Sunday, 29 May 2011

Gambling And Luck In Mental Monaco

If there weren't hundreds of cameras filming today's Monaco GP, it wouldn't have been believable. The tight and twisty nature of Monaco with no margin for error rarely serves up anything other than a feast for the eyes, but the    bruising and unpredictable encounter this afternoon was one to remember for a whole host of reasons (unless you're Lewis 'frickin' Hamilton, calling today 'one to forget', amongst other things.)

Pretty fitting really, that a race whose qualifying showdown was upset by a crash, had the same fate befall it on Grand Prix day itself. Petrov and Alguersuari's incident down by the Swimming Pool chicane threw into disarray the plans of a closing Jenson Button and tenacious Fernando Alonso on Sebastien Vettel. Without that unintentional intervention, Vettel's degraded tyres would've most likely cost him the victory, and perhaps a podium altogether. As it was, the team's ability to refresh the tyres on the grid while the race was under fed flags gifted Red Bull the win.

Armchair pundits like us could also well argue that the race was taken away from a likely winner, Jenson Button, but his teammate Hamilton, half an hour earlier. Hamilton's tactic of hanging Massa out to dry on the marbles through the tunnel won him the place he'd been fighting for when they diced at the hairpin, but it caused a safety car most incompatible with Button's recent pit stop. Hamilton suffered as well, taking a steward's drive through penalty for the earlier contact. It wasn't the last time he'd trade paint and cause trouble either.

I happen to be a huge Lewis Hamilton fan. I believe his natural driving ability is the joint best in the current field, matched only perhaps by Fernando Alonso. However Hamilton seems to be ebbing back towards his petulant and negative aspects which he gained much criticism for in his rookie season. He may well argue that his failed passes on Massa and Maldonado were not his fault, as he had run his car up the inside, Senna style, leaving it up to his opponent has to whether they wanted contact or not, causing rubbing and damage when they refused to relent. However in the face of a similar performance by rookie Paul Di Resta, who admitted he was over-ambitious in his Force India today, Hamilton does appear a bit rash in his criticism of the FIA and fellow drivers. Monaco is no easy place to race, as Petrov and Perez have painfully discovered this weekend. Expecting your colleagues to surrender on cue is unrealistic in such conditions.

I do hope that the FIA do see Hamilton's scathing post race interview as a heat of the moment exchange, otherwise telling the BBC he believe's he's 'victimised' by the stewards 'because he is black' to quote Ali G, however sarcastic or whimsical, is not going to go down well at all. Expect one hell of a PR battle when those comments are printed out of context in tomorrow's newspapers.

Rather than posting YouTube links to all these incidents so you can relive them and make your own minds up, do instead check out the BBC report page with videos ... videos usually disappear off YouTube rapidly due to copyright claims, so these are likely to stick around longer.

Not sure how the Indianapolis 500 will compare, and it's not even televised here in the UK, but it'll have to go some to compare to a battle of a race on the world's most alluring circuit. The setting might be glamorous, but today's racing was not pretty. Still, who wouldn't want to be on the Red Bull floater home tonight. Might well be the hottest party ticket in the world tonight.

Best wishes to Vitaly Petrov and Sergio Perez for speedy recoveries as well.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Nissan: Consider Yourself Sincerely Flattered

It's been a running joke for a while now that however pretty they are, all Aston Martins look the same, and just take inspiration from one another.

Now however, it looks like they're now taking more than a little inspiration from another car...

So here is the side profile of the new V12 Zagato, think of it what you will:

And here I've sectioned out the middle portion of the car's profile:

Which, in a conveniently similar colour, looks uncannily similar the same to this:

It's all there; the shape of the glasshouse, blacked A and B pillars, the roof curvature, the front wheelarch vent and horizontal side repeater...

Of course some cars share design cues but this is separated at birth. The GT-R is well known as a giant-killer but now the giants are imitating the R35's brutal architecture.

What's next, a Cygnet facelift based on the Micra?

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Some Good, Bad, And Ugly

Plenty of us would admit to being guilty of spending far too much time perusing motoring sites on the web. However, before you're overcome with guilt and leave TyreRoar to pursue more tedious tasks, hang around, because I've compiled a quick round up my my favourite car-related posts from the past couple of days. Since Tuesday is often the most depressing day of the week (last weekend already a distant memory, ages until the next one) here's some reasons to be cheerful.

As a big fan of fast Fords, this first snippet makes me fizz with excitement. The current Fiesta MkVII has been on sale here in the UK for about two years, selling well, looking good, top of the class. Unfortunately, when revealed, Ford also said there would be no hot version for the petrolhead market, leaving the 1.6 Zetec S as the range-topper. This was a big pity given how good the base car was, and how tantalising the prospect of a Ford rival to the RenaultSport and John Cooper Works divisions would be.

Of course, the big mistake we made was to believe car makers when they promsie never to do something. Porsche promised it wouldn't make a diesel car. It now has oil-burning Cayennes and Panameras. BMW promised its M cars would always be normally aspirated. Once the current E92 M3 dies, all will be turbocharged. And, following suit, here are the best pictures yet of the 2012 Ford Fiesta ST, testing cooling systems at the Nurburgring.

Sporting the Zetec S bodykit with a more aggressive diffuser and tailpipe arrangement, the biggest visual clue is the implementation for the new 'ST nose' which originated on the Focus ST 'concept' (idential to the production car due in a few months.) I myself am not a fan of this new design cue; the gaping grille isn't broken up, Audi-style, by a badge, so the yawning mouth dominates the front of the car. The lower supplementary grilles are fussy too, just as they are on the new Focus, and on a smaller, more bulbous supermini, the effect isn't all that appealing.

Nevertheless, this is only a camouflaged, bodge version, so the production car will hopefully be a,little neater. More importantly, the performance should be right up with the best of the junior hot hatch crop. The engine capacity will remain at 1.6 litres, but gains Ford's EcoBoost technology, using a small but efficient turbo and direct injection to give excellent power-to capacity ratio, while preserving economy. Output will have to be around 200bhp to take on Mini, Citroen, RenaultSport and Vauxhall's equivalent, and that's well within the reach of the motor,. A predictable Mountune option kit will take that figure higher, and given how the Ford tuning scene was reinvigorated by the packages for the outgoing Focus RS, expect to see plenty of go-faster bits turning up right on time.

Really, really looking forward to reading the reviews of this car. It's got the modern looks inside and out, balanced performance and consumption targets, and all the fast Ford heritage in its back pocket. Should be a blinder.

Now for the bad. It's another small, light, fun to drive car, but this time it's one coming to an abrupt hault on the Nurburgring. Thinking of a track day pilgrimage this summer? Watch this, and then remember two things. Firstly, lift off oversteer is very, very difficult to recover from if you don't expect/induce it yourself. Secondly, it might be frowned upon at track days to film yourself, since it encourages bad behaviour for the cameras, but at least when things go less well than planned, you've got a souvenir. Or evidence. Incidentally, the driver of this unfortunate Lotus claims he hit a patch of oil unseen on the crest.

Can any Italian-speakers provide a translation in the comments below?

Finally, this may be constituting the 'ugly' part of my cars-on-the-internet piece, but you can't fault the ingenuity and ambition of this Chinese motorist, who turned his 1995 A31 Nissan Cefiro into his very own Lamborginhi Aventador, for the bargain sum of £8. 

Spot the difference: The front definitely carries more Reventon cues than the Aventador but the rear screen and proportions are defintely aimed at the new LP700-4 from Sant'Agata.

UK readers may remember the Peugeot advert from a few years back, when an envious Indian chap bent his banger into a thoroughly plausible representation of a 206, and then went round impressing the ladies in his new pride and joy. This proves there's always a real-life template...

Fair play to you, I say. China just can't help but show it's the new workshop of the world.
Here's hoping this'll turn up on YouTube in the near future, proving it's not just a Transformers-esque sculpture.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

So Much News, So Little Time

Another post at last, apologies for the delay, student-ing gets right in the way sometimes. The upside of taking a back seat from motoring matters for a few weeks to concentrate in the inconvenient obstacles of education is that there's plenty going on to have a think about during a weekend lapse. So here's some odds and ends worth a mention on the blog.

Great to see Jaguar taking a brief centre stage at the royal wedding last week. (Yeah, bet you thought you could escape news about that little event by now right?) The XJ which swept the mother of the bride to Westminster Abbey was so fitting: eminently British, but contemporary, like much of the day itself.

Alongside the pompous, ostentatious Bentleys, and incoherent Volkswagen minibuses, the black XJ appeared statesmanlike, graceful, and gorgeous. Another reason for being proud to be British on the 29th.

Plaudits for the other automotive stroke of genius evident of the big day go to the Prince of Wales for loaning his Aston Martin DB6 Volante to the happy couple fore one last parade down The Mall.

Yes, pessimists, I'm aware Jaguar is still in foreign ownership, funded by foreign money. But the XJ, like the entire (and fabulous) current Jaguar range was designed, tested, and is built in England. It's built two postcodes away from my current residence. When Sir William Lyons' legacy is turning out such fine automobiles, it is in my opinion inconsequent what nationality the head accountants are.

Jaguar is actually on something of a roll. The facelifted XK is even more feline, the XF now with the C-XF's face it always deserved. Now they've promised to produce the £700k C-X75 within 2 years, fully road legal, with Williams F1 know-how throughout. Veyron performance, hybrid emissions, and a new era for the 'Grace, Pace, and Space' big cat. Fingers crossed it's not in the same vein as Lotus' hubristic new range.

Speaking of black XJs...

Snapped this beauty while on work experience at evo Magazine.

You can read and see pictures from my week's experience here (Evo site link)

Suffice to say it was one of the most enjoyable weeks I can remember. Thanks to all concerned. Now go follow the link and see what you reckon to my week from career heaven.

If you're back, time to put a quick word in for something altogether more unattractive and depressing. How exactly did this ever get to be the new New York cab?

The current fleet of Crown Vics and other Fords may be cramped for such a gargantuan car, and inefficient to boot, but they have a timeless appearance that's so New York. This new minivan really doesn't. Moreover, while we're used to public vehicles in Britain being of foreign origin (Mercedes ambulances, Skoda police cars, Volvo fire engines) how the contract for the NYC cab managed to escape the USA's resurgent car industry seems an unfathomable mystery. If any Stateside readers can elaborate I'd be very grateful! (Comments below)

My own set of wheels is now fighting fit once again. Indicator circuit repaired and heater controls and valve at last  back off self-destruct mode, which is most welcome. The rip off price I paid to road tax the thing just a week after shelling out a three-figure sum for the garage repairs was less positive. I'd object less if I felt lucky to use British roads but for the most part they're dreadfully surfaced, inconsistently policed, congested abominations.

Still at least if the delightful local constabulary nab me for weaving in my lane, it's easy to explain I'm fully sober, and just trying to save my suspension, alloys and tyre sidewalls by avoiding the worst of the potholes. Rant over.

Finally, tomorrow's Turkish Grand Prix looks to be one of two stories.

One: Vettel is on pole, with spare soft tyres, defended by his team-mate Webber, so barring a disastrous clash like last year, another lights to flag victory is very much on the cards for the talented young German.

Two: the real action is at the opposite end of the grid. By dropping out of Q1 early with a hydraulics issue, Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi will be starting stone dead last. How utterly brilliant. The banzai Japanese maverick, with nothing to lose and everything to gain, fighting his way through the field, aided by KERS and DRS overtaking aids, and fighting crumbling Pirelli tyres. And the whole field will have to deal with the immense forces of the infamous double-apex Turn Eight.

Don't expect Vettel's shunt in Friday free practice to be the only moment of carbon fibre redistribution seen this weekend. Kobayashi: essential viewing.

There'll be an analysis post up later today, hopefully with plenty to chew on.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...