2014 Abu Dhabi GP: Lewis v Nico title fight

Lews Hamilton v Nico Rosberg, 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton enjoys a 17 point lead over Nico Rosberg heading into tonight’s final grand prix of the year. He is the favourite to win his the championship. But with double points on offer in Abu Dhabi Nico Rosberg needs to only finish fifth (20 points) to close the gap. Of course, if that is the case then Lewis would only need a P9 (4 points) result to deny Rosberg.

We thank Sky Sports F1 for the graphic above which shows in a simple format what each driver needs to do to win the title, based on Rosberg’s results.

[Pic: @SkySportsF1]

2014 Abu Dhabi GP qualifying report

2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg needs a lot to go right for him this weekend to wrest the world championship from the grasp of Lewis Hamilton and he started well by earning himself pole position for tonight’s race.

Rosberg’s time (1:40.480) was comfortably faster than Hamilton’s (1:40.866) who made a few minor mistakes. It would be easy to say the pressure is getting to Lewis and maybe it is, but if he can stay out of trouble and finish the race he should be celebrating his second world championship.

Valtteri Bottas (1:41.025) edged out a flying Felipe Massa (1:41.119) for P3 but as the image above shows, the only story in town is all about the Lewis v Nico title fight.

Qualifying in P5 and P6 were Red Bull teammates Daniel Ricciardo (1:41.267) and Sebastian Vettel (1:41.893) but they have both been disqualified for running an illegal front wing.

Speaking before the Stewards had disqualified him Ricciardo said: “I’m really happy with quali; we knew after FP3 we had a bit of work to do, but we knew when the sun went down the temperature would drop so we stayed optimistic that our set up would work better in the evening and we made some good changes for that.

“I was the happiest I have been all weekend during quali. We are fairly close to the Williams and not too far off at least one of the Mercs, so not a bad session.”

Daniel and Sebastian will start from the back of the grid and any points they can claim will be a bonus.

The top 10 was rounded out by Daniil Kvyat (1:41.908), Jenson Button (1:41.964), Kimi Raikonnen (1:42.236) and Fernando Alonso (1:42.866).

It will be all eyes on the front of the grid at the start of the grand prix. Lewis Hamilton needs third or better to guarantee his title win. Let’s hope we see an exciting and fair race.

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Spike Goddard to test with Force India

Spike Goddard

Young Australian driver Spike Goddard, Richard to his mum and dad, has scored a test with Force India in Abu Dhabi after this weekend’s championship deciding grand prix.

The 22-year-old started racing Formula Fords in Australia, before making the move to the United Kingdom in 2011. He won the British Formula 3 Rookie Class in 2012 and has spent the next two years racing in various Formula 3 championships. Naturally, he’s very excited to get his chance in the VJM07.

“I would like to thank Sahara Force India for this incredible opportunity,” Goddard said. “Every young racing driver dreams to be at the wheel of a Formula 1 car and I am very excited to be one of the very few who gets to fulfil this dream.

“The test is an important stage in the preparations for 2015 and I hope my contribution will be useful for the team to get a head start for next season.”

Goddard will be in the car on Wednesday 26 November, the second of the two day test program. Jolyon Palmer, the son of former British F1 driver Jonathan Palmer, will drive for Force India on the opening day.

“I’m pleased that we can conclude our season by giving two promising youngsters their first taste of Formula 1,” said Dr Vijay Mallya, Team Principal and Managing Director. “As a team we have a strong track record of identifying up-and-coming prospects and giving them valuable mileage and experience in our cars.

“I have been following Jolyon’s progress this season in GP2 and he is clearly a big talent that deserves a chance in Formula 1.

“Spike has also worked hard to get this chance and it’s the perfect opportunity to showcase his skills.

“I wish Jolyon and Spike all the best for a successful couple of days in Abu Dhabi.”

We have to confess to not knowing a lot about Goddard and it would seem to us his opportunity is one he’ll need to grab with both hands. We wish him well and hope we’re soon hearing a lot more about him.

[Pic: spikegoddard.com]

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Sebastian Vettel joins Ferrari on 3-year deal

Sebastian Vetel

In the most unsurprsing Formula 1 news you’ll read this week Sebastian Vettel has been signed by Ferrari on a three-year deal. He’ll start with them next year, sharing a garage with 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen.

“The next stage of my Formula 1 career will be spent with Scuderia Ferrari and for me that means the dream of a lifetime has come true,” said Sebastian Vettel. “When I was a kid, Michael Schumacher in the red car was my greatest idol and now it’s an incredible honour to finally get the chance to drive a Ferrari.

“I already got a small taste of what the Ferrari spirit means, when I took my first win at Monza in 2008, with an engine from the Prancing Horse built in Maranello.

“The Scuderia has a great tradition in this sport and I am extremely motivated to help the team get back to the top. I will put my heart and soul into making it happen.”

The movement of Vettel from Red Bull to Ferrari is great for F1 and the Sebastian–Kimi pairing will provide some great fodder for the F1 masses next year. Bring on the fireworks!

Ferrari’s full statement can be read below.

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Romain remains with Lotus

2014 Brazilian Grand Prix

Romain Grosjean has announced via his Facebook page that he will remain with Lotus F1 Team in 2015.

This season has been one of disappointment for Lotus. They were late to the pre-season party after suffering problems with the new Renault power unit and haven’t really recovered. Next year, though, Lotus will have Mercedes power and understandably this has Grosjean expecting better times ahead.

“I’m very pleased, happy and proud to be part of Lotus F1 Team for next year and excited at the prospect of being powered by the Mercedes engine which has looked so strong this year,” Grosjean on the Lotus F1 Team website. “The E23 should be a good step forward, building on all the lessons from 2014.

“I’ve spent a lot of time at the factory working with everyone, and the relationship I have with the team is very strong. We’ve had some good moments and tough ones and we always stay together, which makes it even more attractive for the future.”

No announcement has been made on who will partner Grosjean next season.

[Source: Lotus F1 Team]

2016 Jaguar AWD F-Type revealed

MY16 Jaguar AWD F-Type

Jaguar has revealed details for its MY16 F-Type range which includes the option of a new rear bias all-wheel drive system. Also attracting headlines is the arrival of the F-Type R convertible. And finally, if you want to keep your British roadster experience old skool and rear-wheel drive only, you can get yourself into a V6-powered F-Type S with a 6-speed manual transmission.

Full details on all of that can be accessed below, for now let’s focus on the all-wheel drive system.

“Under normal sub-limit driving conditions, 100 per cent of engine torque is sent to the rear axle,” reads the official press release. “When required, the electromechanically-actuated coupling in the transfer case enables smooth transfer of torque to the front axle—the process is virtually transparent to the driver.”

Any chance a manufacturer gets to own a new acronym is never wasted and the letters of the day for Jag’s all-wheel drive tech are IDD, which stands for Intelligent Driveline Dynamics. Developed in-house by Jaguar the IDD controller harnesses the capabilities of the rear diff, the torque vectoring by braking system and DSC to monitor the yaw rate, steering angle, wheel speed and directional acceleration sensors to optimise torque distribution.

IDD allows for increased parameters to be applied in the selectable driving modes: Normal, Rain and Dynamic. The net result being a greater difference in all three modes compared with the rear-wheel drive models.

There are subtle styling differences for the AWD models, too, although only trainspotters need apply. If that’s you then keep an eye out for a bigger bulge in the bonnet, new vents on the front quarter panels and the more obvious AWD badging at the rear of the car.

The F-Type has created enormous goodwill for Jaguar, thanks to its incredible good looks and generally positive driving experience. Let’s hope the addition of all-wheel drive enhances to this F-Type’s reputation, because lord knows we need more options than the default German marques for quality Euro sportscars.

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Jules Bianchi out of induced coma, remains critical

Jules Bianchi

The family of former Marussia driver Jules Bianchi, who was seriously injured at the Japanese Grand Prix, has confirmed he is no longer in an artifical coma. However, he remains unconscious and his condition is still critical.

“Jules is no longer in the artificial coma in which he was placed shortly after the accident, however he is still unconscious,” the family’s statement explained. “He is breathing unaided and his vital signs are stable, but his condition is still classified as ‘critical’. His treatment now enters a new phase concerned with the improvement of his brain function.”

Bianchi has been relocated from Japan to the university hospital in Nice so that he can be closer to his family.

“Jules’ neurological condition remains stable,” his family added. “Although the situation continues to be serious, and may remain so, it was decided that Jules was sufficiently stable to be repatriated to his native France.

“We are relieved, therefore, to confirm that Jules was transferred aeromedically last night from the Mie Prefectural General Medical Center in Yokkaichi, Japan, to Le Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice (CHU), where he arrived just a short time ago.

“Jules is now in the intensive care unit of Professors Raucoules and Ichai, where his care will also be monitored by Professor Paquis, Head of Neurosurgery Service.

“We are thankful that the next phase of Jules’ treatment can continue close to home, where he can be surrounded and supported by his wider family and friends.”

The Bianchi family thanked the hospital staff in Japan, in particular Doctors Kamei and Yamamichi, and Mr Ogura, saying Jules received “outstanding care” while in Yokkaichi.

[Source: Formula1.com]

2015 Porsche Cayman GT4 says hello

Porsche Cayman GT4 prototype

The Porsche Cayman GT4 has been spotted testing again. We can’t give you a lot of detail, other than to say this model will be to the Cayman range what the GT3 is to the 911 range. Interesting that it’ll wear a GT4 badge, though.

And actually, with the expected improvements to handling (revised suspension), peak power (360–400hp) and a few kilos (15–50kg) shaved off its overall weight this will probably be all the Porsche you’ll ever need.

Yes, of course, the 911 will always be the icon, but these Caymans are already very bloody good. Making it better still, in pure driving terms, well, colour us interested!

[Source: CarScoops | Pic: CarPix]

Kris Meeke keeps his job with Citroën

2014 Wales Rally GB

Put Kris Meeke in a rally car and you’ll soon learn he has raw pace. Consistency is where Meeke struggles and, of course, he’s partial to the odd spectacular crash. Yet, after his full WRC season in a top team he has progressed enough to keep his job. And that’s good news for the WRC, because as well as pace Meeke is great to watch.

“When we chose Kris Meeke for this season, we took a bit of a gamble,” said Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal. “But he has improved with pretty much every race and has now become a complete driver.

“The real turning point was at Rally Finland. He adopted the right approach. He has managed to acquire experience throughout the season. He has shown that he not only has real pace, but that he can be more patient sometimes as well.”

Meeke’s ability to perform well on numerous surfaces impresses his bosses and helped his cause. He scored podiums in Monte-Carlo, Argentina, Finland and France.

“This first full season has been spent learning about the WRC,” explained the 35-year-old Meeke. “In the second half of the year, I was able to show part of my potential.

“There’s room for improvement, but I now have some decent foundations to build on next year, in order to keep progressing.”

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Volkswagen Golf R wagon revealed

Volkswagen Golf R estate

Thank you Volkswagen. Thank you, for finally making a red hot version of the Golf wagon. This the the Golf R Variant, stuffed with the same 221kW/380Nm 2.0 litre four pot from the popular Golf R hatchback.

The cost of that practical 605 litres of cargo space (1620 litres with rear seats folded down) is just 0.2 seconds off the 0–100km/h time, which is quoted at a rapid 5.1 seconds. Full technical details are yet to be revealed but it seems as though the go fast estate will be available exclusively with a 6-speed DSG transmission.

Now on public display at the LA Auto Show there’s no word yet from Volkswagen Australia confirming the Golf R wagon will be offered for sale down under, but let’s hope that announcement is not too far away.

This is one seriously cool car!

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Thank you Mikko

Mikko Hirvonen,

Mikko Hirvonen retired from the WRC after Wales Rally GB. Via his personal YouTube channel he’s released this thank you video, which includes footage from his final rally and a few short interviews with his colleagues and competitors.

One of the nice guys is leaving one of world motorsport’s best most exhilarating categories. Let’s refelect for a moment and say thanks.

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VIDEO: Ken Block ‘Gymkhana Seven’

Ken Block, Gymkhana Seven

Ken Block goes all nuts about in a fully standert 1965 Ford Mustang on the streets of Los Angeles for his latest Gymkhana clip. Actually, on second thoughts, maybe that Mustang has had a few mods. After all, it is all-wheel drive and does have a fearsome 845 horsepower to play with. It even has its own name: The Hoonicorn.

The clip went live a few hours ago and it’s already racked up 2 million views!

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Caterham F1 Team ready for one last dance

2014 Singapore Grand Prix

“The Caterham F1 Team is delighted to announce that it will be racing at the final Formula 1 Grand Prix of the season in Abu Dhabi next week thanks to the support of the fans, who have helped the team raise enough money to make it possible through Crowdcube, the world’s leading investment crowdfunding platform.”

So reads an announcement on the Caterham F1 Team website. At least Bernie will be happy his F1 fans can afford to pay for an F1 team, even if its for one race only.

Caterham’s appearance in Abu Dhabi will be in contrast to the fact the team has made its 230 staff redundant. Apparently that move has been done with the staff’s blessing so that they may commence formal claims, assuming a buyer cannot be found. No wages have been paid at Caterham since 30 September.

Kamui Kobayashi will drive one of the cars in Abu Dhabi, but former teammate Marucs Ericsson, armed with the security of a job in 2015, has told Caterham to bugger off.

So, too, has Andre Lotterer, who drove for Caterham in Spa earlier this year.

That leaves reserve driver Roberto Mehri claiming the drive is his and he has a contract to prove it. Haha, kids these days.

Good luck to Caterham in Abu Dhabi. But really, what a mess!

[Source: Autosport]

2014 Wales Rally GB in pictures

2014 Wales Rally GB

Will you just look at all that bloody mud! It’s the signature look for the Wales Rally GB and, for once, being first on the road was a nice advantage for rally winner Sebastien Ogier who made the most of the wet conditions before the stages became too rutted and dug up by all the cars.

There’s some great photos below and we trust you will enjoy your last gallery of rally pics for 2014. Until Rallye Monte Carlo… if in doubt, flat out!

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