Day: December 11, 2013

A man cleans a motorhome of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) in the paddock area of the Nuerburgring racing circuit

FIA opens new selection process for 12th team in F1

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After 11 teams contested this year’s Formula One World Championship, the FIA is now looking for a 12th franchise to join the F1 grid in either the 2015 or 2016 season.

Potential entries have been asked to submit a formal expression of interest and an initial administration fee of $5,000 to the FIA by Jan. 3, 2014.

In its call for a new team, the FIA mentioned several criteria for selection including:

  • The technical ability and resources of the team;
  • The ability of the team to raise and maintain sufficient funding to allow participation in the championship at a competitive level;
  • The team’s experience and human resources;
  • The FIA’s assessment of the value that the candidate may bring to the championship as a whole.

The FIA also said that they anticipate full applications will need to be submitted by Feb. 10, 2014, with a final decision set for Feb. 28, 2014. However, they did leave themselves an out in regards to finding a new team.

“In the event that no applicant is considered suitable by both the FIA and the commercial rights holder, no additional team will be selected,” the call stated.

The last time new teams were admitted into Formula One came in 2010, when Hispania, Virgin Racing and Lotus Racing joined the series. Hispania became HRT and then folded at the end of 2012, while Virgin and Lotus Racing have morphed respectively into their current forms as Marussia and Caterham.

TCGR sets press conference for Friday regarding 2014 season

GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma - Day 2

We may be on the verge of finding out who will replace the retired Dario Franchitti in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet (pictured) for the 2014 IndyCar Series.

This afternoon, TCGR confirmed a press conference for Friday morning at the Performance Racing Industry trade show that’s currently ongoing in Indianapolis.

The release noted that team officials would make “major announcements” concerning the upcoming season.

Alex Tagliani recently tested the No. 10 car at Sebring alongside Ganassi newcomer Tony Kanaan in his No. 8 NTT Data machine, reigning IndyCar champ Scott Dixon, and Charlie Kimball. Tagliani also drove the No. 10 this past October in the 2013 season finale at Auto Club Speedway.

However, Ryan Briscoe has also been speculated as a prime candidate for the No. 10 seat as well. Briscoe ran the 2005 season with TCGR and drove a fourth Ganassi machine at this past year’s Indianapolis 500. Additionally, Kanaan has been mentioned for a possible move over to the No. 10.

Baron, Celis, Telitz lead Road to Indy Barber test

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The two-day Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test at Barber Motorsports Park is in the books for all of Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000. This test marked the first time all three series ran together while on Cooper Tires, as Indy Lights makes the switch this offseason ahead of 2014, and all under the Andersen Promotions umbrella.

As he did on his USF2000 debut in Monterey, when he won in his first start at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Frenchman Alexandre Baron led the timesheets in Indy Lights with a best lap of 1:15.726. Andretti Autosport teammates Zach Veach (1:16.026) and Matthew Brabham (1:16.234) were next up over the times combined from two days. Four other drivers tested.

Baron (pictured) will drive for Belardi Auto Racing in Indy Lights in 2014; he won two of his four USF2000 starts this season. And no, he’s not the same driver as 1997 Formula Atlantic champion Alex Barron, who drove portions of nine seasons between IndyCar and CART.

In Pro Mazda, Mexican rookie Alfonso Celis upset the regulars with a best lap of 1:20.490 driving for Juncos Racing. One-time race winners in 2013, Shelby Blackstock (Andretti) and Spencer Pigot (Juncos) were next up at 1:20.698 and 1:21.034, respectively. Neither Celis nor Pigot has a confirmed deal yet for 2014, while Blackstock, son of country music star Reba McIntyre, will lead Andretti’s Pro Mazda effort in his second season.

The two who dueled for the USF2000 championship in 2013, Scott Hargrove and Neil Alberico of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, clocked in 11th and 12th of the 18 testing.

Skip Barber Race Series Scholarship Shootout winner Aaron Telitz led the USF2000 field in testing driving for Afterburner Autosport, with a best lap of 1:23.283. Cape’s USF2000 driver, Jake Eidson, was second at 1:23.381 with one of Belardi’s four confirmed drivers, Nico Jamin, third at 1:23.598. 20 drivers tested for seven teams in USF2000.

Cold temperatures means this won’t be a great foreshadowing of the spring, when Indy Lights races there in April, but might be a good forecast for the Cooper Tire Winterfest for the races at Barber on February 25-26, 2014. The Winterfest will also be held at NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans Feb. 21-22.

Bid to improve racing at 1.5-mile ovals continues for NASCAR

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Still searching for ways to improve the on-track product on intermediate ovals, NASCAR staged a second test session today at Charlotte Motor Speedway that featured a series of simulated races for different aero packages in addition to traditional single-car runs.

“One of the things that we learned and the reason we’re back here with so many cars is it is different when you have 30 cars or 25 cars out there versus the six,” NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said this morning.

“It was important for us to come back here with a field of cars that we did. It gave us a little bit different view on some of the answers. It’s put us in some different directions.”

Five different sets of configurations were tested in the aforementioned races. Race 1, with Configuration 1, was “won” by Kevin Harvick by almost five seconds, with Harvick posting a best lap of 194.868 mph.

But Race 2, with Configuration 2, had Kyle Larson take P1 by a much smaller margin of .844 of a second and with a slower quick lap of 191.755 mph. In Race 3 (Configuration 3), Harvick was quickest again at 192.692 mph and beat Larson by 3.8 seconds.

The final two races saw things slow down further. Race 4 (Configuration 4) featured Larson returning to the top with a quick lap of 190.921 mph and the closest margin of victory (.219 of a second over Harvick). Finally, Harvick paced Race 5 (Configuration 5) at 189.907 mph, beating Larson by 4.5 seconds.

It’ll be a lot of data to sift through for NASCAR but its vice president of innovation and racing development, Gene Stefanyshyn, said multiple types of feedback, objective and subjective, would be taken into consideration in regards to the final 2014 aero packages.

“We have to take all that, triangulate it, try to find the alliance and what makes sense,” Stefanyshyn said. “It’s just a matter of looking at it all. If the data says this, there’s somebody that says something totally different, we scratch our head, see what other people said. You kind of balance it all.

“It’s not a perfect science, but we try to take all those inputs and utilize them in the triangulation to find the right answer. You will never get 100% agreement on everything. So really, you’re kind of looking for the 70% answer here that kind of leads you in the right direction.”

Still learning: Montoya tackles Phoenix oval in test session


Former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Juan Pablo Montoya is no stranger to Phoenix International Raceway. But for his second round of IndyCar testing with Team Penske on Tuesday, he might as well have been.

Because while it’s one thing to navigate “The Desert Jewel” with a heavy stock car, it’s quite another to do the same in an open-wheeler.

“We did some laps in the road car and said ‘In NASCAR, we brake here and here,'” Montoya said on Tuesday. “And [teammate Helio Castroneves] was like, ‘No, this is going to be wide open.’ I’m like, ‘What?'”

The point was driven home further to Montoya when he observed Castroneves zipping around the track.

“In the straight, it just goes fast, but you don’t really realize how fast he’s going until he turns and the thing just snaps into the corner,” he said. “And then you go into [Turns] Three and Four and you know – ‘Wow, your foot never moved.’

“For me, the big difference is the entry to the corner. Once you get to the middle of the corner, whatever speed you have, you are committed to. You can see the exit, too, and you’re like, ‘Ahhh…'”

Montoya later commented on the speed disparity between the IndyCars and the Cup cars around PIR on Twitter:

He was also complimentary of PIR, saying that “most of the ovals, and actually all of the tracks” should have such a driving experience like that of the one-mile oval.

On that note, PIR president Bryan Sperber continued to maintain his stance on a possible return by IndyCar to his facility, saying that “the ball is in their court.”

“Phoenix International Raceway began as an open-wheel track and we would love nothing more than to have open-wheel racing back at PIR in the future,” he said.

“I’ve been very honest with the management at IndyCar about what it would take to be able to run here…Hopefully, the interest in running at Phoenix International Raceway becomes sufficient enough that they would like to pursue that opportunity, but we don’t anticipate any immediate changes to our 2014 racing schedule.”

Photo Credit: John Hendrick/INDYCAR