Brazilian GP this weekend


The final GP of the 2006 season is this weekend, coming from Brazil, so Rubens Barichello will have an extra supply of handkerchiefs.
This GP should seal Alonso’s grip on the 2006 Drivers Championship, though Schumacher still has a theoretical chance to pull it off. With the detonation of his Ferrari engine, he is now 10 points behind Alonso, and both have seven wins to their credit. However, if Schumacher wins in Brazil, and Alonso scores no points, the result will be an equal number of points, but Schumacher on eight wins and Alonso on seven gives the championship to Michael Schumacher.
Now Schumacher has said he wouldn’t want to win the championship through Alonso’s misfortune, but don’t believe him! Schumi has not been averse in the past to punting off his rivals (as did Senna, by the way), and if Alonso were involved in a first lap fracas, then stranger things have never happened. Renault are also saying already that they will be taking a very conservative stance for this GP, as Alonso only needs to come in 8th or better, even if Schumacher wins. All very interesting. As they say, it’s not over till the fat lady sings, and right now she’s still in the dressing room trying to get into her corsets!
The name Interlagos comes from the Portuguese for ‘between the lakes’ because the circuit was built in a natural bowl which had two small lakes in it. Their position dictated the layout of the 7.2 km track which was built in 1954 close to Sao Paolo (Ayrton Senna’s home city).
Interlagos hosted the Brazilian GP from the first non-championship race in 1972 through to 1980, with the exception of 1978 when it was held in Rio de Janeiro. After 1980, it went to Rio again, until 1989 when it returned to Interlagos, where it has remained.
This coincided with a new layout which retained the old section on both sides of the start/finish line. The infield kept the character of the original, but lap distance was shortened from 7.2 km to 4.3 km. One of the new corners was named after Ayrton Senna.
The official name of the circuit is the Autodromo Carlos Pace in memory of Pace, the Brazilian who scored the only Grand Prix win of his brief career at Interlagos in 1975.
The Brazilian GP has also been famous over the years for the unruly crowd and circuit signs that fall down. With the time difference between that side of the world and us, I believe the event will begin at midnight on Sunday 25, but check your local TV feed.

FOGME! Are they serious?

The US press is full of a possible merger between Ford and GM, to be known as FOGM.
They tried rushing the ailing GM to the altar with Renault-Nissan, but Rick Wagoner from GM got cold feet when he heard the cost of the dowry and did a runner, or as they say here more eloquently, fled the scene!
FoMoCo is in the same boat, junk-bondwise, and now the two biggest automakers in the US are being touted as seeing each other socially, even if not yet tying any knots. Has everyone gone mad? This is like asking the patients in the Intensive Care ward to look after each other! Both of them are sinking faster than a Christian Scientist with appendicitis (line stolen from Tom Lehrer)!
Believe me, even in America where apparently nobody voted for George W. Bush (just ask any American, but he still got in), could such an outlandish idea become reality. Mind you, as I have just indicated, he did get in again! FOGME!

The S65 AMG approaches


The AMG branch of Mercedes Benz has been producing some fire-breathing motor cars, but not too many like the latest over the top version of the big Benz. The new S65 AMG packs 450 kW and 1,000 Nm of torque, all in the S600L body. This makes it the world’s most powerful sedan.
The new 6.0 litre twin-turbo V12-powered AMG flagship for its new S-class sedan range has been released just weeks ahead of an all-new 6.2 litre AMG V8 for the E63, CLK63, CLS63 and ML63.
It may be the world’s most powerful sedan, but the price tag is not for the faint-hearted either. In Australia, where the information came from the GoAuto people, this car is almost half a million dollars!
The S65 AMG builds on the strengths of the redesigned S-class launched at the beginning of the year, and brings the number of engine variants available to four.
The new S-class flagship blasts to 100 km/h in a rapid 4.4 seconds on its way to an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h. Those are the kind of performance numbers you expect of a Porsche 997 or a Lamborghini, not a five place luxury sedan.
The peak power comes in between 4,750 and 5,100 rpm, but its outstanding 1,000 Nm of torque is available from just 2,000 rpm and all then goes all the way to 4000 rpm. At 1,000 rpm, 570 Nm of torque is delivered, while 1,500 rpm sees 750 Nm available. This is real brute power, enough to be able to tow Nirvana Place all the way through Jomtien, if you could find somewhere to attach the tow rope!
Standard features include AMG sports suspension system based on Benz’s Active Body Control system, AMG high-performance composite brakes, Distronic Plus radar cruise control and the AMG Speedshift five-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel gearshift paddles.
“The Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG showcases what Mercedes-AMG stands for when it comes to developing extraordinary cars and powerful drive systems,” said Horst von Sanden, managing director for the Mercedes Car Group in Australia.
“The S65 AMG is the final word when it comes to performance motoring in a luxury car. The benchmark in this segment was re-set earlier this year with the launch of the all-new Mercedes-Benz S-class, and the S65 AMG raises the bar even higher.”
Examples of Aussie prices for the new S Class includes the S350 at AU$ 187,900, the S500L at AU$ 269,900, the S600L AU$ 363,900 and the S65 AMG coming in at a staggering AU$ 450,000.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that four wheel drive has been used on racing cars over the years, and I even saw the Ferguson 4WD racing with Graham Hill at the wheel. However, this question has nothing to do with the Ferguson. The first 4WD that was designed for racing was constructed in 1901, but it never actually raced. I wanted to know the make. Here’s a hint. The name is still around today! It was Spyker, and the Spyker company has just bought the Midland F1 race team.
So to this week. I spent part of the day last week with the Business Development manager for Lotus cars, who was in Thailand to evaluate the Bira circuit as a venue for car releases and testing. The ‘new’ Bira, when it is finished its development, will be a very good motor racing venue, and I am told the improvements (including resurfacing) will be finished early next year. Lotus is well remembered for the first glass fibre monocoque body in the Lotus Elite, but when was the first monocoque passenger car? And who built it?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] Good luck!