April 15, 2014

F1 on NBCSN: China 2014

Sorry I'm a little late with this, but Pond Central has had internet problems since Saturday night/Sunday morning.  It wasn't completely out, but something even worse: it was really, really slow.  As in, "45 seconds to a minute to load a page."  Just alive enough to make you hope, just dead enough to crush your dreams.  Thankfully, I was able to send my taxes via the Duck U Bookstore's system.

But I digress... you're here to hear about this week's race!  This time, the stop is the Shanghai International Circuit, located in the Jiading District of the world's largest city by population, Shanghai, China.  Despite the incredible number of people living there, somehow the government managed to find enough empty space to build a circuit.  Here's the track map:

Okay, yes, it's a Tilkedrome.  Despite that, China has occasionally coughed up a decent race or two.  Rain is useful for that, of course, and there's a chance on Sunday, but nothing I'd put money on.  So it's down to the track... and the new-formula cars, too.  THAT'S where it all hinges, and the way things are going this year, I'd not bet against this being a good race.

It'll still be a Mercedes HappyFest, though.  Unless something has drastically changed in the past couple of weeks, there's nothing standing in the way of the Mercedes-powered teams to dominate this race.  Except for reliability, of course; it's hard to go fast when your engine is spitting pistons into the stratosphere.  That's not something we can really predict so I'll just ignore it altogether.

Fortunately for everybody, I'M not the person calling the race.  That task falls to the Pros from Dover, the (not as) Legendary Announce Team!  Here's when they'll be doing their usual great coverage:
FRIDAY
P2: 1a - 230a live
SATURDAY
Quals: 1a - 230a live
SUNDAY
Grand Prix of China: 130a - 4a live

Of course, F1Update! will be all over the race like a cheap suit on rice.  See ya then!

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April 13, 2014

USF1 Redux?

A few years ago, there was an attempt to start an American Formula 1 team.  To be called USF1, it was a project from Peter (Smarmy) Windsor, former Williams and Ferrari manager, and Ken Anderson, a former NASCAR technical director.  It failed miserably, never completing a chassis, never turning a wheel, suffering from mismanagement and funding impossibilities. 

But yet, why couldn't there be an American F1 team?  It's not like there's any lack of technical ability here in the States, nor any shortage of cash or driving skill.  What is needed is a competent management staff with active ties to the racing world.

Those of us longing for an American F1 team on the grid may have just had our wishes granted.  NASCAR Sprint Cup team owner Gene Haas, longtime motorsports guy, just had his application to join the F1 grid in 2015 approved by the FIA.  The team, tentatively called Haas Racing Developments, may be based in North Carolina, home of Stewart-Haas Racing, the NASCAR team.

Very few details exist as of yet outside of what I've just mentioned.  As usual, the thought is that there'll be an all-American driver lineup, which while admirable, is also wrong for a new team.  Currently, the number of active American drivers with Formula 1 experience beyond a few testing laps is limited to one: Scott Speed.  What a team needs is someone who knows how a F1 car should feel so the pit wall can make it feel that way.  Scott Speed, while American, was nobody's idea of a testing genius.  No, there should be at least one driver with serious F1 history on the team, and that means foreign... and preferably someone with financial backing of their own, sad to say.  The two things any team needs is skill and money, and a new team needs a lot of both.

I'm not going to get excited yet.  It'll be too easy for this venture to fail the way USF1 did.  I'm much more encouraged by the people involved, but they don't even have an engine lined up yet.  My guess is that they'll have the new Honda powerunit, but who knows?  I'd really like to see this succeed, though.  I'd love to root for a team again.

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April 06, 2014

F1U Bahrain Delayed

The Grand Prix of Bahrain was great, just entertaining from beginning to end, and I can't bring myself to do the writeup. 

The events of this past Thursday... well.  Let's just say I was in the store both Saturday and Sunday, and trying to do something serious like the F1U!, even for arguably the best dry race we've had in a couple of years, just makes me sad.

I want to do it.  I just can't see myself doing something serious right now.  Sorry, people, I know you're looking for it.

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April 05, 2014

F1 Quals: Bahrain 2014

It didn't rain.  I mean, duh, of course, it's Bahrain, but I needed to make sure the weather situation was known and understood before I showed you the grid for tomorrow's race.  Because, y'know what?  It's a doozy!  Let's take a look at the starting lineup for the 2014 Grand Prix of Bahrain:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:35.439 1:33.708 1:33.18
2 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:35.323 1:33.872 1:33.464
3 Unlucky Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:36.220 1:34.592 1:34.051
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:34.934 1:34.842 1:34.247
5 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:34.998 1:34.747 1:34.346
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:35.234 1:34.925 1:34.368
7 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:35.699 1:34.714 1:34.387
8 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:35.085 1:34.842 1:34.511
9 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:35.288 1:34.904 1:34.712
10 HWMNBN
Ferrari 1:35.251 1:34.723 1:34.992
11 4Time Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:35.549 1:34.985
12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:34.874 1:35.116
13 Kid Kvyat STR-Renault 1:35.395 1:35.145
14 Jules Vergne STR-Renault 1:35.815 1:35.286
15 Esteban!
Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.567 1:35.891
16 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:36.654 1:35.908
17 Williams Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1:36.663

18 Adrian F'n Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.840

19 Gandalf Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1:37.085

20 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1:37.310

21 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1:37.875

22 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1:37.913


Q1 107% Time
1:41.515

Okay, let's go over this.  Red Bull's Unlucky Ricciardo is taking a 10-spot penalty after his travails at Malaysia, so he'll be 13th.  This makes the second row of the grid Williams - Force India.  This is the greatest season ever.  Meanwhile, 4Time Vettel, Mr "I've been on pole every race for the past 17 years", couldn't even make it out of Q2.  Greatest.  Season.  Ever.

The only way it could get better would be to have either Caterham or (ugh) Marussia score their first points.  It'll happen.  It'll happen, probably Marussia.

Then again, I'd really like to see Williams or FIndia win on Sunday.  It won't happen, of course... the Mercedes boys have too big an advantage... but it'd be nice.  Here's how bad it was: during Q1 4Time turned a 1:35.549 on the soft tires, which have about a 1.5 second advantage over the hards here this race.  Shiv Hamilton in Q1 went 1:35.323.

Using the hard tires.

Make no mistake, my friends: tomorrow's race is going to one of the Mercedes drivers, barring malfunctions.  The race is going to be for third, and I SO want to see Williams on that podium.

Anybody but Red Bull, actually.

Race is at 10am Pond Central... bring the bagels and lox and make a morning of it!

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April 04, 2014

F1 Practice: Bahrain 2014

"I don't understand any of it!" - Kid Kyviat (note: real quote)

Now THAT'S how you do a night race.  Forget the city-style tracks in Singapore and Abu Dhabi (particularly the back half), there in Bahrain they drop a race track in the middle of the desert, prop up a bunch of LED flashlights on ladders, wrap everything in Christmas tree light strands and hey presto!

I jest, but I am serious about one thing: it looks awful purty.

It also races differently than it has in the past.  Ambient air temps were about 30 degrees cooler during P2 than P1, which ran at roughly the same time as last year's race.  More importantly, the track surface is also dramatically cooler, which means it takes longer for the tires to come up to grip temps.  Which meant a lot of missed braking points, even more smoked rubber, and more than a few heading off towards the King Fahd Causeway, drivers madly attempting to bring their steeds under control.

Mercedes is still the class of the field, apparently because their turbocharger is cleft in twain, with the compressor at one end of the engine and the turbine at the other.  The two bits are joined together by a shaft that runs through the "V" of the cylinders.  Through whatever magic was used, this means less turbo lag.  It also moves more weight forward in the car body, requires less cooling, is biodegradable, will walk your dog, likes to cuddle, and is an all-around good egg.

Or something like that.  Of course, Williams and Force India get the same benefits, but since they haven't had the engines as long as the team that built them, their windfall has been less.  So far.  Surprisingly, Red Bull hasn't screamed about cheating yet.

There's still time.  Quals in the morning, though the writeup may not be until late afternoon... putting some time in at the store.  See you then.

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March 31, 2014

F1 on NBCSN: Bahrain 2014

From the always wet and humid Malaysia the F1 Circus hops on some planes and flies to desert country Bahrain... where they're predicting thunderstorms during Practice 2.  What the $#&* is going on?  Here's the track map for this most unwelcome of stops.

I notice that there's less discussion about the human rights violations and the continuing uprising this year.  I suspect part of that is down to outspoken Mark Webber no longer being in the paddock.  Also there might be some sort of unspoken rule that revolutions shouldn't take three years... either they work or they don't (note: Wonderduck, Wonderduck's Pond, F1U!, The Flock, and any other term regularly used at this website does not agree with this assessment).  In today's media cycle, three weeks is a lifetime.

Normally I'd complain and moan about the circuit... it's a Tilkedrome, yadda yadda yadda... but we're learning that the new tech rules have thrown out everything we've known about the tracks.  What might have been dull and boring last year has the potential of being vaguely interesting this season.  I mean, when the cars are suffering wheelspin up through fifth gear, anything becomes possible.  Now that I've said that, oh my god, how many cars are going to finish at Monaco?  There's not enough room there to fishtail!  Back to Bahrain, the circuit will be ridiculously dirty and/or sandy all weekend, so there'll be even less grip than normal.

And then there's the real wildcard: for the first time, Bahrain will be raced under the lights!  Yep, it'll be a night race.  I give up, there's officially no way of knowing just exactly what's going to happen this weekend.  As long as everybody stays safe both on and off the track, I'll be happy with the result... and continue to hope that Formula 1 never, ever comes back.

Until that time, however, the Less-Than-Legendary Announce Team will be providing their usual good coverage to us live and in color!  Let's take a look at when:

FRIDAY
P2: 10a - 1130a live
SATURDAY
Quals: 10a - 1130a live
SUNDAY
2014 GP of Bahrain: 930a - 12noon live

A race I don't have to stay up to ridiculous hours for?  Okay, I'm game!  We'll see you then, then!

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March 29, 2014

F1 Quals: Malaysia 2014

So last night's sleep event found me awake at 345am.  Oh, hey, I thought, I can catch the end of Quals.  I dragged myself out to the living room, turned on the TV and discovered, much to my surprise, that Q1 had begun just moments before!  Did I get the time wrong?  Confused, I checked the schedule... nope!  Q3 should have been ending.  Wha hoppen?

Oh.  Well, it is Malaysia, isn't it?  A one-hour delay was the result of most of the Malacca Strait being dumped on the racetrack, and it never entirely stopped at any time during Quals.  Which means a "who knows?" result?  Let's find out, here's the provisional grid:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:57.202 1:59.041 1:59.431
2 Hannibal Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:57.654 1:59.399 1:59.486
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:57.183 1:59.445 2:00.050
4 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:58.889 2:01.356 2:00.175
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:58.913 2:00.147 2:00.541
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:59.257 2:01.532 2:01.218
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:58.883 2:00.839 2:01.712
8 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 2:00.358 2:02.094 2:02.213
9 Jules Vergne STR-Renault 2:01.689 2:02.096 2:03.078
10 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 2:00.889 2:01.810 2:04.053
11 Kid Kvyat STR-Renault 2:01.175 2:02.351
12 Esteban! Sauber-Ferrari 2:01.134 2:02.369
13 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 2:00.047 2:02.460
14 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 2:00.076 2:02.511
15 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:59.709 2:02.756
16 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 2:00.202 2:02.885
17 Williams Maldonado Lotus-Renault 2:02.074

18 Adrian F'n Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 2:02.131

19 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 2:02.702

20 Gandalf Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 2:03.595

21 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 2:04.388

22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 2:04.407


Q1 107% Time
2:05.385


Strangely enough, the grid isn't messed up.  It very much is about how you'd expect a dry Quals to end up.  Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Seb Vettel has been complaining this week about the sound of the engines, saying they sound "like sh*t."  He'd probably like the sound more if his lasted more than a few laps.  What I'm saying is that seeing him up in 2nd isn't anything to be concerned about... yet.  Reliability is more important than pace right now.

Jenson Button has got to be peeved.  At every turn McLaren screwed up his tire strategy.  "Hey, Jenson, let's send you out on Inters!"  I dunno, there are fish swimming on the front straight... "Nah, it'll be fine, trust us!"  Ohhhh-kay...  (one lap later) ... This isn't working very well.  "Okay, come in for Full Wets.  By the way, we expect the track to dry in a couple of minutes."  Sunuva.... okay, Inters again.  "We gave you an oxygen tank for when the deluge we're looking at on radar hits."  SPLOOSH.  (Button sobs uncontrollably)

Race in the morning... more rain is forecast, so who knows, maybe it'll be in the afternoon!

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March 28, 2014

2014 Malaysia Practice Writeup Not Happening

On the one hand, it's Friday night, and wonderful things happen on Friday night!  On the other hand, I didn't get home from work until 930pm.  As you can guess, I'm a little bit tired, and the prospect of watching 90 minutes of Malaysian practice doesn't particularly appeal to me.  So now that I've had dinner, and written this, I'm going to go lie down.  If I get up tonight, great.  If I don't wake up until tomorrow, I'm okay with that, too.

F1's version of tentacle porn.

Quals in the morning.  THAT, I'll watch.

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March 24, 2014

F1 on NBCSN: Malaysia 2014

So I started writing a post about the upcoming Grand Prix of Malaysia, but after a little while, it disappeared.

Nope, not gonna apologize for that joke.  There, I just provided you with more information about the missing airplane than the media did for two weeks.  I won't even do more than mention in passing the ridiculous accusation that the F1 Circus is kicking grieving families out of hotels in Malaysia.  Nope, I'll let Will Buxton, the fourth member of the Legendary Announce Team, deal with it

As far as the track goes, I've written a lot about it in the past, and haven't been able to come up with much else to talk about regarding it, so we'll leave it be.  Last year, we got the infamous "Multi 21" incident between Hannibal Vettel and Mark Webber.  Two years ago was a one-hour long red flag due to rain... what will this year bring us?  Well, it'll be hot and humid with a change of thunderstorms all weekend... in other words, exactly the same as always.

Whatever happens, the new-look Legendary Announce Team (minus The Varsha) will show us the usual good time... and here's when!

FRIDAY
Practice 2: 1a - 230a live
SATURDAY
Quals: 3a - 430a live
SUNDAY
Race: 230a - 5a live

Could be fun...will reliability still be the race-winning thing, or will speed and skill play their parts again?  And will Red Bull continue their temper-tantrum all weekend?  You cheated, you got caught, you got penalized... deal with it, Dieter.

That's all I gots... see ya on Friday!

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March 15, 2014

F1 Quals: Australia 2014

Before one can race at Australia, one must first qualify.  Sound easy?  NOT SO FAST!  Let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2014 Grand Prix of Australia:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:31.699 1:42.890 1:44.231
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:30.775 1:42.295 1:44.548
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:32.564 1:42.264 1:44.595
4 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:30.949 1:43.247 1:45.745
5 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:31.388 1:42.805 1:45.819
6 Jules Vergne STR-Renault 1:33.488 1:43.849 1:45.864
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:33.893 1:43.658 1:46.030
8 Kid Kvyat STR-Renault 1:33.777 1:44.331 1:47.368
9 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:31.228 1:44.242 1:48.079
10 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:31.601 1:43.852 1:48.147
11 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:31.396 1:44.437
12 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:32.439 1:44.494
13 Hannibal Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:31.931 1:44.668
14 Adrian F'n Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:33.673 1:45.655
15 Gandalf Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1:34.274 1:45.867
16 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:34.141 1:47.293
17 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1:34.293

18 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1:34.794

19 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:35.117

20 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1:35.157

21 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:36.993

22 Williams Maldonado Lotus-Renault No time


Q1 107% Time
1:37.129

Let's get the massive one out of the way: reigning four-time World Drivers Champion Hannibal Vettel didn't make it out of Q2, much to the delight of the rain-and-Fosters-soaked Australian fans.  Meanwhile, his Red Bull teammate, Australian Daniel Ricciardo, managed to get his car on the front row.  Eyewitnesses later said that there was blood trickling from the doors of the Red Bull mobile home, accompanied by loud screams of Germanic fury.  These claims have yet to be verified.

Yes, it rained during Quals, starting towards the end of Q1, and not really stopping.  I believe I called these new cars "twitchy".  Boy, I didn't know what I was talking about... you haven't seen twitchy until you see them in the rain.  Yeeeeeeeee-haw!

The drive of the day honors goes to rookie Kevin Magnussen, who needs a nickname badly.  His first time in Quals, his first time driving the Australian circuit, and the first time running the McLaren in the rain, and he puts it on the second row?  Spiffy job, that.

A big thumbs-up to the returning Gandalf Kobayashi, getting his Caterham into Q2... something that only happened ONCE last season.  Meanwhile, neither Lotus made it out of Q1, and Williams Maldonado didn't manage to set a time at all.  Dear lord, they're going to suck so hard this year...

So we've got a scrambled field, partially from rain, mostly from new rules.  It's gonna make the race ridiculously fun, or just terrible, one of the two.  Of course, the F1U! team will be all over it, beginning at 1230am Sunday.  Writeup sometime after that... we're not as young as we used to be, after all.  See ya then!

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March 14, 2014

F1 Practice: Australia 2014 P2

What we had in P2 was quite a bit of P1 redux, with one major difference.  This time around, we actually saw both Red Bulls on track for 30+ laps, perhaps for the first time this preseason, and they were both quick.  Not as fast as last year, but they were putting in some good times.  The same can't be said for the other Renault-powered teams, however. 

Neither Caterham or Pastor Maldonado's Lotus set a timed lap at all.  Lettuce Grosjean... well, you can see how he did.  The Toro Rossos were... meh, but that's normal for them, isn't it?  No, on the whole, Friday belonged to the Mercedes-powered cars, led by the Factory team.  Other than Hamilton's sensor issue in P1, the two Silver Arrows have pretty much owned the entire lead-up to the race.

Will that domination continue?  People were saying earlier that Mercedes could win this race by two laps... that's pretty clearly an exaggeration, but they do appear to be the odds-on favorites.  But there are bigger concerns out there right now.

For example, Charlie Whiting, the race director for Formula 1, was saying that many of the teams haven't been able to practice race starts yet.  He's also gone on record saying that the 107% Rule is essentially out the window for this race, and they're not even sure if ANYBODY will finish the race.  Eep.

This should be a fascinating race, clearly... one way or the other.  Either it's going to be high farce, or it'll be stunningly dramatic.  It'll certainly be entertaining!

Quals early Saturday morning!

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March 13, 2014

F1 Practice: Australia 2014 P1

There are two ways a Friday Practice 1 session can go.  Either you get a lot of running, with every driver out on circuit pounding out laps while teams try to shake down the car, get everything shipshape as soon as possible, or you get 11 teams apparently sitting on their hands, cars up on jacks, drivers taking naps in the back of their garage.  You would think that at the first race weekend of a new season with a whole raft of rules changes that you'd get the former type of P1 session over the latter.

Not so much.  Four drivers didn't turn a timed lap, and Lettuce Grosjean never even left the pits with engine problems.  Most of the rest turned around 25 laps, though there were quite a few who didn't reach double digits.  Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes made it about 400 meters before it stopped on track with an apparent engine failure (it turned out to be a sensor issue, so he'll be back for P2).  When cars were on track, they looked squirmy and touchy.  And rightfully so: the cars actually have torque now.  It looks like the cars are fishtailing out of every slow corner... just thinking about accelerating seems to send them sideways.

It was GLORIOUS.

P2 coming up in a bit... I'll watch most of it, maybe the whole thing, but the writeup will come Friday morning, like as not.

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March 10, 2014

F1 on NBCSN: Australia 2014!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, libbets and bunnymen, welcome to the 2014 Formula 1 season!  The past few years have been a little... shall we say "dull"?... but this season should prove to be a little bit different.  We'll get to that.  But first, we need to look at where we begin.  It isn't officially a tradition, but Australia may as well be the home of the first race of the season.  What definitely is a tradition is that I now show you the track map of this week's circuit... and here we are:

Melbourne.  Australia's cultural capital.  Home of the style of dance known as Melbourne Shuffle, the birthplace of Australian film and television, Aussie Rules Football, and the country's oldest and largest public art museum.  It's also the location of Albert Park, a public park turned into a world-class racetrack for one weekend a year.  As I've mentioned in years past, it's also the perfect place for a F1 season to begin.  Consider: it's a fast, but not too fast, circuit, with a nice mix of both quick and slow corners.  It's not particularly hard on tires, nor is it particularly difficult for the driver to cope with.  Air temperatures are usually right at the point you want them for a modern F1 car, except when it rains.  When it does rain, the storms are rarely the type that will completely derail a session (like you can get at Spa, for example).  No, the circuit at Albert Park is pretty much the best track on the calendar to start a season with.

Which is important this season, even moreso than normal.  That's because of the raft of rules changes that came down the pike for this season, the most obvious of which is the new engine.  Gone are the dentist-drill 18000rpm V8s of the past decade.  In their place we now have a 1.6 liter turbo-powered V6 hybrid engine at 15000rpm.  The hybrid part is interesting... previously we had the Kinetic Energy Recovery System, or KERS, a battery pack that gave the cars about 80hp for six seconds per lap.  KERS has now been replaced by ERS-K, a waste-heat recovery device that will provide up to 160hp for 33 seconds/lap.  Because of the way this system works, the rear brakes are now "brake by wire", instead of a direct physical linkage.  Reportedly, some teams are having problem with this technology, but we'll find out about that later this week.  On the whole, the changes seem to have been to the benefit for Williams and have hurt Red Bull... people are already declaring that Seb Vettel won't win the championship this year.  I won't go that far, but Australia could go a long way towards telling us what's going to happen this season!

Fortunately for us, the good folks at NBCSN will be doing their level best to get us up to speed and fast!  Here's their broadcast schedule:

THURSDAY

Practice 1: 830p - 10p live
FRIDAY
Practice 2: 1230a - 2a live
SATURDAY
Quals: 1a - 230a live
SUNDAY
Grand Prix of Australia: 1230a - 3a live

Here's the good news... this week is Spring Break at Duck U.  As a result, the Duck U Bookstore will be closing at 1pm on Thursday and staying closed until Monday morning.  That's right, the F1U! team will have the entire weekend free to concentrate on the race!  It's been a while since we're found a F1 season to be this intriguing, so we'll be hanging on every rev this race!

We'll see you then, right here!

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February 02, 2014

F1 News: 2014 Pre-Season #1

As my laundry goes through the whump-whump-wadump cycle (as opposed to the wooga-wooga-wooga or wherrrrrrrrrrz cycles), it seems like a good time to get everybody caught up on the stuff that came out of the first 2014 pre-season test at Jerez.

The biggest news was far and away the debut of the new V6 Turbo engines.  I had no doubt that they'd be quick... that's just what F1 is, after all.  What I was afraid of was that they would sound horrible.  The V8 era, in my mind, was nearly intolerable: that piercing scream, while undoubtedly impressive with its volume, was practically unlistenable to my ears.  The howl of the V10s sounded so much better, with a nicer lower-end to it, and don't even get me started on the sheer bliss that was the V12 era.   I figured that the new power plants would sound wimpy and tinny and yuck.  I was wrong... very wrong.  They sound great, and each manufacturer's sound is slightly different from each other. 

Which brings us to the next bit of news.  The Renault powerplant had serious problems during the test session, to the point where defending champions Red Bull turned the fewest number of laps (21) during the four days of testing.  In fact, the problems were so bad that they gave up and went home on Day 3.  Fellow Renault team Toro Rosso had 54 laps over four days and... well, here, just give this a listen.  Caterham had problems getting their Renault engine to even start.  And, of course, Lotus didn't even make it to Jerez.  In any case, this lack of running time puts Red Bull on the back foot; Mercedes ran 309 laps, for example.  That's 288 laps of data less to work with, and with brand new rules modifying just about everything on a chassis this year, data is king.

Red Bull is also having problems with overheating.  This isn't new: Adrian Newey designs are always tightly packaged, particularly towards the back.  Reports are that overheating was happening even during the short runs on cool days at Jerez, and THAT'S a bad sign indeed.  On the other hand, it's merely the first test session, not the real races.  Except Daniel Ricciardo, new Red Bull driver, isn't so sure that things will be fixed in a hurry: "Time is still on our side. Even if we go to Melbourne still a bit whatever, it's a long season."  I'm not gonna bet against them, not this year, not yet.

In other news, Ross Brawn announced his retirement from F1.  Last season's Mercedes team principal stepped down from his position after a career in the sport that began in the '70s.  He has eight constructor's championships to his name, and his teams have also had eight driver's championships as well.  There were rumors that he would be moving to McLaren, but he squashed those this week at a fishing event.

McLaren did announce that recent Lotus frontman Eric Boullier has become their Racing Director, a position that didn't really exist before this.  He'll be in charge of the team at race weekends, but report to the still-to-be-named CEO of McLaren Racing otherwise.  Clearly a reaction to the hideous 2013 the team suffered.

Finally, Michael Schumacher was reportedly being slowly brought out of his medically-induced coma.  If you remember correctly, he suffered major brain injuries in a skiing accident at the end of December.  He's been in the coma ever since, after undergoing two surgeries to relieve swelling.  Supposedly he's been able to blink in response to questions, but there's been no confirmation of that from the doctors.  Still, we can always hope. 

The Australian GP is just over a month away! 


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January 29, 2014

Rush: The Review

Keeping with the general F1 theme around these here parts this week, here's my official review of Rush, the recent movie by Ron Howard about the 1976 F1 season:

See it.

Oh, you want more?

more...

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January 24, 2014

Just A Note

Yes, I know F1 cars are debuting today.  I'm at work, I'll do it when I get home.

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January 10, 2014

I've Finally Seen "Rush"


Holy crepe, that's a good film.

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December 30, 2013

Michael Schumacher In Bad Shape

Sad and troubling news from the world of Formula 1 today as recently-retired and seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher is currently in a medically-induced coma and is "fighting for his life."

Schumacher was skiing off-trail in the French Alps with his teenage son when he went down and slammed his head into a rock.  He was taken to a local hospital where initial reports were that he had suffered a concussion.  Doctors recognized something more serious than that, as he could not respond to questions and his limbs moved involuntarily.  He was quickly sent to University Hospital in Grenoble.  Once there, his condition quickly deteriorated, and surgery was required to lower intercranial pressures.  Postoperative scans showed that he had "bilateral diffuse hemorrhagic lesions" on the brain.

He was put into a medical coma to make recovery easier, as well as being kept in a cooled state.  His medical staff has publicly said that they have no idea "what the outcome will be yet.  All we can do is wait."  His family is at his bedside, and he's being monitored closely.  The frightening thought is that brain injuries often get worse after hours or days; the case of Natasha Richardson is a chilling example.

Unsurprisingly, the F1 world and beyond is rallying to his support.  Former President Bill Clinton, with whom Schumacher has worked on The Clinton Foundation, chimed in with good wishes, as have pretty much the entire F1 grid, most if not all the teams, ex-drivers... you name it, they've probably said something.  I think the best one that I've seen has to have been the one from Sauber, for whom he raced sportscars in 1991:

Hard to argue with that.  It's no secret that Schumacher wasn't F1U!'s favorite driver, but today, we'll call him "Slappy" affectionately: Good luck, Slappy, we're all pulling you.

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November 23, 2013

F1 Quals: Brazil 2013

Rain.  Rain is the great equalizer.  Rain mushes up the playing field, makes everything harder and slower.  Rain during Qualifying can put backmarkers on pole and champions into the wall.  Rain Is Good.

It rained during Quals today.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2013 Grand Prix of Brazil:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 4Time Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:25.381 1:26.420 1:26.479
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:25.556 1:26.626 1:27.102
3 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:26.656 1:26.590 1:27.539
4 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:26.689 1:26.963 1:27.572
5 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:25.342 1:26.698 1:27.677
6 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:26.453 1:26.161 1:27.737
7 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:27.209 1:27.078 1:28.052
8 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:27.124 1:27.363 1:28.081
9 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:26.817 1:27.049 1:28.109
10 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:26.071 1:27.441 1:29.582
11 Heikki Kovalaineninnie Lotus-Renault 1:26.266 1:27.456
12 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:26.275 1:27.798
13 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:26.790 1:27.954
14 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:26.741 1:28.269
15 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:26.398 1:28.308
16 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:26.874 1:28.586
17 Fiddledeedee Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:27.367

18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:27.445

19 Charles ToothPic Caterham-Renault 1:27.843

20 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:28.320

21 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:28.366

22 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:28.950


It rained, and it still doesn't matter.  In fact, it was only in the closing stages of Q3 that Rosberg cut the gap to Vettel to under a second.  Let me repeat that: Vettel was going to take pole by over a second.  In the rain.  Guess what it's going to do on raceday?  If you said "rain," you're right.  Hopefully not as much as we had today, when Q3 had to be delayed nearly 45 minutes, but rain. 

With the race on NBC, I wounder how they'd handle a major delay?  Guess we might just find out!  See ya at 10am Pond Time for the final Grand Prix of 2013.

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November 20, 2013

F1 on NBCSN: Brazil 2013

I hate the Brazilian Grand Prix (that's a lot of grands prix!).  I always have.  I've pretty much realized that it's irrational and left it at that.  Here's the track map of Interlagos, home of the 2013 Grand Prix of Brazil:

There's no reason for my hate.  This isn't a bad circuit, actually.  Oh, I could do without the technical section in the middle, sure, but other than that it's pretty good.  Lots of elevation change... it's downhill from Turn 1 to the end of Turn 3, and then it's back uphill from Juncao to Turn 15.  Hell, this is the site of the most exciting moment in recent F1 history, the end of the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, when Lewis Hamilton won his driver's championship... and Felipe Massa had it taken away.

But I don't care.  I dislike Interlagos intensely.  Always have, always well.  The hell of it is that I'm basically alone in my dislike... it's a popular track for drivers and fans alike.  Oh well.

Here's the broadcast schedule for this weekend, with the Legendary Announce Team!
FRIDAY
Practice 2: 10a - 1130a live
SATURDAY
Quals: 10a - 1130a live (on CNBC)
SUNDAY
2013 Grand Prix of Brazil: 2p - 430p

...and then this season will be over.

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