Daniel does twitter

Daniel Ricciardo

During the Chinese Grand Prix weekend Daniel Ricciardo took over the Red Bull twitter account. You can get the full run down on the team’s official website, but here’s a few of the questions and answers we liked:

All the commentators pronounce your surname differently. How do you say it?

Marmite or Vegemite?
DR: VEGEMITE all day!!!

What is the most strange gift which you have ever received from your fans?
DR: A nasal trimmer. Yes very weird.

What is your the most favourite track?
DR: Macau! Raced there once in F3 and its Monaco on steroids basically. The track is nuts.

Can it be true? It can’t be…

Ayrton Senna

This week Darren Heath’s blog after the Chinese Grand Prix has nothing to do with the race and everything to do with the 20th anniversary of Ayrton Senna‘s death. That milestone will be reached in seven days from now, on 1 May.

No doubt there will be countless tributes paid to Senna over the next week or two. This one is a pretty good place to start…

[Source: darrenheath.com | Pic: Williams/LAT]

Red Bull’s A to Z of Formula 1

Daniel Ricciardo

Over the last couple of weeks Red Bull Racing has been releasing a series of short videos explaining the A to Z of Formula 1. The final clip was recently published and we’ve assembled all six parts here for you in one place. You’re not really going to learn too many secrets, but there’s worse ways to spend the next 15 minutes or so.

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You’re not buying an SUV, it’s a Le Mans racecar!

Porsche UK Macan launch

The Porsche Macan is going to smash sales records for the Stuttgart brand. In Australia demand is already outstripping supply and it’s not even in showrooms yet.

The reasons for this early success are pretty simple; the Macan looks good and it will undoubtedly drive very well. Plus, for a Porsche, it’s pretty damn cheap.

It doesn’t need to be marketed in order to be a sales phenomenon. And yet Porsche is intent on making potential Macan owners know they also make sportscars. And fancy racing cars, too!

Inside every Macan SUV is a little bit of Porsche 917. It’s true, I saw it on the internet…

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Porsche 911 GT3 wins 2014 World Performance COTY

Porsche 911 GT3

We love Porsche. And although we’re yet to drive one, we love 911 GT3s. Indeed, if when our lotto numbers come up, the first task will be deciding which GT3 to buy while we wait for the new one.

Just as essential as it is to have fine taste in motor cars, it’s also best to have a healthy sense of humour as you make your way through life. It would seem the World Car of the Year judges share this view, too, after awarding the 991 911 GT3 the 2014 World Performance Car.

The joke, of course, being that the car named the world’s best performance weapon cannot be driven. Not until it has a new engine, anyway. Fires tend to attract a bit too much attention, you see.

For now, the 911 GT3 is the ultimate garage queen, with the trophy to prove it.

Despite this minor oversight, the judges proudly state: “The latest 911 GT3 is 100 percent at home on any track, with surprising buckets of fine balance and handling prowess even with the engine theoretically in the ‘wrong’ place. Heavy aero work, the stripping down of the car’s weight, and 469 horsepower from the 3.8-liter flat-six engine, all help with lap times and launch time.”

The GT3 was named ahead of the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and Ferrari 458 Speciale for the shiny trophy.

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Being James Hunt

1974 Hesketh 308

James Hunt may have lived too fast and died too young, but didn’t he have a good time while he was alive! Those times were perhaps best exemplified early in his career when he gained attention with Hesketh Racing, where professionalism appeared secondary to reverie.

Now, you have an opportunity to live a little like James by buying one of the Hesketh 308 F1 cars he raced with to such good effect. We can’t guarantee you’ll land the ladies, or party like it’s 1974, but  you can at least look the part in one of F1’s most uniquely styled cars from one the sport’s most unique teams.

If nothing else it’s just great admiring a car which, by today’s standards, looks so simple and outdated. Yet, the simplicity and purity of the car tended to be reflected in the racing of the time.

Chassis 308-1 is will go under the hammer with RM Auctions on Saturday 10 May. Alan Jones also drove the car, which helps add to the car’s provenance. There’s a pretty wide expected sale price of €350,000–650,000, so start saving and you never know your luck!

[Source: RM Auctions]

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The money or the Porsche?

Nick Murray, former disgruntled Porsche owner

Yes, Nick Murray should get his money back. This, we know, because Nick’s recent YouTube video and its 1.3 million viewers gained enough traction to force the hand of Porsche Cars North America. The company has agreed to offer Nick a full refund or a brand new replacement vehicle.

So, then, the money or the Porsche: which would you choose?

Oh, we forgot this with the last video—sorry—there’s a language warning, in case you’re watching in an office without headphones. With any luck the screen grab above gives you an idea that this may be the case.

[Thanks to Alex and Mark for the tips]

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Sub-4 sec Golf R400 set to raise hot hatch bar

Volkswagen Golf R400 Concept

Every now and then a car maker just says, “F@#k it, you know what, let’s just do it!”

We saw that a few years ago when Renaultsport thought plastic windows in a Megane was a good idea. And again when Audi figured a stupidly overpriced limited edition A1 made perfect sense.

Now, thanks be to the hot hatch god, Volkswagen is going to turn this R400 concept into reality. First shown at the Auto China show in Beijing on the weekend the R400 has created something of a ripple since it was announced.

What is this R400 thingy then? It’s a 400PS (294kW) Golf R on steroids and VW reckons it can reach 100km/h in under four seconds (3.9 to be exact). We sort of knew it might be coming, thanks to earlier reports of a Golf R Evo. But now that it’s here in some sort of official capacity we’re a little bit excited, and we just can’t hide it!

The R400 gets its mojo from the familiar EA888 turbocharged 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine. In March, we saw Audi claim the wick could be turned up to 309kW/450Nm in the TT quattro sport concept.

To achieve that extra power and torque Volkswagen says:

The Golf R 400 features a newly developed turbocharger with a higher maximum charge pressure and reinforced crankcase. A water-cooled exhaust gas feed to the turbocharger integrated in the cylinder head helps to reduce full-load fuel consumption, while variable valve control with dual camshaft adjustment improves economy and performance.

Weighing in at 1420kg (the same as a standard Golf R), the R400, is fitted with a 6-speed DSG and features model specific bodywork. In addition to the obvious styling tweaks, there’s a 20mm increase in width, thanks to flared guards said to be inspired by the Mk2 Golf G60 Rallye.

Engine development has been overseen by Franz Eichler, the former AMG Exec poached by Volkswagen after he guided the 265kW A45 AMG; powered by what is currently the world’s most powerful 2.0 litre production engine.

We can’t get enough of the R400 and really hope the confirmation of production sign-off claimed by Car and Driver is 100% accurate.

There’s a couple of press releases from Volkswagen for you after the break. Start your drooling now!

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Toyota wins 2014 6hrs of Silverstone

2014 6 Hours of Silverstone

The 2014 WEC season got off to the best possible start overnight after Toyota claimed a dominant 1–2 victory in a rain affected 6 Hours of Silverstone. Two laps behind the winning #8 Toyota TS040 (Davidson, Lapierre, Buemi) was the #20 Porsche 919 (Bernhard, Hartley, Webber). That result marks a promising return to the LMP1 category for Porsche.

“The team did a fantastic job all weekend,” said Anthony Davidson after the victory. “It looked like it would be an epic fight with Audi and Porsche if it had stayed dry, but we knew the rain was coming and we had set our car up for wet conditions.

“We made the right call on tyres, the strategy was just perfect; that’s how you win races.”

Defending champions Audi had a race to forget with both the R18s crashing out of contention. Luca di Grassi was at the wheel when the #1 R18 went out early in proceedings, while the #2 car lasted until mid-race distance having lost time due to a separate incident in the first hour.

The #14 Porsche 919 also went off-track briefly, although no major damage was done. However, its race came to an end early in the second hour due to a “technical problem”. This highlights how valuable the third place for the #20 car was, enabling the team to gather valuable track time and experience in addition to championship points.

In a three horse race, with two established rivals and a new kid on the block, this set of results builds anticipation for the 6 Hours of Spa in two weeks.

The Audis have shown they have raw pace, setting the fastest single lap in both qualifying and the race, and with multiple championships behind them they’re unlikely to repeat the double blunder we saw here at Silverstone.

Toyota has built on its LMP1 experience and this result will give them confidence to carry its momentum to Spa. While Porsche has shown it can have the reliability it needs to keep its more fancied rivals honest.

“It’s been a brilliant day for us,” Mark Webber siad post-race. “I’m happy to have played a small role in the effort that’s gone in from the team and everyone back at the factory to get to this point.

“Timo and Brendon drove exceptionally as well. It was unfortunate for the other car, but it wasn’t their day. It was a tough race for all the drivers with tricky conditions, and drizzle on slick tyres is never easy. We managed to dodge a few bullets and survived some of the tricky phases.

“It was a great experience for me, I learnt so much today in the race. We were spot on with the pit stops in terms of the tyre strategy.”

Official race reports and photos from Toyota, Porsche and Audi can be viewed after the break.

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2014 Chinese GP: Post-race press conference

2014 Chinese Grand Prix

Before you get into the mostly routine press conference after the break, let’s take a look at what the Red Bull team statement gave us in light of another race where Sebastian Vettel was asked to let Daniel Ricciardo overtake him for track position.

Daniel Ricciardo: “With Seb, we were racing and you always want to hold on to your position, but the team radioed and he let me through. I did what I could after each stop and we improved the car; at the end I was doing all I could to catch Alonso and I think we got to within a couple of seconds of him as we went over the line. It’s going well with the team, I feel comfortable here and I did the best I could today. I really want that podium and we’re getting close!”

Sebastian Vettel: “I moved over for Daniel once I knew that we were on different strategies. When I was first asked, I didn’t understand as we were on the same tyre, unlike in Bahrain, so I double checked. When the team said we were on a different strategy, I moved over and then, as the race went on, I saw more and more that I didn’t have the pace. There was no point in holding Dan back. I’m not yet where I want to be with the car, but it’s an on-going process; hopefully at the next few races we will make some more steps in the right direction.”

Christian Horner: “Sebastian made a great start, but then appeared to go through the tyres quicker than Daniel and, after the second stop, it was apparent Seb’s degradation was particularly worse than Daniel, so we looked at switching him to a three-stop and therefore released Daniel who was very much focused on a two-stop at that point. Thereafter Daniel was able to close the gap to Alonso, but unfortunately we didn’t have enough to get onto the podium today.”

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Lewis Hamilton wins 2014 Chinese GP

2014 Chinese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton cruising to victory has been the story of the early season so far in Formula 1 and that narrative continued in Shanghai today when Hamilton strolled to his third race win on end at the Chinese Grand Prix.

It also says something of Mercedes AMG’s dominance over the field when a comparatively bumbling Nico Rosberg, driving a car unable to transmit its telemetry back to the pit wall, was able to recover from a poor start to take an easy second place, making it the third Mercedes 1–2 in succession.

Fernando Alonso extended his reputation for delivering more than his car can give by finishing third, able to hold off a late charge from Daniel Ricciardo who came home fourth. The young Aussie once again ruffled the feathers of four-time world champ Sebastian Vettel, who finished fifth.

Around mid-race distance Ricciardo was on a two-stop strategy and at the time Vettel was planning to three-stop. With fresher tyres Daniel was closing in quickly on his more credentialled teammate and for the second race in a row an order from the team came through asking Vettel to let Ricciardo past.

Vettel’s initial response over the radio, after establishing both men were on the same tyres, was, “Tough luck!” Although, on the next lap Vettel opened the door for Daniel and the impressive youngster went through. To rub further salt into Vettel’s wound the team later switched him to a two-stop strategy.

After the excitement of Bahrain, this was not a race for the ages. The only incidents of any note came during the early stages of the opening lap when Felipe Massa and Alonso clunked wheels. Almost immediately afterwards, in a separate incident, Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas interlocked wheels. It was a stroke of good fortune for all four drivers that no damage was done and all managed to finish the race uninhibited.

That said, Felipe Massa’s chance at a stronger points haul was ruined when his Williams crew completely botched his first pit stop. To call it a comedy of errors would have been kind. In the end the Brazilian resumed the race in last place and did well to fight back to finish P9.

Reliability improved across the field, too, with only two drivers failing to finish the race. Adrian Sutil retired early with an engine problem, while the Lotus of Romain Grosjean succumbed to a gearbox failure.

Trivia buffs will be keen to note an oddity to the final result thanks to the chequered flag first being shown to Lewis Hamilton on lap 55 of the 56 lap race. That mistake meant the final classified result reverted back to the positions on lap 54.

You can see the full lap 54 positions after the break, along woth updated championship tables.

There will be a delay in our F1 in pictures gallery for this race. We expect to have the images ready for you by next weekend, or hopefully before.

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2014 Chinese GP: Qualifying report

2014 Chinese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton made light work of the wet conditions to comfortably claim pole position at the Chinese Grand Prix yesterday. It’s his third pole position for the year and his 34th career pole, a new British record.

Hamilton’s time (1:53.860) was almost six tenths faster than Daniel Ricciardo’s best lap (1:54.455), who outqualified Sebastian Vettel (1:54.960) for the third time in four races. Vettel will start from P3, alongside Nico Rosberg (1:55.143).

Former teammates Fernando Alonso (1:55.637) and Felipe Massa (1:56.147) will line up on the third row, ahead of Valtteri Bottas (1:56.282) and Nico Hulkenberg (1:56.366).

The top 10 is rounded out by the Renault-powered duo of  Jean-Eric Vergne (1:56.773) and Romain Grosjean (1:57.079).

McLaren will be wondering where its pre-season pace has gone, only able to qualify in P12 (Jenson Button) and P15 (Kevin Magnussen).

Technical problems prevented Pastor Maldonado from setting a time in Q1 and he will start from the rear of the grid at the stewards’ discretion. Given he has a five-place grid penalty for flipping Esteban Gutierrez at the last race it would spice things up a little if the stewards said, “No race for you!”

Weather conditions for the race are expected to be cool and dry, which should see Mercedes increase its advantage over the Red Bulls who need rain to have any chance of closing the gap over a full race distance.

The full post-quali press conference transcript can be read below and Sebastian Vettel’s response to having a “more competitive teammate” is worth a read.

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Audi S1 teaser review

Audi S1

The 21st century Audi S1 is a car that interests us very much. For starters we’ve always quite liked the look of the A1. And the idea of sticking what is essentially the S3 drivetrain into its more fashion conscious little brother is one we wholehearetedly approve of.

That said, the real S1 deserves its place in motorsport folklore. Any attempts by Audi to try and fool us into believing there is a genuine link between a trumped up A-segment shopping trolley and a group B rally icon should be spared. If not for our embarrassment, then at least for Audi’s.

It’s better to just accept Audi’s current nomenclature and rationalise the name of the S1 that way, rather treating us like fools.

Now that we’ve cleared that up we’re pleased to see the S1 doing the media rounds. Although, as this review from Evo shows, you’ll be left wanting fore more. And in the case of the feisty S1, perhaps that’s no bad thing.

[Thanks to John for the tip]

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MY15 Subaru WRX STI – Australian pricing & specs

MY15 Subaru WRX STI

Subaru Australia announced the pricing and spec deatils for the all new WRX STI during the week. There’s good and bad news, too. The good news is they have slashed the pricing compared with the previous model. The bad news is, if you already own the old model, your resale has just been smashed!

The WRX STI is offered in standard trim for a list price of $49,990 along with the WRX STI Premium for $54,990. That represents five-figure savings against the old models.

Powered by a 2.5 litre boxer engine the key stats of power (221kW at 6000rpm) and torque (407Nm at 4000rpm) fare well against the STI’s competition. Although fuel consumption (10.4l/100km) and CO2 emissions (242g/km) don’t look so good.

The STI weighs 1525kg (Premium 1537kg) but can still manage to reach 100km/h in 4.9 seconds. A figure Subaru assures us has been achieved in local testing.

Subaru Australia says it has increased the standard equipment in the new STI and a comprehensive press release available below has all the details for you.

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