Lightning Strikes the TTAC Podcast

The TTAC podcast is back! In our fourth episode, we talk Ford Lightning, Kia Sportage, Formula One in Miami, and the best cars from 2007.

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VW CEO Says Audi and Porsche Will Be Joining F1

Audi and Porsche have been talking about Formula One for ages and it appears that the talk is finally being replaced by action. Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess has confirmed that both will be entering F1 in the near future.

While the exact nature of their involvement hasn’t been explained, it’s assumed that Audi will be purchasing one of the existing teams while Porsche will become a purveyor of engines. Diess has only confirmed that the companies will be getting involved thus far.

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Russian Grand Prix Off the Grid, At Least For Now

Russia invaded Ukraine this week, and the geopolitical situation is making it difficult to hold international sporting events in Russia, for reasons that should be obvious.

This means that the Russian Grand Prix has been dumped from the 2022 slate.

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They Knighted Lewis Hamilton After He Lost

Lewis Hamilton was knighted by the British royal family on Wednesday. The seven-time Formula 1 champion was dubbed by a sword held by Prince Charles at Windsor Castle, presumably because Gan-Gan and company thought he was due for another title.

Instead, Hamilton lost to Max Verstappen during the final lap of the last race at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that took place on Sunday. Verstappen squeaked by the 36-year old Brit on Lap 58, creating a bunch of confusion about whether or not the pass took place while the safety car was on the field. Mercedes protested, alleging that Max had made an illegal pass and that Hamilton would have won the event if all lapped vehicles had overtaken the safety car due to the time allotted before the restart. It was a close race with a confusing ending. But the victory was ultimately handed to Verstappen — making knighthood a consolatory prize for Hamilton.

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Horses, Porsche to Formula 1, and the Future of Internal Combustion

In 1921, there were more than 25 million horses in a United States populated by less than 110 million humans. I’m not a mathematographer, by any means, but I think that puts us at a ratio of about one horse for every four-ish people out there. And, just like there are many kinds of people, there are many kinds of horses, too. There are Quarter Horses, paints, Arabians, Appaloosas, and – of course – Thoroughbred racing horses.

Something strange has happened in the last hundred years, though. There are a lot more people and a lot fewer horses, for one thing – just 3 million horses for a whopping 330 million Americans – but it’s a curious thing that there are a lot more Thoroughbreds in 2021 than there were in 1921. What’s more, it’s almost certain that the meticulously bred horses spending their 21st Century days in luxurious stables are serving a vastly different purpose than their hard-working forbears.

You see where I’m going with this, right?

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Rare Rides: The 1981 Lotus 87 Formula One Car, in Black Gold

While the Rare Rides series has featured a few Lotus vehicles in past, none of them rose quite to the importance of today’s single-seat example. A one-of-one, it’s the car Lotus used in the 1981 Formula One racing series.

And now you can buy it, and drive it on quick jaunts to Target or Cracker Barrel.

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New F1 Teams Have To Pay $200 Million Under Latest Agreement

Interested in joining Formula 1? We hope you have $200 million handy because that’s the amount you have to pay to enter a new team under the sport’s seventh Concorde Agreement. Signed by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the Constructors Association, and existing F1 teams last month, this arrangement exists to help ensure participants remain committed to the sport to offer organizers and broadcasters the ability to maximize marketability.

They also tend to be kept a secret, with only their most general aspects of the deal ever making it out to the public. We already knew that teams would be subject to additional fees through 2025 to prove they were serious about joining while discouraging existing names from exiting the sport. But McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has since confirmed the amount with Racer. Over the weekend he said new entrants would be starring down the barrel of a $200-million fee, adding that the rationale was to avoid diluting the existing prize totals split between teams.

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Dulling Down the Sport: FIA Considers Digitized Checkered Flag After F1 Mishap

Over the weekend, model Winnie Harlow mistakenly waved the checkered flag a lap early at otherwise dull Canadian Formula One Grand Prix. While not the first incident of its kind, the error has pushed the FIA into considering the adoption of a digitized checkered flag, leaving the black-and-white banner to serve in a more symbolic capacity.

Apparently, Harlow had been informed by an official that the race was ending and prematurely flew the flag — an understandable mistake on her part.

Sebastian Vettel still nabbed his 50th career grand prix win, despite the confusion. However, there are dangers stemming from accidentally calling a race early that the FIA wants to address. With drivers perpetually plugged into their team via radio headsets, it’s unlikely most would automatically assume the event was over. But risks remain if the pilot of a lead car suddenly assumes victory has been cinched. Bleeding off speed for a victory lap could result in pursuing cars passing or even striking the vehicle.

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Oh Snap! F1 Mechanic Breaks Leg During Ferrari Pit Stop, Rikknen Gets DNF

It’s easy to forget that, like drivers, pit crew members frequently put themselves in harm’s way for the big win. We saw a brutal reminder of this on Sunday when Ferrari mechanic Francesco Cigorini had his leg run over by driver Kimi Räikkönen post-release. While the incident wasn’t life threatening, it did serve to show that the pit lane is not for the faint of heart (nor is the video, seen below).

Räikkönen had come in for his second tire swap of the Bahrain Grand Prix and was given the go ahead to launch before Cigorini had finished his work. He and another mechanic were still attempting to remove the left rear tire when the car was released and Francesco was struck. The car was stopped while still in pit lane and retired immediately, killing any hope of a podium finish. The normally calm Räikkönen removed his steering wheel and threw it into the cockpit in anger after realizing he’d be stuck with a DNF.

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Rare Rides: The Jaguar XJR-15 You've Never Seen Before

We’re having a Jaguar kick in the Rare Rides series, and by that I mean two cars in a row from the leaping cat.

Though most everyone’s heard of the XJ220, fewer are likely aware of its predecessor: the XJR-15. It’s not slow, it isn’t cheap, and it’s not luxurious.

You want it!

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Formula One Swaps Out 'Grid Girls' for 'Grid Kids'

Late last month, Formula One announced it would no longer be using the professionally employed models colloquially known as grid girls, starting with the 2018 season. The rationale, according to managing director of commercial operations Sean Bratches, was that times had changed.

“While the practice of employing grid girls has been a staple of Formula 1 Grands Prix for decades, we feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms,” Bratches explained in a release. “We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world.”

The decision was mocked as a prudish response to PC culture by some, while others praised it as a major victory against the objectification of women. Regardless, the women won’t be coming back in March. However, there will be a replacement. In a recent announcement, F1 said it will replace its grid girls with “Grid Kids.”

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Formula One Gets New Logo for Next Season

With the conclusion of the 2017 season, Formula One decided it was time to unveil its new logo at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The change underlines a “new era” for the sport under Liberty Media and, admittedly, does seem to be a bit more with the times.

While it was a fine race, Valtteri Bottas beat both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, there was no upset in the final standings. Hamilton had secured ultimate victory for himself and Mercedes earlier in the season, while Vettel and the Ferrari team held onto second place. Bottas took third overall, leaving the new logo as the only genuine surprise of the day.

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Rare Rides: The 1979 BMW M1 - BMW Wants to Race, but Wait a Minute (Part II)

In our last Rare Ride entry we covered the difficult conception and birth of the BMW M1 at the hands of a financially faltering Lamborghini. In Part II, we talk about the second issue BMW faced, which would ultimately alter (and shorten) the M1’s life.

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Rare Rides: The 1981 BMW M1, Where BMW Had All the Problems (Part I)

BMW presently sells the hybrid i8 to the eco-conscious performance driver. It is mid-engined, has butterfly doors and what have you, and it’s quite striking.

But did you know that it’s not the first mid-engine BMW? No, that title goes to our Rare Ride today — the M1, from all the way back in 1981. Don’t worry, it’s not all that Malaisey.

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Formula One Responds to Ferrari's Unenthusiastic Reaction to New Rules

Last week, Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne expressed his distaste for what he perceived as a less-than-desirable update to Formula One’s engine rules. He even suggested the brand might remove itself from the sport if Liberty Media doesn’t reconsider some of its proposals for 2021.

“I understand that Liberty may have taken these into account in coming up with their views,” Marchionne said. “But I think it needs to be absolutely clear that unless we find a set of circumstances, the results of which are beneficial to the maintenance of the brand, and the marketplace, and to the strengthening of the unique position for Ferrari, Ferrari will not play.”

Still in the midst of discussions, Formula One took time to defend itself against Ferrari’s claim that the new rules would make it the global equivalent of NASCAR.

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  • SCE to AUX Just add a split rear window, and the hybrid sins will be forgiven.
  • SCE to AUX Just add a split rear window, and the hybrid sins will be forgiven.
  • SCE to AUX Maybe those union dues will help soften the landing. Employment there used to be 4000 people, and the plant has been at risk for 15 years. Stellantis did recently say that it would be trimming dead wood so it could rebuild the company. The Cherokee is finished, but I bet the plant reopens with a smaller workforce once Stellantis figures out what to do with it.
  • Zipper69 The Bronco is a soft option and has the style that the Jeep lacks. The actual ability of the respective vehicles is irrelevant, they "compete" on image alone. The Bronco is new and trendy and production can't keep pace with demand
  • MaintenanceCosts Will the Bronco have a four-motor configuration a la Rivian? That seems to me like the right approach for an EV off-roader. Enables lots of neat tricks.