Dr. Iain Corness

Thursday, 17 July 2014 11:41

So now it’s the German GP

This Sunday is the German GP, which is being held at Hockenheim, not Nurburgring.  It was opened in 1939, 15 miles from Heidelberg, and was used for German national car and motorcycle racing.  In 1965/6 it was uprated to a design by John Hugenholz because one end was lost when an autobahn was built.  The resulting 6.7 km long circuit remained blindingly quick for most of its length, with a slow section in the ‘stadium’ (i.e. grandstand) area, similar in concept to the arena course at Silverstone.

Thursday, 17 July 2014 11:39

Selecting your new car - heart or head?

A new study shows that our heart rules our head when it comes to buying a car.  While we want to believe we are acting rationally, the report shows much of the decision is actually based on emotions.

Thursday, 17 July 2014 11:37

Formula Whizzzz

The new FIA Formula E begins this year in Beijing.  The electric race cars have been designed and built by Spark Racing Technology, the SRT 01E has a monocoque chassis produced by Dallara from carbon fiber and aluminum which complies with the 2014 FIA crash tests.  McLaren Electronics Systems is in charge of providing the electric motor, gearbox and electronics, while Williams Advanced Engineering takes care of the design, battery supply and battery management system.

The electric Formula E car has an output of 268 bhp (200 kW) and comes with custom 18 inch treaded tires developed by Michelin which will be used for both dry and wet conditions.  Renault will be responsible for seeing all the parts put together, as well as dealing with performance optimization and powertrain electrical safety.

Formula EFormula E

All 10 teams and 20 drivers will use the same cars to compete next year in the Formula E Championship.  This will apply only for the inaugural season as Formula E wants to be an open championship which encourages automakers to build their own electric racers.

There will be an Indian Team from Mahindra, better known for light trucks, with the drivers being Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok.  With new technology, as well as unknown city street circuits to contend with, Senna gave his thoughts about the championship and the technology.

“The commitment of the Mahindra factory and the key personnel has been very inspirational for us; to come to a new championship and see that everyone behind the scenes are completely on board and want to win as much as you do is great.  As a driver you go into every championship wanting to win so seeing the same attitude in the garage and in Mahindra’s top personnel fills you with confidence.

“There are a few things that excite me (about the Formula E championship).  First off, I love driving single seater race cars so that’s definitely a very big pull for more alongside the venues where we will have the opportunity to race - street circuits always throw up some fantastic racing.  But it’s also very important to be involved in a championship which is developing technology which could potentially be used in the road cars of the future in order to make lives more sustainable.  It’s certainly a pioneering enterprise and something I’m very interested in as well as the fantastic technology surrounding it.

“I had two years driving the Formula 1 car with KERS so I understood that aspect of the car and hopefully this will be good experience in Formula E.  It is different but there are always aspects that you can take with you and work on.  Formula E is an efficiency race so the more I know the better.  I’m aiming to get as much homework done before the season so that I can maximize our potential and get the extra knowledge.

“You will probably never convert the hard-core Formula One fans - they like their screaming engines.  However for general motorsport fans who enjoy single seaters, touring cars and endurance racing all together I think they’ll be more open to it because it’s another great motorsport series.

“I think the big draw for the Championship is that the visual aspect of the racing is going to be incredible - the cars racing around streets of cities will have such an impact that you will concentrate only on the spectacular sight on track.

“If we had started Formula One with electric motors and suddenly changed to a combustion engine the shock would be the same.  It’s just a case of getting used to the differences and embracing them.”

Formula E calendar (subject to change!)
13-Sep Beijing Beijing
18-Oct Putrajaya Putrajaya
13-Dec Punta del Este Punta del Este
10 Jan ‘15 Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
14 Feb ‘15 Los Angeles Los Angeles
14 Mar ’15 Miami Miami
4 Apr ‘15 Long Beach Long Beach
9 May ‘15 Monaco Monte Carlo
30 May ’15 Berlin Berlin
27 Jun ‘15 London London
Thursday, 17 July 2014 11:36

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what car was this?  Born in 1970 of mixed parentage (Italian and French) with a top speed of 229 KMH.  It was the Citroen SM, after the French manufacturer bought Maserati, slotting the Italian engine into the Citroen.

So to this week.  What car was this?  GRP body on a tubular steel chassis.  It had one door, one headlight and one wiper.  It had a chrome handle in the middle of the rear instead of a reverse gear - you just pulled it to wherever you wanted, as it weighed under 60 kg.  Clue: it was only 135 cm long!

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Wednesday, 16 July 2014 17:21

The End is Nigh

As we finished 2013, we looked forward to 2014 and had the hope that it will be a better one than the previous year.  I hope so too, as none of us have been left untouched by sickness, disease or ill-health at some stage in our lives.

However, there are those amongst us, for whom New Year 2014 is possibly the last one they will celebrate.  How should those people living with terminal cancer approach 2014?  I prefer to call the situation ‘living’ with a terminal cancer, rather than ‘dying’ from a terminal cancer.  There is a significant difference, and much more than looking at life through my rose-colored glasses.

So you have just found out you have terminal cancer.  What can you do?  The first thing is to sit down and take stock of your circumstances.  All of us know that the piece of string called “life” eventually comes to an end - but we don’t know when.  The only difference with you, is that your doctor has actually told you that your length of “life” string is due to run out.

Now whilst the immediate thought is always “How do I beat this?” there are many factors you have to consider in the time ahead, and one of the main ones is called ‘The Quality of Life’.

It is natural for a person with advanced cancer to feel many emotions including anger, fear, and sadness.  Just as you may need time to adjust to this new phase of your life, your family and friends may also need time to adjust to these new circumstances as well.  Once you have been given the diagnosis, the onus is now on you to find out as much as you can about your particular cancer.  Talk with your treating doctors, and get information from reliable internet sites.  Note I say “reliable” sites.  There are always plenty of sites ready to sell you snake oil.  However, I do suggest you read everything and become the world expert on your own condition.  But don’t buy snake oil.

Now back to Quality of Life.  Now is the time to manage your symptoms.  Your quality of life is better if your symptoms are under control.  Talk to your doctors about the best way for you to manage your symptoms.  Analgesics (pain killers) are important, and there are many with different capabilities.  With some of the patch technologies, the pain relief is almost as good as injections.  There’s a lot better than paracetamol.

Do not be afraid to ask your doctors to fully explain any proposed treatment.  Getting an extra two months of life, but at the cost of the Quality of Life, may not be worth having.  Always keep that in mind.  Quality of (the remaining) life is everything.  You do not want to spend those ‘extra’ two months in an ICU recovering from major surgery.

Please make your wishes known as well.  Making the decision to stop active cancer treatments can be a hard choice for a person with cancer and their family.  These are personal choices.  If you are faced with making these decisions, talk with your family and doctors about your wishes and explore all of your options.  You are still able to make decisions about your life to the extent that you desire.  Just keep saying that mantra “Quality of Life”, that is the key to everything at this stage.  Don’t forget it!

You should also consider creating a ‘Living Will’ or giving specific instructions on what your wishes are as your cancer progresses.  This process helps make your end-of-life wishes and desires known to family, friends, and your doctors and can help ensure that your wishes are honored.  I personally believe this is a most important step.

Sorry if the column this week sounds a little deep and dark, but it can give assistance to those who feel as if all their options have gone.  There are always options.  Even deciding not to continue with various therapies is an option.  From my personal point of view, I have taken note of the old phrase “You can’t take it with you,” and consequently I have decided I’m not going.  That’s another option!

Thursday, 10 July 2014 13:25

Bernie threatens to quit Monza in 2017

Bernie Ecclestone does it again - threatening to omit Monza, one of the iconic F1 circuits, from the 2017 calendar.

Of course, Bernie, the patron saint of money movers, may just be doing this to put the squeeze on the Monza people to extract more from them in annual fees, than he currently is getting.  Devious?  Not our Bernie, surely?  The mere fact that he did this to Silverstone, doesn’t mean that’s his modus operandi.  Or is it?

The Monza track north of Milan has been host to the Italian Grand Prix since 1922 and it has held every race since 1950 with the exception of 1980 when it was staged at Imola.

Ecclestone and Monza promoters signed a new contract back in 2010 that will run until the end of 2016, but it looks like the circuit will get the chop after that.

“I don’t think we’ll do another contract, the old one was a disaster for us from a commercial point of view.  After 2016, bye bye...”

Bernie has no soul.

Thursday, 10 July 2014 13:24

Salute to the Rolls-Royce Merlin Engines

From a Rolls-Royce Handlye Special to a Spitfire and a high-tech speedboat, Salute to Style gathers the many applications of the original Merlin engine, a piece of British history and engineering excellence.

The trio of displays, Salute to Style, was at the Hurlingham Club, presented machines that shared the same historic powerplant to propel them on air, road and water.

A hand-built Handlye Special Rolls-Royce, sporting the 27 liter Merlin engine originally fitted to a Hawker Hurricane during WWII joins a hand-built unique Spitfire aircraft, created using original parts from other Spitfire planes and based on copies of the original Spitfire drawings from the archives of the RAF Museum, Hendon.

SpitfireSpitfire

Both car and aircraft were displayed alongside an original Merlin engine and a newly-produced model of the Aeroboat super-yacht created by powerboat design studio Claydon Reeves, which is to be powered by the famous Rolls-Royce V12 engine.

The Rolls-Royce is a Phantom II whose chassis carries the Merlin engine, and it is usually heard before it is seen in its natural habitat, whether at Brooklands, Dunsfold or on a driving holiday to France.  It is the product of over 25 years of painstaking hand-building by its owner, Robin Beech, at his Handlye Farm workshop - hence the name.  Two engines were purchased in 1985, a Merlin 3 and a Meteor Mk1: it took Robin Beech two years to create one functioning engine out of the two, for “fast road competition” purposes.  The next 23 years were spent building the car.

In its current configuration, the Rolls-Royce produces about 900 bhp with 1550 lb ft torque and has a fuel consumption of three miles per gallon.  “However, when we are careful, we can stretch to four,” laughs Robin Beech.

The immortal lines of the famous Spitfire fighter was built from original parts over twenty years, the static display belongs to Terry Arlow of ‘Simply Spitfire’, and is inspired by the original MK805 produced by Vickers Armstrong in 1944.

Those same lines are echoed in the stern and tail of the Aeroboat model which is also displayed at Salute to Style, though the futuristic speedboat’s main materials are carbon-fiber and Kevlar instead of aluminium.

The Merlin engine stands as an engineering monument, kept alive by enthusiasts such as Handlye and Arlow.

Thursday, 10 July 2014 13:23

What did we learn from the British GP?

Well, we learned that Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) was lucky and benefited from the bad luck experienced by his team mate Nico Rosberg.  Rosberg had pole after qualifying and was able to keep Hamilton around four seconds behind him during the race - until Lady Luck deserted him and his gearbox gave him a fist-full of neutrals, gifting the win to Hamilton.

However, the star of the race was Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso (6th) in his battle with Red Bull’s German driver, formerly known as The Finger.  Their battle was intense and had everyone on their toes, with the fight showing that Alonso has huge cojones and The Finger is now also the Whinger, moaning over the radio that Alonso was using too much track, and saying at one stage, “I almost crashed into him”.  However, it took many laps before Alonso had to concede the position, his car being 10 kph slower on the straight than the Red Bull, letting Vettel through into 5th.

Alonso’s team mate Raikkonen stepped out of an enormous crash (47 G force) on the first lap caused by a foolhardy return to the track after an excursion through the boonies, resulting in a red flag.  The impact with the Armco fencing was such that repairs had to be done before the race could get underway again.  It would not surprise me if we do not see Raikkonen again this year - he has already been operated for back problems and this accident would be enough to exacerbate the condition.  It has also been obvious that Raikkonen has no fire in the belly any more and would retire at the end of the year, so why not now?

Valtteri Bottas (Williams) has shown that he has a great talent and he deserved his second place, after starting way down the back after a right proper stuff-up by the team during Qualifying.  His team mate, Felipe Massa did not have a good weekend, and getting involved in Raikkonen’s antics denied him a re-start.

Once again, Ricciardo finished in front of his team mate at Red Bull, with a well driven third place.  Even Christian Horner’s Red Bull team has admitted that they didn’t think the young Aussie would be as good as he is.  And he is good!

Sentimental favorite Jenson Button tried for a podium but had to settle for fourth.  The none too subtle bollocking by Ron Dennis seems to have worked!  Button’s rookie team mate Magnussen was also in the top 10 and just over 10 seconds behind, with another excellent drive.

Hulkenberg (Force India) again drove with one stop only, nursing his tyres to the finish, in another heroic drive.  Hulkenberg should have been snapped up by Ferrari at the end of last year.  They will have a second chance when Raikkonen fails to front up for work on Monday.

Russian rookie Kvyat was in the points again (9th), and is another stand-out new driver with a good future in front of him.

It was an exciting Grand Prix, however, once again we have ridiculous penalties being handed out by the stewards.  Alonso was half way out of his grid box at the original start and receives a five second stop and go penalty.  But that was for the first start which was then red-flagged, meaning Alonso got no advantage at all for the second start.  So why an additional penalty?

The next GP is the German at Hockenheim next week.  Let’s hope we have another blinder.

Thursday, 10 July 2014 13:20

World record auction price

The sale of the Ferrari 375-Plus at the Goodwood Festival of Speed was a world auction record for a Ferrari sports racing car.  It went for 18.3 million USD.

The brutally-fast 375-Plus was Ferrari’s ultimate weapon to win the 1954 Sports Car Championship, with just five made.

Fitted with a 4.9 liter V12 engine developing 330 BHP, the car was entrusted by the Scuderia Ferrari works racing team to only the most skilled racing drivers.

Expensive Ferrari 375 Plus.Expensive Ferrari 375 Plus.

These included Argentinean Jose Froilan Gonzalez - AKA the Pampas Bull - and the renowned Italian road racer Umberto Maglioli.

This car was the 1954 works entry driven by Maglioli in the Mille Miglia, then piloted to victory by Gonzalez at Silverstone.

In later years, long-running title disputes broke out over the car between two families, which Bonhams helped to resolve.

It was sold with a spare period works block engine and its original body panels, still bearing traces of the 1957 Cuban Grand Prix race colors.

Peter Kantor, Bonhams’ head of motor cars for mainland Europe, said it was rare for a Ferrari team works car with continuous history and undisputed identity to come up for public auction.

Last year a world record price for any car sold at public auction was set at Goodwood when Bonhams sold the former Juan Manuel Fangio Mercedes-Benz W196 for STG 20 million.

Thursday, 10 July 2014 13:20

Natter Nosh and Noggin

The Pattaya car club meets at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to Nova Park.  The next meeting is on Monday July 14 at Jameson’s at 7 p.m.  A totally informal meeting of like-minded souls to discuss their pet motoring (and motorcycling) loves and hates (plus lies and outright exaggerations).  Come along and meet the guys who have a common interest in cars and bikes, and enjoy the Jameson’s specials, washed down with a few beers.  A couple of the members were scrutineers at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, so they may have some scuttlebutt about the F1 scene.  Always a fun night.  Be prepared to laugh a lot at some of the antics of the members (when they were younger)!  The Car Club nights are only on the second Monday of the month (not every second Monday)!

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