November 17, 2013

Formula 1 -- Austin

So I'm giving it a try, watching the race on webcast. At the beginning I was a bit worried because it looked like they were overloaded and all I could get was a spinning "buffering" symbol.

But now it's running OK.

Adrian Sutil crashed out on lap 2, and that brought out the pace car. It's obviously necessary. But it's a bit like basketball where a penalty brings all the action to a stop. And NBC takes the opportunity for an ad break.

This is the first television I've watched in several years. Gad, there sure are a bunch of ads. I'm sure it's going to drive me crazy before it's all over.

UPDATE: My solution to ad breaks was going to be to come here and write some more. Only last time, all I got from was Error 500. Rats.

I have never heard anyone pronounce these names before. I always thought that "Sutil" was pronounced SOOTull but it's actually sooTEEL.

Turn 1 on this track is awesome. I can see how the hill affects the drivers, and it's quite an effect.

DRS (Drag Reduction System) is a hack. When you go through the "detection zone", if you're within one second of the guy in front of you, then your DRS is enabled, and you get to go faster on the next straight stretch.

UPDATE: This is more interesting to watch than I thought it would be. The announcers are critical to that; they're really awesomely good.

They made an interesting point earlier: because of the "no refueling" rule, the cars start with enough fuel to finish the race. They burn about a gallon per lap, and as the race goes on the cars get lighter, and thus faster.

Continuing about the DRS: You get to go faster, but the guy in front of you probably doesn't.

It's pretty much a hack to permit lots of passes. If it was fair, everyone would get drag reduction. But I guess the race would be less fun in that case.

I'm not so sure about that. Most of the passes in this race have been in the twisty bits, where DRS isn't enabled.

Vettel is owning the race again, as expected. But the positions behind him are certainly in contention. I think no one is even thinking of trying to win against him, so the real question is who comes in second?

UPDATE: "Fox" means "pit stop". (For fighter pilots, "fox" means "fire a missile".)

UPDATE: McLaren is having another miserable day. The announce team mentioned something I hadn't noticed: McLaren hasn't had a single podium this year. (How the mighty have fallen...)

Another name: Kovaleinen is KO-vull-LIE-nen. I honestly didn't have any idea how his name was pronounced.

I am amazed watching the pit stops. Even the ones the announce team call "slow" sure end up being blazing fast to my eyes. Those guys must spend ridiculous amounts of time practicing.

UPDATE: The place where Sutil crashed looks a bit scary. He wasn't really in much danger; his speed was low when he hit. But he hit the wall about 10 feet to the right of a blunt face. Had he been 10 feet to the left, the wall would have been square in front of him, with no place to deflect off to the side.

Lap 34, and Vettel has already pitted, and he's got a 10 second lead.

What I don't know about this stuff; but to my uneducated eye, this is a really good track.

And I think I just saw the "pass of the race", Bottas passing Gutierrez.

UPDATE: Advertisement: Agent Smith is taking over our healthcare system. Explains a lot, doesn't it?

UPDATE: Part of the advertising time is reserved for local stations. When we hit one of those, the webcast just says "Coverage will return shortly." You'd think they'd sell "web-only" ad slots, but they didn't.

Most of the communications between the pits and drivers is in English, even when the driver is not a native English speaker.

But they talk to Alonso in Spanish.

UPDATE: Turn 1 seems to be the preferred place on the track for passing. Which means DRS is important.

I still think it's a hack.

UPDATE: When the on-car cameras pick up some bugs, they have something that slides down and gives you a clear view. I wonder how they do that?

UPDATE: Much to no one's surprise, Vettel wins another one. Apparently this sets a record of "most consecutive wins in a single season."

This seems to be a very safe track. Sutil's crash was the only one, and it wasn't all that violent. Someone did something strange to Gutierrez in the final lap, but all it did was shove him into the grass, after which he drove back onto the track and finished the race.

It also seems to be a good racing track. DRS notwithstanding, the turn 1-2 complex had some good stuff going on. There was one time when someone passed Alonso in turn 1, and he took the position back in turn 2. Part of why that seems possible is that the track is nicely wide the whole distance, and in a couple of places it's even wider. As a result, cars can drive side-by-side without too much problems. On some of the street circuits (Monaco) that simply isn't possible.

As the race goes on, you can see the "preferred line" develop because of wear on the pavement and rubber being laid down. The preferred line looks shiny and bright. But there was one place where the preferred line changed as the race went on. No one was driving on the shiny part. I think that must have been because the cars were lighter, due to fuel consumption.

UPDATE: I thought I would get bored and eventually stop watching, but that was actually pretty cool.

UPDATE: Vettel burned some circles out past the edge of turn 1. He did that last time, too, and they hit him with a fine. I wonder if he'll be fined again?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Entertainment at 11:16 AM | Comments (24) | Add Comment
Post contains 1018 words, total size 6 kb.

1 UPDATE: "Fox" means "pit stop".

They're actually saying "box," as in "pit box."

And by finally talking you into watching a race, I've put myself out of business.  Way to go, me. 

Posted by: Wonderduck at November 17, 2013 12:59 PM (Izt1u)

2 I don't see why. You can keep posting.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 17, 2013 01:00 PM (+rSRq)

3 Because you've done a better job with this post than I've done all season? 

Oh, and it's Italian, not Spanish, that Ferrari was speaking to HWMNBN.  They aren't supposed to do that, but it's Ferrari: they've got their own set of rules.

Also: I call them the "Legendary Announce Team" for a reason.  They really are just that good.

Posted by: Wonderduck at November 17, 2013 01:14 PM (Izt1u)

4 Silly question time:  does Ferrari really get to flout the rules, doing things that would get penalties assigned to other teams?

Posted by: metaphysician at November 17, 2013 06:44 PM (3GCAl)

5 My engineering bet is that camera has a spool of transparent film in front, somewhat similar to the way old 35-mm cameras worked, only with electric motor instead of a lever.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at November 17, 2013 08:54 PM (RqRa5)

6 I think you must be right; that's what occurred to me, too. It's pretty elaborate, but I bet it didn't take long for them to figure out that they needed a solution for the problem.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 17, 2013 09:02 PM (+rSRq)


Silly question time: does Ferrari really get to flout the rules, doing things that would get penalties assigned to other teams?

There have been times when it seemed as if there were two rulebooks, one for Ferrarri and one for everyone else.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 17, 2013 09:03 PM (+rSRq)

8 What's the difference between DRS and plain old drafting?

Racing sports have been using cameras with rotating plexiglass(?) shields for a while, now.  The shield periodically rotates, presenting a clear surface.  Presumably, there's some sort of cleaning system in the back of the camera apparatus, but I have seen "new" sections come around that contained smudges or smears before.

Posted by: Big_D at November 17, 2013 09:33 PM (VKO9N)


What DRS does is open a hole in the middle of the rear wing, decreasing drag. The announce team said it was good for about 10 MPH increase in speed.

And it applies no matter where the car is, unlike drafting which only works if you're in a certain spot relative to the other car.

It also decreases down force, but the hole is automatically closed before you reach the turn at the end of the straight stretch.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 17, 2013 09:50 PM (+rSRq)

10 I was told that NASCAR-style drafting doesn't really work in F1, because the cars' massive wings leave "dirty air" behind them, which increases aerodynamic drag on the trailing car, making it basically impossible to close the distance enough to get into a sweet spot.

Aircraft and birds also leave dirty air behind themselves, which is why aircraft and birds in formation fly in echelon, not in  column. Race cars can't really draft in echelon because of the necessity of turning frequently.

Posted by: Boviate at November 17, 2013 10:03 PM (CeQ+R)

11 Pete is correct to the best of my knowledge.  I first saw something like that watching indy races when onboard cameras were pretty new. It's a roll of thin cellophane in front of the camera, and they just have enough of it to last the length of the race, no cleaning involved.

Posted by: Mauser at November 17, 2013 11:00 PM (TJ7ih)

12 Are there any good F1 animes, or racing animes in general?

Posted by: muon at November 18, 2013 01:56 AM (jFJid)

13 Not F1 as such, but there are shows about racing. I have no idea how good they are; never watched any of them.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 18, 2013 06:34 AM (+rSRq)

14 Speed Racer started airing in 1965, so it is downright ancient in art, animation, and storytelling.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at November 18, 2013 09:07 AM (RqRa5)

15 Sorry about those error 500s, you probably caught me right when I was deploying the new version of Minx.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at November 18, 2013 12:21 PM (PiXy!)


I figured it was probably something like that, since it was just before the numbering problem.

No harm, no foul.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 18, 2013 12:51 PM (+rSRq)

17 F1 cars can and do draft, but...

In NASCAR, your cars suffer from drag, but don't get a whole ton of downforce from their bodies (mostly compensated for by the turns being gradual and banked heavily). So running behind someone, you're in the disrupted airflow, which reduces drag, even if you're both in a turn.

In F1, you have drag, but a much larger amount of the drag is converted to downforce. (The joke is that an F1 car has so much downforce that if you got it up on the ceiling somehow, it could stick there from downforce alone; it's not QUITE true, but pretty close.) This downforce is great in the turns but slows you down a good bit on the straight. If you're behind someone, all that disrupted, "dirty" air is giving you less drag, and also not pushing down on your wings properly, reducing the amount of downforce. So yeah, you go faster.

But then you get to the corner... uh oh. Now you need all that downforce to help increase your grip, because you've got a motherlode of inertia going the wrong way. And if you're right behind someone, you're in that dirty air, and the air's not pushing cleanly on all your aero elements, and you don't have that downforce when you most need it. You compensate by relying more on the grip in the tires (which degrades them at a faster rate) or by slowing down (guess you ain't passing that guy in front of you!)

DRS ("Drag" Reduction System, right?) is a hack intended to counteract the immense problem of trying to pass an F1 car on a twisty track. Passing without it means you either have to rely on the other guy making a mistake, or you have a massive performance advantage...

And this is why Duck is awesome, because a couple of years ago I didn't know any of this stuff. ;p

F1 in anime... not so much, though Schumacher's Chin did show up for a guest appearance in Yakitate... Good Smile did make a Nendroid of Kobayashi a couple years ago, though.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at November 18, 2013 05:34 PM (pWQz4)

18 It's kind of a shame, because Suzuka is one of the best courses on the circuit.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 18, 2013 05:48 PM (+rSRq)

19 I think a lot of the reason racing doesn't show up in Anime simply comes down to a lack of racing culture in Japan.  When not a lot of people drive, it's hard to get people thinking about racing.

Compare that to the Nordics, who get their kids racing somewhere after they figure out how to ride a bicycle.   Population Density will do that to a culture. 

Posted by: sqa at November 18, 2013 09:06 PM (rdcLU)

20 Japanese GP pulls about 100,000 people on the race day, which is in line with what F1 can do. China was at 100k in 2012 too, Korea at 80k.

Also, guys... Initial D.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at November 18, 2013 10:03 PM (RqRa5)

21 Ohio State University's stadium holds 102k and is filled every game each year.  100k at a Race that happens once per year isn't too impressive.

And, yes, while I am an Initial D fan, it's a good series that is kind of its own thing.  But their Car Culture is "kei cars" more than anything else.  And that's not much of a culture.

Posted by: sqa at November 18, 2013 10:51 PM (rdcLU)

22 The only one I've seen is the REDLINE movie (Speed Racer on crack). Future CPX Cyber Formula is about futuristic Formula racing. Would the DRS count as a computer support system?

Posted by: muon at November 19, 2013 03:01 AM (jFJid)

23 There was Motorcycle Racing of a sort in Rideback. However towards the end it violates the den Beste rule.

(The basic plot is there are these motorcycles that transform into a two-wheeled side-by side form, like a cross between a segway and a mech, with the rider position high and towards the rear, so you're riding on it's back, get it? Promising ballerina whose career was ended by a broken ankle has a sense of balance that makes her a natural rider even with the stability control system off. She enters some races and does well.  Meanwhile, Totalitarian Government is taking over, and her club takes the position that SkateboardingRidebacking is not a crime, and she gets involved in a revolution.)

Posted by: Mauser at November 19, 2013 04:06 AM (TJ7ih)

24 I think this is enough topic drift.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 19, 2013 04:10 AM (+rSRq)

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