Final word for FinalGear?

FinalGear.com take-down notice

FinalGear.com is the go to place on the internet for news on motoring shows Top Gear and Fifth Gear. That also means it has been a reliable source of information for viewers outside of the UK who want to watch new episodes as soon as possible after going to air. That information, of course, relates to illegal downloads.

FinalGear states that it “does not host any torrents or copyright infringing material” but it does provide links relating to such activities. Today, the website was issued a take-down notice from the UK’s Director Of Intelligence & Investigations Federation Against Copyright Theft which states in part:

BBC Worldwide Consumer Products, Soda Pictures has received information that the domain listed above, which appears to be on servers under your control, is offering unlicensed copies of, or is engaged in other unauthorized activities relating to copyrighted works owned by BBC Worldwide Consumer Products.

Further, the notice demands that any relevant links be removed:

We hereby give notice of these activities to you and request that you take expeditious action to remove or disable access to the material described above, and thereby prevent the unauthorized distribution of the work(s) via your companys network.

We expect the website, in particular its forums, will remain active. It’s just that people wanting to get their hands on the latest episodes of Top Gear might have to look elsewhere. Although, perhaps sufficient action is also being taken against whoever does host episodes for download in future that only officially sourced content may be available. If it’s actually possible to achieve such an aim.

[Source: FinalGear]

All F1 teams FRIC-off for German GP

2014 British Grand Prix

If you haven’t heard the term Front-and-Rear Interconnected Suspension before, otherwise known as FRIC, you’re going to be hearing all about it this weekend during the German Grand Prix.

In very basic terms FRIC systems do exactly as they say, they link the front and rear suspension with the aim of improving stability of the car, especially under heavy braking when the car will pitch forward shifting as much as 300kg of load towards the front wheels. This load transfer increases the work of the front tyres and also affects aerodynamics underneath the car, in turn making the rear wheels light and unstable.

FRIC systems have been around in some form for decades and are designed to counter the affects of load transfer. All the teams in F1 have been using the technology to varying degrees. However, after the British Grand Prix the FIA’s Charlie Whiting issued a technical directive which questioned the legality of FRIC technology used by some of the teams. Some, not all.

So, heading into the German Grand Prix we were facing a situation whereby protests could be the order of the day. Thankfully that crisis has been averted after all teams were found to have removed their FRIC systems for this weekend’s race.

In typical F1-style this move from the teams was not agreed to in a unified meeting, rather it was discovered at the completion of pre-race scrutineering. FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer, referring to all cars, said: “I can confirm that no car is fitted with a front to rear linked suspension systems of any sort.”

It’s believed FRIC can save up to 0.4s per lap, although Fernando Alonso isn’t too concerned about the impact of altering the suspension.

“It is a system that has been on F1 cars for some years now and there is not a big implication in terms of driving style or anything that can change the behaviour of the car,” he said. “It is like changing from soft to medium tyres.

“OK, you will go a little slower and some teams will adapt maybe a bit better but we will not see a Marussia on pole position or something like that. It is just a couple of tenths for everyone.”

Championship leader Nico Rosberg, hopeful of a win in his home race, is unsure how the car will be affected.

“Everybody has it [FRIC] to some extent,” Rosberg stated. “It’s impossible to predict. For sure it can have some influence but we just need to wait and see what happens.”

Sebastian Vettel is hopeful the removal of FRIC suspension will allow the teams to close the gap to Mercedes, but says it may take more than this weekend to find out.

“I hope it brings the field closer to Mercedes but it’s difficult to say,” Vettel said. “All of the teams have been playing with it to some extent. How much it has an impact? I think it has to be seen this weekend and also probably next week in Hungary. After those two races I think you can have another judgement.”

[Source: Autosport]

About a boy

Sebastian Vettel

Taking any opportunity to get stuck into Sebastian Vettel is something most Australians like to indulge in. Until this year we’ve been used to seeing young Seb toy with our Mark as the young charge did as he pleased with the best car on the grid.

So far 2014 has been a nightmare for Vettel. In addition to having a relatively poor car, where poor equals not streets ahead of the competition, Sebastian has had to deal with the arrival of another pesky Australian. This time, though, Vettel is in the senior role and Daniel Ricciardo is playing the part of precocious upstart.

And isn’t our Daniel playing that role well! In the intra-team battle Ricciardo is currently dominating Vettel in much the same way the German dominated Mark Webber in previous years. Not only has Daniel chalked up his first grand prix win, he’s allowed some of the more biased Aussie F1 fans (erm, that would be us, and probably you too) to take their Vettel schadenfreude to new levels.

So when we saw this article on the BBC website titled “Sebastian Vettel says Formula 1 can be ‘very cruel’” we were ready to laugh and poke fun at Seb.

Yet, when you read Vettel’s full quote in context it doesn’t seem to be a whinge at all, rather a statement of fact:

It’s been a tough start, a rough season so far. F1 can be fantastic, as I have experience of, but it can be very cruel in retiring from problems. You rely on your car. It is part of the game.

Keep reading and the article is pretty level headed stuff from the four-time world champion. And then you stumble across these words which Vettel says he reminds himself of from time to time and you realise, hey, maybe he’s not such an arsehole after all:

I have one quote I very often read to myself, from a very good friend: ‘Forget the people around you now; remember the little boy who was racing in go-karts, what you were dreaming of and what he wanted to achieve one day and what was his goal. Race for him.’

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

More curves than Scarlett Johansson

Ferrari 330 P4

And just as beautiful.

This is the Ferrari 330 P4. Petrolicious took on the enviable task of filming the car and having Nick Longhi, a Ferrari Corso Pilota instructor, tell us what it’s like to drive and a bit about the car’s history.

Crafted in 1967, the 330 P4 was built during the height of Enzo Ferrari’s battle for track supremacy with Ford. A grumpy Italian guy taking on the might of Henry Ford. Enzo wanted to win Le Mans with this car. He wasn’t able to do that—Ferrari’s last win at Le Mans was in 1965 with the 250LM—but the 330 P4 did claim an historic 1-2-3 finish at the 1967 Daytona 24 Hour.

Just like Scarlett, too, there’s only one of them in existence.

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Volkswagen Group tipped to rebrand as Auto Union

Auto Union badge

Here’s a rumour from GoAuto that has grabbed our interest, according to its report Volkswagen Group is considering a name change to Auto Union.

A possible theory for the change would be to establish a greater sense of independence for each of the brands under Volkswagen’s control, by removing the Volkswagen name from the umbrella company.

Volkswagen Group controls or owns outright the following marques: Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Ducati, Lamborghini, MAN, Porsche, Scania, Seat, Skoda, Volkswagen and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. In addition, the group is also the largest shareholder in Suzuki, with a 20% share.

Auto Union is not a new name in the motoring world and was the precursor to what we now know as Audi. Originally formed in 1932 and consisting of four companies—Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer—Auto Union was essentially dissolved by the Soviets after WWII.

However, soon after, in 1949, Auto Union came back to life building two-stroke DKWs. Daimler-Benz took a majority shareholding in 1958 and saw a return of the Auto Union brand and investment in the company’s Ingolstadt factory.

In 1964 Daimler-Benz began to offload its shares and later that year Volkswagen assumed control after it bought the rights to the Auto Union name and the Ingolstadt site. The Audi brand was revived in 1965 and remains as the sole survivor from those Auto Union days.

[Source: GoAuto | Pic: CarType/John Lloyd]

Restyled BMW 1 Series on sale early next year

BMW 1 Series LCI

Restyled front noses seem to be a thing right now with new sightings of the facelifted BMW 1 Series out on German roads. The ugly eyes of the M135i are perhaps its greatest weakness and it’s expected BMW will pretty much lift the more attractive 2 Series front-end and replicate it on the 1er.

It’s predicted we’ll see the finished article at the Detroit Auto Show in January with a sale launch to follow shortly thereafter.

[Source: Autocar]

New owners, new nose!

2014 Monaco Grand Prix

Word in the Formula 1 pit lane says Caterham’s new owners are about to give the ungainly looking CT05 a development push which will include the welcome task of redesigning the car’s ugly nose.

It’s said that previous owner Tony Fernandes limited the budget on development of this year’s car while he was trying to find a buyer for the team.

Media reports have suggested a restyled scale model featuring a “more efficient nose” is undergoing wind tunnel testing in Toyota’s facility at Cologne, Germany. Once the team is happy the new nose will have to undergo a formal FIA crash test. Assuming the new nose passes that test we could see the new and hopefully better looking CT05 in time for the Belgian Grand Prix (24 August).

Christian Albers, former F1 driver and now part of Caterham’s trackside management team, said: “We obviously have a lot of work to do, but we’re prepared for the challenges ahead.”

[Source: motorsport.com]

Formula E wraps up first official test

Nicolas Prost, e.dams Renault Formula E, Donington Park

The first Formula E race takes place in Beijing in just under two months (13 September) and last weekend we got our first taste of what a full grid of electric open wheel racecars will look and sound like.

Donington Park in the UK was the location for four days of testing and Sebastien Buemi from e.dams Renault team set the fastest lap. Just one more day of testing in mid-August remains before the championship kicks off in China.

After the break you’ll see a series of videos from the Donington test. Some of the names taking to the track are well known, with a host of former F1 drivers on the grid.

If the cars can actually handle the rigours of racing Formula E could be a very interesting series to follow. There will be a novelty factor to overcome, the cars do sound a bit daft, inasmuch as they don’t sound anything like a racing car in terms of what we know and understand. But that’s precisely what makes the potential of Formula E so great.

It could be awesome, or it could be a total flop!

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Porsche: The gift of life

Porsche 914

Long-term readers of AUSmotive will know of our love for the Porsche 914. It’s a bit daft and a bit ungainly, but that just makes it uniquely cool in our eyes. We reckon after you watch this video you might begin to like the 914 too.

Many years ago the guy above, named Dave, sold his 914 to fund his wedding. His step-daughter thought that was a nice thing to do and now that’s she’s old enough to say thank you in a more quantifiable way she went and bought a replacement 914 to give to her stepdad for Father’s day.

Awww, isn’t that nice.

[Source: Autoblog]

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Volkswagen gives new Scirocco R more power

Volkswagen Scirocco R

Volkswagen has released details for its updated Scirocco range. In Australia we only need to focus on the Scirocco R, pictured above with its refreshed styling.

For European markets, at least, the Scirocco R now has 206kW (280PS), up from 195kW in the previous model. Although, for Australia’s “hot climate” conditions the Scirocco R was detuned to 188kW. It’s unclear if we’ll see the full 206kW when the new Scirocco goes on sale here.

The most noticeable changes to the styling of the Scirocco R are with the headlights and tailights. Up front the new bi-xenon lights now include LED daytime running lights in the main cluster. The rear lights get the LED treatment as well.

In addition to those changes the front and rear bumper sections have been restyled with a more aggressive look. New Cadiz alloy wheels from the Golf R are fitted in 18″ as standard and can also be optioned in 19″ sizing.

The Scirocco R now has larger 17″ brakes as standard. Also included now is Volkswagen’s XDS diff lock, which aims to help keep the front wheels and their 206kW under control.

Inside it’s much the same as before, although slightly restyled, of course. The steering wheel from the Mk7 GTI has been used and there are now three auxiliary gauges atop the central dash. The boost gauge and oil temp will be the most welcome.

The new Scirocco goes on sale in Europe next month and the press release tells us Australia will follow “soon afterwards”.

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“I am a Ferrari F40 specialist”

Ferrari F40 in Italia Autosport garage

The title of this piece is a quote from a chap called John Pogson. He’s a mechanic (and a bit more) who owns Italia Autosport and, yes, he specialises in Ferrari F40s and most things from Maranello.

John’s quote above might sound like the words of an arrogant man who doesn’t offer his time lightly. Yet, in this Xcar film at least, he comes across as a humble bloke who just loves cars and happens to be good at what he does, either with a spanner or a steering wheel in his hand.

Then, just when you start to think this guy is a pretty cool dude, he goes and wheels out his 600hp AC Cobra!

[Thanks to John for the tip]

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Re-introducing the Porsche 718

Porsche 718 rendering

Porsche plans to introduce a sub-Boxster model called the 718 roadster and it will be on sale in 2016, according to various media outlets. We say “re-introducing” the 718 because those of you playing at home may recall there was a 718 open-top racecar back in the late 1950s. This time, though, we’re talking full production-spec road car.

Talk of a baby Boxster has been around for a few years now, with the predicted MiMo platform spawning models for Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen. It’s not clear if that will be the case for the 718, but we’re told it will be built using modified Boxster architecture with a sub-1200kg target weight. The wheelbase, for example, will be the same as the Boxster, although the 718 will have a completely new body with more compact dimensions.

In a bid to keep weight down the 718 will employ a manually operated canvas roof with a lightweight perspex rear window. Inside, too, the cabin will be sparse and feature minimal equipment.

The 718 will be powered by Porsche’s new four-cylinder engine range and is designed to compete with the likes of the Alfa Romeo 4C.

Porsche is being a bit sneaky with the 718 as well. Timed to be introduced around the same time as the Boxster/Cayman facelift the presence of a cheaper model will enable Porsche to push the Boxster/Cayman further upmarket. Which means more profits for them and dearer prices for us.

[Source: Automobile & Car]

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LaFerrari XX sounds bloody awesome and has magic bendy wheels

LaFerrari XX testing at Monza

The track-only version of the LaFerrari, the LaFerrari XX, was seen lapping Monza recently. Thankfully, YouTube user NM2255 was on hand to record the action.

We’re sure you’ll agree the LaFerarri XX sounds awesome. What you won’t expect to see is the car’s magic bendy wheels, as shown above. The remarkable thing is, when that rear wheel bends like that the driver just plants his right foot and powers away as if nothing ever happened.

You’ll get to see if for yourself a bit after the two minute mark in the video below.

[Thanks to Aaron for the tip]

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Life imitates art with Jaguar Virtual Windscreen

Jaguar Virtual Windcsreen

Jaguar Land Rover has revealed its Virtual Windcsreen concept which it says can help reduce driver distraction. The Jaguar Virtual Windscreen can also be used to aid performance driving on a racetrack, too, as the image above shows.

By using on screen graphics—yes, that’s right on the windscreen—the system shows you the optimum racing line, when you should be full throttle, when you should be braking and even when you should be applying partial throttle. In addition you get live telemetry and lap time info from your own car as well as data from your competitors.

Want to try and recreate your perfect lap? Then just load up the ghost car that has your best lap time stored away and follow the leader, as it were.

A video below shows the system in action. What the video doesn’t show is the system’s use of gesture control, in much the same way as smartphones operate. The aim here is to limit the necessity to look and feel for buttons and controls.

“We are working on research projects that will give the driver better information to enhance the driving experience,” said Dr Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology for Jaguar Land Rover. “By presenting the highest quality imagery possible, a driver need only look at a display once.

“Showing virtual images that allow the driver to accurately judge speed and distance will enable better decision-making and offer real benefits for every-day driving on the road, or the track.”

This system looks very interesting and the benefits are easy to see. Although, far from reducing driver distraction, at first, we think it could contribute to distraction until the driver becomes familiar with the screen display.

The Virtual Windscreen looks fine in the video, in a two-dimensional PlayStation-like situation, but when you’re sitting in the car, in a three-dimensional world, with real cars beside you, we think it might take some getting used to.

One thing is clear, we’d very much like to try this out for ourselves!

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