Fresh from a reasonable but somewhat stunted start for me personally comes round 2 of the iGP championship. The hot and bumpy venue of Malaysia is where the cars and teams have headed, with the weather pre-race looking set to be dry. Practice… well, see for yourself.

Being .758 seconds down on S. Mansell of Moe Corp didn’t necessarily mean anything. After all, J. Bernard, winner of the first race, was .555 seconds down of Mansell. However I wasn’t overly confident of challenging for a win. My car is very much a ‘work in progress’, not least of all because of tyre economy issues. I set up both cars on three-stop strategies, initially relying on combos of hard and soft compounds (two stints on each).

Long runs on the hard tyre mean a lot of fuel, so Thompson (starting on the hard tyre) qualified way down the field, however as the fuel decreased the car got faster, eventually pumping out competitive lap times and taking advantage of stops for cars in front. At one point Thompson was running in podium places, though it was always unlikely he’d stay there. Taylor meanwhile, started on the soft tyres but faded when he went onto the hard compound – he is young and still learning, though I wonder if a different strategy might be worth considering for him.

So how did the race pan out? For me personally, the target was P12, and I managed to beat that with a late piece of risk-taking. Rather than pit for soft tyres late on for Thompson, I took on supersofts for the last few laps. I was worried they would degrade too quickly, but they held out and allowed Thompson to climb up past cars on slower tyres.

Within the story of the race came a nice little conversation about coffee – Lou and George, I am pleased to say I now know your coffee habits! And sorry Lou for not pitting several times late on to help you out ;). Nicholas… I promised a mention and all I can say is, keep pushing! Time will yield results!

So who won? D Thompson of Black Arrows, who had been the dominant driver of the dominant team last season, won the race, but was only 1.883 seconds ahead of Australia’s pole sitter Schumacher. The pair were somewhat clear of the rest – Dudek completed the podium, seven seconds behind Thompson. Interestingly, Thompson won on a two-stop strategy, one of only two points finishers on a two-stopper (the other being Dudek). 8th place for my own Thompson was soured slightly by 24th place (out of 32 racers) for Taylor. He is very much a work in progress.

So after two rounds, the Constructor’s Championship looks like this:

1. Black Arrows: 63 points.

2. Badger Racing: 39 points.

3. RBHRT: 38 points.

4. 221op: 30 points.

5. Pulurburz: 16 points.

6. Meerkat Racing (yay!): 10 points.

7. Mopar: 4 points.

8. Melo Motorsports: 1 point.

9. kkrl3c4762551 (catchy name!): 1 point.

The Driver’s Championship looks like this:

1. D Thompson: 43

2. J Bernard: 35

3. R Dudek: 30

4. J Smith: 20

5. M Skaife: 20

6. M Schumacher: 18

7. D Hll: 16

8. G Thompson: 10

9. J Hill: 4

10. M Sato: 4

11. E Roberts: 1

12. M Wood: 1

Back to iGP Manager

 

 

As explained a little more detail here, I’ve got a game/app that is all about F1 management. These sorts of games have often failed to excite me, so it was nice to find one that is pretty good, offers real-time multiplayer, and even dynamic, real-time weather (if it’s really raining at Silverstone, expect a wet race on the game, and if the rain stops in reality, it stops in the game too). What I’m doing is keeping a record of the latest season, which is a 17-race event, starting with the Australian GP.

With a time of 1.24.881 M Schumacher (yes, I know, the players don’t choose the drivers’ names) of RBHRT set the quickest time in practice. My own best performance was from veteran G Thompson, setting a time of 1.25.265 and settling for 10th for Meerkat Racing, putting Thompson 0.384 seconds off the pace of Schumacher. Crucially, both cars were running the supersoft compound when their times were set and, intriguingly, the top 20 cars (yes, 20!) were all within a second of each other. With that in mind, strategy would become key for the race.

With that in mind I decided to split my strategy. Young but talented newbie G Taylor would run a two stop race, predominantly on the hard tyre but with a stint on mediums toward the end. Thompson would run a three-stopper, involving stints on the soft compound. The key issue will depend on temperature. Melbourne is the venue that hosts the Australian Grand Prix and the temperature looked set to be low.

Having qualified 13th with Thompson and 23rd with Taylor, after five laps Thompson had seasawed and was 11th with Taylor still 23rd. Schumacher was nearly seven seconds ahead of the chasing pack. By lap 7 the gap was eight seconds, but how would the supersofts hold out? Thompson was up to 9th for me.

Schumacher dropped to 14th after pitting and this promoted J Bernard, on soft tyres, into the lead. Further stops and suddenly I had Thompson in the top four! In fact, at one stage Thompson was leading, but it was short-lived. Meanwhile, Taylor was leaden with fuel on long hard tyre runs, which in hindsight hurt his race. He would fail to score any points, whilst Thompson would finish 7th (pretty good, but the target was 6th). Bernard won for Badger Racing with last season’s champ D Thompson (there’s a few Thompsons) was second for Black Arrows. Dudek of 221op completed the podium.


I don’t know if my aim to win a race is feasible, but with each race will come improvements to the car. We shall see.

Back to iGP Manager

 

Not for the first time my mind took me to some strange places in my dreams last night. I don’t know what prompted the first dream, and the other two were odd in different ways.

Hillary, World Champion?

It began in Las Vegas. At least, I think it was Vegas. My wife and I were watching a boxing match (strange really, as neither of us have any vested interest in boxing), between an unknown guy and… former First Lady Hillary Clinton. Yes, seriously.


Believe it or not, Hillary gave as good as she got, holding her own well into round 6 and possibly beyond. Even in the dream I couldn’t help but wonder ‘WTF’, and no, I don’t know how the fight ended.

War, with… Animals?

Onward to dream two (I don’t recall if this dream was a strange continuation of the first, but it’s so different it deserves to be classed as a separate dream). I’m driving a tank (or I’m a video game character driving a tank) and blasting enemy tanks in some sort of futuristic war. After wading through dirty sewer water, I’m talking to an anthramorphic fox when a nuke goes off. I blame a combo of Guardians of the Galaxy and the North Korean problem for that one.

Poignant Times

I know exactly what brought on the final dream. I was firstly waking around a supermarket with my wife and daughter, when for some reason we had to go off in opposite directions. My little girl wanted to come with me, so off we went to get a card for my Nan’s birthday, even though at this point she has been gone for five years. Still, it mattered to me to get this card – so off I went to find one.

Suddenly, we found ourselves in my Nan’s old home, even though it wasn’t actually her home. My brother was there, and my Nan was there too. She gave me a hug and it felt very real and very emotional (feeling a bit emotional as I write this). Sadly, my daughter couldn’t see her – my Nan was there for my brother and I.

Surreal and touching and emotional.

If there comes a moment where we look back on the 2017 F1 season and pinpoint the event that proved pivotal in the destiny of the championship, it would be the opening lap of the Singapore Grand Prix.

In qualifying things had panned out more or less as expected. The Ferraris and Red Bulls were faster than the Mercedes’, with Vettel parking his Ferrari in P1, despite Verstappen looking faster in Q1 and Q2. The young Dutchman lined up alongside Vettel, with Daniel Ricciardo slotting into third and Kimi Raikkonen fourth on the grid. Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were fifth and sixth in their Silver Arrows. The stage was seemingly set for Vettel to retake the championship lead.

There was an unexpected variance to proceedings. The notoriously hot and humid affair of the Singapore race was given the added dimension of rain, shortly before the race was due to start. Cue differing wet weather tyres, with some teams opting for full sets and others for inters. How would the conditions affect the race? Well, for three drivers it would have no impact, for their race was the ended on the first lap. As the lights went out Vettel got away reasonably well but Verstappen was already trying to get alongside him and Raikkonen was darting up the inside of Verstappen, having made the best start of the three. Vettel swerved aggressively to the left, forcing Verstappen into Raikkonen and promptly tipping Kimi’s car into the sidepod of Vettel’s own machine. Raikkonen skidded across the track, collecting Verstappen again, and Verstappen would knock into the fast-starting McLaren of Fernando Alonso. Alonso would initially carry on going, whilst Vettel would make it around the first sequence of corners but then suffer the problem of his front wing falling off. As it was, his car had a damaged radiator and that was that for the four-time champion.

FerrariCollide

Amidst the chaos Hamilton had climbed into the lead, with Ricciardo behind him. After a safety car spell (continuing the ‘tradition’ of a safety car at every Singapore Grand Prix) the action got underway again and Hamilton began to pull away from Ricciardo, apparently in defiance of how the race was expected to proceed. After a few laps Alonso retired; his car had been damaged in the first corner shunt and his best chance of a good points haul was gone. Elsewhere, Nico Hulkenberg was up into third in his Renault – quite impressive – with Bottas in fourth. The teams were contemplating tyre choices, waiting to see when the track would permit slick compounds, with everyone waiting for everyone else to blink first. The track was drying slowly, and the teams were given further food for thought when Danil Kvyat rammed his Toro Rossi into the wall, having just squeezed by one of the Haas cars. A second safety would nullify Hamilton’s advantage over Ricciardo – the Australian pitted for fresh inters whilst Hamilton stayed out. Hulkenberg lost out, with Renault waiting an extra lap to pit him, sending him tumbling down the order.

Within the middle of the pack there were a few surprises and a few scraps. The Force Indias, Haas’, Williams’ and Renaults were all getting mixed up, and there were some impressive performances. Sergio Perez qualified 12 but finished 5th. Lance Stroll, new to the venue, finished 8th having qualified 18th. McLaren rookie Stoffel Vandoorne took a very credible 7th. Yes, the crashes benefited quite a few drivers, but nonetheless the performances were good. A third safety car period (caused by the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson punting a wall on lap 35) didn’t do too much to transform the pecking order, but it did ensure that the race would run to its two-hour time limit.

Two other performances need mentioning. Jolyon Palmer, whose seat at Renault will be taken by Carlos Sainz next season, managed to score his first points of the season with sixth. It was important that he put himself in the shop window and he duly did so. Yes, he benefited from so many retirements, but then that benefited several drivers, and Palmer exploited it very well. However, it was Sainz who scored his best finish so far in F1 with fourth, providing evidence of his underlying talent, and validating Renault’s move for him.

The day though, belonged to Lewis Hamilton, who extended his championship to 28 points (more than a race win’s worth of points). The title race is far from over, but his advantage is considerable, and Vettel will be hoping for his chief rival to have a DNF of his own. Vettel could win the title anyway (if he won all the remaining races it wouldn’t matter where Hamilton finished), but with some of the remaining tracks seeming like strong prospects for Hamilton victories, it may be that the championship is now out of Vettel’s hands. He will need to start clawing Hamilton back next time, in Malaysia.


It won’t be long now before the sixth series of Star Trek hits the TV screens. Annoyingly, the plan is to air Star Trek Discovery behind a ‘pay wall’, namely by sticking on the streaming service Netflix. To be, this goes against the ideals of inclusiveness and openness that Star Trek is all about. Yes, studios want to make money and I get that streaming is big business, but that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow. I’ll not be paying out still more money for the sake of one show, even if Star Trek is wired into my DNA. 


That aside, this post isn’t really a rant about that, but rather, it’s about the ferocious criticisms of a show that hasn’t even aired yet. I’ve seen posts on Twitter that complain this show ‘is made for social justice warriors’ and that they won’t be watching it – for those of you wondering what’s meant by that, their issue is with a black female lead, a Chinese woman as a captain and the inclusion of at least one homosexual character. 


Guys, this is Star Trek, a franchise built upon challenging misconceptions and giving social issues a platform. Anyone who’s seen the original 1960s show will be fully aware of the social commentary on offer, to say nothing of the controversy it generated. Subsequent shows have continued to offer up this sort of thing. It’s what Star Trek does. Besides, the tantrums being thrown on the web at the idea of women in charge only go to show why putting them in charge in necessary. Something needs to push back against this sort of misogyny, and it’s not just misogyny.

Racism plays a part in the objections too. I don’t recall the idea of Captain Janeway – a woman – in Voyager creating nearly as much of a backlash as the casting of Michelle Yeoh as Captain Han Bo and Sonequa Martin as Commander Rainsford. Might it be because Yeoh is Chinese and Martin is black? Are we not only as a fanbase hung up on female leads, but on race as well? 


Come on people. Star Trek was placing black women on the bridge of a starship in the 1960s. Have we made no progress since then? Are we not a fanbase of inclusion? Where are the principles of diversity and equality that the show itself has long practiced? Let’s not shame ourselves by rejecting the core message at the heart of the franchise. We are not sexist, or racist, or homophobic. Let’s be better than that.

wpid-wp-1421593036040.png

Welcome to F1’s premiere night race, and one of those rare sights – a counter-clockwise race. It is also one of the most gruelling tests of a driver’s stamina and endurance, for this bumpy track is surrounded by walls that will punish the slightest mistake, whilst the drivers must race for nearly two hours in hot, humid conditions that will leave them literally sweating off the pounds. This is Singapore.

Such is the nature of the venue that there has been a safety car at every single F1 race held here, and with the 2017 cars allowing for faster cornering it will not be a surprise to anyone if we get another safety car on Sunday. This long lap has several areas that could yield accidents, including the twisty turns at the start of the lap and the end of the DRS section that is Raffles Boulevard. The infamous ‘Singapore Sling’ that is now turn 10 has been neutered in recent years but turn 13 is a very tight left-hander and the sequence through turns 16-21 comes up pretty fast on the drivers.

The generally accepted idea is that Ferrari will have an edge on Mercedes here, with Ferrari’s car being better adapted to the slower, high-downforce circuits. It remains to be seen if that theory pans out, though it has been true of previous races, whilst Red Bull will being eying up a chance to get right into the mix here. Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen could well be wildcards in proceedings on Sunday, especially if they qualify strongly.

Another team with hopes of getting a decent points haul will be McLaren, who have announced they’ll be splitting from Honda at the end of the year. The plan for 2018 is to run Renault engines, which in theory is only a marginal improvement on where they are now, but it will be a step in the right direction. For now, the slow corners of Singapore will suit their overall design better than any remaining track.

From a championship perspective the equation is very simple – if Sebastian Vettel picks up a win he will go back into the lead of the title race, no matter where Lewis Hamilton finishes. Given that Vettel has more wins here than anyone else, he has every reason to be confident of his chances. For Hamilton Sunday might be all about damage limitation. We shall see.

Time is a funny thing. It can feel painfully slow sometimes, such as when you’re a kid in school, watching the clock, wanting desperately for the school day to end. Yet you can wake up one day, and it will have been over a decade since you were at school, leaving you to wonder, where did that time go? My daughter is seven – yet I can remember the day she was born like it was yesterday. Where did all that time go?!

Today is a particular poignant reminder of how time flies. On this day, twenty years ago, my Grandad left us. He was a wonderful man, who did not judge, did not get angry, did not do anything except take everything life threw at him in good humour and grace. In his youth he had served in the Army and fought the Nazis; he was brave, courageous and noble. I have many memories of listening to him talk about the war, though I’m sure he left out the gory details, on account of how young my brother and I were. His was a good soul, and to think  that it’s been twenty years… it’s just staggering.

Tonight I will raise a toast to this wonderful man, and I will look up to the Heavens and hope that somewhere, my Grandad is proud of me. I love you Grandad, and I miss you. x

Noooooooooooooooo! That pretty sums up what my inner child was screaming as I watched the latest (and hopefully last) of the Michael Bay-era Transformers movies. Whilst the first film was average without being a complete wreck, they’ve gotten worse, and The Last Knight is simply an exercise in going through the motions. Here, I’ll sum up the story (which co-incidentally will sum up the stories of the previous films). In ancient times it turns out there were Transformers who did some stuff and got written into legend. In modern times some important event/artefact resurfaces and the Autobots fight the Decepticons for it. Also, the Autobots are being hunted by mean human agencies. Rinse and repeat.

Throw in some rubbish jokes and you have yourself a Transformers film. It was so distinctly ‘meh’ that I didn’t even give it my full attention – indeed, I couldn’t give it my full attention – it wasn’t good enough to manage to do that. These movies have none of the spirit of the cartoon series that I knew and loved, way back in my youth. They have taken the heart of the Transformers show and ripped it out, then stamped on it with steel-capped boots. The Last Knight is no exception to this rule and I can only hope it will mark the end of this particular series, though given that the flashy explosions and crass humour is a box office winner, I suspect we’ll have more of these crappy films to endure at some stage.

What makes these films even worse is the disorientated action sequences that often just become blurred jumbles, and The Last Knight suffers from this in spades. As always the Decepticons are virtually in indistinguishable from each other and only Megatron has a personality.

I can’t give this film any more than 3/10.

Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix (or as it should be known, the Grid Penalty Grand Prix) will perhaps be best remembered for the chaotic qualifying, and for the host of penalties that saw the field shuffled to a near-farcical degree for race day. I understand that the FIA have to impose some kind of penalty for rule infractions, but the extent of it in Italy was insane.

Qualifying was equally insane, with torrential rain leading to a lengthy delay to the session, following an early crash from Grosjean in his Haas. When (after a couple of hours) qualifying did finally take place, it was the Mercedes of Hamilton who dominated, albeit not without a minor scare from an unlikely place – the Force India of Ocon was at one point running top of the standings in Q3, with the cars kicking up huge amounts of spray in the sodden conditions. In the end though, Lewis Hamilton took his 69th career pole and in doing so, claimed the record for the most poles in F1 (overhauling Michael Schumacher’s record of 68). Elsewhere, the craziness of the penalties meant young Williams driver Lance Stroll would start second and Ocon was third. Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes would start fourth, just ahead of the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

The poor showing in qualifying from the Ferraris (at least, in relation to Hamilton, who was 2.5 seconds faster than his title rival Vettel) was at least in part due to the wet conditions in which Hamilton excels, so come the race itself there was a hope that they could turn things around, even if only a little. An early tussle between Raikkonen and Bottas saw the two get very close at one point, before Bottas, even before DRS was active, blew by the Ferrari. Stroll (who had started cautiously and let Ocon get ahead of him) was an easy target for Bottas, and soon the Finn was by Ocon as well. Hamilton was out in front, easing out a gap of around four seconds and content to control the pace from there.

Vettel would get by Raikkonen in short order, and soon he too was dispensing Stroll and Ocon, aided in part by Stroll trying to put pressure on the Force India man. Once Vettel was in clear air he would have hoped to exert some pressure of his own on the Mercedes duo, but he was powerless to get near them, and the two Silver Arrows streaked off into the distance.

The Red Bulls of Ricciardo and Verstappen had found themselves out of position near the back of the pack, thanks to the aforementioned grid penalties, but Ricciardo was charging up the order – despite a weaker Renault engine, the setup of the Red Bulls was near-perfect, allowing Ricciardo to pump in some very fast laps. Verstappen was not so lucky, suffering a puncture early on after a tangle with the second Williams of Felipe Massa, and fell down the order. He would work his way back up, eventually stealing a point for 10th, but it was Ricciardo who went on to earn the driver of the day tag, reaching fourth after a typically bold display of late braking into turn 1, diving down the inside of Raikkonen. He then chased after Vettel (by this point, Ricciardo was on supersoft tyres, whereas Vettel was on softs), but couldn’t quite catch him.

Hamilton would cruise to a comfortable victory and Mercedes would claim only their second one-two finish of the year, stretching their lead in the constructor’s championship, whilst Hamilton now leads the driver’s championship, albeit by only three points. It was his sixth win of the season, the first time anyone has won back-to-back races this year, and his 39th win from pole, along with the 59th of his career. It remains to be seen whether this is a tipping point in the title fight, with the next round in Singapore in theory favouring Ferrari.

 

Time to get a little emotional. Today my baby starts junior school, which is a surreal sentence to write. I don’t see how she can be that big, yet she is off to begin the next chapter of her education and start the next chapter of her life. My baby is not a baby, not anymore.

Such is the way of life. We can only move forward with time, though sometimes, wouldn’t it be nice for time to move more slowly?