Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

What did we learn from the Hungarian Grand Prix?

Well, we learned (if we didn’t know already) that the Hungarian track produces boring races. Quite frankly, it should be dropped from the calendar. Or play reruns of the GPs if you are having trouble getting off to sleep.
Somebody at McLaren-Mercedes seems to have thrown a spaniard in the works! The normally cohesive team (of late) has certainly changed to one of subterfuge, intrigue and downright poor sportsmanship. Alonso was very lucky to only lose five grid positions. A certain Michael Schumacher lost 22 grid places at Monaco last year for meddling with another competitor’s chance at a quick lap. So did Alonso do it deliberately? Or did the McLaren team do it? The stewards, by penalizing both McLaren and Alonso believed they were both guilty. Saying they were holding Alonso back by 20 seconds so that he could enter the circuit in an unrestricted position was so much codswallop. There were only four cars on the circuit at that time! Drivers can also position themselves on the track, it only takes a little slowing on the out lap to allow them to make their own buffer, so Alonso did not need to sit there for a further 10 seconds. We are talking about the current world champion here, not Dozy Dora in the supermarket car park!
It is difficult to write about any Grand Prix without mentioning the sterling job being done by Lewis Hamilton. In public, he kept his cool after the qualifying debacle, he kept his cool during the race, despite being harried by Raikkonen, and he maintained his dignity during the post-race press conference. As a sportsman ambassador for the UK he is exceptional. And the kid can drive. I have likened him to a talent similar to Michael Schumacher, but with a much nicer personality. Mind you, having said all that, the kid is also subject to emotional outbursts following the extremes that motor racing can produce, having a slanging match with his boss Ron Dennis immediately after being denied a further chance at a quick lap. It is difficult for the public to imagine the psychological build-up of stress in a competitive race driver. I was so furious, I once threw my helmet at an official who had black-flagged me. (I did apologize later!)
There was not much else to learn from the Hungarian GP. I suppose it is noteworthy that that Ralf Schumacher actually did not hit anybody, though Fisichella did manage to end Anthony Davidson’s race, breaking the Englishman’s rear suspension after a decent hit. Fisi is still hopeful that he will be driving for Renault next year. Briatore, who always plays his cards close to his chest, is not saying anything, claiming he hasn’t made up his mind. Don’t believe him. He has. Fisi is out to pasture next year.
What else? BMW are now firmly the best of the rest after McLaren and Ferrari. Honda is the best of the bottom. In the next three weeks until the Istanbul race, there will be ritual Hara-kiri at Honda.
The next GP is the Turkish, let us hope that it will produce some delights. The Hungarian certainly did not.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that ice cooling was used for three world land speed record attempts. I asked what were the three cars? Clue: 1928, 1929, 1938. The correct answer was Frank Lockhart’s Stutz Bearcat in 1928 (in which he was killed), Kaye Don’s Silver Bullet in 1929 and John Cobb’s Railton in 1939.
So to this week. Let’s try you on Speedway. Who are the people in this pic? Clue: 1951.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]
Good luck!

 


Planes flying on green pond algae?
The following item came from New Zealand, and initially I thought that someone was having me on - but no. This is a genuine item.
According to the report, Air New Zealand and airliner manufacturer Boeing are secretly working with New Zealand-based biofuel developer Aquaflow Bionomic Corporation to create the world’s first environmentally friendly aviation fuel, made of wild algae.
It is understood Air NZ is undertaking risk analysis. If everything stacks up it will make an aircraft available on the Tasman to test the biofuel.
The fuel is essentially derived from bacterial pond scum created through the photosynthesis of sunlight and carbon dioxide on nutrient-rich water sources such as sewage ponds.
Air NZ would most likely test the fuel on one engine while normal aviation fuel would drive the other engine. Fuel is held in separate tanks on the aircraft that can be directed to a specific engine. The focus is on testing algae-derived jet fuel, especially its freezing point.


Electric motorcycles
The era of the electric road-going motorcycle is upon us and it’s called the Enertia, a perfect commuter machine built with a rigid light weight carbon fiber chassis to contain the battery pack (and most of the weight), a small electric motor which is enough for the Enertia to accelerate harder than any automobile to its 80 kph top speed - all that’s needed around town.

Enertia motorcycle

The Enertia’s secret is its weight - at just 125 kg ready to roll, it’s 45 kg lighter than the featherweight Aprilia Grand Prix Replica. It is zippy enough to shoot clear of the traffic when the light turns green - the electric engine has 100 percent of its torque available from a standstill, and it gets to 50 kph in 3.8 seconds, which is in the range of a semi-sporty 250cc motorcycle.
In the fuel economy stakes, it travels nearly four and a half times further on a MegaJoule of energy than a Toyota Prius hybrid.
Enertia uses six batteries mounted directly to the lightweight carbon-fiber monocoque frame beneath the “tank” cover. The narrow, compact motor sits right in line with the front sprocket, and the swingarm pivots pretty much right off the engine bay. Brembo brakes and a simple suspension setup look fine for a commuter, and the wheels are sized to take good rubber, coming with Pirelli Sport Demons as OEM.
The batteries come from Texan innovators Valence Technology. Six identical U-Charge XP units feed the motor using a Lithium Phosphate formula that makes them non-flammable as well as giving them an exceptional lifecycle. Over a testing period of 600 charge cycles, or nearly two years assuming a daily charge routine, they displayed an almost imperceptible loss of performance when kept at 23 degrees Celsius. Hotter conditions did see a performance decrease, with 600 recharge cycles at 45 degrees Celsius resulting in a drop to around 80 percent capacity. However, in the average urban area, battery lifespan won’t be a problem.


More green stuff!
In a report from down-under, an edible car made of vegetables has just hit 240 kph. The super-greenie has tyres made of potatoes and brake pads from ground cashew shells. The body was created from hemp (so you can smoke it later) and rapeseed oil, and it runs on fuel made from fermented wheat and sugar beet. Eco One is 95 percent biodegradable or recyclable, although its steering wheel, seat and electrics are made of conventional materials.

The edible car?

The one-seater racing car - called Eco One - has been built by experts from Warwick University who hope cars made in such a way will one day be a regular sight on Grand Prix circuits and that their ideas will be adopted by the mass automotive industry.
Eco One was designed by Dr. Kerry Kirwan, a researcher at Warwick Manufacturing Group, the university’s academic department that provides solutions to industry, and built by student Ben Wood, 23, over two months at a cost of $46,500.
Mr Wood said, “All the plastic components can be made from plants and although the chassis has to be made from steel for strength, steel is a very recyclable material. If we can build a high performance car that can virtually be grown from seed, just imagine what’s possible for the average family car.” Stretching credibility a little far, I think, with the steel chassis and the engine which was sourced from a Triumph Daytona motorcycle. Mind you, with the power to carrot ratio being as it is, Eco One does 0-100 kph in under four seconds. That is supercar time, and you can’t smoke or eat your average Porsche.