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Motorsports: Force India confirms Sergio Perez in multi-year contract

  • Motorsports >
  • Force India confirms Sergio Perez in multi-year contract
Sergio Perez

The last few seats are being taken in the grand game of musical chairs that ensues at the end of any Formula One season. The latest announcement comes from Force India, which has confirmed that it’s keeping Sergio Perez in place not just for next season, but for the next several years.

This weekend in Abu Dhabi, Perez completed his fourth season in Formula One. After success in British Formula Three and GP2, the Mexican driver debuted with Sauber in 2011, switched to McLaren in 2013 and to Force India for the season now drawing to a close – notably landing on the podium in Bahrain.

That was only the second podium finish the team has ever seen, following Giancarlo Fisichella’s second-place finish at Spa in 2009. The team now sits sixth in the standings, tying its position last year and in 2011. The high point for the team came when it was still known as Jordan Grand Prix, finishing the 1999 championship in third place on the back of two checkered flags and four more podiums claimed by Heinz-Harald Frentzen (while his World Champion teammate, Damon Hill, languished in his final season on the grid).

Perez will partner once again with Nico Hulkenberg next season. The announcement leaves only the future of Caterham, one seat at Toro Rosso and the decision from McLaren on Fernando Alonso’s wingman still left open as this season draws to a close.

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Rory McIlroy had ONE bad week the entire 2013-14 golf season and it wasn’t even all his fault

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Rory McIlroy had ONE bad week the entire 2013-14 golf season and it wasn’t even all his fault

By Alex Myers

Rory McIlroy has always been labeled a streaky golfer. The difference now is that instead of alternating between good and bad performances he only seems to fluctuate between good and great.

McIlroy, 25, wrapped up his season on the European Tour with a T-2 at the DP World Tour Championship. He had already sewed up the season-long Race to Dubai title and $ 1.25 million bonus without even playing in the tour’s first three playoff events.

Related: Rory and Tiger’s similar career paths

Two months ago, the World No. 1 finished an even more impressive campaign on the PGA Tour. McIlroy was nipped in the FedEx Cup Playoffs by a red-hot Billy Horschel, but his $ 8.2 million in non-bonus earnings led the tour.

Aside from the money, though, McIlroy’s results on the world’s two biggest tours in 2014 stood out for their remarkable consistency. McIlroy may not have been sharp in every round — his Day 2 struggles were well documented — but he really struggled just once the entire season.

Related: Golf’s all-time greatest seasons

McIlroy shot 74-69 to miss the cut at the Irish Open and even that performance came with a built-in excuse. McIlroy was jet-lagged from flying to Ireland from the previous week’s U.S. Open and his clubs didn’t show up until Wednesday after the airline lost them for a couple of days.

blog-rory-mcilroy-irish-open-1124.jpg

That’s it. One bad week. And it wasn’t even that bad. And it wasn’t even all his fault.

Overall, McIlroy played in 24 events. He finished in the top 25 in every tournament other than the Irish Open and racked up 17 top 10s and four wins, including two major championships and the Euro Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA. Isolating his PGA Tour performance, McIlroy finished in the top 25 in all 17 starts and in the top 10 on 12 of those occasions.

Placing McIlroy’s 2014 among golf’s all-time great seasons isn’t a stretch when you consider that kind of consistency. Of course, it’s not quite Tiger Woods’ 2000 campaign (nine wins, three majors, 22 of 22 top 25s and 19 of 22 top 10s), but what is?

Related: The best and worst of golf’s majors in 2014

In contrast, McIlroy had 27 top 10s and 38 top 25s in 70 career PGA Tour starts entering this season. The weeks in which he’s on his game have always impressed, but now his ability to play solid golf even when he’s off has brought him to another level.

Wherever McIlroy makes his PGA Tour return in 2015, he’ll arrive with 17 straight top 25s, having won two straight majors, and having had one straight all-time great seasons. How’s that for streaky?

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Official: Ferrari replaces F1 boss with Marlboro exec

  • Ferrari replaces F1 boss with Marlboro exec
F1 Ferrari Team Principal

Ferrari just finished its worst Formula One season in decades, and if you’re thinking heads are going to roll, you’re right. In fact they already have, as team principal Stefano Domenicali was dismissed earlier this year and longtime chairman Luca di Montezemolo was axed just two months ago. Now Maranello has announced a new team principal, yet again.

Instead of promoting from within, however, this time Ferrari has called in an outside executive – albeit one with whom it is intimately familiar. His name is Maurizio Arrivabene, and he’s served as a senior executive at tobacco giant Philip Morris International, managing (among other areas) the Marlboro brand’s sponsorship of the Scuderia. In that capacity he’s been sitting on the FIA’s Formula One Commission as the sponsors’ representative since 2010, giving him a familiarity with how the series is run.

In his new capacity as Managing Director of the Gestione Sportiva and Team Principal of Scuderia Ferrari, Arrivabene replaces Marco Mattiacci, who was called up to the post from his previous position as head of the North American office just eight months ago. Back then Mattiacci replaced a similarly under-performing Domenicali. The change may very well have come at the behest (if not insistence) of Philip Morris, which remains the team’s main sponsor and is undoubtedly displeased with Ferrari’s performance lately. It wouldn’t be the first time. After all, Marlboro similarly brokered the deal that put Ron Dennis in charge of McLaren in the early 1980s.

Mattiacci’s swift replacement comes at the end of a disastrous season for the Scuderia. Following yesterday’s season finale in Abu Dhabi, Ferrari finished fourth in the constructors’ standings behind Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams. The last time it finished the championship in such poor shape was in 2010 when Felipe Massa was injured and the team scrambled to find a replacement. But even then it managed to win at least one race and land on the podium another five times. Fernando Alonso finished on the podium only twice this season while Kimi Raikkonen struggled further back. This year marked the first time Ferrari failed to win a grand prix since 1993, and even then Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger managed more podiums than the team scored this season.

Autoblog [expanded by feedex.net]

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Report: 20 Japanese auto supplier execs on the lam from US authorities?

  • Report >
  • 20 Japanese auto supplier execs on the lam from US authorities?
Attorney General Eric Holder Announces Antitrust Law Enforcement Action

The US Department of Justice has been on a campaign over the past few years to crack down on price fixing in the auto industry, especially from Japanese parts suppliers. In the agency’s most recent count, it has indicted 46 people with 26 guilty pleas and raised over $ 2.4 billion in fines from 31 companies, including nine at once in 2013. Unfortunately, about 20 of these men remain fugitives from the DoJ and catching them might be very difficult.

As a perfect illustration of the problem, the DoJ indicted Hiroya Hirose from NSK Ltd. and Masakazu Iwami from Jtekt Corporation on November 13 for alleged price fixing against Toyota. Both men face up to 10 years in prison and a $ 1 million fine, if found guilty in the US. However, neither of them may ever set foot behind bars, let alone even make it to US soil to stand trial. According to an investigation by Automotive News, Hirose is still employed at NSK in Japan and is the section head of one of its automotive units. This is despite being a fugitive in the eyes of US law enforcement. Although, this is among the most brazen examples. When contacted by AN, some of the other companies said the indicted executives no longer worked there.

The conundrum facing the DoJ is how to get the men extradited here to actually be tried. According to Automotive News, a conviction for price fixing in Japan carries no jail time. The feds can’t just send bounty hunters across the Pacific to round these execs up, either. Bringing them over requires consent by the Japanese government, and it’s loath to ship citizens to a foreign country to face a much harsher penalty.

There doesn’t appear to be a great solution to getting these men to the US, but the DoJ still has plenty of work to do against the price fixing of automotive parts. One recent report claimed that the problem goes well beyond just Japan. Even if the agency can’t get these men, there are other targets to go after.

Autoblog [expanded by feedex.net]

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Report: Mercedes-AMG planning more hardcore A45 hot hatch

  • Report >
  • Mercedes-AMG planning more hardcore A45 hot hatch
Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG

The launch of the A45 AMG marked Mercedes-Benz’s first real assault on the premium hot hatch segment. And with 355 horsepower from a 2.0-liter turbo four, it is indeed hot. But the latest word has it that Mercedes-AMG is planning an even hotter version.

Speaking with Auto Express at the LA Auto Show last week, AMG boss Tobias Moers indicated that his department was toying with the idea of a more hardcore version of the A45. In what Moers referred to as a “street fighter,” the A45′s engine would be tuned to produce even more power, the cabin stripped out and the rolling stock, brakes and aero upgraded for more serious performance.

Think of it, then, as something of a Black Series approach, only it’s not expected to carry that name, which has historically been reserved specifically for two-door models. Given AMG’s current list of priorities and limited manpower, though, Moers suggests it will be several years – likely towards the end of the model’s life cycle – before it may prepare such a model, following a similar formula to the Mini JCW GP and Renaultsport Mégane R26.R. Here’s hoping an American version based on the CLA could also be in the cards.

Autoblog [expanded by feedex.net]

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