by Dr. Iain Corness
Hungarian GP this weekend
As a racing venue, Hungary has a long history, with its first GP run in 1906,
and regular events in Budapest since 1926. Built with state backing, and laid
out in a natural amphitheater, the Hungaroring opened in 1986 and attracted an
estimated 200,000 spectators. Though the event was well organized, and the hosts
very appreciative, it was felt that the 4 km Hungaroring had been laid out more
in the style of a twisty street circuit rather than a bespoke road track. There
were few opportunities for overtaking, though things were eased from 1989 when a
tight corner was by-passed and the lap distance became slightly less than 4 km.
However, it remains a circuit that is not high on any of the drivers’ lists,
unless you are after a piece of quick action behind the pits, as the Hungarian
government actually erected (nice word in the sex scene) some mobile brothels a
couple of years ago (sponsored by Viagra?). I think they are still in use today!
After the German GP, will we get the same sort of racing? Find out this weekend.
Toyota manage 698 mpg at Nurburgring
Prius at Nurburgring.
A standard Toyota Prius Plug-in completed a lap of
Nurburgring, amongst the usual daily traffic and returned 698 mpg.
On paper, both the speed requirement and the circuit length (12.9 miles) put the
feat within the all-electric EV range Toyota quotes for Prius Plug-in,
performance designed to meet the day-to-day driving demands of urban commuters.
In theory, the distance could be covered without a drop of petrol being used.
Motoring journalist and Japanese car expert Joe Clifford was tasked with the
driving duties, taking the wheel of a standard Prius Plug-in he has recently
upgraded with the addition of TRD parts - styling rather than performance
elements that improved the car’s appearance rather than made it more
In dry, breezy conditions, he recorded 698 mpg, completing his lap in 20 minutes
and 59 seconds. This far outstrips the car’s official combined cycle figure of
134 mpg; in fact the Toyota used less than five tablespoons of fuel to do the
The technology that made this feat possible is a development of Toyota’s full
hybrid system that matches a 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle petrol engine with a
compact, rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The battery’s performance and
excellent energy density means the car can be driven further and at higher
speeds on electric power alone than the standard Prius.
What did we learn from the German GP?
Well, we learned at the first corner that Felipe Massa
(Williams) is still the unlucky driver, being forced out by young Magnussen who
confused excitement with (lack of) experience and ruined the Brazilian’s race,
as well as his own. He forgot my old adage - you never win the race at the first
corner, you only lose the race at the first corner! He will learn, especially as
he had to go straight into the pits to change a front wheel.
We also saw that many of the drivers had been eating Brave Pills for breakfast,
with plenty of wheel banging/side pod action, more usually seen in saloon car
We also saw that those amazingly contorted front wings are for increasing the
impression ratio, not for aerodynamic purposes after Hamilton (Mercedes) lost
the end from his and still set the fastest lap of the race. Obviously the
aerodynamicist is superfluous!
So to the race. Starting from pole, this was Rosberg’s (Mercedes) race to lose,
rather than having to fight for a win, with Hamilton starting almost from the
rear of the grid. He did the job so easily that he was very rarely seen by the
TV cameras - he was just out in front and cruising. Hamilton drove very well,
not averse to shouldering the opposition out of the way to come third.
Unflustered drive by Valtteri Bottas (Williams) into a very strong second place.
Hamilton may have caught him at the end, but he was not going to take the place
The driver formerly known as The Finger brought his Red Bull home in fourth
after some thrilling dices with both Ferrari drivers Alonso and Raikkonen.
Alonso showed his determination for the entire race, whilst Raikkonen showed
flashes of his former brilliance. Alonso fifth and Raikkonen 11th says it all.
With the new head of the Ferrari racing team Marco Mattiaci, I will not be
surprised to see the Finn take early retirement.
After being forced off the track to avoid Massa at the first corner, Ricciardo
ended up in 16th, but fought his way back through the field to sixth with many
heart in the mouth battles on the way. The young Aussie is not short on talent
or cojones! In typical fashion, he said after the race, “That was awesome fun,
one of my most enjoyable races I’ve had.”
Another solid drive from Hulkenberg (Force India) to finish seventh ahead of the
McLarens of Button and the recovered Magnussen from his first lap mistake.
Understatement of the weekend came from Adrian Sutil (Sauber) who spun onto the
grid straight, saying, “There’s something wrong with the car!” However, his team
said it was a “wrong driver procedure”, which is usually race speak for “he
accidentally hit the off switch!”
Another driver having car problems was Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) whose car burst
into flames with excitement, which the crew put down to a “drive train failure”
and Renault (engine supplier) put down to an “ignition problem leading to
combustion of the unburnt fuel in the exhaust pipe.” Right. Yes.
Star of the show? For me it was Alonso and not Hamilton. Alonso managed to fight
cleanly, where Hamilton was barging.
The next race is this weekend in Hungary. Let us hope for more excitement, as
Germany was an exciting Grand prix.
Now the car waits for you to go for a drive - not just the dog!
Jaguar Land Rover is developing an intelligent self-learning
car which will recognize the driver, check their schedule, plot a route and
adjust the seat - all before they open the door.
Jaguar Land Rover director of research and technology, Dr Wolfgang Epple said
the goal is to create a car which offers a more personalized experience for the
driver and to minimize distractions in an effort to help prevent accidents.
“Up until now most self-learning car research has only focused on traffic or
navigation prediction,” Dr Epple said “We want to take this a significant step
It is another application of smartphone technology operated by the driver’s
smart-phone making the handshake with the car’s own system called Smart
Assistant, which can then access the driver’s calendar and use the information
for navigation and reminders.
If you have logged that you have a meeting time the Smart Assistant will not
only work out the best route to travel, but will call ahead if it looks like you
are running late.
This technology in the car’s inbuilt computer incorporates the latest machine
learning and artificial intelligence techniques. As a result, the car will
recognize the driver by their smart phone when it is within close enough
proximity to pick up its WiFi. A new learning algorithm will allow the car to
remember the seat, radio, climate and mirror settings, and adjust these to suit
The software also learns the owner’s driving style and when Auto Adaptive Cruise
Control is enabled the car will mimic the style and remember the preferred
distance the driver likes to keep from the car ahead, as well as the type of
acceleration they find most comfortable.
“By developing a learning function for Adaptive Cruise Control,” said Dr Epple,
“it is technology concepts like the self-learning car that will ensure any
future intelligent car remains fun and rewarding to drive as we move closer to
more autonomous driving over the next 10 years.”
Jaguar Land Rover says that the self-learning car will even be able to recognize
the passengers from their smart-phones, and take their preferences into
consideration when setting functions such as climate and media.
The future is now!
Wireless recharging by Daimler/BMW
One of the next steps on the way to perfect electric drive
and plug-in hybrid vehicles is wireless battery charging. Daimler and BMW have
now agreed on jointly developing and implementing one common technology.
Wireless charging of the battery will make the handling of electric drive and
plug-in hybrid vehicles even easier. Mercedes-Benz will commence fleet testing
of this “unplugged” technology with the S 500 Plug-in hybrid soon, in order to
develop a real S-Class solution in recharging the high voltage battery in terms
of comfort and ease of operating in the near future.
The system consists of two components: a secondary coil integrated into the
under tray of the car and a primary coil integrated into a floor plate that can
be placed on a garage floor for instance. Electrical energy is transmitted
contact-free without the need for a cable, at a power rate of 3.6 kW and with a
degree of efficiency of 90 percent.
Trials of the cordless charging system with BMW’s high-tech i8 sports car have
allowed a full charge in less than two hours, and with a charge-rate of 3.6
kilowatts, BMW says an average hybrid can be charged in less than three hours.
With further development, a rate of up to 7kW could be permitted, cutting charge
times even further.
A WiFi connection between the charge point and the car assists the driver with
positioning the vehicle easily, and once parked, charging starts at the touch of
While the vehicle is refuelling, its charge-status and time to full-charge can
be monitored remotely with the use of a smart-phone application.