Autoview Motorsport & Motoring

Friday, 21 December 2012

Full grids for MSV F4

The BRDC Formula 4 Championship has now sold a remarkable 24 cars for its inaugural season, less than a month after applications were made available.
Initially series organisers MSV planned on building 20 cars but huge demand from teams and privateers means that an additional four MSV F4-013 cars will now be supplied by Ralph Firman’s RFR company.

Jonathan Palmer, Formula 4 Series Director, said: “The fact that our full grid of 24 cars has been sold in just one month is an outstanding success story in a challenging economic climate. It is also clear proof that the concept of our BRDC Formula 4 Championship is exactly what competitors have wanted for many years.” 
Palmer added: “At MSV we recognised that a new state-of-the-art single seater, with wings and slicks, the greatest control on equality and lots of track time, was vital to appeal to young aspiring F1 drivers. And that to make it attainable our F4 car had to be much more affordable than other new single seaters and also set new standards for low operating costs. I am absolutely thrilled with the response and the BRDC and MSV are very excited about making the BRDC Formula 4 Championship super-competitive and prestigious for drivers whilst providing teams with thriving sustainable operations.”

Friday, 7 December 2012

Formula Ford brings you WINGS

    Championship promoters Racing Line have announced the first worldwide test of the new-for-'13 Formula Ford racer – and it comes adorned with front & rear aerodynamic wings for the first time. The series will be part of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car package, which is due to be televised on ITV4.
 The 1.6-litre turbo's Ecoboost engine has also had a tweak to give it over 200ps. Testing is scheduled for the 15thDecember at Silverstone's Stowe circuit,but hurry places are limited!  The exclusive sampler day will cost £250 for drivers, refunded on registration for the 2013 championship – Championship promoters Racing Line released the details below:

Prospective competitors for next year’s BTCC-supporting Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship will get their first chance to drive the new EcoBoost 200 car next month.
The first two Formula Ford chassis to be fitted with front and rear aerodynamic wings and power-boosted 1.6-litre turbocharged EcoBoost engine will be in action on Silverstone’s Stowe circuit on Saturday 15th December, and championship organisers are expecting heavy demand for test drives.
We will be limiting testing to 18 prospective drivers that day and we are expecting the first wave of places to be filled quickly by drivers wishing to be the first anywhere in the world to sample the new Formula Ford,” said Sam Roach, of championship promoter RacingLine.
Each of them will get a drive slot in order to sample the new car and they will also have the opportunity to meet representatives of the teams planning to contest the series, meet the Formula Ford championship organisation and take part in technical and sporting presentations.”
Although driving slots are limited, non-driving guests are welcome to attend for the full day. Drivers wishing to be considered for a test are asked to submit their applications and racing CVs to championship co-ordinator Penny Mattocks via email:
The Formula Ford EcoBoost 200, which will race for the first time next Easter, will be the quickest junior single-seater in the UK thanks to a remapped engine producing in excess of 200 PS. The chassis is equipped with a fully adjustable aerodynamic package, FIA safety compliant chassis, Formula 3-specification six-speed sequential gearbox and on-board data logging and track mapping.
Formula Ford has signed to support the UK’s premier motorsport package, the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, for the next three seasons. The deal includes live TV at each of the 10 events, broadcast on ITV4.
The first 15 drivers to sign up to contest the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain will receive free championship registration and race entries for 2013, as well as free pre-event testing.
The opening rounds of the 30-race championship are scheduled for 30/31 March at Brands Hatch, the birthplace of Formula Ford in 1967.”

More information is available from

Full article at Petrol Heaven

Monday, 24 September 2012

MP Motorsport win Britcar 24hr

 In the 8th running of the 24 hour Britcar event and with conditions worsening, the MP Motorsport team took their class two BMW E46GTR to overall victory at the Silverstone circuit.The Mission Motorsport crew of injured ex-servicemen brought their Nissan 370Z home in a remarkable 17th place, 9th in class, with one-legged driver Jimmy Gillborn taking the 'driver of the weekend' award.
As the rain pounded the track, Richard Abra nursed MP Motorsport's BMW E46 GTR for the last 60 minutes of the race, protecting the team's (Richard Abra, Mark Poole, Clint Bardwell and Michael Symons) 4 lap lead and ensuring a comfortable win, and also Class Two honours.Class One fell to the MB Racing Aston Martin GT3 rather easily after problems befell their competitors, Neil Garner Motorsport’s Mosler their nearest challenger in sixth after late, wheel hub problems. Perfection Racing Europe completed the overall podium with their Aston Martin GT4, though 37 laps behind MP Motorsport.Red Camel/ SEAT finished fourth overall and won Class four, with Brunswick Automotive keeping second place by a lap over the Toyota Team GB team. The Martin Short led Rollcentre Racing GT86 completed the overall top ten, but lost out on the class four podium.
2012 Britcar 24 Hours unofficial Final Standings
Class One:
1 – MB Racing – West/Wall/Brown/Cripps
2 – Neil Garner Motorsport – White/Cintrano/Morcillo/Sharpe
3 – Team LNT – Tomlinson/Kimber-Smith/Dean/Simpson
Class Two:
1 –
MP Motorsport – Poole/Symons/Bardwell/Abra
2 – Optimum Motorsport – Osborne/Mowle/Fletcher/Rattenbury
3 – GT Classic – Fairbairn/Littlejohn/McLean
Class Three
1 – Perfection Racing – Spires/Jensen/Johanson/Holmgaard/Klosterman
2 – MMC Motorsport – Spencer/Cassar/Lewis/Pettit
3 – Corum Sport – Anley/Joseph/Hyman/Ellis
Class Four
1 – Red – Breukers/Thijssen/de Heus
2 – Brunswick Automotive – Griffiths/Green/Kirkpatrick/Forsbrey
3 – Team Toyota GB – Hodgetts/Hodgetts/Primrose/Meaden


Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Toyota Hybrid Racer Withdrawn Due To Testing Accident

From the Toyota Hybrid Racing website, we have just learned that a testing accident has written off one of their fledgling racers chassis. The full release from Toyota says:
TOYOTA Racing regrets to announce that, as a result of a testing accident, it is not able to participate in the WEC Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
During testing at Paul Ricard, on Wednesday 4 April, the TS030 HYBRID was involved in an accident which damaged the team’s only monocoque.
Regrettably this damage is too severe to repair. A replacement monocoque cannot be produced and sufficiently tested to ensure reliability within the limited time available.
Therefore TOYOTA Racing has informed the organizers of the FIA World Endurance Championship of its decision to withdraw from the WEC Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, due to be held on 5 May. The team will make its first appearance at the Le Mans 24 Hours in June.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, TOYOTA Racing Team President: “We are deeply saddened to announce this decision and our sympathies are with the drivers, team members and fans who have been anticipating the Spa race so eagerly. Since the accident we have looked into all options but unfortunately there is no alternative course of action open to us.”
TOYOTA Racing will now urgently prepare a new monocoque to allow it to resume testing as soon as possible and prepare itself for the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Formula 1 2012 Season Preview

Lewis quickest

On the eve of the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, Autoview brings you the low-down on what promises to be an epic season. 12 teams, 24 drivers, 6 World Champions!

Friday, up and down the pit lane, the buzz was intense with no one team truly knowing where they stood before the Saturday qualifying joust began the action in earnest.

Mclaren and Lewis Hamilton powered into a dominant early lead in qualifying 3, which he was never to relinquish, the only serious challenge came from team mate Jenson Button, however the top 8 were covered by less than a second, which shows the competitiveness of the whole field - HRT excepted, the spanish squad failing to make the 107% cut-off time and therefore travelling all the way to Australia to not race - oh dear!

Romain Grosjean, brought back from the after-life of GP2 competition - where he was series champion last year - excelled with a time only 2 1/4 tenths slower than the Mclaren of Jenson Button, very impressive for a young driver who has only driven the Albert Park circuit twice in his career. His much more experienced -  and also returning from the wilderness - team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, was not as pleased with his afternoon's endevour, a beautifully held slide at a very fast part of the circuit, followed by a communication error with his team, meant a misjudging of the number of timed laps left - result = Raikkonen 18th on the grid - look out for fireworks as he powers his way through the slower runners.

Mercedes are embroiled in a deal of controversy, with several teams threatening to protest their rear wing, DRS activated F-duct system (it's complicated!), this didn't stop Michael Schumacher from blitzing his way into 4th spot on the grid, 3 tenths quicker than Mercedes compadre Nico Rosberg, who must surely deliver on his promise this year, and starts from 7th place on the grid.

Double world champion Sebastian Vettel never really seemed as comfortable in his RB8 (not sure if he's named it yet!) as he did with dirty Kate and filthy fiona (or whatever!) last year, but although he was outqualified by team mate Mark Webber it was by the slightest of margins, less than a hundredth of a second between them, although Mark Webber lost his KERS electric-motor boost for quali 3. They line up fifth and sixth, and will be expecting to make forward progress!

Pastor Maldonado : “It was a great start to the season for the team today. We have shown that we are competitive, and we now need to keep pushing. The car has been improving throughout the weekend, and we need to keep going in that direction. It’s now down to our pace and strategy for tomorrow’s race.”

So the neat, tightly packaged williams looks good and about time too! let's hope Pastor can keep it out of the fence! Bruno Senna didn't fare as well on his debut for Williams, ending the day over 7 tenths farther back from his Venezuelan team mate, in fairness though he didn't get a full day's running on Friday - Senna starts the race from 14th

Nico Hulkenburg and Paul di-Resta had very mixed fortunes, Nico settling into 9th position, with a time that was over half a second slower than Pastor Maldonado - though whether that was just to ensure the place, as daniel Ricciardo in tenth didn't run - and Paul a lowly 14th, disappointed that he didn't work his tyres hard enough on his out-lap to a sufficient heat in them. Hopefully we should see a determined Paul trying to make his way forward along with Kimi tomorrow!

Daniel Ricciardo qualified a magnificent 10th at his his home Grand Prix, just a place ahead of his Rookie team mate Jean-Eric Vergne. Both drivers are highly thought of, having been very successful in the lower formulae. But Ricciardo has a little something about him, and I suspect he will make his own luck tomorrow and spring something of a surprise.

Have I forgotten someone?? oh yes..... Marussia they finished 21st and 22nd

All that remains is to set the alarm clock for 5AM and make sure the kettle is in the tyre warmers!

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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Infiniti - Emerg - E - Hybrid Concept sports Coupe

Infiniti Emerg -e's and seduces Lady

Infiniti is a Nissan spin-off,  much like Lexus is Toyota's luxury and sporting brand. Created as an entirely new brand and launched initially in the U.S in 1989, Infiniti hasn't quite captured european imaginations conceptually un-like Lexus, but with new creations such as Emerg - E and Infiniti's sponsorship of Formula 1 World Champions Red Bull, maybe that's all about to change!

The Emerg-E has been designed using funding from a UK government sponsored initiative to produce clean technology cars, and is the first Infiniti to be designed in Europe.

That the car is striking there can be no doubt, with its mid-engined rear wheel drive layout, it features a Lithium-ion battery pack and two electric motors to provide enough thrust to make 0-60MPH possible in just 4 seconds! thanks to over 700lb-ft of Torque being available as soon as you depress the (not-so) loud pedal.

No word on whether the Emerg -E will make it to production (let's hope they change the name if it does!) but we will almost certainly see some of the technology lifted from this sexy beast!

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Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Bentley EXP 9 F - SUV Concept

Bentley EXP 9F at the Geneva show

Bentley has unveiled its latest concept the EXP 9F at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show which runs from the 8th -18th March. In case you were wondering F stands for Falcon, as the team at Bentley feel that this Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) shares features in common with this fastest of all earth's animals (Falcons can apparently achieve upwards of 180MPH in flight!).

The Bentley EXP 9F will be powered by the company's W12 engine and will be the very last word in 4 X 4 luxury, complete with champagne chiller cabinets and Traditional handcrafted elements such as wood, leather and polished metals including aluminium, bronze and gunmetal are used to create a decadent sense of British luxury, soft-touch leather contrasts with highly durable surfaces.

Looking a lot like a cross between a Range Rover and the BMW X5 you can't really blame Bentley for jumping on the 4 X 4 bandwagon, with emerging markets such as China, India and Russia clamouring for this kind of vehicle, but it seems a pointless irrelevance when most of the rest of the motoring world are rushing to develop smaller, lighter and more fuel-efficient transportation devices. Bentley used to be a company which innovated, not followed the herd. Would W.O Bentley be proud of this behemoth bearing his name?

It's not entirely fair to say that Bentley are doing nothing towards a more environmentally sustainable future, with the company looking towards Bio-fuels to power their future internal combustion engines (ICE), but they're hardly pushing the bounds of what's feasible, and their future seems to depend on ensuring that the obscenely wealthy keep squandering our precious and finite resources whilst looking down their noses at the rest of humanity cycling in the gutters.  Well done Bentley!

1st Class carriage 

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Williams FW34

The FW34 pictured at Jerez

The formerly all-conquering Williams F1 Team showed off it's 2012 ride in Jerez. Brazil's Bruno Senna joins the Venezualan Pastor Maldonado as race drivers in the Williams Renault FW34. Significant changes are the still very strange looking 'Platypus' nose and Renault engine (replacing last years cosworth unit).  This is the team’s 35th year competing in the sport.

The mechanical and aerodynamic design and development direction of the FW34 has been driven by a new technical leadership. Guided by Technical Director Mike Coughlan, this year’s car takes on a fresh design philosophy. Revised FIA technical regulations - of which the most significant are bans on exhaust blowing and exotic engine mapping and a drop in nose height, the FW34 carries fewer than five per cent of the parts from last year’s FW33.

The team will also race with a new driver pairing in 2012 as Bruno Senna partners Pastor Maldonado after a considered winter evaluation process. Finn Valtteri Bottas completes the driver line up as Official Reserve Driver, taking part in most of the season’s Friday practice sessions.

Williams rejoins Renault for its engine partnership. Williams and Renault enjoyed a nine-year association between 1989 and 1997 which produced four Drivers’ and five Constructors’ titles and 63 race wins. The French manufacturer’s RS27 V8 power unit is renowned for its drivability, flexibility and durability and will provide the FW34 with a strong performance platform for the forthcoming season.

Powering the team’s efforts in this year’s championship will be a broad partner group. Existing partners, including Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), Venezuelan Tourism, Randstad, Thomson Reuters, Ridge Solutions, Hatch and McGregor will be joined by new additions confirmed today. Gillette, Embratel, Head & Shoulders, OGX and MRV, together with Michael Johnson Performance announced in January, will all be supporting the team as it works towards a competitive season of Formula One motor racing.

Frank Williams, Team Principal:
“One could say that looking at the Williams F1 Team today we are off to a truly fresh start. We have a new car, new driver line up, new engine and new senior personnel. We also have a number of new partners who have joined the team in the past few months. I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome them formally and sincerely wish that they have an enjoyable and, most importantly, a valuable experience with us. The team has had a good winter at the factory and we feel ready and strong for the fight.”

Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer:
“We are really looking forward to this season and from a personal perspective I can't wait to get the FW34 on to the race track. The factory has worked extremely hard over the winter to ensure that the car met its design, build and rig test targets and we start testing with the car prepared to a high standard. We’ve worked in close co-operation with all of our partners to achieve that, including Renault Sport F1. In the run-up to Australia, we will be working hard with our exciting new driver line-up to ensure that we maximise and unlock the full potential of the FW34. It is imperative that we demonstrate a continuous improvement in our performance and deliver results throughout the season.”

Pastor Maldonado:
“I'm happy to be racing again with Williams. I have faith in the FW34 and the Renault engine and so have high hopes for the races ahead. It will be very important that we develop the car from the start of the season to the end. Now that I have a year’s experience, I can help in that area much more now. As we start a new year, it's an exciting moment for my country Venezuela and I hope we can give them some good results to thank them for their continued support. We have many new components in the team so we will need to be focussed and work together well so that we may be stronger every day. I wish everyone in the team the best for the year and welcome Renault and Bruno.”

Bruno Senna:
“I’m very excited to be back in action with the Williams F1 Team in Jerez. This is my ever first pre-season testing programme since I started in Formula One two years ago. I’m really motivated and looking forward to working hard and with everyone in the team. I hope we have a successful month testing and developing the car so we arrive in Melbourne as well prepared as possible.”

Valtteri Bottas:
“I am really excited about the year ahead and grateful to the team for giving me this opportunity. I will be driving one practice session at 15 races which will give me some proper mileage with the car. This will give me a better understanding of the car as well as an insight into what happens at a race weekend. I will still spend a lot of time at the factory preparing for the practice sessions and helping the team to develop the car over the season.”

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Pirelli intend to spice up Formula 1 in 2012

Pirelli motorsport chief Paul Hembery spoke to the BBC about the changes the company has made to the F1 tyres this year. He said: 'At the end of last year, if anything, we were being slightly criticised for being a bit conservative, which was strange after the start we had. So we had to make some changes to the slick tyre in particular. We've got three new compounds, new hard, medium and soft tyres, much more aggressive, softer in the direction of performance, a new profile, which gives a larger footprint. That means putting a lot more rubber on the track and allows us to use those softer compounds and hopefully (re)create some of that excitement from earlier in the season.' Hembery said the idea was to spice up the racing even more than in 2011. 'I think we'd all like to see closer racing at the front. The midfield battle was fascinating. If that could transform itself to the front, we're in for an exciting season because then the differences in tyres can come through in a much more determining fashion. They've got to work with the strategies, the drivers can have a big impact on the performance of the tyres, the degradation and the wear life.'"

Range Extended Electric vehicle becomes first to Finish Gruelling Dakar Rally

The Oscar eo in action

A Latvian Rally team has stunned the Motorsport world by conceiving, building and then finishing the most gruesome and gruelling of all the worlds motorsport events in an electric vehicle. 

The 5,600 miles between Mar del Plata in Argentina and Lima in Peru represent some of the most hostile terrain that any vehicle could face. 742 competitors started the Dakar this year, and with the OSCar eo finishing an impressive 77th place overall. Although, there isn't as yet a category for fuel efficiency, the OSCar would have surely won it!

A series hybrid configuration was chosen as the most appropriate for the rally. A single 235 kW / 800 Nm permanent magnet electric motor was coupled directly to a 6-speed transmission which produced enough torque to negotiate the huge sand dunes as well as allowing a satisfactory maximum speed of 120 km/h on off-road terrain. A 60 kW range extender was in constant operation during the rally to maintain the charge level of the 52 kWh Li-ion battery pack from Winston Battery. Range extender’s petrol tank was sized at 240 litres, giving the overall autonomy of up to 1000 km. The team recorded 50% reduction in fuel consumption relative to the conventionally powered rally-raid cars. A significant contributor to this economy was the regenerative braking function of the electric motor, operated by a dedicated hand-lever in the cockpit.

The eO team was thrilled to have completed the rally with no major electrical problems, despite the extensive and harsh loads and the ambient temperatures often in excess of +40C. The well-prepared and robust technologies allowed the crew to focus on the driving duties. Reaching the finish of each leg was indeed no mean feat as even the leading drivers noted that the organizers had laid out an exceptionally difficult route this year.

Finishing the last stage of the rally Māris Saukāns, the project initiator and OSCar eO pilot, said: “This is a great achievement for the whole team and is likely to have implications of a global scale. Motorsport has once again successfully demonstrated new applications of alternative energies and has identified new directions for development.”

Andris Dambis, the technical director and OSCar eO co-driver, agreed: “This is a new highlight in my motorsport engineering career. I am excited to be leading such a rapid development of the future technologies.”

The brand name Drive eO has earned its recognition during the Dakar rally and further public appearances are planned for the near future. The OSCar eO vehicle will showcase its technologies at motorsport, trade and public events. The company is also currently completing its first road-going electric vehicle conversions as part of a larger programme to develop and market electric drive solutions.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Force India VJM05 Launched - Caution may make you wince

Paul Di Resta Force India VJM05 - Silverstone
On Friday the 3rd February 2012 Paul Di Resta and Nico Hulkenburg launched the all-new Force india VJM05 in front of a selection of journalists and invited guests (click the title of this article to see video footage of the car from Silverstone).

The VJM05 (designated after Force India owner ViJay Mallya) is the latest car launched to follow the 'Platypus' nose trend, but this one looks quite cute fetching a rolled up carbon fibre newspaper in it's mouth - awww sweet. The sidepods look to have a more tightly curved lower edge and seem to be slightly shorter too, other than that the car is visually similar to last years VJM04.

Once again the Sahara Force India cars will be powered by the Mercedes 2.4 litre V8 engines with gearbox supplied by McLaren Applied Technologies. This will be the second season with the Mercedes KERS. Here's what the key team members had to say at the launch.

Paul Di Resta
“Seeing the new car built and complete for the first time is always an exciting moment. It’s when you realise that all the waiting is finally over and the season is beginning for real. I’ve had a good winter and I’ve recharged my batteries, but now I’m fully focussed on 2012 and looking forward to the start of testing. There’s a really positive feeling in the team, good stability and hopefully we can pick up where we left off at the end of last year.”

Nico Hulkenberg
“I saw the new car in the wind tunnel a few times and followed its progress during the winter. It looks aggressive and fast, but we won’t know where we stand until we get out there and compete against the others. Preparations for the new season have been full-on with simulator sessions and lots of fitness training. I feel ready to get back to racing and I’m excited to find out what the new car feels like next week.”

Otmar Szafnauer - Chief Operating Officer
“The new car has come together nicely over the winter. We don’t know what our competitors have done, but we’ve made some gains over the winter and believe we’re in reasonable shape. It’s going to be difficult in the midfield, but our focus is on starting strongly and improving our position from last season.”

Dr. Vijay Mallya - Team Principal and Managing Director
“We have set our sights on challenging for fifth place. To do so we will need to begin the new campaign by delivering the kind of form we showed in the second half of 2011. I believe this is a realistic goal and that we have the talent and determination to realise these ambitions.”

A Duck-billed platypus delivering it's carbon newspaper

Friday, 3 February 2012

Ferrari F2012 launched - Another hideous nose job!

2012 Ferrari F2012

Ferrari's launch was cancelled due to snow at Maranello, so instead they published these shots on their website. 

Personally, what with the Caterham being launched in F1 Racing magazine and now the Ferrari being launched on their website, I'm beginning to think that no want wants to see these cars in the flesh.... errr Carbon! Maybe I'm getting overexcited, perhaps these are the post-crash test photos? Even Ferrari are un-complimentary about their own car -  

"The nose has a step in it that is not aesthetically pleasing: with the requirement from the regulations to lower the front part, this was a way of raising the bottom part of the chassis as much as possible for aerodynamic reasons".

  Ok, they're here, they're (very) queer, we're going to have to get used to them, I guess.

Ferrari, say the F2012 is redesigned in virtually every area, with the front & rear wings and the engine being the components least changed. Visually, the rear of the car appears to taper less dramatically initially, then seems to be much more tightly packaged around the gearbox, and the side-pods have undergone a redesign. Ferrari aim to be at the first tests with the F2012, and then we will get some idea of the relative performance of all the challengers.

Who 'nose' what the 2012 season will bring, let's hope they all run into each other at the first corner and wipe off their ugly front ends! 

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Mclaren unveil 2012 Formula 1 car - It's still red & silver!

2012 Mclaren MP4-27

After last year's car arrived quite late and was then assembled in front of a live online and street audience in Berlin, Mclaren chose their own Mclaren Technology centre to reveal the MP4-27 to the world, and thankfully it doesn't have the hideous nose that Mike Gascoyne predicted we would see on all this years contenders!

The teams work hard every year trying to create the best performance package, and whilst it will be some time before we know who has done the best job on track this year, Mclaren seem to have once again created a good looking car. The rear bodywork is more tightly waisted around the engine and gearbox and the distinctive L-shaped sidepods from last year have gone, to be replaced with a flatter creation and the nose from certain angles seems to have a mini 'ski-slope' !

Mercedes-Benz 95kg 32 valve, 2.4 litre V8 will once again push the Mclaren forward. The car will make it's debut on the track at Jerez in spain for the first of the winter tests with Jenson Button behind the wheel on Tuesday the 7th February, with Lewis Hamilton getting his first taste of the new car on Thursday the 9th.

So does the lack of hideous carbuncle nose mean the Mclaren is going to be woefully off the pace? Are we going to see the two Caterhams fly off into the distance leaving the prettier, but ultimately nose-hampered Mclaren trailing? Let's wait and see what everybody else has come up with shall we?


Saturday, 28 January 2012

Caterham CT01 becomes first 2012 F1 car launched.....

2012 Caterham CT01

The first of the new seasons Formula 1 cars to burst into the limelight, the Caterham CT01 isn't a very pretty baby, maybe the Doctor slapped it's nose instead of it's arse and broke it ?  Worse still, if designer Mike Gascoyne is correct, they're all going to look similar in the nose department....... oh dear! 

Team owner Tony Fernandes wants to be regularly pushing the midfield runners this year, and would like to grab the occasional point or two, the team is eager to see it's 2012 challenger hit the track, when it will find out what sort of pace can be expected, Tony said of the launch :

" Yes, it's been a pretty good week. I am thrilled that we broke cover first and that the CT01 is the first example anyone has seen of a 2012 car. I think I am riding on some very good energy at the moment!
I am pleased that we were able to release pictures of our new car so soon. Riad, Mike, Mark and the whole team did a fantastic job getting all the homologation and crash tests out of the way early, and keeping on track with the car's build schedule. I am very proud that we are able to take the covers off first and I think it looks fantastic.
This car represents another step forward for us. The detail right across the whole package is light years ahead of where we were when we first started out, and we are all excited about seeing what it can do when we get on track. I'm also very pleased that we were able to show our fans the car so soon".

All the 'must have' components are present Renault RS27-2012 V8, Red Bull Technology gearbox, AP Racing Clutch, Mike Gascoyne designed chassis, so it would be good to see the team progress further into the midfield, the Tony & Mike show has been refreshing in their approach to the media, and I can't help liking Tony Fernandes, but it's such a hideous looking car, I really don't want to see it at the front....sorry chaps! 

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Plug in Van Grant to entice businesses

White van man sneaks in with electric power!

Hot on the heels of the Plug-in Car Grant at the end of 2010 (which gives a 25% discount up to a maximum of £5,000), the UK Department for Transport announced on the 17th January a similar scheme for vans.

The 'Plug-in Van Grant' will cover 20% of the cost of an eligible vehicle (qualifying vehicles will be decided before the end of January), up to a maximum of £8,000. It’ll be available to both private individuals and businesses as a discount at the point of purchase, negating the need for any retrospective claims.

To be considered for the scheme Vans will have to meet the following criteria:

  • Vehicles must be new fully electric or 'plug-in' hybrid's.

  • Gross vehicle weight (GVW) below 3.5 tonnes.

  • Plug-in hybrid's to have a minimum electric-only range of at least 10 miles (16 km).

  • 'Electric only' vans must be able to go at least 60 miles (97 km) between recharges.

  • Top speed of at least 50 mph (80 km/h).

  • Carbon dioxide emissions cannot exceed 75 g/km.

  • Vans must comply with UN-ECE Regulation 100.00 to show that they are electrically safe.

  • To demonstrate adequate crash safety, vans have to have either EC whole vehicle type approval or comply with other internationally-recognised safety standards.

  • A three-year / 60,000 miles (96,560 km) vehicle warranty is compulsory

  • The battery and electric drivetrain warranty must cover at least three years with the option for customers to extend the battery warranty for an extra two years.

Likely contenders for places on the new scheme include the new Electric Ford Transit Connect and the Renault Kangoo ZE.

Commenting on the new scheme, Under Secretary of State for Transport Norman Baker said:

“Electric vehicles are the arrowhead for a low carbon revolution in motoring and as more models come to market we’ll begin to see sales gather pace.

“Car buyers have had a year to take advantage of our grant and now it’s time for van buyers to get their chance to go electric. This is great news for businesses given the lower running costs of these vehicles - fleet buyers tell us that this is one of the most important factor influencing their decision on what to buy.

“It is radical initiatives like these which will allow us to create a transport system that both cuts carbon and is an engine for economic growth.”

The Plug-in Car Grant has been a bit of a damp squib to say the least with just 1,052 eligible vehicles  registered during 2011.

White van man will now be able to cruise silently up behind you to abuse you!

Monday, 23 January 2012

How to: Buying a car at auction

A trip to the auction to buy a used car will be an alien experience for many people; things happen at a rapid pace, and if you aren't used to the auctioneer's patter, it can be somewhat disorientating and confusing. The cars take only a  few minutes to go from 'on sale' to 'sold' at the crack of a hammer, which means it's essential to have your wits about you and be very well prepared beforehand, if you wish to purchase a car via a UK auction. There are many different types of auction too, but here I'll try to make it as easy to understand as possible.

Auction Types

There are a myriad of auction types, including Classic Cars, Commercial Vehicles, Motorcycles etc. but we're just focussing here on yer standard run-of-the-mill car auction!

Broadly speaking, the various types of auction can be boiled down into 2 categories: those for the public and those for the trade. Though having said that trade or public could be at either type of auction! The 'trade' auctions tend to be held at the large auction groups' vast premises in the day time. These are open to the public, but of course most people work during the day, so these are mainly frequented by motor traders. The traders buy cars in large volumes and so attract preferential buyers fees from the auction houses, who are only too glad to have their repeat business. The vehicles tend to come from large dealer groups, who for their various reasons (such as, the dealer group's policy means they won't sell cars to the public over a certain age, or of a certain brand) wish for a quick turnaround of the car.

There will be cars which have some issues, but you can return a car which has a major fault which was undeclared beforehand for a refund (*take care to read the auction's terms before you buy!). On the whole, however, the vehicles through these auctions are generally 'in good nick', have had a valet, often have service history and just need a tax disc to drive home.

Usually held in the early evening, these auctions tend to be frequented by people who are looking to bag a bargain and I'm sure that some do. Although, in my experience the cars tend to have seen better days, and you regularly see smoky exhausts, colour mismatched panels and hear tappy engines. Not usually that cheap either! If you are new to buying at auction or have little or no mechanical knowledge, you really would be better steering clear.

Buying at a 'Trade' auction
First of all, do your research by checking the type of vehicle you're looking for on the auction house website, as there are usually a few pictures of the car and a short appraisal of its condition. When you get to the auction make sure you know how much you want to spend and that the car(s) you want are going to fall roughly within your budget. Also be sure you have a deposit if you don't buy regularly or have set up an account (usually £500 or 20% of the hammer price minimum).

Get to the auction early, buy a catalogue or make your own notes, then seek out the car(s) you are interested in; they are usually tightly packed, but have a good look round for body damage, be there when the auction assistant starts it up, listen for it struggling to start or not, walk round the back to see if it's smoking from cold, and listen to the engine note. Open the doors and have a good look round, feel for dampness, especially in the boot, make sure all the panel colours match and there are no obvious signs of paint repair such as 'overspray'. If you decide it's for you, follow it into the auction hall, making sure you stand where the auctioneer can see you, and bid. And most importantly, DON'T go over your pre-set limit (I know you will because it takes a lot of control not to when you're caught up in the moment!). When the auctioneer points to you, you need to 'approach the bench' as it were and hand over your deposit and some details.

Here is a small sampling of the vehicles going through a 'trade' auction last monday, all prices shown are plus buyers fee, which is on a sliding scale depending on how many vehicles you buy and the hammer price of the vehicle. For a private individual this is likely to be around £400 for a £4,500 car (apologies for photo quality!) :

                A nice clean example of a Ford Focus 1.8 TDCi with 58,000 miles went for £4,400

   43,000 mile Honda Civic 1.8 '07 plate in black goes through the auction hall. It's new owner paid £6150

      A Grey Prius with 109,000 miles. This car is a '57plate and came with Full service history. Price: £5,200

                This 79,000 mile '06 plate Mazda RX8 looked immaculate but only fetched £2,300               Reliability worries of the 1300cc Rotary engine, allied to a thirst for fuel makes these coupe's look very cheap

'03 plate Porsche Cayenne

£46,660 - No, that was the cost when it was new! Having now been pre-loved for 98,000 miles and with no obvious signs of damage it fetched...... wait for it!!............. £7,200. According to What Car's online valuation service this car with that mileage has a Trade 'bottom book' value of £9,610!

So, if this article has whetted your appetite, or you would like to know more, our comprehensive auction buying services and guides will be available very soon. drop an e-mail to  and we'll make sure you are the very first to receive this remarkable insider info.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Ferrari and Lotus have new F1 ride height control system banned

Smoking OK  Dipping not Ok!

Ride-height control systems which were in development by Lotus and Ferrari have been outlawed by Formula 1's governing body, the FIA.

The two teams had previously been told the device, which aims to keep the car stable during braking, was ok, but the FIA has had a change of heart after investigations.

The new system has been designed to keep the car's ride-height constant during braking stabilising the airflow over and under the car and affecting its aerodynamic performance.

The ride-height of an F1 car moves only a few millimetres, but the more it can be kept level, the better the car's aerodynamic efficiency.

The device is operated via a front suspension mounted hydraulic cylinder which reacts to the braking forces.

It controls the length of the push-rod - the suspension arm that stretches from the springs and dampers on the top of the car's chassis to the bottom of the wheel upright - in response to braking forces. The brake caliper also moves, this system limits the amount the front of the car dips during braking.

The FIA has banned similar devices that control the movement of a car's chassis over the years. But the governing body initially felt the device in question was a part of the suspension and did not contravene that area of the rules.

F1 insiders say that, once it became clear its main role was to improve aerodynamics, banning it was inevitable.

An FIA insider said Lotus and Ferrari seemed unconcerned at the decision to ban the device.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

BBC stays silent on channel four F1 deal

F1 takes off in OZ

It's bad form to criticize the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) and it kinda rankles me to do it. I mean the BBC produces a lot, an immense amount of top quality programming (both Radio & TV), news and information, via it's numerous channels, websites and information services, and I, for one, am a big fan.

As an avid follower of Formula 1, I was really pleased when the sport came back to the BBC in 2009, and the quality of the coverage, in fact the whole package, was really excellent. Then in July 2011, the BBC announced that it was breaking it's expensive Formula 1 contract - scheduled to run until 2013 - to share coverage with Sky.

Now, meaning no disrespect to Sky, who have dedicated a whole channel to F1 (I'm sure they will do a great job), this means that F1 fans will now have to pay £10 extra on top of their existing Sky subscription (assuming they have one!) if they wish to watch all the races live (BBC will show 10 Races live, Starting with the Chinese GP and including Monaco, Silverstone and the season-ending Brazilian GP). Here is what BBC Sports Editor Ben Gallop had to say about the deal when it was announced:

"The speculation is now over. This new arrangement extends the BBC's commitment to F1 by a further five years - our existing contract, which gave us exclusive rights in the UK, was due to expire in 2013. But of course it does mean our coverage will not be as comprehensive as it has been in recent years.

So why are we sharing the coverage with Sky when up to now it had just been us?
Ultimately, of course, decisions about which media organisations get the chance to broadcast F1 are taken by Bernie Ecclestone's Formula 1 Management (FOM). But from the BBC's perspective the new set-up provided us with an opportunity to continue our association with this gripping sport, which has captured the imagination of our audiences since it returned to BBC screens in 2009, with viewing figures at a 10-year high this season.

And while our coverage from 2012 may not be as extensive as it has been up to now, the bare facts are that the BBC needs to save money. Given the financial circumstances in which we find ourselves, we believe this new deal offers the best outcome for licence-fee payers."

The F1 forums have been ablaze with comments and when news came through that Channel 4 had put in a bid to share F1 coverage with the BBC comments on the BBC's own website were vitriolic, and that's being polite! The BBC was silent, maybe ashamed, that it had to cut it's award-winning F1 coverage and hasn't answered the Channel 4 question, some commentators have speculated that it didn't want a rival terrestrial broadcaster involved with f1 - who knows?

A selection of Comments from the Daily Mail website:

Dear Duncan,

Have you watched the telly in the last week. I do not think that a lot of people have 4200 pounds lying around to pay for the next 7 years of F1 on PPV. The sports will suffer. And you sound a bit biased when you say that "Sky Sports deliver a stellar service for football, cricket and golf". More is not always better.

Posted by: Piet Boon | 08/11/2011 at 04:26 PM

The way the BBC went about this deal is a disgrace. They actively sought out Sky to ensure that F1 went to pay tv so that there wouldn't be direct competition from another FTA channel.

They then had the cheek to tell us fans that they were "absolutely delighted" with the deal, and that it is "in the interest of the license payer".

Ben Gallop get your head out of the sand and give us answers.

Posted by: Corbo | 08/11/2011 at 04:27 PM

The BBC spent licence payers' money when Channel 4 would and could have done F1 justice. Well done Ecclestone & Co winning more cash for F1 for a year or two, but the sport and the vast UK high tech industry that supports it will suffer. The BBC though appears to be hiding the upswell of anger that's been triggered by this change; if not 'hiding' the anger they are certainly not addressing it.

Posted by: Pedro | 08/11/2011 at 05:10 PM

So, it's just a sport, so what? well that's true, however Formula 1 is also an entire industry in this country particularly - Mclaren alone employ 1100 people!! and this innovative technological tour-de-force has been responsible for inspiring many brilliant engineers. Many of the advances in automotive safety & technology have been conceived, nutured and made viable, through F1. It impacts all our lives because the majority of us drive and those who don't will at some point be driven.

Where to now then?

Many of us don't wish to line Mr Murdoch's grubby pockets with our hard-earned cash, and it's unlikely that the sport will hit it's peak viewing figures any time in the near future. It's also feasible that young enthusiasts will not have the inspiration to seek out the technical challenges posed by F1, because they are unable to follow the sport. Personally, I will miss the BBC coverage, I think it hit a high note in 2011.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Avis order 100 MG6 cars for their rental fleet

MG's new 6 model

Rental company AVIS have just taken delivery of 100 MG6 GT fastbacks and MG6 Magnette sports saloons, in an exciting first for the new MG Motor company. 

Anthony Ainsworth, commercial director of Avis Rent a Car, said: ‘We are extremely pleased to see the iconic MG marque back again and know that our customers will be delighted to be offered the chance to drive an MG when they hire a car from us.’ 

The 1.8 litre turbo model, will join Avis’s national car hire fleet.

The cars are designed & engineered at MG Motor’s 69 acre plant at Longbridge where final assembly also takes place. The MG6 range starts from £15,495.00 on the road.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Watt's our driving future?

The Nissan Leaf - all electric

I know you don't want to hear this, but the oil is being used up fairly rapidly, and depending on who you listen to, will affect your view of how long it will last. argue, curse me, whatever - it isn't going to last forever. 

So, we're going to have to face it sooner or later, we need a new way to power our personal transportation systems (or CARS, as they are known here) - internal combustion of fossil fuels is going to have to start tapering off, the price of it has become ridiculous anyway, so let's explore this brave new world.

Our options currently seem to centre around: 
  1. 100% electric power
  2.  Hybrid Petrol/Diesel PLUS Electric
  3.  Hydrogen/Electric 
  4. Compressed Air
There are rumours of various other work-in-progress power sources, but things like mini-nuclear and hydrogen from water seem a bit sci-fi at the moment (if you can tell me differently, be glad to hear from you!). 

Right then, lets start with Leccy (Electric to you Sir!) 

The Nissan Leaf is one of many 100% electric zero emissions cars, on sale or due to be on-sale this year, and as electric cars go, it looks kinda like, well .... a car, which is a good start!  The perennial problem with electric cars has always been their range, (ask your milkman!) combined with a long wait for re-charging. Nissan is putting rapid charging stations at all their dealers to help overcome this problem. The rapid chargers will take just 30 minutes to bring the batteries back to 80% of their maximum charge. The home charger (16 amps) will take 8 hours, and the street charger (10amps) 12 hours. However the Leaf costs a massive £30,000 in the UK ($33,000 in the US), with a £5,000 government incentive bringing the price you pay to £25,000. Nissan claim a range of 109 miles and a top speed of 90mph. Cold weather has an effect on the distance you are going to be able to travel, and of course you might just want the heater on too, but this is going to impact the leaf's range (maybe by as much as 25 miles!), and if that cold weather journey needs to be at night then you might just want to have the lights on perhaps?...........hmmm. A new phrase is rapidly entering the english language - 'Range anxiety' - the feeling that your charge is going to be spent before you reach your destination. Premature capitulation anyone?  

The Stunning Lightning GT

But all is not doom and gloom, enter the Lightning GT, depending on your perspective it's stunning, a piece of automotive art. And the technology is clever too, Lithium Titanate batteries (a relatively new development  allowing ultra-rapid battery charging) cleverly integrated into the chassis, a 400BHP equivalent dual rear drive motor system, with 60MPH being achieved in sub 5 seconds. The makers, The Lightning Car Company, claim a 150 mile range, but as we've already seen, the cold, driving with the lights, heater on etc will surely limit the range (If the good people from Lightning want to prove me wrong, with a loan car, that's really fine!) Those Lithium Titanate batteries are key to the Lightning's effectiveness as a distance swallower, with a claimed re-charge in only 10 minutes! If that's the case, this car really is a game-changer. Imagine a business trip from Newcastle to London, stop half way for a cup of coffee, steak and balsamic shallot sandwich, and a battery re-charge - (that'll be a fiver Sir) then waft silently into London ignoring the congestion charge (FREE for zero emission cars) and park free for four hours! Tempted? Then get your cheque book ready, it's due this year and was reported to be around the £120,000 mark.

Hybrid/Range extended vehicles

The Hybrid has been around for quite some time now, the Toyota Prius celebrating  a remarkable 10 years on the road, and from owner accounts they are proving lovable and reliable, and Toyota claim over 70MPG for the latest version, although in the real world this seems to translate to around the 50-55MPG mark, similar to a current generation Diesel car. The Fisker Karma (above) is on stream and has the rear wheels powered by dual electric motors AND a 2 litre turbo petrol engine, giving this car a 6.3 second 0-60MPH time and a limited top speed of 125MPH. The Karma has an all electric range of 50 miles, thanks to it's Lithium-Ion batteries, a full solar roof, gives a total range of 300 miles. Fuel consumption is over 60mpg equivalent in all electric mode, with the petrol only figure at a fairly poor 24 MPG. So, Hybrid's have a place but they need to do much more to be a real alternative and at best can surely only be seen as a stop-gap.


Honda FCX Clarity

A real breakthrough when it was made available to lease in the Unites States, Honda's Hydrogen car, sounds like the answer to all our problems. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and Honda have very cleverly managed to produce a car with a fuel stack which converts Hydrogen into electricity to power the FCX Clarity's electric motor. It was highly thought of when James May tested the car for the BBC's Top Gear programme. Now here comes the BUT, and it's a very big capital BUT, there is currently no Network of Hydrogen filling stations and naturally enough, that's a problem. Producing sufficient quantities of Hydrogen takes a lot of energy and that has to come from somewhere! So maybe this particular solution is still a long way off, but hopefully somebody is working on the problems with this idea.

Compressed Air

I've covered compressed air power in an article posted earlier on this site about the MDI Air pod, an interesting proposition that shows ingenuity and a lot of merit.

The conclusion then is that we still have some way to go, before we find a true replacement for our much loved and loathed Internal (Infernal!) combustion engine, not forgetting that the combustion engine has had over 100 years of development thus far, another 20? 30? years of Hybrid or Electric should see us a long way down the road towards Oil freedom.  Let's just hope the stories of peak oil and energy shortage aren't quite as dire as some commentators would have us believe.