May 28, 2006

F1... er... INDY 500 UPDATE!

Okay, so this isn't a full-blown UPDATE!, but a quick report on the Indy 500. I managed to see the last 70 laps or so of the race. I wasn't being anti-social; it was 90+ degrees (847 degrees European) here today, and while everybody else was able to stand the heat, the medication I'm on makes me sensitive to sunlight and high (and low) temps. So, I ate ribs and potato salad inside.

Anyway, today's 500 reminded me of the one thing that's really lacking in F1 these days (and most of the time, historically): close finishes. And lots of passing. But I digress. In the 2nd-to-last lap, Sam Hornish Jr., running 2nd, makes a move to pass Mario Andretti's grandson, 19 year old Marco, who had taken the lead on a yellow-flag session. The move failed, and wound up with Hornish dropping back probably 10 car-lengths. At that point, I said out loud (the menfolk had gathered around to watch), "Race over. No way Andretti's gonna be caught."

Half a lap later, Hornish was maybe two lengths back heading into turn three. Coming into four, he's right on Marco's tail, and I'm just like "no way what I'm seeing is happening!"

They come out of the turn, Hornish is so close, it almost looks like his nose wing is under Andretti's tail wing. They've both got momentum out of the turn, I figure Hornish had given everything he had; very close, but no pocky. In the slow-mo replay at this point, you can actually see Andretti's rear-end wash out slightly: it seemed to fishtail, like he hit the gas coming out of a standing start or something. I'm still not sure if I REALLY saw it, or if it was some camera artifact. Maybe the fact that Hornish's car was so close, it somehow upset the airflow going over Andretti's tail (though I have no idea how THAT would happen).

Whichever. Hornish dives underneath and Andretti floats over to block. Hornish cuts even farther inside and slingshots even with him. Then, like his car has an extra gear or something, he just blows the (metaphorical) doors off Marco's car, and crosses the line something like .016 seconds ahead; the second-closest margin of victory in IRL history.

At first, I was thinking that Hornish had faked Andretti (a rookie) out with a bob right before his weave left... but I didn't see it in the replay at all. An amazing finish... that's one heckuva way to win the Indy 500!

Mario Andretti looked like he was going to cry.

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Race Day, Memorial Day...

...and I'm going to the folks' pond for the afternoon. I won't be able to watch Monaco until later this evening, probably. And I won't see the Indy 500 at all.

So, please, if you have ANY feelings for me and this website... don't post Monaco spoilers!!!

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May 27, 2006

Monaco Quals... oh boy.

"This is embarrassing. Embarrassing for a world champion. It would even be embarrassing for Ide."
-Jacques Villeneuve, speaking about Michael Schumacher's incident.

Let's face it: Schumi flat-out cheated his way to the pole, then blatantly lied about it. His post-qual interview, conducted by Peter "Softball" Windsor, proved that he couldn't lie his way out of a paper bag. Forgetting the name of arguably one of the most famous corners in F1? Riiiiiiight. Okay, Schu...

Fernando Alonso was a third of a second faster than him going into the final sector, but one of the finest precision drivers in the history of the sport supposedly screwed up a VERY low-speed turn, took two car-lengths to "correct" from it, then stalled his Ferrari, bringing out the yellow.

This is far from the first time he's done something like this, on this track. Wasn't it just last year that he, desperate to get a red flag so he could narrow down the gap to the leaders, "couldn't get by" a spun Minardi? Even though there was plenty of room?

This was so blatant that the FIA immediately declared an investigation. If they judge Schumacher to have done this intentionally, he'll lose ALL his qualifying times, sticking him at the back of the grid... even farther down than his teammate, Felipe Massa, who was the only man to crash on the day.

Couldn't happen to a nicer team.

(UPDATE 638pm Central)
The FIA has decided, and the news is NOT good for Schumi. He's been kicked back to 8th on the grid because of this incredibly obvious and stupid incident.

In related news, Giancarlo Fisichella was dumped to 10th for (inadvertantly) blocking Jack Newtown. One has to think that unless he wins half a dozen races the rest of the way, he's going to be booted from Renault at the end of the season. Amazing, just amazing.

(UPDATED UPDATE 825pm Central)
Turns out it's even worse for Schumi than I had heard. He's been dumped to the BACK OF THE GRID. From the official F1 website:

"Their (the stewards -ed) finding was that Schumacher had no justifiable reason for braking so hard, as he had been traveling little or no quicker than at the same point on previous laps. They therefore concluded that he deliberately stopped his car on the circuit, an infringement of the sporting regulations."

Chances are now excellent that Ferrari will score no points in Monaco, and further sanctions are a possibility. Worse, however, is the huge blot this puts on Michael Schumacher's recordbook. Yes, he's won 7 driver's championships, but he's a flat-out cheater. Twice when the championship was on the line, he's intentionally tried to wreck rivals' cars. He's tried to game the stewards who knows HOW many times... he may be one of the greatest drivers ever, but did Ayrton Senna ever do something like that? Jackie Stewart? Hell, Fernando Alonso?

I wouldn't be opposed to him being suspended for the rest of the season. Hell, take away his superlicense. Yuji Ide may have sucked, but he didn't break the rules, flagrantly and with malice. He was just bad.

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May 25, 2006

Practice a la Monaco

I am completely in awe of the drivers of F1 cars. The sheer cojones it takes to drive quickly around the streets of Monaco is amazing. The task of horking the car around the course, just inches from the Armco barriers, has to be THE epitome of driving ability.

And in the end, the streets reach up and grab the unwary. Ant Davidson and Bobby Kubica got bit, Ant immediately after setting the fast lap for the session, bringing out the red flags. Others didn't quite kill their cars, and thankfully there's ONE little spot on the track that has a bit of run-off room (ironically, leading right to the chapel), otherwise there'd've been quite a few more carbon fiber shards.

If there is a race where the Toro Rosso boys have a great chance of scoring some points, it's this one. That V10 may be down on revs, but it DOES accelerate out of low-speed corners like a scalded badger.

That first Qualifying session is going to be awfully entertaining... expect to see 22 cars clambering to be first on the grid when the green flag flies, on the most cramped circuit of the season.

Sweepers, man your brooms!

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May 23, 2006

F1 on SPEED!: Monaco

This is it. The Crown Jewel of the F1 calendar. The pagentry, the glitz, the glamour, the spectacle that is Monaco. The only real road course... and the Official First Overseas Reader, Flotsky, will BE there.

Lucky b@$tard.

For the rest of us poor schmucks, here's the televison schedule... all times central, add one for eastern, subtract two for west coast (Steven, that means you), and add the square-root of -1 for the denizens of Flatland.

First up, we get a rare THURSDAY practice session, since Monaco doesn't allow Friday practices... prolly because it prevents the world's tax dodgers from getting "home". Anyway, at 7am Thursday, 5/25/06, we've got live coverage which is replayed on...

FRIDAY, May 26th, at both 11am and 9pm.

SATURDAY, May 27th, brings us what should be an absolutely insane qualifying session. It's not as if there's a whole raftload of room on the streets of Monaco; expect a red-flag to throw all of quals into a tizzy, beginning at 7am. Replay the madness at 9pm that night.

SUNDAY, for all of you named 'Official First Reader Mallory', we've got the GP2 series race at 5am... then the REAL race is run, but we here in the US don't get to see it until somewhere around noon (check your local listings) on CBS. Yay.

Don't miss a bit of the fun from Monaco! And Flotsky, we will want a report...

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May 22, 2006

What the...?

How in the world does he get that head into a helmet?!??!?! Click HERE to see what I'm talking about.

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May 13, 2006

Spanish GP Quals

Gonna be short today, 'cause I gotta go to work in the AM (yes, on Sunday; it's Graduation Day for Duck U.).

The top of the grid is so neat and orderly! Renault front row, Ferrari second row, a Honda, both Toyotas, and a Honda. Of course Alonso is on pole, and is therefore the favorite to win this race, which often is little more than a parade (the Legendary Announce Team mentioned that the race has been won 13 of 14 times from the first row... and the one time it wasn't was Shumi in the wet from 3rd on the grid. Hardly a wide-open race.)

Of course, the teams LOVE this track, and test here whenever possible, so there's no mystery to it, like say Turkey or Bahrain.

Here in the US, the race is at noon on CBS... I'll be at work, so the F1 UPDATE! might not go up until very late, if not Monday (if I can stand the earsplitting pain that is the CBS announce duo).

See ya then!

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May 12, 2006

Racer becomes Hero.

Ever heard of Steve Sliwa? He's a Grand Am sportscar racer, drives for SDS Performance Racing. I caught him driving one day on SPEEDChannel, can't even remember the event, but the name stuck in my mind. Sliwa's not exactly a common name, don'tcha know.

He became a hero on Friday. Seems he was out riding his bicycle when an elderly woman backed out of her driveway, lost her brakes and rammed into a high-voltage transformer. The transformer burst into flames, taking the car with it... and she was trapped inside, her arm caught under a fold-down center armrest.

You can guarantee that if there's one thing an experienced racer knows, it's how to get out of a burning car. Except Merry Banks, 81, wasn't a race driver; she was an elderly woman in a locked car.

And this is where Steve Sliwa became a hero. He ran to the car, banged on the window to get her to unlock the door, and saw she was stuck... and that he would have to get her out before the blazing car did something really bad, like explode. She hit the unlock button, he yanked the door open, got her seatbelt undone, and carried her out of the car.

A moment later, the car or the transformer exploded, filling the passenger compartment with flames.

Sometimes lives hinge on freak occurrences. Read the full story HERE.

Wingtip up to Steve from all of us here at The Pond!

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Spanish GP practice.

Cars went on track, went around and around.

That's F1 practice in a nutshell.

More importantly, thanks to the Legendary Announce Team, I've come up with Franck Montagny's nickname.

I hereby dub him Franck "The Barber" Montagny.

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May 11, 2006

Yuji gone for GOOD.

Wow. SuperAguri's Yuji Ide wasn't just demoted to 3rd driver, he had his SuperLicense yanked by the FIA!

Which means that he's completely barred from driving in a race, and he can't be a test driver during race weekend (I think; I'm unsure about that). He had qualified for his SuperLicense by dint of his top-three finish in Formula Nippon, but because he had zero F1 experience previous to this year (having never been invited to drive a F1 car, unlike, say, current driver Nico Rosberg, who did some laps at Spa last year), his license was probationary.

The SuperLicense requires 300 miles of F1 experience before the season, but since SuperAguri was slapped together at such short notice, Fast Yuji couldn't get something like 200 laps at Silverstone (SA's closest track, more or less) run... I think SA had a total of 30 laps pre-season TOTAL.

So what does this mean for SuperAguri? Well, for probably the next two races Franck Montagny had a drive with them; there's just no time for them to stick someone else in the car. Longterm, SuperAguri wants to be an all-Japanese team, but other than Takuma Sato, there's no other Japanese drivers with F1 experience. That'd put SA in the unenviable position of having a second rookie driver with even LESS experience than Fast Yuji... and if that doesn't put the fear of God into someone, nothing will.

If Honda and SuperAguri really ARE as close as the claims go, Ant Davidson could be a possibility. Problem is, Honda desperately needs Ant to rip off those test laps for the main team.

So... I'm guessing we'll have to come up with a nickname for Franck.

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May 10, 2006

F1 on Speed: Spain

My heart's not in it.

Friday, May 12th.
7a-8a: Practice

Saturday, May 13th.
2a-3a: Practice replay
7a-830a: Quals live.

Sunday, May 14th.
2a-330a: Quals replay
330a-4a: Inside GP.

Then the race is plausibly live on CBS Sunday.

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May 06, 2006

Euro GP Quals

Well, that was interesting! We discovered that Charlie Whiting has a sense of humor, that Giancarlo Fisichella is on the edge of going nuclear, and that the Super Aguri might be REALLY difficult to drive today.

In the first round of quals, we had a mystery red flag thrown with five minutes left to go, leading to team confusion and scrambling to get cars out on the track. Then, as if to emphasise the confusion even more, the FIA's timing and scoring system went to hell, making it look like Jacques Villenueve (to name the driver that the Legendary Announce Team were talking about) hadn't made it to Q2. When we came back to the track after commercial, they had everything fixed, but that couldn't have made things fun for the teams.

Then in Q2, we had Giancarlo Fisichella failing to advance AGAIN. This time, though, he believed he had someone to blame it on: Jack Newhouse. He threw a temper tantrum on track, waving and gesturing at Jack's BMW-Sauber. Alas, Jack was quite a bit ahead of the Italian, so he probably missed the gesticulating. In fact, he was far enough ahead that... well, there really wasn't a reason for Fisi's emotive handwaving. Ah, the legendary Italian Temperment (tm).

But it wasn't over yet! Oh no, it just got better! After Q2 was over and he had been relegated to 13th, Fisichella decided to take a stroll... well, a stomp... down to the Beemer-Sauber pits, and after walking into the wrong stall to begin with, finally found the target of his ire (who was sitting in his car, helmet on and about ready to get going) and let loose with a torrent of what I assume was rather heated Italian, all of which was caught on camera.

I rewound the VCR and turned the volume up to hear the exchange. The following is a transcript:

Fisichella: (translated) "I'm very slow in the car, but I'm going to blame my lack of talent on you, because you were faster than me."
Newhouse: "Someone get this guy a WAAAAHmbulance."
Fisi: "You SO did not just go there."
Jack: "Out of my way, slow lad, let the REAL drivers go to work."
Fisi: "Oh, snap."

Q3 gave us the usual parade of fuel-burning-laps, followed by Slappy Schumacher and Ferrari screwing up the final tire runs, making their last pit stop too late. That gave the Ferraris only one lap before the clock turned zeros, while Fernando Alonso had two. Alonso made the most of it and took pole, his first of the year.

Other news of the day was that Yuji Ide may have gotten a bit of vindication as Franck Montagny, replacing Fast Yuji, ended up a full ELEVEN seconds behind Takuma Sato, owing to a spin on his... well, we can't call it a hot lap... on his tepid lap. Maybe it isn't so easy to drive the Super Aguri.

We also discovered that the Williams boys had to change BOTH engines, owing to an apparant bearing problem, meaning that both Mark Webber and Nico (Wonderboy) Rosberg will be unlikely to do much of anything in the race tomorrow.

The weather was bright and sunny at The Nurb today, which means it'll probably be snowing at race time. Should be interesting... F1 on Skis!

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May 04, 2006


Fast Yuji is OUT as second driver for SuperAguri! Franck Montagnie (I'll fix the spelling later), recently named as the 3rd driver for SA, will be assuming the race position for this weekend's Grand Prix of Europe.

Yuji will stay with the team as the 3rd driver. The move was made "on the advice of the FIA," meaning that the Powers That Be said "Get this guy off the track before he kills himself or someone else."

Again, I'm a fan of SA, but even someone who knew nothing about F1 could have seen that he couldn't keep up the pace. Even a four-year old car was too much for him.

More news as details warrant.

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May 03, 2006


Ahhhhhhh... the race is back on SPEED. It's a wonderful thing to have the Legendary Announce Team doing the race live...

Friday, 5/5/06.
From 7a-8a, we've got live coverage of practice for the European GP at the Nurburgring. If only it was the OLD Nurburgring... but we'll take this.

Saturday, 5/6/06.
From 1230am-1a, we get Inside Grand Prix, starring Mr. Snootypants and brought to you by Allianz... "Allianz: We've Got A Logo."

At 1am to 2am, you get a repeat of the practice. At 7am to "830am", they bring us coverage of the Wacky Madcap Qual Session. I generally set my VCR for 945am, though, just to be safe.

Sunday, 5/7/06.
From 2am to 330am, they repeat the Wacky Madcap Qual Session.

From 5a-630a, we get the season debut of the GP2 series at its regular time. Watch the young'uns romp!

...and that leads us right up to 630a-9a, LIVE coverage of the GP of Europe, which is replayed from 1130a to 2pm.

Should be a fun one... of course, I say that every week, so what do I know?

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May 02, 2006

Yuji Races Euro.

Fast Yuji must have pictures of Aguri Suzuki doing something absolutely vile. That's the only explanation there is for the fact that he's going to be racing in this weekend's European GP.

Look, I love Fast Yuji. How could I not? I like the underdog. But c'mon, this is too much... or, more correctly, not enough. Not enough speed, not enough skill (please note: Yuji Ide is an excellent driver. He did remarkably well in Formula Nippon... but that's not the Big Leagues).

So blackmail it must be. Here's to ya, Yuji... ganbatte!

And to everybody else on the track, hope your insurance is paid up.

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May 01, 2006

BATracers Unite!

Okay, here's the gig. I want to start a private league amongst us Pond denizens.

It'd be a F1 2006 league... the problem is, I don't know if I have enough readers to set it up.

Respond in comments, folks. If you don't know what BATracer is, go HERE and take a look... then come back and tell me you're in!

...and if you know people who'd be interested, let me know that, too. While I'd like it to be Pond-based, a few 'outsiders' wouldn't be too bad, particularly if they're into it.

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