October 31, 2005

It Seems Like A Lock...

It Seems Like A Lock...

...that HONDA will be announcing a second F1 team on 11/1/05.

...that CHRISTIJAN ALBERS is signing with Midland.

...that the NEW QUALIFYING METHOD will be universally hated by the end of the next season (they always are).

...that THIS ENTRY isn't turning into as good an idea as I thought it would.

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October 27, 2005

F1 News? Yuppers!

Okay, it's not the End of the Year Show, but there's still news to report! Lets take a look, shall we?

First off, there's another New Qualifying Format. As if we didn't have enough problems in the last couple of years, we now have a new one-hour qualifying session. Short version, it's a knockout-style system. All 20 (or more) cars start running on the track. After 15 minutes, the five slowest cars are removed from the circuit and fill the last five slots on the grid. After another 15 minutes, the next five slowest are pulled off and fill slots 11 to 15. The last 10 cars then run for 20 minutes, and fill the top 10 spaces. Fuel can be reloaded at any time during the first 30 or 40 minutes (this is somewhat ambiguous), but the last ten cars must run on race level of fuel, which can't be reloaded during quals, but will be "topped off" to whatever amount they began the final session before the race.

Another rule change comes with the New Tire Regulations. Thankfully for everybody, the single tire set has been scrapped, and good riddance. Instead, cars can have SEVEN sets of tires for the entire weekend, and tires can be changed at any time during the race. Rules for wet-weather rubber haven't been released that I can find, but I'd assume there's something similar planned.

There's another change coming in 2007, A New Rear Wing. This is gonna be a weird one, folks. In theory, the regular wing that runs all the way across the rear of the car will be gone, replaced by a SPLIT rear. Basically, there'll be a smaller wing over each rear wheel and a gap between them. The concept behind this is that this will not spoil the air behind the car as much as the full-width wing does, allowing for closer tailing, in theory leading to more passing. In practice, who knows? Lets face it, F1 will never be as pass-happy as NASCAR or IRL; there usually isn't enough flat-out length to a course to allow effective slipstreaming (at least, relative to what you get at Talladega or Michigan, for example). The biggest upshot of this is that F1 cars are going to look even more exotic in the future... perhaps NOT a drawing point in what should be F1's primary target market, the USA. While gearheads like the weirdos at F1 UPDATE! will drool over it, the NASCAR Nation might have more of a problem with it. Time will tell.

And as Fine Reader Simon mentioned in the comment thread HERE, the 2006 schedule has been released, and there's some interesting changes ahead. The season kicks off in Bahrain March 12th, goes to Sepang for the Malaysian GP the next week, then Melbourne Australia on April 2nd. Exciting for the Wonderduck is that San Marino/Imola is on my birthday, April 23rd. Two weeks later, the Nurburgring is visited for the Euro GP. May 14th brings us Barcelona and the Fernando Alonso Grand Prix. After that, we hit the one-race-every-two-week stretch, with Monte Carlo on May 28th, Silverstone on June 11th (the same day as the first Sunday of Soccer's World Cup? Eep!), then Canada on June 25th.

F1 obviously feels like they owe the Brickyard a boon after the debacle there last year, for they've given the US Grand Prix the July 2nd date... Formula One racing in the US during the Independence Day weekend? WOO-HOOOOO!!!

Then back to Europe on July 16th for the French GP, humorously listed as being at "Mangy-Cours" HERE. Does that mean that France will be losing its fur then? Another two week break, then Hockenheim hosts the German GP, followed by the ZZZzzzz-Ring for the Hungarian GP. THREE WEEKS LATER brings us to the second ever Turkish GP... apparantly they'll need that time to get thru the Istanbul traffic. Monza hosts the Italian GP on September 10th, followed by Spa-Furrypants on September 17th.

Asia gets another visit from Carnivale F1 with Suzuka Japan hosting the Japanese GP October 1st, followed by Shanghai's Chinese GP October 8th. Finally, the season comes to an end on October 22nd at Brazil's Interlagos ("Between The Loofas" in Swedish).

Looking at it, I'm not a huge fan of the way the season looks like it'll be limping to an end with the two-week gap there between China and Brazil. They might have been better served to have Brazil after the USGP, and move France thru China back a couple of weeks, but that's just me.

Finally, a bit of humor. Renault, in a final attempt to get some love for their championship year, made one of their V10 engines sing. What song? "We Are The Champions." (hat tip to Tim Blair) Rumor has it that McLaren tried the same thing, but kept hitting a drain cover...

So... is that enough news for you F1-Heads? This weekend, I promise to have the End Of The Year Awards Show. I hope.

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October 17, 2005

340.

340. That's the number of F1 races Minardi participated in.

Over. Done. Gone away. Renamed "Squadra Torro Rosso," or Squad Red Bull in Italian.

340 races of history, gone in a stroke of a pen. Thanks, Red Bull. What would have been wrong with "Squadra Torro Rosso Minardi" or "Minardi Torro Rosso"?

No, we can't have things like "tradition" in F1. B*stards.

Throw in the fact that the bleedin' WHITE SOX are going to the World Series before my beloved Chicago Cubs, and there's no doubt: the Duck is grumpy.

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October 15, 2005

Well, THAT was interesting...

1237am, I'm not liveblogging the Chinese Grand Prix, but I HAD to post something about what I just saw.

On the way to the grid for pre-race festivities, Christijan Albers just ran over Slappy Schumacher, when Schumi was warming his tires (I think). Mad scramble in the pitlane to get the backup cars up and running!

But, boy, did Albers get some air after driving directly OVER the left-rear of the Ferrari... and the fragility of the cars was shown quite clearly. The Minardi's rear half looked like it was twisted 30degrees to the left in relation to, say, the cockpit until it came back down to earth. Yeek!

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October 14, 2005

F1 Quals: China!

Hoo-boy. Y'know, if there was any doubt that the Constructor's Championship was going to come down to the wire, it was completely erased by today's qualifying session.

An all-Renault front row, McLaren 3-5, with Button's Honda (note: no longer BAR-Honda) stuck in-between 'em. As far as the race itself goes, it may not be any great shakes: our winner is probably one of those five, and I'm not putting any money down on ol' Mr. 100 if you know what I mean.

Takuma Sato IS driving this race, much to my surprise... and he got out-driven by a Sauber AND a Jordan, if you can believe it! The only people behind him are the Minardi Twins and Tiago Montiero. Sure, he went out first, but good golly, what does Button have that he doesn't? Okay "talent," sure, but has Honda put all their techs onto The Century Man?

Gonna be a fun one... and the last time we'll see Minardi, Jordan, and Sauber, too. Minardi's going to be renamed "Red Bull" in Italian, Jordan becomes Midland, and Sauber BMW. Ah well, who needs traditions anyways?

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October 12, 2005

F1 on Speed!

Okay, here's the TV coverage for the Chinese GP on SPEED this week... it's odd this time around, and there doesn't seem to be a replay of the actual race, so be prepared to stay up late Saturday night! All times are central, where the Pond is.

Friday, October 14th:
1am - 2am: Practice (live)
11pm - 12mid: Practice (replay)

Saturday, October 15th:
12mid - 130a: Quals (live)
7pm - 830p: Quals (replay)

Sunday, October 16th:
1230am - 3am: Chinese Grand Prix, live!
3am - 4am: F1 Decade, 1995 Pacific Grand Prix.

Please note that the replay of the practice rolls directly into the live coverage of the Quals.

Sorry, not very interesting today. I'm still taking it easy after the illness I went through. I did watch the first couple of laps of the Japanese GP again, and its still one of the more exciting beginnings I've seen in a while. Phew.

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October 08, 2005

Eep!

If you're here looking for the F1 Update! for the Japanese Grand Prix, please be aware that the F1 Update crew took a nap this evening... and woke up an hour after the race started. Thankfully, Skippy the Errand Boy set the VCR, so we'll still be able to watch the race.

And Skippy is being promoted... to "VCR Chief."

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F1 Quals: Suzuka!

Okay, I'll admit it: I haven't watched the quals all the way through yet. I started to watch, saw that the track was wet, said "this'll be interesting," and promptly fell asleep on the couch.

I woke up in time to see the last couple of runners in a deluge. I have no idea how could even POSSIBLY keep the car on the track... they weren't driving, they were floating.

We had cars taking almost 2 minutes to finish a lap on what can be a fast track. Amazing.

Cora Schumacher's Husband has the pole in his Toyota, Jensen Button is 2nd, giving us a Toyota-Honda front row in Japan. How appropriate!

Suicide Sato is 5th, and the rest of the field is jumbled beyond belief. They may as well have just put all the driver's names into a helmet and pulled them out at random: it really IS that jumbled. Heck, Narain Karthekeyan is 11th, ahead of BOTH McLarens, a Ferrari (Slappy Schumacher), a Renault (Our Champion), a Williams (Jungle Boy), and a Toyota (The Engineer). Christian Klein is fourth in his RedBull.

Giancarlo Fisichella's third position actually doesn't appear out of place, one of the few cars that you can say that about. Kimi Raikkonen took OVER 2 minutes to make it around the track, and would have qualified dead last, even if he didn't have a 10-spot penalty for an engine change. Tiago Montiero tried to bury his Jordan in the kittylitter (how appropriate!).

So, anyway, yeah, this is going to be an interesting race! Suzuka is Ralfy-Boy's favorite track, he's on pole, and other than... 1994, I think?... this race has ALWAYS been won from the front row (the two cars on the first row crashed and took each other out in 1994). SO don't be surprised if Toyota is on the podium on Honda's home track tonight.

Off-topic here, but I watched a little bit of WWE Homecoming last night, while waiting for the F1 coverage to start. Apparantly Triple-H has been out for the past three months, I assume with some injury, and he returned to action, tagteaming with The Nature Boy, Ric "Woo!" Flair against two people I've never seen before.

Of course Flair stole the match, showing that a 304 year old can still put on a decent show... but the part I wanted to talk about was after the match was over. Understand, I haven't watched wrestling for over a year, but I used to be a big fan... that's how I met Official First Reader Mallory, after all. Anyway, after the match, Trips and Flair are celebrating (and is it just me, or did Trips look a little out-of-shape?), and I said out-loud:

"Sledgehammer to head, beatdown, crimson mask. I have no idea why, but HHH is gonna cream him, then beat him to a pulp."

And lo, thirty seconds later... Sledgehammer to head. Beatdown. And NOBODY can bleed like Ric Flair. They went to commercial. When they came back, Trips was STILL painting the arena red with Flair's blood except now they were in the back. And I said out-loud "wall, table, slap, car." And lo, it came to pass that Flair was thrown onto a table, into a wall, slapped in the mouth, and slammed onto the back of a limo (white limo + red blood = ewwwwww!).

Then, of course, I said "sledgehammer to the windshield." I got that one wrong. It was actually sledgehammer to the passenger window.

How in the world did I think that wrestling was creative??? I called the whole darn post-match!

Mallory, what was I thinking???

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October 05, 2005

2nd Honda Team Mystery Deepens...

Okay, so it's not the Dome team, according to reports out of Japan (as seen at grandprix.com. The Dome folks are categorically denying that they'll be running next season.

So, who's next on the suspects list? Team Super Aguri, also out of Japan (which seems to be a given now). Founded by former F1 driver Aguri Suzuki, last seen wrecking his Ligier during quals for Suzuka in 1995 (where he had his best finish, a podium 3rd in 1990), he went on to create a Team to funnel talented youngsters into other Leagues, in a Japanese version of the Red Bull Racing plan, more or less. They've run cars in IRL and helped found Honda's Formula Dream series in Japan, so they have some experience under their belts, too.

Speculation has it that they'd actually be based in BAR-Honda's workshops, which are physically large enough to house two completely seperate teams... call them the BAR-Honda Juniors, I suppose.

We'll see... no matter what team it is that comes in, with the apparant death of the Minardi name on the horizon, F1 Update! will be adopting them as their new favorites. Even moreso if they have Taku as their primary driver... of course, if by some miracle they brought in Zsolt, I'll travel to their home base and kiss the shoes of their sporting director.

Again, Taku AND Zsolt? How much fun would THAT be??? Forget about your Schumacher/Barrichello's and your Raikkonen/Montoya's and your Alonso/Fisichella's... they wouldn't be a patch on the power that is Sato/Baumgartner!

Though nothing'll beat the Minardi Albers/Friesacher combination for sheer comedic value... the Minardi Chicane is WAY up there in the race for "funniest moment in F1" award for this year.

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October 04, 2005

F1 on Speed! & Other Stuff

Welcome to the Land of the Rising Sun! Home of sushi (mmm-MMM!), saki (mmm-MMMM!!!), Pocky (mmmmm-MMMMMM!), anime (w00t!), and... SUZUKA!

It's time for the Grand Prix of Japan, ladies and gentlemen! Last year's race was quite a momentous one... you might remember there was a typhoon that JUST missed the track, but still managed to wash out all of Saturday's activities. This led to a historic first in F1: qualifying for the race was on Sunday, just before the race... and it worked so well that F1 decided to keep it this year!

...where it was universally reviled by the teams, and dumped after a handful of races. Oh well... I liked it. There was something about four straight hours of live F1 that brings out the total geek in me. But I digress... it's time to take a look at the TV schedule for F1 on SPEED. All times are central, since that's where the Pond is located.

One nice thing about global travel is that when F1 goes far enough west (east?) of the US, us Yanks get to see the coverage at a half-decent hour... at least for ME it's decent... I'm not sure about Official First Reader Mallory. Official Overseas Reader Flotsky, you're stuck with what WE normally have to put up with, I guess.

First off, "Friday Practice" is actually on THURSDAY this time around, at 1159pm to 1am, 10/6/05. Okay, it's really midnight, but roll with me here.

Qualifying starts at 11pm on Friday, 10/7/05, and ends at 1230am on Saturday, followed immediately by "Inside Grand Prix".

Saturday, 11pm-1130pm: Inside GP again, followed immediately by the actual race, 1130pm to 2am; that's 10/8/05.

All of the above times are LIVE, by the way. The replay of the race is at 3pm on Sunday, 10/9/05, until 530pm. I admit it's very uncool to stay home on Saturday night, but I suspect I'll be camped out on the couch at 11pm on Saturday...

Now then... rumors! This duck's favorite driver, Takuma 'Suicide' Sato, may very well have a drive next year... but not with Jordan-Midland or Minardi, or even any of the other teams that are out there right now! Yes, the current talk is that there's going to be a new team on the grid!!!

The good people over at Grandprix.com are talking about something that flew under F1 Update!'s radar, an announcement from Honda that they'll be providing engines for another team, that currently ISN'T on the rosters. This team is suspected to be the Dome (which would be pronounced DOUGH-may, by the way) team.

As grandprix.com mentions, running a F1 team is NOT a spur-of-the-moment thing, and Dome isn't new on the scene. According to them, Dome first announced their intention to join F1 back in 1986, and while they haven't joined up, they've been honing their skills by building, amongst other things, Formula 3 cars (the forerunner of today's GP2) and other "minor league" cars... including an attempt to join the IRL (failed).

And who is expected to be lead driver for the team, if it exists? Taku. I'd like to suggest Zsolt Baumgartner as the second driver... my dream lineup, right there!

...which is kind of scary, if you think about it.

In other F1 news, Honda bought out British-American-Tobacco's 55% share of BAR-Honda. The team should still be known as BAR-Honda, though, as BAR (British-American Racing) will still be doing advertising with the team. Still, for all intents and purposes, BAR-Honda is now a manufacturer's team, just like BMW will be, and Ferrari.

Takuma Sato (what, him again?) is expected to be driving the Japanese entry in the new A1GP series, once the F1 season ends.

Finally, ending this all-Japan entry of F1 coverage, this might be the last time we see Suzuka for a while... because Toyota is pushing hard to get Mt. Fuji back on the calendar. Of course, Toyota OWNS the Mt. Fuji track, using it as a test course, so getting a race in there would be a nice way to a) earn extra revenue, and b) get an advantage over everybody else on one track.

Speaking as a fan, I'm all for trading off between Suzuka and Mt. Fuji. I've never seen a race at Mt. Fuji, but the historic layout looks interesting. It may have changed, of course... but the more tracks we get to see, the better. Of course, tracks like Spa-Francopants, Monaco, Silverstone and Monza need to be run every year... the legendary tracks. But why not move the Euro GP to a different track every year? I've heard a lot about Jerez, and how it's the big test facility, and how it's almost infinitely adjustable ... but it's been a while since a race has been run there. Lets get rid of the Hungaroring, bring back the A1-Ring!

...and while we're at it, how about bringing back Watkins Glen, Bernie?

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