Thursday, 26 March 2020

Redzone in more ways than one

In motorsports and motoring in general, the red zone (or redline zone) denotes the maximum range of revolutions-per-minute (RPM) an engine can attain. Essentially the RPM indicator (see below) on a vehicle's tachometer measures how many times the engine's crankshaft makes one full rotation every minute. Arguably the pinnacle of motorsport engineering, Formula One (F1) cars tend to frequently rev up to a red zone that's high as 18,000 rpm to generate peak performance. This then gives you the iconic high pitched engine roar or whine that's synonymous with the F1 sport.

Why am I talking about F1 cars and the red zone? Well the reasons are twofold. Firstly, right before the Covid-19 lockdown was initiated in Malaysia, I already had a strong inkling of what was going to happen. And while stockpiling of food and supplies were already slowly starting amongst the general public (yours truly included), I made a slight detour to a nearby hobby shop and 'panic' bought two 1/20 scale F1 model kits to my already overflowing pile. Inexcusable in these times I know. Oh, and secondly the district I live in has been designated a Covid-19 redzone. At last count, which was a few days ago, there had been up to 24 positive cases reported in my area. Oh well.  

1/20 scale Formula One racing car model kits by Aoshima/Beemax and Tamiya

I first got into the sport as a 10 or 11-year-old. Staying up late into the night to catch F1 races that saw battles between Alain Prost, Nelson Piquet, Nikki Lauda, Nigel Mansell and Aryton Senna throughout the mid-1980s up to early '90s. After this golden period, I stopped following the sport closely although I still read enough of it to be aware of exceptional drivers like Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. But I'm starting to follow F1 again hence the kits you see now.

1/20 scale Aoshima/Beemax McLaren MP4/2 plastic scale model kit, sans photo-etch parts

For non-Formula One fans, let me regale you with some background info on both the 1/20 scale F1 model kits. Let me start with the McLaren MP4/2 (see above) that was powered by a 650 bhp V6 TAG-Porsche turbo engine encased in an all carbon fibre chassis. To a young boy new to the sport way back then, the iconic red and white McLaren racing car was F1. The actual car I was in awe of all those years ago was probably a later iteration i.e. the MP4/2B driven by Alain Prost to the driver's championship in 1985. That car wasn't in stock at my local hobby store so the MP4/2 had to suffice.  

1/20 scale Tamiya Ferrari F60 plastic model kit with the photo-etched parts included

In 2009, the fairytale story of the season involved constructor Brawn-Mercedes team's first-and-only participation in the sport; and their journey to go on and win the Constructor's Championship. In that year, Scuderia took part with the F60, a car powered by the Ferrari Type 056 V8 engine. Unfortunately Ferrari achieved only one victory with Kimi Räikkönen in the Belgian Grand Prix. They also only had six podium finishes that year so it stands to reason that the F60 wasn't high on my to-do-list. But it was the only F1 car from the main three constructors of Mercedes-AMG Petronas, Scuderia Ferrari and Red Bull Racing that was available at the local store. It's still a Ferrari. So all good.

Formula 1 cars of today usually have digital RPM indicators that display the revs in numbers

As I finish this blog, the Covid-19 lockdown in Malaysia has been extended another two weeks. I actually expected the lockdown to go on for another month but the Malayiasian economy has already taken a huge beating as it is. So hopefully the situation will improve by mid-April not only here where I'm at but elsewhere too. Sadly many governments around the world are still not taking this pandemic seriously enough. I can only look on in utter despair at the lives soon to be lost in the coming weeks. Wherever you may be, dear reader, keep your social distance and please stay safe.


  1. Replies
    1. You too Michal ... may you and your family stay safe during these trying times.

  2. Oh, a man of taste and wisdom. Let others hoard their puny toilet paper. You really got a treasure.
    Looking forward to seeing it! We still have some lockdown weeks ahead, so take your time and enjoy the project. All the best to you and your family. Stay safe.

    1. Thanks Suber ... and to you too. Please stay safe ... both you and your loved ones!


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