April 30, 2016

F1 Quals: Russia 2016

Choo-choo!  All aboard the Nico Rosberg hype traaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain!  Here's the provisional grid for the 2016 Grand Prix of Mother Russia:

Pos. Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:36.119 1:35.337 1:35.417
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:36.555 1:36.623 1:36.123
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:37.746 1:37.140 1:36.536
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:36.976 1:36.741 1:36.663
5 Felipe Not Nasr Massa Williams 1:37.753 1:37.230 1:37.016
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:38.091 1:37.569 1:37.125
7 Sergio Perez Force India 1:38.006 1:37.282 1:37.212
8 Kid Kvyat Red Bull Racing 1:38.265 1:37.606 1:37.459
9 Embryo Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:38.123 1:37.510 1:37.583
10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36.006 1:35.820 No Time
11 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:37.784 1:37.652
12 Jenson Button McLaren 1:38.332 1:37.701
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:38.562 1:37.771
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:37.971 1:37.807
15 Lettuce Grosjean Haas 1:38.383 1:38.055
16 Esteban!  Haas 1:38.678 1:38.115
17 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:38.914

18 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:39.009

19 Felipe Not Massa Nasr Sauber 1:39.018

20 Pascal's Wager Manor 1:39.399

21 Rio Rainbow Gate Manor 1:39.463

22 Sony Ericsson Sauber 1:39.519


It's not enough that Rosberg is leading the Driver's Championship by a serious amount, no no... now his two most obvious challengers are suffering from technical failures, too!  Seb Vettel, who is nominally second on the grid, will be starting seventh after a gearbox change.  And Lewis Hamilton, Rosberg's teammate, set a comfortable time in Q2, then suffered a drastic loss of power from his engine.  At last report, the team was elbow deep in the back of the car despite it being in parc ferme.  This means that there's a good chance Hamilton will be starting from the back of the grid or the pit lane for the second race in a row... and we know how well that turned out last time.  Oh, as if that wasn't enough he might also get a penalty for not rejoining the track in the correct manner after running wide at one point.

It's difficult to see a scenario where Hamilton can recover from this awful start to the season to come back and win the driver's championship, but stranger things have happened.  However, Rosberg's lead is not a fluke; he's driving very well, and very very fast.  For example, look at the two Merc speeds in Q2: Rosberg 1:35.337, Hamilton 1:35.820.  A half-second faster?  That's no accident.

The rest of the grid is pretty standard.  It's possible that Haas has now found their true pace after the ridiculously wonderful first two races.  It's been expected that as the season rolled on, Haas would be unable to keep up with the march of upgrades, but boy, that happened fast!  Assuming, of course, that's what's going on here.

The McLarens, so miserable last year, are now looking like they've officially taken the next step to getting back to the top.  It can't happen soon enough if you ask me.  Force India is still twitching, which is something of a surprise considering the huge financial and legal problems Vijay Mallya has... he's $1.4billion in debt, a court in Mumbai issued a warrant for his arrest, the Indian government revoked his passport and has asked Britain to deport him.

The race is Sunday morning, F1U! will be along afterwards, and we'll see you then or thereabouts!

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April 26, 2016

F1 on TV: Russia 2016

This time around the F1 Circus finds itself in Sochi, Russia, home of the 2014 Winter Olympics... and of course the Sochi Autodrom.  It's among, around and through the leftover buildings and so-called glory of those Olympics that Our Favorite Form of Motorsports will be racing.  Let's take a look at the track map, shall we?

Nope, no change from 2014 or 2015.  That's unfortunate, because this race has not given us great events in the past.  The first race was run under the shadow of Jules Bianchi's accident, when nobody in particular really wanted to be there.  2015 saw wrecks a-plenty, a dull race, and a track worker nearly run over by Seb Vettel.  Now, one could say that the circuit has yet to get "a fair shake," as it were.  It's still awfully new, the events of the past two years have overshadowed the track, so on and so forth.  One less charitable could say that, because the circuit sucks Siberian Snow Cones, the events of the past occurred.  Go ahead, guess which view I tend towards, I dare you.

Look... it's really quite simple: there are 10 90-degree turns.  If you add in Turns 7 and 8, it becomes an even dozen.  Think those do anything to the flow of the track?  Or do you believe that stopping and starting and stopping and starting make for exciting racing?  Of course it's a Hermann Tilke layout.  I mean, sure, I suppose he did the best he could given the limitations of having to race through the Olympic Park, but... well.  They don't listen to my advice over at the FIA... they don't even reply, except for that one time with the restraining order... so no use in complaining.

The good kulaks of the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their usual coverage at the usual times... but let's check 'em out to make sure we're all on the same page, shall we?
Friday
Practice 2: 6a - 730a live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 7a - 830a live on CNBC
Sunday
2016 Grand Prix of Russia: 6a - 930a live on CNBC

Note the long running time for the race on Sunday... I'm assuming that includes both pre-race buildup and "F1 Extra", the post-race coverage.  All times Pond Central, add an hour for those of you in Virginia, take two hours away for y'all in San Francisco, and but one if you're a relative of mine in Albuquerque, NM. 

Actually, anybody in Albuquerque should take one hour off Pond Central time.  Just... y'know what?  Never mind.  Whatever.  Do what you wanna do.  It's yer thang.

We'll be along sometime after the race with the usual F1Update!, except maybe this time with energy and passion.  Or not.  We'll see.

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April 16, 2016

F1 Quals: China 2016

Practice 3 in China was stupidly wet, with heavy rain lasting through the first 15 minutes.  By the time Quals rolled around, the track was... mostly dry.  There were still some damp spots, though.  Would they have any role to play?  Let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2016 Grand Prix of China:

Pos. Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:37.669 1:36.240 1:35.402
2 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:37.672 1:36.815 1:35.917
3 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:37.347 1:36.118 1:35.972
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:37.001 1:36.183 1:36.246
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:37.537 1:36.831 1:36.296
6 Kid Kvyat Red Bull Racing 1:37.719 1:36.948 1:36.399
7 Sergio Perez Force India 1:38.096 1:37.149 1:36.865
8 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:37.656 1:37.204 1:36.881
9 Embryo Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:38.181 1:37.265 1:37.194
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:38.165 1:37.333 No Time
11 Felipe Not Nasr Massa Williams 1:38.016 1:37.347
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:38.451 1:38.826
13 Jenson Button McLaren 1:37.593 1:39.093
14 Lettuce Grosjean Haas 1:38.425 1:39.830
15 Sony Ericsson Sauber 1:38.321 1:40.742
16 Felipe Not Massa Nasr Sauber 1:38.654 1:42.430
17 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:38.673

18 Esteban! Haas 1:38.770

19 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:39.528

20 Rio Rainbow Gate Manor 1:40.264

NC Turbo Pascal Wehrlein Manor DNF

NC Lewis Hamilton Mercedes DNF


On first glance, you might think that Lewis Hamilton was affected by the rain, but you'd be wrong.  He went out for a trial lap on Intermediates, but came right back in complaining of his engine being down on power.  I mean, every driver complains that their engine isn't powerful enough, but this time it was real: a second attempt at a lap later in the session was also a failure as his energy recovery system wasn't working right.  Since he didn't set a time, he technically races at the whims of the stewards.  No worries there, I'd say.

Manor's Turbo Pascal Wehrlein also races at the allowance of the stewards as he wrecked his car just a couple of minutes into Q1... and this is the only time that the wetness of the circuit may have had an effect. 

As you can see, there's two damp strips across the asphalt, separated (and caused) by a bump in the front straight that runs the width of the track.  Wehrlein splashed through the first damp patch, hit the bump, then nailed the second damp patch... and ended up having a tankslapper that dumped him into the outside wall.  You'll note his DRS is open, as well... the combination of water, bump, and reduced downforce ended his day.  A 20 minute red flag while the track workers recovered his car was the result.

Q2 ended early when Force India sent Nico Hulkenberg out for his final hot lap with a tire poorly attached.  He gave it the old college try, but making it all the way around the track without losing the thing proved to be too much.

Oh dear.
This, too, brought out a red flag.  The clock was stopped with about 90 seconds left in the session... nowhere near enough time to get out from the pits, get around the track, and start a flying lap.  Thus were Felipe Not Nasr Massa, Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, all of whom were on or were about to start a flying lap when the flag came out, relegated to not making it to Q3.  Alonso was particularly annoyed by this, making sounds on the radio that were... um... interesting

The final session saw a surprise finish when Smiley Ricciardo cranked out a lap from out of nowhere.  Both Ferraris had a great shot at beating him, but both Vettel and Raikkonen screwed up the final hairpin, meaning they could not better the Aussie.  Which left Nico Rosberg up on top of the grid, and his biggest rival at the very far end. 

That promises fireworks.  See ya Sunday!

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April 14, 2016

F1 on NBCSN: China 2016

My internet connection appears to be mildly stable today (edit: not so much), so let's not tempt fate any more than necessary and get to crackin'!  Here's the track map for the Shanghai International Circuit, home for the 2016 Grand Prix of China:

There's nothing new under the smog in Shanghai... it's the same as it's been forever.  Oh, Turn 13, the so-called "Indianapolis", has been reprofiled... again... which is important, I guess, since it's the only banked corner in F1.  Never mind that tracks here in the US with real banked turns laugh at it, you grasp at what you can.

Wow.  A banked turn and smog... what more could you ask for?  How about rain?  They say we're going to be having rain during Quals, which could be fun.  Particularly because Quals is going back to the old "knockout" qualifying method!  No more of that "90second elimination" format, that's gone... officially, this time.  Elimination qualifying was a failure, but looking at it coldly and dispassionately, it really didn't cough up any results that were out of the ordinary: it was just a stupid stupid way to do it.

But that's all water under a duck's butt now.  Now we're concerned with the broadcast schedule, as brought to us by the Legendary Announce Team...
Friday
Practice 2:  1a - 230a live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals:  2a - 330a live on NBCSN
Sunday
2016 Grand Prix of China:  1230a - 3a  live on NBCSN

All times are Pond Central.  Check your local listings for times in your area.  Post no bills.  Past performance is not an indication of future results.  A bird in the hand is likely to crap on you... and you'd deserve it, you beast.  2X2L calling CQ, is anybody there?

As always, F1Update! will be along after the race, so join us, won't you?  Or won't you?

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April 02, 2016

F1 Quals: Bahrain 2016

The circuit changes, the names change, the positions change, but one thing stays inviolate: the new qualifying format still stinks on ice.  Here's a look at the provisional grid for the 2016 Grand Prix of Bahrain:

Pos. Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:31.391 1:30.039 1:29.493
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:31.325 1:30.535 1:29.570
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:31.636 1:30.409 1:30.012
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:31.685 1:30.559 1:30.244
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:31.403 1:31.122 1:30.854
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:31.672 1:30.931 1:31.153
7 Felipe Not Nasr Massa Williams 1:32.045 1:31.374 1:31.155
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:31.987 1:31.604 1:31.620
9 Lettuce Grosjean Haas 1:32.005 1:31.756
10 Embryo Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:31.888 1:31.772
11 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:31.716 1:31.816
12 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:32.472 1:31.934
13 Esteban! Haas 1:32.118 1:31.945
14 Jenson Button McLaren 1:31.976 1:31.998
15 Kid Kvyat Red Bull Racing 1:32.559 1:32.241
16 Blaise Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:32.806

17 Sony Ericsson Sauber 1:32.840

18 Sergio Perez Force India 1:32.911

19 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:33.181

20 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:33.438

21 Rio Rollins Tachibana Manor 1:34.190

22 Felipe Not Massa Nasr Sauber 1:34.388


Once again we saw huge swaths of time with no or few cars on track.  The last five minutes of Q2, for example, saw one car run one lap... and the preceding four minutes was essentially a car on a FIA scale for a mandatory weigh-in.  That was all that was going on.  The last few minutes of Q3 was totally dead.  Any excitement was moved back, when Hamilton jumped himself from fourth to pole... but that happened in the middle of the session, instead of right at the end of a drama-filled Q3.  It's ridiculous.

Lewis Hamilton is on pole, and his lap is nearly a half-second faster than the race lap record set in 2004... and that was set in the V10 era, with practically unlimited aero downforce gizmos and stickier tires.

Haas continues their amazing start to the season, with Lettuce Grosjean ending up in ninth... widely considered the best spot to be if you can't be in the first couple of rows.  In ninth, you get tire choice for the race; eighth and above, you have to use the same tire compound as you had in Q2. 

The rest of Quals went more or less to script.  Renault is having difficulties figuring out the correct way to "stage" their cars for the 90second elimination thing, but otherwise?  Perez got hit by that, too.. .

The Toro Rosso twins are going to pissed at each other all season, aren't they?  That'll be fun!

Race in the mid-morning... see ya then!

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