Four-cylinder AMG flashes skin, rookie takes Daytona 500, Andretti on 2024 F1 grid?

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AMG’s four-cylinder, hybrid C-Class flashes skin

Intake: Back in February of 2021, Mercedes promised that all variants of the C-Class—including the range-topping AMG versions—would use a four-cylinder powertrain. Since gas-only AMG powertrains are no more, as proven by Affalterbach’s first hybrid, you’re looking at the C63’s electrified future. (Mercedes will likely tack an “e” onto that alphanumeric.) Spot those four tailpipes, and pizza-sized brake rotors? AMG tell-tales. The prototype still wears the mismatched wheels it sported a year ago, but the contours of its middle are now obvious. We’ve also got a good peek at the geometry of the head- and taillights. The lamps outback are getting simpler and more teardrop-shaped, with horizontal daytime running lights. The tester cuts a classy, svelte figure in sedan and wagon form. (For the four-door, keep scrolling through the slideshow below.)

Exhaust: Despite the drop in cylinder count, expect AMG’s hybrid C-Class to post higher horsepower figures than the current model, whose twin-turbo V-8 pumps out 503 hp. We’re thinking 550. Improvement upon the outgoing car will be a key selling point for this unorthodox AMG driveline, and Mercedes has already proven it can squeeze 416 horses out of a turbo four-pot. 

Daytona 500 is 23-year-old Cindric’s first series win

Intake: After a nail-biting conclusion to NASCAR’s Daytona 500, Cup Series rookie Austin Cindric emerged from overtime victorious, claiming his first-ever series win. The 23-year-old Cindric, with only seven Cup starts prior to the running of the 64th Daytona 500, drove like a veteran, holding off more seasoned drivers in the closing laps. His win aboard a Team Penske Mustang gives “The Captain” Roger Penske his third Daytona 500 victory triumph and brought Ford back into Daytona’s victory lane for the second consecutive year. This edition of the Great American Race was marked by the debut of NASCAR’s Next Gen car—a composite-bodied stock car featuring independent suspension, rack-and-pinion steering, a five-speed sequential shift transaxle, single-lug wheels, and a bevy of other new-to-NASCAR features. The Cup Series moves west next weekend to tackle Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. Will the youngster keep his early-season momentum rolling?

Exhaust: Despite the title of rookie, it’s no surprise that Austin Cindric found victory lane on Sunday. In addition to winning NASCAR’s Xfinity Series championship for Penske in 2020, Cindric comes from a family of winners. His grandfather Jim Trueman owned an Indy 500–winning open-wheel team and his father Tim Cindric is the president of Team Penske. Also, the #2 car, a venerable staple in Penske’s stocker ranks, is no stranger to the winner’s circle. In years past it was successfully campaigned by the likes of Rusty Wallace, Kurt Busch, and most recently Brad Keselowski, who captured a title with it in 2012. As far as the Cup Series’ new car? While it certainly looks more modern and features more componentry similar to their production counterparts–it’s also expected to reduce cost–we can’t yet tell how the on-track competition will stack up next to the retired sixth-gen car. The most ominous problem likely to persist deep into the season are supply chain-issues with new race parts. At this point, that’s of no concern for Cindric, who woke up today a Daytona 500 champion.

Lithium-ion car batteries kept this cargo ship ablaze, until they didn’t

Intake: The now-abandoned car transporter ship Felicity Ace remains on fire in open sea, a conflagration that was initially exacerbated by the lithium-ion batteries in the electric vehicles on board but which has subsided in intensity as of this morning. Bloomberg reports the ship is carrying 3965 vehicles from the VW Group, including Volkswagens, Porsches, Audis, Bentleys and Lamborghinis, some of which presumably possess lithium-ion batteries. Over the weekend João Mendes Cabeças, a captain at the nearest port in the Azores, said the fire “will take a while” to extinguish as specialist equipment is required for this type of battery fire. As of today Reuters reports that Cabeças believes the fire has “has subsided in recent hours.” The fire is flaming out, “probably because there is little left to burn,” according to a port official. The fire was nearing the ship’s fuel tanks, but Cabeças says there may be very little left inside to burn at this point.

Exhaust: Fingers crossed that Cabeças is correct in his guess that the fire is running out of fuel. He is also quoted as voicing concerns about pollution from the ship’s fuel and the car batteries, as the long-term implications of this incident are yet to be determined. Luckily all 22 crew members were evacuated last week. We’ll keep you in the loop as we learn more.

RML’s SWB car zero is ready to run

Intake: British engineering firm RML has put the finishing touches to its first Short Wheelbase prototype. As we’ve reported before, the SWB is a modern take on a Ferrari-style classic GT, even packing a 5.5-liter Ferrari V-12 under its shapely hood. The SWB uses the workings of a 550 Maranello as a base, but the carbon fiber architecture and bodywork is all RML’s work. RML plans to build 30 cars in total and car zero will soon take to the UTAC test track in Bedfordshire to start piling on the miles in a multitude of rigorous shakedown tests. In the meantime you can enjoy the glorious gallery of images shot before the car gets all grubby.

Exhaust: With more than 500 hp and a lightweight body, the RML Short Wheelbase should fly round the test facility, as you’d expect from a company that’s built numerous race winners and done engineering work for major manufacturers. Even though it is a limited-production affair, RML’s first own-brand model will also be subject to a range of hardcore durability tests that comprise 50,000 miles of road miles.

Extreme H will be the world’s first off-road hydrogen-powered race series

Intake: The founders of the Extreme E battery-electric racing championship have said that they will launch a parallel hydrogen-driven championship in 2024. Extreme H will race at the same locations and same dates as the Extreme E series, with the only difference between the vehicles being a hydrogen fuel cell to replace the batteries. Green hydrogen will be used to generate electricity on-board and drive the off-road buggies in regions across the world that highlight climate change. Now in its second season Extreme E has already attracted motor racing royalty with the likes of Andretti Racing, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg all fielding teams.

Exhaust: The fight for H2 as an alternative fuel for motorsports is not over yet. Toyota has already run a GR Yaris converted to run on the universe’s moist abundant element, and has announced it it is working with Yamaha on a V-8 that will ignite hydrogen instead of fossil fuels.

Michael will bring Andretti name back to F1


Intake: We could see a dearly beloved motorsports name back on the Formula 1 grid in a few years. Michael Andretti has applied to the FIA to field a new F1 team starting in 2024, according to a tweet from his father, the one and only Mario Andretti. Michael Andretti had previously attempted to purchase Sauber, but that team ultimately became Alfa Romeo. His new team, Andretti Global, has the resources and checks every box—now it just needs approval from the FIA, according to Mario. In an interview with the IndyStar, the elder Andretti revealed that Andretti Global would have its home base somewhere in England (like most of the current F1 teams), but the cars would be built in a state-of-the-art facility somewhere in Indianapolis near the team’s IndyCar and Indy Lights headquarters.

Exhaust: All aboard the Andretti hype train! With 11 teams on the grid (assuming none of the existing ones fold), there would be even fiercer competition for the seasonal prize money, which is currently paid out to the top 10 teams. An eleventh would mean a team left with no coin at the end of the year—high stakes indeed. With the promised Andretti return comes an increased likelihood that we’ll see an American driver on the grid. Perhaps Alexander Rossi, who has some time in the previous-generation F1 car with now-defunct Manor Racing?

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