June 20, 2011

F1 on TV!: Europe 2011

Their short North American sojourn completed, the F1 Circus returns to the Mother Continent this week with the 2011 Grand Prix of Europe.  The European GP has always been a way to get a second race into whatever country has the popular driver at the time... which is why Germany had two races during the height of the Schumi Years.  These days, it's HWMNBN... or at least, it was when the contracts were signed... which is why Spain now gets two races.  To accomplish this feat, Spanish organizers built an all-new track in Valencia, a street circuit!  And oh, did our hopes soar... only to be splatted to the ground like Icarus flying too close to the sun.  A fly being nailed by a flyswatter.  A X being Y'd by a Z (enter your own lousy analogy terms).  Let's take a look at this hope-crushing circuit:

By all rights, a layout like that looks like this should be exciting... like Monaco, but with substantial high-speed sections.  Unfortunately, it hasn't turned out that way.  What we've discovered is that there's just too many turns in just the wrong places.  For example, look at Turn 12: right at the end of the fastest part of the track, should be a great place to pass... except it's followed immediately by Turn 13, turning it into painfully slow chicane.  Anybody passing on the inside of 12 winds up on the outside of 13, where they usually get scraped off by the car being passed... except nobody actually tries passing there, because they know what'll happen.  And that's the problem all around the circuit: almost all the supposedly good passing points are actually soul-destroying chicanes!

At least, that's the way it used to be.  As we've learned this season, the KERS/DRS combination makes even the dull circuits at least mildly interesting.  Throw in the knowledge that Valencia is very wide for a street track and things are looking at least mildly hopeful again.  Pirelli is thinking that tire wear will be high due to the combination of the number of turns (the most in F1), a rough track surface, and the predicted high air temperatures.  They're bringing the Medium and Soft compounds this time around.

Of course, it's hard to forget the "highlight" of last year's race, and I'm not talking about Seb Vettel winning.  I'm talking about his teammate's unexpected peregrinations.

Yup, this is the circuit where Red Bull Air first took flight.  That was also the race that earned Kamui Kobayashi his nickname of "Gandalf."  So it's not been without excitement, it just hasn't been really racing-related.

We'll be treated to the lovely dulcet tones of the Legendary Announce Team as usual.  Alas, we'll be getting the race on tape-delay via FOX... but we'll get to that in a moment.  Coverage begins with live streaming of Friday's 1st Practice from 3am to 430am.  Practice 2 will be live on SPEED from 7am to 840am.  Saturday's 3rd Practice will be streaming as well, from 4am to 5am.  The all-important Quals session comes to us live on SPEED from 7am to 830am.

Finally, the race will be airing on your local FOX affiliate from 11am to 1pm, some five hours after it really begins.  All times are Pond Central, of course.

F1U! will be all over the race weekend, like a X is all over Z, with a side helping of µß.  We'll see you then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 06:33 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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1 Any bets on how many people Hamilton's going to hit this weekend?

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at June 20, 2011 10:15 PM (pWQz4)

2 It's off the board, Av... it's off the board.

Posted by: Wonderduck at June 21, 2011 11:13 AM (OS+Cr)

3 This is somewhat off-topic, but while the Red Bull team is the darling of F1, the Red Bull NASCAR team will not be back next year.  :-( 

Posted by: Mallory at June 21, 2011 11:41 AM (WJ2qy)

4 So what are your thoughts on Lewis & Horner talking in Canada? Not to mention Lotus Renault on the future powerplant & Steve Nielsen quieting, is the silly season starting very early?

Posted by: von Krag at June 21, 2011 07:30 PM (VGXAE)

5 Well to start with, Hamilton is under contract with McLaren through the 2012 season, so nothing will happen until then.  I'm sure Lewis and the Red Bull chief at least had preliminary discussions about him leaving McLaren, but that's all it was, probably: talk.  Ham's been with McLaren since he was six, after all...

Renault is seriously on the short list of teams I don't like right now.  First there's the whole "Lotus" thing, which I don't even want to get into right now.  Now there's all this about the team demanding that the FIA move to the four-cylinder turbo engine in 2013, else they'll quit the sport.  If everybody else wants to stay with the 8 cylinder, I say let Renault leave.  To be blunt, they've threatened to do so before and haven't... I don't believe them.  It's exactly like Ferrari threatening to leave: it'll never happen, because it means too much to them. 

Steve Nielsen is leaving the team at the end of the year. Renault is... how shall we say?... restructuring their higher-ups; chief designer Bob Bell is gone too, shuffled out by the reorganization.  Alan Permaine will be taking over Nielsen's duties as Sporting Director... he's no stranger to those of us who watch SPEED, as he's a good friend of Steve Matchett, one of the Legendary Announce Team, and one-time Renault race engineer.  I suspect that we'll be seeing Flavio Briatore back sooner or later...

Posted by: Wonderduck at June 21, 2011 08:24 PM (n0k6M)

6 I'm in favor of setting a size limit then "run what you bring", but seeing this on the BBC F1 site gives new meaning to the word politics.

Formula 1 bosses have agreed to delay the introduction of new 'green' engines by a year until 2014.
The move comes after opposition to the early switch to 1.6-litre turbo engines fitted with extensive hybrid technology from the current 2.4-litre V8s.
As part of the compromise, the new engine formula will be for six-cylinder engines rather than the four-cylinder units that were originally agreed.

Ah well it wouldn't be F1 without someone acting like peeved child.

Posted by: von Krag at June 22, 2011 01:07 PM (VGXAE)

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