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 Bridgestone!

So who will win the championship? Looks like it will go to the wire in Japan on the 12th of October.

Mazda-Mazda, Zoom-Zoom

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.

Mazda MX5

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.

Mazda RX-8

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.

Autotrivia Quiz

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]

Good luck!

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 Wilson

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 nice.”