MOTORSPORT /// F1 /// 2014 GRAND PRIX OF ITALY (5.9.2014 – 7.9.2014) /// UNWANTED COMMENTARY: SHALL WE DO THIS LIVE? /// P2…

  • Good morning.
  • You know what?
  • Monza.
  • That’s what.
  • Yes, this is the second practice session of the classic that is…
  • …The Italian Grand Prix.
  • …Yum.
  • So, how about a little bit about Monza?
  • …Well, first off, it’s one of the original (inaugural season) races.
  • …Founded in 1950, it has been held at Monza all but once.
  • …The current configuration of…
  • …Wait for it…
  • …Because, this is Italy and you know you want to hear it…
  • …Autodromo Nazionale Monza…
  • …is shaped like the foot that wears the boot that is Italy.
  • …And, it will kick your ass.
  • …It is 5.793km/3.599mi long.
  • …On race day, it will be lapped 53 times.
  • …Which brings the total distance to 306.720km/190.587mi.
  • …Monza is run clockwise with a few sweeping corners
  • …What this translates to is very high speeds from beginning to end.
  • …How fast -is- this track?
  • …Okay, when one thinks F1, they (probably) think 200+ mph.
  • …However, this is a bit of an exaggeration (in general).
  • …Not the case with Monza.
  • …Monza locks drivers in at speeds exceeding 200mph through most of the race.
  • …(Though, because of the quick switch of Turn 1 to Turn 2 and a few other exceptions, I think the average is mid-100s.)
  • …It.  Is.  Fast.
  • …But, at least the banking cars used to fly off is long gone.
  • …Also, though more recently (this season), gone is the gravel runoff at Parabolica.
  • …And, its paving has split everyone and their mother all the way to, well, now.
  • …Personally, I have no thoughts on it.
  • …I’m leaning toward it being a good thing, as it gives cars a chance to regain control and continue on.
  • …But, there’s (only) one way to find out.
  • …So, that’s Monza.
  • The 2013 Italian Grand Prix…
  • …Was won by Red Bull’s Vettel.
  • …With second going to Ferrari’s Alonso.
  • …Who took some amazing crowd shots and crowd shot selfies from the podium.
  • …No, really, they were cool.
  • …That’s what selfies should be.
  • …None of that duckface or surprised face crap, captioned “epic” with ten hashtags and emoticons.
  • …Anyway…
  • …Third went to Red Bull’s (now retired) Webber.
  • …If you’ll recall, the Red Bull boys had some serious issues with one another.
  • …I mention this, as Alonso came in second, right between them.
  • …At the opening Italian GP press conference, Alonso was plopped between the poopypants of Mercedes, Championship leaders Rosberg and Hamilton.
  • …It’s the Spaniard’s job, I guess.
  • …Like, they look around, “Okay, who’s cool; who can sit between these bozos without smacking them?  Oh, how about Fernando?  He’s cool.”
  • …Also signed on for the job is McLaren’s Button.
  • …Who came in second in Free Practice 1.
  • …Right between…
  • …Yep…
  • …Hamilton and Rosberg.
  • …Because, Button is cool and unlikely to punch them.
  • …Which, obviously, is how this worked.
  • Okay, how about I use that as a segue to P1?
  • …Which was led by Hamilton, Button, Rosberg, and Alonso.
  • …Button and Alonso, as two of the oldest, most experienced, and calmest of the drivers, are (really) good babysitters.
  • …There were 23 drivers taking part in P1.
  • …23?
  • …But, aren’t there 22 drivers?
  • …Yes.
  • …But, four reserves were driving in that session.
  • …Sauber’s van der Garde sat in for Sutil, coming in 15th.
  • …Lotus’ Pic took Grosjean’s car to 21st.
  • …Caterham swapped Kobayashi for Merhi, who came in 22nd.
  • …Yeah, Caterham benched Kobayashi; shocking, eh?
  • …(If you’ve forgotten, they gave his race seat – all weekend, P1 to the GP – to LeMans magic man, Andre Lotterer.  Who was great, had a great attitude, and was robbed by an early mechanical retirement – I’d love to see more, but, man, it’s hard not to feel a little annoyed by Caterham, isn’t it?)
  • …And, Force India’s Juncadella split the session with Perez, coming in 17th.
  • …Which is how you get 23.
  • …(Perez came in 8th, in case you were wondering.)
  • …And, other than a power loss for Belgian GP-winner Ricciardo (Red Bull) and a reported problem with the headrest of McLaren’s Magnussen, it was a pretty smooth session.
  • Oh, should I address the stupid Rosberg/Hamilton/Mercedes incident (at Spa)?
  • …I don’t think so.
  • …It’s too stupid.
  • …It (really) is.
  • …They’re told to race, they do, Rosberg has a moment of blind ambition, gets too close, misjudges where Hamilton is going, his wing makes contact with Hamilton’s tire, Hamilton gets a puncture that leads to other things and, thus, a later retirement.
  • …I hate to break it to people, but, that’s racing.
  • …Contact is made many times through a race.
  • …Sometimes, cars come away with damage, sometimes, they don’t.
  • …That’s racing.
  • …You can’t control or even just foresee where everyone else is going to go and what they are going to do.
  • …And, if your judgement has never been off, congratulations.
  • …Bottom line, personally opportunistic (or, not), neither of these guys would (purposely) do anything to ruin the Championships for their teams.
  • …They may be aggressive and they may be quarreling, but they’re not that stupid.
  • …So, who cares?
  • …It was an accident, nothing more, nothing less, good call by the stewards.
  • …And, Mercedes can’t tell their guys to race, but not (really).
  • …Stupid.
  • …Stop ruining everyone else’s fun.
  • …Rosberg apologized for the error in judgement.
  • …But, THAT is what Mercedes should be sorry for.
  • …Ack.
  • Let’s move onto the race and session at hand, shall we?
  • …As Grosjean plows through some gravel as if off-roading.
  • …And, we watch Minttu Virtanen (girlfriend of Ferrari’s Räikkönen), watching the monitors in the Ferrari garage.
  • …Who loves WaGs?
  • …I do, I do!!!
  • …(Wags = “Wives and Girlfriends”)
  • …Speaking of, if you want to see some awesome shots of Monza’s old track, with some demonstrations of just how steep the banking was, look up Sutil’s girlfriend, Jennifer Becks, on Instagram (jenniferbex).
  • …She (also) has video of him, playing piano in his overalls and a bowtie.
  • …WaGs.
  • …Love them.
  • …Anyway, the big news of this session is that Hamilton, who led P1, is out.
  • …In fact, Mercedes has dismantled his car.
  • …Because, you know, it’s all about Mercedes drama this season.
  • …Force India’s Incredible Hülkenberg has radioed that he needs to swap his visor out for a darker tint.
  • …I am seeing storms in the forecast for Monza (today).
  • …But, it looks quite sunny at the moment.
  • …77 degrees (Fahrenheit) and overcast.
  • …But, definitely, that sunny side of overcast.
  • …Where the clouds diffuse the light to that weird brightness.
  • …You know what I’m talking about.
  • …If not…
  • …Dude, you need to get out more.
  • …Seriously.
  • For the record, I feel like I’m missing something.
  • …I omitted some news, I know.
  • …Haas Formula renamed themselves “Haas F1 Team”.
  • …And, (officially) announced their partnership with Ferrari.
  • …In case the “Haas” logo on the Ferrari cars for the past few months didn’t hint at where that was going.
  • …The sensation of your eyebrow raising, when Marussia picked up (American) Rossi, after he was booted in the Caterham overhauls, (probably) helped that hint along, too.
  • …In other American F1 news, Mario Andretti is at Monza for the first time since 1983.
  • …And, everyone is wearing cowboy hats to make it a party.
  • …My personal favorite is a shot of the Caterham boys in theirs, looking stoked.
  • …Because, you know who loves putting silly things on their heads?
  • …Nordics and the Japanese.
  • …No joke, no stereotype.
  • …They’re rad that way.
  • …In silly season news…
  • …Grosjean has stated that the entire game of musical chairs depends on Alonso’s decision.
  • …Which, really, is true.
  • …Alonso is saying his intention is to stay with Ferrari.
  • …But, you never know.
  • …The whole Ferrari system is so unstable at the moment.
  • …In fact, not to deviate from Silly Season, but there is talk that they may move onto their third boss of the season.
  • …Ack.  Just…ack.
  • …But, that “ack” and instability is nothing compared to that of the McLaren crap.
  • …It sounds like they want to clean house.
  • …Yes, because their stable drivers, who have worked with that unstable car, the experienced Button and impressive rookie Magnussen, are SUCH a disappointment.
  • …And, why would you want that combination of youth, experience, and all-around reliability when you’re moving to Honda power next season?
  • …Right?
  • …Silliness.
  • …There’s just so much uncertainty for so many people.
  • …Just consider everyone without a set contract potentially screwed and everyone with a set contract in danger.
  • …No, really.
  • …I’m pretty sure contracts don’t mean what they should at this point.
  • …It’s all about sponsorship money.
  • …And, honestly, watch for set-ups for failure.
  • …In this season of trial and error, totally new setups and everyone’s cars crapping out left and right (even those Mercedes cars keep crapping out), there’s this freaky epidemic of ridiculous mystery standards out there.
  • …Really, pay attention to who is being hauled into offices for performance chats and, how good they’ve been doing, and how unreliable/underpowered/etc their cars have been.
  • …There’s some weird, shady shit going down, folks.
  • …But, as long as Briatore is there to sell F1 as one, big party…
  • …Or, whatever it is his position is…
  • …(Honestly, is anyone clear on this insanity?)…
  • …It’s all good.
  • Not good, however, is Grosjean’s Lotus.
  • …That thing is just jonesing for some off-roading.
  • …So very twitchy.
  • …Switch it to decaf, kids.
  • …Lotus, like other teams, has adjusted their car for this track.
  • …They’re using a significantly smaller rear wing.
  • …And, I’m wondering if it’s causing problems.
  • …Then, again, Grosjean and Lotus went into this, acknowledging that the car would struggle on this track.
  • …For a team who has had a rotten year, they (certainly) are making the most of it.
  • …Rather than crying over the situation, they’re analyzing it, getting the data, and prepping for next season.
  • …Without giving up.
  • …They’re (still) out there, giving it a go.
  • …But, realistically, taking every race, every lap, as they come, making the most of it, and not letting it get them down.
  • …No Mercedes-esque whining and crying.
  • …(Those dudes, especially Hamilton, need to knock it off; they’re so much better than that.  As drivers and, from what I can tell, as people.  They both seem very, very nice.  It’s hideous to see them like this.)
  • …So, good job to Lotus.
  • With one minute to go, it’s looking like another drama-free session.
  • …A few minor offs.
  • …And, Hamilton’s car, being pulled in and apart.
  • …But, cars got back on.
  • …Including Hamilton’s.
  • …Yes!  It was a tad twitchy, but Humpty Dumpty was back.
  • …And, well, read on…
  • Practice 2, over.
  • …Rosberg, Hamilton, Kimi, and Alonso.
  • …No, I’m not kidding.
  • …Hamilton, twitching and taking exit routes and all, bounced back.
  • …Hardcore.
  • …And, after a first half of the season with so little luck and a car that has been struggling for two seasons, those are two Ferraris right behind the Championship-leading Mercs.
  • …With the super-struggler of the Championship-holding strugglers, Mr Of Espoo, leading the stampede.
  • …As the dark clouds start to roll in.
  • That’s that for P2.
  • …This will rebroadcast on NBCSN Saturday at 1am and 6:30am (ET).
  • …The 6:30 spot leading up to the live Qualifying broadcast.
  • …As usual, P3 will not air on TV, but will air online.
  • …NBCSN will re-air Qualifying at 12:30am and 6am (again, ET) on Sunday.
  • …That second re-broadcast will take you to (live) Grand Prix coverage.
  • …And, for the first time in a few races, I will be able to run commentary for Qualifying.
  • …I’m excited.
  • …You may not be, but I sure am.
  • …Back to my trident of commentary, babbling about who knows what.
  • …It’ll be fun.
  • …It’s Monza.
  • …It’s F1.
  • …What’s not to love?
  • …Even with all the weirdness and frustration.
  • …It’s F1.
  • …And, F1 is fabulous.
  • That said…
  • …Have a lovely F1 Friday.
  • …Wherever you are.
  • …Whatever you’re doing.
  • …Even if it sucks (stuck at work, snake infestation in your yard, whatever), make it through and rock it.
  • The weekend should be hot and sunny in Monza.
  • …How very Italian.
  • Ciao!
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