MOTORSPORT /// F1 /// 2017 GRAND PRIX OF RUSSIA (28.4.2017 – 30.4.2017) /// UNWANTED COMMENTARY: SHALL WE DO THIS LIVE?…

  • Good morning!
  • It’s…
  • …Time…
  • …For…
  • …The…
  • …Russian…
  • …Grand…
  • …Prix!
  • See what I did there?
  • …A little homage to one of the most awesome pieces of kitsch in the universe.
  • …Matryoshka dolls.
  • …Also known as Russian nesting dolls.
  • …Who loves them?
  • …I love them!
  • Bygones.
  • Let’s do this.
  • The 2017 Formula 1 VTB Russian Grand Prix…
  • …Which is being broadcast live (in the US) on NBCSN.
  • …After soccer conflicts, kicking earlier action over to CNBC.
  • …Anyhoo…
  • …The Sochi Autodrom…
  • …Which is a street circuit.
  • …Something worth a reminder, as, unlike most street circuits, it’s very wide.
  • …Lined with palm trees…
  • …And, situated between the (absurdly scenic) Caucasus Mountains and Black sea.
  • …Taking drivers around the old Winter Olympics complex.
  • …For 3.634mi (5.848km)…
  • …Around 18 turns…
  • …(Run clockwise)…
  • …Over 53 laps…
  • …Which will bring the total distance goal to 192.467mi (309.745km).
  • …And, if you’re wondering about that wording…
  • …It’s because this is F1…
  • …Anything can happen…
  • …And, most of it will.
  • Today’s tire choices are Ultrasofts (purple), Supersofts (red), and Softs (yellow).
  • …With Intermediates (green) and Rains (blue) always available, should the weather turn.
  • …Which it’s not looking to (today).
  • …As it is 74F and sunny, with light 7mph winds (in Sochi).
  • …(Add 12000 degrees for the track temperature).
  • Last year, the podium looked like this…
  • …1 – Nico Rosberg (DEU) – Mercedes
  • …2 – Lewis Hamilton (GBR) – Mercedes
  • …3 – Kimi Räikkönen (FIN) – Ferrari
  • …With Bottas, Massa, Alonso, Magnussen (with Renault), Grosjean, Perez, Jenson Button (McLaren), Ricciardo, Sainz, Palmer, Ericsson, Kvyat (with Red Bull), Felipe Nasr (Sauber), Esteban Gutierrez (Haas), Wehrlein (Manor) rounding out the fortunate finishers.
  • …And, Rio Haryanto (Manor), Hülkenberg (with Force India), Vettel, and Verstappen (with Toro Rosso) coming up a little less fortunate.
  • And, this year, the grid looks like this…
  • …Sebastian Vettel (DEU) – Ferrari / Kimi Räikkönen (FIN) – Ferrari
  • …Valtteri Bottas (FIN) – Mercedes / Lewis Hamilton (GBR) – Mercedes
  • …Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) – Red Bull / Felipe Massa (BRA) – Williams
  • …Max Verstappen (NLD) – Red Bull / Nico Hülkenberg (DEU) – Renault
  • …Sergio Perez (MEX) – Force India / Esteban Ocon (FRA) – Force India
  • …Lance Stroll (CAN) – Williams / Daniil Kvyat (RUS) – Toro Rosso
  • …Kevin Magnussen (DNK) – Haas / Carlos Sainz, Jr. (ESP) – Toro Rosso*
  • …Fernando Alonso (ESP) – McLaren / Jolyon Palmer (GBR) – Renault
  • …Pascal Wehrlein (DEU) – Sauber / Marcus Ericsson (SWE) – Sauber
  • …Romain Grosjean (FRA) – Haas / Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) – McLaren**
  • …*Sainz Quaified 11th, but is serving a three-place penalty (for causing a collision with Stroll, in Bahrain)
  • …**Vandoorne Qualified 17th, but is serving a (silly as fuck) 15-place penalty (for a power unit swap – yes, already)
  • Aborted start.
  • …Alonso’s McLaren has died.
  • …Already, yes.
  • …He’s not happy.
  • …Not much to say about that, is there?
  • Here we go!
  • Bottas shoots to the front!
  • Oh!
  • Stuff!
  • Stroll’s been spun around!
  • …Yes, again.
  • …Stop hitting him, everyone!  Oh, my god!
  • Oh!
  • Grosjean’s crashed!
  • With Palmer?!
  • That looked icky.
  • They’re (both) okay.
  • …But, that’s a lot of debris.
  • On replay…
  • …Grosjean nailed the inside rumbles a bit too hard…
  • …Nailed Palmer…
  • …Turning the Renault (back) into the Haas…
  • …And, sending them (both) flying.
  • And, it was The Incredible Hülkenberg who spun Stroll.
  • …(Who was able to keep going.)
  • …(It was a Ferris Bueller, “I didn’t hit you, I lightly slapped you” thing.)
  • If you’re wondering how Bottas shot to the front…
  • …Bottas has (always) been freakishly good at starts.
  • …It was (only) a matter of time before he figured out that Mercedes…
  • …And, got a solid reading on the starts of those three World Champions surrounding him.
  • Ricciardo is having issues with his right-rear wheel.
  • …He’s puttering around…
  • …Blessing the track with his grey pixie dust.
  • …They’re calling him in…
  • …They’re hosing the right-rear with an extinguisher.
  • …Yep, they’re calling it.
  • …That’s just not right.
  • …So, I guess Massa and Verstappen are free of that apartment challenge.
  • …If you missed it, Ricciardo challenged those two, who live in the same building (in Monaco), but in much bigger units, to a trade – the one finishing last having to live in Ricciardo’s place.
  • …Which…what’s going on, there?
  • …Is he just kept in a cage, in a broom closet, between races?
  • …Anyway, they’re in the clear.
  • Okay, so, at Lap 8 (of 52, because of that false start)…
  • …It’s Bottas, Vettel, Räikkönen, and Hamilton on top.
  • …With Verstappen, Massa, Perez, Ocon, Hülkenberg, and Magnussen running in the top 10.
  • …And, Sainz, Kvyat, Stroll, Vandoorne, Wehrlein, and Ericsson (still) very much in it.
  • Race control has slapped Magnussen with a five-second penalty (for Lap 1 shenanigans).
  • …Haas has instructed him to “settle down”, that he’s doing well and they’ll figure it out.
  • Meanwhile, Vettel has radioed with concern over Bottas’ freak-ass, gigantic lead.
  • …(Seriously, the gap is going between 3.5 and 4 seconds.)
  • …Just wondering if there’s any untapped power to be extracted.
  • A little chat with Alonso…
  • …Who has recovered, and is (now) smiling, laughing, and moving forward.
  • …Because, you don’t have a career that long by being a total turd.
  • …You’d be flushed quite quickly.
  • …Either by people, not wanting to work with you, or by your (own) stress.
  • Hamilton is having a little freak-out.
  • …Radioing concerns with overheating.
  • …Saying that “he’s out of the race”.
  • …They’ve assured him that it’s an issue up and down the grid.
  • …Which, it appears to be.
  • The Bottas/Vettel gap has been exceeding 4.5, by the way.
  • …Room for more “t”s, if you’d like.
  • …Mr. T, maybe.
  • …They should put Mr. T out there.
  • …I pity the foo’ who doesn’t.
  • Hamilton’s caged animal radio calls continue.
  • …Toto (Wolff) and Niki (Lauda) should get on the radio and tell Lewis that there’s no problem…
  • …That “it’s just because you’re so hot”.
  • …It’s worth a shot.
  • …SO worth a shot.
  • …(For my personal amusement.)
  • The Bottas/Vettel gap has been between 5 and 5.5+.
  • …So much room for Mr. T.
  • …Seriously, though.
  • …It looks like that time Sébastien Loeb waltzed on into the X-Games, was so far ahead that the camera lost him, and waltzed on out with a win.
  • …Almost.
  • …I mean, that was ridiculous.
  • …Ridiculous/how Loeb rolls.
  • At Lap 22, there’s a bit of pitting.
  • …Teams are pretty much on the same, one-stop, strategy.
  • So…
  • …Sauber’s going to Honda engines (next season), eh?
  • …My initial reaction (to hearing that) was, well, recoiling in horror.
  • …However, hearing that they’ve been using engines that have been incompatible with their designs, and that Honda think they could make their “Laverne & Shirley” dreams come true…
  • …It’s not like they’d see a confuddling performance drop (like with McLaren/Alonso/Button).
  • …They’re more prepared to deal with the downs.
  • …This is where Honda should have reentered.
  • Ocon radios for a stop.
  • …Man, that kid’s been great.
  • …Just going about his business, very quietly, learning the car, being competitive, but playing nice.
  • …And, coming in 10th every race, collecting valuable points.
  • Bottas pits.
  • …It’s good.
  • …He reenters in fourth.
  • Ferrari’s keeping Vettel out.
  • Kimi’s radioing with bad tires.
  • If they’re smart, they’ll have kept Vettel out to get Kimi in.
  • …Then, get Vettel in.
  • Vettel is calling for…
  • …You’ve got it…
  • …Blue Flags.
  • Hamilton pits.
  • Everyone around Vettel has pitted.
  • …Vettel’s tires would be the newest.
  • …Get.  Him.  In.
  • …I know Vettel’s good with tires.
  • …And, yes, I get the strategy (no mansplaining needed – Jane get numbers, Jane have brain).
  • …But, come on.
  • …There’s no need to push it (at this point).
  • At Lap 33…
  • …Vettel, Bottas, Räikkönen, and Hamilton lead.
  • …Verstappen, Hülkenberg, Massa, Perez, Ocon, and Sainz round-out the top ten.
  • …Stroll, Kvyat, Magnussen, Vandoorne, Ericsson, and Wehrlein, remain, sniffing for blood.
  • Ferrari call Vettel to “box”.
  • Ferrari call Vettel to stay out.
  • What the fuck, Ferrari?
  • “Box, now, Sebastian.”
  • Oh, look, they meant it (this time).
  • …A 3.4 stop.
  • …Vettel comes out, just behind Bottas.
  • …(Just ahead of Kimi, filling Bottas’ mirrors with red.)
  • Just a note…
  • …Stroll is running in 11th.
  • …He’s been getting an absurd amount of crap, calls for ditching him, etc.
  • …Despite strong performances…
  • …Prior to other people, running into him, et al.
  • …Honestly, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.
  • …All the time.
  • …Like, seriously, am I watching a (totally) different sport (from everyone else)?
  • …I see a grid of guys, busting their asses, doing their best, in spite of the billion elements they have going against them.
  • …A grid of other drivers.
  • …Having good days, having bad days.
  • …Behind the wheels of cars, full of components that could fail.
  • …All (drivers and cars) having some tracks that just don’t work for what they’re running.
  • …But, I guess I’m just crazy (for giving everyone the benefits of the doubt, for pulling for everyone – usually – I’ll voice concerns and aggravations), eh?
  • The Incredible Hülkenberg pits.
  • …After an incredible 41 laps.
  • At Lap 43…
  • …Bottas, Vettel, Räikkönen, and Hamilton lead.
  • …As Verstappen, Perez, Ocon, Hülkenberg, Massa, and Sainz round-out the top-ten.
  • …And, Stroll, Kvyat, Magnussen, Vandoorne, Ericsson, and Wehrlein hold on.
  • Bottas has (very politely) requested less talking (over the radio).
  • …It’s focus time.
  • …Also, he’s Finnish.
  • The Bottas/Vettel gap is down to 1.74-ish seconds.
  • …+/- fractions.
  • Ferrari has radioed Vettel to put pressure on Bottas.
  • …To, kid you not, if you didn’t hear it, see if he can instigate an error.
  • …I mean, okay.
  • …Yeah.
  • …Anyhoo…
  • There’s Putin.
  • …Who may/may not be the President of the US.
  • …I’m not (entirely) sure how this is working.
  • …Bygones.
  • Verstappen radios with Turn 5 debris.
  • …Always a great thing to hear in the closing laps.
  • …Like, you can just see that little shit causing big chaos at the front.
  • Ooohhh, shit, sir!
  • …Vettel has closed in on Bottas.
  • …He’s lingering +/- 1 second.
  • …Under 1 = DRS free-for-all.
  • …He’s all over Bottas.
  • …They’re hitting major traffic.
  • …If Bottas wants to hold his lead, get his first F1 win…
  • …He HAS to gun it, right here, right now.
  • …And, (all) the slower cars have got to play nice and move over.
  • …Bottas glides by Massa.
  • …Vettel…does not!
  • …Bottas is getting away!
  • …He’s going to do it!
  • …Final turn!
  • BOTTAS WINS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • BOTTAS WINS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • THIS IS NOT A TEST!!!
  • BOTTAS HAS WON THE RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX!!!
  • Once, again, Finland has conquered Russia!
  • …(Yep, had to.)
  • Bottas’ response?
  • …”Fuck me.”, and, “It took long enough”.
  • …With thanks to the entire team.
  • …Because, he’s Valtteri Bottas.
  • …Finn, at large.
  • Oh!  Yes!  Everyone else…
  • …Vettel and Räikkönen will join the podium fun.
  • …So, Vettel get to surround himself with Finns, which is nice.
  • …With Hamilton and Verstappen, completing the top-five.
  • …And, Perez, Ocon, Hülkenberg, Massa, and Sainz, rounding-out the top-ten.
  • …Ocon, improving upon his string of tenth-place finishes.
  • …As Stroll, Kvyat, Magnussen, Vandoorne, Ericsson, and Wehrlein add more positive experience to their resumés.
  • …Yes, Stroll (finally) finished, even surviving a hit.
  • …And, yes, Vandoorne’s McLaren crossed the finish line.
  • People…
  • …Going back to wondering if I’m watching something different, or taking crazy pills…
  • …If you thought that race was boring…
  • …Eh…yeah…I’m just going to say it…
  • …Go fuck yourself.
  • …Seriously.
  • …If you’re bored, it’s you that’s boring.
  • …And, remember, no one’s forcing you to watch.
  • Anyway…
  • NBCSN talk of Kimi, being the hero in Finland (over Bottas).
  • …I need to add that Finns -do- have a thing about more bad-boy types.
  • …They put the Dudesons on a stamp.
  • …Just saying.
  • That is a lot of chatting with Putin.
  • …Remember, last year, when he ignored everyone, and just hung out with Kimi?
  • …He fucking loves Kimi.
  • …This is so weird, given political history.
  • …And, yet, not.
  • …He seems to be enjoying this whole group.
  • …Which works, because, that group enjoys that group, too.
  • …Vettel knows Finns aren’t big on being touched.
  • …But, he just can’t keep his hands off them.
  • …They’re just so precious!
  • Podium…
  • …So, those are two Finnish flags.
  • …And, that is the Finnish national anthem.
  • …Bottas is drinking the shit out of that champagne.
  • …Vettel’s going to help him.
  • …Photo op…
  • …Note that the Finns aren’t too close.
  • …My great-great grandma emigrated from Finland to Sweden.
  • …Because of personal space.
  • …Bygones.
  • …Bottas…
  • …Is Finnish.
  • …The win feels “amazing”, but, let’s review how long it took.
  • …And, go team.
  • …Vettel tosses the focus (back) to Bottas, noting that it’s his day.
  • …The crowd goes wild for Kimi.
  • …As they (always) do.
  • …And, he’s giving them pure, classic Kimi.
  • …Third sucks, but okay; we need to improve.
  • …And, the crowd goes goddamn wild.
  • …As Kimi continues to show off just how much wider he is than everyone (else).
  • …And, Eddie Jordan keeps pressuring Toto to extend Bottas’ (one-year) contract.
  • …An understandable move, given the quick decision, not knowing how he’d respond, etc.
  • …But, he’s responded.
  • …He’s Bottas, behind the wheel of a car on par with his talent.
  • …Who seems to be working very well with Hamilton (another huge concern, after years of toxicity with Rosberg).
  • …So, yeah, let’s extend that shit.
  • Sorry, I was just flipping through Twitter.
  • …So many congrats, coming from so many drivers and teams (Grosjean, Alonso, Renault, everyone).
  • …Like when he got his first pole.
  • …Everyone knows his talent, everyone’s experienced his respectful racing, and he’s made an impact as a decent guy.
  • …So, yeah, people are happy for him.
  • Chat with Massa…
  • …Ha!
  • …I love it!
  • …On the matter of Vettel, struggling to get around him (in that closing lap, in a tricky spot)…
  • …He, first, notes that Vettel has a lot of complaints about a lot of people in those situations.
  • …Then, he mentions that he was never going to catch Bottas, anyway.
  • …Before going on to express just how happy he is for him, and that, having been his teammate, he knows just how capable he is, and that this is just the first of many.
  • …Which crossed my mind – that Massa, coming out of retirement, got to see his junior teammate (finally) get this (first) win.
  • …And, you know what?
  • …Massa rocked it (today), too.
  • …He’s rocked it all season, starting right off the bat (with pre-season testing).
  • …Williams should take note, keep an eye on things, and (if all continues on this path), consider swaying him into a little career extension.
  • …Oh, everyone knows he (only) retired because he was being edged out by new kids.
  • …And, that he (still) had years in him.
  • Grosjean and Palmer are doing some finger pointing.
  • …I’ll help you…
  • …Sorry, Romain, but you went too far in.
  • …However, the main culprit was a racing incident.
  • …Palmer got sandwiched.
  • …And, when Grosjean hit him, the impact turned his car inward.
  • …Then, again, had it gone the other way, Grosjean (probably) would have been caught by the rear.
  • …So, initially caused by Grosjean (as Palmer worded it, just being “too ambitious”).
  • …But, (quickly) spiraling into a crowed racing incident.
  • Lots of smiling from Perez.
  • …Okay, I think Perez should be higher up.
  • …But, given where the Force India is (right now), and the ridiculous competition at the front…
  • …He’s rocking it.
  • …And, so is his rookie teammate.
  • …Silly McLaren, throwing him away, rather than just giving him the punch in the face Kimi said he needed.
  • …Now, look.
  • …He’s had years of kicking ass.
  • …And, he put a hex on McLaren.
  • …Wait.
  • …What?
  • Hülkenberg!
  • …Laughing at his 41 laps on the same tires.
  • …You know what?
  • …He’s doing great.
  • …Renault’s doing great.
  • …They know where they stand, that they’re in an uphill battle, trying to get (back) to where they were before the Lotus collapse (a few seasons back).
  • …And, he’s The Incredible Hülkenberg.
  • …Have I ever, in all the seasons I’ve been doing this, been anything short of scarily confident when it comes to Hülkenberg’s abilities?
  • …He knew where the teams could fall.
  • …But, he was at a point at which he just really wanted that factory seat experience.
  • …You have to remember that, high-stakes as F1 is, these are humans…
  • …And, there’s more to life than strategic moves.
  • …I have no concerns.
  • …He’ll not only get that podium…
  • …I think he’ll get that win.
  • Quick, “one question”, with Bottas…
  • …Who called Buxton out on his five-in-one.
  • …He hit it.
  • …He’s never doubted his ability, but (finally) getting that first win confirmed it.
  • …Now, if he can get past that stupid second-win barrier, he’ll be the force he’s been building up to be.
  • …Also, I’m all over Bottas’ explanation for his call for radio silence.
  • …That it was nice, like at home, quiet.
  • …(Insert “Peanuts”‘ Sally hearts -here-.)
  • …And, his English self-corrections (“sheck…checkered flag”, etc).
  • …As much as I babble (here), I don’t speak much.
  • …My goal is to go unnoticed.
  • …So, as much as I love languages, I’ve never been able to speak any (other than English), because screwing up is, now joke, one of my worst fears.
  • …Yeah, so, I appreciate hearing those.
  • …And, honestly, I’m (always) so blown away by all these guys.
  • …I was reading an Instagram post from Grosjean (yesterday), and just (really) geeking out over how perfectly placed his commas and parentheses were.  I love it.  It’s (seriously) one of the coolest things.  Also, I’m shockingly uncool.
  • Lance Stroll!
  • …All smiles!
  • …As he should be.
  • …Hopefully, this will mark the end of his weird start.
  • …The kid’s got some speed.
  • …Let’s see what he can do.
  • Sorry, I got distracted for a second.
  • …Ueli Steck died.
  • …In an accident, around Camp II (on Everest).
  • …He was last seen, on his own (not unusual, for the multiple speed-climbing record holder).
  • …Why is this article reporting collecting “…scattered parts of the climber’s body”?
  • …What the hell happened?
  • …Jesus.
  • …That’s a dark way to kick off the Spring Everest season.
  • …(This is the first death.)
  • …Steck’s the one who got into a fight with sherpas (a few years ago).
  • …But, that was a bunch of silliness, and now is not the time to dwell on that.
  • …He’s a massive figure in mountaineering.
  • …Always a fixture on Everest.
  • …Where he was set to continue trying to figure out a new route (there are two main routes, with other options having yet to be successfully established).
  • …So, if you’re not into mountaineering, fyi, this is massive (bad) news.
  • Okay…
  • Back to F1…
  • Driver’s Championship standings!
  • …Vettel – 86 / Hamilton – 73 / Bottas – 63 / Räikkönen – 49
  • …Verstappen – 35 / Ricciardo – 22 / Perez – 22 / Massa – 18
  • …Sainz – 11 / Ocon – 9 / Hülkenberg – 6 / Grosjean – 4
  • …Magnussen – 4 / Kvyat – 2
  • …Wehrlein / Stroll / Giovinazzi / Palmer / Vandoorne / Alonso / Ericsson – 0
  • Constructors’ Championship standings!
  • …Mercedes – 136 / Ferrari – 135 / Red Bull – 57 / Force India – 31
  • …Williams – 18 / Toro Rosso – 13 / Haas – 8 / Renault – 6
  • …Sauber / McLaren – 0
  • Okay, well, that’s that (for Russia).
  • Next up…
  • …A break.
  • …Then, kicking off on May 12th…
  • …Oh, hey, that’s my…yeah…
  • …The Spanish Grand Prix.
  • …Where, in 2016, teen queen (?) Max Verstappen took his maiden F1 win.
  • …Just hours before my grandma (the holder of those weirdly strong Finnish genes) died.
  • …Bygones (seriously, I appreciate getting to remember it as the day Verstappen got that win)…
  • …So, get (all) those bullfighting/bull run/Ferdinand/etc analogies ready!
  • I am off to catch the WRC Rally Argentina Power Stage.
  • …A mere .6 seconds separates M-Sport/DMACK’s Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt and Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul.
  • …With Ott Tänak/Martin Jarveoja right behind, waiting for slip-ups.
  • …Which Neuville has done in an Argentinian Power Stage.
  • …So, it’s all very Gene Wilder-as-Willy Wonka.
  • …Anyhoo, it will be yet another new Rally Argentina winner, since Loeb’s domination.
  • …And, this would be Evans’ (long-awaited) first win.
  • …Again, I respond in the style of Gene Wilder-as-Willy Wonka.
  • …It’s a truly amazing weekend for F1 and WRC.
  • Okay.
  • Amazing day, Herra Bottas.
  • …I’m a quietly contained explosion of Finnish pride.
  • Russia…
  • …Whatever the political grossness, you’re wonderfully weird, and you throw one hell of a Grand Prix, involving several of my favorite things (mountains, inland seas, nesting dolls, and Russian…almost everything) – thank you.
  • And, if you happen to be on Everest (or, any mountain)…
  • …Just be smart.
  • …It’s a two-way trip, you know.
  • …Base to summit to base.
  • …Use extra caution, remembering that your brain functions differently at high altitudes.
  • …As does your body.
  • …I know, these can be “once in a lifetime” shots.
  • …But…remember that the purpose is to experience nature and challenge yourself…
  • …Not conquer a mountain and kill yourself on descent, etc.
  • …Okay?
  • Oh, and, NBCSN’s Will Buxton…
  • …High-five on completing last weekend’s London Marathon!
  • …(Which he did for charity, in honor of his dad, who he lost last year.)
  • Cool.
  • (Bottas won!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
  • See you in Spain!
  • …(Not, you know, actually.  I have to work.  And, I’ve never, actually, gone anywhere.  So, yeah.)
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