May 29, 2011

F1 Update!: Monaco 2011

The day dawned beautifully over the Principality of Monaco, just perfect weather for a quick drive around a tiny French fishing village.  But who could have expected the race we got?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2011 Grand Prix of Monaco!

*LIGHTS OUT:  As the race began, it looked like we'd have an improbable runaway victory for polesitter Seb Vettel.  By the end of the first lap, he had a three second lead over McLaren's Jenson Button, a lead that would grow to nearly five seconds by lap 4.  Great, another dominant blow-out for the incumbent champion, that'll be exciting.  To make matters worse, Lewis Hamilton, the only driver with a legitimate chance to catch Vettel in the championship standings, had fallen to 10th and probably wouldn't have a chance to do anything in the race.  But then the weirdness began.

*RED HOT PIT STOP ACTION:  Button came in for his first stop on lap 15, putting on another set of super-soft tires.  Then Vettel pitted from the lead.  To say that the Red Bull pit crew made a complete hash of the stop would be something of an understatement... or perhaps it was Vettel who did, as nobody was quite sure what the hell happened.  It looked quite a bit like the team had teammate Mark Webber's tires out and ready, as a mad scramble for tires occurred.  Whatever the reason, Vettel's stop took over 30 seconds to complete (including drive-in and drive-out), an eternity in F1, and nearly 10 seconds slower than Button's.  Then Mark Webber pulled in just as Vettel was leaving, and the same thing happened again.  Webber wouldn't be heard from again all day.  When Ferrari's HWMNBN came in for tires, Button was promoted into an 8.8 second lead over Seb Vettel.  A few laps later, Lewis Hamilton came in for his first stop on lap 21, McLaren clearly wasn't ready for him.  This sort of Keystone Kop-ery stuff just doesn't happen in Formula 1, and particularly at Monaco.  Hamilton returned to the race in 15th, losing eight places as the McLaren pit crew peed what little chance he had down their collective pants leg.

*WHAT IN THE WORLD...?:  As the race continued, Button stretched his lead to nearly 15 seconds over Vettel, who had put on soft tires at his stop, as opposed to the super-softs on the 2009 Champion's McLaren.  On lap 34, Button stopped for another set of super-soft tires, meaning he would have to stop one more time at some point to put on soft tires, so as to comply to the sporting regulations.  As he did so, Felipe Massa stuck his car into the barrier inside the Tunnel, bringing out the first Safety Car of the 2011 season.  Button rejoined the race in second place, but with backmarkers between him and the leader Vettel.  Unlike almost every racing series in the world, in F1 cars form up behind a Safety Car depending on where they are collected... backmarkers are not waved past.  This led to the race restarting and Vettel immediately having a 9 second lead over Button, as it took that long for the five or six cars between the two to cross the line.  Ten laps later, on lap 49, Button pulled into the pits for a set of soft tires, rejoining the race in third, some 20 seconds behind the leader and  15 seconds behind second place HWMNBN, who had pitted for his mandatory soft tires during the Safety Car.

*HE CAN'T REALLY BE TRYING THAT, CAN HE?:  Around lap 55, everybody came to a sudden realization: Sebastian Vettel hadn't been into the pits since lap 17, when he changed from super-soft tires to soft rubber.  Behind him, HWMNBN was whittling a second a lap out of Vettel's lead as the leader nursed his tires.  But if the Ferrari was whittling, Jenson Button was using a chainsaw.  By lap 60, the McLaren was a mere three seconds behind the Red Bull; he had made up 17 seconds in 10 laps!  On lap 62, the order was Vettel - HWMNBN - Button, all three covered by two-thirds of a second.  To say that we were set up for one of the most epic finishes in F1 History would be to massively understate things.  Three World Champions, running three different tire strategies, running nose-to-tail, on the most dramatic circuit in the world, with only 16 short laps to go.

*HOLY MACKEREL!:  For the next seven laps, we were treated to an example of just why F1 drivers are the best in the world.  Button would stab at HWMNBN, who would parry while attacking Vettel, who was managing to keep his tires functional enough to be able to keep the Ferrari behind, despite having 50+ laps on them.  All the while, the three kept going so quickly that they had nearly 50 seconds on Gandalf Kobayashi in 4th place... on a track where a slow lap takes only 80 seconds or so to complete.  The situation was fascinating: Vettel had the lead, but his tires were failing.  However, Monaco is the best circuit in F1 to keep someone behind you, even when your tires are paper-thin.  HWMNBN had better tires in second place, but he had the dual tasks of trying to get past Vettel while defending his position, splitting his concentration at a place that demands your entire attention at all times.  Button was in third, on the freshest rubber, but had to get past the Ferrari driven by someone with the ability to make his car incredibly wide when he wants to.  Legendary Announce Team member Steve Matchett summed Vettel's options up quite succinctly around this point when asked whether the Red Bull driver should pit for new tires.  "If he pits, he finishes third.  If he stays out, he has a small chance to win, and at worst he'd finish third.  He stays out."  And so he did, and the knife-fighting between the three was amazing.

*LAP 69:  Ahead of the leaders, an amazing gaggle of cars had formed.  Take a look:

6th: Adrian F'n Sutil  7th: Cleric Maldonado  8th: The Red Menace  9th: Lewis Hamilton
10th: NKOTT  11th: Seb Buemi  12th: Nico Rosberg
We've taken the liberty of labeling the on-track positions of the traffic.  Suddenly, Vettel's job had become infinitely more difficult; he'd have to pick his way through the cars ahead, all of whom were racing for position and couldn't just move aside like normal backmarkers.  To be sure, the sporting regulations insisted that they'd have to.  But, for example, nobody could expect Lewis Hamilton in 9th to pull aside in a manner that'd make it easy for NKOTT in 10th to sneak by too, or for The Red Menace in 8th to do so, either.  But a few moments later, it all became moot.  Just past Tabac, Adrian F'n Sutil brushed the armco, his right-rear tire coming off as they reached Piscene... and all hell broke loose.

*CAR-NAGE: Sutil, mostly out of control, cuts across Piscene just as everybody else arrives.  Lewis Hamilton slows to avoid the careening Force India.  NKOTT bangs into Hamilton, his front wing going under his tires and pitching his Toro Rosso into the air, deranging the McLaren's rear wing in the process.  NKOTT then has the left side of his car removed by the barriers.  The Red Menace, who had slipped back just before the melee, suddenly had a limping Force India blocking one side of the circuit and a ruined Toro Rosso blocking the other in front of him.  With no place to go, the Renault plows nearly head-first into the armco.  The remains then embed themselves into the back of NKOTT's car.  And then the leaders arrive on the scene.

*RED MEANS STOP:  So here's the situation facing Seb Vettel.  He's got an angry Spaniard crawling all over the back of his car, a confident Brit immediately behind him, and a disaster movie playing out directly in front of him.  Carbon fiber shards and chunks of racecar litter the track, and he has to pick his way through the mess.  By some miracle, all three leaders made it through the chaos in one piece, just as the world's fastest Safety Car indication comes out.  This time, no backmarkers are in between Vettel, HWMNBN and Button.  Nothing will get in the way of this ending.  Except things are not all right at the scene of the accident.  The Red Menace, still in his ruined Renault, tells the Medical Car occupants that he can't feel his legs.  An ambulance is summoned and the Red Flag is thrown, stopping the race.

*FINALLY:  According to the rulebook, if the race is red-flagged after 75% of the race distance is run, the race may be declared over.  But not today!  Instead, the horde forms up on the grid behind the Safety Car, shuts down their engines... and another quirk of the rulebook comes to light.  In most every other form of motorsport, if a race is red-flagged but is expected to be resumed, you can't touch the cars.  No tire changes, no repairs, no nothing.  In F1?  The only thing you can't do is refuel.  Immediately, Red Bull was out to jack up Vettel's car... carrying a brand new, unused set of super-soft tires.  It was at this point that the F1U! team wanted to throw our deep-dish pizza at the TV screen.  What was looking like a tremendous five-lap scramble to the checkered flag up until that point suddenly became a five-lap guaranteed win for Vettel.  Of course, HWMNBN and Button put on super-soft tires as well, but it doesn't matter.  The race restarts, Vettel opens up a 1.1 second lead and keeps it like that all the way to the end.  HWMNBN holds a similar lead over Button as they cross the line.  A frustrating way to end what was looking like a true classic race.

*POSTSCRIPT:  The Red Menace was essentially uninjured in the wreck, just bruised.  Good to hear!

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  A one-stop strategy in this day and age of F1 seems like an impossibility, but Monaco might be the one time it could possibly work, if you're quick and good.  Seb Vettel was both, and managed to keep his 52-lap old soft tires in racing condition right up until the race was red-flagged.  While we might be dissatisfied with the way the affair ended, there's no denying that the reigning World Champion did a miraculous job conserving his shoes while keeping up a competitive pace.  Not everybody could pull that off... indeed, perhaps not anybody.  Congratulations Seb, you deserve this one. 

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  The logical choice would be Red Bull.  After all, Vettel finished 1st and with the help of the red flag, Webber came in 4th.  However, we're not giving it to them.  After the race, it turned out that Vettel's tire strategy was an accident; he was supposed to have another set of super-soft tires put on at his first stop, but confusion resulted in the soft tires going on.  Then they wanted to bring him in late, thereby throwing away the win (but locking up a third-place finish).  Vettel ignored the call to stop.  That's not a sign of a team working together.  Yes, they did well, but something didn't click for the Bullies today.  So instead, we're giving the Team of the Race award to perennial underdog Sauber.  Despite working under the black pressure of having one of their drivers in hospital, they flawlessly executed an intentional one-stop strategy.  It was only because of the red flag and Webber getting to put on a fresh set of super-soft tires that they lost out on a fourth place finish for Gandalf Kobayashi.  Still, fifth place is pretty darn good, and well-deserving of the Team of the Race.  Honorable mention goes to Lotus for quietly having their best day ever, finishing 13th and 14th.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  Karma can be a real beeyotch sometimes. Last week in Spain, Lewis Hamilton complained that he believed Slappy Schumacher had intentionally blocked him, so as to slow the McLaren driver down in his pursuit of Slappy's fellow German Seb Vettel.  Today, Hamilton got a chance to provide some payback.  Early on, he'd been hounding the seven-time world champion for a couple of laps, needing desperately to get past if he wanted any chance to affect the outcome of the race.  On his soft tires, he had to stay in touch with the leaders, but here he was, stuck behind Slappy's Mercedes.  On lap 10, as the two headed towards Ste Devote, Hamilton said "enough."

He pulled alongside the Mercedes driver as they entered the braking zone, brazenly daring Slappy to slam the door on him.  Considering who we're talking about here, it was quite the gamble... Schumacher is notorious for doing just that, and damn the consequences.

Instead, Schumi squeezed over, getting their tires overlapped.  One false move by either, and the whole thing would end in tears and carbon fiber being shed.

No false move was forthcoming, leaving Slappy with a choice: either keep fighting the young Brit, and likely ending up in the quickly upcoming barrier, or backing off and letting Hamilton by.  Wisely, he did the latter, and Lewis zipped off into the distance.  A truly gutsy pass in a place on the track that isn't particularly conducive to such things.  Brave lad, here's your MotR!

*MOOOOOOOO-OOOOVE OF THE RACE:  From the sublime to the idiotic in 24 laps.  Now Hamilton was stuck behind Felipe Massa, and not having any luck getting unstuck.  The Ferrari driver just wasn't giving him any chance to get by, and Lewis was getting desperate... and impatient.  Coming into the Loew's Hairpin, Hamilton threw caution (and brains) to the wind and went to the inside of the Brazilian... with predictable results.

For the record: the sidewalk is not the preferred line around the Hairpin.  Bodywork flew, Massa wound wind up crashing in the Tunnel a few seconds later, and Hamilton was given a drive-through penalty for causing an accident, thereby ruining his race anyway.  He later claimed that it was all Massa's fault, saying that the Ferrari driver had turned in early, forcing him onto the sidewalk and thenceforth into the red car's sidepod.  Uh-huh.  Here's your Mooooooooo-oooove, Lewis.


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May 24, 2011

F1 on SPEED!: Monaco 2011

There are two ways to look at the street circuit known as "Monte Carlo," home of the Grand Prix of Monaco.  The first is as a narrow and slow track that modern F1 cars have rendered close to obsolete, and would be too dangerous to have on the F1 calendar if it was proposed today.  The other way is to see it as what it is: the grandest Grand Prix of them all.  Here's the track map:

It's hard to argue with the "too narrow" and "too dangerous" assessment, because to be frank, it is both of those things.  Three-time World Driver's Champion Nelson Piquet famously described racing at Monaco as "riding a bicycle round your living room."  Because the track is so narrow, it's nearly impossible to pass without taking heroic measures.  The circuit starts by going uphill from Sainte Devote all the way to Beau Rivage, then descends sharply from Mirabeau to Portier.  There's another small descent as the cars approach the Chicane as well. 

Monte Carlo has the distinction of having both the slowest and the fastest turns in Formula 1.  Turn 6, better known as the Loew's Hairpin, is taken at approximately 30mph and is so tight that the teams usually have to modify their steering rigs to allow a car to make the turn.  Turn 9, aka The Tunnel, is run at about 160mph or so.  The only true tunnel in F1 (Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi has one at the end of the pit lane, which doesn't count.  Singapore has a stretch that runs underneath some grandstands, but that isn't really a tunnel), its aerodynamic effects take off nearly a third of a car's downforce.  For that reason, DRS will not be permitted while running through it during practice and Quals. 

That's kind of a pity, as it'd lead to more of my favorite camera sequence... 1) camera follows car through Portier and into the tunnel.  2) Camera picks up car as it approaches the apex of Turn 9, swings to follow. 3) Camera outside tunnel waits for car to appear; all that exits the dark tunnel is a tire or two bouncing free, followed by carbon fiber debris, followed by remainder of car.  It never fails to crack me up... it's like the track has eaten the car, and is in the process of spitting it out.

Yes, it's dangerous.  Yes, it's too narrow.  Yes, it's a horrible track for modern F1 cars.  It's also the most recognizable circuit in the world, and nowhere in the world can a (ridiculously wealthy) spectator get so close to a F1 car during a race.

Note spiral staircase to the left of "Le Casino" sign.
Monaco is one of the three entries in the "Triple Crown of Motorsport," along with the 24 Hours of LeMans and the Indianapolis 500.  Only one driver, Graham Hill, has accomplished the feat in his career, and only one active driver, Juan Pablo Montoya (aka "The Pope"), has a chance to join him (he won Monaco in 2003 and the Indy 500 in 2000).

Late breaking newsflash!  Earlier today, a truck caught fire at Sainte Devote.  It burned long enough and hot enough that it actually damaged the tarmac underneath it, requiring it to be replaced less than 48 hours before the first practice session.  This could very well cause some problems, as the damaged area is in the braking zone... look for Turn 1 to be very exciting this time around.

Of course, the Legendary Announce Team will be bringing us their usual reportage on SPEED!  It all begins on THURSDAY morning from 3am to 430am with streaming coverage of Practice 1.  Practice 2 follows from 7am to 840am, live on SPEED. 

Friday is a quiet day in Monaco for the F1 Circus, but the whole shebang picks back up on Saturday morning from 4am to 5am with streaming coverage of Practice 3.  Quals is likewise on Saturday morning, from 7am to 830am live on SPEED.

Finally, the jewel in the F1 crown, the 2011 Grand Prix of Monaco takes to the air from 630am to 9am, live on SPEED.  There'll be a replay on Monday from 1030am to 1pm.

F1U! will be providing our own version of the "usual reportage" as well, so don't miss it!

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May 23, 2011

F1 Update!: Spain 2011

A gorgeous day in Barcelona, but would the sun shine on Mark Webber, or would someone else steal the light and win today?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2011 Grand Prix of Spain!

*LIGHTS OUT:  With the Red Bull teammates locking out the front row, it was pretty much a given that one of them would be leading the pack into the first turn.  After all, they've got the best car, Seb Vettel is arguably one of the best drivers in the field, and Webber is hardly a slouch himself.  Still, with an iffy KERS unit, one could see Lewis Hamilton's McLaren sweep by them both from third.  But nobody expected what actually occurred as the Ferrari of HWMNBN, perhaps powered by the cheers of the Spanish crowd, blew past them all to take the lead going into Turn 1.  More surprisingly, he held the lead after the first lap, then the second, then the third... while he didn't run away from Vettel and Hamilton, second and third respectively, neither did he yield any time to them.  He had roughly a half-second lead on the Red Bull, who had a half-second lead on the McLaren.  That trio did manage to pull away from Webber in fourth, to the tune of maybe five seconds.

*THAT'S THE PITS:  Seb Vettel dove into the pit lane for new tires on lap 9, apparently just before they fell off the cliff and became a hindrance.  Lewis Hamilton, on the other hand, stayed out until lap 11, running a lap or two after his tires went bad.  HWMNBN still held the lead, much to everybody's shock and horror.  On lap 18, Vettel came back in for another set of new tires, again before their performance fell off.  When HWMNBN came in a lap or two later, he wound up on the losing end of the pit rotation, as the Red Bull passed him just as he exited the pits.  Hamilton had the lead, maybe one that was big enough for him to hit the pits, change shoes and rejoin before the reigning Driver's Champion went by... but McLaren kept him out there too long.  When his pit stop finally occurred, he came back onto the track in second.  We here at F1U! were impressed by Red Bull's strategy: they didn't worry about tire wear, because they knew they wouldn't be keeping their man out there long enough for it to affect their pace.  Of course, that can only work when you've got relatively unused sets of soft tires... which, after Quals, they in fact had.  At this point, the F1U! crew were sure the young German would power off into the sunset for an easy win.

*MEANWHILE:  Sitting at the back of the grid at the start was Renault's Grizzly Nick Heidfeld.  Relegated there by dint of an exhaust fire in P3 that prevented him from taking place in Quals, it was obvious to everybody that he'd be a fox amongst the chickens once the race started.  Indeed, very quickly he went from 24th and dead last to 17th on the first lap, all the while on the new super-hard tires.  In fact, he stayed out for 22 laps, during which time the guys up front stopped twice.  He then had three sets of soft tires to go 44 laps.  The chuckling and metaphorical rubbing of hands with glee were obvious on the Renault pitwall.

*YOU MANGY CURS KERS:  Back up at the front, the F1U! crew were astounded to see that leader Seb Vettel did not, in fact, power away from Lewis Hamilton.  Indeed, after the last set of pitstops had been completed, with both drivers going onto the super-hard tires, the McLaren slowly began to reel in the Red Bull.  By lap 55, the gap was about a half-second and often closer.  The KERS unit in Vettel's car was to blame, apparently overheating after being used for a couple of laps.  The pit lane would then tell him to switch it off so it could cool down.  Eventually it'd be okay to use again... at which point it would overheat after a couple of laps.  Rinse, repeat ad infinitum.

*FINALLY:  Hamilton's frustration must have been terrible.  In the last couple of turns of each lap, Vettel would open the lead just enough to make the run down the front straight, even with DRS and KERS, a long stern chase that would end with the McLaren a bit too far back to make a passing attempt into Turn 1.  If he had been on the soft tires, he could have braked later, maybe carried a little bit more speed into the first turn, and made the pass easily.  But the McLaren had the less grippy super-hard shoes on, making it academic.  The rest of the lap would be spent closing up on the Red Bull, only to see all the work go away in the last turns.  No flaw in the McLaren, just that for some reason, Vettel could make the Red Bull work better in those last bends.  As their grim duel continued on, the duo managed to lap the field through fifth place HWMNBN's Ferrari when the race ended.  Hamilton did everything he could to catch the reigning Driver's Champion, but nothing he tried was successful.   When the Red Bull finally crossed the line, there was the McLaren trailing behind by .6 of a second.  A truly sterling race from both drivers.  Third place Jenson Button followed along over 35 seconds later, with Mark Webber finishing up 12 seconds after that.

*AND THEN...:  Further down in the pack, Grizzly Nick Heidfeld had been chewing up the rest of the field like the beast that gave him his nickname.  Particularly on the final stint, when he was the only car in the field on a brand new set of soft tires (everybody else on softs were running scuffs, or "pre-used" tires), did Heidfeld go berserk, showing what "two seconds per lap" really means.  He managed to end up in eighth, and given another couple of laps he probably would have passed both members of Team Mercedes.  All of this leads one to wonder why the teams even bother to go out in Quals anyway?

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Yes, he has the best car.  Yes, he's arguably the best driver.  Seb Vettel actually had to drive today, as opposed to coasting the entire race.  The result?  A hard-fought win in a balky car that was probably a smidge slower than his rival.  One small mistake and he would have been relegated to the second step on the podium... except he never made that mistake.  Vettel deserves this award, perhaps more than ever before.  The predictable Honorable Mention goes to Grizzly Nick Heidfeld for picking up 16 places during his charge from the rear.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  McLaren wound up second and third on the podium, had a great shot at winning the whole thing, and out-thought their main rivals on tire strategy.  If Lewis Hamilton had the tire babying skills of his teammate Jenson Button, he probably would have won.  Still, they put a scare into Red Bull, and made sure their main opponent knew that they have a fight on their hands the rest of the way... at least until Red Bull gets their KERS unit reliably working.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  Mark Webber had been trailing behind HWMNBN for a few laps, reeling the Ferrari in despite the two having tires with the same amount of wear.  As the pair approached Turn 10 on lap 35, Webber made his move.

From waaaay back, the Aussie braked about as late as you can and possibly later, throwing out the anchor, deploying the parachute, dragging his feet, and anything else you can think of to slow down.  HWMNBN must have been shocked at how quickly the Red Bull zipped by.  However, the two-time World Champion quickly got his head back into the game.

Turning inside Webber, HWMNBN took a shorter (but slower) line through the turn and got back on the gas while the Red Bull pilot gathered in the parachute and anchor.  The two sprinted down to Turn 11... another left-hander.

This time, the Ferrari was in the better position and retook the place from the Red Bull.  A brilliant piece of driving from both men, Webber for the initial pass, HWMNBN for the re-pass.  A well-deserved shared MotR for the two!

*MOOOOOOO-OOOOVE OF THE RACE:  Felipe Massa had been having a miserable weekend.  First, Quals simply sucked, qualifying eighth while his teammate took fourth on the grid.  The once the race started, he simply couldn't get his Ferrari F150 Italia to perform, languishing in eighth before starting a slow slide down the field.  The unforced error that led to a spin on Lap 38 mercifully didn't cost him any places, but must have just made an awful day even worse.  The ugly grinding sound in his gearbox couldn't have made him feel any better.  It probably came as a relief when he beached himself.

Intentionally, I might add.  His gearbox wasn't going to make it another five laps.  Really, he doesn't deserve this... so instead, I'm going to give it to a special surprise winner!

Yes, that's right, I'm giving the Moooooo-oooove of the Race to the cornerworker who managed to lose both his safety helmet AND his ballcap as he ran around the back of Heikki Kovaleinninninnie's car.  Well done!



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May 08, 2011

F1 Update!: Turkey 2011

A beautiful sunny day awaited us today at the Istanbul Otodrom as the cameras went live on the Turkish  Grand Prix.  But would Seb Vettel enjoy the race, or would the someone else take the May flowers from him?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2011 Grand Prix of Turkey.

*RACE:  As the F1U! crew, joined by F1tern Vaucaunson's Duck, settled into our comfy chairs, the lights went out to begin the race.  It immediately became obvious that, barring car failure, this contest was going to be for second place.  Seb Vettel jumped away from the line and never looked back, opening a 1.2 second lead at the end of Lap 1.  Just a pleasant Sunday drive for the World Champion, who won by nearly nine seconds over his teammate Mark Webber, who led Ferrari's HWMNBN across the line by just over a second.  After those podium positions, there was a 30 second gap back to Lewis Hamilton's McLaren. 

*THAT'S A RECORD:  Pirelli's hopeful optimism towards the lifespan of their tires turned out to be somewhat misplaced.  The first pitstops came on Lap 10, and for all intents and purposes never stopped.  As a result, more stops were made in this race than ever before in F1 history: 80.  The previous record-holding race started out in the wet, went dry, then sort of bobbled back and forth between the two, causing chaos in the pit lane.  This one?  All dry, and everybody save McLaren's Jenson Button and one of the Toro Rosso drivers made four stops.

*DIFFERING VIEWPOINTS:  Having the F1tern here for the race brought something unexpected to the F1U! team's eyes.  We saw the race as being action-packed but somewhat dull, full of passing back in the pack that was more or less meaningless.  On the other hand, the F1tern thought the race was action-packed and exciting, full of dramatic passes.  The possibility exists that the F1U! team is old and jaded.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  It's very hard to not give this award to Ferrari's HWMNBN, who pulled his steed onto the podium when it looked like the red cars would never get there this year.  It's also very hard not to give the award to Gandalf Kobayashi, who started dead last, fought his way up to eighth, and ended up tenth, very nearly equaling Mark Webber's 15-place improvement at China (18th to third).  But it's impossible to not give the Driver of the Race award to Red Bull's Seb Vettel.  Maybe it's the car, maybe it's because he's mostly driving with a clear track in front of him, but he dominated the Grand Prix of Turkey race weekend.  Beginning from Saturday's P3 session, then in Quals, then the race itself, nobody was even close to the World Champion.  It's a telling statistic that he's led 183 of the 220 laps run this season...

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Red Bull.  Duh.  They blew away everybody in Quals, they blew away everybody during the race, and they had to rebuild Vettel's car after his 1st Practice wreck.  That's a heckuva record for the team.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  The combination of KERS and DRS have made passing much, much easier this season, giving the F1U! crew more than enough choices for the best move.  The McLaren teammates, for example, had a scrum that lasted three full laps; Hamilton passed Button, who passed Hamilton, who came back and repassed Button, who turned around and repassed Hamilton again.  Massa and Rosberg had a lovely little scrimmage on Lap 20.  There were literally dozens of others, mostly in the DRS zone.  But none of them came close to what happened on Lap 15.  Slappy Schumacher led a hard-charging Gandalf Kobayashi, who had just gotten by Force India's Adrian F'n Sutil and Paul di Resta.  Coming down from the flat-out Turn 11 towards Turn 12, Gandalf decided that he wanted Slappy's place, no matter what.  Slappy decided he wouldn't make it easy for the Wizard.  He moved to the inside, and Gandalf took Shadowfax onto the grass at 200 mph while Adrian F'n Sutil tried to take advantage of Schumacher's inattention, going wide to the outside.

Gandalf, past the elder statesman, lit up his tires through Turn 12, while Sutil whipped from the outside to the inside to get past the Mercedes driver.  His tires smoking, he shouldered Schumi aside.

On the pull-out, di Resta tried to get involved as well, to no avail.  Kobayashi had picked up three places through the whole thing, Sutil one, and Slappy lost two. 

More importantly, it's clear that Schumacher's legendary status has worn off, with the younger drivers no longer giving him the respect they used to... which is the way it should be. 

*MOOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE RACE:  13 laps previously on the same bit of track, Renault's Red Menace, Vitaly Petrov, made a... shall we say optimistic... move on Slappy Schumacher, neglecting to apply his brakes until very late into Turn 12.  He went to the inside of Schumacher and quite honestly had no chance whatsoever to make either the move or the turn.  Slappy, however, was having none of it.  He decided that the brilliant thing to do was to close down on the speeding Red Menace.

Result?  The two bumped rather hard, the Renault ran over the Mercedes' nose, and the contact slowed the Red Menace enough that he could control himself through the turn.  Schumi immediately pulled into the pits, but he still lost a ton of places and was never seen again.  Good job, Slappy, here's your Moooooo-oove.



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