March 20, 2017

F1 on NBCSN: Australia 2017

Oh, hey!  Hiya, thanks for droppin' by!  What can I do you for this fine day?  F1?  What, is it that time already?  Okay, gimme half a second, be right back.  Gotta get dressed...

Yes, much better.  Hello there my loyal and true!  We are mere days from the start of the 2017 season of Formula 1, and there's been a lot of changes made everywhere!  The cars are different, the tires are different, the engine rules are different, the grid is different... heck, even the overall management of F1 is different!  It's been a busy offseason, but one thing hasn't changed: if it's the first race, it must be Australia!  Here's the track map:

Yep, no changes there... still the same mix of fast and slow, straight and curvy (but not too curvy) that's proven to be the perfect debut track for a new car.  The circuit provides a little bit of everything to the teams, the drivers, the car... it's challenging without being abusive, tough but not overly hard.  Which is not to say it won't bite your face off if you give it half a chance... just ask Fernando Alonso about that.  The walls are close, except at the end of straights, but the track is wide.  You can bounce off them, but you really have to work at it.  All in all, a better place to start the season probably doesn't exist. 

And as always, the good fellows of the Legendary Announce Team will be bringing us their lovely job of coverage.  However, since it's the first race of the year, there's some extras thrown into the mix!  Let's have a look, shall we?
Practice 1: 11pm - 12mid, tape delay on NBCSN
Practice 2: 12mid - 2am, live on NBCSN
Quals: 1am - 3am, live on NBCSN
2017 Grand Prix of Australia: 12mid - 230am, live on NBCSN

All time are Pond Central, add or subtract as needed for your local time.

Now then.  I intend to have one post covering the cars on Tuesday, and another covering the assorted rules changes and et cetera on Wednesday.  Perfect way to lead into the weekend, dontchathink?  We all cool with those plans?  Yeah?  Excellent!  Then we will see you here tomorrow for more F1 stuff!

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February 21, 2017

F1 Pr0n: First Look

Okay friends, here's the deal.  The first of the 2017 F1 cars rolled out today, with Sauber and Renault going all jamonit and stuff.  Normally this would be cause for celebrations and my calling for the finest of meats and cheeses.  But not tonight, for tonight my knee hurts, my head hurts, I'm stupidly tired, and work is bad.

Which doesn't mean I'm going to leave y'all empty-handed.  Oh no, no indeed, because the cars look bloody wonderful this year thanks to the new aero rules.  Wide tires, every wing swept like a late '60s jet fighter, a return to the low wide rear wing... the cars look like Matchbox designed 'em.  And before you ask, yes, this is a great thing!  So while I go and get myself out of this funk*, here's a picture of the new Sauber C36!

I need both a cigarette and a cold shower.  Maybe at the same time.

* That Parliament video was actually shot during a Red Bull design meeting.

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February 06, 2017

F1 News: To The Manor Born

Manor F1, the last of the four "Class of 2010" teams, has pulled down the garage doors for the last time.  The cash-strapped team, running on a shoestring and a prayer for the past couple of years, has been desperately looking for a buyer since the end of the 2016 season.  There was no white knight to be found, and the active staff was apparently let go on the last day of January.  Interestingly, while the team is gone, the company that holds Manor's rights to race in F1 is still alive.  In theory, they could field a team or sell the rights off to another (approved) race group.  In practice, it's a moot point as there currently aren't any approved applicants out there.

Manor lasted for seven seasons, scoring a total of three points: two in 2014 and 2016.  Sadly, the team had two of its drivers suffer major head injuries and pass away: Maria DeVillota during testing and Jules Bianchi during the 2014 Grand Prix of Japan.  This team was supposed to be the one that changed how F1 cars were designed; under the Virgin F1 banner, the VR01 and MVR02 chassis were created and tested solely via computer.  No wind tunnel tests were needed, they said.  Computational Fluid Dynamic testing dominated the designs for the first four years, with the best result being a freak 13th place at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix after many cars retired from that race.  The next design, the MR03 in 2014 and the MR03b in 2015, showed some promise with a 9th place finish at Monaco in 2014.  But then money issues reared their ugly head and 2016s MRT05 was a legitimate disappointment; it scored but a single point despite running the dominating Mercedes engine.  This failure put the team 11th for the season, where they received no championship payout from the FIA and ultimately doomed the team.

In the end, it was hard not to root for Manor.  They legitimately tried very hard to make a go of it and were obviously quite devoted racers.  They outlasted HRT and Lotus/Caterham (and USF1, but that's another story) by a few years... with a bit of luck, they could have become as much a fixture on the grid as any team.  In a few years, people will be looking back at their final car and realize just how gorgeous it was.

Pre-season rollouts are just a couple of weeks away.  Sadly, Manor will not be one of them.

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January 24, 2017

In Formula 1, "Retirement" Means Never Having To Say "I'm Sorry." (UPDATED)

So!  Formula 1 stuff, huh?  Believe it or not, yeppers!  There's been some important news bit percolating up from the coffeepot that is winter break.

First up, remember that whole Nico Rosberg wins the Driver's Championship, then retired thing?  Well, he's still retired.  Mercedes, trying to get the best driver they could to take over his seat, nabbed Valterri Bottas from Williams.  Helluva pickup that, and short of signing someone like Fernando Alonso, probably the best pick they could have made.  But that left one loose end floating about: who was going to fill the seat at Williams vacated by Bottas?  The team couldn't just pick up a kid, because they've already got one in Spear Saunter Lance Stroll, who was filling the seat left vacant by the retirement of Felipe Not Nasr Massa.  So who to pick up?  I hear Jenson Button was available... heh.  No, no, he's taking a year off.  Really, Williams was in a quandry.  Except for drivers like Esteban! or Pastor Maldodo, there wasn't much left on the F1 Driver's Tree.  And then, in a little English town called Wantage just east of Swindon, a small dark man stepped off the Stagecoach Lines bus from Oxford via Faringdon.  He then strolled two or three miles up the A338, past Simply Potty, a charming little pottery shop, then steering clear of the local Vauxhall dealer, he eventually made his way to an unprepossessing roundabout, seemingly in the middle of a field.  From there, he walked up a tree-lined drive to a security office in front of a large, modern-looking building of some sort.  "Hello," said the small dark man, "my name is Felipe Not Retired Massa.  I hear you are looking for a F1 driver, yes?"  Retiring for two months... that's gotta be a record of some sort.

In other retirement news, this one is just beginning to shake out, but it looks like Bernie Ecclestone, longtime CEO and puppetmaster of Formula 1, has been gently edged out of the picture by the incoming Liberty Media Group, the new owner/operators of the sport.  In his place, Ross Brawn, last seen in F1 when he sold his BrawnF1 team to an incoming Mercedes team, has been named the Managing Director of Motor Sports.  The commercial side of Ecclestone's position has been taken by Sean Bratches, a former ESPN executive and arguably the most important figure in the adoption of HD television in the US.  So the little troll is finally, finally gone.  He was probably the most important figure in F1 history, but jeez, enough with him already.

Two months until Melbourne!

UPDATE: So GD asks in comments just what effect Ecclestone's departure will mean to F1 in the short run.  First, I expect that the United States is going to enjoy a Formula 1 Renaissance of sorts.  The Eccletroll made it quite clear that F1 didn't need the United States and the repeated failures here proved that point (in his mind, at least).  That the "failures" came from his lack of interest in promoting anything here in the States would never cross his mind.  Liberty Media is actually an American company, and F1's new CEO, Chase Carey of the Splendid Mustache, is on record saying that he believes the US is an untapped goldmine for F1.

The other near-term thing that'll happen is that we'll see F1 become huge on the web.  The one thing Bernie never "got" was how important the internet is.  As a result, you won't find legal streams of a race or practice anywhere but NBCSN here in America... F1's own website doesn't even have streaming.  There is no legal way to watch a race except through your home provider's network... and NBCSN's feed is fair to awful, usually.  Much the same is true in Europe.  It's actually very hard to find much in the way of highlights on Youtube, and most of them are official clips.  Those that aren't are either trackside shots, stolen from the Lithuanian broadcast, or on-screen-mirrored and shrunken in quality.  The key word in the new company's name is "MEDIA".  It wouldn't surprise me at all if in the next year or two there's either an official online subscription service for the season, or a PPV-like arrangement for a race weekend.

Longer term, I expect that we'll see a reduction in races at places like Baku or Bahrain... tracks that exist only because people were willing to throw cash at Bernie and have no racing heritage at all.  Along that same vein, places like Silverstone or Monza will not have to deal with the annual jabs from Bernie, about how if they can't pony up the doubloons, F1 won't race there anymore.  Which is like saying baseball won't play at Fenway or Wrigley.  A lot of badmouthing of teams, drivers, and tracks spewed from Bernie, and having that go away is worth the price of admission alone.

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January 11, 2017

Ten Weeks To Go

Two and a half months to Australia and the start of the 2017 F1 season.  Of course we'll all anticipatory and stuff, but there are others who feel somewhat more... invested, shall we say?

Ten weeks to go.  Ten long weeks to go.  For some, ten VERY long weeks to go.

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December 26, 2016

A Merc Christmas

I just found this... a little late, but still fresh as it were:

Wacky Mercedes... who'da thunk it?

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December 02, 2016

Nico Rosberg Wins Championship, Retires

Well, that's something of a surprise headline!

Nico Rosberg, 11-year veteran of Formula 1 and the new Driver's Champion, announced his retirement today.  In his announcement, he says that the one single goal he had was to win the F1 championship, and now that he's done that it's time to be a family man.  Apparently it was quite the hard struggle for Rosberg to win this year, and his wife and young daughter had some strain involved as well.  If that's really the reason, it's admirable of him to step aside, to put family ahead of career.

It's certainly a good time for him to step away.  Not everybody gets to go out on top of one's profession.  Unsurprisingly, there are already trolls and other vermin online who are saying that he's retiring because he knows that Hamilton deserved the championship this year, that it was all a set-up, blah-blah-blah.  And y'know what?  They may be right... he probably isn't the best Mercedes driver.  Lewis Hamilton probably is better at F1 racing than he is.

But so what?  F1 has never just been about the driver.  The car plays a huge part in the game, and so does luck.  Rosberg had fewer mechanical failures that cost him than Lewis did, and that made all the difference.  It's racing, it happens.  And it's hardly like Rosberg is dead weight on-track.  To be sure, he still not as good as Hamilton, but he's better than he was in 2014 or 2015.  He's always been one-lap-fast, but he improved his race pace immensely.  Obviously, since he won the championship.  Reportedly, he's one of the best drivers in providing useful feedback on a car's performance too... which makes a huge difference.

In the end, there will always be some... I hesitate to call them fans... that will say that he was lucky to win this championship.  Which is ironic, because people used to say that he was lucky to get a drive in Formula 1 in the first place, that it was all because of his father, 1982 Driver's Champion Keke Rosberg.  One may "luck into" a drive in F1, particularly if you have a lot of money and don't mind driving for Manor, but you don't luck into a championship.

Good for him.  The best time to leave is when you've got it all.

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November 26, 2016

F1 Quals: Abu Dhabi 2016

With tomorrow's race deciding all the marbles, its down to just two... Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.  Rosberg has the points advantage, and knows that as long as he's on the podium, he wins no matter what Hamilton does.  What does Hamilton have going for him?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2016 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:39.487 1:39.382 1:38.755
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:40.511 1:39.490 1:39.058
3 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:41.002 1:40.429 1:39.589
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:40.338 1:39.629 1:39.604
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:40.341 1:40.034 1:39.661
6 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:40.424 1:39.903 1:39.818
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:41.000 1:40.709 1:40.501
8 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:40.864 1:40.743 1:40.519
9 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:41.616 1:41.044 1:41.106
10 Felipe Retiring Massa Williams Mercedes 1:41.157 1:40.858 1:41.213
11 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:41.192 1:41.084
12 JensonRetiring  Button McLaren Honda 1:41.158 1:41.272
13 Esteban! Haas Ferrari 1:41.639 1:41.480
14 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:41.467 1:41.564
15 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:41.775 1:41.820
16 Pascal's Wehrlein MRT Mercedes 1:41.886 1:41.995
17 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:42.003

18 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:42.142

19 Felipe Not Massa Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:42.247

20 False Esteban Ocon MRT Mercedes 1:42.286

21 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:42.393

22 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:42.637

Right, he's got pole.  That's not an insubstantial thing around a track that's relatively difficult to pass upon.  But in many ways, it doesn't matter what Hamilton does.  He could win by 95 seconds over the next closest driver, and as long as Rosberg is third he wins the championship.

So who's the pressure on?  I'm leaning towards Rosberg.  He knows his destiny is in his own hands.  If he screws it up, it's all on him.  I almost wonder if he'll be driving nervous, and thereby making everything worse for him...

Race is tomorrow morning, we'll find out how things work out then.  See ya soon!

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November 23, 2016

F1 on TV: Abu Dhabi 2016

Instead of clicking "save" on the original version of this post, which would then allow you, my readers, to actually read it, I instead clicked "view site."  While this gave me a wonderful view of my front page, it didn't do a thing for the post, which immediately disappeared into the same place that your other sock goes to.  As a result, you're getting this for a preview for the final Grand Prix of the season, the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi.

That's the track.  It's very safe, with lots and lots of run-off area.  It's also quite dull, with practically no place to pass in the first and third sectors, and since the second sector has both DRS zones, anybody who makes a pass in the first will likely be passed by the victim in the second. 

What the hell are those?
Still, this is what we've got.  It's the final race, and the deciding race for the driver's championship.  If Nico Rosberg finishes 4th or above, he wins no matter what Lewis Hamilton does.  If Hamilton finishes fifth or below, it doesn't matter what Rosberg does, he wins.  If Rosberg finishes ahead of Hamilton, he wins.  It looks grim for Hamilton, doesn't it?

No, really... what the hell is that?
The Legendary Announce Team's broadcast schedule is as follows:
Practice 2: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Quals:  7a - 830a  live on CNBC
Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi: 630a - 9a  live on NBCSN

All times Pond Central... but after all these years, you should know that by now.  Of course, the final F1Update! of the 2016 season will meander its way to you sometime after the race.  See ya then!

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November 12, 2016

F1 Quals: Brazil 2016

It was a gray day in São Paulo, breezy, cool, nothing like the weather there on Friday: sunny and hot.  But today brought with it something extra, something that made it perfect for F1 fans: rain.  It hadn't occurred yet, but there was threat of deluge hanging over the day's proceedings, and wouldn't *that* throw a spanner in the works?  Particularly with pole being potentially all-important in the race for the Championship between teammates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.  So, what happened?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2016 Grand Prix of Brazil:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:11.511 1:11.238 1:10.736
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:11.815 1:11.373 1:10.838
3 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:12.100 1:12.301 1:11.404
4 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:11.957 1:11.834 1:11.485
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:12.159 1:12.010 1:11.495
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:12.409 1:12.047 1:11.540
7 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:12.893 1:12.343 1:11.937
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:12.428 1:12.360 1:12.104
9 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:12.684 1:12.331 1:12.165
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:12.700 1:12.312 1:12.266
11 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:12.680 1:12.420
12 Esteban! Haas Ferrari 1:13.052 1:12.431
13 Felipe Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:12.432 1:12.521
14 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:13.071 1:12.726
15 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:12.950 1:12.920
16 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:13.259 1:13.258
17 JensonRetired Button McLaren Honda 1:13.276

18 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:13.410

19 Pascal's Wehrlein MRT Mercedes 1:13.427

20 False Esteban MRT Mercedes 1:13.432

21 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:13.623

22 FelipeNot Retired Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:13.681

While it was Hamilton who got the pole, it wasn't without effort.  In Q3, Rosberg was last on track, so Lewis had to go fast and hope for the best.  His second run improved his already blazingly quick time, and a good thing too, for Rosberg did the same... and beat Hamilton's old time.  As it was, the championship leader is about 1/10th of a second behind... and over a half-second faster than anybody else.  Hamilton must finish ahead of Rosberg for the championship to reach Abu Dhabi... any other result means Rosberg is the 2016 Driver's Champion.

Of other points of interest, I'm beginning to wonder if Jenson Button actually stopped driving a couple-three races ago.  When your teammate is easily making Q3 but you can't get out of Q1, well, sooner or later it ain't the car's fault.  Which is a damn shame, because I really like Button.  Ah well.

Race is tomorrow morning, at a decent time no less... F1U! afterwards.  See ya then, then!

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November 08, 2016

F1 on NBCSN: Brazil 2016

I have made a decision.  Other than this sentence, I am not going to mention how much I despise the circuit for the 2016 Grand Prix of Brazil, Interlagos, and have for quite some time.  Let's take a look at the track map, shall we?

This place has given us some remarkable season-ending races in the past, and a victory by Nico Rosberg this weekend wraps up the Drivers Championship (there are other scenarios where he closes the contest, but that's the most likely one).  One aspect of this race that should prove to be quite dramatic is that this is Felipe Retired Massa's last home race... almost literally in his case, as he grew up very close indeed to the circuit... since he's retiring at the end of the season.  An interesting career, his... so close to winning the Championship in 2008, then came the spring to the helmet the following year, and he never quite seemed the same afterwards.  Ah well.

The Legendary Announce Team will, of course, be bringing us their usual sterling coverage live all weekend!  Here's the broadcast lineup:
Practice 2: 10a - 1130a  live on NBCSN
Quals:   10a - 1130a  live on NBCSN
2016 Grand Prix of Brazil:  930a - 12n  live on NBCSN

Of course, all times are Pond Central, and make sure you doublecheck them... what with the timechange, I'm not even sure what my name is, let alone what the time race happens.  F1U! will come along sometime after the race, of course.  See ya then!

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October 29, 2016

F1 Quals: Mexico 2016

Beautiful day at Mexico City's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez today.  The sun was shining, bringing a lovely glow to the world's largest megaslum Neza-Chalco-Izta, located just a few miles away from the pretty park where the track is located.  The track was very hot, however, making the Super-soft tires start degrading even before they were mounted on the cars.  Nico Rosberg can actually clinch the World Championship this weekend, with a win and Lewis Hamilton finishing 10th or below.  To stand a chance to win, first you must qualify!  Here's the provisional grid for the 2016 Grand Prix of Mexico:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:19.447 1:19.137 1:18.704
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:19.996 1:19.761 1:18.958
3 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:19.874 1:18.972 1:19.054
4 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:19.713 1:19.553 1:19.133
5 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:20.599 1:19.769 1:19.330
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:19.554 1:19.936 1:19.376
7 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:19.865 1:19.385 1:19.381
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:20.338 1:19.958 1:19.551
9 FelipeRetired  Massa Williams Mercedes 1:20.423 1:20.151 1:20.032
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:20.457 1:20.169 1:20.378
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:20.552 1:20.282
12 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:20.308 1:20.287
13 JensonRetired Button McLaren Honda 1:21.333 1:20.673
14 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:21.254 1:21.131
15 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:21.062 1:21.536
16 Pascal's Wehrlein MRT Mercedes 1:21.363 1:21.785
17 Esteban! Haas Ferrari 1:21.401

18 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:21.454

19 FelipeNot Retired Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:21.692

20 False Esteban MRT Mercedes 1:21.881

21 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:21.916

The sharper-eyed (or the overly-detail-oriented) of you may have noticed that there are only 21, not 22, cars listed.  That's because in P3 Renault's Jolyon Palmer took his car for a looooong run over some curbing... that fit perfectly between the wheels.  He wound up with a crack in the driver's tub, forcing the team to build him a new car from the ground up.  He races at the stewards' whims.

Other than that, however?  Rosberg pulled second place out of his exhaust pipe, jumping up from fourth at the last moment.  I'm sure his teammate is happy for him.  The Ferraris only noise came from a radio call with Seb Vettel in Q2: "Are we safe (in our position)?"  "We are safe."  "Can I go for a wee?"  Just in case you wondered what F1 drivers do when... well... y'know.

Finally, Lettuce Grosjean looked to be ready to shank a b*tch after his car had another series of cascading failures in Q1.  He's never been thrilled with his brakes, and they've gotten even worse over the last few races... and today, his hybrid battery went south on him, too.  You know, the battery that's charged mostly by the brakes?

Race is in the afternoon.  See you sometime thereafter...

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October 26, 2016

F1 on TV: Mexico 2016

Last year's GP of Mexico was the surprise hit of the season, with the fantastically renovated circuit combining with a gazillion insane fans.  And now we're back!  Here's the track map for the 2016 Grand Prix of Mexico:

I'm really not in the mood for writing tonight, so I'll simply say the tire choices are Medium, Soft and Supersofts. 

The Legendary Announce Team's broadcast schedule is as follows:
Practice 2:  2p - 330p  live on NBCSN
Quals:  1p - 230p  live on NBCSN
2016 Grand Prix of Mexico:  130p - 4p  live on NBC

All times Pond Central, as per usual.  Please note the actual race is on NBC, the mother network.

Chin up, fellow fans.  F1U! will be along as usual.

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October 22, 2016

F1 Quals: United States 2016

Time is running low on the 2016 season, and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, reigning driver's champion, is in serious trouble.  His teammate has a 30+ point lead and holds all the cards.  Hamilton needs to win out and hope something goes wrong with his teammate, but to win out, you've basically got to be on pole when the light go out.  So how'd Quals for the 2016 United States Grand Prix work out?  Here's the provisional grid:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36.296 1:36.450 1:34.999
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:36.397 1:36.351 1:35.215
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:36.759 1:36.255 1:35.509
4 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:36.613 1:36.857 1:35.747
5 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:36.985 1:36.584 1:36.131
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:37.151 1:36.462 1:36.358
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:36.950 1:36.626 1:36.628
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:37.456 1:37.202 1:37.116
9 FelipeRetired  Massa Williams Mercedes 1:37.402 1:37.214 1:37.269
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:37.744 1:37.175 1:37.326
11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:37.345 1:37.353
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:37.913 1:37.417
13 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:37.844 1:37.480
14 Esteban! Haas Ferrari 1:38.053 1:37.773
15 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:38.084 1:37.935
16 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:38.040 1:39.356
17 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:38.308

18 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:38.317

19 Jenson Retired Button McLaren Honda 1:38.327

20 Pascal's Wehrlein MRT Mercedes 1:38.548

21 FelipeNot Retired Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:38.583

22 False Esteban MRT Mercedes 1:38.806

The two Merc drivers split the first two Qual sessions.  Perhaps importantly, Rosberg was fastest in the second session.  This is important because the top 10 have to start on the tires they used for their fastest lap in Q2... and unlike everybody else, the Mercs used the Soft tires while everybody else used the Supersofts.  So in theory, Rosberg will have the advantage in at least the first stint.

Beyond them, Two-by-Two is was the rule of the day with only a wayward Force India to break up the first eight slots symmetry.  Major disappointment for American team HaasF1, who were chasing gremlins all practice.  Maybe things will go better for the race tomorrow afternoon!  Look for it on NBC-the-mother-network, and sometime thereafter, F1U!

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October 19, 2016

F1 on TV: United States 2016

Y'all put your Stetsons and cowboy boots on, grab a handful of shootin' iron, jump in your pickup truck (RED TRUCK!) and drive your herd just southeast of central Texas to that lil' ol' town called Austin.  But be careful, there's gonna be a buncha furriners there, because the circus is in town... the Formula 1 Circus, that is!  C'mon down to the Circuit of the Americas, home of the United States Grand Prix!  Take a gander at the track map:

Today, tomorrow and forever, the best of the new circuits.  Blatantly stealing Borrowing the best concepts from other tracks around the world, COTA is just about everything you'd want from a FIA Class 1 circuit.  Plenty of run-off area surrounds the track itself while the facility has the world's only Emergency Room located at a race track to go along with the 5500 sq ft medical center (which is fully prepared to deal with exotic diseases like malaria and ebola.  Yes, really).  But best of all is what isn't going to be coming to Austin this year.

Yep, it was just last year that Hurricane Patricia hit the western coast of Mexico, then tracked up north.  That meant rain and lots of it: nearly a foot of rain in a couple of days, to the point the 2015 USGP nearly got rained out.  As it was, the whole weekend was borked up... just take a look at the goings-on on Saturday for a reminder of what it was like.

As is usual for a home race, the Legendary Announce Team will be on-site and bringing us coverage of every session during the weekend!  Here's a look at the broadcast schedule:
Practice 1: 10a - 1130a  live on NBCSN
Practice 2: 2p - 330p  live on NBCSN
Practice 3-Intermission-Quals: 1130a - 3p  live on NBCSN
2016 United States Grand Prix:  130p - 4p  live on NBC

All times are Pond Central, of course.  On a personal note, I tried to get Friday off from work, but because of a mandatory event I couldn't manage it.  I did manage to get the afternoon off though, so I'll be parked in the Official Comfy Chair of The Pond for P2!  Saturday and Sunday, of course, are givens.

So there we have it: the USGP!  I'm looking forward to this one, if for no other reason that it'll be the first time HaasF1 has been home.  Points would be nice, guys!

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October 14, 2016


I bumped into this picture the other day, thought it quite amazing how it shows forces at work on a F1 car.

Let's be perfectly clear about this: there is nothing wrong with this Mercedes.  Aerodynamics and G-forces alone have hucked the car over to the left.  The tires are doing their job of pretending to be shock absorbers.  The roll to the left is being mirrored on the right, picking the front right off the ground as the rear left compresses.  And underneath, the titanium skid plate is performing its secondary duty of a sparkler.

All and all, a truly remarkable shot.

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October 08, 2016

F1 Quals: Japan 2016

Well, that was fun!  Here's the provisional grid for the 2016 Grand Prix of Japan:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:31.858 1:30.714 1:30.647
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:32.218 1:31.129 1:30.660
3 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:31.674 1:31.406 1:30.949
4 Sebby Vettel Ferrari 1:31.659 1:31.227 1:31.028
5 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:32.487 1:31.489 1:31.178
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:32.538 1:31.719 1:31.240
7 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:32.682 1:32.237 1:31.961
8 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:32.458 1:32.176 1:31.961
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:32.448 1:32.200 1:32.142
10 Esteban! Haas Ferrari 1:32.620 1:32.155 1:32.547
11 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:32.383 1:32.315
12 Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:32.562 1:32.380
13 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:32.645 1:32.623
14 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:32.789 1:32.685
15 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:32.819 1:32.689
16 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:32.796 1:32.807
17 Retired Button McLaren Honda 1:32.851

18 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:33.023

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:33.222

20 Felipe Not Massa Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:33.332

21 False Esteban MRT Mercedes 1:33.353

22 Pascal's Wehrlein MRT Mercedes 1:33.561

Nico Rosberg beat his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to the line by .013 seconds.  On track, that works out to about 82 centimeters, or just a touch over 32 inches.  The Mercedes W07 Hybrid chassis is 197 inches long, as a reference... yeah, that's pretty close.  The video of the two lapping side-by-side is quite impressive.

Once again, we get two-by-two at the top of the grid: Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull.  Vettel has a three grid-spot penalty coming for his banzai charge at the start of the Malaysian GP, though.  It's amazing how the teams often break down that way.

The big news out of qualifying is the performance of Team Haas.  This is the first time they've gotten both cars into Q3 at once.  Sure, they didn't exactly cover themselves in glory in the session, but they were there.  You want evidence that the team is advancing as a race team?  There ya go.  The points at the start of the season were nice, but they were outclassed by the more experienced organizations fairly quickly.  Now they're starting to make gains on that front as well.  Nice to see.

The biggest disappointment had to be felt by McLaren-Honda.  After all, they're in Honda's home country, on the circuit owned and designed by Honda, and they've been coming to grips with their new engine all season.  And then they leave a mess on the carpet that even an Aismo wouldn't clean up.  That can't have gone over well at all.

So Rosberg gets the early advantage over Hamilton, on a track where such things are fairly important.  With the gap he has in points over his teammate, he's not going to be reluctant to muscle him around, either... if they both get knocked out by damage, well, that's just going to make the lead that much harder to cut down.  Not that Rosberg is going to do a Senna/Prost or anything, mind.

Race is late tonight/early tomorrow... I'll probably watch at least part of it live.  If anything important happens, I'll mention it here before the F1U!.  See ya later!

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October 04, 2016

F1 on NBCSN: Japan 2016

From Sepang International Circuit, the F1 Circus packs up, trundles over to the Kuala Lumpur (Koala Lumper!) International Airport, just across the street.  From there, it's a surprisingly long 9-1/2 hour flight to Chubu Centrair International Airport, located on a manmade island just off the coast of Tokoname, Aichi, Japan.  After that, it's a simple 90 minute drive to the location of this week's race, Suzuka International Racing Course, home of the 2016 Grand Prix of Japan!  Here's the track map for this, my favorite circuit on the F1 calendar:

Once a fearsome beast of a track, it has been tamed somewhat in recent years.  The legendary 130R was straightened a bit via a double-apex turn, Degner was made into two turns instead of one big sweeping bend, and the final chicane was first added, then moved closer to 130R.  Despite all this, Suzuka is still one of the premiere tracks in F1, and the only one with a figure-8 layout.  Not that there's many of those worldwide or anything.

It's also one of the favorites of the drivers.  Not just because of the feeling that you're actually going somewhere, something you don't get at the Tilkedromes, but because of the Japanese fans.  Only at Monza might you find a more passionate bunch, and no fans are more knowledgeable.  And if there's a Japanese driver in the field?  Bedlam.  And if by chance he ends up on the podium?  You get the 2012 post-race experience, with the entire crowd chanting Gandalf Kobayashi's name.  Thrilling stuff.

While it's a late night race, the start isn't so late, and we have the Legendary Announce Team to keep us awake!  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Practice 2: 1201a - 130a  live on NBCSN
Quals: 1a - 230a  live on NBCSN
2016 Grand Prix of Japan: 1130p - 2a  live on NBCSN

All times Pond Central of course, because Pond Central time is best time!  And sometime after the race, F1 Update! will be along with another thrilling and exciting writeup of the race (note: may not be thrilling or exciting).  Join us, won't you?

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October 01, 2016

F1 Quals: Malaysia 2016

A threat of rain hung in the air at steamy Sepang, the home of the Malaysian Grand Prix.  The heat and humidity actually claimed Red Bull driver Embryo Verstappen, with the young driver passing out after exiting his car at the end of Practice 1.  Of course, that's nothing in comparison to the heat Kevin Magnussen had to deal with.  It was still hot for Quals, but would the impending rain affect the starting lineup?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2016 Grand Prix of Malaysia:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.444 1:33.046 1:32.850
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:34.460 1:33.609 1:33.264
3 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:35.443 1:33.775 1:33.420
4 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:35.079 1:33.888 1:33.467
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:34.557 1:33.972 1:33.584
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:34.556 1:33.903 1:33.632
7 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:35.068 1:34.538 1:34.319
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:34.827 1:34.441 1:34.489
9 Retiring Button McLaren Honda 1:35.267 1:34.431 1:34.518
10 Retiring Massa Williams Mercedes 1:35.267 1:34.422 1:34.671
11 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:35.166 1:34.577
12 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:35.400 1:35.001
13 Esteban! Haas Ferrari 1:35.658 1:35.097
14 Torchy Magnussen Renault 1:35.593 1:35.277
15 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:35.695 1:35.369
16 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:35.605 1:35.374
17 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:35.816

18 FelipeNot Massa Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:35.949

19 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:35.999

20 False Esteban MRT Mercedes 1:36.451

21 Pascal's Wager MRT Mercedes 1:36.587

22 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:37.155

Fernando Alonso changed multiple pieces of his engine and the gearbox, giving him a 45 grid spot penalty before Quals began.  As you can imagine, he didn't exactly go all out in his efforts today. 

Other than that?  It's all pretty much by rote.  The Mercs are clowning the rest of the field, Red Bull actually looks pretty decent (but not that decent), Ferrari is grumpy, and there's a whole lot of two-by-two going on all the way down the grid.

I'd love to be more excited about the race, but boy, it's looking awfully familiar right about now.  There's a lot of complaining about the reprofiled final turn... it's universally hated... but other than that, there may not be a whole lot of excitement.

F1Update! coming sometime Sunday... it's an early race, after all... look forward to it, won't you?

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September 28, 2016

F1 on NBCSN: Malaysia 2016

It often rains in Sepang, home of the 2016 Grand Prix of Malaysia.  In the past, though, the track had been less than stellar at drainage.  So the circuit owners had the bright idea to redo pretty much the entire track.  Here's the map:

Mostly it looks the same.  There's been a lot of subtle changes to the way the surface has been angled reportedly, so water will flow off faster.  In doing this, many of the racing lines have probably changed.  For example, the final turn, Turn 15, now has a fairly substantial negative camber... the inside of the turn is higher than the outside... so what's the fastest way through now?  Nobody really knows, since F1 hasn't raced here since the resurfacing.  And that's the story for most of the circuit now: it looks familiar, but looks can be deceiving.  In truth, the place needed it; most of the braking zones were washboard-like from all the bumps that have formed over the years.  That just can't be good when you're charging into a turn at nigh-on 200mph.

Sadly, none of this will matter a hill of beans.  This track, where even the so-called "slow sections" are really quite fast, is tailor-made for Mercedes, which already has the best car on the grid.  As more teams give up on this season... both Renault and Haas have stated that they've stopped development of their current chassis to concentrate entirely on 2017... the Mercs will either stay "just" as good or get better by comparison.  Oh, great.

Well, can't say I didn't warn you.  Want to know what the Legendary Announce Team thinks about it?  Here's the broadcast schedule!
Practice 2: 1a - 230a  live on NBCSN
Quals: 4a - 530a  live on NBCSN
2016 Grand Prix of Malaysia: 1a - 4a?  live on NBCSN

The questionmark at the end-time of the actual race is because my information sources are silent as to whether the race begins at 1a, or if that's the pre-race coverage.   Check your local listings for times in your area.  Post no bills.  Burma Shave.

In other fairly important news, Formula 1 has new owners.  The Liberty Media Group recently purchased a controlling share of F1 from CVC Capital Partners, with the rest of the shares to come down the pipe later.  The deal is expected to be worth in the neighborhood of $4.5 billion.  Bernie Ecclestone will remain as F1's CEO, but Chase Carey's mustache will be the Chairman.  Please note the name of the company: Liberty Media.  They've already said that they're going to be concentrating on how F1 is seen and consumed, with particular attention being paid to the United States.  Expect advertising blitzes and at least one more race here in America sooner rather than later.  Perhaps the Grand Prix of Weehawken will resurface...

See ya soonish!

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