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Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

Bangkok International Motor Show

It’s that time of year again, when Bangkok is in the spotlight with our own International Motor Show. This motor show is the one accredited by the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles (OICA) for Thailand, and is for the manufacturers to display their models, more than the dealers. It is being held at the Challenger Halls 1-3, Impact Muang Thong Thani. Public dates are March 26 to April 6.
I will be present for the Press Day (March 25) and will be featuring some of the more interesting vehicles over the next few weeks in this column.


Porsche reveals the Le Mans 919 Hybrid

2014 Le Mans Porsche

More than a year after announcing its plans to return to the top flight of sports car racing, Porsche has finally revealed its Le Mans race car.
The 919 Hybrid LMP1 Porsche is a petrol-electric hybrid developed around a 2.0 V4 single turbocharged petrol engine, which is supported by an electric motor mounted and a lithium-ion battery. The electric motor provides drive to the front wheels, making the car able to run as a four-wheel drive.
Like the new F1 cars, the 919 Hybrid also has two energy recovery systems, including brake energy recuperation and an exhaust-mounted thermal energy recovery system.
In the run up to the reveal of the 919 Hybrid, Porsche confirmed its driver partnerships for both the Le Mans 24 Hours and the World Endurance Championship, with ex-F1 driver Mark Webber driving alongside Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley in the #20 car, while Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb and Neel Jani will drive the #14 machine.


What did we learn from the Australian GP?

The first thing we learned is that there are some very talented youngsters out there. Ricciardo (Red Bull), Magnussen (McLaren) and Bottas (Williams) excelled and gave no quarter to anyone, irrespective of their reputation.
We also learned that the Australian F1 enthusiasts have not forgotten The Finger’s ignoring of team orders to take Mark Webber’s win away from him, cheering wildly when Vettel did not make Q3. They were also ecstatic at Ricciardo’s P2 in Qualifying and his second in the Grand Prix (until the FIA axe fell - see later).
The new engines have a totally different exhaust note, described by our Editor at Large (John Weinthal) as a “coffee grinder racket”. Agree, agree!
With Mercedes on P1 (Hamilton) and P3 (Rosberg), it was expected that the two Mercedes cars would motor off into the distance, having been favorites ever since their (almost) trouble free practice sessions. With Rosberg making a blinder of a start to head Ricciardo and then Hamilton out on lap 3 with a Mercedes engine failure, the complexion of the race changed right from the start. Rosberg was in charge all the way, winning by over 20 seconds.
In the Red Bull camp, current F1 Champion Vettel was out one lap after Hamilton with an engine failure as well (this time a Renault), but out front, Riccardio circulated smoothly. Unable to mix it with Rosberg, he was unchallenged to the end, even though rookie Magnussen got close towards the end, Riccardio had everything under control.
Jenson Button in the “lead” McLaren followed third placed Magnussen (son of former star Jan Magnussen), but was never in the position to challenge for the podium position. Ron Dennis, the CEO of McLaren was seen smiling, something rare in the past couple of seasons, where McLaren failed to gain even a podium in 2013.
Ferrari was there, but Alonso and Raikkonen (5th and 8th) were just down on power, and even though Alonso could get into the DRS zone, he still did not have enough power to pass.
I had predicted a 50 percent attrition, but it was not quite that bad - only 40 percent! The non-finishers included both “Lotus” (Grosjean and Maldonado) and both Caterhams (Kobayashi and Ericsson). Not many happy chappies in their pits on the Sunday night.
‘Krasher’ Kobayashi (Caterham) had tangled with Massa (Williams F1 after many years at Ferrari) on the first lap, prompting Massa to call for a one race ban for Kobayashi; however, it was shown to the stewards that Kobayashi’s rear brakes failed and the accident was unavoidable. Sorry Felipe!
And now to the exclusion of second place getter Daniel Ricciardo. Five hours after the race ended, the FIA handed down an exclusion, stripping Ricciardo of his second position. The nub of the matter is a fuel flow monitor, supplied by the FIA, which the teams are obliged to run. Red Bull found that the flow meter was unreliable and chose to regulate the fuel flow themselves. The FIA acknowledged that the meter was giving different readings each time the car went out, but used their usual heavy-handed response that irrespective of all else, it had to be used. (From the FIA statement: “…although the sensor showed a difference in readings between runs in P1, it remains the homologated and required sensor against which the team is obliged to measure their fuel flow, unless given permission by the FIA to do otherwise.”) Red Bull have appealed the decision.
The next round of the championship is Malaysia March 29, with the race starting at 3 p.m. Thai time.


F1 opens the score

The F1 Circus will be in full swing by this time next week, with the Malaysian GP on March 30.
Here is the 2014 Calendar, so pencil in the dates:
March 16 Australia
March 30 Malaysia
April 6 Bahrain
April 20 China
May 11 Spain
May 25 Monaco
June 8 Canada
June 22 Austria
July 6 Great Britain
July 20 Germany (Hockenheim)
July 27 Hungary
August 24 Belgium
September 7 Italy
September 21 Singapore
October 5 Japan
October 12 Russia
November 2 USA
November 9 Brazil
November 23 Abu Dhabi


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Bangkok International Motor Show

Porsche reveals the Le Mans 919 Hybrid

What did we learn from the Australian GP?

F1 opens the score