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Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

Malaysian Grand Prix Sunday, March 24

F1 at Sepang.

Sepang is the host for the second round of the 2013 F1 calendar. Will we have a repeat of the Australian Grand Prix, or will this be another year of different winners, such as we had in 2012?
The Malaysian Grand Prix is being held once again at the Sepang circuit. Hopefully we will miss the late afternoon monsoons which are so prevalent in Malaysia this time of year.
Qualifying was on Saturday at 3 p.m. and there will have been some feverish work for a couple of the teams to get ready for Malaysia, with only a few days break since Melbourne last week.
The race begins at 3 p.m. (Thai time) on the Sunday.


What did we learn from the Australian GP?

Well, we learned that Melbourne has some pretty lousy weather, so lousy that the Qualifying session had to be postponed until the Sunday (race day) morning. After Qualifying it was again a Vettel/Webber front row for Red Bull. It appeared that nothing had changed from 2012. But it had!
However, as the lights went out, Mark Webber showed that he is still unable to do a good start, going from second to ninth by the first corner. Red Bull should take him out to a deserted car park and make him practice his starts for the next four days before the Malaysian GP next weekend. Definitely Dunce of the Day.
Force India’s Adrian Sutil, back from the cold after 15 months away, was my choice of Driver of the Day. He led the race on two occasions, mixing it with the Ferraris of Alonso and Massa, and the Mercedes driven by Lewis Hamilton. What is more, he also beat team mate Di Resta. And at no time did he look as if he were driving over his head.
The popular winner was Kimi Raikkonen in the Renault (re-christened “Lotus”, even though there is no connection between Colin Chapman’s team and this “Lotus” team today). Raikkonen kept his tyres together and needed only two stops, winning by a margin of 10 seconds over Alonso in the Ferrari. Alonso was kept honest all day by team mate Massa, who out-qualified him and was in front of Alonso for quite some number of laps.
The pole sitter Vettel (Red Bull) got away to a good start but was steadily overhauled by the chasing Massa and Alonso. With some good tyre changes by the team, he was able to finish in third, but was 22 seconds behind Raikkonen at the flag. Unable to hold “the finger” up, he looked somewhat crestfallen, but Red Bull’s Helmut Marko will have given him a shoulder to cry on. Red Bull has some work to do before Malaysia.
Everyone was waiting to see just how Mercedes would do, now with Hamilton at the helm. The simple answer was, just as before - quick in Qualifying but steadily dropping back during the race. Hamilton finished fifth, 45 seconds behind the winner. Rosberg in the other Mercedes was doing reasonably well, but then failed to finish with some electrical gremlins. Mercedes has some work to do before Malaysia.
Mark Webber in the second Red Bull clawed his way back to sixth, but this result from what was a front runner just isn’t good enough. Practice your starts, Mark.
The two Force Indias came seventh and eighth, well clear of Captain No-Grip Button (McLaren) and final point scorer Grosjean in the other “Lotus”. Perez, the second McLaren driver finished 11th and out of the points. Both McLarens were well off the pace of the front runners. McLaren have even more work to do than anyone else before Malaysia!
As for the rest, they were mainly also-ran rookies, who are obviously not ready for F1, but have sponsors with large checks who are ready for F1.
A few DNF’s at this meeting, Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) 40 laps, Rosberg (Mercedes) 26 laps, Maldonado (Williams) 25 (laps) and Hulkenberg Sauber did not start with a fuel pressure problem.


Bangkok International Motor Show commences 27th March

What in my mind is the premier motor show in Thailand is the Bangkok International Motor Show. It is being held at the Impact Arena and public days begin on the 27th March and run through to Sunday April 7.
The venue is good, with enough space for exhibitors, plus some of the other attractions such as the competition cars, vintage cars and classics.
However, the main attractions will still be the new cars, with the public being able to have a hands on with some of the tightly grouped cars, such as the eco-cars, with almost all under 450,000 baht. Which one fits you?
There are always cars well beyond the reach of mere mortals such as you and I, but it’s good fun to be photographed with one, and pretend just a little!
I will be attending the Press Day on the 26th, so more about the motor show next week!


Jaguar’s designer ‘builds’ his own retro Jag

Jaguar MkII.

Classic Motor Cars of Bridgnorth (CMC) are building a “special” Jaguar MKII for the Director of Design at Jaguar Cars, Ian Callum.
The design specification for the car, which will also involve some fundamental engineering changes, will be put together by Callum working with a handpicked team at CMC.
“This is the first classic Jaguar I have ever owned,” says Callum. “I have greatly admired the Jaguar MKII since I was a boy. Now I have the chance to ‘build’ one to my exact design specifications.”
“To me, the MKII is one of the best looking saloons ever created but as a designer, naturally I want to change a number of details. For that reason, the car that CMC have chosen as donor car will be modified in many areas - both aesthetically and technically.”
He added, “The stance of the MKII is already excellent but I wish to make it even better, the first thing to sort out. The next is simplifying the car in many areas of exterior trim. I need to be very judgmental and work out what in my mind is superfluous and what’s not. The interior will go through a number of subtle changes as well.”
Nick Goldthorp, Managing Director of Classic Motor Cars said, “We have carried out many special projects for clients all over the world, but this is one of the most exciting that we have ever undertaken. We are delighted that Ian came to us. The build of Ian’s MKII is already underway and regular updates will be posted on CMC’s website - www. classic-motor-cars.co.uk.”
(I have to agree that the MkII became a real classic from the sedans of that era. Black with chrome wire wheels was always a stunner! Dr. Iain)


New luxury derivatives from the German heavyweights

R-R Wraith.

Bentley and Rolls-Royce released new models at the Geneva Motor Show. Whilst both were once the epitome of British engineering and quality, these days both are owned by the German manufacturers Volkswagen (Bentley) and BMW (R-R).
Bentley’s Flying Spur is an extended wheelbase, four-door version of the Continental GT coupe that is designed to sit below the company’s flagship Mulsanne, offering similar levels of back-seat luxury but with a more sporting twist, so you will not look out of place if seen in the driver’s seat, when the chauffeur has his day off.
The performance comes from the VW derived 6 liter, twin-turbo W12 engine that produces 460 kW and 800 Nm of torque and, in combination with its eight-speed gearbox and all-wheel-drive transmission, can run from 0-100 km/h in 4.3 seconds.
BMW, however, presented the Rolls-Royce Wraith, which is apparently the most powerful car they have ever made.
The Wraith, on the other hand, is a two door version of the company’s Ghost limousine with a unique fastback design, lower roof line and heavily raked windscreen.
Not only is it more sporty in its profile, the Wraith is powered by an upgraded version of the Ghost’s 6.6 liter twin-turbo V12 that produces 465 kW and 800 Nm - 45 kW and 20 Nm more than in the sedan. Rolls-Royce claims the car can cover the 0-100 km/h in 4.4sec - which is 0.3sec quicker than the Ghost.
Rolls-Royce says the Wraith is even more sporting having the world’s first satellite aided transmission. The eight-speed gearbox uses GPS data to read the road ahead and, using sensors to determine the driver’s driving style, pre-selects the most appropriate gear. It says the system monitors corners, roundabouts and motorway junctions to ensure the car is “constantly poised to deliver on its performance”. (Not sure that I like this foray into further electronics, but since I’ll never own one, I shouldn’t worry. Dr. Iain)
The four-seater cabin is accessed by ‘suicide doors’ (rear-hinged). As always, the occupants are then ensconced in half a herd of cows and forest (Canadel wood paneling) and a roof lining that features 1340 fiber optic lamps to give the impression of a glittering, starry night.
I have no idea of the price in Thailand, but in Australia, the Flying Spur is expected to cost about $450,000, while the Wraith will command at least $700,000 (21 million THB on straight currency exchange, and now add on the duty, taxes and multiply by your birthday and you will get close to the Thai price).


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Malaysian Grand Prix Sunday, March 24

What did we learn from the Australian GP?

Bangkok International Motor Show commences 27th March

Jaguar’s designer ‘builds’ his own retro Jag

New luxury derivatives from the German heavyweights