Friday, March 28, 2014

Dope. #176

Image courtesy of Icypix from W├Ârthersee 2013.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What to watch this Weekend (Mar 27th - April 2nd)

  • Pirelli World Challenge 2013. Detroit. Thursday @ 1pm - 2pm (MAVTV) replay
  • Formula 1 - Malaysia Grand Prix; from Kuala Lumpur/Sepang International Circuit. Practice #2. Friday @ 2am - 3:30am (NBCSN(HD))
  • Formula 1 - Malaysia Grand Prix; from Kuala Lumpur/Sepang International Circuit. Qualifying. Saturday @ 4am - 5:30am (NBCSN(HD))
  • Formula 1 - Malaysia Grand Prix; from Kuala Lumpur/Sepang International Circuit. Race. Sunday @ 3:30am - 6am (NBCSN(HD)) replay Sunday at 3pm
  • Indycar Series - Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, FL. Sunday @ 12:00pm - 3pm (ABC(HD))
  • Top Gear (UK). Marathon of past episodes. Monday @ 4pm - 11pm (BBCAmerica(HD)) replays
  • Motorweek. Tuesday @ 7:30pm - 8pm (VelocityHD) new
  • Legendary Motorcar. A shoe fit for a car. Tuesday @ 10pm - 10:30pm (VelocityHD) new
  • Wheeler Dealers. Dodge Charger. Wednesday @ 9pm - 10pm (VelocityHD) replay
There's rain in the forecast on the east coast, but there is a silver lining; there's racing action ahead. We have street circuit action for IndyCar's main season opener and F1 takes the action from Australia to Malaysia.

Last we left off, the F1 teams were in Melbourne trying to figure out which way was up in many cases. The cars are nervous in FP1, the delivery of torque leading to folks jumping all over the track. Practice ended with Hams having a sensor failure resulting in a stopped car. Williams, much like during pre-season testing, looked strong early, but as time passed Ferrari and Mercedes started fitting the part, and RedBull started putting it together as well. RedBull did have several mishaps, but so did many teams, in regards to reliability.

The sunshine was gone and the rain was in for Qualifying. There were a few notables from the session; Ricciardo performed well in the new car and Vettel kissed the wall early and qualified 12th in Q2 (ECU issue apparently), much to the Aussie crowds' delight. Mercedes looked strong, throughout, Kimi put it in the wall in Q2 and Williams looks like a contender. Grosjean broke his rear suspension in Q1 and has to start the race from the pit. Alonso is who we though he was, still one of the best drivers out there. Ricciardo gambles on intermediates at the end of Q3, and others follow suit to try to take advantage of the gap in rain. The big difference with the upgraded hybrid drive-train and turbo power of this years' car is the torque. Driver skill is being pushed this year with the current rules. The end of the Q3 was spectacular to say the least. Ricciardo putting a ballsy, twitchy, wet lap in on the inters, taking P1 albeit temporarily, with Hams coming in on a flyer to take P1 by 3 tenths. Looks like Daniel showed up for him home crowd in a big way, giving a hint of what's in store for Sunday. And there's a McLaren sighting! The young rookie, Kevin Magnussen taking P4. Williams and their lovely Martini Racing livery didn't finish too well, taking P9 and P15 respectively.

The race started with partly cloudy skies...then after the first warm-up lap the start was aborted. The Marussia of Bianci is to blame, stranded on the starting grid. The drivers take another warm-up lap and this brings up questions of heat and fuel consumption. Reliability is in question and many of the drivers are concerned with what their experiencing on this double start. Hams gets a crap start and Rosberg pops to the front; within a lap Magnussen passes him in the McLaren. By Lap 4 Ham's retires, despite some odd comms from the Pit on Lap 2. Due to the smaller total of power units this season, this may be a strategic move. Kobayashi bounces off Raikkonen and clips Massa to claim both cars broken and in the gravel. By lap 5 Vettel's car sounds like crap and he's pulling in for retirement. Ricciardo is still out there, despite earlier concerns about bogging down during overheating.

By lap 8, Bottas is duking it out with his fellow Fin Raikkonen for 7th place, up from 15th. He passes him within a lap and get separation as the sun creeps out from behind the clouds. The Mercedes powertrains, when on working cars, seem to have a high advantage in the KERS output department. Despite Bottas strong efforts, he puts his rear right wheel in the wall and suffers a puncture. He makes it back to the pits, but leaves a chunk of wheel and a tire carcas out for the field to avoid. This brings out the caution through lap 17/57. Rosberg is running away with it.

By lap 28/57 the dark clouds start rolling in; they threaten, but nothing major through the rest of the race. Teams hit the pits for tires around lap 35. Kimi fights his brakes. Button has some good pit strategy to match his drive which gets him into the top 5. Bottas is still hanging in there with a great showing. Magnussen is chasing down Ricciardo. Grosjean has a car failure, retiring on 46/57. The sun peeks through the clouds once again. By 51/57, Ricciardo's speed is waning. Magnussen chases him, but the field finishes as they sit. 

Rosberg takes the first win of the new era of F1. Ricciardo comes in 2nd in front of his home crowd to much applause. Magnussen, the rookie, comes in 3rd. Button 4th. Alonzo 5th.

Much controversy came post race, however, due to the Red Bull racing tossing the FIA fuel flow meter in favor of their own, in order to provide a more accurate result; this got Daniel Ricciardo's finish disqualified. Redbull Racing filed their appeal and are looking to have the result overturned by the FIA. Latest word is the appeal will be heard on April 14th, which is a confusing time to say the least.

Take aways? Well the harder tire compounds Pirelli put out for this year is taking tires out of the mix. What's replaced it is the reliability of the teams cars and the consistency of the electronics; both in function and in effective tune. The drivers will adjust to the power and the teams will learn plenty from this first weekend; but Malaysia is around the corner and it's going to be hot. Enjoy your weekends.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Car Pron: Jaguar F-Type R Coupe Review (XCAR)

The crew from XCAR review the 2015 Jaguar F-Type R coupe. It delivers ~550hp from a supercharged V8, all from within an ultra responsive, rigid, aluminum chassis.

Video courtesy of XCAR.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Automotive Workshop: The Inner Workings of Audi Tradition - Inside Quattro (Drive)

JF Musial and the gang from Drive continue the Inside Quattro series, now looking at the history of what Audi is all about -- and more importantly what Audi's technical application of Quattro all wheel drive is all about.

Video courtesy of Drive.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Motorsport Workshop: Let's Stop F1 + IMSA Screwing Up Racing (Shakedown)

Leo talks about last weekend's races and the issues that resulted from flawed organizational decisions. I'm with him on both issues.

Video courtesy of Drive.