Good Oil: Retired Massa gets a callback
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With Formula 1 engaged in a mass round of musical chairs after the shock retirement of Nico Rosberg, the winner of Brazil’s most understated sports personality of the year award, Felipe Massa, has been called back to duty.
Massa received the recall from Williams after Mercedes-AMG Petronas team boss Toto Wolff shoulder-tapped Williams racer Valtteri Bottas to replace Rosberg alongside Nomex-clad walking ego, Lewis Hamilton.
The Brazilian received an emotional farewell at his home circuit of Interlagos towards the end of last season. After the grand prix, Williams gifted him his car from the race: a sort of carbon fibre-hewn, petrol-filled carriage clock.
We can only assume it came with a giant novelty card bearing the legend “We’ll miss you ‘round here!”
Now Massa’s retirement has proven premature, Williams has said he can keep the car, even though they’ll eventually have to get him another retirement gift.
Unless Williams bounces from the midfield into the points at the sharp end of the grid during the upcoming season, one imagines Massa will be lucky if he gets to keep his race helmet next time.
Swift makeover leaked
Crikey, this is a big one. Despite its diminutive stature, an updated Suzuki Swift is no small deal.
This model, it’s fair to say, is what the entire Suzuki brand rests its hopes on.
Year after year the Swift sideswipes all-comers in the small car category, reminding the competition this is how it’s done: a small car with a surprisingly roomy interior, an engaging drive (especially in Swift Sport guise), and all at a fair price.
In fact, here at The Good Oil, we would go so far as to suggest the Swift essentially represents to our modern buyer’s mind what the original Mini did back in the 1960s.
It’s an all-things-to-all sort of car; as likely to be driven by babyboomers as it is uni students.
So yes, we can only imagine the amount of nail biting that goes on behind closed doors at Suzuki’s design centre when it comes time to update the Swift.
How do you improve on something everyone is happy with?
The carmaker was clearly preoccupied with making sure the new Swift was updated significantly it forgot to secure draft versions of its brochure for the model, which were leaked ahead of its Geneva Motor Show unveiling next month.
Unfortunately, a similar thing happened ahead of the last major update.
Unlike that occasion, the 2017 model is more than a freshen-up. The new Swift will reportedly be lighter, sportier and the grainy images we’ve seen so far suggest it will sit lower to the ground with a wider, curvier profile.
Rumour has it the new Swift will feature a petrol-hybrid version and, in the domestic Japanese market, an all-wheel drive version. An all-wheel drive turbo Swift Sport?
Mustang’s sally into sci-fi world
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No wonder Ford’s Mustang managed to attain only a shocking two-star crash test rating; the manufacturer appears to have been putting all its behind-the-scenes efforts into sci-fi branding technology.
According to a leak generated by trademark blog freepatentsonline. com, Ford has made a patent application for technology that can create images on body panels by burning an emblem through rain or snow, or even creating a familiar shape — say, an oval with fancy joined-up writing inside for example — out of condensation on metal.
Actually, the patent could apply more specifically to the Mustang sports coupe and convertible. The car already “paints” the image of a pony on the ground at night using a cut-out light silhouette underneath the wing mirrors, but the new tech looks likely to be able to “paint” the logo on the car’s bodywork.
The system works by sandwiching an additional layer within the two metal panels that make up the bonnet.
The additional layer features sensors which — if snow is detected — will draw current from the car’s electrical system to melt the logo into the bonnet. The system can work in reverse, tracing a logo in condensation using the air con in hot weather.
There could be a safety benefit, suggests the blog that the technology was mentioned on; heating body panels to melt snow could mean cars in cold climates are easier to extract from snowdrifts.
Branding, it would appear, still comes ahead of safety.