Saturday, 25 May 2013

Is Formula 1 Real Racing Any More?

I don't know, I don't watch it any more.

But that question was asked by Andrew Benson, the BBC's chief F1 writer on their F1 Website.

Now, being the BBC's chief F1 writer, he isn't going to answer no to that question - but his justifications don't really add up for me.  He quotes some stats that seem to show that drivers are driving as hard as they were before the BBC sold out to Sky but the very fact that the question is being asked is evidence that there is something wrong.

As it happens, the timing of F1's waning excitement is entirely coincidental with the Sky deal - the cause appears to be the Pirelli Tyre rule-changes making it easier to overtake.


Easier to overtake!?

How can that be worse for a sport where processional racing has impacted on excitement for years?

Well, apparently, drivers are having to slow down to preserve their tyres.  Lot's of media interest was generated by a Lewis Hamilton quote over his pit-radio from the Spanish Grand Prix - "I can't drive any slower". Here is one example.

Judging by the highest-rated comments on Andy's article, those still enthusiastic on the sport all seem to agree that the tyres are an issue.

This weekend sees the Monaco Grand Prix.  This was always the highlight of the F1 Year for me - and for many F1 fans.  Now the BBC has even lost the rights to cover this race live - whoever did their negotiations (Ben Gallop, Barbara Slater, Mark Thompson) really were inept beyond belief.

Highlights is not good enough for me and there is no doubt that audience figures are dropping - globally as more countries are putting F1 behind paywalls.

So silly tyre rules need sorting!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Mayor of St.Edmundsbury is a Buffoon

Maybe it's a hacked self-driving car.

After my comment at the weekend about self-driving cars ending up in Sainsburys, we now have a car in Tescos.  It was driven there by the local mayor.  Nobody was injured.

I found this story today in The Sudbury Mercury - everyone's favourite Suffolk-newspaper-named-after-an-American-car.

So, does this Mayor's buffoonery match that of the mayors of London and Paris I have previously highlighted?

I don't know.  The story tells of a trip to hospital so it could have been a medical condition caused this.

But I suspect not.

Lots of Mercurys and other American cars end up in buildings due to clumsy or forgetful drivers forgetting how Automatics work:

Pictures like these regularly turn up on news websites.

All nations are affected but most ot these seem to be American due to the high car-ownership over there and the high proportion of those that have Auto-boxes.

I particularly like the third picture.  Claim, anyone?

Now, the mayor from our story, Terry Buckle,  may have just been unlucky.  The story says that "It is believed the car had lurched forward from a parking bay directly in front of the shop, with Mr Buckle at the wheel."

Pesky cars, eh?

Maybe it was a medical condition though - he was stopped in a disabled bay after all.

I put his registration number into and, surprise, surprise! - it's an Automatic.

So, it does look like buffoonery - or an excuse to get a mayoral car that's a bit posher than an S-Reg Vectra.

Post Script - Terry is blaming his brakes! Ha!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Getting Hacked Off

Suddenly, the ending of the brilliant video in my post from earlier this month makes more sense.

The car that fascinates the two Spocks is this self-driving Audi TT:
This car raises two important questions: 
  • Do self-driving Audis tailgate other self-driving cars?
  • Will a 14-year-old from Indonesia one day be able to hack into self-driving cars?
 Actually, that second question raises even more questions.
The question itself, was first asked by a US senator as told to us by Autoguide today.
It's a bit scary when you think about it - especially if you live in Indonesia where most 14-year-old Indonesians come from.
Imagine you're on you way home from work, reading the evening newspaper or playing Tetris or having a quiet doze while your self-driving car is doing the important stuff when you suddenly find yourself driving through your local branch of Sainsburys (or Wal-Mart or Hero).
Technology in lots of modern cars will make them vulnerable for hacking whether it is upgrading the e.c.u. for more power or something more sinister altogether.
Self-driving cars themselves have progressed in leaps and bounds in the last decade with some help from the DARPA Grand Challenge with cars like this VW Passat...
 ...through to Google's self-driving Toyota Prius...
Such cars are now legal on the roads in several US States.

I'm rather glad they aren't here in the UK yet though.

Not that we aren't working on the same thing - check this out.

But, apart from nervousness about a computer controlling a ton or two of metal on the loose, I actually enjoy driving and don't want to ever lose out on that.

Plus, what about those Indonesian kids?

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Is The Jaguar an Endangered Species?

Well, it doesn't appear in the list of 20 most endangered.

The BBC and The Telegraph both pointed me at the Honest John site today where this story can be found.

I must admit that I got a bit distracted by the adverts to the right...

where two different men seem to own the same wallet with the same picture of the same car.

But I digress.

The story looks at the survival rates of mass-produced British cars particularly from the '60s, '70s and '80s.

The car that seems to be faring the worst is the Austin Allegro...

...with 642,340 built and 291 remaining in the UK, for a total of 0.0453% left.

The BBC report concentrates on the 1980s and is particularly worried about survival rates of cars from that decade.  It is quite scathing about the Scrappage Scheme of a few years back and, speaking as someone who didn't get to take advantage of it, I wholeheartedly agree.

This got me thinking about the car I owned from that decade, my 1980 Triumph Dolomite 1500HL in vomit yellow.  The Honest John site lets you look up just about any car right up to modern ones so I checked out The Dolomite and found some nice charts and, basically some good news:

In December 2007, there were 2,373 registered
By December 2011, 2,159 of those were left
On average, 53 were lost each year, or 2.3%
At that rate, it will take 29 years until half of those left today are lost

I guess that once a car reaches a certain age, people will look after them.

I then got distracted by Top 20: Fastest disappearing cars from UK roads.  This list contains a few non-surprises like Daewoos and Fiats, one fairly surprising entry - the Vauxhall Cavalier and car I actually don't remember - the Sao Penza.

In case you're wondering, Sao Penza. Population in 2007: 13, population in 2011: 3, for 23.08% of '07 cars remaining.

I'll alert David Attenborough.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Enterprise Rent-a-Car

Fox today asks us "What would Spock drive?"

A Vulcan?

Well, judging by this picture, A Buick.
Apparently it's a '64 Buick Riviera.

However, what Fox have found is a brilliantly amusing ad where he drives a Mercedes CLS.

But it's not a Mercedes ad, it's an Audi ad...

Lots of Star Trek references in there but no mention of Star Trek itself.  Possibly because the Mazda 6 is the official advertising partner of "Star Trek: Into Darkness" so they wouldn't want to upset the sponsors.

I can't vouch for the film because I haven't watched it - yet.  But I can certainly vouch for this advert.

Missing it would be very illogical.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Lots of Fun

Car lots of fun? This amusing article on the Car&Driver site highlights the secret language used by salesmen working on America's car Lots.

Now Arthur Daley here also had his own patois used on his car lot:

But that was just Cockney - Corblimey Mate! Luvaduck. Beales - Don't talk to me about Beales!

I've been meeting a few car salesmen lately.  Never a car saleswoman - do they exist?

My wife is after a new (or newer) car - it all follows on from the little yellow light that appears in a photo in my earlier post about the MOT test.  So far we've visited (in order of appearance) our local Toyota, Mazda, Hyundai and Ford dealers for test drives.

At the moment, my wife is being "up" while I am being "Third Baseman".  However, I'm not very good at this.  When she has finalised her choice, I will switch to being "Paperboy" - a role I recently played while purchasing our new family computer.  I wasn't very good at that either.

I have seen a couple of "Lot lizards" and would wish them well with "de-horsing" given the condition of my wife's current car - but that doesn't tend to happen in Britain anyway - if they want to keep you in the place, they make you a hot coffee and you are supposed to feel guilty if you don't finish it.

If you want to understand the past two paragraphs, and this clever illustration... will need to read the article.

However, if you want to understand Arthur Daley, and maybe spend some sausage and mash on a new jam-jar, then this site may be more useful.