Japanese GP this weekend
The second last GP of the 2005 season will be held
at the Suzuka circuit in Japan (the final round is in China). With the
world championship won by Renault’s Fernando Alonso (or if you are a
McLaren fan, lost by Kimi Raikkonen), the race is now on for the
The results from Brazil, with McLaren’s 1-2 puts
them very narrowly ahead of Renault, with Fisichella having another of
his ‘unlucky’ races (to make it about the 10th
this year)! Having not gained the Driver’s title, McLaren’s Ron
Dennis will be out for revenge.
Ferrari looks as if it is having a small
resurgence, but they are still obviously being let down by the
Bridgestone tyres, and I noted that Ferrari has been re-testing 2004
tyres with a view to using them for this meeting, instead of the
current 2005 ones.
With Williams going to Bridgestone next year, this
will mean that at least two of the top half teams will be running
Bridgestone, so it will be possible for Bridgestone to get data more
quickly, as currently getting data from Minardi and Jordan means
nothing, bith teams hopelessly off the pace. However, it is difficult
to understand Williams going from a top tyre supplier to the second
runner at present, especially as Williams was one of the first to take
up Michelin when it returned to the sport a few years back. But let us
never forget, that even though Sir Frank Williams
has not had the best of years, he is a very cunning
old fox, and I personally doubt if the divorce from BMW will have
given him many sleepless nights.
BAR’s Japanese driver, Takuma Sato will be having
his last home GP in a BAR, having been replaced at BAR by Ferrari
driver Rooby Baby Barichello. Sato thought he would retain the seat
when Button moved on, but then Jensen bought himself out of his
contract (somewhere between 10-20 million dollars, I believe) and is
staying. Sato has turned down the offer of a testing role. Despite his
acknowledged speed, Sato is still too much “on and off” in more
ways than one. I cannot see him getting a decent seat anywhere in the
current grid line-ups.
With this being the annual rumour season, who will
partner Webber at Williams? Put your money on ex-world champ Keke
Rosberg’s son Nico.
This young man has been doing some F1 testing for
Williams this year and has just won the GP2 single-seater racing
championship for 2005. He is quick, level headed and deserves the
seat. See if I’m right.
The race starts at (I think) at 12.30 p.m. our time, but please
check with your TV feed, as I don’t want to be blamed for your
missing it! I will be watching from my favourite perch in Jameson’s
Irish Pub, Soi AR, next to Nova Park. Join me for lunch!
The History of the Japanese Grand Prix
Japan wanted a Grand Prix as F1 had an enormous following in
that country, and there were specialist manufacturers and automakers who were
interested in being part of the world F1 scene, however nobody wanted to race at
The answer was Suzuka, which had been designed by John
Hugenholtz as a test track for Honda. Because it had been built as a test track,
it had a wide range of corners over its 5.8 km length and it also had a flyover,
a unique feature to Grand Prix circuits, and in fact for most circuits. The only
other one I know of is the Oran Park GP (long) circuit outside Sydney,
Suzuka was first used for a World Championship race in 1987
and has ever since hosted the Japanese Grand Prix. It has frequently been the
championship decider, such as in 1989 when Senna came together with Prost with
seven laps to go but the title went to Prost when Senna was disqualified for
being push started, or in 1990 when again Senna rammed Prost out of the race at
very high speed on the first corner, but this meant that the title went to
Senna. Japan invented kamikaze remember (and I don’t mean the cocktail), which
Senna had learned very well. It is also good for some people to remember that
Michael Schumacher was not the first to work out that by rivals retiring he
could be left with the title, and thereby helping them into the shrubbery when
A1 GP also this weekend!
This week’s event coming from Germany, the Eurospeedway, a
track of which I am not familiar.
Here are the next few A1 GP races, and I must say I am
looking forward to the Eastern Creek round, being another of my personal
favorite tracks. I just hope that A1 GP will have smartened its act up as far as
telecasting is concerned (see my comments in this page under What Did We Learn
from the Inaugural A1 GP?)
9 October Eurospeedway, Germany
23 October Estoril, Portugal
6 November Eastern Creek, Australia
20 November Sepang, Malaysia
11 December Dubai, UAE
Last week, I asked what model BMW used its rear muffler
(silencer) as an aerofoil? It was the very radical BMW Z1. Built in 1988, it had
doors that dropped down into the high sills, like the window glass in a standard
door. They only built 8,093 of them.
So to this week. So to this week and something just a little
different and also a little radical. Cars that fly, a common enough concept in
science-fiction books and even featured in the cartoon TV series called “The
Jetsons” in 1962. However, the auto makers was already thinking about flying
cars in 1935 when the U.S. Bureau of Commerce’s Experimental Division Section
awarded a contract to a manufacturer to build one. The car had a single
propeller and rotor blades for flight. The gear could be folded back over the
fuselage to accommodate ground movement. Two passengers could sit side by side,
and there was a small baggage storage area behind the seats. For road use, the
90 bhp engine was connected to the tail wheel by a shaft that was put in gear
when the propeller was disengaged. Testing began in 1936 and continued until the
company dissolved in the mid-1960s. The question is then, what was the name of
this flying car?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected] Good luck!
What did we learn from the inaugural A1GP?
On the same day, there was the telecast from the UK of the
first A1GP meeting at Brands Hatch. A bunch of us descended on Jameson’s at
6.30 p.m. as the main race was supposed to be 12.30 p.m. UK time. Instead we
were subjected to endless qualifying heats and then a 15 lap sprint to give
positions for the main event. The telecast then continued with rally news, and
finally at 9 p.m. we got the main race.
The race had plenty of action, as the cars move around a lot,
with plenty of oversteer. There is apparently a magic ‘push to pass’ button
that the driver can use eight times during the race, but there was no
explanation of how it worked. However, the telecast was woeful! I have seen
better amateur handi-cams at a club meeting. Exceptionally poor quality. With
all the money that has been spent on getting the series up and running, the
organizers forgot that the majority of the audience are not at the meeting. They
are people like us watching the flickering screen.
Provided that they get a decent standard of telecast, A1GP
has much more going for it than the current F1, but it will need professional
motorsports TV editors and cameramen.
Australia’s Greatest Motor Race on Sunday October 9
If you get ABC Asia-Pacific, tune in on Sunday October 9 for
the 1000 km race around the Bathurst road circuit. The technology for in-car
camera shots was developed in Australia just for this race and is licensed for
use throughout the world these days (except A1GP it seems). The race will take
around 6 hours and (I think) will start at 7 a.m. our time. The first corner is
incredible, with 60 V8’s funneling down into a sharp 90 degree left-hander. It
is a real driver’s circuit, and many international; ‘big names’ have been
humbled by it. I have raced there twice, and Bathurst remains one of the high
spots in my motor racing career. The long downhill Conrod Straight was named for
the number of conrods that were tossed out of engines at maximum revs, which
after getting airborn on the second hump, were now over-revving.
What did we learn from the Brazilian Grand Prix?
Well, obviously the first thing we learned was that we have a
new World Champion in Spaniard Fernando Alonso, driving a Renault made in
England, with an engine made in France. Alonso is the first Spanish champion,
and also the youngest champion in history at 24 years of age. He kept his head
together all season and deserves his championship, though if the McLaren
Mercedes had been more reliable, Raikkonen would have got the laurel wreath.
Another record was made in Brazil, as this was the first time
in 27 years that Williams have lost both cars on the first lap. Sir Frank would
not have been pleased. However, for once, it wasn’t Mark Webber at fault, but
Jungle Boy Pizzonia. Do not expect to see Pizzonia in the second seat at
Williams for 2006.
As for the race itself, it was deadly boring. Did anybody see any passing
action after lap 1? If there was, I must have fallen asleep and missed it.