It was 19 years ago today that the legendary Ayrton Senna was lost at Imola. RIP.
It was 19 years ago today that the legendary Ayrton Senna was lost at Imola. RIP.
F1 engineers are hard at work again exploiting gaps in the FIA technical regulations. Last season’s double DRS (DDRS) systems are banned, so designers like the famed Adrian Newey of Red Bull are developing “passive stalling devices,” not driver controlled, to stall rear wing downforce and increase straight-line speed. Very cool.
The importance of this system, if implemented correctly and a balance can be found is potentially huge. With limited DRS usage now in force throughout an entire Grand Prix weekend, a passive system that can stall the rear wing effectively will give any team a great advantage throughout an entire lap — not just in the DRS zones as the DDRS was solely being used for.
But as the astute Craig Scarborough observes:
One issue facing the FIA and other teams is that the Mercedes DDRS solution will be banned in 2013, via wording to prevent secondary use of the DRS opening. But being passive, the Lotus system does not employ this solution to stall the wing. As it stand the Lotus will be legal for 2013, but the FIA are likely to find some wording to also outlaw this method of drag reduction.
This back and forth between designers and sanctioning bodies has been a part of Formula One for decades. Think back to Colin Chapman’s dual-chassis Lotus 88 or the infamous Brabham BT46B “fan car” from Gordon Murray. Both banned, of course. And the eiptome of all, the six-wheeled Tyrell P34. Formula One likes to say that it is the ultimate in technology and engineering. That’s not the case and never was. But the game is fun to watch.
After three of the most exhilarating consecutive seasons in Grand Prix history — although some believe Red Bull’s utter dominance of 2011 was on the boring side — Formula One seems headed for changes this year. The biggest issue, as typical in today’s post-recession global economy, is money. F1 takes enormous amounts of capital and it’s just not around that much any more. Despite a resource restriction agreement that is designed to level the playing field and allow smaller teams to remain financially solvent (whether or not competitive), the gap between the sport’s leading organizations and grid backmarkers is as large as ever.
The signs of this situation are evident. Marussia, which started back in 2010 as Virgin, released Timo Glock in favor of yet another sponsored “pay driver,” who basically purchased the seat. Caterham let Heikki Kovalainen go in favor of a second paid seat alongside Charles Pic. Paying for F1 drives is not new, going all the way back to Juan Manuel Fangio’s backing by the Argentine government of Juan Péron in the 1950s. But this time it feels different. The difference is that the F1 grid is shrinking, looking today like a far cry from the halcyon era of the early 1990s, when “pre-qualifying” was required to whittle the field to a “mere” 26 cars for Saturday qualifications. Former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari, yet another casualty of the paid driver trend, complains that ”F1 has become an auction.”
For some years now, there have been whispers in Formula 1 that all was not well financially with some of the teams. Finally, one of the most senior figures in the sport has put a public voice to them. McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh says “of the 11 teams, seven of them are in survival strategy.”
This helps explain, in part, the relentless pursuit in recent seasons of new venues in developing nations (China, India, etc.) where government-subsidized circuits and rising consumer demand are hoped to help attract new commercial sponsors to the sport. But it is unsettling at best and scary at worst. With the advent of sporting regulation changes requiring engines, transmissions and other vital car parts to last for many races, the demise of special qualifying tires, spare cars and in-season testing, the basic parameters of F1 are shockingly different from its historical roots. Some see these as making competition better; others, like this author, see them as a threat to the fundamental nature of F1 as the epitome of automobile technology and engineering.
The New York Giants have an NFC East best 6-3 record, but their MVP quarterback has been struggling. Against Pittsburgh last Sunday, the 4th quarter magician managed a feeble three series, each three-and-out, as the Steelers came from behind to win.
Manning is the Giants’ guy who was busy making his own regular-season MVP case last month. The guy who has two touchdown passes and four interceptions in his last four games, and who has no touchdown passes and two interceptions in his past two. The guy whose quarterback rating has plummeted from 87.4 against San Francisco, to 78.9 against Washington, to 58.4 against Dallas, to 41.1 against Pittsburgh.
In 1967 — 45 years ago this June (the race was held earlier in the season in those days) — American Dan Gurney drove his own F1 car to victory in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. It remains the first and only US-built machine to win in the modern Formula One era, and was one of the prettiest F1 cars in history.
Watching Dan Gurney take his now-classic All American Racers Eagle-Weslake car around the slick circuit at Spa, while listening to him recant racing, and winning, back in 1967, makes this video really special. A machine of simplistic beauty, it’s amazing how much drivers accomplished back then with so little.
Gurney set a new lap record to catch and pass Jackie Stewart eight laps from the end and gain a maiden victory, by more than a minute, for the magnesium and titanium Eagle car. The light weight and advanced aerodynamics of the Eagle made it very fast, and Gurney shattered Tony Brooks’ record Grand Prix average of 143 mph (set some eight years earlier) on his way to victory. The Eagle was timed at 196mph on the straightaway, an extraordinary speed for a car with an engine producing (at that time) something less than 400 hp.
Spa was the first and only time in the 100-year history of Grand Prix racing that an American had driven a car of his own construction into the winner’s circle of an F1 World Championship event. No one has since duplicated this effort and is unlikely to do so as it has become far too expensive for an individual and a small, independent racing organization to attempt the feat.
As I said last season, when they made that impressive late-season run from Wild Card to Superbowl champions, the New York Giants are the new cardiac kids of the NFL. In 2012, they’re at it again already. Even Tiki Barber agrees!
Has this become so routine now? Are we to the point where we just expect Manning to do something like complete 8-of-13 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter? Manning had one of the 10 highest yardage passing games in the history of the league Sunday, finishing the game with 510 yards of which his team needed every single one to complete its comeback victory over Tampa Bay. But it was his fourth-quarter brilliance that once again brings into focus what Manning means to the Giants. Which is absolutely everything.
It’s 2012 now, and this is G-Men 2.0, which means nothing means anything until the fourth quarter, whether it’s a single game or the season as a whole. NFL teams are usually defined by their head coach, and Tom Coughlin has proven to be a great one. But this team belongs to Eli. A bad call, an injury bug, a ridiculous loss to the Dallas Cowboys or three interceptions in 30 minutes, it doesn’t matter. The feeling is the same: Just wait for the fourth quarter.
It’s probably maddening to Giants fans, who must spend two and half hours cursing or biting their nails before the real game begins. But if they look at Manning, they’ll see a ho-hum calmness that should give them comfort. Eli reminds me of the quiet kid you never should have messed with.
I was privileged to attend Rory McIlroy’s winning final round at the 2011 U.S. Open. He’s amazing, but can anyone ever repeat the era of Tiger’s domination?
On a day when the leader board looked like golf’s version of The Avengers (Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Dustin Johnson, Lee Westwood & Tiger Woods), Rory McIlroy pulled away for a two-shot victory. He’s won three of the last four events he’s played in, including the PGA Championship, and he’s more than a decade younger than his closest rivals. How good can McIlroy get? Are we witnessing the beginning of a Tiger-like run of dominance on the PGA Tour?
For a defending SuperBowl champion and a team that retained nearly all of its key position players from 2011, the New York Giants get no respect. We’ll see tonight in the opening game of the 2012 season. I’ve been waiting all summer for Wednesday night!
They call it the Grand Prix of Baltimore, but it’s really just an IZOD IndyCar race. With eight full-course caution periods — caused by some silly crashes in one tight chicane and after rain fell for about five minutes — it was an amateurish affair. Still fun to watch, nonetheless. Ryan Hunter-Reay won, with former F1 driver Rubens Barrichello 5th.
For decades Penn State football fans claimed their program was different, better and purer than others-a model for all college sports. But former FBI director Louis Freeh’s 267-page report blew a hole through that claim last Thursday. It is withering, thorough, believable: When Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno, school president Graham Spanier and others were told that Sandusky was molesting children, they all felt bad. For Sandusky.
The whole Sandusky scandal is revolting. This quote from Michael Rosenberg of Sports Illustrated captures the disgust which most Americans feel towards the once-proud institution. Joe’s family protests, but taking down his statue and revoking the record-setting coaching victories was the least that could be done to restore some modicum of respect to college football.
I’m not a reactionary liberal and think the personal loyalty shown towards Sandusky was admirable. But when one is talking about serious child abuse for more than decade, a crime is a crime, just as much now as in 1998. Not reporting this serial child molester to the authorities for prosecution — and at the very least severing his ties to the Penn State football program, which facilitated his evil — is and remain completely inexcusable. We can only hope Paterno is red-faced in his grave.