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.