MOTORSPORT /// F1 /// 2014 GRAND PRIX OF RUSSIA (10.10.2014 – 12.10.2014) /// UNWANTED COMMENTARY: SHALL WE DO THIS LIVE? /// P2…

  • Morning.
  • You know what?
  • …I’m going to skip the hows and whys of last weekend.
  • …And, the political turmoil.
  • This is the first (ever) F1 Russian Grand Prix.
  • …Yes.
  • …Ever.
  • And, it’s in Sochi.
  • …That gorgeous seaside city the world met earlier this year.
  • …At the Winter Olympics.
  • …Nestled between the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains, it seems to have it all.
  • …Including palm trees.
  • …The Sochi crest even features palms.
  • …See the lingering damage of sacrificing sport for politics?
  • …Thanks to the Iron Curtain, when people think “Russia”, scenes of shuffling through cold, grey city streets (probably) come to mind.
  • …So, welcome to Sochi.
  • …Just look at what the world had been missing for so long.
  • …And, what the world may have missed (again), had F1 caved to politics and pulled out.
  • …Sport is a great uniter.
  • …It opens doors and opens minds.
  • …So, let’s do this, shall we?
  • Sochi Autodrom.
  • …The brand, spankin’ new circuit.
  • …Set right, smack dab in the middle of the Olympic Park.
  • …It is 5.848km (3.629mi) long.
  • …On race day, there will be 53 laps.
  • …Which brings the total race distance to 309.745km (192.467mi).
  • …For drivers lucky enough to finish.
  • …And, if everything goes as planned.
  • …There are 18 turns.
  • …And, we know very little about them.
  • …Because, again, this is the inaugural race.
  • …And, because of that little fact, alone, the major issue will be grip.
  • …The simple matter being that it’s not been traveled.
  • …But, as rubber is laid down and drivers start to get a reading on how it works, we will start to get a clearer picture of what (really) makes this circuit special, what it brings to the season.
  • Weather-wise…
  • …Because of it’s location, being between the sea and mountains, Sochi gets rain for an average of half the month.
  • Okay, is there a reason my TV just shut off?
  • …Weird.
  • …Really weird.
  • …And, I’ve (still) got this week’s “American Horror Story: Freakshow” on my mind.
  • …So, I was hesitant to, um, move.
  • …Yeah.
  • …Anyway…
  • Back to the weather.
  • …So, Sochi averages half a month of rain in October.
  • …But, the forecast calls for low-to-mid 70s (Fahrenheit) and sun this weekend.
  • …So, fingers crossed.
  • …It looks absolutely gorgeous.
  • Practice 1…
  • …Another round of Mercedes domination.
  • …With Hamilton leading Rosberg this time.
  • …They were followed by McLaren’s Button.
  • …And, Ferrari’s Alonso.
  • If you missed it…
  • …Marussia has opted to run one car (this weekend).
  • …(Reserve) Rossi did the track walk and was on the list of nominated eligible drivers.
  • …But, okay, if you haven’t heard what Marussia has done, and you’re a bit sensitive (or, feeling a bit sensitive), you may want to grab some tissues.
  • …They’ve assembled Bianchi’s car and put it up, race ready.
  • …It’s waiting for its driver.
  • …Oh, man.
  • …I am as emotional as a rock.
  • …Haven’t cried in over five years and so on.
  • …I have no idea why, but this week has been brutal.
  • …And, that sure didn’t help.
  • …I’m not ready to not point out how far up the standings Bianchi is (this weekend).
  • …By the way, there were so many reports that he’d gotten up to fourth at Japan.
  • …I saw third.
  • …Anyway, Marussia will be running one car at Sochi.
  • …Chilton, behind the wheel.
  • …And, for all the crap I and everyone else have given him, he’s more than capable of handling it.
  • …It’s not been confirmed, but my theory that Marussia was protecting their position in the standings appears to have been correct.
  • …Because, after Bianchi scored those first-ever points for the team (at Monaco), both drivers loosened up a bit and started pushing.
  • …So, Chilton’s got this.
  • I hate to make things worse, but…
  • …This weekend marks the first anniversary of the death of Maria de Villota.
  • …In 2012, the Marussia development driver lost control while doing straight line tests and collided with a support truck.
  • …She survived, but just barely, undergoing a long series of surgeries and losing her right eye.
  • …Maria approached her recovery with full-attack, working closely with professionals and monitoring her developments with stringency, ready to pounce on each opportunity to advance.
  • …She got her license (to drive), and never ruled out a return to some form of racing.
  • …Along the way, she became a major player in the FIA Safety Commission and focused on causes related to brain injuries.
  • …Then, just a little over a year after her accident, she (simply) went to sleep and never woke up.
  • …So, if you’re looking for a hero…
  • …Or, an example of how a person can come back strong from a serious head injury…
  • …There you go.
  • …God, what a weekend for Marussia, though.
  • …And, as they enter their home race.
  • …But, again, if you want positives, look to Maria.
  • On a related note…
  • …This session has just been red-flagged.
  • …Don’t worry, no crashes.
  • …Ricciardo’s Red Bull stopped on track.
  • …The car had to be retrieved.
  • …And, after what happened last weekend, it appears that F1 is opting for a bit more cautiousness.
  • …Which is good.
  • …Sad that it takes a horrible event to shake things up and back in line.
  • …But, things happen and the best you can hope for is that something is learned and changes are reviewed and implemented.
  • P3 ends.
  • …Very slippery, but no major drama.
  • …Phew, eh?
  • …Final laps fly in.
  • …McLaren rookie Magnussen and Ferrari’s Alonso break up the Mercedes party.
  • …Hamilton, Magnussen, Alonso, and Rosberg.
  • …And, the verdict?
  • …Gorgeous track with a strong potential for some very exciting action.
  • …The grip is growing, folks.
  • …It’s going to be just what everyone needs.
  • Okay, so, that’s that.
  • …Oh, except that I forgot to mention that Lotus will be Mercedes-powered next season.
  • …Yes, with McLaren moving to Honda, a spot opened up and Lotus got it.
  • …No one can predict how these cars will work next season, but one thing is sure: this Lotus just didn’t work well with the touchy Renault.
  • …Earlier this season, Red Bull Principal Christian Horner had said that he’d love for Lotus to go to Mercedes, as it would give Renault the opportunity to focus more on fewer teams (starting with Red Bull).
  • …So, there’s your broader impact of this.
  • …As of now, the McLaren and Lotus moves are the only power changes.
  • …And, we know that Haas will be developing with Ferrari.
  • …So, yeah, that’s the latest on that.
  • …As always, the best of luck to everyone.
  • Now, I think that’s it.
  • …Oh, everyone noticed that all drivers are racing with Bianchi-supporting stickers on their helmets, right?
  • …Toro Rosso’s Vergne posted an Instagram of the rolls yesterday.
  • …He’s the brain child, and everyone supported it.
  • …Also, most (if not all, I haven’t seen every one yet) cars are running with Bianchi tributes of some sort.
  • …Along with the Schumacher tributes.
  • …And, Williams (always) runs with a Senna tribute.
  • …Bianchi’s accident has left F1 severely shaken.
  • …He seems to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
  • …So, I hope having all these physical tributes not only makes their support clear, but that they allow the drivers to shift their mental state a bit, so they can focus on the racing.
  • …Little things like that work.
  • …And, little things like making this a great race weekend are going to have a big impact on everyone’s mood.
  • …A big boost of positivity.
  • …Good vibes for everyone.
  • Okay, now, that -is- all I have.
  • …Without going into rants on Japan (oh, I have questions; lots of questions) or politics (and why sport is good for everyone).
  • …Because, I’m going to try to do my part to make sure this weekend is fun and exciting.
  • …Rough as it is.
  • …Man, was jumping into this unpleasant.
  • …It just was.
  • …A lot of not wanting to do it, not feeling right about doing it, and acknowledging that no one cares if I do or don’t, anyway.
  • …But, I started this to amuse myself, with the hope of putting some good vibes out there.
  • …A huge amount of positivity is needed in F1 right now.
  • …So, let’s hope all these drops in the bucket everyone is putting in add up to something great.
  • …And, if you need a giggle, just know that, when I read that Vergne would be “driving for Jules” (this weekend), my brain went to…
  • …Jules Vergne.
  • …Boom.
  • For those in the US…
  • …Qualifying will air on NBCSN at 7am (ET) tomorrow.
  • …Today, “Countdown to F1” will air at 5pm (ET).
  • …And, a rebroadcast of this session (P2) will air at 12:30am (ET), Saturday.
  • …As always, check your local listings to be sure.
  • I’m going back to bed.
  • …Because, I can and I want to.
  • …So, there.
  • Chilton came in 20th, by the way.
  • …In case anyone was wondering.
  • …He was 21st in P1.
  • …I said that he’s got it, not that he got a Mercedes.
  • Have a lovely rest of your day!
  • …And, Marussia…
  • …Be okay πŸ™‚
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