September 21, 2014

Mini-F1Update!: Singapore 2014

Clear night skies accompanied by oppressive heat and humidity greeted the Thundering Herd as they made their way to the grid, but all was not well for everybody.  What fate befell the drivers, and how did it affect the world driver's championship?  THIS is your Mini-F1Update! for the 2014 Grand Prix of Singapore!

*(NOT QUITE) THE RACE:  Right off the bat, the weather drove a stake through the heart of Gandalf Kobayashi's Caterham steed, a power failure accompanied by smoke and stench preventing him from ever making it to the starting grid.  Meanwhile, Championship points leader Nico Rosberg was experiencing a nightmare of his own.  As he sat there on the pre-recon grid, his electrical system failed.  A switch of steering wheels failed to reboot the car, so with 10 minutes to go before roll-off a swarm of mechanics descended upon his cockpit.  To no avail; when the field headed around, his Mercedes sat sullenly in its grid position, waiting for everybody to go past before it got pushed to the pit lane.  Eventually the mechanics got the bare minimum functional... the car started, Rosberg could shift gears, but DRS and the KERS boost were dead.  He would start from the pit lane, struggle to catch the backmarkers, and retire when it came time for the first pit stops when it wouldn't restart.

*THE RACE:  After all that drama, polesitter Lewis Hamilton, Rosberg's teammate and sitting second in Championship race, had to be grinning from ear to ear.  He had to be the favorite today before Rosberg's problems, now it was a gimme.  Except when the lights went out, it was clear that he wasn't going to have it all his way.  Ferrari's HWMNBN jumped from 5th to 2nd in one turn,  then relinquishing the position to Red Bull's Seb Vettel by Turn 3... and neither of them were in a mood to let the Mercedes run away and hide.

*SAFETY CAR:  On Lap 30, Hamilton had six second lead over HWMNBN.  But then the inevitable occurred: a safety car came out to clean up debris after a surprisingly messy loss of a front wing, scattering carbon fiber shards hither and yon.  It took nearly 20 minutes and seven laps for the clean-up to complete, setting up an interesting situation.  Hamilton at this moment was on barely-used super-soft tires, while his three immediate challengers (HWMNBN, Vettel, and Daniel Ricciardio) were on softs.  The good news for Hamilton was that he would be about two full seconds per lap faster than his opponents.  There were two bits of bad news: 1) the super-softs wouldn't last the rest of the race, and B) he had to stop, by rule, to put on the soft tires anyway.  So to have a chance to pit without losing the lead, he needed to open up a thirty second lead.

*THERE WE GO:   On Lap 37, the race resumed.  By Lap 45, the Merc driver had a 17 second lead over Vettel, who had leapfrogged HWMNBN in the pits.  On Lap 51, he had a 25 second lead, but the super-softs were failing; a radio call to the pit wall made his concern clear as he pointed out wear lines appearing on his rear tires.  Reluctantly, he dove into the pits for a 2.9second stop.  Had it been enough?

*THE END:  It wasn't.  When he returned to the track, he was in second place behind Vettel and with Ricciardio close behind.  But it was Lap 53 of 61, and Hamilton was on new rubber.  By Lap 55 he had retaken the lead, and began to open the gap up once again.  Once the race bumped up against the two hour time limit, ending the contest a lap early, Hamilton had a thirteen second lead again.  He led Vettel and Ricciardio home ahead of HWMNBN, taking the win and the lead in the World Driver's Championship in the process.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Jules Vergne, Toro Rosso.  Huh?  We didn't even mention him during the recap, but here we are.  Vergne, driving for his F1 life, started the race in 12th and during the course of the contest suffered two five-second penalties for leaving the track limits.  Despite this, he still managed to bring his Toro Rosso up through the field to finish in sixth place.  If someone like HWMNBN or Rosberg had done this, eh, whatever, it's the car.  You can't say that about the Toro Rosso.  Great job, Vergne!

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Red Bull.  2-3 on the podium, and if they get a break or two, they still have a shot at the Constructor's Championship to boot.

*MOMENT OF THE RACE:  This doesn't always have to be important to the final outcome.  This time, it was when a Williams mechanic decided to slap a co-worker.  How extraordinary.  The team is claiming it was "banter," but if we "bantered" like that here at F1U! HQ, there'd be lawsuits.

*SELECTED DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE:

"Ha ha ha ah ah ahahahah hahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahaaha!" - Lewis Hamilton

"Mmm... cold champagne!" - 4Time Vettel

"My brakes were acting up, KERS and DRS were unhappy, and I still finish third?  Hooly Dooly!" - Daniel Ricciardio

"Damn Safety Car came out at just the wrong time... but then, I shouldn't complain, should I?" - HWMNBN

"Huh.  Fernando really was faster than me." - Felipe Massa

That's enough for today.  Our next race will be in two weeks, at Suzuka Japan!  We'll see you then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:21 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
Post contains 916 words, total size 6 kb.

1 Vergne did well indeed. His teammate, the teenage mutant Kvyat finished 14 out of 17.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at September 21, 2014 09:04 PM (RqRa5)

2 That was a perfectly acceptable helmet-donk by football standards.

Posted by: Avatar at September 22, 2014 05:26 AM (ZeBdf)

3 What happened to Bottas at the end?  My DVR cut out at lap 57 and he was still in 6th  behind Massa.

Posted by: ReallyBored at September 22, 2014 05:15 PM (n3V1X)

4 His tires died after 37 laps of abuse.  Everybody who passed him in the last few laps were either on new super-softs or on soft tires with 10 fewer laps on them.

Posted by: Wonderduck at September 22, 2014 05:32 PM (BCjxQ)

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