What did we learn from
the Turkish Grand Prix?
In my opinion, the best GP we have had this year.
The usual complaint of “high speed procession with no passing” could
not be leveled at the Turkish GP. There was plenty of passing and
repassing and the interest was high, right to the final flag. Massa
deserved his win (I shall refrain from using the “Turkish Delight”
header) and has elevated himself into a world champion contender
again. But with the little Brazilian’s history of dropping the ball,
I would still put the money on the deadly dull Raikkonen (though he
does let his hair down in private, I am assured).
For the GP there was additional staff hired - dog catchers! In the
GP2 race before the GP, not one, but two, stray dogs came on the
scene, with one bowled over by young Senna, ending Senna’s charge
through the field, and not much good for the dog either! This is
probably the main reason why we will never see a Grand Prix in
The usual first corner carnage. Will they never learn that you do
not win the race at the first corner, you only lose the race at the
first corner? Fisichella is definitely a slow learner, that being
the third Turkish GP that he has crashed out on the first lap. This
time it was a kamikaze move on Nakajima, as a payback for Pearl
Harbor or something. Fisi should have learned to control the ‘red
mist’ by now.
Honda were celebrating the 257th race for Rubens Barichello (and
about the 200th since he was competitive). The Honda is no front row
competitor, but neither is Rubens. This has to be his last year in
Eff Wun, surely!
Sebastian Vettel in his Roaring Tosser actually managed to see the
chequered flag after four successive retirements on the first lap.
However, he did manage to pick up a puncture this time, and the fuel
hose didn’t. He will be wondering what he has to do to get a clean
race. Joining another team might be the only answer.
Those who can drive do not seem to suffer from the ‘dirty air’ that
lesser drivers do. Hamilton in particular did not appear to have
that problem, and neither did his team mate Kovalainen. Perhaps
McLaren have invented an air filter for the front wing. Trulli, on
the other hand, had so much dirty air, saying, “With these cars as
soon as you get two lengths behind the other car you just lose grip
and start going off. I kept pushing as hard as possible all race but
this was as good as we could do today.”
We learned before the race that the (Not So) Super Aguri team had
become yet another F1 statistic, joining that long list of teams
that were no longer on the F1 grid. That list, as long as your arm,
includes Alfa Romeo, Arrows, AGS, ATS, Benetton, Brabham, Ensign,
Fondmetal, Hesketh, Jaguar, Lola, Lotus, Minardi, Penske, Prost,
Simtek, Stewart, Tyrrell and Zakspeed. That is just a few of them,
and almost every one of them went bust. F1 eats racing teams and
spits out the bits like a North-eastern betel nut chewer! Team
principal Aguri Suzuki said of F1, “It’s a piranha club and I kind
of feel that I don’t want to stick my fingers back in.” You are
correct Aguri-San. Farewell Super Aguri, the scrap heap is just
behind the Armco fencing.
The Max Mosley saga continues, with Max suing anybody who looks
sideways at him. But what has been forgotten (or ignored), is who
set him up? The News of the World doesn’t put a pin in the London
phone book and say, “Let’s get him!” Somebody knew, and somebody
wanted to get even. Ron Dennis swears on a stack of bibles it wasn’t
him. So which of Max’s enemies was it?
What is my name?
Last week I mentioned Jaguar and its new XF. Think back to
when Jaguar was winning Le Mans, three times in a row, with the first two times
being factory entered racers and the third victory was from a privately entered
Jaguar. After Jaguar officially withdrew from racing, the factory had some
racers left over. The question last week was, what did they do with them? An
easy one - they became the Jaguar XKSS. A wonderfully impractical road car, of
which only 16 were completed by November 1956 after the fire at the Jaguar
Brown’s Lane factory in February. It had no boot (or trunk if you are from the
left hand side of the Atlantic Ocean), all you got was a spare wheel and twin
164 liter fuel tanks. You luggage was held in a single suitcase perched on the
luggage rack on the tail of the car. But I would certainly make room for one in
So to this week. Identify the car in this photograph. Clue - it is French.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Zero to 100 kph under 3 seconds, with
What has to be the fastest road car ever, has been released in the
UK. Called the Caparo T1, an English road racer that features safety systems and
materials developed for F1. Caparo T1 is described by the manufacturer as a
track-biased production car. With zero to 100 clicks under three seconds, it has
The T1 has a 2.4 liter V8 aluminium engine, generating 358 kW of power at 10,000
rpm. It weighs 570 kg and is rear engined and rear wheel driven with a six speed
sequential gearbox with the now universal steering wheel paddleshift.
It is built as a right hand drive in its tight, two-seat cockpit (although you
could probably get two go-go dancers in it as well as yourself, making it a
three seater for Thailand).
It’s just 1076mm high and most of the bodywork is well under that level and it
can produce cornering forces of 3G. It has a carbon-composite tub with a carbon
nose cone designed to absorb energy in a crash and protect the driver and
“Even though the T1 is exceptionally light, the very high speeds it is capable
of means that conventional road car safety systems can’t manage the extreme
levels of kinetic energy that could be involved in a crash,” says Ben
Scott-Geddes, a co-designer along with Graham Halstead. “To solve this we have
incorporated many of the safety systems proven in F1, where drivers regularly
walk away from horrific accidents that would be fatal in normal road cars,”
(which worked very well for Heikki Kovalainen a couple of weeks ago in Spain
where he crashed his McLaren at around 200 kph).
Caparo insists that its customers have to attend a training course that will
help them safely enjoy the car’s performance.
Our Hilux Vigo impresses the Aussies
Toyota Australia was very quick to trumpet the fact that the
Toyota Hilux Vigo became the best selling vehicle in Australia last month:
the first time a pick-up has achieved the feat.
Sales of Hilux 4x2 and 4x4 models totaled 3,814 vehicles in April, an increase
of more than 27.1 percent on the same month last year. “Demand has been running
hot for vehicles such as Hilux because of the mining boom and the easing of the
drought in many places,” said the company’s divisional manager of national
sales, Tony Cramb. “Consumers are clearly turning to vehicles with a proven
track record of reliability and durability along with a reputation for fuel
economy and affordable running costs,” he said.
There can be no doubts left in anybody’s mind as to the quality of the Thai auto
industry’s products. With all the major manufacturers now with manufacturing
divisions in Thailand, the auto industry is certainly one of Thailand’s leaders
in the export market.
However, not everybody is happy. There is pressure on Australian politicians to
review the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Thailand because whilst the Hilux
gets into Australia through the FTA with minimal duty, Australian vehicle
exports to Thailand have not been as fortunate, with the Thai government
slapping on high duties because the Aussie made vehicles such as the Holden
Commodore and Ford Falcon all have large engines. This is against the spirit of
an FTA say the Aussies, and they want the terms of the agreement reviewed. So
far, all the export traffic has been one way, and local Australian manufacturers
are still priced out of the Thai market. This year, for example in January, the
Thai vehicle exports were 38,000 vehicles, an increase year on year of 40
percent. I can guarantee you have not seen 40 percent more Holden Commodores and
Ford Falcons over here.