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GP Week : Issue 24
Short Straights n Kimi Raikkonen’s achievements in Formula 1 will be celebrated with a special sheet of postal stamps in Finland. The honour comes as part of the 370th anniversary of Finland’s national postal service. n McLaren is set to rotate its staff in 2009. With an increased calendar ensuring that F1 folk are denied their usual August break, staff fatigue is believed to be likely to set in. With that in mind, McLaren has taken the bold move of announcing that it will rotate its staff next year to allow them ample time off. n Rumours over the weekend have linked one-time F1 back-marker Narain Karthikeyan with a return to F1 with Force India in 2009. An optimistic notion at best, if it actually happens GPWeek will eat its metaphorical hat. n He may have been beaten to pole by an auction winner, but Timo Glock won the Toyota Race of legends at Moneterey, USA, at the weekend. The Toyota F1 star took on a field of ex-F1 drivers and the lucky auction winner to head a podium which included Jean-Pierre Jarier and Eddie Cheever. Formula 2 plans scupp THIS week’s news that Bernie Ecclestone is interested in purchasing WTCC support category International Formula Master and renaming it GP3 will have dented FIA President Max Mosley’s expectations of getting his proposed Formula 2 off the ground in 2009. With the FIA having opened the tendering process for F2, it is understood that the body’s preferred route would have been to have taken over the running of Formula Master itself from current organisers, N. Technology, adopting the clever cost-saving structure upon which IFM was initially based as the foundation for F2, a new F3 and, potentially, a new F4. Formula Master’s original idea was to have one base car which, with the addition of ever increasing levels of aerodynamics and horsepower could be turned from an entry level formula into an ever faster, ever more relevant championship. Entry level Formula School (150hp) sees an increase in wings and power to become Formula Academy (200hp), which in turn becomes Formula Master (250hp). The cost saving inherent in such a series of championships is obvious, and falls in perfectly with the FIA’s intentions over its F2 proposals. The 250hp of the Honda engine in IFM however falls well short of F1 feeder category level, although a direct comparison with GP2 would have been unlikely as Ecclestone and Allsport Management control which championships make up the support race schedule on F1 weekends. The FIA’s decision to set up a Formula 2 championship was seen as a bold political move against Bernie Ecclestone and his GP2 Series, and given the FIA’s alleged interest in IFM, the news that Ecclestone himself is now believed to be in negotiations with N. Technology boss Mauro Sipsz with a view to taking over IFM, renaming it GP3 and running it on F1 weekends can, in turn, be seen as a direct counter to the FIA’s F2 threat. Although contacted by GPWeek, IFM organisers were unwilling to comment on current speculation. We expect the story to develop quickly, however, with an official comment from N. Technology within the next few weeks. Whatever the outcome, there seems little doubt that the whole notion of Formula 2 is a ruse. With the commercial rights holders of Formula 1 due to take over lease-ownership of the Formula 1 name under a 100 year agreement in 2011, many believe the only reason the F2 name has even been mentioned is to attempt to lure Ecclestone or CVC into buying the lease for the F2 name from the FIA. With the current three-year cycle of the GP2 Series ending at the conclusion of the 2010 season, the timing couldn’t be better for the third generation of GP2 to be renamed Formula 2. ADVERTISE in GPWEEK to access a huGE global audience