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Saturday, February 28, 2009

VJM02 revealed

Force India has revealed its new car and 2009 livery ahead of the car's first public showing at Jerez tomorrow.

Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 with the new Force India F1 VJM02. Force India F1 VJM02 Launch Studio Shoot Rollout Force India VJM02

It’s a national color scheme for the Mercedes-powered VJM02, which was shaken down Wednesday at a private session at Silverstone.

Vijay Mallya is taking a more hands-on approach this season, parting ways with Mike Gascoyne and team principal Colin Kolles, perhaps the new paint job is another step in putting a difficult 2008 season behind him.

Drivers strike looks remote

Drivers appear to be footing the hefty bill for their superlicence fees, heading off fears there would be an impasse before the season opener at Melbourne.

Grandprix.com analyzes the situation, and adds a little about the history of drivers’ strikes.

Kyle Busch would consider F1, but first things first

NASCAR’s Kyle Busch, speaking to reporters ahead of Sunday’s Cup race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, said he might be tempted to try F1 once he has won the Sprint Cup title.

“It's something I'd love to take a shot at one day,” Busch is quoted by Autosport.com. “Hopefully, one of these days I'll get a chance to drive one and see if I'm good at it. It's not quite time for me to do that yet," he said. “If I could win a championship here in the next two or three years, then I wouldn't mind going over there and doing that, trying it for a few years and coming back.”

The 23-year-old’s name was mentioned in a list of potential drivers by USF1’s Peter Windsor on Tuesday’s press conference.

“I think I would still be young enough where, if I could win a championship by 25, go run Formula One for a couple of years and be back by 28, I've still got plenty of time left to run in NASCAR,” said Busch, who feels it would be easier for him to adapt to an F1 car than for an F1 driver to adapt to a stock car.

Busch had been slated to test a Toyota over the winter, but had to pull out when NASCAR would not release him out of a Nationwide Series awards event. 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, February 27, 2009

Honda OKs buyout? (updated)

The Telegraph newspaper reports Honda have given the all-clear for the proposed management buy-out of their Formula One team.

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

This much we know:

ITV reports the team will test at Silverstone next week, giving the new car a shakedown (this would seem to imply it has an engine), then move on to the group test March 9 in Barcelona..

Jenson Button has a contract in place, and still looks to be teamed up with either Bruno Senna or Rubens Barrichello. Senna might bring sponsorship, so he may have an edge.


Autoweek reports the team is set to be renamed Brawn Sport (sounds like a shaver). Correspondent Adam Cooper says Brawn shares an equal share in the team with Nick Fry, and three other directors are also involved.

Button is said to have taken a hefty paycut.

According to Cooper, Honda will still pick up a major share of the tab for 2009, as was rumored in recent weeks, a cheaper alternative to Honda than shutting the team down and paying off the staff.

Additional money will come from Formula One Management TV money, which may be paid in advance rather than in the customary installments.

Still, the team will face sizable cuts in staff, who may have preferred getting paid off by Honda than by the new team.


The Times talks about what Jenson Button’s desire to be World Champion has cost him. 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, February 26, 2009

Williams: USGP return a ways off

Frank Williams thinks it will be a while before we see the USGP back on the calendar.

Speaking at an AT&T media event, Williams said he thinks no track currently meets Bernie Ecclestone’s standards, and was inclined to agree with him.

F1 Grand Prix of USA

“There are some good layouts in America, really demanding circuits but the safety features don't compare at all to what is required by the (governing) FIA or the GPDA (drivers' association),” Reuters quotes Williams.

With a number of events slated to be added to the calendar over the next few years, a return to North America would probably come at the expense of a traditional race.

“We're a little bit full I think for the next few years,” he said. “Something in Europe may have to go and we sincerely hope it's not (Britain).”

Stoddart has USF1 doubts

One man who has his doubts about the planned USF1 team is former Minardi boss Paul Stoddart, who predicts the team will struggle for sponsorship and should be based in Britain.

“I believe we are a year or two away from getting the costs (in Formula One) completely under control and I don't believe that new teams will come from the U.S., I think they will come from within Europe,” he said in an grinchy interview with Reuters.

Stoddart, who ran a Champ Car team for a year, also thinks sponsorship will be a hard sell in a country without a race.

“Very few Americans care terribly much about Formula One... and I certainly found it harder to get money over here than in Europe. Indeed, impossible,” he said.

Regardless, the team’s founders insist they have the funding in place and will be ready to go in 2010.

STR to test new car next week

Toro Rosso will break the cover on the new STR4 in a private test in Italy next week
, ITV reports.

The car, which will likely resemble the RB5 with a Ferrari bolted on the back, will make its track debut at the Adria circuit in northern Italy.

The team will then join the rest of the teams at Barcelona March 9-12. 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, February 25, 2009

Williams OK despite RBS pullout

Williams CEO Adam Parr has assured the team is still in good shape though title sponsor Royal Bank of Scotland will not renew its deal when it expires in 2010.

Certainly this is anything but surprising. The troubled bank had to be bailed out by the government last year.

F1 Testing Sessions

Williams has also lost Lenovo, Baugar and Petrobras in the past year.

But Parr is confident the partners the team has retained, including four that upped their deals, in combination with cost-cutting measures the sport has adopted will make up the difference.

“Overall we have a solid budget for next year, but we are also in advanced negotiations with other partners,” ITV reports he said. “For 2010 we have 90% of the sponsorship for this year confirmed for next year and we will have further significant cost savings...I’m confident that for 2011 we will have a strong sponsorship roster. No individual sponsor is make-or-break for us.”

“Honda” will test next week

BBC Sport reports the team that was Honda will test next week at Jerez, adding fuel to hopes a deal will soon be reached and the team will be on the grid at Melbourne.

The BBC says team members have been told a deal is close, and quotes a “senior” source with the team saying the contracts are signed and it is in the hands of the lawyers.

Still to be resolved would be an engine deal, but according to the source, that’s covered.

“There's no way we'd go to any test without an engine deal,” the source is quoted. “If we're going to Jerez, it means it's a done deal.”

Make of that what you will. This would seem to fit with reports of transporters on the move, but we certainly haven’t been short of speculation, so let’s see how it all plays out. 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, February 24, 2009

The quick and dirty Honda update

Rest assured, everything is going to plan, according to “high level sources” who spoke to autosport.com.

This would seem to go against the bleak statement made yesterday by outgoing Honda CEO Takeo Fukui.

The sources report a management buyout still seems the most likely option, and contrary to rumor, reports Nick Fry has been forced out are ‘premature.’

F1 Testing - Day One

Meanwhile, despite bad mouthing F1 in the press last weekend, “A1” Tony Teixeira remains interested in getting a team on the grid.

The A1GP boss revealed to autosport.com he had been in recent talks to purchase Honda Racing, and has also passed on deals with Spyker and Toro Rosso in the past.

He says he is now leaning toward starting a new team in Portugal, possibly funded by the Portuguese government.

Teixeira owns land near the Portimao circuit. 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



The USF1 team announcement:

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, February 23, 2009

Windsor on "Wind Tunnel"

Peter Windsor talks USF1 on Speed TV's "Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain."

SPEED will broadcast press conference from their studios in Charlotte with F1 broadcaster Bob Varsha, Ken Anderson and Windsor. Mario Andretti and Dan Gurney are also scheduled to participate.

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


No buyer yet for Honda

We are all awaiting an announcement from Honda concerning the future of the team, and if the announcement was “not yet,” then we got it.

With just over a month before the season starts at Melbourne, things are looking increasingly dire for the Brackley squad.

Honda Revise Fiscal Year 2008 Forecast

“There are various offers for the team but we haven't seen any serious buyer,” Honda president Takeo Fukui is quoted by the BBC. “We find the sale process difficult.”

It was thought the two offers being considered for the team were Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group or a management buyout.

Branson said he might be interested, but he would want to see the sport become cheaper and greener, first.

Reports over the weekend also revealed the management buyout group turned down an offer to help from Bernie Ecclestone.

James Allen’s blog addresses some of the rumors circulating the Interwebs concerning the management buyout (sans Nick Fry?), and also discusses what may have been the real motivation for Bernie to buy into the team, and why he was turned down.

Spygate comes to an end

Legal proceedings against McLaren employees in Italy were officially dropped Monday, putting an end top the scandal which rocked the 2007 season.

Italian prosecutors in Modena dropped charges against former McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan and current employees Paddy Lowe, Jonathan Neale and Rob Taylor as part of an agreement reached late last year.

The FIA closed the case following a December 2007 apology by McLaren, and Ferrari and McLaren resolved the remaining issues between them last summer.

Force India set to reveal ’09 car

Force India will debut the VJM02 Sunday at Jerez

Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil will both get a taste of the Mercedes-powered challenger over the course of the week.

In addition to the power plant, Mercedes is providing the KERS device and gearbox. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Sunday, February 22, 2009

If you build it, we will come... but only if you do it right

Time is ticking down, and in less than two days, Ken Anderson, Peter Windsor and company at USF1 are set to make an announcement concerning the new team live on Speed TV.

A countdown timer and message are up on the Web site, thanking fans for support and touting the aims of the project.

“Proving that American technology, American drivers and the American competitive spirit can compete and win on the F1 global stage has been our mission for several years now. And, judging by the overwhelming response we have received from F1 fans both in the US and worldwide, from within the F1 industry and from the US hi-tech industry, we think that many of you agree with us.”

I can’t speak for other fans, but I can’t believe I’m the only one who is looking at this whole thing with a mixture of hope and trepidation. If we are going to do this thing, we need to do it right.

With the exception of those of us who might be called gearheads, I think it is safe to say most people in this country are unaware this is happening. Most of America is unaware of a sport called Formula 1, for pete’s sake. A race in the States for close to a decade did little to make a dent on the mainstream.

Throwing out the fact that the bulk of the schedule airs when many are at church, F1 competes with a slough of popular family and entertainment diversions every other Sunday.

The majority of U.S. sports fans aren’t suddenly going to tune into watch a backmarker or a ‘B’ team. They will not take long-term interest in a PR gimmick, so forget the Danica Patricks. And let’s face it, USF1 is not going to challenge McLaren or Ferrari.

So don’t aim for Joe Six-Pack. That’s the mistake Major League Soccer made in its early years - modifying the rules to make it more “American” - which failed to attract the average sports fan and ticked off the diehard football fan.

Play to your audience. We are a small slice of a broad U.S. sports landscape, but an enthusiastic one, and a small slice of the U.S. market is the equivalent of a large slice of many other country’s sports markets. It’s just the nature of things on this side of the Atlantic, something Bernie Ecclestone doesn’t grasp. Hopefully, someone like Peter Windsor, who had been part of the Speed TV F1 coverage for the last several years, does.

If you do it right, if you are competitive, if you promote American talent, you will win us over.

Renault looks to India?

Even as some believe Renault may bo on its way out of F1, especially after losing title sponsor ING, a report out of India says the team is in talks with an Indian multinational for sponsorship. The Economic Times reports.

Malaysia locks in twilight race

Bernie Ecclestone’s preference for the Far East may be night races like the one in Singapore, but Malaysian Grand Prix organizers said Thursday they will host a "twilight" race until the current contract runs out in 2015, arguing floodlighting is too costly. AFP reports.

Teixeira: F1 is stealing our ideas

A1GP chief Tony Teixeira, his series reeling from the widespread economic crisis, is bashing F1 again. Speaking from Kyalami this weekend, he compared F1 to professional wrestling, lacking in credibility. He goes on to say the sport’s move to a single tire supplier, the tightening of engine specs and the emergence of teams like Force India are blatant copies of the A1GP blueprint. The Times reports.

“Instead of copying all the ideas from A1GP — just buy me out!” Teixeira said. “Everything we are is what Formula 1 is trying to be ...”

Williams opposes wind tunnel limits

The Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) is looking at limiting wind tunnel use as part of its cost cutting measures, but Frank Williams opposes such a move, believing it will leave his team at a disadvantage. Autosport.com reports.

Honda snubbed Bernie

Honda bosses Ross Brawn and Nick Fry apparently turned down a £100million rescue offer from Bernie Ecclestone. News of the World reports. 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, February 21, 2009

Branson finally speaks

We've heard a lot about Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson's interest in F1, especially through Bernie Ecclestone, but until now, the tycoon was eerily quiet on the subject.

Finally, he speaks, via Sky. And he doesn't necessarily sound as keen as Bernie might like us all to believe.

"I love Formula One. I think that there are faults there that would need to be rectified before we moved into Formula One," he said.

Key among Branson's interests, Bernie in control and a promise of a "greener" championship.

F1 Nov 2008

Time is quickly running out, with little over a month before the 2009 season kicks off in Melbourne, an engine deal waiting to be finalized, jobs at stake and a management team waiting for an answer on its own buyout bid.

Monday has been mentioned as a deadline for a decision, with Honda refusing to take shutting the team down off the table.

This much is certain, Honda considers something preferable to an in-house buyout, maybe even shutting down the team. Not exactly a vote of confidence for Brawn, Fry and company.

There are rumors of activity around Brackley, so maybe a deal is imminent. But Branson doesn't sound like a man committed to anything, and Prodrive already backed out of a deal earlier this year when everyone thought it was just a matter of dotted i's and crossed t's.

I'm with Bernie. I'm not betting on this one either way, yet.

In other news:

Former Champ Car ace AJ Allmendinger says he is happy in NASCAR and is not interested in the possibility of a ride with USF1, autosport.com reports.

Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing has announced Robert Doornbos will drive for the team in the 2009 IndyCar Series season. Doornbos, of course, drove for Minardi and Red Bull before moving to Champ Car in 2007. 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, February 20, 2009

Indian insecurity?

With the F1 world focused on the future of the Honda F1 team, a big story making the rounds in the business world could ultimately have an effect on the grid, as well.

Vijay Mallya's United Spirits Ltd. and Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. have made him one of India's wealthiest and most-recognized businessmen -- an image he cultivates with a Formula One auto-racing team, parties with Bollywood actors and liberal use of his nickname. Yet this week, with his airline logging millions of dollars in losses and United Spirits' liquidity dropping sharply, Mr. Mallya and his partners put some of their own shares on the line to keep both businesses afloat. -- U.S. News & World Report

Australian Formula One Grand Prix: Practice

Mallya is prepared to offer a stake of more than 15 percent and board representation in United Spirits to Diageo, the world's largest alcoholic drinks group, Reuters reports.

Diageo would confirm the talks but could not guarantee a deal would be struck.

Reports speculate the proceeds would be used to reduce United Spirits' debt of $1.2 billion from its 2007 purchase of Scottish spirits maker Whyte & Mackay.

The effects on Mallya's Force India team may be remote at the moment, but even at reduced cost, Formula 1 is still dependent on the deep pockets of its owners. Mallya's pockets are only as deep as his businesses are successful.

In other news...
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, February 19, 2009

Bernie backs Branson

Bernie Ecclestone told Reuters he has been in contact with Richard Branson's Virgin Group, and the mogul is definitely interested in F1, autosport.com reports.

And the F1 ringmaster wants him.

“I've spoken to Richard's people about it. He would love to do it,” Ecclestone is quoted. “I'd like it very much. It would be super. We're working to try to make it happen.”

Sports News - February 18, 2009

Autosport.com believes it is down to Branson or the Fry/Brawn buyout, with it up to Honda as to who gets the team. Shutting the team down is also an option.

On this one, Ecclestone isn’t a gambling man.

“I have no idea which way it will go. I wouldn't bet on it either way,” he said.

Patrick “flattered”

IndyCar’s Danica Patrick says she is “flattered” to be considered a contender for a seat with an upstart USF1 team.

USF1’s Ken Anderson told the Associated Press earlier this week he was interested in the star.

Patrick, in a story in Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper that was filled with a lot of maybes and we’ll-sees, admitted she was surprised by the mention. She didn’t seem put off by the fact Anderson said nothing about her driving ability, only her media impact.

“There weren't any quotes from me because they haven't spoken to me,” ITV quotes Patrick. “It's very flattering. I think that any time you are in the same sentence as Formula 1, it's a flattering thing.”

Ferrari finishes on top

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa led runners in the final day of testing in Bahrain, setting a best of 1:32.162 on the Sakhir circuit.

BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld was second, and Timo Glock rounded out the field in his Toyota.

The next test session begins March 1 at Jerez.

  1. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:32.162
  2. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:32.225
  3. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:32.445
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, February 18, 2009

Honda confirms Virgin interest

Honda has confirmed Richard Branson's Virgin Group is one of several bidders for the F1 team, the BBC reports.

6th Annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards Ceremony - Arrivals

Honda hopes to have the team on the grid in time for Melbourne, but that will require a quick turnaround. The BBC reports a deadline to prove it has the financing to pay for Mercedes engines will expire in a matter of days.

It is believed Honda would be willing to subsidize a fair amount of funding to help whomever buys the team as a cheaper option to paying off the organizations 700 employees.

Interesting fact in the story: Virgin has been a personal sponsor for Takuma Sato for the last four years.

FOTA to unveil latest vision

The Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) is set to unveil its latest vision for the future of F1, autosport.com reports.

A press conference slated for March 5 will reveal FOTA’s concepts and regulations for the sport, with aims to “make Formula One commercially sustainable, environmentally friendly and compellingly attractive for spectators, TV viewers and Internet consumers alike for years to come.”

The teams are expected to show a united front at the event, with full attendance by all team principals. If FOTA hopes to hold off Mad Max’s vision, it will need unanimity.

Motorsports sponsorship in the U.S.

Grandprix.com has an interesting brief on a report showing U.S. companies’ spending on motor sports sponsorship will be down nearly 6 percent this year.

Interesting climate in which to be searching for sponsorship for a new F1 team, especially without a race in North America...

Glock tops in Bahrain

Toyota’s Timo Glock led the field in windy conditions in Bahrain Wednesday, posting a best lap of 1:32.492 over 132 laps at the Sakhir circuit.

Felipe Massa was second in the F60 while battling gearbox gremlins in the morning and electrical issues in the afternoon.

Rounding out the trio was Nick Heidfeld in the BMW Sauber, who lost time with his F1.09 stopped on the track twice with mechanical problems.

Testing continues Thursday.

  1. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:32.492
  2. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:32.917
  3. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:32.993
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, February 17, 2009

Kimi tops in Bahrain, despite KERS issues

Kimi Raikkonen posted the fastest time today in Bahrain, and despite losing three hours to KERS-related issues, managed 107 laps around the Sakhir circuit.

2009 F1 Testing in Bahrain

Teammate Felipe Massa takes over Wednesday.

Jarno Trulli, who hands over to Tino Glock tomorrow, was second in the Toyota, while Nick Heidfeld finished third in the BMW Sauber, despite some technical glitches.

  1. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:32.102
  2. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:32.230
  3. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:32.585
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, February 16, 2009

Testing continues in Bahrain and other news

Christian Klien put BMW Sauber at the top of the charts as testing continued at Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit.

Testing continues in Bahrain on Tuesday.

  1. Christian Klien, BMW Sauber, 1:32.544
  2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:32.804
  3. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:33.064

It was inevitable, I guess

Nikon Indy 300 : Practice

USF1 would consider Danica Patrick, says Ken Anderson.

“She's great. She gets a lot of press," Anderson told the Associated Press. “Tony George would probably be pretty mad with me if I took her out of the IRL but we'll see.”

Oh my. I hope we get serious about this thing.

ING to leave Renault at the end of ’09

Renault title sponsor ING announced today it will not renew its contract with the team.

Read ING’s statement here, and Renault’s here.

The Honda bidding war

Grandprix.com reports the mystery “hostile” bidder who has held up the Honda team’s management buyout could be Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.

Meanwhile, autosport.com confirms Petrobras has definitely quit F1. No support for Bruno Senna, no seeing through its sponsorship deal with Honda. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Picture remains murky for "Honda" team

A story in the Telegraph newspaper reports, contrary to rumor, Bruno Senna has not signed on to be Jenson Button’s teammate.

Formula One Testing In Barcelona

It goes on to say Brazilian oil company Petrobras, a supposed Senna backer, has pulled out of a deal with the team, though it is not the first time that has surfaced.

The Telegraph report also mentions a third party has entered the bidding race for the Honda team, which a source within Honda called a reputable company that could offer the team long-term stability. That bid is viewed as hostile by those involved in the Fry/Brawn management buy-out group, according to the source, who put the team’s chances of being on the grid in Melbourne at 50-50. 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, February 14, 2009

Saving an F1 team

Both McLaren and Bernie Ecclestone seem keen on the Honda Racing team’s survival, as rumors that the team has secured its future for at least four races have gained ground.

The F1 ringmaster is pledging to do what he can within the rules to assist, and Martin Whitmarsh is talking an engine supply (if certain criteria can be met) and FOTA support.

Hungarian F1 Grand Prix - Qualifying

Is it just me, or has Mercedes jumped feet first into this engine supply business?

Anyway, as the folks at Sidepodcast pointed out, it all sounds a bit Super Aguri, but it’s something.

Bob Bell Q & A

Looks like we all noticed Renault tooling around at the bottom of the time sheets most of the week, but Renault’s Bob Bell isn’t concerned. Of course, if he was, he wouldn’t tell us. But here’s an interesting Q & A from the team Web site.

Glock on superlicence fees

Three drivers may have “crossed the picket line” as far as the superlicence debate is concerned, but Toyota’s Timo Glock hasn’t changed his mind.

"Maybe not everyone is a millionaire in F1," Glock tells autosport.com
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, February 13, 2009

Hamilton best of ’09s in Jerez, Kimi leads the Bahrain trio

Lewis Hamilton led all 2009-spec runners in the final day of testing at Jerez, while Sebastien Bourdais had the best time of the day in Toro Rosso’s interim STR3 in the car’s final appearance.

Fernando Alonso was third in the Renault.

  1. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:17.472
  2. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:19.632
  3. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:19.846
  4. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:21.217
  5. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:21.313
  6. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, no time

In Bahrain, the sands stayed away for a second day and Kimi Raikkonen led the field in the F60.

Ferrari, BMW Sauber and Toyota will continue testing at the circuit Monday.

  1. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:33.325
  2. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:33.429
  3. Christian Klien, BMW Sauber, 1:33.666

Formula One Testing In Barcelona

Lifeline for Sato?

Looks like Takuma Sato is still hoping Red Bull will give him wings. Autosport.com reports Sato is in talks over a test driver role for Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso.

Honda rumors on steroids

Rumors are running wild concerning “The team that was Honda.” The usual suspects are reporting everything from salvation by deep pocketed Brazilians to a four-race reprieve for the team. Often cited in the reports are a mysterious internal e-mail from Ross Brawn and some sort of deal with Bruno Senna.

A lot of speculation here, but grandprix.com is carrying a little something on it, and they’re reliable.

A lap of Donington

Courtesy of MotorSport, here’s a lap of what Donington will look like as an F1 circuit, if all the “ifs” are answered.

The site also carries text commentary. 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, February 12, 2009

Bourdais takes over in Spain

Newly-confirmed Sebastien Bourdais took over where Sebastien Buemi left off Thursday in the 2008-spec Toro Rosso, while Lewis Hamilton topped 2009 runners at Jerez.

F1 Testing Sessions

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel rounded out the top three.

  1. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:18.493
  2. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:20.737
  3. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:20.738
  4. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:20.898
  5. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:21.307

Teams pound sand in Bahrain

Meanwhile, in Bahrain, where teams ran to get away from the unpredictable Spanish weather, a sandstorm once again called a halt to the proceedings.

USF1 to launch on Speed

Peter Windsor talks USF1 on SpeedTV.com

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, February 11, 2009

Webber returns in Jerez, sandstorm halts Bahrain action

Heikki Kovalainen led the 2009 runners during the second day of testing at Jerez, as Mother Nature finally smile upon the circuit and let teams get into their programs.

Sebastien Buemi again led the pack in his 2008-spec Toro Rosso.

But the big story was Mark Webber, taking part in his first test since breaking his leg last November. Signs would seem to point to an impressive recovery, the Australian clocking the third best time for the day, second among the 2009 cars.

F1 Testing Sessions

“There were a lot of questions going into today and I answered them,” Webber told the team Web site. “From my point of view, it all went better than expected and to do over a race distance on my first day back in the cockpit, with several weeks to go to Melbourne is a good thing.”

Kazuki Nakajima’s Williams and Nelson Piquet in the Renault rounded out the field in Spain.

  1. Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:17.591
  2. Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:20.799
  3. Webber, Red Bull, 1:21.321
  4. Nakajima, Williams, 1:21.451
  5. Piquet, Renault, 1:21.908

In Bahrain, a sandstorm red flagged the session after just 90 minutes of running.

Felipe Massa led the day for Ferrari, leading Robert Kubica’s BMW Sauber and Timo Glock in the Toyota.

  1. Massa, Ferrari, 1:33.639
  2. Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:34.398
  3. Glock, Toyota, 1:34.902
Schu unhurt in bike accident

Michael Schumacher escaped injury after falling off his Holzhauer Racing Honda Fireblade during a test session in Cartagena, Spain, Wednesday.

Schumacher made a precautionary hospital visit, but stressed he was ok.

“Today I had an accident at the biking tests in Cartagena, and to be safe I went to a hospital,” he said in a statement on his Web site. “I was driving down start-finish and when breaking into the first corner I hit some bumps which made me fall. The checks in the hospital showed nothing and I am fine, therefore I went back home at the evening.”

Quote of the day

“If you want to drive the most advanced technical car in the world you drive a Formula 1 car. But if you want to do racing you come to NASCAR. That’s the way I see it. Are the cars the most advanced? No. Are the tyres the best tyres? No. But it brings a lot of the driver onto the table.” -- Juan Pablo Montoya.

Find out from Montoya on why he’s in NASCAR in Gordon Kirby’s interview in MotorSport. 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, February 10, 2009

Buemi fastest in Spain, Glock tops in Bahrain

Buemi. Fastest. 2008 car. Rain. Different month, same story, as the Swiss set a best of 1:19.660 over 104 laps at Jerez.

Sebastien Vettel was second in the brand new RB5, completing 61 laps. Good news for the team after yesterday's shakedown ended early with gearbox issues. Vettel's best was a 1:22.177.

Williams tester Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top three with a time of 1:22.443 over 82 laps.

F1 Testing Sessions

  1. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:19.660
  2. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:22.177
  3. Nico Hulkenberg, Williams, 1:22.443
  4. Heikki Kovalainen, Mclaren, 1:22.634
  5. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 1:23.313

Meanwhile, Timo Glock and Toyota took advantage of sunny conditions in Bahrain to top the charts with a 1:33.501 over 82 laps.

Felipe Massa was second for Ferrari, and Robert Kubica third in the BMW Sauber.


  1. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:33.501
  2. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:33.615
  3. Robert Kubica, Sauber, 1:33.702
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, February 9, 2009

Red Bull launch

Red Bull launched its 2009 challenger, the RB5, in the pit lane at Jerez Monday.

Sebastian Vettel took the car out for a shake down, completing 14 laps before gearbox issues prematurely ended the run.

“With the shakedown out of the way, we can get down to developing the car starting tomorrow and over the next few days,” Vettel said. “Stopping early today was the right decision, as you really need to understand exactly what causes any problem on a brand new car.”

Red Bull 2009 F1 Launch

After several seasons of trying to be best of the rest, with mixed results, the team is targeting wins this time around.

“This year will see us benefit from greater stability in terms of how we run the operation, with all our key players in the technical group having been with us for at least two years and we should not forget they designed a car that won a Grand Prix in 2008, in the hands of Sebastian Vettel,” explained Team Principal Christian Horner. “There is no reason to believe we cannot do that again with these new rules.”

Vettel will continue to test tomorrow, then hand over to Mark Webber on Wednesday, when we’ll get a chance to gauge his recovery.

“I thought I’d let Seb do the boring installation laps and the running-in,” Webber said. “Wednesday’s run will be as much a test for me as for the car, as it will be my first go in an F1 car since I broke my leg. My fitness programme is bang-on course for Melbourne and this test is a stepping stone on the way to being fighting-fit for my home race.”

Incidentally, Red Bull’s press package this year comes in comic book format. You can download the pdf files here. Better yet, you can win a copy signed by Vettel and Webber. Fun!

Teams in action this week in Bahrain, Spain

Testing resumes this week with the teams split between Jerez and Bahrain.

Ferrari, BMW and Toyota will be in Bahrain, while McLaren, Williams, Renault and Toro Rosso join Red Bull Tuesday in Jerez. All will be in their 2009 challengers save STR.

Force India and the “Honda” team will not be testing this week. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bourdais: Cost cuts saved job

Sebastien Bourdais claims cost-cutting measures by the FIA and FOTA saved his ride with Toro Rosso.

STR had been in the market for a driver who could bring personal sponsorship money, something both Bourdais and Takuma Sato had trouble coming up with.

The team changed its tune with the announcement of cost-cutting measures, Bourdais told French newspaper L'Equipe, according to ITV.

“Originally it was in effect essential, but then when all the cost-saving measures were taken into account, it was clear that Red Bull would save 100 million dollars on its two teams,” the Frenchman said. “All of a sudden it became much less of a concern and I was back at the head of the queue compared to their initial preferences.”

Sebastien Buemi , Test Driver Red Bull Racing during testing in Spain

Toro Rosso is set to debut its 2009 challenger, the STR4, in early March, according to Bourdais. He will be driving the 2008 car in Jerez.

“It is clear that this is not ideal,” he said, “If the deadlines are met, the new car will be presented in early March.”

Still, he’ll have a good idea of what it will look like when Red Bull launches the RB5 Monday. And Bourdais can take solace in knowing he has a job in F1 for 2009.

And that’s not all. Unsure he would have a drive at all just a week or so ago, he now has his confirmation at STR, as well as a ride at Le Mans.

Peugeot is set to officially announce he will be part of their effort in the famed 24 this year.

It will be his sixth crack at the race. He finished second with Peugeot in 2007, his last season in Champ Car.

“I will be with Peugeot on Monday to talk at a press conference,” he is to have told L'Equipe. “But if I take part [at Le Mans] it will definitely be to win it.”

For Senna, what next?

With the team-that-was-Honda’s future in question, and STR locking up its 2009 lineup, Bruno Senna finds himself out in the cold.

iSport International head Paul Jackson discussed Senna in an interview with Crash.net Radio.

“[Toro Rosso] is obviously one avenue that's closed off to him but, in all honesty, I don't think that that was a very strong possibility for him anyway,” he said. “Obviously, the way things have unfolded in the F1 world, his opportunities seem to have been diminishing all the time, so it's put him in a very difficult position, where there isn't an obvious ‘win’ situation. He's in a very disadvantaged situation really.”

Read the full interview, which also talks about iSport’s 2009 plans.

The latest on USF1

ITV is the latest to get confirmation from a source about the projected USF1 team. What sets this one off, however, are some juicy quotes.

Grandprix.com weighs in with thoughtful commentary, as usual.

Superlicence battles rolls on

The battle over the price of superlicence fees continues.

The Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) believes the FIA is using the increase in cost to pay for other programs.

The GPDA says the increase is unfair, but FIA president Max Mosley has little sympathy, citing driver salaries. Mosley wants the drivers to disclose their income before considering a case of hardship, a move the GPDA is resisting.

Read the GPDA statement here.

British, Turkish races have shaky futures

Questions continue to add up for the British Grand Prix’s move to Donnington, with debt problems and a lawsuit against the circuit’s boss, according to F1-Live.com.

The Financial Mail reports former Chief Operating Officer Lee Gill challenging his dismissal in court, and that reports show a €14m loss for 2008 and 76m in debt.

Meanwhile, a report in the Zaman newspaper states Bernie Ecclestone wants to break his contract with the circuit at the first opportunity the contract allows, after the 2011 race.

IndyCar’s Fisher gets unique sponsorship deal

The Associated Press reports Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis has backed Sarah Fisher for the 2009 season to promote the school's four-year motorsports engineering program.

“We see this sponsorship as an investment in opportunity for our students, and Sarah couldn't be a better role model as she was once a student here at IUPUI,” the AP quotes Oner Yurtseven, dean of IUPUI's school of engineering and technology.

Fisher has run a limited schedule since starting her own team last year. Earlier this month, Dollar General rental cars would double its sponsorship commitment, and prior to the IUPUI announcement, Fisher was targeting at least four appearances on the IRL schedule this season. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sneak peek at the RB5

The all new RB5, Red Bull's answer to the 2009 regulations, debuts on the track in the hands of Sebastian Vettel Monday at Jerez.

For those who want a sneak peek, Vettel hosts a look at how the regs have changed the car on the Red Bull Web site.

It remains to be seen if the rising star can do for Red Bull what he did for the junior squad last season.

Teammate Mark Webber will take over for the young German midweek, assuming there are no last minute hitches with the leg.
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, February 6, 2009

Seabass confirmed

Toro Rosso confirmed Sebestian Bourdais will return for 2009.

The move guarantees STR will feature a pair of Sebs again this year, but it was a long time coming.

Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix: Qualifying

The Frenchman, a four-time Champ Car champion before moving to F1 last season, found himself on his heels and quickly outperformed by teammate Sebastian Vettel last year, particularly after the team launched the STR3 mid way through the season.

That, combined with the team's need for funding, conspired to see the 29-year-old replaced.

Indeed, Bourdais faced a strong challenge from Honda and Super Aguri vet Takuma Sato, and the Japanese driver's manager said it all came down to money.

“Taku had showed tremendous speed and commitment during the three tests he did for the team and I believe he proved to be the faster driver,” Sato’s manager Andrew-Gilbert Scott, said. “We have all been working very hard and have been able to attract a significant amount of sponsorship to support the team but unfortunately it was obviously not enough to secure the drive.”

The team had long said it wanted an experienced driver to line up with rookie Sebastien Buemi, the young Swiss who has taken over for the promoted Sebastian Vettel, and will be looking for Bourdais' experience to pay off this year.

“After one year with Toro Rosso, we expect him to profit from the experience he gained last season.” Team principal Franz Tost said. “This will be especially valuable given that our other driver, Sebastien Buemi, is an F1 rookie, who has come up through the ranks of the Red Bull Junior Driver programme.”

For Bourdais, it was a long wait, but he's ready to get on with the job.

“It has been a very long and difficult winter, but now the waiting is finally over and I am really excited about tackling my second season with Scuderia Toro Rosso,” he said.
Considering STR is a team where drivers are often on a very short leash, it's nice to see Bourdais getting a second crack at F1. He spent a long time trying to get an opportunity, and was rewarded by being lined up next to a potential star and in a car that did not suit his driving style. The new aero regs and slick tires should wipe the slate clean. Now is a chance for Bourdais, a driver so dominant in other formulae, to show 2008 was an abnormality. 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, February 5, 2009

USF1: Separating fact from rumor

Granted, news that Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson are involved in some sort of U.S.-based F1 effort sounds very much like the normal, midwinter rumor, but this is one that seems to have legs.

Opinions run the gamut, and I think we are all forgiven if we are a bit skeptical, so let's stick with the few facts we have.

  1. Some highly-respected Web sites have picked up the story, confirming some facts, though questions remain.
  2. Max Mosley has confirmed he has been approached by such a team, according to comments he made to reporters.
    "They have (approached us). They are serious people but I think they will be the same as everybody else, they need the costs to come down if they want to be competitive," Reuters reports he said.

Until some of the principal players go on record, either to confirm or deny, speculation will run wild.

Topper of the day? This one which goes around the horn to tie Danica Patrick to a seat with the as-yet nonexistent team.

OK. Maybe that was a little tongue-in-cheek, but since we know so little, we might as well have fun with it.

Mosley has opinions on things

A number of stories appeared this quoting FIA president Max Mosley on a variety of subjects. Here are some highlights:

Bourdais to return to action

Toro Rosso announced Sebastien Bourdais will test for it next week in Jerez, as he tries to keep alive his hope of holding off Takuma Sato and retaining his seat with the Faenza-based team. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

An F1 team in the U.S.?

Rumor has it Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor are planning a U.S.-based F1 team for 2010.

Autosport.com reports sources saying the team has gotten the approval from the powers that be, despite no official entry, and is currently trying to raise funds.

Designer Anderson worked for Ligier and Onyx before returning home to the States, where he worked in IndyCar and NASCAR. Ex-Williams manager Windsor is, of course, currently an F1 journalist.

According to the report the team would be based in North Carolina, where Anderson's part-owned rolling road wind tunnel is located. The team would likely have a European base, as well.

A Web site, http://www.usf1.com/, currently shows a logo. Autosport.com confirmed Anderson owns the site.

Obviously, this is pretty exciting, but I'm not quitting my day job, yet. While new cost-cutting regulations have made it a better climate for independent teams, it should prove challenging to raise the kind of money needed to sponsor a team in this economy.

Additionally, basing the team in the States seems difficult logistically. While this isn't Penske in the 70s, there is still a considerable European schedule to consider. Do the new rules truly make it more feasible to run a team from the states, as the Autosport report suggests?

Finally, I still don't see the majority of mainstream U.S. sports fans taking much notice without a race on the continent, and even with races here I question whether a sponsor can be tempted. With Canada and the U.S. on the schedule, Scott Speed made no impact in the U.S. market. U.S. drivers take part in MotoGP and Le Mans with great success and are known only to gearheads. The reality of the U.S. market is that it is dominated by four sports: Baseball, American Football, Basketball and NASCAR. David Beckham's minimal marketing impact in this country in the past year-and-a-half gives just a small peek at what these guys are up against.

The concept of showcasing U.S. technology and drivers is to be applauded, but with the U.S. audience so compartmentalized, this is going to have to be the real deal. Frontline talent, top engine, and a viable chance at the championship. Anything less, and mainstream America won't even know you're there.

That said, if you're serious boys, and there's anything I can do, I'll move to North Carolina tomorrow.

More cost-cutting on the way

The FIA looks set to introduce another round of cuts, according to a white paper seen by ITV.

The latest plan to be proposed to the teams would seek to lower the cost of taking part by limiting the areas where manufacturers can compete (for example, today's engines are considered "non-compete"). In addition to engines, gearboxes, wheels, brakes and suspensions are targeted.

In those areas where teams are permitted and choose to compete, they will be required to share the technology to those teams which do not, ITV reports.

Once the economy picks up, the FIA would then open up the competition.

“When we see that things are picking up and there is more money in multi-nationals for discretionary spend, then we can start reintroducing a wider technical competition,” Tony Purnell, technical consultant to the FIA and author of the paper, is quoted by ITV. “But we’ll keep to a central philosophy that engineers work on things that are relevant to society, like fuel economy and efficiency.”

How FOTA will view this remains to be seen. I'm thinking not so excited... 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, February 3, 2009

Merc denies vote

Daimler quickly moved to deny reports it held a boardroom level vote concerning its future in Formula 1.

Sports News - January 16, 2009

The rumor took off Monday after news service GMM picked a story up from German publication Focus. The story claimed Daimler chief Dieter Zetsche called for the vote, which narrowly supported the marque's participation by a 3-2 margin.

“There was no voting by the Daimler board of management concerning Formula 1,” a Mercedes spokesperson told ITV. “Apart from this it is correct that we continue our commitment.”

Webber ahead of schedule

According to Mark Webber, his recovery is ahead of schedule and he will be at 100 percent for the opening race in Melbourne.

“The results over the last few weeks have been incredible,” he said on the team's Web site. “We had a really good week last week, so we’re really positive… dare I say it, we’re probably a little bit ahead of schedule.”

Webber is set to be in the cockpit for the first time since breaking his leg in Tazmania during his charity bike event in November when he gets behind the wheel next week in Jerez.

“I’ve really worked hard to get in this position,” he said. “There’s been some stuff in the press that I won’t be 100% fit for Melbourne which pissed me off. I will be 100% ready to do my job.”
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, February 2, 2009

... dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

What can unite bitter rivals? Apparently, Max and Bernie.

Former blood enemies Ferrari and McLaren are working closer than ever as teams present a united front to F1’s ruling powers.

"If you had told me a year ago that I would be doing this I would not have believed you," Ferrari spokesman Luca Colajanni told the BBC after a day at Woking.

Motorsport/Formel 1: GP von Monaco

A far cry from just a couple short years ago, and spygate, but necessity creates strange bedfellows. And with Max Mosley pressing for radical changes, FOTA wants it’s voice heard.

Thus, such strange things as Luca di Montezemolo praising Ron Dennis in the press, something that would never happen in the Dennis/Jean Todt years.

How long will that last?

Merc (barely) backs F1 program

Crash.net, citing German magazine Focus, reports a Daimler board vote called by chief Dieter Zetsche backed continuing the company’s collaboration with McLaren by a narrow 3-2 vote.

Not quite a vote of confidence for manufacturer participation in the sport following Honda’s withdrawal, and perhaps one of the reasons Bernie is so keen on signing them up long term.

Singapore to change course

Singapore Grand Prix officials have confirmed they will alter turns 1, 13 and 14 to improve overtaking, resurface parts of the circuit, reduce the runoff at turn 22 and modify the pitlane for 2009, F1-Live reports.

Gascoyne to look overseas?

Ex-Force India technical guru Mike Gascoyne says in the future he may look for work overseas.

Citing the Oxford Times, Crash.net reports he has put his mansion up for sale.

"I will probably work abroad in the future," he is to have told the newspaper, "so will not need such a large home in the UK."

Not surprising, after stints at Jordan, Benetton, Renault, Toyota, Spyker, Force India, there aren’t many places for him to go in the paddock.

Honda or bust for Button?

Fox is reporting Jenson Button is not in the running for a seat at STR, meaning his only chance at the grid in 2009 looks to be if Honda can find a buyer.

Portugal to get back on the calendar

With European venues dropping like flies, Grandprix.com is reporting Bernie is showing interest at putting the Portuguese Grand Prix back on the schedule at the new Algarve circuit.

Rossi rules out F1

MotoGP star Valentino Rossi says his chance at F1 has passed and he will stay on two wheels.

“I had my chance and I decided to stay with bikes,” he said in an interview on the Yamaha Racing Web site. “The choice is made and I don’t think that there will be another possibility.”

Sport mourns Mayer

The F1 community is mourning the loss of American Teddy Mayer, who helped put together Bruce McLaren’s team and ran it during Emerson Fittipaldi’s and James Hunt’s title seasons.

He also ran programs in U.S. Racing, winning the 1976 Indy 500. 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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