June 14, 2019
Le Mans 2019 It's that time again! It's the middle of June, and that means that a middlin' city a smidge smaller in population than Duckford to the south of Le Havre, France becomes the center of the motorsports world as the 87th 24 Hours of Le Mans gears up. And due to a miracle pulled off by the apartment complex management, I'll be able to watch it from Pond Central's comfy chair! For whatever reason, Dish Network dropped MotorTrend TV (Dish 246) from our channels list earlier this week. It was there Monday, it wasn't there Wednesday. I called the office, explained the situation, and they called Dish this morning. And lo, upon Pond Central the satellites did smile, for there in its normal location were the initials "MT". I've already set the DVR for all 24 hours.
While Toyota is the favorite to get the overall win with their LMP1-H hybrid powered cars, I'm throwing my support this year behind Rebellion Racing and their LMP1-L non-hybrid cars. The Swiss team is an honest-and-true privateer team, with no support from any manufacturer. Despite this, they were third and fourth in last year's 24H, the best of the non-hybrid cars. They were 12 laps down to the Toyotas. Now that Toyota has finally won Le Mans after years of heartbreak and suffering, and Fernando Alonso has a Le Mans victory under his belt in his chase for the "Triple Crown" of wins at Monaco, Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500, I have no hesitation to root against them. It would be a wonderful thing to see a privateer team beat the factory cars... I don't honestly expect it, unless there's some reliability issues (with a Toyota at Le Mans? Never!), but it would be so cool.
Having said that, I'm cheering for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing in the GTE Pro division. Yes, from privateer to factory based, all in the space of a paragraph. The thing is, Ford is getting out of endurance racing at the factory team level after this race, so seeing them take a class victory would be a great way to go. Sorry, Corvette, I know you're usually my team, thanks to my awesome garage being a Vette specialty shop... I'm a fickle duck, I guess. Next year, I promise!
For those of you who want to watch along, but don't have MotorTrend TV, they have a free 14-day trial you can sign up for on their website and watch the race streaming that way. Or there's Radio Le Mans and their brilliant (audio only) coverage as well. There's nothing better than seeing cars going 210mph down the Mulsanne straight in the middle of the night. C'mon, join in with me!
May 23, 2019
Motorsport Holiday! That's right, it's Memorial Day weekend here in the US, and that means it's time for all auto racing fans to plop themselves down on the couch with the remote, a bag of chips, and just spend the entirety of your Sunday watching car races!
First off is Monaco, and we probably won't be seeing this view all that much. Monaco is dredging out tons of silt from near the Tunnel exit, so as to create a firm base for some land reclamation. It's supposed to be finished by 2022, at which point the run from the Tunnel will be much more dramatic, going between highrises and the like.
There will be a sense of sadness around Monaco this year though. Just this past Monday two-time Monaco winner and three-time World Driver's Championship winner Niki Lauda passed away at the age of 70. By now you know the story of his terrible fiery accident at the Nurburgring, how it severely burned his head and neck, and worst of all inhaling hot gases scorched his lungs. At one point comatose, he was given Last Rites. And then, because he was a bad-ass, Lauda came back six weeks later to race at Monza, because there was a championship to be won. He finished fourth. A reporter says that after the race, Lauda had to peel bloodsoaked bandages off his head. He went into the final race at Mt Fuji Circuit in Japan three points up on rival James Hunt. Due to terrible rains, he withdrew, stating it was too dangerous. He wound up losing the championship by one point. The courage it took to get back into the car only 40 days after nearly dying was immense... he has since said that he was absolutely terrified. In recent times, he'd been an adviser to Mercedes. He had a lung transplant last year, and was undergoing dialysis treatments of late when he died. I don't use the term "hero" very often, but we are not likely to see the level of heroic bravery it took for him to drive again. Fortunately, we are in a time where we most likely won't see similar circumstances arise.
Speaking of not seeing things, we won't be seeing Fernando Alonso in this year's Indy 500. The McLaren effort failed to give him a car able to qualify in the top 33, being bumped at the very last moment possible. I suppose if another team withdraws, he'd be allowed in, but... not likely to happen. I'll admit, that removes a lot of interest in the 500 for me, but what the hell, it's only once a year and it's THE biggest race in America. Right?
Then in the late afternoon/early evening, NASCAR brings us the Coca-Cola 600 from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. I have very little to say about this race; I haven't paid any attention to stock car racing this year at all. But it makes the three-race extravaganza complete, so it is not to be scoffed at.
Monaco is at 8am Pond Central, Indy around 11am, and the 600 is at 5pm. That makes it look like there's a few hours between the end of the 500 and the beginning of the NASCAR race, but wait! Some bright spark at ABC noticed that gap, and decided that we'll be seeing the Monaco GP on tape-delay on the network beginning right about 2pm. One could literally go from 11am to roughly 9pm watching autoracing. For those of us who prefer NOT to wait, ESPN2 will have Monaco at the correct time.
So... I've got chips. I've got gatorade. There will probably be pizza. Lets race!
May 08, 2019
Oh Look... Spa! In the past, during the various F1U!s for the Grand Prix of Belgium at Spa-Francopants, I've said that rain is always a possibility. That's just the way Spa do. This past weekend, the World Endurance Championship held the Six Hours of Spa, and the skies were quite nice to begin... but rain is always a possibility, right?
...I'm fairly sure I've never said SNOW was a possibility. Ye cats and little fishes.
Hey... LeMans is coming up, isn't it? Mid-June... hope it's gonna be on TV here, I can't find anything about who's broadcasting in the US.
April 13, 2019
F1 Quals: China 2019
Formula 1 believes this weekend to be the 1000th official Grand Prix. And it is, if you take into account the 11 Indianapolis 500 that were considered as part of the calendar. If you don't, stop being a Eurosnob and realize the FIA disagrees with you. So China becomes the 1000th race, and I'm sure that wasn't intentional in the least. Here's the provisional grid for the 2019 Grand Prix of China:
|5||Red Bull Racing||1:33.274||1:32.369||1:32.089|
|6||Red Bull Racing
|13||Alfa Romeo Racing
|NC||Alfa Romeo Racing
Sharp-eyed readers will notice that there's only 19 names listed. Good call! Mitch Albon managed to comprehensively destroy his Toro Rosso with only a couple minutes of Practice 3 remaining, and the team wasn't able to build up a new one for him in the couple of hours between then and Quals. While he didn't destroy his car, Alfa Romeo's Tony Snazzy had a serious power unit problem that the team couldn't repair in time to send him forth. What this means is that Williams avoided being on the last row for the first time this season!
You've also probably noticed that both Haas drivers DNF'd in Q3. That's because they got caught in a kerfluffle between Vettel and Verstappen right at the end of the session. The two "V" drivers were doing a "After you Alphonse, after you Gaston" routine, behaving in accordance to the the "unwritten rules" that state that drivers don't pass each other on track at in quals. After essentially blocking the track, Vettel decided that the Dutchman was going too slowly, charged past the Red Bull driver and raced around to the line in time to be able to take one more flying lap. Verstappen, for his part, has said that he had backed off to give himself room to the car ahead and Vettel prevented him from taking a final shot at pole. Meanwhile, both Haas drivers were blaming the "V" drivers for not being able to do their runs. The "good" news is that at most they'd likely be only able to move up a single spot on the grid. So probably no harm done. Verstappen would disagree, bitching that he could have improved on 5th.
So the race is tonight, at midnight here at The Pond... I'm unsure as to what the quality will be, there's been a lot of Mercedes running away so far. It's been a dusty track so far... apparently a huge cement plant is upwind of the complex... and that's made it a little hard on the tires so far. We shall see!
March 16, 2019
F1 Quals: Australia 2019
The first race of a new year is always interesting. Not just because Australia's circuit is rather radically different from most other on the calendar, but because hey! We've got F1 again! And nobody really knows what's in line for the year. Preseason testing didn't tell us anything we didn't already suspect (Mercedes and Ferrari are fast. Williams is not.), but you can never quite trusttesting results. SO the first qualifying session is where we finally get to see what's what... and here's the provisional grid for the 2019 Australian Grand Prix:
|4||Red Bull Racing
|13||Scuderia Toro Rosso
|15||Scuderia Toro Rosso
|17||Red Bull Racing
People honestly believed that the field had actually began to catch Mercedes. I mean, just look at those Q1 numbers: the first 15 cars were covered by less than a half-second, and the top 18 by less than one second. Now THAT'd be a season! Instead, everything changed when Merc kicked in their "party mode" and the cars became just that much faster.
Notable performances? No question but that rookie F1 driver Lando Calrissian stole the show, dragging his McLaren into Q3. The kid's like, 12 years old, but he can drive. At the other end of hte spectrum we find... Williams. Oy, what a disaster this is shaping up to be for the legendary house that Frank built. They missed part of pre-season testing because htey couldn't pass the mandatory crash testing, they had to redesign part of the car because the old parts might not have passed scruitineering... all this from a team that has over 800 people working for them, including some of England's best engineers. And even they get it all wrong sometimes.
Race is in a few hours, F1U! sometime thereafter... in some format. See ya then!
March 14, 2019
Charlie Whiting 1952 - 2019 Just before the start of the 2019 season, the Formula 1 world has suffered a terrible loss. On Thursday, Race Director Charlie Whiting passed away from a pulmonary embolism. He was 66.
Whiting was the go-to guy for any team complaints during a race, but he also oversaw everything on the tech side of the sport. A new track could not be certified as a Grade 1 (suitable for F1) circuit without his final approval. His was the call to stop a race, or to resume racing, during weather incidents. In many ways, he did not just know the rulebook, he wrote it. He was a tireless crusader for car and driver safety, presiding over the addition of both the HANS device and the new HALO system. The combination of him and Sid Watkins did much to keep drivers alive and in one piece.
Despite such power in the sport, all reports say that he was very much just a guy who loved Formula 1. However, he very rarely gave interviews so the fans didn't really know him. Look, this is the sort of person he was: he loved the "Fake Charlie Whiting" twitter account. It was a very gentle satire of the subject, but really made fun of the sport more than anything else. In fact, he liked the account so much, he met the person behind it many times and had many e-mail exchanges with him. I have a hard time seeing, say, Jean Todt, do the same.
As far as what this means for the race weekend, and the upcoming season as a whole, former V8 Supercars deputy race director Michael Masi will be filling in this weekend. I expect to see similar substitutions through the season unless they name a replacement right away. I have no idea who Whiting's second-in-command was, or even if there WAS such a person: in the 20 years he was Race Director for F1, he presided over more than 400 race weekends.
His loss leaves a huge hole in the sport, one that won't be easily filled. We here at F1Update! extend our condolences to his family, friends, and the F1 world in general.
November 24, 2018
F1 Quals: Abu Dhabi 2018
Race in the morning. See you sometime afterwards!
Even though it rained a few days ago, it's pretty safe to say that the weather in Abu Dhabi was hot and dry... though humid and cooling off because of a fairly strong breeze. Still, pretty decent for today's session. Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi:
|5||Red Bull Racing
|6||Red Bull Racing||1:37.195||1:36.144||1:35.589|
|9||Force India Mercedes||1:36.936||1:36.814||1:36.540|
|14||Force India Mercedes||1:37.255||1:37.541|
This is the first time in F1 history that a team has had five consecutive front-row lockouts at a track. Yeah, Mercedes likes Yas Marina. This is also Hamilton's 11th pole of the season. 11 out of 21 races... we're really watching one of the all-time greats, you know that? Sure, the car helps, but Lewis Hamilton seriously has a chance to be the best in F1 history. Now we just need to see if his engine holds up. Apparently his power unit was riding the ragged edge of annihilation for much of the race in Brazil, and it definitely suffered some damage. How much? The team isn't sure themselves. Either it'll hold together, or it will go kablammo and be Hamilton's first engine failure all year.
It seems very unlikely, but Haas still has a chance to finish fourth in the Constructor's Championship. They just need to score 24 points more than Renault. Remember, the points system is 25/18/15/12/10/8/6/4/2/1. It's hard to imagine a realistic scenario where Haas scores 24 points, period, let alone outscore Renault by that much. But I guess it's not impossible.
Race in the morning. See you sometime afterwards!
November 23, 2018
F1 on TV: Abu Dhabi 2018 And so we come to the end. The last race of the season is upon us, and with it the ending of a legendary career. But first, here's the track map of the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi:
No real changes to the layout, but one big change to the curbs. In the past, Turn 20 has been infamous for the track limits being ignored. It was common... normal... to see cars running so wide that they were practically only on the curbs, not on the asphalt. This year, a new "sausage" curb has been installed, and mark my words, someone is going to badly damage their car on it either in quals or during the race. It's high enough that a car will grind away most of its floor if it spends much time on it. Indeed, DH Verstappen did exactly that in Practice 2 today, though the extend of the damage is unknown to me.
Sadly, this is the final F1 race weekend for Fernando Alonso, who is moving on to do... other racing things that aren't F1. It's not because of the way McLaren has blown chunks the past few years and thus deprived him of any chance at all of another championship... or even of one more win... just ask him! However, that can't be 100% true. He's still a top-level driver, after all... anybody doubt that if he was in a Ferrari or Mercedes he'd be a championship contender? I've gotta admit, he's rehabilitated himself in my eyes. This is the man that for years was nicknamed HWMNBN for his $100 million backstab of McLaren a decade ago. And yet, he's escaped that moniker.
Also, just officially announced on Thursday, Williams is bringing Robert Kubica back as a driver in 2019. It's a great story for Formula 1. Great young star terribly injured in a crash, works his way back to the top level of racing despite his right arm having had nearly 14000 surgeries (I exaggerate). I'm on record stating that I think he's an idiot, and he was over four seconds slower than the fastest car today in Practice 1... allegedly they were doing setup work... and from watching the in-car cameras his right hand appears to be useless. He's doing all the shifting, both up and down, and all the adjustments on the steering wheel, with his left hand. His right hand is just keeping the wheel straight while he does all that.
Anyway, yeah, I mean, I hope it works out for Williams and Kubica, I really do... even if I don't think he deserves to be back in the seat, it's still a fantastic human interest story. Who knows, perhaps he'll surprise us all.
Quals in the morning... see ya then!
November 10, 2018
F1 Quals: Brazil '66 in 2018
I don't understand Formula 1 anymore. First it rained but nobody seemed to care. Then drivers forgot how to drive, but nobody was penalized. Then a driver decided to break everything in a fit of pique, and he didn't get a grid penalty. Then it didn't rain but everybody freaked out anyway. And then the announcers thought one of the lakes was rain. Brazil: if you're not confused, you're not in Brazil! Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Brazil '66:
|5||Red Bull Racing||1:08.205||1:08.017||1:07.778|
|6||Frowny||Red Bull Racing
|10||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1:09.046||1:08.616||1:09.029|
|12||Lawsuit||Force India Mercedes||1:09.217||1:08.741|
|13||Force India Mercedes||1:09.264||1:08.770|
|17||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1:09.280|
I said that I didn't understand F1 anymore, and this Quals session just made that totally clear in that I couldn't follow what was actually going on. Nothing seemed to be happening the way I'm used to and I can't quite put my finger on why. The only thing I got out of it is that Ferrari got sneaky, managed to qualify on the hardest rubber compound in Q2, while everybody else was on either the softest or the medium. So not only will Ferrari be fast, and at the top of the grid, but they'll be able to go longer than anybody else in the Top 10, too.
Fortunately for DA Vettel, he's not going to get penalized for his little contretemps in Q2. See, cars are randomly selected during Quals to be weighed during the sessions, just to make sure everybody is conforming to standards... and since it's random, you can't cheat without risking getting ejected. Vettel was selected as he was coming in for new tires, which caused a little problem. See, it was looking like rain, so you really wanted to get laps done before the moisture made the track undriveable. So Vettel hurried over to the weighbridge, which was blocked by an orange cone... don't move in until the cone is removed... and promptly kicked the cone into another city. Then he drove onto the scale pads and did NOT turn off his engine, which is required. He then started waving his hands in the air like he was trying to land a Dauntless on a carrier. Eventually he got settled, the car was weighed, and he drove off to his pits, screaming a blue streak as he went. Except those scale pads? They're NOT designed to be used as takeoff points, so his rear wheels basically kicked them in the opposite direction from the one the cone went. This destroys the weighbridge. For a while, it looked like DA Vettel was going to be kicked out of Quals. Then there was thought he'd get a grid penalty. As it turned out, he was hit with a €25000 fine and a non-driving reprimand, which means he was taken to the principals office and hit on the hands with a ruler. Oh, why "DA"? It stands for "dumb@ss," which he's proven to be this season. Wear it with pride, DA.
Race in the noonish on ESPN2, I think. See ya then and there.
November 09, 2018
F1 on TV: Brazil '66... 2018 Yep, Brazil. Home of Interlagos, "Between The Lakes." Also one of only two places that drivers have been attacked via attempted hijacking recently... and the other one was in the middle of a revolution at the time, so take from that what you will. Here's the track map.
Apparently the start/finish line has been moved. Or more correctly, I saw video footage of the start/finish line being waterblasted off the track surface, I only assume they put down a new one. I hope they did... an infinitely long Brazillian Grand Prix would drive me to drink... poison.
In other less-than-important news, it appears that Williams may or may not have offered Robert Kubica a race seat next year. There's been so many differnet headlines, tweets, and other posts popping up that I don't think anybody is really sure what's what. As much as I liked Koobs back in the day... the only Pole in F1... I am currently of the opinion that he's a f*cking moron who doesn't deserve to be offered a drive in a taxi, let alone in F1. This is a driver who was anointed as The Golden Child. He had a win at the 2008 Canadian GP a year after having that amazing wreck there. He was actually tabbed as being the best pure driver in F1 in 2011... better than Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, all of 'em. He had Formula 1 in the palm of his hand. It was only a matter of time before he won a championship. Kinda like DH Verstappen, just with a bigger nose and lips smaller than his entire head.
And then he threw it all away in a stupid piss-ant rally race in Italy. He was there because "racers gotta race," and he wanted to go racing. And then he managed to impale his car on the end of a metal highway barrier which ripped up his leg and nearly amputated his hand and his arm. Surgery saved them, and they function.. but only a little bit. Go ahead, guess which arm was damaged. So instead of becoming the King of F1, he became the King of Arm Surgeries, having something like 17 in total. And now he might be back. Dumb*ss threw away what could have been a special career just because he wanted to go hooning a Skoda around the Italian countryside. Moron.
Race is on Sunday, Quals are tomorrow. More then!
October 27, 2018
F1 Quals: Mexico 2018
I bet you thought I'd forgotten, didn't you? I just bet you did. Nope, I didn't! And a good thing, too... we went from the best race of the season last weekend at Austin to the best Qualifying session of the season here in Mexico City! Here's the track map:
Two DRS zones, but only one detection zone. I didn't notice that last year, or the year before, but it appears to have been the case. Well, god help you if you've got a car closer than a second behind you when you hit Turn 15, because it'll be a good bit ahead of you by the time you reach Turn 04. Cars were reaching 215mph or more down that long, long, long front straight today, and the announcers even said 230mph once, which I didn't believe. So what was the result for Quals today? Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Mexico:
|1||Red Bull Racing||1:15.866||1:15.845||1:14.759|
|2||Red Bull Racing||1:15.756||1:15.640||1:14.785|
|11||Force India Mercedes||1:16.252||1:16.844|
|13||Force India Mercedes||1:16.242||1:17.167|
|14||Scuderia Toro Rosso
|15||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1:16.828||DNS|
It was all there for him. DH Verstappen was on pole after the first runs in Q3, and it wasn't even close. He was all set to break Seb Vettel's record as the youngest polesitter in F1 history. The announcers were splooging all over the place with unrestrained glee. To be fair, Verstappen had just turned in something of a Lap For The Ages, they all had reason to be excited... maybe not THAT excited, but excited.
And then something funny happened... they ran the rest of Q3. I know, what a stunning development, who woulda thought? If Verstappen's lap was one for the record books, and in fact it was the fastest lap around the Mexico City circuit ever, Smiley Ricciardo's final hot lap in Q3 was something for a new record book altogether. Somehow he managed to knock SIX TENTHS OF A SECOND off his lap time... and oh by the way, he took Verstappen's pole away in the process. You know how the FIA producer usually gets the radio call from the pit wall to the driver telling him he had pole, and the driver would respond with usually restrained happiness? Not this time. We didn't even need the producer piping the sound in, I could hear Smiley's scream of joy up here in Duckford... some sort of weird acoustic trick caused by the Grand Canyon, I gather. The tone in Verstappen's voice was chilly when David Coulthard's Chin asked him about missing out on the record when it looked so very like it would be his.
Other than all that and the Mercedes/Ferrari battle, which looked so... boring... today, qualifying was pretty much the usual sort of thing. Oh, it's certainly surprising that neither Haas made it out of Q1, and yes, it's very surprising that Red Bull locked out Row 1, but... well. The Red Bulls were something like 7 or 8 mph down vs the Mercs through the speed trap, but they made up the time lost and more on the twistybits. IF the two of them can avoid killing each other off the start, there's a chance they'll be able to keep Hamilton, et al, behind them into Turn 1. If that happens, well, who knows? But if the faster cars get by, it'll just be another ho-hum finish for the Austrian team. I can easily imagine seeing cars four abreast into the braking zone for Turn 1 after the start.
Hamilton doesn't need to take chances, of course. Sure, he'd very much like to win... but to win the driver's championship, all he has to do is finish 7th or better and it won't matter what Vettel does. In any case, Vettel needs to win out, and I just don't see that happening right now.
Race is in the afternoon sometime... I'm confused as to when, as Mexico ends Daylight Savings Time at 2am Sunday morning... check your local listing for times in your area. And we'll see you afterwards!
October 22, 2018
F1U USA MIA So I came home right after work tonight, all set to sit down and pound out the F1U for the 2018 US Grand Prix (best race of the year!), and...
...things happened. Suddenly it's time for bed, and I didn't do nuthin' but the first sentence.
It deserves more time than a tiny bit. I'll have it up on Tuesday, I hope. What a race!
October 20, 2018
F1 Quals: United States 2018
The skies above Austin were leaden and grey, and a gusty wind blew cold across the Texas landscape. It wasn't raining, but it had been doing so off-and-on all day. The track still had some pavement that was the darker shade such things get when it had been wet but wasn't really anymore. Any glance at the heavens, though, would be enough to convince a racegoer that it was only a matter of time.... Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 United States Grand Prix:
|5||Red Bull Racing
|6||Force India Mercedes||1:34.876||1:34.522||1:34.145|
|10||Force India Mercedes||1:35.193||1:34.525||1:34.594|
|13||Scuderia Toro Rosso
|14||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1:35.206||DNS|
|15||Red Bull Racing||1:34.766||No Time
A reminder that Vettel has received a three-grid-place penalty and will be starting fifth... which is just about as good as he could have hoped, really. At least his teammate will be taking his place on the grid; for a while there, one could have been forgiven for thinking that Kimi Raikkonen was an actual threat for pole today. He wasn't though... nobody was, because the Circuit of the Americas may as well be Silverstone West to Lewis Hamilton. It's his third consecutive pole position in Austin, and at least in my eyes there was really never any doubt that he'd get it. Oh sure, he was third in Q2, but only by a half-second or so... for a driver of his ability that's nothing. And so it proved. No real drama in Q3, either.
The only surprise on the day wasn't even a surprise, not in the way you think of one. DH Verstappen broke his right-rear suspension going over a sleeping policeman in Q1... while he was fast enough to carry on into Q2, the team was unable to repair the damage in time for him to continue... which leads one to think that the damage is more than just the suspension. A suspension change is hardly an easy task, but Red Bull had about 20 minutes to work with... an eternity in F1 terms. No, you've got to believe that there's more damage involved, like to the gearbox or driveshaft. I'm not going to cry any great amount of tears... particularly since, in a way, the curbs he hit were put there because of his abuse of track limits in 2017.
So, there you have it. The race is on ABC tomorrow, keep watching the skies!
Oh, and just FYI? It did begin to rain just after Qualifying ended. Not heavily, not that the TV audience saw, but there were spots showing up on various cameras around the circuit as Hamilton et al. took their victory laps. There's no rain forecast for tomorrow, but...
October 19, 2018
F1 on TV: UNITED STATES RED WHITE AND BLUE HOT DOGS APPLE PIE AND HAAS F1!!! *ahem*
Sorry, my patriotism is showing. Heh. So the Circus is in Austin Texas this week, Lewis Hamilton has a chance to clinch the driver's championship, and it's raining. That might prove an interesting combination come Sunday. Here's the track map:
Hasn't changed since the first time they raced here, though they did add a new DRS detection zone since then. The unofficially-named-but-it-should-totally-be-called Phil Hill up to Turn 01 is still the dominant feature of the circuit, but what I'm considering nicknaming The Wobbles (Turns 03 - 09) is a signature as well. No, literally, that's how Hermann Tilke signs his name.
Since this is the United States Grand Prix, we'll be getting coverage on The Big Network this time around... the race will be on ABC! P3 and Quals are on ESPNews, though. Check your locals for time in your place of abode. Here at Pond Central, the race is at 1pm.
It's starting to look a lot more like Vettel's done for this weekend. He's been handed a three-spot grid penalty for not slowing down enough during a red flag in practice today. This is consistent with other such penalties, it's just awful timing for the German who's been making quite a few mistakes of late.. Throw in expected rain during Quals, Lewis Hamilton's all-encompassing superiority in the rain, and his utter domination of the Circuit of the Americas, and... well.
Quals is in the late afternoon, report afters, see ya then! Byeeeeeeeee!
October 06, 2018
F1 Quals: Japan 2018
Rain. Rain is the great equalizer in Formula 1. Rain can take a bad car and make it... not as bad. Rain can take a good car and make it into tiny pieces of carbon fiber. It makes heroes out of drivers that may not have gotten attention before, and it can take luster away from otherwise well-appreciated ones. Rain simply adds another level of difficulty to an already hard sport.
It rained today at Suzuka. Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Japan:
|3||Red Bull Racing
|15||Red Bull Racing||1:29.806||No Time
Q1 was mostly dry...ish. It rained before the session had begun and the track was decidedly greasy... for example, Seb Vettel actually spun in the Hairpin, a very low-speed place indeed. He was simply trundling along when the rear of his car slowly and gracefully attempted to become the front of the car. He was going 60kph at the time. "Greasy" is the appellation most feared in F1... neither truly dry nor truly wet, it is too slippery for slicks, yet it chews up intermediate rain tires like someone is applying pumice to them. Sony Ericsson was caught by The Greasy and sent off into a wall, which brought out a red flag as the workers recovered his Sauber from the kittylitter. A round of applause is due the Renault mechanics who managed to slap Nico Hulkenberg's car back together after he did a rather comprehensive job of disassembling it right at the end of Practice 3... meaning they only had a couple of hours to do their work.
One must feel for Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, who through no fault of his own has now missed out on Q3 approximately 3200 times this year. Today it was a broken accelerator cable, apparently, that prevented him from doing anything in Q2, and sent him to the motorhome screaming with rage inside his helmet... completely out of character for the lovable Aussie. His nickname is "The Honey Badger", but it really should be "The Quokka".
But the best/worst of Qualifying came in Q3. It had become more greasy towards the end of Q2, and in the few minutes between sessions the teams had to make a decision on what tires to send their cars out on. Mercedes made the last-second decision to put their drivers on slicks. Ferrari went out on intermediates. It was quickly discovered that Merc had made the correct choice; they were loads faster than the red cars. The Italian team brought their men back in for slicks at the end of what should have been their warm-up lap. While their rivals were in the pits, the silver cars went out and set fairly reasonable times. Ferrari went back out, got through their warmup lap, and began their first hot lap of the session...
...and then it began to drizzle. Not badly, but enough that Vettel made a rain-induced error during his hot lap. The track became too wet for slicks, and nobody was going to improve their times on rain tires. Mercedes' gamble had paid off in the biggest way possible, and you could hear the door slamming on Vettel's title hopes after the session ended.
The Race is just after midnight... F1U! sometime Sunday. See ya then.
October 04, 2018
F1 on TV: Japan 2018 How out of it have I been lately? I forgot that Japan is 14 hours ahead of Pond Central Time, and thus all broadcasts are a LOT earlier than normal. Since I've been up until at least 3am all week for reasons that defy explanation, I need to crash and crash fast. So without further ado, here's the trackmap:
I am of the opinion that if there was no Suzuka, we would have to invent it. In all the years I've been watching F1, I've never heard a driver hate on the track... the weather, yes, but not the track itself. Heck, usually the weather is a good thing, giving us such classic moments as the great Suzuka Boat Races. And one really really awful moment.
Maybe we don't want rain. Let's not have rain, okay? Let's just skip that part.
Quals are late friday night/early saturday morning... I'll have something up sometime thereafter. The race is late saturday/early sunday. I have no idea when I'm going to watch it. Live? Later Sunday? I literally don't know. We'll have a voyage of discovery together!
September 29, 2018
F1 Quals: Russia 2018
Oh look, here's a surprise, we've never seen that front row before. *eye roll* Here's the provisonal grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Mother Russia:
|6||Force India Mercedes||1:34.290||1:33.596||1:33.413|
|8||Force India Mercedes||1:34.084||1:33.923||1:33.563|
|11||Red Bull Racing
|12||Red Bull Racing
Yeah, welcome back to Mercedes being unstoppable in Quals again. Yes, you might be saying that the track here in Sochi is particularly well-suited to the Mercedes, and you'd be right. I suspect, however, that's its more than that... that Mercedes has caught up to a Ferrari chassis that, to be honest, was the best in the first half of the year. Certainly they managed to make their car and tires work today. The Ferraris looked... clumsy... around the turns today, like more "point and squirt" than "smooth arc". That can work at some circuits. Not, apparently, here.
The only saving grace of Quals was that Bottas beat his teammate to pole. The Finn apparently just loves this track, always doing well... heck, he won last year. He's also never been outqualified by his teammate here ever. Some drivers have tracks they love... Valterri Bottas loves Russia.
You may note a LOT of "No Time" listings there in Q2. Renault, looking like dogmeat around here for whatever reason, decided to not waste rubber in a futile attempt to do... something. As a bonus, they get to choose what tire they'll start with, so they've got that going for them. Which is nice. Both Red Bulls and Ghastly's Toro Rosso have taken new engines/power units/whatever, as since they've all gone over their season limit of three engines/power units/whatever, they all get dropped to the back of the grid. Again, what you're seeing above is the provisional grid, the real lineup for the last 10 places will be different.
Race in the morning, F1U! sometime thereafter. Pray for a good race.more...
September 28, 2018
F1 on TV: Russia 2018 Nope, didn't forget, just never got around to it! Here's the track map for the 2018 Grand Prix of All The Russias:
The only race in which the winners get bottles of vodka and the grid girls wear track suits. Really, this race has been cursed from the beginning. 2014 was the first race after Jules Bianchi had his wreck and nobody wanted to be there. 2015 saw a truck dump a load of diesel fuel onto the racing surface in P1, heavy rain in P2, and Carlos Sainz going under the tecpro barriers and partially through the armco in P3. 2016 had a wacky wreckfest in Turn 2 of the first lap, which claimed Seb Vettel. And 2017 was just bad.
So I'm not exactly expecting a great race on Sunday. Maybe we'll get lucky! Quals in the morning!
September 15, 2018
F1 Quals: Singapore 2018
As usual, the night was warm and humid at the Singapore street circuit. Despite it being 9pm, it was still in the mid-80s with high humidity. Not for nothing do they say that this is the hardest race physically for the drivers. So who faced down this sweaty monster? Who conquered its 23 turns? Here's the provisional grid for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Singapore:
|2||Red Bull Racing||1:38.751||1:37.214||1:36.334|
|6||Red Bull Racing||1:38.153||1:37.406||1:36.996|
|7||Force India Mercedes||1:38.814||1:38.342||1:37.985|
|9||Force India Mercedes||1:38.912||1:38.534||1:38.365|
On a night where the preferred tires were taking two laps to warm up, and where the fastest tires would die if you pushed them hard for an entire lap, Ferrari spit the bit. Going in, there was no reason to think that at least Vettel would be on the front row. Instead, Red Bull discovered that if you press the right-hand pedal, the car goes faster.
And then, there was Lewis. After nearly failing to making it out of Q1 due to a Mercedes tactical error, he turned in a Lap For The Ages. Where it came from is unknown... even the team was baffled. "Magic," said Lewis. "Sprinkled with stardust" was team principal Toto Wolff's description. "F*ck off and die," was Seb Vettel's take. And it came on his first hot lap, too. It was just left there, waiting for someone to knock it off. Nobody did. Nobody could.
How astonishing was this lap? Of course it's a new lap record, that's been happening all season. But it was better than THREE SECONDS faster than last year's pole time. All this in a car that, frankly, had looked a little dog-like this weekend.
The grid does look awfully entertaining however... and look who's sitting in the second spot: DH Verstappen. Last year his presence led to both Ferraris crashing out, essentially on the first turn. And here we see an increasingly desperate appearing Seb Vettel in third, knowing that with seven races left he needs very badly to outrace Hamilton if he wants a chance to win the championship. I'm almost expecting a lot of red and pewter carbon fiber to be spewed in the first corner.
Race is in the morning, see ya afterwards!
September 13, 2018
F1 on TV: Singapore 2018 Gotta be quick about this one, I have to be back at work too soon. So here's the track map for the Original Night Race, Singapore!
Last year's race saw rain for the first time in history, and the classic wreck of both Ferraris on the first lap. Rain is NOT expected during Quals or the race this year, but that's what they said last year, too. We shall see.
In more important news, the Silly Season hit its climax recently when Ferrari announced that Charles AMX-30 will be paired with Seb Vettel in 2019, leaving Kimi Raikkonen out in the cold so to speak. Until about 15 minutes after the announcement, that is. At that point, the Finn announced he'll be driving for Sauber in 2019 and 2020. So essentially the teams swapped drivers. Makes sense, it's not like Sauber uses Ferrari engines or anything.
On the face of it, Kimi's getting a demotion. Being the #2 driver at Ferrari is pretty much better than being the #1 driver at anywhere else but Mercedes and (maybe) Red Bull. However, a closer look reveals some interesting things to think about. It's clear that Raikkonen is still a good driver, if maybe not as fast as his first Ferrari go-round. On the other hand, Sauber hasn't had a knock-down Ace of a driver since 2009 when Robert (the stupid idiot moron) Kubica was in the car (back when they were BMW-Sauber). Further, they haven't had THIS GOOD of a driver for a full season since 2005, when Jack Newhouse was on the team. I don't know if the 2019 car is going to be any good, but having an experienced driver like Kimi helping them with development has no downside whatsoever.
And of course he's still the laff-a-minnit Finn we've always known. In today's driver interviews, he was asked if he still had "the hunger to race." His response? "No, actually! I'm just playing head games with you guys, deciding to sign for two years and not be happy!" Also someone asked "It wasn't your decision to leave Ferrari but it was your decision to go back to Sauber, just tell us why?" "Why not?" Comedy gold right there.
Right, Quals on Saturday, race on Sunday, see you 'round Space Cowboy!
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