Friday, 29 July 2011

Sky's The Limit

Bad news today. Sky TV (aka Rupert Murdoch's News International) have been awarded the rights to broadcast all practice, qualifying and races of the 2012 Formula 1 Season and also the following years up to and including 2018.

It could be worse I suppose, the BBC will still be allowed to show half of the races live including the two important ones - Monaco and Britain. They also get the season-finale race but that may or may not be worth seeing because, like this year, the championship may have been decided earlier.

It could also have been worse in that as recently as this month, there was much talk of a possible take-over of the whole of F1 by Murdoch. I think and hope that the phone-hacking scandal has put pay to all that.

That ESPN article article claims that Bernie is very good friends with the Murdochs but it's apparently impossible to find a photo of them together - I wonder why?

My main objection to Sky taking over another sport though is that I (and there are many others too) am too stingy, poor and Murdoch-hating to pay and will not be able to see as much live action.

It also means we will see less of these guyswhich is a shame.

Still, Bernie here will have done a good deal, he always does.Mind you, Rupert is also known for his hard-dealing - I guess the best businessman will have won out - I'm sure there wouldn't be any dirty tricks involved.

Hang on, isn't Bernie using a mobile phone in that picture?

I hope no-one's hacked into it.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Hyundai Veloster

What do you call a donkey with three legs?A Wonkey!

What do you call a car with three side-doors?

A Mini Clubman.

Or, now, a Hyundai Veloster.

There is a first drive report in the latest Top Gear Magazine which again sports a Seat ad on the back cover - normal service has been resumed.

So how does that work then?

Well, if you take a look at the driver's side...... you will see a quite attractive coupe. Hyundai have a history of providing cheap, attractive coupes amongst its range of cheap, unnattractive runabouts.

But look at the other side of the same car......and you see what looks like a compact five-door hatch. Even with the hidden Alfa 156-style door handles, it is obviously equipped with normal-sized, normally-hinged front and rear doors.

The car goes on sale here in the UK in November and should cost between £17000 and £20000 and, unlike the Mini Clubman, will not expect us to deposit our children into the path of traffic as the door configuration will be reversed for right-hand-drive markets.

It shouldn't really matter that either side will look different because, unless you park next to a big mirror, you will never see both sides at the same time - (this was also useful if you lost two wheel trims - you only ever had to buy two new ones even if they didn't match the existing ones because as long as they were on the same side of the car, nobody would be any the wiser)

This car will appeal to yummy mummies on a budget who like the idea of a coupe but want the practicality of a car they can get the children in and out of easily - it is a very good idea that could also have worked on the Range-Rover Evoque of which it has already been commented upon that the three-door is difficult to get in and out of the back of.

Now they just need to sort out the name - Veloster - are they trying to imply velocity? It will be starting with a 1.6 petrol engine which, although fast enough for any town-coupe, isn't a sporting tool. And "velo" to me implies bicycle. Will they call it that in France?

How about they call it The Hyundai Trois-Pattes-âne?

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Right-Wing Rubbish

Autoguide news pointed me this morning back to our own Daily Mail and a story about Jeremy Clarkson being racist about Lenny Henry. Being American, they had to explain who Lenny Henry is. For those who don't know, I shall also explain who Lenny Henry is.

He is a very talented comedian/writer/actor from the West Midlands of England:Who also happens to be black.

The Daily Mail is accusing Jeremy of racism due to an article he wrote about how eco-friendly TVs can be set so dim that everyone looks like "Lenny Henry in a cave"

I don't know if he was being racist or not - I know he always tries to find funny analogies for everything and if they are going to be controversial - then all the better. This is why he keeps ending up in trouble. I know that I find him very funny.

"Owning a TVR in the past was like owning a bear, I mean it was great, until it pulled your head off, which it would."

"We all know that small cars are good for us. But so is cod liver oil. And jogging."

"The Ferrari 355 is like a quail's egg dipped in celery salt and served in Julia Roberts' belly button."

I got those off a Clarkson fansite.

The Daily Mail is a horrible, right-wing, muckraking rag read by people who will gullibly take in all the propaganda it reports. But those people will agree with Jeremy who can only be described as very right of centre. So they won't have a lot of sympathy with their own newspaper here - the comments under the story seem to back this up. The story uses a VC-winning soldier who was offended by the article (good, typical Daily Mail fodder) and who also happens to be black.(Oops)

I think the result was right but for the wrong reasons - it was the old Alf Garnett effect - you're supposed to laugh at him, not with him.

So why pick on Jeremy anyway?

Could it be because he writes for different right-wing rags, The Sun and The Sunday Times? These are part of the awful Murdoch Empire and I would love to see them go the same way as "The News of the World" - it's the end of The World as we know it.

The Mail won't mention the competition, but it must have been one of these papers that Clarkson wrote the offending article in.

May, meanwhile, writes for yet another right-wing rag, The Telegraph - why do all the interesting people write for right-wing rubbish?

Oh yes - money!

Anyway, has anyone asked Lenny Henry what he thinks about all this? Maybe he isn't even aware of the story - I doubt if he bothers with The Sun or The Daily Mail or or Metro's Car Blog. If he does know about it, he is keeping a dignified silence - there's no mention on his Website and although there are a couple of Twitter accounts purporting to be him - I don't believe he actually is a Twitterererer.

As you may be able to guess, I'm not a fan of the right-wing press - but they are diametrically opposed to what I believe in. I'm not afraid to use the word "Socialist" - I know many Americans are - it would be suicide for an American politician to use it - but I know the difference between Socialist and Communist.

And I also envy places like Sweden where people are richer, happier, have a better standard of life and more choice. Yes, everything is more expensive there and they pay more taxes and foreign tourists will be put off, but the Swedes themselves can afford stuff because they don't have to pay extra for their public facilities and they earn more anyway.

Pity the left-wing press is crap too.

They're up for Contempt of Court over that coverage which hounded a man that they had decided at the time was a murderer but, given that someone else has been charged in the meantime, is almost certainly completely innocent.

Thursday, 7 July 2011


Saw this F1 story yesterday in my new favourite car news site, It claims that "many companies associated with the commercial side of the sport are very concerned about a decline in popularity" possibly as a result of rule changes such as reducing the number of engine cylinders and the max rpm.

I don't see these changes affecting the popularity of the sport - maybe the engine notes won't be quite as roary - but that won't affect the majority of spectators - ie viewers at home. Those at the circuits may survive longer before deafness kicks in as well.

As for the reduction in engine revs, it's already having a positive impact with considerably more cars finishing races. Mind you, the cameras do enjoy a big engine blow-out and cars skidding on dropped oil.

The biggest threat to the popularity of F1 at the moment is Sebastian Vettel winning every race. Last year was much more exciting.

The promoters are considering moving over to Indycars.

This may be fine if they are American-based but the rest of the world is not interested in Indycars. It's a bit like the sport Americans call "Football" and the rest of the world calls "American Football".

Looking at the official Indycar Website, they have a lot of drivers, currently led by Britain's own (OK Scotland's own) Dario Franchitti but the only other ones I've heard of are Danica Patrick and Takuma Sato. They do, rarely, travel outside of the US but only as far as Brazil, Canada and Japan.

I don't ever see Indycar rivalling F1. A1GP tried and failed to do so - they will never have the magic of Monaco or Silverstone or the personalities or the glamour.

They've managed to find an awful picture of Bernie for the article - nearly as bad as his black-eye pics. He seems to have some sympathy for the argument. I don't.

I think I generally like Bernie - he is a ruthless businessman - but not a Rupert Murdoch. He was good fun on Top Gear last week directing Jeremy around the Monaco circuit. I don't even hold it against him that he is a co-owner of Queens Park Rangers Football Club - although some QPR fans might! He also sometimes gets it wrong like when he was reluctant to postpone or cancel the Bahrain GP - as time goes on, it still looks very wrong to go there.

There is one thing that Indycars has over F1 though...

I bring you back to one of the three drivers I'd actually heard of, Danica Patrick.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Going Round in Circles

It's been two weeks since my last post. Normally I just wait for a suitable story to come along and then I comment on it. But, since it has been two weeks, I've gone out looking further.

I've found a very good American site,, with probably the best car news section on the Web. They had a good story yesterday about how the LAPD are asking that celebrities tweet road congestion news.


They also make some reference to a couple of Star Trek actors which went completely over my head. Levar Burton played a blind man who could see with the help of a futuristic hairband and Wil Wheaton played an annoyingly precocious boy and then went on to parody himself brilliantly in The Big Bang Theory. But I don't get the traffic news angle.

I then found this story in Autocar about the new Porsche 911. It was something I was going to comment on in March when I saw this picture on the CAR&Driver siteheralding the first spy-shot of the new Porsche 911. I mean what the hell is the point of a spy shot of a Porsche 911!? Everyone knows what it will look like - every other Porsche 911!!

And the story in Autocar goes on to prove it. I'm sure that under the skin, the new 911 is very different to the outgoing model but on the outside, you won't know, when one screams past you on the motorway, just how old it is.

The big story will be when they finally make it look like something different, like when Volvo stopped making cars that looked like the 144, or when Land Rover change the Defender - it is happening soon and it will be the end of an era.

But, the story I have chosen for my July 1st Post - is from the BBC Website. It is entitled "Is the British roundabout conquering the US?" I drove around a couple in New England on my first trip Stateside in '92 and I couldn't get to grips with going around them the wrong way. I was very glad that they were very rare. Strangely enough, I never had any problems after that when I drove around Majorca - another drive-on-the-right kinda place.

The article is about how the city of Carmel, Indiana, is ripping out traditional intersections with traffic lights and replacing them with good old-fashioned European-style roundabouts.

The locals seem positive - traffic moves better and fuel is not wasted although this idiot in Georgia has a different view. Any person who will willingly be quoted as saying, "The universe is out of whack when roundabouts are constructed and the economy suffers. Not one, but two industries are suddenly out of business. There’s no longer any need for stop signs or traffic lights. I ask you, in this economic climate, is this a time to put all those people out of work?" is clearly a few sandwiches short of a picnic. I bet he believes the nonsense Fox News put out.

Maybe if he had a few driving lessons he'd be less scared of them.

It's not like the Americans will ever have to deal with this: