October 19, 2008

F1 UPDATE!: China 2008!

The penultimate race!  Two championships up for grabs!  Did either get settled?  Let's find out... THIS is your F1 UPDATE! for the Grand Prix of China!

*DULL:  Once the lights went out, the actual race was actually pretty boring.  Lewis Hamilton had a good start, led by one second at the end of the first lap, and was never even slightly challenged.  Kimi Raikkonen tried to hang with him and stayed close enough that the McLaren couldn't really relax, but the result was never in doubt.

*TEAM ORDERS?  IN MY F1 RACE?:  It's more likely than you think.  Article 39.1 of the sporting regulations state that "Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited."  The rule was instituted after a hideously blatant incident in the Austrian Grand Prix in 2002, where (surprise!) Ferrari ordered Rubens Barrichello to relinquish the lead to Michael Schumacher.  He did, on the final straightaway of the final lap, in an obvious manner.  To be blunt, Ferrari did the same thing today, just without the orders being broadcast over the radio.  Felipe Massa went past Kimi Raikkonen with seven laps left for second place, giving Massa an additional two standing points.  This means that Hamilton's win gives him only a seven point lead going into the final race of the season... just like last year.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Robert Kubica, BMW.  From 11th to 6th in a car that was squirrelly all weekend isn't too shabby at all.  Unfortunately, he needed to actually win the race to have any chance at winning the Drivers' Championship, so he's been eliminated.   Still, a very solid drive under challenging conditions.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Ferrari.  Both drivers on the podium, and almost locking up the Constructor's Championship against their hated rival?  AND they didn't run over any pitcrew this race to boot?  Yeah, good job all around for the Red Cars.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  Felipe Massa had been slowly reeling in his teammate Kimi Raikkonen for five or six laps, coming from three seconds behind.  Massa slotted in behind Kimi's car as they raced down the back straight, getting a nice tow.  Then in a flash of red, he swung out and blew the doors off his teammate's car, breezing by like Raikkonen wasn't even trying.  *ahem*

*MOOOOOOO-OOVE OF THE RACE:  On lap 25, BMW's Robert Kubica swept into the pit lane for his first stop for fuel and shoes.  The stop went perfectly, no hangups... except that the team for whatever reason decided not to change his front tires.  There is no good reason to NOT change tires during a regular pit stop that we at F1U! can think of, so in lieu of a driving incident, we'll give the Moooooo-oove to BMW's race engineers for making their man race for his championship life on worn tires.  Nice job!

*DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE:


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October 12, 2008

F1 UPDATE!: JAPAN 2008!

A wacky race, and another wacky steward's decision have made the Driver's Championship closer than ever... THIS is your F1 UPDATE! for the 2008 Grand Prix of Japan!

Pole Position screenshots never get old...

*SELF-INFLICTED:  The situation was exactly what McLaren and Lewis Hamilton would have asked for going into the race.  Lewis on pole, Massa a few rows back, Hamilton's teammate in between them both.  All Hamilton had to do was get a good start and keep Kimi Raikkonen from wrecking the McLaren into turn one, and Lewis would be a near lock for the Driver's Championship.  Hamilton then proceeded to empty his bladder down the leg of his firesuit, spinning his tires as the lights went out, allowing Kimi Raikkonen and Heikki Koveleininninnie to get past him off the grid.  Even this wasn't truly a disaster, as Hamilton didn't need to actually race either of those worthies.  He just needed to stay ahead of Felipe Massa and increase his lead in the Driver's Championship.

So of course, Hamilton raced down the straightaway in a banzai move inside of Kimi, locked his brakes so badly that he put huge flatspots on his front tires.  He is later given a drive-through penalty for forcing Kimi off-track because of this move.  Hamilton wound up losing the car going into turn two, going waaaaaay offline and letting HWMNBN and Robert Kubica get by.  Somehow in the course of the next lap, Hamilton slips down to fifth... behind Massa, probably because of his ruined front tires.  An attempt to pass the Ferrari into the Hairpin looks to be successful, but Massa aggressively rams the McLaren, sending it into a spin and letting the entire field go by before Lewis can get the pointy end of his car facing the right way and rejoining the race.  He limps into the pits, and even though Massa is given a drive-through penalty for causing the spin, the damage is done and Lewis is never a threat for the rest of the day.  He scores no points, and may God have mercy on his soul.

*SELF-GRATIFICATION:  Massa finishes the race in eighth, despite his drive-through penalty for spearing Lewis Hamilton.  To be blunt, he shouldn't have been there.  On lap 50, SeaBass made his last pitstop and rejoined the race, ahead of Massa by about half a carlength, more or less, but with a lower speed.  Going into turn one, SeaBass didn't give an inch, and had the inside line to boot.  Massa, apparently expecting the Toro Rosso to roll out a (Ferrari) red carpet and let him by despite the fact that they were racing for position, clumps into the side of SeaBass and spins.  A few laps later, it's announced that the the incident will be reviewed after the race, and the Legendary Announce Team says that it's a sure thing that if a penalty is given, it'll be on Massa for running into the Toro Rosso.  More cynical, the F1U! staff knew that the penalty would go the other way... and they were right.  Instead of being given a 10-grid-spot penalty for the next race, Massa instead was given seventh place, as SeaBass was given a 25-second penalty for causing the accident.  Does anybody need more proof that the stewards are in Ferrari's hip pocket... or someplace else a little closer to the centerline of the body?

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  HWMNBN.  In Singapore, the safety car came out at just the right time and put HWMNBN in first place, giving him the chance to win which he did not relinquish.  Today, however, there was no safety car.  HWMNBN, for all his personality issues, is an outstanding driver in a Renault that has (finally) come alive.  Staying out of the mess at the first series of turns, he found himself in second place, and eventually took over during the pitstop sequences.  After that, he drove a near-perfect race and earned a well deserved victory.  We at F1U! still don't like him much, but he certainly was the Driver of the Race.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Renault.  First-fourth, and they've probably locked up fourth in the constructor's championship.  The resurgent French team is looking to make it a four team fight next year.

*MOVE OF THE RACE: On lap 60, Massa was drafting behind the RedBull of Mark Webber as they came down the main straight.  Generally, Webber is a hard man to get by, but he was on a one-stop strategy and his tires were completely shot; Massa had come from seven seconds behind Webber in three laps.  Always game for a fight, the Aussie slid to the inside to make the Brazillian try to pass him on the outside of turn one.  Massa, though, decided that he didn't want to do that and dipped inside of Webber, who kept moving over.  Both cars kept drifting farther and farther inside until the Ferrari was racing in the pit-out area.

Eventually, the better tires on the Ferrari forced the RedBull to brake earlier, completing the pass.  The Ferrari International Assistance program may be trying to give The Red Cars the titles, but this was a pretty gutsy pass, worthy of the MotR.

*MOOOOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE RACE:  Celebrating the bovine in the best drivers in the world, the Mooooooo-ooove is given to the worst driving job in any particular grand prix.  Today, the prize is given to the man who is arguably the best driver in the sport, Lewis Hamilton.  Blowing the start, then toasting his tires, then forcing a less-than-solid (but still valid) pass on Massa, resulting in the McLaren pointing the wrong way in traffic?  Nice job, kiddo, if you wanted to give up the championship again, you've just gone a long way in doing so.  Here's your Mooooooo-oove.

*DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE:

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