March 30, 2014

F1 Update!: Malaysia 2014

A hot and humid day greeted the assembled F1 Circus as they formed up on the grid in Kuala Lumpur, with a low, dark sky overhead threatening to dump rain at any time.  In short, just another day in Malaysia!  Would polesitter Shiv Hamilton lead his Mercedes home for the win?  Would his teammate Nico Rosberg make it two in a row?  Or would the slightly surprising Hannibal Vettel get the first win of his title defense?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2014 Grand Prix of Malaysia!

*GO!:  Unlike last race, they only needed one try to get under way, and what a start it was for Mercedes.  Shiv Hamilton rocketed off the line, clearly untouchable, while Vettel's car seemingly infected by the dreaded Mark Webber Lousy Start© disease, was completely unable to hold back a charging Rosberg.  Nor could he keep his own teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, from jumping in front, something we never thought we'd see here at the F1U! Palatial Studios.  It would take a few laps for 4Time Vettel to take the position back from the junior member of the team, by which point it was clearly academic: unless there was a Mercedes breakdown, there was no stopping the Silver Arrows today.

*GOOD TO BAD TO WORSE TO ARE YOU KIDDING ME?:  For Ricciardo, the day was shaping up to be continued proof that he could hang with his more highly decorated teammate.  While he'd surrendered third place to 4Time, the Australian had hung on his tail, right up until the final round of pitstops.  It was on Lap 41, though, that everything went south.  Ricciardo stopped for tires, an evolution that went as smoothly as always until he was released back into the pit lane... it seems that the man on the front-left tire had not yet finished bolting it onto the car when the Aussie drove away.  While he was quickly told to stop, he had managed to make it a good distance down the lane... and while there are hundreds of ways to be penalized during a race, there are really very few that will get you disqualified from a race.  One of those, though, is reversing in the pit lane.  So he had to sit there until the Red Bull mechanics could run down to where he was, then push him back to the pit stall, complete the act of bolting on the tire, then let him go again.  In the process, he was lapped.  From 4th place to nowhere in a heartbreaking minute.  And then it got worse.  A lap after the fiasco, one of the mounting pylons on his front wing broke, dropping the wing to the ground and causing one of the endplates to begin digging a groove trench in the tire.  Right back into the pits he went for new tires and a new nose, exiting some two or three laps down.  Then, as if all of that wasn't enough, a lap later he got the news that he had been given a 10 second stop/go penalty for the earlier unsafe release into the pits.  By the time THAT had been served, he was four laps down and would retire the car a few laps later.  Not the luckiest of racers, our boy Daniel.  Oh, and then the FIA handed him a 10-grid spot penalty for the next race as well.

*RACE END:  Hamilton was dominating the race so totally that Mercedes was actually telling him to "preserve the engine" around the half-way point.  This meant that the lead to his teammate was only 17 seconds when the Grand Prix ended.  Similarly, Rosberg had been able to dial his settings back as well, and still beat Vettel to the line by a good seven seconds.  What's more telling, however, is the fact that only eight cars were on the lead lap when the race ended.  That's a disturbing statistic, and one that could suggest a huge gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" is brewing.  For now, however, the new F1 is proving to be quite refreshing: it wasn't the most fabulous of races, but at no time were you bored.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Lewis Hamilton.  The Shiv recovered nicely from his car failure at Australia, didn't he? At this point, we want to note that the average driver loses roughly 7lbs during a race at Malaysia, yet Hamilton was bouncing around like he'd just driven down to the corner shop after the race.  Amazing.

*TEAM OF THE RACE
: The first Mercedes 1-2 finish since 1955, and they're now leading the Constructor's Championship with 68 points.  Red Bull has 15.  Yes, we relished saying that.

*MOMENT OF THE RACE:  For most of his career, Felipe Massa has been told to pull aside and let his teammate pass.  It came to a head a couple of years ago when he was told "Fernando is faster than you."  Immediately afterwards, it seemed like the "fighting spirit" had gone out of him, and he was never the same driver again.  Signing with Williams this year, it seemed unlikely that he'd be put into a similar situation again.  That lasted all of two races.  Late in the race, he'd been dueling with the McLaren of Jenson Button for 6th place, never quite seeming to be able to close up to really challenge the Brit.  Meanwhile, Valterri Bottas, his Williams teammate, had fresher tires and was looking a bit racier on the day.  The inevitable occurred, and the Williams pit wall called out "Felipe, Valterri is faster than you."  They even used the same sentence.  And Massa refused to pull over.  A second call went out, explaining the tire situation.  One could imagine the diminutive Brazilian replying with a "come get some" hand gesture.  To his credit, he did keep Bottas behind for the rest of the race, but at what price his standing with the team?  This could prove to be very important down the road...

*SELECTED DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE:


"I am the greatest in all the land!  Bring me your finest meats and cheeses!" - Lewis Hamilton

"Man, you're creepy lookin'." - Nico Rosberg (to podium interviewer Benedict Cumberbatch)

"I want those Mercedes stopped, and I want them stopped now." - 4Time Vettel

"The car didn't explode, and Raikkonen sucked.  It was a good weekend." - HWMNBN

"Everything is awesome!" - Nico Hulkenberg, speaking for Force India

"Sunuvabeetch, it was hot out there today." - Jenson Button, triathlete

"Oh, hell naw." - Felipe Massa

"WTF, man?" - Valterri Bottas

"From second to suck." - Kevin Magnussen

"Oooh, grid girls... I feel all tingly." - Kid Kvyat

That's it from Malaysia, but no time for the teams to rest on their laurels, for now we're off to Bahrain next weekend.  Yes, Bahrain.  Still.

See you then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:26 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
Post contains 1143 words, total size 8 kb.

1 I surely, truly, hope that Force India turns out to be one of the "Haves"...

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 30, 2014 10:37 PM (+rSRq)

2 It's extremely good for them that Hulk put together the race he did. They didn't manage much in Melbourne and it looked like they were going to be eclipsed by a resurgent Williams, but if they can put a car in front of both McLarens, there's obviously good performance in it.

The announcing team talked a little about the engine performance... basically speculated that the Renault drivers weren't using their full RPM because of reliability concerns.

It was a happy race, so long as your name isn't Riccardo. Man, when his wing came unglued, the endplate carved into that tire like it was on a lathe. (Which it pretty much was...) He's lucky to have brought that one back in at all.

Posted by: Avatar at March 31, 2014 01:12 AM (zJsIy)

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