Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

What did we learn from the British Grand Prix?

Well we learned that despite all the hype around McLaren-Mercedes, Ferrari have the faster car. With so much hanging on qualifying, young Lewis Hamilton did a heroic job in collaring pole position at the last second, and there was no time left for the other top spot contenders to have another lash at getting a good time. Top marks to the youngster there.
However, the strain on Hamilton did show, with his over-reacting to the lollipop. It is however interesting to note that other teams just hold the lollipop and then lift it, whilst McLaren hold the lollipop, then turn it over to say select 1st gear, and only then lift it.
We also saw that Massa can “tiger” coming from the rear of the field up to 5th after his Ferrari stalled on the grid when he selected 1st gear after the warm-up. However we also saw that young Robert Kubica was able to hold off Massa for the final 13 laps. Kubica is driving better since his monumental crash in Canada, and what is more – is outdriving team mate Heidfeld. It is well known that Dr Mario Theissen favors Kubica, and I would not be surprised to see the line-up of Kubica and Vettel next year, with Heidfeld at Toyota, replacing Ralf Schumacher.
Wurz (Williams) and Speed (Tossing Roarer) had a coming together, with each blaming the other. This will not happen in 2008, as neither will have a drive.
Toyota – what can you say? Trulli complaining bitterly that the car was undriveable, while Ralf had his left front wheel bearing begin to collapse. Toyota should bring Trulli over here to teach the Yaris One Make drivers how to avoid accidents, and give Ralf his pipe and slippers and a new Corolla and show him the road to Kerpen where he came from.
Another in the pipe and slippers brigade is Fisichella, getting his usual radio call to go faster because he has the same car as his team mate but he (Fisi) is going slower. Last year it was Alonso. This year it is new boy Kovalainen. A new Renault Megane for Fisi will be in his Xmas stocking, but no F1 contract for 2008.
Alonso did drive well in the race, and other than showing some Spanish petulance in the press conference after qualifying, behaved himself and didn’t blame his team.
And talking about the team, poor old Ron Dennis is certainly having his problems over the ‘Stepneygate’ affair in which (now ex-) Ferrari engineer Stepney is accused of passing on Ferrari secrets to (now suspended) McLaren designer Mike Coughlan. Interestingly, the whole sorry mess came to light after a photocopy shop reported someone furtively copying engineering drawings, which they thought could have been terrorist bomb plans. Bombs or not, it certainly has blown up in Coughlan’s hands! Stepney is also now really out in the cold, saying “Ferrari is unique in Italy; it’s a religion. If you go against it, it’s like going against the Vatican.” Which should be enough to have him ex-communicated as well.
Will somebody please fix Mark Webber’s hydraulics? That was about the fourth time this year that his hydraulics have all gone, leaving him without power steering, throttle or gears, just while he was looking a points position. His Red Bull certainly is no ground pawing steer, but more like the red bull post-abattoir.
Who have we forgotten? Ah yes, Spyker and Super Aguri. Not only did we forget them, but so did the TV director. I don’t think we saw Albers or Sato for the entire GP, and we only saw Sutil when his engine detonated, and Davidson when he retired, several times.
The next race is in Germany on July 22 from Nurburgring.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned the London to Sydney marathon was run in 1968 and was given much publicity, but I asked who was the first from London to Sydney? The answer was Francis Birtles, driving a 14 HP Bean. He left London on October 19, 1927 and arrived in Sydney on July 15, 1928. Now that’s what I call an epic!
So to this week. Engineer Malcolm Loughead invented a hydraulic brake so what did he call it? (Clue – think phonetics.)
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]
Good luck!


Shooting the messenger?
Auto News in America has reported a huge shake-up in GM’s advertising. This comes hot on the heels of the consolidation of Buick, Pontiac and GMC dealerships, so GM also is combining those brands’ advertising, sources familiar with the move say.
GM told dealers that it has fired longtime advertising agencies McCann-Erickson which held the Buick account for nearly 50 years, and Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, New York, from the GMC accounts. The three brands will be serviced by Pontiac’s advertising agency, Leo Burnett Detroit.
Mark LaNeve, VP of North American vehicle sales, service and marketing shook out the ad agencies last year as well. Last June, he fired Leo Burnett Detroit from the Cadillac account and gave it to Modernista. Burnett had held the account since 1935. Also last year, Chevrolet’s ad agency, Campbell-Ewald, lost a piece of its business to Deutsch, of Los Angeles. Deutsch handled negotiations for Chevrolet’s 2006 Major League Baseball and motor sports ad campaigns.
Showing that there was more than just rationalization in these moves, LaNeve indicated that Buick would focus its ads more on product and less on the brand’s celebrity endorser, golfer Tiger Woods.
It has taken some time, but it would seem that GeeEmm is finally realizing that people buy cars they want, not ones that the manufacturer wants them to buy, even using celebrities to peddle the product.


Ferrari goes on a diet
According to sources in the UK, Ferrari is putting their future cars on a diet. Rather than chase performance through increasingly expensive engine technology, the answer is to make the cars lighter.

Ferrari Millechili

Ferrari engineers say that if the Enzo had weighed 1000 kg, rather than its existing 1365 kg, its 485 kW power output would be effectively equivalent to 600 kW. An obvious power advantage over other supercars.
Ferrari used its recent 60th anniversary celebrations to reveal an Enzo-derived concept known as the FXX Millechili (shortened form of “mille chilogrammi” Italian for 1000 kg) and the car embodies the specialist carmaker’s new goal of achieving efficiency through weight savings and cutting-edge technology.
The Millechili is more compact than the Enzo and its wheelbase of 2112 mm compares with the latter’s 2351 mm. The distance from the top of the windscreen to the tip of the nose is also shorter – 976 mm versus the Enzo’s 1107 mm.
The Millechili is not a publicity exercise and Ferrari has reportedly said it plans to make each of its future vehicles 300 kg lighter than their predecessors.
Other F1 inspired concepts and others being designed for the future road cars are regenerative braking, advanced turbo engines and biofuel-compatible powerplants.
According to Autocar in the UK, Ferrari is also working with Imperial College in London on an innovative ‘active aerodynamics’ system that uses air pumps to push air over and under the car to streamline the airflow.
Ferrari are certainly a niche manufacturer, but with the emphasis on technology has joined Porsche as a technological leader in the supercar stakes.


Jaguar on the block
As they did with Aston Martin, cash-strapped Ford Motor Company have put another of their acquisitions up for sale, with the combined Jaguar and Land Rover concerns up for grabs for a reputed B. 190 billion. This has become necessary after Ford reported a loss of B. 380 billion last year. And you think you’re doing it tough!

The sale offer was reported in the pages of the world’s financial press (always an interesting place to get automotive low-down) and Middle-East money is already interested, after Aston Martin came into their clutches this year. And they have money, with one Kuwaiti investor tipping in almost B. 17 billion into the Aston Martin purchase.
To turn Ford around is going to be difficult, but like GM, Ford has to better understand its market and make reliable cars that people want to buy, at affordable prices. The way Toyota and Honda do. They don’t need better examples.


Honda tops UK reliability survey
Honda has practically swept the board in this year’s Which? Car reliability survey, the biggest-ever owner satisfaction survey in the UK with almost 100,000 cars rated.
The Honda Jazz is the most reliable new car, with a rating of 96 percent in the ‘supermini’ class. More than 1,300 owners confirmed it rarely lets them down – cementing its reputation as the number one for dependable motoring.
Not only does Honda make the most reliable supermini, it also either wins or shares the honors in the large car (Honda Accord), MPV (Honda FR-V) and off-roader (previous generation Honda CR-V) categories.However, the new Civic in the UK did not fare well, with a reliability rating of only 82 percent. Owners have reported problems with the fuel system, steering and suspension.
The least reliable new car in the Which? Car survey is the Land Rover Discovery 3, with an error-prone rating of 79 percent. Maybe that’s why Ford is trying to get rid of it.
Other notable disappointments are the VW Passat, contrary to Volkswagen’s reputation for reliability, the Peugeot 307 and Renault Megane, all with 82 percent.
Which? Car also includes a manufacturer league table, showing the year’s brand reliability winners and losers. Unsurprisingly, Honda is top of the table with an overall reliability index of 86 percent. Toyota, just one point behind, is another extremely reliable brand.
Behind the two Japanese giants, six Asian makes vie for third place: Daihatsu, Hyundai, Lexus, Mazda, Subaru and Suzuki all score 82 per cent. Land Rover as a manufacturer is rooted firmly at the bottom of the reliability table on 68 percent, just behind Renault and Fiat.
Which? Car Editor Richard Headland, said, “Congratulations to Honda, which has topped the reliability table in most mainstream categories. Honda is setting the benchmark in car reliability and it’s up to other manufacturers to raise their standards to match. Several Far Eastern car makers are hot on its heels, but European manufacturers still have some catching up to do.”