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Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

US GP this weekend

This will be the second F1 GP at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA). The circuit is 5.5 km long and is made up of twenty turns with an elevation change of 41 m. According to COTA, the final plan of the circuit was released on September 1, 2010, showing a design inspired by the European tradition of sculpting the circuit to the contours of the land. The design draws from several European F1 circuits, including a recreation of Silverstone’s Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel sequence, Hockenheim’s arena bends, and a replica of Istanbul’s Turn Eight.

US GP.

Other corners were loosely inspired by the Senna ‘S’ at Interlagos and the Österreichring’s Sebring-Auspuffkurve. A feature of the circuit is a deliberate widening of corners, to encourage drivers to follow multiple racing lines, which did seem to work in last year’s GP.
The circuit runs counter-clockwise, the others being Marina Bay, the Korea International Circuit, Yas Marina, and Interlagos.
From the start line, the cars will climb to the first corner - the highest point of the circuit - with the apex of the corner positioned on the crest of the hill. They will descend back down the hill to navigate a series of fast sweepers modeled on Silverstone’s Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel complex and through a blind corner at Turn 10, taking them to the far end of the circuit and a hairpin at Turn 11. The cars will then follow a 1.00 km straight back towards the pit and paddock area before entering the final sector of the lap and weaving through a series of corners modeled on Hockenheim’s stadium section. This will be followed by a downhill, multi-apex corner with limited run-off before the final two corners of the circuit, a pair of left-hand bends that return the cars to the main straight.
Despite influences by Herr Tilke, the circuit did see passing last year. Unfortunately, with the time differential between Texas and ourselves here in Thailand, the US GP, at the Circuit of the Americas kicks off at 2 a.m. our time, meaning a 4 a.m. finish.
While researching some details on the track, I came across the following Prohibited Items list:
The following items will not be permitted inside the gates of Circuit of The Americas during major sports and entertainment events. In addition to items specifically listed here, other items that may be deemed to present a potential hindrance or threat may also be prohibited.
So here we go!
Alcoholic Beverages (buy your expensive booze there it would seem)
Animals (exception for certified service animals)
Bags or parcels larger than 12x12x20 inches
Bicycles, scooters, skateboards, skates, Segways, golf carts or other unauthorized means of transportation (No, you can’t bring your horse in either)
Coolers, thermoses or ice chests (So the beer’s going to be hot then)
Distribution of unauthorized promotional or commercial material
Food and Beverage (Note: sealed, individual, plastic bottles of water are allowed)
Fireworks, explosives or other incendiary devices
Glass or metal containers of any style
Illegal substances (they did not elaborate)
Items that may be deemed a safety hazard or annoyance to participants or guests (balls, Frisbees, balloons, projectiles, horns, radios, bells, whistles, musical instruments, laser pointers, etc. OK, I’ll leave my Frisbee at home. Mind you, they don’t mention boomerangs!)
Large, golf-type umbrellas
Non-collapsible chairs
Tents or canopies
Video cameras, audio recording devices and tripods; no video recording will be allowed (You should be used to that in Walking Street)
Weapons of any kind, including guns, knives, pepper spray, handcuffs, nightsticks or other items (What about the sawn-off shotguns?)
You are, however, allowed to bring some items into the COTA and the following items will be permitted inside the circuit gates.
Blankets
Umbrellas (small, hand-held style)
Baby strollers
Portable, collapsible chairs
Personal camera equipment (e.g. digital cameras, point-and-click digital cameras or film cameras)
Binoculars
I am glad the local promoters at Bira don’t try and enforce such rules. Can you imagine a race meeting with no ice box!


Lexus reveals the RC coupe

Lexus RC Coupe.

The Tokyo Motor Show is the first showing for the Lexus RC Coupe, based on the Lexus IS. Lexus also showed the LF-NX SUV concept, this time with a turbo-petrol powertrain.
Lexus is trying hard to give its offerings a ‘performance’ image, getting away from the staid middle-aged sensibility image. The Lexus PR hand-out states they are doing this “while injecting emotional appeal into the Lexus DNA that is synonymous with build quality, refinement and reliability”. This is hoped to give Lexus a broader customer base.
The design is unmistakably derived from the LF-CC coupe concept from last year’s Paris motor show, and while it features a slightly toned down look, it maintains a number of elements that saw many motoring writers voting the LF-CC ‘best in show’.
The spindle-shaped grille is featured strongly, this being another of the items that Lexus want to make distinguishably their own. Unfortunately, look at the Nissan Almera and you have another spindle shape.
The fence-like mesh grille of the show car is gone in favour of a more conventional slatted grille and front bumper set-up, although it keeps Lexus’ now familiar spindle shape.
Lexus says the red hero color of the show car features a brighter and more contrasting tone thanks to a new painting process that uses multiple layers of deep-colored coating.
Two alloy wheels are offered, depending on the model - 10 spoke 19 inch or five-spoke 18 inch wheels.
Lexus has confirmed the RC will be available in two trim levels with two different powertrains - the RC 350 powered by a 3.5 liter V6 petrol engine and the RC 300h hybrid matched with a 2.5 liter petrol unit.
The cabin is stolen from the Lexus IS, with a 300 mm touch screen sitting high up in the center stack. “Lexus-first” features include an upward reflecting lighting package that is said to envelop the cabin, while the center console houses a new ‘Remote Touch Interface’ that allows the driver to instruct the sat-nav or infotainment system using fingers.
More from the blurb includes seating in the coupe uses an integrated foaming construction method to ensure high levels of comfort and support for occupants.
Lexus also used Tokyo to show off a further development of its sharp and chunky-looking LF-NX compact SUV concept, which I did not like at all, to be frank. This car was shown at the Frankfurt show in September this year and will likely go into production as the NX, sitting under the RX as the brand’s entry-level crossover offering.
The Frankfurt show car featured a hybrid powertrain, but the Tokyo concept car is powered by a 2.0 liter turbocharged petrol engine and features a front under-spoiler, while the cabin gets a ‘Remote Touch Interface’ with touch-pad.


Fancy a Fat Porker that does over 300 kph!

Porsche Panamera.

Also at the Tokyo motor show, Porsche unveiled its fastest and most powerful sedan to date, revealing the 310 km/h Panamera Turbo S.
The power in the latest iteration of the Panamera is now up to 420 kW with a heavy 750 Nm of torque (or 800 Nm on overboost).
With two new larger turbochargers and boosted fuel pressure now a full on 2000 PSI, Porsche has squeezed another 15 kW out of the Panamera’s 4.8 liter twin-turbo V8.
The zero to 100 km/h time of 3.8 seconds remains the same (and awesomely quick for a vehicle of the size of the Panamera) but the top speed is now 310 km/h.
Porsche’s ‘Traction Management’ system gets the power to the road via 4WD, and launch-control is incorporated in to the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Extra oomph requires extra brakes and these are supplied by the Porsche PCCB ceramics, which are half the weight of the standard calipers.
Fuel economy, if that’s your bag, is a respectable 10.2 liters of fuel per 100 km on the European cycle - the same as its less powerful sibling, the Panamera Turbo, and 11 percent less than the previous Turbo S variant.
The new Turbo S comes with 20 inch alloy wheels shared with the 911 Turbo, and unique ‘Palladium’ metallic paint.
This top of the line Panamera joins two entry level 3.6 liter V6 options, three normally aspirated 4.8 liter V8 variants, a hybrid version and also a 3.0 liter diesel.
Undoubtedly an engineering tour de force, but it still is a huge fat porker!


Why Kimi could just be a little upset

Perhaps I could sell this trophy.

Much publicity in the popular press with stories regarding Kimi Raikkonen and his unhappiness with the “Lotus” team that he has been driving for all year. Muttered hints are being published as to the fact that Kimi has not been paid this year, and that he threatened to boycott the final three GP’s of the year. I have received from a well informed source who was in the paddock at Abu Dhabi that indeed, Kimi has not been paid, and the sum outstanding is now at 22 million USD. That figure comes from salary and bonuses applied for every point scored during the championship.
With a new sponsor having just come on board, Kimi should now get his back pay, but what is going to happen to Hulkenberg if he moves to “Lotus” for next year?
By the way, if you are wondering as to why I place inverted commas around the word “Lotus”, it is because this team, once called Renault, has no real connection with Colin Chapman’s Lotus team, and they are just playing on the name. There is no shared DNA between this team and the illustrious Lotus team of Chapman.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

US GP this weekend

Lexus reveals the RC coupe

Fancy a Fat Porker that does over 300 kph!

Why Kimi could just be a little upset