Stop medling! But oh what a start….

March 29, 2008

It’s been a while, so time to kick start things again.

What is this latest obsession with night races and changing the times for the European market?  When it was first announced that Singapore would be holding a night race I liked the idea as something different, and it will still be interesting to see how it works.  But then come the Australian GP, there’s rumour that Bernie is pushing them to make the race a night race, or risk losing it!  Just to make the race a sensible time for Europe.  Now personally I quite like getting up at ‘Stupid o’clock’ for the flyaway races, to me it is part of being a fan and helps to define the start of the season, it means you have to put a bit of dedication in too.  So by all means, have some night races, but don’t go forcing people into it (Particularly when we haven’t even seen if it will work yet), and don’t go messing with the times too much for TV schedule, if you’re that bothered about it why take on more flyaway races?  Why not all of them in Europe (No I don’t want that either, just making a point).

Anyway, as for the the actual racing, it’s good to see McLaren leading 1 race, and then Ferrari the next, could make for a very interesting competition this year.

Whilst it pains me to say it, not being a huge Alonso fan, you have to hand it to him, he’s driving the wheels off a car that wasn’t expected to perform.

Blade Runner – Final Cut

November 8, 2007

The film that started it all!

Hell yeah – look at this!

Big box set

A true classic that has stood up remarkably well to time, I’ll be rushing to the shops when it’s released on 3rd December.

Quelle Surprise!

November 2, 2007

So Alonso is leaving McLaren – didn’t see that coming! 🙄

It’s hardly big news, although it comes days after his manager stated he wouldn’t be pushed out.  The big question now is where is he off to?  One rumour has him going to Ferarri in 2009, but I’m not convinced by that.  Back to Renault seems a fairly obvious choice, or will he do a Schumacher and go to an under performing team to try and turn the around?  Toyota would certainly throw him plenty of money.  But what about Red Bull, or even Honda?  A driver swap with Honda could be good, moving Button to McLaren for an all Brit line up and Button at last getting a decent car under him.  Still strongest suggestion seems to be a move to Williams for a year before moving on to another team.

Part of me would of liked to see McLaren keep him under contract and force him to sit on the sidelines for 2008 whilst running another driver.

More irrational desire!

November 2, 2007

I’ve seen this rather tasty looking new Cove Hustler:
Jummy prototype Cove Hustler

Except it isn’t a Hustler at all! Apparently it’s a prototype 6″ frame based on the STD and Shocker frames, it just happens to have a Hustler sticker on it, and rumour suggest it’s a different sticker the other side! According to Silverfish UK, responsible for importing Cove, it’s more likely to be a part of the 2009 line-up, which means production models may be seen by summer 2008. Just as well really, as I absolutely love the look of it and want one! Can’t justify why at all, I just do, so the wait might give me time to save up. I’m really hoping that isn’t a prototype colour as well, I’m calling it pistachio green and think it’s the dogs danglies, although Sassy pink might look good too 😉

Cove will still be doing the Hustler…

Cove still doing the Hustler

Brazilian GP – Interlagos – 21-10-07

October 21, 2007

The race to end the season, and more controversy in the run up.

The FIA announced that there would be an official present in the McLaren garage to ensure both drivers are treated equally.  I can’t believe that the FIA felt they needed to interfere in this fashion, and considering some of the actions by other teams in the past I’m amazed at the way McLaren have been treated generally.

Then McLaren got it wrong with tyres in free practice, fortunately the decision made in the end was the right one in my opinion, a fine for the team.

So on to the race.  Raikkonen had a brilliant start and was alongside Hamilton off the line, and with Raikkonen squirming under hard braking, Hamilton was forced to brake giving Alonso the chance he needed into turn 2.  Hamilton should of just settled for 4th and driven it home, but the competitive spirit seemed to get the better of him, maybe he just wanted one over Alonso after everything that has happened, he tried to take 3rd back from Alonso at turn 3, the hard way, outbraked himself and took to the run off area.  I was on the edge of my seat as he lost places, but rejoined around 8th – still manageable from there.  However it all began to fall apart as a gearbox glitch left him with no gears on lap 8 and Hamilton quickly slid backwards through the field, managing to regain use of gears but now in 18th position.  He made a valiant fight back, taking 4 places in one lap.  A roll of the dice to run a short stint on the softer tyres, and hopefully therefore have better grip with the harder tyres towards the end of the race as everyone else struggled on the softer tyres.  Ultimately it wasn’t to be, managing to get to 7th.  This result would of been sufficient had Raikkonen finished second, but staying out a few laps longer than Massa he took the lead and kept it to the end, meaning Hamilton needed 5th.

Hamilton lost the championship by 1 point with a tally of 109, equal on points to Alonso.

It has to be said that this was still an amazing result for a rookie, and with the trials that have hit the team still a fantastic result.  Somehow it was a fitting end to an incredible championship, a truly scintillating race.  I’m no doubt that Hamilton will come back fighting and is destined to be a champion of the future.  I’m happy that Raikkonen ultimately won the championship having come close twice before, he deserves a win and it is better to see him take the title than Alonso take a 3rd after what we have seen from him this year.

Brazil Qualifying 2007

October 20, 2007

I couldn’t wait for the delayed TV coverage, so I’ve just watched the live timings on the Formula1 website, and it was strangle exciting watching the times pop up!  Particularly as you get the green PB sectors, or Magenta fastest sectors.

Wow, what a great battle in the final session, and at this point, a perfect result.  I’m growing to like Massa, so it’s good to see him take pole in his home GP, but behind him Mahilton has done exactly what he needs to, put both of his challengers behind him, and in the ideal order – Alonso with fewer points to close is an extra position back.  As it stands, Hamilton just needs to keep Raikonnen and Alonso behind him into the first corner, and then just drive it the flag, job done.  So fingers crossed.

Great result for Webber too, taking 5th ahead of the BMWs!

Chinese JP – 07-10-07

October 8, 2007

Alonso congratulates Raikonnen

Coming into the race weekend it really should of just been an easy day at the office for Lewis Hamilton, sure the win would be nice, but it wasn’t critical to take the championship – just finish ahead of Alonso by 2 points or more, and higher than 6th should Raikonnen win. Free practice showed that Ferrari clearly had the advantage, but McLaren were up there with them, and somehow come qualifying Hamilton pieces together an amazing lip to take pole having spent much of the time in 4th behind Alonso, both Ferraris were behind him, with Alonso in 4th. So the scene was set, and Lewis had one hand on the trophy already.

Race day arrived and there was the threat of rain, with the track proving to be greasy and the drivers electing to use the intermediate tyre as further showers were predicted soon after the start, but at least there would be no Safety Car start this time. As the lights went out, both Hamilton and Raikonnen made perfect starts with Hamilton leading into turn 1, behind them Alonso came round the outside of Massa, and looked determined to take 2nd from Raikonnen at one point, but ultimately slotted into 3rd, only to be out of place for six as Massa outbraked him up the inside and took his place back.

So it looked like that was it, no championship chance for Alonso and Hamilton was opening a steady gap at the front despite the rain that appeared on lap 2, Raikonnen seemingly having mentally given up. Come lap 15, Hamilton came in for his first pit stop, and with the track now drying, elected to remain on the inters with his front right tyre well scrubbed to the point of being a slick. Both Massa and Alonso quickly followed and Raikonnen came in on lap 19, having made the most of his extra time whilst light to close the gap on Hamilton, however, Hamilton seemed to have the race under control, instantly responding to this new threat.

The track was now becoming increasingly dry, and despite the prediction of more showers, Wurz gambled in his pit stop and elected to go to dry tyres, which started a trend as both the Red Bull drivers pitted for slicks. Alonso passed Massa for third which prompted Massa to dive into the pits on lap 27 for dry tyres, whilst Hamilton was struggling to cool his tyres, having to search out the puddles. Raikonnen caught him, and was soon all over the back of him as Hamilton struggled with an increasingly difficult car on worn tyres. What was going on? Come in and change the tyres!!! OK, if he stayed a bit longer and got the perfect pit window, the team were going to of made a very brave tactical decision. Ultimately Raikonnen made his way past at turn 9, and surely now the team must bring him in, but no, he still stayed out, even with a rear tyre seemingly beginning to delaminate and Alonso catching him. Trulli unlapped himself and at last on lap 31 Hamilton made for the pits, diving in from behind the Toyota.

As Hamilton rounded the 90 degree corner into the pits it was clear he was running wide, and took to the gravel, surely it would hook back in? No, he’s going on to to the crash barrier! Just as he looked like he’d contact the car turned a bit, and a huge sigh of relief as it looked like he’d get back on the pit road, and then the car beached! There were anxious moments as the marshalls were at first confused about what to do, and then tried to push, but to no avail and Hamilton had to abandon.

Despondant Hamilton

With renewed vigour, both Raikonnen and Alonso pitted for dry tyres and drove a faultless remainder of the race to take 1st and 2nd, and secure a chance at the title in the final race (Raikonnen’s win also meant the 200th win for Ferrari).

Further back in the field there had been plenty of fun and games, with Vettel coming 4th after a fortunately timed pit stop on a 1 stop strategy enabling him to move to dry tyres. Jenson Button had slid backwards at the start, from 10th on the grid to 17th at one point, but as the track came back he started to make up places, reveling in the conditions and showing his class as a driver, ringing the neck of the bad Honda to finish much higher than the car should. For me Button was driver of the day, if he hadn’t slipped back at the start, who knows, maybe even a podium. He’s stated his commitment to Honda for next season, which is a shame, if Alonso’s McLaren seat does become vacant, it would be great to see Hamilton and Button in the same team.

Meanwhile Coulthard came in 8th, having promised much more, but suffering from switching to dry tyres just before another shower, but showing a strong finish as he fended off a charging Kovalainen.

I was disappointed not to see Hamilton take the crown at this race, more because I’m now scared he won’t manage it, although it’s still a tough call for either Alonso or Raikonnen to snatch it from him, but as we saw anything can happen. I’m also disappointed with McLaren getting the call so wrong, and it’s not the first time, after allowing Raikonnen to run with a flat spotted tyre in the past until the vibration shattered the suspension. However, I was impressed to see Hamilton taking the time to thank the team, and watch the race from the pit wall, a much more mature attitude than that shown by Alonso after his poor qualifying the day before when he threw his helmet to the ground and broke his changing room door. So we’ve got to wait 2 weeks to see if he can do it, and I have to stay, whilst gutted, part of me is pleased to see it go down to the wire. Already Hamilton has his detractors, and I too wish there wasn’t so much hype and coverage (ITV is moving from F1 coverage to the Lewis Hamilton show) so it would be great to see him triumph over this further adversity after everything else he has had to contend with, to take the title. That would show that he is true Champion material, and a future great.

Common sense prevails – Hamilton FIA decision

October 5, 2007

It appears that common sense has prevailed, as race stewards have decided that Lewis Hamilton will receive no penalty for his driving behind the Safety Car during the Japanese Grand Prix. They have also lifted Vettel’s 10 place penalty, stating that the punishments would be inappropriate given the race’s extremely wet conditions.

Japanese GP – Fuji Speedway 2007

October 1, 2007

Lewis 4th win

Last time F1 was at the Fuji track, I wasn’t even into F1, in fact I hadn’t even got into Star Wars yet! So I’m not going to get all sentimental about it as seemed to be trend everywhere I looked. However, it was quite amusing that the old footage showed wet conditions, and apart from fast forwarding 30 years, we could of been watching the same thing.

When the ‘race’ started behind the safety car, the water didn’t seem to be lifting from the track much with the cars going so slow, and I must confess I had horrible visions of the majority of the race being run like that, by lap 10 I was getting worried. The main excitement was watching the Ferraris squirm having put intermediate tyres on, and slip off the track a few times. All the teams had been instructed to use the full wet tyres, but Ferrari did not, later claiming they did not receive the message – I have my doubts about that and would of likes to see some sanctions. Come lap 14 the rain was coming down heavier, and with a number of drivers complaining it was looking likely that the race could be postponed or even abandoned. Whilst watching I was amazed at the poor visibility, whilst of course at the front the drivers had no problem with less spray to contend with, and must of been wondering what all the fuss was about. Then the rain seemed to clear again, and the race officials allowed a lapped Tonio Liuzzi to unlap himself, once past the snake, he was able to drive round and re-join the pack, setting a time of 1m 36.4 sec, conditions had improved sufficiently that the safety car came in and from the start of lap 20 it was race time. There was of course some shenanigans going into turn 1, but no major accident, Button who had seemed poised for a good race hit Hedifeld and consequently moved back from 5th to 10th, whilst Wurz slid under braking taking Massa with him and sending him spinning. Button continued without his front wing, and was setting reasonable lap times, but by lap 24 conceded defeat and pitted for a new nose.

Hamilton began to gently ease away at the front, making use of the best visibility and picking his way around the track, taking somewhat unusual lines to find the best grip, with Alonso remaining close behind. Amazingly behind him were Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, giving a remarkable showing for both Red Bull teams. Meanwhile Raikonnen was proving to be the star of the show, making up numbers from the back of the grid rapidly, he was almost in a whole different race, easing past people almost as if on a dry track compared to them. Things could certainly get interesting if he carried on like that, particularly after taking on plenty of fuel whilst changing tyres.

Having spent so long behind the safety car at the beginnging, it was going to be interesting to see when cars would be pitting, and Alonso showed his hand on lap 27. He hadn’t put in enough work though and came out just behind a string of cars led by Fisichella. Hamilton promptly pitted next lap, and came out ahead of the cars. Alonso exacerbated the situation by taking a little journey off the track. Meanwhile Vettel now found himself leading the race, and performed a good job keeping Webber behind him. With Alonso back in 8th now I found myself willing Hamilton on to a good finish that would put him clear ahead again in the championship race, and then the camera showed Hamilton pointing the wrong way! What had happened? As he got going again events were quickly picked up on the replay, and showed Hamilton taking a wide line round corner 14 for better grip, whilst Robert Kubica took the more conventional line, and then seized the opportunity to try and overtake. Perhaps a little overzealous, Kubica then lost the back end and slid into Hamilton causing him to also spin, rejoining the track Kubica was ahead of Hamilton, and worryingly Hamilton seemed slow. It would later transpire that he was conerned about any damage, and had a vibration, but the team assured him all was OK. Ultimately Kubica earned a drive penalty for this, which I felt was little unfair. He didn’t need to pass, as he pitted soon after, but both drivers were able to carry on, and really it was just a driving incident, although perhaps he should of allowed Hamilton to get going first under the circumstances.

A lap later Alonso had his share of trouble as Vettel ran into him causing minor damage. The drivers that had been fuelled longer began to pit, and so Hamilton resumed the lead of the race, and then disaster struck for Alonso, suddenly we were presented with an image of a McLaren in pieces across the track and facing the wrong way. My heart leapt, then I noticed no yellow helmet and realised it was Alonso, once I saw him move and knew he was OK, I must confess to being slightly happy that he was out. This incident led to the safety car making it’s 2nd trip to the circuit, and in turn led to the next major incident of the race. With the cars still circulating behind the safety car, but getting ready for it to come in, Webber was running 2nd and Vettel third, as the drivers warmed brakes and tyres, Vettel ran into the backof Webber. Again when the camera first caught it, I caught the back of a stricken car and feared Hamilton was out, almost feeling relief when I saw it was Webber. However, also felt disappointment, having the opportunity of a podium from that position having struggled this year with mechanical problems, to then be taken out by the Red Bull B team, it was clear he wasn’t happy when quizzed about it minutes later.

Webber and Vettel crash

With Hamilton now happily ensconced in first place, and just needing to finish the race, it was the turn of the Ferraris to provide the entertainment, first with Raikonnen scything his way through the field. He took fourth from Coulthard with an impressive outside overtaking manoeuvre through turns 4 and 5. The he snatched 3rd when Massa had to pit for a last splash of fuel, or was it to avoid team orders? This just left Kovalainen ahead in 2nd, and Raikonnen set about pushing hard to get past, resorting to the run off areas a number of times, and seemingly not losing any pace despite these offs, eventually though it wasn’t to be, the other young Finn having soaked up the pressure remarkably well to hold off Raikonnen. Meanwhile in the final lap it seemed it was Massa’s turn for some fun, as Kubica passed him, only for Massa to come back and the 2 to go wheel to wheel through the last series of corners with Massa just gaining the upper hand by the finish line – a truly exhilarating finish, the likes of which has not been seen for a long time.

I should also mention Adrian Sutil taking the last point in 8th for Spyker after Liuzzi received a 25s penalty for overtaking under a waved yellow flag.

So in all, what started out looking like a rather furlorn race, turned out be a cracker, and quite possibly the most significant of the season with Hamilton gaining 10 points over Alonso, he now needs to come 2nd in the next race to take the championship, whilst Alonso is at risk of losing 2nd place to Raikonnen. Will Alonso receive team orders to help Hamilton? And if he is – will he heed them?

I’m hoping that Hamilton will become champion next week, and fully suspect that a few weeks after the end of the season we will hear that Alonso is moving, most likely back to Renault, although Ferrari may be a possibility, but would he receive Number 1 driver status there alongside Raikonnen? Unlikely. I was also going to suggest that Ralf Schumacher will more than likely be out of a seat, and I doubt we’ll see him on the grid in 2008, but now I find he has announced he will leave Toyota at the end of the season. So whilst driver movements seem to be waiting for any decision from Alonso, there could be some discussions beginning as seats free up now.

RIP Cliff Burton

September 27, 2007

21 years ago on the evening of 27th September 1986 whilst on the European leg of the Damage Inc Tour in support of the Master of Puppets album, the late great Cliff Burton was tragically killed when the tour bus skidded on black ice near Dorarp rural Sweden.

To me Cliff was the greatest bass player of the time, and still has not been surpassed to this day, the main reason for me taking up the bass in my youth and a huge influence on my playing. Every time I listen to the Metallica albums that came after ‘Master of Puppets’, I can’t help but wonder what they would of sounded like had Cliff still been alive, and indeed would they of gone down some of the musical routes they did. His death was a tragic loss not only to Thrash and Heavy Metal, but to music full stop.

Recently Metallica have been playing Orion in it’s entirety on tour, with James Hetfield marking the end with ‘Cliff Burton…. RIP’, it is a wonderful tribute to a great man.

Cliff