2013 is drawing to a close, and for me, that means some big career changes. I’ve recently been hired by Edmunds, and with the opportunity of working at such a well-respected source of automotive information comes a price: I simply won’t have time anymore to write for Downshift Autos. The photos and article about the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show is my last post for this site. Thank you to everyone who has supported me in getting this thing up and running, and those who continued to support the website over the last year. Thanks especially to Heather Franco, Neo Edmund, Nicholas D’Amato, Benji Rogers, Carla Skorin, Ryan Evans, Kelsey Rogers, Jeremy Hansen, Ryan McDuff, Brad Faegre, Jalopnik, and JMDC88. You all have helped me in one way or another, and for that I am truly appreciative.
At last, the Los Angeles Auto Show is here, and it seems that vehicle manufacturers have saved a few tricks up their sleeves before the year runs out and they scramble to pull out the big guns for Detroit. I’ve always had a fondness for the LA Auto Show, and despite the typical absence of Lamborghini and Ferrari, dozens of automakers show up and unveil new and concept cars, and the basement is flooded with vehicles from the myriad tuning shops in Southern California. This year was no different, with Jaguar, Honda, BMW, and Mercedes all showcasing some serious hardware. We have the best performance autos in the photo gallery below:
Nary a race goes by when 2013 World Champion Sebastian Vettel doesn’t set some ridiculous new record in Formula 1. With the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Vettel has again proven his dominance of the sport by winning his 8th consecutive race, something that has never been done before in a single season (Alberto Ascari holds the record at 9, accomplished during the 1952-53 seasons). It was the second Grand Prix hosted at the purpose-built Circuit of the Americas, and Vettel’s first win at the track. That means that Vettel has finished in first at every track on the 2013 F1 calendar at one point in his career except for Hungary.
2014 will see the advent of a brand new class of open-wheel race cars, as the FIA-sanctioned Formula E series debuts next September. As its name implies, Formula E is all-electric, and the cars themselves bear more than a passing resemblance to current F1 racers albeit with much less complicated aero work. The chassis for the Spark-Renault SRT_O1E is developed by Dallara, which also provides the backbone for IndyCars; the powertrain and electronics will be coming courtesy of McLaren Electronic Systems. Rounding out the list is Williams, who supplies the 200kw (270hp) motor. These being electric vehicles, noise generated by the motors is virtually nil, which presents a problem not only from an entertainment perspective, but also from a safety standpoint, as the pit or track crew will have little audible warning of fast-approaching cars. For the fans, there’s a high pitched, futuristic Jetsons-like whine, while an artificial rumble will be active in the pits to warn crews. The tire supplier chosen for the 10-race series is Michelin, so hopefully the cars won’t be shod in rubber purposely designed to be shredded à la Pirelli in F1.
Ken Block’s highly anticipated Gymkhana 6 has finally been released, now with corporate sponsorship to promote the new Need for Speed or Burnout game or something like that. While not as undeniably badass as tearing through closed off streets in San Francisco like some sort of unholy offspring of Frank Bullitt and Raoul Duke, there’s still plenty of jumping ramps sideways, dancing around police officers on Segways, and avoiding a gigantic spiked wrecking ball. Navigating through the obstacle course is rally driver extraordinaire Ken Block and his trusty 650hp Ford Fiesta. 1080p slow-mo car pornography is the entrée du jour, so sit back on your lunch break and enjoy Block destroying a set of Pirellis.
F1 Update: Räikkönen Ends 2013 Season, Massa to Williams in 2014, and Kevin Magnussen Replaces Pérez at McLaren
Much to the disappointment of the Formula 1 faithful, Lotus frontrunner Kimi Räikkönen will sit out the last two races of the season (Sunday’s US Grand Prix and the Brazilian GP on November 24) due to back surgery scheduled for this week. That means his third place seat in the drivers’ championship is under fire more than ever, with current fourth place racer Lewis Hamilton only 8 points behind; with 26 points separating Lotus from Ferrari, the British team is expected to throw in someone else to try to advance its position in the constructors’ championship (Racer postulates that Lotus reserve driver Davide Valsecchi will take Räikkönen’s spot). In other Formula 1 news, Felipe Massa, who is dropped from Ferrari after this season, will land back on his feet at Williams, where he will replace Pastor Maldonado; he will undoubtedly pull Williams out of the bottom of the barrel that Caterham and Marussia typically swim in. Also out is Sergio Pérez, who has had a less than stellar season with McLaren. He will be replaced by 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 Champion Kevin Magnussen amid McLaren’s apparent disappointment over Pérez’ results this season, which have contributed to the team’s distant 5th place standing in the constructors’ championship.
This week, disappointment is making the rounds for fans of the Forza Motorsport series, as the newest iteration of Microsoft’s answer to Gran Turismo will feature only around 200 cars, compared to the 483 from Forza Motorsport 4 and far less than the 1,196 promised by GT6, out December 4. A likely reason for the major cuts to the number of tracks and cars available on the disc is Forza 5‘s status as an Xbox One launch title. Having a hard release date set by Microsoft and not the developer, combined with the immense amount of work the team had to do to bring the Forza series to a next-gen system, surely limited how much the team could pack into Forza 5 on launch day. That being said, Forza 5 is launching in a ridiculous number of varieties on November 22, all of which are designed to entice players to fork over more than $59.99 for the standard game, and all of which add cars that are already modeled and work in Forza 5. Here’s a full list of the cars in Forza 5, and how much you can expect to pay for them.