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Racing

'Helmut Marko should make Red Bull/AlphaTauri equal'

Under the new rules, McLaren CEO Zak Brown has suggested that Helmut Marko should split resources equally across Red Bull and AlphaTauri.

Since the team known as Toro Rosso joined F1 in 2006, they have served as a Red Bull junior team, giving young drivers a path into the senior squad.

But with Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat now forming their most experienced partnership to date, the team have been rebranded to AlphaTauri to promote Red Bull’s clothing range under the same name.

Marko has said before that AlphaTauri have now been upgraded to Red Bull’s “sister team“, while the relationship between the outfit and Red Bull Technologies has grown closer.

And with the new budget cap coming from next year, as well as a sliding scale for R&D based on where a team finishes in the Constructors’ Championship, Brown thinks it would make sense for Marko to split the budget equally across Red Bull and AlphaTauri.

Speaking on the F1 Nation podcast, he said: “I think you’re going to have three or four teams that now run in the budget cap, ourselves, Renault, Racing Point and I think AlphaTauri will also.

“And I think Red Bull, if I’m Dr Helmut Marko, I now have two teams and collectively, I can kind of spread my resources and create two equal teams, so I think they’re a big winner out of this as well.

“And then I think it closes the budget gap for – I’m not sure if Sauber, Haas and Williams will run at the cap, but the difference between where they are today and where the cap will be will certainly be tighter.

“So I think everybody’s really a winner at the end of the day, and it’s going to make for fairer, more balanced competition.”

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Racing

Mika Hakkinen questions whether Lewis Hamilton is 'ready' for Valtteri Bottas

Two-time World Champion Mika Hakkinen has questioned whether or not Lewis Hamilton is “ready” for Valtteri Bottas’ next attempt to dethrone him as World Champion.

2019 was Bottas’ best season to date as he finished P2 in the Drivers’ Championship, but he was still comfortably adrift of Mercedes team-mate Hamilton who secured a sixth World Championship.

The Briton goes into 2020 still as the hot favourite, but Bottas has been working tirelessly during the extended break in a bid to take that final step and challenge for the title.

It will be a shorter season that normal, so with consistency being key, Hakkinen wonders if Hamilton still has the energy to repel a Bottas challenge.

“I think it’s going to be a really, really good season. And the guy who is going to win the Championship this year, will have high, high respect,” he told Laureus.com.

“Valtteri is definitely in a super condition, he’s prepared himself to a very high physical and psychological level to start the season. He showed great performances in testing a few months ago, so he’s in very good shape and I’m confident that he will be showing incredible results.

“Lewis will continue his great driving for sure. But when Valtteri has raised his goal higher and he’s better than ever, has Lewis done the same, because you need to improve all the time? You need to constantly be better. And it’s very tiring for the mind, very tiring physically, and it requires a lot of discipline. So Valtteri is ready, is Lewis ready?

“I certainly believe that Max Verstappen, for sure, with the Red Bull flat out, is going to go for it. Max normally will attack. He will take lots of risks. So the drivers who are out there, having such a long break from driving, are they ready to react to all the moves that Max is going to do?”

Hakkinen for sure rejects the idea that whoever wins the title this year won’t be held in the same regard due to the lower number of races.

“I haven’t thought about it that way. If there’s going to be 15 races, it will be tough but the best will win,” he explained.

“When I was racing and conditions suddenly changed, you need to add up these things very quickly. And the drivers who can do that, very fast, will be the winners. It’s going to be a good one.”

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Car Reviews

Majority Of Potential EV Buyers In UK Waiting For Scrappage Scheme

A scrappage scheme for gas and diesel cars could turn more onto EV ownership.

More than 50 percent of motorists said that they would be more likely to take up EV ownership if the government introduced a scrappage scheme for petrol and diesel cars.

The findings from a nationwide survey from nationwide EV charge point installer Smart Home Charge at a time where speculation suggests that the announcement of such a scheme could be just around the corner as the government pushes towards a zero-emissions future.

In the survey, 50.4 percent of respondents said they would either ‘definitely’ buy a new EV or would be ‘more likely to’ if a scrappage scheme was to be introduced.

However just 10 percent said that such a scheme would not pursuade them to buy an EV, while 7.3 percent said they would be more inclined to lease or rent an EV rather than buy one outright.

“Our survey has shown that most people understand how petrol and diesel cars can negatively impact their local environment, particularly air quality,” said Danny Morgan, editor at Smart Home Charge. “It also shows many people are willing to do something about it, including switching to an electric car.

“But buying any brand new or used car can be a significant investment, so a Government contribution in the form of a scrappage scheme to encourage electric car ownership would not only be a boost to the UK automotive industry but would also be a big step in helping this country achieve its net-zero carbon economy target by 2050.”

The same survey also quizzed people about the effects of the coronavirus lockdown.

Most (99.3 percent) said that they had noticed less conjestion, while 88.3 percent said they noticed there being less noise pollution – 98.3 percent agreed that electric cars would help reduce noise pollution further.

On the subject of air quality, nearly three quarters of the survey’s participants (72.5 percent) said that air quality was ‘very important’ to them, with 97 percent reporting that the lockdown had a positive effect on air quality. A further 68.4 percent blamed petrol and diesel cars for having a negative impact on air quality.

Following the changes brought about by the lockdown, 26 percent said that they would now try to drive less, with 19.2 percent saying they would now consider walking or cycling instead for short trips into town or to the shops.

“Air quality and noise pollution have always been quite abstract things to discuss,” said Smart Home Charge editor Danny Morgan. “We know we want less pollution, but we’ve never really experienced what it would be like in our towns and cities. Plus, driving is part of the fabric of everyday life, so we don’t always make the connection between the two.

“However, one positive from the lockdown has meant far fewer cars on the road and, for the first time in a long time, people have experienced the benefits of quieter roads and less pollution from car tailpipes.

“Clearly, electric cars won’t solve the congestion problems we have, but the knock-on effect has been people are more willing to consider a fully electric car because their priorities have changed – better air quality and less noise are both something to strive for and EVs can help with that.”

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Car Reviews

Smart Fortwo Electric: 6 Things You Need To Know

It’s an excellent city car.

The Smart EQ ForTwo is probably the quickest, most efficient and fun way to cut through modern city traffic, regardless of whether you’re in London, Paris, Miami or Rome.

***Editor’s Note: This content and related video focus mainly on the European perspective. Not all info applies to EV owners in the U.S.

Here are six things you need to know… 

It’s a modern-day Mini 

The inventor of the original Mini, Alec Issigonis, made his tech breakthrough by turning the car’s engine sideways and making it front-wheel drive, saving room in the engine compartment and making the cabin bigger.  Engineer and CEO of watch company Swatch, Nicolas Hayek, may not have been a car guy, but he still had a dream to create a modern city car that would be big enough to carry two people and a case of beer. A collaboration with Mercedes-Benz followed and in 1997, the Smart car was presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show – Smart being an acronym for ‘Swatch Mercedes Art’.  

The first model measured just 2.5m in length, half a meter less than the original Mini, and featured removable body panels that allowed owners to change the color of their cars as easily as changing the color of their watch strap.  

It was always meant to be an electric car 

Hayek’s original vision was for the Smart car to be fitted with a hybrid powertrain to maximize fuel efficiency, but it wasn’t until 2007 when the first electric version of what became known as the Smart fortwo was produced.   

Today, Smart now sits under the Mercedes EQ sub-brand and has become the first carmaker to completely switch from internal combustion engines to all electric power. Replacing the rear-mounted engine is an electric motor and Tesla supplied 17.6kWh battery pack to provide the equivalent of 82bhp.  
  
It’s a pioneer 

While the fortwo is available as a coupe, it is also available as a soft-top, making this the first mass-produced all-electric convertible on the market. Both versions use a structure that Smart calls a Tridion safety cell, which is an incredibly strong steel cage, cocooning the occupants in the event of a crash and transferring any of that impact energy away. 
 

With zero tailpipe emissions and one of the smallest new car footprints available, the fortwo also provides a viable solution for personal urban mobility, where population density continues to increase. A recent United Nations report predicts the global population of those living in dense cities will increase from 55% to nearly 70% within 30 years. 
 

Those are only three things you need to know. Do you want to know the other three? Just press play to the video. 

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Auto News

EICMA 2020 cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic

The 78th edition of the EICMA Motorcycle Show has been cancelled due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

EICMA 2020 was scheduled to be held from November 3-8. The show has now been postponed to November 9-14, 2021.

EICMA is where the world’s top motorcycle brands showcase their latest hardware every year. Earlier, KTM, Husqvarna and BMW Motorrad had announced that they would skip this year’s EICMA due to the Coronavirus outbreak. This may have also been one of the reasons why the organizers decided to cancel the show.

Moreover, Intermot 2020, which was supposed to take place in Germany from October 6-11 has also been cancelled due to the pandemic. Instead, the organizers could hold a virtual event later this year.

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Auto News

Renault Kiger interior with touchscreen infotainment spied

A new spy image of the Renault Kiger sub-4 meter SUV has surfaced online. The latest image gives us a peek into the car’s interior.

As per the spy image, the Kiger is likely to get all-black interiors with a floating touchscreen infotainment head-unit. It has a 3-spoke multi-function steering wheel similar to the Triber and a digital instrument cluster. This particular test car seems to be the automatic variant and also appears to have automatic climate control.

The Kiger will be based on the CMF-A+ platform. The front fascia of the car looks similar to the new Kwid. It gets triple-pod headlamps positioned lower down on the front bumper and a V-shaped grille with LED daytime running lights on either side.

The Renault Kiger could get a turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine paired with either a manual or an automated manual transmission (AMT).

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Racing

Red Bull will be 'chomping at the heels' of Mercedes

McLaren CEO Zak Brown believes Red Bull will be “chomping at the heels” of Mercedes in 2020, but the Silver Arrows are still the dominant outfit.

Mercedes already have made history with six consecutive Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships, but they will look to stretch their unmatched spell of dominance further by making it seven this season.

And Brown believes they will still have the dominant car to do that with the regulations remaining stable for 2020, but he doesn’t think Red Bull will be far behind.

“I think ’20 and ’21 are going to be kind of more of the same of what we saw in ’19,” he told Racefans.net.

“I think the midfield will be even closer.

“It looks to us from winter testing that Mercedes is going to be the dominant team again in ’20 and because of the rules – we’re [not] allowed to modify the cars that much – I would anticipate Mercedes will be looking pretty good in ’20 and ’21.

“It looks like Red Bull took a step forward, so I think they’ll be chomping at their heels. But I’m not sure they can catch them over a season.”

For Brown the final member of that traditional top three, Ferrari, are an unknown entity right now.

“Ferrari was a bit tricky to read. People seemed to think they may not quite have the pace,” he said.

“Unknown, I think that will become clear soon.”

Brown didn’t criticise Racing Point who attracted plenty of attention by revealing their RP20 which closely resembled last years’ Mercedes.

But he accepted that copying a Championship-winning car makes them a serious threat.

“We’re happy with the progress we made. Clearly Racing Point, as everyone calls it the pink Mercedes, they’ve become extremely competitive overnight which one would if you were using effectively the championship [winning] car from last season,” he explained.

“That midfield battle will be even tighter and I think that’ll roll into ’21.”

McLaren will switch to Mercedes power from next season, and while Brown says it will be a benefit to the team to take on what he feels is the best engine in F1, he also says McLaren will be limited in terms of the development they can do due to the token system.

“But that comes to the detriment of how much upgrades we can do to the car, because with this token system that’s been created, we’re having to use some of our tokens to adapt our chassis for the Mercedes engine,” he said.

“So we’ll have the benefit of what we think will be a more competitive power unit. We think the Renault engine is very strong but I think all people recognise Mercedes as the strongest. But we’ll be limited on what other development we can do. Depending on how strong our car is, that may or may not hurt us.

“So I think ’22 is when, if there is a shake-up of the order, I think ’22 is when that comes.”

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Racing

Hamilton: Lack of F1 diversity under Ecclestone makes ‘sense’

Lewis Hamilton says the lack of action to improve diversity in Formula 1 under Bernie Ecclestone “makes complete sense” following the sport’s former supremo’s comments about racism.

Ecclestone was at the helm of F1 for 40 years before exiting when F1 was taken over by Liberty Media in January 2017.

F1 has recently begun a new campaign to make the sport more inclusive, while six-time world champion Hamilton – the only black driver in F1 history – has launched his own commission to improve diversity throughout motorsport.

Ecclestone said in an interview with CNN that he did not think Hamilton’s campaign would “do anything bad or good for F1”, and commented that “in lots of cases, black people are more racist than what white people are”.

F1 condemned Ecclestone’s comments, and revealed his honorary role as the sport’s chairman emeritus expired in January 2020.

Taking to Instagram Stories, Hamilton hit back at Ecclestone’s comments, but said he could understand the lack of action to address diversity or racism through his F1 career that started in 2007.

“Bernie is out of the sport and a different generation, but this is exactly what is wrong – ignorant and uneducated comments which show us how far we as a society need to go before real equality can happen,” Hamilton wrote.

“It makes complete sense to me now that nothing was said or done to make our sport more diverse or to address the racial abuse I received throughout my career.

“If someone who has run the sport for decades has such a lack of understanding of the deep rooted issues we as black people deal with every day, how can we expect all the people who work under him to understand. It starts at the top.”

Hamilton faced racist abuse early in his F1 career, notably at the Spanish Grand Prix in 2008 when he was taunted by fans in blackface following his rivalry with Fernando Alonso at McLaren.

Hamilton referenced the incident in his commission announcement, saying he had “fighting the stigma of racism throughout my racing career”. Ecclestone said in the CNN interview he was “surprised” the incident concerned the British driver and that he “didn’t think it affected him”.

Hamilton concluded his message on Instagram by reiterating his recent message to create long-lasting change in motorsport.

“Now the time has come for change. I will not stop pushing to create an inclusive future for our sport with equal opportunity for all, to create a world that provides equal opportunity for minorities,” he wrote.

“I will continue to use my voice to represent those that don’t have one, and to speak for those who are underrepresented to provide an opportunity to have a chance in our sport.”

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Racing

W Series: Getting driver in F1 the 'ultimate' aim

Helping a female driver secure a seat in Formula 1 is the “ultimate ambition” of W Series, according to the communications director.

The female-only championship has proven popular since it began in 2019, with it making champion Jamie Chadwick a huge name in the world of motorsport.

Her success in the series led to her being signed by Williams as a development driver. Furthermore, she’ll also be competing in regional Formula 3 with Prema with the aim of moving up the ranks.

This is the sort of route that various young drivers have taken to make it into F1 over the years. For her or another W series driver to do the same is one of the competition’s biggest objectives, according to Matt Bishop.

“We have a couple of drivers in their 30s, in fact, one of our more successful drivers Emma Kimilainen is in her 30s and is a mother,” the communications director said as per grandprix247.com.

“We want to drive more female drivers into the higher echelons of international single-seater racing, F3, F2 and I am not predicting it but our ultimate ambition is Formula 1.

“With Emma Kimilainen she has won races on track and on sim, but she is not going to make F1 because the timing is wrong, but perhaps Ira Sidorkova, who knows. She turns 17 tomorrow.”

Sidorkova and 19-year-old Marta Garcia have both impressed in the W Series Esports League and are two of various exciting young talents who will be hoping to one day make it to the F1 grid.

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Racing

Makino fastest for Honda at Fuji, Nissan in trouble

Honda driver Tadasuke Makino topped the opening day of SUPER GT pre-season testing at Fuji Speedway following the Japanese championship’s three-month hiatus.

On the first day of track action since the opening test at Okayama in March, before the global coronavirus pandemic placed the season on hold, ex-Formula 2 driver Makino posted a 1m27.870s at the wheel of Team Kunimitsu’s #100 Honda NSX-GT.

All the leading times were set in the final 10 minutes of the two-and-a-half-hour afternoon session, when the faster GT500 cars had the track to themselves.

Sho Tsuboi had held the top spot for most of the session up to that point in the #14 Cerumo Toyota Supra that went quickest in the morning session in the hands of Kazuya Oshima.

But Tsuboi was one of only a handful of drivers to not go quicker in the afternoon session, as first Ukyo Sasahara (Mugen Honda), Nirei Fukuzumi (ARTA Honda) and Ryo Hirakawa (TOM’S Toyota) all enjoyed brief stints at the head of the timesheets.

Makino then set the quickest time of the day so far just after the chequered flag fell, with Sacha Fenestraz making a late move to second in the second TOM’S Supra but falling just 0.034 seconds short of the pace.

Koudai Tsukakoshi was third-fastest for Real Racing Honda, a further 0.069s behind. Tsukakoshi shared the #17 NSX-GT with SUPER GT rookie Yu Kanamaru, who was deputising for the absent Bertrand Baguette.

Another substitute driver, Kenta Yamashita – filling in for Heikki Kovalainen in the SARD Toyota – was fourth-fastest, while Hirakawa ensured it was three Toyotas in the top five.

Fukuzumi found themselves shuffled back to sixth and seventh places respectively ahead of the best of the Nissan drivers, Jann Mardenborough in the Kondo Racing GT-R.

Nissan endured a troubled return to SUPER GT action, with its quartet of GT500 cars responsible for causing three of the day’s five red flags.

The #3 B-Max Nissan caused the first interruption in the morning, coming to a halt at Turn 12 late in the first hour, before both the Impul and Kondo Nissans stopped on track at the same time after an hour of afternoon running. The Kondo Nissan then hit trouble for a second time roughly an hour later, causing another stoppage.

The morning session was topped by the #14 Toyota of reigning SUPER GT champion Oshima, who clocked a 1m28.482s just prior to the second red flag interruption of the day, caused by one of the JLOC Lamborghinis stopping.

That time was enough to eclipse Hiroaki Ishiura in the sister #38 Cerumo Supra by 0.233s, as Ishiura set his best time with just six minutes left of the two-hour session.

Nissan driver Ronnie Quintarelli’s early benchmark of 1m28.848s was good enough for third ahead of another late improver, Yuhi Sekiguchi in the #36 TOM’S Supra, and the Impul Nissan of Daiki Sasaki. Best of the Hondas was ARTA newcomer Fukuzumi in sixth.

Fastest in the GT300 class was the #34 Drago Corse Honda NSX GT3 of Australian driver Jake Parsons, who set the fastest time of 1m37.412s in the closing stages of the afternoon.

Nobuteru Taniguchi was just 0.009s adrift in the #4 Goodsmile Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, followed by the LEON Racing Mercedes of Naoya Gamou another 0.024s back.

SUPER GT testing times Day 1 (GT500 class):

Pos. No. Team/Car Drivers Morning time Afternoon time
1 100 Kunimitsu Honda

Naoki Yamamoto

Tadasuke Makino

1’29.063 1’27.870
2 36 TOM’S Toyota

Yuhi Sekiguchi

Sacha Fenestraz

1’29.006 1’27.904
3 17 Real Honda

Koudai Tsukakoshi

Yu Kanamaru

1’29.124 1’27.973
4 39 SARD Toyota

Yuichi Nakayama

Kenta Yamashita

1’29.339 1’27.981
5 37 TOM’S Toyota

Nick Cassidy

Ryo Hirakawa

1’29.126 1’28.174
6 8 ARTA Honda

Tomoki Nojiri

Nirei Fukuzumi

1’29.047 1’28.283
7 16 Mugen Honda

Hideki Mutoh

Ukyo Sasahara

1’29.648 1’28.405
8 24 Kondo Nissan

Jann Mardenborough

Mitsunori Takaboshi

1’30.285 1’28.556
9 14 Cerumo Toyota

Kazuya Oshima

Sho Tsuboi

1’28.482 1’28.742
10 19 Bandoh Toyota

Ritomo Miyata

Yuji Kunimoto

1’30.288 1’28.677
11 64 Nakajima Honda

Takuya Izawa

Hiroki Otsu

1’30.123 1’28.757
12 38 Cerumo Toyota

Hiroaki Ishiura

Yuji Tachikawa

1’28.715 1’28.855
13 23 NISMO Nissan

Ronnie Quintarelli

Tsugio Matsuda

1’28.848 1’28.833
14 3 B-Max Nissan

Kohei Hirate

Katsumasa Chiyo

1’30.066 1’28.934
15 12 Impul Nissan

Daiki Sasaki

Kazuki Hiramine

1’29.025 1’29.032

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