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Remembering Senna

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on 03.21.2014 by aclasschris


I often wonder what he’d make of Formula 1′s current state – the double points, tire/fuel conservation, pay drivers, the stewards involved in the most inane details… I like to think he’d be one of the sport’s most outspoken critics.

Happy birthday to the greatest of all time and may he continue to remind us of an era when racing was simply that.

2014 Australian Grand Prix

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 03.16.2014 by aclasschris

Formula 1 had an interesting and at times controversial offseason heading into 2014. The FIA imposed the biggest technical and sporting rules changes the sport has seen in decades and this weekend marked the beginning of Formula 1′s next turbo era. After a slew of driver shakeups in the winter months and testing heavily dominated by Mercedes power, the teams arrived at Melbourne’s Albert Park not really knowing what to expect.

Australian F1 Grand Prix - Race

Historically, the Australian Grand Prix is unique in the way that virtually anything can happen, while at the same time telling us very little of how the season will ultimately play out. In many ways it’s an extension of winter testing, a exhibition race and a chance for the teams and drivers to feel things out and readjust to the grueling schedule of the next 9 months.

Heading into the weekend one thing was abundantly clear, Red Bull were not the favorites.

Australian F1 Grand Prix - Race

After a very difficult showing at winter testing, Red Bull struggled to keep the RB10 on track. A slew of mechanical problems from the new Renault V6 turbo engines and Red Bull’s own chassis design faults had many jumping ship on hope that they would win their 5th consecutive championship. The season is still in its infancy however and anything can happen. This point was proven when Daniel Ricciardo outdrove his teammate Sebastian Vettel all weekend long, eventually finishing in 2nd place, his first Formula 1 podium. But for as fast as Ricciardo tasted success in front of his countrymen, it was taken away when the FIA disqualified him.

Australian F1 Grand Prix - Race

With the introduction of the new V6 turbo engines, a slew of complex and frankly boring technical regulations have been implemented in 2014. The intricacies of exactly why Ricciardo was disqualified are complex and difficult to understand but ultimately the RB10 exceed the required fuel flow of 100kg/h. In short, his team let him down.

Australian F1 Grand Prix - Practice

Red Bull were well aware of this particular rule and rather than using an FIA approved fuel sensor, they opted to use their own. Conspiracy theorists have claimed that the move was intentional and Red Bull remain confident that they can win their appeal of the ruling. In the meantime, Ricciardo will have to play the waiting game and emotions of yesterday’s podium will reduced to what ifs. Despite the technicalities, Ricciardo had an excellent drive and showed everyone that he’s ready to take on Vettel and hold his own at one of the sport’s most successful organizations.


Questions loomed as to how many of the cars would actually finish the Austrailan Grand Prix. With so many unknowns following testing, it was a coin toss as to who would come out on top. Embarrassingly both Marussias had to start from pit lane after stalling on the grid and causing a second formation lap. Also starting from the pits was the Lotus of Romain Grosjean who suffered a gearbox failure on Saturday. After the highs of last season, Lotus have had a hellacious start to 2014 after losing Kimi Raikkonen to Ferrari and Team Principal Eric Boullier to McLaren.

After an unspectacular start, the Caterham of Kamui Kobayashi experienced a KERS failure which caused his rear brakes not to work. He collided with a rejuvenated Felipe Massa in the Williams, ending their days prematurely.


Pole sitter and favorite to win, Lewis Hamilton retired within the first 5 laps after the engine of his Mercedes Silver Arrow went kaput. It was a surprising development after both Mercedes’ looked fantastic heading into the season opener. Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg on the other hand, built a fantastic lead and piloted the W05 to his first victory at Albert Park. The drive was Vettel-esque and showed everyone just what an advantage the works Mercedes team has over the competition.


A little further back McLaren had their own rejuvenation. 2013 was a disaster for McLaren and their worst season since 1980. After a brief, unsuccessful stint with Sergio Perez, the team signed rookie Kevin Magnussen in the offseason. Hoping to catch a similar lightening in a bottle to Hamilton’s rookie debut, the Dane didn’t disappoint.

Kevin Magnussen celebrates his podium finish.

McLaren had one of the busiest off seasons of any team in Formula 1. After last year’s disaster, Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh was shown the exit. The move allowed Ron Dennis to re-shift his focus to the company’s motor sports program after stepping away to oversee McLaren’s road car division.

Racing Director Eric Boullier in the garage.

With Dennis back at the helm, Eric Boullier made a sudden exit from Lotus to join the Woking team. McLaren are certainly in rebuilding mode in 2014 and will continue to be through the end of next season as they adapt to their new partnership with Honda. In the meantime, they had a fantastic showing at Albert Park. Magnussen drove as cool as a cucumber and secured a comfortable 3rd place finish with his teammate Jenson Button 3 seconds behind in 4th. If the Ricciardo disqualification holds, the McLaren boys will be bumped up to 2nd and 3rd place respectively. The team’s consistency has them leading the Constructor’s Championship headed to Sepang. Though it’s only the first race of the season, it’s a remarkable result for a team that lost it’s identity in 2013.

Jenson Button on track.

McLaren’s main rivals at Scuderia Ferrari proved they still have a lot of work to do. Kimi Raikkonen appeared uninspired throughout most of the weekend, while Fernando Alosno did his best to cope with the new car. Ferrari have struggled with the learning curve over the last few seasons and proved they have a lot of work to do still. Alonso finished 4th overall with his teammate Raikkonen in 7th.


Further back Valterri Bottas produced a solid drive in the new look Williams Martini Racing FW36. The start of his second season in Formula 1 saw the Finn finish 5th overall. Williams were heavy favorites heading into the weekend and I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more of them up front in 2014.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Australian Grand Prix - Race Day - Melbourne, Australia

Nico Hulkenberg had a nice showing in the Force India and proved he made exactly the right decision to leave Sauber. The German was very racy and had a proper wheel-to-wheel bout with Alonso. The Force India pairing of Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez could prove to be the most exciting young driver combination of 2014. After Raikkonen’s weak Ferrari debut, many are scratching their heads over whether or not the Scuderia made the right driver signing.

Retirements were abundant at Albert Park on Sunday. With Hamilton and Vettel forced to call it quits in the opening laps, we leave the season opener with even more questions than answers. It was interesting to see the way the young drivers have adapted more quickly to the new cars than the veterans. Pirelli also remained largely out of the controversial limelight with longer lasting tire compounds which saw a 1 stopper.


For all the hype about the new V6 turbos, they’ve fallen short in nearly every regard. While seeing and hearing the cars in person is a massively different experience, the majority of fans at home have been left largely unimpressed. The new engine notes are so quiet they’re virtually unheard on TV. The cars also appear quite a bit slower than last year’s spec. From a spectacle standpoint the 2014 cars have (so far) fallen flat. Promises of heavy oversteer, more competitive wheel-to-wheel battles, steeped in a space age soundtrack where largely missing from the weekend’s events. While it’s still very early, you can’t help but question if Formula 1 has indeed sold it’s soul to the environmentalists. Motor sports should be an escape for fans. We should be treated to something that’s wildly different than what we encounter on the daily commute. Pushing the envelope and doing so in stunning style has always been Formula 1′s party piece. They’ve become too sensible, too governed, too vanilla. The result is 10 teams running scared. There are so many rules to follow, so many technical regulations to adhere to that rather than push for 58 laps, Formula 1 Grands Prix have become exercises in conservation. The sport’s bottom line as been reduced to such a level that many fans are jumping ship.


We’ll witness many exciting personal and team story lines this season but the product on track will continue to be marginalized I fear. The changes need to start at the top. The FIA just need to let the drivers go out and race.

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

Williams Martini Racing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 03.09.2014 by aclasschris

Last week’s news, but who’s honestly tired of looking at the Williams Martini Racing FW36?


In what became one of Formula 1′s worst kept secrets, motor racing’s most iconic sponsor has made their much anticipated return with Williams.


Williams’ drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa in Martini Racing garb.


It’s a definite bright spot on a 2014 Formula 1 story line that keeps getting more interesting as the weeks progress. The teams have already made their long awaited return to Melbourne for the start of the season, less than 1 week away.


Williams have struggled to attain their former glory in Formula 1 for many years now and after a rough patch with loan shark pay driver Pastor Maldonado, 2014 may be the year to see them return to their former glory. Williams have already been called the dark horse of 2014 and yes it’s still early, but you can’t deny that Mercedes engines are the performance benchmark this season and with Felipe Massa’s fresh new outlook, things could be in their favor. Bottas already made an impression as one of the most interesting young drivers in the sport and it might not be long before we see podium finishes for the team once again.


They’ll be doing in in stunning style. The FW36 is without a doubt the best looking car on the grid this season. Lets hope Martini’s return will inspire other former sponsors and classic liveries to reenter the sport.

The Australian Grand Prix is just 6 days away!

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

Kansai Service GVB

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 03.03.2014 by aclasschris

It will probably be a few more months before we start seeing the aftermarket’s interpretation of the 2015 STI. In the meantime, the Kansai Service GVB STI.


I’m a big fan of the Advan RSIIs and the Impreza wears them very well. Kansai Service has always had a soft spot for Subaru and they’re one of the few tuning outlets still giving the Impreza some much needed attention. They’re also responsible for producing one of the best and certainly most popular rear diffusers for the GD chassis.


A Voltex GT wing replaces the standard STI wing and definitely improves the looks of the car. I’ve always felt the GVB’s rear was too chunky and tall. The GT wing helps to give it a bit more contrast compared to the standard.


The front lip is Kansai Service’s own design and is a nice alternative to the more popular V-Limited lip. You’ll also notice the not so exciting Seibon decal in the top right and there’s an interesting theory about that…

I’m sure many of you have become aware of Seibon’s presence on Kansai Service builds over the last few years. Apparently this boils down to the hierarchy of power in the Japanese tuning industry. Rays Engineering and Option basically run the show in Japan and Rays’ collaboration with Seibon a few years back is presumed to be the cause of more of their products popping up on Japanese demo cars. Small tuning outfits rely heavily on their exposure through Option (who has a tight relationship with Rays) and as a sign of good faith, they like to ruffle feathers as little as possible with the top brass. I would in no way claim this as fact, but it’s a theory that’s been floating around for a few years and it all seems a little too convenient to not have elements of truth. The Japanese are obsessed with quality and innovation, neither of which are things that Seibon represents, so it would be odd for respected Japanese tuning shop use their products without some kind of ulterior motive.


Performance-wise the Kansai Service STI features the usual combination of intake and exhaust upgrades from HKS and one of the shop’s own carbon air boxes – a nice piece of kit.

Sstay tuned for more frequent Subaru and Japanese car-related mischief.

Photos courtesy of Yokohama.

Subarus Of Instagram

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 03.02.2014 by aclasschris

My apologies for the lack of updates lately. It’s been a very busy few weeks at work, but as things settle down and the Formula 1 season gets underway, I should have a lot of new topics to discuss. Blogs seem to have taken a backseat to Instagram lately and there are certainly lots of great cars to be found on there. Here a couple Subarus I’ve been meaning to post for a while.


@twelveam’s GDB sporting an all-black theme. I believe the car has gotten some wide fenders installed on the front since this photo was taken. Definitely one of the better looking Bay Area Subarus.


@ih8vermont’s GDB with a bugeye front end swap and some aggressive NT03s.

Hit me up on Instagram @aclass which has been getting a lot more updates than the blog and as usual, thanks for the support!

Photos courtesy of twelveam, ih8vermont & 247 Media.

2014 Marussia MR03

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 01.30.2014 by aclasschris

The final car reveal of 2014 hit the tarmac at Jerez today, Marussia’s MR03.


Not the best looking contender, but certainly not the worst.


Teammates Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi will drive the MR03 for the 2014 season.


Marussia have been mostly noncompetitive, back markers since their formation in 2012. A lack of funding has kept the team largely out of the running and it’s yet another sign that Formula 1 needs to lay out a spending cap for all teams. Imagine what the sport would be like if Red Bull and Marussia had the exact same budgets for their cars? That could be a pretty interesting shakeup for the sport.

The idea of customer cars has been tossed around quite a bit in recent years. In the case of Marussia, it would give the team an opportunity to buy a proven chassis and avoid many of the more expensive RND costs that can eat away at team’s budget. Many are on the fence about customer cars in Formula 1, but if it improved the racing and made things more competitive across the field, I doubt those against it would be for long.

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

2014 Red Bull Racing RB10

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01.29.2014 by aclasschris

The Red Bull Racing RB10 rounds out the list of 2014 cars currently testing at Jerez. We still have yet to see what Marussia has concocted, but does anyone really care?

Coming off of 3 consecutive World Championship sweeps, Red Bull are the obvious favorites going into 2014. Adrian Newey’s latest creation is arguably the best looking car on the grid, which isn’t much of an achievement.


At first glance the RB10 looks largely the same as its predecessor. Last year’s livery remains intact with the most noticeable change in the form of a sloped nose, similar to what we’ve already seen from Ferrari and Mercedes.


Granted it’s only testing, but things haven’t been so smooth for Red Bull out on the track. The issues have stemmed largely from the car’s energy recovery unit, even causing a fire at one point earlier today.

Newey has already been very vocal in the media, questioning the 2014 technical regulations. This comes as no surprise, but I find it interesting the way teams love to complain after they’ve had plenty of opportunities to voice their concerns during the rule writing process. It’s a similar situation to the double points debacle in which all of the team principals had a pow wow in Geneva and the subject wasn’t brought up once. Will Buxton did an excellent job analyzing the current predicament Formula 1 is in right now.


2014 marks the arrival of Daniel Ricciardo as Sebastian Vettel’s new teammate after Mark Webber retired last season. Webber didn’t leave under the greatest of circumstances with top brass and it will be interesting to follow Ricciardo’s experience with the team.

I still can’t decide if the RB10 is a good looking car or it’s just the best of the worst. Formula 1 is in a very strange place right now. At one time it really was the pinnacle of professional motor sports. These days I’m not so sure anymore. As the new cars were revealed to fans there was a wave of laughter and a perception that the sport had lost it’s collective mind. What we should be talking about are the new V6 turbos and how surprisingly good they sound, Kimi driving a Ferrari again, Ricciardo fitting in at Red Bull, the young guns at Force India and just who on earth could potentially steel the crown from Vettel. Instead we’re making penis jokes, complaining about fuel conservation and double points – all of which shouldn’t even exist in the sport.

I sincerely hope Formula 1 gets it together and realizes what it used to be and what it’s unfortunately becoming. If last season was any indication of the style of racing we’ll see in 2014, fans will simply walk away and never look back.

Photos courtesy of Red Bull Racing.

2014 Mercedes AMG W05

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 01.28.2014 by aclasschris

It feels weird seeing Mercedes headed into the 2014 season without Ross Brawn at the helm. After parting ways with the team in the offseason, speculation remains as to where he’ll end up. Could we see a midseason shakeup with Brawn at McLaren? Time will tell.

For now, the W05 and I must say, not a bad looking car for a change.


Mercedes have a gone a similar route to Ferrari with a sloped nose design.


An updated and improved livery also adorns the W05. Perhaps Mercedes caught wind that McLaren were copying their paint scheme and opted for more teal?


Hopefully the car will be better at managing tires this season. In 2013 Lewis Hamilton was plagued with horrific tire wear and was forced to dial back his performance on a number occasions.


He was on hand for testing with teammate Nico Rosberg and sporting a brand new head of hair.

However, soon after taking the car on track, Hamilton’s front wing failed, resulting in his first crash of the season.

A tough break for the brand new W05.

Photos courtesy of Mercedes & F1 Fanatic.

2014 Force India VJM07

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 01.28.2014 by aclasschris

After teasing the car last week, Force India officially debuted the VJM07 today at Jerez.


Teammates Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg were on hand for testing.

It appears the car’s designers went a similar route to Sauber with their front end.

Motor Racing - Formula One Testing - Day 1 - Jerez, Spain

Force India have one of the most exciting driver lineups in 2014. Perez joins the team after a brief, single season stint at McLaren. His departure felt like it had less to do with on-track performance and more to do with team politics. The Mexican was primarily brought on in haste after Lewis Hamilton announced his departure. It would have been difficult for any young driver to meet McLaren’s huge expectations in just 1 season. Force India should end up being a much better place for Perez to flourish.

Nico Hulkenberg who is considered by many to be the best of the rest, myself included, returns to the team after a season at Sauber. He was tipped to be Kimi Raikkonen’s replacement at Lotus after a brilliant 2013 performance, but the cash strapped team chose money over talent and signed pay driver Pastor Maldonado. In the right car, Hulkenberg can fight with the best in the sport.

Force India are definitely one of the teams to watch in 2014.

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

2014 Caterham CT05

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 01.28.2014 by aclasschris

Formula 1 testing at Jerez began today and with it most of the remaining teams introduced their 2014 cars. While some of today’s reveals were much more promising in the looks department, Caterham’s CT05 wasn’t one of them.


Rather than make any attempts at designing a new nose, it appears they’ve chopped the end off of last year’s design and added one of those ridiculous falices as an afterthought.


Not all of the car’s angles are bad I suppose.

On a much more positive note, Kamui Koybayashi will make his F1 return with the team. He unfortunately had to sit out last season due to a lack of funds. In a world of pay drivers like Pastor Maldonado, it’s become a worrying trend that far more capable talents have missed out on opportunities to snag very precious drives. The grid will certainly be a better place with Kobayashi back in the sport.

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.


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