March 12, 2006

The Emergence Of A Legend

Writing about Formula 1 is back baby! from nathanielho :: blog

F1 2006 is looking very good indeed after today's race. For the first time in a long time, watching the TV coverage made me want to be at the circuit. There's a real depth to the grid this year; lots of new teams, the leading drivers all seem to be at the top of their game, and we've still got comedy at the back despite the transformation of Minardi into Scuderia Toro Rosso…I'm so grateful for Super Aguri.

As for the race, it was excellent. Mostly because of the quality of the overtaking manoeuvres, they really were top class. Button, not driver that I especially rate, pulled off some classic textbook moves at the first corner. His move on Montoya (I think, excuse me if I'm wrong) particularly caught my eye. He got a good run out of the final corner, and stayed in Montoya's slipstream, all the way down the start/finish straight right up until the braking zone. Then, just before slamming on the anchors, he aimed the car to go just past Montoya's rear right wheel, and sailed past. However, Jense was not finished.

Montoya knows how to drive, so seeing Jense dive up the inside, he didn't panic. He stayed wide, so that he could turn in later, but get a better exit from the corner than Button and then reclaim the position at the next corner. He did not anticipate that Jense would go wide as well (seemingly intentionally) to block off his escape. Montoya had to wait for Jense to get out of his way before he could get the accelerator down, and by that time Jense was already up to speed and well away, managing to defend himself at the next corner. Credit to you, sir, that was definately a move.

Heidfeld and Couthard also had some notable battles at that first corner, highlighting it as one of the most entertaining overtaking places on the calendar (especially on a Tilke track ;–)). The right–left kink straight after the corner gives some great opportunities for some aggressive defensive/offensive driving, without the risk of hitting anything hard, except for whoever you are duelling with.

However, performer of the best overtaking move, and as Brundle pointed out, star of the show, was Nico Rosberg. Apart from his abberation in qually when he hit the wall (it happens to the best of us ;–)), he handled himself excellently thoughout the weekend; most unlike a rookie driver. Getting points on your F1 debut is quite an acheivement, getting fastest lap on your race debut is even more so (stats fans…who was the last guy to do that? Villeneuve?), and all in a car that is regarded as maybe the 5th/6th best on the grid. Legend.

I of course have to mention his brilliant move on Klien as well, again at that first corner. I loved the dummy he sold Klien, to make him think twice about shutting the door, excellent work indeed. He clearly knows what he is doing, despite his relative inexperience. If Rosberg can continue to race as well as he did today, then he's one for the future, if not the present. Williams are a team that can only improve, especially with that monsterous Cosworth engine in the back, so Rosberg is sitting pretty. Is he a one–race wonder though? Somehow, I don't think so.

March 11, 2006

A Dilemma

As the outgoing president of Warwick Motorsport (what a self–promotional opening line ;–)) I inevitably spend a lot of time talking about cars, racing, getting from A–to–B in the least time possible, etc etc. Recently that favourite topic of the Seven–Car Dream Garagetm came up, and it's a good topic. Unfortunately it's also a very thought–provoking one as well, so I spent an evening doing some research on filling the first garage bay.

Bay Number 1: The Beach-Buggy

Finding a nice beach is great. I like beaches where there's miles and miles of flat, uninterrupted sand. Preferably nice and soft up the top, and then slightly firmer towards the sea. You know how I mean? The former makes it easy to perform some specatular saves, with an accompanying cloud of sand, when you're throwing the frisbee around; whilst the latter is a lovely surface for playing football on or for just going for a run. Then of course you can throw yourself into the sea afterwards to cool off, or make frisbee–ing even more interesting :D

However, beaches always give you a problem when the time has come to clear off back home in the car. Inevitably you're covered in an unpleasant combination of sunscreen, sand, and seawater. Not good. So you get back home, and then next day you come to drive off to wherever life takes you. But disaster! There's sand in the footwell and the seats are covered in salt! What a minger! Obviously this is not desirable. Especially if you happen to have brought your Brabus SV12 to the beach, numpty. Although that is a cool thing to do, let's be honest, bringing your 200mph saloon with an optional boot–mounted server to the beach is a bit of overkill.

Brabus SV12 Interior

Back to the sand and salt in the car. Ideally what you should have done is given the inside of your car a hose down when you got back to base. But since you've been well–educated at the University of Warwick, you know that putting your electrically-adjustable leather memory seats, high-res sat-nav system and fly-by-wire driving controls through the rinser isn't going to do your warranty claims any good. You need a more practical car for taking to the beach. Something simple. Something designed to punished. You need a Caterham Seven.

Caterham R500

The Caterham Seven is a car with a rich history. I don't need to introduce it to you petrolhead bloggers, but for those of you who don't know what it is, it's quick. It's the archtypical, and to the best of my knowledge most popular, road–legal club–racing circuit car. it's basically an engine with seat and suspension bolted on. It contains only the basics…on some (high–end) models even the windscreen is an option. Nice. Simple. No fancy electronics. Therefore tolerant to a good hosing down. Perfect. Just make sure you get the blow–dryer out to get rid of the water in the footwell…opening the doors on the Seven to let water gush out won't do the trick, since, umm, it has no doors. Excellent.

It also has no roof either, which is ideal for a beach car. The smell of the air changes as you get towards the sea; sensing the salt and freshness as you get towards the coast is always a lovely moment. In the Seven, with no roof or doors, you wouldn't merely sense it; it would be more like a smack in the face. On a side note, the lack of roof or doors also means that the interior of the car won't heat up the in the sun whilst you're nailing the football 60 yards out to sea to see if the waves will bring it back (and they always do ;)).

However, although the Seven seems perfect, there is a drawback. You go to beach, you take a frisbee, football, towel, maybe some food, and of course your buddies. The Seven only has two seats…so you're limited to one passenger straight away….and limited bootspace. ie, none. Well, there is a token hole behind the seats for menial storage, I believe, but that will easily be filled by the frisbee. So what about the football? And towel? And cricket bat, if your friends are that way inclinded? There is a simple solution. Kick your buddy out of the passenger seat, sling the random stuff you want to bring in a kitbag, then loop it through the 4–point harness that would otherwise have kept your passenger in the car, and store it in the passenger seat. And then invite another friend with a car to come, and then you can play football with an extra five people.

Problem solved, and therefore the Seven has justified it's space in my 'Dream Garage. This is before I've even mentioned its incredible acceleration in all horizontal axes, the outstanding suspension control, high performance/£ ratio and its other supercar–scaring party peices. However, when I had finished my research into the Seven, something incredible occured to me.

Ariel Atom at Silverstone

This is a 300bhp Ariel Atom. This is known as a dilemma ;)

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