November 24, 2013

F1 Update!: Brazil 2013

There were low grey skies hovering above Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace at Interlagos as the samba line known as the F1 Circus made its way to the starting grid, but the track surface was still dry.  It surely wouldn't stay that way, though.  THIS is your F1U! for the 2013 Grand Prix of Brazil!

*RACE:  Once the lights went out and the Thundering Herd charged down to Turn 1, we had the amazing sight of someone other than 4Time Vettel leading the race.  Both Vettel and his teammate, Mark Webber, had less-than-optimal starts.  This opened the door for both Nico Rosberg and Ferrari's HWMNBN to make runs at the Driver's Champion.  Rosberg got past, HWMNBN did not, but gave Vettel something of a scare through the Senna S complex.  It didn't last long, and neither did Rosberg's lead.  He did officially lead the first lap though, so that's nice for him.  Shortly thereafter, Vettel's RB9 blew past him on the straight and it became a normal 2013 race again. 

*AND THEN:  On Lap 3, something distinctly abnormal occurred.

It's been long enough since the last comprehensive engine kablammo that we here at F1U! can't remember when it was.  In this case, the Renault RS27 of Lettuce Grosjean's Lotus let go, killing every mosquito in São Paolo.  Fortunately, he did not lay down an oil slick, nor did the immense amount of smoke released block vision for very long.  We here at F1U! remember when we'd see this scene every couple of races...

: The rain didn't come.  Everybody was looking to the heavens, trying to figure out when they'd open up.  Every driver was told to protect his tires as much as possible, so to keep that first pitstop at bay until it rained.  The thinking, quite logically, was that those who couldn't keep the tires alive would be at a disadvantage if they stopped before the rains came, as they'd have to stop again for rain tires.  But the rains didn't come, and the looks of confusion up and down the pit lane were plain to see.  "Wait, it was supposed to rain... now what do we do?"  It got so bad that when the second round of stops occurred, it still hadn't rained and Red Bull completely peed theirs down their legs.  Vettel came in, the team took his tires off... but they didn't have new tires for him, they had Webber's out and waiting.  In the time it took them to run into the garage and grab them, Webber came in and was forced to "stack" behind his younger teammate.  Clearly the two were supposed to pit in the opposite order.  This cost Vettel about six-to-eight seconds of lead time, though it hardly mattered. 

*FINALLY:  Drops of rain began to appear on the on-board cameras with around 10 laps to go, but still the skies refused to drop The Great Equalizer upon the circuit.  The Legendary Announce Team tried to play it up as if the track had become "greasy," but the lack of fishtailing and drifting proved them wrong.  We don't doubt that the traction was somewhat less than perfect, but it wasn't that bad either.  Then, a few laps later, the inevitable occurred: 4Time Vettel swept across the finish line.  He led his retiring teammate by 10 seconds, followed by HWMNBN another nine seconds back.

*LOOKING AROUND:  Vettel won every race since the Summer Break, nine in a row.  This is the first time any driver ever has won nine races in a row in a single season.  He won 13 out of 19 races on the season (tying him with Slappy Schumacher for the most in a season), and 10 out of the last 11.  He scored more points alone (397) than the next closest team (Mercedes, 360).  He scored 83.58% of the maximum points possible  Only Mercedes and Red Bull scored pole positions all season. 

*AND THUS:  The 2013 season has come to an end, and with it the V8 engine era.  Next March will see the return of turbocharging, though perched on V6 engines.  Well, it'll be different, that's for sure.  F1U! may come back, too... only time will tell.  Thank you for reading, and we'll see you in 2014!

*OH, AND THIS:  The last two episodes of McLaren's Tooned:

So that's how they dealt with Hamilton!

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November 19, 2013

F1 Update!: United States 2013

A remarkably warm day (for November, not for Texas in general) greeted the two longhorned Red Bulls (see what I did there?) as they led the rest of the thundering herd (get it?) to the starting line at the Circuit of the Americas.  Would head cowboy Tom Landry 4Time Vettel become the first driver in F1 history to win eight consecutive races in one season?  Or would rival drover Mark Webber say goodbye to America with a win?  Perhaps gardian Lettuce Grosjean would break through with his first victory?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2013 United States Grand Prix!

*WELL, NO:  For all intents and purposes, the race was over by the time Vettel climbed Phil Hill and made it through Turn 1.  In fact, not only had he locked up the win but Lettuce Grosjean, taking advantage of yet another Mark Webber Lousy Start®, slotted into second place... which he wouldn't relinquish either.  So, yeah, there's the race writeup, right there.

:  Over at Chizumatic, Steven finally watched his first F1 race.  He's absolutely right that DRS is, as he calls it, a hack.  Before it came around, we saw practically zero passing; now we see regular passing, but usually only in certain locations.  We here at F1U! like DRS about as much as we like Bubonic Plague, but it has done what the FIA wanted it to do.  Steven also talks about the pitstops, and how even a "slow" one looked fast to his eyes.  During the race, someone (Button?) had a four second long stop, and we were going "wow, slow" around the three second mark.  But then, Mark Webber had a 2.3 second stop that Red Bull is claiming was actually a sub-two.  Whatever, guys.

*STILL MORE:  The "official language" of F1 is supposed to be English.  All radio conversations are supposed to be in English, but Ferrari continues to speak to HWMNBN in Italian, particularly for sensitive messages.  For the most part, the Red Team has been playing it straight this year, but every now and again, you'll get things like this that remind us why we despise the Scuderia.


click for bigger version

*ENOUGH OF THAT:  Look, if you think you're disappointed with this writeup, imagine how we here at F1U! feel.  This is what we do, and we just don't have it in us to do anything more than this.  Maybe we'll do something better for our least favorite race, Brazil, this coming weekend.  It's the last one of the year, after all.  See you then.

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November 17, 2013

F1U USGP Delayed

Due to the gobsmackingly hideous weather, I had to go into the Duck U Bookstore for a while this evening.  As a result, I'm in no mood to write about the race.  Steven has an entertaining little writeup HERE... I'll answer his questions/comments when I do the F1U.  Meanwhile, here's a picture of Adrian F'n Sutil's Lap 1 wreck to tide you over until then!

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November 03, 2013

(Mini) F1 Update!: Abu Dhabi 2013

We just lost an hour's worth of work on the (Mini) F1 Update! that we'd been working on.  We are not pleased.  THIS is your F1U! for the 2013 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi.

*UGH:  Did you think 4Time Vettel would ease up on the rest of the field now that he'd won the driver's championship?  Oh heavens, if only that were the case.  The lights went out, polesitter Mark Webber had one of his patented Lousy Start®s, and suddenly Vettel found himself in the lead out of Turn 1... a lead he would never relinquish.  Down at the other end of the field, Kimi Raikkonen, who had been excluded from Quals, decided that he could win the race in the first turn.  He tried to fit his Lotus underneath the Caterham of Giedo Van Der Garde, into a space that was going away even before he turned in.  This unwise move cost the Finn his front suspension.  However, he did get a jump on traffic back to the hotel.

There are already people baying and lowing about his leaving the circuit before the race was over, but c'mon, really?  What exactly could he do to help matters?  Give advice on how to handle the front straight?  How not to take Turn 1?  Support the team?  Considering the way this weekend has gone for the Raikkonen/Lotus relationship, I wouldn't be shocked to hear (in a few years) that he did it on purpose.

*ZZZZZZZZZ:  As the sun disappeared over the Yas Marina circuit, due to both planetary rotation and solar eclipse, 4Time Vettel made the sport ridiculous.

At one point, Red Bull's champion had a 43 second lead over his teammate in second place.  There was one stretch of time where he was two seconds a lap faster than anybody else on track.  We'd like to chalk it up to the rest of the field getting an early jump on 2014, but there's still too much to play for... no, 4Time just killed everything possible today.  It may have been the most dominating drive we here at F1U! have ever seen... and it was also ridiculously boring.

*OWTCH:  In the race's endgame, HWMNBN had just made his second pitstop and came charging out of the pit tunnel with a full head of steam.  Toro Rosso driver Jules Vergne had worn tires and held 7th place, but the Ferrari driver wanted the place badly.  Problem was, Vergne couldn't hold his racing line, drifting somewhat into the path of HWMNBN.  The Spaniard was forced to take to the off-track pavement.  His return was... exciting.

There had been complaints about the curbing at Yas Marina all weekend, and in almost the same place during Quals, Shiv Hamilton broke the rear suspension on his Mercedes.  HWMNBN's Ferrari got some good air and returned to earth with a 28G thump that set off the shock alarms that require a mandatory visit to the hospital.  Usually this happens immediately; that sort of force is usually caused by an accident, after all.  In this case, HWMNBN was complaining of some back pain but finished the race.

Afterwards, he was transported to the hospital strapped to a backboard, as seen in this picture released by his agent.  At no time was he unconscious... heck, he drove the rest of the race, finished in 5th and had the fast lap of the race.  Still, there is some question as to whether he'll be allowed to drive at the US Grand Prix.

*NOTE:  Vettel's win keeps open the possibility of tying two major F1 records.  This was his 11th race win in 2013... if he wins out, he'll tie Slappy Schumacher's 2004 season with 13 wins.  In doing so, he'd also tie Alberto Ascari's record for consecutive victories, nine.  Like it or not, we're watching something special here.

Next race is in two weeks, right here in the good ol' USA!  See you then!

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