Dr. Iain Corness

Thursday, 16 October 2014 13:31

Rolls-Royce unveils its “city slicker”

Rolls-Royce must be getting desperate for the Names Department to come up with “Phantom Metropolitan” as the name for the 2015 models. The last time “Metropolitan” was used was on a Nash, and that was eminently forgettable too.

Thursday, 16 October 2014 13:29

Two wheels, 500 cc and no brakes!

We have all had many ambitions in our lives. How many of us wanted to be firemen and ride in a big red fire truck, when we were small children? Me? I didn’t want to be a fireman, I wanted to be a speedway rider!

Thursday, 16 October 2014 13:28

What did we learn from the Russian GP?

Well we learned that the new track at Sochi is very smooth, is kind on tyres, and is a typical Tilke track which does not encourage passing. It was compared to Valencia by commentators, and we all know what a bore-fest Valencia is. We also found out that Vladimir Putin considers F1 a great place for photo opportunities. And did you spot the video grab of our Bernie (AKA King Midas) sitting beside President P and opening his wallet. A picture is worth a thousand words!

Even though there are 100 points up for grabs in the last three races (25 points each for the US GP and the Brazil GP and double points for the final in Abu Dhabi), Hamilton (Mercedes) does not have a winning margin yet as he is only 17 points in front of his team mate Nico Rosberg. However, the smart money is on Hamilton to win the championship. Hamilton has the ‘win’ mindset, whilst Rosberg is showing desperation.

Bottas (Williams) is a future champion. Has great speed and the right character to succeed. Provided Williams can give him a top car next year, he could easily be the top contender. His Williams team mate Felipe Massa is coming to the end of his life as an F1 driver. Still shows speed, but not consistency and with so many new and hungry drivers ready to step up, it is time Felipe bows out.

Fourth and fifth went to McLaren with Button in front of Magnussen but whilst Button has had a good second half of the Grands Prix season, he is another who should go to pasture to open up a spot in the driver line-up.

Sixth was Alonso (Ferrari). How much longer will the Spaniard be with Maranello? He is free to move and the money is currently on a shift to McLaren - but there is still bad blood between Alonso and Ron Dennis (about $100 million of bad blood), so I do not think he will go there. Consider this - Massa out and Alonso in, at Williams for 2015. Williams have definitely a better car this year, and I predict it will still be better than Ferrari next year.

Red Bull did not star at Sochi. The only item of note was that once again Ricciardo finished in front of the German once known as “The Finger”. After four world championships in a row, Vettel has really gone from hero to zero.

Ninth was Raikkonen after another lack-luster drive. Ferrari bought him out of his contract once, but didn’t learn from the experience. There has been no comparison between Alonso and Raikkonen. If Ferrari want a better year in 2015 they will have to bite the bullet again and pay him out a second time. Massa would very happily go back to his old dressing room and could partner Jean-Eric Vergne who has lost his seat at Torro Rosso.

Maldonado (“Lotus”) showed once again that not only is he a liability on track but he is also the multiple Penalty King! But I am sure Bernie will let him buy his way out!

Also way down in the boonies was Kobayashi who was retired from the race, after management called him in, leaving Kobayashi in the dark as far as the reason was concerned. With all the financial woes at Caterham, perhaps a cheque bounced?

The next race is in the US which is screened at the most unglodly hour of 3 a.m. in Thailand. Sorry, but I will miss it!

Last week I asked what did the original FIAT 500 have in common with the 1961 Lincoln Continental? This was simple - they both had ‘suicide’ doors.

So to this week, the Mazda MX5 and the Mitsubishi 3000 GT both were released in Japan, but they had a modification in common during their production run. What was that?

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 .

Mitsubishi 3000 GTMitsubishi 3000 GT

Wednesday, 15 October 2014 16:16

Mammograms and BSE. Is it worthwhile?

Screening for breast cancer is still a subject that seems to be controversial, though honestly, I do not know why. The sensationalist press feeds on fear, and by instilling fear into women about detection of breast cancer will always sell a few more papers. Despite mammograms and suchlike, there were cases that escaped detection until it was too late and other such negative predictions. Was it all then a waste of resources and money?

No it is not, says the American Cancer Society’s director of cancer screening, Robert Smith, PhD, who says there is plenty of evidence that mammograms save lives, even for younger women.

“The American Cancer Society and other organizations have endorsed mammography screening for women in their 40s because direct and inferential evidence supports its value in reducing morbidity (injuries) and mortality (deaths) from breast cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in women,” he says.

Other groups that recommend mammograms every one or two years for women in their 40’s include the US Preventive Services Task Force and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The American College of Physicians guideline says mammograms can reduce breast cancer deaths by about 15 percent among women in their 40’s, but Dr. Smith says newer studies indicate the benefit is much greater - 40 percent or more.

Unfortunately, the cancer detection story is one that suffers from a problem which can be associated with an inexact science. Since we can put men on the moon, clone sheep (and even rabbits in Chonburi, apparently) and other incredible facts, we should then be able to diagnose human conditions with pin-point accuracy. Unfortunately wrong!

Diagnosis and detection are “real time” arts, not sciences, even though we would like them to be. Sure, we use science as a tool, but that is all it is. A tool to help us see the problem. Just like we can use a telescope to see things at a distance - even if we can’t see the object, that doesn’t mean to say it wasn’t there. The telescope was facing the wrong way, the object was behind not in front.

There has been a bit of that thinking with mammograms of late. A lady has three annual clear mammograms and then finds she has breast cancer during year number four. Was the testing useless?

Again I ask you to look at the “real time” situation. So today cancer was found. When did it “start” to grow? This week, this month, this year? The answer depends upon the type of the cancer. Some fast growing cancers would be impossible to pick up, even if the person had monthly mammograms. The slow growing variety can be picked up years ahead. Unfortunately mammography cannot be a 100 percent indicator - we are not that good - yet. But it is still one of the best diagnostic procedures we have. And it is better than nothing.

Likewise, Breast Self Examination (BSE) has its detractors as well as its proponents. Sure, a lot depends upon how well the woman carries out this self testing, but again, surely it is better to look than to carry on in blissful innocence?

I do not believe the doomsayers who would tell you that the outcome is just the same. Breast cancer is like all cancers - the sooner you find it, the sooner you can deal with it and the earlier treatment is administered, the better the outcome. In fact, studies from the American National Cancer Institute show that 96 percent of women whose breast cancer is detected early live five or more years after treatment. This is called a 96 percent five year survival rate, one of the ways we measure the severity of life threatening cancers. If it were a 10 percent figure - in other words, after five years only 10 percent of the people were still alive, then I would probably also feel that predictive testing was not all that worthwhile. But it is not that bleak an outcome - 96 percent are still alive and many go on for many, many years.

Ladies, talk with your doctor regarding breast screening, and ignore sensationalism in the popular press!

The newest F1 race on the 2014 calendar is the inaugural GP on the Sochi Autodrom (hence my impeccable Russian at the start of this article). A 5.853 km lap and the race will be held over 53 laps.

Thursday, 09 October 2014 11:22

Honda goes +R

Revealed at the Paris Motor Show was the Honda Civic Type R, saying that this new car will usher in a new performance era for the brand.

The 2016 Civic Type R will be powered by a 2.0 liter i-VTEC engine from the company’s Earth Dreams Technology family and will produce over 275 hp thanks to a turbocharger helping boost low-end power delivery. But even more important, Honda is saying the Civic Type-R and its powerplant “is unrivalled against” all previous Type R models including the Civic, Integra, Accord and NSX. Now while 275 BHP is not to be sneered at, there are many other engines that can deliver that number of horses, including the now older SR20 DET from the Sylvia range.

Thursday, 09 October 2014 11:21

Thailand’s Buriram gets F1 license

In an amazing turnaround, the new circuit at Buriram (now called the Chang International Circuit) has been awarded a top grade by the FIA. I have seen the license certificate which came after track inspection by Tim Schenken (FIA representative and an ex-F1 driver from Australia) and signed by Jean Todt, the president of the FIA. The circuit license is for three years.

The next step will be for Thailand to apply for a round of the F1 world championship. To be given a slot requires a sack full of money, but Nevin Chidchop in Buriram seems to have a bottomless pit of available money. And to give the man his due, he envisaged the circuit and has made it happen.

A round of the Retro Championship, in which I run with the TBX Escort Mk 1, is scheduled for November 7-8-9, and I am looking forward to competing on the new circuit. Just a shame it is so far from Pattaya.

Thursday, 09 October 2014 11:14

Cars and bikes - which is faster?

The recent comparison between cars and bikes around a circuit involved the latest Subaru WRX STI which had been driven around the famous Isle Of Man (IOM) course of almost 38 miles.

Thursday, 09 October 2014 11:13

What did we learn from the Japanese GP?

Well, we learned that motor racing is still dangerous with Bianchi’s accident, and when it rains in Japan it really does rain.

Niki Lauda expressed the general feeling in the pits when he said, “We get used to it when nothing happens and then suddenly we are all surprised. This accident today is a coming together of various different things. One car goes off, the tractor comes out and the next car comes off, and this was very unfortunate.”

Of course, this does raise the question as to the track safety procedures and the drivers’ implementation of safety features expected of them. Sutil went off on lap 40 and the tractor came out to remove his car. I believe double yellows were then displayed before that point, which relay to the following drivers that there is great danger, be prepared to stop. Bianchi then unfortunately slid off on lap 41 while under the double waved yellows, and hit the tractor, resulting in his head injury.

Yellow flags must be obeyed for the safety of the drivers, which is not always the case. At the time of writing this report, I do not have a full picture of the situation, other than the fact that Bianchi slid off the track one lap later than Sutil’s accident. We all hope that Bianchi can make a full recovery, but I would not expect him to see him racing again this year.

The Suzuka paddock was all agog with the news that the driver, formerly known as The Finger, was leaving Red Bull, and his seat was to be taken by the young Russian Daniil Kvyat. This did not surprise me at all. The blow to Vettel’s ego was terminal. A very expensive, four times world champion gets beaten by his younger team mate, who is being paid peanuts. If Vettel does go to Ferrari, his salary will be much less!

So is Alonso leaving Ferrari? He has certainly been unhappy there and his talent is being wasted. But where can he go? The only teams that could offer him the chance of winning are Williams and McLaren, and a move to Woking would have to be the more logical, turfing Button (now too old) out of his seat there.

So to the race and Suzuka under a typhoon. Much palaver that the race should have been brought forward and started a few hours earlier, by people who should know better. With an international event such as a Grand Prix, the starting time is fixed and world television schedules are worked around the fixed starting time. Even the spectators at the circuit who have purchased tickets expect a starting time as advertised. Rocking up to find the organizers started the race two hours ago is just not correct, nor practical. Once the starting time is published, that’s it!

The Mercedes team were head and shoulders above everyone, and Hamilton with his win (not faultless) showed he is World Champion elect for this year. Rosberg had no answer.

Third was Vettel, while it was his team mate Ricciardo who was third when the race was stopped. Unfortunately when races are stopped under a red flag, the positions are taken from the start of the previous lap, when Vettel actually was third and Ricciardo fourth. You win some, and you lose some!

Button drove a very clever race into fifth with excellent calls as to when to change tyres, beating the Williams of Bottas and Massa by a considerable margin.

And Alonso? Stopped on lap two behind the safety car. And you wonder why he wants to leave Ferrari?

The next race is this weekend in Russia.

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