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    Car Guy Chronicles

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  • ’17 MERCEDES-BENZ SL65: SUNSHINE SUPERCAR!

    “Dial ‘SL65’ if you want a classic aluminum-bodied two-seat roadster with an abundance of luxo-tech and V12 power,” blogs Dan Scanlan.

    Inside the ‘17 Mercedes-Benz SL65 Roadster’s sleek-but-familiar frame resides a supercar’s worth of power – a handcrafted twin-turbocharged 6-liter V-12 with, delivering 621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque at a low 2,300 to 4,300 rpm. And, builder Antonio Donadai’s signature on its carbon fiber engine cover!

    This SL is the seventh in a series of arguably the best known Benzes, born in 1954 as the 300 SL Gullwing coupe. Tests of uber-SLs are rarities, the last one we had an SL550 three years ago with 429 horsepower. It hit 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and 100-mph in 9.7 seconds, averaging 20 mpg on premium fuel with auto engine shutoff engaged. Now we had the latest SL65 with five different driving programs – Comfort, Sport, Sport +, RACE and Individual.

    Each successive selection makes engine and transmission response a bit quicker and tightens the suspension and via software. SPORT+ mode really firms up the suspension, snaps off firm upshifts and throttle-blipping downshifts with some serious snarl. INDIVIDUAL mode lets the driver mix how they want the steering, drive system and suspension. Then RACE mode slams shifts at full throttle and backs off stability control as it sets suspension on full firm. RACE also likes you to paddle shift, guided by a handy upshift light.

    Set it in Sport+ and we sprinted to 60-mph in 4 seconds flat with wheelspin in the second and third gear shifts, reaching 100 mph in 8.2 seconds. Passing power was abundant, the engine snarling, the wide rear rubber giving just a wiggle of traction squirm. We averaged 10 mpg on premium. Sport, Sport + and RACE also allowed the exhaust to really roar, with an explosive “pop-pop-SNAP!” from the pipes when you backed off.

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  • Alonso: ‘I love Ferrari…I will stay until the end’

    If you’re looking at Ferrari’s signing of Kimi Raikkonen from a distance, you could imagine that Fernando Alonso may not be too happy with the arrival of the Fin at a team that’s been his home for a few years now. The fact is, Alonso has often been accused of having an “Alonso clause” which states that he’s the #1 driver at the team. Whether that clause exists or not is pointless because Alonso is the kind of driver that doesn’t need such a clause.

    As the press digest the Raikkonen announcement, many are wondering if the recent, curt commentary that Alonso has had over race radio or in the press about the pace of the Ferrari or the decisions they team have made during a race are signs of a fissure forming into a serious crack in the harmony of Ferrari and Alonso.

    Perhaps but the notion is more damning of Felipe Massa’s position within the team and the lack of any real representation of a threat to Alonso than what, apparently, Raikkonen poses. While admiring and ruminating on Massa’s terrific team-player attitude and top-shelf car skills, what the media are effectively saying is that dumping Massa and getting Raikkonen is a major improvement and a real threat to Alonso. Rumors even had Alonso threatening not to drive a few weeks back due to the signing of Raikkonen.

    Those are, of course, all rumors and now it seems that McLaren have chimed in saying they would be interested in acquiring Alonso if it were possible contractually. This was prompted, I assume, by the press assuming that Alonso just isn’t going to stay at Ferrari with Raikkonen coming on board such is the threat to his #1 status and a real threat to his on-track performance.

    To be honest, I think a lot of this is rubbish. This is a two-time champion who is arguably the best, most complete driver on the grid and while Kimi will do what Massa couldn’t—score more points and bolster Ferrari’s ability to make a real charge for the title—I am not convinced that he will relegate Alonso to a supporting role and dominate the Spaniard in 2014.

    If there is any truth to Alonso being upset, it could be that the team was supposed to be built around him and him alone similar to what 7-time World Champion Michael Schumacher enjoyed while at Ferrari. A driver like Alonso has little to fear from any driver on the grid such is his skill and the total package he represents when driving in anger.

    Felipe Massa beat Kimi Raikkonen when the Fin was previously at the team in 2008 and Ferrari paid Raikkonen to go away in order to bring Alonso over from McLaren. Now McLaren are being out-maneuvered in the top-shelf driver market and they are suggesting that a disgruntled Alonso might have a home in Woking. Alonso says it’s rubbish:

    “Not really,” the Spaniard said, when asked if a return to McLaren attracted him. “I keep repeating every weekend – and I don’t know why I have to keep repeating – I love Ferrari and I will stay in Ferrari until the end.

    “It is nice to have the comments from the other team principals every year saying they respect my job and my profesionality – especially McLaren as there were so many rumours that we had a lot of problems that year, but I always say that I had no problems with anyone. It was just the philosophy of the team or rather one man in the team that is no longer there.

    “It is good to have these comments, but I have no intention (of leaving). I have three more years with Ferrari and I hope many more to come if we can extend the contract and that will be my hope.”

    I tend to believe Alonso on this point as Ferrari is re-signing Raikkonen to bring the best driver pairing they can get in 2014. They know the car is the weakest link in Alonso’s quest for the title but it wasn’t the weakest link in Massa’s quest to be a points-scoring teammate. Massa left a lot on the table, which is something Alonso rarely does due to a lack of focus, apathy or disinterest. I doubt Ferrari felt the same level of focus and commitment from Kimi in 2009 when the Fin showed up, drove the car and went home.

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  • Raikkonen Wants Ferrari Return Says Jordan

    Kimi RaikkonenKimi Raikkonen is targeting a move to Ferrari following Red Bull’s decision to sign Daniel Ricciardo, BBC F1 chief analyst Eddie Jordan says.
    A deal for the Finn to return to the team for whom he won the 2007 titlemay be announced as soon as next month’s Italian Grand Prix, Jordan said.
    Ferrari said the claim was “not true” and that no decision had yet been made.
    Jordan added that Ricciardo, 24, had already signed to partner Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull next season.
    Ricciardo’s promotion from junior team Toro Rosso is to be announced at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, Jordan said.
    A Red Bull spokeswoman said: “We don’t have anything to announce at present but will advise when we do.”
    A Ferrari spokesman said the Italian team were concentrating on improving their car to boost Fernando Alonso’s title challenge.
    He added: “This is the exact same scenario as last year – with not only Kimi but a long list of other drivers allegedly going to Ferrari.
    “At the moment our priority is produce the car for Fernando and Felipe (Massa) and a decision on the 2014 line-up will be made at the appropriate moment, which is not right now.”
    On Monday, Raikkonen’s manager Steve Robertson told BBC Sport’s chief F1 writer Andrew Benson that the 20-time grand prix winner, 33, would not be driving for Red Bull next year.
    Robertson said: “Talks broke down. We haven’t spoken for a little while and it’s clear Kimi won’t be driving for Red Bull in 2014.
    “Kimi’s a free agent. He still has options out there.
    “There’s a lot of things happening behind the scenes and I’m pretty confident he will be in F1 next year.”
    Asked specifically whether Ferrari were an option, he said: “Until they confirm their seats, my job is to speak to all the teams and see what’s available.”
    Jordan said Raikkonen had made a return to Red Bull his first priority but when talks with the world champions broke down, he turned his attention to Ferrari.
    He could also stay with current team Lotus for a third season.
    Alonso is under contract until the end of 2016, but Ferrari are considering replacing Massa, who has had an inconsistent season.
    BBC Sport understands that senior figures within the Ferrari team want Massa out and are keen for Raikkonen to return but that Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo is not keen on the idea.
    Signing Raikkonen would be an admission they had made a mistake when they chose to end his contract a year early at the end of 2009 and pay him not to drive for them in 2010, when Alonso joined.
    They preferred Massa as the Spaniard’s partner, despite the Brazilian at the time recovering from a fractured skull sustained in an accident at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.

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