Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

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 so.
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 anyway.
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 it fell.
The next event is the dreadfully boring Hungaroring; however, perhaps Hamilton can throw a Spaniard in the works?

Autotrivia Quiz

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 [email protected]
Good luck!


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.

Peter 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.

Timo 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.

Derek 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 him focused.

Justin 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)