MOTORSPORT /// F1 /// 2017 GRAND PRIX OF AUSTRALIA (24.3.2017 – 26.3.2017) /// UNWANTED COMMENTARY: SHALL WE DO THIS LIVE?…

  • G’day, mates!
  • …Said someone who is Australian, who is not me.
  • Anyway…
  • Hello.
  • Welcome to the 2017 Australian Grand Prix.
  • And, to my first running commentary since…
  • …Last summer?
  • …Long story, short: sometimes, one just needs to step away, and regroup.
  • On that note…
  • Yes, this is the Australian Grand Prix.
  • Which marks the beginning of a new F1 season.
  • With new cars.
  • Using very large tires.
  • These things are goddamn manimals, man.
  • Okay, but, before I start going off on all sorts of weird tangents…
  • …How about a little rundown on today’s race?
  • …Which is airing (in the US) on NBCSN.
  • The 2017 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.
  • …Which is held at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit (Albert Park).
  • …Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  • …It is a street circuit.
  • …Subject to all that street circuit messiness.
  • …3.295 miles (5.303km) in length.
  • …16 turns.
  • …Run clockwise.
  • …With 58 laps scheduled for today’s race.
  • …Which will bring the total distance travelled to 191.118mi (307.574km).
  • …Should each driver complete the task at hand.
  • …Because, you know, it’s F1.
  • …Shit can, and will, happen.
  • …For example, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo has stopped on track.
  • …Before cars have even lined up on the grid.
  • …Today’s tire choices are Ultra Softs (purple), Super Softs (red), and Softs (yellow).
  • …With wet-weather Intermediates (green) and Rains (blue) available (if needed).
  • …However, it appears to be a free-and-clear sunny and 80F in Melbourne.
  • …So, drivers should (only) have to worry about using two of those three (dry) options.
  • Holy shit, Ricciardo is out.
  • …The dude cannot catch a break at his home race.
  • …But, that’s how home races tend to work, isn’t it?
  • …Brutal, just brutal.
  • That said, here is your starting grid…
  • …#44 Lewis Hamilton (GBR / Mercedes) / #5 Sebastian Vettel (DEU / Ferrari)
  • …#77 Valtteri Bottas (FIN / Mercedes) / #7 Kimi Räikkönen (FIN / Ferrari)
  • …#33 Max Verstappen (NLD / Red Bull) / #8 Romain Grosjean (FRA / Haas)
  • …#19 Felipe Massa (BRA / Williams) / #55 Carlos Sainz (ESP / Toro Rosso)
  • …#26 Daniil Kvyat (RUS / Toro Rosso) / #11 Sergio Perez (MEX / Force India)
  • …#27 Nico Hülkenberg (DEU / Renault) / #14 Fernando Alonso (ESP / McLaren)
  • …#31 Esteban Ocon (FRA / Force India) / #9 Marcus Ericsson (SWE / Sauber)
  • …#3 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS / Red Bull)* / #36 Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA / Sauber)**
  • …#20 Kevin Magnussen (DNK / Haas) / #2 Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL / McLaren)
  • …#30 Jolyon Palmer (GBR / Renault) / #18 Lance Stroll (CAN / Williams)***
  • …*Ricciardo qualified 10th, but an unscheduled gearbox change (following a Q3 crash) gives him a five-place grid penalty.
  • …**Giovinazzi (Ferrari/Sauber reserve) fills in for Pascal Wehrlein, who has withdrawn due to a lack of appropriate fitness (stemming from a back injury sustained at Race of Champions).
  • …***Stroll qualified 19th, but was (also) given a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change (which was required after a Practice 3 crash).
  • And, if you’re wondering how 2016 looked…
  • …Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg (DEU) took the first win of his pre-retirement Championship season.
  • …Followed by Hamilton (in second).
  • …And, Vettel in third.
  • Aaannnddd, we have an aborted start.
  • …Because, it’s Australia.
  • …This will bring the competitive laps (down) to 57.
  • …(By the way.)
  • Should we try this (again)?
  • Sure!
  • Hamilton speeds away.
  • Ericsson and Magnussen are off!
  • …Goddammit, why can’t Swedes and Danes just get along?
  • …Both are (back) on track.
  • …Magnussen has radioed-in with a puncture.
  • …He’s listed as pitted.
  • …Consider this a warning, unruly Vikings.
  • Hey!
  • …Ricciardo has been released from the Red Bull garage!
  • …And, there was much rejoicing!
  • …(Seriously, the fans went nuts.)
  • Vandoorne is radioing, “My dash is not working.”
  • …Well, that’s nice.
  • …Happy birthday to you.
  • Fastest lap for Vettel.
  • …This was Ferrari’s first front-row start in over a year.
  • …Fun fact.
  • Stroll is in 14th, and Giovinazzi is in 17th.
  • …If you’re wondering how the rookiedookiedos are rookiedookiedoing.
  • …However, the 18-year-old Canadian has just pitted.
  • …(Stroll.)
  • At Lap 10…
  • …Hamilton, Vettel, Bottas, and Räikkönen lead.
  • …Verstappen, Massa, Grosjean, Sainz, Perez, and Kvyat round-out the top 10.
  • Vandoorne pits for technical assistance.
  • …Which he gets, and he’s (back) on track.
  • Hamilton makes a call with tire concerns.
  • …But, nothing panicky.
  • …So, don’t moisten yourself with worry/excitement.
  • Stroll and Giovinazzi are in their own race.
  • …Back-and-forth, back-and-forth.
  • …Which is (actually) great for the two rookies.
  • …Some solid experience as (pretty) even competitors.
  • …With Giovinazzi in the lead.
  • …In the Sauber.
  • …With the old engine.
  • …On one day’s notice.
  • Uh oh…
  • …Grosjean has pulled into pitlane in a cloud.
  • …Yep, he’s out of the car.
  • …Game over.
  • …After Haas’ best grid start to date.
  • …But, I mean, this is (only) their second year.
  • …And, you know, it’s Australia.
  • …No worries, guys.
  • Palmer is radioing with frustrated growling.
  • Hamilton pits.
  • …And, out.
  • …But, he’ll have to work his way (back) up.
  • …Coming out in fifth.
  • Palmer pits.
  • …And, he’s out of the car.
  • …Another casualty of the season opener.
  • At Lap 22…
  • …Vettel, Bottas, Räikkönen, and Verstappen lead.
  • …With Hamilton, Kvyat, Massa, Perez, Sainz, and Alonso in the top-ten.
  • Hamilton radios, “There’s no way I can get past this guy.”
  • …The guy in question being Verstappen.
  • …Who, in turn, has radioed concerns with his rear tires.
  • Vettel pits.
  • …Finally.
  • …3-second stop.
  • …He comes out right ahead of Verstappen.
  • …Like, RIGHT ahead.
  • Yellow Flag.
  • …Aaannnddd, it’s for Ericsson.
  • …Who has pulled off track (and, is out of the car).
  • …Not a great weekend for Sauber.
  • …But, a very promising one.
  • …They’re on track for a decent season.
  • Whoa, okay, Toto.
  • …A shot of Mercedes’ boss, Toto Wolff, banging his fist down.
  • …Settle down, Herman Munster; you don’t want to smash any coffee tables.
  • …(He’s very large.)
  • …(One of my favorite Herman Munster incidents was when he smashed a waiting room coffee table, panicked, and kept making it worse, until he fled the scene.)
  • At Lap 28…
  • …Vettel, Hamilton, Bottas, and Räikkönen lead.
  • …With Verstappen, Kvyat, Massa, Perez, Sainz, and Alonso in the top ten.
  • Yellow Flag.
  • …It’s Ricciardo.
  • …He fought fate, but fate caught up with him.
  • …The curse of the home event.
  • …”Let’s get the fuck outta here.”, radios a completely dejected Ricciardo.
  • …Okay, so, he had that gearbox change.
  • …What stopped him (earlier) was being stuck in gear.
  • …What ended his race was a couple loud clunks.
  • …So…I guess the replacement gearbox was just a lemon.
  • …Whatever the case, the smiley Aussie isn’t very smiley at the moment.
  • …Joining fellow serial smiler, Grosjean, in getting a jump on the next round.
  • So, four down.
  • …16 remain.
  • …Which is (still) a pretty high number for the Australian Grand Prix.
  • …And, everyone started.
  • …So, that’s a huge positive.
  • Hamilton is told he may have to stretch out his tires.
  • …The Caramello strategy.
  • …”Streeetch it out-out-out / Caramello…”
  • …Mmm…Caramello.
  • …(Are they still sold?  You know what?  It’s best that I don’t know.)
  • If you’re wondering why Grosjean and Ricciardo look so sad, and Ferrari is showing up Mercedes…
  • …Might I suggest looking up “water, going down drains, in the Southern Hemisphere”?
  • …(It goes straight down on the Equator.  FYI.)
  • At Lap 42…
  • …Vettel, Hamilton, Bottas, and Räikkönen lead.
  • …Verstappen, Massa, Perez, Sainz, Kvyat, and Alonso round-out the top ten.
  • …Ocon, Hülkenberg, Giovinazzi, Stroll, Vandoorne, and Magnussen complete the set.
  • …And, Grosjean, Palmer, Ericsson, and Ricciardo have retired.
  • Aw…
  • …Williams have called Stoll in.
  • …An early end to a pretty darn good debut race.
  • …(Brake failure is reported to be the culprit.)
  • Hamilton radios with more concerns.
  • Note that their voices are shakier in these cars.
  • …If you watch the onboards, you’ll see quite a bit of wrestling with the steering wheels.
  • …Seriously, these things are vicious manimals.
  • At Lap 47…
  • …Vettel, Hamilton, Bottas, and Räikkönen (still) lead.
  • …With Verstappen, Massa, Perez, Kvyat, Sainz, and Alonso in the points.
  • …And, Ocon, The Incredible Hülkenberg, Giovinazzi, Vandoorne, and Magnussen (still) in it.
  • …Yes, Magnussen is (still) going.
  • Never mind.
  • …Yellow Flag.
  • …Magnussen has parked his Haas just off track.
  • …Not a great opener for Haas.
  • …But, not the end of the world.
  • …Suspension failure.
  • Oh!
  • …Conga line!
  • …Hülkenberg on Ocon on Alonso.
  • …For the final point.
  • …They’re (all) alongside one another!
  • …Ocon wins.
  • …Mr. Incredible follows.
  • Alonso has radioed with suspected suspension damage.
  • …He pits.
  • …He’s out.
  • Did Toro Rosso just call Sainz a “manimal”?
  • …Oh, okay, “…push like an animal”.
  • …That would make more sense.
  • …I guess.
  • Lap 56.
  • …You know what that means.
  • …I have to pee.
  • Verstappen: “How much faster is the fastest lap?”
  • …Red Bull: “Too fast.”
  • Bottas takes fastest lap.
  • Kimi yoinks fastest lap (from Bottas).
  • Final lap.
  • Vettel wins!!!!!!!
  • Hamilton and Bottas complete the podium.
  • …In Bottas’ Mercedes’ debut.
  • Räikkönen and Verstappen round-out the top five.
  • Massa, Perez, Sainz, Kvyat, and Ocon take points.
  • …Ocon’s first F1 point.
  • And, Hülkenberg, Giovinazzi, and Vandoorne complete the task.
  • …Hülkenberg’s first race with Renault, Giovinazzi’s first F1 race, and Vandoorne’s first Australian Grand Prix.
  • …In case you were mistaking not getting points for a loss.
  • Holy shit!
  • …Fans are on track!
  • …Like, cars are dodging crowds.
  • …Not okay, people.
  • …Not cool.
  • Vettel cannot stop jumping on his team.
  • …And…dancing?
  • …After speaking an enormous amount of Italian.
  • …Because, that’s how Svettel rolls.
  • Podium time.
  • Man, Italians love to yell along to their national anthem.
  • …Not a criticism, or complaint, just an observation.
  • In Finnish style, Bottas chugs the champagne before he sprays it.
  • Conducting the podium interviews…
  • …Mark Webber.
  • …For maximum accent effect.
  • Bottas.  Nordic.
  • …Give them a win, and they’ll dwell on the weakness of the margin.
  • …And, go team.
  • Okay.  Well.  That’s that.
  • Here are your first Drivers’ Championship standings of the 2017 season…
  • …VET 25 / HAM 18 / BOT 15 / RÄI 12 / VER 10
  • …MAS 8 / PER 6 / SAI 4 / KVY 2 / OCO 1
  • And, here are your first Constructors’ Championship standings of the 2017 season…
  • …Ferrari 37 / Mercedes 33 / Red Bull 10
  • …Williams 8 / Force India 7 / Toro Rosso 6
  • Right.
  • Cool.
  • Next up…
  • …China.
  • …Which kicks off (with P1/2) Friday, April 7th.
  • …But, like Australia, check your locals.
  • …I believe the action starts late Thursday night (in my part of the world).
  • …Anyway, always check your locals.
  • …Always.
  • Yep.
  • Goodnight!
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