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So after a brief break it was back to the fray and back to China for round 3 of the 2010 season.

The first two races had gone very well – wins at circuits I hadn’t quite been able to quite win at before had given me confidence ahead of Shanghai. Last time around I could only manage 5th place, owing to some silly errors and hurting my tyres, despite qualifying on pole. This time, a few tweaks to the setup (aerodynamic changes for speed and gearbox changes for acceleration) yielded promising results in practice, though I could only manage 5th fastest in P1.

The same was true of Q1. 5th fastest and half a second off the best time wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be, but I was able to get through Q1 and Q2 to the final round and, with the race strategy set and a different fuel load for Q3, I was able to qualify in 2nd.

Webber was ahead of me, and at the start he not only stayed ahead but Ferrari’s Massa got ahead of me too. However as we began lap two I breezed past both of them into turn 1 and Would move on to win the race quite comfortably. I would lose the lead at every pit stop but as the cars ahead pitted I would regain the lead every time.

The track is filled with a number of weaving corners and pretty tight turns that are slower than they look. Turn 1 is a loooong right-hander and and whilst there are points where it can be hit quite fast, you do need to be firm with the brakes throughout.

Turns 6, 9 and 11 are also quite tight and require some pretty solid applications of the breaks, whilst turn 10 is actually quite fast, and turn 15 is a brutal hairpin followed up by a slightly tricky left-hander that can be quite quick, but only if you judge it right – otherwise you’re going for a spin!

So, 30 points from a possible 30. Button has had three second places so now he’s on 24 points. I hadn’t expected to lead the title race so comfortably at this stage. Here’s hoping I can keep this up!

As February slowly gives way to March (crawling slowly on its belly as it happens), I look back upon the first two months of the year with… well, I don’t think regret is the right word but it’s the only word that springs to mind.

The two jobs I was especially keen on landing both didn’t work out. Several other applications and interviews in that period didn’t work out either, which is quite frustrating.

I suppose what’s been frustrating me more than anything is that my current job has been getting quite stressful during this period. My manager, whom I have a lot of respect for, resigned in the middle of January and I can honestly say I don’t feel that head office have been overly supportive (and certainly haven’t moved their arses when it came to finding a replacement). This has of course led to extra work for me and my colleagues, and though we’ve had support from other stores, sickness has taken its toll on us as well.

Add on endless tasking from head office (they seem to forget we have actually have customers to tend to), and it’s getting on my nerves. There are endless collations, training exercises, pogs and promotions to do – on top of stock, and on top of reports. I thought we were supposed to be a customer-facing environment?

Still, on the horizon is firstly my wife’s birthday, followed by her going to see Spandau Ballet in concert! Next is a trip to Bristol for a gathering of the ‘clan’, for my mother’s birthday and also for other relatives’ birthdays. Following on from that, my brother’s birthday and a family trip to Great Yarmouth for a week! So, even if the job hunting isn’t proving to successful right now, at least there are prospects for R and R!

complaining

 

So a man comes into the store. He notices that we (regrettably) have 2014 calendars still out. Obviously, we shouldn’t have them out. It’s an unfortunate oversight. He tells me he’s taken a picture of them and will make head office aware.

Aware of what? That we’re human beings, trying our hardest to do our jobs, without nitpicky arseholes making it harder with their minuate approach to life? Piss off!

 

So, the second race of season 2 brings us back to Sepang, Malaysia – where I didn’t fare too well last time.

Sepang

My first run through here saw the race run in wet conditions and I struggled, ultimately putting the brake assist on in order to handle the circuit and conditions. This time around, I was determined to complete the race properly, even if it meant a bad race.

Practice in wet conditions saw me a second or so off the pace (quite a gap!) and really struggling for speed. Tweaks to the setup didn’t yield an especially good response so I had to be brave and push the aerodynamics for even better speed, at the expense of grip, in a wet qualifying. The first two sessions saw me scrape through to Q3, whereupon I managed to squeeze into pole! (I’m not sure how – the changes to the car must have been better than I expected).

The track is a pretty fast one but you cannot make too many concessions to speed here, as there are quite a few hard, tight corners that require good downforce. Turn 4 was an area in the wet where initially, I would slide wide, and turn 7, whilst reasonably quick, is not a corner you can hit flat out, or else you will bounce onto the grass.

Turn 9 is a monster of a left-hander and I didn’t like this corner the first time around. This time, I was approaching it with the benefit of experience, and thus it (and the deceptively quick turn 11) were not so bad.

The race itself was a lot better than last season (where I could only manage 5th). I slipped down to third to start with, but was back in the lead by the end of lap 1 and, aside from going back down to second after the first pit stops, remained in the lead for the entire race. Dry conditions undoubtedly helped me here – the track is a lot easier!

Once again I ran a three-stop race, and once again only one stint on the hard tyres. I think this is benefiting me considerably – Two wins out of two for the season gives me a four-point lead over Button already, whereas at this point before I was behind by at least six or seven points. Definitely a good turn around!

So it’s apparent to anyone reading this site that the main site hasn’t seen an update in a little while. This is not because I am not working on the site – I have plans in place – but rather because real life takes precedence and right now, there is a lot going on as far as that front is concerned.

I recently had an interview with a very prestigious company based in London, but unfortunately that particular set of interviews did not result in the job. I freely admit to feeling somewhat gutted by this – the job would have involved considerable travel, but it would have been worth it, of that I am certain.

Still, I have another option. I did not come at this with only one move. On Monday I will have another crack at a different job, but one that just so happens to be with the same company.

What with work itself being a hectic, stressful environment right now, and with interviews here and there, it is fair to say I have not had much time to devote to the site. I will post some updates as the year goes by, but honestly, at this point, I cannot say how frequently. Real life comes first, in all things.

MelbourneSo, having won the 2009 F1 championship with a final-race win at Abu Dhabi, after a short break it was time to return to action – to defend my title.

The game doesn’t generate any new tracks for 2010, nor does it reorder the races, so it was back to Australia for the 2010 race! The circuit, at Melbourne, was unchanged, and as such retained the brilliant fast elements that make the track a driver and fan favourite.

A season’s worth of experience allowed me to attack the track far more than I had the first time around. More aggression and less caution meant I handled previously tricky corners like the tight turn 3 and the equally tight turn 9 with greater confidence, braking a touch later and turning in a touch earlier. My entrance (and exit) into the pretty quick turn 1 was also smoother. I continued to approach the turn 13-14 sequence quite fast, before squeezing the brakes hard for turn 15.

Before I continue, I had remained with BMW Sauber (just wanted to point that out!).

Confession time. The first time I ran this race I restarted it after a collision with a backmarker who, for whatever reason, did not clear the racing line, leading me to hit the back of him, lose my front wheel and suffer a drive-through penalty. I was not amused, and put this down to an AI glitch. The cars are supposed to move off the racing line, rather than across it, right into my path!

In the practice sessions I was once again fastest, and this carried on into qualifying, where I would get a 13th career pole. At the very start of the race Jenson Button would pull ahead of me, but by the third corner I was back ahead, where I would stay until lap 8.

On lap 8 my rear-left tyre developed a puncture. Having already restarted the race once, I was reluctant to do so again, and so took a chance on pitting to see if the AI would in fact recognise the problem and fix it. For a change, my tyres were indeed changed – I lost the lead (and in fact slipped down to 10th), and would have to complete 20 laps on soft tyres, but I managed to make the tyres last as I gradually fought my way back up the field (aided by some of the guys in front pitting). On lap 28 I pitted again and would again lose the lead, but I would only drop to 3rd, and that would become 2nd quite quickly owing to more pit stops. I would catch and pass Button quite easily (he got bogged down in traffic), and by the time of my final pit stop I was able to retain the lead, and I would maintain my lead.

My first win of the season and ninth of my career was by some 16 seconds, an ultimately comfortable win despite the puncture, and sets me up nicely for the rest of the season. I did not fare too well in Malaysia last time, but this time, hopefully, will be different!

So, recently I have been doing some searching. As part of this, I have had to twice travel into London, and not just to the immediate corner of London, but I’ve had to make my way across the city. Cue a voyage on the infamous London Underground.

Last Sunday the journey was diabolical (the result of engineering works that turned the main line portion of the journey into a prolonged nightmare), but today’s trip was more in line with what I expected – 40 minutes into London, then another 20 minutes or so on the Tube (but this doesn’t include the walk to the station, which is about 20 minutes.

So, factoring in any delays or problems, we’re looking at an hour and a half – so a three hour round trip all in all.

Contrast this to my present situation, where I can walk to work in about 20 minutes, so of course, I spend 40 minutes per day ‘traveling’, as it were.

I won’t lie – I feel shattered tonight, and doing this on a regular basis is bound to see that trend continue – mind you, I have a stinking cold (to the point where my right ear feels bunged up!), which isn’t helping the way I feel. At full health, I might not feel so tired!

The new job (should I get it) will be mean less time at home during work days. I will have to leave home earlier and won’t get home till much later – this in turn means less time with my wife and daughter. This is by far the biggest stumbling block for me – I don’t know how well I will take to that set of circumstances.

The other main consideration is of course, money. The potential new job will certainly pay better (and offers commission, which my current job doesn’t), but of course, some of this will be offset by travel expenses. Then of course, there’s potential changes to tax codes and whatnot.

All in all though, when I think of what the new job could mean for my CV, and where it could take me, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, that I just can’t afford to pass up. Should I get the job, I can’t begin to properly explain what it would mean for my career. It’s completely stalled with my current employers – but this, this could really change things. I could afford to treat my family far more than I can right now, including nice holidays and surprise treats.

I have one other interview lined up, sort of a ‘Plan B’, which I feel is only prudent. Plan B is actually quite a good prospect in itself, and one I would be quite happy to land – I’ll certainly give it my all in the interview, because I cannot and will not put all my eggs in one basket. Still, for all the hassle of travel, and for all the time away from home, Plan A is what I want.

So it’s clear that I haven’t made any serious updates to this site for a while. Between the ever-hectic job (where the pressure is currently unrelenting) and having a snuffly, restless four year old (who is more keen to sleep in mummy and daddy’s bed than her own after waking up at stupid o’clock), it is fair to say I feel knackered!

I am in the process of seeking a better path for myself, career-wise. To that end, I have two particularly intriguing prospects that I obviously cannot name on here, but both have their distinct perks and both promise better financial gains.

One is as a salesman, with team leader responsibilities, which is similar to my current job, except with a greater emphasis on the sales aspect. The other is as a manager, with a company on the up, in an industry which is quite secure.

I might not get either job. I might be offered both (in which case I have a tough decision to make). I really hope to hear from one of them soon!

So we have reached the end of the road. After a season that saw me trail Brawn’s Jenson Button for most of it, the final event is here, and Button is not the man who can deny me the title.

After the previous race in Brazil, I wqs nine points clear of Red Bull’s Mark Webber, and the best he could score was 10 points. Therefore, for him, winning the race is the only chance he had.

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The Yas Marinas circuit was first introduced to Formula 1 in 2009, and it has played host to a number of season finales. In 2010 it was the venue as Sebastian Vettel clinched his first title, having not previously led the standings at any prior stage. It was also the place where Lewis Hamilton would win his second title in 2014.

The track is quite fast, with one or two unique kinks that, from a fan perspective, don’t necessarily need to be there, but are certainly fun to drive! Turn 1 is reasonably fast, but you need to snap the car back onto a straight line or you’re going onto the gravel.

The next couple of corners are fast, sweeping and lead down to a chicane that slows you right down before a tight left hairpin. You’re then onto the main straight, and after a hard hit of the brakes for another chicane, you’re back onto another fast straight.

The final portion of the track is a windy, bendy sequence that is superficially fast but keeps you honest – overdo it and you will go wide.

In practice it was clear I was comfortably quicker than everyone else, and this form carried on into qualifying (though curiously, in Q1 I was only 4th), with yet another pole position secured. At the start of the race, I was beaten off the line by Button but got back by him by the end of the lap and proceeded to open up a big lead – until around lap seven/eight, when my front right tyre locked up.

Game mechanics being what they are, I could not pit until lap 12, but despite this, I was still some 11 seconds in the lead when I stopped. I rejoined in 8th, and as everyone ahead of me pitted, it wasn’t long before I was back in the lead.

After my second stop, I emerged only half a second in front of Webber, but again pulled away, and after my final stop, I was completely clear. From that point forward, it was a case of concentration – taking each lap as it came, making sure not to run into the back of any lapped cars.

As I finished the final lap, I also took my eighth win of the season, and more importantly, I had finally managed to win a world championship!

It’s been a long journey, and a fun one. I have learned to persevere with something that had previously done nothing but frustrate me. I took the time to learn the tracks and figure out how the tyres perform. I won 8 races, which is far better than I’d ever managed before, and than I’d imagined. I am especially proud of winning at Monaco, and I would have won at Singapore (another track I don’t like) if not for engine failure.

I am delighted with how the season has gone. to complete every race, at full length, was a gruelling experience but one I look forward to repeating for season two!

Having qualified on pole and hoping for a dry race, my immediate thought upon realising this was to be a wet race was that I would not be securing the title in Brazil. A slow start saw Webber’s Red Bull edge ahead of me and maintain a gap of around four seconds, that I just couldn’t eat into. I yearned to get by him, needing to finish ahead of both Webber and Button to become champion, but as the laps progressed and my tyres deterioated, it didn’t seem that I would get the chance.

I did, briefly, get ahead of him as we hit backmarkers, but I was painfully slow on badly worn tyres (my strategy was for a dry race, and the game gives no option to adjust for conditions), and after the first set of stops I just in front of Button. Webber, Vettel, Hamilton and the surprisingly quick Massa would all pit, and I would emerge ahead of Webber to be in the driving seat for the title.

A second long stint hurt me once again, with both Red Bulls hounding me, and I had to work hard at one stage to catch and pass Hamilton.

Still, my pace was generally good, and I wound up in the lead as we approached the final stops – then fate, often so fickle, intervened.

My front right tyre developed a puncture, and the game mechanics being what they are, I was not called into the pits. The result? I lost the lead and had to pit from a few seconds behind Webber. When I emerged, I had 13 laps to chase down Hamilton (which I did), and somehow close a 22 second gap on the Red Bulls. Traffic allowed me to get within 10 seconds of them, but I couldn’t quite get close enough.

Still, Vettel stuffed up Webber by denying him victory, so my third place, and Webber’s second place, means we go into the final race with me on 110 points and him on 101. With a 9 point lead and only 10 available max, I am in a commanding position. Still, it ain’t over till it’s over, and whilst Webber must win, should he do so, and should I fail to score any points, he will be champion. We’ll find out next time.