May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010


Remember those who have served and given, for it is their sacrifices that allow us do the silly things we do today.

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May 30, 2010

F1 UPDATE!: Turkey 2010

What an amazing race.  We here at F1U! are still buzzing over today's action from the Istanbul Otodrom, and the implications for the rest of the season might be endless.  THIS is your F1 Update! for the Grand Prix of Turkey!

*ACTION-FILLED NON-ACTION:  As the race approached, the weather was warm and clear, though a rainstorm was visible off in the distance.  The sunny skies made the track very hot, nearly 120° F, and the first casualty was the grid girl of Jenson Button, who passed out from the heat.  Jenson's father took up her duties (becoming the ugliest grid girl of all time) while she was carried away.  Reports are that she's fine.  When the lights went out, and stop us if you've heard this before, the Red Bull of Mark Webber had a rocket start and streaked away from the field.  Except this time, three other cars came with him, Lewis Hamilton, Seb Vettel and Button.  Together, they left the rest of the field in their collective dust.  Unlike the previous races however, Webber just could not open up any sort of lead on the two McLarens and the other Red Bull; no more than a second would cover first to fourth for nearly the first 40 laps.  From fourth to fifth however was a different story altogether as the breakaway was about a second a lap faster than everybody else.

While the two Red Bulls and the two McLarens ran away and hid, Hamilton and Webber began a fascinating duel.  The MP4-25 was faster in sectors 1 and 3, but the RB6 had the advantage in sector 2.  Lewis would close up right onto Webbo's diffuser as they approached Quad-8, but would lose nearly a third of a second going through the classic turn.  He would then make the time up as they went around the track, only to have everything repeat as they went into Quad-8.  With tiny variations, this process went on for the first 16 laps, and the breakaway had opened up a nearly 30-second lead.

*WON AND LOST:  In a tight race like this, pitstops are crucial and when Webber and Hamilton came in on Lap 16, you got the feeling that the driver that got out first would win the race.  Red Bull got their man in and out cleanly, while McLaren had a small hangup on Hamilton's right-rear.  By the time Lewis started moving, he was again behind Webbo.  If it wasn't for that, it looked like the rest of the stop was fast enough that Hamilton should have come out ahead.  In fact, he came out in third, having been leapfrogged by Seb Vettel who pitted on Lap 15.  Suddenly we were looking at another Red Bull 1-2.  The race continued much as it had prior to the pitstops with Webber in the lead, but unable to shake the three drivers behind him, though the challenger directly behind him was now his teammate, who was being harried by Hamilton.  Button was about a second or so behind his teammate, an eternity in comparison to the way things had been going.

*MOOOOOO-OOVE OF THE RACE:  And so it went for another 23 laps.  Hamilton could close up to Vettel, but would lose out on Quad-8 and drop back.  Then he began to lose a tiny bit of time here and there, and while he was still in contention he was no longer an in-your-face (on-your-diffuser?) threat.  Meanwhile, it seemed like Webber had either worn his tires a little bit or had stopped trying to push his accelerator through the firewall, as Vettel was beginning to cast covetous glances towards his teammate's lead.  On Lap 40 Vettel made his move as the two Red Bulls charged down towards Turn 12.  Webber drifted over towards the left, taking them both off the racing line as Vettel pulled alongside.  At this point, it looked unlikely that either Red Bull would be able to make the turn cleanly, but it looked safe.  And then...

Vettel (left), Webber (right)
The second-biggest sin a driver can commit in autoracing is taking out your teammate.  The biggest sin a driver can commit in autoracing is taking out your teammate when you're 1-2, and that's what Seb Vettel ahd just done.  As he pulled alongside his teammate, he seemed to twitch to the right, taking himself into Webber's left sidepod.  Vettel immediately went into a spin that ruined his suspension, taking Webber off-track with him.  Miraculously, the Aussie suffered no damage other than a mangled front wing from the whole event, but both McLarens swept by as the two RB6s untangled themselves.  The reaction from Red Bull's pit wall had to be seen to be believed.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  Now it was a McLaren 1-2 as Webber limped to the pits.  The domination of the lead pack became clear when you realize that he dragged his injured car into the pit lane, had a new nose and tires put on, and exited the pits still in third place, still with an eight second lead over fourth place Slappy Schumacher, yet was over 30 seconds behind the leaders.  And suddenly, it was Jenson Button who got a sniff of first place.

Button (near), Hamilton (far)
The 2009 World Champion threw his car inside the 2008 World Champion's, and they ran side by side through the final complex, with Button taking the lead as they came onto the front straight.  Hamilton didn't give up though, as he tucked right behind Button's tail, getting a tow as they charged down to Turn 1.  With a brave move, he flicked himself to the inside of the turn and retook the lead from his teammate while everybody on the McLaren pit wall held their breath.

*FINALLY:  Both McLaren drivers were asked to conserve fuel as the race entered its final laps, which allowed the RB6 of Mark Webber to close up to within 22 seconds of Button, who had slipped to about two seconds behind his teammate after his failed dive for the lead.  And that's the way this amazing race came to an end, with Lewis Hamilton crossing the line for his first victory of 2010.

*AFTERSHOCKS:  The two Red Bull teammates were pointing fingers at each other for the crash that cost the team the 1-2 finish.  It's no secret that Vettel has been complaining about how his car has been having problems while Webber's has been solid.  Webber, on the other hand, has been chafing under the thought that Vettel was the #1 driver for the team.  Could the acrimony tear the team apart they way McLaren was shredded in 2007 by the HWMNBN/Hamilton fight.

*SELECTED DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE:

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May 29, 2010

F1 Quals: Turkey 2010

Over the past few years, Turkey has been Ferrari's sandbox, but then BrawnGP came along last year and kicked sand in their faces.  Now the Red Bullies have arrived on the scene, looking for a fight.  Will Ferrari stand up for themselves?  Will McLaren or Mercedes finally kick Red Bull out of the top spot on the grid?  Let's take a look at the provisional lineup:

Pos Driver Team Q1Q2Q3
1 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:27.500 1:26.818 1:26.295
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.667 1:27.013 1:26.433
3 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:27.067 1:26.729 1:26.760
4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.555 1:27.277 1:26.781
5 Slappy Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:27.756 1:27.438 1:26.857
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:27.649 1:27.141 1:26.952
7 Robert Kubica Renault 1:27.766 1:27.426 1:27.039
8 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:27.993 1:27.200 1:27.082
9 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:27.620 1:27.387 1:27.430
10 Kamui Kobayashi BK Sauber-Ferrari 1:28.158 1:27.434 1:28.122
11 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:27.951 1:27.525
12 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:27.857 1:27.612
13 Pete Rose
BK Sauber-Ferrari 1:28.147 1:27.879
14 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:28.534 1:28.273
15 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:28.336 1:28.392
16 NKOTT STR-Ferrari 1:28.460 1:28.540
17 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:28.227 1:28.841
18 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:28.958

19 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:30.237

20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:30.519

21 Timo Glockenspiel Virgin-Cosworth 1:30.744

22 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:31.266

23 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:31.989

24 Cowboy Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1:32.060


Yeah, like anybody is gonna kick Red Bull off of pole.  Though to be honest, it looked like Lewis Hamilton had it cold at the end of Q3.  He was maybe 20 seconds behind Webber on the track, and when Webber turned in the fastest sector 1 time of the day, Hamilton bettered it.  Webber set the fastest sector 2 time, but Hamilton had been crusing there all day.  It seemed that for once we'd get a non-Red Bull car on pole.

Then Slappy Schumacher had to go and ruin it for us by spinning off on Quad-8 and making a fine try for the barriers, coming up just a few feet short.  Unfortunately, he was between Webber and Hamilton on track, meaning that when the local yellow flag came out, Hamilton had to slow down... but Webber didn't.  So long, pole hunt.  Obviously we don't know that Lewis would have been faster than the Red Bull driver, but it looked like it would have been close.

As far as Ferrari's sandbox went, it looked more like Ferrari's litterbox.  Massa could only manage a lackluster eighth, while HWMNBN screwed up on his final two laps in Q2 and was bumped out.  So much for "no more mistakes."  For some reason, I am not unhappy with this result.

So there's our grid... and Webber is suddenly looking like he's in the clear for a three race winning streak.  Will it pan out?  We'll see tomorrow!  Come back on Sunday for the F1 Update!

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May 28, 2010

F1 Practice: Turkey 2010

It appears that the previous talk about the circuit at the Istanbul Otodrom becoming bumpy in its age didn't go far enough.  It's hideous, particularly on the first two apexes of Quad-8 (or, as one e-mailer to the Legendary Announce Team named it, "Diabolica," a play off of the famous "Parabolica" at Monza).  The braking zone for Turn 12 is also infested with molehills growing into mountains.

Felipe Massa had a bad, bad time with Turn 8 today, losing the car twice in two laps at the same place on the bend.  In fact, he just was having a bad time in general.  I'm starting to wonder if the rumors that he's not the same driver he used to be before the Spring Incident... aren't true.  He hasn't even come close to winning a race this season; heck, other than the Ferrari domination of Bahrain where he finished second, he's not come close to the front of the pack this year at all.  It's a shame... while I can't say that I much like the guy (he does drive for Ferrari, after all), having your career curtailed through no fault of your own just isn't very fair.

Speaking of unfair, the last time HRT's Bruno Senna raced at Turkey, his GP2 car was totaled when he ran into a dog on the circuit.  Which isn't quite as bad as hitting a cow, like these rally drivers did, but still pretty bad.

Late in P2, Red Bull's Mark Webber blew an engine.  Not so bad, really, as it only had about 30 miles left in its scheduled lifespan anyway.  Meanwhile, his teammate, Seb Vettel, got a new chassis.  The past two races, he's been complaining about the car not feeling right; turns out there was something wrong with the floor/undertray.  The team could not fix it, so brand new car for him... which, in his tradition, he has named "Randy Mandy."  She joins "Kate," "Kate's Dirty Sister," and "Luscious Liz" on the list.

Jensen Button headed the timesheet in P2, followed by the two Red Bull drivers and Lewis Hamilton.  Massa was 10th. 

Ferrari has a new livery for this race:

This will be their 800th Grand Prix start.  Nobody else is really even close, as they're the only team to have participated in all 60 seasons of F1.  That's a lot of races... and makes the fact that Rubens Barrichello is closing in on his 300th start (near the end of this season) all the more impressive.

Quals in the morning.  See you then! 

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May 25, 2010

F1 on SPEED!: Turkey 2010 and Formula 1 Returns to the USA!

First off, Birdy Ecclestone announced today that the city of Austin, Texas will be hosting the US Grand Prix beginning in 2012.  A purpose-built facility will be created for the event, the first time a F1-level track has been built in the US.  Good job, Birdy!

Now, onto the current season!  F1 makes its way to Istanbul this week, home of the only Hermann Tilke circuit that's worth a darn.  Let's take a look at the map.

There are three turns on this track that are memorable.  Turn 1 has been compared to a junior version of Laguna Seca's famed Corkscrew, though without the radical elevation change (and wouldn't a flock of F1 cars negotiating that be something to see?).  Turn 11 has jokingly been called "Faux Rouge", as it's a high-speed kink on a hillside, just like the original Eau Rouge at Spa-Francopants.

But it's Turn 8 that elevates this circuit from "okay" to "great."  A four-apex corner (which I've called "Quad-8" for years), it's a blisteringly high speed/high risk bend.  Get it right in qualifying, and you're on pole.  Get it wrong, and you're headed towards the very distant catch fencing... backwards.  Nobody's quite made it there yet, but some have given it a mighty effort... I seem to remember Christian Klein a couple of years back coming within a couple of car-lengths.  Backwards.  Quad-8 is probably Tilke's finest creation.

Of course, Turkey is certainly his best track, too, and it's all due to the land it's on.  Unlike Malaysia, China, Bahrain, etc etc, the Istanbul Otodrom (I don't care what they call it now) is built on terrain that features hills.  Hills mean elevation changes, and that means it actually feels like you're going somewhere.  Drivers love that, which is one of the reasons that Spa is so popular. 

All is not sweetness and light in Turkey, however.  Just like the circuit at Shanghai, drivers believe that the track is getting bumpier as it ages, particularly at Quad-8.  It's hard enough to make that turn successfully, I can only imagine how grumpy an uneven surface will make the drivers.

Fortunately, we won't HAVE to imagine it, for SPEED will bring us their usual fine coverage beginning with 2nd Practice on Friday, live, from 6am to 740am.  Quals follows the next day, from 6am to 7am... at least, that's how the schedule reads.  To be safe, set your VCR for 730am.

The 2010 Grand Prix of Turkey comes our way LIVE on Sunday, from 630am to 9am, with a replay on Tuesday from 11am to 130pm.  Hopefully my VCR woes will be gone by then, otherwise it'll be another late F1 UPDATE!.  However, rest assured that we WILL be here for you!

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May 23, 2010

Wolverine!

War.  War never changes.  In 1942, war was raging and the US Navy had a problem.  It was obvious that the aircraft carrier was going to be the deciding factor in the Pacific, and a major player in the battle for the Atlantic.  A gazillion carriers were going to be coming out of the shipyards, and they would need squadrons upon squadrons of planes and pilots to fill their hangars.  While there wouldn't be a problem building the planes, the pilots would be another thing altogether.  There would be hordes of men wearing the wings, certainly, and they would have plenty of training in how to fly their planes, but naval aviation is a different type of beast... because of the aircraft carrier.

When the Army Air Forces taught a man how to fly, they were able to assure their pilots that, at the end of a mission, they would have a nice long runway (or a well-manicured meadow) to come home to.  On the other hand, most Navy pilots would be in training for carrier aviation.  This meant they'd have to put their plane down on a small (at least in comparison to AAF runways) flight deck somewhere in the middle of an ocean... that was moving.  That's a problem, because you can't simulate that on land.  To be sure, you can paint a flight deck on a runway to give an idea of the size.  You can put a Landing Signal Officer at the end on the runway to teach a pilot how to follow his instructions.  You can even put arresting wires across the runway to give the rookie pilot a taste of the stresses involved with landing on a carrier.  But you can't duplicate the rolling and pitching, the winds, the turbulence off the island, and the sense of scale involved (even a big carrier is very, very small in comparison to the ocean).

Prior to the start of WWII, the US Navy trained their neophyte pilots on carrier landings by landing them... on carriers.  That sounds obvious and it surely is, but what do you do when it's going to take all of your current CVs just to hold the line... and they're only barely accomplishing that?  Throw in the threat of submarines, and even if you had a spare carrier lying around you couldn't operate it in a manner that would make training a rookie pilot easier.  Then there's this little problem with rookie pilots (and trained pilots, for that matter), in that they crash.  Over and above the tragedy involved, a violent crash could cripple a carrier at a time when every flight deck mattered.  But sending a squadron of pilots out to war with practically no experience on landing on a carrier deck is a recipe for disaster. 

In March of 1942, the US Navy came up with an answer.


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May 22, 2010

Name That Ship!

As most of my regular readers know, I have a deep interest in WWII, with an emphasis on the Pacific Theater, and have had for many, many years.  For much of that time I've been drawn to the more obscure bits of hardware used by the various armed forces.  Everybody knows about the Mustang, the Spitfire or the Flying Fortress, and for good reason.  Even the Buffalo is well-known, if for all the wrong reasons.  But who champions the little guys, the Vindicators of the world?  Or, really, who cares about the nigh-on forgotten things?  I do, for I am as fascinated by the "backstage" people as much as the main characters, if not moreso.  Heck, a couple of days ago I discovered that there was a floatplane version of the F4F built and tested (charmingly called the "Wildcatfish") and was tickled pink. 

So you can only imagine my joy when I first learned about this ship:

Except I'm not going to tell you anything about it.  Yet.  Instead, I want to see if any of my readers know the name of this surprisingly influential vessel, or if not the name, what you can tell me about her.  Leave your guesses in the comments, and no cheating!

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May 21, 2010

What In The World?

I just don't... huh?


Gaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...

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May 18, 2010

*Headtable*


-Sora no Woto, ep01

I'm going to have to admit to being not exactly motivated to blog these days.  It just... sort of feels like work at the moment.  I've had these feelings in the past, and they usually pass quickly, generally when I stumble over something interesting or I'm distracted by something shiny.  For all I know, I'll be back tomorrow... or next Monday, to prepare for the GP of Turkey.

But when Formula 1 is getting to be a chore, and it is, that's when I know I need to take a break, no matter how long it's for. 

So sit tight, maybe leave me a comment saying that you can't stand to see me go (*snort*) or wanting a question answered ("Was the Wildcat used throughout WWII?" for example), and I'll come back sooner or later.

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May 16, 2010

F1 Update!: Monaco 2010

A beautiful day over The Principality, absolutely perfect for a little racing fun!  Would the drivers provide?  THIS is your F1U! for the 2010 Grand Prix of Monaco!

*TWOFER:  After squeaking out the pole from the Pole, Red Bull's Mark Webber had to have been feeling awfully confident as the lights went out.  And as it turns out he was right to be, screaming away from the rest of the field as if they were standing still.  It seemed that the only thing that could keep him from lapping the world was the four safety cars that came out during the race.  That he spent the entire race waaaaay in front of his younger, supposedly more talented, teammate Seb Vettel had to make it all that much sweeter.  Throw in the fact that he's now led every lap for the past two races and the Aussie has got to be livin' large right now.

*OHFER:  On the other hand, Virgin, Lotus, HRT, Williams and BK-Sauber have to be wondering which racing god they've pissed off.  All five teams failed to get either of their cars to the finish line.  This can't be what Peter Sauber was thinking when he got back into F1...

*DRIVER OF THE RACE: Well, duh, Mark Webber.  He didn't quite have enough of a lead to stop and have a drink at the bistro at Rascasse during the race, but it sure seemed like it at times... and I'm sure he would have done so if he could.  Honorable Mention goes to Robert Kubica for bringing his Renault home in third.  While he lost 2nd place to Vettel right off the line with a mediocre start, he kept the pressure on the younger of the two Red Bull drivers for nearly the entire race.  If the Renault was a slightly better car he could have done more than just hang grimly on the RB6's rear wing, but you make do with what you've got, and Kubica did more than anybody could have honestly expected.  

*TEAM OF THE RACE: Red Bull.  This season has all the signs of becoming a laugher if the RB6 can stay in one piece.  When they do, you get the sort of result we saw in Spain and today in Monaco: runaways.  Don't let the 1.6-second gap from Webber to Kubica fool you, that was only because of the safety car that came out with just a few laps remaining; it should have been closer to 10-15 seconds.  The team has the best car, two of the best drivers (and arguably the best young driver in Vettel), the best aerodynamicist, tons of money to throw at any problem... it could get ugly for the rest of the field.

*MOVE OF THE RACE: Take your pick between any of the four passes HWMNBN put in at the Chicane.  Yes, they were all against the backmarkers, but only Jarno Trulli really got out of his way.  All the others were actual fights for position, and all of them were impressive feats of car control and cojones.  Honorable mention goes to Slappy Schumacher for his (not seen in the US) pass at Rascasse against HWMNBN... on the last lap, under safety car conditions.  For the record: you can't do that.  Almost got away with it, too.  Instead, he was handed a 20 second penalty and dropped down to 12th... but it was audacious, I'll give him that.

*MOOOOOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE RACE:  We here at F1U! love Monaco, simply because there's always a clear-cut Mooooooo here.  Except for this year.  This year, we've got three excellent contenders for the trophy!  The first would go to the McLaren crewman who neglected to remove the blank from Jenson Button's left sidepod radiator inlet as he made his way to the grid.  Of course, this turned his engine into a steaming pile of slag that let go on Lap 2 while behind the first safety car.  Bravo, that!

The second candidate is Mr Maturity himself, Rubens Barrichello.  After something broke at the rear of his Williams on Lap 31, he went spinning and bouncing down the track at Massanet, coming to rest facing the wrong way.  Understandably frustrated and angry at being sent into the barriers at around 150mph, he did something that he of all people should know was stupid and dangerous.

See what that arrow is pointing at there?  It's his steering wheel, which Rubens threw out of the cockpit in his frustration.  Now, after a spring came out the back of his car last year, nearly killing Felipe Massa, you'd think he'd know better.  See that blur there?  That's Karun Chandhok's HRT.

Where's the steering wheel?  That's right, it's somewhere under the HRT... $20000 worth of steering wheel being dragged along by (or imbedded into) a F1 car: not cool, Rubens, not cool at all.

But there can be only one winner, and the Mooooooo-ooove for the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix goes to a prior winner of this race, Jarno Trulli.  With a scant seven laps remaining, Trulli's Lotus was behind the HRT of Karun Chandhok, and while he was slightly faster than the Indian, he could not get past at all.  Finally, he thought he saw an opening and lept into the breach.  Unfortunately, he tried this at Rascasse, one of the narrowest and slowest corners on the circuit and a place where nobody tries to pass... ever.  The result was both predictable and horrifying.

Commentators have said that the rollbar in the HRT's airbox did its job by protecting Chandhok from taking the rear of the Lotus in the face, and I suppose that's true.  However, the tire mark on the HRT driver's helmet tells a slightly different story... a couple inches lower Trulli would have neatly decapitated the rookie.  However, since he didn't, he earns the Moooooooo-oooove of the Race for the worst passing attempt at the worst place imaginable.  Way to go, Jarno!

*SELECTED DRIVER COMMENTS OF THE RACE:

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F1U: Monaco is... delayed

Due to recording problems (i.e. the audio sounding like someone is crinkling the cellophane wrapper off a cigarette pack in your ear), it's 7pm Pond Standard Time and I have yet to finish the race.  For you guys I suffered through the first 36 laps... and got a headache from all the static.  Downloads are about an hour from being complete (they were late getting posted at my F1 source), and that puts it square in the middle of the broadcast of the last episode of The Pacific... the only thing that could keep me from watching F1.

So the F1U! for Monaco will be posted tonight, but late... maybe 11pm or midnight, local time.  It's still comin', though.  Enjoy the suspense.

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Congrats Duck U Grads 2010!

The Commencement ceremony for Duck U. is this afternoon.  As an Alumnus of our fair school, this day always brings back interesting memories for me... which is why I don't much mind working on this Sunday. 

Strangely enough, while I remember my grad ceremony, I don't remember walking across the stage, shaking the hand of the U's president and being handed my "diploma", then walking off the stage.  Everything right up to the moment, yes.  Everything afterwards, sure.  But the actual event?  Nuthin'.

The grads that decide not to march always confuse me.  Don't they realize that the ceremony isn't for them, but their families?  Ah well... still and all:  congratulations, ducklings!  Welcome to the big world!

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May 15, 2010

F1 Quals: Monaco 2010!

It was an action-packed Saturday in The Principality today, but did someone knock Red Bull off pole for the first time this season?  Let's take a look at the provisional grid for Sunday's Grand Prix of Monaco!

Pos Driver Team Q1Q2Q3
1 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:15.035 1:14.462 1:13.826
2 Robert Kubica Renault 1:15.045 1:14.549 1:14.120
3 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:15.110 1:14.568 1:14.227
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:14.757 1:14.405 1:14.283
5 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:15.676 1:14.527 1:14.432
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:15.188 1:14.375 1:14.544
7 Slappy Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:15.649 1:14.691 1:14.590
8 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:15.623 1:15.150 1:14.637
9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:15.590 1:15.083 1:14.901
10 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:15.397 1:15.061 1:15.170
11 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:16.030 1:15.317
12 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:15.445 1:15.318
13 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:15.961 1:15.413
14 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:15.482 1:15.576
15 Pete Rose
Burger King Sauber-Ferrari 1:15.908 1:15.692
16 Kamui Kobayashi Burger King Sauber-Ferrari 1:16.175 1:15.992
17 NKOTT STR-Ferrari 1:16.021 1:16.176
18 Heikki Kovalaineninnie Lotus-Cosworth 1:17.094

19 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:17.134

20 Timo Glockenspiel Virgin-Cosworth 1:17.377

21 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:17.864

22 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:18.509

23 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1:19.559

24 HWMNBN Ferrari No time


Well, the answer is "no."  Mark Webber turned in the only sub-1m14s time of the entire weekend with only eight seconds left to go in Q3.  That fended off a last-ditch charge from Robert Kubica, who had sat in the top spot for the first nine minutes of the session.  The two of them then threw fast lap after fast lap at each other in a quick game of "Can You Top This?"  Eventually, the Renault couldn't.

A sharp-eyed reader will note the glaring "No Time" next to HWMNBN's entry on the grid.  That's because he had a little run-in with the armco during Saturday's practice session.  He pretty much left the right side of his car at Massanet and Ferrari never even attempted to repair it, opting instead to build up a new chassis for the race.  Considering how the damaged car looked, that's probably a good decision.

HWMNBN's teammate at Ferrari, Felipe Massa, ended up fourth on the grid, but that might not stand.  As the traffic built up in Q3, he slowed down to get a gap between himself and the cars ahead.  That's quite normal and usually a good idea, particularly around a track like Monaco, where free space is at a premium.  The problem arises when you do it without looking at your mirrors.  If Massa had bothered, he would have seen Jenson Button coming up behind him on a rather torrid hot lap.  Of course, the Mercedes driver had to stomp on the brakes to keep from impaling the Ferrari; only then did Massa accelerate away, and he never made an attempt to get off the racing line.  Expect a five-spot penalty at least for the Brazilian driver, which I'm sure will be cold comfort for Button.

As previously noted, the Renault was surprisingly quick around Monaco; might we see our fifth winner out of six races, or will one of the Red Bull drivers join Button as a double-victor?  Find out on Sunday!

Programming note: Sunday is graduation day at Duck U., and I'll be working at the Bookstore from 9am to 2pm or so because of that.  The F1 Update!, therefore, won't be up until later in the evening... I won't get to watch the race until mid/late afternoon.  I'll keep you guys waiting as little as possible, though.

UPDATE 1045pm: Massa escapes with no penalty.  A member of the media asked Jenson Button if the Ferrari driver was a "plonker."  Button's response: "That's your word, not mine."  Hmmm... think ol' Jense is a bit peeved at this decision?

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May 13, 2010

F1 Practice: Monaco 2010

If it's Thursday, it must be Monaco!  Second practice started with a clear blue sky and ended with a slight drizzle, perhaps some foreshadowing for the race?  We can only hope, as while Monaco is tough enough to drive, rain just makes it ridiculously fun to watch (though perhaps not to drive).

HWMNBN, one of five drivers in the field to have won here, topped the timesheets for both practices in his Ferrari, with Nico Rosberg following in his Mercedes during 2nd Practice.  As always, the admonition to take everything in practice with a grain of salt stands: one never knows who's on a heavy fuel load, who's doing quals practice, and who's doing tire testing or one of a thousand other things.  Still, the teams you'd expect to be fast here were, and the usual bottomfeeders were slow. 

There's one exception, however.  The Renaults were unexpectedly quick around the Principality today, with Robert Kubica leading the afternoon session for much of the 90 minutes before slipping to sixth late in the day.  Even with that, he was still ahead of both McLarens and Mark Webber's Red Bull.  Hard to tell what that means to be honest, though with Kubica behind the wheel one can always hope for the best.  Monaco isn't a circuit that rewards the fastest cars, but the most maneuverable.

As with all things Monaco, you get some incredible camera angles here, like this one of the Loew's Hairpin and Portier (upper right and upper left, respectfully).  In fact, you can almost get a full lap's worth of "aerial shots" from the roofs of condominiums and the like, though the Tunnel is somewhat obstructed.  I might try to do that...

One of the main features of the race at Monaco is the appearance of the Beautiful People on race day.  Today, though, we had to make do with one of the driving forces of F1.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Birdy Ecclestone is present.  No surprise that a McLaren staffer is trying to shoo him out of the pit lane...

Quals on Saturday!

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May 12, 2010

I Am Amuse

Nothing important or even pressing to discuss, so here's a picture of Picard with a bucket on his head.

That is all.

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May 11, 2010

Wetdock

According to the Halifax Chronicle Herald, a floating drydock... well, stopped floating this past Saturday.  The Scotia Dock II went down in about 50 feet of water as it maneuvered into position to hoist a tugboat inside for repairs. 

Scotia Dock II in drier times
Geoff Britt, spokesman for the company that owns the Scotia Dock II,  refused to say that it sank, instead suggesting that it "dropped below normal operating levels."  Underwater for pretty much any ship that isn't a submarine should be considered "below normal operating levels," yes.

Once they figure out how to raise the wetdock, they'll be able to figure out just exactly why it went down.  I suspect that once they can get down to the bilges, they'll find this:

Oops.

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May 10, 2010

F1 on SPEED!: Monte Carlo 2010

Leaving the most average circuit on the calendar, the F1 Circus trundles up the coast about 300 miles to what is probably its most unique track: Monte Carlo.  Nowhere in the world will you find a layout like the Circuit de Monaco, with the slowest turn in F1 as well as one of the fastest.  No other F1 track has a tunnel as part of the racing surface (Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi has one, but as part of the pit lane), and very few tracks anywhere in any marque.  Narrow and dangerous, it's only on the schedule because it's always been on the schedule, and like as not it always will be... because Monaco is the spiritual home of Formula 1.  Let's take a look at the map...

One goes uphill from Ste Devote to right around Beau Rivage, then downhill from just past Casino down to Portier; probably the largest elevation change in the shortest distance in F1 (Spa's elevation change is likely greater, but over a longer stretch of track).  Of course, in that downhill stretch is the Loew's Hairpin, noted as Turn 6 on the map (I don't care what it's called these days, it'll always be Loew's to me).   A more-than-180° turn if you follow the racing line, it's taken at around 30mph and teams usually have to modify the front suspension on their cars just to be able to make the turn at all.  That modified suspension is what allows the cars to make the nearly-180º turn at La Rascasse, home of Slappy Schumacher's infamous "Parky" incident in 2006.  There's only just enough room on the track to get two modern F1 cars side-by-side, but barely.  Of course, the layout is surrounded by Armco barriers and concrete walls (in the tunnel), with precious little runoff area anywhere: Ste Devote and Turn 13 have some, but that's about it.  Heck, Ste Devote's runoff area leads directly to the steps of the church located there.  I don't know if anybody has ever made it that far, but it's not impossible.

The track, of course, is made up of city streets.  For drainage purposes, the streets are crowned in the middle, making it even more difficult to drive a F1 car on.  Throw in the oil left behind by everyday use, and Monaco might be the dirtiest, most slippery circuit you'll ever come across.  If you can win here, you've accomplished something described as like "riding a bicycle in a phone booth," and your name will go down in the history books as having won F1's Crown Jewel.

F1's Crown Jewel, one of the three races that make up the (unofficial) Triple Crown of Motorsport (along with the Indy 500 and the 24 Hours of LeMans).  Only Graham Hill has accomplished this feat, but Juan Pablo (The Pope) Montoya is still eligible, needing only LeMans.  Of course, he's driving in NASCAR these days, which conflicts with the 24 Hours, but it's still possible.

So who will take that first step to immortality?  We'll find out starting on Thursday morning, from 7am to 840am, with live coverage of the 2nd Practice session.  Yes, Thursday: Friday in Monaco is reserved for the Monagasts returning home... just another of the quirks of the Grand Prix of Monte Carlo.  Saturday morning, from 7am to 830am, is almost live coverage of Quals.  It's nearly as important to be on pole here as it is in Spain, so being first on Saturday means you've a good shot to be first on Sunday.

The race begins on the aforementioned Sunday at 630am, and goes until 9am.  There appears to be no replay scheduled as of yet.  Of course, we of F1 Update! will be here for our usual coverage of the race (even though we're working Sunday morning), so we'll see you then!

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May 09, 2010

F1 Update!: Spain 2010!

A beautiful if breezy day in Barcelona today, which boded well for Red Bull and ill for everybody else.  But did it work out that way?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2010 Grand Prix of Spain!

*YUP...:  When the lights went out, Red Bull's Mark Webber outran his teammate and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton to the first turn, fought off passing attempts through the turn, then disappeared over the horizon.  Along the way to his first win of the season, he managed to lap everybody up to 9th place, and was only 10 seconds from the battle for 7th.  If one race can answer the question "who's got the best car on the grid," this race emphatically answered "Red Bull."

*...AND NOPE:  Except for one thing.  The other RB6, driven by Seb Vettel, showed the other side of the Red Bull, the fragile side.  Somewhere in the back third of the race, the electric motor that controlled the adjustable wing on the left side of the nose failed with the flap in the "up" position.  This blocked airflow to the cooling duct for the front-left brakes, and with 15 laps to go they gently failed.  While he was able to continue on, his car was crippled.  Braking was accomplished using the rear brakes only and early (and dramatic) downshifting.  Even with all that, he had problems negotiating some turns.  Vettel ended up on the podium, but on the third step after his crippled car was passed by HWMNBN... and only because of a catastrophic failure on Lewis Hamilton's car.  While it's become clear that the RB6 is somewhat more fragile than the average F1 car, Webber's lack of breakdowns makes one think that perhaps Vettel puts added stress on his chassis because of his (successful!) driving style.

*UNLUCKY:  When Vettel's car broke, Lewis Hamilton had it made.  He'd held second place since the first round of pitstops around lap 15, but was nowhere close to Webber.  The other Red Bull had grimly hung onto the McLaren's rear wing, ready to pounce if he made an error, but the brake failure took even that threat away.  Thus, Hamilton had 2nd place sewn up... all he had to do is make it to the finish line.  During this very race in 2008, Hamilton's teammate Heikki Kovaleinninninnie picked up a bit of gravel that got stuck in the left-front wheel rim and machined through the suspension, causing a terrifically violent accident.  Today, Hamilton had something similar occur with two laps to go.

That screenshot is the exact moment the failure occurred, but if you go back and watch the video you can see the tire moving around on the rim a few seconds before everything went south.

While it looks dramatic, the resulting accident was nowhere near as bad as Heikki's.  Instead of going straight into the tire barrier, Hamilton had enough control to continue turning.  As a result, he hit the barrier at an angle and skimmed off.  No question it was a hard ride, but in the end it was nothing extraordinary.  Except that it cost him 2nd while gifting HWMNBN the place.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  When you don't see the leader in the time between his last pitstop around lap 16 and the final lap, you know he's had an easy day of it, and that's exactly what happened today.  Mark Webber won by 24 seconds over Ferrari's HWMNBN, and it really wasn't even that close... the Red Bull driver dialed down his engine with 10 laps to go.  Basically the perfect race for the Aussie, and one that's got to make everybody up and down the field nervous... including his teammate.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Red Bull.  Even though they lost the 1-2 finish when Vettel broke, they still finished with both drivers on the podium.  The team coached Seb home with his crippled car, though it seemed like he didn't always listen to the pit wall.  Still, as grim as Vettel's situation was, Webber's was the complete opposite.  A solid day for a team that needed it.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  There was only one of any note.  An unlucky Nico Rosberg, who suffered a horrible pit stop and thus was dropped to the rear of the pack, got caught behind Nico Hulkenberg for nearly 10 laps.  Finally, either in frustration or anger, Rosberg slipped inside the Hulk going into La Caxcia, not a normal place to pass someone.  That's it.  Here's your MotR, Nico.  Maybe next week we'll have more to choose from.

*MOOOOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE RACE:  Today was the first race of the year where the backmarkers really caused problems on the track.  In particular, HRT's Karun Chandhok proved to be rolling trouble.  First he couldn't (or wouldn't) give Felipe Massa enough room to get past, claiming a front wing element off the Ferrari in the process.  Then a few laps later, Toro Rosso's NKOTT, racing for points, tried to go around the outside of the slow n00b.  The result?

A spin for the Toro Rosso, a lost nose and a broken suspension for the HRT.  Not pretty, and well-deserving of the Moooo. 

*SELECTED DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE:

more...

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F1 Update!: SPAIN 2010! is delayed

It's still coming, but it'll be later tonight, maybe 10pm Pond Standard Time or so?  Don't miss it!

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May 08, 2010

F1 Quals: Spain 2010

Last year, the top 17 cars on the grid for the Grand Prix of Spain were covered by .800 of a second.  What's the result this year?  Let's take a look at the provisional grid:

Pos Driver Team Q1Q2Q3
1 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:21.412 1:20.655 1:19.995
2 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:21.680 1:20.772 1:20.101
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.723 1:21.415 1:20.829
4 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:21.957 1:21.549 1:20.937
5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.915 1:21.168 1:20.991
6 Slappy Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:22.528 1:21.557 1:21.294
7 Robert Kubica Renault 1:22.488 1:21.599 1:21.353
8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:22.419 1:21.867 1:21.408
9 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:22.564 1:21.841 1:21.585
10 Kamui Kobayashi Burger King Sauber-Ferrari 1:22.577 1:21.725 1:21.984
11 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:22.628 1:21.985
12 Pete Rose
Burger King Sauber-Ferrari 1:22.211 1:22.026
13 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:22.857 1:22.131
14 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:22.976 1:22.139
15 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:22.699 1:22.191
16 NKOTT STR-Ferrari 1:22.593 1:22.207
17 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:23.084 1:22.854
18 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:23.125

19 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:24.674

20 Heikki Kovalaineninnie Lotus-Cosworth 1:24.748

21 Timo Glockenspiel Virgin-Cosworth 1:25.475

22 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:25.556

23 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1:26.750

24 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:27.122


Yeah, not exactly everybody covered by less than a second.  There's nearly a second between first and third!  Pretty much a dominating performance by the Red Bulls, and as the Legendary Announce Team pointed out, this is without the trick "F-Duct" system that McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes are using.  What'll happen when the RB6 finally gets one of their own? 

Overshadowed by Red Bull making the Circuit de Catalunya their own personal playground is Slappy Schumacher finally outqualifying his teammate Nico Rosberg for the first time this season.  Looks like the longer wheelbase is to the seven-time World Champion's liking.  One would think that Rosberg can't be pleased at the moment, but when you're Slappy, you get what you want and everybody else can go pee up a wheel tether.

Sadly, Force India's Adrian Sutil didn't make it into Q3, ending his streak at four races.  It didn't look like his final lap in Q2 was marred by anything untoward, like an off or excessive traffic... he just couldn't make it go any faster when he needed to.  Too bad, that.

For the boys at the back, insult added to injury as Glockenspiel, diGrassi, and Chandhok are all having to take five grid-spot penalties.  The Virgins' penalty is for a procedural error where the team neglected to tell the FIA what gear ratios they were going to be using by a certain time, while Chandhok needed to have his gearbox changed.  Vitaly Petrov of Renault is getting the same penalty.

One driver who isn't getting a penalty is HWMNBN.  In Q3, the Ferrari driver was released into the pitlane after a tire change, at which point he nearly performed an overrun assault on Nico Rosberg.  The Mercedes driver slammed on his brakes as HWMNBN went on his merry way, prompting Rosberg to snap over the radio "(HWMNBN) needs to be penalized for that."  Of course, HWMNBN being penalized in Spain is about as likely to happen as Slappy being penalized at Hockenheim.  Instead, Ferrari is being tagged with a $20000 fine for an "unsafe release."  To make matters worse, HWMNBN just had to open his mouth afterwards, saying in effect that if he was penalized, the FIA would need to rethink "some of the grand prixs we've had so far in terms of penalties in the pit lane," obviously referring to Hamilton and Vettel's little squabble in China.

Man, I hate that guy.

Race Sunday, F1U! sometime in the afternoon.

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