Here’s the news from the world of motorsports:
• FIA Receives 22 Applications for 2008: FIA president Max Mosley put the pressure on teams to sign up for the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship, with its radical new rules, by allowing only one week for applications to be filed instead of the customary 18 months. His gambit worked, and worked well. Not only did the five Grand Prix Manufacturers Association teams (Renault, Honda, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and BMW) sign onto the program, but a total of 22 applications were received for the 12 available slots. All 11 current teams signed up, but the others were not revealed. It is known that the 11 other applicants included David Richards’ Prodrive organization and former Minardi owner Paul Stoddart. Among those rumored to have applied are Japan's Direxiv group, in an effort to be headed by ex-GP driver Jean Alesi, Russian billionaire Roustam Tariko in a partnership with former driver Eddie Irvine, Jordan Grand Prix founder Eddie Jordan and former BAR director Craig Pollock. The fee to join F1 was reduced from $48 million to $363,500 (300,000 Euros), thus making the prospect of competing in the world’s most prestigious series much more affordable. All applicants have been invited to a meeting in London on April 10, and a final list of the approved 2008 entries will be unveiled on April 28.
• CVC Consolidates: On the heels of its
approval by the European Union to purchase Formula 1’s commercial rights
business SLEC (contingent on selling Dorna Sports, which controls the Moto GP
motorcycle championship), CVC Capital Partners further consolidated its position
in the sport by purchasing the 14.175 percent of SLEC held by the Lehman
Brothers investment bank and by purchasing Allsport Management, a subcontractor
to F1 which handles trackside signage and hospitality at all F1 races.
• Schumacher to Renault? One of the hottest items in the rumor mill this past week was speculation that seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher may say arrivederci to his pals at Ferrari after this season and say bonjour to the Renault team. Why? Renault has the best car, and Schumacher doesn’t want to end his career in anything but the best. Renault is losing World Champion Fernando Alonso to McLaren, and speculation has McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen going to Ferrari. Sound unlikely? Don’t forget, this is Formula 1 we’re talking about: stranger things have happened.
• Monza Safe: Racing at Italy’s historic Monza circuit is safe. If you recall, three families living in the village of Biassono complained that the Autodromo Nazionale was too noisy, and got a judge to rule in their favor, famously denouncing F1 as "an unnecessary activity, dangerous and without any social benefit and which has a considerable impact on the environment." The circuit appealed the judge’s decision unsuccessfully, so the Mayor of Monza struck an agreement with the three families that will allow racing to continue at the circuit, but restricting the number of days that racing can occur and forcing the circuit to investigate noise-reduction methods.
• Gordon Pays the Price: Jeff Gordon’s shove of Matt Kenseth after the race in Bristol is probably the most-aired piece of videotape thus far this year. NASCAR handed down the punishment on Tuesday, fining the four-time champ $10,000 and putting him on probation until August 30. Gordon, who can afford $10,000, said he’d probably do it again if the situation occurred again. Kenseth said he understood Gordon’s anger after being spun from third to 21st on the last lap, and that he probably should have waited awhile before trying to apologize for spinning him. The big winner was the media, who milked it for all it was worth leading up to this past weekend’s race at Martinsville.