Welcome to The Grid, R&T‘s quick roundup of the auto industry and motorsports news you should know this morning.
Williams Formula 1 Car Launch Derailed By Hacked App
Formula 1 is rightly seen as the pinnacle of motorsport, but that doesn’t mean it’s immune to extremely silly problems. Williams intended to launch its 2021 F1 car, the FW43B, with an app that would allow you to see the car in augmented reality. But according to the team, that plan unraveled when the app was hacked. The team has pulled the app from all the major app stores, and had to cancel the virtual unveiling entirely, instead releasing images of the car on the team website. An evolution of last year’s FW43, the ‘B sports a new livery that Williams says is inspired by its Eighties and Nineties cars. There is, however, a distinct lack of sponsorship on this new car, the first produced under new owners Dorilton Capital. Hopefully, the team can improve its performance in 2021 and find some more backers.
Formula 1 Will Return to Portugal
Formula 1 held a Portuguese Grand Prix for the first time in a quarter-century last year, and the series confirmed today that it will return to Portgual again this year with a race weekend on April 30th—May 2nd. The GP will again be held at Portimao, a relatively new track in the Algarve region of the country. The sport, the GP’s promoters, and Portuguese authorities are working to find a way to safely allow fans to attend the race, as they did last year. As of right now, the 2021 F1 calendar is complete, with a new season-opener in Bahrain and a return to Imola kicking things off. It certainly seems possible, however, that the schedule could change throughout the year as the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns evolve.
What’s Causing the Automotive Microchip Shortage
It’s hard to find an automaker that hasn’t been hit hard by the global microchip shortage. But the cause of the shortage hasn’t always been clear. Automotive News offers a nice breakdown. Essentially, automakers and chip suppliers didn’t think demand would bounce back so quickly after early COVID-19 lockdowns, and when production and sales ramped up, there wasn’t enough supply at hand. That miscalculation put automakers at the back of the line, behind lots of other industries with a huge appetite for chips, and it doesn’t look like the supply issue will be solved for quite some time. For now, it seems, automakers will adapt by focusing production on more important (i.e., profitable) vehicles.
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