Yes, it most certainly awakens! This morning the new trailer debuted and I’ll offer up my early thoughts in a mo (I’ve seen it a few times now, but I’ll rewind to when I was getting on the train to go to work).

First though, two things – the trailer:

Secondly, the poster:

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Watched it yet? Have you drank in its beauty? Good, we can continue.

As expected, the trailer gives nothing away in terms of plot, aside from dropping hints that were already pretty apparent from previous trailers and press releases.

Be warned, from this point forward, there may be spoilers.

 

 

 

Still here? Sure you want to risk it?

 

 

 

 

Really sure? Okay then.

Kylo Ren is seen at one stage talking to the burnt out ruins of Darth Vader’s helmet, with just a touch of Vader’s trademark breathing. We have the two new heroes running around a lot, meeting with Han, who tells them the stories about the Force are true. Luke is conspicuous in his absence from the trailer, and we see Leia crying in Han’s arms at one stage. Finn (who appears to be a stormtrooper-turned-rebel) prepares to do battle with (presumably) Ren in a dark forest.

Rey’s character appears to be a scavenger, though this was already rather apparent from the earlier trailers. She considers herself to be a ‘nobody’, but through events we’ve yet to determine, she ends up traveling with Finn and running into Han.

There’s a moment in the trailer that appears to show destruction on a huge scale, and there are plenty of TIE vs X-Wing moments. There’s also a lot of stormtroopers doing battle.

As mentioned earlier, the trailer gives nothing away. JJ Abrams has done really well to tease the film through three different trailers and yet somehow keep the story of one of the most eagerly anticipated films of all time firmly under wraps. My wife booked tickets for us to go see it (it will be my daughter’s first Star Wars film at the cinema) and I can honestly say, despite a grave sense of trepidation when the film was announced, that I am starting to bubble over with excitement. Roll on December!

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Argh! This race is supposed to be a good for me. I can fly round Hungary, winning here quite easy, and I had considered victory here on this occasion to be a formality. Big mistake.

I was comfortably on pole and during the race had built up a commanding lead come my first stop on lap twenty. Unfortunately, two things conspired to ruin my race at this point.

The first was a controller glitch that forced me into a left turn and into a barrier, damaging my front wing. This in itself was not insurmountable – I might easily have recovered, as the damage wasn’t crippling and even an unscheduled stop would not have been devastating.

The engine failure upon rejoining the track… Well, that was crippling. My third retirement of the season means I am now 12 points behind Button and realistically, relying on him having a problem or two. It’s not going to be easy, but role on Valencia!

wpid-wp-1418760085629.pngHot on the heels of the British Grand Prix comes the German Grand Prix! This was a much better race for me, a race I controlled comfortably from start to finish, qualifying on pole and from there, pulling away from the pack reasonably quickly, despite being on hard tyres for most of the race.

I did briefly lose out at the start, slipping down to fourth by the first corner, but some fierce jostling saw me back into the lead around turns 1 to 4, and from there, it was smooth sailing. At my first two pit stops I lost the lead, but regained it after those ahead of me stopped (and also via some more bullish overtakes). I barely had anything to worry about during the course of the race, taking a much-needed win to close the gap on Button to eight points.

SilverstoneHaving left Turkey 15 points down on Jensen Button, I came to Silverstone filled with trepidation. This track (admittedly not quite as per the image above) has not been kind to me on racing games, and I saw no reason to believe this trend would end as I began the British GP race weekend.

Practice and qualifying were curious mixtures of wet and dry conditions, but somehow I was able to find the right balance to get pole position – it was downhill from there.

I just could not find any pace in the final two sectors. Combined with wet conditions for the race, it just wasn’t good for me. I spent most of the race on my own, trundling around and doing what I could to grind out as many points as possible. In the end, I took third place, my first podium finish at Silverstone on this game, and more importantly, finished ahead of Button, bringing the gap down to 13 points. It wasn’t a big bite out of that lead, but every little bit helps!

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(Nico Rosberg leads Lewis Hamilton into the first corner in Sochi)

Lewis Hamilton left Russia with the world championship virtually in his grasp, having taken a routine victory whilst Nico Rosberg suffered his second DNF of the season, his race ruined early on due to a problem with his throttle. Second place for Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the race moved him up to second in the championship – 66 points behind Hamilton with a maximum of 100 points available. Rosberg is 73 points behind Hamilton, and both Germans are relying on Hamilton having problems or making mistakes in the final four races.

The race itself was a lot better than last year’s offering, with Pirelli going for the quicker yet more vulnerable combination of soft and supersoft tyres for Russia. The effect of this meant the soft tyres were put through their paces harder than last year, whilst the supersofts gave good short term pace but there was no way to sustain it.

At the start, Rosberg held off Hamilton, having taken his second consecutive pole position, and as they neared the end of lap one Rosberg was still leading, but an early safety car (thanks to a collision between Sauber’s Ericsson and Force India’s Hulkenburg) kept the pack grouped up.

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(to be honest, I’m still not quite sure what happened here!)

Shortly after the race resumed Rosberg began reporting throttle problems and began to slow, allowing the pursuing cars by, and ultimately retiring to virtually end his title hopes.

Behind him, Bottas had managed to get ahead of the Ferraris (who almost collided at one stage) and was chugging along quite nicely. Vettel began to close in and Williams decided to haul Bottas in to put him on fresh boots, but Bottas emerged back on track in traffic, including the Red Bull of Ricciardo, who had already pitted and was in no mood to yield to Bottas.

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(Vettel tries to squeeze down the inside of Raikkonen, who afforded his teammate virtually no space)

Ferrari were able to get Vettel in and out of the pits ahead of Bottas, but Raikkonen was stuck behind the Williams. It took several laps, but ultimately both Finns did find their way past Ricciardo, and set off chasing the Force India of Sergio Perez, who had taken advantage of the second safety car spell to put himself into third.

Spare a thought for Romain Grosjean. The Lotus driver triggered a second safety car period on lap 12, following a heavy crash when he lost control at turn three, smashing hard into the barriers. Grosjean was unhurt, but his race was over, and the safety car triggered a wave of pit stops that would impact the race later.

Also spare a thought for Carlos Sainz. The young Toro Rosso driver had been involved in a huge smash in FP3, one that saw him taken to hospital as a precaution. Come race day, he returned to the grid, albeit having to start from the back (having naturally missed qualifying). He would work his way up to seventh, only to retire due to brake failure on lap 45. Ricciardo would retire two laps later owing to suspension problems, as the field seemingly dropped like flies.

As the race drew toward its conclusion, Perez, who was struggling on old tyres, was trying bravely to fend off the chasing Bottas and Raikkonen, but with only a couple of laps remaining, he could fight no more, passed by both Finns in as many corners. There was however, one more twist in that particular tale.

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(Raikkonen clips Bottas on the final lap)

The final lap collision between Raikkonen and Bottas ruined Bottas’ chance of a podium, and also ended Raikkonen’s hopes, whilst handing third back to Perez. The incident meant Raikkonen received a 30-second time penalty, that demoted him from fifth to eighth, a move that also secured the constructor’s championship for Mercedes, for the second year running – and for the second time in a row in Russia no less!

Drive of the Day

Perez did well to keep his Force India as high up the order as he did, for as long as he did, on tyres that had done considerable mileage. Max Verstappen fell to the back of the pack after a puncture sustained during the chaos of the Ericsson/Hulkenberg accident, and fought his way back into the points (albeit only taking a point after Alonso was given a time penalty for cutting track limits), but for me, the drive of the race belongs to Carlos Sainz. He started last, and yes, was aided by numerous retirements, but to battle back into seventh was a remarkable achievement, and had his brakes not given out, those points would have been well-earned.

So, next up is the USA. Will Hamilton be crowned champion? I guess we’ll find out.

Back to F1 2015

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Russia plays host to the next round of the F1 championship, as we enter the final run-in – this is the start of the final five races, and soon key things will be decided in the key battles.

Last year’s race was far from memorable. Lewis Hamilton won at a canter, facing no pressure as Rosberg had flat-spotted his front tyres on lap one, allowing Hamilton to sail off into the distance, with conservative tyre choices meaning one pit stop and therefore no chance of strategic surprises. This year, the supersoft and soft tyres should produce a bit more strategic variety, which hopefully produce a more interesting race.

Mercedes can clinch the constructors championship here (as they did last year), if they pick up three more points than Ferrari.

To be honest, I’m struggling to find things to say about this one. Last year’s race was dull, and the memory of it has given me concerns that Sunday’s race will be similar. Hopefully, I’ll be proven wrong!

Back to F1 2015