What did we learn from the German GP?
Well, it has taken some time, but Mark Webber has
finally opened up his F1 winning account. Remember there hasn’t been
an Aussie on the top step since Alan Jones, almost 30 years ago. He
also showed some of the humor that is part of the Australian
trademark, thanking “everyone in Australia and a few people who
doubted me too, so hello to them as well.” Having watched a very
young Mark Webber driving the wheels off a Formula Ford in the rain
at Mt. Panorama, I said then that he would make F1 and be a winner.
It just took a little longer than both of us had imagined!
Sebastian Vettel did not live up to the image he has built up over
the first half of the season, being stuck in traffic and seemingly
unable to pass anyone. He did, however, have the good grace to say,
“Congratulations to Mark, he was unbeatable today - he was quicker
than all of us, so he totally deserved to win.” He did. He did.
We also learned that Rooby Baby Barichello is not only the oldest
driver, but is now becoming menopausal. You get nowhere by publicly
blaming your team for anything. To go to the media with “To be
honest, I wish I could just go straight on the plane and go home. I
don’t want to talk to anyone in the team because I don’t want to
understand. All it will be from them is ‘blah, blah blah’. I’m not
saying they are favoring anyone, all I’m saying is that they have
given a good show in how to lose.” And while it’s raspberries to
Rooby, it was hats off to Ross Brawn who so diplomatically said in
response, “I’m sure once he (Barichello) has looked at the figures
then he will realize we were just not quick enough. Rubens set the
eleventh fastest lap time of the race and you just can’t win races
being eleventh fastest.” Nuff said.
Current leader in the championship, Jenson Button, was also nowhere
near the podium. Has the Brawn’s performance advantage come to an
end? It would appear so. With eight races still to run and 80 points
up for grabs, we may be looking at a cliff-hanger again. Let’s hope
One of the best performances of the race came from Adrian Sutil in
the Team Poppadum. Through to Q3 in Qualifying and even running as
high as second at one stage. He would have finished in the points
quite easily if he had not tangled with Kill-joy Kimi in the
Ferrari, who was later to retire with unspecified engine problems
What can you say about our current World Champion? The run down into
Turn 1 was never going to work, with Hamilton out braking himself
and getting himself tagged by Webber’s front wing. Lewis, write out
100 times, “You don’t win the race at the first corner, you only
lose the race at the first corner.” He was also reprimanded by his
team who told him over the pit to car radio, “You do the driving, we
will work out the strategy.” His McLaren team mate Kovalainen kept
his nose clean and did finish in the points, so it was possible.
Another driver with a clean nose was Ferrari’s Massa, who is looking
more and more as the Prancing Horse’s Number 1. To finish third was
a good effort from the Brazilian.
Much rumor about replacements for Piquet Jnr (Renault) and Seb
Bourdais (Roaring Tossers). The axe has been hovering all year. Time
The next event is the dreadfully boring Hungaroring; however,
perhaps Hamilton can throw a Spaniard in the works?
Last week I said let’s remember the ‘muscle car’ era of the mid-60’s. What was
the most powerful American muscle car in those days? This refers to stock
vehicles, off the showroom floor, not ones that have been modified after-market.
The correct answer was the 1965 Ford Galaxie Cammer 427 which put out 675 BHP
and you could drive it out the door of your friendly Ford dealership!
So to this week. The Ford Mustang is always thought of as a muscle car, but what
was its horsepower when it was released in 1964?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Brian Redman chatted up my wife: a postcard
from the Goodwood Festival of Speed
(By Simon Panton)
The Goodwood Festival of Speed is notable for the open paddocks where
the public are able to mingle with the cars and drivers. And people bring with
them different levels of knowledge of motor sport. Many visiting drivers have
registered their astonishment at the people, often children, who have not simply
only recognized them, but have brought books or photographs to be signed, and
have asked them detailed questions about races from years or decades previously.
Some spectators have only recently started to watch modern Formula 1 on
television, while others are died-in-the-wool addicts.
Fonda looking for neutral - pic Simon Panton.
I spoke to one on Friday who I know from previous encounters can quote AC Cobra
chassis numbers. Another German once watched me photographing Darren Turner and
asked, “You are taking many pictures of this man - who is he?” When I told him,
his eyes betrayed no recognition, so I explained that Darren had been a McLaren
test driver and had competed at Le Mans and in the British Touring Car
Championship. “Ah, in Germany ve haf only heard of Michael Schumacher,” he
laughed. He’d had a bit of a wasted journey then.
Anyway, about Brian Redman chatting up my wife... Michelle wanted to ask him for
an autograph but he was talking to someone and she didn’t like to interrupt.
She’s polite like that. I assured her she needn’t worry, Brian’s a very
approachable no-nonsense Northerner. So Michelle called him across and he looked
positively entranced. I suspect he hadn’t been asked for an autograph by a girl
for some years, only by middle-aged men who knew an uncomfortable amount of
detail about him. When he started hinting about signing girls’ body parts, I
decided it was time to remind him that he had a car to drive and the marshals
were waiting for him.
Every year I see something I never expected to see in my lifetime. The most
complete gathering of Auto Union and Mercedes “Silver Arrows” anywhere for over
60 years, for example, or a Formula 3 car made out of carrots. And I thought
making cakes out of carrots was weird.
Glock burning rubber - pic Simon Panton.
Peter Fonda came with a recreation of the Captain America chop he rode in Easy
Rider, to commemorate 40 years since the film was made. While we chatted about
motorbikes, policemen and Johnny Depp’s steamboat, I concluded that he looked
and spoke like he’d spent most of those 40 years off his chops on whatever
cheeky substances he could get his greedy hands on. He enjoyed himself so much
he asked Lord March if he could return next year to celebrate 41 years. The high
point of Fonda’s weekend came on Sunday afternoon, when he finally found neutral
on the bike.
Bell Porsche 917 - pic Simon Panton.
The turnout from modern F1 teams was poor this year. Ferrari, McLaren, Williams,
Toyota and Red Bull were there, as were Brawn GP who were unable to run a car up
the hill because of the FIA testing ban and, unlike the other teams, they don’t
have last year’s cars to get around the ban. Yes, burnouts on the drive of a
stately home count as testing, apparently. Timo Glock beat Mark Webber to the
Hooligan of the Weekend Award, not that such a thing exists, for the most
violent burnouts and doughnuts. Jenson Button comes to the Festival of Speed
every year but, not having an F1 car to thrash this time, was allowed to play
with a beautiful and priceless 1937 Mercedes W25, its supercharger producing a
banshee wail. The car’s enormous value and central throttle pedal will have kept
Law Jaguar XJR8 - pic Simon Panton.
In the F1 assembly area, David Coulthard spotted in the mirrors of his (Toro
Rosso STR1 painted as a) Red Bull, a small child peering through the fence at
him. He asked two of his mechanics to lift the boy over to him, shook his hand
and had a short conversation with him. It was a simple gesture, but it was good
to witness the birth of another motor sport fan.
Bruno Senna broke the gearbox in Uncle Ayrton’s McLaren MP4/4, to the dismay of
Lewis Hamilton who had been promised a go in his hero’s car on Sunday afternoon.
It was his lifelong ambition, he’d said, but there’s always next year.
A ceremony was held in the F1 assembly area to mark Frank Williams’ 40 years as
a team owner and principal. Surrounded by a selection of his old cars, and by
current and ex-drivers, Frank was embarrassed by the praise of Murray Walker and
Patrick Head. Another celebration was 40 years of the Porsche 917. Five-times Le
Mans winner Derek Bell drove his 1500 bhp, 5.4 liter turbocharged 917/30 such as
got the rules changed to ban it. That’ll teach them to show off!
Always spectacular, Justin Law set the fastest time up the hill for the fourth
consecutive year and is starting to fret that they’ll stop inviting him if he
keeps going fastest. His 44.40 second run up the tricky 1.16 mile hill (I make
that 1.86 kilometers) in the Jaguar XJR8 beat Gary Ward’s 44.64 in a Leyton
House - Judd.
A few years ago, Justin and his father Don, who prepare racing Jaguars,
transplanted the running gear from an XJ220 into a Ford Transit builder’s van
and Justin took that up the hill. That was damned fast too. The outright record
of 41.6 seconds was set ten years ago by Nick Heidfeld in a McLaren MP4/13,
making Justin’s times in a much bigger, heavier car on such a narrow drive look
very creditable indeed.
(Thank you Simon for the “postcard”, and all the enthusiasts in Thailand are
envious of you. Great pix too. Dr. Iain)