Here’s the latest racing news from around the globe:
• The Music Stops: This year’s game of musical chairs in Formula 1 was concluded this past week with the announcement that American Scott Speed and Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi will race for Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2006. The appointment of Speed, a graduate of the now-defunct Red Bull Driver Search, makes him the first American to drive in F1 since Michael Andretti in 1993. He’ll be driving for the team that used to be Minardi, the perpetual underdog, but it’s a start. Hopefully Red Bull’s money and its other F1 team will help STR move up the grid quickly. Red Bull also announced that Austrian Christian Klein will remain with Red Bull Racing to drive alongside David Coulthard, and that Swiss Neil Jani will be the third/test driver for STR.
• 2008 Rules Changes Ratified: The FIA’s World Motor Sport Council met in Monaco on Friday and ratified rules changes proposed for Formula 1 beginning in 2008. Among them are a single tire supplier, standardized ECUs, long-life engines and gearboxes, rev-limited engines and restrictions on changes to aerodynamics during the season. According to a press release from the FIA, “It was agreed that the main objectives of the 2008 Formula One Technical Regulations should be to reduce drastically the cost of competing and to change the aerodynamic characteristics of the cars so as to make it easier to overtake without increasing cornering speeds.” Nice thought, but when did anything ever reduce the cost of Formula 1? The teams will find a way to spend money, and the one who spends the most money most intelligently will usually win. How much do you suppose the teams are spending to build all-new 2.4-liter V8s for 2006? How much will it cost to make those engines and their transmissions “long-life?” These measures, it can be argued, are the “NASCAR-ization” of F1. The manufacturers won’t like them, and this won’t do much to calm the Grand Prix Manufacturers Association’s talk of a proposed breakaway series.
• Williams Jumps Ship: Speaking of the GPMA, their ranks (and chances of starting a breakaway series) were diminished last week as Williams (which now is no longer manufacturer-affiliated, having lost BMW and switching to Cosworth engines for 2006) has signed on to the 2008 Concord Agreement, joining Ferrari, MF1/Midland and Red Bull (plus, no doubt, the Red Bull-owned Scuderia Toro Rosso). The move by Williams splits the field 50-50, with the GPMA still counting McLaren-Mercedes, BMW-Sauber, Honda,
• Testing: The teams moved over to