Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Date: November 2010
Months in Fleet: 11 months
Current Mileage: 14,189 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 39 mpg
Range: 413 miles
Normal Wear: $0
In order to rack up the requisite 40,000 miles on a long-term test car in a reasonable amount of time?in a year or so, preferably before [...]
- 2010 Honda Insight – Long-Term Road Test Intro
- 2010 Honda Insight EX – Road Test
- 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 – Long-Term Road Test Update
Mark Webber, typically, cut to the chase when weighing up what could be the weekend of his life with a colleague.
"It's simple, mate," he said. "Put it on pole, then disappear!"
Webber would be champion, with no need for a last-lap shuffle from team-mate Sebastian Vettel, and Red Bull would have completed a deserved double entirely in keeping with chief technical officer Adrian Newey's magnificent RB6 design.
But little in this switchback season has been straightforward - particularly at Red Bull, where Vettel could have wrapped up the title some races ago had he had greater reliability.
Instead, he and his older team-mate find themselves chasing Alonso who, remember, was 47 points off the lead following the British Grand Prix in July.
"All the pressure is on Red Bull this weekend," according to one team manager with recent championship success. "And the biggest load is on Webber.
"He's not a young driver and you don't get many chances like this. Vettel will have many more days to challenge for the title. The team clearly back him."
"As for Fernando, he's been there already - twice."
Webber's outburst about his team's lack of driver equality before the last race in Brazil was interpreted by many as evidence that he's feeling the heat.
And those same observers viewed his quiet, reserved performance here in front of the world's media alongside his three rivals as another display of nerves.
Contrast his demeanour with Vettel's front row smiles, they were saying last night.
Consider Alonso's matter-of-fact handling of any barbed team orders related probing and Hamilton's back row cheeriness: "The guys in front of me have everything to lose, so for me I'm going to be flat out as always."
Hamilton's role could be a significant curve-ball if he can repeat his pole-winning lap of last year. But let's stay with Webber for the moment.
A one-time Jaguar official who worked with the Australian at the team and still works within Formula 1 gave me an interesting slant on his comments in Brazil.
"Mark seems to need to rev himself up, needs to feel he's got to fight something," my source said.
"He's a strong character and a good driver but for some reason he doesn't always show it unless he's gets himself wound up."
Will Webber keep his nerve in Abu Dhabi? Photo: Getty Images
The Aussie got the hump. But he also got the victory - fast and furious to the end.
That was in the middle of his purple patch which continued until the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of August, when he was second to Hamilton.
Webber has not been on pole since then, and has not won a race since Hungary, the grand prix before Spa. He has been out-qualified by his team-mate at the last five events.
He lost valuable points by crashing in Korea, where he also lost the lead in the championship - which he had held for the longest period of anyone this season - to the driver he rates the strongest on the grid, Alonso.
So it is easy to see why so many in the F1 paddock believe Webber faces the greatest challenge of all the contenders this weekend to fulfil an ambition that's been losing momentum at the wrong time.
Essentially, it's now or never.
Even Webber admitted on Thursday that age is against him to enjoy more opportunities like this.
Indeed, one leading driver manager even suggested to me that, whatever happened this weekend, Webber's position at Red Bull was untenable.
"If he's champion, he should get out at the top. If he doesn't win the title, then why would he want to be in a team where he feels his team-mate is being treated differently?" he said.
By contrast, the Alonso Fan Club nodded sagely at the Spaniard's cool fatalism yesterday.
"I will not have anything to be disappointed about in 2010," Alonso said.
"This first year of the relationship we are fighting for the world championship in the last race against two Red Bulls who are dominating by far in terms of speed so overall I don't think it matters on Sunday."
Make no mistake, Alonso and Ferrari will be going all out to win the title on Sunday, however much they make out it would be an unexpected bonus.
But this chance has been as much to do with Red Bull's fallibility as Ferrari's remarkable recovery from a desperate mid-season slump which was threatening to turn the screw on team principal Stefano Domenicali.
If anybody can drive to a title-winning script on Sunday to join a select club including previous three time winners like Ayrton Senna, Niki Lauda and Sir Jackie Stewart, it is Alonso.
He is the man in front, with the experience of his 2005 and 2006 triumphs, seemingly able to work out the points as effortlessly as the strategy.
Above all, he knows that his rivals all have to beat him on the track to have a chance of the 2010 championship, whereas he could do the job even if he failed to finish through a mistake or a breakdown.
Vettel, who must have nightmares about that engine failure when leading in Korea, has appeared like a man who will be driving more in hope than expectation of coming first or second to have any chance of becoming F1's youngest champion.
The prospect of waving through Webber has not fazed him because both of them know their first priority is getting ahead, and staying ahead of Alonso before any switch comes into the equation.
And that is where Lewis Hamilton fits in.
He accepts that he is clearly the outsider of the four contenders; 24 points off the lead, he's all but written off his chances
But if the McLaren performs like last year - extra straight-line speed from the F-duct instead of last year's Kers power boost - on Abu Dhabi's two big straights, the 2008 champion could be the joker in the championship pack.
Hamilton gave a hint of what might be in the offing with his pace in second practice, especially in the final sector where he was supreme.
Another McLaren pole position backed up by race reliability, and those carefully prepared championship permutations at Red Bull and Ferrari will be crucial props in a juggling act which could keep us guessing until the final lap of the final race of this momentous season.
Monday, November 29, 2010
The wreckage of Jochen Rindt's car at Barcelona
?Colin. I have been racing F1 for 5 years and I have made one mistake (I rammed Chris Amon in Clermont Ferrand) and I had one accident in Zandvoort due to gear selection failure otherwise I managed to stay out of trouble. This situation changed rapidly since I joined your team. ?Honestly your cars are so quick that we would still be competitive with a few extra pounds used to make the weakest parts stronger, on top of that I think you ought to spend some time checking what your different employes are doing, I sure the wishbones on the F2 car would have looked different. Please give my suggestions some thought, I can only drive a car in which I have some confidence, and I feel the point of no confidence is quite near.?A little more than a year later Rindt's Lotus suffered mechanical breakdown just before braking into one of the corners. He swerved violently to the left and crashed into a poorly-installed barrier, killing him instantly.
Christian Klein’s Ducati 350 Caf� Racer might be a work of art, and it’s certainly an example that you don’t have to make an elaborate motorcycle to make something visually stunning. Using a Ducati 350 Scrambler motor, Klein has ported and polished the single-cylinder lump, and then fabricated a custom steel frame to make his creation. Klein was meticulous in his construction, taking several years to perfect his machine. The attention to detail has paid ...
Researchers at the Naval Postgraduate School and the University of California, Santa Cruz may have found a new use for most drivers' worst nightmare. William Fox and John Vesecky have discovered that with a little tweaking, a run-of-the-mill radar gun can become an instrument for detecting suicide bombers. The duo found that at a specific frequency, the gun can pick up on patterns of looped wire typically used in bomber suicide vests. Testing is in the beginning stages right now, but thus far, the gun has been able to accurately pick out volunteers dressed in replica suicide vests 85 percent of the time at a distance of around 33 feet.
There are some hang-ups, though. Most noticeably, the gun yields a high rate of false alarms, with things like underwire bras and jewelry yielding the similar radar cross sections as a suicide vest. Both Fox and Vesecky are hoping that the U.S. Military will invest in their research, allowing them to fine-tune the device moving forward.
[Source: New Scientist via Engadget | Image: Matt Carty/Getty]Permalink | Email this | Comments
Busch dominated the event before winning by about a second over Kevin Harvick. Series champion Brad Keselowski was third, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne.
It was Busch's record-settiing 13th victory in the Nationwide series this year, and it clinched the owner's championship for Joe Gibbs Racing, even though Keselowski won the driver's title. Busch did not run in every race this year and thus did not compete for the driver's title.
"That says it all right there, boys!" Busch shouted on his radio as he took the checkered flag. "You guys are the stuff. I can't do it without you guys. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
"This is fun," he added while still circling the track. "This is what it is all about. I wish I had something for tomorrow, but we'll play with teammates tomorrow and try to get them one."
- 2011 Hyundai Elantra Official Photos and Info – Auto Shows
- 2011 Volvo S60 Priced at $38,550
- 2011 Kia Optima Priced from $19,690, $225 Less Than Hyundai Sonata
Richard Petty will once again run his race team and participate in day-to-day operations as chairman of the new ownership group that was announced Monday.
Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel celebrate with Red Bull boss Christian Horner on the podium
After the debacle at Donington, where an overly ambitious plan to raise 130 million Pounds Sterling to modify the track to host Formula One was launched shortly before the credit crunch sent the global economy on a downward spiral, it was feared that international motorcycle racing would never return to the Leicestershire track. The company that was running the track was basically penniless, parts of the track had been already dug up, and East Midlands airport, which sits at one end of the track, was eying the track for extra space to expand into.
But with the track lease now back in the hands of the Wheatcroft family, who own the circuit, things have turned around at Donington. The Midlands' circuit has been brought quickly back up to standard, hosting several local car and motorcycle events, and is now ready to make a return to the international stage. That will take place on March 27th, 2011, when the World Superbike series returns to Donington for the European round of the 13 weekend series. The Wheatcroft family and Infront Motor Sports signed an agreement which will see WSBK race at Donington for the 2011 season, giving the UK two rounds of World Superbikes, along with the Silverstone round on July 31st.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
"Driving at Monaco means nothing to me", said F1's top rookie after 2010's opening races.
What about the history and the tradition of one of the most famous races in the world?
"I don't feel anything about the history," he said.
I have to admit his answers left me lost for words. I have never come across anybody - driver, engineer, mechanic, journalist or fan - who was so dismissive and so detached about racing on the most renowned street circuit on the globe.
The Monaco Grand Prix was the first race which grabbed my attention and switched me on to F1. It was the one track, above all others, that I wanted to visit.
I remember being shocked by the prices but overwhelmed by the setting, the layout and the atmosphere, which never fail to inspire a return ticket.
Vitaly Petrov is focused on racing and has no time for the many distractions Monaco has to offer
Squeezed in between the jagged hills which rise so sharply and the harbour full of multi-million pound yachts on a shimmering Mediterranean sea, there appears barely enough space to park a car, never mind race 24 of them.
Yet part of the beauty of Monaco is how close to the action spectators can find themselves.
At some parts of the track, such as the sea-front chicane at the exit of the tunnel, you actually could reach out and touch the cars as they navigate the kerbs before blasting away towards Tabac corner and the spectacular Swimming Pool complex.
Rubens Barrichello has been both a racer and a resident here over the last two decades and he smiles when he recalls his first impressions of this most unlikely sporting location.
"I arrived in Monaco and was puzzled. I had to ask: 'Where's the track? I can't see it," the Brazilian said.
"I couldn't believe it when I was told I was standing on it. It looked so narrow. I thought: 'How could you ever go flat out round here?'"
"I took the whole of my first practice session to build up the confidence and the speed to do it."
Few would argue with the words of Barrichello's fellow Brazilian, Nelson Piquet, who memorably likened racing in Monaco "to riding a bicycle around your living room".
The tightest and shortest circuit on the calendar, it's the ultimate driving test around a layout which has hardly altered from the first race in 1929 - a world away from architect Hermann Tilke's new designs like Bahrain, Shanghai or that deluded Monaco wannabe, Valencia.
Consider the roll of past winners and you understand why Monaco is regarded as the premier driver's circuit.
Ayrton Senna's won six times, Michael Schumacher and Graham Hill five times, Alain Prost four times, with those knights of the road, Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart, both three-time winners and Juan Manuel Fangio twice.
Without their rarefied mix of concentration, confidence, consistency, courage and crucially talent, charging between the barriers at speeds of up to 170 mph can become an exercise in damage limitation.
The slightest deviation caused by one of the many bumps or markings on what are public roads for the rest of the year can wreck a car in an instant. And in a wet race, when a driver's skill is even more critical, the white lines are like marble.
"To be so close to the wall at such a speed, to have the flow of the track is extra special", said Schumacher this week.
"When you have big run-off areas, it allows this extra per cent in safety. Here, if you want to nail it, there is no margin for any little error whatsoever."
Drivers frequently say it becomes almost mesmerising to complete a lap in less than 80 seconds over a race distance of 78 laps, blinkered and hemmed in by steel barriers throughout.
Nobody who was here in 1988 will ever forget Ayrton Senna's extraordinary qualifying lap, almost one and a half seconds quicker than his McLaren team-mate, Prost.
"Suddenly it frightened me because I realised I was beyond my conscious understanding," Senna explained afterwards.
His crash into the barriers the next day when comfortably leading only added to the mystique of Monaco. The greatest battle for drivers in sight of the chequered flag can be with themselves, maintaining the pace and precision to complete a successful afternoon.
Senna's spellbinding duel with Nigel Mansell in 1992 (see highlights video below) also highlighted the elevated role of the driver and the importance of track position here.
Mansell's Williams was by some margin the fastest car but Senna's McLaren held him resolutely at bay over the final laps after the Englishman had to make an enforced pit stop. The Briton's last chance to win in Monaco had gone.
Jenson Button will tell you that nothing compares to qualifying here.
"It's a crazy circuit to drive but when you really hook up a good lap, it means more to you than anything else in Formula 1," he said.
With overtaking so limited, grid position is all, hence the drivers' concerns over back-markers in the first part of Saturday's session. Too far off the front row means too little chance of victory.
Races here can be processional but imagine yourself in the cockpit, and you can't fail to marvel at the driving skill on show.
Show. There's a word that's absolutely key to a Monaco weekend. Why else do Hollywood stars from the Cannes film festival, billionaire captains of industry, international footballers and top-selling musicians find themselves drawn to this principality?
Monaco is a place to be seen and a place to do deals as much as place to go racing.
F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has admitted: "They give us more than we give them."
But Monaco continues to revel as the sport's jewel in the crown and shows no sign of losing of its sparkle.
What finer place to celebrate this day, the 13 May, the 60th anniversary of the F1 world championship?
The ongoing struggles of Dale Earnhardt Jr. were not the sole reason for the sweeping changes made at Hendrick Motorsports.
Fernando Alonso will surely like [...]
The Ginetta G50 has so far been the star of the Ginetta GT Supercup, a one-make support series for the British Touring Car Championship. There's a brighter star on the way next year, though, when Ginetta introduces the G55. The new car will compete alongside the G50 in next year's races but in its own class and with separate a points system and podium ceremony.
To go along with its more aggressive looks and aero, the G55's Ford engine is 3.7 liters instead of the G50's 3.5, and it puts out 370 horsepower - 70 horses more than the G50. Other tweaks include beefier brakes front and back and a new exhaust. Current G50 owners can upgrade to the G55 for £25,000 ($39,219 U.S.), or privateers can buy the car new for £75,000 ($117,661 U.S.).
Ginetta's latest will be publicly unveiled at Autosport International on January 13 in Birmingham, England. Follow the jump for the press release, and get a couple of glimpses in the gallery of images below.
Gallery: Ginetta G55
[Source: Ginetta]Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments
Ferrari may have claimed victory in their FIA team orders hearing this week in Paris but another triumph on the track at Monza this weekend is absolutely critical to their championship ambitions.
Fernando Alonso, who was at the centre of the storm over Ferrari's tactics at the German Grand Prix, cannot afford another pointless race like the one he endured
in Belgium a fortnight ago, when he failed to finish after crashing in the closing stages.
Alonso, the team and the famous Ferrari fans - the tifosi - all know that the Spaniard's title dream demands fresh impetus at their home circuit, where the spotlight always shines more severely and more expectantly on them.
What was a 20-point deficit on the leading championship driver before the race at Spa has now more than doubled - and another failure to bag a big points haul here could spell the end of Alonso's challenge for the year.
Alonso and Ferrari can draw hope from the new points system, with 25 points for a win, which means that 150 points are still up for grabs over the final six races.
But his problems in qualifying and during the race in Belgium showed how quickly a driver can drop out of contention.
Ferrari have admitted that their overall performance there failed to live up to expectations, and claim that they've found the answers.
The only proof of that, however, will be in Sunday's results.
And if after this race the gap between Alonso and the leader has climbed to more than 50 points (the equivalent of two race wins), those final five long-haul grands prix, where Red Bull's drivers are expecting to dominate, could become a disheartening slog into November.
On the positive side, if there's one man on the grid with the expertise and experience to take the fight to the front, it's Alonso.
Confident of the team's backing, he can demonstrate supreme race-craft. He can read the race brilliantly from the cockpit, understanding what he needs to do to make the most of his opportunities.
Significantly, he's taken the road to the championship twice already so knows the pressures and pitfalls, as well as the rewards.
And he's with a team who possess an enviable range and depth of resources to deliver the maximum performance. Maybe not as effectively as McLaren, who made a much better recovery last season than Ferrari, but impressive nonetheless.
The downside to the season, however, has been the number of mistakes by Alonso himself.
Even the Spaniard has admitted he's surprised by his errors, particularly the crash he had in practice in Monaco which ruled him out of qualifying.
Ferrari had promised to deliver a big performance that weekend. He'd been consistently fastest until his accident which left him playing catch-up from the back of the grid in the race.
His jump-start in China was also most uncharacteristic.
He appeared to be caught napping when Jenson Button overtook him in Canada, and when Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi did the same thing in Valencia.
Alonso's drive-through penalty at Silverstone for cutting a corner when overtaking Robert Kubica's Renault could have been avoided if he'd only handed back the place as the regulations demand.
And the way his performance dropped off in Spa from qualifying onwards was most un-Alonso-like. He blamed the tyre choice in the final part of the session - yet both Button and Lewis Hamilton improved their times on the same softer tyre, whereas Alonso
stayed 10th, more than a second slower than team-mate Felipe Massa.
At times this season Alonso has seemed at odds with the F10 car, fearing that Ferrari were drifting out of contention.
Red Bull's dramatic advantage at the Spanish Grand Prix certainly rang alarm bells. Ferrari's version of the F-duct initially made the car slower not faster, and possibly contributed to him over-driving at Monaco.
The new blown diffuser in Valencia and the new front wing at Silverstone re-ignited the spark but until the German Grand Prix, where the furore over team orders completely obscured their team's winning performance, the improvements weren't reflected in the results.
It's as if Alonso knows the car is still not as quick as Red Bull's RB6 and is attempting to compensate by pushing it to, and possibly over, its limits - and even his talent can't bridge the gap.
One of the Ferrari's great strengths, though, is its braking performance. That was shown at the chicanes at the Canadian Grand Prix and it'll be crucial at the three chicanes at Monza.
The car also responds well through medium-speed corners such as the two Lesmos, so there is renewed optimism within Maranello that the tifosi will be seeing red near the front of the grid this weekend.
But for all the teams, getting the best out of Monza depends on finding the right balance between low downforce and high straight-line speed.
With no pre-race testing these days, it's a major challenge for the engineers. Do they run the usual Monza specific rear wings, or is there a speed advantage with the F-duct system and a slightly higher downforce setting?
Highlights from second practice at Monza
For example, in second practice, Hamilton's car ran with a conventional Monza set-up without the F-duct aerodynamic device, while Button's car continued with the F-duct. Their best times were less than 0.06secs apart, within 0.4secs of a second of Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull.
Both Ferrari drivers, meanwhile, tested two different rear wings - both 'blown' by the F-duct - and now have to weigh up which provides the more efficient balance. Alonso edged Massa by just more than 0.1secs as the second and third fastest cars.
It left Alonso with a positive verdict for the weekend ahead.
"We are confident, we are happy with the job today", he said after practice. "We know McLaren are favourites for pole and we've seen the potential of the Red Bull all season.
"It will be difficult but we are there, we have nothing to fear and we will fight."
The forecast is for a dry weekend so that eliminates the weather variables which so damaged Alonso's last race outing.
Winning the Italian Grand Prix in a Ferrari ranks as one of motorsport's finest jewels.
Doing it first time out at Monza for Formula 1's most famous name, as Alonso needs to do, would be a spectacular re-launch into the title battle.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
As valuable as 20 mph speed limits would be, for some New Yorkers they’d be dead letter law. Take, for example, the scofflaw motorists whom a team of fourth graders caught speeding [...]
The Essen Motorshow may be just around the corner, but some tuners have opted to move on from the German tuning extravaganza to prepare themselves for the next auto show on the list: The 2011 Geneva Motor Show. Lumma Design and Shaston are just two of these tuners as they will be headed to Geneva to unveil their newly tuned BMW 760Li.
Lumma and Shaston have come together to provide a new tuning package for the long wheel-based BMW to give it a more aggressive look. This was accomplished by an exterior package containing a new front that integrates grid inserts, fog lights, and LED daytime running lights. An exclusive lower suspension setting drops the longer legged luxury sedan while the new wheel arch extensions, special set of deep door-sills, and the new rear diffuser add to the sharper look of the vehicle.
The whole appearance of the BMW 760li is completed by genuine carbon/Kevlar covering the exterior mirror caps, kidney front grille frame, all door handle covers, the boot lid trim, the four-piece pillar trim set for doors, and the mud guards. The entire package is finished by 20" light alloy rims.
There is still no word as to whether or not there have been any changes to the BMW’s direct injected TwinPower Turbo V12, but we think the power output of 544 HP and 553 lb-ft of torque should be enough for most. Guess we’ll find out in Geneva.
Press release after the jump.
Could Alonso be stripped of his German Grand Prix win?
?With Alonso trailing Lewis Hamilton by 41 points after failing to score in Spa last time out, perhaps the powers-that-be would prefer not to dock him a further 25 points and, in all likelihood, remove him from the championship race. A deduction of the team points accrued in Germany and a suspended ban is considered more likely.?Richard Williams of the Guardian said the only sensible thing to do would be to abolish the unworkable team orders rule that flew in the face of over 100 years of motorsport history.
"Proceedings could be dominated by Formula One's usual political machinations, or by an outbreak of common sense. The latter would see Mosley's unworkable law being erased as swiftly as it was so foolishly imposed."Meanwhile, 1996 champion Damon Hill has told the Daily Telegraph that he thought the WMSC would be unwise to strip Alonso of his points entirely.
"Flexing their muscles because they can is not necessarily wise. I don't think a punishment that big would fit this particular crime."Source: http://blogs.espnf1.com/paperroundf1/archives/2010/09/judgement_day_looms_for_ferrar.php
This week’s Conti is brought to you from California instead of Europe?I?m on the West Coast as [...]
- The Continental: News from GM and Opel, Tata and Jaguar Get Serious, My Favorite Porsche, and What’s Coming to Paris
- The Continental: Mercedes Prototype-Spotting, New Ranger for Everyone Else, and Some Thoughts on Lincoln
- The Continental: Infiniti Goes Forward, Porsche Under Watch, and We See the Light
- Rick Hendrick: No plans to split Dale Earnhardt Jr., crew chief Lance McGrew HAMPTON, Ga. ...
- Jeff Gordon and Alan Gustafson are the big winners in the personnel shake-up at Hendrick Motorsports HMS Swaps Crew Chiefs Hendrick Motorsports will swap crew...
- NASCAR: Hendrick reshuffles crew chiefs Hendrick reshuffles crew chiefs By Diego Mejia Wednesday, November 24th...
I've been watching grand prix racing since before World War II and I can honestly say I have never seen a season with more excitement, drama and intrigue than 2010. This is my review of the year in which Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull team really came of age.
Harley-Davidson isn't exactly known for innovation. While the majority of players in the motorcycle world tend to push the envelope of performance and technology, The Motor Company has historically taken a different approach to its lineup of heavyweight motorcycles. In place of traction control and electronically adjustable suspension setups, H-D focuses on chrome, paint, tradition and... more chrome.
Nowhere is that strategy more evident than the yearly crop of models from its Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) unit, which has proven to be a rather successful way to entice buyers into its highest priced wares. As such, we shouldn't expect any major adjustments to the basic way of thinking that's proven itself time and time again from the brain-trust in Milwaukee.
That said, there are some meaningful updates for the 2011 model year that we were interested in seeing and hearing, so we saddled ourselves up on each of the four new CVO bikes in beautiful Lake Tahoe for some good ol' fashioned riding impressions. Kick back, throw on your very best leather chaps and read on, Harley fans.
Photos copyright (C)2010 Nelson and RilesPermalink | Email this | Comments