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Formula 1 returns to Mexico for the first time since 1992 (when my boyhood hero Nigel Mansell won the race), aiming to continue to build the growing interest in the sport in the Americas. The title race may have been decided, but both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have arrived here aiming to lay down markers and draw lines in the sand.

A revamped circuit should offer overtaking opportunities and fast racing, and it will be interesting to see whether Rosberg (who has qualified on pole for tomorrow’s race) will be able to convert pole into victory (having failed to do so in previous races). It is not difficult to imagine that Rosberg will want to win more than ever, having thrown away victory in the USA, and in doing so, handing Hamilton the title.

Hamilton, for his part, will want to make the point that he will not take things easy, despite having won the title with three races to spare. He’ll be wanting to inflict further pain on Rosberg, to ensure his teammate feels very much under his thumb going into 2016.

For Sergio Perez, this is a huge opportunity. With recent performances for Force India (third in Russia, fifth in the USA) going well, he’ll be hoping his first ever home race goes well. Points are certainly possible, especially with Mercedes power, and I wish him a good race tomorrow!

Back to F1 2015

wpid-wp-1445548132891.jpg(the face I make when people are doing something stupid)

As I sit here in the offices of my local council, waiting with my ticket number to be seen, I find myself – as I have before whilst here – with plenty of time to kill. The ‘line’ does not move quickly here – it never does.

This can be annoying. Of course it can be annoying. No one likes sitting around, waiting for their number, especially if there’s other things they could be doing. This doesn’t change a damn thing.

So the guy I’m sat here with, who is having a right whinge at the time it’s taking to get seen… Suck it up! We are all in this boat, and your little rants about the delays aren’t impressing anyone. Do you really think you can stand there and moan incessantly and somehow expect preferential treatment? Guess what, that won’t work!

 

Well ok, less an alley and more of a pavement. It’s still annoying though!

Where I work, there are two or three beggars that often camp out near cashpoints or near supermarkets. I am not devoid of sympathy for them, but there are so many reasons why I feel they’re taking the proverbial piss.

The main problem I have with them is that there are plenty of places for them to go. Shelters and centres exist all over the place, and yet they choose to remain on the streets.

Of course, no one wants to be out on the streets. It’s cold, you are likely to take abuse from people, and it’s a mark of poverty. I very much doubt they chose the circumstances that led to living rough. Nevertheless, given the choice between getting off the streets and dealing with their troubles, or remaining on the curb, relying on loose change, they choose the latter.

It might well be due to having to face whatever problem that drove them to the pavement in the first place. Whilst it is grossly unfair of me to suggest the majority of the homeless are addicts in any way shape or form, for those who are addicts, going to a shelter means getting off the drink or drugs that have helped them numb their pain – and they don’t want to do that. In that sense, they are choosing their life.

Which is why I find it hard to have much sympathy for them. Again, it is perhaps unfair of me – I don’t know the problems that are driving someone to leave their home in favour of living rough, but surely they’re taking the easy route out of it all? If there is a place that can offer food warmth and shelter, surely that’s worth seeking out? Surely that’s better than a self-destructive cycle of drink and drugs, combined with being out on the streets?

What’s even worse is when they have an animal (usually a dog) at their side, which is being forced into that destitution. I don’t doubt there is a bond there, but is it not horribly unfair on the animal to be stuck out there, in the rain and cold, when help and a roof over their head is only a few steps away?

I don’t know, maybe this meerkat is just too cynical and should have more sympathy for their plight. I’m finding it hard to find though.

It seems a sadly all-too common occurrence these days for chavvy scumbags to feel the need to mouth off at random passers-by, for reasons which escape civilised men. I have, on occasion, been the victim of what I’m sure to the tracksuited unemployed ones was a sharp and witty remark, and I’m sure there are many more people who have fallen victim to the acid (or should that be mild lemon?) tongue of a chav.

My reaction?

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That about sums it up.

I also ignore them, which is in fact the best response to street trolls. They don’t like it – they want to look ‘hard’ in front of their mates, hoping to convey a sense of dominance over others. Let’s face it, they can never hope to assert intellectual supremacy over most of humanity, so the odd threatening put-down is as much as they can wish for.

They certainly can’t rely on looks or charm.

Oh boy are we back to weird dreams! The night before last my dream punched me in the gut, and I can only describe it was a manifestation of my greatest fear.

I don’t recall much of the dream, but the end was vivid enough to jolt me from my slumber. Amidst a crumbling house, the world was ending, being swallowed up by a black hole. I was able to ‘reset’ this terrifying scenario (and no, this is not my greatest fear), but only once, and then the scene began to repeat.

This time I was powerless to stop it, so I wanted to get to my daughter, to say goodbye to her, to hold her in my arms one last time. As I tried to reach the room where she was, I was struck by the realisation that I wouldn’t make it – that I wouldn’t get to say goodbye to my little girl.

It was that horrible revelation that shocked me out of my sleep.

I can only conclude that this dream is my mind manifesting my worst fears. I couldn’t save my daughter, and I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye. In those final, frantic moments before the world ended, nothing mattered more to me than wrapping my arms around her, and I couldn’t reach her in time, and that was heartbreaking.

Needless to say, it took me a little while to shake the dream loose, and I’m not sure I completely have even now.

My dream last night was more in keeping with the surreal nature of my subconscious, and I don’t have a clue as to any message in this one. Myself and a friend (though I don’t recognise him) were running away from some weird hairy blue thing that didn’t necessarily mean us harm, but our instincts told us to run. I wonder if The Walking Dead somehow inspired this one (you know, with the running and chasing and hiding).

There you have it, the latest chapters from my sleeping brain are as unique and strange as ever!

With Formula 1 still trying to cement its reputation in the USA, a good race was needed to maintain the positive momentum the Circuit of the Americas has built up over the past couple of years. Instead of a good race, we got a cracking race!

The drama began with drenched practice sessions, the result of the powerful storms lashing at Mexico and spilling over into Texas. It was proving virtually impossible to get any decent amount of laps in, with the weather getting bad enough so as to force the early end to Friday’s sessions. On Saturday, the inclement weather continued, delaying qualifying to the stage where it was cancelled altogether, with the hope of squeezing it in on Sunday morning.

Qualifying did indeed take place early on Sunday, but only Q1 and Q2, as the rain was still heavy enough to rule out Q3. The result of this? Nico Rosberg would start on pole for the third successive race.

It was an important pole for Rosberg, who needed to best Hamilton to have any remaining hope of winning the title. Hamilton would line up second on the grid, and the Red Bulls would line up behind them, having shown good pace in the damp conditions (which had eased enough to allow for intermediate tyres by the time the race started).

When the lights went out, Hamilton charged from the line, getting alongside Rosberg almost immediately, and he would squeeze Rosberg hard as the pair of them reached turn 1, forcing the German off the track and briefly down to fifth (though Rosberg would be back up to fourth very quickly). I was quick to defend Hamilton after he pulled a similar move on Rosberg in Japan, but this was more aggressive, borderline wrong.

image(Hamilton forces Rosberg wide into turn 1)

If Lewis expected the race to be plain sailing from then on, he was to find himself sorely mistaken. The Red Bulls of Kvyat and Ricciardo were maintaining a steady chase, actually challenging Hamilton, whilst Rosberg would keep on their tails, and an absorbing four-way scrap for the lead began.

image(the Red Bulls looked good in the wet)

Inexplicably, Williams’ Valtteri Bottas pitted for dry-weather tyres very early, ending his hopes of any points (ultimately, both he and Massa would retire). As the race progressed, the track did indeed start to dry out, but the leading foursome kept their intermediate boots on, maintaining a steady gap to the rest of the pack.

With the dueling taking place between the leaders, it was unsurprising that the lead kept changing hands. At one stage Kvyat, whilst attempting to get by Rosberg, flew wide as they came out of the final corner, and Rosberg was aggrieved by what he felt was a dangerous move by Kvyat to rejoin the track. Shortly afterward, Ricciardo got by Hamilton for the lead, and began to pull away, whilst Rosberg started to put Hamilton under pressure.

There was also some good action going on further back. Sebastian Vettel had enjoyed a fantastic start, rising from 13th to seventh, and ultimately to fifth, whilst the Toro Rosso of Max Verstappen was entangled in a terrific scrap with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who was complaining of strong-arm tactics from the teenager. Meanwhile, Verstappen’s teammate Carlos Sainz, who had started last after a shunt in qualifying, was up to ninth, also getting involved in the fight between Raikkonen and Verstappen.

2015USGP(Raikkonen would have a good battle with the Toro Rossos until his early retirement)

Raikkonen would ultimately bin his Ferrari, sliding off into the barriers, but managing to keep his car going and soldiering on – the damage to his brake ducts would, in the end, finish his race early.

After 22 laps, Ricciardo was leading, with Rosberg hunting him down and Kvyat was third, managing to keep ahead of Hamilton. A few laps later, the Mercedes duo were one and two, with Rosberg having built up a decent lead, but a retirement for the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson would alter the dynamic of the race.

The safety car wiped out Rosberg’s advantage, and the top four all made the seemingly baffling decision to stay on soft tyres (having pitted for dry tyres by this point), whilst Vettel behind them made what was at the time the inspired move to pit for mediums – that could in theory get him to the end of the race. There was the very real possibility he could win, as it was inevitable the top four would have to stop again, their tyres simply unable to last.

When the safety car pulled in, Vettel got the jump on Kvyat, and would soon after get by Ricciardo after a brief battle, but the Mercedes were starting to stretch their legs, whilst the Red Bulls were starting to struggle as the track continued to dry out. Verstappen had crept up to fourth, whilst a front-wing failure for Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg saw him hit Ricciardo as they fought for fifth place. Ricciardo was able to continue, but Hulkenberg was out.

The virtual safety car was triggered, and Rosberg pitted almost immediately, but Hamilton, bizarrely, didn’t. Vettel and Verstappen, along with the the Red Bulls, also didn’t pit, and it seemed that Hamilton’s failure to pit, combined with Rosberg being on fresh tyres, would hand the race to Rosberg – delaying the title for at least another week for Hamilton.

All though, was not how it seemed. Kvyat would spin and smack into the barriers just before the final corner, triggering another safety car spell, and this time, Hamilton did stop, as did Vettel, who didn’t have the pace he wanted on the mediums.

Hamilton rejoined in second, and when the race resumed, he chased after Rosberg, knowing if he could get by him, the title was his. Rosberg initially pulled away, but Hamilton began to reel him in, slowly but surely. Verstappen had found himself in third at the restart, but was powerless to stop Vettel getting by him, so settled in, poised to equal his best F1 finish so far.

It was by no means certain that Hamilton would catch and pass Rosberg, but on lap 49 Rosberg would hand the race – and the title – to Hamilton on a platter. He lost the rear tyres coming out of turn 14, swinging wide, and Hamilton did not need another invitation.

So, Hamilton would take his 43rd career win, and claim his third world title with three races to spare. On top of that, he is the first British driver to win back-to-back titles – a tremendous achievement, and he can rightfully very proud!

2015USGP2(Hamilton leaps from his car with joy)

For Lewis, this can only be described as a huge milestone. He has emulated his idol and hero Ayrton Senna in winning three world championships, and it was clear this was an emotional moment for him – he sounded like he was in tears on the team radio after he’d crossed the line. Everyone will start dissecting the season, even with three races remaining, and for Lewis, attention will probably turn to 2016 very soon.

Likewise for Nico Rosberg, who was clearly annoyed at missing out on a win, having gifted it to Hamilton. The title was almost certainly lost anyway, but with a chance to at least show some fighting spirit, Rosberg bottled it. He will almost certainly be turning his eyes to 2016 too, wondering what he needs to do to beat Hamilton (having now finished behind Lewis in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 standings).

What Hamilton will do for the immediate future, is celebrate – he has certainly earned that right!

2015USGP3Back to F1 2015

Occasionally, I’ll read some of the ‘freshly pressed’ material that WordPress offers me. When I do, I find myself wondering if I’m making the most of my blog, if I’m truly reflecting who I am and what I value. Am I using this space to actually express myself, or am I trying too hard to appeal to an audience?

So, what can I express right now? Who am I, and more importantly, who am I now?

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I would like to say that right now I am determined. I have been in my new job for a few months now and having taken myself pretty far from my comfort zone, I am learning to have greater faith in my abilities. I am good with people, I am good at expressing enthusiasm for a product or idea, and I can argue my case. Slowly but surely, I’m pushing myself to do different things – digging out the Wii Fit to get into better shape (I’m not exactly unfit but what harm can it do to improve?), attempting to draw better (you may have seen a few drawings I’ve posted here) and perhaps most importantly, pushing myself harder as a writer.

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Does everyone have a novel in them? I don’t know. Do I? I am trying to find out. I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo, a writing endeavour that takes place every November. The goal is to write a minimum of 50,000 words in thirty days – 1,667 words a day if you stick to the minimum. I’ve already started my effort, in a bid to get into that habit, and if I can successfully turn it into a habit, I might be able to draw out the book I believe I have in me. In the past, I’ve tried to write science fiction (which I love to read and watch), but I always find myself hitting the wall, getting frustrated and giving up with that. For NaNoWriMo, I’m doing something different, and I’m thoroughly determined to see this through.

Drawing Inspiration from Myself

I have often grappled with self-deprecation. There is little question that I can be my own worst enemy. I’ll become lethargic about my chances of succeeding with any given project, I’ll get frustrated if I can’t succeed straight away, or if progress is not immediately apparent. I’ll let doubters and naysayers put me down and won’t offer up much of a defence of myself, and the demons in my head will be given free reign to dance.

Not anymore. You see, I am coming to realise that when I do focus my energies, I am actually quite good at things. Sometimes I worry that I could be a better father, but lately I’ve come to realise just how much my little girl loves me, how important and special to her I am. It strikes me that I must be doing something right.

Likewise, with work, despite moving to a different line of work (well, retail sales from what was basically flat retail, the major difference is in the type of product), I am doing well. I am surprising myself – but should I even be surprised? A little self-confidence can go a long way, and really, there’s no ceiling on what I can achieve or do.

So, my advice to anyone and everyone reading this is – trust yourself. Don’t put yourself down – there will be people who will do that for you, but as long as you believe in your abilities, as long as you hold a fighting sprit and tell yourself everyday you will realise your goals, then you will. If you can do it with a spring in your step then so much the better, but that’s not a requirement.

As for me, I’m going to hit the Wii Fit, write 2,000 words a day, and push at the limits of my skills. Hopefully, I’ll do it with the right touch of flamboyance – that really would be typically me!

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CircuitofAmericasSo here we are. With just four rounds left in the 2015 F1 championship, and with the constructor’s championship already sewn up by Mercedes in Russia, Lewis Hamilton can clinch his third world title in America, and in doing so, become the first British driver to win back-to-back titles. It all comes down to the Circuit of the Americas, in Austin, Texas.

Of course, the title might not be decided here. Should Hamilton slip up, the two men who can still in theory catch him (Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel) will be ready to pounce, prolonging the title race until at the very least the next race in Mexico. Given that Hamilton has won two of the three races held here, that would, on the face of it, seem unlikely.

Last year’s race did see Rosberg lead for several laps, with Hamilton lurking just behind. A bullish piece of late braking saw Hamilton get by his teammate and surge to victory.

2014USGP(Rosberg led into turn 1 last year)

2014USGP2(an aggressive move saw Hamilton take the lead and win the race)

Some of the forecasts for the race predict rain, combined with reasonably high temperatures to with it, which could upset the apple cart a little. Hamilton likes rain, but humidity doesn’t favour the Mercedes, and might hand the initiative to Ferrari. Hopefully, it will be an absorbing race!

Back to F1 2015