Autoview Motorsport & Motoring

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 PetrĂ³leos 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.”