April 20, 2013

F1 Quals: Bahrain 2013

So... Bahrain.  Not much to say about it.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2013 Grand Prix of Bahrain:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:33.364 1:32.867 1:32.330
2 Hannibal Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:33.327 1:32.746 1:32.584
3 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:32.878 1:33.316 1:32.667
4 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.498 1:33.346 1:32.762
5 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:33.966 1:33.098 1:33.078
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:33.780 1:33.358 1:33.207
7 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:33.762 1:33.335 1:33.235
8 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:34.048 1:33.378 1:33.246
9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:33.827 1:33.146 1:33.327
10 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:34.071 1:33.702
11 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:33.498 1:33.762
12 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:34.310 1:33.914
13 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:34.120 1:33.974
14 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:34.409 1:33.976
15 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:34.425 1:34.105
16 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:34.314 1:34.284
17 Dob-dob Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:34.425

18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:34.730

19 Charles ToothPic Caterham-Renault 1:35.283

20 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:36.178

21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:36.304

22 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:36.476


Q1 107% Time
1:39.379

There are penalties all over the place here.  Webber has a three-spot penalty from last race.  Esteban Gutierrez gets a five-place penalty from last race, too.  Shiv Hamilton is taking a five-spot hit for a gearbox change.  The upshot of all of it is that Felipe Massa is promoted to 4th place, and he's the only car on the Hard tires.  THAT might be really important.

But probably not.  Pirelli has brought the Hard and the Medium rubber to the circuit this race.  The Medium compound has proven to be nearly as long-lasting as the Hard, but still gives a measurable bonus to traction.  Maybe Massa's going to try a 1-stop strategy? 

We'll find out Sunday morning.  See ya then for F1Update!

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April 15, 2013

F1 On NBCSN: Bahrain 2013

So.  Here we are again, going into Bahrain for the oh-so-popular Grand Prix of Bahrain.  Here's the track map:

There are still protests occurring on this tiny island country.  Reports are that the Government rounded up dozens of pro-Democracy leaders and imprisoned them last week.  The most intense protests are, unsurprisingly, still centered around our little sport and the intense media circus that follows along.  Also unsurprisingly, F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone is clueless: "What’s happened? They’re demonstrating now? I didn’t know that. There’s nobody demonstrating."  The ridiculously loose collective of individuals calling themselves "Anonymous" are saying that they'll be targeting F1 this weekend as well, due to "Mr Ecclestone's blood race."  Last year, they took down the official F1 website on race day.

All of this for a race that, quite honestly, is not very good.  The track is used only rarely each year, it's dusty and sandy, which means it's horribly horribly abrasive as well.  According to Pirelli, it's the circuit that's hardest on tires, due to a combination of grippy asphalt and gritty sand.  I've often joked of circuits being made of "sandpaper and razor blades", but it appears that Bahrain really is.

We're not likely to experience much in the way of weather.  There's always the chance of a sandstorm, but rain is almost certainly not going to happen.  Building your track out in the middle of a desert provides you with one benefit over circuits like, say, Singapore: you've got a LOT of run-off room.  It's probably the safest circuit on the calendar that way.  Never mind the rioters.

Still, the Legendary Announce Team will do their usual bang-up job on race coverage.  Here's the schedule:
FRIDAY
6a - 730a:  Practice 2 live 
SATURDAY
6a - 730a:  Quals live
SUNDAY
630a - 9a:  2013 Grand Prix of Bahrain, live

As with the past few years, though we here at F1Update! don't think that F1 should be racing in Bahrain, since they are, we'll be covering the race.  The past two have been dominated by Seb Vettel... let's hope for something different this year.  See ya then!

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April 13, 2013

F1 Quals: China 2013

As I mentioned yesterday, Friday Practice sessions for Formula 1 almost always consists of two things: cars turning lots of laps, and cars turning lots of laps.  Not to be outdone, Saturday Quals almost always consists of a decreasing number of cars turning lots of laps.  Here's the grid for the 2013 Grand Prix of China:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:35.793 1:35.078 1:34.484
2 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:37.046 1:35.659 1:34.761
3 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:36.253 1:35.148 1:34.788
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:35.959 1:35.537 1:34.861
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:35.972 1:35.403 1:34.933
6 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:36.929 1:36.065 1:35.364
7 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:36.993 1:36.258 1:35.998
8 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.667 1:35.784 2:05.673
9 Hannibal Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:36.537 1:35.343 No time
10 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.985 1:36.261 No time
11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:37.478 1:36.287
12 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.952 1:36.314
13 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:37.349 1:36.405
DSQ Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:36.148 1:36.679
15 Pirate Captain Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:37.281 1:37.139
16 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:37.508 1:37.199
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:37.769

18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:37.990

19 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:38.780

20 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:39.537

21 Charles ToothPic Caterham-Renault 1:39.614

22 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:39.660


Q1 107% Time
1:42.498

In the 20-minute long Q1 session, we didn't see a car on track until nearly the half-way point.  See, here's the problem... the tires Pirelli has brought to China are the Medium and the Soft compounds.  We already know that the Mediums last forever, but we haven't seen the Softs until this weekend... and HOOBOY, do the teams have a conundrum.  See, they have nearly a 1.5 second time difference over the Mediums... but they last for about two hot laps before they die screaming, and that's when the cars are light on fuel.  With a full 300lbs of gas on board?  They might make it to the end of the pit lane before they fall off... it depends on where your pit box is located.  Since the teams know that they've got to use a set of these jelly-filled donuts during the race... well, you can see why they weren't out there, pounding out the laps.  Almost nobody bothered taking the covers off the Mediums in Q1... what's the point?  Kill off the Softs in Q1, maybe you'll get to Q2. 

In the 15-minute Q2 session, again people didn't come out until the session clock had been going for a while.  Again, the jelly-donuts were the rule of the day, and everything looked to be as boring as Q1 until we saw this sight:

While he had managed to set a time, Mark Webber couldn't make it back to the pits.  The team called it a "fuel pickup problem."  Yes, the problem was that there was no fuel for the fuel pickup to pick up.  A problem with the fueling rig left him about six pounds of gas short of the planned amount.  A dumb mistake, but it happens.  However, the Stewards take a dim view of that during quals, as cars have to present one liter of fuel to scruitineering after the session.  Webber wasn't able to do so: no fuel left.  So the Stewards DQ'd him from Quals.  While he was 14th, he'll be starting from the back of the grid on Sunday.  I'm absolutely sure that there aren't any conspiracy theories flying around about how Red Bull  "accidentally" shorted Webber for his anger after the last race.  None whatsoever.

Then came Q3.  Hannibal Vettel was first out, but didn't set a time and never moved from the garage again.  McLaren's Jenson Button went out and drove the entire lap with his turn signal blinking... a 2:05.673 was the result, as he tiptoed around, taking care of the rubber.  Those two will be starting on the Mediums; everybody else is on the Soft rubber.

So the race is going to be one of alternating tire strategies: most will go Soft Medium Medium.  Most will be going Medium Medium Soft.  From where I sit, that seems to be the best plan... but that's why they race the race, isn't it?  It's supposed to be dry and warm on Sunday, we'll see you then!

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April 12, 2013

F1 Practice: China 2013

Friday Practice sessions for Formula 1 almost always consists of two things: cars turning lots of laps, and cars turning lots of laps.  Today was just like that, only moreso.

In other words, it was dull.  The track at China doesn't help matters a whit, because even down the long straight, it doesn't like the cars are going particularly fast.  In fact, the big news out of today is that Seb Vettel, the man who wants to win so badly that he'll break team orders to do it, has apparently decided to drop the facade and turn full Hannibal Lecter:

"Had I understood the message and had I thought about it, reflected on it, thought what the team wanted to do, to leave Mark in first place and me finishing second... I think I would have thought about it and I would probably have done the same thing... ...There is quite a conflict, because on the one hand I am the kind of guy who respects team decisions and the other hand, probably Mark is not the one who deserved it at the time."

He then ate a reporter's liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.  Reportedly, Red Bull has decided to do away with team orders; they're kinda pointless when neither driver is going to follow them anyway.  The real loser in all this is the Team Principle, Christian Horner.  Clearly he isn't the boss of the team, Hannibal Vettel is.  Just like Webber said, no repercussions.  Should be extremely interesting to see how this plays out down the road...

Meanwhile, over at Mercedes, Hamilton and Rosberg are having no problems, despite their little brush against the team orders thing last week.  Unless you think that Hamilton's eye-and-nose problem on Thursday was caused by something other than Shanghai's air pollution... conspiracy!

Quals in the morning.  Unfortunately, I'll be at the Duck U Bookstore until mid-afternoon.  See you then!

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April 08, 2013

F1 On NBCSN: China 2013!

Well.  It has been a while, hasn't it?  I would think that, in this day and age, you could get from Koala Lumper to Shanghai in faster than two weeks and change, but sometimes the fastest seasonal sport on the planet can be awfully slow.  Well, that's all behind us now, because we've got a race this weekend!  And not just any race, oh no.  It's the Grand Prix of China!  Let's take a look at the track map:

Yeah, the Tilkenator is at it again.  From Turn 1 to Turn 10, there's almost no point in trying to pass anybody, because he made it damn near impossible by throwing turns willy-nilly.  This is one of the very few circuits on the calendar where you have to worry about smog.  The engines don't run as well in it, there's a metric farkton of dust around the place due to the surrounding factories, and on and on.  It's one of the few places where rain probably improves the way the cars behave.

The F1 world has been rather quiet during the past few weeks.  Nobody's been crying too loudly about the tires, the Red Bull orders thingy has been swept under the rug, and there's almost been more discussion about the upcoming Grand Prix of Bahrain than about this one.  Well, that's fine, too.  I'd rather we pay attention to the racing than the politics of the sport, though it does put some extra pressure on the Legendary Announce Team.  I have faith in them, I do I do.  Here's the schedule:
FRIDAY
1am - 230a : Practice 2 live
SATURDAY
1a - 230a : Quals live
SUNDAY
130a - 430a : 2013 Grand Prix of China live, plus F1 Extra.
Because NBCSN's schedule website is so awful, please take all these times with a grain of salt, and please please please check your local listings.

Now that we've got that out of the way, we've FINALLY gotten a trailer for the upcoming F1 movie "RUSH".  Let's take a look, shall we?

Ron Howard, please take all my money.  Yes, this is real, and it is spectacular.  It's also due September, 2013.  Based on the real story of Niki Lauda and James Hunt and the 1976 season.

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