If you were betting on the F1 race in Las Vegas being a disaster then I’d consider now a good opportunity to double down on that wager. Last night’s first practice bled into chaos this morning as an errant manhole cover absolutely whacked a Ferrari and disrupted the whole event.
Oh, hello, your trusty Morning Dumper reporting here from the bottom bunk yet again (Jason is above, wearily attempting to squeeze out a Cold Start). We’ve got in-person trivia coming this weekend at the LA Auto Show, and most of the staff is passed out in other rooms, but expect a flurry of posts here in a couple of hours.
Besides F1 I suppose we should talk about unions and Tesla, a big Honda recall, and BrightDrop becoming part of GM.
Let’s do this thing.
What Happens In Vegas Does Not Stay In Vegas
I don't even blink at any of this. I once saw a track fixed with Tide. In the middle of the Daytona 500. After a jet dryer exploded on impact.
— Jenna Fryer (@JennaFryer) November 17, 2023
There are a lot of people seemingly rooting against the F1 race in Las Vegas this weekend. The locals are unhappy about traffic and overall displacement. Some fans see this as yet another expensive event they’ll never be able to attend. And some fans just don’t like new things.
This almost shoves me into the pro camp. We had a drought of F1 racing in the United States and now we get to enjoy three races on our home turf. That’s great. Also, as we learned from the Chicago Street Race, new events (especially on street circuits) always seem to be heading for disaster before eventually turning out great. It’s like in the theater, where a bad dress rehearsal always means a great show.
Well, F1 got its bad dress rehearsal last night/this morning. After staving off a looming strike and a massive drop in ticket prices, all things seemed calmer and cooler as Free Practice 1 began. Then this happened:
— Autosport (@autosport) November 17, 2023
That’s right. Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz found a manhole cover that seems to have been sucked up by all the force of the F1 cars and absolutely destroyed his Ferrari. This led to a pissed-off Ferrari complaining that the mistake is going to cost them a fortune (and a penalty).
Here’s ESPN on why this is bad:
It is a nightmare start to F1’s controversial race. The sport has spent $500 million on it in a rare deal that sees it be the promoter of the event.
Having annoyed locals through the construction of the circuit, it is one of the worst outcomes F1 could have had.
Even worse, the first track action of the race ended after a few minutes and sent the fans wondering what the hell was going to happen. F1 officials had to go to every cover on the 1.3-mile circuit and fasten the covers with quick-setting concrete. By the time that was done, it was so late that the track then had to boot all the fans for “logistical reasons” and eventually finish around 4 am so some of the roads could be reopened to commuters.
This seems bad and it is bad, but I appreciate long-time AP reporter Jenna Fryer’s take on it above. Things can always be worse.
Tesla’s Union Battles Continue
The simmering conflict between Tesla and organized labor is heating up on both sides of the Atlantic as Union Summer bleeds into Union Winter.
In the United States, Tesla scored a victory with an appeals court this week, overturning a National Labor Relations Board ruling over the banning of t-shirts with pro-union messaging.
Specifically, Tesla required workers to don “team wear” shirts instead, which the company said better protected the paint of new vehicles.
From the AP:
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a 3-2 decision issued last year by the National Labor Relations Board, which had said Tesla couldn’t prohibit union attire. The court opinion noted that Tesla allowed workers to affix “any number or size” of pro-union stickers to company-issued clothing.
“We may have concluded differently had Tesla prohibited union insignia,” read the opinion issued Tuesday by a unanimous panel of three 5th Circuit judges.
Seems reasonable. And how are things going in Europe? Well, Swedish dockworkers are refusing to unload cars. There’s a whole Reuters report on the showdown between Sweden’s industrial union and the company, but this seems ominous:
In addition to dockworkers, unionised cleaners are refusing to clean Tesla buildings and postal workers have stopped delivering mail.
On Friday, electricians stopped service and repair work for Tesla, including at its charging stations across Sweden.
Swedish workers are also supported by Norway’s Fellesforbundet, the biggest union in the country’s LO confederation.
Action against Tesla in Sweden is due to escalate further – if no agreement is reached – on Nov. 24 when about 50 unionised workers at Hydro Extrusions, a subsidiary of Norwegian aluminium and energy company Hydro (NHY.OL), will stop work on Tesla car products.
This is one to watch.
Honda Recalls Around 250,000 Vehicles Over Seizing Engines
Honda (and Acura) is recalling around a quarter-million vehicles over a potentially serious production flaw that can cause engines in some of its most popular products to seize.
From the NHTSA safety report:
During production of the crankshaft, due to improper settings of equipment used to manufacture the engine crankshaft, the crank pin was improperly ground, resulting in crank pins with a crown or convex shape that are out of specification.
If the connecting rod bearing seizes, the engine can be damaged and run improperly, stall, stop while driving, and/or not start, increasing the risk of a fire, crash or injury.
Not great, Bob. To date, Honda has had to service at least 1,400 cars with this issue, so it’s not rare.
The recall covers certain 2016 and 2018-19 Honda Pilot, 2017 and 2019 Ridgeline and 2018-19 Odyssey vehicles. It also covers two models from the Japanese automaker’s luxury brand, Acura: the 2015-20 TLX and 2016-20 MDX.
Only models with V-6 engines produced in the U.S. are affected, Honda spokesperson Chris Martin told Automotive News. About 30,000 vehicles are affected in Canada and Mexico, he said.
If you have one of these vehicles you should be notified soon so you can have your engine repaired and, possibly, replaced if there’s a sign of a serious issue.
BrightDrop Becomes Part Of GM
One of the brightest parts of GM’s electrification experiment has been its fleet of BrightDrop delivery vans. Since it’s a wholly GM-created and owned company I just assumed it was part of GM. I guess that’s not the case?
BrightDrop was born from GM’s Innovation Lab and was a wholly owned subsidiary for the last three years. In that time, BrightDrop produced a product portfolio of electric vans for customers like FedEx and Ryder using the “agility and innovation of a tech startup” with access to “GM’s deep manufacturing expertise,” the company said.
“As BrightDrop has matured, we are now bringing that ethos back to GM so our work is more efficient and so BrightDrop’s startup spirit can help fuel further success with GM’s commercial customers,” GM said in a statement.
I’m not sure I 100% understand this, but it basically sounds like BrightDrop is going to become more integrated into GM and everyone there is going to become a GM employee.
The Big Question
Are you hoping the F1 race in Vegas is a success or are you Team Chaos?
Lead Image: Aston Martin