Tuesday, October 23, 2012

F1-Geeks Armchair Team Principal - Round 12 - Belgian Grand Prix

Spa.  I think I love this track more than Monaco.  Its beautiful, challenging, looks lke a phaser, and is never boring.   Even if nothing happened and it was just a parade, everyone has to go through Eau Rouge at least once every couple of minutes.  I'll gladly watch that for a couple of hours.

Eau Rough is awesome.  It's a bit downhill with a bit of a left then right, and at the end of the left, you climb.  Hard.  So hard, in fact that when you finish the climb, you're going to experience a full negative G.  This thing is just awesome.  Were it not for the downforce F1 cars generate, they'd catch so much air at the exit you could honestly say they would be flying off the track.  This section is so mean it's actually killed someone.  Sadly, this isn't just the entertaining hyperbole you've grown used to here.  Although this history of this circuit is even more grim we're currently still recovering from a more recent tragedy.  Namely, Hamilton's win in Hungary.

Will Spa cause F1-Geeks even more depression or will we see Lotus take their first race.

Yes, I know this is very late.  Half of the F1-Geeks team got an assignment in Hong Kong and it's taken a while to get settled.   More about that later.

Favorite Track Feature
Clearly it's Eau Rouge.  Drivers experience two and a half G at the lowest point and then lose 3.5 G as they exit.  Look at this:

Maybe it's just that Eau Rouge is an F1 track character/personality element that was awesome and still is.  A piece of history that hasn't been completely watered down.

On a related note, this race is only 44 laps long.  How cool it must be for the drivers to drive through such long laps.

Favorite Quote
Lewis Hamilton on being asked to comment on Jensen's first pole position for McLaren - "For the team?  Oh Really?  Oh wow!"

Favorite Moment
Maldonado blocking Nico Hulkenburg.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not happy Nico was blocked, but he wasn't going to be contesting for the front, and anything that messes with Maldonado is one of the few of my favorite things.

Runner-up was the Ferrari mechanic, walking the pitlane, gives an axle to a McLaren mechanic who takes it at first, then while looking it over says, "It's not ours.  I don't know who's it is."  Were it not for my hatred of Communist Maldonado, this would have been my favorite moment of the weekend.   It illustrated in such a unique way the incredible carnage that occurred, the cool common courtesy amongst the teams, and the general bad-ass-ness of the mechanics who can see a part (that looks identical to everyone else's) and know instantly it isn't theirs.

Second Runner up was Nichole Sherzinger's defeated agonized head shaking in such despondent depression with her man's fate at turn 1.

Favorite Easter Egg
Kimi's new helmet design.  Very Imperial Stormtrooper, very cool.

An entertaining session. 
Q1 was all about Karthikeyan locking up his tires.  It seemed he was unnerved by the Ferraris.  
Maldonado involved in yet another unsportsman-like incident but that's not really surprising.  What is surprising was Rossberg not making it through.

Q2 had Massa, Schumacher, and surprisingly, Vettel (last year's pole sitter) fail to make it through.  So far this year Lews is the only driver to make it into every Q3 and continues his streak.  I really struggle with Schumacher.  For sentimentality's sake, I'd like him to do well.  On the other hand, I find it fitting that he is suffering now in the era he created.  I believe he single-handedly lowered the approach from a gentleman's honorable enterprise, to a whiny, anything is OK as long as you get away with it philosophy.

Q3 is a Jenson Button clinic.  At 6 minutes left he starts laying down laps a half second faster than anyone else.  It helps that pretty much everyone waited until only a couple of minutes are left before they turned a single lap.

Jenson hasn't had pole in 60 races and never had one for McLaren.  Kobyashi has never been on the front row ever, neither has Sauber.  Coolness all around.  I'm trying to forget the irritation that is Maldonado getting 3rd.  Although is 3-grid penalty makes this much easier to bear.

The Race
Kobyashi's brakes start to smoke furiously before the lights go out and there's a good chance he'll catch fire.  Maldonado jumps the start and it causes a massive pile up in turn 1.  OK, not his fault but I'm blaming him anyway.

It really was Grossjean moving into a position where Hamilton can't move over and he ends up hitting Hamilton's front left tire and loses control while taking out Hamilton, Alonso, Perez, Kobyashi, and himself.   Kobyashi, manages to survive somewhat but ends up moving from his best ever qualifying spot of 2nd to 20th after having to stop to have the team check on the huge hole in the side of his car.

The safety car pulls in on lap 4 and the race is off.  Good passing moves and good racing but it's mostly Vettel that provides the excitement for the first half of the race. 

The second half has a good bit of passing moments, but one stays with me.  Schumacher has some sort of issue and Raikkonen almost runs into the back of him and is forced to pass through Eau Rouge.  When anyone passes, intentionally or not, through Eau Rouge, it's a good time for me.

Johnny Tire Management does his usual bit with saving his tires, makes a one-stop strategy work and stays in front for the win.  The contrast with Lewis hits home a bit for me because I have no contempt or disgust when I see Jessica Michibata celebrating.

Next up Monza.  High speed, not always high drama, but still cool....


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