Ferrari’s troubles deepen at Brazilian GP


Sao Paulo (AP) — Ferrari hoped the Brazilian Grand Prix would bring some relief after poor performances and even accusations of cheating from opponents.

Instead, the Formula 1 team ended the weekend with a collision involving its two drivers as they fought for only fourth place at Interlagos.

Sebastian Vettel looked strong starting from second in Sunday’s race. Charles Leclerc, who began from 14th position because of an engine penalty, jumped to sixth in only 11 laps in Sao Paulo.

It was too good to last.

The two Ferrari drivers faced off on Lap 66 after a safety car restart, and contact between the cars gave Vettel a right-rear puncture, while Leclerc had a broken suspension. Both failed to finish.

“It is very disappointing for the team,” Vettel said after the race.

Leclerc said he wanted to see footage of the crash before reaching any conclusions. “It was a great race before that. But we can’t draw anything positive from this race,” he said.

Their exit allowed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, the winner in Brazil, to jump to third place in the driver’s championship. He is 11 points ahead of fourth-place Leclerc with only the Abu Dhabi GP on Dec. 1 to go. Vettel is 30 points behind Verstappen and cannot claim a top three spot any longer.

Ferrari will also finish the season far behind Mercedes in the constructors championship.

Earlier this month at the United States GP, Leclerc finished almost a minute behind race winner Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes. Vettel retired early.

After that race, Verstappen suggested that Ferrari had been “cheating”. The Red Bull driver said on Dutch TV that the Italian team’s performance dipped at Austin because of a FIA directive on fuel flow systems.

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto said the directive had no impact on the team’s engine.

After the Brazilian GP Binotto said “both of them (Vettel and Leclerc) have got at least a small percentage of responsibility” for the clash.

“At the end, they were free to fight,” Binotto said.


Automaker Daimler to save $1.54B by cutting manager posts

Berlin (AP) — German automaker Daimler says it plans to slash costs 1.4 billion euros ($1.54 billion) by cutting every tenth managerial position and other austerity measures.

CEO Ola Kallenius told reporters in London on Thursday that the EU’s stricter specifications on carbon dioxide emissions and the transition to more electric vehicles are putting the squeeze on the Stuttgart-based company’s bottom line.

The cuts at the manufacturer of Mercedes vehicles are to come over the next three years, the dpa news agency reported.

Kallenius told reporters in a conference call that Daimler was also being hurt in the trade war between China and the United States, with new duties being placed on U.S.-built cars that are exported to China.

He says Daimler remains “fully committed” to invest and grow in both countries.

(At Daimler, an optimist is someone who takes their sandwiches for lunch.)


Is it time to retire?

Being one of a handful of race drivers who are still racing in their 70’s, some of my readers may find my exploits interesting. (If not, just move to the next item.)

My love affair with motor cars began when I was 11 and was taken to spectate at a race meeting at the Charterhall circuit in Scotland. It was at that circuit I first saw Jimmy Clark and Jacky Stewart, members of the Border Revers team. Clark was later killed in a racing accident and Wee Jackie long retired but willing to express an opinion.

As a schoolboy I saved any information I could find about the cars of that era. I begged the tobacconist to give me the advertising photo behind his counter of Mike Hawthorn complete with bow tie, smoking a cigarette for Craven A.

Scrapbooks with cut-outs of the latest cars, like the Phase 1 Standard Vanguard and the 1953 Morris Oxford (which later became the Hindustan Ambassador Mk III). Weekends would see me hanging around the motorbike repair shop and my nose could pick up the heady smell of Castrol R from 59 meters.

But I was not a good spectator. I wanted to race.

By the time I was accepted into medical school the die was already rolled. Medical student by day and mechanic at night and petrol pump attendant weekends. Getting the grease off my hands before morning clinics was always a huge problem.

Doing up tired old cars (like a 1949 Austin A40 and a 1953 Ford V8 Customline and a couple of semi-wrecked MG TC’s) and in 1965 some lucky deals saw me in the local sports car yard trading in my second 1953 Ford Customline (the first Cusso tripped one night and we put the good interior of the first one into the second one) and traded it on a 1955 MGA 1500 with a slipping clutch. The car yard threw in a new clutch plate in a box in the deal, and by that evening I had it installed. By the weekend it was at the Lowood race circuit. That was March 1965. I was still a starving medical student and the helmet was borrowed, the race suit was a short sleeved shirt with my name embroidered on it, shorts, long socks and slip-on shoes. The excitement, noise and fumes were better than any of today’s naughty substances. MGA and I came 3rd in class and won $5. I was going to frame the cheque, but I cashed it as I needed the money!

MGA and its first race.
MGA and its first race.

MGA and I entered everything I could but it was shoestring racing. Tyres? No Dunlop Racing for me, until I scored some very secondhand ones by chance. The top racer of the day had a Dunlop tyre contract and he would pass his racing tyres to a friend when they were half worn. From there they went through another two friends until they were finished and then I scored what was left. Even 99 percent worn out I was delighted. “Free” tyres.

At one meeting I ran out of my freebies but spotted that one of the car trailers had the same size tyres. Within five minutes the required tyre was on the MGA, and the trailer was on blocks. Five minutes after the race was over the tyre was back and fitted on the trailer.

The circuit at Lowood had a long straight and I was doing everything I could to get the magic “ton”. Slipping down in the seat to keep my helmet out of the wind I was reading the instruments as the 100 mph arrived, but suddenly the engine started to misfire. Backing off suddenly, I found I was sitting in the middle of a bonfire. Sheets of flame were running up the bonnet as I looked for a fire marshal in the officials. Spotting one with a large fire extinguisher I drove off the circuit and headed towards him. Getting closer he opened his extinguisher and began to spray me! “Not me – the car!” I screamed and then found my long socks were on fire!

What had happened was that a fuel line fitting at the carburetor had come loose, spraying petrol all over the exhaust pipe. MGA’s have wooden floors, and it was alight too!

That evening and into the small hours we cut new floors and reassembled the fuel lines. I got some new socks and we raced again the next day.

It was now 1966 and I sat my exams and qualified overseas and then spent two years between Gibraltar and England. That was worth a book on its own but one story will be enough. It was right when Gib was having a referendum to determine whether it would stay British (with London paying the bills) or revert to being Spanish and having to find the money themselves. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out which way the vote went. 99 percent voted to stay with the UK. Anyway during all the referendum fever, I was called to the Casualty department to look at the wife of the Gibraltar Minister for Tourism. “What can I do for you, Madam? I asked. She replied, “You speeky Spanee. Me no speeky Englee!”

There’s lots more if you are interested.


And the Fugly award goes to …

Spotted this horror in the hospital car park. I have never seen anything more deserving of the Fugly award than this. It looked Japanese but what? I wondered if it could be a Kei (under 660 cc) car. Eventually, an old racing mate from Australia and now living in Japan, identified it as a “Will” made by Toyota on the Vitz platform. Toyota should be ashamed, and the following is from the Toyota web.

Fugly front and rear.
Fugly front and rear.

The WiLL Vi is a compact car, produced from 2000 to 2001, with distinctive styling combining elements of many cars. The WiLL Vi was designed by the then newly formed Virtual Venture Company, headed by Jim Shimizu. The unique-appearing rear window had earlier appeared on the Mazda Carol, the Ford Anglia (1959–1968), and the Citroen Ami. The “neo-retro” look represented a period in Japan where vehicles took on the styling of historic vehicles from the 1950s and 1960s, such as the Nissan Be-1, Nissan Figaro, Nissan Pao, the Toyota Origin, the Subaru Vivio, and the Mitsubishi Minica.

The car was equipped with MacPherson struts for the front wheels and a torsion beam axle for the rear wheels. The car was painted in a number of pastel colors, and the plastic wheel covers resemble sand dollars. One of the few options was a canvas sliding roof, and the vehicle was installed with bench seats for both front and rear passengers, with the gearshift installed on the dashboard.

Sales were disappointing. I wonder why.