Monthly Archives: May 2016

2016 F1 Grand Prix of Monaco — Results & aftermath

Hamilton regains mojo on streets of Monte Carlo as Rosberg falters; Ricciardo 2nd after pit foul up; Perez a surprise P3 for Force India

All season long Lewis Hamilton has been looking for the breaks to start going his way just as they had done his past two championship seasons with Mercedes. This Sunday in Monaco, in the most glamorous Grand Prix of them all, Hamilton’s woeful 2016 luck finally turned around when the Englishman got a break of his own and drove a superb race to grab the win and perhaps alter this year’s title narrative. On the tight street circuit, which last year saw his team throw away a certain victory with a poor strategy call, Hamilton benefitted greatly when team Red Bull also blew it in the pits for their then-race leader, pole-sitter Daniel Ricciardo. With the race starting under yellow for several laps in the rain and the track remaining wet once the weather passed and the contest finally got going in earnest, Hamilton’s strategists made the gutsy call to stay out on full wet weather tires until a true dry lined formed and then jump straight to slicks rather than easing onto intermediate wet tires first. Red Bull played it safe and stuck to that more conventional intermediate tire decision at first. Then Ricciardo, cruising with a handy lead, was called in for another pit stop for slicks on Lap 31 to match Hamilton in rapidly drying conditions. But Ricciardo’s crew was somehow caught by surprise and had no tires ready for the Aussie. In the ensuing mad scramble for rubber, Ricciardo saw his 35 second lead over Hamilton evaporate and by the time he he exited the pit lane he saw the sickening sight of the the Silver Arrow streaking by him at full chat. Hamilton, perhaps feeling he was owed one after last year’s screw up, knew exactly what to do with this gift and aggressively kept Ricciardo behind him for the rest of the race. At one point he even cut a a corner of the Nouvelle Chicane and practically shoved Ricciardo into the armco to keep him behind. While Ricciardo protested, the stewards made no call and that was as close as the crestfallen Aussie would ever get. As the laps wound down, the Red Bull’s tires went off and Hamilton stretched his advantage, cruising his way to what must have been a very sweet and redemptive victory.

Pics courtesy

Pics courtesy

Even sweeter for Hamilton his teammate and archival Nico Rosberg had a dismal race. Two weeks after the Mercedes duo took each other out on Lap 1 in Spain and earned no points, Rosberg saw his championship lead slip down to a mere 24 points with a poor seventh place finish. Plagued by brake issues right from the rainy start of the race, Rosberg could muster no real pace and had to hold off inferior cars for most of the day to even finish in the top 10. Even more galling, Rosberg was pipped at the very death by Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg for P6, a 2-point swing. After three consecutive victories in Monaco, Rosberg was dealt a significant setback in the Herculean effort required to snatch the Championship title away from his cocky English teammate. All the momentum that Rosberg had at the beginning of the season appears to have gone away these last two rounds. It remains to be seen whether the German’s sometimes fragile confidence can hold up to yet another sustained assault by Hamilton or if Rosberg will wind up wilting under the pressure and Hamilton will be crowned king yet again.


Force India not only placed Hulkenberg solidly in the points with his last-minute P6 but even better saw his Mexican teammate Sergio Perez hold off Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for the last step on the royal podium with a tenacious P3. Despite his seemingly inferior car, Perez drove an excellent race in both wet and dry after qualifying P8 and it seemed as though Vettel’s Prancing Horse had nothing for the Mexican, especially after struggling first to get by the Williams of Felipe Massa in the last third of the race. But while Vettel had to settle for P4 his teammate Kimi Raikkonen clipped the wall on Lap 11 destroying his front wing and forcing the Finn’s premature retirement from the race. All in all a very poor showing from Ferrari in the premier race of the season, one aided and abetted by their subpar qualifying form.

On the other hand, McLaren showed continued improvement, with Fernando Alonso grabbing an impressive P5 and Jenson Button a decent P9. It would not be surprising to see McLaren compete for their first victory since 2012 before the year is up and put an end to that astounding run of futility for the storied team. Rounding out the Top 10, Toro Roso’s Carlos Sainz drove well for P8 and Felipe Massa outperformed his teammate Valtteri Bottas for the last points paying position at P10. Bottas had to settle for P12, behind Esteban Gutierrez after he was penalized 10 seconds for contact with the upstart Hass driver.

Joining Raikkonen in a race that always features a high number of DNF’s, Red Bull’s wunderkind Max Vertappen continued his habit of smacking the barriers just as he had done in practice and qualifying and crashed out in the race, a hard landing back to reality after his storybook win in Spain in his debut with the A-team. Both the Renaults of Jolyen Palmer and Kevin Magnussen also retired due to crash damage. And the Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr pulled their own mini-Mercedes act when Ericsson lost patience waiting for team orders to force Nasr to move aside and tried a dive-bomb move down the inside that ended both their races. For the struggling Sauber team it was a costly and foolish dust up, as there were no points on the line and Nasr likely would have let Ericsson by eventually.

Top 10 finishers in Monaco:


Complete race results available at

The next race is in Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix in two weeks. Hope to see you then!

2016 F1 Grand Prix of Monaco — Qualifying results

On the biggest stage in the F1 world and after seeing his precocious new teammate Max Verstappen grab a race win in Spain two weeks ago, Daniel Ricciardo showed that both his and Red Bull’s resurgence were no fluke with a strong run for pole in Monaco. Ricciardo beat out the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg by over a tenth while teammate Lewis Hamilton had to scramble for P3 after engine troubles delayed his quail run in Q3. Proving that success can be fleeting, last race’s hero Verstappen put his Red Bull into the always-encroaching walls on this tight street circuit in Q1 and will start from the back of the pack on Sunday. Rosberg is gunning for his unheard of fourth win in a row on the Principality’s streets but it looks like Ricciardo has everything he needs to put an end to that streak come Sunday and grab the win for himself.

Sebastian Vettel was a displeased P4 for Ferrari while Vettel’s teammate Raikkonen could muster no better than P6. Nico Hulkenberg exceeded expectations for beleaguered Force India with an excellent P5 and his stablemate Sergio Perez was not far behind in P8. The two Toro Rosso’s were also split with Carlos Sainz P7 and Daniil Kvyat P9. And Fernando Alonso was fast enough for tenth on the grid in the improving McLaren.

Top 10 qualifiers for the Monaco Grand Prix:

1 3 DANIEL RICCIARDO  RED BULL RACING 1:14.912 1:14.357 1:13.622 21
2 6 NICO ROSBERG  MERCEDES 1:14.873 1:14.043 1:13.791 24
3 44 LEWIS HAMILTON  MERCEDES 1:14.826 1:14.056 1:13.942 21
4 5 SEBASTIAN VETTEL  FERRARI 1:14.610 1:14.318 1:14.552 23
5 27 NICO HULKENBERG  FORCE INDIA 1:15.333 1:14.989 1:14.726 25
6 7 KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN  FERRARI 1:15.499 1:14.789 1:14.732 25
7 55 CARLOS SAINZ  TORO ROSSO 1:15.467 1:14.805 1:14.749 23
8 11 SERGIO PEREZ  FORCE INDIA 1:15.328 1:14.937 1:14.902 28
9 26 DANIIL KVYAT  TORO ROSSO 1:15.384 1:14.794 1:15.273 23
10 14 FERNANDO ALONSO  MCLAREN 1:15.504 1:15.107 1:15.363 26

Complete qualifying relates available via

Tomorrow’s race coverage begins live at 8:00 AM Eastern on NBC Sports here in the States. Hope to see you then to start the biggest day of the year in motorsports in inimitable Monte Carlo style!

Men’s Cologne — Burberry for Men

Sometimes when you’re picking a fragrance for the day you’re just looking for something that smells good but isn’t earth-shattering in terms of power or complexity. You could call it a daily driver, the kind you wear to the office or for casual occasions with friends but not the scent you reach for when you’re trying to really stand out and make a major impression. Burberry for Men is that kind of plug-and-play, user friendly cologne.

Created way back in 1995 and originally called Burberry London, this one was Burberry’s first masculine and has been definitively shuffled aside by the company in favor of their newer, trendier scents like Brit, Rhythm and Mr. Burberry. They don’t even advertise it anymore really. But thankfully this old standby still remains in production. Burberry for Men is somewhat atypical of that Aquatics-infused 90s era in that it strives to be more of a classic gentlemen’s Woody Aromatic fragrance, with warm notes of cedar and sandalwood in the heart and a touch of amber and vanilla in the base. But there’s an unmistakable hybrid Fougère feel, as well, because what really makes Burberry for Men stand out (as much as it’s ever going to) is the big blast of mint in the top notes when you first spray it on. Yes, there is also some lavender and bergamot there in the open, along with thyme throughout the drydown, creating a very nice herbal/citric boost. But it’s really the mint that grabs your attention. This is why I feel that Burberry for Men is probably one of the best eye-openers in the cologne world. This Eau de Toilette-strength juice is ideal for mornings to accompany your cup of coffee after getting out of the shower. It smells good and manly and is definitely stimulating to the senses, a refreshing but sophisticated way to start your day.


Burberry for Men has moderate sillage & projection, strong enough for someone else to notice for sure but always polite. It smells very good for about 5 hours, with the minty-herbal quality lingering but mellowing and blending with the woody accords as they come to the front and hints of dry carnation also peaking through. I don’t really get the jasmine that’s listed in the notes pyramid, but there is definitely unobtrusive musk, amber and tonka in the base, with any “oakmoss” more of a whisper in the current formulation. At the end of its life on the skin, around 6 hours, it starts to come apart and smell a little stale verging on slightly sour, probably a result of the current construction relying more on synthetics than in the old days. But that’s OK because by then you’ll most likely be ready for something else for the evening hours anyway, a scent that stands out a little more and has a bit more of an aggressive personality than this pleasant but essentially anodyne fragrance.

In short, Burberry for Men is indeed manly in a slightly old-school fashion, good for daily wear during the daylight hours at the office and in casual settings and is a great eye-opener to get you going in the morning. If it’s not really an all-time great men’s cologne with huge balls and projection it is still quite solid on its own terms. Because sometimes you’re just looking to smell good while you go about your business, not draw a lot of attention to yourself like you would if you were wearing a powerhouse like Antaeus or Oscar de la Renta’s Pour Lui. So Burberry for Men is a fine pick for when you don’t want to to think too much about what you’re wearing but still be secure in the knowledge that you’re putting something really nice out there to the world. In fact, people of both sexes, especially the ladies, seem to really like it, however much I might be damning it with faint praise. So reach for this one with confidence for daily use — Burberry for Men is still a winner.

What we’re listening to — The E Street Shuffle by Bruce Springsteen

I sometimes feel that Bruce Springsteen is a victim of his own popularity as well as his perceived New York/New Jersey-ness, often dismissed these days as more of an institution than great artist, a touring extravaganza for nostalgic old East Coasters. But the length and breadth of his musical accomplishments places him firmly in the realm of the greats of Rock, somewhat so obviously that, like a certain type of Hall of Fame athlete, you take him for granted until you start revisiting his oeuvre. I consider him part of the Big 3 of 1970s power pop singer-songwriters along with Tom Petty and Bob Seger, all artists of great integrity and short story-like lyrical brilliance who also share the same talent of being able to surround themselves with phenomenal backing bands.

On 1973’s The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle, recorded two years before the breakthrough smash Born To Run, you can hear the young Springsteen growing by leaps and bounds and handily shedding the “New Dylan” moniker/trap that weighed heavily on so many talented artists in the 70s. The album contains the all-time concert fav “Rosalita” among several other standouts. But it’s the semi-title track, “The E Street Shuffle,” that gives a glimpse of the future for The Boss in terms of lyrical dexterity in painting a vibrant, multi-character milieu with a now-effortless rush of impressionistic words in contrast to the somewhat self-conscious overwriting of his debut Greetings From Asbury Park. Just as importantly, the track is the fullest realization yet of what would become the E Street Band’s trademark ultra-propulsive interplay between rhythm, melody and a big band sound that would lead to so many smash hits in the very near future.

The fully integrated sound that would lead Born To Run to such great musical heights is in full swing on “E Street Shuffle” with dazzling percussion, horns led by the dearly missed Clarence Clemmons’ big barroom sax and oddball instruments like a very wet and bouncy electric piano, as well as sizzling switches between Springsteen’s funk-inflected rhythm guitar and his incisive leads (the great Steve Van Zandt had not yet joined the band). Starting with a brief New Orleanian horn tune up, the song winds up being four and half minutes of unbridled joy and ecstatic catharsis, a tune about a party in the streets that sounds like a party in the studio. That there is a false ending and the last 50 seconds or so goes out with a nearly Isley Brothers-ish, oh-so-early-70s waketcha-waketcha boogie down guitar and horns orgasm makes this kick-ass track all the better.

“The E Street Shuffle” shows Springsteen and the E Street Band very near the peak of their rapidly developing powers as crafters of great American narrative Rock ‘n Roll. The characters spring to life with muscular, impressionistic lyrics, a Springsteen hallmark that would only become magnified with time. And the genuine ebullience and optimism of “E Street Shuffle” would be carried over and amplified on Born To Run but then begin to quickly fade into something much more pessimistic about the broken promises of the American dream with the edgier Darkness On The Edge Of Town, the very sad, downtrodden The River, the misunderstood, highly disillusioned Born In The USA and then the utter despair of Nebraska. Revisiting “The E Street Shuffle” it’s nice to hear a young Bruce and his compatriots healthy, vibrant and bursting at the seams with joy.  All the more so because, just like most things in life, that spirit of unbridled optimism wouldn’t last.

As a bonus, here is a pretty friggin’ great live version from 2012 in Denmark where Bruce & the band are joined by the Roots for a good ol’ fashioned block party sing-a-long. From all the miles he’s traveled and the ups and downs he’s been through, The Boss’s enthusiasm for performing and collaborating still shines though and it’s clearly infectious even on an entirely new generation of musicians. The energy the two bands are giving each other while sharing the stage is a joy to behold.

2016 F1 Grand Prix of Spain — Results & aftermath

Red Bull debutante Verstappen becomes youngest ever F1 Grand Prix victor after Mercedes drivers knock each other out on opening lap; Ferrari unable to stop wunderkind’s win, finish P2 & P3

In a race that unfolded more like a Hollywood script than a Formula 1 contest the inexplicable somehow transformed into the inevitable on Sunday at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. Despite another front row lockout from team Mercedes, their two talented drivers let their fierce competitiveness overcome their good sense, destroying the team’s day in an instant. As pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton saw himself passed at the start by his archival Nico Rosberg he desperately tried to regain the lead exiting Turn 3 by swinging sharply across the track and to Rosberg’s inside. But Rosberg, slowed now by being in an incorrect engine mode, appeared to coldly shut any perceived opening by jinking to the right, forcing Hamilton onto the grass and into a spin. The Englishman’s out of control Silver Arrow then came back onto the track, tagging Rosberg in the rear and sending the German points leader, as well as Hamilton, into the gravel trap at Turn 4. In an instant both Mercedes’ team cars were beached, broken and out of the race. The previously peerless team had lost the opportunity for a potentially perfect season, Rosberg saw his winning streak snapped at seven races and Hamilton failed to gain any ground in the Drivers’ Championship. While officially the team refused to apportion blame to either driver after debriefing Nikki Lauda did finger Hamilton for an overly ambitious move. Regardless, the incident would never have happened with a little more patience by Hamilton and a little more respect by Rosberg. In the end it was 43 valuable Manufacturers’ points down the tubes for Team Mercedes before the end of Lap 1.

Pics courtesy

Pics courtesy

But Mercedes’ misfortune opened the door to something truly remarkable: Max Verstappen’s first Grand Prix win in his maiden drive for the senior Red Bull team. After replacing Daniil Kvyat during the break between Russia and Spain, all eyes were on the Dutch wunderkind as the race weekend progresssed in Barcelona. And come Sunday he didn’t disappoint. With the dominant Mercedes duo cleared from the field of combat before the end of the first lap that put Verstappen in P2 and saw his veteran teammate Daniel Ricciardo leading the race. Very shortly they would be joined by the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen and that quartet would dual each other in one configuration or another for the rest of the race. As it happened, Red Bull decided to split their strategy, putting Ricciardo on a 3-stopper while electing to have Verstappen only pit for tires twice. Eventually that enabled Verstappen to come out ahead of both Ferraris with Raikkonen his closest pursuer and shuffled Ricciardo back to 4th behind Vettel after the Aussie’s third stop on Lap 45. That’s how they would remain for the rest of the tense race, with Raikkonen hounding Verstappen for the lead and Ricciardo hounding Vettel for the last spot on the podium.

But Verstappen didn’t wilt under the pressure from Raikkonen’s Prancing Horse and the veteran Finn could never find a way past the youngster despite pulling close a few times with the aid of DRS on the start-finish straight. Continue reading

2016 F1 Grand Prix of Spain — Qualifying results

Mercedes’ Hamilton rebounds with dominant pole in Barcelona, Rosberg second best in qualifying; Ricciardo grabs P3 for surging Red Bull

After a run of tough luck that saw him playing second fiddle to his streaking Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton regained a measure of momentum with a dominant pole in Saturday qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix. Bedeviled by gremlins in his last two quali efforts, Hamilton’s Silver Arrows had no issues as he dusted off his points-leading rival Nico Rosberg by an impressive quarter of a second. But Hamilton must covert his P1 start into victory to begin to claw back an advantage on Rosberg, who has won all four races so far in 2016 and a stunning seven in a row dating to last season. If the defending champ can have a clean run to victory tomorrow he might be able to get back into Rosberg’s head and begin working on undermining the German’s heretofore unflappable confidence just as he has done in the past.

Team Red Bull not only made the biggest news with a huge personnel shakeup during the fortnight between the last race in Russia but also seemed to confirm that their chassis is improving by leaps and bounds. Red Bull made the dramatic move of promoting teen sensation Max Verstappen from their junior Toro Rosso team and demoting the controversial Daniil Kvyat back down to Toro Rosso, from whence he originally came. Perhaps eyeing a future where other powerhouses like Ferrari might come courting the Dutch wunderkind, Red Bull made sure to lock him up in one of their premier seats for the foreseeable future. But coming as it did after Kvyat had two race-altering incidents with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the prior two contests the timing did seem a bit like a rebuke to the Russian. Regardless, Red Bull were all smiles after seeing Ricciardo grab P3 on the last lap of Q3 with Verstappen also coming in at a very competitive P4 in his first outing in earnest in his hot new ride.

The improved performance of Red Bull’s RB12 spelled bad news for Ferrari, as Kimi Raikkonen was pushed back to P5 and Sebastian Vettel to P6. Continue reading

Rolex Collector’s Notebook: The mystery of the “Neat Fonts” matte meters-first 5512 Submariner dial

Grateful thanks for this article go to timlua and HQ Milton for kindly contributing their dials and data. Thank you, gentlemen! I’m also especially indebted to the great collector & Man’s Fine Life contributor Beaumont Miller II, not only for sharing his watch photos but also for his invaluable insights about the “Neat Fonts” dial, its place in matte dial chronology and particularly his excellent observations on its similarity to the mid-1960s gilt Sub dials. My heartfelt appreciation for sharing your expertise, my friend — couldn’t have done this without you!

One of the things that makes collecting vintage watches so interesting, and Vintage Rolex in particular, is trying to decode the subtle changes that took place in ostensibly “identical” watches those many years ago. We see evolutions in movements, in cases but most intriguingly we see variations in dial layouts and typography. And just when you think you’ve figured out a dial sequence and its logical chronology, something else out of the ordinary comes along and makes you look at things with fresh eyes.

timlua's 5512 from the VRF Dial Archive -- the watch that put me on the hunt

timlua’s 5512 from the VRF Dial Archive — the watch that put me on the hunt.

Such is the case with what I call the “Neat Fonts” matte meters-first 5512 dial. I first saw this interesting dial several years ago, when a Vintage Rolex Forum member named timlua submitted his mid-1960s 5512 for the Dial Archive. I knew I had to have one… and it took me 8 more years to hunt one down. As you can clearly see and what struck me right away, the printing on this dial is not at all like what we normally see on the first generation of matte meters-first 551x dials.

A standard matte meters-frist dial -- courtesy HQ Milton

A standard matte meters-first dial — courtesy HQ Milton

Those first gen matte dials for the Submariner have always had a particularly “first draft” quality to my eye, with rather scraggly fonts and slightly uneven printing. And it makes sense that Singer, undertaking their first try at this new matte-style of dial manufacture and departing their tried and true gilt/gloss method of dial printing, might have had some teething issues with their printing techniques. But not so the “Neat Fonts” 5512 dial. You can already see the clean typography that would become a hallmark of the later 1960s and early 1970s Singer dials: nicely proportioned, flat-ish bottom Coronet with a small “mouth”; SUBMARINER text very clean with a distinctive snake-like “S”; and the depth rating pretty level with minimal jump to the numbers and open 6s.


In fact, the “Neat Fonts” dial does not resemble the Mark I meters-first Sub dials at all. It actually resembles the pre-Bart gilt/gloss dials of the middle 1960s with their high standards of printing and execution. So much so that aside from the application of the SWISS – T<25 you might even think that Singer used the same dial dye for the process. Perhaps they did after figuring out how to utilize that gilt-era dye/tampon, which featured a reverse printing method, and apply it to the paint-on-top method of the matte dials. But more likely they returned to it as a template for the new matte-style dye and that is why they are so similar if not quite identical.

5513gilt-coronet 5512MetersFirst-coronet

5513gilt-depth 5512MetersFirst-depth

It also shares some characteristics with the Mark III Red Submariner dial, particularly the fonts for the depth rating, the SCOC text and the odd little feature of the dash in the “SWISS – T<25” not quite being centered over the “30” tick.

Photo courtesy Beaumont Miller II

Photo courtesy of Beaumont Miller II


Photo derived from Vintage Rolex Forum's Classic "Everything Red Sub" by Mark Lerman

Photo derived from Vintage Rolex Forum’s Classic “Everything Red Sub” by Mark Lerman

(If you visit the great site you can also see that the SCOC text on the Neat Fonts and Mark III Red Sub is highly similar in format/style to the Mark I 1665 Double Red Sea-Dweller, indicating another connection there.)

Making this iteration even more interesting is that unlike just about every no-date Sub Rolex ever made, the “Neat Fonts” dial is always to the best of my knowledge found only in 5512s and never 5513s. Continue reading

2016 F1 Grand Prix of Russia — Results & aftermath

Rosberg reigns supreme in Russia to continue undefeated 2016 start; Hamilton battles back for 2nd; Raikkonen salvages 3rd for Ferrari after Vettel knocked out in first-lap crash

Nico Rosberg continued a flawless start to his 2016 Formula 1 season with his fourth consecutive victory in four races. The Mercedes driver and championship points leader started from pole in Russia and sped away as the lights went out, never to be touched by the chaos that unfolded behind him. No one could challenge his lead the rest of the race and he solidified his status as this year’s driver to beat. Not coincidental to the supremely confident start to his season, Rosberg’s win in Sochi was his seventh victory overall dating to last season, making him only the fourth driver in F1 history to achieve such a feat. The German contender, who is seeking his first-ever Drivers’ title, now has a daunting 43-point lead over his closest pursuer, teammate and archival Lewis Hamilton.

Pictures via

Pictures via

But Hamilton managed a gritty drive of his own after engine troubles in qualifying relegated him to P10 on the starting grid. The current consecutive World Champ clawed his way through the field, exhibiting just enough patience to leaven his usual aggression and fight toward the front, finishing and impressive P2. Again, however, there were some problems with Hamilton’s engine even amidst his impressive comeback run and he was forced to back off his pursuit of Rosberg with a water pressure issue. If Hamilton can get any luck going his way it’s clear that he is still a match for anyone on track, including his teammate. But with as well as Rosberg is driving and how fortune seems to have turned its favor upon him, Hamilton needs for his team to quickly bulletproof his Silver Arrow if he is to pose any real threat going forward and contend for victories on even footing.


Ferrari had yet another frustrating, topsy-turvy day. Their ace, Sebastian Vettel, who qualified P2, received a 5-spot grid penalty for a gearbox change, meaning he had to start back in P7. And being pushed into the midfield cost Vettel dearly when the Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat punted his Ferrari from behind not once but twice as they made their way through the opening corners. Continue reading