The Japanese GP at Suzuka showed that when they
needed to, Ferrari can bring the rabbits out of the hat. To ensure
Michael Schumacher’s claim to a record breaking 6th championship
they needed either Schumi in 8th place or stop Raikkonen in the
McLaren-Mercedes from winning. They did both, with Barichello taking
line honours, while Raikkonen could only come a distant second, and
after an action-packed race Michael Schumacher claimed the final point
with his 8th position.
Whilst Raikkonen was still in with a chance until
Barichello actually crossed the line in first place, he was always
going to be the long shot. However, he did well and drove with his
head. He may not have become world champ in 2003, but at least he’s
not world chump like his team mate David Coulthard, who spends every
off season telling anyone who will stand still long enough to listen,
that this next season is HIS year. He then spends the next few GP’s
showing everyone why it isn’t HIS year!
The demise of Montoya’s BMW Williams F1 and the
revolving driving of Schumi Junior to finish out of the points, also
ensured another Constructors Championship for Ferrari, their 5th in a
So is Michael Schumacher the best in the world -
ever? I am afraid it is too difficult to compare the new 6 times world
champ with the 5 timer, Juan Manuel Fangio of almost 50 years ago. To
his credit, Michael Schumacher also says that he should not be
compared with the legendary Fangio.
They were indeed different times. The circuits were
much more dangerous and the cars likewise. The races took around 3
hours, compared to the hour and a half today. And, I believe, the
drivers then had bigger cojones than the majority of the overpaid
jockeys of today.
All that you can say is that Michael Schumacher and
Ferrari are the class act of modern F1. Head and shoulders above the
rest. While the books will show that Schumacher finished the year on
93 points and Raikkonen on 91, those 2 points difference do not give
the real story. Schumacher had 6 wins to Raikkonen’s 1. Schumacher
set 5 poles to Raikkonen’s 2, and Schumacher set 5 fastest laps
during the races to Raikkonen’s 3. Raikkonen’s day may be coming,
but not yet!
Jaguar has been having some tempestuous times in
the past couple of years. ‘New’ master, Ford Motor Company has
told Jaguar it has to perform, both on the race track in Eff Wun, and
also in the showrooms. It appears that in both regards, the company
has had mixed results.
week, our down-under correspondent John Weinthal had his backside in
one of the new, all-alloy Jaguars. Here is his report.
“The all-new Jaguar XJ8 is a revolutionary car,
notwithstanding that few will recognize its ultimate significance from
its appearance. To my eye at least, it looks disappointingly similar
to its immediate predecessors. (I could not agree more - Dr. Iain.)
“That is where any disappointment ends for me,
apart from rather vague speedo markings on a car which can be
deceptively rapid. This could be nothing but a Jag. It reeks class. It
is stylish, sumptuously furnished and eerily hushed. It can stir the
emotions - a car to be bought with both heart and mind. It can deliver
transport of great serenity or deceptive sportiness.
“The deeper story is more remarkable than this
description, which applies equally to almost every car which has borne
the Jaguar name. The XJ8 has an all-aluminium shell; not a skin like
most cars, but a shell - like a crab. Its great bodily strength comes
from the outside, there being no conventional frame or skeletal
“The benefits are manifold. It is a lightweight
for such a lavish sedan. At 1615kg it falls about midway between
Commodore (Lumina in Thailand) and Ford Falcon.
“The XJ8 body is 60% stiffer and 40% lighter than
its predecessor. This contributes to the substantial acceleration
available from even the entry level, high-tech, quad cam, 3.55 litre
V8. It will also give better than 10 litres per 100 km fuel economy -
or more than 30 mpg.
“More important, the alloy shell has great
torsional strength. This is a substantial factor in the car’s
uncanny agility and dead flat ride, almost regardless of speed or
driver indiscretion. Repairability is claimed to be simpler than for
“We drove the 196 kW AUD 170,000 3.5 litre model.
(You can order one of these in Thailand, but be sure you have a spare
7.2 million bath left to pay for it - Dr. Iain.) This Jaguar is
unusually user-friendly. While it matches or surpasses its prime
competitors in virtually every area, the owner will not require a PhD
in electronics or expertise in sophisticated computer games to get the
best from it. The car unobtrusively delivers whatever its driver and
passengers demand, to total effect. It even boasts an impressively
small turning circle for easy U-turns in most suburban streets.
“Noteworthy features beyond the revolutionary
build method, include a six-speed automatic transmission, full air
suspension, dynamic stability control, electronic brake force
distribution and switchable traction control.
“Standard gear includes everything from climate
control air conditioning to automatic lights and wipers, memory
seats/steering wheel and mirror positioning and steering wheel mounted
buttons for the cruise control and 12 speaker sound system. This Jag
also has split fold rear seats, parking distance warning, a trip
computer, satellite navigation and TV.
“While the new XJ looks much like others before
it, there is substantially more passenger space and the boot is a real
hold-all at last.
Even though it wears 18 inch alloy wheels with 55
aspect low profile tyres it still manages to raise Jaguar’s
traditional quiet, bump absorbent and flat ride standards. Only over
coarse bitumen does some road noise intrude. Wind noise is absent. The
engine is heard only as a distant, joyous sound under firm
“In sum, the XJ8 is a car which embraces
everything Jaguar has always stood for, updated appropriately for the
21st Century. Beyond that we have a vision of a major manufacturing
breakthrough - one which is currently under investigation by almost
every world manufacturer bar, I hear, General Motors.
“This is a highly significant car. It is also one
which will delight all who desire some emotional involvement in their
motoring above and beyond mere luxury passage.”
(Thank you John, but can somebody at Jaguar do
something about the looks? Dr. Iain.)