The Good Oil: Trashed or not?
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Lauda: “Lewis trashed a hospitality suite. Oh wait … no he didn’t . . .”
There’s nothing as suspicious as a frank disclosure followed by a swift retraction. But that’s what our favourite robot Niki Lauda did last week after suggesting current Formula 1 world champion (and employee) Lewis Hamilton did some Led Zeppelin-style redecorating to a hospitality suite after crashing during qualifying at the F1 round in Baku.
The Mercedes F1 team chairman claimed on Austrian television that Hamilton had smashed up a back room in frustration at both his performance on the track and his team-mate Nico Rosberg’s then-stellar run at the front of the pack.
“The more Rosberg is in front, the wilder Lewis gets,” Lauda is reported to have said on the show.
“I was there when he smashed his room in Baku because he had hit the wall. Of course, he paid for the damage himself.”
Crikey, really? Well yes; driven sportsman and all that. Not exactly excellent behaviour, but the pressure must be immense, etc, etc.
But all of a sudden a couple of days later, the Mercedes F1 team sent out a statement on behalf of Lauda saying that he’d got his facts wrong. There was no damage. There was no payment. Lauda, it seems, wasn’t there at all.
“Following his appearance on a television discussion show on Servus TV recorded prior to the Austrian GP, Niki Lauda would like to set the record straight and state the following,” the statement read. “Lewis Hamilton did not in any way damage a hotel room or his private driver room at the circuit during the race weekend in Baku.”
Oh, that’s odd. Because even now in his senior years, Lauda remains a clear-eyed automaton, famous for his forthright manner and clinical observations. If he saw something, you get the feeling he’d relay events exactly as they occurred.
“Niki regrets any misunderstanding caused by comments that have been blown wildly out of proportion compared with the casual context in which they were made,” concluded the statement.
Hmm, really? Because the words “Niki regrets” really don’t seem like they’d ring true in any context ever, if we’re honest.
The ‘Magic Roundabout’ hosts stationary motors
Going nowhere on one of the UK’s most intimidating junctions.
The sight of an inert mid-1990s Rover on a roundabout isn’t exactly unusual in itself. Well, it could have been driving for at least half an hour before something went wrong …
But recently the UK’s most famous roundabout — the so-called “Magic Roundabout” in Swindon, between London and Bristol — played host to a whole heap of stationary British metal in a salute to local manufacturing.
A large gathering of MGs, Minis, Triumphs, Rovers and other products of Britain’s once-prolific car industry gathered for a double celebration. The cars and their owners marked both the 175th anniversary of the birth of Swindon as a settlement, as well as the 60th anniversary of Swindon’s Mini assembly plant, where many of the cars in the roundabout-orientated parade were built.
So what is this “Magic Roundabout”?
For some it’ll be familiar as the name of a 1960s-era British stop-motion children’s television show. Indeed, the physical roundabout in Swindon borrows its name from the television show.
Although looking at the roundabout’s layout, “confusing” may be more of an apt description. At first glance the only “magic” thing about it would be that there aren’t more enormous accidents.
The roundabout was constructed in 1972 and has featured the same multi-rotating configuration ever since.
The complex junction features multiple entry points and feeder lanes, and five mini-roundabouts arranged around a sixth central anti-clockwise roundabout.
Even describing it feels like a geometry test.
In 2009 in a poll organised by a breakdown recovery provider, it was voted the fourth most intimidating junction in Britain.
The concept’s fine but it needs to grow up
An actual Toyota designer drew this flying car “concept” sketch
Looking at this blueprint image, you could be forgiven for thinking it was a damn fine effort at describing a flying car … for a 6-year old.
But then when you learn that, actually, it’s a proper design, allegedly part of an actual patent application lodged with the United States Patent Office, you recalibrate your thoughts accordingly. Ah, okay then, it’s some loon from Iowa who has sunk his inheritance into a doomed dream to soar above the cornfields, scaring livestock and forcing children indoors.
But no. This rudimentary sketch — complete with comical propeller-on-a-stick arrangement at the rear — is the work of Toyota. The car company Toyota.
Er, really? Apparently so. And despite the oddly basic drawing, the technology Toyota is patenting is futuristic.
The sketch is part of a submission titled “Shape Morphing Fuselage for an Aerocar”. The patents were submitted in 2014 but have only just been published.
Look beyond the “badly-rendered Prius” body style and, say industry experts, the patents provide evidence that Toyota is experimenting in advanced new fabrics that will one day replace steel and aluminium for the outer skin of vehicle bodies.
The idea is to have a vehicle built using a flexible exoskeleton, which means the car could shrink in the city and elongate on highways to reduce fuel consumption. As the drawings amusingly suggest, one day this futuristic technology could even help vehicles fly.
The patent also shows how Toyota could one day package its wings within the body when not in use, but it’s thought active aero research stuff will come first.
It’s enough to make you look at that pre-schooler art stuck to the fridge door in a whole new light.
1909 YEAR First British “Circular Junction” installed
30,000 AMOUNT Of roundabouts counted in France in 2010
34 PER CENT Estimated max reduction in fuel consumption at roundabouts v crossroads
68 PER CENT Americans opposed to the introduction of roundabouts (in 1998)