September 30, 2007

F1 UPDATE!: JAPAN DRIVER QUOTES!

*DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE:

"Well, that was different. Except me on the podium, that is. That's still the same. Gee, where's Alonso?" - Lewis Hamilton

"I couldn't see Kimi during those last few laps, because my mirrors had steamed up. Don't ask what I was doing to make them steam up, please." - Heikki Kovaleininininnie

"mrmmgmrm mrmmrmmml cold mrmrlmlmrrmmlm wet mrbmlmblm mbmbl." - Kimi Raikkonen

"It’s a crazy thing to be a racing driver - on the one hand you’re scared, but on the other, you’re having the time of your life because every moment you’re right on the edge, even on the straights." - David Coulthard's Chin (note: real quote)

"For god's sake, I finished fifth today, and I wasn't ever on camera. Not even when I crossed the line. Everybody else got a camerashot. What's a guy gotta do?" - Giancarlo Fisichella

"I was told I was going to win the Championship. 'It is in the bag,' Todt said, 'no problem.' I'm holding my breath until I'm declared the champion. mmmmph!" - Felipe Massa

"I lost places at the start because my car ingested water into the air filter, and I had no power. The car also ingested water into the cockpit, struts, steering wheel, engine cover, rear wing, brake ducts, six-point harness, gearbox, and driver." - Robert Kubica

"It's great earning a point for Toro Rosso. Wait, what?" - Vitantonio Liuzzi (note: Liuzzi was docked a point for passing Adrian Sutil under the safety car... leading to...)

"I missed earning Spyker's first point by one place. We were SO close. Wait, what?" - Adrian Sutil

"Spyker. Now we're being beaten by Spyker." - Rubens Barrichello

"Y'know, the car was actually EASIER to drive without the front wing..." - Jenson Button (note: Immediately after the safety car left the track, he was involved in an incident that removed said wing. He then proceeded to drive for another five laps without it.)

"I think we also should think of the Japanese fans as they were watching right to the end when it was so cold and wet!" - Sakon Yamamoto (note: real quote)

"It was a very difficult race from the beginning. Even behind the safety car the conditions were really bad - there was a lot of spray and it was hard to see anything on the straight. Then when the safety car came in the race was very wet and visibility was really, really poor. I think it was a tough afternoon for everyone out there, very cold and wet, and obviously I am disappointed with this result. Safety car.” - Jarno Trulli (mostly real quote)

"Mommy." - Grizzly Nick Heidfeld (note: pulled off-track and parked the instant Lewis Hamilton took the checkers.)

"It was very cold in the cockpit. And wet. Don't forget wet. Did I mention it was wet? And cold. At least it put out the fire quickly. I would like to thank the fans who have supported us through such cold, wet weather. Safety car." - Takuma Sato

"I tried to retire, but they sent me back out. No, really, I tried to retire: my job at the Berlin McDonalds started the next day, and I had to grab a flight." - Ralf Schumacher

"“It was a very difficult day here in Fuji. Very wet and cold conditions made it very hard for all the drivers. And cold. Wet. Are you sensing a theme here?" - Ant Davidson

"Probably the worst conditions I have ever raced in, very wet and cold. I couldn’t see a thing, and the rain caused an electronics failure that made it impossible to for me to turn right. But, on the other hand, I won today's NASCAR event." - Nico Rosberg

“I made a good start and the race was going well. Then, with the final safety car, I was behind Lewis and Mark and exiting Turn 13, I looked to the right and saw Lewis going really slowly, I don't know why, but I thought he had a problem. Probably he was heating his brakes. Then, by the time I looked forward again, I was already in the back of Mark's car and I think he had also reacted to Lewis. I apologise now to Mark because I ruined both our races. Now I'm going to go kill myself." - Sebastian Vettel (note: mostly real quote)

“That was a completely disastrous finish. Vettel... ...did a very good job of hitting me very hard under the second safety car. I think today he will have learnt a very valuable lesson.” - Mark Webber (note: real quote. We here at F1 UPDATE! know we saw a slightly less printable quote immediately after the race, something about "f#%&ing rookies..." If you saw that quote, please let us know in the comments. It was brilliant, and now it seems to have been scrubbed from the 'net.)

"AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" - Fernando Alonso

"It was very bad out there today. The only way I can describe it is if you close your eyes and run through your house at high speed - then you have some idea of how it was.” - Man-mountain Wurz (note: real quote)

So, that ends this cold, wet episode of F1 UPDATE!. Next week, we'll have coverage of the Chinese Grand Prix... with special guest commentary from Vaucaunson's Duck!

So stay tuned!

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September 29, 2007

F1 UPDATE!: JAPAN!

Back in the good ol' days, every race at Fuji started like this:

Wow, 1000 point bonus!

The view from Massa's car.

Today? Not so much.

*SPA IS CALLING, THEY WANT THEIR WEATHER BACK: For only the fourth time in F1 history, the race began behind the safety car. Why?

Oh.

Because the wet weather on Saturday became even worse by the race. In fact, this was probably the wettest race we at F1 UPDATE! have ever seen... and that includes this year's European Grand Prix. See, that race just had one downpour. Today's race had medium-to-heavy rain all day long. So much rain fell, in fact, that the first 17 laps were run behind the safety car. While we believe it was a bad decision to do that, at least the race did complete in the two-hour time limit.

*DID WE MENTION THE RAIN?: This view from Takuma Sato's cockpit just says it all:

It was like this all day.

The surprising thing was that there were so few accidents.

*OH, THE RACE! FORGOT ABOUT THAT...: Once the safety car went away, we actually got a pretty decent race, with some heavy implications on the Driver's Championship. Lewis Hamilton was possessed by the spirit of Michael Schumacher and turned in a masterful wet-weather drive, winning by nearly 13 seconds. Fernando Alonso, on the other hand, spun and crashed out of the race around the 2/3rds mark, and now finds himself 12 points behind his teammate with two races to go, a nearly insurmountable gap. Felipe Massa is now out of contention altogether, and Kimi Raikkonen in third is hanging on by the skin of his teeth.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE: Heikki Koveleaininnie. Renault gambled in qualifying, setting both their cars up for a dry race. The gamble failed miserably, dropping both Heikki and Giancarlo Fisichella way down the grid, and seemingly costing them any shot at a podium. Nevertheless, Heikki, running no rear wing to speak of, and therefore suffering from a tremendous lack of grip, managed to run his Renault up into 2nd place. He then had to fight off his fellow Finnish racer Kimi Raikkonen in the last lap to stay in second. Considering that, by all rights, he should have been off-track a dozen times today, Heikki Koveleaininninininnie gets the DotR.

*TEAM OF THE RACE: Renault. Rain may be the great equalizer, but it also makes a mockery of all the plans and strategies that go into a F1 race. No team looked good today: McLaren had their first DNF, Ferrari peed one right down the leg of their firesuits by starting their cars on completely undriveable Intermediates, RedBull/Toro Rosso managed to go from podium finishes (and a possible win) to wrecking themselves (see the "MOOOO-oove" below)... the list goes on and on. But there was Renault, coming in 2nd and 5th with either an example of marvelous improvisation or incredible good luck, and their best race of the year.

*MOVE OF THE RACE: On the final lap of the race, Felipe Massa was frantically trying to get past Robert Kubica for sixth place. For the last third of the lap, Massa was either alongside, immediately behind, or just a smidge ahead of Kubica, but not past him. Then he basically played a game of chicken with the Pole, getting his tires so close to the BMW that Kubica could have counted the number of tread grooves on the Ferrari's 'full wet' rubbers. Kubica peeled off, then swung back in towards the red car. Massa, who'd spent the majority of the day off-track anyway and probably had a good feel for the asphalt runoff areas, intentionally blew the final turn. Probably screaming "Screw the rain" in Brazillian, he then buried the accelerator and outran Kubica to the finish line. We have no idea how the FIA Stewards won't investigate the racing activities there, but for now, Massa gets the Move of the Race for that startling sequence.

*MOOOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE RACE: Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel had it all today. Everything was going his way, from becoming the youngest driver in F1 history to lead a lap, to sitting pretty in 3rd place after Alonso pronged his McLaren, bringing out the safety car. Just ahead of him was Mark Webber in his RedBull, the junior team following the Big team. Both would have been the best finishes ever for their respective teams, and Webber had a distinct chance at a win (as Hamilton seemed to be having problems after being bumped earlier in the race). Then it all turned to dust, as somehow Vettel rammed into the rear of Webber's car, destroying the Red Bull's suspension and knocking him out of the race. Vettel's Toro Rosso limped back to the pits with it's front-left tire at a 45-degree angle to the direction of travel. From hero to goat in one second. The last shot we saw of Vettel was of him in the back of the Toro Rosso pits, helmeted head in his hands, his body language suggesting that he wanted to learn more about seppuku, in a hurry.

Honorable mention goes to the SuperAguri mechanic who decided to lean over and manually (i.e., with his fingers) open Takuma Sato's fuel cover after he had just had nearly a full tank put in, thereby causing this:

Fwoomp!

"Um... Taku? Pay no attention to that orange glow in your cockpit, and whatever you do, DON'T look in your mirrors..."

*DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE: will be posted Sunday afternoon.

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September 16, 2007

F1 UPDATE!: SPA Driver Quotes!

"mmrmmrrm mrmblm heh mrmmmrb Spa mrmmmrb ha." - Kimi Raikkonen

"We win. Everybody else loses. And we've got the FIA in our pocket. Life is good." - Felipe Massa

"Snotnosed punk trying to pass me at the start? Guess I showed him who's boss." - Fernando Alonso

"I just feel for someone that's always complaining about people doing unfair maneuvers, and everyone wanting to be fair and someone I look up to, and he has gone and swiped me and pushed me as wide as he could. I was just really lucky there was a run-off area so I could take that." - Lewis Hamilton (note: real quote)

"My usual, lonely, race. Couldn't reach the top 4, wasn't threatened by 6th place, just a pleasant Sunday drive." - Grizzly Nick Heidfeld

"Next time I'll make things more interesting, Nick." - Nico Rosberg

"today my thoughts are of course with the McRae family and the terrible tragedy that happened yesterday.” - Mark Webber (note: real quote)

“It felt like I drove half of the race with my mirrors today..." - Heikki Koveleininnie (note: real quote. Next time, try driving with the steering wheel, Heikki.)

"I drove with my steering wheel, look where it got me." - Robert Kubica

"I had a great race, I finished 10th, and I got a callback for an interview at the Hamburg McDonalds tomorrow! I'm so happy!" - Ralf Schumacher

"Hi, I'm Jarno Trulli, and I can't get off the starting line to save my life." - Jarno Trulli

"It was a job well done apart from a problem with the right front wheel during the pit stop which cost me a few seconds, that meant I could not fight with Button. But he retired anyway.” - Vitantonio Liuzzi (note: real quote)

"I spend the entire season fighting SuperAguri. I finally get away from them, but now I'm fighting with Spyker? I hate my miserable life." - Rubens Barrichello

"Hi, Rubens! Gosh, it's good to see you here in the midpack! Wow, the air is thin up this high..." - Adrian Sutil

"Two weeks until I'm back in Japan... and I can get some good sushi." - Takuma Sato

"It was good to see our strategy pay off." - Ant Davidson (note: real quote. Your strategy called for you to end up sixteenth, Ant?)

"...but I wasn't last." - Sakon Yamamoto

"It's always disappointing to retire from a race but it was six laps less pain as the car was so difficult to drive. And there was a rabid wombat in the cockpit with me." - Jensen Button

"RARRRGH... WURZ SMASH." - Man-mountain Wurz

"I’m shocked and saddened to hear of the loss to the McRae family, of father and son, and obviously we must acknowledge the other family that were on board the helicopter as well. Colin was a remarkable man who wore his heart on this sleeve and was the epitome of a racer; fearless and attacking, yet he remained true to his roots and grounded despite the international fame and recognition that he achieved. The world is a sorrier place without him.” - David Coulthard's Chin, fellow Scotsman

"I can't turn right, and it's worse if I go faster. Can I come home now?" - Sebastian Vettel

"AIEE. Not a real crash, but when the brakes disappear, it sure FEELS bad." - Giancarlo Fisichella

So that's it for Spa. Next up, the completely unknown Fuji Speedway in Japan... expect the Pole Position jokes to fly fast and furious!

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F1 UPDATE!: SPA!

Crepe.

*FERRARI WINS: ...and it wasn't even close. The only drama was "would Massa's car blow up before the start?" As they sat there, waiting for the lights to go green, Phil's Ferrari started to smoke like a forest fire. All was well, though, and the two Ferraris ran away and hid.

*ALONSO BEATS HAMILTON: ...after shoving him off the track in the first turn. Thanks to the reprofiling of the course, it didn't hurt Lewis much (lots of asphalt runoff there, opposed to gravel like 2005), but it's showing what Alonso's willing to do to win. After the race, Hamilton flat out said that he thinks Alonso tried to wreck him. He might be right, but, Lewis? "Shut up and drive."

*DRIVER OF THE RACE: Kimi Raikkonen. Was never challenged, never put a wheel wrong, basically drove the perfect race, and won his third consecutive F1 race at the Swimming Pool. May very well have, finally, earned himself the #1 driver status on his team.

*TEAM OF THE RACE: Ferrari. Honorable mention goes to Spyker, for their success with Adrian Sutil getting as high as 12th at one point. God, this is galling.

*MOVE OF THE RACE: On lap 3, Mark Webber tailed Heikki Kovaleinninie through Eau Rouge and pulled even Raidillon. Racing side-by-side up to Les Combes, he pinned the Renault against the right side of the course, then, at the last moment, dove cross-track into the racing line just in time for braking. Of course, 'Ninnie couldn't do anything but brake hard and lose the spot. Lovely job, Webbo!

*MOOOOOOO-OOVE OF THE RACE: Adrian Sutil took his Spyker for a fun offroad adventure, popping a wheelie out of Eau Rouge as he bounded across the grass. Still ended up 14th, so it didn't hurt him... a weak example of Bovine Behavior, but he still wins the Moooo-oove.

*DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE: ...are delayed until later tonight.

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September 13, 2007

F1 UPDATE!: FIA Nukes McLaren

*snap* *BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!*

The FIA, following today's WMSC hearing, dropped a very large nuke on Team McLaren, stripping the team's Constructor's Championship points and fining them $100 million (which is to be reduced by all prize monies won this year).

Signifigantly, McLaren was NOT excluded from the 2007 Constructor's Championship, they just had their points zeroed and they will not be allowed to score any in the next four races. This is a subtle point, but it prevents the team from automatically losing their sponsorship contracts. Can't imagine that companies like Vodafone will be pleased, though.

The drivers were NOT stripped of their points, and will be allowed to earn Driver's Championship points in the last four races.

Ferrari has stated that they are "that the truth has now emerged." Mercedes, McLaren's partner, has expressed dismay at the penalty. BMW has said that they don't want 2nd place this way. McLaren's press release was defiant:
The most important thing is that we will be going motor racing this weekend, the rest of the season and every season. This means that our drivers can continue to compete for the World Championship. However having been at the hearing today (we) do not accept that we deserved to be penalised in this way.

In 2006, Business F1 magazine said that McLaren had the largest budget in the sport, spending at least $400 million. Their fine of $100m is larger than the 2006 budgets of SuperAguri (est. $95m), Midland (now Spyker, $76m), or Toro Rosso ($66m).

Now that we've covered the details, click below for F1 UPDATE!'s analysis. more...

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September 09, 2007

F1 UPDATE!: ITALY!

The tifosi are weeping tonight... let's just get right to it, shall we?

*WHEN IS A PODIUM FINISH BAD?: When you lose 2nd place with 9 laps to go, and end up on the last step of the podium, that's when. The legendary bulletproof Ferrari is gone, replaced by a fragile beast that Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen don't fully trust. Massa retired his car on lap 10 after feeling "something wrong" with the rear, possibly the same thing that caused Kimi's accident in practice. Raikkonen looked tenetive and cautious all day, and cost him 2nd place. Ferrari's only hope for either championship now appears to be McLaren's total exclusion from the season.

*McLAREN DOMINANT: In contrast, McLaren's drivers took their cars and threw them around the track with total abandon, knowing that they could get away with it. The new curbs at Monza, so high and deep that some teams (Toyota and Ferrari in particular) avoided using them as much as possible, were mere bumps to McLaren. Throw in their raw straightaway speed and fantastic cornering abilities, and the Glare With Wheels just owned Ferrari's home track today... a low-downforce style of track that the Ferrari is supposedly designed for.

*DIRTY TRICKS: Just a few hours before racetime, the Italian police arrived at the McLaren paddock and informed Ron Dennis (team principal) and selected others that they were being investigated in regards to the Stepneygate scandal. Even though they've been there since Wednesday and could have served them at any time, they chose Sunday morning. Gee, think the Boys In Red had anything to do with that, maybe thinking that their rivals would be rattled?

*DRIVER OF THE RACE: Kimi Raikkonen. Driving with an injured neck that prevented him from controlling his head movements in the turns and under braking, running a car that threw him into the wall for no reason (and caused his teammate to retire from the race), Raikkonen still managed to take 3rd place, and looked to take 2nd until late. All this while carrying a large load of fuel to run a 1-stop strategy. Not the 'charge from 22nd' style of drive, but still an impressive performance, and the lone bright spot for Ferrari this weekend.

*TEAM OF THE RACE: McLaren. Not just because they finished 1-2, with Alonso nearly a half-minute ahead of Raikkonen, but because of all the crap they've had to deal with this season. The Stewards slapped them with a horrible penalty in Hungary, they were fined after Turkey, they've got a sword dangling over their head, and their drivers want to kill each other... yet they're running away with both championships. Now THAT'S a performance.

*MOVE OF THE RACE: On lap 40, Lewis Hamilton stopped for the last time, exiting the pits behind Kimi Raikkonen, who was running a 1-stop strategy. He resumed the race some handful of seconds behind, and while it looked like he might be able to catch up in the 13 laps remaining, it'd take a miracle to get past him in the remaining time. THREE LAPS LATER, Hamilton was maybe 50 yards behind Raikkonen heading into turn one... too far back to make a move, surely. So Lewis tries it anyway, brakes about as late as humanly possible (and maybe beyond), and despite Kimi's attempt to block, still manages to sneak through and into 2nd place. Just a killer move, and possibly THE pass of the season, for all the importance riding on it. Honorable mention to Jensen Button and Nico Rosberg for their duel on lap 21, passing and repassing each other thru three turns.

*MOOOOO-OOVE OF THE RACE: Celebrating that which makes the best drivers in the world look like cud-crunching cows, the Moooooo-oove is an award given for the mistake that makes F1 look like the Three Stooges. Today's award is given, not to a driver, but to the front jackman of BMW-Sauber. On Robert Kubica's first stop from high in the standings, the jackman somehow managed to get his implement of destruction jammed under the nose. It took two men yanking on it, plus another three lifting the car, to get the jack free, costing Kubica 10 seconds extra and dropping him waaaaay back. That he was able to finish 5th is a miracle. Well done, un-named pitcrewman!

*DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE: more...

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