What did we learn from the Italian GP?
Monza was all about weight in qualifying. Lewis
Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes) went for lightness in qualifying to take
pole; however, that meant he had two fuel stops but could not pull
out a big enough gap from the eventual winner, Rubens Barichello. He
then compounded his problems by crashing out on the final lap. Ten
out of ten for effort. Zero out of ten for results.
Kovalainen in the second McLaren went for the different strategy of
more fuel and showed that he is a fast driver (fourth in
qualifying), but then showed he is not a racer, being beaten by
anyone who could come close to him. Perhaps he has a clause in his
contract docking his pay if he scratches the car during a race.
Kovalainen will not be racing for McLaren in 2010.
What should we say about the Brawns? Ran heavy in qualifying so they
had a one-stop fuel strategy, and Barichello (OAP) never put a wheel
wrong and won decisively from championship leader Jenson Button.
Ross Brawn remains the master tactician in F1 and being a clever
chap he will retain both his drivers for 2010.
Ferrari were lucky to get another podium for Raikkonen who was
elevated to third after Hamilton crashed out. Raikkonen was
delighted after the race and said, “Mmummmbblle, mummmbbblle,
mummmmbbbblllleeeee.” Some viewers missed the details of his
discourse, having fallen asleep.
Fisichella did well for his first outing for the Scuderia. Enormous
pressure - if he had crashed, he would have been made a laughing
stock, so to finish ninth was more than anyone should have expected.
With the stupid ‘no testing’ rule, it meant that he had to
familiarize himself with a new car with new switches and positions,
as well as different driving characteristics on the Friday of the
race weekend. Knowing where to brake and turn in for any particular
car requires a ‘second nature’ knowledge. You don’t get that in two
one and a half hour sessions on a Friday.
BMW, getting close to its swansong as an F1 entrant, did not cover
itself with glory. Heidfeld did finish, and didn’t hit anybody.
Kubica didn’t finish and did hit somebody - Mark Webber in the Red
Bull, effectively finishing Webber’s race, and his aspirations in
the world driver’s championships. Kubica said, “When we were going
into the first apex unfortunately again I was not able to avoid him
(Webber). I ended up with a damaged front wing, but am not sure how
this happened as it could have been with my fight with Mark or I
could have hit a kerb.” Don’t believe it, he knows it wasn’t a kerb.
However, notice should be made of the ridiculous front wings which
are wider than the track at the front, leaving the end plates
totally vulnerable. Am I the only person to see this?
Team Poppadum had another great day. Sutil’s day in fact, with
another great qualifying performance to be second on the grid and
his fourth place finish another solid points performance. Tonio
Liuzzi was also doing well in his first outing until the drive
failed in the transmission, which really tore the crutch out of his
new suit, complete with matching silk shirt and tie in 24 hours.
Renault claimed a fifth for Alonso. I wonder if they will be
claiming the fifth amendment at the FIA hearing in a week’s time,
against the charge of race fixing?
Red Bull had a day to forget, Webber exiting on lap 1 courtesy of
Kubica, while Vettel got through to the end in eighth and one point,
effectively kissing his chances of a world title goodbye.
Toro Rosso and Williams were employed as mobile chicanes, which they
I believe Toyota, not having a KERS system, opted to use the new
Thai Camry hybrid system, but found that the top speed was not what
was expected, releasing N2O2 (laughing gas) into the cockpit. The
two drivers then began racing between themselves, resulting in a
complete farce. Toyota-San had both drivers on the carpet on Monday
Last week I mentioned that the GT40 was named because it was 40 inches high.
Ford has recreated the GT40 and has called it the Ford GT. I asked what height
is this new one? The correct answer was 44.3 inches. Matthew was first in on
this one. Well done.
So to this week. What prototype car was driven by Ayrton Senna who declared it
to be “a little fragile,” so the manufacturer increased the rigidity by 50
percent? Clue: this was not an F1 car.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Making light of the Prince of Darkness
The “Prince of Darkness” in the automotive field has always been
Lucas electrics. British cars were famous for their electrical problems, which
always ended up at the feet of Joseph Lucas. It is said that Lucas invented the
intermittent windscreen wiper. They also invented the intermittent headlights,
intermittent tail lights, intermittent petrol pumps and used the same technology
to produce blinking indicators.
However, there are some people (often called ‘masochists’) who restore British
cars and have to try and unravel the Lucas electrical system. But now, help is
at hand with a new book called Classic British Car Electrical Systems by Rick
This new book from Veloce Publishing’s Essential Manual series, shines a light
on the subject, system by system, including the murkier corners and makes sure
classic car owners can make all the right connections to keep their cherished
possessions running smoothly for decades to come.
Classic British Car Electrical Systems puts particular emphasis on the Lucas,
Smiths and SU components that were almost ubiquitous in British cars between
1950 and 1980. Each major system is given its own chapter, providing theory,
component parts and full system operating explanations.
Modifications are suggested for those wishing to bring performance and
reliability up to more modern standards. Fault-finding charts, cross referenced
to the appropriate pages in the book, are provided throughout. Amazingly, Lucas
does not take up all the pages on fault finding!
Classic British Car Electrical Systems by Rick Astley, (ISBN 9781845842154 and
one penny short of 25 GBP).
The publishers say the book has:
Get-you-home help provided throughout
Each system circuit explained with easy-to-follow diagrams
Fault-finding guides for each major system
Component evolution explained
Clear photographs aid component identification
Explanations, with unique original diagrams, of how systems work
Differences between home and export models described and explained
Repair procedures for expensive or hard-to-find components
Modification suggestions to improve safety, reliability and drivability
Basic theory to help diagnose unique problems
You can view sample pages and sample text on Veloce’s website
http:/www.veloce.co.uk or contact John on 01305 260 068/e-mail [email protected]
Porsche re-creates the classic 911 RS
With VW taking control of Porsche, there are many who are
wondering if the sports car maker will be able to build exotics any more. If
there is a clamp-down, the new 911 Sport Classic may be the last “great’
sports car from the Porsche marque.
Just as the 1973 RS Carrera with its ‘ducktail’ spoiler, was the fastest and
most powerful naturally aspirated Porsche in its day, the new super-exclusive,
retro 911 Sport Classic, also sports a ‘ducktail’ and is a non-turbo. With the
projected price tag being more than that for the GT3 RS, the 911 Sports Classic
will certainly be exclusive.
Limited to a production run of just 250 units, and under development at the
Porsche Exclusive specialist vehicle unit for the past three years, the Sport
Classic has emerged featuring the ‘ducktail’ and ‘Fuchs-style’ custom-made alloy
wheels from the same era.
The 1973 RS was a 2.7 liter, and in its day, the performance was shattering, and
I have been lucky enough to race two of them, but this new car has a more
powerful version of the current Carrera S’s direct-injection 3.8 liter boxer six
It develops 300 kW of power at 7,300 rpm (up 17 kW over the Carrera) and an
unchanged 420 Nm of torque - available from 4200-5600 rpm - and drives the rear
wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox (with shorter shift travel). All-wheel
drive and the PDK are not available. This means that the 911 Sports Classic has
been made for the ‘real’ drivers out there.
In terms of outright acceleration, Porsche claims the Sport Classic can reach
100 km/h from standstill in 4.6 seconds - a tenth quicker than the Carrera S
manual - and 200 km/h in 14.8 seconds. It has the same maximum speed of 302km/h
and returns an identical 10.6 L/100 km on the combined European NEDC standard.
Other features include the Sport Chrono Package Plus launch control fitted as
standard, along with the ‘special variant’ of the Porsche Active Suspension
Management (PASM) sports suspension which reduces ride height 20 mm and adds a
rear limited-slip differential. Lightweight, 350 mm diameter Porsche Ceramic
Composite Brakes (PCCB), using carbon-fiber reinforced ceramics are also
included, along with six-piston aluminium monobloc brake calipers up front and
four-piston calipers at the rear.
The 19-inch wheels, complete with a high-gloss black paint finish on the rim
centre, are a throwback to the classic Porsche-designed Fuchs rims first seen in
the 1960s and come with the largest wheel dimensions on all non-GT 911s: 8.5J x
19 with 235/35 ZR19 tyres at the front, and 11J x 19 on 305/30 Z-rated rubber at
If the engine note is not pleasing for you (and the old one used to ‘drum’
inside the car) there is a 385 watt Bose surround-sound stereo, developed for
Porsche and tailored to the acoustic conditions within the 911, including 13
speakers (and an active subwoofer) plus a seven-channel digital amplifier.
Oh yes, the build number appears on a motif near the glove box, and on
chrome-plated doorsill trim. To get one, be prepared to dig deep. I estimate
something around 25-30 million THB.