Presuming this reaches you at or around the start of the New Year, can I just wish you happy motoring for 2012: may your enjoyment be high, your bills low and your brushes with the law non-existent.
It will be an interesting year for the car manufacturers around the world, and like members of the Eurozone, I expect there to be fewer by this time next year than there are today. In the meantime these are my top ten hopes for 2012, collated from all areas of interest from road to racing.
1. That those who depend on the car industry to earn their living start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Once car dealers used to be put into much the same category as estate agents, but now the need to compete in difficult times, the extension in service intervals and the migration of business online has forced them to raise their game. Most are incomparably better than they were, but so far with little reward for their efforts.
2. That the price of fuel falls back. I’d be fascinated to see a compare and contrast between marginal fuel tax revenues and business lost across the spectrum due to people not be able to afford to travel. I spend my life on the road and there are fewer cars out there now than at anytime I can remember. Which is nice if you like trouble-free journeys but not if you have the best interest of the economy at heart.
3. That the EU finds a sensible way of working out energy consumption and CO2 emissions. The so called New European Driving Cycle always was grossly inaccurate, but now with the advent of hybrids and plug-ins, it’s rapidly descending into farce, not helped by car manufacturers eager to exploit every one of its many, many loopholes.
4. That Michael Schumacher (above after his last win in F1 – the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix) wins a race and retires at the season’s end. I am as aware as most of his limitations behind the wheel, but I have spent more time enjoying watching him drive than anyone else since Senna died. Sentimental old fool that I am, I would love his story to have a happy ending.
5. That Lotus starts to make good on its promises. Even if it doesn’t start delivering cars until 2013, it has this year to demonstrate unequivocally that its grand plan is on track and credible. You can talk the talk for so long, but if you are to command the credibility without which you have no chance of success at all, sooner or later the time comes when you have make good on your promises. That time is not years, but months away.
6. That Top Gear finds a way of re-inventing or at least refreshing itself. I’ve been a fan of the show and those who created it ever since it returned but I think few would argue it is as inventive now as it was at the start. I wouldn’t touch the line up or the tone, just change the infrastructure.
7. That Bloodhound SSC moves under its own power. There’s no chance of any record breaking until 2013 and, Land Speed Records being tricky coves to capture even when you’re not trying to reach 1000mph, I’d not be surprised if it were 2014 or even 2015 before it reaches its goal. But to see the real thing wheeled out, fired up and run, even just down a runway in the UK, would be the sight of the year.
8. That Robert Kubica starts a Grand Prix. I really want that to happen. Do I think it will? Sadly not.
9. That the Alfa 4C turns out to be as good as it looks. The gorgeous Alfa sports car appears to have it all: looks, performance, light weight and a low price. In fact it seems almost too good to be true. Let’s hope it’s not.
10. And, personally, that I am able to continue to bring you a rich array of road and track tests. Of the latter, there are already two in the can and awaiting publication: one F1 car, one sports car, both British, beautiful and very, very important. And there’s a third I’m just starting to hear might be possible to drive: I can’t say more now but I’m not sure I’ve been more excited about driving a car in my working life. You’ll know it when you see it.
Have a very happy New Year.