May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day 2009!


I'm going to the Old Home Pond for lunch with Momzerduck, so F1 Update might be delayed.  Because nothing's more important than your mother.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

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May 09, 2009

AVOID ANIMEONDVD.COM LIKE THE PLAGUE

Earlier today, I was looking for a review of the show Shuffle!, and decided to visit animeondvd.com to see what they had to say about it.  I hadn't been there since they were purchased by mania.com, but I didn't think anything about it.

So, I followed a google link to their main page.

Five or six antivirus alerts later, all hell was breaking loose in my computer.  Multiple trojans, backdoor thingies, vundo deposits, and something that prevented me from visiting any of the anti-virus program manufacturers and Microsoft but allegedly wasn't the Conficker worm.  This was at 2pm.

It's now 903pm, and I think I've gotten all of it.  Five or six runs of malwarebyte's Anti-Malware, three of my antivirus program, two of my spyware program, and repeated banging of my head against a wall, everything seems to be back to normal.  Maybe.  Perhaps.

I'm still not sure, to be honest.

But do NOT go to animeondvd.

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F1 Quals: Spain 2009!

There's no question that F1's knockout qualification format is uniformly exciting, but this one was amazing.  Let's take a look at the provisional grid:

Pos Driver Team Q1Q2Q3
1 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 1:20.707 1:20.192 1:20.527
2 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:20.715 1:20.220 1:20.660
3 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1:20.808 1:19.954 1:20.762
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:20.484 1:20.149 1:20.934
5 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:20.689 1:20.007 1:21.049
6 Timo Glockenspiel Toyota 1:20.877 1:20.107 1:21.247
7 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:21.189 1:20.420 1:21.254
8 HWMNBN Renault 1:21.186 1:20.509 1:21.392
9 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:20.745 1:20.256 1:22.558
10 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1:20.931 1:20.408 1:22.685
11 Kazoo Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:20.818 1:20.531
12 Nelson Piquet Jr
Renault 1:21.128 1:20.604
13 Grizzly Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:21.095 1:20.676
14 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:20.991 1:20.805
15 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:21.033 1:21.067
16 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:21.291

17 SeaBass STR-Ferrari 1:21.300

18 Heikki Kovalaininnie McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.675

19 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:21.742

20 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 1:22.204

For the second time in five races, Ferrari screwed up in Q1, their hubris pissing away one of their driver's race.  Kimi Raikkonen was sitting P5 with about five minutes left in Q1 when the team decided that he was a lock to advance.  Two minutes later he was P8.  Another minute, he was P12 and everybody watching knew what was going to happen.  When the session ended he was P16 and eliminated... unnecessarily.  As readers of The Pond know, I'm no fan of the Red Team, but this is just sad.  Farce India might be slow, but they're acting more professionally in a lot of ways than the greatest team in F1 history.

Q2 was the usual speedfest, with a twist.  The previous lap record for the Circuit de Catalunya was set in 2008, by Kimi Raikkonen, at a 1:21.670.  Every car in the session broke that record.

In Q3, it looked like Seb Vettel had the pole wrapped up, nearly a half-second faster than everybody else. Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa both turned in fast laps as the clock hit zero, but couldn't quite match his pace.

But Jensen Button was still on track, though only barely.  Any laps begun before the clock hits zero count, and the best teams try to get their drivers across the line for their final hotlap as late as possible.  Brawn almost held Button in the pits too long when he had stopped for his new tires.  When they released him, they realized that he only had 1:24 to get around.  Four seconds to spare, no problem.  About halfway through his out lap, however, Robert Kubica's BMW was catching up on him.  Button, thinking that Kubica was on a timed lap, slowed down to let him pass.  Kubica had actually finished his last hot lap and was heading to the pits on a fuel-burning run.  His pitcrew yelling in his ears to push hard, Button goosed his car and crossed the line for his final timed lap with less than a second to spare.  He then ripped off a stunning lap, snatching pole from Vettel and throwing a bucket of cold water over the Red Bull pitcrew.

With the fuel loads reported, it turns out that Button is about 5kg lighter than Vettel.  That's not good news for Button, but even worse for the top three is that the Ferrari of Felipe Massa, sitting in 4th, is 5kg heavier than Vettel... and he has KERS. 

Should be an exciting run down to the first turn for sure!  See you here for F1 Update! on Sunday!

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May 08, 2009

F1 Practice: Spain 2009!

So, the Legendary Announce Team assures us that there have been upgrades aplenty to the various cars, but there was only one that was truly visible.  The good burghers at BMW have decided that their nose was the cause of all their problems, so they decided to do something about it.

First, the "old" nose style:

...and now, the new nose style:

Higher and flatter, will this be the difference between backmarker and front row?

Well, in a word, "no."  The BMWs were 16th and 17th in today's second practice, and that's out of 19 (Adrian Sutil never made it on-track, due to a fuel system issue that forced the team to disassemble his car from the air scoop back).

Other than that, Ferrari has brought out a whole new chassis, reportedly 12-15kg lighter than the "old" body.  As tech guru Steve Matchett pointed out, supposedly the Ferrari engineers had designed the F60 to be as light as possible to begin with, which means that they must have started to whittle away at the base structure of the chassis.  That means the body must be weaker than it was, carbon fibre notwithstanding.  This could lead to the chassis body flexing in the turns under g-loading.  This is not optimum.

Unless, of course, the team's designers overengineered the thing, in which case their slow pace is self-inflicted.  Raikkonen, driving the new F60b, ended up 10th.  Massa, in the "old" F60a, wound up 15th, almost a third of a second behind his teammate.

Quals tomorrow... and who knows what tomorrow'll bring?


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May 07, 2009

Inflate-o-duck!

So Momzerduck called me and said, "Son o' mine, me and Ph.Duck need a new television.  Can you help us understand what we'll be looking at?"  I, of course said "you betcha!"  So off we went to the Big Blue Box to take a gander (duck pun) and what's out there.

After being wowed by a 26" Toshiba LCD, she took me out to eat.  The dinner place we went to had a balloon artist making things for the kiddies... and balloon flowers for all the mothers.  This guy was pretty good, and after presenting Momzerduck with a flower he asked me what I'd like. 

Well, of course there was only one choice:

May I introduce Inflate-o-duck!  And no saying he looks like a pelican.  He's a duck, and durned proud of it!

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May 06, 2009

The View


Sometimes after a bad day at the Duck U. Bookstore, I'll just stand on Pond Central's balcony and stare at the field out there.  Usually the view will remind me that, all things considered, things are basically okay.  Sometimes the view will just be a slightly overgrown field with some trees in it.

And then you get today.  I've been... grumpy... for the past few days, and the weather was making my knee hurt like the dickens.  Of course, when I left the Bookstore the rain was bucketing down, and my umbrella proved unworthy of the trust I placed in it.  By the time I got into the Duckmobile, I was soaked from my waist down, and my back was pretty wet, too.  Of course the windows fogged over almost instantly so I wound up driving home with the windows cracked open... and getting drenched in the process.

Then I got home and realized I had left the balcony door open, meaning it had rained into Pond Central.  Great, just friggin' great.  I stepped outside, about ready to pitch a splitfingered fit, and stopped dead in my tracks.  Then scrambled around, getting the camera.  By that time, though, the trio of Devilduckies had gotten outside and... well, you see the results.

Still grumpy, but sometimes nature hands you a view to remember... and duckiebutts help, too.

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May 04, 2009

F1 On Speed!: Spain 2009!

With the Grand Prix of Spain, the F1 Circus returns home in a sense.  All of the teams have their bases in either England or Europe, and Spain begins the European leg of the 'world tour', so to speak.  In fact, most teams consider the first race in Europe to be the real start of the F1 season.

Look for a lot of new modifications to appear on the cars during Friday practice.  Teams have been working on them for weeks, but instead of lugging them halfway around the world, they've waited until they've gotten home to bring them to light.  Be it a new diffuser, a revised front wing, or something as simple as a different livery, they'll always start to appear in Europe.  Of course, if the teams thought it'd make a huge difference, they'd've brought them out much earlier (winning is more important than costs in F1), but that's the way things work sometimes: you never know for sure what'll make a car a winner... or a dog.

Let's take a look at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona ("Que?"):

It's a bumpy track, the surface is abrasive, a lot of high-speed corners at one end and slow bends at the other... and the drivers know the place like the back of their hands, since a lot of offseason testing is done here.  As is usual, the best place to pass is turn 1, followed closely by turn 10, but a brave driver should be able to force the issue anywhere but turns 3 and 16... three is too long to be able to keep the car in the groove for a pass, and sixteen too important (blow the turn even a little bit and you'll ruin your run down the straight... and your whole next lap).  It's basically a medium-to-low downforce track... if your car has good mechanical grip on the chassis, you go low downforce for that straightaway.  If you don't have good grip normally, you crank on the wing for the tight twisty bits and hope it doesn't hurt you too badly down the straight.

This is HWMNBN's home track, for what that's worth, so expect to see a lot of him on the TV this weekend... even if he's 18th and three laps down, he says hopefully.

And at least here in the US, if he's on TV, he'll be on SPEED, where the Legendary Announce Team will be bringing us their usual sterling coverage, beginning with LIVE coverage of Friday's Second Practice from 7am to 840amSaturday brings us plausibly LIVE coverage of Quals from 7am to 830am.  Will BrawnGP continue their polesitting domination, or will the new fiddlybits on their rivals make enough of a difference to wrest the top of the grid away from the newbies?

Finally, Sunday dawns bright with the Grand Prix of Spain live from 630am to 9am.  There'll be a replay from 1230pm to 3pm as well, if you forget to set the VCR or whatever it is the kids use these days.

Of course, F1 Update!'ll be here with all the gnus you can use!  See you then...

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May 01, 2009

That Terrible Weekend.

It was the San Marino Grand Prix, 1994. 

First, it was rookie Rubens Barrichello, the protoge of Ayrton Senna, the best F1 racer at the time. Hitting the curb in the Variante Bassa at around 180mph, Barrichello's car was launched nearly over the tire barrier and into the catchfence.  His car was then ejected from the fence and tumbled two or three times, coming to rest upside down. 

He had suffered a broken nose and arm, and was knocked out.  His tongue blocked his windpipe, and only quick action by the track workers kept him from death.

On Saturday during qualifying, Roland Ratzenberger, in his first year as a F1 driver (though experienced in LeMans-style racing) ran over a curb in the Acque Minerali chicane.  Unbeknownst to him, his front wing was probably damaged.  A lap later, he could not make it through the Villenueve kink and slammed into a concrete barrier nearly head-on at 200mph. 

While the cockpit area was undamaged, the force of the impact caused a basal skull fracture (the same type of injury that killed Dale Earnhart Sr), killing him instantly.

Amazingly, on Sunday the race went on.  When the lights went out, JJ Lehto's Benneton car stalled on the grid and was run into from behind by an accelerating Pedro Lamy, bringing out the safety car.  For the next few laps, the field circled behind it, tires cooling and losing grip.  The safety car went off, and two laps later, came another accident.

Ayrton Senna left the track at Tambourello, and crashed into an unprotected concrete wall at around 130mph.  The right side of the car hit the wall at a shallow angle, breaking the suspension and shearing off the tires.  It was not a devastating accident by any means.  However, the front right wheel was launched into the cockpit, then high into the air.  The tire had slammed into Senna's helmet, shoving his head back against the headrest with such force that he suffered severe skull fractures.  In addition, a piece of the suspension still attached to the wheel punched through Senna's visor just above his right eye.  Either injury would have been fatal on their own.

In the cockpit of Senna's car was an Austrian flag, which he had planned to fly after the race in tribute to Roland Ratzenberger.

The day was April 30th, 1994.  Fifteen years ago.

As a result of that terrible weekend, many now-common safety rules were instituted by Formula 1.  The predecessor of today's HANS device.  Higher sills on the cockpits to prevent tires from striking the drivers.  Wheel tethers.  Improved crash barriers (and no more exposed concrete walls).  Redesigned tracks to lower speeds.  Higher crash tolerances for the cars.

No Formula 1 driver has died during a race weekend since.

Senna was given a state funeral in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and three days of mourning were declared.  The majority of the F1 community was in attendance, along with a half-million Brazillians. 

Max Mosely, the president of the FIA, was not.  Instead, he attended the funeral for Roland Ratzenberger two days later.  In an interview 10 years after, he said one of the few genuinely good things I've ever heard him say: "I went to his funeral because everyone went to Senna's. I thought it was important that somebody went to his."

Rubens Barrichello has since set the record for career starts in Formula 1.  He has no memory of his accident.

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I Much Prefer "PerVECT," thank you very much

...and yes, there will be a review.

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