Wednesday, April 27, 2011

F1-Geeks Armchair Team Principal (Shanghai Post Race Recap)

Busy Busy Busy.   Such is life and so went the Shanghai race.   There was a lot going on.  As there was no break between races this time we'll talk through the track while we talk about the race.  This track is fun to race on and I imagine it's a favorite of the drivers as well. 

F1-Fun Fact:  Since the track was built on swampland, the engineers decided it would be a good idea to increase it's buoyancy by building it on top of styrofoam.  That's right, about as much stryofoam as China can produce in a year is sitting under that track.  Take that planet huggers.  Not only is F1 responsible for preventing a couple of billion styrofoam cups from being released to coffee stations around the world, they've blanketed a section of our planet in a nice cozy thermally protective cover.  That we race on.

"You double-dare me to go out on Primes?  You're on, pal!"
 Some surprises in qualifying had Webber not make it out of the first session. Not terribly disappointing but a drag for RBR.(1)  Not sure why he went out on the hard tires because there are a lot of places where the grip of fresh tires would be nice to have when you are trying to put together a single good lap.  

Turn 1 is a little tricky but you just turn in early and you'll be fine as long as you don't weave back and forth like a drunken lunatic trying to block the people behind you.   It is an option, apparently, and Vettel, having missed the geometry lesson about the shortest distance between two points ended up losing two places at the start of the race.

While we kept waiting for the fuel spill in the McLaren garage to cause Hamilton to "Johnny Storm" around the first lap, by turn 3 it became clear that wasn't going to happen.  Don't get me wrong here.  Hamilton seems a decent fellow and we don't want anyone burned (even Webber), but it really would have been cool to see a non-injury inducing fireball.  

"I didn't want your stupid tires anyway!"

Lots of people got a little too excited for their own good.  The fuel guys at McLaren, Vettel at the start and even the Torro Rosso guys had a bit when they tried to emulate their senior team's drivers and nearly took each other out.(2)  Two big moments came in the pits when Button totally forgot that Silver is not Blue and California-stopped his Mercedes in the Red Bull pit space.(3)  And when the Torro Rosso team decided they did not wany any more close calls between the teammates, they played the old "Lug nut?  What lug nut?" game with Alguersuari's right rear which then, driven by an unyielding desire to be free, saw it's chance and proceeded to do exactly that.

Nico led for a bit and I would have been OK with a win for him but it wasn't to be the case as Hamilton moved into first and stayed there.   Passing was happening all over the place and the rules changes really seemed to have done their job to promote that.

As much as I am generally displeased with Webber, even I have to admit his drive was remarkable.  Starting from 18th and clawing his way up to 3rd, It was reminiscent of the Schumacher of old. (4)

A few comments about this track.  It is one of my favorites.   I'm still trying to get used to the idea of it being near the beginning of the season, but I think I like it better up front.   It's nice and wide and provides a lot of excitement.  Perfect showcase if you want to show F1 to someone who has never seen it.  Lots of goodness here and the track is a good time, but nothing compares to the sequence starting with 11.  The opposite of turn 2 where you get slower and slower and slower, this sequence ends with an increasing radius corner.  I love this sequence.  It's like the best freeway on-ramp ever.  You just get in place and get faster and faster then rocket out on to the straight.   Sweet mother.  It's awesome. (5)

For those of you keeping score at home:  I qualified 6th in the simulation with my first hot lap of Q3 and was bumped by Hamilton coming out of 8 and hit the barrier so hard I could not continue.  Tim finished so again, the demons of F1 take me.

Tim's Take:
I admit, I'm at a bit of a loss to sum up this race.  I remember with 12 laps to go in the race, I turned to Fred and said, I honestly have no idea, nor could I predict who will win this race.  That kind of sums up how all these changes have affected F1.  And I for one, love it!

If I could ask Mr. Vettel one question it would be "What the hell?!"  I've watched the guy lose first place heading down to turn one on at least 4 occasions because he's running all over the place trying to keep the others behind him.  He's like my neurotic dog that seems more concerned with keeping an eye on our calm dog than joining in when we're all playing and having fun; all wide eyed and crazy.  

It was cool to see Button jump ahead and lead the race for a bit.  He might have kept the lead too if he hadn't stopped by to wave at the Red Bull pit team.  He was hoping they'd be intimidated by his spiffy new racing suit.

Apparently the Sea of Japan is no barrier for the tire steeling spirit Taiya Dorobō, who left Suzuka long enough to hop over and tap poor Jaime Alguersuari on the shoulder.  After Dorobō claimed his tire, shrieks of giddy laughter could be heard coming from Buemi's car.  But then that might have just been Buemi relieved Dorobō didn't come for him like he did last year in Shanghai. 

Like Fred was mentioning, I have to tip my hat to Webber for what was a truly impressive drive.  After what can only be described as the perfect storm of suck that left him qualifying 18th, he pulled off an incredible drive to finish 3rd.  They'd said he went out on the hard tires so that he could save the softs for the race.  I guess it worked, sort of.  Wouldn't have just been easier to qualify in the top 6 and try and work your way up from there?  Still, "not bad for a number 2 driver."(6)

Paul di Resta manages to impress everyone again. I know he finished out of the points at 11th, but then so did his teammate Sutil at 14th.  Don't get me wrong, I think Sutil is a good driver.  But I think di Resta could prove himself to be a great driver. 

Sorry to see the Renault boys finish so far back this time.  I still think they're going to impress us as the season goes on.

Hamilton giving props to the McLaren boys

This makes two races in a row Massa was not intimidated by Alonso's eyebrows and finished ahead of him.  The only possible explanation is that he was ignoring his radio communications with Rob Smedly.  Fernando's pass on Schumacher, somewhere around lap 25, was one of the best up and unders I've seen.
There was a time when I was a big Hamilton fan, but that's kind of waned.  I was kind of glad to see him win the race, but I thought it was pretty cool to see how much the win meant to him.  First person ever to win two GPs at the Shanghai circuit.

  1. Yes, I'm still holding a grudge against Webber for his dumb ass move which took Vettel out at Turkey last year.  I can hear you saying, "Wait a minute! Webber just held his line.  Vettel drove into him."  To that I say, "Vettel was ahead, Webber sucks, shut your mouth."
  2. Thankfully these guys actually care about the team and the car behind yeilded to his teammate.
  3. Rumor has it he called out an order for a Cherry Lime-aid just to mess with the guys.
  4. Although Schumacher would have somehow made it to first while causing the McLarens and the RedBulls to incurr a 10 spot penalty at the next race.
  5. And that's just experiencing it on a game.  Imagine what this would be like in the car.  Any car.   Webber sucks.
  6. Remember that lame ass, cry-baby quote from Webber last year?  I know I won't forget it.

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