August 20, 2005

F1 Turkey: Practice & Quals!

I. LOVE. THIS. TRACK.

The Autodrom is just a fabulous layout. That quad-apex turn (#8 on your scorecard) will become a classic if the Turkish GP lasts more than a few years (and I can't imagine why it wouldn't).

I've been looking forward to this race for a while... originally because it's been three long weeks since the last tilt in Hungary, but now because of the track. That qual session was termed "sloppy" there at the end, and it surely was, but that's because none of the drivers had more than 30 laps or so practice time in on the course, and that's a tough track. I'll agree with the "mickey mouse" aspect of the last three turns, but even that doesn't do much to make me unhappy.

That's one sweet slab of asphalt they got there in Istanbul.

Of course, Mitchell Schumacher might disagree with me. Seven spins in two days, including one that led to a no-time in qualifying, did a fine job of deep-sixing my "front three rows" prediction for him. He really didn't seem comfortable out there.

But then nobody did, and that includes Kimi. Of course, it's hard to tell when he's uncomfortable out there being so still in the cockpit, but he did wind up sawing at the wheel for a moment there. Didn't matter; he still ended up on pole.

Giancarlo Fisichella came from out of nowhere to end up 2nd. PREDICTION SURE TO GO WRONG: by the end of the first lap, Fisi will be fifth. His teammate, Fernando Alonso, is 3rd, right behind Kimi on the clean side of the track. The Pope is 4th.

Lets think about this: the only four cars to have a realistic chance of winning this race are 1-2-3-4, alternating positions inside-to-out. This is gonna be one heckuva start if nothing else!

Jarno "The Engineer" Trulli is 5th, and will be somewhere around 12th or 13th by the time the 10th lap goes by. Nick Heidfeld is 6th after a very nice lap for the Williams team.

Which brings us to the frustration that must be Mark Webber's life right now. I don't think anybody would disagree that he would have AT LEAST been 6th, and maybe 5th, if it wasn't for Takuma Sato doing... I don't even know what Taku was doing out there. Taking a nap? Sightseeing? For his sake, it had better be something like figuring out how to get another 20mph out of his BAR, because he got his qual time thrown out and will start from the very back from the pack. Which doesn't do much for Mark Webber, but it DOES effectively put a stake thru the career of 'Suicide' Sato. Felipe Massa turned in another of his patented "stare into the depths of space" lap (so-called because that what he makes me do when he's turning laps) to end up 8th.

Cora Schumacher's husband ended up 9th, Christian Klein 10th (which was pretty good, considering that he's in the running for Mooooo-ve of the Week). Rubens BARrichello is 11th, and David Coulthard wound up 12th.

Jensen Button had one of the more exciting qual laps of the day, with his slip'n'slide in the quad-apex turn 8... which leads me to my next PREDICTION SURE TO GO WRONG: Someone will blow that/those turns so badly during the race that they'll find the blue kittylitter. At speed. Maybe sideways. Tiago Montiero is 14th; his Jordan didn't look any twitchier than usual. In fact, since everybody else was having handling problems today, he looked quite normal. Maybe his pit crew isn't trying to kill him this week.

Christijan Albers was the last person to successfully turn in a lap time, in 15th. 16th thru 19th will be Doorknob, Villeneuve, Karthekain, and Mitchell Schumacher, in some order that I can't figure out. Doorknob gave us our little bit of humor for the day, with his Minardi flambe. It seems typical of Guido & Ethel's team that they were telling him to bring it in, don't shift, don't touch the brakes, and he's on the radio saying "why not," oblivious to the smoke billowing from behind him. The Track Marshall telling the Minardi crew to "move that flaming pile out of the way" was another moment of light humor. Schumacher and Villeneuve lost their way on the track. We never did find out why Karthekain pulled in before he even bothered to take a lap.

Then we've got 'Suicide' Sato. Dead last, after trying to keep Webber from passing him. That's fine during the race, not so good during quals. "What was Sato doing?" "We know, Mark, we know." Classic team radio.

So, that's it. We've gots ourselves a race! Get your pogaca and beyaz peynir, grab a cup of deeply vile coffee, and settle in for a true Turkish delight.

F1 Update sometime in the afternoon, central time.

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