March 15 Grand Prix of Australia
March 23 Grand Prix of Malaysia
April 12 Grand Prix of China
April 19 Grand Prix of Bahrain
May 3 Grand Prix of Korea (TBC)
May 10 Grand Prix of Spain
May 24 Grand Prix of Monaco
June 7 Grand Prix of Canada
June 21 Grand Prix of Austria
July 5 Grand Prix of Great Britain
July 19 Grand Prix of Germany
July 26 Grand Prix of Hungary
August 23 Grand Prix of Belgium
September 6 Grand Prix of Italy
September 20 Grand Prix of Singapore
September 27 Grand Prix of Japan
October 11 Grand Prix of Russia
October 25 Grand Prix of USA
November 1 Grand Prix of Mexico
November 15 Grand Prix of Brazil
November 29 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi
The F1 calendar above, and those quick with mathematics will see that there are now 21 Grands Prix slated for 2015. Is this too many? With the problems and expenses involved in a GP weekend, many teams were too financially strapped this year, with Marussia having gone completely to the wall. Caterham looks to be next. “Lotus” and FIndia are also shaky. And what is the FIA doing about it? Extra races will certainly not have improved matters. But they have at least scrapped the ridiculous double points for the final GP.
The FIA World Touring Car Championship 2015 Calendar is also released, and our new Chang International circuit at Buriram is hosting the WTCC event next November. I will be running at Buriram in the TBX Retro Escort next week and will give you my impressions of the circuit after that.
March 8th - Termas de Río Hondo, Argentina
April 19th - Circuit Moulay El Hassan, Morocco
May 3rd - Hungaroring, Hungary
May 16th - Nordschleife, Germany
June 7th - Moscow Raceway, Russia
June 21st - Slovakiaring, Slovakia*
June 28th - Paul Ricard, France
July 12th - Vila Real, Portugal
September 13th - Motegi, Japan
September 27th - Shanghai, China
November 1st - Buriram - Thailand
November 22nd - Losail, Qatar*
Last week I asked what car is this? It had tiller steering and was the first affordable series-produced car with interchangeable parts. What was it? It was the Curved Dash Oldsmobile of 1903.
So to this week. The first motorcycle (1896), retractable undercarriage and a car that would jump trenches in the war have something in common. What was it?
For someone lying on a stretcher, that “moment” could feel like hours. I know I wasn’t prepared to wait many “moments” when I broke my heel bone (called the ‘Os Calcis’ for those who want this column to be precise and correct).
Now imagine what it is like to wait 35 hours to be seen. All I hope is that someone gave the poor devil some anesthetic during that day and a half wait. That figure of 35 hours was revealed at an investigation into a hospital in Kent in the UK.
British Health watchdogs are about to issue a damning report warning of major failings by Medway NHS foundation trust, in Kent - now branded the worst hospital in the country - as it admitted to repeated cases of patients waiting more than 24 hours in Accident and Emergency (EMS in Thailand).
In recent weeks, at least nine hospitals in Britain have closed their A&E units to only the most urgent cases. The pressures came as hundreds of thousands of NHS workers went on a four hour strike, in protest over their pay. Having worked in the UK hospital system myself, albeit many years ago now, it would, however, seem as if the same old problems of public hospitals overcrowding, under-staffed, under-paid and generally just not up to the job, has continued.
Inspectors have said that the Kent hospital is in a “state of crisis” with patients “stacked” waiting to be treated, including children left without assessment, and patients with potentially dangerous heart conditions left unmonitored.
It follows national statistics showing a doubling in the number of patients forced to endure long trolley waits since last year, which triggered warnings that the NHS is entering a crisis, even before the expected increases during the cold season.
The hospital’s death rates were 17 percent higher than would be expected in 2013/14.
The new report follows a catalogue of failings, which in September was responsible for almost one quarter of England’s long trolley waits.
In the same month, five patients suffered from “serious incidents,” trust documents reveal, including a patient left with a needle in them for two months after undergoing surgery.
Such lapses are so basic they are defined by the NHS as “never events”.
In another case, a female patient placed in a side-room without a call bell, broke her hip after falling when she was unable to get help to go to the toilet.
The nursing side gets the flak in these sorts of situations, but I can assure you that the nurses are not slacking. When questioned, staff were saying they felt “under siege” as 16 ambulances queued outside. These kinds of work loads just cannot be endured.
But the patients are also suffering, as well as waiting in silence, one presumes. Like all enterprises there are targets to be met. Try this one for size - Latest figures show the Kent hospital is also missing national targets to treat urgent referrals for suspected cancer within two weeks.
So just what can be done? The government approach has always been the same - throw money at it, but even though figures of around an extra £1.5bn in funding are being mooted, it will be nowhere near enough.
A most senior doctor in the UK has urged patients to turn to pharmacies, to relieve strain on the country’s A&E units.
The simple truth is that the socialist health care model just does not work financially. In saying that, you have to compare it with the private hospital system. While it may sound like I am just blowing a horn for my hospital’s healthcare system, you will never hear of patients left on stretchers for 35 hours at any private hospital in Thailand.
The times between referral and being seen for cancer patients can be measured in hours, not weeks!
The majority of your blood test results are available in 45 minutes, though some can take an hour.
The time between having your X-Ray and it being reviewed by the referring doctor is measured in seconds.
So you pay for it, but if you are from the UK, you never had it so good!
The joint venture of the Chinese SAIC company and the CP group (including 7-eleven) reports that it will build an MG eco-car from a new factory on the Eastern Seaboard to be finished in 2015.
The Bang Saen races are now a permanent part of the motor racing calendar in Thailand, this year being held from 10-14 December.
Having driven there, I can assure you that this is a very dangerous circuit with barriers on both sides of the track and literally nowhere to run off with any safety. The categories running will include the Thailand Super Series with Porsches, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Audis all battling at the front.
Entry is free and this is your opportunity to get up close and personal with motor racing action. One of the top car/driver combinations has Anders Majgaard in the CEA Honda 1500, usually driven by Thomas Raldorf. Anders won last year. Look out for him.
Asia is no longer some strange part of the globe, out there in the “mystic east”, but in industry has become a major player in the world economic forums. That globalization also applies to Asian motor sport these days with international competitors running in Asian formulae and European formulae now represented in Asia.
A few years ago, it was unheard of that there would be international drivers competing in Asian championships, but that has all changed. As recently as 12 years ago there was a lone Australian running in the Asian Formula 2000. He was noteworthy, being a sole competitor, but that has certainly changed.
One of the main reasons has been the start of many Asian series of what were previously international series but confined to the Western nations. Over the past five years, there has been Formula BMW and the Porsche Carrera Cup, and even more recently, the pinnacle of motor sport - the F1 circus.
With Asia having become more involved with motor sport and new purpose-built F1 tracks in Bahrain and Turkey along with Malaysia, Singapore, India, Korea, Japan and China, Bernie Ecclestone, the F1 supremo, has made no secret of the fact that he believes the future for F1 is in Asia! Believe him. Globalization is Go! And now Thailand has the Buriram circuit which is ready for F1.
With motor racing being a global phenomenon, it really needs the respective national governments to pick up the tab, bite the bullet and build the circuits, which in turn will increase the number of cars and drivers competing. However, ex-politician Nevin Chidchop has bitten the proverbial bullet and his Buriram circuit has been built with F1 in mind.
Malaysia has an F1 round, Singapore has an F1 round. Will we be next? Of course we will!
Self driving ‘autonomous’ cars are here. Sure it is early in the technology, but here’s what is in store for the motorists in the next decade. These examples are not “concepts”, but the technology is here now. For many OEM’s, the integration of the new technologies is the only item slowing its adoption. That and the price, of course.
In the competitive marketplace of today, the base cost is always a dilemma. The answer, however, is to make all the new technological applications delete options. And since the new car buyer is not really aware of what is coming, this makes it easier for the automaker.
One group at the forefront of the new technology, and its application to the vehicles of today is the Continental Corporation in Germany, one of the world’s biggest suppliers of safety, interior and powertrain innovation.
If your car is equipped with a form of emergency brake assist, it already knows when it is too late for late braking. The technology is simple. It is easily programmed into the vehicle for it to appreciate how much traction it has, as well as how many meters it is going to take to brake in time to avoid an accident. However, if you are still too fast, further braking is too late. But this is where Emergency Steer Assist (ESA) comes in.
In this mode, the system does not take over and steer for you. Designed to complement emergency braking systems, ESA works with your electric steering rack to vary the torque by direction, thus very convincingly “suggesting” the proper steering wheel motion. Suppose you need to swerve left - the torque in the clockwise motion is greatly increased (resistance), but it is very easy to turn the wheel counterclockwise. Similarly, during the maneuver recovery phase (you may know this as a tank slapper), the inverse is true, the steering working in tandem with ESC (electronic stability control, mandatory on all cars in Europe from 2011 and soon every developed country) to control the after effects of the swerve.
Another application is the Active Force Feedback Pedal.
The more information being relayed to the driver, the more confusing things can be. Continental’s philosophy is the right one: instead of bombarding the driver with signals on an already crowded cluster or creating ever more beeping noises, they’ve turned to haptic feedback systems. Ones that respond to your inputs physically to give information directly to your muscles.
The force-feedback pedal is pretty self-explanatory: The foot pressure can be varied instantly, from super-stiff to feather-light and, in addition, the pedal can pulse back on your foot. Think of the potential uses: In today’s increasingly eco-friendly cars, the pedal pressure could become stiff when you’re driving like a hooligan. It could pulse twice quickly for an upshift or downshift, and it could even assess traffic conditions ahead to discourage unnecessary acceleration. In the near future, your car will pick up an emergency stop warning from the car ahead - kilometers ahead - and can alert you to the forthcoming danger with the pedal.
The future sees the automakers bringing apps to your dashboard. Continental showed its AutoLinQwith partners such as Navteq, Navigon, Shazam, Pandora and more lined up to bring the perks of your smartphone to your car.
Continental’s system is Android-based, which means that developers will be free to create whatever applications they want. Naturally they’ll need approval by Continental. AutoLinQ is able to read things such as e-mail or rss feeds aloud, in an attempt to reduce distraction. The company is working on text-dictation software, too, so the entire system will be zero - or one - click - your eyes will not need to leave the road. The initial connectivity is with Deutsche Telekom, but count on a U.S. deal before the system is released. The cell provider will offer a package price, not unlike what you get with an iPad now, until wireless infrastructure becomes pervasive enough to be a viable option (that is, both roadway-mounted and ad-hoc car-to-car communication).
Automotive sales drop 20 percent in October and Toyota Motors Thailand company reported that sales in the automotive sector in October fell 20.4 percent to 70,850 units.
Vudhigorn Suriyachantananont, senior vice president of Toyota Motors Thailand Co., released the figures.
The sale of passenger cars dropped 28.0 percent to 30,159 units, commercial vehicle sales fell 13.6 percent to 40,691 units, and one ton pickup trucks declined 13.3 percent to 34,220 units. (Pickup trucks are included in the commercial vehicle segment.)
The fall is attributed to high household debt, lower incomes of farmers and the end of the tax rebate under the first-car buyer scheme of the past government.
In the first 10 months of this year automotive sales amounted to 719,260 vehicles dropping by 36.0 percent year-on-year due to economic problems, the delayed recovery of exports, tourism, and inflation.
This resulted in operators and householders alike to be reluctant to invest and spend.
The automotive market is likely to be stable in November as there are signs of domestic economic recovery due to stimulation by the government, the introduction of new vehicle models, and a Motor Expo in late November.
Uncertainty regarding global economic recovery continues to negatively affect exports and the high cost of living is worrying consumers. (MCOT)
The Pattaya car club meets at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to Nova Park. The next meeting is on Monday December 8 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, and one is just back from driving around Australia towing a caravan! 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)!