Thursday, September 13, 2018

What to watch this Weekend (Sept 14th - Sept 19th)

  • Formula 1 - Singapore Grand Prix; from the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore. Practice 1. Friday @ 4:25am - 6am (ESPN2(HD)) live
  • Formula 1 - Singapore Grand Prix; from the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore. Practice 2. Friday @ 8:25am - 10am (ESPNU(HD)) live
  • Formula 1 - Singapore Grand Prix; from the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore. Practice 3. Friday @ 5:55am - 7am (ESPN2(HD)) live 
  • Formula 1 - Singapore Grand Prix; from the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore. Qualifying. Saturday @ 8:55am - 10am (ESPN2(HD)) live/delayed airing
  • Formula 1 - Singapore Grand Prix; from the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore. Race. Sunday @ 8am - 10am (ESPN2(HD)) live
  • Chasing Classic Cars. Tuesday @ 7pm - 7:30pm (VelocityHD) replay
  • Motorweek. Tuesday @ 7:30pm - 8pm (VelocityHD) replay
  • Bitchin' Rides. Tuesday @ 8pm - 9pm (VelocityHD) replay
  • Garage Squad. Season 5 Ep4. Wednesday @ 9pm - 10pm (VelocityHD) new
Monza was electric from start to finish and it left a lot of rumors swirling about next years remaining driver lineup shuffles. Qualy was a true shoot out between the teams with power; Ferrari and Merc battled it out -- teammates were looking for friendly tows on the straights and the final hot lap of Q3 had Hams, Vettel and Kimi crossing the line in order, each out pacing the prior by just a little bit. Iceman capturing his first pole in over ten years was a great highlight for the Tifosi and this grizzled vet, especially with all the talk of him being out next season in favor of LeCLerc (since I wrote this, it has actually happened and following that Kimi has signed a 2yr deal with Sauber, his first F1 team -- see vid below). This lead to an all Ferrari front row in Italy for the first time years; Hams in third spot looking to be aggressive early to try making some headway on Ferrari's edge.

The race started out with drama early, Hams following a gap that opened when Kimi was  being moved on by Vettel into turn one, took the long way around and Vettel appeared to get desperate and tried pinching Hams off after he was ahead. Oddly enough, what would typically lead to the hit car getting turned around, lead to the opposite. Vettel spun around, which put him back in the field. There was some other melee during lap one which lead to a yellow flag, so Vettel hit the pits for softs and got back out there with the hopes of it being his only necessary pitstop. Kimi and Hams on the supersofts kept pushing ahead, but Kimi never got real separation from Hamilton, which was strange to see given the previous races. While Merc brought some minor updates to Monza I believe this was more the result of how Monza is designed; there aren't many turns where following closely is penalized by the wake of the leading car. The straights give benefits of both tow and DRS for those within 1 sec, so this lead to less separation the edge Ferrari had over Mercedes. Hams and Kimi both pitted and went onto softs and Verstappen and Bottas battled late for the final podium spot. Vettel and his pit made a smart decision to stop around lap 32 for a second time, to get back onto supersofts to make up some time on the cars ahead on pold softs. This strategy worked out ok for him; he ended up finishing in fourth, due to a 5 second penalty given to Verstappen for getting his elbows a bit too wide while trying to hold off an advancing Bottas into turn 1 at the end of the main straight, touching tires with Bottas, while he was being edged off the track. Verstappen was furious, but made a decision to keep Bottas behind him to make a point, rather than left Bottas go ahead and possibly hold onto the fourth spot by letting Bottas tow him to quicker lap times. By the end of the race, Vettel was just over 3 seconds behind Verstappen which was a big help in countering what happened with Hams' race.

Kimi pitted earlier than Hamilton and got back out to put in purple laps to make up on time when Hams came in for his softs -- but there was another factor in play during this window of opportunity; Bottas was on the track ahead of Raikkonen when he came out of the pits, still on his initial set of tires. Bottas kept Kimi behind him for about 5 laps, through Hamilton's pitstop, making a Ferrari sammich before pitting for his own podium race against Verstappen, during which Kimi worked really hard to get by, unsuccessfully. Simultaneously, Hams stayed out for a few laps more and burned up his supersofts running great laps to try getting a gap on Kimi to come out the pit ahead. While Hams wasn't successful in getting out ahead of Kimi, Kimi over worked his new softs early while trying to eat up Hamilton's strategy and later trying to pass Bottas. This ended up biting him in the ass late -- Hamilton took care of his softs much better, which allowed him to overtake Kimi with a few laps left in the GP. Kimi's rears looked terrible with ten laps to go and he had to manage them to avoid delamination in the final lap.

In the end Hamilton won Monza from outside of pole, the first time this has ever happened, Merc took a slightly bigger lead in the constructors and Hams stretched his lead. Kimi was praised by the Tifosi on the podium and mysteriously Bottas never got interviewed. There were some significant DNF's too; Grosjean got DQ'd after finishing 8th due to a rules violation involving his floor that the Haas team didn't get corrected (and a rival team reportred), Ricciardo looked pretty good early, making his way through deep in the field after power unit penalties, just to have another smokey failure early in the race. Alonso had another mechanical failure (surprising, I know) and Hartley got pinched by two racers heading into turn 1 and had his front right wheel hub broken off. With Singapore on the menu the Driver's Championship standings are as follows: Hamilton, Vettel (-30), Raikkonen (-92), Bottas (-97), Verstappen (-126), Ricciardo (-138).

Enjoy your weekends

Video courtesy of Autosport.