As hard as we try, we don't always get it right. Yes, automotive journalists in general are fairly astute individuals. We read newspapers. We study trends. A lot of times we even scribble notes at events in order to remember things. All of this comes in handy when our job calls upon us to use this insight and cast a prediction of the auto industry. A good amount of time, we hit the nail right on the head. Other times? Well, that's what this article is for.
Predictions regarding the automobile industry have been around since the beginning of the automobile. News on new technology was, and always has been, a hot topic of automotive discussion. The ability to stay ahead of the competition is similar to a war tactic: predict the guy's next move and beat him to it. What we are going to discuss here is the ability to get things completely wrong. Astonishingly so.
The 1954 Ford Atmos used hand grips for steering,
it had a radar screen, and the driver sat in the middle.
For the most part (sadly), safety is one of the things that comes from governmental regulations. While most manufacturers had innovative safety programs, it was government mandates that made items standard, such as a three point seatbelt, airbags, and traction control. Of my research in this, airbags stood out due to the consumer's stubbornness to accept them. These little balloons of safety have been responsible for saving untold numbers of lives, but there were growing pains associated with their public acceptance.
There were 135k spectators total over the 3-day weekend. The Circuit of the Americas' total capacity is 120k and most of the grandstands looked far from sold out. The customary fan celebration on the front straight after the race looked very tame compared to Montreal and especially Monza.
Loved watching Jay Leno in the McLaren P1 around the track. He was not especially fast but he makes up for it by being funny as always. That was a thinly veiled ad by the way -- admit it, Jay, even you could not turn down an offer to drive a P1 around COTA! Is it a coincidence that the Forza 5 ads looked like a McLaren infomercial as well? I think not - that's McLaren's PR machine hard at work. In a season where they've had one of their worst showings in their storied history, they'll need all the PR they can get!
Leigh Diffey in the Vettel interview: "How do you stay so humble and grounded?" What a joke, Leigh -- you cannot possibly be forgetting that Vettel is a selfish whiner who's been a total ass on a few occasions even to teammate Mark Webber. You should be ashamed of yourself for asking a question like that just to kiss up to him.
Loved Sam Posey's narration - Vettel is like Senna and Schumacher who "... all believe that destiny called for them and them alone to win!" That's more like it, Diffey.
I really enjoyed this WSJ article on Mario Andretti. It gives us a great insight into his personality and background. It's so easy to forget that he was the last American to win a Formula 1 race... Wonder if a talent like him could ever make it all the way to the top like that today...
As a teenager, he was working in a gas station when he and his brother hatched the idea to build a race car from a Hudson Hornet. They borrowed $500 from the bank and got fake IDs. (They were 19 at their first race; the legal age for racing was 21.)
So everyone is wondering how Vettel's race pace can be so much faster than anyone else's in Formula 1, including teammate Mark Webber driving an identical car. Even James Allen is trying to grab some attention on his site with a headline like Analysis: How Does Sebastian Vettel Find the Speed?
Vettel has found a way in terms of balancing and driving his car, to extract close to the maximum consistently in qualifying, but then to push hard on heavy fuel at the start at the same time as maintaining the life of the tyres over a longer period. It’s about not sliding the tyres too much, being precise with the steering in those sub 130km/h corners, being precise with the throttle on corner exit to avoid wheelspin which also overheats the tyres.
So this is it then, just being precise with the steering and preserving the tires?! I bet every driver (well, except for Hamilton perhaps) takes good care of their tires. Why is a super smooth driver like Jenson Button not the fastest then? An entire article devoted to how Vettel does it and this is the only meaningful "insight"? I really expected more from James Allen. Much more: Does Vettel lean on the fronts? Does he compress the braking zone? Does he get on the throttle early but more gradually? Just throwing a time chart like that doesn't explain how he does it and an F1 insider like James Allen should know that very well.
11/8/2013 UPDATE Peter Windsor breaks it down further for us. In the end, so much of it is about what we always tell first-time autocrossers: "Look Ahead!"
Lamborghini Turns 50 was a fantastic segment on this weekend's 60 Minutes. Very educational and fun to watch -- it's well worth 12 minutes of your time if you have not seen it yet. Now, if host Scott Pelley's pink shirt could only make up for his utter lack of driving skills... Even Lamborghini test driver and instructor Mario Fasanetto had trouble keeping up a straight face!