Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

What did we learn from the Chinese GP?

Well, we learned that Kimi Raikkonen is not a robot. He CAN actually smile and laugh, which he did at the post-race conference when he was asked, “With team orders not being allowed it is difficult not to influence the outcome of the race, so how did you handle that?”
Kimi replied (who burst out laughing) “Like I said, I know what the team expects and I know what we want which are results. It is racing and I have nothing to lose or win in a way. I am driving for the team, so it is a normal situation.”
The post-race conference also gave us the most incisive (or the most inept) question of the year from Jia Chen of Soccer News China, who asked Massa, “Felipe, in most parts of the race, you were often slower than Lewis and Kimi, even when you were using softer tyres while they were using harder ones. However, Kimi was often able to keep up a similar lap speed to Lewis. What was wrong with your car?” Let’s hope he knows more about soccer!
Actually, the race was a giant yawn. Fortunately, we turned the volume up and that kept us awake, as the action on the track certainly did not. Another Hermann Tilke designed track, designed to produce boring races.
Other than Raikkonen gifting second place to his team mate Massa, the first four were exactly as they were on the grid before the race started. Alonso in his lonely fourth position was not able to help Massa, despite his public announcement that he would do anything to stop Hamilton. The sulky Spaniard of 2008 remains the sulky Spaniard of 2007.
The Italian stallion Fisichella showed his Vindaloo special had plenty of fire, making it difficult for anyone to pass, but with his fastest lap two seconds adrift of the flying Hamilton, he was never really in the hunt.
Trulli, the other Italian in the Toyota, was hit by Bourdais on the first lap and so ended his race, whilst his team mate Glock did manage to finish in the points in 7th place, behind the two BMW’s of Heidfeld and Kubica.
The drivers in danger of not having a seat in 2009 did nothing to make their team managers reconsider their fate. Bourdais (Toro Rosso) once again hit someone, and was slower than his team mate Vettel. Piquet was again considerably slower than Alonso, but at least he didn’t hit anything. Pity, it might have brightened up the race. Kovalainen continues to less than impress. A full second slower than Hamilton in the same car. He is not in the position to assist Hamilton in any way. I would not be surprised to see Ron Dennis relegate Kovalainen to test driver and bring in someone else. How about Hulkenberg? He’s German and the Mercedes side of the McLaren equation would be pleased. And what about Honda? If Barichello is to get the chop as popular rumor has it, then where is Button, who has been consistently outdriven by Barichello?
So we go to Brazil in one week’s time, where the spectators will probably lie down on the track if Hamilton is in front of home-town hero Massa. Stay tuned.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I noted that not all ‘replicas’ were made by other manufacturers. Sometimes the original manufacturers built their own replicas. There was one famous ‘replica’ which began came out post WWII and the design team and most of the mechanicals were ‘liberated’ from Germany. This replica was very expensive and cost six times the price of an MG TC for example. It also came third at Le Mans, and after that effort, the factory then made its own replicas of the Le Mans car. I asked what was the name of these cars? It was the Frazer-Nash Le Mans replicas.
So to this week. Frederick and George Lancaster used an all-wood unitary construction in 1922-23, but never used it in production. Another manufacturer did 38 years later. Which one was it?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]
Good luck!


The Jetsons are coming
Ever watched the cartoon called The Jetsons? Re-runs of the re-runs are still on the local cable networks, but in these episodes, driverless vehicles take the Jetson family to school and work. Are we approaching this ourselves? Yes, says William Kates, writing for AP:
“To Jacob Roberts, podcars - or PRTs, for personal rapid transit - represent an important component in the here-and-now of transportation.
“It’s time we design cities for the human, not for the automobile,” said Roberts, president of Connect Ithaca, a group of planning and building professionals, activists and students committed to making this upstate New York college town the first podcar community in the United States.
With the oil crisis reaching a zenith and federal lawmakers ready to begin fashioning a new national transportation bill for 2010, Roberts and his colleagues think the future is now for podcars - electric, automated, lightweight vehicles that ride on their own network separate from other traffic.
Unlike mass transit, podcars carry two to 10 passengers, giving travelers the freedom and privacy of their own car while reducing the use of fossil fuels, reducing traffic congestion and freeing up space now monopolized by parking.
At stations located every block or every half-mile (800 meters), depending on the need, a rider enters a destination on a computerized pad, and a car would take the person nonstop to the location. Stations would have slanted pull-in bays so that some cars could stop for passengers, while others could continue unimpeded on the main course.
“It works almost like an elevator, but horizontally,” said Roberts, adding podcar travel would be safer than automobile travel.
The podcar is not entirely new. A limited version with larger cars carrying up to 15 passengers was built in 1975 in Morgantown, West Virginia, and still transports West Virginia University students.
Next year, Heathrow Airport outside London will unveil a pilot podcar system to ferry air travelers on the ground. Companies in Sweden, Poland and South Korea are already operating full-scale test tracks to demonstrate the feasibility. Designers are planning a podcar network for Masdar City, outside Abu Dhabi, which is being built as the world’s first zero-carbon, zero-waste city.
Meanwhile, more than a dozen cities in Sweden are planning podcar systems as part of the country’s commitment to be fossil-fuel-free by 2020, said Hans Lindqvist, a councilman from Varmdo, Sweden, and chairman of Kompass, an association of groups and municipalities behind the Swedish initiative.
Skeptics, however, question whether podcars can ever be more than a novelty mode of transportation, suitable only for limited-area operations, such as airports, colleges and corporate campuses. Detractors, mainly light-rail advocates, say a podcar system would be too complex and expensive.”

Good news for Ferrari distributors
What’s the difference between a banker and a pigeon?
A pigeon can still put a deposit on a Ferrari.

Not bad for kicking balls!
A top-of-the-range, fully equipped and customized Bentley Arnage T, previously owned by David Beckham, is up for sale on Auto Trader, the UK’s no 1 motoring website and magazine.
The vehicle was built especially for David Beckham and is the car he used when he went to collect his OBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace. The LA Galaxy star made the journey from ‘Beckingham Palace’ to Buckingham Palace in 2003 to collect an OBE for services to football in the Queen’s birthday honors list.
At the time Beckham said: “It’s not just for me but for Manchester United, England, all of my team-mates and my family.”
In fact, David Beckham’s old Bentley Arnage T is said to be one of only two Bentleys pictured on the walls of the factory - the other one is the Queen’s.
David’s old Bentley is definitely a bit of ‘posh’ spice - he fitted more than 70,000 worth of extras, including wife Victoria’s name embroidered into the rear centre ‘cushion box’.
But this is just the start… Beckham ordered a huge spec for his Bentley, which includes:
• Folding rear picnic tables
• Polished wheels
• Bespoke cup-holders to both front door pockets
• ‘Le Mans’ style wing vents
• Alpine hi-fi with sub-woofers
• Half wood/half leather steering wheel
• Roof mounted illuminated vanity mirrors to rear compartment
• Rear fridge
• Diamond cross handles
• Televisions in the rear headrests with bespoke covers
He even had a child seat embroidered with his son’s name, Brooklyn. In fact, Beckham ordered two child seats - one with ‘Brooklyn’ stitched in - in a luxurious diamond quilted ‘Barley’ hide, and finished the remainder of the Bentley’s interior in the same colour.
The car cost 170,000 brand new and has more than 70,000 worth of extra kit fitted, but you can snap up Beckham’s old Bentley for just 99,000 - which has covered only 25,000 miles and comes complete with a full service history. I can hardly wait!
If you are really interested it is up for sale at Motor Village in Dudley - for more information, contact Chris Foxall on 01384 411255

Beckham’s Bentley