Fernando DEFINITELY ON! 2013 Chinese F1 GP race results from Shanghai

The Prince of Astoria and Maranello is fully dialed in; so he takes a well-deserved race victory in the swamp surrounding the greatest urban den of humanity.

The Ferrari looks strong, at the moment; perhaps even more importantly, in this era of the development wars, trending positive at a comparable pace to their main rivals.

Alonso was the only racer beyond the gore-hungry horns of the Bull, Vettel’s soft-tire sprint to the chequered flag was awesome; but just  little too much and he skipped a tad deep passing the Caterham, loosening the choker on Hamilton, just enough, barely, for Lewy to hang on the flag.

Sensational stuff, even for Ontarians at 430am.

Intra-team tension, as predicted, and intriguing.  Force India woes continue.  Hulkenberg stomping dominance all over everything; too bad the car doesn’t look as convincing as the Force India.  But Ferrari engine customer, Toro Rosso, publically contemplating the switch to Renault power for 2014, score big in seventh with Ricciardo, who establishes himself as the guy who has so far delivered the points at Toro Rosso; incidentally, two seconds behind factory Ferrari, Massa, in sixth.  As written before, sad about the Webber continuing string of probablistically challenging string of incredible (in the true sense of the word) co-incidences.  For whatever unfathomable reason, I trust Ross Brawn, and so the lattice of consecutive negative outcomes for Nico Rosberg seem comparatively believable.

Kimi strong; we all can hang our hopes of even greater competitiveness on the under-spoken suggestion that Kimi would have been a lot closer to Alonso on race pace with an intact front wing; in front of us, on the horizon, Bahrain is looking good, from right now!

Way to go Lewy, hanging on for third; you must have hit the 200 beats per second rev limiter on that one!  I continue to be encouraged by the competitiveness of Mercedes and their favourable positive trajectory.

Likewise, McLaren are back in the hunt; they may be the weakest of the furious five, but at least they are back in that mix and Jenson is pulling away from the midpack.  I stand and take responsibility for my off calls, and so far, calling on Sergio Perez to outperform Button is looking a long way out.  Way to go Button; but just stick to driving, your random woe to pumped comments in the media make you look weaker than your driving so far; zip it and appear better.

Season prognosis: looking very good, with the four emerging title contenders, all representing different teams.

 

Pass of the race, Raikonnen, making it look unrealistically easy as he passed the Toro Rosso while making his undercut of Lewis, on the second pit stop, good, around the pit lane entrance to he track as Lewis sped in vain to come out in front of him; “beauty“, as we say here.

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…they find the fastest path! 2013 April 13 – Chinese F1 GP Qualifying

The thing, about modern formula one, is that they come up with the formula, (I don’t know how they come up with the rules, but there is usually a lot of quacking and otherwise carrying-on), the specifications, the constraints, including the tires, and the teams try an almost unimaginable number of permutations …and they find the fastest path!

The whinging (good word Australia) about the tires, is tiresome, definitely!  (“tires, is tiresome”, yes, we can do that in Canada, within the formula.)

Hats off to Lewey, he won the qualifying.

As predicted, Massa would NOT beat Alonso.

Initially, I’d thought Ferrari look strong overall, but having taken a close look at their tire management, I don’t think they are ready to win; I think they’ll both have to take another set more than the team that wins, though Vettel could very conceivably do three stops, the last for softs, and sprint the last four or five laps to win.

Sad, what is happening at Red Bull; anybody who thinks this is a coincidence suffers from not paying attention and/or getting over the denial; it’s just too sharp to be a coincidence; it has design, and planning behind it; the all too rapid on-air report of the ‘problem’ and aggressive action to ‘quarantine’ it?!?  Give me break!  Oh well.

Hoping Mark will bust out of the back and take out Vettel (no injury) as he passes him on the final corner to win the Chinese GP, ahead of Massa, just for a bit of balancing in the kharma.

Everybody has the same constraints (though sometimes somebody finds a path around such constraints, especially when they can’t be policed).

So… tires… and funky, all-blowing-the-load-at-the-same-time, whatnot (in the qualifying today):
“…that’s what they do.”
At one level, when quite a few fans are expecting something (fairly specific), in this case, an hour or so on track dueling and striving, all these people are SO DISAPPOINTED!
But there are those paying attention, to the fascination of the these latest approaches; imagine completely abandoning significant blocks of time, for… retaining more options for during the actual race? Wow!

Fascinating.

People often complain about how the driver has been minimized in the equation, yet here, now, this format, right now, today, creates this intense, almost unbelievable pressure on the human operator, TO DELIVER!

There is no place to hide if you are left to a single timed qualifying run.

It’s amazing!

Getting over traditional expectations might allow some to gain a deeper understanding of the big picture, here.

Really interesting weekend, so far; I am hoping for high tension in the race tomorrow.

Even though the racing is slightly different from the mid-industrial era origins, it’s been a long time since there has been such volatility at the top.

I’m sticking with my outlying prediction of a Bianchi point, and hoping for a Kimi victory.

Late Update: 2013 April 13 21h32 NAEDT:

I just got a feeling that Rosberg must do well; so look for him to ‘get a bit of urgency’, and let’s see what he can do.  Go Nico, go!

2012 F1 U.S.A. Grand Prix at the Circuit o the Americas – qualifying

Vettel stays focused and nails the P1.

What else did you suspect?

The Red Bull-Vettel package is in a class of their own!

Who else is getting tired of the crowd, incessantly making excuses and casting blame for his performance, all over the place; but never on him, of course.  Everyone is entitled to a bad day at the office; it is only human.

Yes, we all know the Red Bull machinery is the best, at the moment.

Yes, yes, yes.

But!

Massa HALF A SECOND faster than Alonso!

Whoa there Bessie!

Maybe Massa has been getting the shaft for most of the season.

Not complaining, well, not complaining about the machinery; he knows this is the best machinery he is ever going to get.

I am happy to see the resurgent Massa; way to go Fillipe!  I’d love to see you win the championship next year, and beat your team mate.

I’m not dissing Alonso, these things happen to all drivers; he’s fought long and hard, enduring, this season, in a car that was never a front runner over a single lap, though it did have a decent run as the race-pace leader or very close to race pace leader.

It is just the incessant chorus of Alonso apologizers, and their ilk.  Enough is too much already; can it!  At least you could go graciously; that’s the most championship display that can be made now.

Lewis did another great job, and I am definitely NOT convinced that can’t win the race tomorrow.  He’s got nothing to lose.  Then again, Vettel is another one of those pathological racers, that won’t stop, can’t stop; maybe that’s his weakness.  We’ll know if he gets banged up in an unnecessary crash in the second half of the race tomorrow, six position in front of Alonso.  And I think it’s a possibility.  Hamilton has little to lose by oing for it.  He has the most to gain by establishing a fan base in the States, where his ostentatious style is ripe for adoration.

I expect a full onslaught by Hamilton, and if his machinery doesn’t give out, an exciting race to the line.

Don’t miss the start, because I expect a lot of attrition and a safety car on the first lap, maybe crashes at more than one place.  You might suspect an aggressive team to start on the Hard and go immediately on a first lap safety car to the mediums and try to get through the race; I’m not mentioning any team, in particular, but if you are Japanese or in particular, Mexican, I think you might go for it, and see where that takes you.

Go Kobyashi, go!

2012 Korea F1 – Post-FP3 – Pre-Qualy

It looks like McLaren lead the pack hunting Red Bull, and Ferrari are just a bit back in single lap performance.  Lotus are back in the game, but solidly fourth behind Ferrari in performance.

Otherwise, variability (aside from Vettel looking very solid to gain pole), will be likely on the ungainly circuit.

2012 Korea F1 Grand Prix – Qualy Forecast

It is the greatest likelihood that there will be two Red Bulls and one Ferrari in the top three spots on the grid.

However, it’s a strange and unnaturally changing lap, long, slow, and difficult to get a good rythme on, and most relevant here, it is difficult to get it all right!

So, with the top ten inside 1 second, variability is to be expected.  This is a chance for a great second times lap in Q3 could get you a pole, way over your head, and an otherwise minor mistake, even for a driver on one of the top teams, can mean five grid spots back!

Still the most likely top three are Sebastian Vettel in P1, a coin toss between Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber in P2, and the other in P3.

But who’s going to break up the party?  Jenson has been up lately; he was very good last week in Japan, at Suzuka; he’s got to be the favourite for spoiler.  While he is a flighty driver, he is trending upwards lately, and a P1 is not out of the question for Button; go for it!

Mercedes are showing improved performance, and I don’t think it is because this type of circuit particularly favours their package.  Michael P6 and then P7 in FP2; I have to admit, though not the biggest fan of Michael, it’s good to see.  He has a lot of damage control, if he was the only one to get a perfect lap, he could get P1; but he’s an outside chance, to say the least.

Massa has been trending upwards, though he ended short of Fernando, 4th and then 6th in FP2, he was as strong as he’s been in over a season in Japan, and he’s is a stronger shot than Schumacher to get pole and score high in qualifying; I’d love to see Filipe ahead of Alonso in qualifying!  Go Fillipe, go!

I hope to see Lotus tweek their new updates so that it makes them competitive with Red Bull, but I’ll not hold my breath on that one.  Lotus are truly foundering in this year’s campaign.  Are they playing the long game and aiming to peak in 2013?  That’s what it looks like from here!

Quel dommage!

Yet, an outside chance of fruition.

Kimi!

Sauber, not liking it, not one bit.  But maybe they can find something to get in the game, or perhaps a radical tire strategy, one stop?

Williams, foundering, listing badly and taking on water.  They need new drivers. (I like Senna, but…)

McLaren, is definitely off the pace since Japan.  While still fundamentally sound, it just isn’t the fastest overall package and stares at the brink (maybe past it) of being the third fastest, at the moment.

The picture seems pretty expectable, but due to the funky, unnaturally assembled mix of straights and funky corners, getting the perfect lap will be hard, and making a mistake, easy; so there are bound to be surprises, and two things that won’t be too surprising is 1. a safety car in the race; and 2. not too many passes; so put that in your pipe and smoke it to figure out potential strategies, and relative importance of qualifying high on the grid, or not?

The title race 2012 September 24, with six races to go…

As indicated on the Official Formula 1 web site, the drivers’ championship stands as:

01 Fernando Alonso 194
02 Sebastian Vettel 165
03 Kimi Räikkönen 149
04 Lewis Hamilton 142
05 Mark Webber 132
06 Jenson Button 119

While there remains a maximum mathematical total of 150 for any driver on the grid, even if one driver were to gain all of those points, the other drivers would likely continue to amass points as well.

The logical favourite is the current points leader, Fernando Alonso, not only because he has a 29 point lead on his nearest rival, but also because he has demonstrated relentless determination to maximize the points haul for every race, regardless of the competitiveness of the equipment that he has had.  Furthermore, Ferrari, contrary to their ongoing claims of uncompetitive machinery, have come on terms with the leader in the development race, arguably McLaren, so that the most significant difference between the competitiveness of the McLaren and the Ferrari is the qualifying pace, only!

Second, after his Singapore victory, Sebastian Vettel, is charging hard in his Red Bull.  The reigning world champion is going through his first year since he joined Red Bull without a clear advantage in machinery (2009 the Red Bull was faster than the Brawn except for the double diffuser).  He has responded by upping his game, as evidenced in his driving in the second half of this year.  Already having established his credentials in the top tier of drivers, Vettel is currently the fastest driver on the grid.  Singapore was only his second victory of the year, yet he is in second in the driver standings, only 29 points behind Alonso.  Like Alonso, he has maximized points scoring for every race, regardless of the comparative competitiveness of the Red Bull machinery. 

Speaking of the machinery, this year has had no clear dominant car, but over the course of all of the races so far, I would be tempted to place the Red Bull tied for second with the Ferrari, behind only the McLaren.

Speaking of McLaren, there is no doubt that Lewis Hamilton is in the top tier of drivers, in fact, when completely on his game, he dominates more than anyone else on the grid; and that is saying a lot in the company of Alonso, Vettel and the other former world champions.  However, Lewis has shown he is unstable.  He has a history of reactivity that seems to have constrained his phenomenal capability; the tweeting of the telemetry after his exit from Spa is just one example in a long list.  So this fantastic driver, with arguably the best equipment over the course of the season so far, is only 4th in the championship, and a whopping 52 points behind championship leader Alonso.  It could be argued that this is because he has NOT maximized his points haul in every race of the year.  He is now only an outside contender to become world champion this year; he is not eliminated, we’ve seen one person on the grid make up this magnitude of points to win a world championship in the last race; that person BEAT Lewis in the final race, and Alonso.

Kimi, in terms of raw racing ability, is second to none on the grid.  He currently stands in third in the championship, but 45 points behind Alonso, with no wins.  But he has, like Alonso and Vettel, maximized his points haul even when the Lotus was not competitive, stayed out of trouble, most of the time, unlike his team mate Grosjean.  He is a long way back, but has the demonstrated experience in making up a sizeable gap to win a championship.

In my opinion Webber and Button are no, for all practical purposes, out of the running for the drivers’ championship.  Webber has maximized his points haul, but has still come up short, whereas Button, it could be argued, has not had the consistency, even accounting for the team errors that cost both him and Hamilton points, so far this season, to be champion.

I don’t know about you, but I really feel that this year’s formula has ultimately created a situation wherein the driver capability is the defining factor, and that factor this year is in extracting the maximum from whatever the competitiveness of the machinery is for that given race.  The people who have done that the best now stand in the top three spots in the drivers’ standing.  Let’s face it, Ferrari started the year with a dramatically inferior car, and Lotus has only really had observable dominance in Budapest, and then yet hindered by sub-par qualifying pace; and Vettel was just as fast as Lotus in race pace; so Kimi’s placement in the championship is even more extenuating.

Factors affecting the final six races and the championship:

1. Development:

All of the contenders must keep their development on pace or better, to win the championship. Ferrari just needs to maintain their comparative competitiveness, regardless of their media propaganda machinery, their car is now as competitive as any, except as noted, and their reliability is second to none.  ed Bull seems to be just hanging in there, and really need to improve their qualifying pace to give Vettel a chance.  At the other end of the spectrum, Lotus need to make gains against these two rivals; they need better race pace than Red Bull, and they need better qualifying pace compared to Ferrari; if their vaunted and much anticipated ‘device’ fails to deliver, then, unfortunately, I predict a two-way fight to the last corner in San Paulo, and Lotus won’t be there.  McLaren have the car, and the development pace, but now they are so far back with Lewis in the drivers’ standings, that not only do they need to maintain or exceed their rivals in development, they need a little luck, the bad kind, to befall Alonso, anyhow, for a real chance to win.  Even an Alonso DNF combined with a Lewis victory would still put his more than a race vicory’s worth of points behind Alonso, and counting on that to happen more than once to Alonso/Ferrari is pretty thin ice.

What I’d like to see:

A second world championship for Kimi, won in the last corner of the last race, in Brazil.

My prediction:

Vettel will win it in the last race.

Vettel bounces back, and wins the Singapore Grand Prix!

As Martin Brundle just said, moments after the end of the Singapore Grand Prix, it would have been fascinating to see the battle between Vettel and Hamilton; but Hamilton’s McLaren transmission got busted.

During the first safety car, Button almost crashed into the back of Vettel; wouldn’t that have been interesting, especially if you were a Spaniard in a Red car?  But even if it didn’t happen, it’s still looking good for you, if you were the Spaniard in the Red car, because your championship lead to your closest rival, is now larger, regardless of who the rival is.

It was an interesting race with lot’s of attrition.

Maldonado was good in the opening corner and lap, I guess he has to be, or else he’ll certainly be painted with it.  Unfortunately, he lost position to Button, who was on very good form, and then, lost hydraulic pressure, and had to pull out, from fourth.  Senna looked pretty good, too, but also lost power before the last lap, allowing Glock in the Marussia/Cosworth to gain twelve, and thus take position on Caterham in the constructors.

Star performance by Di Resta to get 4th, in the Force India.  At times Hulkenberg was as fast as anybody, but on the wrong long-stint tire strategy, ending out of the top ten.

Rosberg held on to hold off Kimi, and they take fifth and sixth, respectively.  Michael crashed out late in the race; it looked bad, as if mental/driver error, also taking out a strong race from Jev in the Torro Rosso, a real shame.  The Sky Sports F1 showed Vergne taking it really well, and being very congenial with Schumacher, after the crash.  That makes Vergne higher in my esteem, because it really sucks that he got crashed out, through no fault of his own. UPDATE: I saw the Schumy incident again, and it was a bit weird that the load bearing front tire locked up coming down to the corner; it’s definitely not as bad as last year’s crash out, which was a real bad crash, for no reason; so maybe it was something with the car/tires this year, just the fair benefit of the doubt at this stage.

While Mercedes have come up in performance, they are not at the front,at his type of circuit, anyhow.

At one point, close to the end, Grosjean allowed Kimi by, without too much challenge; it was a reasonable move, but I’m sure even Kimi doesn’t like it too much.  Grosjean successfully held off a battling Massa, who took the eighth.

Webber, on a crossed-up tire strategy, with the rash of safety car deployments, lost out, fairly big, but fought tooth and nail, right o the end, for every point.  He’s under investigation for one pass, on Kobayashi, during which it looked like he might have got all four wheels outside of the white line, marking the track; but he didn’t really have any options, not even after the move; it wouldn’t have been realistic for him to even give the place back up.  I hope it remains a racing incident with no penalty.  As it was, he couldn’t get past Ricciardo in the second Torro Rosso, in ninth so Webber took the single, and must realistically be the odd man out of the championship race.  I like Aussie’s, I like Webber; I was hoping he could be the Red Bull champion this year, but it is now really remote.

Trends:

As predicted, Red Bull would be back after their worst case scenario circuits, and Vettel is the best driver in the world right now.  Vettel moves into second in the champion ship, leapfrogging Lewis (DNF) and Kimi (6th); but an improvement for Alonso, still in first, and yet by even more points.  Kimi stays in third, passing Lewis.

Alonso is not unbeatable, and is definitely ‘the hunted’.  Vettel is so hot right now, but he does have 29 points at hand, more than a race win of points, with a total of 150 over the last six races.  Alonso has been unflappable, but if Lewis can continue driving as he has, and gets the equipment, he still has a shot at it; but he is a LONG way back, now.  But right now, the man in the mirror is Vettel, and he looks awesome.  I get the feeling that they are just barely keeping the Red Bull competitive, in the development race, but their race pace in Singapore was as good as any.  You could still see, however, Red Bull maxing out on the rev-limiter in seventh gear, that will be a drawback in Japan!

Kimi, still third, but with 149, he is 45 points behind Alonso on 194.  Lotus MUST bring the stuff, including a fully functional device, to get half a second a lap in race, and more in qualifying, or they are out of the hunt; so my ‘silly’ prediction about Kimi winning in Singapore, was every bit as silly as I indicated.  But this isn’t silly, if they can’t give Kimi a car with the potential to win, he won’t win.  If Kimi doesn’t win in Japan, it will be VERY difficult to win the championship.  If everything does work out with the upgrades to the Lotus, then it will be a very close race to the finish, with both drivers’ and constructors’ championships going three ways to the line.  Go Lotus go!  Kimi must love Suzuka, I’m picking him for victory, again.

Ferrari/Alonso: expect them to be closer on pace, both race and qualifying; they could be up at the front and if Alonso is at the pole for the start, he will be extremely difficult to beat in the race.

McLaren/Hamilton: should be very competitive, both top two in qualifying and race pace; Lewis is a likely candidate for victory, if he just can get completely over this weekend, and continue to spend energy only on the things that most make him go faster in the race and qualifying.  McLaren are going to be at least close, in the development race to the end of the season.  They just have to keep on doing what they can, and give him the best chance he can get, and hope for a bit of a break.

Red Bull/Vettel: The charging German bull.  He is on his game.  Can they tweak the Red Bull machinery to continued competitiveness at Suzuka?  It is not their worst-case scenario track; there are several components that play to their strengths.  So it will be very interesting to see their race pace.  But where they really need to advance their comparative advantage is in qualifying.  Everyone has seen the boon it has been recently for McLaren.  Vettel/Red Bull doesn’t need to be on the pole to win in Japan, but a place on the first two rows will really help his victory charge.  Vettel should, and likely will be focusing only in front of him, therefore, while doing their own Red Bull thing, Vettel will be looking to mark Fernando Alonso, and be in front of him, any way possible.

Force India: this team has made steady progress, and now is in fighting distance to Sauber!

So we have great, great potential for Suzuka, one of the great race tracks; for me, it is second only to Spa.  What to look for:

  1. Does the Lotus ‘device’ deliver a potential game-changing improvement and catapult Kimi into the heart of the drivers’ championship; look for it on Friday?
  2. Is Ferrari more competitive at Suzuka; can they qualify on the front row?  We should know by end of Friday’s practices.
  3. Can Lewis keep his cool, and thus his championship challenge alive; it should be evident by the second practice on Friday?  If Lewis is in the top four, he’s even odds for pole/victory.
  4. Can Red Bull be competitive at Suzuka?  We probably won’t get an idea until Q1, Saturday, because they (RB) will spend their energy making the car go faster, for qualifying and race, as opposed to showing that the car can be the fastest in practice.
  5. Will Mercedes get all of their stuff together to challenge at the front?  We’ll know by the end of the first practice, if the are in the top four.

Next report after the second practice.

Send comments, if you are there.

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