The Marussia Formula 1 team has signed Maria de Villota as a test driver for the 2012 season. She is one of only a few women to ever get the chance to drive an F1 car. The last was Giovanna Amati, who failed to qualify for three races in 1992. de Villota, the daughter of former F1 driver Emilio de Villota, is unlikely to be given a chance to race soon, but she hopes the test-driver gig will open the door to a seat in the future. (Source: Formula 1)
Possibly in an effort to curb road rage, the 2013 Ford Fusion will come with a lot of blue ambient lighting. Blue light, it seems, improves your mood and makes you feel good by triggering enzymes in your brain. Other colors can get your attention (red), or refresh you and make you feel relaxed (green). (Source: Autoweek)
Nissan is planning to bring back the Datsun name to use on low-cost cars in emerging markets. The Datsun named was phased out in the U.S. and Europe in the 1980s in an effort to boost the global image of the Nissan name. (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Some people will do anything to avoid flying. Bruton Smith, CEO of a company that owns and operates eight race tracks including Infineon, Bristol, and Charlotte Motor Speedway, wants to build an exact replica of the Nurburgring about 10 miles from the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He says the track would be used for testing, not racing, but would be available to manufacturers and individuals. (Source: Jalopnik)
GM reports that Chevrolet is America’s favorite performance brand, with Camaro and Corvette accounting for one out of every three sports cars sold in the United States in 2011. Chevrolet bagged 37 percent of the sports-car segment last year, selling 88,249 Camaros, which surpassed its nearest competitor, the Ford Mustang, by more than 18,000 units. Chevrolet accounted for 28 percent of the luxury sports-car segment in 2011, selling 13,164 Corvettes. Currently the only domestic car in the segment, Corvette more than doubled the sales of its nearest competitor, the Porsche 911.
Top-flight sports-car racing isn’t renowned for its frugal use of resources, but the new all-wheel-drive Audi R18 e-tron Le Mans prototype is doing its part to conserve energy by harvesting the kinetic energy generated by the front axle under braking, converting it to electricity, then giving it back to the front wheels under acceleration. The rear wheels are driven by a 510-horsepower diesel TDi V6. (Source: Motor Authority)
Another radical Le Mans entry comes from a consortium led by Chip Ganassi and Ganassi Racing engineer Ben Bowlby. The DeltaWing is designed to generate aerodynamic downforce with its body, not wings, and has an extremely narrow front end, which led some to speculate it would never make around the first corner at speed. But as this video shows, the naysayers were wrong. Whether the DeltaWing can be competitive at Le Mans is another matter.