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DATE News (chronologically)
Nationwide Series going to Road America  UPDATE This rumor is now upgraded to 'fact'.

"I’d give anything to race there . . . except a Cup race,” said road-racing veteran Boris Said, a winner at the track in Trans-Am who is committed to Sonoma and won't make the trip.

Stock cars aren't entirely new to RA. Tim Flock won in NASCAR's premier division in its only appearance in 1956. Lower divisions have competed at the track, including the defunct NASCAR Midwest Series in 2001, a race won by current Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series driver Paul Menard.

“It’s a really big deal for us, and I’m really excited because this is a new audience for us in large part and really showcase our facility to new fans,” said George Bruggenthies, president and general manager for Road America.

“We’ve had five generations of fans coming to Road America, and it’s definitely a unique experience.” There's been no word about where the truck race may land.

Advance tickets will be available in February. Prices, good through June 9, will be $50 for Saturday (less for Thursday, Friday and Sunday) and $85 for the weekend. More ...

Petronas to ditch Sauber  UPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today with the announcement that Petronas will sponsor the Mercedes GP cars of Nico Rosberg and soon to be announced Michael Schumacher.

12/18/09 (GMM)  The boss of the state-owned Malaysian oil company Petronas has played down reports it is set to remain a sponsor of a formula one team in 2010.

The Kuala Lumpur based company has been a long-time backer of the Sauber team, but the deal is believed to have ended when former owners BMW withdrew.

However, reports in recent days indicated that with the sale of the Hinwil based team back to its founder Peter Sauber, Petronas was set to re-commit.

But Malaysia's Star newspaper quotes president Tan Sri Mohd Hassan Marican as confirming only that Petronas will continue to be the title sponsor for the grand prix at Sepang.

"Next year, we have no team and the only reason for us to go back into formula one is on a business deal, for the lubricant business," he said.

12/15/09 (GMM)  In the wake of BMW's withdrawal, Sauber is reportedly set to retain Petronas as a major sponsor.

With the oil company owned by the Malaysian government, it had been rumored that Petronas might end its long-term alliance with Sauber in order to back the new Malaysian team Lotus.

But after Monday's official media event to reveal Lotus' 2010 driver lineup, Finland's Turun Sanomat reported that Petronas is staying at Sauber.

However, the newspaper added that the late confirmation of Sauber's official entry means that the team might not be ready to run its new car at the first major test at Valencia in February.

USF1 signs sponsor  We overheard, and read between the lines, that USF1 has signed a sponsorship deal with an unnamed energy drink brand. We know it is not Red Bull, and cannot help but wonder which one it might be...we are guessing Monster...but that is just speculation at this point.
Prost's son linked with Renault reserve role  (GMM)  French language media reports are linking Alain Prost's son with a possible role as reserve driver for the Renault team in 2010.

28-year-old Nicholas Prost has driven in A1 and the Renault World Series, as well as at Le Mans and was the 2008 champion in the Euroseries 3000.

Eric Bouiller is a director of the sports management outfit Gravity, with close ties to Gerard Lopez, the new majority owner of Renault's F1 team.

The reports said Bouiller recently began negotiations with Prost's son about becoming the 2010 reserve driver.

Alain Prost, a quadruple world champion and former team owner, has also been linked with the role as Renault's next F1 boss.

Rome GP deal 'done and signed'  (GMM)  Organizer Maruizio Flammini claims an agreement to host a grand prix in Rome has "been done and signed".

The Italian capital has been contemplating a formula one round and in talks with Bernie Ecclestone throughout 2009, with a street layout in the EUR district touted.

Speaking now with Sky Italia, Flammini did not address the speculation that the target is for an inaugural event in 2012 or 2013, but he said a deal has been done although "the appropriate course (layout) still has to be defined".

In subsequent reports, including one published by Tuttosport, figures close to Italy's existing grand prix reacted with anger, including Monza mayor Marco Maria Mariani who hit out at Rome's "arrogance".

Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno responded: "It's not true that it (a Rome GP) is an alternative to Monza.  Monza is a grand prix on the circuit, and the grand prix of Rome is integrative to that of Monza, it's not a replacement."

Danica may still make NASCAR debut in February  First order of business: It's still very much possible that Danica Patrick's first race under the NASCAR umbrella will be Feb. 13.

AT DAYTONA, by the way.

On the heels of reports that her Nationwide Series debut would come the following Saturday -- Feb. 20 -- in Fontana, Calif., everyone with a vested interest in this new wave of Danica Mania wanted to correct the story Friday. In terms of generating interest among potential ticket buyers, attention-needy Fontana was smart to employ the modern version of a banner plane to hype the apparent news.

Too bad for them, but the thunder is probably fleeting. More ...

Trulli, Kovalainen to Lotus F1?  UPDATE #10 Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director of Lotus F1, admits that Jarno Trulli has always been a desired candidate for a race seat with the team ahead of next season. As the legendary team name returns to the sport for the first time in sixteen years, the Italian will line up alongside Finn and fellow race winner Heikki Kovalainen. With one race victory to each of their names, Trulli and former McLaren driver Kovalainen will spearhead the Lotus attack as the 1Malaysia-backed outfit becomes one of four brand-new teams on the starting grid. For Gascoyne, who has worked with Trulli at Jordan, Renault and Toyota since the turn of the new millennium, the preference for first driver remained an easy verdict.

"Jarno was always one of our first choices," Englishman Gascoyne explained to the official F1 website. "I've worked with him several times and get on with him very well. He's also always been the quickest guy I've worked with over one lap and that will give us a clear view of the true pace of the car." More ...

Audi to bring R8 to ALMS  
Audi R8 race car
Audi Sport chief Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich says plans are under way to bring Audi’s R8 LMS production car to North America, perhaps as early as 2011. On this week’s Midweek Motorsport radio show, he told host John Hindhaugh that having the R8 LMS in the American Le Mans Series’ GT Challenge class is an intriguing idea.

“From 2011 on, we want to the cars available to customers in the United States,” Ulrich said. “We will have to build up a customer service that provides the good service that is expected from an Audi car in the United States. I think it would be interesting for IMSA to open (the GT Challenge) class. If we can do something to support it, we would like to do it. We have been working with IMSA for some time in building up the American Le Mans Series. I think a GT3 class (or similar) in the American Le Mans Series is something positive.”americanlemans.com

Vision & DeFerran to join forces?  UPDATE #2 See related Hot News item from Gil de Ferran.

12/15/09 Simon Pagenaud left the de Ferran ALMS team and signed with Highcroft, so that may indicate de Ferran is out of ALMS and will focus on IndyCar.

12/15/09 We heard Robin Miller say that Vision and DeFerran might join forces for a 2 car team. We will keep you posted.
Team Stargate Worlds testing Christodoulou  We just heard that Team Stargate Worlds is testing Adam Christodoulou today. We don't have any other details, but he is in their Atlantic car.  There is a possibility Team Stargate could compete in 3 series in 2010 - Atlantic, Indy Lights and IndyCar.
Belskus "The sky is not falling"  Jeff Belskus, when asked about all the recent layoffs and changes at the Speedway despite new sponsorship for the IRL and other positive results of late responded assuringly that "The sky is not falling"

They have made major changes in catering and golf course operations, and sliced the month of May to cut costs.

Well, this really is not any different than any other company these days in a business that relies on disposable income of consumers. In fact, we can take these moves as reassuring in a certain respect, as it is a sign that things are being managed properly.

Cutting the month of May seems more like a move to be able to fit another race in the schedule. This makes sense, because they can likely bring in positive revenue from an additional sanction fee, rather than incur the expense of playing to empty grandstands for practice and qualifying days that really don't change the race day crowd, which is all the event draws in today’s racing market and overall economy.

So perhaps they have the right guy in there, who is pure business, and knows what needs to be done to make sure the George family isn't eating soup and washing their socks in the sink. After all, it is a pretty big house to keep.

Raikkonen may never return to F1  UPDATE #2 Raikkonen may not come back to F1 by his own admission. In a recent interview with AutoSport magazine, he is quoted as saying that the reasons for his being hustled out the door at Ferrari probably had more to do with Santander wanting the Spaniard. As for his current foray into rallying, it is a place he can drive without taking a penalty to his big paycheck guaranteed by Ferrari. If Kimi raced for another F1 team, he would get less from the Ferrari guarantee, so whatever contract he signed would have had to make up that difference at least, in his eyes. Apparently the offers on the table were not enough for that, even though he says it was not about the money.

As for the likelihood that he will return to F1, Kimi seems complacent, "...Maybe I'll come back [to F1] next year or the year after. Or maybe not..."

Well with a statement like that, can you blame anyone for not wanting to pay big bucks for him?

12/14/09 (GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen's manager has denied that talks about the Finn returning to formula one with Red Bull in 2011 are already taking place.

With funding from the energy drink company, the 2007 world champion has signed a one-year deal with Citroen for the full World Rally Championship next year.

And with Sebastian Vettel signed long-term to the Austrian outfit, rumors have suggested that Raikkonen could replace Mark Webber at Red Bull Racing in 2011.

"At this moment there are no negotiations with any teams," the 30-year-old's manager Steve Robertson is quoted as saying by the Dutch website 4mule1.net.

He added: "Currently Kimi is leaving his future open and not making any decisions."

12/07/09 (GMM)  The door is open to Kimi Raikkonen's signing with Citroen in 2010 to becoming more than a temporary sabbatical from formula one.

Olivier Quesnel, boss of the 30-year-old Finn's new employer, confirmed reports that the 2007 world champion is committed only for next year.

But the Citroen World Rally Team chief told France's Auto Hebdo: "We are not asking for the impossible for a first season, but it is clear that if he progresses and shows the right level then he could slot into the first team (in 2011)."

Quesnel is referring to the fact that Raikkonen, who won 18 grands prix from his 9 full seasons in F1, will drive for Citroen's junior team next year, as opposed to the premier outfit featuring multiple and reigning WRC champion Sebastien Loeb.

He added that if Raikkonen does not enjoy or thrive over a full season of rallying, "maybe he returns to F1". We say once he's out of F1 for 2 years he will never return.

Baguette linked with Sauber reserve role  UPDATE (GMM)  Bertrand Baguette has told a Belgian daily that his chances of securing a role with Sauber in 2010 stand at "96 per cent".

The 23-year-old Belgian's manager said earlier this week that Baguette, the new champion of the Renault World Series, could be the Hinwil based team's reserve driver.

He tested with Renault at Jerez recently, and then at late notice also ran during the same Spanish session with BMW-Sauber.

Sauber has already signed Kamui Kobayashi for 2010, and the Swiss newspaper Blick believes team boss Peter Sauber wants an experienced driver like Giancarlo Fisichella or Pedro de la Rosa to be the Japanese rookie's teammate.

To Het Niewsblad newspaper, however, Baguette refuses to rule out completely his chance of a full race seat. More ...

Berger to join Renault team in 2010  UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false.'  Gerhard Berger has blankly denied reports he is set to assume a leading management role at the newly Gerard Lopez-owned Renault formula one team in 2010.

The news was reported by the respected French publication Auto Hebdo, but Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said the 50-year-old Austrian laughed when told about the story.

"The only thing I know about it is that Lopez has taken over Renault," said Berger, a winner of ten grands prix, a former BMW motor sport director and ex co-owner of Toro Rosso.

Asked specifically about a possible role at Renault, he answered: "I know nothing about any offer.  At the moment there are no talks."

However, Berger did admit that he has received several offers to return to the F1 pitwall, but turned them all down.

12/18/09 (GMM)  Gerhard Berger is expected to assume a leading management role at the newly Gerard Lopez-owned Renault formula one team in 2010, according to the respected French publication Auto Hebdo.

The Austrian, 50, won ten grands prix before becoming joint BMW motor sport director and subsequently a co-owner of the Toro Rosso team.

He sold his 50 per cent share in the Faenza based team back to Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz a year ago.

Schu comeback rumors get even stronger  (GMM)  Rumors linking Michael Schumacher with a return to F1 with Mercedes GP in 2010 are continuing to strengthen.

The renowned French commentator and columnist Jean-Louis Moncet is reporting this week that the German's manager Willi Weber is scheduled to meet shortly with Ross Brawn and Norbert Haug.

There are also further signs that German reports revealing last weekend that a deal is now all but done were true.

The 40-year-old's media manager Sabine Kehm is leaving Ferrari to work full-time with Schumacher in 2010.

"She is leaving Ferrari," spokesman Stefano Lai told Bild, with the newspaper adding that Kehm is to base herself near Schumacher's residence in Geneva.

Schumacher is currently holidaying with his family on the slopes of the French alps, and is said to be likely to return shortly after he turns 41 on January 3.

His wife Corinna told Cologne's Express newspaper: "I trust him to properly assess the risks, and I do not begrudge him his fun."

Express also reports that comeback caps and jackets, and a replica Schuberth helmet painted in silver, are in the process of being produced.

Schu could test GP2 car in Abu Dhabi  (GMM)  Michael Schumacher may take part in a test prior to making his decision to return to formula one with Mercedes GP in 2010.

Bild newspaper reports that the session could take place in Abu Dhabi, whose Aabar investments company owns 30 per cent of the Brackley based team.

The single seater at the 40-year-old's disposal could be a GP2 car, due to the fact that Mercedes GP does not possess a running two-year-old car.

A precedent for tests within the current restrictions with two-year-old F1 cars fitted with demonstration tires has been set by Ferrari, but a two-year-old Mercedes GP would be a Honda, which could not accommodate the team's current V8 engine.

Said Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche in Abu Dhabi this week: "We have signed an excellent driver in Nico Rosberg, and at the beginning of the new year we will know who is the second driver."

Ferrari engine to use less fuel in 2010  (GMM)  Ferrari will have a more fuel-efficient engine in 2010, Spain's Diario AS has suggested.

To coincide with formula one's ban on refuelling, the sports newspaper said the Maranello based team is working on efficiency improvements allowed under the current engine freeze regulations.

To comply with the test ban, Felipe Massa this week has at Mugello been at the wheel of a two-year-old Ferrari single seater fitted with demonstration tires.

AS however implied that some "internal solutions" were trialed. More ...

Carroll hoping to make step up to F1  UPDATE The A1GP champion from Portadown had been most closely linked to the new Manor Grand Prix team but, as expected, it has been re-branded as Virgin Racing and at the official launch yesterday it was revealed that Brazilian Luca di Grassi would be the second driver alongside Timo Glock.

Adam Carroll
The expanded 26-car grid for next season is steadily filling up with only a handful of places left at Sauber, Renault, Toro Rosso, Campos and USF1.

Carroll, who showed stunning form to win the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport for Team Ireland earlier in the year, has remained tight-lipped, only revealing recently that he was “in the middle of negotiations with an F1 team”.

He gave no indication which team it was but, with the Virgin announcement, his options appear to be narrowing. More ...

Kobayashi signs with Sauber for 2010?  (GMM)  Kamui Kobayashi will race for the Sauber team in formula one next year, the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat reports.

The Japanese rookie impressed during his two-race stint at the end of the 2009 season, and would have secured a full seat at Toyota had the carmaker not pulled out of the sport.

Turun Sanomat said confirmation of 23-year-old Kobayashi's contract will not be forthcoming until his teammate has also been signed.

It is believed the reigning Renault World Series champion Bertrand Baguette will be the Hinwil based team's reserve driver in 2010.

The Belgian's manager Manfredi Ravetto is quoted as predicting a raft of mid-season driver changes next year, leaving reserve drivers in prime position to capitalize.

Renault to announce F1 takeover on Wednesday  UPDATE (GMM)  Renault has confirmed reports it will announce its future in formula one on Wednesday.

The French carmaker said team figures will front a press conference in Paris "to present the position of Renault in formula one".

The Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat cited sources in reporting that the group headed by Gerard Lopez has won the race to buy the 75 per cent shareholding.

It is believed Renault, to stay engine supplier to Red Bull, will retain a 25 per cent share of the Enstone based team, including the naming rights at least in 2010.

It is further expected that Ho-Pin Tung, who tested the R29 recently at Jerez, will be Robert Kubica's teammate, due to his links to the Gravity sports management outfit.

12/15/09 (GMM)  Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn has made his choice about the Enstone based team's new majority shareholder and it will be announced on Wednesday, according to new French reports.

Le Parisien newspaper said a board meeting last week narrowed down the selection to two bidders, namely Gerard Lopez and David Richards, and Ghosn was set to personally chose on Monday.

On Tuesday the contract will reportedly be signed, ahead of public confirmation some 24 hours later.

Team boss Bob Bell is said to have addressed staff about the takeover at the Enstone headquarters last Friday, clarifying that Robert Kubica is still lined up as the lead driver.

Le Parisien mentioned Kamui Kobayashi and Nick Heidfeld as the likely candidates to be the Pole's teammate.

The team will continue to be called Renault for the next two years, with the carmaker to continue to own the Viry-Chatillon headquarters in order to remain an engine supplier to customer teams like Red Bull.

Virgin drivers say Schumacher is surely coming back  Virgin Racing driver Timo Glock says he is almost certain that countryman Michael Schumacher will make a return to the F1 grid for the 2010 season.

Schumacher, who retired from racing at the end of the 2006 season, had been set to make a comeback earlier this year with Ferrari before concerns over a neck injury he sustained in a motorbike accident forced him to shelve plans to step in as a replacement for the injured Felipe Massa.

Having now had more time to recover from the injury, Schumacher has found himself at the centre of mounting speculation about a move to Mercedes GP for 2010, with the German newspaper Bild suggesting at the weekend that the announcement of a deal could be imminent.

That was followed by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo telling the news agency Reuters that the Scuderia wouldn’t stand in Schumacher’s way if he wanted to make a return to racing – although the Italian conceded that he hadn’t spoken to Schumacher about the speculation.

Speaking at the launch of the Virgin Racing program, where Lucas di Grassi was confirmed as his team-mate for 2010, former Toyota driver Glock said that his feeling was that it was ‘obvious’ that Schumacher will return to the sport in an attempt to add to his already glittering resume and that it would be a ‘mega highlight’ for the sport.

“The flame is still there, it’s still burning and it will be great if he returns,” Glock told reporters. “For me, my personal feeling, it’s quite obvious he is coming back.

"There's still a lot of speculation, but in the end he is a crazy race driver and he wants to come back to racing. It's not enough for him to just do go-kart races, or go to the Race of Champions at the end of the year.

"For Formula 1 and the fans it would be a big boost, a seven-time world champion coming back after three years out. It would be a mega highlight, and to drive for Mercedes, you would have a German driver in a German car." YahooEuroSportUK

New F1 points system could be scrapped  (GMM)  F1's new points system could be scrapped before the first race in 2010 for two reasons, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

The report claims the system was adopted illegally by the F1 Commission, and subsequently ratified by the World Motor Sport Council.

Auto Motor und Sport said the F1 Commission, which had not met for several years prior to its recent Monaco meeting, can only vote on desired rule changes that are put forward in full by the Sporting and Technical Working Groups.

It is revealed, however, that the sporting group discussed the points system for only two minutes during its 4 December meeting, with only USF1's Peter Windsor pushing for a change.

Meanwhile, the FIA has confirmed that the new points system, awarding points down to tenth place, was devised due to "the expanded grid of 13 teams".

But if fewer than 13 teams ultimately turn up in Bahrain next March, F1 could face a situation where nearly half of the entire grid is awarded points at the end of races.

Lotus signs Fauzy  UPDATE #2 (GMM)  Fairuz Fauzy could be promoted to a race seat at Lotus, team boss Tony Fernandes has admitted.  Kuala Lumpur born Fauzy, 27, was on Monday named the third driver for the new Malaysian-owned team that will feature grand prix winners Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen in the race cars in 2010.  But Malaysian entrepreneur Fernandes is quoted as saying by the local Star newspaper: "There a possibility of him (Fauzy) being fielded as a driver during race day, no doubt about it.

"But the important thing is not whether he gets to race next season, but how he develops into a mature F1 driver," he added.

Fauzy, with experience in GP2, A1 and the Renault World Series and a brief stint as a Spyker test driver in F1, confirmed that the objective of his full-time role with Lotus is to graduate to the grid.

"It's every driver's dream to be an F1 driver, so of course I want to be the main driver.

"But I have to start somewhere to gain experience, just like many other F1 drivers like Kubica, Rosberg and even Kovalainen, who all started out as test drivers before," he added. More ...

Schu to test Mercedes prior to signing deal - reports  
It will be funny not seeing Schumacher in a red Ferrari
(GMM)  Mercedes could organize a formula one test for Michael Schumacher before he commits to returning to the grid in 2010, according to reports out of Italy and Germany.

Citing the German newspaper Bild, the website of Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport claims a two-year old car could be made available to the 40-year-old, who had to call off his return for Ferrari this year due to neck pain.

A two-year-old Mercedes GP car would presumably be the Brackley built 2007 Honda.

Despite the test restrictions, a precedent for tests in two-year-old cars with demonstration tires was set in 2009 by Ferrari, who organized tests for Felipe Massa as well as Schumacher.

Reports also claim Schumacher is set to meet in the middle of this week with Luca di Montezemolo, but the Ferrari president has already indicated that the verbal agreement for a new three-year consultancy deal will not prevent the German from signing with Mercedes.

Asked in a Reuters news report if Schumacher's Ferrari deal would be enforced, the Italian replied: "No, (it's) not binding.

"I still haven't spoken to him about it.  He is only a dear friend, not a team member.  He is a consultant for our road cars," added Montezemolo.

Campos still seeking to sign de la Rosa  (GMM)  The new Spanish team Campos has clarified reports that suggested it is not likely to sign a Spanish driver for the 2010 season.

Campos-Meta has already signed Bruno Senna, but reported problems with sponsorship meant that the team's desired second driver Pedro de la Rosa was now looking elsewhere.

"As of today the possibility exists that the seat we have left is to be occupied by a Spanish driver," team president Jose Ramon Carabante said.

"Of course, for us, it would be a dream that it is Pedro de la Rosa," he added, referring to the 38-year-old McLaren tester. More ...

track news
With lawsuit behind them look for Kentucky to get Cup date in 2011  NASCAR Chairman Brian France wouldn’t say Friday when Kentucky Speedway would get a Sprint Cup date but obviously was pleased with the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which affirmed a lower court’s summary judgment ruling in favor of NASCAR and sister company International Speedway Corp. in an antitrust lawsuit brought by the former owners of Kentucky Speedway.

NASCAR has told new Kentucky owner Speedway Motorsports Inc. that it would not consider a realignment request until the case is resolved. The founders of Kentucky Speedway have only two potential appeals left: They can ask for a hearing in front of all of the 24 appeals court judges, and they can also appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Both avenues are considered longshots.

“We’re very pleased obviously,” France said. “I’m not going to have any comment on when a Cup race can be there other than to say we’re just very pleased. It validates our business model and everything else. It’s a big, big ruling.”

SMI Chairman Bruton Smith said he expects to have a Cup race at Kentucky in 2011.

“This is a big win for NASCAR and a big win for the sport of stock-car racing,” Smith said in a statement, which did not address which track would lose a date in the realignment request. “But the biggest winners will be the fans who want a Sprint Cup race in Kentucky. Now we can grow Speedway Motorsports with an expansion plan for the future of Kentucky Speedway.

“That’s our intention moving forward. Our goal has been to host a Sprint Cup race at that facility and now we can work toward making that happen." Scenedaily.com

Hamilton Sr. to buy F1 team?  There are still plenty of rumors swirling around the future of Renault with the Prodrive and Lopez bids apparently not the only ones under discussion. According to French sources there has also been interest from Addax, the GP2 which is owned by Alejandro Agag, the well-connected Spaniard who has been a little too close to Flavio Briatore for comfort in the past. He is also the son-in-law of former Spanish Prime Minister (1996-2004) José María Aznar. There has even been talk of Craig Pollock making a comeback. The Scot, who ran BAR for some years, is often rumored to be thinking about a return to the sport but seems to be happy enough doing business in other spheres and has not been seen in the paddock for some time. More ...
Full Nationwide season for Harvick?  Defending Nationwide Series champion Kyle Busch says he still plans on running 25 races next season but is tempted to try the full schedule again after learning Cup drivers Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick also might try to run both series full time. "We can't let Carl and Kevin walk over everyone," Busch said with a laugh. "We've got to give them a run for their money." USA Today
Valvoline to sponsor Kenseth  Jayski rumors that Valvoline will sponsor Matt Kenseth in a few 2010 Sprint Cup races. No word how many or which races.
Addington to change Busch brothers  Jayski rumors that former Kyle Busch crew chief, Steve Addington, will become the new crew chief for Kurt Busch at Penske Racing. Announcement could come early next week.
Kentucky could get 2011 Cup race  A federal appeal court's decision against Kentucky Speedway could actually help the track get a NASCAR Sprint Cup date as soon as 2011.

A three-judge panel from the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's decision against the founders of Kentucky Speedway that NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. violated federal antitrust laws by not giving the track a Sprint Cup race.

Few options remain for the track's founders, who sold the track in May 2008 to Speedway Motorsports Inc., which is led by Bruton Smith. Jerry Carroll, a member of the founder's group, told the Associated Press that the group would decide what to do next week but suggested that the case might not continue. More ...

Di Grassi to Virgin, Lotus ready to name drivers  (GMM) On the same day that Lucas di Grassi announced he will be on the F1 grid in 2010, Lotus boss Tony Fernandes said he is en route to Malaysia with two newly-signed drivers.

But it is expected that Brazilian di Grassi, Renault's reserve as well as a GP2 driver in 2009, will actually drive for the new Virgin team, which will be launched officially in London on Tuesday.

"I am well prepared to arrive in formula one," he told Globo. "I believe Virgin will be the best of the new teams. I spoke with all four of them," he added.

Reportedly at the head of the queue for a Lotus seat, meanwhile, is the Italian veteran Jarno Trulli.

The Malaysian team's boss Fernandes wrote on his Twitter on Friday: "Bringing home two drivers for the Lotus F1 team. Announcement Monday."
Stick a fork in yet another USA oval, it's almost done  UPDATE #2 Here is a link to a copy of the letter that was sent to the Wisconsin Sate Fair Park Board by the promoters.  More evidence of the Wisconsin State Fair Park board trying to kill the Milwaukee Mile racetrack.

12/11/09 At least officially, the Wisconsin State Fair and NASCAR say that the two races set for next summer at the Milwaukee Mile are still on the schedule. The two races are the Camping World truck series race on June 18 and the Nationwide Series race on June 19.

"We still have the races on our schedule," said Ramsey Poston, a NASCAR spokesman. Craig Barkelar, interim executive director of the State Fair, said the same thing.

However, race sources say the clock is ticking. After striking out twice with potential race promoters this year, and with a third promoter who went out of business last summer, State Fair officials are running out of options.

A known interested party is race entrepreneur Scott Quick, of Brainerd, Minn. In a brief interview recently, he expressed interest in becoming the promoter, but said much work needed to be done.

To that end, Quick has been talking to NASCAR officials as well as Indy Racing League executives. For now, IRL has not scheduled any events at the Mile in 2010. As a practical matter, it is going to be difficult for any promoter to land corporate sponsorships AND sell tickets this late in the game. NASCAR knows that. State Fair, meanwhile, say they hope something can be worked out soon. Gov. Doyle's administration is on record as saying that the fair needs and wants racing to continue next season and beyond.

Right now, the prospects are not looking very good. JSonline.com

12/08/09 Scott Quick, a Minnesota racing entrepreneur who is expected to talk to Wisconsin State Fair Park officials soon about running the Milwaukee Mile, is talking to officials at the Indy Racing League and NASCAR.

Quick is talking to the major racing bodies to determine if they still have an interest in racing at the Mile. NASCAR has scheduled two races next summer, but those races are in doubt right now. IRL has not scheduled anything for next season. jsonline.com

Quick isn't talking to the media. Craig Barkelar, the fair's interim executive director, wouldn't talk about Quick, but said he expected there would be more to say in the next week.

It has been a rough year at the Mile, with one promoter leaving a big bill behind from last summer's races. Then, two different potential promoters were unable to seal the deal with the State Fair.

Busch to announce race team  UPDATE #2 see related news story

12/11/09 NASCAR driver Kyle Busch today is expected to announce plans to "join the team owner ranks" in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Busch reportedly plans to purchase the assets of the Toyota truck team currently known as Xpress Motorsports. Busch's agent Jeff Dickerson said that the new Kyle Busch Motorsports "would field multiple trucks." Busch is the reigning Nationwide Series champion  SCENEDAILY.com

12/09/09 SPEED will interrupt regularly scheduled programming Friday at 2 p.m. ET to air a press conference with NASCAR driver Kyle Busch live from the SPEED studios in Charlotte. Busch, who raced in 86 races across NASCAR’s three national series in 2009, winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series title, is expected to announce a major initiative in the sport for 2010 and beyond.  Rick Allen will host the conference for SPEED.
NASCAR will eventually take all the IRL's top stars  First Danica and now Milka (see related news item). The two most popular drivers in IndyCar may eventually be stock car drivers. IndyCar Series regular Milka Duno will make her stock-car debut during the ARCA Series test at Daytona International Speedway Dec. 18-20, driving Braun Racing's No. 90 Toyota. “This will be a new challenge for me and one that I’ve been looking forward to,” Duno said. “I know it won’t be easy – it will be hard work – but work that I’m ready to take on.”

Duno holds the record for the best finish by a female driver in the 24 Hours of Daytona with a second-place overall finish in 2007. Duno competed in the American Le Mans Series in 2001 and has competed in the Rolex and IndyCar ranks and says she has had previous opportunities to compete in a stock car. “My goal was to reach open-wheel racing in the United States and the Indy 500,” said Milka, “I just completed my third season in IndyCar and this year I decided not to once again pass on an opportunity to get behind the wheel of a stock car.” Braun Racing, which now fields entries in the Nationwide Series, began as an ARCA team in 2002. "Milka and I met and I expressed an interest in her testing for NASCAR and she expressed interest as well - and we were more than happy to make that a reality," team owner Todd Braun said. "She is a very talented driver and has experienced success in both sports car and open-wheel racing - the natural progression would be for her to drive a stock car. I have always enjoyed working with drivers new to NASCAR and I look forward to the test with Milka." SceneDaily.com
Mercedes to offer 7m euros for Schu return  (GMM)  Mercedes is reportedly proposing to pay Michael Schumacher 7 million euros if he agrees to return to F1 as Nico Rosberg's teammate in 2010.  Bild newspaper said the offer, which is the same one offered to Jenson Button prior to the new world champion's switch to McLaren, will be made by the German marque's competition boss Norbert Haug. Schumacher, 40, made much more money at Ferrari until 2006, and still makes 5m a year as an advisor to the Italian team, but Bild said Mercedes cannot afford to offer the German any more.

Niki Lauda told the newspaper he is certain "money will not play a role" in Schumacher's decision about whether to re-launch his 16-year F1 career.

Mercedes team chief executive Nick Fry said at the Motor Sport Business Forum in Monaco on Thursday that an announcement about Rosberg's teammate is not likely before Christmas.  "We might say something before Christmas, but it's more likely to be the beginning of January," he is quoted as saying by the Times.

Renault and Toyota to quit F1  UPDATE #9 This rumor is essentially 'fact' now as Toyota is gone and Renault is 75% gone.  How long before they are 100% gone.  Honda, BMW, Toyota and now Renault.  Who will be next?  The very manufacturers who fought for Mosley's removal as President of the FIA after he ram-rodded much needed F1 cost saving measures down their throat, are now scurrying away like rats off a sinking ship because they can no longer afford F1.  Thankfully for F1, the genius of Mosley allowed him to get his cost saving measures through before he was gone and we now long life engines, standard ECUs, standard tires, private teams again and customer engines from an independent supplier like Cosworth.

12/04/09 Renault remains quiet about the executive committee meeting yesterday during which the future of the company in Formula 1 was one of the subjects under discussion. According to the latest sources in France the company has been looking for an exit strategy which will allow the company to leave without breaking the Concorde Agreement. Although it is believed that there are no sanctions specifically mentioned in the agreement, it is nonetheless a binding legal document and the signatories can therefore seek compensation if any party fails to keep its commitments. Clause 4.2 states that “each team undertakes to participate in the FIA F1 Championship each year for the duration of the term and to participate in every event”.

There are believed to be various get-out clauses for force majeure, such as wars, earthquakes, revolutions and so on but these do not cover lack of funding nor a management change of mind.

The agreement does allow for a team to be sold to another party and such a team can be renamed if the F1 Commission agrees. The situation is believed to be rather more complicated than originally thought, with two groups wishing to take over the team: one is popular with the Renault management in Paris; the other with the top management of the team in England. The danger is that if Renault sells the team to the wrong group, the major players will depart. Several are believed to have jobs lined up already. More ...

Virgin to ditch Brawn GP for Manor?  UPDATE #5 (GMM)  Virgin will next week finally confirm F1's worst kept secret.  Even though the news has been known unofficially for months, and then confirmed by the FIA with the recent publication of its entry list, the high profile brand headed by Sir Richard Branson is now set to announce its tie-up with the new F1 team Manor.  The media event to launch 'Virgin Racing' will take place at London's Louise Blouin Foundation building on Tuesday morning.

11/30/09 This rumor is updated to 'fact' today.  The FIA published the 2010 FIA F1 entry list and the Manor team was entered as Virgin .

11/10/09 Virgin agreed to sponsor the team just before the season began in March, just weeks after Brawn had secured their survival in the wake of Honda's decision to pull out of the sport.

The decision paid off as Jenson Button took the Drivers' Championship, with his efforts and those of team-mate Rubens Barrichello also enough for Brawn to take the Constructors' title.

But team principal Brawn has conceded that he does not expect the Virgin partnership to continue as his all-conquering team look to repeat their success in 2010.

"We had a great year with Virgin but they have different ambitions next year so it's unlikely you will see their name on the car next year," he said. More ...
Max Mosley proven right again as yet another manufacturer jumps ship  UPDATE (GMM)  In a meeting on Thursday, it is believed the French carmaker Renault decided to stay in formula one in 2010 but sell the majority of its Enstone based team.

France's Auto Hebdo reports that while a board decision was indeed taken on Thursday, an announcement is not expected for "several days".

In Britain, news of the sale decision was reported by authoritative sources including the BBC, and subsequently the Guardian, Times and Daily Telegraph dailies.

Gerard Lopez has been mentioned as the favorite for the up to 75 per cent buyout, but David Richards' Prodrive and perhaps two additional bidders have been linked with the team that won world championships in 2005 and 2006.

The BBC said team staff, likely to continue to work under the Renault F1 banner in 2010, will be informed on Friday. More ...

New IndyCar might be wingless and flexible  
Could this be the wingless car designer Ben Bowlby is designing?
According to this SPEEDTV.com article, one of the new IndyCar designs fairly well advanced is a lightweight car with no wings and a 4-cyclinder engine that is not a stressed member.  What that means is that the chassis will flex like an old flexible flyer snow sled and be a real handful to drive and setup.  Couple that with no wings to balance the car and we could see cars moving and dancing all over the track.  That could actually result in a more entertaining racing product because drivers will be more prone to mistakes.
Another sponsor leaving NASCAR  On a recent newsletter from Farm Bureau Insurance, it was posted: As the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup season comes to a close, so does Farm Bureau Insurance's sponsorship relationship with Joe Gibbs Racing. We want to thank Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and David Gilliland, and all of our loyal fans and customers for your support. Sponsoring a JGR car in six races: Darlington, Atlanta (2nd), Charlotte (2nd), Martinsville (2nd), Texas (2nd) and Homestead. Once again, all of us at Farm Bureau Insurance would like to thank our fans. It was great seeing you at the track, and it has been a truly rewarding experience working with the professional and dedicated team at Joe Gibbs Racing in both the 2008 and 2009 sponsorships of the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Sprint Cup series. This will be the last correspondence from Farm Bureau Insurance Racing. farmbureauinsuranceracing.com
Lotus Cars likely to buy into F1 team  (GMM)  The link between the new Malaysian owned Lotus team and the Lotus Cars company is set to grow in the future, according to Tony Fernandes.

The 45-year-old Malaysian entrepreneur and AirAsia chief is, through his company Tune Group, one of the largest investors of the 2010 entrant and also the team principal.

Also known as 1Malaysia, the outfit uses the famous Lotus name under license by Proton, the owners of the British sports car maker Lotus Cars.

But Lotus F1's affiliation with Lotus Cars, headed by former Red Bull and Ferrari bigwig Dany Bahar, actually extends no further than that at present.

"Over time that relationship will grow," Fernandes said at the Motor Sport Business Forum in Monaco, according to F1's official website. More ...

Valencia tipped for second Ferrari World theme park  (GMM)  Another 'Ferrari World' theme park could be built in the Spanish port city Valencia, according to the El Mundo newspaper.

With Abu Dhabi owning a small percentage of the famous Italian marque, the United Arab Emirates developer Aldar Properties recently completed the basic structure of the impressive bright red building on Yas Island -- complete with an enormous Ferrari logo on the roof visible from the nearby formula one track.

But it emerged earlier this year that other locations were also being sought to host a second Ferrari World, and Valencia - also featuring a grand prix - is reportedly the European frontrunner.

Francisco Camps, president of the Generalitat Valenciana administration, reportedly visited Yas Island and has an excellent relationship with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, the Marca sports newspaper said.

"At the moment, we are focused on the project of Abu Dhabi," a Ferrari source said, "but yes, if the idea works there then it can work elsewhere as well."

USF1 picks test driver  UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, This is getting embarrassing.  A 42 year old test driver?  First USF1 very publically announced a few months ago that it turned down several experienced open wheel European buy a ride drivers because it was ‘only interested in hiring the best professional driver’ to pair with a young proven open wheel American.  Then it turns out they are trying to sign an South American driver with very limited open wheel experience but backers able to pay north of ten million dollars for a seat. 

Now, if this rumor turns out to be true, they are going to accept a check from a 42 year old amateur driver who’s claim to fame according to his web site is a “5th Place at IRL Orlando” in 2000.  A quick check with the official IRL web site does have Mr. Jonsson competing in the IRL at Orlando in 2000 however the IRL web site lists him as starting 21st and finishing 12th, two laps down.

Nic Jonsson
The ‘news’ associated with USF1 keep getting stranger and stranger.  Please ask USF1 not to embarrass our great nation, do it right or don’t do it at all.  Paul Greensman, Portland, Oregon

12/09/09 According to inside sources, AutoRacing1.com has learned that Grand-Am Niclas “Nic” Jönsson has bought himself a ride in F1 as a test driver for the US Formula 1 team.  More details as we get them.
More NASCAR races could be shown online  There's a chance you could be watching more races online this season. Right now, the only races you can watch online are the six TNT races since Turner owns all the online rights for the broadcasts. Thus, ESPN, Fox and ABC can't show any race live online. You can watch the TNT races on NASCAR.com's Race Buddy program, which last year featured live shots from four different vantage points. This year, you might get to see more NASCAR races online, so when the race goes to commercial on TV, you wouldn't have to miss anything. Here's what Lenny Daniels, Chief Operating Officer for Turner Sports told Dustin Long about the future of having more races shown online: "We are going to attempt to work out a deal with Fox and ESPN. It's an intersectional rights, is what it is. When Turner has all the rights (TV and Internet), we can show it any way we want. If you're ESPN, you don't want us doing anything during that live race window. That's what they bought. That's what they own. So we have to figure out a business plan to work with them and try to get a deal done. Believe me, we would love to have Race Buddy year-round and I think NASCAR would too but it all comes down to the business model. When Dustin Long asked him if it was unlikely that more races would be shown online in 2010, Daniels said: "I wouldn't say that. We're trying. I don't think you're going to see it across the board for every race. We'll definitely do it for our races. We'll work with Fox. We came close to Fox last year on a few things (doing versions of Race Buddy)." Hampton Roads
Renault weighs up offers – as Pollock prepares F1 return  Renault is evaluating as many as four potential offers to purchase its F1 team before the 2010 world championship campaign, according to Bernie Ecclestone – with ex-

BAR Honda chiefs David Richards and Craig Pollock believed to be at the head of the queue.

After Renault President Carlos Ghosn openly doubted whether F1 will continue to ‘be very important for anybody if it doesn’t answer some of the concerns that surround it has been widely assumed that the French manufacturer will no longer be a fixture on the grand prix grid next year, at least not in an official capacity. More ...
Another USAC classic bites the dust  After being held in November, including this past Thursday, in conjunction with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visit to Phoenix Int’l Raceway the past few seasons, word is that the USAC Copper World Classic, famous for its traditional late January date, will not be held in 2010. Will it ever return?
Danica NASCAR plans to be announced Tuesday  Just heard that Danica Patrick will be announcing Tuesday in a Phoenix press conference that she will be driving for JR motorsports in the Nationwide series.  How many races she will run was not leaked.  GoDaddy.com will sponsor Patrick in both IndyCar and NASCAR.
British GP may not race on classic Silverstone track  
Proposed 2010 layout
We are hearing that the British GP at Silverstone may not be racing on the traditional GP circuit of years past. Silverstone is currently undergoing a major redesign of the entire circuit to enhance racing action as well as the fan experience. Silverstone chiefs will likely hold-off on a decision until early next year before committing to the layout for the 2010 British Grand Prix.

Silverstone's managing director Richard Phillips mentioned recently that the circuit had applied for the FIA approval of the new layout, in anticipation of next year's race.

"There is an awful lot going on," said Phillips, estimating a March completion. "The FIA have been to see it, and it is being submitted for homologation.

"We are hopeful that we will be using the new 'Arena' circuit next summer. But we have still got the original circuit as well, so if we cannot get it to the right stage in time then we will be running on the current GP circuit."

The new pit lane and paddock would also provide for greater capacity at the event.

"The Arena has potential to increase once we build the new pits, because the Paddock Club will move. In 2010 the Paddock Club is in an odd position so it will be difficult to let the public into that area."

Phillips confirmed that if the Arena layout is used next year, the current start-finish line will be kept - with it only being moved when the new facilities are ready.

"I would love to run the Arena circuit because I think it will be incredible," he said. "It is keeping the best of the original circuit, but it is much safer because of the changes we are making for the bikes."

Silverstone to make 2010 British GP announcement on Monday  UPDATE A £300 million deal to secure the future of the British Grand Prix is to be announced today after Bernie Ecclestone agreed to forgo fees of a further £60 million, The London Times reports.

Officials from Silverstone together with Damon Hill, the president of the British Racing Drivers’ Club, which owns the circuit, plan to announce the details of a 17-year deal at a press conference in London Monday morning. After months of uncertainty and fears that the race would be cancelled, British Formula One fans will be delighted they can see their heroes — Jenson Button, the world champion, and Lewis Hamilton — do battle on home territory in 2010 and beyond.

Ecclestone said last night that he was happy with the deal, but he made no secret of his irritation at having had to spend so much time coming to terms with the Northamptonshire circuit with which he has had a long and tempestuous relationship.

“It’s been a long and tiring nonsense,” he said. “They could have done this whole thing months and months ago.”

The Times has established that Ecclestone, who repeatedly said he was prepared to cancel the race should Silverstone not meet his demands, has come a considerable way to ease the concerns of the circuit. The Formula One commercial rights-holder initially demanded a £12 million annual fee for the right to stage the race and on top of that a 7 per cent annual increase on that fee calculated on a compound basis. It was this escalator that was frightening Silverstone’s managers, who feared it would force into bankruptcy a business that made a profit of just £662,000 last year.

12/05/09 (GMM)  A deal to stage a British grand prix at Silverstone next year appears finally to have been reached.

In the wake of the collapse of the planned Donington event, Silverstone chiefs and Bernie Ecclestone have been locked in long-winded talks, with the 9 December deadline of next Wednesday's F1 Commission meeting looming.

But amid new rumors that a deal has finally been reached, or is at least very close, the Northamptonshire venue announced that "the future of Silverstone and the British grand prix" will be discussed in a press conference at London's Grosvenor House Hotel on Monday.

With more talks reportedly scheduled to precede Monday's official announcement, present will be the president of the track-owning British Racing Drivers' Club, Damon Hill, and Silverstone managing director Richard Phillips.

Fisichella admits 2010 Sauber seat possible  
Will Giancarlo Fisichella be a Ferrari reserve driver or a Sauber regular?
(GMM)  Giancarlo Fisichella has admitted that a race seat at Sauber next year is a possibility.

After a more than thirteen year career in formula one and 231 grands prix, the 36-year-old Roman has been signed to be Ferrari's reserve driver in 2010.

But his contract leaves the door open for a parallel race seat, and because of Sauber's deal to race a Ferrari engine and powertrain next year, Fisichella has been mentioned for a role.

After two mostly disappointing seasons with Jordan in 2002 and 2003, Fisichella switched to Hinwil based Sauber in 2004 and thereafter launched his career's most successful tenure with a subsequent move to Renault.

"First of all I'm happy that they (Sauber) can participate in the championship and I would like to be able to collaborate with a team I know and I got on very well with them: together with Ferrari we'll see if that will be possible," he said at the Bologna motor show.

Honda will pass Chrysler for 4th place in U.S. sales  American Honda is well on its way to passing Chrysler Group to become the No. 4 automaker in the United States. Through November, American Honda had sold 1.044 million units, holding a 200,000-unit lead over Chrysler. John Mendel, American Honda executive vice president, said no celebrations are planned to mark passing Chrysler.
Dreyer & Reinbold testing EJ Viso  A little bird tells us that EJ Viso will be testing for Dreyer & Reinbold next week in Sebring. Though there are no firm plans or any deal for 2010, the team saw some promise in the Venezuelan and wants to give him a look. We will keep you posted...
Hundreds of layoffs in NASCAR  Through Jayski.com  Almost the entire staff at RPM was let go in the process as well. In total we are told that over 320 people lost their jobs in that merger. Also hearing that the #71 TRG Motorsports team has laid off many employees, including General Manager and Crew Chief.
Tony George trying to buy IRL  UPDATE  This rumor is downgraded to 'false today. 

Q: Can you expand the "IRL for sale" facts, rumors and things in the best interest's of OWR fans.

Paul, Kansas City, Missouri.

RM: Jeff Belskus, the man in charge at the IRL and IMS, recently said to me and many other media types that the league nor the Speedway were for sale. I said on WIND TUNNEL the other night that I'd heard that Tony George wanted to put together a couple people and buy the IRL (which makes sense since his sisters would prefer somebody else to pay for it so they just concentrated on IMS) but I saw TG last night and he didn't sound like that was in his plans. I do think the series could be sold if the right people were involved for the reason I stated above but as long as Mari Hulman George is alive, IMS is not for sale. She's said that repeatedly.  SPEEDTV.com

Q to Robin Miller:
Your WIND TUNNEL report said: Tony George buying IRL? After all of the problems he’s back? Can’t Penske/Rahal get a group of investors (Letterman anyone) please. A fresh owner could at least institute the changes voiced by so many true open wheel fans. Do an IPO, we can all own it, works for Green Bay. Let NASCAR run it as a companion series until economy improves.

RM: That's what I'm hearing, TG is working on taking over ownership and, like I said on WT, that would undoubtedly make his sisters happy since the IRL is a money pit. Penske and Rahal don't have the time or interest so maybe if TG reclaims what he founded, we'd get somebody besides Jack Long, Leo Mehl or Bob Reif.  SPEEDTV.com

[Editor's Note:  Let me get this right.  Tony George could not make IndyCar successful with all the Hulman George money behind him.  How is he going to afford to both buy the series from the family and also add millions into the money-losing series annually without going into personal bankruptcy?  If the rumors are true that Tony's sisters have set a date of 2013 by which time the series must be profitable or they will sell it, the most likely buyers would be the France family.]

Schu set for Stuttgart meeting on Monday  
Will Michael Schumacher trade in his Ferrari red for Mercedes Silver?
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher is meeting with his manager Willi Weber after the coming weekend, according to the German newspaper Bild Zeitung.

The 40-year-old German has been linked with a return to formula one next year with Mercedes' new works team, and so far no party has been willing to clearly deny the rumors.

Bild reports that Schumacher, the only seven time world champion, is currently vacationing in America but scheduled to meet with his long time manager Weber on Monday.

The meeting is slated to take place in Stuttgart, the German city that is also the headquarters of the luxury car marque and its parent Daimler.

Said Weber: "I cannot imagine that he goes to Mercedes (in 2010).  He only recently extended with Ferrari for another three years as advisor."

Bild also reports that Schumacher has been training with a newly-purchased neck strengthening machine.

Rumors link Villeneuve with Renault/Prodrive  
Having slowed to just a backmarker in his old age, will Jacques Villeneuve return to F1 to further destroy his reputation?
(GMM)  Jacques Villeneuve's is the latest name linked with the rumors about Renault's future in formula one.

It was reported on Thursday that David Richards' Prodrive company may be close to agreeing a deal to take over the French carmaker's Enstone based chassis-building plant.

It is now expected that Mangrove Capital Partners, involved with the driver management group Gravity Sport who have Jerez tester Ho-Pin Tung on their roster, is a part of the Renault/Prodrive deal.

The Chinese driver Tung drove a Gravity Racing International-entered Mosler MT900R in this year's 24 Hours of Spa, and also on the team was French Canadian Villeneuve.

"We cannot comment on the Renault situation, but it is well known that our intention is to get into F1," a Prodrive spokesman said.

Portugal driver on pole for Campos seat  
Alvaro Parente
(GMM)  A Portuguese media source insists his heavily-backed countryman Alvaro Parente is "on the verge" of becoming Bruno Senna's 2010 race teammate at Campos.

The 25-year-old GP2 driver, who made his F1 test debut with Renault last year after winning the World Series by Renault, is now sponsored not only by private Portuguese companies but also the government, the source said.

"Some of the companies have interests in Spain so it would be very positive for Alvaro's sponsors to be with a Spanish team," said the journalist Jorge Girao.

The sportmotores.com writer also said Vitaly Petrov and Pastor Maldonado are in the running for the seat but that Campos "is tired of waiting for (their) promised money".

F1 wants to move broadcasts to pay-per-view  Formula One Administration plans to move more F1 coverage from free-to-air television to pay TV channels.

The details of FOA’s plans for international coverage of F1 are explained in a submission made to the British government in its review of which sports should be aired on free television.

The F1 rights-holder lays out several explanations for why it is moving more F1 broadcasts to pay-TV (see below for the full document):

With greater pay-TV penetration and digitisation, pay-TV operators are increasingly providing broader coverage available to a greater number of viewers [...] the uptake of pay-TV services by UK consumers has been steadily increasing year after year, with 49.5% of UK households subscribed to a pay-TV service.

In other words, moving British F1 broadcasts to pay-TV could mean cutting F1’s audience in Britain from over four million to just two.

And the 49.5% are not all subscribed to the same service: so if F1 was offered on Sky it might not be available on Virgin Media. The same applies in other countries, though pay-TV is generally more popular outside Britain.

In Britain at least, the pay-TV market is not as mature as FOA suggests it is. And it should know this from experience. It moved coverage of GP2 from one subscription service (Eurosport, on Sky) to another – Setanta – at the beginning of this year. Then Setanta went bust halfway through the season.

FOA also said:

Services such as pay-per-view have also become more widely available, which means that consumers do not need to subscribe to an entire package of pay-TV channels should they wish to view individual sporting events.

In Britain it is quite unusual to be able to pay for just the event you want to watch – ordinarily it’s a case of subscribing to a channels package to see the event you want.

It is an equally bad solution for broadcasters as it is fans. The popularity of boxing, for example, suffered after moving from free-to-air TV to pay-per-view.

FOA adds:

Finally, even those consumers not subscribed to access pay-TV services can still view major sporting events in local pubs.

Whoever wrote that never tried going into a pub and asking for a football game to be switched over to an F1 race…

FOA’s aim for F1 coverage
The most illuminating part of the document is the explanation of FOA’s goal for how F1 is broadcast:

Formula One’s overall aim is to ensure broad coverage of each of the individual races comprising the championship.

That’s it? Where’s the commitment to quality coverage? Where’s the commitment to uninterrupted coverage?

In short, FOA wants to get as many people to buy the rights as possible and it isn’t concerned about the quality of the end product.

There will probably come a point at which pay-TV saturation or the increased use of internet broadcasting makes a move away from free-to-air TV realistic. For the time being FOA seems to understand that is not the case in Britain yet and won’t be for some time. In a separate submission Sky’s chief executive Jeremy Darroch told the panel:

Bernie Eccleston [sic] has stated that so long as he is in charge he wants free-to-air coverage.

But viewers in other countries where F1 broadcasts have already been moved to pay-TV services are not so fortunate. Here’s two comments from F1 Fanatic readers in Portugal:

Here in Portugal it was on RTP1 (kind of a Portuguese BBC) for free, but since 2007 it is on SportTV, which you have too pay for. It isn’t cheep! I watch F1 on Justin TV ever since.
David Pedro

Here F1 used to be in the state TV (RTP) but since a years back its on a paid sports channel (As much as €50 per month). And that has hurt the sport’s image here, even though we have drivers with a chance of entering F1 (like Alvaro Parente).

We still don’t hear that much about F1 on public TV. In the mid ’90s there was even programmes on it. The day after Senna’s accident the Portuguese parliament held a minute’s silence.

I followed F1 this year through FilmOn HDI which broadcasts BBC.

I have nothing against the idea of paying for an F1 broadcast – as long as it’s good enough to be worth paying for. FOA should add these criteria to their aims for F1 coverage:

It must be a quality production (e.g. HD coverage, which is years overdue)
It must be live
It must be uninterrupted


Ecclestone and Silverstone closer to deal on British grand prix  UPDATE Damon Hill on Thursday sounded confident that Silverstone will host next July's British Grand Prix.

In the wake of Donington's demise, negotiations between Silverstone and Bernie Ecclestone have been slow, as the deadline of next Wednesday's meeting of the F1 Commission looms.

A report by BBC Sport said it was rumored earlier this week that a deal had finally been reached, but Hill - president of the track-owning BRDC - says that is not the case.

"It would be almost inconceivable for there not to be a British Grand Prix next year," said the 1996 world champion, "but until it is signed, there is always the possibility that will be the case."

The report said a broad agreement between Silverstone and F1 chief executive Ecclestone, who is currently on holiday, has been reached.

"We're down to the finer points, but they are crucial points," Hill confirmed. motorsport.com

11/22/09 According to reports on the BBC, a new deal between FOM and the Silverstone circuit should be finalized very soon with Richard Phillips, Silverstone’s managing director, revealing that the deal on the table will hopefully last for the next ten years and that at this stage there doesn’t appear to be any real problems that would stand in the way of signing the new contract.

"I don't think there are any real stumbling blocks, we're going through the last details of the deal," he told the BBC.  "I'm pretty convinced that it will be run at Silverstone next year. There is a lot of detail to go through, so if you make a mistake, there's a long time to repent.  You can come to high level agreements quickly, but the devil is in the detail. We're very, very close.  We certainly would like the contract to be for more than 10 years - that's the minimum."

Despite the fact that Bernie Ecclestone had signed a fifteen year deal to run the British event at rival Donington circuit, a venture that failed to materialize, Phillips as always confident that the F1 circus would return to their circuit

"We always had the faith that the Grand Prix would return. We’ve been planning for more than a year, we'll finish the track works in March and start on the new pits ready for 2011."

IRL TV Ratings to take a big jump or stay in the dump?  UPDATE #7 This rumor now becomes FACT with this news item. If this deal goes where the "buzz" seems to point, this means the IRL media department just went from Zero to Genius faster than the current IRL car goes 0-60. Even if they didn't see this coming, they should say they knew it was coming all along, and sit there with a great big Cheshire Cat grin.

12/02/09 For years, competitors have tried to challenge ESPN. Their efforts failed or never advanced beyond big talk.

Comcast’s impending acquisition of NBC Universal will certainly set off an effort to turn Versus into a viable alternative, if not a full-fledged competitor, to ESPN. Under Comcast’s ownership, Versus has transformed from the Outdoor Life Network to OLN, then, in 2006, into its current incarnation.

But Versus is a second-tier network whose highest-profile sports, the N.H.L. and the Tour de France, aren’t blockbusters. It lacks a studio show that would give it identity, like ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” or an announcer who is its defining personality.

Versus (and its sister network, the Golf Channel) will be turned over to NBC for an overhaul, assuming regulators approve the deal, a process that could take 12 to 18 months. Versus will probably be renamed something like NBC Sports Cable to reflect a more defined sports brand. On-air and production talent would migrate from NBC, to a certain extent, although Bob Costas would not be hosting IndyCar races.

Versus and Golf would certainly be overseen by Dick Ebersol, the chairman of NBC Universal Sports, who has never had a sports cable network to tinker with (the expanding Universal Sports channel is distributed through NBC stations and affiliates); he would no doubt quickly strip Versus of its current crop of late-night infomercials. More at NY Times

[Editor's Note: See this related AutoRacing1.com article on why the Versus deal may turn out to be a boon for IndyCar after all. We do find it very interesting that the largest investment Versus has made in broadcast rights, IndyCar, was not even mentioned in this article as a Versus signature high-profile sport. This shows that Versus still has a lot of work to do with the IRL brand.]

12/01/09 General Electric Co. and Vivendi SA agreed on a $5.8 billion valuation for the French telecommunications company’s 20 percent stake in NBC Universal, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions.

A deal with Vivendi would clear the way for GE, NBC Universal’s 80 percent owner, to create an entertainment joint venture controlled by Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable company. Final agreements on both transactions may be announced as soon as this week, said one of the people, who declined to be named because the discussions are private.

The agreement on price was reached after GE Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt and Vivendi Chief Jean-Bernard Levy met in France last week. The sides had been less than $500 million apart and were discussing how payments would be structured, two people said on Nov. 25. Vivendi extracted more money than analysts expected and concessions that protect the Paris-based company against the risk regulators will scuttle the deal. More ...

Some big names to run in the Rolex 24  Our sources are telling us that Rubens Barrichello will be running in the Rolex 24 this year with AJ Allmendinger, Tony Kanaan and another as yet unknown driver, for Michael Shank racing. It looks like Shank's team is not the only one pushing hard for the win, as there are other teams that are stacking their deck with big name drivers. Jimmy Johnson will be running with the Gainsco team again with Vasser, Gurney and Fogarty. You can also expect many other recognizable NASCAR, Indy, and F1 names announced between now and race day.

We may not be the biggest fans of the cars, and they have yet to produce any kind of crowds or TV ratings, but we will say that the competition and drivers are top notch. This year's Rolex 24 should be a good watch.
Speedy Dan Clarke to run F2  
Dan Clarke
Dan Clarke is taking a look at Formula 2 next season and has signed up for the series' first winter test at Valencia this week.

Clarke was best known stateside as "Speedy Dan" for the HVM/Minardi Team USA Champ Car campaign, with some impressive and controversial showings. He also drove for Team Great Britain in A1GP in 2008, and is a British F3 race Formula Ford Festival winner.

"I'm excited that Jonathan [Palmer, F2 boss] has invited me to the tests...I've been watching F2 closely this year and the cars look exciting and challenging to drive.

"My long term sponsor is keen to investigate F2, so hopefully we may be able to put a deal together."

Clarke is also planning on testing with F2 at Portimao in Portugal next weekend.

Toyota, not Sauber, to appear on FIA entry list  UPDATE Rumors are swirling that the Toyota team may be on the grid yet, in disguise, as Stefan GP. Toyota surely must want to avoid the $150 Mil fine they will be subject to under the Concorde Agreement. More on this as it breaks.

11/30/09 (GMM)  Contrary to earlier reports, it has emerged that Sauber will be missing from the FIA's forthcoming provisional 2010 entry list.

The specialist publications Blick and Auto Motor und Sport report that, in order to avoid a $150m fine for not honoring the Concorde Agreement, Toyota is instead looking to hand over its team entry to Serbian outfit Stefan Grand Prix.

Monday or Tuesday's FIA entry list, however, will reportedly precede detailed talks about the coveted thirteenth and final 2010 team spot.

Stefan GP, headed by the engineering company AMCO and its chief executive Zoran Stefanovic, filed a complaint with the European Commission in August about the FIA's team selection process. More ...

Danica to NASCAR - was it all a PR stunt?  UPDATE #4 It looks like it's time to scratch any Danica-to-NASCAR deal...just like team owner Rick Hendrick suggested a couple weeks ago.  Danica Patrick is finally opening up a little about her NASCAR options in 2010, but there doesn't appear to be much fire in the belly about it all.  At a press conference Tuesday the Indy-car star talked about her new two-year Indy Racing League contract with Michael Andretti, and a little about NASCAR.  Monday in New York City, on ABC's Good Morning America, she pretty much blew off questions about NASCAR.

"I understand the level of curiosity on the NASCAR side of things," Patrick said Tuesday.  "But the primary focus Monday was to announce our Indy-car program and our new sponsorship with Go Daddy. It's important that everyone was focusing on that and not things that aren't true.  I've made no mystery that I'm curious about NASCAR and I would like to do it.  If I had the chance to run in both series, and try it and challenge myself, I would like to do that." More ...

Danica to make NASCAR announcement?  UPDATE #5 According to our sources, as of right now, there is no ARCA testing scheduled for Danica, making her entry in NASCAR questionable. We doubt they are going to let her just jump in a Sprint Cup car straight off with no testing, and Sprint Cup Testing is limited. So ARCA is where she has to go to get the stock car feel, and it doesn’t look like she is doing that.

12/01/09 Perhaps Danica is just waiting for the right moment to raise the curtain...maybe at the NASCAR awards banquet this week in Las Vegas?

Her website is sporting a picture of her in a NASCAR-branded uniform with the Chevy bowtie logo. Unless the IRL did some kind of top secret deal with the France family, and Honda high-tailed it out of town as Chevy moved into Indy, then we think that is a pretty sure confirmation of the worst kept secret in racing right now.

So when will she announce a NASCAR deal for 2010? Maybe we could start a pool here on AR1, and donate the proceeds to the Hungry Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Models Foundation. The winner gets to have Danica scratch the paint on a priceless collector car of their choice, with the sequins on her bikini.

11/30/09 Well, Monday has come and gone and no deal in NASCAR was announced for Danica Patrick, just her IndyCar deal with Andretti Autosport and GoDaddy.com.

11/30/09 "I am heading off to New York for an announcement about next years plans!" Danica Patrick said on Twitter. "I will be on Good Morning America Monday morning!"

11/29/09 Rumor has it that Danica's announcement will happen on ABC's Good Morning America and that she will be entered in the ARCA race at Daytona in February.

11/26/09 GoDaddy.com, states on their website godaddy.com to check back on Monday, November 30th for a big announcement with Danica Patrick.
New IRL chassis to be made in Indy?  We are told that the State of Indiana is offering some significant tax breaks and incentives if the new IRL chassis is built in the Indy metro area.

The old Riley&Scott facility is close to Speedway, and we are sure there are plenty of facilities and other suppliers in the area that would make it a very feasible place to manufacture the chassis. It would also keep costs down on shipping, as most all the teams are based in Indy, or very close by. Couple the cheap (or non-existent) shipping costs with the domestic currency, and that adds up to significant savings all by itself.

Stay tuned for more on the chassis rumors, as we will have staff at the PRI show that will be looking into this one to bring you the scoop!
Rally switch for Raikkonen 'more than rumor'  UPDATE #3 (GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen has now signed a contract to drive full time in next year's World Rally Championship with a Citroen C4, according to specialist reports in Finland.

Raikkonen close to Citroen WRC deal
Kimi Raikkonen in his rally debut earlier this year
The news was reported by the well-connected Finnish broadcaster MTV3, citing a source close to the former Ferrari driver.

But the 2007 world champion's spokesman Riku Kuvaja said "no decisions one way or another" have been taken, adding that "all options remain on the table".

Reportedly among 30-year-old's options are going rallying, signing with Mercedes GP and remaining in formula one, or taking a sabbatical. More ...

GoDaddy to sponsor Danica Patrick in IndyCar  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.

11/27/09 Michael Andretti said he is close to wrapping up contracts now that he has taken sole control of newly named Andretti Autosport.

He expects to have cars for Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti, Danica Patrick and perhaps Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Patrick's deal cannot be announced until her Motorola contract expires. Her car will be sponsored by GoDaddy.com. IndyCar.com

Panasonic may be looking to stay in F1  One rumor doing the rounds in F1 circles at the moment is that Japan's Panasonic wants to stay in F1 and with Toyota having folded up its F1 tent the sponsorship, agreed for three years in March last year, is up for grabs. It is rumored to be worth around $48m a year.

Panasonic and Toyota have been together since 2001 and there is an industrial alliance between them over the supply of batteries for the Toyota hybrids but at the same time the company wants the publicity that F1 provided, not least because rival LG is now big in F1 circles. If such a deal were to go ahead it would be safe to assume that Kamui Kobayashi might be included. The problem is that Toyota is not keen for Panasonic to do any B2B deals with Renault. Even if the Panasonic deal with Renault is not possible Renault may be considering Kobayashi as he would be useful for Renault's partner Nissan. Grandprix.com

Kubica has get-out-clause from Renault, Flavio to return?  It could be ‘all change’ at Renault dependent upon what the French manufacturer elects to do with its F1 program between now and the end of the year, reports suggest – with Robert Kubica potentially jumping ship and Flavio Briatore returning to the fold.

With uncertainty continuing to shroud the future of the Enstone-based outfit – Renault President Carlos Ghosn stated last week that he ‘doesn’t think Fis going to be very important for anybody, if it doesn’t answer some of the concerns that surround it– it has been claimed by Spanish newspaper Diario AS that unless the company commits to 2010 ‘in the coming weeks’, Kubica will be ‘automatically released’ from his contract.

The highly-regarded Pole is understood to be close to the top of the shopping list of Mercedes Grand Prix – formerly double 2009 F1 World Champions Brawn GP – to partner Nico Rosberg at Brackley next season, should only the 24-year-old be able to find a way out of his agreement with Renault.

Meanwhile, it has also been rumored that should disgraced erstwhile Renault F1 managing director Briatore be successful in his appeal bid to get his effective lifetime ban from all FIA-sanctioned forms of motorsport overturned – with a decision expected on 5 January – he could return to the top flight with immediate effect. More ...

All Mexican Peugeot 908?  Rumor has it that a new project involving the Peugeot and a group of sponsors in Mexico will result in an all-Mexican assault on the 24 Hours of LeMans. The investors are said to be willing to fund a team, probably run by Henri Pescarolo, in the Le Mans Series and 24 Hours of Le Mans. The drivers are all experienced in endurance racing, having already successfully participated in the American Grand Am and Daytona 24 Hours: Luis Diaz, Memo Rojas and Salvador Duran.
Fierberg to race pacific f2000 with DFR  Two time Pacific F2000 expert class champion is rumored to be returning to Dave Freitas Racing for the 2010 Season. Fierberg had previously believed to be retiring following the 2009 season after a personnel shake up regarding his race mechanic.
F1 Driver Salo On Track To Join Nationwide Ranks  UPDATE Pending sponsorship support, F1 driver Mika Salo is set to compete in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series in 2010 after a successful first test, Autosport.com reports.

Mika Salo was driving the Risi Ferrari in ALMS recently
Salo tested a Sprint Cup-designed Toyota Camry for Michael Waltrip Racing last week, along with fellow former F1 Toyota driver Jarno Trulli.

"Two things were new to me," the 42-year-old Finn told the Web site. "Driving a big NASCAR and driving on an oval. It felt comfortable in the car from the beginning and I could feel the changes we made to the car.

"It’s all about the money. If my sponsors are happy, it will happen. The plan is to learn the racing and learn the tracks in Nationwide and then move up to the Sprint Cup in 2011." Yahoo! Sports More ...

Sauber eyes Russian Petrov for 2010 seat  (GMM)  Jarno Trulli, Nick Heidfeld, Heikki Kovalainen, Kamui Kobayashi and Christian Klien are reportedly all in the frame to secure the two vacant cockpits at the newly-repurchased Sauber team in 2010.

"Also, there is Pedro de la Rosa," founder and owner Peter Sauber, confirming the newspaper's list, revealed to the Swiss daily Blick.  "His testing experience with McLaren would be an advantage for us."

Sauber, 66, also admitted that the Russian GP2 driver Vitaly Petrov, believed to have between $10-15 million in sponsorship on offer to a 2010 F1 employer, is a possibility.

"If we were to take Petrov, the Russian market would be open to us by 2011," said Sauber.  "That's worth thinking about."

Blick, whose veteran F1 correspondent Roger Benoit is famously close to Sauber, said the driver selection should be known by Christmas.  We have updated our 2010 F1 Silly Season page above.

Sauber to get FIA green-light on Monday  (GMM)  With the Qadbak uncertainty now past and Peter Sauber back in charge, the Hinwil based team's Swiss founder says he is expecting to see the green light from the FIA on Monday.

The 66-year-old's newly announced re-purchase of the team he sold to BMW in 2005 will only be completed when the FIA confirms Sauber as an official entrant in next year's world championship.

"We expect the entry in the coming week," Sauber told the Swiss daily Blick, adding that the other forthcoming milestone is a signature on the new Concorde Agreement.

Blick said Sauber's official FIA entry could be formalized as soon as Monday.

He added that the progression of the new car is "very good", crediting a "better than ever" technical collaboration with Ferrari, to supply the engine and transmission in 2010.

The last Ferrari-powered Sauber was 2005's C24, raced by Felipe Massa and Jacques Villeneuve.  The Hinwil-built 2010 car will be called the C29, Peter Sauber confirmed.

Blick said the official team name likely to be announced by the FIA on Monday will be Team Sauber F1, with the competitor to be known initially as Sauber-Ferrari and to receive the final race numbers 26 and 27.

A resumption of the naming collaboration with Malaysian oil sponsor Petronas could result in the team again being known as Sauber-Petronas, the newspaper added.

Miles Maroney to F2000  
Miles Maroney
Rumor has it that Miles Maroney, who was seen testing three days ago at Buttonwillow, is getting set for the transition from karting to the Pacific Coast F2000 series in 2010.

Pacific F2000 alumni include JR Hildebrand (before he went to run the now defunct Cooper Series), Team USA scholarship winners Robert Podlesni, Pat Barrett, and Grand Am drivers Jeff Westphal and Max Hyatt.

The East coast series (as opposed to the now new USF2000 series) features a rules package that allows open wings, diffs, shocks, and other stuff that let the person who spends the most have a substantial advantage.  The Pacific Coast series has sealed shocks, stock diffs, stock wings, and basically the Cooper rules package which makes a lot of sense at that level of racing.
Kyle Busch may run full Nationwide season in 2010?  Kyle Busch hasn't announced he'll defend his Nationwide Series championship next year, but Busch indicated over lunch earlier this week in Miami Beach there might be a scenario under which he would try for a second title. As it stands now, Busch intends to run all the Nationwide races that are companion events to Sprint Cup events in 2010. His schedule also may include a few stand-alone Nationwide events during off-weeks for Cup. "I think 24 to 27 (races) is what we're planning," Busch said. "The races haven't been quite all worked out yet." Whatever the final number, Busch has to run the bulk of the Nationwide schedule in his #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to keep sponsors interested in the program. "We're going to do a combination next year where Kyle's going to run, (and) we're going to split that car up some," JGR president J.D. Gibbs said. "We love being on the Nationwide side, because it allows you to bring in young guys. Whether its crew guys, pit crews, driverswe've got (driver) Matt DiBenedetto next year for sure and one other young guy, and it gives them an opportunity." Busch also admitted that how well he starts the season may factor into whether he lobbies Gibbs to run the full Nationwide schedule. Eleven of the first 12 Nationwide races are companion events. The fifth race of the season, at Nashville, is scheduled for April 3, an open week for the Cup series. Asked whether there might be circumstances under which he would defend his title, Busch nodded. Gibbs shook his head emphatically, indicating, "No."
"I'll talk him into it," Busch said.  Sporting News
Canadian GP to return to Montreal  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' per this Hot News story.

11/27/09 Formula One will return to Montreal for at least the next five years, government officials announced Friday.

The Quebec race was removed from the Formula One circuit in October 2008 over a contractual dispute, to the dismay of civic leaders and merchants.

But government officials said they have reached a new agreement with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone to bring the Grand Prix back to North America.

The agreement includes $15 million in annual contributions from the three levels of government.

"This agreement is a win-win situation for the Quebec taxpayer, and for the Canadian taxpayer," said Quebec Economic Development Minister Raymond Bachand.

The race has an economic impact on the city of about $89 million a year, officials said.

The next race is June 13 at the Gilles-Villeneuve Circuit. - CBS News

Sorenson out at RPM  Reed Sorenson won't be part of the new Richard Petty Motorpsorts driving stable following the planned RPM-Yates Racing merger. He has driven for Braun Racing in the Nationwide Series, but no deal for next year has been announced. "Reed has a formal offer from a team now that would be a mixture of Cup and Nationwide," said Sorenson's agent, Jeff Dickerson. "I feel really good about Reed and what he can do."  SceneDaily
BMW to make more racing cuts  BMW, on the heels of a total F1 pullout, has continued to abandon motorsports. We have to wonder if the Formula BMW program and other US sports car programs, such as the Rahal ALMS GT2 effort might be on the chopping block as well.
For 2010, BMW has said it will cut its works teams from five cars to two. Roberto Ravaglia's ROAL Motorsport team is not likely to remain, compounded with Alex Zanardi's announcement that he is to leave the WTCC.

Schnitzer Motorsport is rumored to be the only BMW factory supported racing team in 2010, but is rumored to be leaving the WTCC for the VLN endurance series at the Nurburgring Nordschleife with the Gt2 M3. Deduction indicates that the 2-car RBM WTCC team would be the only one left standing, with Andy Priaulx and Augusto Farfus at the wheel. More ...

Renault to test Chinese Driver  CHINA'S Ho-Pin Tung will join Belgian Bertrand Baguette and Brazilian Lucas di Grassi in testing for Renault in Spain next week, the Formula One team said on Friday.
The Dutch-born 26-year-old became the first Chinese to drive a grand prix car when he tested for Williams in December 2003. Since then he has competed in the GP2 and A1 Grand Prix series.

Baguette, 23, will be driving a Formula One car for the first time as a prize for winning the World Series by Renault title while Di Grassi was the team's official reserve last season.

Renault still have a driver vacancy for 2010 after signing Poland's Robert Kubica to replace departed Spanish double world champion Fernando Alonso.

'Testing is so restricted nowadays, but this young driver test is the perfect opportunity for us to assess rising stars such as Bertrand, Ho-Pin and Lucas,' said acting team principal Bob Bell in a statement.

'All these drivers have shown great promise and we look forward to seeing what they are capable of as we complete our test program for the year.' stratistimes.com

di Grassi to secure second Manor seat  (GMM)  Boss John Booth has hinted strongly that Lucas di Grassi is set to secure the second 2010 race seat with the new formula one team Manor.

Brazilian Lucas di Grassi, who won the prestigious Macau F3 race with Manor four years ago, said recently his chance of becoming Timo Glock's new F1 teammate was "good".

"Hopefully we should be able to announce the second driver in a couple of weeks," Booth told the South China Morning Post at last weekend's Macau F3 race.

Di Grassi, 25, is a regular in the F1 feeder series GP2, and completed the 2009 season as Renault's reserve driver.

Booth admits that winning the 2005 Macau GP with di Grassi at the wheel remains "the highlight of my racing career".

"That was a superb win," he added. More ...

Mercedes eyeing Renault's Kubica?  (GMM)  Robert Kubica will be free to sign with another formula one team unless Renault guarantees his seat in the coming weeks, according to a report on Friday in Spain's Diario AS.

The 24-year-old Pole has signed a contract to race with the French squad in 2010, but Renault is contemplating its commitment to formula one and is set to announce its plans before the end of the year.

AS said that if Kubica is available, Mercedes GP would be interested in signing the former BMW-Sauber driver to be Nico Rosberg's teammate.

The report cited "sources" in claiming that if Renault does not commit to F1 "in the coming weeks" Kubica will be "automatically released" from his contract.

Renault announced on Friday that, alongside Bertrand Baguette and Lucas di Grassi, the 26-year-old Dutch-born Chinese Ho-Pin Tung will test the R29 at next week's young driver session at Jerez.

Tung has previously tested for Williams and this year raced in the Superleague Formula series.

"This young driver test is the perfect opportunity for us to assess rising stars such as Bertrand, Ho-Pin and Lucas," said team boss Bob Bell.

Viso eyes third Ganassi car  Although neither side has confirmed it, E.J. Viso is working to become the third IndyCar Series driver at Ganassi Racing in 2010.

Viso spent the past two seasons with HVM Racing. He would join two-time IndyCar champions Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon.

That three-car lineup, along with the similar one at Team Penske, concerns opponents.

"There's six good cars and you know Michael Andretti is going to have his team back to form and Newman/Haas looked pretty good in the second half of the year," said Dan Wheldon, who drives for Panther Racing. "You've got to be pretty good now just to be in the top 10." IndyCar.com

De la Rosa tipped for Force India seat  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'false' with today's announcement that Force India's 2010 drivers will be Sutil and Liuzzi.

Pedro de la Rosa
11/19/09 (GMM)  Pedro de la Rosa is tipped to return to the formula one racing grid next year with Force India.

The Silverstone based team, powered by Mercedes engines and supported by McLaren, has not yet confirmed that Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi will definitely be retained for 2010.

Spaniard and McLaren tester de la Rosa, 38, tested a Force India last winter, and was thought to have been first in the queue for a Campos seat for next year.

That option is now believed closed due to a lack of interest by Spanish sponsors, but Spanish radio sources Onda Cero and Radio Marca have reported that Force India is a possibility.

In fact, the sources said an announcement could be imminent.

Force India takes up option on Sutil  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement that Force India's 2010 drivers will be Sutil and Liuzzi.

11/01/09 (GMM)  The option on Adrian Sutil's contract has been activated by Force India, the German news agency DPA reports.

However, the 2010 clause is double-sided, meaning that Sutil must also sign it within a certain time frame.

He is holding out for a better seat, amid rumors of talks with Toyota, Renault or even McLaren.

Sutil, 26, told DPA he expects to know the outcome in "maybe two weeks".

Sauber's takeover by Qadbak is on the verge of collapse  UPDATE #3 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' - see Hot News report.

11/24/09   More details on this rumor from crash.net:

The mysterious Qadbak Investments consortium that purchased the Sauber operation off BMW after the German manufacturer announced that it was to withdraw from F1 competition at the end of 2009 may not be the savior the team had so desperately hoped it would be, reports suggest.

Rumors are starting to do the rounds in the grand prix paddock that Qadbak is perhaps not all that it seems. Understood to be a finance firm – and an organization that has also recently acquired Notts County football club – it had been claimed that behind Qadbak were a couple of wealthy, reclusive Middle Eastern families, and it was on that premise that BMW agreed to the sale.

Now, however, doubts are beginning to surface, with Swiss newspaper Sonntagszeitung alleging that Qadbak is in fact merely a front for Dubai-based convicted British fraudster, Russell King, who it is claimed is bidding to fund the team off the back of the commercial rights revenue that BMW-Sauber will have benefitted from for finishing sixth in the constructors' title chase in the 2009 F1 World Championship – provided they are granted an entry for 2010, and subject to Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive Bernie Ecclestone's agreement.

The FIA is due to publish the definitive list of 2010 entrants at the end of November, and as yet Qadbak-Sauber does not figure amongst them – with the slot that would have been theirs having in the meantime been granted to Lotus. Whilst it has been suggested that the delay in what would appear to be a relatively straightforward decision – given Sauber's solid pedigree in F1 since its debut back in 1993 – is the result of protracted legal wrangling over Toyota's withdrawal, others have mused that the governing body is getting cold feet over King's involvement as an advisor.

It is said that the FIA are suspicious both of King's motives and financial backing, and are unwilling to allocate the grid slot to Sauber until they are convinced the money is there to guarantee the future of the Hinwil-based outfit and its hundreds of employees. BMW is also understood to be becoming increasingly alarmed at the lack of solid funding behind the deal, which is believed to be guaranteed by Bahrain Capital International.

According to The Times, King was sentenced to two years in prison in 1991 after being found guilty of attempting to obtain money by deception, for an insurance scam in which he faked the theft of a £600,000 Aston Martin that he owned in an effort to claim on the insurance.

He is also believed to have swindled Equipment Rental Finance out of £330,000 when he borrowed the money in order to purchase a Rolls Royce before cancelling the order and pocketing the cash – just one in a string of unpaid loans he is reported to have taken out on luxury cars. Almost £2 million of his assets are believed to have been frozen by courts in Jersey over unpaid debts, following an investigation in to his company Belgravia in 2008.

King has been involved in F1 before as part of Essentially Sport – a company that managed recently-crowned world champion Jenson Button – and together with business partner John Byfield, he launched Grand Prix Investments, which put in an offer to buy Jordan Grand Prix in 2004 with the stated financial support of Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum of Dubai...but that support never materialized and the bid fell through.

Sources close to Crash.net have also cast doubt over the authenticity of the Qadbak buy-out, with one claiming that other powerful and wealthy Middle Eastern investors had been keen to enter into negotiations but that BMW had been 'so desperate to sell they rushed in' with king, and another adding that 'all the Sauber employees are very unhappy with the new management – the only person who is happy is Mario Theissen, who has been offered the job of team principal and shares'. crash.net

11/23/09 We are told by our F1 sources that this rumor is 'fact.'  We await the announcement.

11/23/09 (GMM)  Sauber's takeover by the Qadbak group is on the verge of collapse, according to the Swiss weekly newspaper Sonntagszeitung.

The report said the main figure behind the consortium is Russell King, who has spent time in jail for insurance fraud and had assets frozen by court.

In the wake of BMW and Toyota's withdrawals from formula one, Sauber is waiting to be given an official FIA entry to race in 2010.

The newspaper claims that, contrary to speculation, Qadbak's F1 investors are in fact not funded by wealthy Middle Eastern sources.

The lack of real financing could explain the FIA's hesitance in granting the team its 2010 entry, with even BMW's legal department reportedly surprised to learn about King's apparent inability to fund the project.

It is suggested that Dubai based King was counting on BMW-Sauber's commercial income after finishing sixth in the 2009 season, while the FIA wants assurances about the team's pre-prize money backing.

Reports in September said King attempted to found a Dubai based F1 team some years ago, and that it was this failed foray that led to some existing teams' concerns about Sauber's Qadbak buyout.

The FIA is expected to publish the definitive 2010 entry list at the end of November.

Toro Rosso seat for Hartley possible  (GMM)  Brendon Hartley's brother has revealed it is possible the New Zealand 20-year-old will make his formula one race debut with Toro Rosso in 2010.

The Faenza based team has confirmed that Sebastien Buemi will retain his seat next year, however - contrary to the Spanish teenager's reported comments - Jaime Alguersuari's ongoing role is less certain.

Hartley, who was Toro Rosso's reserve driver for part of the 2009 season and has a Super License, will test the team's Ferrari-powered car on the opening day of next week's young driver session at Jerez.

"Everything depends on how the testing goes," Hartley's brother Nelson told the New Zealand daily Manawatu Standard.

"He's had a pretty tough (European F3) season, not enough results for them to want to put him straight into a car.

"There might be a vacancy in Toro Rosso, and whether it would go to Brendon or not, no-one knows," he added.

Also testing with Toro Rosso next week will be the Italian teenager and F2 driver Mirko Bortolotti.

Canada GP return to be announced on Friday  UPDATE #3 (GMM)  Official confirmation of Canada's return to the formula one calendar in 2010 has been scheduled for Friday afternoon, according to local reports.

It emerged earlier this week that the Montreal event, provisionally scheduled for June 13 next year, could be shown the green light by the city and the Quebec government in meetings on Wednesday.

Radio-Canada and the French language La Presse now report that the details of the final deal will be announced publicly at 3pm (local) on Friday.

The confirmation, guaranteeing annual Canadian grands prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve between 2010 and 2014, will occur during a press conference at Montreal's City Hall.

11/24/09 According to AR1.com sources, the deal isn’t done yet with the Canadian / Quebec government. So there is nothing imminent in terms of an announcement.  According to Bernie Ecclestone, if it’s not done before Christmas, then the Canadian GP is going to be off the 2010 calendar.

11/24/09 (GMM)  Official confirmation of Canada's return to the formula one calendar for 2010 is expected this week, according to the French-language La Presse newspaper.

The Montreal event has appeared with a June 13 date on provisional versions of next year's schedule, while Bernie Ecclestone and event organizers have been finalizing the contract.

The newspaper said the city and the Quebec government could give the green light on Wednesday, preceding an official announcement towards the end of the week.

It is reported that Ecclestone and the race negotiators have now finished their talks and the agreement can be signed off during a meeting of Montreal's executive committee on Wednesday.

Quebec's intergovernmental affairs secretariat (SAIC) is expected to agree on the same day, "and this should be a formality", the office is quoted as confirming.

The new promoter of Canada's F1 race is Francois Dumontier, head of Octane Management. More ...

American investors to rescue Sauber - report  (GMM)  With the Qadbak buyout reportedly in tatters, another investor is set to step in and rescue the Sauber team, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

It was reported this week that, in the wake of BMW's withdrawal from F1, the Qadbak takeover was the poorly funded brainchild of convicted fraudster Russell King.

The collapse of the Qadbak deal would explain the FIA's reluctance so far to grant Sauber the thirteenth guaranteed slot on the 2010 grid, vacated when Toyota announced its decision to leave formula one.

But Auto Motor und Sport insists there is still hope for the Hinwil based team, in the form of American investors.

The report did not name the investors, but said they are "known" and would be welcomed into the paddock by Bernie Ecclestone, who is keen to bring the US back to his annual race calendar.

Knaus commits to Johnson thru 2015  UPDATE Chad Knaus believes he and Jimmie Johnson can continue to add to their championship total for years to come. But the crew chief first needs a new contract. Knaus on Wednesday denied an ESPN report that he's agreed to lead Johnson through 2015, the length of Johnson's new contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports. Knaus, who has guided Johnson to four straight titles and 47 victories since 2002, is still working under an extension signed in 2006 that runs through next season. "We've only started very light conversations," Knaus said. "I don't have a new contract, and we've barely had enough conversation for me to agree to anything." Although Knaus said it is his intention to stay with Hendrick Motorsports, "you never know what will happen. There are so many what-ifs." Associated Press

11/24/09 Chad Knaus has committed to being Jimmie Johnson's crew chief at least through the 2015 season, team owner Rick Hendrick said on Tuesday. Hendrick is working on a deal to keep Knaus at Hendrick Motorsports through the length of his racing career. But, at least for the next five seasons, his role will be as the crew chief for the driver who on Sunday won a record fourth straight Sprint Cup title. That will coincide with the length of Johnson's new contract extension. "Chad and I have talked about what he would like to do down the road," Hendrick said on a NASCAR conference call. "Chad and I are looking at other things to secure his future and investments. ESPN
Schu fit and could win F1 races - manager  (GMM)  Willi Weber on Wednesday kept speculation alive that Michael Schumacher might be set to make a sensational full-time return to formula one.

Rumors that the seven time world champion is to become Nico Rosberg's 2010 teammate at Mercedes GP are rife, and will only now intensify in the wake of comments made by 40-year-old Schumacher's long time manager.

Weber told the German weekly Bunte that, after the German had to call off his 2009 return to replace the injured Felipe Massa for health reasons, Schumacher is now "absolutely fit".

"His neck is also completely fine, just like his entire psyche," Weber added.  "He could drive for victories." More ...

track news
2nd Canadian motorsports facility to be announced  The race to see who will be the first to build an auto racing facility in the Greater Niagara area shifts into high gear Wednesday when Toronto entrepreneur Lee Abrahamson formally requests a change to the Official Plan that will allow him to develop a property at the intersection of Sodom Rd. and the Queen Elizabeth Way in Niagara Falls.

In so doing, a second proposed race track – the Niagara Falls World of Motorsport, which has been rumored for several years – will become reality.

News media, including the Star, have reported previously on a proposal to build the Canadian Motor Speedway, a one-mile oval and a 2.5-mile road course near the QEW in Fort Erie that would have seating for 65,000 people and cost in the neighborhood of $200 million.

A formal announcement of that project a little more than a year ago identified the Kuwaiti company Bayt Al Mal Investments as the source of funding. The project, spearheaded by Niagara Falls businessman Jay Mason (his son Jesse, a racing driver of note, is also involved in the business), is being guided by Jim Thibert, who’s general manager of the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corp.

When I talked to Jay Mason about his idea several years ago, he suggested the proposed Fort Erie speedway could be up and running by 2009. That hasn’t happened, but projects of this size are often difficult to get off the ground.

To keep the interest alive, a new Canadian Motor Speedway Webletter was emailed in recent days spelling out the plans for the racing circuits, a research and development project involving McMaster University and retail and other commercial operations that would be built in the immediate vicinity of the race track.

All very impressive.

Now, for the last couple of years, there has also been scuttlebutt about a second project in the area, closer to Niagara Falls. Nothing official, of course, but speculation has been out there all the same.

Wednesday, the second proposed track will officially become public when Abrahamson formally requests the Official Plan change that, if approved, will allow him to go ahead with plans for the Niagara Falls World of Motorsport, which would be within the city limits of what’s still nicknamed the Honeymoon Capital of the World.

"It’s a perfect location," Abrahamson told me during a quick phone call Tuesday night.

"It’s 10 minutes from Buffalo-Fort Erie by car and seven minutes from the Falls, where there are 16,000 hotel rooms. If mom and the daughters don’t like car racing, they can see the sights and go shopping while dad and the sons go watch the races. Then they can all be back together again in time for dinner. Everybody will be happy." More at Norris McDonald's Auto Racing Blog

Kobayashi to take Toyota sponsors to Renault?  (GMM)  Kamui Kobayashi may be in talks with Renault about becoming Robert Kubica's 2010 teammate.

The French magazine Auto Hebdo reports that the Japanese rookie, who impressed with his feisty racing on debut in Brazil and Abu Dhabi prior to Toyota's decision to withdraw from F1, could have the support of key sponsors for the seat.

The sponsors mentioned are Panasonic and KDDI, who were involved with Toyota's formula one team and are reportedly keen to stay in the sport.

Panasonic, the well-known Japanese electronics company, was Toyota's title sponsor throughout its eight-year F1 foray since 2002, while KDDI is a Japanese telcom.

"For next year, I think my manager has been talking to other teams but, to be honest, I want to take a break now," Kobayashi, 23, told gpupdate.net at last weekend's Toyota Motor Sport Festival at Fuji Speedway.

"I will go back to Europe in December to speak about the upcoming season.  So, for now, I don't know what will happen for next year," he added.

track news
Krisiloff in line to replace Tony George  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' as Jarrod Krisiloff was been named director of New Media & Consumer Strategies by IMS on Monday.

11/13/09 Word on the street is that Hulman-George family member Jarrod Krisiloff will take over the soon to be newly merged Indy Motor Speedway departments of on-line services & marketing which will also tie into the new SCORE ticketing system in order to streamline marketing, promotions, and ticket sales. This is just the first step in a launching point for Jarrod to fill Tony George's old role one day because the Hulman George family prefer a family member at the helm.
Mercedes also open to non-driving role for Schu  (GMM)  As well as offering Michael Schumacher the race seat alongside Nico Rosberg for 2010, Mercedes GP would also grant the seven time world champion a role of his choosing, according to a report in the Mirror.

The Brackley based team is "open to discussion on a variety of other" jobs for the 40-year-old German "whether in the cockpit, management or as a roving ambassador and advisor", the report said.

Schumacher, who retired in 2006 but almost returned to replace the injured Felipe Massa this season, is currently contracted as a consultant to Ferrari through 2012.

Manor Team to hit the track in January  The Manor Grand Prix team hopes to see its first Formula 1 car on-track by the end of January, according to Team Principal John Booth. The Sheffield-based outfit, with Germany's Timo Glock already signed up, will not be present at Jerez's young driver test next week as its car is still being finalized.

Although others may be able to hit the track before them, Booth is positive that all is running according to plan at Manor. "I think we're a little bit in front of where we hoped to be," he explained to reporters at the weekend's Macau Formula 3 event.

"The start-up is scheduled for January 24 (Sunday) and the shakedown for January 29 (Friday); that side is the calmest area of all, which is incredible. Nick (Wirth, Chief Designer) and the guys have done an incredible job."

Booth, who ran 2008 Champion Lewis Hamilton in his pre-F1 days, also shares much enthusiasm about his first 2010 signing. "The wonderful thing about Timo was that he came over to meet everybody," John added before praising the former Toyota driver for the lack of complications when negotiating a contract. "He just bought into the concept straight away and made his decision almost immediately.

"He liked what he saw and wanted to be part of it; somebody of his experience and quality, wanting to be part of it, not just an employee, is great - he wanted to build a team around him, as he put it, and it's a fantastic boost for Timo to believe in us like he does." GPUpdate.net
Rosberg and Barrichello to swap seats  UPDATE #6 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement, thereby completing the Rosberg-Barrichello sway of seats for 2010.

11/23/09 (GMM)  Confirmation of Nico Rosberg's move to Mercedes GP is edging nearer, with both sides now alluding to a deal.

It is an open secret that the 24-year-old German has inked a contract to race with the Brackley based team in 2009.

Asked about his lineup for 2010, boss Ross Brawn told Germany's Bild: "I cannot tell you yet.  My desire is to have two experienced drivers."

Told that both Rosberg and Nick Heidfeld are on the market, the Briton added: "After four years in formula one, I would count Nico Rosberg as an experienced driver."

It is also believed that, over the weekend, Rosberg gave an interview in which he hinted strongly that his 2010 employer will be Brawn/Mercedes.

10/14/09 (GMM)  Nico Rosberg has added to Rubens Barrichello's denial that Williams has now settled on a driver line-up for the 2010 season.  It is heavily rumored that the German and Brazilian drivers are set to swap seats at the end of this season, with 24-year-old Rosberg headed to Brawn and the Brazilian veteran to fill his spot at the Grove based team.

Brazilian media reports this week said the deals are done.

"I have spoken with Frank Williams and I know that absolutely nothing has been completed," Rosberg is quoted by the EFE news agency as having said in Sao Paulo ahead of this weekend's Brazilian grand prix.

37-year-old Barrichello however admitted that talks are taking place.

"I haven't signed any papers, but that it's true there are talks with Williams and with Brawn, there's no doubt," said the Brawn driver. More ...

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