Current World F1 Championship standings
1. M Schumacher Ferrari 71
2. Montoya WilliamsF1 65
3. Raikkonen McLaren 62
4. R Schumacher Williams F1 53
5. Barrichello Ferrari 49
6. Alonso Renault 44
7. Coulthard McLaren 41
All of the above drivers have a theoretical chance
at bringing home the title. There are four events left (40 points),
and we have seen drivers have to sit out several races through injury
in the past. Looking at the list, however, Montoya and Raikkonen are
the main challengers to Michael Schumacher. Ralf Schumacher remains an
outside chance, but he also could block Montoya’s efforts - we shall
have to wait and see if Williams will enforce team orders (which in
theory do not exist!). Both Raikkonen and Montoya have the pace to run
with Schumacher, and have been showing the Ferraris the way over the
past few races. They are also both on Michelin tyres which appear to
have the upper hand at present. There will be some sleepless nights at
So who will win the championship? Looks like it
will go to the wire in Japan on the 12th of October.
With several sectors of the auto market looking
over their shoulders, one company that appears to be looking ahead is
Mazda, with their Zoom-Zoom slogan. Some of the indicators that show
that Mazda is doing fine, thank you, include the sales of the Mazda
Tribute in Thailand, far exceeding the expected sales figures. This
SUV has clocked up sales of around 800 units in the first six months
of this year, in an already very crowded market.
In the very small sports car segment, the MX-5 is
still defying the odds by continuing to score well, and now being the
world’s most popular sports car it is still selling well in this
country, despite a price ticket of close to 2 million baht. Having
owned an MX-5 in Australia for a couple of years, I have to say that I
was delighted with it and I racked up 100,000 km of trouble free, and
very enjoyable motoring.
The RX-8 four place sports coupe has been getting
rave reviews throughout the world, and our Down-Under correspondent,
John Weinthal will be getting one to test very shortly and we will
give you his Weinthal words of wisdom. We looked closely at this
vehicle at the Bangkok International Motor Show this year, and in the
metal, it is stunning. Contemporary reports have the RX-8 putting down
performance figures as 6.2 seconds for zero to 100 clicks and a top
whack of a smidgin under 240 kays. I am very much looking forward to
John’s extended testing of this car.
In the small family sedan slot, the 323 Protege has
also been selling well, with 324 out the door in the first five months
of this year. All in all, it’s looking very Zoom-Zoom for Mazda.
Last week I asked who remembered the ‘Hurgs’ (HRG’s)?
These quaint little sports cars even won their class at Le Mans in 1939. The
owner of the company that produced HRG’s was a chap by the name of H.R.
Godfrey, but his initials (HRG) did not give birth to the initials HRG used for
the cars. I asked where did the initials HRG come from? The answer was from the
names of the people who collaborated in the design of the cars, E.A. Halford,
Guy A. Robins and H.R. Godfrey himself.
So to this week. There was an engine that was used to garner
several world speed records. It was a 24 litre 12 cylinder engine, with the
cylinders arranged in three banks of four, known as a ‘broad arrow’
configuration. I want to know the engine, the car it was in, and the driver. Now
that shouldn’t be too difficult for all the web crawlers to find.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected]
F1 - Toyota stick with their driver pairing for 2004
In a complete turn-around from their dumping of both their
drivers in 2002 (Salo and McNish), Toyota are continuing with their 2003
signings into 2004. This is a good move, as Olivier Panis and Christiano da
Matta look comfortable in the cars, and da Matta is definitely improving after
what was a fairly shaky start. While still being shown up in qualifying by the
older Frenchman Panis, the two cars are now running nose to tail during the
races and reliability has improved too. Expect Toyota to continue to climb up
the field during 2004. Toyota is not in the game to come 6th. And they have
enough money to buy the technology they need.
What’s coming from BMW
The new 5 series is out in Europe and will be heading this
way in the next few months. Overseas reports are generally of the rave/praise
variety, and the new styling is not as love or loathe as the Chris Bangle 7
series (though I must admit that I am getting used to the tail end treatment,
having had a good look at the new 7 series on a visit to the BMW plant on the
Eastern Seaboard recently).
The new car has a new tricky steering, where the ratio alters
depending on speed and the amount of tiller you are applying. This alters the
steering ration to anything between 1.7 turns lock to lock to up to 3 turns.
According to those who have driven the car overseas, it works very well, with
plenty of ‘feel’ still coming back through the steering wheel. The
suspension is all full of electro-trickery as well, with even adjustable sway
bars front and rear.
The engines range from the in-line 6’s to the 4.5 litre V8
as well as a turbo-diesel version. Another rumour is a road-going V10 engine for
the BMW M5 version. Not an F1 engine as per the BMW Williams, but a specially
designed 5 litre road engine to power the 5 series performance model.
Performance figures of 0-100 clicks in 4.5 seconds are being quoted for this yet
to be released variant. That is quicker than all the Porsche’s other than the
GT2. Now that’s the sort of BMW that I would like to have.
There is also the X3 on the way, the baby brother to the X5.
This is reputedly a 4WD SUV style of vehicle. Power comes from a 2.5 litre six,
a 3 litre six or a turbo diesel option as well. These are mated to 6 speed
manual transmissions or 5 speed auto.
Justin Wilson, Jaguar’s new boy
With Pizzonia having been given the DCM (Don’t Come Monday)
from Jaguar, it is time to reveal a little information on Justin Wilson, the
driver who has taken his place.
Justin is another F1 driver that began his career in Karts,
making his race debut in 1988 at the age of eight. His next major move was to
the Formula Vauxhall Junior Winter Series where he won the first round and
became the first 16 year old to win a real ‘motor race’.
The following year he won the Formula Vauxhall Junior
Challenge Cup, was a finalist in the McLaren Autosport BRDC Driver of the Year
Award and was awarded the BRDC Chris Bristow Trophy, for the most promising
driver to race on the Silverstone National Circuit.
At this point he was snapped up by the highly successful Paul
Stewart Racing team with whom he finished second in the Formula Vauxhall
Championship with one win, five seconds and two pole positions. In 1997 he
remained with PSR, again competing in the Formula Vauxhall Championship, coming
fourth, while scoring three wins.
In 1998, Justin went to the brand new Formula Palmer Audi
Championship. This he won convincingly, taking nine wins from seventeen races.
Again he was a finalist in the McLaren Autosport BRDC Driver of the Year Award.
For the next three years he moved to Formula 3000 and
dominated the 2001 season winning the inaugural race at Interlagos and two other
races together with six seconds and a third. He also scored the most ever points
in the F3000 Championship.
In the 2002 season, there were no F1 drives available, so he
went to the inaugural Telefonica World Series by Nissan, and gave champion, and
former F1 star, Ricardo Zonta a good run for his money.
One of the problems for Justin Wilson was his height, being
too tall at 6 foot 3 to fit into most F1 cars. However, there was a place at
Minardi, but he had to fund his way into it. This he did by selling “shares”
in his future, and his share issue sold out, allowing him to join Minardi.
After half the 2003 season he had caught the eye of someone
at Jaguar and now he has been given the opportunity to show what he can do
alongside Jaguar regular Mark Webber. Justin Wilson has now got a good middle
order car at his disposal in the Jaguar, and his 2004 season will depend upon
how well he does against the established Webber.
Hungarian GP this weekend
Motor racing in Hungary has been part of the country’s
culture for almost 100 years, with the first Hungarian GP in 1906. The first GP
in Budapest was held in 1926. The current Hungaroring circuit opened in 1986 and
attracted an estimated 200,000 spectators. The circuit is not a fast one and is
described by Pedro de la Rosa as, “This is a very ‘Mickey Mouse’ track,
and definitely one of the slowest in the championship. It also has low grip and
is more like a karting circuit than a Grand Prix circuit, but it is still quite