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!

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!

2014BrazilGP

(Nico Rosberg leads Lewis Hamilton into the first corner at the Brazilian Grand Prix)

So, round 18 of 19 in the 2014 Formula 1 World Championship is done. At a circuit often regarded as a challenging one and certainly one with a lot of exciting memories for F1 fans, Nico Rosberg dominated, fastest in practise sessions, qualifying on pole, and ultimately absorbing race-long pressure from Hamilton to take his fifth win of the season, and keeping himself in touching distance of Hamilton as F1 gears for the finale in Abu Dhabi on the 23rd of November.

I didn’t see all the race, having been at work, but the last half an hour or so was all Rosberg, maintaining a gap of a second or so from Hamilton, who just couldn’t quite close it enough for a viable overtaking opportunity.

Further down the pecking order, I did rather enjoy Kimi Räkkonen displaying some fight against Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso – Kimi’s season has not been great, even taking into account a difficult car, and Alonso has eclipsed him quite easily, so it must have been confidence-boosting for him to even remotely fight off Alonso for a few laps. Local hero Felipe Massa got third in his Williams, much to the delight of the home crowd at Interlagos, and Jenson Button took fourth for McLaren, comfortably out-performing his teammate Kevin Magnussen once again.

In the battle for the title, Lewis heads Nico by 17 points going into the last race, which would normally mean he could afford to finish as long as sixth, even if Nico won, but with double points being awarded at Abu Dhabi, Lewis must finish second if Nico wins. Still, given the performance of the Mercedes this season, it seems highly unlikely (barring accidents or technical drama) that Lewis will be lower than second.

I can’t wait to see what happens, and I hope Lewis wins!

2014USGP

 

(Nico Rosberg leads Lewis Hamilton into the first corner at the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas)

So, three weeks on from a muted Russian Grand Prix (both on and off the track), Formula 1 rolled into the USA, traditionally not a country noted for its enthusiastic response to F1, but judging from the reaction of the fans, its popularity is certainly on the up!

Not that Formula 1 didn’t arrive in Austin free from troubles. The Marussia and Caterham teams (both usually at the back of the grid) went into administration last week, and as a result, were absent from the race. Talk of different ways to share F1’s considerable wealth was rife, and there was the possibility of some teams staging a boycott of the race – which thankfully did not come to pass.

The race itself was, as usual, dominated by the Mercedes cars of Rosberg and Hamilton – Rosberg had qualified in pole ahead of Hamilton, but the Englishman kept pace quite nicely with his teammate for the first half of the race.

Down the order, Daniel Riccardo had a bad start but was soon carving his way up the pack, including a scintillating move on Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. He then set about chasing the Williams’ cars, eventually leapfrogging Bottas at the first round of stops.

Riccardo’s Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel had to start from the pit lane following an engine penalty, but, despite struggling with the car early on, and five pit stops, he defied a lot of his critics to push through the pack and end up seventh – though he was undoubtedly aided by the first-lap retirements of Perez and Sutil (who collided, thanks to Perez) and the retirement of Hulkenberg later on. Still, it was a good drive from Vettel.

Up front, Hamilton maintained some steady pressure on Rosberg, lurking within a second of him until lap 24, when he left his braking into turn 12 very late, catching Rosberg by surprise and sneaking past him. Hamilton would go on to take his tenth win of the season and the 32nd win of his career – beating Nigel Mansell’s record of 31 wins and equaling Fernando Alonso on the all-time win stakes. He now has a 24-point lead in the championship, and can afford to finish second to Rosberg in the last two races – but he is unlikely to settle for second.

So, my phone is back! (well ok, it’s a replacement, not the one I had, but still!) I am no longer quite so cut off from the outside world!

I have to consider whether my next phone will be a Samsung though. The S3 I had ended up giving up on me when it would no longer charge properly. My S4 did the same thing. My contract isn’t up till next July but at that point, I’ll give the iPhone a closer look than I usually do.

My rejection of the iPhone up till this point has been based on two things. Firstly, I have not been too thrilled with the business practises of Apple. They’re far too keen to try and sue anyone coming up with a remotely similar concept and to me this is honourable.

The second reason I don’t tend to go for iPhones is the cost. To use the Vodafone network as an example, if you want the Galaxy S5 on contract you can get the handset for free from £34.50 per month. This includes unlimited calls and texts and 1GB of mobile internet a month. Bear in mind that the S5 is the latest in the Galaxy S series.

If you want the iPhone 6 for free on contract you will pay £48.50 a month. Not so appealing when you’re on a budget.

Still, come next July the cost of iPhones might have come down right? Right?

Well, we’ll see.

So, on to Formula 1. My memories pages are coming along nicely. The latest page is one on Mika Häkkinen, but it’s certainly not the only page. Hopefully you will enjoy them all!

RussianGP(Nico Rosberg locks up going into turn 2 on the very first lap of the Russian Grand Prix)

So, a week on from the difficult Japanese Grand Prix, Formula 1 descends upon Russia, for the first ever F1 race. Thoughts were firmly on Jules Bianchi, who remains critically ill in hospital in Japan, and out of respect for him, Marussia raced only one car. The drivers and the rest of the paddock assembled before the race in another mark of respect, and we all wish him well.

The race itself might have been a milestone (the first championship race in Russia), but aside from some early excitement, it wasn’t especially memorable. Rosberg managed to slip past Lewis Hamilton at the first true corner of the track, only to lock up his tyres and slide off the track, not only being forced to give the place back to Hamilton but also being forced to pit, as he had caused serious harm to his tyres.

Pitting on lap two meant Rosberg ended up last but one (Williams’ Massa also pitted on lap two), and thus he had to work hard to get back into a decent points-scoring position. He also had to make his new tyres last for 52 laps, no easy feat in modern formula 1!

Hamilton himself had little to do except keep his concentration up and make sure he didn’t do anything stupid. He could afford to cruise in the latter stages of the race, and thus did exactly that as he took his ninth win of the season (and equaled Nigel Mansell’s British record of 31 wins in the process). Rosberg raced well to get himself back into second, minimising the loss of points to Hamilton and showing good tyre management to make sure he didn’t suffer late on. Not a classic race, but it means Hamilton is now 17 points clear (his biggest lead so far in the championship) with three races to go.

As anyone following this blog has become aware, I tend to offer up my thoughts about a grand prix at its conclusion. I only saw part of Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix (for reasons that will become clear in subsequent posts), but I did see Hamilton’s bold move on Rosberg into the first corner to claim the lead – and I saw the race get red-flagged in the wake of Jules Bianchi’s serious accident.

His going off the track was not in itself the problem – it was unfortunate co-incidence that he crashed off where Sutil had crashed a lap earlier – and there was a crane there, trying to remove Sutil’s car. Bianchi hit the crane, and in the process, sustained a serious head injury.

He has had surgery and is currently in intensive care, and all we can do is keep our fingers crossed, pray, and send him all our best wishes – which I am sure everyone will do.

In a horrible twist, Bianchi’s accident was not the only bit of bad news to befall Formula 1 yesterday. Former driver Andrea De Cesaris, whose career spanned 14 years from 1980 to 1994, was killed yesterday in a motorbike accident in Rome.

Sunday has been a day that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons in F1 circles, and I wish Bianchi a speedy recovery, and De Cesaris to rest peacefully.

huh

A blog post that cuts across two subjects… first of all, a look back to my frankly strange dream last night.

My dream last night started out with me being driven around the Monaco F1 circuit by Martin Brundle. I was asking him questions about the sport and I vividly recall asking him a question about Nigel Mansell that, for whatever reason, he declined to entertain. We also took advantage of driving past the shops to stop and window shop – as you do.

He struck me as being very eloquent (which to be honest, is how Brundle comes across when presenting F1), and knowledgeable about the sport. It was a good dream.

A bit weird, but entertaining. After that, it got very weird.

Back in August I had a phone call to tell me that a very nice man I knew via work had passed away. I’ve been meaning to phone his wife and check on her (and today I did indeed call her), and I think this must have been playing upon my mind. I dreamed that I went round to see her and make sure she was alright. Whilst there, we performed some sort of ritual and her husband’s spirit took over my body – but only for a short time.

During this ‘experience’, we listened to some music and danced, and we both got very emotional – in floods of tears. As his spirit left me, his wife was asking me if I knew why ’52’ was important. I couldn’t answer, and felt very upset. In the dream, I felt really upset, virtually in tears, and this was enough to actually wake me up. I haven’t been jolted awake by a dream for a long time, so this was very unusual.

I’m still not really sure what to make of this dream.