MOTORSPORT /// F1 /// 2017 GRAND PRIX OF CHINA (7.4.2017 – 9.4.2017) /// UNWANTED COMMENTARY: SHALL WE DO THIS LIVE?…

  • Good evening.
  • …(In the tone of George Hamilton, as Count Dracula, rising from his coffin at a Harlem funeral, in ‘Love at First Bite’.)
  • Hey, so, what could possibly keep a not-so-night owl (like me) up, past midnight…
  • …Watching NBCSN?
  • The Chinese Grand Prix.
  • That’s what.
  • Yes, yes, yes.
  • The 2017 Formula 1 Heineken Chinese Grand Prix.
  • …At the Shanghai International Circuit.
  • …In Jiading, Shanghai, (you guessed it – hopefully) China.
  • …3.387mi (5.451km) in length.
  • …Shaped like a boxing bunny.
  • …(Happy early Easter.)
  • …With 16 turns.
  • …Run clockwise.
  • …For 56 laps.
  • …Which will bring the goal total distance travelled to 189.559mi (305.066km).
  • …Give or take some distance.
  • …Offs, weather delays, other delays, the usual ‘anything can, and will, happen in F1’ stuff.
  • Weather-wise (today, in Shanghai)…
  • …I am seeing 54F.
  • …With some rain.
  • …Which looks to (pretty much) clear out for the race.
  • …But, will continue to threaten.
  • …And, if you’ve been keeping up with this weekend’s action, you’ll recall that it wasn’t the rain that cancelled FP2 (and halted most of FP1).
  • …It was the (related) fog, that grounded the medical helicopter.
  • …The fog at the nearest hospital, not around the track.
  • …So, there are a few variables threatening to intersect today.
  • …Oh, and, if you’re wondering why action would be halted because of a helicopter, being unable to land at the local hospital…
  • …Safety first.
  • …Any car in motion holds potential for a bad crash.
  • …A grounded medical helicopter could prove fatal.
  • …I know.
  • …Logistics, man.
  • Anyhoo…
  • Tires.
  • …Each car will be using tires (today).
  • …(Yyyaaayyy.)
  • …And, today’s options are Super Softs (red), Softs (yellow), and Mediums (white).
  • …With wet-weather Intermediates (green) and Rains (blue) available as needed.
  • Last year, the podium looked a little/lot/exactly like this…
  • …Nico Rosberg-DEU-Mercedes
  • …Sebastian Vettel-DEU-Ferrari
  • …Daniil Kvyat-RUS-Red Bull
  • How about today’s starting grid?
  • …(With 2016 results in parentheses.)
  • …#44 Lewis Hamilton-GBR-Mercedes (7) /// #5 Sebastian Vettel-DEU-Ferrari (2)
  • …#77 Valtteri Bottas-FIN-Mercedes (10/Williams) /// #7 Kimi Räikkönen-FIN-Ferrari (5)
  • …#3 Daniel Ricciardo-AUS-Red Bull (4) /// #19 Felipe Massa-BRA-Williams (6)
  • …#27 Nico Hülkenberg-DEU-Renault (15/Force India) /// #11 Sergio Perez-MEX-Force India (11)
  • …#26 Daniil Kvyat-RUS-Toro Rosso (3/Red Bull) /// #18 Lance Stroll-CAN-Williams (N/A)
  • …#55 Carlos Sainz-ESP-Toro Rosso (9) /// #20 Kevin Magnussen-DNK-Haas (18/Renault)
  • …#14 Fernando Alonso-ESP-McLaren (12) /// #9 Marcus Ericsson-SWE-Sauber (16)
  • …#36 Antonio Giovinazzi-ITA-Sauber (N/A) /// #2 Stoffel Vandoorne-BEL-McLaren (N/A)
  • …#33 Max Verstappen-NLD-Red Bull (8/Toro Rosso) /// #31 Esteban Ocon-FRA-Force India (N/A)
  • …#8 Romain Grosjean-FRA-Haas* (19) /// #30 Jolyon Palmer-GBR-Renault* (22)
  • …*Qualified 13th/14th (respectively), given 5-place penalties for failing to slow under a Yellow Flag (at the end of Q1; Giovinazzi’s late-session crash).
  • …And, if you didn’t catch it, Giovinazzi -is- filling in for Pascal Wehrlein (again).
  • …Again, these new cars are goddamn manimals, requiring a massive amount of upper body training (relative to past seasons).
  • …Due to a back injury (sustained at Race of Champions), Wehrlein’s fitness level hasn’t (quite) caught up with the rest of the field.
  • Okay.
  • Man, I hope I got everything right-ish.
  • Too late now.
  • Here we go!
  • The track is drying, but not dry.
  • The cars blast on through a cloud of spray.
  • …Like it’s some goddamn 1980s hard rock show.
  • Stroll of off.
  • …And, beach bummin’.
  • P.S. Giovinazzi -was- slapped with a five-place penalty.
  • …(Late, unscheduled gearbox change.)
  • …Which started him in 18th.
  • …Adjust everyone/thing accordingly.
  • A Virtual Safety Car has been enacted.
  • On replay, it was a bad touch with Perez that put the Canadian in the kitty litter.
  • …Man, if that isn’t a visual summary of North America right now.
  • Palmer spins off, but returns.
  • …Because of the whole British comeback thing.
  • …I guess.
  • Dude!
  • Giovinazzi’s just had a rather large crash.
  • …After a bit of a sit, he gets out.
  • …And, the crowd goes wild.
  • …This is just not his weekend.
  • …But, you know, weird as two crashes are, let’s not hold this against him.
  • …Remember, he stepped in on last-minute short notice.
  • …This is (only) his second F1 race.
  • …In tricky conditions.
  • …Feel bad for Sauber, but hold the rage.
  • Obviously-ish, the Safety Car has been deployed.
  • …Which means pitting for new tires.
  • …Before re-joining the sweet parade.
  • At Lap 6…
  • …Hamilton, Ricciardo, Raäikkönen, and Verstappen lead.
  • …With Bottas, Vettel, Alonso, Sainz, Kvyat, and Massa in the top ten.
  • …And, Perez, Magnussen, Ocon, Palmer, Vandoorne, Hülkenberg, Ericsson, and Grosjean completing the remaining field.
  • Kimi has angry-drunken-pirate-shouted that it’s (still) very wet on the main.
  • As Bottas spins.
  • …Behind the Safety Car.
  • …Well, you don’t see that every day.
  • Right.
  • Back to speed.
  • Oh, and, yes, sure…
  • …Verstappen just starts whipping around everyone.
  • …Because, he’s a goddamn animal in the wet.
  • Kimi: “I DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO MY ENGINE; I HAVE NO TORQUE”.
  • Perez and Stroll were under investigation.
  • …But, are no longer.
  • …(It was declared the racing incident that it appeared to be.)
  • Kimi goes as wide as a car can go, without setting a wheel off track.
  • …As Vettel moves scarily close.
  • …(But, all ends well and good.)
  • Verstappen is (still) just flying past everyone.
  • …And, oddly enough, their mothers.
  • At Lap 12…
  • …Hamilton, Verstappen, Ricciardo, and Räikkönen lead.
  • …With Vettel, Sainz, Alonso, Perez, Magnussen, and Bottas in the top ten.
  • …And, Kvyat, Ocon, Hülkenberg, Massa, Vandoorne, Palmer, Grosjean, and Ericsson (still) in it.
  • The Incredible Hülkenberg and the Super Swede are under investigation for overtaking under a Yellow Flag.
  • …Over/under.
  • …Sure.
  • Ricciardo radios with understeer woes.
  • …Can I even use “woes” in regard to Happy-Pants Ricciardo?
  • Five-second penalty for Mr. Incredible.
  • …For overtaking the longship.
  • Kimi, yelling, “What the hell…?!” (over the radio) has clinched a race highlight spot (for me).
  • …His weird torque issues continue.
  • …He’s right on Ricciardo.
  • …Like, right on.
  • …So, I’m going to guess that he’s lacking the power to make the (otherwise easy) overtake happen.
  • …That’s lame.
  • …I wonder why Vettel remains right behind Kimi.
  • …Is the #5 car experiencing issues (as well)?
  • McLaren pulls Vandoorne’s car into the garage.
  • …Yes, with the driver.
  • Bottas passes Magnussen.
  • …Is a real sentence.
  • There’s a Toro Rosso, peeking out from behind a tire wall.
  • …And, Kvyat is showing as stopped.
  • …So, I’m going to put two and two together.
  • …They’re going to fuck a little, before concluding that Kvyat is out.
  • Vettel passes Räikkönen.
  • …In a rather slow, weird transaction.
  • And, now, Kimi’s right on Vettel.
  • …So…
  • …They’re just synchronized prancing?
  • Vettel goes in for the pass (on Ricciardo).
  • …Ooo!
  • …Too close!
  • …Bad touch!
  • …Svettel gets by.
  • …Both mosey on like it ain’t no thang.
  • Wait.
  • …Why is Kimi right on Ricciardo?
  • …What the hell -is- going on with that car?
  • …I mean, give Kimi a riding lawnmower, and he won’t even notice.
  • …But, there’s some weird shit going on (there).
  • At Lap 24…
  • …Hamilton, Verstappen, Vettel, and Ricciardo lead.
  • …Räikkönen, Sainz, Alonso, Bottas, Magnussen, and Perez round-out the top ten.
  • …And, Ocon, Hülkenberg, Massa, Palmer, Grosjean, and Ericsson are (still) very much in it.
  • …Unlike Stroll, Giovinazzi, Vandoorne, and Kvyat.
  • …Who are quite out.
  • Kimi radios, wondering if they “really” think the tires are going to last to the end.
  • …”Because, it doesn’t feel like it.” (in a weird, demeaning almost sing-song-y tone.)
  • …Kimi always wins at radio transmissions.
  • Alonso radios, wondering about the damage to Bottas’ car.
  • …Because, what the hell is that combination doing back there?
  • Palmer radios with tire concerns.
  • Okay, clearly, the track is eating tires faster than expected.
  • …Shall we alter the plan?
  • Something has gone wonky with Verstappen’s car.
  • …He keeps running wide and wobbly.
  • …Red Bull calls him in.
  • …He says he can carry on, but a tire feels off.
  • Verstappen pits.
  • …2.6 seconds.
  • …They just did a simple tire change.
  • …So, it seems it -was- just the front-left tire that was icky.
  • …Cool.
  • …He re-enters in sixth, behind Bottas.
  • At Lap 32…
  • …Hamilton, Vettel, Ricciardo, and Räikkönen (now) lead.
  • …With Bottas, Verstappen, Alonso, Sainz, Magnussen, and Perez in the points.
  • …And, Ocon, Hülkenberg, Grosjean, Massa, Ericsson, and Palmer (still) ready for anything.
  • Verstappen passes Bottas.
  • …Clearly, there’s something wrong with that Mercedes.
  • More shouting from Kimi.
  • …Same great tire issues.
  • …Now, with more swearing.
  • Alonso goes wide.
  • …Allowing Sainz to fly right past.
  • …I mean, now is (about) the time his McLaren likes to start losing the will to live.
  • …If anyone else as noticed this.
  • Ah, yes.
  • …There we go.
  • …Alonso’s car has died.
  • …It’s like they just don’t have enough power (in them) to last the entire race.
  • …McLaren’s Honda engine is everyone else’s tires.
  • Both Mercedes kids pit.
  • Man, Alonso, walking down the pitlane, back to the garage, is just sad.
  • …Cue “The Lonely Man” (the theme to “The Incredible Hulk”).
  • …Really, he looks sad.
  • …Good job, guys; you sucked the life out of Alonso.
  • Kimi has pitted.
  • …Yeah.
  • …Good idea.
  • …(Jesus.  Seriously.)
  • RAI passes SAI.
  • …For fifth.
  • At Lap 43…
  • …Hamilton, Vettel, Verstappen, and Ricciardo lead.
  • …With Räikkönen, Sainz, Bottas, Perez, Magnussen, and Massa in the points.
  • …And, Ocon, Grosjean, Hülkenberg, Palmer, and Ericsson (still) rollin’ hard.
  • …Stroll, Giovinazzi, Vandoorne, Kvyat, and Alonso remain quite out.
  • Bottas passes Sainz.
  • Ocon passes Massa.
  • …For that final point.
  • …The kid’s got moves.
  • Apparently, Mercedes is (still) on a learning curve…
  • …Calling Bottas, “Nico”.
  • …But, okay.
  • Magnussen passes Perez.
  • …For eighth.
  • …Fun fact: Kevin Magnussen’s Dad, Jan (who you may know from 24 Hours of Le Mans, etc), is cool.
  • …A long while back, Magnussen posted (to Instagram) that people should follow his dad, “…because he’s cool”.
  • …And, that’s all I can think of (now).
  • Verstappen just radioed a request to get Grosjean to move over.
  • …It was so polite.
  • …I (almost) didn’t understand the request.
  • …The usual call (from everyone) involves screaming and name-calling.
  • …Now, he’s put in a second call, with very slight agitation.
  • …Feeling that it’s having an effect on his car’s performance.
  • …However, he has to be within a second of him.
  • …Which he isn’t.
  • …The aerial shot shows a quite substantial gap, actually.
  • Ricciardo is riding his teenage teammate.
  • …Which I think is what is causing Verstappen to panic a bit.
  • Hamilton wins.
  • …His fifth win in China.
  • Vettel and Verstappen will join him on the podium.
  • …Verstappen, just a reminder, started from 16th.
  • Ricciardo and Räikkönen are (both) hampered by tired tires, but round-out the top five.
  • Bottas, Sainz, Magnussen, Perez, and Ocon take points.
  • And, Grosjean, Hülkenberg, Palmer, Massa, and Ericsson survive the brutality.
  • …Recall where Grosjean and Palmer started, by the way.
  • …Not bad, guys; not bad.
  • Verstappen and Vettel are hanging out.
  • …As if they’ve never exchanged road rage-y hand gestures.
  • …Cool.
  • So, there’s your podium.
  • …Thirties, twenties, teens.
  • I just looked at Hamilton and Vettel, spraying one another (with champagne), and said, “They have so many trophies.”.
  • …It’s so far past my bedtimething.
  • Verstappen just stopped Hamilton (in the middle of his podium interview), to point out that he always calls him “this guy”.
  • …I mean, I suppose we should be treating Hashtag Teen with the respect that he’s entitled to.
  • …(Yes, ‘Mommie Dearest’ reference.)
  • …I guess I never thought of it (before), but Hamilton -does- call people “this guy” a lot, doesn’t he?
  • …Anyhoo, I (actually) laughed aloud.
  • New game…
  • …Vettel, smiling:
  • …Happy, or plotting?
  • Hamilton just called Verstappen “this guy” (again).
  • …Dude.
  • …Is this how meetings at Mercedes roll?
  • …I enjoyed the collective physical reaction to it.
  • …Everyone (up there) slumped a little.
  • …I (also) like that it’s serial killer-like de-personalization.
  • …”It rubs the lotion on the skin, or else it gets the hose (again).”
  • Oh, good…
  • …Bottas is going to spend the week, beating himself up.
  • …Excellent.
  • …Party.
  • …And, on top of it, they called him “Nico”.
  • …So, bad days…
  • …They happen.
  • …Nordics…
  • …They, too, happen.
  • …Hard.
  • Speaking of…
  • …Kimi.
  • …Who sounds like he has a similar party planned.
  • …Awesome.
  • …That’s how I spend my time, too.
  • …Like Betty Draper said, in response to being called out on looking so sad, “My people are Nordic”.
  • Bottas and Räikkönen should just know that Vettel loves them.
  • …Find someone who looks at you the way Vettel looked at Bottas, at yesterday’s post-Qualifying press conference, while he was explaining how close they qualified.
  • …Vettel loves Finns.
  • …One of my all-time favorite stories is when Vettel ran into Juho Hänninen in the bathroom (at an FIA Prom), and Hänninen started going off on all sorts of random shit, before requesting death.
  • …YouTube it (the story, not the encounter; that would be…disturbing).
  • …And, F1 posted the press conference photo to their Twitter account.
  • …The dude loves Finns.  Hard.
  • Sainz, smiling uncontrollably…
  • …”…Suddenly, I’m not so stupid anymore…”
  • …Can I have some more of that enthusiasm, please?
  • …Love.  It.
  • Okay.
  • Well, that’s that for China.
  • Drivers’ Championship standings…
  • …Vettel – 43 / Hamilton – 43 / Verstappen – 25 / Bottas – 23
  • …Räikkönen – 22 / Ricciardo – 12 / Sainz – 10 / Massa – 8
  • …Perez – 8 / Magnussen – 4
  • Constructors’ Championship standings…
  • …Mercedes – 66 / Ferrari – 65 / Red Bull – 37 / Toro Rosso – 12
  • …Force India – 10 / Williams – 8 / Haas – 4
  • Next up…
  • …Bahrain.
  • …Which is next weekend.
  • So…
  • …See you then.
  • …You guys.
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