July 30, 2016

F1 Quals: Germany 2016

Probably as good weather as one could hope for, partly cloudy and just warm enough.  No rain this time!  So who took advantage of the lovely conditions?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2016 Grand Prix of Germany:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:15.485 1:14.839 1:14.363
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:15.243 1:14.748 1:14.470
3 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:15.591 1:15.545 1:14.726
4 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:15.875 1:15.124 1:14.834
5 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:15.752 1:15.242 1:15.142
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:15.927 1:15.630 1:15.315
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:16.301 1:15.623 1:15.510
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:15.952 1:15.490 1:15.530
9 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:16.169 1:15.500 1:15.537
10 FelipeNot Nasr Massa Williams Mercedes 1:16.503 1:15.699 1:15.615
11 Esteban! Haas Ferrari 1:15.987 1:15.883
12 Jenson Button McLaren Honda 1:16.172 1:15.909
13 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:16.317 1:15.989
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:16.338 1:16.041
15 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:16.328 1:16.086
16 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:16.636 1:16.665
17 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:16.716

18 Pascal's Wehrlein MRT Mercedes 1:16.717

19 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:16.876

20 Rio Olympics MRT Mercedes 1:16.977

21 FelipeNot Massa Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:17.123

22 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:17.238

Two by two, two by two.  If Williams and Force India had gotten into step... well.  Polesitter Nico Rosberg had an exciting Q3, suffering an electronics problem right at the start... and Merc only got him out with enough time to do two qualy laps back-to-back, which is NOT standard operating procedure in Q3.  Usually it's go out on low fuel, set a time, come back in for new tires and just enough fuel, then go out for another try.  Instead, Rosberg went out with enough gas for two hotlaps... and set the pole time on the first shot with the extra weight onboard.  Hamilton had a good shot at beating his teammate, but threw it away by locking a tire into the hairpin that is Turn 6.

I don't have high hopes for the Red Bulls mounting a challenge to the Mercedes boys on Sunday... they're too down on horsepower to keep up with the Silver Arrows through the first half of the circuit, and their advantage (if any) in the twistybits isn't big enough to make up the deficit.  And Ferrari... I dunno what to think of them anymore.  They showed signs of being serious competition earlier in the year, but now?  They're just there, y'know? 

In other, less important, news, it's quite possible this'll be the last time Rio Olympics is on the grid... the rumors are that his Indonesia sponsorship has gone dry.  To be fair, there probably are better people to have in that seat for Manor... ah well.  So it goes.

Race in the morning.

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July 26, 2016

F1 on NBCSN: Germany 2016

Germany, ahhh Germany.  Home of... um... German things.  I'll let you make your own jokes.  Me, I'm listening to Rammstein and Kraftwerk and Bowie and if that doesn't make your brain bleed from the awful segues, you're stronger than myself.  Also home to the Hockenheimring, this year's site of the Grand Prix of Germany.  Here's the track map:

What used to have an epic blast full-speed blast deep into a forest, then turn around and come on back, is now... well, this.  Even Tilke couldn't kill all of a good thing, I 'spose... it's not a horrible circuit, just... truncated.  Pity. 

Oof.  I just discovered that the last time F1 raced here was the weekend before I was disposed of by the Bookstore.  How nice for me.  Of course, last year there was no German Grand Prix, undoubtedly out of sympathy... or because Bernie couldn't get the organizers to cough up another couple million Euros, one of the two.

The Legendary Announce Team will be live from Spargelstraße and their usual crack coverage will be tasty tasty tasty!  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Practice 2:  7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Quals:  7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Grand Prix of Germany:  630a - 9a  live on NBCSN

All times Pond Central, so don't make the same mistake hundreds of others have made!  Set your DVR carefully.  If you don't have one, pretend!  F1U! will come along sometime afterwards, and then it will be Summer Vacation for the Circus... yay for them!

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July 23, 2016

F1 Quals: Hungary 2016

You know things are weird when the first image for your coverage of qualifying is of the Safety Car getting squirrelly in a straight line.  And then practically disappearing in the deluge that's befallen the circuit.  Yes, it was raining at the Hungaroring, but not the "well that'll be challenging" type of rain we like to see.  No, what we had was more along the lines of "grumpy old man builds a boat while his family herds pairs of animals" apocalyptic-style rainfall.  It was so bad that Q1 was postponed by first 10, then 20 minutes.  Then, just when the cars pulled out on track, the rain apparently ceased but plenty of standing water still around... well, let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2016 Grand Prix of Hungary, shall we?

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:33.302 1:22.806 1:19.965
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.210 1:24.836 1:20.108
3 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:39.968 1:23.234 1:20.280
4 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:40.424 1:22.660 1:20.557
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:35.718 1:24.082 1:20.874
6 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:36.115 1:24.734 1:21.131
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:35.165 1:23.816 1:21.211
8 Jenson Button McLaren Honda 1:37.983 1:24.456 1:21.597
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:41.471 1:23.901 1:21.823
10 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:42.758 1:24.506 1:22.182
11 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:35.906 1:24.941
12 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:36.714 1:25.301
13 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:41.411 1:25.416
14 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:36.853 1:25.435
15 Esteban!   Haas Ferrari 1:38.959 1:26.189
16 FelipeNot Massa Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:37.772 1:27.063
NC Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:43.965

NC Felipe Not Nasr Massa Williams Mercedes 1:43.999

NC Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:44.543

NC Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:46.984

NC Pascal's Wehrlein MRT Mercedes 1:47.343

NC Rio Rainbow Gate MRT Mercedes 1:50.189

So Q1 got started in a track still covered in a significant percentage of the Adriatic Sea and everybody wearing full-wet tires.  It took almost no time at all, however, for the rains to return in a manner to cause jaws to drop up and down the pit lane.  Out came the red flag to stop the session, and somehow everybody made it back to the garage without pranging themselves.  After some terrifying visuals of the Safety Car actually drifting through the turns, the rain let up enough for things to get going again. 

At which point, Sauber's Sony Ericcson buried himself in a tire barrier, resulting in a red flag stoppage.  After the car was cleared, the drivers got the go ahead to continue.  At which point, Felipe Not Nasr Massa, who had gambled on Intermediate tires, immediately stuffed his Williams into the barriers, resulting in a red flag stoppage.  After the delay getting his car off the circuit, the track was definitely ready for Inters, and away the field went again.  At which point, Rio Rainbow Gate buried himself into a tire barrier, resulting in a red flag.  This time, however, there wasn't time remaining in the session for cars to turn any more laps once the green flag was thrown, so it was decided to end Q1 there.  So, for the record: four red flags, and a Q1 session that was nearly an hour long.

Q2 and Q3 were much less "interesting".  In fact, the only excitement came at the end of Q3, when Lewis Hamilton was on a lock-down flying lap, looking for all the world like he was going to blow the doors off his already quick pole time.  A few turns ahead of him, Fernando Alonso's McLaren came a-cropper, resulting in yellow flags and Hamilton having to back off.  However, by the time Nico Rosberg came charging into the area, the yellows had been cleared.  Thus unencumbered, he just barely managed to nip Pole from Hamilton's extant time. 

As if that wasn't enough, technically both Red Bulls, both Force Indias, and Valterri Bottas were outside of the 107% rule in Q1 due to the weather conditions.  They were just unfortunate on their timings and never managed to turn a so-called "quick lap" due to all the red flags.  The strict interpretation of 107% rule would have had those five drivers starting from the back of the grid; the rule has no "inclement weather" addendum: either you're within 107% of the fastest car in Q1 or you're not, and if you're not, its up to the Stewards if you're going to race.  If they do, you start from the back.  It was decided, though, that the day's circumstances were unusual enough to allow some flexibility.

So that's that.  Race is in the morning, F1U!! is along sometime thereafter.  See ya there.

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July 19, 2016

F1 on TV: Hungary 2016

Hungary.  Why did it have to be Hungary?  He's the god-forsaken track map for the god-forsaken Hungarian Grand Prix:

I hate this place with a dull annoying apathy.  It used to be a terrible hate, one that could cause young children to weep in terror and grown men to turn their head in fear.  Now, however, my relationship with the Hungaroring has matured to something much more effective: acedia.  In the 11 years I've been covering F1, I've only missed two races.  Both took place in Hungary, and I don't care.  There's a part of me that wants to unplug the DVR on Saturday night and say "oops, oh well" on Sunday morning, but a thought occurred to me this morning whilst I was prepping myself for work, one that at least briefly blew life to the fires of my loathing for Hungary.

No doubt you remember the story I've told about the Hungaroring, how it was originally to be a street circuit through Budapest but for various reasons it wound up in a natural arena some distance outside the city.   Budapest is thought by many to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe... and a F1 race through the city itself could easily have looked like the circuit in Baku... which, racing aside, was universally praised for the amazing look of the track.  Hungary could have looked like that, and we would have been enjoying it since 1986.

Instead, we get a track that's "Monaco without the glamour."  THANKS, Hungary!  And so my hate returns to apathetic levels again.  And I am not alone... it appears that NBC, et al, are feeling the same way, even though the Legendary Announce Team love the place.  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Quals: 7a - 830a live on CNBC
2016 Grand Prix of Hungary: 6a - 9a live on NBCSN

No, I didn't forget something, it looks like they won't be providing televised coverage of Practice 2... and I checked.  Unless they've put it on NBC-The-Big-Network (hah!), I couldn't find it.  Ah well, no great loss.

So there you are.  Hungary!  Enjoy, won't you?  And remember, F1U! will be along sometime afterwards to provide our usual stellar post-race coverage.  Look forward to it!  I know I will!  See ya then!

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July 09, 2016

F1 Quals: Great Britain 2016

I took a nap.  During my Quals watch.  Whoops.  Here's the provisional grid:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.739 1:29.243 1:29.287
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:30.724 1:29.970 1:29.606
3 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:31.305 1:30.697 1:30.313
4 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:31.684 1:31.319 1:30.618
5 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:31.326 1:31.385 1:30.881
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:31.606 1:30.711 1:31.490
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:31.913 1:31.478 1:31.557
8 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:32.115 1:31.708 1:31.989
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:32.349 1:31.770 1:32.172
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:32.281 1:31.740 1:32.343
11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:32.336 1:31.875
12 FelipeNot Nasr Massa Williams Mercedes 1:32.146 1:32.002
13 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:32.283 1:32.050
14 Esteban! Haas Ferrari 1:32.237 1:32.241
15 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:32.553 1:32.306
16 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:32.729 1:37.060
17 Jenson Button McLaren Honda 1:32.788

18 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:32.905

19 Rio Rainbow Gate MRT Mercedes 1:33.098

20 Points Wehrlein MRT Mercedes 1:33.151

21 FelipeNot Massa Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:33.544

The sharper-eyed among you will notice that there are 21 drivers listed.  Sauber's Sony Ericcson had a massive accident in Practice 3 that wound up with his car totally ruined and the driver taken to hospital for examinations.  He races at the stewards' approval and if the FIA medical delegate allows.  He was reportedly back in the paddock area late after quals, and the team proclaimed him okay, but that's not the same as the race doc giving him the thumbs up.  Since the impact was so bad that he knocked the steering wheel off with his knee during it, I assume they're thinking concussion.

In other news, or not news as the case may be, Hamilton is back on pole.  Again.  It was close, though: he had his fastest lap disallowed for exceeding track limits, going outside the lines.  That happened to a lot of drivers today. 

All in all though?  That stretch of Quals I was awake for was pretty much "Lewis Hamilton and everybody else merely watching."  Which is what I expect the race to be tomorrow.  See ya then!

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July 06, 2016

F1 on TV: Great Britain 2016

They call it the Home of Formula 1.  It was the site of the first ever race for the F1 championship.  It was once a RAF bomber training airfield.  And today, it is called Silverstone, the location of the 2016 Grand Prix of Great Britain.  Here's the track map:

Silverstone used to be my favorite circuit.  Here's what it looked like back in 2008:

I am of a mind to say that the new Sector 1, and moving the pit straight from after Woodcote to after Club, did a fine job of mucking the place up.  Perhaps it's a case of "back in the day", but I don't think so.  But then, I wouldn't, would I?

My favorite sequence (Maggots-Becketts-Chapel) is still around, and the lunatic British fans still show up (and disappear into the mud when it's wet), I reckon it's naught but good manners that I do too.  And if you choose to do the same, the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their usual yeoman's work LIVE from... um... Stamford, CT.  Where they do almost all of their races from.  That's a step up in the world, though... they used to do it from Charlotte, NC, folding tables and all.   Here's the broadcast schedule:
Practice 2:  2p - 330p tape delay on NBCSN
Quals:  7a - 830a live on NBCSN
Grand Prix of Great Britain:  630a -10a live on CNBC

All times Pond Central.  Use at your own risk.  May cause itching.

I know, I know, there's very little preview in this thing anymore.  Yep, you're right.  Know why? 

See ya after Quals!

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July 02, 2016

F1 Quals: Austria 2016

It is uncommon these days for my life to be so busy that I actually forget things like lunch dates or important to-do's.  Yet that is exactly what happened today here at Pond Central.  In fact, it wasn't until I was tucking into my plate of sausage-stuffed giant rigatoni at Olive Garden that I realized: I had completely forgotten about today's Quals!  Reacting immediately, I mentioned to my folks "huh, I forgot about quals," and had myself another spoonful of zuppa toscana and a breadstick.  I eventually made my way home, sat down to watch quals and promptly dozed off in my chair.  Once I woke up a few minutes later, I got myself to the computer desk to write this and found myself getting constantly distracted by things like this, or like this, or particularly like this.  To the point that it's now a very long time indeed since Quals, or even since I came home from lunch.  What I'm trying to say is that here's the provisional grid for the 2016 Grand Prix of Austria:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:06.947 1:06.228 1:07.922
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:06.516 1:06.403 1:08.465
3 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:07.385 1:07.257 1:09.285
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:06.761 1:06.602 1:09.781
5 Jenson Button McLaren Honda 1:07.653 1:07.572 1:09.900
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:07.240 1:06.940 1:09.901
7 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:07.500 1:06.840 1:09.980
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:07.148 1:06.911 1:10.440
9 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:07.131 1:06.866 1:11.153
10 Felipe Not Nasr Massa Williams Mercedes 1:07.419 1:07.145 1:11.977
11 Esteban Haas Ferrari 1:07.660 1:07.578
12 Pascal's Wager MRT Mercedes 1:07.565 1:07.700
13 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:07.662 1:07.850
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:07.671 1:08.154
15 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:07.618 No Time

16 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:07.657 No Time

17 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:07.941

18 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:07.965

19 Rio Rainbow Gate MRT Mercedes 1:08.026

20 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:08.409

21 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:08.418

22 Felipe Not Massa Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:08.446

Well, okay you say, big deal, just another Merc 1 - 2, hey?   Well not so fast there, Binkey!  Both Nico Rosberg and Seb Vettel had to change gearboxes meaning they take five-grid-spot penalties... which ALSO means that Force India's Nico Hulkenberg will be starting second, and Jenson Button's McLaren will be third! 

As the late great Mel Allen used to say, "How about that?"  (oops, got distracted again)

Down towards the bottom, we find Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez and Kid Kvyat, all three of whom snapped their suspensions like dry twigs running over the... shall we say "aggressive"?... curbs at the Red Bull Ring.  There's been a lot of that this weekend... Rosberg's gearbox change is a result of his left-rear suspension breaking, and I know it happened to a few drivers in Practice 1 as well.

That's Rosberg's suspension at the point of failure.  Pretty clean snappage right there... and that's the thing about carbon fiber: it's remarkably strong right up to the moment it isn't anymore, at which point it breaks like a dry saltine.  Metal may be heavier, but it usually bends before it breaks... which is probably why suspensions were the last thing to change to carbon fiber in a F1 car design.

Well, it should be a race tomorrow.  There's even a chance of rain, which'll throw the ducks amongst the rye bread, that's for sure.  See you then, maybe!

If I remember.

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