Timo Bernhard laps the Circuit of the Americas

Timo Bernhard, Porsche 919 Hybrid

If you take a quick look inside the cabin of the Porsche 919 Hybrid it’s soon apparent that visibility may not be as good as you might expect. Those A-pillars are damn thick.

This dash-mounted video from inside the cabin doesn’t give you the driver’s eye view, but you still get an idea of the compromised sightlines faced while wrestling your way around the Circuit of the Americas in Austin.

Timo Bernhard is at the wheel, enjoy the ride!

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Check out the Porsche 919 Hybrid steering wheel

Porsche 919 steering wheel

Who doesn’t love a close up look at the steering wheel of a thoroughbred racecar! Here’s the wheel from the Porsche 919 Hybrid, there’s 24 buttons and six paddles in all, along with a multi-function display in the middle.

Two of the most important and most frequently used buttons are on the hand grips: the red button on the left is the let magic happen overtake button and releases the energy stored from the battery; the blue button is the get out of my way flashing light button, one press will flash the lights three times to warn slower cars ahead that the Porker is coming through.

The six paddle arrangement on the back is interesting, too. The two larger paddles in the middle are for gear changing, right for upshifts, left for downshifts. The lower paddles operate the clutch, both sides performing the same function. The top two paddles relate to the energy recovery system, the left side releases the boost and is a duplicate function of the red button from the front, the right side to commence manual energy recovery.

It always amazes how fiddly a modern steering wheel is on topline racecars and that under the pressure of competition drivers wearing thick gloves are able to operate all those buttons with accuracy and composure.

More photos and details from Porsche can be read after the break.

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For liberty, Fernando

2014 Italian Grand Prix

Departing Ferrari president Luca di Montzemolo has confirmed what we already knew, that Fernando Alonso will leave Ferrari at the end of the 2014 Formula 1 season.

Speaking on Italian television di Montezemolo said: “Fernando is leaving for two reasons.

“One, he wants another environment. Two, because he is an age when he cannot wait to win again.”

The 33-year-old dual world champion joined Ferrari in 2010 and came close to winning the title that year and again in 2012. In his time with the Scuderia he has constantly impressed with his ability to extract maximum performance from the oft sub-par machinery he has been given.

It’s expected that Alonso will drive for McLaren in 2015, with rumours suggesting he may have signed a deal directly with Honda. There’s also a chance that he may sit out for the year with an eye on a Mercedes seat in 2016. Although, Alonso has previously said it’s “probably not a big risk” that he won’t be in F1 next year.

McLaren it is then and you’d think Jenson Button, who will be 35 when the 2015 season begins, could be the man to make way.

Of course, the other well known secret in F1 is that Alonso will be replaced by Sebastian Vettel. We can expect an official statement from Maranello very soon it would appear.

Vettel’s contract with Red Bull Racing expires five days after the final race, which therefore includes the post-season test in Bahrain. Red Bull will hold Vettel to the terms of his contract, denying him an opportunity to test with Ferrari before the year is out.

[Source: BBC]

Marussia reacts to Bianchi crash allegations

2014 Japanese Grand Prix

Apparently there have been reports in the media hinting at negligence from both Jules Bianchi and the Marussia F1 Team in the immediate moments prior to Bianchi’s life-threatening crash.

The allegations are twofold, first that Bianchi did not slow down under the double waved yellow flags where Adrian Sutil’s car was being retrieved and secondly, that Marussia was urging Bianchi to keep going fast in order to keep the Caterham of Marcus Ericsson behind him.

As you might expect Marussia is upset at these claims and reacted by issuing an official statement which it hopes will set the record straight.

“The Marussia F1 Team is shocked and angered by these allegations,” the statement reads. “It is distressed to have to respond to deeply upsetting rumours and inaccuracies in respect of the circumstances of Jules’ accident. However, given that these allegations are entirely false, the team has no alternative but to address these.

“Regarding point 1, Jules did slow down under the double waved yellow flags. That is an irrefutable fact, as proven by the telemetry data, which the team has provided to the FIA.

“Regarding point 2, an audio copy of the full radio transmission between Jules and the team, and also a written transcript thereof, were provided to the FIA. It is quite clear from the transmission and the transcript that at no point during the period leading up to Jules’ accident did the team urge Jules to drive faster or make any comments suggesting that he should do so.”

Late last week Charlie Whiting, FIA F1 race director, gave a media briefing addressing Bianchi’s accident. He covered a number of topics, including the start time of the race, the use of the Safety Car, the actions of the flag marshals and more. Crucially, he also addressed the question of Bianchi’s speed during the double waved yellows.

“I know what speed he left the track at,” Whiting said. “A lot of cars came through the double waved yellow sector, not everyone slowed down as much.

“There were some that didn’t slow down much and some slowed down a lot—and I don’t think we need to go into the detail of how much he slowed down relative to the others.

“Suffice to say, we do have that data. He did slow down and it is a matter of degree.”

You can read Marussia’s full reaction after the break.

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2014 Russian Grand Prix in pictures

2014 Russian Grand Prix

The fun has come and gone from the Sochi sun and the Russian Grand Prix passed by without any idiot from the Formula 1 world threatening to “shirtfront” Putin. Which, in some ways, in just as bad as it would have been if some idiot did engage his mouth before his brain.

Anyway, enough of that, let’s just try and enjoy the images from the race. Hopefully, they’re not quite as dull as the on track action ended up.

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Shopping mall donuts F1 style

Carlos Sainz Jr drives a Red Bull RB7 inside Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi

Ever since I saw this as an eight-year-old kid I’ve wanted to drive a car inside a shopping mall. Any car would do, just the fun that wanton destruction would be still brings a smile to my face. But that dream has now been topped.

Sure, it’s little more than a cynical PR piece for a new blinged up shopping mall in the middle of a desert. But, a Formula 1 car through a shopping mall, give me some of that please!

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“Jules won’t give up”

Jules Bianchi

A little over a week from Jules Bianchi’s crash at the Japanese Grand Prix his father, Philippe, has spoken to Italian media about the condition of his son. Unfortunately, it’s not great reading.

In an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, Philippe Bianchi said: “Every time the telephone goes, we know it could be the hospital to tell us that Jules is dead.

“He will not give up, I’m sure of that. I can see it. I believe it.

“I speak to him. I know he can hear me.

“His doctors have told us that this is already a miracle, no-one has ever survived such a serious accident. But Jules won’t give up.”

The Bianchi family continues to be buoyed by support from outside and inside the F1 paddock, with several drivers making contact.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Philippe said. “It touched us very deeply. We thank every one of them. So many of them have been in touch, written to me; Alonso, Vergne, Massa have given strong messages.

“Hamilton wrote me a beautiful email in which he says that if there is anything he can do, he’s there. Rossi and Marquez from Moto GP too.”

Philippe Bianchi also touched on the similarities he now shares with the Schumacher family, where there is a pressure to update people on the condition of his son.

“I was very sad when he [Schumacher] got hurt,” Philippe said. “I kept wondering, like every one else ‘Why don’t they tell us more about how he is?’.

“But now I’m in the same position I understand. Everyone keeps asking me how Jules is but I can’t reply, there is no answer. It’s very serious but he’s stable.

“One day he seems a bit better, other days a bit worse. The doctors don’t say. The damage from the accident is very bad but we don’t know how it will evolve.

“Even with Schumacher it took months to come out of the coma. [FIA president] Jean Todt said he hopes Michael will one day be able to have a normal life. One day I hope we can say the same about Jules.

“It’s tough. In a week the life of this family has been destroyed. What are we doing here? Living a nightmare in a place very far from home.

“But when Jules gets a bit better we can transfer him, maybe to Tokyo and things will be a bit easier. But who knows when that will happen. If it will happen. We have no certainties, we just have to wait.”

A new official team statement regarding Jules Bianchi can be read after the break.

[Source: BBC | Pic: Marussia F1 Team]

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Chris Harris on Cars to launch on 12 November

991 Porsche 911 GT3

Chris Harris is one of our favourite car reviewers, and probably one of yours too. It’s not so much that he can hang the arse out of pretty much anything he drives, rather that he has an ability to describe the car he is driving and the sensations he is feeling better than pretty much anyone else.

He’s been on the motoring scene for a while now and while we suspect most of the AUSmotive audience has known of Chris for over a decade or more, he became an internet sensation through his videos for /Drive. Well, that’s about to change, as Chris himself states:

[I] will be offering even more access to my content through the next phase of Chris Harris on Cars, which will launch its new YouTube channel, free to air, November 12.

Harris, currently in Australia, has expanded on his future via his twitter feed:

– I’ve had the most wonderful time working on @drive. A great team, and some great shows. But It’s time to try something new.

– And huge thanks to those who supported the pay-wall. But I think I can just about make it work for free, and need to see if it works.

– Crucially, I’m staying involved with @drive on many current and future projects. But CHOC will move to a separate channel mid-november.

Something to watch out for! You can read more in Harris’ full statement, available in full after the break.

[Source: Chris Harris]

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McLaren P1 v Porsche 918 v Ducati 1199

McLaren P1 v Porsche 918 v Ducati 1199

Here’s a video shootout that’ll have you salivating. Autocar runs the fearsome McLaren P1 up against the amazing Porsche 918 Spyder. And for good measure they bring a Ducati 1199 along for a few laughs. Remember, it’s the superbike which gives its engine to the funky Volkswagen XL Sport.

Of course, there is a lot more to read from Autocar about the merits of these two hyperhybrids, including this bit:

Ultimately, the 918 handles, rides and steers like a big daddy version of every senior-level Porsche from the past 10 years, and that’s exactly how Porsche’s engineers wanted it to feel. Which is great, but…

The P1’s chassis, particularly its aerodynamic grip, really is something else again. At normal road speeds you rarely, if ever, notice what kind of sorcery is going on around you, because to get those wings to do their thing you need to be travelling at least somewhere close to three figures.

Naturally, Autocar wanted the LaFerrari to join in the fun too, but…

There was one simple reason for the absence of Ferrari’s rival hypercar here: Maranello was invited to provide a car for this test but declined. At the same time, Ferrari made it clear that were we to test a private example, we would not be invited back to Maranello any time soon.

[Source: Autocar]

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Does your PlayStation setup look like this?

SimXperience WTCC simulator

How real can a driving simulator get? This video showing the SimXperience Motion Simulator looks pretty convincing. Look at the way the seat moves around to match the inputs of the driver gamer at the wheel.

The effect of super imposing the footage of the simulator into the game itself also brings a new level of reality. We’re not saying this is perfect, but we’d like to try it out!

In case you were wondering the car is a BMW 320TC racing in a WTCC race at Suzuka, from Sector 3 Studios’ RaceRoom Racing Experience.

[Source: WTF1]

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VIDEO: Porsche 911 GT3 v Ferrari 458 Speciale

Porsche 911 GT3 v Ferrari 458 Speciale

Ben Barry from Car magazine has the enviable task of comparing the Porsche 911 GT3 against the Ferrari 458 Speciale. Both cars have so much personality, so much power, so much appeal. Wouldn’t a day behind the wheel of these two cars, on empty open roads, be a great day out!

As a self-confessed 911 GT3 fan it’s hard to see me ever picking anything else in my automotive dreams. But, you know, a 458 Speciale ain’t so bad!

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The BMW M2 and its 275kW power claims

F87 BMW M2 prototype

German publication Autobild predicts the new BMW M2 will boast 374PS (275kW). Further, the article also states maximum torque will be 520Nm.

This is inline with previous reports we’ve posted:

There’s been no change to the predicted power source, which means you can pencil in around 370–380PS (272–280kW) being offered from an N55B30T0 3.0 litre inline six cylinder turbo.

Autobild goes on to suggest the M2 will crack 100km/h in 4.3 seconds and will be priced from €56,500 for a base model with manual transmission, some €8500 more than an M235i.

[Source: Autobild via Bimmerpost | Pic: Bimmerpost | Thanks to John for the tip]

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2014 Russian GP: Post-race press conference

2014 Russian Grand Prix

So after Lewis’ procession to win the 2014 Russian Grand Prix maybe the post-race presser had some spark in it? Something to add a bit of life to the race. Well, don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo explains a little about his tyre performance and some of the challenges he faced in securing P7.

“Starting the race the tyre was already blistered, it had quite a bit from qualifying,” Daniel said. “So it wasn’t looking too healthy and the first stint made it worse; I could see it starting to come apart, so we had to pit quiet early.

“Then on the prime the tyre lasted well and we had good pace and could match Alonso, but couldn’t get past. Congrats to Mercedes—it’s been a dominant season by them, so hats off to them.”

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Lewis Hamilton wins 2014 Russian GP

2014 Russian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton has won the Russian Grand Prix and in doing so has helped the works Mercedes AMG team secure its first ever constructors’ world championship. It’s Hamilton’s ninth win of the season and the second time this year he has won four races in a row. He now has 31 career grands prix victories, which puts him equal with Nigel Mansell.

For all of that though it was a boring race. The only excitment was at the approach to Turn 2 on the opening lap when Nico Rosberg overtook Hamilton for the lead, but in doing so locked up his tyres so badly that he had to pit for new rubber at the end of the lap.

In an illustration of how lifeless this race was Rosberg was then able to complete the race on the tyres he had fitted at the start of Lap 2. That enabled him to claw back every position except the lead and claim yet another Mercedes AMG 1-2 for the year (nine in total so far this season).

Valtteri Bottas continued his good form to finish P3 and ensured the Silver Arrows didn’t have it all their own way by securing the fastest lap of the race on his final tour. Jenson Button came home fourth, ahead of his teammate Kevin Magnussen.

If you’re paying attention you’ll notice the first five cars were Mercedes-powered.

Fernando Alonso was the first non-Mercedes powered driver across the line, hanging on to keep his Ferrari ahead of the Red Bull pairing of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel. Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez rounded out the top 10.

With three races left, including the double points novelty at Bahrain, Lewis Hamilton has a 17 point lead over Rosberg and seems unstoppable for the drivers’ title. But as we all know, anything can happen in Formula 1 and it usually does.

Let’s hope that is the case, because after tonight’s Russian Grand Prix we need soemthing to wake us all up.

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