Button: Impossible to predict F1 pecking order

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Jenson Button is unsure how the F1 field is shaping up ahead the first race of the season in three weeks’ time, saying that he has little idea of where McLaren lies in the pecking order.

The British team has endured a difficult pre-season due teething problems with the new Honda-powered MP4-30 car. A recurrence of Thursday’s issue limited Button to just 24 laps on Saturday in Barcelona, giving the Briton plenty of time to see what the other teams are doing.

“I’ve had time to look at the screens, but I haven’t got a clue what’s going on in terms of who’s quick and who isn’t,” Button said. “Really difficult to read. I think you can expect the Mercedes to be the quickest, looking at the long runs.

“I think Ferrari is pretty strong but then I really don’t know where Williams is, really difficult to read. Sauber looks reasonably good which is good for them, very happy for them at the moment. Red Bull, they look pretty good.

“But it’s tricky. You put the soft tire on some people and it gains them 1.5 seconds; some people it’s three to four tenths. It’s all very random at the moment.”

Button believes that this sets the scene for a closely-fought first race of the year in Australia on March 15, contrasting the dominance of Mercedes in 2014.

“I think it makes it great for the first race and really makes it exciting,” Button said. “You could read last year, you could see the Mercedes [first] then the Williams was second quickest, then probably us third quickest in winter testing.

“Whereas this year, I haven’t got a clue which is great. I think it’ll be a mixed-up field at the first race.”

McLaren’s test came to an early end in Barcelona as an accident for Fernando Alonso cut short the team’s running. The Spaniard was airlifted to a local hospital for a check-up, but was confirmed to be “uninjured and fine” by the team on Sunday afternoon.

After eating just one chip, NHRA drag racer says: ‘I seriously thought I was going to die’

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Editor’s note: Due to rain, Sunday’s final eliminations of the NHRA Carolina Nationals have been postponed to Monday morning at 10 a.m. ET. In the meantime, check out this rather unusual tale:

Remember the old Lays Potato Chips commercial from back in the 1980s that bragged “No one can eat just one”?

Well, ask NHRA Pro Stock driver Alex Laughlin and a few members of his team, and they’ll tell you they learned a very valuable lesson that there indeed IS a chip that you can only eat one of.

According to NHRA’s National Dragster, Laughlin and Elite Motorsports crew members Chase Freeman, Kelly Murphy and Brian Cunningham took part Friday night in the Paqui One Chip Challenge.

If you haven’t heard of the Challenge, Paqui Chips has produced a tortilla chip that the company boldly claims is the hottest chip ever made anywhere in the world. The secret is the “Carolina Reaper” pepper, considered the hottest chili pepper in the world, with a rating of 1.9 million Scoville units, according to PuckerButt Pepper Company.

How hot is 1.9 million Scoville units? Let’s put it this way: the Devil might even have a hard time taking this kind of heat. By comparison, a Jalapeno pepper only reaches 10,000 units on the Scoville rating. 

So while they were enjoying some downtime Friday night after the first two rounds of qualifying for the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina (suburban Charlotte), Laughlin and Co. paid $30 for one chip – you read that right, $30 for one chip, it’s THAT hot – and thought they could take the heat.

They thought wrong.

“This is the hottest chip in the world,” Laughlin said on an Instagram post that documented the entire experience, adding a warning, “What to expect: Mouth on fire, short-term loss of speech, impaired vision from tears, extreme profanity — or death.”

View this post on Instagram

Never. Ever. Again.

A post shared by Alex Laughlin (@alexlaughlin40) on


Laughlin’s post also includes several reader comments that Laughlin and his crew should have had milk on hand instead of water to try and cool things down because milk has a natural antidote to cool your mouth down after eating hot food.

Sunday morning, with his mouth and throat still a bit sore, Laughlin recalled the red-hot episode to National Dragster’s Kevin McKenna:

Never again. Never. Ever. Ever,” Laughlin told McKenna. “It was definitely not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

One of our guys showed me a You Tube video and it looked like it wasn’t going to be too bad. I like spicy food and it’s usually never a problem. I’ve been to those places with hot wings where you have to sign a waiver before you eat them and that’s never been a problem.

But this? This is on a whole different level. I thought it might last ten minutes. Fourteen hours later, I was still in bad shape. I woke up at 3 a.m. and Googled “internal bleeding.” I seriously thought I was going to die. We all did.”

So if the heat from the chip was off the hotness Richter scale, where did the stunt rank on Laughlin’s own personal Richter scale?

I’ve done some dumb things, but this is right up there.

Well, I really didn’t think it would be that bad,” Laughlin told McKenna with a shrug. “I mean, it’s just one tortilla chip. Like I said, I can usually eat stuff that other people won’t eat, but I had no idea what I was in for.

“I’ve done some dumb things, but this is right up there.”

If you’re up for another challenge in the future that involves eating hot food, Alex, here’s a suggestion: Even though it’s a few years old now, maybe you should try the Ice Bucket Challenge (but fill it with milk) to cool down quick. Just a thought.

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