Notes taken during the SPEED broadcast of 2012 Formula 1 USB Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, China, April 15, 2012.
Word to your 2 a.m. race-watching posse. I almost always watch F1 races via DVR replay. The DVR, by the way, is among the top five inventions of all time, right up there with the USB port.
pressdog® DRINK, ye BASTARDS™ Beer of the Race (beer of the notes, actually) is Ayinger Brau-Weisse Authentic Bavarian Hefe Weizen. Get your DRINK, ye BASTARDS drinkware HERE.
Major froth from qualifying was the Mercedes factory team is on the pole for the first time since 1955. BOOM. Insert evil laugh from Ross Brawn here. Brawn was the father of the Brawn Racing rule-stretching double-defuser a few years ago and this year came up with some rear wing gizzmo that's caused some con-TRO-versy, but has been upheld as legal.
Starting lineup: Nico Rosberg (!), Michael Schumacher, Kamui Kobayashi (!), Kimi Räikkönen, Jenson Button, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton, Serio Perez, Fernando Alonso,Roman Grosjean, Sebastien Vettel (!), Felipe Massa Pastor Maldonado, Bruno Senna, Paul di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne, Heikki Kovalainen, Vitaly Petrov, Timo Glock, Charles Pic, Narain Karthikeyan.
David Hobbs (insert tinkle of scotch on the rocks here), Bob Varsha and Steve "SAFETY CAR!" Matchett are in the booth. Will Buxton on the grid.
Story lines: Bob ... who will win (new names up front)?, Matchett "Don't put the 'Kobash' on Kamui" HAR. I gotta know if Matchett writes his own material. Dave: Watch out for the Räikkönbadger!
Gridded. Let's light this candle ... we're ... green green green.
NO circus music into Turn 1. The lack of crashes have the circus clowns so idle these days they're starting to have impromptu crap games in back alleys. Nothing better to do.
Webber inhales Alonso. Matchett thinks that Schumacher slowed just a touch to pull in behind Nico at the start and defend him against rear attack. Hamilton had a MONSTER start.
Vettel starts P11 and is now P14. Not such a good start for him. Replays of start.
DRS is enabled!
F1 Note: DRS is short for Drag Reduction System. Here's what it is: the back wing of an F1 car has two horizontal elements. DRS allows the driver to push a button and open the back wing elements, like you'd open the slats of two venetian blinds to let more light in. That's like having very little rear downforce a'tall, which makes you go like crazy in a straight line. Then they flap the wing elements down again coming to a corner to create the normal downforce. DRS can only be activated in one or two designated zones on any given track, and then only if you a second OR LESS behind a car. DRS was added to F1 last year to encourage more overtaking. The DRS zone for China was actually shortened after drivers said it made it TOO easy to overtake the car ahead.
Matchett is impressed with the Mercedes cars ... Nico is up by two seconds within five laps ... but worries they may be over driving them and trashing their tires.This has been an issue with Mercedes factory cars in the past.
Lap 5 -- Nico, Mike Schumacher, Button, Räikkönen, Hamilton, Perez, Kobayashi, Alonso, Webber, Massa.
Lap 7 -- Webber pits to start the pit cycle. The option tires (softer of the two tires every team must use at least once) are faster than the primary tires but go off (lose grip) pretty quickly. Vettel says his car is a pig (slow) in a straight line.
Rosberg is now up by 3.5 seconds. Button closing in on Mike. Hobbs notes that Schumacher makes it very difficult to pass.
Lap 9 -- Festival of pitting coming as the softer tires are going to shit fast.
Lap 10 -- Rosberg, Mike, Button, Räikkönen, Hamilton, Perez.
Räikkönen and Hamilton pit. Hamilton out first. Räikkönen loses a spot in the pits. Comes out and Webber inhales him at the blend lined. Insert rage-based Finish expressions here. Räikkönen doesn't go quietly though and makes a balls-of-steel move on the outside, running about an inch and a half from Webber through the corner. Killer from Räikkönen's in-car. You can see the rage radiating off Kimi's head like heat radiating off the desert.
Lap 13 -- Mike Schumacher pits. In. Out ... Cue the circus music! Schumacher is way off course. Radios that his left front wheel is toast. Nico pits and comes out. No problem. Replays. Right front guy was not done getting the nut on when the jack guy let Schumacher go. (F1 cars, like IndyCars, have only one big nut in the center of the wheel to attach it ot the car.) Schumacher left the pit with a loose wheel and had to retire. Festival of Despondency for the left front changer.
Lap 16 -- Massa LEADS (on the pit cycle. Don't get too excited). Check that. Rosberg INHALES Massa in the DRS zone.
Lap 19 -- Pit cycle is over. Everyone has pitted.
Nico, Button, Hamilton, Webber, Rage-Filled Räikkönen, Alonso, Kobayashi, Grosjean, Vettel, Perez. So Vettel is up to P9 after first round of stops after being P14 on lap 1
Lap 23 -- Webber pits again. Rosberg is up 4.5 seconds on Hamilton. Webber goes purple (fastest lap of everyone so far).
Lap 25 -- Räikkönen is P2 causing me to briefly breath into a bag.
Lap 26 -- We get a cool shot that shows a Festival of DRS Flaps opening in The Zone.
lap 27 -- (mid pit cycle) Rosberg, Räikkönen, Alonso, Grosjean, Vettel, Perez, Senna, Maldanado, di Resta.
Lap 28 -- Rosberg is 11.3 seconds up on the field.
Lap 32 -- Matchett says the "pit delta" (time required to pit and come out in same position) is 20 seconds. If Rosberg pits while 20 seconds or more ahead, he'll come out of the pits in P1.
Lap 33 -- Hamilton is about 9 seconds faster than Perez (give or take) but is stuck behind him. Can't quite overtake him on the straights. There's tons of marbles on the track, the price you pay for having a low-durability option tire. Looks like black gravel out there. Still, I'm a HUGE fan of the option tire concept.
Lap 34 -- Button is closing on Rosberg who has to pit soon.
Lap 35 -- Rosberg pits and out in P2. Button is 9 seconds ahead of him after the pit stop.
Replay. Webber does a wheelie off the curbs. His undertray gets major air (bow chica bow bow).Lands right side up and continues, though.
Lap 40 -- Button pits. Major left rear issues. Slow slow slow pit stop. The director switches the camera off the pits and onto the track, causing Matchett, who LIVES for pit stops, to call the director out right on the air. "The story of the grand prix is what happesn in the pits, not what was happening on the track at that moment."
F1 Note: F1 has its own posse that produces the races. SPEED gets the feed and the booth guys actually call the race live while watching monitors in a booth in Charlotte, NC (I think it's Charlotte.) so they have no control of or input into what's shown.
Lap 42 -- Kimi is P2. Rosberg's pits tell him to look after his tires. Festival of Marbles/Clag continues. Announcers say "clag" and "rolled up rubber" often so DRINK, ye BASTARD.
Lap 46 -- THREE WIDE (briefly) for 8th. Stuff's getting crazy now with 12 to go.
It's been 57 years since a Mercedes factory team has won an F1 race. Vettel vs. Räikkönen for P2. The Räikkönbadger is not going easily.
Rosberg, Räikkönen, Vettel, Button, Hamilton, Webber, Senna, Grosjean, Maldanado, Alonso.
Vettel inhales Räikkönen for P2. Räikkönen goes wide and loses P3 as well. Back on in P4 but is then overtaken by two more cars. Clearly the car is going off. Tires may be crap. Räikkönen dropping like an empty vodka bottle thrown off a yacht.
Like a doobie being passed at a party, Räikkönen is being inhaled by everyone. Kimi has lost his tires. He's dirt tracking out there.
Saubers (Kobayashi and Perez) about hip check each other off the road.
Lap 50 (of 56) -- Räikkönen is P12. Dropped from P2 to P12 in two laps. He'll lose two more spots before it's over.
Button dives under Vettel for P2 ...... CLEAR. Button P2 in a big move. Button has tires that are 8 laps fresher than Vettel.
Hobbs -- Button "takes two bites of the cherry ..." I have no idea what this means. I think it meant that Button faked one way and went the other.
Rosberg, Button, Vettel, Hamilton, Webber, Grosjean, Senna, Maldanado, Kobayashi. Räikkönen is P14.
Lap 53 -- Hamilton taking Vettel for P3. Replay three-wide into a corner.
Lap 54 (of 56) -- Hamilton inhales Vettel. P3. Webber is behind Vettel and will take a look. Replay. Vettel says "welcome to the block party" (in German) but still gets overtaken by Hamilton.
White. Webber overtakes Vettel for P4 on the last lap. Ballsy. Rosberg is 22 second ahead of everyone.
Rosberg wins by so much he has time to crack open a beer before P2 comes across. First Mercedes factory team win since 1955. Ross Brawn, evil genius, gets massive air.
Radio ... Nicro screaming (first F1 win). Brawn (voice of God) says "Brilliant job, Nico. Brilliant."
Podium. Anthem. Deutschland Deutschland Uber Alles. (German team and driver.) Lewis accepts his P3 with a bit more enthusiasm than previously. Probably hating that Button snaked him for P2 late.The Mercedes constructor guy is a Festival of Joy on the podium.
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
4. Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault
5. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault
6. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault
7. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault
8. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault
9. Fernando Alonso Ferrari
10. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari
11. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari
12. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes
13. Felipe Massa Ferrari
14. Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault
15. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes
16. Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari
17. Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari
18. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault
19. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth
20. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth
21. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth
22. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth
23. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault
Ret. Michael Schumacher Mercedes
Driver points: Lewis 45, Button 43, Alonso 37, Webber 36, Vettel 28.
Constructors: McLaren-Mercedes 88, Red Bull Renault 64, Ferarri 37
That's it from China. Entertaining last 5 laps with a Festival of Overtaking. Next race is Bahrain, Sun. April 22, 8 a.m. Eastern on SPEED.