June 28, 2016

F1 on TV: Austria 2016

Ah, Austria.  Home of Mozart, Gustav Klimt, Fritz Lang, World War I, the Venus of Willendorf, Peter Lorre, and Siggy Freud.  Erwin Schrodinger may or may not have lived in Austria.  Wiener schnitzel is eaten in Austria, and Red Bull is an Austrian drink.  Which is appropriate, I suppose, as Austria is also home of the Red Bull Ring, home of the Grand Prix of Austria.  Here's the track map for your enjoyment:

The past two races at this little circuit in the Austrian hills have proven to be... um... less than awe-inspiring.  Or much of anything, really.  The circuit has proven to be that rare creature: a fast circuit that ends up boring.  Still, it's what the F1 circus has to work with this week, and race they shall do.  Allegedly.

Well, the good burghers of the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their level best to keep me from falling asleep during their broadcasts, the times for which are below!
Practice 2: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Quals:  7a - 830a  live on CNBC
2016 Grand Prix of Austria:  630a - 930a  live on CNBC

All times Pond Central.  Your mileage may vary.  Smoke 'em if you got 'em.  N-e-s-t-l-e-s makes the very best... chaaaaawklate (clack!).   And then there will be a F1Update!, and all will be right with the world.  Because I'm an optimist.

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June 18, 2016

F1 Quals: Europe 2016

An intense interest in the new circuit at Baku gave today's Quals event a beautiful edge.  Good weather and much running over the past few days meant that the track surface was the best it had been.  The problem discovered with curbs cutting the left-rear tires seemed to have been fixed, and there was eagerness from the drivers to get on circuit.  No surprise that Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes had been the fastest all weekend, but would he gather the first pole ever on the new track?  Well, here's the provisional grid for the 2016 Grand Prix of Europe @ Baku:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:43.685 1:42.520 1:42.758
2 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:44.462 1:43.939 1:43.515
3 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:44.570 1:44.141 1:43.966
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:45.062 1:44.461 1:43.966
5 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:44.936 1:44.533 1:44.269
6 Felipe Not Nasr Massa Williams Mercedes 1:45.494 1:44.696 1:44.483
7 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:44.694 1:44.687 1:44.717
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:44.706 1:44.477 1:45.246
9 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:44.939 1:44.387 1:45.570
10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:44.259 1:43.526 2:01.954
11 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:45.507 1:44.755
12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:44.860 1:44.824
13 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:44.827 1:45.000
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:45.525 1:45.270
15 Esteban!  Haas Ferrari 1:45.300 1:45.349
16 Felipe Not Massa Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:45.549 1:46.048
17 Rio Rainbow Gate MRT Mercedes 1:45.665

18 Pascal Wagers MRT Mercedes 1:45.750

19 Jenson Button McLaren Honda 1:45.804

20 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:46.231

21 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:46.348

22 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:46.394

Hamilton didn't seem 100% contented with his Merc in Q1 or Q2... he was still quick, but not his usual "run away and hide" fast.  But then he just doinked the wall in Turn 10 just past the Castle, and his suspension was broken.  He never had a chance to set his flying lap so he'll be starting 10th tomorrow.

Something of a surprise came in the form of Sergio Perez's Force India.  His 2nd place is 100% valid, no fluke involved anywhere.  Unfortunately, he won't actually be starting next to Nico Rosberg on Sunday... he had a crash in Q3 that required, among other things, a new gearbox, which ccomes with a five-grid-spot penalty. 

Beyond those, however, the grid is pretty standard.  Oh sure, Rio Rainbow Gate barely missed Q2, that's weird, but... well.

Now, let's get to what we all want to know: what does Wonderduck think of the Baku Circut?  To be blunt, this track terrifies me and here's why: it's an unholy union of the tracks at Monaco and Indianapolis.  What little run-off area exists is tiny and the speeds ridiculously high.  Until you get to the "Old Baku" part of the track, at which point it's slower, but also narrow as hell.  Except when it isn't slow, but still narrow, downhill and off-camber.  Valtteri Bottas hit 227mph down the long, long straight this morning, and my heart was in my mouth every time someone came piling down towards the first turn.  What pictures fail to convey is just how bumpy this place is.  Remember, they're just city streets, and while they may have gotten a lick of fresh asphalt for the race, they ain't smooth.  The suspensions are working like I've never seen them before, constantly moving up and down with a range of movement measured in inches instead of millimeters.  Jenson Button says that the track is unnecessarily dangerous, and I have a hard time disagreeing with him.  In some ways, the FIA should be commended for creating such a dramatic, exciting layout... but they seem to have done so by skimping on safety.  Look, there's only been one race on Baku: the GP2 feature race was run before Quals today.  They had four safety cars in fewer than 26 laps.  To be fair, the GP2 gang tends to be more... exuberant... than F1 drivers, but that's excessive even for them.

Whatever happens, it'll be exactly what F1 should be: a spectacle unmatched by any in motorsports.  See you afterwards!

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June 14, 2016

F1 on NBCSN: Europe 2016

A week after Canada, the F1 Circus packs up and takes the 16 hour trip to that great hotbed of racing lore and history, Azerbaijan, for the return of the Grand Prix of Europe.  Let's take a look at the new Baku City Circuit track map, shall we?

The first reaction I had when I saw this layout was wow, that's a long front straight,  using "straight" the same way I would at Monaco.  As it turns out, it's even longer than I thought: somewhere around 2.2km.  The whole thing will be just over 6km in length.  "Yeah, but it's still a modern street circuit," you say, "it's going to be miserable."  To be sure, Valencia blew chunks; it was a street circuit in that it ran on city streets, sure, but other than that it was exactly like running on a purpose-built layout.  Singapore is much the same way.  Rest assured, this one isn't going to be like that.  Hermann Tilke, designer, actually paid attention to the architecture of Baku and worked it into the track layout.  Here, here's the first video of a cautious run on the track:

Prepare yourself for the ridiculousness of F1 cars racing at high speed uphill through Turns 8-12 next to a freakin' castle.

Oh, and you know that narrow portion of the circuit, the straight between Turns 6-7 and Turns 19-20?  Yep, you guessed it: it's the same street, just with a honkin' great divider between the sides.  The sheer spectacle of this circuit will almost be enough to make up for any deficiencies in racing.  Almost.

And that's the problem with new circuits. We just don't know what's going to work or not work, and neither do the teams, nor the tire manufacturer.  Pirelli is bringing the Medium, Soft and Supersoft compounds to the race, but we may find that the Medium is overkill... or that the Supersoft won't last a lap.  Or that it's so fast that fuel might be a problem, or brakes will explode or... we just don't know.  Which means we might have a great race... or a disastrous one.  Time will tell.

Well, time and the Legendary Announce Team!   They'll do their usual level best to bring us all the action, news, and weirdness we've become used to.  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Practice 2: 8a - 930a  live on NBCSN
Quals: 8a - 930a  live on NBCSN
Grand Prix of Europe:  7a - 10a live on NBCSN

All times are Pond Central; your mileage may vary.  Of course, F1Update! will cast a gimlet eye upon all proceedings, with a writeup after the race!  See ya then!

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June 12, 2016


Late schedule change, folks.  Due to the awful shootings in Orlando last night, NBC has moved coverage of the race back to NBCSN.  Hope you caught this before the race starts!

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June 11, 2016

F1 Quals: Canada 2016

Icky gray skies hung low over the city of Montreal, and rain seemed to hang just over the racing surface.  But would it ever reach the ground, and what havoc would it cause on Qualifying for the 2016 Grand Prix of Canada?  Here's the provisional grid:

Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:14.121 1:13.076 1:12.812
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:13.714 1:13.094 1:12.874
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:13.925 1:13.857 1:12.990
4 Frowny Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:14.030 1:13.540 1:13.166
5 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:14.601 1:13.793 1:13.414
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:14.477 1:13.849 1:13.579
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:14.389 1:13.791 1:13.670
8 Felipe Not Nasr Massa Williams Mercedes 1:14.815 1:13.864 1:13.769
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:14.663 1:14.166 1:13.952
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:15.026 1:14.260 1:14.338
11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:14.814 1:14.317
12 Jenson Button McLaren Honda 1:14.755 1:14.437
13 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:14.829 1:14.457
14 Esteban! Haas Ferrari 1:15.148 1:14.571
15 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:15.444 1:14.803
16 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:14.714 1:21.956
17 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:15.459

18 Pascal Wager MRT Mercedes 1:15.599

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:15.635

20 Felipe Not Massa Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:16.663

21 Rio Rainbow Gate MRT Mercedes 1:17.052

It never did rain... at least, not in any way that bothered the cars at all.

Sharp-eyed readers will have noted that there are only 21 cars listed.  That's because Kevin Magnussen had a wreck during P3 that actually damaged his Renault's survival cell.  While he was fine, that damage means building up a new car, and while F1 mechanics can do amazing things in a short amount of time, they can't do a whole car from scratch in a couple of hours.  Thus, he sat out Quals and races at the whims of the stewards.

In slightly more important information, while this was the closest Quals result so far this season, it still ended up the way it usually does: Mercedes 1-2, Hamilton over Rosberg.  There was never any doubt in my mind that's how it was going to turn out, and lo it did come to pass.  Not, I admit, that this required any great prognosticational skills on my part.

Possibly the best part of Quals was seeing McLaren get into Q3 via Alonso's efforts... his  "woohoo" on the radio when he was told just made me laugh and laugh.  It's the little things, y'know?

Race is Sunday afternoon on NBC... fire up the Philco, sit down with a can of Schlitz, and watch yourself some o' that European-style racing!

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June 07, 2016

F1 on TV: Canada 2016

Montreal, as I've been told by people who would know these things, is an amazing city.  Of this, I have no doubt.  Along with being the home to the world's largest Jazz festival, numerous escape games, Cirque de Soleil, this is also the place that brought us Youppi!

For that, Montreal will always have a place in my heart.  But Montreal is also considered the most European city in North America, which explains perfectly why Formula 1 drops in this weekend, during the first half of the European leg of the schedule!  Really, it doesn't, but let's just go with it, shall we?  It made more sense when they'd race in Canada, then the next weekend hit Indy for the USGP, but the schedule is what they make of it.  Let's take a look at the track map, shall we?

No changes, really.  Still the same old "go really really fast-stop-go really really fast-stop-go really really fast" layout that's forced by the terrain... remember, the track is on a man-made island in the middle of the St Lawrence River, and it pretty much runs along the edge of the island.  It should still be a brakes killer, too... this is still the only circuit I've ever seen a car's brake discs explode during a race... so that's something to look out for.  In a lot of ways, this is about as "Formula 1y" a track as you'll find.  It's just a grand layout without being too overwrought.  Throw in the lack of run-off area except at certain points (the Horseshoe, mostly), and if you screw up, it's game over, and it becomes a real test of ability.  There's almost always at least one safety car here as a result, sometimes more.

The Legendary Announce Team will be doing it's usual yeoman work this weekend... here's the schedule:
Practice 2:  1p -230p live on NBCSN
Quals:  12n - 130p live on NBCSN
Grand Prix of Canada:  12n - 330pm  live on NBC

Yep, that's right, once again on NBC... and it's at a decent time, too!  Please note that the race begins at 1pm Pond Central time, but the pre-race coverage is at noon... I just threw it in there for completist's sake.

As is usual, F1Update! will be doing their leaden best to get the writeup done before the day ends.  Stick around, won't you?   See ya then!

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