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:

Pos Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:28.702 1:28.017 1:27.760
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:29.297 1:27.987 1:28.059
3 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:29.480 1:28.849 1:29.057
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:29.631 1:28.595 1:29.521
5 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:29.724 1:29.678 1:29.761
6 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:30.248 1:29.848 1:30.023
7 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso 1:30.137 1:29.810 1:30.093
8 False Esteban! Force India
1:29.899 1:29.538 1:30.126
9 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:29.049 1:28.279 1:32.192
10 Lawsuit Perez Force India
1:30.247 1:29.567 1:37.229
11 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:29.706 1:29.864
12 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:30.219 1:30.226
13 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:30.236 1:30.490
14 Veruca Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:30.317 1:30.714
15 Screamy Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:29.806 No Time

16 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:30.361

17 Sergey Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:30.372

18 BTCC Alonso McLaren Renault 1:30.573

19 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:31.041

20 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:31.213


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.

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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!

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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:

Pos Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:32.964 1:32.744 1:31.387
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:32.410 1:32.595 1:31.532
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:33.476 1:33.045 1:31.943
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:33.341 1:33.065 1:32.237
5 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:34.078 1:33.747 1:33.181
6 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:34.290 1:33.596 1:33.413
7 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:33.924 1:33.488 1:33.419
8 Lawsuit Perez Force India Mercedes 1:34.084 1:33.923 1:33.563
9 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:34.022 1:33.517 1:33.704
10 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:34.170 1:33.995 1:35.196
11 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:33.048 No Time

12 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:33.247 No Time

13 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso
1:34.383 No Time

14 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:34.626 No Time

15 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:34.655 No Time

16 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso
1:35.037

17 DTM Alonso McLaren Renault 1:35.504

18 Homeboy Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 1:35.612

19 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:35.977

20 Veruca Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:36.437


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...

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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!

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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:

Pos Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:39.403 1:37.344 1:36.015
2 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:38.751 1:37.214 1:36.334
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:38.218 1:37.876 1:36.628
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:39.291 1:37.254 1:36.702
5 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:38.534 1:37.194 1:36.794
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:38.153 1:37.406 1:36.996
7 Lawsuit Perez Force India Mercedes 1:38.814 1:38.342 1:37.985
8 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:38.685 1:38.367 1:38.320
9 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:38.912 1:38.534 1:38.365
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:38.932 1:38.450 1:38.588
11 I Dunno Alonso McLaren Renault 1:39.022 1:38.641
12 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:39.103 1:38.716
13 CharlesAMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:39.206 1:38.747
14 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:39.366 1:39.453
15 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso 1:39.614 1:39.691
16 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:39.644

17 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:39.809

18 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:39.864

19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 1:41.263

20 Veruca Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:41.334


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!

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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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September 10, 2018

Where We're Going, We Don't Need Rules

-Shadow DN2, 1973

The closest the motorsports world has come to a truly open racing series was the original Can-Am, which ran from 1966 to 1974.  When I say "open", I mean that the tech regs regarding the cars consisted of the following:

1) The car must have two seats.
2) The car must have enclosed wheels.
3) It must meet required safety standards (pretty minimal, considering the time period).

And that was it.  After that, it was anything goes.

-McLaren M8D, 1970

And that meant "anything."  Can-Am series cars were the first to use titanium, ground effect of all sorts, wings of types never before seen (and rarely after), hell, cars that were wings, cars that used fans from a friggin' tank engine to create downforce, and in one case a car that put out 1580hp.  

-Chaparral 2H, 1969

However, it was Can-Am's main selling point that led to it's demise.  "No rules" also means "no limits".  That let manufacturers like McLaren and Porsche throw insane amounts of money at their cars, which basically priced out anybody else.

-Lola T260, 1971

But when it was in its heyday, Can-Am had cars that were faster than F1 cars, some that were able to win endurance races like the 24 Hours of Daytona, and loud enough to shake the fillings out of your head.  Nowadays the cars show up at Goodwood or various classic car races fairly regularly.

But there's one reason I'll always have a spot in my cold, dead heart for Can-Am: I'm pretty sure I attended the original series' very last race, at Road America in 1974.  Yes, I was only six, but I have memories of being there.

-Porsche 917/30, 1973

Can-Am.  We will never see its like again.

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September 01, 2018

F1 Quals: Italy 2018

It looked like rain.  The official FIA Weather Clowns gave it an 80% chance of rain during Qualifying. For once, being underneath the giant Ferrari banner in the main grandstand didn't seem like it'd be all that bad.  But did it rain?  Or did we get full speed, athletic-spheroids-to-the-dividing-structure action like we hoped, for Monza is the one track on the calendar where rain takes away from, as opposed to adding to, the spectacle.  So which was it?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Italy:

Pos Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:20.722 1:19.846 1:19.119
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:20.542 1:19.629 1:19.280
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:20.810 1:19.798 1:19.294
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:21.381 1:20.427 1:19.656
5 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:21.381 1:20.333 1:20.615
6 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:21.887 1:21.239 1:20.936
7 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:21.732 1:21.552 1:21.041
8 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:21.570 1:21.315 1:21.099
9 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso
1:21.834 1:21.667 1:21.350
10 Veruca Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:21.838 1:21.494 1:21.627
11 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:21.783 1:21.669
12 Sergey, Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:21.813 1:21.732
13 Indy Alonso McLaren Renault 1:21.850 1:22.568
14 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:21.801 DNF
15 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:21.280 DNF

16 Lawsuit Perez Force India Mercedes 1:21.888

17 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:21.889

18 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso
1:21.934

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:22.048

20 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:22.085


See that 1:19.119 up there?  That works out to an average speed of 163.785mph, which makes it the fastest lap in Formula 1 history.  Please note that both Vettel and Hamilton also broke the lap record in qualifying, but the Finnish driver pipped them both.  Sadly, the SKY announcers couldn't sound excited if you set them both on fire.  At least, not in any way that makes you feel it.  Yes, I'd still much rather have the Legendary Announce Team broadcasting my F1.

If you look closely at the top 10 places on the grid, you'll see they are occupied by cars from eight different manufacturers.  I personally cannot remember the last time I saw that.  Only McLaren and Sauber are absent.  But the Swiss team has a very good reason for their performance today...
"Hi, I'm Sony Ericcson. *record scratch*  Yep, that's me.
You're probably wondering how I got myself into this situation..."

In Friday's Practice 2, Ericcson was approaching Turn 1 at somewhere around 210mph or so, nothing out of the ordinary at all.  Unbeknown by him his DRS flap had actually over-opened, meaning that it was stuck that way when it came time to apply the brakes.  Doing so is supposed to automatically close the DRS flap, thus increasing downforce and allowing the car to do things like slow down or turn in a controlled manner.  Instead, the Sauber immediately speared to the left, giving the armco a 15G hit.  Then the right side tires dug into the rain-softened grass and dirt, sending the car into a tumbling, spinning, somersaulting ride that reportedly covered some 700meters.  The video is terrifying to watch in its violence:

During this gymnastic routine, he pulled 28Gs.  Once it ended however, he just stood up and walked away.  The trip in the medical car that followed was required by the regulations; any time a driver suffers an impact that sensors record as being over a certain g-force level, they're going to the medical center whether they're hurt or not.

Sauber immediately called Charles AMX-30 into the pits, only to discover that his DRS equipment had the same problem, it just hadn't happened yet.  Ericcson's car had to be rebuilt from the ground up... even the chassis was ruined.  So while Sauber is usually kinda slow, they had a good excuse this time.

You'll also note the two "DNF" entries in Q2.  Both Smiley Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg had massive gridspot penalties... Hulkenberg for his causing of the massive crash at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix, and Smiley for engine component changes.  Both knew there was no point to going out and burning tires when they were going to end up at the back anyway, so neither did more than an installation lap and back to the pits.

So, it'll be a fast race tomorrow... and a fast one, too, if you know what I mean!  F1U! will be along sometime thereafter.  See ya then!

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August 30, 2018

F1 on TV: Monza 2018 Blah Blah Blah You Know The Drill...

I'm grumpy as heck at my boss right now, and I'm very, very tired of doing overtime.  Getting home at 10pm just so I can eat something then go back to sleep?  All work and no play makes Wonderduck a dull waterfowl.

Speaking of playing, the F1 Circus is in Italy this weekend.  Italy, Italy... which track is that again?
Oh yeah, right!  Formula 1's answer to NASCAR, Monza!  At Spa-Francopants, something like 72% of a lap is run at full throttle.  At Monza, it's 114%.  It's a fast circuit, is all I'm saying.  After they made some changes to Parabolica (aka Turn 11 on the map above), it's no longer the end of your race if you go off there, and that's a shame.  Unless you go REALLY off, in which case we'll send out Fluffles the cat to cover up your car in the kitty litter.

Sadly, it looks like Friday practices are going to be very wet, if not completely rained out.  I say "sadly" because that's probably going to be the only rain we see.  On the other hand, with a dry track we've got a good chance to see something that hasn't happened since 2010: Ferrari winning its home race.  I can't even remember the last time before that for a Ferrari victory at Monza, so... history in the making?

Well, whatever.  I'll have a Quals report up sometime Saturday... still working out details of having a meal with the folks, maybe Saturday, maybe Sunday... and I expect I'll get some sort of F1U! up after the race.

See ya then!

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August 25, 2018

F1 Quals: Belgium 2018

Overcast, gray and cloudy.  No, not the skies over Duckford for most of the past week, the skies over Spa-Francopants today!  The FIA Weather Minstrels said there was a 90% chance of rain during today's Quals, which meant we had a great chance of it not raining ever again at Spa... that's how inaccurate those predictions usually are.  But rain it did, and hoo boy, did it pay off!  Here's the provisional grid for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Belgium:

Pos Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:42.977 1:41.553 1:58.179
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:43.035 1:41.501 1:58.905
3 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:44.003 1:43.302 2:01.851
4 Lawsuit Perez Force India Mercedes 1:44.004 1:43.014 2:01.894
5 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:43.597 1:43.042 2:02.122
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:42.585 1:41.533 2:02.671
7 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:43.199 1:42.554 2:02.769
8 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:43.604 1:43.126 2:02.939
9 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:43.834 1:43.320 2:04.933
10 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:42.805 1:42.191 DNS
11 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso
1:44.221 1:43.844
12 Brendon Hartley  Toro Rosso
1:44.153 1:43.865
13 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:43.654 1:44.062
14 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:43.846 1:44.301
15 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:44.145 DNS

16 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:44.489

17 Indy Alonso McLaren Renault 1:44.917

18 Sergey, Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:44.998

19 Veruca Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:45.134

20 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:45.307


Sure, the top two positions aren't anything to get worked up about, except that Hamilton becomes the first driver to ever have five poles at Spa (big deal).  But what happened next... now there's the interesting stuff!

You may remember my offhand comment that Force India went into receivership and nearly died, yes?  Well, while it had been purchased, there turned out to be something of a confusion, as so often occurs when money is involved in Formula 1.  I've read everything I could on the matter, and what I THINK it works out to is that the purchasing group bought the team, but not the actual FIA Entry to allow the team onto the grid.  Or something like that.  So here's this group of moneymen that has just purchased everything they needed to have a Formula 1 team, but due to some technicality or other, they couldn't do anything with it.

As I left for work Thursday morning Pond Central Time, nobody was sure if the pink cars were going to be on the grid.  They were there, their trucks and motorhomes without liveries, but that was all they were.  Various votes were taken, and the teams unanimously decided to allow them to race.  But, since the team had changed hands, the decision was made to declare them a new team and Force India, now known as Racing Point Force India, has had their constructor's championship points stripped.  Their drivers kept their points, however.  Because of this, an amusing conundrum arose.  See, the technical regulations say nothing about a situation like this.  An argument was put forth that, since they were a new team, the engine allocations for the cars should be reset to zero... that is, all the engine pieces Force India had used (three ICE apiece for each driver, the annual limit before penalties start accruing) would no longer count against the team since they were being considered a new entity!  After some frantic hemming and hawwing, the logical answer was reached: since the drivers were being allowed to keep their points, so too should the engine count carry over.  This is, of course, the right answer, but I think they came to it for the wrong reason.  I think it was made clear a couple of years ago that the engine count is tied to the car, not the driver.  Otherwise, a driver put in the seat to replace another would have zero engine usage.  In any case, logic says this is the correct answer, but logic usually has little place in Formula 1. 

The upshot of all of this is that Force India, after a week where nobody knew if they were going racing or not, after a summer break where nobody knew if they were going to exist as a team or not, took third and fourth on the grid today.  I think that's got to count up there with the greatest performances of all time, right?  From dead to Row 2 in one week?  Hell yeah.

Anyway, the rains DID come, just seconds after Q3 began and everybody went out on slicks.  And the rains came in buckets, too.  Drivers were tiptoeing around that first lap, particularly after Valterri Bottas lost control of his Mercedes while driving in a straight line.  He didn't hit anything, which counts as some minor miracle.  Anyway, everybody dove into the pits for rain boots... everybody but Force India, either through mistake or just sheer bloody-mindedness.  It didn't go well.  The track was pretty much unable to be driven on with slicks, as Lawsuit Perez proved when he only just missed turning his car into very small carbon fiber shards at the top of Eau Rouge/Radillion.  In what counts as a masterpiece of understatement, Perez later described it as a "pants sh*tting moment".

After crawling back around, the team was in no rush to send them back out, and for a wonder the rains stopped and the circuit immediately began to dry.  Times began plummeting, and the pink cars were released at what turned out to be pretty much the perfect moment.  A short span of time later, and the second row was theirs.  While it's true that Force India has always done well here... remember their pole in 2009?... this has got to rank among their finest moments anyway.

Pay no attention to the massive time gap between Row 1 and 2... both Hamilton and Vettel took even greater advantage from the rapidly drying track, is all.  Tomorrow's race should be a humdinger, you betcha.  See ya then!

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August 21, 2018

Summer Break Is Over... Get On The Bus, Kids

Yup, Formula 1 is back for the second half of the 2018 season.  As has become tradition, the first race back will be at Spa-Francopants, the longest circuit on the calendar and the race with the highest percentage of the track being on Belgian soil.


While it's yet another race, it's also going to go down in history as the start of the Fernando Alonso retirement parade.  Yes, the LeMans winner announced during the break that this will be his last season in F1.  Exactly what he's going to be doing is still unconfirmed... he might stay in the WEC with Toyota, he might race IndyCar full-time, that's not announced yet.

I expect he'll be in IndyCar... he only needs the 500 to win the Racing Triple Crown, after all... at which point I'm afraid I'll have to start writing his obituary for future use.  There was yet ANOTHER major crash-and-injury in IndyCar, this time last weekend at Pocono.  Robert Wickens got tangled up with Ryan Hunter-Reay and was launched onto the top of the outside barrier.  He was nose-high, however, and it took only a few moments for him to hit one of the support posts for the safety fence.  Cue rapidly disintegrating car, the pieces of which wound up taking out a few others.  Wickens suffered broken legs, one arm was broken, bruised lungs, and most seriously, a broken spine and spinal cord damage.  The severity of that is as of yet unknown.  This is the same track where Justin Wilson was killed back in 2015, just as a coincidence.

In slightly more positive news, Pierre Ghastly was officially named as the Red Bull replacement for Smiley Ricciardo.  Nobody was surprised.  

So yeah, race this weekend.  I'll be watching, we'll see about a writeup.  See ya then!

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July 26, 2018

Oh, Hey, Hungary Is This Weekend.

My least favorite circuit at a time where I'm really down on F1?  I'll monitor everything, if and when anything interesting happens I'll blog about it, but whew.


This may be disappointing to my two or three remaining F1 fans but I'm really toasty around the edges and can't work up the energy right now.  I love you all for sticking around, I really really do, and I hope you stick around forever.

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July 19, 2018

F1 on The ESPNs: Germany 2018

Gotta hurry on this post... again... while my old computer works and my bodyhealth stays above "miserable".  Here's the track map for the home of the Grand Prix of Germany, Hockenheim:


Remember, we had no grand prix in Germany last year... in the rotating track thing that Germany has, the Nurburgring couldn't afford it.  So it's Hockenheim's turn again!  For the most part, it's inoffensive with a touch of "what used to be" nostalgia involved.  As I always mention, back in the old days, there used to be a ridiculously high-speed section that went blasting through a forest in a semi-oval that reached from Turn 2 to Turn 6 on the new map... totally breathtaking, ridiculously dangerous.  It's probably good that it's gone, but...

Here's the alleged broadcast schedule:
Saturday
Practice 3: 5a - 630a  live on ESPNews
Quals: 8a - 930a  live on ESPNews
Sunday
2018 Grand Prix of Germany: 8a - 1030a  live on ESPN2

No promises on a F1U... if the race moves me to one, then there'll be one.  If not, there won't.  I'm working on it.  See you soon!

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July 07, 2018

F1 Quals: Britain 2018

A sunny day greeted the assembled tea-drinkin' hordes at Silverstone today, and with it came even hotter track temperatures than we had last week... remember, the race that saw tires blistering after only a few laps?  As a result of the nearly 130ºF surface temps, times were a little slower than expected today... how got effected?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Britain:


Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:26.818 1:26.256 1:25.892
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:26.585 1:26.372 1:25.936
3 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:27.549 1:26.483 1:25.990
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:27.025 1:26.413 1:26.217
5 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:27.309 1:27.013 1:26.602
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:27.979 1:27.369 1:27.099
7 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:28.143 1:27.730 1:27.244
8 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:28.086 1:27.522 1:27.455
9 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:27.962 1:27.790 1:27.879
10 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:28.279 1:27.843 1:28.194
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:28.017 1:27.901
12 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:28.210 1:27.928
13 Meatloaf Alonso McLaren Renault 1:28.187 1:28.139
14 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso
1:28.399 1:28.343
15 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:28.249 1:28.391
16 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:28.456

17 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:29.096

18 Sergey,  Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:29.252

NC Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes DNF


Nobody, really... or everybody equally.  Take your pick.  What we got was a Quals session that saw the Lewis Hamilton take pole by 44/1000ths of a second, and the top three covered by just a touch more than 1/10th of a second.  Easily the closest quals we've had all year.

Sadly, Pleasant Stroll beached himself in after only a few minutes in Q1 and didn't finish a lap.  Similarly, Brendan Hartley missed out on Quals altogether after a rather brutal high-speed accident in Practice 3 when his front suspension snapped under braking.  He's okay, but Toro Rosso couldn't repair the car in time.  

Teams are saying that a two-stopper is quite possible because of the heat, so we might have some interesting times tomorrow.  F1U! sometime afterwards... having dinner with Vaucaunson's Duck...  so see you then!

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July 05, 2018

F1 on... Somewhere: Great Britain 2018

The reason for the title will be understood soon enough.  Before that, though... it's SILVERSTONE!  


I know I'm not alone in disliking the new layout for this iconic track... essentially it ran from turn 1 to turn 7 directly (more or less).  Also the start-finish line was between Turns 8 and 9.  I guess the new pit facilities and grandstands are pretty darn amazing, so... yeah.   Oh, also: there's going to be a third DRS zone, which Formula1.com's maps don't show.  Whoops.

In any case, it's fast, it's grippy, the Maggots-Becketts-Copse complex is my favorite sequence of turns in F1, and since the whole place is built on a plateau and has its own microclimate, rain is always a possibility.  Let's hope!

Now for the bad news.  This is the point where I'd normally list out the broadcast schedule for the weekend, but I can't do that right now.  I have three sources for times/channels, and the only thing they agree upon is times.  What channel anything is going to be on is up in the air over here at Pond Central... to the point where Quals actually MOVED CHANNELS as I programmed it into my DVR.  So check your local schedule for your own set of times.  I can confirm that Quals is on Saturday and the Race is on Sunday.  So you've got that going for you.  Which is nice.

See ya soon!

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June 30, 2018

F1 Quals: Austria 2018

It didn't rain.  It needed to rain.  Someone make it rain during the race, please.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Austria:


Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:04.175 1:03.756 1:03.130
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:04.080 1:03.577 1:03.149
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:04.347 1:03.544 1:03.464
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:04.234 1:03.975 1:03.660
5 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:04.273 1:04.001 1:03.840
6 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:04.242 1:04.059 1:03.892
7 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:04.723 1:04.403 1:03.996
8 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:04.460 1:04.291 1:04.051
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:04.948 1:04.561 1:04.725
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:04.864 1:04.676 1:05.019
11 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:05.148 1:04.845
12 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso
1:05.011 1:04.874
13 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:04.967 1:04.979
14 Meatloaf Alonso McLaren Renault 1:04.965 1:05.058
15 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:05.264 1:05.286
16 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:05.271

17 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:05.279

18 Sergey,  Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:05.322

19 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:05.366

20 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:05.479


Wha-wuh-whaaaaaaat?  A Mercedes on the pole?  You could knock me over with a feather.  Really, there wasn't much in Quals today to make one sit up and take notice.  Oh sure, Haas got both cars into Q3 for the second consecutive race, a first for that young team, but... well.  

Race is in the morning, F1U! sometime afterwards.  See ya!

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June 27, 2018

F1 on The ESPNs: Austria 2018

This week, the hills are alive with the shriek of turbocharged V6s as the Formula 1 Zirkus makes its way to the Red Bull Ring in Austria!  Let's take a look at the track map, shall we?


Something about this place feels off to me.  Maybe it's just that it seems to be out in the middle of a field, running pleasantly up hill and down dale.  That's not the way race tracks should be, y'know?  Is it just me?  There's nothing particularly offensive about the RedBullRing, except its name, not really.  It's a track.  It has more elevation change than most, it's almost all right turns, and again, I fully expect farm animals to be grazing in the background of most camera shots.

Speaking of farm animals, we get SkySports again... here's the broadcast lineup on the various ESPN channels:
Saturday
Practice 3: 5a - 630a live on ESPNews
Quals: 8a - 930a live on ESPNews
Sunday
2018 Grand Prix of Austria: 8a - 1030a  live on ESPN2

F1 Update! will follow along eventually in some form or another.  See ya then!

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June 24, 2018

F1 France 2018: I Dun Goofed

This has been a day to forget.


First, I couldn't fall asleep until nearly 5am.  Then I wound up not being able to get out of bed until nearly 2pm.  Came out to The Pond's Viewing Room, carrying a bit of lunch and a beverage, intending to watch the race.  It's all set, a good afternoon is in the making!  

But the race didn't record.  I spent a good couple of minutes trying to figure out exactly why it didn't record, but quickly realized it didn't matter.  There's a replay I can watch, right?  Yep... and it was just ending.

I'll be recording the next replay... which is at 7pm.  You can see where this is going, of course.  No F1U! tonight, hopefully Monday.  Which is particularly annoying, as I'm on 10 hours of mandatory overtime next week.  But gee whillikers, something up there apparently doesn't want watching the French Grand Prix.

...eep.

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June 23, 2018

F1 Quals: France 2018

Wow, did this day get away from me!  Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of France:


Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:31.271 1:30.645 1:30.029
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:31.776 1:31.227 1:30.147
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:31.820 1:30.751 1:30.400
4 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:31.531 1:30.818 1:30.705
5 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:31.910 1:31.538 1:30.895
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:31.567 1:30.772 1:31.057
7 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:32.394 1:32.016 1:32.126
8 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:32.538 1:32.055 1:32.635
9 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:32.169 1:31.510 1:32.930
10 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:32.083 1:31.472 DNF
11 False Esteban! Force India
1:32.786 1:32.075
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:32.949 1:32.115
13 Sergio Perez Force India
1:32.692 1:32.454
14 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso
1:32.447 1:32.460
15 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:32.804 1:32.820
16 Meatloaf Alonso McLaren Renault 1:32.976

17 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso
1:33.025

18 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:33.162

19 Sergey, Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:33.636

20 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:33.729


No huge surprises at the top of the grid.  Paul Ricard is the sort of circuit that rewards high horsepower, and for all its imagined faults, the Merc engine is still the best out there.  It stands to reason that they'd be on pole.

What REALLY makes no sense is the Sauber of Charles AMX-30 making it into Q3, and legitimately outpacing Haas for 8th.  That's quite the accomplishment for a team as down on their luck as Sauber... this AMX-30 kid looks to be quite good, y'know?

There's a decent chance of rain during the race tomorrow... let's hope so, it'll liven up a race that's looking like a snoozer... Paul Ricard is a great test track, but for racing it appears to be missing a certain something.  And it causes headaches, too.

Race in the morning, F1U! after.  See ya then!

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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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