Thursday, 29 June 2017

Azerbaijan GP - "Nice job mate"

Now I'm back in the saddle with note-taking, I just need Baby Pitstop to give me some time before a Thursday to do the typing up...

Firstly, if anyone knows who the over-excited Qualifying interviewer was...?

For me, this is one of the most stunning tracks on the calendar.  I love the contrast between the old town and the modern buildings.  And also how tight the track is.  It definitely produced a great race this year, with a contract between the old drivers and the new ones cutting through.  Talking of old vs. new - Mariah Carey?

The race started with the anthem being performed by a singer in a massive flag dress - I wonder if Geri Horner gave her the idea?

It was an awful race for Toro Rosso (really anything Bull), who so many have picked this year.  Not in Q3, running off and then spinning in Lap 1.  Also a bad race for the Finns, if Bottas can avoid Raikkonen in the first corners, then I think the racing will be much improved during the season.

There was some quality radio transmission.  Starting with Grosjean asking: "If the brakes become dangerous, stop me!"  I would hope this was a given.  Verstappen's: "Oh no!  Here we go again..." as his engine blows was just comical.  (Horner said that Verstappen "lost his engine", which hints at carelessness.  The boy needs to start finishing races).  A "whinge warning" should flash up instead of Hamilton's name for his broadcasts.

The restart at Lap 20 saw Massa in third, Hamilton and Vettel collide and bring about the notorious brake test and shunt response, giving Raikkonen a puncture soon afterwards, then the Force India's touch.  Perhaps this is what should be compulsory in all races, not sprinklers (Bernie).  The action continued apace.  Two laps later the race was red-flagged and upon it's restart Stroll overtook Massa!  It all went downhill for the Williams fans then, with Ricciardo being told to "stay ahead" after his double Williams overtake, it's this kind of top-notch pit wall support that led him to win the race.  Then Massa breaks down, which was heartbreaking.

How much the track is responsible for all this action is debatable, but it definitely led to the highly-regarded Hulkenberg "kissing" the wall.

This wasn't the end though.  Ten laps later, Hamilton's headrest became unsafe and Vettel was awarded a ten second stop go penalty.  This put Stroll up to second!  Massa would have been first!  As Alonso said: "What a shame, we could have won this race!"

Following the matchy-matchy collisions, the Saubers collided on L38.

Hamilton's ego continued abound, requesting that Bottas slow down to allow him to catch up and overtake Vettel.  He wouldn't have considered that this would have given Vettel DRS.

The biggest disappointment of the race was Bottas taking Stroll on the finishing straight.  Overall, I think everyone enjoyed the podium.  Ricciardo should have won driver of the day with his zero to hero win but Stroll deserved it too for keeping his cool to become the Youngest Driver to Take a Podium in His Rookie Season with Dark Hair in a White Car with His Father Present.

Azerbaijan GP - Results

1. No Vices Now - 479
2. Evel Marque - 470*
3. Two World Champions, two future World Champions and, um, two other guys - 469
4= Hoping for an Indian Summer - 421
4= The Pitstop Princess - 421
4= Torque of the Devil - 421
7. Bernie is a hobbit - 420
8. Moneyball - 419
9= Jenson's Whinging Legacy - 374
9= Even More Hopeful - 374
11. Beauty & the F1 Geek - 336
12. Burn After Racing - 326
13. BOT-RAI-PER - 323*
14. Slightly Slower Racing - 290
15. Hippy F1 - 270

*Home track played

Friday, 16 June 2017

Canada GP - Results

1. No Vices Now - 423
2. Evel Marque - 421*
3. Two World Champions, two future World Champions and, um, two other guys - 417
4. Bernie is a hobbit - 388
5= Hoping for an Indian Summer - 385
5= Torque of the Devil - 385
7. The Pitstop Princess - 372
8. Moneyball - 351
9= Jenson's Whinging Legacy - 308
9= Even more hopeful - 308
11. BOT-RAI-PER - 295*
12. Slightly Slower Racing - 278
13. Beauty & the F1 Geek - 277
14. Burn After Racing - 268
15. Hippy F1 - 233

* Home track played

Canada GP - "You are not giving me useful information"


Montreal is glorious. The people, the culture, the weather, the venue and – dare I say it – the races. It’s a consistently enjoyable weekend for all of the drivers, teams and spectators.  Still, not everyone loves it. This weekend was exactly the ‘perfect storm’ that Ross Brawn is attempting to manage out – an F1 race being staged at the same time as not one, but all of the Catalunya MotoGP, the BTCC at Croft and formula-e in Berlin (although who watches that?)…

…and it was a cruise for the Mercedes boys – just the sort of domination that we’ve not seen from them in 2017. Respect due to Hamilton, from his pole lap (reaction to which was universally "where did you get that time from??") to his man-management of Mad Max (until the sad demise of his Tag Heuer) to his race-craft (nice to see him call Vettel’s two-stop strategy way ahead of Bono). Like Ronaldo, his numbers don’t lie.
Still, it wasn’t the most exciting victory and no-one hit the Wall of Champions. Any actual race highlights?

· Sainz and Perez reduced their stock due to being a bit too bullish or stubborn (there’s no “I” in team, but there is an “AIIIIIIII!!” in Sainz)
· Max and Ocon raised theirs due to frankly supernatural ability (that start, Max! Wow) and genuine speed (how did Ocon hold off Bottas on those worn tyres?)
· There was plenty of opportunity to don tinfoil hats for the Ferrari swap (where did I leave the remote control for Kimi’s brakes? behind the couch?)
· Alonso got very close to just having a mediocre weekend but, despite his Honda engine snatching his well-earned points from him two laps from the end, somehow managed to put in the 4th fastest lap of the race and promptly vanished into the crowd to celebrate. He really is demob happy…
· “Anything you can do, I can do better” – Vettel trumped Hamilton’s Monaco recovery by rising from 18th up to 4th – some very brave driving, particularly taking the dirty line into turn 1 to get past Ocon. Can’t wait to see Hamilton and Vettel duking it out side by side – it’ll end in tears for someone…
· Good battles in the midfield (I loved K-Mag causing the Hulk to slam on the brakes with a bit of a shove into turn 1 and Nico biding his time… …before returning the favour about 15 laps later) and very good defensive driving from Ricciardo
· And Lance Stroll got points on home soil. (Yes, that Lance Stroll. Yes, seriously. Yes, I’ve seen how manically he see-saws at the wheel. Yes, it is like he’s playing Outrun. Ok, that is an old reference – Mario Kart then, for the youngsters. Yes, his overtake moves give me THE FEAR. He did make up 8 places though. At that rate, Massa would have won the race if he hadn’t been punted off on lap 1…)

Quote of the day went to DC with a scathing putdown of Kimi trying to adjust his settings:
"If you can count up to 15 or 16m euros in your paycheque, you can count up to 42 on your dash"

Bravest feat (feet?) of the day: Sir Patrick Stewart doing the schuey. Ooft.

And so, on to Baku. Apparently Mercedes worked 24/7 for ten days to understand and eliminate the set-up and race management issues that have plagued them so far this season – and that’s why they won Canada. Nothing to do with Hamilton’s utter domination at Montreal. Or that it suits the Mercedes engine and long wheelbase to a tee. Oh no. So, expect Mercedes to dominate every track from now on then. Can anyone spell hubris? (T May…?)

p.s. What’s that? Who actually won the Race of Champions 2017, I hear you ask? None other than Juan Pablo Montoya – at his first appearance in the ROC, no less. A Virgin victory – something we never heard in F1. But I’m presuming you know this, after watching the highlights on All4… Until next time!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Monaco GP - Results

1. Two World Champions, two future World Champions and, um, two other guys - 357
2. Evel Marque - 354*
3. Bernie is a hobbit - 339
4. No Vices Now - 315
5= Hoping for an Indian Summer - 310
5= Torque of the Devil - 310
7. The Pitstop Princess - 305
8. Moneyball - 276
9. Slightly Slower Racing - 254
10 Beauty & the F1 Geek - 250
11. BOT-RAI-PER - 245
12= Jenson's Whinging Legacy - 240
12= Even More Hopeful - 240
14. Burn After Racing - 216
15. Hippy F1 - 203

Monaco GP - "Does it look comfortable?"


After being asked to guest-write this blog, I watched the full race and post-race reaction on All4 in the wee small hours of Sunday night. (I skipped the pre-race dinner with royalty, as I object to modern-day slavery…)

After a weekend where competitors spectacularly blew up in other sports (Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup, Chelsea gifting Arsene a new contract instead of the boot, Alonso – literally – in Indy, and ‘everyone else but the eventual winner’ in the PGA Championship), would the Monaco GP have the same drama?
No, of course not. For the most part, it was a procession, punctuated only by pit-stop leap-frogs, ‘optimistic’ passing attempts and some drivers forgetting how cold brakes and tyres work (i.e. they don’t).
Still, it was beautiful weather in a stunning backdrop, and Vettel’s (deserved) victory really sets up the remainder of the season, particularly the next race in Canada. Can we just assume it’ll be Mercedes’ to win? The frequency of their off weekends seems to be increasing…

There were some funny moments in the coverage too, notably:
· Jaw-dropping naivety from a 3-time world champion in qualifying: crashes are inevitable – get a time in, you arrogant idiot!
· Channel 4’s foreshadowing of a controversial winner with the #1984 pre-race segment;
· DC morphing into Donald Trump with his outrageous tan and genuine lines such as "I'm a big fan of beautiful ladies". Oh dear god. (The Sky Sports grid-walker obviously heard it too – she was all actual pointy elbows when DC was trying to steal an interviewee…)
· On the grid-walk, Webber asking Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Joleeeeeene – "What can you do, mate?" Really Mark? The answer is “Disappoint”, as usual;
· Button and Alonso’s radio love-in, which seemed genuinely warm… …like Button’s pee;
· Bottas’s dead-pan response to "Only if you're comfortable, strat6". Well played, sir, well played.
· Max confounding pundits with wit, grace and maturity after the race – "That's racing – today we were unlucky". Bet that’s not what he said in the motorhome, though…
· Beauty and the F1 Geek refusing to take her eyes off the screen and stopping her son from chatting to her with the putdown “Shhh Harry - it's Chris Hemsworth”. True story.
Speaking of the Hemsworth, both DC and Webber identified him as being the star of Thor (ummm, not Rush??) and Chris mentioned it was his first F1 race (ummm, not method then??).

As for the racing?
· Pity poor Perez, who gets caught behind Stroll and Palmer at the same time. Took him another 15-20 laps to eventually get past these duds. How long until they are replaced? Place your bets…
· At one point, the racing was so dull that the commentators start talking about how hard it is to man the pit boards during the Monaco GP. I don’t doubt this, but it’s certainly a new low for topics of discussion.
· However, all of this dullness was overshadowed by the frankly explosive 2 or 3 laps where Vettel and Ricciardo were unleashed and made their moves up the leaderboard. I was stunned and gripped by the on-board footage of these two hammering round such a twisty, tight course, millimetres from the barriers and taking 1 to 2 seconds off their previous times. Wow – just wow.

Actually, I’ll sign off on that theme. Anyone who doubts the talent or commitment of F1 drivers (in particular, ageing ones) should watch those laps and the Race of Champions 2017 highlights, also on All4. Button and DC were very competitive in ROC and Massa was genuinely bossing it, only getting DQ'd from the semis on a technicality...
Until next time!

Spain GP - Results

Now, I did write notes on the Spanish GP but they are incomprehensible at the time of typing.  The time of typing follows watching the actual race live as our son had been packed off to his grandparents as I was in labour.  Three weeks followed in which we were mainly in hospital with the New Son.  Now Son #2 is asleep and #1 is in nursery, so here is my window of opportunity and I can't for the life of me remember what happened in Barca.

1. Evel Marque - 298*
2. No Vices Now - 294
3. Bernie is a hobbit - 280
4= Torque of the Devil - 277
4= Hoping for an Indian Summer - 277
6. Two World Champions, two future World Champions and, um, two other guys - 274
7. The Pitstop Princess - 249
8. Moneyball - 233
9= Jenson's Whinging Legacy - 203
9= Slightly Slower Racing - 203
9= Even more hopeful - 203
12. Beauty & the F1 Geek - 199
13. BOT-RAI-PER - 187
14. Burn After Racing - 176
15. Hippy F1 - 166

*Home track played