August 26, 2006

Turkish GP Quals

There are hundreds of good race tracks out there. Only a select few have what could be called 'legendary' turns.

Spa has 'Eau Rouge'. Monza has 'Parabolica.' Suzuka has '135-R'. Laguna Seca has 'the Corkscrew'. Road America has 'the Carousel.' Silverstone has the 'Maggots-Becketts' complex. Monaco has 'the (Lowes) Hairpin'. You could even throw Daytona's 'Tri-Oval' into the mix, and I'd not complain.

I think it's safe to say that we're seeing the birth of a new legendary turn here at Istanbul Park. Turn 8, what I've taken to calling "Quad-8", is truly special. Four apexes, flat-out, five Gs... what more could you ask for in a turn?

We've got a Ferrari 1-2 on the grid. The surprise is that it isn't Parky on pole. Felipe Massa, who earlier in the season earned his first podium, got his first pole position today. Shame it won't lead to his first win unless something dreadful happens to Schumacher. SOMEONE on this team is sandbagging right now. My guess is that Schumi is running more fuel than Massa, which means a longer first stint.

Truth be told, Ferrari looks like they're the dominant team again and Alonso's got to be worried. His ten point lead in the championship looks very shaky, and he's got to know that his teammate ain't helpin' much.

Alonso and Fisi are 3-4.

Jensen Button, winner of Hungary, is sitting 6th, and may very well be on the podium somewhere at the end of it all. Kimi is 7th, probably with a lot of fuel (I'm surprised he isn't towing a wagon behind him to carry it all), which makes him a darkhorse for the race. McLaren has really been a big enigma this season, which is a shame. They were SO promising last season.

Should be fun; lets hope they figure out the right camera angle for Quad-8!

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August 23, 2006

F1. Speed. Any questions?

The summer break is over for the F1 Circus, and it's (finally!) time for the teams to get back to racin'!

Friday, 6a-7a, brings us live coverage of 2nd Practice. This is only the second time F1 has raced on the Istanbul track, so this is gonna be important (for once).

Saturday brings us live coverage of the Quals from 6a to 730a. Last year, the triple-apex turn (is it #8?) bit Jensen Button enough to kick him out of an apparant pole run... will the same happen with the new qual format?

Saturday evening brings us the replay of EVERYTHING: 7p is Inside Grand Prix, brought to us by Allianz. "Allianz: we do things with other people's money that makes us rich.", 730pm is practice replay, 8-10p is qual replay.

Then, finally, Sunday brings us the Grand Prix of Turkey, live, at 630a to 9am. The replay is at 1130a to 2pm.

In brief news bits, Renault has lost the ability to use their Hockey Puck in a Coffee Can, better known as their 'mass dampers.' I can't wait to hear why, exactly.

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August 19, 2006

USGP News!

Finally, some good news about the US Grand Prix. Darth Bernie signed the contract last week, and the USGP will be staying at Indianapolis for at least one more year.

The race'll be held on June 17th. It seems that Tony George, owner of the Indy motor speedway, holds more cards than we thought. HE was the one who decided to go for a one-year contract, as he's concerned about the direction F1 is taking.

Darth Bernie, it seems, wanted something longer and more permanent. Finally, a chink in the black laquered armor?

Let's hope so.

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August 07, 2006

Silly Season In Full Swing

First it was Fernando Alonso signing on with McLaren.

Then Kimi Raikkonen probably signed on with Ferrari.

Then, last week, Man-mountain Wurz signing on with Williams.

Then we had the whole Jack Newtown/Robert Kubica thing.

Well, now it's all starting to shake out.

Newtown is out of a drive at BMW-Sauber, effective last week. It appears the whole "I'm injured" thing was a face-saving ploy for Jack, as BMW came to him and said 'we want to take a look at Kubica, and we won't guarantee that you'll get to drive again.' After Hungary, it looks pretty clear that he'd never be allowed within 50 feet of the car again.

Mark "Nick Heidfeld" Webber, who will be unseated by Man-mountain in 2007 at Williams, has been signed by Red Bull. This puts Christian Klien on the skids.

We've also heard rumblings from the Ferrari camp that Ross Brawn is planning on a one-year sabbatical, and team principal Jean Todt's contract is up at the end of the season.

My question is: Why all of this now?

It's been pretty clear that the Driver Market has been stalled, waiting for Parky Schumacher to 'make up his mind' about retiring. With his most recent bit of street theatre in the books (cutting the chicane, passing under the red flag), one begins to suspect a whiff of desperation from M. Schumacher... could it be that he's finally decided that this is the proverbial 'It'?

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August 05, 2006

...the Hell?

Does ANYBODY at the FIA know ANYTHING?

If you hadn't heard or didn't watch, both Parky and 'Nando were given penalties before qualifying today: 2 seconds added onto their laptimes. This means that to avoid relegation during the knockout format, they had be two seconds faster than the last 'green' car.

'Nando actually got two one second penalties. The first was for his antics during second Friday practice when he, apparently, thought he was driving a NASCAR vehicle and brake-checked Robert Doorknob (editor's note: hey, look! A Doorknob sighting) going into turn one. The second penalty was for passing under a yellow flag, also during practice.

Parky got his penalty for passing under a RED flag during Saturday's practice. The flag was brought out for a truly spectacular engine failure on Jensen Button's Honda that saw flaming chunks of aluminium spraying across the track, an oil slick that the Exxon Valdez would have been proud of, and enough smoke to clear the Hungaroring of mosquitoes for the weekend.

Here's the problem: Parky's penalties were handed down TEN MINUTES into the 15 minute Q1 session. As you know, I'm no fan of team Ferrari, and I'm REALLY not a fan of Michael Schumacher, but this is ridiculous. I have no problem with the penalty; he broke the rules and deserved to pay the price for doing so (see: Monaco, qualifying, 'Parky').

The problem I have with it is the amount of time it took the FIA to slap him with the penalty. There is, what, an hour between Saturday practice and the start of Q1? Does it REALLY take 70 minutes plus whatever time was left in practice to decide to hit Parky with a penalty, then decide what the penalty is to be? Did the FIA have a hard time waking up the Penalty Chicken or something?

And in the case of both drivers, why two seconds in quals? Why not a 10-spot penalty, which is a SURE penalty, as opposed to something that can be overcome (with difficulty, of course, but Parky almost made it into Q3 despite the time slap, missing by .200 of a second)?

I'm sorry, but the FIA seems to have a major case of cranial/rectal inversion these days.

On the plus side, you have Kimi Raikkonen on pole, with Felipe Massa and Rubens Barrichello rounding out the top three. Jensen Button would be fourth if his engine hadn't've detonated, which puts Pete Rose in that spot.

The other excitement was watching the Pole's run for Pole. Robert Kubica, in his first ever F1 race, took his BMW-Sauber into Q3, where he sat 6th for quite some time, until a flurry of new tires on the big boys dropped him down to 10th. He then managed to claw back into 6th with 1:20 left in Q3... only to be bumped back down to 10th after the smoke cleared. Still, a VERY impressive run for the 21-year old, who looked very confident out there... actually, he looked better than Nico "Wonderboy" Rosberg has since the first race.

But Rosberg had the name, and the GP2 background, and Kubica had neither. Oh well.

Looks to be an interesting race on Sunday. I'd say it's either going to be Raikkonen or Massa, but it wouldn't surprise me to hear that Ferrari is planning shenanigans to get Parky up the grid. The F1 UPDATE! crew will be all over this one!

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August 02, 2006

Silly Season In Full Farce

First it was Juan Pablo Montoya diving for NASCAR, being replaced by Pete Rose.

Then it was JV maybe being out of a drive at BMW, replaced at Hungary (at least) by Robert Kubica.

Now? Now Williams announcing today that Alexander ("Man Mountain") Wurz will have a drive for them in 2007. Since Nico ("Wonderboy") Rosberg is signed to a multi-year deal, this leaves Mark ("Nick Heidfeld") Webber without a seat for next year.

I see Red Bull in his future... maybe he'll drive one of their mobile homes.

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August 01, 2006

Hmmm... veddy interistink!

Jack Newtown has been replaced by Polish-born Robert Kubica for the Hungarian GP! Jack took himself out of the drive, saying that he was 'not ready to race' (which never stopped Zsolt Baumgartner!) after his heavy crash during the German GP.

I've rolled the video tape, and for what it's worth, Jack sure seems to be walking around and moving quite normally after the accident; of course the videotape doesn't get into how he actually feels (and considering the way he wears his firesuit, he could have another person in there with him and you couldn't tell, let alone injuries) so maybe he really IS hurt.

Or perhaps BMW is getting a jump on the Silly Season? BMW boss Mario Theissen has said that they "have not made a decision on who will drive the car either in the remaining races of the season or next year."


Actually, it's too bad. Jacques V. hasn't had a bad season at all, really. As much as I dislike him, I don't know that he deserves to lose his ride. It's not like BMW-Sauber could have legitimately expected to run with the Big Three this year, could they?

Hey, I've got a joke for y'all:

Q: What do you call a Polish F1 driver?
A: "Funnycar Driver."

(for the record, I'M Polish, so can the yappin'. I also think that Kubica looks like quite the talent.)

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