A fairly humdrum Belgian Grand Prix saw Lewis Hamilton halve the gap to Sebastian Vettel by taking top spot, and managing to absorb the near-constant presence of the Ferrari driver throughout the race. Vettel was never much farther than two seconds behind Hamilton, requiring the Mercedes man to be on his game, and on it he was – Hamilton coped nicely with the pressure, and the car itself demonstrated its strength on circuits like Spa – even on the soft tyres, Hamilton was able to control the gap to Vettel, who was running on the ultrasoft tyres at the end, following a safety car. The incident that led to the safety car… that was more than a little interesting.

Perez and Ocon get Rough

On the very first lap Perez, whilst tangling with another car on the run up to Eau Rouge, nearly pushed his Force India teammate Ocon into the wall. That could be forgiven as a racing incident – what happened as the race entered its final third was more controversial and likely to cause a heated discussion as the team try to deal with this latest moment of contact between the pair. Ocon was trying to get by Perez (the two had been battling throughout the race) and the Frenchman felt he’d been unfairly squeezed as the pair once again approached Eau Rouge at great speed. Ocon ended up losing part of his front wing and Perez suffered a puncture that ruined his race, though Ocon would recover to finish ninth. Ocon had some harsh words for Perez in the immediate aftermath of the race – it remains to be seen what the team will do.

Alonso’s had Enough

After qualifying 11th, Alonso put his McLaren up to seventh on the first lap, but it quickly became apparent that the underpowered Honda engine wasn’t going to resist the faster cars behind it, and Alonso dropped back down the field, much to his consternation. It’s difficult to believe he will end up staying at McLaren if they don’t make serious changes.

Verstappen’s Woes

For the sixth time in twelve races, Max Verstappen ended up retiring – this was an engine fault (it’s not the first time that’s happened this year), and it only took eight laps for his car to give up on him. That particular little detail also led to a ten-second stop go penalty for Raikkonen, who had failed to slow enough at the yellow flags. Raikkonen would recover pretty well, ending up in fourth, benefiting from the safety car as Bottas went wide at the end of the Kemmel Straight, during a particularly audacious move by Daniel Ricciardo (who went on to take third place, a very credible result given Red Bull’s power deficiencies in Belgium.

The Gap Shrinks

Hamilton’s win (on a weekend where he also equalled Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 68 pole positions) sees him reduce his deficit to Vettel to seven points. His fifth win of the year was a vital one – in a week’s time in Italy, another power track, he has the chance to at the very least draw level with Vettel, an absolute must with Singapore (a Ferrari track) looming.

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They’ve had four weeks off, now they can get back to work! Formula 1 returns at the weekend, and it will involve one of its most famous venues – Spa-Francorchamps.

The track itself has changed considerably over the years, with the original configuration being a 15km-long run through the forests that involved a great deal of danger. Spa is one of the deadliest circuits, having claimed 48 racer’s across various motorsport formulas since 1925, as well as four officials. It is a testing, challenging race, for a variety of reasons.

It’s not uncommon for rain to add an extra dimension to proceedings, and it’s been known for parts of the track to be damp and other parts to be dry, owing to the rolling, hilly nature of the place. The first sector is very fast, so low-down force settings are desired, but sector two is filled with winding mid-speed corners that are better suited to more down force, whilst sector three goes back to being fast again. Therefore, Spa is tricky to pin down in terms of setup.

So, with the faster cars of 2017, we can expect some very fast lap times around here, and it might approach some hair-raising speeds, especially as the cars go screaming up the superfast kink of Eau Rouge, before hurtling down the Kemmel Straight. With the Kemmel Straight usually being a DRS zone too, this could create some nail-biting moments on the approach to turn 7 and the Les Combes complex. Likewise the run down Blanchimont toward the final chicane will create some spectacular overtaking opportunities and some tense moments.

The expectation is that Mercedes will have the slight edge over Ferrari here, and therefore Lewis Hamilton will have a golden opportunity to close the gap on championship leader Sebastian Vettel. However, 2017 has so far proven that nothing should be assumed, so I won’t be making any bold predictions. Instead, I will hope for a fun, interesting and close race!

I saw this on Twitter, earlier today, and wanted to correct a few misconceptions.

Firstly, atheism and communism are not one and the same. I have this argument brought up again and again as a sign that those of a religious faith are more ‘moral’ and better than atheists. You can be a communist and an atheist. You can be a communist and a Christian, or a communist and a Muslim. You can a capitalist and an atheist (and so on). This is a classic example of ‘false equivalence’, a problem that seems to be growing in the wake of Trump’s ill-fated words on the Charlottesville riots. That the followers of Stalin’s breed of communism carried out so many atrocities has nothing to do with the absence of faith. Atheists do not see themselves as gods, and do not act in the interests of only themselves (well, some of them perhaps, some of them don’t, but guess what, this applies to people who are religious too, no matter what they may say). This swings back to discussions and comments on the subject of morality. It also wants to treat various blocs of people as monolithic entities. ‘All atheists think X, all Christians think Y, all Muslims think Z’. This is completely false. It’s a method of thinking that gives rise to all sorts of unreasonable stereotypes that end up doing far more harm than good.

People have died in the name of political causes, cultural ideals, and yes, religious beliefs. Morality is not something that can be sourced only through divine ideas. Anyone, from any walk of life, is capable of being cruel. Equally, anyone is capable of acts of great compassion. Can we move past the idea that only the faithful can be moral?

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Sometimes kids will mispronounce things, and it can be hilarious! They will also come out with funny stuff. My daughter frequently reminds her mother and I that ‘we’re allowed to kiss because we’re married.’ When she was smaller she would sometimes ask to watch Shrek and Fiona, but get her words jumbled and come up with something virtually unprintable…

She was travelling home on the train from a day out yesterday and chatting away to her niece (yes, my daughter is an auntie – it’s a complicated family dynamic!), who is around the same age. I was at work at this point so I didn’t get to witness this first hand – if I had, I don’t think I’d have been able to keep a straight face…

So they’re ‘having tea’ and making their purses talk… yes, talk. Then my daughter has said something along the lines of ‘and let’s not talk about the time when I shit my pants at the party!’. How my wife didn’t erupt into fits of laughter I do not know. My step-daughter thinks she actually said ‘when I lost my pants’, which is to be honest, nearly as funny, but still!

To answer this question effectively, we need to go back, to a time before she was born – to the time when I first learned I was going to be a father. We’d been trying for a baby for a little while, but I wasn’t sure how long it would take for my wife to fall pregnant. Then, one evening, she took a test, and it came up as positive. Another test followed the next morning; she confirmed it – she was pregnant – I was going to be a father!

I went to work that morning in something of a daze. I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to tell everyone, but of course, you can’t – so I kept my mouth shut, waiting until the twelve week scan mark. That felt like a long wait!

In fact, whilst I waited for nine months to see my little girl, it actually felt like a moment my whole life had been building up to. Sitting with my wife in the hospital as we waited, and waited, and waited for my daughter to arrive, was one of the longest days (and nights!) of my life. Then, after an eternity, one of the midwifes announced she could see the baby’s head, and at that point, I felt my control snap. Emotions hit me and hit me hard. This was the moment I would finally lay eyes on my baby.

I cried. I cried when she appeared, I cried when she let out her little cry, and when I got to hold her for the first time, telling her (as my voice threatened to crack) ‘hello, I’m your daddy’. Even as I type this, I can feel myself welling up. In that moment, my life and my world were complete. I had everything I could never want or need.

The other day I posted a call to ask me questions. Well, I already have quite a few! The first of these asks ‘how I met my wife?’

The year was 1889… actually it was July 2004. England had not long made their customary hurried exit from a major football tournament. The Cassini-Huygens probe entered orbit around Saturn. If we want to get technical, I’d started talking to the lady who would become my wife a few weeks before, online and on the phone, but I didn’t actually meet her until the 10th of July, 2004.

It was a hot day. I made my way from King’s Cross station to Fenchurch Street (previously completely unknown to me), and met her as she got off a train. Straight away I thought she was beautiful, but we were meeting as friends (in fact, the original plan was for a group meet-up via a web forum, that everyone blew out), and I wasn’t going to presume anything. I just wanted to have a nice day that would be different from the usual weekend fare, and if that led anywhere…

So, what did we do? My memories aren’t 100% anymore, but I recall visiting an art gallery, and having lunch at Planet Hollywood, which included an amazing chocolate brownie dessert thingy, that I took a photo of, and still had until recently. We wandered around Covent Garden and Leicester Square. I felt myself wanting to get to know this woman more. I was a little guarded back then – a few bad experiences made me wary of opening up – but she put me at ease. I could relax with her. By the end of the day, we were kissing, cuddling, and I knew I had to see her again. We parted ways, but that night, I could still feel her arms wrapped around me. It was the strangest sensation, the warmest and happiest feeling, and one I’d never felt before. Since then, we’ve had our ups and downs, as all couples have, but it didn’t take me long to decide I wanted to marry her, even if the proposal wasn’t the most elegant proposal! I don’t remember exactly how long it had been, but I knew I wouldn’t find anyone who would understand me quite like she did.

The rest, as they say, is history! Here we are, thirteen years later, and we’ve been married for nearly eight of those. We have a beautiful daughter, a happy home, and I have found my place in this crazy world.