Automania

F1 2005 commences

Thunder returns down-under!

The 2005 Eff Wun season kicks off again this weekend in Melbourne, and the race should commence at 10 a.m. our time.

The last couple of months have certainly been a drag! Pre-season testing has not told us much as it is impossible to really see what configuration the teams have been using. Some, like BAR have been using interim cars, while Ferrari are using modified 2004 cars until later this year.

However, for what it is worth, both the McLarens and the Renaults have been featuring well at the top of the time sheets at various testing sessions all over the Xmas/New Year break.

Albert Park in Melbourne is one of the longer circuits at a tad over 5 km around. Total laps for the Grand Prix will be 58 and you can expect lap times around the 1 min 24 mark, with the current lap record being 1.24.125 held by Michael Schumacher.

Past winners since 2000 are Michael Schumacher every year other than 2003 which went to David Coulthard.

Although this is a fairly new circuit, Albert Park was used in the 1950s, including two Australian Grand Prix but these did not count towards the World Championship.


Who are in the driving seats for the Australian GP?

Ferrari

Karthikeyan

Scotland’s Coulthard

Michael Schumacher, who must start as favourite, with seven World Championship titles.

Rubens Barrichello, well known, well entrenched and unlikely to do anything other than run second to Schumacher.

McLaren

Juan Pablo Montoya, the fiery Colombian who wants to show the world he is better than Raikkonen.

Kimi Raikkonen, the not so icy Finn, who wants to show the world he is better than Montoya.

Williams

Mark Webber, the Aussie home hero who has to prove the faith that many have in him (including me).

Nick Heidfeld, has a seat here with German engine supplier BMW behind the German driver.

Renault

Giancarlo Fisichella, finally in a top car and no excuses this year will be accepted by anyone.

Fernando Alonso, a young talent, but will he beat Fisi, and will this be his year to topple Schumi? I doubt it!

BAR

Jenson Button, Britain’s white hope. Did well in 2004, but a large question mark hangs over the team now that previous manager David Richards has gone.

Takuma Sato, blew up more Honda engines than anyone else. Fast but erratic.

Sauber

Jacques Villeneuve back after a 12 month sabbatical after being dropped by BAR. Has everything to lose this year.

Felipe Massa did not do as well as hoped last year. Must beat Villeneuve or will be forgotten for 2006.

Red Bull

David Coulthard finally got a seat and deservedly so. Could surprise many with his maturity and will lead the ex-Jaguar Red Bull team.

Christian Klien has been chosen over Vitantonio Liuzzi to start the year. I expect him to continue hitting things and to be relegated to test driver.

Toyota

Ralf Schumacher is another with everything to prove or lose this year. I doubt if Toyota is going to help him become a number 1.

Jarno Trulli also has to prove that his win in 2004 was no fluke. However, will be hampered by the car, I fear.

Jordan

Narain Karthikeyan, the first Indian F1 driver, but quite frankly I think he will be out of his depth.

Tiego Monteiro has a better racing pedigree than Karthikeyan, but the Jordan will not be the car to show off his talents.

Minardi

Christijan Albers has a real talent and could be the man of 2005 in the Minardi. Nobody expects a Minardi to do anything, so any result better than 19th is a plus.

Patrick Friesacher is another talented driver who could become the darling of the world media if he can unseat Albers.

BMW’s little ugly duckling gets more grunt

The smallest BMW, known as the 1 Series has had mixed reviews from the world’s motoring press. For example, at the end of last year, the Sydney Morning Herald’s motoring writer Bill McKinnon headed his report as “The newest addition to the BMW family walks but can’t quite run”.

He wrote that its good points included accurate steering and strong brakes. Compliant ride. Comfortable driver’s seat. Compact, efficient dash layout. Plenty of useful, practical features. Decent boot space.

However, he felt that negative points included lethargic performance, hampered by tall gearing. Steering lacks on-centre feel. Tight rear seat access and space. Rough roads generate some noise and occasional hard hits get through to the body. Don’t get a puncture too far from a BMW dealer or tyre supplier.

His summation was equally as damning, “Petite, poised and powerless.”

Just by Googling through many of the reports, you could see that the new 1 Series, even in the 150 bhp 120i version was no drag-strip hero with a zero to 100 clicks time of 8.7 seconds. Hardly neck-snapping stuff.

However it is now apparent that BeeEmm themselves realized there were a few problems in the power department, and a 3 litre inline six cylinder version has been released this year, called the 130i. This variant has all the grunt you would expect from a large engine in a small package and the reported 0-100 kph is 6.2 seconds, two and a half seconds quicker than the 120i.

According to Go Auto, this new 1 series model will be shown at the Geneva motor show this month ahead of an Australian debut late in 2005, and it is expected that the 130i will make the small hatchback a true pocket rocket.

The 3 litre inline six churns out 190 kW and 300 Nm, and benefiting from new lightweight components maintains the 50/50 weight distribution achieved in the less powerful models according to the manufacturer. It uses an aluminium-magnesium composite block, said to be a world first for a six-cylinder engine, using a design derived from the 5.0-litre V10 found in the M5/M6 sports cars, and an electrically driven water pump designed to cut down on power losses.

The 1 Series is available in Thailand, but comes in CBU and is more expensive than the 3 Series which is built here. The 330 is around 3.5 million baht, or the 323 is around 2.5 million. I honestly wonder just how many 1 Series BMW will sell here at a price of around 2.8 million for the 120i? I believe it is ‘novelty’ value only that will get a 1 Series out the door. I would much rather have a 3 Series in my garage.


BMW’s little ugly duckling gets more grunt

The smallest BMW, known as the 1 Series has had mixed reviews from the world’s motoring press. For example, at the end of last year, the Sydney Morning Herald’s motoring writer Bill McKinnon headed his report as “The newest addition to the BMW family walks but can’t quite run”.

BMW 1 series

He wrote that its good points included accurate steering and strong brakes. Compliant ride. Comfortable driver’s seat. Compact, efficient dash layout. Plenty of useful, practical features. Decent boot space.

However, he felt that negative points included lethargic performance, hampered by tall gearing. Steering lacks on-centre feel. Tight rear seat access and space. Rough roads generate some noise and occasional hard hits get through to the body. Don’t get a puncture too far from a BMW dealer or tyre supplier.

His summation was equally as damning, “Petite, poised and powerless.”

Just by Googling through many of the reports, you could see that the new 1 Series, even in the 150 bhp 120i version was no drag-strip hero with a zero to 100 clicks time of 8.7 seconds. Hardly neck-snapping stuff.

BMW 1 series

However it is now apparent that BeeEmm themselves realized there were a few problems in the power department, and a 3 litre inline six cylinder version has been released this year, called the 130i. This variant has all the grunt you would expect from a large engine in a small package and the reported 0-100 kph is 6.2 seconds, two and a half seconds quicker than the 120i.

According to Go Auto, this new 1 series model will be shown at the Geneva motor show this month ahead of an Australian debut late in 2005, and it is expected that the 130i will make the small hatchback a true pocket rocket.

The 3 litre inline six churns out 190 kW and 300 Nm, and benefiting from new lightweight components maintains the 50/50 weight distribution achieved in the less powerful models according to the manufacturer. It uses an aluminium-magnesium composite block, said to be a world first for a six-cylinder engine, using a design derived from the 5.0-litre V10 found in the M5/M6 sports cars, and an electrically driven water pump designed to cut down on power losses.

The 1 Series is available in Thailand, but comes in CBU and is more expensive than the 3 Series which is built here. The 330 is around 3.5 million baht, or the 323 is around 2.5 million. I honestly wonder just how many 1 Series BMW will sell here at a price of around 2.8 million for the 120i? I believe it is ‘novelty’ value only that will get a 1 Series out the door. I would much rather have a 3 Series in my garage.


Motoring thought for the week

Next time you see one of those adverts exhorting that you use “Only Genuine Brand Parts” consider what parts got you into the jam in the first place! (Thank you John Weinthal, our Down-under correspondent.)


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week, I asked what Japanese car was known as the hare in flight? It was the DAT, which was written in Japanese as “Datto”, which eventually became Datsun and then Nissan.

So to this week. Rear view mirrors became compulsory on racing cars in 1925. Why were they not compulsory before?

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]

Good luck!