June 18, 2018

F1 on The ESPNs: France 2018

Zut allors, mes amies!  Break out the cheese and mimes, because we're headed back to France for the first time since 2008... merde!  But vive la difference, we're not going back to that awful, awful circuit at Mangy-Curs!  Instead we're headed to Circuit Paul Ricard, hon hon hon!  Here's le track map:


This should be a fast track, but I'm not sure where the passing is going to be.  If you watch this lap by Lewis Hamilton, the place seems awfully narrow, and despite appearances there's actually a penalty for getting off-track.  Those stripes are legendarily abrasive, like they're made out of a mix of 4-grit sandpaper and thumbtacks.  I exaggerate, of course, but you do not want to go out there if you like your tires.

Back in the old days, that Turn 8-9 chicane didn't exist.  These days, cars would be hittin' 210mph going into Turn 10 like as not, and with the downforce and sticky tires we've got, there might not be a whole lot of deceleration going on.  As is, it's gonna be fast as hell anyway.

Broadcast schedule is... well, it's limited.
Saturday
Practice 3: 6a - 730a  live on ESPNews
Quals: 9a - 1030a  live on ESPNews
Sunday
2018 Grand Prix of France: 9a - 12n live on ESPN2

I'm not hopeful for a good race, but we shall see!

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June 09, 2018

F1 Quals: Canada 2018

Wow, hey, look at the time!  Huh.  Took me long enough.  For that, I apologize... I didn't get home from lunch until nearly 4pm, watched the quals, and then it was, like 645pm and I was exhausted.  So I took a nap, and now here we are.  But enough of this, you're not here to revel in the mundane existence that is the life of a Wonderduck, you want to know about the exciting times of the F1 Circus!  Well, here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix du Canada:


Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:11.710 1:11.524 1:10.764
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:11.950 1:11.514 1:10.857
3 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:12.008 1:11.472 1:10.937
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:11.835 1:11.740 1:10.996
5 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:11.725 1:11.620 1:11.095
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:12.459 1:11.434 1:11.116
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:12.795 1:11.916 1:11.973
8 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:12.577 1:12.141 1:12.084
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:12.689 1:12.097 1:12.168
10 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:12.702 1:12.395 1:12.671
11 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:12.680 1:12.606
12 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso
1:12.587 1:12.635
13 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:12.945 1:12.661
14 LeMans Alonso McLaren Renault 1:12.979 1:12.856
15 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:12.998 1:12.865
16 Pierre Ghastly Scuderia Toro Rosso
1:13.047

17 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:13.590

18 Sergey, Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:13.643

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:14.593


I never thought I'd say this, but "poor Lettuce."  You'll note there's only 19 cars listed... the Haas of Lettuce Grosjean never made it to the track in Q1, having had the most impressive dose of power unit problems we've seen in a long time.  He was smoking as he pulled out of the garage, and once he turned onto pit lane headed for the exit, he managed to lay down just an epic smoke screen.  No worries about mosquitos for the rest of the weekend, that's for sure.  But he hits a marmot on Friday, now this happens on Saturday... I'm terrified for what'll occur in the race.  We may see the first F1 car in the St Lawrence Seaway tomorrow.

As far as the rest of Quals went, do you realize that this is the first time in four years that Lewis Hamilton isn't on pole?  Say what you want about the guy, and plenty of people have, but he owns this track.  He never got hooked up today though, never managed anything but scruffy lap after scruffy lap.  He knew it, too.  The two Ferraris looked amazing, clearly the class of the session.  The only thing that kept us from an all Red Car front row was a brief moment of lost grip early in Kimi Raikkonen's last try.  

DH Verstappen has to be muttering to himself.  After leading the timesheets in all three practice sessions, the newly upgraded Ferrari engine and the Mercedes Party Mode proved too much for the Red Bull to deal with.  It's fast in the corners and under braking, but that advantage is nullified by the lack of power down that long, long back straight.  Still, they'll be starting on the hypersoft tires while Merc and Ferrari are on the harder ultrasofts, so they'll have the grip advantage.  The ultras do seem to be the tire of choice though... 

Race is in the afternoon... weather permitting, we'll be watching it live for once!

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June 07, 2018

F1 on TV: Canada 2018

So, so late!  Sorry folks, I've been on overtime this week, and it's been playing hob with my existence.  This is gonna have to be a quick one, here's the track map for the 2018 Grand Prix of Canada: 


I do love this circuit.  It's what Monaco would be if it was, y'know, fast and stuff.  And had marmots.

Here's the broadcast calendar:
Friday
Practice 1: 9a - 1030a  live on ESPNU
Practice 2: 1p - 230p  live on ESPNU
Saturday
Practice 3: 955a - 11a live on ESPN2
Quals: 1255p - 230p  live on ESPNews
Sunday
2018 Grand Prix of Canada: 1230p - 3p  live on ABC

All over the damn place this weekend!  Quals report sometime that afternoon (I might be having lunch with the folks), F1U! sometime after the race.  See ya then!!!

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May 26, 2018

F1 Quals: Monaco 2018

Another beautiful day in the Principality, all sun and blue skies and yachts in the harbor.  And a bunch of loud F1 cars driving through the streets.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:12.013 1:11.278 1:10.810
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:12.415 1:11.518 1:11.039
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:12.460 1:11.584 1:11.232
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:12.639 1:11.391 1:11.266
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:12.434 1:12.002 1:11.441
6 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:13.028 1:12.188 1:12.061
7 LeMans Alonso McLaren Renault 1:12.657 1:12.269 1:12.110
8 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:12.950 1:12.286 1:12.130
9 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:12.848 1:12.194 1:12.154
10 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso
1:12.941 1:12.313 1:12.221
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:13.065 1:12.411
12 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:12.463 1:12.440
13 Sergey Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:12.706 1:12.521
14 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:12.829 1:12.714
15 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:12.930 1:12.728
16 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso
1:13.179

17 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:13.265

18 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:13.323

19 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:13.393


You may notice that there's only 19 cars shown, instead of 20.  DH Verstappen did it again, wrecking in Practice 3, breaking his front suspension and damaging his gearbox in the process.  Red Bull could not get his car repaired in time for Quals, and so he'll start at the Steward's discretion.

Which has got to be a blow to the team, because his partner in crime, Smiley Ricciardo, turned in the fastest lap ever around Monaco to take pole.  I'd like to point out that ten years ago Felipe Massa's pole speed was 1:15.787.  Even the slowest qualifier this year was almost 2.5 seconds faster than that.  Anyway, Red Bull had owned the race weekend, finishing 1-2 in every session thus far, and were expected to do so in quals.  No such luck.  I'm beginning to wonder if what we're seeing nowadays is what DH Verstappen is... crash-happy and quick to blame others.

Much can happen between now and the end of the race, but it sure is lookin' good for Ricciardo.  F1U! will follow along sometime afterwards... got the Indy 500 to look at too!  See ya.

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May 23, 2018

F1 on The ESPNs: Monaco 2018

Monaco.


To your common American, the word conjures up images of impeccably tailored men gambling away fortunes in the Casino while impossibly beautiful women try to catch their eye.  International spies lurk in every corner, camouflaged by supercars idling in the French Riviera night.  

To your common Formula 1 fan, it means "oh god I hope it rains."  There would be no way the sport would be racing on the streets of Monaco if the race was proposed today.  Too narrow, too unsafe, too small.  But yet, every year, here we are:

And we as fans love it.  It's the counter-American type of racing.  Here, we go for monster high-banked ovals or 500 mile long races.  Last year, the two worlds came together when Fernando Alonso and McLaren took a run at the Indianapolis 500, and former F1 driver Takuma Sato won the race.

No such luck this year... Alonso will be driving at LeMans, for example... but it really is the greatest day for auto racing in the year, Sunday is.  Monaco, Indy, then Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600.  But it all starts at the tiny little constitutional monarchy with a nice harbor.

ESPN has done us good this time 'round... here's the schedule
Thursday
Practice 1: 4a - 530a, live on ESPN2
Practice 2: 8a - 930a, live on ESPN2
Friday
...is traditionally an off day so the rich people can get out of town before the noise arrives.
Saturday
Practice 3: 5a - 630a, live  on ESPNews (be careful here... there are conflicting reports)
Quals: 8a - 930a, live on ESPN2
Sunday
2018 Grand Prix of Monaco: 8a - 11a, live on ESPN, the real deal.  There's also a replay on ABC in the afternoon.

So there's your weekend!  Get comfy, order a deep-dish pizza, and enjoy the racing!  F1Update! will be along afterwards... I promise.

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May 15, 2018

Until Further Notice

Due to ongoing joint problems vis a vis my hip, I'm really unable to spend enough time in front of my computer at home to do writeups.  I'm working on that, of course, but right now it just hurts too much to spend the two hours or so it takes.


A doctor's appointment is a week from friday... it would have been sooner, but he's on vacation... so hopefully that'll shake something loose.

Of course, if something big occurs, I'll show up to pontificate... I'm still a fan, after all.  Oh, and Spain was a Lewis Hamilton Special... he ran away and hid for the entire race.  Never any doubt in my mind, that's for sure.

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May 12, 2018

F1 Quals: Spain 2018

A threat of rain hung over the circuit as the clock began its countdown on "GoFast Day" at Barcalounger.  It never came, but the qualifying result was interesting nevertheless... here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Spain:


Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:17.633 1:17.166 1:16.173
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:17.674 1:17.111 1:16.213
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:17.031 1:16.802 1:16.305
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:17.483 1:17.071 1:16.612
5 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:17.411 1:17.266 1:16.816
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:17.623 1:17.638 1:16.818
7 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:18.169 1:17.618 1:17.676
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 1:18.276 1:18.100 1:17.721
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:18.480 1:17.803 1:17.790
10 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:18.305 1:17.699 1:17.835
11 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:18.885 1:18.323
12 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso Honda 1:18.550 1:18.463
13 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:18.813 1:18.696
14 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:18.661 1:18.910
15 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:18.740 1:19.098
16 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:18.923

17 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:19.493

18 Sergey,  Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:19.695

19 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:20.225


You'll note only 19 cars listed.  The 20th, Brendan Hartley's Toro Rosso, had a unfortunate vehicle/barrier interface right at the end of Practice 3 and the team could not get the car back together in time for Quals.

To be fair, the rear of the car was still attached until the workers picked it up.  THEN it fell off.

I'm not entirely sure how the two Mercs ended up on the front row, since at no time during the practice sessions or the other two Qualy periods did they look faster than the Ferraris.  Well, that and my DVR timed out with two minutes left in the session.  Apparently ESPN does not designate Formula 1 as "sports", thus not activating the automatic "extra hour" mode on my DVR.  Anyway, I've not seen the final runs of Q3 because of that.  I'm not gonna go out of my way to find 'em, either.  I'm grumpy that way.

So, an interesting grid for Sunday's race... let's see how it goes!

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May 11, 2018

F1 on ESPN2: Spain 2018

Finally, the Thundering Herd makes its way back to Europe and the real start of the F1 season.  This is when the teams begin to debut new parts, new wings, etc etc etc, so in theory we could have completely different results from the flyaway races.


Don't count on it, though.  Here's the track map for the 2018 Grand Prix of Spain.

That's just the way it is, somethings will never change.  Spain. Spain never changes.  Though they did resurface the track since last year so grip issues will be a possibility.  Or not.  It's hard to tell with these new cars.

We'll find out though... starting Saturday!
Saturday
Practice 3:  5a - 630a  live on ESPN2
Quals: 8a - 930a  live on ESPN2
Sunday
2018 Grand Prix of Spain: 730a - 10a  live on ESPN 2

Hopefully I'll have coverage afterwards.  See ya then!

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April 25, 2018

F1 on The ESPNs: Azerbaijan 2018

My apologies for not getting this posted in any sort of timely fashion.  Between becoming old and the continuing problems with my hip, I'm limited to half-hour long stints at the computer more or less.  So no time to waste talking about myself, let's talk about Baku!  Here's the track map:


This is, of course, the circuit famous for its climb past a castle... really, as mentioned before, it's only a curtain wall... in a section of uphill track that's more narrow than anything you'll find at Monaco.  Then it's topped off by a stupidly long straight that, despite having a bend in the middle at Turn 20, is still totally flat out.  This is also the circuit where Seb Vettel and Lewis Hamilton had their little nose-and-tail show last year.  I'm sure we won't see anything quite as interesting this race, but one never knows, does one?

Here's ESPN's coverage schedule:
Saturday
Practice 3: 500a - 630a  live on ESPNews
Quals: 800a - 930a  live on ESPNews
Sunday
2018 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan: 700a - 1000a  live on ESPN2

With any luck, an F1Update! will come along after.  See you then!

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April 18, 2018

We All Need This


While I haven't given up on the F1U! for China, I'm having difficulties actually doing it.  I know it's late already, but... 

...dammit.

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April 14, 2018

F1 Quals: China 2018

A gray, unpleasant-looking day greeted the teams and drivers as they worked on their vehicles with differing degrees of urgency.  Some, like Ferrari, were desultorily polishing the carbon-fiber bodywork to a mirror finish, knowing in their heart of hearts that a shiny car goes through the air better.  Some, like Williams, just stared at their cars with ill-disguised hatred.  And then you had the left side of the Red Bull garage, filled with a frantic but well controlled amount of energy bordering on panic.  


This because Smiley Ricciardo had a pretty comprehensive-looking engine kablammo with a half-hour remaining in P3, requiring an engine change.  On the positive side, they had a new Renault engine in their traveling kit.  On the negative, however, Renault never did finish putting it together before delivering it to the team... at least according to Christian Horner, Red Bull team boss.  So instead of just bolting it in place and away they go (ahem), they had to build the engine (including scavenging parts from the recently-deceased power unit) then attach the rest of the car to it.  There was no real chance they'd get it done in time for Ricciardo to qualify, but they tried anyway.  And got him out with two minutes left in Q1.  Where did he qualify?  How about the rest of the field?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of China:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:32.171 1:32.385 1:31.095
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:32.474 1:32.286 1:31.182
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:32.921 1:32.063 1:31.625
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.283 1:31.914 1:31.675
5 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:32.932 1:32.809 1:31.796
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:33.877 1:32.688 1:31.948
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:33.545 1:32.494 1:32.532
8 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:33.464 1:32.931 1:32.758
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:33.315 1:32.970 1:32.819
10 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:33.238 1:32.524 1:32.855
11 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:33.359 1:32.986
12 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:33.585 1:33.057
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 1:33.428 1:33.232
14 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:33.824 1:33.505
15 Death To Flying Things Scuderia Toro Rosso
1:34.013 1:33.795
16 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 1:34.062

17 Pierre Ghastly Scuderia Toro Rosso
1:34.101

18 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:34.285

19 AMX-30 Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 1:34.454

20 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:34.914


Smiley made it to Q3, ending up in sixth.  Pretty sure those mechanics earned their pay this week.  The rest of qualifying, however, wasn't all that much of a much.  The Ferraris simply slapped down the Mercs, and even when Bottas topped Q2, you just knew the red team had it under control. And so it was.

There is talk that the Mercs are set up for warmer weather, expected at race-time.  It was 53 degrees and windy during quals, and the track wasn't much warmer... hard to bring tires up to temps like that!  If Ferrari set their cars up to heat the tires quickly, they'd get the advantage during quals, but would possibly overheat their tires if the track gets warmer.

We shall see... race is late tonight/early tomorrow!

PS - so much for Toro Rosso, huh?

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April 11, 2018

F1 on The ESPNs: China 2018

Back to back overseas races are hard for everybody involved with F1.  Do a whole race weekend in East Corner-Of-Nowhere, pack up, fly a couple thousand miles, unpack in West Where-The-Hell-Are-We, then go racing again.  This time around, you're looking at about a 12 hour flight from Bahrain to Shanghai on Etihad Air, which includes a 2 hour layover in Abu Dhabi.  It looks like it's on a Boeing Dreamliner, so at least you've got that going for you.  Here's the track map for the 2018 Grand Prix of China:


As I mentioned last year, exactly the same as it's been since 2004.  Though there's been a resurgence in noting that the circuit is shaped like the Chinese character "shang", meaning "high" or "above" or "ascend"... or "up", maybe?  I dunno.  It's the first part of Shanghai... wait... does that mean it's "High hai"?

China has coughed up some good races in the past, often because of rain, so we can cross our fingers that we'll get another Bahrain-level event this weekend.  That'd be fun.  Here's the broadcast schedule for ESPN's coverage:

Friday
Practice 3: 10p-1130p  live on ESPNews
Saturday
Quals: 1a - 3a  live on ESPN2
Sunday
2018 Grand Prix of China: 1a - 330a  live on ESPN2

For a wonder, ESPN came out and said that Quals and Races will be commercial-free for the rest of the season.  I'm okay with that.

See ya!

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April 07, 2018

F1 Quals: Bahrain 2018

Gotta admit, the circuit in Bahrain looks awful purty at night.  But for whom did the stars shine, and for whom did they fall?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Bahrain:


Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:29.060 1:28.341 1:27.958
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:28.951 1:28.515 1:28.101
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:29.275 1:28.794 1:28.124
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:29.396 1:28.458 1:28.220
5 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:29.552 1:28.962 1:28.398
6 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso Honda 1:30.121 1:29.836 1:29.329
7 "DP" Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:29.594 1:29.623 1:29.358
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:30.260 1:29.187 1:29.570
9 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:30.338 1:30.009 1:29.874
10 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:29.893 1:29.802 1:29.986
11 Death To Flying Things Toro Rosso Honda 1:30.412 1:30.105
12 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:30.218 1:30.156
13 LeMans Alonso McLaren Renault 1:30.530 1:30.212
14 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:30.479 1:30.525
15 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:29.374 No Time

16 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:30.530

17 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:31.063

18 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 1:31.414

19 AMX_56 Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 1:31.420

20 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:31.503


While Vettel's on pole, it wasn't until the final run in Q2 that he started to show more speed than his teammate Raikkonen.  In fact, it took a truly outstanding lap from the German to beat Raikkonen in Q2, and in Q3 it was Vettel's last run that wound up being just a bit too good for anybody to catch.  The other flying Finn, Valterri Bottas and his Mercedes, put up good times but nothing to rival the Ferraris, and Lewis Hamilton left himself with a massive problem on Sunday.  Not only did he not get on the front row, but he had to change a gearbox between Australia and here. Apparently he very nearly was unable to finish the first race of the year... I had read somewhere that he had an oil leak that got into the gearbox and played all sorts of merry hell with the finely machined chunks of space-age technology in there.  In any case, that means a five-spot grid penalty, and that means he's actually starting in 9th, right where the midfield can bounce him around in Turn 1.

Speaking of the midfield, it's somewhat disheartening to see McLaren getting so stiffly roflstomped by Toro Rosso; not only did the former Minardi team beat both McLarens, but it wasn't even close... and the Ghastly one even made it into Q3, where he ends up in fifth after Hamilton's penalty.  AND I even got a nickname for Brendon Hartley, who ran into a bird during today's sessions.  Neither Force India impressed today... I didn't realize one was in Q3, they were so not-fast.

But the biggest pain has to be felt by Haas.  From looking like serious contenders for "best of the midfield" rights to having Lettuce miss out on Q2 by literally the slimmest of margins (he and Alonso set exactly the same time, 1:30.530, in Q1, but since the McLaren driver did it first, he ended up in 15th and moved on).  There must be much confusion and consternation in the American team's pits right about now. Why is K-Mag now being called "DP" Magnussen?  Heh... you asked for it.

On international television, too.

The less said about Williams, the better.  That was ugly, and Pleasant Stroll looked seriously pissed in an interview afterwards.

So the race is late tomorrow morning.  I hope to be along sometime that evening with the F1Update!, but my computer woes are beginning to become terminal.  My hard drive coughed up a "terminal failure" report to the various startup menu tests this morning, but eventually it booted.  I've spent the best part of the afternoon copying important things to flash drives and external hard drives and writing down passwords for places I don't often access.  I do have my laptop, of course, but that's a whole different set of problems to deal with.  In any case, sooner or later it'll be up.

See ya then!

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April 03, 2018

F1 on The ESPNs: Bahrain 2018

The plane from Spain lands mainly in Bahrain.


No, I don't know what that means either, but it made me giggle.  The Great F1 Thingy is in the teeny island nation with the big oil money-filled bank accounts, Bahrain... as opposed to the teeny island nation with the big oil money-filled bank accounts, Abu Dhabi.  Basically the same place, except for the revolts and the shootings and... yes, well.  Ahem.  Let's take a look at the track map, shall we?

Ah, nothing like reusing an old classic.  I'm less than thrilled that there's still a race here, but what's a little bit of ethics when there's money to be made?  In the past, I'd say that this was a dead-solid Mercedes victory... it's the sort of circuit that their car loves... but who knows yet?  They looked good in Australia, but they couldn't get past the Ferrari for the lead with more than 25 laps to work with.  So I officially declare this race to be wide open.

Which means that Mercedes will make everybody look silly.

ESPN has the coverage again, and they're confusing the hell outta me with their programming choices.  Let's take a look: 

Friday
Nothing!  It's all streaming.
Saturday
Practice 3: 700a - 800a  live on ESPNews
Quals: 1000a - 1130a live on ESPN2
Sunday
2018 Grand Prix of Bahrain: 1000a - 1230p live on ESPN2

If we're lucky, they listened to all the screaming of US F1 fans and will improve their coverage, maybe by having a real person watching for when to run commercials.  If we're not lucky... there will be a very pissed off duck.

F1Update! afterwards.  Eventually.  See ya then!

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March 24, 2018

F1 Quals: Australia 2018

It feels like just last month we were in Abu Dhabi.  Nope!  It was only three months and change ago... and everything is different now.  Except where it isn't.  Let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Australia:
...

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:22.824 1:22.051 1:21.164
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:23.096 1:22.507 1:21.828
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:23.348 1:21.944 1:21.838
4 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:23.483 1:22.416 1:21.879
5 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:23.494 1:22.897 1:22.152
6 K-Mag Haas Ferrari 1:23.909 1:23.300 1:23.187
7 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:23.671 1:23.468 1:23.339
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:23.782 1:23.544 1:23.532
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:23.529 1:23.061 1:23.577
10 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:23.686 1:22.089 DNF
11 LeMans Alonso McLaren Renault 1:23.597 1:23.692
12 Stoffelwaffel McLaren Renault 1:24.073 1:23.853
13 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:24.344 1:24.005
14 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:24.464 1:24.230
15 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:24.503 1:24.786
16 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso
1:24.532

17 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:24.556

18 AMX-56 Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 1:24.636

19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 1:24.922

20 Pierre Ghastly Scuderia Toro Rosso
1:25.295

...
Oh, well, only 6/10ths of a second faster for Hamilton, that's nothing... eep.  Mercedes has long had a special engine setting for use in quals, they're currently calling it "party mode", where they get maximum power from the lump in the back.  It appears to be extra wacky this season, or at least this race, as things were a LOT closer at the end of Q2.  Having said all that, Ferrari proved to be quicker during the race than they were in quals... they do long distances better due to being gentle on the tires... so we've still got hope for an actual race on Sunday.  Maybe.  If things go well.  I hope.

In other fun news, Haas put in their best qualifying effort since... um... ever?  And it'll get better, as Red Bull's Smiley Ricciardo is getting a three-spot grid penalty for some infraction or other in practice.  Of course, they've always done well in Melbourne... but have we just seen the birth of the new "best of the rest" team?  Mercedes' Valterri Bottas pranged his car right at the start of Q3, and he's going to need a new gearbox... that's a five-spot grid penalty... so welcome to the Top 10, LeMans Alonso and McLaren!  It's early days, but so far it looks like they made the right choice by moving to Renault engines... neither Toro Rosso/Honda made it out of Q1 or really even looked like they ever would again.  But they didn't explode.  That's a good start.

So.  Race is in a few hours. Whatever will pass for a F1U! this year will follow along tomorrow... see ya then!

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March 20, 2018

F1 on The ESPNs: Australia 2018

Hey, hello, and how are ya?  It's time, once again, for another season of Formula 1!  Yaaaaaay!  And this year, there's a LOT of changes to be talked about!  Um... yay?  But at least we're starting at the only track that should be the first race of the season, Albert Park in Melbourne!  Yaaaaaay!  Let's take ourselves a quick gander at the track map, and we'll move on from there.  Yaaaaay!


Nothing changes, all remains the same... and there's something comforting about that if you ask me.  It does help that this circuit is really quite good at being a suitable test for new cars.  It's tough but fair, fast and slow, without room for mistakes except where there's plenty of runoff... the track has a plurality, that's why they call it Mr Duality.  "So, Wonderduck, you said there's lots of changes," you're thinking and apparently I can read minds now, "what have they done now?"  Well, how about a new theme song?
If you think you've heard the name "Brian Tyler" before, I can't help ya... but you've heard his music.  He scores for movies and tv.  Five of the Fast and the Furious films, Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 3, and Avengers: Age of Ultron from the MCU, the NFL Football theme for ESPN, and dozens of others.  Amusingly, it's available on Amazon.  Of course I've already purchased it.  Oh, that logo?  That's the new official logo for Formula 1.  Yeah, I know, sorry, they didn't ask me.  What other changes are out there?

There are a few others, yeah... but those will have to be discussed during the rest of this week's runup to the race.  Because now it's time to look at the television schedule for the Grand Prix of Australia!

Friday
Practice 2: 12m - 130a  Live on ESPNews
Saturday
Quals: 1a - 230a  Live on ESPN2
Sunday
2018 Grand Prix of Australia: 12m - 230a  Live on ESPN2

I have absolutely no confidence in these times, I'm just going on what I'm finding online.  I'm not thrilled about this, truth be told: we no longer have the Legendary Announce Team to listen to.  Instead, we're getting the SkySports broadcast... and in the past, I've loathed that announce team.  What does it all mean?  It's a brand new world, folks... let's see if it's any good, together!

...and if you've got any questions leading up to the race, ask 'em in the comments and I'll answer next time 'round.

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March 19, 2018

2018 Is Coming


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March 05, 2018

Using Analogy For Descriptive Purposes

"Formula 1 is Olympic fencing...


...NASCAR is large men in heavy armor swinging big swords at each other...

...Stadium Super Trucks is kids jumped up on handfuls of sugar and gallons of Mountain Dew hitting each other with nerf sticks."

I love it when an analogy comes together.

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January 27, 2018

Long Drive For A Watch

I've completely neglected to mention this, but this weekend is the unofficial start of the US auto racing season!  Let us take a trip to the high bank turns of Daytona for something very special...


...the 2018 IMSA 24 Hours of Daytona!  In endurance racing, there's not many races that are more prestigious: LeMans, pretty much.  It's not part of the FIA's World Endurance Championship series, but IMSA's Prototype class conforms to WEC's "LMP2" standards.  LMP2 is the less powerful style of prototypes, and really the only competitive one.  If I heard correctly, the team that wins the 24HoD gets an automagic invite to LeMans, though I'm not gonna put money on that. 

The GTLM class of sports cars also matches the LeMans GT specs... and looks awfully sweet, too.  That's the new Ford GT up there, and it's definite poster material.

While I have loved the 24HoD for a while now, this year is a little special because everybody's favorite Indy 500 driver is racing.  Fernando Alonso is teaming up with McLaren's "reserve" driver, 18 year old Lando Norris, and the youngest driver ever to be classified at the 24 Hours of LeMans (in 2017), then-17 year old Philip Hanson.  They'll be in the United Autosports Ligier JS P217... in fact, that's the car at the top of this post.  While Norris optimistically said that the car could win "if everything goes right," this is a 24 hour race.  "Everything" never goes right.

But Alonso and Norris aren't the only current or former F1 drivers in the field, not by a long shot.  A quick glance at the team sheets shows Christian Fittipaldi, Felipe Not Massa Nasr, Juan Pablo (The Pope) Montoya, Paul di Resta, Bruno "The Other" Senna, Pleasant Stroll, Sea Bass, Gianmaria Bruni (one of my first favorite drivers as he drove for Minardi with Zsolt Baumgartner in 2004, the first year I watched the sport as an adult... adult-ish), and the legend himself: Markus Winkelhock, the only F1 driver to start both last and first in the same Grand Prix.

The winning teams in each division are presented with the most famous prize in all of motorsports, a special Rolex Daytona.  The 2017 version is shown above, and considering that there's maybe 12 of them in the world?  That's a helluva watch.  Only the winning drivers (three per car in three classes) and the team owner gets one, I think... again, I could be wrong.  Fairly exclusive, I'd say.  I just found this out: did you know that a Daytona sold at auction for $17million and change?  Paul Newman, himself a racing driver, was given one by his wife in 1972, and that's the one that was sold.  Apparently it was a rather rare style of Daytona, with a combination of colors and markings that became known as a "Newman" Daytona.  And, since he reportedly wore it every day from 1972 until 1984, when he got a new Daytona and gave his first one away, it had quite the provenance.  None of that matters... winner gets a nice watch after a long drive.  Worth every minute of it.

Coverage begins on FOX at 1pm Pond Central time, with the green flying a half-hour later.  The race will then migrate to FS1, FS2, and IMSAtv before ending back on FOX on Sunday.  Enjoy, won't you?  I certainly will... particularly the night portions.

UPDATE: Alonso's car ended up 38th out of 50 entries, 90 laps behind the leader (who broke the all-time distance record with an hour to go).  They were never going to win, but they were able to race in the LMP2 category very well... and then they began to have mechanical problems, the worst of which involved their brake system.

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January 15, 2018

American Racer Dan Gurney Passes.

One of the true legends of motorsport passed away on Sunday.  Dan Gurney was 86 when complications from pneumonia "took him off the grid."  He was the first of only three men to win races in Sports Cars, Formula 1, NASCAR, and Indy Car, as well as Can-Am and Trans-Am.  But for all his accomplishments on track, and there were many, he may very well be known for some off-track things.


For example, he had what can arguably be called the best week in car racing history in 1967.  On June 11th, he and AJ Foyt, driving a Ford GT40 MkIV, won the 24 Hours of LeMans.  This marked back-to-back LeMans victories for Ford, totally unprecedented for the American manufacturer.  But that wasn't enough for Dan Gurney.  During the podium ceremony, he did something that no race winner anywhere had ever done before...

...he became the first winner to spray champagne from the podium.  Of course, this tradition continues 50+ years later in all forms of motorsports all over the world.  That right there is enough to make Gurney a legend, but not enough to make it the best week of racing ever.  The following Sunday, June 18th, was the Grand Prix of Belgium at Spa-Francorchamps.

Gurney, running both as driver and as team owner of Anglo-American Racing, drove the Eagle Mk1 to victory.  He became the second F1 driver to win in a car of his own manufacture, out of three.  But, and this is the part that cements him as one of the all-time greats, it became the first... and thus far only... F1 race win for an American-made car. 

But even THAT wasn't enough for Gurney.  He became the first to put a little vertical piece of material on the trailing edge of his car's wing, increasing the generated downforce substantially without much of an increase in drag at all.  This little thing became known as the Gurney Flap, and is used by just about any race car that has wings.  While it would be incorrect to say that he invented the device, as airplanes had been using it to increase lift instead of downforce for decades, he and his team were the ones who adapted it to cars.  About the only time you don't see them being used nowadays is at places like Monza, where you want as little drag (and thus downforce) as possible.

Dan Gurney won seven races in F1, seven times in Indy Car, five times in NASCAR, he won endurance races at the Nurburgring, Sebring, Daytona and LeMans, as well as many others.  He was the first big-name racer to wear a full face helmet.  When he retired from racing in 1970, he did so with some 51 race wins across all formats to his credit.  After that, he had a successful career as a constructor or team owner, with three Indy 500 victories in the record books.  For all of that and more, he is probably the preeminent American in motorsport.  I am secure in saying that his sort will never be seen again.

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