June 30, 2007

F1 Quals: France!

Ferrari returns, half of the McLaren boys coughs up a hairball, and it's going to rain during the race... oh boy, have we got a live one.

As (kinda) predicted, Ferrari has flexed their muscle again (somehow), and Felipe Massa is on pole, his fourth of the season, despite his car jumping all over the place all day. McLaren's Lewis Hamilton is second, only .070 seconds behind, and Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari is third. Completing the first two rows is BMW-Sauber's Robert Kubica, returning from his Montreal car demolition.

The two Renaults of Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovelenaineineninnie make up the third row, with Grizzly Nick Heidfeld and Jarno (The Engineer) Trulli the fourth. Considering that Heidfeld's back is really killing him, that's a really good result for the Beemer-Sauber driver.

Nico Rosberg's Williams took 9th.

By now, you're probably wondering "hey, where's Fernando Alonso?" Well, he's here, in 10th. He was unable to complete a lap in Q3 due to what seemed to be an engine problem, but may well be gearbox-related. If it IS an engine, the smoke it belched out pretty much suggests that he'll have to change it, and therefore take a 10-spot grid penalty. Grim news for him, great news for Hamilton's Championship campaign. Heck, just being 10th is bad enough.

The only other bit of info of any worth is that David Coulthard's Chin suffered ANOTHER gearbox problem, and he'll be 16th. It seems, though, that the Red Bull/Toro Rosso cars should be pretty decent IF they get their 'seamless shift' gearbox worked out, but as of now, they just don't know if it'll get them through a race... expect them all to revert back to the 'manual' shifter.

...and then, there's the rain. While it didn't rain during quals, the Legendary Announce Team tells us that it's all but a sure thing for the race. Rain on race day is the great equalizer in F1; last year rain brought us the Hungarian GP, featuring Jenson Button's first win in a wild race. If it DOES rain, throw out everything you know about the cars. It'll all be up for grabs on Sunday.

If it DOESN'T rain, then history suggests that either Massa or Hamilton will win. *shrug* There's a reason why I hate the track at Mangy-Curs, and that's it: this race has never been won from behind the front row (at least, that's what the Legendary Announce Team said).

Wonder how rain'll drain off the new surface of the track?

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June 29, 2007

French GP: Friday Practice (or lack thereof)

No, I don't mean that the F1 Circus didn't practice. To be entirely honest, I don't have the time to watch the cars go 'round and 'round for no reason today. It's 1145pm on Friday night as I write this, and I don't want to stay up until 130am watching the videotape.

It's the first televised F1 event that The Pond has missed since sometime in 2005, when I mis-set the VCR for a practice session.

Here's the news that's come out of practice, though:

1) Ferrari topped the timecharts. I'm guessing the F2007 is really good on the high downforce circuits, and not-so-great on the low downforce ones (please note, this is in comparison to the McLarens only... they're better than the other teams on all tracks). Fortunately for Ferrari, there aren't that many low downforce tracks left for the year: Silverstone, Monza, and Shanghai. I haven't heard what Suzuka Fuji's setup is yet... I wonder if the TEAMS know yet?

2) Toro Rosso had a good time in P2, with American Scott Speed 3rd and Liuzzi 5th. Since Mangy-Curs is about as close to being a test track as there is (with all the excitement that suggests), with it's billiard-table smooth asphalt and unchallenging layout, we may be seeing the Adrian Newey-designed car doing the absolute best it can. Or it may have been down to fuel loading, or the teams (other than Ferrari) working on tire wear, or something. We'll see in Quals.

3) Beemer-Sauber. The good news, and I mean that unsarcastically, is that Robert Kubica is back in the car after he was given the okay by the FIA medical chief. Remember, it was only three weeks ago that he had that incredible wreck in Montreal. The bad news, however, is that Grizzly Nick Heidfeld may NOT be able to take to the track for Quals. It seems he has an unspecified back problem that flared up on him and limited his running. If he can't go, Sebastian Vettel will take his place.

Please note that this doesn't seem to be a Jacques Villeneuve type of back problem, where the driver just doesn't want to be with the team anymore (Hungary 2006, remember?), but a real, actual injury.

4) Comedy of the day was provided by Ant Davidison at the very beginning of P2. He was coming out of his garage and speared directly into the back-left tire of Liuzzi's Toro Rosso. Oops. Someone at SuperAguri's got some 'splainin' to do (this was about all I saw of practice today).

See y'all for the Quals report!

Hmm... y'know, this wasn't a bad practice writeup. Maybe I should not watch practice more often?

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Journey's End

Rye bread for everybody!

Welcome home, my brothers!

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June 28, 2007

SDB's WORST NIGHTMARE!

From the 'Amalgam' DC/Marvel crossover series

Bonus points if anybody can name the character...

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June 27, 2007

*snicker*

Bumper Sticker seen on the way to dinner this evening:

"If Only Life Was As Simple As Evangelion"

Oh my aching head...

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F1 ON TV!

It's that time again... time for the F1 Circus to make it's way to glamourous Paris, France!

...and then to drive half-way into the middle of nowhere, until you arrive at Magny-Cours. This is like having a F1 race in Paxton, IL... three hours from Chicago and six from St. Louis. A town where you can stand on the railroad grading at the north end of town and see the city limits to the south... if the glare from the one streetlight doesn't blind you (and please note, it's a flashing red).*

Ah well... here's the lineup for TV coverage:

Friday on SPEED
7a-830a LIVE practice
1130p-1230a F1 Debrief: USGP

Saturday on SPEED
7a-830a LIVE quals

Sunday on FOX
12noon-2pm(?) French Grand Prix (tape delay)

Sunday on SPEED
230p-4p GP2 Feature Race

All times central, of course. Subtract two hours for San Francisco. Add one for NYC. Add 14 for the moon... just because. more...

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June 26, 2007

Feet of Clay

I won't claim that Chris Benoit was a hero, or an idol, of mine. He wasn't. He was an excellent performer in the ring, who never turned in a poor match that I saw. He never gave less than everything he had when he hit the stage, and 'everything he had' was enough to make him one of the best professional wrestlers ever, in any country.

He was quick enough to hang with the fastest cruiserweights, and powerful enough to go toe-to-toe with the behemoths. His pure wrestling skill was jaw-dropping. His only weakness was his ability to cut a promo, but he didn't need to speak like The Rock or Triple-H to get his point across.

The performer is not the man, obviously, though it seemed that in the case of Chris Benoit, they were one in the same... a man who enjoyed what he did, though it caused him pain, and nearly cost him his ability to move when it broke his neck.

Now, however, the last acts of Chris Benoit's life were to smother his seven-year-old son, strangle his wife, and then hang himself from a weight machine. Even though he was a professional wrestler, an actor if you will, he was also a person... a person, it seems, with a side so horrible that nobody could guess at it.

I mourn the death of a family, and the death of the wrestler, who entertained the fans at such cost to himself.

For the murderer, though, there is nothing but disgust.

In the weeks ahead, we may discover that it was not Chris Benoit that killed himself and his family, but a drug-induced rage. If so, one wonders if professional wrestling will survive... and who will be next. For there almost certainly will be a "next." It probably won't be as horrifying a scene as this one, it'll probably just involve one person. It may be a wrestler... or a football player... or a baseball slugger... or just some high-school kid we may never hear of.

Let's hope that, if anything good can come of this, it convinces Vince McMahon that he doesn't need the musclemonsters anymore. Lets hope it convinces pro football to crack down even harder on those who use performance-enhancing drugs. Lets hope that baseball drops the axe on those who break records while on the needle.

And let's hope that unknown high-school kid realizes what he's doing to himself.

Of course, none of these things will happen.

And Chris Benoit, his wife, and his seven-year old son, will still be dead.

Dammit.

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June 25, 2007

I don't believe this...

It was announced today that Chris Benoit, long-time professional wrestler, and his family, were found dead in his home in Georgia... and unlike the "death" of Vince McMahon a few weeks ago, this isn't fake. Instead of RAW tonight, the WWE is showing a three-hour retrospectice of his career... and they've only done that a couple of times before.

Benoit started his real career in Japan's NJPW, under the name "Wild Pegasus". He won the Super J Cup, which brought the best non-heavyweight wrestlers throughout Japan together to find out who was the best.

Of course, it was pre-plotted, but he was put over such luminaries as Jushin Liger, Gedo, Black Tiger, and the Great Sasuki, which meant he was probably the best pro wrestler in the world at the time.

After that, he moved on to ECW here in the US, where he took the name "The Canadian Crippler", a nickname that stuck with him for the rest of his career. He teamed with Dean Malenko to win the ECW Tag-team Championship in 1995.

His next stop was WCW, where he joined the infamous Four Horsemen along with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman (who's death a few years back was one of the first WWE retrospectives). It was also at this time that he met his wife-to-be, Nancy... who was married to WCW's booker (the man who decides who would win or lose) and wrestler, Kevin Sullivan. They had both a real-life and an in-ring feud. Another memorable "high"light of his career was when he wrestled Bret Hart as a tribute to Hart's brother, Owen, who had died due to an equipment malfunction.

A year later, he jumped to the WWF with Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko and Eddie Guerrero, who died in 2005. This was a huge thing in professional wrestling circles, as it really spelled the beginning of the end of WCW. He won a tag-team championship with Chris Jericho (another NJPW alumnus). He missed a year due to a neck injury (2001-2002).

It was at WrestleMania XX that he won the single greatest match I have ever seen, however, when he finally became the WWE Heavyweight Championship in a 'triple-threat' match against Shawn Michaels and HHH. I saw WrestleMania XX at a Hooters, along with maybe 50 others, and when Benoit put the "crippler crossface" submission hold on HHH, the place went completely wild... and it got even louder when HHH tried to roll out of it, but Benoit kept the hold on somehow. When Triple-H tapped out, finally, I was not the only person yelling at the top of their lungs.
Benoit celebrates at WM XX
As a rule, I don't purchase DVDs from World Wrestling Entertainment, but that one, I bought the minute it was out. That match wound up being chosen by PWI (Pro Wrestling Illustrated, the most respected pro wrestling periodical out there, because it has NO ties to any of the companies anywhere) as the runaway winner of "Match of the Year" for 2004.

A few months later, I stopped watching pro wrestling (though I did occasionally download legendary matches from Japan), but the last show I really watched was right here in Duckburg... and I was in the audience when he was the surprise tag-team partner of Eugene. When his theme music hit, the crowd went absolutely berserk. I wasn't too far from the entry ramp, and I know he saw the "Wild Pegasus" sign I brought (I really was a wrestling geek), as he pointed at it as he came down.

And now, he's dead, and all we currently know is that the Atlanta police have said that 1) he wasn't shot, and 2) he called the WWE to tell them that he wouldn't be able to work on Monday because his family was ill and "they were spitting up blood", which is really creepy.

Benoit applies the Crossface.

I don't believe this.

UPDATE 1042pm: Fox News is reporting that Atlanta police are investigating the case as a murder/suicide, with Benoit killing his wife and son on Sunday, then himself on Monday. If this is the case, I can't imagine why.

UPDATE 1045pm: I gave it some thought, and for all you non-wrestling fans, here's something that'd cause Bernie Ecclestone to have a stroke: I'm going to compare recent WWE/F wrestlers to recent F1 drivers, by popularity.

Michael Schumacher would be Stone Cold Steve Austin... incredibly popular, despite some nasty tendencies.
Fernando Alonso would be The Rock... the 'face', almost as big as Schumacher.
Kimi Raikkonen would be The Undertaker... big name, big drawing power.
Felipe Massa would be Chris Benoit... the favorite of a certain group of fans (in Massa's case, the Ferrari tifosi. In Benoit's case, the 'smart' wrestling fan.)

ANOTHER UPDATE 1055pm: Mallory Mehling, the best wrestling writer out there (and the person who talked me into starting The Pond, way back when), writes for World Wrestling Insanity, where she reviews WWE RAW, the Monday night show. She's been kind enough to allow me to post her closing commentary for tonight's three-hour retrospective... click below to read. more...

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June 24, 2007

Um... Mr Ani-nouto?

Ani-nouto starts to get the dry heaves from this line in Lucky Star, ep 11:
...eating taiyaki?

There are some girls out there who'd like to have a talk with you, I think...
Gunslinger Girls, to be exact...

(note: the reference is actually to Sailor Fuku to Kikanjuu, a short-run TV drama from 1982, that took place in Asakusa... which is where Konata ended up when she fell asleep on the train... and has NOTHING to do with Nazis, by the way.)

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June 23, 2007

Apropos of apathy...

I haven't been feeling the joy of blogging recently, so I'm taking a semi-almost-kinda-break. To tide you over until I get back into it, here's a music video from way back when.

How to be a Millionaire by ABC.

Loved it then, love it now. Hard to believe it was 22 years ago...

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June 21, 2007

Adventures In Fansubbing

A few days ago, I was discussing with Ph.Duck the whole concept of fansubs. As a translator (one of the very few people in the world who understands a language called 'Marathi' well enough to translate poetry from it into English), he understands the difficulties involved... but he didn't quite grasp why people did it. "It's just TV shows, right?"

TV shows, movies, manga, books... you name it. "But why do they do it?"

Near as I can figure, fansubbers do their thing mainly because they enjoy it. They're improving their grasp on a difficult language, and in the process spreading the artform that is anime to those of us who have problems with languages (or just don't want to bother to learn). Further, they know there's an audience out there for what they're doing. They must get some sense of pride that, say, Rocket Girls is becoming a hit amongst a certain group of fans... a cult hit, to be sure, but nevertheless a hit.

In my theatre days, what I did would be analogous to that of the fansubber's role. I was a lighting designer. Everybody saw my work... indeed, my work could have a pivotal role on the success or failure of a show (lighting designers have a saying: "Fsck with me, and you act in the dark.")

But the audience never knew my name. Like an umpire in baseball, I was most successful when people didn't even notice the job I did. Only once out of nearly 200 shows was I ever brought out on stage after a production for a round of applause (a high school production of Dracula; I was a guest designer, and even my crippled ego at the time recognized that the design I came up with was pretty darn good. That production wound up being invited to the All-State High School Theatre Festival, one of just six plays from the entire state to have that honor. It's no stretch to say that it was, far and away, the best there, too.)... and I got a standing ovation. But that production was as flashy as a Pink Floyd concert; the word 'melodrama' was invented just for shows like that one, and the lighting was supposed to be noticed.

I digress. My point is, the individual fansubber doesn't usually get noticed, either. Yes, there are groups that are known for the quality of work they do; AFK and Eclipse leap to mind, for example. But the individuals involved aren't generally well-known at all.

All of which leads me to the whole point of this post... the occasional lapse in a fansubber's concentration level which turns a scene completely on it's ear.

Rocket Girls, episode 10. A high-school girl who ran away from home to become an astronaut has just been informed that she's going into space in two days, after only a couple of weeks worth of training. Furthermore, the news has been blared over the world's media. She calls home for the first time since she left, hoping to talk with her mother and father. Instead, her younger brother answers, and after a few minutes of small talk, she asks to talk to her parents. "They're not home," her brother says. "They've gone to the shrine." "The shrine," asks our heroine? "Yep," replies her brother, "the shrine...":
...she was raised by a pack of lions?  Werewolves?  Hyenas?

Oy.

I'm not making fun of the fansubber here, really I'm not. It's more a case where this sort of thing is so uncommon that it almost begs to be pointed out. Yes, you might have clumsy translation (even the professionals do it: "Future Men" my left wingtip...), and this is probably just a simple spelling mistake, but the difference between "pray" and "prey" is too funny to let pass.

By the way, thank you, Rakuda Fansubs, for your efforts for Rocket Girls. I'd link to your website, but you don't have one!

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June 18, 2007

A Date With The Ducks In Anime

'I haven't even seen half of these before,' says Konata...

Lucky Star, ep10

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June 17, 2007

F1 UPDATE: INDIANAPOLIS!

It wasn't as banana-peel wacky as Montreal, but it was still a good race. Let's get to the UPDATIN'!

*TWOFER: Two North American races, two poles, two wins for Lewis Hamilton. He beat Alonso on the drag-race to the first turn (though not without some frolicking by 'Nando), he kept his teammate behind him (though only just barely at one point), and got his second victory in seven days by a small but comfortable margin. There's gonna be some broken china in the McLaren pits tonight...

*SCUDERIA PANIC: Sure, Ferrari came in three-four, not a bad result. But they were FIFTEEN SECONDS BEHIND the McLarens, and on a track that Ferrari has dominated in the past. Even Jean Todt's sweater has got to be worried by now.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE: He didn't get it last week because Kovalenenneinenneinninnie had a miracle race, but there's no way Lewis Hamilton can't be given the DotR award. To beat Alonso, he had to drive a flawless race, and he did. No bobbles, no accidental excursions, as precision a race as any Schumacher did. Perfect. I don't know if he can keep it up, but it's gonna be fascinating watching him try. Honorable mention to Sebastian Vettel, who became the youngest man (and only teenager) to earn a Driver's Championship point today.

*TEAM OF THE RACE: McLaren. 1-2 on the podium, fifteen seconds ahead of their main competition, they let their drivers race each other, AND they give us the quote of the race (Hamilton on radio: "Woo-hoo! Thank you guys, I love you!" Unnamed McLaren Engineer with Deadpan Voice: "We love you too. Now set your engine state to...")? Sign us up! If we at F1 UPDATE! weren't SuperAguri fans...

*MOVE OF THE RACE: Giancarlo Fisichella seemed to be feelin' his oats this week, as he had a couple of nice moments on the track today. First there was his duel with Jenson Button that lasted the entire length of the infield section of the track, which was exciting and the "how do they DO that?" moment of the race. But then, on lap 24, Fisi came upon Man-mountain Wurz . He started his pass going into turn 6, were side-by-side coming out of 6 down the (very) short chute to 7, and in seven forced Wurz to concede the place, giving him a wheel-to-wheel lovetap to prevent him from even thinking of keeping up. A very nice move, requiring a huge pair of... um... gears, and well-deserving of the MotR.

*MOOOOOOOO-OOVE OF THE RACE: That which is the best worst on the track, the Moooooo-oove celebrates the bovine that lurks within all F1 drivers. This one was over early, folks. No contest at all. The run down to the first turn at any Formula One track is always dicey, but Indy seems to inspire huge displays of 'duh' driving. Ralf Schumacher seemed to forget that he had to turn, jumped on the brakes very, VERY late, and his card skidded to the left... right into David Coulthard's Chin and Rubens Barrichello. All three cars, out of the race. Nice job, Ralfy, enjoy your Moooo-ove... you can use it to remember your career by.

*DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE: more...

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June 16, 2007

USGP P3 and Quals!

A rarity on the TV today, something I didn't even know existed until 2005's coverage of the US Grand Prix: Saturday practice! What seemed to be a lot of fine tuning, though with two notable incidents. First, we learned that Lewis Hamilton's McLaren needed an engine change, though since it was before Saturday it was done without penalty... a changing of the rules from last year. Second, more wildlife deaths on the track. Last week, it was a groundhog. This week? Pidgeon. One second it was there with a F1 car bearing down on it, the next, poof. Feathers everywhere.

And then came Quals. Hit the buzzer if you've heard this one before: rookie (bzzz!) sensation (bzzz!) Lewis Hamilton (bzzz!) took pole (bzzz!) by beating his teammate (bzzz!) on a track that he's never been to before (bzzz!). As mentioned, Fernando Alonso was second (bzzz!), making it a McLaren front row (bzzz!).

To continue the theme, the two Ferraris (bzzz!) make up the Row 2 (bzzz!), Massa then Raikkonen (bzzz!).

This really (bzzz!) HEY!

This really (pause) has got to be concerning the boys in red. If any track can be said to be owned by a team, it's the Indy road course, which has been completely dominated by Ferrari over the years. In fact, other than Mika Hakkonen's McLaren winning the first USGP at Indy, no other team has won there. Worse news yet for the Scuderia, they are almost a half-second slower than Hamilton.

Third row is comprised of Grizzly Nick Heidfeld and Heikki Kovalenininneininnie for BMW and Renault, respectively. Rookie (bzzz!) Sebastian Vettel, in his first F1 race ever and filling in for Robert Kubica in the second BMW, is seventh. A sterling performance for the 19-year old, one that's got to have Dr Mario Theissen (BMW Team Principal) grinning happy less stonefaced than usual. Jarno Trulli, continuing his run of good performances in less-than-stellar cars here, is eighth (his teammate, Cora Schumacher's Husband, is 12th somehow... I suspect that both Toyotas are rather short-fueled).

Making up Row 5 is Mark Webber's RedBull and Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault. Webber has had a rather poor weekend so far as he's struggled (like all RedBull sponsored cars at Indy this year) with very low grip. Yes, they're fast in a straight line, but what good is that if you can't actually STOP at the end of said straight line?

The rest of the grid:
11. David Coulthard's Chin Red Bull-Renault 1:12.873
12. Ralf Schumacher Toyota 1:12.920
13. Jenson Button Honda 1:12.998
14. Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:13.060
15. Rubens Barrichello Honda 1:13.201
16. Anthony Davidson Super Aguri-Honda 1:13.259
17. Man-mountain Wurz Williams-Toyota 1:13.441
18. Takuma SuperSato Super Aguri-Honda 1:13.477
19. Vitantonio Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:13.484
20. American Scott Speed Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:13.712
21. Adrian Sutil Spyker-Ferrari 1:14.122
22. Christijan Albers Spyker-Ferrari 1:14.597

Should be interesting: will Alonso race his teammate to the first turn, or will he settle in behind? Will the Ferraris try to gang up on the front row? Will half the field wreck in turns 1 & 2 like last year? Will Scott Speed make it past turn 2? Will Spyker even bother showing up? Tune in on Sunday at 12pm central on Fox to find out, then come here for F1 UPDATE!

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June 15, 2007

USGP Friday Practices

"Practices?" Yep! It's a wonderful thing, SPEED's coverage for the US Grand Prix. We got to see both 90-minute practices today, not to mention a fun hour-long bit where the Legendary Announce Team (with 'special' guest Derek "Crashing" Daly) just got to talk about whatever they wanted. That was a lot more interesting than the practices, to be honest.

The cars were pretty closing matched in both practices, with 3 seconds seperating #1 to #20 in P1, and 1.9 seconds in P2. BMW's Sebastian Vettel, who's sitting in for Robert Kubica this race, actually was fourth fastest in P1. He has a decent shot at being the first teenager to score points in his first F1 race ever on Sunday. Pity that old man Lewis Hamilton...

Felipe Massa was less than a second off the track record, which was set back in 2001, when there were no limitations to things like aerodynamics and the engines were larger and more powerful. Amazing stuff, and it makes me wonder where the teams would be if they still had the V10s.

Fastest straight-line speed was set by David Coulthard's Chin and Red Bull, at over 209mph. McLaren was around 204, and Ferrari in between the two. McLaren, though, was consistently the best lappers on the day, which has GOT to be causing team Ferrari some consternation: they own this track.

No real incidents to talk about, unless you want to count Adrian Sutil beaching his Spyker in the kittylitter, then digging himself in deeper by trying to power out... he had nigh on a quarter of his rear tires buried by the time he gave up ("Give it a rest, son. You've embarrassed yourself, don't make worse than it already is," said Steve Matchett).

Lewis Hamilton continued to show no fear of any track, repeatedly bringing his McLaren within "a cigarette paper" of the wall on the exit of Turn 13. He almost looked like an IndyCar driver out there, except they don't get as close. Seriously, at one point the shadow that the tire was casting on the wall was nearly as tall as the tire itself... one teeny twitch, one strong heartbeat, and he would have been in the wall, but no. This is Lewis Hamilton, the Next Michael Schumacher, who was the Next Ayrton Senna, and so on and so forth.

So, 3.5 hours of coverage on Saturday, and I'll give you the scoop on P3 and Quals afterwards! Talk to you then!

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June 14, 2007

F1 Live!

That's what SPEED called their three hour meet & greet session with every driver in the F1 paddock today, and y'know what? It was a better event than I thought we'd get. Almost everybody looked like they were happy to be up there, though the Ferrari boys looked a little dour.

And something came out of today's activities that I didn't expect at all: most of the drivers are funny! I now feel much more comfortable with making light of them during F1 UPDATE!, because it sounded like they do the same thing.

An example... Giancarlo Fisichella and Heiki Kovenlianineneninnie were up there being interviewed, and of course the matter of Montreal came up. To refresh your memories, Fisi was blackflagged for running the pit redlight, and Heiki blew an engine, ruined his chassis, and tore his rear wing off.

When asked about the red light event, Fisi gave a lame answer ("I didn't see the light because I was following Massa."), then quipped, "Hey, I'm from Rome, and we're used to ignoring red lights."

Crowd goes wild.

Heiki later said regarding destroying his rear wing: "Well, I'm from Finland..." (cue audience laughter) "...and in Finland, we're used to 'leaning' on the snowbanks. I tried that in Montreal, and the wall, it's a lot harder than a snowbank."

Crowd goes wild.

But far and away, the biggest cheers went to...

SuperAguri.

Yep, SuperSato and Ant were the darlings of the assembled masses. It's NOT just me! Sato showed off his engaging personality, and when asked by an audience member (in jest) "What lap and turn are you going to pass the World Champion?", he responded with a long explanation of the aerodynamic and grip factors involved with the USGP track, and finished up with "...and I'll pass him at the end of a long straight, going into a tight turn." Crowd pandemonium.

Ant got involved, too, explaining in detail how he didn't see what is now known to have been a groundhog, but the papers back in England are calling it a 'beaver', "...which is a lot funnier to us over the pond, so they (the papers)'ll keep calling it that. It really ruined my race, but it seems to have been entertaining enough." It's odd, but Ant almost looks like the prototypical lower-class Brit, and his accent reinforces that (one almost expected him to have a scuff of dirt on his cheek and say "God Bless Us, Everyone."), but he's got quite the wit.

Fun stuff to start off the USGP weekend... but the real work begins Friday morning!

UPDATE: Almost forgot the funniest part of all! The Spyker guys were represented by Christijan Albers and Marcus Winklehock (their test driver). During part of the interview, it was brought up that the Spykers are, basically, the slowest car on the grid, and that Indy has the longest stretch at flat-out in F1 at 22 seconds, and what are you going to do about that? Albers, on the receiving end of this question, then mimed leaning back in a La-Z-Boy and said "wait for someone to pass me so I can get a tow." (cue crowd laughter)

It takes guts for a driver who's in danger of losing his job to do something like that. It's a shame, too, because Albers really is a good driver... his career in DTM (the German Touring Championship) speaks to that, and considering his history of taking nearly undriveable cars (Minardi, Monza, 2005, and his wild excursion during practice leaps to mind) and keeping them in one piece, I suspect that if he was ever dropped into a halfway decent ride, he'd be fine.

Finally, I've been asked by some people to post the video of Ralf Schumacher's close encounter of the Marmot kind in Montreal. I've finally found it on GoogleVideo, so click HERE and take a look... enjoy!

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June 12, 2007

USGP ON TV!

Wowzers! A whole slew of coverage for the US Grand Prix this weekend! It's a F1 fan's dream... set your VCR/TiVo/whatever for these:

THURSDAY, from 11am to 2pm, SPEED brings us their annual USGP Special! In past years, they've had a handful of drivers on stage for interviews. This year, they've promised ALL TWENTY-TWO! Will Hamilton and Alonso be on stage at the same time? If so, will Alonso be carrying a tire iron? Will the Spyker Boys manage to get up the stairs without hurting themselves? Tune in and find out! Replay from 11pm to 2am, too!

FRIDAY brings us a FOUR HOURS of coverage! From 9am to 1030am, we've got coverage of Practice 1. From Noon to 230pm (yes, 2.5 hours!), we get coverage of Practice 2! All of it live, all of it on SPEED!

Later, from 11pm to 1130pm, we get "Inside Grand Prix", brought to you by Allianz. "Allianz: where we make your money work for us." Then we get all four hours of practice replayed from 1130pm to 330pm. ONLY ON SPEED!!!

SATURDAY, from 10am to 130pm, we get live coverage of Practice 3 and Quals!
Say it with me now: ONLY ON SPEED!!! No replay, though, since Speed is also bringing us coverage of the 24 Hours of LeMans...

SUNDAY will bring us the United States Grand Prix, LIVE on FOX! Check your local listings for times!

All times are central. Add one hour for Eastern, subtract two for San Francisco, Vaucaunson's Duck.

Of course, the F1 UPDATE! crew will be watching all of the coverage, though to be fair, some of it will be viewed on tape... we're not going to spend the entire weekend in front of the tube, after all. Just most of it.

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June 11, 2007

Montreal Thoughts

Some thoughts looking back at Montreal...

1) Lewis Hamilton had to win his first race five times over. First at the actual start when he beat back the assault of his teammate and Felipe Massa's Ferrari, then four more times after the safety cars came out. Despite cold tires each time, he never bobbled, never put a wheel wrong... and deserved the win.

2) Fernando Alonso is running scared. I think he's realized his main competetor for the Driver's Championship isn't in a red car, it's in the other 'glare with wheels' on the track. His graceless comment, "(Hamilton's win was) good, but lucky" isn't tactful, but it is telling. In fact, one could easily point out that 'Nando is fortunate to be only 8 points behind his teammate, as he's really been outdriven by Hamilton four time out of the six races.

3) Montreal Marmot Massacre. I wish I had waited until the driver press conferences were finished to post the F1 UPDATE!. How could I have missed out on Ant Davidson's story?

“It is such a shame about the beaver. It had it in for me for sure! I was running in third place at the time, behind the safety car. I was on a clear, one stop strategy and it damaged the front wing. I couldn’t even see it at high speed and I could not understand why suddenly I locked up the front tyres and so I had to come in to the pitlane. The guys were taken by surprise in the garage when I came in, but they were really on it with the race strategy after that, telling me to overtake the safety car to get my lap back and it was a really enjoyable race at the end.”

Yes, that odd shot of a car sitting in the pitlane with his pitcrew nowhere nearby was Davidson's SuperAguri... his unscheduled stop was because he ran over a 'beaver.' By all reports, his car was rather messy when it pulled in...

4) Robert Kubica Update. From 'dead' to 'broken leg' to 'sprained ankle', he's obviously quite lucky... and now, he might very well be running in the USGP! The decision will be made on Thursday, but he's likely to be cleared to race, medically. Mentally, though...? I dunno, I'd be cautious, and it's not like BMW is in danger of being caught for 3rd in the Constructor's Championship anytime soon. Robert, take the race off.

5) Interesting Statistic. Which car had the highest speed through the speed traps on Sunday? (hint: it wasn't McLaren or Ferrari) Answer below... more...

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June 10, 2007

ROBERT KUBICA UPDATE

The Montreal Grand Prix was an outstanding race, but it was marred by the horrendous crash of Robert Kubica. I'll be honest, at first I thought he was dead.

It wasn't that it was a spectacular accident with pieces flying everywhere: as Steven mentions in the comments, those are the BEST kind of crashes, since the disintigration of the car releases energy that otherwise would go into the driver.

The head-first impact and resulting tumble was what scared me the most. The shedding of pieces was great, but it can also be a danger, and it looked to me like Kubica had a piece of wreckage in the cockpit with him (watch what flips over after the hulk turns back over). I didn't even notice that the BMW clipped Scott Speed's parked Toro Rosso before it first hit the wall, removing Kubica's front-right wheel.

After the car came to a halt, the fact that Kubica was completely motionless except for his limp arms falling to the side of the cockpit, making no attempt to pull himself out of the remains of his vehicle, frightened me perhaps more than anything.

As such, I'm thrilled and happy to report that Robert Kubica has suffered just a concussion and a sprained ankle. The titanium bathtub and the HANS device that keeps the driver's head from bashing around in the cockpit did their jobs. I can't imagine that he'll be cleared to drive in the USGP, but we'll be seeing him again this season.

I still can't believe it.

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F1 UPDATE: MONTREAL!

"Well, if practice sessions are anything to go by, Sunday's race should be a doozy!"

-Wonderduck, in the F1 Practice: Montreal! post

No time for introductions, let's get right to the F1 UPDATE!

*WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?: Now THAT'S a race! Where to begin? First and foremost has got to be Robert Kubica's horrendous accident; he was in the process of passing Jarno Trulli coming into turn 7 and was pushed a little too far outside. His car left the track at high speed, got slightly airborne, brushed a barrier, then slammed almost straight-on into a concrete wall, which just demolished his BMW. The remains of the car then ricochetted back across the track, ending up on it's side in the run-off area of turn 8, some 150 yards from where the whole event began. Kubica was motionless in the cockpit and we here at F1 UPDATE! feared the worst, though reports have come in that he only suffered a broken leg.

Then you had three OTHER yellow flags, two cars black-flagged, Takuma Sato passing both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen for position, and more. It all added up to an amazing race... even before you take into account Lewis Hamilton winning his first ever Grand Prix. Put that into the mix, and you have perhaps one of the greatest races of all time!

*SHAKEUP ON THE PODIUM: Hamilton on the podium is no huge news, though his being on the top step is. That Grizzly Nick Heidfeld and Man-Mountain Wurz were 2nd and 3rd is AMAZING news, if only because it means that neither Ferrari or Fernando Alonso got on. In a race full of startling events, these were two of the most surprising.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE: Lewis Hamilton would be a deserving enough person to give this award to... on any other day. For this race, however, we're going to give Heikki Kovalainen the honors. After a simply dreadful pre-race weekend that saw him blow an engine, destroy his suspension, and tear the back off his car, all on seperate incidents, he started today's race from dead last on the grid. He somehow managed to weave his way through all the events going on around him and brought his Renault home in an astonishing fourth place. Honorable mention goes to the aforementioned Lewis Hamilton. He's a rookie who's only been in six F1 races; he's never finished lower than third, and today he gets his first win. Not bad.

*TEAM OF THE RACE: We here at F1 UPDATE! are having a problem with this one. Only three teams had both cars finish, McLaren, SuperAguri and Williams. McLaren doesn't deserve it: they may have had the winner, but Alonso had a miserable day when he should have been on the podium, due in part to the team calling him in to the pits before the pit lane was open, thereby earning him a 10sec penalty. SuperAguri only had one car in the points, and the other would have been a couple laps down under the old rules. So that leaves Williams, with one car on the podium and the other in 10th, as the winners of the TotR for Montreal. Yay.

*MOVE OF THE RACE: No shortage to choose from today, and yet, there was no contest. On lap 68, SuperAguri's Takuma SUPERSato, having dispatched Ralf Schumacher two laps earlier, was all over the back of World Champion Fernando Alonso's McLaren. He had spent the two laps setting Alonso up, looking for an opening. Finally, down the straight he got a nice draft off the McLaren, pulled up close behind, and slingshotted past on the outside, simply powering by... and there was nothing Alonso could do about it. To make matters better, this was for SIXTH PLACE! The cheers from the F1 UPDATE! crew were deafening! To make matters better, earlier in the race SUPERSato had pressured Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen into an error in the hairpin and blown past him as well. For superior passing not once, but TWICE, we MUST give Takuma Sato the Move of the Race.

*MOOOOOOO-OOVE OF THE RACE: In a race full of the spirit of the bovine, one moment stood out above all the rest. On lap 38, Jarno Trulli and Nico Rosberg were side by side going into turn 1, dicing for position. Rosberg got slightly off-track and spun, a manuever that should have collected Trulli as well... but didn't, because Trulli had ALSO lost control and spun at almost the exact same time. In replays, it was like the two of them were pairs figure skaters, so identical were their oscillations. 9.5 from the American judge, and here's your Mooooooo-oove, boys!

*DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE: more...

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