Friday, September 20, 2013

Wallpaper of the Week. #23

Image courtesy of AP from BGP 2013.
Baltimore Grand Prix sneak peek #4. Muscle Milk Car does a LMP1 driver good.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What to watch this Weekend (Sept 19th - Sept 25th)

  • WRC. Rally action from Australia. Thursday @ 10pm - 11pm (MAVTV) replay
  • Formula 1 - Singapore Grand Prix; from the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore. Practice. Friday @ 9:30am - 11am (NBCSN(HD)) live
  • Fifth Gear (UK). Toyota GT-86. Friday @ 10pm - 11pm (VelocityHD) new
  • ALMS. Circuit of the Americas. Saturday @ 4:30pm - completion ( live; replay on ESPN2 Sunday @ 1pm
  • Formula 1 - Singapore Grand Prix; from the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore. Qualifying. Sunday @ 1am - 2:30am (NBCSN(HD)) next-day delay
  • Formula 1 - Singapore Grand Prix; from the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore. Race. Sunday @ 7:30am - 10:00am (NBCSN(HD)) live
  • Australian V8 Supercars. Dick Smith Sandown 500. From Sandown International Motor Raceway in Victoria, Australia. Sunday @ 7pm - 10pm (FS2(HD)) delayed airing from 9/15
  • Top Gear (UK). Marathon of past episodes. Monday @ 4pm - 3am (BBCAmericaHD)) great replays
  • Motorweek. Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. Tuesday @ 8pm - 8:30pm (VelocityHD) new
  • Chasing Classic Cars. Mysterious Find. Tuesday @ 10pm - 10:30pm (VelocityHD) new
  • Top Gear America. Season 4 - Episode 4. America's Biggest Cars. Tuesday @ 9pm - 10pm (HistoryChannel(HD)) new
  • Wheeler Dealers. Morris Minor Traveller. Wednesday @ 9pm - 10pm (VelocityHD) new
This weekend will be a great one. Motorsports through the roof, new specials and the coolest F1 venue of the year; under the night lights on the streets of Singapore. Where did we leave off...

Practice at Monza didn't tell us much besides the fact that RedBull Renault and Petronas Mercedes are still fast. Massa lost his gearbox with about 30mins left in P2, but since practice isn't 'official' repairs can be made without penalty on race starting position. Rosberg also had mechanical problems in practice which were all addressed prior to the start of qualy. Vettel, if you didn't think he was fast enough in P3, ended up getting a taller 7th gear added to his car to address limiter bouncing that was occurring on the straights. Paul Di Resta runs into some bad luck with a brake failure that ended up putting him into the parabolica sandtrap wall during P3.

Q1 put the usual suspects at the top of the order, Vettel and his tall 7th was tops. The only real drama was Williams Renault trying to get their cars into Q2; with a flying lap and a wide race line, Maldonado pulled off 12th spot to make Q2. Both Ferrari's made it through to Q2.

Webber, when interviewed about Ricciardo's chances at RedBull next year stated that he believes Daniel will get a fair go at winning, given that he is a RedBull junior driver like Vettel was in 2008 and they seem to be keen to keep this program moving along in this manner. Additionally, he explained that there will be new challenges for him given that he'll have a top car which come with certain expectations; fastest laps, pole positions and podiums. Time will tell how things will go, but the first half of Daniels' 2015 season will say a lot about where he'll end up.

Early in Q2, Hams pushes a bit too wide in the parabolica bend and ends up pitting for new tires. The end of Q2 actually raised some eyebrows. Rosberg puts in a solid lap and takes 4th, hams on a flyer couldn't manage more than 10th at the time he finished the lap, but he wasn't able to run an even faster lap to ensure his position. 8 more cars put in flyers and after the smoke cleared Hams was in 12th, out of Q3. Niki Lauda's displeasure was obvious. Hams has taken pole in Monza for 4 years in a row and the streak was snapped; it appears that traffic hampered him and more specifically the stewards are investigating whether Paul Di Resta held him up. Hamilton when interviewed later stated that something was off on the car after he hit the gravel early in Q2; this ended up being significant as it he damaged the carbon under-body aero. Another surprise was Lotus failed to make Q3 with either car. The home fans were happy that both Ferrari's made Q3, which appeared to be a positive outlook towards their slingshot drafting strategy which they used last year.

With 8:37 left in Q3, Massa leads Alonzo out of the Ferrari pit to put in work. Webber puts the gauntlet down at 1:23.990. Vettel follows up with a smokin' 1:23.859. Alonzo and Massa's first effort produce 1:24.732 (4th) and 1:24.419 (3rd), respectively. They pit again to prepare for a tight flyer at the end of Q3. Daniel Ricciardo puts in a monster lap and splits the Ferrari's at 1:24.538, taking over 4th. Vettel and the two McLaren's (who both actually made Q3!) leave the pits with 2mins left. Ferrari's slingshot plan goes awry when Massa goes a bit too quickly for Alonzo. What Alonzo didn't realize is that while Massa is a team player, he's in a bigger hot seat that Alonzo is. Massa puts down a 1:24.132, taking 4th. Alonzo takes 5th with a 1:24.142, Sauber Ferrari's Nico Hulkenburg takes 3rd(!) with a 1:24.065 and Vettel shows his dominance shaving over a tenth off his previous time (1:23.755). Webber holds 2nd and Rosberg grabs 6th spot.

Pre-race shows conditions much different than the previous two days; a damp track with continuous drizzle. The pressure on Scudaria Ferrari is palpable and the love within the pit wall is apparently being tested. Teams are doing warm-ups with medium and intermediates to see what the plan will be for this race, but it appears that the race will be relatively dry...for now.

The races starts off with fireworks. Hams and Raikkonen (running mid-pack) make their way up the field a bit, but Hams gets around Kimi relatively quickly. Kimi gets cut off by Perez and ends up bumping him off the track in turn one; this ends up putting Kimi in the pit after the first lap for a new front wing. Di Resta's bad fortune continues with a brake lock-up impact into the back of Grosjean, effectively detaching his left front suspension components. Massa works his way past Webber early for 2nd and attempts to chase down Vettel. Webber is passed by Alonzo with a strong move, which results in clipping the front wing right-side endplate off Webber's car. It looks like Ferrari is strong and they are extremely motivated, with Massa showing more speed than the two. Within three laps Vettel puts the gap on Massa to 1.1 seconds so it appears he's right on pace for what he typically does; milk the lead to stay out of DRS range and take advantage of clean air. Ferrari seems to have ordered Massa to give way to Alonzo, so either it's the same ol' same ol' with team orders or they're trying to use the drafting technique during the race for the betterment of the team. Smells fishy thus far.

Hamilton is still in 11th on lap 11, but he's running on a two stop strategy with the hards, so it seems he should gain spots on the next couple laps. Unfortunately for Lewis the pit lets him know he has to box for a slow puncture. He's had radio problems and the pit has already announced they cannot hear him, but whether this is a two way street has yet to be determined. Hams goes another lap without pitting, but eventually pits on 14/53. He comes back out on options in 19th place. Jean-Eric Vergne retires with mechanical troubles in lap 16. Vettel has gotten radio traffic about his right front, but he hasn't pitted yet. Due to the length of the pit in Monza, the delta for pitting and holding position is quite high. Vettel tries to build on his gap over Alonzo by putting out effortless fast laps. Alonzo, who is trying to stay on the same strategy as Vettel isn't so sure his tires will last.

Grosjean pits on 21/53 for hards. Button stops on 22/53 for hards. Hulkenburg is still in 5th and his pit is telling him to push as a pitstop is around the corner; same instructions come from Ricciardo's pit. Kimi has done well since his emergency pit stop on lap one and his times are above average (in 7th). Vettel and Webber both pit on lap 24/53 for hards. Alonzo assumes first place and his pit tells him to step on it, but it doesn't quite work out as Vettel's pace ruins Alonzo's chances of leapfrogging him with this next stop. Things are starting to get interesting; Vettel is putting out qualifying-like laps to chase Alonzo who hasn't pitted yet, but in doing so Alonzo will have fresher tires when he does pit. Alonzo finally pits on 27/53 and like telepathic magic the RedBull pit tells Vettel to slow down. Alonzo comes in for hards (2.6 sec pit) and comes out behind Vettel and in front of Webber on lap 28/53. Webber is on hards and his pit tells him to take care of this set as he'll be finishing the race on them. Hamilton passes Rosberg for 7th spot on 29/53, but he's on a different strategy (on options) while Rosberg is running hards to the finish.

Raikkonen pits on 31/53 from 8th, for options to finish the race on. Hamilton passes Hulkenburg for 5th on 33/53, as he'll have to stop again before the end and needs as much time cushion as possible; he now has his eyes on Massa. Button and Perez round out the top ten on hards. Hamilton and Raikkonen continue very fast laps to make up for their adapted pit strategies. Hamiltons' pit tells him to box on 39/53 and comes out in 14th on another set of options. It's about time for some hot laps to finish this race out. Webber is taking chunks out of Alonzo's lead and Vettel is running away from Alonzo; Ferrari isn't looking too good for podium right now. Webber would love to have a great result as a F1 send off given his historically bad performances here.

Gearbox issues arise for Webber (short shift requested for gears 2-3 by pit). Vettel's being told to shortshift 5-6. Kimi is ahead of Hams as they try working their way through the field; they both get by Sutil on 46/53. Raikkonen has KERS issues reported by his pit on lap 47. Kimi seems to be ignoring his pit though and is setting personal best laps. Hams passes Kimi on Curve Grande on lap 49/53 and turns his eyes on Perez; he passes Perez on lap 50 and aims for Button to get further into the points. Alonzo gets the gap to Vettel down to 8 seconds, but there aren't enough laps to catch him. Hams passes Button on the front straight of lap 51, taking 9th. Kimi, following suit, is looking to pass Button after dispatching Perez.

Last lap, Vettels pit tells him to 'just bring it home'. Sutil pits for some reason, retiring from the race. Vettel takes the checkered flag with Alonzo, Webber, Massa and Hulkenburg following. Webber and Kimi shut it down right past the finish line, everyone else taking the obligatory cool down lap. Hamilton does good to work his way to finish 9th, from as low as 19th today, meanwhile Perez just misses the points. The colorful mob known as the Tefosi rush the front straight for the drivers podium presentation. The Tifosi boo birds taunt Vettel as usual, but when champagne time came all three drivers may have shown the most enthusiasm I've seen all season. Webber got the respect of the fans for his last time out and they were thrilled to have Alonzo representing Italy. With this win Sebastian Vettel has tied Fernando Alonzo with 32 career F1 race wins.

This weekend should be great; Vettel is going to try to assert himself per usual, Mercedes is going to try to get Hams on the top of the podium for a second time, Webber is going to continue his farewell tour and Alonzo is going to try hanging on to his second spot in the standings. Oh and Massa will continue fighting for his job. Enjoy your weekends.

Video courtesy of ALMSOfficialVideos.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Car Pron: Ferrari F40 v Ferrari F50. Like You've Never Seen Them Before (CHOC)

Chris lives out our automotive fantasies yet again, with a pair of Maranello heavy-weights. Oh my.

Video courtesy of Drive.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Automotive Topic: 2014 Porsche 911 GT3 & Walter Röhrl! Plus Super Snake and Aventador! (MotorTrend)

MotorTrends Wide Open Throttle group analyzes a few fast sports cars including the new Porsche (991)911 GT3, Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster and Ford Mustang based Shelby Super Snake. This discussion is wrapped up with a one on one with Motorsport Legend Walter Roehrl, driving the new 911 GT3 and giving his input on this new Porsche.

Video courtesy of MotorTrend.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Motorsport Workshop: KRÜGSPEED Lotus - How 'Fast' Happens Part 2 (Shakedown)

Leo Parente's trip to Limerock Park continues with his shakedown of the Krügspeed Lotus Elise SCCA track car.

Video courtesy of Drive.