Friday, December 21, 2012

F1-Geeks Armchair Team Principal - Round 17 - The Indian Grand Prix - Buddah International Circuit

I may have an overly romantic sense of this place but when I think of India I think of how colorful and cool everything and everyone looks. 

This is the second year on this track and they say it's better.  Better than what?  Better than Valencia that's for sure.

So Vettel now leads the championship with a ton of momentum.  Will it carry him to another win?

I want to really like this track.  I really do. It's not doing it for me yet.  Maybe it's too new, but then again, I liked Shanghi from the beginning.  I like the double DRS and I like that they are evolving the raceability.  Maybe next year will be better.  It's not that it's bad, it's just not great.   There were moments where it started to get close this year.  Ferarri's technical strategy around the ratio of their 7th gear was really cool.   I can appreciate that a team can build a race around a strategy geared toward a feature of the track.  It wasn't a bad race but the interest came from the non-racing parts.

OK, so Lewis did something cool and made a special effort to have a brief conversation with Martin Brundle and he actually seemed like a decent human being. Good on you Lewis.  The succubus must have been back in the UK.

Favorite Track Feature
I almost went with the obvious turn 10. An 8-second right hand neck-stretcher that is grueling on tires and has got to be exhausting.  My counter-culture punk-rock roots require I go for the less obvious Turn 3.

Turn 3. blind top of hill corner. The drivers can only see a reference cone as they line up for it and then they drop downhill for the long straight.  Get this wrong and you've messed up one of the best sections for passing or making up time.

Favorite Easter Egg
A bit of a cop out for me this time as it isn't new this race as it made a debut earlier in the year but it was the hash marks on Vettel's helmet.  50 of them, to be precise, to commemorate the number of helmet designs he's had since he started racing.  The difference here is that this one is very shiny and the debut had a flat/satin type of appearance.

Q1  not much going on here. I would have liked the Force India cars to be a little higher up on the grid but it wasn't to be.

Q2 Senna starts to turn in decent laps with 3 min left but its just not enough.  I thought Kimi wasn't going to make it past as he gets stuck down in 13th with a minute to go but pulls it together and makes to Q3.  Unfortunately so does Maldonado.

Q3 Was all Vettel.   He does some good laps but everyone else does better.  He's set for a hot lap and messes it up with less than a minute to go.  He nails it and grabs his 35th Pole Position.

The Race
Lights out.
Clean getaway and some nice side by side racing.  Three abreast at some points and the three way fight as Alonso pounces on the battling McLarens was cool
Compared to Korea this wasn't terribly exciting from a racing perspective, but there are a lot of little things going on to keep the interest.  McLaren pulls off a really remarkable steering wheel change.  Given that Hamilton had to stop, put the car in neutral, remove the wheel, hand it off, help get the new one on and put the car back into gear to exit.  All in the time it takes the to change tires.  Impressive.

All kinds of front wings slicing into rear tires.  KERS failure for Webber makes for some interesting Webber/Alonso moments. Vettel has something go wrong and throws off a ton of sparks from his floorboard on the straights.   Everyone sees this and he seems vulnerable for a moment.  

He isn't and goes on to win.  You'll notice that sneaky red uniform up there.  He's not out of it yet.

Favorite Quote
Alonso's race engineer telling him about Vettel's floorboard problem.  Mostly in Italian and eventually converts to English "...with the plank on the ground... when he is in DRS on, he has the plank on the ground... sparkling like hell..."

Runner up:  Ted Kravitz on Alonso's statement that he had to push 120%.  "He's a a man who doesn't know how percentages work."  I'm a sucker for any sort of math digs.

Favorite Moment
One of F1-Geeks sacred moments
The three way battle between Hamilton, Button, and Alonso.   Drafting, passing, out-braking, and very clean driving.   Well done gentlemen.

Honerable Mention goes to Webber as he pushes Vettel's car through the pit lane as it seems he's run out of fuel.  Seemed very redneck-ish and reminded me of all the times racers have had to hitch-hike back to the podium after a race.

Next up.  Abu Dhabi.  A dusk race.  That alone makes it worth watching.  See you there.

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