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Ten things we learned this week: October 27, 2017 edition

Renault leaves Formula E, Gordon Murray sets up a new company and eight other quite interesting things...

  1. Renault’s leaving Formula E to focus on Formula 1

    Yep, it’s the reverse of basically every story over the past few months. Unlike Porsche and Audi, who are both jumping ship from dino-juice-powered racing in favour of whizzing around on volts and amps, Renault’s going the other way. 

    Even though Renault’s been victorious for the past three years in a row – so, every season so far – the 2017/18 season will be the team’s last. 

    It makes sense, in a way – in 2018, they’re going to be running their own team as well as supplying engines to a (hopefully) resurgent McLaren. And Nissan (allied with Renault for a while now) is stepping in to fill the gap – and it appears they’re not interested in family rivalry. 

    On the other hand, it could just be that Renault’s bosses aren’t as sure of their chances in Formula E, now that the Germans  have descended… 

  2. You can buy the Reliant Regal from Only Fools and Horses

    People from places other than the UK – look away now, because you won’t get why we’re getting all gooey-eyed over a yellow Reliant Regal. It’s a famous telly car from Only Fools and Horses, a much-loved sitcom in these parts – and it’s getting auctioned in Birmingham next month. Naturally many Reliants were used in the making of the show. This one was featured in the ’02 Christmas Special. It has 71,778 miles, its old handbook and a history file from the BBC confirming its authenticity. How much? No matter. But invest in this andy maybe one day, you’ll be a millionaire… Sorry.

  3. Yamaha’s come up with… something

    OK, we’re going to take a break from our usual ‘pour scorn on from a great height’ routine and try to come up with reasons why Yamaha’s trike-thingy is better than, say, a regular motorcycle. 

    So. Er. Right.

    Well, if there are more wheels, there’s more rubber, and more grip! Like the six-wheeled Tyrell P34 F1 car. And if you have more grip, you can (exceptionally theoretically) brake harder and turn in with more force without washing out the front end and low-siding. 

    However, as a motorbike rider in the office points out, you can already brake hard enough with one front wheel that the back one lifts off the ground, such is the force you can exert. And yes, it is related to the angle of the front forks – if it’s a sports bike, you’re much more likely to do an impromptu stoppie than if you’re on a cruiser. But we do feel that maximum braking on the Yamaha Niken would result in the most spectacular cartwheels of all time. 

    As for steering? Well, he seems to think that the doubling the size of the contact patch at the front end would mean more stability and ultimately faster cornering, at the expense of “straight line speed… and looking like a moron.”

    Normal programming has resumed. 

  4. Ford now has a robotic butt for seat testing

    After analysing the way people get in and out of cars, Ford’s stress-testers have come up with a novel solution to ensure your new Fiesta’s seat doesn’t give you square butt syndrome or become threadbare from your selvedge denim - “a testing robot [that] sits in and out of a seat 25,000 times.”

    There’s also “a metallic butt” that they use to test how the seat conforms to your tuchus.

    Isn’t engineering wonderful? 
     

  5. Top-end fashion now includes car mats

    High fashion gets a bit of a bad rap sometimes. Sure, there have been sartorial hits and misses along the way, but look – if we didn’t reinvent, reimagine and revitalise, we’d all still be wearing suits and trilbies to work. But do go ahead and put this directly into the ‘miss’ column.

    With “thermoformed panels inspired from [sic] car design”, a “rubber Balenciaga logo” and “edges trimmed with ribbing”, this is – and there’s no other way to put it – a skirt that looks like a rubber car mat, that costs £1,795.

  6. A man has had his in-car singing criticised – rather severely

    “Define ‘seriously,’” we hear you say. Well, how does 149 of your finest Canadian dollars grab you? Oh, and if you only work in sterling, that’s about £88. And that’s a harsher criticism than even Simon Cowell could level.

    So, you might be wondering, how did all of this actually play out? Well, police pulled over a Montrealer (yep, that’s someone from Montreal) and fined him for ‘public screaming’. 

    It turns out that the hapless driver was singing the oft-repeated refrain from his favourite tune, ‘Gonna Make You Sweat’, better known as that song where they shout “EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!”

    You can imagine the rest. 

  7. Gordon Murray’s started his own car company…

    This time around, it’s not the little track weapons like the few that emerged from the Light Car Company - it’s more like his seminal hit, the McLaren F1.

    Apparently, Gordon Murray Automotive (catchy, innit?) will “buck the trend for ever more complicated and heavy vehicles”, instead blending “the principles applied to the McLaren F1” and his famous iStream production process. 

    Go ahead and sign us right up.

  8. Singapore’s car population has hit its peak

    The world’s population is increasing at a seemingly exponential rate. And, even with properly picky buyers, we’re not slowing down on our car purchases.

    Well, with one exception: Singapore. Yes, the Venice of southeast Asia has already put the screws to car ownership in the past, introducing the Certificate of Entitlement in 1990 (a very expensive permission slip from the government to even own a car, let alone drive) and taxes that can come to two and even three times the cost of the car. Let that sink in for a moment. 

    Now, things have gotten even harder for prospective car owners. The 0.25 per cent yearly growth allowed in Singapore’s car population has now been reduced to zero. So, from now on, it’s a ‘one in, one out’ kind of deal, with less than 900,000 cars to serve the needs of nearly six million inhabitants. Yeesh.

  9. Italy’s celebrated 60 years of the Fiat 500… with a coin

    It’s been released by the Italian State Mint, and depicts both the original Fiat 500 (known as the 500 Nuova back in 1957, to distinguish it from the then-old Fiat 500) and the new one – which, it must be said, has been around for a decade now. 

    In perhaps the best insight into Italian economics ever, the coin has a face value of €5, yet will set you back €40. 

  10. This safety car is safe

    It’s the best joke ever, right?

    To fulfil its duties as a WTCC safety car, there’s much carbon and downforce. For safety, surely. 

     

     

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