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May 21 2011

F1: Circuit de Catalunya Qualifying

Well this is it, Rapture Day, and yet you’re all still here.  Shame on you.  It’s still early enough though that you can go outside and if you find a pile of clothes on your neighbor’s lawn and the car in the driveway you can acquire a new ride.  They won’t need it.

To the more mundane.  Williams has gotten off to it’s slowest start ever and has already announced changes to it’s technical team, director Sam Michael leaves at the end of the season.  Adrian Sutil is under investigation for getting into a fight with someone from Renault at a bar in Shanghai and stabbing him in the neck with a champagne glass.  Then there is Formula One: Texas Subsidy Style where Rick Perry fires 100,000 teachers and gives Bernie Ecclestone $250 million to subsidize the new race.

Oh, you want racing news.

Lots of technical changes at Circuit de Catalunya.  It’s one of the off season testing tracks and in recent years has been extremely uncompetitive and boring.  F1 officials are hoping all the new rules, the tear away Pirellis, the KERS kinetic energy recovery system, and the DFR down force reducer will change that.  In particular they’re hoping the DFR will finally have an impact and are activating it over the longest section of track yet this season.  Everyone has once again tweaked their aero bits.

What will probably have the greatest impact though is the new Pirelli Super Hard tires.  The Drivers hate them.  They’re 2 seconds slower and don’t last any longer than the softs.  You only get 3 sets of softs for both racing and qualifying and as Alonso puts it, “It’s difficult to think about going in Q1 with the hard tyre, so I think 95 per cent of the people will try to use one soft unfortunately in Q1. We’ll see if anyone takes the risk.”

Speaking of Scuderia Marlboro UPC and how Formula One kisses their ass at every opportunity, there is the blown diffuser controversy.  Red Bull and McLaren along with some of the other teams are using engine management (mapping) to keep the amount of forward moving engine exhaust over their under car diffusers constant regardless of throttle position.  Just before this race and without any time to design or test new systems for the next 3 races (Monaco is next week and Canada shortly after) they decided it violated the movable aerodynamic parts rule they decided to ban it.

While you may argue about whether this disadvantages McLaren or Red Bull more, there is no doubt at all which team in the top three doesn’t use it because their engineers have been too stupid for the last two years to make it work.  Oh, and the rumors about booting Massa and replacing him with Hamilton are apparently true, though Hamilton would have to be an idiot to transfer to a team with third rate equipment like Scuderia Marlboro.

Fortunately they’re delaying a final decision until a regularly scheduled review next month.

But apparently flexible wings are just fine even though nobody has been able to duplicate them yet despite seeing the dangly wires after Vettel’s practice crash in Turkey.

My Dad has requested I mention today is Indianapolis 500 Pole Day.  This is the 100th anniversary of the race.  TV coverage is from noon to 2 pm on ESPN2 and from 3 to 6 pm on ABC with post qualifying coverage from 6 to 8 pm again on ESPN2.

Speed coverage of Formula One starts with the Debrief at 7 am and Qualifying at 8 am.  Tomorrow GP2 starts at 6 am with the race at 7:30 am.

As usual any surprising developments below.

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