Motorsports: Race Recap: Abu Dhabi GP is reversals, luck, leanness and last dances

November 24th, 2014 by admin No comments »

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Graphic for the 2014 Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix.

We weren’t sure if Alter Ego Nico Rosberg, the one who flew into Brazil and showed Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Lewis Hamilton that he knew also knew how to grab an entire race weekend by the scruff of the neck, arrived in Abu Dhabi. In both Friday practice sessions Hamilton showed Rosberg the way.

Then on Saturday, Alter Ego Rosberg took over, taking the last Free Practice session and then pole position by a whopping four-tenths of a second over Hamilton. Thanks to the gimmicky and soon-to-be-obliterated spectre of double points, if Rosberg won the race and Hamilton finished lower than second, the World Championship would remain in German hands.

Behind Hamilton came the Williams duo, again, with Valtteri Bottas ahead of Felipe Massa. Daniil Kvyat did swell to put his Toro Rosso in fifth, Jenson Button was just as swell getting his McLaren into sixth. Kimi Räikkönen outqualified his Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso for the third time this year, the pair taking seventh and eighth on the grid. Kevin Magnussen lined the second McLaren up in ninth, Jean-Eric Vergne making the top ten for Toro Rosso in his last race for the team. To be clear, that was the final grid for race: Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel had both qualified in the top ten but were sent to the back of the grid when their Infiniti Red Bull Racing front wings were deemed illegal. They’d start from the pit lane, which was still ahead of Romain Grosjean in the Lotus, who took so many penalties for new engine components that he started the race in Turkey.

At lights-out on Sunday, well, it was pretty much lights out.

Continue reading Race Recap: Abu Dhabi GP is reversals, luck, leanness and last dances

Race Recap: Abu Dhabi GP is reversals, luck, leanness and last dances originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Mercedes-AMG planning more hardcore A45 hot hatch

November 24th, 2014 by admin No comments »

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Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG

The launch of the A45 AMG marked Mercedes-Benz’s first real assault on the premium hot hatch segment. And with 355 horsepower from a 2.0-liter turbo four, it is indeed hot. But the latest word has it that Mercedes-AMG is planning an even hotter version.

Speaking with Auto Express at the LA Auto Show last week, AMG boss Tobias Moers indicated that his department was toying with the idea of a more hardcore version of the A45. In what Moers referred to as a “street fighter,” the A45’s engine would be tuned to produce even more power, the cabin stripped out and the rolling stock, brakes and aero upgraded for more serious performance.

Think of it, then, as something of a Black Series approach, only it’s not expected to carry that name, which has historically been reserved specifically for two-door models. Given AMG’s current list of priorities and limited manpower, though, Moers suggests it will be several years – likely towards the end of the model’s life cycle – before it may prepare such a model, following a similar formula to the Mini JCW GP and Renaultsport Mégane R26.R. Here’s hoping an American version based on the CLA could also be in the cards.

Mercedes-AMG planning more hardcore A45 hot hatch originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 24 Nov 2014 10:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Ferrari replaces F1 boss with Marlboro exec

November 24th, 2014 by admin No comments »

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F1 Ferrari Team Principal

Ferrari just finished its worst Formula One season in decades, and if you’re thinking heads are going to roll, you’re right. In fact they already have, as team principal Stefano Domenicali was dismissed earlier this year and longtime chairman Luca di Montezemolo was axed just two months ago. Now Maranello has announced a new team principal, yet again.

Instead of promoting from within, however, this time Ferrari has called in an outside executive – albeit one with whom it is intimately familiar. His name is Maurizio Arrivabene, and he’s served as a senior executive at tobacco giant Philip Morris International, managing (among other areas) the Marlboro brand’s sponsorship of the Scuderia. In that capacity he’s been sitting on the FIA’s Formula One Commission as the sponsors’ representative since 2010, giving him a familiarity with how the series is run.

In his new capacity as Managing Director of the Gestione Sportiva and Team Principal of Scuderia Ferrari, Arrivabene replaces Marco Mattiacci, who was called up to the post from his previous position as head of the North American office just eight months ago. Back then Mattiacci replaced a similarly under-performing Domenicali. The change may very well have come at the behest (if not insistence) of Philip Morris, which remains the team’s main sponsor and is undoubtedly displeased with Ferrari’s performance lately. It wouldn’t be the first time. After all, Marlboro similarly brokered the deal that put Ron Dennis in charge of McLaren in the early 1980s.

Mattiacci’s swift replacement comes at the end of a disastrous season for the Scuderia. Following yesterday’s season finale in Abu Dhabi, Ferrari finished fourth in the constructors’ standings behind Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams. The last time it finished the championship in such poor shape was in 2010 when Felipe Massa was injured and the team scrambled to find a replacement. But even then it managed to win at least one race and land on the podium another five times. Fernando Alonso finished on the podium only twice this season while Kimi Raikkonen struggled further back. This year marked the first time Ferrari failed to win a grand prix since 1993, and even then Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger managed more podiums than the team scored this season.

Continue reading Ferrari replaces F1 boss with Marlboro exec

Ferrari replaces F1 boss with Marlboro exec originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 24 Nov 2014 08:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Motorsports: Force India confirms Sergio Perez in multi-year contract

November 24th, 2014 by admin No comments »

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Sergio Perez

The last few seats are being taken in the grand game of musical chairs that ensues at the end of any Formula One season. The latest announcement comes from Force India, which has confirmed that it’s keeping Sergio Perez in place not just for next season, but for the next several years.

This weekend in Abu Dhabi, Perez completed his fourth season in Formula One. After success in British Formula Three and GP2, the Mexican driver debuted with Sauber in 2011, switched to McLaren in 2013 and to Force India for the season now drawing to a close – notably landing on the podium in Bahrain.

That was only the second podium finish the team has ever seen, following Giancarlo Fisichella’s second-place finish at Spa in 2009. The team now sits sixth in the standings, tying its position last year and in 2011. The high point for the team came when it was still known as Jordan Grand Prix, finishing the 1999 championship in third place on the back of two checkered flags and four more podiums claimed by Heinz-Harald Frentzen (while his World Champion teammate, Damon Hill, languished in his final season on the grid).

Perez will partner once again with Nico Hulkenberg next season. The announcement leaves only the future of Caterham, one seat at Toro Rosso and the decision from McLaren on Fernando Alonso’s wingman still left open as this season draws to a close.

Force India confirms Sergio Perez in multi-year contract originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 24 Nov 2014 08:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: Watch this Chinese stunt driver parallel park with only 3 inches to spare

November 23rd, 2014 by admin No comments »

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Parallel Parking Video

Whenever this writer thinks of fancy parking jobs, we go straight to Buddy Love singing Strokin’ in a red Dodge Viper he slides into a tiny space in The Nutty Professor. But after watching the video above, we might have to start thinking about Han Yue, who broke the world record for getting into the tightest parallel parking space. The previous record was set in July 2013 by Alastair Moffatt, who had 3.4 inches to spare between his car and those around. Yue used a Mini Cooper at the China Drift Championship in Chongqing, China, to shrink that gap to 3.15 inches.

That gave Yue two world records at the same event: the day before, he used a BMW M4 to set the world record for doing the most donuts around a car driving on two wheels. Which, frankly, we didn’t even know was a competitive thing…

Continue reading Watch this Chinese stunt driver parallel park with only 3 inches to spare

Watch this Chinese stunt driver parallel park with only 3 inches to spare originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 23 Nov 2014 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Chevy Sail 3 lands in China

November 23rd, 2014 by admin No comments »

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The Chevrolet Sail, front three-quarter view.

Shanghai General Motors took 32 cars to this year’s Guangzhou Motor Show, with its Chevrolet Sail 3 leading the way. After putting almost 1.4 million of them into Chinese hands, the third generation of the Bowtie’s entry-level sedan wants to “take the nameplate and the segment to a new level.” Its new architecture sporting a 1.4-inch longer wheelbase supports a growth spurt of two inches in length and 1.8 inches in width. The exterior also gets “eagle eye-shaped” headlights and “dual-c-element taillights.”

Under the hood will be either a 1.5-liter DVVT or a 1.3-liter VVT, each of them more powerful and more frugal than previous offerings. Both can be paired with a manual or an automatic transmission, and qualify for listing in China’s National Energy-Saving and Eco-Friendly Vehicle Catalogue, as well as a 3,000 renminbi rebate ($490 US).

You can read more about it in the press release below, and get more info on the Chevrolet Camaro RS Limited Edition, Corvette Stingray Coupe, Buick Regal GS and Excelle XT also introduced at the show.

Continue reading Chevy Sail 3 lands in China

Chevy Sail 3 lands in China originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 23 Nov 2014 17:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: US driver data privacy laws aren’t strict enough for EU

November 23rd, 2014 by admin No comments »

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Switzerland Geneva Motor Show

In October the Association of Global Automakers and the Alliance of Automobile Manfuacturers informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that they were working together on a set of privacy protection guidelines for drivers. The privacy concerns the data collected by modern automobiles, like vehicle location, biometrics or infotainment usage, that automakers use to “enable a better overall driving experience.” Even though the information is anonymized, the fear is that – without any protections – using it can lead to messy interactions with business aims and cloud how information will be exchanged as vehicle-to-vehicle technology increases.

This month, the two groups issued a 13-page paper called “Consumer Privacy Protection Principles” laying out a framework for collecting and safeguarding data, saying that it “goes beyond similar principles in other industry sectors,” and, “Vigilance over the privacy of our customers and the security of vehicle systems is an imperative.” According to a German attorney, however, the protections use vague language that wouldn’t satisfy current European regulations. At issue are phrases like “reasonable business purposes” to describe when collecting data is acceptable, and the fact that just using the vehicle is de facto consent to data collection.

That latter point is also a problem for Senator Edward Markey, who believes drivers should not just be made aware of their personal information being stored but should be able to opt-out of having it stored at all.

US driver data privacy laws aren’t strict enough for EU originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 23 Nov 2014 14:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Audi Quattro concept production hopes still alive, could be more radical

November 23rd, 2014 by admin No comments »

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The Audi Sport Quattro Concept at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, front three-quarter view.

The 2010 Audi Quattro Concept, front three-quarter view.Remember the gestation period of the Lexus LFA, the one that, in automotive time, took so long that its origins could have been carbon dated? We feel like it’s déja vu all over again, as Yogi Berra would have said, this time featuring the Audi Quattro and Audi Sport Quattro. It was 2010 when our cameras first glimpsed the Audi Quattro Concept (pictured right) at the Paris Motor Show, and we tasted its turbocharged 2.5-liter, five-cylinder powerplant not long after.

Last year we met the hybrid, 700-horsepower Audi Sport Quattro concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show, but we got no closer to finding out if there’d ever be a version we could buy. A report in Autocar keeps the flame of hope burning, quoting Audi design chief Marc Lichte at the LA Auto Show saying, “We are working on Quattro, it is still alive.” Lichte went on to say, however, that the next imagining is “more extreme” than those we’ve seen, and, “There will be surprises.”

Those words alone are a surprise. The last we heard about the Quattro revival was Audi boss Ulrich Hackenberg saying he wanted a more accessible homage to the original, and we don’t know how “more extreme” jives with that. Seeing that Audi is serious about the idea, at least, we shouldn’t have to wait long to find out. Just don’t get your hopes up about its affordability yet.

Audi Quattro concept production hopes still alive, could be more radical originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 23 Nov 2014 10:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Mercedes AMG GT3 racecar due in 2016

November 23rd, 2014 by admin No comments »

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The 2016 Mercedes AMG GT S, front three-quarter view.

Our life with the Mercedes-AMG GT has only just begun, and a full life it looks like it will be. The latest in preposterous two-doors from AMG is launching in GT and GT S flavors, but a few more branches of the family tree are already planned: a racing entry for the FIA GT3 championship is scheduled to appear in 2016, giving the current SLS AMG GT3 another year to gobble up victories before it takes a drive across the Styx.

More exciting for those who only suit up on Sunday for church, whispers are that a we’ll also get a streetable version of the race car – not called “GT3″ because that alphanumeric is owned by Porsche, but definitely aimed at its Stuttgart rival. AMG boss Tobias Moers told Autocar the objective for that car is “more power, less weight, better aerodynamics and different suspension but the targets should be the power to weight ratio, drivability, lap time and tremendous feel.” Those targets will be aided by a carbon fiber weight-loss regime of up to 220 pounds and more power – perhaps 550 horsepower – from the currently “very understressed” engine.

Supposing that still isn’t enough for you, then the Black Series version should curl your toes, if you can wait until 2018 for it.

Mercedes AMG GT3 racecar due in 2016 originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 23 Nov 2014 09:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Rumormill: Jaguar to go racing with F-Type GT3?

November 22nd, 2014 by admin No comments »

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Jaguar F-Type Project 7

Most British automakers have some manner of racing program. Aston Martin, Lotus and McLaren race as a matter of course. Bentley recently got back into racing, Morgan has dabbled here and there, even Land Rover has its off-road racing programs. The only one, it seems, that isn’t racing these days is Jaguar… but that could be about to change.

The latest intel from the UK suggests that Jaguar is closely evaluating the prospect of building a GT3-spec racer based on the F-Type. Like the Bentley Continental GT3 co-developed with M-Sport (not to mention Coventry’s own successful partnership with TWR), the Jaguar program would need an established racing outfit to help develop the car and field it, and the automaker is said to be evaluating three potential partners.

The development of the GT3 racer would allow Jaguar to compete (or sell cars for others to compete) in a variety of racing series around the world, including the Blancpain Endurance Series, the European Le Mans Series and, if properly adapted, other series like the United SportsCar Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Jaguar’s car would have to compete with such rivals as the Aston Martin Vantage GTE, Audi R8 LMS, Ferrari 458 GT, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 and Porsche 911 GT3 R.

Current FIA GT3 regulations use a Balance of Performance equation that allows for a curb weight between 1,200 and 1,300 kilograms (2,645 to 2,866 pounds) and produce between 500 and 600 horsepower. A more cost-effective GT4 racer could follow. But the best part is that Jaguar could, according to the report in Autocar, develop a road-going version as well, even more focused than the Project 7 pictured above and similar to what Bentley did with the Continental GT3-R.

Jaguar of course has had a rich history with motor racing, reaching back to its dominance at Le Mans in the 1950s with the C-Type and D-Type, extending through the TWR partnership in touring car and endurance racing in the 1980s and 90s, to the short-lived Formula One team that became Red Bull Racing. It launched a GT2-spec XKR a few years ago and was tipped to be developing a new LMP1 prototype, but neither are on the track today, where Jaguars only compete in vintage racing.

Jaguar to go racing with F-Type GT3? originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 22 Nov 2014 08:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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