MOTORSPORT /// F1 /// 2014 GRAND PRIX OF THE UNITED STATES (31.10.2014 – 2.11.2014) /// UNWANTED COMMENTARY: SHALL WE DO THIS LIVE? /// P2…

  • …Aaannnddd, back.
  • Good afternoon.
  • 2014 USGP.
  • Free Practice 2.
  • And, for the record, yes, yes it was difficult to not use, “Y’all come back, nah, y’hear” at the end of my P1 commentary.
  • …This will be my struggle all weekend.
  • …And, I can assure you that…
  • …It’s a losing battle.
  • …”The Beverly Hillbillies” must be referenced.
  • …It must.
  • Okay, a quick recap of Circuit of the Americas…
  • …3.426mi (5.513km) in length.
  • …On race day, there will be 56 laps.
  • …Run counterclockwise.
  • …Bringing the total to 191.634mi (308.405km).
  • …For those lucky enough to survive the 20 twisty turns and that 130-ish foot T1 climb.
  • …It is (currently) a sunny, windy 73f.
  • …Keep in mind that things heat up fast on track.
  • …And, the big sky sun of Middle America heats up equally fast.
  • …Plus, the wind really whips across the plains.
  • …Oooooooklaaahoma…
  • …Where the wind comes sweeping down the plains…
  • …It’s true.
  • …We have few natural windbreaks between the Rockies and the Appalachians.
  • In 2013…
  • …Red Bull’s Vettel won and celebrated with some doughnuts and a few haunting words of wisdom.
  • …Reminding the world that these moments are fleeting and must be cherished.
  • …Lotus’ Grosjean took second.
  • …Which kickstarted his new life as a person who wears cowboy hats.
  • …I can only assume his wife spent much of the offseason, prying that stetson away from him.
  • …And, Red Bull’s Webber took third.
  • …Squeezing another podium in during his last races in F1.
  • …And, celebrating with a bottle of Jagermeister.
  • Practice 1…
  • …It was yet another Mercedes lockout.
  • …Championship leader Hamilton leading tailgater Rosberg.
  • …McLaren’s Button came in third.
  • …And Toro Rosso rookie Kvyat came in fourth.
  • …Two reserves ran.
  • …Williams’ Nasr (in Bottas’ car), who came in eighth.
  • …And, Toro Rosso’s Verstappen (in Vergne’s car), who came in 10th.
  • …Pretty impressive, if I might toss my two cents at your face.
  • …But, the real winner was Lotus’ Maldonado.
  • …Why?
  • …Maldonado is number 13.
  • …He came in 13th.
  • …On Halloween.
  • …Boom.
  • A light spin for Williams’ Massa.
  • …He regains control.
  • …Moving on.
  • A few reminders…
  • …Caterham and Marussia have withdrawn from competition.
  • …Both are taking a leave to reassess their (respective) financial situations.
  • …Caterham was (actually) locked out of their headquarters.
  • …The result of a failure to pay some bills, stemming from an incredibly confusing sale gone wrong.
  • …With the cars (still) inside.
  • …Rookie Ericsson -is- at COTA, however.
  • …I have no idea who he’s hanging with, but why waste a ticket, a pass, and an opportunity to take a look at the circuit, eh?
  • …As for Marussia, they’re just not in the best of places in the wake of the Bianchi accident (at the Japanese Grand Prix).
  • …Because Bianchi did score those two points at Monaco (his and the team’s first ever), there are a few extra millions to drop in the bucket, and there’s been no word of crisis mode.
  • …But, now seems like a good time to stop and reassess.
  • …A shame for everyone involved, from the drivers to the guys behind the scenes.
  • …Fingers crossed that the underdogs can emerge from the rabbit hole as strong as Alice.
  • …As I always say, numbers never lie, because they never tell the whole story.
  • …The end results do no justice to how competitive these teams have been this season.
  • …Bianchi and Ericsson seem to have found some magic, some way to make these underpowered cars go.
  • …It would be a shame to see it all end as it was just beginning.
  • …So, there are four fewer cars racing this weekend.
  • …Because of that, four cars will be knocked out in each of the first two Qualifying sessions.
  • …But, I’ll get into that more tomorrow.
  • …In other struggling team news, Lotus is running a new nose this round.
  • …All season, they’ve used that two-prong nose that looks like the cover of a 1970s album.
  • …Emerson, Lake, Palmer, Grosjean, and Maldonado.
  • …They’ve close the gap.
  • …Much like Lauren Hutton did in her early modeling days.
  • …Vettel will be using his sixth engine this weekend.
  • …Knowing this was going to happen, the team agreed to starting the 2013 winner and four-time World Champion from the pits on race day.
  • …As he said (last year), lasting success is never guaranteed.
  • Massive slide for Grosjean.
  • …Lotus have no idea what to expect (this weekend).
  • …Renualt had voiced concerns over their ability to perform competitively at COTA.
  • …Then, factor in the new nose.
  • …It’s (definitely) a testing weekend.
  • …But, if there’s any team that has turned lemons into lemonade, it’s Lotus.
  • …They’ve had an absolutely hideous year.
  • …Eight points.
  • …All scored by Grosjean.
  • …Yes, the very same guy who look second at COTA in 2013.
  • …The guy who came closest to Vettel in the second half of the 2013 season.
  • …Eight points.
  • …But, they’ve known it would be a tough year from the get-go.
  • …So, they opted to take the approach of using this season as a learning period, absorbing everything they can in the name of a better 2015.
  • …So, major props to Lotus for passing on the bull, calling it what it is, and running with it.
  • …And, apart from a few (understandable) moments, both drivers have had very good, positive attitudes through it all.
  • …Maldonado has re-signed for 2015 and Grosjean is finalizing his own contract renewal.
  • …Hopefully, the move to Mercedes power will work for them.
  • …Because, really, they’re so much better than this.
  • …Hopefully, they’ll be like this year’s Williams success story.
  • With (about) 45 minutes to go…
  • …Rosberg, Hamilton, Red Bull’s Ricciardo, and McLaren’s Magnussen lead.
  • …Magnussen came in fifth in P1.
  • …And, it is the rookie’s COTA debut.
  • …So, he’s doing pretty okay.
  • Just for the record…
  • …Watching the cars ascend that T1 hill never gets old.
  • …This is the third year at COTA.
  • …Three Practice sessions per race, plus Qualifying and the grands prix…
  • …Most of it televised…
  • …It’s a rollercoaster rush, just watching it.
  • …Watching the cars ascend the hill, descending into the s-turns.
  • …I am in no way, shape, or form patriotic.
  • …But, my god, is COTA a source of pride.
  • …I was worried, I really was.
  • …Austin?  Austin?  Really?
  • …Great music and food town, but, not, exactly, the first place that springs to mind when you think of breathtaking scenery to enhance a track.
  • …But, the track is amazing.
  • …And, the big sky works.
  • …(Yes, it really does look like that in the middle of the US and Canada – in fact, the entire American continent gives great sky, thanks to being so massive and wild.  Evidence available on my Flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hitchcockblondebritt/)
  • …As does the Texas kitsch.
  • …Frankly, I like the Texas kitsch.  It’s quirky.  Personality is good.
  • …Plus, BBQ.
  • …That is all.
  • Fun Friday Fact…
  • …Growing up, the physical education curriculum in my school district (in Minnesota) included dance.
  • …Part of that was line dancing.
  • …I suspect I could (still) bust a twangin’ move if needed.
  • …If the music didn’t kill me.
  • …I don’t do well with country.
  • …Austin isn’t (really) known for country.
  • …It has a long-standing reputation for being an alternative/college rock/whatever you want to call it (I call it music, what I grew up with, what my mom always listened to and still does).
  • …It -is- home to the University of Texas main campus, after all.
  • …Go Longhorns, et al.
  • …Anyway…
  • …As I watch onboard of Rosberg on the rollercoaster.
  • …It never gets old!
  • So…
  • …Question…
  • …Why (and how) have I never gone to the USGP?
  • …Because, I’m just not as good at grabbing those moments as Vettel.
  • …It’s always something.
  • …I balk at some concern.
  • …I run out of time to take time off of work.
  • …And, I end up watching it from home.
  • …Talking to myself.
  • …This year’s excuse?
  • …There are, what, 500 events going on in Austin this weekend?
  • …I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get a hotel room anywhere closer than El Paso.
  • …And, that it would be crawling with brown recluse spiders.
  • …I have this crazy discomfort with rental cars (they turn me into a nervous driver) and was sure that, given the traffic and potential distance, I’d end up turning what should be a great weekend into a traumatizing regret and all-around horrible time.
  • …But, there will never be a good time, will there?
  • …So, (maybe) next year.
  • …I say it every year, so it’s bound to happen sometime.
  • …I don’t do well with monotony.
  • …’Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure’…
  • …”Everyone’s got a big ‘but’, but yours is the biggest…”
  • …I’ve been running F1 commentary for three years, now.
  • …I’m a superfan, I know my stuff, I care about the drivers, I want every team to do well, I love it, it’s inherited (my mom has been a fan since she was a kid)…
  • …And, I’ve never been to an F1 race.
  • …Ridiculous, isn’t it?
  • There’s Alexander Rossi.
  • …Marussia’s American reserve driver.
  • …After he was dumped by Caterham.
  • …Rocking a guest pass, rather than a driver pass.
  • …He’s with Marussia, which uses Ferrari power and is part of the Ferrari “family”…
  • …I hope he gets a seat with Haas in 2016.
  • …Haas (already) has Ferrari affiliation and may end up a junior team (like Toro Rosso is to Red Bull).
  • …Experienced (but, still, young) American driver, American team…
  • …It’d just be cool.
  • …Man, what a situation for him, though.
  • …Being the Marussia reserve.
  • …Imagine wanting a competitive seat so badly, but one (only) opens up because the driver suffered serious head trauma in an accident.
  • …You just don’t want it that that way.
  • …I would imagine it would just give you an icky feeling.
  • …Not a way to start your career.
  • …Ack – remember when he was supposed to fill Chilton’s seat while they were working out some mystery contract matter (earlier this year; Belgium, I think)?
  • …Well, you can’t say he hasn’t battled to get to F1.
  • …As if being from the US doesn’t make it difficult enough.
  • And, that is that for P2…
  • …As the cars complete their final lap and fly in.
  • …Onboard with Rosberg…
  • …Can he top Hamilton?
  • …No.
  • …Hamilton, Rosberg, Ferrari’s Alonso, Ricciardo, and Massa lead the way.
  • …And, no, no one knows anything about where Alonso is going next year (except Alonso, himself).
  • …Just thought I’d toss that in there.
  • …Vettel comes in dead last.
  • …Because, he’ll be starting from the pits, so why waste the car?
  • …Hey, how about the Mexican drivers?
  • …I cannot believe I didn’t mention them in P1.
  • …This is a home race for them.
  • …Though, let’s be honest, if you’re from the Americas, the the whopping three stops in Canada, the US, and Brazil are pretty homey and exciting.
  • …(Mexico is on the calendar for 2015!!!)
  • …Anyway…
  • …Force India’s Perez came in 15th in P1.
  • …14th in P2.
  • …Sauber’s Gutierrez came in 16th in P1.
  • …17th in P2.
  • …Remember, last year, these two (Perez, with McLaren) cranked it up to 11 like someone had lit a fire under their shitkickers.
  • …Oh, man, was that exciting!
  • …Sadly, I’m not sure the Sauber has the power to do much this year.
  • …But, still, I hope they can let loose, really have some fun and put on a good show at home.
  • …And, please, please, please, can we hang onto them so they can race at Mexico?
  • …Please?
  • …And, you know, those are two names you can toss in that 2016 Haas ring.
  • …Yes, it’s a very long way off.
  • …But, it never hurts to look/ponder/think/dream.
  • …Also, I’m available.
  • …To do what?  I don’t know.
  • …I can’t drive, but I can…I don’t know…spell?
  • …I say this jokingly, because everyone can do better.
  • Okay, so, that is that for the day.
  • …If you live in the US, NBC will be airing P3 and Qualifying at noon (Central Time).
  • …Yes, NBC.
  • …Not NBC Sports Network.
  • …If you want to catch P2 (again, or for the first time), it will be on NBCSN this evening at 9:30 (CT, my time, COTA’s time).
  • …That will be followed by “Road to Mercedes”, which aired between P1 and P2 (today) and I cannot recommend enough.
  • …Two words: Nordschleife.  Rain.
  • …Oh, my god.
  • …Thing of beauty.
  • So, I do believe I will leave it there.
  • Have a very happy Halloween!
  • …Just remember the advice of Gar Halloween Field…
  • …”You go out, you get candy.”
  • …Or, “You have a might too many peg legs”.
  • …Your call.
  • I will be back tomorrow for P3 and Qualifying.
  • …Scary.
  • Until then…
  • …Fun Freaky Friday Fact…
  • …My favorite actor (as a toddler) was Vincent Price.
  • …I was convinced there was a Vincent Price doll.
  • …I wanted it.
  • …When I grew up, I found one.
  • …Happy Halloween.
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