MOTORSPORT /// F1 /// 2014 GRAND PRIX OF JAPAN (3.10.2014 – 5.10.2014) /// UNWANTED COMMENTARY: SHALL WE DO THIS LIVE?…

  • Good…I don’t know…
  • …It’s (about) 12:45am in my part of the world.
  • …So, it’s (pretty much) night to me.
  • Anyway…
  • Wherever in the world you are, one thing is for sure…
  • …It’s Suzuka time!
  • The Japanese Grand Prix…
  • …Suzuka Circuit.
  • …5.807km (3.608mi) long.
  • …Infinity-shaped.
  • …Which means it runs (both) clockwise and counterclockwise.
  • …With 18 turns (I do believe).
  • …Including a series of S-turns.
  • …Made famous by Prost and Senna, running into one another.
  • …Like total dicks.
  • …Anyway, it’s a crazy eight.
  • …A very fast crazy eight.
  • …One thing is certain, it’s (always) interesting.
  • …Today, 53 laps are the plan.
  • …But, with a typhoon on the way and so much freight to get to Russia this week, the race could be brought to a halt if needed.
  • …However, should all go as planned, the total distance will be 307.471km (191.053mi).
  • …Give or take a few feet.
  • …Why?
  • …It’s Suzuka.
  • …There will (always) be some offs.
  • …And, as expected, it -is- raining.
  • …So, expect some sliding.
  • …Last year, it was Red Bull’s Vettel who took the win.
  • …With his 2013 teammate, Webber, in second.
  • …And, Lotus’ Grosjean in third.
  • Qualifying…
  • …Mercedes’ Rosberg took the pole.
  • …(Teammate) Hamilton will be next to him on the grid.
  • …With the Williams duo of Bottas and Massa right behind them.
  • …Toro Rosso’s Vergne placed 11th.
  • …But, was handed a 10-spot penalty for a sixth engine change.
  • …A penalty which Lotus’ Maldonado will (also) be serving.
  • …After placing 17th.
  • …You know what, though?
  • …Look at how far these cars made it before hitting that limit.
  • …More are expected, but (only) three cars have hit six.
  • …Not bad, given how terrifying the jump into the fog that was this season of changes was.
  • …Anyway, all cars were qualified to race in the dry.
  • …But, will they be ready for the wet?
  • Vettel…
  • …The rundown and my thoughts are in my Qualifying commentary.
  • …There isn’t anything (else) to say.
  • …Nothing new has been announced.
  • …It’s very exciting and very sad.
  • Okay, this track is a mess.
  • …The formation lap is being done behind the Safety Car.
  • …And, the cars are looking more like fan boats.
  • …It’s just spray everywhere.
  • …Honestly, this is not looking good.
  • …Oh, and Caterham’s Ericsson is off and halfway into the gravel.
  • …Hamilton, on the radio, reporting that he can’t see Rosberg at all.
  • …Just a reminder that Rosberg is next to him on the grid.
  • …So, in front of him at the moment.
  • …It’s been a freakishly dry season.
  • …I guess it was all being conserved for today.
  • …I mean, how often do you see a red flag at this point?
  • …They’re counting what they’ve done as a start.
  • …Three laps under a red, behind the Safety Car.
  • …The cars followed the Safety Car into the pitlane.
  • …Action suspended.
  • …Mechanics are hovering.
  • …Tires are being warmed.
  • …Some drivers are getting out.
  • …Others are holding umbrellas over their cockpits.
  • …The organizers, all the powers that be behind these races, had the opportunity and more than enough time to sort this out.
  • …I mean, this isn’t just a passing storm.
  • …This is a typhoon.
  • …And, all projected paths included Suzuka.
  • …I don’t know.
  • …I just don’t know.
  • …I mean, look at the crowd.
  • …The fans at Suzuka are insane.
  • …As one might expect.
  • …Let’s be honest, shall we.
  • …They’re so enthusiastic and, now, they’re just sitting in hard rain.
  • …They look stoked, but, come on.
  • …It just seems unfair to them.
  • …Word is that the race will resume in 10-ish minutes.
  • …Shot of Red Bull’s Horner, Mercedes’ Wolff, and McLaren’s Boullier having a chat.
  • …They don’t look as enthusiastic as the fans.
  • …Not angry.
  • …But, not happy.
  • …I can’t imagine knowingly sending your drivers and cars out into these conditions is that great of a feeling.
  • …Where’s Lauda?
  • …He’s had thoughts on driving in bad conditions in Japan.
  • …It’s not worth a Championship.
  • …However, reports are that things have died down.
  • …Significantly.
  • …Suspiciously.
  • …So, where is that rain and wind?
  • …Waiting.
  • …That’s where.
  • Cars are lined up behind the Safety Car.
  • …Let’s try this (again).
  • …Lap 3 continues.
  • …A Ferrari has stopped on track.
  • …Alonso?
  • …What the hell is going on (there)?
  • …He looks pissed.
  • …Ha!  Reports that he jumped out so fast that he yanked the radio cord!
  • …Well, that’s it for Alonso.
  • …As he rolls off on the back of a circuit motorbike.
  • …Oh! Replay!
  • …His steering wheel was dead!
  • …When you look at those Sega-like steering wheels, they’re all lit up with data.
  • …Alonso’s was, well, dead.  Totally blank, no lights.
  • …Oh, good god.
  • …Now, Mercedes is reporting potential issues with Rosberg’s car.
  • …They’re giving him instructions.
  • …Which is never a good sign.
  • …But, until something (actually) happens, he’s in front and looking good.
  • …Not that he could be anywhere else.
  • …You can’t zip around and pass under a red.
  • …Basically, this is just a Qualifying parade.
  • Shot of Alonso, back in the Ferrari garage.
  • …Looking at the camera and shrugging.
  • I don’t even know how to organize this.
  • I guess I can stop using ellipses.
  • Shot of Susie Wolff in the Williams garage.
  • …Looking very intense.
  • …Unlike Massa’s brother, Dudu, who’s looking like he’s ready for some racing.
  • …It’s (always) a party when Dudu’s in the house.
  • Drivers are radioing in that conditions seem okay enough to race.
  • …I would think they just want to get going.
  • …And, who would know better than the ones out there and in it?
  • I think that was a Williams radio that reported that the rain is expected to come a bit later than assumed.
  • …And, that the plan is to go (at least) 40 laps.
  • Hamilton has radioed Whiting directly.
  • …Saying the track is fine enough to race.
  • Vettel radios that it’s no better, no worse.
  • Onboard with the Safety Car.
  • …Now, we’re talking!
  • …If you’ve never read my babbling before, I love the Safety Car.
  • …I will never, ever, in my life be qualified to drive one.
  • …Oh, but how I would love to.
  • Some drivers are reporting that they feel comfortable enough to switch from wets to intermediates.
  • …Tires.
  • Others aren’t sounding so comfortable with that.
  • …Ricciardo sounded like his eyes may have enlarged quite significantly at the question.
  • Okay, Safety Car lights are off.
  • The racing starts at Lap 10!
  • The fan boats are roaring around the notorious Suzuka.
  • Massa is yelling over the radio.
  • …”So bad!!!  So bad!!!”
  • …He remains where he started (fourth).
  • Vettel thought about an overtake.
  • …He went in.
  • …It was a bit tighter than he thought.
  • Reports are floating around that intermediates are working.
  • …Red Bull asks Ricciardo if he’s ready.
  • …He’s ready.
  • …Game on.
  • Ooo-Mercedes is radioing that the wets are (still) faster.
  • …Judging by the reports and action, it sounds like it’s Merspecific.
  • …They’re so far ahead, it’s a matter of “if it ain’t broke…”.
  • …Did I spell that correctly?
  • …It’s a word I never use.
  • …Plus, it should be “broken”.
  • …What a horrible phrase.
  • …But, that’s the case.
  • The Mercs are swapping the wets for intermediates.
  • …And, they’ve swapped positions.
  • …Hamilton taking the lead.
  • …And, takes a little off-road excursion.
  • …Hamilton stops for new tires.
  • …Rosberg regains the lead.
  • Racing lines are getting clearer and clearer.
  • …Tracks are no different from any other sealed surface.
  • …Traffic evaporates moisture.
  • …These cars are pulling the water away, spraying it out, and the traffic and heat is taking care of the rest.
  • …Not to say that it’s looking good.
  • …There’s (still) a lot of driving by the rear lights.
  • …Fan boats in the spray.
  • At Lap 16…
  • …Rosberg, Hamilton, McLaren’s Button, and Williams’ Bottas lead.
  • …Vettel has moved up to fifth.
  • Dudu reacts to Vettel, zipping around his brother.
  • …Has anyone considered a Dudu cam?
  • Williams is victimized by Vettel again.
  • …As he swings by Bottas.
  • …And, into fourth.
  • Now, Ricciardo is right on Bottas.
  • …It took two tries, but he gets around the Finn.
  • …In the S-turns!
  • …Classically crazy Suzuka racing!
  • …At yesterday’s post-Qualifying press conference, Bottas had said that the Williams cars may not do so well if it rains.
  • …So, they know.
  • …No silly, unnecessary fights.
  • …Do their best, be smart, bring the cars home.
  • …For Williams, their best (under these circumstances) really is good enough.
  • …Or, should be.
  • …Nothing is ever certain in racing.
  • At Lap 22…
  • …Rosberg, Hamilton, Button, Vettel lead.
  • A very long stop for Mr Kimi.
  • …Ferrari has had better days.
  • Watching Hamilton get very close to Rosberg in the S-turns.
  • …But, backing off a tad.
  • …Yeah, you don’t want to get too close.
  • …Prost.
  • …Senna.
  • Can I just point out that Ericsson is in 13th?
  • …At Lap 26.
  • …In a Caterham.
  • …He’s weird.
  • Rosberg radioing serious oversteer.
  • More off-road adventures for Hamilton.
  • …Upon reporting brake issues.
  • …Mercedes, brakes, shocking.
  • …Man, those front discs were lighting the way, though!
  • …He’s (still) looking good and right on Rosberg, though.
  • …And, when I say “right on”, I mean that Hamilton appears to really be trying to avoid getting too close to Rosberg.
  • …After the whole contactgate.
  • …Like, extreme slowing.
  • …Which can’t be helping his brakes.
  • Hamilton passes Rosberg for the lead.
  • At Lap 29…
  • …Hamilton, Rosberg, Button, Vettel lead.
  • A slow pit stop for Button.
  • …Not a great time for that.
  • …Aaahhh, they had to change the steering wheel.
  • …Steering wheel issues.
  • …So hot right now.
  • …Steering wheel issues.
  • Rosberg is being instructed to “box-box-box”.
  • …But, whether that means pit for tires or it’s time to settle this team tiff…
  • …We shall see.
  • …Darn, tires.
  • McLaren’s Magnussen pirouettes.
  • …Fancy.
  • Vettel has ousted Button for third.
  • A little wheel-to-wheel between Magnussen and Ricciardo.
  • Pits, pits, pits.
  • Changes, changes, changes.
  • Another off for Magnussen.
  • …No spin this time.
  • An off for Vettel.
  • …He just kept going.
  • …Okay, he’s back on.
  • …Sweet road trip, though.
  • …He remains ahead of Button.
  • Okay, we’ve hit Lap 40.
  • …The rain has returned on cue.
  • …The race continues.
  • …But, at Lap 40, it becomes a full-points race.
  • …If you’ve ever wondered why some retirements remain in the standings (after a race).
  • …There you go.
  • …You do get credit past a certain point.
  • …That point being variable by number of total laps, of course.
  • …For this one, with 53 laps, it’s 40.
  • With all this rain, all this action, Alonso remains the lone retirement.
  • …Though, the race isn’t over.
  • Reports that cars are going (back) to wets.
  • …It’s looking like how it started.
  • …Just a fog of spray.
  • …Lines diminishing.
  • …Dry grip becoming harder to find.
  • …Red lights leading the way.
  • Huge crash for Sutil.
  • …Just a slide and a crash into the wall.
  • …It took me a while to figure out who it was.
  • …Grey car, grey track, grey clouds, split screen.
  • …(Only a fourth of it was dedicated to the race, another fourth to the leader board, and a half dedicated to commercials.)
  • Safety Car deployed.
  • …For the rain.
  • …Not Sutil.
  • …It’s just bad out there.
  • …Oh, maybe it is because of Sutil.
  • …Reports are that the crane (used to lift the car) is stuck.
  • …Another report is that Bianchi’s Marussia has flown off at the exact same place.
  • …While Sutil’s crash was being cleared.
  • …Ambulance on scene.
  • …Shots of the Marussia garage look more concerned than shots of the Sauber garage.
  • …But, no one seems to know what, exactly, has happened.
  • …It has (officially) gone to a red flag.
  • …The Safety Car has led the cars into the pitlane.
  • …Absolutely zero idea what’s going on.
  • …Other than that it’s serious.
  • …With two cars and a group of marshals involved, there are a lot of possibilities.
  • …Few of which are good.
  • Race control:
  • …”Race will not be resumed”
  • That’s it.
  • It’s very quiet.
  • …Too quiet.
  • …Lots of confused and concerned looks.
  • Hamilton takes the win.
  • …Waving to the fans as he walks down the pitlane.
  • …Whatever’s happened, the fans were spectacular sports and they’ve got to give them something.
  • Rosberg takes second.
  • Vettel ends up with third.
  • No word on a podium.
  • No word on anything.
  • Rosberg gives a little wave to the camera.
  • It’s sounding like it’s something to do with Bianchi.
  • …But, (still) no confirmation of anything.
  • …Not even a hint as to what might have happened.
  • …All I know is that Sutil crashed hard and, as they were starting to clear it, Bianchi crashed into the same spot.
  • …So, there was Bianchi, there were marshals, and no word as to whether Sutil was (still) on site.
  • This is the quietest podium I’ve ever experienced.
  • …It’s Japan, and there are few cheers.
  • …The trophies, being hoisted graciously, but unenthusiastically.
  • …No champagne being sprayed.
  • …So, it’s (definitely) something and something big.
  • …However, Mansell’s got a mustache for each driver.
  • …So, there’s that.
  • …Hamilton immediately notes that the main concern is that Bianchi is okay.
  • …It’s sounding more and more like it was, in fact, Bianchi who was injured in that whole mess.
  • …The mood is easing up as the process moves along.
  • …It was a rough day.
  • …To say the least.
  • …But, there was some solid racing in that abridged round, three guys came out on top, and the reward was Mansell’s mustaches.
  • …He (probably) wasn’t supposed to do the podium interviews.
  • …But, they were, like, “Okay, we need to do something to boost the mood a bit; only one thing can give the people what they need.  Mansell, get out there.”
  • Okay…
  • …Shot of Alonso, leaving Ferrari hospitality, moving fast, dodging mics.
  • …Anyway…
  • …The report is that Bianchi collided with the crane and has been taken to the local hospital, unconscious.
  • …By ambulance.
  • …Because…
  • …The helicopter couldn’t take off.
  • …I hate to bring this up, because, it is what it is and there is a lot of (necessary) optimism involved in these logistics…
  • …But…
  • …They had the option of holding this race earlier.
  • …They had the option of canceling it.
  • …They had the option of ending it earlier.
  • …But, they took it past 40, in spite of heavy rain returning, two cars crashed hard, and the medical helicopter wasn’t able to evacuate an unconscious driver.
  • …But, you know, no one makes terrible choices on purpose.
  • …No one could have predicted this.
  • …And, sadly, every once in a while, there has to be a reminder of just how wrong things can go.
  • …So, what else can you say, eh?
  • Looking ahead to Russia…
  • …The very dark sky over Suzuka has got to be creating some panic.
  • …They need to get that equipment out and get it out right now.
  • …The fact that the medical helicopter couldn’t get out should cause some very real concern.
  • …But, assuming things will work out (somehow), the Russian Grand Prix will debut next weekend.
  • …Back to more European times.
  • …So, like, 5:30am-ish for me.
  • …Practice 1 and 2 on Friday.
  • …Practice 3 and Qualifying on Saturday.
  • …And the Grand Prix on Sunday.
  • …At this point, consider all of this subject to change.
  • …I’m more than sure there is a Plan B in place.
  • …Should there be issues, getting to Sochi.
  • …Yes, if you’re not aware, or have forgotten, it will be in Sochi.
  • …The very same one which held the Olympics, yes.
  • …Weird, beachy, yet wintery, inland seaside resort town.
  • …There has been a lot of poop over the politics.
  • …But, this is racing, this is sports, sports bring people together.
  • …(And, tears them apart for the right reasons, ie, “Your team sucks”.)
  • …It’s going to be awesome.
  • …For better, or worse, this is F1.
  • …F1 is awesome.
  • That said…
  • …I have no idea how to end this.
  • …Bianchi…
  • …He’s had such an exciting season.
  • …Let’s keep it going.
  • …Happy thoughts.
  • …And, happy thoughts for everyone.
  • …No one, drivers, teams, fans, should have to come away from a race like this.
  • …So, everyone, be well and be pretty okay.
  • Onto WRC Rallye de France-Alsace for me.
  • I (still) love you, Suzuka.
  • See you next week.
  • …Talking to you, Jules.
  • …Yeah, I’ll accept a…
  • …Wait for it…
  • …Rain check.
  • Over and out.
Advertisements