Monday, December 10, 2012

F1-Geeks Armchair Team Principal - Round 16 - The Korean Grand Prix - Yeongam


Built in 2009 the circuit is way more fun to drive on (at least in a simulator) than it is to watch.

From listening to the driver interviews, they feel the same way.

There are so many races now, it's great for watching cars and drivers at their best but it means that some of the perfectly good tracks get lost in the shadow of the greats.

Vettel is the only driver to win back to back races this year.  Can he shatter the record by getting three?

What did we learn this race?  That nobody seems to know what the pattern is for Vettel's helmet design.  The BBC said that he retires it after each win, but then you get helmets like Singapore.   So, who knows.  I knew there was some races with new helmets and then some where there wasn't.   Some people gripe about this as being too confusing.  On one hand, I liked the characteristic helmet designs that were iconic, immediately recognizable and intimately associated with a driver.  So yeah there is something to be said for the single design but if it were me, I'd do the same thing.  I love it.  The cost is not a problem for him and I'd have them all in a massive display case.  Eventually donate them to a museum or something.  Some of these designs are stunningly beautiful.

Favorite Track Feature
Turn 4 does it for me here.  After the fastest section they dive into the slowest section and it tends to catch the drivers off guard..

Favorite Easter Egg
Psy shows up to teach Vettel and Webber Gangham style and waves the checkered flag with about the same excitement you'd expect Adrian Newey would display meeting Psy himself.

For those of you keeping track at home, this was Vettel's helmet design for the weekend.

I think.

Surprises but no real excitement.
Q1 On the edge of my seat waiting to see if Lewis won't make it out of Q1 but he gets very lucky and barely survives.

Q2 Mostly a good session as Maldonado spends it at the bottom.

Q3 RedBull rises to the top and stays there. Vettel's lap gets messed up by traffic and manages only second. Webber first but he usually mangles his starts so F1-Geeks considers this pole for Vettel.

The Race
Lights out....   coolness.
I take back what I said before about not having a good time watching this track.  Multiple wheel to wheel racing among the top eight.  The best opening three laps I've seen in a while.   Vettel gets a decent start but not better than Webber.  It turns out that in Korea, Pole Position kinda sucks.  Vettel ends up exactly where he needs to be to have the advantage into turn one.  Vettel/Webber, Hamilton/Alonso, Raikkonen/Massa, and then Kobayashi and a few others. -F

Before the first lap is even complete, Kobayashi decides to play pinball with his Sauber and tries to bounce it off as many cars as he can.  He only gets two, but it's enough to win him a new nose and tires.  Sadly, he puts Button and Rosberg are out of the race because of it.  Apparently the track workers are busy with Psy doing his crazy dance because it takes them 8 laps to realize Rosberg's car is sitting on track and they should probably move it.  That means a yellow flag right in the middle of the straight away for 8 laps.  Good times. -T

Pit action is constant and entertaining.   Why in the world is this race just so damn entertaining this year?
Massa is racing well actually, so well that he's told to make sure not to get too close to Alonso.  This is surely a sign of the end-times.  Hamilton is having a hard time all day and then hooks a piece of astro-turf and starts driving around like a parade float.   I almost feel bad for him but then come to my senses.

Still all of this is not the exciting part, the excitement comes from Vettel's front tire.  The team sends him message after message telling him the tire is going to blow and he must slow down. 

He doesn't.
"You will not know when its too late."  They tell him.

Watching the last lap was riveting and while his tire didn't let go, the stress from the team was something I've never heard before.  A good drive and damn fine race.

Favorite Quote
Sky Sports commentator Ted Kravitz, "It's always special to get into the Ferrari garage during a race but today Fernando's girlfriend is in there.

Favorite Moment
The first three laps.   Hands down the best wheel to wheel racing I've seen in a year that has had a lot more wheel to wheel than before. 

Runner up, the Korean woman who brought Vettel his microphone continues to pester him for his hat even after Johnny Herbert starts interviewing him.

Leave it to a genius to figure out that eye-protection is a good idea on the podium.

Korea gives us an awesome race and we move on to another newer track.  Join us for India in a couple of days because we know we're behind but hell, at least we are trying.

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