Friday, November 22, 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What to watch this Weekend (Nov 21th - Nov 27th)

  • Mecum Auto Auctions. Muscle Cars and More 2013. From Anaheim, CA (Part 1). Thursday @ 6pm - 10pm (VelocityHD) new; replay at 10pm
  • WRC. Wales Rally. Thursday @ 10pm - 11pm (MAVTV) replay
  • Mecum Auto Auctions. Muscle Cars and More 2013. From Anaheim, CA (Part 2 & 3). Friday @ 4pm - 10pm (VelocityHD) new; replay at 10pm
  • Formula 1 - Brazilian Grand Prix; from Cicuito Carlos Pace-Interlagos, San Paolo, Brazil. Practice #1. Friday @ 11am - 12:30am (NBCSN(HD)) live
  • Formula 1 - Brazilian Grand Prix; from Cicuito Carlos Pace-Interlagos, San Paolo, Brazil. Qualifying. Saturday @ 11am - 12:30pm (CNBC(HD)) live; replay Sunday @ 1am on NBCSN
  • FIA European Rally Championship. Rally Poland. Saturday @ 2pm - 3pm (VelocityHD) new
  • Mecum Auto Auctions. Muscle Cars and More 2013. From Anaheim, CA (Part 4 & 5). Saturday @ 4pm - 10am (VelocityHD) new; replay at 10pm
  • Formula 1 - Brazilian Grand Prix; from Cicuito Carlos Pace-Interlagos, San Paolo, Brazil.  Race. Sunday @ 11am - 2pm (NBC(HD)) live; replay Sunday @ 3:30pm on NBCSN
  • Chasing Classic Cars. Marathon of past and current seasons. Sunday @ 2pm - 11pm (VelocityHD) replays
  • Top Gear (UK). Marathon of past episodes. Monday @ 4pm - 3am (BBC America(HD)) great replays
  • Motorweek. 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA. Tuesday @ 8pm - 8:30pm (VelocityHD) new
  • Chasing Classic Cars. Tuesday @ 10pm - 10:30pm (VelocityHD) replay
  • Top Gear America. Tuesday @ 10pm - 11pm (History Channel(HD)) new
  • Wheeler Dealers. Wednesday @ 8pm - 10pm (VelocityHD) replays 
It's a sad weekend; as the motorsport season is all but officially over. There are many great things to look forward to in 2014, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. V8 Supercars has two more races, one being this weekend, but I'm not sure where you can view it for free yet (if you 'subscribe' on the official website you can stream). And of course F1's 2013 season comes to an end in Brazil. Without any further delay let's get our Iron Butterfly Inagaddadavida extended-version recap of the US Grand Prix started.

In F1 news, Heikki Kovalainen is filling in for Kimi Raikkonen who's out for the rest of the season recovering from successful back surgery. Heikki has never been to COTA and doesn't know the car he's driving, but is working hard to get seat time in. Felipe Massa signed with Williams for 2014 (Maldonado is out). Alonso hurt is back in Abu Dahbi hoppin crubs, but has been cleared to race. Sergio perez, despite his performances and moxie out on the track this season is out at McLaren. They signed 21 year old Kevin Magnussen for 2014 to join Jenson Button. It turns out that the broken rear wishbone on Hamilton's car from the last race wasn't the only thing wrong with his car; additional examination revealed that he had cracks in his monocoque. This explains Lewis's confusion after the race was over in Abu Dahbi. In other racing news, Dario Frachitti retires at 40 after getting not so promising news from his doctors post-surgery, in the aftermath of that brutal crash earlier this IndyCar season. Additionally, Paul Di Resta, cousin of Dario was rumored to have a in at Chip Ginassi for Dario's seat if he doesn't find a drive in F1 for 2014. Current word is that Hulkenberg will pickup Paul's seat at Force India.

Alexander Rossi - American GP2 racer, participates in FP1, driving one of the Caterhams to help them finish in the Constructor's top 10 (in the money). Noteably, Alex out paces Charles Pic in FP1. American Conor Daly hangs out in the Sahara Force India pit, but doesn't get a go today. Foggy in Austin for FP1, cool track temps. Red flag shows up because the medical helicopter goes missing...or perhaps it never showed up. And then it shows up. FP1 clock gets started again, but a lot of time was lost before it was frozen, in addition to the fog earlier. Lewis has a new chassis this weekend, but he seems to be slowly getting used to its feel. Alonso and Button are tops in FP1.

With as short as FP1 was, now FP2 is loaded with empty garages a plenty. Track temps warm up, times drop, but the dial-in of the cars continues. Plenty of people trying to find that great balance for the connected corners of COTA, avoiding both front end push and snap oversteer. Marussia engine failure in FP1 and Marussia brake failure in FP2. Yikes. FP2 ended familiarly with Redbull, Redbull, Mercedes, Mercedes. Kovalainen has put in 40 laps during practice to get up to speed and his pace is solid; his fastest time is right behind the Mercedes and more importantly, ahead of Grosjean.

Q1 starts off windy. It would seem from the driver's comments that the wind is changing the temperature of the track and along with the wind is affecting car performance. That said, Bottas (rookie) is in the top five with 5mins left in this session. Hards seem to get up to temperature better than the mediums and thus are working better despite the lesser stick. Also, people are getting speed up, 137:xxx at the top with Hamilton's Mercedes. Sutil puts in a flyer, but when attempting to pull another one out of his hat it appears something broke on his front end and he goes off the track, then pulls to a stop. Massa, in 16th, is slowly working his way around the track like his pit told him to save the tires; people are swerving around him on flyers. When the smoke clears Bottas is at the top with a 1:37.821, followed by Hamilton, Gutierrez (lookin fast), Webber ang Hulkenberg. Traffic in Q1 was pretty bad.

It turns out when Adrian Sutil went off at the end of Q1, he had a right-front brake failure (same thing that happened to Fore India teammate Paul Di Resta in Abu Dahbi). Q2 starts off with Hamilton shooting to the top early (138.104) and Perez, his replacment at McLaren, second (1:38.116). The Grosjean jumps into the 1:37s. Then the RedBulls come out with mediums. Webber takes the lead, then Bottas shows he ain't going no where (P4), Alonso pops up and then Vettel grabs the belt with 1:45 left, nearly breaking into the 136's (1:37.065). The real surprises are towards the bottom of the field; Mexican driver's Gutierrez and Perez, who's fans have come out in droves, both make Q3 respectively in P8 and P9, Kovalainen gets himself into P10 by the skin of his teeth, but Ricciardo, Button, Massa and more notably Rosberg fail to go forward. It appeared that Massa didn't even put in a flyer, just came back to the pit knowing he couldn't advance with thier existing setup. It would appear that those drivers that weren't able to get thier Engineers the information needed to dial in the car fell short; of course on some situations those not making Q3 were never going to have the pace. Massa when interviewed afterwards talked about being confused with the lack of performance between FP2 and Q1; several drivers had the same experience. Me thinks that depending on weather conditions on Sunday, the pace could shuffle once more.

Q3 starts with Webber pulling out a 1:36.699. Bottas pulls a 1:37:836 out of his sleeve with :30 left, taking P3, for the time being. The flyers start rolling in and Kovalainen improves to P8, Perez to P7, Bottas falls to P9, Gutierrez p10, Hamilton P5, Hulkenberg P4, Grosjean P8 and even though Webber improved to a 1:36.441, Vettel snatches pole from him by 1 tenth (1:36.338). "Shake and Bake." What's special about Valtteri Bottas' performance in this race is the fact that Williams is trying to edge out Marussia for the last cash payout position in the Constructor's Championship, worth a bit over 40mil. If he can finish in the points they can separate themselves enough to grab the cash. This cash, is especially important for development with Massa coming into the fold in 2014 and thier hopes for not being a bottom feeder going forward.
Race day is sunny and calm. This is actually a better playing field for all, but that just means RedBull still holds their typical speed advantage over the field. Remember the traffic issues during qualy? Estiban Gutierrez, who held up Maldonando, got a 10 spot grid penalty. Charles Pic got a 5 spot grid penalty and Max Chilton gets a drive-through penalty, for their impedance of drivers in qualifying.

The start was interesting; Webber looked to have a run on Seb into turn 1, but grosjean stuck his nose in and got around the outside, assuming P2; meanwhile Hamilton got a run and passed Webber mid turn (following right behind Grosjean), taking P3. Vettel takes off as usual. Hams is hounding Grosjean with pressure, but meanwhile in the back of the field Sutil and Maldonado come together, leaving some carbon on the race track. Next thing you know Sutil's Force India breaks lose on all 4 tires and puts it into the wall on the straight. Safety Car released. Upon further review it appears he came into contact with Maldonado on the straight resulting in the crash. The drivers roll behind the safety car as they move Sutil's car off the track (3/56).

4/56 the yellow flag drops after Vettel bunches the field up, pretty aggressively I might add. Grosjean is in persuit, but has still fallen outside of the DRS usage range within a relatively short distance (1.3sec). Perez and Hulkenberg go at it and Nico gets the better of him, in 6/56. Max chilton takes his drive through penalty. DRS is enabled in 7/56.

Maldonado has a broken front wing and lets his pit know about it. Maldonado may not be getting much support due to his comments from yesterday post-qualy, essentially stating that the team messed with the cars settings to keep him from succeeding. The reality is probably much different, but the relationship is strained since the annoucement that he's out in 2014.

Heikki starts pretty well, but has fallen to P12 which isn't going to help in Lotus' Constructor's Championship chase. Vettel is holding onto a pretty solid 3.5 second lead over Grosjean and Hamilton is holding off Webber. The conditions and these harder tire choices (only Medium and Hard compounds this weekend) are setting this up to be a one stop race. 11/56 and all drivers are going strong on thier original tires. Perez is racing for the Mexican fans and is delivering thus far. Sergio is holding onto P6 in 12/56. Webber stays in Hamilton's mirrors and the Petronas pit tells Lewis to manage the tires; quite the catch 22. Webber finally gets him on 13/56 with an outside line pass.

Rosberg and Ricciardo dice it up in the battle for 10th in 20/56. Button gets called into the pits on 21/56; this could be the first of many. Button comes in for hards. Massa, in P12, is told to speed up and box on lap 22; he comes out on hards in P15 ahead of Jenson Button. Meanwhile in a parallel universe, Alonso and and Perez are going at it. Perez is told to come in and he comes back out in P10. Bottas comes in on 24/56 for Hards, coming back out in P10. Hamilton's pit tells him to get as big a gap up as possible as he'll be coming in for primes(hards) soon. Gutierrez, Vergne and Perez mix it up in a battle for 6th while the leaders come in. Hams pits on 26/56 for hards. Vettel Grosjean and Webber stay out on thier mediums, looking to have stickier tires at the end of the race. In the meantime though, traffic may cause Vettel issues.

Alonso pits on 27/56 for hards, comes out in P7 with Perez breathing down his neck. Vettel pits for hards on 28/56 as he was losing time in traffic, returning in P1. Hulkenberg pits for hards as well, coming out in P5. So the question is what can Grosjean and Webber do? Webber is told to pit on 29/56, so Romain may be the odd man out; he's in P1 with old tires. Alonso gets by Gutierrez after having to work for it. Grosjean is in the pit on 30/56 for hards, falling to P2 on exit. Webber goes purple, chasing down Grosjean, now in his mirrors. Depending on how this goes, they both could burn through thier tires. Accordingly, Vettel's pit tells him to watch his tires as he'll have a couple more laps on them than him come the end of the race. Rosberg gets by Di Resta on 34/56 to take P10. Gutierrez passes Bottas, who's looking to score his first Championship point, for P8 on 35/56. Not much after that happened, Bottas takes the position back with a solid maneuver going into turns 5-8.

The numbers are showing that Hamilton is reeling Mark Webber in, so his chase of Grosjean may have crippled him given there are 20 laps left. Gutierrez pits for hards on 37/56 (3rd stop), comes back out in P15. Heikki is not doing so well, hanging in P17. Massa pits for the third time for mediums (39/56). Ricciardo and Di Resta battle for P10. Alonso gets by Hulkenberg for P5 on 45/56 with a textbook out and under (switch-back); these possible points are cruicial in the Constructor's Championship chase. Vettel and his pit exchange words concerning longevity, so apparently tire wear isn't the only concern.

Grosjean has Webber all over him like a cheap suit with 8 laps left. Charles Pic gets a drive through penalty for ignoring blue flags (held up Hamilton). Di Resta pits from P11 on 50/56, oh well. As of 53/56, Grosjean has cut Vettel's gap to 7 secs, as Vettel is in cruise (and possible damage) control. Webber can't get by Grosjean and is looking for answers; now his rears are going off 54/56. 55/56 and Vettels camp is still telling him to manage the race (goes purple). Button tries to take P10 from Ricciardo and takes it on the inside on the last lap. Everyones tires are going off, including Alonso, however he has used the switch-back to maintain P5. Gutierrez, in the back of the pack crossed tires with a Torro Rosso and spun out; disappointing day for him.

Vettel takes the win (8th in a row), gets introspective and touch emotional with his team on the radio, then does a few donuts to continue his new tradition. Grosjean comes in second, Webber in third, Hamilton fourth, Alonso 5th, Hulkenberg 6th, Perez 7th (great showing for the Mexican fans - "Viva Checo!"), Bottas P8, Rosberg P9, Button P10 (taking a championship point for McLaren which they need plenty of). Hamilton, while missing the podium, did have some positives come from this race. He placed 4th, had no major issues, leapfrogged Kimi in the Driver's Championship for 3rd position and has a car he believes in the chassis he now has under him. Lewis is also very fond of the US, COTA and success of this event/venue.

Brazil will bring a lot intrigue. Alonso will be racing to show he's the best of the field behind Vettel and also wants Ferrari to beat Mercedes in the Constructor's. Massa will essentially be doing to same to a degree, but will be enjoying performing on his home course in front of his family, friends and fans. Grosjean will be looking to assert himself as the new best of the rest as well as the new captain of Lotus Renault; I think he's already established the latter. Kovalainen will be looking to get more comfortable in the car so he can remain at Lotus in 2014. Hulkenberg will be trying to finish on another good note. Di Resta wil be looking to get one more showcase of his talent to try suring up a seat another possible team, in or out of F1. Bottas will try to keep his momentum going with another good showing to help William's get that final slice of Constructor's money. Webber will be trying to get one more good showing before retiring from F1, most importantly a win and the end of Vettel's current streak. Vettel, of course will be looking to match Ascari's record of 9 consecutive win's in Grand Prix racing; he'll also be trying collect another pole and fastest laps; much like he stated to his team over the radio, the good times will end at some point, so I'm certain he'll be trying to get it while the gettin's good. Enjoy your weekends.

Video courtesy of V8Supercars.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Motorsport Workshop: Jackie Stewart / 'Weekend Of A Champion' Film (Shakedown)

Leo Parente of Drive's Shakedown interviews legendary racing driver Sir Jackie Stewart. Before doing so he looks at the newly revised classic film, Weekend of a Champion, which is composed of footage of Jackie Stewart's experiences during the 1971 Monaco GP.

Video courtesy of Drive.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Car Pron: 2014 Jaguar F-Type V8 S: The Meanest and Loudest Jag in the Jamboree! (MotorTrend)

MotorTrends' Carlos Lago analyzes the new Jaguar F-Type V8 S to get a more accurate picture of what it's capable of. 447whp dyno numbers most likely put this model in the 500hp club.

Video courtesy of MotorTrend.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Car Pron: Audi RS 6: Family Looks, Supercar Pace (XCAR)

The gang from XCAR bring us a review of the latest Audi RS6 Avant. We love fast estates.

Video courtesy of XCARFilms.