Zak Brown on furlough: No unlimited cheque book

McLaren chief Zak Brown says putting staff on furlough was the “responsible thing to do”, adding that he is surprised only “some” UK-based teams have done the same.

McLaren announced last week that an unnamed number of staff across both the road car and Formula 1 division had been placed on furlough.

The team took up the UK government’s initiative to cover 80 percent of the wages of a furloughed worker up to a maximum of £2,500 a month for a three-month period.

Added to that both Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris took pay cuts as too did Brown.

The McLaren CEO said it was the “toughest decision I’ve had to make” but says it was the only responsible one given the ongoing crisis.

“While we’re a well-funded racing team everyone has their limits,” he told BBC Sport.

“As it relates to F1, it is no secret we lose a lot of money and my shareholders want value creation out of F1.

“So just letting the losses widen is not an option.

“I don’t have an unlimited cheque book, so it was the responsible thing to do.”

Brown, though, is surprised that not all the UK-based teams have taken up the option.

Although McLaren is the only outfit to announce that they have jumped at the initiative, Brown revealed that “some” other teams have.

“Quite frankly I am disappointed but not surprised that many teams haven’t already followed suit,” he added.

“I know some have, but some haven’t.

“I think there is a real danger in F1 that we as an industry can put our head in the sand on topics and now is not the time to put your head in the sand.”

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Auto News

Ford Extends Production Halt in Europe as Pandemic Continues

Ford has pushed back the planned restart of its plants in Europe in response to the continuing coronavirus pandemic, after shutting down production at its facilities starting on March 19. Earlier, Ford halted production at its Cologne and Saarlouis plants in Germany, as well as its Valencia, Spain, and Craiova, Romania, plants. Days later, on March 23, Ford also stopped production at its Dagenham and Bridgend plants in the U.K.

In the weeks prior to the shutdown of these plants the automaker was already dealing with shortages of parts from its suppliers, but the March shutdown was enacted with the expectation of a restart sometime in the middle of April. This timetable has now been pushed back at least until May 4.

“It’s important we give our employees as much clarity as possible on how long the present situation is likely to continue,” said Stuart Rowley, president, Ford of Europe. “We are hopeful the situation will improve in the coming month; our plans to restart operations, however, will continue to be informed by prevailing conditions and guidance of national governments.”

The automaker added that its restart plans are contingent upon restrictions imposed by different governments, as well as shipping of components from its suppliers and the operation of its dealers.

Back in the U.S., Ford has not issued a firm date for the restart of production at its plants, which came about as a result of talks with the UAW and stay-at-home orders issued by the governors of several states. But the automaker, of course, is subject to the same considerations as in Europe. When a production halt was first announced in the U.S. in the second half of March, it was initially estimated to last until March 30. This target has also been pushed back to an undetermined date, which could very well come in the month of May, and not in April as originally hoped. Likewise, Ford’s U.S. operations are dependent upon the shipping of components from suppliers and the operation of its dealer network, as well as open city and state travel conditions—so all of these factors, in addition to plant safety protocols, need to be in place before a production restart is deemed safe and worthwhile.

We’ll have additional automaker production information as it becomes available.

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Auto News

Retro-Styled 2004 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Is a Questionable Throwback to Yesteryear

So you’re in the market for a Corvette but you’ve arrived at an impasse: nothing beats the styling of the original, but you want something that can make today’s crop of supercars nervous. Which do you choose? If you can’t decide, this C1-inspired C5 Z06 currently for sale on Bring a Trailer might be the best of both worlds. Or not.

The car up for grabs is a 2004 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 that has been converted to a 1953-2003 Commemorative Edition by Advanced Automotive Technologies (AAT). Not to be confused with the much more subtly-styled factory 2004 Z06 Commemorative Edition Chevy itself put out, this kit fuses the original Corvette’s looks with the underpinnings of a top-of-the-line C5. AAT built approximately 200 Commemorative Editions, helping to celebrate 50 years of American supercar dominance.

The package’s most obvious changes are its new fiberglass panels that give the car the C1’s signature brace-faced front end, quintessentially-1950s rear, and retro chrome bumpers that snake all the way around the exterior. In addition, the engine has had many of its components painted red and features C1-style valve covers.

As a primarily aesthetic kit, the 53-03’s modifications leave much of what makes the Z06 a Z06 alone. Thus the car retains its 5.7-liter LS6 V-8 and six-speed manual transmission, although it has been fitted with an aftermarket ProCharger supercharger. That’s quite the step up from the 3.9-liter I-6 and 3-speed automatic transmission found in the 1953 ‘Vette it honors. The car has remained in Michigan for most of its life and currently shows 24,000 miles on the clock.

What do you think? Is this conversion a worthy commemoration of the Corvette’s heritage or another poorly-executed kit car?

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Car Reviews

Watch Munro's Tesla Model Y Teardown Proceed: Floorpan, Wiring

Paint? You don’t need no stinking paint?

Sandy Munro continues his Tesla Model Y teardown video series on his Munro Live YouTube channel. In the video we bring to you today, Munro looks closely at the Model Y’s floorpan, EPP floor risers, and wiring and seat stanchions.

Munro starts off this segment looking at the underside of the Model Y’s front carpeting, and how Tesla wisely uses expanded polypropylene foam (EPP) to achieve the desired result. He likes how they use the EPP to raise the Model Y’s floor so Tesla can use the same floorpan for the Model Y as they do for the Model 3.

Sandy Munro removes the EPP attached to the underside of the carpet in the Model Y

Every Model 3 part that Tesla can repurpose to use in the Model Y saves money, and Munro is a big fan of repurposing as well as saving money as long as it makes sense. 

Before moving onto the next item Munro points out that there are unpainted metal surfaces on the floorplan of the vehicle. 

We’ve has people come in and say “Oh my God, my car doesn’t have any paint on the steel for the seats” – Sandy Munro

Munro quickly dismisses that concern, saying that those surfaced do not need to be painted. In fact, in his opinion, it’s better that they aren’t painted because that saves money and is more environmentally friendly. We’ve had concerned Model 3 owners end us pictures of unpainted metal seat supports that had a good deal of surface rust on them, also. 

“If you were to look at a number of seats across the various manufacturers, you will find that about 50 percent do not paint the seat supports (bottom and/or back). They will however paint any area that is visible to the customer – i.e. the lower mount points and sometimes the rails if they are not covered with trim. So most have determined that they can live with a little surface rust on non-visible parts. Besides, eliminating the paint is good for the environment.” – Al Steier, Director of the Benchmarking Innovation Center at Munro and Associates

We reached out to Munro and Associates back then to help determine if it was an issue, and we were told not to worry, that it’s a common practice and won’t lead to any problems.

Sandy exposes the piping that protects the wires that connect the charge port to the battery.

Munro then walks around to the rear of the vehicle so we can see the connection for the high-voltage cable for the charge port. He shows that the wiring is located in pipe, instead of the cabling that he’s normally expect to see there. The Model 3 has the usual high-voltage cables that other EV makers do, but Tesla upgraded it for the Model Y and Munro calls it a “great idea”.

Sandy Munro points to the unpainted seat stanchions

Lastly, Munro looks at the stanchions used to lift the Model Y seats up. By using those, he concludes that Tesla was able to use the Model 3 seats in the Model Y, another example of repurposing that saves time and money. 

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Car Reviews

Tesla To Implement Revised ‘Launch Mode’ For Model S and Model X

It’s reportedly going to allow for even quicker starts by adjusting the damping, front ride height and power delivery.

Tesla is apparently going to change the Launch Mode feature that will really alter the way cars equipped with the air suspension (Model S and Model X) take off from standstill. According to @greentheonly who tweeted and broke the news about this, cars will apparently lower the front ride height and adjust damping to get the best possible start – this is reportedly going to be called the ‘cheetah stance.

He doesn’t go into much detail, though; check out the tweet in its entirety below

Altering the suspension to make the most of available traction is nothing new and it can even be traced back to the Ferrari Enzo supercar which stiffened its rear suspension for a fraction of a second just before and during a gear change in order for it to not destabilize the car. But since Teslas don’t have gears, what this new launch mode will is keep the front axle as planted as possible.

Whenever you do a hard launch in any car, the center of gravity is shifter rearward, and the front wheels have a tendency to lift off the ground. They don’t actually come off the ground in road cars, but they do for specialized machines such as dragsters.

We suspect that aside from lowering the front suspension, this revised Launch Mode will also stiffen the rear suspension in preparation for launch. This will further help to keep the front axle as planted as possible.

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Auto News

Fun-Sized Fiat 500 Hatchback Removed From US Lineup Along With Cabrio, Abarth Models: Report

Fiat will reportedly ax the pint-sized 500 hatchback from its American lineup following the 2020 model year. If true, this means the removal of what is easily the brand’s most recognizable car from the U.S. market.

Any talk of the Fiat brand to a non-car nerd and the lovable little 500 is probably the car they’ll mention first, but as Autoblog reports, the cut will include nearly the entire 500 lineup. This would mean that the hatchback, Cabrio, and rowdy Abarth models are all going the way of the dinosaur. The removal of such an icon will leave the brand with just the 500X crossover, the 124 Spider, and the 500L here in North America.

This isn’t the first Fiat model rumored to have its days numbered in the United States. Whispers have been swirling around the brand’s Miata-based 124 Spider for years, and as recent as the past week. Even so, the decision to kill what is easily the most recognizable car in the Fiat stable is odd. 

The 500 wasn’t the worst-selling car in the automaker’s catalog, as that title goes to the 500L and the 500X, so there’s a legitimate reason to question the reported move. There’s a chance that the all-electric 500e will pick up the torch and carry the tiny car into its next generation, as it’s set to be unveiled at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show. 

Any guess on why, or what the company’s next steps might be are just speculation, though, as FCA hasn’t made any official statements on the matter. We’re still waiting on a press release or any FCA-stamped word of confirmation on this topic. In the meantime, we’ll wait to mourn the future loss of any Eurobeat-fueled trips to the espresso bar in the 500.

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Auto News

IndyCar Cancels Detroit Doubleheader but Adds New Races at Indianapolis, Iowa and Laguna Seca

The coronavirus pandemic has claimed another NTT IndyCar Series event as the Duel in Detroit has been canceled.

For the second time this month, IndyCar has ordered a schedule overhaul to reflect the changing landscape as the global pandemic extends deeper and deeper into the summer months.

The shutdown has now forced the cancellation of events at Barber Motorsports Park, Circuit of the Americas and the Belle Isle Raceway Park. To compensate, the new provisional IndyCar Series schedule opens on June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.

To make up for the cancellations, IndyCar has added races to the schedule, turning the events at Iowa Speedway (July 17-18) and Raceway Laguna (Sept. 19-20) into doubleheaders. IndyCar has also created a new event to take place on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course — the Harvest Grand Prix on Saturday October 3.

The new event with share the stage with Indianapolis 8 Hour sports car race that features the Intercontinental GT Challenge and the GT World Challenge America.

The name of the event pays homage to the Harvest Classic, a three-race series held at the Speedway in September 1916 that was swept by Johnny Aitken. The race was the only event held at the Speedway outside of the traditional month of May until the advent of the Brickyard 400 in 1994.

“Paired with the Indianapolis 8 Hour, we’re set for a can’t-miss fall weekend of motorsports at The Racing Capital of the World,” said Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles in a release. “We appreciate everyone’s support and flexibility as we continue to navigate calendar adjustments caused by the COVID-19 situation.”

As it stands right now, the provisional 2020 IndyCar Series schedule is set to host 16 races. Each event has a new date, with the exception of the postponed Streets of St. Petersburg, which IndyCar is targeting for an October season finale.

If IndyCar and Green Savoree Promotions are unable to secure a new date for the Florida street race, the Harvest Grand Prix would become the IndyCar championship race.

“We’re committed to bringing fans as much on-track action as possible,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said. “Our updated schedule features additional racing at fan-favorite venues and adds to the total number of events on our calendar. The COVID-19 situation continues to be dynamic and challenging for everyone, so we have developed contingency plans which will allow us to respond to changing conditions. Our goal is to preserve as much racing competition as possible while prioritizing the health and safety of our participants and spectators.”

The outright cancellation of the Duel in Detroit was necessary because the state of Michigan is under a stay at home order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer until at least April 13. Track construction would have to begin around that some time. Belle Isle Park is booked for private events for much of the summer and autumn months, making the viability of a postponement infeasible.

The provisional IndyCar Series schedule as of early April can be viewed below.

Saturday, June 6 | Texas Motor Speedway
Sunday, June 21 | Road America
Saturday, June 27 | Richmond Raceway
Saturday, July 4 | Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course
Sunday, July 12 | Streets of Toronto
Saturday, July 17 | Iowa Speedway
Saturday, July 18 | Iowa Speedway
Sunday, Aug. 9 | Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Sunday, Aug. 23 | Indianapolis 500 Mile Race
Sunday, Aug. 30 | World Wide Technology Raceway
Sunday, Sept. 13 | Portland International Raceway
Sunday, Sept. 20 | WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca
Sunday, Sept. 20 | WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca
Saturday, Oct. 3 | Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course
TBD | Streets of St. Petersburg

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Auto News

The New BMW R 18 Cruiser Is a Gorgeous Hunk of Retro-Cool

Never before has a motorcycle so perfectly embodied the heritage of the company that made it as the BMW R 18. Just have a look at its double steel tube frame, solid-looking rear, exposed shaft drive and, most perfect, that flat twin engine.

Officially, BMW drew on its postwar R 5 for inspiration, and you can see a lot of R 5 in almost every aspect of this beautiful cruiser. But really, you could look at almost any great BMW motorcycle from the last 90-something years and see parts of it reflected in the new R 18. Ain’t nostalgia grand?

BMW has been teasing this bike and this engine for seemingly ever. The engine was first to bow, appearing in custom motorcycles at shows all around the world for at least a year. Then at Villa d’Est last May, a show BMW has more or less adopted, the bike- and carmaker revealed the Concept R18, a motorcycle that so closely resembles the production bike you see here that you’d have to look closely to see the changes, like one of those “Can you spot five differences” puzzles your kids are probably working on right now.

“Like no other BMW motorcycle before it, this model stands entirely in the tradition of historical BMW motorcycles, both technically and in terms of design style,” BMW Motorrad said in a statement. “It borrows from famous models such as the BMW R 5 both technologically and visually, shifting the focus back onto the motorcycle essentials: purist, no-frills technology and the boxer engine as the epicenter of riding pleasure.”

So after all that buildup, is the finished and final product worth all the wait? Oh, yeah. Even if it didn’t move at all, the R 18 would be worth having around just to look at. It is immediately clear that it is a BMW, no one is going to look at it and think it’s anything else. The double-loop steel tube frame looks like it was lifted straight out of any of a number of pre- and postwar Beemers. The front telescopic forks and what sure looks like a solid rear swing arm (but hides an enclosed axle drive in a rigid-frame design) wrapping around both sides of the rear wheel are pure functional retro. The black teardrop-shaped gas tank and even the single, circular instrument binnacle match the bike’s ancestral past perfectly.

All those features are wrapped around the mechanical heart of the beautiful beast: the pushrod OHV 1802-cc flat twin, AKA “The Big Boxer.” Flat twins have powered Beemers since 1923, and this one is — no surprise — the most powerful one ever made. Peak power is 91 hp at 4750 rpm, and peak torque is a robust 116 lb ft at 3000 revs. Almost all of that torque — 110 lb ft — is available from 2000 to 4000 rpm, too. An exposed and nickel-plated solid shaft drive finishes it off, twisting the torque to the drive wheel just aft of the six-speed constant mesh manual transmission.

The seat is a low 27.2 inches, with wide flat plates instead of pegs for your feet, the latter which are located in what BMW says is the “mid-mounted position.” Looks like your boot toe is right under the cylinder cooling fins, so even if you’re in Miami, don’t ride in flip-flops.

Rides have not been handed out yet but having just returned another famous flat-two BMW motorcycle, the R 1250 RS, and having ridden a number of the R NineT flat twos before that, I am optimistic. Perhaps giddily so.

All this cool won’t come cheaply, though. The First Edition, with extra styling touches and a few cool tchotchkes, is $20,565 when you add destination. The base MSRP is $18,190. Is that too much? Consider that the buyer of this is not, obviously, looking for a sport bike and may simply want something cool to cruise on around town and to the beach in the summer. Such a customer may have already made his or her fortune and have the means to invest that much on a bike this beautiful. It’s almost half the price of an even moderately equipped X1, the least-expensive BMW auto on the market right now. So in that regard it’s a bargain. Can’t wait to take one around the block a few hundred times.

BMW R 18 Cruiser Specs
Base Price: $18,190
Drivetrain: 1802-cc flat twin, 6-speed manual, RWD
Output: 91 hp @ 4750 rpm; 116 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
Pros: A thing of beauty is a joy forever, and it looks fun to ride
Cons: One of the most expensive production bikes ever

From: Autoweek

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Auto News

2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 Engine Lineup Leak Reveals Twin-Turbo V-8 With 850 HP

A chart allegedly showing General Motors’ future engine offerings for the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 has made its way onto the internet, bringing with it an abundance of new rumors for the ‘Vette’s upcoming performance trims.

The leak comes fresh from a member of Corvette Forum, who claims to have obtained a photo showcasing the future lineup of the C8 Corvette from a “guy who knows a guy.” That being said—we can’t confirm the validity of the leak, however, it does tick quite a few boxes that we have been expecting to see released during the C8’s lifespan.

For example, the LT6 code is said to identify a 5.5-liter naturally aspirated V-8, that although smaller in displacement, reportedly carries a heftier punch, placing 600 ponies on tap alongside 620 pound-feet of torque. This power rating places the motor square in the sights of the Z06, though it raises eyebrows to expect GM to release a lower-output engine for its new flagship sports car. Perhaps for a new Grand Sport?

If you’re feeling more adventurous, more power is almost always the answer. The named LT7 platform reportedly slaps twin-turbochargers onto the 5.5-liter V-8 to produce 850 horsepower; a good fit for the rumored future ZR1. The LT7 specifications allegedly leaked create a bit of a kerfuffle when compared against previous reports that placed GM’s eyes on a Blackwing-based 4.8-liter twin-turbo platform, though neither has been confirmed.

But perhaps the most interesting takeaway is the inclusion of electrification across the LT platform. For example, the LT7 is listed as being available in both a traditional internal combustion engine with 750 pound-feet of torque, or an electrified behemoth with a monstrous 922 lb-ft. There’s even mention of the LT2 (which is currently in production) being eyed for a form of hybridization.

As reported by GMAuthority, the specifications for the LT6 match that expected from the now-defunct next-generation Camaro. So while there might be some claim to legitimacy, it might be more believable to think of the chart as a list of pre-production considerations for the C8 (especially considering that the LT2 is listed with 469 horsepower rather than the actual 495 horsepower), or maybe a list of general in-development engine programs.

While nothing in the chart seems wildly unrealistic, it’s important to treat this particular rumor with a large helping of skepticism. If this chart did, in fact, come from GM, there’s no telling if this particular range of engines made it through the chopping block and will find their respective places in the mid-engine sports car.

When reached out for comment, a Chevrolet spokesperson said the following: “We don’t engage in rumor and speculation but I can tell you that’s not a document familiar to the engineering team.”

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Toto Wolff addresses the Aston Martin rumours…again

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has once again stated he has no plans to become CEO or make an investment in Aston Martin.

With Aston Martin officially returning to Formula 1 as a works team in 2021 at the same time Wolff’s current Mercedes contract will have ended, the rumour mill is overdrive mode.

Wolff and Aston Martin investor, Lawrence Stroll, are good friends but Wolff has said the people making those connections are getting the maths all wrong.

“In most stories that could be read about it, people added up 1 + 1 and turned it into 3,” Wolff told Austrian newspaper, Osterreich.

“What is my current status? My participation in Mercedes is solid, my contract runs until the end of 2020, and we are still in good discussions about what we want to do together.

“We are discussing. But all of this has been pushed into the background by Corona. We all have bigger problems to solve now: human problems in our companies.”

“I’m not going to become CEO of Aston Martin, and I’m not going to make a strategic investment there either.”

Wolff went on to say that, in the “short term”, he plans to remain with the Silver Arrows, despite some unexplained unhappiness over the winter.

“I’m in the eighth year now,” he said.

“I love sports and this team. However, I am somewhat surprised by the turn of events over the winter and by the behaviour of individual people.

“Of course, this also has to do with my decision on what to do in 2020 and beyond. But I am and will remain the head of Mercedes Motorsport and F1 boss, and nothing will change in the short term.”

Although Wolff had previously denied the Aston Martin links in another interview, the rumours did persist that all was not well between Wolff and Mercedes as there are reportedly “cracks in the relationship”.

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