Wednesday, 23 February 2011

New Future Weapon

*WARNING! This post does not include any references, so the author cannot and will not be willing to back up his argument. Now read.*

Cut to the chase. I have learnt that now diesels and biofuels are soon to be put on a moral blacklist, for they are harmful to the ozone layer. Oh, dear.

My opinion: ethanol is a direct terrorist attack against humanity. You could argue and come up with EU normatives, fact is, people always found ways to use biomass in agriculture instead of burning it for no reason. It's just not right to use soil to grow fuel on it. Topic closed.

Diesels? Huh. wonder how much emission is generated when producing petrol. As far as I know, petrol needs more refinement than diesel. So, combined with the absolute consumption of diesel and petrol cars,I believe they are even, not mentioning the price of diesel.

Electric? The most horrid of all. No, I don't want to think into how much pollution is emitted while making the batteries.

So what are we left with?

Downhill gravity drift, drag, rally racing with cars? I fancy that.

Pedal NASCAR? A bit tiring.

Hill climb pushing? Not a chance.

Painting car empty car bodies green, claiming it the way of the future? Absolutely.

Ladies and gentlemen, the car is dead.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Not Quite Told Story of The First Hungarian Grand Prix

1986 was a great year in Formula 1's history. As a breakthrough of F1 media campaign, Hungary is to organise the first Grand Prix race behind the iron curtain. Not the first GP in the country, though...

1936. Hungary's straight headed to WWII. After a horrific loss of territory and dignity in WWI, Hungary is making alliances with Nazi Germany and fascist Italy in seek for revenge. Zeppelins cruise in the skies, the propaganda is getting stronger and stronger.

As a part of this propaganda, a Grand Prix race is getting organised for the people to see all the legendary racing drivers of the time and their cars. On June 21st, the audience is to witness the battle between such racers as Bernd Royemeser, Tazio Nuvolari, and even the Romanian Petre Cristea is allegedly among the entrants with the same specially built and tuned Ford V8 with which he participated on the Monte Carlo Rally earlier.

The circuit is set in Népliget ('people's park').

Beautiful backdrops, spectacular city at the time and bad advertisement (the church on the image below is in Szeged, not Budapest - photo from imageshack).

Dennis Davis describes the event as:
In the previous year the cars from Mercedes-Benz dominated the Grand Prix scene and captured nine of the eleven major events they entered. These victories included the Monaco, French, Belgian and Swiss Grands Prix and resulted in the crowning of the original regenmeister (rainmaster), Rudolf Caracciola as European Champion. Of their losses last year, none was more painful than Tazio Nuvolari’s legendary victory in the German Grand Prix driving a Scuderia Ferrari entered Alfa Romeo.
(photo credit:
The starting grid looked so:

Auto Union

Auto Union

Alfa Romeo


Auto Union



Alfa Romeo

L Hartmann

A Dobson
Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo

The flag dropped and Rosemeyer surged into the lead, followed by von Brauchitsch, Caracciola and Nuvolari. Caracciola then stole the lead and held it for the next 16 laps before he was forced to retire with engine failure.
While von Brauchitsch and Nuvolari were involved in a war of nerves Rosemeyer who had started behind the leading pack assumed the lead. Von Brauchitsch never the calmest driver in the field began to wilt under the pressure exerted by the Italian. Coming into a corner too fast only to spin out, von Brauchitsch was narrowly missed by the Alfa Romeo. It was now just after half distance and Nuvolari had his eyes set on the race leader Rosemeyer. Each earlier call for his retirement would now serve to fuel Nuvolari’s efforts. Slowly he reeled in his young rival and on the 33rd lap Nuvolari made his move and passed the Auto Union for the lead. Nuvolari continued to extend his lead until the end thereby avenging his defeat of one week ago. Von Brauchitsch, the last Mercedes still in the race spun again two laps from the finish and suffered terminal damage to his car. Alfred Neubauer, the Mercedes team manager flung down his control flags in disgust. 

Finishing results:
1. 24 Tazio Nuvolari Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo 8C-35 3.8 S-8 50 2h14m03.5s =
2. 16 Bernd Rosemeyer Auto Union AG Auto Union C 6.0 V-16 50 + 14.2
3. 14 Achille Varzi Auto Union AG Auto Union C 6.0 V-16 48
4. 28 Mario Tadini Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo 8C-35 3.8 S-8 47
5. 12 H. Stuck / /E. von Delius Auto Union AG Auto Union C 6.0 V-16 46
6. 4 Austin Dobson A. Dobson Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 3.2 S-8 45
7. 10 László Hartmann L. Hartmann Maserati 8CM 3.0 S-8 44
DNF 22 Manfred von Brauchitsch Daimler-Benz AG Mercedes-Benz W25K 4.7 S-8 40 crash
DNF 6 Charles Martin C. Martin Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 2.9 S-8 32 rear axle 35 laps?
DNF 18 Rudolf Caracciola Daimler-Benz AG Mercedes-Benz W25K 4.7 S-8 26 engine (crash?)
DNF 20 Louis Chiron Daimler-Benz AG Mercedes-Benz W25K 4.7 S-8 19 engine/supercharger

50 years later a new race was organised under new rules, new circumstances, at a new place. The former track is still available to the public partly in car traffic use, partly as a recreational green area. 2011 sees the 75th anniversary of that legendary race and the 26th Grand Prix of Hungary.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Top 10+1 Supercars Ever Made

The author of this article has never driven any of these cars and most probably never will. Moreover he has not even seen most of them live. Selection and rank ordering are highly biased, though a huge amount of compromise have been attempted to be involved. Spit and swear at your own risk.

Choosing the best supercars in the world is just a bit easier than choosing one of your kids not to die on a war field. You won't be forced into such situation with a great chance, but if you were, what would be your reasoning to save one of them?

Is it the one you love the most?

Is it the one you would spare for the future?

Is it the one you love the least so you can practice grace?

Is it the one you think is the fittest to survive, hence the ultimate son to show around?

These are just some of the many questions that would pop. The answer is in fact somewhere in-between all of these at the same time. I just love some of the cars, almost without no reason. Some of them are a bit of underdogs. Some of them are obvious, proud choices. And some of them are die-hard, hence successful wannabes.

Let's crank up our ordinals, shall we?

Here we go.

10. Porsche GT3 RS
The 911 has been with us since the dawn of supercars, and it hasn't changed a bit, it just stayed forever young. The most characteristic features have stayed and got perfected. I mean even Skoda dropped the rear-engine, RWD layout over two decades ago, the new Beetle got a front engine, FWD setup. Porsche, an ultimate supercar, has stuck with their initial, but long time outdated concept. It is widely argued that German cars are over-engineered, lack soul, but not this one. The 911 arrives with this design handicap, struggling to be perfect. And that makes it more human, more tangible than any other German sports car. Why the GT3 RS? The GT RS-versions still retain the purity the first 911s had with the performance. There was a contemplation whether to choose the GT2 RS, but turbocharging this car is a bit like racing an almost perfect swimmer in the now-banned Olympic swimsuit with the other ones not wearing it. It just doesn't feel right. So here it is.

9. Lancia Delta S4
I know - it should have been the Stratos or the 037 at least. That's why I simply didn't go for them. The Stratos is being remade and the 037 was just too beautiful to look at. This, and the unfortunate timing - arriving at the very end of the Group B era - along with the super-successful successor Group A Integrale it almost vanishes from common remembrance. The problem is, it was the best Lancia ever made, and the ultimate Group B car at the same time. Thinking back to the Group B era, the Audi Quattro would pop in as a first image, followed by the Peugeot 205 T16 and the Lancia 037. Let's make a brief timeline here: Audi starts to fight with 4-wheel drive and turbocharging. Renault takes a radical step with the R5 Turbo by putting the engine in the rear, making it a turbocharged, mid-engine RWD car. Enter Lancia, introduces supercharging with its mid-engine RWD layout. Wins WRC, a two-wheel drive car for the last time. Peugeot entwines the Renault and the Quattro idea with the 205 T16: mid-engine, turbocharged 4WD car. Lancia comes once again, finishing off the concept of every Group B cars, adding their own spice: mid-engine, turbocharged AND  supercharged 4WD car. There is no way you can top this. If Group B was the ultimate class in rallying and the S4 was the ultimate Group B car, then Lancia's monster IS the best rally car ever made that no one seems to remember. So I give it another chance.

8. Lamborghini Countach
Obvoius question: why not the Miura? Simple answer: more of a classic than a super car. Lamborghini laid down the basis for every future supercars imaginable with the Countach. Its picture was put on every little boy's wall, its silhouette was put down in every maths notebook. The pushed ahead cockpit for the monstrous engine behind and scissor doors has been an inspiration for everyone attending industrial design school and petrol heads since then. There is no argument in this. You just have to have a look at it. Speaks for itself. The poster boy that rips your head off by surprise.

7. Honda NSX
The case of Japanese sports cars are very similar to the argument I gave at the Porsche. They are too perfect, too much functional and sometimes too boring to look at. This is the case with the NSX as well. It has the handicap of limited power due to a gentlemen's agreement between Japanese manufacturers. So they gave it everything to make it faster around the track. Perfect layout, perfect balance, perfect ride, perfect drive. It was all perfect in every means. The extra ingredient that makes it to appear on the list is one person: Ayrton Senna himself. The NSX was born in an age and in collaboration of Formula One's true legend in the making. The turbocharged McLaren Honda may not be the most legendary car in F1, but the most successful. And according to figures, Aytron Senna was not the most successful driver in the world (mostly due to his tragic death), but simply the best. The NSX was made in the spirit of Ayrton Senna. It had to be a most successful car in order for us to be the best drivers around the track. With Ayrton's approval. That makes the NSX different to the other perfect Japanese sports cars.

6. Ford GT
The Ford GT comes from one very simple, but brilliant idea: take a legendary racing car, copy it, and put it on the road. American cars struggle to get into the high class of supercars, but the GT nails it perfectly. The Corvette arrives from a too much of a street racing, tyre-burning background, and the Viper is just too raw and impertinent to qualify. Ford simply took its Le Mans champion car from a legendary age of endurance racing, the GT40, scaled up a bit to be a bit more consumer-friendly for normal-sized people, and left the rest of it untouched in their basics. There is no trickery or rocket science here. It is a demand-satisfying vehicle. Supercars being told pure and simple.

5. Lotus Esprit
I just love Lotus cars. Their philosophy behind their engineering is just so purem simple and attractive that cannot be passed by without a note. Lotus is the true hot rod company in racing. They let everyone else produce parts, choose the best of them, put a car together and throw out everything that would make it just a hint slower and then some. They add their own engineering experience from F1 and release the car almost as it is. The model that stood up for supercar standards the longest, was the Esprit. James Bond drove it too, and the basics of the car is just timeless. You would feel a little embarrassed to park an Elise near Ferraris, you wouldn't if you lined up with an Esprit. Cunning engineering, design and cheeky philosophy and its pop-cultural impact make it an awesome supercar worthy to be on the list.

4. Bugatti Veyron
An engineering miracle. Volkswagen at its best. Make no mistake, there is very little Bugatti in that car. Sure, it pays homage to the legendary maker every way possible and lavish exclusivity just radiates from its every part. But in the heart, it's cold, precise engineering. I cannot decide whether it has soul in its true sense. But there is just an unmistakable presence. Massive power, cold-blooded marching through space and time. It trespasses every figures, every single automotive achievement. Germany has taken over France building the 4th Reich, planning to take over the motoring world. Fearful machinery, coming from Bernd Rosemeyer's legacy.

3. Pagani Huayra
Yes, the car has not been out yet. But I believe we can trust it. A trust that it will be even better than the Zonda. The Zonda is a homage to Juan Manuel Fangio and the Sauber Mercedes C9. two legends from very different eras. Its V12 turbocharged engine comes from the endurance racer design and the whole mechanics and layout resembles the Group C racer. But again, in the same spirit as the Honda NSX, another real F1 legend is the inspiration behind it, summing up the legacy of the Argentine Fangio and the silver arrow Benz cars he was driving. Pagani takes it even one step further with the Huayra. Faster, better-looking and more exclusive. The best German supercar the Italians build. A mythical, unicorn car full of soul, merging two legends into one. Too large for life.

2. Ferrari 288 GTO Evoluzione
I have never made a secret about my affection to the Ferrari 288 Evoluzione. Almost any other Ferraris could be put on this list. In fact, all 10+1 positions could be held by Ferraris. But there is a special place in my heart for the Evoluzione. To make it short, it is the link between the best two worlds of Ferrari. It connects its most legendary breeds - the GTO and the F-cars. Coming from road racing, the GTO was and is an ultimate choice and pedigree for the task. The 250 may easily be the most exclusive car in the world, while the 288 is almost surely the most beautiful Ferrari. The Evoluzione is the missing link between the 288 and the F40. The F-cars were the Group B and F1 successor jaw-dropping track racing cars no other maker could match. Think of the Enzo FXX Evoluzione as the latest and supreme racing car from Ferrari. The DNA clearly came from 288 Evo, the latter still retaining its road-racing legacy. In one sentence, the 288 GTO Evoluzione sums up Ferrari's best moments. The car may have not turned out to be good looking. I even dare to say that it is ugly. But ugly in a beautiful way. Because it is Ferrari in the making. And creation is beautiful.

1. McLaren F1
You may have guessed it already. And you could come up with important argument points why it shouldn't be no. 1. The reason for it being supreme above everything else is quite clear, though. No other road car has come closest from Formula 1 as this one. And since Formula 1 is the ultimate form and pedigree of automobile racing and engineering, there is no argument left. I might have put something else on the top of my own list, but I just couldn't get around facts. The Veyron may be faster, yes. But it feels more like you're commanding WWII rather simply driving a fast car. The McLaren is the closest to F1 experience as you can get, straight from an F1 maker. Everything from the driver's position to the layout and the characteristics of the car screams its origin. And that root is good. The best.

+1. Brabus EV12 'Black Baron'
Without almost any sense, I almost dare to say it: the Black Baron is one of the best supercars ever made. Brabus takes the muscle car philosophy and applies it on saloons in creating supercars. It shares the engine with the Paganis, though Brabus replaced almost everything in it. It has got a top speed higher than a Zonda or a Huayra. In fact, with it's estimated top speed of 370km/h it is quite close to the Veyron's, making it the fastest saloon ever built. Just think of it: A Veyron-fast car with four doors and a proper-sized boot and all the luxury you can imagine. It does everything. You can take prime ministers and their wives along with with their luggage to their hotel from the airport, get on the Autobahn, hunt down Zondas and then go home taking the kids from school. This all for half the price of the above mentioned supercars. And there is the hideous rear-wheel cover. It is at least as bonker as the scissor doors of the Countach, making that extra strangeness necessary for supercars. In my view, it is a true supercar. But it's just too good to be on the list.

Would you argue? Do it here or on my Twitter account.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Solitude of an Endurance Driver

Left-hander. Keep it tight... right, now full-on. So what is with Anita? Break, heavy on it. Into the chichane. Accelerate gently. How come we haven't met for a week. Right-hander, gently. Flashes and lights. Just like our relationship. Left without a word. Working on something really hard. Just like taking over this Audi. You wait for it, you work hard. You don't see it most of the time. But it's in front of you. Heavy brake, it is pulling to the left. Got to check it at the next pit stop. Something always goes wrong, however hard you try. You just can't do anything about it.

I am tired, I really am. Mulsanne. Got to rest a bit here.

Why do I have to think here anyway? Can I just watch? I can't see anything, either. I feel like closing my eyes now. Just a few laps more.

And what about the kids? Don't I deserve them, too? They are mine, too.

Taking over, chichane. Obsticles. Things of the past.

I wish this was a touring car race now, I wouldn't be thinking about anything else but racing. Into the right-hander, gently on the accelerator.

9 and a half hours remaining. Soon, getting my change. Can I just live a normal life after that? Can I? It may not make too much difference for me but I would just like to stop.

Right-hander, careful with the GT3. Overtaking, pushing it forward. Little understeer. Aproaching chichane...

Go on and on and on and on...

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Smokin', Drinkin' & Drivin' - Classic Liveries

I love classic and youngtimer racecars. The looks, the sound, the legend surrounding them makes a monument of speed. But definitely, it is the looks.

It is unlikely you'll see one in motion, except for YouTube clips. So you only remember the images you can find on the web, in old magazines, or as an assembly kit you can buy. Even if you don't know how fast they were going, whether they were first or last, you can clearly tell what is cool and what is not.

You simply make a decision on the looks of the car.

Not just classic silhouettes, but the paintjob, too. And paintjobs, liveries - which lacks functionality - can penetrate generations of models, developments, cars, motorbikes, boats, you name it. The only thing that is constant on a car. Something people can attach to.

Pure marketing.

Now, Renault got on business with Lotus and Lotus got on business with Renault, so that makes two Lotus Renault teams in this year's F1 competition. Long story, never mind.

Originally, both teams were to race in the classic JPS livery, but the "original" Lotus had to drop it and stick to last year's BRG and yellow design, which is even better, because now you can see two seperate generations of Lotii lapping the tracks.

The Ford Fiesta WRC is now sponsored by Castrol that partly flashbacks the old Group A age with the monstrous Toyota Celica and its successor, the Toyota Corolla.

Anyone ever playing SEGA Rally must remember the Celica's counterpart, the Lancia Delta Integrale with the Martini Racing colours. Martini Racing - truly penetrating time has been with Porsche in sportscar racing, with Lancias in Group 5, group B and Group A, most remembered on the 037, the Delta S4 the Integrale, Ford in WRC and with Ferrari in F1.

Another livery Lancia is famous for is Alitalia. The most remembered version of the Stratos, which later raced in Marlboro colours. Marlboro then went for F1 and made visual history with McLaren. Senna and McLaren Honda has been unseperable as they made history together, and it is the tobacco colours that puts the cherry on top of the cake. Senna went for Williams later with the Rothmans livery and died tragic death. Rothmans has made a legend, too, with the Porsche 959 in Dakar.

But let's return to Marlboro a bit as they continued in WRC with Mitsubishi. Very determining age as they competed with Subaru in the 555 livery. That blue basecolour has been unalinated fromSubaru since. Remember the BAR-Supertec? British-American Tobacco bought Tyrell Racing in order to make history with lots of cash. They wanted one of their cars in 555 and the other one in Lucky Strike livery. However, this went against F1 rules, saying that both cars must look identical except the numbers they are featuring. So they painted 555 on the right, Lucky Strike on the left. Even the clothes had to be changed to this version, so the whole team looked like a bunch of clowns. Eventually, 555 pulled out leaving Lucky Strike, entering Honda, exiting Lucky Strike, Entering Ross Brawn, exiting Honda, entering Mercedes, and ta-da, here we are with the classic Mercedes factory team for the first time since the 1955 Le Mans tragedy. The silver arrows having the reputation being plain, and they are silver, indeed, only with some Petronas.

Repsol Racing did a great fame with motorbikes and in WRC with the Ford Escorts, but we remember Fords the most in Gulf Oil colours. The GT40s, winning Le Mans, the Porsches, the copies since then.

How about Camel Lotus? No, let's just forget that one. Or how about Esso on Lancias? Sr STP on any car?

What's your addition to the list?

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Grand Turismo... again

Jeremy Clarkson happened to say in last Saturday's Top Gear that the 599 GTO was not a real GTO... and I disagree.

Not long ago I blogged about the car I consider the ultimate Ferrari. Not only it was a GTO, but a revised, upgraded, monstrous GTO, the 288 Evoluzione. It was as hardcore as a huge piece of granite covered in diamonds and almost as rare as one's choice of mothers. The problem is that it hardly lives up to GTO standards, or in other words, way too much over the top.

JC included the compliment that the 599 GTO was slower than the 458, too hardcore without traction control off, too much of a computer with it on.

I have been thinking about this in the past few days and I came to the conclusion that it was the 288 that was NOT a real GTO.

Before you kill me, I tell you why.

First, it's the layout. The 250 was a traditional FR layout with a N/A V12. Same with the 599, but not with the 288, which had a mid-fitted turbocharged V8.

The 250 was designed for road rallies, while the 288 was aimed at hardcore racing. It had all the GT-style interior, but with Group B regulations in mind. This would have made it a perfect track racing and asphalt super special rally car. Group B was folded and the car was left without a competition. But, as we saw it, the Evoluzione version and the successor F40 moved even further away from road rallying. The latter one showed what Ferrari could have been in Group B and started the tradition of the "F" cars. The evolution showed its real face - the F50 has become a Formula 1 car with a body... and it is as far from road racing as you can get by any means.

The Enzo and its variants just deepened the gap and there was no return.

So the GTO needed a fresh start. The 599 was a good starting point. Every mid-engined Ferrari since the company's Schumacher supremacy is encoded with F1 DNA. And that's a bit of no-no. No rocket science needed for road racing, just playing it plain and simple, in a more traditional way. Not outdated, but has that pedigree as it needs to be a pleasure car. It can afford a bit more flamboyance over lap times.

...and since GTO designation lost its true meaning, it should rely on tradition and the feel.

And that's what it exactly does.