April 18, 2010

F1 Update!: Grand Prix of China 2010

The F1U! Staff stayed up very late to watch this race live, so we're a little wiped out right now.  However, the show must go on, and THIS is your F1 UPDATE! for the 2010 Grand Prix of China!

*WHOOPS!:  Red Bull sat on the front row and looked like the clear favorites to win the race, but nobody counted on the great equalizer of F1: rain.  As the cars sat on the grid before the recon lap, it began to spit, but nobody seemed particularly concerned.  Indeed, during the pre-race coverage the rain stopped and started a couple of times.  In conditions like that the drivers have to be a bit more aware of the track, but on the whole slick tires can handle it.  Vettel had to be feeling particularly confident; he's considered one of the best rain drivers in F1, along with Lewis Hamilton and Slappy Schumacher, and he had the fastest car... "bring on the rain," he must have been thinking.

*UH-OH:  From the start, it was obvious that this was not going to be a normal F1 race.  When the lights went out, Ferrari's HWMNBN looked like he had the greatest start ever from 3rd, while Vettel seemed to be a little slow getting off the line.  The Red Car's start was so good, in fact, that it was in front of the two Red Bulls and pulling away, even before the thundering herd reached the first turn.  Too good, as a matter of fact: HWMNBN had jumped the lights and was nearly a half-length out of his grid slot before the starting lights were extinguished.  He'd get a drive-through penalty for that infraction, which would normally be the kiss of death for his chances... but this to be was no normal race.

*GEEZ, NOW WHAT?:  Back in the horde, Force India's Vitantonio Liuzzi was having difficulty.  He'd been unable to get much in the way of heat into his tires on the recon lap due to the weather conditions: cloudy and about 70 degrees.  At the start, he managed to pick up a position or two but when it came time to apply the brakes for Turn 4, he locked up his rears altogether.  The car became an uncontrollable object, and he arrowed (backwards!) right into the path of the turning Seb Buemi, collecting Kamui Kobyashi in the process. 

The hulks came to rest just barely off the asphalt which was bad enough, but debris from the crash was scattered all the way across the turn.  It was obvious that the track workers couldn't get the wreckage clear in time, and Charlie Whiting called out the Safety Car... a move that, in retrospect, played hob with almost everybody's plans.

*FACEPALM: As the field perambulated behind the Safety Car the rain began to pick up.  This sent many of the cars, led by HWMNBN and Red Bull's Mark Webber, to the pit lane for Intermediate tires.  Seb Vettel lost out on this exchange, being forced to stack behind his teammate in the pits, and losing a ton of places in the process.  Not all of the cars pitted however, as Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, McLaren's Jenson Button, and both Renaults stayed out, placing those four in the lead as the Safety Car came in on Lap 3.  The question became how long they'd be able to stay out on slicks as the rain continued to come down.  Once the race restarted, it became clear that a little more than half the cars were on Inters and praying for rain, and the rest were hoping it stayed dry... and it only took a lap for the teams to realize that those who stayed on the dry tires had made the right decision.  Slappy Schumacher was the first to come in for a second change of tires, followed by everybody else on lap 5.  The Inters had already been worn smooth, killed in two laps.  All these pit stops had the effect of scrambling the grid, not aided by HWMNBN'd serving his drive-through penalty on top of two stops for tires.  This gave us some fun, if not confusing, racing as the heavy hitters wound their way through those teams less fortunate.  Somewhere around lap 18, race leader Nico Rosberg badly blew a turn, allowing Jenson Button to get past him for the lead.

*AS IF THAT WASN'T ENOUGH: On lap 20, it began to rain again, and again it was decision time.  Webber and Slappy came in for Inters first, followed by the two Ferraris who were running together.  In a bizarre incident, HWMNBN intentionally forced his teammate into Hamilton Beach, overtaking Massa in the entry to the pit lane.  Button and Rosberg came in together a lap later for rain tires.  Then the Gods of Racing played a practical joke on NKOTT, breaking his front wing pylons.  He barely made it into the pit lane before they let go altogether, sending the wing under the car and throwing carbon fiber shards all over the pit entry.  As a result, another Safety Car was called out (for reasons that are unclear).  This was a gift for those in the field that had goofed to begin with, as Button, Rosberg and Renault's Robert Kubica had opened up a nearly-50-second lead, which was now cut to nothing.  The Safety Car came in on lap 25, and weirdness ensued.  The SC leaves the track early at Shanghai, allowing the leader to control the pace leading up to the start/finish line, and Button drove as slow as a 90-year-old grandma in a Chevy Land Cruiser, causing the field to bunch up like rush-hour in Chicago.  At one point, the accordion effect had the field four cars wide as everybody tried to whoa up and not pass accidentally. 

*TAKE A DEEP BREATH: On Lap 35, the leaders came in for their second stops for fresh Inters (contrast this to everybody else, who were on their fifth or sixth stops).  Button stayed in the lead, but Rosberg couldn't hold of Lewis Hamilton, who passed him for second place and set off after his McLaren teammate.  While he closed up the gap, it became clear that he had killed his tires in doing so, and Button opened the lead back up to nearly 15 seconds in just a few laps, seemingly guaranteeing himself the easy win.

*GACK:  And then Button threw his McLaren off the road.  In that one move, he lost half his lead over Hamilton, and by the way his car was twitching and squirming it was obvious that his tires had gone off as well.  Hamilton managed to claw his way back up, eating up big chunks of time and making everybody wonder what would happen when he began to pressure Button.

*FINALLY:  While Hamilton got within 1.5 seconds of Button, he could get no closer as they began the final lap.  The reigning world champion kept his McLaren on the island for the entire lap despite his tires, and brought it home to become the first driver to win two races this year.  Just an epically confusing, epically enjoyable race!

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Jenson Button made the right decisions on what tires to be on, and when.  His teammate did not.  However, Hamilton managed to overcome his mistakes and drove an incredible race, forcing his way up the field, and getting within two seconds of Button's car when it was all over.  Along the way, he passed just about every big name on the grid (including an epic duel with Slappy Schumacher) with relative ease.  Great drive for Lewis.

*TEAM OF THE RACE: McLaren earned their first 1-2 finish since 2008 in a confusing scramble of a race.  Renault earns an honorable mention; while they ended up 5-7, for most of the race they were third and fourth and hanging onto Button and Rosberg.  A nice result for a team under pressure from the upstart Force India team.

*MOVE OF THE RACE: There were a lot to choose from, but on Lap 12, Lewis Hamilton was trailing behind Adrian Sutil and Mark Webber as the three of them diced for position coming down the long back straight, the three of them weaving and dekeing as they raced down at 200mph.

Sutil was dueling with Webber, the two of them holding off on braking as late as possible; the first to blink would lose the battle.  Hamilton, on the other hand, slowed a touch before the others.

As the other two swung wide, Lewis took the inside line and got on the gas a touch faster, powering past and picking up two places in one outstanding manuever.

Webber added a bit of drama by making a move on Sutil while trying to keep up with the McLaren, but Sutil managed to keep him back.  Just an great bit of racing by all three in iffy conditions and close quarters.

*MOOOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE RACE:  I don't care that they're a new team, Virgin did something so embarassing that I still can't believe it occurred.  As the cars rolled off on the recon lap, it became clear that Timo Glockenspiel wasn't moving.  It's not uncommon to have a car stall on the grid, of course.  Why Glockenspiel wasn't rolling off was something much, much stupider.

They left his front end jacked up when the personnel left the grid.  How in the world did nobody notice that???  Congratulations, Virgin, you've just won the stupidest Moooooooooo-oooove of all time.


...will be coming later.  The F1U! team is tired, hungry and needs a nap.  It's later.

"This is my best victory in Formula 1... made even better by the fact that I did it as a member of Hamilton's team.  Remember when everybody was saying that I was gonna be the #2 driver here?  Not sayin' that so much anymore, are you?  Huh?  Let's hear you say it now... c'mon, say it!" - Jenson Button

"I'd like to thank the team for their impeccable strategy decisions today.  I'd like to thank the mechanics for their flawless execution during the pitstops.  I'd like to thank the engineers back at Woking for giving me such a good car.  I'd like to thank the fans for supporting us.  And I'd particularly like to thank McLaren's media supervisor for telling me what to say today." - Lewis Hamilton

"(singing) Old man, look at my life, I'm a lot like you were... Old man, look at my life, 24 and there's so much more..." - Nico Rosberg

"My reflexes let me down, and I'm very disappointed with myself.  Mostly for getting caught." - HWMNBN

"Why the hell was there a second Safety Car, can anybody tell me that?  It cost me a damn podium." - Robert Kubica

"Obviously our main competitors finished ahead, so that’s not nice." - Seb Vettel (note: real quote)

"This is my first finish in my F1 career, and my first points, too.  Bet you didn't notice that, did you?" - Vitaly Petrov

"Interesting Grand Prix.  We got a bit blown away - we weren’t quick enough, simple as that" - Mark Webber (note: real quote)

"Wasn't I in first place in the Championship standings going into this race?  I don't even know what happened today!" - Felipe Massa

"Today was one of those races that you do not want to remember.  I think you have to compliment the English team (McLaren - ed.) and say congratulations to them - done a great job. I had a nice battle with Lewis at some point, some nice kissing to each other." - Slappy Schumacher (note: real quotes.  Guess Slappy's been away from his wife for too long...)

"Some times you win, some time you lose, and some times, it rains." - Adrian Sutil

"It's all somebody else's fault." - Rubens Barrichello

"What is it I don't even..." - NKOTT

"I'm smiling on the outside, but driving this crap car is killing me inside." - Heikki Kovaleinninninnie

"MEH.  HULK CRAP." - Nico Hulkenberg

"Finishing in the top 20 is a good result." - Bruno Senna

"Finishing only four laps down is pretty good!" - Karun Chandok

"We might actually have a halfway mediocre car if we could fix the hydraulics problem!" - Jarno Trulli

"I left my clutch somewhere on the track.  Ugly, ugly sound, that." - Lucas Di Grassi

"I was in fourth place for a few laps, which was nice.  Then I don't know what happened." - Pete Rose

"You know what?  SCREW THIS NOISE.  First my tires eject themselves, now I'm run over by a freakin' Force India on the first frickin' lap?  Screw you, F1, just screw you." - Seb Buemi (note: understandably frustrated)

"My start was good, but after a few corners Vitantonio Liuzzi's car just flew into mine and I was out.  I still haven't finished a race this year." - Kamui Kobyashi (note: real quote)

"Like, AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, dude." - Vitantonio Liuzzi

"*baleful glare*" - Timo Glockenspiel

Now the F1 Circus heads back to Europe.  By plane.  Yeah, they're screwed.  They might not make it back home for another week, according to some of the teams.  However, the next race won't be for another three weeks, so they've got a little bit of time. 

And so do we.  Nap time!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 02:08 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
Post contains 2231 words, total size 15 kb.

1 Sounds like it was a zoo. As they say in baseball, "On any given day..."

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 18, 2010 03:30 PM (+rSRq)

2 1. The point about Button vs. Hamilton is very well taken.

2. I noticed Petrov, and it was a good result. Actually, a very good result for a pay driver. But he's still consistently slower than his teammate (as expected).

3. I suspect you may be too hard on poor Rubens. He keeps doing better than Hulk, at his age. Unlike some other old guy, BTW.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at April 18, 2010 03:42 PM (/ppBw)

3 Pete, I may very well be too hard on Rubens.  However, during the run of F1U!, the character of Barrichello has always been a punching bag... he's been a lush, a whiner, a complainer and someone who's always blamed someone else.  Only the first of those is something I've had to make up.  While he's been on very good behavior so far this season, I suspect that behind the scenes there's a lot of noise.

I've also had David Coulthard's Chin being obsessed with signing his name and a chronic swearer... and the actual driver being just an appendage to his prominent chin: all probably not true.  I've had Robert Kubica and his then teammate Grizzly Nick Heidfeld in a unrequited love affair.  Probably not true.  I've had Kimi Raikkonen be entirely unable to speak english.  Not true, no matter how funny his interviews sound.  I've had Max Mosley be a disciple of his father with a predilection towards role-playing hookers.  Not true... oh wait, yes it is.

If my quotes for Rubens aren't true, well, neither are most of the other quotes aren't either.  It's more fun that way!

Posted by: Wonderduck at April 18, 2010 05:59 PM (mfPs/)

4 Ok!  I admit it!  You were right and I was wrong!  Happy now?!?!?!?!  The China GP sucked!!!!  *pouting...a lot*  I'm gonna go download some Indycar now.  Maybe that'll be better. 

Posted by: Gerberette at April 18, 2010 07:22 PM (0erIh)

5 Monty twittered today that he was watching Indy race and it was boring with many exclamation marks.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at April 18, 2010 07:28 PM (/ppBw)

6 Gerberette, I may have said that the GP of China would suck, but at least in my mind, I was wrong.  I had a blast watching it... hell, it kept me awake until 4am watching it, I MUST have enjoyed it!  I can't imagine how anybody would have found it unenjoyable.  Rain makes every F1 race better.

Posted by: Wonderduck at April 18, 2010 08:23 PM (mfPs/)


Nope.  I hated it.  For the most part.  Might be because I'm not happy with the video coverage though.  I don't like rain either, but that might be because I live in Central New York, the home of rain.  Rain was born here, you know.  I prefer to see my F1 races in sunny, foreign lands.  LOL.  (((Maybe the fact that there was snow in the air last night has finally killed my good senses.  Man, that's depressing!  Snow!!!)))

Pete - Thanks for warning about Indycar.  Guess I'll just avoid that too.  

Posted by: Gerberette at April 18, 2010 09:55 PM (0erIh)

8 NY is the home of rain? Ha! It is to laugh! The Willamette valley is the home of rain, I'll have you know. It rains here more than half the days of the year.

(I feel comfortable writing this because I know that no one who lives in the Amazon basin reads the Duck's blog.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 18, 2010 11:40 PM (+rSRq)


Bravo on the F1 Update!  Great job, especially since there was so much to cover.  Usually in the rain, the race becomes a parade, but not this time.

I'm glad I waited and watched the afternoon repeat.  F1 turned out to be pretty much the only race on TV this weekend.  It's Monday and the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide races are still waiting to get underway because of weekend rain.   


Posted by: Mallory at April 19, 2010 08:19 AM (WJ2qy)

10 Steven - I was interested enough to look it up.  I used Portland, OR vs Syracuse, NY.  Hope that's ok with you.  I googled Willamette Valley and that's what I got.

Portland averages 36.5" rain per year.  Syracuse averages 39.2".  You know, that's a contest I didn't really want to win.  (The Amazon gets 80".  But we've agreed to ignore that.)  More interesting is that the majority of Portland's rain occurs during the winter months while Syracuse gets about 3" every stinkin' month.  Yep, the summer's are miserable too.

Plus there's the snow issue...


Wow.  I need to move.

Wonderduck - Sorry for hijacking your F1 comments section.  You really are brilliant! 

Posted by: Gerberette at April 19, 2010 09:24 AM (kSa+t)

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