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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!