Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

What did we learn from the Brazil GP?

The first thing we learned from the Brazilian Grand Prix was that to make a race nail-biting, bring on the rain! The ending where Lewis Hamilton regained position on the last corner of the last lap to win the world championship was almost pure Hollywood!
Three drivers stood out from the mixed conditions. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) did not put a wheel wrong, and deserved to win a world championship, but it was not to be. Alonso (I have forgiven him and will not use the term the “Sulky Spaniard”) drove faultlessly as well and deserved his second place. Vettel (Toro Rosso) continues to impress and seems able to temper his youthful enthusiasm with his sheer car control. He will be a future champion.
Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) managed to scrape in to 5th and won his first world championship. It was not a great drive, but he kept it on the island, and did exactly what he had to do to win. I could not help but feel sorry for Massa’s family who initially thought that Felipe had won the prize when Hamilton was pushed back to 6th by Vettel, only to see Hamilton regain 5th at the final corner, relegating Massa to second. There were those who suggested that Toyota might have told Glock to move over, and there was even talk of an ‘envelope’. As our motoring editor at large, John Weinthal said after the race, “Nobody could offer Toyota an envelope large enough!” Toyota is, after all, the highest funded team in F1.
So much for the winners. How about the losers? David Coulthard (Red Bull) did it again! Another first lap crash to end a trail of first lap crashes in the 2008 season. DC stayed one year past his use-by date, I am afraid. Nelson Piquet Jnr. also ended his race in the wall, yet again. Renault cannot possible use him again in 2009. An envelope probably helped him into F1, but his results have not been worth it. Another of the losers - Sebastian Bourdais (Toro Rosso). By all reports, he seems a nice enough chap, but he certainly is not another Vettel. Having won so many CART championships in America, it makes one wonder about the standard of our American cousins, I’m afraid. And the prize for the most heralded talent that has come to nothing? Nico Rosberg (Williams). Both he and team mate ‘Knuckles’ Nakajima have consistently dropped down through the order all year. Williams has confirmed both these drivers for 2009. I wish them well. Another loser was BMW and Kubica in particular. Here was a driver with a win under his belt, who now cannot even get to the last group of qualifiers. A driver who was so much quicker than his team mate Heidfeld at the start of the year, not even a nose in front and now finishes behind him. And the final loser? Raikkonen. What is wrong with this man? In one of the two best cars and yet his last few drives have been lack-luster at best. Ferrari have signed him again for 2009. Let’s hope he wakes up for the start of the season.
So that was the final race of 2008. Memorable in many ways, with a result brought on by changeable weather conditions. To put the excitement back into F1 make wet tracks compulsory. A cheap sprinkler system on turn 1 will do!

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that the KdF turned out to be a very popular car. I asked who designed it, and who sponsored it? This was easy. The KdF was the initial name for the ‘People’s Car’, the Volkswagen, the well loved Beetle. It was designed by Dr Porsche and sponsored by the German government under Adolf Hitler.
So to this week. The winner of the Chinese GP received an extraordinary trophy which looked like a collection of Citroen grill emblems - the reversed double chevron. Forgetting about why the Chinese chose such an outlandish design, why did Andre Citroen choose the double chevron for his cars?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]
Good luck!


Come and get me, Copper!
It looks as if the Italian Police are set up to apprehend speedsters, even on the Autostrada Del Sol. The fuzz just picked up a new Gallardo LP560-4 Polizia donated to the Italian State Police by the factory.
This is a very short-sighted act by Automobili Lamborghini. It is now no longer worthwhile buying a Lambo to have fun, as apparently the coppers have one as well, and what’s more, theirs was free. Perhaps it might be better to save your lira and join the police force instead!

Police Lambo

Nissan reveal the new Zed car
The 370Z will be officially unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show which opens in mid-November; however, there have been plenty of ‘security leaks’ and even the publicity photographs are available on the Nissan websites. There are also some visual hints of the new GTR in the new Zed.
The new car rides on what is expected to be a shortened platform but wider track. Bigger wheels, bigger brakes and revised suspension components are also expected, as well as the 3.7 liter engine.

Nissan 370Z

Rossi to drive Ferrari F1
The rumors are flying again that the Italian motorcycle champion Valentino Rossi is going to drive for Ferrari. This is not an unfounded rumor, because Rossi is indeed going to drive the F2008, but it is only a fun test day for the two wheeled champion. However, with Italy’s favorite son driving in a race car from Italy’s favorite racing team always makes for good publicity.
The truth is that it is only a PR exercise. Rossi’s Yamaha bike has Fiat backing, and Fiat owns Ferrari. This does not need rocket science to put together the relationship and the photo opportunity. They did this a couple of years ago, and Rossi was definitely competitive (about one second off Michael Schumacher’s lap times), but he has already signed another two year contract with Yamaha, so you won’t be seeing Rossi lining up on the grid for the 2009 series in a Ferrari.
But it is an interesting thought!

Can we stand two motor shows a year?
Thailand has two motor shows each year. There is the internationally sanctioned Bangkok Motor Show at BITEC, then there is another one at the end of the year. Can we stand two shows? I do not believe so.
Australia has had motor shows in the capital cities, with the Sydney motor show and the Melbourne motor show being the biggest. The last Sydney show was memorable in the fact that many of the top brands stayed away, finding two shows in one year too expensive.
With the current financial downturn, I predict we will see the same here; however, it should be said that those with deep pockets (and even longer arms) could still afford to splash out, with buyers placing orders for four Ferraris, three Lamborghinis, three Maseratis and the Nissan GT-R, which landed six firm orders.