Sebastian Vettel to sit out USGP qualifying

2014 Japanese Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel expects to miss qualifying for the United States Grand Prix in Austin this weekend due to an enforced penalty for exceeding his allocation of five power units for the year.

“As far as I know, the plan is to use the opportunity to change, to have a sixth component of all the various components,” Vettel said. “Obviously for that as far as the regulations are concerned we have to start from the pitlane.”

As you can see the regulations make the prospect of participating in a pointless qualifying session pretty unattractive.

“For the weekend, our plan could be a little bit different in terms of how we approach practice and qualifying in particular,” Vettel explained. “Once you have to start from the pitlane your focus is not on qualifying because no matter what you do in qualifying it doesn’t matter because you still have to start from the pitlane.

“So that’s why in practice, largely, we will try to focus on the race.”

The grid is already down four cars thanks to the absence for Caterham and Marussia and the prospect of last year’s winner in Austin sitting out quali is not ideal. But as Vettel says, he doesn’t make the rules.

“I didn’t make the rules,” he said. “It’s a rule that is the same for everyone. But for the people come to watch the cars, to watch qualifying, it’s a very bad rule.”

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

How much does it cost to run a Formula 1 team?

2014 Singapore Grand Prix

With confirmation that we’ll only have 18 cars on the grid in Austin this weekend much of the chatter around Formula 1 has been to do with the costs of running a team. People are asking: is F1 in crisis?

Every time serious discussion about putting a cap on spending is raised one of the bigger teams, usually Ferrari or Red Bull, threatens to throw its toys out of the cot in disgust. Clearly, F1 doesn’t want to lose one (or more) of its biggest drawcards and we’re left with a perennial problem; the haves keep winning, which in itself is nothing new, but the have nots keep folding.

The introduction of new regulations this year hasn’t helped matters much. In a bid to highlght the issues at the back of the grid Caterham, Force India, Marussia and Sauber have written to FIA President and former Scuderia Ferrari boss, Jean Todt, saying teams now need around $120 million per year just to stay afloat.

Sauber, usually a team able to compete well with limited funds, hasn’t scored a championship point all year and is currently coming tenth out of 11 teams in the constructors’ title race.

The cost breakdown provided to Todt and revealed by Autosport is as follows:

ItemCost
Windtunnel/CFD facilities$18.5 million
Chassis production/manufacturing$20 million
Hybrid power system$28 million
Gearbox and hydraulics$5 million
Electronics$1.95 million
Fuel and lubricants$1.5 million
Tyres$1.8 million
Salaries (not including drivers)$20 million
IT$3 million
HR and professional services$1.5 million
Utilities and factory maintenance$2 million
Travel and trackside facilities$12 million
Freight$5 million
TOTAL$120.25 million

 

As well as driver salaries, other items not included in the above list are: building leases, hospitality, marketing and media. Obviously, teams like Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull are spending a lot more than that, while Caterham and Marussia are (or were) spending a lot less.

No form of motorsport, no matter how good it should be, is any good if teams can’t afford to race.

[Source: Autosport+]

Limited-run Audi R8 competition revealed

Audi R8 competition

Audi of America will be launching the limited-edition R8 competition at the LA Auto Show next month. Only 60 will be made with deliveries to commence in early 2015.

Powered by the well proven 5.2 litre V10, the 570hp (425kW) on tap and 7-speed S tronic transmission can propel the R8 competition to 60mph in 3.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 199mph. According to Audi that makes it the fastest road-going R8 they’ve ever made.

To help it look the part flashes of carbon fibre can be found around the cars still very appealing bodywork, including the iconic sideblades.

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2014 Rally Spain in pictures

2014 WRC Rally Rally-Spain

Rally Spain is the only mixed surface event on the WRC calendar. The opening day is on gravel, the remaining two days are on tarmac. It’s a huge test for the crews to work on the cars and make significant changes to setups during relatively short service stops. It’s also a big test for the drivers, who switch from cars with massive suspension travel and small brakes to firm riding track-day weapons with huge brakes.

The surface change played a key role in Sebastien Ogier’s victory, too, with teammate Jari-Matti Latvala struggling on day one, only to find his feet on the smooth tarmac roads in Catalunya. What was a lead of around 30 seconds after the first day was whittled back to a lead of 11 seconds by the rally’s end. Still, that was enough for Ogier to secure back-to-back world championships.

You’ll see from the images below that the dust on those gravel roads not only affected the outcome of the rally, but provided some truly spectacular images as well. Of note in Spain also, Ken Block took some time out from burning rubber to make one of his rare WRC appearances.

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Audi denies rumours of Formula 1 entry

Audi F1 livery by Tim Holmes Design

Recent rumours have suggested Audi is planning to ditch both its dominant Le Mans/WEC program and its DTM participation in favour of a high-profile entry to Formula 1 in 2016. Audi Sport has used its Facebook page to scupper any such talk:

Audi‬ in Formula 1? These rumors keep appearing with regularity since years. It’s pure speculation again this time and without any foundation. We are committed to the FIA WEC, DTM and GT racing. In 2015 we will add the Audi Sport TT Cup to our program

Earlier speculation has linked Fernando Alonso to an Audi F1 entry, largely on the back of Audi signing Stefano Domenicali, former Ferrari Team Principal.

Two things are clear: as long as the sun rises in the morning a rumour about a Volkswgaen Group company entering F1 won’t be far away and that livery above by Tim Holmes Design looks first class!

[Thanks to Costa for the tip]

Buy your own “Skyfall” Aston Martin DB5

Aston Martin DB5, Skyfall replica

The Aston Martin DB5 is sub zero cool in its own right, but its association with the James Bond franchise makes it one of the coolest cars money can buy.

And the good news is you can buy your very own Bond DB5 for just £28,000. Yes, that’s just a shade over AUD50,000. Even better it’s an exact replica of the classic DB5 featured in the most recent Bond flick, Skyfall. Of course this is the same as the car from Goldfinger, the film in which the DB5 made its first Bond appearance.

The catch? It’s a 1/3 scale model.

All of sudden 50 large is not looking so affordable any more. On the plus side the doors open and you can play with famous gadgets like the revolving number plates, pop-up rear shield and, yes, you can even play with the machine guns. Machine guns!

There’s only 100 of these replica models to be made, so get in quick!

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Marussia F1 Team goes into administration

2014 Russian Grand Prix

Perennial backmarkers Marussia have followed Caterham into the wilderness of financial administration and will definitely miss the next two F1 races in Austin and Sao Paulo.

The news comes after Bernie Ecclestone revealed that both Caterham and Marussia cars and freight would not be shipped for the United States Grand Prix this weekend and would also miss the Brazlian Grand Prix the next weekend.

“With the existing shareholder unable to provide the required level of funding, the (Marussia) senior management team has worked tirelessly to bring new investment to the team to secure its long term future, but regrettably has been unable to do so within the time available,” said Geoff Rowley from administrators FRP Advisory LLP.

“Therefore, they have been left with no alternative but to place the Company into administration.”

According to Rowley no job losses have occurred at this stage and the near 200 staff had been paid in full to the end of this month. However, Marussia longer term future appears bleak, with Rowley adding there was “a very limited window of opportunity” to secure the team’s racing future.

[Source: Reuters]

Top Gear captured filming in Australia

Top Gear spotted filming in Australia

Finally, Top Gear has come to Australia to film a segment. At least that’s the conclusion to draw after Jeremy, James and Richard were spotted in the Northern Territory town of Katherine last week.

Presumably in the top end to take advantage of reintroduced and extended desrestricted roads, Clarkson was at the wheen of a BMW M6 Grand Coupe, Hammond had a Bentley Continental GT and May had to make do with a troublesome Nissan GT-R.

There’s also been sightings of a drag race at an airstrip in Batchelor, south of Darwin, and it’s understood the cast and crew are heading to Perth. A Darwin–Perth race perhaps?

Presumably the segment being filmed will feature in the upcoming Series 22 and if you’d like to see what else you can expect when the new series airs in early 2015 just take a peak after the jump.

[Pic: Emily Worrall | Thanks to Tiaan for the tip]

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Sebastien Ogier wins 2014 Rally Spain

2014 WRC Rally Spain

Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have wrapped up their second world rally championship after taking victory in Rally Spain yesterday. The French duo needed just one more point than Jari-Matti Latvala to defend their title and despite a relatively slender 11 second winning margin they always had Latvala’s measure.

“It’s a fantastic feeling to become world champion for a second time! I’m over the moon, it was a real battle to defend the title,” an excited Ogier said after his victory. “In particular, my team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala showed an incredibly strong performance in the last few months. Now Julien and I have a great sense of happiness and relief.

“Big thanks to our fantastic team at Volkswagen. Not just for giving us a fantastic car throughout the season. But also for the unique solidarity that we have. It doesn’t matter whether things are going well or badly—the team stands by every driver crew and that is extremely motivating. I’m happy and proud to be part of this team. Today we will have a big world championship party, that much is clear!”

Rally Spain is run on a mix of gravel and tarmac and on the opening gravel stages Latvala struggled with his car and spent the rest of the rally chasing Ogier’s tail. The Finn did well to fight back and claim second place, he also claimed the fastest time in the power stage and three bonus championship points. Latvala is now 31 points behind Ogier and with just Wales Rally GB left to race and 28 points on offer he’ll have to make do with second once more.

Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen finished third in Spain, which leaves him fourth in the championship and the best placed non-Volkswagen driver. Hirvonen cannot catch Andreas Mikkelsen, who finished seventh, meaning Volkswagen drivers will finish the year 1-2-3 in the overall drivers’ standings.

Mads Ostberg was fourth in his Citroën ahead of Hyundai duo Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville. While Hyundai and Neuville are the only combination to take victory from Volkswagen this year, we must pray that Hyundai and the other teams can increase the pressure on Volkswagen’s title defence in 2015.

For now, though, well done to Ogier and Volkswagen for their unrelenting dominance.

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2014 6 Hours of Fuji in pictures

2014 6 Hours of Fuji

Toyota won its home round of the World Endurance Championship—the 6 Hours of Fuji—a couple of weeks back, leaving Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi with broad grins on their faces. It was a one-two finish for Toyota and Porsche filled the final podium spot with Mark Webber’s crew tasting the champagne.

We’ve had five of eight rounds in the WEC now and Audi still looks the goods for the overall championship. With three races in November we’ll have to be much sharper in getting these updates to you!

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McLaren P1 GTR continues development

McLaren P1 GTR

I want to buy a McLaren P1 GTR. And so do you!

How could you not? The car itself will be almost impossible to describe, so good and so fast will it be. But the whole driver programme that is attached to P1 GTR ownership is a boys’ own adventure on steroids.

There’s a video explaining it all after the break along with the first images of the car’s interior, including it’s MP4-23-inspired steering wheel.

The asking price is said to be over 3 mllion bucks, so you’d better start raiding that piggy bank!

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Caterham and Marussia to miss next two GPs

2014 Hungarian Grand Prix

Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that both Caterham and Marussia will not be at the United States Grand Prix in Austin next weekend.

News of Caterham’s absence was expected due to the teams current ownership spat. However, while it was known Marussia isn’t exactly flush with cash they were thought to be heading Stateside. Not any more.

“Neither of those two teams are going to go to America,” confirmed Ecclestone.

Freight for the teams was started its journey from Europe to the United States yesterday and is coordinated by Bernie’s Formula One Management group.

Caterham will miss the Brazilian Grand Prix as well, which will be held on the weekend after Austin, while the team searches for a buyer. For freight reasons alone Marussia won’t be in Sao Paulo either.

Meanwhile, the Sherrifs Office in the UK has been flogging parts via twitter in a bid to raise money to cover debts owed.

Finbarr O’Connell, Caterham’s administrator confirmed there is interest for the team, saying he spoke to, “10 to 15 serious interested parties on the phone today and we are speaking to all those and getting information together for them to examine.”

[Source: Reuters | Thanks to Dave for the tip]