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F1 2013 Australia - Raikkonen and Lotus triumph

F1 2013 Australia - Raikkonen and Lotus triumph | Car World |

Kimi Raikkonen put himself on top Down Under with an emphatic and unexpected victory for Lotus in the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.

After qualifying everybody had expected Red Bull domination, but that went wrong right from the start. Sebastian Vettel led confidently, but Mark Webber immediately fell from second to seventh as the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso exploded into second and third places ahead of the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg which sandwiched Raikkonen’s Lotus.

The Finn soon disposed of the silver arrows, and began his chase of the three breakaway leaders.

Vettel was the first of them to change his supersoft Pirelli tyres, on lap seven, followed by leader Massa on lap eight, then leader Alonso and Raikkonen on nine. That left Hamilton in the lead and he stayed there until lap 12, whereupon Rosberg led briefly before Adrian Sutil, who had started 11th for Force India on medium compound tyres, seized the initiative. For the second race in succession, a Force India led.

The German, making his first start since 2011, stayed there ahead of Vettel, Massa, Alonso and Raikkonen until pitting on the 21st lap. Vettel did likewise, and Massa a lap later. But crucially, Alonso had stopped on the 20th, and was thus able to leapfrog the group ahead of him - Sutil, Vettel and Massa - when they made their stops. He thus took over second place when Hamilton stopped again on the 31st lap. By then Rosberg had dropped out with electrical problems. Massa, meanwhile, left it too long and dropped from first to seventh when he pitted on the 23rd lap.

Now Raikkonen led, and it soon emerged that Lotus had chosen a two-stop strategy - as opposed to the popular three-stop strategy of the other leading contenders - and were able to make it work. He clung on up front until the 34th lap, which then put Alonso and Vettel into the top two places, and soon the Ferrari was leaving the Red Bull behind. Vettel found his car good for a couple of laps on new rubber, but after that it began to destroy it. Red Bull might have owned qualifying, but Lotus and Ferrari had the upper hand in the race.

Soon after Vettel stopped for the third time on lap 37, and Alonso on 39, Raikkonen caught and passed Sutil on the 43rd, and that was the crucial point for him. In clear air he could now control everything. Even when Alonso quickly moved in on the Force India, it became evident that the Lotus was a better package with which Raikkonen could dictate the race.

Behind them, Vettel had nothing left and had to settle for third, as Massa climbed back to fourth. He was a little disgruntled about his earlier pit stop, but fourth was a solid result on a circuit that doesn’t favour his style which relies heavily on traction.

Hamilton looked racy early on as his Mercedes went 12 laps on the supersofts, but though his lap times were competitive at times, the F1 W04 lacked the sheer pace to run with the big boys. He was able to reel in Sutil, however, as the German struggled for the final 12 laps on the supersofts.

After his disaster, an unhappy Webber fought back to sixth, setting some fastest laps on the way, and he also passed Sutil in the closing stages. Sutil clung on for seventh after a great comeback, as team mate Paul di Resta looked threatening until a moment on the final tour dropped him back.

McLaren had a deeply troubled outing, and Jenson Button was the first to swap from supersofts to mediums as early as the fourth lap. He ran in the lower midfield, fighting with Lotus’s Romain Grosjean for much of the race after the Frenchman made a terrible start. They crossed the line within 1.1s of each other, as the Lotus driver battled to hold off Button’s team mate Sergio Perez. Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne, who set the second fastest lap after a late tyre stop, was also in this fight after a feisty race, but dropped down to 12th after a move on Grosjean failed to come off.

Esteban Gutierrez was Sauber’s sole runner after Nico Hulkenberg had to vacate 11th place on the grid because of a fuel system problem which prevented him from starting. The Mexican kept out of trouble to take the rookie honours from Valtteri Bottas, who did what Williams team mate Pastor Maldonado failed to do by keeping his FW35 on the track.

Fellow rookie Jules Bianchi drove a great race for Marussia to beat his Caterham rivals; Charles Pic finished a lap further down than his fellow Frenchman. Behind them, Marussia’s Max Chilton and Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde had a mighty scrap over 17th place, the English rookie finally beating his Dutch counterpart comfortably.

Besides Hulkenberg and Rosberg, Maldonado failed to finish after beaching his Williams and Daniel Ricciardo’s race ended with a broken exhaust on his Toro Rosso.

After one race, Raikkonen leads the drivers’ world championship with 25 points from Alonso on 18, Vettel on 15, Massa on 12, Hamilton on 10, Webber on 8, Sutil on 6, Di Resta on 4, Button on 2 and Grosjean on 1.

Ferrari lead the constructors’ points with 30 to Lotus’s 26, Red Bull’s 23, Mercedes and Force India’s 10 and McLaren’s 2

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If cars were tagged

If cars were tagged | Car World |
New cars already have HF RFID technology and their spare parts are often tracked with UHF RFID. How would the introduction of UHF “car ID-tags” change the manufacturing and distribution processes, not to mention customer service?
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2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta | TOP CARS LIST

2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta | TOP CARS LIST | Car World |
2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta is likely to be one of the favorite cars in 2013.
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First drive: Infiniti Emerg-E concept - BBC Top Gear

First drive: Infiniti Emerg-E concept - BBC Top Gear | Car World |
Vagelis Kelemenis's insight:

First drive: Infiniti Emerg-E concept

Beautiful and huge fun, but Nissan/Infiniti won’t build it. Shame…


Driving a concept car is always a bit of a charade. You have to teeter along, reaching only such a pace that a photo can be taken showing movement (at very long exposure, inevitably). Not this time. It might be electric, but they didn't mind that I went out in torrential rain - and remember, it's driven by electricity.

I had my fun, not on some flat and obstacle-free tarmac lake, but on the tricky and aptly-named Alpine Course at the Millbrook test centre. I'd neglected to ask if it had traction control and got my answer by jabbing its 408bhp as I came out of a bend and finding I'd got it majorly sideways. Because its steering doesn't conform to the concept-car norm of being entirely rubbish, I was able to gather it up and proceed with a smile on my face.


It has been driven properly by Sebastian Vettel, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. It's an engineering prototype, not a concept car. Oh sure, it also does the usual concept-car duties: it made headlines in Geneva for the under-recognised Infiniti brand, and it showed us things about the general Infiniti design language.

It's a looker, no? And it embodies intensive aerodynamic research too. But sadly, Nissan's not going to put it into production. Nissan is using it to learn about electric tech for its future EVs, hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles.

It emerg-es (sorry) from a collaboration on range-extended electric vehicles between Nissan's European tech centre in Cranfield and Lotus and Jaguar-Land Rover, using British suppliers: Xtrac transmission, Lola composites, Amberjac batteries and Evo Electric motors, of their unique axial flux type.

Under the skin, it resembles the Lotus Evora 414E one-off. Its aluminium structure has a longer wheelbase, dictated by the stylists. But its carbon-fibre body uses all sorts of careful material selection, so it's 160kg lighter than the Lotus.

We've seen range-extender vehicles before from both Chevy and Fisker, but this package gains by using a special three-cylinder Lotus engine that's designed for the job. It does all its work at 3,500rpm (or is idling or switched off), so it doesn't need variable induction or valve gear.

So it's simple, light, compact and potentially cheap. It makes an odd drone unrelated to your speed, so it'd need active noise in a real sports car. Also the regen brakes feel laggy when you release the pedal, and the motors aren't smooth at very low speeds. Minor matters.

But the electric performance has advantages over most cars of any propulsion type: urgent, progressive, immediate and uninterrupted by gearshifts. And when the batteries can't cope, the little petrol donkey chimes in. Because the steering and handling are utterly gorgeous, you're tempted to use that energy pretty hard.

1200cc, 3cyl, two motors, RWD, 408bhp, 811lb ft, 118mpg, 55g/km CO2, 0-62mph in 4.8secs, 134mph, 1598kg £ n/a

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This... is the Mercedes A 45 AMG - BBC Top Gear

This... is the Mercedes A 45 AMG - BBC Top Gear | Car World |

This... is the Mercedes A 45 AMG. 

Nestled within that angry, bloated and flared Mercedes A-Class you see above is the most powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine... in the world. Welcome to the Mercedes A 45 AMG. And welcome to a new dawn for the hot hatch.

That engine pumps out 360 bhp and 450 Nm of torque, or 181 bhp per litre: a lot, by any standards, let alone those of the ‘hot hatch'. Cars like the Renault 5 Turbo and Peugeot 205 Gti, packing 150ish bhp, used to be known as 'pocket rockets'. With this hand-built engine - still adhering to AMG's 'one-man, one-engine' philosophy - things are definitely more 'Scud missile'. You even get the engineer's signature, all the better for tracing the man responsible for setting off car alarms when this thing is coaxed into life.

AMG's standard modus operandi - lots of power sent to the rear, lots of tyre smoke - has been ditched in favour of a lightweight AMG 4MATIC all-wheel drive system. The A 45's got big sticky rubber on all four corners and is predominately front-wheel-drive but, when it's needed, up to 50 per cent of the power is sent to the rear. It all goes through AMG's seven-speed DCT ‘box - which changes at the same speed as an SLS GT. 
So with the help of launch control, the 360 bhp, all-wheel-drive A 45 AMG will go from 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds; faster than a BMW M135i and on par with Audi's RS3. Being German, it's wearing a velocity belt that prevents it from going over 155 mph. 
Mercedes reckons the A 45 carries true AMG DNA, and it certainly looks the part: aggressive lines, a new chin and rear, bigger cooling ducts and a plush interior. Underneath, it sits on AMG springs and is stopped by huge AMG brakes.

We've already had a shotgun ride in a prototype. And even though the engine is dwarfed by standard AMG V8s and V12s, there's nothing to worry about when it comes to the noise. It has the classic AMG-burble, and on lift-off, it sounds like popcorn is being made in the exhaust. There's an exhaust flap too, so if you're taking it easy and trying to get the claimed 40 mpg, it'll be nice and quiet. But if you're hard of hearing, or like things on the loud side, you can spec an AMG Performance exhaust to take things up a notch. You should tick this box very much ‘yes'.

Price is yet to be confirmed, but AMG are apparently targeting a younger audience who it hopes will have around £35,000 spare when it goes on sale in April. A tad more than the BMW M135i (one Top Gear's cars of 2012 year, remember), but crucially, cheaper than an Audi RS3. Which would you have?

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Porsche Cars GB celebrates 50th anniversary of 911 with ‘project 50’ historic race car

Porsche Cars GB celebrates 50th anniversary of 911 with ‘project 50’ historic race car | Car World |
to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the 911, Porsche Cars GB will be racing a classic example of the iconic sports coupe in Historic motor sport this year.
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New York motor show: Infiniti QX60 | Autocar

New York motor show: Infiniti QX60 | Autocar | Car World |
Infiniti's replacement for the FX50 will be available with a hybrid option (New York motor show: Infiniti QX60 #Cars)
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Barcelona day four - Hamilton quickest as second test ends

Barcelona day four - Hamilton quickest as second test ends | Car World |

Lewis Hamilton set the pace for Mercedes as the second pre-season test of 2013 drew to a close in Barcelona amid damp conditions on Friday. 

Heavy downpours resulted in the first two hours of running being blighted by red flags as drivers struggled to keep their cars on the slippery circuit. However, track conditions soon improved and, in a flurry of activity before lunch, Hamilton leapt to the top of the timesheets with a short run on medium-compound tyres. 

Sadly for the teams, the rain returned after lunch meaning that none of the drivers was able to better his time in the afternoon session and any meaningful running was severely limited. 

“The conditions today meant that we didn't complete as many laps we would have done in the dry but we have gone through the test items that we wanted to achieve this week,” said Hamilton. 

“We have been working on our consistency over long runs and we managed one run this morning on dry tyres; the car felt okay but the conditions were also very cool, so we cannot draw too many conclusions.” 

Hamilton’s former team mate Jenson Button ended up with the second-quickest time of the day for McLaren, with Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne in third.

“Another productive day, even with the rain,” said an upbeat Vergne. “We had many things to test, especially on the aero side and I feel we got some good answers. 

“Later, it was useful for me to drive on the extreme and intermediate Pirellis and I got a good understanding of how they behave, even if the conditions were extremely cold, so it was actually surprising we had rain and not snow! Now I am looking forward to the final test, which will be very important for everyone.”

Jules Bianchi did his chances of landing the second seat at Force India no harm by ending the day in fourth place, whilst Esteban Gutierrez - one of several drivers to end up in the gravel in the morning - clocked the fourth-fastest time for Sauber. 

“For me it was the very first time I had driven a Formula One car in the wet,” said Gutierrez. “It was particularly interesting in the morning, when the track was wet to begin with and then started to dry out. 

“I was able to drive with dry tyres in very tricky conditions, which was a situation I could experience in a race. It was important for me to feel this change in conditions. In the afternoon I got the opportunity to compare the intermediate tyres with the full wets. I learned so much today. This was just what I needed.”

Behind Gutierrez, Giedo van der Garde took advantage of the conditions to deliver Caterham’s best position on the timesheets in testing so far.

“Despite today’s weather it’s been another relatively productive day,” said the Dutchman. “It’s certainly been one of the coldest days I’ve had on track, but even with the cold track temps and the rain that stopped and started we were able to get through quite a bit of work.

“The cold weather meant it might not have been much fun for the fans in the stands, but it was useful to get some laps done on the intermediate tyres as it was my first time in an F1 car in the wet, and to experience the car in the wet/dry conditions we had today. 

“We also tried a couple more ideas to help improve the rear stability but, again, as the tyres weren’t really coming up to temperature we weren’t able to push too hard today.”

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, Red Bull’s Mark Webber, Marussia’s Max Chilton and Lotus’s Romain Grosjean rounded out the top ten.

Williams were the only team not to set a time on Friday, preferring, as they had their full race team with them, to focus on pit-stop practice instead.

“Despite the weather we were able to achieve a lot,” said Valtteri Bottas, who drove the FW35 in the morning session before handing over to team mate Pastor Maldonado in the afternoon. 

“The key things to work on as a driver are braking as late as possible for the pit-lane speed limit to minimise the time lost, perfecting your positioning in the box and finally pulling away quickly and cleanly. 

“It’s really interesting as there are a lot of things to think about, but the better I get, the more trust you build with the pit crew which means they are able to react even quicker. We’ll be doing a few more at the next test but then I feel I will be ready for Melbourne when it comes to pitstops.”

The third and final pre-season test of 2013 runs from February 28-March 3 at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain.

Unofficial Friday test times from Barcelona:
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:23.282, 52 laps
2. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:23.633, 70 laps
3. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:24.071, 80 laps
4. Jules Bianchi, Force India, 1:25.732, 96 laps
5. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber, 1:26.239, 61 laps
6. Giedo van der Garde, Caterham, 1:27.429, 50 laps
7. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:27.563, 80 laps
8. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:27.616, 64 laps
9. Max Chilton, Marussia, 1:29.902, 51 laps
10. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:34.800, 41 laps
11. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, No time, 23 laps
12. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, No time, 13 laps

Unofficial aggregate test times from Barcelona:
1. Sergio Perez, McLaren, 1:21.848, 174 laps
2. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:21.875, 283 laps
3. Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber, 1:22.160, 179 laps
4. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:22.188, 160 laps
5. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:22.197, 150 laps
6. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:22.611, 162 laps
7. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, 1:22.623, 87 laps
8. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:22.675, 178 laps
9. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:22.726, 173 laps
10. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:22.826, 189 laps
11. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:22.840, 141 laps
12. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:22.877, 78 laps
13. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:23.024, 172 laps
14. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:23.366, 186 laps
15. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:23.718, 143 laps
16. Paul di Resta, Force India, 1:23.971, 144 laps
17. Max Chilton, Marussia, 1:25.115, 241 laps
18. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber, 1:25.124, 129 laps
19. Jules Bianchi, Force India, 1:25.732, 96 laps
20. Giedo van der Garde, Caterham, 1:26.177, 133 laps
21. Charles Pic, Caterham, 1:26.243, 151 laps
22. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:27.563, 80 laps

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The 2013 McLaren F1 launch – what did we learn?

The 2013 McLaren F1 launch – what did we learn? | Car World |

arious seasoned F1 observers had a good old poke and prod at the MP4/28 McLaren launched today at its Technology Centre. ‘Hmm’, they murmured authoritatively, and ‘ah, interesting’, while everyone else tried really hard to work out how 2013’s car differed from last year’s fast but erratic charger.

At this stage, not by much. Because the truth is that the flurry of F1 launches – Lotus earlier this week, Red Bull on Sunday, Ferrari on Monday – is more about giving the teams’ sponsors and benefactors a fuzzy glow than unveiling whatever new aero twist or widget the back-room boffins have come up with. Besides, why play your hand at this stage, with six weeks to go before Melbourne? We’ll see more at the first test in Jerez next week, but the real intel won’t emerge until March 15th.

That said, today’s event gave a fascinating insight into where McLaren’s head is at right now. Long vilified for being a bit grey and soulless, I’ve got to say that these guys are much more relaxed and engaging than you’d imagine, and certainly more chilled out than they used to be. It’s McLaren’s 50th anniversary this year, and before we saw this year’s contender we watched a filmed elegy to founder Bruce McLaren, which you can watch below. It bravely acknowledged his premature demise in an accident at Goodwood in 1970 by having an actor walk slowly through debris before pondering his wrecked car. Corporate films are often dreadful snow jobs, but this one hit all the right notes. Bruce, I only discovered today, had one leg an inch and a half shorter than the other, a disability that didn’t hobble his driving. The tragedy of his death isn’t going to hamper McLaren’s celebrations either, by the looks of it.

Bruce’s wasn’t the only ghost in the room. Lewis Hamilton has gone, lured by an almighty Mercedes pay-day and also the prospect of being way ahead of the curve when next year’s V6 turbo hits the track  – Mercedes has been developing it for two years now, and McLaren will be merely a customer in 2014 – and the regulations change massively. For all that today’s launch was a breezy affair, Lewis’s absence was palpable. Sergio Perez is a likeable, laid-back guy – he even admitted he often fell asleep during winter testing because he hated the cold weather – but he wasn’t wearing the McLaren overalls with quite the same panache as Lewis. Maybe he’ll grow into them. Hamilton, complicated and petulant, remains probably the fastest driver in F1 in terms of pure, unadulterated speed. Losing him is bound to hurt, isn’t it?

‘Lewis was a great asset,’ Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh conceded, ‘and we have many great memories of our time working together. But we honestly haven’t spent much time mulling over them this past few weeks. That, perhaps sadly, is the nature of motor racing. You don’t tend to dwell on the past, you look forward…’

Also absent today was McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe, subject of a concerted bid by Mercedes. Whitmarsh confirmed that Lowe will be staying at McLaren for another year, but said that his future was ‘less certain’ beyond that. So why wasn’t he there today? ‘I think it is good that Paddy concentrates on doing his job,’ Whitmarsh said more than a little firmly. ‘It was his decision not to be here today, I don’t think he wanted to create any embarrassment to his team.’

Hmm. I suspect that we’re more likely to see Lowe boasting about his rhododendrons on Gardener’s World before we see him ensconced on the Mercedes pit-lane ‘prat perch’.

In fact, what with Lewis and now Lowe being snaffled, one wonders just how friendly the relationship between Woking and Stuttgart really is these days…

Which brings me to the P1. Jenson arrived inside the MTC on-board it, which appeared to be the limit of his experience in the car. ‘I drove it round the lake,’ he told us in full sarcasm mode when asked by the man from Top Gear – me – what it was like. ‘I’d definitely like more involvement with it. Chris [Goodwin, McLaren Automotive’s chief test driver] has done a great job, but sometimes you need a bit of youth in there… so I’ll give it to Sergio to do…’

Around 30 P1 customers were present today, including Jackie Stewart’s son Paul (who sort of denied he’d bought one), most of whom already had 12Cs, appeared to have had issues with Ferraris they’d owned (‘they fall apart,’ one of the guys said), and liked the Britishness of the P1. To a man, they all regretted not buying the F1 road car when they had the chance. There were rumours a while ago that McLaren was struggling to sell the P1; now it seems the order book is likely to be closed in a matter of weeks.

We’ll see Ferrari’s P1 rival at Geneva, with no word from either rival about just how many of these hybrid hypercars they really are going to produce. The final production numbers really matter when you’re selling a car for close to a million quid, and buyers at that level haven’t got there by making daft investments.

So that’s 2013: the year when the Ferrari v McLaren battle spills off the track and onto the street. Can’t wait.

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New Audi S3 Sportback arrives ahead of Geneva 2013 debut

New Audi S3 Sportback arrives ahead of Geneva 2013 debut | Car World |
The new Audi S3 Sportback - the five-door S3 - has been revealed ahead of a debut at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.
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