April 07, 2014
*LIGHTS OUT: To say the first lap of this race was exciting would be understating the case. When the lights were extinguished, all manner of hoo-hah (technical F1 term) broke loose. For example, Felipe Massa got the jump of a lifetime from seventh and found himself in third by the first turn, while Hamilton managed to take first from his teammate, but only after the two of them went hammer-and-tongs with each other. Up and down the field, you saw ridiculously successful moves, enough tire smoke to eliminate malaria from the Earth, all of it accompanied by showers of sparks caused by the dragging of legality planks, a sight we don't see that often during the day. Even when Jules Vergne's Toro Rosso crawled into the pits with a rear tire shredded, we had excitement as he got on the radio saying that he had been hit by "...the crazy Lotus guy. I don't know who it is. Absolutely mental!" (Mr Maldonado, please pick up the red courtesy phone.) The F1U! analysis team just sort of fell about the place at that one. Little did we know...
*MIDRACE: Things more or less settled down after three or four laps, which allowed everybody to catch their breath and notice that the two Mercedes cars had opened up a three-second gap to third-place Felipe Massa. A gap that, ominously, continued to grow: nine seconds after eight laps, nearly 14 seconds after 13 laps. Rosberg continued to bird-dog Hamilton, bouncing back and forth between a half-second behind and over a full second. It was obvious that, barring incident, the race was firmly in the hands of the Silver Arrows. Things got really weird on Lap 16 when the Red Bull pit wall got on the radio to 4Time Vettel... and told him to pull over and let his teammate Daniel Ricciardo go by, as he was faster and stood a better chance to catching the lead pack.
*SAFETY CAR: That's pretty much the way it stayed for most of the race... Shiv Hamilton leading Nico Rosberg, with everybody else fighting for third. We also got the wonderful image of Luca di Montezemelo, Chairman of Ferrari, turning away in disgust as HWMNBN was blown away by a Force India. And then the entire race changed as a Safety Car was called out (see "Moment of the Race", below), bunching the entire field back up and giving the field hope that, this time perhaps they could keep the Mercedes duo in the same area code. The long, long Safety Car period saw pit walls up and down the paddock rubbing their hands together in anticipation: plenty of fuel for the final 10-lap dash to the checkered flag. Even the F1U! historian, dozing on the lounge after the completion of his massage, roused himself for this one.
*GO FAST: The restart proved to be anticlimactic in one way: the Silver Arrows went screaming off into the night, opening a four second lead in a single lap. Part of that was simply because the two Mercedes were just faster than everybody else. The other part, though, is that positions three through nine were held by five Mercedes-powered cars and the two Red Bulls. They were so busy attacking and defending against each other, sometimes at the same time, that nobody had the time to try and drive perfectly and thus catch up to the top two. This melee caused the TV Director no end of headaches as once again, Hamilton and Rosberg were once again going tooth-and-nail with each other. Indeed, it was getting so tight that Paddy Lowe, Merc Tech Director, got on the radio to both his drivers to point out that it'd be best to get both cars to the finish, as opposed to one or both in the fence or as scattered pieces of carbon fiber. It's good that he reminded them of this, because it was only a few laps later that the two of them had their tires overlapped... just think what would have happened if they weren't told to be careful. The two of them would continue to race until the end, with Hamilton leading Rosberg across the line by just under a second... and 24 seconds ahead of third place.
*BUT: Back in third place, Force India's Sergio Perez had opened a tiny gap between himself and the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, but it was quickly fading with but a few laps left. Meanwhile, in fifth place, Force India's Nico Hulkenberg had 4Time Vettel staring at his rear wing, just begging for a single mistake that his fading RB10 could exploit. It never came, though. Just ahead of them, Ricciardo was doing everything he could think of to get past Perez on the last lap. The F1U! crew admits to rooting for Force India in ways usually reserved for the Chicago Cubs. The wishes and hopes of us (and most of the rest of the world, it must be admitted) guided Perez across the finish line 4/10th of a second ahead of Ricciardo. The two Williams drivers crossed the line behind Vettel, at least close enough to see him. Third through 10th places were covered by nine seconds, bringing a great race to a close.
*DRIVER OF THE RACE: As much as we wish to give this to Sergio Perez, Shiv Hamilton deserves it more. While he led all but three laps, his teammate Nico Rosberg was always right there, grimly hanging onto his rear wing, looking for any chance to mug him for first place. It never came. When Rosberg forced the issue, Hamilton wasn't afraid to hip-check him into the Persian Gulf if need be. It looked easy, it was anything but.
*TEAM OF THE RACE: Nope, not Mercedes. Force India got their first podium since 2009 and their best two-car finish ever. Break open those Kingfishers, guys, you deserve 'em!
*MOMENT OF THE RACE: On Lap 41, Candy Maldonado swung into the pits for his final tire change. Upon exiting, he managed to drive directly into the side of the Sauber of Esteban! The weird twin-tusk of the Lotus went right under the side of the Sauber, with the effect that you might think:
After the Sauber stopped flipping, flopping and flooping, Esteban! managed to key his radio to plaintively ask "What was that?!?" THAT was the Maldozer, Esteban!. The accident brought out the Safety Car, which gave us the exciting race end, thereby earning the Moment of the Race!
*SELECTED DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE:
"I win." - Shiv Hamilton
"I don't like him very much." - Nico Rosberg
"Holy crap! I'M ON THE PODIUM!" - Sergio Perez
"No penalties? I've not been excluded? Aces!" - Daniel Ricciardo
"It's not a podium, but it's pretty damn good." - Nico Hulkenberg
"What is this sixth crap? Don't you know who I am?" - 4Time Vettel
"How did I get away so well at the start? VTEC kicked in, yo." - Felipe Massa
"What is wrong with you?" - Valtteri Bottas
"Where'd di Montezemelo get off to?" - HWMNBN
"mrmrmslkjdsfmmdml mdmdmrmrmrmrbl mrlrbrbrbrbrbllrllrmbb." - Kimi Raikkonen
China two weeks hence. Until then, friends.
Posted by: ReallyBored at April 07, 2014 10:57 PM (0Muxw)
I think that the Force India pit must have been ecstatic at the end with their cars coming in 3-5. What an awesome performance!
And I love the idea of a Force India out-driving Vettel.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 08, 2014 12:11 AM (+rSRq)
Don't get me wrong, the drivers for Force India and Williams all did good jobs too (and people were going at it hammer and tongs, a slip-up could have easily knocked out both cars from the team). There was some phenomenal driving going on.
But damn! that was some good racing. How long has it been since the director couldn't cover all the good battles going on, cutting from one right to the next?
Posted by: Avatar at April 08, 2014 03:39 AM (IopVv)
Posted by: Wonderduck at April 08, 2014 06:22 AM (cTMj+)
Posted by: Pete at April 08, 2014 10:19 AM (RqRa5)
That's 15 more pounds of natural downforce!
Posted by: Wonderduck at April 08, 2014 08:15 PM (gfqzh)
Posted by: Dreamshadow (Tom Tjarks) at April 09, 2014 10:01 AM (T5fuR)
Posted by: Wonderduck at April 09, 2014 08:32 PM (0VFKi)
Posted by: Avatar at April 09, 2014 10:21 PM (IopVv)
Posted by: zneyekyc at May 23, 2014 11:22 AM (F6IU0)
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