I’m spinning around, move out of my way

Sebastian Vettel spins at the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix

It’s been said that Sebastian Vettel has suffered a fair amount of bad luck so far in the 2014 Formula 1 season. Perhaps that’s all about to change as his 360° spin during the Hungarian Grand Prix shows, captured here by a fan at the race. While there was a reasonable amount of talent required to avoid major contact with the pit wall, there was also a fair degree of good fortune.

[Source: WTF1]

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2014 Hungarian Grand Prix in pictures

2014 Hungarian Grand Prix

Determination, courage, pride and, most of all, talent; Daniel Ricciardo has them all. His results so far in 2014 have exceeded expectations and let’s hope that continues for some time yet.

You can relive Daniel’s victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix below. There’s over 100 photos on offer and some of them even feature subjects other than Daniel and his winning celebrations!

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2014 Hungarian GP: Post-race press conference

2014 Hungarian Grand Prix

It’s always a great feeling being a Formula 1 fan in Australia when you go to bed late at night after an Aussie victory and you wake up on Monday morning and hear all about the race win on the morning news bulletins. It’s a great way to start the week. Thank you Daniel!

The most pleasing thing about Ricciardo’s win at the Hungarian Grand Prix was the way he had to fight for it. Same with Canada, too, he hasn’t yet dominated a race from start to finish. That’s a legacy of not having the best car this year. It’s meant Daniel has had to either create opportunities for himself or take advantage of good luck coming his way during a race.

It seems odd to say it, given he’s the only non-Mercedes driver to win a race so far in 2014, but Daniel’s two wins have been great development for him as a driver. He’s still learning and he’s proving he has the bottle and the skill to fight for race wins. Let’s hope it’s not too long until we see him fighting for a world championship. Clearly, he has the class.

Even Fernando and Lewis agree, as you will read below.

[Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]

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Daniel Ricciardo wins 2014 Hungarian GP

2014 Hungarian Grand Prix

What the hell just happened? I’ll tell you what happened, Daniel Ricciardo just won the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix! That’s what just happened.

Proving the Murray Walkerism that “Anything can happen in Formula 1, and it usually does” Fernando Alonso finished second and Lewis Hamilton, who started from the pit lane, finished third. So, again, what the hell just happened!

The track was wet for the race start and all the drivers started on intermediates. Nico Rosberg made a clean getaway and went about opening up a sizeable gap to those behind. Valtteri Bottas showed some smarts off the line and overtook Sebastian Vettel at the first corner to claim P2.

Daniel lost a couple of places at the start and was in P6 but worked his way back to P5. Marcus Ericsson then had his most influential F1 race to date after he binned his car and invited the Safety Car onto the track.

The timing was such that Daniel was able to quickly dive into the pits for slick tyres while the first four cars had to do almost a complete lap behind the Safety Car. The wash up of all that saw a fortunate Daniel inherit the race lead.

After the Safety Car came in, off he went. The lead was lost briefly to Jenson Button, who was running intermediates on the still drying track, but that didn’t last and Dan reclaimed the lead which he held until lap 22.

Sergio Perez spun on the last corner and smashed his car into the pit wall, which brought out the Safety Car for a second time. Again, Ricciardo was quick to pit, a move which eventually worked to his benefit.

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton was able to make solid progress through the field despite starting from pit lane and then spinning off the track momentarily on lap 2. By the end of the first Safety Car period he had risen to P7, only two places behind Rosberg.

Amazingly, as the race progressed it looked as though Hamilton could be in with a chance of victory. Fernando Alonso, too, was having a good run and inherited the lead of the race after Ricciardo came in for fresh tyres with 15 laps to go.

Daniel rejoined the race in good shape and set about chasing those ahead of him including Alonso, Hamilton and Rosberg. Alonso’s strategy required him to do 32 laps in his final stint and Hamilton, too, was on old tyres. Rosberg also came in for a pit stop, gifting P3 to Daniel, before he also started chasing the leading trio.

Alonso was able to hold Hamilton and Ricciardo at bay with clean defensive driving. However, his pace was slowing as his tyres lost more life and this closed the gap to little more than a second back to Ricciardo in P3. On newer tyres Daniel needed a couple of attempts to get past Hamilton for P2, but showed great racecraft to out manouevre his more experienced rival. He quickly caught Alonso and used DRS to great effect to maximise a half chance and take the lead.

With only three laps to go Ricciardo was able to build a safe margin, leaving Alonso to defend against Hamilton and a super quick Rosberg. Somehow the superior Mercedes pair could not do what Daniel did and overtake Alonso. The race settled with a totally unpredictable first three and Rosberg left to rue his chances in P4.

Felipe Massa was fifth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen (his best result since returning to Ferrari). Sebastian Vettel was seventh and had only himself to blame after a final corner spin on lap 32. He was lucky not to have crashed out but did sufficient damage to his tyres to ruin his chances of a better result.

Valtteri Bottas’ day was cruelled by unfortunate pit timing and he could only manage P8. While Jean-Eric Vergne and Jenson Button rounded out the top 10.

His second grand prix win seemed to sit better with a beaming Daniel Ricciardo, who showed he has no fear or talent deficit with the world champions he’s mixing it with. It’s a great result for the young Aussie as the teams go into the mid-season break before racing returns at Spa in late August.

[Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]

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2014 Hungarian GP: Qualifying report

2014 Hungarian Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg’s charmed run has continued after he claimed pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix. On his last lap in Q3 Rosberg (1:22.715) snatched pole by a comfortable margin from Sebastian Vettel (1:23.201). Valtteri Bottas (1:23.354) once again has his Williams in the mix and qualified third.

The big story, though, was Lewis Hamilton suffering yet another mishap during qualifying. The 2008 world champion was fastest in all three practice sessions and went into Q1 with justified confidence. Alas, early in the session his car suffered a fuel leak which caused a fire. Making matters worse Mercedes has to build a up a new chassis forcing Lewis to start the race from pit lane.

For only the fourth time in 11 races Daniel Ricciardo (1:23.391) will start behind his Red Bull teammate. He will line up on the second row in P4 and said the lack of tyre temps after the rain shower prevented him from achieving a better qualifying result.

“The car feels pretty good this weekend,” said Ricciardo. “In Q1 and Q2 we were looking good, but when the rain came in Q3 we couldn’t get the temperature back in the tyres quick enough for one timed lap so I’m a bit disappointed not to be further up the grid.

“It would be good to be on the front row, but fourth isn’t a disaster. It’s hard to overtake around this circuit, so we need to aim to make as few stops tomorrow as possible.”

Fernando Alonso (1:23.909) and Felipe Massa (1:24.223) will share the third row. Jenson Button (1:24.294) will start alongside Jean-Eric Vergne (1:24.720). While Nico Hulkenberg (1:24.775) and Daniil Kyvat (1:24.706) round out the top 10.

Kyvat inherits P10 after Kevin Magnussen crashed out early in Q3. Light rain fell in between Q2 and Q3 and the wettest part of the track was Turn 1. On his first flying lap early in Q3 Magnussen misjudged the track and locked his brakes into Turn 1 before skidding into the tyre barriers at pace. He emerged unhurt but his car required signficant work and he will start from pit lane ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

Kimi Raikkonen made headlines too after he failed to progress to Q2, thanks to a last gasp effort from Marussia’s Jules Bianchi. The young Frenchman is signed to the Ferrari Driver Academy and is tipped to progress to the Scuderia when a place becomes available. Which presumably means Kimi needs to raise his game.

Only an outright disaster or car failure will prevent Rosberg from using his sixth pole position for the year to increase his championship lead over the luckless Lewis Hamilton. Indeed, on the tight Hungaroring layout Hamilton will just be happy if he can make the top 10 and claim a championship point.

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Will Mercedes flick Lewis for Sebastian in 2016?

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel

Lewis Hamilton, winner of five grands prix so far in 2014, is contracted to Mercedes until the end of the 2015 Formula 1 season. Already, Mercedes has plans to replace him with Sebastian Vettel from 2016 and beyond. That’s what Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko is telling German media anyway.

Remember, Nico Rosberg is safely tucked away at Mercedes for some time, so they only have one seat up for grabs. Providing perfect fodder for the likes of us here at AUSmotive both Hamilton and Vettel have been kind enough to comment on the speculation. So let’s go with Lewis first.

“I’m not worried about it,” he said in the build up to this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix. “Another German driver? I’m not sure if that’s something Mercedes would like.

“At the moment I’m here until the end of next year, so it’s not going to be any time soon. But Mercedes are the best, so everyone is going to want to drive a Mercedes.

“I’ve shown an interest in sitting down and talking. We haven’t sat down yet, but the team know I’d like to push to continue, and they have made clear they would like to do the same.”

In words, at least, Lewis does seem quite relaxed and is displaying a mature attitude.

“You never know what’s going to happen in the future, but I can’t particularly see myself anywhere else,” he added. “If they happen to want someone else then I’m not going to whinge about it. There are places for everyone.”

And now for Sebastian’s thoughts.

“I think any offer is to be considered, but nothing has changed,” he said. “So I still don’t talk about these things. I don’t know which sources Helmut has or doesn’t have. But they seem to vary.”

Coincidentally, Vettel’s contract with Red Bull ends in 2015 as well, so he will need to secure himself a drive for 2016.

[Source: Autosport]

New Honda NSX needs improved cooling

Honda NSX

The motoring world fell in love with the Honda NSX concept when it first debuted in early 2012. Mostly because it looks so damn good, but also because we know how much respect Honda has for the NSX badge. They won’t cock this up.

We also knew there would be a long development process, which may take a little bit longer after this NSX prototype was burnt to a crisp during a test session at the Nürburgring this week.

Thankfully neither of the occupants were hurt or injured in the incident which is believed to have started in the engine bay.

Acura/Honda spokeswoman Jessica Fini commented on the mishap:

Acura can confirm that an NSX prototype experienced a fire today while testing at the Nurburgring. We make safety a top priority, and fortunately no injuries occurred. We are investigating the cause but as the vehicle is still under development, we’re not in a position to share details. While an incident like this is unfortunate, the development of the NSX continues its progress toward its highly anticipated launch.

The car is powered by a twin turbo V6 with additional electric power being to both the front and rear wheels, which should be good for 500hp or more. A 7-speed dual clutch transmission will ensure that power is delivered efficiently as well.

It looks like a supercar and burns like a supercar. And we reckon this new NSX will be a bloody good supercar!

You can see video of the NSX in its pre-barbecue state after the break.

[Source: AutoGuide]

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Bernie says Azerbaijan in 2016, New Jersey maybe

Red Bull Racing visits New York City

Another new grand prix looks set to join the F1 calendar with Bernie Ecclestone confirming to Forbes.com he has done a deal for a race to be hosted in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, in 2016.

At the behest of Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull there is a 20-race limit on the F1 season and in order to make space for Azerbaijan that limit may need to be increased or an existing grand prix will have to get scrapped.

There’s 19 races on the calendar this year and the return of the Mexico City as a grand prix host will take us back to 20 races in 2015. There was supposed to be 20 races in the current season too, but the second failure of the Grand Prix of America in New Jersey left the door open for Mexico.

And on the New Jersey race Eccelstone has had this to say: “Somebody said to me the other day that New Jersey seem to have got their act together now and that they have got the money and are all in good shape. Whether or not that is true I don’t know. The soonest it could come on the calendar is 2016.”

[Source: Forbes | Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]

Mexican Grand Prix set to join 2015 F1 calendar

Nigel Mansell wins 1992 Mexican Grand Prix

After an absence of over 20 years the Mexican Grand Prix looks set to return next year. Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed he has signed a deal with race organisers and is subject to final negotiations, which may include finding a place on the ever bulging F1 calendar.

“I’m happy to announce we’ve concluded an agreement to have a race in 2015,” said Ecclestone. “Don’t miss this race!”

Tavo Hellmund, who helped establish the United States Grand Prix, has worked on the deal with Ecclestone and says it was a goal of his to bring F1 back to Mexico.

“Ever since Bernie and I began working on a race at Austin, it’s been a dream of mine to help Formula 1 return to Mexico,” said Hellmund. “This announcement has therefore been years in the making, but we’ve gradually been able to assemble all the right pieces. I’m absolutely delighted.”

The last Mexican Grand Prix was held in 1992 and was won by Nigel Mansell on the way to his only world drivers’ championship.

[Source: Formula1.com | Pic: Williams/LAT]

“Morally proper” to postpone 2014 Russian GP

Sochi Autodrom, July 2014

The official Sochi Autodrom website tells us there’s only 80 days until the Russian Grand Prix. Yet, one week on from the MH17 disaster, calls for the race to be cancelled are gathering momentum.

In addition to MH17 British-Russia relations are on high alert after a public inquiry into the death of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko was announced. Critics from the political and academic spheres are now speaking out.

David Davis, a Conservative MP and former Foreign Office minister is one outspoken critic calling for the Russian Grand Prix to be postponed.

“If Russia continues as they have been doing, then the grand prix is one of many things that they should be denied,” Davis declared. “The morally proper thing to do is put the race on hold.

“F1 already had a problem in the past with Bahrain. Whilst I’m not particularly in favour of cancelling sports events at the drop of a hat, I think that Formula 1 should reflect the global outrage. It would be an important and appropriate response to cancel the race.”

Sir Menzies Campbell, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, weighed in saying: “Public opinion all over the world will find it difficult to accept Mr Putin taking all the plaudits for this grand prix in Russia and, no doubt, presenting the prizes.”

Further, Dr Andrew Foxall, from the Russian Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society, a British-based think tank, added: “Formula 1 is not, and never has been, an organisation known for morality. There are a host of reasons why this race should not go ahead.”

Previously, and unsurprisingly, Bernie Ecclestone has stated he has no problems with the race going ahead.

“We shouldn’t speculate as to what could happen,” Ecclestone told Adam Cooper. “We will honour our contract. Mr Putin personally has been very supportive and very helpful, and we will do the same.”

[Source: The Telegraph | Pic: via twitter]

Auto Union to rule the world?

Auto Union logo

Suddenly last week’s story that the Volkswagen Group could rebrand itself as Auto Union now makes a lot more sense. Automotive News reports Volkswagen is considering a takeover of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). It’s a move that’s been largely interpreted as means for Ferdinand Piech to achieve his aim of making the Volkswagen Group the world’s largest automaker.

If the Volkswagen Group did add FCA to its portfolio of automotive brands that would take it well beyond the reach of Toyota and General Motors as the highest selling car maker on the planet. Volkswagen Group could claim 14 million annual sales, around four million ahead of Toyota and GM.

German publication Manager Magazin first broke the news that representatives from the Volkswagen Group and FCA boards have met to discuss Volkswagen’s buy-in, although both companies deny any discussions have taken place. It’s thought that Piech has approached the Agnelli-Elkann family to acquire its 30% stake in FCA.

Previously, Volkswagen sources have coveted the Alfa Romeo brand. Under the watch of Sergio Marchionne and through the FCA agreement Alfa is enjoying a resurgence. On the back of the 4C the brand has recently relaunched in the United States after an absence of almost 20 years.

Other major brands under the Fiat-Chrysler umbrella include Dodge, Ferrari, Jeep, Lancia and Maserati. The addition of Jeep to the Volkswagen Group would help it quench the world’s insatiable thirst for SUVs.

Clearly, there’s a long way to go for this deal to take place, if it ever will. It’s expected the 30% share in FCA would be valued between US$5–6 billion. As it happens Volkswagen Group has a lazy US$24–25 billion in cash reserves up its sleeve.

If this VW-Fiat-Chrysler deal goes ahead then rebranding the entire group as Auto Union makes absolute sense. The Auto Union changes may still go ahead irrespective of the FCA deal. Taking a big picture view, though, Auto Union becoming known as the world’s largest car maker sits perfectly with Piech’s grand plan.

[Source: Automotive News | Pic: Raoul Pop]

2015 Porsche 911 GT3 RS: No turbo for you?!

2015 Porsche 911 GT3 RS spied at the Nurburgring

A prototype 911 GT3 RS has been spied at the Nürburgring in recent days and judging by the fearsome sound of the car it is not turbocharged. There’s been speculation that Porsche would boost the 991-based RS in order to achieve the 500hp+ target pencilled in for the 3.8 litre flat six.

Porsche has also stated that the gap between the regular 911 GT3 and the RS model will be larger than it has been in the past. You can see signs of that already with the big side air intakes and other body work modifications. Just look at the size of that rear wing for starters!

Those side intakes would normally indicate a turbo, as in the 911 Turbo, but there’s no mistaking the rawness of the note coming from that test car. It sounds superb.

While this test car does sound like it has a PDK fitted there is talk, or hope at least, that the RS will be available with a traditional manual gearbox. Let’s hope Porsche comes good on that front, even if the longer term future of the manual ‘box is inevitably going to be a lost cause.

Of course, Porsche has had a minor hiccup with the engine in the GT3 and that has pushed back the launch of the GT3 RS. As far as we know there’s still no official launch date in mind for the RS. If the Frankfurt Motor Show in September is too soon, then Detroit in January will probably mark the car’s debut. It’s not too far away.

[Source: Bridge to Gantry]

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2014 German Grand Prix in pictures

2014 German Grand Prix

Winning your home grand prix would be pretty cool. We’ve seen it twice in two races now thanks to Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. Here’s your chance to relive Nico’s German Grand Prix win.

We’re only sorry we don’t have photos of Daniil Kvyat’s car on fire or Adrian Sutil doing donuts on the main straight while spinning out of the race.

As for choosing to keep the Safety Car in the garage and forcing the marshals to scamper out to retrieve Sutil’s abandoned car; that wouldn’t have had anything to do with protecting the German driver’s lead in the German Grand Prix would it?

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1,077 pieces of pure joy

Mini Cooper Lego

We think Lego and cars is a match made in heaven. Which is why we were so excited last month when we brought word of the coolest Lego product money can buy. And now, as its official 1 August release draws closer, MINI is getting in on the act with an official press statement and a set of images, which you can see below.

More images can be seen on Flickr. There’s a few videos after the break as well.

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