The implications of having your vehicle impounded by the police can be severe. The financial penalties alone can have a major impact, with fixed penalty notices and storage fees accruing on a daily basis at the storage compound. The costs don’t end there, though, as you could also have your driver’s license endorsed which could make it really difficult to find insurance in the future without the help of an impounded car insurance specialist.
Seized vehicles seem to be a hot topic in the news of late. Articles about the number of uninsured drivers being caught and reports of new police campaigns and crackdowns are becoming common amongst the pages of most newspapers. The number of cars, vans and motorcycles being seized is growing year on year and while most people now know that your car can be seized for driving without insurance, there are other reasons that your car could be impounded.
The law allows certain specially trained police officers to confiscate vehicles for a number of reasons. These laws have been implemented to help the police that are patrolling our roads to remove vehicles that are being used illegally or in ways that can cause danger to other motorists or pedestrians.
If the driver isn’t properly insured or their license does not permit them to drive the vehicle
If the police have reason to suspect that the driver of a vehicle is not properly insured, Section 165a of the Road Traffic Act 1988 grants them the power to seize the vehicle and have it transported to a secure police compound until the driver can produce sufficient evidence that they are covered. The same section of the Road Traffic Act allows police officers to confiscate vehicles when the driver either does not have a valid license or their license does not permit them to drive that category of vehicle.
With automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) systems fitted in almost every police patrol vehicle, it’s easier than ever for the police to identify drivers that aren’t properly insured. ANPR systems automatically scan the registration plate of the vehicles that come into their vision and compare the details to insurance databases that will notify the officers if there is a potential violation.
Cars can be seized by the police
If the police stop you because your vehicle is flagged by their ANPR system, or even as part of a routine traffic stop, and it becomes clear that you’re not properly insured; your vehicle can be taken from you and be transported to the police compound.
Don’t worry if you don’t have your insurance documents with you when the police stop you, as long as you’re able to provide adequate proof that you are insured the police will be able to confirm the information that you provide to their colleagues. Giving the officer the name of your insurance company and the date on which you arranged the cover is generally enough for them to check that you do have a policy in place.
The same process is carried out by the police if they suspect that you don’t have a driver’s license or if they think that your license has been revoked or does not cover you to drive that particular vehicle class. If your license does not cover you then your vehicle can be seized and impounded on the spot.
The police can seize your car if you are deemed to be driving dangerously are in a careless mannerIf the police stop you because they think that you have been driving in a dangerous or alarming way, they have the power in extreme cases to seize your vehicle and have it towed to be impounded. You will be dealt with normally for your offense, being handed fixed penalty notices or a court summons.
Additionally, you will receive the paperwork concerning the seizure of your vehicle; primarily a vehicle seizure notice and information on what steps you need to take in order to recover your vehicle such as taking out an impounded car insurance policy and providing proof of this to the compound staff.
These powers have been granted to the police under section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002, in attempts to offer a harsher deterrent to dangerous drivers and help to keep the roads safer for other users.
The police can impound vehicles that are parked illegally, dangerously or are suspected to have been abandoned.
Under section 99 of the Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984, some police officers have been granted the power to remove vehicles that are parked illegally or dangerously or that have been abandoned.
It’s important, if your car breaks down, that you do not leave it in a place that can be deemed as causing an obstruction because the police can remove it and have it taken to their compound. This means that you will not only have to fork out for potential repair costs but you will also have to pay compound storage and release fees in order to retrieve it. If your vehicle does breaks down and you have to leave it, it’s vital that you do what you can to make sure it is left in a safe way.
These came out a while ago, but we figured it was worth sharing the Vespa cufflinks and bracelets for scooter fans. Especially if you’re struggling with Christmas or birthday presents. Obviously they’ll also work for anyone who is into Mod or vintage fashion and design.
The Vespa cufflinks cover two models. The Vespa Primavera cufflinks are made from silver and feature the scooter silhouette. You can choose from a Red, Green or Blue enamel finish to match either your scooter or your outfit. And they have the Vespa logo on the toggle, in the same colour. They cost £70.99.
The Vespa 125 Primavera originally launched in 1968. There’s also a modern version which began production in 2014 for both 50cc and 125cc versions.
The other classic Vespa design to be turned into jewellery is the PX, which was the large frame model of the late 1970s. It covered everything from 80cc to 200ccc engines overt the years. And again, it went back into production in 2010 as the PX125 and the PX200. American and Canada also received a PX150. And as the PX range has stopped production in 2016 due to the difficulties of meeting Euro 4 emission regulations with a two stroke engine, it’s a time to celebrate the scooter.
Like the Primavera version, the Vespa PX cufflinks are made from silver with the silhouette of the scooter and the logo enraved on the toggle, with a choice of Red or Navy Blue enamel finish for £70.99.
If you want to signal your scooterist ways in a more subtle fashion, there are also the Vespa 946 cufflinks. Those are modeled on the seat-fixing plate, even featuring the allen bolts. You probably know by now that they’ll be made from silver and have the logo and a price of £70.99.
What if you’re looking for a more unisex scooter-related present? And maybe something a little subtle or for those on a smaller budget?
Well, you might like the Vespa Tombolino Bracelet. The silver bead in the centre features the Vespa logo, matched to the colour of the bracelet and natural cotton strap. You can pick Red, Green, Blue or Light Blue, and the cost is £29.99.
So there you go. Some Vespa cufflinks and bracelets for scooter fans, and those who need to buy them presents.
Williams F1 technical boss, Pat Symonds, may not be that jazzed about how Haas F1 has entered Formula 1 as a team but he is also a guy who speaks his mind and while you may not have agreed with his concern over Haas’s constructor model, you may find that you agree with his concern over team involvement in F1 decision making:
“The way I explained this to some sponsors was that if this was football and you said: ‘Right, we need some new regulations – let’s ask the teams’. If you have a team with a really, really crap goalkeeper and you say ‘how wide should we make the goals?’, they will say, ‘Let’s make them [this narrow].’
“You’ve got another team with an ace goalkeeper, they’re going to say ‘well let’s make them this wide’. Teams aren’t the people to ask. You ask what Formula 1 should do; well ask Formula 1 what they’re going to do.
“If we had a solid direction, we, as the teams, would just follow it.”
The point here is that each team is going to guard its own interests and this leads to gridlock and stalls in making the kinds of changes that most know need to be made. Max Mosley said this many times and with Max and Bernie Ecclestone at the helm, they made decisions regardless of the threat of a manufacturer leaving the sport or not.
The FIA has seemingly changed under the rule of Jean Todt and his approach toward a democratic model in which everyone is involved and unanimous votes are needed to advance regulation changes is not something Symonds feels is working:
“There is not a real body that is looking at it, an independent body that is looking at what’s required,” he explained.
“But we shouldn’t just say that everything is wrong. This process of governance that we’ve had, while I’m saying we shouldn’t involve the teams so much, we have been doing it for, well, most of the time I’ve been involved in Formula 1.
“It’s not necessarily dreadful. But as the sport becomes more professional, you get more and more polarised opinions.
“There are some teams that have huge amounts of money, they want rules a certain way. There are other teams that barely exist, they want different rules. The stronger ones win.
“If you had someone who wasn’t batting for one team, you might get something better.”
The Motorsort article does point out an interesting thought in which Red Bull’s Christian Horner suggested the sport could use Ross Brawn as an independent to help lead F1 in the direction it should go.
If you consider some F1 pundits believing that Jean Todt should ultimately focus on what he really wants which is road safety and UN membership, the FIA should hire an F1 czar who runs the sport leaving Todt to the glad-handing he cherishes. Maybe Horner is right, Brawn might be a perfect fit for that.
Most, but not all of us, have been saying this for the better part of seven years now and it’s never taken root in the decision making in Formula 1 because, in my mind, of two reasons.
Less aero which should beget less aero wake and more mechanical grip for more overtaking. At least that’s our consistent refrain. After all these years, the sport has not changed the levels we feel is needed to achieve this.
With all deference to F1, they have reduced some aero but not enough because teams continually claw back much of the lost aero through crafty interpretation of the regulations.
Aerodynamics is the least expensive way to claw serious time out of an F1 car. Sure, it’s expensive but not as expensive as other more radical means like an all-new hybrid engine development program or changing wheel size and drastically altering the entire chassis design. Before you heap scorn on me, I’ve spoken with a few key engineers in the sport who have told me this, I’m not making it up so it isn’t just my silly hunch here.
Teams know that big gains can be made through magical interpretation of the regulation via aero tricks when the FIA makes big changes to the technical regulations. They still recall 2009 when Brawn GP showed up with a dual diffuser and rubbed everyone’s nose in the dirt over a relatively inexpensive stroke of genius. They also don’t want to eliminate their current performance advantages or mothball their enormous wind tunnels they spent millions on.
Leave it to our friend Lewis Hamilton to say what other drivers won’t and certainly team boss won’t or can’t.
“There’s been a lot of talk about the rules and whether the drivers should be more involved in decision making,” Hamilton said. “It’s not our job to come up with ideas and we all have different opinions anyway.
“But personally, I think we need more mechanical grip and less aero wake coming off the back of the cars so we can get close and overtake. Give us five seconds’ worth of lap time from aero and nothing will change – we’ll just be driving faster.
“I speak as somebody who loves this sport and loves racing. I don’t have all the answers – but I know that the changes we’re making won’t deliver better racing.”
Good on him I say! It’s great Lewis has the brand equity at this stage in his career to call it out when it needs calling out.
It’s not a popular opinion and I know this but it may be one of the biggest ways to get F1 back on track and fans reinvigorated again.
We’ve done the hybrid sustainable thing and the gimmicky baubles like HD Tires and DRS so let’s try something different for the next 4 or 5 years. What do ya say? It couldn’t be any worse could it? On second thought, don’t answer that.
The story of BMW’s turbo ‘rocket fuel’ has long since passed into Formula 1 legend, but there’s a longer and deeper story here, involving the German war effort, some organic chemistry, and the history of oil refining techniques. But let’s begin with the legend, and the breakthrough which enabled the Brabham-BMW of Nelson Piquet to win the 1983 Drivers’ Championship:
[BMW motorsport technical director, Paul] Rosche telephoned a contact at chemicals giant BASF and asked if a different fuel formulation might do the trick. After a little research, a fuel mix was unearthed that had been developed for Luftwaffe fighters during World War II, when Germany had been short of lead. Rosche asked for a 200-litre drum of the fuel for testing and, when it arrived, he took it straight to the dyno.
“Suddenly the detonation was gone. We could increase the boost pressure, and the power, without problems. The maximum boost pressure we saw on the dyno was 5.6 bar absolute, at which the engine was developing more than 1400 horsepower. It was maybe 1420 or 1450 horsepower, we really don’t know because we couldn’t measure it — our dyno only went up to 1400.” (‘Generating the Power’, MotorsportMagazine, January 2001, p37).
An aromatic hydrocarbon called toluene is commonly held to have been the magic compound in this fuel brew, but erstwhile Brabham chief mechanic Charlie Whiting goes further:
“There were some interesting ingredients in it, and toluene has been mentioned. But it would have had far more exciting things in it, I think, than toluene. I suspect – well, I know – that it was something the BMW engineers had dug out of the cupboard from the Second World War. Almost literally rocket fuel,” (‘Poacher Turned Gamekeeper’, MotorsportMagazine, December 2013, p74).
Before we delve into the chemistry of fuels, let’s establish some context here. The current F1 turbo engine regulations require detonation-resistant fuels with a high calorific value per unit mass. Detonation resistance enables one to increase the compression ratio, and thereby increase the work done on each piston-stroke, while the limits on total fuel mass and fuel mass-flow rate require fuel with a high energy content per unit mass.
In contrast, in the 1980s the regulations required detonation-resistant fuels with a high calorific value per unit volume. From 1984, the amount of fuel permitted was limited, but the limitation was defined in terms of fuel volume rather than mass, hence fuel with a high mass-density became advantageous. By this time, the teams had already followed BMW’s lead and settled upon fuels with a high proportion of aromatic hydrocarbons.
To understand the significance of this, we need to start with the fact that there are four types of hydrocarbon:
(i) Paraffins (sometimes called alkanes) (ii) Naphthenes (sometimes called cycloalkanes) (iii) Aromatics (sometimes called arenes) (iv) Olefins (sometimes called alkenes)
Methane, ethane and propane. Each larger disk represents a carbon atom; each white disk represents a hydrogen atom; and each black disk represents a covalent bond.
Each hydrocarbon molecule contains hydrogen and carbon atoms, bound together by covalent bonds. The hydrocarbon types differ from each other by the number of bonds between adjacent atoms, and by the overall topology by which the atoms are connected together. So let’s briefly digress to consider the nature of covalent bonding.
The electrons in an atom are stacked in so-called ‘shells’, each of which can contain a maximum number of members. The first shell can contain only two electrons, while the second can contain eight. If the outermost electron shell possessed by an atom is incomplete, then the atom will be disposed to interact or bond with other atoms.
A neutral hydrogen atom has one electron, so its one and only shell needs one further electron to complete it. A neutral carbon atom has six electrons, two of which fill the lowermost shell, leaving only four in the next shell. Hence, another four electrons are required to complete the second shell of the carbon atom.
In covalent bonding, an electron from one atom is shared with an adjacent atom, and the adjacent atom reciprocates by sharing one of its electrons. This sharing of electron pairs enables groups of atoms to complete their electron shells, and thereby reside in a more stable configuration. In particular, a carbon atom, lacking four electrons in its outermost shell, has a propensity to covalently bind with four other neighbours, while a hydrogen atom has a propensity to bind with just one neighbour. By this means, chains of hydrocarbons are built.
Methane, for example, (see diagram above) consists of a single carbon atom, bound to four hydrogen atoms. The four shared electrons from the hydrogen atoms complete the outermost shell around the carbon atom, and each hydrogen atom has its one and only shell completed by virtue of sharing one of the carbon atom’s electrons.
If there is a single covalent bond between each pair of carbon atoms, then the hydrocarbon is said to be saturated. In contrast, if there are more than one covalent bond between a pair carbon atoms, the molecule is said to be unsaturated.
Saturated ethane in a state of unconcealed glee compared to the glum unsaturated ethylene, and the vexatious triple-bonded acetylene, (this and the above taken image from ‘BP – Our Industry’, 1958, p69).
Now, to return to our classification scheme, paraffins are non-cyclic saturated chains, (there is a sub-type called iso-paraffins in which the chain contains branching points); naphthenes are cyclic saturated chains; aromatics are cyclic (semi-)unsaturated chains; and olefins are non-cyclic unsaturated chains, (with a sub-type of iso-olefins in which the chains have branching points).
Aromatic compounds possess a higher carbon-to-hydrogen ratio than paraffinic compounds, and because the carbon atom is of greater mass than a hydrogen atom, this entails that aromatic compounds permit a greater mass density. This characteristic was perfect for the turbo engine regulations in the 1980s, and toluene was the most popular aromatic hydrocarbon which combined detonation-resistance and high mass density.
To put toluene into context, we need to begin with the best-known aromatic hydrocarbon, benzene. This is a hexagonal ring of six carbon atoms, each one of which is bound to a single hydrogen atom. Toluene is a variant of this configuration in which one of those hydrogen atoms is replaced by a methyl group. The latter is one of the primary building blocks of hydrocarbon chemistry, a single carbon atom bound to three hydrogen atoms. The carbon atom in a methyl group naturally binds to another carbon atom, in this case one of the carbon atoms in the hexagonal ring. Hence toluene is also called methyl-benzene.
Closely related to toluene is xylene, another variant of benzene, but one in which two of the hydrogen atoms are replaced by methyl groups. (Hence xylene is also called dimethyl-benzene). If the two methyl groups are bound to adjacent carbon atoms in the ring, the compound is dubbed o-xylene; if the docking sites of the two methyl groups are separated from each other by two steps, then the result is dubbed m-xylene; and if the docking sites are on opposite sides of the ring, the compound is called p-xylene.
Most teams seem to have settled on the use of toluene and xylene. By mid-season 1987, for example, Honda “reached an 84% level of toluene,” (Ian Bamsey, McLaren Honda Turbo – A Technical Appraisal, p32).
With respect to the Cosworth turbo used by Benetton in 1987, Pat Symonds recalls that “the problem was the engine had been developed around BP fuel, and we had a Mobil contract. Fuels then weren’t petrol, they were a chemical mix of benzene, toluene and xylene. We kept detonating pistons, and it wasn’t until mid-season that we got it right,” (Lunch with Pat Symonds, MotorsportMagazine, September 2012). In fact, Pat attests that the Cosworth fuel was an equal mix of benzene, toluene and xylene, (private communication).
At Ferrari, AGIP later recalled that their toluene and xylene based fuel reached density values of up to 0.85, in some contrast with the paraffinic fuels of the subsequent normally-aspirated era, with density values of 0.71 or 0.73. “Given the ignition delays of heavy products, we had to add more volatile components that would facilitate that ignition,” (Luciano Nicastro, Head of R&D at AGIP Petroli, ‘Ferrari Formula 1 Annual 1990’, Enrico Benzing, p185).
Renault, in contrast, claim to have used mesitylene, as Elf’s Jean-Claude Fayard explains:
“We found a new family of hydrocarbons which…contained a strong proportion of mesitylene [trimethyl-benzene] and they had a boiling point of 150C, but with a combustion capability even higher than that of toluene,” (Alpine and Renault, Roy Smith, p142).
Mesitylene is a variant of benzene in which three methyl groups are docked at equal intervals around the hexagonal carbon ring, (naturally, mesitylene is also called trimethyl-benzene).
Now, the fact that Paul Rosche grabbed a barrel of aviation fuel used by the Luftwaffe is significant because German WWII aviation fuel differed substantially from that used by the allies. Faced with limited access to crude oil, and a poorly developed refining industry, the Germans developed war-time aviation fuels with a high aromatic content.
Courtesy of the alkylation process, the original version of which was developed by BP in 1936, the allies could synthesise iso-octane from a reaction involving shorter-chain paraffins, such as iso-butane, and olefins such as butene or iso-butene. By definition, iso-octane has an octane rating of 100, defining the standard for detonation-resistance. Using 100-octane fuel synthesised by the alkylation process, the British were able to defeat the Luftwaffe in the 1940 Battle of Britain.
In contrast, German aviation fuel was largely obtained from coal by applying hydrogenation processes. With limited capacity to produce paraffinic components, the initial B-4 grade of aviation fuel used by the Germans had an octane range of only 87-89, a level which itself was only obtained with the addition of the anti-detonation agent, Lead Tetra-Ethyl. A superior C-3 specification of aviation fuel was subsequently produced, with an octane rating of 95-97, but only by substantially increasing the proportion of aromatic hydrocarbons:
“The B-4 grade…contained normally 10 to 15 percent volume aromatics, 45 percent volume naphthenes, and the remainder paraffins…The C-3 grade was a mixture of 10 to 15 percent volume of synthetic isoparaffins (alkylates and isooctanes)…[and] not more than 45 percent volume aromatics,” (US Navy, Technical Report No. 145-45. Manufacture of Aviation Gasoline in Germany, Composition and Specifications).
The Germans, however, also included some interesting additives:
“The Bf 109E-8’s DB601N engine used the GM-1 nitrous oxide injection system…Injected into the supercharger inlet, the gas provided additional oxygen for combustion at high altitude and acted as an anti-detonant, cooling the air-fuel mixture,” (‘The Decisive Duel: Spitfire vs 109’, David Isby).
“Additional power came from water-methanol and nitrous-oxide injection,” (‘To Command the Sky: The Battle for Air Superiority over Germany, 1942-44‘, Stephen L.McFarland and Wesley Phillips, p58).
At which point, one might recall Charlie Whiting’s suggestion that the 1983 BMW fuel brew “had far more exciting things in it”than toluene. This, despite regulations which explicitly stated that fuel should be 97% hydrocarbons, and should not contain “alcohols, nitrocompounds or other power boosting additives.” Still, there’s breaking the rules, and then there’s getting caught breaking the rules. Perhaps BMW were a little naughty in 1983, before settling down with an 80% toluene brew.
The current turbo regulations, however, require a much lower aromatic content, stipulating the following maxima:
Aromatics wt% 40 Olefins wt% 17 Total di-olefins wt% 1.0 Total styrene and alkyl derivatives wt% 1.0
Which entails, in a curious twist, that the current maximum aromatic content almost matches that of the C-3 aviation fuel developed in war-time Germany…