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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The top stories of 2008

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

Spanish Formula One Grand Prix: Practice


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

Singapore Formula One Grand Prix: Race


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

Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix: Race


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

Turkish Formula One Grand Prix: Qualifying


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

Max Mosley Wins Damages Against The News of The World


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

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

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Monday, December 29, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Honda deal in place?

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


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

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

A spokesman for Slim has denied the claim.

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


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

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

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

Merry Christmas from SpeedRead!

Ridelust has our favorite Christmas card:


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

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Whipping up a Christmas laugh

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

Ronaldo With Bernie Ecclestone


The Daily Star newspaper describes the card:

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

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

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

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

Howett: Ecclestone won’t break FOTA

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

He doesn't think it will work.

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

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

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

Richards, World looking to buy Honda team

F1 Testing Session


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

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

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

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


Toyota commits to F1 despite loss

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

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


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

Dennis says F1 will return to North America

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

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

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


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

Finally...


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

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bernie not so enamored with Luca

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

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


Qualifying Session For The San Marino F1 Grand Prix

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

And…


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

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


Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix: Qualifying




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


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








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


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

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

Mecachrome in trouble

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

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

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

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday catch-all

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

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

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

Here's just a sample:

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


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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Toyota concludes Bahrain test

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

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

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

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's a wrap

Gary Paffett (GBR) Formula 1 Testing, Portugal

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Peugeot not interested in Honda assets

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


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

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

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

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


Tuesday times -- Jerez

  1. Sebastien Buemi, Red Bull, 1:17.029

  2. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:17.319

  3. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:19.303

  4. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:20.006

  5. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:20.332

Tuesday times -- Algarve

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

  2. Luca Badoer, Ferrari, 1:31.320

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

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Monday, December 15, 2008

A moment Edwards will never forget

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony


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

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


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

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

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

Buemi on top, this time for Red Bull

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Germany and Loeb take ROC glory

2008 Race of Champions - Previews


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

2008 Race of Champions - Previews


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

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

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

Force India confirms lineup (again?)

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

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


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

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


Vitantonio Liuzzi has also been retained as third driver.

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

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Friday, December 12, 2008

World Motor Sport Council ratifies cost cuts

Medals, qualifying revamp tabled

Japanese Formula One Grand Prix: Race

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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Bernie unfazed by Honda exit

French Formula One Grand Prix: Qualifying


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A sweep for Buemi

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

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

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

FIA, FOTA agree to cut costs


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

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

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

The full text of the press release:
Press Release
FIA and FOTA Meeting
10/12/2008

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

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

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

FIA President Max Mosley said,

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

FOTA President Luca di Montezemolo said,

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


It’s Buemi again

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

Porsche unlikely to pursue IndyCar

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

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Standard engine looks set for go ahead

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

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

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

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

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

Williams, Red Bull sign new sponsorship deals

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

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

Richards: let’s take it slow

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

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


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

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


Day 1 in Jerez

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

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

Futures in the balance

Valencia, European Grand Prix preview


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, December 5, 2008

"Guardians of the sport"

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

The full release from the FIA:



Press Release
Formula One Costs
05/12/2008


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

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

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

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Official statement from Honda

Hungarian F1 Grand Prix - Qualifying


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Thank you very much."

Takeo Fukui
President
and CEO
Honda Motor Co., Ltd.



.

The Official Formula 1 Website

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

UPDATED: Honda's F1 exit

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

James Allen has analysis.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Italian Formula One Grand Prix: Qualifying


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kovy blames heavy fuel loads

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

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

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

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

Sato gets another test

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hamilton in spaaaaaaaccccccccceeeeeeeeeee...

Lewis Hamilton and Nicole Scherzinger miss flight at LAX



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

McLaren was quick to deny the claim.

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


Speed gets full-time NASCAR deal

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

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

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


Berger denies Force India rumor

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

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


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

BMW, Benz make case for German GP

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

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


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

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

Rumor: Berger to Force India?

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


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

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

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

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

Barrichello wins Massa’s kart event

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

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

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