October 31, 2013

Halloween 2013


The classic vampire duckie.  You don't need to fear for your life, you only need to fear for your rye bread. 

Bwah-hah-hah-hah-hah-haaaaaaaaaaa!

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October 30, 2013

Something Must Change

Oh look, a bird.

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October 28, 2013

F1 on NBCSN: Abu Dhabi 2013

Keenly observant readers of The Pond may have noticed that there's been something of a F1 interest decline of late... and by "of late," I mean "most of the season."  I surely can't slip anything past these clever readers, you brilliant people you.  The never-ending domination of Red Bull and Vettel has sapped much of the joy out of the sport for me.  Which brings us to Abu Dhabi, the next race on the F1 calendar.  Let's take a look at the track map, shall we?

It shouldn't come as any surprise to hear that there's probably not been a race this year that I've been less interested in than this week's.  Both the Driver's and the Constructor's championships have been won.   Abu Dhabi may as well have been designed for Red Bull cars.  The race after this one is the US Grand Prix, which has the cachet of being... well, HERE.  The race after that is Brazil, the last one of the season.  But Abu Dhabi?  What does it have going for it?

Right, exactly.  Sure, there's plenty of drama left: will Mercedes or Ferrari end up as the second-best constructor?  Will Force India, with a 23 point lead over Sauber, end up choking away sixth place?  Will Raikkonen catch HWMNBN for 2nd place in the driver's championship, which would make for really interesting news going into next year, when they'll be teammates.  Drama indeed... but the Wonderduck that would have written thousands of words for the fight for 10th place in the driver's championship between Paul di Resta (40 points) and Nico Hulkenberg (39 points) isn't the Wonderduck sitting in front of the keyboard these days.

I miss that Wonderduck.

Here's the coverage on NBCSN:
FRIDAY
8a - 930a: Practice 2 live
SATURDAY
1230p - 2p: Quals definitively not live
SUNDAY
630a - 9a: 2013 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi

I'll be here... will you?  I wouldn't blame you if you weren't, given what I've just talked about, but I hope you show up. 

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October 27, 2013

F1 Update!: Inda 2013

There was not a cloud in the sky when the Thundering Herd formed up on the grid for today's race in Upper Noida.  There didn't need to be, as the sky was invisible from all the smog.  No matter, race time approached, and polesitter Hannibal Vettel had a chance to join the F1 Immortals.  Would he manage the feat of winning four consecutive driver's championships, or would Ferrari's HWMNBN manage to extend the fight for another race?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2013 Grand Prix of India!

*NOPE:  The lights went out, releasing the straining field towards the first turn like a quarrel from a crossbow.  For Vettel, on soft tires and with nobody in front of him, this was no problem.  HWMNBN though, on medium rubber and mired in 8th place, was about to discover why the midfield is often called the "carbon fiber zone."  He lost one of the endplates of his front wing on Mark Webber's rear tire in Turn 1, then suffered a big impact with Jenson Button in Turn 4.  Thus ended any chance the Spaniard of extending the championship chase as he was forced to pit for a new nose, emerging buried in 20th and never to be heard from again.  He would finish the race in 11th, out of the points.

*THE REST:  With the question of whether Vettel would be crowned Champion out of the way early, it merely became a question of whether he would win the race, too.  By the end of the first lap, he was almost three seconds in front of the Mercedes boys and his strategy had become clear: run as hard as he could for as long as he could on the soft tires, then switch to the mediums and let everybody else pit to regain places.  After turning what were, essentially, two qualifying laps, he had nearly five seconds in hand.  What WAS surprising is that he stopped immediately after.  He emerged in 15th and immediately began his cruise to the front.  And it was a cruise, too: very few of the drivers ahead of him bothered to put in even a token effort to keep him behind.  Why bother, when he would have the benefit of DRS eventually?    By Lap 10, he was in 5th place.  By Lap 29, he was back in the lead, though he would pit a couple of laps later.  This mattered not, as everybody around him pitted slightly earlier and he would regain the lead by Lap 35.

*CHALLENGE OVER:  There was only one car showing any signs of being able to duel with Vettel today, and that was the RB9 of Mark Webber, Vettel's erstwhile teammate.  While it was questionable as to whether or not he could have caught the leader, if there was anybody in the field willing to give it a shot, it'd be the Aussie.  After all, he's retiring after the season, and it's not like the two of them are exactly friends.  Even that went the way of Vettel, when Webber's gearbox began to malfunction.  Moments later, he was told to park the car with a failing alternator.  While it's not clear if Vettel had the same malfunction, the team DID tell their young champion to stop using KERS and even his drinks button, all the better to relieve strain on his alternator.

*THE END:  A few laps later, Vettel swept across the finish line, almost 30 seconds ahead of second place Nico Rosberg in what might have been the single most dominating race the combination of Red Bull strategists and Red Bull driver had put together.  Flat-out amazing.  Not only was it his third straight win at India, and not only did it clinch his fourth consecutive driver's championship, but it also clinched the Constructor's Championship for the team as well.  Possibly even more amazing is that this is Adrian Newey's 10th constructor's championship as a car designer.  There's rumors that Newey plans to retire after 2014, to take up the challenge of America's Cup boat design.  We here at F1U! hope that happens; Newey is so good at his job that his abiltiy completely unbalances the championship.  But it takes a good driver to get the most out of the car, and that's what Red Bull has in Sebastian Vettel, four-time World Driver's Champion.  The donuts Vettel performed on the front straight after winning cost him a reprimand and €25000, but we think it was worth it.

Next weekend, they race in Abu Dhabi.  See you then, see you there!

Oh, and here's McLaren's Tooned, Ep06.

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October 26, 2013

F1 Quals: India 2013

This is ridiculous.  It's like the other drivers aren't even trying any more.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2013 Grand Prix of India:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Hannibal Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:25.943 1:24.568 1:24.119
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:25.833 1:25.304 1:24.871
3 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:25.802 1:25.259 1:24.941
4 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:25.665 1:25.097 1:25.047
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:25.793 1:25.389 1:25.201
6 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:25.819 1:25.191 1:25.248
7 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:25.883 1:25.339 1:25.334
8 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:25.934 1:24.885 1:25.826
9 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:26.107 1:25.365 1:26.153
10 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:25.574 1:25.458 1:26.487
11 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:25.673 1:25.519
12 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:25.908 1:25.711
13 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:26.164 1:25.740
14 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:26.155 1:25.798
15 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:26.178 1:26.134
16 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:26.057 1:26.336
17 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:26.577

18 No Joke Here Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:26.842

19 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:26.970

20 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:27.105

21 Charles ToothPic Caterham-Renault 1:27.487

22 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:28.138


.752 of a second per lap.  Really?  Why even bother?  Here's the F1U! for Sunday's race: "Vettel wins by 20 seconds.  What a shock."  The only hope we have is that HWMNBN is on the medium tire and Vettel on the soft.  The mediums are wearing well, the softs are going about six laps before they die... maybe HWMNBN will be able to parlay this into something other than a 7th place finish.  I'm not hopeful, but maybe.

I'm rooting for HWMNBN.  Shoot me now.

Race in the morning.  See you afterwards!

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October 25, 2013

F1 Practice: India 2013

If this was in Los Angeles, we'd say the inversion layer had moved in.  If it was in China, one would have to assume the factories were going full speed.

But this is in India, I suppose we'll have to say that the vindaloo is particularly spicy today.  The F1 homepage is claiming that it was foggy during practice, but fog doesn't change the sky color.  Fog doesn't give everything a dirty-orange hue.  Nope, we had smog out the ying-yang there in Upper Noida, which makes me wonder how that affects the engines.  I assume there's air filters, but I guess I don't really know!

One thing we do know is that the Indian cuisine claimed one driver this morning.  Paul di Resta apparently spent most of Thursday in his hotel room with a case of Delhi Belly.  Too much naan and gulab jamun, that'll do it every time.

In other news that'll send us scurrying to the loo, Hannibal Vettel was fastest in the second session... by nearly a half-second... over his teammate.  The next closest was Lettuce Grosjean, another third of a second adrift.  Did I mention that Vettel has been on the pole and led every lap of both races at India?  I think that bodes not well for HWMNBN's chances to win the Championship, particularly after he wound up with a gearbox full of neutrals in Practice 1. 

Maybe after he wins the championship, Vettel will move down to Marussia or something for a bit of fun.  Hey, we can dream, right?

Quals at 330am... see you sometime after that.

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October 24, 2013

I Need Some Photoshoop Help

Here is a picture:

(Click picture for a full-sized version)
In this picture from Ep09 of Hidamari Sketch X Honeycomb, the namesake of my new computer, Nori, has just hit Nazuna (aka "The Cabbage") with a sick burn.  I very much wish to make this picture my wallpaper, except for one thing: I dislike The Cabbage.  Either in the manga or the TV series, she's just a horrible, horrible character, all wimpy and pathetic.

So here's my request to you, the assembled Pond Scum.  Photoshoop The Cabbage out of the picture for me!  I really want to do it myself, but considering my rudimentary skills in Adobe's wonderful program, the universe will suffer Heat Death before I finish the task.  So I ask you, the computer wizards, the artists, the photoshoopers, to do me a favor and remove The Cabbage. 

I can make it worth your while... a complex post, a Duck U t-shirt, something like that.  Or just effusive praise and a lot of ego-boo!

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October 22, 2013

Librarian & Duck Do Dinner

So just before the Duck U Bookstore closed for the day, I got a phone call from The Librarian.  As it'd been a month or so since we last saw each other, she was like "hey, dinner," and I was all like "hey, cool, where," and she was like "sushi," and I did the whole "ace nifty" thing and hung up and got the store closed and, like, boogied out to go meet her.

I'd like to apologize for that sentence.

I showed up a couple of minutes late, as I am old and slow, but as it turns out it didn't matter.  The place of sushi was as crowded as I've ever seen it... on a Tuesday, no less.  It took nearly a half-hour for us to be waited upon, another half-hour for the food to be delivered.  But when it arrived... oh, when it arrived...

Special Guest Appearance from the hands of The Librarian!
Okay, yeah, my phone's camera sucks.  Chicago Board of Tourism Duckie was a gift from The Librarian, by the way, not part of the food.  I wasn't all that pleased with the Philadelphia rolls, but everything else was nummy.  My phone's obvious shortcomings as a camera aside, the sushi looked exactly like it was supposed to be used as a promotional picture for the place. 

Sorry, Vauc, we didn't get the BBQ Beef Rolls.

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October 21, 2013

F1 on NBCSN: India 2013

Namaste!  The next stop for the F1 Circus is the Buddh International Circuit in Upper Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India.  It's the third time Formula 1 has made the journey to the subcontinent, and it might just be the last.  With that in mind, let's take a look at the track map, shall we?

Sadly, India is off the calendar for 2014 due to political and scheduling issues.  It's supposed to come back in 2015, but nobody knows that for sure quite yet.  So if this is the last time we experience this course, it may be a memorable one: this could be a championship clinching race for Hannibal Vettel.  Should I mention that Vettel is also the only driver to have won in India?  I think I'll just quietly draw a veil over that sad fact and move on.

It's a fast circuit without much of the mickey-mousing that Hermann Tilke is justifiably reviled for.  Having said that, it's also not a technically difficult track to drive.  For example, Singapore is a technical challenge for a driver... there's no room for mistakes and a ton of places to make them.  India?  Not so much.  The layout is wide with plenty of runoff area, so if you do make a mistake, you wind up being able to just keep on driving, no huhu.  One thing that's quite pleasant about Buddh is that there's a decent amount of altitude change: almost 45 feet in the first three turns alone.  The track's big party piece is The Carousel, Turns 10-11-12.  Over 180° of awesome banked multi-line turn... yep, in theory two cars could run through it side-by-side at speed and neither would have to yield to avoid an accident.  In practice, not so much, but it COULD happen.

Well, the Legendary Announce Team will be bringing us their usual coverage this weekend... let's see what the schedule looks like!
FRIDAY
330a - 5a: Practice 2 live
SATURDAY
330a - 5a: Quals live
SUNDAY
4a - 630a: 2013 Grand Prix of India live

You'll note the half-hour starts up there... that's the fault of India's oddball timezones.  Just tell your DVR to look around, it'll find 'em on NBCSN.

Bring your Kingfishers, we could see a Champion crowned again...

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October 18, 2013

Sleep Good... Not For Blogging, But Good.

As terrifying as it is to think about, Duck U's midterms ended this past Tuesday.  The rest of the week was this odd beastie called "Fall Break."  Similar to Spring Break in that the Duck U fledgelings got a few days off from school, but completely dissimilar in that the weather is cold and ishy.  Anyway, on the Friday of Fall Break, the Duck U offices are closed... and when that happens, the Duck U Bookstore is closed as well!

Which meant that I only worked for a few hours today, after a meeting with the Duckford Visitor Bureau of course.  I was home by 4pm, and after some breakfast (no, I didn't mis-type; what else do you call the first meal of the day?) decided to take a nap.  Just a couple of wonderful, wonderful hours of blissful slumber, unconscious to the cares of the world, refreshing both the mind and the body.  Afterwards, I'd sit down and finally close out the first Evangelion movie writeup.  It's a good plan, let's go with it!  On three... one, two, three, sleep!

Four hours later, the plan had been crumpled up and thrown into a trashcan.  I can only assume I needed the sleep, but geehorseyfat, that sort of thing does play hob with the whole blogging thing.  Maybe tomorrow night... after working the football game, then dinner with Ph.Duck.

Hey, it could happen.

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October 17, 2013

My Brain At The Moment


Yep, that covers it.

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October 15, 2013

Pacific Rim

After having missed the movie Pacific Rim in the theatres this summer, I vowed that I would purchase a copy of it as soon as it became available.  This, I did not do.  In actuality, I pre-ordered the film in a Blu-Ray / DVD package close to three weeks ago.  When it was delivered this morning, I was very much like a duck in a rye bread store.  Sure, I couldn't actually DO anything with it until I got home, but it was here and that was all that mattered.

I came home, made some dinner, fired up the DVD player, and sat down to watch.  Now, understand something.  When it comes to watching movies at home alone, I tend to pause the film a few times... run to the bathroom, get something to drink, y'know, that sort of thing.  Not tonight.  Tonight, I didn't even notice the time passing.  From moment one to the post-credit scene, I was locked into the film.

Pacific Rim gave me everything I hoped for from this particular movie: giant robots punching giant monsters in the face.  Repeatedly.  In clever ways.  There are going to be two types of people who see flick: those who hate it, and those that realize that it's the best movie ever.

Let me stay that again, in a stylized way that makes it look like I'm shouting each word, then pausing dramatically afterwards or something:

BEST.

MOVIE.

EVER.


Now that I've gotten that out of the way... for an anime fan, Pacific Rim is probably the closest we'll ever get to a live-action Evangelion (giant robots punching giant angels monsters in the face), but without the whiny hero and with more Rinko Kikuchi.

Look, the film is full of cliches.  I got that, but here's the thing: you don't care.  It resonates with the kid in you and makes it jump up and down like it's full of chocolate and mountain dew. 

Watch it.  Love it.  Thank me later.  If I didn't have to go to work in the morning, I'd watch it again.

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October 13, 2013

(not-so-mini) F1 Update!: Japan 2013

It was a bright sunny day in Japan as the Thundering Herd took to the grid at Suzuka, led by Red Bull's Mark Webber.  How long would that last?  And would the Aussie, retiring at the end of the season, be able to stay up front?  Or would his teammate Hannibal Vettel, sitting next to him on the grid, manage to run away and hide as he's done so many times in the past?  This is your F1U! for the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix.

*THE RACE: The past two races have seen a grand total of one leader, total: Hannibal Vettel.  He's led every single lap run since the start of the Singapore Grand Prix.  But it became amazingly clear very quickly that this wasn't to be the same sort of race as we've seen of late: Vettel getting a good start, then running away and disappearing over the horizon.  No, instead both Red Bull drivers had less-than-stellar starts, the Lotus of Lettuce Grosjean jumped into the lead from fourth, and Mercedes' Shiv Hamilton managed to skewer himself on the front wing of Vettel.  It didn't do much damage to the Red Bull, despite Hannibal's squeals, but Hamilton had a ruined rear tire.  He was almost a lap down by the time he made it to the pits, and the team retired the car a few laps later.  Meanwhile, Lettuce slowly managed to inch away from the trailing Red Bulls, opening up a lead of a couple of seconds on Webber by Lap 10.  The Aussie was the first of the three drivers to pit, on Lap 11, followed a lap later by Grosjean in what was clearly a covering move by Lotus.  Vettel as usual made his tires last longer than his immediate competition and didn't stop until Lap 14.  After the pit stops, all three were on the hard tire, and the order was Grosjean, Webber and Vettel.  Until Red Bull decided to maximize their chances of a win, that is.  On Lap 22, after a remarkably short stint for hard tires, Webber was brought to the pits.  The team had switched him from a two-stop strategy to a three-stopper.  Amazingly, the Aussie came out in third place, as the top three cars had opened up a huge gap to the rest of the field.  In effect, there were two separate races going on today: the Podium Race, and Everybody Else.  This strategy shift turned the race from one taking place on the track to one taking place in the pits and the plotting tables... a type of  race that Red Bull has proven to be very good at.   As it turned out, staying on the two-stop strategy was the correct one, as Vettel wound up taking the lead after his second stop.  On tires eight laps newer than Grosjean's, Vettel passed the Lotus on Lap 40, functionally for the lead as Webber pitted on Lap 43 from first.  There was some possibility that Webber could have caught his teammate, but instead it took him some six laps to get past Grosjean; he could get close, but wasn't quite able to complete a move.  As it was, Vettel led Webber by seven seconds at the end, and Grosjean was two behind Webber.  The Ferrari of HWMNBN was nearly 37 seconds behind the Lotus.

*WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?: Vettel has now won five races in a row, something that's only happened a few times in the history of F1.  We didn't realize that Slappy Schumacher actually did it twice in 2004: a five-win streak followed by a seven-win streak.  That was the year we here at F1U! began watching Formula 1... we're amazed that we stuck with it.

*OH BY THE WAY...: The STBFTWC will probably have to wait one more race.  Vettel will go into the Grand Prix of India with a 90 point lead over HWMNBN.  If he finishes fifth or higher, he wins the driver's championship, no matter what HWMNBN does.  In effect, the Ferrari driver has to win out while STBFTWC has a historic string of breakdowns.

India in two weeks... break out the chapati, tikka masala and Kingfisher, everybody!  See you then.

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October 12, 2013

F1 Quals: Japan 2013

It's just after 9pm Pond Central, and I've only just now made it home from a busy day at work.  Yes, on a Saturday.  This is Homecoming Weekend, y'see, and more importantly, it's the first Homecoming after Duck U's name change which I don't think I've mentioned on here before.  Anyway, originally Duck U wasn't a U at all, but a "C", as in "College."  However, this past July 1st, we officially became Duck U, to massive acclaim from everybody but the alumni, who resoundingly said "meh" to the change... but they still showed up in droves today.  Throw in dinner with Ph.Duck, and voila, 9pm-ish.

All of which is my long-winded way of saying that I haven't watched Quals, and probably won't, not with the race only three hours away.  But here's the grid anyway:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:32.271 1:31.513 1:30.915
2 Hannibal Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:32.397 1:31.290 1:31.089
3 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:32.340 1:31.636 1:31.253
4 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:31.824 1:31.565 1:31.365
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:31.994 1:31.668 1:31.378
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:32.244 1:31.764 1:31.397
7 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:32.465 1:31.848 1:31.644
8 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:32.371 1:31.828 1:31.665
9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:32.377 1:31.662 1:31.684
10 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:32.606 1:31.838 1:31.827
11 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:32.718 1:31.989
12 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:32.286 1:31.992
13 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:32.613 1:32.013
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:32.673 1:32.063
15 Joke Isn't Funny Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:32.875 1:32.093
16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:32.804 1:32.485
17 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:32.890

18 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:33.357

19 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:34.320

20 Charles ToothPic Caterham-Renault 1:34.556

21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:34.879

22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:34.958


My heavens, it's someone OTHER than Vettel, Rosberg or Hamilton on pole... stop the presses!  Of course, the soon-to-be-four-time-world-champion, or STBFTWC, which I suspect means something really rude in Klingon, had a KERS failure in Q3, so there is that.  On the other hand, you know that Mark Webber isn't going to be particularly helpful to his so-called "teammate".  If he can avoid a Mark Webber Lousy Start® , we should be in for an interesting race indeed.

As an aside... if the STBFTWC wins and HWMNBN finishes eighth or lower, the STBFTWC will actually be the FTWC.  Go Webber!

Right, I'm going to go rest my weary bones.  F1U! tomorrow... see ya then.

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October 11, 2013

Merely Terrible Upgrades To Tragedy

Perhaps you remember the story of Maria De Villota, the Marussia test driver who last year was in a hideous accident?  The team was doing straight-line testing, going up and down a runway, with her behind the wheel.  When she brought the car in for servicing, it jerked forward and ran into the back of the team's transporter... which had its liftgate lowered.  The results were sub-optimal.

De Villota's skull wasn't so much broken as it was shattered like an egg dropped from the top of a tall building.  Thanks to the amazing skill of her surgeons, she not only survived the experience, but came off pretty well, all things considered.  To be sure, she was not unscathed: she lost her right eye, her sense of taste and smell, and suffered from severe headaches.  That's pretty good, if you ask me, when the alternative is... well, just look at that picture.  Over the past year, De Villota had more or less completely recovered from the accident.  She was married this past July, had been involved with the FIA in both auto safety and a women in motorsports council, and was even thinking about racing again.

Maria De Villota was found dead in her hotel room in Seville, Spain, this morning.  Authorities are saying that foul play was not expected, and her death was from "natural causes." Or, at least, natural for someone who had undergone the sort of accident she'd been in.  Her death came one year to the day that she held her first press conference after the accident.

She was in Seville to speak about her new book, Life Is A Gift, on Monday.

The thoughts and prayers of the entire F1Update! crew go out to her family and friends.  She was 33 years old.

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October 10, 2013

Nori Is Improved

So the only problem I had with my new computer, Nori, was that the keyboard that came with her was absolutely terrible.  Oh, don't get me wrong, it worked fine, and the wirelessness of it was a pleasant experience... but it was a chicklet.  That is, the keyboard is of chicklet-style, little square keys, like a laptop's keyboard except slightly less pleasurable to use.  You're expecting something comfortable to type upon when you have a desktop computer, after all.  However, all my keyboards still had PS/2 connectors, and Nori only had USB... so I had to use the terribad keyboard for a while.

Until today.

Not only is it a full size, full key keyboard with keys that actually CLICK! when you press down on them, but the Logitech G105 has LED backlighting as well!  It's lovely, particularly when you look at it through the viewfinder of my camera and it looks like the LEDs look like they're pulsing right-to-left due to what I assume is a weird frequency thingy between the LEDs and my camera. 

I happily packed away the wireless keyboard and laughed when it gave a quiet *beep* when it was taken out of range of the computer.  I'm a cruel duck.

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October 09, 2013

F1 on NBCSN: Japan 2013

We're running late this week, and my apologies for that.  It's at least theoretically possible that one or two of you rely upon this feature to set your DVR, and you're not getting your info on time.  I'd like to send you all a balloon animal to make it up to you, but FedEx just raised their fuel surcharge and I don't have an account with UPS anymore, so you'll just have to settle for something spiffy at the end of this post.  Until then, however, it's early-mid October (or late-early October, whichever) which means it must be time for one of the truly classic tracks on the F1 calendar.  Libbets and bunnymen, allow me to introduce to you the trackmap for the 2013 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka.


Really, I'm not entirely sure why this isn't my favorite F1 track.  Maybe because they turned 130R into a mere ghost of itself when they slowed it down a touch?  Could be, I suppose.  I've never really seen 130R the way it used to be, so I can't say.  Really, Suzuka has everything you could possibly want from a racetrack.  It's fast, it's slow, but each section flows into each other like it was meant to... unlike some circuits I could name, and I'm looking at you here Korea.  Plus, you've got the clever 'S'-Curves that are a true rhythm section like Buddy Rich could only dream about.  Then, of course, you've got the crossover that makes this a figure-8 layout, just like our Tyco slotcar track when we were kids.  There's elevation change galore, the Japanese are probably more passionate about F1 than even the Italians, so what's not to love?

Well, and I don't believe I'm going to say this, but "rain."  When it rains in Japan, it doesn't just drizzle, but it bloody well typhoons, and that's just too much.  The Great Suzuka Boat Races are a real thing, when the teams float homemade boats down the pitlane whilst watching track time go away under the deluge of dampness.  At least at Spa, usually you still manage to get out on track.

Still, if that's the only quibble I have with Suzuka (and it is), then I guess I'll manage to get over it.  It's a helluva circuit, and I'm still not sure why it isn't any higher than #3 on my favorites list.  Oh well, maybe the Legendary Announce Team will be able to help us, for they'll be doing their thing as always this week.  Here's the broadcast schedule:
FRIDAY
12mid - 130a: Practice 2 live
SATURDAY
12mid - 130a: Quals live
SUNDAY
1230a - 3a: 2013 Grand Prix of Japan live

So we've not a lot of time before P2 starts already!  Go set your DVR now.  What are you waiting for, a balloon animal?

Will that do?  See you sooner or later.

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October 07, 2013

(Mini-ish) F1 Update!: Korea 2013

It didn't rain, and the result was preordained.  Yet there was some awfully weird stuff happening in Yeongam, South Korea the other day, and we're here to cover it.  THIS is your F1Update! for the 2013 Grand Prix of Korea.

*THE RACE:  To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the lights went out and Hannibal Vettel, our polesitter, jumped away to the lead.  However, and this is a huge difference, he did not go streaking off over the horizon, looking like he was trying to lap the entire field and standing a good chance at managing the feat.  Instead, he only managed to open up a 2.5 second lead over Shiv Hamilton, a lead that didn't much look like it was going to get much larger.  As radio calls began to fly back and forth between drivers and pit walls, the reason for the smallish lead became clear: tires.  The two tire compounds Pirelli had brought to the track, the super-soft and the mediums, were not lasting anywhere near as long as expected.  In particular, the front-right tire was taking a serious beating around the back half of the track, what with all of its left-hand turns.  Still, none of this was making it look like Vettel was going to be kicked out of first place any time soon.

*THE WEIRDNESS:  And then the weirdness began.  On Lap 28, Nico Rosberg was all over the back of his Mercedes teammate, Shiv Hamilton.  Hamilton was suffering from tire problems; all the tires on the day had graining problems, but once the graining wore away, the tires would be almost as new.  Not so with the set on Hamilton's car at this moment.  We quote from his radio call to his pit wall: "They went through the graining period already; now they're sh*t."  All of this made passing Hamilton a slice of pie for Rosberg.  He got into the Brit's slipstream, opened his DRS, and pulled out from behind... and this happened:

The two top mounting points for the nose of Rosberg's Mercedes failed, dropping the front wing to the pavement.  We here at F1U! have watched Formula 1 for years, and we've never seen a car's nose detach without having suffered other damage, like from an accident.  While spectacular, and in the long run it certainly cost Rosberg a podium shot, the car was essentially undamaged.  Once the nose was replaced, the Mercedes continued on as if nothing had occurred.  What happened three laps later, however, was somewhat more critical.  On Lap 31, McLaren's Sergio Perez had a huge lockup going into Turn 1, putting a visible flat-spot on the front-right tire.  A few hundred yards later, with Mark Webber close by, this happened:

Perez's tire completely let go, the rubber carcass separating completely from the kevlar backing, and taking big chunks of McLaren bodywork with it as well.  Webber, fresh out of the pits and shod with a brand new set of medium tires, had no choice but to drive through the debris field.  Almost immediately, the Red Bull pit wall told him he had punctures and he had to pit for a new set of tires.  Problem is, he had 24 laps to go and the last set of medium tires that he had... were the ones that had just been ruined.  Say goodbye to his chances for a podium.  Fortunately for all concerned, the Safety Car was called out to allow for clean-up of the tire and associated detritus.  It stayed out for six laps, then came in and racing began again.  The restart lasted all of three turns, for it was there that Adrian F'n Sutil spun and slid directly into the side of Webber's Red Bull.  Sutil continued on, but this is what happened to Webber:

The contact apparently shattered the oil cooler, which promptly caught fire, as intense a blaze as any we've seen in F1 for a while.  However, that isn't the weird part.  No, the weird part is that, before the Safety Car was called out, this was spotted on-circuit:

The track Fire Vehicle was sent out before the field had been neutralized... and that's Hannibal Vettel directly behind it.  Almost immediately after this, the Safety Car was called for, white flags (indicating a slow-moving vehicle is on track, and drivers should be alert) were being waved and it looked like the field began to form up behind the truck, instead of the Safety Car!  NEVER seen that before.  Fortunately for everybody, that was the last of the weirdness and the race continued as normal afterwards.

*THE END: In the grand scheme of things, though, none of this was anything but a mild diversion for Vettel, who wound up romping home ahead of the Lotii of Kimi Raikkonen and Lettuce Grosjean.  He now has a 77 point lead over his nearest competitor, and can clinch the driver's championship in Japan.

*WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?:  Vettel earned his second consecutive Grand Slam (winning from pole, leading every lap, setting fast lap of the race), the first driver to do that in F1 history.  There's no reason to think he couldn't do it in Japan, either.  Yeesh.

*FINALLY: Japan is Sunday morning.  We'll see you then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:23 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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October 06, 2013

F1 Update!: Korea 2013 DELAYED

Readers...
I'm having problems being creative tonight.  This events of this race, particularly the second half,  actually deserve a decent writeup, and I don't feel like I have it in me at the moment.  It'll happen on Monday.
Probably.
Yours,
-Wonderduck

PS: While you're waiting, here's McLaren's Tooned Ep05

I'm curious to see how they're going to handle the next driver...

Posted by: Wonderduck at 06:49 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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October 05, 2013

F1 Quals: Korea 2013

If you have any doubt about the results of today's Qualifying session for the 2013 Grand Prix of Korea, you've clearly not been following Formula 1 lately.  Here's the provisional grid:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Hannibal Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:38.683 1:37.569 1:37.202
2 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:38.574 1:37.824 1:37.420
3 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:39.138 1:37.840 1:37.464
4 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:39.065 1:38.076 1:37.531
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:38.418 1:38.031 1:37.679
6 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:38.520 1:37.978 1:38.038
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:38.884 1:38.295 1:38.223
8 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.427 1:37.913 1:38.237
9 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.725 1:38.327 1:38.405
10 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:38.341 1:38.181 1:38.822
11 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:39.049 1:38.362
12 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.882 1:38.365
13 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:38.525 1:38.417
14 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:38.988 1:38.431
15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:39.185 1:38.718
16 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:39.075 1:38.781
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:39.470

18 I Don't Care Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:39.987

19 Charles ToothPic Caterham-Renault 1:40.864

20 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:40.871

21 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:41.169

22 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:41.322


Oh look, Hannibal Vettel is on pole.  I never saw that coming.  Not only was the Red Bull the fastest through the twistybits, but it was also fastest through the speed trap, too.  Just what we need, huh?  Don't look for rain to save us, either.  Now the forecasters are saying that the rain, at best, will soak the track in the morning, then stop well before the race begins.  Yeesh.

We'll see you Sunday for the F1U!... hopefully it'll be worth writing about!

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