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Big F1 deal for BlackBerry; Villeneuve, Tracy at Mosport?

Published February 5, 2013

Iconic Canadian company BlackBerry, nee RIM, announced a big deal Monday with the Mercedes Formula One team that will see the BlackBerry name plastered prominently on the Silver Arrow race cars and on the uniforms of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg (pictured).

Details to follow. But first . . .

When Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, nee Mosport, announced last fall that it had landed a race in the NASCAR Camping World Series for this year’s Labour Day Weekend, I wrote that although I was pleased as punch that the event would happen, I was suspicious of the level of talent the circuit would be able to attract and promote.

Would Kyle Busch be there come September, I wondered? Joe Nemechek? Todd Bodine? James Buescher, who won the truck series championship in 2012?

Today, I still have no idea who’s coming to race and who’s not coming. But I do have a couple of names to drop.

A little bird told me yesterday that two of Canada’s biggest racing names are looking for sponsorship that could – repeat, could – see them in trucks at Mosport next Sept. 1, the Sunday of Labour Day weekend.

Name them, I said. And – as Popeye used to say – you could blow me down.

How about Jacques Villeneuve and Paul Tracy?

The little bird said, in addition to Villeneuve and Tracy, that Old Mosport co-owner Ron Fellows is hoping to be in a truck, as are two of the young chargers currently racing in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series for stock cars, J.R. Fitzpatrick and Andrew Ranger, both of whom have had success in the Camping World Series, particularly Fitzpatrick.

My Spidey Sense tells me Max Papis might also be hovering around in the background.

I’m not as suspicious about that entry list any longer. If JV, PT and RF are in trucks with their pedals to the metal, we won’t need those other guys.

How would you like to be Lewis Hamilton?

You cut the McLaren apron strings and embark on a marvelous new adventure with Mercedes F1 and all you hear from just about everybody is that this was the stupidest thing imaginable and what was he thinking and he’s traded class for cash and, etc. etc.

The latest salvo was fired at the weekend by British sports car champion Allan McNish.

Writing for the British Internet site Express.co.uk, journalist Nick Stamford quoted the 43-year-old McNish as saying this:

“I don’t see Lewis winning races in 2013 – and there has to be doubts that the car will be good enough in 2014. And it is easy for a lean couple of years to develop into something longer. Just look what happened to Jacques Villeneuve after he joined BAR, having won the title in 1997. He never won another race. Lewis has got a tough task ahead of him at Mercedes. It is a gamble.”

For his part, Hamilton prattled on and on at Monday’s 2013 Mercedes launch about how happy he is and I swear his words reminded me of Ebenezer Scrooge’s on Christmas morning:

“I’m happier. Just happier, I can’t really explain it. Happier that I’ve got a new challenge, happy that I’ve got a new start, happy that I’ve got a fresh chapter in my life, happy that I’ve got this massive challenge, happy that I’ve got this excitement because I don’t know if the car will be good or bad. I’m excited because I know that I can contribute and with a lot of hard work and perseverance I think we can get there.”

I’d say Lewis is happy and excited, wouldn’t you?

And then there was that news involving Mercedes and BlackBerry. In a release Monday, Mercedes said:

“As the new Silver Arrow, the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W04, completes its first laps this morning at the Jerez circuit in Spain, the team is delighted to announce a significant new partnership agreement with BlackBerry (NASDAQ: RIMM, TSX: RIM).

“As the official mobile computing partner for the Mercedes Formula One Team, BlackBerry will collaborate with the team on technical and marketing opportunities.

“The new BlackBerry 10 platform will deliver tools and services for Mercedes,  and fan engagement will be improved through the joint development of apps. BlackBerry 10 smartphones will also be used by the team . . . throughout the Formula One season.

“The new partnership sees the iconic BlackBerry branding featured prominently on the chassis and headrest of the F1 W04 Silver Arrow, the race suits of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, and on the team’s racewear kit.”

In the same release, Blackberry’s marketing chief Frank Boulben said:

“Formula One is all about precision engineering, design and innovation – three values that mirror the approach that’s gone into creating BlackBerry 10. It is a natural fit.”

Good luck to Blackberry and good luck to Mercedes in this new partnership.

And, lastly, Bob Pockrass, writing in The Sporting News, reports that car owner Tony Stewart not only has faith and trust in Danica Patrick, who will drive with him in his Sprint Cup team this year that also includes Ryan Newman, but says people who criticize her really don’t know what they’re talking about.

Said Stewart, who knows how hard it is to go from IndyCar racing to NASCAR, having done it himself:

“Most of the people that do the picking and analyzing aren’t people that actually understand how to analyze a whole race from start to finish and aren’t qualified to make that judgment.

“But from our side as a team owner and teammate, I’ve seen great strides. She’s made huge gains in a short amount of time and that shows talent.”

There are seasoned observers out there who are suggesting that it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Patrick could win a race, or races, this season.

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