April 26, 2008

F1 Quals: SPAIN '08!

This is just a nightmare.  PLEASE, someone, tell me that the quals results were just a cruel, sick practical joke?

Bad enough that Ferrari is on pole.  Bad enough that they're also 3rd on the grid.  But in the name of St. Fangio the Quick, does HWMNBN have to be the one in between them???  It's like someone's been reading this website and chose the result that'd make me feel the worst... not only because of the drivers at the top of the grid, but the two at the back: SuperAguri's Ant Davidson and Takuma Sato.  The way the team acted after they were relegated, I'm not even sure they'll start the race on Sunday.

The results:

Pos
Driver Team Q1Q2Q3 Laps
1
Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:20.701 1:20.784 1:21.813 17
2
HWMNBN Renault 1:21.347 1:20.804 1:21.904 18
3
Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:21.528 1:20.584 1:22.058 16
4
Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1:21.423 1:20.597 1:22.065 13
5
Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.366 1:20.825 1:22.096 14
6
Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.430 1:20.817 1:22.231 15
7
Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:21.494 1:20.984 1:22.429 19
8
Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:21.158 1:20.907 1:22.529 19
9
Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:21.466 1:20.815 1:22.542 20
10
Nelson Piquet, Jr
Renault 1:21.409 1:20.894 1:22.699 18
11
Rubens Barrichello Honda 1:21.548 1:21.049
12
12
Kaz Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:21.690 1:21.117
15
13
Jenson Button Honda 1:21.757 1:21.211
12
14
Timo Glock Toyota 1:21.427 1:21.230
16
15
Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:21.472 1:21.349
15
16
SeaBass STR-Ferrari 1:21.540 1:21.724
15
17
David Coulthard's Chin
Red Bull-Renault 1:21.810

6
18
Sebastian Vettel STR-Ferrari 1:22.108

10
19
Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:22.516

11
20
Adrian Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:23.224

8
21
Ant Davidson Super Aguri-Honda 1:23.318

9
22
Takuma Sato Super Aguri-Honda 1:23.496

9

Kubica's proved that BMW is a legit force to be reckoned with.  McLaren has got to be panicking a little bit, since at no time this weekend have they been even close to hanging with Ferrari. 

In truth, HWMNBN probably has about five laps worth of fuel onboard, because there's no way the Renault is really that fast; look where his teammate ended up. 

The biggest disappointment of the day, though, has got to be Farce India.  On Friday, they were looking quite fast, and to only be .1 second ahead of the SuperAguri has got to be something of a blow to their morale.  No, I didn't expect them to be in Q3 or anything, but it wasn't going to surprise me to see them in Q2.

Finally, the Hondas will be running the handlebars in the race, but not the wavy rear wing.  On, off, on, off... make up your frickin' mind, will ya?!?

So, looks like an interesting race tomorrow, though Ferrari's the odds-on favorite for a runaway, that's for sure.  See ya with the F1 UPDATE!

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April 25, 2008

SuperAguri is on the track for P1! UPDATED!

SuperAguri is participating in Friday Practice session 1!  This is good news, as Honda had given them a deadline of Prac1 to get a financing deal done, or they'd have their engines pulled.

Takuma Sato took his car onto the track a couple of minutes into the session.

That live timing and scoring system on formula1.com is pretty darn spiffy, y'know that?  Oh, sure, it meant that I had to stay up until 3am Pond time to find out if my favorite team still existed, but it's a small price to pay.

It's now 311am, and Ant Davidson has started practicing, too. 

Now, the big question is, will they be in P2?  If they are, you can pretty much guarantee they'll be racing for real come Sunday.  If not, no chance at all.

However, this little duck won't be awake for it.  I'm going to bed right now.

UPDATE:  Indeed, SuperAguri did take the track for P2 as well.  While they couldn't get a deal done to provide them with funding, Honda realized that since the team is already in Spain, they may as well fund them for one last race and use the SA cars as testers, so as to get the race data from the engines for their own team's use.

So SuperAguri gets another stretch of time to obtain funding.  It doesn't look good for the little team that started out driving the 2002 Arrows chassis.  Damn shame; last year looked so promising.

The only real interesting thing to come out of P2 was Heikki Kovelaeinnienninnie's McLaren coughing and dying, and Lewis Hamilton only being 11th on the timesheet.  One can assume they were working on race setup and fuel runs, but it's still not a pleasant thought for the team.

Oh, and Honda IS running the handlebars in the race, AND a new rear wing to boot:

Mmmm... bendy!
They're almost getting embarrassing, these guys.

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April 24, 2008

What in the HELL???

First, there was the McLaren MP4/21 with its "viking horns":

At the time, these were radical and crazy...

Then, there was BMW and their very short-lived vertical nosefins:

Ugly AND dangerous, what more could you ask for?

Now Honda wants to get into the act:

Honda: Because our livery isn't ugly enough yet...
It's unknown if they'll be running the "handlebars" in the race, but they're in the paddock at least. 

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April 22, 2008

F1 on SPEED!

The vacation is over for the teams, and the racing is back on!  This weekend is the Grand Prix of Spain, and SPEED will be there for us... thankfully!  Unfortunately, there's no replays of ANY sort for this race, so either you tape it or you wake up early.  Your choice.

Friday, April 25th brings us LIVE coverage of the 2nd Practice from 7a to 830a.  The biggest question on the lips of the F1 Circus is "will SuperAguri participate?"  They've been having financial problems all season, and Honda is refusing to sink any more cash into the team (pure spite, I tell ya!).  At one time, a buyer for the team had been found, but for reasons unknown at this time, the sale fell through.  While reports are saying that the team is in Catalunya, there's still some question as to whether they'll make it onto the track.  Cross your fingers, Pond readers!

Saturday, April 26th, from ; font-weight: bold;">7a to 830a, brings us the Quals session, plausibly LIVE.  Ferrari and McLaren are looking to teach those upstarts from BMW-Sauber that they ain't part of the big boys yet.  BMW wants to solidify their toehold, and Renault and Williams are just dreaming of the front row.  Will SuperAguri make the grid?  Will a RedBull car fall apart when someone leans on them?  Whither Canada? 

Then, finally, Sunday, April 27th brings us the Grand Prix of Spain LIVE from ; font-weight: bold;">630a to 9a.  Will the abrasive asphalt of the Circuit de Catalunya help the grip while burning the tires off the rims?  Or will we have cars slipping and sliding again due to the lack of traction control?  Either way, the tires are going to be screaming... I wonder if there'll be any frontrunners on a three-stop strategy?  My guess is no, but I've been (very) wrong before.

All times, of course, are Pond Central.  Add one for the east coast, subtract two for the Pacific (though they've got a different schedule anyway), and subtract seven hours (and add a day) for Wake Island...

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April 08, 2008

Bahrainian Wrapup

On the ITV broadcast of the Bahrainian Grand Prix, broadcaster Martin Brundle mentioned that Lewis Hamilton was in "the last place he wants to be", moments before he plowed into the back of HWMNBN's Renault.  Immediately following the accident, he said that HWMNBN "surely must have lifted (off the gas pedal)."  The speed of the impact coming out of the turn was such that it DID look suspicious, to be fair.

He later semi-recanted his accusation by adding that they had to wait for the Renault telemetry before a serious accusation could be made, but his partner, Mark Blundell, was not so reticent, flat-out accusing HWMNBN of brake-checking Hamilton's McLaren.  HWMNBN has a history of doing just that, so it's not completely out of the question.

Well, the telemetry was released to Autosport Magazine today, and they confirm that HWMNBN did NOT lift off, nor did he tap the brakes.  Surprisingly, McLaren agreed with that assessment today as well.  They said that Hamilton's 'bridge wing' over the nose failed just before the accident, giving him an unexpected burst of speed (loss of downforce = extra speed).  As I happen to have a copy of the ITV broadcast on my computer, I went back and watched said accident very, very slowly, and saw this:

Sure enough.  In the video, that piece on the left can actually be seen flapping up and down.  In case you're wondering, as the car comes through the turn, the light and shadow changes across the nose, and that gap isn't an optical illusion.


That's a closeup of the above shot.  It really isn't there... and it's visible for a few seconds just before the nose is destroyed on the rear of HWMNBN's car.   This one is nobody's fault. 

We're still not taking the MOOOOO-OOOVE of the Race away from Lewis, though.

In other F1 news, Max Mosley is completely self-destructing.  It seems that after being told by the Crown Prince of Bahrain that he was not welcome, Mosley called Darth Bernie and went on a tirade, hurling epithets about the Gulf Kingdom in a very loud voice.

Sitting next to Bernie Ecclestone at the time?  The Crown Prince of Bahrain.  Who heard every single word.

Oops.

Mosley has claimed that he has a number of backers in the F1 paddock, people that will support him when it comes right down to it... but not one single team, sponsor, or driver has said a single thing, except AGAINST Mosley.

Further, some of the member organizations of the FIA have begun to call for his head.  The largest of the FIA's constituent organizations, surprisingly, is the American Auto Association (the AAA)... and on Monday, they asked Mosley to step down.

Mosley's defense is that the British tabloid that started this whole mess invaded his privacy, and legal proceedings are being started against them for exactly that reason... but I'm reminded of the Stepneygate sentencing against McLaren, where the FIA's final statement says "The World Council's only concern is whether that list is accurate and truthful. We are not concerned with whether there are issues over how that is obtained. Unless there is evidence that it is forged or inaccurate, we will take it on its face value."

Max Mosley wrote those words.

Oops.

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April 05, 2008

F1 Quals Bahrain '08: POLE ON POLE!!!

FINALLY!!!


Kubica (center) showing extreme levels of emotion

The first Polish polesitter in the history of F1.
The first pole in the 15 year history of the Sauber team.
The first pole in six or seven years for a BMW engine.
The first pole in 22 races NOT held by either a Ferrari or a McLaren.

Robert Kubica took pole away from Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen, and announced to the F1 Circus that BMW-Sauber is for real.  The team may not be quite at the level of Ferrari and McLaren, but they're not far off, that's for sure. 

The provisional grid:
1. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber 1:33.096
2. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari 1:33.123
3. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1:33.292
4. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari 1:33.418
5. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 1:33.488
6. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber 1:33.737
7. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota 1:33.994
8. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota 1:34.015
9. Jenson Button Britain Honda 1:35.057
10. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault 1:35.115
11. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1:32.371
12. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Honda 1:32.508
13. Timo Glock Germany Toyota 1:32.528
14. Nelson Piquet Brazil Renault 1:32.790
15. Sebastien Bourdais France Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:32.915
16. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota 1:32.943
17. David Coulthard Britain Red Bull-Renault 1:33.433
18. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Force India-Ferrari 1:33.501
19. Sebastian Vettel Germany Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:33.562
20. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Ferrari 1:33.845
21. Anthony Davidson Super Super Aguri-Honda 1:34.140
22. Takuma Sato Japan Super Aguri-Honda 1:35.725

It's likely, of course, that Kubica has a lighter fuel load than the Ferrari and McLaren boys, but the speed was no fluke... the Pole was third quickest in Q2.  This is shaping up to be one helluva race!

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Better Late Than Never: Bahrain Friday Practice!

It's a practice session... of course nothing happened.

Oh, except for Lewis Hamilton destroying his car by trying to jam it through a tire barrier... sideways and backwards.  Pretty impressive, actually.  With about seven minutes left in the session, Hamilton came off a turn a little wide and got onto the curb.  That ruined the aerodynamics of the car pretty quick, and suddenly the car was swapping ends.

Sliding off the track and onto the asphalt runoff area, he had all four wheels locked up and still didn't lose much speed.  Boom, one dead McLaren.  Not as bad as Kubica's crash, or maybe even Hamilton's wreck in quals at the Nurb last season (when he got airborne and nearly flew over a tire wall), but pretty severe.

The McLaren mechanics will be up very, very late fixing that one.

The two Ferraris were fastest on the day, with the usual suspects right behind.  We'll see how it works out in quals, though.

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April 03, 2008

Mosley vs The Teams.

With the Grand Prix of Bahrain just a few days away, the F1 teams are starting to react to the Max Mosley "Nazi Dungeon" scandal.

BMW and Mercedes-Benz put out a joint release to the FIA to take action against Mosley, calling his hijinks "disgraceful."  The release went on to say "This incident concerns Max Mosley both personally and as President of the FIA, the global umbrella organisation for motoring clubs. Its consequences therefore extend far beyond the motor sport industry."

Echoing the sentiment, the two Japanese teams released similar statements.  Honda F1 Racing Team (as opposed to the manufacturer) stated that they are "
extremely disappointed by recent events surrounding Mr Mosley and we are concerned that the reputation of Formula One and all its participants is being damaged.

Toyota Motorsports, which is based in Germany, laid down what was perhaps the most scathing reply to the incident, saying that they "(do)
not approve of any behaviour which could be seen to damage Formula One's image, in particular any behaviour which could be understood to be racist or anti-Semitic. Senior figures within any sport or business, including motorsport, must adhere to high standards of behaviour. When all the facts are known, it will be for the FIA to decide whether Mr Mosley has met the moral obligations which come with the position of FIA President."

Mosley himself has refused to step down from his position as FIA President, and has called an Extraordinary General Assembly of the FIA governing body as a whole, to meet at the earliest practical date.  While some believe that the meeting is being called so he can announce his resignation, Autosport Magazine is saying that Mosley will ask for the organization's backing.  The meeting will not be anytime soon, however, as the FIA Senate comprises 200 members from many different racing disciplines.

While the condemnations are certainly interesting, I find fascinating those who AREN'T saying anything.  I would have expected Ferrari to have at least given some support to Mosley, perhaps in a statement such as "until all facts are known, we blah blah blah."  Instead, they've been completely quiet.  McLaren, perhaps the team that above all others would cheer for Mosley's leaving, has said nothing officially, preferring to let Mercedes do the talking.  And with a Gallic shrug, Renault has been totally quiet.

If any of those three teams says something either positive or negative, you can bet that Mosley's fate will be sealed, one way or the other.

Again, the official stance of F1 UPDATE! is that Mosley should either leave on his own, or be pushed out the door.

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April 02, 2008

F1 on SPEED!: Bahrain '08

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the organizers of this week's race in Bahrain have... requested... that Max Mosley perhaps not appear at the track.  He's expected to do comply with that request. 

However, we're still invited via the good folks at SPEEDchannel, and the schedule for the TV coverage is what this post is all about!

Friday, April 4th, brings us LIVE coverage of the 2nd Practice from 6a - 730a.  As you're no doubt aware, Bahrain is a small, sandy island.  How small?  The F1 race distance is actually more than one lap around the island.   While that's an interesting (if pointless) bit of trivia, it's the sand that's important to the race.  The Grand Prix weekend is, essentially, the only time this track is used during the year, so the grip level is very much the definition of "green".  Throw in the sand blowing onto the track, and there's a reason the first cars on track (invariably the junior teams) are called "sweepers" by the folks in the paddock.  They also wind up sliding around like they're on ice.  Immediately following practice, stay tuned for Inside Grand Prix from 730a - 8a.  Mr. Snooty Voice is back, as is Allianz ("Sending your money into a rathole while we take insane commission charges: we're Allianz.").

Saturday, April 5th, from 6a - 730a, is the time for LIVE coverage of the Qual sessions.  It's been announced that McLaren will be moved to the very end of the pit lane this race, as befits their last-place status from last year.  This is curious, as they've been in the middle of the paddock in the previous two races.  Why is the FIA suddenly enforcing their rules now, when to date, they've ignored them?  There's something fishy going on there...

Finally, Sunday, April 6th, from 6a - 830a, the cars hit the grid for the Grand Prix of Bahrain.  Will Ferrari run away with it?  Will McLaren reassert themselves?  Will BMW break through and turn the Big Two into the Terrific Three?  And what of the mid-pack?  Will Williams, Renault or Red Bull step up and take the next step towards the podium?  Or will we see something weird, like a sandstorm in the middle of the race?  Tune in the Legendary Announce Team and find out!  For those of you who are actually, y'know, asleep at 6am, SPEED brings us a replay from 1230p - 3p.

So that's the TV schedule.  All times Central; add an hour for the East Coast, subtract two for the West Coast, add five if you're in the middle of the Atlantic.

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