What did we learn from the US Grand Prix?
Well, the first thing we learned was that you had
to be a real enthusiast to sit up till midnight to see that start! We
also learned that the first corner still claims the unwary drivers,
with four not going any further. Goodnight Gianmaria Bruni (Minardi),
Giorgio Pantano (Jordan), Felipe Massa (Sauber) and Christian Klien
(Jaguar). You do not WIN the race at the first corner, you only LOSE
the race at the first corner.
A couple of heavy crashes in the event, with Ralf
Schumacher looking as if he were momentarily stunned. He had to be
worked on by the FIV Medical Team in the car, while the rest were
streaming past. This is not the best situation and I personally feel
the race should have been red-flagged and stopped at that point.
Driver retrieval is more important than anything else at that time.
You can always restart the race after the driver is extricated and the
While I think about it, the local Star Sports feed
has the worst commentator I have ever had the misfortune to listen to,
but to hear him joking about the fact that Ralf Schumacher was having
a brain scan, and we would then see if he had any, was quite untimely
in front of a world wide audience. At that stage we did not know if he
was seriously hurt or otherwise. Star Sports, get rid of him, and the
silly woman who is presenting the pre-race programme, who knows as
much about Formula 1 as my cat.
We also learned that the stewards at a race meeting
are chaps that spend the time with their noses in the rulebooks,
rather than having a look at what is going on. To black flag Montoya
after 90 minutes of racing (illegally) is quite pathetic. Apparently
he did not get into the spare car quickly enough (the figure of 15
seconds is being bandied about), so he started illegally, according to
the rulebook. They then made up their minds to call in a race driver
who had already had to start from pit lane behind everyone and had got
himself up to 4th. Good racing, good spectacle, just what the fans
come to see, and then they bring him in after an hour and a half.
On the good side, Takuma Sato drove well and
deserved his place on the podium. Amazing to see just how much better
BAR have done since the highly expensive Jacques Villeneuve was
The other good news was Minardi getting a point, with Zsolt
(pronounced Djolt) Baumgertner scraping home in 8th. With the team now
getting into the points score this means they are eligible for TV
rights moneys, worth millions. There is also much guff about our Zsolt
being the first Hungarian to score points and now his name is in the
halls of fame etc., etc. Our Zsolt was just dead set lucky. The
attrition rate was such that less than half the field finished. And
these are the best cars and the best drivers in the world? I think
Honda Jazz gets a
The Honda Jazz has been a real hit all over the
world, having obviously struck a chord (sorry about the pun, but I
couldn’t help myself) with motorists everywhere. Like most
manufacturers, Honda has decided to make some mid-cycle changes, just
to keep the interest up. However, the changes to this very popular
model are few and mainly cosmetic.
The ‘new’ model is expected to be released at
the Sydney Motor Show in October, and the following report came from
the Australian GoAuto people.
Known in Japan as the Fit, the five-door hatchback
is expected locally around October, in time for the Sydney Motor Show
debut. The changes, which are mainly cosmetic, are the first since the
Jazz’s Australian release in October 2002.
will take a keen eye to spot the new grille, headlight cluster, front
and rear bumpers and front air-intake design. Two variations of the
latter exist - one with a more aggressive crosshatched mesh-style
opening that’s expected to feature on the sportier VTi-S version.
Redesigned tail-lights, Mercedes-style wing mirror
indicators and new colours complete the exterior body titivations,
while the hubcaps and alloy wheels have also been restyled.
Mimicking the lively hues found on the Mazda 2,
Honda has gone for pastels. Alongside the current red, black, silver
and white, they include a champagne brown, pistachio green, electric
blue, bronze, charcoal and off-white.
Inside there are materials and trim alterations, a
new steering wheel and a revised dashboard with improved storage
capabilities and more sophisticated heater and audio controls.
In the 1.5 seven-speed CVT automatic, the current
car’s toggle switch-style steering wheel-mounted shift controls give
way to F1-style paddle shifts similar to those found in Ferraris.
Some upscale models also sport a fully automatic
climate control set-up and a large monitor for GPS satellite
navigation or television reception.
Mirroring Toyota’s super-successful Prius II,
Honda now also offers a card entry system in place of a conventional
There are no changes to 1.5-litre VTEC engine
outputs, which continue to be 81kW of power at 5800rpm and 143Nm of
torque at 4800rpm.
According to Honda Motor in Japan, the 1.5 engine
Jazz (there is a 1.3 in Japan and Australia), achieves 4.88L/100km
(previously 5.2). The 1.5 five-speed manual gearbox will continue
though, along with the seven-speed CVT.
On the safety front side airbags are now available,
along with the addition of EBD Electronic Brake Force Distribution,
aiding the standard ABS Anti-lock Brake System.
Year-to-date figures for Australian Jazz sales are 811 for the 1.3
versus 2282 for the larger 1.5-litre variants. The Jazz has been a
huge critical and commercial success for Honda. Launched at the 2001
Tokyo Motor Show, it has been one of the company’s consistent
What Price Mitsu?
Poor old Mitsubishi Motors is in more strife than Flash
Gordon right now. Having produced a ‘corporate’ front that nobody finds
attractive and then plastering that all over their range of models certainly
slowed sales. However, the withdrawal of financial support from DaimlerChrysler,
followed by the news of defect cover-ups has certainly put the company into a
In Japan, DaimlerChrysler appointees have been given the DCM
(Don’t Come Monday), with Olivier Boulay (a designer almost as unpopular as
BMW’s Chris Bangle), product planner Kai-Uwe Seidenfuss, procurement guy
Stefan Buchner and Hans-Jurgen Storch from R&D out the door at the end of
It would not surprise me to see Mitsubishi Motors taken over
by another firm and moved out of autos all together.
Gasohol. Gas or just hot air?
The Thai Gasohol monster has been let out of its cage again,
with the global scare on increasing crude oil costs spurring on the government
to come up with energy saving proposals. Most of these are ranging from the
unworkable through to the ludicrous, but one that ‘can’ work is the Gasohol
fuel. However, it isn’t all that simple.
Gasohol is 90 percent un-leaded petrol and 10 percent ethanol. The theory is
that this will keep transportation costs down and reverse the current slowing
down of our GDP increase, which now seems to be the Holy Grail. This ignores the
fact that ethanol is not an easily renewable energy source, and it takes
gasoline to harvest the crops that in turn produce ethanol. It also ignores the
fact that gasohol is around 3-5 percent less fuel efficient, vis-à-vis petrol,
so you use more fuel to travel the same distance. Gasohol also has a tendency to
‘eat’ fuel lines, so expect increases in vehicle maintenance costs. The fact
that gasohol comes from Thai companies PTT and Bangchak, has nothing to do with
it, I am sure! Has anyone seen a shareholders list?
Last week I wrote that VW have a luxury vehicle called the
Phaeton, and I asked where did the name Phaeton come from? The answer was that
came from the coach builders of the mid-1800s and described a four wheel
carriage with a folding top!
So to this week. After being with a racing Porsche again
(Matthew Marsh’s A-Ha Racing GT3 at Bira), let’s have a Porsche question.
The 917s were legendary vehicles, with some engines producing more than 1,500
BHP and performance figures such as 0-100 kph in 2.1 seconds, 0-160 kays in 3.9
seconds and 0-340 kays in 13 seconds in 1972. Some early 917s were designated as
917 PA. The question this week is what did the letters PA stand for?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected]
The logical explanation for America’s
dwindling oil reserves
(The following was sent to me, but I enjoyed it, so I thought
you might too!) There are a lot of folks who can’t understand how there came
to be an oil shortage over in America. Well, there’s a very simple answer.
Nobody bothered to check the oil.
They just didn’t know that the levels were getting low. The
reason for this is purely geographical. All of their oil is in the Mexican gulf,
Alaska, Texas, California, and Oklahoma.
But all their dipsticks are in Washington, DC.!
Eff Wun World Championship status
While Michael Schumacher has won almost every race so far,
the points scoring system is such that he cannot get away quite so easily, as
the large differential in points between 1st and 2nd has been abolished. At this
stage in the year, it is certainly NOT a foregone conclusion. This could still
be David Coulthard’s year, provided Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barichello
do not finish another race and David wins the next nine on the trot.
1 Michael Schumacher Ferrari 80
2 Rubens Barichello Ferrari 62
3 Jenson Button BAR-Honda 44
4 Jarno Trulli Renault 41
5 Fernando Alonso Renault 25
6 Juan Pablo Montoya Williams 24
7 Takuma Sato BAR-Honda 14
8 Ralf Schumacher Williams 12
9 Giancarlo Fisichella Sauber 10
10 David Coulthard McLaren 9
11 Kimi Raikkenen McLaren 8
The next GP is the French on the 4th July at Magny Cours. Back to the
European time zone means that we will be able to watch at sensible hours.