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June 2015 New Round Up

Virgin FE

Formula E on track to replace F1?

Sir Richard Branson has predicted the fall of Formula 1 racing, and given it a life expectancy of just five years. The Virgin magnate said F1's current grand prix will give way to electric racing series like Formula E in both popularity and importance. The claim came during a press conference announcing the merging of Virgin Racing (Branson's Formula E team) with DS Automobiles.

“In the next two or three years Formula E is going to grow as quickly as clean energy is in general. I think things are going to move that rapidly now. It's been an incredible start for a business in its first year. It's really captured the public's imagination and it's going to grow hand in hand with green energy. I'm sure there will come a time when Fomula E overtakes Formula One,” said Branson.

Sir Richard's statement comes at a time when many leading manufacturers are choosing to invest in Formula E at the expense of their potential Formula 1 commitments. Renault boss Carlos Ghosn recently announced that Formula E would make up the bulk of the company's motorsporting future, leaving F1 once it's current contracts expired.

A confident Branson didn't stop at just Formula 1 however. He also foretold the extinction of petrol cars in general: “What goes on inside a petrol-driven engine is really complicated, out of date and polluting. It will disappear over the next 20 years. Battery-driven cars are the things of the future and companies that move in that area are the ones that are going to dominate the market place.”

Vauxhall Onstar Diagram

Vauxhall's Onstar system has arrived in Europe

Vauxhall has now launched its Onstar connection service across Europe. The system, which is built into the car, allows drivers to contact a call centre for a number of services. The European Onstar package includes navigation assistance, first aid advice, breakdown recovery, and hotel reservations. Its most notable and widely praised feature, though, is its automatic emergency response. The Onstar system, originally designed by General Motors, continuously monitors the status of the vehicle and its occupants. In the event of an accident where, for instance, the car's airbags deploy, Onstar immediately contacts 999 with details of the incident.

In the UK, the Netherlands, and Germany, Onstar will also turn the car into a wi-fi hotspot for up to seven devices. In the US, Onstar has been steadily and continuously growing in popularity, and GM now estimates that an Onstar call is made every two seconds. Vauxhall are offering Onstar as a pre-ordered option on selected models, at £79 a year (though at the moment the first year is free).

And if you're still not sold on the system, watch Onstar foil a car-jacking.

Jaguar at Goodward Festival of Speed

2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed

Goodwood's 23rd annual outing definitely delivered the unique blend of high octane thrills and classic style the Festival of Speed has become known for.

Motorcycle world champion Valentino Rossi shared the Saturday night stage with pop-rockers the Kaiser Chiefs. Mazda's brand new MX-5 shared the spotlight with rally driver Ken Block's 845bhp Mustang 'Hoonicorn'. Cameos and appearances by heroes like Nascar's Richard Petty and drag racing's Don Garlits, were interspersed with first glances of hypercars like McLaren's P1, and Porsche's 918 Spyder. All in a long weekend's work for Goodwood Festival.

Goodwood Rally

The title of 'featured marque', a festival custom, was this year awarded to Mazda. Their Kodo design was enshrined in an enormous sculpture by Gerry Judah on the front lawn of Goodwood House. Indeed, Goodwood seemed swarmed with Mazdas this year; one 767B even crashed into a particularly unforgiving turn at the start of the four day event.

The Goodwood Festival of Speed returns the same time next year.

And finally...

Yes, finally. a van driver has become the first person in the UK to be penalised for hogging the middle lane of the motorway. The Citroen Berlingo driver, from West Yorkshire, was fined almost £1,000 and given five penalty points for refusing to leave the central lane of the M62.

According to traffic police, at least six drivers were forced to “brake and swerve” in order to overtake the vehicle, near Huddersfield last year.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court concluded that the van owner had driven in an “inconsiderate manner”, having ignored numerous opportunities to move out of the middle lane. After failing to show up to court, the driver was ordered to pay a £500 fine, £400 in costs, and a £40 victim surcharge.