Ferrari: No driver announcement at Monza

Leave a comment

All hopes of Ferrari making an announcement regarding its driver line-up for next season at the Italian Grand Prix next weekend have been doused after the team dismissed the move on its official website.

Kimi Raikkonen has been frequently linked to the team in recent weeks, with the Finn thought to be in line to replace Felipe Massa for 2014. However, although such a move has not been denied by either party, the team did confirm that no announcement would be made at its home grand prix at Monza next weekend despite popular opinion being that this is a “custom” for the team.

“Often in Formula 1, these customs are created artificially, just because they sound nice or because they can be made to fit one’s theories about something,” the team explained in its Horse Whisperer blog. “One of these states that the Scuderia likes to announce its driver line-up for the following year at the Italian Grand Prix.

“Well, I’m sorry to disappoint all those with feverish imaginations, who are awaiting Monza in trepidation, but this particular presumed custom is a non-starter.”

Monza is thought to be the ideal location for any announcements from Ferrari, being the team’s home grand prix and playing host to thousands of fans – the Tifosi – who are draped in team colours for the weekend. However, history shows that making an announcement at the race is a rarity.

“All one needs to do is look at the facts,” the article stated. “From 1991, when the Maranello press office first began to put its official pronouncements down on paper, until now, only twice, in 2006 and 2008, has the team’s home grand prix provided the backdrop to an announcement regarding the drivers.”

Therefore, it is unlikely that we will see a conclusion to this part of ‘silly season’ any time soon.

Read NBC’s team-by-team guide to the driver market here.

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

Getty Images
Leave a comment

If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.