Archive for the ‘Cars’ Category

Brawn GP to sell their old cars at auction

July 16th, 2009 No comments

Ex-Jenson Button 2006 Honda RA106It is expensive running a Formula One team these days and unless you are bankrolled by a billionaire or wealthy Middle East investors it can be hard for an independent team to make ends meet.

Despite leading the World Championship there is a distinct lack of sponsors on the mostly white Brawn GP cars so to raise some funds they are having a bit of a clear out, seeing what junk they can find lying around the factory and flogging it at auction.

Bonhams auction house will be selling a number of old Honda and BAR cars at the Silverstone Classic on 25 July including a chassis that was driven by Jenson Button to finish third in the 2006 Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.

Brawn CEO, Nick Fry said:

Brawn GP is extremely proud of our heritage with British American Tobacco and Honda, and we have inherited a vast collection of historic race cars and memorabilia from the team’s early years. We are delighted to be able to give collectors and our fans the opportunity to share in our history and purchase some fantastic items, including actual race cars, through this unique sale.

None of the cars have engines or gearboxes but even so the estimates look strangely affordable.  A show car will set you back £7000 – £10,000, while you can get one that Jenson Button himself raced for under £20,000.

I don’t know where I would put it but I am almost tempted to place a bid.

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Rare McLaren F1 GTR for sale

June 16th, 2009 No comments

McLaren F1 GTR Long TailEver wanted to race in Le Mans?  Here is your chance to pick up an extremely rare McLaren F1 GTR “Long Tail” in Gulf Team livery.

In 1995 McLaren built the first race version of the F1 and at Le Mans that year McLaren F1 GTRs took 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 13th places.

Despite being entered in the GT class, the reliability of the McLaren F1 saw it beat the faster purpose-built Le Mans Prototype cars, completing 298 laps at an average speed of more than 162 km/h.  It also recorded the highest top speed in practice, reaching 281 km/h.

Incredibly the first McLaren F1 GTR had only rolled off the production line six months earlier.

In 1997,  a number of changes were made to the GTR to meet major regulation changes but the most important was a substantial reduction in weight.  The ’97 car weighed only 915kg and this combined with an improved transmission and the new “long tail” aerodynamics saw lap times improve by four seconds over the GTR ’96.

At Le Mans in 1997 Gulf Team Davidoff won the GT category and also finished second overall.

Out of 28 McLaren F1 GTRs built, only 10 were long tails.  This one is chassis number 28 and was originally used as a Gulf Team Davidoff spare car that was raced during the second half of the season.

It might not be as rare or as beautiful as a Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa but this is still an automotive work of art.

The ultimate race version of the ultimate road car.

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Teams reject KERS

June 9th, 2009 No comments

KERSIn January I said that if KERS didn’t prove itself in Formula One then it should be abandoned.  Now, after seven races that have seen the number of teams using the devices fall to two, FOTA has decided to drop the technology for 2010.

Introduced as a way of boosting Formula One’s green credentials, the heavy devices have proven to be expensive and difficult to integrate into a Formula One car’s chassis.  Only McLaren, BMW, Ferrari and Renault have raced with KERS this year and of those four only Ferrari and McLaren with any regularity.

KERS stores energy created under braking which can then be converted into power at the touch of a button, giving a boost of up to 80hp.  While this can be an advantage in passing or defending, a KERS device can weigh up to 30 kilograms which negatively affects the balance of the car and can (literally) outweigh any power gains.  None of the top three teams in the Constructors’ Championship have used KERS this season.

McLaren’s KERS system is widely regarded as the best but team principal Martin Whitmarsh said he would go along with the majority decision:

McLaren’s position is we would like to see KERS retained – but we also accept that we have to be responsible members of the F1 community, and if the majority don’t want to have KERS, or can’t afford KERS at the moment, then we have to be realistic.

While KERS is still allowed under the 2010 regulations it remains to be seen whether Williams or any of the new non-FOTA teams will continue to develop the technology.

Williams’s device is different from the others in that it uses a flywheel rather than batteries to store the power and if the team could find a way to make it work well they would definitely have an advantage.  But the fact that none of the leading teams are using the device suggests that this year is the last we will see of KERS.

Image: Getty / Red Bull

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Ferrari 250 TR sells for $12 million

May 19th, 2009 No comments

1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa

As predicted, a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa has broken the record for the most expensive car ever to be sold at auction at the Ferrari Leggenda e Passione event in Maranello.

One of only 34 ever built, it went for $12,156,252 (€9,020,000).  That’s more than $2m more than the previous record set at the same sale last year.

With a Scaglietti designed body and striking black and red paintwork, chassis number 0714 was the fourth Ferrari 250 Testarossa built and was raced in the 1958 Cuban Grand Prix where Juan Manuel Fangio was kidnapped by Cuban rebels.

The unique pontoon shaped fender design was said to be one of Scaglietti’s favourites, as the designer explains:

Formula 1 was the inspiration for the shape, there were pods on the sides of the F1 cars, (Ferrari Lancia D50) and while I wouldn’t call them aerodynamic, they went well. We used a similar idea by designing the body to bring air in towards the brakes to cool them. In many ways the Ferrari 250 Testarossa was a Formula 1 car with fenders.

I once saw a yellow one of these in San Francisco at the California Mille.  It is quite possibly the world’s most beautiful car.

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A new start in Barcelona

May 5th, 2009 No comments

Rubens Barrichello, Bahrain, 2009Jenson Button and Brawn GP have dominated the start of the 2009 Formula One season, winning three out of the four races so far.  If you listen to Renault’s Flavio Briatore that is almost entirely down to a ‘unique’ interpretation of the rules but since the FIA declared double-decker diffusers legal all the ‘non-diffuser’ teams have been working hard to redesign the back of their cars.

After the flyaway races in the East, the Spanish Grand Prix marks the start of the European tour and most teams will be bringing significant car updates to the Circuit de Catalunya this weekend.  These updates, and the fact that the drivers and teams know the track backwards from winter testing, should make for a close race on Sunday.

One of only three teams to use KERS this season, BMW have abandoned the device for Spain in favour of a comprehensive aerodynamic update.  Team boss Mario Theissen said:

We will not be equipping either cars with KERS in Barcelona.  It was a case of lining up with either a comprehensive aerodynamic update or KERS.  The tuning time on Friday would be too short.

I’m not sure why they can’t run KERS with the new aero update but BMW will be hoping it brings an improvement to their apalling start to the season.

Now that in-season testing is banned, the teams face a new problem when developing their cars this year.  Previously, teams could run many miles testing new aero packages before racing them.  This year it won’t be until they take to the track in Friday practice that they will know if any new parts are successful. Toro Rosso’s chief engineer, Laurent Mekies:

Obviously we don’t have testing now so we have to understand how the upgrade suits the direction we have taken so far.  Does it push in the same direction or does it ask us to reconsider some of the choices we have made already?

McLaren already made significant improvement in Bahrain with Lewis Hamilton wringing the most out of the MP4-24 to finish fourth and so will not be bringing anything special to Spain.  The Barcelona track is unlikely to suit the McLaren but Hamilton remains hopeful of another strong finish:

We won’t have the bigger upgrades of some of the other teams as we already introduced several new parts during the opening flyaways, so it will be interesting to see where we sit in the order. Nevertheless, the engineers are optimistic that our new diffuser and front wing will once again help us to make progress towards the front of the grid.

Currently fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, McLaren will be hoping for a stronger performance at Barcelona than they displayed there in winter testing.

Image: Brawn GP

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