McLaren Mercedes

February 9, 2009 by  
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Bruce McLaren was the founder of the McLaren F1 Team. He was born on 30 August 1937, and started his interest in racing by competing in motorcycle races, before moving over to cars. It was the heritage he left behind after his death in 1970 that formed the platform for a world known racing team, and a name that is carried with pride.

The partnership between McLaren and Mercedes started in 1995. It was a year full of new beginnings that not only included Mercedes as their new engine partner, but new regulations as well. Mercedes was the fourth engine partner since the 1970’s and there was a lot on the line. The new Mercedes engine, which was designed and built according to the new regulations, was smaller than the engine McLaren had used previously. This made the car design teams’ life a lot simpler. Refinement details on the engine and chassis meant that the units were almost completely new, and McLaren Mercedes worked hard on the balancing problems that came to the forefront in 1996. The new engine was modified with regard to its mid-range torque, and McLaren Mercedes managed to make the unit lighter and increase its power by 5%. By 1999, McLaren Mercedes had become a force to be reckoned with on the racing track.

The new century kicked off with close rivalry between McLaren’s Mika Häkkinen and Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher. Following Häkkinen’s retirement from Formula One at the end of the 2001 season, Kimi Räikkönen stepped into his position on McLaren’s F1 Team. The 2003 F1 season started off well enough with teammates Coulthard and Räikkönen each claiming a victory for the first two races, but rival teams soon caught up. The unreliability of McLaren’s newly developed MP4-18 put the team at a disadvantage as they were forced to use the older MP4-17D model car. Nevertheless, Räikkönen proved his impressive driving skills by consistently finishing in the points, closing the season just two points short of victory. Car problems continued to plague McLaren during the 2004 season, but Räikkönen managed to clinch a victory at the 2004 Belgian Grand Prix breaking the winning streak of Michael Schumacher. 2005 saw Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya teaming up with Räikkönen for most of the season, but persistent car problems robbed Räikkönen of possible victories. The 2006 F1 season presented a number of challenges, including Montoya crashing into Räikkönen on the start line, putting them both out of the United States 2006 Grand Prix. This resulted in Montoyo parting company with the team. After the Italian Grand Prix that same year, Räikkönen signed with Ferrari to replace Michael Schumacher.

Dissent in the McLaren team during 2007, as well as a scandal regarding the team being found guilty of obtaining technical information of a rival team, were some of the setbacks to be dealt with, and at the end of the season, Fernando Alonso was released from his contract after just one season. Both the 2008 and 2009 season saw the McLaren F1 team recover to some extent, with Lewis Hamilton and Heikkii Kovalainen as drivers. At the end of the 2008 season, Hamilton became the youngest ever driver to win the Formula One Driver’s Championship. It was also the first time in nine years that McLaren had clinched this title.

For 2010, the McLaren F1 Team has a contract with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, both world champions with promising careers ahead of them. This double champion driver line-up, the first for McLaren since the Senna/Prost partnership in 1989, along with the new MP4-25 car, promises great things for the coming year.

McLaren F1 Team

February 9, 2009 by  
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The McLaren Motor Racing team was first founded in 1963 by New Zealander Bruce McLaren. The team’s Grand Prix debut was made at the Monaco track in 1966 and, despite some early technical difficulties, Team McLaren has never looked back. By 1968 the team had earned their first win with Bruce McLaren himself behind the wheel at the Belgium Grand Prix. Today the McLaren F1 Racing Team is seen as one of the most successful Formula One teams. Their Grand Prix successes are surpassed only by Ferrari and for quite some time they dominated the world of Grand Prix racing.

Not long after McLaren’s first Grand Prix win in 1968, driver James Hunt won the team’s first Driver’s Championship. That was in 1976 and the win was a sign of things to come. By 1984, Niki Lauda won a Grand Prix Championship on behalf of the McLaren team, and the 1980’s proved to be a phenomenal decade for the team. In fact, McLaren emerged to completely dominate the Formula One racing scene. However, the team’s success started to fade about midway through the 1990’s when Honda decided to drop out of Formula One racing. The team then went through a period of experimentation – switching from manufacturer to manufacturer in an attempt to find a winning combination. Eventually McLaren found that the Mercedes-Ilmor engine showed promise and they started a slow climb back to success. At about this time Team McLaren also lost their Marlboro sponsorship and subsequent trade-mark red and white livery. The team took up the silver Mercedes livery in its place and the change could be said to be an appropriate display of the ending of one period for the team and the beginning of another.

Mercedes has continued to supply the team’s engines and today the full name of the team is Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, acknowledging both of its primary sponsors. It is based in Woking, Surrey in the UK and the team principle is Ron Dennis. As at the end of the 2009 season, McLaren had won 8 Constructor Championships, 12 Driver Championships, and notched up 164 victories. The McLaren team has World Championship winners Lewis Hamilton (2008) and Jenson Button (2009) as its principle drivers for the 2010 F1 Grand Prix Championship, with the new MP4-25 as the car of the year.

Hockenheimring

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Hockenheimring, or Hockenheimring Baden-Wurttemberg, is located near the town of Hockenheim, situated in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. This circuit is the host to the Formula One German Grand Prix, and many other racing events.

The Hockenheimring was constructed in the Rhine Valley in 1932, and was built due to the closing of the Wildpark-Circuit that was located in Karlsruhe, by German Officials. In its early years, the Hockenheimring Circuit was used for motorcycle races, but in 1936 it became a test track for Auto Union and for Mercedes-Benz. The circuit was renamed to Kurpfalzring in 1938, but the name only lasted until the year 1947 before reverting to its original name. Grand Prix motorcycle racing was held here after the war, alternating between Hockenheim and other racing circuits.

Originally, Hockenheimring consisted of an eight kilometer track, that had two long straights, with a U-turn and an outstretched eastern corner running through the forest and joining the two straights together. The Autobahn A6 separated the main part of the track from the village in 1965, and it brought about the construction of the “Motodrom” stadium and a new Hockenheimring Circuit version. Crash barriers and two chicanes were added after Jim Clark had a fatal accident in a Formula 2 race in the year 1968. An additional chicane was added in 1980, to the Ostkurve, after another driver, Patrick Depailler, lost his life.

Formula One Officials requested that the Hockenheimring circuit be shortened in 2000, as the track was 6.8 kilometers, and gave the state government of Baden-Wurttemberg an ultimatum that either the circuit must be shortened, or they would move the event to another circuit. The state government received financing and commissioned Hermann Tilke to redesign the circuit before the 2002 German Grand Prix. The redesign had most of the stadium section remain the same, except for a much tighter corner in Turn 1 and new surfacing. The circuit was shortened to the extreme, which cut off the entire forest section and replaced it with more tight corners. The tight hairpin corner that was added to follow a long straight, has presented drivers with another opportunity for overtaking. A large stand that is sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, gives the Hockenheimring Circuit a spectator capacity of 120,000. It also has a quarter-mile track that hosts drag racing, with the Nitro Olympics being the biggest event in Europe.

The German Grand Prix was hosted by the Hockenheimring Circuit for the first time in 1970, and from 1971 to 1976 the German Grand Prix was hosted by Nurburgring. During the years 1977 to 2006, the German Grand Prix moved back to the Hockenheimring Circuit, with the exception of 1985. It was decided that from 2007, starting with Nurburgring, the German Grand Prix will alternate between Nurburgring and the Hockenheimring Circuit.

Production Vehicles

February 9, 2009 by  
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Production vehicles come in all shapes and sizes, from family cars to off-road vehicles and much, much more. Each production vehicle manufacturer will create a number of models for mass production, thus providing people with a wide choice of vehicles to suit their needs and budgets. The auto production industry is a perfect example of market forces in action – successful vehicles sell in great quantities and for a long time, while models rejected by the market are soon withdrawn. The history of the automibile reflects the changing tastes of the buying public, whose demands are quickly met by the production vehicles designed and produced by automakers worldwide – and competition for consumer dollars is fierce.

In the United States, the main manufacturers of production vehicles are General Motors, Ford and Chrysler (now officially DaimlerChrysler) – traditionally known as ‘The Big Three’. There used to be many more independent automakers, but almost all have gone out of business or have been absorbed by their larger rivals. Some of these bygone makers of American production vehicles were Studebaker, Packard, Hudson, Nash, Willys and Kaiser. A few of these small independent manufacturers joined forces to form American Motors (AMC), but even this wasn’t enough to ensure survival and AMC was bought out by Chrysler in the mid 1970s.

Foreign production vehicles began arriving on American shores after the Second World War. Names like MG, Triumph and Jaguar (England), Volkswagen and Mercedes (Germany), Fiat and Alfa Romeo (Italy) and Renault (France) achieved varying amounts of success here. However, it was the Japanese who have made the biggest impact, and are now the largest foreign-owned manufacturers of production vehicles in the USA. Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda and Subaru are the biggest names and most successful.

Many types of production vehicles are manufactured to directly meet certain automotive needs. Jeep specializes in off-road vehicles that are able to cope with rough terrain and are perfect for adventurous people who want to explore. Porsche and Lamborghini are well known for their powerful and luxurious sports cars. If there’s a recognizable need in the market, you can be sure the automakers will address it with a new production vehicle!

Vintage Car Racing

February 9, 2009 by  
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Vintage car racing continues to grow in popularity, and as time goes by, more cars are eligible to compete in this sport which is as much about ‘Show’ as it is about ‘Go’. Vintage car racing has broad appeal to all age groups. Older fans can reminisce about the races they attended in their youth or watched on television, while younger fans are enticed by the retro styling and back to basics design that ruled racing before technology entered onto the scene.

One of the most famous car races of the post-war era was the Carrera Panamericana that was run between 1950 and 1955 across a rough and uneven Mexican course. This race was truly legendary, with Mercedes and Porsche battling American makes such as Lincoln (yes, Lincoln) for the glory of road racing victory. Porsche later celebrated their successes in the race by using the ‘Carrera’ name on some of their more sporty models. The race was revived in the 1980s and is now run by vintage vehicles. I guess one could say, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’.

In the US, vintage auto racing’s home is the historic racetrack at Watkins Glen NY. The track celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998 by hosting the Zippo U.S. Vintage Grand Prix. The event was so well attended and received that the ‘Zip’ has become an annual event. Not only original racecars, but also their original drivers, are featured in the Grand Prix Festival Race Reenactment that runs on the original 6.6 mile long circuit winding its way through the village of Watkins Glen.

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