• Speed TV’s Robin Miller is reporting that reigning IRL and Indy 500 champ Dan Wheldon will announce an F1 deal this week. The deal is reportedly a test-driver deal, with a full-time race seat option for 2007.
• The Formula One Commission met last Monday, and made some big decisions. First up, starting next year teams will get seven sets of tires for a race weekend, and tire changes will be permitted during the races. Secondly, the qualifying format has changed to a “knockout” format – After the first 15 minutes, the slowest five cars will be eliminated; after the second 15 minutes, the slowest five remaining cars will be eliminated; then, in a final 20-minute session, the pole will be claimed and the top 10 spots on the grid decided. This fifth change to the qualifying format in five years is supposed to be less confusing for the fans. But wait, there’s more: “Fuel may be added to cars at any time during the first 40 minutes of qualifying and any car eliminated during the first two periods may then be refueled at any time until the pit lane opens for the race. Teams will be required to fill cars taking part in the final 20-minute period with the amount of fuel with which they intend to start the race. Any fuel used during the 20-minute period may be replaced before the start of the race.” That’s much simpler, right?
• A new wing has been devised for the 2008 season that eliminates the center section, basically created wings over the rear wheels. Called a “Centerline Downwash Generating Wing,” this device is supposed to “dirty” up the air behind the car, making passing easier. It may be moved up to 2007. Sponsors will miss the advertising space. Also coming in 2008: slick tires (hooray!), larger wheels and a single tire manufacturer. Rumors have Goodyear and Kumho looking at the deal. Michelin has had unkind comments about the FIA since this announcement, and Bridgestone hasn’t had much to say (which probably means they’re happy not to have to make their tires live through a whole race weekend anymore).
• The 2006 schedule was confirmed: Bahrain, 12 March; Malaysia, 19 March; Australia, 02 April; San Marino, 23 April; Europe (Nurburgring), 07 May; Spain, 14 May; Monaco, 28 May; Great Britain, 11 June; Canada, 25 June; United States, 02 July; France, 16 July; Germany, 30 July; Hungary, 06 August; Turkey, 27 August; Italy, 10 September; Belgium, 17 September; Japan, 01 October; China, 08 October; Brazil (awaiting final contract approval), 22 October. The Belgian (Spa) promoter announced it was bankrupt this week, though, so the great Spa circuit may be in doubt once again.
• FIA president Max Mosley was re-elected to another term, and his election was ratified by the FIA. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
• Roush Racing announced that AAA will replace Viagra as the sponsor of its No. 6 (which will be a Ford Fusion starting in 2006). Mark Martin will postpone his retirement one year to drive in ’06, and current Truck Series rookie Todd Kluever will take over in 2007.
• Stirling Marlin has signed a multi-year deal with MB2 Motorsports to take over the car driven by Scott Riggs this year. The No. 10 will become No. 14 (honoring