JT on Cars — Issue #2: Toyota takes the headlines again!!!!
Hello and welcome to the second issue of my newsletter. This time, I bring you some car news andt he science behind the fall from grace of Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team.
Toyota makes the news again!!
Only in the last issue, I was writing about the fabulous and exciting GR86 which with a manual gearbox was priced at a modest £30000. The cars went on sale on the 20th of April and unsurprisingly all of the UK allocation was sold out within 90 minutes. If you want a GR86 now, you would have to be put on a waiting list and pray for someone to cancel their order. It is just a good reassurance that the car culture in the UK is very much alive and people still want to experience drives that are fun and engaging. Otherwise, why would anyone want a not so practical 230 bhp, rear wheel drive car with a manual gearbox??? The worst of it is that the GR86 will only be on sale for 2 years in the UK due to looming regulation changes and all of the 2 year allocation has been spoken for and there is no allocation increase expected from Toyota.
With that dissapointing news from Toyota, I also come bearing good news. When the fifth generation of Toyota Supra was launched, most of us were grumpy as it only came with an automatic transmission. This was due to the fact that the car shared the chassis and all the other components with the BMW Z4. It was basically a BMW under the skin with a Supra logo on it and it didn’t go unnoticed. The Supra also got the GR treatment from the racing arm of Toyota called Gazoo Racing. Even still, it remained an automatic car which did not sit well with JDM fans. Most of this generation grew up watching Paul Walker make so many gear shifts in a fourth generation Supra that we ended up loosing count of the number of gears on the car. After nearly 3 year wait, Toyota has announced a manual GR Supra. The press release mentions an all new transmission which would only make sense as the BMW Z4 did not come in with a manual gearbox. Therefore, this manual Supra will have a custom made gearbox most probably by Toyota themselves. These cars will have a red Supra logo on them to signify the fact that they have a manual gearbox. No information has been provided about the release date but I will keep you all posted once it has been confirmed.
BMW’s response to electric Limousines
I don’t get excited about cars that are meant to be driven in. Cars that are best suited for the passenger rather than the driver. Don’t mistake me, but I love to be at the wheel and not sitting in absolute luxury in the back seat. But there are some cars which begs to be atleast spoken about or a small space in a car magazine. To be honest, the people who can afford these cars are not going to be reading a car magazine and definitely not this newsletter. But these high end luxury cars come out with tech which would trickle down into everyday cars. For example, sat nav came on the S class before it became a staple in all the current cars.
This week BMW launched it’s 7 series. Gone are the days of large engines in the bonnet. The electric variant being launched in Europe comes with 2 electric motors pumping out 544 bhp which should be good for 310 miles on a full charge. This should be more than sufficient for the people who can afford to be chauffeured around. The car will also be launched with combustion engines and as hybrids in some other markets.
The car comes with the not so fan favourite large grills in the front and this time it has been illuminated along the edges. The front looks acceptable apart from the grills and the car is extremely desirable. For starters, it has no door handles. The doors open and close with a touch of a button. The interior is made of Cashmere wool and Merino Leather. The back seat can be turned to a lounge with a touch of a button and the best feature of all is the large 31 inch wide screen that drops down from the roof which comes with Amazon Fire TV and 5G connectivity. All the controls from the back are done through a smart phone size touch screen morphed into the doors.
It is definitely a nice place to be but for the moment I will stick to the driving seat and enjoy the roads and drive before it all comes crashing down. Atleast according to the next section.
Is intrusive speed control the future?
The EU has come forward with a provisional agreement which would enforce car manufacturers to fit speed limiters in new cars. This limiter will supposedly work with GPS and traffic cameras and would electronically control the speed of a car when it passes the speed limit. This could either be by reducing the engine power or the accelerator being pushed back. Even though UK is not in the EU anymore, it plans to follow the EU.
For now, there is only a provisional agreement so it is not set in stone YET. But the whole concept of it is bizzare. Every driver goes through a licensing procedure and they are given the responsibility to drive their vehicles in a safe manner. It is basically intrusion of independent decision making. Petrol heads are a community of people who for the most part operate safely and restrictions such as these will only cause the community to collapse and die. Hopefully, the government would stop treating us drivers like kindergarten kids and let every driver taken responsibility for their own decisions rather than be ‘controlled’.
Mercedes’ fall from grace
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team has been the most successful team in the modern hybrid era of Formula 1 with 7 drivers championships and 8 constructors championships. But this years aero regulation changes have not been favourable to say the least. The Mercedes works team and the customer teams seem to be suffering this year. Compared to the first couple of races, the customer teams have somewhat bounced back from what was thought to be an underperforming power unit. But the works team is still going through a hard time with both cars being knocked out in Q2 at the Emilia Romagna Gran Prix (Imola for us simpletons). This is the first time this has happened since Japan 2012. So what is the reason for it? The simple, one word answer would be porpoising.
So what is porpoising you might ask. To explain that, lets look at the difference between the last year’s car to this year’s car. The whole aerodynamics of the car has been overhauled under the new regulations. The main change we will need to understand is under the car. This new era of cars are considered to be ground effects cars. Last time a cars were considered to have ground effects was in the late 70’s (you are old if you were alive then). Lotus 79 was considered to be the first ground effects car in F1. The basic concept of ground effects is that more air is allowed to pass underneath the car and when this air passes at a high speed (ie — when the car goes faster), this fast moving air results in a lower pressure underneath the car compared to the top of the car which results in the car being sucked onto the ground like a vacuum cleaner does. This would mean more downforce which would mean more cornering speed.
The new 2022 cars have followed this concept and this required some tunnels underneath the car floor called Venturi Tunnels and bigger diffusers. This also helps the air coming out of the back of the car more streamlined and away from the car that is following, making it easier to follow a car compared to the previous gen. So that is ground effects, but how is that related to porpoising you ask.
Porpoising has been seem in the Mercedes and Ferrari F1 cars. It means the car bouncing violently when at high speeds. This has only been noticeable in these 2 teams while the others have managed to reduce them. Porpoising is the unwanted by-product of ground effects. As mentioned above, ground effects suck the floor of the car closer to the ground resulting in more downforce and porposing happens when this suction is too much that it results in the floor getting too closer to the ground which cuts off the required amount of air passing underneath which in turn reduces the downforce. This reduction in downforce causes the car to bounce back and when the car is back to the normal position, ground effects starts working which brings the car closer to the ground again and this cycle goes on. Mercedes’ porpoising so bad that they have to lift off the accelerator in the straights according to the team principal Toto Wolff. Even though Ferrari has visible porposing, they don’t seem to loose performance.
Hope you enjoyed my second issue. Please spread the word to your friends and family and subscribe to my newletter for more car news, insights, and like today, some interesting technical analysis.