October 07, 2015

F1 on NBCSN: Russia 2015

Last year saw the debut of the Grand Prix of Russia, but it was a very bittersweet race to say the least.  Indeed, one got the impression that the drivers weren't all that thrilled to be there... understandable, considering what had happened in Japan a couple of weeks earlier.  That's not a knock on Sochi, the atmosphere probably would have been the same at any circuit on the calendar.  So here's the map for the second Grand Prix of All The Russias:

Guess who designed it?  That's right, it's a Tilkedrome, though it doesn't have his hallmark long straight followed by a stupid idea of a turn. Probably because he didn't have unlimited control of the venue: the circuit winds through Sochi Olympic Park, home of the 2014 Winter Olympics.  There were probably too many buildings in the way for him to do his usual design tricks.

Last year, the circuit proved to be very gentle on tires... indeed, Nico Rosberg managed to go 52 laps on one set of tires, when the whole race was 53 in total.  The surface is a year older now, so maybe it'll be a little less "sweet", but that's not the way to bet.  Look for another one-stopper, and another rather less-than-exciting race.  Hopefully we can actually see someone trying to challenge the lead.

Fortunately for our sanity, the Legendary Announce Team will be bringing us EXTENDED coverage this time around!  Let's take a look at the broadcast schedule:
Practice 2: 6am - 730am live
Practice 3: 5am - 630am live-ish?
Quals: 7am - 830am live
2015 Grand Prix of Russia: 530am - 8am live
That's right, we're getting to see Saturday's Practice 3!  That's uncommon... I think it's usually just at Austin and occasionally Montreal that we see that.  Why?  Probably just needed to fill time is my guess.  All times are Pond Central, of course.  Add an hour if you're out there on the east coast, take two hours off if you're in Oregon or California, and it's whatever time you want it to be if you're on the North Pole.

You may remember I mentioned something about an announcement at the end of the Japanese Grand Prix F1U!... there was a chance I was going to have to drop my satellite plan due to lack of fundaging, but that turned out not to be entirely the case.  So no worries, my usual desultory F1 coverage will be along on Sunday as usual.  See ya then.

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September 26, 2015

F1 Quals: Japan 2015

Well, if you're going to end a session, that's certainly an interesting way to do it!  Here's a look at the provisional grid for the 2015 Grand Prix of Japan:

Pos. Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:33.015 1:32.632 1:32.584
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:32.844 1:32.789 1:32.660
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:34.326 1:33.416 1:33.024
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:34.431 1:33.844 1:33.245
5 Felipe Not Nasr Massa Williams 1:34.744 1:33.377 1:33.337
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:34.171 1:33.361 1:33.347
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:34.399 1:34.153 1:33.497
8 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus 1:34.398 1:34.278 1:33.967
9 Sergio Perez Force India 1:35.001 1:34.174 No Time
10 Kid Kvyat Red Bull Racing 1:34.646 1:34.201 Whee!!!
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:35.328 1:34.390
12 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:34.873 1:34.453
13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:34.796 1:34.497
14 HWIOANFernando Alonso McLaren 1:35.467 1:34.785
15 Embryo Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:34.522 No Time

16 Jenson Button McLaren 1:35.664

17 Sony Ericsson Sauber 1:35.673

18 Felipe Not Massa Nasr Sauber 1:35.760

19 Will Stevens Manor 1:38.783

NC American Alexander Rossi Manor 1:47.114

No huge shock that Mercedes is back on top of the charts.  Only a very, very minor shock that it's Rosberg, not Hamilton that's on pole.  The two of them had a fantastic battle shaping up, trading fast sectors back and forth.  On their penultimate flying laps, Hamilton was slightly scruffy, making it clear that if he could clean up his lap just a little, he'd have pole.  Then, with one minute left in Q3, this happened:

Just short of Turn 10 Kid Kyval dropped a tire onto the grass, hit the wall, and then his Red Bull dug into the kittylitter.  He actually performed a full roll while airborne, then came to rest right-side up.  The driver was totally unhurt.  However, his attempt at a barrel roll (really, closer to an aileron roll) brought out the red flags with about 40 seconds left in the session.  Since that meant that there was no way for someone to exit the pits and cross the starting line in the time remaining once the session restarted, Q3 was deemed complete and Rosberg the polesitter.

Similarly, Embryo Verstappen suffered electrical failure towards the end of Q1.  While that only brought out yellow flags, that still put paid to many attempts to improve lap times, including Manor's American Rossi.  Indeed, his extant time is so slow (some 14 seconds off the pace) that he will race at the discretion of the stewards.  Normally that's a mere formality, but since Rossi is a new driver, it may not be as cut and dried as normal.  We'll find out eventually.

You may have noticed those two McLaren fans in the earlier post.  It naturally almost goes without saying that the DRS feature of those rear wings DOES function, the top wing flap opening and closing.  Oh, those wacky, F1-crazy Japanese fans...

Race coming in about 20 hours.  F1U! sometime thereafter.  See ya then!

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September 22, 2015

F1 on NBCSN: Japan 2015

Right!  From Singapore, it's a mere trifle to get to Japan... just take the daily non-stop to Nagoya, and about seven hours later, voila!  Sushi and... um... stuff... await you!  Oh, and merely my favorite F1 circuit, Suzuka, too.  Let's take a look at the track map:

Nope, no messing around here.  What on some circuits might ruin the flow, instead causes it at Suzuka.  The "S-Curves" are maybe the greatest rhythm section since Neil Peart and Geddy Lee.  You've got Spoon Curve, which has an amazing habit of eating cars and not spitting them back out.  130R is... well, it's fast is what it is, and all of that leads into the Casio Triangle (where old calculators go to die).  It's a lovely mix of fast and slow that rewards both might and nimbleness in nearly equal amounts.  And, hey, it's a Figure-Eight, too! 

Weather at the moment looks rainy for Friday's Practice sessions, but dry the rest of the way.  However, there is a typhoon in the area, so who really knows?  Hopefully it won't be too wet... we don't need that after last year.  What we DO need is the Legendary Announce Team, and they'll be bringin' us the goods followin' the followin' schedule:
Practice 2: 1159pm - 130am live
Quals: 1am - 230am live
2015 Grand Prix of Japan: 1130pm - 2am live

As is usually the case, I'll be along eventually with a F1U! for you... assuming my interwebz allow me to do so.  See ya then, then!

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September 19, 2015

F1 Quals: Singapore 2015

Well, this is new.  Here's the grid for the 2015 Grand Prix of Singapore:

Pos. Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:46.017 1:44.743 1:43.885
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:46.166 1:45.291 1:44.428
3 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:46.467 1:45.140 1:44.667
4 Kid Kvyat Red Bull Racing 1:45.340 1:44.979 1:44.745
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:45.765 1:45.650 1:45.300
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:46.201 1:45.653 1:45.415
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:46.231 1:45.887 1:45.676
8 Embryo Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:46.483 1:45.635 1:45.798
9 Felipe Not Nasr Massa Williams 1:46.879 1:45.701 1:46.077
10 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus 1:46.860 1:45.805 1:46.413
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:46.669 1:46.305
12 HWIOAKAFernando Alonso McLaren 1:46.600 1:46.328
13 Sergio Perez Force India 1:46.576 1:46.385
14 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:46.465 1:46.894
15 Jenson Button McLaren 1:46.891 1:47.019
16 Felipe Not Massa Nasr Sauber 1:46.965

17 Sony Ericsson Sauber 1:47.088

18 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:47.323

19 Will Stevens Manor 1:51.021

20 American Rossi Manor 1:51.523

It isn't that this is the first time eight races that Lewis Hamilton isn't on pole.  It isn't that this is the first time in over a year that a Mercedes isn't on pole.  It's not even that this is the first Ferrari pole in three years, and their first pole in dry conditions in five.  It is about just how soundly the Silver Arrows were trounced.  It's not like "aw shucks, they just nipped us."  This is serious "we kicked your arse" stuff. 

Why did it happen?  Reports are that it's all down to tires.  Mercedes, for whatever reason, cannot get their rear tires to work around the Marina Bay circuit.  They get too hot too quickly, then cool down too far too fast.  They're never in the right temperature zone to provide any grip and as a result, they're "slow" around this turn-happy circuit.  Understand, the Mercs are still the fastest through the speed trap... it's not like their new engines are letting them down.  They had problems in Singapore last year, too, but still ran away with the race because their opponents were weaker.  With Ferrari's improvements, there probably would have been a fight for pole regardless, but nothing like this.

In other news of note, both McLarens made it to Q2, and HWIOAKAFernando Alonso probably was ticketed for a legitimate Q3 appearance when Carlos Sainz did Bad Things to his Toro Rosso, which brought out the yellow flags, which put paid to the Spaniard's hot lap.

And finally, American Alexander Rossi was a half-second behind teammate Will Stevens in matching Manors.  This doesn't sound good, until you realize that Stevens has been driving the car all season and this is really Rossi's first chance to put some serious laps in with it.  The cockpit is also something of a tight fit for the American... as in, "we need lard and shoehorns, stat!"  Hopefully they'll have that part fixed in time for Japan.  Oh, and Rossi desperately needs to work on his speaking skills.  In an interview with the Legendary Announce Team's Will Buxton right after Q1, the American Driver was less intelligible than Kimi "Mumbles" Raikkonen.  He was talking waaaay too fast.  Maybe adrenaline was to blame.

Race tomorrow.

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September 18, 2015

F1U! Has A Favorite Driver Again!

This past Thursday, it was announced that Manor F1 has signed a new driver for five of the last seven races this season.  His name is Alexander Rossi, and he becomes the first American driver in Formula 1 since Scott Speed got in a fight with Franz Tost in 2007.

We immediately rename him to American Alexander Rossi.  He's about to turn 24 (next Friday, as a matter of fact), and has been competing in open-wheel formulae for about five years.  He's currently second in GP2, with a shot at winning it outright.

He's not totally new to F1, however.  He's been the test driver for either Caterham or Marussa since 2012, and was tabbed to take Jules Bianchi's seat after his devastating injury in Japan last year.  Of course, that fell through when Marussia only ran one car in Russia, then not again for the rest of the season.

He's actually the only American to hold a FIA Superlicense right now, too.  We'll follow his progress closely during the rest of the season, though since he's driving for Manor, we're not expecting a whole heckuvalot.   He's decided that 53 will be his official driver number in F1... why that number?

Herbie rides again!

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September 15, 2015

F1 on TV: Singapore 2015

Once upon a time, there was only one night race in F1.  It was an event, a race to look forward to, because the cars looked amazing under the lights.  Since then, two other spots on the calendar have gone to night (Bahrain and Abu Dhabi), and two have considered going to racing after the sun has set (Russia and Australia) but have been shot down.  Racing at night is no longer such an event as it used to be.  Cars still look great at Singapore, though, much better than at the other two circuits, mostly because the lighting is high-intensity and low-altitude.  Let's take a look at the track map:
Singapore is a street circuit, running through the Marina Bay district of the city/nation.  Unlike Monaco, the streets are wide; it barely feels like a street layout.  Because of the lighting, the cameras don't really see what's off-track.  I mean, we all know what the Casino at Monte Carlo looks like, or the run up the hill from Sainte Devote to Massanet, but there are few city landmarks to be seen around the Singapore circuit.  We do see the legendary Raffles Hotel, yes, but only in "B-Roll" footage, not during the race itself, or at least not usually.  When the most memorable landmark of your street circuit is where the track goes under the seating (the stretch between Turns 18 and 19), you may have an image problem.  Still, could be worse... at least we get photographs like this out of the deal:

It's always very hot and humid at Singapore, even during the night race, and the chance of rain is everpresent.  From all reports, the organizers perform cloud seeding before the race to prevent it from raining while the cars are on track.  So far, either because it's actually accomplished their goal or they've gotten lucky, we've yet to have a wet race.  What we will have is a dense haze.  Apparently farmers in Sumatra are burning the forests to clear land for crops, and the smoke has settled over Singapore like a stereotypical London fog.  Singaporian officials have declared that outdoor strenuous activities should be done as little as possible, the air quality is so poor.  I can't imagine it'll be great for the drivers or the engines.

Well, the legendary announce team will be telling us about it in their usual manner.  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Practice 2: 830a - 1000a live on NBCSN
Quals:  700a - 830a live on CNBC
2015 Grand Prix of Singapore:  630a - 900a live on NBCSN

We will, of course, see you then and after.  With luck.

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September 05, 2015

F1 Quals: Italy 2015

Rain in the morning gave hope for a wet Quals to liven things up at the fastest track on the calendar, but no such luck.   So what happened at Monza?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2015 Grand Prix of Italy:

Pos. Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:24.251 1:23.383 1:23.397
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:24.662 1:23.757 1:23.631
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:24.989 1:23.577 1:23.685
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:24.609 1:23.864 1:23.703
5 Felipe Not Nasr Massa Williams 1:25.184 1:23.983 1:23.940
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:24.979 1:24.313 1:24.127
7 Sergio Perez Force India 1:24.801 1:24.379 1:24.626
8 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus 1:25.144 1:24.448 1:25.054
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:24.937 1:24.510 1:25.317
10 Sony Ericsson Sauber 1:25.122 1:24.457 1:26.214
11 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:25.429 1:24.525
12 Felipe Not Massa Nasr Sauber 1:25.121 1:24.898
13 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:25.410 1:25.618
14 Kid Kvyat Red Bull Racing 1:25.742 1:25.796
15 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:25.633 No Time

16 Jenson Button McLaren 1:26.058

17 HWIB2BFernando Alonso McLaren 1:26.154

18 Will Stevens Marussia 1:27.731

19 Roberto Merhi Marussia 1:27.912

NC Embryo Verstappen Toro Rosso Whoopsie!

At first glance you'd say "well, nothing out of the ordinary", and you'd kind of be right.  Or you'd be very very wrong.  This is going to take a bit to explain, so get something to drink and find a comfy place in your chair...  y'all set? 

Even though the Power Unit rules are locked in stone, every team has a limited ability to change various pieces of it via a "token" system.  See, when the F1 Tech Regs were written, they stated that the power units had to be finalized, or "homologated" for the 2015 season.  After that date, they could no longer be fiddled with, no improvements or new ideas allowed.  There was one teeny tiny little problem.

The FIA never actually wrote a date in the Tech Regs.

It was assumed that the start of the season was the homologation date, but multiple bright sparks pointed out that no, no, as the rules were written, the engines had to be frozen in 2015.  Period.  So much for the alleged cost-saving measures of the new P.U., unlimited development (and unlimited cash spending!) was about to be the rule of the day.  Before chaos could break out, an agreement was reached allowing changes to be made on a 'token' system.  An entire P.U. is broken down into 66 tokens, all with varying "weights" between 1 and 3, depending on the importance of the piece.  Each engine manufacturer was given 32 tokens to play with during the 2015 season, except for Honda.  As a new engine based off of the past few years of experience, they were given nine tokens.  As planned, the three other engine makers used most of their tokens in the pre-season; Mercedes ended up with seven tokens.

While everybody else used theirs here and there, Mercedes didn't touch theirs at all... until the end of Spa.  In the past two weeks, they used all seven of their tokens to upgrade this piece or that chunk.  Their engine is now set, and they say that it is, essentially, the same as their 2016 P.U..  That's ominous, as they now get (in effect) the rest of this season to use as test sessions for next year.  Obviously, they are quite confident in how 2015 will go on track, eh? 

After Practice 1 was over, they had reason to be confident... Lewis Hamilton was 1.4 seconds faster than anybody not in a Silver Arrows.  The domination continued until P3, when Nico Rosberg had some sort of problem and the team reverted him to the Spa-spec engine.

Ferrari was not sitting around after Spa, either: they used either three or four tokens to upgrade their power plant.  So what did all this mean?

It meant that while Hamilton is on pole with is new-spec engine, the Ferrari powerplant now appears to be more powerful than the old-spec Merc engine.  Rosberg never came close to his teammate's pace, even moreso that usual.  This suggests that if it wasn't for the upgrades, Ferrari would be on pole at their home grand prix, and there would be happy rioting going on all over Italy.

Which may still happen.  What happened to Rosberg's P.U. could happen to Hamilton's, whatever it was.  In which case, there may be churchbells ringing all over Maranello tomorrow.

We'll find out then, won't we?  See ya sometime thereafter!

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September 01, 2015

F1 on NBCSN: Italy 2015

Every racing organization has their signature race/track.  In NASCAR, it's the Daytona 500.  In IndyCar, the Indianapolis 500.  Endurance racing has the 24 Hours of LeMans.  Australia's wonderful V8Supercar series has the Bathurst 1000 at the Mt Panorama circuit.  And F1 has... um... Monaco, which isn't this week's race.

It also has its spiritual home, Silverstone... which isn't this week's race either.

No, this week's race is at F1's fastest circuit, the legendary Monza.  Here's the map:

A full 230% of a lap at Monza is spent at full throttle.  Brakes are things put on other teams' cars, not your own.  Downforce is strictly optional, and you'll never see the cars look be polished so hard anywhere else... just in case that last little swipe of a rag is enough to rearrange the surface molecules of carbon fiber into something just .0001sec faster.  Drivers spend the two weeks between Spa and Monza with their head in a giant slow metal press, trying to make their skulls that much more narrow and thus more aerodynamic.  Various pieces of their bodies are surgically removed to save weight, then put back in afterwards.  Jenson Button is well-known for having his left kidney removed.  Former McLaren driver Juan Pablo Montoya routinely had liposuction before Monza.  Current Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado has his entire brain taken out before each race, not just the Grand Prix of Italy. 

As does the entire horde of Ferrari fans that attend.  From all reports, it's a 24/7 party atmosphere at the circuit, and on those occasions that a Ferrari driver stands on the top step?  Bedlam.  In other circumstances, they'd call out the riot squad of the Caribinieri, except here they'd probably be joining in the festivities.  That is to say, Ferrari is most definitely Italy's national team.  Indeed, no other team really is: nobody thinks of Mercedes as "Germany's team," or McLaren as "Team England."

All of the above pretty much means that after 10 years of writing about Monza, I'm out of ideas.  Hopefully the Legendary Announce Team still has flashes of inspiration, for they'll be bringing us their usual coverage!  Here's the broadcast times, all on NBCSN:
Practice 2: 7a - 830a live
Quals: 7a - 830a live
2015 Grand Prix of Italy: 630a - 9a live

As is always the case, I'll have a report up sometime after the race.  Thankfully it's Labor Day weekend, so... yeah.  See ya then.

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August 22, 2015

F1 Quals: Belgium 2015

Another day of blue skies and perfect weather at Spa-Francopants... something is obviously wrong with the environment if we can go two days without rain at this track.  But how did the good F1 folk do on the track?  Let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2015 Grand Prix of Belgium:

Pos. Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:48.908 1:48.024 1:47.197
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:48.923 1:47.955 1:47.655
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:49.026 1:49.044 1:48.537
4 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus 1:49.353 1:48.981 1:48.561
5 Sergio Perez Force India 1:49.006 1:48.792 1:48.599
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:49.664 1:49.042 1:48.639
7 Felipe Not Nasr Massa Williams 1:49.688 1:48.806 1:48.685
8 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:49.568 1:48.956 1:48.754
9 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:49.264 1:48.761 1:48.825
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:49.109 1:49.065 1:49.771
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:49.499 1:49.121
12 Kid Kvyat Red Bull Racing 1:49.469 1:49.228
13 Sony Ericsson Sauber 1:49.523 1:49.586
14 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:49.288 No Time

15 Embryo Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:49.831 No Time

16 Felipe Not Massa Nasr Sauber 1:49.952

17 Jenson Button McLaren 1:50.978

18 HWIFernando AlonsoA McLaren 1:51.420

19 Will Stevens Manor 1:52.948

20 Roberto Merhi Manor 1:53.099

Oh look, there's a Mercedes on pole... that's never happened before!  And Lewis Hamilton is driving?  I'm shocked I tell you, shocked.

Actually, the surprising thing is that Vettel is 9th after completely peeing a good final hot lap down his firesuit's leg at the final chicane.  The other Ferrari never made it out of Q2 after having existential car failure.  Everything else was basically as we've come to expect.

Except for one thing.  The two McLarens have accomplished something never before seen in F1... between them, they've racked up 105 places worth of grid penalties for this race!  Basically both cars have completely new power units in them, from transmission to ICE to batteries.  As McLaren/Honda has pretty much used their allotment of component changes for the season, they knew this was going to happen no matter what they did.  Then came the rule change at Hungary that said that if a car could not serve their grid penalties in one race, they just start last on the grid... previously they had to take time penalties as well.  As McLaren was probably going to be starting towards the back anyway, why not take what realistically amounts to a two-spot penalty and change their engine every race from here on out?  Give Honda more data to work with for the rest of this season-long test session?

I figure the other teams would have problems aplenty with that, but for now?  Go for 100-spot penalties each, boys!

The race is tomorrow morning; I'll do my best to get something up tomorrow night... I'm having brunch with out-of-town family.  See ya then!

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August 16, 2015

F1 on TV: Belgium 2015

So the summer break for the F1 Circus is coming to an end.  The teams are putting their tents up, rebuilding the carnival rides, letting the efalumps out of their cages, and letting the clowns out of their cages.  Meanwhile, the drivers are returning from their vacation locations...  Jenson Button, for example, was in a villa in St Tropez during the break, and when thieves introduced knockout gas into the air conditioning they got about €300K worth of stuff.  Lewis Hamilton was spotted canoodling with singer Rihanna in Barbados and New York.  Kimi Raikkonen drank heavily, which means his break was business as usual.  And Fernando Alonso wore a hat.  But if we have to end our month-long slumber, there's no better place to do it than the track we head to now.  Here's the map for the Grand Prix of Belgium, at Spa-Francopants:

It's legendary.  It's fast as hell.  It's the longest circuit on the calendar.  It's steeply uphill from Turn 2 to Turn 4, then most of the rest of the lap from Turn 7 on is spent going downhill to Turn 17.  And it usually rains.  That's about all you need to know about Spa-Francoamerican, really.  It's a lovely, lovely track, a true classic, one the Circus has been coming to for hundreds of years.  They even raced here during WWII.  It's true!  In 1941, a Panzer III defeated two AMR 35s and a SOMUSA S35 in a rain-shortened race, and the 1944 race was won by a M22 Locust and a pair of M4s over German entries of a Panther, a new-model Panzer IV, and the very late entry of a Maus despite cold and snowy conditions.

I made that up.

In any case, it's the usual race schedule for us here in the US.  Let us take a look at what the Legendary Announce Team will be bringing us and when:
Practice 2:  7a - 830a live on NBCSN
Quals:  7a - 830a live on CNBC
2015 Grand Prix of Belgium:  630a - 9a live on NBCSN

As is usual, I'll be watching everything, with a quals report sometime Saturday and a F1U! sometime on Sunday... however, I'm having brunch with six family members on race day, so I have no idea when I'll be able to watch, let alone write.  But we'll be here.  Eventually.  Look forward to it, won't you?  And if you aren't going to look forward to it, don't tell me.  Let me keep some of my illusions, 'k? 

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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...
Practice 2: 6pm - 730pm on NBCSN.  No, that's not a typo, I really do mean "PM".
Quals: 7am - 830am live on CNBC
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:
Practice 2: 800a - 930a live on NBCSN
Quals: 700a - 830a live on CNBC
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:
Practice 2: 7a - 830a live
Quals: 7a - 830a live
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:
Practice 2: 1p - 230p live on NBCSN
Quals: 12noon - 130p live on NBCSN
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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