What did we learn from the Monaco GP?
The simple answer is ‘not much’. The
Monaco circuit remains anything but the ‘jewel in the crown’
of F1. If motor sport is all about drivers passing and
repassing each other (called “racing”), then you don’t get
any of that at Monaco.
What you do get is ‘nouveau riche’ parading around in their
Gucci’s and Prado’s enjoying their tax free money, making
sure they are seen, whilst all the time hiding from their
own country’s taxation systems. Sorry, but that is not what
I want to see at 7 p.m. on a Sunday night. Perhaps Bernie,
bless his silver locks, should try running it at night to
produce another glittering and totally boring spectacle like
that apology for a Grand Prix called Singapore.
Monaco produced another of the wins by the pole sitter,
though with all credit to Button in his Brawn GP, he was
never challenged at any stage. It was not a case of rivals
being unable to pass, they were never ever close enough to
try. Button is looking very strong in the championship for
Current world champion, Lewis Hamilton, is looking anything
but a champion. His rapid rise to stardom and an equally
speedy fall seems to have eroded his confidence so much, he
is now making mistakes. World champions are not supposed to
hit the barriers. World champions are also able to find
their way past other drivers. Hamilton started at the rear
of the field after crashing in Qualifying. He struggled to
finish in 12th place, only getting up the order after six
drivers crashed out in front of him. The comparison to
Michael Schumacher must be made. In 2006, Schumacher was
relegated to the rear of the field at Monaco after it was
decided that he had deliberately blocked Alonso in
qualifying. During the race he fought his way up to 5th at
the flag. Say no more.
Barichello in the other Brawn GP drove well to make it a 1-2
for his team, but even he must now admit that his place is
Ferrari is back, with strong showings from Laughing Boy Kimi
and Massa, holding out the fast finishing Webber in the Red
Bull. Wunderkinder Vettel blotted his copybook for once, but
he is still on a learning curve. He’ll bounce back next
meeting, even though his car did not at Monaco!
The crashing trio of Piquet (Renault), Kovalainen (McLaren)
and Nakajima (Williams) did not disappoint. They crashed out
as usual. Quite honestly if young Nelsinho in the Renault
did not have a famous F1 father, he wouldn’t be there. And
he won’t be when the money runs out! Kovalainen continues to
under-perform, while Nakajima is fast and very reliable - he
can reliably be expected to finish in the safety fence.
While the FIA insists on a cap on spending, Toyota’s results
at the bottom of the Monaco field show that it doesn’t
matter. The big spend has not brought Toyota a win. It also
did not make Honda a front runner. Let the teams spend
whatever they like, as the money always trickles down to the
pockets of the general public, the key to global financial
BMW is also in more bother than Flash Gordon. Team Poppadum
showing them the way is not what the German giant expected.
And with the other German car manufacturer showing the world
that it is they who are with Brawn GP, this must be doubly
galling. Do not be surprised if BMW and Toyota do not line
up next year.
The next meeting is June 7 in Turkey.
100 mpg with a hybrid
At the largest annual gathering of electric
vehicle experts, US company Bright Automotive unveiled the
world’s first purpose-built 100 mpg (2.3 l/100 km) vehicle
aimed at commercial and government fleets. Named the IDEA,
the multi-use vehicle falls into the light truck
classification. Bright Automotive (www.brightautomotive.
com) plans to produce 50,000 IDEAs annually by 2013,
providing businesses and government agencies with a highly
durable, cost-effective and eco-friendly new vehicle, and
creating thousands of jobs. At the event, Bright Automotive
displayed a fully operating concept version of the vehicle.
“We created the IDEA by starting with a clean sheet of
paper, listening to customer needs, and using breakthrough
technologies and materials,” said John E. Waters, CEO and
president of Bright Automotive. “The IDEA not only delivers
revolutionary efficiency, it offers a lower cost of
ownership than competing vehicles. Quite simply, no other
automotive product is available that directly saves
customers money and affects their triple bottom line:
economics, people, and sustainability.”
Indiana-based Bright Automotive said the IDEA will be 5 to
10 times more efficient than current commercial fleets. The
vehicle will save a typical customer more than 1,500 gallons
of gasoline and thousands of dollars in fuel costs annually.
For the 100 largest fleets in the U.S., each having on
average over 1,000 vehicles like the IDEA in their fleet,
the savings would average over $3 million a year.
To achieve groundbreaking fuel efficiency, Bright Automotive
is building the IDEA from the ground-up and maximizing
platform efficiency by incorporating lightweight materials,
advanced aerodynamics and low-rolling resistance tires. On a
full charge, the IDEA uses battery power for the first 50
km, using little or no gasoline and less than $1 of
electricity. After this, it functions like other hybrids.
High volume production of the IDEA will begin in the U.S. by
the end of 2012 - with an annual run rate of 50,000 units
beginning in 2013. To produce its vehicle, the company plans
to create over 5,000 jobs - directly and through suppliers -
Last week I asked what did the radiator
badge of the Packard look like? A trick question, I’m
afraid. The Packards never had a radiator badge!
So to this week. What and when was the first private car
designed and built in the USSR?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email firstname.lastname@example.org
Money’s tight at
Not even a world record price of $12 million paid
for a 250 Testa Rossa could inspire buyers to forget the
global-economic crisis at the Leggione e Passione auction at
the home of Ferrari, Maranello in Italy, with 11 of the
high-profile cars failing to reach their reserve prices.
This did result in a few bargains, including an ex-Alain
Prost 641/2 Formula One car which sold for €320,000, an
alloy-bodied 1966 275 GTB for €725,000 and a 1985 288 GTO
breaking $12 million Ferrari
Daimler Benz buys into
Another nail in the petroleum coffin (and one
skyscraper less in Dubai?), as Daimler Benz buys 10 percent
of Tesla, the American high performance electric car
This will show the world that the Tesla
is not just high performance hype, but is a real and viable
automotive group. With the sports car already on sale, and a
four door coupe (Tesla S) slated for release in 2012, with a
touted 500 km range and a plug-in recharge, Daimler can see
the advantages in getting in with the advanced technology
used by Tesla.
The Tesla sports is capable of exceeding 320 km on one
charge of its lithium-ion batteries (Tesla claims it will do
nearly 400 km on a charge), but also blasts from zero to 60
mph (97 kph) in 3.9 seconds, true supercar times.
Tesla CEO and Product Architect Elon Musk said, “We are
looking forward to a strategic cooperation in a number of
areas including leveraging Daimler’s engineering, production
and supply chain expertise. This will accelerate bringing
our Tesla Model S to production and ensure that it is a
superlative vehicle on all levels.”
What is happening with
What indeed! If Ferrari, Renault, Toyota and Red
Bull do not sign up with the FIA by today (29th May), then
they are (theoretically) out of the F1 competition for 2010.
The impasse arose because at the end of April, the FIA (read
Max Mosley) foisted a two tier formula on the teams, with a
very much “like it or lump it” approach. The manufacturers
returned with a “we don’t like it, you dump it” reply.
In a nutshell, the FIA said that if teams limit their budget
to $60 million cap, then those teams can have unlimited
engines, freedom to have moveable wings, unlimited wind
tunnel use, more powerful KERS and unlimited testing. Teams
which opt not to be budget capped are banned from in-season
testing, no moveable wings, limit on number of engines and a
less powerful KERS system.
In other words this produces a two tier formula. And if F1
is the pinnacle of motor sport and engineering brilliance,
just how can there be two different (pinnacles?) categories
running under the one classification?
What does this mean? In cricketing terms it means that the
high budget team is only allowed to field eight men, whilst
the capped team can field 13 men. In other words, a farcical
To radically change the regulations in the formula should
result after discussions with FOTA (Formula One Teams
Association) over a period and consensus be reached. This
has not happened. Ferrari then tried to question the FIA’s
ability to ride rough-shod over the teams in the French
courts. Unfortunately for Ferrari, the French courts didn’t
see it their way and denied the injunction, giving Max the
Max is now saying he doesn’t care if Ferrari doesn’t sign up
for 2010, as he has other teams (Wirth Research, Lola, USF1,
Epsilon Euskadi, RML, Formtech, Campos, iSport) all wanting
to come in with the $60 million cap. Most of these new teams
with a swag with $60 million have no history in F1 and to
expect them to be immediately competitive is like living in
fairy land. It costs more than $60 million to build and man
a wind tunnel, so their budget cap is gone already. The
freedoms described in the budget cap sound good, until you
work out that they cannot afford to build, test and use
It smacks of last year’s attempt to make the sport look
“green” and saving the planet’s environment by having green
grooves in the tyres! This new budget cap, in the name of
saving the planet’s money, is more than faintly ridiculous.
If the manufacturers want to throw money at their teams,
then so be it. It does not necessarily mean to say they will
win. Look at Honda with its $400 million a year, for
example. Toyota and Renault have already said they are
tightening their belts as the parent company slides into the
red. And the biggest spender Ferrari has had the worst start
to a season since Benito Mussolini decided to take a trip to
Switzerland in 1945.
The next couple of weeks will be interesting.
For sale: Honda NSX ’92 model;
Porsche 964 with 993 cabrio body ’94 model;
Lamborghini Diablo booked as ’97. Very sensible
prices. Contact Tony Thorley 089 938 7188.