Sunday, May 05, 2024

Sunday Musings, F1 and What am I doing

 This week I am in Chicago attending the annual Aerospace Medicine Conference, this is the field of work I am in and my interests outside of what I typically talk about here.  So it will be a ton of space and medicine and human exploration in extreme environments this week.  But before I head off into that world, I wanted to write a little for the blog.

First up recommendations.  As a fan of Top Gear, Grand Tour and the lads behind it I of course have to recommend the latest season of Clarkson's Farm, the first part now out on Amazon Prime.  Yes Jeremy Clarkson acts the baffoon, but at its heart it highlights the stuggle of farmers in the UK, and I think those struggles apply to farmers everywhere.  It's this reason that I think the show is worth tuning into.  Plus its hilarious because Clarkson is of course a buffoon.

Formula One

Another week of the Formula One Season and there are as many fireworks off the track as there are on. The week started with the the shot heard round the F1 world with the news that Car designer savant Adrian Newey is indeed leaving Redbull after this season.  No news on where, or if he will go somewhere else, although rumors are hot and heavy that he will go to Ferrari. I shared my thoughts on the whole situation last week for reference.

As far as on the track news goes, the drivers, were back in the USA for the first of 3 races this season. Kicking it off at the Miami GP.  It was a weird week leading up to the race itself, with some drivers like Daniel Riccardo doing really well in Sprint Qualifying, and then doing horribly in actual qualifying.  

As for the start of the race itself, to the surprise of no on Verstappen won Pole, but the McLaren team started P5 and P6 with both drivers starting on Medium Tires.  The race got off clean with no real issues, and very quickly McLaren driver Oscar Piastri took hold of P2 and did an admirable job of holding off the two drivers from Ferrari.  Norris stayed in P6, but kept pressure on Red Bull driver Perez and then finally passing him when he went to pit during lap 19.

The race stayed clean up until a virtual safety car came out in lap 23 due to a cone that Verstappen had hit.  The virtual safety card initially allowed some drivers to pit, however the leaders had passed the pit stop so they couldn’t take advantage of the cars temporarily slowing down.  

Eventually the leaders started pitting with Verstappen coming in to change tires in Lap 24, which allowed Piastri to take over the lead, and then Russell pitted in Lap 25

Piastri pitted at lap 28 as did P2 driver Sainz which allowed the other McLaren driver Lando Norris to take the lead as he stayed out.  

I feel like it needs to be said that Norris is quickly becoming a tire whisperer.  He seems to be Alonso like, always eeking out more life from his tires than other drivers.  Then the gods shines their light on McLaren and Lando.

A yellow flag came out at Lap 28 due to an incident between the sole US driver Logan Sargent of Williams Racing and Kevin Magnussen of Haas, which allowed Lando to get an easy pit stop during lap 30.  He was able to stay out in the lead even after the pit stop because everyone was driving slower due to the yellow flag.  Once the safety Car came in at Lap 33, Lando was in P1

Verstappen in P2, Norris in P1, Leclerc in P3, Piastri in P4 and Sainz in P5 and then the race was ON!

Sainz and Piastri had a wonderful battle for 4th with Sainz finally coming out on the better end of the battle at lap 40 when the two briefly touched, with Piastri then quickly getting passed by Hamilton.  McLaren quickly made the determination that Oscar's car had been damaged during the collision with Sainz.  Specifically he sustained some damage on the right part of the front wing.  The team called him into the pits to make a quick change of the front end, however by the time he came out of the pits he was behind the rest of the drivers.

With 10 laps left, Norris had opened quite a gap leading the race with Verstappen actually struggling to make anything happen in the Red Bull car, it felt bizarre watching the huge verstappen like gap that Norris had, while Verstappen himself was struggling to make anything happen.

And that was it, Norris held the pack off and won his first race!  you could hear the joy in his voice, and see the teams reaction for how excited they were for Norris.  He just had a dominant race that lead him to his first win after so many races finishing P2.   The entire Papaya team did an outstanding job this weekend and deserve a lot of credit for putting together a great car together for the Englishman.  Great great race.

Other thoughts, Yuki Tsunoda continues to show he is the better VCARB driver over the popular Ricciardo gaining more points for the team.  

Unfortunately Piastri couldn’t get points this week due to the collision he and Sainz had earlier in the race.  Piastri was even told near the end of the race to not do anything to crazy to gain positions as McLaren didn’t want any safety cars to come out with Norris being up front.

It was also really nice to see Team Alpine gain their first points of the season with Icon finishing P10.

After the race there was some tightening up in both the racers championship and constructors cup.  For the top 5 in the drivers championship:

Verstappen - 136

Perez - 103

LeClerc - 98

Norris - 88

It really is very close between P2 and P5.

For the constructors the top 5 look like:

Red Bull - 239

Ferrari - 187

McLaren - 124

Mercedes - 64

Aston Martin - 42

There seems to be some spacing occurring, although I still feel like McLaren can catch Ferrari if they keep making improvements to their car and Norris continues his season.


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