NEWS ARCHIVE

28 FEBRUARY 2006

OIL, MONEY, TECHNOLOGY AND F1

FIA President Max Mosley has in recent days been talking about the inevitability of a major oil crisis and its effect on the sport.

BRDC EXPLAINS SILVERSTONE DELAY

The British Racing Drivers' Club has finally explained what happened in the Extraordinary General Meeting last week at Silverstone.

HE CAN TALK THE TALK BUT CAN HE WALK THE WALK?

David Richards has any number of reasons to want to run a Formula 1 teams, both from a personal perspective and as an ambition for his company Prodrive. It also helps his pals Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone to talk of a new Formula 1 team being out there in the mists, at a time when they need more teams.

INTERESTING MOVES AT PRODRIVE

David Lapworth has left the Subaru World Rally Team, which is run by Prodrive in Banbury, and is now working on "unspecified projects". This has led to speculation that David Richards is finally considering entering Formula 1 with his own team, rather than as a manager for others.

27 FEBRUARY 2006

PLANS FOR GRAND PRIX CENTENARY PARADE IN PARIS

There are plans under discussion for a major exhibition in Paris and a parade on the Champs Elysees to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first Grand Prix motor race.

WATERS TALKS ABOUT FORMULA 1

Rock legend Roger Waters was at the Automobile Club de France this morning in Paris talking about his plans to perform Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon" at the French Grand Prix, the first live performance of the album since 1974.

FRENCH GP BANKS ON POP IDOL

The 2005 French Grand Prix was launched today in Paris with news that the event, which will mark the 100th anniversary of Grand Prix racing - will feature a unique musical event with Roger Waters, the creative talent behind Pink Floyd, performing The Dark Side of the Moon.

THE NEVER-ENDING MARCH OF TECHNOLOGY

The University of Manchester in the UK has launched a new $3.6m centre for research into new composite design and manufacture to find new low-cost ways to make aerospace parts.

FRANCE'S DOMINATION OF A1 GP CONTINUES

France continued its domination of the A1 Grand Prix series with two more wins in Monterrey, Mexico, over the weekend. The results mean that France has won 13 of the 18 races so far.

FORMULA 1 SPONSORSHIP FORUM TO RETURN

The Formula 1 Sponsorship Forum is to return in 2006 with the event in Monaco being moved to December 6-7 to coincide with the FIA World Motor Sport Council meetings and the FIA Prizegiving gala.

26 FEBRUARY 2006

GIRL POWER HITS GERMAN TV

The competition for Formula 1 viewers in Germany is hotting up with rivals RTL and Premiere continue their curious parallel arrangement in 2006. In an effort to bring in more viewers RTL has hired swimming star Franziska van Almsick to join its team of reporters.

24 FEBRUARY 2006

THE STORY SO FAR IN 2006

Pre-season testing is never very reliable to discern exactly how competitive Formula 1 teams really are, although it usually gives some indication as to who we should expect to see at the front. Much depends on whether or not teams run their cars in fully legal spec and the fuel loads that are put into the cars.

TODT HITS 60

Ferrari boss Jean Todt will be 60 tomorrow but while some at his age are thinking of retirement, there are no signs that the Frenchman will be giving up his role at Maranello - even if he has yet to renew his contract, which runs out at the end of the year. Todt has been involved in top level motorsport since 1969.

23 FEBRUARY 2006

HAMILTON SETS THE PACE IN GP2

A two-day GP2 test at Paul Ricard saw series novice Lewis Hamilton setting the pace with a best lap of 1m12.838s in his ART Grand Prix entry. This was a tenth faster than the more experienced Argentina's Jose Maria Lopez (Super Nova Racing) and Nelson Piquet Jr (Piquet Sports).

WHO SETS UP SMOKING WATCHDOG

The World Health Organization is to establish a permanent new tobacco control body, headquartered in Geneva, to ensure that as many countries as possible sign and ratify the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

GLOCK KEEPS F1 DREAM ALIVE

Timo Glock has given up a promising career in American racing because he wants to be a Formula 1 star. The 23-year-old German, who raced for Jordan in 2004, spent 2005 in Champ Car racing and impressed many but he decided to head back to Europe this year to race in GP2 with BCN Competicion.

IMOLA LOOKING FOR CASH TO COMPLETE F1 WORK

The Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari at Imola is to undergo a major rebuild later this year in order to bring it up to modern Formula 1 standards. The work will begin in the autumn and will be completed in time for the San Marino Grand Prix in 2007.

DAVID PRICE RACING AND DIREXIV

The DPR GP2 team has strengthened its links with Direxiv and will now be known as DPR Direxiv. Team boss David Price says that the two parties are "looking at a long term partnership with Direxiv in international motorsport".

RED BULL AWASH WITH CASH

Red Bull GmbH is a privately-held company in Austria and does not announce its profits but the company has recently revealed that its turnover in 2005 was $2.6bn, a leap of 28.9% over the 2004 figure.

22 FEBRUARY 2006

BRDC MEMBERS ASK FOR MORE TIME

The British Racing Drivers' Club has postponed a vote on whether the circuit should be leased and redeveloped. The board of directors had hoped to push ahead with the development but opposition in the Extraordinary General Meeting on Wednesday led to a decision to delay the vote.

RENAULT EXPANDS ITS RACING IN ASIA

Motorsport Asia, the Malaysian-based motor racing sanctioning body, which runs the Asian Touring Car Championship, Formula BMW Asia and the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia is to launch Formula V6 Asia by Renault.

MOVES TOWARDS PEACE IN IRL-CHAMP CAR FIGHT?

There are reports in the United States that Indy Racing League founder Tony George and Champ Car owner Kevin Kalkhoven have reached an agreement to merge their two competing championships with the pair becoming co-chairmen of a new series.

THE BALLOON GOES UP IN MELBOURNE

The Australian Grand Prix has come up with a new promotional device: a hot air balloon in the shape of a Formula 1 car and while Grand Prix supremo Ron Walker may be risking suggestions about how the balloon is filled, the race management are enthusiastic that the balloon will bring in spectators.

OIL, MURDER AND A FORMULA 1 RACE TRACK?

There are reports from Malaysia that the government of Kazakhstan is planning to build an international standard racing circuit near the Astana International Airport.

FIA SEEKS ECU BIDDERS

The FIA says its is seeking "expressions of interest from potential suppliers of electronic systems and component suppliers with a view to supplying all Formula 1 teams with a standard electronic control system and technical support for racing and testing" in 2008.

21 FEBRUARY 2006

CHEEVER RETURNS TO ACTION

Eddie Cheever is to return to open-wheeler racer at the age of 48. The former F1 man who went on to win the Indianapolis 500 and run his own team in the Indy Racing League.

AN INTERESTING MOVE FROM DIREXIV

The announcement that Direxiv has signed up Jean Alesi to be its senior executive director is an interesting one as it underlines the Japanese company's desire to use motor racing to spread the word about the company.

20 FEBRUARY 2006

GP2 NAMES NAMES

The GP2 Series has now announced its full driver line-up for the season ahead with 26 cars expected this year, following the agreement to accept a 13th team.

PITCHFORTH TURNS TO CHOPPERS

David Pitchforth ran Jaguar Racing in its final period before the team was sold to Red Bull. Since the takeover Pitchforth has been mentioned in connection with a number of roles with other teams but has now decided that he is going to get "a serious job in the real world".

ZANDVOORT LANDS A BACKER FOR THE MASTERS

The Marlboro Masters Formula 3 race has been one of the major races on the F3 calendar for the last 15 years but with anti-tobacco legisation meaning that the sponsorship can no longer continue, Zandvoort has been out looking for money and has done a deal with BP to use its Ultimate brand to fund the event.

18 FEBRUARY 2006

RAHAL TO RACE FOR TEAM LEBANON

Graham Rahal is to race for Team Lebanon in the A1GP series. The 17-year-old American, son of Bobby Rahal, tested a Formula 3000 car at Misano last week and did well and is expected to be named as the driver for Team Lebanon for the rest of the year.

ALL EYES ON FERRARI

The Ferrari team is staying on in Bahrain next week to try out its latest aerodynamic package which the team hopes will close the gap between the Italian team and current pre-season favourites Renault and Honda.

17 FEBRUARY 2006

MOTORSPORT SPONSORSHIP ON THE INCREASE

The IEG Sponsorship Report, a Chicago-based trade magazine, says that US corporations have increased their sponsorship in motorsports by 5% in the last year with a total of $2.9bn being spent in the sport in 2006.

SCHUMACHER THINKING OF HIS OWN TEAM

Michael Schumacher is thinking about starting his own Formula 1 team, at least according to Eddie Jordan. Michael is a big name in F1 and would probably not have too much trouble finding the money to start an operation if the right opportunity was to come up.

GERMAN REGIONAL GOVERNMENT REASSURES RACE FANS

Heribert Rech, the Interior Minister for the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg has told the German media that there are no fears about the future of the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, despite the financial problems which the circuit is currently facing.

THE ROAD TO MOROCCO

Formula 1 has been looking at Morocco for a long time. In 1997 Bernie Ecclestone's envoy Philippe Gurdjian spent several months in the country visiting different cities to try establish the best possible venue for a Grand Prix.

ANDERSON JOINS RACING ENGINEERING

Gary Anderson has been taken on by the Racing Engineering GP2 team to work with Adam Carroll. The two Ulstermen will be mounting a challenge for the GP2 title with backing from Repsol and Telefonica.

THE REDESIGN OF SILVERSTONE

The details of the redevelopment of Silverstone are yet to be made public but already there is talk that some of the famous corners at the track will be axed when the track is rebuilt. This is not surprising.

LAS VEGAS TALK MEANS NEGOTIATIONS ARE ON AT INDIANAPOLIS

Rumours that there might be a Formula 1 race in Las Vegas in the new few years would suggest that negotiations over the future of F1 at Indianapolis are now well advanced with the parties involved no doubt haggling over the price.

THE REDESIGN OF SILVERSTONE

The details of the redevelopment of Silverstone are yet to be made public but already there is talk that some of the famous corners at the track will be axed when the track is rebuilt.

MCLAREN NABS RED BULL MAN

McLaren has hit back at Red Bull Racing by hiring the team's chief designer Rob Taylor. This is not a surprise as Taylor worked with McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan at John Barnard's Ferrari Technical Office in the 1990s and then worked alongside Coughlan again at Arrows before moving to Jaguar Racing.

16 FEBRUARY 2006

WHY IS THE GPMA SO QUIET?

The Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association is saying nothing about the latest ideas which have put into the public domain by FIA President Max Mosley. What is perhaps more interesting is the fact that none of the team principals involved have made any public statements about the proposals.

RED BULL OPTIMISTIC THAT RB2 IS FIXED

The tests this week in Valencia have given Red Bull Racing hope that the team has fixed the problems with the RB2 chassis. The three days of running resulted in the team completing a total of 900 miles.

OLD FAVOURITES NOT DOING SO WELL

McLaren and Ferrari are both admitting that their cars are not as good as they could be. Mercedes-Benz boss Norbert Haug is now admitting that the new 2.4-litre V8 engine is not as good as the company had hoped it would be and says that work is going on to make sure the package is improved.

15 FEBRUARY 2006

WHAT IF?

The FIA says that Formula 1 budgets need to be cut to around $100m per team in order to preserve the sport and keep the smaller teams in business and paints a picture of a Formula 1 Armaggedon with all the manufacturers pulling out and leaving the industry in ruins.

ALL JAPANESE LINE-UP AT SUPER AGURI

Super Aguri F1 has finally announced its drivers and it is no surprise to see the names Takuma Sato and Yuji Ide. Sato is quick but has been rather erratic in his F1 career to date and was finally dropped at the end of last year by BAR-Honda.

LEGGE STATES HER AIMS

Katherine Legge has landed a drive in Champ Car, America's premier open-wheeled road racing series. The 25-year-old Englishwoman says she wants to compete for the Rookie of the Year award and collect as many points as possible against a strong field.

14 FEBRUARY 2006

EVERYTHING ALL WHITE FOR SUPER AGURI

The Super Aguri F1 team took its prototype SA05 car out for its first shakedown testing today at the Kemble airfield in Gloucestershire. The test was simply a system check before the car is sent off to test in Spain. The car was driven at Kemble by Takuma Sato.

LEGGE LANDS CHAMP CAR DRIVE

Briton's Katherine Legge will become the fourth female driver in Champ Car history later today when the PKV Racing team announces its plans for 2006 at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

RENAULT NAMES NEW YOUNGSTERS

The Renault Driver Development programme has enjoyed some successes over the years and has now named two new drivers for the scheme: Romain Grosjean, a 19-year-old who was born and lives in Geneva but has French and Swiss nationality, and 21-year-old Briton Ben Hanley.

PROMOTION, RELEGATION AND REALITY

FIA President Max Mosley continues his press lunch campaign and told specialist journalists today that he would like to introduce promotion and relegation into the sport in 2008. This is just what they want to hear because it is a good idea and would be good for the sport and would create more interest in F1 and in GP2.

IF THE FIGHTING GETS ROUGH

At a lunch for carefully selected members of the British media in F1, FIA President Max Mosley launched his latest campaign to try to convince the automobile manufacturers that they have to sign up for the new Concorde Agreement, which he wants to see as the guiding document for Formula 1 from 2008 to 2012.

13 FEBRUARY 2006

AN IMPORTANT LEGAL QUESTION

Lawyers in motor racing are watching with interest to see the outcome of a lawsuit in the United States were the widow of a track marshal is suing the International Speedway Corporation, claiming that the Daytona International Speedway (which is owned by ISC) did not take "reasonable safeguards" in an ultrahazardous activity.

TOYOTA'S NEW AERODYNAMIC PACKAGE

Panasonic Toyota Racing was the first F1 team this year to have its new car running back in November but the intention was always for the new car to be substantially upgraded before the start of the new season.

MASERATI & ROSSI - A NEW COCKTAIL

Valentino Rossi has been testing for Ferrari in recent weeks but said recently that now he is going back to bikes to try win the MotoGP Championship for Yamaha. But a few days after those remarks he was spotted in action at the wheel of a Maserati MC12 sports car at the Misano circuit in Italy.

A CHANCE TO SPEND MORE MONEY

Formula One teams will always spend money on new technology which will give them an advantage and the composite engineers in F1 circles will be very interested by the latest development in the nanotechnology world.

HOCKENHEIM-RING ON ITS LAST LEGS?

There are reports in the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper in Germany that the local racing track, the Hockenheim-Ring, is in such financial trouble that unless new money can be found immediately the track will be forced to cancel the German Grand Prix.

10 FEBRUARY 2006

MCLAREN UNVEILS 2006 LIVERY

McLaren today unveiled the livery design for the 2006 season.

WHY RENAULT CANNOT JUMP SHIP FROM THE GPMA

This morning these is much talk of Renault trying to jump ship from the Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association and join up with the deal to extend the Concorde Agreement to the end of 2012.

BELGIUM LANDS A GRAND PRIX!

The 2006 Belgian Grand Prix has been cancelled but, in an effort to improve the picture, the regional government of Wallonia has agreed a deal to secure the long-term future of the event. This will cost the government $7m a year in direct financial aid for the five-year term of the deal.

9 FEBRUARY 2006

BERGER AND RED BULL

Even a few days ago Gerhard Berger was saying that he had no plans to return to Formula 1. That he wanted to spend more time with his family and friends and not live the F1 life.

RENAULT BOSS NOT HELPFUL FOR F1 MARKETING MEN

The news that Renault chairman Carlos Ghosn is going to look at the Formula 1 programme each year is going to go down like a lead brick at Renault F1 in Enstone where the marketing department is just getting down to finding a replacement sponsor for Mild Seven for the 2007 season.

THE NEW TORO ROSSO STR01

The new Toro Rosso STR01 ran for the first time this morning in Jerez, altough the car will not be officially launched until the days running up to the Bahrain Grand Prix.

PR GURU TO HELP HONDA

Simon Fuller made his name as a record and television producer who is best known as the manager of the Spice Girls and as one of the creators of Pop Idol and its spin-offs including American Idol.

BERGER BUYS INTO SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO

Scuderia Toro Rosso has a new 50% partner with half the shares of the Italian Formula 1 team having been taken over by Gerhard Berger's motorsport company.

8 FEBRUARY 2006

ISRAELIS TO RUN TURKISH TRACK?

According to a report in the Greek media, the Israeli-owned Ofer Brothers group of companies is conducting a feasibility study on whether to take on the operations of the Istanbul Park Formula 1 circuit.

BELGIAN GP IS OFF!

The Belgian National Sporting Authority, the RACB, has written to notify the FIA of the withdrawal of the 2006 Belgian Grand Prix from the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. The withdrawal has been made in order to allow the completion of extensive improvement work to facilities at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

CHINESE INSIST THEY ARE KEEN ON TOBACCO CONTROL

The Chinese ambassador to the United Nations Office in Geneva attended the tobacco control conference of the World Health Organization yesterday and said that his country attaches great importance to tobacco control and has taken measures to stop tobacco advertising.

CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS ONWARD

Christian Fittipaldi is to return to single-seaters as the driver with A1 Team Brazil, which is run by his uncle Emerson, the former double Formula 1 World Champion. Christian, who has raced in F1 and Champ Car, has been trying NASCAR for the last couple of years without success.

STARS IN THE EAST

Bahrain has put together an impressive list of celebrities for the opening Grand Prix of the season with three-time Wimbledon tennis champion Boris Becker taking on cycling legend Lance Armstrong, rowing hero Sir Steve Redgrave and US sprinter Michael Johnson.

CHANGES AT HOCKENHEIM

Late last night a meeting to discuss the future of the Hockenheim-Ring broke up with the Mayor of Hockenheim Dieter Gummer announcing that his managing-director Hans Juergen von Glasenapp is to stand down from his position.

7 FEBRUARY 2006

THE FUTURE OF SILVERSTONE?

British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) chairman Stuart Rolt has admitted in a letter to club members that running the track is too risky a business for the club.

ISPORT INTERNATIONAL SIGNS GOMMENDY

Tristan Gommendy has signed to drive for iSport International in the GP2 Series in 2006. The 26-year-old Frenchman won the French Formula 3 title with ASM in 2002 and has been a race winner in recent years in the Renault World Series, finishing fourth in the standings last year with KTR.

AN INTERESTING DEVELOPMENT IN INDIA

The Indian A1 GP team is in the process of being disbanded as South African-based franchise holder Atul Gupta has run out of patience with the team's lack of performance.

SUPER AGURI NAMES NAMES

The Super Aguri F1 team has given details of some more of its technical team and there seems to be a decent amount of F1 experience in the team.

A NICE BIG PROFIT

Formula One Administration has revealed its financial results for 2004 and, thanks to a one-off payment of $93m from the Interpublic Group to end a contract to promote the British Grand Prix, the company's profits in soared to $447m on a turnover of $705m.

6 FEBRUARY 2006

THE RETURN OF TIMO GLOCK

Timo Glock is giving up his career in America to return to European racing with the aim of getting back into F1

RACECOURSE COMPANY BIDS FOR SILVERSTONE OPERATIONS ROLE

It seems that the British Racing Drivers' Club is planning to lease not only the racing circuit but also intends to sub-contract the operational activities at Silverstone as well.

ST MODWEN TALKS ABOUT SILVERSTONE

The property development company St Modwen has been explaining its planned involvement at Silverstone, to try to calm fears that the British Racing Drivers' Club will lose control of the track because of a 125-year lease St Modwen will be granted to develop the facility.

4 FEBRUARY 2006

MOSLEY'S BIG OPPORTUNITY

FIA President Max Mosley is often accused of playing political games in Formula 1 because he cannot play in real politics. Mosley was made for politics. His father Sir Oswald Mosley was a brilliant man in many ways and Max inherited many of his talents.

3 FEBRUARY 2006

WHAT IS BEST FOR THE SPORT?

Now is the time in Formula 1 to be settling matters and trying to find solutions and there is little doubt that the fastest way to revive the political strife seen in recent years between the current power brokers and the big teams is to propose to create new inequalities in the sport.

EU BEGINS CVC-FORMULA ONE INVESTIGATION

The European Union has begun its investigation into whether or not CVC Capital Partners should be allowed to buy control of the Formula One group.

OFF WE GO AGAIN

In cowboy movies, things can sometimes get to be too quiet and it has been like that for several months in Formula 1 politics. This was convenient for Max Mosley as it allowed him to get re-elected as FIA President.

RULES AND LUCK

Midland F1 MD Colin Kolles says that Scuderia Toro Rosso will break Formula 1 rules if it uses restricted Cosworth V10 engines in 2006. Kolles has obviously not read the rules.

RHINOS AND RUSSIANS FOR MF1

MF1 Racing has announced a two-year partnership agreement with Austrian energy drink company Rhino's. The compan y wants to use the sport to boost its fame and thus increase sales to become the number two to Red Bull by 2008.

POWER STRUGGLES AT HOCKENHEIM

It seems that Hockenheim's problems are getting worse every day with news now leaking out that there is a power struggle going on between the circuit managing-director Hans-Jurgen von Glasenapp and the Mayor of Hockenheim Dieter Gummer, who is the chairman of Hockenheim-Ring GmbH.

A MEASURED VIEW OF VALENTINO ROSSI

Valentino Rossi is creating a lot of headlines in Italy where the Italian press is getting excited about the idea of its motorcycling hero becoming a Formula 1 driver. Michael Schumacher has helpfully provided the quotes to suggest that Rossi has what it takes to be in Formula 1.

WOMEN DRIVERS!

Over in America, Danica Patrick has shown in the last 12 months just what can be achieved by a woman in the Indy Racing League and the results of that have been seen this week with the announcement that Rahal Letterman Racing has signed sponsorship deals with the grocery store company Meijer and with Coca-Cola.

MONTEIRO JOINS CSS STELLAR

CSS Stellar Management has announced that it has signed up Tiago Monteiro. The compnay has a long history of driver management notably with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, and more recently with drivers such as Juan Pablo Montoya, Dan Wheldon and double World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb.

MF1 CONFIRMS MONTEIRO

After a winter of rather dull uncertainty with the team refusing to say a deal was done and the driver saying he would certainly be driving, MF1 Racing has finally confirmed Portugal's Tiago Monteiro.

SMALL SPONSORS BY THE TON

MF1 Racing has announced a string of sponsors in the course of the winter months most of them linked to one or other of the drivers involved in the team.

MF1 RACING NAMES MORE DRIVERS

The MF1 Racing team has announced plans for more young drivers to be involved in its projects.

2 FEBRUARY 2006

WHY THE TOBACCO COMPANIES ARE LEAVING FORMULA 1

Many governments have tried to ban tobacco sponsorship over the years but Formula 1 has always cleverly dodged the legislation with deals which allowed cross-border advertising to continue.

LEGAL PROBLEMS IN GERMANY

The crisis at Hockenheim seems to be getting worse. According to reports in the local press in Mannheim, there is an investigation going on into the activities of the circuit with the Mannheim offiec of the public prosecution service looking at whether there have been any irregularities.

WANT TO BE AN F1 REPORTER?

Being a Formula 1 reporter is the dream of many race fans but it is not an easy thing to do. Having said that Bridgestone has hit on a good idea to help young journalists in their struggles to make it in the big time.

MCLAREN LOSES TOMBAZIS

Ferrari has announced that it is restructuring its technical management and says that from March 1 Nicolas Tombazis will be chief designer, reporting to Aldo Costa who will he responsible for Design and development under Technical Director Ross Brawn.

BRAZILIAN TO TEST WILLIAMS

Brazilian influence at Williams has dropped off in recent months with the departure from the team of Antonio Pizzonia but that has not stopped team sponsor Petrobras wanting to use the Williams programmes for its own marketing.

1 FEBRUARY 2006

MEANWHILE IN ITALY

Giancarlo Fisichella's FMS International GP2 team, a partnership with Coloni Motorsport team will be running 20-year old Luca Filippi for the next two seasons. Filippi drove for the Fisichella in last year's European 3000 Championship last year and has since tested for Minardi.

HOW WELL DID ROSSI DO?

Valentino Rossi is no slouch in a racing car, but that does not make him a potential World Champion either and the idea that Ferrari would allow the Italian biker to race a car without him having the potential to win races is hard to believe.

FRIENDS VISIT HIGH PLACES

Formula 1 boss Max Mosley has been appointed to the Legion d'Honneur for his services to motorsport. The 65-year-old accepted the award from the French foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy in Paris last night, which indicates that the award was put forward by that ministry.

A NEW SPANISH RACING CIRCUIT?

There have been suggestions in recent days of a new Formula 1-standard racing circuit in Spain. It seems from our investigations that this is a little exaggerated at the moment although the town of Tineo, located 20 miles to the west of Fernando Alonso's home town of Oviedo has grand plans for a "Motor City".

SWISS REJECT RACING LAW

The Swiss federal government has rejected plans to allow motor racing competitions in the country. The Upper House of the Swiss Parliament (known as the Bundesrat) has decided against cancelling the ban on racing which has existed since 1955.

EU GIVES GERMANY A SMACK ON THE WRIST OVER TOBACCO

The European Commission has sent "reasoned opinions" to Germany and Luxembourg for their failing to convert a European law about advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products into their national law.

ZIM TO SPONSOR MF1 RACING

An Israeli shipping company called Zim is to sponsor MF1 Racing this year. The company will appear on the nose of the new M16 chassis. The company has plans to become a global shipping and logistics company.

FIAT MAKES SOME MONEY (WELL, SORT OF)

Although FIAT no longer helps Ferrari financially, according to chairman Luca di Montezemolo, there will be some relief in Ferrari circles with the news that FIAT is finally making money again after five years of losses.

ROSSI GOOFS

Valentino Rossi's first public test of a Formula 1 car ended in embarrassment at Valencia yesterday when he spun off on his first lap out of the pits and ended up in the gravel.

MILD SEVEN IS OUT!

As we exclusively predicted in December last year, Japan Tobacco Inc has now confirmed on its website that the company will finish its sponsorship with the Renault F1 team at the end of the current season. The company says that it is pulling out in order to be in compliance with the "International Tobacco Products Marketing Standards".

FAURE TO RETIRE

Patrick Faure has confirmed to members of the French press corps that he will be standing down from his role as chairman of Renault Sport in the summer. It is not entirely clear when that will be but it seems that it will be between July and October.