Letter From The Editor To The War Zone’s Readers As A New Year Dawns

I have a hard time believing it's almost 2019. This year went by so fast. But before the clock strikes midnight and 2018 becomes history, I want to talk a little bit about what I have been thankful in 2018 as it relates to the ongoing journalistic experiment now known as The War Zone.

First off, I want to thank all of you. I started writing about these issues that I care so much about many years ago for nothing. I didn't just graduate from journalism school and go looking for a job and this is where I ended up. This is the passion of my life and this site is my baby.

The fact that so many people from all walks of life and from so many places around the globe enjoy our work means so much to me. Thank you all for clicking and sharing our work. But really, my appreciation for my audience goes well beyond those basic forms of online patronage.

So much of what I do here occurs with my readership's help. Leads, topic ideas, suggestions, criticisms, and more are the building blocks of my daily workflow. Thank you for taking the time to reach out, and in some cases, to participate deeply in the creation of the content published on this site.

In all honesty, this place is about a colorful cast of characters above all else. Often times, our readers become the subjects of our biggest and best pieces. Their stories, their insights, and their unique points of view are a huge part of what makes us different. I always envisioned this concept as a space that relies heavily on the perspectives of those who worked on the lower decks, or spent their careers in cockpits, foxholes, hangars, machine shops, and laboratories, and not as another showcase for the polished buzzword-filled speak from the Pentagon's brass or those with corner offices in corporate towers. This site is often about the unsung heroes of the defense apparatus that deserve to have their voice heard. Realizing this objective is one of my greatest accomplishments and none of it would have happened without our readers.

Then again, when it comes to readership, no group of people deserves more of a hearty thank you from me than our esteemed discussion section crew. We have a totally unique community, one based on humor, a broad knowledge base, and mutual respect. One thing binds us all together—we are ultra-curious people who realize that we have much to learn from others. Nothing like it exists anywhere else. It truly is like no other place on the net.

This level of engagement and the lack of the usual BS that goes with it in a discourse community is something I decided to foster against pretty much everyone's advice nearly a decade ago with the hopes that I could prove all the ugly online trends wrong. Over time, that has come to pass, albeit the hard way. But in recent years, our members have really self-regulated the community above anyone else, which is downright astonishing. I thank every one of you for actually caring about our little corner of the internet and working together to make our brilliantly chaotic forum a positive anomaly in an internet full of negativity and incessant drive-by garbage tossing. You all deserve so much credit. Thank you!

Also, my big web of contacts, including our open-source investigators, photographers, subject matter experts, plane trackers, and avgeeks do deserve a lot of credit too. As do our fellow defense reporters who do marvelous work that we often source when building our unique takes of stories. Some veteran reporters that I have long looked up to, like Aviation Week's newly minted Defense Editor Stephen Trimble, have been so great to us in the past that I would consider them honorary members of our little team.

The fact of the matter is that readers don't see just how many people I reach out to on a daily basis for stories, whether it be for background information, quotes, to see if they would be subjects of a piece themselves, or just to bounce ideas off of and talk about what's going on in an effort to build a clearer picture and present that picture to our audience. The site could not run like it does without you, thank you all.

The same can be said for our industry partners, many of which have finally realized just how potent and unique of a platform we have and are engaging with us on a whole new level. This is really exciting. In the end, it means better and more accurate information for the stories we write, and more unique content and opportunities for us to ask the really hard or downright obscure questions that others don't.

While I am at it, I want to give a very special thanks to my partner in crime here at The War Zone, the one and only Joseph Trevithick. Quite frankly, when industry folks hear that we are a tiny team of just two people that produces all this deep-dive content, they are absolutely stunned. So much so that it has become a recurring inside joke between me in Joe.

I think if any of our readers saw what a work week looks like for us it would be downright frightening. Joe is already writing when I sign on and is usually right there when I sign off for the day. That alone is near superhuman. But it's not just about putting in the hours. When I was finally cleared to search out a teammate, the last thing I wanted was another one of me. Instead, I looked someone with a very different skill set that had a bit of overlap, but not all that much. The idea was that over time we could bridge the divide and be far more potent together than otherwise. That search lasted nine months. Joe was the one that had those exact qualities I was seeking and every day I am thankful he said yes when I offered him the job.

Bylines are a funny thing at The War Zone. The truth is that most of our articles are at least some sort of a team effort, and Joe's research often backs up some of our most exciting and challenging pieces to produce. In fact, we have become such a seamless team that some of the most intricate and popular articles posted on this site were written by both of us in one voice with zero integration editing required. I can turn over rolling coverage of a huge news breaking event to him after hours of updates with complete trust he will get it right and the continuity will be perfect. In fact, he often helps feed me those updates that come as supersonic speed as events unfold. It really is quite amazing.

Every weekday, and sometimes on the weekend too, we debate the day's headlines and red-team information at a blistering pace. As heated as our debates can get, in nearly two years of spending most of our waking moments in contact, there has never been anything I would even consider a fight. And that really is something because he puts up with a lot from me. I am not always the easiest person to work for, and I have one speed of operations which is far from leisurely, but he knows it's because I care about what we do and want us to succeed in doing it as a team.

I very much look forward to growing the site with Joe in the New Year.

I also really want to say thanks to our new ownership. These are hands-on and talented people who have plunked down their own checkbook to see The Drive and The War Zone succeed in ways that were never even remotely possible under the previous ownership. They want your user experience to be great and are ready to fix chronic issues with the site that many of us are all too aware of the second they physically can as we continue through this transition.

The truth is that the entire corporate reality has changed 180 degrees in such a short period of time and it really is awesome to be a part of it. In this crazy and often downright depressing industry, having private ownership that is really interested in what you do and is directly involved in helping you grow and succeed is maybe the best bonus a guy like me can get.

So please support The Drive and The War Zone. Our new owners aren't some faceless investment firm or big fat-laden media conglomerate. They are people who believe in us, love the topics our brands service, and I am in contact with them on a near-daily basis to see that we rise to new levels of success.

Finally, I want to thank Mike Guy, the Editor In Chief at The Drive. Mike has kept the ship together against incredible odds and has given me the freedom I need to make The War Zone the plucky little defense site that punches far above its weight that it is. When things looked down, he never fed us to the wolves or made us a sacrificial lamb to the corporate gods. When I really need him, he has been there. And on a personal level, that is really important when you invest so much of your life into a project like this.

With all that said, we are looking to harness the momentum described above and expand our operation in new and exciting ways in 2019. I have some big ideas for the site and where it could go. Not all of them will work, but some certainly will. The potential for The War Zone is glaringly obvious, and with your continued support and interaction, I truly believe we finally have a real shot of realizing that potential in full.

Thank you so much for being a part of this crazy voyage. We have so much incredible content already in process for the New Year. I can't wait to share it with all of you.

A happy and prosperous New Year to you and your loved ones!


Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com

Nothing’s More Festive Than a Car Getting Blown to Smithereens With Fireworks

We've all seen fireworks displays that go up in the air. Yawn! It's better to involve something else in the mayhem, like a car. You weren't going to fix it anyway, were you? Good.

The lovable Finns behind YouTube's Hydraulic Press Channel had a car that had been previously featured in other videos, and just wasn't good for much else. So, they blew it up, using four big cake-style professional show-quality fireworks and 20 four-inch shells.

The artistic maniacs cut a hole in the roof to allow more of the bursts to pop out of the car for a better show, but that's it. The rest of it is merely the car getting blown apart in the ultimate Viking funeral. The whole fireworks-equipped interior of the car lights up in less than 20 seconds.

That wasn't enough to finish off this tough wagon, though, so just to be sure, they put a "Finnish firecracker"—as in, a bunch of dynamite—under the car to blow it all up at the end. It's a grand finale far better than the usual rapid-fire bursts in the sky courtesy of your city's local government.

Now this is how to bring in the New Year: by thoroughly destroying something from the past. Imagine 2018 is the car, and feel relief as it gets flipped through the air with dynamite.

While you shouldn't try this at home without a safe place to hide from the blast and some ultra-knowledgeable pyromaniacs (read: stuff you probably don't have unless your roommates are all special effects pros), it's certainly fun to watch Finns do it on YouTube.

Happy New Year, everybody. Hopefully this wasn't your car.

[H/T Steve]

Jim Perkins, Savior of the Chevrolet Corvette and Auto Industry Icon Dead at 83

Jim Perkins, one of the original Lexus brand pioneers and the savior of the Chevrolet Corvette when it faced the chopping block the '90s, passed away on Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina at the age of 83 years old.

The Texan with a penchant for cowboy boots got his first job at Chevrolet by hanging out in the lobby of GM's Dallas regional office and talking to whoever would listen to him. He first landed a crummy warehouse job, but it got his foot in the door and kicked off what would become a significant and influential automotive career. One promotion led to another, and in about 20 years, Perkins was the general manager of the Chevrolet brand.

After leading the Bowtie and putting in a few years at Buick, Pekins jumped ship in 1984 for a lucrative job at Toyota where he led the launch of its new luxury brand, Lexus. Perkins played an important role in giving Lexus a fabulously successful American debut, but his stint at Toyota didn’t last long and he made a surprise return to General Motors in 1989.

Back in the helm once again, Perkins was inheriting a brand that wasn’t at its best. When you think of Chevrolet in the late '80s, you probably don’t think about a high-quality, high-performance brand. Things were so bad in the late '80s that the brand’s flagship sports car, the Corvette, was planned for discontinuation.

Perkins moved enough money around to fund some prototypes for the C4 Corvette’s replacement which would eventually become the C5—which was a big sales success. If it wasn’t for Perkins finding the funding for those prototypes, the Corvette likely would have ended with the C4 model. Perkins spent the rest of the '90s at Chevy pumping up truck sales and putting a bigger priority on motorsports resulting in five NASCAR wins and six Indy 500 victories for Chevrolet.

After retiring for good from GM in 1996, Perkins would go on to be the CEO of Hendrick Automotive Group until 2005. Perkins remained with Hendrick and lead a venture that built high-performance Camaros and restored classic cars and old race cars.

Perkins will be remembered for putting things into motion that would influence the automotive industry for years—even decades—to come. The Corvette wouldn’t be what it is today if it wasn’t for Perkins and the advancements in the C5. One could even argue that the luxury car industry wouldn’t be the same if Lexus hadn’t changed the game when it came about in the '80s.

China’s NYC-Sized ‘Earthquake Warning System’ Array Sounds More Like A Way To Talk To Submarines

China has reportedly constructed a massive extremely low frequency, or ELF, antenna array the size of New York City, as well as a smaller system and associated data processing and signal transmission facilities at various locations throughout the country. Officially, the entire system, known as Project Wireless Electromagnetic Method or Project WEM, will support the Chinese resource extraction industry and provide early warning about potential earthquakes. However, there is significant evidence that its primary function may actually be to provide long-range communication with Chinese submarines, a critical capability to support its growing number of nuclear-armed ballistic missile boats.

The South China Morning Post provided the update on Project WEM on Dec. 31, 2018. The antenna arrays and other sites have been more than decade in the making, with the program being a major component of China’s 11th Five Year Plan, which began in 2006. However, China has been especially secretive about the project and has not officially disclosed the location of the main array. Available information points to the bulk of Project WEM being situated within the country’s central Huazhong region, according to the Post.

ELF radio waves have a proven ability to penetrate deep below water and the ground. In principle, this means that a huge antenna array could be useful in detecting natural resources underground, such as precious metals or fossil fuels. Mining companies already employ ground-penetrating radar and laser imaging systems for similar purposes.

It might also be possible to use such a system to monitor movement below the Earth’s surface. This, in turn, might provide early indications of impending earthquakes, which are not uncommon in many areas of the country. The deadliest known earthquake of all time occurred in China in the 16th century, killing between 820,000 and 830,000 people based on Ming Dynasty records.

A worker at a Chinese coal mine in Inner Mongolia.

There is very real scholarship on ELF’s application in both of these civilian roles and Chinese researchers have published work on these topics. Project WEM’s funding also came via government budgets for civilian projects, according to the Post.

But, at the same time, there is significant information that suggests that any civilian applications may be of secondary importance to the Chinese government. The ability of ELF radio waves to penetrate hundreds of feet of water has long made them attractive as a way of communicating with submerged submarines.

By comparison, very low frequency, or VLF, waves can only make it down to around 100 feet below water at best. This means that submarines have to get relatively close to the surface or deploy a towed antenna to use these types of communications systems. There is a risk that doing so could give away their position and make them vulnerable to opposing anti-submarine forces.

A US Navy chart showing various submarine communications options and their relative risk. The

One of the major benefits of modern submarines, especially nuclear-powered types and boats with advanced, non-nuclear air-independent propulsion systems, is their ability to remain largely hidden underwater for extended periods of time. This gives them inherent deterrent qualities. It also makes them well suited to covertly collecting intelligence or, in the case of subs armed with conventional land attack or nuclear-capable missiles, to quietly positioning themselves for short- or no-notice strikes during a crisis.

So, it's not necessarily surprising that China’s 724 Research Institute, part of the state-run China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), a major supplier of communications and other electronics to the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), has been responsible for the Project WEM construction. Lu Jianxun, the project’s chief scientist, is also publicly involved in advanced communications work for the PLAN, the Post reported.

A Chinese Type 091 nuclear-powered attack submarine.

CSIC President Hu Wenmin visited the site in May 2017. He “expressed his appreciation for the construction of the WEM project and put forward opinions and requirements for the follow-up development of the project and the technical application in related fields,” a subsequent statement from the company read.

The Post also published a translated map showing the various components of the Project WEM system, which it said came from the PLAN. In addition to the huge array in central China, there is also reportedly near the county’s South China Sea coastline, which would put it relatively close to the country’s main submarine base on Hainan Island.

A map reportedly showing the general location over the various Project WEM components.

“Though I am involved in the project, I have no idea where it is. It should be up and running by now,” Chen Xiaobin, a researcher with the Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration, told the Post, indicating a level of security around the project that seems excessive for its stated civilian aims. “This facility will have important military uses if a war breaks out.”

Unfortunately, ELF systems are notoriously inefficient and require large sites in very specific positions to provide any reasonable communications capability. They are also limited in the amount of information they can carry and how fast they can send it out, transmitting text-only messages extremely slowly. Since submarines don’t have the space required for their own ELF transmitters, these one-way alerts often simply tell the boat’s crew to get safely into position to receive actual instructions.

Only three other countries – the United States, Russia, and India – have or have had ELF submarine communications sites. The U.S. Navy shut down the last of its arrays in 2004, officially because they were obsolete in light of improvements to very low frequency, or VLF, communications systems. The Navy's fleet of 16 E-6B Mercury strategic communications aircraft, together with ground-based VLF stations, presently provide the U.S. military's core means of communicating with deployed submarines.

A picture of the main building at the U.S. Navy's Clam Lake ELF transmitter facility in 1982.

The U.S. military still uses VLF waves to transmit so-called “Emergency Action Messages,” a key part of the nuclear strike process, which you can read about in more detail here. The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon’s top research and development arm, among others, has also been exploring the potential for further improved laser- and space-based communication options.

Still, for China, which has the single largest submarine force on the planet, being able to communicate with those boats without them needing to surface or almost surface is essential capability. China had previously built a super low frequency, or SLF, array in 2009 and subsequent demonstrated an initial capability to communicate with submerged submarines over long distances.

ELF offers an additional way to at least alert any boats deep below the sea that there are new orders or other information that they need to receive. It also provides an extremely long-distance communication capability, which will be valuable for the PLAN as it continues working to grow from a regional force into a global one.

More importantly, though, Project WEM could be essential for the Chinese government’s development of its nuclear-armed submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) deterrent capability. In that case, the ability of the ballistic missile submarines, or SSBNs, to remain underwater for long periods of time is vital to shielding them from detection and attack and ensuring they are able to carry out their mission if necessary.

At present, the Chinese military does not have anywhere near the nuclear command and control infrastructure that the United States does in the air and on the ground. One or more large ELF arrays would be a cost-effective means of expanding communications options in the near term with regards to the country's SSBN force, which is growing in size and scope.

In 2018, information emerged that pointed to China’s submarine-based nuclear deterrent being far more mature than publicly understood. In November 2018, one of the PLAN’s Type 094 Jin-class nuclear ballistic missile submarines reportedly conducted the first test flight of the solid fuel JL-3 submarine-launched ballistic missile, which has an estimated range of close to 5,600 miles. The existing JL-2 can only hit targets around 4,350 miles away.

That same month, satellite imagery appeared to show that the PLAN has four operational Type 094s and may have two more under construction. China has not publicly confirmed how many Jin-class boats it has or is expecting to produce.

“China’s four operational Jin-class SSBNs represent China’s first credible, sea-based nuclear deterrent,” the U.S. military said in the 2018 edition of its annual China Military Power report. “China’s next-generation Type 096 SSBN, reportedly to be armed with the follow-on JL-3 SLBM, will likely begin construction in the early-2020s.”

For any expanded Chinese submarine-based nuclear deterrent force to be credible, it will increasingly require sufficient communications and command and control architecture to go with it. The timeline of Project WEM, which began the same year that the first Type 094 appeared in public satellite imagery, is well in line with the kind of developments one would expect to see. Placing the main array in central China also makes it more difficult for opponents to target it during a crisis.

It remains to be seen whether or not China continues to employ ELF communications in the long run, or ultimately abandons it as the United States has done in favor of other options. But Project WEM that the country is willing to make significant investments in the technology now to improve its ability to communicate with and control its vast and growing submarines forces.

Contact the author: jtrevithickpr@gmail.com

2019 Mercedes-Benz A220 New Dad Review: The New Baby Benz Doesn’t Have Much Space for Baby

I finally did it: I'm a dad. The funny thing is, I've always owned dad cars, even before I needed to. Owning anything with less than four doors never made much sense, which is how I ended up with a stable of souped-up grandpa cars from the Sixties and Seventies. Now that I'm a father, the '74 Oldsmobile sedan I brought my wife and son home from the hospital in seems a bit dated. And that, my friends, is how I found myself on this quest to find the perfect new dad car. The latest contender: the all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz A220, By the Numbers

  • Base Price (Price as Tested): $TBA ($TBA)
  • Powertrain: turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, 188 horsepower, 221 pound-feet fof torque; seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission; front wheel-drive
  • EPA Fuel Economy: TBA mpg city; TBA mpg highway
  • 0-60 MPH: 6.1 seconds (Car and Driver)
  • Top Speed: 131 mph
  • Random dad fact: Introduced in 1982, the Mercedes-Benz 190 was the original "Baby Benz." It remained in production until 1993.

I loathe the term "entry-level luxury." To me, it characterizes products that people who can't really afford luxury goods buy, even though they should really steer clear. "Aspirational" is even worse. In a nutshell, it means paying more for less to gain more credibility through unnecessary material trappings.

Bearing that in mind, I regard the newest Baby Benz with a degree of skeptical detachment. Don't get me wrong, it's a fine car. It's exquisite to drive; it looks great. Friends and family regarded me differently when they saw that three-pointed star. ("Ben, did you get a Mercedes?") I wore a bigger, fancier feather in my figurative hat just by being associated with it. My house somehow looked more impressive with the little Benz sitting in the driveway.

Furthermore, the luxury with which I was surrounded while behind the wheel of the A-Class convinced me that the Mercedes-Benz reputation that arouses this sort of awe in people is well-deserved. We're talking top-shelf quality. Aspirational or not, the front end of the A-Class is as Mercedes as one of the big, $150,000-plus Daddy Warbucks Benzes. Its long, powerful snout sports a big tri-star grille and muscular creases. A stiff chassis, front struts, and a four-link rear suspension give the A-Class the sporty ride it should have, and the car's turbocharged four-cylinder engine—although nowhere near the most powerful in its class—dishes out plenty of power for spirited driving. The interior is packed with technology—including a pair of Tesla-worthy display screens running along the entire top edge of the dash—and is resplendent with bling-y HVAC vent bezels and nightclub-chic colored mood lighting. Small size aside, Benz has reached a pinnacle of luxury (for the price) here.

But for a family man, luxury and speed aren't necessarily top priorities. Perhaps they are for the family man who can afford them, but for the modest patriarch who must resort to Mercedes-Benz's smallest sedan, I have to wonder if there isn't something he couldn't purchase that's still nice enough to turn heads, but also offers the wife, children and all their stuff a bit more space. My biggest beef with this car (other than its bourgeois conceit) is that it's tight. With my wife clamoring for me to move my seat—the driver's seat—forward to allow more space for the baby's safety seat in the middle of the back row, I found myself resenting the fact that I could wring more family-friendly capability out of a Kia that cost somewhere between $10,000 and almost $30,000 less.

I can't say too much about that price just yet, because Mercedes hasn't announced it. Suffice to say, though, that the A-Class will probably start in the low $30,000s, and with options added on will most likely push toward $50,000. Not cheap for a compact car without enough space for family members—even if it is a really nice car.

Sure, the GLA-Class crossover is only a few thousand more (in theory)—but it's small, too, even if it does have a rear hatch in lieu of a tiny sedan trunk. And the fact remains, you can get a roomier, more powerful Acura TLX nicely optioned for roughly as much money than the Benz—putting the A-Class on dubious footing as an option for family types thinking about how much they should spend on a car. Among other cars in its class, the TLX and Infiniti Q50 are definitely better options for the child-saddled, although even those would be a little cramped for those with kids in car seats. The A220's 12.0 cubic foot trunk—smaller than the BMW 3 Series's and TLX's cargo holds, but not the tiny Cadillac ATS—was no match for the load of stuff my mother-in-law sent us home with after a weekend visit.

Of course once I got my wife, son, stroller, diaper bag, and all our shopping shoehorned into the car, the A220 was a blast to drive. Smooth on the highway and responsive on twisty roads, it gives every indication that it's here to please the driving enthusiast. It's relatively thrifty, too—premium fuel requirement notwithstanding. My average fuel economy hovered around 27 mpg when I wasn't driving with the hammer down.

Like all Mercedes-Benz vehicles, safety is top-notch. The A220 comes standard with automatic emergency braking, as well as a system that detects an impending impact from the rear. The car will apply its brakes to keep itself from being pushed out into traffic. Lane keeping assist and active lane change assist are available, as is an adaptive cruise control system that can regulate speed into turns and near intersections. Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the federal government have released crash safety ratings for the A-Class yet, though.

When I stepped out of the car and regarded its profile, the stubby back end (relative to that long, luxurious nose) reaffirmed my notion that the A-Class is not a good option for those of us forced to grind it out in traffic day after day loaded down with childcare gear and groceries. Being pretend-rich as anyone with an entry-level luxury car is apt to be, it's no sweat to shell out for delivery of groceries and other supplies. But even someone wealthy enough to purchase a Mercedes-Benz has to fit their children in the car at some point. No one else will deliver them until the chauffeur-driven Maybach is in the budget.

Perhaps the Baby Benz was just fine back in the days when new parents didn't have to schlep around so much stuff (if those days ever existed). But contemporary parents will most likely continue their relentless shuffle toward the crossover section of dealership lots. Will small Mercedes sedans make it in today's America? Maybe—but I think it will depend upon the number of DINKs willing to buy them.

Monte Carlo-Raced Ferrari 275 GTB Prototype Expected to Fetch $8 Million at Auction

Obscure, vintage Ferraris have quite a reputation for making a stir whenever they hit the auction block. This 1964 275 GTB is already one of the most beautiful, iconic, and desirable Ferraris. Its unique history, though, should make it even more irresistible to collectors—and drive the price up to $8 million or more.

Amazingly, this very car was the sole prototype for the 275 line, and the first car produced. It was used to develop the transaxle, independent rear suspension, and 3.3-liter V-12 found in all 275s.

It's a well-known fact that Enzo Ferrari begrudgingly built the road cars to fund his racing efforts. Unlike most roadgoing Ferraris, though, this 275 GTB was raced.

Outfitted with a few choice upgrades such as auxiliary lighting and a limited-slip differential, this 275 GTB was entered in the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally. Unfortunately, it failed to finish due to drivetrain issues. That might be for the best, as some non-production-spec headlight bulbs disqualified five of the top six finishers, making it the most controversial Monte Carlo Rally of all time.

Still, this upcoming sale represents a special opportunity to own a prototype of an iconic Ferrari model with racing pedigree. That's an amazing trifecta that should trigger a bidding war between several motivated buyers, especially considering the fact that this car has been holed up in a private collection for the past quarter century.

This one-of-a-kind Ferrari 275 GTB will be offered at Gooding & Company's upcoming Scottsdale, Arizona auction, which takes place on Jan. 18-19.

These Were the 9 Most Painful Moments of the 2018 Formula 1 Season

The 2018 Formula 1 season was a banger of a year. The championship lead changed hands five times in eight Grands Prix, and even after Lewis Hamilton charged away with the title lead after Italy, the fans still enjoyed plenty of brilliant driving in Singapore, Mexico, and Brazil.

But highs always come with lows, of which 2018 wasn't short. There were enough hardships to force multiple ugly incidents—the near-demise of Force India over summer break, repeated boneheaded mistakes by Max Verstappen, and Kimi Räikkönen's Ferrari career ending with a whimper—off the list completely.

1: The Haastralia Incident

Australia and America have a lot in common. (Both are former colonies of Britain with four-syllable names bookended by the letter A, for example.) For that reason, perhaps, Haas must have felt it had the home field advantage when it qualified a healthy P6 and P7. Rapid early-race overtakes and a spin by Max Verstappen put Haas's drivers P4 and P5, on track for its best-ever finishes in F1.

And then it came time for pit stops. Magnussen stopped by the garage for a fresh set of tires, but left with a cross-threaded wheel nut. He was instructed to pull over and retire while Grosjean got the command to pit, which ended the same way. While team principal Gunther Steiner briefed media on the cause of its misfortunes—a lack of pit stop practice—good guy Grosjean hunted down the teary mechanic whose mistakes cost the team so dearly to console him.

2: Deja Vu in Belgium

A colossal crash at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix, in which Fernando Alonso and a French speaker are implicated. The last time we heard that horror story was at the 2012 Belgian race, which arguably decided the championship that year. This time around, the stakes were lower, but the crash no cleaner.

Nico Hülkenberg's lockup sent him into the back of Alonso, who dominoed into Charles Leclerc and over the top of the Monegasque driver. FIA analysis of the accident concluded that had the halo not redirected the errant McLaren, its front wing would have plowed into Leclerc's visor, potentially killing the rookie. Eerily, the halo that prevented Leclerc's possible incapacitation was made mandatory by the fatal crash sustained in 2014 by none other than his godfather, Jules Bianchi. Though multiple drivers' races were ruined, the crash had a profound effect on how the halo was received by the public.

3: Ricciardo's Repeated Retirements

Soon-to-be Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo had to deal with eight retirements across 21 Grands Prix in 2018. It's not a record, nor is it unheard of in recent history—Carlos Sainz Jr. had just as many in 2017—but when compared to his competitors in the top teams, it gets ugly. Verstappen, Vettel, Räikkönen, Hamilton, and Bottas together endured ten retirements combined.

Ordinarily, Ricciardo's MGU-K failure in Monaco would have meant an additional DNF, but he had the race lead and dirty air on his side, which let him hold onto the win. Monaco was Ricciardo's second and last podium appearance of 2018, meaning that for the first time since Jochen Rindt in 1970, a driver had multiple race wins but no other podium finishes.

4: Two Spins, Big Lessons

Max Verstappen was sailing away with the race lead in Brazil when Esteban Ocon decided to loop around the outside of turn one with the aid of DRS. Verstappen didn't expect the Frenchman to hold on into the entry of the next corner, so when he sliced in at the apex, there was a Racing Point VJM11 in his way. Both spun, and Verstappen had to watch as Lewis Hamilton retook a lead he wouldn't relinquish.

Each driver had a lesson to learn: Don't put everything on the line when there's little to gain. Verstappen had a race win to lose by fighting the pass, while Ocon didn't even have points at stake.

5: Homeland Heartbreak, Part One

Maybe it's the track. Maybe it's the hometown atmosphere. Maybe it's just the water. Whatever the reason, the British Grand Prix is perennially one of Lewis Hamilton's best races. He's won the British GP four times consecutively between 2014 and 2017, and with a tremendous pole lap in 2018, everything was in place to make that five straight home race wins.

A poor start meant Vettel and Bottas squirted past in the first two corners, giving Hamilton the company of Kimi Räikkönen into turn three. Despite leaving the Finn space on the inside, Kimi went wide, spinning Hamilton. Hamilton rejoined in a lowly 18th, and though he recovered to a stellar second-place finish, it wasn't the result any of his fans were there to see.

6: Valtteri, It's James

Team orders have long been an unsavory way to alter the results of a race, no matter who benefits. It's only more displeasing when they're used to favor the weaker performer on a given weekend in the name of deciding the championship.

Valtteri Bottas was no stranger to team orders in 2018, as the team utilized them to keep him behind Hamilton for a picture-perfect one-two in Germany. Having a chance at a race win is one thing...but having your win yanked from your hands, as Mercedes did to Bottas in Russia, is another. The Finn qualified on pole, and held the race lead until lap 26 when the above radio message came through. Mercedes stoked the fire of controversy about team orders, and Valtteri walked away with the underwhelming consolation prize that was the fastest lap.

7: Baku Blowout

As ugly as team orders are, Bottas could be comforted by the knowledge that they weren't the idea of his teammate Lewis Hamilton, and that the orders came down for the greater good of bringing his teammate closer to a fifth title. There is no comfort to be had in giving your all and coming away empty-handed, as Bottas did at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Staying cool after the final safety car period of another chaotic Baku race, Bottas maintained a healthy race lead, but his rear right tire ate a piece of debris on the long main straight. With a puncture, the Pirelli ripped itself to shreds, and Bottas had to retire his car from what was effectively the lead. He was classified, and again managed the fastest lap of the race—but with no points to show for it, this was an even more miserable end to a race than in Russia.

8: Homeland Heartbreak, Part Two

Sebastian Vettel is a man with a fiery heart. That, combined with his sense of humor, have drawn him a loyal international fanbase comprised of Germans and Tifosi, both of whom gathered in force at the German Grand Prix. A race of mixed conditions, nobody could quite figure out which tire compound was best. Intermediates overheated, and slicks behaved as their name implied.

Ultimately, slicks were faster, but proved hard to handle, as Sebastian discovered on lap 52. An itty-bitty bout of oversteer forced Vettel to make a correction that sent him wide, over the gravel, and into the wall. His front wing was destroyed, his car beached, and his race was over. Sebastian was livid with himself, and fought tears as he apologized to his pit wall before climbing from his Ferrari to kick gravel.

9: Broken Bone in Bahrain

Be advised: This is a bit graphic.

Kimi Räikkönen stopped on lap 36 of the Bahrain Grand Prix for tires, but the left rear mechanic had a problem getting the wheel back on. In a lapse of focus, another mechanic by the name of Francesco Cigarini put his leg in front of the rear tire, and when the lollipop man gave an inaccurate all-clear, Kimi did as instructed and rolled away—over the top of Cigarini's leg.

It was a grisly accident, and easily the worst in Formula 1 since Jules Bianchi's crash at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. Cigarini was fortunate enough to receive immediate medical care, and was hospitalized for emergency surgery. He recovered well, and was already on crutches the following Monday. He appears to have since healed enough to return to work as a Ferrari mechanic, as he has been spotted at multiple Grands Prix since.

Watching Steel and Alloy Car Wheels Being Crushed by Hydraulic Press Is Weirdly Relaxing

By now, you might’ve heard of the Hydraulic Press Channel on YouTube. Hailing from Greenland, they provide some oddly fascinating, entertaining, and relaxing content: videos of various objects getting crushed by a massive industrial hydraulic press.

In this clip, they crush aluminum and steel wheels to judge the relative strength of each. Interestingly, they do so with the tires still attached, which comes into play toward the end of the video.

The first half of the upload shows the press exerting downward force on the rim of the wheel, like an extreme version of hitting a pothole. The aluminum wheel cracks across several of the spokes, while the rim of the wheel behind the face shatters. Amazingly, it took between 20 and 23 tons of pressure to destroy the aluminum wheel.

The steel wheel didn't crack, but was crushed into a decidedly un-round capital "M" shape. No clear advantage to either style of wheel in this test.

The next text involved pressing the face of the wheel, simulating an extreme side impact with a curb or perhaps with another vehicle. This test proved to be much more dramatic.

The aluminum wheel failed catastrophically when extreme pressure was applied. All at once, the rim on the back side of the wheel gave way uniformly, bleeding all of the tire's pressure out in an instant and sending the wheel, now with a completely destroyed face and spokes, rocketing up to smack into the press itself.

As for the steel wheel? The offset changed. The tire still held air, and it could have theoretically been bolted back onto a car—although we'll leave that test to the professionals at the Hydraulic Press Channel.

Suzuki Jimny Black Bison Edition Is a Mighty-Looking Mini Off-Roader

?We’re all big fan’s of Suzuki’s Jimny, despite the fact that it’s not even sold in the U.S. It’s hard not to love a pint-sized off-roader with boxy styling reminiscent of the days when SUVs were actually expected to go out and get dirty.

Japanese tuner Wald International had its way with a Jimny, toughening it up substantially and calling it the Black Bison Edition. The result looks like someone crossed a Jeep Wrangler Moab with a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen and left it in the dryer too long. We can dig it.

The front and rear bumpers have been redesigned to not only look more aggressive, but also to house auxiliary LED lighting. The bumpers are wider to connect with the wide fender flares, which are covering—you guessed it—wide off-road tires and wheels.

The roof also received a minor restyle, in the form of an integrated light bar at the front and a spoiler at the rear. A redesigned grille and headlight housings complement the bumper and grille, while a tweaked hood features tough-looking scoops to complete the look.

Despite the obvious nods to Jeep and AMG, the Black Bison Edition Jimny still manages to make a unique statement not made by the original Suzuki.

The end result is a subtle, but aggressive, redesign of the diminutive Jimny. It looks ready to tackle a night on the town after a day in the woods, all while staying small enough to make trail riding and street parking as easy as can be.

Top 10 Driving Moments of the 2018 Formula 1 Season

The 2018 Formula 1 season won't be soon forgotten. Its fierce fight for the championship early in the season saw the lead change hands between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton five times in just eight Grands Prix. Admittedly, the season won't be remembered for the way the title contest ran after that; Hamilton's points buffer to Vettel remained almost static after the Italian Grand Prix. But a handful of standout moments will be relived time and time again by fans seeking out the best performances of their favorite drivers or teams—or even simply the best races, regardless of who won.

For this list, we at The Drive have picked out 10 of the best driving moments and performances from across the season, from both qualifying and the Grands Prix themselves. Some moments behind the wheel produced memorable results, but were unspectacular in their achievement for one reason or another—Fernando Alonso's Australian Grand Prix comes to mind. Consider said drive an honorable mention, along with Charles Leclerc's performances in Azerbaijan and Russia and Kimi Räikkönen's pole lap in Italy and race win in Texas. But the 10 examples below will stand the test of time as evidence of why we cared about F1 during the 2018 season.

10: Lewis Hamilton, Pole in Australia

Back in the saddle after a long winter, Lewis Hamilton proved that the tenacity he showed in 2017 wasn't a one-off. His Q3 lap was almost seven-tenths faster than his nearest challenger, and though Valtteri Bottas would've been close if not for his crash in the same session, it's impossible to say just how close.

Hamilton failed to convert the pole into a win after a virtual safety car allowed Ferrari to maneuver Vettel into the race lead, but Hamilton's pace in Australia was unquestionable, and he maintained his form for the next 20 Grands Prix to take a well-earned fifth title.

9: Pierre Gasly, P4 in Bahrain Grand Prix

After coming off a miserable Australian Grand Prix weekend where he qualified last (and then failed to finish), Pierre Gasly turned his luck on its head by qualifying P6 in Bahrain. The Toro Rosso driver still saw red even after the lights changed to signal the start of the race, jousting bravely with Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull on the opening lap. Though Gasly succumbed to the Red Bull car's superior pace, his fighting spirit was not quashed.

Aided by the retirement of both Red Bulls and one Ferrari (when a horrific pit mishap broke a mechanic's leg), Gasly finished fourth, almost 13 seconds ahead of closest challenger Kevin Magnussen. His result was—and still is—the best of any Honda-powered car in the V-6 era, and Gasly poured salt in McLaren's wounds by poking fun at Fernando Alonso over the radio after the race.

8: Max Verstappen, Win in Austrian Grand Prix

Red Bull Racing competes under the Austrian flag, and the Red Bull Ring is the site of the Austrian Grand Prix. If any team has a home race, it's Red Bull in Austria, but despite this, Red Bull had yet to win at home since the circuit's reintroduction to the Formula 1 calendar in 2014.

Max Verstappen qualified an unremarkable fifth, but catapulted off the line and into the first corner to take position from Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas, next challenging Kimi Räikkönen. Bottas recovered to second in a matter of a few corners, but Verstappen clawed back third with a ballsy overtake into turn five—an unfavorable spot to pass—forcing Kimi wide and snagging third place.

The Dutchman benefitted when Bottas's transmission crapped out on lap 14, and again when Mercedes botched Hamilton's strategy by not pitting him during the resulting virtual safety car. When Hamilton at last stopped on lap 25, Verstappen took a lead which he would never relinquish, winning Red Bull its first home turf Grand Prix in front of tens of thousands of nomadic Dutch fans.

7: Sergio Perez, P3 in Azerbaijan Grand Prix

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix was, for the second year in a row, what many might call "a shit show." Its split of long straights and narrow, technical sectors encourages large pace deltas between cars of differing strengths across sectors, and its numerous square corners entice bold overtaking moves. Narrow confines mean contact is a constant risk—and Sergio Perez learned this the hard way when he damaged his front wing on Kimi Räikkönen's car, forcing a stop for a wing change during a safety car break resulting from the amateur-hour first lap.

Race stewards slapped the Mexican driver with a five-second time penalty for the crash, which he served later, but it didn't stop the ever-opportunistic Checo from fighting his way back up the order. When the Red Bull cars ran into each other, triggering the safety car, Perez quickly swapped his tires for super softs, which gave him pace to worry the frontrunners in the race's closing laps.

Perez was running in fifth when the safety car bowed out, and when Sebastian Vettel flat-spotted his tires with a botched lunge up the inside of both Mercedes, the German made himself prey for Perez. While Checo chased down Vettel, race leader Bottas hit a hunk of debris, bursting his tire. In a matter of seconds, Perez vaulted his way into third, where he stayed until the checkered flag waved.

His podium finish in Baku was the only one by a team other than Red Bull, Ferrari, or Mercedes in 2018. Though he needed lots of luck and a couple safety cars to attain this result, his performance was far from without merit.

6: Lewis Hamilton, Pole in Singapore

Singapore has historically been one of Sebastian Vettel's best tracks, but his Ferrari SF71H wasn't cooperating with setup changes this year, and the pole was expected to fall into Mercedes's hands. That doesn't detract from the absolute monster of a lap Lewis laid down, which team principal Toto Wolff described as "the most epic lap I've ever seen around here."

5: Daniel Ricciardo, Win in Monaco Grand Prix

Daniel Ricciardo plopped himself on pole in Monaco back in 2016, leading the race without difficulty—until his unready team botched a pit stop by not readying tires, giving the race lead to Mercedes. Ricciardo clambered back onto pole in 2018, ready to take the Monaco win he was denied in 2016, and it again looked certain that Ricciardo would win in Monaco.

Then, on lap 28, Ricciardo radioed to his pit wall to report he was "losing power," which turned out to be an MGU-K failure costing 160 horsepower. This, combined with his Renault engine's reported peak power deficit of 50 hp to that of the pursuing Ferrari of Vettel, meant that Ricciardo was now down an estimated 210 horses on his closest rival. To add insult to injury, Ricciardo's transmission was giving him only six of its eight gears, meaning Ricciardo's sick bull had to last another 50 laps in what seemed to be constantly deteriorating health.

But tire temperature problems plagued the field, and every time Vettel closed on Ricciardo down the pit straight, the Australian eked out another few tenths in Monaco's winding corners, keeping himself out of DRS range. Despite his handicap, Ricciardo stood atop the podium when the checkered flag flew. This would be Ricciardo's last podium appearance for Red Bull (he'll drive for Renault in 2019), and the first race Ricciardo has won from a starting position inside the top three.

4: Sebastian Vettel, Win in Bahrain Grand Prix

Pole to race win isn't always as simple a story as it sounds. Vettel qualified P1 and got a stellar start, embarking on what Ferrari planned to be a two-stop strategy. Mercedes jeopardized Ferrari's plans by choosing one-stop strategies that would give it track position in the closing stages of the race after Ferrari's second stop—but the shit wasn't done hitting the fan yet. Kimi Räikkönen's pit stop went awry, resulting in a broken leg for a mechanic and chaos in the Ferrari garage. This forced the team to radio Vettel a request he bitteschön turn his already-in-motion two-stop strategy into a one-stop affair.

This request was utter nonsense; Vettel had already asked everything of his soft tires by having to fight his way past Lewis Hamilton on lap 26. But without another option, Vettel had to keep driving on tires whose condition was worsening each lap, and take said softs 30 percent further than Pirelli predicted they could go.

Driving on fresher, faster tires, Bottas closed in on the German in the closing stages of the race, even coming within DRS range of the leader, but never quite lining up a successful pass attempt. Vettel tiptoed to the finish line on tires that were more cooked than a well-done steak, and celebrated his achievement with a trademark burst of exuberant Italian over team radio.

3: Lewis Hamilton, Pole in Hungary

Weather and track conditions during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix were as predictable as a game of high-stakes poker. At varying points throughout the hour, ultra softs, intermediates, and full wets each had their moments of glory, with Q3 ultimately belonging to the latter. Dry conditions in practice suggested the weekend to be in Ferrari's bag, but Hamilton's wet-weather driving dictated otherwise, stitching together a terrific pole lap more than a quarter of a second faster than his teammate—and more than a half-second quicker than the nearest Ferrari.

2: Daniel Ricciardo, Win in Chinese Grand Prix

Daniel Ricciardo's Chinese Grand Prix weekend got off to a terrible start. His turbo blew in Saturday's final practice session, which his garage barely had time to fix before the start of qualifying. Red Bull fired up his RB14 with seconds to spare, and Ricciardo had barely enough time to fight his way into Q2 and Q3, where he qualified an unimpressive sixth.

Come Sunday, Red Bull threw an early-race wrench into its competitors' plans by switching both its drivers to medium tires—on which they were expected to finish—with a high-risk, double-stacked stop. Mercedes reacted, then Ferrari, negating Red Bull's advantage—but Pandora's box cracked open on lap 30 when the two Toro Rosso drivers collided. Stewards called on the safety car to enable cleanup, and Red Bull performed a second double-stacked stop, this time to put its cars on the soft tire, making the Red Bulls the fastest cars on track by a considerable margin.

Ricciardo and Verstappen pounced on the leading cars, taking Räikkönen and Hamilton in a matter of laps, but Verstappen knocked both himself and Vettel out of contention with a failed overtake. Only Bottas stood in the way of Ricciardo, and with a daring lunge under braking, Ricciardo dispatched the Finn to take the race lead. It was Ricciardo's sixth Grand Prix win, all of which, up to that point, he'd achieved from starts outside the top three.

1: Lewis Hamilton, Win in German Grand Prix

Dramatic in its entirety, the German Grand Prix weekend saw Hamilton drop out of Q1 with hydraulic issues and Vettel take pole. Anyone in their right mind would have put money on Vettel cruising to an easy win, but the clouds had other ideas.

Hamilton fought from P14 on his set of soft tires while wishy-washy weather meant that no team was sure when rain would come, if at all. Strategies were improvised on the fly as teams gambled on weather changes, and at one point, every available tire was in use on the track, courtesy of an enterprising (but fruitless) stint by Gasly on a set of full wets.

Mercedes also anticipated a change to wet-weather tires at some point, but never pulled the trigger, forcing the Brit to tend to his soft tires for 43 laps against Pirelli's warranty of 35. After a long-awaited switch to ultra softs, Hamilton set three consecutive fastest laps while climbing the insurmountable obstacle that was Vettel's lead—then Vettel crashed on lap 52, forcing a safety car to intervene, under which Bottas and Räikkönen would pit. This gave Hamilton the race lead, but the problem of faster competitors directly on his six.

Upon the race's restart, Räikkönen failed to take position from Bottas, who looked ready to challenge Hamilton for the lead until orders from on high demanded that Valtteri stand down to preserve a surefire Mercedes one-two in Germany. Bottas complied, and Hamilton took the first win from a start outside the top six of his career.

Though his result was effectively secured by team orders, Hamilton's drive ticked all the boxes for a heroic performance. The title lead was at stake, conditions were iffy, and he had an entire field to pass—but despite it all, he won, even collecting the fastest lap along the way. Germany 2018 won't be forgotten any time soon, and is without a doubt one of the best Grands Prix of the V-6 era.