MOTORSPORT /// F1 /// 2014 GRAND PRIX OF BELGIUM (22.8.2014 – 24.8.2014) /// UNWANTED COMMENTARY: SHALL WE DO THIS LIVE? /// P2…

  • Good morning.
  • Yes, back from that spur-of-the-moment 2.5-week break.
  • Just in time for a double race weekend.
  • …The Belgian Grand Prix (of course).
  • …And, WRC ADAC Rallye Deutschland.
  • Fun Friday Fact…
  • …The home of the Belgian GP (Francorchamps, Belgium) is (only) just under an hour and a half away from the Rally Germany base of Trier.
  • …The hills are alive with a lot of noise in that little corner of the world.
  • Okay, shall we take a little peek at the notorious Spa?
  • …Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, that is.
  • Hold up…
  • …Yellow flag.
  • …Maldonado’s Lotus is parked up, alongside a barrier.
  • …On replay, it was a single car spin-out.
  • …Bouncing on one side and parking it on the other.
  • Right, Spa.
  • …It is 7.004km (4.352mi) in length.
  • …All very twisty and hilly.
  • …Run clockwise.
  • …With a whopping 19 (official) turns.
  • …My Rorschach take…
  • …It’s shaped like a “ray gun” water pistol.
  • …Or, if you’re familiar with ice climbing and mountaineering, an ice tool.
  • …On race day, there will be 44 laps.
  • …Which will bring the total distance traveled to 308.052km (191.415mi).
  • …And it’s all very, very fast.
  • …Which can be read as very, very frightening.
  • …Last year’s winner was Red Bull’s Vettel.
  • …Second went to Ferrari’s Alonso.
  • …Third went to Mercedes’ Hamilton.
  • News going into this round…
  • …Um…
  • Well, let’s start with Caterham.
  • …Caterham has opted to send LeMans driver Andre Lotterer (DEU) out not just for P1, bit for the entire weekend.
  • …In place of Kobayashi.
  • …Why?
  • …Because, it’s fun to give Kobayashi the shaft.
  • …And, F1 hasn’t done it in a while.
  • …No, if I remember correctly, it is a sort of publicity move.
  • …Remember that Caterham is under new ownership and cleaned house.
  • …So, weird should be normal.
  • …The 32-year-old Lotterer did test with Jaguar F1 in the early ’00s.
  • …And, he’s very familiar with Spa.
  • …So, you know, why not?
  • …Beyond a total bummer for Kobayashi, though.
  • On a related note, how about Marussia?
  • …Now, if you want truly weird and unfortunate, here you go.
  • …Due to mysterious contractual issues.
  • …That JUST popped up Thursday.
  • …Max Chilton was pulled from the lineup for the weekend.
  • …In his place would be Alexander Rossi.
  • …Who, if you’ll recall, just joined Marussia as a reserve.
  • …After being booted in the Caterham madness.
  • …It would be his F1 debut and he would be the first American to run in F1 in (around) a decade.
  • …BUT…
  • …Overnight…
  • …As in, it was just announced this morning…
  • …Those mysterious contractual issues were resolved and Chilton was reinstated, effective immediately.
  • …Though, Rossi was left in for P1.
  • …In which he came in 20th (of 22, just above Lotterer).
  • Sauber’s Gutierrez is stopped on track.
  • …Radioing with total gearbox failure.
  • Yeah, so, whatever is up at Marussia…
  • …Yikes.
  • …Does that summarize it well enough?
  • …I’d go with a double “yikes” with a grimace for Caterham.
  • Okay, how about we discuss Toro Rosso?
  • …Toro Rosso has signed Max Verstappen to a multi-year contract.
  • …Starting in 2015.
  • …So, who’s out?
  • …Vergne.
  • …Who, apparently, has not been giving them the results they want.
  • …Nothing to do with the car crapping out or catching on fire or anything, of course.
  • …Here’s the issue…
  • …Verstappen is 16.
  • …Which, in and of itself, there is nothing wrong with.
  • …Toro Rosso’s Kvyat (who turned 20 midway through this season) has done very well, both performance-wise and mentally.
  • …And, Verstappen, like McLaren rookie Magnussen, comes from a racing family.
  • …So, he does know the ins and outs and has the tools to deal with the pressures, etc.
  • …My concern is that this could be turning into a trend.
  • …A race to find the youngest and brightest of stars.
  • …Which…no.  Just, no.
  • …And, with so few seats in F1, where does that put the guys with experience?
  • …If they want to play this game, (maybe) F1 needs to find a way to produce more seats.
  • …Make it easier for teams to start and stay.
  • …I mean, a guy like Vergne, who is (clearly) talented, who was in competition with Ricciardo for that Red Bull seat, shouldn’t be tossed out into such an unknown.
  • …Look at the guys who have lost seats and, thus, their place in F1 over just the last few seasons.
  • …Heikki Kovalainen, Bruno Sennna, Paul diResta, Giedo van der Garde, Timo Glock…
  • …Kobayashi was out for a season.
  • …Only to come back and lose a race weekend.
  • …Look at reserves like Susie Wolff.
  • …She’s in her 30s, a lifetime of racing under her belt…
  • …And, there just aren’t seats available.
  • …So, this is my concern with signing these kids.
  • …A fear of it going from elite racing to elite prep school.
  • …Youth with someone else’s deep pockets, capitalizing on a youthful gimmick.
  • …Sending the over-25 out to pasture way before they’ve even started to expire.
  • Okay, rant over.
  • …Again, it’s nothing against Verstappen, himself, or his abilities.
  • …Just the potential for starting a very dangerous trend.
  • I think those are the major stories.
  • …Well, as far as my break brain can remember.
  • …Marussia has said that they will work out their 2015 driver lineup between the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
  • …Gutierrez is shopping around.
  • …Lotus is hoping to retain Grosjean, but Grosjean is open to options.
  • …Bottas is happy at Williams, doesn’t think they’ve reached their full potential yet, and would like to stay.
  • …Vettel’s Red Bull has blasted through another engine and is reusing a slightly less crappy one this weekend.
  • …Just to make his hideous season a little more hideous.
  • …Oh, yeah, and Räikkönen is going to be a dad.
  • …I knew I should have put money on Minttu getting pregnant within a year!
  • …SO called that one.
  • …Think the Dudesons will be a part of the kid’s life?
  • …Bygones.
  • …Russia’s Sochi circuit has been checked and approved for racing.
  • …That will be in October (10-12, I do believe).
  • …I really do feel like I’m forgetting something massive, though.
  • …(No, not getting into the legal issues of Ecclestone or Mallya.)
  • …(I just don’t feel like they’re important matters within this context, at this time.)
  • So, let’s get back to the final 20ish minutes of P2.
  • Weather-wise…
  • …60 (Fahrenheit) and overcast.
  • …No rain forecasted.
  • …But, those clouds do look very heavy.
  • …And, this track is known for spastic weather changes.
  • …Which can mean downpours at one turn and nothing up the track.
  • …It’s a sunny rain kind of region.
  • …A few years ago, during Rally Germany (remember, it’s only 1.5-ish hours away and tends to fall on the same/close weekend), my main man Jari-Matti Latvala was talking about it raining in the sunshine and he was written off as crazy.
  • …I (promptly) wrote everyone else off as crazy, because…
  • …A) It happens all the time (where are people from, that they never see this?!).
  • …B) These tucked away European valleys are notorious for their freaky weather, so why wouldn’t there be rain while the sun is shining?
  • …C) Jer-Bear gets stuff.  He knows.  Don’t question his madness.
  • With 15 minutes left…
  • …Hamilton, Rosberg, Alonso, and Massa lead.
  • …With Button rounding out the top five.
  • …Worth noting, as Button -should- be up there with those guys.
  • On that note…
  • …Do watch for changes in designs and performance.
  • …Half the break is a mandatory stop.
  • …The other half is reviewing the first half and getting to make changes teams been wanting to try.
  • …Tip: look at the noses.
  • …Remember that every team had a different idea for a front end, going into this season of major changes.
  • …Essentially, everyone was going in, clueless and just trying something.
  • …So, some have opted to try something else in the second half.
  • Oh, and, no, no one has any idea what’s up at Ferrari.
  • …Can I toss my fraction of a cent in?
  • …Hey, look!
  • …My site, my opinions!
  • …Cool, eh?
  • …I think Ferrari, as a brand, has become a tad complacent.
  • …Look at their road cars as of late.
  • …They’ve not had the best reviews.
  • …With so many reports of them just missing something.
  • …That Ferrari something.
  • …They may have slipped into a mindset of being Ferrari.
  • …And, being Italian, need I say more?
  • …Anyway, I think they can bounce back.
  • …The flip side to all that is that they’re going to get annoyed and want to avenge all this poo-pooing of their name.
  • …Again, Italian.
  • …So, hopefully, their F1 team will use the second half to observe and the offseason to correct.
  • …And, yes, that goes for Kimi, too.
  • …He came in 15th in P2.
  • …15th.
  • …Even I’m unamused at this point.
  • Okay, well, that’s that for P2.
  • …That top five stands.
  • …We have another Mercedes back-and-forth on our hands.
  • …If you’re wondering, Lotterer came in 20th.
  • …Ahead of Maldonado (who crashed out) and Vettel (who didn’t participate).
  • …But, hey, he made it through the first day.
  • …Two practice sessions.
  • …At Spa.
  • …I would classify that as a success.
  • …And, he will (always) be listed above Vettel at the 2014 Belgian GP P2.
  • US fans…
  • …Qualifying will air at 8am ET on CNBC (tomorrow).
  • …It will be rebroadcast on NBCSN at 12:30pm ET.
  • …And, as has been the trend, I will not be around for either broadcast.
  • …Because, The Universe doesn’t care for me and feels I should be working on a Saturday, rather than babbling about F1.
  • …So, you are spared more babble.
  • …Unless I (actually) watch the recording.
  • …But, honestly, I never do get around to those.
  • …I have F1 and WRC recordings from 2012 I’ve not gotten around to, people.
  • …Fun Friday Fact: for someone who writes commentary through TV broadcasts, I’m terrible at sitting and watching TV.
  • …I have piles of unwatched movies.
  • …So, you are (probably) safe from my babbling through Qualifying.
  • …Chance of rain, so do enjoy!
  • I think that’s (about) it.
  • …Oh, it’s just coming in that Maldonado has been taken to the hospital for precautionary checks (following that debris-showering crash).
  • …The emphasis is on ‘precautionary’.
  • …He walked away (seemingly) fine.
  • …But, when drivers are putting themselves through racing this physically brutal, it’s just best to make sure they’re okay and that their bodies will be able to handle the extreme wear-and-tear ahead of them.
  • …Hopefully, all is well in Maldonado World.
  • Have a lovely day, a fantastic Friday, and enjoy all this amazing racing!
  • …Tons of work to do (here).
  • …So, watch this space.
  • …(But, first, I have to pee crazy badly!!!)
  • …(The things I do for F1 and the WRC, eh?)
  • Auf Wiedersehen, au revoir, and…whatever “goodbye” is in Dutch.
  • …Belgium is a multilingual nation.
  • …The primary language varies by region.
  • …And, my Dutch is limited to what has caught my eye on the packaging of yogurt, cheese, chocolate, and whatever else my sister has brought over from Amsterdam after trips.
  • …”Melk”.
  • …”Hazelnoot”.
  • …Bygones.
  • Hey, Lotus is reporting that Maldonado is a-ok!
  • …Sweet!
  • …Ending on a good note!
  • Toodles!
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