April 25, 2018

F1 on The ESPNs: Azerbaijan 2018

My apologies for not getting this posted in any sort of timely fashion.  Between becoming old and the continuing problems with my hip, I'm limited to half-hour long stints at the computer more or less.  So no time to waste talking about myself, let's talk about Baku!  Here's the track map:


This is, of course, the circuit famous for its climb past a castle... really, as mentioned before, it's only a curtain wall... in a section of uphill track that's more narrow than anything you'll find at Monaco.  Then it's topped off by a stupidly long straight that, despite having a bend in the middle at Turn 20, is still totally flat out.  This is also the circuit where Seb Vettel and Lewis Hamilton had their little nose-and-tail show last year.  I'm sure we won't see anything quite as interesting this race, but one never knows, does one?

Here's ESPN's coverage schedule:
Saturday
Practice 3: 500a - 630a  live on ESPNews
Quals: 800a - 930a  live on ESPNews
Sunday
2018 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan: 700a - 1000a  live on ESPN2

With any luck, an F1Update! will come along after.  See you then!

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April 18, 2018

We All Need This


While I haven't given up on the F1U! for China, I'm having difficulties actually doing it.  I know it's late already, but... 

...dammit.

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April 14, 2018

F1 Quals: China 2018

A gray, unpleasant-looking day greeted the teams and drivers as they worked on their vehicles with differing degrees of urgency.  Some, like Ferrari, were desultorily polishing the carbon-fiber bodywork to a mirror finish, knowing in their heart of hearts that a shiny car goes through the air better.  Some, like Williams, just stared at their cars with ill-disguised hatred.  And then you had the left side of the Red Bull garage, filled with a frantic but well controlled amount of energy bordering on panic.  


This because Smiley Ricciardo had a pretty comprehensive-looking engine kablammo with a half-hour remaining in P3, requiring an engine change.  On the positive side, they had a new Renault engine in their traveling kit.  On the negative, however, Renault never did finish putting it together before delivering it to the team... at least according to Christian Horner, Red Bull team boss.  So instead of just bolting it in place and away they go (ahem), they had to build the engine (including scavenging parts from the recently-deceased power unit) then attach the rest of the car to it.  There was no real chance they'd get it done in time for Ricciardo to qualify, but they tried anyway.  And got him out with two minutes left in Q1.  Where did he qualify?  How about the rest of the field?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of China:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:32.171 1:32.385 1:31.095
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:32.474 1:32.286 1:31.182
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:32.921 1:32.063 1:31.625
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.283 1:31.914 1:31.675
5 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:32.932 1:32.809 1:31.796
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:33.877 1:32.688 1:31.948
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:33.545 1:32.494 1:32.532
8 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:33.464 1:32.931 1:32.758
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:33.315 1:32.970 1:32.819
10 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:33.238 1:32.524 1:32.855
11 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:33.359 1:32.986
12 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:33.585 1:33.057
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 1:33.428 1:33.232
14 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:33.824 1:33.505
15 Death To Flying Things Scuderia Toro Rosso
1:34.013 1:33.795
16 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 1:34.062

17 Pierre Ghastly Scuderia Toro Rosso
1:34.101

18 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:34.285

19 AMX-30 Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 1:34.454

20 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:34.914


Smiley made it to Q3, ending up in sixth.  Pretty sure those mechanics earned their pay this week.  The rest of qualifying, however, wasn't all that much of a much.  The Ferraris simply slapped down the Mercs, and even when Bottas topped Q2, you just knew the red team had it under control. And so it was.

There is talk that the Mercs are set up for warmer weather, expected at race-time.  It was 53 degrees and windy during quals, and the track wasn't much warmer... hard to bring tires up to temps like that!  If Ferrari set their cars up to heat the tires quickly, they'd get the advantage during quals, but would possibly overheat their tires if the track gets warmer.

We shall see... race is late tonight/early tomorrow!

PS - so much for Toro Rosso, huh?

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April 11, 2018

F1 on The ESPNs: China 2018

Back to back overseas races are hard for everybody involved with F1.  Do a whole race weekend in East Corner-Of-Nowhere, pack up, fly a couple thousand miles, unpack in West Where-The-Hell-Are-We, then go racing again.  This time around, you're looking at about a 12 hour flight from Bahrain to Shanghai on Etihad Air, which includes a 2 hour layover in Abu Dhabi.  It looks like it's on a Boeing Dreamliner, so at least you've got that going for you.  Here's the track map for the 2018 Grand Prix of China:


As I mentioned last year, exactly the same as it's been since 2004.  Though there's been a resurgence in noting that the circuit is shaped like the Chinese character "shang", meaning "high" or "above" or "ascend"... or "up", maybe?  I dunno.  It's the first part of Shanghai... wait... does that mean it's "High hai"?

China has coughed up some good races in the past, often because of rain, so we can cross our fingers that we'll get another Bahrain-level event this weekend.  That'd be fun.  Here's the broadcast schedule for ESPN's coverage:

Friday
Practice 3: 10p-1130p  live on ESPNews
Saturday
Quals: 1a - 3a  live on ESPN2
Sunday
2018 Grand Prix of China: 1a - 330a  live on ESPN2

For a wonder, ESPN came out and said that Quals and Races will be commercial-free for the rest of the season.  I'm okay with that.

See ya!

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April 07, 2018

F1 Quals: Bahrain 2018

Gotta admit, the circuit in Bahrain looks awful purty at night.  But for whom did the stars shine, and for whom did they fall?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Bahrain:


Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:29.060 1:28.341 1:27.958
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:28.951 1:28.515 1:28.101
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:29.275 1:28.794 1:28.124
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:29.396 1:28.458 1:28.220
5 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:29.552 1:28.962 1:28.398
6 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso Honda 1:30.121 1:29.836 1:29.329
7 "DP" Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:29.594 1:29.623 1:29.358
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:30.260 1:29.187 1:29.570
9 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:30.338 1:30.009 1:29.874
10 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:29.893 1:29.802 1:29.986
11 Death To Flying Things Toro Rosso Honda 1:30.412 1:30.105
12 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:30.218 1:30.156
13 LeMans Alonso McLaren Renault 1:30.530 1:30.212
14 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:30.479 1:30.525
15 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:29.374 No Time

16 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:30.530

17 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:31.063

18 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 1:31.414

19 AMX_56 Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 1:31.420

20 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:31.503


While Vettel's on pole, it wasn't until the final run in Q2 that he started to show more speed than his teammate Raikkonen.  In fact, it took a truly outstanding lap from the German to beat Raikkonen in Q2, and in Q3 it was Vettel's last run that wound up being just a bit too good for anybody to catch.  The other flying Finn, Valterri Bottas and his Mercedes, put up good times but nothing to rival the Ferraris, and Lewis Hamilton left himself with a massive problem on Sunday.  Not only did he not get on the front row, but he had to change a gearbox between Australia and here. Apparently he very nearly was unable to finish the first race of the year... I had read somewhere that he had an oil leak that got into the gearbox and played all sorts of merry hell with the finely machined chunks of space-age technology in there.  In any case, that means a five-spot grid penalty, and that means he's actually starting in 9th, right where the midfield can bounce him around in Turn 1.

Speaking of the midfield, it's somewhat disheartening to see McLaren getting so stiffly roflstomped by Toro Rosso; not only did the former Minardi team beat both McLarens, but it wasn't even close... and the Ghastly one even made it into Q3, where he ends up in fifth after Hamilton's penalty.  AND I even got a nickname for Brendon Hartley, who ran into a bird during today's sessions.  Neither Force India impressed today... I didn't realize one was in Q3, they were so not-fast.

But the biggest pain has to be felt by Haas.  From looking like serious contenders for "best of the midfield" rights to having Lettuce miss out on Q2 by literally the slimmest of margins (he and Alonso set exactly the same time, 1:30.530, in Q1, but since the McLaren driver did it first, he ended up in 15th and moved on).  There must be much confusion and consternation in the American team's pits right about now. Why is K-Mag now being called "DP" Magnussen?  Heh... you asked for it.

On international television, too.

The less said about Williams, the better.  That was ugly, and Pleasant Stroll looked seriously pissed in an interview afterwards.

So the race is late tomorrow morning.  I hope to be along sometime that evening with the F1Update!, but my computer woes are beginning to become terminal.  My hard drive coughed up a "terminal failure" report to the various startup menu tests this morning, but eventually it booted.  I've spent the best part of the afternoon copying important things to flash drives and external hard drives and writing down passwords for places I don't often access.  I do have my laptop, of course, but that's a whole different set of problems to deal with.  In any case, sooner or later it'll be up.

See ya then!

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April 03, 2018

F1 on The ESPNs: Bahrain 2018

The plane from Spain lands mainly in Bahrain.


No, I don't know what that means either, but it made me giggle.  The Great F1 Thingy is in the teeny island nation with the big oil money-filled bank accounts, Bahrain... as opposed to the teeny island nation with the big oil money-filled bank accounts, Abu Dhabi.  Basically the same place, except for the revolts and the shootings and... yes, well.  Ahem.  Let's take a look at the track map, shall we?

Ah, nothing like reusing an old classic.  I'm less than thrilled that there's still a race here, but what's a little bit of ethics when there's money to be made?  In the past, I'd say that this was a dead-solid Mercedes victory... it's the sort of circuit that their car loves... but who knows yet?  They looked good in Australia, but they couldn't get past the Ferrari for the lead with more than 25 laps to work with.  So I officially declare this race to be wide open.

Which means that Mercedes will make everybody look silly.

ESPN has the coverage again, and they're confusing the hell outta me with their programming choices.  Let's take a look: 

Friday
Nothing!  It's all streaming.
Saturday
Practice 3: 700a - 800a  live on ESPNews
Quals: 1000a - 1130a live on ESPN2
Sunday
2018 Grand Prix of Bahrain: 1000a - 1230p live on ESPN2

If we're lucky, they listened to all the screaming of US F1 fans and will improve their coverage, maybe by having a real person watching for when to run commercials.  If we're not lucky... there will be a very pissed off duck.

F1Update! afterwards.  Eventually.  See ya then!

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March 24, 2018

F1 Quals: Australia 2018

It feels like just last month we were in Abu Dhabi.  Nope!  It was only three months and change ago... and everything is different now.  Except where it isn't.  Let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Australia:
...

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:22.824 1:22.051 1:21.164
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:23.096 1:22.507 1:21.828
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:23.348 1:21.944 1:21.838
4 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:23.483 1:22.416 1:21.879
5 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:23.494 1:22.897 1:22.152
6 K-Mag Haas Ferrari 1:23.909 1:23.300 1:23.187
7 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:23.671 1:23.468 1:23.339
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:23.782 1:23.544 1:23.532
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:23.529 1:23.061 1:23.577
10 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:23.686 1:22.089 DNF
11 LeMans Alonso McLaren Renault 1:23.597 1:23.692
12 Stoffelwaffel McLaren Renault 1:24.073 1:23.853
13 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:24.344 1:24.005
14 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:24.464 1:24.230
15 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:24.503 1:24.786
16 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso
1:24.532

17 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:24.556

18 AMX-56 Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 1:24.636

19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 1:24.922

20 Pierre Ghastly Scuderia Toro Rosso
1:25.295

...
Oh, well, only 6/10ths of a second faster for Hamilton, that's nothing... eep.  Mercedes has long had a special engine setting for use in quals, they're currently calling it "party mode", where they get maximum power from the lump in the back.  It appears to be extra wacky this season, or at least this race, as things were a LOT closer at the end of Q2.  Having said all that, Ferrari proved to be quicker during the race than they were in quals... they do long distances better due to being gentle on the tires... so we've still got hope for an actual race on Sunday.  Maybe.  If things go well.  I hope.

In other fun news, Haas put in their best qualifying effort since... um... ever?  And it'll get better, as Red Bull's Smiley Ricciardo is getting a three-spot grid penalty for some infraction or other in practice.  Of course, they've always done well in Melbourne... but have we just seen the birth of the new "best of the rest" team?  Mercedes' Valterri Bottas pranged his car right at the start of Q3, and he's going to need a new gearbox... that's a five-spot grid penalty... so welcome to the Top 10, LeMans Alonso and McLaren!  It's early days, but so far it looks like they made the right choice by moving to Renault engines... neither Toro Rosso/Honda made it out of Q1 or really even looked like they ever would again.  But they didn't explode.  That's a good start.

So.  Race is in a few hours. Whatever will pass for a F1U! this year will follow along tomorrow... see ya then!

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March 20, 2018

F1 on The ESPNs: Australia 2018

Hey, hello, and how are ya?  It's time, once again, for another season of Formula 1!  Yaaaaaay!  And this year, there's a LOT of changes to be talked about!  Um... yay?  But at least we're starting at the only track that should be the first race of the season, Albert Park in Melbourne!  Yaaaaaay!  Let's take ourselves a quick gander at the track map, and we'll move on from there.  Yaaaaay!


Nothing changes, all remains the same... and there's something comforting about that if you ask me.  It does help that this circuit is really quite good at being a suitable test for new cars.  It's tough but fair, fast and slow, without room for mistakes except where there's plenty of runoff... the track has a plurality, that's why they call it Mr Duality.  "So, Wonderduck, you said there's lots of changes," you're thinking and apparently I can read minds now, "what have they done now?"  Well, how about a new theme song?
If you think you've heard the name "Brian Tyler" before, I can't help ya... but you've heard his music.  He scores for movies and tv.  Five of the Fast and the Furious films, Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 3, and Avengers: Age of Ultron from the MCU, the NFL Football theme for ESPN, and dozens of others.  Amusingly, it's available on Amazon.  Of course I've already purchased it.  Oh, that logo?  That's the new official logo for Formula 1.  Yeah, I know, sorry, they didn't ask me.  What other changes are out there?

There are a few others, yeah... but those will have to be discussed during the rest of this week's runup to the race.  Because now it's time to look at the television schedule for the Grand Prix of Australia!

Friday
Practice 2: 12m - 130a  Live on ESPNews
Saturday
Quals: 1a - 230a  Live on ESPN2
Sunday
2018 Grand Prix of Australia: 12m - 230a  Live on ESPN2

I have absolutely no confidence in these times, I'm just going on what I'm finding online.  I'm not thrilled about this, truth be told: we no longer have the Legendary Announce Team to listen to.  Instead, we're getting the SkySports broadcast... and in the past, I've loathed that announce team.  What does it all mean?  It's a brand new world, folks... let's see if it's any good, together!

...and if you've got any questions leading up to the race, ask 'em in the comments and I'll answer next time 'round.

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March 19, 2018

2018 Is Coming


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March 05, 2018

Using Analogy For Descriptive Purposes

"Formula 1 is Olympic fencing...


...NASCAR is large men in heavy armor swinging big swords at each other...

...Stadium Super Trucks is kids jumped up on handfuls of sugar and gallons of Mountain Dew hitting each other with nerf sticks."

I love it when an analogy comes together.

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January 27, 2018

Long Drive For A Watch

I've completely neglected to mention this, but this weekend is the unofficial start of the US auto racing season!  Let us take a trip to the high bank turns of Daytona for something very special...


...the 2018 IMSA 24 Hours of Daytona!  In endurance racing, there's not many races that are more prestigious: LeMans, pretty much.  It's not part of the FIA's World Endurance Championship series, but IMSA's Prototype class conforms to WEC's "LMP2" standards.  LMP2 is the less powerful style of prototypes, and really the only competitive one.  If I heard correctly, the team that wins the 24HoD gets an automagic invite to LeMans, though I'm not gonna put money on that. 

The GTLM class of sports cars also matches the LeMans GT specs... and looks awfully sweet, too.  That's the new Ford GT up there, and it's definite poster material.

While I have loved the 24HoD for a while now, this year is a little special because everybody's favorite Indy 500 driver is racing.  Fernando Alonso is teaming up with McLaren's "reserve" driver, 18 year old Lando Norris, and the youngest driver ever to be classified at the 24 Hours of LeMans (in 2017), then-17 year old Philip Hanson.  They'll be in the United Autosports Ligier JS P217... in fact, that's the car at the top of this post.  While Norris optimistically said that the car could win "if everything goes right," this is a 24 hour race.  "Everything" never goes right.

But Alonso and Norris aren't the only current or former F1 drivers in the field, not by a long shot.  A quick glance at the team sheets shows Christian Fittipaldi, Felipe Not Massa Nasr, Juan Pablo (The Pope) Montoya, Paul di Resta, Bruno "The Other" Senna, Pleasant Stroll, Sea Bass, Gianmaria Bruni (one of my first favorite drivers as he drove for Minardi with Zsolt Baumgartner in 2004, the first year I watched the sport as an adult... adult-ish), and the legend himself: Markus Winkelhock, the only F1 driver to start both last and first in the same Grand Prix.

The winning teams in each division are presented with the most famous prize in all of motorsports, a special Rolex Daytona.  The 2017 version is shown above, and considering that there's maybe 12 of them in the world?  That's a helluva watch.  Only the winning drivers (three per car in three classes) and the team owner gets one, I think... again, I could be wrong.  Fairly exclusive, I'd say.  I just found this out: did you know that a Daytona sold at auction for $17million and change?  Paul Newman, himself a racing driver, was given one by his wife in 1972, and that's the one that was sold.  Apparently it was a rather rare style of Daytona, with a combination of colors and markings that became known as a "Newman" Daytona.  And, since he reportedly wore it every day from 1972 until 1984, when he got a new Daytona and gave his first one away, it had quite the provenance.  None of that matters... winner gets a nice watch after a long drive.  Worth every minute of it.

Coverage begins on FOX at 1pm Pond Central time, with the green flying a half-hour later.  The race will then migrate to FS1, FS2, and IMSAtv before ending back on FOX on Sunday.  Enjoy, won't you?  I certainly will... particularly the night portions.

UPDATE: Alonso's car ended up 38th out of 50 entries, 90 laps behind the leader (who broke the all-time distance record with an hour to go).  They were never going to win, but they were able to race in the LMP2 category very well... and then they began to have mechanical problems, the worst of which involved their brake system.

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January 15, 2018

American Racer Dan Gurney Passes.

One of the true legends of motorsport passed away on Sunday.  Dan Gurney was 86 when complications from pneumonia "took him off the grid."  He was the first of only three men to win races in Sports Cars, Formula 1, NASCAR, and Indy Car, as well as Can-Am and Trans-Am.  But for all his accomplishments on track, and there were many, he may very well be known for some off-track things.


For example, he had what can arguably be called the best week in car racing history in 1967.  On June 11th, he and AJ Foyt, driving a Ford GT40 MkIV, won the 24 Hours of LeMans.  This marked back-to-back LeMans victories for Ford, totally unprecedented for the American manufacturer.  But that wasn't enough for Dan Gurney.  During the podium ceremony, he did something that no race winner anywhere had ever done before...

...he became the first winner to spray champagne from the podium.  Of course, this tradition continues 50+ years later in all forms of motorsports all over the world.  That right there is enough to make Gurney a legend, but not enough to make it the best week of racing ever.  The following Sunday, June 18th, was the Grand Prix of Belgium at Spa-Francorchamps.

Gurney, running both as driver and as team owner of Anglo-American Racing, drove the Eagle Mk1 to victory.  He became the second F1 driver to win in a car of his own manufacture, out of three.  But, and this is the part that cements him as one of the all-time greats, it became the first... and thus far only... F1 race win for an American-made car. 

But even THAT wasn't enough for Gurney.  He became the first to put a little vertical piece of material on the trailing edge of his car's wing, increasing the generated downforce substantially without much of an increase in drag at all.  This little thing became known as the Gurney Flap, and is used by just about any race car that has wings.  While it would be incorrect to say that he invented the device, as airplanes had been using it to increase lift instead of downforce for decades, he and his team were the ones who adapted it to cars.  About the only time you don't see them being used nowadays is at places like Monza, where you want as little drag (and thus downforce) as possible.

Dan Gurney won seven races in F1, seven times in Indy Car, five times in NASCAR, he won endurance races at the Nurburgring, Sebring, Daytona and LeMans, as well as many others.  He was the first big-name racer to wear a full face helmet.  When he retired from racing in 1970, he did so with some 51 race wins across all formats to his credit.  After that, he had a successful career as a constructor or team owner, with three Indy 500 victories in the record books.  For all of that and more, he is probably the preeminent American in motorsport.  I am secure in saying that his sort will never be seen again.

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November 25, 2017

F1 Quals: Abu Dhabi 2017

I'm a little pressed for time, but I didn't want to leave y'all hanging!  Here's the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi:


Different graphical format today... the usual grid layout isn't copying correctly, and Firefoxy doesn't work today for some reason.  So instead you get a picture!  Sorry... just imagine the nicknames, 'k? 

Yup, Bottas is a full half-second ahead of the third place sitting Seb Vettel.  As predicted, the weather was perfect for the Silver cars, and thus one of the Mercs was fastest in all three phases of Quals.  It was Bottas that was the fastest when it mattered, though, setting a new track record in the process.  Unsurprisingly, Hamilton is now saying that he hopes we don't "have a train" in the race... I suspect he'd be saying "yes, please, choo-choo" if he was on pole, though.

So we're all set for the 2017 finale, tomorrow morning is looming soon.  We'll see ya then, then!

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November 22, 2017

F1 on NBCSN: Abu Dhabi 2017

So this is it.  Race #20 of 20.  The last of the season.  The last race to be covered by NBCSN and the Legendary Announce Team.  The last time we'll see F1 cars without an ugly piece of structure over the cockpit.  Perhaps the last time we'll see the well-known F1 logo.  The last race of Felipe Massa's career... again.  And the last weekend you'll have to listen to me whine moan and complain about Formula 1 for the season.  Here's the track map for the 2017 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi:


I've said it before, I'll say it again probably: it looks like a great track to drive on.  It's proven, however, to be not so much of a great place for a race.  Like so many Tilkedromes, of course.  Maybe now that Liberty Media owns F1 (essentially) someone else will get a chance to design a race course?  Please?

Weather should be dry and hot, perfect for the Mercs, assuming they're not bolting 2018 test pieces onto their car for race experience.  Even then, they'll probably run away and hide.  But who knows?  Not I, for I am just a humble fan.

Who will be sad when the race is over, for it means that Steve Matchett and David Hobbs will no longer be providing coverage for Formula 1, for the first time since I became a fan in the modern era... 2004.  Those two, along with The Varsha and yes, even Leigh Diffey, have been the voice of F1 for me for 13 years.  But ESPN is going to go with the international feed and announcers next year, rendering the LAT mute... and moot.  So here, for the final time, is the broadcast schedule for the Legendary Announce Team:
Friday
Practice 2: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Sunday
2017 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi: 630a - 9a  live on NBCSN

All times Pond Central.  Accept no substitutes.  Coverage of Quals will likely be delayed as Saturday is when I'm going to the Old Home Pond for the Thanksgiving  meal.  

So there we go.  Let's all get ready, shall we?

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November 11, 2017

F1 Quals: Brazil 2017

Well, quals hasn't aired yet here, but I've seen the important bits!  Here's the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Brazil:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:09.452 1:08.638 1:08.322
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:09.643 1:08.494 1:08.360
3 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:09.405 1:09.116 1:08.538
4 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:09.820 1:09.050 1:08.925
5 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:09.828 1:09.533 1:09.330
6 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:10.145 1:09.760 1:09.598
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:10.172 1:09.593 1:09.617
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:10.078 1:09.726 1:09.703
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:10.227 1:09.768 1:09.805
10 Felipe Retire Already Williams Mercedes 1:09.789 1:09.612 1:09.841
11 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:10.168 1:09.830
12 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:10.148 1:09.879
13 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:10.286 1:10.116
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:10.521 1:10.154
15 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:10.625 DNS
16 Herelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:10.678

17 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso 1:10.686

18 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:10.776

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:10.875

NC Lewis Hamilton Who? Mercedes DNF


Hamilton threw his car into the barriers after just a few minutes of Q1 had elapsed, ending his day early.  He later said that the crash "was very unusual" for him.  Well, yeah.  Kinda.  I'll say this for the newly-minted four-time WC, his wreck had style.  He went into Turn 7, the rear of the car broke free, and it looked for all the world that he was drifting the Merc through the turn intentionally.  That is, right up until the moment it went rocketing off through the kittylitter and buried itself in the tire barrier.  There were some anxious moments as Hamilton didn't reply right away to his pitwall asking if he was okay but eventually he confirmed no injury.  He did look at the back of the car for a while before walking off... clearly he thought something broke back there.

Other than that, though?  It appears the session wasn't all that exciting.  Sure, Bottas took pole at the very last moment from Vettel, but... well.  There are a LOT of penalties to be applied before the start tomorrow... Smiley Ricciardo gets a 10-spot, for example... so that'll jumble things up a little more for tomorrow's race.  Weather is supposed to be warm and dry... darn it.

So!  Race in the morning then!  Enjoy enjoy enjoy!

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November 08, 2017

F1 on Somewhere or Other: Brazil 2017

Brazil.  Not my favorite race.  Oh, I don't hate it the way I hate Hungary... it's much deeper, this distaste I have for Grand Prix of Brazil.  The Hungarian Grand Prix, I just dislike the track.  Brazil?  I hate the entire weekend.  But first, here's the track map:


Okay, cool.  From all reports, most of the F1 community loves the circuit, loves driving there, finds the place to be a great challenge.  So why my bitter antipathy for Interlagos?  Back in the old days, when my F1 fandom was shiny and new, Brazil was the last race of the season.  That meant that my favorite brand of motorsport was going to be going away for four months, give or take, and it was all Brazil's fault.

I didn't say it was logical.

But because of all that, the weekend always felt gray and overcast, even if it wasn't.  Maybe particularly if it wasn't.  That we occasionally got reports of drivers or team members being threatened at gunpoint didn't help matters either.  But rain is, if not common, then at least not very rare at all, which literally made it gray... and slippery, too!  Bonus!

But now Interlagos isn't even the last race on the calendar so my distaste for the circuit doesn't even make sense anymore.  Doesn't matter.  Don't like it.

I do like the Legendary Announce Team however, and we've only got two more races with them until they are scattered to the winds.  Let's enjoy them while we can, right?  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 2: 10a - 1130a  live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 830p - 10p  decidedly not live on NBCSN
Sunday
2017 Grand Prix of Brazil: 930a - 12n  live on NBCSN

All times Pond Central Time.  I am disappointed, but not surprised, by the decision to show NASCAR practice instead of F1 Quals live.  After all, NBCSN will not have Formula 1 much longer... no reason to hype it up just to have it move to ESPN next season.  And thus we get Quals 12 hours late.  However, if you're in the mood, Practice and Quals will be shown right before the race back-to-back-to-back.  I'll still have the normal Quals report up Saturday morning/afternoon, whichever.  I'm not even going to promise the F1U! for Sunday... best laid plans and all that, and my track record hasn't been great recently.

But it'll be here!  I promise.  See you eventually then!

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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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