May 14, 2014

F1 Update!: Spain 2014

(We're back!  Thanks to Pixy for fixing the servers!)

An overcast sky from overnight rains greeted the masses as they congregated at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcalounger.  As the F1 Circus rolled onto the starting grid, their tasks-at-hand was quite simple.  For the two Mercedes drivers, sitting 1-2 at the top of the field, it was "beat your teammate."  One, Nico Rosberg, won the first race of the season, finished second in the other three, and held the Driver's Championship points lead.  The other, Lewis Hamilton, had won the last three races and sat on pole.  For the other 20 drivers, the job was "beat Mercedes."  Could anybody manage that task today?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2014 Grand Prix of Spain!

*LIGHTS OUT:  That last question was answered shortly after the race began: "no."  Hamilton  got away cleanly while Rosberg had a mediocre start, allowing the 2008 World Champion to open up a couple of seconds worth of lead.  It never got much larger than that, promising an interesting struggle between the two in the long run.  Behind them, however, the rest of the field could only gasp in full-blown horror as the Silver Arrows disappeared into the distance at a rate of a second per lap.  It became pretty obvious that we were looking at a race that was likely to be won in the pit lane, not on track.  And then the entire F1U! analysis team dozed off in their comfy chairs.

*RED HOT PIT ACTION:  We were woken up (see "Moment of the Race", below) just in time for the first round of pit stops... where nothing really happened.  Of the Merc drivers, Hamilton pitted first on Lap 18, relinquishing the lead to Rosberg.  Surprisingly, the robotic Mercedes pit crew coughed up a four-second pit stop for the Brit.  Not horrible, surely, but not what they usually manage either.  His teammate stopped on Lap 20 after cranking out a fast lap, had a three-second long pitstop... and wound up only 3.8 seconds behind his Hamilton.

*WASH RINSE REPEAT:  The rest of the race was exactly the same until the final round of pitstops around Lap 40.  The two Merc drivers were on different tire strategies, with Hamilton starting on Mediums, putting on another set of Mediums at the first stop, and having to put on a set of Hard tires during the last stint.  Meanwhile, Rosberg's strategy was Medium-Hard-Medium, hoping to take advantage of the softer compound to chase down his teammate.  This was clearly a concern for the British driver, as he was constantly asking his pit wall how far behind his teammate was, where was he picking up time, etc etc etc.  The lead began to drop.

*DRAMATIC FINISH?  HA HA NO.:  While Rosberg was whittling away at Hamilton's lead, one never got the feeling that he could really catch his teammate.  He got close, finishing just over a half-second behind as the race ended.  After the race, he suggested that if he just had another lap or two, he could have attacked the leader.  But he didn't have those two laps, and thus is now second in the Driver's Championship.

*EEEK!: The rest of the field could only watch in awe and terror.  The two Mercedes lapped everybody up to Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, in 7th place, and was very close to lapping HWMNBN in 6th at the end, finishing 87 seconds ahead on a circuit where the fast lap was 88.  The third place finisher, Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, was nearly 50 seconds in arrears.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  It annoys us to have to do this, but Red Bull's Seb Vettel began the race in 15th after a gearbox failure in Quals.  He managed to work his way up the field to end up in 4th, behind his teammate Ricciardo.  Okay, yes, he was 20-some seconds behind his podium-standing teammate, but still.  Ugh.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Mercedes.  They're so dominant it's frightening.  At least Red Bull looked like they could be caught, occasionally, but this?  Yeesh.

*MOMENT OF THE RACE:  The knock on the door just in time for the first pit stops, heralding the arrival of tasty tasty pizza from Maciano's.  The F1U! analysis crew are big fans of the double-dough pizza with sausage and extra cheese, which was on the menu today.  Their stuffed pizza is tasty and recommended.  Strangely, we're not fans of their Chicago-style deep dish pizza, which uses a different, sweeter, sauce.  That the knock on the door woke the assembled scribblers from a collective sleep should tell you everything you need to know about the action level of the 2014 Grand Prix of Spain.


"Four in row.  Wicked!" - Lewis Hamilton

"I don't like finishing second." - Nico Rosberg (note: real quote.  Then DO something about it already!)

"Hooly dooly, eh?  Tickle me grandma." - Daniel Riccardo (note: real quote)

"I don't know why Riccardo couldn't have pulled over and let me by.  The team will hear my displeasure." - 4Time Vettel

"As a Finn, I can't help but wonder... why doesn't my last name have thirty letters and be practically unspellable?" - Valtteri Bottas

"At least I finished on the same lap as the leaders.  That's gotta count for something." - HWMNBN

"mrmrmdbrmrmr  rmmrmrlrbrlrnrr mrmrmrrbrbrmrmrlrlrl rmmrlrrbrlr." - Kimi Raikkonen

"Would you believe these points are the first of the season for Lotus?" - Lettuce Grosjean

"Here's how weird this season is: Ferrari just now passed Force India in the Constructor's Championship." - Sergio Perez

"We're still solid midpackers, though." - Nico Hulkenberg

In two weeks, the Circus goes to the strangest place on the calendar.  The race through the streets of a small French fishing village.  If it wasn't Monaco, there's no way they'd be racing there... but it is, and it's the crown jewel of the season.  Two weeks from now, we'll see ya in the Princepality!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 06:54 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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Yay! You're back!

Even if the top two cars are pretty much unbeatable for now (unless somebody figures out something techie pretty fast, or somebody in a Silver Arrow makes a mistake), you'd think there'd be more of a race for third.

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at May 14, 2014 07:53 AM (nh8FR)

2 Both Force India cars finished in the points again! Bravo!

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at May 14, 2014 08:11 AM (+rSRq)

3 The big question is, which rules changes have resulted in such good cars from Mercedes?  Or would their cars have been this good if the rules were the same as last year? 

Posted by: Dreamshadow (Tom Tjarks) at May 14, 2014 05:25 PM (T5fuR)

4 DreamTomShadowTjarks, I think it's really just down to Mercedes having the best power unit and good aero.  The RB10 probably has better aerodynamics, but the lousy Renault engine.  Ferrari is slightly above average at everything, and it's showing in their march to solid mediocrity. 

The second line of teams are follow the Big Three.  Mercedes power beats Ferrari and Renault. 

Posted by: Wonderduck at May 14, 2014 07:30 PM (dhChJ)

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