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Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

September 22, 2018 - September 28, 2018

Thinking ahead

I was sent a link dealing with some amazing statistics around the Ford Motor Company’s production in the early 1900’s. Too much information to download on to these pages, but well worth five minutes of your time to open up the item. I hope this works! Copy and paste the following link: _Circa_19172-rfh1.pdf

What did we learn from Singapore?

Well, we learned (if we didn’t know already) that Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes provided an unbeatable situation. Pole position by three tenths of a second, putting him at the front of the pack as the grid raced down to the first corner. And front of the pack had him clear of a squabbling Vettel (Ferrari) and Verstappen (Red Bull) and well clear of Perez (Force India or Force Canada) who shoved his team mate Ocon into the wall, resulting in a Safety Car session.

At the re-start, Hamilton just ran away from Vettel and Verstappen who kept in position until lap 14 when Vettel was the first to change tyres taking another soft option. That was not the best decision from the pit wall as both Hamilton and Verstappen took on more durable rubber, with the Red Bull driver passing Vettel to settle into second place.

From there on, the Singapore GP showed it should stick with promoting gigs as the Formula 1 race was boring. Fourth placed Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) for the race saying, “There was not a whole lot happening in the race.” Right on, Valtteri.

Unfortunately this could be predicted before the lights went out for the start. Street circuits, so beloved by new owners Liberty Media, do not make for good racing. Too many walls and not even enough straights to allow the use of the artificial DRS. The result of all that was endless high speed processions.

Now factor in the ridiculous design of the current F1 vehicles which rely so much upon the aerodynamics of the vehicle (I jyb at calling them “cars”) that they cannot get too close to the vehicle in front because this makes for instability in the slip stream. This is referred to as “dirty air” when in actual fact it is more correctly called “dirty vehicle aerodynamics”.

Three other reasons for the processional nature of the Grand Prix came courtesy of drivers Sergey Sirotkin (Williams), Romaine Grosjean (Haas) and Sergio Perez (Force Somewhere). Yes the same Perez who fenced his team mate Ocon. With Sirotkin at the head of the mid-field pack proved impossible to pass until the Mexican Perez used his vehicle as a ram, puncturing his own left rear tyre and collecting a drive through penalty, but the Russian continued to enter a jousting tournament with Grosjean. Cut and thrust, never mind the blue flags (11 of them) this pair of buffoons continued fighting with Hamilton the race leader trying to lap them and losing all his advantage. Grosjean picked up a time penalty for ignoring the blue flags. He was lucky it wasn’t a knuckle sandwich.

F1 has to sparkle up its offering to the fans. More on-track action and better venues are needed. Urgently.


1 L Hamilton Mercedes

2 M Verstappen Red Bull

3 S Vettel Ferrari

4 V Bottas Mercedes

5 K Raikkonen Ferrari

6 D Ricciardo Red Bull

7 F Alonso McLaren

8 C Sainz Renault

9 C Leclerc

10 N Hulkenberg Renault

11 M Ericsson Sauber

12 S Vandoorne McLaren

13 P Gasly Toro Rosso

14 L Stroll Williams

15 R Grosjean Haas

16 S Perez Force India

17 B Hartley Toro Rosso

18 K Magnussen Haas

19 S Sirotkin (two laps down)


E Ocon Force India

The next GP is from Russia September 30 with the Thai telecast at 6.10 p.m.

Sandy Stuvik eyes another Pole Position in Shanghai

Sandy leads the field.

After a fourth round filled with ups and downs at the mountainous Fuji Speedway, the Thai driver Sandy Stuvik is looking forward to the next round of the Blancpain GT Series Asia Championship which will be held on the 22nd to 23rd of September at the Shanghai F1 Circuit. Last year Sandy set the Pole Position time in the Lamborghini Huracan GT3, and the Thai driver is looking to repeat that feat this year in the Porsche 911 GT3 R. Furthermore, as the season is starting to move into the colder months, both Craft Bamboo Racing and Sandy Stuvik are quietly confident about their chances around the state-of-the-art circuit.

Sandy will once again be reuniting his partnership with Australian driver Shae Davies. “The goal for the Shanghai round will be to get as many points as we can in both the races, and try to improve our overall standing in the championship”, Sandy says.

“The Shanghai circuit is one that I have many good memories from, since I first drove there in 2010 in Asian Formula Renault. I’ve had some good races there so it is a circuit I always look forward to on the calendar. I believe we can be competitive here and I’ve also got a hopeful eye on the weather, as I think it may just boost our chances.” Sandy explains.

Sandy is supported by The Pizza Company, Singha Corporation, Dacon Inspection Services, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Thai Airways, ThaiWings Travel Agency, the Sports Authority of Thailand, and the Royal Automobile Association of Thailand

The all-electric car gets even closer to your car port


10 years ago I foretold the advent of the all-electric future. I suggested this would be a ‘plug-in’ where you just plug it into the mains grid to recharge overnight. The only problem stopping the universal adapting of this concept has been the short life of the batteries.

Now remember when mobile phones first became available. The damn thing fitted into a suitcase, and you had to be Don Athaldo to be strong enough to carry it. Now the whole smart shooting match fits into your shirt pocket.

The electric concept has been well used by specialty manufacturers, especially Chinese such as BYD. In fact, the taxi service at Suvarnabhumi are all electric and built by BYD.

However, mainstream manufacturers are now offering electric as well as internal combustion, such as BMW. The i8 is for sale today, not some dream in the future.

10 years ago I said that I firmly believed this would be the way we would be going. Those people who think that hydrogen is the answer will have to work out how to get hydrogen to the mass market, and who is going to pay for the reticulation system. With plug-ins, the refueling system is as far away as the power plug on the wall!

Polaris« RZR unveils the gnarliest four-seater ever - Meet the RZR« XP 4 Turbo S

Minneapolis - (Business Wire)- Sep 13, 2018 - Polaris« unveiled a significant upgrade to its nastiest and most aggressive RZR« XP Turbo S with the introduction of the four-seat model. While the initial RZR XP Turbo S set new standards in nearly every measurable category, the all-new machine takes it one step further, becoming the first-ever four-seat off-road monster to boast a 72-inch stance, 32-inch standard tires, exclusive DYNAMIX™ Active Suspension and 16-inch ground clearance to devour virtually everything in its path.

“The launch of the Turbo S platform was met with overwhelming excitement from our consumers, we knew the next step was to make it available in a four-seat model,” Chris Musso, president of Off-Road Vehicles, Polaris. “As a result, we effectively raised the bar again, setting the standard in 72-inch side-by-side performance.”

Polaris pushed the limits of engineering when designing the RZR XP 4 Turbo S. From a reinforced chassis to bigger, stronger axles, Polaris incorporated significant performance upgrades and strengthened nearly every component of the machine. The all-new isolated front drive features three times higher impact strength, while the ROPS, control and trailing arms, and radius rods help handle the extreme force produced by this beast of a machine.

These efforts helped make it possible to engineer the industry’s first-ever side-by-side vehicle to come stock with 32-inch tires. Delivering an industry-best 16 inches of ground clearance, the massive 32-inch tires are also 249 percent more resistant to punctures than the competition. The combination of a flickable wheelbase and massive tires produces a machine that is extremely agile, yet capable of smashing though the toughest terrain with the ease of a trophy-truck.

The RZR XP 4 Turbo S was designed with extreme performance capabilities in mind. With 25 percent more assist in power steering and better steering feel at high speeds, the RZR XP 4 Turbo S keeps the driver focused on effortlessly maneuvering through the terrain, not on forcing the wheel. Recalibrated aggressive throttle mapping gives the driver better and more immediate throttle control and the redesigned clutch box allows for better air flow and decreased belt temperatures.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that Dr. Porsche’s peoples car was one of the success stories of the automotive world, though it was not the Germans who made it so successful. I wanted to know, what was the car’s original name and who developed the car? It was Kraft durch Freude (German for Strength through Joy), abbreviated to KdF and this became Volkswagen. It was the British Army that got the factory up and running after the war, this being done to employ German workers.

So to this week. Duesenberg, Mercedes and Ducati all had something in common. What was it?

Be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected] . And in addition, if you are a Pattaya resident, the closest correct answer will win a free voucher for Casa Pascal’s Breakfast BBQ. One local resident wrote back to say he had enjoyed the Casa Pascal BBQ brunch and went so far as to say it is the best breakfast in Thailand. Good luck!.

September 15, 2018 - September 21, 2018

Singapore Grand Prix this weekend

I have to admit I am not a great advocate for Singapore’s GP. Why? Because it is no longer a pukka motor race, it is an entertainment venue with a car race thrown in to give the entertainment some kind of raison d’etre.

And just who will be there to entertain you? From the Singapore GP website, you are going to get, The Killers, Liam Gallagher, Martin Garrix, Dua Lipa, Simply Red, The Sugarhill Gang, Joe Hahn of Linkin Park, End of the World, aka Sekai Noowari, Young Fathers, Sampa The Great and Bj÷rn Again. And how many of those have you ever heard of? Or am I just a dinosaur these days?

Back to the racing (what it is supposed to be about). Will Ferrari find even more horsepower? Will The Finger make more mistakes? Will there be any last minute DCM’s (Don’t Come Monday) to change the driver pool? Looking at it dispassionately, the WDC is Vettel’s to lose and thus gifting it to Hamilton. We will all know by Sunday night.

The marketplace is certainly in a state of flux with newer drivers replacing new drivers and some very old drivers and owners of older teams changing. It will be an interesting three months ahead.

The latest driver change is at McLaren where British whizz kid Lando Norris (currently second in F2) to take over from Vandoorne who has just not made the grade against Alonso.

Monagasgue Charles Leclerc who has done well in the Sauber team in his first year in F1 is reputedly going to Ferrari, so where does Kimi Raikkonen go? Or what about Grosjean? Once the bŕte noir on the grid, he has done fairly well this year, but he’s been in F1 for about 10 years, so has reached retirement age.

Yee Hah! Ride ‘em cowboy! Mustang is coming to town


Yes, the genuine, factory fresh pony car is to be sold out of Ford dealerships come October. There has been a handful of ‘Stangs rumbling around our streets recently, but these all landed here via the ‘grey market’. Cars brought into Thailand this way tend to have problems with import tax as well as eligibility for warranties and other such paper warfare.

The news of the Mustangs lining up at the docks comes from Ford Thailand, which will give them two hot properties – the Ranger Raptor and the Mustang to attract punters to the 19 dealerships which will be handling these vehicles.

Ford Thailand has announced that both models come with the Performance Pack consisting of limited-slip differential, 19 inch wheels and Brembo brakes.

There will be a choice of two engines, with the smaller being the 2.3-liter Ecoboost rated at 290 BHP and the 5.0 liter V8 rated at 450 BHP.

Both engines use the 10-speed automatic transmission with the drive going to the rear wheels.

We are led to believe that pricing will be 3.6 million baht for the four cylinder which is just a smidgeon more than secondhand grey market vehicles and 4.8 million for the V8.

Looking into the future 10 years ago. How accurate?


Nissan OneOne

An interesting exercise was done in 2007, asking the manufacturers to show just where their cars would be in 2057.

Motoring had already taken some incredible leaps forward in the last 50 years. In 1957, who would have predicted that computers would dominate the automotive technology? Traction control, skid control and stability control. Variable valve timing electronically. Drive by wire, including electric steering. Airbags that deploy in an accident. 50 years ago people would have laughed if you had suggested it, but asking them to imagine what the next 50 years would hold!

In 2057 Audi envisions a hydrogen-powered vehicle that combines artificial intelligence with avenues of self-expression as it can change its external shape. This is obviously the ideal bank robber’s car for 2057!

GM’s effort was very imaginative. Much like the self-regulating traffic system found in the ant, nature’s best commuter, vehicle-to-vehicle communication and intelligence would allow GM’s ANT to act independently yet communicate with other vehicles to optimize traffic flow. All body panels are connected with electro-active polymer actuators, allowing reconfiguration of body panels, depending on their optimal street use. Another vehicle that will change its shape.

Honda’s entry presented a solar-hybrid powered Honda that allows carpoolers to take advantage of commuter lanes, share commuting costs and once near the individual passenger’s final destinations, splits from one to four separate and unique transportation modules. This takes the changing shape bodywork to another level, allowing metamorphosis into four from one.

The Mazda Motonari RX uses an ‘energy form’ that non-invasively integrates the driver with the vehicle making each indistinguishable from the other allowing the driver to experience the road psycho-somatically, receiving electrical stimulation to specific muscle groups. Four omni-directional wheels allow 360 degree movement.

The Mercedes-Benz SilverFlow utilized micro-metallic particles that could be arranged via magnetic fields in many different forms. This is similar to Audi’s idea of changing exterior shapes. The vehicle can also be completely dissembled into a mass of ferromagnetic material for easy storage, and can adapt and transform its shape to best suit its required purpose. (Transformers movie fore-runner?)

Nissan OneOne was a little R2D2, because Nissan predicts that by 2057 robots will have become an integral part of our lives. OneOne (pronounced “won-won”) was tomorrow’s live-in maid, driver and gardener, retrieving dry cleaning and groceries, tending to the children and guided by a real time GPS network.

Toyota predicted that due to limited ground space (especially in Japan!), vertical architectures have caused the transportation industry to create new pathways that also explore vertical space. The vehicle is powered by pollution with electronic dynamic driving instincts and structural adaptations to accommodate the user’s need for space.

By 2057, VW believes the urban area will have become unimaginably dense and the roadways have reached the point of total saturation. Volkswagen’s solution is an advanced autonomous vehicle that dynamically adapts to minimize its footprint in the city and its drag coefficient on the highways. The skin of the vehicle is made of hyper-efficient solar panels that power the vehicle.

Despite the fact that the different designers from Audi, GM, Honda, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen were all working independently, there were some distinct common themes among the submitted designs. Taking the ‘most likely’ scenarios, the car of tomorrow will have omni-directional wheels, and a body shape that will adapt to the environment (and the whim of the driver). Electromagnetic energy will be used, and it may be solar extracted.

The first 10 year future projection does not predict the quantum shift to electric power but does mention autonomous vehicles. Robotic information is expected and much of AI (Artificial Intelligence) will be incorporated in tomorrow’s vehicles.

The next 10 year projection will be interesting as the e revolution continues to unfold.

Dems the brakes

British EBC Brakes.

I was in contact with Gavin Charlesworth, the local distributor for EBC brake systems and we were discussing the effect of the weather on your car’s braking systems.

With the heavy rains recently we have had our fair share of wet and slippery roads. The sealed sections of Siam Country Club Road being classic examples, with mud being strewn all over the place. (The unsealed sections have pot holes so deep there is Venezuelan music coming out of some of them, but that’s another story.)

These slippery conditions have caught out a few drivers and tail-enders have become rather common place. When braking in these kind of conditions you should remember that as soon as the front wheels lock up you have lost all decent retardation and all steering correction. A sliding wheel does not respond to the influences of directional forces and is only under the straight line effect of momentum. You can twirl the steering wheel as much as you like, you just go straight on.

The answer is to take your foot off the brake pedal to unlock the brakes then progressively pump the brake pedal up to the point of locking up then release and repeat the sequence. This is called cadence braking and is what ABS systems do for you if your car is fitted with it. Practice on a bit of dirt one day and it might just save you some trouble and expense in the future when you can steer your way out of trouble.

Incidentally, I use EBC brakes on the Retro Escort I race. You can contact Gavin at [email protected] .

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked: what is the fastest wheel-driven car at present? Over 1,000 BHP and a road car! There’s a few claiming around 1,000 horses but the one I think is most close to this is the Hennessey Venom GT.

So to this week. Dr. Porsche’s people’s car was one of the success stories of the automotive world, though it was not the Germans who made it so successful. I want to know, what was the car’s original name and who developed the car?

Be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected] . And in addition, if you are a Pattaya resident, the closest correct answer will win a free voucher for Casa Pascal’s Breakfast BBQ. One local resident wrote back to say he had enjoyed the Casa Pascal BBQ brunch and went so far as to say it is the best breakfast in Thailand. Good luck!

September 8, 2018 - September 14, 2018

From the sublime to the Gor blime!

DiDia 150.

If you are old enough to sing “Splish, Splash, I was taking a bath …” you are old enough to remember it was sung by pop singer Bobby Darin.

Born in the Bronx 1936 – he survived several bouts of rheumatic fever leaving him with a damaged heart. Later found out his “mother” was actually his grand-mother and his sister was really his true mother.

Darin was a fairly lost soul, who married Sandra Dee in 1960 and divorced her in 1967 saying he “didn’t want to be married anymore.” (There’s commitment for you.)

He had heart valve surgery in 1971 and died 1973 following open heart surgery. Married Andrea Joy Yeager for 5 months June-Oct that year.

Darin met a clothing designer Andrew Di Dia in 1957. The clothing designer penned a car he called the Di Dia 150, and Darin staked a claim to the car if he ever made it big on the music circuit.

For seven years, from 1953 to 1960 the Di Dia 150 was hand-built by four workers, at a cost of $93,647.29 but was sold to Darin in 1961 at a cost of over $150,000 (1.5 million today). 

At the time the car was listed as most expensive 'custom-made' car in the world by the Guinness Book of Records.

Built in Detroit, Michigan, clothing designer Andrew 'Andy' Di Dia designed this "unrestrained and unconventional" automobile. Its metallic red paint was made with 30 coats of ground diamonds for sparkle. Only one example was ever built.

It has a front engine, rear-wheel drive, the body and chassis is hand-formed from 064 aluminum with a 125-inch wheelbase alloy tube frame.

It has a glass cockpit in back, a squared steering wheel and thermostatically controlled air conditioning system. The design included the first backseat-mounted radio speakers and hidden windshield wipers that started automatically when it rained. Each of the four bucket seats have their own thermostatically controlled air conditioning. (Remember this was 1960.)

Darin drove his wife, Sandra Dee, in the car to the 34th Academy Awards in 1961. The car had two fans and a switch that you had to turn on for cooling. Bobby didn't realize, so it overheated. All the magazines said the car caught fire but it didn't.

Di Dia toured the car around the country, when Darin wasn't using it for public appearances. After publicity and film use, Darin donated his "Dream Car" to the St Louis Museum of Transportation in 1970 where it remains.

How is the BMW iSeries looking?

BMW i8.

Better accept the fact that one day you will be in an electric car. Forget about hybrids, the extra engine won’t be needed, that engine is there to make the owner relax and forget about “range anxiety”. Most electric only power vehicles have ranges around 160 kays already, and how many current drivers travel more than 160 kays between power points?

The in the UK has looked at the i3 experience and reported “The BMW i3 launched in 2013, making it one of the world’s first mass-produced pure electric vehicles. A truly eco-friendly car from manufacture to disposal, BMW says it is 95 percent recyclable and made using 100 percent energy from renewable sources. It’s not all about the green credentials though. There’s also the luxury and lure of the premium German brand, and great driving dynamics, helped by near-perfect 50:50 weight distribution.

 “Expect to achieve between 120-160 kilos from a full charge, depending which drive mode you select. If you suffer from range anxiety, and your budget will stretch, models with a range extender engine can go for around 300 km. As with any used purchase, but perhaps even more so in the fledgling used EV market, do your own history check to find out exactly what you’re getting into.” The i8 in Thailand is available as a new car but you are looking at nudging 13 million baht for the pleasure of going 100 percent electric.

Raptor goes to Europe

Ranger Raptor.

Ford of Europe has confirmed it will next year launch the Australian-developed but built in Thailand Ranger Raptor, a “bad-ass” performance pick-up using the same 2.0-liter EcoBlue diesel engine sold Down Under.

Previously only sold in Asia-Pacific markets, such as Australia and Thailand, the opening up of Ranger Raptor sales in Europe inches the model closer towards its rumored availability in North America, where it is expected to instead use an EcoBoost petrol engine, possibly the 2.7-liter V6.

The Ranger Raptor’s twin-turbocharged EcoBlue unit has been the subject of much debate since the model was shown, with Ford Asia Pacific last month forced to defend its suitability as a performance vehicle.

Specifically, it produces 157 kW of power at 3750 rpm and 500 Nm of torque from 1750 to 2000 rpm, while drive is sent part-time to all four wheels via a dual-range transfer case and a 10-speed torque-convertor automatic transmission with magnesium paddle shifters. (Another fine example of PR Speak. Who cares what the paddle shifters are made from.)

This gives the Raptor performance figures of zero to 100 kays in 10.5 seconds, with the 2404 kg Raptor a top speed of 170 km/h.

While the Asia Pacific-market Ranger Raptor is built in Thailand, the European-market version will be produced in South Africa, where it will also be sold. The regular Ranger has been Europe’s best-selling pick-up since 2015.

According to Ford Performance director of Europe Leo Roeks, the Ranger Raptor will offer a new level of off-road performance for European buyers when it enters showrooms in 2019. 

“Forget everything you think you know about pick-ups,” he said, “Our new Ranger Raptor is a different breed – a thoroughbred desert racer and extreme lifestyle off-roader that can toil with the best of them in the harshest of working conditions.

“The new Ranger Raptor delivers all the tools a thrill-seeker could ask for. Like a motocross bike, snowmobile and an ATV in one – it’s the ultimate adventure pick-up.”

As previously reported, Ford Australia currently holds about 1000 Ranger Raptor pre-orders, which it hopes to deliver by Christmas. The model officially launches in Australia in October.

What did we learn from Monza?

Well, we learned that once again Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) has not learned the lessons regarding the first lap – you never win the race on the first lap, you only lose the race on the first lap, which he did. Very successfully. Vettel will lose the world championship and hand the title to Hamilton (Mercedes) if he doesn’t learn the lessons soon enough.

We also learned that Herr Vettel is becoming a moaning Vettel, ready to blame everyone else, while Kimi Raikkonen just carries on to the best of his undoubted ability and does not get into the blame game. Kimi even apologized to the Tifosi for not winning. From the Ice Man that is true humility. The same could not be said for one of the others on the podium.

The wonder cloggie (Verstappen) once more showed his immaturity after being given a five second time penalty for giving Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) a helping hand into the shrubbery, resulting in a string of expletives. He followed that with the following radio messages. “Team radio to Max: You are racing Vettel and not Bottas.” Max: “I know that, but I don't care.” So much for the “team spirit.” He is very talented, and (hopefully) will mature one day.

More and more, Grands Prix are won or lost in the stewards room. Take for example, the disqualification of Romain Grosjean at Monza. The official take of all this began with a protest by Renault about Grosjean’s car. “The stewards of the meeting have requested, that the technical delegate inspects the floor of car number 08, driver Romain Grosjean, for compliance with Article 3.7.1 d) of the 2018 Formula One Technical Regulations in relation to clarification given in TD/033-18 published on 25 July 2018.” The crime? Not having a 50 mm radius on the corners of the leading edge of the floor. Shame on Renault and shame on the stewards for accepting the protest.

Another ridiculous bunch of rules refer to the use of engines. Use more than three and you are relegated to the rear of the grid. In the halcyon days of Jim Clark the mechanics were cannibalizing cars and engines just to make the grid. It didn’t spoil the races and didn’t need Article 3.7.1 d) of the 2018 Formula One Technical Regulations. Unfortunately, Liberty Media does not understand F1 well enough and is too weak to scrap all the aero and the DRS while they are at it.

Magnussen (Haas) was still whinging after the race, claiming that Alonso was “disrespectful” to him. The other user of the “disrespectful” button is Hamilton. Magnussen, Hamilton, Vettel. What a bunch of sissies we have as drivers these days.

So to the racing and Vettel’s first lap spin. Attacked by Hamilton, Kimi showed his mettle and fought for first on the road. Close but fair.

Vettel, Hulkenberg (Renault) and Ricciardo ploughed through the field from the back, with some exciting moves; however, it was the edge of the seat suspense of would Kimi managed to hold on. He tried, but the tyres let him down.

The next GP is at Singapore September 16 in the middle of a cast of singing budgies with a race meeting thrown in as well.


1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes

2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari

3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes

4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari

5 Max Verstappen Red Bull

6 Esteban Ocon Force India

7 Sergio Perez Force India

8 Carlos Sainz Renault

9 Lance Stroll Williams

10 Sergey Sirotkin

11 Charles Leclerc Sauber

12 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren

13 Nico Hulkenberg Renault

14 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso

15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber

16 Kevin Magnussen Haas


Romain Grosjean Haas disqualified

Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull clutch

Fernando Alonso McLaren Another failure to proceed

Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso accident

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what was notable about the Chevrolet 1911 Series C Classic Six? This was easy – it was the first use of the Chevrolet nameplate.

So to this week. Speed runs are always interesting. What is the fastest wheel-driven car at present? Over 1,000 BHP and a road car! What is it?

Be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected] . And in addition, if you are a Pattaya resident, the closest correct answer will win a free voucher for Casa Pascal’s Breakfast BBQ. One local resident wrote back to say he had enjoyed the Casa Pascal BBQ brunch and went so far as to say it is the best breakfast in Thailand. Good luck!

September 1, 2018 - September 7, 2018

Italian GP this weekend


The GP circus moves to Italy, the home of Ferrari and the Tifosi. Let us hope that Monza will give us some real racing as well, and hopefully the rest of the fields will be nearer to the Mercedes duo. And with a bit of luck Vettel (formerly known as The Finger) will have got over his paddy.

Monza is another driver’s circuit; however, like many other circuits, Monza has not been a single layout, but a series of more than a dozen layouts which have ranged in length from 2.4 km to 9 km.

The circuit was opened in the Monza Royal Park, near Milan, in 1922 and featured bankings, though these were demolished in 1939. The bankings which featured in some races, 1955-69, were new structures built on the format of the original. Bankings were used for the Italian GP in 1955, ‘56, ‘60 and ‘61, and were last used for racing of any form in 1969 when the concrete became in need of substantial resurfacing and rebuilding.

The 1971 Italian GP holds the record for the fastest-ever Formula One race but, emphatically, that is not the same as saying the fastest race for Grand Prix cars. That honor remains in the possession of the 1937 Avusrennen with Rosemeyer in the Auto Union recording a 276 km/h lap (that’s about 165 mph).

After 1971, the circuit underwent some revisions to discourage slipstreaming and to lower the average lap speed. Chicanes were added in 1976 and, in 1994, the second Lesmo Bend was tightened and the Curve Grande was re-profiled.

The World Championship which Vettel has his eye on, is not a 100 percent surety and is still quite open, with eight more GPs after this one. We can expect that the main protagonists will still be trying very hard, in particular Alonso, racing in front of the passionate Ferrari fans. We will be watching from our perches at Jameson’s Irish Pub (Soi AR, next to Nova Park) and the racing commences at 8.10 p.m., but join us around 7 p.m. for dinner and drinks (I do recommend the Sunday roast specials), and a chat before the race begins at 8.10 p.m. We watch on the giant screen, through an HD channel.

What did we learn from the GP at Spa?

The Belgian 2018 GP was, after the first lap, a bore.

Here we are with 20 of the claimed world’s best drivers and 25 percent of them crash on the first lap. At the first corner of the first lap. You never win the race at the first corner – you only lose the race at the first corner.

As the gaggle approached the first corner, Hulkenberg (Renault) totally misjudged his braking, slamming into Alonso (McLaren) who then flew over Leclerc (Sauber), running into Ricciardo (Red Bull) who then ran into Raikkonen (Ferrari). Again I say, these are the world’s best drivers?

For the 15 drivers left, Vettel (Ferrari) won as he liked, leaving Hamilton (Mercedes) in his wake. Third went to the wonder cloggie Verstappen (Red Bull).

The rest were part of a high speed procession where even the last man running (Vandoorne McLaren) said, “I think the race in general was quite boring for everyone, there wasn’t much overtaking and for us there were no miracles today.”

Mr. Vandoorne, I have never met you, but at least you are honest.

The next GP is at Monza September 2. Let us hope for something a little less soporific.

Mercedes-Benz built winners before Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes W 125.

Pre-war Grand Prix racing was the playground of Mercedes and Auto-Union and whatever was left was picked up by Alfa Romeo.

1936 had belonged to Auto Union and especially their brilliant young driver Bernd Rosemeyer.

The Mercedes W25 was showing its age and Mercedes decided to temporarily withdraw from competition to reorganize their racing department. Rudolf Uhlenhaut was appointed Technical Director of the Rennabteilung, or racing department that would work between the Design Office and the Team Manager, Alfred Neubauer. Uhlenhaut was 30 years old at the time and decided that the only way for him to fully understand the problems with the Grand Prix Cars was to drive them himself. Soon he was lapping the Nurburgring at times just below the drivers. Grand Prix racing was different in those days as the cars were tested and re-tested constantly prior to the race meeting.

Once the cars arrived at the race meeting they were rarely changed and the weekend was used to familiarize the drivers with the track and local conditions. Uhlenhaut would be in charge of all racing development until they came to the track where Neubauer would handle race strategy. The most successful partnership in the history of motor racing had begun.

While testing the W25 Uhlenhaut found the chassis too weak and the springs to stiff! There was very little movement of the axle against the frame. On one occasion he lost a rear wheel on the straight at top speed. The car continued on as if nothing happened! He would later remark that “it was like driving a motorcycle with a sidecar!” The new car for the 1937 season would be based on the lessons learned during this test period. Intense testing of the car took place at Monza due to bad weather back in Germany. The car was driven for nearly 1,500 miles without any serious problems.

The W125 is considered a development of the W25 and so it should but the changes that Uhlenhaut made had a profound effect. The suspension was completely redesigned with the idea of providing softer front suspension than at the rear while keeping the driving wheels upright and at right angles to the road. The supercharger was modified to suck air through the carburetor rather than push the air in. The old system was called the Druckvergasermotor or pressure-carburetor engine while the new system was called the Saugvergasermotor or suction-carburetor engine. Capacity was also increased to 5.66 liters.

From there the car won its first race with Lang driving. For the Avusrennen a mix of cars were entered and Lang again won but the season went to Caracciola and with it another European Championship.

Today’s racers probably do not know that Herr Neubauer ‘invented’ pit signals as in one race in the rain, Caracciola was way in front and Neubauer wanted him to slow down, Caracciola on the other hand thought he was behind the others so pressed on regardless. And pit signal boards were used thereafter.

Of course, with electronic monitoring today the pit was can tell if their driver has passed wind. I’m not sure that Alfred N would approve taking his pit boards to that extreme.

However, I just hope that Mr. Hamilton understands the heritage involved in the Mercedes-Benz racing department.

Brabham BT 62

Brabhan BT 62.

We went from Cars to Supercars, to Hypercars to Ultra cars and now Damn Well Totally Manic cars with the news of the resurrection of the Brabham name in the Brabham BT 62.

The Brabham BT62 is a mid-engined track day car produced by Anglo-Australian car manufacturer Brabham Automotive. It was introduced this year with deliveries expected to start at the end of 2018. A planned production of only 70 cars is intended (in honor of the company’s 70 year heritage in racing in PR-Speak).

When Jack Brabham was the world champion, the cars had the prefix BT which stood for Brabham and his partner Ron Tauranac, so they are doing the same with this ridiculous car, even though Sir Jack is long gone to the racetrack in the sky, and Ron is 93.

The BT62 is powered by a mid-mounted 5.4-liter naturally-aspirated V8 engine that is based on a Ford V8 I believe. The engine has been extensively modified and produces 515 kW (691 hp; 700 PS) at 7,400 rpm and 492 lb ft (667 Nm) of torque at 6,200 rpm, giving it a power-to-weight ratio of 653 hp per ton. Power goes to the rear wheels through a six-speed Australian designed Holinger sequential-shift racing transmission controlled by steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, and stopping is handled by carbon-to-carbon brakes, with carbon pads actuated by six pistons acting on carbon rotors.

The chassis of the BT62 uses what Brabham calls a ‘tubular metallic architecture’ and the body features lightweight carbon fibre body panels, as well as carbon-kevlar wheel housings, to give the car a dry weight of 2,142 lbs (972 kg). The car has a full fixed aero package as an option that includes a front splitter, rear diffuser and large rear wing, that are all made from carbon fiber and together are capable of producing 2,645 lbs (1,200 kg) of downforce. The suspension uses a double wishbone setup in the front and rear and features pushrod actuated four-way adjustable Íhlins dampers and adjustable anti-roll bars. The wheels are 18 inch center locking units and use Michelin racing slicks.

The interior is relatively sparse as the BT62 is built for track day driving and features FIA-spec carbon fiber seat shells, a six-point harness, Alcantara trim, leather door pulls, an adjustable pedal box, a carbon fiber dashboard, a 12-inch digital gauge cluster, a removable carbon fiber steering wheel and a fire extinguisher.

(More PR speak) - Brabham intends to produce 70 cars to celebrate the 70 years since the company founder Sir Jack Brabham launched his racing career in Australia in 1948. The first 35 cars will be finished in the corresponding liveries of Brabham’s 35 Grand Prix winning cars, while the rest will be finished to the owner’s specifications. The BT62 has a retail price of around US$1.4 million (around GBú1 million at current exchange rates). The price includes admission into the Brabham driver development program, which offers personalized driver coaching sessions to help the owners make the most of their cars on the track.

Road Legal Conversions - Although the BT62 in standard form is not road legal, Brabham says that they will offer a service to convert the car to be road legal. They say the work will be carried out in the U.K., and that’s also where the car will be registered after going through an IVA (Independent Vehicle Assessment). International buyers will supposedly still be able to carry out the procedure and be able to drive the car in other countries by having the car shipped back to the U.K. once every 12 months to Brabham for an annual service in order to comply with registration laws. Brabham says they will pay for shipping costs back and forth for the first two years you own your BT62.

So there you are, a useless piece of pseudo history which will extract USD 1.4 million from your bank account. But don’t worry if you haven’t got it all in loose change – you can buy it on the drip at a mere 16,000 GBP per month. With that easy finance, I think I’ll have two of them.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what famous name in motor sport ended up on a bank note. And what was the denomination? Clue remember the Irish punt. (Rhymes with bank manager.) It was John Boyd Dunlop on the 10 pound Irish banknote.

So to this week. What was notable about the Chevrolet 1911 Series C Classic Six?

Be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected] . And in addition, if you are a Pattaya resident, the closest correct answer will win a free voucher for Casa Pascal’s Breakfast BBQ. One local resident wrote back to say he had enjoyed the Casa Pascal BBQ brunch and went so far as to say it is the best breakfast in Thailand. Good luck!

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Brabham BT 62

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