April 25, 2017

F1 on TV: Russia 2017

Russia.  Sochi.  Боже мой.


What's there to say about Sochi?  It looks like it should be fun, but it's proven to be a dog in reality.  2016's race lasted exactly two turns before Nico Rosberg ran away with it.  2015 went to Lewis Hamilton, but only after Seb Vettel nearly killed a track marshal that had run out in front of him.  2014 was the first race after Jules Bianchi's accident, and nobody wanted to be there.  Too many right-angle turns ruins the flow of the circuit, never letting the drivers get into a groove.  It's also proven to be remarkably gentle on tires, though of course we've got new compounds this year.  I expect the new aero packages to not be of much importance here... it helps on turns, yes, but not stupid-slow ones like Turns 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18.  Which is most of them.

Well, the proud tartars of the Legendary Announce Team will do their level best to cover the race, lest the gulag beckon.  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Practice 2: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Quals:  7a - 9a  live on CNBC
2017 Grand Prix of Russia: 7a - 10a live on NBCSN

All times are Pond Central.  Make your adjustments accordingly.  Afterwards, F1Update! will be along eventually.  I'm sure you're thrilled by this announcement.  See you then!

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April 16, 2017

Bahrain 2017 Gonna Be Delayed

This has been one of those days where you start out behind the clock when you wake up and just fall farther and farther behind the longer the day goes on.  But I got my taxes done, and thanks again to H&R Block for their wonderful website... they've made the unpleasant chore of doing your federal taxes easy, and the downright evil chore of doing Illinois' taxes even easier.  After that, though, there were little glitches here and there throughout the day that, in the end, saw me not watching Bahrain until late afternoon.  A much needed nap didn't end until 1030pm this evening, and dammit, I want to watch some anime this week.

So the F1U for Bahrain is going to be delayed for a day.  While you wait, here's the Easter Bunny just destroying Teddy Roosevelt for your enjoyment and here's the sequel to last year's greatest baseball commercial.

Thanks for waiting.

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April 15, 2017

F1 Quals: Bahrain 2017

Of all the results I imagined I'd see when I got home from work/lunch today, I gotta admit, I didn't expect this one.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Bahrain:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:31.041 1:29.555 1:28.769
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.814 1:29.535 1:28.792
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:31.037 1:29.596 1:29.247
4 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:31.667 1:30.497 1:29.545
5 Mumbles Räikkönen Ferrari 1:30.988 1:29.843 1:29.567
6 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:30.904 1:30.307 1:29.687
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:31.057 1:30.169 1:29.842
8 Felipe Not Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:31.373 1:30.677 1:30.074
9 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:31.691 1:30.857 1:30.763
10 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:31.458 1:30.899 1:31.074
11 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:31.531 1:30.923
12 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:31.748 1:31.168
13 Pascal's Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:31.995 1:31.414
14 False Esteban Force India Mercedes 1:31.774 1:31.684
15 Indy Alonso McLaren Honda 1:32.054 DNF
16 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:32.118

17 Snuffy Vandoorne McLaren Honda 1:32.313

18 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:32.318

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:32.543

20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:32.900

This is Valtteri Bottas' first career pole, and it's his own damn bad luck it had to come at Bahrain, where starting second is actually better.  That's the clean side of the track, as it turns out.  Still, you gotta hand it to him... it isn't everybody that can say they beat Hamilton to the pole anywhere!

There's nothing particularly shocking in the rest of the grid.  However, we do now know who will be replacing Indy Alonso when he comes to America instead of going to Moncao:  Jenson "I'm Not Retired Yet Either" Button.

Race at a normal time tomorrow morning... F1U! sometime afterwards!  See ya then.

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Quals will be late...

Just to give y'all a head's-up... I'm back on mandatory overtime at work, 10 hours minimum.  When quals is going on, I'll be at work, trying to get four or five of those hours on the clock.  Then I'm having a late lunch with Ph.Duck and his wife, RN(ret).Duck... I don't expect to be home until 4pm at the earliest, probably closer to 5pm.  I'll get the grid up asap.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em...

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April 13, 2017

F1 on TV: Bahrain 2017

Okay, let's get this out of the way quickly to get to the big news.  Here's the track map for the Grand Prix of Bahrain:

Here's the broadcast schedule, courtesy of the Legendary Announce Team:

Practice 2: 10a - 1130a  live on NBCSN
Quals: 1130a - 1p  live on NBCSN
2017 Grand Prix of Bahrain:  10a - 1230p  live on CNBC

All times Pond Central.  Make sure you pay attention to the race being on CNBC.

Now, for the big news:

Fernando Alonso is going to miss Monaco.  Turns out he's got another gig that day.

You may have heard of it.  It's not been much of a secret that Alonso is frustrated as hell with the way his return to McLaren has gone, what with the car and engine sucking and all.  He's making a push for Racing's Triple Crown: wins at Monaco, Indy, and LeMans.  He'll be driving with the backing of McLaren-Honda, as part of the Andretti Motorsport stable.  Alonso says he'll only miss the one race, and will retake his seat in Canada a few weeks later.  We'll see.

The IndyCar world is stoked about this, too:

This is just f****** awesome. Welcome! - JR Hildebrand

Woo. I get to race against Fernando Alonso now that is cool. - Sage Karam

Obviously you need some balls to do it. I think that Alonso will handle it well. - Mikhail Aleshin

Welcome to the fastest motor race in the world Fernando Alonso! Great to have a world champion on the grid. - Max Chilton, former F1 driver

We’ll see how he comes up to speed and stuff like that but I’m sure he’ll be fine. Alex (Rossi) won it, it’s a decent comparison, I think, to him. - Marco Andretti, making this the first time Alexander Rossi has been compared in any way to Fernando Alonso.

If I were to give Fernando Alonso some advice into really getting ingrained in the Andretti Autosport team, I think it’s actually going to be pretty easy. He already knows Takuma Sato and Alexander Rossi from their stints in F1. So that’s done and dusted.  I don’t know if he’s a fisherman but he maybe should brush up on that a little bit because all Ryan Hunter-Reay really talks about is boats. Other than that I think it’s going to be pretty easy for him. - James Hinchcliffe

Indy just became a must-watch.

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April 08, 2017

F1 Quals: China 2017

For a wonder, it didn't rain!  In many ways, that's great!  Fantastic!  Wonderful!  In other ways, though, it means that there weren't going to be any monkey wrenches thrown into the works and thing'll go the way they have for the past few years.  Here's the provisional grid:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.333 1:32.406 1:31.678
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:33.078 1:32.391 1:31.864
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:33.684 1:32.552 1:31.865
4 Mumbles Räikkönen Ferrari 1:33.341 1:32.181 1:32.140
5 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:34.041 1:33.546 1:33.033
6 Felipe Not Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:34.205 1:33.759 1:33.507
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:34.453 1:33.636 1:33.580
8 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:34.657 1:33.920 1:33.706
9 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:34.440 1:34.034 1:33.719
10 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:33.986 1:34.090 1:34.220
11 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:34.567 1:34.150
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:34.942 1:34.164
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:34.499 1:34.372
14 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:34.892 1:35.046
15 Tony Snazzy Sauber Ferrari 1:34.963 DNP

16 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Honda 1:35.023

17 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:35.223

18 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:35.279

19 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing

20 False Esteban Force India Mercedes 1:35.496

Okay, yes Lewis Hamilton is on pole... again... but the gap back to Vettel's Ferrari is less than .200 of a second.  Which means essentially nothing, as it appears that the Red Cars have better race pace than single-lap.  I'm personally amazed that Bottas is .001 seconds behind... how can two cars be so closely matched?  Did the Finn turn a little too hard at one place?  Did he not get on the gas fast enough?  What???

The first four cars on the grid broke the all-time track record, set by Slappy Schumacher in 2004, of 1:32.238.  Again, that was the V10 era with practically no limits on what sort of aero protuberances you could have...

In other performances of note, Embryo Verstappen was dealing with an engine software issue when Sauber's Tony Snazzy did bad things to his car and the track barriers.  All he could manage was 19th as a result.  Haas's Lettuce Grosjean spun, suffered a puncture, then was dinged for not slowing down in the waved-double-yellow area caused by Snazzy's wreck.  He'll be starting from the back.

Everything else was pretty standard, which is pretty impressive considering the near-total lack of practice time on Friday.  All of this means we should be in for an exciting race on Sunday when the rains come... and yes, rain is predicted.  Buckle them there seatbelts!

F1U! will be along sometime on Sunday.  See ya then-ish!

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April 05, 2017

F1 on NBCSN: China 2017

Shanghai... The Pearl of the Orient.  The showpiece of the Chinese economy.  The most populous city proper in the world.  So why the hell can't it sell out the Formula 1 Grand Prix of China???  Here's the trackmap:

Same as it's been since 2004.  Longest straightaway in F1.  I love that Turns 1-4 complex, for whatever reason.  It just looks like Hermann Tilke threw a french curve on his drafting table and said "yep, that's good."  Or his cat got involved.  Whatever, it's not my favorite circuit on the calendar, but it's hardly my least favorite.  It's just... there.  And while you would think that the new aero rules will turn this circuit on its ear, I've seen a report that estimates that the cars are going to be something like three kilograms short on fuel.  With the increased drag and higher engine output guzzling petrol, they think the cars can't legally have enough gas on board to finish the race!  They can carry 105kg, but will need 108.  Lift and coast, lift and coast... and hope for safety cars and rain.  Well, there's a slight chance of rain at least for race day.  That'll keep down the smog at least.

Speaking of race day, the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their level best to make everything exciting!  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Practice 2: 1am - 230am live on NBCSN
Quals: 2am - 330am  live on NBCSN
Grand Prix of China: 1230a - 330am  live on NBCSN

...of course, all times are Pond Central.  Sometime after the race, the F1Update! team will get off their lazy kiesters and do their usual writeup.  Or something.  We'll see you then, then!

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March 25, 2017

F1 Quals: Australia 2017

It is a before one can race, you must qualify, and that's why the F1 Circus found themselves in Melbourne this afternoon... to begin the 2017 Formula 1 season! Here's the provisional grid for the Grand Prix of Australia!

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:24.191 1:23.251 1:22.188
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:25.210 1:23.401 1:22.456
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:24.514 1:23.215 1:22.481
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:24.352 1:23.376 1:23.033
5 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:24.482 1:24.092 1:23.485
6 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:25.419 1:24.718 1:24.074
7 Felipe Not Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:25.099 1:24.597 1:24.443
8 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:25.542 1:24.997 1:24.487
9 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:25.970 1:24.864 1:24.512
10 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:25.383 1:23.989 DNF
11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:25.064 1:25.081
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:24.975 1:25.091
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:25.872 1:25.425
14 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:26.009 1:25.568
15 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:26.236 1:26.465
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Sauber Ferrari 1:26.419

17 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:26.847

18 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Honda 1:26.858

19 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:27.143

20 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:28.244

The more things change, the more they don't change.  Or something like that.  Is anybody really surprised that Lewis Hamilton is on pole?  What might be surprising is that the top three cars would break the track lap record if they turned it during the race.  These cars are fast.  We saw a lot of fishtailing and/or spins during the practice sessions and quals, and in most of those cases it looked like the grip just went away for no reason.  It may be more sinister than that... new compound tires and faster cars?  Hmm... I wonder.

I think the biggest surprise was the difference in performance between Haas teammates Lettuce Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.  Lettuce is a good'un, we know that, but KMag is a useful driver too.  Nearly 1.5 seconds difference in ostensibly the same car?  That's huge, and the difference between Q1 and Q3.

Please note the name at #16, Antonio Giovinazzi, who is pushin' to be called Tony Snazzy.  He's the reserve driver for both Ferrari and Sauber, and is filling in for Pascal Wehrlein.  Wehrlein injured his back during preseason testing, and while he's okay, he wasn't able to work on his fitness during that time.  After driving in the first two practice sessions, he said to the team "I can't do it... the g-forces are beating the hell out of my soft flabby body."  Probably.  In any case, he took himself out of the seat for the race and Tony Snazzy stepped in on zero notice.  He ran in P3, then went right into Quals... and only just missed out on Q2 at the last moment.  Not bad.

So, race late tonight/early morning!  See ya afterwards!

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March 20, 2017

F1 on NBCSN: Australia 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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February 21, 2017

F1 Pr0n: First Look

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

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

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

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

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February 06, 2017

F1 News: To The Manor Born

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

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

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

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

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January 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

Two months until Melbourne!

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

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

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

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January 11, 2017

Ten Weeks To Go

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

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

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December 26, 2016

A Merc Christmas

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

Wacky Mercedes... who'da thunk it?

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December 02, 2016

Nico Rosberg Wins Championship, Retires

Well, that's something of a surprise headline!

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

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

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

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

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

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November 26, 2016

F1 Quals: Abu Dhabi 2016

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

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

18 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:42.142

19 Felipe Not Massa Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:42.247

20 False Esteban Ocon MRT Mercedes 1:42.286

21 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:42.393

22 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:42.637

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

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

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

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November 23, 2016

F1 on TV: Abu Dhabi 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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November 12, 2016

F1 Quals: Brazil 2016

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

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

18 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:13.410

19 Pascal's Wehrlein MRT Mercedes 1:13.427

20 False Esteban MRT Mercedes 1:13.432

21 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:13.623

22 FelipeNot Retired Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:13.681

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

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

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

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November 08, 2016

F1 on NBCSN: Brazil 2016

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

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

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

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

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October 29, 2016

F1 Quals: Mexico 2016

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

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

18 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:21.454

19 FelipeNot Retired Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:21.692

20 False Esteban MRT Mercedes 1:21.881

21 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:21.916

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

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

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

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

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