by Dr. Iain Corness
What did we learn from
the Singapore GP?
What did we learn? Well, we learned there is no such animal
as a 100 percent reliable car. Millions are spent to produce race cars that will
last a minimum of two hours, but even race leader Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) would
find that his gearbox decided that 24 laps were enough. Not only did that mean
he retired from the Singapore GP with no points, but he will incur a five place
grid demotion for the next race in Japan. This rule that components have to last
X number of meetings is nonsense. No team is going to send out their driver
knowing they have a faulty gearbox. It is enough of a penalty that they do not
finish the race. Why then penalize them for the next one as well?
So to the race. Until his retirement, Hamilton was the undisputed leader. Pole
by a large margin and running away with the race, until the gearbox problem.
Inheriting the lead, The Finger (Vettel, Red Bull) just maintained the position
and cruised to the end, bringing him into second in the WDC. He is certainly now
within striking distance of the leader Alonso (Ferrari). Vettel’s team mate
Webber has really thrown away all his chances in the WDC with a very mediocre
race which even ended up with him receiving a 20 second penalty for a clumsy
pass on Kobayashi, demoting him to 11th and outside the points.
Third was Mr. Consistency Fernando Alonso (Ferrari). Never within a cooee of
challenging for the top step of the podium, but always there. His team mate
Massa ‘lucked’ his way into 8th, and 30 seconds behind Alonso. More on Massa
later in this article.
Driver of the day (sorry, evening) for me was Paul Di Resta (Force India) who
finished in 4th, stayed out of trouble all weekend and deserved his final
placing. His team mate Hulkenberg, who excelled in the lower formulae, just
seems out of his depth in F1, but his place at Force India has been guaranteed
by Vijay Mallya.
On a street circuit such as Monaco and Singapore, any over-driving soon shows
up. Number one over-driver of the weekend was undoubtedly Bruno Senna
(Williams). His driving showed the desperation of a driver knowing that his seat
will be sold to someone else for 2013. Goodbye Bruno, you have an illustrious
name, but that’s not enough, I am afraid.
Other drivers lining up at the exit door for 2012 include Kobayashi (Sauber) who
has not shown any of the banzai of previous years, and has been sadly shown up
by team mate Perez. Next to him at the off-ramp is Massa (Ferrari) who has just
not been anywhere near his team mate Alonso. Towering over the diminutive Sauber
and Ferrari drivers (they are both dwarves) is Michael Schumacher (Mercedes).
Still the most illustrious driver in the history of the sport, but now too many
crashes amongst the good laps reminiscent of the old days. Time for Michael to
call it quits. The hapless Russian Petrov will also have to walk the plank at
Caterham. The rubles have run out, and so has his talent. Goodbye Vitaly. And
finally there is Kathikeyan in the HRT. Even national pride giving him
sponsorship from Tata, he has to go. The cost of repairs to his car now being
greater than the money he brought in. He will be selling suits with a silk shirt
Finally, was it a great race? No, and it never will be, no matter who they have
as post-race party people, fireworks and publicists. The track is too narrow,
the corners are too close together and the novelty of ‘under lights’ has worn
off. However, if you like to see crashes, reserve your seat for 2013.
BMW goes FWD and the world is slack-jawed. Why?
BMW has previewed its controversial new front-wheel-drive
car, the first in the company’s history, badged as a BMW. And the world’s press
corps has gone mad.
Now whilst all previous BeeEmms have been RWD, let us not forget that BMW owns
Mini and they are all FWD. BeeEmm already had the technology and all they had to
do was design a new body/chassis and install the Mini mechanicals.
The to be released Concept Active Tourer is a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid
concept car with the space saving transverse engine layout which BMW says is set
to heavily influence the design, packaging, ride and handling properties of
their next generation of small cars.
The Concept Active Tourer five-door hatchback closely previews a new people
mover crossover model to introduce as its entry level 1-Series line-up in early
2014 as a rival for the Mercedes-Benz B-Class and Volkswagen Golf Plus.
The concept car will be shown at the 2012 Paris motor show at the end of
September, with BMW’s new 1.5 liter three cylinder direct injection petrol
engine as part of a plug-in hybrid drivetrain that will be used by its i
sub-brand’s new i8 sportscar - as previewed at last year’s Frankfurt motor show,
and driven by Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible III.
Mounted transversely the new three-cylinder engine is supported by an electric
motor, with drive through an eight speed automatic gearbox to all four wheels.
Power is put at a combined 140 kW.
The battery is a lithium-ion battery pack mounted within the floor of the boot
that can be charged both from a regular powerpoint and on the run with the
Kinetic Energy Regeneration System (KERS).
BMW says the petrol engine exclusively drives the front wheels, while the
electric motor provides power to the rear - an interesting deviation from the
more usual all power to one end or both ends of the vehicle.
BMW claims 0-100 km/h in less than 8.0 seconds, a top speed of about 200 km/h
along with combined average consumption of less than 2.5 L/100 km and
electric-only range of up to 30 km.
While the concept car uses an opulent mix of materials, expect the production
version to boast a level of perceived quality in line with the 1-Series. The
front seats are raised to a height comparable to that of the BMW X1. The rear
seat folds to extend boot space in a 40:20:40 split, while a table can be
erected on the rear of the front seat backs to extend the concept car’s
This will probably be the next 1-Series, but don’t expect it any day soon!
Race of Champions coming to Bangkok
Schumi and The Finger.
As reported in the daily press, seven-times Formula 1 world
champion Michael Schumacher will be in the line-up as the Race Of Champions
(ROC) celebrates its 25th year of competition this year. The ROC will be held at
Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium, on the weekend of December 15-16.
Held every year since 1988, the end-of-season contest brings together the
world’s greatest drivers from motor sport’s main disciplines - including Formula
1, world rally, touring cars, Le Mans and the X-Games - and sets them free to
battle head-to-head in identical machinery. Drivers pair up for the ROC Nations
Cup, this year scheduled for Saturday 15 December, before the individual Race Of
Champions takes place on Sunday 16 December.
For the past five years Schumacher has joined up with The Finger (Sebastian
Vettel) to take Team Germany to victory in the ROC Nations Cup. Reigning F1
world champion Vettel has already announced he will be back and now Schumacher
has confirmed that the winning duo will be reunited again.
Schumacher said, “I have never raced in Thailand before so this will be an
interesting addition to my motor sport travels.”
“Racing in a stadium is sensational - and it’s a very different experience for
us drivers to hear the fans so close. And of course we are all professionals so
the moment we close the visor we want to win...”
After London’s Wembley Stadium (2007-2008), Beijing’s ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic
Stadium (2009) and Dusseldorf’s ESPRIT arena (2010-2011), ROC 2012 will take
place on a specially constructed tarmac track with two adjacent lanes winding
their way round Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium.
One of my northern readers expressed doubts that Thailand could get everything
together on time, but the ROC is a packaged deal with its own organizing group
that puts it together, something like the roadshows of the Rolling Stones where
they come and erect huge stages and inflatables and after the event take it away
again. The event makes for great TV as you can see the side by side action. If
you haven’t seen one go to YouTube, I’m sure they must have some. Schumi and The
Finger have dominated the team’s events, but not the individual final (some
rally chap did it last year from memory). The cars are supplied by the
organizers and include a buggy contraption, a KTM X-Bow, and a V8 sedan. As I
said, it is the complete package. All the host country has to do is supply a
venue, so Rajamangala it is!
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