September 30, 2017

Meanwhile, In Another Racing Series...

Sometimes when you have a bad day, you can't identify what caused it.  You're just having a bad day.  Then  there are the times where you know exactly why you're having a bad day.  This past April, the Blancpain GT series had a bad day.

You can probably see where this is headed.  Click here for the video, it's... quite something.

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F1 Quals: Malaysia 2017

It's rare that you can look at a particular moment in time as it's happening and say "there.  Right there is the point everything changed."  I am of the opinion that we experienced that today during Quals.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Malaysia:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:31.605 1:30.977 1:30.076
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:32.259 1:30.926 1:30.121
3 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:31.920 1:30.931 1:30.541
4 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:32.416 1:31.061 1:30.595
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:32.254 1:30.803 1:30.758
6 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:32.527 1:31.651 1:31.478
7 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:32.838 1:31.848 1:31.582
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:32.586 1:31.778 1:31.607
9 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:32.768 1:31.484 1:31.658
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:33.049 1:32.010 1:31.704
11 Felipe Not Nasr  Williams Mercedes 1:32.267 1:32.034
12 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:32.576 1:32.100
13 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:33.000 1:32.307
14 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:32.650 1:32.402
15 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso 1:32.547 1:32.558
16 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:33.308

17 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:33.434

18 Herelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:33.483

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:33.970

NC Sebastian Vettel Ferrari No Time

The moment came, not during Practice 3 when Seb Vettel's engine started making unfortunate noises, nor when Ferrari decided to replace the entire power unit between sessions.  No, it came whenever it was that a Ferrari mechanic neglected to feed the hamster in the new turbo unit just before Vettel went out with just a couple of minutes to go in Q1.  The team had done an amazing job just to get his car to this point (you try changing your car's engine in two hours!), but during his out lap the German's turbo actually made an audible "foop" sound and stopped working.  And right there, right at that moment, we saw Lewis Hamilton clinch the World Championship.

Oh, to be sure, there's plenty of races left.  I just don't think they're going to matter after tomorrow... assuming no rain or stuff like that.  Hamilton will increase his already large points lead, and among the remaining five races only Japan and Brazil could be considered the sort of tracks that the Ferrari likes.  It was looking like a good fight, but... oh well.

I find it curious that the final five places on the grid are held by Ferrari-powered cars. Hm.

Race at 2am Sunday morning.  I don't think I'll be staying up that late.  See ya tomorrow!

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September 27, 2017

F1 on NBCSN: Malaysia 2017

The circuit at Malaysia was one of the first true Tilkedromes, and for the most part I'll be able to forget it quickly.. which is what we'll all need to do, because this is the last race that'll be taking place there for the visible future.  The promoters decided not to cough up the $Insane needed to get the rights to hold a F1 race, and thus will their contract lapse.  Let's take one last look at the track map, shall we?

The circuit was resurfaced last year, which took care of most of the bumps a track gets over the years as the asphalt/concrete/whatever settles.  Oddly, they also raised the inside of Turn 15 by a meter in an attempt to improve the passing there.  Nobody is entirely sure if it worked.  Well, there's always the chance of rain, right?

Speaking of rain, here's the broadcast schedule for the race weekend, presented by the Legendary Announce Team:
Practice 2: 2a - 330a  live on NBCSN
Quals: 4a - 530a  live on NBCSN
2017 Grand Prix of Malaysia: 2a - 430a  live on NBCSN

All times, of course, are Pond Central.  Check your local listings just in case I screwed up the conversions.

Speaking of screwing up, Kid Kvyat has lost his drive with Toro Rosso, at least temporarily.  His performance has been... um... lackluster, so the team is bringing in Pierre Gasly on a trial basis.  Gasly appears to be a Talent, having won the GP2 series last year (over the famous Tony Snazzy who drove a couple of F1 races earlier this year).  He's part of the so-called Red Bull Junior Team, their young drivers program, which has sent at least six drivers to F1 before Gasly: Christian Klein, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Smiley Ricciardo, Embryo Verstappen, Seb Vettel... and Kid Kvyat.  Gasly is also French.  Sacre bleu.  With a name like "Pierre", you were maybe expecting Polish?

Speaking of "Polish", it's looking more and more like Robert Kubica, the moron who threw his F1 career away by entering a rally race and nearly dying, is going to be returning to Formula 1 either sometime this year, or at the start of next.  Renault has been taking a good, hard look at him in test drives, and despite having an arm that looks like a swizzle stick, he's apparently done well enough to be in contention.  More surprising is that he can actually exit the car within the FIA-mandated time with that, but there you go.  I'm Polish as well, so that part of me wants to see him again... he sure looked like a champion-in-the-making... but the rest of me just thinks he was an idiot and doesn't deserve another try.  Yes, I'm confused.

Which isn't anything new.  See you soon!

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September 17, 2017

Singapore 2017 F1U! Delayed

Due to unexpected but totally unavoidable things occurring, I'm going to have to do the F1U! on Monday.  It's going to take a while, and I don't have time to do it Sunday night and this race deserves my full attention.

Sit tight, everybody.

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September 16, 2017

F1 Quals: Singapore 2017

The Quals session for the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix was one of the most anticipated in quite some time.  Not only is it the sort of circuit that Mercedes is expected to be slower than normal around, but Red Bull had introduced a number of improvements to their car, sending them to the top of the timesheets in all three Practice sessions.  This included the fastest lap ever around the Marina Bay street circuit, set by Smiley Ricciardo.  Ferrari was expected to be in the pole hunt as well, with what is probably the most balanced car on the grid right now.  So what happened?  Here's the provisional grid:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:43.336 1:40.529 1:39.491
2 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:42.010 1:40.332 1:39.814
3 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:42.063 1:40.385 1:39.840
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:43.328 1:40.525 1:40.069
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:42.455 1:40.577 1:40.126
6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:43.137 1:41.409 1:40.810
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:42.586 1:41.277 1:41.013
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:42.086 1:41.442 1:41.179
9 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:42.222 1:41.227 1:41.398
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:42.176 1:41.826 1:42.056
11 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:42.472 1:42.107
12 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:43.594 1:42.246
13 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:42.544 1:42.338
14 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:43.626 1:42.760
15 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:43.627 1:43.883
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:43.756

17 FelipeNot Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:44.014

18 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:44.728

19 Herelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:45.059

20 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:45.570

For a while there, it looked for all the world like Embryo Verstappen was going to take his first pole position, not to mention wresting the title of "youngest pole sitter" from Seb Vettel.  But right at the end of Q3 the Ferrari driver pulled an incredible lap out of his fundament, one that came as such a surprise to him that when he was informed of his pole, he let loose with a scream that could very nearly only be heard by dogs.  The question is, how long will he get to enjoy the primacy of his position?  Verstappen is not known for his... um... restrained driving style, and there's got to be a non-trival chance that we'll see a shattered pile of red carbon fiber parked at the side of the track somewhere in the first lap.

In other news, McLaren finally shot their partnership with Honda in the face.  The team then announced that they'll have Renault power units in the back of their chassis.  "But Wonderduck," I hear you say because I've got super-hearing, it's a duck thing, "didn't Renault say they couldn't support any more teams above the three they're working with now?"  Indeed they did, my friends!  Which brings us to the next part: Toro Rosso has announced that they'll be running Honda power units next year!  This is legitimately a no-lose situation for them.  Remember, Honda was McLaren's sole major sponsor for the past three years, not only providing them with engines but giving them a LOT of money to boot... I've heard upwards of $150million, though I don't know if that's per year or over the life of their partnership.  So, undoubtedly there's a substantial financial aspect to the deal.  The other part is, while yes, the engines have not been swell, McLaren has done the really hard part: they had to deal with the "wow, our engines suck" part of development.  We're seeing signs that Honda is starting to come around, and there's some pundits that are saying that the Honda could be BETTER than Renault's lump next year.  And if it's not?  Well, Toro Rosso is hardly burning up the charts anyway, but they'll be ahead of the game financially.  As I said, no-lose.

Race in the morning, see ya then!

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September 13, 2017

F1 on TV: Singapore 2017

It's a good thing that Formula 1 cars don't tend to leak fluids very much.  Singapore takes a dim view of littering or mussing the appearance of their city-state, and really... do we need to see Lewis Hamilton getting caned?  Don't answer that.  Here's the track map for the 2017 Grand Prix of Singapore:

This track has two party tricks, of course.  First, it's a street circuit, running around and through the Marina district of Singapore.  Unlike Monaco though, it actually has some legitimate straightaways that allow a car to stretch its legs.  The circuit is also wide enough to let a couple of cars next to each other at some points.  The other party trick is that it's a night race, the site of the very first in F1 history.  There's some hassle involved with that for the teams, but it's all worthwhile when you get to see the cars under the lights.

We all know that I'm not a huge fan of Ferrari, but under Singapore's lights I'll be damned if that red doesn't just look gorgeous.

Speaking of gorgeous, the Legendary Announce Team will be on the job as usual!  Here's their broadcast schedule:
Practice 2: 730a - 9a  live on NBCSN
Quals: 8a - 930a live on CNBC
2017 Grand Prix of Singapore: 7a - 930a live on NBCSN  

All times are allegedly Pond Central.  And, of course, sometime afterwards there'll be a F1Update! of some quality level that is, as of yet, undetermined.  See ya then!

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September 02, 2017

F1 Quals: Italy 2017

It's no great secret that I usually watch F1 events via DVR some time after they occur.  While it's becoming more common as I age for me to be awake early on the weekends, much to my annoyed chagrin, I generally still don't watch until sometime after.  Hey, no commercials that way, right?  It's a good plan, and it usually works really well.  Usually.  This time... nope.

It rained today at Monza.  A lot.  It was raining before Quals began, and pretty much just as things got rolling half of the Mediterranean was dropped on the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.  It was bad enough that Lettuce Grosjean binned his Haas driving in a straight line down the front straight.  The red flag was flown and the session splashed to a halt.  By the time they decided to allow cars back on track, it was two and a half hours later and my DVR had stopped recording a good half-hour earlier.  In effect, I didn't get to see Quals at all.  Whoopsie.  Well, let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Italy:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36.009 1:34.660 1:35.554
2 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:37.344 1:36.113 1:36.702
3 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:38.304 1:37.313 1:36.841
4 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:37.653 1:37.002 1:37.032
5 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:38.775 1:37.580 1:37.719
6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:35.716 1:35.396 1:37.833
7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:38.235 1:37.031 1:37.987
8 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:37.198 1:36.223 1:38.064
9 FelipeNot Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:38.338 1:37.456 1:38.251
10 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:38.767 1:37.471 1:39.157
11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:38.511 1:37.582
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:39.242 1:38.059
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:39.134 1:38.202
14 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:39.183 1:38.245
15 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:39.788 1:38.526
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:40.489

17 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:40.646

18 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:41.732

19 Therelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:41.875

NC Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:43.355

First off, all of the team here at F1U! want to congratulate Lewis Hamilton for his record-breaking 69th Pole Position.  He's now sat on more poles than anybody in F1 history... even that naughty Australian grid girl from a few years back.  

Second off, don't read too much into the fact that he was over a second faster than anybody else in Q3.  As near as I can figure, he was the only driver who was able to make his final hot lap on a new set of rain tires.  Everybody else was on either Intermediates or worn Full Wets.

Third, both Red Bull drivers had to change engine components and are getting penalties of 20 spots (or more!).  Because of this, the Williams of Pleasant Stroll will be next to Hamilton on the front row.  Stroll thus becomes the youngest driver to ever start a F1 race on the front row.

Finally, it is possible (though very unlikely) that Lettuce Grosjean won't be allowed to participate in the race.  His qualifying time of 1:43.355 is slower than the 107% time of 1:42.416, and at least by the letter of the law he's not eligible to race.  However, the stewards can decide to let him in on past performance anyway, which I fully expect to occur.

Race in the morning, rain isn't expected that I've heard, we'll see you then!

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