Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Formula 1 - Belgian Grand Prix 2011

Spa-Francorchamps track map. This is the longest circuit on the calendar, and one of the drivers' all-time favourites
The Race In A Nutshell:
- Bruno Senna locks up and causes collisions at turn 1, loses front wing, gains drive-thru penalty later
- Nico Rosberg took the lead at Les Combes, but fell back after DRS was enabled
- After first round of pit stops, Webber passes Alonso at Eau Rouge (no mean feat)
- Hamilton and Kobayashi collide braking into Les Combes, Hamilton crashes out at high speed
- Vettel capitalises on resultant Safety Car to take lead post-pitstop
- Big gains as Button goes from 13th to 3rd (leading briefly), Schumacher goes from 24th to 5th

Top 5 Finishers: Vettel, Webber, Button, Alonso, Schumacher

Spa, the only race track in the world shaped like a sub-machine gun, is the closest thing Formula 1 has to the Nürburgring Nordschleife in terms of length, history and difficulty (despite it having the longest flat-out section - from the exit of turn 1 to the braking zone at turn 5 - of any track on the calendar). This year's race marked the 20th anniversary of Michael Schumacher's Formula 1 début at this very track. He's gone from retiring on lap 1 in a Jordan car in 1991 to returning 20 years later as a 7-time world champion, Ferrari legend and 6-time Belgian GP winner (including winning it in 1992, just one year later). Contrastingly, the one considered "Schumacher 2.0" went into this race without a single Belgian win to his name. That didn't stop him qualifying on Pole Position by half a second though...

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Video Sunday - The Greatest Pony Video...... In The World

Uploaded: 13/8/2011
Running Time: 3:28

WAIT! Don't leave! I haven't been sucked into the "Brony" craze and this is worth watching, only because it's so well made. The lip syncing seems dead-on most of the time. Other than that, it pretty much is what it is.

Called "My Little TopGear: Friendship is Ambitious But Rubbish", the audio from a couple of TG episodes has been used to turn a popular My Little Pony cartoon into the greatest pony cartoon... In The World. It is quite random, but if you don't find the whole Brony thing so annoying, quite funny too.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Repost: How the Toyota Camry is Killing Our Dreams

I won't make a habit of reposting other people's writing, but I agree with this article and probably couldn't make the same point better. It's written by Mike Spinelli, an editor at American blog Jalopnik

We received some bad news this week. Mazda's rotary engine died again, while the Toyota Camry just keeps on living. Here's why we should care about the rotary engine, and why no one reads magazines about toasters.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Game Review: Test Drive Unlimited 2

Test Hardware: Xbox 360 Elite, Official Wireless Controller

In A Nutshell:

I like:
The idea
Showroom (and test driving cars I can't afford)
Choice of cars

I Don't Like:
Driving physics
Sub-standard graphics, sound (~)
Annoying commentary/characters
Quite repetitive single player

RATING: 65/100

I know it's been out since about February, but I finally picked up a copy of Test Drive Unlimited 2 last week. It only cost me £20, and to be honest I'm glad I didn't pay the £40 or so it would've been on release...

Ferrari 458 Spider Is Afraid Of Newspapers

It was inevitable, and now it's here. Ferrari has released a video of the new 458 Spider (unofficially the Italian word for convertible), which folds its metal roof (or maybe carbon fibre, details are still scarce) in a similar way to the 575 Superamerica from about 5 years ago, but in two parts instead of one, and hiding under a cover rather then sitting upside-down on the back. According to Ferrari, the use of a folding hardtop instead of rags actually saves 25kg, because the rest of the car didn't need as much doing to it to make it safe enough. They also claim that "The design was perfected to slow and diffuse the air in the cockpit, enabling normal conversation to be held even at speeds over 200 km/h". Surely any conversation held at over 124mph is going to involve screaming anyway? "Why are you talking to me?! Pay attention to the road or SLOW DOWN!" I guess it's just a measure of quality rather than a useful feature to advertise.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Video Sunday - Ken Block Marathon

Welcome to Video Sunday, a new regular feature that's fairly self-explanatory. This week commemorates the fifth video from American rally and stunt driver Ken Block, called Gymkhana 4 (that'll make sense in a minute). Without further ado, here is the first one, a pure and simple motorsport video featuring a 530 horsepower Subaru Impreza WRX STI (GD):

Uploaded: 11/11/08
Running Time: 4:27
Views At Time of Posting: 10,601,664

Thursday, 18 August 2011

The New Porsche 911: Don't Tell Me It Looks The Same

First the original 901 in the '60s, then the 996 in the late '90s, now the 991. Here is the third all-new 911 in 48 years.
A world without a Porsche 911 in showrooms is a world hard to imagine. The perennial German sports/supercar has been with us now since 1963, and has evolved many times over the years. First the 901 (changed to 911 after Peugeot had a strong word with them), then the 930, then 964, 993, 996, 997... and now this, the 991. Why they've gone backwards, I'm not quite sure.

But despite this being the seventh-generation Porsche 911, it's only the second time that evolution has leapt forward for what Jeremy Clarkson parrots call "a squashed Beetle", as it's only the third all-new 911 in 48 years. So what's changed?

Monday, 15 August 2011

SPOTTED: The New BMW 3-Series

Y'know, it's not really wise to have a photoshoot of a new model in a place where car spies can get to you, especially not when you're still heavily camouflaging the prototypes. That would make the camo somewhat pointless. Still, it does at least mean that we know what the new BMW 3-Series looks like: a smaller 5-Series.

Still, BMW must know themselves that all they need to do with the new 3er's body is to just make it look like a BMW, and because they've made it look like the 5, which looks like a 7, they have succeeded in that. It will always sell by the boatload because it's a BMW 3-Series, and nowadays they even make sure to make stupid and pointless cars like the X3 and X6 seem like a good idea by making them so well. Thus, a modern BMW that actually has a purpose is bound to be a huge success. Again.

In related news, the next M3 will have a Twin-Turbo 3.0 Straight-Six engine, to replace the naturally aspirated 4.0 V8 with something more powerful and less thirsty, according to British car magazine Autocar. An I6 makes more sense in an M3 than a V8, so this is a good thing, as long as it gets something right that its M5 cousin didn't and retains a manual gearbox option. Want fun driving for years? Change your own gears.

More info and images in the source link above

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Quick Video: Home-made donuts.

I'm not sure what the context is here, whether this man has just got divorced and can't keep the house, or was forced to sell his 7-litre AC Cobra, or my favourite thought that he just bought the house and plans to set up the living room on top of it. Talk about décor! "Ooh, I like what you've done with the floor. What's that smell though?" "Oh that? My doughnuts must be ready."

Whatever the context is, I just hope the floor stays the way it is. That's also superb car control, as it's very easy to let a car like that get out of hand, but he kept it in check with the brakes and didn't leave a scratch. Just plenty of delicious tyre marks.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

One Ticked Off The Bucket List

This article is so called because I've said from the start that I will drive this car before I die. As of 12/8/11, I have.
For my combined Birthday and Christmas present in 2009, my grandparents bought me a supercar gift experience that entitled me to drive a Lamborghini Murciélago 6.2 around a former airfield in Elvington in north Yorkshire (which I booked for February '10). Going from a 67bhp Fiat Grande Punto 1.2 to a 570bhp Lamborghini V12 a mere 2 or 3 months after passing my driving test was... interesting, especially as the driving position was rather awkward (requiring short arms and long legs) and I couldn't see out very well. The result was somewhat feeble driving. It was certainly fun though, and it sounded awesome - not just to hear that 6.2-litre V12, but also to snick-snick the open-gated manual gearbox into position - but I didn't really do myself proud. I didn't even hit 100mph. This year, however, was going to be better than last year......

Welcome Back To Small Blog V8

OK, I've now had my unannounced summer break. SBV8 will now be open for business as usual!

It has been 6 months since I started this blog, and I'm happy to see the viewing statistics climb each month (even if most of it appears to be Google image search results for the Red Bull X1), and this right here is my 50th published post, and I have decided to move things on a bit.

There will be a bit more content in the coming weeks, with a racing game review, new posts featuring spy photos of upcoming cars, and a very special something else very soon! I will also try to get back into the habit of doing a regular feature, even if it's not one of the original ones, such as a weekly news round-up or something. I have piloted a few changes to the F1 articles (including having a big track map at the top so you can see what corners I'm referencing and naming paragraphs so you can skip to the bit you missed if you don't want to read it all) which I have decided to keep, and if I find a way to have a Wikipedia-style Contents bar at the top, I will try to implement it. Of course, the other way to look at the issue of long articles is for me to just write less, and this is something I will also endeavour to do, but I don't want to miss anything out that might be important to someone, so that's a balance I must strike. Maybe a brief summary in bullet points at the top or something.

Anyway, I notice that I have a triplet of followers now as well, so if you have any suggestions for improvements, I'm happy to read them. You don't have to be a follower to have suggestions, so any lurkers out there are welcome to have their say as well.


I shall try to uphold my promises this time.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Formula 1 - Hungarian Grand Prix 2011

Hungaroring Track Map. Those boxes are: Gear (brown), then MPH, Km/h, Lateral G. T# is Timing Sector
I never really remember the Hungarian Grand Prix. Each year it just sort of comes and goes. I know Jenson Button got his first F1 win here in 2006 (a race in which he lapped Michael Schumacher), and I know that this year he celebrated his 200th Grand Prix at this race on Sunday. Ferrari's second fiddle Felipe Massa probably doesn't remember much of previous Hungarian GPs either, even though the track has left a lasting impression on his mind...