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Overheard at Baltimore - Sunday UPDATE #3 As we rumored last Sunday from Baltimore, our sources helped us break the story that Lotus will buy the Renault F1 team and Tony Fernandes will rename his Lotus team to Caterham, so this rumor is upgraded to 'strong' overall as we expect the majority of this rumor come true.  Today comes word that Tony Fernandes has hinted strongly that he will drop the Team Lotus name for his formula one team ahead of the 2012 season.

The Malaysian entrepreneur has been locked in a bitter dispute with Renault sponsor Group Lotus but won the legal right to keep deploying the name for his Hingham-based team. But Fernandes, also the owner of the AirAsia airline, has subsequently bought the British specialist sports car maker Caterham and renamed his GP2 team Caterham Team AirAsia.

He said at Monza: "I always had a problem with 'am I really Team Lotus?' because there's a big question mark on that.  "You can't have a name and not monetize it.  So we will have to wait and see ... I don't think this is healthy for anyone, having Lotus-Renault and Team Lotus."

F1's Enstone based team, currently widely known as Renault, might also be heading for a name change, with the Guardian newspaper reporting that sponsor Group Lotus could finally be set to buy in.

The report said current owners Genii are "reportedly in discussion about selling the team", with Lotus "in pole position to get it".

09/05/11 Confirming what we reported in the table below on Sunday, the Indy Star is reporting this mooring that Newman/Haas Racing is expected to be the next IndyCar team to join Honda's camp for next season. The deal has not yet been signed, however. Honda already has Ganassi Racing (four cars), Sam Schmidt Motorsports (two cars) and A.J. Foyt Racing (one car). As AR1.cim reported, the deal will be signed in a week or two.

09/05/11 Forgot to mention, we hear the 2012 IndyCar schedule will be released around October 1st.

09/04/11 Spoke to IndyCar boss Randy Bernard Sunday morning and he confirmed he was off to Europe to visit Lotus this week to try and get them squared away for next year.  He said IndyCar is satisfied what Lotus is doing behind the scenes with regard to engine design and that they will be ready for 2012.  As for China he told us it will be in play next year, which we took to mean the deal is done, though he did not say that specifically.  If they are going to China they had better get a Chinese driver, like Ho-Pin Tung a full-time ride next year. 

We heard the attendance for Saturday was at least 55,000 and Sunday's attendance estimates are 75,000.  We can tell you this place in jam packed and every fan we talked to said they loved it.  On every level this event was a huge success, which is sure to worry the ISC folks down the road in Richmond and the Dover folks up the road in Delaware, with 3-day attendance estimated as follows:
Fri: 40,000
Sat: 55,000
Sun: 75,000
Tot: 170,000

When Tony Kanaan wrecked his primary car in morning warm-up his KV Racing team had to pretty much an entire car in 2.5 hours.  They took EJ Viso's backup oval car, put the rear-end and engine on it from the wrecked car, and had to change the front suspension and brakes over from an oval track to a road course.

There is still a lot of controversy over the engine rules, but you knew that was going to be an area of contention once multiple manufacturers came in.  Once they hit their 10 cars manufacturers are saying the price for a season of engines will be almost $1 million, up from $650K for the first 10 who sign. At $650K per year the manufacturers say they are subsidizing the teams almost $400K per car.

Some teams are reluctant to run Lotus because there are too many unknowns.  We spotted Lotus personnel talking to several team owners over the weekend.  We hear that Lotus has proposed 2 direct injection ports per cylinder while Chevy and Honda designed their engines with one and they object to changing it now.  We also hear that the engine regulations are not nailed down enough, which is causing some political jockeying behind the scenes.

Based on information we have, here is how we think the 2012 engine situation will shake out:


No. Cars Chevy Honda Lotus Notes
AJ Foyt Racing 1 or 2 Car team - 1 - Has ordered 2 cars
Andretti Green Racing 3-Car Team 3 - - Near 100% sure
Conquest Racing 1-car team - - 1 Lotus a guess
Dale Coyne Racing 2-car team - 2 - Will run Chevy or Honda
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 2-car team - - 2 Lotus a guess
Sam Schmidt Motorsports 2-car team - 2 - 100% Sure
HVM Racing 1-car team - - 1 90% Sure will run Lotus
KV Racing Technology 3 car team 3 - - Near 100% Sure
Newman Haas Racing 2-car team - 2 - 90% Sure, announce soon
Panther Racing 1 or 2-car team 2 - - 2 cars likely
Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing 2-car team - 2 - 100% Sure
Target Chip Ganassi Racing 2-car team - 2 - 100% Sure
Team Penske 3 car team 3 - - 3rd Car 90% Sure


11 11 4 26-Car field assumed
Honda: Single Turbo
Chevy and Lotus: Dual Turbos

We hear that the single turbo could have a slight advantage on the 100% throttle tracks, but it is thought that the twin turbo setup will be better for street and road circuits.

We finally got a chance to ask former CART team owner Steve Horne why he is hanging around on the KV Racing pits.  It's because Robert Clarke, Tony Kanaan's manager, is off doing another project so Steve Horne stepped in to manage him.  We asked Steve whether he has any interest in being a team owner again and he said not by himself but he might consider it as a minority owner if it made sense.

We hear that Lotus will soon announce that they are buying the Renault team in F1 and they will continue to run black cars with gold pinstripe livery aka the John Player Special Days.  That will become the new Lotus colors - black and gold whereas the Tony Fernandes team will become Caterham and run Green and Yellow livery.  And we hear that in IndyCar they will want their anchor team to run black cars with gold pinstripes as well.

Still hearing that a return to Mexico City is in play for 2012 or 2013 if F1 does not sign a deal first and that will require a Mexican driver in IndyCar.  David Martinez is the leading contender and we hear that ex-IndyCar and Champ Car team owner Derrick Walker would like to field a car for Martinez.  Speaking of Walker, his Falken Tire Porsche won again in ALMS, taking GT class in Baltimore on Saturday.  He tells us that the Falken tires are superior to all the other tires on the grid, and is the secret to their success.  Mark C. reporting from Baltimore

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