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So we are finally at the end of the 2015 F1 season, and for the grand finale, we come to Abu Dhabi, a modern, slick circuit that has delivered a few moments of drama over the years, though perhaps more due to the circumstances behind the races than because of the actual races themselves. This year’s race is largely immaterial, given the key battles have already been decided, but there is still pride to play for, and not every driver and constructor’s position in the championships is settled.

It’s difficult to call this one. Rosberg is on a rich run of form, having maybe freed himself from the shackles of the title race, and might well go into this race full of confidence. Hamilton will remain keen to stop him, if only to prove a point, but how much will it matter to either one of them now?

The track itself will lend itself to scraps at turns 5 6 and 7, and further fights at turn 8 and turns 11 12 and 13. Turn 1 might see some activity too. The unique twilight race will hopefully provide a fitting swansong to 2015!

Back to F1 2015

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My dreams last night came in two parts. Firstly, I had to find a way to rescue my loved ones as our three storey house burned (we don’t have a three storey house).

Interwoven into this dream is something to do with visiting neighbours for a party of some sort (can’t remember why). It was a dream rudely interrupted by one of the cats wanting out. I also don’t recall why our house was on fire – I only recall doing what I could to get everyone to safety.

Quite why I had such a dream is beyond me – as usual, my subconscious mind is a maze of frankly terrifying thoughts!

My second dream was even weirder. I dreamed that Ben Stiller, Jennifer Anniston and Patrick Stewart were in a film together about making contact with aliens, and a government conspiracy surrounding it. I get why Patrick Stewart was involved – the other two aren’t exactly big sci-fi names.

I wish I knew what was going on in my mind.

wpid-wp-1421397685770.pngWe are entering the twilight phase of my little F1 Wii adventure, and round 13 of the final season the game lets you play took me to Italy, a race I wanted to win for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, I wanted to win so as to keep my title chances on track. Coming into this race, I had closed to within 2 points of Button, reigniting what after Hungary was starting to seem like a lost cause. Momentum was needed now, and the practice sessions proved to be quite good, as did qualifying – I took pole once more, and in doing so, came to realise that I have in fact taken pole at every race so far this season – I hadn’t set out to do so, and it’s not crucial that I continue to do so, but it would be nice!

Not for the first time this season, I got a better start than I usually do – I lost out to the lead to Mark Webber but at the first corner I was able to wrestle it back.

My lead lasted until lap 2, when I ran wide into the chicane that made up the first corner, but I once again elbowed Webber out of the way to get back into the lead, and from there, pulled steadily away. I had gone for a two-stop strategy, unlike my usual three-stopper, and this proved quite easy – two longish stints on hard tyres and one quick sprint on the softs saw out a comfortable victory – a victory that also saw me tie on points with Button with four rounds to go.

As I read the various opinion pieces, tweets and Facebook posts concerning the recent attacks in Paris (and commentary on Islam and immigration), I am left wondering if we are reaching a crossroads as a civilisation.

To our left, is a path of compassion. It is not without necessary evils – ISIS is a blight upon humanity and needs to be dealt with – but how we deal with this threat will define us. How will we let ISIS influence our attitudes and behaviour is crucial to how we measure any victory over them.

This is why this is a battle for hearts and minds, within our own society and within societies in the Middle East.

It is not merely important, it is vital that we remember not every Muslim is an extremist, and not every refugee fleeing Syria (and elsewhere) is a terrorist. By adopting the attitude that they are all radicals and extremists, we will create a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby our hate and fear will act as a recruitment drive for ISIS.

We need to distinguish our society as being one of compassion, compassion to cut through the hate and fear that ISIS thrive upon. They want us to react to them, to dance to their tune, and closing our borders, turning away people who desperately need help, is exactly the sort of reaction they love.

We need to make it clear to moderate Muslims (and the Middle East in general) that we are not waging war on them. I am at a loss as to how we can do this whilst also tackling ISIS directly, but this brings me to my next point.

We cannot ignore the savage actions of ISIS, either within our own borders or in places like Syria and Iraq. One action we can take to show moderate Muslims that we are not their enemy is to defend them against ISIS, by taking meaningful steps against them. We can stand between them and ISIS, saying to the world that ISIS is not going to divide us, but rather unite us.

Naturally, we need to freeze their assets, cut off their supply lines, and erode their support base. It will take a multi-pronged approach to defeat ISIS. It certainly won’t be done by caving in to the fear they want to instill.

I keep discovering new and interesting sites via WordPress, and this one is no exception. This post, by one Chris Murray, author of the Ego Factor, is an excellent and far better version of a post I myself made earlier today to describe religious problems.

As I said before, extremism is a problem for many religions – despite protests to the contrary, Christianity is not devoid of such extremism – historically it has been as violent as Islam, with the main difference today being that fundamentalist Christians use words rather than guns.

It is time to stop blaming the many for the actions of the few.

As the F1 2015 season nears its climax, the passionate venue of Brazil played host to a pretty commanding and confident performance from Mercedes – and Nico Rosberg in particular.

In practice Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton traded places, with Hamilton actually faster in two of the three sessions, but in qualifying, Rosberg brought his A game, snatching pole by .0078 of a second.

At the start of the race Rosberg covered off Hamilton and led into the first couple of corners, stretching out a gap of just over a second to avoid DRS range, and both Mercedes cars eased away from the Ferraris of Vettel and Raikkonen. It appeared as though Hamilton couldn’t find a means to get close to Rosberg – following in his teammate’s dirty air made getting within DRS range challenging.

xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 15, 2015 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

It was a problem that existed throughout the field. Max Verstappen would trail Sergio Perez for several laps, with Romain Grosjean in turn following – but being unable to get close enough to pass at a circuit featuring several winding corners. The cars would run on the soft tyres until around lap 10 (with the exceptions of Daniel Ricciardo, who pitted on lap 4 in his Red Bull, and Pastor Maldonaldo of Lotus, who started on the medium tyre), when the stops started.

At the switch from the soft to medium tyres, Hamilton would start to exert pressure on Rosberg, closing the gap and getting within DRS range for several laps, but couldn’t quite get into a position to get by. At one stage he asked to try a different tyre strategy (as he had in Mexico), but the team once again vetoed his suggestion, insisting on keeping both cars on the same strategy.

Further back, Verstappen would once again demonstrate the skills that have him earmarked as a future world champion. A stunning move began on the outside of turn 1 ended at turn 2 with Verstappen somehow managing to avoid hitting Perez and avoid running wide, getting up into 9th. He repeated a similar move on lap 59, slipping by the Sauber of Felipe Nasr, having narrowly avoided a coming together on the previous lap.

Verstappen would also have a good but brief duel with Maldonado (who had tried to make a two-stop strategy work when everyone else had gone for a three-stop), eventually easing by him on lap 68)

VerstappenBrazil(Verstappen was once again composed)

It was a quiet race for the Williams team. Felipe Massa would end up disqualified from 8th place, due to having had a technical issue concerning tyre temperatures before the race, whilst Bottas was also in something of a void, taking 5th. Ferrari would lock out 3rd and 4th quite comfortably, with Vettel taking a strong podium and Raikkonen some way behind him.

At the front, Hamilton just could not get close enough to Rosberg, despite on a couple of occasions bringing the gap down as the pair of them hit traffic. For Rosberg, it would be his second consecutive victory, his second successive win in Brazil, and the 13th win of his career. It was in the end quite a comfortable, confident win – Rosberg is showing a different side to himself all of a sudden – where was this when it mattered?

Back to F1 2015

It is not surprising, but most certainly saddening, to see the broad brushstrokes being applied to Islam at the moment (especially by elements of the religious right).

Whilst is undoubtedly true that Islamic extremists are dangerous and hateful, this doesn’t make everyone who is a Muslim evil – yet it is all too easy to persuade people at times like this that they are.

Does Islam have its problems? Unquestionably. I am far from convinced that moderate voices do enough to combat the radical elements that encourage and carry out these attacks. This is even more astonishing when you consider that extremists target moderate Muslims as well! As I posted over at Big Footy:

… radicals want to remove those who are not ‘true believers’. Moderate voices are deemed thus and are therefore a threat.

After all, to an extremist, anyone that does follow their religion, nor in the exact same way, is not a true believer. The floods of refugees fleeing Syria are doing whatever they can to get to safety precisely because of this – because irrespective of whether they are Muslims, Jewish, Christians or anything else, they are not radical enough in their beliefs.

Religion, like a lot of things, boils down to interpretation, and Islam is not unique in this. Just as Islamic extremists target Non-Muslims and other Muslims alike, so have Christians done in the past, yet this would appear to be white-washed by some who feel they can somehow hold a moral high ground because of their beliefs. Violence between Protestants and Catholics raged for many years across Europe, and in fact continued until quite recently in Northern Ireland (it wouldn’t surprise me to learn if pockets of violence continue there even now). The primary difference between Christian and Muslim extremists is that Christian extremists have gotten clever, embedding themselves in the political machine of the USA, using their influence to quietly and patiently turn America into a theocracy (well, trying to). The hardline elements of the religious right (not just in America but here in Britain and elsewhere) seek to deny homosexuals rights, want to tell women what they can and can’t do with their own bodies, and desire pseudo-scientific ideas like creationism to be taught as scientific fact in schools.

Their goals are depressingly similar to extremist Muslims – only instead of cowardly attacks on innocent bystanders, they’ve gotten smart and use words.

Christian extremists also seek to tar Islam in sweeping strokes too. ‘Islam is a religion of violence’ they will say, whilst reminding us that Christianity is a peaceful religion – never mind its dark history.

So, to summarise :

Islamic extremism is extremely dangerous. The acts carried out in Paris on Friday (not to mention the numerous other atrocities carried out elsewhere) underscore the need to oppose IS and do so properly (striking through various means). It is vitally important to encourage moderate Muslims to play an active role (politically or otherwise) in opposing extremism, something which right now does not happen enough.

It is also important to remember that not all Muslims are responsible for the bloodshed. It is entirely unreasonable and unfair to make such hasty generalisations.