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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Super Aguri in a holding pattern

Super Aguri’s future remains up in the air as talks of financial support have been inconclusive, according to Reuters.

Interestingly, Reuters also reports a witness claiming the Super Aguri cars returned to the factory, rather than the standard practice of being shipped directly to Istanbul. This would seem to indicate unless a deal is struck, the team will not participate in Turkey.

Reuters could not get confirmation from either Super Aguri or Honda regarding the witness' claim.

A1 GP head drops plans for F1 team

A1 GP chairman Tony Teixeira scuttled plans to buy an F1 team after the series ruled against “customer” cars.

Reuters reports Teixeira had entertained the possibility of purchasing a Formula One team to provide race seats for A1 GP series winners.

Texeira said he was in discussions with Spyker before moving aside when it became apparent Bernie Ecclestone coveted Indian involvement in F1.

He more recently considered Toro Rosso.

A1 GP cars will be powered by Ferrari next year. Both Spyker and Toro Rosso use Ferrari power. Texeira had hopes of running as a Ferrari “B” team.

But without the ability to use customer cars, Texeira called investing in F1 “madness.” 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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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Life line for Super Aguri?

Weigl Group, a German automotive company, is set to make a last minute bid to save Super Aguri, according to autosport.com

The Web site reports Weigl chief Franz Josef Weigl held talks with the team last weekend at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Autosport.com’s sources say Weigl’s investment would be enough to carry the team through the season, allowing owner Aguri Suzuki to seek a long term solution.

Suzuki is supposed to have flown to Japan to meet with the board and urge Honda to accept the offer.

Ralf was never a serious consideration

Vijay Mallya said Tuesday that Ralf Schumacher was never in the running for a Force India race seat.

In an interview with Auto Motor und Sport, the Force India chief said the real competitors to Giancarlo Fisichella were Tonio Liuzzi, Christian Klien and Franck Montagny.

Mallya said Ralf’s participation in the winter test was simply an evaluation of the Force India car as a favor for “a good friend.”

The two met while Mallya’s Kingfisher company was a Toyota sponsor. 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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Monday, April 28, 2008

Kovalainen released

Heikki Kovalainen has a stiff neck and a slight headache, Reuters reports, as the Finn was cleared to leave the hospital following his horrific shunt in yesterday’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Kovalainen said his focus was getting better as soon as possible so that he could pass the required FIA medical inspection which will allow him to race in Istanbul in two weeks time.

The McLaren driver said he could not remember anything about the accident, caused by what the team described as a wheel rim failure.

Kovalainen will remain in Spain for the next few days for relaxation and light training.

FIA faces breakaway threat

According to the Sunday Times, a group of motoring bodies, led by the American Automobile Association (AAA), are threatening to split from the FIA if Max Mosley survives his vote of confidence June 3.

AAA repeated its call for the embattled FIA head to step down as the best course of action to preserve the integrity of the organization.

Mosley has insisted he still has significant support within the FIA.

Several sources reported Bernie Ecclestone met with representatives of ten of the F1 teams last weekend in Barcelona concerning Mosley. Ecclestone was supposed to have offered to withdraw support for Mosley if the teams agreed unanimously to sign a letter calling for his resignation, but Ferrari, Williams and Toro Rosso wouldn’t sign.

Ecclestone has dismissed those claims. 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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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Raikkonen wins the Spanish Grand Prix

The last seven pole sitters have won the Spanish Grand Prix. Now you can make that eight, as Kimi Raikkonen stormed to his second victory of the season at the Circuit de Catalunya.

“It was good enough to stay in front. If we had wanted we could have gone a bit faster but there is no point to push it when you don't need to,” Raikkonen said. “I think it was closer than we expected but saying that there were many safety cars, so without them maybe it would have been looking a little bit different. It was a good day - everything was brilliant.”

Teammate Felipe Massa beat hometown favorite Fernando Alonso to the first corner on his way to second place, as Ferrari achieved an optimal 1-2 in Barcelona.

“I started third but I did a very good start and could manage to pass Fernando and that's it. I had a little moment with the safety car and I saw that he was going a little bit longer than me,” Massa said. “That maybe was a little bit of a scare for us but then I managed to build the gap in the second stint in a very good way and it was not a problem to stop one lap before and get in front. We did our homework and brought two Ferrari's in the front - first and second - which is very important for the championship.”

Lewis Hamilton was third. Considering the challenges the weekend provided, Hamilton was happy to come away with six points.

“Obviously when we qualified fifth we knew that it would be very difficult to beat the Ferraris. But the key was to get a good start and make as many places as possible and fortunately I was able to do that,” Hamilton said. “We sort of had a feeling that Fernando would be a bit lighter and that didn't cause us any problems.”

A safety period came into play on the first lap as Sebastien Vettel and Adrian Sutil came together. When the safety car finally came in on lap 3, it quickly became apparent that Alonso’s Renault was on a lighter fuel load. How much was the question.

Behind him, the two McLarens were in pursuit mode, trying to hold on to the Ferraris. And Robert Kubica was also in the mix.

Indeed, Alonso was the first to pit, rejoining in sixth. Raikkonen was in by lap 20, and most of the leaders had finished by lap 22.

Lap 22 was significant because that was when a wheel failure put Heikki Kovalainen into a tire wall on turn 9. The safety car was again deployed as a tension-filled ten minutes went by before the car was extracted and the young Finn was stretchered off, giving the crowd a thumbs-up.

On track, the real loser in the situation was Nick Heidfeld, forced to refuel before the pitlane was open. The ensuing drive-through penalty would finish the German’s race.

Once the pitlane did open, the runners further back in the field who had not pitted dove in. Rubens Barrichello and Giancarlo Fisichella made contact in the pitlane, and Barrichello's Honda emerged with a broken nose He would have to return for a replacement, and would soon retire.

The safety car was back in on lap 28, and we were racing again, Hamilton chasing the Ferraris. Alonso’s short first stint had not paid off, as he fell back to fifth after the first round of stops.

Alonso would not finish his home race, his engine letting go on lap 35. He took the opportunity to mingle with some of the fans before riding back to the pits. It was a tough way for the race to end for the Spaniard, but Renault’s performance certainly must have some folks smiling again back at the factory.

Nico Rosberg soon joined him, his motor letting go on lap 42. Rosberg had been running seventh at the time.

The second round of stops provided suspense, but in the end changed little. Raikkonen maintained the lead followed by his teammate, and Hamilton again led Kubica.

“It is amazing how close all the cars are,” Hamilton remarked. “Even Robert Kubica was extremely close to me and I kept looking in the mirrors at a certain point and he was always in the exact same spot. It is very impressive that all the teams are so close.”

That is how it would stay as Raikkonen won, followed by Massa and Hamilton. The result leaves Raikkonen with a comfortable lead in the drivers championship, and Ferrari a solid lead in the constructors championship.

Raikkonen favors his chances in Turkey (remember to read in a run-on monotone).

“Our car should be quite strong in Turkey. It is a great circuit and I am looking forward to going there and trying to do the best job we can,” he said. “As a team we had a great weekend here and we will try to repeat it in Turkey and hopefully we can do it. Whatever it brings we need points and whatever we get is always a bonus.”

Elsewhere:

A difficult race for Nelson Piquet, off a couple of times early and contact with Sebastian Bourdais on lap eight that would ultimately eliminate both of them from the race.

Another clash for David Coulthard, as Timo Glock ran into the back of him while fighting for position on lap 54. The incident was under investigation, but stewards have chosen to take no action. In fairness to DC, this one wasn’t his fault.

Best news of the day:

Heikki Kovalainen seems to have escaped with only a concussion. What a testament to the safety of the modern F1 car. Here’s hoping he’s back behind the wheel soon. 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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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Qualifying: Spanish Grand Prix

It all came down to the final seconds of qualifying today as half a dozen contenders swapped P1 between them at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Kimi Raikkonen came out on top, swiping pole from the clutches of hometown favorite Fernando Alonso.

The Finn was pleased with the result.

“It is a nice feeling. I have been trying to get it,” said Raikkonen. “It should give us a better chance for tomorrow. It is only qualifying but it is a good place to be.”

Alonso’s Renault was one of the true surprises of the session. Even if he is on a light fuel load, the French squad has gone a long way to proving its performance in testing last week was no fluke.

This was clearly a happier Fernando then we have seen all season.

“It is unbelievable. It's difficult to describe or say anything as the team did a huge effort to improve the car,” Alonso said. “We keep doing work. We started the season with a little bit of disappointment because maybe in the winter we expected to be a bit stronger than we were in the first few races.

“Now is not the time to give up. Now is the time to work even harder after the disappointments,” he continued. “The team made a step here and they have very aggressive plans to come in the coming races, so step-by-step we need to raise our level. That makes me very happy and hopeful of things for the future.”

Felipe Massa took P3. The Brazilian was quick at times, but just couldn’t put it all together when it counted.

“No, I just couldn't put a lap together on the last try. On the first try I put a lap together but it's not there to be honest,” Massa said. “In competition like today, in all the sessions we saw that if you lose a tenth you can lose one or two positions. I put a lap together at the wrong moment but we have a good car.”

Robert Kubica will start next to him in fourth, in the first of the constructor's championship leading BMW Saubers.

McLaren has been having a bit of a difficult weekend, and quali was no different. While both drivers looked threatening at times, fifth and sixth were the best they could manage. The Silver Arrows have their work cut out for them if they are to pick up a podium this weekend.

Mark Webber, Jarno Trulli, Nick Heidfeld and Nelson Piquet round out the top ten.

With the exception of Trulli, Honda, Toyota and Williams found themselves in a familiar spot -- locked out of Q3.

Sebastien Bourdais turned in one of the more impressive drives of the day. The Frenchman put his Toro Rosso into the second session, leaving his highly-rated teammate, Sebastian Vettel, on the outside looking in.

Less impressive, David Coulthard was eliminated in the first session, while his teammate placed ten spots up on him. The Scot was “shocked” with his performance, blaming traffic and cooling tires for his poor final run.

Still no improvement for Force India, mired in 19th and 20th, and Super Aguri rounded out the field in 21st and 22nd.

That’s how it all sets up for the Spanish Grand Prix. The last seven pole sitters have won this race, and while Raikkonen isn’t assuming a race win is a done deal, it’s clear he likes his starting position.

“Last year we couldn't finish the race, but for sure we should have good speed in the race as long as we get a clean start. We are confident in ourselves and the team,” he said. “We need a good clean first few corners and then try to maximise our position and do the best job we can. But this is the best place for sure to try and win the race.” 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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Friday, April 25, 2008

Spain: Friday practice

Kimi Raikkonen nailed the best time for both practice sessions Friday,
setting a 1:20.649 in the first session and 1:21.935 in the second, as the Finn made an early statement at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Teammate Felipe Massa and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton were second and third in the first session.

The surprise of the day came in the second, where Flavio’s boys took second and third, young Nelson Piquet leading his more experienced teammate.

What exactly can be made of such a result remains to be seen, but the Renaults ran in the top seven in both sessions.

It is always hard to take anything away from practice in terms of performance, but strong times may well indicate Williams is back on the pace. Force India also looked surprisingly competitive, and Red Bull turned in their typical performance, which always leaves one questioning whether they’ll make Q3, or be eliminated early.

It was a rough day for McLaren, several issues limiting track time, and German compatriots BMW Sauber didn’t turn any heads, either.

Toyota, Honda, and Toro Rosso all seemed to see the gap widen as the series opened up its European account following three weeks in the wind tunnel and last week’s tests. There will be some scrambling down the far end of the pitlane overnight as teams prepare for qualifying.

Super Aguri brought up the rear in both sessions, but it must be considered somewhat of a victory the cars were even on the track. Still no word coming out of the Japanese team’s camp regarding a new backer. If one isn’t found, this weekend may be the final curtain call for Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson. 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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Breaking: Super Aguri to race

Super Aguri will race in Barcelona, despite not yet reaching a reworked deal with Magma Group, it was announced.

Honda had threatened to pull Super Aguri's engine supply if the team could not come up with money before the first practice session.

It would seem the team was able to secure some sort of funding to satisfy Honda, and Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson took part in both of Friday's sessions. 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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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thursday press conference

Alonso dampens Barcelona expectations
Alonso, Raikkonen weigh in on “damaging” driver lineups

Fernando Alonso warned his fans not to expect to see him on the podium this weekend.

The Spaniard said it would take strange circumstances to make the podium a possibility, despite team hopes that aero updates will move it forward.

As always, any talk about Renault’s struggles lead to question’s about Alonso’s future, and the press conference was no different. When asked about Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo’s comment that a Kimi/Fernando tandem would be damaging to the team, Alonso was evasive.

“No. I have nothing to say. People talk about me, normally very often, which is good,” said Alonso. "It seems I am quite famous here. Part of that I respect everybody."

Kimi Raikkonen, asked for his take, obviously felt discretion was the better part of valor...

"It's better that I don't say anything," he replied.

Still no word on Super Aguri

Super Aguri’s participation at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix is still in doubt.

The team has arrived at the Circuit de Catalunya, but while team principal Aguri Suzuki confirmed that discussions were ongoing, he couldn’t say any more due to legal concerns.

Super Aguri's presence in Barcelona would seem to imply the team can afford to run this weekend. Of course, Arrows showed up in France in 2002, only to have Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Enrique Bernoldi purposely fail to qualify, closing the book on the team. 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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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Super Aguri still twisting in the wind

A decision is yet to be made as to whether Super Aguri will race in Spain this weekend, according to the BBC.

The Super Aguri team and its cars should be be in place at the Circuit de Catalunya today, but the BBC is reporting the team is operating on a day-to-day basis.

Magma Group, which had been propping up the team through the first three races this season, backed out of a buyout last week.

Magma is backed by Dubai International Capital (DIC). DIC has been tied to a buyout of George Gillett Jr.’s interest in Liverpool in recent weeks, a move that has been blocked by Gillett’s co-owner Tom Hicks. It may be the Liverpool soap opera is putting the crimp into Magma’s Super Aguri hopes.

Hamilton praises Spanish fans

Despite being the target of allegedly racist taunts during winter testing at the Circuit de Catalunya, Lewis Hamilton has praised the Barcelona circuit and its fans.

The BBC reports Hamilton called the circuit “a great track,” and the “enthusiastic fans” provide a “great atmosphere.”

Hamilton says his primary focus will be on the race.

Oh, and his number one lesson learned in Bahrain?

“Damage limitation.”

Thought Shanghai 2007 would have accomplished that. Or Brazil.

Schumi-wood?

Apparently, Hollywood is interested in the Michael Schumacher story.

But, who would they get to play the seven-time world champion, you might be asking? How about Michael Schumacher?

A Hollywood producer is thinking just that, or so says manager Willi Weber to German news weekly Bunte.

Schumacher’s only prior acting experience has been voice work, including the recent Pixar film “Cars.”

Barrichello going where?

Rubens Barrichello is set break Riccardo Patrese's 256 grand prix starts record this season, but rumor has him heading to IndyCar for ’09.

According to motorsport-total.com, Barrichello has an offer to join Andretti Green Racing. The Brazilian’s contract with Honda is up at the end of the year.

Barrichello has no oval experience, although he does have the honor of being the first F1 driver to hit the wall at Indianapolis in 2002.

Speaking of number twos...

He might never have worn a big fat number two on his hat like our Brazilian friend, but Eddie Irvine knows a thing or two about supporting Michael Schumacher.

One of my favorite podcasts, Gareth Jones on Speed, features an ode to Irvine.

Check out The Pit Stop Boys with Eddie Irvine Lives In My Wardrobe, in the last five or so minutes of the podcast.

But hey, check out the whole podcast. It’s funny. It’s irreverent. It’s worth it. 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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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fernando in a Ferrari?

Not so fast, says one who should know -- Luca di Montezemolo.

Quoted by my favorite Italian news source, sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, Montezemolo implied taking on the Spaniard would “damage” the team.

Montezemolo said he would rather have drivers who work together than have the double world champion line up with Kimi Raikkonen.

Montezemolo on Mosley

Montezemolo also said he believes Max Mosley will find it hard to stay in his role as FIA head in the current climate.

Should Mosley step down, however, Montezemolo told La Gazzetta dello Sport his replacement would need to bring the same “experience, competence, character and balance” to the table.

This was a some what more guarded response than Jean Todt’s full backing of the embattled FIA chief in an earlier interview with French newspaper Le Journal de Dimanche.

Super Aguri in for Spain?

Super Aguri has sent its cars on to Barcelona, a strong sign that the team is preparing to race in this weekend’s Spanish GP.

Many believe talks are continuing with the Magma Group. An earlier deal was thought to be in place with the Dubai-financed organization, but it fell apart late last week.

A go/no-go decision to race is expected in the morning. 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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Monday, April 21, 2008

DC disappointed with Jense, drivers who make mistakes

David Coulthard is a little unhappy with friend Jenson Button in the wake of their coming together in Bahrain.

Button and Coulthard are known to park their motorhomes next to each other on race weekends, but the Scot was disappointed Button was critical of his on-track behavior. Button made his comments when questioned by the media, before the pair had a chance to talk things out.

Coulthard said that Button later phoned him, apologising and explaining that the crash was caused when he lost control of his own car.

DC may be a little touchy on the subject of accidents, as he has had his share this young season.

Coulthard said he was tired of answering questions about accidents because other drivers need to take responsibility for their hand in them.

Sutil gets some support

Force India technical guru Mike Gascoyne says despite early season struggles, Adrian Sutil has what it takes to succeed in Formula One, according to an interview with the Press Trust of India news agency.

Gascoyne blamed bad luck for much of the young driver’s problems.

Sutil’s problems have been further highlighted by the successes of veteran teammate Giancarlo Fisichella.

But Gascoyne believes Force India has the right combination of hungry youngsters (Sutil and Luizzi) and veteran experience (Fisichella).

There’s a new Schumacher on the block

Mick Schumacher is off and running on a karting career.

Already nicknamed in the German press as “Schumi III” (somehow we are counting Ralf as II), young Mick was entered under his mother’s maiden name to help shield him from the media. Also, Father Michael did not attend.

He finished tenth and eighth in two races at the Sils circuit, near Girona, Spain.

Schumi III is scheduled to participate in the next three rounds of the series. 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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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Max goes in-depth

Max Mosley plans to remain on the job until his intended retirement date in 2009, according to an exclusive interview with the Sunday Telegraph.

Mosley said he has had “slightly more than seven” club presidents tell him he must stay on the job and fight the allegations against him, and for that reason he will not step down.

The FIA head maintains in the interview that his personal life is a private matter, and categorically denies the alleged Nazi connotations of the videotaped session.

Mosley faces a vote of confidence June 3. Despite the many opinions, often critical, coming from the Formula One community, Mosley suggested his future is the FIA’s matter, and no one else's.

Regardless, citing his age, Mosley said it was always his intention to retire when his term ends in 2009.

Read the entire Sunday Telegraph package here.

Historic day for US open-wheel racing

In Japan...

Well, it only took 50 races, but Danica Patrick finally won an IndyCar race, winning the Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi.

She is the first female to win an IndyCar race.

No word on whether she wore "domestic appliance" white, as Bernie Ecclestone once suggested...

and in Long Beach...

Champ Car is no more, as Will Power won the final race in series history at the beautiful Long Beach street circuit.

Despite its flaws, Champ Car/CART was huge in its heyday, luring as many great drivers as it groomed. The series may have lost the plot a bit in the '90s, and its own arrogance may have led to the disastrous split with Tony George which would ultimately bring about its doom, but the action on the track was always exciting.

One can only hope that the IndyCar series will have learned its lesson in all of this and embrace the mix of ovals, street circuits and road courses which made open-wheel racing in the US unique, and not continue to fall victim to the idiotic notion that this country only likes guys who can turn left. 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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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Corinna's take

Wondering how Mrs. Michael Schumacher feels about her husband's new motorcycle racing hobby? Gazetto della Sport, that bastion of journalistic quality, caught up with the Schumachers at the Sport Awards in San Marino.

Corinna Schumacher said while she worries about him, she lets him do what he wants as she cannot deny his pleasures. She also made mention that she couldn't have him around the house all day anyhow.

Michael, for his part, commented that falling, as he did before last week's Ferrari test in Barcelona, was all part of the fun on bikes. He also said he enjoys working on the bikes at home as much as racing on the track.

Webber speaks out on Mosley

Mark Webber is the latest to speak out on the Max Mosley saga, and it is safe to say he is less amused than Juan Pablo Montoya.

Webber said the FIA head has brought the sport into disrepute, according to a BBC report. Additionally, citing an F1 personality's position as a role model, the Australian feels the current scandal is unacceptable.

Webbo stopped short of saying whether Mosley should resign, but he believes his position of authority has been compromised.

Mosley faces an FIA vote of confidence on June 3. 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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Friday, April 18, 2008

VW, Porsche rule out F1

Two automakers often linked with F1 over the past decade sited the Mosley scandal as one of the reasons they will not get involved with the sport, Reuters reports.

Porsche and Volkswagen join German counterparts BMW and Mercedes in their strong criticism of the FIA head in the wake of the alleged Nazi-themed session with prostitutes first reported by News of the World.

It is perhaps the first tangible evidence of the negative effect the scandal is having on Formula One.

Renault admits car is too slow

Pat Symonds admitted to Autosport the R28 is lacking the speed to break out of the midfield.

Even with new aero bits promised for Spain, Symonds does not believe performance will improve enough to give Fernando Alonso a chance at a podium.

Whitmarsh unsure who has the advantage

ITV reports McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh feels this week’s tests in Barcelona failed to prove who has an edge going into the European campaign.

The McLaren CEO said the variation of programs run by the teams failed to prove whose bits and pieces added to their performance.

Still, Whitmarsh is confident McLaren have made a step forward.

Rubens likes what he sees

Rubens Barrichello is encouraged by Honda’s new aero package, ITV reports, and the Brazilian believes it can put him in a position to net points in Barcelona.

Barrichello led the timesheets on the second day of testing, albeit on slicks.

Honda will be relying heavily on the test data gathered by Barrichello and third driver Alex Wurz, as Jenson Button’s session on the final day was plagued by rain. 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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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Webbo fastest on a soggy final day in Barcelona

It was Mark Webber’s turn to top the charts, as rain hit the final day of testing in Barcelona.

The Australian set a best time of 1:21.953, well clear of Heikki Kovalainen’s second place 1:23.589.

Kimi Raikkonen set a 1:23.619 in limited running, followed by Robert Kubica (1:24.715), Jenson Button (1:24.873) and Kazuki Nakajima (1:24.927).

Nelson Piquet (1:26.100) and Jarno Trulli (1:32.150) rounded out the remaining drivers as the test drew to a close.

‘Super Best Friends’ no more?

There will be no golden Honda parachute for Super Aguri, the Japanese organization telling AFP Thursday it has no intention of increasing its level of support to the embattled squad.

Super Aguri’s takeover by the Dubai-funded Magma Group fell apart this week, leaving the team desperately searching for funds.

It is rumored Aguri Suzuki’s team is just days from shutting its doors. 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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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Alonso tops a ‘slick’ day in Spain

It was Fernando Alonso's turn to lead the field Wednesday in the third day of testing at Barcelona.

Alonso outpaced Michael Schumacher in a battle of slick-shod cars, setting a mark of 1:18.483.

Schumacher finished the day in second with a 1:19.323.

Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella proved quick Tuesday, and teammate Adrian Sutil followed suit today, setting a third-best time of 1:19.424.

Robert Kubica, Nico Rosberg, Rubens Barrichello, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastien Bourdais, Mark Webber and Jarno Trulli rounded out the top 10.

Bourdais suffers heavy crash

Toro Rosso ran its new STR3 car for Sebastien Bourdais, but the car's race debut may be postponed after the Frenchman suffered a heavy shunt.

While Bourdais was unhurt, the car suffered enough damage that Sebastian Vettel will not be able to complete the team’s testing program Thursday.

Vettel in line for a Red Bull promotion?

Red Bull’s Helmut Marko told autosport.com Sebastian Vettel will likely be considered for a move up to Red Bull Racing in ’09.

Vettel made a big splash in his race debut last season, filling in for the injured Robert Kubica in a BMW Sauber at Indianapolis.

He also performed well at Toro Rosso in the second half of ’07, taking over for Scott Speed after the American mouthed his way out of Formula One. That strong performance has continued into this year.

A move to RBR for Vettel would be logical, as Dietrich Mateschitz recently said he plans to sell Toro Rosso by 2010.

Most likely to move aside for Vettel would be 37-year-old David Coulthard.

Super Aguri on the ropes again

Reuters reports Magma Group’s takeover bid for Super Aguri is on hold, once again putting the team’s future in question.

Talks are ongoing. Super Aguri has not been present at this week’s Barcelona tests.

According to Reuters’ source, the delay could put Super Aguri’s participation at the Spanish GP in jeopardy.

Considering Super Aguri was created to save face for Honda after it fired Takuma Sato from the works squad, Aguri Suzuki’s minnows have proven to be a plucky little team which took it to the better-funded Honda more than once last season.

Hmm... Beat the guys who bankroll you, suddenly find you have no funds... Coincidence? 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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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Another day in Barcelona

Rubens Barrichello topped the charts for day two of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Barrichello set a time 1:18.928. Like Felipe Massa yesterday, Barrichello’s time was set on slicks.

Giancarlo Fisichella, also on slicks, nailed the second fastest time. The Force India driver managed a respectable 1:20.7 on the grooved rubber, as well.

Massa was next with a 1:20.283. David Coulthard, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, Timo Glock and Nick Heidfeld rounded out the field.

Wednesday, Scuderia Toro Rosso is expected to bring its new car, and Michael Schumacher will drive the Ferrari...

Motorbike spill won’t keep Schumacher out of Ferrari test

Michael Schumacher should be clear to test for Ferrari Wednesday despite a crash while testing a Honda bike at the Lausitzring.

The seven-time world champion, who made his motorbike racing debut just a couple of weeks ago, was unhurt after losing control on a slow corner at the German track.

Schumacher said after that race he might not ride competitively again, but it doesn’t look like he’s ready to climb off the bike just yet.

Ferrari is planning to use Schumacher this week for slick tire testing.

Ferrari trying to find the leak

Ferrari is trying to figure out how an Italian magazine caught wind of the Scuderia’s radical new nose over two months prior to its debut.

Despite tighter security, a result of Ferrari’s experience in last year’s “Spygate” saga, Autosprint managed to break the story, with sketches, in February.

Swiss publication Blick reports an internal investigation is being carried out in Maranello. 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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Monday, April 14, 2008

Testing in Spain

Felipe Massa took the top time in the first day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Massa registered a time of 1:18.339 as Ferrari tested a radical new nose cone. Teams also took time to test on slicks, which look set to make a return in ‘09.

Alex Wurz (1:21.059), Pedro de la Rosa (1:21.566), Nick Heidfeld (1:21.679) and Nelson Piquet (1:21.913) rounded out the top five.

Only Super Aguri and Toro Rosso skipped the test.

Kimi: It’s the McLaren, not Hamilton

Kimi Raikkonen came out in support of Lewis Hamilton, who has been under fire following his disastrous Bahrain GP.

Raikkonen told the Daily Mirror newspaper that he feels the problem isn’t the driver, it’s the car.

Raikkonen believes Hamilton is pushing harder to make up for deficiencies in the McLaren, which is making him more prone to mistakes. 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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Ralf finishes 14th


Ralf Schumacher finished 14th in his first DTM race at Hockenheim.

Defending champion Mattias Ekstrom won the race in an Audi A4.

Schumacher stressed the value of the experience he gained in his Mercedes in his debut.

The series moves to Oscherslebennext weekend.

Damon Hill speaks out on Mosley

British Racing Drivers’ Club president Damon Hill is the latest to come out in criticism of Max Mosley.

Quoted in The Times, Hill spoke of the inability to separate Mosley’s alleged indiscretions from his role in the FIA. Hill fears damage to the image of the sport.

The FIA will vote in June on Mosley’s future. Mosley himself has indicated he does not plan to step down. 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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Saturday, April 12, 2008

The ‘real’ reason Fernando ditched McLaren

Contrary to popular belief, Fernando Alonso left McLaren because they are not winners. So says the Spanish double world champion in an interview with Dutch website f1today.nl

Alonso is quoted by the site saying some taems seem like winners, but they are not, and McLaren is one of those teams. Furthermore, he prefers to be with Renault, who have won two of the last three championships, than McLaren, who haven’t won in years.

Despite the rumors saying he will jump to Ferrari at the end of the year, Alonso told the site he plans to remain with Renault so long as he is provided with a car that can win. Even as the team has struggled early this season, the Spaniard believes the car will be sorted out by the end of the year.

Not members of the Lewis Hamilton fan club

Former Williams drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Heinz-Harald Frentzen joined the growing list of F1 folks who are less than impressed with Lewis Hamilton.

Villeneuve, in an interview with the Gulf Times, said the young McLaren driver lacked the proper respect for Fernando Alonso’s accomplishments when the drivers were teammates last year.

The Canadian cited his own behaviour toward rival Michael Schumacher and teammate Damon Hill as examples of proper respect(?). JV said he found Hamilton’s attitude toward Alonso “disappointing,” and the public feud between the two drivers to be in “bad taste.”

Frentzen, in an interview with Sport Bild, said he’d put his money on German compatriot Nick Heidfeld to be more successful over the long term than Hamilton.

Heidfeld's advantage? He’s just better, says Heinz-Harald. Especially at development.

That’s to the point. 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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Friday, April 11, 2008

Honda signs a youngin'

It’s not Everton signing a seven-year-old, but Honda signed 16-year-old kart racer Will Stevens to a developmental contract.

Stevens, who has won multiple karting titles, will receive assistance from the Honda team, with a goal of developing his talent for Formula One.

Stevens visited with the team at its Brackley factory this week and met with Honda chiefs Nick Fry and Ross Brawn.

Hopefully, for young Mr. Stevens, Honda will have its car sorted out by the time he makes his F1 debut...

Honda to shift focus to '09

Ross Brawn, speaking to autosport.com, said the team has only one more major upgrade in the works for this year’s challenger following planned updates for the Spanish GP. The team will then focus its attention on the ‘09 car.

Despite improved performance this season, Brawn has played down the possibility Honda could be a title challenger next season.

Abu Dhabi GP to be an October race

According to The Daily Telegraph, the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be scheduled for October 2009.

The race has a seven-year contract, and will be run on a man-made island. 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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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Indy MotoGP race not an F1 substitute


Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Joie Chitwood expounded on recent comments by Tony George which hinted at an F1 return to the Brickyard.

At a press conference this week, Chitwood said IMS road course alterations, made in preparation for this year’s inaugural MotoGP event, have also been approved for F1 use.

Chitwood also explained the June date the USGP has held in recent years was left open on the race track’s calendar for a possible F1 return.

George told an Indianapolis radio station earlier this month the speedway was actively engaged in finding a title sponsor for a USGP event, and the race could return as soon as 2009 if proper conditions could be met.

Gascoyne happy Force India finished ahead of Hamilton

Very little comment has been made about Lewis Hamilton’s petulant gesture toward Giancarlo Fisichella in last weekend’s Bahrain GP.

It didn’t escape Force India chief Mike Gascoyne, however, who called the gesture “completely unnecessary.”

Hamilton shook his fist after taking several laps to get past the Italian. Hamilton made a dreadful start which found him fighting for 13th. Seems the young starlet didn’t like that Fisi didn’t move aside for him, despite the fact the Force India veteran was fighting for position.

Hardly seems fair. It wasn't Fisi who ran into the back of Fernando Alonso.

Good drivers win from the front, great drivers work their way through the field to maximize their results on a bad day. Hamilton didn't do that in Bahrain. Instead, young Lewis showed his inexperience. 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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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Fate plays its hand June 3

Max Mosley will learn his fate June 3 when the FIA will take a vote of confidence at a special session.

Mosley, who called the meeting, is facing increased pressure to resign. His latest four-year term expires October 2009.

Mosley suffered a blow today as his court action to prevent future use of The News of the World video was rejected.

Mosley plans to pursue further legal action against the tabloid, seeking unlimited damages, and has promised all monies will be donated to the FIA charitable wing.

A month-and-a-half is a long time to twist in the wind...

One ex-F1 personality who is getting a kick out of the Mosley situation is Juan Pablo Montoya.

In an Associated Press Q&A, Montoya said that once he got over the initial shock, he found humor in the scandal, calling it a ‘laughing matter,’ and Mosley ‘Just an old guy trying to have some fun.’

When pressed, JPM said while he holds an opinion on the matter, he was withholding comment.

Well, sort of, except for that laughing and old guy stuff...

Renault promises Alonso more for Barcelona, and don't call me Shirley

Renault is promising a better car for Fernando Alonso by his home race, where it will introduce a new aero package.

Alonso has spent the better part of the first three rounds tooling around in the midfield, and rumors are running rampant that the Spaniard will be jumping ship at the end of the season.

Renault have not won a race since 2006. Alonso has managed just six points so far this season.

It might not matter. Dietrich Mateschitz hinted Red Bull could have had Alonso for '08, but that the double world champion was only available for one season. Mateschitz's comment feeds speculation that Alonso has a contract in place for 2009.

Hmm... who could it be... ?

Not Ferrari, surely?

F1's South Africa return on the ropes?

A Formula One return to South Africa hangs in the balance due to a lack of support from the local government, according to comments made by Simon Grindrod, leader of the Cape Town caucus, in Cape Business News.

Grindrod claims the indecision is leading to frustrated investors who will soon abandon the project without a commitment from the government. 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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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

BMW Sauber the real deal?

With Robert Kubica’s pole and BMW Sauber’s lead in the constructor’s championship, BMW Motorsport Director Dr. Mario Theissen believes the team has achieved its goal of being one of the top three teams on the grid.

Next on Theissen’s list, announced before the season began, is a GP win.

Ron Dennis, for one, doesn’t buy the hype surrounding the BMW squad. Quoted by reporters, Dennis said he believes now the series is back in Europe, BMW Sauber will not be able to keep up in development of the car.

Bahrain race winner Felipe Massa is withholding judgement for the moment.

"One thing that is clear after the three races we have had so far, is that BMW has really made a step forward," Massa blogged following the race. "But at the moment, it is hard to tell if they might be able to help us by taking points from McLaren or if they now have to be seen as genuine title contenders in their own right.”

Lauda not impressed

Niki Lauda, never one to keep opinions to himself, is not impressed with Lewis Hamilton.

In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Lauda criticised the Briton for needless crashes, and opined that Hamilton was putting too much pressure on himself to win the championship.

In the same interview, Lauda joined fellow former world champions Sir Jackie Stewart and Jody Scheckter in calling for FIA president Max Mosley to resign in the wake of the allegations made by The News of the World. 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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Monday, April 7, 2008

Jim Clark

March 4, 1936 - April 7, 1968



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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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Bahrain race report

For the second year in a row, Felipe Massa needed a big win in Bahrain.

For the second year in a row, he got it, as Ferrari got a big 1-2 finish just when its championship campaign was looking for a jump start.

Pole sitter Robert Kubica led his teammate to round out the podium.

Massa had a blistering start off the line and the first corner was never in doubt. It was the complete opposite for Lewis Hamilton as he found himself off to a terrible start and fighting for 9th with ex-teammate Fernando Alonso.

Thus a wild and thrilling opening to the Bahrain GP was underway that saw Hamilton run into the back of Alonso and lose his front wing, a retirement for Sebestien Vettel with smoke coming out the back of his Torro Roso, Nelson Piquet spinning, and some excellent dicing between Jarno Trulli and Nico Rosberg.

When the dust settled by lap 4, the front-running Ferraris, led by Massa, were chased by Kubica, Heidfeld and Kovalainen.

Save for an excellent pass by Piquet on Sebestian Bourdais on lap 11, things would stay quite the same until the first round of stops.

Pit stops; payin' his dues; and what wins races, the cars or the drivers?

Kubica was in first on lap 17. Raikonnen and Massa traded fastest laps trying to gain an advantage before Raikonnen came in on lap 20 and Massa on lap 21, respectively.

Meanwhile, David Coulthard had a coming together reminiscent of his run-in with Massa in Melbourne as Jenson Button got a little ambitious and out-braked himself into a turn. DC, who looked as if he never expected Button to be there, shut the door (if it was even open) and Button drove up on his sidepod.

Button would soon retire, and DC wouldn’t be a factor for the rest of the race. DC was quoted after Melbourne that he couldn’t see Massa because of the design of the Red Bull. Granted, I don’t think Button should have tried what he tried, but a driver needs to be able to see what’s coming up alongside. Fragile, poor sight lines -- Adrian Newey doesn't have a reputation for putting drivers first in his designs.

Meanwhile, down in the depths of the order, Hamilton was finding it hard to move up. The McLaren was obviously hurting from its run-in with Alonso. Still, the young sophomore seemed a bit miffed that Giancarlo Fisichella didn’t move over for him when they were fighting for position.

It must have been a humbling experience for Hamilton, as he was lapped by the front runners. He was getting to see how most other young drivers pay their dues race in and race out -- rewarded with a top drive if they are good enough or cashed out if they were not.

On the flip side, Force India must have been over the moon with Fisi, who gave the new boys a full race -- a competitive drive where he freely gave up positions to no one. A far cry from Adrian Sutil. One wonders just how much longer he has to start giving the Indian squad results.

When all was said and done, the top five remained as it had been.

Final pit stops; and a little bit of history

Approaching the final round of stops, the Ferraris were again swapping fastest laps. Could the Iceman get by the Brazilian with a better pit stop? A similar battle was going on between Kubica and Heidfeld.

The answer would be no as Massa retained a comfortable lead and Kubica came out ahead of his teammate as well.

For a brief moment, however, on lap 40, history was made. The Ferraris had pitted and the BMW Saubers had not, and for the first time cars with the Sauber name were 1-2 in a grand prix.

On lap 42 Piquet became just the third retirement of the race.

By 10 to go, the pit stops that mattered were done and had changed nothing. Massa led Raikonnen, Kubica, Heidfeld and Kovalainen.

That was how it would stay, Massa driving to a brilliant win, Raikonnen leading the driver’s championship, and BMW Sauber jumping to the top of the constructors’ table.

Jarno Trulli, Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg rounded out the top eight.

It’s three weeks off until Barcelona, and the teams will be racing to make improvements for the European bulk of the season.

For now:
  • BMW Sauber must be smiling
  • Ferrari must be relieved
  • Hamilton will have some time to think about this race and how he will move on
  • Williams and Rosberg will have to be ruing the missed opportunities that this weekend seemed to promise until qualifying
  • Fernando Alonso, who finally confirmed that contracts are “flexible,” will be thinking about the future, and if Renault is where it will be
  • And Toyota, Red Bull, and Honda will have to be thinking fast about how to salvage a challenge this season.
Some thrilling battles here three races in! SpeedRead will keep you briefed on what's news in F1 as the circus prepares for the first race European race of the 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

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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Kubica takes the pole

Robert Kubica nipped Felipe Massa on his final flying lap to take the first pole of his 25-race career Saturday in Bahrain.

Kubica had to deal with a significant vibration due to flat-spotting his tire early in the lap.

“Well, I started the lap pretty well, then in corner nine I locked the front wheels and unfortunately I flat-spotted the tyres, so it was not easy,” said Kubica. “I had a very big vibration and in the last three corners which are right-handers, it was very difficult but I managed not to make a mistake. The car was pulling to one side under braking but still it was enough for pole and I'm very happy.”

Massa, who has been dominating so far this weekend, and is in desperate need of a good showing in Bahrain, will start next to the BMW driver. The Brazilian ran into traffic problems in the final session.

“I did incredible laps during the whole weekend and the car was just perfect all the time,” said Massa. “And just in Q3 was the only time that I was behind cars all the time.”

Lewis Hamilton took third and will start next to Kimi Raikonnen in the race. Hamilton’s result owed much to the McLaren mechanics, who worked through the night to get the spare ready after Hamilton's shunt at the end of Friday’s second practice session.

Despite qualifying third, Hamilton felt happy with the car, and pole was within reach.

“Going into qualifying I was quite happy with the balance that I had and I knew that we would be able to challenge at least for the front row,” said Hamilton. “We're third, very very happy with that. I think it was a reasonably decent lap.

“For sure, as always, there's time to gain and I think inevitably if it was a perfect lap, we probably could have had pole but I'll go back and I'll study it and look forward to the race but I think we have a good strategy and I think tomorrow will be quite interesting,” he continued.

It’s the first time since China 2006 a non-Ferrari or McLaren driver has started on pole.

Heikki Kovalainen, Nick Heidfeld, Jarno Trulli, Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button and Alonso round out the top 10. 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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Friday, April 4, 2008

Friday in Bahrain

Felipe Massa set out to silence the critics by posting the top time in Friday practice.

Massa was followed by teammate Kimi Raikonnen and Nico Rosberg, who seemed to prove that Williams’ speed in Melbourne was no one-off.

Lewis Hamilton managed the fourth best time of the day, but also suffered a big shunt in the waning minutes of the second session. He emerged unharmed, but the McLaren looked a bit worse for wear, and the team has some ground to make up if it is to threaten Ferrari this weekend.

Good on Massa, but we all know he’s fast. The real question is, can he be consistent?

FIA sets a speed limit

As predicted, the FIA tweaked the rules in the final qualifying session, introducing a maximum lap time. The aim is to prevent the dangerous situation witnessed in Malaysia, where the McLarens -- on their slow-down lap -- impeded qualifiers on their final lap.

More important than whether qualifying times were hampered, however, was the truly dangerous situation that arose. Quick reactions saved the day, but there are drivers on the grid who might not have been quick enough to prevent disaster.

Mosley sues The News of the World

Also as expected, multiple sources confirm that Max Mosley has sued The News of the World, even as he faces more pressure to step down.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) is the latest organization to join the call for Mosley’s resignation. AAA represents 50 million members in the United States and Canada. 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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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Bahrain notebook

Sebastian Vettel revealed to autosport.com that a move to McLaren was blocked last winter by Red Bull.

The 20-year-old German first burst on the scene last season when he subbed for Robert Kubica at Indianapolis following the Pole's horrific crash the previous week in Canada. Vettel was serving at the time as BMW’s reserve driver.

His performance soon earned him a recall by his Red Bull masters to replace Scott Speed at Toro Rosso, where he went on to put in some spectacular drives.

Continued good performances for resurgent Toro Rosso this year has led to speculation he is on the short list further up the paddock.

Vettel is proving to be a great, great talent, and he seems to have his head screwed on straight. As long as he keeps his head down and continues to put in consistent drives, there is no doubt he will be moving up before long.

Alonso: I have no escape clause

Fernando Alonso denied there is an option to opt out of his Renault contract at the end of the season.

Alonso reiterated to reporters his commitment to Renault is for two years, and noted that rule changes for ’09 will create a unique opportunity to reshuffle the field.

Rumors have been running rampant that he will replace Felipe Massa at Ferrari, perhaps sooner rather than later.

My guess is that all parties are in a wait and see mode.

Mosley calls for a special meeting of the FIA

Amid calls for his resignation, Max Mosley has called for a special meeting of the full membership of the FIA.

It will most likely take a few weeks to convene such a meeting due to the logistics of such an event.

Mercedes, BMW, Honda and Toyota all issued statements critical of Mosley earlier in the day, and Lewis Hamilton became the first current driver to speak out, aligning himself with those critical of the FIA chief.

Mosley is not in attendance this week in Bahrain. Bahrain's royal family, in a letter sent to Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone, requested Mosley steer clear of the event to avoid distraction. 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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Thursday press conference highlights

Toyota and Ferrari took the opportunity to test in Bahrain over the winter, and Jarno Trulli, for one, thinks that will be an advantage.

“It is an advantage because obviously I know what we should get. We got the car set-up and I don't think there is much change unless the circuit has changed dramatically,” said Trulli. “But I believe we have got some advantage and we have some new bits on the car which we can test here.”

The last time F1 visited Bahrain, it was with driver sides. Nick Heidfeld believes the lack of such systems will present new, but minimal challenges on the sandy track.

“The bigger problems will come on the lower speed corners. We also have some difficult entries similar to the ones we get in Malaysia,” said Heidfeld. “There are some entries where you don't just brake in a straight line but where you turn at the same time. It is the loss of the engine push system that is going to be more difficult, but it is fun.

“But we have seen in the past that it (sand) looks dramatic but the effect on the circuit and also on the cars are quite small. I was testing here a couple of years ago and quite early on in the test, even without a lot of other cars running, the grip was there straight away. It improves a bit but it is not as bad as it looks.”

Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, believes he will easily put the disappointments of Sepang behind him.

“I think when we went to Malaysia we easily had a very good package and obviously with a couple of hiccups, not only being put five places back but also with the pit stop issue we had, we sort of just didn't get the best from the weekend,” said Hamilton. “But I think our underlying pace was as good as Ferrari's, if not a little bit slower but we had the car to be in the top three, so that still gives us confidence and I think coming here we would have learned from the mistake we made in the last race and look forward.”

Hamilton also isn’t fazed about the location of the McLaren garage at the end of the pitlane this weekend.

“No, to be honest I quite like it down there. We're nice and out of the way, it's closer to the pit entry of the circuit and it's actually quite cozy down there, so we'll do the best shot we can. It makes no difference,” he 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

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

F1 bosses look into their crystal balls

Ron Dennis and other team bosses talked about the future of F1 during the Motor Sport Business Forum in Bahrain.

Dennis said he supports rule changes that provide for exciting racing, keep the formula on the cutting edge, and support the entrepreneur, reports autosport.com.

Dennis also said he supports expanding the calendar, but capping the total number of races to 20, and preserving the off season, which he says creates an atmosphere of anticipation among the fans.

Honda’s Nick Fry also voiced support for expansion of the calendar to add new markets while maintaining some of the traditional dates.

I think more races are what the public wants to see, but I wholeheartedly agree that the off season builds excitement and mystery into the sport. I think any plan that preserves some of the traditional dates is a great idea. F1 without Spa is a travesty, and a return to the U.S. is a necessity.

Schumacher: Massa will improve; BMW Sauber will fade

BMW Sauber will not not break Ferrari’s and McLaren’s hold on the constructors’ title, according to Michael Schumacher, despite its strong showing so far this season.

Speaking to Reuters, the German said BMW will have a few highlights, but cannot sustain its current level of performance over the course of a full season.

Neither does he see Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld challenging for the drivers’ championship, but he does tap Sebastian Vettel to be the revelation of the season.

Meanwhile, Schumacher backs Felipe Massa for success, while admitting the Brazilian’s no-holds-barred approach to racing isn’t likely to change.

Citing Massa’s qualifying performance in Malaysia, Schumacher believes good results will come.

While Schumacher reminds us one win will silence the critics in this young season, the fact remains Ferrari needs two drivers consistently scoring points. Despite Raikonnen’s win, at the end of the day Ferrari made up no ground on McLaren in Malaysia. That cannot continue, especially if BMW are going to reap the reward. 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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