July 31, 2012

When You Have Nothing Left To Post...

...post cheesecake!

Either myself or Steven is doing it wrong... I'm just not sure which one of us it is.

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July 30, 2012

McLaren Tooned Ep03

It's almost like they're running out of ideas, which amazes me!  I mean, F1 is ripe for this sort of humor, don't you think?  How could they run out of ideas?  Still made me laugh, though.

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July 29, 2012

F1 Update!: Hungary 2012

The umbrellas were out in force as the Grumbling Herd began to make their way onto the grid, but would the weather make a difference?  Would Jenson Button swim to a victory, or would polesitter Lewis Hamilton run away with it?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2012 Grand Prix of Hungary!

*UMBRELLAS?  OR PARASOLS?:  Considering the way it'd been described in Practice and Qualifying, we were expecting to see a grumpy old man with a long beard building a big boat in the infield paddock area, while pairs of animals waited for him to finish up.  Instead, when SPEED's coverage came to life, we were shocked and surprised by the sight of blue skies with nary a cloud visible.  Disgustedly, the F1U! staff packed away the water wings and flippers.

*AND WE'RE OFF!  NO, WE'RE NOT!:  As the field began to form up on the grid after the recon lap, it seemed to be taking a long time.  Since F1 cars have no fans, cooling is accomplished only when they are in motion... and the cars at the front were getting hotter and hotter as the cars at the rear took their places.  Eventually, the track official at the back of the grid began to trot across the track, waving a green flag; this signaled to Charlie Whiting, F1 race starter and technical supremo, that everything was okay and he could begin the race.  But halfway across, suddenly he stopped waving the flag and reached for a radio.  And then we saw a sight that hasn't occurred in years:

The start was aborted and the field was sent around for another recon lap.  Nobody is quite sure why the start was aborted, and the confusion claimed one car, that of Slappy Schumacher.  "The car was overheating.  When I saw the yellow flags, I shut the car off," he said, apparently not expecting to be sent around again.  He wound up starting from the pit lane, getting a puncture, earned a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane, losing all telemetry feeds, then retiring from the race completely.

*AND WE'RE OFF!  THIS TIME FOR SURE!:  When the lights went out on the now one-lap-shorter race, polesitter Lewis Hamilton got away clean, led the field through the first turn and headed off over the horizon.  Behind him, Lettuce Grosjean held second, but Jenson Button beat Seb Vettel into the turn for fourth. 

*NAP TIME:  And then it settled into a typical dry race at Hungary... dull.  Oh, to be sure, there were moments of the race where it looked like we could have some excitement, such as when first Grosjean, then much later his teammate Mumbles Raikkonen, had runs at Hamilton for the lead.  Indeed, both Lotus drivers managed to cut the lead down to a second or less, but could never quite get close enough to make a move on the leader.

*NOTHING VENTURE, NOTHING WIN:  Realizing that their cars couldn't compete straight up with either the Lotii or the McLarens, Red Bull rolled the dice and went with three-stop strategies for both of their drivers.  For Seb Vettel, it paid off; he was one lap away from getting a podium spot as the race ended... the one lap lost with the aborted start.  For Mark Webber, the strategy failed; he was in 5th when he made his third stop, resumed in 8th, and was unable to make the new tires work.  He finished in 8th.

*RED STORM RISING:  While HWMNBN was never within sniffing distance of the podium at any time during the race, he still managed to increase his lead in the driver's championship by finishing fifth.  With second-place Webber in 8th, the lead is now 40 points... which means that, in the worst possible case, the Ferrari driver could DNF the next race, Webber could win, and HWMNBN would still have a 15-point lead.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Mumbles Raikkonen looked exactly like The Iceman of old today, relentlessly closing in on the leader without ever putting a wheel wrong.  Only a KERS problem kept him from making a serious attempt at the lead.  If there was ever any doubt to his ability to win a race, he buried it today.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Like Raikkonen, if there was any doubt that Lotus had a serious chance to win this year, the race today put paid to it.  2-3 on the podium, with both drivers having had good runs at the leader at various times in the race.  They're close, and Raikkonen and Grosjean look like they'll make it happen sooner rather than later.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  On Lap 45, Mumbles Raikkonen came into the pits for his last stop of the race.  As he came out, his teammate Lettuce Grosjean was thundering down the front straight at full steam.  As Raikkonen crossed the pit exit line, the two were neck and neck.

Raikkonen, on the inside, had the racing line, but Grosjean the momentum.  So Mumbles, being a cold-blooded Finn, decided to make life difficult for his teammate.  Very difficult.  In the process, he probably caused multiple cardiac arrests on the Lotus pit wall.

Tires interlaced, the two headed right for the outside of the turn.  Mumbles, not caring that it was his teammate to his left, kept pushing outside.  Grosjean had two choices: abandon the turn or crash the two of them out of the race.

Wisely, he headed for the run-off area and let his teammate keep 2nd.  Just behind the two of them, Seb Vettel yelled "drat".  So Mumbles Raikkonen, for holding your place against your teammate, here's your Move of the Race!

*MOOOOO-OOOOVE OF THE RACE:  On Lap 48, Hazzan Maldonado decided that he needed to get past Force India's Paul di Resta.  He had an entire track-width to work with as he pulled alongside the Scot into a right-hand turn... and then he flicked the Williams' steering wheel to the left.

The result was a hard thump to the side of the Force India, which was shoved off the track.  Unsurprisingly, the Marshals took a dim view of this tactic and gave Maldonado a drive-through penalty a few laps later.  There's nobody in the field right now that is as blatantly dangerous as Maldonado; here's your Mooooo, and you now have a month to get over yourself, jerk.



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July 28, 2012

F1 Quals: Hungary 2012

How quickly things can change.  Let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2012 Grand Prix of Hungary:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.794 1:21.060 1:20.953
2 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:22.755 1:21.657 1:21.366
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:22.948 1:21.407 1:21.416
4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.028 1:21.618 1:21.583
5 Mumbles Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:22.234 1:21.583 1:21.730
6 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:22.095 1:21.598 1:21.844
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:22.203 1:21.534 1:21.900
8 Hazzan Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:22.475 1:21.504 1:21.939
9 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:22.271 1:21.697 1:22.343
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:22.176 1:21.653 1:22.847
11 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:22.829 1:21.715
12 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:21.912 1:21.813
13 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:22.079 1:21.895
14 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:22.110 1:21.895
15 Gandalf Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:22.801 1:22.300
16 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:22.799 1:22.380
17 Slappy Schumacher Mercedes 1:22.436 1:22.723
18 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:23.250

19 Heikki Kovalaineninnie Caterham-Renault 1:23.576

20 The Red Menace
Caterham-Renault 1:24.167

21 Charles ToothPic Marussia-Cosworth 1:25.244

22 Tim O'Glockenspiel Marussia-Cosworth 1:25.476

23 Pete Rose
HRT-Cosworth 1:25.916

24 Narain Kittylitter HRT-Cosworth 1:26.178

Q1 107% Time

Just a few races ago, McLaren couldn't get out of their own way.  They couldn't qualify, they couldn't do a pitstop without trying to put five tires and a tow hitch on the chassis at which point it would burst into flames, and half of their drivers couldn't run faster than a GP2 car.  Now?  Well, look at it.  Pole and fourth, and nobody ever even came close to challenging Hamilton all day.  He made it look easy, and his teammate always wins in Hungary when it rains... and there's a 100% chance of heavy rain during the race.  Meanwhile, Red Bull is being scrutineered to death, first with the whole illegal engine mapping thing that came out on Thursday, and now they are suspected of violating Parc Ferme rules and adjusting ride height without tools and while the cars were on lockdown.  Haven't heard anything about a penalty yet, but the performance of the Austrian team is perhaps slipping a bit.  After Q1, Vettel and Webber were 16th and 17th: just barely avoided relegation, in other words.  Webber didn't make it out of Q2.  Yes, Vettel is third, but it took quite a lap to get that high.  So it's lookin' like a McLaren runaway, right?

Nnnnnnnnnnot so fast there bunky.  We've got some Lotuses to deal with, and the rain should help them more than it does McLaren.  I think Button is going to win, if only because I like the storyline of him winning every wet race in Hungary, but really it's up for grabs.  I could easily see any of the top six standing on the top step after the race.

But it's supposed to be a wet race... anything could happen.  Well, maybe not HRT winning, but even that's possible when it rains.  I'm just glad that Slappy is so far down the grid; if he was up towards the front, I think my head would be in definite danger of going kablooey.

Race is in the morning... the F1U! team will be all over it, and we'll see you back here tomorrow!

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July 27, 2012

F1 Practice: Hungary 2012

It never rains in Hungary.  Ever.  Okay, twice.  But in this wacky season things have never gone the way we've expected.  Ever.  And now that the F1 Circus has brought themselves to Hungary, they zigged when I was expecting them to zag, and I'm about to give up and stop trying to ever predict what the teams are going to do.  It's just not worth it anymore.

See, P2 started under partly sunny skies, but with about 45 minutes gone in the session, the rains came.  The funny thing was that the FIA was saying that the rain'll only last a few minutes, and it'll be merely a light drizzle, no problem at all.  Then Heikki Kovaleinninninnie discovered that the FIA sucks at weather prediction.  Of course, long-time readers of F1U! knew that already.  Anyway, Heikki was driving along, driving along, then SPLOOSH! and off he went into the kittylitter.  The rain fell for about a half-hour, and it wasn't until close to the end of the session that anybody really went out on rain tires... which is where I'm confused.  See, the weather forecast for race day is... well, SPEED's grid-walk guy, Will Buxton, put it best when he described the upcoming rains as "mildly biblical."  If what I've been seeing is any indication, the first Grand Prix of Korea is going to look like a water balloon.  So the teams had a chance to get some wet-weather running, and nobody took it.  At least, not until there was deep standing water in some places, deep enough to prevent safe running at all, as Slappy Schumacher found out when he... just couldn't turn at one point.  Hello, barriers!  I just don't understand why, in the run-up to the heavy rain, they didn't jump at the chance to get wet-weather practice in.  There was at least 15 minutes there that they could have gotten some useful data.  Ah well.  That's why they're in F1, and I just write about the sport. 

Kittylitter, Massa, HWMNBN, Hamilton, Senna
Taken last week, to be fair.  I so much want to slap both Ferrari drivers.  Quals in the morning, see you then!

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July 26, 2012

A Summer Malaise?

I suppose.  Heaven knows it's been bloody hot enough to make Satan at least think about putting ice cubes in his Tab, and I've never been a fan of hot anyway.  10 days of 100° or more is something of a record here in Duckford... and four of those were in a row, the first time that's happened since 1934.  So, yeah, it's been hot and it's sucked all the juice outta me.

Which goes a long way towards explaining why I come home from the Duck U Bookstore, eat something, then either pass out or play Skyrim or do something that isn't blogging... or at least isn't good or insightful or funny blogging, at any rate.  Whether or not this blog has ever actually had good, insightful or funny content is an exercise best left to the reader.  Just don't tell me about it, because I might cry.

All of which is my long-winded way of saying yes, I know I've not been writing a whole helluva lot recently.  Obviously there's a F1 race coming this weekend (and now they're saying it's gonna rain in Hungary on Sunday.  Yes, the entire country), and I've plans to get the Ep01 writeup for Ben-To done, too.  So maybe there'll be writing done.  At least I've got aircon at Pond Central... Mr Carrier is my hero.

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July 24, 2012

Skyrim Knows How I Feel

Yep, that about covers it.

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July 23, 2012

F1 on SPEED!: Hungary 2012

I'm sure there are mixed feelings in the hallways of SPEED! right now.  On the one hand, their flagship series, Formula 1, has finally returned to their control after four races in the claws of the FOX mothership.  On the other hand, their midseason debut race is... the Grand Prix of Hungary.  Yee-eee-shhhhh!  Still, it's theirs and nobody can take that away from them.  Let's take a look at the track map:

Yee-eee-shhhh!  Okay, look, it's no secret that the Hungaroring is my least favorite circuit on the calendar.  I like it even less than the bland and repetitive Tilkedromes.  To give it the credit it's due, the track is supposed to be outstanding for those in attendance.  It's built into a natural bowl, so I gather you can see most of the track from where-ever you sit.  So it's got that going for it.  Which is nice.

Of course, that same natural bowl traps what humidity there is, and it's the height of summer when the F1 Circus sets up the tents, so the heat generally reaches what the weather nabobs call "god forsaken".  Oh, and it's usually quite dusty, so the track never really rubbers in.  In other words, it's a bloody hellhole to race on.  Some drivers claim to like the place, but the majority despise the place.

Unless it rains.  Then all bets are off and Jenson Button wins.  See, it's only rained twice during the race, in 2006 and 2011, and Button has won both of them.  Let's see if it's a good time to bet on ol' JB... (rapidly checks Budapest weather forecast)... nope, sunny and hot.

So, unpleasant to drive, it's slow, twisty, there's only one real passing zone on the whole darn circuit... heck, is it any wonder I hate the place?  Well, the Legendás Műsorszóró Csapat will tell the whole sordid tale for us this weekend!  Let's take a look at the schedule:
P1: 3a - 430a streaming
P2: 7a - 840a live on SPEED!
P3: 4a - 5a streaming
Quals: 7a - 830a plausibly live on SPEED!
2012 Grand Prix of Hungary: 630a - 9a live on SPEED!
(all times Pond Central)

Of course, F1 Update! will be all over the weekend like a cheap suit on rice.  See you then!

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July 22, 2012

F1 Update!: Germany 2012

In contrast to the sopping wet Qualifying, the skies over the F1 circus was partly cloudy as they waited for the lights to go out.  Would it stay dry?  Would HWMNBN, the season's first two-time winner be able to become the first three-time winner?  Or would national hero Seb Vettel finally win his home race?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2012 Grand Prix of Germany!

*WE'VE SEEN THIS ONE BEFORE, JUST WITH DIFFERENT ACTORS:  When the lights went out and the grid accelerated away, polesitter HWMNBN's Ferrari charged away and headed for the hills.  While Vettel wanted dearly to chase after him, he had to spend the first couple of laps fending off a concerted attack from Mercedes' Slappy Schumacher.  By the time the silver arrow had been dealt with, the red car had a few seconds in hand over the Red Bull, and it looked like HWMNBN had every intention of keeping that way.

*RED HOT LEADER ON BACKMARKER ACTION: It stayed that way through the first round of pit stops, with Jenson Button, in what must be considered a surprise third place, around five seconds back.  As the race neared the halfway point, it was obvious that Vettel was quicker than HWMNBN, closing the lead down to six-tenths of a second and looking like he was going to blow the red car away with the aid of DRS.  But it never happened, in part because the Ferrari driver made good use of terrain, i.e., Marussia's Charles ToothPic.  Just as it looked like Vettel would be able to get past with the speed boost from the open slot-wing, HWMNBN got the same bonus.  Y'see, the DRS detection system does not differentiate between leaders and backmarkers... if you're within one second of a car in front of you in the detection zone, you get to use the DRS, even if the car in front is in last place.  So at that time, HWMNBN got to stay ahead, and put a car in between him and Vettel to boot, but surely that wouldn't last, and it didn't.  But then the Red Bull driver had to contend with another annoyance... Lewis Hamilton. 

*PULLING GUARD:  To say that Hamilton was having a bad day would be an understatement.  At the beginning of Lap 2, he ran over a carbon fiber shard and suffered a ruined tire.  As he limped his way around the Hungaroring, he bemoaned his fate, even going so far as to get on the radio and say that the team should retire the car.  He managed to get to the pit, the team checked him over and sent him back out... nearly a lap down with sixty-odd left to go.  But after his second stop around Lap 35, he came out of the pits a lap down, but right behind Vettel (and just ahead of his teammate), and with fresh tires.  Much to the Red Bull driver's surprise, Hamilton attacked, got past, then tried to go after the Ferrari... perhaps halfheartedly.  "I don’t see the point in him trying to race us," said Vettel afterwards. "It is a bit stupid to race the leaders."  As it was, Hamilton could not catch HWMNBN to unlap himself, and maybe kinda held up Vettel a bit while his teammate dove into the pits.

*WOW THAT WAS FAST:  A few races ago, McLaren couldn't do a pitstop without it all ending in tears, flying tireguns and lost places.  Not this time.  Button came in, got a fresh set of tires and got out again.  He had been stopped for 2.31 seconds.  When Vettel stopped next lap, Red Bull could not match that and Button passed him for second place.  He then set sail for the Ferrari in the lead.

*FAIL, AND FAIL AGAIN:  He tried.  He really did.  He closed down on the red car, pulling to within a half-second, but no closer, and perhaps killed his tires in the process.  Ultimately, Button had to stop attacking for the lead and start defending his position from Vettel's attacks.  In fact, on Lap 66, Vettel made his move around the outside of  the Hairpin.  Button defended, pushing Vettel wide, but the Red Bull still got by...

...at this point, the F1U! team was yelling at the TV that this was illegal as Vettel had left the racing surface.  When honorary F1U! team member Vaucaunson's Duck asked if anything was going to happen to the reigning world champion, the jaded response was "not a chance."  The race ended with HWMNBN leading Vettel, who was a second ahead of Button.

*...AND THEN:  The FIA had been keeping a gimlet eye on Red Bull all race, and had been made aware of Vettel's transgression.  Shortly after the race, the stewards handed down their judgement: a drive-through penalty.  As the penalty was given after the race, it was changed to a standard "add 20 seconds to his race time."  This dropped Vettel to fifth place, promoting Button to 2nd and Mumbles Raikkonen to the final step on the podium.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Other than the first race of the year, Jenson Button has had a terrible season.  It was nice to see him fighting for the win again, and he drove an excellent strategic race.  Well deserved.

*TEAM OF THE RACE: Sauber.  Yes, Sauber! Gandalf finished 4th, Sergio Perez 6th, and they proved that they're the best of the midpack by routinely powering by Force India all day.  Heck of a result for the "privateer" team.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  On Lap 15, Slappy Schumacher was hunting down Nico Hulkenberg for 7th place.  Heading into the braking zone, he was in perfect position.  Meanwhile, some distance behind, Mumbles Raikkonen seemed to be out of the squabble.

Into the turn, Slappy dove inside Hulkenberg, slipping past and forcing the Force India to go wide into the next turn...

...when from out of nowhere, Mumbles ignored his braking altogether and still somehow managed to make the turn, getting by Hulkenberg and nearly surprising Slappy in the process.

For his banzai move from out of nowhere, we'll give Mumbles Raikkonen the MotR!  Good job!

*MOOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE RACE:  There really weren't any, so we're bending our rules that prevent Lap 1 incidents from winning either Move or Mooooo-ooove of the Race awards.  Heading into Turn 1 at the start, Felipe Massa just drove directly into the back of Lettuce Grosjean.  The result was... predictable.

The carbon fiber shards left behind were the cause of Lewis Hamilton's shredded tire, and race.  Good going, Massa... here's your Moooooo.

Drivers quotes will be dropped this week, as this F1U! is late enough as-is.  Next week is the Grand Prix of Hungary... god help us.  See you then!

Almost forgot!  Here's the latest episode of McLaren Tooned!


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July 21, 2012

Saturday Night Tunage XIV

By request, it's the return of Saturday Night Tunage with DJ Wonderduck!

Yes, "by request!"  At dinner this past Tuesday with Vaucaunson's Duck and his wife Geese, The Pond came up in conversation.  It turns out that both are avid readers of this little website, and she particularly liked Saturday Night Tunage... and wanted a return.  Well, I had been planning to do one last weekend, but the latest outage of Pond Central's broadband connection (caused by a van knocking down a telephone pole) put paid to that idea.

Knowing that someone out there actually wants it, here's the newest installment of Saturday Night Tunage, the catch-all edition!  It's music time!


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F1 Quals: Germany 2012

Well, it started dry.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2012 Grand Prix of Germany:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:16.073 1:38.521 1:40.621
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:16.393 1:38.309 1:41.026
3 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:16.500 1:39.382 1:41.496
4 Slappy Schumacher Mercedes 1:16.686 1:38.010 1:42.459
5 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:16.271 1:39.467 1:43.501
6 Rabbi Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:16.181 1:38.731 1:43.950
7 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:16.507 1:38.659 1:44.113
8 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:16.221 1:37.365 1:44.186
9 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:16.352 1:39.703 1:44.889
10 Mumbles Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:15.693 1:39.729 1:45.811
11 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:16.516 1:39.789
12 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:15.726 1:39.933
13 Gandalf Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:16.481 1:39.985
14 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:16.265 1:40.212
15 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:16.685 1:40.574
16 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:16.426 1:40.752
17 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:15.988 1:41.551
18 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:16.741

19 Heikki Kovalaineninnie Caterham-Renault 1:17.620

20 The Red Menace
Caterham-Renault 1:18.531

21 Charles ToothPic Marussia-Cosworth 1:19.220

22 Tim  O'Glockenspiel Marussia-Cosworth 1:19.291

23 Pete Rose
HRT-Cosworth 1:19.912

24 Narain Kittylitter HRT-Cosworth 1:20.230

Q1 107% Time

The entirety of Q1 was run in the dry, but just as some of the survivors made their way to the track for Q2, it began to rain.  Inters were the tire of the moment, with everybody thinking they'd have time for one flying lap on the faster of the wet-weather tires before it got too soggy for them. 

They were wrong.  By the time the cars had finished their out-laps and begun their flying laps, the circuit had just crossed the line between Inters and Full Wets... you could still use the Intermediate tires, but the water-pumping abilities of the bigger galoshes were probably the better bet.  The drivers were game, certainly, and struggled to guide their cars around the track on the less-effective tires, but times were... lackluster at best.  Amazingly, nobody managed to end up in the kittylitter or the safety barriers, but only by the greatest of good luck.  Once everybody was on the Full Wets, the rain got even heavier.  It wasn't quite "grumpy old man building a boat in the pit lane" wet, but pretty bad.

Q3 was even worse, with the heavy rain of Q2 mixed with pooling and rivers running cross-track.  At the beginning of the session, HWMNBN was on the radio suggesting that there was too much water for safety and there should be a delay.  Denied, he went out and gained pole by being one of the very last drivers to set a flying lap as the session headed towards an end.  By that time there was a... let's call it less-wet... line on the circuit.  The Ferrari driver took advantage, gaining another pole despite Red Bull's Sebby Vettel getting one final shot at his time.  A quick off-track excursion ended that threat and solidified HWMNBN's pole.

Three drivers will be taking five gridspot penalties for gearbox changes: Lettuce Grosjean, Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber.  Yes, that means that Slappy Schumacher will be starting third.  Yes, this makes the F1U! team cry.

The race tomorrow is supposed to be run in the dry.  We'll see... and F1 Update! will be all over it.  See you then!

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July 20, 2012

F1 Practice: Germany 2012

Welcome to rainy Silverstone!

Nah, just kidding.  It's raining in Hockenheim as well.  Remember what I said a few days ago about these practice sessions being particularly important?  Well, the rain put paid to all that!  Oh, sure, they got some data on Intermediate tires in the first session, and a little more on the full wets in P2, but none of that is what the teams were looking for: dry and slick. 

It's not just for setup purposes.  Every race there's new pieces of kit tacked onto a car (or taken off!), all in the quest for that extra tenth of a second.  Back in the old days, when testing wasn't banned, the teams would put in 50000km or more, just cranking lap after lap to see what this new piece or that new piece could do.  Nowadays, though, the Friday practice sessions have become the test sessions... and the new bits and pieces aren't getting run in the dry.  There's gotta be a lot of frustration out there.

Left, Felipe Massa.  Right, race engineer Rob Smedley.  Center, probably the most comfortable chair ever.
Yep, obviously frustrated.

Nothing really happening other than that.  Quals in the morning, of course.  See you then!

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July 18, 2012

It's Just Motorsports Pr0n, That's All.

A couple of days ago, I got an e-mail from VonKrag, saying in effect "You gotta see this!"  So I watched it.  Then I set it to load in at 720p and just drooled over the video again.  Here it is:

Do yourself a favor.  Watch it in HD.  It's worth it.

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July 16, 2012

Adventures In Dump Table Diving

A few days ago, I was wandering around a local drugstore, stocking up on gatorade and shampoo, when I noticed a couple of newly filled dump tables in the aisle.  For those not in the retail know, a dump table is the technical name for those things you find bargains on... y'know, like "wow, I can get a DVD for $2.00!"  Usually they're crap, but every now and again you'll find something excellent.  Like the time I found the director's cut DVD of Blade Runner for $5.99, or 10 scissors (of varying sizes) for $5.00.  This time, the table was full of... well, stuff, none of which I needed.  Except down at the very bottom, there were some forehead-mounted LED flashlights (two for $4.99)... and these:

Six single-LED cliplights.  All of them for $5.00.  FIVE FRICKIN' DOLLARS!  Each one uses three watch-batteries; to replace those would cost more than five bucks!  These lights will revolutionize my duckphoto stage set!

I love finding crap stuff like this.

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F1 on TV!: Germany 2012

After an odd weekend in Britain, where it rained all weekend except during the race, the F1 Circus loads up and makes its way across the Channel like so many carbon-fiber B-17s*.  Destination: Germany!  Located in the Upper Rhine valley, the city of Hockenheim hosted its first race at the Hockenheimring in 1932.  The circuit was rather badly damaged during the war, with the track surface torn up by tank treads and pretty much all facilities razed to the ground.  Fortunately for all concerned, the area had bumper crops of both tobacco and asparagus for many years afterwards, to support the city while they rebuilt the circuit.  Nowadays, the Hockenheimring shares the Grand Prix of Germany with the Nurburgring GP-Strecke, aka Nurb Jr.... and this time around, it's the turn of the Spargelstraße to host!  Let's take a look at the track map:

It is, admittedly, a pale substitute of the "old" version of the circuit.  Where there's a right-hand turn at Turn 2, the old circuit went blasting straight on into the nearby forest until it reached a chicane called  "Clark."  Named after Jim Clark, the legendary driver who was killed in a crash on that straight, the chicane slowed the cars down for the famous Ostkurve, before they came blasting back down another seemingly infinitely long straight, returning to the "modern" track at what is now Turn 6.  The high speeds involved were only one reason for the truncating of the circuit; the long, long straights were out of sight of both the grandstands and the F1 cameras for all intents and purposes.  The new layout at least allows people to see the race.

Unfortunately for everybody, what they've seen in the past has been pretty much a series of parades and processionals.  Welcome to another Tilkedrome, in other words.  For all intents and purposes, it's Sebby Vettel's home track: his hometown is a half-hour away.  Of course, with five out of the 24 drivers being German (Vettel, Slappy, Rosberg, Hulkenberg, O'Glockenspiel), it's a popular place.  The track itself is your typical Tilke abomination, long straights followed by tight turns, then stumbling into a tacked-on "Stadium" section.  The asphalt is neither particularly abrasive nor slippery, and with this being the first time we've had Pirelli tires here, it wouldn't matter either way: nobody has any data to work with!

So the practice sessions will be particularly important this time around!  Fortunately we'll have the good men of the Legendary Announce Team with us all weekend long... even on FOX, thankfully the last time this season we'll have to put up with tape delay!  Here's the schedule as I know it:

FRIDAY: 7a - 830a, P2 Live
SATURDAY: 7a - 830a, Quals plausibly Live
SUNDAY: 1030a - 11a, Pre-race show on SPEED
                  11a - 1p, 2012 Grand Prix of Germany on FOX via tape delay
                  1p - 130p, Post-race show on SPEED.
I don't know the streaming events this time around; they weren't listed on the SPEED.com website that I could find.  Of course, we here at the F1U! will be all over the weekend like butter on asparagus, with special guest Vaucaunson's Duck.  We'll see you then!

*Don't mention the war.

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I'm Back.

The Pond's internet connection has been down since ~3pm Saturday; sometime between 1am Monday morning and 7am Monday it came back.  Got a lot of backlog cleared from my DVR!

Regular blog programming will resume this evening.

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July 13, 2012

The Next Series: Voting!

You've nominated shows.  I've whittled them down to series I'd be willing to do, then added some titles as well.  And now... you get to vote.  But first, the final nominations:


Perhaps a strange choice, since it's on my list of favorite series of all time, but oh, is it ripe for the pickin'!  Little girls with terminal illnesses or severe injuries are taken away from their families, turned into cyborgs, trained as assassins and let loose on the enemies of Italy.  That's about as perfect a setup for a Wonderduck Episodic Review ever.


Humanity is fading away.  The fairies have come.  They're weird.  There's skinned poultry running around.  What more do you need to know?  (note: I've gotten all this from reading other reviews, I have no first-hand knowledge of this show)


Happy-go-lucky nuclear family hijinks.  No, wait, that's wrong.  Let's try again...  Dark. Grim. Violent. Cute. This is the way the world ends.  I'm almost SCARED to try Elfen Lied, it could be the greatest review fodder ever... or the worst. 


High school guy gets asked on a date by a beautiful classmate.  Woo!  Who then turns into a dark angel and kills him.  Oh.  He gets better.  Yay!  Because a devil brings him back to life as a servant.  Oh.  As far as shows go, it could be fun.  It could suck.  Either could make for good review stock!


The best show about martial arts combat for half-priced bento you'll ever find.  Fanservice, action, stupidity, cute girls, AND a surprisingly good story... it's nigh-on perfect for a review series!  I really liked it, wouldn't mind visiting it again to savage in one of my patented episodic reviews... I mean, I didn't like it THAT much.  Heh.


Girls with guns?  That's for amateurs!  In Upotte!, the girls are guns!  Really, how can this be bad?  It doesn't take itself seriously, except when talking tech-specs or everybody is shooting one another at short range.  I watched the first six episodes or so then let it go, but it showed great promise as a review topic.

So there are the choices.  It's up to you, my readers, now.  Voting closes at 10pm Central Pond Time on Sunday, July 15th.  One vote each, so make it count!  And let the "best" show win.

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July 12, 2012

Midway: The Speech

Want to hear a lot of great stuff about the Battle of Midway, from the mouth of one of the authors of the book Shattered Sword?  Clear an hour, bunkie, because here's Jonathan Parshall discussing it in the  General Raymond E. Mason, Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series speech at the National World War II Museum on the 70th anniversary of Midway.

A lot of good stuff there.  I'll admit that none of it was new to me, but it's safe to say that I know more about Midway than average... in part because of Parshall's work in Shattered Sword.  I'd love to have heard his thoughts on The Flight To Nowhere, though as he points in the Q&A session afterwards, there's so much to discuss regarding Midway that there's no way to get to it all in an hour.  Still a darn fine job.

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July 09, 2012

The Next Series: Nominations!

Well... the episodic reviews of High School of the Dead were a success, I think.  What the heck, lets do it again!  Last time, I chose the series you got to vote for... this time, I want your help!  Give me the name of two series that you'd like to see me bring my special brand of reviewing magic to in the comments.  I'll compile the list, add a couple of titles to it, THEN open it up for voting.

There are a few restrictions, though.  I'd prefer 12 or 13 episode series over 24-26 eps.  They need to be easily obtainable.  I'm not opposed to older series, but I find newer "widescreen" series to be easier to work with, picture-wise.  I'd also really like a show where things actually occur; I love the ARIA franchise, for example, but doing one of my episodic reviews for any of the three series would be pretty much impossible.  Nominations are open until 10pm Central Pond Time on Friday, July 13th.

So let's hear it!  What do you want me to do?

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:28 PM | Comments (22) | Add Comment
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This Is The Greatest Thing EVER!

I knew McLaren had an institutional sense of humor, sure... but nothing like this!

I can't imagine Ferrari doing this, can you?

Posted by: Wonderduck at 06:24 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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