Yes, it’s happening! Despite earlier stirrings, Fernando Alonso – who one of this author’s most favored Formula 1 drivers, past and present – will be contesting the Indy 500 with McLaren after all. Due to his remarks about the Honda-supplied powerplant during his last years at the Woking outfit, it was rumored he would not contest the May motorsport spectacle with McLaren. Surprise, surprise. It will be great to see the Spaniard contest the 500 once again. If he wins, he would be come only the second driver in history to win the Monaco GP, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indy 500. One can only hope!
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how important tobacco money has been to F1 and the lack of it is making the pinnacle of motorsport a bit laughable at times.
Well, I happened upon this comprehensive interview with Ron Dennis, the man who made what McLaren was – until the consortium led by Mansur Ojjeh booted him. It’s a thoroughly pleasurable viewing experience, going way back to the days of the Brabham team, and onto the days of Senna, Mikka and more. It’s also very interesting that Phillip Morris was the primary source of funding to grow the team into what it ultimately became – multiple constructor and driver champion.
The boys at Motorsport.com + Giorgio Piola have yet again done a fine job dissecting a new F1 car launch. Namely, the new Red Bull Racing RB15. From what has been reported, Max Verstappen came away smiling about the new car. Really? Are my greatest fears coming true? That Honda has finally managed to create an iteration of the hybrid that can perform competitively with the likes to Mercedes and Ferrari (and Renault, to a certain extent)? McLaren will be pounding the ground in disgust and anger if this is the case in 2019.
As the year of 2009 nears its end, there are a number of cars to look forward to next year. The cars below are some of the cars that are likely to excite both automotive consumers and those who are in the automotive industry. Which new cars in 2010 are you waiting to hear about?
The Cadillac CTS Coupe was officially unveiled on November 23rd, 2009. In 2008, the Cadillac CTS was supposed to be the model to uplift the Cadillac brand. It looks like Cadillac is on the ball again, launching their next two-door vehicle since 2002. The only parts that the CTS coupe shares with the sedan are the instrument panel, console, headlamps, front fenders and grill. Another thing that makes this generation’s CTS apart from others is the optional between RWD and AWD. This will definitely be a Cadillac to check out.
With the current mid-sized hybrid sedan market ruled by Toyota and Honda, it is always refreshing to see how other manufacturers answer back. So what you ask did Hyundai do, to take their Sonata one step further? Current hybrids use nickel metal hydride batteries, where as the Sonata will use lithium polymer batteries. Hyundai states that the lithium batteries weigh 30% less, have a 50% less volume, and are 10% more efficient. It will be interesting to see how this new battery, from LG Chem, will hold up against nickel batteries.
In 2008, the Mazda 2 was awarded World Car of the Year. Why do most of us not know/remember this? Well, apparently, World Car of the Year, was not good enough for sale in the U.S., mostly because Mazda thought that such a small car would not offer much profitability. Well, with the boom in sales from Nissan’s Versa, and Honda’s Fit (and also partially due to the economy and rising gas prices), Mazda was definitely pounding their foreheads on that decision. It makes one wonder, is Mazda 2 late?
When McLaren teamed up with Mercedes to build supercars, they awed us all with the McLaren F1 and the SLR. That was the past, and the future will be without Mercedes-Benz. McLaren is now their own automotive division. So what does the McLaren MP4-12C offer that the Ferrari 458 Italia or Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 doesn’t? The entire frame is one piece, which makes it lighter and more rigid. We can’t wait to see how the McLaren will compete against Ferrari and Lamborghini.
Hyundai did great things with the Genesis sedan, which went after the Lexus GS and Mercedes E-Class. We are hopeful to once again be surprised by Hyundai’s quality, that will excel the Equus above the Lexus LS, Mercedes S-Class, and the rest of its competitors. Hyundai may have to bring back that commercial of different “manufacturer executives” yelling the name Hyundai.
With India’s Tata Motors recently purchasing Land Rover and Jaguar, it will be interesting to see Tata’s future plans for these automotive brands. Apparently, the 2011 Land Rover LRX will be Land Rover’s first more fuel efficient Land Rover.
Finally, the FIA has put the final rubber stamp of approval on the disputed “illegal” diffusers in use by Formula 1 teams Brawn, Williams and Toyota. The FIA’s International Court of Appeal rejected claims made by Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and Red Bull, stipulating that the diffusers being used by the aforementioned squads were in breach of the technical regulations for 2009. Furthermore, they backed the decisions of the FIA stewards at the recent races in Australia and Malaysia, where they deemed the diffusers in line with regulations as well.
It all boils down to Brawn, Williams and Toyota being smart and ahead of the curve, whereas the contesting teams were left holding the bag. Now, the “race” for the losers will boil down to retrofitting their existing chassis with look-alikes of these disputed diffusers. But considering how aerodynamics is such a black art, and with no testing allowed, how they will manage to make it work is a mystery. With this decision, it’s not a long shot for Brawn to potentially take the F1 Constructor’s title and perhaps Jenson Button taking the Driver’s title for 2009.
Here’s the statement from the FIA:
“The FIA International Court of Appeal has decided to deny the appeals submitted against decisions numbered 16 to 24 taken by the Panel of the Stewards on 26 March at the 2009 Grand Prix of Australia and counting towards the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship.
Based on the arguments heard and evidence before it, the Court has concluded that the Stewards were correct to find that the cars in question comply with the applicable regulations.
Full reasons for this decision will be provided in due course.”
Now that this particular saga is over, LET’S GET BACK TO THE BUSINESS OF RACING!
You may recognize the wrecked Porsche Carrera GT in the photo above. “Pops” Hamilton, father of 2008 Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, drove the German supercar into a fence wreaking heavy damage onto the BORROWED car. Well, like father, like son, good old Lewis drove his reputation into a fence last weekend at Australia.
After the mayhem and confusion that ensued after the finish, Jarno Trulli of Toyota was penalized 25 seconds for overtaking under yellow. FIA stewards investigated the case and bumped Hamilton up to 3rd as a result. The F1 circus packed up and left for this weekend’s race in Malaysia.
But something reared its ugly head…
Trulli’s 3rd place was reinstated and Hamilton was disqualified from the race. Apparently, Mr. Hamilton misled / lied to the stewards by withholding certain bits of information. And in his defense, he claims that he was told by McLaren’s Sporting Director, Dave Ryan, to lie to the stewards. Excusez-moi? Since when did F1 drivers do everything they are told to do by their teams?
It seems that Hamilton was caught with his hands in the cookie jar and he’s deflecting his responsibility on someone else. EVEN IF he was told to lie, how much integrity does this guy have by following what is outside the lines of sportsmanship? And now he’s snitching on Dave Ryan? Why in the world would he tell Hamilton to lie? Certainly, he would have no such authority unless someone higher up – Martin Whitmarsh? Maybe Ron Dennis himself? – told him it was okay. Regardless of whatever the scenario may have been, this seems like a case of Hamilton covering his own ass and trying to save his reputation. His reputation isn’t particularly a good one, as many have called him “arrogant”… “self-centered”… well, you get the picture. And his behavior before and after the stewards’ investigation certainly seems in line with the aforementioned adjectives.
Man up, Lewis. You screwed up.
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