Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

What did we learn from the Monaco GP?

The simple answer is ‘not much’. The Monaco circuit remains anything but the ‘jewel in the crown’ of F1. If motor sport is all about drivers passing and repassing each other (called “racing”), then you don’t get any of that at Monaco.
What you do get is ‘nouveau riche’ parading around in their Gucci’s and Prado’s enjoying their tax free money, making sure they are seen, whilst all the time hiding from their own country’s taxation systems. Sorry, but that is not what I want to see at 7 p.m. on a Sunday night. Perhaps Bernie, bless his silver locks, should try running it at night to produce another glittering and totally boring spectacle like that apology for a Grand Prix called Singapore.
Monaco produced another of the wins by the pole sitter, though with all credit to Button in his Brawn GP, he was never challenged at any stage. It was not a case of rivals being unable to pass, they were never ever close enough to try. Button is looking very strong in the championship for 2009.
Current world champion, Lewis Hamilton, is looking anything but a champion. His rapid rise to stardom and an equally speedy fall seems to have eroded his confidence so much, he is now making mistakes. World champions are not supposed to hit the barriers. World champions are also able to find their way past other drivers. Hamilton started at the rear of the field after crashing in Qualifying. He struggled to finish in 12th place, only getting up the order after six drivers crashed out in front of him. The comparison to Michael Schumacher must be made. In 2006, Schumacher was relegated to the rear of the field at Monaco after it was decided that he had deliberately blocked Alonso in qualifying. During the race he fought his way up to 5th at the flag. Say no more.
Barichello in the other Brawn GP drove well to make it a 1-2 for his team, but even he must now admit that his place is riding shotgun.
Ferrari is back, with strong showings from Laughing Boy Kimi and Massa, holding out the fast finishing Webber in the Red Bull. Wunderkinder Vettel blotted his copybook for once, but he is still on a learning curve. He’ll bounce back next meeting, even though his car did not at Monaco!
The crashing trio of Piquet (Renault), Kovalainen (McLaren) and Nakajima (Williams) did not disappoint. They crashed out as usual. Quite honestly if young Nelsinho in the Renault did not have a famous F1 father, he wouldn’t be there. And he won’t be when the money runs out! Kovalainen continues to under-perform, while Nakajima is fast and very reliable - he can reliably be expected to finish in the safety fence.
While the FIA insists on a cap on spending, Toyota’s results at the bottom of the Monaco field show that it doesn’t matter. The big spend has not brought Toyota a win. It also did not make Honda a front runner. Let the teams spend whatever they like, as the money always trickles down to the pockets of the general public, the key to global financial recovery.
BMW is also in more bother than Flash Gordon. Team Poppadum showing them the way is not what the German giant expected. And with the other German car manufacturer showing the world that it is they who are with Brawn GP, this must be doubly galling. Do not be surprised if BMW and Toyota do not line up next year.
The next meeting is June 7 in Turkey.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what did the radiator badge of the Packard look like? A trick question, I’m afraid. The Packards never had a radiator badge!
So to this week. What and when was the first private car designed and built in the USSR?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]
Good luck!


100 mpg with a hybrid
At the largest annual gathering of electric vehicle experts, US company Bright Automotive unveiled the world’s first purpose-built 100 mpg (2.3 l/100 km) vehicle aimed at commercial and government fleets. Named the IDEA, the multi-use vehicle falls into the light truck classification. Bright Automotive (www. plans to produce 50,000 IDEAs annually by 2013, providing businesses and government agencies with a highly durable, cost-effective and eco-friendly new vehicle, and creating thousands of jobs. At the event, Bright Automotive displayed a fully operating concept version of the vehicle.

Bright Automotive
fuel miser

“We created the IDEA by starting with a clean sheet of paper, listening to customer needs, and using breakthrough technologies and materials,” said John E. Waters, CEO and president of Bright Automotive. “The IDEA not only delivers revolutionary efficiency, it offers a lower cost of ownership than competing vehicles. Quite simply, no other automotive product is available that directly saves customers money and affects their triple bottom line: economics, people, and sustainability.”
Indiana-based Bright Automotive said the IDEA will be 5 to 10 times more efficient than current commercial fleets. The vehicle will save a typical customer more than 1,500 gallons of gasoline and thousands of dollars in fuel costs annually. For the 100 largest fleets in the U.S., each having on average over 1,000 vehicles like the IDEA in their fleet, the savings would average over $3 million a year.
To achieve groundbreaking fuel efficiency, Bright Automotive is building the IDEA from the ground-up and maximizing platform efficiency by incorporating lightweight materials, advanced aerodynamics and low-rolling resistance tires. On a full charge, the IDEA uses battery power for the first 50 km, using little or no gasoline and less than $1 of electricity. After this, it functions like other hybrids.
High volume production of the IDEA will begin in the U.S. by the end of 2012 - with an annual run rate of 50,000 units beginning in 2013. To produce its vehicle, the company plans to create over 5,000 jobs - directly and through suppliers - by 2013.

Money’s tight at Ferrari auction
Not even a world record price of $12 million paid for a 250 Testa Rossa could inspire buyers to forget the global-economic crisis at the Leggione e Passione auction at the home of Ferrari, Maranello in Italy, with 11 of the high-profile cars failing to reach their reserve prices.
This did result in a few bargains, including an ex-Alain Prost 641/2 Formula One car which sold for €320,000, an alloy-bodied 1966 275 GTB for €725,000 and a 1985 288 GTO for €350,000.

Record breaking $12 million Ferrari

Daimler Benz buys into Tesla
Another nail in the petroleum coffin (and one skyscraper less in Dubai?), as Daimler Benz buys 10 percent of Tesla, the American high performance electric car manufacturer.
This will show the world that the Tesla is not just high performance hype, but is a real and viable automotive group. With the sports car already on sale, and a four door coupe (Tesla S) slated for release in 2012, with a touted 500 km range and a plug-in recharge, Daimler can see the advantages in getting in with the advanced technology used by Tesla.

Tesla S

The Tesla sports is capable of exceeding 320 km on one charge of its lithium-ion batteries (Tesla claims it will do nearly 400 km on a charge), but also blasts from zero to 60 mph (97 kph) in 3.9 seconds, true supercar times.
Tesla CEO and Product Architect Elon Musk said, “We are looking forward to a strategic cooperation in a number of areas including leveraging Daimler’s engineering, production and supply chain expertise. This will accelerate bringing our Tesla Model S to production and ensure that it is a superlative vehicle on all levels.”

What is happening with EffWun?
What indeed! If Ferrari, Renault, Toyota and Red Bull do not sign up with the FIA by today (29th May), then they are (theoretically) out of the F1 competition for 2010.
The impasse arose because at the end of April, the FIA (read Max Mosley) foisted a two tier formula on the teams, with a very much “like it or lump it” approach. The manufacturers returned with a “we don’t like it, you dump it” reply.
In a nutshell, the FIA said that if teams limit their budget to $60 million cap, then those teams can have unlimited engines, freedom to have moveable wings, unlimited wind tunnel use, more powerful KERS and unlimited testing. Teams which opt not to be budget capped are banned from in-season testing, no moveable wings, limit on number of engines and a less powerful KERS system.
In other words this produces a two tier formula. And if F1 is the pinnacle of motor sport and engineering brilliance, just how can there be two different (pinnacles?) categories running under the one classification?
What does this mean? In cricketing terms it means that the high budget team is only allowed to field eight men, whilst the capped team can field 13 men. In other words, a farcical situation.
To radically change the regulations in the formula should result after discussions with FOTA (Formula One Teams Association) over a period and consensus be reached. This has not happened. Ferrari then tried to question the FIA’s ability to ride rough-shod over the teams in the French courts. Unfortunately for Ferrari, the French courts didn’t see it their way and denied the injunction, giving Max the upper hand.
Max is now saying he doesn’t care if Ferrari doesn’t sign up for 2010, as he has other teams (Wirth Research, Lola, USF1, Epsilon Euskadi, RML, Formtech, Campos, iSport) all wanting to come in with the $60 million cap. Most of these new teams with a swag with $60 million have no history in F1 and to expect them to be immediately competitive is like living in fairy land. It costs more than $60 million to build and man a wind tunnel, so their budget cap is gone already. The freedoms described in the budget cap sound good, until you work out that they cannot afford to build, test and use those freedoms!
It smacks of last year’s attempt to make the sport look “green” and saving the planet’s environment by having green grooves in the tyres! This new budget cap, in the name of saving the planet’s money, is more than faintly ridiculous. If the manufacturers want to throw money at their teams, then so be it. It does not necessarily mean to say they will win. Look at Honda with its $400 million a year, for example. Toyota and Renault have already said they are tightening their belts as the parent company slides into the red. And the biggest spender Ferrari has had the worst start to a season since Benito Mussolini decided to take a trip to Switzerland in 1945.
The next couple of weeks will be interesting.

Collectors opportunity
For sale: Honda NSX ’92 model; Porsche 964 with 993 cabrio body ’94 model; Lamborghini Diablo booked as ’97. Very sensible prices. Contact Tony Thorley 089 938 7188.