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.

The Stig and the Tesla

Fans of the BBC's Top Gear may remember the episode back from December of 2008 when Jeremy test drove the Tesla Roadster around their track. He loved the car, at least at first, but later went on to dismiss it as rubbish.

That created a firestorm on the web and in the EV community as everyone pointed out where and why he was wrong. It's true, some of the points he made were misleading, and some were down right false, but by and large, the story was accurate. One of the things that makes that show so entertaining is Clarkson's over the top, hyperbolic reporting. No one could mistake everything he says as truth, much less believe it all. I'm certain he doesn't believe everything he says!

Well it turns out that when they handed the car over to their tame racing driver, he was smitten. Ben Collins, the Stig Ex-Stig, has come out as a big fan of the Tesla. In spite of what Clarkson said. He's had a couple opportunities to drive the car, both on Top Gear's track and last month at Brands Hatch. I don't know about you, but I'd love a chance to drive a Tesla. But a chance to drive one flat out on a track... Oh man!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Richard Branson hates blue flags... and you know what? So do I.

Richard Branson says to do away with blue flags. This crazy brit may be onto something.

"If it's really hard for a world champion to get past a backmarker then I think it's a sad day for racing. I think racing is all about getting past people and overtaking and adding a little bit of 'je ne sais quoi'.

Maybe more of a sad day for that champion.  His point is that the slower teams are forced to start to make room earlier than they should and because they are required to let that car past within four turns, they practically have to stop in order to let some of the back markers catch up.  

I never thought about it before but now that I have, I think blue flags are stupid. - F1 News: Branson backs call to remove blue flags

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Regular guy launches HD camera into space

This has nothing to do with racing but everything to do with geeky coolness.

Now this is a cool project.  I highly reccomend watching this on your HTPC hooked up to your main set.

Homemade Spacecraft from Luke Geissbuhler on Vimeo.

F1-Geeks Play Formula 1 2010

The release of Formula One 2010 by Codemasters brings much anticipated goodness.  These were the guys that made Dirt, and while Rally racing isn't my sport of choice, that game looked great and seemed to perform realistically.  What will the latest F1 game add to our little home on the interwebs?  Read on..

Yes it does look this good.  (All images used totally without permission
from IGN via Voodoo Extreme. Visit them so they may take pity on me.)
The game is awesome.  Available for Xbox 360, PS3, and the PC.  While , not without it's flaws, it gives us a great excuse to buy a force feedback wheel.  We're thinking that this combination of gaming and F1 should provide some otherwise unobtainable insight into each course as well as some entertaining content. For your sake, let's hope we're right.  

As Suzuka is up next in the real calendar, I thought it made the most sense to really learn the game on this track.  I set up a long race weekend as I am totally new to the game and Suzuka was never one of my go-to tracks with previous games.   I'd need all three practice sessions to be ready for qualifying.

I thought I'd try and note how each qualifying session went.  Feel free to rip it to shreds in the comments.

As I sit in the pits with 5:09 left in the first qualifying session I am pretty happy with 2nd place.   Of course the big hitters just went out and took it easy and although it took me three laps to put together a good time, I couldn't improve on the last two and what's worse, is my concentration fell off as did my times.  Three minutes left, need to visualize....

OK, so the second session goes by way too quickly.  It's surprising.  I threw the first lap away in turn 7 of all places (and 9 and 11).  Stupid.  So I figured I could use the practice and didn't worry too much about it.  Lap two was lost at turn 8.  Damn that turn 8.  Let me tell you, 8 and 9 took me out nearly every time.  That is a tricksy set of corners.  More on that in our track analysis
So I registered a time and was about to turn in a decent lap and when my race engineer tells me the session is half over.  As I look up at timing and scoring I brake a moment later than I should.   At the hairpin, that means gravel.   Lap 3 was the best and I couldn't improve on it.  I placed 9th at that time and it held at 10.  Lucky...   Although my wife was quick to point out that I bumped Schumacher.  (Love that woman)

Full stress full time.  Tried  to leave early and was held by my engineer for a clear pit exit.  I got to watch no less than 5 cars go by before I get to come out right on Liuzzi's ass.   Great....   We'll it's the outlap so I can get around him and get a clear track when I start the flyer. I outbreak him into the 130R (turn 15) and fly by.  (Actually that's not entirely true as I never lifted so this was either going to be spectacular or a disaster.)   I was so happy with that move that I blew by 16 and 17 and almost spun.  Still ahead of Liuzzi I lose it into 8 and he's in front for most of the session.   I decide I'm going to just practice the track and come in for tires at about 4 minutes so I can get a good hot lap in.   Unfortunately the racer in me forgot all about that plan and I found myself  side by side with Liuzzi through 4, 5 and 6, and it was "on" (as they say) with me finally passing at Dunlop.    In the excitement, I look up and there's three and a half minutes left.  Not enough time for me to slow in the pits, do an outlap, and then nail a good one.

Screw it, I'm going to have to do this on worn primes (good thing I don't have tire wear effects on).    On the entrance to Dunlop, I drift a bit too wide as I missed the apex and with two wheels on the grass I keep the car going straight and ease it back onto the track.   My right rear hits the curbing that came up and spins me straight into the barrier.   I recover and cross the Start/Finish line with seconds to spare.   Time expires on my way to turn 1 and I'm in full concentration mode.    Hit turn 8 perfectly, and somehow remembered to brake for 9.  The hairpin was smooth and suddenly I'm through spoon with 1:11 on my clock.  Working hard the whole time, manage the Casio Triangle and am just hoping to be in front of Petrov.   I cross the line at 1:37.697 in SECOND!  Just thirty-one-thousandths behind Mark freaking Webber.     Man I love this game.

I fully expect to finish dead last in the race.  I'll post that after it happens.  Right now, I'm going upstairs for some celebratory Mountain Dew and will race tomorrow.