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    F1 Racing Wrap Up, 49ers Charging Up, and Rivalry Week in College Football

    Colby Michaels

    By Colby Michaels–

    F1 Grand Prix Season Wrap Up

    In auto racing news, the final F1 Grand Prix (GP) race of the season was the inaugural F1 GP race on the Las Vegas Strip. After a star-studded party and music performances on Welcome Night, the first practice race was a nightmare.

    Under the bright lights of a rare, nighttime F1 race, a manhole cover popped up and destroyed one of the driver’s cars (driver ok, team owner not happy). The entire street track had to be checked and manholes sealed with cement instead of bolts, causing an hours-long delay for Practice 2. Fans who paid good money were told to leave, and F1 got a second practice running much later that ended at 4 am PST!

    Practice 3 was a relatively clean affair except for a wayward tire that bumped a wall, stopping the race with four minutes to go.

    The qualifying races were very interesting. Here’s how they work: in 15-minute intervals, 20 cars start in Q1. The five race car drivers with the slowest times are eliminated. The same goes for the 15 cars in Q2. Q3 determines the top 10 order, and the all-important pole position (the fastest driver who wins Q3).

    Several big-name drivers did not make the top 10, so multiple drivers vied for the top winning trophy on a rare Saturday night GP. Almost all GP races are on a Sunday, and the Vegas race was the first such one on a Saturday night. Drivers’ and pit crews’ body clocks were definitely out of whack that weekend.

    The race itself consists of 50 laps, and Max Verstappen won, as many predicted. But we had some major excitement on the last lap of the race to the checkered flag as Charles Leclerc overtook Sergio Perez in the last lap to take second podium. This F1/GP event drew an estimated 315,000 fans and generated $1.7 billion over the three-day weekend for the Las Vegas economy. It was a pretty sweet and profitable debut.

    F1/GP Season Finale

    For the Abu Dhabi GP from November 24–26, millions of dollars were at stake for the teams and drivers based on where they ended up in the final rankings. The practices and qualifying rounds went about as expected, with Verstappen and sponsor Red Bull again earning the pole position (sigh), with Leclerc/Ferrari second, and Aussie rookie Oscar Piastri third on the grid for team McClaren. While Max and Red Bull already claimed the Drivers and Constructors trophies, this 58-lap race had Mercedes and Ferrari just 4 points apart for second place. Four drivers were within 12 points of each other to fill out the fourth to eighth places, and win the tens of millions of dollars that go to the higher-placed finishers.

    In a clean, no crashes, last race of the F1/GP season, Verstappen easily won his 19th race. It was an absolutely dominant season for the Flying Dutchman, as no other F1 driver has racked up that many wins in a single season. Joining him on the winners’ podium were Leclerc/Ferrari and George Russell/Mercedes. After yet another first place finish for Red Bull, Mercedes edged out Ferrari for second place earning $10 million, with Lando Norris/McClaren securing fourth place over Fernando Alonso/Aston Martin in the Constructors Cup (team) final standings.

    The final Drivers Cup rankings for 2023 are as follows, for the top five: 1- Verstappen, 2- Perez, 3- Lewis Hamilton, 4- Fernando Alonso, and 5- Leclerc. And that’s a wrap on the F1/GP 2023 season. The engines will be revving up again in March 2024!

    Max Verstappen, F1 Grand Prix Winner

    NFL and MLB News

    In NFL news, after suffering through a three-game losing streak, a fully healthy San Francisco 49ers team is on a major winning streak as of this writing. Most recently, the 49ers decisively beat the Philadelphia Eagles 42–19. They are now riding high at the top of the NFC West with 9 wins.

    In baseball, the SF Giants have a new manager in local Bay Area native Bob Melvin. He already started filling out his coaching staff with some former Giants fan favorites, such as Matt Williams and Pat “the Bat” Burrell. Now that the coaching staff is complete, we turn our eyes toward President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi. Free agency opens soon and trades are in the wind.

    Major League Baseball owners voted unanimously to approve the Oakland A’s move to Las Vegas, banking on early January 2028 for new stadium completion.

    College Football Rivalry Week

    With the 2023 season coming to a close, the NCAA rankings are: 1- Michigan, 2- Washington, 3- Texas, 4- Florida State, and 5- Alabama. It was a wild ride for several teams in the last several weekends! For example, the Ohio State vs Michigan rivalry lived up to the hype with then #3 Michigan beating #2 Ohio State, 30–24. The Apple Bowl up in Washington saw the then 4th ranked Huskies beat their in-state rival, Washington State, on a last-second field goal, 24–21. The wildest finish was the Iron Bowl, where then 8th ranked Alabama came from behind in the final 40 seconds to defeat its rival, Auburn, 27–24, on what was basically a hail Mary pass! There was elation and heartbreak all in one play; that’s Rivalry Week in college football.

    Locally, Stanford is out but the Cal Bears, led by head coach Justin Wilcox, are ranked 8 as of this writing in the Pac-12 Conference. This has paved the way for them to play in the Independence Bowl versus Texas Tech on December 16 in Shreveport, Louisiana. To get in the cheering spirit, here are some of the most memorable Cal fight songs:

    Colby Michaels is a San Francisco Ingleside native. He grew up as a sportsball fan, and has lent his volunteer time fundraising for the Imperial Court, the San Francisco Ducal Court, and Krewe de Kinque. In addition to sports, he also enjoys sci fi and mysteries.

    Published on December 7, 2023