Tag Archive: Formula 1


It’s time to watch F1, you guys!

I’ll just come right out and say it: if you don’t watch F1 this weekend, you’re an asshole.

I can hear it already, “Blah blah blah, F1, cars driving round in circles, who gives a shit about NASCAR, whatever, boring, blah blah blah.”  And you’d be a millionth-and-one person who’s given me shit for spending far too much time with this fucking sport.

And that’s because you conveniently dismiss this sport because you have not even a vague idea of how brilliant it is.  Let’s change that, shall we.  Have an open mind, for fuck’s sake.

The thing is, F1 is for everyone.  (Hey, that rhymes, I should copyright that shit.)  Man, woman, child, dog, whomever, it’s for you.  If you have a fucking pulse, no matter how cloddish, you need to take a look at F1.

Jalopnik tried to pull together a helpful guide for F1 noobs, but I found it uninspiring and tedious.  The whole thing felt like a lot of fucking work and it told you NOTHING about F1.  So fuck it, I figure I’d give it a go.

Here’s the gist of the sport.  I’ll give you the meat-and-potatoes, and then I’ll throw in some garnish afterwards.

F1 is car racing.  All the cars look like winged rockets with wheels.  They’re not steel tanks like NASCAR because they have open wheels and open cockpits – neither is covered.  They’re also made largely of featherweight carbon fiber.  And they have big fuck-off wings that create downforce that keep the cars pressed onto the track.  They also have massive fuck-off tires.

In F1, every team has to build their own cars.  If you’re a car racing noob, it might surprise you to know that most other car racing series have teams buying their cars from suppliers, and all they need to do is tweak the car and go racing with it.  Not F1: each team needs to design and build their own chassis.  That’s part of why some of the top F1 teams have annual budgets in excess of $300 million.  In comparison, you can run a shitty NASCAR team for about $10 million.

These cars are the single-most sophisticated machines for sport, and are probably the closest thing to having a NASA space rocket mate with one of James Bond’s Q gadgets.  They’re the coolest fucking thing in the world, alright.

Inside each car is a V8 engine that generates something like 800hp and revs up to 18,000rpm.  Your average 4-door sedan probably sports a 4-cylinder engine that generates 200hp and you’d never rev it higher than 3,500rpm.  Do the math.  These engines can take these cars to over 200mph.  Try that in your shitwagon.  These engines sound like a dragon being put through a paper shredder.

Each team runs two cars – the two cars will look identical; easiest way to tell the two drivers apart is to by their helmets.  But TV commentators do that for you.

Enough about the cars.  Let’s talk about the race itself.  The race starts at 2pm Austin time.  In fact, with a few exceptions, all F1 races start at 2pm local time no matter they race in the world.  You can use that in your dinner conversation this Thanksgiving, you’re welcome.  Each race lasts between 1.5 hours (often) to 2 hours (rarely).

This is the track in which they’ll be racing in Austin: the Circuit Of The Americas.

(from http://www.flickr.com/photos/jbonvouloir/)

As you can see, it’s not a goddamn oval.  Because these drivers actually need to have two key skills lacking in NASCAR drivers – knowing how to brake for corners, and turning right.

Let’s get to the drivers.  There are 24 of them.  You don’t need to know all of them.  There are dipshit drivers in the back of the pack that if you got hit by a bus tomorrow and never knew their names, you’d still have lived a full life.  Don’t waste your time trying to learn everyone’s name.  Just the ones who are worth keeping an eye out for:

  • Fernando Alonso.  Drives a Ferrari (the only all-red car in the pack).  He is, by leaps and bounds, the best all-round driver of the lot.  Even if the Ferrari is not even close to being the best car out there.
  • Sebastian Vettel.  Drives a Red Bull (blue car with a yellow tip – yes, the energy drink company own an F1 team).  One of the best drivers driving arguably the best car of them all – that’s a hell of a combination.
  • Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.  Both drive McLaren cars (silver cars with red wings).  Both a brilliant drivers.  Hamilton is the Barack Obama of F1.  Unfortunately, however, is a colossal douchenozzle, and you should totally watch him to hate him.  Seriously, he’s a tool.
  • Kimi Raikkonen.  Drives a Lotus (black car with gold trimmings).  He’s Finnish and a raging boozehound!  And he’s fast!  That’s pretty much all you need to know.

Other drivers who might put in good showings are Kamui Kobayashi, Sergio Perez, and Nico Hulkenberg.  Fuck everyone else.  Oh, you’ll also hear Michael Schumacher’s name.  That’s because he’s old, he’s been racing forever, he’s the winningest driver, and he’s a smug, dirty, cheating bastard.

And really, those are the essentials.  There are other nuances, but if you don’t know them, it won’t make the sport unwatchable.  But just in case, here are some of them:

  • Pitstops.  These cars come into the pits at least once to change tires.  That’s because a) the tires don’t last the duration of the race, and b) the rules state that they must race on two different types of tires (two compounds: one harder, one softer)
  • KERS.  This is a F1’s equivalent of a hybrid.  It stands for Kinetic Energy Return System.  The cars use braking forces to charge an onboard battery.   The battery sends and extra boost of 80hp to the engine – it’s a bit like Knight Rider’s turbo boost mode without the turbo.  It’s stupid but it’s in play.
  • DRS. Talk about an even stupider system.  It stands for Drag Reduction System.  When a car is trailing the car in front by 1 second or less, the trailing driver can push a button on his steering wheel that levels out the rear wing (reducing downforce) to help the car go faster to help overtake the car in front.  I have many reasons to hate this stupid system that I’m not going to go into here, but it’s in play, so fuck me.

Now, let’s talk briefly about the racing.  This isn’t like NASCAR, where you see a traffic jam going around in a circle for 4 hours, with cars overtaking each other ever 3 miliseconds.  Fuck that pointless bullshit.  No, what you’ll see mostly is a single-file of cars going around the track.  There’s definitely overtaking in F1, but because F1 racing is both an art and a science, this will happen mostly when cars dive into corners at the end of a long straight, trying to outbrake the other car.  The KERS and DRS systems help, too.

And that’s it.  That’s all you really need to know to watch F1 on Sunday.  That, and the fact that it’s on at 2pm ET (work that shit out in your own timezone), it’s on Speed Channel in the U.S. (better go find that channel now), and even though you’ll probably miss the early NFL games, you’ll have a shit ton more football the rest of Sunday to watch so stop being a pussy about it.

Now, don’t be a dick by blowing this off.  This is F1’s first race back in the U.S. after a 5-year absence.  This is F1’s only stop in the U.S.  It’s a big fucking deal.  You can afford to forgo football for a couple of hours on Sunday (your dipshit team will probably lose anyway).  You really can.

Just watch some F1 this Sunday.  Don’t be an asshole.

 

 

March isn’t about hoops.  Who gives a shit about college hoops (alright, alright, tons of people give a shit about college hoops, just not this guy).

For me, March is about an awakening.  An awakening of metal, carbon fiber, rubber, combustible liquids, and the manifestation of insanely complex physics.  CAR RACING, motherfuckers.  And I mean proper car racing, not that NASCAR driving-around-in-a-circle-with-antiquated-steel-tubs bullshit.  In March, the only balls that matter are those attached to the driver.  For a petrolhead, is there a better time of year than March?  No, no there isn’t.

Because March marks the end of a weird, gestation period in Formula 1 every year.  The sleepy winter tends to see racing factories “shut down”, though you know the engineers and supernerds are all still grinding away at race car design in secret.  The season’s race cars are typically introduced around January.  Then all the teams go to various racetracks and test the shit out of their new cars.  Problem is, you can rarely tell what they’re testing for – often it’s aerodynamics, sometimes it’s a suspension setup, sometimes it’s an exhaust configuration, sometimes it’s fuel consumption, sometimes it’s the tires.  But the lap times these cars rack up are typically useless to your average fan because you don’t know what they’re testing for.  Still, all of that comes to an end by early March.  The bullshit stops because it’s pencils down, and every team packs up their race gear – cars, tools, marketing swag, all of it – into large containers and fly the lot to Australia for the first grand prix race of the season.  March is when everyone stops fucking around.  March is when F1 gets real.

March is when I stay up ’til 5am on a Sunday to watch 24 completely insane drivers in race cars with wings and screaming engines fly around a racetrack for two hours.  At that hour, it is dark, it is quiet except for the 2.4 liter V8 engines, and it is fucking glorious.

So the F1 cars this year have fugly noses.  And we still have horrible teams that don’t belong in the sport (looking at you, HRT and Caterham).  But I’m not gonna care about that anymore…  because of this fucking guy:

KIMI‘S BACK!!!  ZOMG!  KIMI’S BACK!!!!!  I haven’t been this excited about any single driver since, say Sebastian Vettel’s first race for BMW at the 2007 U.S. Grand Prix.  Thank God this madman is back in the sport.

F1 is back.  And it’s a beautiful thing.  In spite of that nose.

 

But March isn’t just about F1.  Le Mans cars will only now be gearing up for some good and proper thrashing around the test tracks, in preparation for the annual slog in July.  Le Mans is a treat for the eyes, the ears, the heart, the mind, all of it.  This year, everything’s full of hybrid/electric/kinetic-powered/voodoo witchcraft/space-age wizardy.  I’m quite sure that teams are permitted to cast magic spells and summon dragons during pit stops.  Audi have announced two mental cars for this year’s competition (no need to bring up last year’s crashes, mmkay).  That’s lovely and all.

But here come Toyota – “I tell you what, there’s no school like the old school”:

Just look at that fucking thing.  It’s hideous.  Sure, it’s a new car and all, but it’s got this lovely old school look and feel about it.  And… and… ahh, fuck it, it’s not gonna win anything anyway, so I’m not gonna waste anymore time on it.

In fact, I think I’m done rambling about racing now.  Let’s just watch some videos of the Morgan-badged OAK Racing prototype and the Aston Martin Vantage GTE and call it day.

Time to go racing, bitches.

 

When I read for the first time about the idea that New Jersey wanted to host a Formula One grand prix race, I rechecked to article to see if I’d inadvertently been reading The Onion.  At first it was only within the F1 press, which most F1 fans will tell you, make up 50% of the bullshit stories on a good day.  Some time went by, then other proper news channels like the BBC, USA Today (granted, not a proper news source, more like a colorful doormat at hotel rooms), and the like started to give credence to the story.

Shit, I thought.

Then Tuesday, October 25 rolled around and the press conference happened at 2pm.  About a kabillion politicians proudly declaring a second grand prix race to be run in the U.S., to accompany the U.S. Grand Prix to be run in Austin from 2012 on.  From 2013 on, Weehawken and West New York will jointly host another F1 race.  They claim that it’ll be “challenging like Spa” and “feel like Monaco”.  Yes, it’ll be exactly like Spa and Monaco.  If both Spa-Francorchamps or Monte Carlo were built and run by Paulie Walnuts.  Because when I think “glitz and glamor of the Riviera”, I automatically think “Weehawken.”  And West New York, a town so bereft of a proper identity that it’s named after a navigational direction from a city which lays in an entirely different state.

It’ll still smell and look like New Jersey, for fuck’s sake.

The Hudson River Grand Prix.  The Lincoln Tunnel Grand Prix.  The Meadowlands Grand Prix.  The North Jersey Grand Prix.  The Smells-Like-Bad-Eggs Grand Prix.

Never have I witnessed something so horrific yet so hilarious.  Except maybe for Nancy Grace and Chaz Bono sharing the same prime time hour.  The horror… the horror.  But holy shit, that’s fucking hilarious.

Here’s why the Dirty Jersey Grand Prix is a phenomenally bad idea.

Traffic.  New York and its surrounding areas are already packed to the gills with some of the most dreadful traffic known to man.  There are a gajillion terrible vehicles on shredded roads all over in and around New York.  The last fucking thing I need is for the F1 circus to come to town and jam up the roads even more.

It’s New Jersey.  Has anyone ever looked at New Jersey and ever thought, “New Jersey, now that’s a well-run state.  I wish we could be like New Jersey.”  No one in the history of time has ever said anything that retarded.  It’s a state that is so up its own ass with bad decisions and even worse management that it damn near imploded into a black hole several short years ago.  How the fuck can anyone trust this state to properly run a grand prix?  A grand prix is a big fucking deal.  Hundreds of millions of eyeballs around the world are going to be on it.  New Jersey?!  It’s already the biggest fucking joke in the hemisphere – New Jersey, is this your attempt to become the biggest running joke of the entire universe?   Canada will not take kindly to that.

European and South American douchebags.  New York already has clueless tourists coming out if its ears.  Do we really need several thousand extra douchebags from Italy, Germany, France or Brazil fucking up this city?  “But, oooh they’ll spend lots of money here.”  No, they fucking won’t.  These shitheads will show up with backpacks and sleep in the Holland Tunnel or outside Port Authority.  They’ll eat at Sbarro then whinge about how shitty New York is.  They’ll order Bud Lights then moan about the piss-water beer.   At least when the grand prix was held in Indianapolis, the distance from the port of entry might’ve been a bit of a deterrent for some.  Now that it’s right smack in the New York area, these fuckers are going to show up by the shedloads.  The grand prix is going to held in New Jersey.  Do you think they’re going to spend any time in New Jersey other than when the racing’s taking place? Like fuck.  These assholes are going to swarm into the city like locusts.  Large, hairy, smelly locusts.  And there’s going thousands of them.  Thanks to EasyJet or any of these other budget European or South American airlines that’ll let them fly into JFK for the price of a baguette.  Fuck.  That.

Everything is going to be stupidly expensive.  And I’m speaking relative to already jacked up NYC prices.  Plus, I’m going to be locked out of every decent restaurant in the city.  Because that’s what these fuckers do when the F1 circus rolls into town.  Doesn’t matter where it is, everything becomes increases exponentially in price.  A $5 falafel from the street meat truck will now cost you $9!!  I remember paying shitloads of money for some shitty Days Inn motel room on the outskirts of Indianapolis.  On a given day, the room would’ve probably cost $30 and you’d get a can of Lysol with that.  But on race weekend… $200!  Plus an extra $20 if you wanted clean sheets!  Motherfuckers.  Same shit’s gonna happen to all my favorite food joints.  If you can even get in, that is – if they haven’t all been booked up for every manner of F1 party the week leading to the race.  Red Bull are probably going to throw 25 different parties a night for a week and I’m not invited to a single one of them.  No one’s invited unless you’re 23 and have D-cups.  Vodafone will probably buy out a corner of downtown and give rides to their VIPs in McLarens (forget it, you’re not getting in).  I won’t be able to get a table at a restaurant in Murray Hill because Force India will have locked up that whole area the whole week.

This fucking guy.  I don’t wanna be anywhere in the same zipcode as Flav.  I might contract some disease from his slimy trail of suntan oil and sleazy underhanded dealings.  Seriously: Flavio Briatore is the greasiest douchebag ever to slither his way onto a grand prix paddock.  And now that his ban from the sport is over, you can bet your ass that he’s going to make his way to this grand prix event.  Because he’d be right at home in fucking North Jersey.  I’m getting skeeved out just thinking about this fat fuck.

Here’s the thing: I don’t mind going to a grand prix, I just don’t want a grand prix to come to me.  While part of me is pleased at the prospect of being able to get into my car, pull out of my own driveway, drive down to a grand prix race for the weekend, then drive home again (amidst hours and hours of stifling traffic), and NOT need to cough up gobs of cash for shitty flights and even shittier hotels in some other city, I still think it’s a fucking terrible idea.  I’d rather pay to go to someone else’s city to watch a grand prix than to have the F1 madness fuck up my city.

I’ll believe this is really happening when I see or hear the first 18,000rpm 2.4L V8 fire up in Weehawken.  And when that happens, who’s in?  Ahhh, fuck it, I’m in.

The most important film of the year

I’d waited for over a year, but on Friday, “Senna” finally opened here in NY.  Sold out screening – in fact, there was so much demand that at around 10pm, the movie theater decided to add one more screening at midnight.  I’ll bet that got sold out, too.

Of course: it’s goddamn “Senna”.

Admission: I’m a wannabe F1 hipster.  I wish I could say, “I’ve loved watching Ayrton Senna race since day one.”  I wish I was some sort of authority on Senna like a ton of F1 fans are.  But in truth, I got into F1 long after Senna’s demise.  I have no first-hand knowledge about Senna.  I have never watched him race.  I have never watched even a video of a complete race with Senna in it.  I have watched the occasional video highlight, and I’ve read many stories about the man in the early ’90s.  But I cannot claim any first-hand experience on this person who is universally considered the single-greatest racing car driver in the history of mankind.  Certainly in F1.  And for a slightly obsessive F1 fan like myself, there’s a slight hollow feeling from not having “been there” when Senna was racing.

So when this film was announced over a year ago, I was expecting this to help “fill in the gaps”.  I had secretly hoped that it would help me get up to speed on the one driver whom F1 fans still worship, get the inside scoop, be in the know like those who really did watch him race in the early ’90s, those who speak of him like they know him.  I wanted to be as well-informed that those whose fandom pre-date me.  But because I never watched him race, I don’t feel I’ll ever be part of this Senna “inside circle” I’ve conjured up in my head.  Still…

It’s not like we’re talking about an athlete (that’s right, fuck you, racing drivers are athletes, deal with it) who rocked the sport in your grandpa’s day.  It’s not like all the footage of Senna out there is in fuzzy black and white.  Senna was current, Senna was this generation.  Senna, technically, was my generation.

But one of the first things that hit me about the film was the immediate reminder that I have outlived Senna.  Like I’ve outlived all those rock stars in the 27 Club.  He was 34 when he died.  34!!  Fucking hell.

But as the film unfolded, I realized that I’d come into it all wrong.  Here was a film about an F1 driver, right?  F1 film = lots of racing action, lots of grand prix cars fighting it out on the track, lots on loud screaming engines wailing by, that sort of thing.  It’d be like a 100 minute collection of awesome YouTube F1 clips, but in higher quality and on a massive screen.  I thought it’d be an action movie.  I couldn’t be more wrong.  This was a film about the construct of a person.  And not just any person – this was a person who received god-like reverence and fear; who in turn, had such unshakable faith in God that he probably thought that God had made him somewhat immortal.  He raced with absolute abandon.  Of fear, not of responsibility.

The race footage in the film showed me just how frighteningly quick he was.  I never really had a proper appreciation for his ability to really thrash his car around the track and make his rivals look like they were standing still.  I never properly understood just how he overwhelmed the entire sport with his speed.  But what I walked away with most of all was a firm grasp of Senna’s unbending will.  An action movie doesn’t get you these things.  This film was much, much more than that.

This film also showed a side of the sport I had never known – the chaos of pre-race driver briefings, the I-don’t-give-shit attitude drivers had about wanting to race for other teams because they didn’t think their current team was any good, the anxiety drivers openly expressed to their team.

And the anxiety of the audience… watching “Senna” is quite like watching “Titanic”: you know exactly how things are going to turn out in the end.  And the foreshadowing of Senna’s end puts a good and proper knot in your stomach.  You want to reach through the screen when Senna says that he wants to leave McLaren to drive for Williams, grab him, and say, “No, for the love of God, don’t go!”  Your heart sinks the moment Williams announce Senna as their new driver.  The second you see him in that Rothmans-sponsored race suit, it’s like watching a countdown, you know that you’re watching the beginning of the end.  And there’s nothing you can do to stop it.  And every second leading up to the moment is agonizing, sad, and frightening, all spun together.

But that said, the dork fan in me also walked away feeling like there were lost moments in the film.  Stuff that I knew about, but wanted to see covered in the film.  Like when Senna walked down the pitlane to punch Eddie Irvine in the face because he’d had the balls to pass him on the track.  The 1993 Donington opening lap.  When Nigel Mansell gave Senna a lift after Senna ran out of fuel on the track.  When Senna pulled over to help another driver who’d crashed.

But that’s not the point, is it.  Those were single episodes in the grander course of Senna’s life.  Interesting markers along the way, not life-defining milestones (OK, maybe the Donington lap – correction, definitely the Donington lap).  Was the film a lesser film for their omissions?  Of course not.  And besides, I was already quite well versed in those episodes.  I needed this film to “fill in the gaps.”  What this film did was explain the meaning of Senna.

This film will inform.  And this film will make your heart bleed.  And that’s why this is the most important film of the year.

Star Wars.  It was quirky, I was kinda into it because I was happily living vicariously through my kid who is all Star Wars all the time.  But he’s six, and it’s his goddamn right to be all Star Wars all the time.  But all the other Star Wars shit that sprouts up in blogs every week – that’s getting a bit too much.  It’s time to calm the fuck down with all the quirky Star Wars shit.  It’s bad enough that the fourth day in May is now universally considered Star Wars Day.  But enough with the art deco posters, crocheted tauntauns, Death Stars made of cheesecake, VW Passat ads, and fuck knows what else.  There’s a reason we all hate Episodes I, II, and III – anything other than the original three movies is utter shit.

Pippa Middleton.  Stop it: she’s not that hot.  She’s a bit of a butterface, and she’s really not that interesting, is she.  Everyone’s banging on about how hot she is, her ass is this and her ass is that, when in reality, while she might be a London 9, she’s about a New York 5.  Puh-leeze.  If she wasn’t related to the girl who married a prince, there’s a better than average chance that you wouldn’t pay attention to her in a bar on a Saturday night before five Stellas.

Doctor Who.  If this isn’t the most improbable TV success ever, I don’t know what is.  How the fuck did this fucking show make it out of its first season.  It’s a ridiculous premise with incredibly shoddy production value, and like a pint of warm bitter, only the Brits have an appetite for it.  Ridiculously better shows have come and gone, yet this stupid show about wheeled trash cans with toilet plungers carries on for about 50 years.  What the fuck.  Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant cap the genius of “The Office” (I’m not acknowledging the stupid, unfunny U.S. version) and “Extras” to two seasons a piece.  And this Doctor Who shit gets regurgitated for five decades?  I repeat, what the fuck.

Natalie Portman.  Let’s not hear from you again ’til that kid of yours is ready for college, how about that.  Is it just me, or did this girl crowbar her way into one in every three movies over the past year?  Enough already.  You’ve got gobs of cash from those shitty Star Wars movies, you really don’t need to say yes to every script that gets dropped into your mailbox.  I got over the Black Swan by the time you started to cry for the third time in that film.   Like fuck that was the best movie of 2010 (for that, please see “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”, thank you very much).  Since that movie, it’s been one hacky bullshit movie after another.  I was really hoping that this would be the last thing we see from you for a while:

Ex-F1 drivers racing in circles.  Good God, enough of this shit.  All thanks to that fat asshole, Juan Pablo Montoya, no less.  Just because his girth qualified him for stock car racing doesn’t mean that every other ex-F1 driver needs to have a go at NASCAR.  Going to and failing at NASCAR (which they’re all doomed to do) simply bogs down the reputation of grand prix drivers.  It makes Yanks think that grand prix drivers are rubbish.  Which is entirely untrue, unless your name is Felipe Massa or Mark Webber.  Which is what makes Kimi Raikkonen’s insistence to go to NASCAR after fucking around with the WRC that much more irritating.  Knock it off, Kimi – you used to be one of the best grand prix drivers on and off the track.  F1 hadn’t seen a beast like Raikkonen since the advent of his own hero, James Hunt.  I can’t see any other driver in the past 10 years who was marginally close to Kimi’s skill of not giving a fuck about the rules: getting loaded ’til dawn between races, dressing up in animal costumes during race weekends to hang with fans, taking part in contract-violating jet ski races incognito.  Kimi was brilliant in every way, right down to him Cylon-like interviews.  There was no other driver like him.  Not even close.  And now he’s fucked that up by associating with likes of Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve by driving around in circles Stateside.  What an asshole.

The girl in Glee with the large schnoz.  I don’t know what her name is, I’m irritated enough as it is for even knowing who this broad is.  God, am I ever sick of seeing her on magazine covers every month.  What makes her particularly annoying is her propensity to flaunt what she doesn’t have – a rack.  Put your retarded bird chest away, seriously.  It’s just stupid.  Who’s your publicist, Kate Hudson?  I have a chubby belly, you don’t see me running around pulling a “Situation” every time someone takes a photo of me.