November 07, 2005

F1 Update: United States!

The second of the old F1 Updates! from the original version of Wonderduck's Pond over on blogspot. After rereading these, I'm amazed at how ANGRY I was.

This entry is actually something like 12 seperate entries over a week of time; unlike the originals, these are in chronological order (Friday's practices were watched out of order, due to work-related reasons).

So, below the jump, the saga of the US Grand Prix! Wednesday, June 15, 2005

F1 Coverage This Week.

Oh, what a wonderful thing it is to be a F1 fan in America this week. The world's most high-tech race cars, running around the world's most famous racetrack: INDIANAPOLIS! Yeah, you can have your Daytona or your Bristol, but nothing beats The Brickyard for legends. And if you can't be there in person (I was working on it this year... maybe next year), the good people at SPEED have a ginormous amount of coverage for your viewing pleasure. Lets take a look, shall we?

Friday: 11a-3p, Practice @ Indy, Live. Both of Friday's practice sessions, with two hours of interviews, sights, and other wacky stuff. Oh, and did I mention that Danica Patrick is gonna show up, too? She and BAR-Honda's Jensen Button were teammates a few years back, and have stayed friends. Too bad she's not gonna be driving a demonstration car like we thought...

Friday: 11p – 130a, Canadian GP (replay). Let us hit our knees and thank the Great God Fangio that SPEED understands us fans. They've got the whole Canadian GP for us, just like it was live... which means that we might actually find out what freakin' HAPPENED!!!

Saturday: 12n – 1p, Practice @ Indy, Live. They practice on Saturdays? Who knew??? (Yes, I know, a lot of you are saying "Who cares?")

Saturday: 1p – 2p, Qualifying @ Indy, Live. This is it, the one and only qualifying round! Will the Fabulous Minardi Twins outqual anybody? Will a Jordan driver die behind the wheel of their twitchy car? Will anybody actually notice Sauber? Oh yeah, and all those other guys, yadda.

Sunday: 930a – 10a, F1 Preview Live from Indy. This is new... the broadcast crew of Steve Matchett, Dave Hobbs, and (our Broadcast Hero) Bob Varsha will sit and chat for a half-hour about the coming race... this should be fun!

Sunday: 12n – 1230p, Inside Grand Prix. "Brought to you by Allianz, the company that nobody has any idea what they do... but they've got a snooty-voiced guy who narrates, so it MUCH be good!"

Sunday: 1230p – 3pm, US Grand Prix LIVE. My money is on either Kimi or Juan Pablo, but my heart is ridin' with Takuma Sato. And Minardi. Bring Back Zsolt!

All times Central, of course... that's where the Pond is! Set the VCRs, break out the bagels, and lets get ready for some racin'!!!

posted by Wonderduck @ 6/15/2005 07:16:00 PM

Friday, June 17, 2005

Friday First Test @ Indy

Well, nothing really to report. Cars went out, cars came in. A few voyages to the kitty litter that everybody escaped from unharmed. It did seem like everybody had a problem with ride height, though. Coming into the big banked turn (turn 13 on the GP track, turn 1 for the Indy 500), most if not all of the cars would bottom out and just leave a huge cloud of plank smoke behind them.

Of course, the "plank" is the FIA Legality Plank, a chunk of wood that's attached to the underside of all F1 cars to judge how high off the ground the bottom of the cars are. If you scrape off more than 1 mm of thickness from the plank, the car is excluded, or DQ'd. During the race, cars bottom out all the time, but usually not as much as this. The greatly disliked Derek Daly, who is working the pit lane for SPEED this weekend, mentioned that when one of the Toyotas (they ARE having problems today, aren't they?) went by, he could literally smell burning wood.

I'm no expert at F1 racing, but I'm pretty sure that's not a good thing.

Oh, Pedro DeLaRosa, one of the 3rd drivers, had fast lap for the session... and then had the car shut down on him a couple of turns later. The reports were that the Ignition Limiter cut out: when something goes out of whack that the onboard computers notice, the computers can kill the ignition to prevent any major damage. Must have been an interesting radio conversation after that.

Finally, the North American Minardi Fan Club got a shout-out... I really should look into joining them...

posted by Wonderduck @ 6/17/2005 05:21:00 PM

Ralf hates Indy.

The 2nd practice went under redflag status after about 15 minutes... Ralf Schumacher's Toyota blew it's left rear tire (after his teammate Ricardo Zonta had the same type of failure) going into the last turn with it's banking. He wound up doing the same sort of rear-end smack into the wall that he did last year. This time, though, he walked away, thankfully.

They're running again; I'll be back afterwards.

posted by Wonderduck @ 6/17/2005 02:32:00 PM

End of Friday Practice

No major incidents after Ralf's, so apparantly the blowout issues were fixed by either adding more pressure or just switching tires. A couple of spins after that... it seems the grip goes away pretty quickly in the turns with more air in the tires.

Juan Pablo Montoya had the fast lap, followed by Kimi and the two Ferraris. 17 cars were within 2 seconds of the pole, so everybody seems to have a basic idea what's going on. The US' Scott Speed was 8th fastest, but he was held up pretty badly by Jacques Villeneuve on that flying lap. Probably would have wound up in the top five otherwise.

I'm about to go back and watch the first practice, so maybe I'll have more stuff about that later. I reckon there was at least one crunch of some sort.

Oh, almost forgot to pass this along: if you know where Bob Varsha's voice went to, you're supposed to call 1-800-HELP-BOB. He sounds like he's been gargling thumbtacks again.

posted by Wonderduck @ 6/17/2005 03:47:00 PM

Saturday, June 18, 2005

It's Saturday, so that must mean...

...more practice? The heck? We NEVER get to see Saturday practice!

Since its SPEEDs home race, they've gone whole hog, so this time around we WILL... leading right up to single-car/single-lap race-fuel qualifying. If my computer faced the right way, or if I had a laptop, I'd liveblog it, but I'm not that lucky... so I'll slap coverage up after the practice if there's anything worth posting about, and after quals.

So what are you doing reading this? Go turn on the telly and come back around 2pm central!

posted by Wonderduck @ 6/18/2005 11:24:00 AM


Ralf is out of the race due to injuries incurred from his crash on Friday. His back is fine, but he's got some eye problems.

Michelin is panicking about the tire problems from yesterday. The blowout problems from yesterday are prompting them to "suggest" to teams that they limit the amount of running they do through the banked turn. That's fine for practice, but as the healthy-voiced Bob Varsha noted a few minutes ago, you can't just make that turn go away during the race!

More as warranted...

posted by Wonderduck @ 6/18/2005 12:03:00 PM

"C'mon, Sunshine, get your foot down."*

Qualifying is over, and despite some white knuckles because of the tire fears (more about that later), everybody survived unscathed... and there were a couple of surprises, too!

Jarno Trulli is on pole for Toyota, the first for the manufacturer ever. Nice to see after the disasters yesterday. Kimi is 2nd, Jensen Button is 3rd on the grid with his second good start in a row. Giancarlo Fisichella is 4th, with Michael Schumacher 5th, Fernando Alonso a disappointing 6th, Rubens Barrichello 7th... and the Crazy Man himself, Takuma Sato is 8th.

Sato is an interesting case. Last year he was 3rd in this race, and he's something of a kamikazi pilot when it comes to turn one at ANY track. He'll either be in great shape or he'll be missing bodywork, mark my words. I suppose that's why he's my favorite F1 driver: he's not afraid to take the insane risk, where everybody else seems to be a little... um... stolid. It's not that they're afraid to do something risky, it's just that they seem to be cold and calculating about it. Not Sato. One gets the feeling that just dives in.

So, onto the tire news. Michelin is flying in a load of tires, and they should be available tonight. Now here's the snag with that... FIA rules indicate that teams can't change the tires they qualified on without penalty. Seven teams run on Michelin... Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi run Bridgestone. One possibility bandied about is that the Bridgestone teams will allow Michelin teams to use the new load of tires, but won't allow them to be ahead of a Bridgestone team on the starting grid... which means the grid would be Schumacher, Barrichello, Tiago Montiero (Jordan), Christian Albers (Minardi), Narain Karthekian (Jordan), Patrick Friesacher (Minardi), THEN Trulli, Kimi, Button, Fisichella, Alonso, Sato, etc etc etc...

A Minardi on the first two rows? Be still my heart! We'll see what happens; right now, nobody knows!

Race is tomorrow, and everything'll flush out then!

*said to Michael Schumacher during his qual lap by David Hobbes.

posted by Wonderduck @ 6/18/2005 01:49:00 PM

I forgot to mention...

A big whoppin' TON O' LUV goes out to Mallory for the mention she put into her weekly column on one of the world's biggest Pro Wrestling websites, "".

She's a huge part of this 'blog, as she's the one who first suggested that I take the F1 UPDATE e-mails that I sent to her, and turn them into something that'd be read by a lot more people. And so, with her prodding, Wonderduck's Pond was born.

You can read her latest column at:

Thanks, Mal!

posted by Wonderduck @ 6/18/2005 08:04:00 PM

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Sunday Morning.

Just finished watching the SPEED preview of this afternoon's US GP from Indy, and I have to say, I wish they did those all the time. It's a good quick catchup on the events of the weekend, perfect for newcomers, but not in a F1 For Dummies sort of way. They assume you know some (very) basics, like what a tire is, and why grip is important, and so forth, then they build on that. Well done, lads... even if you let Derek Daly on.

Couple more hours to go. Laundry going downstairs, it must be Sunday.

posted by Wonderduck @ 6/19/2005 10:02:00 AM

Tire News.

Oh boy. This could get really ugly, really fast. Michelin has gotten the new tires to Indy, but the FIA has stated that they will penalize any team that changes tires from what they qualified with... which is understandable. They want very much to avoid setting a precedent that teams may take advantage of in the future: "We did it in America, what's to stop us from doing it here?"

Plus, to be fair, they have to also take the Bridgestone teams under consideration. They've done nothing wrong, but forcing them to use old tires while everybody else uses newer ones penalizes THEM.

Then you have the drivers, the men who know exactly what could happen. If the FIA says "No changing," it wouldn't surprise me to see a boycott, at least of the Michelin teams. Imagine this scenario: 250,000 people in the stands. A beautiful day, weather-wise, for a race. All the cars go out for the formation lap... and just before they roll into turn 13, all the Michelin drivers head onto pit lane... and park in the garage, leaving six cars to race (which would give Ferrari the win, unless they break down).

Think that'd be a happy crowd?

Finally, there's the worst scenario of all: an incident that involves spectators. It's unlikely, sure, particularly at Indianapolis with it's huge catchfence, but not impossible. It was 50 years ago last week that the worst accident in motorsport history occurred at LeMans, with 83 killed and at least another 80 injured (go to for an excellent article on the LeMans accident). At the speeds that F1 cars hit in turn 13, a tire failure could easily result in a shower of debris flying through the fence; a shattered gas tank could drench a section in burning fuel; even a tire could bounce free (tethers not withstanding). The drivers know these risks and are paid for them; the fans don't, and aren't. THEY don't deserve the risk.

We'll know more in a couple of hours.

posted by Wonderduck @ 6/19/2005 10:20:00 AM

Disaster. Farce.

Oh my lord. I picked a good race to really follow closely, didn't I?

The Michelin teams withdrew from the race. Six cars took the lights. The Ferraris are obviously running away, but who cares?

A chicane on the straight before 13 was proposed and rejected by Max Mosely, high poobah of FIA, and the teams, I believe rightly, pulled out for safety reasons.

Some of the announcers are saying that the Michelin teams are in the wrong. What the heck are they thinking??? Safety is ALWAYS paramount, and the teams are doing the right thing.

Oh, boy, there is gonna be some REALLY angry fans out there. One water bottle has been run over by Barrichello already, and it was full. That'd be deadly if it hit him on the fly... now more stuff on the track. That's just wrong for the fans to do. Walk out, demand your money back, but don't throw stuff on the track.

I'll be back later.

posted by Wonderduck @ 6/19/2005 01:12:00 PM

Wither F1?

Okay, the fiasco is over. Michael, Rubens, and Tiago Montiero are on the podium, and bravo to them. They did the right thing for them... what else could they have done? They were prepared to race, their equipment was good, and they went out and raced.

So. What do we get from this? I'd say that the once-dead Grand Prix World Championship group just got a gigantic boost. Max Mosely, Bernie Ecclestone and FIA didn't just shoot themselves in the foot, they bloody well blew off their leg.

I'd say that FIA has to take 75% of the blame for this travesty, with the remaining 25% going to Michelin for screwing up their tire situation. They've been here before, they should have realized what would happen. But FIA... they had every chance in the world to allow every team to run; the chicane in turn 13, allow the Michelin teams to change their tires (perhaps with a penalty), ANYthing but this... this... disaster isn't a strong enough word for it.

The Michelin teams did exactly the right thing, no matter what the US announcers say. The tires were unsafe; someone could easily have been hurt, or multiple someones, and that would have been even WORSE than what we DID get.

Miserable. Just frickin' miserable. I can't wait to see what the reaction on other websites are.

Sorry everybody.

posted by Wonderduck @ 6/19/2005 02:47:00 PM

F1 UPDATE: USA is postponed.

My tradition is to put up a F1 UPDATE after the race (see F1 UPDATE: Canada below for an example), but right now, I really don't feel like it. Later. After I'm done seething.

posted by Wonderduck @ 6/19/2005 06:15:00 PM

F1 Update: USA

Oh, boy, here we go...

*MOM, WHERE ARE ALL THE CARS?: By now, of course, you know what happened. Six cars raced, Ferrari won, Jordan got 3rd, everbody else pulled into the garage. Pathetic.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE: Tiago Montiero. Congrats on earning a podium, mate.

*TEAM OF THE RACE: Minardi. Both cars in the points for the first time since, I dunno, Juan Manuel Fangio was racing maybe?

*MOVE OF THE RACE: This award is split between the 14 Michelin drivers. Good job, guys. Seriously. Honorable Mention goes to Michael Schumacher blocking his own teammate into the grass coming out of pit lane.

"Yes, well, not exactly how I wanted to win my first race of the year." - Michael Schumacher.

"rrrrrrrrrRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" - Rubens Barrichello.

"WOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!" - Tiago Montiero.

"(silence)" - 14 Michelin drivers.

"(censored)" - 150,000 fans at Indy.

"(censored) mother-(censored)!" - 250,000,000 fans around the world.

Next up, France with their overflowing crowd of 56,000 people. Hmm. 150,000 in Indy, 56,000 in France... wonder which is more important to the FIA?

posted by Wonderduck @ 6/19/2005 10:27:00 PM

Monday, June 20, 2005

In Tribute To Sunday's Mess...

...I give you F1Rejects and will say no more.

posted by Wonderduck @ 6/20/2005 05:31:00 PM

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

(Cue Star Wars' "Empire March")

The FIA came out with their list of charges against the Michelin 7 (dum-dum-dum-dum-de-dah, dum-de-dah). All seven teams have been accused of:

*having failed to ensure they had a supply of suitable tires for the race;

*that they wrongfully refused to allow their cars to start the race;

*wrongfully refused to allow their cars to race, subject to a speed restriction in one corner which would be safe for the tires they did have;

*combined with other teams to make a demonstration damaging to the image of F1 by pulling into the pits immediately before the start of the race;

*and failed to notify the stewards of their intent not to race. (dah-dah-dah-DAH-de-dah, dum-de-dahhhh)

What may turn out to be the struggle for control of F1 will be begun in Paris on June 29th.But wait, it gets worse. FIA has also asked Michelin to turn in data on their tires, which will then be handed to an "independent investigator," who will decide in turn if Michelin tires are unsafe at any speed. By all reports, if they are found to be "dangerous," then Michelin will be excluded from F1.

So what does THAT mean? It means that the Michelin 7 will, for all intents and purposes, ALSO be excluded, since cars are designed to be run with specific tire types. Yep, that's right... no more F1, folks. Ferrari wins.One gets the feeling that Bernie Ecclestone wouldn't mind that so much...

posted by Wonderduck @ 6/21/2005 10:19:00 PM

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