Vol. I No. 3 Saturday 9 November - 15 November 2002
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Automania

After all the shouting is over - the Eff Wun 2002 season

So what did we learn from the 2002 season? Well, if you hadn’t gathered, the Ferrari Team was totally dominant. Their drivers came first and second in the Drivers Championship with Michael Schumacher being the only man on every podium for the year and the team won the Constructors Championship with more points than the rest put together. The media proclaimed that Eff Wun had become boring because one team and its number one driver won everything - and they were right - up to a point.

So the Eff Wun head honchos, Messrs Ecclestone and Mosely came up with all sorts of crazy horse ideas to make the “show” more interesting. Like make the drivers rotate through the different teams. In this way you could have Michael Schumacher in a Minardi, for example. Could he then win from there? The answer is not difficult to predict - no, he would not win. Put the best guy in the slowest car and he’ll still be down the back of the grid. But this is cloud cuckoo land. Are Marlboro going to pay 30 million big ones to see Michael Schumacher racing at the tail of the field? Of course not. A dead-set stupid concept from the so-called “brains” of the Eff Wun business.

Another of their ideas was weight penalties. After all, it works in horse racing, so why not in car racing? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out that you let your competitor win the three rounds leading up to the finale and he will have so much weight to carry they’ll have to fit a tow bar and dog trailer to carry it all. Another totally impractical situation.

Another lulu suggestion is that teams are only allowed to use one engine for the whole weekend. If that were the case there would be a number of ‘no-shows’ on the Sunday, after all the Saturday explosions! This idea is a great way to make sure there are not enough cars on the race grid. From where do the legislators get these crazy ideas?

Polls taken throughout the world, by web sites such as pitpass.com (best F1 website), show that the average punter out there has a much better concept of what’s right and wrong with F1, than the legislators.

Stop Driver Aids is the first call. Why should the Ross Brawns of this world (Ferrari’s pit-wall technician) be able to get read-outs from the cars as they race and artificially reset the rev limiter from the pits? Surely it would be better to see M. Schumacher and Co change their own gears? For that matter, it would be nice to see the world’s most overpaid parking jockeys have to get the cars off the line themselves, control the lack of traction slides themselves and read their own instruments. With the pit-wall technicians, it is more and more like electric slot car racing every day.

The other aspect that the race watchers want to see is a reduction in aerodynamic grip and more reliance on mechanical grip. Get rid of the giant advertising hoardings (aka wings) and let the driver control the car in the corners, be able to pull out of the slipstream without getting the car upset by “dirty” air, and do something that has not been seen for some time - it’s called “passing”.

While talking about wings, one interesting proposal was to keep the wings the same size, since they are adverts, but turn them the other way up. In this way, the faster the driver went, the more “lift” he would generate. Only the brave (foolhardy) would attempt Monza at full noise!

One other interesting proposal was that in pit stops, the driver should change his own wheels. Instead of 10 second pit stops, 10 minutes would be the order of the day! It certainly would keep them out of pit lane, as well as put the small army of pit lane mechanics out of a job. One wag has suggested that this be done with a side lift scissor jack, using the fold-up bent wire handle as supplied by most manufacturers.

Ah well, we shall see what has eventuated by 9th March next year when the Aussie Grand Prix kicks off the new season. Another Ferrari cake-walk?

What the FIA and the F1 race teams did agree upon!

Here, in plain language, is what came out of the meeting. Remember, these proposals are to make the “racing” more exciting!

Firstly Qualifying will be done as one car at a time for one flying lap. Fridays will be used to give the order for the Qualifying flying lap on the Saturday. The fastest from Friday goes last for the timed run for the grid positions on Saturday. (The final runner has the advantage of most rubber on the track.) OK, this does mean that the fastest guy will not necessarily be on pole.

World Championship points - from 2003 points will be awarded down to 8th place on the scale 10:8:6:5:4:3:2:1 (previously to 6th place on the scale 10:6:4:3:2:1). This will still do nothing to make the racing more interesting, in my book.

Team orders - team orders which interfere with the race result are prohibited. A step in the right direction, but impossible to police. All the team has to do is bring the other driver in and have a “long” pit stop.

Tyres - each team get its own choice of two different dry tyres at each meeting, rather than the same selection for all teams. I doubt if this will do much, to be perfectly frank.

So it’s back to the same thing - can the other teams get their act together and challenge Ferrari? I hope so!

Chopstix GP confirmed

FIA President Max Mosley has confirmed that China will host a round of the Formula One World Championship from 2004 to 2010. The race will be held at the ‘Shang’ circuit in Shanghai. Work on the new ฃ170M ($244m), Herman Tilke designed circuit, which will accommodate 200,000 race fans, will begin almost immediately and Mosely was on hand to turn the first sod. “It has been my ambition since becoming FIA President, that Formula 1 should have a home in the world’s largest nation,” said Mosley in a wonderful display of asslicking.

With China and Bahrain now definitely included on the 2004 calendar it remains to be seen which other races will be dropped, though it’s widely believed that San Marino will be the ‘victim’ of the sport’s move east.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what is this car? Seen in Chiang Mai, the “after market” radiator fan looks like a bit of overkill, especially as overheating is not a usual winter problem in the north. And the answer was (opens the envelope) - a Daihatsu! Well at least that’s what the bonnet insignia said!

So to this week. Who is the driver? Clue - he was British. You are getting no more, some of you are just too good with the www search engines.

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to fax 038 427 596 or email automania @Chiangmai-mail.com

Good luck!

Ford’s GT40 gets 40 inches lopped off

The ‘new’ Ford GT40 has been in the news, but first, a little GT40 history. In 1963 Henry Ford II tried to buy Ferrari, but was unsuccessful, so he decided that FoMoCo should build a Le Mans winner themselves. This Ford car which eventually won the Le Mans 24 hour race in June 1966, with a crushing 1-2-3 victory, was called the GT40, because it was 40 inches high. (My claim to fame - I have sat in the Le Mans winning GT40 at the London Motor Show.)

Now an absolute cult car, the GT40 has been copied by small build manufacturers all over the world, in a similar way to the Lotus Super 7 and the Ford (AC) Cobra. When FoMoCo needed a ‘retro’ look ‘hero’ vehicle, to boost the company’s image, it was decided that they would release a new, but very similar looking GT40. This was done with much fanfare of trumpets at the Detroit motor show in January this year, with the Ford stand full of GT40 (new) memorabilia while they unveiled the concept car, and Ford distributed metal replicas of the car’s knock-off wheel hub, emblazoned with a GT40 logo.

However, with interest running so high, FoMoCo decided it would build a production run of GT40’s and this is where things got sticky. Apparently, thirty years ago, nobody at Ford bothered to register the GT40 as a trademark. However, the trademark problem actually began in 1985, when Safir Engineering Ltd. of Surrey, England, bought the rights to the GT40 name. The company closed in 1999 and transferred the trademark and rights to produce and sell replacement parts for the cars to Safir GT40 Spares.

Ford knew this and negotiated limited rights to use the name for the Detroit show, thinking it would be a simple matter to extend those rights to the production run. But that was not so, as Safir GT40 Spares now said that it would set Ford back $40 million to call this new vehicle a GT40!

The Safir people were expecting the world’s number 2 automaker to come back with an offer and negotiations would take place. But this was not to be and Ford just changed its marketing plans and are calling the new car the Ford GT.

40 inches were just not worth $40 million. Just shows what greed can do! Mind you, if anyone wants to buy the rights to the name of my Automania column, I am open to offers.


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