NEWS ARCHIVE

31 JANUARY 2006

MILD SEVEN TO ANNOUNCE WITHDRAWAL FROM F1

Japan Tobacco will announce later today that it is withdrawing from Formula 1 at the end of the 2006 season. The company has been involved in the sport since 1992 when its Cabin brand sponsored Tyrrell and it switched to Benetton in 1994 with Mild Seven.

ALONSO TALKS ABOUT MCLAREN

Fernando Alonso has been talking about his decision to leave Renault to join McLaren in 2007.

CARLOS GHOSN TALKS F1

Carlos Ghosn, the president and CEO of Renault, has been talking about F1.

RENAULT AIMS TO USE F1 SUCCESS MORE TO SELL CARS

The Renault F1 team says that it intends use success in F1 much more to sell cars.

FAURE AIMS FOR ANOTHER WORLD TITLE

Renault Sport chairman Patrick Faure says that the team must aim for more world titles this year.

NO GUARANTEES FROM GHOSN

Carlos Ghosn, the boss of Renault, has given no long-term guarantees for the future of the French car company in Formula 1. The team, he said, needs good results to remain in the sport in the future.

GERMANS ACCEPT CUTS LIKELY

Germany's leading motor sport politician Hermann Tomczyk says that he does not see why the country should have two Grands Prix and says that he can easily see a situation in which the German GP is switched between Hockenheim and Nurburgring.

POLITICAL SHIFTS AT THE FIA

Eighteen months ago France's Jacques Regis was openly critical of Max Mosley'st policies and was even being mentioned as a possible candidate to face the FIA President in elections.

TROUBLES STIRRING AT THE BRDC

The news that the British Racing Drivers' Club has the basis of a deal with St Modwen to redevelop the facility has created problems within the consistently problematical club with some members beginning to argue that the planned 150-year lease which will be granted to St Modwen is not the best answer.

30 JANUARY 2006

WHELDON WINS DAYTONA

Dan Wheldon may not have got a Formula 1 drive this winter but the Englishman is adding to his list of successes all the time and has now won the Daytona 24 Hours to add to his successes in the Indy Racing League and his win in the Indianapolis 500.

28 JANUARY 2006

MEANWHILE IN DAVOS

Although the motorsport industry has not been represented at the World Economic Summit at Davos in Switzerland we hear that Tata Consultancy Services has used the opportunity to highlight its involvement with the sport as a technology partner of Ferrari by displaying a Ferrari F2003 GA in one of the cafes in the town.

BRDC CONFIRMS ST MODWEN

The British Racing Drivers' Club has confirmed that St Modwen Properties plc has been chosen as its proposed preferred developer and the board is seeking the approval of the members to move ahead with the deal.

MERCEDES V8 TROUBLES

Although Mercedes-Benz is saying that everything is in order the rest of the F1 circus is picking up the vibes that there are serious problems with the new engine and even Kimi Raikkonen is now beginning to make complaining noises that the Stuttgart company's engine-makers are not where there need to be.

WILLIAMS SOME NEW SPONSORS UNDER THE WIRE

The Williams car launch and announcement of Narain Karthikeyan as the team's fourth driver stole much of the thunder yesterday but what was not noticed was that the team took the opportunity to bring onboard some new sponsors, each with potential for the future.

27 JANUARY 2006

WILLIAMS LAUNCH FW28

Today Williams F1 unveiled the team's latest challenger, the FW28 powered by a Cosworth V8, at their Grove headquarters, with which the team hopes to return to the front-end of the grid after a disappointing season last year.

26 JANUARY 2006

NO RACERS IN DAVOS

The World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland featured a discussion on the subject of sport, for the first time in the 36-year history of the event.

SUPER AGURI F1 ON THE ROAD

The FIA has confirmed that Super Aguri F1 has gone through the necessary process for a late entry in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship and will be allowed to compete against the 10 existing teams.

ROSSI - NOW THINGS ARE GETTING SERIOUS

The news that Valentino Rossi is to test for Ferrari next week in Valencia is a clear indication that Ferrari is getting serious about the idea of running the high-profile motorcycle racer in Formula 1 in the future.

MCLAREN SIGNS UP VAN DER GARDE

Twenty-year-old Dutchman Giedo van der Garde, a protege of Jos Verstaooen, will join reigning Champions ASM for the 2006 F3 Euroseries season. Van der Garde has raced for the past two seasons in the series and should therefore be a title challenger.

ROSBERG BACKER TO FUND WILLIAMS

Battery, one of Nico Rosberg's sponsors in GP2, has announced a long-term deal to sponsor Williams. The deal will see the Finnish energy drink's logo on the drivers' visors, drinks bottles and in the garage.

RED BULL TO BUY OLD PENSKE FACTORY

The new Team Red Bull Toyota NASCAR team is tipped to be buying the old Penske Racing South facility on Knob Hill Road in Mooresville, North Carolina. Penske recently moved out to a new 425,000 sq ft facility, leaving the old workshops available.

KARTHIKEYAN AT WILLIAMS?

India's respected Business Standard financial newspaper is reporting that Narain Karthikeyan has signed a deal to become the Williams F1 team's second test driver.

JUAN-PABLO GOES SHOPPING

Juan Pablo Montoya has told the German magazine Auto Motot und Sport that he is shopping around for a drive in 2007. The Colombian has a contract with McLaren until the end of 2006.

NO SIGN OF A MALAYSIAN FORMULA 1 TEAM

Two years ago the Malaysian Minister of Youth and Sport Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said that the government was pushing for qa national team funded by Malaysian corporations.

25 JANUARY 2006

THAT BIG BUILDING NEXT DOOR

Redefining the meaning of the word "manufacturer" is all the rage at the moment.

FORMULA 1 TOO EXPENSIVE FOR LONDON

The Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has never been backward in saying what he thinks and he thinks that Formula 1 is too expensive for London. Instead the city has done a deal with Amaury Sports Organisation to run the prologue and the first stage of 2007 Tour de France in London.

HONDA UNVEILS THE NEW RA106

The Honda Racing F1 Team has revealed its new RA106 which will be raced this year by Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello.

RED BULL TAKES MCLAREN'S TOP AERO MAN!

According to our spies, Red Bull Racing has hired McLaren's head of aerodynamics Peter Prodromou. If the news is confirmed this would be a second big hit for McLaren following the departure of Adrian Newey.

THE NEXT BIG THING?

Formula 1 teams are always looking for a way to do things faster and more efficiently as this gives them an advantage over the opposition. And it is not just on the race track that this makes a difference.

TOYOTA AND RED BULL

Toyota has announced that it will have at least three two-car teams in NASCAR in 2007 and there is no surprise that two of these will be Bill Davis Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing. The third is unexpected as it will be an organisation called Team Red Bull.

24 JANUARY 2006

SILVERSTONE ADDS 8900 SEATS

The Silverstone circuit has announced plans to add 8,900 new grandstand seats for the British Grand Prix in June. The circuit is putting up new grandstands in the premium viewing areas, notably at Luffield (where there will be 4,000 new grandstand seats), Copse and Stowe.

SUPER AGURI'S FUTURE HEADQUARTERS?

We hear from our spies that Super Aguri F1's headquarters will not be at Leafield for very long and that the long-term plan is for the team to move to Brackley, just up the road from the Honda Racing F1 factory.

BYRNE TO BECOME A CONSULTANT

Ferrari chief designer Rory Byrne has been trying to retire for a number of years but the 62-year-old designer just cannot seem to make the break and has now agreed to stay on at Ferrari as a consultant for two more seasons.

WINKELHOCK JOINS MF1

MF1Racing, the Formula 1 team owned and operated by the Midland Group has announced that 25-year-old Markus Winkelhock will be one of the team's official test drivers in 2006.

FERRARI LAUNCHES THE 248

Ferrari has unveiled its new car for 2006. This will be called the 248 F1 and will be raced by Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa. The designation goes back to old Ferrari traditions of the engine configuration, with 24 being for the 2.4-litre capacity and 8 being for the number of cylinders.

A WARM THOUGHT FOR A COLD WINTER

Gunnar Nilsson is a name that will not be known by the young fans of Formula 1. Nilsson was a Swedish racing driver born in 1948 who became one of the stars of British Formula 3 in the early 1970s and in 1976 was signed by Team Lotus to race in Formula 1.

HOW TO GET INTO THE F1 PADDOCK

Getting access to the F1 Paddock is not an easy business and even Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has had trouble getting in on occasion in the past. However, thanks to reader Tom Kearney we have stumbled across a useful tool for "illegals" to use as they try to get through the paddock gates.

SUPER AGURI AND MENARD

An interesting piece of information has come to light in recent days regarding the Super Aguri F1 operation.

WANT TO SEE GRAND PRIX ON DVD

Fans of John Frankenheimer's famous 1966 movie "Grand Prix" have been frustrated that the film is not available on DVD. The rights to the movie are now owned by Warner Home Video which says it has no plans to put the film on DVD because there has been no requests for that to happen.

ST MODWEN WINS SILVERSTONE DEAL

According to the magazine Property Week, St Modwen Properties PLC has won the deal to develop Silverstone in partnership with the British Racing Drivers' Club. The Birmingham-based property company, which is quoted on the London Stock Exchange, is a leading UK developer specialising in regeneration schemes.

THE ANTI-TOBACCO FORCES RALLY

Marlboro and Mild Seven are now the only tobacco firms left sponsoring cars in Formula 1. MF1 Racing has yet to unveil its full package of funding but there seems little sign that Benson & Hedges will be back.

23 JANUARY 2006

THE ECONOMICS OF GRANDSTANDS

Making a Formula 1 Grand Prix into a financial success seems to be a bit of a problem for promoters around the world. Many of the races make a loss and promoters complain about the cost of hosting the event. The big problem seems to be the annual fees demanded by the Formula One group.

MATSUURA STAYS IN AMERICA

Super Aguri Fernandez Racing has announced that Kosuke Matsuura will stay with the team for another season, driving the Panasonic ARTA Dallara-Honda. The announcement means that Matsuura is now out of the equation at Super Aguri F1.

WINKELHOCK JOINING MF1

Markus Winkelhock is going to be the test driver of MF1 Racing this, according to reports in Germany. The 25-year-old son of Grand Prix driver, the late Manfred Winkelhock, may be seen in the car on Fridays but that decision apparently depends on which driver has the most sponsorship available.

TOYOTA GOES TO NASCAR

Toyota has announced that it is going to enter the NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series in 2007 with its new Camry model. The 2007 Camry was unveiled a few days ago at the North American International Auto Show.

STEWART TO RETIRE AS BRDC PRESIDENT

The British Racing Drivers' Club has announced that Jackie Stewart, president of the Club since 2000, will not be seeking re-election at the annual general meeting in the Spring.

FERRARI CONFIRMS MARTINI

Martini has confirmed that it is returning to Formula 1 in 2006 as an official partner of Scuderia Ferrari. The drinks company has signed a multi-year deal with the team and branding will appear in the cars. Martini wants to use Formula 1 to reflect its dynamic, cosmopolitan, and sophisticated nature.

A BRAIN DRAIN AT MCLAREN?

The hiring of Adrian Newey from McLaren by Red Bull Racing in the autumn has led to a number of rumours about other members of staff at McLaren. There have been rumours circulating for a month that Nicolas Tombazis is looking to return to Ferrari although this has been denied on several occasions by McLaren.

MCLAREN PLANS TO REVIVE ROAD CAR PROJECT

McLaren managing-director Martin Whitmarsh says that McLaren is in the process of trying to revive its plans to produce a new road car to follow the current project with Mercedes-Benz.

MCLAREN WANTS VODAFONE BACKING IN 2006

McLaren says that it would like to start its relationship with Vodafone earlier than the 2007 start date which has been announced.

THE DESIRES OF SEBASTIEN LOEB

Sebastien Loeb has won the World Rally Championship for the last two years and is no slouch in racing cars either having raced for Pescarolo in the Le Mans 24 Hours. On the road he drives a Ferrari and makes no secret of the fact that he would like to get a test in Formula 1 car to see what it is like.

THE NEW MCLAREN MP4-21

The new McLaren MP4-21 ran for the first time at Barcelona on Monday, the team keeping its orange livery for the moment. The car is an evolution of the successful MP4-20, which won 10 of the 19 races last year.

MARTINI & ROSSI JOINS FERRARI!

Ferrari is expected to announce later today that it has signed a new sponsorship deal with the drinks company Martini & Rossi. The Turin-based drinks company has a long history of involvement in motor racing but in recent years has been out of the sport.

DALY SELLS HIS RACING SCHOOL

Former Formula 1 driver Derek Daly set up the Derek Daly Performance Driving Academy in 1996 in Las Vegas and has been running operations there while also working as commentator on racing events for various TV channels.

LAUNCH WEEK

Four of the 11 Formula 1 teams will launch their new V8-engined cars this week with Ferrari due to unveil the F2006 (or whatever it will be designated) on Tuesday at Mugello.

AUSTRALIANS WIN F1 IN SCHOOLS

The F1 in Schools competition came to climax last week with the World Championship between 17 teams from 11 different countries. The competition is for 11-18 year olds to design and model F1 cars, formed in balsa wood and powered by carbon dioxide which are then run on a 20-metre track.

TOP NASCAR MAN TO HEAD IMG

George Pyne, the chief operating of NASCAR, will leave the US racing circus this week to become president of the International Management Group, the sports marketing business founded in 1960 by the late Mark McCormack.

THE FUTURE OF THE BELGIAN GRAND PRIX

There appears to be some confusion over the future of the Belgian Grand Prix with a Belgian politician saying the race is off and other sources saying that the race is still on.

21 JANUARY 2006

ROSBERG TOPS THE LIST IN JEREZ

The Formula 1 testing continued in Spain this week with McLaren, Williams, Toyota and Honda in action over a four day period at Jerez. BMW Sauber was by itself at Valencia following the launch of its new car.

20 JANUARY 2006

ANTON RUPERT

South African tycoon Anton Rupert has died at the age of 89. Rupert was the man who turned Rothmans into a global brand and led the company into motor racing after his Rembrandt company, which was started in 1948 in South Africa, bought the Rothmans brand in 1972.

THE FUTURE OF THE BELGIAN GP

The word from Belgium is that the Belgian Grand Prix is off because work at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit cannot be completed in time for the race. Politician Serge Kubla, who is a member of the opposition in the Wallonia regional government, told a radio station in Belgium that the race is off.

AN INTERESTING NEW DEAL FOR WILLIAMS

Williams F1 has been an innovator in sponsorship for some years and the team has just announced a deal with Dutch multinational employment company Randstad.

ILMOR EXPANDS IN NASCAR

Ilmor Engineering is expanding its activities in NASCAR with the announcement that it has signed a deal to build Dodge engines for Biagi Brothers Racing in the Busch Series. The team will be running cars for driver Mark Green. Back in 2004 Ilmor built Ford engines for the team.

HOCKENHEIM MOVES TO CALM WORRIES

The authorities at Hockenheim have announced that this year's racing programme will go ahead as planned, a move which is intended to calm fears that races could be cancelled because of the track's financial problems.

WHEN DO WE GET A DECISION FROM SILVERSTONE

A month ago the British Racing Drivers Club was close to a decision on who it will partner with to redevelop the Silverstone circuit. A list of possible candidates had been reduced to three and a decision was due.

19 JANUARY 2006

IRONIES AND HISTORY

There is a certain irony in the fact that the FIA World Rally Championship, which kicks off this weekend with the Monte Carlo Rally, is short of manufacturers. The FIA is keen to get new car builders in to bolster the series and is creating new rules which it is hoped will achieve that goal.

HAMILTON AT ART

McLaren protege Lewis Hamilton has finally been confirmed with the ART team in GP2. The 21-year-old Briton will join Alexandre Premat, who has a year of experience in the series.

18 JANUARY 2006

POT CALLS KETTLE BLACK

Renault principal Flavio Briatore told Agence France Presse the other day that he was not happy with the way in which McLaren signed a contract with Fernando Alonso.

A SOGGY DAY FOR MAX

Former MotoGP rider Max Biaggi did just 10 laps of Silverstone in wet conditions earlier today, driving a 2005 Jordan fitted with a Toyota V8 engine. The test proved very little but the biker is currently looking for work having been dropped by Honda in MotoGP at the end of last year.

A MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR KEITH DUCKWORTH

There will be a memorial service for Keith Duckworth on Thursday, February 23. Duckworth was the designer of the legendary Cosworth DFV Formula 1 engine which won a total of 155 victories in the course of its history.

WORTH KEEPING AN EYE ON

There is a lot of Japanese money in Formula 1 and that means that when there are shocks on the Nikkei, the Japanese stock exchange, it is wise for Formula 1 to keep an eye on what is happening.

INTERNATIONAL RACE OF CHAMPIONS?

The baseball World Series is a contest limited to teams from the United States and Canada as it is assumed that no-one outside Major League Baseball could win.

BIAGGI AND MF1

Max Biaggi has long dallied with the idea of one day being a Formula 1 driver and today and tomorrow will be at Silverstone to test drive for MF1 Racing during a hiatus in his motorcycling career following problems with Honda in the MotoGP series.

17 JANUARY 2006

INTERESTING RESEARCH FOR F1

While the FIA is continuing down its path to try to control materials in Formula 1, the world of materials technology moves on and in addition to the ever-advancing area of nanotechnology, which could have some fascinating applications in the sport, there is also more down-to-earth work going on.

SPIEL ABOUT GLOCK

Timo Glock used to be a Jordan Formula 1 driver, and a pretty good one based on a limited number of appearances. Then he went off to America and impressed in his first season in Champ Car with Rocketsports.

A THOUGHT ABOUT THE TOYOTA BUSINESS

Although there have been a number of names which have leaked out about charges being laid against people who have worked for Toyota, there has been no official word from the German police nor from the prosecution service.

MEANWHILE IN LEAFIELD

There has been a certain amount of speculation about the new Super Aguri F1 team in recent days but according to sources at Leafield everything is on schedule with the team going through the detailed administrative work with the FIA legal department.

THE NEW BMW F1.06

BMW is to unveil its new F1.06 this morning.

WHY NO ACTION AT THE HIGH COURT IS IMPORTANT TO F1

McLaren appears to have settled out of court with legal firm Baker & McKenzie in its battle over an agreement between the team and Bernie Ecclestone.

16 JANUARY 2006

THE TOYOTA CHARGES

The Cologne public prosecution service has charged three men with being involved in using a Ferrari data analysis programme. Toyota has confirmed that the three are former team principal Ove Andersson, chief designer Gustav Brunner and the team's head of aerodynamics Rene Hilhorst.

GERMANS CONFIRM CHARGES AGAINST TOYOTA MEN

The Staatsanwaltschaft Köln, the public prosecution service in the Cologne area, has confirmed that it is filing charges against three former members of staff of Toyota Motorsport who are suspected of having used technology stolen from Ferrari.

SCHUMACHER GIVES THE NEW F2006 ITS FIRST RUN

Ferrari is due to unveil its new Formula 1 car on January 24 at Mugello but Michael Schumacher this morning gave the car its first shakedown runs at the team's Fiorano test track, completing just four laps of systems checks.

BRUNNER FACING PROSECUTION?

There are reports in Germany that the Staatsanwaltschaft Köln, the public prosecution service, is considering charges against Toyota's former chief designer Gustav Brunner over software which was used to design the TF103 and TF104 chassis.

14 JANUARY 2006

THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME?

The Toyota announcement of the TF106 underlines how Formula 1 is now developing and how the FIA's plans to limit aerodynamic development to three stages per year is likely to push more teams towards the system employed by Toyota, which now employs three overlapping design groups.

TOYOTA LAUNCHES THE TF106

Panasonic Toyota Racing officially launched its 2006 Formula 1 campaign at the Toyota manufacturing facility in Valenciennes in France. The car has been running since the end of November as the team gets used to V8 engines and a new tyre partner in Bridgestone.

13 JANUARY 2006

A CONFUSED PICTURE IN JEREZ

There will be some wet-track testing tomorrow in Jerez but the main test is now over and although Fernando Alonso took the headlines with the fastest lap of the final day in the new Renault R26, the World Champion's lap at 1m18.508s was a full second off the pace of Pedro de la Rosa's McLaren-Mercedes V10.

TOET FITS THE BILL AT BMW

BMW has been looking for a new head of aerodynamics to strengthen the team in Hinwil and it seems that the team has decided that Willem Toet is the man for the job. Toet recently left the Honda Racing F1 team after falling out with the management.

ANOTHER STRING TO THE WALKINSHAW BOW

Former Arrows F1 boss Tom Walkinshaw has announced the establishment of a new motorsport related business to be called the HSV Performance Centre. This will be located in Milton Keynes.

ANOTHER RED BULL YOUNGSTER MOVES UP

Germany's Michael Ammermueller is to move up to GP2 in 2006 with the Arden team. He will join Nicolas Lapierre at Arden International, replacing Heikki Kovalainen, who has moved up to become the Renault F1 test driver.

FRIESACHER AND WILLIAMS?

There are reports in Austria that one-time Minardi driver Patrick Friesacher is talking to Williams about joining the team as a second test driver. Others in the picture are Narain Karthikeyan and Nicholas Kiesa.

MONTAGNY AND PKV RACING

Former Renault test driver Franck Montagny is to join the fight for the two PKV Racing seats in Champ Car racing, against former Jordan driver Giorgio Pantano, former Toyota tester Ryan Briscoe and transplanted British rising stars Ryan Dalziel and Katherine Legge.

COURT DATE FOR MONZA DISPUTE

The squabbles over the Italian Grand Prix are not likely to amount to a real problem for the Italian Grand Prix, but the processes must be gone through and so the appeal from the Autodromo Nazionale against a court order which would make it impossible to run the Grand Prix will go to court on March 7.

12 JANUARY 2006

ACTION IN SPAIN

The Formula 1 teams are back in action in Spain with a variety of different specification cars and a few new colour schemes, most of them provisional. Recording the times set in the testing may or may not provide a sensible idea about who is competitive.

WALKINSHAW DOES A DEAL WITH MITSUBISHI

The new Tom Walkinshaw Group Limited has signed a deal with the Colt Car Company to supply Mitsubishi competition cars, components and accessories from its Milton Keynes technical facility.

THE RETURN OF GRAND PRIX MASTERS

The Grand Prix Masters organisation enjoyed some success at the inaugural event in South Africa in November and is now looking ahead to expand the idea and has announced a second race which will be held on the Losail International Racetrack near Doha, Qatar on April 29.

11 JANUARY 2006

TOBACCO COMPANIES AND BIKERS

There is a right royal mess going on in motorcycle racing which could end up depriving Ferrari of its sometime test driver - and rumoured 2007 driver - Valentino Rossi. Last year Rossi rode with the Gauloises-sponsored Yamaha factory team.

BMW DOES A DEAL WITH O2

The BMW Sauber F1 Team has signed a deal with the mobile phone company O2, the deal is with the German subsidiary of the British firm O2 plc. Interestingly, O2 has just been taken over by the Spanish telecoms group Telefonica in a $31.3bn deal which creates the world's fifth largest telecoms company.

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR IMOLA

The Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari at Imola is to have been given a $12.8 grant from the local government to fund necessary upgrading work for the circuit which long ago fell behind other circuits in terms of facilities.

TOYOTA ANNOUNCES YOUNG DRIVERS FOR 2006

Toyota has announced the six drivers which it will be supporting in 2006 as part of its young driver programme. France's Franck Perera remains with the scheme and will move up to GP2 this year, racing with DAMS.

TEST DRIVERS AT BAR

BAR has finally confirmed that Anthony Davidson will be its third driver for 2006 and there is now speculation as to who will get the job of being the team's fourth driver.

WILLIAMS GETS A NEW TEAM MANAGER

The Williams team will have a new team manager this season with the news that Dickie Stanford, who has been in the job for the last 11 years, is to take a sabbatical and assume a factory-based role rather than travelling all the time.

10 JANUARY 2006

BUILDING IN NORFOLK

The Breckland Council, which oversees a large area of Norfolk, is planning a major investment to establish a Rural Enterprise Valley, a 44-acre site near Thetford designed to house hi-tech motorsport and engineering businesses to bolster the area's motorsport industry.

A NEW BOOK ABOUT BERNIE

The Daily Telegraph is reporting that Formula One commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone has signed a deal with sports book publisher Kraken Media for the publication of an authorised account of his role in the development of F1 since 1971.

9 JANUARY 2006

TOM WALKINSHAW PLANS A RETURN

Tom Walkinshaw is planning to return to motor racing with a new company called the Tom Walkinshaw Group Ltd. The company is registered in Hertford in England. Walkinshaw intends to announce two new projects shortly: one in racing and one in the automotive sector.

FORMULA 1 AND THE GREEKS

Bernie Ecclestone was in Athens over the weekend for talks with the Greek authorities about the possibilities of a Grand Prix in Greece. There are plans, which we reported in September, for a race to be held on the old airport at Helliniko, which was transformed into a sporting venue for the Olympic Games.

SPA TO UPGRADE AS PART OF NEW DEAL

A new deal between Formula One Management and the Wallonian regional government should see the Belgian Grand Prix back on the F1 calendar but while the government may not have to pay the fees for the event there is still a big payment to be made to upgrade the track.

YOU CAN HELP OUT THE MOTORSPORT INDUSTRY

The British government is currently in the process of defining what uses money from the National Lottery should be put to after 2009 and motorsport, which has been largely ignored to date, has the opportunity to get in on the action.

6 JANUARY 2006

HI-HO! HI-HO! IT IS OFF TO WORK AGAIN

The Formula 1 teams have not been testing over the Christmas period but the action starts again in earnest on Tuesday in Jerez de la Frontera in southern Spain where most of the big players will be in action next week, getting ready for the 2006 season, which kicks off in mid-March in Bahrain.

4 JANUARY 2006

A NEW RULER IN DUBAI

Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and the Emir of Dubai has died. He will be replaced as ruler of Dubai by his brother Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.

RENAULT AND F1

A sign of Renault's attitude towards the value of F1 came in a press statement this morning giving details of the firm's sales figures in the last 12 months. The results show that the firm dropped 4.1% in Europe but made up for this with a 21% hike in international sales

WHY FORMULA 1 NEEDS NARAIN KARTHIKEYAN

Formula 1 teams rarely make decisions based on economics or demographics. They decide on what will give them the most chance of winning. And thus Williams has decided that Alexander Wurz is a better bet as a third driver than Narain Karthikeyan.

3 JANUARY 2006

THE SECOND SEAT AT SUPER AGURI

Sakon Yamamoto impressed the Jordan team when he acted as the team's third driver at Suzuka last year and it seems that the Japanese youngster is being talked about in Japan as a possible candidate for the team's second drive, alongside Takuma Sato.

A NEW DEAL FOR SPA?

The Dutch newsagency ANP is reporting that the Walloon government has signed a new contract with Formula One Management to preserve the Belgian Grand Prix.

A BIG BOOST FOR FORMULA NIPPON

GP2 may have made a mark in 2005 but it is worth noting that there are signs that Formula Nippon is reviving over in Japan with rule changes aimed at giving the series the kind of relevance it had back in the 1990s when many aspiring drivers cut their teeth in Japan before moving into F1.

HELLO! FORMULA 1! TIME TO LISTEN

NASCAR continues to romp away from Formula 1 is terms of promotional activities with yet another NASCAR-linked movie now in the planning stages.

WILLIAMS WILL PAY WURZ

There is a good sign for all Formula 1 fans out there with the news that Williams has decided not to go down the route of taking on a test driver with money and will be paying Alexander Wurz in 2006.

2 JANUARY 2006

WILLIAMS AND WURZ

Williams F1 HAS signed a contract with Austrian Alexander Wurz for him to become the team's test and reserve driver in 2006.

RUMBLINGS FROM THE CIRCUITS

The news over the Christmas holidays that Hockenheim is struggling to avoid bankruptcy has led to murmurs of discontent amongst the F1 circuits around the world.

FERRARI AND DE BEERS

Although there is no official word at all on the subject there is much speculation that the De Beers diamond company is to replace the Vodafone sponsorship in 2007. If this is confirmed it will mean that De Beers is investing at least $50m a year in Ferrari.

KOREA CANCELS FORMULA 1 PLAN

Korea has cancelled its plans to hold a Formula 1 race in the Chinhae area, which designated as a free economic zone by the government. The Koreans did a feasibility study for a race track and decided that it was not such a good idea and the plan was cancelled.