Ferrari locks out front row at Sochi with Vettel taking pole, Kimi P2; Mercedes on the back foot in quali with Bottas besting Hamilton, P3 to P4
If there were still doubts about Ferrari’s surprisingly strong start to the 2017 season after three strong rounds for the fabled Scuderia they were laid to rest during Saturday qualifying in Sochi, Russia when the two Prancing Horses locked out the front row for an F1 race for the first time since 2008. Sebastian Vettel put in a storming lap with time running out in Q3 to pip his teammate Kimi Raikkonen for the pole by less than half a second. The excellent pace of the two Ferraris knocked both Mercedes Silver Arrows off the front row, an usual sight in the new turbo era to say the least. Even more unusual, Mercedes ace Lewis Hamilton was pushed out of the top 3, out-qualified by his new teammate Valtteri Bottas for the second week in a row. Hamilton finds himself starting from fourth position on the grid aside Bottas’ superior P3. Obviously come race day the getaway from the line will be paramount for this contending quartet. But Ferrari have clearly shown that they have an advantage in getting maximum performance out of the new generation of extra wide Pirelli rubber, which has enabled them to seriously challenge Mercedes’ formerly unquestioned dominance. And in Vettel they have a driver with the supreme talent to wring the utmost out of this excellent and much improved new SF70H chassis and compete with a superstar like Hamilton on even terms for victories.
Further back on the grid, Daniel Ricciardo did very well to bank a lap good enough for P5 after the Red Bulls had struggled to find outright pace on the very low abrasion Sochi Autodorm circuit. The veteran Aussie’s time was signifcantly better than his wunderkind teammate Max Verstappen’s, who could do no better than P7. Splitting the Red Bull duo was the Williams of Felipe Massa, who qualified P6 and showed that perhaps the Williams is finally beginning to find some consistent speed after an underwhelming beginning to the season. But rookie teammate Lance Stroll could do no better than P12 and Team Williams will need more from their young Canadian driver if they are to start banking those ever-valuable Constructors’ points on a regular basis. Nico Hulkenberg was excellent once again, pulling his factory Renault within shouting distance of the contenders in P8, his third Top 10 qualifying effort in a row. And overachieving Force India also performed well, with Sergio Perez taking P9 and the impressive young Frenchman Esteban Ocon quick enough for P10.
Tomorrow’s race airs live starting a 8 AM Eastern on NBC Sports here in the states. Can Ferrari follow up their impressive qualifying with a matching 1-2 when it really counts or will Mercedes find the race pace to deny the Scuderia that fervent wish? Hope to see you then to find out!
All that intriguing history aside, this fine neo-vintage chronograph is definitely a stunner in the here and now. Faithful in nearly every way to the original versions, this all-steel screw back watch features the classic Carrera-sized 36mm wide case with its iconic long, angled lugs. The black dial — these 1964 Re-Editions also came in silver but the black is the sexier version, IMO — features fine white contrast printing for the decimal track and engine-turned black sub-registers, as well as an inverted pie pan outer silver minute track. The original Tritium luminous has acquired a lovely ivory patina through the years on both the dial and the perfectly matching, uniquely Heuer-shaped hands.
Under the hood is the legendary Lemania cal. 1873 chronograph movement — essentially the same movement that has powered Omega’s Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch from 1968 on — beautifully finished by Heuer with what appears to be rhodium plating and sporting 18 jewels. This robust caliber is a worthy successor to the venerable Valjoux 72 movement that powered the original 1960s three-register Carreras and all chrono functions are super crisp with timekeeping and power reserve excellent. Complimenting this racing-inspired watch beautifully is a modern shell cordovan rally strap, which also has this model’s genuine Heuer-signed “B” buckle installed.
Running like a top and costing a fraction of what an original vintage black manual Carrera would run you these days, this CS3111 Re-Edition is top quality genuine 60s style at an affordable price. Snap it up, strap it on… and go!
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel made another emphatic statement that he and his team are up for a season-long championship fight against mighty Mercedes with a sparkling drive to victory under the lights at the Bahrain International Circuit. Once again willing to gamble on tire strategy, Ferrari rolled the dice early on an undercut for Vettel with an early pit stop on Lap 10. It seemed to backfire almost instantly on the Scuderia when a Safety Car emerged on Lap 13 following a collision between Williams’ Lance Stroll and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz. The Mercedes duo then dove for the pits simultaneously under the full course yellow flag along with several other runners, including the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo. But in having to service both Bottas, still leading from pole at that point, and Hamilton at the same time the Mercedes duo were forced to stack up and Hamilton wound up slowing significantly in front of Ricciardo. The pokey pace was deemed egregious by the stewards and Hamilton was levied a tough 5-second time penalty for impeding Ricciardo. That would prove pivotal because while Hamilton worked his way past Ricciardo and his faltering teammate Bottas in his effort to get back up to Vettel he was put irreparably on the back foot by having to spend those 5 extra seconds in the pits to serve the penalty. Despite running significantly faster than Vettel on fresher Soft compound Pirellis as the laps wound down the gap could not be overcome by the Mercedes ace and in the end Vettel scored his second victory out of three races to start the season, hitting the checkered flag over 6 seconds to the good. It looks to be well and truly game on for a fierce Ferrari versus Mercedes/Vettel vs. Hamilton battle all year long. And that could lead to a very special Formula 1 season.
Bottas, who scored his first ever pole position on Saturday, struggled with his overall pace in comparison to the top two finishers. While he was able to hold off a charging Vettel in the opening laps the Finn couldn’t maintain his lead for long and wound up shuffled backwards with persistent oversteer after that first controversial pit stop. Good enough to fend off all but Vettel and Hamilton, Bottas came home a distant P3, ceding the question of team leadership unequivocally to Hamilton. Still, it was a solid day after his inexplicable spin behind the Safety Car two weeks ago in China and good for the Mercedes #2’s overall confidence.
Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen was once again underwhelming, coming home in P4 after never really being in the mix for a podium. Ricciardo was game but his Red Bull was not strong enough to challenge the frontrunners in the cool and dry nighttime desert conditions on this high deg track. The Aussie finished P5 but his talented teammate Max Verstappen unfortunately crashed out on Lap 11 with brake failure. Felipe Massa had a very good drive for Williams showing his car’s outright pace in the straights and staying out of trouble to take a valuable P6. Romain Grosjean got his first points of the year with a P8 for Haas and Nico Hulkenberg made it two races in a row in the top 10 for Renault at P9. Rounding out the Top 10 little Force India placed two drivers in the points for the second consecutive contest with Sergio Perez crossing the finish line in 6th and young Esteban Ocon coming home in P10.
The next race is in two weeks time from Russia at the Sochi Autodrome. With these new cars already scheduled to go through their first in-season development in the interim and Mercedes and Ferrari so closely matched after three races Round 4 should be a key contest to find out who can gain that elusive advantage. Hope to see you then!
Bottas takes first career pole by besting Mercedes’ teammate Lewis Hamilton; Vettel qualifies P3 for Ferrari
Intent on atoning for his inexplicable spin behind a Safety Car last week in China first year Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas scored his first career pole in Bahrain. Bottas pipped his more heralded triple World Champion teammate Lewis Hamilton by a razor thin .023 of a second. The Finn and former Williams driver showed his quality in a hot car under the lights on the cooling track and will be hunting his first F1 victory in tomorrow’s race. But as any F1 fan knows besting Hamilton in race competition will be harder said than done. Then again Bottas has a chance to prove that the real intra-team Mercedes competition did not end with Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement at the end of 2016.
Bottas not only kept his teammate behind him but also finally the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. For the first time in this young season Vettel was unable to get on the front row after splitting the Mercedes duo in the first two fast Saturdays of 2017. Vettel will start from P3 on the grid. His teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who was a little too vocal with his displeasure for the Scuderia’s liking in China en route to a fourth place finish, was unable to line up next to him and will start in P5. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo bested Raikonnen by sneaking in a fast lap good enough to claim P4, while his exciting young teammate Max Verstappen, who added to his legend with another monster drive in the wet in Shanghai, could do no better than P6 at the ultra-dry Bahrain International Circuit. The Renault factory team had an impressive effort after a frustrating start to the season, showing rapid development to their engine & chassis that enabled Nico Hulkenberg to take a very strong P7 and junior teammate Jolyon Palmer able to make it into Q3 for the first time in his career with a solid P10 time. Now the yellow Renaults have got to try to put it all together in a race and grab some points. Rounding out the Top 10, Williams’ Felipe Massa took P8 and Romain Grosjean will start P9 for Haas.
Tomorrow’s race airs live starting at 10:30 AM Eastern on CNBC here in the States. Can Bottas take his first ever F1 victory? Or will Hamilton and Vettel resume their duel for supremacy? Can a Red Bull get into the mix and make their claim as a serious contender? Hope to see you then to find out!
Dunhill Edition is another older but still excellent Aromatic Fougerie, that ultimate gentlemen’s genre of fragrance that seems to have gone largely out of fashion in recent years. Created in 1984, 50 years after the original Dunhill for Men debuted, Edition is completely different then its legendary forebear. Unlike that pre-War masterpiece, Edition doesn’t emphasize floral notes like iris and jasmine but rather warm spices, wood and the fougere staples oakmoss and vetiver. Dunhill Edition is also a quality fragrance that actually develops as you wear it, unlike so many that promise to do so with an elaborate note pyramids but remain essentially linear, smelling not that much different hours later from when you first sprayed it on. No, Dunhill Edition is a many-layered fragrance in the best traditions of English perfumery, opening with a strong soapy vibe redolent of bergamot, a dry lemon, lavender and oakmoss. The soapiness is definitely less green that that of Van Cleef’s classic Tsar but the two share a similar potent barbershop vibe that can come across as a little heavy on first application. But also like Tsar, Edition begins to soften after the first half hour with a very nice spicey clove note as well as some nutmeg coming to the fore and balanced by refined clary sage, which I always seem to enjoy in my colognes. But Antaeus this is not — the sage is noewhere near as sharp and there are no funky animalic notes in Edition’s composition. Instead, it remains polite and refined, as one might expect from this classy house famed for its fine cigars, with some subtle masculine flowers like carnation and geranium in the mix, as well as tonka bean to sweeten things as it begins to dry down (ironically you’ll find no tobacco in either Dunhill for Men or Edition). In the late stages the vetiver and oakmoss continue to radiate from the base, mingling with a very pleasant fir note that plays off the tonka beautifully.
Although often rumored to be discontinued, Dunhill Edition seems readily available and at extremely reasonable prices considering the apparent quality of the ingredients. It can be had for around $30 for 3.4 ounces, a pretty good deal in my book. Along with the original Dunhill for Men, Edition makes a solid addition to any man’s cologne cabinet, particularly those who enjoy timeless classicism rather than chasing trends. Projection is moderate except for that opening blast and sillage is solid but pleasantly diffuse, creating the impression of a well-groomed man not trying too hard to be noticed but nonetheless smelling effortlessly good. You definitely wear this Eau de Toilette-strength juice, it doesn’t wear you. Longevity is a good 6-7 hours depending upon heaviness of application and personally I think the late dry down where you can really smell the woods mingling with the sage and cloves is the best part, which makes Edition a pleasure to wear from beginning to end. I’d say this is more of a daytime wearer, ideal for office or semi-formal social occasions where restraint is appreciated. But if you wore this for an evening out it would’t be the worst thing in the world by a long shot. I also feel like Edition is one of those uncommon true all-year colognes, where the lavender and citrus elements work well in warm weather and the clove and oakmoss shine in colder temps. So if you like the more old school styles of masculine perfumery where there’s not an aquatic, melon or fake ambergris note in sight but you’re not quite in the mood for the knockout 1980s leather power of de la Renta’s Pour Lui or Maxim’s Pour Homme I’d say Dunhill Edition is well worth sampling and perhaps including in your collection. Along with a Saville Row suit and a well-crafted pair of Loake shoes the understated and classy Edition fits right in with any well turned out gentleman’s wardrobe.
Hamilton back on top in Shanghai, Vettel a close 2nd; Verstappen P3 after another wonder drive in the wet
Mercedes’ hard-charging ace Lewis Hamilton was back to his winning ways at the Shanghai International Circuit dominating the Chinese Grand Prix from pole and taking his first victory of the year. In the new season’s second contest Hamilton avenged his defeat two weeks ago in Australia by driving a masterfully fast and controlled race and keeping all comers in his rearview mirrors. In the end, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was the closest contender on a damp day following up his victory in Melbourne with a solid P2 some 6.25 seconds adrift of the English Mercedes driver. Vettel proved again that the new Prancing Horse will be a force to be reckoned with and a genuine threat to mighty Mercedes’ recent run of unchallenged dominance. The two most talented drivers from the most competitive F1 factory teams are now tied in Championship points and it looks for all the world that we will be treated to a genuine nip-and-tuck year long chase between teams and star pilots to see who comes out on top.
As good as Hamilton and Vettel were special mention must be reserved to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. The 19-year-old wunderkind started way back in P16 after mechanical issues ruined his qualifying effort. But just as he put on a passing clinic in the rains of Brazil last year the Dutchman once again excelled in wet conditions in China, making up a ton of positions right after the lights went out to start the race and then carving his way through tougher traffic. After hustling and dicing with essentially all the top contenders including both Ferraris and Hamilton’s Mercedes, Verstappen found himself dueling with his teammate Daniel Ricciardo for the last podium place as the laps wound down. Despite the more experienced Aussie’s pressure tactics and his keen desire to repay his junior partners exception earlier pass on him Verstappen held on for P3, another amazing drive in this talented kid’s growing legend. For Ricciardo the disappointment over missing out on a podium must have been eclipsed by his strong P4 finish and ability to contend with the best drivers in the field after an utterly miserable DNF at his home Grand Prix in Australia a fortnight ago. It should be interesting, however, to see if Red Bull can replicate these strong performances in the perfectly dry conditions that as we are sure to have in Bahrain next weekend, as their Renault power plant still seems down on pure power.
Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen was again not quite up to speed and complained throughout the race about lack of torque. Unable to stick with the elite pack and bested by Vettel for a second race weekend the Iceman settled for a P5 finish. Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas also had a disappointing day with an inexplicable spin behind the safety car early on costing the Finn big time. Continue reading →
Mercedes’ Hamilton shatters track record in Shanghai for pole; Vettel again P2 for Ferrari, Bottas P3
Saturday qualifying for the first two races of the season have now produced identical results. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton smashed the 13-year-old track record previously held by the great Michael Schumacher to grab pole position at the Shanghai International Circuit for tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix. But just like two weeks ago in Melbourne Ferrari showed that they are ready to mount a legitimate challenge to mighty Mercedes. With the checkered flag flying in Q3 the Scuderia’s ace Sebastian Vettel, the race winner in Australia, pipped Hamilton’s Mercedes’ teammate Valtteri Bottas by a thousandth of a second for P2. And once again Bottas was superior to Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen, P3 to P4. It seems like there will finally be a genuine two-team chase for the Championship this year because Ferrari’s development during the off season has been a revelation. The Prancing Horse and their new chassis have clearly got the firepower to take the fight to the Silver Arrows, as well as the pilots to execute a winning game plan. And that can only be good for Formula1. All that said, tomorrow’s weather in Shanghai is not looking great and we could have a wet weather start where strategy becomes even more important than race craft. So not only the contending drivers will be feeling the pressure come race day but also the respective Mercedes and Ferrari brain trusts. With Ferrari’s race-winning strategic coup in Melbourne the ball is clearly in Mercedes’ court to prove they can think as fast as their cars drive.
Further down the field Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo recovered from his homeland horror weekend a fortnight ago to set the fifth fastest time. This despite some technical issues on his car yet again at the start of qualifying and ominous engine problems for his teammate Max Verstappen that saw the wunderkind unable to escape Q1. Verstappen will start way back in P19. But if there is rain we could be treated to another spectacular Rain Meister passing performance by the kid a la his wonder drive through the field in Brazil last year. Either way, Red Bull have got to be seriously concerned about the early signs of unreliability in their Renault power plant.
Rounding out the Top 10 Felipe Massa was P6 for Williams and his rookie teammate, Canadian Lance Stroll, acquitted himself decently with a time good enough for P10. Nico Hulkenberg was P7 for the factory Renault team, while Sergio Perez was P8 for Force India and Daniil Kvyat took P9 on the grid for Toro Rosso.
Sauber rookie Antonio Giovinazzi, subbing for the injured Pascal Wehrlein, was already through to Q2 but still pushing hard on his final Q1 run when he crashed heavily just before the start-finish line as time ran in that first session. The young Italian driver was thankfully unhurt but his misfortune also scrubbed promising laps by Force India’s Esteban Ocon and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne, relegating them to the back of the pack. And the Sauber team has a long night of work to get the totalled car race worthy for tomorrow.
Tomorrow’s race coverage starts at the ungodly hour of 2:00 AM Eastern here in the States and will be broadcast on NBC Sports, so set your DVR or pull an all-nighter. Between the remarkably tight Mercedes-Ferrari competition and the serious threat of rain to throw the cat amongst the pigeons you don’t want to miss this one. Hope to see you then!
A brief, shining 1970s phenomenon, the Florida family act Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose were essentially a two-hit wonder. Featuring very tight pop production and wonderfully controlled yet gritty lead vocals from Eddie Cornelius the quartet cut the incredibly catchy, string-heavy classic R&B pop single “Too Late To Turn Back Now” in 1972. Showcasing the band’s excellent lyrical dexterity that acted as a hook of its own — “I believe, I believe, I believe I’m falling in love!” — “Too Late” charted at #2 on the US Pop charts, outdoing its R&B status by three positions.
Their eponymous debut album also featured the Booker-T & the MGs-inspired “Treat Her Like A Lady”, a nicely funky story song with a moral about how to get the babes by being a gentleman. If it wasn’t exactly the political consciousness of Curtis Mayfield or Sly & The Family Stone, “Treat Her Like a Lady” was still on the right side of the moral equation and a propulsively danceable aural delight. It made it to # 3 on the Pop charts but only #20 for R&B, confirming that the band’s true niche was more Top 40 than true Funk or Soul.
If they never again reached those giddy heights, the band still had some good music tucked away on their LPs. “Don’t Ever Be Lonely (A Poor Little Fool Like Me)” is a sweetly catchy self-pitying number in the Tyrone Davis mold (sans the great TD’s Chicago-by-way-of-the-Deep-South soulfulness)…
…and “Big Time Lover,” the standout title track from their second album, played the reformed ladies man card just right, another fine entry in the long tradition of Rock and R&B “I used to run around ’til I met you, baby” cuts.
Though the Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose fizzled out just as quickly as they hit the big time, with both brothers Eddie and Carter finding very different religious callings later in the 70s, the songs they left behind are still a candy colored pleasure to listen to. Caught in a zone of pre-disco and scrubbed-clean Soul the band’s better efforts are simple, enjoyably well-executed pop records with a pleasing R&B veneer. And sometimes, in an age where modern R&B vocalists and production values can be at once cruder and more histrionic, that kind of clean, straight forward attack to making a 3-minute single can come across as mighty refreshing. I highly recommend picking up their greatest hits, The Story of Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose. Just as much as their trademark gaudy leisure suits they’re a 70s footnote but a damn enjoyable one.