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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ferrari not softening its stance

Ferrari’s decision to conditionally apply for the 2010 season does not mean it is accepting a budget cap. ANY budget cap.

“Making the 2009 regulations the starting point means there will be no budget cap," the BBC quotes Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali.

Should the nine FOTA teams’ (minus Williams) conditions not be met?

“If the conditions are not met, the entries will be invalid.”

The FIA has yet to comment on the conditional entries. The organization is set to publish an official entry list June 12.

FOTA will have to tread lightly, as the list of teams applying for the limited 13 slots has again swelled.

Canadian F1 Grand Prix


According to AUTOSPORT, an Alex Wurz-led entry has officially joined the list.

Called Team Superfund, Wurz would be the principal, the money is coming from Austrian Christian Baha, founder and owner of investment company Superfund.

Apparently, the team is in the advanced planning stages, and is aiming to use Cosworth power.

Williams, Prodrive, USF1, Campos, Litespeed and Lola are the other, “unconditional” entries.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Remaining FOTA teams submit entries

Join Williams, Prodrive, USF1, Campos, Litespeed and Lola

The remaining FOTA teams have submitted conditional entries to run in the 2010 championship. With Williams already signed up, this means all 10 current teams are set to participate next season.

F1 GP of Monte Carlo, Monaco 20.-24. May 2009


There are a couple of big buts, however.

All FOTA teams have entered the 2010 championship on the basis that:

1) The Concorde Agreement is signed by all parties before 12th June 2009, after which all FOTA teams will commit to competing in Formula One until 2012. The renewal of the Concorde Agreement will provide security for the future of the sport by binding all parties in a formal relationship that will ensure stability via sound governance.

2) The basis of the 2010 regulations will be the current 2009 regulations, amended in accordance with proposals that FOTA has submitted to the FIA.

It remains to be seen if FOTA's compromise attempt will be accepted by FIA head Max Mosley.

It appears, with ten teams set to participate, there will be three openings left for new entries. USF1 and Campos had already submitted entries. Litespeed has also filed. Prodrive confirmed it applied today (grandprix.com is reporting Prodrive will become Aston Martin in 2012), and AUTOSPORT is reporting Lola has also submitted an entry.

That would seem to leave some on the outside looking in, unless an existing team were to pull out. Rumors have swirled about Renault (though Flavio Briatore might be willing to purchase the team from the French company) and Toyota.

Interestingly, grandprix.com also revealed Toyota-owned Fuji will no longer host the Japanese Grand Prix, adding fuel to rumors Toyota may be looking at an exit strategy.

Regardless, today's decision, should the compromise be accepted, seems to lock everyone in until 2012. We should know more soon. The next move is the FIA's, expected June 12.

Read FOTA's full statement here.

For the racing fans…


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Thursday, May 28, 2009

FOTA's plan for a compromise

AUTOSPORT is reporting FOTA agreed Wednesday on a plan to aid new teams with technical partnerships, a compromise it hopes brings it closer to a deal with the FIA over how the sport will be regulated.

FOTA is also looking to ease into the FIA's planned budget cap, starting at €100 million in 2010, then settling on to €45 in 2011.

The aid plan is designed to avoid a customer car system for new teams.

George still in charge

Despite reports in the media to the contrary, the Hulman-George family says Tony George has not been ousted.

Indianapolis 500


Reports appeared on outlets such as Speed TV and SI.com that the George family had removed Tony George as head of the family-owned businesses due to squabbles over money.

George is head of Hulman & Company, the Indy Racing League, Clabber Girl and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Speedway lost the USGP after George and Bernie Ecclestone could not come to a financial agreement on the future of the race.

THE HULMAN-GEORGE FAMILY STATEMENT

At a regular meeting of the board of directors of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday, May 26, board members asked Tony George, chief executive officer of the IMS companies, to devise a plan for management of Hulman & Company, the Indy Racing League, Clabber Girl and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that would allow him to focus on the business which requires the greatest attention. This plan is to be presented to the board at a meeting later this year.

IMS Chairman of the Board Mari Hulman George said: "There was a general discussion about the challenges and opportunities facing all of our companies and where most of our energies need to be spent. All of our properties are doing well, given the challenges of the current economy. The Indy Racing League represents our greatest growth opportunity and therefore deserves the most attention at this point."

Tony George said: "Contrary to published reports, I continue to serve as CEO of IMS. Our board of directors met yesterday, and we did discuss how to best confront challenges and exploit opportunities facing our businesses. This is nothing new and is something that we continually do as a board. But no changes in leadership or responsibility have been made. We don't normally comment on board deliberations concerning our family business. However, the widespread, inaccurate reports and rumors caused my mother and me to conclude that it was necessary to set the record straight. If changes are made in the management of the company that are newsworthy, we will announce them when they are made."


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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

FOTA suspends Williams

The Formula One Teams' Association has temporarily suspended Williams from the organization following the team's decision to formally enter the 2010 championship.

The action comes as strategy talks continue among FOTA members in London.

Spanish Formula One Grand Prix: Practice


Frank Williams defended the company's position, while expressing understanding with FOTA's decision.

"FOTA's decision, although regrettable, is understandable. However, as a racing team and a company whose only business is Formula 1, with obligations to our partners and our employees, submitting our entry to next year's championship was unquestionable.In addition, we are legally obliged under our contract with FOM and the FIA to participate in the World Championship until the end of 2012."

Plus, James Allen's take on what it means for everyone involved, and a little clarification on what exactly Williams did and did not sign last weekend ...

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Teams meet to set strategy

Formula 1’s teams will meet again Wednesday as they plan the next step in their ongoing negotiations over the future of the sport.

F1 2009 - Monaco GP - Harbor Meetings


While progress appears to have been made over the Monaco race weekend, it being reported a framework was in place for an agreement between FOTA and Max Mosley, some recent developments show there is still some way to go.

The BBC reports Mosley sent a letter to the teams still seeking a cap on expenditures in the neighborhood of £40m, despite calls for scrapping the controversial 2010 regulations.

Additionally, despite a FOTA statement that the teams would pull out as a group if their demands were not met, Williams broke ranks and announced yesterday it had submitted an official entry for the 2010 season. The BBC reports this has angered some within the group.

Friday is the deadline for teams to submit entries.

Several sources believe the sport will lose one or two manufacturers before all is said and done. Toyota and BMW are often mentioned in certain circles as possibilities. Toyota chief John Howett has dismissed those rumors as spin.

Tomorrow’s meeting should at least give some clarity as far as to what FOTA’s next move will be.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Williams wants in for 2010

Williams confirmed it has filed an entry for the 2010 Formula 1 World Championship.

F1 Grand Prix of Monaco - Practice


The announcement comes after talks in Monaco last weekend between FOTA, Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley that appear to have resulted in a framework for compromise in the budget row.

Williams had joined the other members of FOTA in presenting a united front over the weekend, saying all would sit out without a resolution. Williams chief executive Adam Parr addressed those issues in an exclusive with Reuters.

“The unity of FOTA is of paramount importance to Williams,” he said “Yesterday we joined the other members of FOTA in writing to the FIA (International Automobile Federation) to request a continuing effort to find a compromise concerning the regulations for 2010. We believe that under the leadership of di Montezemolo and John Howett, FOTA has extracted some very significant concessions from the FIA...”

“Having said that, Williams has -- and has always maintained -- that we have a binding contract with both FOM and the FIA to participate in the world championship from 2008 to 2012,” he explained. “We have been paid in full for our participation and we feel both morally and legally obliged to make it clear that we will participate in Formula One in the future as we have in the past 30 years.”

“We owe this to our employees, our sponsors and the fans, all of whom are affected by statements that the teams may not enter next year's championship,” he continued.

Williams joins newbies Team US F1 and Spanish Formula 3’s Campos Racing in officially applying for entry into the 2010 championship.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Button dominates in Monaco

Jenson Button was in a world of his own Sunday, taking the lead at the start and winning the Monaco Grand Prix in comfortable fashion.

The win gives Button 51 points on the season, 16 clear of teammate Rubens Barrichello, who finished second. More importantly, his lead over Sebastian Vettel in the championship is 28 points. In what is becoming a runaway Constructors race, the Brawn GP team now has a 43.5 point edge on second place Red Bull Racing.

F1 Grand Prix of Monaco - Race


And so the gap grows for Red Bull. Webber took a hard-fought fifth, while Vettel crashed at Ste Devote on Lap 15. Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen, his KERS-aided Ferrari beaten off the line by both Brawn cars, finished third, while teammate Felipe Massa held off Mark Webber to take fourth as Ferrari continue to scrabble its way up the table.

Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the points scorers. Just outside the points was Giancarlo Fisichella in the Force India, a team that put in a stellar weekend and really deserved to come out of it with a point.

Besides Vettel, others to be reminded of Monaco’s unforgiving nature were Heikki Kovalainen and Kazuki Nakajima. Another unforgiving nature belonged to Nelson Piquet, who lashed out at "young drivers" after rookie Sebastien Buemi ran into the back of his Renault. Nelshino was perhaps a bit less than charitable when interviewed during the race by BBC Radio 5 Live.

“It was stupid accident, these young drivers need to calm down, Buemi just slammed right into the back of me. These young drivers do these kind of silly mistakes they knew there was a lot of traffic in front and they knew we had to all slow down - they need to calm down.”


It was a tough day for Lewis Hamilton, who is continuing to see how the other half lives. Buried in the back after his qualifying shunt, the Briton made contact with the barrier at Ste Devote on lap ten and the best he could do was twelfth.

And poor old Robert Kubica retired with mechanical issues.

So as Jenson Button jogged to the podium after mistakenly parking his car in the wrong parc ferme area, he found himself the winner of F1's crown jewel race with a championship that is his to lose, his only real challenge looking to be from Barrichello. Next up, Istanbul, and a chance to make it seven from eight.

Grand Prix De Monaco (78 laps)
  1. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes
  2. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn - Mercedes
  3. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
  4. Felipe Massa, Ferrari
  5. Mark Webber, RedBull - Renault
  6. Nico Rosberg, Williams - Toyota
  7. Fernando Alonso, Renault
  8. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso - Ferrari
  9. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India-Mercedes
  10. Timo Glock, Toyota 1 lap
  11. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber 1 lap
  12. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren - Mercedes 1 lap
  13. Jarno Trulli, Toyota 1 lap
  14. Adrian Sutil, Force India - Mercedes 1 lap
  15. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams - Toyota 2 laps
  • Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren - Mercedes, Accident
  • Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, Brakes
  • Sebastian Vettel, RedBull - Renault, Accident
  • Nelson Piquet, Renault, Accident damage
  • Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso - Ferrari, Accident


Agreement reached?

The sides are closer to a deal over the future of the sport, it is being reported, with the teams and Max Mosley agreed to the framework of a compromise on the budget cap.

The BBC reports a 45m Euro cap (not to be called a cap) will be delayed until 2011, Mosley has made concessions in governance, and teams may also receive more money from Bernie Ecclestone.

All parties seem to agree for the need to cut costs, but central to much of the opposition was the heavy-handed way the regulations were pushed through, a power Mosley has had since the Concorde Agreement lapsed in 2007.

It is believed among the concessions is a return to the days of the F1 Commission, when everyone sat down to hash out the rules.

So is everyone a winner? Max gets his cost cuts, FOTA gets back into the rules making, and Bernie maybe finally gets his Concorde Agreement signed? That’s what its meant to look like, anyway.

Castroneves wins Indianapolis 500

Helio Castroneves won his third Indy 500 ahead of Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Button on pole in Monaco

Jenson Button took another last-gasp pole to put himself in prime position for Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix.

The championship leader pulled one out of his hat to steal P1 from Kimi Raikkonen, who will be sure to give Button a run for his money at the start tomorrow with his KERS-aided Ferrari.

Birthday-boy Rubens Barrichello (37 this year) will start third, next to Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.

Formula One - F1


It was heartbreak for Lewis Hamilton, who looked to be having his best weekend yet. The world champion hit the wall approaching Mirabeau in Q1, bringing out the red flags, and will start 16th tomorrow.

Felipe Massa will start fifth after surviving his own Q1 brush with the barrier at the swimming pool, with Nico Rosberg next to him in sixth for the Williams.

Heikki Kovalainen, Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso (fastest in Saturday's morning practice session) and Kazuki Nakajima round out the top 10.

Further back, it was a big weekend for Force India, both cars getting into Q2 for the first time this year. Meanwhile, a terrible weekend continues for the BMW Saubers and Toyotas, all victims of Q1.

The weights are pretty close, so we should be set for a heck of a race.

Below is the provisional grid for Monaco with each car's weight.
  1. Jenson Button, Brawn GP, 647.5 kg
  2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 644
  3. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn GP, 648
  4. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 631.5
  5. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 643.5
  6. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 642
  7. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 644
  8. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 646.5
  9. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 654
  10. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 668
  11. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 670
  12. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 673.1
  13. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, 693
  14. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 699.5
  15. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 670
  16. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 645.5
  17. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 680
  18. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 696
  19. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 688.3
  20. Timo Glock, Toyota, 700.8

GP2
Romain Grosjean took the win in yesterday's Monaco GP2 feature ahead of teammate Vitaly Petrov and Lucas di Grassi. Andreas Zuber was promoted to third post-race after a di Grassi penalty.

In the sprint race, Pastor Maldonado took the win, leading when it was red flagged for an incident involving Romain Grosjean. Jerome d'Ambrosio and Nico Hülkenberg rounded out the podium.
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Friday, May 22, 2009

Parties claim “progress” in talks

The teams and the FIA are reporting “small progress” over the £40m budget cap after Friday’s talks aboard Flavio Briatore’s yacht.

Formula One - F1


Talks will continue Saturday between team bosses, Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone.

One agreement was reached, but not of a type one could call promising, as FOTA agreed as a group to withdraw from F1 in opposition to the cap if no solution could be found.

It is also becoming clearly evident Ferrari and the FIA signed an agreement in 2005 giving the Scuderia veto power over new rules, thus giving some teeth to the team’s opposition stance. Mosley and the Prancing Horse obviously have different views of whether the cap violates that agreement.

On the flip side, Ecclestone is threatening legal action against Ferrari should the team pull out of F1, claiming it is contractually committed to the sport through 2012.

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A virtual lap of Monaco


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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Rosberg tops Monaco practice

Nico Rosberg ended the first day of practice in Monaco in the usual position, topping the second session Thursday ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Rubens Barrichello.

F1 Grand Prix of Monaco - Practice


Barrichello lead Felipe Massa and Hamilton in a strangely calm first session on the narrow street circuit. But the second session brought the excitement, with Rosberg finally winning out after a multi-player battle for the top spot.

While practice reveals little, Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa clearly looked to be taking advantage of Monaco's unique characteristics to put pressure on the Brawns and Red Bulls.

It should make for an interesting qualifying session as F1's marquee race always promises to shake up the field.

The fun continues Saturday.

Second session
  1. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota, 1:15.243
  2. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, 1:15.445
  3. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes, 1:15.590
  4. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes, 1:15.774
  5. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:15.832
  6. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault, 1:15.847
  7. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes, 1:15.984
  8. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:15.985
  9. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota, 1:16.260
  10. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 1:16.286
  11. Fernando Alonso, Renault,1:16.552
  12. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault, 1:16.579
  13. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes, 1:16.675
  14. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:16.915
  15. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, 1:16.983
  16. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, 1:17.052
  17. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:17.109
  18. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:17.207
  19. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India-Mercedes, 1:17.504
  20. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, No time

First session
  1. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes, 1:17.189
  2. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:17.499
  3. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, 1:17.578
  4. Heikki , McLaren-Mercedes, 1:17.686
  5. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:17.839
  6. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota, 1:18.000
  7. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota, 1:18.024
  8. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes, 1:18.080
  9. Fernando Alonso, Renault,1:18.283
  10. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault, 1:18.348
  11. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, 1:18.695
  12. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 1:19.204
  13. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault, 1:19.233
  14. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, 1:19.255
  15. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India-Mercedes, 1:19.534
  16. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:19.560
  17. Nick , BMW Sauber, 1:19.579
  18. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes, 1:19.600
  19. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:19.698
  20. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:19.831


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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ferrari injunction attempt fails

A French court dismissed Ferrari's attempt to stop the FIA's 2010 regulations from moving forward.

A meeting between FIA President Max Mosley, Bernie Ecclestone and the teams Tuesday resulted in an agreement against a two-tier championship, but Mosley refused to budge on the £40m budget cap.

F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain - Practice


The deadline for entries into the 2010 world championship is May 29, with as much as half the field, and prominently Ferrari, threatening not to apply.

The teams will meet again with Mosley ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.

Meanwhile, It's getting crazy with the newbies, with four more to add to the list. Grandprix.com asks the question we all have been asking: Who is serious? Difference is, they have some thoughts on that.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Talks resume Tuesday

Max Mosley and FOTA return to the table Tuesday over the budget impasse. If you listen to Mosley, he believes this won’t be settled quickly. There is an interesting 10 minute interview with Mosley on the BBC F1 Web site.

Mosley also takes the opportunity to call out Toyota’s John Howett for his “childish” attempt to stage a walkout in the beginning of Friday’s talks.

The BBC also has a few sound bites from Stefano Domenicali and Bernie Ecclestone that shed some light on things.

What we can gather from what has gone down so far, the possibility of a two-tiered Formula 1 in 2010 looks to be out the window, but the big hang-up that remains is just how cost cutting is to be achieved.

Mosley is sold on a cap, but FOTA wants to have a crack at it, and the organization was none too pleased as to how the new regulations were passed with not so much as a nod at their proposals.

Mosley reiterates his belief that the sport does not need Ferrari, but also lets on he doesn’t think it will come down to that.

F1: FEB 24 USF1 Press Conference


Meanwhile, Autosport.com catches up with Ken Anderson of USF1/GPE/whatever they are going to call it. He talks about progress on the car, drivers, and sizes up the budget controversy.

With a factory, a car on the board, and little concern about FIA-mandated caps, USF1 seems to be one of the few organizations that are putting in any credible effort so far, and one certainly hopes they will get the nod at the end of the month for an official entry.

Roundy-roundy racing

Six days until the Indy 500. See how the grid shapes up.

One change - Alex Tagliani, bumped from the field, will race Sunday, taking over teammate Bruno Junqueira’s ride. Bruno signed with the team last weekend, while Tagliani had been working with the team for several weeks.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

No deals, Mr. Bond

The FIA and FOTA failed to reach an agreement over the 2010 regulations after talks in London Friday.

Max Mosley said the FIA is holding firm, while the teams (Mosley said) went off to a private meeting.

In another move expected to prolong the battle, Ferrari has filed for an injunction to block the rule changes.

F1 2009 - Rd5 Spanish GP - Practice


FOTA president Luca di Montezemolo was not in attendance, due to the death of his father. Ferrari were represented by Stefano Domenicali. In an interview with ITV, Mosley implied Domenicali had not been notified of Ferrari’s court action.

“Their latest thing is that while their man was sitting in the meeting, unknown to him they went to the French courts and they have asked for an injunction to stop us changing the rules – at least that is my understanding,” Mosley was quoted. “That will come on next week and we will see what comes out of that, but I think it rather embarrassed their representative.”

Analysis from the experts:

Meanwhile, Lola said it is going ahead with its F1 project in a statement on the company Web site. The company makes it clear where it stands on the 2010 regulations

“The Lola Group is forging ahead with its Formula One project with the objective of securing an entry into the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship™ and in the expectation that the decisions of the WMSC will be respected in full.”

The Litespeed F3 team has also signaled its intention to apply for entry into F1, and it does say something about this cap if an F3 squad feels it can make the leap, skipping GP2. Oh, and it would give Mike Gascoyne the opportunity to return to the paddock. Litespeed have hired Gascoyne’s MGI Ltd in its quest.

On the lighter side
Another take on these Budgie caps...

For those who are interested in the racing
Monaco Grand Prix - team and driver preview quotes

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

FIA, FOTA set to meet

FIA president Max Mosley will meet with FOTA's Luca di Montezemolo in London Friday over the proposed budget cap and 2010 regulations.

F1 2009 - Rd 4 Bahrain GP - Button Wins As Toyota Fades


Bernie Ecclestone will also be present.

It is hoped the current impasse can be resolved before the May 29 deadline for 2010 entries.

Button to take on another triathlon

Jenson Button will compete in the London Triathlon over this year's summer break.

Button is running for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in the race, comprised of a 1500m swim, 40km bike ride and a 10km run.

Hamilton sees Button as next world champion

Going out on a bit of a limb, current world champion Lewis Hamilton believes Jenson Button will be the one to take his crown.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

F1's game of chicken

Renault is the latest to follow on Ferrari's threat to quit, releasing a statement on its Web site. An excerpt:

“Our aim is to reduce costs while maintaining the high standards that make Formula One one of the most prestigious brands on the market. We want to achieve this in a coordinated manner with the regulatory and commercial bodies, and we refuse to accept unilateral governance handed out by the FIA. If the decisions announced by the World Council on the 29th of April 2009 are not revised, we have no choice but to withdraw from the FIA Formula One World Championship at the end of 2009.”
--ING Renault F1 Team Managing Director, Flavio Briatore

F1 Grand Prix of Spain - Qualifying


Read the statement in full.

Meanwhile, at Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa released statements in the wake of team's decision.

Toyota team president John Howett, in an interview with Autosport, stresses the teams wish to continue in F1, but want “to establish a correct and proper basis of governance for the sport.”

Obviously, we are playing a game of brinksmanship, and while big words are being bandied about, Bernie Ecclestone is hoping cooler heads will win out.

“I hope common sense will prevail because the last thing we want to do is lose any of the manufacturers or teams currently in Formula One,” he told the Times.


FOTA is to meet with Mosley ahead of Monaco.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ferrari says it will quit

In the latest round of the battle of wills between Ferrari and the FIA, The Scuderia announced today on its Web site it will quit F1 over the new technical regulations.

Key to its decision:
"The Board of Directors also examined developments related to recent decisions taken by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile during an extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council on 29 April 2009. Although this meeting was originally called only to examine a disciplinary matter, the decisions taken mean that, for the first time ever in Formula 1, the 2010 season will see the introduction of two different sets of regulations based on arbitrary technical rules and economic parameters."

Read the full statement.


F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain - Practice


Bernie Ecclestone has been moving to smooth the waters between the FIA and the teams over the budget cap rules, and told the Times the possibility of a "two-tier" championship is "slowly disappearing."

The Times said another hang up for the teams, according to Ecclestone, is the prospect of outsiders having access to their books, but the F1 chief downplayed the possibility that would happen, as well.

Prior to the meeting, Ecclestone said he didn't think Ferrari would leave the sport.

"Ferrari are not stupid," he said. "They don’t want to leave Formula One and we don’t want to lose them, so we’ll get to grips with it."


Teams have until May 29 to file an entry for 2010.

British Grand Prix to skip a year

In the same article with the Times, Ecclestone said he would be happy to leave the British Grand Prix off the schedule for a year if work on Donington Park cannot be completed in time for 2010, again ruling out the possibility Silverstone could hold the race in Donington's place.

Hamilton talks Spain and beyond

Lewis Hamilton discusses his thoughts following a disappointing weekend in Barcelona, and what the rest of the season holds on his Web site. While he knows he doesn't have the car he needs to defend the championship, he's still optimistic.

"I definitely think we can turn the corner with this car - I don't think the whole car is wrong, I think perhaps a small issue is triggering a bigger problem somewhere else. And that's encouraging because it means we could hit a breakthrough at any stage. We've definitely taken some big steps forward and we've learnt from some of our mistakes too - we're all optimistic for the next few races."


Brawn: No favoritism

Ross Brawn moved to calm the controversy that has erupted since a decision to changes Jenson Button's strategy led to a win over teammate Rubens Barrichello at last Sundays Spanish Grand Prix.

"We don't have a one and a two driver," Brawn told BBC Radio 5 Live. "They're both on equal terms and conditions."


Brawn also said the portrayal of Barrichello's anger was overblown by the media.

Williams fed up with Nico?

Is Nico Rosberg under fire at Williams? James Allen thinks something's up... Williams question ‘inconsistent’ Rosberg

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Ferrari considers its F1 future

Ferrari’s board of directors meet Tuesday to discuss its future in the sport, the company announced in a statement.


F1 2009 - Rd5 Spanish GP - Practice


Ferrari Board of Directors’ meeting will be held tomorrow

Maranello 11 May 2009 – Ferrari Board of Directors’ meeting will be held tomorrow at the Ferrari Headquarters in Maranello.

The agenda includes
  • First quarter performance and forecast 2009;
  • Current situation analysis, governance developments and future F1
The meeting will begin at 3 p.m.

It is no secret the team has been at odds with the FIA over the £40m budget cap for 2010. Chief among concerns is the possibility the sport would be run under two sets of regulations.

Max Mosley has famously said the sport will survive without Ferrari, though F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has said he will not allow that to happen.

While the budget cap has found favor among some of the teams, Toyota and Red Bull (and, of course, Toro Rosso) have also threatened to pull out over the “two-tier” system.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Four of five for Button and Brawn

There was a lot of talk about Brawn facing a stiffer challenge when the series mades its way back home to Europe, but in the end, it was Jenson Button and Brawn GP who dominated Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya.

F1 Grand Prix of Spain - Race


Taking advantage of a change in strategy following a safety car period brought about by a four-car pile-up on the first lap, Button took his fourth win of five ahead of teammate Rubens Barrichello.

Mark Webber finished third in his Red Bull, breaking through past Ferrari’s Felipe Massa in the final stages of the race as the Brazilian was forced to conserve fuel. Stablemate Sebastian Vettel was fourth.

Massa would also fall to hometown favorite Fernando Alonso on the final lap, having to settle for sixth after an otherwise outstanding race.

Nick Heidfeld picked up two points for BMW Sauber, and Nico Rosberg finished eighth to round out the points scorers.

The first lap accident was in many ways the story of the race, eliminating Jarno Trulli, the Toro Rossos and Adrian Sutil, and bringing out the safety car for five laps.

As Barrichello took off in the lead when the safety car came in, teams scrambled to alter their strategies. Brawn chose to take Button off the three-stopper they had Barrichello running, and it proved to be the correct decision.

It was a difficult day for McLaren, Lewis Hamilton lapped and both cars out of the points. The World Champion lamented not having a car to challenge for the title. Also out of the points were Toyota and BMW Sauber, and Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella was the final classified runner.

Two other retirements of note: Heikki Kovalainen due to gearbox issues, and Kimi Raikkonen on lap 18. Raikkonen also suffered from KERS issues after using the system to give him a great boost at the start.

Spanish Grand Prix (66 Laps)
  1. Jenson Button, Brawn - Mercedes
  2. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn - Mercedes
  3. Mark Webber, Red Bull - Renault
  4. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull - Renault
  5. Fernando Alonso, Renault
  6. Felipe Massa, Ferrari
  7. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
  8. Nico Rosberg, Williams - Toyota
  9. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren - Mercedes, +1
  10. Timo Glock, Toyota, +1
  11. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, +1
  12. Nelson Piquet, Renault, +1
  13. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams - Toyota, +1
  14. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India - Mercedes, +1
  • Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 17 Laps
  • Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren - Mercedes, 7 Laps, Gearbox
  • Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 0 Laps, Accident
  • Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso - Ferrari, 0 Laps, Accident
  • Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso - Ferrari, 0 Laps, Accident
  • Adrian Sutil, Force India - Mercedes, 0 Laps, Accident


Rubens Barrichello was visibly disappointed to see his win slip away. Was it another case of Ross Brawn favoring one driver over another? Brad Spurgeon has some thoughts on that.

So does James Allen, who also thinks Button is now “uncatchable.”

GP2
Romain Grosjean won race one while Edoardo Mortara took race 2. Find out more here.

Indy
Helio Castroneves took pole for this year’s edition of the Indy 500 on a good day for Penske. Ryan Briscoe and Dario Franchitti round out the front row. See first day qualifying results and qualification for places 12-22 here.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Button nips Vettel for P1 in Spain

Jenson Button edged Sebastian Vettel by a tenth in the dying seconds of qualifying to put his Brawn on pole for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Feel free to insert your own Terminator Salvation reference here...

F1 2009 - Rd5 Spanish GP – Practice


Button, who has been unhappy with his car all weekend, ran behind teammate Rubens Barrichello through much of qualifying, but pulled it out when it counted. Barrichello will start third.

Vettel's Red Bull stablemate Mark Webber starts fourth.

Ferrari finished 1-2 in the final practice session this morning, and Massa mixed it up with the Brawns and Red Bulls in Q3, putting himself in fifth. Interestingly, Massa's car is one of the heavier cars in the top 10, a fact that makes Kimi Raikkonen's 16th look all the worse.

The team blamed a "miscalculation" for the Finn's inability to get out of Q1, but that makes twice this year, an unforgivable offense back in the Todt years.

The Toyotas locked up sixth and seventh, while hometown hero Fernando Alonso starts eighth.

Once again, Nico Rosberg's Friday pace did not translate into qualifying, his heavily-fueled Williams down in ninth, and Robert Kubica rounds out the top 10 in his BMW Sauber.

Well off the pace was McLaren, Lewis Hamilton the better of the pair in 14th. Heikki Kovalainen was eliminated in Q1.

The grid and pre-race weights
  1. Jenson Button, Brawn GP, 646kg
  2. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 651.5
  3. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn GP, 649.5
  4. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 655
  5. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 651.5
  6. Timo Glock, Toyota, 646.5
  7. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 655.5
  8. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 645
  9. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 668
  10. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 660
  11. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 676.6
  12. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 677.4
  13. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 676.3
  14. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 683
  15. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 678
  16. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 673
  17. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 669
  18. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 657
  19. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 675
  20. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, 656


Did you miss it? From the BBC: Spanish GP qualifying as it happened

GP2

Roman Grosjean took pole for the season opener. Lucas Di Grassi joins him on the front row.

Indy

It's pole day for the boys and girls at Indy. You can follow it all here.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday: Rosberg tops in Spain

It must be practice. Nico Rosberg once again topped the charts on Friday as cars hit the track in Barcelona, as he and teammate Kazuki Nakajima finished 1-2 in the second session.

F1 Grand Prix of Spain - Previews


Rosberg's time of 1:21.588 bested Jenson Button's morning mark of 1:21.799 to take best of day honors, though the German rolled to a stop on the circuit at the end of the session.

Also topping Button's morning time were Nakajima and Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard finished third.

It was Button, Jarno Trulli and Robert Kubica in the morning session.

It's hard to tell anything from practice times, but for all the talk of a new start in Europe, it looks the usual suspects so far. Of course, that might all change tomorrow in qualifying.

First session
  1. Jenson Button, Brawn – Mercedes, 1: 21.799
  2. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:22.154
  3. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:22.221
  4. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:22.658
  5. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams – Toyota, 1:22.659
  6. Nico Rosberg, Williams – Toyota, 1:22.667
  7. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 1:22.753
  8. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:22.828
  9. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:22.855
  10. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn – Mercedes, 1:22.859
  11. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:22.873
  12. Mark Webber, RedBull – Renault, 1:22.934
  13. Sebastian Vettel, RedBull – Renault, 1:22.959
  14. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren – Mercedes, 1:23.077
  15. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso – Ferrari, 1:23.088
  16. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India – Mercedes, 1:23.089
  17. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:23.157
  18. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso – Ferrari, 1:23.185
  19. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren – Mercedes, 1:23.522
  20. Adrian Sutil, Force India – Mercedes, 1:23.536

Second session
  1. Nico Rosberg, Williams – Toyota, 1:21.588
  2. Kazuki Nakajima, Renault, 1:21.781
  3. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:21.781
  4. Rubens Barrichello, RedBull – Renault, 1:22.027
  5. Mark Webber, RedBull – Renault, 1:22.027
  6. Jenson Button, Brawn – Mercedes, 1:22.052
  7. Sebastian Vettel, RedBull – Renault, 1:22.082
  8. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 1:22.349
  9. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, 1:22.571
  10. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:22.599
  11. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso – Ferrari, 1:22.615
  12. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India-Mercedes, 1:22.670
  13. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren – Mercedes, 1:22.809
  14. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren – Mercedes, 1:22.876
  15. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:22.878
  16. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:22.948
  17. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:23.173
  18. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:23.360
  19. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:23.623
  20. Adrian Sutil, Force India – Mercedes, no time


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Thursday, May 7, 2009

A virtual lap of Spain


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"Concerned" FOTA wants a meeting, and what of KERS?

The Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) expressed its concern over the new rules for 2010 and requested "urgent talks" with the FIA in a statement following yesterday's meeting.

At heart is the £40 million budget cap, and the possibility of a "two-tiered" system where teams which opt to run under the cap would benefit from less restrictive regulations.

FOTA reiterated it's commitment to cost cutting, and expressed hope it could work with the FIA to progressively reduce costs over the next two years. Earlier this year, FOTA proposed its own cost-cutting plan which was largely ignored by the FIA.

FOTA's press release:

Press Release
Date:
6 May, 2009

London, 6 May 2009 – The FOTA Executive Committee met today in Heathrow to examine the new regulations proposed by the FIA for the 2010 F1 Championship and to evaluate the progress of the negotiations with the Commercial Rights Holder for the renewal of the Concorde Agreement.

FOTA held a positive and constructive meeting and agreed to continue working together in a methodical manner for the definition of further cost-reduction in 2010 and 2011, progressing along the path begun in 2008.

FOTA has concerns with the decisions taken at the last WMSC meeting regarding the 2010 regulations and therefore asks to begin urgent consultations with the FIA.



KERS SAFE sign on top of the Red Bull Racing, RB5 during testing in Spain


Is there value in KERS?

With many teams dropping KERS for Spain and questions about the technology's relevance to road cars, one has to wonder about the value of investing so much money in these systems.

Admittedly, there is a true, innovative quality to Williams' flywheel (which, unfortunately, has yet to see action on the track), enough so that the team set up a subsidiary company to apply the technology to real world use on trains and buses. According to F1 Racing, there has been interest.

But the rest of the field, or those who can afford to do so anyway, have been using batteries which are tossed away after each race. Anything but "green." And their systems are the result of a lot of investment and man hours. Hardly cost-cutting.

Granted, on track KERS has delivered a performance boost that has allowed McLaren, for one, to at least remain within viewing distance of the Red Bulls and Brawns, but teams like BMW Sauber and Renault have all but abandoned the technology. Deep-pocket teams who are obviously saying, "It's not worth it."

It seems to fly in the face of cost cutting to encourage teams to pour millions into a technology that Mercedes has already said has no application in road cars, when that was the selling point in the first place.

So, what now? There is talk of a standardized system for 2010. Will this be battery-based? The only version of this system with a commercial future seems to have been development of the aforementioned revolutionary Williams flywheel. Are we to throw that away?

Will Gray has an interesting analysis on the value of KERS this season for Eurosport.

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Weekend weather update - no rain expected for Spain

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Of all the things I've seen in my life, this is definitely one of them:



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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Super Best Friends to return?

Adding his name to the list of those looking at entering a budget-capped F1? Aguri Suzuki.

Spanish Formula One Grand Prix: Previews


"If it's physically possible I would certainly like to," ITV reports he told the Sankei Sports newspaper.


Plus, Brits on Pole has a nice analysis on the future of A1GP, and things are getting underway in Indianapolis, where rookies are getting track time in preparation for this year's 500.

Indy trackside reports:

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A reprieve for Donington

The North West Leicestershire District Council extended Donington Park's deadline to the end of June to show it can make the necessary upgrades for 2010's British Grand Prix.

Should Simon Gillett's Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd be unable to satisfy the requirements of the council, planning permission will be revoked.

British Formula One Grand Prix: Practice


Gillett will need to come to terms with circuit owner Tom Wheatcroft, who is currently seeking £2.47m in back rent and pursuing the forfeiture Gillett's 150-year lease.

Gillett remains convinced he can have the circuit ready for the 2010 race.

Plus, James Allen takes a look at who’s doing what with new cars in Spain, and grandprix.com has some thoughts on tomorrow's FOTA meeting.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Bernie expects compromise on budget cap

Max Mosley may say F1 can survive without Ferrari, but Bernie Ecclestone isn’t about to let that happen.

In an interview with the Times’ Edward Gorman, Ecclestone said the FIA’s brand new £40 million budget cap will likely be increased so as to dispense with the possibility of a two-tier championship.

McLaren At F.I.A Inquiry In Paris


The F1 chief believes everyone is in favor of a cap, just not running under two sets of regulations. The Times article speculates an increase in the cap to about £60 million for 2010, with aims to settle down to £40 million by 2012, would be acceptable.

“The trouble with Max is he’s not capable, like in the past, of wrapping things up nicely with a pink ribbon and things. He wants to put it in an old cardboard box and tie it with string,” Ecclestone told the Times.

“The trouble with Luca, is that you shouldn’t let Max ever be in a position where he can start a debate or an argument. He’s reasonably clever and you won’t win,” he explained. “Even if you do win, it’s like you being in the audience and me being there with the microphone. You say something smart and I don’t give you the microphone — it’s as easy as that.”

British Grand Prix lifeline?

Meanwhile, a second article in the Times speculates Silverstone may still be in the frame to host the British Grand Prix as it become increasingly likely Donington’s plans will fall through.

It is believed the British race is a key component to a new Concorde agreement as one of the sport’s five protected “heritage races,” and despite Ecclestone’s “no Donington, no race” rhetoric, Silverstone remains on standby if he wants the deal signed.

Carroll, Ireland claim A1GP crown

Adam Carroll won the A1GP championship for Team Ireland by dominating the weekend at the season-ending race at Brands Hatch.

The final round in Mexico was canceled due to swine flu.

Carroll took pole for both the sprint and feature races, winning both.

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

A war of words, and some thoughts on blogging

A quiet weekend between races for F1, with most of the attention focused on the war of words between Luca di Montezemolo and Max Mosley. With a FOTA meeting coming up, its getting interesting, especially for those who dig the politics of the sport as much as the racing.

For those of you interested in the he said/he said exchange of letters, Joe Saward’s Grand Prix Blog has links to both.

James Allen, who interviewed Mosley for the Financial Times, adds post-interview insight on his own blog.

Saward also adds some great commentary about how F1 doesn’t do enough to understand and cultivate its audience. These are a lot of the arguments we hear, perhaps a bit less coherently, in America about the sport. Its reassuring, if disappointing, to hear those same thoughts echoed in Europe.

I often talk up these blogs and a few others. I know many people prefer fan blogs, but honestly, my interest lies on the inside information, and people like Joe Saward, James Allen and Brad Spurgeon, who can bring it to me.

It’s one of the reasons I have designed this site to be a launching point to what is making news out there. Plenty of links to reputable news sites laced with an occasional bit of my own opinion. I can’t imagine anyone is really interested in what my first race was or who I rooted for back then, I know I’m not.

I want to know about KERS and budget caps and diffusers. And the places to go for that are the experts, not some fan remotely interjecting “expert analysis.” My goal is simply to gather all those juicy bits into one place so you can jump right to the cool stuff. It’s what I’d want in the ideal F1 blog.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Ayrton Senna

Ayrton Senna

March 21, 1960 – May 1, 1994
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F1 poised for budget battle

Reactions continue to be mixed concerning the FIA's budget cap, with independents cautiously optimistic and manufacturers concerned.

F1 2009 - Rd 4 Bahrain GP - Button Wins As Toyota Fades


Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has written a letter to the FIA expressing his fears, and while FOTA has not yet responded as a body, this obviously speaks volumes.

Max Mosley quickly responded with a letter of his own to the Times and the Telegraph, and copied to all the team principals. It could be described as less than sympathetic.

Meanwhile, representing one of those organizations that has said it would consider an entry if the cap were in place, Prodrive's David Richards stresses the need for stability in the sport, as well.

Felipe baby, stay cool

Who ever said forcing Ferrari to make their radio transmissions public would be a bad thing? Destined to be an instant classic, this little exchange between race engineer Rob Smedley and Felipe Massa has been one of the highlights of the season.



Inspired by the exchange, the folks at Sidepodcast (who, incidentally, do a great job and have become popular for a reason), came up with this little ditty. This is, perhaps, the best F1-related song since "Eddie Irvine Lives In My Wardrobe." Follow the link for the fun.

The fine print on McLaren

For those of you who enjoy legalese, the FIA has released its full McLaren decision.

Hartley named Red Bull's third man

Superlicense in hand, New Zealander Brendon Hartley officially replaces David Coulthard as reserve driver for Red Bull.

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