Home » March 2012
Ferrari's Alonso wins Malaysian Grand Prix

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso won a dramatic Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday, giving the Italian team one of its more unlikely victories in its long history.

In a race that was stopped for 51 minutes because of rain, Alonso looked like he'd be overtaken by Sauber's Sergio Perez until the Mexican ran off the track with six laps to go, giving the Ferrari enough of a gap to hang on.
Ferrari had been considered to be in crisis after a poor start to the season, but a superb display of wet-weather driving gave Alonso a memorable victory. Perez's second-place finish was Sauber's best-ever.
Pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton of McLaren finished third ahead of Red Bull's Mark Webber and Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen.


1   F Alonso (Ferrari)
2   S Perez  (Sauber)
3   L Hamilton (McLaren)
4   M Webber (Red Bull)
5   K Raikkonen (Lotus)
6   B Senna (Williams)
7   P Di Resta (Force India)
8   J Vergne (Toro Rosso)
9   N Hulkenberg (Force India)
10 M Schumacher (Mercedes)
11 S Vettel (Red Bull)
12 D Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)
13 N Rosberg (Mercedes)
14 J Button (McLaren)
15  F Massa (Ferrari)
16  V Petrov (Caterham)
17  T Glock (Marussia)
18  H Kovalainen (Caterham)
19  C Pic (Marussia)
20  N Karthikeyan (HRT)
21  P de la Rosa (HRT)
DNF P Maldonado (Williams)
DNF K Kobayashi (Sauber)
DNF R Grosjean (Lotus)

Is this Eric Clapton's one-off Ferrari?

Ferrari has been known to produce one-off vehicles for customers, most notably the F430-based SP1 created for a wealthy Japanese collector in 2008 as well as the P540 Superfast Aperta created on the 599 FTB Fiorano platform in 2009.

Now, Ferrari Special Projects program has built a third vehicle, this time for musician Eric Clapton, who is known to be a passionate Ferrari collector.

The car looks to be based on the 458 Italia and has distinct styling references to the 12-cylinder Ferrari 512 BB built in the late 1970s and early 1980s with a large lower grille, hood slats and flying buttresses at the rear. Judging from the photos, the interior appears to be relatively unchanged from the 458 Italia, and the mid-mounted 4.5-liter V8 is likely still in place as well.

Button wins F1 season-opener in Australia

McLaren’s Jenson Button won the Australian Grand Prix for the third time ahead of world champion Sebastian Vettel in an incident-packed season opener on Sunday.   

Button’s fellow Briton and team mate Lewis Hamilton, who started on pole, finished third behind the German to round out the podium while Vettel’s team mate Mark Webber was fourth, his best ever finish in his 11th attempt to win his home race.

Fernando Alonso drove a spirited race to finish fifth for Ferrari ahead of the Sauber of Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi after Williams driver Pastor Maldonado crashed out on the final lap while running sixth.

Kimi Raikkonen, one of six former world champions in the field, also impressed on his return from two years out of the sport to finish seventh for Lotus after starting 17th on the grid.

Mexican Sergio Perez had started right from the back after changing his gearbox overnight but finished a creditable eighth, the same place he claimed on his Formula One debut here last year before he and Kobayashi were disqualified for technical infringements.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo finished ninth on his home race debut for Toro Rosso despite an accident at the start, while the last point was won by Force India’s Paul Di Resta in 10th.

1. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes 58 laps 1hr 34m 09.565s
2. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault +00m 02.1s
3. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes +00m 04.0s
4. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault +00m 04.5s
5. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 21.5s
6. Kamui Kobayashi Japan Sauber-Ferrari +00m 36.7s
7. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Lotus-Renault +00m 38.0s
8. Sergio Perez Mexico Sauber-Ferrari +00m 39.4s
9. Daniel Ricciardo Australia Toro Rosso-Ferrari +00m 39.5s
10. Paul di Resta Britain Force India-Mercedes +00m 39.7s

Kovalainen Reveals Angry Birds Helmet

Heikki Kovalainen has changed his helmet design on the eve of the 2012 season.
Kovalainen’s new helmet carries the branding of hit game Angry Birds:

Audi in Talks to Buy Ducati

Audi is in talks to buy Ducati, the famous Italian bike company from owner Investindustrial SpA, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Audi, which has the right of first refusal on a purchase until mid-April, is considering a total price of about 850 million euros ($1.12 billion) for the Italian company, which would include assuming some 800 million euros in liabilities, according to one people who declined to be identified.

The Financial Times reported last month Investindustrial was looking to sell the motorbike brand for up to 1 billion euros, three times its initial investment.

Investindustrial, the majority owner of Ducati, best known for its premium and professional racing bikes, declined to comment.
According to Reuters, Ducati had expanded its market share in the countries where it was active from 8.5 percent in 2010 to 10.7 percent in 2011. It introduced two significant new models in the last year, the Diavel and the 1199 Panigale.

Aside from the financial implications, a takeover by a major corporation such as VW would make sense for Ducati due to the huge advantages in terms of investment and access to new technology.

Loeb wins Rally Mexico

Sébastien Loeb has won round 3 of the World Rally Championship, Rally Mexico.
The Frenchman never turned a wheel wrong over the 400+ kilometres over the three days of running in the Mexican high-altitude. From the frenetic street stages, to the rock strewn gravel sectors, Loeb was in control on this his 69th career WRC victory.
In the Power Stage it was Petter Solberg taking the three bonus points for best time ahead of Loeb and Mads Ostberg. Loeb now has a 16 point lead in the championship from Hirvonen.
Jari-Matti Latvala had a rollercoaster weekend with plenty of brilliant fast times, but punctures and broken front suspension dropped him back from the two Citroens. On the mega 54.3km Guanajuatito stage he rolled up his Fiesta, destroying the front end of the Ford. Then the FIA ruled that Latvala could not continue on and he leaves Mexico with no points !
Mikko Hirvonen’s runner-up finish is a fine result, taking into account Rally Mexico was just his third event in the DS3 and who happens to be his Citroen team-mate.
Petter Solberg salvages a podium spot for Ford after what was a trying weekend of repeated punctures for the Norwegian after he had gone quickest in qualifying and SS1. Mads Ostberg kept his driving neat and tidy to take fifth, ahead of Ott Tanak. Nasser Al-Attiyah excited the spectators with his enthusiastic driving style and demeanour. Armindo Araujo, Sébastien Ogier in the VW run Skoda Fabia S2000, American showman Ken Block and local driver Ricardo Trevino complete the points scoring order.

1 Sébastien Loeb Citroen DS3 WRC
2 Mikko Hirvonen Citroen DS3 WRC +42.4s
3 Petter Solberg Ford Fiesta RS WRC+2:11.4s
4 Mads Ostberg Ford Fiesta RS WRC +4:51.5s
5 Ot Tanak Ford Fiesta RS WRC +5:02.6s
6 Nasser Al-Attiyah Citroen DS3 WRC + 6:41.4s
7 Arlindo Araujo Mini JCW WRC +12:46.9s
8 Sébastien Ogier  Skoda Fabia S2000 +14:57.8s
9 Ken Block Ford Fiesta RS WRC +22:26.8s
10 Ricardo Trivino Ford Fiesta RS WRC +23:30.7s

1 Loeb 66 points
2 Hirvonen 50
3 P. Solberg 47
4 Latvala 32
5 Ostberg 28
6 Novikov 21
7 Sordo 18
8 Tanak 14
9 Delecour 8
= Al-Attiyah 8 

Geneva 2012: new Mercedes A-Class

Staying close to the stunning design of the Concept A-Class seen at the Shanghai motor show last year, the new car apparently sits 18cm closer to the ground than its dowdy predecessor. That bold face and sweeping lines lend it a very aggressive, coupe-ish feel, and Merc has promised us a "high-quality" interior to match.

The new A-Class will get two petrol engines - a 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre - producing 115bhp, 156bhp and 211bhp, the latter badged as A 250. The 1.6-litre four-pot will also debut Merc's new ‘Camtronic' system, which adjusts the valve lift on the intake side to restrict the amount of fresh mixture used under partial load.
The diesel engines come in the shape of the A 180 producing 109bhp, the A 200 with 136bhp and the 2.2-litre A 220 with 170bhp and 258lb ft of torque. All engines come with start/stop as standard, and you can opt for a six-speed manual or Merc's 7G-DCT dual-clutch auto.

More details and trim levels to follow closer to its launch date, but here's one more thing to nibble on.

Cristiano Ronaldo stopped in the streets of Madrid after a breakdown in his Lamborghini Aventador

Honda Civic Type R is back

Hot hatch Honda legend is set to return – and the new Civic Type R will have a turbo engine

The next Honda Civic Type R will not only be the fastest version yet – it’s tipped to be Honda’s first-ever turbo road car. And our sources in Japan say tuning expert Mugen is already well underway with development.

The Type R has already achieved cult status in the UK – Europe’s biggest hot hatch market – thanks to its combination of a high-revving naturally aspirated engine and aggressive styling. But in order to meet emissions regulations, this latest model will tweak the formula slightly.

Instead of the previous 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine, it will use a 2.0-litre turbo designed to comply with Euro V emissions regulations. A similar engine will feature in Honda’s 2012 British Touring Car Championship challenger.

Adding a turbo will give more torque lower in the rev range, so a higher gear can be used more often to boost efficiency. Stop-start is also likely to be fitted.

Honda will increase the Type R’s output – but not by much. A figure of 210bhp would allow a 0-62mph time of less than 6.5 seconds and a top speed approaching 150mph.

Based on the new Civic seen at last month’s Frankfurt Motor Show, the Type R gets the standard car’s front grille, slim headlights and LED daytime running lights, although most of the bodywork will be uprated.

A front end with large mesh air intakes, a lower chin spoiler and chunky side skirts will boost the visual impact, while a rear diffuser and extended spoiler  aim to increase stability at high speeds. Also helping the car’s balance in corners is the standard Civic’s longer, wider chassis; this should also improve ride comfort and grip.

In a break from tradition that matches the turbocharged Ford Focus ST – a key competitor for the Type R – Honda will offer the car as a five-door only. Prices are expected to start from around £23,000 when it arrives in 2013.

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta Revealed

The Ferrari F12 Berlinetta has been officially unveiled ahead of the Geneva Motor Show.

The replacement for the 599 has a number of improvements over the outgoing model. Horsepower gets a massive bump, from 611 to 730; 509 lb-ft of torque is on tap, with 80 percent available at just 2,500 rpm. Curb weight drops from 3,722 pounds to 3,362 pounds, 56 percent of which rests over the rear axle. The F12 has a drag coefficient of 0.299 and stronger downforce compared with the 599, and structural rigidity improves by 20 percent. The all-new aluminum chassis was designed by Scaglietti and incorporates a dozen alloys. Basically, it's everything you want in a next-step Ferrari: stronger, stiffer, lighter and more powerful.

Also, it's gorgeous. The F12 Berlinetta, a styling collaboration between Pininfarina and Ferrari's in-house styling team, is lower and shorter compared with the 599, with a long hood, prominent headlights, the same slick grille seen on the FF and a sweeping, muscular frame.
As expected, the F12 is based on a mid-front-engine configuration with a transaxle layout. The 599's 6-speed automated manual transmission is out, replaced by an F1-style dual-clutch gearbox. The naturally aspirated 6.3-liter V12 engine -- cylinders are banked at 65 degrees -- help push the F12 to a top speed of 211 mph and can blast the car from standstill to 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds. Its time around the Fiorano circuit, at 1:23, is faster than any other Ferrari of the road-going variety.

Fiat 500 Abarth ad with Charlie Sheen