September 17, 2017

Singapore 2017 F1U! Delayed

Due to unexpected but totally unavoidable things occurring, I'm going to have to do the F1U! on Monday.  It's going to take a while, and I don't have time to do it Sunday night and this race deserves my full attention.

Sit tight, everybody.

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September 16, 2017

F1 Quals: Singapore 2017

The Quals session for the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix was one of the most anticipated in quite some time.  Not only is it the sort of circuit that Mercedes is expected to be slower than normal around, but Red Bull had introduced a number of improvements to their car, sending them to the top of the timesheets in all three Practice sessions.  This included the fastest lap ever around the Marina Bay street circuit, set by Smiley Ricciardo.  Ferrari was expected to be in the pole hunt as well, with what is probably the most balanced car on the grid right now.  So what happened?  Here's the provisional grid:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:43.336 1:40.529 1:39.491
2 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:42.010 1:40.332 1:39.814
3 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:42.063 1:40.385 1:39.840
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:43.328 1:40.525 1:40.069
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:42.455 1:40.577 1:40.126
6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:43.137 1:41.409 1:40.810
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:42.586 1:41.277 1:41.013
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:42.086 1:41.442 1:41.179
9 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:42.222 1:41.227 1:41.398
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:42.176 1:41.826 1:42.056
11 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:42.472 1:42.107
12 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:43.594 1:42.246
13 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:42.544 1:42.338
14 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:43.626 1:42.760
15 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:43.627 1:43.883
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:43.756

17 FelipeNot Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:44.014

18 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:44.728

19 Herelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:45.059

20 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:45.570

For a while there, it looked for all the world like Embryo Verstappen was going to take his first pole position, not to mention wresting the title of "youngest pole sitter" from Seb Vettel.  But right at the end of Q3 the Ferrari driver pulled an incredible lap out of his fundament, one that came as such a surprise to him that when he was informed of his pole, he let loose with a scream that could very nearly only be heard by dogs.  The question is, how long will he get to enjoy the primacy of his position?  Verstappen is not known for his... um... restrained driving style, and there's got to be a non-trival chance that we'll see a shattered pile of red carbon fiber parked at the side of the track somewhere in the first lap.

In other news, McLaren finally shot their partnership with Honda in the face.  The team then announced that they'll have Renault power units in the back of their chassis.  "But Wonderduck," I hear you say because I've got super-hearing, it's a duck thing, "didn't Renault say they couldn't support any more teams above the three they're working with now?"  Indeed they did, my friends!  Which brings us to the next part: Toro Rosso has announced that they'll be running Honda power units next year!  This is legitimately a no-lose situation for them.  Remember, Honda was McLaren's sole major sponsor for the past three years, not only providing them with engines but giving them a LOT of money to boot... I've heard upwards of $150million, though I don't know if that's per year or over the life of their partnership.  So, undoubtedly there's a substantial financial aspect to the deal.  The other part is, while yes, the engines have not been swell, McLaren has done the really hard part: they had to deal with the "wow, our engines suck" part of development.  We're seeing signs that Honda is starting to come around, and there's some pundits that are saying that the Honda could be BETTER than Renault's lump next year.  And if it's not?  Well, Toro Rosso is hardly burning up the charts anyway, but they'll be ahead of the game financially.  As I said, no-lose.

Race in the morning, see ya then!

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September 13, 2017

F1 on TV: Singapore 2017

It's a good thing that Formula 1 cars don't tend to leak fluids very much.  Singapore takes a dim view of littering or mussing the appearance of their city-state, and really... do we need to see Lewis Hamilton getting caned?  Don't answer that.  Here's the track map for the 2017 Grand Prix of Singapore:

This track has two party tricks, of course.  First, it's a street circuit, running around and through the Marina district of Singapore.  Unlike Monaco though, it actually has some legitimate straightaways that allow a car to stretch its legs.  The circuit is also wide enough to let a couple of cars next to each other at some points.  The other party trick is that it's a night race, the site of the very first in F1 history.  There's some hassle involved with that for the teams, but it's all worthwhile when you get to see the cars under the lights.

We all know that I'm not a huge fan of Ferrari, but under Singapore's lights I'll be damned if that red doesn't just look gorgeous.

Speaking of gorgeous, the Legendary Announce Team will be on the job as usual!  Here's their broadcast schedule:
Practice 2: 730a - 9a  live on NBCSN
Quals: 8a - 930a live on CNBC
2017 Grand Prix of Singapore: 7a - 930a live on NBCSN  

All times are allegedly Pond Central.  And, of course, sometime afterwards there'll be a F1Update! of some quality level that is, as of yet, undetermined.  See ya then!

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September 02, 2017

F1 Quals: Italy 2017

It's no great secret that I usually watch F1 events via DVR some time after they occur.  While it's becoming more common as I age for me to be awake early on the weekends, much to my annoyed chagrin, I generally still don't watch until sometime after.  Hey, no commercials that way, right?  It's a good plan, and it usually works really well.  Usually.  This time... nope.

It rained today at Monza.  A lot.  It was raining before Quals began, and pretty much just as things got rolling half of the Mediterranean was dropped on the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.  It was bad enough that Lettuce Grosjean binned his Haas driving in a straight line down the front straight.  The red flag was flown and the session splashed to a halt.  By the time they decided to allow cars back on track, it was two and a half hours later and my DVR had stopped recording a good half-hour earlier.  In effect, I didn't get to see Quals at all.  Whoopsie.  Well, let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Italy:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36.009 1:34.660 1:35.554
2 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:37.344 1:36.113 1:36.702
3 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:38.304 1:37.313 1:36.841
4 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:37.653 1:37.002 1:37.032
5 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:38.775 1:37.580 1:37.719
6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:35.716 1:35.396 1:37.833
7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:38.235 1:37.031 1:37.987
8 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:37.198 1:36.223 1:38.064
9 FelipeNot Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:38.338 1:37.456 1:38.251
10 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:38.767 1:37.471 1:39.157
11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:38.511 1:37.582
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:39.242 1:38.059
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:39.134 1:38.202
14 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:39.183 1:38.245
15 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:39.788 1:38.526
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:40.489

17 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:40.646

18 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:41.732

19 Therelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:41.875

NC Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:43.355

First off, all of the team here at F1U! want to congratulate Lewis Hamilton for his record-breaking 69th Pole Position.  He's now sat on more poles than anybody in F1 history... even that naughty Australian grid girl from a few years back.  

Second off, don't read too much into the fact that he was over a second faster than anybody else in Q3.  As near as I can figure, he was the only driver who was able to make his final hot lap on a new set of rain tires.  Everybody else was on either Intermediates or worn Full Wets.

Third, both Red Bull drivers had to change engine components and are getting penalties of 20 spots (or more!).  Because of this, the Williams of Pleasant Stroll will be next to Hamilton on the front row.  Stroll thus becomes the youngest driver to ever start a F1 race on the front row.

Finally, it is possible (though very unlikely) that Lettuce Grosjean won't be allowed to participate in the race.  His qualifying time of 1:43.355 is slower than the 107% time of 1:42.416, and at least by the letter of the law he's not eligible to race.  However, the stewards can decide to let him in on past performance anyway, which I fully expect to occur.

Race in the morning, rain isn't expected that I've heard, we'll see you then!

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August 29, 2017

F1 on NBCSN: Italy 2017

It is the Temple of Speed.  It is what you'd get if NASCAR was European.  It is Monza, and it is FAST.  The quickest lap in F1 history was turned here.  If you are looking for subtlety, this is not where you come.  Here's the track map:

 And beyond "woo baby it's fast, " there's no much else I can say about it.  It's been a long, unpleasant day at work, and that has left me disgruntled.  So, instead of spewing disgruntlement all over the place, I'll remind you that the good folks of the Legendary Announce Team never have unpleasant days at work, because work is watching F1 races!  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Practice 2: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Quals: 7a - 830a live on NBCSN
2017 Grand Prix of Italy: 630a - 9a live on NBCSN

So go watch it why don'tcha?  Not like you have to work on Monday after all!  F1U! will be along afterwards as usual.  Yay.

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August 26, 2017

F1 Quals: Belgium 2017

Belgium, man... Belgium!  Sure, the skies looked clear and wonderful and lovely, but the weather here in the Ardennes forest is like a deadly snake wearing a top hat: it can turn nasty in a second, no matter how cute it looks.  So it was with one eye cocked to the skies as the F1 Circus stepped on the loud pedal and went fast at Spa-Francopants.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Belgium:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:44.184 1:42.927 1:42.553
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:44.275 1:43.987 1:42.795
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:44.773 1:43.249 1:43.094
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:44.729 1:43.700 1:43.270
5 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:44.535 1:43.940 1:43.380
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:45.114 1:44.224 1:43.863
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:45.280 1:44.988 1:44.982
8 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:45.591 1:44.894 1:45.244
9 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:45.277 1:45.006 1:45.369
10 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:45.447 1:44.685 No Time
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:45.668 1:45.090
12 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:45.728 1:45.133
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:45.535 1:45.400
14 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:45.374 1:45.439
15 Stoffewaffle McLaren Honda 1:45.441 No Time

16 Felipe Not Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:45.823

17 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:46.028

18 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:46.915

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:47.214

20   Hehrlein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:47.679

There really wasn't much doubt that one of the Mercs would be on pole, for this is the type of circuit that they live for: friggin' fast.  Remember back when Seb Vettel won all his world championships in the Red Bull?  Remember how those cars weren't the fastest in a straight line, but seemed like they could go through any turn seemingly without losing any speed whatsoever?  Well, the Merc is like the anti-Red Bull.  Not as fast as some through the turns, but enough grunt in the power unit that all sins are absolved.  Except, of course, the Mercs are no slouches in the twistybits.  In a lot of ways, Ferrari is the new Red Bull... great on the tracks that don't depend on horsepower.  Except, of course, that the Ferrari power unit is only a tic or two below Mercedes.  Y'know what?  It's kinda dumb to try and compare new to old.  Mercedes fast. Ferrari nimble.  Grr argh.

This was Lewis Hamilton's 68th career pole position, tying Slappy Schumacher for first all-time in that category.  That's kinda impressive.  Will it translate into a win?  I'm of the opinion that any car with a Merc engine has a good shot at a podium (except for the Williams boys... yeesh).  Force India historically loves this place after all!  However, if I had to put my money on someone to win, it'd have to be Hamilton.  It's just set up for him too perfectly.  Oh, did I mention that his pole lap is the fastest lap ever around Spa-Francoamerican?

Sadly, there is practically no chance for rain forecast for the race.  But, as previously mentioned, this place is notorious for weather coming out of nowhere.  Let's hope.  Race in the morning, F1U! sometime after that.  See you then!

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August 23, 2017

F1 on TV: Belgium 2017

Summer vacation's over everybody!  It's time for the idjits in the F1 Circus to pitch their tents in a new location!  And this time, we're at everybody's favorite WW2 battlefield-turned-race track, Spa-Francorchamps!  Let's take a look at that track map, hey?

It is, of course, a much shorter lap now than it was back in the day.  Almost 9.5 miles it was back in the 20s and 30s, and almost entirely run with the gas pedal stapled to the firewall.  It was also entirely public roads, a huge triangle running between the towns of Spa-Francopants, Malmedy, and Stavelot in the Ardennes forest.  There were no tire barriers, no huge run-off zones, no extra-wide meticulously tidy racing surface.  It was a driver, a car, skinny tires, and trees, houses, barbed-wire fences, cows, spectators, basically anything you can think of to run into, you could run into it at Spa-Francoamerican.  And the weather!  Oy, the weather!  One minute it could be sunny, the next rain or even snow!

Participants in the 1944 race struggle with the weather.
With the retirement of the old track, and let's face it, that was a good idea since nobody has died in a F1 car at Spa-Francophone since the new circuit opened in 1983.  It's still the longest circuit on the calendar, though now only 4.3 miles long.  A good lap would be in the mid 1:40s... what it'll be with the new aero rules and tires is entirely beyond me.  Sure will be fun to see the Circus doing Eau Rouge/Raidillon flat-out, pulling 6g's in the process.

Of course, the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their usual bang-up commentary job on your television sets.  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Practice 2: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Quals: 7a - 830a  live on CNBC
2017 Grand Prix of Belgium, man, Belgium:  630a - 9a  live on NBCSN

Of course, F1Update! will be along sometime afterwards with its usual stellar coverage.  Look forward to it, won't you?  See ya then!

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July 29, 2017

F1 Quals: Hungary 2017

A bright sunny day greeted the F1 Circus, the pleasant atmosphere belying the fact that they were in Hungary.  Still, while they were there, they may as well go racing, right?  And before you race, you have to qualify, and they did.  Here's the provisional grid:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:17.244 1:16.802 1:16.276
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:17.364 1:17.207 1:16.444
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:18.058 1:17.362 1:16.530
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:17.492 1:16.693 1:16.707
5 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:17.266 1:17.028 1:16.797
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:17.702 1:17.698 1:16.818
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:18.137 1:17.655 1:17.468
8 Indy Alonso McLaren Honda 1:18.395 1:17.919 1:17.549
9 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:18.479 1:18.000 1:17.894
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:18.948 1:18.311 1:18.912
11 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:18.699 1:18.415
12 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:18.843 1:18.495
13 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:18.702 1:18.538
14 Sergio Leone Force India Mercedes 1:19.095 1:18.639
15 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:19.085 1:18.771
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:19.095

17 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:19.102

18 Herelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:19.839

19 Paul di Resta Williams Mercedes 1:19.868

20 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:19.972

Sharp-eyed readers may notice a name is missing.  Felipe Not Retired Massa felt light-headed and dizzy during P2 on Friday.  FIA medical personnel gave him a clean bill of health today before Practice 3, but during the session the dizziness returned and Massa removed himself from the car for the rest of the weekend.  Thus it fell to Williams reserve driver Paul di Resta, who hadn't actually run the FW40 at all, just sim work, to get in the cockpit for the first time since 2013 and not suck.  He wasn't last, so mission accomplished: he didn't suck.  

Oh, and Ferrari locked out the first row, with Seb Vettel setting the fastest lap ever around the Hungaroring in the process.  Probably no surprise, this is the sort of track that suits the Ferrari quite nicely... it needs more nimbleness than grunt, and it has both.  Meanwhile, the Mercs have a longer wheelbase and the best power ensemble.  This is great for fast tracks but it's not rewarded around here.  The Red Bulls have historically been great in the turns as well, and with them locking out the third row it's clear nothing has changed.  The best example, however, of how much Hungary rewards the ability to turn and weave has to be the McLarens, both of which made Q3.  We're talking about a car that has been as much as 15mph slower down a straightaway this year, remember.  

So if nothing else, Vettel has stolen a march on Hamilton and Bottas, capturing pole on a track where it's... difficult... to pass.  I'm thinking the Ferraris will have a win tomorrow, but it won't be overly easy, and Raikkonen will end up fourth or fifth along the way.

Not that I'm predicting or anything.  Race is Sunday morning, see ya then!

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July 26, 2017

F1 on NBCSN: Hungary 2017

Hungary.  I'm not even going to try to pretend to be enthused about this race.  For years, Formula 1's annual visit to the Hungaroring has been my least favorite stop on the calendar.  I've only missed two races in the past 12 years, and both of them were Hungarians Grand Prix (weather problems).  And y'know what?  I'm totally okay with that.  Here's the trackmap:

It's been called "Monaco without the buildings."  That gives it too much credit, I'm afraid.  I gather it's a wonderful place to actually watch a race, built as it is into a natural bowl.  However, that bowl also makes it ridiculously hot and humid: no breeze, don'tchaknow?  Actually, it's a lot like Duckford in that regard, at least today.  It was 83° when I left the job, and according to one weather website or another, 95% humidity.  But I digress.

It's bumpy, even with last year's resurfacing, it's abrasive, and it's nearly impossible to pass on.  Other than that, it's a fantastic track... grmblgrmblgrmbl.

The best thing that can be said about the Hungarian Grand Prix is that after it's over, F1 will be taking a four-week summer break.

Well, that and we get another race covered by the Legendary Announce Team!  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Practice 2: 7a - 830a live on NBCSN
Quals: 7a - 830a live on NBCSN
2017 Grand Prix of Hungary: 630a - 9a live on NBCSN

All times Pond Central.  All opinions are those of The Pond, and should not be taken internally.  Check your local listings for whatever you feel like checking.

I'm going to bed now.

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July 15, 2017

F1 Quals: Britian 2017

Ah, to be in England in the summertime... to feel the warm sun shining down upon me, the gentle breezes, to enjoy England's mountains green.  To view the bluebirds over the cliffs of Dover, though it may be a long way to Tipperary. 

Or, more likely, to suffer the pissing rain and chill winds whipping in over the microclimate that made RAF Silverstone such a great location for a Wellington bomber training base.  It doesn't do much for a F1 car's traction, though, which is why it looked to be an entertaining qualifying session when the tv cameras came on.  It had begun raining about 15 minutes before the session, and had just continued on... not heavy enough to stop the proceedings, not light enough to use dry tires.  The sort of weather that could easily mix up a grid in other words!  So what was the result?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Britain:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:39.069 1:27.893 1:26.600
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:40.455 1:28.992 1:27.147
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:39.962 1:28.978 1:27.356
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:39.698 1:28.732 1:27.376
5 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:38.912 1:29.431 1:28.130
6 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:39.201 1:29.340 1:28.856
7 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:42.009 1:29.824 1:28.902
8 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:39.738 1:29.701 1:29.074
9 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:40.011 1:30.105 1:29.418
10 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:42.042 1:29.966 1:29.549
11 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:41.404 1:30.193
12 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:41.726 1:30.355
13 Indy Alonso McLaren Honda 1:37.598 1:30.600
14 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:41.114 1:31.368
15 Felipe Not Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:41.874 1:31.482
16 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:42.573

17 K-Mag Haas Ferrari 1:42.577

18 Hereline Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:42.593

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:42.633

20 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing

The rain more or less stopped during Q1 and a dry-ish line formed around the track right at the end when Indy Alonso made one final desperate dash to get out of the dead zone... and ended up being fastest of the session.  Not to worry, he has a 30-grid spot penalty for an engine change so he'll be last anyways tomorrow.  Red Bull's Smiley Ricciardo never made it out of Q1, his turbo making a sound like it had ingested a guineapig

The rest of Quals went like it usually does... the track dried out, Hamilton went full ham on the place and set the fastest ever lap around Silverstone in the process.  He's over a half-second ahead of the nearest Ferrari.

Barring weather, I'd say it's a fairly good guess that Ham'n'cheese will win tomorrow, but that's why they run the races.  Tune in to F1U! afterwards to find out what went down.

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July 12, 2017

F1 on CNBC: Great Britain 2017!

If Monaco is the heart of Formula 1, and Monza the throbbing adrenal glands, and Hungary whatever earwax is, this weekend's track is the very soul of the sport.  It was here that the F1 championship was born, most of the teams are located within a short drive from the circuit (and one literally across the street from the front gates), and it's been the home track for many of the greatest names in the sport's history.  Thus it should come as no surprise to veteran watchers of F1 or readers of The Pond that there's a very good chance indeed that next year will be the last British Grand Prix to be held at Silverstone for a while.  Here's the track map:

The British Racing Drivers' Club, the owning body of Silverstone, activated an escape clause in their current contract with Formula One Management... or Liberty Media, whatever the powers that be in F1 are now...citing ruinous fees to host the event.  They say they've lost £7million over the last two years, and expect to be another four million in the hole this year.  So suddenly we no longer have a track for the British Grand Prix.  The BRDC will, of course, immediately begin renegotiating with The Powers That Be, going for lower fees, and who can blame them?  By the end of the contract they just got out of, 2026, they would be paying £25million just to host a F1 race... never mind upkeep, improvements, so on and so forth.  

Which makes what happened today in London so interesting.  See, F1 put on a little show in the heart of the city, meaning we got the spectacle of modern and classic F1 cars prancing around Trafalgar Square.  It may not be coincidence that there's a serious push for a race in London. Gotta admit, that'd be really freakin' cool.
19 of the current drivers appeared at the event, the lone no-show being Brit Lewis Hamilton.  Gotta say, that's awfully stupid of him, but hell, it's not like I'm a fan anyway.

One thing we know for sure: the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their usual stalwart coverage... hopefully David Hobbs will have recovered from the bug that bit him.  Here's the times:
Practice 2: somewhere between hither and yon.
Quals: 7a - 830a, live on CNBC
2017 Grand Prix of Britain: 630a - 9a, live on CNBC

All times Pond Central.  Accept no substitutes!

F1U! will be along sometime thereafter... see ya then!

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July 08, 2017

F1 Quals: Austria 2017

Well folks, they can't all be gems... my Austria/Australia post proved that one definitively.  And so too went today's Qualifying session for the 2017 Grand Prix of Australia Austria.  Here's the provisional grid:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:05.760 1:04.316 1:04.251
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:05.585 1:04.772 1:04.293
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:05.064 1:04.800 1:04.424
4 mrmbrmrlb Räikkönen Ferrari 1:05.148 1:05.004 1:04.779
5 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:05.854 1:05.161 1:04.896
6 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:05.779 1:04.948 1:04.983
7 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:05.902 1:05.319 1:05.480
8 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:05.975 1:05.435 1:05.605
9 False Esteban Force India Mercedes 1:06.033 1:05.550 1:05.674
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:05.675 1:05.544 1:05.726
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:06.174 1:05.597
12 Indy Alonso McLaren Honda 1:06.158 1:05.602
13 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:06.316 1:05.741
14 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:05.990 1:05.884
15 K- Mag Haas Ferrari 1:06.143 No Time

16 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:06.345

17 Felipe Not Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:06.534

18 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:06.608

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:06.857

20 Thereline Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:07.011

So yeah, not much exciting today.  We didn't even get the usual shootout for pole, the drivers making one last desperate dash in an attempt to best the leader's time.  Lettuce Grosjean's Haas turned into an immobile piece of carbon fiber sculpture on the racing surface towards the end of the session.  That brought out the yellow flags, meaning that drivers couldn't improve their times (by rule).  And thus we did see Valterri Bottas take pole by a scant .042 seconds over Sebby Vettel.  Lewis Hamilton qualified third, but he's going to starting from the eighth spot after an unscheduled gearbox change.  Whoopsie!  However, he's taken advantage of that by doing his runs in Q2 on the harder "super-soft" tires while everyone else of consequence used the "ultra-softs".  In theory, this'll lead to him doing a long first stint and running the faster tires at the end... strategery!

Except all of that skullsweat might go right out the window.  There's a good chance of rain for tomorrow's race, and it's almost guaranteed to be raining before the race session.  Damp track?  Rain race?  I'm up for that!  Cross your wingtips, lads and lasses, and keep 'em crossed.

Race on Sunday morning, we'll be along with the F1U! sometime after that.  See ya then!

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July 05, 2017

F1 on TV: Austria 2017

Y'know, for the life of me I can't understand just why in the middle of the European leg of the F1 calendar we jump back overseas for a single race.  I mean, sure, it's a great track, the fans are wonderful, a local boy is driving for a contending team, all that's fantastic, but do we really need to race in Melbourne twice a year?  Do the teams like Fosters that much???


Austria?  Not... oh.  Well then.  That would explain the track map.

Doesn't look a darn thing like Albert Park.  What it is, though, is the fastest lap on the F1 calendar, taking around 1:07 to complete.  It's not the shortest lap, that's Monaco, but as a 2.7mile long track that's awfully fast with essentially nothing in the way of turns, it's over awful quick.  And this year, the potential is there for an sub-one-minute lap.  Probably won't happen, but with the cars being ~5seconds/lap faster over last year, it's not out of the question.

One thing that should be a thing here in Australia AUSTRIA  is that everything is trying to kill you the track surface is abrasive as a peeved drop bear sheet of 2-grit sandpaper.  We should actually get tire wear this race as a result.  Tire strategery might be a thing!

Something I learned just this morning: would you believe this is a Hermann Tilke track?  If you squint, you can see the seeds of what would become the circuits in Malaysia and Bahrain, but much simpler.  And, to be fair, the circuit was whelped from the old Osterreichring, so he wasn't the only designer involved...

All this is interesting, of course, but the important stuff is when the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their gig!  Here's the schedule:
Practice 2: got me hoppin'.
Quals: 7a - 830a live on NBCSN
2017 Grand Prix of Australia Austria:  630a - 9a live on CNBC

All times Pond Central.  The Tour de France is on NBCSN all weekend if it isn't on NBC itself, so that's why the race is on CNBC.  Yay.

See ya afterwards with the fromage and the shrimp from the barbie!

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June 24, 2017

F1 Quals: Azerbaijan 2017

Just for the record?  "Azerbaijan" does not in fact flow smoothly from the fingertips when typing.  But you're not here to hear me whine about typing "Azerbaijan", you're here to find out who went the fastest around the track in preparation for the 2017 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan, and by how much Lewis Hamilton is on pole by.  Here's the provisional grid:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:41.983 1:41.275 1:40.593
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:43.026 1:41.502 1:41.027
3 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:42.678 1:42.090 1:41.693
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:42.952 1:41.911 1:41.841
5 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:42.544 1:41.961 1:41.879
6 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:43.162 1:42.467 1:42.111
7 False Esteban Force India Mercedes 1:43.051 1:42.751 1:42.186
8 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:43.613 1:42.284 1:42.753
9 Felipe Not Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:43.165 1:42.735 1:42.798
10 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:42.857 1:42.215 1:43.414
11 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:42.927 1:43.186
12 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:43.489 1:43.347
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:44.029 1:43.796
14 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:43.930 1:44.267
15 Pascal's Wager Sauber Ferrari 1:44.317 1:44.603
16 Indy Alonso McLaren Honda 1:44.334

17 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:44.468

18 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:44.795

19 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:45.030

It was actually a little tense in Q3, at least for a little while.  It was looking like Bottas had managed the trick against his teammate, particularly when one considered that the session had been stopped for 10 minutes or so after Smiley Ricciardo stuffed his car into the walls at Turn 6.  The session was red flagged, which meant all the tire heat went away... and it's notoriously difficult for the Mercedes chassis to get them warm in the first place.  Didn't matter.  Hamilton pulled out a lap around Baku that will probably go down as one of the most impressive pole runs ever.  He ended up with nearly a half-second advantage to his teammate in second, and over a full second to Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari in third place.  Insane.  This pole also moves Hamilton to second place all-time in career poles with 66... one ahead of Ayrton Senna, and only two behind Slappy Schumacher.

In other exciting news, the two McLaren boys have engine and gearbox change penalties totaling 70 spots between them.  No, that's not a typo: seventy.  Seven-Zero.   Too many power units used, unscheduled engine change, yadda yadda.  In effect, this means nothing but it points out the current stupidity involved in the penalty system.

Also, you may have noticed there were only 19 cars listed.  Missing was Jolyon Palmer and his Renault, which suffered an engine fire (and subsequent marshal bukkaking the entire thing with extinguisher foam... seriously, it was just silly) in P3 and could not be repaired in time for Quals.  He races at the Stewards' whim tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, we'll see you after the race tomorrow!

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June 20, 2017

F1 on TV: Azerbaijan 2017

BIG NEWS!!!  They changed the name of this race!  Last year, it was the European Grand Prix!  How exciting can you get?  (sigh)  It's kind of a fascinating track, this street circuit at Baku, a mix of Monaco and drag racing track.  Here's the map:

Sector two runs through Baku Oldtown, through ridiculously narrow streets and zipping past a friggin' castle (actually a curtain wall, but who's counting?).  But see, here's the thing... as interesting as that can be, the whole rest of the track is a whole lot of nothing.  The whole of Sector three, from Turn 16 to Turn 1, is essentially one long straight.  Oh, sure, there's a little whoopsie at Turn 18, but last year the cars weren't slowing down for it.  What do you think this year's chassis, with it's higher grip levels and wider tires, are going to do?  And then there's Sector one.  It's no breaking news that I'm not fond of 90° turns since they guarantee that any sort of flow that might arise is immediately mugged, stuffed in a canvas bag, and thrown into the ocean with weights attached.  Look at the old circuits like Spa or Monza or Suzuka or Silverstone... they look like they were designed freehand, no drafting triangles or protractors allowed.  In fact, the only right-angled turns on those circuits are new additions, generally a chicane to slow the cars down before a blast to the finish line (note: Monza is exactly the opposite, a chicane to slow the cars down after the front straight).  Those places have a rhythm to them, rhythms that a good driver can meld into.  Monaco is a special case, of course, as Monaco always has been.

So Baku has a terrible reputation, even after just one race.  Last year, the teams were cautious unto death, tiptoeing their way around the place like... um... I can't think of a good metaphor.  This year, as mentioned earlier, wider tires and a wider car altogether is going to make the Oldtown section even more terrifying, probably.  That's not a good thing.  I would be interested in seeing how the place races in the wet, but as Baku averages 8mm of rainfall in the month of June, I'm not holding my breath.

Neither are the Legendary Announce Team members, probably.  Here's the broadcast schedule for the weekend:
Practice 2: 1p - 230p tape delay on NBCSN (they're showing the Royal Ascot instead)
Quals: 8a - 930a live on CNBC
2017 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan: 7a - 10a live on NBCSN

All times Pond Central, check your local listings if you don't trust me.

With any luck, there will be something interesting to write about afterwards... or maybe I'll get to rant again, who knows?  See ya then!

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June 10, 2017

F1 Quals: Canada 2017

Everything was just about perfect for the fast running of F1 cars today at Montreal: minimal wind, a bright sun bringing the track surface to temperature warm enough to melt the everpresent snow, and everywhere, constantly, the mingled smells of poutine, Tim Horton's, and Labatts.  So what did this all total up to?  Let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Canada, eh?

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:12.692 1:12.496 1:11.459
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:13.046 1:12.749 1:11.789
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:12.685 1:12.563 1:12.177
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:13.548 1:12.580 1:12.252
5 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:13.177 1:12.751 1:12.403
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:13.543 1:12.810 1:12.557
7 Felipe Not Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:13.435 1:13.012 1:12.858
8 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:13.470 1:13.262 1:13.018
9 False Esteban Force India Mercedes 1:13.520 1:13.320 1:13.135
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:13.804 1:13.406 1:13.271
11 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:13.802 1:13.690
12 Indy Alonso McLaren Honda 1:13.669 1:13.693
13 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:14.051 1:13.756
14 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:13.780 1:13.839
15 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:13.990 1:14.293
16 Stoffewaffle McLaren Honda 1:14.182

17 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:14.209

18 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:14.318

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:14.495

20 Tipsy Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:14.810

Q1 and Q2 were essentially uneventful.  Everything played out exactly as you'd expect them to, and only the discovery that Pleasant Stroll is in real life a true-blue dyed in the wool Canadian.  And he has a pet moose named Archimedes.  That plays hockey.  Defenseman.  Moose.  Whatever.  Defensemoose.

In Q3, though... we got what amounts to a declaration of war for the championship when Lewis Hamilton became the first ever to break the 1:11 barrier.  A moment later, Seb Vettel brought his Ferrari across the line, fimishing a mere +.004 seconds behind.  In-car footage showed that somewhere near the beginning of the lap, he had to jerk the steering wheel to catch a spin... it actually takes longer to read the description than it did for it to happen... and one little twitch was enough to cost him pole.  Obviously we were gonna have a fun second run... and we did.  Hamilton drove what could be called The Perfect Lap, lowering his track record even farther.  Vettel had no answer and finished just under +.400 seconds behind.  All of which suggests a dramatic race tomorrow... let's hoping!

And no marmots.

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June 07, 2017

F1 on TV: Canada 2017

If Suzuka didn't exist, there's a very good chance that the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal would be my favorite track on the F1 calendar.  Of course, in this world Suzuka does exist, but at least Montreal has poutine, right?  Why do I bother saying that?  Because this week, the Noisy Circus is in Montreal for the 2017 Grand Prix of Canada!  Here's the track map:

You want fast?  Canada can do fast; that back stretch from the Hairpin to the final chicane is as fast a run as you can find in F1.  You want slow?  That Hairpin I just mentioned is pretty darn slow, particularly as you're coming off a full-speed blast from the first chicane.  You want marmots?  Boy, does Montreal have marmots!  And every now and again, you get a four-hour rain delay!  You can't beat fun north of the border, you betcha.

And here's the schedule for the Legendary Announce Team's broadcasts!  Take a close look at the networks, we're all over the darn place this weekend!
Practice 2: 1p - 230p  live on NBCSN
Quals: 12p - 130p  live on CNBC
2017 Grand Prix of Canada: 1p - 3p  live on NBC

All times Pond Central.  Accept no substitutes!  Sometime afterwards of course there will be the usual F1Update!, so ask for it by name.

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May 28, 2017


The last "favorite driver of The Pond", Takuma Sato, won the Indy 500!

He had to get past former F1 driver Max Chilton, then keep Helio Castroneves, who was looking for his fourth Indy 500 win, behind him for a handful of laps. 

In 2012's Indy 500, Sato was in second place behind Scotland's Dario Franchitti with one lap to go.  He tried to go under Franchitti into Turn 1 and wound up in the wall instead.  He'd never been so close before or since.  Until today.

We here at F1U! aren't afraid to say we were cheering for "Super" Sato loudly in the final few laps.  We're also not afraid to say that the Indy 500 was a damnsight more interesting than Monaco was.

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May 27, 2017

F1 Quals: Monaco 2017

When you take high-tech high-speed race cars, put most of the best drivers in the world behind the wheels, and drop them into the streets of a small French fishing village, weird things can happen.  When those weird things occur during Quals, you get some very interesting prospects for the biggest race on the Formula 1 calendar indeed.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Monaco:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:13.117 1:12.231 1:12.178
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:13.090 1:12.449 1:12.221
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:13.325 1:12.901 1:12.223
4 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:13.078 1:12.697 1:12.496
5 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:13.219 1:13.011 1:12.998
6 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:13.526 1:13.397 1:13.162
7 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:13.530 1:13.430 1:13.329
8 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:13.786 1:13.203 1:13.349
9 Jenson I'm Back Button McLaren Honda 1:13.723 1:13.453 1:13.613
10 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:13.476 1:13.249 No Time
11 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:13.899 1:13.516
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:13.787 1:13.628
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:13.531 1:13.959
14 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:13.640 1:14.106
15 Felipe Not Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:13.796 1:20.529
16 False Esteban Force India Mercedes 1:14.101

17 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:14.696

18 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:14.893

19 Pascal's Wager Sauber Ferrari 1:15.159

20 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:15.276

Okay, let's deal with the elephant in the room first.  Lewis Hamilton had been complaining ever since Thursday's practice sessions that he was having trouble getting heat into his tires, particularly the rears.  This means a loss of grip, and around Monaco a loss of grip basically means your car is a mass of carbon fiber shards waiting to happen.  While he notably didn't have a wreck, he was only 10th in Q1, over a half-second behind the leader.  In Q2, he very nearly threw his Merc into the barriers at Massanet after a lurid twitch that would have left a lesser driver sitting in a chassis missing half of its suspension, much of a sidepod, and perhaps a wing or two.  After that, he went back to the pits for some adjustments and got randomly selected for a weighing by the FIA.  He didn't lose that much time there, but what was lost would never come back.  With time running out on the session, he returned to the track for a hot lap.  Through the first two sectors it looked like the team and driver had finally figured it all out.  True, it wouldn't have been the fastest time ever, but it was almost certainly going to get him into Q3.  But then, ahead of him at the Swimming Pool, the McLaren of Stoffelwaffle had kissed the armco and was on the side of the track in a bad state.  Marshals immediately threw the waved double-yellows, which meant that everybody coming upon the scene had to abandon their lap... like Lewis Hamilton.  And there was no time for another attempt.

In other interesting bits, RAIKKONEN'S ON POLE!  Amazingly, this was his first pole position since 2008, some 128 races ago.  His Ferrari teammate, Seb Vettel, is right next to him, just .004 of a second ahead of the remaining Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.  And if we needed any more evidence that Monaco is a place where weird things can occur, both McLarens with their wind-up motors made it into Q3... though neither will start in their provisional positions.  Jenson I'm Back Button will have to take a 15-spot penalty for changing out his MGU-H and his turbocharger overnight.  And Stoffelwaffle has a three-spot penalty from the last race for his accident with Felipe Not Retired Massa.  It also shows that this is a place where sheer grunt is not as important as maneuverability, because let's face it, the Honda engine in the McLaren is a dog.  The chassis, however... that's another story.

The race is in the morning on NBC... see ya then!

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May 23, 2017

Motorsports on TV: Memorial Day Sunday

The race fan's holiday!  If you're completely insane, it's possible to go from 630am until 930pm on the couch watching 1260 miles of live auto racing in three major categories.  We're only going to concentrate on two of them, however: the Grand Prix of Monaco and the Indianapolis 500.  Here's the track maps:

Two more dissimilar tracks you cannot find in motorsports.  Monaco, with its two mile long course, is actually a shorter lap than the one at Indy (2.50 miles).  It's also somewhat more narrow, and a little bit slower.  None of which detracts from the race one bit... in fact, that's exactly what makes Monaco so special: modern, high-tech, multi-million dollar F1 cars racing through the streets of a small French fishing village.  Meanwhile, over in America, you've got lower-tech open-wheel cars blasting around a superspeedway at 230mph making four turns per lap and almost never touching the brakes.  If one was that sort of person, one could suggest that the two tracks are perfect analogues for Europe and America.  Fortunately for all involved, I am not that sort of person.

This year, of course, there's a particularly interesting reason to watch the Indy 500, in that McLaren F1 driver Fernando Alonso has decided to forego Monaco to compete in The Greatest Spectacle In Racing.  He's taken to the format quite well, qualifying fifth and even holding pole for a short time.  To be sure, qualifying position means little at Indy, but it's still quite the accomplishment for a rookie, particularly one that's never driven an indycar before.  Alonso is hardly your run-of-the-mill rookie, it must be said, and veteran watchers of the series say that the Spaniard has a legitimate shot at winning.

Of the 33 cars in the Indy field, there are (or were) six former (or current) F1 drivers involved.  Alexander Rossi, last year's winner, drove for Manor in 2015.  Takuma Sato drove for Jordan, BAR-Honda and SuperAguri in a seven year career.  Alonso is considered one of the best drivers in the world.  Max Chilton drove for Marussia in 2013-2014.  Juan Pablo (The Pope) Montoya had a six year career in F1.  And Sebastian Bourdais, who will not be making the race due to a massive crash in qualifying that broke his leg and pelvis, drove for Toro Rosso in 2007 and 2008.

In any case, the NBCSN's Legendary Announce Team will be live at Monaco for the race... here's the broadcast schedules:
Practice 2: 7am - 830am  live on NBCSN
Quals: 7am - 830am  live on NBCSN
2017 Grand Prix of Monaco: 630am - 9am live on NBC
2017 Indanapolis 500: 11am - 3pm  live on ABC
2017 Coca-Cola 600: 5pm - 930pm  live on FOX

All times Pond Central.  Please note that Practice 2 is, indeed, on Thursday, not Friday.  Monaco tradition and all that.  Also note the inclusion of NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 on the schedule.  I did something like 1100 miles of the three races one year... I don't recommend it.  However, if you want to try the triple-header, you now know when the third race is.  F1 Update! will come along sometime afterwards... see ya there!

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