September 23, 2012

F1 Update!: 2012 Grand Prix of Singapore

We can honestly say that it wasn't a bright sunny day in Singapore today.  That's because it's a night race!  So: it was a clear, hot, humid night at this island city-state as Lewis Hamilton led the rest of the field onto the starting grid.  But would he hold his position and cut into HWMNBN's points lead?  Or would Archmandrite Maldonado or Seb Vettel get past the McLaren driver and make their charge towards the Ferrari driver's score?  Or, just maybe, the Spaniard himself might win the race and stick a shiv into the back of everybody's championship hopes.  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2012 Grand Prix of Singapore!

*LIGHTS OUT:  When the race began, it immediately became obvious that this one was Lewis Hamilton's to lose.  He pulled quickly away from Seb Vettel who had gotten ahead of Maldonado before they reached the second turn.  Behind them, we saw four cars side-by-side into Turn 2, and the usual havoc caused by minor contact.  Felipe Massa was the biggest loser in the deal, dropping from 13th at the start to dead last with a lacerated left-rear tire.  The Red Menace's Caterham lost its nose, stopped, had it replaced, and left the pits before the Ferrari had made it to the pit lane, that's how bad it was for the Brazilian. 

:  While it wasn't entirely one-sided in the favor of the McLaren driver, Hamilton slowly opened a decent lead as the leaders hit their first pit stops around Lap 10; the super-soft tires were one-lap quick, but multi-lap fragile and lasted about as long as used tissue paper.  By the time the first pit rotation was over around Lap 20, Hamilton had a 1.5 second lead over Vettel, who headed Jenson Button by three seconds.  Maldonado and HWMNBN filled out the top five, and it looked like, barring incident or failures, that's how it was going to stay... and F1 cars have become nigh-on bulletproof in recent years.

*INCIDENT AND FAILURE:  ...and then we saw this.

Lewis Hamilton, his gearbox turned into metal shavings and hate, pulled his car into a runoff zone gloomily walked away, out of the race from the lead.  Both Seb Vettel and HWMNBN had to be laughing whole-heartedly.  Then we had an incident as Narain Kittylitter's suspension snapped, sending him into the wall and bringing out the first Safety Car of the night.  While the cars perambulated behind Berndt Maylander, HWMNBN started to laugh again as Archmandrite Maldonado withdrew from the race with a hydraulic failure.  In the span of a few laps, HWMNBN had gone from fifth to standing on the podium, through no action of his own. 

:  Once the Safety Car made its way off the track, the race resumed for a grand total of one full lap before Berndt Maylander made his second appearance of the evening.  Slappy Schumacher had managed to crash into the rear of Jules Vergne's Toro Rosso under braking (see the Moooo-ooove of the Race).  There was another scramble into the pits to get any car on the super-soft tires off them, and away everybody went again.

*TIME'S UP:  The two safety car periods lasted nearly 10 laps between them, thereby guaranteeing that this race was going not going to go the full 61 laps.  Y'see, there is a two hour time limit to any F1 event, and Singapore is always right up against that limit; last year's ended after 119 minutes, for example.  When time reached zero, Seb Vettel led Jenson Button and HWMNBN across the line, two laps short of the scheduled 61.  It was all a bit anti-climactic, to be honest, though there was no way anybody was going to catch Vettel, nor was the Ferrari going to run down the McLaren.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Felipe Massa.  He had to pit at the end of Lap 1 after one of his rear tires got slashed by a front wing.  He emerged from the pits dead last.  He wound up finishing in 8th place, earned a Move of the Race, and may have saved his Ferrari career.  Good show for a guy who hasn't been the same since his horrible accident.

:  Marussia.  What?  Well, nobody particularly distinguished themselves this race.  To be sure, Red Bull gained points on their closest rival McLaren, but when Hamilton went out they had a chance to bury them.  That didn't happen.  Ferrari got both their cars in the points, but combined they didn't score as many as Button.  Lotus got both in the points as well and still lost points to Ferrari.  Somebody had the chance to make a major statement in Singapore, and nobody stepped up to do so.  So when the dust cleared, nobody noticed that Tim O'Glockenspiel had brought his Marussia home in 12th place, the best finish for the team ever.  So tra-la, congratulations to Marussia, now the clear 10th-place team in the constructor's championship!

:  On Lap 43, after the second Safety Car had gone in, Ferrari's beleaguered Felipe Massa was wanting to get by Bruno Senna's Williams something fierce.  Coming out of Turns 10, 11 and 12, the red car was all over the back of Senna, and then Massa thought he saw an opening.

Under normal circumstances, there's no way anybody would think about making a pass at this spot on the circuit.  Turn 13 is a horribly tight left-hander that just isn't a good place to make a move.  Massa, however, is under great pressure from Ferrari, with some thinking that he's driving for his very career in F1.  So away he went, never expecting that his fellow Brazilian would attempt to murder him.

For his part, Senna had made the decision that Massa was NOT getting by in one piece and moved left on the Ferrari.  To be fair, there was no obvious contact between the two, nor did Massa touch the barrier.  Having said that, we here at F1U! have no idea how that occurred.  To make matters worse, the Ferrari driver then dropped the car altogether and it began to slalom down the track.  Senna, his sense of self-preservation showing, moved to the right to avoid what was inevitably going to be an  pile of carbon fiber shards and tears.  Somehow, Massa regained a modicum of control, honked the wheel hard left, and prayed.

He came out of the turn ahead of Senna, and managed to stay there.  The SKYF1 broadcasters may have had the right of it when they said that it "wasn't an overtake, it was just an attempt not to crash."  Well, it was the best attempt not to crash of the race!  Felipe Massa, here's your MotR!

:  After Narain Kittylitter's Safety Car pulled in to restart the race,  the surviving runners were, as usual, single-file.  There was jockeying, but it looked like everybody was more or less content to let tire temperatures come up.  At Turn 14, there were two cars side-by-side, Jules Vergne to the outside of a Sauber.  Behind them was Slappy Schumacher, coming hard.  Maybe too hard, as he apparently neglected his braking point.  There was a huge cloud of tire smoke and brake dust behind the two dueling cars... and then:

The surprised and exasperated radio call from the Mercedes pit wall to the seven-time world champion was... telling: "What happened there?  What happened there???"  We suspect the reason we didn't hear Slappy's reply was that it was unfit for a family broadcast.  We here at F1U! note that this is the second year in a row he's had an incident like this under the lights at Singapore, and suggest that perhaps his eyes aren't as good as they used to be... after all, ours aren't.  Congratulations, Slappy, here's your Mooooo!  Oh, and a 10-spot grid penalty for Japan, too.  Honorable mention goes to Mark Webber, who passed Gandalf Kobayashi for 10th place near the end of the race at one of the few places you can manage to get all four tires off the circuit, thus earning a 20 second time penalty and losing his one point.  Good job!



Posted by: Wonderduck at 05:02 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 1736 words, total size 12 kb.

September 09, 2012

F1 Update!: 2012 Grand Prix of Italy

A lovely day awaited the F1 Circus as the McLaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button led the field to the starting grid.  But would the British pair dominate in Italy, or would the tifosi get to celebrate a Ferrari resurgence?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2012 Grand Prix of Italy!

*LIGHTS OUT:  The beginning of the race saw something of a surprise when Ferrari's Felipe Massa got the jump on a sluggishly-starting Jenson Button, serving notice that he was out to prove something to the fans, his team, and perhaps most importantly, his teammate, HWMNBN, languishing down in 10th place.  However, other than a nearly-brakeless run into the first chicane, Massa could do nothing with Lewis Hamilton, who began to gallop off into the Italian afternoon.

*RELIABILITY I:  Toro Rosso's Jules Vergne was having a Toro Rosso sort of day.  Starting 17th, he was still more or less in that position as he came down the pit straight at 210mph to begin Lap 10.  Entering the braking zone for the first chicane, he pressed down hard on the "whoa" pedal... and felt the back end of his car snap away from him.  It was later found that his rear suspension failed, and there was nothing any driver could have done, cold comfort for a driver approaching the ridiculously high curbing at a still-elevated speed.

Vergne's wheelie nearly turned into a full-fledged tumble when he hit the "sleeping policemen" in the run-off area while somewhat sideways, but Lady Luck smiled upon him, bringing him down on all four tires pointing more-or-less the direction of travel.  It took a lap to clear the remains, but the race continued essentially unimpeded.

*MEANWHILE:  On Lap 19, Jenson Button finally got past Felipe Massa to reclaim 2nd place.  Behind the ailing Ferrari, which had suffered an electrical fault that had rendered the telemetry feed null and void,  Red Bull's Seb Vettel and the red car of HWMNBN pitted at the same time and came out with the reigning world champion inches ahead of the Spaniard.  A few laps later, the faster Ferrari tried to pass the German driver aroudn the outside of the Curva Grande in what looked to be a mirror image of the Move Of The Race from last year.  Except for one thing: Seb Vettel was having none of it.

Despite the Ferrari being alongside him, Vettel kept squeezing, forcing HWMNBN to take to the grass.  How he managed to keep the red car from spearing off into the great unknown is beyond us.  The stewards took a dim view of the young German's actions and slapped him with a drive-through penalty, but not until shortly after HWMNBN managed to pass the Red Bully on his own for 4th place.

*RELIABILITY II:  Jenson Button had reason to feel confident.  He had won last week at Spa, and was sitting in second place, just a few ticks behind his teammate Lewis Hamilton.  He might not win the race, but he had to have been thinking podium (and an improved position in the Driver's Championship ranking, as well).  Then without warning, it all came to an end on Lap 34, when a fuel pickup problem shut his engine off and sent him coasting to a halt on the side of the track.

*SUPER SAUBER STRATEGY:  Sergio Perez started the race 12th on the grid.  After running his hard tires for 32 laps or so, he finally came in for his one and only pit-stop, the last to do so.  He emerged in eighth, and immediately began to show that the Sauber chassis really really liked the softer tire.  Lap after lap, Perez had the fastest car on track.  Eventually he was up in second place, a full second per lap quicker than leader Lewis Hamilton.

*RELIABILITY III and IV:  Earlier in the race weekend, Seb Vettel had an alternator fail on his RB8, ending his practice session early.  Today, a radio call to his teammate Mark Webber was the first indication that there could be a problem: "Seb has a problem that might end his race at any time, be careful."  Indeed, a few minutes later on Lap 48, the world champion was pulling over, his race ended by a truly frantic radio call to 'stop the car and save the engine.' 

Webber got to enjoy his promotion for a few laps until he too ended up withdrawing from the race.  In his case, however, it was less mechanical and more tire-related.  A late spin on worn tires put massive flat spots on all four corners, and he had to crawl back to the pit lane at reduced speed to keep the suspension-threatening vibration down; at speed, Webber said that he couldn't see the track because the vibration was so bad.

This was the first time since Korea 2010 that Red Bull did not earn points in a race.

*THE END:  The only laps Lewis Hamilton did not lead today were the ones Sergio Perez held before he made his very late pit stop.  Fittingly, Perez finished 2nd, a mere four seconds behind Hamilton and closing fast.  Behind him, HWMNBN came in 3rd, nine seconds ahead of his teammate Felipe Massa.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Sergio Perez started 12th, stayed on-track on his first set of tires longer than anybody, then regained six places after he stopped.  He finished second for the second time this season, and now must be considered a dark horse for a win this year.

:  Ferrari.  They finished both cars while their two closest rivals, McLaren and Red Bull, could only get one across the line combined.  In the process, they've made great strides in the constructor's championship.  Not exactly what the tifosi wanted, but it's a decent enough consolation prize.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  On Lap 37, Sergio Perez tried to pass Kimi Raikkonen at the first chicane for 4th place, and had his hat handed to him.  So on the following lap, he tried it again.

This time it worked, the Sauber slithering around the outside of the first bend, then powering around the second while the Lotus tried everything he could think of short of squeezing the Mexican to prevent the pass.  Nothing worked, and Perez took off after Felipe Massa for third.  A nice pass for the driver of the race, with a pat on the helmet for the Finn for letting it happen safely.

*MOOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE RACE:  On Lap 22, Felipe Massa led Seb Vettel and HWMNBN after all three had made their pit stops.  Coming out, they found themselves behind the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo.  Massa made a speed move just before they entered Variante Della Roggia, followed by Vettel a moment later... a moment too late.

Boop!  In NASCAR, it's called "bump drafting."  In F1, Vettel is lucky he didn't lose his front wing... but, to be fair, it was awfully gentle contact.  There wasn't even much of a mark on the yellow nose cone of the RB8.  But we're talking about the reigning world champion here, so he gets the Mooooo!



Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:38 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
Post contains 1630 words, total size 12 kb.

September 02, 2012

F1 Update!: 2012 Grand Prix of Belgium

A stunningly pretty blue sky greeted the field as they rolled towards the grid on the 7.004km Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.  Jenson Button led the field but how long would that last once the lights went out?  Only one way to find that out: go racing!  THIS is your F1U! for the 2012 Grand Prix of Belgium!

:  As the leaders sat on the grid, waiting for the back of the field to take their places, cameras were focused on Monisha Kaltenborn, CEO and part-owner of Sauber F1 Team.  Yesterday, her look of pure joy as Gandalf Kobayashi took second place in Quals was a wonder to behold.  Now however, her look was one of concern and fear as Shadowfax, Gandalf's trusty steed, began to billow clouds of smoke.

The smoke was coming off of overheated brakes; not a bad thing, per se, unless they burst into flame, and that almost never happens.  One can only wonder what Gandalf's teammate Sergio Garcia, positioned directly behind him, thought.  As it turned out, this little occurrence was soon to be quickly forgotten.

*LIGHTS OUT... OH MY GOD!:  This was actually heard in the Official F1U! Viewing Center today as the race began, for many reasons.  First, Akhoond Maldonado had either the greatest start ever or he jumped the lights rather drastically, one of the two.  While the Stewards would later declare that he had jumped the start after viewing the telemetry and timing data, and Maldonado himself made it sound like he thought he jumped the gun ("My hand slipped off the clutch...") the Legendary Announce Team made a convincing argument that he, in fact, did not.  To be sure, in drag-racing terms, his reaction time was zero-point-zero-zero-zero and he aced the tree, but visually he looked to be okay.  It was only when the F1U! Technical Team got a HD version of the feed that we could see his Williams moving slightly just a couple of frames before the lights went out.  In retrospect, we should have known better: it was Maldonado, after all.  But then the real reason for the verbal explosion occurred.

In the always-crazy dash down to La Source, Lettuce Grosjean decided that he really wanted to be on the inside edge of the track, despite starting on the direct opposite side of the circuit... and nothing was going to get in his way.  As it turned out, he was very wrong about this, as the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton happened to be right where the Lotus was headed.  Grosjean's right-rear tire made contact with Hamilton's left-front, jerking the McLaren to the right, then once it was on the grass and uncontrollable, it snapped back and plowed directly into the rear of the Lotus. 

The two cars, steering completely wrecked, plowed straight ahead as the cars ahead of them made the right turn into La Source across their nose.  The Sauber of Sergio Garcia was ruined on the spot, Gandalf's steed took damage and would never be in contention again.  It goes without saying that Hamilton and Lettuce were out on the spot.  The Ferrari of HWMNBN was dead as well...

...and very nearly its pilot with it.  Fortunately, the Spaniard was uninjured except for a sore back caused when the Ferrari got airborne off the wheels of Shadowfax.  Hamilton's McLaren bounced off a different tire of the Sauber and caught air as well.

As a result of this incident, caused when he didn't look where he was going, Lettuce Grosjean has been given a one-race ban and will not participate next week at Monza.  The official statement from the Stewards reads, in part, "The stewards note the team conceded the action of the driver was an extremely serious mistake and an error of judgement. Neither the team nor the driver made any submission in mitigation of penalty."  He was also fined €50000.  As one would imagine considering the amount of carbon fiber shards carpeting the track surface, the safety car was called out, and the field would circulate behind it for four full laps.

*HERE WE GO AGAIN:  Once Bernd Maylander took the AMG-Mercedes SLS into the pits, Jenson Button led Kimi Raikkonen and the two Force Indias as the race restarted.  Almost immediately, Button began to pull away from the field, opening a nearly three-second lead on the Lotus by the end of the lap, helped by Raikkonen being passed and then held up by the FIndia of Nico Hulkenberg.  Then it became a race of tires.  Unseen by US viewers, Akhoond Maldonado plowed into the Marussia of Tim O'Glockenspiel and retired.  For this and his jump-start, Maldonado earned two separate five-spot grid penalties for Monza... we here at F1U! wonder just what the record for individual penalties in one race weekend is.  Maldonado must be in the running, having earned three between Quals and the race.

*HOW MANY STOPS?:  Surprisingly, it quickly became clear that the frontrunners were planning a one-stop tire strategy.  Button didn't pit until Lap 21, at which point everybody else behind him save Seb Vettel had already stopped.  He had enough of a lead on the Red Bull driver to emerge from the pits still in first place, at which point the F1U! Strategy Crew wrote "race over" in the logbook.  It became merely a question as to whether Button, a driver known for his smooth tire-friendly style, could make his rubber last 23 laps around the longest track in F1... and who would finish second behind him, and could they make a one-stop work.

*YEP, AND NOPE:  Both of the Red Bulls and Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus were having problems with straight-line speed, a major blunder around this fast circuit.  The Finn had too much rear wing, causing  huge amounts of drag, down the Kemmel Straight, while Vettel and Webber had their gearing set wrong, resulting in their engines bouncing off the limiter much too early, limiting their top speeds.  This caused all three to give up any chance they had of catching the McLaren and battle amongst themselves for whatever final positions they could grab.  Vettel made his one-stop strategy work, keeping his tires fresh and finishing in second place.  Kimi's tires faded away, ruining his try for a one-stopper and placing him solidly in third after a snarling dogfight with Nico Hulkenberg.  Webber, on the other hand, was essentially crippled by his limited top speed, which made him relatively easy pickings for Felipe Massa of all people.  Massa finished fifth, Webber sixth, a full 20 seconds ahead of Slappy Schumacher.  The closest anybody came to Jenson Button, though, was that three seconds at the restart.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE: As much as it pains us, Seb Vettel gets this award over Jenson Button.  While Button drove a fine race, Vettel started from 10th place on the grid to take second, passing his own teammate and Slappy Schumacher in nasty struggles along the way.  Just an all-around swell drive for the reigning World Champion.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Force India finished fourth and 10th today, after starting ninth and 11th.  They avoided the first-corner carnage, drove professional races, challenged some of the biggest names in the sport, and heck, Paul di Resta earned a point despite a non-functional KERS unit.  Fantastic result for a team that needed it.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  On Lap 33, Kimi Raikkonen was crawling all over the pewter tail of Slappy Schumacher's Mercedes, but just wasn't able to find a way around down the back half of the circuit, the pit straight, or La Source.  Out of La Source, however, and in the run down to Eau Rouge, Kimi's nose was tucked right under the rear wing of Slappy.

Now you may notice that white line stretching across the track just ahead of the nose of Slappy's car.  That is the DRS detection line, which decides which cars get to use DRS on the Kemmel Straight (just after Eau Rouge) and which ones don't.  You have to be within one second of the car ahead to be able to use the DRS... Slappy Schumacher will not be able to do so, as there's no car ahead of him.  Kimi, on the other hand, will be able to; with his top speed limited by his mis-set rear wing, he'll need it just to stay in contact with the Mercedes.

Then Kimi went completely insane, diving inside on Slappy in Eau Rouge, a place you pass only if you have a death wish or supreme confidence in your abilities

Slappy, realizing he was being passed by an insane Finn, gave him room and let him go, perhaps secure in the knowledge that he'd be able to use DRS at the top of the hill and just catch him back up.  Oops.  Not only could he not do that, the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg could... and nearly caught him in the process.  For having two huge ball-bearings of steel and a working brain to calculate the best time to pass the German, we hereby present Kimi Raikkonen with the Move of the Race.  Sneaky clever!

: By rule, we can't give it to Lettuce Grosjean, as it occurred on the first lap.  So, instead, it goes to Akhoond Maldonado.

I think this picture sums up his entire career.  Three penalties in one race weekend, two of them in six laps?  Congratulations, Akhoond, you just got another Moooooo!



Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:47 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
Post contains 2000 words, total size 14 kb.

<< Page 1 of 1 >>
53kb generated in CPU 0.0243, elapsed 0.0907 seconds.
47 queries taking 0.0735 seconds, 211 records returned.
Powered by Minx 1.1.6c-pink.