I admit, I didn't watch last weekend's race all that closely. We'd arranged for a watch party at Six Lounge downtown, and the place was fullish. People had seen the invitation on Twitter, on Facebook, were told by friends, and decided to come out and see the race with other people. Novel! Full disclosure, my usual race-watching environment involves sweat pants, multiple flagons of coffee, and a baby who is either crying, sleeping on me or desperate to get that stuffed lion. Needless to say, A) thank Jebus for DVR and B) praise be to Gozer for the pause button. It was nice to change things up for a change.
So the joint was hopping, people were mingling, there was free food, there was a fully involved "I'm divorcing you" quality iRacing rig, and there was beer. And there was a race on every TV in the place, of which there were many. Anything good happen?
I just don't get all that excited about the Singapore GP. Coming after two races that so perfectly encapsulate all that's holy about F1, Singapore feels more like a PR parade. It has the potential to be exciting, to be sure. Of all the races on the calendar, this one is the Death Star trench run. But not the one from the movie. That one's a cakewalk. Just avoid the incoming fire from the towers and keep the fighters at bay. This is the one from the video games, where you have to juke and avoid girders and pirouette around barricades and debris while Imperial buttholes shoot at you from every possible angle. Except Darth Vader isn't stalking you from behind. He's ahead, pulling away, and looping back around to take you down one more time, just for fun.
Vettel lives on a separate planet from us mere mortals... a Jedi in the cockpit, using the Force to drive at a level so far above what everyone else is capable of on even their best day. But his 2011 campaign is not so reminiscent of the days when Schumacher dominated race after race, season after season. You don't hear the squawking of the defeated complaining about his faulty racecraft or unsportsmanlike behavior in the corners. There just isn't much you can say about the kid to impugn his skill, demeanor or ambition. Maybe it'll get boring after a while, but fornow I can appreciate knowing we are watching, occasionally in real-time, the crafting of a Legend.
Did some exciting stuff happen? Hamilton seems to be caught in a self-destructive, self-fulfilling prophecy born of frustration, anger and fear. To keep with the Star Wars analogy, he's dangerously close to slipping over to the Dark Side. His shunt with Massa, following some foreshadowing in qualifying, is more evidence that his frustration with the car and with his luck is not especially compatible with his 11/10ths driving style. Look up the definition of slip angle. As a driver, it seems like he has exceeded his this season.
Button. Another second place, and with a stomach bug, to boot. I've been a fan of JB since I first started watching F1 in earnest in 2003. No matter how many races he wins (ostensibly, coming in second this season is winning) or times he places on the podium ahead of his teammate, he will always be the Number Two to Hamilton. And he will sadly never be a Legend. Which is a shame given his skill and the fact he was World Champ in '09 with that freak anomaly that was the Brawn GP car, but maybe depending on your point of view that's not such a big deal. Talking with others who call themselves fans, there is a solid appreciation across the field for a driver who races each event like it's a chess match, plotting out moves laps in advance, adapting his tactics to changing conditions, recognizing opportunity and being able to capitalize on it with a split second's notice. He's intelligent, methodical and disciplined. Have you ever watched unedited film of a cheetah hunt? Hunker down in the grass. Watch. Follow. Watch. Follow. Unedited for MaxExcitement, it's a fairly boring affair. Then sprint sprint sprint, tackle, choke, eat. Awesome. I called Button for having a great season in my first post this year, and it seems I was correct. I can't come within three touchdowns calling a recent football game that shall go unmentioned, but here, what can I say. Called it. And yes, maybe a slight man crush. My wife is OK with this.
Apart from Schumacher's Merc making the beast with two backs with an otherwise impressive Sergio Perez (he was later reprimanded, for those who griped Hamilton was punished with a drive-through for an almost identical incident... kind of hard to enforce a drive-though when your car isn't actually in the race anymore) then nearly doing the Webber, I didn't see a whole lot of what I'd describe as classic F1 excitement on this track. Not that it was necessarily a bad race. Singapore is essentially an endurance race. The heat and humidity, the number of laps. It's a slog. Pair those issues with the narrow and totally unforgiving street circuit itself, and you have one of my least favorite races on the calendar. That's just me, although the drivers seem to agree. But live, on the marina with the lights and the noise and the smells, God I bet that's one to attend.
Next week we stay in Asia... it's that wicked twisty figure-8 called Suzuka.