October 29, 2017

Mexico Delay

My mood has gotten blacker and blacker as the day has gone on, to the point where I feel like I'm spitting nails at the moment.


I'm not going to do the Mexico GP writeup tonight.  That'd just be a bad idea.

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October 28, 2017

F1 Quals: Mexico 2017

Ah, Mexico City.  Where the Government is confused, the food spicy, the music raucous, the alcohol dangerous, the air gray, and the oxygen sparse.  And the racing fast and furious... and the home of the 2017 Grand Prix of Mexico.  Here's the provisional grid: 

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:17.665 1:16.870 1:16.488
2 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:17.630 1:16.524 1:16.574
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:17.518 1:17.035 1:16.934
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:17.578 1:17.161 1:16.958
5 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:18.148 1:17.534 1:17.238
6 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:18.336 1:17.827 1:17.437
7 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:18.208 1:17.631 1:17.447
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:18.322 1:17.792 1:17.466
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:18.405 1:17.753 1:17.794
10 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:18.020 1:17.868 1:17.807
11 FelipeNot Nasr Williams Mercedes 1:18.570 1:18.099
12 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:18.902 1:19.159
13 Brendon Hairtley Toro Rosso 1:18.683 DNF
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:17.710 No Time
15 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:18.578 No Time
16 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:19.176

17 Herelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:19.333

18 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:19.443

19 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:19.473


Before we go any farther, Pierre Ghastly had engine problems in Practice 3 and could not make the quals session.  The two McLarens didn't turn laps in Q2 as a strategic move to save tires... and because they're going to be getting penalties for engine component changes.  And Brendon Hairtley's engine released the magic smoke before he could set a time in Q2.  If you get to see the in-car video, there's this really fast "zzzzip!" sound just as the engine stops being an engine.  My first thought was the turbo let go, but who knows?

Now then... Embryo Verstappen set his fast time in Q3 about five minutes too early.  It didn't look like it'd matter much... it was a helluva lap, only bettered once this weekend... and that was in Q2, and set by him anyway.  Hell, he also had the "ultimate sector time" for all three sectors, too.  Then Lewis Hamilton took a shot at it... and couldn't come close.  And looked like it, too... the Mercedes was not performing well today.

But Seb Vettel was the last man on track, the Ferrari was performing well, looking firmly planted to the asphalt, just in need of a brave driver to take advantage.  And he did, in an astonishing pole lap that almost wasn't.  According to Vettel afterwards, the car nearly got away from him in Turn 6, forcing him to drop down a gear.  Somehow, it didn't cost him enough time to knock him off pole.

I didn't think he could do it, honestly.  Verstappen's lap was so good, I thought only the Mercedes on a GOOD day would be able to beat it... and the Mercs were NOT having a good day, as mentioned earlier.  They say a good driver can outdrive his car... and that may be so, but I've really only seen one driver do that consistently: Fernando Alonso.  Vettel did that today, I think... and it's not like the Ferrari is a Minardi or something.  Kids, ask your parents about Minardi.

So the race is in the afternoon, Lewis Hamilton only needs to finish 5th to clinch the Driver's Championship, so he's gotta be relatively happy right now.  Vettel needs to win out to have any chance at all, over and above Hamilton having mechanical problems, so he's gotta be relatively happy right now... except the last time Vettel was on pole and Verstappen was second, they were in Singapore.  We all remember how that turned out.

Right, race in the afternoon!  See ya after!

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October 25, 2017

F1 on TV: Mexico 2017

The races haven't been great since Formula 1 returned to Mexico in 2015, but the spectacle has been real!  Let's take a look at the track map for this new old track.



The teams tend to load up on downforce here despite the two ridiculously long straights... there's a lot of turns to be contended with... and yet, that downforce still doesn't slow the cars down a whit.  Part of the reason for that is Mexico City itself: it's 2200m above sea level, more than 700m higher than the next circuit (Brazil), and some 2197m above Abu Dhabi.  Because the circuit is so high, there's a corresponding thinning of the air.  That means less aerodynamic drag, and while that also means less downforce, it's not like a F1 car doesn't have oodles to spare.  The engines have to work harder here, too, because of the lack of air... the turbochargers spin up to 10% faster to make up for it... so don't be surprised if we see some grenading going on.  There will also be a serious amount of fan insanity in the greatest stadium section in Formula 1.

It is literally a stadium!  Baseball, to be specific... home plate would be just offscreen right of this picture.  It seats 40,000 fans, and the podium ceremony is held here.  Dear god, if Sergio Perez makes the podium the crowd will be able to be heard here in Duckford.

The Legendary Announce Team will be at it again... here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 1: 10a - 1130a live on NBCSN
Practice 2: 2p - 330p live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 1p - 3p live on NBCSN
Sunday
2017 Grand Prix of Mexico: 2p - 4p live on NBC proper.

All times Pond Central, of course.  Seeing Practice 1 up there came as a pleasant surprise... NBCSN is going all-out for their last network weekend, I suppose.  See ya after!

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October 21, 2017

F1 Quals: United States 2017

Instead of the lousy conditions they had in Austin on Friday, Saturday saw blue and sunny skies, warm temps, and dry pavement.  That pretty much made it a given that the grid was going to be fairly conventional, but is that really what happened?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2017 United States Grand Prix:


Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.822 1:33.437 1:33.108
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:35.420 1:34.103 1:33.347
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:35.309 1:33.769 1:33.568
4 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:35.991 1:34.495 1:33.577
5 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:35.649 1:33.840 1:33.577
6 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:34.899 1:34.716 1:33.658
7 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:35.849 1:35.113 1:34.647
8 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:35.517 1:34.899 1:34.852
9 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:35.712 1:35.046 1:35.007
10 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:36.358 1:34.789 1:35.148
11 FelipeNot Nasr Williams Mercedes 1:35.603 1:35.155
12 Zombie Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:36.073 1:35.529
13 Stoffewaffle McLaren Honda 1:36.286 1:35.641
14 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:36.835 1:35.870
15 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:35.740 No Time

16 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:36.842

17 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:36.868

18 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:36.889

19 Herelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:37.179

20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:37.394


Yep, pretty conventional.  Polesitter Lewis Hamilton has dominated the weekend so far, being fastest in all three practice sessions and now setting a new course record to boot.  Oh, and he averaged 132mph around the circuit, three mph faster than the previous record.  Hamilton's only real competition, both for pole and for the championship, Seb Vettel, absolutely needed this result to have much of a chance in the race tomorrow and to keep his faint championship hopes alive.

Dear heavens, the Mercedes looked absolutely glued to the track today.  During his pole lap, as seen from the above-head camera position, it felt like Hamilton barely needed to turn the steering wheel let alone make sudden course corrections like from a slide or something.  A superb driver and a superb car, on a track the driver loves and the car may as well have been made for?  Fwoar.

Embryo Verstappen has a 15-spot grid penalty for various parts changes.  Pleasant Stroll, who attempted to murder Lettuce Grosjean in Q1 today, got a three-spot penalty.  So did Kevin Magnussen, who will now be starting from Pilot Knob.

Race is at 2pm Central Pond Time, with a pre-race on NBC at 1pm.  I'm having brunch with the folks beforehand, but I expect I'll be back in time to catch the start.  I don't intend to liveblog, but if anything important happens, I'll post something ASAP.  See ya then!

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October 18, 2017

F1 on TV: United States 2017

Running a little behind this week, thanks to a combination of Cubs playing in the NLCS, stupid overtime, and a desperate need for extra sleep, but never fear, your guide to the television coverage of the United States Grand Prix is here!  Let's look at that there track map, y'all!


They say everything is bigger in Texas, but in this case it just isn't true.  The Circuit of the Americas down yonder in Austin is on the small side of larger tracks at just a skosh over 3.41miles... that's 5.5km in them there "keeelo-meeter" things.  I mean, Suzuka is a longer track than COTA, but nobody really thinks of that wonderful place as "long".

The one exception to the "everything isn't bigger at COTA" is the already legendary Turn 1, the apex of which is also the apex of Phil Hill.  This bit of elevation change is the biggest single climb in F1, 133' of pure drag racing named for legendary American racer Cody Phil.  Probably my favorite part of the track, just for the sheer ridiculousness of it.  It's wonderful.

Speaking of wonderful, the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their usual great coverage of the race!  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 1: 10a - 12n  live on NBCSN
Practice 2: 10p - 1130p  not live on NBCSN... also may not be Practice 2.  I dunno
Saturday
Quals: 3p - 6p live on NBCSN (may also have P3 coverage on tape delay)
Sunday
2017 United States Grand Prix: 2p - 4p live on NBC... yes, NBC!

Make sure you watch, it'll be a blast... particularly since Hamilton can win the championship here.  All he needs to do is win, and have Vettel finish 6th or lower.  I'll be along afterwards with the F1U!, of course.  I'm even taking Monday off to allow me to pay closer attention to the race!

See ya then!

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October 07, 2017

F1 Quals: Japan 2017

Oh dear.  This bodes ill for tomorrow's 2017 Grand Prix of Japan.  Here's the provisional grid:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:29.047 1:27.819 1:27.319
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:29.332 1:28.543 1:27.651
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:29.352 1:28.225 1:27.791
4 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:29.475 1:28.935 1:28.306
5 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:29.181 1:28.747 1:28.332
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:29.163 1:29.079 1:28.498
7 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:30.115 1:29.199 1:29.111
8 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:29.696 1:29.343 1:29.260
9 FelipeNot Nasr Williams Mercedes 1:30.352 1:29.687 1:29.480
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:30.525 1:29.749 1:30.687
11 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:30.654 1:29.778
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:30.252 1:29.879
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:30.774 1:29.972
14 Unemployed  Palmer Renault 1:30.516 1:30.022
15 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:30.565 1:30.413
16 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:30.849

17 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso 1:31.317

18 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:31.409

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:31.597

20 Herelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:31.885


It's hardly unusual for Lewis Hamilton to be on pole.  For him to be on pole in so dominant a manner is another thing altogether.  This season, there's usually been some sort of realistic threat from some other driver to take pole, even if Hamilton still ended up with it.  Not today.  At no point during the quals session today did he look even mildly disconcerted.  Just a massive curbstomp of a quals.

The one saving grace for Seb Vettel is that he'll actually be starting second, not third, as Bottas has a five-grid-spot penalty to deal with.  On the whole, Ferrari has looked good over race distances this year, better than they do during Quals.  That may not matter, though, because of just how massive the Merc looked today.  

Sorry this is short and late, been working today.  Race overnight, see ya afterwards sometime!

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October 04, 2017

Of Two Minds

It was announced earlier today that ESPN has won the rights to carry Formula 1 races here in the US, beginning in 2018.  And by "won", I mean "they were probably the only bidders."


That's not snark.  The powers that be at NBCSN came out and said "we chose not to enter into a new agreement in which the rights holders itself competes with us and our distribution partners."  This is widely assumed to mean that Liberty Media / FOM will be launching a worldwide streaming service next year.

It looks like ESPN will be using the World Feed announcers, instead of bringing in the Legendary Announce Team to provide commentary.  I am... displeased... by this development.

While I'm still not overly fond of Leigh Diffey (L), preferring instead the dulcet tones of The Varsha, losing David Hobbs (C) and Steve Matchett (R) will hurt.  For me, they are the voice of Formula 1.  They've been there for almost every race of my F1 fandom (save for a painful few races that were shown on CBS... "they're CRASHING over the curbs" will haunt me forever), and I will miss them if they're gone.

On the other hand, it just became a LOT easier for people to watch Formula 1 in the US.  Most of the races will be on ESPN2, three will be on ESPN proper, and two will be first-run on ABC (Monaco will be shown live on ESPN, then tape-delayed on ABC as well).  More visibility is better than less in my book.

Stay tuned, friends.  A new world is coming to our fandom.

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October 03, 2017

F1 on NBCSN: Japan 2017

I'm afraid I don't have a whole bunch of time to do this, so let me be brief.  Here's the track map for the 2017 Grand Prix of Japan:


It's my favorite circuit on the F1 calendar.  To me, it's everything you could possibly want from a track.  There is not one single bit of mickeymousing anywhere, even the chicane is pretty handy.  130R used to be the most fearsome turn on the calendar.  Now the drivers are talking about taking it flat-out and pulling maybe six G's in the process.  If that happens, I'll expect to see someone's head popping out of the cockpit like a champagne cork.  The Circuit of the Americas stole their Esses from here, though Suzuka's are tighter.

And oh yeah, there's a FREAKIN' BRIDGE involved.  It's a figure-8 track... next up, F1 comes to the Duckford Speedway for a night of quarter-mile high-banked oval racin'!

Here's the broadcast schedule for the race weekend, brought to you by the Legendary Announce Team and Pocky, the world's favorite chocolate-dipped biscuit stick! 

Friday
Practice 2: 1201a - 130a live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 1a - 230a  live on NBCSN
...and...
2017 Grand Prix of Japan: 1130p - 2a Sunday,  live on NBCSN

Again, note that both Quals and the race broadcasts begin on Saturday according to NBCSN.  I'll be along eventually with the F1U!.  See ya then then, shall I?  Yes, let's.


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