October 27, 2018
F1 Quals: Mexico 2018
I bet you thought I'd forgotten, didn't you? I just bet you did. Nope, I didn't! And a good thing, too... we went from the best race of the season last weekend at Austin to the best Qualifying session of the season here in Mexico City! Here's the track map:
Two DRS zones, but only one detection zone. I didn't notice that last year, or the year before, but it appears to have been the case. Well, god help you if you've got a car closer than a second behind you when you hit Turn 15, because it'll be a good bit ahead of you by the time you reach Turn 04. Cars were reaching 215mph or more down that long, long, long front straight today, and the announcers even said 230mph once, which I didn't believe. So what was the result for Quals today? Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Mexico:
|1||Red Bull Racing||1:15.866||1:15.845||1:14.759|
|2||Red Bull Racing||1:15.756||1:15.640||1:14.785|
|11||Force India Mercedes||1:16.252||1:16.844|
|13||Force India Mercedes||1:16.242||1:17.167|
|14||Scuderia Toro Rosso
|15||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1:16.828||DNS|
It was all there for him. DH Verstappen was on pole after the first runs in Q3, and it wasn't even close. He was all set to break Seb Vettel's record as the youngest polesitter in F1 history. The announcers were splooging all over the place with unrestrained glee. To be fair, Verstappen had just turned in something of a Lap For The Ages, they all had reason to be excited... maybe not THAT excited, but excited.
And then something funny happened... they ran the rest of Q3. I know, what a stunning development, who woulda thought? If Verstappen's lap was one for the record books, and in fact it was the fastest lap around the Mexico City circuit ever, Smiley Ricciardo's final hot lap in Q3 was something for a new record book altogether. Somehow he managed to knock SIX TENTHS OF A SECOND off his lap time... and oh by the way, he took Verstappen's pole away in the process. You know how the FIA producer usually gets the radio call from the pit wall to the driver telling him he had pole, and the driver would respond with usually restrained happiness? Not this time. We didn't even need the producer piping the sound in, I could hear Smiley's scream of joy up here in Duckford... some sort of weird acoustic trick caused by the Grand Canyon, I gather. The tone in Verstappen's voice was chilly when David Coulthard's Chin asked him about missing out on the record when it looked so very like it would be his.
Other than all that and the Mercedes/Ferrari battle, which looked so... boring... today, qualifying was pretty much the usual sort of thing. Oh, it's certainly surprising that neither Haas made it out of Q1, and yes, it's very surprising that Red Bull locked out Row 1, but... well. The Red Bulls were something like 7 or 8 mph down vs the Mercs through the speed trap, but they made up the time lost and more on the twistybits. IF the two of them can avoid killing each other off the start, there's a chance they'll be able to keep Hamilton, et al, behind them into Turn 1. If that happens, well, who knows? But if the faster cars get by, it'll just be another ho-hum finish for the Austrian team. I can easily imagine seeing cars four abreast into the braking zone for Turn 1 after the start.
Hamilton doesn't need to take chances, of course. Sure, he'd very much like to win... but to win the driver's championship, all he has to do is finish 7th or better and it won't matter what Vettel does. In any case, Vettel needs to win out, and I just don't see that happening right now.
Race is in the afternoon sometime... I'm confused as to when, as Mexico ends Daylight Savings Time at 2am Sunday morning... check your local listing for times in your area. And we'll see you afterwards!
October 22, 2018
F1U USA MIA So I came home right after work tonight, all set to sit down and pound out the F1U for the 2018 US Grand Prix (best race of the year!), and...
...things happened. Suddenly it's time for bed, and I didn't do nuthin' but the first sentence.
It deserves more time than a tiny bit. I'll have it up on Tuesday, I hope. What a race!
October 20, 2018
F1 Quals: United States 2018
The skies above Austin were leaden and grey, and a gusty wind blew cold across the Texas landscape. It wasn't raining, but it had been doing so off-and-on all day. The track still had some pavement that was the darker shade such things get when it had been wet but wasn't really anymore. Any glance at the heavens, though, would be enough to convince a racegoer that it was only a matter of time.... Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 United States Grand Prix:
|5||Red Bull Racing
|6||Force India Mercedes||1:34.876||1:34.522||1:34.145|
|10||Force India Mercedes||1:35.193||1:34.525||1:34.594|
|13||Scuderia Toro Rosso
|14||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1:35.206||DNS|
|15||Red Bull Racing||1:34.766||No Time
A reminder that Vettel has received a three-grid-place penalty and will be starting fifth... which is just about as good as he could have hoped, really. At least his teammate will be taking his place on the grid; for a while there, one could have been forgiven for thinking that Kimi Raikkonen was an actual threat for pole today. He wasn't though... nobody was, because the Circuit of the Americas may as well be Silverstone West to Lewis Hamilton. It's his third consecutive pole position in Austin, and at least in my eyes there was really never any doubt that he'd get it. Oh sure, he was third in Q2, but only by a half-second or so... for a driver of his ability that's nothing. And so it proved. No real drama in Q3, either.
The only surprise on the day wasn't even a surprise, not in the way you think of one. DH Verstappen broke his right-rear suspension going over a sleeping policeman in Q1... while he was fast enough to carry on into Q2, the team was unable to repair the damage in time for him to continue... which leads one to think that the damage is more than just the suspension. A suspension change is hardly an easy task, but Red Bull had about 20 minutes to work with... an eternity in F1 terms. No, you've got to believe that there's more damage involved, like to the gearbox or driveshaft. I'm not going to cry any great amount of tears... particularly since, in a way, the curbs he hit were put there because of his abuse of track limits in 2017.
So, there you have it. The race is on ABC tomorrow, keep watching the skies!
Oh, and just FYI? It did begin to rain just after Qualifying ended. Not heavily, not that the TV audience saw, but there were spots showing up on various cameras around the circuit as Hamilton et al. took their victory laps. There's no rain forecast for tomorrow, but...
October 19, 2018
F1 on TV: UNITED STATES RED WHITE AND BLUE HOT DOGS APPLE PIE AND HAAS F1!!! *ahem*
Sorry, my patriotism is showing. Heh. So the Circus is in Austin Texas this week, Lewis Hamilton has a chance to clinch the driver's championship, and it's raining. That might prove an interesting combination come Sunday. Here's the track map:
Hasn't changed since the first time they raced here, though they did add a new DRS detection zone since then. The unofficially-named-but-it-should-totally-be-called Phil Hill up to Turn 01 is still the dominant feature of the circuit, but what I'm considering nicknaming The Wobbles (Turns 03 - 09) is a signature as well. No, literally, that's how Hermann Tilke signs his name.
Since this is the United States Grand Prix, we'll be getting coverage on The Big Network this time around... the race will be on ABC! P3 and Quals are on ESPNews, though. Check your locals for time in your place of abode. Here at Pond Central, the race is at 1pm.
It's starting to look a lot more like Vettel's done for this weekend. He's been handed a three-spot grid penalty for not slowing down enough during a red flag in practice today. This is consistent with other such penalties, it's just awful timing for the German who's been making quite a few mistakes of late.. Throw in expected rain during Quals, Lewis Hamilton's all-encompassing superiority in the rain, and his utter domination of the Circuit of the Americas, and... well.
Quals is in the late afternoon, report afters, see ya then! Byeeeeeeeee!
October 06, 2018
F1 Quals: Japan 2018
Rain. Rain is the great equalizer in Formula 1. Rain can take a bad car and make it... not as bad. Rain can take a good car and make it into tiny pieces of carbon fiber. It makes heroes out of drivers that may not have gotten attention before, and it can take luster away from otherwise well-appreciated ones. Rain simply adds another level of difficulty to an already hard sport.
It rained today at Suzuka. Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Japan:
|3||Red Bull Racing
|15||Red Bull Racing||1:29.806||No Time
Q1 was mostly dry...ish. It rained before the session had begun and the track was decidedly greasy... for example, Seb Vettel actually spun in the Hairpin, a very low-speed place indeed. He was simply trundling along when the rear of his car slowly and gracefully attempted to become the front of the car. He was going 60kph at the time. "Greasy" is the appellation most feared in F1... neither truly dry nor truly wet, it is too slippery for slicks, yet it chews up intermediate rain tires like someone is applying pumice to them. Sony Ericsson was caught by The Greasy and sent off into a wall, which brought out a red flag as the workers recovered his Sauber from the kittylitter. A round of applause is due the Renault mechanics who managed to slap Nico Hulkenberg's car back together after he did a rather comprehensive job of disassembling it right at the end of Practice 3... meaning they only had a couple of hours to do their work.
One must feel for Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, who through no fault of his own has now missed out on Q3 approximately 3200 times this year. Today it was a broken accelerator cable, apparently, that prevented him from doing anything in Q2, and sent him to the motorhome screaming with rage inside his helmet... completely out of character for the lovable Aussie. His nickname is "The Honey Badger", but it really should be "The Quokka".
But the best/worst of Qualifying came in Q3. It had become more greasy towards the end of Q2, and in the few minutes between sessions the teams had to make a decision on what tires to send their cars out on. Mercedes made the last-second decision to put their drivers on slicks. Ferrari went out on intermediates. It was quickly discovered that Merc had made the correct choice; they were loads faster than the red cars. The Italian team brought their men back in for slicks at the end of what should have been their warm-up lap. While their rivals were in the pits, the silver cars went out and set fairly reasonable times. Ferrari went back out, got through their warmup lap, and began their first hot lap of the session...
...and then it began to drizzle. Not badly, but enough that Vettel made a rain-induced error during his hot lap. The track became too wet for slicks, and nobody was going to improve their times on rain tires. Mercedes' gamble had paid off in the biggest way possible, and you could hear the door slamming on Vettel's title hopes after the session ended.
The Race is just after midnight... F1U! sometime Sunday. See ya then.
October 04, 2018
F1 on TV: Japan 2018 How out of it have I been lately? I forgot that Japan is 14 hours ahead of Pond Central Time, and thus all broadcasts are a LOT earlier than normal. Since I've been up until at least 3am all week for reasons that defy explanation, I need to crash and crash fast. So without further ado, here's the trackmap:
I am of the opinion that if there was no Suzuka, we would have to invent it. In all the years I've been watching F1, I've never heard a driver hate on the track... the weather, yes, but not the track itself. Heck, usually the weather is a good thing, giving us such classic moments as the great Suzuka Boat Races. And one really really awful moment.
Maybe we don't want rain. Let's not have rain, okay? Let's just skip that part.
Quals are late friday night/early saturday morning... I'll have something up sometime thereafter. The race is late saturday/early sunday. I have no idea when I'm going to watch it. Live? Later Sunday? I literally don't know. We'll have a voyage of discovery together!
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