Posted by Bill Prosperi on June 22, 2011
When the season started, three key things were introduced: new tire supplier in Pirelli, the return of KERS, and the new DRS. When ever there is such dramatic change, the Boo Birds come out in full force. This time was no different. Now that there are several races on the books, the chants are growing more and more distant. Back this season are aspects that have been missing. Formula One is once again a spectators sport. Still think otherwise? The opening races should give ample proof, with China seeing the most passes and Turkey seeing the most pit stops in a long long time. Pit strategy all but vanished when refueling was banned. Bridgestone was making tires that would allow the teams to need two stops, maybe one, to go the race distance. This would allow the front runners to gain enough of a time advantage to comfortably make the required stop to use both assigned compounds of the race weekend, and be back on their merry way in the lead. Now we are seeing upwards of four stops! Some events became a parade instead of a race since overtaking points are all but configured out of most of the newer tracks. The only racing to be had, it seemed, was either out of the points or low point paying positions.
Formula One has made its mark by being on the cutting edge of technology. Heck, by being on the very edge of reality when it comes to pushing man and machine to the brink of massive failure in order to achieve maximum results. That is what draws viewers in. No one wants to see twenty some odd cars play follow the leader around some of the most spectacular tracks the world has ever seen. The fans want to see drivers battle it out till the last few laps and pull out the win on the final corner. Ladies and Gentlemen, we may have our dreams answered.
During these first rounds, teams are settling in with the new toys. The last few seasons saw things like rear diffusers that would almost create a force field around the leading car, creating ‘dirty’ air and take away the slip stream and tow. The new Down force Reduction System or DRS is attempting to remedy that. So far so good. Now mix in the extra boost of KERS and look what happens. In China and Turkey we saw Mark Webber and Kamui Kobayashi come from way down in the pack and score points. Webber managed to find his way to a podium finish without KERS, but a change in pit strategy and use of DRS. Both drivers benefited from poor qualifying results by having extra tires the others did not. Add in that both are very skilled drivers and the results speak for themselves. In Canada, Jenson Button gave the drive of his career by coming from dead last to force Vettel into an error and win on the last lap.
The season so far has seen young Vettel pick up where last season left off. The only thorn in his crown so far is McLaren, taking victory in a hard fought China and sloppy wet Canada . Matching Vettel with the likes of Adrian Newey may be a strong case for sugar somehow finding its way into the Red Bull’s fuel cell right before the lights go out. Every one of the front running teams are making full use of KERS except Red Bull, who have had on and off issues but looks to be resolved. That boys and girls is what we call ‘phenomenal race pace’ or if you’re Ferrari, one would call that cheating. The other major head scratcher this season is Michael Schumacher. This once race dominator is now fighting to not be a moving chicane. The race in Turkey saw the veteran driver in a constant battle to not be run over by drivers who were in diapers when he was winning world championships. This is still Schumi so do not count the old man out just yet. Hopefully this is not showing that the old man was just an average driver who got to pilot a well designed car. Imagine the dreams that would crush. In Canada, Michael just missed the podium, finishing in fourth.
As this season roars on, the hope is that someone will be able to put up a solid and consistent fight to Red Bull. Both McLaren and Ferrari have shown that it is possible. Could we also start to see that qualifying may not be as crucial as in seasons past. Teams now seem more willing to hold back and save rubber for race day instead of burning them up in hopes of pole. Not having to reuse tires from qualify may save a trip to the pits and in term buy an extra twenty to thirty seconds. But then there is always the possible turn one carnage that the front runners usually avoid.
There are still a lot of unknowns to this season and as the Formula One circus begins its parade through Europe, a clearer picture will emerge. With more pit stops required to finish a race, there is now more uncertainty involved. Some drivers have already paid the price in lost time from stops gone wrong. Hold on to your couch cushions boys and girls, we are in for one hell of a thrilling ride this summer.
(Photo from http://www.f1-pics.com/, an awesome site with images that span many years.)
Posted in Formula One | Tagged: Adrian Newey, DRS, F1, Ferrari, Formula One, KERS, Lewis Hamilton, Lotus, McLaren, Pirelli, Red Bull, Renault, Schumacher, Vettel | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Bill Prosperi on March 21, 2011
Now that the snow has melted and there is this big ball of brightness in the sky, Little Man wakes up every weekend and asks what race is on today. This weekend was the 12 Hours of Sebring, the start of the American Le Mans series. The both of us were pretty excited about this. That was until I found out that I would not be able to watch it on TV. After finding out from the boys over at Speed:Sport:Life that the race kicked off at 10:30, I went to the cable guide to see what channel it would be on, with the first thought being SPEED. Nothing. OK, maybe they will have it on later in the day since Chop, Cut, Rebuild is must see TV for a Saturday morning. Wrong again. I looked over the guide for the entire day only to find a crap ton of NASCAR reruns and reality TV. I was upset to say the least. The only way to catch this American race classic was to either have an XBox or log on to the interwebs and hope my cable company would let me watch ESPN3.com. In the words of Little Man: “Whaaaat? We can’t watch the race on TV? That’s just not right.” My thoughts exactly.
What the hell has become of American motor sports lately? During the weekend of the 24 Hour of Daytona, I sat at home on Friday, working of course, but thought I would turn on the ole’ TV and catch the Continental Tire Challenge support race. I later found out that I would have to wait till the following weekend to watch that. What I want to know is why, with all these series out there, the only time we as race fans can watch them is a week or two later. Ever since Fox took over the SPEED channel, the ability to watch racing in general has gone down the tubes. Series like the SPEED World Challenge and the Trans Am series are a mere shadow of their former selves. I get that NASCAR is popular. It is hard not to go anywhere and see something NASCAR associated. Its kind of hard to miss when it is on every weekend, all weekend from February to November, with only a few weeks off in between. Maybe it is just me, but the thrill of watching 30 some cars chase each other in a oval for four to five hours every weekend does nothing for me. I can sit through about 20 laps or so, then by the fourth caution, I am done. What I want to see are cars battling it out in the corners and are not trying to be something they are not. As well, not a reality show that is a marriage of America’s Got Talent and a late night at Walmart. Reality TV was cool, ten years ago. Now it is overwhelming. Same with news and analysis. How many ways can we pick apart the race weekend.
When I moved out on my own and got a real cable company that had the SPEED channel, there was racing on all day almost everyday. I loved it. I was able to see cars of every make and model battle it out. Many of the drivers we watch today were just getting their start, and there I was watching them take their rookie knocks. There were even hours devoted to the series in Europe. Even a little sprinkle of rally tossed in for good measure. Is the channel whose sole purpose was to showcase racing now gone the way of MTV? Well there is SPEED2. This on-line network looks great but unless you have Time-Warner cable, go put your hopes and dreams back to bed.
One of these days I will be able to give Little Man a good answer as to what race is going to be on. Thankfully Formula One is just days away. If that gets pushed to the side for something else, people better start running cause it will get ugly. Maybe one of these days I will scrap my already perfectly good TV and go with something Internet capable so we can go on-line and watch TV. Personally that sounds a bit moronic to me. Why should I go to the Internet to watch television? I thought that is why I have cable. Maybe I should bite the bullet and get a dish and hope to hell the wind is calm and there are not any storms in the tri-state area. That could work.
I just want someone to tell my why. Is that so hard? I have heard the same argument about money and rights from both sides. Quit the finger pointing, it is not working and fans are leaving. In fact, I am point a finger myself, but it is not my index finger.
I am not trying to single out NASCAR in this rant of mine. But it should be easy to see why someone who is not a big fan of the series can get a little bent when it is shoved into his face at every corner. Some of those guys may want to take some acting lessons as well, they are making dumb commercials even worse.
Posted in Rants | Tagged: 12 Hours of Sebring, ALMS, American Le Mans, Continental Tire Challenge, CTCC, F1, Formula One, INDY, NASCAR, Sebring, SPEED Channel, Speed2, Time Warner | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Bill Prosperi on March 2, 2011
It is Saturday morning. I am the coach. I need to be at the field…… NOW! HA!! No worries, we just picked up this nice ’95 Renault Espace. Its a little old but it will do the trick. Luckily I was smarter than the average bear this time around and packed everything last night. It is an early game and all. Who schedules a game at noon on a Saturday? I just got to bed a few hours ago. Oh well. We throw the kids in their seats, strap them in, and off we go. We (I) could have planned better and woke up on time but what fun would that be? It would be very un-Prosperi like to be on time for something. The Espace quickly breezes through traffic and around all the slow lumbering ‘SUVs’ the other soccer moms are driving. We looked at the usual suspects for our new ride but I decided this was the one for us. Its French! What could ever go wrong?
So what makes this minivan so special? It is packing a World Champion Williams engine. (MORE POWER!) The same one used to power the Williams-Renault FW15-C to the Formula 1 title in 1993. This beast might not be a 4×4 like all the other soccer moms but are they packing an 800hp (upgraded from its original rating of 700hp), 3.5-litre, 40-valve Renault RS5 V10 engine? I think not! And the Smiths thought they were the cool ones with their Equinox SS.
We had thought about going with this one but thought that it might be a little too ‘loud’. Didn’t want to get the neighbors talking.
Guess who never misses a tee time?
Posted in Auto, The Other Side of Life | Tagged: Espace F1, F1, Renault, Scotch, Soccer, Soccer Moms, Williams-Renault | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Bill Prosperi on May 11, 2010
Now that Formula One is fully into the season and they are back running around terrorizing the villagers in Europe, one of the ultimate races is here, Monaco. Something draws me to this race like no other. Not sure what it is but it is probably my favorite race of the year. I know that passing is at its least and who ever is on pole will have the best chance of winning but then I think it is the sights and sounds that draw me in. Nothing like the surround sound going as they rocket through the tunnel. I just got chills up my spine thinking about it.
So with that said, lets talk about the sounds. The sounds of the drivers pissing and moaning about the back-markers. At first, I was with the them on this, thinking that the slower drivers would cause issues during qualifying. Then I thought about it. These slower cars will be out my Q1 anyway. If you get off your duff and get out there, get your hot lap in, what is there to worry about. If they do slow you up, then it looks like you might actually have to race your way around the Principality to improve your positioning for the finish. That is what you are paid for right?
Once again, the top teams need something to grumble about. I will give the top teams a small break. I have seen some things from the slower teams that really make me wonder. For example, Lewis Hamilton coming out of the pits and battling for position with Vettle. I am not sure who the driver was but kindly got out of Vettle’s way right into the pit exit where Hamilton was desperately trying to gain the position on Vettle. Almost took all three of them out. Maybe try talking to these teams in the Driver’s Meetings about this stuff. Especially since some of them have little to no experience in F1. Remember guys, there was a time where most of you were in the cockpit of one of these slower cars trying like mad to just finish the race. Do us all a favor and stop the belly aching. Get out there and prove to us you can race.
Posted in Rants | Tagged: F1, Formula One, Motorsports | Leave a Comment »