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Friday, January 30, 2009

FIA reports on medals

F1's history would be vastly different if Bernie Ecclestone's medals system were applied instead of the current point system.

That's the word from the FIA, which released its analysis Friday.

Ecclestone's aim was to inspire risk taking and passing, but the idea received a less than enthusiastic response in the greater F1 community, with the FIA tabling it for further study.

The FIA reports, when applied to the past, medals would have resulted in different champions 13 times in 59 years, and different top threes 37 times.

Stirling Moss

Good news for Sterling Moss, who would have been champion in 1958. Others who benefit: Didier Pironi, Felipe Massa, would-be four-time champ Jim Clark, three-time champ Nigel Mansell and five-time champion Alain Prost.

Ayrton Senna would have won four consecutive championships from 1988-91, as well.

Not so good for Nelson Piquet, who would lose all his titles, and Niki Lauda, who would retain just one (though would expect he would have remained with Ferrari for the duration of the 1977 championship). Ecclestone's Brabham would have lost all of its championships.

Overall, the FIA says, fewer drivers would have won the championship. While there were changes in duration of the championship, more would have been wrapped up sooner. As far as contests that went down to the final race, nearly as many were lost as were gained.

Read the full report.

Force India plans to be ready

Force India is targeting the final two tests before the start of the 2009 season to have its new car on the track.

The team was forced to make modifications to the car, which had initially been designed with a Ferrari engine and team-built gearbox in mind, after signing the McLaren deal. Force India will be using a McLaren gearbox with its Mercedes power plant.

"The deal took quite a while to do and therefore the announcement and the opportunity to start work was late, especially considering the package included such fundamental items such as the gearbox," said technical director James Key. "We started designing this car in January 2008, as the new rules dictated such a different car from what we are used too. As a result there was a lot to do very quickly! The news was however extremely well received by the team."

The team, dating back to the Jordan years, has seen its share of engine changes, the team points out. Cosworth, Yamaha, Hart, Peugeot, Mugen, Honda, Cosworth (the second time around), Toyota and Ferrari if you are keeping track at home.

That experience will benefit, Key implied.

"We’ve certainly had late calls in the past! This is quite a late one, but for all the right reasons, in terms of long term stability for the team."

Meanwhile, former chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne has sued the team for £2M in damages, according to Autosport.

Rahal Letterman Racing may not run IRL in '09

Bobby Rahal said his team may sit out the 2009 IRL season due to the inability to find sponsorship.

"To be honest, unless pennies from heaven fall in our lap, I don't see, at this stage, getting the appropriate level of funding to put forth a good, competitive effort for the season." Rahal is quoted by USA Today.

The team, co-owned by talk-show host David Letterman, ran one car in the series last year for Ryan Hunter-Reay. It ran Ethanol sponsorship, but that money will not be available this year.

Rahal said with a veteran driver, like Hunter-Reay, he could participate with two weeks notice prior to the start of the season, but the window is closing.

The team still plans a run at the Indy 500. The team won the 2004 event with Buddy Rice.

"We feel strongly we can have something in place for Indy. There's a lot of interest in that race because it's the crown jewel of our sport."

IndyCar puts its current car count at 18. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Thursday, January 29, 2009

F1 roundup 01/29/09

Here's a quick rundown of what's making news in F1:

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


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pitlane reopened

Formula One’s closed pitlane rule, which saw drivers penalized for pitting early under the safety car, will be dropped.

Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix: Practice

That’s the word from race director Charlie Whiting in a debrief interview on the FIA Web site.

“The rule introduced in 2007 was a bad one, and we’ve gone back to the 2006 regulations,” Whiting said. “The only difference is we intend to implement a minimum time back to the pits.”

The rule was designed to slow drivers who rushed through the accident scene to get back to the pits to refuel and gain an advantage.

Heikki Kovalainen, Nick Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica all lost places last year due to closed pit lane violations.

Fernando Alonso was able to score his first win of the season by moving up the field due to the rule, as well.

Instead of closing the pitlane, the FIA will send a message to each car’s standard engine control unit to calculate a minimum time for the car to return to it’s pit.

Whiting also gave his thoughts on the new aero rules, the reintroduction of slicks, worked to calm fears over the safety of KERS, clarified the engine rules, and spoke on private testing and wind tunnels.

Read the full debrief here.

Honda “optimistic”

A spokeswoman for the Honda F1 team says it is optimistic of securing its future on the grid, but gave no idea of when such a deal would come

“Don't focus too much on any speculation regarding time frames and deadlines,” PlanetF1.com quotes the spokeswoman. “Work on our race car is progressing well. We're optimistic but it may not be possible to comment further for some time.”
Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Monday, January 26, 2009

Bernie offers a compromise?

Bernie Ecclestone is willing to let Formula One teams go hog wild on spending, for a price.

Kitzbuehel Celebrities Charity Race

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph newspaper, the F1 ringmaster said if teams made a long-term commitment, say seven to 10 years, he’d be willing to loosen the reins.

“If the manufacturers are prepared to make a long-term commitment, say seven to 10 years, we should let them spend what they want to spend, providing they supply engines and gearboxes at an affordable price,” Ecclestone said. “Whether they will commit to that I don't know. Getting them to agree on anything has always been the problem. But if they did it would prevent the kind of thing we have seen with Honda because we could sue the arse off them if they left. They wouldn't like that.”

That, perhaps, is sort of an “olive branch” for a comment Ecclestone made last week, saying the teams shouldn’t get more, but less.

“If they are spending less they don't need as much, do they?” Ecclestone explained. “I was only being mischievous, really, playing the teams at their own game.”

The big boss also panned KERS (“I have always been against KERS...It costs a lot of money...”), put in another plug for a scoring revamp (“The rejection of my medal system pisses me off”), and gave his opinion on who should make the rules (“You either let the teams shape the rules, which they can't because they can never agree on anything, or let the FIA write the regulations and let's get on with it”).

Ecclestone never fails to provide a good quote. To read the whole interview, go here.

Ecclestone mentions third car option

In the wake of Honda’s exit from the sport, much speculation has been given as to whether Bernie Ecclestone is contractually obligated to have a specific number of cars on the grid.

Ecclestone denies this, news source GMM reports, but does open the doors to the possibility of teams fielding third cars in an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

“That is what basically will happen,” he is quoted. “If the manufacturers supply engines to other people, they can run three cars themselves. It is better to have 20 cars on the grid, whether they are in the hands of manufacturers or in private hands, that doesn't make any difference.”

Donohue wins Rolex 24

David Donohue held off a surging Juan Pablo Montoya on the final lap to win Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona Sunday, in the 40th anniversary of his legendary father’s victory in the same event.

Donahue’s Brumos Porsche (with co-drivers Buddy Rice, Darren Law and Antonio Garcia) edged Montoya (and co-drivers Scott Dixon, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas) by 0.167 seconds, breaking Ganassi Racing’s four-year stranglehold on the category.

JPM was typically blunt in his assessment after the race.

“The amount of power they have on the straight? I’m actually surprised we were able to finish second. I drove my butt off,” Autoweek quotes the Colombian.

Andy Lally, R.J. Valentine, Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long teamed up to win the GT category in the TRG Porsche 911 GT3.

The race combines part of the oval used in NASCAR’s Daytona 500 and an infield road course, a combined 3.56 miles. This year’s race came in at 735 laps. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Start your engines...

If Dakar is what helps me get through the cold of January, it is the Rolex 24 at Daytona which officially kicks off the new motor racing season in my book.

Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona

There is a majesty about a 24 hour race... the sun setting, the lights coming on, and though the Grand-Am race is not at the level of a Le Mans event, it draws enough high-profile drivers and team owners from the U.S. scene to make it interesting.

Add to that a little celebrity (in the past Paul Newman, this year, TV’s McDreamy or whatever the heck Patrick Dempsey’s character is called), the legendary Daytona track, the banking, some top engines, night racing, what better way to ease yourself into a new racing season?

With a bunch of F1 cars launching and hitting the track in anger (BMW Sauber wrapping up the first week of testing today), a few more to launch, and just 60 days or so until Melbourne, it won’t be long now. Stateside, the IndyCar field is starting to form up. It is that moment when all things are possible. I say, bring it on!

Follow coverage of the Rolex 24 here and here. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Friday, January 23, 2009

Bourdais to get the nod?

Multiple sources are citing reports in the Swiss and French press that Sebastien Bourdais will be confirmed for Toro Rosso’s second seat in 2009.

Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix: Qualifying

This despite recent conjecture the replacement of a French language translation by Japanese on the STR Web site meant the Frenchman would be replaced by F1 exile Takuma Sato.

Formula One Testing In Barcelona

But thought the site currently lists Bourdais as one of the team’s drivers, STR would only say it would officially name a driver at some point in the future when it confirmed Red Bull product Sebastien Buemi earlier this month.

Heidfeld continues BMW test

Nick Heidfeld got his first crack behind the wheel of BMW Sauber’s F1.09, taking over for Robert Kubica Friday in Valencia.

Strong winds again hampered the test in the morning as the team once again adjusted its focus to reliability. It was able to work on mechanical setup when the weather improved in the afternoon.

The team wraps up the test Saturday.

Drivers protest fees

The Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) has asked drivers to delay signing for their superlicenses in protest of the latest raise in fees.

The fee rose this year from £9,430 ($12,867) to £9,798 ($13,369). The FIA is blaming safety costs.

With an additional £1,978 ($2,699) per point fee, up from £1,885 ($2,572), and £2,564 ($3,499) of compulsory insurance, all told, Lewis Hamilton will have to pay £206,416 ($281,654) this year according to the BBC. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rain-out in Portugal

The weather went sour again in Portugal, red-flagging the final day of testing and keeping Sebastien Buemi from topping the charts yet again.

At Valencia, Robert Kubica completed 116 laps in the F1.09. Wind conditions forced the team to focus on reliability.

Nick Heidfeld takes over for two more days of testing.

At Mugello, Felipe Massa took advantage of good weather conditions to put down 103 laps in the F60 before a hydraulic problem ended his day.

Testing continues in February, with Ferrari, BMW and Toyota in Bahrain and everyone else slated for Jerez.

Formula Two ‘wrong’

Bernie Ecclestone slammed Max Mosley’s plan for a new feeder series, saying it was done for “all the wrong reasons” -- namely to divert attention away from Mosley’s sex scandal.

In an interview with the Daily Express newspaper, Ecclestone fired away at the FIA chief’s assertion only the FIA will survive the economic crisis, claiming ‘without us there wouldn't be an FIA.’

Crash.net has a pretty good summary here.

I am the Stig

With everybody announcing they have discovered the man behind the helmet, Top Gear’s Transmission blog says they’re all wrong, revealing the Stig is really this guy...

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


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Buemi tops for third straight day

He waited until the final moment, but Sebastien Buemi once again topped testing in Portugal Wednesday.

F1 Winter Testing in Portugal

Finally getting the chance to run in the dry, Buemi again was running a 2008-spec Toro Rosso. He was joined by a pair of Toyotas, Fernando Alonso in the Renault and, for the first time this season, Lewis Hamilton in the new McLaren.

  1. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:27.987
  2. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:29.729
  3. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:30.242
  4. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:30.878
  5. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:31.743

At Mugello, Felipe Massa took over for Kimi Raikkonen as the weather continued to hamper the test. Massa set a best time of 1:33.353. And in Valencia, Robert Kubica continued to run the new BMW Sauber. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Testing continues...

Sebastien Buemi continues to top the charts at Algarve in his 2008-spec Toro Rosso.

F1 Winter Testing in Portugal

Four other teams were in action Tuesday, with Pedro de la Rosa leading the pack as they dodged the rains for a second day.

Toyota's Jarno Trulli, Nelson Piquet in the Renault and Nico Rosberg for Williams rounded out the five.

  1. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso 1:34.429
  2. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:37.512
  3. Jarno Trulli, Toyota 1:42.399
  4. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 1:45.860
  5. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:51.580

Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen was in action for Ferrari, setting a top time of 1:33.920 at Mugello. Felipe Massa takes over behind the wheel Wednesday. And Robert Kubica completed 73 laps to give the BMW Sauber F1.09 a proper shakedown at Valencia.

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


Quote of the day

Much noise has been made in the past year concerning Formula One teams wanting a bigger cut of the sport's revenue from the commercial rights holder. Bernie Ecclestone has summed up his feelings on the matter in one economic line in this story from Financial Times.

2009 Wroom F1 Press Meeting - Day 5

"We don't need to pay more. We've got to give them less."

'Nuff 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


BMW Sauber reveal F1.09

BMW Sauber launched its new F1.09 today at Valencia, the sixth team to reveal its 2009 car in the space of a week.

With Robert Kubica in the title hunt until the waning races of last season, and a 1-2 in Canada, big things are expected from the Hinwil-based team.

BMW 2009 F1 Launch

"We have set ourselves the task of further improving our performance relative to the rest of the field," said team boss Mario Theissen. "The one-two in Canada and a total of eleven podium finishes in 2008 set an exacting standard. In 2009 we are looking to maintain our first-class reliability record while at the same time enhancing our performance levels so that we can be at the front of the pack on a consistent basis."

Incumbents Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld return for 2009.

The car will be put through its paces today in Valencia. Get get your interactive fix and updates at the team's site.

Engine rules altered (slightly)

The FIA have changed the language on engine requirements for 2009.

The three race rule has been dropped. Instead each driver should use no more than eight engines this season, with no requirement as to the sequence they are used.

Multiple sources in the media have reported this has been confirmed by an FIA spokesman, but expect further clarification, as those same sources report both McLaren and Ferrari have questions as to the application of penalties.

F60 illegal?

Bring on the politics for 2009, as Auto Motor und Sport apparently is said to report the Ferrari's exhaust outlets circumvent the new aero rules.

Probably not a big one to worry about, if it is determined to be so the team should be able to easily modify the design. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Monday, January 19, 2009

Renault, Williams debut

Two more teams launched their 2009 challengers today, with Renault's R29 and Williams' FW31 hitting the track in Portugal

Both cars feature many of the design features Ferrari, Toyota and McLaren revealed last week in order to comply with the new regs.

Renault R29 F1 Launch

For Renault, the biggest change came in the predominantly bright yellow livery. The car also retains the "shark fin" engine cover, at least for now, changes are likely before Melbourne.

Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet return for 2009.

Williams FW31 F1 Launch

Williams debuted in a low-low-key way with test driver Nico Hulkenberg showing the car off at the Algarve Motor Park circuit in Portugal.

"It will be a very interesting year ahead. The new aero rules mean a different approach to the cars in a number if areas," Frank Williams said. "However, by the time we get to Melbourne, I would expect the usual suspects to still be dominating the top two positions. More importantly, I hope Williams will have made a significantly large step forward with the FW31."

Hulkenberg put in 17 wet-weather laps before he went off and damaged the nose.

Nico Rosberg takes over from Hulkenberg on Tuesday. Rosberg teams up with Kazuki Nakajima again in 2009.

Remaining launch schedule:
Jan. 20:
BMW Sauber
Feb. 9: Red Bull
TBA: Toro Rosso, Force India, "Honda"

Buemi leads first day of test

In what is beginning to sound like a broken record, Sebastien Buemi was fastest on the opening day of testing at Algarve Monday.

Wet conditions limited running, however, and Buemi was the only driver on track running 2008 machinery.

  1. Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:41.528
  2. de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:46.076
  3. Hulkenberg, Williams, 1:46.335
  4. Piquet, Renault, 1:48.907
  5. Kobayashi, Toyota, 1:50.989
Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Saturday, January 17, 2009

The four S’s of success

Ferrari and FOTA chief Luca di Montezemolo “happened” to bump into Bernie Ecclestone at an event in the Italian ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio.

2009 Wroom F1 Press Meeting - Day 5

Grandprix.com has the bulk of Ferrari head’s comments to the media (including a take on Bernie and thoughts on Ron Dennis), but the key topic was his view of the future of the sport.

“I think that this sport has four S's: stability, seriousness, spectacle and sustainability,” he said.

The specifics:

  • “Stability means not changing the rules every six months or every year. We need to plan ahead and the spectators remain puzzled by too many changes.
  • Seriousness, because you need a lot to be able to deal with difficult moments: we need to stay united and humble, without ever giving the impression that we're divided.
  • Spectacle means attention to the circuit layouts, to enable overtaking, to the sporting rules, but also to the use of new technologies such as the Internet, high definition TV and much more that you can introduce in this field.
  • Sustainability, because no company can stay alive if costs and earnings don't balance.”

The two chieftains met over lunch, one would assume to discuss that future. Oh, and revenue. Definitely revenue.

MP4-24 hits the track

Pedro de la Rosa put the new MP4-24 though its paces today in Portugal.

The Spaniard covered 18 laps, setting a top time of 1:28.719.

"It's always an exciting moment when you get behind the wheel of a brand new car for the first time - and, given the extent of the rule changes we've addressed over the winter, today was more tense than usual," he said. "However, I'm happy to report that the car behaved just as we believed it would from our data and we carried out a number of runs, gaining in confidence as we ran through a number of systems checks."

The real deal starts Monday, with de la Rosa handing over to Lewis Hamilton on Wednesday and Heikki Kovalainen on Thursday.

De Villiers takes “Dakar,” Gordon on the podium

Giniel De Villiers won the Dakar Rally championship for Volkswagen Saturday.

Marc Coma (bikes), Josef Machacek (quad), and Firdaus Kabirov (trucks) took the other top slots.

American Robby Gordon picked up his first podium in five tries in the event, finishing third in his Team Dakar USA Hummer. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Friday, January 16, 2009

McLaren breaks out 2009 challenger

McLaren lifted the cover on its 2009 challenger, the MP4-24, today at the team’s Technology Centre in Woking.

McLaren Mercedes MP4-24 Launch

“It is actually the first time I have seen car and think it looks beautiful,” ITV quotes champion Lewis Hamilton. “The team always manages to put together a stunning car.”

The Briton will again be joined by Heikki Kovalainen behind the wheel this season. The Finn will be looking to improve on what was a challenging 2008 campaign.

“Overall I learnt a lot last year, there are lot of positives which can take into this year,” ITV reports Kovalainen said. “As soon as year was finished I started to work towards this season to prepare better. I know everybody here now it and it is a much more stable place to start the season. I am looking forward to the season and hopefully we can have better year and myself as well.”

Ron Dennis also took the opportunity to announce he was giving up the Team Principal role, handing over to Martin Whitmarsh. Dennis will remain chairman and CEO of the McLaren Group.

“It is absolutely time for Martin to take over the job of team principal and as of the 1st of March, Martin will have that responsibility,” ITV quotes Dennis. “I will still be going to races, not all of them, because I’m still passionate about Formula 1... But it is time to hand over and I have to say it is absolutely 100% my decision, it’s what I want to do.”
Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Toyota unveil 2009 car

Toyota launched the TF109, and restated its commitment to the sport, in an online movie premier-like ceremony Thursday.

The team is the second to introduce its challenger, built to meet the new 2009 regulations, but team president John Howett said the car was an extension of all it has learned in the past few seasons.

“We have gained a huge amount of knowledge and improved considerably," Howett said. "There are many elements of our team which are at the very highest level so the challenge now is to fill any gaps and ensure the entire organisation is performing at the very top. Then we must put all the elements together and deliver the success we are all fighting so hard for.”

Toyota's 56 points in 2008 were the most it has scored since 2005, and more than 2006 and 2007 combined. The team is targeting a bigger prize in 2009.

“Our target this year is to fight to win the first race for Toyota in Formula 1,” Team Principal Tadashi Yamashina said.

Toyota, like all auto manufacturers, is feeling the economic crunch, but sought to alleviate fears it could follow Honda out of the sport.

“It is vitally important to have a detailed knowledge of what is driving costs, then you need to be able to prioritise the areas which bring value or performance. A lean company must have a culture of waste reduction and constant improvement," Howett said. “Happily, these are all factors which Toyota puts particular emphasis on, even in prosperous economic times, so I am confident we are in good shape.”

Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock will be at the wheel again this season when the team lines up on the grid at Melbourne.

“I still have plenty I want to achieve in Formula 1 but my dream now is to win the first race for Toyota,” Trulli said.

Glock, who surged last season with a string of strong performances, doesn't think the new regulations will pose much of a problem this year.

“If you look back at the cars I have been racing for the last five years they have all been quite different, with the 2004 Jordan, then Champ Car, GP2 and the Toyota TF108, and I have been competitive in each of them,” he explained. “That shows how quickly I can adapt to a different car so I don’t have any concerns at all about adjusting to the 2009-style Formula 1 cars. I am sure the other drivers will adapt quickly as well but I certainly expect to hit the ground running.”
Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Toyota set for Webtastic launch

Welcome to the age of the Internet - Toyota style.

Toyota reveals its 2009 challenger tomorrow, but instead of doing it the traditional way with a costly extravaganza, the world is invited to watch via

“The environment in Formula 1 has changed and continues to change. Panasonic Toyota Racing is committed to reducing the cost of Formula 1 while retaining its essential DNA but we are also constantly evolving in other ways, and one of our priorities is to share our passion for motorsport with the public," Panasonic Toyota Racing President John Howett said. “Formula 1 enjoys the loyal and enthusiastic support of millions of people throughout the world and we cannot forget that these fans are the lifeblood of our sport. This year we feel it is important to allow fans to share the excitement of a new car premiere, especially when the new rules for 2009 have created such a sense of anticipation.

So bookmark now, and make you're there at 12 noon CET to see our second launch of the season. Hey, it's cost friendly, with side benefits... Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Honda's future owners: Brawn and Fry?

Rumors are picking up steam that the future owners of the Honda F1 team may well be its current management.

Grandprix.com makes a compelling case for A Fry/Brawn buyout for Honda, citing the effect on Honda's image a costly shut down of the team and the subsequent loss of jobs would incur as a sufficient incentive to assist Fry and Brawn in purchasing the team.

Ross Brawn , Team Principle , Honda Racing F1 Team and Nick Fry , Honda Racing F1 Team, Chief Executive Officer during during testing in Jerez

A Honda-assisted buyout could be advantageous, the site argues: the cost could be spread out over several years for the new management, while offering a return on Honda's investment and provide an opening for the company to reinvest at some future date.

The other rumor mentioned by the site is the possibility of investment from Michael Schumacher, though the seven-times World Champion has denied interest.

Grandprix.com believes whoever buys the team, it will likely be powered by Mercedes, now that Ferrari has removed itself from discussions. Negotiations are believed to be well along, according to the site.

Norbert Haug said recently such a deal would have to be "100 percent bulletproof."

Sources are saying the team's future will be resolved in the next few days. Brawn has said it will take about six weeks to modify the car to take a new engine, so decisions need to be made soon if the team is to be on the grid at Melbourne. 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


What a difference a year makes...

Imagine you are the most dominant driver in Champ Car history, suddenly given your lifelong dream of driving in Formula 1.

One year later, not only does it look likely you will be dropped from your F1 ride, chances are good there won’t be any opportunities to drive back in the States, either.

Chinese Formula One Grand Prix: Race

That is the dilemma facing Sebastien Bourdais, the classic victim of a driver paired up with an emerging talent and a team woefully lacking in the ability to develop a driver.

Well into January with no word on whether he will retain his seat (a rookie confirmed just the other day with a cryptic message at the bottom of the release saying a teammate will be named before Melbourne), Bourdais would be forgiven to consider looking for a job in IndyCar.

But with Penske settling on Will Power to hold down Helio Castroneves’ seat while the Brazilian faces charges on income tax evasion, one coveted seat is gone.

Meanwhile, crash.net reports former employer Newman Haas Lanigan is seriously considering Robert Doornbos.

With a difficult economy having its effect on the number of seats available, and what a team will pay to fill them, a driver with Bourdais’ resume could find himself out in the cold.

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


Monday, January 12, 2009

Ferrari launch!

Ferrari launched its 2009 contender, called the F60, at the Mugello test track today. The team had been set to launch at Fiorano, but snow forced the change in plan.

Ferrari are the first to launch this season, and thus the first to give us a glimpse of what cars will look like under the radical new 2009 regulations.

Felipe Massa demonstrated the car over two laps on the circuit, and revealed the car was full of surprises for him.

“I expected it to be big, but it's small like a Formula Three car.” the BBC quotes last year’s championship runner-up. “I expected it to (have) huge (front) wings like they were 10 years ago. The new F60 seems tiny, very compact and cute. I feel emotional but I'm also happy to take it out on track for the first time.”

The car carries the F60 moniker to pay tribute to Ferrari’s 60th year in the sport.

See the Official Ferrari F60 launch page, with photos, video, interviews and specs, here.

Ferrari engines for ex-Honda team now look remote

Ferrari has all but ruled out supplying engines to whomever buys the Honda F1 team.

“The chance of us supplying engines to Honda is close to zero,” team boss Stefano Domenicali told Reuters at Ferrari's 2009 launch.

Reports earlier in the month had Honda F1 team principal Ross Brawn in contact with Ferrari over an engine supply, and the Scuderia had seemed receptive to the idea at the time.

Official 2009 entry list

The FIA has released the official entry list for the 2009 season, it can be found here. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Renault fails crash test

Renault confirmed the R29 failed mandatory FIA crash tests, but insist the 2009 car will launch on schedule.

“It is something not at all unusual,” autosport.com quotes a team spokeswoman. “However, we have identified the problem and solved it. The car will be testing in Algarve on January 19.”

The site quotes sources saying the car failed two of three tests - nose and side impact - and that the team may even have written off one of their chassis.

Autosport.com opines Renault are trying to shed weight to compensate for the addition of their KERS.

Crash test failures are not uncommon, however, and there is no reason at this point to question the team’s confidence the car will launch on the 19th. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Friday, January 9, 2009

Teams move forward on cost cuts

F1’s teams ratified various cost-cutting plans at Thursday’s FOTA meeting at Heathrow.

All teams were present, with the exception of Force India.

  • Plans to cut testing in 2009
  • To supply low-cost engines for independents from 2010
  • Develop low-cost transmissions for the 2010-12 seasons
  • Eliminate the use of expensive materials, components and systems

"All the teams are committed to working together in a rational and systematic manner within the framework of FOTA to effectively reduce the costs inherent in Formula One,” the BBC reports FOTA said in a statement.
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


Buemi confirmed

In a move that surprised no one, Toro Rosso officially confirmed Sebastien Buemi for 2009.

Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Formula 1 Testing, Jerez

Buemi, 20, raced in GP2 last season. The Swiss driver has close ties to Red Bull, and served as third driver last season with the parent team.

“I am naturally very happy to be driving for Scuderia Toro Rosso this year,” he said on the team's Web site. “Being a Formula 1 driver has always been my target, since I first started racing. This year, I will do all I can to bring home the best possible results and to show Red Bull that the confidence it has shown in me is justified.”

Buemi will have some big shoes to fill, replacing Sebastian Vettel, who graduated to the Red Bull squad after delivering STR’s first ever win.

Buemi’s appointment leaves just one question: who has the second seat? The site would only say this:

“An announcement about who will be Buemi’s team-mate will be made at some point before the Australian Grand Prix!”

Huh. Let's hope so.

Donington gets the go-ahead

North West Leicestershire District Council gave permission to Donington Park owner Simon Gillett to start work on improvements to the circuit necessary to stage the 2010 British Grand Prix. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Prodrive out of Honda talks

If Honda's F1 team is to have a savior, it will not be David Richards and Prodrive.

Formula One Monaco Grand Prix

Autosport.com reports Richards, long considered the front-runner, has ruled himself out.

The site surmises the high cost of success in the sport gave Richards cold feet.

"All I can say is that I have made it very clear that the only terms (under which) I would ever consider a return or an involvement was if I felt we could be competitive - and nobody expects to win in their first year of Formula One," Richards said at the Autosport International Show. "It has also got to be financially viable. You expect to (have to) invest but you also expect it to work. I just personally feel that the current environment is too unsettled."

While Richards had kind words for the sport's cost-cutting moves to date, he said he didn't think they went far enough.

He also stressed future involvement in F1 would be a business decision.

"We were runner up that year behind Ferrari, and everyone assumes I would be motivated to go back for the last push. That is not what motivates me at all," he explained. "It will be a business decision. It will be a hard-headed business decision, not an emotive one when I make 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


Mosley wants more cost cuts

Max Mosley continues to hammer home his cost cutting message, asking FOTA for additional ways to cut costs in a letter to chair Luca di Montezemolo ahead of the organization's Thursday meeting.

"Even before the current crisis, F1 was not viable," the BBC quotes Mosley. "It is impossible to cut costs without change. Cherished projects, facilities and sadly even people have to go."

Mosley wants a championship which isn't dependent on manufacturers or billionaires to survive.

"Costs must be reduced to a point where a well-run independent team can operate profitably with just Formula One Management money and very moderate sponsorship."

Italian Formula One Grand Prix: Race

FOTA and the FIA recently agreed to several measures to slash spending, including making available inexpensive engines for independents.

At this stage, FOTA appears receptive to Mosley's call, including the possibility of a spending cap, if it can be fairly applied.

"The idea that each team should have the same amount of money, so that success is simply a function of intellectual ability, has great appeal," di Montezemolo said. "If properly enforced, it would be a very fair system. Indeed one view is that having much more money than a rival team is just as unfair as having a bigger engine. We should like to discuss this further with FOTA."

Honda talks continue

Hungarian F1 Grand Prix - Qualifying

Meanwhile, autosport.com reports there are 12 serious parties interested in purchasing the Honda team, far more than three or four thought to be involved earlier.

CEO Nick Fry confirmed the number to the Web site at the Cleaner Racing Conference at Autosport International.

"It's looking very positive at the moment. We had, as you might expect, a huge amount of interest at the start - probably well in excess of 30 groups came to us," he told the site. "We have narrowed that down to something in the region of a dozen, and we're currently talking to Honda about what is the best bet for the future."

Fry sounds optimistic, and believes chances are very good the team will be on the grid in Melbourne.

Read the full story here.

Donington deadlines

Not surprisingly, it has been revealed Donington Park has a limited time to prove it can push through the necessary upgrades to keep the British Grand Prix.

Bernie Ecclestone told the Daily Telegraph newspaper the circuit has until September to meet certain criteria in the contract to keep the race.

"They [DVLL] have a contract with us that I am sure they understand, and I would imagine they have considered the state of the market and have a fall-back position." Ecclestone said. "I am relying on what they told me they will deliver, and we have a September deadline, from memory, to see that all is as it should be. If it is not then we have four or five venues ready to stage a race."

DVLL won the rights to the race away from Silverstone, publicly trashed for years by Ecclestone, from 2010, but a steep hill must be climbed to make it a reality: circuit upgrades, ticket sales and transportation chief among them.

While Donington officials express optimism, circuits with far more infrastructure in place have faced the ax in recent years, and it is a very likely possibility the country which is home to so much of the sport could find itself without a race in two years time.

Here's hoping it doesn't come to that… Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Brawn, Ferrari confirm discussions

Ross Brawn has confirmed this week the soon-to-be former Honda squad has talked to Ferrari about engines for 2009.

This really isn't a surprise, given the Scuderia has supported multiple teams in the past, as well as Brawn's ties to the Prancing Horse.

"We haven't signed anything yet but I really appreciated the support from president Luca di Montezemolo and Stefano Domenicali. It's like being among former schoolmates: they still see me as one of their own," Brawn is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Japanese Formula One Grand Prix: Practice

Ferrari supplied engines to Toro Rosso and Force India last season, but would seem to have some availability with Vijay Mallya's team moving to Mercedes power for 2009.

"They (the former Honda team) have asked us if we are able to provide engines and we said yes," Reuters quotes a Ferrari spokesman. "That's it, nothing more."

Brawn also noted the team will miss the bulk of winter testing until the engine matter is settled.

"There's no hurry because modifying the car to install a different engine requires at least six weeks of work anyway. It's unlikely we'll manage to be on track during the winter.

Grandprix.com points out, however, Ferrari are not the team's only choice, but surmises last year's Ferrari and Mercedes power plants were the cream of the crop. 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


Proving the critics wrong

F1 Wolf reports in the last year, most of his visitors came from the UK. Not surprising, right? What is surprising is the US and Canada were a close second and third.

Meanwhile, F1 is making a big impression in the US-dominated 2008 Weblog Awards, with Sidepodcast nominated in two categories and F1 Fanatic and BlogF1 both receiveing nominations.

Interesting. And I thought we didn't care about F1.

So, here's a chance to show the world we really do care about this sport. Head over to the Weblog Awards and vote! You'll be doing a good turn for the F1 blogging and podcasting community, and saying "In your face, Bernie and Max!" at the same time. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Monday, January 5, 2009

Jackie Stewart fires away at Bernie, Max

Jackie Stewart is back on the attack, slamming Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley for the way the run the sport.

Few people connected with the sport can “tell it like it is” without serious ramifications, but Sir Jackie is one who appears to have earned that right, so beloved inside and outside the Formula 1 world he can be brutally honest with his opinion.

Canadian Formula One Grand Prix: Practice

And “brutally honest” is a good description, as the Scot lets Ecclestone and Mosley have it with both barrels on a number of subjects in an interview with The Times.

“The era of big change is now essential because the sport has grown larger than either the governors or the commercial-rights holders. And that's just a fact,” Stewart said.

Chief among Stewart’s criticism of Ecclestone is the aging F1 chief has no exit strategy.

“I don't think Bernie can bring people in to help him in a transition phase. He has been so used to total control that if you look at his structure you have to ask yourself 'is there a successor?' and you would say ‘no,’ he said. “That is wrong. The commercial reality has to be recognised ... and there has be continuity that the aging process makes necessary.”

Singapore Formula One Grand Prix: Race

Additionally, Stewart complains that Ecclestone’s and Mosley’s relationship (commercial vs. regulatory) is too buddy-buddy for the good of the sport.

“They haven't looked after the house properly and the foundations are built on just this two-man working relationship. This has evoked concern and apprehension on the part of those involved in the sport,” he continued. “When Max Mosley had the scandal erupt around him, how many team principals or owners spoke out? None. Why, you may ask? When McLaren were, according to some, victimised, how many of the other teams thought, 'That could be us, we must stand behind them.' Who did? In fear of repercussions, nobody did.”

But the big problem, Stewart says, is how much money finds its way into their pockets as opposed to the teams.

"Nothing is coming back into the sport," said Stewart. "The financial distribution of Formula One appears to have been sorted out by two people who have directed it in whichever way they have seen fit.”

He also said it is “ridiculous” the series will not appear in North America this season, and panned Ecclestone’s medals idea.

Then Stewart fired away at Mosley, who once called him a “certified half-wit” who dressed like a “music hall artist,” calling for his resignation.

“I think Max should remove himself from the FIA completely and from motorsport and the motor industry," he says. "The FIA should replace him with somebody not from within its organisation or even within motorsport.”

This should certainly spark some responses this week, and conveniently carry us through to launch season.

In other news...

  • Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Ryan Briscoe will drive Penske’s entry at the 2009 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Practice is well under way for the Grand-Am season kickoff Jan. 24-25. Full coverage on the official site.
  • GP Update reports former STR boss Gerhard Berger let drop in an interview with Swiss magazine Blick “for 2009 the team has a good and fast driver in Buemi indeed.”
  • The site also reports Jos Verstappen received a fine and a suspended sentence for threatening his ex-wife
  • Ferrari reveals it will launch the F2009 January 12, with lots of supporting coverage on the Ferrari World Web site.
  • Mark Webber is back in training and aims to return to action for Red Bull by early next month, Setanta reports he told German publication Auto Motor und Sport.
  • Setanta also reports Fernando Alonso's agent, Luis Garcia Abad, said the double world champion was not in his private plane when it hit a building while preparing to take off and suffered a broken wing in Kenya.
  • Dakar is under way. Keep up to date on the official site.
Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Friday, January 2, 2009

F1 Roundup 1/2/09

Every now and then, Bernie Ecclestone opens up with an off the wall opinion.

This time the F1 ringmaster has voiced his view on Jenson Button,
who finds his future up in the air with Honda’s withdrawal from the sport.

The 78-year-old said in the Daily Telegraph he believes Button would do better to take a year off than tool around with a backmarker, and that it is a “pity” he signed a three-year deal with Honda.


Ecclestone pleased Schumacher won’t race Superbikes

F1-Live reports Ecclestone told Gulf News it is "good news" seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher has turned down the chance to race for Honda in the Superbike world championship.

“He wouldn't be able to race or ride round just for show, he'd have to give it a real go and that could be dangerous,” he said.

Honda Racing's Carlo Fiorani was quoted recently in La Gazzetta dello Sport as saying all Schumacher had to do was say the word and a ride was his.

Hamilton honored

Lewis Hamilton felt “humbled” by being announced an MBE in the Queen's New Year Honors.

“It is a massive honour and incredible privilege to receive an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen,” said Hamilton told the BBC.

Alonso turned down Ferrari for ’09?

According to F1-Live, Spanish newspaper Diario AS reports Fernando Alonso chose loyalty to Renault over an opportunity to replace Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari next season.

That would seem to support Eddie Irvine’s belief Raikkonen needs to step up his game.

Fox reports Irv the Swerve warned the Finn if he doesn’t, he will be fired or have his salary slashed by Maranello.

Ralf: “Nobody should be worried about me”

After a disappointing season in DTM, it is looking increasingly likely Ralf Schumacher will be without a ride for 2009.

F1-Live cites a report in German newspaper Bild the lesser Schumacher’s attempts to extend his contract have not paid off, and he may be looking at other vocations, possibly yacht racing.

Bourdais to Penske?

With the future of Helio Castroneves (facing tax evasion charges) up in the air, Roger Penske’s IRL effort is looking at options.

One possibility? Sebastien Bourdais, whose STR future remains undecided. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy 2009!

Happy New Year from SpeedRead! Being originally from the Philadelphia area, that means Mummers!

But here’s something that is a little more to the subject:

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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