The Dubai authorities have announced plans for a new winter championship to fill the winter months. Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum, the nephew of the Crown Prince of Dubai, told the Reuters newsagency that the series, to be called A1 will start in the autumn of 2005.
There is no big surprise in the announcement that Imola will not be holding a Grand Prix again after the race in 2004. The Italian circuit will make way for one of the new races, probably Turkey.
DAMS, the Le Mans-based team which once had F1 aspirations is planning to move back up the motor racing ladder after a period in the Renault V6 championship.
Nick Heidfeld will drive for Jordan in 2004 and that means that Jos Verstappen is in trouble because if he wants to drive for the Silverstone team this year he is going to have to outbid Benson & Hedges for the second seat.
Renault F1 boss Patrick Faure said at the Renault launch yesterday that all the teams will be receiving a $10m payout once the deal is down between the Formula One group and the car manufacturers. The money will come from a fund which was frozen for some years as part of the Formula One Eurobond issue.
On Thursday afternoon Antonia Pizzonia showed why he feels that he was treated badly at Jaguar Racing last year by taking his 2003 Williams-BMW around the Valencia track in a new lap record, beating Juan Pablo Montoya by two-tenths of a second and going half a second quicker than Ralf Schumacher.
The launch of the Renault R24 took place in the Teatro Massimo, in Palermo, Sicily with the French F1 team hoping that this year will be the year in which it begins to challenge the top Formula 1 teams.
The Renault Formula 1 team decided for some odd reason to launch its new car in Palermo, Sicily. The Italian authorities are happy to turn a blind eye to tobacco rules so long as teams pay a small fine so there is some logic in launching in Italy but having the unveiling 1000 miles from Milan makes little sense.
The split in American open-wheeler racing will continue - and Formula 1 will be able to take advantage of the situation. Yesterday in Indianapolis Judge Frank Otte approved the sale of the assets of the Champ Car World Serie to Open Wheel Racing Series.
Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatore reckons that the team will be serious challengers for the World Championship this year - and he hopes that the words will no come back to haunt him.
As we have been suggesting for some time, it seems that Antonio Pizzonia will shortly be named as BMW Williams's second test driver for 2004. The Brazilian driver was back with Williams at Valencia on Wednesday and it is anticipated that he will be confirmed in a permanent role with the team later this week or next week.
Formula 1 bosses will be looking to America later today to see the outcome of the auction between CART and the Indy Racing League to see whether there will be two competing open-wheeler championships in the United States or whether the two will be combined under the control of the IRL.
Toyota has overtaken the Ford Motor Company to become the world's second biggest car seller. In 2003 the Japanese firm sold a total of 6.78m cars while Ford sold 6.72m.
The news that at least two cities of India's states are bidding for a Grand Prix is not really a surprise. India is a country with an extraordinarily complex social system with ethnic, religious, social and linguistic diversity and there are many complicated rivalries between the regions.
The negotiations between Jordan Grand Prix and Jos Verstappen have come to a screeching halt with an announcement from Holland that the talks are off. The Verstappen management, headed by Trust owner Michel Perridon, are not happy with the contracts which Jordan is offering.
The chances of tobacco sponsorship coming to an end around the world in 2006 are reducing. Originally the intention was for all tobacco sponsorship in all motorsport to be stopped at the end of 2006.
Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn last week had a day off from Ferrari in order to tour Bridgestone Europe's Technical Centre on the outskirts of Rome.
Renault has announced details of its Driver Development programme with the announcement that Jose-Maria Lopez will be moving to Formula 3000 and that Heikki Kovalainen will stay for another year in the the Formula Nissan World Series.
Although the Ferrari F2004 is an evolution of the successful F2003 GA it has been completely revised with each part being looked at to see if improvement is possible, particularly in relation to the change in the engine regulations.
The new Ferrari F2004 is not radical at all - despite descriptions earlier this month by team boss Jean Todt. The new car is an evolution of the existing F2003 GA with the team having once again looked at all aspects of the cars and tried to improve them.
Indy Racing League president Tony George has said that, if he needs to, he will bid higher than $3.3m he has offered for selected assets of the bankrupt CART.
The negotiation process for a future Grand Prix in India is now developing quickly.
Ferrari's new F2004 will be unveiled later today in Maranello and the Formula 1 world is waiting with interest to see what Ferrari is going to do to improve on last year's F2003 GA, which often struggled to compete with the Williams FW25.
The management of the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia is encouraging the local population to race at Sepang and not on the streets of the country.
There are reports in Sweden's Expressen magazine that Bjorn Wirdheim has landed the deal to be Jaguar's test driver in 2004, fighting off a bid for the job from America's Townsend Bell and from British Formula 3 Champion Alan Van der Merwe from South Africa.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad handed over power to his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Very quickly Abdullah began to distance himself from some of Mahathir's policies particularly his expensive commitment to what he called "mega-projects".
The Indianapolis Star newspaper is reporting that the Indy Racing League has topped OWRS's bid for the assets of bankrupt rival Championship Auto Racing Teams.
The role of third driver at Jaguar Racing this year appears to be in dispute.
Fernando Alonso went fastest of all the Formula 1 cars in the Barcelona test on Friday afternoon but his time of 1m15.433s is not close to the time set by Jenson Button's BAR-Honda on Thursday and thus has left everyone wondering what fuel load the Renault was carrying...
There has been much talk today of Jos Verstappen having given Jordan Grand Prix a deadline of close of business to day to take up his offer of sponsorship for 2004. Jordan has ignored the deadline and thus if Verstappen is serious about it, his Formula 1 career is over.
It is rumoured in Switzerland that Ferrari has made an offer to pay Sauber to run a third car in tests on Fridays at each Grand Prix.
The politics of Formula 1 and tobacco is highly complicated. One of the most complex problems has been in Belgium where the Formula One group and the teams have been in almost constant conflict with the local authorities.
The British motor racing industry seems to be constantly in opposition to measures which are being introduced by the European Commission.
The long-running battle in North American open-wheeler racing is coming to a head with the Indy Racing League making a bid for selected assets of the bankrupt CART organization, in competition to a collection of CART team owners who want to revive the series.
The suggestion that has appeared in various magazines in recent days that the Sauber is too closely related to the 2003 Ferrari is not a surprise.
Jenson Button smashed the lap record in Barcelona on Thursday with a lap of 1m14.607s, about a second faster than the previous best.
The FIA has published an open letter to the European Union on the subject of the European Arrest warrant, pointing out that the Formula 1 teams have not "woken up to the European Arrest Warrant too late".
Jaguar Racing says that the new R5 does not have any fundamental problems despite the fact that the car has not produced any startling laps times this week in testing in Barcelona.
Questions are beginning to be asked about the performance of the new Jaguar R5 after a couple of days of very disappointing performance in Barcelona. The word on the street is that the new car has a major aerodynamic problem.
The Williams team is testing Nico Rosberg this week in Barcelona and next week will give Nelson Piquet Jr another run in testing but the signs are that neither man is going to end up as the team's second test driver, working alongside Marc Gene.
A couple of days ago the deal was virtually done, but the difficult relationship between Jos Verstappen and his supporters and Jordan Grand Prix continues with the decision by the team that the Dutchman will not now be testing this week.
The Formula 1 circus has in recent years been at the forefront of attempts to stop the gradual spread of tobacco advertising bans.
The new Renault R24 completed its second day of running in Barcelona in the hands of Jarno Trulli and the new car has completed around 350 miles in the course of the two days without any major technical problems.
The European Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs has had a run-in with the FIA over the European Arrest Warrant problems. The FIA President Max Mosley has asked the various governments to look at the legislation and allow for Formula 1 to be exempted from the European Arrest Warrant.
One of the stars of the post-war 500cc Formula 3 scene, Alan Brown has died at the age of 84. He was the first man to score points for the Cooper Car Company in a Formula 1 World Championship event when he finished fifth in the Swiss Grand Prix of 1952.
Bas Leinders wanted to make a big impression on Jordan but things didn't start out well.
BMW's 2002 accounts make interesting reading. The company has recently restated its accounts as it switches to a new accounting system and this reveals a few secrets which were not apparent when the original accounts were published.
The new GP2 Championship which was launched yesterday is apparently not being organised by Renault. The French car company issued a press release today saying that it is only involved in the championship as it is the supplier of the engines.
The new Renault R24 has begun testing in Barcelona, with Jarno Trulli giving the new car its first shakedown runs.
McLaren's third driver Alexander Wurz has not been testing for the team since Jerez in early December, where he discovered that he cannot drive the car because there is no room for his knees inside the monocoque.
Marc Gene, the Williams F1 test driver, set the fastest lap of the winter in Barcelona yesterday, lapping the Circuit de Catalunya in 1m15.928s. Ralf Schumacher was not far behind with a lap of 1m16.176s.
The Formula 1 races in Belgium, Britain and Spain are in immediate danger because of their implementation of the latest European Arrest Warrant legislation.
Renault has announced its plans to run a Formula 3000-level series to be called GP2 at every Grand Prix in 2005.
Jordan Grand Prix will confirm Jos Verstappen as one of its 2004 drivers tomorrow. The Dutchman will then test for the team in Barcelona on Thursday and Friday. The team is running Bas Leinders and Timo Glock on the first two days of the test but neither of them is in line for the second Jordan seat.
Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro has lost its chief track engineer for engines, Pino d'Agostino. The 55-year-old engineer from Taranto was in charge of dyno development, production and track development in the tests and at races. He had been with Ferrari since recruited from Alfa Romeo in 1997.
Jos Verstappen and his manager Michel Perridon made a big mistake some weeks ago when they announced to the world that they were no longer in negotiation with Minardi, and that gave Eddie Jordan the whip hand in all negotiations.
Jaguar Racing boss Tony Purnell says that the team will be disputing fourth place in the World Championship this year.
The Toyota Driving Academy has been extended to add two new youngsters, who will follow in the footsteps of Australian Ryan Briscoe, who last year won the Formula 3 Euroseries driving for the Prema Powerteam.
Jaguar Racing launched their new contender for the 2004 Formula 1 season at Barcelona on Sunday morning. The car is an evolution of last year's R4 with the problem areas having been redesigned and a great deal of work going into vehicle dynamics and reliability work.
Mark Webber says that he hopes that the new Jaguar R5 will give him his first chance to get on the F1 podium.
One of the major items under discussion at Friday's team bosses meeting was the new European arrest warrant which is due to replace the current system of extradition between countries.
Although Toyota will not say how much it is spending in Formula 1, the team's President John Howett admits that it is not as big as last year, despite additional sponsorship deals from Denso and Intel.
Ryan Briscoe has been named Toyota's second test driver for the 2004 season. The young Australian is not going to be racing in any other series but there are rumours that he might be seen testing for Minardi, the deal being paid for by Toyota, which is keen for Briscoe to get as many miles as possible in F1 machinery.
Paul Stoddart's idea to run celebrity races with his two-seater F1 cars in 2004 looks like it is going to go ahead with one car per team, painted in team colours and driven by the regular third drivers, with a VIP guest in the back.
Panasonic Toyota Racing has unveiled its new TF104 in Cologne with the aim being to score points on a regular basis and get the team its first podium finish in F1.
The Toyota TF104 has been testing for two days at Paul Ricard and Olivier Panis says that the initial shakedown runs were very positive.
Former Toyota team boss Ove Andersson, who has stood down to make way for Tsutomu Tomita but remains an advisor to Panasonic Toyota Racing, says that the team is beginning to work as it should do.
The Formula 1 team bosses have somehow agreed that they will have an 18th race this year and the French Grand Prix is back on again. The race will take place on July 4, its original date.
The Denso Corporation, one of the world's leading automotive component firms, has become a commercial sponsor of the Toyota F1 team in addition to being a technical partner. Denso's logos will appear on the engine cover of the TF104, which is unveiled tomorrow in Cologne.
The word on the street at yesterday's launch of the Le Mans Endurance Series in Paris was that Jacques Villeneuve and Alain Prost are both looking around for drives in the new four-race championship.
One of Australia's most successful fashion models, Rachel Swaney, has been named as the "Face of Foster's" for the 2004 Australian Grand Prix. Swaney will undertake a series of duties which include promoting the event on nationwide television.
Giancarlo Fisichella and Felipe Massa were both in action at Valencia yesterday with the new Sauber C23 and the lap times of the Ferrari-lookalike car were impressive.
Formula 1 pretender Augusto Farfus Jr from Brazil has signed to drive alongside Gabriele Tarquini and Fabrizio Giovanardi in the works Alfa Romeo touring car team. Farfus is only just 20 and was the European Formula 3000 champion last year.
David Coulthard is not counting on being at McLaren in 2005, the team having already signed up Juan Pablo Montoya from Williams. But officially at least DC is not out of work until McLaren takes up its option to continue with Kimi Raikkonen.
Portugal is the latest country to have committed itself to enforcing a ban a global ban on tobacco sponsorship. The Portuguese signed the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control a few days ago.
The fate of the French Grand Prix will be decided today at a meeting of team principals in London and although there are a few attempts going on to keep optimistic, all the signs are that the race will be cancelled.
Belgian Bas Leinders will test for Jordan Grand Prix next week. Leinders is one of several drivers who are believed to have money available for the Jordan test drive but is not thought likely to be one of the team's race drivers in 2004. Those roles look set to go to Jos Verstappen and a British driver.
Formula 1 aspirant Giorgio Pantano is on the verge of signing for Super Nova Racing, to have another crack at the FIA International Formula 3000 title.
Toyota has gone into partnership with Intel, the US giant microprocessor company. The deal will see Intel logos on the cars and the Formula 1 team upgrading its computer systems to use the latest Intel processors.
The meeting which was planned for today to discuss an Indian GP has been postponed at the request of the Indians but the intention remains to have a contract signed and sealed as soon as possible so that the first race can be run in 2007.
Bernie Ecclestone Formula 1 "fixer" Philippe Gurdjian has been appointed to help the locals get everything ready in time for the planned race in April. Gurdjian has a long and successful record as a race organizer, having run 13 French Grands Prix and another three in both Malaysia and Spain.
The organizers of the Indian Grand Prix in Hyderabad will meet Bernie Ecclestone tomorrow for final talks about a contract for an event from 2007 onwards.
The Indy Racing League has confirmed that it is looking at buying the assets of rival CART. IRL personnel looked at the available assets last week and have until January 23 to decide whether or not to make an offer to the bankruptcy court in Indianapolis.
As we predicted several weeks ago Rubens Barrichello has re-signed for Ferrari for the 2005 and 2006 seasons. The contract is believed to be worth $12m a year.
Renault F1 has finally got its 2004 V10 engine up and running on the dynos at Viry-Chatillon. If all goes to plan the new engine will be put in a car and will begin track testing on Monday.
Reports from France in the last few days have indicated that Renault is to be supported in 2004 by the Spanish telephone company Telefonica. The team is reported to have signed a deal with Telefonica for $7m in sponsorship.
Giancarlo Fisichella has a two-year deal to drive for Sauber but the Italian says that he is hoping to be in a position to jump into one of the top teams in 2005 - if the opportunity presents itself.
The new Sauber C23 is a step back - and a step forward for the Swiss team. The C23 no longer features the "double keel" under the nose but rather depends on more conventional single keel aerodynamics developed by Willy Rampf and his team at Hinwil.
Peter Sauber has confirmed that his team is not intending to run a third car in 2004, despite the fact that it may be a disadvantage as the team will not be able to use the extra car to do tyre testing on Fridays at each Grand Prix.
Peter Sauber has added to his voice to the worries being expressed by various Formula 1 teams about the team dropping value of the US dollar. The American currency has dropped 17% against the Euro this year and this is affecting the F1 teams who do most of their sponsorships in dollars.
The Sauber team has signed new sponsorship deals with sponsors from China and the Middle East. The Swiss team has an agreement with Egypt's Sokhna Port and the Chinese insurance company Taikang Life, one of the country's top insurance businesses.
Sauber is to unveil its new C23 today in Salzburg, Austria, where sponsor Red Bull has built a huge new hangar to house its aviation collection.
In the light of Formula 1's plans to visit Bahrain in April, it is worth noting that the Paris-Dakar Rally has run into trouble in North Africa.
Talking to Formula 1 team owners has revealed that there is no chance at the moment that they are going to change the rules relating to who is allowed to take part in Friday testing at Grands Prix.
Jaguar Racing will unveil its new R5 next week and the team is cconfident that the new car is going to be a step forward for the team, which showed great promise with Mark Webber in 2003.
Jordan Grand Prix will use exactly the same engine at Jaguar Racing in 2004 - although the Silverstone-based team will pay for the privilege...
The annual Paris-Dakar rally raid is currently going on in Africa and a number of former Formula 1 drivers are figuring strongly in the event although none have been able to keep up the pace which has been set by Mitsubishi drivers Stephane Petershansel and his team mate Hiroshi Masuoka.
The Dutch motor racing fraternity seem to be convinced that Jos Verstappen has now done his deal with Jordan Grand Prix and that an announcement to that effect will be made on Monday. This makes perfect sense as Verstappen has the largest pot of sponsorship at the moment and has nowhere else to go.
Ford's Premier Automotive Group - comprising Land Rover, Jaguar, Aston Martin and Volvo - is reported to have returned a profit for the first time since it was formed in the late 1990s.
It is worth noting that the highest-rating sports broadcast in France last year was TF1's coverage of the Brazilian Grand Prix in April, which boasted a viewership of 9.5m people. This was 100,000 viewers more than Channel 2's coverage of the semi-final of the World Cup Rugby tournament.
The announcement that Vitantonio Liuzzi and Robert Doornbos have signed for the Arden International Formula 3000 team means that American Townsend Bell will not be staying with the team, despite having had a two-year deal.
Juan Pablo Montoya topped the timesheets for the second day running at the Jerez test, lapping the track in 1m16.721s after completing 85 laps with new Williams FW26.
Ferrari has joined forces with the Beta Utensili SpA, a longtime Formula 1 sponsor, which will supply tools and sponsorship for the team for the next three seasons. Beta was previously involved with Ferrari between 1976 and 1982.
Speaking at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo has said that Ferrari is suffering because it is not getting as much money as it used to on the cars it sells in the United States because of the weakness of the US dollar against the Euro.
The Chinese tobacco giant Hongta has just begun producing West-branded cigarettes in China, as part of a deal with the Imperial Tobacco Group, the world's fourth largest tobacco company.
Nick Hayes, the technical director of Cosworth Racing, is to take on a bigger role at races following the departure of the head of engineering Rob White to Renault. Hayes has been at Cosworth for close to 20 years working on the design and engineering of the company's F1 engines.
Testing times do not mean much but when Williams starts to turn in quick times on the first day of testing a new car, the opposition sits up and takes notice. Williams famously avoids any publicity stunts over the winter, allowing other teams to grab moments of glory with underweight cars.
There has been a lot of speculation in recent days about the settlement which was apparently agreed between the Formula One group and the car manufacturers shortly before Christmas. This is a subject that is bound to come up when the Formula 1 team bosses meet next week in London.
Sibneft spokesman John Mann says that there is no truth to the stories circulating that Russian businessman Roman Abramovich he is trying to buy out Eddie Jordan's Formula 1 team.
Hiring Rob White is a relatively radical move for the Renault F1 team. The 38-year-old Englishman is expected to go to Paris and lead a team of largely French engineers in the design of a new Formula 1 engine for 2005, despite the fact that he does not speak French.
Rob White, the chief engineer at Cosworth Racing, has been appointed Technical Director (Engine) at Renault F1 in Paris.
Roman Abramovich is one of the world's wealthiest men but he is surrounded by mystery. He is only 37 years old but it is estimated that the man from Komi, in the eastern part of Russia near the Urals, has built up a fortune of more than $6bn in the last eight years.
The French Grand Prix should have been called off by now but the first day of business after the Christmas and New Year holidays has passed without any word from either the FIA or Formula One Administration.
The Interpublic Group of Companies may have agreed to sell the four racing circuits which were previously owned by its Brands Hatch Circuits Ltd subsidiary but it remains the leaseholder for Silverstone.
Williams technical director Patrick Head has confirmed that Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia is still in the running for the role of second test driver at Williams although the team does intend to test Nelson Piquet Jr again before the start of the new season.
The new Williams-BMW FW26 is certainly rather different from some of the modern Formula 1 machinery and there is little doubt that the innovative design of the nose section of the car has come from the work of the team's aerodynamic department under former Ferrari engineer Dr Antonia Terzi.
Jonathan Palmer and two partners John Britten and Peter Ogden have bought Brands Hatch, Cadwell Park, Oulton Park and Snetterton, with their MotorSport Vision company.
The BMW Williams F1 team has launched its new FW26 in Valencia, Spain and the team is hoping that the new car will take it to World Championship success in 2004, having narrowly missed out on the two World titles in 2003.
There are reports this morning in The Sun newspaper in London suggesting that Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich is on the verge of buying the Jordan team.
Renault sources have told Autosport magazine that the company is looking at a World Rally championship programme - and that must create fears that the French car firm will cut back on its Formula 1 activities.
As the holiday season has come and gone teams will now put their attention on their objectives for the 2004 season.
Everyone at www.Grandprix.com would like to thank our ever-increasing army of readers and we wish you all the best in the New Year.