March 31, 2014

F1 on NBCSN: Bahrain 2014

From the always wet and humid Malaysia the F1 Circus hops on some planes and flies to desert country Bahrain... where they're predicting thunderstorms during Practice 2.  What the $#&* is going on?  Here's the track map for this most unwelcome of stops.

I notice that there's less discussion about the human rights violations and the continuing uprising this year.  I suspect part of that is down to outspoken Mark Webber no longer being in the paddock.  Also there might be some sort of unspoken rule that revolutions shouldn't take three years... either they work or they don't (note: Wonderduck, Wonderduck's Pond, F1U!, The Flock, and any other term regularly used at this website does not agree with this assessment).  In today's media cycle, three weeks is a lifetime.

Normally I'd complain and moan about the circuit... it's a Tilkedrome, yadda yadda yadda... but we're learning that the new tech rules have thrown out everything we've known about the tracks.  What might have been dull and boring last year has the potential of being vaguely interesting this season.  I mean, when the cars are suffering wheelspin up through fifth gear, anything becomes possible.  Now that I've said that, oh my god, how many cars are going to finish at Monaco?  There's not enough room there to fishtail!  Back to Bahrain, the circuit will be ridiculously dirty and/or sandy all weekend, so there'll be even less grip than normal.

And then there's the real wildcard: for the first time, Bahrain will be raced under the lights!  Yep, it'll be a night race.  I give up, there's officially no way of knowing just exactly what's going to happen this weekend.  As long as everybody stays safe both on and off the track, I'll be happy with the result... and continue to hope that Formula 1 never, ever comes back.

Until that time, however, the Less-Than-Legendary Announce Team will be providing their usual good coverage to us live and in color!  Let's take a look at when:

FRIDAY
P2: 10a - 1130a live
SATURDAY
Quals: 10a - 1130a live
SUNDAY
2014 GP of Bahrain: 930a - 12noon live

A race I don't have to stay up to ridiculous hours for?  Okay, I'm game!  We'll see you then, then!

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March 29, 2014

F1 Quals: Malaysia 2014

So last night's sleep event found me awake at 345am.  Oh, hey, I thought, I can catch the end of Quals.  I dragged myself out to the living room, turned on the TV and discovered, much to my surprise, that Q1 had begun just moments before!  Did I get the time wrong?  Confused, I checked the schedule... nope!  Q3 should have been ending.  Wha hoppen?

Oh.  Well, it is Malaysia, isn't it?  A one-hour delay was the result of most of the Malacca Strait being dumped on the racetrack, and it never entirely stopped at any time during Quals.  Which means a "who knows?" result?  Let's find out, here's the provisional grid:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:57.202 1:59.041 1:59.431
2 Hannibal Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:57.654 1:59.399 1:59.486
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:57.183 1:59.445 2:00.050
4 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:58.889 2:01.356 2:00.175
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:58.913 2:00.147 2:00.541
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:59.257 2:01.532 2:01.218
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:58.883 2:00.839 2:01.712
8 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 2:00.358 2:02.094 2:02.213
9 Jules Vergne STR-Renault 2:01.689 2:02.096 2:03.078
10 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 2:00.889 2:01.810 2:04.053
11 Kid Kvyat STR-Renault 2:01.175 2:02.351
12 Esteban! Sauber-Ferrari 2:01.134 2:02.369
13 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 2:00.047 2:02.460
14 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 2:00.076 2:02.511
15 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:59.709 2:02.756
16 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 2:00.202 2:02.885
17 Williams Maldonado Lotus-Renault 2:02.074

18 Adrian F'n Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 2:02.131

19 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 2:02.702

20 Gandalf Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 2:03.595

21 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 2:04.388

22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 2:04.407


Q1 107% Time
2:05.385


Strangely enough, the grid isn't messed up.  It very much is about how you'd expect a dry Quals to end up.  Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Seb Vettel has been complaining this week about the sound of the engines, saying they sound "like sh*t."  He'd probably like the sound more if his lasted more than a few laps.  What I'm saying is that seeing him up in 2nd isn't anything to be concerned about... yet.  Reliability is more important than pace right now.

Jenson Button has got to be peeved.  At every turn McLaren screwed up his tire strategy.  "Hey, Jenson, let's send you out on Inters!"  I dunno, there are fish swimming on the front straight... "Nah, it'll be fine, trust us!"  Ohhhh-kay...  (one lap later) ... This isn't working very well.  "Okay, come in for Full Wets.  By the way, we expect the track to dry in a couple of minutes."  Sunuva.... okay, Inters again.  "We gave you an oxygen tank for when the deluge we're looking at on radar hits."  SPLOOSH.  (Button sobs uncontrollably)

Race in the morning... more rain is forecast, so who knows, maybe it'll be in the afternoon!

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March 28, 2014

2014 Malaysia Practice Writeup Not Happening

On the one hand, it's Friday night, and wonderful things happen on Friday night!  On the other hand, I didn't get home from work until 930pm.  As you can guess, I'm a little bit tired, and the prospect of watching 90 minutes of Malaysian practice doesn't particularly appeal to me.  So now that I've had dinner, and written this, I'm going to go lie down.  If I get up tonight, great.  If I don't wake up until tomorrow, I'm okay with that, too.

F1's version of tentacle porn.

Quals in the morning.  THAT, I'll watch.

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March 24, 2014

F1 on NBCSN: Malaysia 2014

So I started writing a post about the upcoming Grand Prix of Malaysia, but after a little while, it disappeared.

Nope, not gonna apologize for that joke.  There, I just provided you with more information about the missing airplane than the media did for two weeks.  I won't even do more than mention in passing the ridiculous accusation that the F1 Circus is kicking grieving families out of hotels in Malaysia.  Nope, I'll let Will Buxton, the fourth member of the Legendary Announce Team, deal with it

As far as the track goes, I've written a lot about it in the past, and haven't been able to come up with much else to talk about regarding it, so we'll leave it be.  Last year, we got the infamous "Multi 21" incident between Hannibal Vettel and Mark Webber.  Two years ago was a one-hour long red flag due to rain... what will this year bring us?  Well, it'll be hot and humid with a change of thunderstorms all weekend... in other words, exactly the same as always.

Whatever happens, the new-look Legendary Announce Team (minus The Varsha) will show us the usual good time... and here's when!

FRIDAY
Practice 2: 1a - 230a live
SATURDAY
Quals: 3a - 430a live
SUNDAY
Race: 230a - 5a live

Could be fun...will reliability still be the race-winning thing, or will speed and skill play their parts again?  And will Red Bull continue their temper-tantrum all weekend?  You cheated, you got caught, you got penalized... deal with it, Dieter.

That's all I gots... see ya on Friday!

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March 15, 2014

F1 Quals: Australia 2014

Before one can race at Australia, one must first qualify.  Sound easy?  NOT SO FAST!  Let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2014 Grand Prix of Australia:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:31.699 1:42.890 1:44.231
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:30.775 1:42.295 1:44.548
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:32.564 1:42.264 1:44.595
4 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:30.949 1:43.247 1:45.745
5 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:31.388 1:42.805 1:45.819
6 Jules Vergne STR-Renault 1:33.488 1:43.849 1:45.864
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:33.893 1:43.658 1:46.030
8 Kid Kvyat STR-Renault 1:33.777 1:44.331 1:47.368
9 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:31.228 1:44.242 1:48.079
10 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:31.601 1:43.852 1:48.147
11 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:31.396 1:44.437
12 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:32.439 1:44.494
13 Hannibal Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:31.931 1:44.668
14 Adrian F'n Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:33.673 1:45.655
15 Gandalf Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1:34.274 1:45.867
16 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:34.141 1:47.293
17 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1:34.293

18 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1:34.794

19 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:35.117

20 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1:35.157

21 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:36.993

22 Williams Maldonado Lotus-Renault No time


Q1 107% Time
1:37.129

Let's get the massive one out of the way: reigning four-time World Drivers Champion Hannibal Vettel didn't make it out of Q2, much to the delight of the rain-and-Fosters-soaked Australian fans.  Meanwhile, his Red Bull teammate, Australian Daniel Ricciardo, managed to get his car on the front row.  Eyewitnesses later said that there was blood trickling from the doors of the Red Bull mobile home, accompanied by loud screams of Germanic fury.  These claims have yet to be verified.

Yes, it rained during Quals, starting towards the end of Q1, and not really stopping.  I believe I called these new cars "twitchy".  Boy, I didn't know what I was talking about... you haven't seen twitchy until you see them in the rain.  Yeeeeeeeee-haw!

The drive of the day honors goes to rookie Kevin Magnussen, who needs a nickname badly.  His first time in Quals, his first time driving the Australian circuit, and the first time running the McLaren in the rain, and he puts it on the second row?  Spiffy job, that.

A big thumbs-up to the returning Gandalf Kobayashi, getting his Caterham into Q2... something that only happened ONCE last season.  Meanwhile, neither Lotus made it out of Q1, and Williams Maldonado didn't manage to set a time at all.  Dear lord, they're going to suck so hard this year...

So we've got a scrambled field, partially from rain, mostly from new rules.  It's gonna make the race ridiculously fun, or just terrible, one of the two.  Of course, the F1U! team will be all over it, beginning at 1230am Sunday.  Writeup sometime after that... we're not as young as we used to be, after all.  See ya then!

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March 14, 2014

F1 Practice: Australia 2014 P2

What we had in P2 was quite a bit of P1 redux, with one major difference.  This time around, we actually saw both Red Bulls on track for 30+ laps, perhaps for the first time this preseason, and they were both quick.  Not as fast as last year, but they were putting in some good times.  The same can't be said for the other Renault-powered teams, however. 

Neither Caterham or Pastor Maldonado's Lotus set a timed lap at all.  Lettuce Grosjean... well, you can see how he did.  The Toro Rossos were... meh, but that's normal for them, isn't it?  No, on the whole, Friday belonged to the Mercedes-powered cars, led by the Factory team.  Other than Hamilton's sensor issue in P1, the two Silver Arrows have pretty much owned the entire lead-up to the race.

Will that domination continue?  People were saying earlier that Mercedes could win this race by two laps... that's pretty clearly an exaggeration, but they do appear to be the odds-on favorites.  But there are bigger concerns out there right now.

For example, Charlie Whiting, the race director for Formula 1, was saying that many of the teams haven't been able to practice race starts yet.  He's also gone on record saying that the 107% Rule is essentially out the window for this race, and they're not even sure if ANYBODY will finish the race.  Eep.

This should be a fascinating race, clearly... one way or the other.  Either it's going to be high farce, or it'll be stunningly dramatic.  It'll certainly be entertaining!

Quals early Saturday morning!

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March 13, 2014

F1 Practice: Australia 2014 P1

There are two ways a Friday Practice 1 session can go.  Either you get a lot of running, with every driver out on circuit pounding out laps while teams try to shake down the car, get everything shipshape as soon as possible, or you get 11 teams apparently sitting on their hands, cars up on jacks, drivers taking naps in the back of their garage.  You would think that at the first race weekend of a new season with a whole raft of rules changes that you'd get the former type of P1 session over the latter.

Not so much.  Four drivers didn't turn a timed lap, and Lettuce Grosjean never even left the pits with engine problems.  Most of the rest turned around 25 laps, though there were quite a few who didn't reach double digits.  Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes made it about 400 meters before it stopped on track with an apparent engine failure (it turned out to be a sensor issue, so he'll be back for P2).  When cars were on track, they looked squirmy and touchy.  And rightfully so: the cars actually have torque now.  It looks like the cars are fishtailing out of every slow corner... just thinking about accelerating seems to send them sideways.

It was GLORIOUS.

P2 coming up in a bit... I'll watch most of it, maybe the whole thing, but the writeup will come Friday morning, like as not.

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March 10, 2014

F1 on NBCSN: Australia 2014!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, libbets and bunnymen, welcome to the 2014 Formula 1 season!  The past few years have been a little... shall we say "dull"?... but this season should prove to be a little bit different.  We'll get to that.  But first, we need to look at where we begin.  It isn't officially a tradition, but Australia may as well be the home of the first race of the season.  What definitely is a tradition is that I now show you the track map of this week's circuit... and here we are:

Melbourne.  Australia's cultural capital.  Home of the style of dance known as Melbourne Shuffle, the birthplace of Australian film and television, Aussie Rules Football, and the country's oldest and largest public art museum.  It's also the location of Albert Park, a public park turned into a world-class racetrack for one weekend a year.  As I've mentioned in years past, it's also the perfect place for a F1 season to begin.  Consider: it's a fast, but not too fast, circuit, with a nice mix of both quick and slow corners.  It's not particularly hard on tires, nor is it particularly difficult for the driver to cope with.  Air temperatures are usually right at the point you want them for a modern F1 car, except when it rains.  When it does rain, the storms are rarely the type that will completely derail a session (like you can get at Spa, for example).  No, the circuit at Albert Park is pretty much the best track on the calendar to start a season with.

Which is important this season, even moreso than normal.  That's because of the raft of rules changes that came down the pike for this season, the most obvious of which is the new engine.  Gone are the dentist-drill 18000rpm V8s of the past decade.  In their place we now have a 1.6 liter turbo-powered V6 hybrid engine at 15000rpm.  The hybrid part is interesting... previously we had the Kinetic Energy Recovery System, or KERS, a battery pack that gave the cars about 80hp for six seconds per lap.  KERS has now been replaced by ERS-K, a waste-heat recovery device that will provide up to 160hp for 33 seconds/lap.  Because of the way this system works, the rear brakes are now "brake by wire", instead of a direct physical linkage.  Reportedly, some teams are having problem with this technology, but we'll find out about that later this week.  On the whole, the changes seem to have been to the benefit for Williams and have hurt Red Bull... people are already declaring that Seb Vettel won't win the championship this year.  I won't go that far, but Australia could go a long way towards telling us what's going to happen this season!

Fortunately for us, the good folks at NBCSN will be doing their level best to get us up to speed and fast!  Here's their broadcast schedule:

THURSDAY

Practice 1: 830p - 10p live
FRIDAY
Practice 2: 1230a - 2a live
SATURDAY
Quals: 1a - 230a live
SUNDAY
Grand Prix of Australia: 1230a - 3a live

Here's the good news... this week is Spring Break at Duck U.  As a result, the Duck U Bookstore will be closing at 1pm on Thursday and staying closed until Monday morning.  That's right, the F1U! team will have the entire weekend free to concentrate on the race!  It's been a while since we're found a F1 season to be this intriguing, so we'll be hanging on every rev this race!

We'll see you then, right here!

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