July 28, 2014

F1 Update!: Hungary 2014

The Grand Prix of Hungary only coughs up a good race when it rains... and it doesn't rain that often in Hungary in July, apparently.  Did it this time?  THIS is your F1Update! for the 2014 Grand Prix of Hungary.

*THE RACE:  Approximately 40 minutes before the start of the race, the heavens opened up and most of the contents of Lake Balaton found itself deposited upon the Hungaroring.  Charlie Whiting hung out the "changing conditions" sign, leading the teams to scramble to make any weather-related adjustments that they cared to apply to their cars.  Unfortunately for everybody, the track ranged from soaked to merely damp to "rain, what rain?"  This is the worst sort of situation for Intermediate tires, which desperately need water on them to keep them from dying.  The race began with everybody tiptoeing their way around the track.  Lewis Hamilton, starting from the pitlane, spun in Turn 2, doing a touch of damage to his front wing, but it looked like everybody was managing the conditions.  Until Lap 8.

*SAFETY CAR:  That's when the entire race went into a cocked hat.  The Caterham of Marcus Erickson went into the tire barriers outside of Turn 4, impacting hard enough to trip the Impact Detector in the cockpit.

He walked away before the Medical Car arrived on scene, but there were some butterflies in the stomachs of the assembled F1U! crew when the first marshal on scene gave the signal for "possible injury".  A few laps later, still under the Safety Car, the Lotus of Lettuce Grosjean ended up hitting the wall on the inside of Turn 4, extending the SC period for another couple of laps.

*FALLOUT:  War.  War never changes.  Just before the Safety Car was called out, Mercedes' Nico Rosberg led the Williams of Valterri Bottas, HWMNBN's Ferrari, and the McLaren of Jenson Button.  When Berndt Maylander exited the pit lane, it was after those four had gone past the entry to pit lane.  Suddenly, the people behind the leaders were leading!  Daniel Ricciardo got the big boost, jumping from fifth to the lead. 

*STRATEGERY:  Under the Safety Car, McLaren consulted their weather radar closely and came to the conclusion that there was going to be more rain soon.  While the rest of the field stopped and switched to slick tires, both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen were kept on Intermediates.  The rain did not come, and both cars rapidly burned their tires down to the ground.  After that, neither were in contention for anything important.

*AND ALL THE REST:  One problem with wet weather races is that they require exquisite attention if one is to recap them adequately, and that level of focus is currently beyond the abilities of the F1U! crew.  There was another Safety Car on Lap 23, when Sergio Perez crashed on the front straight, and that turned the resumed race back into a dog's breakfast.  We'll skip to Lap 60, which saw HWMNBN leading Lewis Hamilton by just over a second, who was being pursued by Daniel Ricciardo by about a second.  While it looked for a few laps like the Ferrari driver could maybe... maybe... keep the other two behind, his tires were too old to legitimately hold the lead.  Surprisingly, it wasn't Hamilton, gunning to become the first driver to win from the pit lane, but Ricciardo who took the lead after disposing of the Merc.  Hamilton's fading tires also prevented him from getting past HWMNBN and left him open to a charging Rosberg to boot.  While the two teammates squabbled, the Red Car came home in 2nd place.  It should rain more often at the Hungaroring.

*OH, BY THE WAY:  Force India's Nico Hulkenberg ran into the back of his teammate and wound up stuck off the final turn on Lap 16, engine stalled.  This brought to an end his points finish string that actually started last year at the Grand Prix of the Americas.  This leaves only one driver to have earned points at every race this season: HWMNBN.

:  Lewis Hamilton.  Start from the pit lane, see how well you do in a race.  Think you can get a podium out of it?

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Ferrari.  We're not fans of the red cars from Maranello, but dear lord did they need that result.

*MOMENT OF THE RACE:  In the mid-late portion of the race, Nico Rosberg was charging up on Lewis Hamilton, clearly somewhat faster for whatever reason.  The Mercedes pit wall called Hamilton and told him to move over and let his teammate past.  Hamilton responded with "aw hell naw."  To be fair, he said if Rosberg could get close enough, he'd move over.  Rosberg couldn't do it.  This may have cost Mercedes the race, but he had a point. 

There will be no quotes of the race this time around, as we're now in the F1 Summer Break, and none of the drivers stuck around to be interviewed.  The next race is at Spa-Francopants on August 24th.  We'll see you then!!!

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July 22, 2014

Mini-F1Update!: Germany 2014

Explanations are forthcoming, but for now, please accept this Mini-F1U! for the Grand Prix of Germany.

*THE RACE:  All Nico Rosberg, all the time.  He led from lights out to checkered flag, and the closest anybody ever came to challenging him was at the beginning of the race.  That challenge, however, was squashed by Turn 1.  So, yes, boring race that way.  Behind him, however, things were all a-quiver with excitement.  Lewis Hamilton, starting 20th due to an accident in Quals and the resulting gearbox change, hacked and slashed his way through the field to finish third.  In the closing laps, he was giving eventual 2nd-place finisher Valterri Bottas the hairy eyeball; only fading tires prevented Hamilton from making a serious attempt to pass.  In other positions, Ferrari's HWMNBN and Red Bull's 4Time Vettel had a furious multi-lap duel, easily the most entertaining part of this race.  HWMNBN showed why he's probably the best driver on the grid, taking his less than stellar F14T up against a better performing RB10 and came out on top.  Alas, Vettel eventually turned the tables late with the help of DRS, but the two of them put on a show of driving skill like we've not seen this season.  It turned out that the Spaniard needed every bit of that skill to stay in front of Vettel's teammate at the end of the race.  On shot tires, he managed to finish a mere 1/10th of a second ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, and there was no chance he could have held him off for another lap.

*OTHER BITS:  We saw two incidents in this race that, thankfully, we've not seen in a while.  First was the Lap 1, Turn 1 wreck caused by Williams' Felipe Massa squeezing McLaren's Kevin Magnusson. 

We here at F1U! hate seeing open-cockpit cars upside down.  You never know what can happen in those incidents... fortunately, Massa escaped injury.  The other incident was Daniil Kyvat's Renault-powered Toro Rosso having some... overheating issues:

The moment the Russian brought the car to a stop, it was almost entirely engulfed in flame and smoke.  Scary moment, scary enough that the Formula One cameramen immediately went from a close-up zoom to a very, very wide shot.  We can't see a driver roasting to death, after all... and it was quite possible that that could have happened.  It didn't, thankfully.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Hamilton.  20th to 3rd, thus limiting the points gain of his championship rival?  Good job, that.

:  Williams.  Bottas' 2nd place moved them into third place ahead of Ferrari in the Constructor's championship.  Who'd'a thunk it?

*MOMENT OF THE RACE: HWMNBN vs 4Time.  Took a less-than-stellar race and made it must-see.

No quotes of the race this week.

This weekend is the Hungarian Grand Prix, our least-favorite race on the calendar.  I'm not even going to bother with the track map; here's the TV times:
Practice 2: 1030a - 12n, tape delay on NBCSN
Quals: 7a - 830a, live on NBCSN
Grand Prix of Hungary: 630a - 9a, live on CNBC

We'll be there. You do the same, 'k?  K. 

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July 07, 2014

F1 Update!: Great Britain 2014

Clouds in the sky warned that we might get weather at Silverstone today, which would just make the race completely bugnutty.  Would that be enough, however, to stop the charge of Mercedes' Nico Rosberg from pole?  Or would 4Time Vettel have enough in pocket to slap the Silver Arrow off path?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2014 Grand Prix of Great Britain!

*LIGHTS OUT!  WHOOPS...:  Right off the bat, we knew it wasn't going to be much of a day for 4Time Vettel, as his Red Bull had a truly awful start, falling from second to fifth in the blink of an eye.  Ominously for everybody, the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton jumped from sixth to fourth almost immediately, opening up the prospect of Hamilton chasing Rosberg for the lead... just like just about every other race this season.  But then Kimi Raikkonnen played his hand.  Starting 20th, he knew he had to make up as many places as possible as early as possible if he was going to earn any points for this race.  Unfortunately, he ran wide at Turn 5, a place with a huge expanse of asphalt runoff for safety.  Knowing this, the Finn just kept his foot down as he returned to the circuit.  Good for him, except for one problem: he misjudged where he was coming back and wound up bumping over a dirt track, sending the rear of his car into the air and, apparently, breaking his suspension at the same time.  When all four tires hit the tarmac, it immediately speared off to the right, slamming head-on into a metal barrier and rebounding back across the track.  At this point, Felipe Massa  came upon the accident.  Screened by the car ahead of him, he only saw the ruined Ferrari at the last moment.  He still had the presence of mind to throw his car into a skid so he hit Raikkonnen a glancing blow instead of running headlong into the ruined Ferrari.  Off to one side, Marussia's Max Chilton had a frighteningly close call as one of the Ferrari's wheels caromed off his car about a foot or so from the cockpit and the driver's head.  Raikkonnen got out of the car, visibly limping from what turned out to be an severe ankle bruise.  His impact with the barrier was measured at 47Gs, and the barrier needed to be replaced as a result.  This brought out the Red Flag, bringing the race to a halt for an hour.

*AND AGAIN: Once the race restarted, it was business as usual for the Mercedes boys.  Rosberg pulled away from the McLaren of Jenson Button in 2nd, while Hamilton blew past Button's teammate Kevin Magnusson for third.  It took only a couple more laps for Hamilton to dispose of Button and set off in pursuit of his teammate.  In the process of dealing with each other, the two Merc drivers managed to open up enough of a lead that they both pitted and resumed without losing any positions.  As the two were on different tire strategies, it looked like we were in for an exciting finish between two evenly balanced drivers.  Until...

*BOOM GOES THE GEARBOX:  Lap 28 or so, when Hamilton swept by a slowing Rosberg, who had lost the ability to shift out of sixth gear.  Rosberg ended up parking behind a barrier, out of the race.  Nobody came close to catching Hamilton, who finished a full 30 seconds ahead of the second place car of Valtteri Bottas.

: Which didn't mean that the rest of the race was dull.  Ferrari's HWMNBN and Red Bull's 4Time Vettel got into a multi-lap scrap with both drivers pulling off incredible passes at the most unexpected times, fighting wheel-to-wheel for a dozen rounds of the circuit... and each complaining about the other's driving style repeatedly.  In fact, it got so silly the two gave the term "playground argument" a bad name.  Still, it was definitely the highpoint of an otherwise not so great second half.  All of it over 5th place, which Vettel eventually took.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Valtteri Bottas started 14th, a position unlikely to turn into much of a result.  Instead, the surging Williams driver scored his second podium in a row, and the second step to boot.  Next race?

*TEAM OF THE RACE: Red Bull.  4Time finished 5th, Mr Smiley Ricciardo was on the podium, which makes it look like the team might just have turned a corner maybe.  Or maybe not.  Either way, it looked good for them.


We're lucky it wasn't particularly bad.  20 years ago, Raikkonnen was probably dead. 


"Screw Rosberg.  I win." - Lewis Hamilton

"That was good fun!" - Valtteri Bottas (note: real quote)

"Ow!  I feel good!" - Daniel Ricciardo (note: real quote)

"Sorry, Dad, I couldn't swing it for you." - Jenson Button

"whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine" - 4Time Vettel (note: real quote)

"moaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnn" - HWMNBN (note: real quote)

Next race is in Germany, and already the Brit Hamilton is throwing barbs at his German teammate Rosberg: "He's not a real German, he is German-Finnish-Monaco-esque-whatever."

Dude, really? 

See you then!

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