Last week I asked when did pneumatic tyres first get used in
a race? And who was the driver? The answer was very interesting historically.
Pneumatic tyres were used in the very first official race, which was the
Paris-Bordeaux-Paris event of 1895. The driver was Andre Michelin (yes, the
forerunner of today’s Michelin tyres) who fitted his tyres on a Peugeot.
Unfortunately he suffered numerous punctures and was disqualified for exceeding
the 100 hours allotment for the race. However, the following year most cars were
on Michelins for the race.
So to this week. What was the first air-cooled racing engine, which had a large
fan to force air across the cylinders? Hint: do not jump to the first
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
On Yer Bike
Australians bought 1 million new cars in 2007. Not bad from the
population of 21 million. They also bought 1.4 million new bicycles in that
time, outselling cars by 40 percent!
However, it is wonderful what you can dream up once you have a few
statistics behind you. The Cycling Promotion Fund (CPF), which is urging the
Federal Government to invest in cycling infrastructure, say the figures show
Australians have greater awareness of climate change and their health.
“Australians want to become more active and are looking for practical ways
to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions,” said CPF program director
Unless Australians have changed enormously since I left its golden sandy
beaches, Aussies want something with a big engine to tow the boat to the
aforesaid beaches, and with a big boot for the weekend shopping pilgrimage
to the supermarket. Australia as a nation also has a problem with rampant
obesity which continues unchecked, despite bicycle sales.
No, Aussies buy bicycles because their child wants one, and a few adults
think it is a good idea to be seen on one. After the first weekend of saddle
sores, it sits in the back of the shed until it is given away to the local
orphanage or to the kid next door.
In actual fact, bikes have outsold cars for eight years, so it’s nothing
new, but there are not more bikes visible on the road. Cars outnumber bikes
by at least 1000 to 1 on the streets. Ideas of getting fit soon diminish,
but since farting is an art form Down-under, the greenhouse gas called
methane continues to be produced unabated.
Statistics - I love ‘em!
F1 to stop when it rains?
For many years, the Indycar teams have not raced if the track was
considered to be wet. I was present at the Indycar race in Australia a few
years ago when it rained. We finished our race and then watched in amazement
as their safety car with the American Clerk of the Course on board groaned
around and around and around until eventually the rain stopped and the track
was considered dry enough to race on. We considered them wimps.
Now the overpaid EffWun wallahs have taken up the call. This year they have to
do without Traction Control (TC), so they are going to have to be disciplined in
opening the throttle in the wet, as electronics are not going to save them
clobbering the wall.
F1 drivers are now reportedly in “dialogue” with the FIA as fears mount over the
safety of racing in the wet without TC. David Coulthard is leading the gang,
telling Autosport, “Fernando Alonso aquaplaned off the road in Fuji last year,
even with TC. The electronics still couldn’t support him - and that will happen
a lot more without traction control because Formula One engines are very peaky.”
Coulthard also went on to say, “When you’re flat out at 180 mph you see simply
Auto Union with twin bicycle tyres!
I’m afraid I don’t have much sympathy for Coulthard’s cause. The concept of
motor racing is to drive as fast as you can, taking into consideration the
condition of the course, the weather and the vehicle. I take my hat off to the
drivers who can master the conditions. They are the best. I do not take my hat
off to the drivers who want everything to be made ‘easy’ for them because they
cannot master the conditions without an electronic ‘nanny’. If you can’t see,
David, then slow down until you can.
Felipe Massa has also jumped into the act saying, “In terms of safety, this is a
big step backwards (no TC). For sure, we will have more accidents and racing in
wet conditions will be very dangerous. I’ve spoken with Michael Schumacher and
several other drivers and they’ve told me it will be more dangerous driving a
car without TC now than it was in the past. Another race like Fuji would be very
To Felipe I would say that perhaps he should look at history, when the Mercedes
and Auto Union teams were racing before WWII in 600 horsepower monsters getting
the power down through something akin to bicycle tyres, without any electronics.
And they didn’t stop for rain.
For once I find myself agreeing with FIA head honcho Max Moseley who does not
believe that the absence of TC will compromise safety. Mosley believes that
speeds will be lower without TC, which means less chance of injury. Which gets
us back to racing within the conditions. If it is more slippery, then you drive
slower! If you can’t see what you’re doing then you slow down until you can. Do
we have to tell the so-called “best drivers in the world” this very obvious fact
of racing life?
The 2008 F1 official entry list
Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
1. Kimi Raikkonen
2. Felipe Massa
BMW Sauber F1 Team
3. Nick Heidfeld
4. Robert Kubica
ING Renault F1 Team
5. Fernando Alonso
6. Nelson Piquet
7. Nico Rosberg
8. Kazuki Nakajima
Red Bull Racing
9. David Coulthard
10. Mark Webber
Panasonic Toyota Racing
11. Jarno Trulli
12. Timo Glock
Scuderia Toro Rosso
14. Sebastien Bourdais
15. Sebastian Vettel
Honda Racing F1 Team
16. Jenson Button
17. Rubens Barrichello
Super Aguri F1 Team
18. Takuma Sato
19. Anthony Davidson
Force India Formula One Team
20. Adrian Sutil
21. Giancarlo Fisichella
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
22. Lewis Hamilton
23. Heikki Kovalainen
The numbers assigned to the drivers (other than the number 1 plate which
goes to the previous year’s champion) relate to the position of the team in
the manufacturer’s championship in 2007, which explains why McLaren have
been given 22 and 23, having been disqualified in 2007 and therefore “last”.
The pit garages are also assigned by the team numbers, hence Ferrari will be
at the first pit garage, whilst McLaren will be at the last.