What did we learn from the Malaysian GP?
Well, we learned that all the hype about Lewis
Hamilton is deserved. This young man is demonstrating a very rare
talent, and will definitely be a future champion. He made Massa look
silly, and was able to cope with all the pressure that Raikkonen
tried to apply. And hats off to Ron Dennis of McLaren who picked up
the youngster 10 years ago and signed him up as a future McLaren F1
We could also see that Alonso deserves his World Champion status. He
drove a well timed race from the front, lapping very consistently,
and will be a good role model for Lewis Hamilton.
So, what else did we learn? First off, Felipe Massa will be very
lucky to keep a Ferrari drive if he continues to make such
elementary mistakes. It is reported that he is unhappy that
Raikkonen’s contract is worth five times the one he has, but Massa
has not been delivering the goods this year. It may be early days,
but Jean Todt has a long memory. “We are disappointed,” said Ferrari
BMW has certainly elevated itself so far this season, though Kubica
(of the aerodynamic nose) did not do as well as Heidfeld. In fact,
Kubica is not meeting the potential he showed last year.
Williams is still in trouble, though at least one of their drivers
is showing enough pace to be in the top 25 percent of the field.
Rosberg was looking good until an unknown malady stopped him. Wurz
again could not qualify well and is playing catch-up, but Sir Frank
is not known for his tolerance towards his drivers. Remember he
sacked a couple of world champions. Wurz has to improve.
Toyota has to get to the front or there will be extreme measures
taken. This loss of face from the world’s most successful car
manufacturer cannot continue. Ralf Schumacher should start selecting
his pipe and favorite slippers for next year. He won’t be at Toyota.
On the other side of the Japanese invasion, Honda’s performance was
ludicrous, it was so bad. However, Honda’s press release was even
more ludicrous, using words like “drivers drove textbook races” and
they are “hopeful of another tenacious and reliable performance” in
Bahrain. The real situation is that the cars are hopelessly
outclassed. Honda should be brave and admit it.
Spyker should just pack up and go home and try again next year after
buying an old McLaren, instead of protesting other teams that may be
running last year cars from other manufacturers. The only positive
aspect the Spyker team reported in their press release was that
Alber’s fire “was quickly extinguished by Spyker technicians.” How
Last week I asked who was known as the Tigress of Turin?
Clue: she at one stage drove the car which had previously won the 1977
Australian Grand Prix. The correct answer was Lella Lombardi, the only woman to
have scored a point in F1.
So to this week. Which member of the British monarchy had a Jaguar Mk VII
upgraded to Mk IX specs by the factory?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Honda Jazz One Make Race Saturday 21 April
Honda Jazz racer
Having dried out from Songkran, the new Honda Jazz One Make
Race kicks off at the Bira Circuit on Highway 36 on Saturday April 21. I had the
opportunity to drive one of these in full-race trim at Bira, and these cars
should provide some close racing and biff and bash action from the novice
drivers accepted into the series. A great stepping stone into the exciting world
of motor sport.
In actual fact, I came away from the Bira circuit full of praise for Mr Honda’s
new baby racer. It stopped well, the gearbox was sweet and never once did I feel
I might have gone from second to fifth, instead of third. The gate was very
positive in feel. The ratios were well spaced and it felt a very ‘complete’ race
car. Small details were well done, with non-slip pedals, a substantial roll cage
and good three inch belts and a brace for the left foot while cornering. At
699,000 baht it is really great value.
Unfortunately, the series organizers have decreed that only novice drivers can
compete in this One-Make race, and despite my entreaties, they would not even
entertain my running a car, even starting from the back of the grid and for no
points either. We obviously need another category for old semi-retired racers,
forget these youngsters!
Motor Show 2007
Wuling Resort carrier.
Zero percent Jaguar.
In the cheapie department, it was the slow Chinese invasion
that was obvious. Wuling had the Scorpion again, offering a 10,000 baht discount
during the show, making it 265,000 baht, whilst their 11 seater Resort mobile
had a 20,000 baht discount sticker, bringing it down to 350,000 baht for show
time. And Dongfeng was there with a giant bus, which was yours for something
under 3 million baht. The Chinese are coming! By car, truck and bus.
At the other end of the scale, Bentley probably had the most expensive cars of
the show, with all models well over 20 million. (Very well over.) The Bentley
Flying Spur, which is the Bentley Continental GT with two more doors and a
stretched wheelbase, looked very good, but it is hard to justify the 24 million
baht price tag, no matter how practical it was.
Now I have nothing against women, in fact I have enjoyed their company for many,
many years, but I have really got no time for dolly birds on motor show stands,
parroting off technical details of the cars on show, when it is quite obvious
they would not know a cam belt from a chastity belt. I am waiting for some
manufacturer to give me a real live engineer on the stand who can speak with
authority on just why this car is good, better, best.
And while on the gripes, many of the exhibitors produced absolutely dull and
dreary displays, making one feel that their product was also just as dull and
dreary. GM is guilty here. They threw a few cars at their stand, all
higgledy-piggledy, and thought that was enough. They had some NGV Optras with a
sticker on them to announce it, whilst they should have highlighted this (it was
supposed to be a ‘green’ show after all) and made a feature of it. Instead, what
did they have? Another bunch of dolly birds, in ridiculous outfits, to mouth off
the details. These were under the control of a choreographer, no less, who was
there on the first morning putting them through their twirls and door opening
routines. Considering that GM have some great concept cars that could attract
the crowds (such as the new Camaro concept) and it would cost peanuts to get one
or two over for the show, throwing money at dolly birds and choreographers is a
GM were not the only ones like this. Old rivals Ford had Samba dancers, would
you believe! What for? And a rally car equipped with a Sony Playstation program
(or a dummy, I didn’t look too close) which was lost in their hordes of Ford
Ranger pick-ups. They even made a Ranger the center of a display - a Ranger that
can be seen at any Ford dealer, any day of the week. Another opportunity to
promote the brand lost again.
Even Ssanyong, purveyor of the decidedly Ssick looking vehicles, tried harder,
with a Rexton up at 45 degrees with rotating wheels. At least they tried, even
if the Ssanyongs are incredibly ugly.
Just across the hallway from Ssanyong was Subaru. Another manufacturer which
needs to sack its styling department. The ‘koala nose’ vehicles are just so
wrong. There is a new Subaru out this week in the US, I believe, but it will be
a long time before we see them here.
I would say that Jaguar, another of Ford Motor Company’s marques on the chopping
block must be getting rather desperate. When you look back at why Jaguar came to
such prominence 50 years ago, it was because Jaguars were up to the minute in
styling, had great performance and were cheaper than the rest. The “new” zero
percent S-Type has retro styling, only adequate performance and is expensive at
5 million baht. The XJ6 was even worse at 7.3 million baht. Talk about losing
the magic formula! And Zero percent won’t save them either.
Bentley Flying Spur.