I’m Watching… #4: F1, IndyCar, DTM, WTCC, TdF

I watch too much racing. What have I been watching over the last three weeks?

Formula 1 – British GP 2010 *live*

Modifications to Silverstone promised much but didn’t really live up to the hype, but I kind of guessed that much after seeing it in person a few months ago – it seemed there was just as much an opportunity to pass as there was at the old Abbey chicane with no net improvement, I guess Brooklands is a better place for it though with the entire Luffield stand there (and the BRDC clubhouse of course.. Cynical? Me??).

The race was fairly straightforward for the most part with Webber and Hamilton checking out on a field which had got bottled up behind Kubica and Rosberg if I recall correctly, not aided of course with some fast guys starting lower down the order so unable to give the leaders a good race. Things livened up considerably following the Safety Car for de la Rosa’s broken wing, it was good to see Vettel carve his way through the field and apparently putting to rest this myth that he can’t pass. The question is, how much was he aided by the f-duct? It also seemed like some drivers weren’t defending fully and seemed to leave the door open a bit between the new section and Brooklands, that was until he reached Sutil who made him fight for it. Adrian had a good race all round in fact, he was combative all day and it was great to see.

I wasn’t as bored as I might have been because this was the debut of the ‘race tracker’ on the BBC site, a tool provided by FOM which shows the location of the cars on-track in real time. This proved to be very useful because TV can’t show everything at once and I reckon it’ll quickly become an indispensable part of following F1 for those of us who don’t already have one of the various live timing mobile apps.

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IndyCar – Toronto *live*

I missed the Watkins Glen race as I was travelling back from the Festival of Speed (final instalment coming up soon, folks!). There was a lot of Twitter excitement in the lead up to Toronto with the current staff of Planet-IRL on the grounds as well as the incomparable Meesh, with two of those three being residents of the city and the third trying a non-oval for the first time there was a bit of a buzz even from them let alone everyone else. It is good to have the race back on the schedule because it is a real test for the drivers and it attracts an enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowd.

It isn’t always one of my favourites though – it is always a crashfest and this year was no exception. It was really embarrassing to have so many accidents and incidents throughout the race, often it barely got started again before the next crash happened. Yet this race was still exciting. Who was the next to go out? Who could hang on?

They were all trying to win the race on each restart despite Turn 3 being a notable overtaking opportunity which could’ve been exploited with patience, Toronto rewards drivers who keep their head and remain calm – all too many fell victim to red mist. Perhaps surprisingly two of those in the former camp were Paul Tracy and Danica Patrick, it was interesting that Tracy was the only KVRT driver not to suffer accident damage given his old reputation! Patrick put in a solidly impressive drive, perhaps not passing all that many but not getting involved in stupid accidents either, very professional and a marked return to old form. Got to feel for Justin Wilson who dominated the entire weekend before spinning late in the race of his own accord, he put in a stirling recovery drive passing many cars to finish 7th. This one was a hard-fought battle of survival and the ‘usual Penske-Ganassi 1-2’ absolutely doesn’t reflect that, this race’s story was bigger than the headline result.

DTM – EuroSpeedway 2009 (Rnd 2 of 10)

A largely boring and tedious race which suddenly picked up after 50 minutes when the strategies unwound. Paffett and Spengler stayed out while everyone else made their first stops, and remained on track even while some drivers made their second stops. It worked for them – after their first stops it was hard to see what was going on for a while, until it became apparent their lap times after their first stop were faster than Ekstrom and di Resta who had stopped twice. It was midly interesting to watch the time gaps increasing as Gary and Egon Bruno tried to build up a buffer in which to make their stops. I was surprised by the margin of their advantage when they did eventually come in and emerged a good 3 or 4 seconds up on the others, that’s a long way in DTM terms.

WTCC – Valencia 2009 (Rnds 9+10 of 24)

I said last time that I’d never seen a good race at the Ricardo Tormo circuit.. Well you can strike that, because in the very same weekend as that dire F2 race the World Touring Cars put on a great show, for the first race at least. Passing up and down the order throughout the field – okay the front three were static almost throughout with the SEATs driving away, but the race wasn’t any worse off for it as we saw battling throughout. The second race was somewhat calmer and the BMWs walked it after their customary excellent standing starts.

Tour de France – Highlights

I’ve been geeking out on ITV’s hour-long highlights shows, often leaving them a few days before gorging myself on 3 or 4 in a sitting. I now have Phil Liggett’s voice imprinted in my brain, but this is no surprise as the same happened last year. This has really distilled down into a two-man fight between Spain’s Alberto Contador (quite Alonso-like I think) and Andy Schleck of Luxembourg. The great thing about this type of racing is you have a new race every day with different participants from down the field putting in a great stage-winning performance, with the continuing storyline of the leaders battling wherever they are in the day’s results. Sometimes they come in with the pack and nothing changes, the story is about that day’s winner (unless the bunch comes across together), sometimes they are fighting each other in the top five of the day. I actually haven’t seen Wednesday’s stage yet (hope to in the morning) and as the last mountain stage it should’ve pretty much decided the overall standings, the stages to come should have smaller time gaps available and the story may switch to the green jersey for sprint points. Of course, anything can happen in the Tour.

Coming Soon

I usually tick off more in 21 days but Le Tour has taken up a bit of my time as has a desire to cut down a little to give my brain a rest. I thought I’d watched the Catalunya MotoGP but I have absolutely no recollection of it so it can’t have been that good. I’ll be watching German MotoGP within a day or so, and of course this weekend we have Laguna Seca, the German F1 GP and Edmonton IndyCar. There’s more happening too, but even I can’t watch everything..

I’ll post another update in a couple of weeks.

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6 thoughts on “I’m Watching… #4: F1, IndyCar, DTM, WTCC, TdF”

  1. Liggett is a god among commentators, if only we had his kind talent in F1.. Help us old Ben, your our only hope.

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  2. I much appreciated the new tracker feed for the F1. What the BBC forget is that people have other things competing for desktop space during a race, offering a choice between having it in a normal browser-window, which is resizable but will have various bars wasting space, or a non-resizable pop-up that takes up much more space than the relatively small part that had the tracker view. I managed to open it in a resizable pop-up, but only by using some JavaScript I made earlier for such purposes. It would be nice if the BBC provided the same.

    Good luck with watching Wednesday’s stage – it was a rest-day! Thursday should be the crunch-day in the hills (the stage is on Eurosport as I type this but is yet to reach the critical climbs). The time-trial on Saturday will be important but I do tend to find the time-trials boring until towards the end. Of course, the laps around Paris on Sunday will horribly clash with the German GP. Drat.

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  3. Yes I just sat down to watch yesterday’s stage and discovered it was a rest day! I’ll be switching to the live stage on ITV4 a little later today I hope, I’ve some places to go beforehand and I’m not sure how long that’ll take.

    For the British GP I resorted to using my netbook for the tracker feed and live timing, keeping the desktop PC free for Twitter and Sidepodcast (it is far easier to type on the desktop machine). There is a problem of knowing where to look at a given time.

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  4. Maybe I am just old but I think the TV is the main place to look, with Live Timing and the tracker for if I want to clarify what is happening. I do leave Sidepodcast comments open, but almost entirely ignore it. I can not help but think that frequent commenting means people may be more concerned with the communal side than actually watching the racing.

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