April 30, 2007

Okay, One More...

Hello, front desk? more...

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April 29, 2007

F1 Update: The Comic Strip.

I need to have a talk with my travel agent...

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April 22, 2007

Full Throttle '07

Usually it's the Spyker that's upside down...

On Saturday, the Spyker F1 team and the Royal Netherlands Air Force Demonstration Team put on a joint display, in the form of a race between Christijan Albers' car... and a F-16, over a 1km track.
Moments later, Albers was sucked into the intake...

From all reports, Albers had the lead for 300 meters, but had to pit to replace a damaged nose, then retired from the race.
*rimshot*

Actually, the F8-VII did lead for 300 meters: "All I could see was the F-16 in my mirrors, but then he just ran away from me," said Albers. "I've never been close to a F-16 before, and seeing him pull alongside, then pass, me was awesome!"

Albers has a lot of experience with being passed.

The F-16 and the Spyker then put on a show afterwards, with the Spyker doing donuts and skids on the runway (and who better than Albers for that, what with his experience on going off-track?) while the F-16 put on an airshow.

The Spyker Automotive Company has a history with the RNLAF, having built airplanes for the fledgling air force during WW1... and, of course, F1 cars are about the closest you can come to building a plane without having wings and a jet on it.

Hopefully some video will become available sometime soon.

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April 14, 2007

Grand Prix of Bahrain QUALS!

Wow, what a shocker! Ferrari, McLaren, Ferrari, McLaren? Who'd have thought!

As you can guess, there's no huge surprises in quals this time around... in fact, it's pretty much the same way it's been the previous two races. Massa, Hamilton, Raikkonen and Alonso will probably be taking long-term leases on the first four slots in the grid for the entire season. The real excitement will be who's behind them, and in this race, it's the two BMWs (Grizzly Nick and Robert Heidfeld), who were looking very strong (though, obviously, not as strong as the Big Two).

There was (finally!) a Renault sighting in Q3, as Giancarlo Fisichella dragged his steed up to 7th. Mark Webber's RedBull ended up in 8th, a smidge ahead of Jarno Trulli's Toyota and the Williams Boys of Rosberg and Man-Mountain. Heikki Koveinalieninenlain was 12th, and ANT kicked a huge portion of arse to get up to 13th (in fact, he just barely missed getting into Q3, being bumped right at the end). Ralfy-boy was 14th.

The factory Honda team of Rubens and Jensen were next, glaring balefully at Ant's SuperAguri. SuperSato was less than .200 behind Button, which really IS a surprise; he's usually faster than Ant.

Fashion-Victim Liuzzi and American Speed, the Toro Rosso duo, came up behind them. Spyker got a thrill when Adrian ("No Cute Nickname") Sutil made it off the last row of the grid, just ahead of David Coulthard's Chin. The Chin's car seems to be having problems, perhaps a repeat of the brake pedal fiasco from last race. There really isn't any reason that the RB3 should be this low on the grid, and should be at least in Q2 every race... unless DC'sC has lost the proverbial "it"?

Finally, inevitably, Christijan Albers is tail-end charlie, rounding off another great qual session for Spyker. Too bad they don't have any personality, I could really like a team that's this bad...

I suppose I should be more excited about Lewis Hamilton's 2nd place. He's a rookie in F1, it's only his third race, and if 'Nando wasn't his teammate, he'd have a decent shot at winning this one. As is, he might become the first driver ever to podium in his first three F1 races. That's pretty amazing, though it just means that he was plopped into a great team and a great car. If you think back, most new drivers in recent times have debuted for lower-level teams (Alonso for Minardi, Michael Schumacher with Jordan, Raikkonen with Sauber, just to name a few). Anybody think that Hamilton would be within sniffing distance of the top of the grid if he was driving for, oh let's say, Spyker?

So that's the grid for the GP of Bahrain, huh? I really hope BMW picks up a little bit more speed somewhere... I want to see SOMEONE beat the Big Two ONCE this year.

Oh, and in a completely unrelated note, this is post number 500 here at Wonderduck's Pond. Have some cake, everybody.

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April 13, 2007

Friday Practice: Bahrain

Only two important things to mention about today's practice at the sand-covered track in Bahrain:

1) Honda's cars may stink this year, but the engines have the sterling quality they've always had. Jensen Button got another taste of what having an afterburner is like today, with an absolutely brilliant case of the Ka-Blammo!s. Poor Felipe Massa, trailing behind the remains of Button's engine, wound up losing control when he hit the oil slick left behind as it pretended to be a fragmentation grenade. Ouch. In the one bit of good news for Jense, at least he won't take a 10-spot penalty due to the rules changes for this season...
(UPDATE: In comments, SDB asked if we got to see the engine go kablammo, and indeed we did. In the reply, however, I mentioned it's only the second-best Button kablammo of all-time. Both are shown below the fold!)

2) Jean Todt was spotted without his Ferrari sweater. I submit that it's a symbiote, similar to Spiderman's black costume/Venom... how he managed to seperate it from his skin, we'll (hopefully) never know. Electrical shocks tended to disrupt the symbiote in the comics, maybe Todt's is affected by McLaren victories? Still, very, VERY creepy to see him in a shirt and slacks. more...

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April 10, 2007

It's not easy being green...

Just ask Honda.

Remember the rumor I mentioned a few days ago, where Honda is going to scrap the RA107 and bring in a completely new car halfway through the season?

Planet-F1.com is saying it's true, with no less a person than Jensen Button coming out and saying it'll happen at Montreal.

Just how much difference will it make? That's not much time to design, create and test a new car. Even SuperAguri didn't manage it last year; they had to drag out the old Arrows chassis, and just updating it to the 2006 spec took three months. Honda is starting over, with TWO months.

Hoo-boy, this'll be interesting.

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F1 on SPEED!

Can we stand the excitement of having TWO Grands Prix in one week?!?!?

Friday the 13th brings us LIVE coverage of the Grand Prix of Bahrain's Practice #2 at 6am. The new F1 recap show, which SPEED's website calls "F1 Plus", then runs at 11pm.

To be honest, F1 Plus isn't a bad show at all. Even the F1 UPDATE! crew enjoyed it... even if one of them did tell me that cars had turbochargers. Obviously some sort of "let's make fun of the old guy" thing.

Saturday, April 14th, has LIVE coverage of the Quals at 6am, with a replay at 130pm.

Sunday, April 15th, brings us coverage starting at 230am with ANOTHER replay of the Quals session. That leads right into the first GP2 race of the season on SPEED at 4am. THAT event takes us up to LIVE coverage of the Grand Prix of Bahrain at (you guessed it) 6am. There will be a replay of (no, not quals again) the race at 9pm.

And, of course, the F1 UPDATE! gang will be all over the entire race weekend. Except for the Turbocharger guy... he's got some 'splaining to do...

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April 09, 2007

Yikes!

How hot does an F1 engine run?

How about this hot?

...and that, ladies and gentlemen, is why sitting and waiting for the lights to go out is a bad thing.

PS- I'm pretty sure it's a Renault.

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April 07, 2007

An Unsurprising Rumor

Tim Blair is reporting that there's a rumor floating along the paddock that Honda is so adrift with their car that they're considering building a completely new one for the second half of the season.

It's hard to imagine that they have so little grasp on their problems that they're considering The Extreme Option, but their performance to date does suggest that they're out of other ideas.

We'll see what leaks out...

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F1 Quals: Sepang!

How the mighty have fallen.

It's a cliche phrase, sure, but it's entirely appropriate after today's qualification session: neither Renault made it out of Q2.

Read that again: neither Renault made it out of Q2. The two-time Constructor's Champions couldn't do better than 11th on the grid. And they didn't even have the excuse of gearbox troubles or engine problems; the car was fine.

If we thought Flavio Briatore, team principal for Renault, tore strips off of lead driver Giancarlo Fisichella last year, what do you think was happening after this fiasco?

Up at the top of the grid, things are a little brighter: Ferrari, McLaren, Ferrari, McLaren. At the very end of Q3, Kimi, Fernando, and Felipe all turned in fastest laps of the session, one after the other. Kimi just had the misfortune of doing it first, which was then trumped by Alonso, which seconds later was slammed by Massa. Lewis Hamilton in the other McLaren was over a half-second behind Raikkonen's time, which may be down to the fuel load.

That same size gap is the difference between Hamilton and the fifth-place BMW of Nick Heidfeld, showing the disparity between the haves and the have-nots. Nico Rosberg, having a stellar qual session, ended up sixth, just ahead of Robert Kubica in the other BMW. Jarno and Ralf were 8th and 9th in their Toyotas. Tenth fell to Mark Webber's RB3... it appears that the 'engine problems' he had in Friday's 2nd practice were actually caused by a gearbox failure.

The two Renaults, as previously mentioned, are 11th (Kovaleineinennenin) and 12th (Fisichella). David Coulthard's Chin, who is the old man on the grid after celebrating his 36th birthday since Australia (note: the Duck turns 39 in a couple of weeks), brought his RB3 in at 13th, just ahead of SuperSato's SuperAguri...

...which again qualified ahead of both factory Hondas!

Jensen Button is 15th, and is lucky to be there. Vitantonio Liuzzi dragged his Toro Rosso in at 16th, just ahead of his teammate American Scott Speed. Ant's SuperAguri was quietly 18th, and a furious Rubens Barrichello was 19th.

Rubens wound up having to qualify the T-Car after his usual steed coughed up a lung a couple of minutes before Q1 started. It took the team close to 13 minutes to get the backup ready for him, so Barrichello got one lap to qual with. As you can see from the results, things did not go well.

Man-Mountain Wurz is 20th after having HIS gearbox try to tear itself out of his Williams.

But even with those problems, he still qualified better than both Spykers. Albers and Sutil are becoming the Minardi of 2007, except without any of the charm.

So there we have the grid for the 2007 Grand Prix of Malaysia! The race is early tomorrow morning, and the biggest question outstanding is: How will the two Renault drivers manage to sit down after having their butts chewed off by Flavor Flav?

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April 06, 2007

Friday Practice: Sepang!

Well, it didn't rain, and it wasn't particularly eventful, but there were a couple of things that happened during the practice that need to be mentioned:

1) Bridgestone realized that the "white dot" on the side of the tires wasn't enough to allow the fans to know what compound type the teams were using. Now there's a white line in a tread groove on the soft-compound type.
Photo courtesy of www.speedtv.com
It looks a little goofy, to be honest, but it DOES work; you know immediately if the tire has the line or not. Gonna take some getting used to, though. The groove is painted, by the way, which makes me wonder if the paint can affect traction? Sure, it's down in the bottom of the tread pattern, but...

2) F1's best offroad driver, Christian Albers, had a tire blowout of monumental proportions. The carcass came completely detached from the tire sides, rubber chunks flew all over hell-and-gone, the Spyker's rear wing got beat to crepe by a whipping length of binder, simply amazing stuff. Which raises the question: was the tire damaged by Albers' repeated forays to the far side of the rumblestrips and the abrasive surface of the Sepang track... or is there a tire problem?

3) When the engine in your RedBull RB3 makes a sound similar to that made by a large aluminum pipe wrapped in bologna slices, falling down a flight of stairs (sort of a wet fleshy clank), you know you're having a bad day. Mark Webber had a bad day. The flames squirting out the back are also a bad sign.

4) Kimi Raikkonen is probably going to have to change his engine. Felipe Massa, please pick up the red courtesy phone...
(LATE UPDATE: Nope, no engine change coming. Felipe Massa, please put down the red courtesy phone...)

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April 04, 2007

F1 on SPEED!: Malaysia

So after a brutal layoff of three weeks, we come to the second race of the season, this time in Sepang, Malaysia. They're forecasting rain for the entire event weekend, so take everything you saw last race (if you can remember it), and throw it in the dustbin.

Rain is the great equalizer.

Coverage on SPEED! begins very early on Friday, April 6th. At 1am, we get LIVE coverage of the 90 minute long second practice, which, as previously mentioned, will be in the wet. Either we'll see everybody out there... or nobody whatsoever.

That night, at 1030pm, brings us the debut of "F1 Plus", SPEED!'s long-awaited (and much demanded) recap/discussion show devoted to all things F1. That show leads us right up to the replay of the practice session at 1130pm... which brings us to...

Saturday, April 7th, at 1am: live coverage of the quals! In the rain, no less. Excitement, misery, and surprises await... or not. That's the beauty of the rain.

Then we have to wait until Midnight on Sunday, April 8th. For what, you might ask? A replay of the quals session, of course. But that 90 minute spectacle takes us eager viewers right up to 130am, and the start of the Malaysian Grand Prix (replayed at 230pm).

All times are Central, as is my wont. Add an hour for the East, subtract two for the West Coast, and stack four on top of each other for The Moon.

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April 01, 2007

RedBull Buys Williams!

Breaking news from F1 tells us that the legendary independent team, Williams, has been SOLD to RedBull Motorsports!

The team, which will be renamed RedBull England, is expected to leave their home base in its current location. Drivers are TBA, but it is expected that the team is going to make offers to Williams' current drivers.

The FIA has, to date, remained silent on the matter of RedBull controlling three teams on the grid.

With the purchase, F1 loses another historic team and a legendary owner, Sir Frank Williams. One hopes he can find a way back into the sport, perhaps by joining SuperAguri or Spyker.

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