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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The top stories of 2008

The year is rapidly coming to a close, so here is a look back at SpeedRead's top five F1 stories for 2008:

Spanish Formula One Grand Prix: Practice

5. The Super Aguri soap opera - Were they in? Were they out? The team was absent from tests leading up to the season, sponsor S.S. United was apparently not paying up, and support from the Magma Group didn’t come. By Barcelona things looked grim. By Istanbul, the team was locked out, told they would not be participating by none other than Nick Fry. Founded by principal Aguri Suzuki to save face for Honda and give Takuma Sato a place on the grid, two and a half years later he found himself thrown under the bus. What price loyalty?

Singapore Formula One Grand Prix: Race

4. Night race in Singapore - Hey, did you hear? F1 raced at night in Singapore. Actually, it was a beautiful thing, and it helped that the track was far more interesting than dreary Valencia. And it all came on Fernando Alonso and Renault’s sudden reemergence as race winners, and an exciting three-way championship battle between Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton and Robert Kubica. Now Bernie would like any race in that hemisphere to be a night race, which is facing resistance from most venues. Personally, my feeling is let’s not over do it. Singapore works because of the setting, I can’t think of anything much less exciting than Sepang at night.

Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix: Race

3. Last corner of the last race - How many times during the Schumacher era was the championship decided in August? For the last two years, we have been blessed with championships that go down to the last race, but nothing compares to this season. What more could we want than a championship decided in the rain, between Ferrari and McLaren drivers, on the last corner. Massa won the race, and for a brief moment, we thought the championship. That’s when Toyota’s gutsy gamble fell short and Hamilton passed Timo Glock to take the needed fifth position, maintaining his one-point edge to win the championship and become the youngest F1 champion.

Turkish Formula One Grand Prix: Qualifying

2. Honda - Honda made waves early in the season, and not just with the green pants, by hiring Ferrari alum Ross Brawn. Many thought this was the foundation for a resurgent Honda, but it soon became apparent there was much to be done, as the team suffered a horrendous season. But 2009 would be a different story, with new regs shaking up the field to make it anybody's game. Well, anybody but Honda’s, as the Japanese automaker shocked the F1 world by abruptly pulling out of the championship this month and putting the Brackley-based outfit up for sale, a victim of the worldwide economic crisis. Four parties have supposedly expressed interest in the team, with Brawn and Fry scrambling to find a buyer to keep it on the grid. The ramifications have yet to play out in full on this one, especially if no buyer can be found, leaving the grid at 18 cars. Is there a provision in the F1 contract requiring 20 cars on the grid? Will teams be asked to field three cars?

Max Mosley Wins Damages Against The News of The World

1. Max - In March, British tabloid News of the World released a video of the FIA president involved in a sadomasochistic role playing adventure with five prostitutes that it claimed had Nazi connotations. Mosley sued, but facing strong criticism from teams, drivers and the FIA membership, his position seemed to be in jeopardy, with even longtime pal Bernie Ecclestone calling for his head. Mosley was forced to steer well clear of F1 events, often at the request of local governments. Mosley won a vote of confidence at a June meeting of the FIA, however, and by the end of the year most of the flap had blown over. Threats by motoring bodies to withdraw seem to have died down, Mosley won his court case, and (save perhaps a recent Christmas card) Ecclestone and Mosley appear to be back on the same page. The only question remaining: Will Mosley stand sown at the end of his term, as he has often claimed? Or will he return?

Well, that just about closes the book on 2008. Here’s wishing everybody a great 2009, a year with a little more overtaking, the return of slicks, and (hopefully) a wide open championship. And maybe, just maybe, the aero guys will figure out how to make these wings a little prettier. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Monday, December 29, 2008

Fernando to Ferrari? Yep, they’re at it again...

Fernando. Ferrari. It isn’t like we haven’t heard that one before. But has the double world champion really signed a deal with the Scuderia? That’s what La Gazetta dello Sport thinks. Or at least, wants us to think.

Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix: Race
The Italian newspaper has the Spaniard all suited up for four years in Ferrari red starting in 2011, when Kimi Raikkonen’s contract comes to an end. And “if Kimi doesn't improve it could start even sooner” !

Can we believe it? Well, there are lots of vague quotes from all the players: Fernando, Flavio and Luca, but it seems the story hinges on the fact no one has denied Alonso is moving to Ferrari.

One who does seem to think this story has legs in James Allen.

The ex-ITV F1 commentator vouches for story author Pino Allievi’s connections and track record in reporting all things Ferrari.

“So you can take it as read that this story is true.”

Ferrari/McLaren. Alonso/Hamilton. That will make for some on track fun. And whether this particular story is correct, this much is certain, Fernando to Ferrari is more likely to happen than not. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Honda deal in place?

AFP has picked up an unsourced report in Italian newspaper La Stampa Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim is taking over the Honda F1 team.

"The saviour has arrived: Carlos Slim, 67 years old, the second richest man in the world," AFP quotes the newspaper. "The news is not official as all the details have yet to be formalised. But two things are certain - the team has been saved and the drivers will be Jenson Button and rookie Bruno Senna in place of Rubens Barrichello."

The BBC will only go as far as saying Slim is one of four parties talking to Honda.

A spokesman for Slim has denied the claim.

"There is no deal for the Honda team. There is neither agreement nor negotiations," the source told AFP.

Will continue to update as more becomes available... Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up, let's go...

Merry Christmas from SpeedRead!

Ridelust has our favorite Christmas card:

Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Whipping up a Christmas laugh

Last year it was the spygate, this year Bernie Ecclestone's Christmas card pokes fun at the Max Mosley sex scandal.

Ronaldo With Bernie Ecclestone

The Daily Star newspaper describes the card:

The daring festive card shows crew members watching a race on a bank of TV monitors with Mosley lashing a whip at a man whose screen shows a woman’s legs in fishnets and high heels.

Meanwhile, two other smarting victims to the left of the row are seen clutching their bottoms.

Grinning Bernie is pictured holding plasters as a treatment for the sore behinds.

Inside a message reads: “Usual team punishment, just a special for Christmas. Have a happy one. Bernie.”

Howett: Ecclestone won’t break FOTA

FOTA vice chairman John Howett believes Bernie Ecclestone’s revelation Ferrari had a special relationship with the sport was designed to drive a wedge between the members of the Formula One Teams’ Association.

He doesn't think it will work.

“He may be trying to [split FOTA] but all the information that was given is very transparent and openly shared among the members of FOTA, so it was a bit of a non-event because everybody is aware of the historic status [of Ferrari],” he told The Times newspaper.

According to Howett, FOTA is looking for a greater percentage of the sport’s annual income. Currently, Ecclestone takes a 50 percent share. Howett used the Champions League as an example, saying football teams receive “upwards of 96-97 per cent of the revenues”.

Bernie’s probably not laughing about that one...

Richards, World looking to buy Honda team

F1 Testing Session

Rumors abound concerning just who wants to purchase the Honda team, with grandprix.com reporting interest from both Mexico and South Korea.

Mexican telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim (Telmex), reportedly a Bruno Senna supporter, and Korean automaker Hyundai Kia Automotive Group are said to be players in the future of the Brackley-based squad.

What is known, according to the Mail on Sunday, is Prodrive boss David Richards flew to the Middle East for talks with investors last weekend.

"There are a group of people in the Middle East who want to support a formula one entry for me and have been very specific about it for a year now," Richards said recently.

Toyota commits to F1 despite loss

Toyota recorded its first annual loss in 71 years, but will not follow Honda out of Formula 1.

"We will continue F1 and other motorsport activities while cutting costs,” the BBC reports Toyota Motor Corporation president Katsuaki Watanabe said.

Fellow Japanese manufacturers Subaru and Suzuki pulled out of the World Rally Championships last week.

Dennis says F1 will return to North America

McLaren boss Ron Dennis says no one should think the sport has turned its back on North America.

The U.S. Grand Prix did not return in 2008 after Indianapolis boss Tony George couldn’t agree to a deal with Bernie Ecclestone, and the Canadian Grand Prix was dropped off the calendar for 2009, leaving the continent without a race for the first time since 1958.

"We are really trying hard to find the model that works. We just haven't found a solution yet,” Fox quotes Dennis. “That's not to say we're going to give up on it. We definitely expect to be back in North America within the next three years."

Forgive me if I don’t hold my breath...


Autoweek.com remembers Bob Carlson, who helped guide America’s love of Porsche over a 24-year career at Porsche Cars North America. Carlson died last week at the age of 60 from cancer. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bernie not so enamored with Luca

Hot on the heels of Luca di Montezemolo's scathing review of a certain commercial rights-holder, Bernie Ecclestone has responded in an interview with TimesOnline's Edward Gorman. And guess what? He isn't happy.

Here's a quick reminder of the theme of di Montezemolo's comments from the Gorman interview that ran on the 18th.

Qualifying Session For The San Marino F1 Grand Prix

“Do you think it is normal that we don’t have one race in North America? Do you think it is normal that we understand from the newspapers that the Canadian Grand Prix is over? Do you think it is normal that we see important sponsors decide to leave the small and moderate-sized teams? Do you think it is normal that we pay unbelievable amounts for hospitality to promote ourselves at the races? Do you think it is normal that we cannot discuss the timing of races?”


“I think sooner or later he has to stop.”

Ecclestone said Ferrari is the last team which should be complaining about money, however.

Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix: Qualifying

“Ferrari get so much more money than everyone else,” he said. “They know exactly what they get, they are not that stupid, although they are not that bright, either.”

The F1 ringmaster says that was part of the deal struck in 2003 to keep Ferrari from joining the other manufacturers in a breakaway series.

“They were the only team that broke ranks with the other manufacturers – why did they break ranks?” he said. “That’s where the $80 million comes in. We ‘bought’ Ferrari. We ‘bought’ Ferrari’s loyalty. Our deal with Ferrari was that we ‘bought’ them so they would not go to the others.”

And there's more where that came from: Bernie Ecclestone hits back at Ferrari head by exposing the team’s ‘special deal’

Trust me, you want to go, if only to find when Bernie says “I’ll sue the a*** off them.”

Mecachrome in trouble

Reports coming out of Canada have Renault-linked Mecachrome in deep financial crisis.

The Canada-based company is reported as having sought protection from creditors via the Companies Creditor Arrangement Act.

The company supports Renault's F1 effort, and supplies GP2. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday catch-all

Here's what's making news in the world of F1 and beyond...

>>>Grandprix.com is reporting rumors coming out of Tokyo Jarno Trulli could be replaced by Kamui Kobayashi, despite a year remaining on the Italian's contract. It is also rumored the team will kill its young driver program.

>>>FOTA boss Luca di Montezemolo calls for Bernie Ecclestone to go in a frank interview with The Times.

Here's just a sample:

“Do you think it is normal that we don’t have one race in North America? Do you think it is normal that we understand from the newspapers that the Canadian Grand Prix is over? Do you think it is normal that we see important sponsors decide to leave the small and moderate-sized teams? Do you think it is normal that we pay unbelievable amounts for hospitality to promote ourselves at the races? Do you think it is normal that we cannot discuss the timing of races?”

>>>Sebastien Bourdais admits he is considering his options if he is not retained by Toro Rosso, including America and the IRL.

"I'm pretty open. Right now I need a good programme and America would be an interesting option," the Frenchman told Autosport.

>>>Mercedes is set to usher out the SLR with a special Stirling Moss edition, according to Autoweek.

>>>Outside of F1, the Detroit Grand Prix, lately an IRL/ALMS event, is canceled for 2009, another casualty of the poor economy.

>>>And, despite denials, rumors continue to swirl that Corvette Racing will skip Le Mans this year.

"It's not true," General Motors road-racing boss Steve Wesoloski responded when contacted by Autoweek about the rumor, which appeared in Autosport. "We are still going ahead with our plans for a reduced program of Sebring, Long Beach and Le Mans. No one has come knocking to tell me otherwise. We are, of course, prepared for all eventualities. It all hinges on what happens in Washington [with financial bailout talks]."

Corvette Racing is planning to transition from GT1 to GT2 over the course of the season.

Interestingly, Autoweek reports a high-ranking GM official as saying the company would axe its NASCAR program before pulling out of Le Mans. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Toyota concludes Bahrain test

Toyota completed its final test of the season, in Bahrain, where 18-year-old Toyota Young Driver Programme driver Andrea Caldarelli was in action.

Caldarelli, who hails from Jarno Trulli's home town of Pescara, last raced in the Formula Renault West European Championship and Eurocup. The team also tested Dutch driver Henki Waldschmidt for two days last week in Bahrain.

Timo Glock, and test driver Kamui Kobayashi, were on track this week, as well. They took over for Jarno Trulli, working on the team's 2009 test program. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's a wrap

Gary Paffett (GBR) Formula 1 Testing, Portugal

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was fastest at Jerez in the final day of testing of 2008 at Jerez. Vettel put an end to Sebastien Buemi’s streak at the top of the sheets, the Red Bull test driver finishing second.

Wednesday times -- Jerez:
  1. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:16.617
  2. Sebastien Buemi, Red Bull, 1:16.998
  3. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:19.013
  4. Christian Klien, BMW Sauber, 1:19.066
  5. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:19.341

While in Portugal, McLaren and Ferrari were in action for the final time this season, with Pedro de la Rosa topping Luca Badoer.

Wednesday times -- Algarve:
  1. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:28.998
  2. Luca Badoer, Ferrari, 1:30.163

Next up, launches. Then back to the test track in late January, as teams continue to acclimatize themselves to slicks, KERS and other changes for the 2009 season. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Peugeot not interested in Honda assets

A day after rumors emerged PSA Peugeot-Citroën was looking at buying out Honda's F1 team, Peugeot has denied the claim.

“It's totally false,” Peugeot Sport spokesman Jean-Claude Lefebvre told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “We are having big problems with sales, just like all the manufacturers. We have other things to think about other than considering going to Formula 1.”

Meanwhile, David Richards' Prodrive, oft mentioned in the group of possible Honda buyers, announced it was pulling the plug on its Subaru WRC operation with immediate effect. This came a day after Suzuki suspended its own WRC program, as the growing economic crisis continues to take its toll on the world of motorsport.

Buemi 5 for 5 at Jerez, de la Rosa quickest in Portugal

Sebastien Buemi continued his run at the top of the sheets at Jerez for Red Bull, ahead of team mate Sebastian Vettel. In Portugal, McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa set the fastest time, taking over for Gary Paffett. The Spaniard finished ahead of a pair of Ferrari test drivers: Luca Badoer and Marc Gene.

Tuesday times -- Jerez

  1. Sebastien Buemi, Red Bull, 1:17.029

  2. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:17.319

  3. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:19.303

  4. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:20.006

  5. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:20.332

Tuesday times -- Algarve

  1. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:30.080

  2. Luca Badoer, Ferrari, 1:31.320

  3. Marc Gene, Ferrari, 1:33.076
Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Monday, December 15, 2008

A moment Edwards will never forget

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony

NASCAR driver of the year Carl Edwards says beating Michael Schumacher at the Race of Champions, in what is widely being considered the upset of the event, is something he will never forget.

“It's amazing, it feels like I've won a championship - I'll never forget that moment as long as I live,” Edwards told autosport.com. “Just the chance to be able to race with him, and fortunately to be able to beat him.”

The American, making his first appearance at the event, finished second in this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.

Edwards faced off against the seven-times world champion in the Abarth rally car, which he had crashed in the nations cup event. He felt he was able to put that experience to good use, however, gaining an edge on Schumacher.

“He didn't get a chance to practice in that car today, only in the rain yesterday, so just like my first run today he was at a big disadvantage,” Edwards explained. “That car is different to anything I've ever driven and I'm sure it's the same for him.”

Buemi on top, this time for Red Bull

Tester Sebastien Buemi was fastest again, this time for Red Bull, as this week’s three-day test kicked off at Jerez.

Monday times - Jerez
  1. Sebastien Buemi, Red Bull, 1:17.704
  2. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:19.360
  3. Brendon Hartley, Red Bull, 1:19.586
  4. Christian Klien, BMW Sauber, 1:19.655
  5. Nico Hulkenberg, Williams,1:20.704

Meanwhile, Ferrari and McLaren were in action in the first Formula One test at Portugal’s Algarve Motor Park.

Monday times - Algarve
  1. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:32.926
  2. Gary Paffett, McLaren, 1:31.788
Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Germany and Loeb take ROC glory

2008 Race of Champions - Previews

Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel retained the crown for Germany in the nations cup, while Sebastien Loeb won a thriller over David Coulthard in the driver’s category in this year’s Race of Champions at Wembley.

2008 Race of Champions - Previews

In the nations category, it was Scandinavia's Mattias Ekstrom and Tom Kristensen facing the Germans, and it required all three heats to determine the winner, when Schumacher edged Ekstrom.

For Loeb, it was his third driver’s title (he won in 2003 and 2005), but the retiring Coulthard gave him a run for the money, forcing a third race to decide it.

The much heralded battle between man and machine, olympic track cyclist Chris Hoy and Lewis Hamilton, was canceled due to track conditions. Hamilton still put on a show for the fans, however, with demonstration runs.

Force India confirms lineup (again?)

Force India once again confirmed its 2009 driver lineup, with Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil pairing up for another season.

“I firmly believe that next year will be a huge opportunity for this team,” team boss Vijay Mallya said in a statement on the team’s Web site. “We have a new technical partnership with McLaren and Mercedes, a dynamic new management structure and now one of the most solid driver line-ups on the grid.”

The team had confirmed its lineup in earlier this year, but the recent deal with McLaren opened the door to speculation one or both could be replaced by McLaren drivers.

“We certainly welcomed the insight and advice of our new partners in this matter, however the choice was entirely ours based on the current talent available in the market today,” he explained.

Vitantonio Liuzzi has also been retained as third driver.

“In Giancarlo, Adrian and Tonio we have a wonderful balance between experience and ambition, and now complete consistency,” Mallya said.
Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Friday, December 12, 2008

World Motor Sport Council ratifies cost cuts

Medals, qualifying revamp tabled

Japanese Formula One Grand Prix: Race

Max Mosley feels the cost-cutting measures approved today by the World Motor Sport Council have gone a long way toward saving the future of the sport.

“It will be Formula One as we all know it, but clearly much less expensive,” Mosley told the Press Association.

Acknowledging staff cuts will be a natural result of the new regulations, the FIA president said while it is unfortunate, it was also inevitable.

“Unfortunately, job losses, that's just part of cutting costs,” he explained. “But if you see it from the other point of view, they currently employ between 700 and 1000 people just to put two cars on the grid. In any event that is not sustainable.”

Meanwhile, it looks like Bernie Ecclestone wont get his medal system in place for 2009 after the World Motor Sport Council chose to defer a decision until it can do market research.

Ecclestone had previously claimed he had the backing of both the teams and the FIA.

The body also chose to postpone making a decision on FOTA’s qualifying proposal.

“Market research is being conducted to gauge the public reaction to a number of new ideas, including possible changes to qualifying and a proposal for the substitution of medals for points for the drivers,” the FIA said in a statement. “Proposals will be submitted to the FIA when the results of the market research are known.”

The full FIA press release of World Motor Sport Council decisions. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Bernie unfazed by Honda exit

French Formula One Grand Prix: Qualifying

Calling Honda a bad example of overspending, F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone downplayed the impact of the Japanese automaker’s withdrawal from the sport.

“Honda will be no great loss,” Ecclestone is quoted in the Daily Telegraph. “Just look at where they finished in the championship – ninth. They wasted millions and were a bad example to other teams.”

In other words, don’t let the door hit your *ss on the way out...

Ecclestone is hopeful to have a buyer for the team in the next week, saying three parties have expressed serious interest.

Meanwhile, Max Mosley believes some of that overspending may be a byproduct of the rules the FIA has put into place, saying the regulations pushed staffs of hundreds to look for small improvements in areas of the car the average fan would never see.

“What is wrong with F1 was wrong before any of the current economic problems cropped up, and essentially it is because of the rules,” Mosley is quoted by SportingLife.com. “You might well say that the rules are made by the FIA, so it is the FIA's fault. In a sense that is true because the rules in Formula One are ever more restrictive, compressing the work of the engineers into an ever smaller area.”

Mosley said many of those rules exist because of safety concerns, but those changes have rechanneled the teams development efforts.

“So now these huge teams, with between 700 to 1,000 employees, are constantly searching for tiny incremental gains on their car,” he explained. “Success in Formula One today consists of optimising every single tiny detail on the chassis to the absolute, ultimate degree, and that is extremely expensive, but also utterly pointless.”

Utterly pointless? The FIA has restricted the regulations to a point where extra tenths are the only advantage available for teams to find. What are they supposed to look for?

A sweep for Buemi

Sebastien Buemi topped the charts for the third straight day at Jerez, besting fellow Toro Rosso hopeful Takuma Sato in the final day of testing. The final test session of the year takes place next week at Portugal’s Algarve Motor Park.

Thursday times
  1. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:17.258
  2. Takuma Sato, Toro Rosso, 1:17.520
  3. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:18.049
  4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:18.782
  5. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:19.050
  6. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:19.319
  7. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:19.388
  8. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:19.499
  9. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:19.559
  10. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:19.738
Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

FIA, FOTA agree to cut costs

The FIA and the FOTA reached an agreement on cost cutting measures Wednesday, with full details to be released tomorrow.

The statement claims agreement was reached on all of the FIA’s objectives, which would seem to imply a compromise was reached on standardized engines, perhaps the most visible point of contention between the teams and the governing body.

The FIA World Motor Sport Council meets Friday to give final approval to the proposals.

The full text of the press release:
Press Release
FIA and FOTA Meeting

FIA and FOTA have had the most successful meeting on Formula One matters which any of the participants can remember.

Agreement was reached on measures to meet all the objectives originally put forward by the FIA for 2010 and thereafter in addition to which FOTA have now made proposals for very significant cost saving in 2009 while maintaining Formula One at the pinnacle of motor sport and reinforcing its appeal.

These proposals will be put to the FIA World Motor Sport Council on Friday following which full details will be released.

FIA President Max Mosley said,

“I am delighted with the outcome of this meeting.”

FOTA President Luca di Montezemolo said,

“The unity of the teams was fundamental to meeting the goals for a new Formula One, but with the same DNA, as requested by the FIA.”

It’s Buemi again

Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi topped the second day of testing at Jerez, leading fellow STR hopeful Takuma Sato, as both proved faster than incumbent Sebestien Bourdais in fourth. McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa was third.
Testing times:
  1. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:18.073
  2. Takuma Sato, Toro Rosso, 1:18.601
  3. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:18.673
  4. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:19.032
  5. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:19.334
  6. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:19.631
  7. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:19.907
  8. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:20.309
  9. Nick Heidfeld, BMW-Sauber, 1:20.365
  10. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:20.490
  11. Robert Kubica, BMW-Sauber, 1:20.954

Porsche unlikely to pursue IndyCar

Porsche has gone on record with Autoweek.com, saying it is unlikely to join the IndyCar series, despite taking part in an informational meeting with series organizers in June. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Standard engine looks set for go ahead

The FIA’s planned standardised Cosworth engine looks set to go forward, with autosport.com reporting five teams have signed on, including, surprisingly, Renault.

Renault’s presence on the list was a bit of an eyebrow raiser, but the French automaker’s continued participation in the sport has always been questionable with Carlos Goshn, a notorious cost cutter, in charge of the company.

Indeed, given the current economic climate, it is somewhat surprising Renault hasn’t already left.

Teams will not be forced to use the standardised engine, but it will be the basis for performance specs. Autosport surmises for Renault, that made building its own engine a redundant cost.

Max Mosley meets with the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) Wednesday to discuss the latest round of cost-cutting measures, and the FIA World Motor Sport Council will meet again on Friday, at which point it is believed the standardised engine will get the OK.

Williams, Red Bull sign new sponsorship deals

Times may be tough, but that hasn’t kept a pair of sponsorship deals being signed by two of the sport’s independents.

Williams extended its deal with Swiss watchmaker Oris, adding to recent extensions by fellow sponsors Allianz and Philips, while Red Bull brought on board Dutch company Trust, late of Jordan and Minardi.

Richards: let’s take it slow

Prodrive boss David Richards is not rushing into anything to purchase the Honda F1 team, Reuters reports.

“I'm not rushing in blindly and saying absolutely this is something I've got to do,” Richards told the news service. “I want to know all the facts, first of all. I want to know the exact lie of the land before I commit myself to anything.”

It doesn’t seem to be the price tag which is causing the former BAR boss hesitation, but rather the money needed to keep the team going.

“It's all very well going along and making the commitment to buy it because I don't think that will be too onerous,” he added. “The real issue is to make sure that you have the resources and the wherewithal to sustain it for the foreseeable future.”

Day 1 in Jerez

Sebastien Buemi was fastest in the first day of testing at Jerez, leading STR veteran Sebastien Bourdais in wet conditions.

  1. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:18.742
  2. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:19.288
  3. Gary Paffett, McLaren, 1:20.134
  4. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:20.164
  5. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:20.261
  6. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber 1:20.678
  7. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:21.338s
  8. Nelsinho Piquet, Renault, 1:21.547
  9. Christian Klien, BMW Sauber 1:22.098
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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Futures in the balance

Valencia, European Grand Prix preview

Of all those hit by Honda's departure from the sport, few are receiving the attention shown Jenson Button.

The 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix winner recently signed a contract extension with the team, but may find himself without an option for 2009.

Honda Racing has revealed it will reopen negotiations with Button to break his contract and allow him to move elsewhere if such an opportunity arises.

"We had a deal with Button and we are going to restart the talks to undo that contract," Autosport.com reports Honda chairman and CEO Takeo Fukui said.

Ross Brawn said while he hopes Button would stay with the team, he and Nick Fry were supportive of the Britain's situation.

"If Jenson gets an opportunity I am sure we will sit down and see what the situation here is and what the opportunity he has got," Autosport quotes Brawn. "Given that he is part of the team, I don't think he will rush off and make that decision without discussing it with us. We will keep an open dialogue. If we can keep him here we will be delighted but we also understand that it is very difficult for an F1 driver to miss a season - unlike engineers."

Toro Rosso is reported to have made an approach for Button, The Guardian reporting he has been invited to test with the team in Jerez.

Also caught in limbo are Rubens Barrichello and Bruno Senna, who had impressed in testing.

Meanwhile, the search moves forward on a buyer for the Brackley-based squad.

Sources report three parties expressed interest in the operation, and The Daily Telegraph is reporting Prodrive's David Richards may be in good position to make the deal.

Richards, of course, was brought in to run the team (in its BAR incarnation) in 2001, achieving second in the constructors championship in 2004. Prodrive's relationship with the team ended, however, when Honda took over.

Most recently he was behind the still-born Prodrive F1 effort, scuttled due to changes regulating customer cars.

One thing is certain, if the team does continue, it will be at a fraction of its current size.

A deal could be announced by the end of the weekend.

Formula 1's other manufacturer teams have gone on record to avow their commitment to the sport. Spokespersons for Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, BMW, Renault and Ferrari have all been quoted in the press assuring they are in it for the long haul, and are working toward cost-cutting measures. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Friday, December 5, 2008

"Guardians of the sport"

In the wake of Honda's shock announcement it is leaving the sport, the FIA sent a letter to the teams further pushing it cost-cutting measures, including standardized engines by 2010.

“As the guardians of the sport, the FIA is committed to working with the commercial rights holder and the remaining members of FOTA to ensure that Formula One becomes financially sustainable,” the FIA said in its statement.

The FIA revealed negotiations with Cosworth, Xtrac and Ricardo Transmissions (XR), to supply the low-cost powertrain.

The unit is one of three options the FIA proposes, the others being for teams to build their own engines to Cosworth’s specs, or to continue with their current ‘frozen’ engines. All options would include the standard transmission.

Overshadowed by Honda's news yesterday was the meeting of the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA), where teams unanimously agreed on their own cost-cutting plan in hopes of heading off the standardized option.

"FOTA met today in London to address the relevant commercial challenges that are faced by Formula One," Autosport quotes from a FOTA statement. "The teams had previously unanimously agreed measures that will significantly reduce costs in 2009. In today's meeting the teams have agreed to further measures implementing substantial cost cutting for 2009 and 2010, and additional initiatives to improve the show. Furthermore it is unanimously agreed that a new low cost engine will be introduced in 2011."
Autosport claims the new engine formula being proposed is based on a 1.8-litre turbocharged engine with energy recovery systems. The more efficient design will result in 30% less fuel consumption.

Changes in qualifying are also on the table. All proposals will be presented to the World Motor Sport Council at its meeting next week.

Teams have until December 11 to express interest in the FIA standardized engine.

The full release from the FIA:

Press Release
Formula One Costs

The announcement of Honda’s intended withdrawal from Formula One has confirmed the FIA’s longstanding concern that the cost of competing in the World Championship is unsustainable. In the FIA’s view, the global economic downturn has only exacerbated an already critical situation.

As the guardians of the sport, the FIA is committed to working with the commercial rights holder and the remaining members of FOTA to ensure that Formula One becomes financially sustainable.

The FIA President has today sent the attached letter to all of the Formula One teams.

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Official statement from Honda

Hungarian F1 Grand Prix - Qualifying

“We, Honda Motor Co., Ltd., have come to the conclusion that we will withdraw from all Formula One activities, making 2008 the last season of participation.

“This difficult decision has been made in light of the quickly deteriorating operating environment facing the global auto industry, brought on by the sub-prime problem in the United States, the deepening credit crisis and the sudden contraction of the world economies.

“Honda must protect its core business activities and secure the long term as widespread uncertainties in the economies around the globe continue to mount. A recovery is expected to take some time.

“Under these circumstances, Honda has taken swift and flexible measures to counter this sudden and expansive weakening of the marketplace in all business areas. However, in recognition of the need to optimize the allocation of management resources, including investment regarding the future, we have decided to withdraw from Formula One participation.

“We will enter into consultation with the associates of Honda Racing F1 Team and its engine supplier Honda Racing Development regarding the future of the two companies. This will include offering the team for sale.

“In its third era of Formula One activities, Honda has been participating in Formula One races from the 2000 season, initially with BAR, by adopting a new format of jointly developing racing machines. Subsequently, in a move to meet the changing environment surrounding Formula One, we switched to running a 100 percent Honda-owned team commencing with the 2006 season.

“Surmounting many challenges, the Honda Team achieved a Grand Prix victory in 2006, enabling Honda to receive overwhelming support from Honda fans around the world that were looking forward to greater success. It, therefore, has been an extremely difficult decision for us to come to this conclusion without having been able to fully meet the expectations of our fans.

“By making the best of what we have learned during these times of economic turmoil, coupled with the spirit of challenge gained through active participation in racing, we intend to continue with our commitment in meeting new challenges.

“Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank our fans and all those who have supported Honda’s Formula One efforts, including everyone in the world of Formula One.

"Thank you very much."

Takeo Fukui
and CEO
Honda Motor Co., Ltd.


The Official Formula 1 Website

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

UPDATED: Honda's F1 exit

Multiple sources are reporting Honda will either sell their F1 team or close it down by March 2009.

James Allen has analysis.

Rumors continue to swirl. Midweek Motorsport is sending the following to its listener's collective on Facebook:

There are strong indications, by which I mean rumblings from inside the factory, that Honda F1 is on the verge of shutting down, or, at least, a substantial degree of downsizing.

Our F1 correspondent, Nick Daman, suggests that this could be the (Honda) prelude to a takeover by the family Todt. This would potentially lead to a change of engines at the team and the logical choice would be the Ferrari powerplants that Force India no longer want.

Our not F1 correspondent, Declan Brennan, adds that this would also reunite Ferrari with Ross Brawn and create a Ferrari 'B Team' to match that of Mclaren's 'farm team' Force India.

There is a great deal of adding two plus two and getting 'Corby Trouser Press' here, but we feel this is part of the Midweek Motorsport ongoing commitment to speculate the shite out of everything and everyone.

We will of course, discuss this in more made up detail next week our last show of the year.

Major sources are now reporting the story, and the big question is, what's next? Finding a buyer will be a major task. There are always interested parties, but finding the money is always the deal breaker. Obviously, this calls into question Bernie Ecclestone's contractual car count requirements, especially with questions hanging over Toro Rosso's future plans.

All of this highlights the folly of placing your future in the hands of the auto manufacturers at the expense of the privateers. When it comes down to boardrooms and shareholders and the bottom line, racing is just another investment that can be lopped off the budget, not a passion to be pursued at all costs.

The major F1 news organizations are all over this, and links can be found in the news section further down the page. The blogs are also buzzing, and you can see what they're saying under SpeedRead's Blogroll on the sidebar.

**grandprix.com has an interesting breakdown of how the drop in U.S. sales has hurt other F1 participants. A fascinating look at how a country without a race and limited interest in the sport holds so much sway over it. Bernie might not need the U.S., but F1's manufacturers do.**

And, of course, I'll keep updating as information becomes available.
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Pantano miffed

Italian Formula One Grand Prix: Qualifying

GP2 champ Giorgio Pantano is pretty sure winning the title last year won't net him a drive in F1, and he's not happy about it.

"I feel total indifference towards me. I read of Senna and Buemi but, really, what have they done?" F1-Live reports Pantano told Italian magazine Autosprint. "At this point, a guy in my situation must think that being a racing driver is not advantageous, doing another job would be better."

The 29-year-old would be the first GP2 champion not to get a ride in the top flight the following season since the class's inception.

"Money is becoming the priority in order to race, talent doesn't exist anymore," Pantano said, insisting he just wanted a credible test and evaluation.

Pantano obviously does not count the two-thirds of the 2004 season he spent at Jordan as a race driver as a "credible" test, nor tests with Williams, McLaren and Renault.

Pantano said his only friend in the paddock was Bernie Ecclestone.

"The only real drives still available are at Honda and Toro Rosso," he said. "Bernie told me that if anything moves, I'll be the first to know."

Kovy blames heavy fuel loads

Heikki Kovalainen says he was consistently heavier than teammate Lewis Hamilton in qualifying in 2008.

"Only once was I lighter on fuel than Lewis, and that was at Silverstone, where I was on the pole," Setanta reports he told Switzerland's Motorsport Aktuell magazine. "In all other qualifying sessions, I was fuelled more heavily - often the heaviest guy in the top six or seven. If I had been at the front [of the grid] more often, then I would have won more frequently."
The Finn, who has been quiet in his supporting role to the F1 champion, finished seventh this year. He has asked for equal footing in 2009.

"The team knew exactly what was taking place and it's something we have to look at for the coming year," he said.

Good luck with that. One would think the experiences of David Coulthard, Juan Pablo Montoya and Fernando Alonso might prove enlightening to Kovalainen.

Sato gets another test

Takuma Sato will once again be at the wheel of a Toro Rosso at Jerez next week.

“We obviously see this as a positive step but still nothing is decided for the 2009 racing season,” ITV quotes his commercial manager, Matthew Winter.
Alonso would quit over standard engines

Double world champion Fernando Alonso has threatened to quit the sport if the FIA's proposed a standard engine for 2010 comes to pass.

"If they approve a single engine that would be the last straw," Fox quotes Alonso. "It would be time to start thinking about retirement."
Davidson to sports cars

Anthony Davidson looks set for a move to sportscars for 2009.

The ex-Super Aguri driver, who has been working as a race commentator since the team went belly up, recently tested with Peugeot.

"He tested the car for us and we have some other drivers to test," onestopstrategy.com reports team manager Serge Saulnier told Motorsport News. "He did well. The target of this test was more for him to get the feeling of the car. He's now got a good idea of the car and the team, so he will know about us if we consider a collaboration."
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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hamilton in spaaaaaaaccccccccceeeeeeeeeee...

Lewis Hamilton and Nicole Scherzinger miss flight at LAX

According to the Evening Standard, Lewis Hamilton wants to take his girlfriend Nicole and three members of his family into space, and spent $1m five tickets on spaceline Virgin Galactic for 2010.

McLaren was quick to deny the claim.

"We can confirm that Lewis is not, and has not been considering, purchasing tickets for him and his family to go on the space flight," a spokesman is quoted on F1-Live.

Speed gets full-time NASCAR deal

The great American hope, former Toro Rosso driver Scott Speed, will be plying his trade full-time for Red Bull Racing in the NASCAR series.

Speed will drive a Toyota, teaming up with Brian Vickers and replacing A.J. Allmendinger. He ran five races in the top flight last year.

"Scott earned his Sprint Cup ride by exceeding our expectations in ARCA and Trucks," the AP quotes Red Bull general manager Jay Fryer.

Berger denies Force India rumor

Gerhard Berger denied reports he was joining Force India, telling Austrian news agency APA no discussions have taken place.

"There is nothing to it. There have been no discussions, and I have no interest," he said.

Rumors circulating in the last few days had Berger, Franz Tost and STR engineer Giorgio Ascanelli moving to Vijay Mallya's concern.

BMW, Benz make case for German GP

German manufacturers BMW and Mercedes-Benz are calling for a solution to keep the German Grand Prix on the schedule, in the wake of claims by Hockenheim it can't continue to host the race without financial support.

"Germany is an important market for BMW, where we have a big fan base," F1-Live reports a BMW spokesman told Duetsche Press-Agentur. "Formula one should not lose its traditional arenas. A solution has to be found here."

The German Grand Prix alternates between the circuit and the Nurburgring, and is set to return to Hockenheim in 2010.

"Of course we are interested that German Formula One fans have at least one Grand Prix in Germany," Mercedes' Norbert Haug concurred. "Especially as until recently they had two per season."
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Monday, December 1, 2008

Rumor: Berger to Force India?

Gerhard Berger (AUT) Formula 1 Grand Prix, China, Sunday

Gerhard Berger said recently he isn’t finished with F1, but the latest rumor has him returning quicker than many might have imagined -- with Force India.

Rumormill GMM, citing the always reliable German press, has Berger and Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost heading to Vijay Mallya’s team, and bringing with them engineer Giorgio Ascanelli.

Force India has some openings, recently parting company with Colin Kolles and Mike Gascoyne.

In related Berger rumor news, the news organization has the Austrian in line to become rising star Sebastian Vettel's manager.

Barrichello wins Massa’s kart event

Rubens Barrichello, who stands to lose his Honda race seat to Lucas di Grassi, held off the young Brazilian to win Felipe Massa’s International Challenge of Kart Champions.

Barrichello, who has been threatening to reveal “the truth” about his time with Ferrari, was highly critical of ex-teammate Michael Schumacher’s driving in the event, and took the opportunity to stick it to his German rival.

“Everybody wants to win this, but we can't go around hitting other people on the track,” Setanta quotes the ex-Ferrari driver. “This is a charity event. It seemed like Schumacher thought he was in a war. Maybe he forgot that he is in Brazil now.”
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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hockenheim latest to ask for help

German Formula One Grand Prix: Race

Hockenheim says its participation in F1 can’t go on without serious financial help from the government and better terms from the sport.

"Without grants from the state (of Baden-Wuerttemberg) there will be no more Formula One in Hockenheim," Reuters reports circuit boss Karl-Josef Schmidt told Der Tagesspiegel.

Der Tagesspiegel reports the circuit lost 5.3 million euros (£4.8m) on this year's grand prix as German interest in the sport has waned since the 2006 retirement of seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher.

During the height of Michael-mania, Germany hosted two dates on the F1 calendar. In recent years the country’s one date has alternated between Hockenheim and the Nuerburgring.

The German Grand Prix is slated to return to Hockenheim in 2010, but Schmidt warns that without better terms from Formula 1, Germany is likely to drop off the calendar entirely, joining France and North America on the sidelines.

"Formula One will disappear not just from Hockenheim but from Germany as a whole," he said. "Then it will only be run in Arab countries."

The state is less than enthusiastic about getting involved, Reuters reports.

Meanwhile, if the British Grand Prix’s move to Donington actually does come off, organizers plan to have spectators only use public transportation to get to the circuit.

Roadway infrastructure and parking were some of Bernie Ecclestone’s pet peeves with Silverstone, and Donington has similar limitations. It now looks as if organizers has chosen a novel approach to those issues, with fans able to book transportation, tickets and accommodation in one package.

"This will be the first public transport Grand Prix. We are not bringing cars here," grandprix.com reports Simon Gillett, chief executive of Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd. said. "We are looking to use public transport from all the major conurbations, the airport and the Parkway station."
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Saturday, November 29, 2008

F1 news in brief – 11/29/08

F1 Nov 2008

Many changes in the regulations are being looked at as potential "shaker-uppers" for 2009, from Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) to slicks to aero changes.

Jenson Button is confident Honda can use those changes to their advantage, and challenge for race wins in 2009.

"I've already seen what is happening with the car for next year, and it looks very positive," Planet F1 quotes Button at last week's "Honda Racing Thanks Day." "It feels more like 2006, when I got three podiums and I won my first race. So it's all very positive, and I'm hoping to get some more wins next year."


Williams' Nico Rosberg is also hoping the shake-up works to his benefit, hinging his future on the team's fortunes.

"I am not asking for a World Championship-winning car, just a car that gives me the opportunity to finish in the points consistently - and a couple of podiums would be the icing on the cake," Fox quotes Rosberg. "The chances are there, for sure. Should '09 not turn out as I hope it will, then naturally I have to re-think my position for 2010."


McLaren’s engineering boss Paddy Lowe thinks KERS will shake things up on a race-by race basis.

"Certainly, the variation from circuit to circuit will be different," he told McLaren’s official website. "Also KERS will have more authority at some tracks than at others – so the pecking order from circuit to circuit may change a little bit."

Lowe also believes the nature of the system will result in continued development over the course of the year.

"There will definitely be constant development of the KERS device through the year," he said. "One thing to bear in mind is that the ultimate idealised performance benefit of KERS is capped – because it’s limited in power and energy. So assuming you’ve delivered to that cap, you’re looking more into the domains of doing it for less weight or doing it more efficiently or more reliably."

Why do I think it will still be Ferraris and McLarens up front?

A trio of drivers talk future

Fans of Fernando Alonso can rest assured their champion will not be leaving the sport without winning a third championship.

"I'm more or less convinced about not leaving F1 without becoming world champion again," F1 Live reports he told the Spanish radio network Cadena SER.

Alonso returns to Renault in 2009, but Satander's confirmation they are moving to Ferrari in 2010 has rekindle speculation the Spaniard will be moving to The Prancing Horse.

"A quick answer to that question would not be the right answer," he said.


While Honda continues to test young drivers, Rubens Barrichello has turned his attention to the empty seats at Toro Rosso.

The Brazilian maintains he is not ready for retirement.

"I am very proud of everything I have accomplished," he said on his Web site. "I am saying this because it seems like I still want to race because I have to prove myself, but this is not why I want to stay in F1. I want to keep going simply because I love it and I still have a lot of energy. I have a chance of going to two very competitive teams: Honda or Toro Rosso. This is what motivates me right now."

Motivated or not, Sebastien Buemi and Takuma Sato would seem to have the inside line on the Toro Rosso seats, especially in the wake of Dietrich Mateschitz's reacquisition of Gerhard Berger's half of the team.

And with Barrichello publicly reopening Austria 2002, one wonders how smooth things are with Ross Brawn at the moment.


Meanwhile, Giancarlo Fisichella is telling anyone who will listen his seat at Force India is safe.

"The line-up has been announced in China in October by Vijay, and I trust people who trust me," Fisichella told the official F1 website. "I originally signed a two-year contract which was reviewed in September to incorporate the McLaren deal. In a few words, the team offered me a better car and a different package."

Team owner Vijay Mallya confirmed his lineup before then end of the 2008 season. McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa's appearance earlier this month in Barcelona raised some eyebrows, however, and brought the futures of Fisichella and teammate Adrian Sutil into question.

Fisichella said he wasn't surprised.

"The only thing I know is that in September we were told that Pedro could test and we could not say before it was made official so I was not at all surprised," he added.

Loose ends

James Allen discusses a new star born at Ferrari.

F1 Fanatic
worries as Codemasters is barred from creating blog about their F1 game. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Friday, November 28, 2008

Berger explains why he sold

Belgian Formula One Grand Prix: Practice

Former Toro Rosso owner Gerhard Berger, who sold his half of the team back to Dietrich Mateschitz earlier this week, said his decision was influenced by the Red Bull owner's hope to sell the team.

Berger, in an interview the Tiroler newspaper, said he began thinking about selling when changes in the customer car rules spurred Mateschitz into talk about selling out. The former-F1 driver felt without financing the team would slip down the grid performance-wise.

"I would have gladly continued with Toro Rosso, but I could not finance it by myself," sources report Berger said. "The conditions in order to make the next step are no longer there, and it has never been my style just to be here (in F1) for the sake of it."

Additionally, the Austrian said he believed the 2009 rules would not be good for the Faenza-based squad.

"The new rules leave no room for improvement for a small team as STR," Fox reports he said. "Also, Dietrich's interest will focus on Red Bull Racing, therefore the support for STR will become smaller and prevent the team from improving further from sixth.

Berger denied he sold the team because he was at odds with Mateschitz over the 2009 driver lineup.

"It has nothing to do with that," he said.

So, has the paddock seen the last of him? He left that door open.

"Don't worry, it is quite possible that I will reappear some day," onestopstrategy.com reports he told Auto Motor und Sport.
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bernie: Medals next year

Bernie Ecclestone Announces Global Sponsorship Deal

Medals are going to happen.

That's the word from Bernie Ecclestone, who is keen on seeing a medal system replace the current points system used to determine the drivers' championship.

Ecclestone said he expects the FIA World Motorsport Council to ratify the change at its next meeting.

"It's going to happen," Autosport quotes Ecclestone. "All the teams are happy. The whole reason for this was that I was fed up with people talking about no overtaking. The reason there's no overtaking is nothing to do with the circuit or the people involved, it's to do with the drivers not needing to overtake.

Under Ecclestone's system, the driver with the most race wins would win the championship. The assumption is this will inspire drivers to 'go for gold' rather than play it safe in second for points.

"If you are in the lead and I'm second, I'm not going to take a chance and risk falling off the road or doing something silly to get two more points," he said. "If I need to do it to win a gold medal, because the most medals win the world championship, I'm going to do that. I will overtake you."

Were the medal system used last season, Felipe Massa would have won the championship.

One who has a less than enthusiastic opinion on the proposed system is Eddie Jordan, former team boss and current F1 pundit.

"I think it's a nonsense," Planet F1 reports he told BBC Radio Five Live. "He's tinkering with something that in my opinion he has lost the understanding of. He thinks people are only interested in winning the races. I'm sorry, but there's just not enough thought put into this. It should be put to one side and discussed by him and Max Mosley, and for Bernie Ecclestone to say it's coming with the full approval of all the teams, I simply don't believe it."

For more…

How 'medals' would change F1 history. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Red Bull buys out Berger

Italian Formula One Grand Prix: Race

Yesterday, Dietrich Mateschitz made some interesting comments concerning Toro Rosso's 2009 driver lineup.

Now, it seems the billionaire will have the final say, as Red Bull has bought out co-owner Gerhard Berger's half of the Faenza-based team.

"I'm very grateful to Gerhard for his enormous input," sources report Mateschitz said in an official statement. "Together we have made Toro Rosso a team which, from 2008 onwards, will regularly qualify for the top 10 and collect championship points. Red Bull will now run Toro Rosso alone on this basis."

Berger had owned half the team since 2006, when Mateschitz bought the Minardi squad from Paul Stoddart.

"I am very happy that I can support Didi (Mateschitz) - who has committed himself to Formula One with so much dedication - with the reorganisation of the team and in this process to make use of my knowledge so effectively," Berger said in the statement.

Often viewed as a satellite of Mateschitz's Red Bull outfit, the Ferrari-powered team upstaged the parent squad this year riding the performance of emerging talent Sebastian Vettel, scoring a win at the Italian Grand Prix, and outscoring Red Bull 39-29 in the constructors' race.

The future of the team seemed in question, however, with the rules changing to eliminate customer cars in 2010. Mateschitz said early in 2008 Red Bull was looking to sell its stake.

This would seem to be the exact opposite. Whether buying out Berger is a result of a relaxation of those rules in light of the economic crisis, or a precursor to a sale of the team to another investor, remains to be seen.

STR's money situation had come into question recently, with current driver Sebastien Bourdais saying the team wanted drivers who brought cash. What this turn of event means for the half-dozen names rumored to be in line for a drive is unknown.

The deal is subject to approval. If it is approved, Mateschitz would own two teams on the grid, which would seem to be at odds with the current state of affairs in Formula 1. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Monday, November 24, 2008

DC to become a busy man?

Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix: Previews

Recently retired F1 driver David Coulthard has officially been announced as a member of the BBC’s broadcast team for 2009.

Eddie Jordan was also revealed as part of a group which includes Jake Humphrey, Jonathan Legard, Martin Brundle, Ted Kravitz and Lee McKenzie.

It could well be the beginning of a busy year for the Scot, who became a father Friday when fiancee Karen Minier gave birth to a boy.

DC may find himself called into action in his consulting role with Red Bull, now that Mark Webber has been ruled out until at least Melbourne following his bike accident.

With the bulk of the work falling on the shoulders of Coulthard’s young replacement, Sebastian Vettel, Coulthard’s experience may be needed more than might have been expected heading into the winter testing season.

Teams are slated to get back on the track December 8 at Jerez. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


China gets boost, France, not so much...

Chinese Formula One Grand Prix: Race

Officials are playing down speculation the Chinese Grand Prix may be dropped when its current contract runs out in 2010.

“I would say it's likely it will stay after 2010,” Leon Sun, of race organizer Juss Events, told Reuters. “Formula one has only been here for five years We think formula one is a very good product, a very good event for Shanghai city so at least from our company's point of view we want to continue promoting and building the event”

News emerged recently that organizers were assessing whether the race was economically viable, prompting Bernie Ecclestone to say he would want to find ways to help the event stay on the calendar, according to onestopstrategy.com.

But as the Chinese Grand Prix gets a boost, it seems it may be a few years before the French Grand Prix returns to the schedule.

Citing economic issues, the French motorsport federation withdrew its backing of the Magny-Cours race, leaving the country without a grand prix for 2009.

The event took another hit last week when Euro Disney and the Lagardere Sports group shelved a plan to move the race to the Val d'Europe circuit near Paris.

Ecclestone says the race will not return until the right location can be found.

“I've always thought it was the right spot for us, that it was the new location that suited the French Grand Prix,” Fox reports Ecclestone said. “I think it is quite sure (that there will be no race in 2010). We went to Magny-Cours for the wrong reasons, for political reasons. Let's try and avoid a repeat. What we want is to find for sure the right spot because the French GP has to be long-lasting.”
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Buemi gets Dietrich’s vote, Bourdais says it comes down to money

Formula One Testing In Barcelona

Toro Rosso may be remaining silent about its driver lineup for 2009, but not-so-silent partner Dietrich Mateschitz says Sebastien Buemi stands a pretty good chance of being there.

Quite a few drivers remain in the fold for STR, including Takuma Sato and incumbent Sebastien Bourdais, who took part in testing last week.

Toro Rosso has at least one seat to fill, with Sebestian Vettel’s move to Red Bull, and Mateschitz is convinced Swiss Red Bull product Buemi is a leading candidate.

“One will very likely be Buemi,” Mateschitz told autosport.com. “The line-up will be confirmed before the last test in December.”

No word on the subject from co-owner Gerhard Berger, however.

Bourdais says it all comes down to money, revealing his three-year contract may not be enough to save his job.

“In the end it does not matter whether you have a three-year deal or not - there is always a line in the contract which says that if they are not happy with you they can get rid of you,” the Frenchman said in an interview with Formula1.com. “The fact is that there is no such thing as a sure deal in racing, whether it is Formula One or any other series. As long as it works it's good for everyone and then it is all rosy, but if it doesn't work out as expected, then ciao!”

Bourdais believes the evaluation process will take some time, with additional drivers in the mix than those who tested last week in Spain.

“There have been three drivers in Barcelona, but Rubens (Barrichello) is on the list and Bruno (Senna) as well - if he doesn't get picked up by Honda - so anybody who has got talent and money today is a potential candidate,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bourdais says he doesn’t have a back-up plan.

“I have no idea,” he said. “As far as I am concerned right now my priority is to stay here, but at some point I will have to make up my mind and take a potentially very difficult decision. In the meantime it is scary because I don't know what I'll be doing next year.”
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Grosjean too young, mistake prone

Italian Formula One Grand Prix: Previews

Romain Grosjean looks set for another year in GP2 after Renault boss Flavio Briatore said the Frenchman is too young to move up to Formula 1 this season.

Grosjean looked to be a possibility to partner with Fernando Alonso in 2009 before Renault announced it was sticking with Nelson Piquet for the second seat.

Piquet’s place in the team was precarious following an inconsistent debut season, and Briatore’s decision not to go with another unproven young talent may have been a case of “I’m not falling for that one again.”

Still, Briatore believes it is best for a team to groom its own talent.

“If you want to win with somebody really good, you need to bring up your own drivers in-house, like we did with Fernando, and McLaren with Hamilton,” GMM reports he said.

Beijing Guoan takes Superleague title

Beijing Guoan have won the inaugural Superleague Formula championship in Jerez Sunday.

“It’s very good to be the first Superleague champion and I am very very happy,” Setanta reports driver Davide Rigon said. “I hope that someone from Formula 1 can help me, watch me and hopefully I can try and test for Formula 1 now.”

The Superleague Formula features spec cars badged to represent some of the world’s biggest football clubs. Ex-F1 drivers Robert Doornbos and Antonio Pizzonia were among this year’s competitors. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


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