Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

What did we learn from the British Grand Prix?

Well, we learned that Mark Webber can drive, and hasn’t lost any of his sarcastic Aussie humor. On his victory lap he caustically replied to his team’s congratulations by saying, “Not bad for a number 2 driver!” Team manager Christian Horner may be good at logistics, but he certainly does not know how to manage people. The front wing debacle on the Saturday in taking the wing from Webber and giving it to Vettel did nothing to patch up any cracks between the two garages. As they claim, “Red Bull gives you wings!” Yes, but Red Bull also takes them away!

The apparent “number 1”, Vettel showed that he is very fast, but has flaws. Unable to just stay calm and slot in behind Webber at the start and bide his time, the red mist came down and he lost the plot, track position, and the respect of all non-Germans.

By the way, did you see Webber’s car was sporting an “Amazing Thailand” sticker? Non-amazingly, TAT didn’t bother telling us.

Hamilton drove the wheels off his McLaren (again) and deserved 2nd place. Button kept his nose clean and lucked his way into 4th.

Silverstone showed what a good track, in a country with real motor racing history, can expect in the number of spectators. 85,000 on practice day Friday is more than has been the total for entire weekends at some of these new Bernie E inspired circuits. The total sell-out on the Sunday at Silverstone was 125,000 people. We can all see the difference, but will the FIA acknowledge it? Don’t bother waiting by the phone.

Ferrari goes from bad to worse. Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari Team Director saying, “We are not happy. We must not allow ourselves to give in to frustration. Clearly, the championship situation is looking complicated.” Stefano, the championship situation has long since left you. The Sulky Spaniard doesn’t even want you to talk to him on the pit to car radio any more, and Massa is slipping down the order every race. With my medical hat on, I believe that his brain injury from last year is the cause. It has removed the last millisecond judgments that an F1 driver needs to continuously compete at that level.

Massa should retire; however, he did give us the most dramatic pit entrance of all time. Not that it mattered, the Ferrari crew rushed out to greet him and then found they had left the wheels in the garage. Further to the Sulky Spaniard, his pass on Kubica was obviously against the rules, and Alonso knew it the minute he did it. Did he then cede the position unfairly gained? No he did not, but complained that he had been pushed off. However, why did it take the FIA many laps to take action? Nevertheless, after the world cup, it at least showed that Spain can kick balls, even if it can’t kick ass!

What can you say about Mercedes? Rosberg is showing that the car has potential. Schumacher is showing that his potential ran out three years ago. There is a limit to the number of excuses the team can put forward. Unless there is a very marked change in performance, Mercedes has wasted its money with its high priced driver.

Barichello, going for the honor of being the first driver to compete in 1,000 Grands Prix, showed great consistency to finish 5th for Sir Frank. Team mate Hulkenberg also collected one point for 10th, but has not lived up to his previously stellar reputation.

Kobayashi in the Sauber impressed, as did Sutil in Team Poppadum. Forget the rest.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that Iran received hundreds of thousands of British CKD cars in 1969. I asked what was it called in Iran and the UK? The answer was the Peykan in Iran and the Hillman Hunter in the UK. First in was Kevin Maguire.

So to this week. It is often thought that Henry Ford ‘invented’ the assembly line approach to building cars, but he did not. Who did pioneer the assembly line approach in cars? Clue 1901.

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]

Good luck!


84 percent of older drivers want refresher courses

The IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) has welcomed the new RAC report on older drivers which finds that 84 percent of drivers aged 70 or over acknowledge the value of a refresher driving course. What about you?

Ready for a run down the shops?

Neil Greig, IAM Director of Policy and Research said: “With ever-growing numbers of older drivers looking to stay safe and maintain independence, it is encouraging to see that there is a high degree of support for refresher courses.

“Older drivers have most of their crashes on high speed roads, particularly on slip roads and at junctions and roundabouts. Updating their skills to deal with these hazards and helping them to stay mobile for as long as possible should be the key aim of refresher courses. The IAM provides a Drive Check 55 refresher course which specifically address these issues (this is in the UK).

“The IAM does not support compulsory retesting or medicals as we believe they will force many perfectly safe drivers to give up driving too early. This loss of mobility makes them a far greater financial burden on society and less able to access services and support. GPs need more training and information to help them advise patients on giving up driving and refresher courses.”

I have to take the IAM to task here. In Australia there are compulsory medicals over the age of 70, and really, what is the problem with this? At least you know the fellow on your left should be able to see you! I do not see how it could possibly force “perfectly safe drivers to give up driving too early.”

True story, I had a lovely old chap come in to my surgery for his driving medical. He was 92 years old. I asked him why he still wanted a driver’s license at that age and he said that every Thursday he went to the supermarket to get his week’s supply of groceries. That was it. He never drove at night (when his visual problems would be a worry) and never went more than three km each way. The authorities would have had me fail him as his vision was not 100 percent, but I decided that the best medical test I could give him was to go as passenger. I left my rather perplexed nurse looking after the surgery and away we went. He was careful and mindful of his visual problems, but really drove well and safely. I gave him a pass on his promise to restrict the driving to daylight hours and between home and supermarket. Did I do wrong? I don’t think so - he came back the next year for his annual medical and he still drove with care.

As an aside, since for me, driving is much more than A to B, I would hate some doctor somewhere to tell me I could no longer drive either.


World’s Fastest One-Make Series

They say that motor racing is like having a bonfire in your backyard and inviting other drivers round to throw 100 dollar bills into the fire. The person with most hundred dollar bills left by the time the BBQ is out of coals is called the winner.

Cheap motor sport?

Well, here is the closest I can find to that and it is called the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo series. The 2010 season is featuring the Lamborghini Super Trofeo: a lightweight version of the Gallardo LP 560-4. The Super Trofeo has a reworked chassis and a power output of 419 kW (570 hp in the old money) from its V10 ‘Iniezione Diretta Stratificata’ engine. The race car features Lamborghini’s permanent four-wheel drive, making the Super Trofeo the only one-make, all-wheel-drive motorsport series in the world, and excluding F1 probably the most expensive.

And what is ‘Blancpain’? Hardly a household word (in my house at least). It is a luxury Swiss watch called Blancpain, which is the series’ title sponsor, creating a perfect partnership between two prestigious and highly-innovative brands (according to Lambo’s press handout). Its President and CEO, Marc A. Hayek, races a Super Trofeo following his successful 2009 race season, where he secured four race victories and finished second in the Pro-Am drivers’ classification.

That’s the way to do it. Buy your own series.


Initializing

This has nothing to do with getting hard disks to work, but a quick look at the number of cars that have been sold as initials only. Most of them were due to boardroom fallouts and bankruptcies!

Curved Dash Olds 1903

Remember the name Ransom Eli Olds, the man who made the Curved Dash Oldsmobile a household name in 1901. You can be excused if you can’t remember, but Ransom Eli Olds was squeezed out of his own company by the board, so he went off and formed a company called the REO. REO went on to make trucks through to 1975.

Remember the Stutz Bearcat? Performance cars built by Harry Clayton Stutz way back around 1912. Sold well and the Stutz name had a good following. However, Harry decided that Stutz needed competition and formed the HCS company, also producing sporty runabouts, but when HCS started producing taxicabs, that was the end. By 1927 Harry was out of business.


Korea’s Grand Prix circuit to finish on time?

There has been much speculation as to whether the new Korea International Circuit will be finished on time for the Korean GP in October. Yes, say the management! I just wonder.

I wonder even more about the decision to site this circuit, so far away from the principal cities in Korea. Seoul is South Korea’s capital city, and according to KIC, the circuit can be reached by air, car, bus and shuttle bus. For those arriving from outside of South Korea, the majority of flights will be routed through Seoul Incheon International Airport (ICN), with domestic flights from the nearby Kimpo International Airport (GMP) connecting to Kwangju Airport (KWJ).

If you think Gatwick North and Gatwick South represents a hassle, try this, as far as getting to the KIC. From Seoul Incheon (ICN): By Air: airport bus (approx US$5) or taxi to Kimpo International (GMP) - approx 45 minutes, then flight from Kimpo International (GMP) to Kwangju Airport (KWJ) on Asiana Airlines or Korean Air - approximately 1 hour. You’re not there yet, from Kwangju Airport (KWJ), the KIC can be reached by car (1 hour) or by KIC shuttle bus service, which will run from October 21-24 at regular intervals.

However, if car or bus suits you, then on arrival at Seoul Incheon (ICN), self-drive car hire with English GPS to KIC - approx four and a half hours, or catch the bus, approx 5 hours.

KOVA also released some photographs of KIC. Does it look to you as if it will be ready? I have my doubts.

The unfinished KIC