareholders to remove him from the company following a disappointing few seasons.
Dennis owns 25 per cent of the McLaren Group, with Mansour Ojjeh also owning 25 per cent, whilst Bahraini sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat owns a majority holding at 50 per cent.
Ojjeh and Mumtalakat want to remove Dennis, but the 69-year-old is keen to increase his control over the company and presented a £1.65 billion takeover backed by Chinese investors to McLaren's shareholders last week.
Munoz and Daly to drive for Foyt team (Update) UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.
Despite spending yesterday at Phoenix International Raceway testing for Andretti Autosport-Honda, Carlos Munoz says he's hopeful of signing with AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet for 2017 writes David Malsher of Motorsport.com.
Aside from a one-off race for the now-defunct Panther team in 2013, Munoz has driven only for Andretti Autosport since turning his attention to U.S. open-wheel racing in 2011. Two impressive seasons in Indy Lights, plus qualifying and finishing second on his IndyCar debut in the 2013 Indy 500, led to him gaining a full-time IndyCar ride on Michael Andretti's team in 2014. Over the last three seasons he has twice finished in the Top 10 in the championship, and the year he didn't, he still scored his first victory, at a rain-soaked Detroit.
Faraday Future in financial trouble? (Update) UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. The construction company employed by Faraday Future to build its billion-dollar megafactory in Nevada has confirmed that work on the complex has stopped.
The company, AECOM, released a statement to Jalopnik saying that construction of the factory has been halted and is scheduled to resume early next year.
“Faraday Future commenced work on its $1-billion state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in North Las Vegas earlier this year. To date, we have completed grading and foundation prep work.
NASCAR Stakeholders Considering Shortening Some Weekends From Three Days To Two
In one of about 15 to 20 initiatives being studied around the race-day experience, NASCAR stakeholders are "considering tweaking some race weekends to make them two-day events rather than three-day affairs," according to Adam Stern of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL.
The "premise of the two-day proposal for race weekends is that some races during NASCAR's 10-month, 36-race Cup Series season may be better off being held in 48 hours rather than 72." SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL
NASCAR is considering a major experiment to see if it can improve the racing entertainment at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where there has been precious few green-flag passes for the lead in recent years.
The sanction is considering use of restrictor-plate engines in next year's second-tier Xfinity Series event at IMS, azcentral sports rumors.
Plate engines, which restrict engine horsepower, are only mandated at the high-speed banked Daytona and Talladega superspeedways. If tried, and if deemed successful, plate engines could be used for the 2018 Brickyard 400 - still arguably Cup's second-most prestigious race after the Daytona 500. Arizona Republic
Ed Jones to team with Bourdais at Dale Coyne Racing (Update) UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Dale Coyne Racing has completed its full-time 2017 IndyCar driver lineup by hiring Indy Lights champion Ed Jones to partner Sebastien Bourdais - See Hot News for the Press Release.
Ferrari to someday enter Formula E? Ferrari have considered entering Formula E and could do so within a few years according to chairman Sergio Marchionne.
The all-electric racing series has attracted several manufacturers including Audi, Renault, Citroen and Jaguar, whilst Mercedes has an option to join and others have expressed an interest including Honda.
The matter has been discussed at length within Ferrari according to Marchionne, but he said a number of things needed to change before they seriously considered entering.
It appears the long-awaited renovation of Phoenix International Raceway is at hand. Directors of International Speedway Corp., PIR's parent company, met in recent days and are believed to have approved plans to modernize the Avondale facility, azcentral sports was told exclusively by two motorsports industry sources with knowledge of the situation.
The sources requested not to be identified by name. It's believed the cost of such a major project would be between $150-$200 million and likely would take about two years to complete. For the first time in several years, Sunday's Can-Am 500 isn't a grandstand sellout. PIR has lagged well behind the Valley trend to build new or upgrade existing sports venues. Arizona Republic
Following its 24 Hours of Le Mans triumph last June, Ford is pulling out all the stops in quest of class victory in another twice-around-the-clock endurance classic, with the American manufacturer planning a four-car Ford GT effort for the Rolex 24 at Daytona reports John Dagys or Sportscar365.
Sportscar365 has learned that Ford Chip Ganassi Racing is preparing to enter all four of its cars in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener on Jan. 28-29, in what would mark the team’s biggest single-class, single-race effort in North America.
UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today as Daly will drive for AJ Foyt in 2017. Our 2017 IndyCar Silly Season page has been updated accordingly.
11/08/16 Conor Daly will be competing in an AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet next year, according to multiple Motorsport.com sources.
We understand the 24-year-old from Noblesville, Indiana, has not yet signed the deal but that an agreement has been reached and he will partner Carlos Munoz in a thoroughly revised AJ Foyt Racing team next year.
Telitz and O'Ward to move up to Indy Lights in '17
Aaron Telitz will race for Belardi Auto Racing’s Indy Lights team next season, although neither team nor driver are yet able to comment on the deal reports David Malsher of Motorsports.com.
Wisconsin-born Telitz scored six wins and seven other podium finishes to clinch the Pro Mazda title this year ahead of Team Pelfrey teammate Patricio O’Ward. The championship victory earned him a Mazda Road To Indy scholarship prize worth almost $600,000.
Telitz will start the 2017 season as one of the favorites for the Indy Lights crown. After taking Gabby Chaves to the 2014 Lights title, Belardi struggled in the first season of the Dallara IL15-Mazda, with Felix Serralles and Juan Piedrahita finishing seventh and eighth in the points last year, with just one win and two podium finishes between them.
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