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

  • Good morning!
  • Okay…
  • …It’s been a long, very difficult week.
  • …To say the least.
  • …But, the smiles have been returning.
  • …The sun is shining on Sochi.
  • …I’m rocking one of my all-time favorite t-shirts…
  • …”Stop Russian to conclusions”.
  • …Faded, pilled to high-hell, I love it.
  • …And, this?
  • …This is the inaugural Russian Grand Prix.
  • …So, let’s do this.
  • …Let’s do this, because this is the sport we love.
  • …Let’s do this, because sport is a great global uniter.
  • …And, let’s do this, because Jules Bianchi could use some good vibes.
  • …And, maybe, just a little motivation for that well-trained body and brain to get back to where it’s worked so hard to be.
  • …Let’s do this.
  • Sochi Autodrom…
  • …Located in the gorgeous resort town of Sochi, Krasnodar Krai, between the Black Sea and Caucasus Mountains.
  • …It is a street circuit, taking drivers through the heart of Olympic Park.
  • …18 turns.
  • …It is 5.848km (3.634mi) long.
  • …Making it one of the longest circuits on the 2014 calendar.
  • …There will be 53 laps.
  • ….Which brings the total distance to 309.745km (192.467mi).
  • …Weather-wise, it is (currently) 70 (Fahrenheit) and sunny.
  • …A perfect day for a race.
  • …And, exactly what F1 needs in the wake of last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix typhoon disaster.
  • Qualifying…
  • …Another Mercedes domination.
  • …With Hamilton taking pole.
  • …And, Rosberg coming in second.
  • …Williams’ Bottas came close to ousting the duo, but went wide on the final turn, settling for third.
  • …Next to him (on the grid) will be McLaren’s Button.
  • …I am going to assume (hope) that this will be the order some amazing F1 nesting dolls will be in.
  • …Please?
  • …(I love nesting dolls.)
  • Grid Penalties…
  • …Three drivers have five-place grid penalties for unscheduled gearbox changes.
  • …McLaren’s Magnussen.
  • …Force India’s Incredible Hülkenberg.
  • …And, Marussia’s Chilton.
  • …Remember that Marussia has opted to run one car this weekend.
  • …Out of respect for Bianchi.
  • …Reserve Rossi was on the list and ready to go, but no one felt right about it, so Chilton will be the lone Marussia.
  • …He’s got it.
  • …Lotus’ Maldonado will be serving the final five-spots of his Japanese Grand Prix 10-spot penalty for his sixth engine change of the season.
  • Ready?
  • Here we go!
  • Hamilton holds the lead.
  • The Mercs fight from the start.
  • Huge lockup from Rosberg.
  • Red Bull’s Ricciardo and his 2015 teammate, Toro Rosso’s Kvyat, duke it out from line three.
  • …Kvyat is the only Russian in F1.
  • …He placed fifth.
  • …They’ve named grandstands after him.
  • …He is thinking globally and acting locally, folks.
  • Rosberg pits.
  • …After radioing with not-so-good vibrations.
  • …Following that massive lockup.
  • Magnussen and Toro Rosso’s Vergne go wheel to wheel around the turns!
  • …Vergne has been on an absolute “screw it” charge since it was announced that he would be replaced by 17-year-old Max Verstappen next season.
  • …Add to that charge a drive he’s dedicated to Bianchi.
  • …And, watch out for Monsieur Jean-Eric Vergne!
  • Something to keep in mind while watching this…
  • …This is a brand-new circuit.
  • …With a brand-new circuit.
  • …Which means it’s quite slippery.
  • …It’s improved with every lap run by every car from Free Practice 1.
  • …But, watch for more going wide.
  • …And, thus, a potential for increased track limit violations and penalties.
  • …Drivers cannot put all four wheels over the outside lines.
  • …Slippery new track, or not, the rules stand.
  • Ricciardo is radioing that he’s “losing a lot of time”.
  • …Red Bull had acknowledged that this was not a circuit suited to their car.
  • …Ricciardo managed to place sixth.
  • …But, four-time World Champion Vettel failed to advance to Q3.
  • …Ending up in 10th, after the Magnussen penalty was put in place.
  • Rosberg radios that he is “driving in a way that will get him to the end of the race, for your information”.
  • …So, there’s your bonus snark.
  • …Not a happy camper.
  • …Not a happy camper since losing his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to his teammate, really.
  • …Hamilton (now) leads by 10.
  • …Time is running out.
  • …(Only) three races remain after Russia.
  • …And, that final race in Abu Dhabi will be worth double points.
  • …So, shit’s getting real in that race.
  • Chilton pits.
  • …And, it’s looking suspicious.
  • …Very slow for a standard start.
  • …This just isn’t a good weekend for Marussia.
  • …Not only are they trying to deal with Bianchi’s accident.
  • …This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of the death of development driver Maria de Villota.
  • …Remember that, in 2012, Maria collided with a support truck while running straight-line tests ahead of Silverstone.
  • …She suffered severe head trauma, shattering her skull and losing her right eye, undergoing surgery after surgery in the following year.
  • …She emerged in record time, working on a daily basis to get back to normal, relearning to drive, getting back into skiing, everything.
  • …She (also) dedicated herself to working with the FIA Safety Commission, along with her work with the FIA’s Women in Motorsport initiative, and various neurological organizations.
  • …And, she upped her style game massively.
  • …Who can rock a coordinating eye patch with every outfit?
  • …Maria, that’s who.
  • …Then, one night, while on a work trip in her native Spain, after a little over a year of fighting, she just went to sleep and never woke up.
  • …And, that was one year ago.
  • …So, a very rough weekend for the part Russian squad.
  • …Just made worse by a retirement for Chilton.
  • …Who has emerged from the car and is just standing over it, looking at it and shaking his head.
  • …A very rough weekend for Marussia, indeed.
  • …But, you have to give them credit for just showing up and giving it a go.
  • …And, for Chilton, who was running their only car, while (probably) not feeling so great.
  • …Pack up and give yourself a few seconds to breathe, Marussia.
  • …You need it.
  • Hey, look, there’s a whole race going on!
  • At Lap 19…
  • …Hamilton, Bottas, Button, and Ferrari’s Alonso lead.
  • …Alonso’s girlfriend, Dasha, is Russian.
  • …So, he wouldn’t mind some bonus Brownie points this weekend.
  • As Kvyat pits…
  • …It’s worth mentioning that one quirk of this circuit is its narrow pitlane.
  • …So, teams have to be extra cautious with their releases.
  • …There is zero room for error.
  • Both Mercs, radioing in with very different reports.
  • …Rosberg is complaining of tire wear.
  • …Hamilton says his tires are good.
  • Did I touch on the tire choices?
  • …I wrapped delayed Qualifying commentary a few hours ago.
  • …I went on a while about them there.
  • …Apparently, too long.
  • …Nope, I didn’t.
  • …Okay, because the track is new, no one knew what the surface would be like.
  • …So, Pirelli opted for softs and mediums.
  • …As it turns out, the circuit is incredibly smooth.
  • …Supersofts would have been more appropriate.
  • …But, no one knew that.
  • …And, had it been rough, cars would have been blowing through tires left and right.
  • …So, if you’re wondering or angry at their stupidity…
  • …It wasn’t  stupidity, it was (actually) a very smart move.
  • …Better safe than sorry works in this case.
  • …And, they’ve been fine.
  • Ooo-a botched pit stop for Alonso.
  • …Big balk on take-off.
  • …Something wasn’t clear.
  • …Let’s not run over any mechanics or take them with you or anything, boys.
  • …Please?
  • …Shot of Dasha, walking over to Kvyat’s garage.
  • …Just kidding.
  • At Lap 30…
  • …Hamilton leads.
  • …Vettel has taken second.
  • …But, has yet to stop.
  • …Bottas is in third.
  • …And, Rosberg is in fourth.
  • …Hamilton, Bottas, and Rosberg have (all) done stops.
  • A little chat with Chilton.
  • …Very interesting.
  • …He’d been struggling with the way the tires were working with the car.
  • …He just wasn’t feeling it.
  • …So, the team decided to pull him, examine the car, and just call it a weekend.
  • …He made it clear that it just wasn’t a good weekend for them.
  • …If the car was questionable, why risk more harm, either physically (car or driver) or emotionally?
  • …So, odd as it sounds, that’s good to hear.
  • …They’re calling it what it is, running with how they’re feeling, and just handling the whole situation on their own terms.
  • …They’ll bounce back.
  • …It’s been a tremendous season for them.
  • …They just need a little time.
  • Good god.
  • …That race is (still) going!
  • …Imagine that.
  • At Lap 35…
  • …Oh, look…
  • …It’s Hamilton and Rosberg in the lead.
  • …BOT BUT follows.
  • …During Qualifying, I noted that there has to be some sort of conspiracy between Bottas and Button to screw with everyone’s eyes.
  • …The two are together way too often.
  • …BOT BUT.
  • …And, how much worse am I making it with my handwriting?
  • …With the super-rounded ‘U’s?
  • …Sorry.
  • Caterham have retired Kobayashi.
  • …The report is that nothing was wrong with the car.
  • …They just wanted to preserve the car.
  • …It’s no secret that  the team is struggling to the point that…
  • …Well…
  • …Is there anyone not thinking that they will not be around next season?
  • …They’re just in so much financial trouble.
  • …I mean, possessions have been seized.
  • …That’s the ultimate in bad.
  • …Apparently, Kobayashi is beyond angry (he was already frustrated with the situation at Caterham) and verbally wondering why he left his World Endurance Championship drive to return to F1.
  • …Well, because he was optimistic, loves F1, and his F1 career shouldn’t have ended so soon to begin with.
  • …It was so exciting to see him back in action.
  • …But, this is not what his return should have been.
  • …And, there’s a very real possibility that, should Caterham go down, (rookie) Ericsson will be lost in the avalanche.
  • …Ericsson and Bianchi have been superstars this season, showing that those little engines can, making waves and putting up very real fights.
  • …So, that would be very unfortunate.
  • …To say the least.
  • Russian President Putin has arrived.
  • …But, he’s wearing a shirt and not on a horse.
  • …So, I don’t know what’s up with that.
  • At Lap 44…
  • …Yeah, nothing’s changed.
  • …Hamilton, Rosberg, BOT BUT.
  • …Idea: acknowledge BOT BUT as a real entity.
  • …Put them (both) on the podium.
  • …Should they hold these positions, of course.
  • Okay, can we discuss Russian stereotypes some more?
  • …I addressed the antiquated anti-Soviet propaganda image of Russia in my Qualifying commentary.
  • …Shuffling down grey streets in the snowy wind, covering tired faces with large scarves while wearing oversized coats and sensible shoes.
  • …Now, for part two.
  • …Grid girls.
  • …I was very worried they would run with the traditional shiny spandex and skin.
  • …Minimalist, if you will.
  • …Instead, they’ve opted for absolutely adorable, red, white, and blue, traditionally-styled dresses.
  • …Love them.
  • …Absolutely love them.
  • …I just hope there’s no velcro show at the end.
  • …I’m not allowed in Russia, am I?
  • …I love you Russia.
  • …Enough to have spent a good chunk of money, studying you.
  • …But, you know…
  • …Yeah.
  • Hey, let’s discuss Massa!
  • …Since there was a shot of his brother, Dudu, in the Williams garage earlier.
  • …Massa was knocked out of Q1 with fuel pressure issues.
  • …He started 18th.
  • …Yes, Massa started in 18th.
  • …Next to Mr Incredible.
  • …In Hell, apparently.
  • …He’s not had a great race.
  • …Currently running in 11th at Lap 51.
  • …Just ahead of Mr Incredible.
  • …I don’t know.
  • …I suspect they don’t, either.
  • Entering the final lap.
  • …Has everyone noticed that there was an absence of running wide?
  • …I do believe Sochi Autodrom has been broken in!
  • …Don’t worry, they’ll send Putin out on a horse after the race to make sure.
  • …No shirt, surrounded by bikini-clad girls.
  • …The deafening sound of velcro ripping.
  • That’s it!
  • …Hamilton takes another win.
  • …Rosberg takes another second.
  • …52 laps on the same set of tires.
  • …Yep, after that initial stop, he just kept going.
  • …Un-frigging-believable, eh?
  • …Bottas takes third.
  • …Button takes nothing.
  • …But, comes in fourth after an excellent, steady, dominating inaugural Russian Grand Prix.
  • …And, he’s Jenson Button.
  • …So, screw you, man.
  • …Speaking of “screw you”…
  • …Rosberg has wandered off without congratulating his teammate.
  • …As (I believe) this does all-but seal the Constructors’ Championship for Mercedes.
  • …Though, I guess, there will be no formal announcement until the season is over.
  • …I don’t know where they’re expecting other teams to get points from, but, okay.
  • …Hey, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a numbers girl.
  • …Nor do I like magic.
  • …Anyway…
  • …Magnussen rounds out the top five.
  • …Beyond that, it’s Alonso, Ricciardo, Vettel, Kimi, and Force India’s Perez in the points.
  • …Unable to come away with points were Massa, Mr Incredible, Monsieur Vergne, home race hero Kvyat, Sauber’s Gutierrez and Sutil, Lotus’ Grosjean and Maldonado, and Ericsson.
  • …Basically, everyone I praised.
  • …Yeah.
  • Podium time.
  • …Putin, himself, is handing out the trophies.
  • …Iron fist handshakes for everyone.
  • …He seemed to have some bonus words for Bottas.
  • …Nope, it’s not worth asking.
  • …Fun fact: Russian is my favorite language.
  • …It purrs threats.
  • …And, there’s nothing better than hearing the word “happy” in a Russian accent.
  • …I think this has made Putin very happy.
  • …I think it has made everyone very happy, really.
  • …Now, Bottas, the ultra Finn, has answered “happy” with “happy”.
  • …This is too much.
  • …I can’t handle it.
  • …We’ve just gone so far over what I can take with a straight face…
  • …You’ve all made me very happy.
  • …There were giant nesting dolls.
  • …The word “gulag” came up.
  • …Oh, my god.
  • …This is my personal fun park.
  • …I need a moment.
  • Yeah, anyway…
  • I listed the podium results of the 1914 Russian Grand Prix on my “Cheat Sheet”.
  • …It was pre-F1, but (absolutely) pertinent.
  • …The last winner was a German named Willy Scholl, who drove for Benz.
  • …100 years later, the Russian Grand Prix returns and two Mercedes drivers stand atop the podium and Mercedes (yes, unofficially) takes the Constructors’ Championship.
  • …Cool, eh?
  • So, how about those Drivers’ Championship standings?
  • …Hamilton retains the lead over Rosberg.
  • …Ricciardo maintains third.
  • …Bottas bounces back up to fourth.
  • …And Vettel rounds out the top five.
  • Man, there is a party going on at the Mercedes garage.
  • …This -is- the team’s first Championship.
  • …So, that’s a lot of build-up.
  • …Pretty volcanic, really.
  • …And, to think that Hamilton was poo-pooed for moving to the struggling team (from McLaren) as 2012 wrapped.
  • …That’s the beauty of F1.
  • …It’s always changing.
  • …You just never know what a season will bring.
  • …No word as to whether Dudu has wandered over, by the way.
  • …Williams is Mercedes powered and the teams do have a nice, close relationship.
  • …Including the marriage of (Merc boss) Toto Wolff and (Williams development driver) Susie Wolff.
  • …I don’t know.
  • …I think Dudu should roll on over to Marussia and hang.
  • …Ooo-or, Marussia should head over to Mercedes.
  • …They’re Ferrari-powered, but could use some fun.
  • …And, Geri Halliwell, Ginger Spice, herself, should roll on over from the Red Bull garage.
  • …You know what?
  • …Everyone over to Mercedes!
  • …And, following the celebratory suggestion of Rodney Dangerfield (in ‘Caddyshack’)…
  • …Everybody get laid!
  • …(Again, the deafening sound of velcro fills Sochi Autodrom.)
  • …Yep, you, too, Minttu (Virtanen, Kimi’s girlfriend).
  • …You’re pregnant, you’re traveling, you’ve earned it, girl!
  • Ooohhh, nothing says fun like Russia.
  • Seriously, this is exactly what everyone needed after this past week.
  • …A great race, everyone starting evenly, amazing weather, sun, energy, the excitement of a new place and a new circuit…
  • …And, so many silly cultural references to toss in the mix.
  • …Hopefully, the good vibes will make it to Bianchi.
  • …It’s all anyone could (really) do.
  • …And, they did it well.
  • So, next up is…
  • ….Drums, please…
  • …COTA!
  • …Circuit of the Americas!
  • …With its crazy Turn 1 and the ‘S’ turns that it leads to.
  • …Now, if you want to have fun with silly cultural references…
  • …Put your shit-kickers on, saddle up, and get ready to tip your hat to the epitome of living caricatures!
  • …Once again, I will not be attending my home race (well, it’s in the same country, though Montreal is equidistant from where I am).
  • …I had thought about going as a person who goes to Grands Prix for Halloween, but couldn’t make it happen.
  • …Well, I didn’t try hard enough.
  • …If we’re being honest.
  • …(Both the thought of taking time off work and taking a vacation terrifies me.)
  • …But, NBCSN and NBC will be airing every minute of it.
  • …Practice 1 all the way to the Grand Prix.
  • …It’s (all) in the afternoon (US ET).
  • …So, I should be able to run more commentary than anyone every needed.
  • …Honestly, I can’t wait.
  • …I remember being so worried that COTA would be a disappointment.
  • …That its Austin base would be alienating, that the track would reflect the surroundings.
  • …Which, in comparison to venues such as Belgium or Singapore, is a little bland.
  • …Either you appreciate the middle America landscape, or you don’t.
  • …Tip: watch the clouds, both in the wide, open sky and the shadows they cast on the ground.
  • …So, not next weekend, not the following weekend, but the weekend after that.
  • …Halloween weekend.
  • …The USGP.
  • Until then…
  • …Have a lovely Sunday.
  • …And, remember, it’s less than one year until the next Russian Grand Prix kicks off.
  • …I’ve heard word that they’ve (already) put a bid in to make it a night race.
  • …Hmmm…
  • (Forza Jules!!!)
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