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Some IndyCar teams to be left on the sidelines This Speed.com article goes into to depth about the IndyCar engine lease situation and how the lesser teams who do not have an engine lease yet in place from Chevy, Honda or Lotus could end up not racing in 2012. The bottom line is that IndyCar did a deal with the manufacturers such that they lease every engine at a loss ($690K per year per car). Instead of setting the number higher but mandating that each manufacturer spend the extra money in marketing and promotion of a series in desperate need for more exposure, the manufacturers are spending what they would have spent on marketing to subsidize each car at a loss.
The end result is that each manufacturer has reached their minimum, although one can argue that Lotus should be required to do 5 more cars [They are currently at Chevy: 10, Honda 8 (10 when they add Coyne) and Lotus: 5]. Therefore, Conquest Racing, Ed Carpenter Racing, Sarah Fisher Racing, and any team wanted to add a 2nd or 3rd car that would push the manufacturer over their minimum required, are going to have to pay full price for their engine (whatever that might be, but believed to be in the $900K to $1M range).
The race is on to land the last of the Izod IndyCar Series seats for the upcoming season. A field that could reach 30 competitors currently has 22 confirmed car-and-driver combinations, with another two believed to have been secured: Justin Wilson at Dale Coyne Racing and Takuma Sato at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
The six remaining potential seats are the second cars at Coyne, Rahal and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, the third seat at KV Racing Technology and single seats at Conquest Racing and the new MSR Indy team owned by Michael Shank. More ...
Milwaukee, Houston to get IndyCar race Houston will have an IndyCar street course race "very soon," IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said. The announcement of the 16th race for 2012, which likely will be Milwaukee, is expected Feb. 13 at IndyCar's "State of the Series" presentation at a yet-to-be- determined Indianapolis location. Indy Star
IndyCar to add 1 or 2 races to 2012 schedule The Izod IndyCar Series will present its “State of the Sport” address on Feb. 13 in Indianapolis, but CEO Randy Bernard provided a peak at some of the topics facing the sport. They include:
The addition of more races to the 2012 schedule: “I would expect one [more], and there's a possibility of two,” he said. The Milwaukee Mile and a new street race in Fort Lauderdale have been mentioned as those two. Bernard said the Fort Lauderdale project doesn't need to be rushed, and the return to Milwaukee hinges in part on local and state financial support. “If we give [Milwaukee] up this time, it will be the last time,” he said. More ...
Rubens Barrichello latest driver to turn back on IndyCar because of ovals
IndyCar could get more big name drivers with huge talent and big fan bases (read that higher TV ratings and race attendance) from Formula 1 and NASCAR if not for the fear of severe injury or even death racing on oval tracks in open wheel cars.
A number of NASCAR drivers over the years have looked at IndyCar and rejected the idea. Ditto for F1 drivers, the latest being Rubens Barrichello.
Barrichello is so far refusing to comment after losing his Williams race seat this week to countryman Bruno Senna. More ...
Servia to Dreyer & ReinboldUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing was a melting pot of nationalities last year as England (Justin Wilson), Brazil (Ana Beatriz), France (Simon Pagenaud), Italy (Giorgio Pantano) and South Africa (Tomas Scheckter) were represented behind the wheel.
And the Indianapolis-based team is about to add Spain to the list.
As our Silly Season page above has shown for awhile, and as SPEED.com is now reporting, veteran Oriol Servia is all but signed and sealed for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar season with Dennis Reinbold and Robbie Buhl.
The 37-year-old native of Catalonia, Spain was unavailable for comment and believed to be flying to Indianapolis to take his physical and sign his contract.
UPDATE (GMM) Vitaly Petrov is in talks about becoming Caterham's third and reserve driver in 2012.
Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper reports that the Russian's manager, Oksana Kosachenko, visited the former Team Lotus outfit's Hingham (UK) headquarters last week.
27-year-old Petrov has been dropped by Renault (now Lotus) after his first two seasons in the sport.
It has been rumored that the race seat alongside Heikki Kovalainen at Caterham might be up for grabs for 2012, but Turun Sanomat said it is now likely that Jarno Trulli's contract will be honored. More ...
Dragon Racing moving to old PPI/Arciero shop in California?UPDATE #2 An interesting bit of news to go along with just how strong the Dragon Racing effort is going to be. The fact they are taking over such a nice facility in California signifies they mean business. Why California? So other teams can't poach their best employees. Besides, the weather is great all year round for testing.
01/16/12 Spy photos of what could be the shop Dragon Racing is eyeing - the old Arciero Racing shop in Rancho Santa Margarita
Spare Body Parts Room
Three gearbox bays below and gearbox engine office to right offices above are mktg and acctng
Rear of Main Shop Full Semi Door
Rear of Main Shop Paint Graphics Crew Chief Offices on Right Stairs lead to Engineering Travel and Owner Offices
Right Side Main Shop 6 Bays
Right side of Main Shop large window above is owners suite which includes marble bathroom with shower window to left are the travel and clothing wing
Main corridor connecting original 19,000 sq ft and new addition of 54,000 sq ft
Main Lobby Offices above on right is the Engineering Bridge and on left is the Managers wing
Main Shop Front
Opposite Lobby View Offices windows above are the owners suite
Rear door to Fabrication machine and parts shop
Full Main Shop (Atlantic Offices Upper Left)
Left Side Main Shop 4 Bays
Left Side Main Shop Offices Above (were Atlantic) all bays have doors to storage and supply Closets
Compressors that service entire building above shaker room
Fabrication and Machine Shop offices above eight private and 10 cubicles
Ferrari and Mercedes working on Lotus-style braking system
Schumacher's Mercedes to also use anti-dive braking system
UPDATE #2 (GMM) Mercedes is the next team working on a copy of Lotus' innovative 'braking ride-height correction' system ahead of the 2012 system.
Shortly after news broke that the former Renault team had devised a passive and therefore legal system to stabilize a car's ride height under braking, reports emerged that Ferrari is "working on a similar system".
The BBC said last week that it believed the Italian giant was "the only other team to have contacted the FIA" about the concept. More ...
The start at Magny Cours in 2007. Ecclestone always uses one track against the other to get more money for FOM for each race. This one was easy, Paul Ricard is his track and rumors of the French GP being resurrected there woke up Magny Cours race organizers
(GMM) "The race is on" to be the venue of France's return to the formula one calendar.
That is the claim of French public television France 3, in the wake of reports suggesting the Paul Ricard circuit is poised to host the race in 2013.
But Magny Cours, the scene of the French grand prix for close to two decades until 2008, may also be in the running.
Le Journal du Centre quoted Patrice Joly, president of the conseil general of the Nievre department, as saying a theme park proposed for Magny Cours could raise enough money and develop the surrounding area in order to bring the grand prix back to the track. More ...
Question: USAC champion Bryan Clauson has said he’ll compete in the Indianapolis 500 this year and maybe some other oval-track races. Any idea what team he’ll be with? (Mark, Lebanon, Ind.)
Answer: Well, Bryan Herta told me on Thursday that he’s likely going to have a second car at Indy (alongside Alex Tagliani). Tagliani’s car is going to again be No. 98 due to an association with Curb Records and the Agajanian family. Clauson also has an association with Curb, too, which indicates a Herta-Clauson pairing for Indy. That’s called connecting the dots. I’ll be surprised if it’s anything different. Indy Star
Who is going to eat the loss of a Milwaukee race? A reader asks, Dear AR1.com, I see all this talk of IndyCar wanting to go back to the Milwaukee Mile but that race has lost money for ten straight years, so who is going to eat the loss this time? Mordichai Rosen, Los Angeles, CA.
Dear Mordichai, As Albert Einstein once said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Yes, Milwaukee will lose money for the 11th straight year if they run that race. However, when in doubt, follow the money. IndyCar must have a minimum of 16 races on the calendar or it will lose the series sponsor - IZOD. The street race in Las Vegas isn't happening in 2012 and Fort Lauderdale won't be ready until 2013. Therefore, whoever promotes the race will likely do so with a guarantee from IndyCar to eat the losses by accepting a smaller sanctioning fee. That loss will be less than losing IZOD. Perhaps the worst part will be ending the season in Fontana where you will be able to shoot a canon into the grandstands and not hit anyone. I hear they could resurrect the Disney oval for one year until Fort Lauderdale is ready and end the season in Disney with Mickey Mouse. Mark C.
Many NASCAR teams in worse sponsorship situation than when economy collapsed
Robin Pemberton, Vice President of Competition for NASCAR, Mike Helton, President of NASCAR and John Darby, Managing Director for NASCAR, address the media
Getty Images for NASCAR
UPDATE That number does not include some teams that folded during the offseason (such as Red Bull), some smaller outfits (such as Front Row Motorsports) and some that decided not to test (such as JTG Daugherty Racing). NASCAR President Mike Helton said he didn't think the number of teams participating in the test portended short fields for the regular season.
"I think there is a good deal more activity out there than is represented by testing and some of the other things," he said, "and the fact that there will be in excess of 43 cars trying to make the Daytona 500 ... and we've been through cycles, particularly when we get to the June, July stretch, where we may only have 43 cars show up at the race track. But I don't see us going below 43 this year. I may be surprised, but I think just knowing the chatter and the conversations that we've had with race teams and organizations that either have participated or are going to participate, that we'll have full fields." NASCAR.comMore ...
IndyCar 2012 Car Count to be up A reader writes, Dear AR1, There was some concern with car count in IndyCar in 2012 given the cost for teams to buy a new car. What car count do you expect for IndyCar in 2012? Dan Beard
Dear Dan, Based on our 2012 IndyCar Silly Season page we expect around 30 cars on the grid for most races. Having the engine manufacturers involved in the series certainly has helped with car count. Mark C.
Dean Stoneman said at the Autosport show that competing in the US and Indy Lights is one of the avenues he is exploring as he bids to return to racing following a 12-month absence from the sport as he battled with testicular cancer.
The Briton won the 2010 Formula 2 championship and then signed to drive for ISR in Formula Renault 3.5 series in 2011, only to be diagnosed with a severe cancer three days later.
The 21-year-old underwent extended chemotherapy sessions and after several months was able to beat the illness. He returned to test with ISR at Aragon at the end of 2011, and by the end of the second day was within 0.8s off the overall pace. More ...
Katherine Legge to IndyCarUPDATE #5 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' based on today's announcement.
See related rumor saying Legge will drive for Dragon Racing alongside Sebastien Bourdais in 2012.
12/12/11 Katherine Legge is on the verge of becoming an Izod IndyCar Series driver.
The former Atlantics, Champ Car and DTM series driver has sponsorship for a full-time ride next season with a team to be determined later this week. Her deal with the team, when signed, will be two years with an option for a third.
Legge, 31, competed in Champ Car in 2006 for PKV Racing and in 2007 for Dale Coyne Racing. She won three races in Atlantics.
The English driver drove in DTM, the German touring-car series, from 2008 to 2010 before moving to Indianapolis to focus on an IndyCar ride.
Legge's arrival in IndyCar comes at a good time for the series which has lost Danica Patrick to NASCAR. Simona De Silvestro (HVM Racing) is the only woman driver with a confirmed ride for next season. Ana Beatriz and Pippa Mann still hope to return to the series in 2012. AutoWeekMore ...
Bourdais and Legge to Dragon RacingUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' based on today's announcement.
SPEED.com is rumoring that Jay Penske's ambitious plans to revitalize Dragon Racing could receive a major boost as four-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais and Katherine Legge are close to forming a two-car team for 2012 with Lotus power. Penske was unavailable for comment on Wednesday (which means this was probably another leak of information from the IndyCar to Speed.com, which has become an unofficial extension of the IndyCar PR dept.), and a formal announcement confirming the lineup is believed to be imminent.
Our 2012 IndyCar Silly Season page (above) has been updated accordingly.
Hinchcliffe to drive for Andretti, replace Danica as Go Daddy girlUPDATE #4
James Hinchcliffe -" just don't put me in a bikini"
This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Hinch has been hired by Andretti Autosport to drive the GO DADDY Dallara/Chevy 2012 and will be formally introduced at a press conference Wednesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway reports SPEED.com.
"It’s the perfect situation in every way,” declared Hinch on Tuesday afternoon. "I got the most competitive ride available with the best sponsor in the series.
"It’s like Christmas, Easter, Halloween, New Year’s and Ground Hog Day all wrapped into one."
01/10/12 "I'm stepping into her heels, if you will," Hinchcliffe laughed about replacing Danica Patrick as the driver of Andretti Autosport's Go Daddy-sponsored No. 27 Chevrolet in 2012. "But that's part of what makes this deal so exciting because they did such a good job with Danica and her Go Daddy Girl image. I hope that makes me the first Go Daddy Guy." More ...
Add Michael McDowell to the list of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers planning to moonlight in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The current entry list shows Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya and AJ Allmendinger in Daytona Prototypes and Michael Waltrip in a GT-class Ferrari. McDowell was introduced as one of the drivers for Michael Shank Racing's #6 Ford Riley DP. "I'm grateful I can do both NASCAR and run the Rolex 24," McDowell said.
"It is a fun race. It's one race and a big race. It's exciting to get back behind the wheel of a DP car. I grew up road racing. To come back road racing is a lot of fun. It's a refresher, too. It reminds me where I came from and how it used to be for me. It's cool."
McDowell said he's getting close to making an announcement about a full-time Sprint Cup ride in a few weeks. "I am going to switch manufacturers and I got a new partner onboard, too," he said. "We'll be talking about that soon. I will also be in the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Nationwide car for a handful of races. I'm excited about that." Daytona Beach News Journal
Indy Lights tire situationUPDATE According to a report in Tire Business, a sister publication to Autoweek, Bridgestone Americas has performed an about-face and will continue to supply tires and sponsorship to the Firestone Indy Lights series in 2012.
Bridgestone said last March that it would no longer support Indy Lights once the 2011 season concluded, even though it renewed its deal to provide rubber to the Izod IndyCar Series through 2013. More ...
Another reader writes, Ok, I have been resisting to comment on this because frankly nobody really cares about this series anyway. However, in light of the recent comments from another reader that indicate that there might be at least another person out there that has noticed the same thing as me, I can no longer resist.
As a business owner, if I had my marketing guy come up to me and tell me that he wants to move our elite product to a place where there is virtually zero to minimal (at best) consumer attendance/exposure, has television ratings that are nonexistent, is considered to be the doldrums of its part of the industry, and whose "premier" event has an attendance level where you could easily unload an entire cartridge of ammunition from an automatic rifle into the stands and not worry about hitting on single spectator, I would tell him he was crazy and have him fired and replaced on the spot! More ...
Williams called Buemi after Toro Rosso axe - report
(GMM) Sebastien Buemi received a phone call from the Williams team shortly after Toro Rosso announced its all new driver lineup for 2012.
23-year-old Swiss Buemi, and his 2011 teammate Jaime Alguersuari, both admitted to surprise when the Red Bull rookie team announced on December 14 they were being replaced by Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne.
Veteran Blick correspondent Roger Benoit revealed that Buemi, who subsequently accepted the role as reserve driver for the senior team Red Bull Racing, "got a call from Williams a few hours after" Toro Rosso's news hit the airwaves. More ...
Risi could move Ferrari team to Grand-Am full-time
Giuseppe Risi is miffed at ALMS and could move to Grand-Am full-time in 2012
Risi Competizione is out in force at this weekend’s Roar Before the 24 test, as the Houston-based squad gears up for the 50th Rolex 24 at Daytona.
While Risi will debut a pair of new Ferrari F458 Italia Grand Am cars in the around-the-clock Florida classic, the veteran GT squad has yet to confirm a full-season program, either in GRAND-AM or a return to the American Le Mans Series.
In a SPEED.com exclusive, team owner Giuseppe Risi admits that funding is not yet in place for any program beyond this month’s Rolex Sports Car Series season-opener, while voicing his displeasure over recent rules changes in the ALMS.
“To do a GRAND-AM championship completely, I don't know,” Risi told SPEED.com. “It depends on funding at the moment. If I have a preference between the two, my preference would be to do ALMS. However, I wasn't thrilled at ALMS towards the end [of last year] because I think they had a lot of rule changes.” More at Speed.com
F1 teams may already have new Concorde dealsUPDATE #2
Do Ferrari and Red Bull already have a new deal?
There have been some stories in recent days about how some of the top Formula 1 teams may have already signed the Concorde Agreement for 2013 and beyond. This is not very likely, as it makes no sense given the restrictions that exist in the current Concorde Agreement. These are all secret, but my spies tell me that although the Commercial Rights Holder can start discussing new deals with teams after December 31 2011, he is contractually bound to offer the same deal to all the teams in the negotiations, up to the end of the current Concorde Agreement on December 31, 2012. He may agree similar terms as those under the 2009 agreement, which gave Ferrari a big bonus, but he may not otherwise do any deals which provide any rights, benefits or privileges, which would discriminate against the other teams. This is all, apparently, in writing and all parties have agreed to the terms. More ...
Randy Bernard desperately needs a 16th race for 2012
If you read our feature article on our Home page you will understand that we think a race in Fort Lauderdale is a home run. You will also understand why moving the Grand Prix up to 2012 from 2013 is probably a bad idea unless IndyCar throws a lot of money at it immediately in the way of marketing and promotion. However, Randy Bernard is growing confident this year's IndyCar season will conclude in South Florida according to the Indy Star.
The sanctioning body's CEO said this week the proposed street circuit race in Fort Lauderdale can become a reality.
"I'm pretty sure it's going to happen," he said.
Bernard did not give details of the new event except to say it would be Sept. 28-30 on a beachside circuit. He said a decision will be made next month.
Bernard said plans to utilize a street circuit in Las Vegas are on hold for at least another season because of the costs involved.
"It's so expensive," Bernard said of a Las Vegas setup. "But I think it can be viable for '13." Indy Star
SPEED.com is reporting that Justin Wilson and engineer Bill Pappas have signed on for a return with Coyne for the 2012 IZOD INDYCAR season and it could be officially announced as soon as Thursday afternoon.
In 2009, Wilson started second and finished first at Watkins Glen to give Coyne his long-awaited maiden victory after 25 years of fielding Indy cars. He also had a podium at Long Beach and led 28 laps at Mid-Ohio.
Honda is expected to provide the power for Wilson, who is currently headed to Daytona to test for the Rolex 24 and could not be reached for comment. Speed.com
We have updated our 2012 IndyCar Silly Season page accordingly.
Ferrari racing towards an IPO? Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo and Sergio Marchionne, the boss of Ferrari’s parent company Fiat, have consistently said that the Maranello luxury sports car business is not for sale. Marchionne has, however, conceded that he knows that if he needs more cash, he can always go to the markets with Ferrari shares.
That may need to happen. In recent days Fiat has pushed up its share in the Chrysler Corporation up to 58.5 percent, the additional five percent being granted as a result of a deal with the US government which saw Fiat agree to produce a car in the US that would be capable of achieving 40 miles per gallon, in exchange for the extra shares. The result is the Chrysler Dart, which is based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta platform. The extra shares were previously owned by a United Auto Workers trust fund, which pays for the company’s retiree health care. This organization still owns 41.5 percent of Chrysler shares, but is likely to offer some of these to the public in the near future, in order to give it more cash. More ...
Another NASCAR team biting dust? Sirius XM NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody has learned that the #71 TRG Motorsports NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team will not return in 2012. Sources close to the team say TRG will announce later this week that it has shuttered its NASCAR operation and will compete only on the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series in 2012.
TRG finished 36th in Sprint Cup owner points last season, and would not have been a guaranteed starter for the season-opening Daytona 500. TRG Motorsports made a total of 106 starts since joining the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2009, with a pair of Top-10 finishes to its credit. Bobby Labonte claimed a 10th-place finish for the team at Talladega in the fall of 2009, while Mike Bliss finished ninth in the 2010 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. Team owner Kevin Buckler did not immediately return a call seeking comment today. Sirius Speedway
This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with this announcement. Richard Petty Motorsports announced today that Aric Almirola will drive the legendary #43 Ford Fusion in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition beginning in 2012. Almirola has made 35 starts in the Sprint Cup Series, his most recent stint coming in 2010 when he finished the last five races of the season in the #9 Ford. During the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Almirola posted a career-high, fourth-place effort. Almirola drove a JR Motorsports entry in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2011 and capped off a successful season with a fourth-place finish in the championship point standings. "One of the things I am most excited about is to have the chance to drive a car as iconic as the #43," stated Almirola. "There is so much history surrounding that number and to have my name above the door will be really special for me. This is the first real opportunity I've had to drive in the Cup Series full time. Last year the #43 team had a lot of speed and was competitive on a weekly basis. Greg Erwin is a great crew chief and I'm excited to work with him. Everyone at Richard Petty Motorsports has a lot of enthusiasm and drive and I'm really looking forward to getting to work." More ...
Barfield Hired To Replace Barnhart As Race DirectorUPDATE #3 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.
Beaux Barfield said his move to Indianapolis came at a bad time. He left Houston on Tuesday, the 25th birthday of his girlfriend, Cody Unser, the daughter of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr.
"(Leaving) was giving her the worst-possible birthday present," Barfield said while driving through Memphis.
The trek north was to culminate this morning at IndyCar's headquarters, where Barfield planned to sign a contract to become the sport's race director, which includes officiating the 500. He will replace Brian Barnhart, who held the position from the middle of the 1997 season to the end of last season. More ...
Waltrip team could buy Red Bull Racing assets Sirius XM NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody has learned that Michael Waltrip Racing is negotiating to purchase the assets of the former Red Bull Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team. A spokesperson for the team declined to comment on the story, but multiple sources say Michael Waltrip Racing and Red Bull are close to an agreement on the sale, awaiting NASCAR approval for an owner point swap that would allow MWR to field a third Toyota Camry in the 2012 Daytona 500.
MWR finished 18th and 28th in Sprint Cup owner points with drivers Martin Truex, Jr. and David Reutimann last season, and holds two guaranteed starting spots for the upcoming Daytona 500. MWR is expected to field three cars in the Great American Race for Truex, Clint Bowyer (no points) and Mark Martin, using one of the guaranteed starting spots held by Red Bull Racing. Those points would transfer to MWR in the event of a sale.
Michael Waltrip could also compete in the 2012 Daytona 500, but is believed unlikely to do so in an MWR Toyota. Sources say MWR is also interested in acquiring cars and equipment from Red Bull, including fabrication equipment and a shaker rig. If included in the sale, the former Red Bull Racing building would likely be used by MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman to house his RK Motors muscle car restoration and performance company, as well as his personal collection of classic and vintage automobiles. Red Bull Racing closed its doors last month, after failing to find a buyer to continue operations. Sirius Speedway
Barrichello back in the running for Williams seatUPDATE #2
Barrichello awaits word
(GMM) Rubens Barrichello is right back in the frame to retain his race seat at Williams, according to reports.
It had been expected the Brazilian veteran would not get the chance to race a 20th consecutive season in F1 next year as the British team eyed a new teammate - perhaps Adrian Sutil - for Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado.
But the Gulf Today newspaper quotes sources close to the 39-year-old as saying from England: "(Barrichello) has come back into the frame and now has a reasonable chance of a Williams drive in 2012."
It has been rumored Barrichello, whose tally well beyond 300 grands prix is an outright F1 record, has managed to amass $5 million in personal sponsorship to offer Williams -- about the same potentially brought to the team by German Sutil's backer Medion. More ...
From the NASCAR rumor mill..... Jason Leffler, who drove in the Nationwide Series in 2011 for Turner Motorsports, is the leading candidate to drive a full season for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series, multiple sources have confirmed. It appears owner Kyle Busch will drive few - if any - races for his own Truck or Nationwide teams next season.
David Ragan and Cole Whitt are the leading candidates to replace Aric Almirola in JR Motorsports' No. 88 Nationwide team in 2012, sources said. A decision is expected early next week, around the time Almirola's move to the Sprint Cup Series and Richard Petty Motorsports' No. 43 car should be officially announced.
The possibility of Kurt Busch driving his brother Kyle's Nationwide team fulltime in 2012 and competing for the series championships continues to be discussed, sources said. Kurt will drive a majority of the team's races regardless. Monster is expected to be announced as the team's sponsor during a news conference in January.
IndyCar Qingdao, China Track MapUPDATE Hearing that our 'assumed' track location in Qingdao shown below is not exactly correct, but that the finishing touches on the layout are being applied and should be published in the not too distant future.
11/12/11 IndyCar has yet to release the circuit diagram for the just announced IndyCar race on the streets of Qingdao, China next August. We take an educated guess at what the 3.87-mile circuit will look like. If our guess is correct, it will be fast with plenty of opportunity to pass.
Will this be the 3.87-Mile Qingdao Circuit? Click to enlarge
In 2009 Justin Wilson brought Dale Coyne Racing their first IndyCar win at Watkins Glen
After more than a year apart, the IZOD IndyCar Series and Watkins Glen International are talking again, with plans to pick up the conversation in the new year.
Since IndyCar’s last visit to Schuyler County in July 2010, the series has undergone somewhat of an epiphany.
Randy Bernard took over the newly-merged open-wheel racing sanctioning body in February 2010 and immediately went to work, courting new designers and engine manufacturers, securing a series sponsor and injecting the kind of optimistic enthusiasm the sport desperately lacked since the schism. He made one slight miscalculation: snubbing the most powerful and influential entity in the auto racing industry – International Speedway Corp. More ...
IndyCar back to Laguna Seca?UPDATE #2 While the last update to this rumor was to 'false' there is still speculation that the 16th and possibly 17th race to be added to the 2012 IndyCar schedule could see IndyCar back at Laguna Seca after the Fontana race and before the rumored season finale on the streets of Las Vegas. However, Grand-Am is there the week before Fontana and that would mean possibly moving that race two or three weeks later to run as a doubleheader with IndyCar. Sound complicated?
09/30/11 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca released their 2012 schedule today and there is no IndyCar race weekend on it. It could be added, but it's unlikely at this point.
· May 11-12, American Le Mans Series · May 18-20, Ferrari Racing Days · July 13-14, GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series · July 27-29, Red Bull United States Grand Prix featuring the MotoGP World Championship · August 17-19, Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
The last time IndyCars ran at Laguna Seca is when ChampCar was there in 2007 with their new Panoz car. Sebastian Bourdais (above) turned a lap faster than the Toyota F1 car. The lap record won't be in jeopardy with the current slug of an IndyCar, the mastermind of Brian Barnhart
09/20/11 According to AR1.com sources in the SCCA World Challenge, they will be back at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca next year, but with IndyCar. Of course that is the same weekend that ALMS is at Laguna Seca and so we assume the ALMS race will run on Saturday and IndyCar on Sunday. If true, that may not bode well for IndyCar returning to nearby Infineon Raceway unless the two races are separated by several months.
There was some doubt after this year's Infineon IndyCar race whether the series would return to the SMI owned road course. That could move the California race for IndyCar to Mid-September, opening up late August for the China race as rumored in Japan.
So the hypothetical 2012 IndyCar schedule could now look like this: More ...
U.S. company is considering taking over the Formula 1 According to sources, Hellman & Friedman, a private equity firm in San Francisco, a preparing takeover bid for Formula 1 wit Bernie Ecclestone orchestrating the deal.
Formula 1 is majority owned by investment company CVC Capital Partners. Supposedly in early 2011 a strategic evaluation of formula-one was done, including the possibilities of an IPO or sale. In April, the media group News Corporation announced its interest in taking over formula 1 and the Mubadala Development Company, a sovereign wealth funds from Abu Dhabi explores, allegedly also made overtures.
Hellman & Friedman has investments in various companies, including the photo agency Getty Images, the Securitas Direct alarm system manufacturers and the research firm Nielsen. In February 2000, Hellman & Friedman took over 37.5 percent of the Formula 1 holding company SLEC for an estimated 712.5 million U.S. dollars and three months later it earned $ 630 million profit when the shares were sold to EM.TV, the predecessor company by Constantin media.
Hellman & Friedman reviewed Formula-1 finance in 2009. According to Ecclestone, "they drive around and talk to people. They buy anything." However, he notes that CVC board member Donald Mackenzie "never talked to them," but has, so one must take what Ecclestone says with a grain of salt. Hellman & Friedman refused to comment on this story.
Adrian Sutil will do nothing to grow the popularity of F1. The two new F1 races in America will certainly fail without an American driver in a car capable of winning. Alexander Rossi is an Italian American and shares the same popular last name as Valentino Rossi. If Bernie wants those races to succeed, Rossi, not Sutil will replace Massa in 2013 in the Italian team
This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Adrian Sutil's manager has denied reports the German driver could be headed to Ferrari.
With the 28-year-old dropped by Force India, it has been rumored he might stop over at Williams next year before moving to Ferrari to replace Felipe Massa in 2013.
Other reports have indicated Sutil might be Ferrari's test driver next year.
"We are definitely not in talks with Ferrari -- they are definitely not an option," manager Manfred Zimmermann is quoted in German reports as having told Sky.
"Surely, of course, it is the dream of every driver and manager," he conceded.
Officially, the only available seats remaining for 2012 are at Williams as well as HRT, the struggling Spanish team. More ...
Long Beach circuit to get needed improvementUPDATE
Will power turns hard right in the Turn 11 hairpin while Justin Wilson trails in Turn 10
This rumor, broke by AR1.com back in April, is upgraded to 'fact' today. The Long Beach Grand Prix will extend the course by nine feet on the Turn 11 hairpin, creating passing opportunities out of the turn and gaining more speed down the longest stretch of the course, down Shoreline Drive.
"We went as far as we could with the course limitations," GP boss Jim Michaelian said. "There's enough room there now so drivers don't have to slow down as much and can actually attempt a pass." Long Beach Press Telegram
04/17/11 According to AR1.com sources, Long Beach is looking at the possibility of lengthening the run-up to the last turn hairpin (Turn 11) in an effort to open up the turn as a possible passing opportunity. As it is now, the IndyCar drivers are turning left out of Turn 19 and then almost immediately turning hard right to navigate the 180-degree hairpin.
Busch will no longer prop up failing NASCAR support series
Kyle Busch will no longer lend his talent to NASCAR's support series
For a number of years now Kyle Busch has helped to prop up NASCAR's two support series (Trucks and Nationwide), both of which could not survive without the big name Sprint Cup drivers who race in them. Kyle Busch was suspended from the Sprint Cup Series for an incident that happened in a truck series race.
The story being told is that Kyle Busch is unlikely to compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2012, at the request of Joe Gibbs Racing and their Sprint Cup Series sponsor, M&Ms, but is that the real reason or has Busch thumbed his nose at NASCAR and basically said, let your two support series die as far as I am concerned. Another reason could be due to the fact that new NASCAR hero Danica Patrick will get all the media attention even though he can drive circles around her. More ...
Petty to replace Allmendinger with Busch or Ragan?UPDATE #5 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' this morning. Sources say David Ragan is likely to replace A.J. Allmendinger in the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, with an announcement possible as soon as today Sirius Speedway
12/21/11 Allmendinger has been confirmed at Penske with this announcement.
12/21/11 Rumors in the NASCAR world say that A.J. Allmendinger could be headed to the #22 Penske Dodge and David Ragan could replace Allmendinger in the #43 RPM Ford. If true, Ragan's job could be saved as the No. 6 Roush car was shutting down due to lack of sponsorship.
AJ Allmendinger could always return to IndyCar should he lose his NASCAR ride
12/14/11 RPM struggled to re-sign Best Buy a year ago, negotiating until early January before inking a one-year contract. The electronics retailer served as major sponsor of the #43 team in 26 events this season. RPM did not release an official statement on the speculation that either Allmendinger had been released or if Best Buy was ready to remain with the team for 2012. The possibility of adding Busch as a third entry has also been discussed but contingent on finding additional sponsorship. CBS Sports
12/14/11 Sirius XM NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody has learned that in an effort to retain sponsor Best Buy, Richard Petty Motorsports has proposed replacing AJ Allmendinger as driver of the legendary #43 Ford with Busch. RPM struggled to re-sign Best Buy a year ago, negotiating until early January before inking a one-year contract. The electronics retailer served as major sponsor of the #43 team in 26 events this season.
Richard Petty Motorsports Chief Operating Officer Robbie Loomis confirmed today that discussions have been held regarding Busch, saying, "Best Buy has been a great partner for a long time, and AJ Allmendinger has done a fantastic job for us. He's coming off his best season yet, but I can tell you there is a lot of interest on our part in having Kurt Busch in the fold. It makes sense to have Kurt with our team, if we can make it work. More ...
It was confirmed from his management just now that Senna is indeed in talks with the team.
“Of course I’m working hard and trying to find the best solution possible, but so far nothing is certain,” said Senna. “There is still a lot of work to be done, so hopefully I can get a good seat.”
“We’ve been in touch with them and quite a few other teams as well (about a 2012 seat).”
Several drivers, including Adrian Sutil, Vitaly Petrov, Rubens Barrichello and others are in the running for the second seat, but a race seat is not guaranteed for Senna. A test driver seat is also in the cards.
“I’m sure there will be, but it has to be the right one as well,” he added. “If there is no (Friday practice) driving involved in that then there is no point in doing it. But hopefully that won’t be the case and I will get to be driving a decent car.” More ...
Could Kurt Busch run Nationwide for Kyle? Word is Busch declined RPM's offer to be considered for the # 43 ride ending speculation the controversial driver would bounce back from his Penske departure with at least a 1A-type team ride. Busch has remained publicly quiet on what exactly he does have up his sleeve for next year and behind. He went on a very aggressive media blitz immediately after he and Penske parted ways and assured everyone there was interest on many fronts for his talents. There is speculation he is indeed following through on his thought of walking away from NASCAR for at least a year and running an NHRA Pro Stock car for the 2012 season, an off-shoot of his enjoyable time at last year's Gatornationals. But with little brother Kyle's Nationwide Series ride still open, many believe the Busch boys will indeed team up for next season in a combined NWS-truck series program out of the KBM stable . Motor Racing Network
IndyCar to release 2012 ScheduleUPDATE #2 In an interview today with Indianapolis radio station 1070 AM The Fan Randy Bernard said:, "The schedule will be out Thursday, with no surprises. There will be one TBA at a later date, to be announced in early February, as the last race of the year."
March 25 - St. Petersburg, FL - street course
April 1 - Birmingham, AL - road course
April 15 - Long Beach, CA - street course
April 29 - Sao Paulo, Brazil - street course
May 27 - Indianapolis, IN - oval track
June 3 - Detroit, MI – street course
June 9 - Ft. Worth, TX - oval track (Saturday night doubleheader)
June 24 - Newton, IA - oval track (Saturday night race)
July 8 - Toronto, Canada - street course
July 22 - Edmonton, Canada - street course
August 5 - Lexington, OH - road course
August 19 - Qingdao, China street course
Aug. 26 - Sonoma, Calif. road course
September 2 - Baltimore, MD - street course
September 15 - Fontana, CA - oval track
October 13-14 - TBA (possibly a Las Vegas, NV - street course) More ...
KV Racing to hire new driver to fill 3-car slateUPDATE According to AR1.com sources, the young rookie driver KV Racing is looking to hire is Gustavo Yacaman. This rumor is upgraded to strong.
12/21/11 KV Racing has kept the publicity to a minimum since the season ended more than two months ago, but as co-owner Jimmy Vasser told SPEED.com on Tuesday, the Chevy-powered team has been plenty busy at the shop and at the race track.
“We just completed engine manufacturer testing last week, and half the test team is ours,” he said. “And Tony Kanaan got more than his fair share of testing with the new car over that period, so that’s been the biggest focus of our time recently. We just took delivery of our first car, like everybody else, and we’ll have more work to do once all of our cars arrive.” More ...
Ragan to replace Busch?UPDATE #3 See related rumor that has Ragan possibly going to RPM to replace Allmendinger.
12/10/11 David Ragan has met with Penske Racing officials about replacing Kurt Busch. Busch's future could hinge on whether Ragan is hired. James Finch, the owner of Phoenix Racing, said he had a deal with Ragan to drive the #51 Chevy next season subject "to him getting a better deal.'' That possibility happened on Monday when Busch was released by Penske Racing, leaving the #22 with sponsor Shell Pennzoil open. Finch told ESPN.com on Friday that Ragan contacted him on Thursday to say he met with Roger Penske in Detroit and planned to meet next week with Shell Pennzoil officials. Ragan confirmed he met with Penske and other officials and planned to "follow up next week." Meanwhile, Finch said Busch contacted him about driving for his Spartanburg, S.C. -based organization. "I told him I'd meet with him and see what's going on,'' Finch said. "I haven't decided who I am going to put in my car next year. He wasn't necessarily at the top of the list." Finch said Busch's behavior that led to what was described as a "mutual'' split with Penske Racing wouldn't discourage him from hiring the 2004 Cup champion. He also said he wouldn't tolerate Busch's sometimes volatile behavior. "Kurt, his talent is pretty good,'' Finch said. "He's one of the best there is, but I'm not going to listen to that s--- and pay him money." ESPN
This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. David Ragan was given his release from Roush Fenway Racing on Monday, opening the door for him to possibly replace 2004 Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch at Penske Racing.
Ragan said he asked for his release Monday morning, after learning that Busch and Penske Racing had mutually agreed to split. He then talked to Penske Racing president Tim Cindric to express an interest in the vacant No. 22 ride.
"I want to be in consideration for that car," Ragan said.
Ragan said he had been disappointed when UPS informed Roush Fenway during the season that it was not returning to the No. 6 car as a sponsor.
"Sometimes crazy things happen for a reason. I feel I've got a good shot to have a sit-down talk with the guys at Penske," Ragan said. "We haven't discussed that, but I have reached out to them and hopefully later on in the next week or two we'll have more to talk about." More ...
IndyCar to drop Texas in 2012 Rumor has it that IndyCar could drop Texas Motor Speedway in 2012. With its high banks it allows dangerous 'limitless' racing just like Las Vegas. Eddie Gossage also wants to pay less money than IndyCar is asking because their race is no longer the first race after Indy.
Randy Bernard said last Thursday he was hoping to release the 2012 schedule in the next two days. It's still not out and the tentative schedule only has three oval races.
The new cars have not performed as well as expected on ovals, either, and will likely require additional work to get up to speed.
"I think in terms of road racing, the car is fine. It just needs a little help on the ovals," said team owner Chip Ganassi. "There's only three ovals right now (Indy, Iowa and Fontana) from what we're hearing. That may be a blessing right off the bat."
NASCAR to buy back digital rights NASCAR is "close to reaching an agreement to buy its digital rights back from Turner Sports, a move that could see the sanctioning body manage its own digital business as soon as May 2013," according to Mickle & Ourand of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL.
Sources said that the deal is "not expected to be official until next year." It is "not clear how much NASCAR will pay to reclaim its rights," but sources said that it "would be in the mid-eight figures." Mickle & Ourand note the move "puts NASCAR in a stronger position to sell its media rights, which are expected to go on the market next year." The company is "preparing to put those rights up for sale, and its executives know that any network that bids on TV rights will also want digital rights to stream races online."
Though NASCAR is "moving now to reclaim its rights, Turner will continue to run NASCAR.com for at least a year." That will give NASCAR time to "build up an infrastructure that can support and manage its digital assets independently." The group will "hire staff to oversee the site and likely base the group in Charlotte." Turner plans to be "involved with NASCAR even after selling back the digital rights." The deal now being discussed would "see Turner continue to handle some business operations, including ad sales, for NASCAR's digital properties beyond 2014, which is when Turner's original deal is scheduled to end" SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL
Problems mount for Vijay Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines
Lenders to cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines, which has been grounding planes and cutting routes to stay aloft, are awaiting a report on the airline's viability before they approve a $133 million loan, banking sources said on Monday.
SBI Capital Markets Ltd, a unit of State Bank of India, has been hired by the banking consortium to draft a report on the carrier's financial outlook.
That report has yet to be submitted, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.
The chairman of State Bank of India, the biggest lender to Kingfisher, said the banks were looking for a solution.
"We are trying to help Kingfisher," Pratip Choudhuri told Reuters on Monday morning. More ...
Bernard off to Brazil Randy Bernard tweets that he is off to Brazil today for some meetings, presumably to wrap up the Brazil race deal and Brazil Ethanol deal. IndyCar does not use American Ethanol, it uses Brazilian Ethanol so the series can promote more American jobs being outsourced overseas.
Like Nelson Piquet Jr. before him, Senna could be exiled to NASCAR trucks where his career will whither away and die. NASCAR would like nothing better than to grab Senna and use his name to gain Brazilian fans
(GMM) Bruno Senna is considering NASCAR as a back-up option should his F1 journey end for now.
That is the claim of the Italiaracing website, in the wake of the Brazilian's loss of his Renault/Lotus race seat.
It is rumored Senna, 28, could return to the team's reserve role for 2012, but Italiaracing said NASCAR is another option, where his countryman Nelson Piquet Jr headed after his own F1 career foundered in 2009.
The report said Senna has ruled out America's premier single seater series, IndyCar.
"My family would not let me (race there)," he is quoted as saying.
Senna's fabled uncle Ayrton was F1's last fatality in 1994, when Bruno was 10.
Argentina to seek F1 race in 2014 Designers of a new circuit being constructed in Argentina are aiming for the venue to host the nation's first Formula 1 grand prix since 1998.
The Velociudad Speedcity in Zarate, 100km from Buenos Aires, is being built by Populous, which was behind the recent Silverstone redesign and is also working on an F1-standard circuit in Mumbai. More ...
Zipadelli to be replacedUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with the announcement that Zipadelli is moving to Tony Stewart's team and the announcement that Jason Ratcliff will Crew Chief for Joey Logano at Joe Gibbs Racing.
12/16/11 According to inside AR1.com sources, Greg Zipadelli has been replaced as the crew chief on the 20 Sprint Cup car by Jason Ratcliff for 2012. Zipadelli, who had great success with Tony Stewart, appears to be the scapegoat for the non-performance of the No. 20 since Stewart left rather than pointing fingers at the driver who replace Stewart.
IndyCar to return to Phoenix?UPDATE #2 CORRECTION: PIR does indeed have lights. When the spring NASCAR date was added, it was originally run in mid to late April, under the lights. That date, now abandoned by NASCAR, would be the ideal date for an IndyCar race.
12/15/11 People who think that PIR is waging a cold war with INDYCAR may be surprised to discover that the idea Sperber finds the whole idea laughable. Literally. "I've read and have seen a lot of the various news reports and columns that speak with great certainty about PIR's relationship with INDYCAR and about what we would or wouldn't do relative to IndyCar racing," Sperber says with a wry chuckle. "Quite candidly, most of it is completely false."
The rumors, Sperber explains, seem to spring from people who have not made any effort to actually ask him about whether they have any merit. Consequently, the perception that PIR and INDYCAR are feuding like some corporate version of the Hatfields and McCoys is off the mark. "I would say we have had a perfectly fine professional relationship with INDYCAR for as long as I've been here," he continues, "and many, many years before that." More ...
Best Buy to sponsor Kenseth? Roush Fenway Racing and #17-Matt Kenseth appear to be well on their way to securing the Best Buy sponsorship for 2012, according to sources familiar with the situation. The Roush organization has pledged to run Kenseth, the 2003 Cup champion, without sponsorship but has been working hard to find funding for the driver coming off a three-win season where he placed fourth in the Cup standings. Kenseth's primary sponsor Crown Royal opted not to sponsor a race team in 2012. Best Buy's sponsorship of #43-AJ Allmendinger at Richard Petty Motorsports was for 24 races in 2011. RPM has not announced any sponsorship for the #43 car for next season. An RPM spokesman said the team would have no comment on its sponsorship search. SceneDaily
HVM needs money for 2nd car for 2012 Continuing efforts to add a second full-time entry has been gaining (or losing) ground at a steady clip of late, but Keith Wiggins is hoping a convergence of sponsors and a funded driver will keep the initiative on track for HVM according to Speed.com.
“We’re still working on putting a second car together…we’re only short of one thing: Money…” he said with a laugh. “It varies from day to day. One day I’ll be feeling damn positive about it, and the next I’ll have not such a good call and feel not so positive. I’m British, right, so I generally work on the pessimistic side…
"I would say at this stage, it’s more than 50/50, but it’s going to be a combination of a driver who can bring some funding and some of the deals we’re working on. We’ll have to package it together, I think. That’s the reality of it, at the moment.”
NASCAR to ban one of their follies? Only in NASCAR is a competitor from one team in collusion live during an event with a competitor from another team.
However, NASCAR is expected to revise its policy on in-car radio communications, including a possible ban on drivers communicating with other drivers over their in-car radios for at least restrictor-plate events in 2012.
The sanctioning body is reviewing its current policy, which does allow driver-to-driver radio contact, a series spokesman said, and expects to have a revised policy in place in 2012. More ...
From the IndyCar rumor millUPDATE With regard to the rumor we reported last week (below) of Conquest racing in the ALMS in 2012, Veteran open-wheel team owner Eric Bachelart tells SPEED.com his 2012 plans will include concurrent IndyCar and sports car programs. Conquest Racing will join the small fraternity of IndyCar teams that also campaign a sports car program.
Do we know who really does have the B&W sponsorship money?
Regarding the signing of Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden, the thing that strikes us about both of them is that the teams are signing drivers without having the budget to run the full season. Could these drivers only run a partial season? Supposedly, Sam Schmidt has Bowers & Wilkins, but we know that they only spend about $2 million a year on IndyCar sponsorship and that is not nearly enough to run the season on.
Supposedly, Bryan Herta and Alex Tagliani think they have B&W's $2 million, so we will see.
Sarah Fisher doesn't have much sponsorship lined up at all yet we hear. We bet that Mr. Hartmann bought the chassis' for them, as he did that before. Still, they are far away from the $6-7 million needed to run competitively. More ...
Lotus to be the engine to have in IndyCar? It is well documented now that the new IndyCar handles diabolically on the ovals because the inferior designed Dallara has too much of its weight on the rear tires. It's oversteer in and understeer on exit to a corner, the worse possible scenario.
While Chevy and Honda are already turning laps on the race track, Lotus has been quietly designing their engine and may have come up with a superior lightweight engine that will alleviate the Dallara's heavy rear-end.
The minimum weight for each power plant is 100 kilograms, or 212 pounds. Lotus has reportedly come in well under that mark, some saying by more than 40 pounds. While they will have to meet those requirements, coming in under-weight could be a strategic advantage. In adding ballast to meet the minimum, they could lower the center of gravity by placing the extra mass at the bottom of the engine, as designer John Judd explained to SPEED’s Marshall Pruett. And we do not know if Honda and Chevy have met that minimum or are over the 212 pounds. More ...
Caterham link hints at Renault switch for HRTUPDATE
This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. HRT has denied that a company linked to Caterham bosses Tony Fernandes and Mike Gascoyne is in charge of the Spanish team's 2012 car design.
It was reported in November that HRT was set to work with Cologne based Caterham Technology and Innovation -- essentially the design office of the former Toyota F1 team subsequently acquired by the Caterham chiefs.
Allied with the fact HRT did not name an engine supplier for the recent provisional FIA entry list, it triggered speculation the team might also be set to switch from Cosworth to Renault power for 2012.
But in a media statement on Monday, HRT denied that Caterham "will be in charge of the design and fabrication of the F112's monocoque".
The team insisted that its 2012 car is being developed at its own technical office in Munich, adding that HRT "is confident that the new car will be ready for preseason testing in February". More ...
Rumor hints Kobayashi out, Bianchi in at SauberUPDATE
This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' (GMM) Sauber has slammed "stupid" rumors it is set to dump Kamui Kobayashi in favor of rookie Jules Bianchi ahead of the 2012 season.
The rumors, having emerged in the Swiss and French media in recent days, said GP2 star and Frenchman Bianchi - Sauber engine supplier Ferrari's reserve driver - stood a chance of ousting the exciting Japanese Kobayashi.
Bianchi, 22, is managed by Nicolas Todt, whose father Jean is the FIA president and former long-time Ferrari boss.
The move, despite Kobayashi being under firm contract, would see Bianchi paired with Ferrari's other development driver Sergio Perez, with the duo tipped as leading candidates to succeed Felipe Massa at Maranello beyond 2012.
But Sauber said on Twitter on Monday: "Unfortunately someone published nonsense about Kamui leaving our team. Stupid.
"We are very fond of him, he stays with us!" More ...
F1 return for Mexico and South Africa 'possible'UPDATE #4
The richest man in the world, Carlos Slim Helu
Son of the richest man in the world, Carlos Slim Domit
(GMM) Speculation about a return to Mexico for formula one is revving up. Earlier this year, Sauber sponsor Telmex's Carlos Slim Domit confirmed that officials are working on a project to end the country's 20 year absence from the calendar.
On a trip to Mexico in August, FIA president Jean Todt said it is "possible" Mexico will host a race soon.
Slim Domit wrote in a column for FIA in Motion magazine: "Linking races in Canada and the US with a Mexican round would perfectly consolidate formula one's footprint in North and Central America and provide a viable bridge to the race in Brazil."
Bernie Ecclestone told the Independent newspaper in September: "After Russia I would like to go to South Africa and Mexico.
"Both countries are trying to do something."
Germany's Speed Week now says "leading representatives" of Mexico's motor racing federation are "very confident" a F1 race is viable, with the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on pole position as the venue.
That track, in Mexico City, last hosted the grand prix in 1992, won by Nigel Mansell. More ...
(GMM) Plans are being made for Robert Kubica's return to formula one -- with Ferrari.
That is the claim of the authoritative La Gazzetta dello Sport correspondent Andrea Cremonesi, who raised the prospect of a test for the Pole in the Spring in the famous Italian team's 2010 single seater.
Cremonesi's report confirmed rumors that Kubica's relationship with the Lotus team will end completely once his contract runs out in less than three weeks.
Well-known for being close to Ferrari sources, he wrote that Kubica is much more likely to return to the grid alongside Fernando Alonso in 2013. More ...
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