April 19, 2014

F1 Quals: China 2014

If it's a Quals session, that must mean it's damp out there... only Bahrain this year hasn't had some form of rain during Quals.  So, who'd the rain help, who'd it hurt, and which Venezuelan Lotus driver is literally hated by his team?  Let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2014 Grand Prix of China:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:55.516 1:54.029 1:53.860
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:56.641 1:55.302 1:54.455
3 4Time Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:55.926 1:54.499 1:54.960
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:56.058 1:55.294 1:55.143
5 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:56.961 1:55.765 1:55.637
6 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:56.850 1:56.757 1:56.147
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:56.501 1:56.253 1:56.282
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:55.913 1:56.847 1:56.366
9 Jules Vergne STR-Renault 1:57.477 1:56.584 1:56.773
10 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:58.411 1:56.407 1:57.079
11 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:58.279 1:56.860
12 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:57.783 1:56.963
13 Kid Kvyat STR-Renault 1:57.261 1:57.289
14 Adrian F'n Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:58.138 1:57.393
15 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:57.369 1:57.675
16 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:58.362 1:58.264
17 Esteban! Sauber-Ferrari 1:58.988

18 Gandalf Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1:59.260

19 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1:59.326

20 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 2:00.646

21 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 2:00.865

DNQ Crashtor Maldozer Lotus-Renault No time

Q1 107% Time

 Rosberg was all set to be second, at least, on his final run when the wet pavement reached up and sent him into a spin at the last corner... so surprisingly, Mercedes was hurt by the rain.  It certainly helped the Red Bulls, who are, apparently, 12mph slower than the Merc-powered cars on the long back straight.  The thinking is that they need rain to fight for pole, and it worked this time.  But look at those Williams lurking back there, and imagine them both finishing ahead of the energy drink team.

Meanwhile, who the heck knows what's going to happen with HWMNBN and Ferrari?  Is that the legit pace of the F14T, or is that all down to the Spaniard behind the wheel.  His Finnish counterpart was having problems with his steering and his downshifts, so his 11th might actually be GOOD.

Then there's the sad story of the Lotus mechanics and driver Crashtor Maldozer.  In P1, he nearly drove into a wall as he fiddled with a knob on his steering wheel.  As it was, he managed to only spin and humiliate himself.  In P2, he drove into the pit entry... and directly into the protective barrier on the outside of the pit turn, snapping his suspension like a stale pretzel.  "I crash," he called to the pit wall.  "Oh. (pause)  Okay," came the response like an audible facepalm.  In P3, his engine broke... it was probably his fault.  I don't know how, but it probably was.  I have a feeling that Lotus would be happy to jettison his awful, awful driving arse, but he's got 33 million reasons for them to let him stay.

Since he DNQ'd, he races at the approval of the Stewards.  Alas, they've decided to let him in.

Race in the very early morning... see you then!

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April 15, 2014

F1 on NBCSN: China 2014

Sorry I'm a little late with this, but Pond Central has had internet problems since Saturday night/Sunday morning.  It wasn't completely out, but something even worse: it was really, really slow.  As in, "45 seconds to a minute to load a page."  Just alive enough to make you hope, just dead enough to crush your dreams.  Thankfully, I was able to send my taxes via the Duck U Bookstore's system.

But I digress... you're here to hear about this week's race!  This time, the stop is the Shanghai International Circuit, located in the Jiading District of the world's largest city by population, Shanghai, China.  Despite the incredible number of people living there, somehow the government managed to find enough empty space to build a circuit.  Here's the track map:

Okay, yes, it's a Tilkedrome.  Despite that, China has occasionally coughed up a decent race or two.  Rain is useful for that, of course, and there's a chance on Sunday, but nothing I'd put money on.  So it's down to the track... and the new-formula cars, too.  THAT'S where it all hinges, and the way things are going this year, I'd not bet against this being a good race.

It'll still be a Mercedes HappyFest, though.  Unless something has drastically changed in the past couple of weeks, there's nothing standing in the way of the Mercedes-powered teams to dominate this race.  Except for reliability, of course; it's hard to go fast when your engine is spitting pistons into the stratosphere.  That's not something we can really predict so I'll just ignore it altogether.

Fortunately for everybody, I'M not the person calling the race.  That task falls to the Pros from Dover, the (not as) Legendary Announce Team!  Here's when they'll be doing their usual great coverage:
P2: 1a - 230a live
Quals: 1a - 230a live
Grand Prix of China: 130a - 4a live

Of course, F1Update! will be all over the race like a cheap suit on rice.  See ya then!

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April 13, 2014

USF1 Redux?

A few years ago, there was an attempt to start an American Formula 1 team.  To be called USF1, it was a project from Peter (Smarmy) Windsor, former Williams and Ferrari manager, and Ken Anderson, a former NASCAR technical director.  It failed miserably, never completing a chassis, never turning a wheel, suffering from mismanagement and funding impossibilities. 

But yet, why couldn't there be an American F1 team?  It's not like there's any lack of technical ability here in the States, nor any shortage of cash or driving skill.  What is needed is a competent management staff with active ties to the racing world.

Those of us longing for an American F1 team on the grid may have just had our wishes granted.  NASCAR Sprint Cup team owner Gene Haas, longtime motorsports guy, just had his application to join the F1 grid in 2015 approved by the FIA.  The team, tentatively called Haas Racing Developments, may be based in North Carolina, home of Stewart-Haas Racing, the NASCAR team.

Very few details exist as of yet outside of what I've just mentioned.  As usual, the thought is that there'll be an all-American driver lineup, which while admirable, is also wrong for a new team.  Currently, the number of active American drivers with Formula 1 experience beyond a few testing laps is limited to one: Scott Speed.  What a team needs is someone who knows how a F1 car should feel so the pit wall can make it feel that way.  Scott Speed, while American, was nobody's idea of a testing genius.  No, there should be at least one driver with serious F1 history on the team, and that means foreign... and preferably someone with financial backing of their own, sad to say.  The two things any team needs is skill and money, and a new team needs a lot of both.

I'm not going to get excited yet.  It'll be too easy for this venture to fail the way USF1 did.  I'm much more encouraged by the people involved, but they don't even have an engine lined up yet.  My guess is that they'll have the new Honda powerunit, but who knows?  I'd really like to see this succeed, though.  I'd love to root for a team again.

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April 06, 2014

F1U Bahrain Delayed

The Grand Prix of Bahrain was great, just entertaining from beginning to end, and I can't bring myself to do the writeup. 

The events of this past Thursday... well.  Let's just say I was in the store both Saturday and Sunday, and trying to do something serious like the F1U!, even for arguably the best dry race we've had in a couple of years, just makes me sad.

I want to do it.  I just can't see myself doing something serious right now.  Sorry, people, I know you're looking for it.

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April 05, 2014

F1 Quals: Bahrain 2014

It didn't rain.  I mean, duh, of course, it's Bahrain, but I needed to make sure the weather situation was known and understood before I showed you the grid for tomorrow's race.  Because, y'know what?  It's a doozy!  Let's take a look at the starting lineup for the 2014 Grand Prix of Bahrain:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:35.439 1:33.708 1:33.18
2 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:35.323 1:33.872 1:33.464
3 Unlucky Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:36.220 1:34.592 1:34.051
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:34.934 1:34.842 1:34.247
5 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:34.998 1:34.747 1:34.346
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:35.234 1:34.925 1:34.368
7 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:35.699 1:34.714 1:34.387
8 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:35.085 1:34.842 1:34.511
9 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:35.288 1:34.904 1:34.712
Ferrari 1:35.251 1:34.723 1:34.992
11 4Time Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:35.549 1:34.985
12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:34.874 1:35.116
13 Kid Kvyat STR-Renault 1:35.395 1:35.145
14 Jules Vergne STR-Renault 1:35.815 1:35.286
15 Esteban!
Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.567 1:35.891
16 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:36.654 1:35.908
17 Williams Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1:36.663

18 Adrian F'n Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.840

19 Gandalf Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1:37.085

20 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1:37.310

21 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1:37.875

22 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1:37.913

Q1 107% Time

Okay, let's go over this.  Red Bull's Unlucky Ricciardo is taking a 10-spot penalty after his travails at Malaysia, so he'll be 13th.  This makes the second row of the grid Williams - Force India.  This is the greatest season ever.  Meanwhile, 4Time Vettel, Mr "I've been on pole every race for the past 17 years", couldn't even make it out of Q2.  Greatest.  Season.  Ever.

The only way it could get better would be to have either Caterham or (ugh) Marussia score their first points.  It'll happen.  It'll happen, probably Marussia.

Then again, I'd really like to see Williams or FIndia win on Sunday.  It won't happen, of course... the Mercedes boys have too big an advantage... but it'd be nice.  Here's how bad it was: during Q1 4Time turned a 1:35.549 on the soft tires, which have about a 1.5 second advantage over the hards here this race.  Shiv Hamilton in Q1 went 1:35.323.

Using the hard tires.

Make no mistake, my friends: tomorrow's race is going to one of the Mercedes drivers, barring malfunctions.  The race is going to be for third, and I SO want to see Williams on that podium.

Anybody but Red Bull, actually.

Race is at 10am Pond Central... bring the bagels and lox and make a morning of it!

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April 04, 2014

F1 Practice: Bahrain 2014

"I don't understand any of it!" - Kid Kyviat (note: real quote)

Now THAT'S how you do a night race.  Forget the city-style tracks in Singapore and Abu Dhabi (particularly the back half), there in Bahrain they drop a race track in the middle of the desert, prop up a bunch of LED flashlights on ladders, wrap everything in Christmas tree light strands and hey presto!

I jest, but I am serious about one thing: it looks awful purty.

It also races differently than it has in the past.  Ambient air temps were about 30 degrees cooler during P2 than P1, which ran at roughly the same time as last year's race.  More importantly, the track surface is also dramatically cooler, which means it takes longer for the tires to come up to grip temps.  Which meant a lot of missed braking points, even more smoked rubber, and more than a few heading off towards the King Fahd Causeway, drivers madly attempting to bring their steeds under control.

Mercedes is still the class of the field, apparently because their turbocharger is cleft in twain, with the compressor at one end of the engine and the turbine at the other.  The two bits are joined together by a shaft that runs through the "V" of the cylinders.  Through whatever magic was used, this means less turbo lag.  It also moves more weight forward in the car body, requires less cooling, is biodegradable, will walk your dog, likes to cuddle, and is an all-around good egg.

Or something like that.  Of course, Williams and Force India get the same benefits, but since they haven't had the engines as long as the team that built them, their windfall has been less.  So far.  Surprisingly, Red Bull hasn't screamed about cheating yet.

There's still time.  Quals in the morning, though the writeup may not be until late afternoon... putting some time in at the store.  See you then.

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