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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Rumor has Coulthard out before season’s end

Whispers around the paddock have Red Bull’s retiring David Coulthard making way for Sebastian Vettel before season’s end, SpeedTV.com reports.

Vettel is set to move from STR to the parent squad next season. With the Faenza-based outfit testing Sato and Buemi this month, and Senna also in the fold, some are suggesting it would allow both teams to work with their new drivers this season.

At first glance, it would seem far-fetched, however, RBR is desperately trying to nail down at least fifth in the championship, even more likely it wants to take a crack at fourth.

If the team thinks Vettel will score more points than Coulthard over the stretch run, sentimentality aside, making a change now makes sense. With two drivers consistently scoring points, Renault, dependent mainly on Fernando Alonso, are within reach. Toyota would still be a long shot, but possible.

Obviously, STR would be hard pressed to give up Vettel, who has been consistently scoring points. Once again, it becomes a matter of what the relationship is between the two teams. And, best guess, Toro Rosso will be well compensated.

Franchitti back to IndyCar

Good news for Ashley Judd fans, Dario Franchitti’s NASCAR experiment is over. The 2007 IndyCar champion and Indy 500 winner will return to the series in 2009, driving for Chip Ganassi.

“Part of the reason that I signed with Ganassi last year was because of how many options that Chip has at his disposal for a driver. You can do almost any form of racing that you want,” Franchitti said. “With unification and the new schedule having more road and street courses it made me think about this more and more. I have really enjoyed this last season in stockcars and have not completely closed that chapter of my professional career but the opportunity that arose was just something I could not pass up.”

Franchitti’s seat comes at the expense of Dan Wheldon's. Wheldon’s place in the team had been in question since it was revealed earlier in the year Ganassi had tried to sign away Andretti Green Racing’s Tony Kanaan.

“I have enjoyed these last three seasons with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, but will be moving on to pursue a very exciting opportunity for 2009,” Autoweek.com reports Wheldon said in a statement. “I will be announcing my plans for next season in the near future. In the meantime, I want to focus my efforts on winning the last race of the season. I wish the team well for 2009 and beyond.”

Franchitti, who left Andretti Green Racing after winning the 2007 IRL championship, made 10 starts for Ganassi’s NASCAR team this season before it was shut down for lack of sponsorship.

“It is going to be very exciting to have Dario in one of our IndyCars next year,” Ganassi said. “I have always admired his competitive spirit when he raced against us and have really grown to see more of what he is about this season while he raced in NASCAR. When there was a possibility of an opening on our IndyCar team, the only person I thought about was Dario. This is going to be a great move for Dario and for our team.”

His teammate will be 2008 points leader Scott Dixon, who ran out of fuel on the last lap of the last race of the 2007 at Chicagoland Speedway, handing Franchitti the championship.

Senna says he’s yet to sign F1 deal

GP2 title challenger Bruno Senna claims despite the rumors, he does not have a contract in his pocket to drive F1 next season.

Believed to be a favorite of Gerhard Berger, the nephew of the late Ayrton Senna is thought to be under consideration for a Toro Rosso seat, although the team is also testing Takuma Sato and Sebastien Buemi.

“I have of course been listening recently to all the whispering, according to which I've supposedly already signed up for Formula 1 next year, with Toro Rosso, or as test driver for BMW-Sauber,” ITV reports he wrote in his column for German Web site Motorsport Magazin. “All I can say to that is there's no truth in it; up to now nothing has been signed. At the moment we are holding serious talks with different people from different teams, but nothing is decided yet.”

Acknowledging he is still waiting to see how the 2009 F1 lineup shakes out, Senna wrote that he would rather race than test next season.

“We have to think about every single aspect of the decision, looking not just at the 2009 season, but also the bigger picture,” he said. “What holds true is that fundamentally I would rather be in a cockpit than have a year as a test driver with no race practice.”
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

DC wouldn't be the first retiring driver to miss the last fly-away races of the season. Although I hope he sees it through. He's still a good driver and I like watching his race craft.

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