Here’s the super-duper hyper-idiocy
Aston Martin Valkyrie.
Is this the ultimate
hypercar? The Valkyrie. For 4 million dollars, or thereabouts you get a 1000
kilogram car powered by naturally aspirated V12 engine that makes around 1000
horsepower (745kW), aided by battery assistance used at low speed and for torque
vectoring when cornering.
Aston Martin’s attention to
detail includes a new aluminium nose badge thinner than human hair.
Marek Reichman styled the
striking car’s upper bodywork, working closely with motorsport legend Adrian
Newey. The British engineering genius shaped Indy 500–winning machines before
turning to F1, where his work secured world titles for Williams, McLaren and Red
“I’m working with arguably
the world’s greatest F1 designer, Adrian Newey. It’s a collaboration between the
two companies, the two brains,” Reichman says.
“This is a
‘once-in-a-lifetime’ for any designer, to be involved in something that will
change the face of hypercars. It’s going to be a long time before it is
surpassed – it may never be repeated.”
Reichman says the pair
split design duties, with Newey focusing on engineering and the Aston man taking
charge of style.
“When Adrian and I met, my
sketches of what I believed the car was going to be like, versus his, were so
very similar, but his had an engineering bias and mine were driven by the
esthetics of beauty,” Reichman says.
“The best way to describe
it is that the underside is Adrian forcing and controlling the air, everything
that you see that’s in carbon I have an input with Adrian, but he is the lead on
“It’s the opposite on the
upper side, it’s my lead with Adrian’s input. The underside is about forcing the
air, the upper side is about letting the air naturally do what it needs to do,
creating forms and shapes that don’t interfere with airflow, that don’t create
areas of turbulence.
“It’s about creating a
pebble, it’s about creating something with beautiful highlights that feel as
though they’ve been formed by the air flowing around the surfaces. It’s about
keeping it clean, pure and simple.”
On paper, the Valkyrie is
quicker than an F1 car around a circuit, but since it will need an F1 driver
salary and F1 driver skill to drive it. What is the point? Especially as they
are talking about making 150 of them. Crazy, crazy, crazy!
Anyone for a lidar?
Continental in Europe has developed
cleaning systems for on-board sensors such as video cameras, radars and lidars
to keep the autonomous vehicles of the future running reliably and safely.
(Lidar, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method
that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure variable distances.)
According to Continental, dirty sensors on
automated cars have the potential to trigger limp-home mode or even bring the
vehicle to a halt. Cleanliness really is next to godliness it seems.
“If the sensor says ‘I cannot work’, the
car stops,” said Continental engineer Rolf-Dieter Schlein. “That’s impossible,
Speaking at the recent Continental
TechShow, Schlein said car-makers were already getting feedback that the rear
cameras on cars could become inoperative because they were “totally blind”.
He said dirt accumulation and frost after
an icy night were the main culprits.
Continental has been designing cleaning
systems for windscreens, taillights and headlamps for 30 years, and Schlein said
the company brought this experience to bear on the new problem of sensor
“Now we have the complete system,” he said.
“We have the reservoir, we have the pumps, we have the hoses, all heated if
necessary for wintertime, and we can heat not only the hoses and the fluids, we
can also heat the lenses.”
“The camera can recognize if she’s blind.
There is an algorithm behind the camera, and the camera normally expects
changing images,” he said.
“If there is an amount of pixels which
didn’t change any more, even if you are driving, then she says ‘there must be
something wrong, I must be cleaned’.”
That triggers a pump and some
electro-hydraulic valves to clean the affected sensor.
“If we are talking about electric and
automated driving, we expect about 20 sensors per car,” he said. “That’s a lot.”
“So we are using, in the first step, a
dosing valve. That means it doesn’t matter how long the pump runs, it gives only
a short shot of water, so we can control the amount of water per cleaning cycle.
That will help keep the water consumption on a very low level.”
“The second step is we are trying a
combination of water and air. That means first water, and then an air shot to
clean the last droplets.
“This is important for active sensors like
lidar and radar. They have the problem they are an active sensor. That means
they sense some waves, radar waves or (laser) light waves, and the rates for the
feedback from the outside determine how the sensor reacts.”
Tesla 3 at a store near you!
The car that has been subject to speculation for months is
now a reality, going into production in California.
CEO Elon Musk said, “Production grows exponentially, so
August should be 100 cars and September above 1500. Looks like we can reach
20,000 Model 3 cars per month in December.”
At last report, Tesla was holding 373,000 USD 1000 deposits
from global customers for the Model 3 which will sell in the United States for
The first customer deliveries will naturally be made in
Tesla’s home base of California before being extended to the USA before filling
the export orders.
According to Musk, orders placed now in the US will be
filled in mid-2018 at the earliest.
Musk also confirmed that the Model 3 had achieved
regulatory approval from US authorities two weeks ahead of schedule.
Tesla has got over delays caused by battery supply
problems, but the new Tesla battery plant in Nevada, dubbed Gigafactory, began
mass production of lithium-ion cells early this year, easing the issues.
The five-seat Model 3 has a claimed a driving range of 345
km – short of the Model S large sedan’s 490 km and, but still more than enough
distance between charging.
As opposed to the Model S P100 D with its ‘ludicrous’ mode
returning zero to 100 km/h in 2.7 seconds, the Model 3 claims under six seconds,
which is still more than adequate.
Prices are way above the average for automobiles in the
USA, so it will cost even more to become an Auto-Greenie in this country. I will
hazard a guess at around 20 million baht.
What did we learn from Silverstone?
Well, we learned that F1 can produce
excitement and some unexpected results. Firstly, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
did win convincingly and finished the race without one of his curly hairs
ruffled. His head was big enough before … but it was a flawless drive, and
with what went on behind him he is now only one point shy of Vettel
Hamilton made a good start and the two
Ferrari’s followed (Raikkonen and Vettel) to be then set upon by Verstappen (Red
Bully?) with his aggressive first lap tactics. Raikkonen escaped but Vettel
found himself at the receiving end of youthful aggression, eventually ceding the
place, but getting back in front after the pit stops with Ferrari being slicker
than Red Bull.
Meanwhile, Bottas (Mercedes) was coming
through from his penalty grid position number 9 and getting involved in the race
long (actually season long) battle between the FIndia drivers Ocon and Perez.
However, there was an even more spirited
charge through the field by Ricciardo (Red Bull) from position 20, ending up
fifth and getting the Driver of the Day award.
Around three laps from the end, Hamilton
was never going to be caught and Raikkonen was also secure in second, then
suddenly the left front tyre delaminated and the Iceman was limping into the
pit. This brought Vettel into second, which was what Ferrari wanted.
However, more drama ensued as Vettel then
had his front left tyre delaminating and his resultant pit stop dropped him down
to seventh, returning second place to Raikkonen. But while all this drama was
going on, Bottas had kept his foot down and won second place, while Raikkonen
then found himself in third, positions they would stay in for the final lap.
What about Alonso? Just for a change the
Honda-McLaren engine failed again by half distance.
One driver who needed a good result as his
race seat is disappearing was Jolyon Palmer (Renault) whose car ran out of
hydraulics on the way to the grid. You can start unpicking the Renault badges,
Another driver blotting his copy book was
Daniil (the Torpedo) Kvyat (Toro Rosso) who managed to take out Sainz, his team
mate on the first lap. Daniil can unpick his Toro Rosso badges as well.
F1 race cars are supposedly the epitome of
automotive engineering, but there are some glaring anomalies. For example, to
ensure all cars have the same ride height, the F1 method is to nail a plank of
wood to the underside of the race cars, and then measure how much wore off. An
opening for a carpenter?
Grid penalties galore again. Change any
faulty part and get at least a five place demotion. Change a few defective bits
and you could end up like Alonso (McLaren) getting 30 grid spot penalty, on a
grid which holds 20 cars. Can someone tell me why the driver gets penalized when
the manufacturer of the car incorporates a faulty design? This rule is
The next Grand Prix is the Hungarian on
July 30 with the telecast being 7 p.m. Thai time where we watch on the Jameson’s
Alonso McLaren 32 Engine
Sainz Toro Rosso 0 Accident
Palmer Renault Did Not Start
Classic cars in Bangkok
There is a collection of classics on
display at River City in Bangkok from July 19 to July 30. The exhibition was
presided over at the opening by Dr. Prachin Eamlumnow the President and CEO of
Grand Prix International, who is also the guiding hand for the Bangkok
International Motor Show each March.
There are many classics in Bangkok, so this should be of
great interest to all enthusiasts.
Last week I asked who dropped an
American V8 in a European sports car and gave it to Ursula Andress? It was a
European AC and it was Elvis Presley who presented it to Unrsula Undress.
So to this week. What car is this? Very few were made.
A road-going track car. Three Weber DCO3 carbs. Disc brakes same size front
and rear. Other cars similar Ferrari 250 GTO, British to the core.
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first
correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected]
British GP this weekend
The British Grand Prix will
be held this weekend at the ancestral home of F1, with the first ever F1 GP held
there in 1950 (and won by Dr Farina in the Alfa Romeo, for the collectors of F1
This is a circuit that the
drivers universally like, a circuit that allows cars to pass each other (even
without the DRS and other buttons or coded messages from the pit wall), and a
Grand Prix where it is likely to rain at some point. After all, it is in
England, and they cannot possible go three days on the trot without a good
drenching from above!
The “arena” part of the
circuit was used for the first time a couple of years back and goes from Abbey
to Brooklands corners, moving infield and adds an extra 760 m to the track
length. You will be heartened to read that Herr Tilke was not involved.
Interestingly, this modification was actually built for the MotoGP series, but
now incorporated in the F1 series after Bernie, the patron saint of King Midas
the Dwarf Enterprises, gave it his blessing. Yes, that is the same Bernie who
has masterminded such yawnfest circuits as Bahrain and Singapore. But don’t
So who should we look out
for? Mercedes is still right up there, and Bottas and Hamilton are still best
bet as long as Valtteri stops running into his countryman (Raikkonen). Hamilton
will be trying for the win but if form is anything to go by, the two Mercedes
drivers will be fighting it out with Red Bull and Ferrari as well as between
Will the resurgent form of
the Williams team of Stroll and Massa still be good on this track as well as the
Red Bull Ring? I believe they will.
And the Red Bull Team will
be praying that Renault can find more power. I have a sneaking suspicion their
prayers will not be answered!
All the tail end Charlies
will be tripping over each other as usual. McLaren, fortunately won’t have that
sort of a problem as the car is not quick enough to catch the wobblers up front.
The race is 7 p.m. on
Sunday 9 July. We watch the racing on the big screen in Jameson’s Irish Pub, Soi
AR, next to Nova Park. We get there around 6 p.m. and have something to eat (the
Sunday roasts are great value) and a noggin or two before the start. Why don’t
you come and join us?
Venue sponsored Escort racer.
After the Grand Prix there
is a music concert at The Venue (Mabprachan) with Thailand’s top guitarists Pop
and Lam on stage. Amazing musicians both of them. And why is this notification
on the motoring page? Because The Venue is one of the sponsors of my Retro Racer
Mk1 Ford Escort.
Penalty for Vettel
The airwaves were alight
during the week as to the penalty that F1 enthusiasts thought that Vettel should
have received following his “track rage” outburst. The anticipated news was what
was going to be the FIA penalty meted out to Vettel (Ferrari). However, no
exclusions, no grid penalty, just 40 slaps on the wrist with a wet bus ticket.
According to the FIA, the data showed that
Hamilton did not apply the brakes to test Vettel; however, many avid watchers of
the TV saw Hamilton slow as they came around the corner. Perhaps no brakes, just
a little less go pedal?
Whatever, it is now done and dusted say the
two drivers. About as dusted as Senna and Prost after Japan.
What did we learn from the Austrian GP?
The Austrian Grand Prix was
a bit like the curate’s egg – parts of it were excellent. And by the same token
– parts of it were deadly dull and boring.
It began with a five grid
spot penalty for Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) for changing his gearbox after
qualifying. This demoted him from 3rd to
Quite frankly these grid position penalties are nonsense. The previous meeting
Alonso was hit with a 40 place grid demotion, on a grid that has 20 positions.
Brilliant thinking FIA.
And so 20 cars lined up for
the start and when the lights went out pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
pulled the start of his life (his words, not mine) to lead the field away.
Bottas’ start was so good it was thought initially he might have jumped the
start, but he had not. It was just a “hole shot” where anticipation coincided
The leaders got away
successfully, but the same could not be said for further down the back, where
the usual mayhem resulted in DNF’s for the current golden boy Max Verstappen
(Red Bull) and Fernando Alonso (McLaren). Following a very poor start by
Verstappen (called a clutch problem by Red Bull), Daniil Kvyat managed to hit
Alonso and Verstappen, eliminating both of them. Kvyat claimed partial
blindness, saying, “I then couldn’t see too much of what was happening in front
of me; I think Verstappen had a problem too, so Alonso reacted to that – he saw
it, I didn’t.”
Out front, Bottas continued
to lead from Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) pulling away at one tenth of a second
each lap, leaving Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) unchallenged in third.
The usual round of tyre
changes and compounds then ensued with no dramatic changes in the running order.
However, with around 15 laps to go it became apparent that Vettel was catching
Bottas and Hamilton was catching Ricciardo.
The intervals began to
slowly come down as the tyres began to show blistering. It was too close to the
end of the race to be able to come in for a tyre change, so the drivers could
only try not to stress the tyres too much.
By 10 laps to go, the
intervals were down to around 5 seconds and being whittled away until both
Vettel and Hamilton were within DRS distances from Bottas and Ricciardo.
The last laps were
cliffhangers with Bottas hanging on to win by 0.658 from Vettel and Ricciardo
just over one second in front of Hamilton, who had been as close as 0.2 of a
second, but gave up with Ricciardo defending very strongly.
Returning to the curate’s
egg, the last 10 laps were excellent. The previous 61 were processional.
1 V Bottas Mercedes 1:21,
2 S Vettel Ferrari
1:21.49.181 - 0.658
3 D Ricciardo Red Bull
1:21.54.535 - 6.012
4 L Hamilton Mercedes
1:21.55.953 - 7.430
5 K Raikkonen Ferrari
1:22.08.893 - 20.370
6 R Grosjean Haas
1:23.01.683 - 73.160
7 S Perez Force India - 70
8 E Ocon Force India - 70
9 F Massa Williams - 70
10 L Stroll Williams - 70
11 J Palmer Renault - 70
12 S Vandoorne McLaren - 70
13 N Hulkenberg Renault -
14 P Wehrlein Sauber - 70
15 M Ericsson Sauber - 69
16 D Kvyat Toro Rosso - 68
R C Sainz Toro Rosso Engine
- 44 laps
R K Magnussen Haas
Powersteering - 29 laps
R F Alonso McLaren Damage -
R M Verstappen Red Bull
Michelin, the tyre company that bought the automaker
There have been many
car companies that have gone broke trying to introduce new technologies to
the marketplace. Cord was a notable example, BMW with the 507 was saved by
the Isetta and recently Porsche was saved from bankruptcy by VW. MG saved by
China and Volvo likewise. And there is more when you look at the Great
Depression of the early 30’s.
Another car company
that has bounced from bankruptcy to bankruptcy is Citroen, introducing the
Traction Avant model in 1934. A front wheel drive with independent front
suspension and an arc-welded monocoque body.
is almost universal these days, but in 1934 it was looked at with suspicion
and it was considered that this type of construction lacked strength. To get
over this, Citroen pushed a Traction Avant over a cliff to show that the
body remained in one piece.
As the costs to produce
the Traction Avant escalated, Citroen had to be bailed out by Michelin in
the 1930’s, and the design of the Traction Avant continued until 1957. It
could be ordered in two and four door variants.
Several engines could
be used from 1.3 liters to 1.5, 1.6, 1.9 to a 2.8 straight six with the
bigger engines able to propel the Traction Avant to around 115 km/h.
Financial problems have
beset Citroen and they were selling vehicles in China since 1984 largely via
the Dongfeng Peugeot-CitroŽn joint venture, which today represents a major
market for the brand. In 2014, when PSA Peugeot CitroŽn ran into severe
financial difficulties (again), the Dongfeng Motor Corporation took an
Gloria Skyline GT.
Last week I asked what Japanese
automaker is this? Built planes, electric cars and finally petrol engined
performance cars. Still going today but has had a name change and very much
prized. It was the Prince Gloria Skyline, now called a Nissan GT-R which
returns 0-100 in under 3 seconds. That’s real performance!
So to this week. Who dropped an American V8 in a
European sports car and gave it to Ursula Andress?
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first
correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good
A new development
of the wheel
brand has come up actually re-inventing the humble wheel. The radical new
wheel was unveiled by Continental before its official launch at the
Frankfurt motor show in September.
The new wheel
incorporates an aluminium brake rotor and the calliper into the overall
construction, designed to solve or improve issues associated with the
braking systems of EVs in particular.
By not using the more
usual cast iron brake rotor, the new aluminium rotor is lighter and does not
corrode. EVs usually have pitting and rust problems with their discs because
the energy regeneration systems do most of the braking, meaning that the
discs are not worked as hard.
The new wheel consists
of the wheel rim, the wheel ‘spider’, a brake disc and calliper. In some
ways this harks back to the wheel/drum combination of the Type 35 Bugatti’s.
The first examples use
very large rotors inside the wheel rim with the brake calliper fitted inside
the rotor, rather than on the outer edge, allowing the rotor to have a huge
diameter compared to conventional systems.
“As this disc is
corrosion free and we don’t have any relevant wear on the disc, this can
stay the lifetime on the vehicle,” said Continental engineer Dirk Eser.
Simple physics would
show that the larger rotor is more efficient and less pressure can be
applied to the disc to achieve the same retardation as a standard (smaller)
“There is still
friction, but as we have reinforced aluminium, there is really no relevant
wear, no wear that would force you to change the disc during the lifetime of
the vehicle,” he said.
A disc that lasts the
life of the car will be cheaper in the long run as cast iron rotors have to
be replaced – sometimes as frequently as every two years – because they have
been designed to be sacrificial.
“Definitely one of the
targets is always to be lower in cost,” Eser said. “This is always the case.
Where we will end up we will see.
“This is not just about
a wheel. You’re creating an integrated system that also is included in the
overall lifetime cost of the vehicle.”
Eser said he was
confident the wheel would be chosen by a car manufacturer in the near future
for mass-market manufacturing.
“With this part, it is
quite promising,” he said. “We are starting to promote it and you will see
in three or four years that this is going to launch into production.”
According to Eser,
developments are continuing with the number of parts required reduced while
still allowing for the different rates of expansion between aluminium and
Continental just looks
as if they might have re-invented the wheel.
F1 has become Farce 1
Honda engined F1 car doing a fast lap.
Two years ago I wrote we
learned that Formula 1 is getting to the stage of being Farce 1. How can teams
continue with rules that can give one team 45 grid positions of penalties? Yes,
25 positions for Jenson Button (McLaren-Honda) and 20 for his team mate Alonso.
Why? Because their unreliable and underpowered engines are giving good
imitations of hand grenades, but the team cannot change the engines without
accruing grid position penalties. This is nonsense. And change a gearbox that’s
another 5 grid position penalties. Who dreams this up? It is bad enough that a
powerplant doesn’t last - without more penalties on top.
McLaren aren’t the only
ones getting grid slot penalties as both Red Bull cars also were penalized for
changing gearboxes and/or the underpowered Renault engines in their cars.
Here’s the “revised” grid
penalties. Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull) got a 10 place grid penalty for taking his
fifth Renault engine of the year and started P14. That’s five engines since
His team-mate Daniel
Ricciardo, who was handed the same penalty but was not able to take the full
10-place drop, started P18 and had to take an additional five second time
penalty. Great engines, these Renaults.
As for the McLarens,
Fernando Alonso started the race 19th on the grid with Jenson Button P20. This
was following numerous engine changes of the underpowered Hondas. (I think they
mixed up and sent McLaren a box of 125 cc motorcycle engines.) Alonso, though,
was supposed to also serve a drive-through penalty in the first three laps of
the grand prix while Button had to take a 10 second stop-go penalty.
All this was rather
academic as Alonso didn’t make it as far as turn three ending on top of
Raikkonen (Ferrari) and Button stopped on lap 10 with no power.
Back to being serious, the
powers that be in F1 are supposedly very worried about the falling popularity of
the category, but you certainly don’t fix the situation with nonsensical rules.
And I notice that some categories in Thailand are also adopting this no engine
change rule. Damn nonsense. The emperor’s new clothes comes to mind.
So to the race. He who wins
the start wins the race it would seem. Rosberg (Mercedes) got the drop on his
team mate Hamilton and never was headed after that. When Hamilton then received
a five second penalty for crossing the white line on the exit from the pits,
Rosberg could relax.
A very popular third was
Felipe Massa, the resident dwarf at Williams. Held on to the finish despite
being harassed by the driver formerly known as The Finger from Ferrari. His team
mate Raikkonen looks to have given Ferrari the fuel to set fire to his contract
after losing the car (and the plot, it might seem) on the first lap, taking out
Alonso in the McLaren.
Bottas took fifth for
Williams after a busy race but stayed in front of Hulkenberg (FIndia) and the
lapped rest of the final 14 runners, who did produce some passing action, even
though so far behind.
The next race is the
British GP at Silverstone and McLaren are saying that they are making great
strides forward. Bollox. McLaren should withdraw both cars from the race NOW,
before they embarrass themselves further.
That is what we were
writing 18 months ago, and nothing has changed. Unreliable engines are still
unreliable engines. Penalties dreamed up by the FIA have done nothing to make
the sport a better spectacle. Just leave them alone.
Austrian Grand Prix this weekend
The Austrian Grand Prix
returns to Austria and the Red Bull Ring. The circuit has had a revamp from
Red Bull and Red Bull Racing will naturally be hoping they can get a win on
home soil after gaining top step in Azerbaijan.
The “Ring” has seen
many configurations of the track, mainly to slow the cars down, as speeds of
up to 256 km/h for a lap average have been recorded previously. That’s
“average” not outright top speed which is well over 300 km/h.
The current history is
interesting. Grandstands and pit buildings were demolished in 2004,
rendering the track unusable for any motorsport category. Then in late 2004
and early 2005, there were intense discussions concerning whether the owner
of the circuit, Red Bull, would find another use for the site, or return
motor sports to the venue. There was a circuit extension proposal using part
of the old ÷sterreichring; however, Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz
publicly announced that he had no intention of wasting money on a race
Despite what he had
avowed before, late in 2008, Red Bull began their €70m reconstruction of the
reconstruction, the Red Bull Ring has hosted the DTM Series, F2 and also the
FIA Historic Formula One Championship.
In July 2013, Red Bull
announced that the Austrian Grand Prix would return as a round of the
Formula One World Championship in 2014. This was confirmed on 4 December
2013 when the 2014 Formula One schedule was released and included the
Austrian Grand Prix which was held on 22 June 2014.
The telecast of this
year’s race begins at 7 p.m. Thai time and we will be watching in front of
the big screen at Jameson’s Irish Pub (Soi AR) and we get there around 6
p.m. for something to eat and a convivial drink or two before the race
starts. Come in a koala suit and barrack for another win for Ricciardo and
I’ll get Kim Fletcher to buy you a beer or a eucalyptus leaf or something.
Natter Nosh and Noggin
The Pattaya car club meets at
Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to Nova Park on the second Monday of that
month. The next meeting is on Monday July 10 at Jameson’s at 7 p.m. A totally
informal meeting of like-minded souls to discuss their pet motoring (and
motorcycling) loves and hates (plus lies and outright exaggerations). Many did
go to the Classic Car Show, some exhibiting and others just enjoying the
atmosphere. Come along and meet the guys who have a common interest in cars and
bikes, and enjoy the Jameson’s food, washed down with a few beers or what’s your
fancy. Always a fun night. Be prepared to laugh a lot at some of the antics of
the members (when they were younger)! Remember that the Car Club nights are on
the second Monday of the month only (not every second Monday)!
Last week I asked what car would Jay Leno,
Paul Newman, Weird Al Jankovic and Elvis Presley share? Most interesting 4-some
indeed! It was the Nash Metropolitan. Really!
So to this week. What Japanese automaker is this? Built
planes, electric cars and finally petrol engined cars. Still going today but has
had a name change and very much prized.
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!
What did we learn
Well, we learned that Baku is not the
circuit for F1, and we also learned that Vettel is human and Hamilton
This was the second Grand Prix to be held
at the Baku circuit in Azerbaijan, not a venue known for being steeped in motor
sport. Mongol hordes perhaps, but car racing, not really.
The whole concept of racing around
anybody’s houses is not practical with today’s 350 km/h F1 cars. The circuit
narrows to around 7 meters in places and then widens to accommodate four cars
wide, just asking for collisions as they arrive at the corner.
However, the biggest problem with Baku is
nobody thought about how to retrieve stopped vehicles or debris. There is no
room outside the fences for cranes, tractors etc., so all that eventuates is a
series of Safety Car periods, which the Azerbaijan GP gave us three of them, and
a red flag stoppage for good measure as well.
On paper it looked like a Lewis Hamilton
benefit, head and shoulders above the rest of the field in performance, but all
sorts of things can change that – and did.
On the first lap the Toro Rosso pair
managed to run into each other, Bottas (Mercedes) ran into his countryman
Raikkonen (Ferrari) again and a couple of laps further on, the Force India pair
of Perez and Ocon managed to run into each other as well.
The pits were a waiting room for nose
surgery with the Force Indias doubled up on the forecourt.
It was then that Kvyat (Toro Rosso) really
showed up the deficiencies of the circuit when he stopped on the straight and
there was no way to remove the car! The only way was to yellow flag the event,
get the tractor on the track and go from there.
Then we had carbon fiber shards everywhere,
so more yellows with Azerbaijan’s answers to Usain Bolt running down the track
picking up sharp bits.
But the farce didn’t end there, it only
really started then. The safety car pulled off with the train comprising of
Hamilton followed by Vettel and the rest. Hamilton then pulled a very old trick
by brake testing Vettel and the Ferrari made contact. Vettel threw his hands in
the air and then drove out alongside and banged wheels with Hamilton, he was so
angry. The stewards were not impressed with the impetuosity and leveled a 10
second stop-go penalty on Vettel, who said, “I don’t know why I got the penalty
and Lewis didn’t. It’s disappointing, because it could have been a better
result. I don’t have a problem with Lewis but I just think that what he did on
the track was not ok.”
But the drama was not over yet. Hamilton’s
head rest had become loose and he had to pit to change it. The protagonists
rejoined mid-field. To finish 4th and
Hamilton, in his best Dale Carnegie style
then came on with, “We all feel that pain, but it’s on me to gather my thoughts
and try and lead the team through this adversity. We’ll pull together and move
forwards. I’m proud of my performance and I hope we can take the speed we’ve
shown this weekend forward. I definitely didn’t brake-test Sebastian. I felt a
bump from behind, but that wasn’t the issue for me – everybody saw clearly what
happened after. All the young kids in other series look up to us, as champions,
to set an example and that is not the behavior you expect to see from a multiple
champion. But we know that when times get tough, true colors show. Personally, I
want to do my talking on the track and win this championship in the right way.”
Truly nauseating, Mr. Hamilton.
As well as all that, Ricciardo (Red Bull)
snuck by to win, Bottas (Mercedes) recovered to be second and Lance Stroll
(Williams) claimed his first podium.
Banku provided action, but most of it the
Are you ready for a faux classic?
A faux classic.
Word from the UK, where Mike Day informed
me that moves are afoot to produce “new” classics, using the 1950’s Bentley /RR
chassis. These new classics will be on offer for around 350,000 STG, and it is
planned to build 24 of them. As Mike Day points out, “Sadly this requires 24
original saloons to lose their 60 year old coachwork, some of which may be the
elegant Silver Dawn version, of which most went to the USA.
Mike fears a cull of aging dignified post
war creations in order to fulfill this need (greed?) for this new Faux Flyer,
which demands original underpinnings.
This particular car was built in Australia
on a Bentley/RR chassis, but for me it is evocative of the Bugatti Atalante with
the rib running over the roof and down to the tail.
But if they are going to cull aging
dignified post war creations, perhaps I should be careful where I tread.
Somebody tells the truth
When I am sent details on a new car,
invariably there are figures for acceleration, top speed and CO2 emissions. Not
being a greenie or tree hugger myself, I am not interested, but I was interested
in the fact that Carlos Ghosn was backing me up.
He has said recently, “People in general,
95 percent of the people are not interested so much into the technology behind a
car, don’t care so much if it’s a diesel or gasoline engine, a hybrid, a plug-in
hybrid electric car, they don’t care so much about it. A consumer thinks about
the car, about functionality, design, status, brand, price, cost of ownership,
resale value. That’s it. They think about that and then, as long as the electric
car doesn’t fit this equation, it’s not going to become mass-marketed.
“I’m looking at the total cost of ownership
of the car… which means that people say, ‘Yes, sure, we want it, but it has to
be competitive, it has to fit our criteria’.”
Ghosn said Australia needs enticements from
government, similar to what the newly-formed Electric Vehicle Council is
proposing, for EV sales to really take off. (In fact, all EV manufacturers need
enticements for the car buying public.)
He continued, saying, “So here, in order to
be mass-marketed we need support from governments,” he said. “We need a
collaboration between the public sector and the private sector in order to bring
environmentally friendly products because there is another attribute also to the
“So it’s not going to be a consumer-driven
revolution. It has to be a technology and government-driven revolution.”
EV and hybrid sales in Australia make up
less than one percent of the overall market, which heavily favors petrol power
and diesel engines.
“Look at diesel,” he said. “In the United
States, zero percent of the cars are diesel. In Japan, zero percent of the cars
are diesel. In Europe, 50 percent of the cars are diesels, but the car
manufacturers are the same.
“Why? Because the European governments have
supported diesel for many years and that put a lot of incentive, but the
“Not that the consumer likes diesel or
doesn’t like diesel, he’s just looking, again, at price, total cost of
ownership, resale value, acceptability, etc., and he makes a decision. We need
to do the same thing for electric cars.
“It’s happening in China, it’s happening in
Japan, it’s happening in many countries and I think this is going to help us and
bring much more cost effective electric cars because the scale is going to
increase and with the scale changes a lot of things.”
Ghosn predicts that the changeover to EVs
is inevitable, spurred by stricter emissions and CO2 standards established by
the onset of climate change.
“I don’t think the revolution is going to
be done rapidly,” he said. “I think it’s going to take a lot of time, but the
main driver of the electric cars is going to be the emission.
“Many countries sign the planet change
pact. The planet change pact means that a lot of countries are going to have to
drastically reduce their emission.
“So no matter what the federal government
is going to do, we are all going to continue to develop the technology and the
product in order to fit the most demanding market.”
Ghosn said new EV technology is being
developed to lower the cost of entry, as well as eliminate range anxiety,
likening its progress to the evolution of the mobile phone. First released as a
bulky, heavy device, the mobile phone quickly evolved and shed many of its
shortcomings, “same thing is going to happen with electric cars,” Ghosn said.
A few weeks ago, the Automotive Focus Group
examined the Vera EV, designed by a Thai university consortium. At the time it
appeared that there was very little incentive to build the Vera EV here in
Last week I asked what sports car lost its
engine because the name was sold to another company. An easy one, It was the
Sunbeam Alpine with the Ford V8 engine. A sort of copycat idea inspired by the
Ford Cobra. Unfortunately, Sunbeam was bought out by the Chrysler Group who said
they couldn’t sell cars with the engine coming from Ford, one of their
competitors. Interestingly, the name Sunbeam Tiger was first used in a V12
Sunbeam in the 1920’s which topped 240 km/h to get the world Land Speed record.
So to this week. What car would Jay Leno, Paul Newman,
Weird Al Jankovic and Elvis Presley share?
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email
[email protected] or
[email protected]. Good luck!