September 22, 2018

Figure Foto Fun Four: All Right Mr DeMille, I'm Ready For My Close-Up

A little while ago I picked up a set of extension tubes for my camera lens... basically they turn it into a macro lens for closeups.  I mean, it's not like it was terrible at them before, but now it's a whole different portrait level.  For example:


The lighting on this one is... pretty okay.  But I got better.

Just a tiny bit of color editing, and voila, Haruhi's happy.

One of these days I'll take a good picture of this figure and I'll be so surprised I'd probably drop dead.  Something about it defies good photography, and by "good", I really mean "whatever I'm able to produce."

Still, once in a while I get lucky.

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September 18, 2018

Hey Everybody It's Music Time!

Nope, nothing deep today!  Just a couple of AMVs I've stumbled across in the past few weeks that I want to share with y'all.  C'mon, it's fun!


Pillow Warfare
Because who doesn't like a good pillow fight scene in an anime?

Lucky Ben-To!
There just aren't enough good Ben-To! AMVs out there.  Then again, it's not like it was the most popular series ever to air in Japan... or over here, for that matter.  I loved it, but it's not like I have a surfeit of taste, y'know?

Saturday Anime Night
So I watched this for the first time, and as it was playing I kept thinking to myself, "gee, I wish they had used a different version of the song, one that doesn't sound so... sparse."  A minute or two later?  Heh.  Keep watching.

She Loves That Rock And Roll
Some time ago (jeez, it's been FIVE YEARS), I put up a post that included an AMV called "We Dream We Can".  I've always thought of that as being the best K-On! music video I've seen.  A challenger appears!  Bonus points for using ELO.

One day, I'll have to do a post, one amv for each series I've done a writeup for.  Because it would amuse me, that's why.

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September 17, 2018

F1 Update: Singapore 2018

It was night, it was hot and humid, and it even rained a little bit.  But how did the race turn out?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2018 Grand Prix of Singapore!


*OH GOD MAKE IT STOP:  Look, we'll be honest here.  We here at F1U!, we're Formula 1 fans.  We love watching the races, it's a good way to spend two hours when all around is work.  We look forward to these things.

But good lord, did this race suck.  How badly?  The first six positions on the grid were Hamilton, Verstappen, Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen, and Ricciardo.  When the race ended roughly two hours after the lights went out, the finishing order was Hamilton, Verstappen, Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen, and Ricciardo.  Yes that's right, they finished in the same order they started.  The only time these six were NOT in that order on track was during the pit rotation.

Indeed, if it wasn't for backmarker traffic, there wouldn't have been ANY excitement up at the front after the first few laps.  Late in the race, Verstappen was trailing Hamilton when the leader got caught up in some squabbling backmarkers that didn't immediately react to the blue flags.  This balked the Mercedes driver, allowing Verstappen to close right up behind and even give a vague little thought towards trying a pass for the lead.  But then the leaders got by, and the moment was over.

*WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN US?:  This was all down to the track itself.  Much like Monaco, there are very, very few places to attempt a pass at Singapore.  It's very unlikely it'll ever get better, since as a street circuit, there's a limit to how much they can modify the track.  As a spectacle, Singapore is top of the page.  The cars look amazing under the nearly 2000 light projectors used to illuminate the circuit, the surrounding cityscape is awesome at night, and the Singapore Flyer is a remarkable landmark for the cameras to linger over.  But damn-all if the racing is mostly subpar.   We here at F1U! would still rather watch a race here than Hungary, but our mind is beginning to change on that.

*SO WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?:  Hamilton's win, mixed with Vettel's third, means that with six races remaining the Ferrari driver could win every race, and if the Brit finishes second, he'd still win by a point or two.  The championship isn't over... a few reliability problems or random Red Bull-induced crashes could change things overnight... but Vettel is running out of time very very quickly.  We here at F1U! haven't looked recently, because we do not partake in gambling, but we'd be surprised if the British oddsmakers haven't taken the championship off the board yet.

The next race is at Sochi, Russia.  We tremble with fear at another miserable race at that less-than-exciting circuit.  See you then!

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September 15, 2018

F1 Quals: Singapore 2018

As usual, the night was warm and humid at the Singapore street circuit.  Despite it being 9pm, it was still in the mid-80s with high humidity.  Not for nothing do they say that this is the hardest race physically for the drivers.  So who faced down this sweaty monster?  Who conquered its 23 turns?  Here's the provisional grid for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Singapore:

Pos Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:39.403 1:37.344 1:36.015
2 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:38.751 1:37.214 1:36.334
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:38.218 1:37.876 1:36.628
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:39.291 1:37.254 1:36.702
5 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:38.534 1:37.194 1:36.794
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:38.153 1:37.406 1:36.996
7 Lawsuit Perez Force India Mercedes 1:38.814 1:38.342 1:37.985
8 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:38.685 1:38.367 1:38.320
9 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:38.912 1:38.534 1:38.365
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:38.932 1:38.450 1:38.588
11 I Dunno Alonso McLaren Renault 1:39.022 1:38.641
12 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:39.103 1:38.716
13 CharlesAMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:39.206 1:38.747
14 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:39.366 1:39.453
15 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso 1:39.614 1:39.691
16 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:39.644

17 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:39.809

18 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:39.864

19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 1:41.263

20 Veruca Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:41.334


On a night where the preferred tires were taking two laps to warm up, and where the fastest tires would die if you pushed them hard for an entire lap, Ferrari spit the bit.  Going in, there was no reason to think that at least Vettel would be on the front row.  Instead, Red Bull discovered that if you press the right-hand pedal, the car goes faster.

And then, there was Lewis.  After nearly failing to making it out of Q1 due to a Mercedes tactical error, he turned in a Lap For The Ages.  Where it came from is unknown... even the team was baffled.  "Magic," said Lewis.  "Sprinkled with stardust" was team principal Toto Wolff's description.  "F*ck off and die," was Seb Vettel's take.  And it came on his first hot lap, too.  It was just left there, waiting for someone to knock it off.  Nobody did.  Nobody could

How astonishing was this lap?  Of course it's a new lap record, that's been happening all season.  But it was better than THREE SECONDS faster than last year's pole time.  All this in a car that, frankly, had looked a little dog-like this weekend. 

The grid does look awfully entertaining however... and look who's sitting in the second spot: DH Verstappen.  Last year his presence led to both Ferraris crashing out, essentially on the first turn.  And here we see an increasingly desperate appearing Seb Vettel in third, knowing that with seven races left he needs very badly to outrace Hamilton if he wants a chance to win the championship.  I'm almost expecting a lot of red and pewter carbon fiber to be spewed in the first corner.

Race is in the morning, see ya afterwards!

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September 13, 2018

F1 on TV: Singapore 2018

Gotta be quick about this one, I have to be back at work too soon.  So here's the track map for the Original Night Race, Singapore!


Last year's race saw rain for the first time in history, and the classic wreck of both Ferraris on the first lap.  Rain is NOT expected during Quals or the race this year, but that's what they said last year, too.  We shall see.

In more important news, the Silly Season hit its climax recently when Ferrari announced that Charles AMX-30 will be paired with Seb Vettel in 2019, leaving Kimi Raikkonen out in the cold so to speak.  Until about 15 minutes after the announcement, that is.  At that point, the Finn announced he'll be driving for Sauber in 2019 and 2020.  So essentially the teams swapped drivers.  Makes sense, it's not like Sauber uses Ferrari engines or anything.

On the face of it, Kimi's getting a demotion.  Being the #2 driver at Ferrari is pretty much better than being the #1 driver at anywhere else but Mercedes and (maybe) Red Bull.  However, a closer look reveals some interesting things to think about.  It's clear that Raikkonen is still a good driver, if maybe not as fast as his first Ferrari go-round.  On the other hand, Sauber hasn't had a knock-down Ace of a driver since 2009 when Robert (the stupid idiot moron) Kubica was in the car (back when they were BMW-Sauber).  Further, they haven't had THIS GOOD of a driver for a full season since 2005, when Jack Newhouse was on the team.  I don't know if the 2019 car is going to be any good, but having an experienced driver like Kimi helping them with development has no downside whatsoever.

And of course he's still the laff-a-minnit Finn we've always known.  In today's driver interviews, he was asked if he still had "the hunger to race."  His response?  "No, actually!  I'm just playing head games with you guys, deciding to sign for two years and not be happy!" Also someone asked "It wasn't your decision to leave Ferrari but it was your decision to go back to Sauber, just tell us why?"  "Why not?"   Comedy gold right there.

Right, Quals on Saturday, race on Sunday, see you 'round Space Cowboy!

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September 11, 2018

Seventeen Years Ago

It was a Tuesday morning at Pond Central.  Tuesdays meant New Release Day at the bookstore I ran at the time, which required resetting the new Top 20 display at the front of the store.  I woke up about a half-hour earlier than I normally did, intending to get to the store early.  Nothing too out of the ordinary there, truth be told.


That all changed when my clock radio turned on.  Instead of hearing the usual light-hearted sports talk, I realized that the morning duo sounded... serious.  I mean, really serious.  Something about one of the World Trade Center buildings having been hit by an airplane.  Honestly, my first reaction was one of total unconcern; as a World War II buff, of course I knew about the B-25 Mitchell flying into the Empire State Building in a thick fog.  Of course I thought that it would be something similar.  I headed out to Pond Central's kitchen, grabbed some orange juice, then turned on the TV to see what was going on.

I had had just enough time to say to myself "that's a really big hole, and a lot of smoke.  It sure wasn't a light airplane."  I also noted that the sky was clear and blue, so it couldn't be that the pilot had gotten lost in the fog like the B-25 had.  But before I could really boil all that down to the obvious conclusion, the second plane hit.  In my rush to get up close to my 13" TV/VCR combo, I spilled my orange juice and barked my shins on the coffee table.  I stood there for 10 or 15 minutes, before heading for the shower.  Listened to the shower radio the whole time, got dressed, then watched the TV until I absolutely had to leave.  At the time, I literally had to drive from one end of Duckford to the other, at least a half-hour long jaunt.

As I was driving, the South Tower collapsed, and I very nearly bent the Duckmobile's steering wheel in shock and surprise.  I drove the rest of the way in thinking to myself, "there's a sister bookstore in the mall underneath the WTC."  It was kind of a weird feeling, knowing that some people that you've got a very very weak tie to have probably just died... people just like you, probably got in early to set the new Top 20 display, and they just had one of the tallest buildings in the world fall on their heads.

(I'm going to interrupt my story to let you all know that no employees of that bookstore were killed, or even injured, that day.  The rest of the chain didn't find that out for a couple of days, however.  I can only imagine how the manager's phone call to their District Manager went...)

With that image in my head I pulled into my mall's parking lot, and practically sprinted into the building, so best to pull the boom box out of the back room and bring it to the cashwrap so to keep listening to the events of the day... and discovered once again that fluorescent lights scream like banshees in all sorts of radio frequencies.  I managed to find a station that wasn't drowned out by static, waaaaaay up at the top of the dial.  I think it was broadcasting from Wisconsin, but I don't remember for sure anymore.  And sometime between leaving my car and tuning in WCHZ, the North Tower had collapsed.  Not knowing what else to do, I started resetting the Top 20.

At 10am, I opened the gates to let the flood of customers into the store... and by "flood", I mean "nobody."  Exact times get a little hazy around this point.  I did have one customer come in, we talked for a bit, and then she left.  She almost looked dazed, and to be honest, I probably did too.  My DM called, said that half of the stores in our district were having to close because their malls were shutting down early.  I hadn't heard anything yet from my mall's manager, but I'd let her know as soon as I did.  I suspected it wouldn't be long: other than dazed woman, I couldn't see a single customer anywhere in the mall.

Then stores began closing up on their own.  The guy who ran the tuxedo place directly across from me said that his boss had called and said "I don't care what the mall is doing, get out of there."  If you weren't working in a mall or a big building at the time, you might not remember the fear that permeated that day.  There was a lot of concern that more attacks might occur.  I know that they evacuated both the Sears Tower and the John Hancock Building in Chicago because of a report of another hijacked plane.  Why would terrorists attack a small, dying mall in upstate Illinois?  Doesn't matter... there was a lot of irrational thought occurring just then.  Eventually, the Powers That Be at the mall said "shut it down," so after calling my staff to tell 'em not to come in, I did just that.

On the way home, I stopped at a grocery store.  Looking back at it, that was a weird decision for me to make, but what the hell, I needed my frozen pizza.  Unsurprisingly, there was no wait for a cashier.  Once I got home and got my foodstuffs put away, I turned the TV back on and took up residence on my couch for the rest of the day and a good portion of the night. A little while ago, I mentioned this to a coworker.  He asked me why I didn't get on the internet to follow events that day.  Did I mention that he is a very young coworker?

That was... quite the day.  Quite the day indeed.

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September 10, 2018

Where We're Going, We Don't Need Rules

-Shadow DN2, 1973

The closest the motorsports world has come to a truly open racing series was the original Can-Am, which ran from 1966 to 1974.  When I say "open", I mean that the tech regs regarding the cars consisted of the following:

1) The car must have two seats.
2) The car must have enclosed wheels.
3) It must meet required safety standards (pretty minimal, considering the time period).

And that was it.  After that, it was anything goes.

-McLaren M8D, 1970

And that meant "anything."  Can-Am series cars were the first to use titanium, ground effect of all sorts, wings of types never before seen (and rarely after), hell, cars that were wings, cars that used fans from a friggin' tank engine to create downforce, and in one case a car that put out 1580hp.  

-Chaparral 2H, 1969

However, it was Can-Am's main selling point that led to it's demise.  "No rules" also means "no limits".  That let manufacturers like McLaren and Porsche throw insane amounts of money at their cars, which basically priced out anybody else.

-Lola T260, 1971

But when it was in its heyday, Can-Am had cars that were faster than F1 cars, some that were able to win endurance races like the 24 Hours of Daytona, and loud enough to shake the fillings out of your head.  Nowadays the cars show up at Goodwood or various classic car races fairly regularly.

But there's one reason I'll always have a spot in my cold, dead heart for Can-Am: I'm pretty sure I attended the original series' very last race, at Road America in 1974.  Yes, I was only six, but I have memories of being there.

-Porsche 917/30, 1973

Can-Am.  We will never see its like again.

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September 08, 2018

I Call For A Boycott!

There is a minor league baseball team in Akron.  They are called the Akron Rubberducks.  I am calling for all right-minded waterfowl (humans can join in, too) to participate in a boycott of the Akron Rubberducks.


I can hear you saying "But Wonderduck!  They're the Rubberducks!  It'd only be natural for you to love them!"  And you would be correct, normally.  But!  A team named the Rubberducks should sell Rubberducks rubberducks, and they don't. They do sell rubberducks, but those rubberducks aren't Rubberducks rubberducks, they're regular rubberducks.

So until the Rubberducks sell Rubberducks rubberducks, I will boycott the Rubberducks.  Really, it's quite sad. After all, I collect rubberducks, so a Rubberducks rubberduck would be great to own. But I can't put a Rubberducks rubberduck in my rubberduck collection, as the Rubberducks don't sell a Rubberducks rubberduck.

So hop to it, Rubberducks!  Carry an Akron Rubberducks rubberduck, so I can send you my money for an Rubberducks rubberduck.  Oh, I know there's some problem in licensing since the Major Leagues doesn't have a rubberduck manufacturer anymore, but c'mon!  The ball is in your court... pond... stadium... whatever.  

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September 05, 2018

The BunDucksLiga Is Back!

...and this time, they're flying!


If soccer involved rubber ducks, I'd watch a lot more.

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September 04, 2018

F1 Update: Italy 2018

The tifosi were all a-twitter over the possibilities facing them as the Great F1 Circus pulled onto the grid.  Their beloved Ferrari drivers, Kimi Raikkonen and Seb Vettel, were perched on the front row, with the Finn having put in the fastest lap in F1 history to grab pole.  Further, everybody knew they had the best car, having slowly but surely moved past their rivals in silver, Mercedes.  Those two worthies held the second row, but Lewis Hamilton held the lead in the driver's championship.  Behind them, the rest of the field could only look on in disgust at the way this had become a two-tier sport: the big guys, and everybody else.  How did all this work out in the end?  THIS is your F1Update! for the 2018 Grand Prix of Italy!


*START:  "You cannot win a race on the first lap, but you can lose it."  So it is written in the Gospel of St Fangio the Quick.  And lo, it did come to pass when Seb Vettel, trying to defend against Hamilton in the second chicane, banged into the side of the Mercedes.  The next thing we knew, there was a cloud of smoke and the Ferrari driver was back in 17th, for all intents and purposes out of contention.  Which left Raikonnen in the lead, Hamilton in second, DH Verstappen's Red Bull in third and unable to keep up with the first two, and Valterri Bottas in the other Merc in fourth.

*STRATEGERY:  On Lap 20, Raikonnen pitted from the lead.  Hamilton's pit wall informed him that it was now "Hammer Time."  The idea being that if Hamilton could hammer out a few quick laps, he could close the overall time gap to the actual leader, Raikkonen, enough that he could pit and return to the track in the lead.  This is basic strategy, and it usually succeeds when you're talking about a driver the quality of Lewis Hamilton.  Which of course means that it didn't work.  Mercedes left Hamilton out on track until Lap 28, by which time he had actually lost five seconds to the Ferrari driver.  The Ferrari driver who was in second place.  He was there instead of in the lead because Bottas had been promoted to 1st during the pitstop rotation, though he had yet to stop.  Which was all part of Merc's plan, probably ginned up on a napkin right then and there.

*AGONY:  For the next seven or eight laps, Raikkonen tried to get past his fellow Finn.  For seven or eight laps he failed, and burned his tires in the process.  All the while, the Finn fight had allowed Hamilton to close the gap to the Ferrari driver.  Bottas had obviously been told to slow things down, act as a rollling roadblock while sacrificing any chance to win the race himself.    This he did beautifully, driving a wide car while staying just far enough ahead that the Ferrari driver would almost have to push... it was just right there!  Nothing worked.  When Bottas finally peeled off into the pits on Lap 36, Hamilton had gotten close enough to be a threat.

*TOWARDS A NEW LEADER:  And yet, Hamilton didn't push matters.  He just stayed close, ready to jump if Raikkonen made a mistake, but holding a little bit in reserve.  His pit wall had told him that the race would be won or lost on tires, and his opponent had already savaged his.  So Hamilton bided his time, taking a tenth of a second off the lead here, a little bit more there, lap after lap just stalking the Red Car.  And then on Lap 45, Hamilton breezed by as neatly as you please, and the Finn had no tires left to counterattack with.

*THE END:  It was all a matter of formality then.  Raikkonen had so badly hurt his tires that he was losing over a second per lap to the new leader.  And in some small way, Mercedes' strategy of sacrificing Bottas on the altar of Hamilton actually turned out to be a benefit for Ferrari.  Once Bottas returned to the race after pitting, he was stuck in 4th place behind DH Verstappen's Red Bull.  Bottas of course tried to get past the Dutchman, and twice it looked like he would succeed.  On the first try, Verstappen cut a corner and got away with it.  The second time, he actually swerved stiffly towards the side of the Finn's Merc.  This, he did not get away with, and he was soon handed a five second penalty to be tacked on to his final time.  While Verstappen did cross the finish line third, the penalty meant that he was dropped back to fifth.  Bottas, of course, was in third, but there, within five seconds of Verstappen at the end, was Seb Vettel, who did take fourth.  But because Bottas had been stuck behind the Red Bull, that meant he couldn't take the fight to the gimpy Ferrari for second place.  Still, it seems likely that Mercedes was okay with trading second place for third when it got them the overall victory.

*TIFOSI PFUI:  During the post-race interviews/podium ceremony, the tifosi booed Hamilton, and not for the first time.  This time felt particularly egregious, however.  Indeed, no less a voice than ex-Ferrari chief Luca di Montezemolo went on record saying that he was "disgusted" by the tifosi's behavior.  Not the best way to end what was a rather exciting race.

Next time we'll be in Singapore!  See ya then.

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September 03, 2018

F1U! Where, Wonderduck?

I ended up sleeping instead of doing the F1U! for Monza.  It was a good race, well worth your time to watch it if you can.  But this weekend has either been annoying (Saturday), or relaxing (Sunday, Monday).


The plan had been to do it Monday morning... get up, do morning things, sit down at the computer and bang the writeup out... but I didn't actually get up until 1130a.  So I got up, did morning things in what technically turned out to be the afternoon, had lunch, put together what is basically a one-shelf bookcase, though that's not what I'll be using it for, fiddled about, then I took a nap around about 630p.  I had intended to to wake up at 9p and do the writeup then.

Intentions are not what happened.  I actually woke up at 11p.  Which brings us to now.  But it was a nice nap, and with the office on mandatory 10 hours of OT this week even with the holiday, a nap that is likely to be needed.

I did try to get some of that OT in on Saturday, but the system was down.  The system was down.  The system was down.  Down down down. Zakazakazakazakazaka system systemsystemsystem.  The system was down.  Which pissed me off to no end, since I had willingly come in on a day off to do work.  Okay, not that willingly.  Which made it worse, actually!

So, yeah, OT sucks. I'll do F1U! on Tuesday.  Hope y'all had a good holiday off, or for my non-US readers, a good monday.

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September 01, 2018

F1 Quals: Italy 2018

It looked like rain.  The official FIA Weather Clowns gave it an 80% chance of rain during Qualifying. For once, being underneath the giant Ferrari banner in the main grandstand didn't seem like it'd be all that bad.  But did it rain?  Or did we get full speed, athletic-spheroids-to-the-dividing-structure action like we hoped, for Monza is the one track on the calendar where rain takes away from, as opposed to adding to, the spectacle.  So which was it?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Italy:

Pos Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:20.722 1:19.846 1:19.119
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:20.542 1:19.629 1:19.280
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:20.810 1:19.798 1:19.294
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:21.381 1:20.427 1:19.656
5 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:21.381 1:20.333 1:20.615
6 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:21.887 1:21.239 1:20.936
7 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:21.732 1:21.552 1:21.041
8 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:21.570 1:21.315 1:21.099
9 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso
1:21.834 1:21.667 1:21.350
10 Veruca Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:21.838 1:21.494 1:21.627
11 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:21.783 1:21.669
12 Sergey, Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:21.813 1:21.732
13 Indy Alonso McLaren Renault 1:21.850 1:22.568
14 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:21.801 DNF
15 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:21.280 DNF

16 Lawsuit Perez Force India Mercedes 1:21.888

17 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:21.889

18 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso
1:21.934

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:22.048

20 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:22.085


See that 1:19.119 up there?  That works out to an average speed of 163.785mph, which makes it the fastest lap in Formula 1 history.  Please note that both Vettel and Hamilton also broke the lap record in qualifying, but the Finnish driver pipped them both.  Sadly, the SKY announcers couldn't sound excited if you set them both on fire.  At least, not in any way that makes you feel it.  Yes, I'd still much rather have the Legendary Announce Team broadcasting my F1.

If you look closely at the top 10 places on the grid, you'll see they are occupied by cars from eight different manufacturers.  I personally cannot remember the last time I saw that.  Only McLaren and Sauber are absent.  But the Swiss team has a very good reason for their performance today...
"Hi, I'm Sony Ericcson. *record scratch*  Yep, that's me.
You're probably wondering how I got myself into this situation..."

In Friday's Practice 2, Ericcson was approaching Turn 1 at somewhere around 210mph or so, nothing out of the ordinary at all.  Unbeknown by him his DRS flap had actually over-opened, meaning that it was stuck that way when it came time to apply the brakes.  Doing so is supposed to automatically close the DRS flap, thus increasing downforce and allowing the car to do things like slow down or turn in a controlled manner.  Instead, the Sauber immediately speared to the left, giving the armco a 15G hit.  Then the right side tires dug into the rain-softened grass and dirt, sending the car into a tumbling, spinning, somersaulting ride that reportedly covered some 700meters.  The video is terrifying to watch in its violence:

During this gymnastic routine, he pulled 28Gs.  Once it ended however, he just stood up and walked away.  The trip in the medical car that followed was required by the regulations; any time a driver suffers an impact that sensors record as being over a certain g-force level, they're going to the medical center whether they're hurt or not.

Sauber immediately called Charles AMX-30 into the pits, only to discover that his DRS equipment had the same problem, it just hadn't happened yet.  Ericcson's car had to be rebuilt from the ground up... even the chassis was ruined.  So while Sauber is usually kinda slow, they had a good excuse this time.

You'll also note the two "DNF" entries in Q2.  Both Smiley Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg had massive gridspot penalties... Hulkenberg for his causing of the massive crash at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix, and Smiley for engine component changes.  Both knew there was no point to going out and burning tires when they were going to end up at the back anyway, so neither did more than an installation lap and back to the pits.

So, it'll be a fast race tomorrow... and a fast one, too, if you know what I mean!  F1U! will be along sometime thereafter.  See ya then!

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August 30, 2018

F1 on TV: Monza 2018 Blah Blah Blah You Know The Drill...

I'm grumpy as heck at my boss right now, and I'm very, very tired of doing overtime.  Getting home at 10pm just so I can eat something then go back to sleep?  All work and no play makes Wonderduck a dull waterfowl.

Speaking of playing, the F1 Circus is in Italy this weekend.  Italy, Italy... which track is that again?
Oh yeah, right!  Formula 1's answer to NASCAR, Monza!  At Spa-Francopants, something like 72% of a lap is run at full throttle.  At Monza, it's 114%.  It's a fast circuit, is all I'm saying.  After they made some changes to Parabolica (aka Turn 11 on the map above), it's no longer the end of your race if you go off there, and that's a shame.  Unless you go REALLY off, in which case we'll send out Fluffles the cat to cover up your car in the kitty litter.

Sadly, it looks like Friday practices are going to be very wet, if not completely rained out.  I say "sadly" because that's probably going to be the only rain we see.  On the other hand, with a dry track we've got a good chance to see something that hasn't happened since 2010: Ferrari winning its home race.  I can't even remember the last time before that for a Ferrari victory at Monza, so... history in the making?

Well, whatever.  I'll have a Quals report up sometime Saturday... still working out details of having a meal with the folks, maybe Saturday, maybe Sunday... and I expect I'll get some sort of F1U! up after the race.

See ya then!

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August 27, 2018

F1 Update: Belgium 2018

"I went to a fight, and a hockey game broke out!"  THIS is your F1U! for the 2018 Grand Prix of Belgium!

*LAP 1, TURN 1:  We here at F1U! can completely understand if you thought the race at Spa-Francopants was exciting, because holy frijoles was a first lap!  The race began with the usual charge towards the tightest first turn in Formula 1, La Source.  You come running in at high speed, then immediately slow down to Toyota Camry speeds, turn greater than 90° to the right, then go galloping off towards Eau Rouge.  That's what's supposed to happen, and for the the frontrunners, that's what occurred.  And then you had Nico Hulkenberg.  He was starting 18th because of a power unit change, and decided that he was going to make up all the lost places right away.  At least, that's what we here at F1U! assume happened, because he went careening into La Source with all four tires smoking from locked up brakes after apparently forgetting that there were other cars on track.  The result was... something.
Hulkenberg rammed the back of the McLaren of Fernando Alonso.  This got the McLaren all sorts of wrong, and contact with Charles AMX-30's Sauber sent him airborne.  The car went up and over first the side of, then the front of, the Sauber, dealing a frightful amount of damage to Alonso's chariot.  However, since he came down correct-side up, this was not something that needed to be worried about.  As it turned out, AMX-30 was very nearly decapitated by the front-right wheel of the McLaren when the entire car slid over the Sauber's HALO from right to left.  Indeed, the halo snapped the right-front suspension of the orange and blue car as it went past AMX-30's head. 
The view from the nose of AMX-30's Sauber, looking backwards.
We here at F1U! are not overly fond of the new safety device... it looks all sorts of ugly... but we'll give credit where credit is due: there's an excellent chance it saved a promising young driver's life today.  But that wasn't all that happened, oh heavens no!  See, as Alonso's car began its wild journey towards the sky, it snipped off the rear wing of Smiley Ricciardo's Red Bull.  That caused the Aussie's vehicle to contact Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari in passing, destroying its right-rear tire.  Both cars limped to the pits, both cars got repaired (you don't often see a rear wing replacement in F1!) and went back out.  Both cars would be forced to retire soon after, meaning Hulkenberg's Wild Ride was responsible for destroying a full quarter of the Belgian Grand Prix field!  That deserves a wow, at least!

*THE STRAIGHT: As one can imagine, a safety car was called out, but not immediately.  This gave us just enough time for the leaders to go charging down the Kemmel Straight, Seb Vettel's Ferrari leading Hamilton's Mercedes leading the two Force Indias.  Except that makes it sound like they were nose to tail... they weren't.  No, as they came to the end of the straight, doing something like 180-190mph, they were four wide.
False Esteban! was on the inside for the approaching right-hand turn, but had to back off since Vettel had the racing line.  Lawsuit Perez on the outside was just beaten into the turn by Hamilton, and wound up third.  Just for the record?  NASCAR doesn't usually go four wide ever: that way lays madness.  Just sayin'.

*SAFETY IN SPEED: The safety car lasted for four or five laps, an eternity around the 7+ km long Spa circuit.  And then came the restart.  Vettel did a fantastic job on snookering Hamilton, leaving him desperately gasping for air once things went green again.  How fantastic?  He had a full second lead on the Mercedes into Turn 1.  That's pretty impressive.  Sadly, it was so impressive Mercedes basically pulled the plug on trying to catch the Ferrari.  Oh, they tried for a while, but once it became clear that Vettel could keep the gap at any amount of time that he wanted they stopped trying.  Gotta protect that engine, don'tchaknow?  And once DH Verstappen made his inevitable way past the two Force India cars (they were a great story, but we knew it was coming, didn't we?), the podium was set... with over half the race to go.  To be sure, there was still a little racing going on... Valterri Bottas, who started 17th in his Mercedes managed to haul himself all the way to 4th... but nothing earthshaking.  In effect, the race was over by the end of the first lap.

*FORCE INDIA Ver. 2.0: With their fifth-sixth place finish today, (Racing Point) Force India scored 18 points in the Constructor's Championship.  They are now in 9th place, ahead of Williams, only one point behind Sauber, and 12 points behind Toro Rosso for 7th.  Amusingly, they are also ahead of (Deadbeat) Force India, in 11th with zero points.  Realistically they could get as high as 6th place... and wouldn't that be a performance with only half-a-season to do it in?

Right, Monza is this coming weekend... prepare for speedspeedspeed!

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August 25, 2018

F1 Quals: Belgium 2018

Overcast, gray and cloudy.  No, not the skies over Duckford for most of the past week, the skies over Spa-Francopants today!  The FIA Weather Minstrels said there was a 90% chance of rain during today's Quals, which meant we had a great chance of it not raining ever again at Spa... that's how inaccurate those predictions usually are.  But rain it did, and hoo boy, did it pay off!  Here's the provisional grid for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Belgium:

Pos Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:42.977 1:41.553 1:58.179
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:43.035 1:41.501 1:58.905
3 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:44.003 1:43.302 2:01.851
4 Lawsuit Perez Force India Mercedes 1:44.004 1:43.014 2:01.894
5 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:43.597 1:43.042 2:02.122
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:42.585 1:41.533 2:02.671
7 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:43.199 1:42.554 2:02.769
8 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:43.604 1:43.126 2:02.939
9 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:43.834 1:43.320 2:04.933
10 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:42.805 1:42.191 DNS
11 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso
1:44.221 1:43.844
12 Brendon Hartley  Toro Rosso
1:44.153 1:43.865
13 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:43.654 1:44.062
14 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:43.846 1:44.301
15 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:44.145 DNS

16 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:44.489

17 Indy Alonso McLaren Renault 1:44.917

18 Sergey, Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:44.998

19 Veruca Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:45.134

20 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:45.307


Sure, the top two positions aren't anything to get worked up about, except that Hamilton becomes the first driver to ever have five poles at Spa (big deal).  But what happened next... now there's the interesting stuff!

You may remember my offhand comment that Force India went into receivership and nearly died, yes?  Well, while it had been purchased, there turned out to be something of a confusion, as so often occurs when money is involved in Formula 1.  I've read everything I could on the matter, and what I THINK it works out to is that the purchasing group bought the team, but not the actual FIA Entry to allow the team onto the grid.  Or something like that.  So here's this group of moneymen that has just purchased everything they needed to have a Formula 1 team, but due to some technicality or other, they couldn't do anything with it.

As I left for work Thursday morning Pond Central Time, nobody was sure if the pink cars were going to be on the grid.  They were there, their trucks and motorhomes without liveries, but that was all they were.  Various votes were taken, and the teams unanimously decided to allow them to race.  But, since the team had changed hands, the decision was made to declare them a new team and Force India, now known as Racing Point Force India, has had their constructor's championship points stripped.  Their drivers kept their points, however.  Because of this, an amusing conundrum arose.  See, the technical regulations say nothing about a situation like this.  An argument was put forth that, since they were a new team, the engine allocations for the cars should be reset to zero... that is, all the engine pieces Force India had used (three ICE apiece for each driver, the annual limit before penalties start accruing) would no longer count against the team since they were being considered a new entity!  After some frantic hemming and hawwing, the logical answer was reached: since the drivers were being allowed to keep their points, so too should the engine count carry over.  This is, of course, the right answer, but I think they came to it for the wrong reason.  I think it was made clear a couple of years ago that the engine count is tied to the car, not the driver.  Otherwise, a driver put in the seat to replace another would have zero engine usage.  In any case, logic says this is the correct answer, but logic usually has little place in Formula 1. 

The upshot of all of this is that Force India, after a week where nobody knew if they were going racing or not, after a summer break where nobody knew if they were going to exist as a team or not, took third and fourth on the grid today.  I think that's got to count up there with the greatest performances of all time, right?  From dead to Row 2 in one week?  Hell yeah.

Anyway, the rains DID come, just seconds after Q3 began and everybody went out on slicks.  And the rains came in buckets, too.  Drivers were tiptoeing around that first lap, particularly after Valterri Bottas lost control of his Mercedes while driving in a straight line.  He didn't hit anything, which counts as some minor miracle.  Anyway, everybody dove into the pits for rain boots... everybody but Force India, either through mistake or just sheer bloody-mindedness.  It didn't go well.  The track was pretty much unable to be driven on with slicks, as Lawsuit Perez proved when he only just missed turning his car into very small carbon fiber shards at the top of Eau Rouge/Radillion.  In what counts as a masterpiece of understatement, Perez later described it as a "pants sh*tting moment".

After crawling back around, the team was in no rush to send them back out, and for a wonder the rains stopped and the circuit immediately began to dry.  Times began plummeting, and the pink cars were released at what turned out to be pretty much the perfect moment.  A short span of time later, and the second row was theirs.  While it's true that Force India has always done well here... remember their pole in 2009?... this has got to rank among their finest moments anyway.

Pay no attention to the massive time gap between Row 1 and 2... both Hamilton and Vettel took even greater advantage from the rapidly drying track, is all.  Tomorrow's race should be a humdinger, you betcha.  See ya then!

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August 21, 2018

Summer Break Is Over... Get On The Bus, Kids

Yup, Formula 1 is back for the second half of the 2018 season.  As has become tradition, the first race back will be at Spa-Francopants, the longest circuit on the calendar and the race with the highest percentage of the track being on Belgian soil.


While it's yet another race, it's also going to go down in history as the start of the Fernando Alonso retirement parade.  Yes, the LeMans winner announced during the break that this will be his last season in F1.  Exactly what he's going to be doing is still unconfirmed... he might stay in the WEC with Toyota, he might race IndyCar full-time, that's not announced yet.

I expect he'll be in IndyCar... he only needs the 500 to win the Racing Triple Crown, after all... at which point I'm afraid I'll have to start writing his obituary for future use.  There was yet ANOTHER major crash-and-injury in IndyCar, this time last weekend at Pocono.  Robert Wickens got tangled up with Ryan Hunter-Reay and was launched onto the top of the outside barrier.  He was nose-high, however, and it took only a few moments for him to hit one of the support posts for the safety fence.  Cue rapidly disintegrating car, the pieces of which wound up taking out a few others.  Wickens suffered broken legs, one arm was broken, bruised lungs, and most seriously, a broken spine and spinal cord damage.  The severity of that is as of yet unknown.  This is the same track where Justin Wilson was killed back in 2015, just as a coincidence.

In slightly more positive news, Pierre Ghastly was officially named as the Red Bull replacement for Smiley Ricciardo.  Nobody was surprised.  

So yeah, race this weekend.  I'll be watching, we'll see about a writeup.  See ya then!

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August 16, 2018

I Didn't Realize...

Today, we lost Aretha Franklin, unarguably a music legend no matter what you like to listen to.

I know this is how I was first exposed to her as a young duckling, but what would you expect?  I was born in Chicago, Momzerduck was almost killed by The Blues Brothers, not the band but the film crew, and everybody hates Illinois Nazis.

But did you know that today in history was also when Elvis Presley died?
Sorry for posting the AMV instead of the original version, either of the remake or the original original.  But I'm still amazed by the work that must have gone into the AMV, particularly because it's 15 years old.  

Also on this date?
Yep.  Bela Lugosi.  To think that multiple generations know him only from this song... it's a shame, it really is.

Okay, yeah, pretty weak sauce for a post, but whaddya want for nuthin', a rubber biscuit?


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August 13, 2018

It's 2016 All Over Again

Last night the Cubs were facing Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals.  If you're not familiar with the National League, Scherzer is on the short list of "best NL starting pitcher."  And by short, I mean "him and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers".  And for seven innings, he proved the old maxim that good pitching beats good hitting, completely shutting down the Cubs.


Meanwhile, the Nationals were having a difficult time with the Cubs newest acquisition, Cole Hamels.  While not quite as sharp as Scherzer, he still had a great outing for a team that hasn't had many of those this year.  Despite that, the Cubs were down 3 - 0 going into the bottom of the ninth.

The Nationals brought in reliever Ryan Madson to close it out.  He got the first batter, then gave up an infield single.  He hit the next batter, then coaxed a pop fly for the second out.  Madson then hit another batter to load the bases.  What happened next was magic.
Skip to 2:45 for the moment of a lifetime
David Bote has played a grand total of 35 games of major league ball in his career, all of them this year.  He became the third player in baseball history to hit a walk-off grand slam with two outs and trailing by three... and he had two strikes on him,and he was a pinch hitter to boot.  Good way to end a game.

I'm starting to get those 2016 vibes from this team, because this is exactly how the 2016 team did things.  I'll take that, yeah.

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August 11, 2018

Duckford Blue

It was another late night at the job last night.  11 hours on the clock, almost 12 if you count the lunch break... by the time I finished my mandatory 10 hours of OT for the week, it was 945pm and I was the last person in the building that wasn't one of the three cleaning crew people.  Even they were leaving out the back door as I was heading towards the front.  Honestly, I think I had been the last person in the building since around 7pm... pretty much everybody tries to be gone as early as possible on Fridays.  Except for me, of course, mostly because I enjoy singing while working and I don't want to disturb my coworkers.

Sure, that's the reason.  Really.  It has nothing to do with my not being able to drag my butt out of bed with any alacrity in the morning.  Anyway.  My work done, I grabbed my cane and headed out the door to the parking lot.  Where I saw a police car sitting right behind the Duckmobile, headlights on and clearly running my plates, or whatever they do these days.  Technology: ain't it grand?  Immediately I began wondering what did I do wrong?   Because that's the first reaction of anybody when a police officer begins an out-of-the-blue interaction with you: the police are talking to me, ergo I must have done something wrong.  Even if, like me, you haven't had a traffic ticket in 32 years and the last time you were in court was for jury duty.

I began trudging towards the car, parked at the far end of a decent sized parking lot and after a long day of work... and ohbytheway, the police car too... when the police officer yelled "Is this your car?"  I had to restrain an insane impulse to yell back "No, this one is," point at an empty parking spot, and start miming unlocking the door, getting in and driving away.  Instead, I behaved like an actual adult and yelled back "Yes, that is my car."  Another question came back: "Are you Wonderduck?"  "Yes...?"

The officer backed up a bit, then drove right up next to me, driver side window to my left.  He smiled, or at least that's what I inferred from the movements the big furry caterpillar on his upper lip suggested.  "There's no problem, it's just that a lone car in a big darkened parking lot late on a Friday night... just thought it'd be good to check it out, y'know?"  I explained myself, finishing overtime, last one in the building, yadda yadda.  "Great, glad there isn't a problem.  You have a good night, Mr Duck."

And he pulled away, leaving via the lot's back exit (coincidentally, the same way I usually leave).  A few moments later, I see him go flying past, gumballs spinning, siren screaming.

So that was how my Friday night at work ended.  Upon reflection after a day's separation, it wasn't as exciting as I thought at the time.

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August 07, 2018

Yes, I'm Still Alive! Hooray!

Overtime is really kicking my llama's arse.  Weekends have been spent sleeping or doing even less than usual.  Weeknights... well, I'm usually getting home between 9pm and 10.


Which is not to say I haven't been keeping eyes on things, heavens no.  For example, Smiley Ricciardio is going to be leaving Red Bull at the end of the season and moving to the Renault works team.  Lets face it, with golden boy DH Verstappen on the scene, Dannyric was never going to be The Man at the Bull.  Whether moving to Renault will be a good career move or not remains to be seen, but at least he's free of the Dutchman.  Who will be replacing him at Red Bull?  I don't know, because there's a huge X-factor involved, namely that Verstappen has the ability to nix any driver the team tries to bring in.  So don't be so quick to say Pierre Ghastly, current hotshoe over at Toro Rosso, my friends.  He'd be totally logical, which means that DH might just say "no." 

In other F1 news, Force India nearly died recently... because Daimler-Mercedes and team sponsor BWT supported FI driver Sergio Perez essentially sued his team for $4million of unpaid debt.  Force India's engine manufacturer Mercedes says the team owned them around $10million, while BWT claimed that their sponsorship deal was really "just a loan."  The team went into receivership, and was quickly snapped up by a group of five deep-pockets, led by Pleasant Stroll's daddy and the billionaire father of GP3 driver and FI's test driver, Nikita Mazepin.  I'm pretty sure I know what the driver lineup for Force India will be in 2019.

Okay, I'm tired.  More sometime soon.

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