Vol. V No. 24 - Saturday June 10, - June 16, 2006
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by Saichon Paewsoongnern
 

 


Automania

British GP this weekend

The British GP is on this weekend at the famous Silverstone circuit. This was actually the venue for the first World Championship F1 Grand Prix which was held on May 13, 1950 with the British Royal family in attendance.
The history of the circuit is one of continuing development. During WW2 Silverstone was a bomber station and it was pressed into service as a motor racing circuit in 1948. The three pre-war British circuits, Brooklands, Donington Park and Crystal Palace were all out of commission and ex-military airfields offered ready-made road surfaces, other basic facilities such as primitive toilets, and they were usually a long way from densely populated areas.
In 1950 came a layout which was unchanged for many years. An additional corner, Bridge Bend, was added just before Woodcote for 1987, and the chicane was removed. This altered the length to 2.969 miles. A major revision of the layout was undertaken for 1991 which tamed the awesomely fast Maggotts curve and Stowe and Club corner and added a sequence of bends prior to Woodcote. These revisions increased the length to 3.247 miles and remained in force until 1995 when further details were made which decreased the overall length of a lap by a few yards leaving it at 3.210 miles.
The current point score is as follows:
1 Fernando Alonso (Spanish) Renault 64
2 Michael Schumacher (German) Ferrari 43
3 Giancarlo Fisichella (Italian) Renault 27
3= Kimi Rไikk๖nen (Finnish) McLaren-Mercedes 27
5 Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombian) McLaren-Mercedes 23
It is still early days in the championship, and any one of the top five could make it to the top of the heap by the time the next 11 GPs have been run.
The race should begin at 1 p.m. British time, which is (I believe) 6 p.m. here (an hour earlier than usual for European races), but check your local TV feed.


Porsche’s Panamera is coming

Porsche Panamera

The Porsche Panamera is coming, but unfortunately at the expense of the company’s fire-breathing Carrera GT, which had been built at the Leipzig plant, but the production lines will be changed to the Panamera.
Currently under development following confirmation of its production in May last year, the four-seater grand touring sedan (Porsche prefers to call its a sports coupe) will join the 911 coupe/cabrio, Boxster convertible/Cayman coupe and the Cayenne SUV in Porsche dealerships in 2009.
Its production will involve significant further investment and expansion to the Leipzig facility, including the construction of a new 25,000 square-metre production hall and the extension of the existing assembly hall.
A 30,000 square-metre logistics centre will also be built near the new hall from September, bringing Porsche’s overall investment in new buildings and production facilities to 120 million Euros.
“Right from the beginning in the production of the Cayenne and the Carrera GT, our Leipzig plant has proven that it is in a position to build premium cars of the highest quality,” said Porsche AG president and CEO Dr Wendelin Wiedeking.
“So taking this decision in favour of Leipzig is a clear sign of confidence in the skills and abilities of our workforce at the plant, and at the same time a further contribution to the economic development of the new states of Germany in the East.

“Making this pledge to Germany as a centre of industry, we are enhancing the inherent value of our sports cars – and at the same time we are meeting the expectations of our customers,” said Dr Wiedeking.
Porsche said that Panamera’s engines, which are expected to include derivatives of the Cayenne’s 4.5 litre naturally-aspirated and turbocharged V8, will be built at Porsche’s main Zuffenhausen plant in Stuttgart, while Volkswagen’s Hanover facility will supply bodies-in-white.
“We have decided in favour of the Hanover Plant because it is one of the most modern plants within the entire Volkswagen Group and is in a position to build the body of the car with the premium quality we require.
“A further advantage is that the paint shop in Hanover allows a wider range of colours than at other VW plants,” said Dr Wiedeking.
Porsche said that this would represent six percent of the vehicle’s entire value, while the degree of in-house production of the Panamera in Porsche’s own plants will be 15 percent.
Porsche is quick to point out that 70 per cent of the car’s ‘value creation’ will be in Germany, thanks largely to German suppliers, creating 600 new jobs within Porsche Leipzig GmbH and a further 600 in the region - recruitment of which will start in 2008.
Will the Panamera have a place in the market? Undoubtedly. After sampling the Maserati Quattroporte a few weeks ago, there is definitely a place for exotic vehicles that can carry more than two people!

Porsche Carrera GT

Meantime, the final Carrera GT rolled out of the Porsche production facility in Leipzig on May 11, bringing to an end what the company claims is the most successful supercar in history.
More than 1270 examples of the V10 powered, left hand drive Carrera GT were sold since its introduction in late 2003, representing a greater number than the total production of the McLaren F1, Ferrari Enzo and Pagani Zonda models combined.
Powered by a 5.7 litre naturally aspirated V10 engine developing 450 kW and 590 Nm of torque, the limited-edition supercar claimed a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 3.9 seconds on its way to a top speed in excess of 300 km/h.


Monaco musings. Did Schumi really cheat?

The motor racing world has been thrashing out the Schumi-Monaco affair for the past couple of weeks, with much mud being dragged up by the anti-Schumacher camp, whilst Michael Schumacher continues to deny any deliberate attempt to thwart Alonso’s qualifying lap.
After seven hours of deliberation, the stewards of the meeting decided that Schumacher did deliberately cause a situation that stymied Alonso’s qualifying chances. The penalty was to scrub Schumacher’s times and demote him to 22
nd on the grid. The stewards did not use the word “cheating”, but that was the immediate response of the anti-Schumacher bloc.
There are also those who have been saying that if Schumacher were innocent he should have appealed against the decision. The fact that he did not, therefore proves his guilt. However, that is not the real situation either. The stewards’ decisions are final and there is no immediate right of appeal, so he could not appeal anyway. It should also be remembered that the stewards are both judge and jury at race meetings.
I do not have full access to all the facts surrounding this case. Only the FIA stewards had that right to review telemetry and replay TV footage, as well as interview the driver. I do not, and neither do Schumacher’s detractors; however, if (and it is a big “if” in my mind) Schumacher did deliberately thwart Alonso’s chances and was “cheating”, then the penalty was not severe enough!
Having been a motor racer for many years, I too have had my times in the stewards room, being given the opportunity to explain my actions on track, or the specifications of my car and the like, and I cannot say I am enamoured of stewards, the vast majority of whom are enthusiasts (at best), and not motor racers. I was the subject of a three month ban after it was discovered that my engine builder installed the pistons in my stock Gemini engine back to front. The claim was that there was a theoretical chance of a small (unable to be measured) improvement in performance! And I got a three month suspension!
If a driver in a minor formula can get three months for an indiscretion he was unaware of, how much should a driver at the pinnacle of motor sport get for a deliberate action? Only relegation to the back of the grid? Three months suspension would not be enough.
However, the stewards should be very, very sure of their decision. If there is a shred of doubt, then I believe the qualifying times should have remained as they were, with Schumacher on pole.
So was there doubt? When it took seven hours to make their decision, I would suggest that there was. If it were an open and shut case of blatantly impeding the other drivers, it would not take seven hours, surely?
Perhaps the only positive result from this sorry episode is that it should silence all those people who have accused the FIA of being pro Ferrari. The fact that their star driver was penalized at all should be remembered.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned Honda, and asked what was the first Honda model to be offered in two forms? A little controversial perhaps, but it was the S600 sports which came in both open and fixed head coupe styles.
So to this week. What new car sold 100,000 units in the first 100 days of its release?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]
Good luck!