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Racing

Nick Heidfeld’s inside line on Formula E’s unique demands

Find out what it takes to be a true racer in the high-performance, all-electric world of Formula E in the latest episode of Mahindra Blueprints.

Since Formula E took the world stage by storm in 2014, its cast of city circuits and electric-powered cars posed an all-new challenge to the drivers who dared to enter.

Mahindra reserve and development driver and ex-Formula E driver Nick Heidfeld answers the most frequently asked questions about how to drive successfully in the championship.

He talks about how to best manage energy in the course of a race, and how Formula E’s demands are unique compared to other series.

Tune in to find out what makes a Formula E driver tick, and how it feels to tackle some of the world’s most recognisable circuits.

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Auto News

Mahindra puts classic SUVs on display in new ad campaign

Mahindra has launched a new digital campaign called ‘The Mahindra Classics’ to commemorate the brand’s automotive heritage. This could be seen as a precursor to the launch of the next generation Thar.

The video starts off with the Willys Jeep that rolled off Mahindra’s production lines in 1949. In the 1950s, Mahindra started building vehicles for the military. The carmaker started selling these off-roaders to civilians in the 1970s.

Models like the 1995 MM550, 1996 Classic and 2000 Major were the predecessors of the Thar, which was launched in 2010.

The next generation Thar is expected to based on a new platform and will be larger than the outgoing model. It will be offered with petrol and diesel engine options with the choice of 6-speed manual and 6-speed automatic transmissions.

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Racing

Experience beats youth on IMS road course – but not by much

Friday’s Firestone Fast Six qualifying for the GMR Grand Prix of Indianapolis headlined a familiar name, but there was an equally engaging sub-plot involving some far less experienced drivers. 

The headline was Will Power doing Will Power-type things on the way to his 58th career Indy car pole, which moved him to within nine poles of matching the all-time pole winner, legend Mario Andretti.

Power’s speed and experience beat youth on this occasion, but not by much. The Australian, who earned his first pole at home in Surfers Paradise in 2006, scored his fourth pole on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course by 0.1874sec over Meyer Shank Racing’s Jack Harvey.

“I left nothing on the table on that lap,” said Power. “I knew that Harvey had a pretty good time up there, so I put my best set [of used Firestone Reds] on for that last round, gave it my all, and fortunately it was enough.” 

Power, who has a career pole percentage of 26% (58 of 223 races), would love nothing better than to catch Andretti. The patriarch of the Andretti family won his final pole at Michigan International Speedway in 1993 and has a career pole percentage of 16.5% (67 of 407 races). 

“That would be amazing to match Mario,” explained Power. “Obviously a massive fan of his. When you look at his career, all the different races and series he’s won in, it would be amazing.

“It’s just amazing having your name up there with him, A.J. [Foyt, 53 poles]. To get to that, that would be really, really cool. I hope that I could do that before my career is out.”

So, depending on your perspective, the ‘old guys’ or the ‘new guys’ could be declared the winners of qualifying. Series veterans Power, Graham Rahal, and Josef Newgarden, who qualified first, fourth and sixth respectively, between them have amassed 569 Indy car starts. 

However, their fellow Firestone Fast Six qualifiers – Harvey, Colton Herta, and rookie Oliver Askew – have a mere 40 starts total.

Asked if winning poles was getting easier or harder, 39-year-old Power, who made his U.S. open-wheel debut back in 2005, replied emphatically: “Harder!

“These young blokes are so fast, man. Look at the Fast Six, you got a rookie in there, Jack, who is pretty much a rookie in IndyCar. No, it doesn’t get easier. It just gets harder. I got fewer and fewer poles per year as I’ve gone on. I really cherish any pole position I get these days.

“You’re lucky to get more than three in a year if you have a really good year. Same with wins. You get more than three wins, you’re winning the championship, I think. It’s tough, man. Very, very hard series now.”

After leading his Q1 group and the Fast 12 qualifying session, Arrow McLaren SP rookie Askew was unable to screw more time from his car when it mattered. The reigning Indy Lights champion blamed this on his inexperience running a set of Firestone Racing alternates (reds) with one heat cycle on them already. But he can rest assured he caught a lot of attention with this showing on the first road course of the season. 

By contrast, 27-year-old Harvey, who was on his way to his first career pole until Power’s last-lap heroics, could only shrug when asked what cost him his shot at top spot.

“Today, it was Will Power doing Will Power-y things. He’s got a lot of poles.”

Yes. Yes he does.

Steve Wittich, TracksideOnline

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Racing

Red Bull keeping beady eye on Mercedes over DAS

Red Bull boss Christian Horner has said a close eye is being kept on Mercedes with their potential DAS usage in Austria this weekend.

Mercedes introduced the innovative dual-axis steering system in the pre-season test at Barcelona and is set to be placed back under scrutiny now that Formula 1 has finally returned from its extended hiatus.

Horner said in the lead-up that the controversial topics such as DAS would all come flooding back and it appears Red Bull are ready and waiting to see if they still have grounds to launch an official protest to the FIA.

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“We are waiting to see if it is fitted to their cars,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.

“Obviously it’s a clever system and a complicated one and we’re after some clarification from the FIA as we have some questions about it.”

As for whether Red Bull would consider using DAS themselves if all is above aboard, Horner added: “It depends what it actually does and achieves.

Everything has to earn its place on the car. It’s a clever system but these rules are so complex…it’s just understanding which part of the regulations it fits in to.”

Strict protocols are in place at the Red Bull Ring in order to protect the health and safety of those present within the Formula 1 paddock.

But more surreal for Horner is that the Formula 1 roadshow is Austria for the first race of the season.

“Well we all look like we are in some kind of hospital programme with all the face masks and PPE,” Horner joked.

“But that’s all been practiced and drilled. It’s an FIA stipulation, but other than that working practices are pretty normal.

“This is day one of the season remember so it’s a little bit odd coming here halfway through the year and this effectively being the first day of the year.”

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Car Reviews

G82 BMW M4 teased on track ahead of September debut – 3L turbo straight-six; up to 510 PS; 6MT, 8AT – paultan.org

After giving us a taste of the upcoming G80 BMW M3 last week, the German carmaker has now dropped another video featuring the G82 BMW M4 lapping the Sachsenring in Germany. While it is certainly entertaining to watch the sports sedan charge around a race track, there is some valuable information to go along with it too.

Firstly, BMW has officially confirmed something that many knew to be true for some time now: the M4 will pack a 3.0 litre turbocharged straight-six engine, which is likely the S58 unit used for the X3 M, X4 M and the M3. The mill comes in two states of tune – 480 PS (473 hp) and 510 PS (503 hp), with up to 650 Nm of torque.

Manual enthusiasts will be pleased to know that the straight-six will be paired to a six-speed manual transmission, with drive going to the rear wheels. An optional eight-speed M Steptronic automatic gearbox will also be offered along with all-wheel drive, although the latter isn’t mentioned in the video. However, with the M3 said to get all-wheel drive – the first time the model gets such a system – it isn’t too far-fetched to assume the M4 will receive the option as well.

Other pieces of information revolve around tyre sizes, with the M4 set to get a staggered setup that sees 275/35ZR19 front and 285/30ZR20 rear rubbers. This isn’t something new, as other carmakers like Porsche also run a mixed-tyre arrangement, with the latest 992 911 Turbo S being a prime example. For those who care about environmental figures, preliminary data for the M4 shows a combined fuel consumption of as low as 10.5 l/100 km, while CO2 emissions is as low as 239 g/km.

Styling-wise, the shadowy vehicle seen towards the end of the video matches up to what we previously saw in a spyshot posted earlier this month. This means a sizeable vertical kidney grille at the front that is joined by large lower intakes and BMW Laserlight headlamps. As for the interior, it is largely similar to the regular G22 4 Series, with a revised centre console to accommodate the manual gear lever and M-specific dials residing within the BMW Live Cockpit system.

The new M4 will officially make its debut in September together with the M3, as confirmed by Markus Flasch, CEO of BMW M in the past. With some time to go until then, this video of the M4 being driven flat out (with plenty of heel-and-toe action) is all you get to enjoy for now. Excited?

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Bikes

Police crackdown on bikers on LPT – 600 stopped – paultan.org

Police cracked down on motorcycle riders speeding on the East Coast Highway (LPT) over the weekend, closing off the road entirely and diverting them for a check. This occurred at the R&R stations at Lanchang and Chenor in Pahang.

Beginning at 2 p.m., the operation, dubbed Ops Tutup Khas went on for three hours, reports Berita Harian. Speaking to the press, Traffic Police Investigation department assistant director I Datuk Mohd Nadzri Hussain, said 600 riders and their motorcycles were examined during operation.

358 summons were issued for various traffic offences and 20 motorcycles were seized. Involving 12 officers and 52 police personnel, assisted by five Department of Environment staff and 10 member of the National Anti Drug Agency, riders were examined for compliance to traffic regulation and their motorcycles for legal compliance, including noise restrictions.

Amongst offences committed were expired licence and road tax as well as illegal modifications. “What I regret most is some of the rider were riding without a rear brake. This is dangerous not only to themselves but also other road users, ” said Nadzri.

Meanwhile, three riders were found to be under the influence of narcotics while seven others were caught for environmental offences. “Many of these riders are youth and we advise them if they are interested in racing the highway is not the place but take it to Sepang instead,” Nadzri said.

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Auto News

MG Hector Plus listed on India website ahead of launch

MG India has listed the Hector Plus on the official website.

The Hector Plus was showcased at the 2020 Auto Expo. The 3-row SUV has been dispatched to dealerships and is expected to be launched next month.

The Hector Plus is based on the regular Hector but comes with three rows of seats and separate captain seats in the second row. The SUV also features minor exterior changes including slightly revised headlamps and a reworked rear section that misses out on the reflector strip that stretches across the tail gate on the 5-seat version.

The Hector Plus is expected to be powered by the same engines as the 5-seat model. These include a 2.0-litre diesel producing 168 BHP and 350 Nm paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox, a 1.5-litre, turbo-petrol engine mated to either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed DCT as well as a 1.5-litre mild-hybrid powertrain.

Thanks to BHPian Venkatesh for sharing this with others.

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Racing

Toto Wolff says F1 will put on a show to counter 'weird' situation

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is confident that Formula 1 can overcome the “weirdness” of the new-look series and entertain in Austria.

As Wolff points out it will be new territory for Formula 1 with races held as closed events as the grandstands stay empty, whilst a host of other safety protocols have been put in place.

And though it will be “weird”, Wolff says it’s necessary to protect everyone present at the race weekend, and F1 will put on a show for the fans when the Austrian Grand Prix gets the 2020 campaign underway next weekend.

“I think we know what to do, I think we know that protecting our staff and everybody who attends is the main priority,” said Wolff in an F1 vodcast, as quoted by Motorsport.com.

“But equally, it’s new ground, we’ve never been in this situation. We’re talking a lot about bubbles, less interaction with the other teams, you guys [the media] and the fans, and that will be a new experience.

“F1 has always been able to take out the positives, and if we’re able to provide a great show on Saturday and Sunday I think that’s going to compensate for the weirdness.”

It seems Wolff is just happy to be back at work, saying he “doesn’t believe” those people who say they love spending more time at home.

“It has been definitely surreal, and everybody who tells me that they love spending more time at home, I don’t quite believe it, because we’re in a fast-paced environment,” he explained.

“We work in some kind of frame, we know when we go racing, we know when we go back to the office, and we know when we go home. Suddenly it’s like pulling a plug out. I miss the competition.”

But really the Formula 1 community hasn’t been relaxing over the extended break – after intense negotiations a lowered budget cap was agreed for next year, as well as various other cost-cutting measures.

“The elephant in the room is that with the 2021 cost cap kicking in, big teams and particularly Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, we need to adapt, we need to change processes, how we do things, how we develop, how we spend on innovation and R&D,” Wolff explained.

“That has been a Mount Everest to climb, and that has been the project that has kept many of us very busy.”

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

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Car Reviews

Racing Driver Casts Opinion On The Porsche Taycan Turbo S

Has the top tier Taycan Turbo S got what it takes to win over a pro racer?

Andy Pilgrim has a lot of racing experience under his belt, including several 24 Hours Of Le Mans races, and he’s also raced in the GT World Challenge America and NASCAR. He therefore sounds like a hard customer to please, when it comes to how sports cars handle and feel, so his take on the most powerful version of the Porsche Taycan, the Turbo S, is relevant and insightful.

He drives the Taycan Turbo S around NCM Motorsports Park in Kentucky for Automobile Magazine, and he really pushes it hard into corners. Most of the time it rotates nicely, but it does also occasionally exhibit understeer. He also almost reaches the car’s to speed of 260 km/h (161 mph) and does a naught to sixty test, which the car manages to complete in 2.45 seconds; it also does the standing quarter-mile in 10.5 seconds at a speed of 214 km/h (133 mph).

Pilgrim seems quite impressed by how well the Taycan blends its immense grip and traction with great body control and its best lap time around the track is 2:15.32 which places it between the Ford Mustang GT350 and the Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE. He does mention that with even stickier tires than what the Taycan had on, it would probably be quicker still.

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Car Reviews

Should You Drop $68,000 On A Tesla Model Y?

Longtime Tesla owner and fan gives us the lowdown on the Model Y crossover.

We’ve read and watched many reviews that call the Tesla Model Y an excellent car. However, we’ve also learned about a fair share of concerns. When considering the whole package, should you really spend over $60,000 on this Tesla crossover?

Ben Sullins has been promoting Tesla for years. He’s a huge fan and has owned several Tesla vehicles. However, more recently he announced that he’d be dropping the ‘Teslanomics’ name and changing his focus somewhat. While he still covers Tesla, he also covers other emerging technologies, companies, products, sustainable energy, etc.

In addition to the above changes, Sullins has taken a bit of a turn to helping people decide whether a Tesla is really right for them, rather than simply sharing how awesome the cars have been for him. This means his focus strayed from simply promoting Tesla, to getting in-depth into the cars and reporting on issues he’s had. This is not to say Sullins doesn’t still have positive things to say about the company, but he’s sure not afraid to share problems and call Tesla out when something’s not right.

With the said, Sullins has already published a video sharing Model Y issues to look out for before taking delivery. Now, he goes a step further and talks about whether or not the crossover is worth the $68,000 he paid for it. Do the pros outweigh the cons? Should you buy a Model 3 instead, or wait until the Model Y is available in less expensive variants?

Check out Sullins’ take. Then let us know yours in the comments section below.

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