Thursday, March 3, 2011

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1st Gear:Upset with his stranglehold of the world's most popular motorsport, Formula 1 mastermind Bernie Ecclestone now wants to control the weather. Noticing that some F1 races are getting a little dry, Bernie wants to turn the sprinklers on to create excitement. Actual quote: "Why not let it 'rain' in the middle of a race for 20 minutes, or the last 10 laps? Maybe with a two-minute warning ahead of it. Suspense would be guaranteed." F1, racing's answer to "The Office."


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2nd Gear:Honda said this morning it has to recall 36,656 Civic Hybrids from the 2006-2007 model years to replace a faulty power inverter that could lead to fiery death engine stalling and bad headlights. Don't Honda Civic hybrid owners want to keep their engines off as much as possible?


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3rd Gear:General Motors didn't just lead the sales surge for February because it's a nice group of people selling quality cars. An average discount of $3,732, the highest in the industry and up 15% from January, probably helped a little too. GM says everything's under control, even though some other analysts are wondering why it needs interest-free loans on 2011 models.


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4th Gear:Last month, French auto giant Renault fired three long-time executives it claimed were at the heart of an international spy ring aimed at stealing the company's electric-vehicle secrets. Now, after probes from prosecutors in several countries, it doesn't seem so certain there was spying, with a spokeswoman saying: "Either way we will have been victims – victims of what, I don't know."


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5th Gear:Detroit civic leaders unveiled a $221-million plan to renovate Cobo Hall, the place we live for a few days every January during the Detroit Auto Show. Why, might you wonder, would a city in dire financial trouble want to spend that much on an old convention center? Because if it didn't, the dealers who run the Detroit Auto Show were willing to make it the Suburban Detroit Auto Show, taking its several hundred thousand visitors with it.


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6th Gear:Old Jalopnik pal Bill Caswell ran into a new kind of challenge while down in Mexico for a World Rally Championship event. "We were pulled over and robbed," Caswell said via Facebook. "Politely and kindly, but they reached into our wallet and took all our cash." Thankfully, the robbers missed Caswell's sound dock, so he still has tunes.


Reverse:

⏎ Jamie Hresko, the chief of General Motors' powertrain unit and one of those execs riding CEO Dan Akerson's merry-go-round, jumped off Wednesday after a 28-year career. [Freep]

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⏎ Daimler-Benz chairman Manfred Bischoff gets another five-year contract. [Automotive World]

⏎ Wanna bet how many rental cars GM has leased to companies like Hertz in North America? If you guessed less than 118,000, you're low. [SEC]

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⏎ Auto dealers will still get some regulation from the consumer protection agency they won an exemption from. [Ward's]

Today in Automotive History:

On this date in 2009, Mercedes began selling the Maybach Zeppelin, the $600,000 sedan which included the world's first perfume-atomizing system, for which customers could even have their own personal fragrance designed. It's like an F1 sprinkler for your nose. [History]

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DISCUSSION

If you get a chance go read the full Bernie interview at F1.com. It will make you hate him even more. His love of Ferrari is there in two places

question - How long will Sebastian Vettel be with Red Bull?

answer - his eyes shouldnt wander but all drivers aspire to be with Ferrari

Plus how he would own a Ferrari team if he had a choice

Then theres the bit about Kubica and how you would stop him from Rallying

"if you want to Rally thats fine but we are going to give your seat to the testing and reserve driver while you do that"

But then theres this odd bit at the end about women in F1. Which i can only imagine he's trying to set up his current wife to run F1 when he finally passes from this mortal plane to the great Ferrari team in the sky

edit - I forgot the part where Bernie said that August would be fine for Bahrain because the terms werent that sensitive

edit2 - Sebastien Vettel just released this comments about Bahrain. Speed just posted it at [formula-one.speedtv.com]

If Sebastian Vettel was in charge of Formula One, he would not reschedule the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix.

With political protests still ongoing in the island Kingdom, it has been suggested that either an August or November date is likely if Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA do reinstate the postponed race later this season.

The problem with August is that temperatures in Bahrain are likely to be dangerously high, while the date would also interfere with F1's summer break.

A pairing with Abu Dhabi in November, meanwhile, would create a strenuous triple back-to-back 'flyaway' race scheduling at the tail-end of an already busy calendar.

"The end of a season is already stressful enough, and we seem to have enough races anyway," reigning World Champion Vettel reportedly told Finland's Turun Sanomat at the Geneva motor show.