July 25, 2015

F1 Quals: Hungary 2015

Hungary.  Joy.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2015 Magyar Nagydíj:

Pos. Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:22.890 1:22.285 1:22.020
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:22.979 1:22.775 1:22.595
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:23.312 1:23.168 1:22.739
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:24.408 1:23.230 1:22.774
5 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:23.596 1:23.460 1:23.020
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:23.649 1:23.555 1:23.222
7 Kid Kvyat Red Bull 1:23.587 1:23.597 1:23.332
8 Felipe Not NasrMassa Williams 1:23.895 1:23.598 1:23.537
9 Embryo Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:24.032 1:23.781 1:23.679
10 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus 1:24.242 1:23.805 1:24.181
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:24.115 1:23.826
12 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:24.623 1:23.869
13 Sergio Perez Force India 1:24.444 1:24.461
14 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:23.895 1:24.609
15 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:24.563 No Time

16 Jenson Button McLaren 1:24.739

17 Sony Ericsson Sauber 1:24.843

18 Felipe Not Massa  Nasr Sauber 1:24.997

19 Roberto Merhi Manor 1:27.416

20 Will Stevens Manor 1:27.949


For what seemed the first time all season, the Mercedes were actually forced to use their soft tires in Q1, lest they be bumped from quals altogether.  There's a huge performance gap between the soft and hards this time, two seconds or so... it's usually half that.  Other than that, though, nothing particularly exciting went on.  Oh sure, Red Bull seems to have made good use of the past three weeks, looking awfully racy as a result, but with Merc domination it all seems somewhat futile.

Probably the highlight of the session was Fernando Alonso's car failing towards the start of Q2.  Feeling like he had a chance to make it to Q3, it took his lame car as far as it could go... just short of the pit-in.  When it stopped?  He hopped out and pushed.  Soon, he had an entourage.

Yes, that's Alonso waving to the fans while steering his car with one hand while at a fast jog in a firesuit on a 95 degree day with high humidity.  Yes, that's also a cheeky trackworker waving to the crowd, too.  It almost pains me to point out that the second his car came to a halt on-track it was ineligible to continue the session, but that's just me.

So.  Race tomorrow morning.  F1U! sometime after.  Then the summer break, one month until the next race.  See ya then!

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July 20, 2015

F1 on TV: Hungary 2015

So.  Not only do we next travel to Hungary, my least favorite track on the Formula 1 calendar, it's going to be the site various Bianchi tributes.  It's going to be a long, sad race weekend.  Here's the track map:

"Monaco without the glamor", they call it.  Originally designed to be a street circuit running through Budapest, when that fell through the promoters reportedly just took planned circuit's layout and moved it to a natural bowl nearby.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, a street circuit without any streets doesn't, in fact, work all that well.  It's usually hot, often dusty, the track is boring, and it only coughs up a good race when it rains.  It's even better when it rains heavily here at Pond Central, because then there's a chance my satellite feed will go out.

Here's the alleged TV schedule for the coverage of the race.  I say "alleged" because I'm having problems figuring out just what's going on with it...
FRIDAY
Practice 2: 6pm - 730pm on NBCSN.  No, that's not a typo, I really do mean "PM".
SATURDAY
Quals: 7am - 830am live on CNBC
SUNDAY
2015 Grand Prix of Hungary: 630am - 9am live on CNBC

Check your local listings; all times Pond Central.

The FIA has announced that they'll be retiring car number 17 from consideration of future use, in honor of Jules Bianchi.  As you may or not be aware, as I've tended not to mention it much, F1 drivers now get to choose their car number when they join the sport; it then sticks with them until they retire.  So if you choose, say "23" when you're a Sauber driver, you're still 23 when you move to Ferrari.  The only variant to this is the reigning World Driver's Champion... he has the option of using number "1", and while traditional, it isn't mandatory; Lewis Hamilton, for example, is NOT using it this year.  Instead, he's using his #44.

There's a rumor that the paddock will do a minute's silence on race day in honor of their fallen comrade.  I'm sure that will happen; I'm wondering what else will be done.  The race after that Awful Weekend in 1994, the first two spots on the grid were painted in the national flags of Senna and Ratzenberger, and pole position was really #3 on the grid.  I like that idea, to be honest. 

Speculation is flying around what Ferrari will do.  In times of mourning, such as the death of Pope John Paul II, the team has raced a red car with no logos of any sort and a black nose.  As a member of their Young Driver's program and tapped to drive for the team a lot sooner, rather than later, I wonder if they'll do that again.  The black stripe on the nose is quite understated and classy, I think.  I'm sure the rest of the field will have the #17 on their cars, or some other similar tribute to Bianchi.  Manor, on the other hand, has been tight-lipped.  The team that owes its very existence to his driving, what will they do?  Guess we'll find out on Sunday.  See yo then.

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July 18, 2015

Jules Bianchi 1989 - 2015

Somewhat inevitable news from the Formula 1 community as Jules Bianchi, driver for Marussia last year, passed away at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Nice, France, today.  He was 25. 

As we all remember, he suffered massive head trauma in his terrible accident at Suzuka this past October.  He never regained consciousness after the crash.  In the months that followed, there had been some positive signs: taken off the respirator, breathing on his own, squeezing of hands, that sort of thing, but even the most optimistic thoughts on his recovery made for grim reading.

He was a better driver than the car he was given.  After being a karting champion, he won the French Formula Renault series in 2007, finished third in Formula 3 Euroseries in 2008, and in 2009 won nine out of 20 races to take the F3 championship.  When Felipe Massa had his accident, Ferrari considered having him fill the seat; instead, he wound up signing with their Young Drivers program and became a test driver.  In 2010 and 2011, Bianchi would finish third in GP2, while in 2012 he got his break in F1 as a Friday driver for Force India.  In 2013, Marussia picked him up and gave him a drive, for which act he repaid them with a 13th place finish that secured the team a 10th place finish in the Constructor's Championship and the prize money that came with it.
It was in 2014, however, that Bianchi showed his talent level.  Taking a lackluster car from 19th on the grid at Monaco, he wound up surviving the twisty, narrow streets and despite a penalty, finshed eighth.  Alas, another penalty wound up dropping him to ninth.  Either way, he still managed to do something nobody else had managed or has yet to duplicate: score points for Marussia.  These points would ultimately provide the team with enough prize money to continue into 2015.  Drivers that score points for backmarkers usually turn out to be something special, and there's no question that Jules Bianchi was destined to drive for Ferrari, possibly as soon as 2016.  Instead, he becomes the first Formula 1 driver to die from race-related injuries since Ayrton Senna in 1994.

We here at Wonderduck's Pond send our condolences to the Bianchi family, his friends, and the F1 paddock as a whole.  Next week's race in Hungary should be a somber one, to say the least.

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July 04, 2015

F1 Quals: Great Britain 2015

About as perfect of a summer's day as you could ever hope for in England welcomed the Blundering Herd to Silverstone today.  Low 70s and brilliant sunshine made for perfect track conditions.  The only fly in the ointment was a rather stiff and gusting breeze that made for interesting handling problems for these cars, delicately balanced between grip and control... or kittylitter and tears.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2015 Grand Prix of Great Britain:

Pos. Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.796 1:33.068 1:32.248
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:33.475 1:32.737 1:32.361
3 Felipe Not Nasr Massa Williams 1:34.542 1:33.707 1:33.085
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:34.171 1:33.020 1:33.149
5 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:33.426 1:33.911 1:33.379
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:33.562 1:33.641 1:33.547
7 Kid Kvyat Red Bull 1:34.422 1:33.520 1:33.636
8 Edward James Olmos Toro Rosso 1:34.641 1:34.071 1:33.649
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:34.594 1:33.693 1:33.673
10 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:34.272 1:33.749 1:33.943
11 Sergio Aragones Force India 1:34.250 1:34.268
12 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus 1:34.646 1:34.430
13 Embryo Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:34.819 1:34.502
14 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:34.877 1:34.511
15 Sony Ericsson Sauber 1:34.643 1:34.868
16 Felipe Not Massa Nasr Sauber 1:34.888

17 OFTDHWRHN McLaren 1:34.959

18 Jenson Button McLaren 1:35.207

19 Will Stevens Marussia 1:37.364

20 Roberto Merhi Marussia 1:39.377


We had a rash of qualifying laps thrown out all day, thanks to the Stewards cracking down on exceeding the track limits.  Turns 9 and 18 were the main sources of offense, and it came close to costing Seb Vettel progression to Q2.  Something like 11 drivers had lap times disallowed, some multiple times (Pastor Maldonado, we're looking at you...).

Other than that, however, it was very close to being a bog-standard Quals session.  Only the mild surprise of having Williams lock out Row Two is somewhat different.  This really is the sort of track that fits the Williams chassis to a T: medium downforce with fast, fast sweeping corners.  As the FW37 appears to have a problem with downforce acquisition, not being limited in comparison to the other teams at this track plays right into their hands.  Throw in the Mercedes power unit, and you've got the recipe for a nice finish tomorrow.

Not "race winning", but nice.  Ain't nobody beating the Mercs tomorrow, and my guess is that only a RPG is going to stop Lewis Hamilton from winning his home race again.

Race on Sunday morning... we'll see you sometime thereafter with the F1U!

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June 29, 2015

F1 on TV: Great Britain 2015

There was once a time where Silverstone was my favorite circuit on the calendar.  The track was just about as perfect as it could be.  The racing was thrilling.  The fans were insane.  But those days have gone, demolished by a remodel of the track.  And here the F1 Circus comes again, once more to the old RAF airbase.  Let's take a look at the map, shall we?

They moved the start-finish line, they added a whole new section in a pointless arena complex, and they managed somehow to make me stop loving my favorite track.  Good job, F1!  You must be proud... or you would, if you cared about American F1 fans, which you don't.  Which is a pity.  Its not like some of us aren't the most passionate followers of your sport around or anything.  Heck, I don't even count myself among that number, and I've still written about F1 since 2005.  Along the way, I've either created new fans or brought lapsed fans back into the fold via my readership, but because I'm in Duckford, not Duxford, I'm not important in the eyes of Formula 1 or Bernie Ecclestone.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I have all the answers... or indeed, any answers at all... but I can tell you that I'm kinda tired of being considered a second- or third-class citizen in the eyes of my favorite form of motorsport, which it must be said is rapidly descending  towards second-class status in MY eyes.  It's too bad full races in the World Endurance Championship are so rarely shown here in the US.  Just sayin'.

But you're not here to read my diatribe, you're here to find out when the 2015 Grand Prix of England will be on television, right?  Well, here's the schedule:
Friday
Practice 2: 800a - 930a live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 700a - 830a live on CNBC
Sunday
2015 Grand Prix of England: 630a - 900a live on CNBC

NBCSN has decided that either the Tour de France or English Premiere League soccer is more important than F1, so off to the hinterlands of CNBC goes the Circus. 

I apologize.  I'm bitter all around right now.  Drug dopers on bicycles and floppers acting like their spine has been shattered when someone pats 'em on the back... now that's entertainment!

See you Friday.

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June 20, 2015

F1 Quals: Austria 2015

Rain hit the RedBullRing before the Qualifying session.  While it wasn't raining when the Time To Go Fast began, there were still plenty of wet patches around the circuit.  Would it make any difference to who was on top?  Let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2015 Grand Prix of Austria:

Pos. Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:12.218 1:09.062 1:08.455
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:10.976 1:08.634 1:08.655
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:11.184 1:09.392 1:08.810
4 Felipe Not Nasr Massa Williams 1:11.830 1:09.719 1:09.192
5 LeMans Hulkenberg Force India 1:11.319 1:09.604 1:09.278
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:11.894 1:09.598 1:09.319
7 Embryo Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:11.307 1:09.631 1:09.612
8 Kid Kvyat Red Bull 1:12.092 1:10.187 1:09.694
9 Felipe Not Massa Nasr Sauber 1:12.001 1:09.652 1:09.713
10 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus 1:11.821 1:09.920 No Time
11 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:11.661 1:10.374
12 Sony Ericsson Sauber 1:12.388 1:10.426
13 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:11.158 1:10.465
14 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:11.973 1:10.482
15 HWIOSCTBNA McLaren 1:12.508 1:10.736
16 Sergio Perez Force India 1:12.522

17 Jenson Button McLaren 1:12.632

18 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:12.867

19 Roberto Merhi Marussia 1:14.071

20 Will Stevens Marussia 1:15.368


Up at the top of the grid, it looks awfully normal.  Lewis Hamilton took pole, but it actually took a little bit of luck for it to happen.  He was the last to cross the start/finish line before time ran out on Q3, but he immediately beached his Mercedes into the kittylitter outside of Turn 1... just as the news came out that his teammate Nico Rosberg had set the fastest first AND second sector times of the day... if he kept that pace up, he'd grab pole easily.  And then, just as Hamilton was exiting from his car at the far end of the front straight, Rosberg hurled his car off at the final turn, located at the OTHER end.  He left four long black streaks of rubber behind as he reached the gravel trap short of the tire wall.  So much for fast times on the first two sectors.

At the other end of the grid, we had a very interesting conversation between the Ferrari pit wall and Kimi Raikkonen: "Okay, Kimi, we wound up P18."  "How did that happen?"  As this is a friendly, happy blog, I may have edited a few words out of his response.  Mistakes were made, and as the track dried at the end of P1, times began to plummet.  When the team pitted his car, Raikkonen was seventh on the timesheets.  A couple of minutes later, he was 18th and out of Quals.  Heck, at one point McLaren's Jenson Button was on pole, though with six or seven minutes left.

Speaking of McLaren, both of their cars will be starting from Unterkohlstatten due to receiving matching 25-grid place penalties.  Since there are only 20 places on the grid, they'll both be starting from the very back AND either a time penalty or a drive-through penalty to boot.  Button basically changed every aspect of his power unit before Quals, while HWIOSCTBNA did the same except for the cigarette lighter.  Red Bull's Daniel Riccardio and Toro Rosso's Kid Kyvat have also suffered various penalties, though nowhere near as extreme as the McLarens.

So that's the way it works out for the race in Austria.  One thing to keep an eye on: both Saubers are reportedly set up for a rainy race, while nobody else appears to be.  More and more reports are suggesting rain about one hour into the contest... if that happens, considering how well they qualified I'd expect a major upset on Sunday.

Oh, and congratulations have to go out to Mercedes.  The last time either Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg wasn't on pole for a race was one year ago, when Williams' Felipe Not Nasr Massa pulled a surprise in Austria.  It's been one full race year, 19 races, since then.

Race in the morning.  Lord knows when I'll get the writeup done!

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June 16, 2015

F1 on NBCSN: Austria 2015

From that well-known European city of... Montreal?, the F1 Circus makes their way to the cosmopolitan megalopolis of Spielberg, Austria, some 197km down the S36 to the B227 from Vienna, home of the RedBullRing, the location of the 2015 Grand Prix of Austria!  Let's take a look at the track map, shall we?

Last year's race saw Felipe Massa on pole and Nico Rosberg get the win over his teammate Lewis Hamilton in a brake-problem-filled race that also saw Patrick Friesacher in a Minardi PS04 in the pre-race festivities.  Ah, the memories.  Other than all of that, however, it was a fairly lackluster race that I remember as being on a fairly boring circuit that felt like it really was in the back-end of nowhere.  Like, the run from Turn 2 to Turn 3 seemed to be bordered by a wheat field.  One expected to see cows grazing beyond Turn 3.  There is a nice bit of elevation change here, however, so perhaps there's some hope for the track and my opinion was colored by my mood at the time.  I can't think of anything else interesting to say about this track so here's a pretty picture of a classic F1 car.

Ah, UOP/Shadow... we need you back on the grid.  Anyway, here's the schedule for NBCSN's coverage this weekend:
Friday
Practice 2: 7a - 830a live
Saturday
Quals: 7a - 830a live
Sunday
2015 Grand Prix of Austria: 630a - 9a live

Join me, join all of us, won't you?  Y'all be there, y'hear?

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June 06, 2015

F1 Quals: Canada 2015

Having loaded myself up on buttermilk pancakes from Scandahoovia Inn (warning: swedish pancakes have been known to instantly clog arteries.  Fortunately, lingonberries have restorative properties equaled only by a high-level cleric's healing spells... and it goes with just about everything!) and conversation with the folks, I returned to Pond Central to watch myself some Qualifying for the 2015 Grand Prix of Canada.  So how'd it turn out?  Here's the provisional grid:

Pos. Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:15.895 1:14.661 1:14.393
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:15.893 1:14.673 1:14.702
3 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:16.259 1:15.348 1:15.014
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:16.552 1:15.506 1:15.102
5 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus 1:15.833 1:15.187 1:15.194
6 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:16.098 1:15.622 1:15.329
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:16.186 1:15.706 1:15.614
8 Kid Kvyat Red Bull 1:16.415 1:15.891 1:16.079
9 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:16.410 1:16.006 1:16.114
10 Sergio Perez Force India 1:16.827 1:15.974 1:16.336
11 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:16.611 1:16.042  
12 Embryo Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:16.361 1:16.245  
13 Sony Ericsson Sauber 1:16.796 1:16.262  
14 ;"> HWIOSCTBNA McLaren 1:17.012 1:16.276  
15 Felipe not Massa Nasr Sauber 1:16.968 1:16.620  
16 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:17.344    
17 Felipe not Nasr Massa Williams 1:17.886    
18 Roberto Merhi Marussia 1:19.133    
19 Will Stevens Marussia 1:19.157    

Sharp-eyed readers will note that Jenson Button's McLaren is conspicuous by his absence.  He had a major failure in part of his power unit during Practice 3 and the team couldn't get it repaired in time.  He'll be starting towards the back of the grid.  Seb Vettel, who had a power unit problem of his own, has been penalized five spots for passing under a red flag in P3, and thus will be starting halfway through the Hairpin.  Meanwhile, Embryo Verstappen received two penalties: five grid spots for causing the wreck towards the end of the race at Monaco, and a whopping ten spots for using his fifth engine of the year.  He'll be starting somewhere near Channel-Port aux Basques, where he's likely to have a slow getaway considering he'll need to take a ferry to the mainland when the lights go out.  Fortunately, the MV Leif Ericson (no relation to the Sauber driver) makes a good 18kts so it's only a seven hour trip to North Sydney, Nova Scotia.  From there, it's 14 hours by passenger car to Toronto.  He has his work cut out for him if he wants points.

Up at the top of the grid, nothing's changed.  Oh, there was some thought that Nico Rosberg might possibly take pole over Lewis Hamilton, but it didn't happen... even Rosberg said his last try was a "rubbish way to end the session."  With Vettel not making it out of Q1, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen felt free to stretch his legs, and it earned him his best starting position of the season.  He should try that more often.  The two Lotii of Lettuce Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado nearly came to grief in Q3 when both of them were released from their pit stalls simultaneously and wound up running side-by-side down the pit lane... I'm surprised there wasn't a penalty somewhere for unsafe release for that.

Otherwise, everything was pretty normal going.  The race is tomorrow on NBC... the big network, kids!  Break out those rabbit ears and pull the 12" b&w out of storage, it's race time!  We'll see ya afterwards for F1U!

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June 05, 2015

F1 Practice: Canada 2015

Well, that was a bit of a wet noodle.  Practice 2 started out well enough.  Every team had their car out on track almost from the get-go.  That's exciting for the fans, but not so much for those "in the know", because that always means that weather is coming in, and the teams are trying to get as much data in the computers as possible.  Sure enough, the on-screen graphics quickly popped up a message: rain due at 135pm Pond Time.  Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes was tearing off laps a good .330 faster than anybody else (on top of his session-leading times in P1), but he didn't look jaw-droppingly dominant.  Indeed, he very nearly stuffed it into the Wall of Champions at one point, missing the turn-in to the final chicane and getting all four tires off the ground when he hit the backside of the curb.  For the record: your grip levels are greatly reduced when you're not physically in contact with the racing surface.  He managed to not come to grief, though.  And then, at 137pm Pond Time, the rains came to Ile Notre-Dame.  Everybody made their way into the garages and superhero Berndt Maylander began to run laps around the course, testing grip levels.

After Berndt gave the car a rest, Mercedes had a great idea.  Their thinking went something like this: "Just in case it rains on Sunday, which it isn't supposed to do but the possibility exists that it could, let's send Nico and Lewis out on Intermediate tires to try and get some data.  It'll be fun!"  Meanwhile, everybody else kept their cars under cover, snug and dry.  So how did Mercedes' fun-filled adventure go?

Ah.  Yes.  Heading into the Hairpin at less-than-racing speed, Lewis realized that he wasn't so much driving a car as riding in a boat.  The car was aquaplaning so badly that you could actually see that the front tires weren't making contact with the track surface.  Remember what I said about grip levels being reduced in that situation?  The car slid all the way into the barriers on the outside of the Hairpin, which is quite the journey.  I can't remember the last time I saw someone end up there... not even Robert Kubica made it that far.  Anyway, the good news was that the impact was at quite low speed and Lewis was unhurt.  The bad news was that the nose got stuck in the tire barrier.  The ugly news is that, when the tractor pulled the Merc free, the car swung back and smacked into the big green chunk of machinery.  Who knows what sort of damage that did to the rear of the car?  Of course, the session was red-flagged during all of this, and once it was over with, none of the other teams thought it was worth going back out.  Or they were all laughing themselves sick, one of the two.

Quals in the afternoon tomorrow; I'll be having lunch with the folks, so I won't have the post until after I get back.  See ya then!

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June 02, 2015

F1 on TV: Canada 2015

From the champagne and caviar of Monaco, the F1 Circus crosses The Pond  to the land of Labatt's and poutine, Canada.  It's quite the jump from a tiny fishing village on the coast of France to the bustling metropolis of Montreal, or quite the plunge if you're talking about gross domestic income, but that's where the cargo planes have taken us this time.  Let's take a look at the track map for the 2015 Grand Prix of Canada:

Once again we've come to the Ile Notre-Dame, a man-made island in the St Lawrence River and the location of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.  We've been here every year since 1978, save twice: 1987 and 2009, and if one has to bet on a track to give us a good race, I'd put my money on this one every time.

So what is it about this circuit that makes that happen?  Well, it's ridonkulously fast.  Oh, it's no Monza, sure, but from Turn 7 to the braking zone for the Hairpin is basically flat out, as is the run from the exit from the Hairpin to the Chicane at Turn 13/14.  It's a fairly narrow track, meaning there's not much room for error, but it's filled with passing opportunities.  I've seen passes at every single turn except the final chicane.  Then there's the ever-present threat of rain... this is the site of the longest race in F1 history, over four hours, in 2011.  Also one of the best races, also in 2011.  It's the place the first Safety Car was ever called out, and since then it's averaging more than one per race.  It's the home of the Montreal Marmot Massacre and the Wall of Champions.  It's where SuperAguri hit their highpoint (~SUPERSATO~ passing Alonso for points!).  And it's just a lovely, lovely track... even during the times the concrete was breaking up.  There's just enough challenge to the driver to make it fun, and if they're having fun, chances are we will too.

So when does all this fun take place?  I'm glad you asked!  Let's take a look at the schedule:
Friday
Practice 2: 1p - 230p live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 12noon - 130p live on NBCSN
Sunday
Prerace: 1230p - 1p live on NBCSN
2015 Grand Prix of Canada: 1p - 3p live on NBC

Its the first of three races we don't have to stay up until ungodly-o'clock (or wake up at what-time-is-it? AM) to watch, hooray!  Check your local schedule for exact times and channels.  All times Pond Central.  Subtract two hours for random apartments in Oregon, add one hour for random boats just off the coast of Virginia, and sneeze if you're on Guam.  No reason, I just want you to sneeze.

What with all this competition that's been happening recently, I expect some action.  Everybody but Mercedes have used some of their allotted "tokens" to upgrade various pieces of their Power Units (remember when we used to call them "engines"?  Ah, good times, good times...), so it's even possible that someone other than Mercedes will take that final step up on the podium. 

I'm not betting on it, but it's possible.  See ya then!

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May 23, 2015

F1 Quals: Monaco 2015

After the rain washed out the majority of Free Practice 2 on Thursday, eyes were cocked askance at the lowering skies above the Monaco harbor.  Would we get a wet Qual session at the most ridiculous circuit on the calendar?  Let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2015 Grand Prix of Monaco:

Pos. Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:16.588 1:15.864 1:15.098
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:16.528 1:15.471 1:15.440
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:17.502 1:16.181 1:15.849
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:17.254 1:16.706 1:16.041
5 Kid Kvyat Red Bull 1:16.845 1:16.453 1:16.182
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:17.660 1:16.440 1:16.427
7 Sergio Perez Force India 1:17.376 1:16.999 1:16.808
8 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:17.246 1:16.762 1:16.931
9 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:17.630 1:16.775 1:16.946
10 Embryo Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:16.750 1:16.546 1:16.957
11 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus 1:17.767 1:17.007
12 Jenson Button McLaren 1:17.492 1:17.093
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:17.552 1:17.193
14 Felipe Not Nasr Massa Williams 1:17.679 1:17.278
15 HWIACTBNA McLaren 1:17.778 1:26.632
16 Felipe Not MassaNasr Sauber 1:18.101

17 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:18.434

18 L.M. Ericsson Sauber 1:18.513

19 Will Stevens Marussia 1:20.655

20 Roberto Merhi Marussia 1:20.904


I don't know why I expected anything different.  Wait, no, yes I do: Monaco is the one place on the calendar where the car/driver balance is tilted waaaaaaay over to the "driver" side.  Which isn't to say a good car isn't a requirement... of course it is.  But if you had told me that HWIACTBNA had dragged his recalcitrant McLaren into Q3, I would have believed you.  As it was, it was only because he was balked on his last flying lap by a yellow flag that Jenson Button didn't make it to Q3.

I'm thinking that this was the best quals performance for Red Bull as a team this season, and isn't that an amazing statement after the past four years?  There's nothing particularly surprising about the rest of the grid, though Sauber and Williams must both be chewing on their mustaches in consternation.

Rosberg is going to have to pull some serious driving stuff pretty darn quick after the lights go out, ere his teammate is going to snap his string of wins at his home race... and if you think Lewis Hamilton doesn't want to do that after Spain, you're crazy.  Plus, heck... it's MONACO.  This is the Big One.  And if Rosberg manages to win, he'll join some rather elite company... the names of drivers who have won Monaco three or more times is pretty impressive.  Ayrton Senna, Graham Hill, Slappy Schumacher, Alain Prost, Sterling Moss and Jackie Stewart.  19 World Championships between them (Moss drags the average down, winning no championships during his career... which is just mind-blowing).  I think it'd be safe to say that Rosberg would be the worst driver of the bunch, which isn't really a knock.

Well, we'll find out on Sunday, the Racing Fan's Holiday!  See ya then!


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May 18, 2015

F1 on TV: Monaco 2015

Ahhhhh, Monaco.  The place Formula 1 likes to imagine every race is like.  The glitz, the glamor, the champagne, the megayachts in the harbor, the casino, the women, the money.  For some reason, I can't imagine Spielberg, Austria, or Mexico City, or Spa-Francopants, or even Austin, Texas being the center of glitz and glamor (though Austin's the center of Weird).  But that's fine.  The sport can have its delusions because at least once a year, they're real.  This weekend the F1 Circus makes its way to the Principality for the 2015 Grand Prix of Monaco.  Let's take a look at the track map, shall we?

Essentially unchanged since the addition of the Nouvelle Chicane (Turns 10/11) in 1986, though there was a minor reprofiling of the Swimming Pool (Turns 13-16) in 1997, Monaco is the slowest circuit on the calendar.  It's also the narrowest, has both the slowest (The Hairpin) and one of the fastest turns (Turn 9, the Tunnel) on the calendar, and is the only place on the calendar with a measurable risk of drivers ending up in the water.  There's no "straight" here, just less curvy areas, and I'm fairly sure that the stretch from the end of the Nouvelle Chicane to Turn 17 is flat... the rest is uphill, downhill or seemingly both at the same time (the exit to the tunnel loses altitude except for a car-length-sized bump uphill).  It takes about six weeks to construct the circuit by putting up the armco barriers, safety fencing, bleachers, activating the pit lane, bolting the curbs into place, welding the drain covers down, that sort of stuff.

Just as the Monaco Grand Prix is different from other races in many ways, so too is the race weekend for Monaco.  Instead of Friday-Saturday-Sunday, instead we have Thursday-Saturday-Sunday.  Such arrangement allows the billionaires to return from their jobs in Switzerland or England on Friday... or not, as the case may be.  It's also one of the few that we here in the US get to see on one of the "Big Three" networks!  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Thursday
7a - 830a: Practice 2 on NBCSN live
Saturday
7a - 830a: Quals on NBCSN live
Sunday
630a - 9a: 2015 Grand Prix of Monaco, live on NBC
As always, all times are Pond Central; check your local listings.  Post no bills.

This is also Memorial Day weekend, meaning that Sunday is the Racing Fan's National Holiday as well.  We get Monaco in the morning, the Indy 500 in the early afternoon, and the Coca-Cola 600 in the late afternoon/early evening.  That's a lot of racing, and no, I'm not gonna try it this year.  The open-wheel races, yes, but NASCAR I'll be happy if I get to catch the end.  It's a busy weekend, but a fun one!  See ya 'round, racefans!

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May 09, 2015

F1 Quals: Spain 2015

Hold the phone!  Stop the presses!  From border to border, coast to coast and all the ships at sea, we have breaking news!  Flash!  Here's the grid for the 2015 Grand Prix of Spain:

Pos. Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:26.490s 1:25.166s 1:24.681s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:26.382s 1:25.740s 1:24.948s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:27.534s 1:26.167s 1:25.458s
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:27.262s 1:26.197s 1:25.694s
5 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:26.773s 1:26.475s 1:26.136s
6 Min Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:27.393s 1:26.441s 1:26.249s
7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:26.637s 1:26.016s 1:26.414s
8 Kid Kvyat Red Bull 1:27.833s 1:26.889s 1:26.629s
9 Felipe Massa Williams 1:27.165s 1:26.147s 1:26.757s
10 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:27.611s 1:26.692s 1:26.770s
11 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus 1:27.383s 1:27.375s
12 Ohgodits Maldonado Lotus 1:27.281s 1:27.450s
13 HWPMBNSTITF McLaren 1:27.941s 1:27.760s
14 Jenson Button McLaren 1:27.813s 1:27.854s
15 Gamal Abdel Nasr Sauber 1:27.625s 1:28.005s
16 Sony Ericsson Sauber 1:28.112s

17 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:28.365s

18 Sergio Perez Force India 1:28.442s

19 Will Stevens Marussia 1:31.200s

20 Roberto Merhi Marussia 1:32.038s


Yes, someone other than Lewis Hamilton has landed the premium spot on the grid for the first time this season!  That it's his teammate Nico Rosberg should come as no surprise to anybody, since he actually had more poles than the rest of the field combined last year.  Pole is important in Spain, as 12 out of the last 14 races at Barcalounger have been won from the first spot on the grid.  However, those two times have occurred in the past four years... i.e., during the DRS and KERS era. 

It's still not an easy place to pass, so you've gotta think Rosberg has an advantage.  We'll know by the first turn!  The race is Sunday morning, we'll see you then!

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May 08, 2015

F1 Practice: Spain 2015

I totally forgot to watch.  Completely spaced on today being Friday.  However!  I did say that I'd get back to you about if the new livery helped the McLaren go faster or not.

A McLaren, blood dripping from its wings, continues hunting for fresh prey.
Jenson Button ended up 7th at the end of P2.  His teammate, HWPMBNSTITF, was solidly in 11th.  So I think we can safely say yes, at least for today the Dark Charcoal and Red livery gave the McLaren chassis a speed boost.  Never mind any other gewgaws and doohickies they may have added to the bodywork, it was all down to the livery.  For what it's worth, Button is still over 1.5 seconds behind times set by the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.  In other news, Lotus has installed a particularly aggressive batch of upgrades to the E23 chassis for this race.

All joking aside, and please note they put the tires on backwards, Lotus had a spot of bother out on the circuit today.  Lettuce Grosjean was turning a lap at speed when the entire engine cover tore off like it was never attached.  Normally I would think that this would do terrible things to a car's pace, but this is Lotus we're talking about here.  Ahem.  Here's what it looked like when Lettuce made it back to the pits:

Quals in the morning.  The quals report probably won't be up until the afternoon, though.

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May 04, 2015

F1 on TV: Spain 2015

The slow boat from Bahrain has finally made landfall in the Old World, and the F1 Circus has disembarked in the traditional home of racing boredom, Barcalounger, home of the 2015 Grand Prix of Spain.  Let's take a look at the track map, shall we? 
I call it a boring race because it almost always is.  For many, many years, the Circuit de Catalunya was the winter home for testing, with every team putting in thousands of laps annually.  As a result, every tiny rise, every small dip, any bump, crack or irregularity is known and processed through the filter of the teams.  Every single inch of this circuit is mapped and imprinted directly onto the cerebellums of the drivers, to the point that the race has spawned some legendary processions.  Indeed, if there was ever an argument to be made for the necessity of gimmicks like DRS and KERS in Formula 1, this track right here is it.

Over and above all that, there's nothing particularly challenging about this Spanish track.  It's a burrito from Chipotle is what it is.  Filling, and you know you've eaten something when you're done, but real burritos are so much better.  It wasn't always that way... I remember when Sector 3 was ridiculously fast: Turn 10 was a sweeper instead of a hairpin, and the final turn ran in a single arc from Turn 13 to the exit of Turn 16 and cars barely slowed for it.

But those days are dust, now and forever more.  At least we'll have the Legendary Announce Team to bring us coverage over paella and tortas from the Basilica Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus.  Here's the broadcast schedule:
FRIDAY
7am - 830am: Practice 2 on NBCSN
SATURDAY
7am - 830am: Quals live on CNBC
SUNDAY
630a - 9am: 2015 Grand Prix of Spain on NBCSN. 

All times are Pond Central, of course.  Add an hour if, for example, you're in a hospital in Virginia.  Subtract two hours if you're having a Mission burrito in San Francisco.  And if you're in the Midwest, have a breakfast pastry with your sangria.

We'll see you then.

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May 01, 2015

Deforming

There was a nasty wreck during the ARCA series race at Talladega today.  Austin Self got a little squirrely and spun in the tri-oval, not an uncommon occurrence.  As his car flailed around, it caught the hard-charging car of Brad Smith right in the nose.  Along with the obvious damage, Smith's throttle was stuck open.  He went up the track, smacked the outside wall, and then...

Rescue crews actually had to cut Smith from the wreckage of the car, but he was able to walk under his own power to the ambulance, though unsteadily.  Taken to the infield care unit, he was later helicoptered to the nearby University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital for further observation. 

I mention all this because of a screenshot I saw of the wreck... to whit, this one:

The particular stretch of wall that Smith impacted had what's called a SAFER (Steel And Foam Energy Reduction) Barrier installed in front of it.  When hit, it's designed to crumple like a beercan, reducing the strength of the impact before the car makes contact with the concrete wall behind it.  That's why Smith's car looks like it's smooshed to half its size: part of it is inside the SAFER barrier. 

During the NASCAR Xfinity race at Daytona back in February Kyle Busch had a similar accident, except the wall he hit notably didn't have the SAFER barriers installed.  He suffered a broken right leg and left foot.  Certainly there were differences: impact angle, size and weight of the cars, so on and so forth... but that one man could walk away and the other is sidelined and will remain so for an unknown amount of time may very well come down to the way the wall deformed.

F1 doesn't use SAFER barriers; instead, they use tire walls which really do much the same thing, or TECPRO barriers at four or five circuits.  TECPRO is the same idea as SAFER, just with much more foam and less steel.  It's used mostly at Monaco, where it protected Sergio Perez from what would have been a catastrophic injury in 2011.  Compare that accident to Jenson Button's in 2003, when they had a tire wall instead... no give at all.

In most cases for F1, tire barriers are sufficient.  Walls are usually far away from the track, and when they're not, a car isn't likely to hit them (on straightaways, for example).  Tire barriers are "good enough" in those circumstances, combined with the way F1 cars are designed to absorb impacts.  A SAFER barrier might actually hinder the way a F1 car takes damage, come to think of it.

Well, there you go.

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April 18, 2015

F1 Quals: Bahrain 2015

Pretty night at Sakhir tonight as the F1 Circus gets ready for tomorrow's race, but who's going to be leading the horde towards Turn 1 when the lights go out?  Here's the provisional grid:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.928 1:32.669 1:32.571
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:34.919 1:33.623 1:32.982
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:34.398 1:33.878 1:33.129
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:34.568 1:33.540 1:33.227
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:34.161 1:33.897 1:33.381
6 Felipe Massa Williams 1:34.488 1:33.551 1:33.744
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:34.691 1:34.403 1:33.832
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:35.653 1:34.613 1:34.450
9 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:35.371 1:34.641 1:34.462
10 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus 1:35.007 1:34.123 1:34.484
11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:35.451 1:34.704  
12 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:35.310 1:34.737  
13 Sony Ericsson Sauber 1:35.438 1:35.034  
14 HWMODBNA McLaren 1:35.205 1:35.039  
15 Embryo Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:35.611 1:35.103  
16 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:35.677    
17 Kid Kvyat Red Bull Racing 1:35.800    
18 Will Stevens Manor 1:38.713    
19 Roberto Merhi Manor 1:39.722    
20 Jenson Button McLaren No time    

The same "Big Six" as we've come to expect, just a little scrambled.  Actually, Vettel was the polesitter right up until the very last moment.  Unsurprisingly, Hamilton nailed him on his last attempt, and to be honest there was a sense of inevitability to the proceedings.  Of COURSE Lewis Hamilton was going to be on pole.  No, it doesn't matter than his car is on fire and he's only got two tires, he'll still be faster.

One nice thing to see is that McLaren appears to have begun their long trek out of the darkness, at least kinda.  Jenson Button had an engine failure before he could set an actual qualifying time, and races at the Steward's whim.  However!  HWMODBNA got his valiant steed out of Q1 and firmly into Q2.  Reliability is still an issue obviously, but the signs are there: they're picking up about a second per lap ever race.  Again, this is the easy stuff they're doing.  Analogy time!  When painting a wall, it's a cinch to slather the big areas and cover dozens of square feet at a time.  Things start to slow down, though, when you're painting the baseboards and the moulding and around the electrical outlets.  It's those details that make the wall look good when you're done... and it's the little details that take a F1 car from the midpack to join the big guys.

The race is in the morning, 10am Pond Central time... you bring the bagels, I'll have the cold pizza ready.  See ya then!

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April 13, 2015

F1 on TV: Bahrain

From Shanghai, the F1 Circus now packs up and wings westward.  Across China, over the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, the length of Pakistan, maybe catching a small piece of Afghanistan, winging over southern Iran just to the north of Bandar Abbas, crossing the Persian Gulf, and landing nearly 12 hours later at Bahrain International Airport.  From there, it's a 40 minute drive down the Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Highway to the Bahrain International Circuit, located at Gate 255, Gulf of Bahrain Avenue, Umm Jidar 1062, Sakhir... the home of the 2015 Grand Prix of Bahrain.  Let's take a look at the track map:

Seems like quite the journey for us to end up... here.  It's very much a Tilkedrome, almost totally indistinguishable from Malaysia or China... only the decorations differentiate between locations, really.  Well, that and the sand in Bahrain.  There's a lot of that.  The University of Bahrain is literally right across the street from the Bahrain International Circuit, too... indeed, the bleachers that line the outside of Turns 1 through 3 are called the "University Stands."  See?  You really DO learn things here at The Pond! 

Anyway, the track surface aggregate is very grippy.  Interestingly, it was shipped from Bayston Hill quarry in England, but it should play merry hell with the rubber this race.  There's also the ever-present fear of sand on the track; the adhesive the event organizers spray on the surrounding desert does seem to keep most of it down.  The track is mostly very wide, thus allowing plenty of room for cars to run side-by-side, ha-ha.  It has one of the best medical centers on-site at a racetrack in the world, with perhaps only the Abu Dhabi facility rivaling it.

On the whole, it's not a particularly challenging circuit, but there's one huge change being made to it this year: lights.  That's right, this year the Grand Prix of Bahrain is going to be a night race.  That'll add a whole lot of confusion to the proceedings, since nobody's ever driven here under the lights. 

It's a huge boon for us, the viewers, though!  Let's take a look at the TV schedule...
Friday
10am - 1130am: Practice 2 Live on NBCSN
Saturday
10am - 1130am: Quals Live on CNBC
Sunday
930a - 12noon: 2015 Grand Prix of Bahrain live on NBCSN

No staying up until 4am, or getting up at 6am, for this one!  For once, I can actually be happy with Formula One Management. 

We'll see ya after!

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April 11, 2015

F1 Quals: China 2015

Before you can race in F1, you must qualify.  This has been duly done by the accumulated Circus, but how did everything end up in Shanghai?  Let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2015 Grand Prix of China:

Pos Name Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:38.285 1:36.423 1:35.782
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:38.496 1:36.747 1:35.824
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:37.502 1:36.957 1:36.687
4 Felipe Massa Williams 1:38.433 1:37.357 1:36.954
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:38.014 1:37.763 1:37.143
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:37.790 1:37.109 1:37.232
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:38.534 1:37.939 1:37.540
8 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus 1:38.209 1:38.063 1:37.905
9 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:38.521 1:38.017 1:38.067
10 Sony Ericsson Sauber 1:38.941 1:38.127 1:38.158
11 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:38.563 1:38.134  
12 Kid Kvyat Red Bull Racing 1:39.051 1:38.209  
13 Zygote Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:38.387 1:38.393  
14 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:38.622 1:38.538  
15 Sergio Perez Force India 1:38.903 1:39.290  
16 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:39.216    
17 Jenson Button McLaren 1:39.276    
18 HWPMBN McLaren 1:39.280    
19 Will Stevens Manor 1:42.091    
20 Roberto Merhi Manor 1:42.842    

Pretty much what we expect these days.  The Mercs have the one lap speed advantage over the Ferraris, but aren't as easy on their tires as the red cars.  The team from Maranello looked quite  good during long runs in practice, suggesting that Vettel and Raikkonen will be bringing it to Hamilton and Rosberg on Sunday.  The Finn's position in sixth is due to, and I quote, "a sh*t lap", where the car misbehaved during his final pole attempt. 

Nobody believes that the Williams are serious contenders for anything more than staying a notch below the Ferraris, and Red Bull is trying desperately to find some way to explain their sudden lack of speed, grip and class.  Their whining coefficient is off the charts, though.

The one thing everybody can hope for is Nico Rosberg's proclamation coming true.  After Quals, he stated that he believed the softer Option tires were going to die quickly during race conditions.  While the Silver Arrows managed to hold an unused set of Options in reserve, their 1.7 seconds per lap advantage over the Prime tires won't matter if they're only good for five or six laps... the extra pit-stop will take longer than the speed advantage saves the team... particularly if Ferrari can repeat last race and make their tires run longer.

Down at the other end of the order, we actually had both Manor chassis on track at the same time, which may have been the first time that's occurred this year.  Both are well within the 107% time of 1:44.something as well.  Meanwhile, McLaren is... improving, something like a second or two a race.  Of course, these are the easy fixes they're applying; its when they reach "average" that they'll start to really have difficulty improving to "good" or "great."

In other news, we had a track invader during Friday practice.

The man, a Chinese citizen, came down out of the stands, scaled the 10' tall catch fence and the interior armco barrier, ran across the front straight and dove over the inside wall.  He then approached the Ferrari pits and stated an interest in "giving one of the cars a try."  He was apprehended by circuit marshals and turned over to the local police.  As one can imagine, the F1 Circus immediately screamed for a larger security presence.  Reports say that the organizers doubled the front grandstand's police force.  I'm only going to say "wow" and leave it at that. 

Race is Sunday morning... see ya after.

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April 07, 2015

F1 on NBCSN: China

After a relatively surprising result in Malaysia, the Formula 1 Circus has bundled itself up and traipsed its way across the South China Sea to find itself in Shanghai, home of the 2015 Grand Prix of China.  Let's take a look at the track map, shall we?  Yes, let's!

Well, one thing's for sure: it hasn't changed.  It's still smoggy, it's still shaped like the Chinese symbol shang, meaning "arise", it's still a Tilkedrome.  It's more likely to cough up a good race than any other Tilkedrome, true, but that's nothing to hang on your wall proudly.  Throw in the perceived dominance of Mercedes and I find myself staring at the schedule and wondering just what I'm doing with my life.   I mean, besides "nothing".

Well, since I'm not doing anything, I may as well watch the race.  Here's NBCSN's planned coverage schedule:
Friday
Practice 2: 1am - 230a live
Saturday
Quals: 2a - 330a live
Sunday
Grand Prix of China: 1230a - 300a live

All times are Pond Central, of course, but please check your schedule, just to be sure we've got the times listed right.  Seriously, Zap2It is a clumsy, awkward, sloppy little piece of moldy cheese of a TV listing software, and I trust it about as far as I can spit an eatanter.  And for the record, I can't spit an eatanter at all... the tail keeps getting snagged.

In other F1 news, Red Bull has stopped whining about Mercedes' so-called engine domination.  Now team principal Christian Horner is calling for a wind tunnel ban.  Given his track record on this sort of stuff, I can only assume that Red Bull is having technical troubles with their wind tunnel.  Either that or they hate the thought of Haas F1 having the best automotive wind tunnel in the world at their beck and call.  Maybe both, who knows?   I'm not even sure Horner knows.  Red Bull is talking about getting out of the sport altogether, Toro Rosso is on the verge of becoming a Renault tean... maybe we can get a team that's concerned about racing on the track, instead of a team that's a marketing tool first, and then a racing team. 

Rant over.  Everybody back on your heads.

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