May 30, 2013

I Even Forgot A Title.

It's hard for me to put into words everything that's racing through my brain right now, but I'll give some of it a shot.

I am weary.  Bone-tired.  I get home from work, and all I want to do is lie down and take a nap.  Eating is good, too, and I usually manage to do that, but I'll grab a couple hours of blissful slumber, get up, putter around until midnight, then go back to bed.  The next day, I wake up and do it all over again.  I suspect that's part of the problem: as of this past Monday, I've worked at the Duck U Bookstore for nine years.  That's a long-ish time... it's the longest I've worked in any one place, times two-and-change.  Oh sure, I worked in radio for eight years or so, but it was in two installments.  If you're talking full-time employment, I ran a different bookstore for three years.  So, yeah, long time in one place, looking at the same carpeting, the same ugly cream paint in my office, yadda.

I haven't really had any fun for a few months... oddly enough, it was work related, too.  When I was last in Chicago, I had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory (as described at the start of this post), and looking back at it, I had a great time.  Sure, I've had dinner with The Librarian a few times since then, and that's fun, but for FUN FUN, I have to go back to February.  That's depressing.

I haven't even enjoyed Formula 1.  Maybe you've noticed?  Or maybe you don't, because it feels like nobody is reading the F1U!s anymore... and I'm pretty sure I don't blame you. 

*whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnne*

I'm shutting up now.  Stuff tomorrow and over the weekend.

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May 29, 2013

Taste The Intrigue. Feel The Danger.

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May 27, 2013

F1 Update!: Monaco 2013

Monaco is one of those circuits where you can always expect to have a not-dull time.  Oh, the race itself may not be any good, but you're practically guaranteed to have an experience.  So when the Circus formed up on the grid under a brilliant blue sky, the F1U! crew settled back in their comfychairs, Chicago-style pizza from Giordano's at easy reach, ready to experience a race around a tiny French fishing village.  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2013 Grand Prix of Monaco!

*LIGHTS OUT
:  Despite a desperate lunge by third-sitting Red Bull driver Hannibal Vettel, the two Mercedes cars on the first row kept the lead through Sainte Devote.  This allowed Nico Rosberg to begin to pull away while Shiv Hamilton played 'good teammate' and held up the rest of the field... as predicted by many.  At any other circuit on the calendar except maybe Singapore, this strategy couldn't work: too much room.  But at Monaco... narrow, twisty Monaco... the possibility existed that a determined and skilled pilot could make it work.  You may say what you want about Shiv Hamilton, heaven knows we have, but after Mercedes gave him a podium he didn't deserve at Malayasia, he was both skilled and determined to give back to his teammate.  So Shiv put on his Jarno Trulli Memorial Engineer cap and began to lead the train through the streets of Monaco.  For nigh on 30 laps, Rosberg held close to a five second lead over third-place Vettel, and it was clear that Mercedes had figured out the tire problems that had plagued them all season.  The train continued on, until Ferrari's Felipe Massa had a moment.

*SAFETY CAR:  During Saturday's third practice, Massa wound up skidding into the barriers at Sainte Devote, damaging his car so badly the team could not get him up and running in time for Quals.  Now, on Lap 30 of the race, the same thing occurred.  Indeed, the two incidents were so similar in appearance as to be a little frightening.

If anything, the result of this one was even worse.  Massa was put into a neck brace and taken to Princess Grace Hospital, where he was held for a few hours and released.  However, the long trail of broken car left behind by his inelegant departure from the race could not be cleaned up safely, and we got our first Safety Car of the year.  The two leaders, halfway around the track from Berndt Maylander, immediately lean into the gas pedals and rush for the pits.  At this point, Mercedes told Shiv Hamilton that they were going to pit both cars on the same lap, and that he needed to hang back a few more seconds so the team didn't stack them up in the pits. This he duly did, and he pulled into the pit stall vacated by Rosberg a mere eight seconds previously.  This turned out to be just a couple of seconds too long, as while our Polesitter retained the lead, Hamilton exited the pits in fourth, leapfrogged by the two Red Bull drivers.

*PART II:  As the drivers perambulated behind the Safety Car, we got to hear a call from the pitlane to Hannibal Vettel: his rear tires were "marginal" after his first stint, while Rosberg's engineer told him that he still had "half the life" left in his after his stop.  That couldn't have been an encouraging call for the Red Bull drivers, but when the Safety Car pulled in on Lap 38, the field gamely set off after the leader.  After one lap, Rosberg had a two second lead, making it looked effortless.  It wasn't until Lap 45 that something happened to shake things up.

*RED FLAG:  Back towards the rear of the Thundering Herd, Cardinal Maldonado was having a lousy race.  To be sure, they'd all been lousy this season, but this one seemed particularly bad, and it wasn't about to get any better when he approached Tabac.  Max Chilton's Marussia, not exactly known as a speedy vehicle was inside him, looking to pass... and pushing him very very wide in the process.  Maldonado, best known for being a dangerous driver last year, moved over as far as he could to avoid contact, but the rookie kept coming... and coming... and coming... and...

The Williams was launched skyward, greatly reducing grip, before slamming at high speed into the TecPro barrier hard enough to peel it away from the steel Armco, leaving it curled in the middle of the circuit... right where Chilton's teammate, Jules Bianchi, could run into it.  This he duly did, ruining the front of his car.  A red flag was immediately displayed, halting the race on the spot.

*ENDGAME:  The remaining cars came to a stop on the grid while the damaged barriers were replaced.  Tires were changed, minor damages were fixed, and people tried to figure out just exactly how to get past Nico Rosberg.  Once the race was restarted, it was clear that nobody had figured that part out, as the Mercedes driver ran himself back out to a four-second lead, holding there until another Safety Car was brought out (see Moooooo-oooove of the Race, below).  The restart did nothing to help the situation as Rosberg owned the restart and was right back to a four second lead almost immediately.  Just how frustrating the race had been for Hannibal Vettel became clear on the penultimate lap, when he set fast-lap honors.  When his team told him to back down, you get no points for fast lap, he replied "...but satisfaction."  That was the only real satisfaction to be had, as he finished behind Rosberg by 3.5 seconds.  In an interesting bit of synchronicity, it was in 1983 that Nico Rosberg's father, Keke, won the Grand Prix of Monaco.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE
: Nico Rosberg.  He literally did everything right.  What more could you ask for?

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  We're going to break with the logical answers today and instead give the TotR award to Force India.  They finished 5th / 9th (from 17th!), the team's best result in Monaco ever, and Adrian Sutil pulled off some amazing passing moves.  Way to go, guys, you deserve it.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  While McLaren is having a lousy season, it's hardly because of Jenson Button.  He's clearly doing the best he can with a car that just isn't any good, which isn't much... he's never been the sort of driver who can bring out the best of a bad car.  Still, late in the race he was in 8th, behind HWMNBN and Adrian F'n Sutil as they piled into Rascasse, not exactly a common place to try and improve your position.

As they wound their way past the nightclub, HWMNBN found himself outside of the Force India, while Button had the inside line.

To be fair, nobody in their right mind tries to pass in Rascasse.  It just isn't done.  However, the presence of the Force India actually balked the Ferrari momentarily, lest the red car have its nose removed.

This opened the door for Button to haul his recalcitrant McLaren through the turn slightly faster than the two-time World Driver's Champion could manage, and pull off a pass that usually would end in nothing but tears and carbon-fiber shards.  On a day full of impressive passes, this was the best of the lot.  It's not much, Jenson, but here's your MotR!

*MOOOOOOOO-OOOOVE OF THE RACE:  On Lap 63, Lettuce Grosjean was following Daniel Ricciardo, who was racing for points.  Coming out of the tunnel, the Lotus driver didn't really bother to brake as they approached the chicane.

Ricciardo was out on the spot, Grosjean pitted for a new nose, turned a couple of laps, then was retired.  This was Grosjean's fourth accident of the race weekend.  Consider this Moooo a "weekend achievement award."  Way to be.

*SELECTED DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE
:

more...

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May 26, 2013

Monaco F1U! Will Be Delayed Until Monday

Recording nightmare combined with a need for sleep and a vague "not feeling very well" sort of thing has put me off my game.  It's 907pm, and I've only just now finished watching the Grand Prix of Monaco.  I'm still trying to figure out if it was a good race, but it was certainly entertaining.  And, heck, Lotus and Daft Punk teamed up for the weekend... no way that can be bad.


While I'm at it, though, let me pay the ultimate respect for the true face of the Monaco Grand Prix... this guy:

Every time the cars went through the tunnel, he was in shot.  Every.  Single.  Time.  There was one moment where he wasn't, but he quickly worked his way in, bringing sighs of relief to all viewers.  The tunnel was safer because he was there.  Thank you Mr Track Worker.  Thank you.

F1U! tomorrow.

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May 25, 2013

F1 Quals: Monaco 2013

Rain.  Rain makes everything better.  In Formula 1, rain is called "the great equalizer."  When it rains, you throw everything you knew about the cars and throw it all into the wheeliebins.  ANYthing can happen, and occasionally does.  Now make it rain during qualifying at Monaco, and you can imagine what happened.

Let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2013 Grand Prix of Monaco:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:24.620 1:16.135 1:13.876
2 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:23.779 1:16.265 1:13.967
3 Hannibal Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:24.243 1:15.988 1:13.980
4 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:25.352 1:17.322 1:14.181
5 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:25.835 1:16.040 1:14.822
6 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:23.712 1:16.510 1:14.824
7 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:24.682 1:17.748 1:15.138
8 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:25.108 1:17.261 1:15.383
9 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.744 1:17.420 1:15.647
10 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:23.699 1:17.623 1:15.703
11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:25.547 1:18.331
12 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:24.852 1:18.344
13 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:23.738 1:18.603
14 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:24.681 1:19.077
15 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:26.095 1:19.408
16 Cardinal Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:23.452 1:21.688
17 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:26.322

18 Charles ToothPic Caterham-Renault 1:26.633

19 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:26.917

20 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:27.303

DNQ Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth No time

DNQ Felipe Massa Ferrari No time


The rain came just as Q1 was about to begin, and you can see what it did to the times.  It was quite a common sight to see names like Valtteri Bottas and Jules Vergne at the top of the timesheet, though eventually it settled down slightly.  In Q2, a drying line started to form and the times dropped precipitously, leaving most of the usual suspects in Q3. 

In Q3, on a mostly dry circuit, the expected Mercedes massacre occurred, with Nico Rosberg taking his third consecutive pole, and Shiv Hamilton locking up the front row for the German team.  Red Bull holds the second row, and Hannibal Vettel looked like he wanted to kill someone in the interview room.

You may notice that Massa got a DNQ: he was involved in a terrible wreck in Saturday Practice, broke both ends of the car, and Ferrari just couldn't get it rebuilt in time for Quals. 

Fun Qualifying... maybe we'll have rain for the race, too!  That's Sunday morning, we'll see you afterwards!

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May 24, 2013

F1 Practice: Monaco 2013

Nothing too big to report on "today".  Beautiful day, and other than Lettuce Grosjean scraping the left side of his car clean of any projections in Sainte Devote, nothing impressive occurred.  Team Mercedes is being tabbed to take pole on Saturday, and people are saying that, since Monaco is so impossible to pass at, they've got a good chance to win.  The famous "Get Pole, Be Slow" technique, I guess.

Maybe.  I don't see it, but maybe.  There's just way too many ways for that strategy to go wrong around Monaco.  But then, that's why they drive and I commentate.

Well, that and I'm not rich and I weigh more than 140 pounds.

Quals in the morning.

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That's... Quite The Finish

So there was a 100 mile Indy Lights race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today, during the annual "Carb Day" festivities.  Indy Lights is like the "minor leagues" of IndyCar, a feeder division into bigger and better.  Being a spec series, all the cars are identical 450hp V8 Dallaras, so it's all driver skill.  So the race... yeah, it had a close finish.  How close?

THAT close.  The gap from first to second?  .0026 seconds or maybe six inches.  The gap from first to fourth?  .0443 seconds.  You can watch the actual finish here.

Now if we can get Monaco to be that close...

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May 23, 2013

Monaco, Friday.

Okay, I'm making an executive decision here... I'm gonna do the Monaco Practice writeup on Friday instead of tonight.  It's been a long couple of weeks, and I want a nap.  While you're waiting, here's the newest trailer for Rush.

Me likey.

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May 21, 2013

The Evangelion Movies: 1.11 You Are (not) Alone, pt 1

Before I get into the meat 'n' taters of this here writeup, I'm going to cover a little bit of history for those readers who may be not be of an age to understand what Neon Genesis Evangelion really meant to anime.  To call it a game-changer would not be overstating matters in the least.  When the series came out in 1995, it brought with it a number of things that have become commonplace in anime... psychology, deeper themes, mind-blowing imagery, flawed (sometimes deeply flawed) characters, on and on.  When it was first broadcast, it made fans of the show out of people who had never watched anime before, or not since they were very young.  What's happening right now with the Game of Thrones TV series, with people who'd never think of opening a sword-and-sorcery novel hanging on every second of the new episodes, that's what happened with NGE.

In short, it was very, very ambitious, and that's where the problems began.  It went so far afield from the norm that there was some confusion over how to take the show.  Then Gainax, the production house, ran out of money and the final episodes were full of long, long still shots, reused footage, and in the final two episodes, a distinct art shift.  In fact, it never really gave the viewers an ending... or at least an ending people could understand.  Despite this, NGE was a ridiculously big hit... so big, in fact, that Gainax has made a bulletproof cash cow out of the merchandise for the show.  It also spawned a multitude of movies presenting the "true" endings of the series... none of which are to be the subject of these writeups.

Instead, what I'll be doing are the three newest films, collectively called "The Rebuild of Evangelion."  They are... similar... to the original series in many ways, but very different in others.  Which doesn't matter a hill of beans to those who have seen the original series.  There is no doubt in my mind, and those of others, that it is one of the few "must see" shows for a fan of anime.  That doesn't mean that the watcher will actually like the show, but it will almost certainly create strong feelings in the viewer.  Some will be turned off by the dysfunctional emotional cripples that make up the cast, some by the rather graphic violence, some by the weird mindf*cks that occur, whether by plan or by happenstance.  Me, I liked the show, but I've no interest in rewatching it.  Having said that, I'm on record as saying that I think the movies are great improvements over the original series, and I'm actually looking forward to doing these reviews!  So enough of my blathering, let's get to it!

more...

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May 20, 2013

F1 On The NBC Networks: Monaco 2013

If Silverstone is the birthplace of Formula 1, Monaco is its soul.  The glitz, the glamour, the money, the casino, the royalty, it is everything that the sport could have possibly hoped it would become back in the old days.  Let's take a look at the track map for this historic circuit:

The odd thing about this ultimate street circuit is, of course, that it would never be allowed on the calendar if it was proposed today.  It's too narrow, there's no run-off area to speak of, it's immensely dangerous... and it is glorious.  Win here, and you walk with the legends.  If a team or a driver could only win one race in a season, it would be this one.  It is the ultimate challenge to drive well.

For all that, it's not a great racetrack anymore.  Cars are wider and faster than they used to be, so you often get a processional around here... unless it rains.  Which, considering Monaco's location on the Mediterranean, happens fairly often and with only small amounts of warning.  Anyway, while individually many of the turns are wonderful, the run past The Swimming Pool (13-14-15-16) in particular, as a whole it's probably the hardest track on F1 to drive.  No mistakes are ever allowed, no slacking of attention.  It's perhaps the only circuit in Formula 1 where driver skill can take priority over car.

In some ways, this is the least subtle circuit on the calendar.  Downforce?  As much as you can crank on the car, and more besides.  The rules say you can't attach a barn door in place of the rear wing, but if you could, the teams probably would.  Track speed?  Slow.  It's the lowest average speed of any race we'll come across on the calendar.  Perversely, while there's no grip in the tarmac due to their everyday use as public streets, the circuit isn't gentle on tires... because there's no grip in the tarmac.  The tires almost slide over the street surface, which isn't the way they're supposed to work.  Take a pink eraser and rub it over the asphalt of your parking lot, see how much of it comes off... that's kind of the way tires work at Monaco.  Both brakes and engines have cooling problems around The Principality as well; both require airflow, preferably high-velocity airflow which is in short supply here.  So the brakes heat up and never really cool off... that's fine to start with, but when the carbon/carbon discs get too hot, they begin to glaze, reducing efficiency. 

We're going to have something unprecedented this weekend: a European F1 race live on US network TV, and the Legendary Announce Team will be bringing it to us!  Let's take a look at the schedule:

THURSDAY
Practice 2:  7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
FRIDAY
(nothing)
SATURDAY
Quals: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
SUNDAY
2013 Grand Prix of Monaco  630a - 9a  live on NBC

As is tradition, there are no race-related activities on Friday, so as to let the multimillionaires and billionaires to come home from St Tropez or Moritz or Newark.  Of course, F1 Update! will be all over the race as well... rejoice!  See you then!

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May 19, 2013

Well, THAT Was A Code Brown...

Imagine this, if you will:

Outside The Pond, there was a thunderstorm going on.  A big one.  One that, in fact, had spawned a tornado an hour earlier.  Accompanying the thunderstorm were pretty decent winds, small hail, and what looked like the entire contents of the Gulf of Mexico.  Despite all that, the temperatures only dropped five degrees when the front came through.  Unfortunate, as it's been kinda hot and humid-ish all day.  Still, it looked like the front was moving quickly and everything would be calming down in maybe 10 minutes.

And then the tornado warning sirens began to go off.

I got off the internet and headed for the hallway that leads from my living room to the bathroom, while grabbing the TV remote and calling up the good local news station... only to find that nobody knew why the sirens were going off.  A minute or two later, they stopped.

Well.  "Hand me my brown trowsers, please."

UPDATE, 5/20:  Found out this morning that the sirens went off because a police officer saw a funnel cloud over the city.  Good call.

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May 17, 2013

The Saddest Thing Ever

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May 16, 2013

Random Anime Picture #78: Tater Babe


-Attack On Titan, Ep04

Nothing I type here can top Brickmuppet's review, so go there and read it.  I just like typing "Tater Babe."

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May 14, 2013

Simply Amazing

How is this video not being hailed as one of Humanity's Great Accomplishments?


It's worth watching in HD... go ahead, I won't mind
In my lifetime, we've gone from grainy black-and-white video of Neil Armstrong's small step that the entire world watched... to a Canadian mission commander in a more-or-less permanent space station orbiting the Earth, just shortly before he returned to Earth in a Russian capsule, singing a song originally recorded by a Brit a month before that first moon walk.  And it's all in glorious high definition video.

When did the world get so blasé about stuff like this?  How did we let it get so jaded?  What's wrong with us???

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May 12, 2013

F1 Update!: Spain 2013

Simply a beautiful day greeted the Thundering Herd as it mad its way to the grid behind the gleaming Silver Arrow of Nico Rosberg.  Around the pit lane, however, dark clouds rumbled above the heads of the Pirelli representatives as complaints about their tires had reached "shrieking weasel" levels.  So how would the rubber react when the lights went out?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2013 Grand Prix of Spain!

*RACIN':  "We have to drive slowly to protect our tires."  "We're not racing, we're conserving tires."  These and other statements like them have been heard for weeks around the F1 paddock.  Very quickly today, however, it very quickly became obvious that one team had finally gotten tired of whining and decided to make the best of the tire situation.  Scuderia Ferrari had told their drivers "we've got six sets of tires, let's use them."  This may have meant another pit stop in relation to their competition, but the tradeoff was that they'd be going faster than the teams "protecting" their tires.  It pains us to say this, but BRAVO, Ferrari, bravo

*EVEN BETTER:  It worked.  Right from the beginning, Ferrari had planned to do a four-stop race, while everybody else were suspected of committing to three-stoppers.  By the end of the first round of pitstops, Ferrari's HWMNBN had all the advantages, and very soon thereafter, the lead.  Meanwhile, his teammate Felipe Massa was shadowing him just a few positions behind.

*SCRAMBLING:  At one point in the race, Hannibal Vettel's chief mechanic "Rocky" Rocquelin called to his driver.  "Relax, it's the last five laps that'll be decisive."  This came after HWMNBN had made the three-time World Driver's Champion look slow and bad and awful.  Shortly thereafter, though, Red Bull came to the realization that they were going to lose, and lose badly, if they didn't mirror the four-stop strategy.  Alas, they made that decision too late, and Vettel was never a real threat during the race.  Such a shame.

*GENTLE LOTUS:  In contrast to all the teams reacting to Ferrari's novel concept of "going racin'," Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen kept on his three-stop strategy, comfortable in the knowledge that he could drive smoothly and quickly while being gentle on his tires.  It used to be that Jenson Button was the king of tire kindness... no more.  While he wasn't quite able to dice with HWMNBN for the lead, he was able to lock down second place ahead of Massa.

*MERC MASSACRE:  As expected, from the moment the lights went out to the time the race ended, the Mercedes chassis drove like crap.  You know times are bad when the pit wall is telling their drivers to slow down in the middle of a race.  Shiv Hamilton, who began the race in second place, finished up  12th with tires that refused to warm up and fell apart when he pushed.  "I can't drive any slower" he replied to the pit lane.  Pole sitter Nico Rosberg finished in 6th, having managed to keep the lead until the first round of tire changes. 

*DRIVER OF THE RACE
:  HWMNBN.  From the start of the race, it was clear that The Spaniard had come to his home track to win.  A brilliant pass through Turn 3 served notice that he was feeling his oats, and that he was going to be dangerous.  That proved to be accurate as he won by nine seconds.  Just an outstanding performance.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Ferrari.  They had both drivers on the podium and forced everybody else to adjust to their strategy.  Yep, that's the way to do it all right.  The church bells are ringing in Maranello tonight.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  One of the standing rules of F1Update! is that nothing that occurs during the first lap of the race is eligible for either the Move or the Mooooooo-ooove of the Race awards.  We are breaking that rule today.  As soon as the lights went out and the field began to move, it was clear that HWMNBN had a wild hair going today.  Heading into Turn 3 he was on the outside, with Kimi Raikkonen, Shiv Hamilton, Hannibal Vettel and, ultimately, Nico Rosberg ahead of him.

Secure in the knowledge that he could run his tires into the ground without penalty, he charged into the long, fast 180° Turn 3 with blood in his eye.

Raikkonen didn't fight HWMNBN, but Shiv Hamilton was less accommodating, making sure that the Ferrari driver had to take the really long way around.

Undaunted, The Spaniard did just that, getting past the Mercedes and pulling himself back inside in the process.  As it was, if Turn 3 had been longer, HWMNBN might have been able to track down Hannibal Vettel for 2nd.  As is, he had picked up two places nearly before the race began.  Just an astonishingly virtuoso performance, and worth us breaking our rules to give him the Move of the Race.

*MOOOOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE RACE:  On Lap 23, Geido van der Garde pitted his Caterham, emerged, drove half a lap and... his left-rear tire came off.  Half-a-lap later, he managed to bring his car into the pit lane!

Impressive driving performance, but the team still got fined for an unsafe release fro the pit lane.  Caterham, here's your Mooooo!

*SELECTED DRIVER'S QUOTES OF THE RACE
:

more...

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May 11, 2013

F1 Quals: Spain 2013

We all know that it's important to be on pole for a F1 race.  It keeps you clear of the thundering herd and all the little incidents that occur in the pack that can kill your race before it begins.  There are some circuits where it's even more important than normal to be on pole.  Monaco is the usual example, but one of those oddball stats that blindside you with its data came to light today... SPAIN, not Monaco, is the most pole-dependent race on the calendar.  Eleven of the past 12 dry races at Barcalounger have been won from the pole... and the one oddball was Hannibal Vettel winning from second in 2011.  So, yes, it's a little important to be on pole this week.  So who just shot to the top of the bookies' sheets?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2013 Grand Prix of Spain:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:21.913 1:21.776 1:20.718
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:21.728 1:21.001 1:20.972
3 Hannibal Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:22.158 1:21.602 1:21.054
4 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:22.210 1:21.676 1:21.177
5 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:22.264 1:21.646 1:21.218
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:22.492 1:21.978 1:21.219
7 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:22.613 1:21.998 1:21.308
8 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:22.342 1:21.718 1:21.570
9 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.116 1:21.790 1:22.069
10 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:22.663 1:22.019 1:22.233
11 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:22.905 1:22.127
12 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:22.775 1:22.166
13 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:22.952 1:22.346
14 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.166 1:22.355
15 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:23.058 1:22.389
16 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:23.218 1:22.793
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:23.260

18 Friar Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:23.318

19 Who Reads This Far Down Caterham-Renault 1:24.661

20 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:24.713

21 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:24.996

22 Charles ToothPic Caterham-Renault 1:25.070


Q1 107% Time
1:27.448


This is the second pole in a row for Nico Rosberg, and the third on the trot for Mercedes... which brings us a puzzling situation.  What happens when the car that's on pole is great for single laps, but not so good over race distances?  Last race, Rosberg started first and ended up ninth... not because of any strategy problems, or traffic woes, but because the car just doesn't like going more than three laps at a time.  Should prove interesting to find an answer... except if the two Mercs don't win, it'll undoubtedly be Hannibal Vettel whose lap the race will fall into.

Dammit.

In other news, one year ago, Pastor Maldonado started the Spanish Grand Prix from pole and won Williams' first race in what seemed like forever.  Tomorrow, he'll be starting 18th, with his Williams teammate in 17th.  Yeesh.  And speaking of "yeesh," McLaren's season is essentially over already; they're 86 points behind Red Bull in the Constructor's Championship... even if they start winning everything in sight, does anybody really believe that Red Bull wouldn't be right behind them?  Nope, stick a fork in 'em, they're done.  Even Force India has more points than they do (26 to 23).  One wonders if they installed the throttle correctly or something.  "Oh, silly us, we put the gas pedal on the LEFT side, not the right..."

Race in the morning, F1U! sometime thereafter.

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May 10, 2013

F1 Practice: Spain 2013

The first race back in Europe after the first overseas leg always brings us new and... interesting... modifications to the cars.  New wings, new sidepods, new noses, lots of new stuff we can't see.  And on the whole, nothing ever changes.  The fast teams are still fast, the slow teams are still slow, its just the same with more money spent.  Unless you're Caterham.

They're really pushing the edge of the rules with their latest chassis.  I have no idea how it passed the crashtesting, but I'm not the FIA.  Gonna have a helluva lot of downforce, that's for sure.

Seriously though, Pirelli has a problem on their hands.  Take a look at what happened to Force India's Paul di Resta at the end of P2:

The left-rear tire completely delaminated.  Fortunately the carcass stayed inflated, as it occurred as di Resta was on the front straight.  He was able to keep the car under control and bring it to a stop just past pit-out.

I don't think I've ever seen that before.  I've seen tires wear down to the canvas backing, sure, and of course we've seen plenty of blowouts where all you had left were the sidewalls, but I've never seen the rubber fall off the tire altogether.  There is no way you can tell me that this is a good thing.  I've been very calm with Pirelli, as they've just been doing what the FIA has asked them to do, tires running with short lifespans and all... but this just can't be allowed to happen.

Quals in the morning, Quals report sometime quite a bit later.  See ya then!

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I Can't NOT Post This...

...it's too perfect.

Teh Cute!  IZ TOO MUCH CUTE!

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May 09, 2013

orz

Many of you, my hale and hearty readers, may have noticed something of a decrease in my output of free ice-cream as of late, and arguably a decrease in quality as well.  This is an observation that I would tend to agree with.  My long-time readers, probably less hale and hearty owing to being here longer, probably have some inkling as to why this is occurring.  To whit, Finals week begins on Monday over at Duck U., and that means it's book buyback time at the Duck U Bookstore!

"But Wonderduck," I hear you saying, and I do wish you'd stop that, it's disturbing, "that's next week, not this week, you numbskull."  To which I reply, "Yep.  And there's nothing that needs to be done to lead up to that week, nothing at all."  Sure, it isn't quite as busy at next week, but it's busy enough... and that brings me to what's going to happen with my F1 coverage.

I will be working on Saturday.  We have a registration and orientation day for incoming students, and I'll be manning the Duck U Bookstore cash register from 10am to 5pm.  As one can imagine, my coverage of Quals will probably suffer somewhat.  Allegedly I'll be leaving the store around 3pm on Friday, but that's more a hope than a for-sure.  Practice coverage, never my strong suit even in the best of days, may suffer, depending on when I actually DO leave.  At least race day won't be affected.  I'll admit to hanging on by my wingtips right now... there's so much to do, and my energy levels are somewhat low.

Not shown: Wonderduck
The good news is that I've continued to slog away at the first writeup of Eva Movie 1.11, and it's looking like it'll be quite good.  If you know what I mean.  So there's what's happening.  I'll try to bring you more soft-serve ASAP.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:19 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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May 07, 2013

Mystery Ship VIII Update!

In November of 2011, I put up a "Name This Mystery Ship" contest that proved to be one of my favorites. 

The correct answer was the SS Mamari, aka "Fleet Tender C".  A former passenger liner, she had been taken over by the Royal Navy and converted into a HMS Hermes decoy.  As it turns out, I had not seen another picture of this erstwhile vessel until just about a week ago, when I also found out her fate.  First, the second picture:

As it turns out, the Mamari was a very good decoy indeed.  On June 3rd, 1941, she was attacked by German aircraft.  In the process of evading them, she got stuck on the wreck of a tanker.  While the Admiralty intended to refloat her, a few days later the E-boats came.  After a couple of torpedoes, she ended up as you see her here.  You can see just how skimpy that "flight deck" was.  It couldn't even be used as a transport.

So there you are... more Fleet Tender C!

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