So what did we learn from the Monaco GP?
Well, we learned (yet again) that Monaco
is an anachronism that should be deleted from the modern
Grand Prix calendar. A circuit where it is impossible to
pass, produces dull and boring spectating (unless your name
is Michael Schumacher – remember 2006 from the back row of
the grid as his penalty after qualifying).
We also learned, or rather Lewis Hamilton learned, that
although team orders officially do not exist, in actual
fact, they do! There’s no number 1 at McLaren, they are both
equal says Ron Dennis, but some drivers are more equal than
others (with apologies to Animal Farm and George Orwell).
When Hamilton was brought in around five laps early for his
second stop, this made sure he didn’t leap-frog Alonso in
pit strategy and risk a ‘to the death’ duel around the
unforgiving circuit. Ron’s cars came in first and second in
the order that had been ordained! However, we should not
overlook the fact that it was a stunning demonstration of
dominance by the McLaren-Mercedes team. Daimler CEO Dieter
Zetsche, was very excited that McLaren-Mercedes’ two drivers
were on the front row of the grid, saying, “We have two
fantastic guys and I am sure that the whole world is
surprised that our rookie is taking on the whole
establishment - to be honest, I am surprised too! But then
to see them coming in 1-2 is the ultimate that you can get
out of a race weekend. This is what I would call ‘mission
accomplished’!” Of course, if one of them were German, it
would be even better.
Ferrari have gone away to lick their wounds and wonder why
they spent so much money on the humorous riposte proponent
Kimi Raikkonen. If anyone thought he was the equal of the
man whose shoes he has been asked to fill, they must think
again. Poor Felipe Massa must be wondering what has
happened. His once dominant team has lost the magic formula
Team Renault has its back to the wall. His supreme being
Carlos Ghosn, the boss of Renault has said he is not
interested in Renault being a make-weight. They are either
at the top, or they will pull out. With Fisichella running
hot and cold, and probably too long in the tooth for a
Roman, and Kovalainen not cutting the mustard, team boss
Briatore is looking at his severance pay at the end of 2007.
Toyota executives are lining up for ritual hara-kiri. What a
woeful showing from the world’s number 1 car maker. It is
obviously time for a thorough clean-out at the Toyota
garage, including the lack-luster driver performances.
Can somebody please give Mark Webber a semi-competitive car
that can finish races? It is so long since he has seen the
chequered flag, he has to be shown pictures of it, so that
he will recognize it in the future. If there is a future for
Alex Wurz took heed of my last column and tried hard,
finally beating his younger Williams F1 team mate. But it
won’t be enough to save him. Sir Frank has sacked world
champions, he’ll have no compunction over also-rans.
BMW was there to pick up the crumbs, but after being lapped
by the McLaren duo, have little to celebrate. Kubica was
slightly more than a nose in front of Heidfeld.
As for the rest? Yawnnn nnnnnnnnnn!
The next GP in Canada June 10 will be better.
1 liter of fuel for 100
Sounds a little like science fiction, but it isn’t.
Volkswagen presented the world’s first 1-liter per 100 km
car a couple of years ago, but it is interesting to look at
the technology, and just ‘how’ did they do it?
The objective was to develop a vehicle with a fuel
consumption of no more than one liter per 100 kilometers,
using all technical possibilities available.
The project was taken up by Volkswagen’s Research and
Development division to design and build the world’s most
economical car, and it took three years. The Volkswagen is
registered for use on public highways, and at 100 km/h the
fuel consumption is 1-liter.
The key objectives in the development were to minimize all
driving resistances through lightweight construction and
However, the target, a fuel consumption level of one liter
per 100 kilometers, meant abandoning conventional vehicle
concepts. With a width of just 1.25 meters, the 1-liter car
is extraordinarily narrow, the driver and passenger sit one
behind the other in tandem, the transversely installed
engine is centrally located in front of the rear axle, and
the plastic bodywork has the highly aerodynamic shape of a
Enginewise, the final solution was a one-cylinder
naturally-aspirated diesel engine with a displacement of
just 0.3 liters. This was a completely new, technically
highly sophisticated development. Two overhead camshafts
actuate roller rocker fingers which in turn actuate three
valves, two inlet valves and one exhaust outlet valve.
The one-cylinder SDI diesel engine generates its maximum
output (6.3 kW / 8.5 bhp) at 4,000 rpm. The maximum torque
of 18.4 Newton metres is delivered at 2,000 rpm.
Performance? Well, VW said the 1-liter car reaches a top
speed of 120 km/h. What they don’t say is how long it took
to get there! My guess is something like a fortnight down a
However, as a design idea that became reality, VW proved
that it is possible – but at a price. Titanium anythings are
not cheap, and the trade-off against performance would not
be accepted by the general public. But it could be done! And
was! Well done VeeDub.
There are those of us who can remember the days before
remote locking! You actually had to unlock the front doors
individually, but this meant that you actually did the
gentlemanly thing of escorting your partner to the passenger
door and with a great flourish, you unlocked it and ushered
her into the vehicle. These days you push the button as you
approach the car, it responds with a beep-beep and unlocks
everything and your passenger gets herself into the vehicle,
by herself. Of course, I may just be from an era gone by in
lamenting the loss of such gallant gestures!
Having set the scene, let’s look at what can happen with a
case of mistaken identity. It was 1987 and I had flown to
the UK for a visit. Using the fact that I had been a ‘Works
Driver’ in MG’s for British Leyland (before they pulled out
of Australia) I had contacted MG Rover in the UK, looking
for a car to test for the two weeks while I was there. No
problem, I was told. They would supply a new Rover 825i for
the duration of my trip (motor manufacturers in Thailand who
expect full road tests after one drive around the block,
please take note).
In 1987, this Rover 825i was the finest machine in the MG
Rover stable. With mechanicals from the Honda Legend it had
all the Japanese quality, with all the snob appeal of the
‘very British’ Rover badge, Westminster carpet on the floor
and some polished English oak wood on the dashboard! It also
came with remote locking, and the MG Rover chap showed me
how it worked, and how the infra-red remote receiver was
behind the internal rear vision mirror. Fully instructed, I
The 825i proved itself to be a reliable, semi-luxury
carriage, until the remote locking failed! I had gone for
lunch in one of those quaint English style pubs. You know
the style – all dark wood and warm beer with crusty
gentlemen smoking briar pipes and wearing caps and hairy
tweed jackets with leather patches on the elbows.
After lunch I picked up the car keys and ventured outside
into the crisp, cold British air and strolled down towards
the Rover 825i in the car park. As I walked towards it, I
pushed the unlock button, but nothing happened. No beep-beep
and flashing lights. Obviously I was too far away, so I
walked closer and pushed the magic button again. Still
I began to analyze the situation. Obviously the cold was
making the manual lock to freeze up, and perhaps the battery
must be low in the IR sender. It was then I remembered the
MG Rover chappie telling me about the IR receiver behind the
interior rear vision mirror. Looking through the windscreen
I could even see it, a red bulb behind the mirror. I pointed
the remote at the red bulb and expectantly pressed the
By now I was getting cold and more than somewhat annoyed. I
lay down on the bonnet of the car, so that I could get the
remote on the windscreen, as close as possible to the red
bulb receiver. With a determined thumb I pressed the button
– and still nothing. I tried again, and again and yet this
Rover refused to open its doors.
Suddenly I heard this very British voice saying, “I say old
chap, just what do you think you are doing?” I turned round
and there was the archetypal Briton, cap and tweed jacket,
and bristling with anger. “I am trying to open my car, but
the remote unlocking device does not work,” I replied.
“That’s because this is not your car, this is my car,” said
the crusty and now angry Brit. “No it’s not,” said I. “I
have this silver Rover 825i on loan from MG Rover!” “I beg
your pardon,” said crusty, angry gent, “this is MY silver
Rover 825i that I bought from the agents here!” We were now
standing toe to toe and I could see I would need the
registration papers to prove my point – but the registration
papers, of course, were inside the locked car.
However, before I could think of my next move, to really rub
my nose in it, and to verify his claim, he went on to say,
“Your Rover is the one further down the car park, in the
next line!” I looked at where he was pointing, and there it
was. I pointed the remote, pushed and it beeped and flashed
the lights. With burning shame, I could only apologize
profusely and offer him a warm beer. He declined, muttering
something about the fact that he was still sober and knew
what he was doing! I slunk away.
Last week I asked who was the first American to
win a Grand Prix in an American race car after Jimmy Murphy
in 1921? It was 1967 when Dan Gurney won the Belgian GP in
his Eagle-Weslake V12. The trap was the fact that it had to
be a GP.
So to this week. Which car company built their test track on
the roof of their factory?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected]