2017 F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi — Results & aftermath

Bottas wins last race of season going away, Hamitlon P2; Vettel a distant P3

Mercedes #2 Valtteri Bottas finished out the season in style by winning the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi from the pole. His recently crowned 4-time World Champion teammate Lewis Hamilton came home a comfortable second and never seemed to push his Finnish wingman too hard for the victory, having secured the ultimate individual prize in Mexico some weeks back. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished a distant P3, a fitting end to a fleetingly promising season for the fabled Scuderia from Maranello. Their once robust challenge to Mercedes supremacy all began to fall apart in the second half when a first lap shunt between teammates in Singapore started a death spiral of unreliability that ended any realistic chance of a genuine title run. Vettel’s stablemate Kimi Raikkonen finished P4 after a lackluster campaign, once again begging the question of just why Ferrari have re-signed the aging Iceman for next season when there is so much hot young talent out there.

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen came home a decent P5, flying the flag for the team after Daniel Ricciardo suffered hydraulic failure on Lap 21. It was an unfortunate bookend to the affable Aussie’s season — he also DNF’d in the first race of the year way back in March at his home Grand Prix in Melbourne — and it seeded fourth in the Drivers’ points to Raikkonen. With better reliability Red Bull really would have challenged Ferrari for second overall and they’ll be hoping for just that next season, Further back in the pack Nico Hulkenberg overcame a 5-second time penalty for cutting a corner while passing his old Force India sparring partner Sergio Perez early in the race to take P6 for Renault. The result was doubly excellent for the veteran German in his first year with the squad, as it netted enough points to lift the factory Renault team into 6th in the Constructors’ standings ahead of struggling Toro Rosso. It was a very lucrative last race promotion that also bodes well for the French automotive giant’s chances next year.

Perez, whose incessant complaining about Hulkenberg’s unfair pass guaranteed the penalty from the stewards, could nevertheless not capitalize and finished P7. His Force India teammate Esteban Ocon was right behind in P8, wrapping up another excellent points haul for the little team from Silverstone and proving with that season-long consistency that their fourth place in the Constructors’ was no fluke. Two veterans rounded out the Top 10. Fernando Alonso took P9 for McLaren and will be looking forward to next year not only for a new Renault power unit but also for his double duty in sports cars at The Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona and in the WEC Championship for Toyota. And Felipe Massa finished up his 269th and final F1 race in the points in P10, capping a sterling 15-year career with crowd pleasing burnouts alongside the top two Mercedes as a massive fireworks display exploded around the dazzling Yas Marina circuit. It was a memorable and fittingly celebratory end to the little Brazilian’s outstanding Formula 1 career.

Top 10 finishers of the Abu Dhabi GP:

POS NO DRIVER CAR LAPS TIME/RETIRED PTS
1 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 55 1:34:14.062 25
2 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 55 +3.899s 18
3 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 55 +19.330s 15
4 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 55 +45.386s 12
5 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 55 +46.269s 10
6 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 55 +85.713s 8
7 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 55 +92.062s 6
8 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 55 +98.911s 4
9 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN HONDA 54 +1 lap 2
10 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 54 +1 lap 1

Complete race results available via Formula1.com.

Final 2017 Drivers Standings are here.

Final 2017 Constructors Standings are here.

2017 F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi — Qualifying results

Bottas grabs pole at Yas Marina, Hamilton takes P2 for Mercedes front row lockout; Vettel third fastest for Ferrari

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas made it two poles in a row to close out the season in good form, laying down a record fastest time at the beautiful day-into-night Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. Bottas bested his recently-crowned World Champion teammate Lewis Hamilton by .17 seconds to take the top starting spot for tomorrow’s Grand Prix, the finale of the exciting 2017 F1 campaign. Hamilton tried hard, his Silver Arrow squirming into the final turn at the very edge of adhesion as the checkered flag flew in Q3. But he couldn’t quite overcome his Finnish wingman’s earlier fastest lap and will line up in the #2 spot. Sebastian Vettel put in a typically sterling effort to elevate his Ferrari to P3 on the grid even if his Prancing Horse could never really match the pace of the Mercs at this flat, billiard table smooth and very speedy purpose-built track.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo split the Ferraris and also bested his teammate with a superlative final lap good enough for the 4th fastest time. That relegated Vettel’s teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, to the third row and P5 on the grid and Ricciardo’s stablemate, Max Verstappen, back to P6. Rounding out the Top 10, Nico Hulkenberg qualified P7 for Renault, Force India’s Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were back-to-back in P8 and P9 respectively and Felipe Massa will start from 10th in what will be his 269th and last Formula 1 race after a distinguished 15-year career.

Top 10 qualifiers for the Abu Dhabi GP:

POS NO DRIVER CAR Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:37.356 1:36.822 1:36.231 18
2 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:37.391 1:36.742 1:36.403 19
3 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:37.817 1:37.023 1:36.777 18
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:38.016 1:37.583 1:36.959 16
5 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:37.453 1:37.302 1:36.985 17
6 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:38.021 1:37.777 1:37.328 19
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 1:38.781 1:38.138 1:38.282 14
8 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:38.601 1:38.359 1:38.374 17
9 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:38.896 1:38.392 1:38.397 17
10 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:38.629 1:38.565 1:38.550 18

Complete qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s race airs live starting at 8:00 AM Eastern here in the States on NBC Sports. It is not only the last contest of the year but also NBC’s final broadcast with next year’s F1 rights going over to ABC/ESPN. So join Steve Matchett, David Hobbs & Leigh Diffy one final time to farewell not only Fomula 1 for the year but also a really excellent broadcast team who helped make F1 racing more approachable and enjoyable for the North American fans. Hope to see you then to see how the season ends!

Classic Movie Watch — On Dangerous Ground (1952)

It’s far too facile to call Nicholas Ray’s stark 1952 classic, On Dangerous Ground, a film noir. It certainly starts out that way with hardened cop Jim Wilson, played by the incomparable Robert Ryan, violently working his way through tarts and hoodlums in his obsessive pursuit of two cop killers. But quickly we see that Wilson is no hero. His partners are finding it difficult to work with him and his superior has had to give him increasing warnings about police brutality. From the opening shots of the film we see that Wilson is utterly alone and has only the job to live for, while one of his two partners has a devoted young wife and the other more senior one already has a large family. Worse still for Wilson, he is beginning to hate his job and himself by proxy. As Wilson sneers at one point “everyone hates a cop” on both sides of the law and “garbage is all we handle.” It’s readily apparent that violent self-loathing is beginning to consume Ryan’s masterfully curdled Jim Wilson.

But although On Dangerous Ground begins in the grimy urban shadow world typical of film noir it doesn’t stay there. Having cuffed around one too many suspects Wilson is given an assignment out of town and far upstate until things cool down for the wayward detective. A young girl has been murdered in a small country town and Wilson is sent up to help the local sheriff. Suddenly the movie drives out of a crime infested, artificially lit city and up into the stark and pristine mountains, eventually arriving at a sparsely populated wintry outpost that has been the scene of a horrible crime.

There Wilson meets Walter Brent and his family, whose young daughter has been slain. Brent, played by the square-jawed and tough Ward Bond, familiar from so many John Ford Westerns alongside John Wayne, is consumed by the need for revenge and vigilante justice. He is resentful and dismissive of the big city detective when all he wants to do is find his daughter’s killer and blow him away. Nonetheless, Wilson and Brent join together to pursue the suspected killer after he steals a car in town, following him even further into the mountainous wilds until they crash their car in the icy conditions. Their quarry has also crashed his car and they follow his tracks as best they can to a remote house in a barren, frozen landscape. There they meet a blind woman seemingly living alone, Mary Malden, played by the always excellent Ida Lupino. And now the source of tension changes yet again, as the detective and the bereaved father wonder if the blind woman is hiding or helping the assailant and Wilson begins to wonder if he can open his heart to this stubbornly independent yet tender and kind woman.

Once the action has left the city and moved to the rocky terrain the tenor of the film also changes. Upon repeated viewings there is a distinctive existential aspect to the manhunt and its implications, becoming almost an allegory. All of a sudden Wilson is the one upholding the law and trying to keep Brent from pursuing extra judicial action. It’s almost as if Brent is the ultimate extension of Wilson’s increasingly judge and jury approach to law enforcement in the city. In seeing it in another man he experiences a similar revulsion to that of his partners at his own over-the-line actions. And can the blindness of Mary Malden simply be a plot device or is there something more profound being implied there? After all, the famous statue of Justice is blindfolded and once Wilson comes into contact with this isolated blind woman his own angry defenses begin to soften and he begins to want to trust in the process of the law again over simple retribution.

It all makes for an extremely strange and intriguing police drama. Ray’s sense of story is inventive and never bound by the conventions of genre. The black and white cinematography is dark to the point of cinema verite with the vast outdoor spaces seemingly even more claustrophobic than the inky, densely packed city streets of the first third of the film. The tense mood is consistently heightened by the pulsing score of the great Bernard Herrmann, Hicthcock’s favorite composer. And the two stars are top notch. Ida Lupino, with her lovely eyes and husky voice, was always such a fascinating combination of tough and tender, a perfect foil for hard men, and never more so than in this brave and accomplished role. She was also a Hollywood groundbreaker as a female director at a time when that was almost unheard of and got her start in that pursuit by directing a few scenes in On Dangerous Ground when Ray was too ill to work.

But the movie’s center of gravity is Ryan’s hair-trigger Jim Wilson, a man drowning in his own exposure to the darkest aspects of human behavior, in others and those within himself. Made some 20 years before Dirty Harry, the cop in On Dangerous Ground is a direct progenitor of the kind of avenging urban policeman that Clint Eastwood portrayed so well. But whereas in Eastwood’s conception of Dirty Harry his vigilante violence is cathartic and necessary as a response to impotent bureaucracy in an increasingly chaotic and frightening world, for Ryan’s Jim Wilson the chaos is within and so the resort to violence is self-wounding and destructive of his humanity. His exposure to someone even more out of control, even more hungry for blood in Brent the avenging father brings him back to the belief in the power of and the need for the due process of the law. Of all the classic Hollywood leading men of the 1940s and 50s Ryan was the probably the least suited to that title. He was more like an anti-matinee idol, often specializing in heavies and unreliable neurotics. But there is not really another actor like him and his ability to channel an inner darkness was rarely matched. There’s just something about those jet black eyes of his that radiates menace even when he is a supposedly sympathetic character. That his Jim Wilson requires the help of a blind woman to save him from himself and that Ryan only grudgingly allows this redemption to happen makes this one of his most satisfying “heroic” roles in a career mainly distinguished by masterful portrayals of violent racists and psychopaths.

A final word on director Nick Ray, at least for now: Ray was undoubtedly one of the most interesting American directors to emerge from the post-WWII era. While trained to be a typical handler of studio projects, Ray constantly found ways of making routine material something more transcendent. Thus a movie like They Live By Night (1949) becomes a doomed romance rather than a simple crime spree movie. In A Lonely Place (1950) allows Humphrey Bogart to take his uncompromising tough guy persona to an unsavory extreme. Bigger Than Life (1956) is a seemingly typical 1950s domestic melodrama upended by James Mason’s frightening steroid-induced psychosis. The brilliantly stylized Rebel Without A Cause (1955) became the signature youth rebellion film of all time due to an intuitive grasp of a coming generational revolution and the absolutely perfect casting of James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo as the teenagers. And 55 Days At Peking (1963), Ray’s last major film after being dismissed late in the production, is a period war epic that allows the often monolithic Charlton Heston moments of wounded humanity that he only rarely revealed in his other films. And there are several other great films to his credit aside from these like The Lusty Men, Bitter Victory and Johnny Guitar, all well worth seeking out.

Ray had an obvious gift with actors, getting them to delve deep and really expose themselves and also a rare understanding of interior and exterior spaces as emotional contributors and activators (not coincidentally he studied architecture with Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1930s). All of his best talents of mining hidden depths in conventional material and making the most of limited resources are on display in On Dangerous Ground, possibly the most unusual film noir in the canon. It’s truly a movie of deceptive complexity and beautiful playing that rewards multiple viewings and reveals new levels of understanding each time. It’s hard to think of a better compliment to Ray’s unique cinematic talents than that and it’s an ideal jumping off point for further exploration of one of the more idiosyncratic of the major “Golden Age” Hollywood directors.

tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — November selection

The weather may have finally turned truly chilly but that only prompts thoughts of heading to a beach somewhere to enjoy some sun, sand and surf while everyone back at home freezes their you know whats off. And on offer this month is the perfect watch to accompany you on any Caribbean or South Seas getaway you may have planned — a late 1990s IWC Aquatimer 2000 GST ref. 3536.

This example of long discontinued and long admired professional grade dive watch has the more uncommon stainless steel case (most were made in titanium) with matching fantastically designed integrated bracelet. Better yet, this true tool watch from the great Schaffhausen marque comes complete with inner and outer boxes, manuals & IWC guarantee card (in Japanese), bracelet tools and a couple of extra links.

This example of 3536 features a rare mixed-media partially Tritium dial and hands. IWC did a very interesting and peculiar thing on the earlier examples of this model where they used Trit luminous for the “12” marking and for the hands (as well as the bezel pip) but Luminova luminous for the other dial markers. Odd & eccentric but kind of cool and sort of unique to IWC as far as I can tell. This version of Aquatimer dial has a real form follows function look to it and I greatly prefer the all-business, almost military style of this 3536 dial, especially with the Trit elements, to those models in the line that came after it.

Running like a top and ready for action this big steel IWC Aquatimer 2000 GST is ready for any aquatic adventure you’re likely to dream up. And if you find yourself stuck here in wintertime at least you can console yourself with a stylish, tough and rapidly-becoming-vintage classic on your wrist that can stand up to digging your car out of a snow drift and still help you cut a fine figure when you finally make it your office or evening’s engagement.

Check out the full ad with many more pictures and complete condition report right now over at the always hopping Omega Forums’ Private Sales sectionSOLD

2017 F1 Grand Prix of Brazil — Results & aftermath

Vettel victorious in Brazil, Bottas P2; Raikkonen finishes third while Hamilton roars back from the rear for P4

Sebastian Vettel and Scuderia Ferrari got a measure of redemption in Brazil on Sunday after coming up short in their quest for the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships. In the penultimate race of the season Vettel made a blinding start from P2, slipping past Mercedes pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas on the inside of Turn 1 and quickly pulling out a gap. Even after a multi-car melee behind the leaders led to a first-lap Safety Car Vettel was able to re-establish his advantage after the restart and control the race from the front, showing that for this weekend at least his Prancing Horse had the legs on the Silver Arrows. It all lead to a seemingly easy victory for the German 4-time World Champion, although Vettel claimed he had to be picture perfect in the middle sector all race long to hold Bottas off. It was also a much needed morale boost for the legendary team from Maranello after their second half swoon, which was fueled equally by unforced errors by drivers and engineering and ultimately resulted in their disappointing runner-up status. The victory at Interlagos also helped solidify Vettel’s number two position in the Drivers’ competition with his lead over Bottas ballooning to a very nearly insurmountable 22 points.

Despite a terrific qualifying effort that snatched pole from Ferrari on Saturday, Bottas’ Mercedes could not match Vettel’s race pace. The Finn made one or two vague challenges but essentially lost it at the start and had to settle for a relatively disappointing if comfortable P2. Likewise Vettel’s stablemate Kimi Raikkonen could never quite catch up to Bottas but drove a solid race to finish P3. Meanwhile Bottas’ teammate, newly-crowned 2017 champion Lewis Hamilton, had an amazing race to finish just off the podium in P4. Starting from pit lane after he shockingly binned his Merc early in the first round of qualifying, the team was able to break parc firmé and make several changes to the Englishman’s F1 W08. As well as aero tweaks Mercedes also installed a new power unit, which probably would have required grid penalties in the next race, the season finale in Abu Dhabi. Instead, despite his profound positional disadvantage, Hamilton tore through the field like a man possessed, slicing through back markers like a hot knife through butter. On an uncharacteristically sunny day in Sao Paolo with no aide from rain-induced strategy calls, Hamilton simply mustered the will to make it happen all on his own. In the end it showed once again why Lewis Hamilton is one of the all-time great F1 talents and truly deserving of his four world titles. Though Hamilton’s Super Soft Pirelli tires gave up at the end after a monster stint and he could not quite overtake Raikkonen for a podium his astounding fourth place must have felt nearly like a victory.

Behind the top four, Red Bull’s Max Vertsappen faded somewhat after a strong start where it looked like the young Dutch phenom might make the post-race champagne celebration. But the limits of his Renault power plant seemed to show themselves over the long run as the greater horsepower of the Ferraris and Mercedes pushed them out of his grasp. Verstappen had to settle for a distant P5, while his teammate Daniel Ricciardo did well to fight back after a first-lap spin to claim P6. Williams’ Felipe Massa earned an emotional P7 in his final home Grand Prix to the delight of the masses of his countrymen in the stands. The veteran Brazilian exited Sao Paolo with a clean and classy drive after tearfully crashing out during his rain-soaked false alarm last year.

Fernando Alonso continued McLaren’s upward ascent with a strong P8. Although next year will be extremely intriguing and demanding for the Spaniard with his plans to run not only the 24-Hours of Daytona in January but also at least a partial campaign for Toyota in the Prototype class of the World Endurance Championship, the two-time F1 champion has got to be looking forward to the switch to Renault engines to power what is seemingly a very competitive chassis. Unfortunately for McLaren, however, their second driver Stoffel Vanfoorne crashed out on the opening lap after getting tagged by Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, who also had to retire. Sergio Perez brought his Force India home to a P9 finish after his teammate Esteban Ocon had his race-finishing streak snapped via a collision with Romain Grojean of Haas, also on the opening lap. Grosjean got a 10-second penalty for the accident but was able to complete the race, albeit out of the points in P15. Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg landed the last points-paying position in P10 just getting the better of his teammate Carlos Sainz, who finished P11.

Top 10 finishers of the Brazilian GP:

POS NO DRIVER CAR LAPS TIME/RETIRED PTS
1 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 71 1:31:26.262 25
2 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 71 +2.762s 18
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 71 +4.600s 15
4 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 71 +5.468s 12
5 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 71 +32.940s 10
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 71 +48.691s 8
7 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 71 +68.882s 6
8 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN HONDA 71 +69.363s 4
9 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 71 +69.500s 2
10 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 70 +1 lap 1

Complete race results available via Formula1.com.

The next & final race is in two weeks time, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the gorgeous day-into-night Yas Marina Circuit. Hope to see you then to find out how the season ends!

2017 F1 Grand Prix of Brazil — Qualifying results

Bottas snatches pole from Vettel while Hamilton crashes out in Q1 during unpredictable quali at Interlagos; Raikkonen P3

In a stunning qualifying session for the penultimate race of the 2017 campaign in Brazil on Saturday newly crowned World Champion Lewis Hamilton crashed out on his opening lap in Q1. The Mercedes ace lost it speeding into Turn 7 at Interlagos, bashing his Silver Arrow heavily into the barriers sideways. While the Englishman was unhurt his pride probably wasn’t by the unforced error just two weeks after he claimed his fourth F1 title in Mexico City. It only proved that it can happen to the best of drivers but it opened up the chase for pole to his only true rivals this season, his teammate Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. And while Vettel looked like the favorite after laying down a track record lap relatively early in Q3, Bottas showed his mettle by besting that seemingly supreme time even though a light drizzle was falling and the checkered flag was waving. The Finn lifted Mercedes’ pride across the line with him at the death with a remarkable 1:08.322, good enough to take the pole and break Ferrari’s hearts. Vettel will start beside Bottas in P2 and his teammate Kimi Raikkonen will be right behind the Mercedes in P3. Hamilton, on the other hand, will have to start towards the back of the grid and will have to battle his way to the front, although other drivers facing grid spot penalties may move him up a spot or two by the time Sunday rolls around. Right now, however, the current F1 champ is starting from a lonely and lowly P20 after his very uncharacteristic cock up. (In fact it has just been announced that Hamilton will start from pit lane tomorrow, as Mercedes have decided to make changes to the car after the crash.)

The two Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo qualified P4 and P5 respectively but that success was somewhat illusory for the team. Ricciardo is one of the drivers facing engine-change penalties, 10 spots in his case, and so the affable Aussie was pushed back to P15 on the grid. And though Verstappen was spared any such FIA demerits the young Dutchman, winner of the last Grand Prix in Mexico two weeks ago, was forced to retrofit old components onto his ailing Renault engine. Verstappen could be heard complaining about shifting issues during qualifying and can only hope that his bad luck, so frequent in the earlier part of the season, doesn’t return in the form of yet more mechanical failures costing him a race finish. Sergio Perez was the lone Force India to make it into Q3 and had the 6th fastest time, while McLaren’s Fernando Alonso continued the team’s late season upward trajectory by qualifying an impressive P7 at this very fast circuit. The yellow factory Renaults of Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz were back-to-back with the 8th and 9th fastest times respectively. And Felipe Massa set the 10th quickest lap in what should really be his final Brazilian GP after last year’s tearful false alarm. It looks like the fine Brazilian veteran, who has the 6th most starts in Formula 1 history, will actually hang it up for good after being drafted back into Williams when Bottas made the unexpected leap to Mercedes following Nico Rosberg’s surprise retirement at the end of 2016. We can only wish Massa, a classy and plucky competitor with 15 F1 campaigns to his credit, the very best at his final home race as he heads for the exits at season’s end after a superb career.

Top 10 qualifiers for the Brazilian Grand Prix:

POS NO DRIVER CAR Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:09.452 1:08.638 1:08.322 22
2 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:09.643 1:08.494 1:08.360 21
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:09.405 1:09.116 1:08.538 18
4 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:09.820 1:09.050 1:08.925 18
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:09.828 1:09.533 1:09.330 19
6 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:10.145 1:09.760 1:09.598 21
7 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN HONDA 1:10.172 1:09.593 1:09.617 17
8 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 1:10.078 1:09.726 1:09.703 21
9 55 Carlos Sainz RENAULT 1:10.227 1:09.768 1:09.805 17
10 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:09.789 1:09.612 1:09.841 16

Complete qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s race airs live on NBC Sports starting at 11:00 AM Eastern here in the States. With wet weather always the wild card at Interlagos it could once again be the factor that shakes up the field and produces an unexpected result. Hope to see you then to find out how it all shakes out!

Horological Mythology: The Osmosis of Cool

In the world of watch collecting, one gets used to heady price tags and watching the those prices rise over the years. It’s logical, despite occasional anomalies like market corrections and bubbles, that desirable things go up in value over time. It equally adds up that in a time when wealth is more concentrated than it has been in decades, those who can afford to pay a lot for something can usually afford to pay a WHOLE LOT for something, and so dealers adjust their prices accordingly, and the rest of us have to pay up to keep up. C’est la vie.

But what in the world accounts for something like the $17.75 million we saw shelled out for Paul Newman’s own Rolex “Paul Newman” ref. 6239 Daytona at auction last week? The most paid for any watch ever. Theories abound, of course. The fact that a normal Rolex “Paul Newman” ref. 6239 Daytona is a somewhat rare and desirable watch in it’s own right is a good starting point. Add to that the sweet story about his wife gifting it to him, and Mr. Newman’s owning and wearing this particular watch throughout an exciting portion of his life (regularly racing cars and frequently seen in public generally being cooler and better looking than the rest of us), thus leading collectors in the 80’s to name the reference the “Paul Newman” in his honour, and we have a pretty solid explanation as to why this watch would be worth more than the “normal” Paul Newman. But a normal “Paul Newman” Daytona goes for about $200,000, so is the one that started it all really worth that much more, solely as an originator of a sect of the watch collecting world? I say no.

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2017 F1 Grand Prix of Mexico — Results & aftermath

Hamilton & Vettel collide on opening lap but Hamilton still earns 4th World Title with P9 finish; Verstappen class of the field to win Mexican GP going away

With Sebastian Vettel stubbornly clinging to a mathematical improbability to keep his championship hopes on life support and Lewis Hamilton vowing to win the Mexican GP outright and seal his fourth career Drivers’ title something had to give on Sunday. Sure enough, both supremely talented drivers refused to compromise their hard-charging styles when the lights went out at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. Starting from pole, Ferrari’s lead man faced an instant challenge from Red Bull’s upstart wunderkind Max Verstappen, who Vettel had just pipped in qualifying, as they streaked down the long front straight heading into Turn 1. Not content to play it conservatively and bide his time for the simple fifth-place or higher finish that would guarantee his championship no matter where Vettel finished, Hamilton shoved the nose of his Mercedes right in amongst the front two runners. The somewhat predictable result was 3-into-2 won’t go — when Verstappen made a power move to ward off Vettel’s Prancing Horse, damaging the German’s front wing as a result, Hamilton thought he saw an overtaking opportunity. But instead Vettel bounced back to the outside and sliced down Hamilton’s rear right tire with the now razor sharp remains of his wing endplate. In an instant the top two contenders had compromised their race and had to make first-lap pit stops. Hamilton’s fate was more severe, perhaps a just reward for tempting the racing gods with his ambitious hubris, as the Englishman had to limp his Merc around the length of the circuit at low speed with his deflated tire. After emergency service for both combatants Vettel rejoined in P18 and Hamilton dead last in P20.

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

It also seemed the injuries to Hamilton’s car were more severe than Vettel’s simple wing change, perhaps due to damage to the Mercedes’ floor, as the former had a lot more trouble picking off back markers and making his way through the field than the Ferrari. While the situation must have seemed desperate to Lewis, who even asked at one point whether Vettel had hit him deliberately (which could be forgiven after Baku), it soon became clear that the biggest possible threat to Hamilton’s desire to wrap up the Championship in Mexico was the reliability of Verstppen’s power unit at the front of the field. Red Bull had to be quite nervous as they saw first Verstappen’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo’s brand new Renault engine (which necessitated a penalty that saw the Aussie start from the back of the grid) suffer turbo failure on just Lap 5. Then other Renault-powered runners Nico Hulkenberg and Toro Rosso’s new man Brendon Hartley also suffer terminal issues (Hulkenberg’s Renault teammate also retired but this was due to steering issues). If Verstappen’s engine also failed late in the race, Hamilton’s Mercedes wingman Valtteri Bottas would inherit the lead but more significantly Vettel’s Ferrari stablemate Kimi Raikkonen would be elevated to P2. That would certainly lead to the Iceman being given team orders to let Vettel through and provide the German contender the desperately needed position to keep his championship hunt alive for the next race in Brazil.

It didn’t happen. Verstappen’s lead over Bottas was so commanding that he was able to minimize the stresses on his Renault power plant and make it to the checkered flag unchallenged and without drama. In the end, the superlative Dutchman won the race by nearly 20 seconds. Bottas held his second for the honor of Constructors’ Champion Mercedes and Raikkonen salvaged third on a day that seemed to encapsulate the squandered promise of 2017 for the fabled Scuderia from Maranello. Vettel roared back for a valiant P4 but it wasn’t enough to prevent seeing his title hopes extinguished. Hamilton finished P9 and joined Vettel in the ultra-exclusive 4-time World Champions club alongside the great Alain Prost. Only Michael Schumacher with 7 and Juan Manual Fangio with 5 have more championships than Hamilton now. If it wasn’t quite the way he pictured himself taking the title in the end that will be a pure footnote. Hamilton did what he set out to do at the beginning of the season following his disappointment over coming second best to his now retired teammate Nico Rosberg last year. He has now won his fourth crown and has clearly marked himself as one of the top drivers of this or any other generation. Simply put, Lewis Hamilton is a Hall of Fame Formula 1 driver.

The rest of the field was pleasantly shuffled due to so many retirements (5 DNFs in all): Force India had another fantastic day, their best of the season in fact, that saw their talented young Frenchman Esteban Ocon come home an impressive P5 and local hero Sergio Perez take P7 in front of his adoring countrymen in the grandstands. That secured fourth in the Constructors’ points for the little team from Silverstone, a massive — and massively lucrative — achievement for this low budget team. Lance Stroll was back in the points for Williams, driving a smart and well-composed race to finish P6. That it came on his 19th birthday must have been all the sweeter. Kevin Magnussen also excelled for Haas at a track where the team really struggled because of the high altitude. Magnussen was able to bring his chassis home in the points in P8. And Fernando Alonso grabbed the last points-paying position for McLaren in P10, although the Woking-based team had to be a bit concerned by all of Renault’s unreliability in this race, as they are jumping to that engine manufacturer next year while ditching the increasingly steady Honda.

Top 10 finishers of the Mexican GP:

POS NO DRIVER CAR LAPS TIME/RETIRED PTS
1 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 71 1:36:26.552 25
2 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 71 +19.678s 18
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 71 +54.007s 15
4 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 71 +70.078s 12
5 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 70 +1 lap 10
6 18 Lance Stroll WILLIAMS MERCEDES 70 +1 lap 8
7 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 70 +1 lap 6
8 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 70 +1 lap 4
9 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 70 +1 lap 2
10 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN HONDA 70 +1 lap 1

Complete race results available via Formula1.com.

The next race is in but two weeks time — the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, the penultimate contest on the 2017 F1 calendar. The big prizes may have already been awarded but with only two races left before the long, cold winter break best to tide yourself over with some more great Formula1 memories to carry you through those long, dark nights ahead. Hope to see you then!

2017 F1 Grand Prix of Mexico — Qualifying results

Ferrari’s Vettel bests Red Bull’s Verstappen for pole in Mexico City; Mercedes off the pace with Hamilton P3, Bottas P4

Showing the fight of a true champion, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel laid down a track record lap of 1:16.488 for pole in the rarified air at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City on Saturday. Still mathemeaically alive in the Drivers’ Championship, albeit barely so, Vettel earned his 50th career pole by besting Red Bull’s ultra-quick wunderkind, Max Verstappen, by a scant .09 seconds. Verstappen had looked like the quicker man coming into Q3 but the young Ducthman, driving with a chip on his shoulder after being denied the podium by the stewards a week ago in Austin, couldn’t quite hook his laps up in the final qualifying round. Still, the Red Bull man was faster than both Mercedes, who struggled for outright pace against their usually inferior rivals a week after securing their fourth consecutive Constructors’ title. Points leader Lewis Hamilton, who can secure his fourth championship even if Vettel wins by finishing fifth or better on Sunday, could muster a time good enough for only P3 on the dusty, low-grip circuit. His wingman Valtteri Bottas vaulted himself to P4 on his only timed run in Q3 after a promising early attempt was spoiled by nearly colliding with a slowing Verstappen in the final sector (this tike Vertsappen escaped the stewards’ wrath). So for once in that proverbial blue moon the mighty Mercedes look like the third fastest cars on track, an unusual position to say the least and one that may be caused by the shortness of the circuit and the longness of their wheelbase. However the race could be a different proposition, particularly as the Silver Arrows are at least grouped to fight together while Vettel & Verstappen’s teammates are both separated from them further down the grid.

In fact, Ferrari #2 Kimi Raikkonen will start behind the two Mercs in P5, while the second Red Bull of Daniel Riciciardo looked a bit lost and could do no better than a P7 time. The affable Aussie saw himself bested by Force India’s Esteban Ocon, who qualified ahead in P6. The young Frenchman also outdid his teammate and archrival, Mexican national Sergio Perez, by a considerable margin. Perez could manage no better than P10 despite the passionate encouragement of his countrymen in the stands for his home Grand Prix. Rounding out the top 10, Nico Hulkenberg pipped his new Renault teammate Carlos Sainz, P8 to P9.

Top 10 qualifiers for the Mexican GP:

POS NO DRIVER CAR Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:17.665 1:16.870 1:16.488 20
2 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:17.630 1:16.524 1:16.574 19
3 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:17.518 1:17.035 1:16.934 21
4 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:17.578 1:17.161 1:16.958 17
5 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:18.148 1:17.534 1:17.238 20
6 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:18.336 1:17.827 1:17.437 19
7 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:18.208 1:17.631 1:17.447 15
8 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 1:18.322 1:17.792 1:17.466 17
9 55 Carlos Sainz RENAULT 1:18.405 1:17.753 1:17.794 17
10 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:18.020 1:17.868 1:17.807 19

Complete qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s race airs live on NBC at 3PM Eastern here in the States. Can Vettel live to fight another day or will Hamilton issue the coup de grâce and be crowned 2017’s champion? Might Verstappen steal the spotlight from both veterans by laying down a marker as next year’s man to beat? Hope to see you then to find out!

Earworm of the Day — Love Is A Long Road by Tom Petty

The untimely death of the great Tom Petty a few weeks ago forces us to look back in wonder at his amazing career and his frankly unbelievable trove of fantastic songs. There are very few American artists in any popular song-making genre who were able to sustain such a prodigiously satisfying output while also experimenting within what was ultimately a singularly unique personal style. Dylan, of course, and probably Springsteen and Paul Simon. But after that I’m at a loss.

Love Is A Long Road

“Love Is A Long Road” is a sterling example of Petty remaining true to his earliest rock instincts even while pursuing new artistic directions. Off of his first solo album, 1989’s Full Moon Fever, and relased at the height of his collaboration with his Traveling Willbury’s bandmate, Jeff Lynne, the song is  a standout among such blockbuster hits as “Free Fallin’,” “Running Down A Dream” and “I Won’t Back Down” precisely because it doesn’t resemble them. Rather, it’s classic Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, less slick and more emotional than those other chart toppers. You can draw a straight line from earlier dark horse standouts like “A Woman In Love (It’s Not Me)” and “Straight Into Darkness” right to “Long Road” and clearly see its intense similarity by way of raw emotion and well-constructed gritty rock dynamics. It’s also a wonderful showcase for Petty’s uniquely evocative voice and it’s no wonder it remained an Easter Egg-like staple in his live arsenal even though the song never charted.