So now it’s the German GP
This Sunday is the German GP is being held at Hockenheim, not Nurburgring. It
was opened in 1939, 15 miles from Heidelberg, and was used for German national
car and motorcycle racing. In 1965/6 it was uprated to a design by John
Hugenholz because one end was lost when an autobahn was built. The resulting
circuit 6.7 km long remained blindingly quick for most of its length, with a
slow section in the ‘stadium’ (i.e. grandstand) area, similar in concept to the
arena course at Silverstone.
Hockenheim achieved notoriety in 1968 when,
at one of the first major races held at the circuit, Jim Clark was killed in a
Formula Two race following presumed tyre failure. His actual death was caused,
however, by the fact that his car was able to leave the circuit unimpeded and
hit a tree.
While the Nurburgring was being made safe,
Hockenheim staged the 1970 German GP with a layout made slower by the
construction of three chicanes. It was not a popular choice of venue but,
following Lauda’s accident at the Nurburgring in 1976, Hockenheim became the
home of the German GP for many years, but these days alternates annually with
the ‘new’ Nurburgring.
With German cars and German drivers to the
fore, there will be much nationalistic pride exhibited. Expect a thrilling race.
We will be watching in front of the big
screen in Jameson’s Irish Pub, Soi AR, next to Nova Park. The race starts at 7
p.m. Thai time Sunday (Qualifying is at 7 p.m. Saturday), but get there around 6
p.m. for a good seat and join us for some dinner and a couple of drinks before
What did we learn from the Hungarian GP?
Well, we learned (if we didn’t know already) that the Mercedes drivers Hamilton
and Rosberg are not the best of mates, with Hamilton publicly slagging off
Rosberg’s pole position at the post race press conference. This left the final
podium place winner Ricciardo with his head in his hands all but shaking it in
disbelief. As well as a swollen head, Hamilton is showing his true colors and
becoming a loose cannon? His employers will not be pleased.
However, come race day Hamilton outdrove
Rosberg with a confident and near faultless display of Grand Prix driving after
winning the start. With the Hungaroring’s tight layout making passing difficult
(but not impossible as Kimi Raikkonen showed going from 14th to
the Grand Prix was a procession as predicted. A high speed procession, but a
procession none the less.
Re-establishing himself as the Number 1 Red
Bull driver, Ricciardo drove one of his usual gutsy drives to finish 3rd.
while his team mate and 20 seconds behind, the rising star Max Verstappen found
himself defending from Ferrari’s Raikkonen to finish 5th.
Ferrari are not on a roll, with Vettel
becoming more vociferous if any driver dares to hold him up. Perhaps this type
of thinking comes with being a world champion. It would appear that humility is
being bred out of the current crop of “top” drivers. Eventually, 4th was
as good as the Ferrari driver was going to get.
Not only did McLaren manage to get its
Honda powered drivers into the top 10 in Qualifying, but Alonso managed to get
his one across the finishing line in 7th.
A red letter day for McLaren, but before the team started shaking hands with
themselves, there was the question of track limit violations. Another new FIA
rule was brought into play, where if you strayed past the designated track
limits, then you received up to three warnings, and if this was exceeded, some
diabolical punishment would be meted out. The FIA is currently considering
punishments last used during the Spanish Inquisition.
However, his McLaren team mate, Jenson
Button was not so lucky. He reported a brake problem to his pit and was given
certain instructions, but these were considered an unauthorized radio
communication, for which Button received a drive through penalty. Button felt
that the brake pedal falling to the floor was a safety issue, and therefore did
not fall under the ‘unauthorized’ category, but the FIA disagreed and gave the
car running last, at that time, a drive through, to make sure he was last?
One driver who did impress was Carlos Sainz
(Jnr) who brought his Toro Rosso through to 8th,
a lap in front of the unhappy Russian Kvyat, who must know that he’s going to
get a DCM at the end of the season.
Final drivers in the top 10 were Bottas in
the Williams, who has certainly lost the fire he had at the beginning of the
season and Hulkenberg (FIndia) who needs to be in a better car, or be relegated
to the scrap heap 2017.
Another driver facing obscurity or Formula
E, is Felipe Massa in the second Williams. Another happy dwarf who won’t be
happy next year. Sorry Felipe, but that time has come.
Point score finishers:
1 L Hamilton Mercedes
2 N Rosberg Mercedes
3 D Ricciardo Red Bull
4 S Vettel Ferrari
5 M Verstappen Red Bull
6 K Raikkonen Ferrari
7 F Alonso McLaren
8 C Sainz Toro Rosso
9 V Bottas Williams
10 N Hulkenberg Force India
The next GP is this weekend at Hockenheim. Let us hope for
a better race, that is what the spectators want – racing, not follow the leader.
Stopping the procession
For the past few years the F1 races have become processional. So processional
that the FIA even commissioned an “Overtaking Working Group” to work out what
could be done. For the first couple of years they did not do much. Grooved tyres
were thrown out and slicks brought back – and that did nothing. Wings at the
rear were made smaller, and that didn’t work. Wings at the front were made
smaller and raised up from track level. That did nothing as far as overtaking
was concerned, but it did bring a rash of muttering about wing flexibility at
speed. This resulted in front wings that are so strong they could lift an
elephant with one. But still there was no overtaking.
Let us now listen to what F1 legend Jean
Alesi has to say. “As I see it, the biggest impact this year is clearly the
tyres,” said Alesi. “Towards the end of the race things get really intense, and
this is great from a fan’s perspective, creating some very exciting and
The Pirelli tyres are quite different from
previous manufacturers, with rapid wear compounds, which also hang on well for
around 10 laps and then deteriorate so rapidly some drivers described the
feeling like “falling off a cliff”. What this has meant is that the driver has
had to think more about keeping his tyres in good shape and the strategist in
the pit lane has to juggle more variables. Get them right and you have an
advantage. Get them wrong and you have a driver struggling on unsuitable tyres,
but not enough time to pop into the pits for a change of rubber before the race
ends. As Alesi had pointed out, “Towards the end of the race things get really
intense,” and they certainly do, and it leads to overtaking! Or, as Mercedes
drivers have shown it leads to crashing into each other!
Muddled thinking reigns supreme?
Thailand’s road toll is the second worst in the world. That’s a fact.
I was almost run over by songthaews running
the red light on a zebra crossing on Beach Road. For those who have not been to
Pattaya for some time, you will find that Beach Road has pedestrian traffic
lights every 200 meters. However, unfortunately all these do is to instill a
false sense of security for those on foot.
Now as usual there will be ‘Think Tanks’
and measures will be instituted, which will, in theory, produce a drop in the
road toll. After the minibus accidents, there will be calls for seat belts to be
installed in all minibuses. Certainly a step in the right direction, but quite
frankly, the effect on the total annual road toll will be miniscule at best,
especially since there is no practical way of policing the wearing of the belts.
Despite the well-publicized Bangkok accident, neither minibuses nor underage
drivers are the prime cause.
The previous Interior Ministry told the
provincial governors to put in place five measures - administration, law
enforcement, traffic engineering, public relations and emergency medicine - to
lower the government’s accident target by five percent from last New Year
holiday, and by 10 percent for the year overall.
The Ministry urged agencies with integrated
checkpoints to crack down on risky behavior and for local administrative
organization-level checkpoints to oversee residents’ driving behavior. Provinces
are to repair landslide-damaged roads and educate motorists; to supervise
public-transport vehicles and drivers strictly; and to enforce the ban on
Now all that seems reasonably relevant and
something as a starting point for all the committees which will be called up to
propose the answers to the road toll problem.
However, the leg-work has been done
already, even before the first coffee break for the Think Tank. The following
statistics are readily available and a quick internet search will show that the
road toll costs the country 2.1 percent of GDP. Now what were prime factors?
1. 80 percent of those killed are between
2. 75 percent of the people killed are
3. 80 percent were riding motorcycles.
4. 85 percent had no crash helmet.
5. More than 50 percent of those injured
had blood alcohol levels above the legal limit of 0.05. (Figures for blood
alcohol levels of those killed are notoriously under-reported to avoid
A treatise from one of our universities
five years ago opined that “There are three major causes of road accidents in
Thailand: drivers’ behaviors, mechanical failure, and road conditions.”
It does not need a Mensa IQ score to see
that diverting attention to vehicle maintenance is not going to change the road
toll, but driver behavior and alcohol are related and have a direct effect on
the total number of people killed.
However, the greatest numbers should be
attacked as the first priority. 80 percent of fatalities come from motorcycles.
If it were possible to prevent these, you would have lowered the death toll by
80 percent, but that is Utopian and not possible. But – if you could get the 85
percent who were not wearing helmets to wear a helmet of a decent standard then
you would produce an immediate lowering of the annual toll.
This is not Utopian. The salient figures
are already there, the legislation is already there. The members of the Think
Tank committees can finish their morning coffee and go home. I’ve done the sums
Last week I asked did an 8 cylinder radial engined plane cross the Atlantic? The
answer is obviously no, as radial engines have to have an uneven number of
cylinders, 7 cylinder or 9 cylinders, but never 8.
So to this week. Study the photograph – what is it, and who
drove it? I want to know both.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email
[email protected] or
[email protected]. Good luck!
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 few years ago (sponsored by Viagra?). I think
they are still in use today!
After the British GP, will we get the same
sort of racing? Well it is in the middle of the Rainy Season in Hungary which
runs from January to December, so some wet weather running is likely. There are
also some fired-up drivers out there, trying to impress team principals for next
year. Find out this weekend.
I will be watching from my favorite roost
at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR (next to Nova Park) and the racing begins at 7
p.m. We get there early around 6 p.m. and have something to eat and wet the
whistle before the racing begins, while watching the big screen. Why don’t you
join me at around 6 p.m. for a natter and some food (the Sunday roasts are great
value) and amber liquids and then sit down for the Grand Prix.
Mirai’s for sale, with one tank of Japanese gas
Toyota has brought three Mirai’s to Australia, ostensibly to evaluate the car’s
performance under Aussie conditions.
However, the experimental hydrogen powered
cars won’t go far, as the only hydrogen station is in Sydney and Toyota is in
Melbourne. What makes it even worse, is the one in Sydney belongs to Hyundai.
Toyota has said the three cars are for
assessment and promotional purposes with the fleet soon to be followed by its
own mobile hydrogen fuel station, for obvious reasons.
The environmentally friendly Mirai will
stay in Australia for three years for local Toyota engineers to learn more about
the technology, as well as part of “key stakeholder engagement activities”,
according to the car-maker.
Joining the three Mirai’s towards the end
of the year will be a portable refuelling station that can top the car’s tanks
up anywhere, allowing the Mirais to be transported to different parts of the
country with greater ease (as long as the refueling truck goes with them).
Toyota Australia president Dave Buttner
said having three examples of the Mirai in the country will help spread the word
about hydrogen fuel-cell technology and increase its awareness.
The Mirai uses the Toyota Fuel Cell System
(TFCS), which combines fuel-cell and hybrid technology, for a cruising range of
about 550 km and a refuelling time of approximately three minutes, all while
emitting only water vapour.
Hyundai Motor Company Australia imported a
left-hand drive zero-emissions ix35 Fuel Cell two years ago to highlight the
technology, with the hope of eventually being able to hold commercial trials,
and ultimately, sell the car Down Under. However, you wouldn’t know it was
With just a spare 5 million the new Aston is yours
The world media has been full of the news that Aston Martin has teamed up with
Red Bull to produce a hypercar codenamed AM-RB 001.
With the full unveiling of the concept at
the company’s headquarters in Gaydon, England, Aston Martin has set an arrival
date for the production version of 2018 and revealed that a maximum of 150 will
be built, as well as 25 track-only versions.
Aston has revealed it will be powered by a
naturally aspirated, V12 and the power-to-weight ratio is reputed to be one
brake horsepower per each kilogram of weight. No definitive figures have come
from Aston Martin, but it would be a fairly safe bet that the power will be
around 600 kW.
To keep the weight down to 600 kg, a
carbon-fiber structure will be used and expertise in carbon-fiber will from both
the Red Bull Formula One team and one of the world’s leading racecar designers,
“I’ve always been adamant that the AM-RB
001 should be a true road car that’s also capable of extreme performance on
track, and this means it really has to be a car of two characters,” said Newey.
“That’s the secret we’re trying to put into this car – the technology that
allows it to be docile and comfortable, but with immense outright capabilities.”
The significant power output will be sent
to the bitumen via a “clean-sheet design” transmission, while the suspension
system will also be closely related to racing technology. In the interests of
weight-saving, the production car will drive only the rear wheels.
No mention of hybrid power systems was made
at the release, indicating that Aston Martin has bucked the hypercar design set
by McLaren, Ferrari and Porsche, all of which use hybrid technology in their
fastest road cars to date.
Aston Martin’s chief creative officer Marek
Reichman explained, “By definition the objectives we’ve set for the car ensures
there has never been an Aston Martin – or any car, actually – quite like the
AM-RB 001. The shared challenge has been finding that magical tipping point
where we achieve the most efficient engineering solutions and the most beautiful
styling solutions without any compromises.”
Both track and road versions of the AM-RB
001 will be built in Aston Martin’s specialized facility that was purpose-built
for the construction of the company’s ultra-exclusive One-77 in 2012.
Aston Martin says the finished product will
be able to lap a Formula One track as fast as a current F1 car – if not faster.
Along with all the design details hinted
at, but not confirmed, the price is expected to be between 5 and 10 million
dollars. Since Aston Martin has not turned a profit for at least five years,
they will need to sell a lot of them!
New Mazda BT-50 no longer a Ranger knock-off
News is out from Japan that the
next generation Mazda BT-50 will be coming down an Isuzu assembly line, joining
the Isuzu D-Max and the Chevrolet Colorado.
Up till now, the Mazda pick-up has shared
design details with Ford’s Ranger, and whilst Ranger has been a brilliant
success for FoMoCo, the BT-50 has been left lingering.
Mazda announced that the basic agreement
signed by the two auto-makers this week follows an earlier agreement between
General Motors and Isuzu from late-2014 confirming that they would co-develop
the next-generation D-Max and Chevrolet Colorado.
The Mazda deal means there will be three
models – the D-Max, Colorado and BT-50 replacement – sharing basic architecture
in a similar way to Nissan’s NP300 Navara which will form the basis for alliance
partner Renault’s just revealed Alaskan and the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz
pick-up, likely to be called GLT.
It is understood that the Mazda will have
its own look to differentiate it from the Isuzu/Colorado models in the
competitive one-tonne pick-up market, but information on possible shared
powertrains is unclear.
Mazda and Isuzu have been collaborating for
more than 10 years, with Isuzu building commercial trucks for Mazda specifically
for the Japanese domestic market.
In a statement, the two companies confirmed
that Isuzu would produce the next-gen pick-up for Mazda based on its own
pick-up, adding that the agreement would allow “Isuzu to enhance its product
competiveness and Mazda to strengthen its product line-up and maintain own-brand
Little else is known about the future Mazda
pick-up at this stage, but given the announcement has just been made, it is
unlikely the next-gen BT-50 would be in the showrooms before 2019.
Can’t afford the AM? Ford has the answer
If the 5 million is just out of
your budget, then try the new Ford Focus RS. This truly pocket rocket has modes
the driver can select, including a “drift” mode, where at the press of a button,
drivers can perform a perfect “drift” (a sideways four-wheel skid) providing
they floor the throttle and turn the steering wheel.
The so-called “safety” experts
are throwing their hands in the air saying there is nothing stopping the
so-called “drift” mode from being used on public roads. Ford’s reply, “Drift
mode is targeted for track use only - a disclaimer appears on (the instrument)
cluster when switching modes. We believe the drift and track modes are
appropriate for racetracks, and that typical Focus RS customers will understand
the need to deploy these features under controlled and safe conditions such as
during a track day.”
Jumping on the ‘speed kills’
bandwagon, the “safety” experts (in Australia) are claiming road deaths in the
12 months to the end of May show the toll has increased by 9.8 percent, with
So far this year, road deaths
are up by 14.6 percent nationally to the end of May, with 551 fatalities.
Former president of the
Australian Medical Association, Professor Brian Owler, said, “They’re obviously
marketing the car to young people who are interested in that type of driving.
The problem is most people don’t have access to a race track. Without a race
track it’s inherently dangerous.”
Save me from do-gooders. The
“inherently dangerous” Focus RS 500 is not even released in Australia. Cars
don’t kill people. It is people that kills people. With all the latest
electronic aids, the Focus RS 500 is inherently safer than other non-performance
cars on the roads, driven by your “average” driver.
Last week I asked why did one of
the automakers incorporate a fifth wheel in the design in the late 40’s early
50’s? The fifth wheel was used in place of parallel parking by swinging the tail
of the car into position.
So to this week. Did an 8 cylinder radial engined plane
cross the Atlantic?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email
[email protected] or
[email protected]. Good luck!
M-B shows how to
make your cars fugly
The AMG group (part of Mercedes-Benz) have developed the AMG
sports car and the latest version is the first AMG to use the new “Mercedes-AMG”
nomenclature and the first model to make use of the new twin-turbo, 4.0-liter
V-8 engine. It may be the contender in the Porsche marketplace, but this new
version front is far from enticing. Shoot the stylist – or was it Chris Bangle?
Autonomous car in fatal accident
The anti-autonomous group are busy saying, “I told you so.
That’s the end of Tesla.” However, when you look back at the history of the
motor car, there have been millions of deaths from conventional cars and it
didn’t stop the development of that group, did it.
Tesla Motors Inc. says the self-driving feature suspected of being involved in a
May 7 fatal crash is experimental, yet it’s been installed on all 70,000 of its
cars since October 2014.
For groups that have lobbied for stronger safety rules, that’s precisely what’s
wrong with U.S. regulators’ increasingly anything-goes approach.
“Allowing automakers to do their own testing, with no specific guidelines, means
consumers are going to be the guinea pigs in this experiment,” said Jackie
Gillan, president for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a longtime
Washington consumer lobbyist who has helped shape numerous auto-technology
mandates “This is going to happen again and again and again.” (Give me
The May crash under investigation involved a 40 year old Ohio man who was killed
when his 2015 Model S drove under the trailer of an 18-wheeler on a highway near
Williston, Florida, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The truck driver
told the Associated Press that he believes the Ohio man may have been watching a
movie. Authorities recovered a portable DVD player but don’t know whether it was
playing at the time of the crash.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Thursday that it is
investigating the crash, which comes as the regulator says it is looking for
ways to collaborate with the industry. The agency negotiated an agreement to
speed the introduction of automatic emergency braking earlier this year,
frustrating safety groups who say they had no input and said carmakers’ pledges
to install the technology couldn’t be enforced by law.
NHTSA is also expected to announce guidelines that will set some parameters for
self-driving cars on U.S. roads. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told
reporters Wednesday the agency would be as exact as it could without being
In January, Foxx and NHTSA chief Mark Rosekind announced in Detroit that they’d
allow automakers to demonstrate the safety of autonomous vehicles and apply for
exemptions to existing safety rules. They said the government shouldn’t stand in
the way of technological progress.
In the Florida crash, Tesla’s “Autopilot” semi-autonomous driving feature failed
to detect the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so
it didn’t hit the brakes, according to the company.
The company says the cars are safer than conventional ones. Tesla said the May
accident was the first known fatality in more than 130 million miles of
Autopilot driving. That compares with one fatality in every 94 million miles
among all U.S. vehicles, according to Tesla.
“Autopilot is by far the most advanced driver-assistance system on the road, but
it does not turn a Tesla into an autonomous vehicle and does not allow the
driver to abdicate responsibility,” the company said. “Since the release of
Autopilot, we’ve continuously educated customers on the use of the feature,
reminding them that they’re responsible for remaining alert and present when
using Autopilot and must be prepared to take control at all times.”
BMW announced its own self-driving car venture partnering with Intel Corp. and
Mobileye, aiming for cars on the road by 2021. Even on the day of the
announcement, company executives were cautious about the limits of technology
that allows people to drive hands-free.
In February, a Lexus-model Google self-driving car hit the side of a bus near
the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters. The vehicle was in autonomous mode
going about 2 miles per hour around sandbags in the road. Google’s software
detected the bus but predicted that it would yield, which it did not, according
to a company report about the incident. There were no injuries reported at the
scene, the company said. “In this case, we clearly bear some responsibility,
because if our car hadn’t moved there wouldn’t have been a collision,” Google
said in its report. (That is as silly as the statement that accidents with
farangs wouldn’t have happened if the farang hadn’t come to Thailand. Certainly
the software covering autonomous cars is not yet foolproof, but human control is
not foolproof either!)
What did we learn from the British GP?
Well we learned, if we didn’t know before, that England has a miserable climate,
but despite this, 139,000 people came to Silverstone to watch “their” race. They
were rewarded with an all the way win by Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) to make it
three British GP wins on the trot, to emulate the late and great Jim Clark.
The race began after a heavy rain storm behind the safety car. One has to ask
why? These are a bunch of the best drivers in the world, who should be able to
handle rain, hail or snow. They do not need a nanny to make sure they have a
After the half a dozen laps trundling round behind the safety car, the race
proper began, with almost everyone diving into the pits to change to
intermediate tyres, with some close shaves in the pit lane.
Immediately Hamilton left the field in his spray, and was never under threat at
any time. It was a masterful drive in less than ideal track conditions. He was
followed by his team mate (and pretender to the throne) Nico Rosberg who only
lasted a few laps before Max Verstappen (Red Bull) pounced and swept round the
outside of Rosberg to take over second. This did not last too long, and as the
track dried Rosberg was able to power past the Red Bull to finish second on the
track. However, following application of more FIA rubbish rules, Rosberg was
penalized 10 seconds for getting radio assistance with his gearbox, demoting him
to third and elevating Verstappen.
Meanwhile Verstappen’s team mate Ricciardo just slipped slowly backwards, unable
to get close enough to be a threat, finishing fourth. Ricciardo later complained
that the “virtual safety car” periods disadvantaged him and he had a “boring”
race. I would agree that his performance was indeed “boring”. Ricciardo will
have to pull his finger out, as he is being overshadowed by the young
Ferrari had a dreadful day, but at least Kimi produced some sort of rabbit from
the hat with his fifth place (perhaps Ferrari were correct in extending the
Finn’s contract). Sebastian Vettel in the other red car could do no better than
ninth, including a five second penalty for gently moving Massa off the track,
which actually was a racing incident and not requiring stewards enquiries. The
name of this game is motor “racing”. Let the drivers race like they always used
FIndia had a good weekend with Perez and Hulkenberg sixth and seventh. The
Mexican is certainly doing better than Hulkenberg, who was once the hottest
property around. He will soon be approaching his use-by date if he isn’t
One driver who did impress was Sainz in the Toro Rosso who showed the style of
rally driving reminiscent of his father in coming eighth.
After that were the real also-rans including McLaren. How the mighty have
fallen, taking the reputations of Alonso and Button with them.
Of interest were the fastest laps:
1 N Rosberg Mercedes 1:35.548
2 F Alonso McLaren 1:35.669
3 L Hamilton Mercedes 1:35.771
4 D Ricciardo Red Bull 1:36.013
5 F Massa Williams 1:36.141
6 M Verstappen Red Bull 1:36.407
Rosberg was the quickest car out there, but obviously unable to string them all
together. Hamilton was only third and Verstappen sixth. Alonso second despite
1. L Hamilton Mercedes
2. M Verstappen Red Bull
3. N Rosberg Mercedes
4. D Ricciardo Red Bull
5. K Raikkonen Ferrari
6. S Perez Force India
7. N Hulkenberg Force India
8. C Sainz Toro Rosso
9. S Vettel Ferrari
10. D Kvyat Toro Rosso
The next race is in Hungary July 24.
Honda looking ahead – well ahead
A future Honda?
According to a report from Honda Japan, the first autonomous Honda is just four
years away. “Honda continues to conduct research and development of self-driving
functions and aims for the actual application of these technologies on the
highway by 2020.”
Rather than throwing skepticism in the autonomous corner, Honda states that the
safety advances are not just down to vehicle technology, and its ambitious plan
will only become a reality with similar efforts in the areas of human safety
education, telecommunication networks as well as more advanced vehicles.
Quality of Honda products is also cited as a major area the company will heavily
resource and the sustainability guide quotes the philosophy of Honda founder
Soichiro Honda, “We have to aim for 120 percent product quality,” he said. “If
99 percent of the products we make are perfect, that would seem like a pretty
good record. However, the customers who become the owners of the remaining one
percent will surely consider their products 100 percent defective.”
Giving themselves a broader global focus, Honda is transitioning into using
English as its universal language, and by 2020, all international communication
will be distributed in English.
Honda also expressed goals in the logistics field with supply chain optimization
and enhancement looked upon as an opportunity to reduce costs, boost efficiency,
reduce waste and cut CO2 production.
The old empty containers problem is mentioned in Honda’s future big picture.
With more strategic management of freight, export supplies can be dispatched in
one direction and the container can be loaded with import goods for the return
journey, effectively cutting the movement of an empty truck for two journeys.
(This is somewhat utopian, and requires that there be import goods available,
something no-one has been able to provide an answer.)
Last week I asked which production sports car blanked off first gear in the
gearbox and then added overdrive on the top two to make a five speed gearbox?
The answer, and first in was Peter Eades who lives somewhere up in the mulga,
and was the Austin Healey 100.
So to this week. Why did one of the automakers incorporate a fifth wheel in the
design in the late 40’s early 50’s?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
or [email protected]. Good luck!
B-Quik goes on display
Fresh from a superb start to the new Thailand Super Series
season in Buriram last month, one of B-Quik Racing’s brace of Audi R8 LMS Cup
racecars was the star at the 4th Bangkok International Auto Salon.
The #26 Audi R8 LMS Cup
is raced by team leader Henk J. Kiks in Thailand Super Series, headlining
‘Super Car GTM’ category. The German sports car is entering its third season
with B-Quik Racing and was driven to podium success by Henk during Round 1
of 2016, held in Buriram in May. In fact it proved to be stunning start to
the season as Henk and his teammate Daniel Bilski, who is driving the second
Audi this year, finished on the podium no less than four times during the
‘triple header’ held in the North East.
We get all our tyres
for the TBX Retro Racer Escort through B-Quik as well, and I hear good
reports from other racers.
International Auto Salon is South East Asia’s biggest modified and tuning
car show and is closely modeled on the world famous Tokyo Auto Salon and as
usual this edition includes a selection of highly modified and customized
cars that have been shipped over from Japan especially for the show.)
Standing start half mile record
If you ever wanted to know what 2,300 horsepower packed into a
modern car can do, then ask madman Gidi Chamdi who set a new world record for a
standing half mile behind the wheel of a highly modified Lamborghini Gallardo
prepared by Underground Racing in the USA.
Chamdi reached a speed of over 380 km/h, which is a new world
record for a street-legal car. It’s also the first time anyone has cracked 380
km/h in the event.
Chamdi’s previous top speed for the standing half mile was 370
km/h, which he set in August 2015. However, this was eclipsed by a 375 km/h run
by KC Howeth in an Underground Racing-prepped Lamborghini Huracán just a couple
of months later. Both cars feature Underground Racing’s X package which uses
twin-turbocharging to extract the big horsepower numbers.
Initial Quality Study has Kia on top
Kia Rio 5.
Kia reported the fewest problems per 100
vehicles in the first 90 days of ownership, narrowly beating second place
Porsche. It is the first time a non-premium brand has claimed the study’s
top spot since Toyota in 1989.
21 of 33 brands
improved as overall industry quality rose 6 percent compared to 2015. The
study, released at an Automotive Press Association meeting in Detroit, also
found that domestic brands outperformed their imported rivals for just the
second time in the study’s 30 year history.
“It’s a banner year for
the industry,” Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive quality at
J.D. Power, said in an interview. “We’re really seeing tremendous
improvement in so many areas.”
The study, which many
buyers consult before purchasing a new car, looks at problems new owners
have in the first 90 days with a vehicle. The lower the score, the fewer the
number of defects and the higher the vehicle quality.
British GP this weekend
The British Grand Prix will be held this
weekend at the ancestral home of F1, with the first ever F1 GP held there in
1950 (and won by Dr Farina in the Alfa Romeo, for the collectors of F1 history).
This is a circuit that the
drivers universally like, a circuit that allows cars to pass each other (even
without the DRS and other buttons or coded messages from the pit wall), and a
Grand Prix where it is likely to rain at some point. After all, it is in
England, and they cannot possibly go three days on the trot without a good
drenching from above!
The “arena” part of the
circuit was used for the first time a couple of years back and goes from Abbey
to Brooklands corners, moving infield and adds an extra 760 m to the track
length. You will be heartened to read that Herr Tilke was not involved.
Interestingly, this modification was actually built for the MotoGP series, but
now incorporated in the F1 series after Bernie, the patron saint of King Midas
the Dwarf Enterprises, gave it his blessing. Yes, that is the same Bernie who
has masterminded such yawnfest circuits as Bahrain and Singapore. But don’t
So who should we look out
for? Mercedes is still right up there, and Rosberg and Hamilton are still at
each other’s throats. Hamilton will be trying for the win but if form is
anything to go by, the two Mercedes drivers will be fighting it out with Red
Bull and Ferrari as well as between themselves.
Will the resurgent form of
the Williams team of Bottas and Massa still be good on this track as well as the
Red Bull Ring? I believe they will.
And the Red Bull Team will
be praying that Renault can find more power. I have a sneaking suspicion their
prayers will not be answered!
All the tail end Charlies
will be tripping over each other as usual. McLaren, fortunately won’t have that
sort of a problem as the car is not quick enough to catch the wobblers up front.
The Qualifying is at 7 p.m.
on Saturday 9 and the race is 7 p.m. on Sunday 10 July. We watch the racing, on
the big screen in Jameson’s Irish Pub, Soi AR, next to Nova Park. We get there
around 6 p.m. and have something to eat (the Sunday roasts are great value) and
a small drink or two before the start. Why don’t you come and join us?
What did we learn from Austrian GP?
Well, we learned a race isn’t over till it’s over, with the
traumatic lead change on the final lap, giving the race to Lewis Hamilton
(Mercedes) relegating his team mate (and not best friend) Nico Rosberg. That
last lap contact between the two Mercedes drivers could be looked at as Rosberg
pushing Hamilton up the track, or Hamilton turning in on Rosberg.
Post-race, the stewards
decided that Rosberg was in the wrong and applied a 10 second time penalty.
However, the popular vote was that Hamilton turned in on Rosberg and made the
feeling obvious by booing Hamilton on the podium. Hamilton appears now to
consider himself a minor deity, as when asked his feeling about being booed,
replied, that he loved Austria, “So to have that kind of feeling for a country
and then have that response when you have a win, for sure it’s not the greatest,
but I forgive them. Sometimes that’s just the way it is and I don’t judge them
for that.” (I’m sure the disgruntled burghers will be so happy to receive his
With the mixed up grid
after the wet Qualifying, the first lap saw much shuffling of the order behind
Nico Rosberg, which was then compounded by the usual tyre “strategies”. Three
tyres were allowed for this meeting, soft, ultra soft and Swiss cheese. The
latter were lasting 8-10 laps, so the pits were busy.
By the time the two
stoppers and the one stoppers allowed the order to settle, Hamilton was leading
from Vettel and Raikkonen (Ferrari), Rosberg, Verstappen and Ricciardo (Red
Bull), but tyres were again going to change the order, with Vettel’s car
suffering a right rear explosion on the 27th lap,
with the unhappy German hitting the fence, bringing out the Safety Car and
another round of pit stops for tyres that might last more than 20 laps.
Rosberg looked comfortable
at the front having already taken on new tyres and in control of the situation,
while there was much passing and repassing in the middle order with Button
(McLaren) showing the younger drivers some excellent race craft ending up with a
which is almost as good as a win for Ron Dennis’ team. His team mate Alonso
experienced yet another battery/generating unit failure. Alonso will soon have
to go for training to remember what a chequered flag looks like. To continue at
McLaren next year would be nothing short of masochism.
The US team Haas continues
to amaze, Grosjean being competitive in the middle order and coming home behind
Button and ahead of Sainz (Toro Rosso), Bottas (Williams) and in 10th place
Wehrlein (Manor) who scored the first F1 point for his team. If Wehrlein keeps
this up, he and Hamilton can do some joint walking on water exercises at
The team which went home
thoroughly depressed was Force India with Hulkenberg (brake failure), who had
started from grid 2, and Perez (accident) on the penultimate lap.
It had been an exciting GP
with many changes in the order, and bodes well for Silverstone’s spectators this
weekend July 9 and 10.
Meanwhile, down at
Mercedes, the Beatles song “Come together, right over me!” is being played on
the factory PA system. However, it is obvious that the musical arranger Toto
Wolff is not amused and is considering team orders to keep his naughty children
1 L Hamilton Mercedes
2 M Verstappen Red Bull
3 K Raikkonen Ferrari
4 N Rosberg Mercedes
5 D Ricciardo Red Bull
6 J Button McLaren
7 R Grosjean Haas
8 C Sainz Toro Rosso
9 V Bottas Williams
10 P Wehrlein Manor
Natter Nosh and Noggin
The Pattaya car club meets at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next
to Nova Park. The next meeting is on Monday July 11 at Jameson’s at 7 p.m. A
totally informal meeting of like-minded souls to discuss their pet motoring (and
motorcycling) loves and hates (plus lies and outright exaggerations). Come along
and meet the guys who have a common interest in cars and bikes, and enjoy the
Jameson’s specials, washed down with a few beers. A couple of the members are
scrutineers at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, so they may have some scuttlebutt about
the F1 scene, and one is just back from driving around Australia towing a
caravan! Always a fun night. Be prepared to laugh a lot at some of the antics of
the members (when they were younger)! The Car Club nights are only on the second
Monday of the month (not every second Monday).
Last week I asked which
make of car was excluded from a special race in Holland, because it was just too
good for the opposition? It was the DAF with its belt variomatic transmission.
So to this week. What production sports car blanked off first gear in the
gearbox and then added overdrive on the top two to make a five speed gearbox?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
[email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!
Rotary 25 years ago
at Le Mans
Le Mans Mazda 787 B.
No, this is nothing to do with the charitable Rotary
organization, but everything to do with the Mazda rotary engine which won at Le
Mans 25 years ago. This is still the only time a Japanese team and a rotary
engine has won at the Le Mans 24 hours, though Toyota went very close this year,
leading until the final lap, but motor sport can be very cruel.
engine in the 787 B was designated as a R26B, a four-rotor affair that produced
an estimated 700 peak horsepower at 9,000 RPM while remaining naturally
aspirated, while generating incredible noise!
The race saw the
Rotary Mazda compete against the factory Peugeot team, the Sauber-Mercedes C11
and the TWR Jaguars. It was not the fastest car, but in endurance racing it is
necessary to have reliability, and Mazda were able to see off all the other
fancied runners, while the R26B just kept on delivering the speed to carry it to
the front of the 1991 Le Mans.
Interested in a hybrid?
Hybrid vehicles are all around us. Most of the locomotives we
see pulling trains are diesel-electric hybrids. Cities like Seattle have
diesel-electric buses. Giant mining trucks are often diesel-electric hybrids.
Submarines are also hybrid vehicles - some are nuclear-electric and some are
Any vehicle that
combines two or more sources of power that can directly or indirectly provide
propulsion power is a hybrid.
Now hybrids are
really nothing new (actually there is very little that is ‘new’ in the
automotive world). In 1901, a brilliant engineer called Dr Ferdinand Porsche
built the Lohner-Porsche. This was the world’s first ‘series’ hybrid where the
electric driving motors were powered by batteries, and the batteries were in
turn charged up by an on-board petrol engine generator. Porsche used two
‘in-wheel’ motors, a design that has been used by Mitsubishi in the MiEV range.
fact about Dr. Porsche’s design is that the Lunar Lander used the Porsche
in-wheel electric motor concept as well.
Now whilst a
hybrid is combining two different power sources, there are different ways of
going about this too. One way, known as a parallel hybrid, has a fuel tank that
supplies gasoline to the engine and a set of batteries that supplies power to
the electric motor. Both the engine and the electric motor can turn the
transmission at the same time, and the transmission then turns the wheels. With
the parallel hybrid system, either gasoline or electric power can be used.
Petrol can assist electric and vice versa, and both can run together as well as
being the single power source, generally at starting the vehicle.
this, the fuel tank and petrol engine connect to the transmission. The batteries
and electric motor also connect to the transmission independently. As a result,
in a parallel hybrid, both the electric motor and the gas engine can provide
By contrast, in
a series hybrid, the petrol engine turns a generator, and the generator can
either charge the batteries or power an electric motor that drives the
transmission. With this system, the gasoline engine never directly powers the
If that isn’t
enough complication, the Toyota Prius has what is called the Hybrid Synergy
Drive. This is really a combined hybrid (sometimes referred to as
series-parallel), a vehicle that can be propelled by gasoline (petrol) and/or
The Prius gets
its good fuel consumption figures through many factors, including: regenerative
braking, using motor-generators, which converts kinetic energy of motion into
electrical energy that is stored in the traction battery.
engine normally shuts off during traffic stops and the accessories (including
the air conditioning) are powered by the battery pack. The engine is used both
to propel the vehicle and to recharge the batteries (combined series/parallel).
Because of the availability of extra power from the electric motors for rapid
acceleration the engine is sized smaller than usual thus giving increased fuel
efficiency and lowered emissions with acceptable acceleration. Two electric
motor/generators are used: MG1 and MG2. MG1, reversible and up to 10,000 rpm,
starts the engine and provides counter torque for the Continuously Variable
Transmission (CVT). MG2 provides 50 kW (67 hp) between 1,200 to 1,540 rpm and
400 Nm torque between 0 to 1,200 rpm, contributing to performance and economy.
A Hybrid Synergy
Drive (HSD) unit can combine a planetary gearset that behaves like a
Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and is called the Power Split Device to
increase efficiency. The computer controlled HSD transaxle adjusts and blends
the amount of power from the gasoline engine and electric motor-generator(s) as
needed by the front drive wheels and rechargeable batteries.
A sealed 38
module nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery pack providing 273.6 volts, 6.5
Amp/hr capacity and weighing 53.3 kg is supplied by Japan’s Panasonic. There is
yet another type of hybrid. This is called a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). These use a
larger electric vehicle battery pack that is recharged from external sources in
order to further reduce fuel consumption. The NiMH batteries in a production
PHEV will be built to handle deeper discharge cycles without loss of lifespan
such as the NiMH battery pack in the Toyota RAV4 EV. Operation of the vehicle
will be very similar to a normal hybrid, except that the electric operation will
be more prevalent. In the case of a Prius PHEV, on the highway, the gasoline
engine will operate as before, leaving the car with the same ability to
accelerate and use freeways. When driving in slower conditions or with light
loads, the batteries will be used first in a charge-depleting mode, allowing
moderate commutes at low speeds (particularly under 65 km/h) to be driven
entirely on electricity. Once the batteries have been sufficiently discharged
the car will automatically revert back to the charge-sustaining mode of a normal
sections of the auto industry look upon hybrids as the answer to our present
crude oil ‘end of the world as we know it’ situation, but there are others that
just see the combination of gasoline and electric as merely a ‘half way house’.
I would agree with that sentiment. Why waste even more time and research
resources on what is really very outdated technology. The newer all-electric
vehicles have much more to offer us in the long run. And free us from being held
to ransom by the pimps at the pumps.
However, in the
EV scene, Tesla is leading the charge (pun intended)! More on that another day!
Hybrid Synergy Drive.
Austrian Grand Prix this weekend
The Austrian Grand Prix returns to Austria and the Red Bull
Ring. The circuit has had a revamp from Red Bull and Red Bull Racing will
naturally be hoping they can get a win on home soil.
The “Ring” has
seen many configurations of the track, mainly to slow the cars down, as speeds
of up to 256 km/h for a lap average have been recorded previously.
history is interesting. Grandstands and pit buildings were demolished in 2004,
rendering the track unusable for any motorsport category. Then in late 2004 and
early 2005, there were intense discussions concerning whether the owner of the
circuit, Red Bull, would find another use for the site, or return motor sports
to the venue. There was a circuit extension proposal using part of the old
Österreichring; however, Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz publicly announced
that he had no intention of wasting money on a race circuit.
Despite what he
had avowed before, late in 2008, Red Bull began their €70m reconstruction of the
reconstruction, the Red Bull Ring has hosted the DTM Series, F2 and also the FIA
Historic Formula One Championship.
In July 2013,
Red Bull announced that the Austrian Grand Prix would return as a round of the
Formula One World Championship in 2014. This was confirmed on 4 December 2013
when the 2014 Formula One schedule was released and included the Austrian Grand
Prix which was held on 22 June 2014.
The telecast of
this year’s race begins at 7 p.m. Thai time and we will be watching in front of
the big screen at Jameson’s Irish Pub (Soi AR) and we get there around 6 p.m.
for something to eat and a convivial drink or two before the race starts. Come
in a koala suit and barrack for Ricciardo and I’ll get Kim Fletcher to buy you a
beer or a eucalyptus leaf or something.
Last week I asked which car company, during
the war years, offered electric windscreen wipers, as well as the vacuum
operated ones? Having had a car with only vacuum wipers, I can see why electric
ones were necessary. It was Ford Motor Company and my vacuum wipers were on a
1953 V8 Customline.
So to this week. Which make of car was
excluded from a special race in Holland, because it was just too good for the
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be
the first correct answer to email
[email protected] or
[email protected] . Good luck!