April 30, 2017

F1 Update!: Russia 2017

A nice day greeted the Thundering Herd as they made their way to the grid.  For the first time since 2008, they were led by a pair of Ferraris as Seb Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen had locked out the first row of the grid.  Behind them, though, were the silver arrows of Mercedes.  Vallteri Bottas had managed to stay close to the Ferraris in quals, but oddly Lewis Hamilton was over a half-second behind.  Would he return to his normal pace?  Would Seb Vettel open his lead in the championship standings even farther?  Or would Raikkonen return to the top step of the podium for the first time since the first race of the 2013 season?  THIS is your F1Update! for the 2017 Grand Prix of Russia!

*BEFORE: When you watch a Formula 1 race on television, there are a few things you are guaranteed to see.  Hordes of Ferrari-flag-waving fans.  Ultra-mega-slow-motion shots of a tire lockup.  A helicopter-based shot of the start.  And a new thing, a McLaren broken down on the side of the track.  During the Formation lap, Indy Alonso called back to his pit wall that he was down on power.  As it turned out, he had an ERS problem that prevented him from using about 150hp.  This, of course, was on top of the Honda power unit being an estimated 50 - 80hp down in comparison to the Mercedes power unit.  While the sight of a F1 car turning laps at speeds just slightly higher than what you can see on I-90E into Chicago may have been interesting, the McLaren had other ideas and expired before Alonso could park it under cover.  Since there were still removal crews on track when the race was ready to begin, another formation lap was indicated and one lap was taken from the race length.

*LIGHTS OUT:  Mercedes knew they only had one real chance to win, and that was to get past the Ferraris quickly.  The Ferraris appear to be better at long runs and at protecting their tires, so letting them dictate the pace would be a disaster for the silver team.  Once the red lights were extinguished, there would be a nearly 1km sprint to Turn 2.  Vettel had a good getaway from pole, but Vallteri Bottas had a better one and got past Raikkonen swiftly.  It then became a drag race between Vettel and Bottas, one where the Mercedes had a leg up; they had about a 3mph advantage over the red cars.  It was a near-run thing, but Bottas managed to get into Turn 2 before everybody else, taking the lead and accomplishing everything Mercedes could have wanted.  Behind him, Lewis Hamilton was boxed in behind Raikkonen and settled in to 4th place

*SAFETY CAR:  Both Haas's Lettuce Grosjean and Renault's Jolyon Palmer had had miserable race weekends.  It made sense, therefore, that the two of them would wreck each other in Turn 2, with Grosjean going for a short and low flight at one point.  Almost instantly Berndt Maylander was awakened from his slumber and the Safety Car sent out while the mess was swept up.

*RESTART:  As it turns out, Vallteri Bottas had never led the field in a safety car restart before.  Behind him, Vettel had plenty of experience in such situations and must have been hungry to make up for the first start.  Once Berndt Maylander returned to his cave in the pit lane, the field was entirely in the hands of Bottas who made the most of it.  He jumped on the gas just as Vettel shuffled his car around, trying to put heat in his tires.  By the time he hit the restart line, he had a full second in hand over the Ferrari.  He then began to pull away, opening a nearly six second lead by Lap 20 or so.

*TIRES:  At that point, it became obvious that the Ferraris were much gentler on their tires than the Mercs as Vettel began to whittle a half-second off the lead each lap for the next six.  Mercedes brought the leader into the pits for new tires on Lap 28.  Vettel stayed out an additional eight laps, but the pit rotation accomplished nothing: once everybody had stopped, the situation was exactly the same: Bottas, Vettel, Raikkonen, Hamilton.

*IN THE END:  Bottas had four seconds in hand with 20 laps to go, but as the laps counted down, the fresher tires on the Ferrari began to show.  By Lap 47, with six laps remaining, the lead was down to 1.4 seconds.  It would drop as low as 0.8 seconds, with Vettel filling the mirrors of Bottas at every opportunity.  The two had to negotiate their way through backmarkers, which went well until they came across the Williams of Felipe Massa with two laps remaining.  Now, we aren't saying that Massa gave his former teammate Bottas preferential treatment, but Bottas got past the Williams with no problems while Vettel got hung up.  When the race ended a lap later, Vettel had cut the lead back down to 0.6 seconds and would have the advantage of a long, long DRS zone.  If he had one more lap, it seems likely that a pass would have been in the offing... a lap that was lost when the McLaren of Indy Alonso broke down on the first formation lap.  Instead, Bottas scored his maiden victory in 81 tries, while Raikkonen finished third.  Hamilton, suffering with serious overheating problems for most of the race, could only manage fourth place, nearly 40 seconds back.

*SNOOZE: After the first half of the first lap, there was not a single on-track pass for the rest of the race.  We just thought we should mention that.

Next up, Barcalounger in two weeks!  We'll see ya then!

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April 29, 2017

F1 Quals: Russia 2017

2008.

We haven't seen this result since 2008.  Think about how long it's been since then.  Go on, think about it.  Okay, that's enough.  Now what am I talking about?  Let's look at the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Mother Russia:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Seb Vettel Ferrari 1:34.493 1:34.038 1:33.194
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:34.953 1:33.663 1:33.253
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:34.041 1:33.264 1:33.289
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.409 1:33.760 1:33.767
5 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:35.560 1:35.483 1:34.905
6 Not Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:35.828 1:35.049 1:35.110
7 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:35.301 1:35.221 1:35.161
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:35.507 1:35.328 1:35.285
9 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:36.185 1:35.513 1:35.337
10 False Esteban Force India Mercedes 1:35.372 1:35.729 1:35.430
11 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:35.827 1:35.948
12 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:36.279 1:35.964
13 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:35.984 1:35.968
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:36.408 1:36.017
15 Indy Alonso McLaren Honda 1:36.353 1:36.660
16 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:36.462

17 Stoffelwaffel McLaren Honda 1:37.070

18 Pascal's Wager Sauber Ferrari 1:37.332

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:37.507

20 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:37.620


It's Ferraris' first front-row lockout since Raikkonen and Massa did it for Ferrari at Mangy-Curs  in 2008, and the first time since Singapore 2015 that there isn't a Mercedes on the front row at all.  And know what?  It wasn't even particularly close.  Sure, Bottas made it look good, but Hamilton couldn't even manage one of his patented 'fast-lap-out-of-his-arse' laps, let alone a pole lap.  One never got the impression that the red cars weren't going to have run of the place at the end of the day, not after only being a half-second off the pace in Q1... while on the super-soft tires when everybody else was on the faster ultra-softs.  That's a Mercedes thing, being quicker on the harder rubber in quals, and they had it turned on them.  Feels good, man.

Race in the morning, see ya then!

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April 25, 2017

F1 on TV: Russia 2017

Russia.  Sochi.  Боже мой.

Trackmap:

What's there to say about Sochi?  It looks like it should be fun, but it's proven to be a dog in reality.  2016's race lasted exactly two turns before Nico Rosberg ran away with it.  2015 went to Lewis Hamilton, but only after Seb Vettel nearly killed a track marshal that had run out in front of him.  2014 was the first race after Jules Bianchi's accident, and nobody wanted to be there.  Too many right-angle turns ruins the flow of the circuit, never letting the drivers get into a groove.  It's also proven to be remarkably gentle on tires, though of course we've got new compounds this year.  I expect the new aero packages to not be of much importance here... it helps on turns, yes, but not stupid-slow ones like Turns 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18.  Which is most of them.

Well, the proud tartars of the Legendary Announce Team will do their level best to cover the race, lest the gulag beckon.  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 2: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals:  7a - 9a  live on CNBC
Sunday
2017 Grand Prix of Russia: 7a - 10a live on NBCSN

All times are Pond Central.  Make your adjustments accordingly.  Afterwards, F1Update! will be along eventually.  I'm sure you're thrilled by this announcement.  See you then!

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April 23, 2017

49.

Today is April 23rd.  Today is Impossible Astronaut Day, so go hug a Whovian.  In 1985 on this day, Coca-Cola introduced "New Coke", prompting Vaucaunson's Duck and myself to search around Duckford for a case of the original flavor.  The first youtube video was uploaded today in 2005.  Both Æthelred the Unready and William Shakespeare died on this date, as did Buster Crabbe, Howard Cosell, and Jaap Havekotte, a famous manufacturer of ice skates for speedskaters.  Meanwhile, John Hannah, Roy Orbison, Herve Villechaize, and Stephen A Douglas were all born on April 23rd.  In Bergen, Norway, there's heavy snowfall, and back in 1917 Buster Keaton made his film debut.  The International Space Station was visible from Newton Falls, OH, for 454 seconds and Hank Aaron hit the first of his 755 home runs today in 1954 against the Cardinals.

And in a hospital just off Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, a Wonderduck was inflicted upon a confused and slightly frightened world.

birthday candle!
I am still surprised.

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April 20, 2017

Still Alive. Again. I Mean, Still. Alive, That Is.

This was a triumph. 

So I tell ya, it's more difficult to do 10 hours of mandatory overtime in a week when on two of those days you have a less-than-swell feeling that forces you to leave "early" instead of getting some of that overtime knocked out.  Sure, it's my fault, no question, damn my weakened-by-age immune system, but it does mean that Thursday and Friday are gonna be long.

Heck, I'm writing this at 330am after I woke up from what was going to be a short nap.  What does that tell you?

I'm going back to bed now.  The alarm's going to ring in a few hours after all.  Pffffffft.

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April 17, 2017

Mini-F1 Update!: Bahrain 2017

Unsurprisingly, the weather was dry in Bahrain, though strangely cool... a rather un-desert-like 72 degrees F.  Would this comfy weather be a good thing, or would it mean problems getting the tires to work?  And who would benefit?  Would it be the Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, pole and second respectively?  Or maybe the Ferrari of Seb Vettel, sitting just behind the silver cars?  Or would Smiley Ricciardo's Red Bull get its wings in the windy dunes?  THIS is your mini-F1 Update! for the 2017 Grand Prix of Bahrain!

*LIGHTS OUT: As you would expect, it was a Mercedes that lead the Thundering Herd into Turn 1.  What you probably wouldn't expect is that it was Bottas, not Hamilton, doing the leading.  In fact, Hamilton wasn't even in second place.  That position was held by Vettel, who won the drag race between the two multiple-times world champions.  Vettel was unable to get past the Finn, despite the Merc's tires having been overpressurized accidentally... so what happened is that we had something of a train a-rollin', the likes of which we had not seen since Jarno (The Engineer) Trulli raced for Toyota.  Woe betide anybody who found themselves stuck in the JarnoTrain, for once there it was a rare soul indeed that could escape.  Understanding that it would be rough sledding to get past Bottas without completely torching their tire strategy, Ferrari took a gamble and called Vettel in on Lap 9.

*GOOD TIMING:  The German rejoined the race in 12th place, and it looked like a long slow slog up the field was in the offing.  And then Embryo Verstappen had "brake failure" and wound up going into the barriers, followed not much later by Pleasant Stroll and Carlos Sainz playing bumpercars and both drivers being out toot sweet.  Out came a Safety Car, into the pits went the field, and into the lead went Vettel... after all, he had just gotten new tires.  His friends in the Mercedes pits were having a bad day however, as malfunctioning tire guns caused Hamilton to have to wait for his teammate to clear the pitbox before work could be done on him.  In the process, it was judged that he had slowed down too much on the way to the pits and impeded Smiley Ricciardo.  A five-second penalty was duly handed down from the Stewards' office.

*THE MIDDLE:  After the race restarted, Vettel had a brief scare from Bottas, but the Finn could not stay with the Ferrari driver.  Meanwhile, Hamilton was unable (or unwilling) to attempt to pass his teammate.  As the two circulated and the audience wondered just why the team hadn't thrown down team orders, Vettel pulled farther and farther ahead.  Eventually Hamilton did get a free pass on Bottas, but he was  a good distance behind Vettel.

*TO THE END:  Vettel's second and final pitstop on Lap 33 promoted Hamilton to the lead, some 14 seconds up the road.  It quickly became apparent that the Brit was in a quandry.  The Ferrari on its fresh rubber was gobbling up huge amounts of time every lap.  By Lap 40, the lead was down to nine seconds, and Hamilton still had that five-second penalty to serve (or have added to his final time).  Yes, he could go to the end on the tires he had on, but given the way the Ferrari was charging, it didn't seem like a good idea.  But pitting would mean having to chase Vettel down... no easy feat.  Having a chance to win, however, was better than not, and Mercedes brought him in.  In the process, he served his five second penalty and rejoined the race in third, almost 16 seconds behind.  A stout push saw him cut the lead to just over six seconds (with the help of the German getting stuck behind some backmarkers), but it got no closer.  Seb Vettel swept across the finish line in first, becoming this season's first two-time winner.  Hamilton was second, Bottas third, and the bells were once again ringing in Maranello.

The safety car giveth, and the safety car taketh away.  Recall that last week in China, it was a safety car that helped Hamilton.  But it was that time penalty that really cooked Hamilton's goose.  After all, without it the lead would have been just over one second, and possibly less... and that would have made for some interesting times.

In two weeks, we'll find ourselves in Sochi for the Grand Prix of All The Mother Russias.  See ya then!

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April 16, 2017

Bahrain 2017 Gonna Be Delayed

This has been one of those days where you start out behind the clock when you wake up and just fall farther and farther behind the longer the day goes on.  But I got my taxes done, and thanks again to H&R Block for their wonderful website... they've made the unpleasant chore of doing your federal taxes easy, and the downright evil chore of doing Illinois' taxes even easier.  After that, though, there were little glitches here and there throughout the day that, in the end, saw me not watching Bahrain until late afternoon.  A much needed nap didn't end until 1030pm this evening, and dammit, I want to watch some anime this week.

So the F1U for Bahrain is going to be delayed for a day.  While you wait, here's the Easter Bunny just destroying Teddy Roosevelt for your enjoyment and here's the sequel to last year's greatest baseball commercial.

Thanks for waiting.

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April 15, 2017

F1 Quals: Bahrain 2017

Of all the results I imagined I'd see when I got home from work/lunch today, I gotta admit, I didn't expect this one.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Bahrain:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:31.041 1:29.555 1:28.769
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.814 1:29.535 1:28.792
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:31.037 1:29.596 1:29.247
4 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:31.667 1:30.497 1:29.545
5 Mumbles Räikkönen Ferrari 1:30.988 1:29.843 1:29.567
6 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:30.904 1:30.307 1:29.687
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:31.057 1:30.169 1:29.842
8 Felipe Not Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:31.373 1:30.677 1:30.074
9 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:31.691 1:30.857 1:30.763
10 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:31.458 1:30.899 1:31.074
11 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:31.531 1:30.923
12 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:31.748 1:31.168
13 Pascal's Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:31.995 1:31.414
14 False Esteban Force India Mercedes 1:31.774 1:31.684
15 Indy Alonso McLaren Honda 1:32.054 DNF
16 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:32.118

17 Snuffy Vandoorne McLaren Honda 1:32.313

18 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:32.318

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:32.543

20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:32.900


This is Valtteri Bottas' first career pole, and it's his own damn bad luck it had to come at Bahrain, where starting second is actually better.  That's the clean side of the track, as it turns out.  Still, you gotta hand it to him... it isn't everybody that can say they beat Hamilton to the pole anywhere!

There's nothing particularly shocking in the rest of the grid.  However, we do now know who will be replacing Indy Alonso when he comes to America instead of going to Moncao:  Jenson "I'm Not Retired Yet Either" Button.

Race at a normal time tomorrow morning... F1U! sometime afterwards!  See ya then.

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Quals will be late...

Just to give y'all a head's-up... I'm back on mandatory overtime at work, 10 hours minimum.  When quals is going on, I'll be at work, trying to get four or five of those hours on the clock.  Then I'm having a late lunch with Ph.Duck and his wife, RN(ret).Duck... I don't expect to be home until 4pm at the earliest, probably closer to 5pm.  I'll get the grid up asap.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em...

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April 13, 2017

F1 on TV: Bahrain 2017

Okay, let's get this out of the way quickly to get to the big news.  Here's the track map for the Grand Prix of Bahrain:

Here's the broadcast schedule, courtesy of the Legendary Announce Team:

Friday
Practice 2: 10a - 1130a  live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 1130a - 1p  live on NBCSN
Sunday
2017 Grand Prix of Bahrain:  10a - 1230p  live on CNBC

All times Pond Central.  Make sure you pay attention to the race being on CNBC.

Now, for the big news:

Fernando Alonso is going to miss Monaco.  Turns out he's got another gig that day.

You may have heard of it.  It's not been much of a secret that Alonso is frustrated as hell with the way his return to McLaren has gone, what with the car and engine sucking and all.  He's making a push for Racing's Triple Crown: wins at Monaco, Indy, and LeMans.  He'll be driving with the backing of McLaren-Honda, as part of the Andretti Motorsport stable.  Alonso says he'll only miss the one race, and will retake his seat in Canada a few weeks later.  We'll see.

The IndyCar world is stoked about this, too:

This is just f****** awesome. Welcome! - JR Hildebrand

Woo. I get to race against Fernando Alonso now that is cool. - Sage Karam

Obviously you need some balls to do it. I think that Alonso will handle it well. - Mikhail Aleshin

Welcome to the fastest motor race in the world Fernando Alonso! Great to have a world champion on the grid. - Max Chilton, former F1 driver

We’ll see how he comes up to speed and stuff like that but I’m sure he’ll be fine. Alex (Rossi) won it, it’s a decent comparison, I think, to him. - Marco Andretti, making this the first time Alexander Rossi has been compared in any way to Fernando Alonso.

If I were to give Fernando Alonso some advice into really getting ingrained in the Andretti Autosport team, I think it’s actually going to be pretty easy. He already knows Takuma Sato and Alexander Rossi from their stints in F1. So that’s done and dusted.  I don’t know if he’s a fisherman but he maybe should brush up on that a little bit because all Ryan Hunter-Reay really talks about is boats. Other than that I think it’s going to be pretty easy for him. - James Hinchcliffe

Indy just became a must-watch.

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April 11, 2017

Tribute... Parody... Whatever, Sometimes It's Just Right

Long have I been of the belief that the flat-out filthiest instrumental line in the history of rock music is found in Rage Against The Machine's track entitled Killing In The Name Of.  I can take or leave Zach de la Rocha's vocals, but Tim Commerford's punching bass,  Tom Morello's hot guitar lick and Brad Wilk's metronomic drum performance is, in my mind, about as close as you can come to perfection in a post-punk / alt-funk-rap-metal thing.  Listening to live performances of the song, you have no doubt that band came either to play or kick your butt, and they still haven't figured out which they want to do more... so what the hell, let's do both!

Which is why this made do an honest-to-god spit-take when it popped up on my screen.

Actually pretty funky... makes me wonder what the apparently joyless de la Rocha would think of it.  Or any of the cover versions that are out there.  See, there's actually quite the cottage industry around covering the song...

more...

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April 09, 2017

F1 Update!: China 2017

A low and gray sky with a not-insignificant breeze greeted the Thundering Herd as they individually left their pit stalls and rolled out to the grid.  Actually, more often than not they came back through the pit lane for multiple pre-race laps.  There was a good reason for this: it had been raining all morning, and the possibility of rain coming back couldn't be discounted, but at the moment the track was drying.  The decision was clear on tire choice... everybody was on Intermediate rain tires.  Well, almost everybody.  But how would the slick track affect the drivers up front, Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Seb Vettel's Ferrari?  Would a new rainmaster rise up?  And what of Embryo Verstappen, starting 16th after car problems in quals?  THIS is your F1Update! for the 2017 Grand Prix of China!

*LIGHTS ON: While the Inters were the tire of choice, one man dared venture out on the super-soft dry weather tires... Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz.  A pretty massive gamble, but one that came directly from the driver.  Meanwhile, up at the front of the grid, Seb Vettel had positioned his car somewhat off-center in his grid slot... and by "somewhat", we mean "half out."  He was doing this to be pointing in the right direction to challenge Hamilton right off the start, but the degree he was doing it was a clear rules violation.  The assembled members of F1U!'s editorial board were duly surprised when Charlie Whiting, the long-time race master for F1, let the race start without forcing Vettel to fix the problem.

*LIGHTS OUT
:  It didn't matter all that much, however.  Hamilton had a cracking start and held off both the Ferrari driver and his own teammate Valterri Bottas into Turn 1.  Behind them, Verstappen immediately began hacking his way through the field, ending up an amazing seventh after one lap.  Carlos Sainz, beginning the race on slicks, had a less-than-stellar start but quickly began to recover lost places as his tires showed their superiority over the Inters. 

*VSC, SC: Unfortunately Sainz never got to benefit from his gamble.  The Williams of Pleasant Stroll found himself buried in the kittylitter after a botched pass.  As it wasn't in an immediately dangerous location, Whiting called for a Virtual Safety Car.  This meant that everybody had to slow to a certain speed and, critically, hold position.  This let Lewis Hamilton keep his lead, and indeed, technically increase it when Vettel stopped for dry weather tires.  In a way, though, this meant that Vettel had the advantage: the Mercedes driver would have to change tires to slicks eventually, which would put the Ferrari in the catbird seat.  After all, Vettel changed his tires when everybody was rollin' slow.  Hamilton would have to do it when the race was green. The VSC lasted for a lap or so, then the field went back to racin'.  Until Sauber's Tony Snazzy managed to leave half his car scattered down the front straight after blasting the inside wall.  THAT brought out a real safety car, which gave Hamilton the break he needed to change to slicks.  He didn't even lose the lead while doing so.  Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz had to be wondering why the racing gods hated him.  His gamble deserved to work, and yet due to the failures of others, his advantage lasted a grand total of two racing laps.

*MIDDLE: Once the race resumed, Hamilton was in the lead and... Embryo Verstappen was in second place.  16th to 2nd in eight laps, not shabby.  However, the Red Bull driver could not keep up with the Mercedes.  Behind him, Smiley Ricciardo's Red Bull had Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Vettel all over him rear wing.  The Finn was totally unable to effect a pass, and was complaining about his car to boot.  Meanwhile, Vettel was frantically trying to get around his teammate and having a singular lack of success.  This went on for at least 10 laps, while Hamilton opened his lead over Verstappen dramatically.  Eventually, Vettel got past his teammate.  A lap or two later, he blew past Ricciardo and began tracking down the other Red Bull driver.  This chase only last a few laps before Vettel destroyed the youngster.  The difference in pace between the Ferrari and the Red Bull was telling, and he quickly left him in the dust, but the damage had been done: Hamilton had a 10 second lead.  One is forced to wonder why Ferrari didn't tell Raikkonen to let his teammate past... we know they're not afraid to use Team Orders, after all... but it's hard to conclude anything but Ferrari threw away any chance to win the race during the time Vettel spent behind the Finn.

*END: As it turned out, that's exactly what happened.  Hamilton made his last stop for new tires after everybody else, never lost the lead, and cruised to a relatively easy win.  There is reason for optimism down the road, however.  While Hamilton did win handily, he wasn't able to open his lead on Vettel at all, and indeed he lost time here and there.  The Ferrari was actually faster than the Mercedes... but the race was lost during those laps where Vettel couldn't get past his teammate.  Meanwhile, the third step on the podium was claimed by none other than Embryo Verstappen.  From 16th to podium?  That's a useful drive, yep yep!  It's hard to think anything other than we'll be seeing a bunch of those three during the rest of the season.  Carlos Sainz's daring gamble earned him something of a booby prize: he finished seventh.  Points, at least.

*OH, ONE MORE THING...:  Hamilton got himself a Grand Slam today: pole position, fast lap of the race, led every lap, and race win.  That's his third, and only Vettel's four has more among active drivers.  Jim Clark had eight.

So that's it for China, next week we'll be in Bahrain!  See ya there.

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April 08, 2017

F1 Quals: China 2017

For a wonder, it didn't rain!  In many ways, that's great!  Fantastic!  Wonderful!  In other ways, though, it means that there weren't going to be any monkey wrenches thrown into the works and thing'll go the way they have for the past few years.  Here's the provisional grid:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.333 1:32.406 1:31.678
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:33.078 1:32.391 1:31.864
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:33.684 1:32.552 1:31.865
4 Mumbles Räikkönen Ferrari 1:33.341 1:32.181 1:32.140
5 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:34.041 1:33.546 1:33.033
6 Felipe Not Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:34.205 1:33.759 1:33.507
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:34.453 1:33.636 1:33.580
8 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:34.657 1:33.920 1:33.706
9 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:34.440 1:34.034 1:33.719
10 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:33.986 1:34.090 1:34.220
11 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:34.567 1:34.150
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:34.942 1:34.164
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:34.499 1:34.372
14 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:34.892 1:35.046
15 Tony Snazzy Sauber Ferrari 1:34.963 DNP

16 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Honda 1:35.023

17 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:35.223

18 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:35.279

19 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:35.433

20 False Esteban Force India Mercedes 1:35.496


Okay, yes Lewis Hamilton is on pole... again... but the gap back to Vettel's Ferrari is less than .200 of a second.  Which means essentially nothing, as it appears that the Red Cars have better race pace than single-lap.  I'm personally amazed that Bottas is .001 seconds behind... how can two cars be so closely matched?  Did the Finn turn a little too hard at one place?  Did he not get on the gas fast enough?  What???

The first four cars on the grid broke the all-time track record, set by Slappy Schumacher in 2004, of 1:32.238.  Again, that was the V10 era with practically no limits on what sort of aero protuberances you could have...

In other performances of note, Embryo Verstappen was dealing with an engine software issue when Sauber's Tony Snazzy did bad things to his car and the track barriers.  All he could manage was 19th as a result.  Haas's Lettuce Grosjean spun, suffered a puncture, then was dinged for not slowing down in the waved-double-yellow area caused by Snazzy's wreck.  He'll be starting from the back.

Everything else was pretty standard, which is pretty impressive considering the near-total lack of practice time on Friday.  All of this means we should be in for an exciting race on Sunday when the rains come... and yes, rain is predicted.  Buckle them there seatbelts!

F1U! will be along sometime on Sunday.  See ya then-ish!

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April 07, 2017

News To Chew On

First, something a little light-hearted for y'all!  Practice 2 was run today at Shanghai, and I'm going to let you watch the whole thing right here at The Pond.  Ready?

Just stare at this picture for 90 minutes, you'll get the same effect.  It rained and rained and rained and then it fogged all day... P1 was shortened, P2 never got rolling at all.  All that weather meant the medical helicopter couldn't fly... no helicopter, no cars on track.  Fun times!  I love rain delay theater... for baseball, a good broadcast crew can make a rain delay interesting and informative.  The Legendary Announce Team is... well, they're okay when it comes to Rain Delay Theater.  There was some talk about moving the race to Saturday, but that was shot down ASAP.  The race may be... interesting, as the weather isn't expected to improve.

Now for the Interesting (as in "may you live in interesting times" interesting) News.  My boss called me into her office today and we had a talk.  Upshot is, I'm still employed.  I managed to do enough to save my job.

Except that I'm still on the hot seat.  If my average numbers drop below the target for a month, I'm fired... and that state of affairs will last for at least a year, or until I'm fired, whichever comes first.

That was not the conversation I thought we'd be having.  I thought there'd be some congratulations at the great job I did getting my numbers up, or a pat on the head, or something more than "don't get excited yet, you're still in trouble."  So I'll admit to a little bit of downheartedness in my spirit at the moment, yeah.  Always good to get a morale boost, hey?

Quals allegedly in the morning.  See ya then. 

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April 05, 2017

F1 on NBCSN: China 2017

Shanghai... The Pearl of the Orient.  The showpiece of the Chinese economy.  The most populous city proper in the world.  So why the hell can't it sell out the Formula 1 Grand Prix of China???  Here's the trackmap:

Same as it's been since 2004.  Longest straightaway in F1.  I love that Turns 1-4 complex, for whatever reason.  It just looks like Hermann Tilke threw a french curve on his drafting table and said "yep, that's good."  Or his cat got involved.  Whatever, it's not my favorite circuit on the calendar, but it's hardly my least favorite.  It's just... there.  And while you would think that the new aero rules will turn this circuit on its ear, I've seen a report that estimates that the cars are going to be something like three kilograms short on fuel.  With the increased drag and higher engine output guzzling petrol, they think the cars can't legally have enough gas on board to finish the race!  They can carry 105kg, but will need 108.  Lift and coast, lift and coast... and hope for safety cars and rain.  Well, there's a slight chance of rain at least for race day.  That'll keep down the smog at least.

Speaking of race day, the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their level best to make everything exciting!  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 2: 1am - 230am live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 2am - 330am  live on NBCSN
Sunday
Grand Prix of China: 1230a - 330am  live on NBCSN

...of course, all times are Pond Central.  Sometime after the race, the F1Update! team will get off their lazy kiesters and do their usual writeup.  Or something.  We'll see you then, then!

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April 02, 2017

Not Dead Yet! Pt 2

It's been a few days since I last updated y'all on the Great Work Adventure.  What it comes down to is this: if they want to fire me, they've got data to back it up.  If they don't want to fire me, I gave them results to point at to justify it.  Now it's just up to them.

I am not exactly filled with warm fuzzies by this.

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