After mixed feelings following the Malaysian Grand Prix (disappointed  to need brake assist, pleased to come from 13th to 5th), I took on the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai.

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In practice I was generally able to go pretty fast and put in some very competitive lap times. I dare say I enjoyed this track, which featured some meaty corners and good straights to really put the hammer down. Turns 9 and 10 were a good test (9 being fairly slow but leading into a deceptively fast turn 10), and turn 16 is one you think you can attack quickly but you do need a healthy application of the brakes!

Qualifying went extremely well. I secured my 2nd pole of the season (a tad to my own surprise), but the race was not as great. I didn’t have a great start, and was somewhat clumsy on more than one occasion, running wide here and there. I also taxed my tyres too hard (especially my soft tyres) which hindered me considerably.

5th was the best I could achieve, which was a bit disappointing considering my qualifying performance. Still, three points-scoring finishes in three races was quite good!

So, onwards to the second part of my F1 2009 Wii edition career! Round two was at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia:

SepangThis was my first experience of a wet race – and I didn’t enjoy it! My practice sessions didn’t fare too well, but with a clear track ahead of me I was able to cope reasonably well.

The problems arose when other cars were on track.

My chief issue was with the spray. Being unable to see the cars ahead, and not being able to judge exactly where they were, meant going off track quite horribly or collisions. Combine this with problems at turns four, nine and 14, and things were set for a disaster!

I can’t recall exactly where I qualified, but it was no higher than 13th, a big difference from Melbourne (where I’d managed pole). With the race being a wet one, I struggled through the first few laps, and after a while I had no choice but to turn braking assists on.

You might think this was better for me overall, and in some respects it was (after all, I stayed on track!), but the assisted braking on this game is pretty conservative, leading to you braking earlier than you might otherwise be prepared to do, and it certainly makes it hard to out-brake other cars. I was able to fight my way to an eventual finish of 5th, and four valuable points, but I wasn’t pleased with myself. Not only did I not manage the race especially well, but I wasn’t able to complete the race with the assists turned off. I aimed for better things at the next race, in China.

BMWSAUBERSEPANG(art imitates life – the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix was indeed a wet one!)

So, after a year of exciting F1 action this season, we have come to a point where F1 is absent from our screens until next March! Argh!

In a bid to not go completely mad without my F1, I started a game on F1 2009 (Wii edition). Why 2009? Well, simply put, it’s the only F1 game I am any good at!

Though I usually have brake and steering assists very much on, this time around, I decided I would do things differently. This time, I would make a concerted effort to do this properly. This time, I am in charge of braking and have nothing to help me steer. I do have traction control and automatic gears turned on, because I am, frankly, not that brave.

I somehow managed to get through testing with BMW Sauber in a fast enough time to get a seat for them, and thus, my story begins:

BMWSAUBER(my car for the 2009 season)

Round 1 – Australia

I approached the first race at Melbourne, Australia, with a certain sense of trepidation. There are one or two corners (turn three in particular) that have often out-foxed me, even with the assists on, so I wasn’t sure how things would go. Practise sessions only served to highlight for me my problems with those corners, but I knew I had to plug away if I was to have any chance of a decent points finish.

When I got the lap right, I was quick, mixing it up with the Brawns and Red Bulls. Unfortunately, I did not usually get a clean lap in, and it took every last bit of focus I had to get through to the final round of qualifying (in fact, I surprised myself by managing that).

I astonished myself by getting pole.

Melbourne(turns 3, 9 and at times 13 and 15 were tricky corners for me)

Come the race, I lost places at the start, and found myself losing ground quite rapidly to Button, and I had to push hard to remain even remotely close to him. Unfortunately a couple of runs onto the grass cost me, and though I was able to fight my way into second by the end of the final pit stops, I wound up some 35 seconds behind winner Button. Still, given this was my first true attempt to play the game properly, I was quite pleased with second!

From here, it was on to Malaysia! See you soon for Part 2!

I am currently in the process of making some substantial additions to my Creationism page on the main site. The updates specifically tackle the attempt by pro-creationism debaters to make the discussions about the origins of life, rather than how life has evolved and developed.

It might seem like the two discussions are identical. Whilst they are superficially related, a debate about how life began is not the same as discussing how life has evolved.

Unless you’ve been a hermit for the past couple of years, you’ll be aware that a new Star Wars film is on the way. Recently it was named as The Force Awakens and today the first teaser trailer for this film was released:

It’s impossible to get major impressions of this film from one brief glimpse, though I would dare say my initial impressions are positive. The look of the ships is faithful to the original films and there’s the impression this is a ‘lived-in’ galaxy, rather than the more plastic-looking prequel trilogy.

There are some moments of intrigue. The villain (presumably villain) is walking through a dark forest with a unique new lightsaber design. Who is the guy in the Stormtrooper armour in the middle of a desert? Who is the girl on the landspeeder? Finally, how do we interpret this talk of the Force awakening?

The teaser has done its job – it has whetted the appetite. Now we just have to wait for more.

It would seem the scourge of Black Friday (traditionally a day when America goes nuts over every tiny deal) is now infecting my country. I cannot speak for everyone on this fair isle, but the UK could do without the hysterical scenes typically witnessed on Black Friday across the Pond.

We are normally above the sort of frenzied behaviour that is quite common in the US on this day. Sadly, as Black Friday becomes a bigger deal over here, it seems we are degenerating into the same sort of behaviour.

Why?! Are we just animals now, reduced to rabid creatures foaming at the mouth for things we probably don’t even truly need? Are we not a nation of more calm, considered and rational human beings?

Thankfully, where I work, I have not so far witnessed such mayhem. No one has been fighting in the aisles to get to the nearest deal. No one’s been wrestling with laptops. The fury that’s greeted some retailers has been astonishing.

 

So the 2014 Formula 1 World Championship has come to an end. The setting was the beautiful man-made island of Yas Marina, located in Abu Dhabi, and after a qualifying session that saw Lewis Hamilton make mistakes in final qualifying to end up 2nd – and behind title rival Nico Rosberg – on the grid, it was imperative that the Englishman have a good start to the race.

With the title at stake, and the possibility that a poor start could see either Mercedes driver caught up in the chasing pack, it was Hamilton that had a great start, breezing past Rosberg and leading into the first corner. He would maintain a comfortable gap of around two seconds through the first set of pit stops, until Rosberg developed car problems that saw him ultimately slip out of the points altogether.

With Rosberg needing to win – or finish no lower than 5th if Lewis retired – the last thing he needed was to drop back down the field, but unfortunately for him, his car just wouldn’t offer up any performance when he needed it most, and at any rate, Hamilton was largely untroubled – Williams’ Felipe Massa did begin to close in on him in the final stages of the race, but couldn’t get close enough and Hamilton would claim his 11th win of the season, and his second world title.

Naturally, Hamilton was delighted – and even got a message of congratulations from Prince Harry as he crossed the finish line! The emotions were clearly on display on the podium as the national anthems played – and it can be very much said that Hamilton has done Britain proud!

A special mention needs to go to Daniel Riccardo, who, despite having to start the race from the pit lane (along with teammate Sebastian Vettel) due to a front-wing rule infringement during qualifying, was able to finish fourth, once again fighting his way up the field and once again beating his four-time world champion teammate in the process. It was a sterling drive from the young Australian who has done himself proud in Formula 1 this season.

So that’s it for the 2014 season! It’s had thrills, and spills, tragedy and drama. One can only wonder what 2015 holds in store!