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Thursday, July 31, 2008

McLaren confirms Kovalainen for '09

McLaren's driver lineup remains unchanged for 2009 as the team confirm Heikki Kovalainen will be retained along side Lewis Hamilton.

“We welcomed Heikki on board at the start of the year,” ITV quotes Martin Whitmarsh. “He is under contract to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, and will continue to race for us in the 2009 season.”

The Finn has proved fast, if plagued with some horrible luck the season, which has seen him well adrift of his teammate in the driver's championship.

Kovalainen helped cement his reputation as a team player in the German Grand Prix, supporting Hamilton's charge back through the field on the way to the Briton's win at Hockenheim.

Not just another whopper from a car dealer...

The BBC reports a Kent car dealer was surprised to find the man who knocked him to the ground in a Fiat van was none other than seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher. Full story here.

IndyCar releases '09 schedule

US open-wheel fans got a glimpse of what a post-merger world really looks like as IndyCar released its first true schedule since swallowing up Champ Car.

It looks a lot like this year's.

The 18-race schedule is comprised of 10 ovals and eight street/road courses.

The season will start on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. as the oval at Homestead moves to the end of the season.

A Toronto street event (a former Champ Car stop) replaces the Nashville oval race, and Long Beach, Calif. is an official event for '09.

Additionally, Motegi moves to the fall and Surfers Paradise is out.

  1. April 5: St. Petersburg, Fla.
  2. April 19: Long Beach, Calif.
  3. April 26: Kansas Speedway
  4. May 24: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
  5. May 31: The Milwaukee Mile
  6. June 6: Texas Motor Speedway
  7. June 21: Iowa Speedway
  8. June 27: Richmond (Va.) International Raceway
  9. July 5: Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International
  10. July 12: Toronto
  11. July 26: Edmonton, Alberta
  12. Aug. 1: Kentucky Speedway
  13. Aug. 9: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
  14. Aug. 23: Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, Calif.
  15. Aug. 29: Chicagoland Speedway
  16. Sept. 6: Detroit, Mich.
  17. Sept. 19: Motegi, Japan
  18. Oct. 11: Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway
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, July 30, 2008

JPM: 'In Formula 1 they want you to be a robot'

Ed. note -- Upon further review, turns out this was lifted by our German friends from an interview in F1 Racing, altering some of the context. Plucky Germans. I've updated with some notes below. What results is an interesting examination of the global motorsports press.

Former F1 star Juan Pablo Montoya says he doesn't regret switching to NASCAR, saying F1 doesn't want strong personalities. This answer pretty much stands, although it is a mash-up of two different questions. He really did say robots.

"In Formula 1 they want you to be a robot," Crash.net reports he told the German newspaper Sport Bild. "If you have a strong personality, you will have problems. I don't regret anything about changing to NASCAR."

The Colombian, back with Chip Ganassi, with whom he had success with in US open-wheel racing before switching to F1, has warm memories of his time with Williams. This question really had more to do with his memories of working with Patrick Head, but he was generally positive of his time at Williams.

"With BMW-Williams I had the most fun, with Patrick Head mostly. Patrick always said what he thinks – as I do," he said. "He always tried with every conversation to be polite, but by the end he could never keep it up; that was funny!"

McLaren, however, was a different story. This answer is kind of a mash-up of several different answers -- the first part on how F1 drivers will adapt to night driving and the differences between NASCAR and F1 drivers. The second more about the differences between McLaren and Williams, and the final part on the differences between Frank Williams and Ron Dennis.

"They complain about everything," he said. "Like in Monaco, they complained about reflections in the rear-view mirrors when they go through the tunnel. Me, I think 'just get on with it and drive!'

Many people in F1 forget that it is a sport. McLaren, for example, take it much too seriously.

With Ron [Dennis], you have a nice dinner with him one evening and then when you say 'hi' the next day, he is a totally different person."

JPM also had an interesting take on his relationship with teammate Kimi Raikkonen. To be fair, JPM also said Kimi was probably a nice guy once you got to know him.

"With Kimi it is not about whether you get along with him or not, because he never says anything – and it's difficult to know someone who doesn't talk, right?" he explained.

Given his experience with McLaren, the 2007 NASCAR Rookie of the Year was not surprised Fernando Alonso left the team after just one season. A little more perspective on this, this answer stemmed out of a question concerning favoritism at McLaren.

"He saw that the future of the team was Lewis Hamilton," he said. "not Fernando Alonso."

F1 needs strong personalities...

Super Aguri assets sold

Any thoughts of someone relaunching a Formula One team out of the ashes of the Super Aguri squad were dashed as Formtech GmbH, which manufactures parts for F1 and the automotive industry, purchased the former F1 team's assets.

The firm plans to use the team's Leafield headquarters for expansion of its business.

"With our plans of company growth and manufacturing expansion, the location at Leafield enables us to establish a presence in an important geographical area for motorsport engineering,” SpeedTV.com quotes Formtech managing director Franz Hilmer. "We shall be employing a number of ex-Super Aguri staff who are experienced in the field of composite design and manufacturing and make full use of the sites spacious facilities and up-to-date machinery. A further goal of Formtech is to attract suitable individuals and companies with aspirations of running their own motorsport team to purchase the F1 race equipment from Formtech."

Mosley still says he will quit at end of term

Max Mosley says he still plans to retire when his current term ends in 2009.

Fresh off his privacy case victory over News of the World, the FIA boss said he has no intention of running for another term.

"There are a large number of people in the FIA who are saying that I must run again in 2009," Mosley told Autosport magazine. "I don't want to, because to be very, very honest, I want to stop going to work every day. It is that thing that every morning you cannot believe how much work there is to do."

Mosley said there is more to the job that what's visible on the surface.

"A lot of people with ambitions think all you do is put on a blazer and an armband and you are president of the FIA. You can do it like that, but then you are not the person in control - it is the secretary general," he said. "So if you want to have any influence, you have to do an awful lot of work."

Asked whether he thought the oft mentioned Jean Todt would succeed him, Mosley had his doubts.

"I think there are a lot of potential successors and if Jean Todt were interested in doing it, and I am not sure he is, he would obviously be very capable," he explained."But someone like Jean Todt could command a huge salary in F1. He could go anywhere he wanted, you know he could go into any of those companies to make it work."
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, July 29, 2008

Teams unite for future of F1

Formula One’s teams came together at Maranello today, agreeing to set up an association to discuss the future of the sport.

The new organization is expected to work with the FIA and Formula One Management toward a new Concorde Agreement and sporting regulations.

The meeting was a response to a Max Mosley letter from earlier in the month seeking the team’s input on new rules from 2011, aimed at cost cutting, fuel economy and improved racing.

Also present for the meeting were ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone and Donald McKenzie of commercial rights holder CVC Capital Partners.

“All the Formula 1 teams met today in Maranello and held an extremely constructive meeting, in the presence of Bernie Ecclestone and Donald McKenzie,” Ferrari said in a statement. “The teams have subsequently agreed unanimously that they will establish the new Formula 1 Teams Association to work with the FIA and FOM to agree upon regulations and commercial conditions which will provide a framework for a strong and dynamic sport.”

Prior to the meeting, in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, Flavio Briatore weighed in on what he felt was needed, and the effects on the sport of a Mosley distracted by scandal.

“His absence is felt as there's no project for F1. The teams feel abandoned," Briatore said. “The Concorde agreement, the number of races, the costs, the spectacle, the imperative increase of revenues. Formula One needs to be redesigned. I feel that it should be down to the teams to decide, by electing in turns a director of operations. A guy who does things, not a PR person.”

Ever helpful, the folks at Red Bull offer a few thoughts on what can be done to cut costs in its Hungarian Grand Prixview. 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, July 28, 2008

What's hitting the F1 blogs?

Time to check out what’s big on the blogs this week.

BlogF1 goes in-depth on the Damaged Trackrod that Caused Glock’s Accident, and the implications.

F1 Wolf asks Will we have full F1 season without any driver changes?

F1 Rage notes the KERS Causality List is Mounting.

F1 Break sets the record straight on the fact McLaren have used four-paddle steering wheel since Australia.

F1Fanatic wonders if Lewis Hamilton is about to score a hat trick in their 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix preview.

Edward Gorman’s TimesOnline Formula One Blog talks about the Point and squirt circuit.

And as always, much fun to be had at Top Gear’s Sunday Afternoon Club.

Enjoy! 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, July 27, 2008

Tire problems at Indy

No, you didn’t fall asleep and wake up in 2005. And this time we can’t blame Max Mosley. But while Jimmie Johnson won this year’s Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, it was less a race than an exercise in survival, as teams were plagued by troubles with the series’ Goodyear rubber.

In Friday's and Saturday’s practice sessions, teams reported tires wearing out in as little as five laps. Goodyear took the extraordinary step of trucking in 800 tires slated for next week's race at Pocono, to be used if teams ran out of their Indy tires. The series also announced it would throw in “competition cautions” - yellow flags - as necessary.

It was a situation eerily similar to the 2005 USGP, where tire problems led to 14 Michelin-shod runners pulling out over concerns with their rubber.

This time around the series in question, NASCAR, handled things a little differently. The series mandated “competition cautions” accounted for six of the race’s 11 yellows.

Track president Joie Chitwood was quick to point out the difference.

“What you're seeing now is what's different, that we have Goodyear and NASCAR talking with us," Chitwood was quited during a news conference. "The goal is to make sure fans enjoy the event. The key is we're all in it together. That's most different from 2005.”

A quick glance at the SpeedTV forums show Goodyear, NASCAR and IMS might have fallen a little short in the “make sure fans enjoy the event” category.

Tire wear is not a completely new problem for NASCAR at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but conditions usually improved as rubber was laid down over the course of the weekend. It was much worse this season as NASCAR’s new car, which is heavier and harder on the right-side rubber, made its debut at IMS.

Several drivers, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, and Carl Edwards suffered with tire-related issues in the race, but were able to get back to the pits.

Not so lucky were Matt Kenseth and Juan Pablo Montoya. Both of their days came to an end thanks to tire failures.

Montoya’s was laced with a bit of irony. He was in one of the McLarens which were withdrawn that day in 2005.

DC expects investigation into Toyota’s woes

Making note of back-to-back Toyota failures at Silverstone and Hockenheim, David Coulthard used part of his regular ITV column to say he expected the Cologne-based squad should soon come under FIA scrutiny.

“As an aside, I notice that the rear wing fell off the Toyota at Silverstone and it was a right-rear suspension failure that caused Glock’s crash at Hockenheim,” Coulthard noted.

In a section of the column titled “Double Standard,” the Scot made note of Red Bull’s experience earlier in the year, when suspension failures in Melbourne and Sepang led to the FIA demanding a detailed investigation proving the car was sound for racing.

“I didn’t hear of any investigation into the structural integrity of the Toyota,” he continued. “But presumably that will happen because when we had a suspension breakage in Malaysia we came under the spotlight of the FIA in a way that was publicly uncomfortable for the team.”

Alonso still loves F1

Renault’s Fernando Alonso hasn’t let a difficult couple of seasons cool his enthusiasm for the sport.

“I still love this sport. There are ups and downs. The good moments are hard to forget. I can't get those feelings from anything else in life,” he is quoted by Fox Sports.

Despite suffering through the world of McLaren last year and a slow Renault this season, the Spaniard can now see himself staying in the sport for many years to come.

“It is true that two or three years ago I was thinking I would not stay that long in F1 like Michael (Schumacher) did,” he said. “I started at 19 with Minardi. Back then I was thinking that 19 or 20 years in F1 would be too many. F1 can sap your energy so I was thinking I did not want to lose my life to F1.”

“Now my opinion has changed. I'm 26 and thinking, 'why not another 10 or 11 years?' I want more success and I'm ready to spend the time needed to get that success back,” he continued.

Where the next part of that future may be is something Alonso has yet to reveal.

“Nothing will be decided until the end of the summer. Then I will sit down with my advisers and decide what is best for me and Renault,” he said. “There are many things to consider. Anything is possible."
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, July 26, 2008

Heikki's a patient man, and he better be

McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen believes it is only a matter of time before he will be on the top step of the podium.

The Finn has had tough luck much of this season, but it is obvious the speed is there, and Fox Sports reports he is pleased enough with his performance.

“I just need to find my own way. It will happen sooner or later,” Kovalainen is quoted as saying. “The fact is I've already been in a position to win a few times, and there will be opportunities again. I just need to crack those opportunities when they come, take them better than I have done so far, to make sure I don't waste them.”

They say patience is a virtue, and it is certainly an attribute that is necessary if you are not on the chosen side of the McLaren garage.

“At this point of the season I was planning to have more points, but many things have happened, some technical issues, accidents,” he continued. “So the most important thing is to keep focused, to keep working, to drag ourselves into a position to win.”

That becomes all the more difficult when you have to make room for your teammate.

“I'm still pushing to the maximum to score more points than the others, and you never know. Anything can happen in Formula One.” he said. “So there's no point giving up or feeling sorry for myself. I will keep fighting.”
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, July 25, 2008

Finns and fins appear in final day at Jerez

Heikki Kovalainen led the final day of testing at Jerez, setting a time of 1:18.385 in his McLaren that was also the top time of the week, as the McLaren was the latest to sprout wings on the nose.

Second was Sebastien Bourdais in the Toro Rosso, who with David Coulthard in third capped off an impressive week for the Red Bull family.

Romain Grosjean was back behind the wheel of the Renault as the team did suspension work. He finished fourth on the day.

“I has a better day today as I already knew the track and I am beginning to feel more comfortable with the car,” Grosjean said. “We had a really good morning when conditions were cooler, covering lots of laps and doing some long runs, and we managed to find a good balance with the car. In the afternoon we tried out a few more things with the set-up and tried to make the car more consistent in the high temperatures.”

And what would a good week of testing be without someone coming out of the garage sporting a shark fin engine cover?

This time it was Ferrari, in the hands of Felipe Massa, who was fifth on the day as the team worked on set-up for Budapest and Valencia.

“I am pleased with the way the day went,” said Massa. “We saw some things which should be interesting for the upcoming races and we carried out an intensive investigation on the set-up of the car. There is so much data at our disposal that will help us be as well prepared as possible for Hungary.”

Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima was sixth, ahead of Nick Heidfeld in the BMW Sauber.

Adrian Sutil continued work on Force India’s seamless-shift gearbox, finishing the day seventh fastest, followed by Jenson Button’s Honda, and Toyota’s Kamui Kobayashi rounded out the field in this final day of testing.

“We ran the car with our latest aero and suspension developments today to complete the evaluations which have been ongoing all week,“ Button said. “The new parts have made a small but tangible improvement to the stability of the car, which is particularly evident over longer runs, so it has been a positive day. It will be interesting to see how this translates over the race weekend in Hungary.”

The Hungarian Grand Prix kicks off in a weeks time. The next test window will be in late August, prior to the Italian Grand Prix.

  1. Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:18.385
  2. Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:18.830
  3. Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:19.494
  4. Grosjean, Renault, 1:19.561
  5. Massa, Ferrari, 1:19.611
  6. Nakajima, Williams, 1:19.724
  7. Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:19.915
  8. Sutil, Force India, 1:19.965
  9. Button, Honda, 1:20.532
  10. Kobayashi, Toyota, 1:20.878
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


A win for Mosley, but what of his future?

Fresh off his privacy case victory over News of the World, FIA president Max Mosley has initiated libel proceedings against the tabloid concerning a column which ran a week after the initial story broke, claiming Mosley lied in his denial of the story.

But even as Mosley moves forward against the newspaper, a number of high-profile personalities in the sport continue to call for Mosley to step aside.

A number of them spoke to the BBC, including Sir Jackie Stewart.

“Max should now step down and be cut out of it totally. His stewardship of the FIA simply cannot be undertaken in its fullest form because of what has occurred,” he is quoted by the BBC.

While Mosley won a vote of confidence from the world motorsport body, several high-profile member organizations have threatened to break away from the FIA over the Mosley affair, including the American Automobile Association.

The Japanese, French, Australian and Spanish automobile federations all voted against Mosley and the German ADAC has suspended its activities with the organization.

Ex-Jordan boss Eddie Jordan agreed it might be an opportune time for Mosley to step aside.

“Max has proven that he is a strong man, he's gone to court and he's not been bullied by a newspaper,” he said to the BBC. “However, there's still a slur against him and people don't forget that easily. If I was Max now having won this case I would say... I'm out of here.”

Paul Stoddart, late of Minardi, was even more blunt.

“Various heads of state that go to Grands Prix don't want to be seen with him,” Stoddart told BBC Radio 5 Live. “The institution (FIA) is completely without credibility. The Crown Prince of Bahrain does not want Mosley in his country while the Australian prime minister refuses to have a meeting with him. There are big public companies that probably won't want to be associated with an institution that Mosley, having been exposed like this, has been representing and will continue to represent.”

And even while paying tribute to Mosley’s accomplishments, Sir Stirling Moss also told the BBC he thinks Mosley’s in a difficult position.

“I can understand how people feel about him, but I like Max. He's an interesting and amusing person,” Moss said. “However, I don't think his position is tenable - he does not hold the stature he held before.”

Mosley’s current term ends October 2009. 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, July 24, 2008

I guess it really does give you wings...

Want to lead testing? Call Dietrich Mateschitz.

For the third straight day, a Red Bull-backed team topped the charts at Jerez.

Today it was Mark Webber, who set time of 1:19.176 on ’09 Bridgestone slicks in the morning.

Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel, who will line up next to Webber next season, was quickest on the first two days of the four-day session.

“We’ve had a pretty good two days here. The car ran pretty reliably and we’ve clocked up some good mileage,” Webber said. “Today we were mostly getting ready for Budapest, as well as looking at developments for a little later in the season.”

“Yesterday we were focusing more on ‘09, and it was quite a challenging day,” he continued. “Today was better in terms of what we learned, mechanically and aerodynamically. It’s been a hot week for the guys working here and they’ve done a good job.”

David Coulthard takes over from Webber tomorrow.

Nelson Piquet was second fastest in the Renault before taking a trip into the kitty litter towards the end of the session.

“We spent most of the day looking ahead to next year by running with slick tyres, which was very interesting,” he said. “They felt good, gave plenty of grip, and the car was working well. We also did some set-up work, evaluating the changes to try and improve the overall balance. So overall another good day’s work.”

Kimi Raikkonen was third fastest in the Ferrari, as the Scuderia focused on improving its 2008 challenger.

Force India’s Vitantonio Liuzzi was fourth as the team continued testing its seamless-shift gearbox.

“It was a good day of testing with more than 100 laps, so it was quite positive,” Liuzzi told autosport.com. “Finally we put on the track the seamless shift and seems like it is working properly. For sure, we have to tune it better for the final version in Hungary, but we are happy because it was quite reliable. Hopefully there will be no problems for the rest of the test, and we will be ready to run it in Budapest.”

  1. Webber, Red Bull, 1:19.176
  2. Piquet, Renault, 1:19.334
  3. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:19.434
  4. Liuzzi, Force India, 1:19.544
  5. De la Rosa, McLaren, 1:19.850
  6. Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:20.029
  7. Nakajima, Williams, 1:20.097
  8. Glock, Toyota, 1:20.421
  9. Barrichello, Honda, 1:20.614
  10. Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:20.896
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


Mosley wins in court

Max Mosley won his case against the News of the World tabloid, a court awarding him £60,000 in damages for breach of privacy concerning consensual "sexual activities (albeit unconventional)."

The court ruled their was no evidence the session reenacted Nazi behavior, rather the "bondage, beating and domination" that did take place was "typical of S&M behaviour," according to the BBC, thus, the newspaper had not satisfied the court there was a case for public interest.

"It demonstrates that their Nazi lie was completely invented and had no justification," the BBC reports Mosley said after the decision. "It also shows that that they had no right to go into private premises and take pictures and film of adults engaged in activities which are no-one's business but those of the people concerned."

Mosley told the court the story had devastated his wife and was undignified and humiliating for his children.

"Our press is less free today after another judgement based on privacy laws emanating from Europe," News of the World editor Colin Myler said, according to the BBC."(Mosley) had an obligation to honour the standards which its vast membership had every right to expect of him."

The judge, however, disagreed.

"Taking part in depraved and brutal S&M orgies on a regular basis does not, in our opinion, constitute the fit and proper behaviour to be expected of someone in his hugely influential position," he said.

Read the full BBC coverage here. 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, July 23, 2008

Raikkonen says he’s not quitting

World champion Kimi Raikkonen says he has no plans to quit Ferrari early, saying he intends to see out his current contract.

Citing waning interest in the face of recent struggles which have seen him drop to third on the drivers championship table, the latest round of silly season rumors have the Finn quitting the Scuderia at the end of the current campaign.

Sky Sports reports Raikkonen told Spanish newspaper El Mundo, however, he has no intention of leaving Ferrari before his current contract runs out after the 2009 season.

After that is anyone’s guess.

“I'm not in a hurry to decide what I am going to do in the future,” Raikkonen reportedly told the Spanish daily. “I have a year left on my contract that I want to fulfil. Later, in 2010, I do not know if I will be in F1. We will see.”

“It is not an easy decision,” he continued. “I have to evaluate many things, and I am not going to give any explanation to anybody. I will make my decision when I am ready. Ferrari are not pushing me on this.”

Slick Vettel quick again

For the second straight day, Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel topped the charts at Jerez.

Vettel, set to make the leap to sister squad Red Bull in 2009, set a time of 1:18.843 in the afternoon as STR tested a 2009-spec, slick-shod car.

“I spent the whole time on the 2009 spec slick tyres and the biggest difference you notice is in the slow corners, where you feel more mechanical grip,” he said. “However, the low downforce configuration in line with next year’s rules means you have a lack of aero which you feel on the high speed sections, but it is balanced out by more grip from the tyres. We tried two types of tyre and it was an interesting experiment, from which we got loads of data to study.”

McLaren’s Pedro de la Rosa was second, and Kimi Rakkonen third in the Ferrari.

Reflecting the shift in priorities in the second half of the season, many teams ran some combination of 2009 aero packages and slick rubber.

One exception was Toyota, which focused on setup for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

“After yesterday’s preparations for 2009, today we went back to this year’s work. Our focus for the day was the Hungarian Grand Prix, looking at set–up this morning because the afternoons here are too windy and too hot for that,” Trulli said.

And Force India took the opportunity to test a seamless-shift gearbox.

The four day test wraps up Friday.

  1. Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:18.843
  2. De la Rosa, McLaren, 1:19.061
  3. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:19.446
  4. Rosberg, Williams, 1:19.861
  5. Webber, Red Bull, 1:20.021
  6. Wurz, Honda, 1:20.416
  7. Trulli, Toyota, 1:20.534
  8. Liuzzi, Force India, 1:20.577
  9. Piquet, Renault, 1:20.827
  10. Klien, BMW, 1:20.850
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, July 22, 2008

Honda gunning for Alonso?

Honda reportedly has offered a “name-your-price” offer for the services of Fernando Alonso.

The Telegraph reports Ross Brawn and Nick Fry made the offer in hopes of paring the double world champion up alongside Jenson Button from 2009.

Many believe Ferrari have secured Alonso’s services for 2010, but the newspaper reports Honda are not looking at a temporary solution, but rather are trying to convince the Spaniard the Japanese team is the better lace to be.

Part of that strategy is the presence of Brawn, a proven winner, combined with the new regulations set to take hold in 2009.

KERS issue hits BMW Sauber

BMW Sauber was forced to call a halt to testing of its Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) when one of its mechanics received a shock today at Jerez.

The mechanic, who was thrown to the ground by the shock from a KERS-equipped car driven by test driver Christian Klien, escaped serious injury, but the team stopped the test when no cause could be found.

This is the second KERS-related incident in the last two weeks. Red Bull was forced to evacuate its factory last week when a battery failure caused a fire scare.

Toyota wants to discuss Glock’s trackside treatment

Toyota has asked for talks with the FIA concerning Timo Glock’s treatment by track marshals following his hard crash at the German Grand Prix.

The Germen, who made hard contact with the pit wall when his rear suspension failed, was unstrapped from his car rather than the normal practice of being removed while in his seat.

Glock was walked away from his car on wobbly legs holding his back.

“We want to talk about how the driver was recovered from the cockpit. However, we do not wish to complain,” Eurosport reports Toyota F1 president John Howett said. “We will look at the video and figure out exactly what happened. The most important thing is that Timo is absolutely okay.”

Glock is expected to return to the cockpit this week at Jerez.

Michelin to supply A1GP

The world cup of motorsport has a new tire supplier -- Michelin.

Grandprix.com reports the French tire maker, late of F1, has signed a three-year deal to begin this season.

Ferrari test drivers Andrea Bertolini, Patrick Friesacher and Marc Gene have been testing the tires on the new Ferrari-powered cars.

Vettel leads first day of Jerez test

Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel continued his good form, leading the first day of a four day test at Jerez.

Vettel set a time of 1:19.844 in the morning to top the charts ahead of McLaren’s Gary Paffett and Ferrari’s Luca Badoer.

Badoer’s time was set in a 2009-spec car on slick tires. Vettel will continue to test tomorrow on slicks.

Nico Hulkenberg, Sebastien Buemi, and Romain Grosjean also joined the F1 regulars today.

The only red flag of the day came courtesy of Hulkenberg, who stopped on the circuit in the afternoon.

  1. Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:19.844
  2. Paffett, McLaren, 1:20.179
  3. Badoer, Ferrari, 1:20.697
  4. Hulkenberg, Williams, 1:20.953
  5. Buemi, Red Bull, 1:20.997
  6. Grosjean, Renault, 1:21.223
  7. Trulli, Toyota, 1:21.459
  8. Wurz, Honda, 1:21.596
  9. Klien, BMW, no time
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Monday, July 21, 2008

Ferrari in crisis?

None other than Luca di Montezemolo weighed in on Ferrari’s performance last weekend at Hockenheim.

The Ferrari chieftain, who blasted the team’s “stupid mistakes” at Silverstone, personally met with Ferrari engineers Monday to analyze Sunday’s race. Montezemolo said he wanted to be present “at a very important time from a technical standpoint,” La Gazzetta dello Sport reports.

Most concerning was the drop in performance from Friday to Sunday. Felipe Massa finished third and Kimi Raikkonen sixth last weekend.

“Let's forget about labels, because we need to figure out why we were so slow in Germany, slower than ever before this season,” the Ferrari boss said, according to the Italian sports daily.

Following the meeting, Montezemolo said the team has recovered from worse before, and he is confident it can do so again.

Ferrari still lead the constructors championship with 105 points.

But it must be worrying, especially when you consider the number of points the Scuderia left on the table in the first half of the season.

McLaren truly looks like it took a big step forward in recent weeks, and the Prancing Horse must respond quickly if it is to maintain its lead in the championship.

“As usual, we know the McLarens were faster on a lap basis, but this is offset by our reliability and our pace in the race,” La Gazzetta dello Sport reports race director Stefano Domenicali said. “Unfortunately, we saw this was not true yesterday, but we are determined to respond.”

Bourdais on the good and bad of Vettel’s promotion

For Toro Rosso’s Sebatatien Bourdais, his teammate’s promotion to Red Bull is a positive and a negative.

“It's mostly a good thing for me because the team will probably not want to change both its drivers at once,” Bourdais told AFP, “If they keep me because they don't want to change their two drivers at the same time, that's not very exciting either.”

Bourdais has struggled since Toro Rosso introduced it’s new car for the Monaco Grand Prix, while Vettel has excelled, consistently picking up points.

While 2009 is still up in the air, the four-time Champ Car title winner remains focused on the season at hand.

“I'm not questioning myself in regards to next year,” Bourdais said.

The Frenchman finished 12th in last weekend’s German Grand Prix.

Duno takes the fight to Danica

See IndyCar’s Milka Duno do what so many must have wanted to do when Danica Patrick got in their faces...

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hamilton takes commanding victory

Every time you think you have seen the best drive Lewis Hamilton has to offer, he pulls another rabbit out of his hat.

Two weeks ago it was a brilliant drive in the wet at Silverstone.

This time around, after the safety car appeared to rubbish his strategy, the Briton dispatched rival Felipe Massa and Nelson Piquet with relative ease to take a stunning victory in the German Grand Prix and take the lead in the drivers championship.

A big way to kick off the second half of the season, even if it didn’t exactly go as he would have scripted.

“I didn’t plan on doing that. I would have much preferred an easy comfortable afternoon out in front. But it didn’t work that way,” Hamilton said. “We had got off to a really good start. We had two very comfortable, two very decent stints and the team opted for me to stay out.”

Hamilton led from the start, beating Massa into turn one, and he quickly started building up a lead while Massa concentrated on keeping Kovalainen behind him.

“In the race in the first stint he was just half-a-second per lap quicker and when it is like that you cannot do anything,” Massa said.

As Hamilton continued to build his lead, some of the most interesting driving was happening behind Jarno Trulli. On the first lap, Robert Kubica moved up into fourth, taking advantage of a dice between Fernando Alonso and the Italian. Kimi Raikkonen would benefit similarly on lap four, picking off sixth from Alonso, while Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber ran close behind.

Biggest loser at the start was David Coulthard, who dropped five places to 15th by then end of the first lap. The Scot began working to regain position, first taking Nico Rosberg on lap three, and getting Jenson Button’s Honda a few laps later.

Things began to settle into a comfortable pace as Hamilton looked to be in firm control of the race. Surprisingly, the McLaren was the first to make a pit stop, coming in on lap 18. Kubica also came in. Massa took the lead, which he held until making his own stop on lap 20.

Teammate Raikkonen came in on lap 23, rejoining in fourth.

By now, it was obvious Timo Glock, Rubens Barrichello and Nelson Piquet were playing around with their strategies a bit. Glock was the first to finally come in on lap 30, rejoining in seventh behind teammate Trulli, followed by Barrichello on lap 32.

Last would be Piquet on lap 36, and the timing would prove fortuitous, as just as Piquet was emerging Glock suffered a rear suspension failure that saw him shoot across the track, sliding back first into the pit wall, the sliding back across the track again before coming to rest in the grass.

The safety car deployed, but Piquet was out before the pitlane closed, so he would suffer no penalty. As Glock was walked away from the remnants of his Toyota, the field anxiously waited for the pit lane to reopen.

When it did, the majority of the frontrunners came in for their second stops, with the notable exception of Hamilton, who remained in the lead. The biggest beneficiary was Piquet, who suddenly found himself in second place after starting from 17th on the grid.

“I thought that had finished my weekend but obviously with these safety car rules you can get quite lucky. The team did a good decision by calling me in at the right time,” Piquet said. “Obviously before the race we had a bit of a gamble between one and two stops. We had an option open for when we started the race. I think that was the perfect strategy.”

As the suddenly crowded pit lane began to empty (Alonso and Vettel coming out side by side), Mark Webber emerged with smoke belching out of the back of his Red Bull. The Australian remained behind the safety car two more laps before throwing in the towel.

The safety car came in on lap 42, and Hamilton led the restart over Nick Heidfeld. He would now need to build a significant lead over Massa if he was going to come out of his second stop ahead of his rival.

“I guess they thought I could pull out a gap but it was a 23 second gap I needed and I only had seven laps or something, so I don’t know how that worked out. I kind of understood and I just kept pushing,” Hamilton said.

As Hamilton worked on building up his lead, Raikkonen sprang to life, picking off first Alonso, then Vettel, and then Trulli.

By lap 50, Hamilton was forced to make his stop, short of his goal. When he rejoined behind teammate Kovalainen in P5, it looked like a win was out of reach.

And when Heidfeld pitted four laps later, it was Nelson Piquet who suddenly found himself leading the German Grand Prix.

But Hamilton was on the move, making quick work of Kovalainen as the Finn appeared to suffer from that sort of mechanical issue which requires you to pull to one side and slow down just briefly.

“I have to say a big thank you to Heikki, he was a great teammate. He didn’t put up a huge fight and saw that I was quicker and enabled me to get past quicker. And so a big thank you to him,” Hamilton said.

Next up for Hamilton would be Massa, and that one wouldn’t be quite as easy.

The Briton found his opportunity on lap 57 at the hairpin, sweeping Massa into the runoff area to get past.

“With Felipe I saw that I was a lot quicker than him. I was told I was a second quicker than him at the time, so I just tried to keep up the pace. Obviously I was on the early few laps with my tyres and I knew I only had a small window to get past him before they began to grain and before they would slide around,” Hamilton explained. “I had to push to get as close to him as possible but the great thing about this track is that you can follow other people. Or so I found. So I was able to get quite close through the last two corners, follow him all the way down to turn two and slipstream him.”

Massa would try to battle back a couple of turns later, but this time was swept into the dirt by the McLaren.

“Again towards the end of the straight he sort of matched my speed and I found it difficult to get past, so I just had to do it on the brakes. He gave me plenty of room. I think it was quite a good battle. It was fun,” he continued.

Now the question was, could Hamilton get Piquet?

The answer was yes, as Hamilton quickly closed the gap and dusted off the young Renault driver, once again at the hairpin, taking the victory at Hockenheim.

Piquet would consolidate to finish second, his first F1 podium.

“When I was leading the race I knew Lewis was coming by quick and I knew Felipe wasn’t that much quicker than me, so I decided not to make it such a big fuss with Lewis,” Piquet said. “And he was so much quicker than us. If I would have fought it would have been a risk for maybe Felipe to arrive and he could have overtaken me. I just decided to have a safe second place than to have a third or fourth place and not be too happy.”

Massa would finish third in the Ferrari. It was the first time two Brazilians had been on the podium since 1991 at Spa, when Nelson Piquet Sr. and Ayrton Senna did it. Massa had kind words for his fellow countryman.

“I welcome Nelson. It is very nice. I am sure he is feeling a great time. The feeling to be on the podium the first time I remember,” Massa said. “It was two years ago at the Nürburgring and I was so happy, like a child, I am sure he is very happy and I welcome him to this nice place in F1.”

Nick Heidfeld hung on to fourth in the lead BMW Sauber, followed by Kovalainen in the second McLaren.

Raikkonen finished sixth, getting by Kubica in the closing laps to earn the extra point for Ferrari in the constructor’s championship. Kubica wound up seventh, and Sebastian Vettel led all in the Red Bull stable, taking the final points paying position.

The win puts Hamilton at the top of the drivers championship table at 58 points, a four point edge on Massa. Ferrari continues to lead the constructors, breaking the 100 point mark with 105. Second place BMW Sauber leads McLaren-Mercedes 89-86.

The circus heads next to Hungary in two weeks time.

“We are really on top of our game right now. But I think we have not to get too far ahead of ourselves,” Hamilton said. “We have got a lot of work to do for the rest of the season but if we can continue with this momentum we have got we are looking very good. So on to the next race and Hungary is a very good one for us, so fingers crossed.”
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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Kovalainen fined, but no grid penalty

Stewards fined Heikki Kovalainen 5,000 euros after it was found his car was improperly refueled during qualifying.

“Car 23 was refueled during Q2 using equipment that was not an FIA-approved race refueling system, and therefore the engine should have been stopped during the refueling process,” ITV reports the stewards said in their statement.

Kovalainen's fine is purely monatary in nature, the Finn's grid position will not be penalized. 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


Hamilton on pole in Germany

A flyer in the closing moments of qualifying delivered Lewis Hamilton the pole at Hockenheim, edging Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.

"I knew that we had the pace. My lap was really smooth. It was pretty easy going," Hamilton said. "I was quite comfortable we could have gone a little bit quicker if we needed to. I felt quite cool."

For Massa, it was business as usual, the Brazilian shying away from saying his performance was redemption for the British Grand Prix.

"I just had a very bad weekend at Silverstone, not just the race the whole weekend was very bad for me," he said. "What we saw today here was not the recovery. It was just what we are able to do. That’s our target, to be competitive and we are so it’s just normal."

Hamilton’s McLaren teammate Heikki Kovalainen, the fastest man in Saturday’s morning practice session, will start third. Jarno Trulli will start next to him in his well-qualified Toyota.

"For myself, in qualifying the car felt the best it’s felt all weekend so far. Going into Q3 I was very confident that I could be challenging for pole position but then arriving in turn 12 in my first lap in Q3 I just lost the rear end and went wide," Kovalainen said. "I don’t know what happened there, it just suddenly turned in. But I think I maybe just tried to go too deep into the corner. I think I damaged the bottom of the car a little bit on the right hand side."

Fernando Alonso continued to show good qualifying pace in the Renault, and will start fifth. It will be interesting to see if he can keep that pace Sunday.

Kimi Raikkonen must be a bit disappointed to be starting sixth, and will need a blistering start to keep up with his teammate and the McLarens.

Robert Kubica starts in seventh, ahead of a glut of Red Bull-related drivers – Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and David Coulthard -- rounding out the top 10.

It was a mostly dry circuit that met the drivers as qualifying under way, with a few threatening drops of rain. Times steadily dropped through the first session as drivers traded top honors, but winds made the going tricky.

"You notice that down the back straight. You are trying to hold the steering wheel straight as much as possible but the wind hits you from the left and from the right. You can feel it each time that it is moving the car," Hamilton said. "Then when you get to the stadium, obviously when you come in, it is a bit blocked up by the stadium. As you come in there you have reasonably decent downforce, then at the last corner all of a sudden you get a big gust of wind."

Renault and BMW Sauber were the latecomers, waiting until half the session had passed before emerging from their garages.

Kubica drew particular attention after a morning crash resulted in a broken driveshaft. He would set the fifth best time on his first flyer, but just make the cut (14th) when all was said and done. The Pole said he had difficulty with the Force India cars blocking him.

It was a familiar group who found themselves eliminated at the end of the session – Kazuki Nakajima, Nelson Piquet, Rubens Barrichello, and the Force Indias.

For Piquet, a very disappointing qualifying as the Brazilian had seemed to be turning a corner. A performance made all the worse when compared to Alonso’s. Piquet indicated he felt he was held up by Vettel, but now judgment was made by the stewards.

A tough one for Barrichello, as well, from race podium to qualifying 18th, however, the veteran was quick to point out he won the 2000 race at Hockenheim from the same position on the grid. Realistically, though, it will take rain for an encore performance from the Honda driver.

The field pared down, first on the track for Q2 after the break was Raikkonen, followed by Massa. The McLarens soon joined the fray as Raikkonen, Massa and then Hamilton each posted the best time.

Meanwhile, it was another wait and see session for BMW Sauber, who waited again to almost the midpoint of the session before turning a lap.

By the final two minutes, McLaren and Ferrari knew they were through to the final session, but it was a mad scramble as the rest of the field headed back out onto the track.

Coulthard and Vettel used strong runs to put themselves in the top 10. But mistakes by Sebastien Bourdais and Nick Heidfeld killed their chances of making Q3.

They were joined by Jenson Button, as well as Timo Glock and Nico Rosberg, which left Vettel the only German to make it to the final session.

So in many ways it was the usual suspects in the final shootout, with the McLarens and Ferraris battling it out for the top spot, and it was Massa who set the benchmark, only to be pipped by Hamilton at the end of the session.

"It has been a good day, as you can see I feel pretty chilled and very happy with what we have done,"Hamilton said. "But today is not when you win points, tomorrow is when you win points, so me and Heikki are going to do the best job we can tomorrow to get a one-two."

Possible showers and cooling temps are in the forecast for race day. The action kicks off at 2pm local time Sunday. For U.S. fans, it’s tape delay again – 1pm Eastern on Fox. Lucky us.

The grid:
  1. Hamilton, McLaren
  2. Massa, Ferrari
  3. Kovalainen, McLaren
  4. Trulli, Toyota
  5. Alonso, Renault
  6. Raikkonen, Ferrari
  7. Kubica, BMW Sauber
  8. Webber, Red Bull
  9. Vettel, Toro Rosso
  10. Coulthard, Red Bull
  11. Glock, Toyota
  12. Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
  13. Rosberg, Williams
  14. Button, Honda
  15. Bourdais, Toro Rosso
  16. Nakajima, Williams
  17. Piquet, Renault
  18. Barrichello, Honda
  19. Sutil, Force India
  20. Fisichella, Force India
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Friday, July 18, 2008

Hamilton dominates Friday at Hockenheim

Lewis Hamilton threw down the gauntlet Friday at Hockenheim, dominating both practice sessions for the German Grand Prix.

Despite some morning rain, Hamilton ’s 1:15.537 on an improving circuit. Teammate Heikki Kovalainen 1:15.666 set in the waning seconds of the session made it a McLaren 1-2.

Felipe Massa was the first of the Ferrari’s in third, with Fernando Alonso’s Renault in fourth and Kimi Raikkonen in fifth.

Robert Kubica provided a bit of excitement, putting his BMW Sauber into a tire wall in the stadium section and finishing 19th for the session.

The second session saw the sun emerge, and again it was Hamilton leading the way with a time of 1:15.025.

This time, however it was Massa and Raikkonen in third and fourth, respectively, as Massa traded fast times with Hamilton throughout the session.

Kovalainen was fourth in the second McLaren, with the Red Bull of Mark Webber rounding out the top five.

Further down the grid, Nico Rosberg’s Williams looked solid in both sessions, the German will be hoping this time his pace holds through the weekend, and fellow German Sebastian Vettel was well on the pace of David Coulthard, the man he will replace next year at Red Bull.

Hamilton will be looking to make a statement heading into the second half of the season, fresh off winning his home race and racing in front of the Mercedes crowd at Hockenheim.

Last week’s tests seem to indicate it will again be a battle between Ferrari and McLaren. Raikkonen is on record saying he hopes it will be a hot race -- the Ferrari tends to gain a leg up in hot weather because it is easier on its tires – but with rain in the forecast the Scuderia may have to do without that advantage.

With his difficulties in Canada , France and Great Britain , the Finn will be wanting to get his title defense back on track. Currently in a three-way tie at the top of the drivers championship, he will not only have to contend with Hamilton , but his own teammate, Massa.

Qualifying kicks off at 2 pm local time.

Morning session:
  1. Hamilton, McLaren, 1:15.537
  2. Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:15.666
  3. Massa , Ferrari, 1:15.796
  4. Alonso, Renault, 1:16.163
  5. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:16.327
  6. Rosberg, Williams, 1:16.606
  7. Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:16.618
  8. Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:16.719
  9. Nakajima, Williams, 1:16.821
  10. Piquet, Renault, 1:17.063
  11. Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:17.108
  12. Button, Honda, 1:17.131
  13. Glock, Toyota , 1:17.185
  14. Webber, Red Bull, 1:17.268
  15. Fisichella, Force India , 1:17.47
  16. Barrichello, Honda, 1:17.500
  17. Trulli, Toyota , 1:17.556
  18. Sutil, Force India , 1:17.784
  19. Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:18.779
  20. Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:21.506
Afternoon session
  1. Hamilton, McLaren. 1:15.025
  2. Massa , Ferrari, 1:15.722
  3. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:15.760
  4. Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:15.990
  5. Webber, Red Bull, 1:16.017
  6. Alonso, Renault 1:16.230
  7. Rosberg, Williams, 1:16.355
  8. Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:16.363
  9. Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:16.377
  10. Coulthard, Red Bull,1:16.378
  11. Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:16.422
  12. Trulli, Toyota , 1:16.530
  13. Button, Honda, 1:16.542
  14. Barrichello, Honda, 1:16.677
  15. Piquet, Renault, 1:16.734
  16. Glock, Toyota , 1:16.781
  17. Nakajima, Williams, 1:16.829
  18. Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:16.860
  19. Sutil, Force India , 1:17.008
  20. Fisichella, Force India , 1:17.047
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Thursday, July 17, 2008

It’s official: Vettel to Red Bull for ’09

Red Bull officially announced today German Sebastian Vettel will partner Mark Webber next season.

In a move that surprised virtually no one, the 21-year-old Toro Rosso driver will replace the retiring David Coulthard.

“We are delighted that Sebastian will be joining us next year,” team boss Christian Horner said. “As he was already part of the Red Bull family, choosing Sebastian as Mark Webber’s team-mate was not a difficult decision. However, we have always stated that our aim is to have the strongest available driver line-up and Vettel’s selection also matches these criteria.”
Vettel debuted in 2007 for BMW Sauber at Indianapolis, subbing for the injured Robert Kubica, qualifying seventh and finishing eighth.

A month later he replaced Scott Speed at Toro Rosso. His best finish was fourth in China.

“Having only turned 21 at the last race and with only 17 Grand Prix starts to his name, he is still on a learning curve, but it is clear that he has plenty of ability and speed,” Horner said. “We are confident that Red Bull Racing will make the most of these attributes and believe that, in Mark and Sebastian, we have a very competitive driver line-up for 2009.”
While potential replacements for Coulthard included drivers like Fernando Alonso, it was widely expected Red Bull would look to within and their promising young star.

“I have been part of the Red Bull family for a long time, with its Junior Team since 2000,” Vettel said. “Throughout my career, they have offered me great support and now, to drive for their senior F1 team is a dream come true and I am looking forward to having a great season next year, even if I still have a lot to learn about F1.”
Rosberg rumors

Even though he is contracted with Williams through 2009, rumors continue to surround the future of Nico Rosberg.

The latest gossip sees Rosberg moving to McLaren next season to replace Heikki Kovalainen, who has “failed to impress.”

“I have a contract for 2009,” Crash.net reports he told Sport Bild. “It's like in football. Look at the situation of (Germany football player Lukas) Podolski. He has a contract for next season at FC Bayern - but will he be there?”
The German, who had been on McLaren’s short list last year, added he would not consider such a move unless Frank Williams released him from his contract.

Two Schus drop

Michael Schumacher insists he is happily retired, and has no plans to make a comeback.

The seven-time world champion made news earlier in the week by saying he had retired to save Felipe Massa’s place with Ferrari.

The inevitable result, Schumacher has had to move to dampen rumors he is planning a return to F1.

“I really love my new life,” Crash.net reports he old German magazine Stern. “It is the sort of freedom that I have always wanted. I am not having any sort of secret thoughts about a F1 comeback. It is nice to feel that I could still do it if I wanted to, but now I would rather do my work in the background.”
Meanwhile, brother Ralf has weighed in on the current driver situation at Ferrari, saying the Scuderia should name a number one.

Massa and Kimi Raikkonen are tied at the top of the drivers championship table with McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton at the mid point of the season.

“Gradually now Ferrari has to commit itself to a number one,” Crash.net reports he told German newspaper Bild.
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Take a lap of Hockenheim

Video via SpeedTV.com

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Schumacher quit to save Massa’s job

Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher says he quit Formula One because he was worried Felipe Massa would lose his seat after the team hired Kimi Raikkonen.

“I stopped because I didn't want my friend Felipe Massa to be unemployed," Fox reports Schumacher told Swiss newspaper Blick.

The German goes on to say he did not quit out of fear of the Finn.

"I would have had no problem going up against Kimi Raikkonen."

Mallya’s “heart, soul and money” going into 2009

Vijay Mallya’s Force India squad has found it difficult so far this season, the Indian team the only one currently on the grid without a point, but the piranha club’s newest owner knows success in F1 doesn’t happen overnight.

“Of course, we need to now show better and get better results, but it has only been six months since we took over, so what can you expect?,” Mallya is quoted by the AFP news service. “Our real focus is on 2009, and I'm absolutely determined that in 2009, we'll have some reason to be proud. Trust me, I'm putting my heart, soul, money and a lot more into 2009, and I intend to be right there.”

“The way we look at it, India hasn't qualified for the Olympic Games hockey, and in football we didn't qualify for the World Cup,” he continued. “Here we have an Indian team that's actually racing in the World Championship. That itself is an honour, to fly the Indian standard at one of the top flight levels of the sport.”

Glock: Trulli underestimated

Toyota’s Timo Glock rates his teammmate, telling German magazine Auto Motor und Sport:

Jarno is underestimated. His former team-mates have told me that as well.”

The 34-year-old Italian has had the better of Glock this season, who made his debut in 2004 for Jordan as a replacement for Giorgio Pantano.

Glock returned to F1 after a year in Champ Car and two in GP2, winning the 2007 GP2 championship.

Fisi not ready to hang it up

Despite driving with the struggling Force India squad this season, Giancarlo Fisichella says he has no intention of quitting.

“I am enjoying myself and love this sport,” Eurosport reports Fisichella said. “Next year I will still be here, and only after that will I think about my future, with this team or with another team; I don't know yet.”

Fisichella has a two-year deal with Force India.

Theissen mum on ’09 lineup

Mario Theissen remains firm the team will not announce it’s 2009 driver lineup until at least August in an interview with Auto Motor und Sport.

It is a given BMW Sauber will want to retain the on-form Robert Kubica, but speculation has surrounded Nick Heidfeld, who at times has struggled.

When asked, Theissen told Auto Motor und Sport:

“A team that wants to play a role in the world championship needs two strong drivers. However, even the best driver is not a robot. He can only deliver maximum results if the equipment, the environment and everything else is right. At Silverstone Nick gave a convincing performance; strong in qualifying, fast in the race, with spectacular overtaking manoeuvres and very good vehicle control in very difficult conditions. For me this is the fruitful result of the past weeks of intensive work. I am convinced that, in the second half of the season, we will see a strong Nick Heidfeld.”
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Monday, July 14, 2008


The court heard final speeches today, day 3,246,923 in the Max Mosley privacy case.

Mark Warby, representing News of the World, said witnesses for Mosley have tried to make things out as “nothing more than hanky-spanky,” the BBC reports.

Warby argued there was no case for damages as the newspaper was reporting a legitimate story.

Mosley’s lawyer, in turn, argued the paper rushed to print a “scandalous” story and that compensation should be greater than a defamation award because Mosley has to live with the invasion of his privacy for the rest of his life.

The judge’s decision is expected next week.

Read the BBC’s full coverage here.

DC on retirement and the future

David Coulthard used his weekly ITV column to discuss his decision to retire and who might replace him at Red Bull.

Coulthard said he made the decision at the Canadian Grand Prix, prior to his podium finish, but wanted to wait to announce his decision at his home race in part to discuss his future with the team with Dietrich Mateschitz.

DC went into some depth about his new role as a consultant, which will allow him to use his extensive driving experience to help Red Bull in set-up and development.

He also said he hasn’t ruled out other racing opportunities in the future.

Finally, he delved into who may be in line to replace him at Red Bull, tipping Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel.

Read the full column here.

How F1 drivers spend a weekend off

Nico Rosberg took two laps on a temporary circuit next to Red Square and the Kremlin in front of a capacity crowd as Williams and Red Bull participated in an event called “Moscow City Racing” Sunday.

Russian Mikhail Alyoshin was at the wheel of the Red Bull.

“I’m in the privileged position to be a part of many big events, but this really rates as one of the most amazing. What a city, and driving around the Kremlin and through Red Square was just awesome,” Rosberg said on the team’s official Web site. “To take Formula One out of its natural environment and show what we do to a completely new audience is great and this experience is certainly one I’ll never forget. The attention we received from the media and the spectators was just incredible, massive!”

Meanwhile, Both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button took advantage of a non-race weekend to take part in this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The weekend also saw a celebration of 50 years of BTCC and a celebration of rally driver Colin McRae’s life.

Brawn focused on car, not drivers

Honda’s Ross Brawn said he is focused on building a competitive challenger for 2009, not signing a top-line driver.

The team principal had previously expressed interest in Fernando Alonso, but now says he is happy with the team’s drivers.

“We are in discussions, and it will evolve during the summer. Our priority is clearly to get a better car for next year. So things are moving along but there is no desperate rush,” Brawn told Autosport.com. “I think we have got two very good drivers, so he first thing we have got to do is get a decent car. When we get a good car that will give our drivers the opportunity to show what they can do, and we can take stock then. I don't think the drivers are the problem.”

Hamilton ‘sad and disappointed' over breakdown with Alonso

Crash.net reports Lewis Hamilton told German newspaper Handelsblatt he was “sad and disappointed” his relationship with former teammate Fernando Alonso did not improve following the famous blocking incident last year in Hungary.

Hamilton said the two met in an Istanbul hotel room to clear the air, but to no avail, with Alonso leaving the team at the end of the year.

The Briton defended his treatment of the double world champion.

“If you go into your first season and are against the world champion, that is a privilege,” Hamilton reportedly said. “I admire what Fernando achieved, but the first person you always have to beat is your team-mate – that was my goal. Naturally I followed Formula 1 closely [beforehand] and saw how well he drove. It showed me how to behave and how to become more professional. It would be great if, in the future, someone is in the same position and looks at me and thinks, ‘that is how to be world champion'.”

No shark fins for McLaren, Toyota at Hockenheim

Autosport.com reports both McLaren and Toyota have ruled out using the “shark fin” this weekend at the German Grand Prix.

McLaren has not ruled out using it in the future, after further testing, the Web site reports, with driver Heikki Kovalainen hinting the team may fear crosswinds at Hockenheim.

Bernoldi on way out of IndyCar?

Autoweek reports former Formula One driver Enrique Bernoldi nearly quit Conquest Racing following the July 6 race at Watkins Glen.

Bernoldi has been unhappy with the team’s struggles as it tries to adjust to the series from Champ Car, and it came to a head when his race at the Glen came to an end after contact with rookie teammate Jaime Camara which saw the Brazilian’s car get airborn, hitting the ground at 58 gs.

Team owner Eric Bachelart took issue with Bernoldi’s reaction, which apparently included the former F1 driver packing his bags before being talked into reconsidering by his manager.

Sources report Bachelart may be considering replacing the Brazilian with Canadian Alex Tagliani.

Bernoldi is currently 20th in the standings this 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


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sato hasn't given up on F1

Takuma Sato’s 2008 campaign came to a sudden end after the Spanish Grand Prix, but by no means is the Japanese driver ready to call it quits on his F1 career.

Sato said he is prepared to wait it out until 2009, if necessary, to find a race seat. He would also consider a testing role if a race seat was a possibility in the future.

Because he remains focussed on F1, Sato said he ruled out interest from the United States in both the open-wheel and sportscar categories.

Sato also revealed there have been talks with teams, but he is not at liberty to discuss them, of course.

In the full interview with Autosport.com, Sato discusses the shock of Super Aguri’s collapse, how it feels to not be racing, and not giving up on Formula One unless there is no chance of finding a ride. Read it here.

The blog roundup

A heads up on what’s making news on some of my favorite blogs:

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, July 12, 2008

Bourdais “has to find the accelerator pedal”

Sebastien Bourdais may need to find some speed if he hopes to keep his seat with Toro Rosso.

The Frenchman, who dominated Champ Car before finally getting his crack at F1, has struggled since the squad introduced its 2008 challenger ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.

“He has a problem with the nervous rear when he's turning in,” F1-Live reports Team Principal Franz Tost told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport. “Simply he has to find the accelerator pedal.”

More details emerge on F2

The FIA has released more information on the planned F2 series, a low-cost feeder series announced last month, opening the bidding process for a single manufacturer and announcing the inaugural schedule.

The series, which looks to be in direct competition with Bernie Ecclestone’s GP2, aims to limit race budgets to €200,000 per car per season. The series will be comprised of 10 two-day race weekends.

Gene tests A1GP car

Ferrari test driver Marc Gene tested the new A1GP car, based on the widely successful F2004.

“It's an interesting car and I had a lot of fun,” Gene told The Guardian. “It's not an F1 car but it's not intended to be one. It will produce exciting racing, allows overtaking, and is an extreme drive.”

The Guardian reports the car has nearly half a season's mileage under its belt with mainly Andrea Bertolini and Patrick Friesacher behind the wheel.

The new A1GP season begins September 21 at Mugello.


The next time someone complains to you about the “lack of passing” in Formula One, you remind them it’s all about quality, not quantity.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Alonso rates The Stig

Top Gear’s tame racing driver recently was bought in a charity auction for Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital by a man who'd won £5million in the lottery.

What did the £35,000 bid buy? Three laps of Silverstone in a two-seat Santander grand prix car driven by The Stig himself prior to the British Grand Prix.

The winner got what he paid for and more, as Top Gear reports The Stig hit 178mph on a wet track in a car without driver aids, even saving it when the back stepped out.

One man who noticed was double world champion Fernando Alonso.

“Whoever's in that car is a seriously good driver,” Top Gear’s Web site reports Alonso said. “I've no idea who he is, but he's definitely ex-F1”

VW rules out F1 again

Volkswagen has once again gone on the record, motor racing representative Hans-Joachim Stuck saying Formula One is not in the cards in the near future.

“For a global automobile company such as Volkswagen, Formula One is always a topic,” Stuck is quoted as saying by German newspaper Vorarlberger Nachrichten. “An entry within the next three years is however not realistic. There are still uncertainties in the regulations - (like) the engine freeze.”

Ferrari, McLaren reach ‘spygate’ settlement

McLaren has agreed to pay Ferrari’s ‘spygate’-related legal costs as the teams agree to put their 2007 differences behind them.

McLaren called it a “concluding payment.”

“In light of the formal closure in December 2007 of the FIA and FIA World Motor Sport Council proceedings against McLaren, and of McLaren's public apology to Ferrari which we have reiterated, Ferrari and McLaren have agreed to bring the various disputes between them in relation to this matter to a final conclusion. McLaren has also agreed to the reimbursement of Ferrari's costs and expenses relating to these matters and a concluding payment.”

- McLaren statement

Ferrari said it has dropped all legal action against McLaren after accepting the teams apology, and will donate the money to charity.

Not so lucky is Nigel Stepney, Fox Sports reports Ferrari will continue actions against its former employee.

“Ferrari acknowledges McLaren's reiterated apology for the well-known events which occurred during the 2007 F1 Championship. In the best interests of Formula 1 and taking into account the formal closure in December 2007 of the FIA and FIA World Motor Sport Council proceedings against McLaren, it confirms that it has accepted to put an end to all outstanding controversies between the two teams. Ferrari will donate to charity the concluding payment received from McLaren. Ferrari will pursue its claims against Nigel Stepney in connection with the matter.”

- Ferrari statement
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