September 17, 2016

F1 Quals: Singapore 2016

This is the point where I would normally say "a warm, humid night greeted the assembled horde of the F1 Circus as they prepared for Quals for the 2016 Grand Prix of Singapore," but this race, there's a small problem.  To whit... I haven't seen quals.  And there's every chance in the world that I'm going to miss the race as well.  The satellite feed from Pond Central's apartment complex is, apparently, on the fritz.  Signal strength is... um... variable, leaning heavily towards the "signal unavailable" end of the spectrum.  However, it's not consistent in any way: early last night I couldn't watch jack squat, but the DVR still (successfully) recorded Legacy 59 later.  So who knows?  Maybe maintenance will clear leaves off the master dish before then.  Or retrieve it from the swimming pool.  It's also possible that my receiver is dying, I guess.  Either way, my race watching is threatened, and I won't know until it happens.  So here's the provisional grid:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:45.316 1:43.020 1:42.584
2 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:44.255 1:43.933 1:43.115
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:45.167 1:43.471 1:43.288
4 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:45.036 1:44.112 1:43.328
5 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:44.964 1:44.159 1:43.540
6 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:45.499 1:44.493 1:44.197
7 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:45.291 1:44.475 1:44.469
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:46.081 1:44.737 1:44.479
9 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:45.373 1:44.653 1:44.553
10 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:45.204 1:44.703 1:44.582
11 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:46.086 1:44.740
12 Retiree Massa Williams Mercedes 1:46.056 1:44.991
13 Leave of Absence Button McLaren Honda 1:45.262 1:45.144
14 Esteban!  Haas Ferrari 1:45.465 1:45.593
15 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:45.609 1:45.723
16 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:46.427 1:47.827
17 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:46.825

18 FelipeNot Massa Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:46.860

19 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:46.960

20 Pascal's Wehrlein MRT Mercedes 1:47.667

21 False Esteban
MRT Mercedes 1:48.296

22 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:49.116


Seb Vettel had a broken anti-roll bar (sway bar here in the US), with predictable results:

Every turn reportedly saw the inside front wheel coming off the ground with the attendant loss of traction.  That 1:49.116 really was the best he could do, and the team couldn't get him repaired before Q1 ended.

The big news is the performance of the Red Bulls, both of whom will be starting on the Super-soft tires.  They were nearly as quick as the Mercedes, who will be starting the race on the Ultra-softs.  At least on paper, advantage Red Bull, as their tires will last longer.  If they can stay in touch with the silver cars, it'll be a very interesting race indeed.

Let's just hope I'll get to see it.  The F1Update! is thus in doubt... if I get the race, we're golden.  If not... well.  We'll just have to play that by ear, won't we?  See you whenever!

UPDATE: Just found out about this!  Y'know how in Canada we had the Montreal Marmot Massacre?  Apparently, Singapore has its own problems, as Embryo Verstappen discovered tonight:

Yes, really. 

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September 13, 2016

F1 on TV: Singapore 2016

Singapore.  The world's only island city-state.  The world's only nation to have independence thrust upon them unwillingly.  The only Asian nation to have had an AAA credit rating for the past decade.  The centerpiece of the Royal Navy's strategy in the Pacific right up until WWII began, home to what was at the time the largest drydock in the world (in case you're wondering, the largest now is owned by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, at Koyagi/Nagasaki.  At 900 meters long, it's three times the length of Singapore's). 

And it's the home of the 2016 Grand Prix of Singapore, too.  Here's the track map:

Being an island nation that's essentially one big city, there wasn't any room for a purpose-built FIA Class 1 circuit, so they went ahead and did a street circuit.  And, since it's halfway around the world from Europe, it was decided to make it the first night race on the calendar as well.

While there's been a couple more races added that run when the sun goes down, they start when the sun is still up.  Singapore is a helluva track that hasn't coughed up much in the way of great races, to be honest.  There's always a threat of heavy rain, but it's never occurred.  Actually, the weather in Singapore is pretty much the worst the drivers have to deal with all year: always hot, and always really, really humid.  Guys that can do whole races at Spa-Francopants and still look fresh as a daisy come get out of the cockpit in Singapore looking like they've spent the past two hours in a sauna... in a swimming pool... underwater.

Fortunately, we don't have to worry about that, for the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their usual great coverage while we sit in air-conditioned luxury (your local conditions may vary).  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 2: 830a - 10a live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 8a - 930a live on CNBC
Sunday
2016 Grand Prix of Singapore: 6a - 9a live on NBCSN

All times are Pond Central, your mileage may vary.  Of course, F1Update! will be along after the race... a race where we might actually see a team other than Mercedes on the top step.  The German team has been making noises that they aren't thrilled with their cars here.  Further, Ferrari and Red Bull both prefer these twisty tracks, where raw speed isn't quite as important as nimbleness.  We'll see about that, of course, but... well.

See ya then!

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September 03, 2016

F1 Quals: Italy 2016

Oh, hey, hi there, wow look at the time, will ya?  Almost like I lost track of the clock or something and next time I look up, whoa but it's late!  Quals was over ages ago, what were you doing, you crazy duck you!  Honestly, the answer is "nothing of consequence."  Sorry about that... not that we're missing anything, really... here's the provisional grid for the 2016 Grand Prix of Italy:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:21.854 1:21.498 1:21.135
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:22.497 1:21.809 1:21.613
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:23.077 1:22.275 1:21.972
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:23.217 1:22.568 1:22.065
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:23.264 1:22.499 1:22.388
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:23.158 1:22.638 1:22.389
7 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:23.229 1:22.857 1:22.411
8 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:23.439 1:22.922 1:22.814
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:23.259 1:22.951 1:22.836
10 Esteban! Haas Ferrari 1:23.386 1:22.856 1:23.184
11 Felipe Massa (Ret.) Williams Mercedes 1:23.489 1:22.967
12 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:23.421 1:23.092
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:23.783 1:23.273
14 Pascal's Wager MRT Mercedes 1:23.760 1:23.315
15 Jenson Button McLaren Honda 1:23.666 1:23.399
16 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:23.661 1:23.496
17 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:23.825

18 Felipe Not MassaNasr Sauber Ferrari 1:23.956

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:24.087

20 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:24.230

21 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:24.436

NC False Esteban! MRT Mercedes DNF


First, the important stuff.  Esteban! has brought Haas their first appearance in Q3, and by a goodly margin at the time to boot... he was 7th in Q2, for heaven's sake.  Of course he couldn't do anything in Q3 when it absolutely mattered, because that's when the BIG teams get serious, but it's still quite a nice sight, don'tchathink?  On the exact opposite end of the spectrum, Manor's False Esteban! had engine problems in third practice.  The team thought they had it fixed, but when he went out in Q1 to set a time, he made it all the way to the end of the front straight before it died again.  Disappointing, considering where his teammate ended up.

Now for less amusing news:  two drivers announced their retirements this week.  Felipe Massa is hanging up his helmet after the season.  He racked up 11 wins and 41 podiums for three teams in his 15-year career, the highlight (or lowlight, depending on how you look at it) was 2008, when he nearly won the Driver's Championship, only to have it snatched from him on the last turn of the last lap of the last race of the season.  The following year, he was very nearly killed when he took a damper spring to the helmet in Hungary.  He never regained his winning ways after that, but still proved to be a viable racer worthy of respect on the track.

The other driver to retire is Jenson Button.  Actually, he's only "stepping down from his race seat" for 2017 while continuing to work for McLaren.  He's not against driving again in 2018 however.  His 17-year career included 15 wins, 50 podiums and one Driver's Championship, for BrawnGP in 2009.  Interestingly, his was the last single championship we've had for quite some time... Mercedes now, Red Bull before that, then BrawnGP, McLaren, and Ferrari had one year runs, preceded by Renault.  Before them were the Red years of Ferrari and Schumacher.  I've always considered Button to be the type of driver that can get the most out of a good car and make it great, but can't outdrive a mediocre or bad car.  No shame in that, and there are very few drivers that have accomplished what he's done.  He'll retire as having participated in the second-most F1 races ever, behind only Rubens Barrichello.

Race is in the morning, see ya then!

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August 30, 2016

F1 on NBCSN: Italy 2016

Speed.  Turns and curbs to the contrary, speed is what F1 should be all about.  Go fast, turn fast, fast, faster, fastest.  But we all know and understand that F1 doesn't do raw straightline speed, not like IndyCar or NASCAR or that most quintessential of American motorsport, drag racing.  Their tracks are designed to allow their cars to go as fast as possible and devil take the hindmost.  Oh sure, both IndyCar and NASCAR throw in a couple of road circuits as a filip to those who think that turning right is important, but we all know that racing on a ginormous oval is the One True Way to speed.  The stereotypical F1 fan (aka almost all European F1 fans) sneer at ovals as too simplistic, too easy, too... American... for something as difficult as Formula 1. 

You can hear lips curling in a sneer all the way across the Atlantic.
And then there is La Pista Magica, The Magic Track.  Officially known as Autodromo Nazionale Monza, this has been the home of the Italian Grand Prix essentially forever.  And this legendary circuit is where all the sneering and talking down goes away, because Monza is about nothing more than speed.  Here's the track map:

Yes, there are a few turns thrown in.  For the most part, they are recent additions.  Why, Monza even had a high-banked oval portion to boot.  They would never admit it, but F1 fans know that Monza is an American track at its heart: raw oomph and no finesse anywhere.  One's right foot is to the floor for 80% of the lap, after all... and when it isn't on the floor, it's still pretty darn close to it.  The teams will be breaking 200mph at the end of the front straight, after coming off Parabolica (Turn 11) at about 170mph.  Oh, sure, the track in Mexico is now technically the fastest in F1, but that's all from one long straightaway.  After that, it's twisty and curvy and turny... none of that for Monza.  It's fast everywhere.  Brakes are for other circuits.

Yes, I exaggerate for effect, but it's not that far from the truth.  Teams bring the minimum amount of downforce possible to this place, because downforce slows the cars down and ain't nobody wants that. 

The only thing more ridiculous than the speeds at this Italian circuit are the Italian fans that show up... the rabid tifosi.  Loud, passionate, and not afraid to nick everything team related up to and including tires, cars, and drivers probably.  And woe betide the world if Ferrari ever wins here again... the crowd reaction can only be topped by fans of the Cubs when they win the World Series..  They're what makes Monza such fun... they start cheering before the race starts and doesn't shut up until a few days after the race is over.

It's that unique experience the Legendary Announce Team means to bring us with their usual on-air flair and panache.  No idea if The Varsha will be in Leigh Diffy's seat again, guess we won't know that until P2!  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 2: 7a - 830a live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 7a - 830a live on NBCSN
Sunday
2016 Grand Prix of Italy: 630a- 9a live on NBCSN

All times, as usual, are Pond Central Time.  Check your local listings for times in your area.  F1Update! will be along after the race... not that we're expecting anything more than another Merc domination.  But we will see, won't we?  Stay tuned!

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August 27, 2016

F1 Quals: Belgium 2016

Well, this is a fine kettle of pork.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2016 Grand Prix of Belgium:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:48.019 1:46.999 1:46.744
2 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:48.407 1:47.163 1:46.893
3 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:47.912 1:47.664 1:46.910
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:47.802 1:47.944 1:47.108
5 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:48.407 1:48.027 1:47.216
6 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:48.106 1:47.485 1:47.407
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:48.080 1:47.317 1:47.543
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:48.655 1:47.918 1:47.612
9 Jenson Button McLaren Honda 1:48.700 1:48.051 1:48.114
10 Felipe Not Nasr Massa Williams Mercedes 1:47.738 1:47.667 1:48.263
11 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:48.751 1:48.316
12 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:48.800 1:48.485
13 Esteban! Haas Ferrari 1:48.748 1:48.598
14 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:48.901 1:48.888
15 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:48.876 1:49.038
16 Pascal's Wager MRT Mercedes 1:48.554 1:49.320
17 Felipe Not Massa Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:48.949

18 Esteban Ocon, Rio Usurper MRT Mercedes 1:49.050

19 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:49.058

20 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:49.071

21 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:50.033

NC Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda DNS


Okay, so the first thing that leaps out at you is that Rio Rainbow Gate is no longer on the grid.  It was announced over the summer break that his Indonesian backers hadn't paid Manor in a while, so he was given the boot.  Esteban Ocon will forever be reviled by The Pond as a result.

Okay, no, the real first thing that leaps out at you is that Lewis Hamilton is 21st.  There's a good reason for this, and it involves one of the slicker cases of rules lawyering I've seen in a while.  Here's what's going on.  Hamilton has had a bad case of engine problems this season, to the point that he's already burned through the five sets of power unit components he's allocated, yet has half the season remaining.  That means he automatically gets a 15-spot grid penalty for each new engine he uses for the rest of the year... and the engine in his car now is well-used.  So what some bright spark at Mercedes did is sit down with the Technical Regulations and found a loophole: you get a penalty for each new engine, but the rules don't specifically prevent you from using multiple engines in a race weekend.  That's probably what the spirit of the rules were, but not the word.

"I'll take three... and throw in a pair of sunglasses for my dog." - Lewis Hamilton, probably.
So Hamilton used a new engine in P1, P2, and P3.  In doing so, he racked up 55 grid spots in penalties... and there's nothing stopping the team from dropping another engine in before the race tomorrow, giving him in effect four free engines.  And Mercedes is doing it at a circuit where they are ridiculously strong, so Hamilton is likely to score points despite starting from somewhere near the Spa-La Sauveniere Airport.  It makes Fernando Alonso's 35 spot penalty look weak... he's had engine problems all weekend.

Really, the rest of the grid looks more or less normal.  While Embryo Verstappen looks racy, he's going to be starting on the supersoft tires, while polesitter Nico Rosberg is on softs.  This is going to be a major tire race: most teams chose to load up on the supersofts, with Ferrari using half of their tire allotment on the supersofts, and only bringing one set of mediums to boot.  However, it's been flat-out hot at Spa-Francopants this weekend, high 80s / low 90s... which is practically unheard of for race weekend.  That's disastrous for the supersofts, which weren't even capable of surviving a full qualifying lap before they began to die.  If the weather tomorrow is hot, with the cars carrying a full load of fuel, I expect the supersofts to fail by Turn 1.

In other news, the Ringleader of the Legendary Announce Team, Leigh Diffey, has been absent from P2 and Quals coverage, as he reportedly has a case of diverticulitis.  While Steve Matchett and David Hobbs did a good job in his absence, particularly Matchett, it's clear they need someone to keep control of the conversation.  Which is why NBCSN has a fill-in for the race:

The Varsha.  Ladies and Gentlemen, the Original Legendary Announce Team is back together again.  I'm actually giddy.

Race in the morning.

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August 22, 2016

F1 on TV: Belgium 2016

Well.  The alarm has gone off, sun is shining through the window, coffee has been imbibed, and no matter how many ways you try to deny it, summer break is over and it's time for the F1 Circus to get back to work.  And that means yours truly has to actually attempt to be clever and witty about something he's covered for 10 years or more.  Fortunately, it's easy to write about this race, for it's the Grand Prix of Belgium, and that means we're at Spa-Francopants!  Here's the track map for this longest of F1 circuits:

It's only 7km long, a mere pittance to the original 15km brute that had a nasty habit of killing the men racing on it.  You sorta have to expect that, what with the "track" actually being public roads, and the only barriers were the occasional haybale.  And trees.  Lots and lots of trees.  Also houses.  While it's be awe-inspiring to see a 2016 F1 car on the old layout, much of the awe would come from wondering just when the driver was going to die.

The chances of that result, it must be said, increases as the quality of the weather decreases... and as Spa-Francoamerican is located in the Ardennes Forest, home of its own little microclimate.  Rain is common, often on one part of the circuit while the opposite side is bone dry.  Makes for fun tire choices, that. 

Speaking of fun, the good Walloons of the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their usual level best to bring us their swell coverage.  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 2: 7a - 830a live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 7a - 830a live on CNBC
Sunday
2016 Grand Prix of Belgium: 630a - 9a live on NBCSN

Of course, all times Pond Central.  I leave it up to the reader as a test of their mental acuity to figure out how to manipulate the times for their location.  Post no bills.  Of course, some time after the race, the Legendary Crew of F1 Update! will present their usual writeup of variable quality.  Look forward to it, why don't you?

See ya then!

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July 30, 2016

F1 Quals: Germany 2016

Probably as good weather as one could hope for, partly cloudy and just warm enough.  No rain this time!  So who took advantage of the lovely conditions?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2016 Grand Prix of Germany:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:15.485 1:14.839 1:14.363
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:15.243 1:14.748 1:14.470
3 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:15.591 1:15.545 1:14.726
4 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:15.875 1:15.124 1:14.834
5 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:15.752 1:15.242 1:15.142
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:15.927 1:15.630 1:15.315
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:16.301 1:15.623 1:15.510
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:15.952 1:15.490 1:15.530
9 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:16.169 1:15.500 1:15.537
10 FelipeNot Nasr Massa Williams Mercedes 1:16.503 1:15.699 1:15.615
11 Esteban! Haas Ferrari 1:15.987 1:15.883
12 Jenson Button McLaren Honda 1:16.172 1:15.909
13 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:16.317 1:15.989
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:16.338 1:16.041
15 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:16.328 1:16.086
16 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:16.636 1:16.665
17 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:16.716

18 Pascal's Wehrlein MRT Mercedes 1:16.717

19 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:16.876

20 Rio Olympics MRT Mercedes 1:16.977

21 FelipeNot Massa Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:17.123

22 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:17.238


Two by two, two by two.  If Williams and Force India had gotten into step... well.  Polesitter Nico Rosberg had an exciting Q3, suffering an electronics problem right at the start... and Merc only got him out with enough time to do two qualy laps back-to-back, which is NOT standard operating procedure in Q3.  Usually it's go out on low fuel, set a time, come back in for new tires and just enough fuel, then go out for another try.  Instead, Rosberg went out with enough gas for two hotlaps... and set the pole time on the first shot with the extra weight onboard.  Hamilton had a good shot at beating his teammate, but threw it away by locking a tire into the hairpin that is Turn 6.

I don't have high hopes for the Red Bulls mounting a challenge to the Mercedes boys on Sunday... they're too down on horsepower to keep up with the Silver Arrows through the first half of the circuit, and their advantage (if any) in the twistybits isn't big enough to make up the deficit.  And Ferrari... I dunno what to think of them anymore.  They showed signs of being serious competition earlier in the year, but now?  They're just there, y'know? 

In other, less important, news, it's quite possible this'll be the last time Rio Olympics is on the grid... the rumors are that his Indonesia sponsorship has gone dry.  To be fair, there probably are better people to have in that seat for Manor... ah well.  So it goes.

Race in the morning.

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July 26, 2016

F1 on NBCSN: Germany 2016

Germany, ahhh Germany.  Home of... um... German things.  I'll let you make your own jokes.  Me, I'm listening to Rammstein and Kraftwerk and Bowie and if that doesn't make your brain bleed from the awful segues, you're stronger than myself.  Also home to the Hockenheimring, this year's site of the Grand Prix of Germany.  Here's the track map:

What used to have an epic blast full-speed blast deep into a forest, then turn around and come on back, is now... well, this.  Even Tilke couldn't kill all of a good thing, I 'spose... it's not a horrible circuit, just... truncated.  Pity. 

Oof.  I just discovered that the last time F1 raced here was the weekend before I was disposed of by the Bookstore.  How nice for me.  Of course, last year there was no German Grand Prix, undoubtedly out of sympathy... or because Bernie couldn't get the organizers to cough up another couple million Euros, one of the two.

The Legendary Announce Team will be live from Spargelstraße and their usual crack coverage will be tasty tasty tasty!  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 2:  7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals:  7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Sunday
Grand Prix of Germany:  630a - 9a  live on NBCSN

All times Pond Central, so don't make the same mistake hundreds of others have made!  Set your DVR carefully.  If you don't have one, pretend!  F1U! will come along sometime afterwards, and then it will be Summer Vacation for the Circus... yay for them!

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July 23, 2016

F1 Quals: Hungary 2016

You know things are weird when the first image for your coverage of qualifying is of the Safety Car getting squirrelly in a straight line.  And then practically disappearing in the deluge that's befallen the circuit.  Yes, it was raining at the Hungaroring, but not the "well that'll be challenging" type of rain we like to see.  No, what we had was more along the lines of "grumpy old man builds a boat while his family herds pairs of animals" apocalyptic-style rainfall.  It was so bad that Q1 was postponed by first 10, then 20 minutes.  Then, just when the cars pulled out on track, the rain apparently ceased but plenty of standing water still around... well, let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2016 Grand Prix of Hungary, shall we?

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:33.302 1:22.806 1:19.965
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.210 1:24.836 1:20.108
3 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:39.968 1:23.234 1:20.280
4 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:40.424 1:22.660 1:20.557
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:35.718 1:24.082 1:20.874
6 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:36.115 1:24.734 1:21.131
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:35.165 1:23.816 1:21.211
8 Jenson Button McLaren Honda 1:37.983 1:24.456 1:21.597
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:41.471 1:23.901 1:21.823
10 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:42.758 1:24.506 1:22.182
11 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:35.906 1:24.941
12 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:36.714 1:25.301
13 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:41.411 1:25.416
14 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:36.853 1:25.435
15 Esteban!   Haas Ferrari 1:38.959 1:26.189
16 FelipeNot Massa Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:37.772 1:27.063
NC Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:43.965

NC Felipe Not Nasr Massa Williams Mercedes 1:43.999

NC Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:44.543

NC Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:46.984

NC Pascal's Wehrlein MRT Mercedes 1:47.343

NC Rio Rainbow Gate MRT Mercedes 1:50.189


So Q1 got started in a track still covered in a significant percentage of the Adriatic Sea and everybody wearing full-wet tires.  It took almost no time at all, however, for the rains to return in a manner to cause jaws to drop up and down the pit lane.  Out came the red flag to stop the session, and somehow everybody made it back to the garage without pranging themselves.  After some terrifying visuals of the Safety Car actually drifting through the turns, the rain let up enough for things to get going again. 

At which point, Sauber's Sony Ericcson buried himself in a tire barrier, resulting in a red flag stoppage.  After the car was cleared, the drivers got the go ahead to continue.  At which point, Felipe Not Nasr Massa, who had gambled on Intermediate tires, immediately stuffed his Williams into the barriers, resulting in a red flag stoppage.  After the delay getting his car off the circuit, the track was definitely ready for Inters, and away the field went again.  At which point, Rio Rainbow Gate buried himself into a tire barrier, resulting in a red flag.  This time, however, there wasn't time remaining in the session for cars to turn any more laps once the green flag was thrown, so it was decided to end Q1 there.  So, for the record: four red flags, and a Q1 session that was nearly an hour long.

Q2 and Q3 were much less "interesting".  In fact, the only excitement came at the end of Q3, when Lewis Hamilton was on a lock-down flying lap, looking for all the world like he was going to blow the doors off his already quick pole time.  A few turns ahead of him, Fernando Alonso's McLaren came a-cropper, resulting in yellow flags and Hamilton having to back off.  However, by the time Nico Rosberg came charging into the area, the yellows had been cleared.  Thus unencumbered, he just barely managed to nip Pole from Hamilton's extant time. 

As if that wasn't enough, technically both Red Bulls, both Force Indias, and Valterri Bottas were outside of the 107% rule in Q1 due to the weather conditions.  They were just unfortunate on their timings and never managed to turn a so-called "quick lap" due to all the red flags.  The strict interpretation of 107% rule would have had those five drivers starting from the back of the grid; the rule has no "inclement weather" addendum: either you're within 107% of the fastest car in Q1 or you're not, and if you're not, its up to the Stewards if you're going to race.  If they do, you start from the back.  It was decided, though, that the day's circumstances were unusual enough to allow some flexibility.

So that's that.  Race is in the morning, F1U!! is along sometime thereafter.  See ya there.

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July 19, 2016

F1 on TV: Hungary 2016

Hungary.  Why did it have to be Hungary?  He's the god-forsaken track map for the god-forsaken Hungarian Grand Prix:

I hate this place with a dull annoying apathy.  It used to be a terrible hate, one that could cause young children to weep in terror and grown men to turn their head in fear.  Now, however, my relationship with the Hungaroring has matured to something much more effective: acedia.  In the 11 years I've been covering F1, I've only missed two races.  Both took place in Hungary, and I don't care.  There's a part of me that wants to unplug the DVR on Saturday night and say "oops, oh well" on Sunday morning, but a thought occurred to me this morning whilst I was prepping myself for work, one that at least briefly blew life to the fires of my loathing for Hungary.

No doubt you remember the story I've told about the Hungaroring, how it was originally to be a street circuit through Budapest but for various reasons it wound up in a natural arena some distance outside the city.   Budapest is thought by many to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe... and a F1 race through the city itself could easily have looked like the circuit in Baku... which, racing aside, was universally praised for the amazing look of the track.  Hungary could have looked like that, and we would have been enjoying it since 1986.

Instead, we get a track that's "Monaco without the glamour."  THANKS, Hungary!  And so my hate returns to apathetic levels again.  And I am not alone... it appears that NBC, et al, are feeling the same way, even though the Legendary Announce Team love the place.  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Saturday
Quals: 7a - 830a live on CNBC
Sunday
2016 Grand Prix of Hungary: 6a - 9a live on NBCSN

No, I didn't forget something, it looks like they won't be providing televised coverage of Practice 2... and I checked.  Unless they've put it on NBC-The-Big-Network (hah!), I couldn't find it.  Ah well, no great loss.

So there you are.  Hungary!  Enjoy, won't you?  And remember, F1U! will be along sometime afterwards to provide our usual stellar post-race coverage.  Look forward to it!  I know I will!  See ya then!

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July 09, 2016

F1 Quals: Great Britain 2016

I took a nap.  During my Quals watch.  Whoops.  Here's the provisional grid:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.739 1:29.243 1:29.287
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:30.724 1:29.970 1:29.606
3 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:31.305 1:30.697 1:30.313
4 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:31.684 1:31.319 1:30.618
5 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:31.326 1:31.385 1:30.881
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:31.606 1:30.711 1:31.490
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:31.913 1:31.478 1:31.557
8 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:32.115 1:31.708 1:31.989
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:32.349 1:31.770 1:32.172
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:32.281 1:31.740 1:32.343
11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:32.336 1:31.875
12 FelipeNot Nasr Massa Williams Mercedes 1:32.146 1:32.002
13 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:32.283 1:32.050
14 Esteban! Haas Ferrari 1:32.237 1:32.241
15 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:32.553 1:32.306
16 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:32.729 1:37.060
17 Jenson Button McLaren Honda 1:32.788

18 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:32.905

19 Rio Rainbow Gate MRT Mercedes 1:33.098

20 Points Wehrlein MRT Mercedes 1:33.151

21 FelipeNot Massa Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:33.544


The sharper-eyed among you will notice that there are 21 drivers listed.  Sauber's Sony Ericcson had a massive accident in Practice 3 that wound up with his car totally ruined and the driver taken to hospital for examinations.  He races at the stewards' approval and if the FIA medical delegate allows.  He was reportedly back in the paddock area late after quals, and the team proclaimed him okay, but that's not the same as the race doc giving him the thumbs up.  Since the impact was so bad that he knocked the steering wheel off with his knee during it, I assume they're thinking concussion.

In other news, or not news as the case may be, Hamilton is back on pole.  Again.  It was close, though: he had his fastest lap disallowed for exceeding track limits, going outside the lines.  That happened to a lot of drivers today. 

All in all though?  That stretch of Quals I was awake for was pretty much "Lewis Hamilton and everybody else merely watching."  Which is what I expect the race to be tomorrow.  See ya then!

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July 06, 2016

F1 on TV: Great Britain 2016

They call it the Home of Formula 1.  It was the site of the first ever race for the F1 championship.  It was once a RAF bomber training airfield.  And today, it is called Silverstone, the location of the 2016 Grand Prix of Great Britain.  Here's the track map:

Silverstone used to be my favorite circuit.  Here's what it looked like back in 2008:


I am of a mind to say that the new Sector 1, and moving the pit straight from after Woodcote to after Club, did a fine job of mucking the place up.  Perhaps it's a case of "back in the day", but I don't think so.  But then, I wouldn't, would I?

My favorite sequence (Maggots-Becketts-Chapel) is still around, and the lunatic British fans still show up (and disappear into the mud when it's wet), I reckon it's naught but good manners that I do too.  And if you choose to do the same, the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their usual yeoman's work LIVE from... um... Stamford, CT.  Where they do almost all of their races from.  That's a step up in the world, though... they used to do it from Charlotte, NC, folding tables and all.   Here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 2:  2p - 330p tape delay on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals:  7a - 830a live on NBCSN
Sunday
Grand Prix of Great Britain:  630a -10a live on CNBC

All times Pond Central.  Use at your own risk.  May cause itching.

I know, I know, there's very little preview in this thing anymore.  Yep, you're right.  Know why? 

See ya after Quals!

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July 02, 2016

F1 Quals: Austria 2016

It is uncommon these days for my life to be so busy that I actually forget things like lunch dates or important to-do's.  Yet that is exactly what happened today here at Pond Central.  In fact, it wasn't until I was tucking into my plate of sausage-stuffed giant rigatoni at Olive Garden that I realized: I had completely forgotten about today's Quals!  Reacting immediately, I mentioned to my folks "huh, I forgot about quals," and had myself another spoonful of zuppa toscana and a breadstick.  I eventually made my way home, sat down to watch quals and promptly dozed off in my chair.  Once I woke up a few minutes later, I got myself to the computer desk to write this and found myself getting constantly distracted by things like this, or like this, or particularly like this.  To the point that it's now a very long time indeed since Quals, or even since I came home from lunch.  What I'm trying to say is that here's the provisional grid for the 2016 Grand Prix of Austria:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:06.947 1:06.228 1:07.922
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:06.516 1:06.403 1:08.465
3 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:07.385 1:07.257 1:09.285
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:06.761 1:06.602 1:09.781
5 Jenson Button McLaren Honda 1:07.653 1:07.572 1:09.900
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:07.240 1:06.940 1:09.901
7 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:07.500 1:06.840 1:09.980
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:07.148 1:06.911 1:10.440
9 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:07.131 1:06.866 1:11.153
10 Felipe Not Nasr Massa Williams Mercedes 1:07.419 1:07.145 1:11.977
11 Esteban Haas Ferrari 1:07.660 1:07.578
12 Pascal's Wager MRT Mercedes 1:07.565 1:07.700
13 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:07.662 1:07.850
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:07.671 1:08.154
15 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:07.618 No Time

16 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:07.657 No Time

17 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:07.941

18 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:07.965

19 Rio Rainbow Gate MRT Mercedes 1:08.026

20 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:08.409

21 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:08.418

22 Felipe Not Massa Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:08.446


Well, okay you say, big deal, just another Merc 1 - 2, hey?   Well not so fast there, Binkey!  Both Nico Rosberg and Seb Vettel had to change gearboxes meaning they take five-grid-spot penalties... which ALSO means that Force India's Nico Hulkenberg will be starting second, and Jenson Button's McLaren will be third! 

As the late great Mel Allen used to say, "How about that?"  (oops, got distracted again)

Down towards the bottom, we find Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez and Kid Kvyat, all three of whom snapped their suspensions like dry twigs running over the... shall we say "aggressive"?... curbs at the Red Bull Ring.  There's been a lot of that this weekend... Rosberg's gearbox change is a result of his left-rear suspension breaking, and I know it happened to a few drivers in Practice 1 as well.

That's Rosberg's suspension at the point of failure.  Pretty clean snappage right there... and that's the thing about carbon fiber: it's remarkably strong right up to the moment it isn't anymore, at which point it breaks like a dry saltine.  Metal may be heavier, but it usually bends before it breaks... which is probably why suspensions were the last thing to change to carbon fiber in a F1 car design.

Well, it should be a race tomorrow.  There's even a chance of rain, which'll throw the ducks amongst the rye bread, that's for sure.  See you then, maybe!

If I remember.

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June 28, 2016

F1 on TV: Austria 2016

Ah, Austria.  Home of Mozart, Gustav Klimt, Fritz Lang, World War I, the Venus of Willendorf, Peter Lorre, and Siggy Freud.  Erwin Schrodinger may or may not have lived in Austria.  Wiener schnitzel is eaten in Austria, and Red Bull is an Austrian drink.  Which is appropriate, I suppose, as Austria is also home of the Red Bull Ring, home of the Grand Prix of Austria.  Here's the track map for your enjoyment:

The past two races at this little circuit in the Austrian hills have proven to be... um... less than awe-inspiring.  Or much of anything, really.  The circuit has proven to be that rare creature: a fast circuit that ends up boring.  Still, it's what the F1 circus has to work with this week, and race they shall do.  Allegedly.

Well, the good burghers of the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their level best to keep me from falling asleep during their broadcasts, the times for which are below!
Friday
Practice 2: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals:  7a - 830a  live on CNBC
Sunday
2016 Grand Prix of Austria:  630a - 930a  live on CNBC

All times Pond Central.  Your mileage may vary.  Smoke 'em if you got 'em.  N-e-s-t-l-e-s makes the very best... chaaaaawklate (clack!).   And then there will be a F1Update!, and all will be right with the world.  Because I'm an optimist.

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June 18, 2016

F1 Quals: Europe 2016

An intense interest in the new circuit at Baku gave today's Quals event a beautiful edge.  Good weather and much running over the past few days meant that the track surface was the best it had been.  The problem discovered with curbs cutting the left-rear tires seemed to have been fixed, and there was eagerness from the drivers to get on circuit.  No surprise that Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes had been the fastest all weekend, but would he gather the first pole ever on the new track?  Well, here's the provisional grid for the 2016 Grand Prix of Europe @ Baku:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:43.685 1:42.520 1:42.758
2 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:44.462 1:43.939 1:43.515
3 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:44.570 1:44.141 1:43.966
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:45.062 1:44.461 1:43.966
5 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:44.936 1:44.533 1:44.269
6 Felipe Not Nasr Massa Williams Mercedes 1:45.494 1:44.696 1:44.483
7 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:44.694 1:44.687 1:44.717
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:44.706 1:44.477 1:45.246
9 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:44.939 1:44.387 1:45.570
10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:44.259 1:43.526 2:01.954
11 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:45.507 1:44.755
12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:44.860 1:44.824
13 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:44.827 1:45.000
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:45.525 1:45.270
15 Esteban!  Haas Ferrari 1:45.300 1:45.349
16 Felipe Not Massa Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:45.549 1:46.048
17 Rio Rainbow Gate MRT Mercedes 1:45.665

18 Pascal Wagers MRT Mercedes 1:45.750

19 Jenson Button McLaren Honda 1:45.804

20 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:46.231

21 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:46.348

22 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:46.394


Hamilton didn't seem 100% contented with his Merc in Q1 or Q2... he was still quick, but not his usual "run away and hide" fast.  But then he just doinked the wall in Turn 10 just past the Castle, and his suspension was broken.  He never had a chance to set his flying lap so he'll be starting 10th tomorrow.

Something of a surprise came in the form of Sergio Perez's Force India.  His 2nd place is 100% valid, no fluke involved anywhere.  Unfortunately, he won't actually be starting next to Nico Rosberg on Sunday... he had a crash in Q3 that required, among other things, a new gearbox, which ccomes with a five-grid-spot penalty. 

Beyond those, however, the grid is pretty standard.  Oh sure, Rio Rainbow Gate barely missed Q2, that's weird, but... well.

Now, let's get to what we all want to know: what does Wonderduck think of the Baku Circut?  To be blunt, this track terrifies me and here's why: it's an unholy union of the tracks at Monaco and Indianapolis.  What little run-off area exists is tiny and the speeds ridiculously high.  Until you get to the "Old Baku" part of the track, at which point it's slower, but also narrow as hell.  Except when it isn't slow, but still narrow, downhill and off-camber.  Valtteri Bottas hit 227mph down the long, long straight this morning, and my heart was in my mouth every time someone came piling down towards the first turn.  What pictures fail to convey is just how bumpy this place is.  Remember, they're just city streets, and while they may have gotten a lick of fresh asphalt for the race, they ain't smooth.  The suspensions are working like I've never seen them before, constantly moving up and down with a range of movement measured in inches instead of millimeters.  Jenson Button says that the track is unnecessarily dangerous, and I have a hard time disagreeing with him.  In some ways, the FIA should be commended for creating such a dramatic, exciting layout... but they seem to have done so by skimping on safety.  Look, there's only been one race on Baku: the GP2 feature race was run before Quals today.  They had four safety cars in fewer than 26 laps.  To be fair, the GP2 gang tends to be more... exuberant... than F1 drivers, but that's excessive even for them.

Whatever happens, it'll be exactly what F1 should be: a spectacle unmatched by any in motorsports.  See you afterwards!

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June 14, 2016

F1 on NBCSN: Europe 2016

A week after Canada, the F1 Circus packs up and takes the 16 hour trip to that great hotbed of racing lore and history, Azerbaijan, for the return of the Grand Prix of Europe.  Let's take a look at the new Baku City Circuit track map, shall we?

The first reaction I had when I saw this layout was wow, that's a long front straight,  using "straight" the same way I would at Monaco.  As it turns out, it's even longer than I thought: somewhere around 2.2km.  The whole thing will be just over 6km in length.  "Yeah, but it's still a modern street circuit," you say, "it's going to be miserable."  To be sure, Valencia blew chunks; it was a street circuit in that it ran on city streets, sure, but other than that it was exactly like running on a purpose-built layout.  Singapore is much the same way.  Rest assured, this one isn't going to be like that.  Hermann Tilke, designer, actually paid attention to the architecture of Baku and worked it into the track layout.  Here, here's the first video of a cautious run on the track:

Prepare yourself for the ridiculousness of F1 cars racing at high speed uphill through Turns 8-12 next to a freakin' castle.

Oh, and you know that narrow portion of the circuit, the straight between Turns 6-7 and Turns 19-20?  Yep, you guessed it: it's the same street, just with a honkin' great divider between the sides.  The sheer spectacle of this circuit will almost be enough to make up for any deficiencies in racing.  Almost.

And that's the problem with new circuits. We just don't know what's going to work or not work, and neither do the teams, nor the tire manufacturer.  Pirelli is bringing the Medium, Soft and Supersoft compounds to the race, but we may find that the Medium is overkill... or that the Supersoft won't last a lap.  Or that it's so fast that fuel might be a problem, or brakes will explode or... we just don't know.  Which means we might have a great race... or a disastrous one.  Time will tell.

Well, time and the Legendary Announce Team!   They'll do their usual level best to bring us all the action, news, and weirdness we've become used to.  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 2: 8a - 930a  live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 8a - 930a  live on NBCSN
Sunday
Grand Prix of Europe:  7a - 10a live on NBCSN

All times are Pond Central; your mileage may vary.  Of course, F1Update! will cast a gimlet eye upon all proceedings, with a writeup after the race!  See ya then!

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June 12, 2016

F1 MOVED TO NBCSN

Late schedule change, folks.  Due to the awful shootings in Orlando last night, NBC has moved coverage of the race back to NBCSN.  Hope you caught this before the race starts!

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June 11, 2016

F1 Quals: Canada 2016

Icky gray skies hung low over the city of Montreal, and rain seemed to hang just over the racing surface.  But would it ever reach the ground, and what havoc would it cause on Qualifying for the 2016 Grand Prix of Canada?  Here's the provisional grid:

Pos
Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:14.121 1:13.076 1:12.812
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:13.714 1:13.094 1:12.874
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:13.925 1:13.857 1:12.990
4 Frowny Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:14.030 1:13.540 1:13.166
5 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:14.601 1:13.793 1:13.414
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:14.477 1:13.849 1:13.579
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:14.389 1:13.791 1:13.670
8 Felipe Not Nasr Massa Williams Mercedes 1:14.815 1:13.864 1:13.769
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:14.663 1:14.166 1:13.952
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:15.026 1:14.260 1:14.338
11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:14.814 1:14.317
12 Jenson Button McLaren Honda 1:14.755 1:14.437
13 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:14.829 1:14.457
14 Esteban! Haas Ferrari 1:15.148 1:14.571
15 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:15.444 1:14.803
16 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:14.714 1:21.956
17 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:15.459

18 Pascal Wager MRT Mercedes 1:15.599

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:15.635

20 Felipe Not Massa Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:16.663

21 Rio Rainbow Gate MRT Mercedes 1:17.052


It never did rain... at least, not in any way that bothered the cars at all.

Sharp-eyed readers will have noted that there are only 21 cars listed.  That's because Kevin Magnussen had a wreck during P3 that actually damaged his Renault's survival cell.  While he was fine, that damage means building up a new car, and while F1 mechanics can do amazing things in a short amount of time, they can't do a whole car from scratch in a couple of hours.  Thus, he sat out Quals and races at the whims of the stewards.

In slightly more important information, while this was the closest Quals result so far this season, it still ended up the way it usually does: Mercedes 1-2, Hamilton over Rosberg.  There was never any doubt in my mind that's how it was going to turn out, and lo it did come to pass.  Not, I admit, that this required any great prognosticational skills on my part.

Possibly the best part of Quals was seeing McLaren get into Q3 via Alonso's efforts... his  "woohoo" on the radio when he was told just made me laugh and laugh.  It's the little things, y'know?

Race is Sunday afternoon on NBC... fire up the Philco, sit down with a can of Schlitz, and watch yourself some o' that European-style racing!

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June 07, 2016

F1 on TV: Canada 2016

Montreal, as I've been told by people who would know these things, is an amazing city.  Of this, I have no doubt.  Along with being the home to the world's largest Jazz festival, numerous escape games, Cirque de Soleil, this is also the place that brought us Youppi!

For that, Montreal will always have a place in my heart.  But Montreal is also considered the most European city in North America, which explains perfectly why Formula 1 drops in this weekend, during the first half of the European leg of the schedule!  Really, it doesn't, but let's just go with it, shall we?  It made more sense when they'd race in Canada, then the next weekend hit Indy for the USGP, but the schedule is what they make of it.  Let's take a look at the track map, shall we?

No changes, really.  Still the same old "go really really fast-stop-go really really fast-stop-go really really fast" layout that's forced by the terrain... remember, the track is on a man-made island in the middle of the St Lawrence River, and it pretty much runs along the edge of the island.  It should still be a brakes killer, too... this is still the only circuit I've ever seen a car's brake discs explode during a race... so that's something to look out for.  In a lot of ways, this is about as "Formula 1y" a track as you'll find.  It's just a grand layout without being too overwrought.  Throw in the lack of run-off area except at certain points (the Horseshoe, mostly), and if you screw up, it's game over, and it becomes a real test of ability.  There's almost always at least one safety car here as a result, sometimes more.

The Legendary Announce Team will be doing it's usual yeoman work this weekend... here's the schedule:
Friday
Practice 2:  1p -230p live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals:  12n - 130p live on NBCSN
Sunday
Grand Prix of Canada:  12n - 330pm  live on NBC

Yep, that's right, once again on NBC... and it's at a decent time, too!  Please note that the race begins at 1pm Pond Central time, but the pre-race coverage is at noon... I just threw it in there for completist's sake.

As is usual, F1Update! will be doing their leaden best to get the writeup done before the day ends.  Stick around, won't you?   See ya then!

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May 24, 2016

F1 on TV: Monaco 2016

I've been in a horrible mood all day.  My apartment's been really hot recently (because it's been hot outside, duh), and doesn't cool off much at night, so sleep was both hard to come by and brief when experienced.  Then I kept trying to doze off at work, which is never a fun experience.  So I'm a grumpy ball of grump right now.

However, this weekend is the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix, and rain is predicted for the race, so that puts a different spin on things!  Here's the map for this legendary track:

Looks a little twisty, but nothing too bad, right?  Well, um... this is MONACO.  We're not talking about Barcalounger with its roomy runoff space, or Singapore with its wide, modern, streets.  No, we're talking about running high-tech racing machines at 180mph through what is, at its heart, a small French fishing village... to the point where the harbor is a major feature of the circuit.

In terms of actual racing, Monaco is usually pretty poor.  The narrow, twisty, decidedly unstraight lap doesn't much lend itself to such things as passing.  Further, the knowledge that a single tiny mistake of any sort will tend to send a car rapidly ping-ponging from barrier to barrier tends to make even the stoutest of drivers break into fits of eye twitching and nervous laughter. 

So the presence of a good chance of rain on raceday makes Wonderduck a giddy, giddy, waterfowl.  The fine folks of the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their usual level best for us, maybe even FROM Monaco itself (they've done that the past couple of years).  Here's the coverage:
Thursday
Practice 2: 7a - 9a live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 7a - 9a live on NBCSN
Sunday
2016 Grand Prix of Monaco: 6a - 9a live on NBC

Nope, no typo there: Practice is on Thursday, not Friday, and the race itself is on NBC-the-mother-network, not any of the junior channels.  This way any of my readers with a TV can watch it!  Then you can make fun of the F1Update! later when it comes out.  As is usual, all times are approximately Pond Central time... check your local listings.  Post no bills.  Past performance is not indicative of future results.   Do not taunt happyfunball. 

And see ya there!

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