2014 Toro Rosso STR9

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01.27.2014 by aclasschris

Testing at Jerez begins this week and Toro Rosso was there to debut the 2014 STR9.

toro_rosso_str9_01

Some have suggested this is a prelude to what we’ll be seeing from Red Bull later this week. I hope not.

toro_rosso_str9_02

Yeah… Welcome to Formula 1 2014.

Elitists who are above the kind of humor these new cars have spawned are quick to point out that the designs are all in the name of safety. Don’t get me wrong, having lower noses as a precaution to any t-bone related head injuries is crucial, but there must be a better way.

Don’t think for a second that the jokes aren’t flooding throughout the paddock either. It’s tough to escape, especially with the STR9. Something tells me that Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat were looking to get this launch over with quickly.

toro_rosso_str9_03

Things get a little more sane towards the rear of the car.

toro_rosso_str9_04

At the back, STR begins their new engine partnership with Renault after parting ways with Ferrari. The new single exhausts on the 2014 cars should give us a nice light show come Bahrain and Singapore.

toro_rosso_str9_05

More from Jerez in the coming days.

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

2014 Sauber C33

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 01.26.2014 by aclasschris

Have Sauber become the first team to design an attractive solution to Formula 1′s nose problem?

Sauber F1 Team C33 Press

The team have released just 2 images of the 2014 C33, so it’s tough to be sure. However based on what we can see, they may have cracked it.

Sauber F1 Team C33 Press

A lack of ugly sponsorship logos make the C33 stand out with one of the best liveries on the grid. However those missing sponsors also play a role in the team’s financial woes, but at least the car looks good!

I suspect more images of the C33 will be rolling out in the coming days, but for now a very promising start.

Photos courtesy of Sauber & F1 Fantaic.

2014 Scuderia Ferrari F14 T

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01.25.2014 by aclasschris

Scuderia Ferrari debuted one of the sport’s most anticipated cars earlier today, the F14 T.

Ferrari have dominated the F1 media over the last few months with the re-signing of Kimi Raikkonen from Lotus. Headed into 2014, the Scuderia have arguably the strongest driver combo in the sport with Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso. Time will tell how the pair get along on track, but it’s certainly one of the more anticipated story lines of 2014.

With the F14 T, Ferrari have produced a front end that’s wildly different than what we’ve seen so far.

scuderia_ferrari_f14t_01

Many had hoped that Ferrari would be one of the teams to produce an attractive solution to the bizarre and frankly pointless new FIA regulations.

scuderia_ferrari_f14t_02

What they’ve actually made is a nose that appears to have melted during the manufacturing process.

scuderia_ferrari_f14t_03

Last year’s livery remains largely intact. The F14 T may also be the first 2014 car we’ve seen that doesn’t look particularly good from the side.

scuderia_ferrari_f14t_04

In contrast, its best angle is front and center.

scuderia_ferrari_f14t_05

The team have opted to carry on using their pull-rod suspension, which produced mixed results over the last few seasons.

scuderia_ferrari_f14t_06

Ferrari are the first to show the rear of their car which features many of the most notable visual changes to last year’s F138. Most prominent is the centrally-mounted single exit exhaust, which actually looks very good.

Team Principal Stefano Domenicali stated that this year’s biggest challenge will be reliability as the Scuderia seeks an elusive Constructor’s Championship.

Photos courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari.

2014 Lotus E22

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on 01.25.2014 by aclasschris

It’s been a tough few months for Lotus. Granted, most of their issues stem from not having their finances in check, but to lose both your star driver and Team Principal in between seasons is difficult. Romain Grosjean proved he was ready for the challenge of leading a team in the latter half of 2013, but will there even be a team for him to lead much longer?

Thursday it was announced that Team Principal Eric Boullier would be leaving Lotus immediately. Soon after the team took to social media and hastily released images of the 2014 car, the E22.

lotus_e22_f1_01

In many ways the E22 is very much like the rest of the cars we’ve seen so far in 2014. It looks quite good from the side, but come around to the front and you won’t find the finger nose that the other teams are sporting.

lotus_e22_f1_02

Instead, Lotus has gone all feminine. The asymmetrical, split nose on the E22 could prove to be the most radical design of the 2014 season. Whether it will actually dominate on the track is another story.

2014 is shaping to be another strange year in Formula 1.

Photos courtesy of Lotus.

2014 McLaren MP4-29

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01.24.2014 by aclasschris

It’s been a pretty big news day in Formula 1. Apart from the 2014 cars rolling out, we learned that Eric Boullier resigned as Team Principal at Lotus. It’s a fairly shocking development, especially considering most of the teams are scheduled to test at Jerez next week. The rumors have of course been swirling and some project Boullier to succeed Martin Whitmarsh at McLaren. I’ll believe that when I see it.

In the meantime, McLaren’s MP4-29.

mclaren_mp4_29_01

The situation has been rocky at McLaren over the last year. The departure of Lewis Hamilton could be considered the beginning of the team’s unraveling and over the next year, they would experience their worst season since 1980. With Vodafone, Sergio Perez and Martin Whitmarsh (presumably) out the door, the team are seeking a fresh start in 2014. Despite this, they’re starting to resemble Williams more and more everyday, but that’s a discussion for another post.

mclaren_mp4_29_02

Unsurprisingly, the MP4-29 looks fantastic from the side. However, like some of the other cars we’ve seen, it all goes wrong when the view changes.

mclaren_mp4_29_03

The new technical regulations almost make you wonder if Bernie and the FIA are in on a big ploy to outrage fans. I understand that getting the most most airflow underneath the chassis is key, but there must be a more attractive design execution. It’s a shame too because the rest of the MP4-29 is quite good looking, particularly the triangular side pods.

mclaren_mp4_29_04

While the new noses are something fans may eventually get used to, it’s a small contribution to the much larger problem of the sport completely losing its identity. Many would argue that Thursday was the day Formula 1 racing died with the implementation of double points at Abu Dhabi. Unattractive cars, environmentally friendly power plants and racing in the name of tire/fuel conservation isn’t what people want to see. Something’s got to give.

mclaren_mp4_29_05

With the departure of Vodafone as McLaren’s title sponsor, the MP4-29 looks particularly silver. The car will likely have an entirely different livery come Melbourne, but at the moment it would be hard to tell it apart from the Mercedes Silver Arrows. I wonder why they didn’t opt for orange paint which has always been McLaren’s standby, as the team awaits new sponsorship.

Ultimately what matters most is how fast it is and we’ll all know soon enough.

Photos courtesy of McLaren.

Williams ‘Max Rebo’ FW36

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on 01.23.2014 by aclasschris

If you’re going based on the actual release schedule, it was McLaren who were first set to debut their car for the 2014 Formula 1 season. In the last couple of days however, other teams have jumped at the opportunity to get their designs front and center before the onslaught of big reveals next week.

Yesterday we saw a very promising render from Force India. Granted it was only a tease of the VJM07′s side profile, but it did feature one of the better liveries to hit Formula 1 in quite some time and a promising lower nose to comply with the 2014 technical regulations.

I knew it was too good to be true and this was confirmed earlier today with the Williams FW36.

williams_fw36_01

Again, the side profile is all well and good. Apart from the lower nose, the rest of the car is quite similar to what we’ve seen over the past 2 seasons.

It’s when you come around to the front that things go horribly wrong.

williams_fw36_02

“Anteater”, “penis nose” and “limp dick” are some of the terms being used to describe what is ultimately the best design from a functional standpoint, within the new regulations.

williams_fw36_03

The nose slims out at the end to allow for maximum airflow under the car. The end result is something we’ll spend the rest of 2014 complaining about.

Remember when step noses were horrid? Maybe not so much anymore.

max_rebo_01

Photos courtesy of Williams.

Force India’s VJM07

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 01.22.2014 by aclasschris

Just based on the rendering, Force India’s VJM07 looks really good.

fi_vjm07_01

It’s entirely possible that a hideous step in the nose is hiding behind the front wheel. However from the side profile, the new lower nose looks great.

Looking forward to seeing the rest of the car and a promising start so far.

Photo courtesy of Force India.

2015 Subaru STI

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 01.08.2014 by aclasschris

Ironic, considering I was just discussing the 2015 WRX, that “leaked” photos of the new STI would emerge.

The car is set to debut at the North American International Auto Show and I have my suspicions of just how “leaked” these photos really are.

2015_subaru_sti_01

2015_subaru_sti_02

I’ll have more thoughts on the car later.

Photos courtesy of Subaru.

Identity Crisis: The Subaru Impreza

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01.05.2014 by aclasschris

The current GVB STI really isn’t a good looking car. When it was first revealed I thought, “give it some time and it will age well”. It hasn’t. In fact it will probably be remembered as one of the least memorable Subarus ever and judging by the 2015 WRX, it’s only going to get worse.

subaru_sti_s206_01

I email back and forth with my buddy Earl a lot and we often discuss the current state of Subaru, where the brand has been and where it’s headed. Not too long ago he sent me this article from The Truth About Cars. It primarily discusses the way automotive manufacturers are continually using less interesting power plants in their cars and the way competing brands are offering more similar products. One of the article’s more interesting points discusses the way manufacturers are using their brand’s heritage to sell cars and how that will become more important as time goes on.

subaru_gc_wrc_01

Take Subaru for example. They haven’t really raced in years. After pulling out of the WRC in 2008, the Impreza doesn’t have the motor sports tie-in it once did. As a result, Subaru have shifted the car’s focus and rather than building a road-going rally car, they’ve designed the Impreza to be more comfortable and more “luxurious” to compete with the Europeans. The change in direction can’t solely be blamed for its weight gain and stubborn styling. Heightened crash and pedestrian safety regulations are also a major factor. The interesting thing to consider is that the Europeans have to deal with the same kinds of regulations, but they’ve still managed to produce very good looking cars. In fact, 2014 is set to be a stellar year for European car design – the BMW M3, Alfa Romeo 4C, Volkswagen Golf GTI and the absolutely stunning Jaguar F-Type Coupe to name a few. There’s also a new golden age of hyper cars emerging with LaFerrari, McLaren’s P1, the Porsche 918 Spyder and anything Pagani are building at the moment. Consider that and Subaru, who had their best sales year in 2013 are sort of missing the mark.

subaru_wrx_concept_side_01

But wait, what about the WRX Concept you say? Well that was indeed a very good looking car and shows what Subaru are capable of building, but for whatever reason they’ve decided that the upcoming WRX is good enough. This harks back to the idea of manufactures selling heritage. As a consumer, when you buy the 2015 WRX, you’re buying over 20 years of rallying history and you’re buying a car that was “inspired” by the WRX Concept. In the eyes of the manufacturer it becomes more about everything tied to the car, rather than the car itself.

subaru_2015_wrx_01

You may remember when Subaru first debuted the 2015 WRX, they began producing special videos about past iterations of the Impreza, including the 22B. These were not only intended to showcase some truly great moments in the brand’s history, but to assure the consumer, “yes, this is where we came from and this is what you’re buying into”. While it’s nice in theory, the whole idea falls flat and instead leaves us wishing we could somehow buy a 22B, rather than the current, boring and frankly ugly new WRX.

22b_03

Rather than stepping back and recognizing the 22B as their peak, Subaru should be striving to outdo it. Since the WRX has become so similar to the STI, why not make the latter even more outlandish? As of 2015 all you’ll really be getting from buying an STI over the WRX are some big brakes, more aggressive bumpers and lots of badges. Subaru should give it the premium quality and performance it’s price tag warrants. Instead of doing a limited production, JDM-only tS Type RA, make that the standard STI! If they’re trying to emulate the 22B, why not make the new car a coupe, give it more horsepower and then it can truly compete with the M, AMG and S models of the world.

subaru_sti_ts_01

The Impreza lineup has become complacent and it’s all for the simple fact that it has no competition. Not only is the Mitsubishi Evo extinct, but the brand itself may be in a few years time. The Impreza occupies a place in the Japanese market where it has no competition, so why would Subaru feel the need to actually put that WRX Concept into production? They’re doing just enough to keep enthusiasts on the hook and nothing more. I just hope we don’t see the STIs of the future suffer the same fate as their Mitsubishi counterparts.

Alfa Romeo Sprint GTA

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01.03.2014 by aclasschris

More Alfa love this Friday morning. In more civilized countries than our own, public roads can be used for all sorts of motor sports, including tarmac rallying. The Alfa Sprint GTA was intended for just such a thing.

alfa_giulia_01

The GTA is the racing version of Alfa Romeo’s iconic Giulia, which you’ll find more of here.

Alfas haven’t been sold in the US for quite some time but that will soon change with the much anticipated 4C and the new Spyder – which will probably end up being the best looking roadster of the last 20 years. In the meantime, it’s tough to beat the Bertone styled GTA, especially when it’s been prepped for racing.

Photo courtesy of Matteo Stucchi.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 126 other followers