Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

What did we learn from Brazil?

Well, we learned that Nico Hulkenberg does have the speed, even if he hasn’t got the dollars to secure his seat at Williams. He has taken a little while to settle into F1, but his qualifying time of one second quicker than Vettel and Webber in the Red Bulls was simply sensational! He deserves to retain his seat at Williams, but Sir Frank has hardly been the patron saint of his drivers, having sacked a couple of world champions who dared to ask for a pay rise.

With much hanging on the result, as far as the World Driver’s Championship (WDC) was concerned, it would have been nice to report that it was a cliff-hanger with tooth and nail scraps right the way through to the end. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Quite frankly, it was once more a high speed procession brought about by slower cars such as Hulkenberg’s Williams in race trim (as opposed to qualifying spec) or Sutil’s Force India holding up the pack.

Much made in the press about threats to Jenson Button, which was just a harmless bunch of gun-toting Brazilian peasants taking a stroll in shanty town, without much else. However, the would-be Brazilian robbers tried more on the Sauber team. Did they not do their homework and find that the Sauber team has no money? All they got were two back packs.

An amazing race for the Russian Vitaly Petrov in the Renault. He did not hit anything or anyone. A first, surely. His team mate Kubica had an inglorious race, stuck in traffic and getting nowhere. I did mention that it was a procession, didn’t I? But finishing is what Vitaly will be doing after this week’s Abu Dhabi. May as well get the packing done during the week, as we won’t see you next year, no matter how many Lada’s you bring with you.

For me, the ‘star’ of the lack-luster race was Jenson Button. 11th to 5th was not a bad effort, especially while carrying a loaded AK 47 in the cramped cockpit.

Much is written in the popular press as to how fast and uncatchable were the two Red Bulls of Vettel and Webber. It might be of interest to note that the fastest race laps were set by Hamilton (McLaren), Alonso (Ferrari) and Button (McLaren). Webber and Vettel were only fourth and sixth fastest.

The safety car rules are quite incomprehensible. The order behind the safety car does not reflect the real order in the race at that point. Webber in fourth behind two back markers, even though he was actually in second, and Hamilton way down the back, even though he was in reality fourth.

Through the wonders of the internet, we watched the BBC coverage of the race, with no interruptions; however, we can now appreciate the abuse heaped on the head of Jonathan Legard, the BBC talking head. Where did they get him from? A kindergarten program? I object to being talked down to and listen to inanities such as, “He’s coming out of the pits now,” when I can see that for myself.

Problems with loose wheels for Massa (Ferrari) and Barichello (Williams). Hopefully the FIA Health and Safety committee didn’t notice this, or otherwise there will be an edict stating that changing wheels is banned for 2011.

Local lad making good!

Remember this name - Sandy Stuvik. I have mentioned Sandy before, but he is now officially the strongest hope that Thailand has of having a representative in Formula 1 in the future. Still only 15 years of age, Sandy has been tops in every category he has competed in, from go-karts through to Formula Renault. Yes, at 15 years of age he has just won the Asian Formula Renault series, even though there are still two rounds to go! In the 12 races in the Asian series the Pizza Company/Dacon sponsored young Norwegian/Thai driver has been on the podium 12 times, a feat no other driver has managed.

FIA’s Jean Todt and Sandy Stuvik

The Royal Automobile Association of Thailand and the Sports Authority of Thailand introduced Sandy to Jean Todt, the president of the FIA who was in Bangkok on his way back to Europe after the Korean GP, saying that the hopes of Thailand were resting on his young shoulders.

Having very convincingly won the F. Renault Asia, Sandy’s next step will most likely be the European Formula Renault series, again depending upon the level of sponsorship required. Getting to the top in motor racing is an expensive business.

I know Sandy personally and he is a very personable and polite young lad and will be an excellent ambassador for Thailand, but it is a long way to F1. I saw Mark Webber as a 17 year old with enormous promise in Australia many years ago, and it has been a very difficult road for him to be only now challenging for the World Driver’s Championship. I hope it will not take Sandy as long!

Brabus SV12 R Biturbo

Brabus, that modifier of Mercedes vehicles has come up with what must be the ‘ultimate’ four door limousine, the Brabus SV12 R Biturbo.

Brabus SV12 R Biturbo

Try these for supercar numbers - zero to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds and zero to 200 km/h in only 10.3 seconds. To produce acceleration figures like that from a two tonne four door sedan requires an enormous number of neddies and incredible torque. The SV12 R Biturbo develops 588 kW from the S-Class Mercedes-Benz’s twin-turbo V12 power plant and 1420 Nm (1047 lb-ft) of torque, but Brabus limits its output to 1100 Nm (812 lb-ft) to keep its gearbox internals inside the casing. Top speed? You should see 350 km/h (217 mph in the old money). It is not a high-revving engine, with peak torque at 2100 RPM and peak power at 5500 RPM.

To do this, Brabus took the 5.5 liter Mercedes V12 out to 6.3 liters, by enlarging both bore and stroke. The whole engine is balanced, has high performance camshafts, flowed cylinder heads, a carbon-fiber air intake system, four water-to-air intercoolers for the two turbo chargers and a quadruple exhaust system.

The SV12 R Biturbo 800 uses enormous 12-piston, fixed aluminium brake calipers on a 380 mm x 36 mm steel front braking system, and there are six-piston calipers with 355 mm x 28 mm discs at the rear, to provide more than double the braking power of the standard S-Class.

Brabus also modified the Active Body Control’s computer to lower the ride height 15 mm to minimize body roll and to help keep the aerodynamics more stable at high speed

It would be hard to imagine any four door sedan being as quick as this. Price? I have no idea, but does it matter?

Autotrivia Quiz

What was the first car offered with a reversing light? Clue - it was 1921.

Autotrivia: I asked what was the first car offered with a reversing light? Clue - it was 1921. It was the Wills-Sainte Claire in 1921.