MOTORSPORT /// F1 /// 2016 GRAND PRIX OF CHINA (15.4.2016 – 17.4.2016) /// UNWANTED COMMENTARY: SHALL WE DO THIS LIVE? /// QUALIFYING…

  • Good…morning?
  • …Evening?
  • Whatever.
  • We can just leave it at “good”.
  • Why?
  • Well…
  • …Because…
  • …It’s time for the Chinese Grand Prix.
  • Yes!
  • …This is Qualifying.
  • …It is on NBCSN (in the US).
  • …And, Q1 is off and running.
  • As Manor’s Wehrlein slides off track.
  • Aaannnddd, we have a Red Flag.
  • You know…
  • …Before I get started on the track details…
  • …I should mention that it has been absolutely pouring in Shanghai all day.
  • …And, while there may be a break in the showers…
  • …The track is drenched.
  • …It has (officially) been declared ‘wet’.
  • …And, I would say, Wehrlein’s slingshot…
  • …After hitting standing water at full speed…
  • …Would back that up.
  • …So, just for the record…
  • …It is 72F.
  • …With 15-ish mph winds.
  • …And, overcast.
  • …So, track conditions are moist.
  • Anyhoo…
  • …Shanghai International Circuit…
  • …5.451km (3.387mi) in length.
  • …Shaped like a boxing bunny.
  • …With 16 turns.
  • …Run clockwise.
  • …On race day, 56 laps are scheduled.
  • …Which will bring the goal distance total to 305.066km (189.559mi).
  • …Wording which denotes the possibility of early retirement from action.
  • …Because, well, this is F1.
  • …A lot of shit can happen in a sport measured in fractions of seconds.
  • In 2015…
  • …It was Mercedes’ Hamilton who took the win.
  • …With his teammate, Rosberg, taking second.
  • …And, Ferrari’s Vettel on the final step of the podium.
  • …With -his- teammate, Räikkönen, just missing the fun (in fourth).
  • Currently…
  • …We are in Q1.
  • …The first of three knockout sessions.
  • …Running 18 minutes.
  • …With the clock stopped at 14:38 minutes remaining.
  • …And, no one having set a time.
  • Just a reminder…
  • …After the first two rounds saw major backlash for the new Qualifying format…
  • …They have reverted to the previous incarnation from this race, on.
  • …I, for one, stand by the idea of periodic elimination.
  • …No, theory didn’t play out so well in practice.
  • …But, I (still) think that idea should be revisited.
  • …I like the idea of that incentive to participate.
  • …However, the way it was implemented, with limited tires…
  • …Which had to be reused during the race…
  • …Pretty much cancelled out the strategic holdbacks that elimination could have prevented.
  • …The solution?
  • …Do away with the stupid tire restrictions.
  • …And, implement time penalties for dicking around in the garage.
  • …Or, something along those lines.
  • …I’m not paid to solve these problems.
  • …Anyway, Qualifying is back to how it was the past few years.
  • Okay, race: on.
  • …With 11:30 remaining.
  • Haas’ Gutierrez is the first to set a time.
  • …Yes, a time has been set.
  • …And, he’s (promptly) bumped (down) by McLaren’s Button.
  • …McLaren’s Alonso comes in between the two.
  • Haas’ Grosjean slips into third.
  • And, so on.
  • Times are being set steadily (now).
  • …With the lead teams dicking around in their garages.
  • …See?
  • …That’s the shitty shit I’d like to see eliminated by elimination.
  • Some radio transmissions regarding a circuit vehicle, parked just off track.
  • …With warnings that, if anyone goes off (there), there will be a nasty collision.
  • …And, sure enough, there’s a truck, right there.
  • …Cars, flying past.
  • …Cars that have been sliding off all day.
  • …Yeah, just saying.
  • How nice of the usual suspects to join the action!
  • Oh!
  • …NBCSN is reporting that Mercedes have confirmed that Hamilton’s car has ERS issues.
  • …They are working on it (in the garage).
  • …With two minutes remaining.
  • …Hamilton (already) has a five-place grid penalty going against him.
  • …(For a gearbox change.)
  • …Yeah, he’s done.
  • …Out of the car, waving to fans, and (I would assume) already plotting some sort of plan of action (for tomorrow).
  • Checkered flag.
  • Flying laps will count.
  • Ferrari’s Vettel, Ferrari’s Räikkönen, Williams’ Bottas, McLaren’s Button, Toro Rosso’s Sainz, Mercedes’ Rosberg, Red Bull’s Ricciardo, Red Bull’s Kvyat, Williams’ Massa, Force India’s Perez, Force India’s Hülkenberg, Toro Rosso’s Verstappen, Sauber’s Ericsson, Haas’ Grosjean, McLaren’s Alonso, and Sauber’s Nasr continue.
  • With Renault’s Magnussen, Haas’ Gutierrez, Renault’s Palmer, Manor’s Haryanto, Manor’s Wehrlein, and Mercedes’ Hamilton out.
  • Onto Q2…
  • …15 minutes.
  • …16 cars remain.
  • …And, again, the bottom six cars (at the end of this session) will be eliminated.
  • …As the clouds remain threatening.
  • …With those threats maintaining a substantial warm wind of emptiness.
  • …For now.
  • …Wasn’t that just artful, by the way?
  • …I can bring it down by tossing out some innuendo, regarding those nasty wet patches on track.
  • …If you’d like.
  • You know…
  • …the Chinese consider red to be a lucky color.
  • …Yet, Ferrari hasn’t won the Chinese Grand Prix since Alonso’s 2013 win.
  • …Prior to that, it was Kimi who gave them a win in 2007.
  • …And, (Michael) Schumacher in 2006.
  • …Can they topple Rosberg’s streak?
  • The front-left tire of The Incredible Hülkenberg has just sped ahead, without him.
  • …Mr Incredible parks.
  • …As a Red Flag is called.
  • With 1:17 remaining.
  • Race Control has declared the session over.
  • So, after Q2, it’s…
  • …Kimi, Vettel, Rosberg, Ricciardo, Bottas, Kvyat, Perez, Sainz, Verstappen, and Mr Incredible moving onto Q3
  • …Under the circumstances, Hülkenberg’s place is solidified.
  • …Out are: Massa, Alonso, Button, Grosjean, Ericsson, and Nasr.
  • Q3…
  • …12 minutes.
  • …9 cars remain.
  • …The end result of this session will make up Sunday’s starting grid.
  • I was about to note that the track was looking quite dry.
  • …Then, Perez hit one of those wet spots and had a micro moment.
  • …And, Kvyat does a bit of yard work.
  • …Both were able to make drama-free saves.
  • …Anyway, so, yeah, it’s (still) not (completely) dry.
  • Everyone pits.
  • No pressure.
  • …Said with one eye bugging out more than the other.
  • …Bulging with the panting.
  • So many Finnish flags.
  • …They’re just so exotic.
  • …If you missed the drivers’ pre-event press conference…
  • …It was Kimi, Bottas, Magnussen, Ericsson, and Mr Incredible.
  • …My brain exploded.
  • …I’m sure a lot of brains exploded.
  • Thirty seconds remain.
  • Here we go.
  • Flying laps will count.
  • Pole for Rosberg.
  • Ricciardo comes out of the shadows for a surprise second.
  • …It’s safe to assume that the honey badger was hungry and needed a snack.
  • Ferrari fucks up another critical move.
  • …With Kimi taking third, and Vettel taking fourth.
  • Bottas takes fifth.
  • With Kvyat, Perez, Sainz, Verstappen, and Hülkenberg completing the top ten.
  • So, you’re (provisional) grid should look something like this…
  • …Rosberg / Ricciardo
  • …Räikkönen / Vettel
  • …Bottas / Kvyat
  • …Perez / Sainz
  • …Verstappen / Hülkenberg
  • …Massa / Alonso
  • …Button / Grosjean
  • …Ericsson / Nasr
  • …Magnussen / Gutierrez
  • …Palmer / Haryanto
  • …Wehrlein / Hamilton
  • …Give or take any adjustments made for penalties that may pop up.
  • So…
  • …Predictions for tomorrow?
  • …Oh, you know I don’t do that.
  • …However…
  • …Watch for another dynamic start for Ferrari.
  • …Mercedes has had trouble off the line.
  • …And, Red Bull is Red Bull, and all the challenges that entails.
  • …But, I have no idea where it will all go.
  • …From front to back.
  • …I have no idea.
  • …For better and worse, these teams are so evenly matched at this point…
  • …It’s ridiculous.
  • …Everyone is everywhere.
  • …Just when you think someone is lagging, they fly ahead and mingle with the top.
  • …Right now, there’s no midfield or back.
  • …Its all “Gilligan’s Island”.
  • …If you remember your “Gilligan’s Island”, you may recall that, for a while, The Professor and Mary-Ann were listed (in the theme song) as, “…and the rest”.
  • …It’s all a bunch of “and the rest”.
  • …Everyone, and I mean everyone, has a shot at points.
  • …Performance is all relative.
  • …Coming down to incremental “better” and “worse”.
  • …Likewise, at the very top.
  • …It’s whoever slips up more v. less.
  • …Who maximizes opportunities.
  • …Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
  • …Anyone complaining about a lack of excitement or interest in this season should (probably…definitely) just shut up and leave.
  • …And, maybe…certainly, get their head checked by a professional.
  • That said…
  • …I would highly recommend tuning in for the race.
  • …Which will be aired in the US at 12:30am (CT).
  • …On NBCSN.
  • …Do it.
  • …It’s going to be awesome.
  • …Just think of all the drivers who got caught up in that Q2 Red Flag, alone.
  • …Not to mention, the reigning World Champion, starting from the back.
  • …That’s a lot of vengeance and redemption.
  • …A lot of Frogger.
  • …All the way, up and down the grid.
  • …Sold (yet)?
  • …Well, you can lead a horse to water.
  • And, on that note…
  • …Goodnight!