People who read this blog are aware that I am a BMW fan. There is a long personal and family history with the German car maker. Thus yesterday was a special day. BMW-Sauber secured its first GP win at Canada. Not only that, they finished both First (Kubica) and Second (Heidfeld). And to top it all Robert Kubica is now at #1in the drivers championship.
After Lewis Hamilton crashed into Kimi's car at the exit of the pit lane I started suffering. I wondered "what can go wrong?". Fortunately nothing broke, and neither Robert or Nick crashed...
Just 1 year after the massive accident the Pole driver had in Canada the way he set the pace and won the race was nothing short of amazing.
But my blissful day didn't end there. During the afternoon my Football (Soccer, ugh) team became Argentinean Champion for the first time in 4 years. After being left out of the "Libertadores Cup" on a not-so-nice way It was a great relief.
I am a happy man!
Jim blogged about AT&T Williams performance on yesterday's Canadian Grand Prix, held at the Isle du Notre Damme at Montreaux.
Luckily for the post I had in mind, Robert Kubica is miraculously safe so I can freely state it was the most entertaining Race this season.
From green light (well, the five red lights turning off, actually) to finish it was full of action and position changes. Yet, places 1 and 2 were defined on corner number two. After an excellent start, Nick Heidfeld almost grabbed the lead; yet both McLarens forced the BMW to take a not-quite-ideal ratio for corner 1. With Nick Glued to Hamilton's tale Alonso pushed too hard to keep second position and ended out of the track, while cutting short corner 2 and trimming the track side .grass with his front spoiler. Both Lewis Hamilton and Nick Heidfeld ended the grand prix in the same positions they held when they accelerated they way out of Corner 2 (aided, to some extent, with a good strategy choice).
Needless to say, as a BMW fan, I'm thrilled with Nicks performance; he made no mistakes at all on a track that forces breaks and tires to their very limit.
The most fun happened on positions 3 and above. Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing) seemed to go back to his first race ever, Australian GP 2002 on a Minardi, fighting positions with teeth and nails (on that instance Mark secured Minardi's first points in over three years). Although he ended up with no points, his combative style was refreshing.
Another not-so-revelation was Takuma Sato. I've always felt Takuma has great potential although the local Argentine press (as well as many form international specialized press) regard him as a "Dangerous Driver". I might get my head out for chopping after stating this, but he sort of reminds me of Gilles Villeneuve. Now I can dock for cover.
Takuma ended up sixth, Kudos for Aguri Suzuki and his Super Auguri F1 team, since they outperformed Honda's official team (Barrichelo ended 12th) with just a small portion of their budget and -probably- an older evolution of the engine.
Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso both made far more mistakes than are expected from top-notch drivers. Corners one and two were hell for Alonso, who ended up driving on the grass at least half a dozen times. Kimi continues to somewhat disappoint the Ferrari Tifosi (Jean Todt, take my advice: make Kimi race for Vodka instead of money...!).
With 4 Pace Car interventions (CART or Indy fans might be used to this, in Formula One it's rather exceptional), all times were cut off, providing chances for drivers to show off. Canada's long straights which end on first or second gear turns provide un-equaled chances for overtaking. Those pilots that were inspired got the best out of this (Wurz, Sato and Kubica until he crashed).
Kubica's accident was the most spectacular I've seen in a long time (I remember Germany 2002, I think, where Ralf Schumacher forced a 6 or 7 car crash just on the first corner). It must be said that the security measures and the safety cell on the cars (as well as the HANS device) proved they work perfectly. I'm pretty sure that without the HANS, the Pole driver would of ended up as another Formula 1 casualty. When I watched the crash I thought he should be safe, since Robert's right hand was moving. Then the car came to a halt, and his head dropped to the side. That got me worried. When the TV showed the repetitions I worried even more. The crash was so stunning I couldn't conceive he could "walk out of it", yet, only 24 hours after the incident, he did.
Lewis Hamilton is a driving god, BMW is improving it's performance (it is the third Team already), Ferrari and McLaren are head to head (depending on the track one outperforms the other), I'll be glued to my TV for the rest of the season. And this is a statement I wanted to make since... hm... 1999
For quite some time I've been wanting to talk about two of my all time favorites amongst cars, and, so it happens one is a "redesign" (or tribute) of the other. So, we'll better start with the "oldest" of them.
BMW 507 - 1956
The 507 was the reply to Mercedes Benz and Jaguar's sports cars success. Up to that point the company had focus on post-war cars, after rebuilding itself by selling smaller and lower end cars. During sometime in the mid 50's it had become increasingly obvious that the wold's economy was in recovery and that people were willing to spend good money in more luxurious cars, with Americans heading this trend.
It was Count Albrecht von Goertz who headed the design of this classic. It must of been quite surprising that after designing the very pre-1939 looking 502 and 503, he was able to pull this design; quite iconic and ahead of its time (it looks 1960'ish).
After a couple of years in production, it became obvious that the market wasn't all that ready fur such car, and the company lost money upon it. I personally think that the overseas sales should have been more in focus at the time, but BMW failed to gain the heart of Americans. If Porsche hadn't been successful I'd be tempted to blame that to anti-German feelings after the war concluded, I guess it was just good old poor marketing. Either way BMW went full throttle to build cheaper cars to save itself from bankruptcy.
Only 252 were ever made, and that is the main reason why such cars can hit the 300,000 US dollars on auction this days. One of it's most noteworthy owners was Elvis Presley.
BMW Z8 - 2000
The Z07 was meant for production. But not as quickly as it happened. The car was a concept (named after the 507, and the year of it's creation: 1997). It all quickly shifted after 1997's Tokyo auto show, where the car was highly regarded and admired.
BMW was already looking for a refresh of it's highly successful Z3 (and it's variants), but the Z8 was in a higher price range; it is a fully featured sports car, by nature. Going from 0 to 100km/h in 4.3 seconds is no joke.
It's concept car birth gave the Z8 some unique features, such as being the first production car to feature neon headlights, and the single spin command that would make it into the 5 and 7 series a couple of years later.
Born a classic, the car is as expensive used as it was out of factory, and with only 5,700 cars ever to leave the production lines, one can only expect prices to go higher.
Although the 507 was never a commercially viable, it has payed off BMW over time. It proved the company could still make sports cars which were highly desirable (although the company would take a long way to return to roadsters) high quality and everlasting. It followed the line of pre-war cars such as the 328 (remember my grandpa's car?) and it set the ground for such cars as the M1 and Z1.
The Z8 was also a proof of concept, and, although the Z4 is not as high-ended or "sportsy" it follows the same line.
I only hope to be able to see the next BMW to feature this sort of detailing:
507 Side detail.
Z8 Side detail