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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August 26, 2017

F1 Quals: Belgium 2017

Belgium, man... Belgium!  Sure, the skies looked clear and wonderful and lovely, but the weather here in the Ardennes forest is like a deadly snake wearing a top hat: it can turn nasty in a second, no matter how cute it looks.  So it was with one eye cocked to the skies as the F1 Circus stepped on the loud pedal and went fast at Spa-Francopants.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Belgium:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:44.184 1:42.927 1:42.553
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:44.275 1:43.987 1:42.795
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:44.773 1:43.249 1:43.094
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:44.729 1:43.700 1:43.270
5 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:44.535 1:43.940 1:43.380
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:45.114 1:44.224 1:43.863
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:45.280 1:44.988 1:44.982
8 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:45.591 1:44.894 1:45.244
9 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:45.277 1:45.006 1:45.369
10 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:45.447 1:44.685 No Time
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:45.668 1:45.090
12 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:45.728 1:45.133
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:45.535 1:45.400
14 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:45.374 1:45.439
15 Stoffewaffle McLaren Honda 1:45.441 No Time

16 Felipe Not Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:45.823

17 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:46.028

18 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:46.915

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:47.214

20   Hehrlein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:47.679


There really wasn't much doubt that one of the Mercs would be on pole, for this is the type of circuit that they live for: friggin' fast.  Remember back when Seb Vettel won all his world championships in the Red Bull?  Remember how those cars weren't the fastest in a straight line, but seemed like they could go through any turn seemingly without losing any speed whatsoever?  Well, the Merc is like the anti-Red Bull.  Not as fast as some through the turns, but enough grunt in the power unit that all sins are absolved.  Except, of course, the Mercs are no slouches in the twistybits.  In a lot of ways, Ferrari is the new Red Bull... great on the tracks that don't depend on horsepower.  Except, of course, that the Ferrari power unit is only a tic or two below Mercedes.  Y'know what?  It's kinda dumb to try and compare new to old.  Mercedes fast. Ferrari nimble.  Grr argh.

This was Lewis Hamilton's 68th career pole position, tying Slappy Schumacher for first all-time in that category.  That's kinda impressive.  Will it translate into a win?  I'm of the opinion that any car with a Merc engine has a good shot at a podium (except for the Williams boys... yeesh).  Force India historically loves this place after all!  However, if I had to put my money on someone to win, it'd have to be Hamilton.  It's just set up for him too perfectly.  Oh, did I mention that his pole lap is the fastest lap ever around Spa-Francoamerican?

Sadly, there is practically no chance for rain forecast for the race.  But, as previously mentioned, this place is notorious for weather coming out of nowhere.  Let's hope.  Race in the morning, F1U! sometime after that.  See you then!

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August 23, 2017

F1 on TV: Belgium 2017

Summer vacation's over everybody!  It's time for the idjits in the F1 Circus to pitch their tents in a new location!  And this time, we're at everybody's favorite WW2 battlefield-turned-race track, Spa-Francorchamps!  Let's take a look at that track map, hey?


It is, of course, a much shorter lap now than it was back in the day.  Almost 9.5 miles it was back in the 20s and 30s, and almost entirely run with the gas pedal stapled to the firewall.  It was also entirely public roads, a huge triangle running between the towns of Spa-Francopants, Malmedy, and Stavelot in the Ardennes forest.  There were no tire barriers, no huge run-off zones, no extra-wide meticulously tidy racing surface.  It was a driver, a car, skinny tires, and trees, houses, barbed-wire fences, cows, spectators, basically anything you can think of to run into, you could run into it at Spa-Francoamerican.  And the weather!  Oy, the weather!  One minute it could be sunny, the next rain or even snow!

Participants in the 1944 race struggle with the weather.
With the retirement of the old track, and let's face it, that was a good idea since nobody has died in a F1 car at Spa-Francophone since the new circuit opened in 1983.  It's still the longest circuit on the calendar, though now only 4.3 miles long.  A good lap would be in the mid 1:40s... what it'll be with the new aero rules and tires is entirely beyond me.  Sure will be fun to see the Circus doing Eau Rouge/Raidillon flat-out, pulling 6g's in the process.

Of course, the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their usual bang-up commentary job on your television sets.  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 2: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 7a - 830a  live on CNBC
Sunday
2017 Grand Prix of Belgium, man, Belgium:  630a - 9a  live on NBCSN

Of course, F1Update! will be along sometime afterwards with its usual stellar coverage.  Look forward to it, won't you?  See ya then!

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July 29, 2017

F1 Quals: Hungary 2017

A bright sunny day greeted the F1 Circus, the pleasant atmosphere belying the fact that they were in Hungary.  Still, while they were there, they may as well go racing, right?  And before you race, you have to qualify, and they did.  Here's the provisional grid:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:17.244 1:16.802 1:16.276
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:17.364 1:17.207 1:16.444
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:18.058 1:17.362 1:16.530
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:17.492 1:16.693 1:16.707
5 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:17.266 1:17.028 1:16.797
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:17.702 1:17.698 1:16.818
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:18.137 1:17.655 1:17.468
8 Indy Alonso McLaren Honda 1:18.395 1:17.919 1:17.549
9 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:18.479 1:18.000 1:17.894
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:18.948 1:18.311 1:18.912
11 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:18.699 1:18.415
12 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:18.843 1:18.495
13 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:18.702 1:18.538
14 Sergio Leone Force India Mercedes 1:19.095 1:18.639
15 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:19.085 1:18.771
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:19.095

17 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:19.102

18 Herelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:19.839

19 Paul di Resta Williams Mercedes 1:19.868

20 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:19.972


Sharp-eyed readers may notice a name is missing.  Felipe Not Retired Massa felt light-headed and dizzy during P2 on Friday.  FIA medical personnel gave him a clean bill of health today before Practice 3, but during the session the dizziness returned and Massa removed himself from the car for the rest of the weekend.  Thus it fell to Williams reserve driver Paul di Resta, who hadn't actually run the FW40 at all, just sim work, to get in the cockpit for the first time since 2013 and not suck.  He wasn't last, so mission accomplished: he didn't suck.  

Oh, and Ferrari locked out the first row, with Seb Vettel setting the fastest lap ever around the Hungaroring in the process.  Probably no surprise, this is the sort of track that suits the Ferrari quite nicely... it needs more nimbleness than grunt, and it has both.  Meanwhile, the Mercs have a longer wheelbase and the best power ensemble.  This is great for fast tracks but it's not rewarded around here.  The Red Bulls have historically been great in the turns as well, and with them locking out the third row it's clear nothing has changed.  The best example, however, of how much Hungary rewards the ability to turn and weave has to be the McLarens, both of which made Q3.  We're talking about a car that has been as much as 15mph slower down a straightaway this year, remember.  

So if nothing else, Vettel has stolen a march on Hamilton and Bottas, capturing pole on a track where it's... difficult... to pass.  I'm thinking the Ferraris will have a win tomorrow, but it won't be overly easy, and Raikkonen will end up fourth or fifth along the way.

Not that I'm predicting or anything.  Race is Sunday morning, see ya then!

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July 26, 2017

F1 on NBCSN: Hungary 2017

Hungary.  I'm not even going to try to pretend to be enthused about this race.  For years, Formula 1's annual visit to the Hungaroring has been my least favorite stop on the calendar.  I've only missed two races in the past 12 years, and both of them were Hungarians Grand Prix (weather problems).  And y'know what?  I'm totally okay with that.  Here's the trackmap:


It's been called "Monaco without the buildings."  That gives it too much credit, I'm afraid.  I gather it's a wonderful place to actually watch a race, built as it is into a natural bowl.  However, that bowl also makes it ridiculously hot and humid: no breeze, don'tchaknow?  Actually, it's a lot like Duckford in that regard, at least today.  It was 83° when I left the job, and according to one weather website or another, 95% humidity.  But I digress.

It's bumpy, even with last year's resurfacing, it's abrasive, and it's nearly impossible to pass on.  Other than that, it's a fantastic track... grmblgrmblgrmbl.

The best thing that can be said about the Hungarian Grand Prix is that after it's over, F1 will be taking a four-week summer break.

Well, that and we get another race covered by the Legendary Announce Team!  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 Hungary: 630a - 9a live on NBCSN

All times Pond Central.  All opinions are those of The Pond, and should not be taken internally.  Check your local listings for whatever you feel like checking.

I'm going to bed now.

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July 15, 2017

F1 Quals: Britian 2017

Ah, to be in England in the summertime... to feel the warm sun shining down upon me, the gentle breezes, to enjoy England's mountains green.  To view the bluebirds over the cliffs of Dover, though it may be a long way to Tipperary. 


Or, more likely, to suffer the pissing rain and chill winds whipping in over the microclimate that made RAF Silverstone such a great location for a Wellington bomber training base.  It doesn't do much for a F1 car's traction, though, which is why it looked to be an entertaining qualifying session when the tv cameras came on.  It had begun raining about 15 minutes before the session, and had just continued on... not heavy enough to stop the proceedings, not light enough to use dry tires.  The sort of weather that could easily mix up a grid in other words!  So what was the result?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Britain:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:39.069 1:27.893 1:26.600
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:40.455 1:28.992 1:27.147
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:39.962 1:28.978 1:27.356
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:39.698 1:28.732 1:27.376
5 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:38.912 1:29.431 1:28.130
6 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:39.201 1:29.340 1:28.856
7 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:42.009 1:29.824 1:28.902
8 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:39.738 1:29.701 1:29.074
9 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:40.011 1:30.105 1:29.418
10 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:42.042 1:29.966 1:29.549
11 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:41.404 1:30.193
12 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:41.726 1:30.355
13 Indy Alonso McLaren Honda 1:37.598 1:30.600
14 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:41.114 1:31.368
15 Felipe Not Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:41.874 1:31.482
16 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:42.573

17 K-Mag Haas Ferrari 1:42.577

18 Hereline Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:42.593

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:42.633

20 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:42.966


The rain more or less stopped during Q1 and a dry-ish line formed around the track right at the end when Indy Alonso made one final desperate dash to get out of the dead zone... and ended up being fastest of the session.  Not to worry, he has a 30-grid spot penalty for an engine change so he'll be last anyways tomorrow.  Red Bull's Smiley Ricciardo never made it out of Q1, his turbo making a sound like it had ingested a guineapig

The rest of Quals went like it usually does... the track dried out, Hamilton went full ham on the place and set the fastest ever lap around Silverstone in the process.  He's over a half-second ahead of the nearest Ferrari.

Barring weather, I'd say it's a fairly good guess that Ham'n'cheese will win tomorrow, but that's why they run the races.  Tune in to F1U! afterwards to find out what went down.

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July 12, 2017

F1 on CNBC: Great Britain 2017!

If Monaco is the heart of Formula 1, and Monza the throbbing adrenal glands, and Hungary whatever earwax is, this weekend's track is the very soul of the sport.  It was here that the F1 championship was born, most of the teams are located within a short drive from the circuit (and one literally across the street from the front gates), and it's been the home track for many of the greatest names in the sport's history.  Thus it should come as no surprise to veteran watchers of F1 or readers of The Pond that there's a very good chance indeed that next year will be the last British Grand Prix to be held at Silverstone for a while.  Here's the track map:


The British Racing Drivers' Club, the owning body of Silverstone, activated an escape clause in their current contract with Formula One Management... or Liberty Media, whatever the powers that be in F1 are now...citing ruinous fees to host the event.  They say they've lost £7million over the last two years, and expect to be another four million in the hole this year.  So suddenly we no longer have a track for the British Grand Prix.  The BRDC will, of course, immediately begin renegotiating with The Powers That Be, going for lower fees, and who can blame them?  By the end of the contract they just got out of, 2026, they would be paying £25million just to host a F1 race... never mind upkeep, improvements, so on and so forth.  

Which makes what happened today in London so interesting.  See, F1 put on a little show in the heart of the city, meaning we got the spectacle of modern and classic F1 cars prancing around Trafalgar Square.  It may not be coincidence that there's a serious push for a race in London. Gotta admit, that'd be really freakin' cool.
19 of the current drivers appeared at the event, the lone no-show being Brit Lewis Hamilton.  Gotta say, that's awfully stupid of him, but hell, it's not like I'm a fan anyway.

One thing we know for sure: the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their usual stalwart coverage... hopefully David Hobbs will have recovered from the bug that bit him.  Here's the times:
Friday
Practice 2: somewhere between hither and yon.
Saturday
Quals: 7a - 830a, live on CNBC
Sunday
2017 Grand Prix of Britain: 630a - 9a, live on CNBC

All times Pond Central.  Accept no substitutes!

F1U! will be along sometime thereafter... see ya then!

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July 08, 2017

F1 Quals: Austria 2017

Well folks, they can't all be gems... my Austria/Australia post proved that one definitively.  And so too went today's Qualifying session for the 2017 Grand Prix of Australia Austria.  Here's the provisional grid:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:05.760 1:04.316 1:04.251
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:05.585 1:04.772 1:04.293
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:05.064 1:04.800 1:04.424
4 mrmbrmrlb Räikkönen Ferrari 1:05.148 1:05.004 1:04.779
5 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:05.854 1:05.161 1:04.896
6 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:05.779 1:04.948 1:04.983
7 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:05.902 1:05.319 1:05.480
8 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:05.975 1:05.435 1:05.605
9 False Esteban Force India Mercedes 1:06.033 1:05.550 1:05.674
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:05.675 1:05.544 1:05.726
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:06.174 1:05.597
12 Indy Alonso McLaren Honda 1:06.158 1:05.602
13 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:06.316 1:05.741
14 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:05.990 1:05.884
15 K- Mag Haas Ferrari 1:06.143 No Time

16 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:06.345

17 Felipe Not Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:06.534

18 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:06.608

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:06.857

20 Thereline Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:07.011


So yeah, not much exciting today.  We didn't even get the usual shootout for pole, the drivers making one last desperate dash in an attempt to best the leader's time.  Lettuce Grosjean's Haas turned into an immobile piece of carbon fiber sculpture on the racing surface towards the end of the session.  That brought out the yellow flags, meaning that drivers couldn't improve their times (by rule).  And thus we did see Valterri Bottas take pole by a scant .042 seconds over Sebby Vettel.  Lewis Hamilton qualified third, but he's going to starting from the eighth spot after an unscheduled gearbox change.  Whoopsie!  However, he's taken advantage of that by doing his runs in Q2 on the harder "super-soft" tires while everyone else of consequence used the "ultra-softs".  In theory, this'll lead to him doing a long first stint and running the faster tires at the end... strategery!

Except all of that skullsweat might go right out the window.  There's a good chance of rain for tomorrow's race, and it's almost guaranteed to be raining before the race session.  Damp track?  Rain race?  I'm up for that!  Cross your wingtips, lads and lasses, and keep 'em crossed.

Race on Sunday morning, we'll be along with the F1U! sometime after that.  See ya then!

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