MOTORSPORT /// F1 /// 2014 GRAND PRIX OF THE UNITED STATES (31.10.2014 – 2.11.2014) /// UNWANTED COMMENTARY: SHALL WE DO THIS ON DELAY? /// P3…

  • Hey!
  • I just ran in the door.
  • But, I’m here, you’re here, and we’re all hear for…
  • …The United States Grand Prix!
  • Okay, how’s this?
  • …I think…
  • …Think…
  • …This is the first time I’ve covered a Free Practice 3.
  • …And, I was a little confused as to how it was going to work.
  • …So, here’s the deal…
  • …This is P3, yes.
  • …It’s (already) happened.
  • …The results are in.
  • …But, NBC is airing it right before their live broadcast of Qualifying (at 1pm CT).
  • …So, this is on delay.
  • …But, I’ve not seen the results, so enjoy the semi-unintentional suspension of disbelief.
  • …It’ll be fun.
  • …It always is.
  • Right.
  • Circuit of the Americas.
  • …Third verse, same as the first.
  • …It is 3.426mi (5.513km) long.
  • …20 turns.
  • …Very clear, unambiguous, Texas turns.
  • …Run counterclockwise.
  • …On race day (tomorrow), there will be 56 laps.
  • …Which brings the total distance to 191.634mi (308.405km).
  • …To those who survive the rollercoaster that is COTA.
  • Last year…
  • …Red Bull’s Vettel celebrated another win in his fourth championship season with a few doughnuts and some words of wisdom over the radio.
  • …Lotus’ Grosjean took second, continuing his raiding of Vettel’s turf in the second half, and embarked upon a new life as a dude who wears cowboy hats.
  • …And, in third, was Red Bull’s Webber, making his final stretch in F1 just a little sweeter, with some help from a bottle of post-race Jagermeister.
  • Practices 1 & 2…
  • …Were dominated by Mercedes.
  • …With Championship leader Hamilton just barely squeaking out ahead of Championship runner-up Rosberg.
  • …Seriously, the gap was something like .003 in P2.
  • …P1 was a little slippery after some overnight rain.
  • …Lots of spinning and sliding.
  • …But, fortunately, no drama.
  • …Then came the strong prairie winds for P2.
  • …All of which was under the big, scorching sun of the Plains, translating a mid-70s air temperature to a track temperature fit for grillin’ a whole cow and some fixins.
  • A few notes and reminders…
  • …Caterham and Marussia have opted out of this round in order to address their finances.
  • …What this means for this weekend is that there are four fewer cars on track.
  • …You know what?
  • …I’ll review the Qualifying adjustments during Qualifying.
  • …Rather than here.
  • …Lotus are testing a new nose.
  • …Their…highly recognizable…1970s album cover-inspired double nose will not be allowed next season, so, with no Championship hopes, they’re using their time wisely (for them).
  • …McLaren’s Button had a gearbox change.
  • …So, he’ll be looking at a grid spot penalty.
  • …Likewise, Vettel went to his sixth engine before the car even set rubber on track.
  • …So, Red Bull agreed to start him from the pits prior to the start of P1.
  • …During the Practices…
  • …Well, immediately following the practices, with cars (still) on track…
  • …A new virtual safety car system was tested.
  • …Because so much can be adjusted in these cars remotely, they put two and two together and devised a system to override and slow the cars in a safety car situation.
  • …Oh, man, was it weird to watch.
  • …The cars had a little jerk, then slowed.
  • …Drivers reported that it seems to work as planned.
  • …So, that’s good.
  • …Something to consider, to test further.
  • …An idea was turned into an invention and that invention was implemented on track within weeks of the Bianchi accident at Japan.
  • …You really do have to give it to F1 for their record of quick reactions to safety concerns.
  • …It’s amazing.
  • …The world can learn a lot from this silly, little sport.
  • Okay, P3…
  • …The temperature took a 20-ish degree drop today.
  • …Right now, it is a sunny 55f.
  • …Emphasis on the 55.
  • …Once again, there has been an absence of drama.
  • …But, the sliding and spinning continues.
  • …Hamilton had a really impressive slide toward the end of this session.
  • …But, he held on and, you guessed it, is in the lead.
  • …Just remember that this is a very tricky track and that this is the first time these 2014 cars have been on it.
  • …Then, add in the elements, the moisture, the wind, and, now, the chill…
  • …It’s been difficult to get a good reading for these guys.
  • …You really do have to remember that.
  • …That, even if they’ve settled into the cars, themselves, every round, every track is a new experience.
  • …They go in with no idea how these cars are going to work.
  • …But, again, no drama thus far.
  • Time is up…
  • …The final Practice session before Qualifying…
  • …And, it’s all Mercedes power at the top.
  • …Mercedes’ Hamilton and Rosberg.
  • …Followed by Williams’ Massa and Bottas.
  • …And, Red Bull’s Ricciardo crosses the line like he was riding a mechanical bull.
  • And, with that…
  • …Time for Qualifying…
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