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Video: Racecar Driver Removes His Steering Wheel at Full Tilt

Video: Racecar Driver Removes His Steering Wheel at Full Tilt

We often rave about the brass cojones that racecar drivers have, particularly rally drivers. Formula drivers, on the other hand, get very little recognition, as they drive on paved surfaces and most people think they just drive fast. In reality, these guys and gals behind these open-wheel machines have some guts themselves.

Enter in Jeroen Slaghekke, a driver of a Renault 2.0, and you have a guy that not only has the set required to race, but also to make split second decisions that could result in tragedy to avoid having to pit and lose position. The back story is that he had an electrical issue with his steering wheel that required repair, but pitting would have forced him to give up precious places in the race. So, instead of pitting, this guy removes the wheel himself at full speed, repairs the obviously simple issue, and slaps the wheel back on in time for a left turn.

We understand that these wheels are quick release and it’s just a matter of pulling a two tabs to release them, but to do this at speeds in excess of 100 mph and continue accelerating as he does it is simply incredible. We all know people that can barely drive in a straight line at 20 mph with both hands on the wheel. We bet that Mr. Slaghekke has no issue with keeping his daily driver straight.

To see this gutsy gamble, check out the above video and pay close attention to the 11-second mark.

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2012 Grand Prix of Monaco is in the books

2012 Grand Prix of Monaco is in the books

As always, the Grand Prix of Monaco provided a fairly spectacular showing, likely one of the few in this year’s F1 series. As most would expect, Circuit de Monaco lap-time record holder and five-time winner, Michael Schumacher took the pole position, but officials forced him back five grid positions after he caused a collision during qualifying. With the technical nature of Monaco, that pole position is very important and Schumacher’s penalty was an ominous sign that this would not be a good race, as he retired due to fuel issues 63 laps in.

Schumacher’s penalty propelled Red Bull’s Mark Webber into the pole position. Webber held onto that pole position, despite a lead change during a pit stop, and took home the checkered flag on a rain-coated Circuit de Monaco. As we said in our preview of the 2012 Grand Prix of Monaco, this race had some serious overall points influence, as the leaders were only separated by a few points each.

This victory for Webber places propels him up to a second place tie with Sebastian Vettel at 73 points and puts Fernando Alonso, who finished third, in the points lead at 76. An impressive run by Nico Rosberg placed him in second, just behind Webber, proving that his wide margin of victory in China was not just a one-time deal. This superb finish by Rosberg jumps him up two slots to fifth place overall.

From the looks of it, this season is shaping up to be a rather close points race with a few new faces near the top. Unfortunately, the leader board, for the most part, looks identical to the 2011 and 2010 seasons. The lack of parody in F1 has really been its Achilles heel in recent history. An overall points victory by Nico Rosberg would certainly be a push in the right direction for F1, so we’ll keep a close eye on his performance.

Click past the jump to see the complete placement board for the 2012 Grand Prix of Monaco and the overall points standings.

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Grand Prix of Monaco Preview

Grand Prix of Monaco Preview

Rarely is something both the slowest and the hardest at the same time, but that all goes out the window when you’re talking about the Grand Prix at Monaco. For the majority of the F1 season, the drivers get to open up their cars a good bit. At Monaco, those chances to go wide open are limited to about three, as there are only a three extended straightaways on the track.

Besides those three straights, drivers get to deal with a plethora of intense twists and blind turns that require great care to negotiate correctly. These tight turns all amount to Monaco being the lowest average speed course on the F1 circuit, and arguably the hardest one on the circuit.

Well, the 70th running of this ultra-technical road course is due to start on May 27, 2012 and we’re going to provide a quick preview of what’s to come.

Click past the jump to read all about the Grand Prix at Monaco

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Report: Renault Alpine successor to debut at 2012 Monaco Grand Prix

Report: Renault Alpine successor to debut at 2012 Monaco Grand Prix

We brought you news about the possibility of Renault reviving the Alpine name and producing a brand new concept based around the original car just a couple of weeks ago, and already more details about this possible, yet-to-be-confirmed car have surfaced.

Originally, Renault was rumored to have stated that a successor to the legendary Alpine A110 would debut at the 2012 Paris Auto Show in late September, but according to Autoblog.nl, the new car could be debuting much sooner at the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix late this month. This wouldn’t be the only new car said to debut at the event, as reports have also suggested that McLaren will unveil the McLaren F1 successor in a private display during the festivities.

If this turns out to be true, then debuting the car at the Monaco Grand Prix could be a great move on Renault’s part, as it’s not only an integral part of Formula One and one of its key engine suppliers, but the media buzz around the famous race will help the French company get some recognition for reviving this legend.

The car in question will only be a concept version, and is rumored to be dubbed the ‘ZAR,’ although we’re somewhat doubtful that the ZAR name would make it to production. It seems a return to ‘Alpine’ would be preferable. Autoblog.nl has also revealed that the new Renault sports car may be completely electric and help lead the sports car market into more efficient territory.

However, if Renault does decide to create an electric Alpine for the 2014 or 2015 model years, it’s likely it would also offer the car with a conventional internal combustion engine if it really is a tribute to the original.

It’s yet to be confirmed if the Monaco display will be conducted in private or not, but if it is, expect a few shots to leak onto the net in the days following the event.

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Lotus Renault R31

Lotus Renault R31

The Lotus-Renault team became the fourth Formula One team to present their 2011 race cars to the media. The R31, as it’s being called, was presented at the pit lane of the Valencia race track ahead of its first pre-season test session that’s been scheduled for next Tuesday at the same circuit.

In addition to the presentation of the black-and-gold R31, Lotus-Renault also presented their 2011 driver line-up, featuring Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov. Together with technical director James Allison, team principal Eric Boullier, and chairman Gerard Lopez, Kubica and Petrov personally pulled the covers off of the R31, marking the return to partnership of two companies - Lotus and Renault - that last worked together in the 80s.

“Words like ‘aggressive’ and ‘innovative’ are very much in vogue in Formula One at the moment, but where the R31 is concerned we feel those adjectives are appropriate,” Allison said.

“It’s true to say that the car has been designed in an ambitious manner and a quick glance at the layout will confirm that its entire concept differs considerably, not just from last year’s car, but from any car this team has ever produced.”

Details on the Lotus Renault R31 after the jump.

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Kimi Raikkonen looking to return to Formula One with Renault?

Kimi Raikkonen looking to return to Formula One with Renault?

He may not be the most pleasurable person to be around, and he certainly won’t win any Mr. Congeniality contests anytime soon, but one thing we know about Kimi Raikkonen is that he’s a pretty good driver. Check that: the man is one of the best in the world.

The former Formula One driver’s champion left Formula One last year to try his luck at the World Rally Championship where he has shown a lot of potential. However, let’s face it, the Finn belongs in single-seaters. But if rumors around the paddock are to be believed, Raikkonen may be looking to return to the circus that is Formula One under the Renault team.

Despite the fact that Renault isn’t one of the front-runners in the 2010 F1 season, the team has consistently piled up points to stay competitive in the middle of the pack. Turns out, that may have been enough to entice the former world champ to approach the team and inquire about a seat at Renault next to Robert Kubica.

We certainly hope that there’s more truth to this rumor than what is being passed around. Like we said, Raikkonen isn’t the chatty type, but his racing skills certainly do a lot of the talking for him. And in a Formula One grid that could potentially have five world champions for 2011, adding another one will most certainly add some intrigue to a Formula One series that never seems to run out.

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Renault looking to buy back Formula One team?

Renault looking to buy back Formula One team?

The 2010 Formula One season has been ripe in unpredictably and, while we kind of figured that it would be a three-headed race for supremacy with Ferrari, Red Bull, and McLaren, we didn’t expect one other team to have had the success they’ve had this year.

That team is Renault and the team’s success has generated some interest from the French carmaker Renault SA to consider buying back a majority stake in the team that bears its name.

If you recall, earlier this year Renault actually sold a majority stake of the team to Genii Capital, an investment firm in Luxembourg. The sale was widely viewed as Renault’s intention to cut their losses with the team after a major scandal rocked Formula One that centered on then Renault boss Flavio Briatore. Add that to the economic crisis that gripped a number of brands, and it seemed like a perfect time for the French manufacturer to drop the team and focus more on their production cars.

But now that the economy has stabilized and the Renault F1 team is doing surprisingly well this year, the French auto brand is rumored to be looking to buy back a piece of the F1 team’s pie. Whether or not this happens is still up in the air. But if you ask us, it does look suspiciously like a boyfriend looking to get back together with a girl he previously dumped because she lost weight and got hot all of a sudden.

And we know how those things turn out.

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Renault might follow Toyota in exiting Formula One

Renault might follow Toyota in exiting Formula One

First it was BMW. Then Toyota followed next. Now, it looks like Renault is headed out the door too.

Renault’s F1 team executives met in Paris recently and rumors have spread that the French-based company is contemplating on following Toyota in leaving Formula One.

After a tumultuous – and that’s an understatement – season that involved the sacking of team principals Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds, Renault is now looking at the possibility that participating in Formula One may not be in their best interests anymore.

Although the meetings have gone on continuously, an announcement is not expected in the coming days because the company, led by president Carlos Ghosn, is scheduled to have an event promoting the brand’s new direction in introducing zero-emission vehicles, as evidenced by the recent news that the Zoe Zero Emissions Concept will be launched in 2012.

In the event Renault does pull the curtains on their F1 tenure, it would make them the third team from the 2009 grid to leave Formula One, following the recent departures of BMW and Toyota.

By our count, that’s now four major teams – including Honda last year - that have left Formula One in the past year and we’re beginning to fear that this could be the beginning of what is already becoming a mass exit out of the sport.

Photo courtesy of Renault F1.

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Renault thinking of letting Flavio Briatore go amid ’crash-gate’ scandal

By now, you’ve probably heard of the latest scandal circulating around the F1 paddocks these days.

If you haven’t, here’s a brief refresher course. Recently sacked Renault driver, Nelson Piquet Jr. released a statement saying that he was instructed to intentionally crash his car at last year’s Singapore Grand Prix in order for teammate Fernando Alonso to move ahead of the pack and win the race.

Now, a hearing is scheduled to take place on September 21 to determine whether or not Piquet Jr’s statement really did happen. For their part, Renault team bosses Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have vehemently denied any wrongdoing and attributed their former drivers attempt to smear their team as a sign of retaliation after being unceremoniously fired last month.

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TopSpeed Headline News

TopSpeed Headline News

Ferrari F1 Team’s technical director Ross Brown remains undecided. AutoExpress
Alliance between Nissan, Renault and GMC called off. DetNews
Ghosn wants Ford as a partner, know that GM is out of the way. DetNews
Williams Renault sabotaging Alonso’s victory? Itv
Biggest International Boat Show in the West – Long Beach. PR
Rolls-Royce is to add secondary car line in the next 4 years. AutoWeek
Biggest Hybrid market remains California. AutoWeek (...)

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Megane Renaultsport 225 celebrates company's F1 championship

Megane Renaultsport 225 celebrates company’s F1 championship

PARIS — Renault has launched a special-edition version of its new Mégane Renaultsport 225 to celebrate its double Formula One Championship wins last season.
The Mégane Renaultsport 225 Renault F1 Team, developed in honor of Renault’s triumph in the 2005 F1 Constructors’ title and Fernando Alonso’s capture of the drivers’ title, is essentially a "loaded" version of the 225 Cup model. It comes in one color, traditional French racing blue.
Extra features include 60-watt CD/MP3 RDS (...)

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