Friday, December 17, 2010

Ferrari and Dr. Evil Have Become Neighbors

I suppose it was only a matter of time before Ferrari's true nature was revealed; and what better way to announce your evil intentions to the world than by opening a secret lair in an abandoned volcano.  Technically I suppose you wouldn't announce a "secret" lair.  And Technically it's not in an "actual" volcano, but that's really just nit-picking the details.

Ferrari has opened a new shop called the "Ferrari Pit Stop."  It's the next in a line of retail shops that the racing legend has opened around the world, but this one is a bit different.  Instead of selling everyday items at twice the price which have the black and yellow prancing horse emblazoned on the side, this store focuses on racing paraphernalia and equipment. 

The entire store is decked out to look just like the mechanic's bay for the F1 team.  Even the furniture looks like the traveling cases used to haul all of the equipment from race to race.  But included in the merchandise is genuine equipment for racing.  Whether you're a fan and want a souvenir, or a driver looking for serious some equipment, you can find it.

The shop is located in Nola at the foot of mount Vesuvius.  The building is knows as the Vulcano Buono; it is essentially just a large shopping center designed to resemble the real volcano that's just up the road.  So if you have plans to visit Italy, make sure you set aside some time to stop by and check it out.  If you go, keep an eye our for a Luca di Montezemolo "mini me" lurking in the shadows and Fernando walking around with a laser strapped to his head.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tom Walkinshaw Drives Off Into the Sunset

For those unfamiliar with Tom Walkinshaw, he was one of those figures in motor sports that seems to pop up in numerous places doing a multitude of important things.  In 1969 he took the Formula Ford championship.  In 1984, the European Touring Car Championship.  But Formula 1 fans know him best as the engineering director for Benetton during their heyday. 

Tom helped to set the stage for Michael Schumacher's first wins in F1 in 1994.  It was one of those magical times in F1 where you have just the right chemistry between the engineers, mechanics and drivers that can make a team great, and Tom was a big part of that.

He passed away this weekend after a long fight with lung cancer.  Do yourself a favor and read a bit about the great career of this seasoned veteran.  Somewhere, Steve Matchett wipes a tear from his eye. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Classic Livery Returns

Although the story is really pretty boring, it did result in a possible livery example for recently re-branded Lotus Renault GP team. 

I can't help but absolutely love this.  It reminds me of not only classic F1, but of Senna's early days and all things 70s.   I had a model Louts that I would push around the floor in my room as a kid and while I didn't know anything about F1 at the time, I just dug the open big wheels.

I find it a cool coincidence that it was the great Ayrton Senna's car little Fred was pushing around on the carpet.  Even back then I figured since it was sleeker than a stock car, it must have been faster, and it almost always won the imaginary race.   Rarely a LeMans car would surprise everyone with a photo-finish win in the last seconds.

While I'm not one who ascribes the status of "hero" to sports figures, movie stars, and the like, Senna's dedication, focus, and near-transcendent ability on the track is certainly inspirational. 

After learning about him in the early 90s, I became a fan and didn't realize until looking at this image that it was a Lotus car that I had parked in front of the Apollo-Soyuz model on my dresser.

The image is great for the memories it conjures up.  Now, where can I find a Red Bull model that isn't a choking hazard?

From the awesome awesomeness known as Autoblog.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

...And So It Begins... 2011 Technical Regulations Changes

Although there's been a bit of a lull here at F1-Geeks due to the holidays, we're still here and working to bring our slanted view to things. 

Over at the Formula One site they've got a brief summary of the changes to the regulations this year.  Adjustable rear wings, KERS, and Pirelli will all be seen in 2011. 

What we won't see are F-ducts and double diffusers.  It also looks like Petrov and Hulkenberg lost their drive. Kind of unfortunate for Hulkenberg.  Sort of saw that coming for Petrov.

Flavio still banned.

Check out the details here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gran Turismo Hosts Racing Contest, Nelson Piquet Jr. Offers To Go Link-Dead "If it will help"

If you thought there were enough reasons to pick up GT5, we've got one more for you.   GT5 kicks off their "Racing Academy" on December 6th.  

What's a GT 5 Racing Academy, you ask?  A series of time trials that eventually eliminate all but the fastest 32 racers.   Those guys go on to a live competition televised by Speed going from 32 to 16 who compete in various challenges to show they can kick all kinds of virtual ass.

When the final racer stands alone they're whisked off to a secret training camp (which I'm going to assume will contain a great deal of exercise equipment) where they'll get actual racer training and will get to compete at an actual race event. 

For all of us who've had the thought that begins with "If only..."  here's the chance.  And as long as Piquet isn't still grounded you might bump into him online.

From the good guys over at Destructoid.

Check out the big details here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

F1-Geeks Armchair Team Principle - Interlagos *Spoiler Alert*

Exactly 17 years to the day that Ayrton Senna won his last race, the spectacle once again unfolds in his home country Brazil.  Although already mentioned in our track analysis, it really is worth restating that while this is one of the oldest tracks in F1* it really has some sublime subtlety that makes it a joy to drive.

Tim's thoughts
I want to start off with a quick recognition of Nico Hulkenberg's astounding qualifying show.  I'm not going to go into a lot of detail here because I know Fred has some cool things to say about it.  But suffice it to say that everyone was impressed with the young lad's performance.  And on a wet track!!

I was really hoping that we'd see Nico defend his pole position through a few laps of the race, but alas, it was not to be.  Vettel deftly took him in the first corner and it was only a matter of time before Webber did the same.  I was surprised to see Alonso have as much trouble as he did getting around him, but eventually he displayed the kind of driving prowess we've come to expect and overtook him in the 4th lap (I might be off by one).  By then, the Red Bulls had gapped Alonso by nearly 10 seconds.  Christ, those guys are fast!

It didn't take long for Button to start complaining about his tires, and 12 laps in, he was looking to pit and get rid of the super softs.  To his credit, once he came back out on the primes, he drove the hell out of them for about 40 laps.

Once Alonso slotted in behind the Red Bulls, there wasn't much interesting up front.  All the good stuff was happening in the back of the field.  Last year when Kobayashi was driving for Toyota, he was a man possessed.  Kind of like he was this year in Japan.  He overtook 2 drivers in spectacular fashion down in turn one.  I remember thinking that he was absolutely going to go off, but stuck it like the tires were coated with glue.  This year, we saw 3 drivers pull the very same move on him, at the same corner!  It actually made me kind of sad.

In a move that still seems odd to me, it appeared as if Schumacher let his team mate go by.  I don't know if he had some sort of problem,  perhaps team orders were involved, or Rosberg obtained some compromising photos of Michael.  It was just so... strange.

I think the biggest topic to come from this race is Red Bull's decision to let the boys race and to let the chips fall where they may.  I'm sure I don't need to go into the gory details of how the points would have stacked up if Webber had taken first rather than Vettel.  But in standing by their lack of action they've done two things.  First, they've made it more difficult for either of their drivers to take the championship.  Obviously a win will be necessary, but then Alonso will have to finish back in the pack just so.  But second, they've avoided the media and FIA scrutiny of having dispensed team orders.

Alonso must have been absolutely incredulous hearing that Vettel was ahead, and nothing was happening to push Webber up.  As each lap counted down the championship just comes closer to within his grasp.  I'm not saying a Red Bull victory can't happen, but if I were one of the Red Bull drivers, I'd be trying to find out exactly what time of night I had to slaughter the chicken, and whether one voodoo doll of Alonso would do or if I'd need one for each eyebrow as well.

With the increasing certainty that everyone in the teams would eventually be robbed at gunpoint, or attacked, I'm sure they are all happy to be heading off to Abu Dhabi to close the season.

Fred's thoughts
Tim was right about qualifying.  It was one of the most enjoyable sessions this year.  I defy anyone with a soul to be disappointed with the results. 

The overwhelming positive response exposes the very core of the F1 community.  For all the competition, rivalry, espionage, exploits, tricks, secrecy and team orders, these people love the essence.  The point at which the driver, the machine, the track and the time all intersect.  When someone reaches an apex of performance so far beyond the rest of the field, no one can deny the beauty of that moment.  When it's someone who rises up unexpectedly from the middle of the group, you not only wish them well, but admire their achievement against the obstacles the front runners don't have.  You are reminded that regardless of their season results, any of these men can achieve greatness.  

Even when the performance disadvantages you personally, your love of the essence appreciates that moment.  More so than any outsider can because you know exactly what it takes to do.   Watch the interviews after qualifying.  Watch the moments during the weighing.   Everyone felt some joy at what Nico had done.  Vettel could not contain his immense pleasure at the result and neither could Mr. Crankypants.   It's too bad it took an entire season of set-up for this payoff to work, it would convert many skeptics.

As Tim covered earlier, there wasn't much going on up front.   I found it interesting that Hamilton was completely unhappy with his car.  Perhaps the pressure got to him.   Red Bull Racing winning the constructor's championship after only 6 years of effort is incredible.  Remembering that this was Jordan, then Jaguar, before it was Red Bull.  Even after it was Red Bull, they were not taken very seriously.   Good on them.  Is this all Newey's genius?  Horner's ability to form a team?  Probably both.  The underdog did it and I couldn't be happier for them.  

Now on to Abu Dhabi to decide the champion.

*70 years since it's birth, it's been modified a few times and in its current configuration it's about 20 years old.

Why We Like Red Bull Racing

Editor's Note:  This post was written well before F1-Geeks watched the last race of the season.   While we hope the precepts and assumptions about RBR hold true, it may very well be that they stabbed us all in the collective eye.   We hope not, but when you timeshift, you can look more wrong than normal.

Eyebrow voodoo aside, I'm going to agree with Tim that Red Bull Racing's decision to not put Webber first in Brazil may not appear to be in their best interests.   Given my usually cynical outlook on things I started to wonder why RBR would not give themselves the very best possible chance for one of their drivers to win the championship.

Purity.  Integrity.  Pride.

It occurred to me, they have won the constructors and that should clearly indicate they have provided the best possible car to their drivers.  They have acheieved the highest level in the constructors' contest and they've done this by essentially remaining as pure to the intent and spirit of racing as possible.   From a purist's perspective they make the car, the drivers drive the car.   Yes, I understand there is a lot of overlap there but if you are going to draw a line, that's where it is.

Last year the rules around a rear difuser were unspecified enough that many teams developed it, but it was clear the intent was to restrict development there.  RBR didn't outfit their vehicles with it until Spain when it was absolutely clear that it was allowed.  I know some of you may be thinking, the rules didn't say they were not allowed to run a diffuser so it was OK to do it.  The rules also haven't said you can't seduce your rivals mother and then taunt him with that fact.   That doesn't mean it's OK to do.

No team orders always means teammates will fight for wins and championship points.   RBR's decision also kept other drivers in the hunt.  Did they do this to keep other drivers in the hunt?  No.   Did they do this because their job is to support their drivers, their team, their series, and ultimately their sport.  Yes.   A four way possibility is great for F1.  This is supposed to be the pinnacle. Not the WWF.  Yes, I know those guys actually hit each other with chairs and slam each other down on the canvas but that's not the point.  The outcome is predetermined by elements outside of the contestants.   When that happens in F1 people react.   Webber or Vettel's championship will actually mean more to more people (even the cynics) if it is won without team orders.   If Vettel sees that he's got no hope, and makes the decision to better his team himself, then I have no problem with him moving aside.   His decision.  The combatant's decision is the only acceptable one.   Neither Christian Horner nor Rob Smedley have any idea what it means to concede that.   Vettel would, Webber would, Massa does.  Only then is that decision valid.

Letting the drivers decide via contest and honor is the only way races should be decided.  I posit that doing any more ruins that spirit.  The end does not justify the means.  To RBR, the challenge is the challenge.  You can't work outside the confines of the rules (even if you don't get caught) because that that point, it's not the same contest.   How can you say you are better than some team that had to rely on trickery, subterfuge, or mom-seduction to win?

The means mean something to these guys.  They aren't going to reach their gnarled bony paw, skin dirty from the earth wherein they spend their days,  veins hollowed and withering with the loss of joy of the race, flesh black with the rot of "any means necessary", with a palsy evinced only in the soulless, and ever so slowly press the comm-link button to say "You're slower than ... you should be.  Be a dear boy..."

At that point they become Ferrari or McClaren, and isn't that exactly why we love Red Bull Racing?  Because they aren't those guys?

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Mod Pushing a Car

We've all seen Mods pushing their cars before.  After all, they tend to prefer older, stylish models that aren't necessarily that reliable.  But this is a bit different.   Fans of the Jam, or the Style Council will get a kick out of this.

Paul Weller, head man for those two iconic bands has lent his support, and styling prowess to an organization called War Child.  He's designed a Mini Cooper that is being auctioned off to raise money for the charity which aims to protect children that live in war zones.

While the auction is taking place in the UK, and the bids are in British Pounds, I'm sure any Yank who wanted it could place a bid.  You'll just have to haul it over to the states if you win.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

F1-Geeks Track Analysis - Interlagos AKA Autódromo José Carlos Pace


You can't mention Brazil without thinking of Senna.  And I can't think of Senna without feeling a bit of loss.  As odd as it may sound, Brazil will always be a favorite of mine for the sentimentality.

Well, there is also that huge curve taken at 100% throttle.

Excellent elevation changes and corner variety raise this track to another level.  It is wonderful to (virtually) race on and is firmly cemented as one of my favorite tracks in the series.

After spending some time at virtual Interlagos, I've come to realize that this track requires a lot more finesse and subtlety than I ever realized.   Let's get on with it...

The Start/Finish straight is nice and long with enough landmarks to help you gauge the braking for turn one.  And you must get this right.  The track slopes away from you as you brake into the Senna "S".   Two things to keep in mind here.

If you get a wheel on the grass while battling for the corner, you're done.   Off without hope of a decent recovery.  You'll also run into your first drivers paradox here.  You want to whip the thing left so you can stomp on the accelerator through turn 2 but the window is very small.  This corner makes you think you have slowed enough to turn and ease off the brake.  Chances are, you haven't slowed enough and if you do lift, you'll easily find yourself in the grass.

When you do get it right you can manage Turn 2 with just the throttle and a cheeky grin. 

Turn 2 doesn't look as sharp as it is and the Curva do Sol isn't as sharp as it looks* so you can go full throttle the whole way and you rocket onto the back straight.

"Pwn"** the curb on the inside of turn 4 and you can quickly go flat out through 5.   The sequence of 6 through 10 starts out deceptively fast.  Nail the braking for the entry to 6 and you can manage through 6 and 7 with medium speed and throttle control.  Turn 8, like it's slower cousin, turn 10, requires you slow way down after being flat out.

I recall a Top Gear episode where Richard Hammond was being chastised by a Renault race engineer for not being on and off the throttle fast enough.   According to him, the telemetry should show no "ramp" up or down.   I am reminded of that every time through this sequence.  On, off, on, off.... then finally, through 11 you can let fly and muscle the car through to the entrance to 12 where you are hard on the brakes.

Again, you have to brake here earlier than you want to.  12 took me a while to get down and I'm still not happy with it.  I just couldn't get it consistent.  I found braking too early was much easier to recover from than braking too late.   You will lose some revs that you'll want on the exit but it's better than the grass.

You're flat out now through 13, 14, and 15.   15 seems to me to have the same issue with pit entry that everyone was crying about in Korea.  It's an interesting part of the circuit in both cases and they shouldn't change either.

Then you're rocketing past the pit entrance knowing that this lap is almost over and you want this part to go on forever.  

Alas, all things must end, my friend...


*The Curve of the Sun, named for the fact that when the circuit ran in the opposite direction, drivers were blinded "as if driving into the sun".  Although they changed the direction,  the name stayed. 
**If you don't know the etymology of "pwn" you lose points for not being as geeky as you probably should be.  On the other hand, you gain bonus points for not living through the inanity of it's birth.

Monday, November 8, 2010

New tech not really that new...

As you know by now, we don't just talk about Formula 1 here. Anything particularly geeky, cool, or tech can and will be subject to our musings. Now, if it's particularly old it's even more interesting.

Check this out. Over 100 years ago Nicholus II commissioned a photographer to use his special camera to take photographs of the Russian empire.

What's interesting here is that color photography as we know it was pretty much just being invented and certainly wasn't out and about in the field. Using a technique invented by physicist and mathematician James Maxwell, photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii took photographs that are so vivid it's hard to believe they are over 100 years old.

What's interesting to me is that this is basically the same technique digital cameras use today. Capturing an RGB image with what amounts to black and white sensors with color filters in front of them.

Check out the write up at here.

Alternatively, you could browse through the entire 2607 image collection at the Library Of Congress here.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Odd F1

I stubled across this photo and couldn't help but imagine the planning meeting for this...
"Guys, we need something different for this Ferrari shoot."
"I said, 'different'."
"Ugly Models!"
"Hold on a minute.  I think you're on to something there."
"Ugly Male Models!"
"Liking this!  But it needs something more...."
"Kimi being throttled by the members of Kiss!"
"Can we almost completely obscure the car?!?"
"Of course!"
"Money!!!  Nice job.   Oh, and make sure Peter Criss looks like he doesn't want to be there."
Formula 1 Grand Prix, Australia, Thursday
"That's not Peter Criss."

First RockBand Controller Worth The Money

Coming March '11, this Fender made game controller will give RockBand guitarists what the drummers have had the whole time; a fun way to learn the mechanics of actually playing the instrument.  

It's not going to impart "feel", style, subtlety or creativity even, but for those of us who are musically inclined but find practicing an instrument a monumental drag, this will definitely help.

Yes, it's 280 bucks.  It's an actual electric guitar, people.  You can plug this guy into an amp and play Freebird for real.

Pick this thing up with the keyboard bundle and you'll be set.
Now, where is that RockBand Bluegrass edition?

Proof That Pac Man Roamed The Earth Millions Of Years Ago

Makes  you wonder what grisly fate befell our mono-operandi hero.  My guess is a Vesuvius type disaster as it would appear he was in mid chomp.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Second Take on "Top Gear Comes to America"

Before I start, I should make something perfectly clear.  I need to do this because I think it might color my take on the American Version of Top Gear, and I think everyone should be aware of this potential bias.  I'm old.  Not "where's my AARP card?" old, but by internet standards, ancient.  Mid 40's.

In an earlier post Fred explained his reservations about the state-side version of TG, and I have to tell you, I agree with him.  But I'd like to take it a step further, and to do that I think I need to explain what I think it is that makes the UK TG so good.

First, you have 3 middle age guys (my age) whizzing around in high end sports cars (what any man my age would like to be doing) giving their opinions as to what makes each good or bad.  Often humorous, sometimes hyperbolic, but always entertaining.  Why is this so?  Well, I think in part, it's because they've started with intelligent people who are old enough to have gained the life experiences necessary to be able to relate their experiences in a well thought out, creative manner.

During their challenges and stunts, they're like 14 year old boys who've been given license to misbehave, and they relish in the opportunity.  And they take us along for the ride.  Every asinine trick they play on each other, every ill-conceived idea, comes from that license to be mischievous.  It is because you know this is a departure from their normal stodgy British life that it makes it so much fun to watch.

The US TG crew are guys in their late 20's early 30's tops.  They're only a short hop away from having been one of those 14 year old boys.  Based on what I've seen, I'm not so sure they've ever stopped acting like 14 year old boys to start with.  In short, they are missing the life experience that makes a step back to that mindset a glorious and yet silly trip.  Their always teetering on the edge of that mindset anyway!  You won't be coming along for a special ride, you'll simply be witnessing their normal behavior.  The difference might be subtle, but I think it's meaningful.

During the tests of high end super cars I'm afraid what we're going hear a lot of high pitched yells of "wooooo", and shouts of "that was awesome!"  Afterward, we'll be treated to lots of fist pumps, high fives, and knuckle bumps and even more declarations of  "dude, that was awesome".  Hardly inspiring and generally the type of thing associated with people I tend to avoid.

One of the funniest things I ever heard Jeremy Clarkson say was when he was talking about the Audi R8, and how smooth it handled:  "It's like smearing honey on Kira Knightly."  We'll never hear anything so clever or evocative from Tanner Faust.  Instead, we'll hear "Whoa, this is sick."

Should I lighten up?  Probably.  Am I a stick in the mud?  I'm afraid so.  Are we likely to be uninspired and left wanting by US TG?  Man, I hope not.  But I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Top Gear comes to America and I'm not sure that's good news...

Tonight I saw my first commercial for Top Gear USA coming to the history channel.   Initially thinking it was just going to be the BBC series rebroadcast (maybe in HD) I was happy to see it spreading.   When the voiceover proclaimed, "The Gear Heads are here!" I became concerned and thought I should look into it.

You see, "The Gear Heads are here!" sounds like a bad translation.  As if the original voice over had been translated into German, Japanese, and finally Polish, before being changed back to English.  In other words, it seems to be a poor attempt of conveying the spirit of Top Gear.

After looking into it, my skepticism was not unfounded.   Adam Ferrara, Tanner Foust, and Rutledge Wood will host.  Yeah... Exactly my thought as well.

Anyway, maybe it will turn out to be great.   Maybe.  My expectations are low.  This is after all, a medium that cancelled the first iteration of TG USA because the new Knight Rider series sucked.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gran-Turismo 5 Lets Go With Some Screenshots. Sony:1, Willpower:0

"What's this?"
I'm glad you asked.  Here, my friends, are the downforce stats for the non-existent but totally cool Red Bull X1.

This baby and an "X1 Challenge" level was revealed this Thursday to be yet one more reason to pick up Grand Turismo 5 this holiday season.

You know you're on to something good when the reveal starts with "In a world where modern professional racing is restricted by regulations..."
Good god, people, how awesome is that?

It gets better though, this thing was initially designed by game designers and they managed to get the interest of Red Bull Racing.   You know what that means; Adrian Newey, RedBull's CTO.  Generally regarded as a master aerodynamicist and regularly referred to as genius, Mr. Newey figured this is a great chance to play around with "fan car" technology and make Red Bull look ultra cool in the process.

Mr. Newey, (Dr. Dri, if you see him in the clubs) added a large fan to the rear of the body in order to pull (or push) air out form underneath at a rapid rate.   If you know anything about air, then you know that when it moves fast, it just doesn't have the time to exert pressure.   The result?  Massive downforce even at slow speeds.

Mr. Newey also worked on the design of the front and rear wings and rear diffuser, bumping up the top speed from just under 250MPH to slightly under to 280MPH  and giving it the ability to pull 8.75G in a corner.   

Virtual Vettel (VV) just after Virtual Webber walked by.

To illustrate the effectiveness, they had Sebastian Vettel take this thing out at (simulated) Suzuka where he beat the course record by over....

wait for it....

Twenty Seconds.

Just let that sit there for a second and savor it.   This thing would start lapping F1 cars (if they were ALL driving at record pace) in about 6 laps.   The man drove Nurburgring in 1:04!

This thing is just beautiful and makes me pine for a reality where technology was unbridled, Mark Webber received at least one penalty, and Ayrton Senna was still with us.

Check out the entire reveal and more screenshots here. Don't miss the video** at the top of the page with Vettel talking about the car and using a Gran-Turismo racing wheel just like the one F1-Geeks uses.

 *How slight?  Just about the size of Jenson Button's chances of winning the championship this year.
**Complete with Gran-Turismo freaky lounge music.

Friday, October 29, 2010

F1-Geeks Armchair Team Principle - Yeongam *Spoiler Alert*

Time for the F1-Geeks to review the Yeongam Race.  I can't speak to much on the neutrality of the information below as it may be colored by our personal opinions, but here goes...

Tim's thoughts

So, we started the race behind the safety car because the race stewards said the wet conditions really dictated it.  I think we can all agree that it was likely due to the slippery nature of a track that was less than a week old.  I'm not complaining, just saying they should call it like it is.  Were they trying to help Korea "save face"?  Think back a couple of years ago at Silverstone when it was just as wet and Massa did a pirouette on each and every lap like it was a requirement of his contract.

Anyway, 17 arduously slow laps later and they turned the boys loose.  The excitement began with Webber careening off the track and taking out poor Nico Rosberg along for the way.  That really sucked for Nico.  He'd just managed to make a great pass on Hamilton, which went largely unnoticed, which put him in exactly the wrong spot at the wrong time.

Fear not for Webber, his streak remains intact though.  He's taken 5 drivers out of different races so far this year and has still received no penalties.  Unlike Vettel whom we were all certain would get a drive through when Mark went off.  After all, and you can't deny it, Sebastian was on the track at the time.*

The race proceeded like we all expected; lots of offs, and plenty of safety car laps.

The pit stop with Alonso and Hamilton was pretty exciting.  It was tough watching Ferrari fumble with the wheel nut as Alonso sat desperately wanting to get out of the box.  In the end, it cost him the position and Hamilton moved into second.  But then of course Louis managed to give it right back on the very next lap as he went wide on turn one.  That mistake cost him big time in the end.  Had he kept the position, he would be down by only 7 points in the championship instead of 21.

But of course, the most heart wrenching incident of the race was watching Vettel's engine give up the ghost, with only a few laps remaining in the race.  If I'm not mistaken, this makes three races that he would have likely won, but ended up with a DNF due to mechanical failure.  Of course, the stewards will decide at a later time when to impose a drive through penalty to him for having carelessly spread bits of shrapnel all over the course.*

Over all, I have to say I liked the course.  Some good challenging turns and that straightaway that seems to go on forever... I'm looking forward to next year's race when the track is bedded down a bit more.

Fred's View
Well, you would be hard pressed to say this was an exciting race.  It wasn't boring, but it became laborious.   Worse is that we watched it in the evening, on a weeknight, next to a chloroform factory. 

I was really looking forward to turn one at speed.  With the rain, I figured it was going to be very exciting.  Then the safety car (which I totally understand.  I don't want to get nasty emails from the 2.5 people who follow this blog.)... so the safety car killed the excitement of the first lap.   Actually, the first score of laps as Tim mentioned.

Then Mark Webber spins and I'm thinking, "Well, OK, that's a positive."**  Then he takes out Rosberg which was not cool at all.***  There is a point being made here that Webber could have stopped and intentionally drifted over to try and collect Button or Hamilton.   Gerhard Berger, close friend to none other than Ayrton Senna de Silva (who once super glued Berger's credit cards together in retaliation for an act, while not fit for retelling here, makes me laugh every time I think of it), stated that Webber's move across the track was completely preventable.  Given Webber's popularity at F1-Geeks, we're going to side with Berger on this one.

Lots of bumping around this Sunday. Truli into Senna,  Buemi into Glock, and Kobayashi all over the place.

Things looked to be working out the way Vettel needed them to.  He's able to pull away from Alonso and when Ferrari had a problem with a wheel nut on Alonso's car, Vettel's race was shaping up well for him, until, on lap 46 of 55, his engine let go.

   Since "Eyebrows" was going to now win it without challenge, the inaugural race lost some of it's magic.   As much as I love Alonso, I was a little bummed out that RedBull completely imploded here.

The last 4 laps are a complete mystery to me as I actually fell asleep with 5 to go.   A first for me, but this was the longest F1 race in the last 50 years.****

In the end, while I was saddened the real excitement of this track will have to wait until next year, I still enjoyed the race and think Korea did a damn fine job.

That's how we saw the race.  If I was running RedBull racing, I'd have had Vettel ease back on the revs once his lead was established.   He could always pick it up if he needed to but pushing that hard could not have been easy on the engine. 

Next up, Brazil.
*OK, this is a bit of an inside joke with us.  If Sebastian so much as looks cross-eyed at the stewards, he seems to get a drive through penalty.
**As mentioned prior, it's become fashionable to hate on Webber at F1-Geeks.  We're convinced he's a great guy but.. you gotta hate on someone and we don't got Nelson Piquet Jr to kick around anymore.
***Rosberg's blindfolded track tracing was what made me a fan.  The fact that he hasn't crumbled under the weight of his Loki incarnate teammate gets him much respect.
**** Apparently 51 years ago, Formula 1 had to go to it's cousin's friend's graduation ceremony because there was going to be "a kick ass party with some chicks" after and ended up sitting with this kid's mom for the whole thing.  Let me tell you, that took forEVER.   Seriously, though, considering they were still racing deep into the woods at the Nürburgring back then, this fact is pretty stunning.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Where's the Bumper Cars?

In a move that is bound to bring Fred an enormous amount of joy, it has been announced that Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi is finally open to the public.  Sitting right next to the official F1 circuit on Yas island is the largest indoor amusement park in the world.

There are a variety of driving and racing themed activities available to you. G-Force, which will accelerate you straight up and let you experience 3.8G.  Or to give you a sensation of what it's like to drive in an F1 car, there's Formula Rossa.  It's basically a roller coaster that accelerates you from 0-100 km/h in 2 seconds, makes turns of up to 70°, and reaches speeds of 240 km/h all on a track just over 2 kilometers*.  I have to admit, that sounds pretty fun.

There are also plenty of activities for the kiddies, and even more opportunities to spend you're hard earned ducats on officially licensed Ferrari gear. So make your way to the UAE, with $60 in hand and you too can enjoy the Disney-ized version of Ferrari.

*For the full Ferrari F1 experience, press the button on your fake steering wheel to hear Rob Smedley tell you that you need to let the car behind you pass.  

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Favorite Electronics Product Warnings

I love getting new electronics.   Aside from the initial joy of the device is the bonus warning symbols.

Although they have been around for a few years I still find them comical.  These are my favorites:

According to these, you will have much anguish if you put the bag over your head and throttle yourself at the same time.   I can appreciate, in his quest to get some oxygen, the adult figure has snuck past the "prohibited" diagonal bar.   As if there was better air on this side of the bag.   Technically, there is.

The entire baby, (including bag on head) is not allowed.  Although the diaper situation seems to be OK.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

F1-Geeks Track Analysis - Yeongam

Part permanent, part temporary, the newest circuit to join the F1 calendar looks to be a good time.  Not much by way of history here so let's jump right into lap.

Turn one is going to be a mess.  I'm telling you now, it's deceptively sharp and has no damn room at all.  You have got to go into it wide so you can make a good exit for turn 2 (which is barely a flick of the wheel to the left) then you are on a pretty spooky straight.*  Creeped me out every time and about 50% of the time I would brake way to soon, realize my mistake, jump on the gas, brake too late, and then I'm on the run-off.

This track really asks you to attack the curbs, it's pretty cool when you get it right and surprising in how quickly it punishes you when you get it wrong.  One of the great things here is that the run-off areas contain a lot of pavement.  Saved me plenty of times.

Turn 3 is very slow but for some reason, easier to work out than turn 1.  Bit of a breather here as you fade right to cut the apex as shallow as you can for the first of a left right left sequence through which I had to keep remindimg myself to use the gas very sparingly. 

If you make it out of 6 OK then you get to stomp on it and see if you can go through 7 flat out.   This turn reminded me a lot of one of my favorite corners in all of F1, Eau Rouge, and while I could manage through 8 if I screwed up 7, nailing 7 was so cool that I often blew 8 completely.   With a little practice this should be a fun sequence.

9 is fairly tricksy as it looks like 8 but is much tighter.  I expect to see many offs here in practice.

Turn 10 slows you down a lot but sets you up for a nice series of corners through 15 that you can attack agressivly if your nerve holds.

15 is much slower than it looks and hitting 16 right is cirtical to have a good time through the next sequence.   You mess it up, you're practically head on into a wall and that's exactly what I did.  This is the first time I crashed and sustained enough damage that I could not continue the session.  Since I'm trying to make it as realistic an experience as possible**, I stopped practice and didn't get more laps in.  Kind of a drag but I do get another session.
If you do, however, get this right, you're turning right fairly hard accelerating really hard.  Straining the whole time until you snap the car onto the start/finish straight.  It feels cool and you will love the way it ends.  When done right it feels like a slingshot.

*I call this the Spooky Haunted By Two Creepy Dead Girls Redrum Hallway of Longness + 4.  I mean, really, this thing is long.  And it's spooky because you think it's going to end and then it seems to extend right before your eyes. 
**I also have a cardboard cutout of Nelson Piquet Jr. who I throw scraps of food at.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Objet d'Arte: Red Bull Style

If you've ever dreamed of owning a piece of a Formula 1 car, you're in luck.  If you've ever dreamed of owning a piece of a Formula 1 car that has been turned into a piece of art, you'll be ecstatic.  But, if what you really wanted was for that piece of art to be a functional object as well, then you're about to experience nirvana.

Red Bull Racing has announced a project that is one of the coolest things I've seen in a while.  Behold...

That my friends, is a lamp made from different gear elements from a Red Bull gearbox.  They point out that these elements spin at over 18,000 RPM when in use.  But there's more!  Salt and pepper anyone?

Another part of the gear box, filters this time, turned into nifty condiment dispensers, held in place by a beautifully machined segment of a carbon disk pad (not shown in this image).   Those are all will and nice, but check out this piece; an end table with a chromed, polished header.

These truly are beautiful objects, but there are several more to see, each more beautiful than the next.  Curiously, they don't mention the price of these pieces, but their used parts, so they can't be that much.  Right?  Take a walk on over to their Racing Gold site, and enjoy the catalog.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Schumacher's First Championship Benneton For Sale

Check this out.  From super ultra luxury item blog, James Spotting (The official blog of JamesList where you can buy and sell all kinds of crazy luxury items.), comes news that reminds us of the hardest hit in this economy, the ultra rich.   Imagine if you will the sorrow, angst, suffering and anguish of the poor gentlemen who must now sell his prized possession just to make the payments on his 18,000 sq ft house.   Oh money gods, how cruel, thou art.

For the bargain price of one and a half million Euros, this baby can be yours.  Clearly an important piece of racing history as it is the car Mr. Schumacher won his first F1 championship in.  More importantly, you can still see Steve Matchett's initials carved into the legality plank.*

Probably not a bad investment as you have to figure someone will pay 3 million for it eventually.  So what are you waiting for?  Pick this thing up and park it next to Pussy Galore's heli**.

*No, you can't.  But for an extra 500 large, why not pay Steve to come out, sign it himself and tell you some cool stories about that time?
** Also for sale at James List.

On a special super geeky side note, my GPS informs me I'm travelling about 430 mph at just under 36,000 ft.  Oh technology, how I do love thee so.

Friday, October 15, 2010

What time is it? Formula One time!!!

So the awesomeness of this can not be denied.  I hated really did not like very much at all but totally respected Prost, but would have this on my mantle (had I a mantle) without hesitation.  Way too expensive for me but awesome nonetheless.  Tag Heuer F1 Clocks up for sale at Bonhams along with other Tag gear.

More images after the break.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

F1-Geeks Armchair Team Principle - Suzuka *Spoiler Alert*

This post kicks off what will be a regular column of post race analysis by the team here at F1-Geeks.   Our plan is rather complex so I'll lay it out for you here.

F1-Geeks watch race.
F1-Geeks have feelings about it.
F1-Geeks write it down as if it was important to others.
Others clamor with unbridled joy at the ensuing enlightenment.
Star Wars is released on BluRay in the original 1977 version.*

Fred's thoughts
Suzuka was great for many things.  The rain delay drama, Vettel's great drive, Webber not crashing into anyone and the weather held so we got to see some great racing.

At the top for me was Kobyashi's manic genius under braking.  I always thought he could do better than he has and perhaps it's more about his car's performance than anything else but he's disappointed when compared to the first few drives of his career.

I was, however not thrilled with Kubica's wheel problem.

My most amusing post race comment was from Mercedes as they were pleased because "Michael was the first car to finish after the 5 championship contenders".  Well, I suppose that's a positive way to look at it.

All in all a decent fun race from my perspective but I would have loved to have Kubica battling through the whole race.

Tim's Thoughts
It was fantastic to see Vettel take pole and ultimately win the race, even if it was more or less a procession.  The front runners pretty much just followed each other through the whole race.  But I'm not complaining, I rather enjoyed it.

It was a shame to see 4 drivers taken out on the first lap.  Two before the first corner even.  Petrov better be careful, or Renault may start pursuing Kimi for real.

Apparently Kobyashi was possessed by the spirits of Suzuka and the net result was inspired insanity.  Let's hope he's back to his peak form.  I love watching him when he throws caution to the wind.

Speaking of the spirits of Suzuka, there appears to be a new one.  I believe the Japanese will refer to him as "Taiya Dorobō," the tire thief.  He managed to force Kubica and Rossberg to retire early as each had one of their wheels just magically fly off the car.  Apparently that's the only way Michael can finish ahead of Nico.  (Doh!)

I thought Hamilton did a pretty amazing job considering he had one fewer gear than everyone else. 

Over all, I thought it was a great race.  Beautiful circuit, great weather and good results.  What really would have made it awesome was if the great spirit Dorobō San had decided to lay his hand upon Webber's car as well.

*Han shot first.

PS3 Frees Itself From the Recursive Irony of Doom

The fine, fine, folks at Engadget HD have dropped some knowledge on something that should leave PS3 owners weeping with joy and a feeling of superiority not felt since the "It can play Blu-Rays" days.

On the 18th of this month, PS3 owners will never have this conversation again:
"Hey let's watch Netflix on the PS3!"
"OK cool, you got a movie in the mail?"
"No, you don't need the disc.  You just watch it streaming online!"
"Awesome!  What are you doing?"
"Just putting in the disc that we need to watch movies without a disc."

Never having to see your significant other give you that look again isn't the best part.  The best part is that this update also brings surround sound to the stream and 1080p.  Other platform updates are supposedly in the works but those owners will likely have to suffer a cold and lonely winter of discontent without plans to be made glorious any time soon.  Poor souls...

Checkout the original post here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Anyone But Webber

OK.  So I'm sure he's a nice guy with a nice wife and probably even has very nice huge-jawed kids.   I'm also sure that I would not be happy with him as an F1 champion. 

You're saying to yourself, "You just hate all Aussies because we have beautiful beaches, blonds, and "bar-b's".   Well, yes, those are things to be jealous of and somewhat irritated by, but you forgot Paul Hogan, Yahoo Serious and Mel Gibson.*  OK, I'll conceed Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman.**  Hell, I'll even give you Russel Crowe and the hot girl from Chuck.***   AND You've got to have some serious skills to stick around in Australia.  Great white sharks. Saltwater crocs.  Just laying about the place.  Let's not even get into your invertabrates. Box jellyfish, anyone?  You meet one of those guys and you're dead in three minutes.****  No, no, my friend.  Australia kicks ass.

It's just that Mark doesn't seem to.   Yeah, he's there.  He's consistent.   But he never pulls off the heroic moves.  When he's in the back, he stays there.   When he's in the front, he's willing to risk his position to force other drives to crash into him.  Most of his moves seem to be him being as unsportsmanlike as possible and getting away with it.  Hell, he couldn't even pass a much slower Heikki on straight as wide as a California highway.

While most of this post is just in fun and Webber seems like a pretty decent guy.  There's no spark there.  No inspiration.  No message other than "see what you can get away with".  And that's the problem.  It won't be as if he fought for the championship and took it.  It'll feel a lot like he just got away with it.

*Before you go on about how I'm just jumping on the "Mel sucks" bandwagon, it's not true.  I actually like the guy and when you make an ass-load of money, you get to be a bit of a lunatic.  I'm just tired of watching him get tortured in every single film he makes.
** Although her prior marriage renders her suspect from the outset.
***Technically, she's Polish.
**** These things are responsible for more deaths, than snakes, sharks, and saltwater crocs, combined.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rockband Pre-Orders and You!

If you are planning on buying RB3, there's no reason not to pre-order.   Pre-orders get some bonuses based on where it's ordered from.  Here's a quick breakdown of the three campaigns for your edification.

Gamestop is a bit of a dilemma for me.  I am regularly revolted by their employees' "Hey I know way more about video games than you, heathen." attitude. 

While I totally understand the human need to display "not lamer than thou" on a constant basis (especially if you work retail) it really really irritates me.*  I am however, just as often engaged in a satisfying conversation from one who loves this hobby to another.  

Social awkwardness and poignant camaraderie aside, GameStop is offering three downloadable songs with their pre-order.
Blue Monday - New Order
Burning Down The House - Talking Heads
My Own Summer - Deftones
Not an entirely unreasonable offer here if you like at least one of those songs.

Goes in a completely different direction for their pre-order.  If you pre-order from Amazon you'll be the proud owner of...  wait for it...  an exclusive in-game guitar. In my opinion, this is incredibly stupid. They do ,however, sweeten the deal with $10 off a future video game purchase.  Slightly better, still lame. ** 

Walmart goes as Walmart has always gone: no-nonsense.  They'll shove a $10 gift card in your hand and get your ass out the door.   Cold, monolithic, and impersonal? Perhaps. 

Yet, your self-esteem would be spared the possibly damaging conversation between your ID and SuperEgo.
"Really?  You're going to actually download that thing?"
"Me want see it."
"I know you want to see it but you've seen it already in the ad."
"Only digital picture.  Me want see it real."
"Sweetheart, you're downloading a digital picture."
"Shut up!  Me SEE IT NOW!"
"Doesn't look any different, does it?"
"Now what are you going to do when your friends come over and see you actually downloaded that thing?"
"Me kill them and take xbox."
"No. You'll just pee your pants again like last time."

Which deal appeals to you the most?

*Much like double adverbs for emphasis
**But, since we do make site supporting revenue from Amazon if you order something from them, can we suggest F1 2010?

Coffee, Tea or GHAAA!

As you know, it takes a lot of money to be involved in F1. Most of the team's owners have day jobs in which they own shipping empires or the like. It so happens that two of them own airlines. I'm referring to Sir Richard Branson of Virgin fame (Racing and Airlines), and Tony Fernandes of Lotus F1 and Air Asia.

Earlier in the year Fernandes said that if Virgin beat them in the championship race, at the end of the year, he'd quit Formula One and kill himself. Seems extreme, but who are we to judge. Branson, being a bit more level headed, proposed something a bit different; loser works as a server on a flight of the other's airline. To which Fernandes responded "Bring it on, the sexier the better."

I'll tell you, in some ways, I'm more interested in the outcome of this little contest than I am in the championship. The championship will likely be won by Red Bull, Ferrari or McLaren blah blah blah... with millions of dollars at stake blah blah... But this, this means something! Those two will move heaven and earth to see they don't lose. Men send their countries to war to avoid lesser indignities!

Some unsuspecting businessman, on his way home from an exhausting trip is going to be shocked out of his seat when Sir Richard Branson bends over and asks him which beverage he'd like to enjoy. What a great flight that would be.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Spock's Buick

It's not new and has nothing to do with Formula One but there is all kinds of geeky coolness here...
Leonard Nimoy and his 1964 Buick Rivera.  Look at the turn signals on this thing.

I'd like to find one of these as a HotWheels car.  Unfortunately they've only released lowered modified versions.  The first release year was 2002 and while they've released at least one each year since none have been stock. 

I'm really starting to dig this car in both it's stock and custom versions.  Here is a slide show for your amusement. Full screen highly recommended. Enjoy.

The more I see this thing the better it looks.  I suppose Mr. Spock may have heard that once or twice.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Somone with too much time on their hands? No.

This is awesomeness and a perfect example of why Nascar is inferior*.

Now if he could recreate the sounds 211 mph eyebrows , we'd have something here.

*Look, we don't hate on Nascar.  I actually think its kind of cool with all of the big engine noise, beer, and baseball hats but even I could play a Nascar lap on a guitar.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sometimes it does your heart good…

If you don’t instantly like this kid, something is wrong with you...

From Motorsport’s coverage of Thursday

Take it easy, man! Seriously.

The good guys over at WTF1 (love that name by the way) dug up an awesome Japanese commentary video from about 15 years ago.  Apparently the Japanese had no words for "side by side" or "crash".    How do I know this?   Those were the only words I could understand.  

Still, even in Japanese this is great.

Check out WTF1's original post.

Here's a piece of trivia for you guys.  Who won the 1996 Formula Nippon Championship when their closest competitor slid into the gravel in the wet?  Here's a hint, he went on to race in Formula One where he was a key element in the 2005 race in Indy consisting of only 6 cars and he is shown at the end of the video.

Bonus question:  What were the G forces measured for the impact of his crash a year before?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Formula 1 in 3D?

Apparently Direct TV has decided to air the last few Formula Drift events for the year in 3D. Aside for a subscription to Direct TV you're going to need a 3Dcapable TV and the stylish glasses to enjoy the event.

So the question is, how far away can Formula 1 be from adopting this? Could we see it next season? After all, F1 is all about technology. I thought they were pretty quick in putting HD cameras on the cars. It's only a hop away from putting a camera with two lenses on the car. How awesome would it be to sit in the cockpit with Vettel while he laps Spa?

Mark Webber says he's not the favorite... duh.

In an interview over at the official F1 site, Mark Webber talks about how he was "lucky" in Singapore.  Well, I suppose being an ass and not getting penalized is lucky.  He also comments on how he's not the favorite to win the championship.    

Oh Mark, if you only knew how right you are.

Check out the full interview here.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

F1-Geeks Track Analysis - Suzuka

Starting life as a test track for Honda, the Suzuka circuit has been around since 1962.   Aside from it’s challenging double apex corners with varying radii, figure 8 layout and huge Ferris wheel, Suzuka is alone in the calendar as the circuit with the highest number of "Hello Kitty" tattoos per capita.
With the race this weekend in Japan, here’s F1-Geeks track analysis of the Suzuka circuit.*
Past the pits down to turn one, flat out and one of the two moments you have to take a breath.  Drop your shoulders and reset your focus for the upcoming sequence.   You go into turn 1 hot and brake hard past the apex to slow you down enough through turn 2 without slipping out onto the gravel.   If you’ve hit it right, it’s back to full throttle on the exit heading into 3, 4 and 5.    All the track maps say you should be in 5th gear or maybe 4th through the “S” curves.  Not this geek.  I didn’t have the nerve or experience to get through there without some engine braking.

Turns 6 - 7 are nice and you start to open it up for Dunlop.  Don’t get too excited as the entrance is deceptively sharp and you can turn a great feeling curve into a disaster easily.  
Now we approach what became my most hated set of curves in Formula 1.  Degner.

The dreaded Degner curve
 Named for the East German, Ernst Degner, who defected to Japan, won the the World Championship for Suzuki, and burst into flame at this corner. Degner curve hated me and I returned the sentiment.  (I have never sworn so much at a video game.  Ever.)  I could not consistently get the apex right.  No matter how hard I tried, I almost always ended in the gravel.  Maddening.  If you manage to get through Degner, turn 9 is right there to teach you all kinds of new humility.

Still, when you do get them
both right, it’s like sweeping your opponents feet out from under him with a "tiger-tail" sweep.  Sublime bliss, and I guarantee you’ll have a grin on your face as you speed under the bridge.

If Degner is bad, it’s still not as embarrassing as blowing the hairpin.   You know it’s coming up.  You know it’s there.  You can see it in your mind as you hit the apex of 10 and next thing you know you’re locked up, full turn to the left but going straight into the gravel.
See, the thing about 10, is that you’ve hardly been at full throttle, since turn 2 and you miss it and turn 10 looks a lot like 12 and you want, (no… you NEED) to open it up and get some speed.  But you can’t.  Just as it starts to feel good you have to brake and brake hard for the hairpin.  Timing is everything on this one.  Too late you’re sliding into the gravel.  Too early and you’re Driving Miss Daisy.

Even when you get it right, it’s just not that satisfying.
It just whets your appetite for Spoon and you relish being flat out.

You hit turn 12 while coming up to speed so there’s no need to brake going in.  A brief straight and hard on the brakes turning left but you don’t bleed off the bulk of your speed until the exit of Spoon.   Get this right and you feel like you’ve pulled off a slingshot around the moon and are headed out to space.   You get on the throttle earlier than you think you should and you wrestle the car through the exit of 14.  Cue grin.

Flat through 15 isn’t that hard but it’s not a cakewalk either.   You are moving fast.  Really fast, and a slip in concentration and you are too busy correcting to remember to brake for the Casio Triangle chicane.
Super slow, super easy to miss.   I can’t tell you how many warnings I got for cutting that chicane.  I can, however, tell you how many grid spots I was penalized for cutting that chicane and others just due to mistakes.  The answer there would be fifteen (15).  Yes, fifteen spots for mistakes that cost me all kinds of time.  A relatively mistake free lap got me to 2nd, my bad laps bumped me down to 17th on the grid.  Seems like even in the virtual world, if you aren't Mark Webber, you're going to get a penalty.

Pass the pits, take a breath , try to remember the hairpin this time…

*As experienced through Codemasters Formula 1 2010 set on Medium difficulty.