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DATE News (chronologically)
Bortolotti to secure Toro Rosso race seat?  UPDATE We are downgrading this rumor to 'false' today.  Mirko Bortolotti insists he is focused only on securing another drive in the F2 series.

Prior to Jaime Alguersuari's confirmation for 2010, recent rumors linked Italian youngster Bortolotti with the Toro Rosso seat, until it emerged that in fact he has been ousted from Red Bull's driver development program.

Mirko Bortolotti
He finished the 2009 F2 championship fourth, and is quoted by the News of the World as revealing that the feeder series remains his focus for the forthcoming season.

"F2 is still a major option for me in 2010 and I am not even thinking about F1 at the moment," said Bortolotti.

"I am only 20 and I think it is vital that you are fully prepared in terms of speed, experience and consistency before you make the step to formula one."

He tested with Faenza based Toro Rosso during December's young driver session at Jerez, and made headlines more than a year ago when he broke the Fiorano lap record while testing with Ferrari.

But Bortolotti admits he is not ready for F1. More ...

Rossi F1 switch still possible  UPDATE Two days of the test session Ferrari and Valentino Rossi held at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona came to an end on Thursday. Although already yesterday the news of the nine-times MotoGP World Champion behind the wheel of a F2008 arrived in the USA.

Valentino Rossi
That night, the online edition of The New York Times, the most important newspaper in the USA, published an article on its homepage about Valentino Rossi’s day. This is a real exception for a newspaper and a country quite reluctant to give space to motorsport from the Old Continent: the coupling Rossi-Red prevailed above skepticism “Made in USA”. And who knows what they might write one day soon after Rossi's great lap times at the end of the test session!

Valentino was extremely happy with his lap time of 1.21.900, clocked on the penultimate lap, almost over the time limit the team was allowed to use the Catalan track.  According to Ferrari Corse Clienti, Rossi was so fast that he equaled Kimi Raikkonen’s best 2008 qualifying lap in the same car around Barcelona. Sure Rossi had slicks at his disposal rather than grooved tires, but the track was still pretty moist and slippery, although drying rapidly, on Thursday when he set his best lap and GP2 tires are not F1 tires.

Valentino Rossi
“We kept the last three quarters of an hour to try a ‘time attack’ with little petrol and fresh tires. I would have given anything for such a lap time,” said Rossi.

Rossi said that he had much more fun compared to his last experience in Mugello in November 2008. “It’s more fun here, because it’s a little bit easier. It’s more effort in Mugello, but this track here is really wonderful, with motorbikes and cars, although I have to say that turn 10 is a little tight and you’re braking much later.” More ...

Wood Brothers to return to full-time in 2011  Wood Brothers Racing, a Ford nameplate for 60 years, will race part-time in Sprint Cup racing again in 2010 with an eye on returning to the full-time schedule soon, perhaps in 2011. Bill Elliott again will drive the Woods' familiar #21, one of the most famous numbers in motorsports, in the 13 races the team plans to enter this season. Team co-owner Eddie Wood said additional races possibly will be added to the schedule if sponsor funding can be found. Motorcraft, Ford's customer service division, again will sponsor the team. A new co-sponsor is Ford's Quick Lane Tire and Auto Centers. More ...
Tagliani's default livery  
The FAZZT car painted and in their shop
While at the press conference last week the FAZZT IndyCar team and Alex Tagliani showed up with B&W as a sponsor on the car. 

However, this spy photo from the shop shows the car with generic FAZZT team livery.
Lopez closing on USF1 deal, Rossiter for second seat?  UPDATE #2 (GMM)  USF1 will announce on Monday that it has signed Argentine driver Jose Maria Lopez for 2010.

The American team reached a deal with the 26-year-old touring car driver late last year, dependant on the finalization of his sponsorship package believed to be worth around $8m.

"Everything has been agreed and the official announcement will be made on Monday," the former GP2 racer's spokesman Miguel Mattos told Reuters.

The news agency said USF1 sporting director Peter Windsor has been meeting with Lopez's sponsors in Buenos Aires in the past days.

It is believed the country's government will advertise Argentinean tourism on the USF1 car, and that the Top Race V6 series and the company Kwan will also sponsor the Charlotte based team.

01/22/10 Reuters reports that Jose Marie Lopez will be confirmed as the first of US F1’s two drivers on Monday. The US F1 team confirmed via its Facebook page that a major announcement is planned for next week.

As mentioned here earlier, Lopez hasn’t raced a single seater car since 2006.

Jose Lopez
Lopez was dropped by Renault’s driver development program in 2006. His connection to US F1 has been rumored for several months, during which time he has probably been putting a sponsorship package in place.

Argentina has a great historical link with F1 thanks to the likes Juan Manuel Fangio and Carlos Reutemann. But there hasn’t been a Argentinean Grand Prix since 1998 and the last Argentinean driver to race in F1 was Gaston Mazzacane, who was dropped by the Prost team early in 2001.

01/04/10 (GMM)  Jose Maria Lopez looks set to secure one race seat at USF1, and the other may go to the British driver James Rossiter, according to reports from Argentina.

The publication Corsa revealed that Argentine Lopez, who has not raced a single seater since GP2 in 2006, has recently done two days to re-acclimatize at the wheel of a F3 car.

It is said that sponsors on the car, including to promote Argentinean tourism, the Top Race V6 series and the company Kwan, will all accompany Lopez to USF1.

His manager Felipe McGough, also working closely with the Automovil Club Argentino, confirmed that the deal with F1's new American team is still on.

"In the last weeks we made much progress, but the holidays were a complication.  All is well.

"They are sensitive contracts.  We must have patience.  The idea is that the team makes the announcement," he said. More ...

Double diffusers banned after this year  UPDATE (GMM)  F1 technical directors have agreed to make so-called 'double diffusers' illegal from 2011.

Reports said the decision to ban the controversial rear aerodynamic solution was taken by the teams at a meeting of the Technical Working Group late this week.

The double diffuser concept was pioneered by Brawn, Williams and Toyota in 2009, and subsequently adopted by all the other teams after the FIA declared it was legal.

The 2010 cars have been designed with further iterations of the concept, but for 2011 the conventional diffusers will return, pending the approval of the F1 Commission and World Motor Sport Council.

It is hoped that, in conjunction with the major aerodynamic rule changes introduced in F1 at the beginning of 2009, the double diffuser ban will slow the cars and make overtaking easier.

01/22/10 Formula 1 technical chiefs have officially agreed to ban double diffusers from the start of next year, Autosport reports.

It is understood that the teams approved a requirement that the diffuser surface must be continuous on its inboard section from the start of 2011. This prevents the use of the controversial 'slots' that were key to making the double diffuser work.

The matter still needs to get approval from the Formula 1 Commission and the FIA's World Sport Council before being put in the 2011 technical regulations, but this is believed to be a formality if the TWG has already voted in favor.

NASCAR shooting to implement fuel injection in 2011  By the time the 2011 racing season gets under way, the only place to find a carburetor in the Sprint Cup Series might be in NASCAR’s Hall of Fame.

Officials said today that they hope to replace carburetors with fuel injection, and have been testing potential systems with an eye toward making the change as soon as possible.

“We are in the process of the development and the testing and have been for probably six or eight months," ” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition for NASCAR.

“The easy part is to just build the fuel injection system. The thing that we need to put into play is how are we going to regulate it, and what’s going to be fair for everybody?” More ...
Outsider to replace Darby  There apparently won't be a decision made in the near term regarding the soon-to-be vacant position of Sprint Cup Series director. John Darby, who has held the post since 2002, will be reassigned to a management position within NASCAR but will stay on the job until a replacement is found. Sources continue to report NASCAR is considering someone from outside the stock car racing world as a candidate.  CBS Sports
Lotus car to be launched in London  (GMM)  The launch of Lotus' 2010 car is expected to take place in London.

The new Malaysian-backed outfit, based in Norfolk (UK), announced via team boss Tony Fernandes' Twitter page last week that the seater seater will be unveiled on February 12.

On that day, the eyes of the F1 world will also be on the group test taking place at Jerez.

According to Finland's Turun Sanomat, Lotus will run the car for the first time in the hands of Jarno Trulli at Silverstone on the day after the launch, weather permitting.

The team will then join the third group test of the pre-season, the four-day session scheduled between February 17-20 at Jerez. More ...

Danica might run in Daytona Nationwide race too  We are hearing the JR Motorsports might be putting Danica in their #7 Nationwide car for the Daytona. Nothing has been confirmed, but we would say this is shoe-in because NASCAR will "milka" her for all she is worth (apologies to Milka Duno for the pun)
Bottolotti to focus on F2  Italian driver Mirko Bortolotti says he wants to focus on a potential second season in Formula Two rather than think about speculation linking him with a drive in Formula One.

The 20-year-old has enjoyed a whirlwind 18 months in motorsport, which has included an Italian F3 title, an F1 test with Ferrari, his first F2 race victory in Brno and a further Formula One test with Toro Rosso. Rumours persist that a number of F1 teams are monitoring Bortolotti’s progress, but the Italian is in no rush to make the step up the highest level of the sport. More ...
Heidfeld to Renault? Kubica to Mercedes?  UPDATE #2 (GMM)  Nick Heidfeld is a candidate to be Robert Kubica's teammate in 2010, Renault team boss Eric Boullier has confirmed.

New teams USF1 and Campos aside, the only established team with a vacant seat for next season is the newly Genii Capital-controlled outfit.

Boullier told the German website motorsport-total.com that "several drivers" are in the running, including two with experience and two rookies.

"The nationality is completely open.  Our second driver could be a Frenchman, but also he could be Russian, Chinese, German or Austrian," he added.

It is likely he is referring to Vitaly Petrov (Russian), Ho-Pin Tung (Chinese), Heidfeld (German) and Christian Klien (Austrian). More ...

Trucks to race at Darlington  Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with host Dave Moody is reporting that the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will compete at Darlington Raceway in August of this year, as a replacement for the now-canceled event at the Milwaukee Mile. Expect an official announcement during this week's NASCAR portion of the annual Media Tour. Sirius Speedway PR
NASCAR going to go 3D?  After the huge success of 3D movie Avatar and the TV industry announcing the move to 3D TVs for the home, NASCAR is rumored to be looking seriously at moving its Sprint Cup broadcasts to 3D at some point.
Philip Morris to renew sponsorship of Ferrari?  The whisper at the Wrooom skiing event in Madonna di Campiglio is that Philip Morris will renew its sponsorship of the Ferrari team when the current deal runs out at the end of 2011. It had been thought that the title sponsorship would pass to Santander, but it seems that Philip Morris decided against that and has managed to integrate the Spanish bank into the portfolio without giving up the title sponsorship. Although legally the team cannot use its Marlboro branding in many places (and in fact no longer uses it on the car) the team’s official name remains Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro. The cars also feature a black and white bar code livery with red and white which research shows people still think of a Marlboro, even if there is no such branding. More ...
USF1, Campos, asking $5m for race seats  (GMM)  USF1 and Campos are asking drivers to pay US$5 million for race seats, Dutch racer Robert Doornbos has revealed.

Doornbos, 28, raced with Minardi and Red Bull a few years ago and has also been a F1 test driver.

He competed in last year's IndyCar series, and told nusport.nl that he held talks with two of the new F1 teams about 2010.

"We examined whether there were opportunities," said Doornbos.

"There were some conversations with USF1 and Campos Meta who were interested, they were just asking for 5 million US dollars in sponsorship money.

"If I had that much, I would be at the front in the IndyCar Series rather than at the back in formula one," he added.

Three of the four vacant seats on the 2010 grid are with USF1 (2) and Campos (1).

Kyle Busch gets a new contract  UPDATE AP reports this morning that Joe Gibbs Racing during the team's stop on the annual Sprint Cup Series media tour announced that it signed NASCAR driver Kyle Busch to a long-term extension. JGR President J.D. Gibbs said that the deal "has actually been signed for some time, but the team wanted the news out so it can focus on the upcoming year." Busch's deal with the team was set to expire after this season, his third with JGR.

Kyle Busch
We are hearing that Kyle Busch a new contract with Gibbs  Racing for 2010 and beyond.

Dave Rogers, the man who is the crew chief keeping Busch winning on the Sprint Cup tour.

Busch is easily the most talented driver in stock car racing today, and possibly comparable to the top talents in all of motorsports. However he still does not have a championship trophy, despite winning more Cup races than anyone else but Jimmie Johnson the past two years.

Rogers can likely remedy that, as an 11-year veteran with the Gibbs team, and an engineer by trade (Clarkson College, in upstate New York), and insists he can meet the challenge.
Klien talking to 3 F1 teams  UPDATE (GMM)  Christian Klien insists he is still in the running to take a spot on the 2010 formula one grid.

The 26-year-old Austrian was BMW-Sauber's test driver for the past two seasons and had hoped to take the race seat alongside Kamui Kobayashi this year.

Christian Klien
"At the end of the day the driver decision is up to the management and they have to take all factors into consideration," said Klien, after the Hinwil based team announced on Tuesday that Pedro de la Rosa would take the seat.

"I was well aware that my main rival for the seat was Pedro de la Rosa.  In my view, the fact that the decision was taken so late shows that it was not an easy one for Peter Sauber," he added.

There are still race seats open at Renault, Toro Rosso, Campos and USF1, and Klien insists he still has a chance to re-start his grand prix career in 2010. More ...

De la Rosa to be Sauber racer in 2010?  UPDATE #4 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.

01/11/10 (GMM)  Pedro de la Rosa will be confirmed imminently as Kamui Kobayashi's Sauber teammate for 2010.

The Swiss newspaper Blick, whose F1 correspondent Roger Benoit is close to the Hinwil based team's founder and boss Peter Sauber, said an announcement could be made this week.

Spain's Diario AS also said long-time McLaren test driver de la Rosa, 38, has now agreed a race deal with Sauber, with an announcement due "in a matter of hours", or a few "days" at the most.

It is believed the contract is for 2010, with an option to include an additional season.  De la Rosa's main opponent for the seat was believed to have been Ferrari reserve driver Giancarlo Fisichella.

The sports newspaper also said Sauber has secured two new sponsors, including Universia, a subsidiary of the Spanish bank Santander that was recently expected to depart Renault along with Fernando Alonso.

01/10/10 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today.  According to well-connected Blick's Roger Benoit there is now nothing stopping Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa from getting the 2nd Sauber seat, and will be confirmed next week. He reports the contract has already signed "and sealed".  Announcement is likely to happen early in the week.

Pedro de la Rosa
(GMM)  Pedro de la Rosa has reportedly denied reports he has signed to be Kamui Kobayashi's teammate at Sauber in 2010.

The Swiss newspaper said the almost 39-year-old McLaren test driver is set to complete the deal barring "an earthquake in Hinwil", and to the NZZ weekly Peter Sauber admitted he had signed "an experienced man" that is not Nick Heidfeld.

But Diario Sport, a Spanish daily sports newspaper, said de la Rosa is denying the reports.  Additional Details were not given.

01/03/10 (GMM)  Pedro de la Rosa is expected to be Kamui Kobayashi's teammate at Sauber in 2010, according to Blick.

The Swiss daily newspaper, with close ties to the Peter Sauber-led team, said the news is likely to be confirmed soon barring "an earthquake in Hinwil". More ...

Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing loses sponsor  UPDATE #2 Scott Morris of AR1 adds to our response to the reader:

My feeling is that the McDonald's deal was there only because of Paul Newman, and his passionate contribution to the sport and charity. With Paul now gone, McDonald's is too.

Newman was a man of infinite gift and generosity. Much of what he did involved McDonald's. McD's also carried his products in the stores, the profits of which naturally benefit the Newman's Own Charity mission. So there was a relationship there that extended beyond the typical formula. More ...
Coulthard to drive DTM Mercedes?  
David Coulthard
Information has surfaced in Germany that ex Formula One driver David Coulthard is going to test a Mercedes C-Class for an eventual Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters entry. The German site Motorsport Total asked Mercedes about it and they neither confirmed or denied the information about Coulthard.The Scot retired from Formula One after the 2008 season, having completed a total of 247 races since 1994.

Coulthard was present during the DTM finale of 2009 and was asked if he was interested in joining the series.

"I have not spoken to Norbert Haug yet," said Coulthard evasively to Motorsport Total.

The German newspaper Sport Bild reports that Coulthard is scheduled to complete a test with Mercedes shortly and could replace Ralf Schumacher for the coming season.

Stay tuned for more news on the subject! touringcartimes.com

IMSA to drop Atlantic series sanctioning  UPDATE #2 It looks like things are still moving in the Atlantic series. I guess we will hold our breath and see how many teams they can field. It looks pretty shaky to us, but we hope this legendary feeder series will continue as an open wheel fixture in the sport. It would be really sad to see it fade away. Here is a recent article on their postponement of their official test session

01/16/10 We are dropping this rumor down to 'speculation.'  IMSA will sanction the series in 2010.......if they have a series.  While Star Mazda will have over 20 cars at the IMSA support test, the Atlantic Series will have none.  Last year the Atlantic grid size was down to 10 or less cars at some races and if rumors are true that the top 2 teams are moving to Indy Lights, there comes a point whereby the grid size is too small to be considered a viable series. More ...
Senna could switch to Toro Rosso for 2010  UPDATE #2 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.  Red Bull on Monday denied reports that Bruno Senna might line up in a Toro Rosso car in 2010.

It was suggested that Senna, who has signed to make his grand prix debut with Campos, might switch to Red Bull's junior team if the new Spanish outfit fails to make it to the Bahrain season opener.

"It's not true," the energy drink company's motor sport consultant Dr Helmut Marko told 422race.com.  "I've never heard about it."

Marko said it is likely that Jaime Alguersuari will be re-signed to take his place in 2010 alongside Toro Rosso's only confirmed driver for this year, Sebastien Buemi.

"It will be Alguersuari," he said.  "It's just some contractual details that have to be solved, but generally it's Alguersuari."

Marko suggested an actual date for the announcement of the Alguersuari deal has already been set and that team boss Franz Tost "knows exactly when". More ...

Who will lose a race for 2nd Kansas race?  UPDATE #3 The chief operating officer for International Speedway Corp., Roger R. VanDerSnick, says the financial fortunes of Auto Club Speedway of Southern California, Phoenix International Raceway and Michigan International Speedway will be evaluated in 2010 as ISC tries to decide how to shift a Sprint Cup race to Kansas Speedway in 2011.

Those three tracks — all of which play host to two annual Cup races — are among the four ISC markets hit worst by the economic downturn. The fourth is south Florida, where Homestead-Miami Speedway hosts the season finales for NASCAR's three major series (which are sponsored by Ford in a long-term naming rights deal).

"Those are our four challenging areas: Southern California, Phoenix, Michigan and Florida," VanDerSnick said. "We have a decision to make for 2011 on what date goes to Kansas? So we have a number of different models helping us drive through the decision-making process on that. Once we're close to a recommendation, we'll make a proposal to NASCAR that we want to realign a race to Kansas for that second weekend."

12/02/09 It wasn’t the glitziest proposal for a casino in Wyandotte County. Or the biggest or the most expensive.  But the planned Hollywood Casino had the virtue of being the only proposal left standing Tuesday after the recession forced developers with grander visions to drop out earlier this year.

That proved to be enough — along with deep-pocketed, experienced developers and a prime spot overlooking the Kansas Speedway — for a state board to unanimously approve the $386 million project.

“Is it ideal? No. But we understand the constraints of the economic times,” said board member Jackie Vietti. “It’s in the better interests of the state to move forward now.”

Construction is expected to begin late next year, with an opening set for early 2012. More ...

Briatore looks to sue Piquet, the FIA, and departed drivers  UPDATE #2 The FIA's World Council banned former Renault team principal Briatore and the team's former head of engineering Pat Symonds in September after racing driver Nelson Piquet Jr claimed the two men asked him to crash during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to aid his team-mate, Fernando Alonso.

A Paris court overturned that ban earlier this month, awarding Briatore €15,000 in damages. However, the ban prevented teams and drivers from working with Briatore and the Italian maintains this led to a significant loss of income. Briatore told The Telegraph that he would sue the FIA for damages to his driver management business. We lost Alonso, we lost [Heikki] Kovalainen, we lost several drivers," he said. "We will sue the FIA for the money we lost."

01/06/10 (GMM)  Having won his bid to overturn his motor racing ban, Flavio Briatore says it is likely he will now pursue legal action against Nelson Piquet.

The 59-year-old Italian has never confessed his involvement in the so-called crashgate scandal, where Piquet was ordered to crash on purpose during the 2008 Singapore grand prix.

Paris' Tribunal de Grande Instance on Tuesday ruled that there were "irregularities" in the FIA's decision to expel Briatore, the former Renault team boss, from motor racing.

Asked on Wednesday if he will now sue Piquet, he told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "Very probably.  I won't forget the pain I've suffered in a day."

After the ruling was announced on Tuesday, the FIA said Briatore and Pat Symonds's bans would remain in force until all its appeal options were exhausted.

But Briatore vowed to now continue to manage F1 drivers "like always", and warned he may sue Heikki Kovalainen and Lucas di Grassi, who recently ended their ties with the Italian. More ...

Trulli in frame for Sauber seat?  (GMM)  Jarno Trulli has admitted he flirted with a switch to Sauber in 2010 before deciding to join the new Lotus team.

"I had contact with Peter Sauber, that's true," the Italian told the Swiss newspaper Blick.

Trulli, 35, spent the last five full seasons with the now-departed Toyota, and tested a NASCAR Sprint Cup car recently before signing with Lotus for 2010.

But the veteran of almost 220 grands prix admits going to Sauber next year would have been a "very interesting thing".

"He (Sauber) is quite unlike any other in this circus.  Peter Sauber is clean and honest.  But with the departure of BMW it will be harder for his team than before," said Trulli.

The wine-maker said the new Lotus project, by contrast, is "exciting", with "great ambitions and a lot of power behind it, also financially".

Fisi also in frame for Sauber seat  UPDATE (GMM)  Pedro de la Rosa is no longer favorite to become Kamui Kobayashi's teammate at the Sauber team in 2010.

Jenson Button has revealed that he will not give McLaren's new MP4-25 its track debut because de la Rosa, 38, is scheduled to drive it at Valencia on February 1.

The news indicates that the Spaniard is staying put as the Woking based team's main test and reserve driver this year.

Giancarlo Fisichella
At the same time, the Swiss newspaper Blick reports that Giancarlo Fisichella flew briefly from Ferrari's winter media event in the Italian Dolomites to Sauber's Hinwil headquarters last Thursday.

The newspaper suggested that Sauber is under pressure from its new powertrain supplier Ferrari to give 2010 reserve driver Fisichella, 37, the vacant race seat.

The Roman veteran has contested more than 231 grands prix since 1996, including a season with Sauber in 2004.

01/05/10  (GMM)  According to Spain's Diario AS, the only obstacle to Pedro de la Rosa returning to the F1 grid in 2010 is Giancarlo Fisichella.

The sports daily said Fisichella, the Roman veteran of the past 13 full seasons, is the only real alternative to de la Rosa as Sauber contemplates an experienced teammate for Kamui Kobayashi.

Peter Sauber revealed this week that a second driver has been signed, but revealed only that he is an "experienced man" who is arriving from another F1 team. More ...

Paul di Resta to secure F1 test seat  (GMM)  Paul di Resta has revealed he is now very close to securing a full-time role in formula one.

The 23-year-old Scot, a DTM frontrunner for Mercedes' works team, last month impressed at the wheel of a Force India at the young driver test at Jerez.

Team boss Vijay Mallya had previously said either di Resta or JR Hildebrand would be the reserve driver in 2010, and di Resta was notably quicker than his American rival on every day of the Spanish outing.

"Since the test for sure we have been in talks," di Resta is quoted as saying by the Scotland on Sunday.

"We are in the final stages of finishing off for the program they have set and hopefully we can build a very long and strong relationship for me to try and race with Force India in the future," he added.

Another DTM Mercedes driver, Gary Paffett, has confirmed that he will remain a McLaren test driver in 2010.

Bigger plate, bump drafting for Daytona  There is talk NASCAR plans to add engine horsepower, allow bump drafting and do away with the yellow-line rule for Speed Weeks at Daytona International Speedway.  The consensus opinion among Sprint Cup Series competitors was positive during Saturday's Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at the Speedway.

"I think the bigger restrictor plate I think is a good thing," driver Scott Speed said. "It's good for everyone. I think it will allow us to race more. I think that was a clear decision."

"I think NASCAR is putting is back into our hands as drivers to take a little bit better care of each other out there on the racetrack," driver David Reutimann said. "I think there's some really good stuff going on." More ...

Harvick to leave RCR?  
Kevin Harvick
Kevin Harvick, whose last regular-season Sprint Cup Series victory was the 2007 Daytona 500 winner, has one year left on his contract at Richard Childress Racing. He won't talk about 2012.

"I'm not getting in the middle of it," he said. "There's enough people that can handle all that stuff. When it all boils down to it, it's all about winning races and that's all I care about.

"We're going to come into the season, and we're going to race a lot this year, and we're going to have fun. That's my main goal for the year, to have fun. How it all plays out, I couldn't tell you. I'm not going to get into all of that right now. We haven't even got on the track. And we're going to come to Daytona and race, and we're going to have a good time this year." Daytona Beach News Journal

Daytona 500 might sellout  Daytona International Speedway president Robin Braig said he expects a "full house" for the Feb. 14 Daytona 500 after being asked about ticket sales. "The recovery of the (ticket) renewals were less than expected and we did not pace throughout the year ahead of last year's sales," Braig said. "We are picking up, so we expect to have a full house."

Braig said the frontstretch grandstand seats are nearly sold out and that all suites in the tri-oval area are spoken for. "We have only a few suites left on the backstretch," he said.

Braig said the economy has affected all forms of entertainment, including sports. "The Super Bowl is not sold out and neither are the playoff games, or Disney or Universal or anybody else," he said. "I'm not trying to make excuses here, but we won't be the only major sports facility that may not have a sellout." Daytona Beach News Journal

tv news
NASCAR, IRL dumped in Europe?  Sky Sports have confirmed they will not be showing any live NASCAR Sprint Cup races this season and it's believed rival broadcasters Motors TV and Eurosport won't show it either.  However, since ESPN is now in Europe and tied at the hip with NASCAR, don't be surprised if they pick up the coverage.

Meanwhile, there are also rumors that IRL coverage will also be dropped by Sky Sports as they look to change their motorsports output to something more in tune with what Europe race fans want.  NASCAR and the IRL do not race in Europe, and European fans cannot identify with cars droning around in circles for hours, so why should they bother to show their races.

Bernie still has doubts about grid in Bahrain  
Like a drill sergeant, Bernie is pushing the teams with some negative motivation tactics
Formula one boss Bernie Ecclestone said on Thursday he feared several teams might not make it onto the grid when this season starts because of the financial crisis.
The new season begins in Bahrain on March 14, but Ecclestone is not convinced all 13 registered teams, particularly the four new additions, will be ready to race.

''I can already imagine that certain teams will not be on the starting grid,'' Ecclestone said, according to a report from German sports agency SID.

''They assure us the situation is not dramatic, but I am not so sure. As we all know, there is a world economic crisis and so it is very difficult for a new team to raise the necessary funds, especially if the budgets are reduced.''

Lotus, Campos, USF1 and Manor are the new teams and both Campos and USF1 are thought to be struggling to be ready in time for Bahrain. F1

IndyCar Silly Season Latest  UPDATE Graham Rahal still doesn't have a contract for 2010. It had been assumed he would stay with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing -- and he still might -- but he doesn't have an offer. Gil de Ferran has said Rahal is his No. 1 choice if he can arrange the final half of the necessary sponsorship to keep De Ferran Motorsports going. Ganassi officials also have discussed hiring Rahal, if more funding can be found.

The Newman/Haas/Lanigan team could have two cars or three depending on what happens with Rahal. Alex Lloyd and Hideki Mutoh are expected to finalize deals with the team. Mutoh did not attend Tuesday's meeting because of visa issues in Tokyo.

Firestone Indy Lights driver Ana Beatriz said on her Web site she plans to compete in at least a few IndyCar races this season, including the season-opening race in Brazil, her home country, but she has not indicated a team. She attended the meeting with de Ferran and his partner, Robert Clarke, who is her manager.

Dan Wheldon was at the meeting, too, though he's severely bruised after falling out of a two-man bobsled on ice at 65 mph last weekend at Lake Placid, N.Y. "It was the biggest hit I've ever had, including (two flips) in an Indy car," he said. Wheldon can laugh now, but he got off the track shortly before the bobsled and its driver made a loop and returned at high speed.

Dale Coyne is confident his small team will field two cars, and he said driver announcements are due by the end of the month. Justin Wilson drove the No. 18 car last year, but rumors of a switch to Dreyer & Reinbold Racing are in the air. Wilson didn't stay in town long; his wife gave birth to their second daughter this week in Denver.

Eric Bachelart, who owns Conquest Racing, remains mum on his driver plans, but he attended the meeting with Bruno Junqueira and former Champ Car driver Jan Heylen. Indy Star [Editor's Note: Our 2010 IndyCar Silly Season page (above) has been updated with this information] More ...

tv news
Showtime show to replace SPEED show?  John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal reported the new line-up for the Inside NASCAR series that will debut on Showtime in February. Fox's Chris Myers will host. On the panel are TNT's Kyle Petty, SPEED's Randy Pemberton and ESPN's Brad Daugherty. Petty and Pemberton are NASCAR TV veterans who have extensive family backgrounds in the sport. Myers departs the NASCAR scene after the Fox races and moves to other assignments. Daugherty is an active Sprint Cup Series owner and has fought that issue in his day job with ESPN. Inside NASCAR debuts on Showtime February 10 and will run for 38 weeks. It will be bundled with Showtimes's Inside the NFL as a sports TV block. Press information sent to the media recently lists Michael Waltrip's TV background. "In addition to his role as co-owner, Waltrip has been a popular television personality on SPEED since 1996. He's an analyst for its NASCAR Camping World Truck Series broadcasts and was an original member of one of the longest running shows on the cable network, "This Week in NASCAR" 1996-2009." That would seem to put an unofficial end to rumors that TWIN was returning for 2010. There has still been no comment from SPEED. Daly Planet
Kenseth car close to announcing sponsor  Three of Roush Fenway Racing's four Cup cars, for drivers #6-David Ragan (UPS), #16-Greg Biffle (3M/Post It) and #99-Carl Edwards (Aflac/Subway/Kellogg's) are fully sponsored, Smith said; but 2003 Cup champion Matt Kenseth's #17 Ford is not. "Within a very few days I think we'll be able to announce we have a fully-sponsored 17 car," RFR president Geoff Smith said of the car that has a partial season of funding from Crown Royal. (NASCAR.com)
Silverstone track configuration undecided  
The new Arena section - seen in the middle of the picture - could be used for this year's race
Organizers at Silverstone are yet to confirm whether this year's British Grand Prix will be staged on the traditional Grand Prix circuit or whether a switch to the new Arena layout will take place. The race, Round 10 of the 2010 World Championship, will be held on 11 July.

With the new Arena setup having been chiefly introduced for the MotoGP event, which moves from Donington Park, Silverstone Managing Director Richard Philips admits that plans are not yet confirmed with regards to which track configuration will be used for the F1 race.

"We're doing a lot of work at the moment," Phillips said at the Autosport International show on Thursday. "If you went to Silverstone now, you wouldn't recognize it; we're building the new Arena circuit and it's gone to the FIA for homologation, so we should be able to run MotoGP and F1 on it.

"The issue, really, for 2010 is whether we can do that logistically - we maybe have issues with the Paddock Club, Paddock Club parking and things like that."

Phillips added that much work is currently ongoing on all parts of the Northamptonshire venue, with the Stowe circuit also being modified. The new Arena layout will see competitors turn right at Abbey, onto the International Circuit (in the opposite direction) before a new complex of corners leads the track onto the National Straight and down to Priory corner.

The introduction of the Arena circuit could cause upsets for F1 enthusiasts, however, as the high-speed Bridge corner - generally regarded as one of the best in the sport - would not be featured. gpupdate.net

Versus/Direct TV dispute resolution?  We are getting some buzz about Versus patching up their relationship with Direct TV (or vice versa depending on who you ask)...we will keep you posted...
Virgin car to make early debut  UPDATE There is a rumor circulating that the Virgin team will badge their Cosworth power plant with a new Russian sports car brand; Marussia, who was announced as one of the team sponsors recently. This one seems to make sense, but is currently being denied. So we will be looking for this when they debut the car.

01/13/10 Virgin Racing appear poised to make their track debut at the second official pre-season test in Jerez next month. More ...
NASCAR to drop Martinsville race?  Rumor has it that NASCAR will give one of Martinsville's two Sprint Cup races to Kentucky Speedway.
Korean tire makers eye F1 supply contract  (GMM)  Two Korean tire manufacturers are reportedly interested in becoming the sport's new official tire supplier for the three-year tenure beginning in 2011.

That information was reported by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, although it added that formula one chiefs were keen to tweak the rules in a bid to convince Bridgestone to stay.

The Japanese company announced last November that it would honor the last season of its contract this year and then pull out of F1 at the end of 2010. More ...

Ericsson in running for Mercedes GP test seat  (GMM)  Nick Heidfeld has slipped down the list of candidates for the reserve driver role with Mercedes GP in 2010.

Prior to Michael Schumacher deciding to make his F1 return this year, 32-year-old Heidfeld was considered a favorite for the race seat alongside Nico Rosberg.

Following a career spanning 169 grands prix, most recently with BMW-Sauber, the German was then linked with the third seat at Mercedes, as well as Renault's vacant race cockpit.

But Finland's Turun Sanomat reports that a Swedish teenager, the reigning Japanese F3 champion Marcus Ericsson, is in fact a more likely candidate for the Mercedes opening. More ...

F1 to introduce shortcut gimmicks?  Bernie Ecclestone wants to introduce "shortcuts" on Formula One race tracks to encourage drivers' overtaking for the sport's promoted entertainment, the F1 supremo said on Wednesday.

The idea would be another radical change to the sport with nothing similar ever having been adopted, but it needs to seek teams' support first.

"I've tried to push the teams with a number of proposals. Imagine a shortcut which a driver can use five times every race. It would stop people getting stuck behind others. It would be good for TV," Ecclestone told reporters at Ferrari's pre-season ski retreat in Madonna Di Campiglio of Italy.

Ecclestone complained that brakes in Formula One cars were too efficient and reduced the amount of overtaking which fans like to watch.

Despite believing the sport can be improved, the Briton reckoned this season would be among the best with Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and the returning Michael Schumacher all on the grid.

Roush sells 26 car and a qualifying "pass"  UPDATE West Wardsboro [Vermont] businessman Bill Jenkins has purchased the car number, owner points, and equipment from the #26 team formerly campaigned by Roush Fenway Racing and driver Jamie McMurray in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Jenkins plans to contest the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule beginning with next month's Daytona 500 at Daytona Int'l Speedway in Florida. "I'm a huge race fan and I've always wanted to do this," Jenkins told Vermont Motorsports Magazine on Tuesday. "The opportunity presented itself, and I took it." Jenkins and his wife, Sandy, are the owners of Latitude 43, an organic soap company. Originally from New York City, Jenkins moved to New England in 1990 and has homes in Vermont and Maine. He plans to keep strong ties to the northeast with his new adventure, starting with the core of the team; Jenkins has hired North Haverhill, N.H. native Frank Stoddard as crew chief. Stoddard won 17 Sprint Cup Series races with Roush-Fenway Racing and driver Jeff Burton in the late 1990s and early 2000s. "We have a shop in Concord, N.C. and we could do all of our business down there, but we're staying true to Vermont," said Jenkins. "I consider Vermont my home, and I have for almost 20 years. There are a lot of race fans here in Vermont, and I'd like to think this may be a big deal for them and give them something to cheer for. We will do all of our banking through Vermont and try to focus on the state as much as we can." Jenkins said that he realizes there is a lot of work to do before the season starts on Feb. 14 in the biggest stock car race in the world. "We don't have any sponsors, and I realize that we will be the only blank canvas in the top-35 at Daytona," he said. "We've been contacted by several companies that otherwise couldn't become involved in NASCAR for various reasons, and we think we'll find something soon." The 61-year old said he drew inspiration from a close friend, Middlebury car dealership mogul and veteran Devil's Bowl Speedway racer Gardner Stone, before he made the transaction with Roush-Fenway: "One of Gardner's favorite sayings is 'Life isn't a dress rehearsal.' I've been around racing since I was a kid. I remember guys driving around with cigarettes in their mouths and their arms hanging out the window. Now, all these years later, I finally have a chance to get involved. It's all very exciting. I celebrated for about ten minutes when we signed the deal, but then I put my head down in the ditch and got to work." Vermont Motorsports Magazine

01/12/10 We just got word that Bill Jenkins has purchased the #26 number from Roush Fenway Racing. The transaction includes racing equipment plus 2009 owner points. So this brand new team will automatically qualify for the first five NASCAR Sprint Cup races in 2010. A driver and sponsor have not yet been named for the new team, which will be known as Latitude 43 Motor Sports, after the Vermont company owned and operated by Jenkins.
Top 2 Atlantic teams to bolt to IndyLights  Both Newman Wachs Racing and Team Stargate Worlds, (the top two teams in the 2009 Atlantic Championship) were at the Indycar/Indylights season preview meeting yesterday. Word is that not all the championship prize money has been paid to the two top teams or their drivers who finished 1st 2nd & 3rd in the 2009 championship!  Both teams are looking at other options for 2010 and beyond.
F1 plans more 2010 rules changes and return of KERS  F1 could have more compulsory pit stops and further changes to the points system in 2010, according to Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali.

He also said he wants to see KERS return in 2011 and gave a firm vote of confidence to his two drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.

Domenicali revealed the teams will have a meeting with the FIA to finalise the rules for 2010. He said: More ...

GM Said to Plan $1 Billion Revamp to Overhaul Aging Pick-ups  Bloomberg reports that General Motors Co. will spend as much as $1 billion updating its full- size pickup trucks, according to a person familiar with the situation.  The company will change designs and make crash-protection improvements, said the person, who declined to be identified because the budget is confidential. The Wall Street Journal reported the figure earlier.

GM has approved plans to revamp its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks, including interior and design changes, spokesman Scott Fosgard said in Detroit late yesterday. He declined to comment on how much the program would cost.

The automaker delayed a redesign of its profitable pickups in its unsuccessful effort to avoid bankruptcy because of the costs involved in retooling plants for new models. The automaker’s current range of pick-ups hasn’t been updated since the 2006 model year, making them the oldest truck designs in production in the U.S.

Schu to change helmet livery for 2010  
Schumacher’s Ferrari Red helmet just won't go with the silver of Mercedes
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher will race a new helmet livery to coincide with his return to formula one in 2010 with Mercedes GP.

The seven time world champion began his GP2 test at Jerez on Tuesday wearing his customary bright red livery, which had become synonymous with his successful career at Ferrari.

Some observers had expressed surprise that, although the Jerez-spec helmet featured a three-pointed star at the front, Schumacher did not elect to unveil a new color-scheme for his Mercedes career.

But Bild reports that the helmet manufacturer Schuberth is currently building Schumacher's 2010-spec prototypes, and "in the meantime Schumi uses the model of 2009".

"The paint scheme is also (going) to change," the German newspaper added.

Prior to Schumacher's debut of the all-red color scheme in 2000, at Benetton he won his first two world championships with a predominantly white and blue helmet design.

Sato in running for Renault seat  UPDATE (GMM)  Takuma Sato's management has declined to comment on reports the Japanese is a leading candidate to fill the second Renault race cockpit in 2010.

France's Auto Hebdo reported earlier this week that the 32-year-old veteran of 93 grands prix is in the running with Nick Heidfeld for the seat.

New team boss Eric Boullier said last week that five drivers, believed to include the Gravity Sport-managed Ho-Pin Tung and Jerome d'Ambrosio, are on the shortlist to be Robert Kubica's teammate.

He added: "We have made progress but are still far from being able to disclose the (driver's) name."

Takuma Sato
01/11/10 (GMM)  Takuma Sato has emerged as a leading candidate to be Robert Kubica's Renault teammate in 2010, according to Auto Hebdo.

The French publication said the Japanese veteran, to turn 33 later this month, is effectively vying for the seat with Nick Heidfeld.

New team boss Eric Boullier is believed to have compiled a shortlist featuring three other names, including the Gravity Sport-managed Ho-Pin Tung and Jerome d'Ambrosio, and the Frenchman Romain Grosjean. More ...

Campos to announce Teixeira investment  (GMM)  A partnership between the South African millionaire Tony Teixeira and the new Spanish F1 team Campos could be announced imminently.

That information was reported by the sports newspaper Diario AS, following reports linking A1GP boss Teixeira with the possible part-sale of the Campos Meta 1 outfit.

"The agreement will become public in the next hours," said the Spanish publication, adding that Teixeira's investment will be between EUR 3 and 4 million.

Virgin F1 team principal sacked  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Virgin Racing, Britain’s new Formula One team, has confirmed the appointment of John Booth as Team Principal. John will replace Alex Tai, who occupied this role during the launch phase of the team. As part of the planned evolution of the team and continued development of the business, Alex has handed on the role of CEO and Team Principal of Virgin Racing to return to his passion for new ventures.

John previously held the position of the team’s Sporting Director and he was also the founder of Manor Motorsport.

Etienne de Villiers, Chairman of Virgin Racing, said: “John’s impressive racing pedigree and reputation is beyond question in the critical role of Team Principal. John will be joined by Graeme Lowdon as CEO who previously held the position of Director of Racing. He was one of the founders of the original Manor Grand Prix team and a key architect of its successful formation last year. Graeme has a proven track record with Manor Grand Prix and is a formidable operator with an excellent reputation in the sport. Their combined experience and expertise make them the ideal candidates to lead the Virgin Racing team as we head into an exciting first season.” More ...

Sandbagging at Daytona test days...  UPDATE More on the sandbagging front, the big news out of the Daytona 24 Hour 3 day test was the Fords were 3 to 4 mph faster than any other car at the end of the straights, and many of them were sandbagging.  Didn’t go unnoticed by all of the other teams and there is a HUGE controversy and storm over it.

We have been hearing a lot of chatter that the BMW DP engine will be the beat to chase down though, as the high horsepower unit. This makes sense, because Chip Ganassi usually doesn't bet on anything but the strongest horse...

01/11/10 We have been talking to teams and found out that the teams know their hot lap before GrandAm does, buy taking their time from a different point on the track than the official timing and scoring spot.

The teams all have their own telemetry of course, and most of them are even GPS based. They simply put their timing point on the back side of the track. So when they are on a hot lap, they can dial it back so they don’t show their hand to the other teams.

However, you can bet that all the teams do that. So really, all we are seeing is the team that decided to top the other with whatever lap they wanted to show.

So what does it really mean to the fans and the media? Absolutely nothing of course!

Briatore linked with Italian football role  (GMM)  Flavio Briatore has been linked with a high profile role in the world of Italian football.

The Italian gossip website Dagospia said the 59-year-old Italian, ousted from his role as Renault's team boss over the crashgate scandal last year, could take over from Jean-Claude Blanc as president of the famous club Juventus.

Ironically, Blanc become chairman in the wake of the so-called Calciopoli match-fixing scandal of 2006, when the previous administration resigned.

He is under fire at present due to beleaguered Juventus' recent poor performances.

Dagospia said Briatore, already a co-owner and director of the London club Queens Park Rangers alongside his friend Bernie Ecclestone, is well connected with the Agnelli family, of Fiat and Ferrari fame and long-time Juventus shareholders.

Briatore last week won his legal action against the FIA's imposition of a lifetime ban from motor racing, which would have had implications according to the Football League's "fit and proper persons" test.

The FIA has appealed the ruling of the French court.

Campos F1 project 'still alive' ?  UPDATE (GMM)  Italian race car maker Dallara has denied reports the new Spanish team Campos has fallen behind in payments.

Amid speculation that Campos is looking to sell up after failing to compile a full budget for 2010, Dallara said it is not true that the team is not paying its bills.

"It is not true, not from our side at least," chief executive officer Andrea Pontremoli said in a BBC Sport report.

"We are still proceeding to build the car and it has passed its crash tests."

The report said Campos is, like Lotus, expected to test the car for the first time at the third winter test in mid February.

It is also rumored that the team has already agreed to sell a major stake to the South African businessman Tony Teixeira. More ...

Larger plate at Daytona?  Sources tell Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody that NASCAR could mandate a larger restrictor plate for this year's running of the Daytona 500. Sprint Cup Series racers were required to run a 31/32" plate at Daytona and Talladega last season, but multiple sources who attended a meeting with NASCAR today say the sanctioning body may allow a bigger plate this season in an effort to boost horsepower, torque and throttle response. That move would reportedly come as part of a package of changes that could include aerodynamic modifications to the rear window area and a switch from rear wings to old-style rear spoilers. A number of procedural changes are also bring discussed, including the abolition of no bumping zones and the so-called "yellow line rule" at both Daytona and Talladega. A spokesman for NASCAR declined to comment when asked about the restrictor plate change earlier today, saying that meetings are ongoing with drivers and teams, and that no final decisions have been made. Sirius Speedway
Schu to test GP2 car at Jerez this week  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.

01/10/10 (GMM)  Michael Schumacher will this week shift his return to formula one into a higher gear.

Reports in Blick (Switzerland) and Bild (Germany) reveal that, amid the current F1 testing ban, the 41-year-old will drive a GP2 car at the Jerez circuit in Spain.

The test, reportedly approved by the governing FIA, is reportedly scheduled to take place between Tuesday and Thursday.

Bild said the GP2 car is being provided by the British team Super Nova.

McLaren to launch MP4-25 before Valencia debut  (GMM)  McLaren's 2010 car will reportedly be unveiled the week before it makes its test debut in Valencia at the beginning of February.

The British team announced a week ago that the MP4-25 will join the action in the hands of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton at the first group test of the pre-season at the Ricardo Tormo circuit.

The Mirror newspaper on Monday said McLaren "will unveil their new car" in "a little over a fortnight".  The Valencia test kicks off in 20 days.

"I'm excited," said 2008 world champion Hamilton.  "I can't wait to see the new car and test it." More ...

Some ways NASCAR teams cheat  Another change, though not one mandated by NASCAR, is striking: the lowly alternator.

Now you, the street-car consumer, could buy an engine alternator for maybe $30 or so for your family sedan. But NASCAR race car alternators are a bit more expensive: five years ago a NASCAR alternator would run about $500. Last season Cup team alternators were being priced at $2900. This year -- the price has jumped to $6,000. Why? Because the car-of-tomorrow apparently generates so much heat under the hood that teams have been having electrical failures.

Race car electronics is big business among NASCAR engineers these days, in more ways than one -- Want legal traction control, for flat tracks like Martinsville and Phoenix? If you do it right, you can rig your car's electrical system to where it has an electrical 'kill' system in the corners, with less voltage going to the engine, to keep the car from spinning the rear wheels coming off the corners. Want to see it in action? Check the exhaust from some cars in the corners -- with those huge streaks of flame.
And it's all legal. More ...

Rear Spoilers, Yellow Lines, "No Bumping Zones" May Disappear In 2010  UPDATE #3 On Jan. 21 at the NASCAR Research & Development Center, officials from NASCAR are expected to announce a series of rules revisions, some drastic, others less so. It is expected that the controversial rear wing, one of the COT's most defining characteristics, will be scrapped in favor of a more traditional blade spoiler like the NASCAR Nationwide Series cars use. Also being looked it is the front splitter, which runs parallel to the racing surface and replaced the conventional front air dam. NASCAR officials also are talking about eliminating the no-passing zones at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, as well as other as-year unspecified changes, all aimed at helping re-energize interest in the sport. NASCAR officials said Saturday at the Sprint Sound & Speed event that final decisions about the modifications have not been made, but will be announced Jan. 21. SPEEDtv

NASCAR teams are testing this week at Texas World Speedway [#12-Keselowski tested at TWS last week], to see how that planned new rear spoiler might work on their Sprint Cup cars, according to stock car crews. NASCAR officials are tentatively planning to change the rear wing on the Cup cars to a more standard flat rear spoiler, beginning either with the Bristol 500 March 21 or Martinsville 500 March 28. But it will be the Cup races at Phoenix April 10th and Texas April 18th that would be the major test of the new spoiler, which is designed to add downforce to the cars and make them handle better. There are more changes coming too, apparently, with Daytona cars possibly sporting a new 'shark fin' on the rear deck, to make them more stable when they get sideways. The 'shark fin' would be a three-inch tall fin running from the top of the rear window to the rear wing, according to crews. How that might be tested is unclear, since NASCAR has banned testing at Daytona and Talladega. While the long-standard flat rear spoiler on Cup and Nationwide cars has basically been just a $5 piece of steel, bolted on to the rear deck, the new flat rear spoiler will apparently be another 'over-engineered' piece by NASCAR, sold to the teams by NASCAR and installed at each track by NASCAR officials. mikemulhern.net More ...
F1 teams considering Bahrain test  (GMM)  F1 teams are discussing the possibility of testing in Bahrain prior to the desert Kingdom's 2010 season opener.

Track boss Martin Whitmaker told the Gulf Daily News that the talks are taking place despite rules preventing more than the 15 scheduled pre-season test days in Spain next month.

He said Bahrain could enter the frame in the event of poor weather at the European testing, to take place at Valencia, Jerez and Barcelona throughout February.

"If teams who want to come here can get the permission of their rivals, we would be glad to welcome them," said Whitaker. More ...

New A1GP Series to be announced  According to inside AutoRacing1.com sources, the A1GP will announce a new series and backers at the Autosport show on the 17th, or the announcement may get delayed and revealed in Italy on the 21st of January.

With that said, if it is another series with all flyaway races, the costs will be prohibitive and you can stick a fork in it before it even begins.
Ganassi going with BMW  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.

12/08/09 From what we heard at today's Motorsports Business Forum at the PRI show in Orlando, Chip Ganassi's Grand-Am Daytona Prototype car will run with BMW power in 2010.  His team previously ran with Lexus power, but Lexus left the sport at the end of the 2009 season.  If true we would expect an announcement soon.  For more highlights at today's forum, read our report.
Chrysler will show electric Fiat 500  Chrysler will show off two vehicles at next month's Detroit auto show hinting at future collaborations under Italy's Fiat S.p.A, according to two sources familiar with the plans.  Appearing on the Chrysler stand will be:

-- An electric version of the Fiat 500 minicar.

-- A Lancia Delta mid-size hatchback with a Chrysler grille.

Chrysler has no immediate plans to sell either of the vehicles in North America, said the sources, who declined to be identified. CEO Sergio Marchionne plans to gradually merge the Lancia and Chrysler brands. They are both under the guidance of brand CEO Olivier Francois, appointed in the aftermath of Fiat taking control of the U.S. automaker following its U.S.-steered rescue and bankruptcy this spring.  AutoWeek

Dale Coyne team to announce new alliance  Word is that IZOD IndyCar Series team owner Dale Coyne will announce on Monday, Jan. 11th the team's new alliance and he will be announcing the team's plans for the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season.
Renault to drop young drivers program?  Genii Capital’s investment in Renault’s F1 program sounded like great news for the young drivers supported by the Luxembourg-based company through Gravity Sports, but the latest stories coming from England suggest this program may be axed to allow Gerard Lopez’s company to focus its efforts in this new venture.

Jerome d’Ambrosio and Ho-Pin Tung’s hopes of making it to Formula One this year with Renault have all but been ruled out by new Team Principal Eric Boullier, who said recently, “it will be even more difficult for a driver from Gravity to get the seat alongside Kubica, as they would really have to prove their worth to be chosen.” More ...

All ride-buying rookies for USF1  (GMM)  Peter Windsor has all but confirmed speculation the new American team USF1 will field two rookies for its grand prix debut in March.

Amid constant rumors that the Charlotte based outfit will not make it to Bahrain at all, it has been reported that experienced drivers earlier linked to USF1 - including Pedro de la Rosa, Jacques Villeneuve and Alex Wurz - are no longer in the running.

Instead, the team is expected to sign a deal with the Argentine touring car driver Jose Maria Lopez, who apparently has $8m of sponsorship in tow, while Britain's James Rossiter has also been speculatively mentioned.

Both have F1 experience limited only to some testing, and commercial backing. More ...

No 4th car for RCR in 2010?  Richard Childress Racing will move into the future as a three-car team for 2010. Sponsorship was not available to run Casey Mears' #07 car this season but #31-Jeff Burton, #29-Kevin Harvick and #33-Clint Bowyer will remain. "Right now we're going to run three Cup teams out of our shop," said team owner Richard Childress, "and possibly a rookie somewhere along the line but, right now, it's three teams. Casey, I'm hoping to try to find him something (at another team). He hasn't landed anything yet. He's a great guy and did a great job for us at the end of the year and I just wish there was something we could do with him but right now, I don't want to do anything with a fourth team that's going to take away from our other three teams." Peoria Journal Star
Villeneuve still working on F1 return for 2010  (GMM)  Jacques Villeneuve is still not writing off his chances of making a return to formula one in 2010.

The 1997 world champion was connected with a seat at the new Lotus team, but the Malaysian outfit ultimately signed Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen.

Media outlets had linked the French-Canadian's visit to Lotus' British headquarters in late November with the possibility of an F1 seat.

"A lot of people got carried away with the Lotus thing," the 38-year-old told auto123.com.

"I wanted to pay a visit to my good buddy Gino (Rosato) who's now working for Lotus, but that's the production car company.  It has nothing to do with the new formula one team whatsoever," he insisted. More ...

Yet another F1 points scoring change possible  (GMM)  Yet another change to F1's points system is on the agenda ahead of the 2010 season, according to reports.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport and Finland's Turun Sanomat report that, after the existing points system was amended in December, talks to implement yet another change are now taking place.

The latest change follows criticism that the new points system, awarding 25 points instead of 10 to first place and extending the scoring down to tenth place, did not address the view that grand prix winners should be proportionately better rewarded for their feats.

The reports claim that, instead of getting 20 points, second place should receive just 18 points compared with the winner's 25. More ...

D'Ambrosio tipped for 2010 Renault seat  UPDATE #2 (GMM)  Jerome d'Ambrosio has played down intensifying speculation that he is close to being named as Robert Kubica's teammate at Renault for 2010.

The 24-year-old is part of the Gravity Sport management stable, which until now has been run by the newly Genii Capital-controlled team's new boss Eric Boullier.

Belgian d'Ambrosio drove in GP2 last year for DAMS, a French team formerly headed by Boullier.

D'Ambrosio also has historical ties to Renault, including as a prominent member of the French marque's driver development program, and stints in Formula Renault and the Renault World Series.

But he told the Belgian sports newspaper La Derniere Heure: "F1 is not on the agenda.

"Everything that has been happening in recent weeks has been positive for me, but it is no guarantee of anything.

"My hope is to race in grands prix one day.  But before that, I have to focus on my job in GP2, which is to win races."

D'Ambrosio added that he hopes to have moved closer to the F1 grid by the end of 2010.

"If at the end of the year I have not had the opportunity to sit in an F1 car, it becomes difficult.  But my goal is no longer a dream, even if I am not getting myself distracted," he said.

01/07/10 (GMM)  Robert Kubica's teammate at Renault in 2010 is not likely to be a Frenchman, Eric Boullier has admitted.

The Enstone based team, recently taken over by Luxembourg based investment company Genii Capital, has installed the 36-year-old Frenchman as its new permanent boss.

But Boullier told French radio RMC that none of his countrymen are high on the list of potential teammates for the 25-year-old Pole Kubica.

Boullier's comments are a blow to Romain Grosjean, the Swiss born Frenchman who completed the 2009 season for Renault and had hoped to retain the seat this season.

He said the shortlist for the second cockpit has been recently reduced from ten to just five drivers. More ...

Old drivers to run Bud Shootout thanks to new rules  UPDATE When NASCAR announced a revised format for this season's Shootout race, two-time Shootout winner Ken Schrader came knocking on Red Bull Racing Team's door. With Schrader's past winners spot, and a #82 team eager to start the season, the pairing just made sense. Schrader will pilot the #82 Red Bull Toyota for the February 6 feature race at Daytona International Speedway. Scott Speed, the full- time driver of the #82, is not one of the drivers eligible to compete in the Shootout. Speed will take back the reins of the Red Bull Toyota for the Daytona 500 on February 14. "Kenny's desire and dedication to NASCAR has always made him a favorite among fans and throughout the garage area," said VP and General Manager Jay Frye. "We're excited he approached us with the idea and are looking forward to giving him the opportunity he deserves and has earned." The NASCAR veteran earned a starting spot in this season's race by winning the event in both 1989 and 1990. TRB PR

01/06/10 Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody is reporting NASCAR Sprint cup legend Bill Elliott is likely to be behind the wheel of Roush-Fenway Racing's #6 UPS Ford in the February 6 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. Elliott ran a partial schedule with Wood Brothers Racing this past season, and not looking to quite driving any time soon. The Woods have no plans to compete in the Bud Shootout, leaving Elliott looking for another team that might want to increase their shot at the million dollar prize. The #6 regular driver Ragan is not eligible for the race, while Elliott qualifies as a former Sprint Cup, Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400 and Budweiser Shootout champion.

We are also getting word that veteran Ken Schrader, who won the Bud Shootout in 1989 and 1990 will also shake off the mothballs from the driving suit to drive the #82 Red Bull Racing Toyota in the February 6th million dollar all-star event.
Double-diffuser ban in the works for 2011  The current buzz among teams right now is that they are close to agreeing to ban double diffusers for 2011 and beyond, in a bid to cut downforce, slow the cars a bit, and create closer racing.

The introduction of double diffusers into F1 was a major rules scrum last season, when rivals protested the dominant design by Brawn GP, Williams and Toyota in the opening races of the season. FIA International Court of Appeal, was ultimately deemed fully legal and other teams were forced to play catch-up.

The teams have been faced with higher development costs, and the cars began to space out again, decreasing the appeal of the on-track product, creating a situation where budgets were stretched with no real on-track benefit for the sport as a whole. More ...
Lotus first new team to hit the track  It looks like Lotus will be the first team to turn a wheel on-track this season.

Lotus is scheduled to get its new Formula 1 car out on track for the first time at Jerez in Spain from February 17, AUTOSPORT can reveal.

They announced they will join the final two F1 tests of the winter that take place before the first race of the season in Bahrain.

Gascoyne recently said "We are actually a week ahead of schedule. When we got the entry on September 12, our schedule said we would fire up on February 12 - and we are now scheduled to fire up on February 5.

"After that, we will be at the second Jerez test and then the final one at Barcelona. That will be the first time the world will see the car in action - and we are hoping that chassis two will run for the last two days of the Barcelona test."

Nespresso to be Sauber sponsor  (GMM)  After losing Petronas to Mercedes, Sauber is close to inking a deal with a new sponsor.

Rumors indicate that the Hinwil based team will sign a sponsorship contract to promote Nespresso, a coffee subsidiary of the well-known foods company Nestle.

European reports said the deal could be worth up to 10 million euros to the formerly BMW-owned team in 2010.

IRL poised to get it wrong again  The IRL appears close to bowing to Honda's desire to make the next generation IndyCar engine a V8, which will result in VW/Porsche/Audi walking away from a possible deal to enter the series. Further exasperating the situation is the fact this decision will put IndyCar out of touch with the auto industry....again.

Little engines will be the big stars at next week's North American International Auto Show.

Of the 40 North American and worldwide vehicle introductions scheduled during press preview days Monday and Tuesday, most will be fuel-efficient, stylish vehicles with four-cylinder engines under the hood.

The days of the V-8 in passenger cars are over and things are starting to look bleak for the venerable V-6, as the four-cylinder engine starts to replace it in bigger cars and crossovers. It's a sign of the times: Small engines offer more power than ever before and consumers want a fallback vehicle in case gas prices jump again. More ...
More signs of trouble at NASCAR  UPDATE #4 Street & Smith's Sports Group announced the merger of NASCAR Scene into an enhanced NASCAR Illustrated and plans to concentrate race and breaking news coverage of the sport on its Web site, scenedaily.com. Subscribers to the weekly NASCAR Scene will begin receiving the monthly NASCAR Illustrated, beginning with the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Preview Issue in February. NASCAR Illustrated will see the addition of a number of Scene's award-winning staffers and its most popular features as it continues to offer a unique behind-the-scenes look at the country's most popular form of motorsports. The enhanced magazine will also add coverage of NASCAR's Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series for the first time. "We're excited about the opportunity to offer our expanded subscriber base NASCAR Illustrated's special look at the fun and excitement that the sport offers," Publisher Michael J. Fresina said. "With the opening of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in spring and what should be one of the most competitive seasons ever on the track, 2010 promises to be a special year for the sport's fans and our readers, and we're looking forward to it." scenedaily.com

01/06/10 It appears that NASCAR's Sprint Cup will not be without a rookie this year, as Kevin Conway is entered with Front Row Motorsports  see related new item

01/06/10 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  NASCAR Scene veteran editor Steve Waid was released along with reporters Jeff Gluck and Mike Hembree. Also, Lee Montgomery, Rea White, Jared Turner and David Exum were out. Finally, Ben White, Mark Sluder, and Shea Alexander were among those let go.

All in all, slightly less than 30 employees of NASCAR Scene and NASCAR Illustrated were released by the Street and Smith Sports Group. Jim Utter from the Charlotte Observer advised that one main website will emerge from the rubble, blending the content of scenedaily.com and NASCAR Illustrated. The actual publications are rumored to be ceasing operation.

Still employed are familiar names like Bob Pockrass, Jeff Owens and Kenny Bruce. Expect their content to be shared across the various websites owned and operated by Street and Smith, including the Sporting News. A major revamp of the company, including the various sports properties, is sure to follow. A move like this was not preceded by a successful operating year. Things are tough and this is the result.

01/06/10 And if you're looking to buy some souvenir tee-shirts and die-cast model cars this spring, well, it looks like the company that owns the rights to team souvenirs – Motorsports Authentics, a company owned jointly by the France family's International Speedway Corp. (ISC) and Bruton Smith's Speedway Motorsports (SMI) – is also on the ropes, trying to figure out a way to pay off the millions it owes teams...in an era where no one, it seems, is very interested in $25 tee-shirts and other expensive NASCAR souvenirs. The company says bankruptcy is a possibility. ISC and SMI bought Motorsports Authentics in 2005 for $250 million; the company has been recently valued at about $36 million. The company is trying to negotiate settlements with the NASCAR teams with which it has contracts. MikeMulhern.net

01/05/10 Will this year’s NASCAR rookie class produce another potential star?



Because there is no 2010 rookie class for NASCAR’s top series, and likely won’t be.  For the first time since the rookie award was created in 1957, it appears NASCAR will have no true rookies running in its top series next season.

The lack of a rookie driver in 2010 is both a shame and a big problem, one that NASCAR and its teams better hope does not become a trend. More ...

2010 Mercedes to be launched January 25?  (GMM)  The 2010 Mercedes GP car will be launched on January 25, according to a report in Germany's Sport Bild weekly.

It emerged shortly after Christmas that the unveiling event would take place late this month in Stuttgart, probably at the Mercedes-Benz museum in Unterturkheim.

In its latest edition on Wednesday, the magazine also revealed that the car will be called the 'Mercedes-Petronas RB1', with the 'RB' standing for team boss Ross Brawn.

Meanwhile, it is claimed that whether Michael Schumacher or Nico Rosberg will conduct the first test day with the car at Valencia on 1 February is yet to be decided.

NASCAR Scene going belly up  According to AutoRacing1.com sources, the NASCAR Scene publication is being shut down and 20 people have been laid off.  We hear the rest, including the membership the publication had, will be moved over to NASCAR Illustrated.  They fired the entire web crew we hear.
FIA to 'probably' appeal crashgate appeal outcome  (GMM)  F1's governing body will "probably" appeal the decision of a court to overturn the motor racing bans of crashgate conspirators Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds.

The news, reported by the Evening Standard, follows Tuesday's verdict of the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris, which heard the case in November.

"The court has decided that the punishment was illegal," the judge said, ordering the FIA to pay 15,000 euros in compensation to 59-year-old Briatore, and 5,000 euros to Symonds.

The court added that the outcome of the World Motor Sport Council held in September was "irregular", and gave the FIA 15 days to pay the compensation to avoid 10,000 euro per day fines.

It said the FIA's evidence was weak, and that lawyers were unable to question witnesses because their identity was withheld.

None of the parties have yet made official comment.

Heidfeld offered Mercedes reserve role - Bild  UPDATE (GMM)  Norbert Haug on Tuesday declined to confirm reports that Nick Heidfeld has been offered the test and reserve role at Mercedes GP for 2010.

"There has only been basic contact with Nick, which is what I have had for several years," the German marque's competition director told the German news agency DPA.

"We did talk to Nick about possibilities with Mercedes GP as well as McLaren-Mercedes," Haug added.

Heidfeld, 32, wrote on the blog on his official website that Michael Schumacher's decision to return to F1 with Mercedes this season had "affected me directly".

"It's relevant because there is less space (on the grid)," the veteran of 169 grands prix added.

"But I don't think I'm naive when I say that, especially after the past few weeks, the unexpected can happen.

"We are now looking forward and are focused on the best long-term option for my future.  I hope that in the coming weeks I can announce something concrete about my plans," said Heidfeld.

Nick Heidfeld
01/05/10 (GMM)  Nick Heidfeld has been offered the role as test and reserve driver for Mercedes GP in 2010, Germany's Bild reports.

The major daily newspaper said the move would complete what it describes as F1's new 'German national team', with compatriots Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg signed up to fill the race cockpits this season.

Heidfeld, 32, has raced continuously in F1 since 2000, but after the last four years with BMW-Sauber he had hoped to secure the race seat alongside Rosberg prior to Schumacher's decision to return.

Renault remains a possibility for the veteran of 169 grands prix, while Sauber is believed to have selected between Pedro de la Rosa, Giancarlo Fisichella and Christian Klien for the vacant seat alongside Kamui Kobayashi.

Apart from Renault and Sauber, the only other unconfirmed seats for 2010 are with Toro Rosso, Campos and USF1.

Corvette C7 Concept Car?  2011 Corvette C7 concept car based on the 63 split window.  Won't mind seeing these on the street.

Hunter-Reay to Andretti Autosport  UPDATE #6 As we reported back on December 27th as 'fact' - see Andretti Autosport press release on Hunter-Reay.

12/27/09 We are upgrading this rumor to 'fact' today.  According to AR1.com sources Hunter-Reay will drive the No. 27 Andretti car with backing by more than just IZOD.    The team now has 3 American drivers in its stable (Danica and Andretti's son Marco being the other two) and in Kanaan and Hunter-Reay now have at least two drivers that can help set the cars up to be more competitive than in 2009 where they won zero, count them, zero, races. We have updated our 2010 IndyCar Silly Season page above.

12/24/09 We are hearing that RHR's deal with Andretti is only for a couple of select races before the Indy 500 and for the 500 itself, but nothing thereafter. Could we see RHR win the Indy 500 and then be without a ride? We doubt that would happen, as the prize money from the race would keep the ride going for a few races if the team elected to use their share for that. We also doubt that the IRL and IZOD (who is also RHR's personal endorsement sponsor) would allow an Indy 500 winner to be sitting on the pit wall for the rest of the season. So in effect, RHR's future is in his own hands. He just has to win the biggest race on the planet, and he will be fine. Talk about pressure...

12/02/09 In an interview Tuesday to announce the Danica Patrick deal Michael Andretti has confirmed that Ryan Hunter Reay is in line for the final seat with Andretti Autosport next season.

Ryan Hunter-Reay
Andretti said Hunter-Reay was currently at the top of the list for his fourth car, which was driven by Hideki Mutoh this year.

"We have a lot of interest in Ryan for sure," said Andretti. [Editor's Note: Of course he would, he comes with IZOD backing]

"If it would all work out, it would be great. I think he'd be really a good addition to our line-up, and I think he could help push the other ones and make us all better. That would be our first choice at the moment. More ...

Kubica may leave Renault after Genii buyout  UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.  Robert Kubica will not leave Renault because the team was sold to the Genii group, his manager has confirmed.

Daniele Morelli said last month that it was "not automatic" that the 24-year-old Pole would honor his 2010 contract after the French carmaker sold a large stake.

But he told BBC Sport on Monday that Kubica only wanted "clarification of the new situation".

"We are going in the right direction," said Morelli.  "There were no doubts, really, but it was very important we understood who were in the key roles in the team and of course also the budget -- it is fundamental you have that for the updates to the car."

He denied the initial reluctance, reportedly backed by a contractual clause, was simply a grab for more money.

"It is totally untrue that we were asking for more money," said Morelli.

"It is not in our interests to take advantage.  We want the money for the team.

"Robert wants a performing car.  It's useless if the driver gets more money if you have a weak car and lose (performance) bonuses.  It's better to score points and make podiums than to earn more money," he added. More ...

Mansell plans to join Le Mans 24 Hours  
Nigel Mansell (center) with his two sons
Having taken part in the Le Mans Series with son Greg last year, 1992 World Champion Nigel Mansell is now looking to race in this year's prestigious Le Mans 24 Hour event after purchasing a share of the Beechdean Motorsport sports car team.

With Beechdean Mansell Motorsport now established, the outfit will join the LMP1 class in 2010 with a Ginetta-Zytek Z09R, with an appearance at Le Mans now on the cards; Greg will be joined by brother Leo throughout the season, with father Nigel set to join at certain races.

"I'm very happy to announce this partnership between myself and Beechdean," said Mansell Senior, who won the Formula 1 title with Williams in 1992. "The team comes fresh to the Le Mans Series with an impeccable pedigree and full support from Zytek. More ...

racing news
The future of racing?  Back at the dawn of the automobile, Paris was the centre of the world of the car, with a large number of competing automobile companies fighting to win the fast-developing market with new technologies. Many of them used motor racing to showcase their products and develop technology. This is reflected in the winners in the early days of the sport with French companies such as Panhard & Levassor, Mors, De Dion Bouton, Clement-Bayard, Richard-Brasier, Renault and Peugeot lading the way, to be followed by Bugatti, Delage, Darracq, Chenard & Walcker, Ballot, Salmson, Voisin, Hispano-Suiza and many others. They were based in small workshops to the west of Paris, in a cluster around the suburbs of Levallois and Suresnes. It is apt therefore that more than 100 years later a new generation of racing car is getting its first public exposure in the same district. More ...
Pantano again eyes IndyCar  A year after dropping Vitor Meira for Dan Wheldon, it looks like Panther Racing could be adding a second car for 2010. According to former GP2 champion and longtime F1 wannabe, Giorgio Pantano, he has a 60% chance of landing the 2nd Panther Racing IZOD IndyCar Series seat. In a Q&A with Stop and Go, 30-year old Pantano says that a decision should be made in early January.
F1 pole, fast laps to earn points in 2010?  
Ferrari’s Stefano Domenicali
(GMM)  More changes to the points scoring system to take effect in 2010 are possible, Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali has revealed.

Asked by the Italian newspaper La Stampa if just a month of pre-season testing is sufficient ahead of the 2010 race calendar, he answered: "It has to be.

"The conditions are the same for us all.  Then we wait for the decisions of the Sporting Working Group (SWG) of the FIA, which will meet in January to approve new rules."

Domenicali confirmed that the SWG's changes will be able to take effect for the 2010 world championship. More ...

Stefan GP still planning on 2010, may buy Toyota team  UPDATE #2 (GMM)  Stefan GP has announced that its 2010 car is named S-01. It is believed the single seater is the one designed this year by Toyota, prior to the Cologne based team's carmaker parent deciding to quit formula one.

Reports in recent days suggested that Stefan GP, a Serbian outfit, wants to race in 2010, but if not granted an official entry is ready to test the car.

The team's test program, to operate outside the FIA or FOTA rules, will reportedly be subsidized by offering the cockpit of the fully 2010-specification car to paying drivers or clients.

Stefan GP has confirmed that the S-01 has passed FIA-standard crash tests.

"(The) car will undergo full FIA tests as scheduled by the end of January 2010," a statement added.

12/24/09 (GMM)  Serbian businessman Zoran Stefanovic's interest in the Toyota formula one team stepped up a gear last week.

His outfit Stefan GP hopes to make its grand prix debut either next year or in 2011, and a recent visit to Toyota's Cologne headquarters has now been confirmed.

It has been reported that, because not bound by the Concorde Agreement, Stefan GP can take over Toyota's TF110 (2010) car design and test it at leisure, unless a vacancy on the 2010 grid arises and the team can immediately step into the sport.

"Mr. Stefanovic was in Toyota Motorsport in Cologne," Stefan GP confirmed.  "There was (a) meeting with Mr. (Yoshiaki) Kinoshita and other leading people."

Those other leading people included John Howett, and Toyota's F1 technical director Pascal Vasselon.

"It was very productive session and further cooperation are detailed," Stefan GP added. More ...

tv news
The end of races on 'free' TV on the horizon  For more than 60 years, TV stations have broadcast news, sports and entertainment for free and made their money by showing commercials. That might not work much longer.

The business model is unraveling at ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox and the local stations that carry the networks' programming. Cable TV and the Web have fractured the audience for free TV and siphoned its ad dollars. The recession has squeezed advertising further, forcing broadcasters to accelerate their push for new revenue to pay for programming. More ...
Mercedes tipped for January launch  German newspaper Bild has reported that, following the collapse of the common launch concept, the official unveiling of the new Mercedes Grand Prix car will take place at the Mercedes-Benz museum in Unterturkheim in late January.

The ‘paper also claims that the team’s star signing, F1 legend Michael Schumacher, will not drive the car during the first round of 2010 tests at Valencia, when only team-mate Nico Rosberg will be at the wheel.

Instead, Schumacher will make his much-awaited Mercedes F1 debut at the start of the following Jerez test on February 10.

Exotic car makers to offer hybrids.  UPDATE Word on the street is that Ferrari is building a hybrid based on the 599 GTB Fiorano, that uses a variation of the kinetic energy recovery system in its Formula 1 cars.

Foreign car insiders are speculating, that folks might be able to feast their eyes on the concept car at next year's Geneva Auto show which begins in March.

According to published reports, the vehicle uses a V12 engine up front with an electric motor at the rear transaxle and a lithium-ion battery. Not only will the vehicle have more bite, but the system will provide it with a start-stop function and regenerative braking, allowing it to offer a 35 percent better fuel economy.

Britain’s Autocar reported last month, that Ferrari has a hybrid drivetrain slated for the successor to the 612 Scaglietti and that we should actually see it in 2014.

11/11/09 Hey...how about this one. Buy a new hybrid that does 220 mph and 0-60 under 4 seconds, and gets 30mpg around town and yields fewer emission than a Honda Civic? It might just happen very soon. Personally, I think the presence of KERS in F1 has turned the exotic and luxury car maker's eye to the concept of more efficient vehicles, as well as a performance advantage for high end sports cars and sports sedans.

According to the publication Globe and Mail , Ferrari will come out with its first hybrid system on the upcoming replacement for its 612 Scaglietti grand touring car. Britain's Autocar magazine quoted unnamed Ferrari sources confirming that the Italian exotic car company is working on a hybrid system that will see electric power going to the front wheels, giving the car all-wheel-drive capability. The system reportedly won't be available before 2014.

Although Ferrari has not officially confirmed the report on the magazine's site, Ferrari CEO Amadeo Felisa confirmed at the most recent Frankfurt Auto show that the first Ferrari hybrid was “likely to be” a V12 model.

Spy shots have since appeared suggesting that the 612's replacement will be the next all-new V12 car from the home of the Prancing Horse. The hybrid system would not be available at that car's launch, but debut closer to the 2015 model year, said the latest report, released last week.

The current 612 offers a massive 5.7-litre V12 engine driving the rear wheels, but this hybrid system would focus more on improving handling and acceleration than fuel economy, according to the company insiders.

But Ferrari is nevertheless interested in reducing fuel consumption and lowering the emissions produced by its products, even though they and exotic car fans in general have long maintained that the limited numbers of these cars sold and the relatively low mileage they accumulate account for a tiny blip in the overall carbon footprint of the global auto industry.

Felisa confirmed that Ferrari's new-for-2009 California hardtop convertible would receive a start-stop system in 2010, which automatically turns off the engine at red lights and restarts it instantly upon letting go of the brakes, which is the system that accounts for the majority of real world fuel savings in most gas-electric hybrid vehicles.

Ferrari is not the only Italian car maker going the planet-friendlier route, while still maintaining its focus on high horsepower performance. Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann also admitted in August that the Volkswagen-controlled company will launch a hybrid model by 2015, likely in the Gallardo, he suggested to a German auto trade journal in August. Winkelmann said Lamborghini was not planning to go the all-electric route, which Mercedes-Benz will pioneer among supercars with its upcoming SLS eDrive, and which Lambo's sister company Audi has recently confirmed it will pursue with an all-electric version of its mid-engine R8.

Ralf Schumacher to Toro Rosso?  UPDATE #2 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Franz Tost has added his own denial to speculation Toro Rosso might pair confirmed driver Sebastien Buemi with Ralf Schumacher in 2010.

Schumacher, 34, has this week been back in the F1 headlines, revealing an offer from one of F1's new teams that he turned down.

The winner of 6 grands prix, who lost his Toyota seat in 2007 and now drives in the German touring car series DTM, said he would happily accept a better offer, leading to the link with Toro Rosso.

He knows team boss Tost well not only from their days at BMW-Williams, but from when Tost managed the German's formative career in Japan.

Austrian Tost, 53, was also employed by Ralf's former manager Willi Weber to look after the driver when he entered F1 with Jordan in 1997, and subsequently switched to Williams in 1999.

German reports also said Ralf is friends with Toro Rosso's team boss Dietrich Mateschitz, who also lives in Salzburg, Austria.

But Auto Motor und Sport on Wednesday quotes Tost as saying: "I know nothing about it.  It's not true and that's that.  As far as I am concerned, it's nonsense."

Former F1 team owner and boss Eddie Jordan, however - who gave Schumacher his grand prix debut in 1997 - is still a fan of the German.

"I would sign Ralf Schumacher immediately," he is quoted as saying.  "In formula one he was always underestimated."

12/29/09 (GMM)  Ralf Schumacher has refused to deny speculation linking him with Toro Rosso's vacant race cockpit for 2010.

Ralf Schumacher
The 34-year-old German, who races with Mercedes in the DTM series, has this week been back in the headlines, revealing an offer from one of F1's new teams that he turned down.

Reports said Toro Rosso, Sauber and Renault remained possibilities for a return to the sport for Schumacher, a six-time race winner who lost his Toyota seat at the end of 2007.

Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso is often billed as a team for young drivers, fielding rookies Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari in 2009.

But while Swiss Buemi has been retained for next season, Spanish youngster Alguersuari's future is less certain.

Schumacher, who is six years younger than his famous brother, knows Toro Rosso's team principal Franz Tost well not only from their days at BMW-Williams, but from when Tost managed the German's formative career in Japan.

Austrian Tost, 53, was also employed by Ralf's former manager Willi Weber to look after the driver when he entered F1 with Jordan in 1997, and subsequently switched to Williams in 1999.

"Franz Tost and I are very good friends," Schumacher told Germany's SID news agency this week.  "But it should be understood that I am not going to name any teams. More ...

Piquet a race seat option at Campos or Force India  UPDATE #6 (GMM)  A Spanish motor racing website has admitted its exclusive story about Nelson Piquet signing for the new Campos team was a hoax.

Motor21.com said earlier this week that the 24-year-old 'crashgate' conspirator had penned a three year deal, with his triple world champion father and namesake buying a 15 per cent stake in the Spanish outfit.

The news was published on December 28, the Spanish holiday known as 'Day of the Innocents', which is similar to April Fools' Day.

Motor21.com confirmed that the Piquet story was indeed a "celebration" of the holiday.

12/29/09 (GMM)  A Spanish motor racing website is reporting that Nelson Piquet will complete the driver lineup of the new Campos team in 2010.

Wherever he ends up, Nelson Piquet Jr. will remain a back-marker in 2010
Motor21.com said on Monday that the 24-year-old Brazilian's contract is for three years, ensuring a lineup of famous surnames, after his countryman Bruno Senna also signed for 2010 with the Spanish outfit.

The publication said Piquet's seat follows the 15 per cent purchase of the Campos-Meta team by his namesake and father, the triple world champion of the 80s.

Motor21 also said several Brazilian sponsors are to accompany Piquet to Campos, who will sign an as-set unnamed Spanish test driver.

However, the website's news was not backed by any other well-known publications or sources.

December 28 is the Spanish holiday known as 'Day of the Innocents', which is similar to April Fools' Day. More ...

Williams test seat an option for Soucek  UPDATE (GMM)  New F2 champion Andy Soucek has hinted he could be installed as Williams' test and reserve driver in 2010.

As his prize for winning this year's F2 series, the 24-year-old Spanish-Austrian recently tested for the British team at Jerez.

Andy Soucek
Soucek is hoping to move into a formula one race cockpit for next season, with vacancies at Campos and USF1 believed most likely.

He told the Spanish sports newspaper Marca: "I would prefer to race with any of the new teams than to be test driver with Williams.

"It is crucial to race because you learn the circuits and other things a lot better than as a tester," Soucek added.

12/02/09 (GMM)  Andy Soucek has admitted he is well backed by sponsors, but can't afford to be Bruno Senna's 2010 teammate at Campos.

Nelson Piquet has said he is also interested in the seat, but that the Spanish team is looking for a Spaniard to complete its inaugural driver lineup. More ...

Alguersuari has signed 2010 contract  UPDATE #2 (GMM)  A further sign that Jaime Alguersuari will retain his Toro Rosso race seat for the 2010 season has emerged.

When the 19-year-old rookie's name was left off the provisional entry list for next season, his management expressed surprise and said the young Spaniard was undergoing official Red Bull training.

Jaime Alguersuari
It subsequently emerged that Toro Rosso may be holding off confirming Alguersuari's contract for next year while in talks with potential Spanish sponsors.

The Marca sports newspaper now claims that Alguersuari, having been included in the Faenza-based team's calendar of pre-season work, is hoping his deal is confirmed in early January.

12/09/09 (GMM)  Jaime Alguersuari has reportedly been promised the second race seat at Toro Rosso in 2010, despite the fact the Spanish teen's name was missing from the recent FIA entry list.

A report by Spain's Marca reveals that officials for the Faenza based team are delaying confirmation of the deal until talks with potential Spanish sponsors are concluded. More ...

Renault, USF1, AGR and de Ferran eye Montagny  UPDATE #4 (GMM)  Franck Montagny has hinted strongly that he will not be returning to formula one in 2010.

The 31-year-old Frenchman, a former test driver who contested a handful of races with Super Aguri in 2006, recently confirmed he has been in contact with the Renault and USF1 teams.

Franck Montagny
Montagny turned to endurance sports cars with Peugeot in 2009, and is now expected to return to Le Mans racing with the same French marque next year.

"F1 is magical but winning Le Mans would be realistic ... and just as magical!" he wrote on his official website.

11/16/09 (GMM)  Franck Montagny insists he is still in the running to become Robert Kubica's Renault teammate in 2010, with a decision due within the next couple of weeks.

The 31-year-old Frenchman, a former test driver who contested a handful of races with Super Aguri in 2006, recently confirmed he has been in contact with the Enstone based team.

Montagny told Radio Canada that discussions have been held on a number of occasions.

"The possibility is real, we have discussed it a lot of times," he said.  "We will see how it is going to end.  It's still a bit early."

It is rumored that Renault would like a French driver at Pole Kubica's side in 2010, after the Swiss-born rookie Frenchman Romain Grosjean failed to impress in the second half of this season.

Montagny admits he was surprised to find himself in contention for the seat at Renault, whose carmaker parent is considering its future in F1.

"I did not particularly expect to be on that list, but surprises like that can happen," said Montagny.

He also confirmed that the departure of Flavio Briatore as Renault team boss has helped his chances, as he did not get along with the flamboyant Italian.

10/21/09 (GMM)  Franck Montagny has been named in connection with Renault's formula one team for a 2010 appointment.

With the struggling French-Swiss rookie Romain Grosjean's new place not secure, the authoritative sports daily L'Equipe said Frenchman Montagny's name is being linked with the Enstone based team.

Contacted by 20minutes.fr, Montagny confirmed that talks are underway. More ...

Dario Franchitti set to stay with Ganassi team  Dario Franchitti will this week confirm he will remain with the Target Chip Ganassi team as he bids to win back-to-back IndyCar Championships. The 36-year-old Scot, who won five races on his way to clinching the 2009 crown in the thrilling winner-takes-all finale at Homestead in Florida, pipped his Ganassi team-mate Scott Dixon to the title by just 11 points.

"I'm certainly hoping to do the same again in 2010," said Franchitti, who was in Edinburgh recently at the Scottish Motor Racing Club awards to pick up the Callands Trophy for the Scot, who has performed best in an international championship.

"Racing with Ganassi this season was a fantastic experience and to win the title at my first attempt with them was terrific and felt every bit as good as my first championship in 2007.

"I think next season will be tougher because teams like Andretti and Penske will have upped the stakes; those guys are definitely getting closer and closer.

"But we just need to keep our heads down, keep working and stay ahead of the pack."
Karthikeyan to ARCA and NASCAR?  UPDATE “I tested for Starbeast Motorsports just three days ago at Daytona (international speedway),” Karthikeyan told DNA newspaper yesterday.

Starbeast Motorsports is a new team in the ARCA racing series for stock cars.

“It’s all open now and I have lots of options. By January, something should be finalized,” the 32-year-old from Coimbatore said.

Narain Karthikeyan caught by AR1.com cameras last week at the ARCA test in Daytona
12/25/09 Former Formula 1 driver Narain Karthikeyan is considering a move to NASCAR after taking part in last week's ARCA series test at Daytona.

"It's a whole new ball game out there," Karthikeyan told the Times of India.

"I was lucky enough to be invited for a few sessions. NASCAR racing is pure, more basic with its oval tracks and inclined speedways. It's a totally new experience driving heavier cars with spotters speaking to you all the time."

"The economy has thrown things open right now," Karthikeyan admitted. "The financial downturn caused havoc. If A1GP survives I will be there next year. It is a great championship with a lot of competition. However, we will have to sit down and discuss the future course of action if things remain the way they are."

Monthly car sales projected to rise 15 percent  December is shaping up to show the U.S. industry's strongest year-over-year sales increase of what's been a dismal 2009.

Expect a 15 percent spike in new vehicle sales in December, powered by a retail surge, according to projections released today by industry forecaster J.D. Power and Associates.

“The market is continuing to improve, with the relative strength of December sales supporting a year-end rally,” Gary Dilts, senior vice president of global automotive operations at J.D. Power, said in a statement. More ...

Spyker makes bid to GM for Saab  Gilbert Kreijger writing for Reuters reported that Spyker Cars pressed ahead with efforts to cut a deal for Saab with General Motors, with talk of possible backing from a Dutch billionaire fanning the Swedish carmaker's faint hopes of an eleventh-hour reprieve. Shares in the Dutch luxury carmaker rose sharply on Tuesday after local media reported the bid, modified after GM said on Friday it would wind Saab down despite Spyker's ongoing interest, had won support from financier Marcel Boekhoorn. But in comments to a newspaper Boekhoorn denied he was involved, and the market remained skeptical that Russia-backed Spyker - which extended its new offer to buy Saab shortly before it was set to expire on Monday - would clinch a deal.

"The new offer came as a surprise, and now there is the (report) of ... Boekhoorn who slipped in through the back door. That gives the shares a boost," said Keijser Capital trader Michael Jabroer. "(But) I think this is going to be capital-destructive.

Busch and Gilliland could stay with Gibbs  UPDATE A high-ranking source has confirmed Kyle Busch is off the market. The source would not confirm when the extension was signed, but has knowledge of one that ties him to both Gibbs and M&M's through 2011. Sources at Joe Gibbs Racing could not be reached for comment by press time, but it appears that they have addressed the top priority on their Christmas wish list by stabilizing Busch's contract and by rebuilding the #18 Toyota this off-season. Busch can now focus on establishing a positive relationship with crew chief Dave Rogers and launching himself back into Chase contention -- although a one-year extension isn't exactly the type of deal that screams long-term association. Sports Illustrated

11/24/09 We are hearing that Kyle Busch is working on a contract extension with J.D. Gibbs team. David Gilliland could also return from his part-time role with the team to run with JGR in a fourth car,  when they have opportunity and funding to run one. Gilliland also piloted for Phoenix Racing this year and is getting a look there as well, since they have funding for that car.
Button takes $4M pay cut to get his clock cleaned by Hamilton  UPDATE #3 (GMM)  Ross Brawn has played down suggestions that new world champion Jenson Button was pushed out of the Mercedes GP team to make room in 2010 for Michael Schumacher.

When Button's switch to McLaren was announced, it was believed the relationship breakdown with his team of the last seven years was due to a dispute about his retainer.

Many observers and experts questioned the wisdom of the Briton agreeing to be Lewis Hamilton's teammate, but the signing of Schumacher raises the possibility that there was in fact no room at the Brackley based team for Button.

"It overlaps, to be honest," team boss Brawn said when asked if Button decided to leave or was effectively ousted.

"I have a loyalty to Jenson so I hoped to find a solution and when I saw that this would get difficult I started to talk to Michael, and things developed there," he added in an interview with F1's official website.

Schumacher, 41, revealed on Wednesday that he only began talking to Brawn at the end of November.  Button's McLaren deal was announced in the middle of that month.

[Editor's Note:  Brawn was being nice to Button.  You don't let the current World Champion just walk out the door that easily.  In fact we were reporting the Schumacher to Brawn/Mercedes team well before the Button to McLaren deal was announced.]

12/23/09 As we predicted elsewhere on these pages, Ross Brawn had no intention to keep Button when he had his eyes set on Michael Schumacher.  Now that Schumacher's return has been confirmed there is no doubt that Button had no choice but to move to McLaren and risk getting his clock cleaned by Lewis Hamilton.  It was either that or spending a year weeding his garden.

11/19/09 A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, I was interested to read your twist on the Button Brawn saga especially noting his so called pay cut.  The contract was just for one year. What bloody good is that to a driver in this very crowded market when most others are signing multi year deals?  Note also, it is not $12 million as Brawn/MB have stated. The other $4M was points related.

Nick Fry's loyalty rant is beyond words.  How he can suggest that Jens has been anything but loyal is such an outrageous lie even by his twisted standards.  The guy paid his own way to races and took a huge pay cut. He hung in with the Fry run Honda team for years while they blundered and bumbled around at the very back of the field.  And when he did eventually help them to their first Championship they don't even invite him to the Brackley parade!

It is obvious that despite words to the contrary, Mercedes want an all Teutonic team and that Brawn were the ones playing hardball and dragging the negotiations into the mud.  It was only a few days ago that Brawn said they would allow Jens more freedom to work with sponsors as a way to bolster his low ball retainer.

Then just hours after Button visits McLaren they supposedly offer him more money.  Now they are screaming breach of contract!  If that were the case why did they offer him the $8 million days after this so called breach?  This is a disgusting way to end the relationship and the mudslinging from Fry now confirms that Button totally did the right thing getting away from these ungrateful and some would say, cheating, wankers. I was a very happy supporter of this team last year but their behavior towards the World Champion has spoiled that for me and, I believe, many others. More ...

Boullier to be new Renault team boss  (GMM)  Eric Boullier will be Renault's new team principal, according to reports.

In connection with the newly Genii Capital-controlled team, the Frenchman's name has arisen in recent days.  Reports said the former boss of the GP2 team DAMS has recently been the director of the sports management firm Gravity.

Like Genii, Gravity is connected with Renault's new majority team owner Gerard Lopez.

Bob Bell is Renault's current interim boss, but Boullier is the longer-term successor to the departed Flavio Briatore, the BBC said.

He was introduced to staff at the team's Enstone base on Tuesday by Lopez, the report added.

Bell will return to his role as technical director.

"There are some discussions, but it is definitely still pending further discussion," said Boullier.  "It's one possibility."

Motorsports Authentics may go belly up  In an all-out effort to avoid bankruptcy, the joint owners of Motorsports Authentics (MA) are attempting to reorganize the troubled licensed merchandise company and settle the millions of dollars it owes several NASCAR teams. MA's 50-50 owners, International Speedway Corp. and Speedway Motorsports Inc., have been in constant contact with the top teams since the end of the season, with one of NASCAR's top executives, senior vice president Paul Brooks, acting as a mediator. It's uncertain exactly how much MA owes the teams, but its contracts with the best-selling organizations such as Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. guarantee each of them close to $3 million annually, industry insiders say. MA, which has lost money in three of its four years in existence, has been paying a portion of those guarantees, about a third to half, based on their merchandise sales. Officials from ISC and SMI declined comment, citing the continuing nature of the negotiations. But team officials characterize the talks as frustrating because there remains no clear merchandise plan for the sport and the season-opening Daytona 500 is less than two months away. MA is responsible for most of the sport's trackside retail activity and much of its licensed merchandise, although that model could change as part of the company's restructuring. Most team officials say they're willing to forgive some of the debt from MA, but they need a clearer understanding of the plan going forward before agreeing to a settlement. MA generated more than $200 million in revenue in 2008, the only year it has turned a profit, but MA's revenue this year will be a little more than $100 million, industry insiders say. The die-cast division accounts for a little less than half of the company's revenue. Sporting News / SportsBusiness Journal
Schumacher signs with Mercedes  UPDATE #15 Mercedes GP were tonight silent amid claims Michael Schumacher is to make a famous return to Formula One for next season.  No official word was forthcoming from the team in the wake of a report that stated the seven-times world champion had today signed a one-year deal worth an estimated £6.25million. Schumacher's spokeswoman, Sabine Kehm, also refused to confirm the news being run first on AutoRacing1.com (days ago) and now on German online newspaper website, bild.de and also the BBC.

He's back.  The combination of the greatest driver to ever live, Ross Brawn's design genius and Mercedes power, has to be enough to send shivers down the spines of everyone else on the F1 grid.
12/22/09 As we already reported - Seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher has signed a one-year deal (with additional option years) to return to Formula One racing with Mercedes GP for the 2010 season, Bild.de reported on Tuesday evening.

12/22/09 Look for the announcement that Michael Schumacher will drive for the Mercedes Petronas GP (ex-Brawn GP) team today. Of course AR1.com readers already knew this rumor was 'fact' before anyone else.

12/18/09 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  In an AutoRacing1.com exclusive we can report that Michael Schumacher has signed with the Mercedes/Brawn team and will lead the team.  Nico Rosberg as the 2nd driver makes it an all-German team with a German engine.

12/14/09 Grand Prix legend Michael Schumacher has said "yes" to a Formula One comeback.  The 40-year-old has finally been persuaded to come to the rescue of car giant Mercedes, who gave him his Grand Prix break 19 years ago.  More ...
Two new F1 teams to fold  UPDATE US F1 team principal Peter Windsor has dismissed suggestions by supremo Bernie Ecclestone the new marque are unlikely to be on the grid next season.

Ecclestone today cast doubt on both US F1 and another newcomer in Campos making it on to the grid for the opening grand prix of 2010 in Bahrain in mid-March.

Despite Ecclestone's concerns, Windsor said: "I'm surprised Bernie said that. We will be there. We're in good shape.

"Everything is going well and we are looking forward to the year.

"We've just finished the chassis and are now in the hands of (engine suppliers) Cosworth." More ...

Andy Shovlin would be Schu's engineer  (GMM)  Yet another sign that Michael Schumacher is set to return to F1 next year has emerged.

According to German sources, even though Nico Rosberg is currently the only confirmed Mercedes driver for 2010, his race engineer will be Jock Clear.

Clear headed the race engineering team on Rubens Barrichello's Brawn in 2009, while Andy Shovlin worked with the world champion Jenson Button.

Shovlin, however - affectionately known by McLaren-bound Button as 'Shuv' - is staying with Mercedes in 2010, meaning that if Schumacher does ultimately agree a deal with the Brackley based team, the duo will pair up.

Bernie Ecclestone is confident Schumacher will return. More ...

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