November 25, 2017

F1 Quals: Abu Dhabi 2017

I'm a little pressed for time, but I didn't want to leave y'all hanging!  Here's the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi:


Different graphical format today... the usual grid layout isn't copying correctly, and Firefoxy doesn't work today for some reason.  So instead you get a picture!  Sorry... just imagine the nicknames, 'k? 

Yup, Bottas is a full half-second ahead of the third place sitting Seb Vettel.  As predicted, the weather was perfect for the Silver cars, and thus one of the Mercs was fastest in all three phases of Quals.  It was Bottas that was the fastest when it mattered, though, setting a new track record in the process.  Unsurprisingly, Hamilton is now saying that he hopes we don't "have a train" in the race... I suspect he'd be saying "yes, please, choo-choo" if he was on pole, though.

So we're all set for the 2017 finale, tomorrow morning is looming soon.  We'll see ya then, then!

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November 22, 2017

F1 on NBCSN: Abu Dhabi 2017

So this is it.  Race #20 of 20.  The last of the season.  The last race to be covered by NBCSN and the Legendary Announce Team.  The last time we'll see F1 cars without an ugly piece of structure over the cockpit.  Perhaps the last time we'll see the well-known F1 logo.  The last race of Felipe Massa's career... again.  And the last weekend you'll have to listen to me whine moan and complain about Formula 1 for the season.  Here's the track map for the 2017 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi:


I've said it before, I'll say it again probably: it looks like a great track to drive on.  It's proven, however, to be not so much of a great place for a race.  Like so many Tilkedromes, of course.  Maybe now that Liberty Media owns F1 (essentially) someone else will get a chance to design a race course?  Please?

Weather should be dry and hot, perfect for the Mercs, assuming they're not bolting 2018 test pieces onto their car for race experience.  Even then, they'll probably run away and hide.  But who knows?  Not I, for I am just a humble fan.

Who will be sad when the race is over, for it means that Steve Matchett and David Hobbs will no longer be providing coverage for Formula 1, for the first time since I became a fan in the modern era... 2004.  Those two, along with The Varsha and yes, even Leigh Diffey, have been the voice of F1 for me for 13 years.  But ESPN is going to go with the international feed and announcers next year, rendering the LAT mute... and moot.  So here, for the final time, is the broadcast schedule for the Legendary Announce Team:
Friday
Practice 2: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Sunday
2017 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi: 630a - 9a  live on NBCSN

All times Pond Central.  Accept no substitutes.  Coverage of Quals will likely be delayed as Saturday is when I'm going to the Old Home Pond for the Thanksgiving  meal.  

So there we go.  Let's all get ready, shall we?

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November 11, 2017

F1 Quals: Brazil 2017

Well, quals hasn't aired yet here, but I've seen the important bits!  Here's the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Brazil:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:09.452 1:08.638 1:08.322
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:09.643 1:08.494 1:08.360
3 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:09.405 1:09.116 1:08.538
4 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:09.820 1:09.050 1:08.925
5 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:09.828 1:09.533 1:09.330
6 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:10.145 1:09.760 1:09.598
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:10.172 1:09.593 1:09.617
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:10.078 1:09.726 1:09.703
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:10.227 1:09.768 1:09.805
10 Felipe Retire Already Williams Mercedes 1:09.789 1:09.612 1:09.841
11 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:10.168 1:09.830
12 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:10.148 1:09.879
13 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:10.286 1:10.116
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:10.521 1:10.154
15 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:10.625 DNS
16 Herelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:10.678

17 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso 1:10.686

18 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:10.776

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:10.875

NC Lewis Hamilton Who? Mercedes DNF


Hamilton threw his car into the barriers after just a few minutes of Q1 had elapsed, ending his day early.  He later said that the crash "was very unusual" for him.  Well, yeah.  Kinda.  I'll say this for the newly-minted four-time WC, his wreck had style.  He went into Turn 7, the rear of the car broke free, and it looked for all the world that he was drifting the Merc through the turn intentionally.  That is, right up until the moment it went rocketing off through the kittylitter and buried itself in the tire barrier.  There were some anxious moments as Hamilton didn't reply right away to his pitwall asking if he was okay but eventually he confirmed no injury.  He did look at the back of the car for a while before walking off... clearly he thought something broke back there.

Other than that, though?  It appears the session wasn't all that exciting.  Sure, Bottas took pole at the very last moment from Vettel, but... well.  There are a LOT of penalties to be applied before the start tomorrow... Smiley Ricciardo gets a 10-spot, for example... so that'll jumble things up a little more for tomorrow's race.  Weather is supposed to be warm and dry... darn it.

So!  Race in the morning then!  Enjoy enjoy enjoy!

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November 08, 2017

F1 on Somewhere or Other: Brazil 2017

Brazil.  Not my favorite race.  Oh, I don't hate it the way I hate Hungary... it's much deeper, this distaste I have for Grand Prix of Brazil.  The Hungarian Grand Prix, I just dislike the track.  Brazil?  I hate the entire weekend.  But first, here's the track map:


Okay, cool.  From all reports, most of the F1 community loves the circuit, loves driving there, finds the place to be a great challenge.  So why my bitter antipathy for Interlagos?  Back in the old days, when my F1 fandom was shiny and new, Brazil was the last race of the season.  That meant that my favorite brand of motorsport was going to be going away for four months, give or take, and it was all Brazil's fault.

I didn't say it was logical.

But because of all that, the weekend always felt gray and overcast, even if it wasn't.  Maybe particularly if it wasn't.  That we occasionally got reports of drivers or team members being threatened at gunpoint didn't help matters either.  But rain is, if not common, then at least not very rare at all, which literally made it gray... and slippery, too!  Bonus!

But now Interlagos isn't even the last race on the calendar so my distaste for the circuit doesn't even make sense anymore.  Doesn't matter.  Don't like it.

I do like the Legendary Announce Team however, and we've only got two more races with them until they are scattered to the winds.  Let's enjoy them while we can, right?  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 2: 10a - 1130a  live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 830p - 10p  decidedly not live on NBCSN
Sunday
2017 Grand Prix of Brazil: 930a - 12n  live on NBCSN

All times Pond Central Time.  I am disappointed, but not surprised, by the decision to show NASCAR practice instead of F1 Quals live.  After all, NBCSN will not have Formula 1 much longer... no reason to hype it up just to have it move to ESPN next season.  And thus we get Quals 12 hours late.  However, if you're in the mood, Practice and Quals will be shown right before the race back-to-back-to-back.  I'll still have the normal Quals report up Saturday morning/afternoon, whichever.  I'm not even going to promise the F1U! for Sunday... best laid plans and all that, and my track record hasn't been great recently.

But it'll be here!  I promise.  See you eventually then!

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October 29, 2017

Mexico Delay

My mood has gotten blacker and blacker as the day has gone on, to the point where I feel like I'm spitting nails at the moment.


I'm not going to do the Mexico GP writeup tonight.  That'd just be a bad idea.

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October 28, 2017

F1 Quals: Mexico 2017

Ah, Mexico City.  Where the Government is confused, the food spicy, the music raucous, the alcohol dangerous, the air gray, and the oxygen sparse.  And the racing fast and furious... and the home of the 2017 Grand Prix of Mexico.  Here's the provisional grid: 

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:17.665 1:16.870 1:16.488
2 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:17.630 1:16.524 1:16.574
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:17.518 1:17.035 1:16.934
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:17.578 1:17.161 1:16.958
5 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:18.148 1:17.534 1:17.238
6 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:18.336 1:17.827 1:17.437
7 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:18.208 1:17.631 1:17.447
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:18.322 1:17.792 1:17.466
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:18.405 1:17.753 1:17.794
10 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:18.020 1:17.868 1:17.807
11 FelipeNot Nasr Williams Mercedes 1:18.570 1:18.099
12 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:18.902 1:19.159
13 Brendon Hairtley Toro Rosso 1:18.683 DNF
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:17.710 No Time
15 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:18.578 No Time
16 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:19.176

17 Herelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:19.333

18 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:19.443

19 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:19.473


Before we go any farther, Pierre Ghastly had engine problems in Practice 3 and could not make the quals session.  The two McLarens didn't turn laps in Q2 as a strategic move to save tires... and because they're going to be getting penalties for engine component changes.  And Brendon Hairtley's engine released the magic smoke before he could set a time in Q2.  If you get to see the in-car video, there's this really fast "zzzzip!" sound just as the engine stops being an engine.  My first thought was the turbo let go, but who knows?

Now then... Embryo Verstappen set his fast time in Q3 about five minutes too early.  It didn't look like it'd matter much... it was a helluva lap, only bettered once this weekend... and that was in Q2, and set by him anyway.  Hell, he also had the "ultimate sector time" for all three sectors, too.  Then Lewis Hamilton took a shot at it... and couldn't come close.  And looked like it, too... the Mercedes was not performing well today.

But Seb Vettel was the last man on track, the Ferrari was performing well, looking firmly planted to the asphalt, just in need of a brave driver to take advantage.  And he did, in an astonishing pole lap that almost wasn't.  According to Vettel afterwards, the car nearly got away from him in Turn 6, forcing him to drop down a gear.  Somehow, it didn't cost him enough time to knock him off pole.

I didn't think he could do it, honestly.  Verstappen's lap was so good, I thought only the Mercedes on a GOOD day would be able to beat it... and the Mercs were NOT having a good day, as mentioned earlier.  They say a good driver can outdrive his car... and that may be so, but I've really only seen one driver do that consistently: Fernando Alonso.  Vettel did that today, I think... and it's not like the Ferrari is a Minardi or something.  Kids, ask your parents about Minardi.

So the race is in the afternoon, Lewis Hamilton only needs to finish 5th to clinch the Driver's Championship, so he's gotta be relatively happy right now.  Vettel needs to win out to have any chance at all, over and above Hamilton having mechanical problems, so he's gotta be relatively happy right now... except the last time Vettel was on pole and Verstappen was second, they were in Singapore.  We all remember how that turned out.

Right, race in the afternoon!  See ya after!

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October 25, 2017

F1 on TV: Mexico 2017

The races haven't been great since Formula 1 returned to Mexico in 2015, but the spectacle has been real!  Let's take a look at the track map for this new old track.



The teams tend to load up on downforce here despite the two ridiculously long straights... there's a lot of turns to be contended with... and yet, that downforce still doesn't slow the cars down a whit.  Part of the reason for that is Mexico City itself: it's 2200m above sea level, more than 700m higher than the next circuit (Brazil), and some 2197m above Abu Dhabi.  Because the circuit is so high, there's a corresponding thinning of the air.  That means less aerodynamic drag, and while that also means less downforce, it's not like a F1 car doesn't have oodles to spare.  The engines have to work harder here, too, because of the lack of air... the turbochargers spin up to 10% faster to make up for it... so don't be surprised if we see some grenading going on.  There will also be a serious amount of fan insanity in the greatest stadium section in Formula 1.

It is literally a stadium!  Baseball, to be specific... home plate would be just offscreen right of this picture.  It seats 40,000 fans, and the podium ceremony is held here.  Dear god, if Sergio Perez makes the podium the crowd will be able to be heard here in Duckford.

The Legendary Announce Team will be at it again... here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 1: 10a - 1130a live on NBCSN
Practice 2: 2p - 330p live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 1p - 3p live on NBCSN
Sunday
2017 Grand Prix of Mexico: 2p - 4p live on NBC proper.

All times Pond Central, of course.  Seeing Practice 1 up there came as a pleasant surprise... NBCSN is going all-out for their last network weekend, I suppose.  See ya after!

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October 21, 2017

F1 Quals: United States 2017

Instead of the lousy conditions they had in Austin on Friday, Saturday saw blue and sunny skies, warm temps, and dry pavement.  That pretty much made it a given that the grid was going to be fairly conventional, but is that really what happened?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2017 United States Grand Prix:


Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.822 1:33.437 1:33.108
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:35.420 1:34.103 1:33.347
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:35.309 1:33.769 1:33.568
4 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:35.991 1:34.495 1:33.577
5 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:35.649 1:33.840 1:33.577
6 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:34.899 1:34.716 1:33.658
7 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:35.849 1:35.113 1:34.647
8 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:35.517 1:34.899 1:34.852
9 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:35.712 1:35.046 1:35.007
10 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:36.358 1:34.789 1:35.148
11 FelipeNot Nasr Williams Mercedes 1:35.603 1:35.155
12 Zombie Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:36.073 1:35.529
13 Stoffewaffle McLaren Honda 1:36.286 1:35.641
14 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:36.835 1:35.870
15 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:35.740 No Time

16 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:36.842

17 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:36.868

18 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:36.889

19 Herelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:37.179

20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:37.394


Yep, pretty conventional.  Polesitter Lewis Hamilton has dominated the weekend so far, being fastest in all three practice sessions and now setting a new course record to boot.  Oh, and he averaged 132mph around the circuit, three mph faster than the previous record.  Hamilton's only real competition, both for pole and for the championship, Seb Vettel, absolutely needed this result to have much of a chance in the race tomorrow and to keep his faint championship hopes alive.

Dear heavens, the Mercedes looked absolutely glued to the track today.  During his pole lap, as seen from the above-head camera position, it felt like Hamilton barely needed to turn the steering wheel let alone make sudden course corrections like from a slide or something.  A superb driver and a superb car, on a track the driver loves and the car may as well have been made for?  Fwoar.

Embryo Verstappen has a 15-spot grid penalty for various parts changes.  Pleasant Stroll, who attempted to murder Lettuce Grosjean in Q1 today, got a three-spot penalty.  So did Kevin Magnussen, who will now be starting from Pilot Knob.

Race is at 2pm Central Pond Time, with a pre-race on NBC at 1pm.  I'm having brunch with the folks beforehand, but I expect I'll be back in time to catch the start.  I don't intend to liveblog, but if anything important happens, I'll post something ASAP.  See ya then!

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October 18, 2017

F1 on TV: United States 2017

Running a little behind this week, thanks to a combination of Cubs playing in the NLCS, stupid overtime, and a desperate need for extra sleep, but never fear, your guide to the television coverage of the United States Grand Prix is here!  Let's look at that there track map, y'all!


They say everything is bigger in Texas, but in this case it just isn't true.  The Circuit of the Americas down yonder in Austin is on the small side of larger tracks at just a skosh over 3.41miles... that's 5.5km in them there "keeelo-meeter" things.  I mean, Suzuka is a longer track than COTA, but nobody really thinks of that wonderful place as "long".

The one exception to the "everything isn't bigger at COTA" is the already legendary Turn 1, the apex of which is also the apex of Phil Hill.  This bit of elevation change is the biggest single climb in F1, 133' of pure drag racing named for legendary American racer Cody Phil.  Probably my favorite part of the track, just for the sheer ridiculousness of it.  It's wonderful.

Speaking of wonderful, the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their usual great coverage of the race!  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 1: 10a - 12n  live on NBCSN
Practice 2: 10p - 1130p  not live on NBCSN... also may not be Practice 2.  I dunno
Saturday
Quals: 3p - 6p live on NBCSN (may also have P3 coverage on tape delay)
Sunday
2017 United States Grand Prix: 2p - 4p live on NBC... yes, NBC!

Make sure you watch, it'll be a blast... particularly since Hamilton can win the championship here.  All he needs to do is win, and have Vettel finish 6th or lower.  I'll be along afterwards with the F1U!, of course.  I'm even taking Monday off to allow me to pay closer attention to the race!

See ya then!

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October 07, 2017

F1 Quals: Japan 2017

Oh dear.  This bodes ill for tomorrow's 2017 Grand Prix of Japan.  Here's the provisional grid:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:29.047 1:27.819 1:27.319
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:29.332 1:28.543 1:27.651
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:29.352 1:28.225 1:27.791
4 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:29.475 1:28.935 1:28.306
5 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:29.181 1:28.747 1:28.332
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:29.163 1:29.079 1:28.498
7 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:30.115 1:29.199 1:29.111
8 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:29.696 1:29.343 1:29.260
9 FelipeNot Nasr Williams Mercedes 1:30.352 1:29.687 1:29.480
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:30.525 1:29.749 1:30.687
11 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:30.654 1:29.778
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:30.252 1:29.879
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:30.774 1:29.972
14 Unemployed  Palmer Renault 1:30.516 1:30.022
15 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:30.565 1:30.413
16 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:30.849

17 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso 1:31.317

18 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:31.409

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:31.597

20 Herelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:31.885


It's hardly unusual for Lewis Hamilton to be on pole.  For him to be on pole in so dominant a manner is another thing altogether.  This season, there's usually been some sort of realistic threat from some other driver to take pole, even if Hamilton still ended up with it.  Not today.  At no point during the quals session today did he look even mildly disconcerted.  Just a massive curbstomp of a quals.

The one saving grace for Seb Vettel is that he'll actually be starting second, not third, as Bottas has a five-grid-spot penalty to deal with.  On the whole, Ferrari has looked good over race distances this year, better than they do during Quals.  That may not matter, though, because of just how massive the Merc looked today.  

Sorry this is short and late, been working today.  Race overnight, see ya afterwards sometime!

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October 04, 2017

Of Two Minds

It was announced earlier today that ESPN has won the rights to carry Formula 1 races here in the US, beginning in 2018.  And by "won", I mean "they were probably the only bidders."


That's not snark.  The powers that be at NBCSN came out and said "we chose not to enter into a new agreement in which the rights holders itself competes with us and our distribution partners."  This is widely assumed to mean that Liberty Media / FOM will be launching a worldwide streaming service next year.

It looks like ESPN will be using the World Feed announcers, instead of bringing in the Legendary Announce Team to provide commentary.  I am... displeased... by this development.

While I'm still not overly fond of Leigh Diffey (L), preferring instead the dulcet tones of The Varsha, losing David Hobbs (C) and Steve Matchett (R) will hurt.  For me, they are the voice of Formula 1.  They've been there for almost every race of my F1 fandom (save for a painful few races that were shown on CBS... "they're CRASHING over the curbs" will haunt me forever), and I will miss them if they're gone.

On the other hand, it just became a LOT easier for people to watch Formula 1 in the US.  Most of the races will be on ESPN2, three will be on ESPN proper, and two will be first-run on ABC (Monaco will be shown live on ESPN, then tape-delayed on ABC as well).  More visibility is better than less in my book.

Stay tuned, friends.  A new world is coming to our fandom.

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October 03, 2017

F1 on NBCSN: Japan 2017

I'm afraid I don't have a whole bunch of time to do this, so let me be brief.  Here's the track map for the 2017 Grand Prix of Japan:


It's my favorite circuit on the F1 calendar.  To me, it's everything you could possibly want from a track.  There is not one single bit of mickeymousing anywhere, even the chicane is pretty handy.  130R used to be the most fearsome turn on the calendar.  Now the drivers are talking about taking it flat-out and pulling maybe six G's in the process.  If that happens, I'll expect to see someone's head popping out of the cockpit like a champagne cork.  The Circuit of the Americas stole their Esses from here, though Suzuka's are tighter.

And oh yeah, there's a FREAKIN' BRIDGE involved.  It's a figure-8 track... next up, F1 comes to the Duckford Speedway for a night of quarter-mile high-banked oval racin'!

Here's the broadcast schedule for the race weekend, brought to you by the Legendary Announce Team and Pocky, the world's favorite chocolate-dipped biscuit stick! 

Friday
Practice 2: 1201a - 130a live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 1a - 230a  live on NBCSN
...and...
2017 Grand Prix of Japan: 1130p - 2a Sunday,  live on NBCSN

Again, note that both Quals and the race broadcasts begin on Saturday according to NBCSN.  I'll be along eventually with the F1U!.  See ya then then, shall I?  Yes, let's.


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September 30, 2017

Meanwhile, In Another Racing Series...

Sometimes when you have a bad day, you can't identify what caused it.  You're just having a bad day.  Then  there are the times where you know exactly why you're having a bad day.  This past April, the Blancpain GT series had a bad day.


You can probably see where this is headed.  Click here for the video, it's... quite something.

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F1 Quals: Malaysia 2017

It's rare that you can look at a particular moment in time as it's happening and say "there.  Right there is the point everything changed."  I am of the opinion that we experienced that today during Quals.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Malaysia:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:31.605 1:30.977 1:30.076
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:32.259 1:30.926 1:30.121
3 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:31.920 1:30.931 1:30.541
4 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:32.416 1:31.061 1:30.595
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:32.254 1:30.803 1:30.758
6 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:32.527 1:31.651 1:31.478
7 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:32.838 1:31.848 1:31.582
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:32.586 1:31.778 1:31.607
9 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:32.768 1:31.484 1:31.658
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:33.049 1:32.010 1:31.704
11 Felipe Not Nasr  Williams Mercedes 1:32.267 1:32.034
12 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:32.576 1:32.100
13 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:33.000 1:32.307
14 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:32.650 1:32.402
15 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso 1:32.547 1:32.558
16 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:33.308

17 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:33.434

18 Herelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:33.483

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:33.970

NC Sebastian Vettel Ferrari No Time



The moment came, not during Practice 3 when Seb Vettel's engine started making unfortunate noises, nor when Ferrari decided to replace the entire power unit between sessions.  No, it came whenever it was that a Ferrari mechanic neglected to feed the hamster in the new turbo unit just before Vettel went out with just a couple of minutes to go in Q1.  The team had done an amazing job just to get his car to this point (you try changing your car's engine in two hours!), but during his out lap the German's turbo actually made an audible "foop" sound and stopped working.  And right there, right at that moment, we saw Lewis Hamilton clinch the World Championship.

Oh, to be sure, there's plenty of races left.  I just don't think they're going to matter after tomorrow... assuming no rain or stuff like that.  Hamilton will increase his already large points lead, and among the remaining five races only Japan and Brazil could be considered the sort of tracks that the Ferrari likes.  It was looking like a good fight, but... oh well.

I find it curious that the final five places on the grid are held by Ferrari-powered cars. Hm.

Race at 2am Sunday morning.  I don't think I'll be staying up that late.  See ya tomorrow!

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September 27, 2017

F1 on NBCSN: Malaysia 2017

The circuit at Malaysia was one of the first true Tilkedromes, and for the most part I'll be able to forget it quickly.. which is what we'll all need to do, because this is the last race that'll be taking place there for the visible future.  The promoters decided not to cough up the $Insane needed to get the rights to hold a F1 race, and thus will their contract lapse.  Let's take one last look at the track map, shall we?


The circuit was resurfaced last year, which took care of most of the bumps a track gets over the years as the asphalt/concrete/whatever settles.  Oddly, they also raised the inside of Turn 15 by a meter in an attempt to improve the passing there.  Nobody is entirely sure if it worked.  Well, there's always the chance of rain, right?

Speaking of rain, here's the broadcast schedule for the race weekend, presented by the Legendary Announce Team:
Friday
Practice 2: 2a - 330a  live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 4a - 530a  live on NBCSN
Sunday
2017 Grand Prix of Malaysia: 2a - 430a  live on NBCSN

All times, of course, are Pond Central.  Check your local listings just in case I screwed up the conversions.

Speaking of screwing up, Kid Kvyat has lost his drive with Toro Rosso, at least temporarily.  His performance has been... um... lackluster, so the team is bringing in Pierre Gasly on a trial basis.  Gasly appears to be a Talent, having won the GP2 series last year (over the famous Tony Snazzy who drove a couple of F1 races earlier this year).  He's part of the so-called Red Bull Junior Team, their young drivers program, which has sent at least six drivers to F1 before Gasly: Christian Klein, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Smiley Ricciardo, Embryo Verstappen, Seb Vettel... and Kid Kvyat.  Gasly is also French.  Sacre bleu.  With a name like "Pierre", you were maybe expecting Polish?

Speaking of "Polish", it's looking more and more like Robert Kubica, the moron who threw his F1 career away by entering a rally race and nearly dying, is going to be returning to Formula 1 either sometime this year, or at the start of next.  Renault has been taking a good, hard look at him in test drives, and despite having an arm that looks like a swizzle stick, he's apparently done well enough to be in contention.  More surprising is that he can actually exit the car within the FIA-mandated time with that, but there you go.  I'm Polish as well, so that part of me wants to see him again... he sure looked like a champion-in-the-making... but the rest of me just thinks he was an idiot and doesn't deserve another try.  Yes, I'm confused.

Which isn't anything new.  See you soon!

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September 17, 2017

Singapore 2017 F1U! Delayed

Due to unexpected but totally unavoidable things occurring, I'm going to have to do the F1U! on Monday.  It's going to take a while, and I don't have time to do it Sunday night and this race deserves my full attention.


Sit tight, everybody.

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September 16, 2017

F1 Quals: Singapore 2017

The Quals session for the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix was one of the most anticipated in quite some time.  Not only is it the sort of circuit that Mercedes is expected to be slower than normal around, but Red Bull had introduced a number of improvements to their car, sending them to the top of the timesheets in all three Practice sessions.  This included the fastest lap ever around the Marina Bay street circuit, set by Smiley Ricciardo.  Ferrari was expected to be in the pole hunt as well, with what is probably the most balanced car on the grid right now.  So what happened?  Here's the provisional grid:



Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:43.336 1:40.529 1:39.491
2 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:42.010 1:40.332 1:39.814
3 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:42.063 1:40.385 1:39.840
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:43.328 1:40.525 1:40.069
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:42.455 1:40.577 1:40.126
6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:43.137 1:41.409 1:40.810
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:42.586 1:41.277 1:41.013
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:42.086 1:41.442 1:41.179
9 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:42.222 1:41.227 1:41.398
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:42.176 1:41.826 1:42.056
11 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:42.472 1:42.107
12 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:43.594 1:42.246
13 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:42.544 1:42.338
14 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:43.626 1:42.760
15 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:43.627 1:43.883
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:43.756

17 FelipeNot Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:44.014

18 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:44.728

19 Herelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:45.059

20 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:45.570


For a while there, it looked for all the world like Embryo Verstappen was going to take his first pole position, not to mention wresting the title of "youngest pole sitter" from Seb Vettel.  But right at the end of Q3 the Ferrari driver pulled an incredible lap out of his fundament, one that came as such a surprise to him that when he was informed of his pole, he let loose with a scream that could very nearly only be heard by dogs.  The question is, how long will he get to enjoy the primacy of his position?  Verstappen is not known for his... um... restrained driving style, and there's got to be a non-trival chance that we'll see a shattered pile of red carbon fiber parked at the side of the track somewhere in the first lap.

In other news, McLaren finally shot their partnership with Honda in the face.  The team then announced that they'll have Renault power units in the back of their chassis.  "But Wonderduck," I hear you say because I've got super-hearing, it's a duck thing, "didn't Renault say they couldn't support any more teams above the three they're working with now?"  Indeed they did, my friends!  Which brings us to the next part: Toro Rosso has announced that they'll be running Honda power units next year!  This is legitimately a no-lose situation for them.  Remember, Honda was McLaren's sole major sponsor for the past three years, not only providing them with engines but giving them a LOT of money to boot... I've heard upwards of $150million, though I don't know if that's per year or over the life of their partnership.  So, undoubtedly there's a substantial financial aspect to the deal.  The other part is, while yes, the engines have not been swell, McLaren has done the really hard part: they had to deal with the "wow, our engines suck" part of development.  We're seeing signs that Honda is starting to come around, and there's some pundits that are saying that the Honda could be BETTER than Renault's lump next year.  And if it's not?  Well, Toro Rosso is hardly burning up the charts anyway, but they'll be ahead of the game financially.  As I said, no-lose.

Race in the morning, see ya then!

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September 13, 2017

F1 on TV: Singapore 2017

It's a good thing that Formula 1 cars don't tend to leak fluids very much.  Singapore takes a dim view of littering or mussing the appearance of their city-state, and really... do we need to see Lewis Hamilton getting caned?  Don't answer that.  Here's the track map for the 2017 Grand Prix of Singapore:


This track has two party tricks, of course.  First, it's a street circuit, running around and through the Marina district of Singapore.  Unlike Monaco though, it actually has some legitimate straightaways that allow a car to stretch its legs.  The circuit is also wide enough to let a couple of cars next to each other at some points.  The other party trick is that it's a night race, the site of the very first in F1 history.  There's some hassle involved with that for the teams, but it's all worthwhile when you get to see the cars under the lights.

We all know that I'm not a huge fan of Ferrari, but under Singapore's lights I'll be damned if that red doesn't just look gorgeous.

Speaking of gorgeous, the Legendary Announce Team will be on the job as usual!  Here's their broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 2: 730a - 9a  live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 8a - 930a live on CNBC
Sunday
2017 Grand Prix of Singapore: 7a - 930a live on NBCSN  

All times are allegedly Pond Central.  And, of course, sometime afterwards there'll be a F1Update! of some quality level that is, as of yet, undetermined.  See ya then!

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September 02, 2017

F1 Quals: Italy 2017

It's no great secret that I usually watch F1 events via DVR some time after they occur.  While it's becoming more common as I age for me to be awake early on the weekends, much to my annoyed chagrin, I generally still don't watch until sometime after.  Hey, no commercials that way, right?  It's a good plan, and it usually works really well.  Usually.  This time... nope.


It rained today at Monza.  A lot.  It was raining before Quals began, and pretty much just as things got rolling half of the Mediterranean was dropped on the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.  It was bad enough that Lettuce Grosjean binned his Haas driving in a straight line down the front straight.  The red flag was flown and the session splashed to a halt.  By the time they decided to allow cars back on track, it was two and a half hours later and my DVR had stopped recording a good half-hour earlier.  In effect, I didn't get to see Quals at all.  Whoopsie.  Well, let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Italy:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36.009 1:34.660 1:35.554
2 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:37.344 1:36.113 1:36.702
3 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:38.304 1:37.313 1:36.841
4 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:37.653 1:37.002 1:37.032
5 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:38.775 1:37.580 1:37.719
6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:35.716 1:35.396 1:37.833
7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:38.235 1:37.031 1:37.987
8 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:37.198 1:36.223 1:38.064
9 FelipeNot Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:38.338 1:37.456 1:38.251
10 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:38.767 1:37.471 1:39.157
11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:38.511 1:37.582
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:39.242 1:38.059
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:39.134 1:38.202
14 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:39.183 1:38.245
15 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:39.788 1:38.526
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:40.489

17 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:40.646

18 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:41.732

19 Therelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:41.875

NC Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:43.355


First off, all of the team here at F1U! want to congratulate Lewis Hamilton for his record-breaking 69th Pole Position.  He's now sat on more poles than anybody in F1 history... even that naughty Australian grid girl from a few years back.  

Second off, don't read too much into the fact that he was over a second faster than anybody else in Q3.  As near as I can figure, he was the only driver who was able to make his final hot lap on a new set of rain tires.  Everybody else was on either Intermediates or worn Full Wets.

Third, both Red Bull drivers had to change engine components and are getting penalties of 20 spots (or more!).  Because of this, the Williams of Pleasant Stroll will be next to Hamilton on the front row.  Stroll thus becomes the youngest driver to ever start a F1 race on the front row.

Finally, it is possible (though very unlikely) that Lettuce Grosjean won't be allowed to participate in the race.  His qualifying time of 1:43.355 is slower than the 107% time of 1:42.416, and at least by the letter of the law he's not eligible to race.  However, the stewards can decide to let him in on past performance anyway, which I fully expect to occur.

Race in the morning, rain isn't expected that I've heard, we'll see you then!


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August 29, 2017

F1 on NBCSN: Italy 2017

It is the Temple of Speed.  It is what you'd get if NASCAR was European.  It is Monza, and it is FAST.  The quickest lap in F1 history was turned here.  If you are looking for subtlety, this is not where you come.  Here's the track map:


 And beyond "woo baby it's fast, " there's no much else I can say about it.  It's been a long, unpleasant day at work, and that has left me disgruntled.  So, instead of spewing disgruntlement all over the place, I'll remind you that the good folks of the Legendary Announce Team never have unpleasant days at work, because work is watching F1 races!  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 2: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 7a - 830a live on NBCSN
Sunday
2017 Grand Prix of Italy: 630a - 9a live on NBCSN

So go watch it why don'tcha?  Not like you have to work on Monday after all!  F1U! will be along afterwards as usual.  Yay.

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