August 23, 2015

F1 Update: Belgium 2015

Before we get into the F1 stuff, please send good thoughts out to former F1 driver and current IndyCar racer Justin Wilson.  During today's race at Pocono, he was hit in the head by the nosecone of a wrecked car.  Airlifted to a nearby hospital, he is, as of 750pm, "unconscious and unresponsive" with a "traumatic brain injury."  I'm no doctor, but the replays looked bad.  Good luck, Justin...

UPDATE 8/24/15: Justin Wilson died in hospital today.  He leaves behind a wife and two children.

Clear skies at Spa today, an absolutely perfect day to go racing... which means nothing at this huge track in the Ardennes.  Rain can appear with no notice whatsoever here... and has!  Often!  During races, too!  So would anything get in the way of polesitter Lewis Hamilton's march to victory?  Would Seb Vettel and the resurgent Ferrari make a statement during the race?  Or would another team haul themselves up after the month-long summer break?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2015 Grand Prix of Belgium.

*RACE... NOT SO FAST!: As the formation lap came to an end, the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg was in some distress, clearly some problem with the power unit somewhere.  Once he came to a halt in his grid spot, the car decided that it had worked hard enough for the day and shut down.  This resulted in an aborted start, everybody went around on a second formation lap while Hulkenberg's car was put out of its misery and rolled away.  Then, as the field approached the grid for the second time, the call went out to Carlos Sainz in his Toro Rosso: "come to the pits, do not take your grid position."  It took some two laps to fix whatever ailed the car, but he eventually did participate... only to retire it on Lap 36.

*RACE:  When the lights officially went out, our polesitter did what he always does: ran away over the horizon, never to be seen again.  Behind him, things were made interesting by Nico Rosberg's less-than-stellar start which saw him shuffled back to around fifth place.  He would eventually make it back up to second, but it took a while.  For the most part, however, this was not a particularly exciting race.  While there was quite a bit of passing, almost all of it was due to the DRS being very effective down the Kemmel Straight.  You'd see the DRS open up and the trailing car would just blow past the car ahead (which is going 190-200mph) like it was someone's Toyota Camry.  That's not to say there were no passes that required effort... local boy Embryo Verstappen pulled off a couple of beauties, though ultimately settling for eighth, while Kid Kyvat earned a lovely fourth in his Red Bull.

*TIRE WHERE?:  Seb Vettel and his Ferrari clearly could not hold pace with the Mercedes duo today, but he was still good enough to have third place pretty much sewn up with just a couple of laps to go.  While under pressure from Lettuce Grosjean in a remarkably resurgent Lotus, a fight between a four-time world champion and someone nicknamed for a leafy green vegetable was only going to end one way.  That is, until the Ferrari's right-rear tire unzipped from outside to in, throwing chunks of rubber and tire carcass high into the now-cloudy skies.  The sidewalls remained more or less intact, which allowed the red car to stay on an even keel.. flashback to Friday's second practice, where Nico Rosberg had a right-rear tire failure due to damage.  In his case, the car wound up on the wheel rim, meaning he was essentially driving on the floor of the car.  This does horrible things to grip levels and sent him careening down the track totally out of control.  Luck alone kept Bad Things from happening in that particular instance.  Back to Sunday, and Vettel still had the ability to steer, just, but not the ability to race.  He fell to 12th, totally out of the points.

*PARTY LIKE IT'S 2013.  THEN CHECK YOUR WALLET LIKE IT'S 2015: Taking his place in third was the aforementioned Lettuce Grosjean's Lotus.  Two laps later, the likable Frenchman had brought the team their first podium finish since Grosjean finished the 2013 US Grand Prix in second place.  Shortly after the team finished celebrating, baliffs moved in on Sunday night and impounded the team's traveling equipment due to an ongoing legal dispute with former driver Charles ToothPic.


"We cannot believe just how disinterested we were in covering this race." - the F1U! crew.

Two weeks from now, the Circus reconvenes in the Church of Speed itself: Monza.  See you then.

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