MINI is going to make a MINI again!

MINI Superleggera Vision

Good news, MINI is going to make a new model that isn’t an overbloated triumph of marketing over engineering.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the MINI brand, but in recent times BMW has found new ways to extract blood from its stone. But now, now, MINI is going to turn the Superleggera Vision into a production model and that really is good news.

Indeed, MINI itself has recognised it has pushed the friendship with consumers too far and out goes the still dumb enough to be cool Paceman and the poor selling Coupé and Roadster.

The new Superleggera will be based on conventional MINI architecture and will draw from its standard inventory of drivetrains. However, we’re assured the production model will maintain the cool factor and character of the show car you see above.

We like this news and the only drawback is having to wait until 2018 for the expected market launch.

[Source: Car]

Is it toys out of the cot time for Red Bull?

Christian Horner and Helmut Marko, Red Bull Racing

Red Bull Racing had a pretty ordinary time of it at the Australian Grand Prix. Daniel Ricciardo lost one of his four engines for the year during practice. Daniil Kvyat lunched a gearbox on the way to the starting grid and didn’t start the race.

Even junior outfit Toro Rosso suffered, with Max Verstappen forced into retirement with engine woes.

After previously having its own way for four years in succession the prospect of a second year with no world title is not pleasing the top brass at Red Bull Racing one little bit. In fact, you could say it’s tantrums all round. And the blame is being laid squarely at the feet of power unit supplier Renault.

“Across the four cars we’ve had two engine failures, one within five laps, and a whole bunch of driveability issues, so it’s not the start that Renault can afford to have,” Horner said.

“I think it masks so many things regarding corner entry, corner exit, degradation, slip control of the tyre,” Horner added. “You’re not able to drive the car properly. So you then start moving your brake balance around to try to compensate, so you are so far away from optimum. You start to lose temperature in brakes, and then the tyres aren’t working as they should. It’s a spiralling effect.”

Meanwhile, there’s conflicting views on the long-term interest in Formula 1 held by Red Bull’s owner Dietrich Mateschitz.

Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko is leading the charge there telling reporters in Melbourne: “We will evaluate the situation again [in the summer] as every year and look into costs and revenues.

“If we are totally dissatisfied we could contemplate an F1 exit.

“Yes, the danger is there that Mr Mateschitz loses his passion for F1.”

Predictably, and coming back to Renault, it’s the power unit regulations that are the sore point for Marko.

“These power units are the wrong solution for F1, and we would say this even if [Red Bull supplier] Renault were in the lead,” he claimed.

“The technical rules are not understandable, much too complicated, and too expensive.”

However, Cristian Horner denies a Red Bull departure is on the cards and he attempted to hose down rumours that Audi is willing to buy out Red Bull and, crucially, that Mateschitz is willing to sell.

“You’re wide of the mark. There’s been statements from Dietrich to clarify that, It’s a non-issue,” Christian Horner told F1 reporter Adam Cooper.

There’s also talk that Renault might want to have its own factory team again, with Toro Rosso being the most likely match.

And all of this simply because Mercedes AMG has cleared the pack once again. Where was Mercedes when Red Bull was dominating and were they whinging and carrying on like pork chops that it just wasn’t fair?

Dominance in any sport, in particular in Formula 1, is cyclical. If Red Bull is prepared to stick around it has shown it has the capacity to reach the top.

It’s one thing to achieve success once. But coming back to succeed again after losing that dominance, that takes true courage and determination. And that’s how legends like Ferrari, McLaren and Williams have been made.

[Source: Autosport & Adam Cooper]

Lewis Hamilton wins 2015 Australian Grand Prix

2015 Australian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton has made a perfect start to his world championship title defence with a seemingly easy win at Albert Park yesterday.

It was a funny week for Formula 1, with the Giedo van der Garde v Sauber saga dominating headlines, the return and then no show of Manor, Valtteri Bottas’ injury withdrawal and the failure of Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat to start after their cars died on the out lap before the race.

Only 13 cars started the grand prix and it seems a miracle that 11 of them finished. The expectations were that more cars would run into reliability problems.

In the end Hamilton defeated his teammate Nico Rosberg by 1.3 seconds. You sense Hamilton would have been able to hold off Rosberg if a serious challenge for lead was mounted. It wasn’t.

Sebastian Vettel claimed the final podium step in his Ferrari debut, a few seconds ahead of Felipe Massa.

The real winners, though, were Sauber who had their two preferred drivers finish strongly. Felipe Nasr marked his F1 debut with a fifth place and Marcus Ericsson came home eighth. Last year Sauber didn’t manage a single championship point, now they have 14 after just one race. Who knows what the courts will dictate for them in Malaysia and beyond, but after a terrible week that’s one team party that would have been a blast last night.

The Toro Rosso kids had a fun time with the grown ups too. Sadly for Max Verstappen he was forced to retire, but Carlos Sainz finished in a credible ninth place.

Jenson Button did finish the race in his McLaren. But he was stone motherless last, two laps off the pace, and the only finisher who didn’t score a championship point. It was valuable testing time for the struggling McLaren-Honda outfit.

It’s easy to tell how boring this race was when the highlight was the post-race podium interviews conducted by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yes, that Arnold Schwarzenegger!

I had a shiver of horror go down my spine when Arnie was announced for fear that this interview would end in high farce. Fair dues to the Hollywood icon because either he has a clue or is a genuinely good actor and thankfully he handled the role well.

So, who knew Arnie was a Formula 1 fan!

There will be more exciting times ahead in this 2015 F1 season, but save from the sunny weather and mostly clean racing this was as dull as it gets for a season opener.

Well done Lewis, well done Nico, well done Mercedes, you were just too damn good.

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Have you heard of Arthur Schening?

Porsche 911 S by Arthur Schening

Arthur Schening is a graphic designer, so we already know he is a cool guy. All designers are cool, aren’t we? Anyway, Schening ups the cool factor by some margin by creating these stylish illustrations of some very cool historic racing cars.

Thanks to Ferdinand Magazine for bringing these wonderful artworks to our attention and thanks to PayPal for the transaction I’m about to make.

Yep, that’s right, you can buy prints from Schening, and these three selected samples are just the tip of his automotive iceberg. Visit the Schening Creative website to see his full portfolio.

[Source: Ferdinand Magazine]

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VIDEO: Ott Tanak’s Rally Mexico crash

Ott Tanak, 2015 Rally Mexico

If you haven’t yet seen Ott Tanak’s crash from Rally Mexico then put your floaties on and get ready to get wet!

The 27-year-old Estonian crashed out on SS03 and the off itself wasn’t so spectacular, it was only after he had gently rolled into the water that things became dramatic. It was actually a bit scary there for a moment: could Tanak and co-driver Raigo Molder escape their stricken Fiesta?

Thankfully they did, both men getting to the safety of dry land without too much fuss. Molder even had the presence of mind to grab his pace notes.

If you’re an Autosport+ subscriber there’s some interesting post-rally analysis on Tanak’s crash. David Evans laments that the crash attracted world healdines, but the subsequent victory by Sebatsien Ogier barely rated a mention.

Further, Evans questions why it took 17 minutes to get FIVs on the scene. It took 12 minutes alone just to locate Tanak and Molder, as there were issues with their car’s tracking device.

The tale had almost remarkable ending. After spending nine hours in that lake the car was salvaged and brought back into service. M-Sport set about repairing the car and had three hours to do so. And they did, for a brief moment, get the car running.

Alas, shortly after leaving service the Fiesta stopped running, and despite the team’s best efforts Tanak was unable to resume.

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Sebastien Ogier wins 2015 Rally Mexico

Sebastien Ogier wins 2015 Rally Mexico

It’s time to dust off your sombrero and grab a Corona from the fridge because Sebastien Ogier has won Rally Mexico for the third year in a row.

Before the event the reigning world champion said it would be difficult to manage a podium finish due to regulations seeing him running first on the road, sweeping the dust and gravel aside for his following opponents. And yet, in the end, the Volkswagen ace won the event by almost 1 minute and 20 seconds from Citroën’s Mads Ostberg.

“Absolutely incredible! I am so happy and proud of this victory in Mexico,” Ogier said after his third win from three starts in 2015. “It is one of the best wins of my career. Julien and I had a perfect weekend, the Polo was fantastic, and the team did a magnificent job.

“We pushed like crazy from the word go in the cockpit, came up with the cleverest tyre selection on Friday—and were rewarded in the end.

“It is my third win in a row here. The Rally Mexico seems to be kind to me. And I love coming here. The route suits me, the countryside is fantastic, and the fans make the rally a great fiesta every year.”

Andreas Mikkelsen moved up to second in the championship standings thanks to his third place on a weekend where many front runners had problems.

Kris Meeke crashed out. Jari-Matti Latvala crashed out. And so did Thierry Neuville.

The most spectacular incident was when Ott Tanak gently rolled into a lake. That in itself wasn’t so bad, it was the sight of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC sinking and the subsequent footage of he and co-driver Raigo Molder swimming to safety that grabbed the headlines. We’ll have more on that later.

In the meantime Ogier now enjoys a 34 point lead in the drivers’ championship and appears well on the way to a third straight title. The WRC returns in mid-April for Rally Argentina.

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“We have to be strong, like Jules”

Jules Bianchi

Philippe Bianchi, father of Jules, has recently spoken to Italian media about his son’s condition. Unfortunately, and usurprisingly, it’s not terribly encouraging news.

“Jules is still in a coma. As long as he does not wake up, the only thing we can do is wait,” Philippe Bianchi told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“It takes patience, a lot of patience, but it is difficult to know that at any moment a terrible call could be coming from the hospital.

“We have to be strong, like Jules and for Jules.

“As long as he is in this state, the doctors cannot say anything. He might wake up or he might not.

“I think he will, as he has not fought with us this long for nothing.”

[Source: motorsport.com]

Manor F1 Team to line up in Melbourne

Manor F1 Team

The Manor F1 Team will pick up the pieces from Marussia and line up at the Australian Grand Prix this weekend. The team will run a modified MR03 chassis, upgraded to 2015 spec, with a Ferrari power unit.

Will Stevens (23) will resume his duties following his development role with Marussia in 2014. He made his competition debut with Caterham in the final race of the year at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He will be joined by F1 rookie Roberto Merhi (23) who has a deal for the “opening races” of the season. Both have achieved success in junior formulae, including Formula Renault 3.5.

Stevens will race with #28, while Merhi will use #98.

Jordan King, son of Manor F1 Team chairman Justin King, will take on the role of reserve and development driver.

[Source: Autosport]

Clarkson suspended, Top Gear temporarily off the air

Jeremy Clarkson

Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended by the BBC “following a fracas with a BBC producer” the media giant said in a short statement. The period of his suspension is unclear and the 54-year-old’s future may rest on the result of an internal investigation.

This weekend’s episode of Top Gear will not be broadcast and the Radio Times has declared the remaining three episodes of Series 22 will not go to air.

The Guardian reports, “the incident involved Clarkson throwing a punch at a male producer while filming in Surrey last week.”

Clarkson and controversy have been unhappy bedfellows throughout his career and it’s just under a year ago that he was given a final warning by the BBC after it was alleged he used the term “nigger” off air.

More after the break.

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I’m your boogie man

Daniel Ricciardo, 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix

This time next week we’ll be well and truly in Australian Grand Prix mode. To help get you ready for the forthcoming season, and with a local Aussie flavour, here’s a 13-minute highlights package from 2014 that’s all about Daniel Ricciardo.

Last season Dan made his mark on the world of F1. It was a big challenge to take on the well-entrenched four-time world champion on the other side of the garage at Red Bull. Not only did Ricciardo take Vettel on, he beat him handsomely.

Moreover, Daniel showed he has balls of steel when he is on a charge. He made overtaking moves stick that he had no right to make. And he did it cleanly. Ricciardo was a breath of fresh air in 2014 and his three race wins amidst a season-long Mercedes AMG domination shows he is a superstar in the making.

Let’s hope we see a lot more of Daniel soaked in champagne atop the podium in 2015 and beyond.

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Put up your hand if you’d like a Cayman GT4 RS

Porsche Cayman GT4

If you don’t love the Cayman GT4 you bloody well should. And if you love the Cayman GT4 then you sure as hell will get hot under the collar at talk of a GT4 RS model.

“This is just the beginning of the era,” Andreas Preuninger, Godfather of the Porsche GT program told Evo. “I would be interested in doing a Cayman GT4 RS version, but at the moment we didn’t even talk about such a thing. If the customers call for something like this we could think about it.

“We underestimated the success of the Cayman GT4, which shows that we were right with the concept. In England, within three days two years of cars were sold. It happened in Sweden, it happened in Germany…everywhere.”

Well, Andreas, who wouldn’t want a Cayman GT4 RS … make it happen brother!

[Source: Evo | Thanks to Tim for the tip]