So what did we learn from the
Well we learned that the Gilles Villeneuve circuit still has
magnetic walls, able to attract wayward F1 machines, claiming this year, World
Champ hopeful Alonso in the Renault, World Champ wanna-be Jenson Button in the
BAR and ‘hopeful of staying in F1’ Narain Karthikeyan in the Jordan.
It was also a race of attrition, with just over half the
drivers actually seeing the chequered flag. First back to the showers was Sato
in the BAR with gearbox problems after a shunt up the rear from famous barger
Jacques Villeneuve, but he was to reappear 24 laps later, only to terminally
seize the rear end on lap 41. Karthikeyan in the Jordan was in for good on lap
24, then Fisichella in the leading Renault ran out of hydraulic pressure and was
unable to change gears on lap 33 out of 70. The Roman got out of his car
mightily unimpressed; however, to compound Renault’s problems, golden-boy
Alonso clouted the wall five laps later. Unnoticed by the TV cameras, Freisacher
in the mobile chicane Minardi ran out of hydraulics as well and entered the
pits, never to leave again on lap 39. Heidfeld in the BMW Williams cooked his
engine and was out on lap 43, followed three laps later by Button’s barricade
bashing. Montoya in the Mercedes McLaren got too excited on lap 52 and left the
pits against a red light. There’s no disputing these crimes and he was
black-flagged and promptly disqualified. The failures continued with Trulli in
the Toyota exploding a right front brake disc and getting an early shower eight
laps from the end.
Ferrari boys back on the podium
The Canadian GP also showed that you ignore Ferrari at your
own peril. Schumi and Rooby Baby both on the podium gives you something to think
about. They’re still not dominant in any way, but they are climbing back up.
Mark my words.
Raikkonen’s win was deserved. He never really put a wheel
wrong, he was the quickest driver on the day, and deserved his 10 points.
The various championship tables, with 11 races to go (110
points for the wins) are:
1 F Alonso (Spa) 59
2 K Raikkonen (Fin) 37
3 J Trulli (Ita) 27
4 N Heidfeld (Ger) 25
5 M Schumacher (Ger) 24
6 M Webber (Aus) 22
7 R Barrichello (Bra) 21
8 R Schumacher (Ger) 20
9= G Fisichella (Ita) 17
9= D Coulthard (GB) 17
11 JP Montoya (Col) 16
12 F Massa (Bra) 7
13 A Wurz (Aut) 6
14= J Villeneuve (Can) 5
14= C Klien (Aut) 5
16 P de la Rosa (Spa) 4
17 V Liuzzi (Ita) 1
1 Renault 76
2 McLaren 63
3= Toyota 47
3= BMW-Williams 47
5 Ferrari 45
6 Red Bull 22
7 Sauber 12
The advantages in buying German technology and
For many people, they have a pre-conceived idea of what they
are buying in their motor car. Germany for example, is considered one of the
best countries for automotive engineering, after all, look at Porsche, BMW, Audi
Unfortunately, in this age of globalization, buying a
“German” car does not necessarily mean that you are buying a car built in
Germany. In fact, it may not even have been designed in Germany!
Take VW as an example. They produce many models, and it is of
interest to see just where the following 15 VW’s come from:
Polo Hatch: South Africa
Polo Classic: China
Golf: South Africa
Bora: Germany (at last!)
Bora 2006: Mexico
Passat: Germany (hooray again!)
Touareg: Slovak Republic
New Beetle: Mexico
Phaeton: Germany (hooray, hooray)
Transporter: Germany (three hurrahs!)
Transporter CC: Poland
So out of 15 VW’s, five were made in der Faderland. Makes
However, you should also remember that when the first BMW’s began rolling
off the line here in Thailand, the boss of the plant reminded everyone that
these were not “Thai BMW’s”, but were “BMW’s made in Thailand”.
Internationals such as BMW have corporate standards, against which all assembly
plants and product is evaluated, and the local (Thai) BMW plant has consistently
scored higher than the majority of BMW plants world-wide. I have seen a vehicle
rejected for paint faults that I could not see! They are that stringent.
GM to cut 25,000 jobs in US over three years
It has been well reported in the financial pages of
newspapers that GM, the world’s number 1 automaker, is having to take some
drastic measures to try and get itself back on track financially.
It is only a few weeks ago that the world press had a field
day with the fact that both Ford and GM had their financial credibility severely
dented, both being reduced to ‘junk bond’ status.
This was followed up by GM Chairman Rick Wagoner having to
tell shareholders at GM’s annual meeting that jobs must go, and plants will
most certainly have to close. Cost reduction and capacity utilization is
essential for GM to turn around its North American operation, said Wagoner.
“In order to achieve full capacity utilization based on
conservative volume planning scenarios, we expect to close additional assembly
and component plants over the next few years,” Wagoner said, “and to reduce
our manufacturing employment levels in the US by 25,000 or more people, in the
2005 to 2008 period.”
Wagoner said that this unpopular move would, however,
generate annual savings of approximately USD 2.5 billion. He also said that GM
was in talks with the United Auto Workers (UAW), the union representing the
workers, and was honest enough to say, “We have not reached an agreement at
this time, and to be honest, I’m not certain we will.”
This year, GM investors have seen their shares fall to their
lowest level in more than a decade as the GM’s market share has inexorably
slipped and GM’s bond rating has been cut to junk, or non-investment grade,
status by two ratings firms. Losses topped USD 1 billion in the first quarter,
and sales for the profitable, high-margin SUVs have slumped.
However, this should not be taken as GM being on the way out,
or that GM is building ‘bad’ cars. Quite the contrary, as GM in some areas
of the world are going ahead in leaps and bounds, with Thailand being one of
them. The Thailand GM plant on the Eastern Seaboard is on target with its
development and in Q1 this year had snared almost 13 percent of the export
market, for example. This is a company that did not really exist in Thailand
less than ten years ago.
Discussion is around as to whether GM will assemble an
‘eco’ car here, as the Zafira line is stopping. Personally I hope they will,
as the world in general needs smaller eco-cars, and Thailand in particular
certainly does if we are to reduce petrol consumption and traffic jams.
Last week, I mentioned the YCC Volvo, the concept car
designed by women for women which has what was described as a unique feature.
This was the ability to park itself, and you can just picture the lady driver
telling her car to “go park yourself” can’t you! However, there was a
vehicle produced around 20 years previously, that did just that, wriggling
itself into parking spaces, complete with four-wheel steer. I asked what was
this car? It was the VW Futura, designed by Professor Ulrich Sieffert. This car
had gull-wing doors and a supercharged 1.7 litre engine as well.
So to this week. Who holds the Land Speed Record for electric
vehicles? And when?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected]
New Porsche Cup race car for 2006
Porsche have been trotting the new GT3 Porsche Cup race cars
around the world for enthusiasts to drool over. Last week we had the “old”
(current) GT3’s performing at the Bira circuit, and let me tell you that the
2005 GT3 is certainly no slouch, but the 2006 model certainly has some more
According to the pundits, the six-speed sequential gearbox
makes gear shifting faster, while the 2005 ABS brakes are replaced in the new
car by tandem racing master cylinders and an in-car brake bias adjustment
control. If the driver knows what he is about, this could mean even shorter
braking distances, and more opportunities to pass for the bold ones!
The revised front-end aerodynamics will further improve
handling, and the full digital readout data logging dash (MOTEC) will assist
drivers and engineers by providing more data.
The Carrera Cup series around the world have long been
recognized as the pinnacle of ‘one make’ sportscar racing, with the concept
for drivers to compete in identical racing Porsche machines with only minimal
“The famous reliability of Porsche technology ensures that
it is driver and team skill which dictates success on the race track, resulting
in the thrilling racing for which the series has become so well known,” said
Porsche Cars Australia Managing Director Michael Winkler.