November 29, 2010

The Greatest Turn In Motorsport

That's quite the label, isn't it?  "The Greatest Turn In Motorsport."  If you want to start an argument amongst gearheads and racing fans, that's a good way to do it (another is "{insert name here} is the best driver of all time.").

There's a lot of famous bends out there.  The Dunlop Curve at the Circuit de la Sarthe, home of the 24 Hours of LeMans.  The Lowes Hairpin at Monaco.  The Corkscrew at Laguna Seca.  The tri-oval at Daytona.  130R at Suzuka.  Parabolica at Monza.  The Kink at Road America.  The Karussell at the Nurburgring.  The list goes on and on.  But only one can be the greatest and in this duck's mind, there can be no other than Spa-Francorchamps' Eau Rouge.

Why?  That's simple... here's what it looks like from the bottom in 1997:

...and here's what it looks like from near the top today:

About 105 feet of elevation change.  Now imagine taking it at 160 mph, knowing that there's another (blind) curve waiting for you just over the hill.  While it's become a little bit easier for F1 cars to take Eau Rouge flat-out these days, thanks to high downforce and grippy tires, one still needs nerves of steel and attachments of brass to stick with it.  Most F1 drivers will praise it to the heavens, and that's good enough for me.

But visually Eau Rouge is a spectacle one doesn't get to see much anymore: part hillclimb, part turn.  Only the Corkscrew on the above list has any elevation change, and while it is steep, it's also short... there's no sense of the grandiose about it.  Eau Rouge?  If it could walk, it would swagger.

So that's my call for the greatest turn in motorsports.  What's yours?

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Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha the Movie 1st

Some time ago, there was a general sense of excitement around The Pond when it was announced that there was to be a Nanoha movie.  Screened in Japan last January, it came out on Blu-Ray just recently, and it took very little time at all for it to be translated and released torrentially.

So how is it?


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November 27, 2010

A Miya Is Fine Too

That is a weapons-grade chortle, no two ways about it.

-Amagami SS, ep01

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November 26, 2010

Darth Bernie Mugged

F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone was mugged Wednesday outside the offices of Formula One Holdings, in central London.  The 80-year-old and Fabiana, his Brazilian lawyer-girlfriend (above left) were taken for jewelery and watches to the tune of  £200,000.  Darth Bernie suffered a minor head wound in the assault, which occurred mere weeks after he claimed that the attempted mugging of Jenson Button in Brazil was faked and the streets of London were more dangerous. 

"You have to remember we have a lot of problems in England, Oxford Street and places, and in New York people get mugged," Darth Bernie said of the Brazil incident.  "They look for victims, they look for anyone that looks like a soft touch and not too bright.  The people that look a bit soft and simple, they will always have a go at."

Ecclestone was treated and released from a local hospital, while his girlfriend was reportedly shaken by the whole event.  Police are looking for the four men that attacked them, as well as a getaway driver.  As of Friday, no arrests have been made and no identification has been forthcoming.  The Pond is happy to suggest some potential culprits:

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November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010, Pt2


Every member of The Pond's Flock hopes you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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Thanksgiving 2010, Pt1

Every duckie loves themselves some pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving!

Pt2 will be coming after dinner today; look forward to it!

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November 23, 2010

The Misfit Battleships

When one thinks of battleships, what leaps to mind?  The gleaming Iowas, usually.  Others would think of the hulking Yamato-class, still the largest battlewagons ever built.  Or perhaps the menacing Bismarck and Tirpitz, pride of the Kriegsmarine would hold primacy over all.  If you have a sense of history, classes like the Nevada/Pennsylvania, with their cage masts and one of which, the Arizona, is now one of the US military's most hallowed sites.  Or the first of them all, the Dreadnought.

And then there's me.  I'm a weirdo, because my favorite battleship class is one that few people know or (historically) care about.  You see, I'm a fan of the Nelsons. 

I can hear you now: "The whichnow?"  These:

The sharper-eyed amongst you have already noticed the obvious difference.


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November 22, 2010

"If You Don't Like The Weather...

...just wait a few minutes, it'll change," is a saying you hear a lot here in Illinois.  Strangely enough, there's often a grain of truth to sayings like that. The day started with oodles of rain, but by the time I got to Duck U., it was bright and sunny if a little windy.  Around 245pm, I stepped out of the Duck U Bookstore and... it was around 70 degrees, dark, with heavy clouds being blown across the sky at high speeds, and near constant thunder that actually made me laugh out loud.  It sounded exactly like a "thundersheet," or a big sheet of aluminum that stagehands flex for thunder sound-effects.  Thinking nothing of it, I went back into the Bookstore.

A few minutes later, I heard a strange warbling sound, one that I've only heard on the second Tuesday of each month.  Rubbawhat?  Then my e-mail chimed... it was Duck U Security, saying get to the basement Auntie Em, it's a twister!  And lo, it was:

It touched down in the vicinity of the intersection Riverside and Perryville, two fairly major streets about five miles Northeast of Duck U, and headed Northeast towards the nearby state park... and a little village named Caledonia.  In Caledonia there was substantial damage, though no serious injuries at all.  Which is a relief, because when it touched down there was a School Bus right nearby.

The bus was thrown off the road and knocked over; five or six (reports vary) children and the bus driver suffered minor injuries, but nothing more. 

At one point, somewhere north of 46000 people were without power though as of 630pm that number had dropped to around 10000.  Eyewitnesses report something like four high-voltage towers were ruined, and one power substation reportedly has significant damage so it might be a while before those people see electricity again.  The waterfowl in the foreground had nothing to do with the damage, I can assure you. 

Just to assuage any fears anybody may have, Duck U is fine, completely unharmed.  The sirens went off all over Duckford.  I never even went to the basement of the building the Bookstore is in, preferring instead to follow the weather radars on computers in Admissions.  It was pretty clear from the looping screens that we had nothing to worry about. 

"If you don't like the weather, just wait a few minutes... it'll change."  Sometimes though, it doesn't change to something good...

UPDATE:  Here's video of the tornado!

Near as I can tell, this was taken from one of the gazillion subdivisions springing up all over that side of town.  We actually got quite lucky; if it touched down about two miles to the southwest, it would have smacked a rather populated part of the Duckford metroplex.  The damage track is supposedly a half-mile wide... fairly substantial.

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November 21, 2010

Nuppiyo Returns To Ducks In Anime!

-Fortune Arterial, ep05
Of course, it isn't really Nuppiyo at all... just a human in a costume.

Okay, a vampire in a costume.  A vampire with balance issues in a Nuppiyo costume.  At the end of a three-legged race.  But, hey!  Nuppiyo!

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November 20, 2010

F1 Update!: 2010 Awards

Now that the 2010 season has been over a couple of weeks, it's time to take a look at the best and worst events of the year!  THIS is your F1 Update! 2010 Awards post!

*RACE OF THE YEAR:  Sometimes a race is made great by the spectacle it provides, like the inaugural Korean Grand Prix.  But this award should be given because of the actual racing involved, and on that grounds there was no better, no more exciting, race than the 2010 Grand Prix of Turkey.  For forty laps Mark Webber, Seb Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were locked in a duel that saw the four of them separated by no more than a second.  None of them could break away, but likewise neither could they close too much on their rivals,  This resulted in a remarkably tense race that made even experienced fans like those of us here at F1U! wonder just who would crack first: the young hotshot, the older and wiser teammate, or the two world champions?  When it turned out to be the young hotshot, nobody was overly surprised, but when he took out his wiser teammate in the process, the race took the leap from "pretty darn good" to "best of the year."  A repudiation of the Red Bull incident a few laps later as the McLaren teammates showed how to race each other without scattering carbon fiber all over the place was just the icing on the cake.  Want to show someone one race from 2010?  This should be it.  An honorable mention should go to the Chinese Grand Prix for reasons that'll become clear later on.

*MOVE OF THE YEAR:  This award is open to any pass for any position during any race of the 2010 season, excluding any event on Lap 1.  It doesn't have to have any dramatic implications, like for the lead or to win the Driver's Championship or anything like that: a Lotus passing a Virgin for 19th is just as eligible as a Ferrari passing a McLaren for 1st.  This year's MotY goes to Lewis Hamilton for his fantastic pass of both Mark Webber and Adrian Sutil at the Grand Prix of China.  The three drivers came down the back straight more or less evenly matched, weaving to defend their positions or get into clean air as they went.

As they approached the turn, Webber locked up slightly and went outside, Sutil took the normal line in the normal way, but Hamilton slowed late and hard, going to the inside of both.

He then got on the gas with more force than he really should have been capable of and powered by.

That Webber then tried to follow Hamilton past Sutil but was denied by the Force India driver in the next turn just made it all the better.  Honorable mention goes to Rubens Barrichello's pass of Slappy Schumacher at Hungary, made all the more impressive as Slappy was trying to murder the Brazilian at the time.

*MOOOOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE YEAR:  Everybody makes mistakes in racing.  It just comes with the territory.  When one of the best drivers or teams in the world does it in front of an estimated 600 million viewers, it gets magnified.  When it is particularly egregious, it goes from a fact of life to something more special... it becomes a "Mooooooooo-ooove."  The MooootY therefore needs to be more than just something dumb.  It needs to be epically stupid, above and beyond the merely ridiculous.  Fortunately for us there were three brand new teams of varying quality in the field this year, and one of them provided us with what may be the greatest Moooooooo-ooove of all time.  Fittingly, it too came at the Grand Prix of China.  The cars were lined up on the grid, surrounded by mechanics doing last minute adjustments before the recon lap.  The humans left, and the cars rolled off... all but one.  As we stated back then, it's not uncommon for cars to stall on the grid, but the reason Timo Glockenspiel's Virgin wasn't moving was something much, much stupider.

The team had left it jacked up, like Detroit street punks had been interrupted in the midst of stealing the wheels off the VR-1.  To this day an adequate explanation has yet to be forthcoming.

*CRASH OF THE YEAR:  Again, this category rules out incidents on the first lap (unless they're really really cool because, hey, cool crash!), but even with that restriction there were a surprising number of violent wrecks that qualified, like the Red Bull Incident at Turkey, the Vettel/Button accident at Spa, the Webber/Rosberg crash at Korea (is anybody seeing a theme here?), but none of these holds a candle to the winner of the CotY.  But first, an honorable mention to Lotus's Jarno Trulli and HRT's Karun Chandhok, for their low-speed wreck at the Grand Prix of Monaco.

As impressive as that is, and the camera shot from Chandhok's T-bar was impressive to say the least, it's a distant second to the "winner" of CotY.  Of course, there was never any doubt on this one: Mark Webber's creation of Red Bull Airlines at the European Grand Prix @ Valencia

Not the sort of view one expects to see from a F1 car...
That Webber almost immediately jumped out of the car, obviously unhurt, once it stopped bouncing was one of the greatest reliefs we here at F1U! had ever experienced. 

*DRIVE OF THE YEAR:  This award goes to the driver who puts in an incredible performance over the course of a single race.  This year, there is nobody who deserves it as much as Ferrari's HWMNBN for his run at the Grand Prix of Malaysia.  On the formation lap before the race had even begun, he had a little problem with his clutch: it didn't work.  For the entire race, he had to shift by stamping on the accelerator and holding the downshift paddle, hoping that the gearbox would eventually find a lower ratio.  Mind you, he did all of this while braking at the same time, usually a sure recipe for disaster as F1 cars tend not to like such things while cornering.  That he managed to get as high as eighth, setting fast lap of the race twice along the way, and dueling with Jenson Button for seventh, is nothing short of miraculous.  It actually came as quite the sad surprise, then, when his engine finally let go on him with two laps remaining.  We actually felt badly for HWMNBN, an emotion we never expected to feel towards the Spaniard.

*FAVORITE MOMENT OF THE YEAR:  Also from the European Grand Prix @ Valencia, we saw a young driver become a folk hero over the course of some 40 laps.  Kamui Kobayashi was a rookie who had showed that he had no fear during the last two races of the 2009 season, but was off to something of a lackluster start with Sauber in 2010... until Mark Webber's attempt at low earth orbit.  To steal from the F1U! for that race:
"When the Safety Car caused by Webber's crash was called out, he stayed out on track, jumping from the back of the pack all the way to third.  Of course, he'd still need to pit to change his tires, but who was to say there wouldn't be another Safety Car?  When the safety car period ended, Kobayashi suddenly became Gandalf the Grey in the Mines of Moria, bellowing 'YOU SHALL NOT PASS!' at the silver, blue and yellow Balrogs that were Jensen Button, Rubens Barrichello and Robert Kubica.  For thirty-nine laps!  It was only when he was dragged into the fiery pits on Lap 53 for his mandatory tire change that he relinquished third place... but he would re-emerge as Gandalf the White, in 9th place but on brand new soft tires with three laps to go.  He emerged from the pits reborn on fresh soft tires while everybody ahead of him were on well-used rubber.  Two cars, the Ferrari of HWMNBN and the Toro Rosso of Seb Buemi, were within striking distance.  Seemingly from the moment he rejoined the race, he was all over the back of the former World Champion, hassling him in every turn to the point that the Spaniard, who had been trying to overpower the Toro Rosso, had to let him off the hook and drive defensively.  The Ferrari just couldn't cope with the Sauber, however, and in Turn 20 of the penultimate lap Kobayashi did everything right and slipped by HWMNBN with no fuss whatsoever.  He then set his sights on the Toro Rosso, some five or six lengths ahead.  The chase would prove to take the entire lap, with the Sauber slowly reeling Buemi in.  Then, finally, going into the final turn, Kobayashi came from three or four car lengths back, seemingly without touching his brakes, leaped to the inside of Buemi and rolled past in a daring and bold move."
It was the sort of performance that nobody expected from the rookie in a mediocre car, and easily became our favorite moment of the season.

*DRIVER OF THE YEAR:  We suppose that we need to give this to Seb Vettel.  After all, he won five races, took pole 10 times, and won the Driver's Championship.  He made some awfully stupid mistakes along the way though, enough to make this difficult to swallow.  In our hearts, we think HWMNBN should be given the trophy... but we're giving it to Vettel.

*TEAM OF THE YEAR:  No question about this one: Red Bull.  Far and away the best car on track all year, 15 pole positions, and both the Driver's and, more importantly, Constructor's Championships.  That the strife between their two drivers didn't cause the team to disintegrate, despite it partially being caused by the team itself, just makes it all the sweeter.  For a team only in its sixth year in the sport (assuming you don't count the time as Jaguar) boggles the mind.  Adrian Newey, the car designer and chief aerodynamics engineer, truly is a miracle worker.

And so the 2010 F1 season goes into the record books as perhaps the best of all time.  We're glad to have had you along for the ride for all 19 races, and look forward to being there for all 20 in 2011!  See you when the teams start bringing out their cars! 

...and you thought we'd never do one of these.

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November 19, 2010

Dogs Are Stupid, But At Least These Are Funny Too.

I don't usually do this sort of thing, but if you want to laugh until your spleen threatens to rip free from your sternum, go and read this post over at Hyperbole And A Half.  (via)

When I was growing up, we had a dog with the embarrassing name of Dribbles.  You can guess why Dribbles had that name (hint: it has nothing to do with basketball).  Dribbles looked like a cross betwixt a weinerdog and a German Shepherd... and the weinerdog had the dominant genes.  If she was a foot tall at the top of her head, she was wearing stilts.  Unfortunately for her dignity, she looked overweight at all times, even if she was normal size.  Imagine a football with tiny legs and you've got the right idea. 

Dribbles' idea of fetch was to have me throw a stick, she'd go running after it... and just keep going, as if the entire concept of "stick" would get shaken out of her skull once she began her sprint.  Ever seen a street car designed to dragrace down the quarter-mile accelerate off the line?  The rear end drops, the car gets light on the front tires, and if the engine is powerful enough it stays in a nose-high attitude all the way down... yeah, that was Dribbles trying to run. 

She particularly loved to run after a Frisbee.  On those rare occasions that she'd actually pick it up and bring it back, she'd start running until it dug into the ground.  At that point, one of two things would happen:
1) she'd go arse over teakettle, pinwheeling sadly.
2) she'd let go of the disc, run over it and THEN go arse over teakettle.

Dribbles was also an ill-tempered beast.  She'd growl at me at any time, for any reason.  Approaching the couch?  Grrrrr.  Walking away from the couch?  Grrrrrr.  Offering her some food?  Grrrrrr.  And on and on.  Then she broke a leg, got arthritis, and would growl at ANYTHING, just because she could.  It was pretty sad, actually, but after it was hard to blame her considering that the cast she wore was probably heavier than she was.

When she passed away, maybe 20 years ago, that was enough dogs in my life.

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November 17, 2010

Hey, Everybody, It's Music Time!

So on a whim this evening I told my media player to choose songs at random.  The first 10 to come up were such an interesting mix of styles that I was inspired to write it up as a post, which is what you're reading now.  Click below to hear what I'm talking about.


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November 16, 2010

Random Anime Picture(s) #58: Continue? (Y/N)

-Amagami SS, ep16
She's welcoming you with open arms, how sweet!


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November 15, 2010


Abu Dhabi:

Lap 1, Vitantonio (Unemployed) Liuzzi and Slappy (Slappy) Schumacher come together.

Post-Race, HWMNBN (right) shows his true colors by berating Vitaly Petrov for not letting him by.  You want to know why the Ferrari driver is called "He Who Must Not Be Named" here on The Pond?  That's it, right there.

Petrov reacts by holding his hands up in a "what did you expect?" motion, which is better than what I'd do.

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November 14, 2010

F1 Update!: Abu Dhabi 2010

The past week has seen fans all around the world trying to figure out who would, at the end of the race, be the World Driver's Champion.  After Qualifying, the wondering got louder and louder.  But today all the questions would be answered, for today was the last race of the season and four men were still in the running for the Championship.  Would it be the Spanish matador in his red car?  Would it be one of the two Bulls, one old veteran, one young hotheaded charger?  Or would it be the swashbuckling longshot and his flashing silver rapier?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2010 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi!

*PRERACE:  There was no question that the four men still in the running for the Championship and their teams were feeling the pressure.  As HWMNBN brought his car up to the grid, his mechanics swarmed around to push him into his slot, forming a phalanx of bodies and flying elbows to prevent anybody from accidentally touching the car.  They even shoved the Legendary Announce Team's gridwalker out of the way.  The Spaniard got out of the car and disappeared from the grid, not to be seen again until just before the parade lap.  Polesitter Seb Vettel, driving for Red Bull, did the same instead of hanging out by the track wall as he usually does.  McLaren's Lewis Hamilton got to his slot and stayed in the car with his helmet on the entire time.  Only Australian Mark Webber stayed available to the pointing cameras and microphones, but he looked even more drawn and wan than he normally does.  When the LAT's gridwalker got an interview with the man in second place in the Championship, Webber actually sounded depressed.  But those not directly involved in the high-level fight were somewhat more relaxed; one Sauber mechanic was seen wearing a bushy wig, while the Mercedes braintrust was joking and laughing with nearby dignitaries.  But eventually the grid cleared and the cars rolled off onto the parade lap.  And then, at last, the time had come.

*LIGHTS OUT:  When the five red lights were extinguished, it looked very much like all the frontrunners had clean getaways.  However one driver, McLaren's Jenson Button, had a great start and jumped ahead of HWMNBN for fourth place going into Turn 1.  Just ahead of them, Hamilton and Vettel dueled going into the first turn, but the Red Bull held off the McLaren and surprisingly began to pull away.  The rest of the Thundering Herd made it through the always dangerous beginning turn and everybody breathed a sigh of relief.  Until Slappy Schumacher, making his first visit to the Yas Marina Circuit, got on the gas a little too early coming out of Turn 5 and wound up stopped and facing the wrong way with more than half of the field staring him in the face at 130mph.  The first few drivers managed to avoid the stopped Mercedes, but Vitantonio Liuzzi, sandwiched by racers on either side of him, had nowhere to go.

The Force India ran directly up the nose of Slappy's Mercedes, Liuzzi's front wing aimed directly at the head of the German.  In slow-motion, you can see Schumacher ducking down as low as he could and the left element of the wing pass just over the top of his helmet.  The Force India ended up stopped on top of the Mercedes, and the Safety Car was called out almost immediately.  While the Mercedes pitwall was visibly pale, neither driver was hurt and they were seen minutes later laughing and patting each other on the back.

*SAFETY CAR:  The field trundled around for five laps as the debris was broomed off the track.  Six cars, Nico Rosberg's Mercedes the highest in the order amongst them, took advantage of the Safety Car to change from the soft to the hard tires.  While that felt early, none of the drivers had anything to lose.  As the restart approached, Lewis Hamilton did everything he could to stay close to Seb Vettel, not wanting him to get a jump when the Safety Car left the track.  Unfortunately, he failed badly as he nearly passed the leader two turns too early and had to slam on the brakes.  At that point, the Red Bull driver jumped on the gas and left the McLaren wallowing off-track. 

*RACING AGAIN:  Strung out behind the Safety Car, the field ran peacefully for a few laps.  Then Championship contender Mark Webber swung a little too wide coming out of a turn and brushed the armco with his back-right tire.

While it looked dramatic, there didn't seem to be any obvious damage immediately.  Four laps later, on Lap 12, the Aussie called into the pit lane: "I'm losing the right rear."  He made it in and out of the pits cleanly, but rejoined the race in 16th place, just behind NKOTT.  Although he had to get past the Toro Rosso driver as fast as possible, for one entire lap he just couldn't do it, losing time on track in the process.  Webber's stop seemed to pull the cork for the rest of the field, many of whom made their stops over the next couple of laps.  When HWMNBN came in on Lap 16, Ferrari got him back out blisteringly fast and he rejoined in 12th, about a second ahead of Mark Webber.  That was a little less than the amount of time Webber lost on his one lap stuck behind the Toro Rosso.  At that point, the Aussie made a desultory charge at the red car, failed, and dropped back, never to be a threat again.  Hamilton pitted on Lap 24.  Vettel came in on the next lap, and his pit crew got him back out in 3.5 seconds.  This was hugely important as the young German came out just barely ahead of Gandalf Kobayashi and Robert Kubica, both obviously running long, and both nearly impossible to pass.  Gandalf tried very hard to get past the Red Bull but couldn't manage it, losing a place to the Polish driver in the process.  Farther back in the field, HWMNBN was also tangling with a Renault driver, in his case Vitaly Petrov.  As desperately as he needed to get past the yellow car, the Ferrari pilot just couldn't seem to make it happen.  For lap after lap he'd get close, but for lap after lap he would fail to get close enough.  Indeed, he would try so hard that he'd throw the car off-track, letting Webber close up behind him.  But not enough, never enough.

*STRESS RELIEF:  On Lap 32, Hamilton's radio crackled to life.  "My left front tire is bad, I need to pit."  The reply from the pit wall was restrained, but could be boiled down to three words: "Aw, hell no!"  The F1U! team just sort of fell about the place with laughter.

*FINALLY:  On Lap 48 of 55 the last of the long-runners, Adrian Sutil, came into the pits.  The standings at this point were Vettel, Hamilton, Button, Rosberg, Kubica, Petrov, HWMNBN, Webber.  The Ferrari driver's job was clear: if he wanted to win the Driver's Championship, he needed to pass three cars in seven laps.  The magnitude of this task was clear: Rosberg was nearly 10 seconds ahead, and not only did HWMNBN still have to get past Petrov, he had to get past the other Renault driver as well.  THEN he'd have to pass the Mercedes driver to boot.  There was no chance of that happening, and seven laps later Vettel swept across the finish line, 10.1 seconds ahead of 2008 Driver's Champion Lewis Hamilton, who was less than a second ahead of 2009 Driver's Champion Jenson Button.  With that, the Red Bull driver became the youngest F1 Driver's Champion ever. 

*STANDINGS AND NOTES:  Vettel had ended up with 256 points, followed by HWMNBN's 252.  Webber was third with 242, and the longshot Hamilton, who drove a fine race, finished in fourth with 240.  Amazingly, the only time the Red Bull driver led the Championship standings the entire year was today.  After the race was over and his crew had told him that he had won the championship, Vettel obviously didn't know how to react.  One second, he was obviously crying and choked with emotion, the next he'd be screaming at the top of his lungs.  During the podium ceremony, you could see his face go from tears to exhilaration back to tears in the course of a handful of seconds.  It turns out that his race engineer would not tell him where he stood in the Driver's Championship until the final lap had begun.  After the race, HWMNBN looked stunned, like he wasn't entirely sure how it all got away.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  While Vettel drove a flawless race under a lot of pressure, he did it from the front and, other than the first turn and the Safety Car restart, never had to worry overmuch about being passed.  While he (obviously!) deserves the DotR, we here at F1U! are instead going to give it to someone farther down in the field.  Vitaly Petrov has had an up-and-down rookie season, one race showing some talent, the next looking like the second coming of "Fast" Yuji Ide.  Today however, he had a desperate HWMNBN all over his gearbox for nearly 30 laps, and not only did the Russian not flinch, he drove better than the two-time world champion, despite having the lesser car.  There surely was no reason for him to pull aside for the Spaniard, as some think he should have done, for it was a points-bearing position.  He fought with HWMNBN, showed that he can go toe-to-toe with the best, and in the process may have earned himself a seat with a decent team next year.  Good job, that.  Vettel probably doesn't mind not getting the award, all things considered.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  McLaren.  Two podium positions and second in the constructor's championship?  All in all, that's a pretty good day, and a lot better than that of Red Bull (1- , Mercedes (4-dnf) or Ferrari (7-10).  They nearly did everything right.

*MOVE OF THE RACE and MOOOOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE RACE:  For once, it's impossible to give either of these awards.  There were no passes worth speaking about, except for Button's pass of HWMNBN off the start, but we don't give MotR honors for anything on the first lap.  Conversely, nobody drove like a cow today.  While Slappy Schumacher didn't exactly cover himself with glory with his groundloop on Lap 1, F1 cars are notoriously difficult to drive, and it's not impossible that his teammate Nico Rosberg gave him a light touch; video is inconclusive.  Likewise, Liuzzi is not to blame in that accident; he had nowhere to go and his reaction on the brakes may have saved Slappy's life.  So neither award goes out today.  Pity, that.



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November 13, 2010

You Don't Mess With The Ducks In Anime

-Fortune Arterial, ep03

That Nuppiyo, he's a baaaaad mother-(shut yo mouth!)

Hey, I'm just talkin' 'bout Nuppiyo (we can dig it!)

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F1 Quals: Abu Dhabi 2010

So here we are at the final Quals session of the 2010 F1 season, and undoubtedly the the most important of the year.  Four men, all needing the pole to give them the best possible shot at winning the Driver's Championship, but only one can do it.  Can McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, needing a win and a miracle, claim the pole that he needs so desperately?  Could Red Bull's Seb Vettel join the six others who have claimed 10 poles in a season... all of whom went on to win the Driver's Championship?  Would it be Mark Webber, the Red Bull driver who led the Championship until a horrible mistake at Korea snatched it from him?  Or did Ferrari's HWMNBN, the points leader in the Championship, stamp his authority over Sunday's race early?  Let's take a look at the provisional grid for Sunday's 2010 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi:

Pos Driver Team Q1Q2Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:40.318 1:39.874 1:39.394
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:40.335 1:40.119 1:39.425
3 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:40.170 1:40.311 1:39.792
4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:40.877 1:40.014 1:39.823
5 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:40.690 1:40.074 1:39.925
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:40.942 1:40.323 1:40.202
7 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:40.904 1:40.476 1:40.203
8 Slappy Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:41.222 1:40.452 1:40.516
9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:40.231 1:40.060 1:40.589
10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:41.018 1:40.658 1:40.901
11 Robert Kubica Renault 1:41.336 1:40.780
12 Gandalf Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:41.045 1:40.783
13 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:41.473 1:40.914
14 Grizzly Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:41.409 1:41.113
15 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:41.015 1:41.418
16 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:41.681 1:41.642
17 NKOTT STR-Ferrari 1:41.707 1:41.738
18 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:41.824

19 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:43.516

20 Heikki Kovalaineninnie Lotus-Cosworth 1:43.712

21 Timo Glockenspiel Virgin-Cosworth 1:44.095

22 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:44.510

23 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:45.085

24 Zoroastrian Klien HRT-Cosworth 1:45.296

All of the men in the first three slots have reason to be happy.  Vettel, obviously because he's on pole.  Hamilton because he now has a legit shot at winning the race, and HWMNBN because he didn't need much more than to be ahead of at least one Red Bull to have an excellent chance to win his third Driver's Championship.  Only Mark Webber, stranded down in fifth, should be feeling the grim hand of death on his championship hopes.

But there's reason for concern amongst those three as well.  Vettel because the McLarens clearly are for real around this fast track, and he's got one of them right next door.  Hamilton because he needs to win and with Vettel ahead of him, he's got to beat perhaps the best car/driver combination in motorsports right now.  HWMNBN's problems stem from knowing that he needs to finish second to make the whole matter moot, but he's surrounded by cars that can eat his lunch.  Conversely, Webber can take heart from... um... hang on... er... there must be a reason here somewhere.

Of course, the race is 55 laps long and anything could happen in that time.  As one would expect however, Webber isn't conceding anything: "The championship hasn’t been decided today but it would have been nice to be further up. You could be more confident but at the end of the day we’re still in the hunt, that’s the main thing." 

And nobody really knows what Vettel will do if he's leading late in the race with his teammate right behind him and HWMNBN in third.  In that circumstance, nothing the young German could do would win him the championship... but if Webber got past for the win, he'd win it.  In any other team in the pit lane, there'd be no question what would happen: the team would tell Vettel to let the Australian by.  Red Bull on the other hand is leaving it in the hands of their drivers... and there's surely some unhappiness between them. 

It's surely shaping up to be a tension-packed race on Sunday, and of course the F1U! crew will be all over it... just as soon as they wake up.  See you then and there!

Lewis Hamilton, about to kill a very short cameraman in Q3

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November 12, 2010

F1 Practice: Abu Dhabi 2010


That's how the timesheet read at the end of Friday's Second Practice.  Fitting as those are the four men still in the running for the Driver's Championship at this, the last race of the 2010 F1 season.  Of course, there's nothing to be read into these results as it's practically impossible to figure out what each team was trying to do. The only thing we can figure is that the teams were running full fuel at the end of the session, trying to figure out how the extra 300lbs would affect the tires and brakes around the circuit as night fell.

Another thing that can be figured out is that the McLaren of Hamilton is running a variant of its Japanese GP rear wing, one that sure seems to have increased the car's pace.  His teammate Jenson Button, wasn't running the same wing, as his was held up in transport somewhere, and was over a second slower as a result.  Now, whether or not it'll be enough for Hamilton to win the race is another question.

And he must do so if he wants any chance at all of winning the Championship.  Even with that, he needs the biggest of miracles.  For a quick rundown on who needs to do what, go to this post over at F1fanatic.  Intriguingly, this is the first time F1 has had four drivers still in contention in the last race of the year.  Even more intriguingly, it's possible that we could have three drivers all end up with the same number of points!  If Vettel wins, Webber comes in second, and HWMNBN finishes in 5th, all three will have 256 points.  In that case, Seb Vettel would win the Driver's Championship.  He'd have the same number of wins, 2nd and 3rd place finishes as HWMNBN, but one more 4th.  Amazing, and not all that unlikely.  Still, it's all in the hands of the Ferrari driver.  If he wins or finishes 2nd, he's the Champion no matter what anybody else does.

The track ran well today, billiard-table smooth and still as Tilkeish as ever.  Amazingly, there was a huge downpour before P1 today, which washed what little rubber the GP2 guys laid down away.  Still, by P2 it was back to being bone dry, but hot and humid.  That could take a toll on the cars and their worn engines, to say the least.  Supposedly the big four are all to use low-mileage engines, but that's what they said about Vettel's engine at Korea and we all know how that ended up.  And to be honest, it might be the most beautiful layout in Formula 1 when the sun starts going down.

As we learned last year, there's not many overtaking opportunities around the Yas Marina Circuit, so qualifying will be of paramount importance.  Quals is Saturday morning, and I'll have a writeup as soon after I wake up as possible.  See you then!

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November 11, 2010

Veterans Day 2010

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with lots of pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.
-President Woodrow Wilson, in his proclamation creating Veterans Day, then called Armistice Day.

To all who have served or who are currently serving, The Pond gives a heartfelt "Thank you."

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November 09, 2010

Warbird Up

In the comments of my post on the paddlewheel aircraft carrier Wolverine, reader The Old Man asked "How many WW2 carrier training birds are on the bottom of the Great Lakes and perhaps could be salvaged?"

Well, as of Monday afternoon the answer is "one fewer," as salvers brought up a doozie.

It's a Corsair, but not just any Corsair.  That right there is the world's only known surviving F4U-1, the first marque of the bent-wing bird.  It was sometimes known as a "Birdcage Corsair" for the latticework framing of the cockpit.

On June 12th, 1943, Ensign CH Johnson tried to land F-21 on the deck of the Wolverine.  Losing sight of the LSO on approach, a common enough occurrence for the long-nosed Corsair, Ensign Johnson took a wave-off and, applying power, began to peel off to the left.  Unfortunately, he had settled enough that his tailhook caught a wire, slamming the plane down onto the deck hard enough to split the rear fuselage from the rest of the Corsair.   The tailhook assembly was ripped free of the plane as well.  Both chunks of the F4U fell overboard and sank, though the front section stayed afloat long enough for Ensign Johnson to escape without harm.

The plane is in remarkably good shape for having been submerged in Lake Michigan for 67 years.  The underside is coated with zebra mussels, a common enough problem in the Great Lakes these days.  There is rust, of course, but the structure of the Corsair is wholly intact.  Indeed, the salvers brought up both pieces of the plane.  The only bit missing?  The tailhook assembly.  Eventually, the F4U-1 is destined for the National Navy Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL.

The salvage company that performed the rescue, A&T Recovery, says that there's at least 80 more warbirds sitting on the bottom of Lake Michigan, many of which are within 50 miles of Chicago.  Almost all of them are Dauntlesses and Wildcats of various types.  The F4U wasn't seen in the air above Lake Michigan, as the Wolverine and Sable were really not big enough to handle them comfortably.  It may have been there as part of an attempt to requalify the Corsair for carrier operations, as the type had already been limited to ground-based squadrons in late 1942. 

While Ensign Johnson got away unharmed from this crash, he wasn't so lucky later.  He was killed in a midair collision over Hawaii on Thanksgiving Day, 1943.

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