The Horse bucking again

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

Italian Formula One racing giant Ferrari is on the warpath against the rulers of the sport over the failure to persuade manufacturers such as BMW, Honda and Toyota to stay in the series.

In a stinging rebuke of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) on its company website, Ferrari insisted that F-1 was being dumbed down by allowing so-called new teams -- like USF1 and Campos Meta -- to join without guarantees either will have a car ready on opening day next month in Bahrain.

"USF1 appears to have gone into hiding in Charlotte, North Carolina, to the dismay of those like the Argentinian driver, (Jose Maria) Lopez, who thought he had found his way into the Formula 1 paddock, and now has to start all over again," the Ferrari piece charged. "Amazingly, they still have the impudence to claim that everything is hunky-dory under the starry stripy sky.

"Of the 13 teams who signed up, or were induced to sign up, for this year's Championship, to date only 11 of them have heeded the call, turning up on track, some later than others, and while some have managed just a few hundred kilometres, others have done more, but at a much reduced pace," the Ferrari piece written anonymously by "the Horse Whisperer" said.

The venomous attack is reminiscent of Ferrari's tar and feathering of the FIA in the spring of last season when it accused the group of turning the series into the GP3 -- a sort of triple A version of F-1.

Ferrari claims it is now a virtual certainty that neither USF1 -- based in Charlotte, N.C. -- nor Spain's Campos Meta will be on the grid at least for the first four races and probably more after that.

Ferrari also is claiming that Renault -- an F-1 world champion outfit only three seasons ago -- is but a shadow of its former self.

The blame, according to Ferrari, lies at the feet of former FIA boss Max Mosley.

"This is the legacy of the holy war waged by the former FIA president," the Horse Whisperer said. "The cause in question was to allow smaller teams to get into Formula 1. This is the outcome: Two teams will limp into the start of the championship, a third is being pushed into the ring by an invisible hand -- you can be sure it is not the hand of Adam Smith -- and, as for the fourth, well, you would do better to call on Missing Persons to locate it.

"In the meantime, we have lost two constructors along the way, in the shape of BMW and Toyota, while at Renault, there's not much left other than the name. Was it all worth it?"

The column also casts dispersions on the proposed Sephan team, alleging that at least some of its principals have been tainted by the plague of scandals that have tarnished F-1 the past two seasons.

"Firstly, they launched themselves into a quixotic legal battle with the FIA, then they picked the bones of Toyota on its death bed," the column read. "Having got some people on board, around whom there was still a whiff of past scandals, they are now hovering around waiting to replace whoever is first to drop out of the game."

Testing, testing

It seems that Danica Patrick took a big step backwards in the NASCAR Nationwide Stater Bros. 300 at Fontana's Auto Club Speedway this past Saturday when she finished three laps down in a very uncompetitive fashion in the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.

And this after a week-long media blitz that had Patrick guesting on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Ellen and the Bonnie Hunt Show to boost the event.

Now there appears to be an even bigger gap between her performance and JRM teammate Kelly Bires, who finished seventh in the same race with the same equipment.

But questions are being posed about the lack of testing Patrick has done in Nationwide cars from JRM. That unfamiliarity certainly was in evidence at Fontana's big oval.

Her attitude after the race when she ignored requests for television interviews also has the 27-year-old Patrick in hot water. Colleague Michelle-Marie Beer -- who has witnessed Patrick's antics up close in the IndyCar series -- has coined her "Princess Perma Pout".

Canadian corner

Paul Tracy still has not signed a full-time deal for the 2010 IndyCar series season but KV Racing Technology will field a car for him at three races: The Indianapolis 500, the Honda Indy Toronto and the Rexall Edmonton Indy.

Finish lines

The operators of the Auto Club Speedway are defending the track's dismal turnout for the Sprint Cup Auto Club 500, blaming the local economy. Track president Gillian Zucker said that the track still sells a significant number of seats to its pair of races. "There are facilities that are smaller than ours," Zucker said. "All tracks are not equal. If you're at a track that holds 50,000 people and sells out, is that better than a track that holds 92,000 (like Fontana) and is growing? I don't think it is." ... On the good news side of the coin, Richard Childress Racing looks like it is making a comeback after a dreadful 2009 season. RCR has all three of its drivers in the top five after two races. Kevin Harvick leads the Cup standings by 19 points over teammate Clint Bowyer. Jeff Burton is fifth, 31 points back.

DEAN.MCNULTY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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