The first race in Europe is done, and at the venue where F1 carries out pre-season testing, it was Mercedes who came out on top, albeit yet again not without a demonstration of how razor-thin the margin is between themselves and Ferrari.

A pulsating race started with a bang – Lewis Hamilton had put his Mercedes on pole but Sebastian Vettel had narrowly missed out, only 0.051 behind, having locked up slightly at the final chicane to cost him top spot. Further back, Fernando Alonso confirmed his reputation as a miracle-maker by putting his McLaren into 7th – an astonishing piece of magic from the maestro. Vallteri Bottas had beaten Kimi Raikkonen into 3rd on the grid, with the two Red Bulls just behind, albeit some way off the pace, despite a completely revised chassis.

As the race got underway Hamilton and Vettel both enjoyed good starts and Vettel actually got ahead into the first corner. Hamilton followed him round but behind them, Bottas, squeezing around the inside of Raikkonen, bumped the Ferrari and bumped him straight into Max Verstappen’s Red Bull. Raikkonen retired there and then with damaged suspension, whilst Verstappen limped back to the pits, where he too retired. In the chaos, the Williams of Felipe Massa forced Alonso wide at the exit of turn 2, and sustained a puncture in the process, ending any hope either man had of any points, though Alonso would go on to finish a race for the first time this season.

After just one lap Vettel had opened a 2.5 second lead over Hamilton, once again showing how strong Ferrari are this year. This gap would remain more or less the same for several laps, with both cars on the soft tyre. Hamilton would pit first, on lap 14, switching to the medium compound tyre, whilst Vettel wouldn’t pit for several laps, going into the soft again. Vettel came out behind Bottas, who played the role of rear-gunner for Hamilton for a couple of laps, but could nothing as Vettel sold him a dummy on the main straight, ducking around the Finn. It was a move with echoes of Mansell’s famous one against Piquet at Silverstone in 1987 – and it seemed that the advantage was back with Vettel.

The race would turn on its head though, when Stoffel Vandoorne was pushed onto the gravel at turn 1, leading to a virtual safety car spell. Hamilton pitted under this, losing less time than his rivals, whilst Vettel stopped just after it had finished, switching to the  medium tyre. The Ferrari came out of the pits just as Hamilton was shooting down the start/finish line, and the two were wheel-to-wheel as they approached the first corner, where (yet again) we would see a clash of wheels, as Vettel pushed Hamilton off-track. In the eyes of some Hamilton clipped a speed bump and should have driven to the left of a bollard – yet the replays showed that, at worst, only one of Hamilton’s rear tyres caught the bump, whilst it has to be remembered that he had been pushed off-track.

Hamilton would trail Vettel for a few laps, with the two encountering traffic and with Vettel benefiting from DRS as a result, but once the traffic was cleared, Hamilton seized his chance, closing in under DRS on the start-finish straight and breezing by the Ferrari. He would open up a small gap, though it’s to Vettel and Ferrari’s credit that on the slower tyre, they didn’t lose too much ground. However, the Mercedes would hold on to stay ahead, allowing Hamilton to claim his 55th career win, and 2nd win of 2017. For Hamilton’s teammate Bottas, it was a different story, as mechanical failure ruled out any points.

With one each from Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull all out, there were opportunities to be had for other teams. Fourth and fifth were snatched by the Force India duo of Perez and Ocon, whilst Nico Hulkenberg continued to impress with 6th for Renault, dramatically eclipsing teammate Palmer. Spanish driver Carlos Sainz was classified 7th for Toro Rosso (bumped up a place after a time penalty for Pascal Wehrlein, whose sterling performance is worth singling out in a moment). Daniil Kvyat was 9th for the other Toro Rosso, and Romain Grosjean completed the points positions with 10th for Haas. Coming back to Wehrlein, his four points for Sauber may prove invaluable for the small team, who are now ahead of McLaren in the constructor’s championship, and Wehrlein (whose team put him onto a gutsy 1-stop strategy) held off a lot of pressure from Sainz, over a prolonged spell. His composure and performance serve as a reminder of his potential, during a season where several contracts at big teams are up.

Back toward the front of the field, hopes that Red Bull would close the gap on the top two evaporated. Ricciardo was the only driver to avoid being lapped, but he was 75 seconds behind Hamilton come the end. This is a crushing margin, in spite of upgrades to the Red Bull, which clearly needs improvements to the Renault engine to be a serious contender. The next race, at Monaco, will highlight aerodynamic strengths, but even with Red Bull’s quality in this area, will it be enough to offer even a sliver of a chance for anything other than best of the rest?

So, after five races (we are 25% of the way through the season), Vettel leads on 104 points, Hamilton is second on 98 points, with Bottas third on 63 points, and Raikkonen is fourth, with 49 points. In the constructor’s championship, Mercedes lead on 161 points, with Ferrari on 153, and then a big gap to Red Bull, who are on 72 points. Force India are looking good in fourth, with 53 points, comfortably clear of Toro Rosso (who are on 21 points).

Next up is Formula 1’s crown jewel, Monaco! 

 

A short while back I had an interesting discussion with one ‘Darthbards’ over on Big Footy. This discussion related to the idea that the earth is in fact, flat. Needless to say, this idea is sketchy, at best.

The trouble is, after going around in circles for ages, there comes a point where it becomes hard to sustain a reasonable discussion. This is not helped by excessive attacks on science from Darthbards, who I believe deliberately conflates science with religion, to try and suggest the religiously-inspired Flat Earth theory deserves greater consideration as a science. When arguing in such a fashion, it becomes frustrating. Unfortunately, the powers that be who moderate the Conspiracies board on Big Footy have blocked me from posting replies, a decision I feel is unreasonable, but one that doesn’t appear likely to be reversed any time soon.

However, I can still make comments about the ‘discussion’ here. So I’m going to. For anyone who wishes to see the thread in action, it’s here. Let’s start with our old friend Dathbards, whose posts will be in pink.

While on the topic of things in the sky,why can’t I just hover in a helicopter and wait for the earth to spin round rather than having to drive or fly everywhere?
Big game over that one,and how the hell does a plane even land on a planet spinning millions of miles an hour?

This ‘point’ is easily answered via Google. Look up Newton’s First Law of Motion. Also, the earth doesn’t spin at millions of miles per hour. Another user, called Big Cox 88, summed up this point quite nicely (their posts are in dark green):

The reason is inertia, the Earth and you and travelling at the same speed so there is no relative change in velocity, you are geocentrically bound to the Earth with centripetal force.

To which Darthbards replied with the following:

That’s it though,I’m not moving. Going by your logic if I jumped I should feel that I’m whizzing around at a million miles an hour keeping up with the ground.
Their is no centripetal force because the earth is not spinning. The centrifugal force is just a reactionary pseudo force to the motion of whatever I’m in or ons movement.

Have you actually even looked at the science of the flat earth?

Bards does science backward. He starts with his conclusion – that the earth isn’t spinning. Unfortunately this is rather typical of this sort of ‘science’ – take the conclusion, and force the facts to fit it. It requires extraordinary leaps of logic.

Another user, Tants, asked a series of questions aimed at understanding FE theory. His posts are in blue:

Could one of the FEers please concisely post the relevant information about flat earth.

  • Is there an icewall? If so, how high is it?

  • Please post the accepted version of the map of FE.

  • Is there a firmament? If so, what happens to Elon Musk’s rockets?

  • Please use maths to explain UA (or whatever the preferred force that keeps objects returning to earth).

  • The moon and the sun are 3100km away and the same size. True or False? If true, how do solar and lunar eclipses work?

  • Every manmade object ever sent into space is a lie. If there are any that are true, how did they get there?

  • I get that “they” are keeping us from the truth. But who are they? How have they got so many people involved and yet none of those people have broken ranks?

  • Why are all videos confirming a flat earth denied as fake, yet we should believe all videos posted by FEers?

  • What is the maths of a flat earth? Surface area, radius of the flat earth, distance from Sydney to Tokyo, Sydney to Santiago in Chile and Santiago to Tokyo.

  • What evidence would you require to convince you that indeed the earth is roughly spherical?

Instead of attempting to answer these questions, Bards got quite indignant and tried to shut the conversation down…

How dare you once again raise point five as a question :mad::fire:
Not only was this discussed at some length only a matter of pages ago,but I opened my heart and explained how the shadow object is my favorite scientific thing. I expressed how I wished to call my next child Shadow and sent out an invitation to other flat earthers to come and discuss the shadow object with me.

You have no interest in flat earth and your just asking baby questions easily answered in the FAQ section of the website. Your trying to be a smarty pants. Why don’t you piss off back to the science board or something mate. Plenty of ball lovers over there you can chat with,I’ve had a gob full of you blokes constantly bringing your ball love over here and shoving it down people’s throats.
If you cannot show respect for the shadow object you are not welcome for scientific discussion here.

This mythical shadow object is purported to explain the eclipses. The aggression with which Bards responds over this (and indeed, the honest questions from Tants) goes to highlight just how unscientific FE is. Tants asks a series of perfectly fair questions and Bards dismisses them, completely and utterly, and with a fair degree of hostility too. I rather liked Tants’ reply…

OK. So rather than answer the questions you have chosen to deflect. I want the science of flat earth and the generally accepted view from FEers. From your overzealous response, I take it that the shadow object is the accepted scientific reason for eclipses. Thank you. Now if you could address the other answers, without further deflection that would be ideal.

One further question though, does the shadow object exist within the firmament?
How high does the firmament go? I assume 3100km.

I want your answers (or GGs or Negans), I don’t want references to other websites. I want your convincing reasons for flat earth. Your love of the shadow object is the first believe to answer a question(though there is no science to it, I’ll get to that later).

I’m a student of life and happy to learn. But what I get taught needs to make sense with maths (the numbers never lie).

Deflect – and as we shall see later, outright hostility – appear to be ‘go-to’ tactics for Bards.

Another poster – bovs – also challenged the FE nonsense.

167 pages… has anyone reported on their own experimentation yet?

Anyone tried to demonstrate that New Zealand, Antarctica, Mount Everest aren’t obscured by the Earth’s curvature if you try and observe them from Australia?
Anyone tried to demonstrate a ship sailing over the horizon is just an optical illusion?
Anyone demonstrated that measurements of atomic compositions of distant objects by spectroanalysis is fake and/or doesn’t confirm that those objects are what conventional science defines them as being?
Anyone documented a circumnavigation of Antarctica and shown that the distance actually reflects the “outer bounds of the planet” FE model rather than the continental circumference of a round Earth model?
Anyone attempted to fly from Australia to South America by crossing Antarctica and found it wasn’t possible?

For a bunch of people so passionate about FE, it’s a little surprising that that passion doesn’t seem to extend beyond reading and watching what’s on the internet. This is the difference between science and pseudoscience. Science isn’t some sort of global movement or philosophy (although I’ll admit the sorts of people who “defend” science on the internet often act like it is)… science is a process by which a hypothesis is formed, an experiment is then conducted to test the hypothesis, and the results are used to assess the truth of the hypothesis. Science is formalised by creating structure around how that process is then documented and verified by peer-reviewed literature so that the scientific body of knowledge is consistent and open to revision, disproof, repetition or to be built upon.

This process can just as easily be applied to the FE hypothesis, but not without experimentation. So I’ll keep checking in now and then to see if anyone has done any experimenting.

Bards responded with his typical passive-aggressive stance.

Morning bovs,was just enjoying a lovely flat white and noticed your naive post.

We are aware we can’t just endlessly see NZ or Mt Everest because of the angular limits of perception. This can be proven when a ship half vanishes over the horizon but can be pulled back into view with a set of binoculars or a telescope.

Numerous experiments have been carried out to prove the earth is flat. We have what is known as the Bedford Canal experiments,The Kansas experiments the Bishop experiments and if you take the time to read Thomas Winships Zetetic Cosmogony or A Hundred Proofs The Earth Is Not A Globe by William Carpender you will see numerous experiments carried out proving the Earth is flat. I highly recommend these books and highly suggest you read them.

I think your over selling the old fraudulent science as it is just a global movement and in actual fact is what’s known as a religion.
The peer review process sounds good on paper but with so many dodgy websites out there and the advent of social media I think it’s best we should be very careful what we read or believe in regards to the spinning,orbiting,hurtling,tilted round ball earth.
Having said that you will find that papers written and published by Samual Birley Rowthbottom regarding his flat earth experiments that were peer reviewed by a woman by the name of Lady Blount.

It’s interesting that Bards cites, among other things, the Bedford Canal Experiment. This experiment actually went a long way toward proving the earth is round, but also triggered a spiteful campaign by a fanatical flat earther against one of the participants.

I haven’t been able to discover anything meaningful about the Kansas Experiment, beyond the comparison of that particular US state to a pancake (yes, seriously, and this has been held up as some sort of proof of a flat earth). If you check the link  you will see that the state of Kansas is not in fact, flat, but only appears that way because of the distance. Familiar idea?

The Bishop Experiment is one I’ve having a hard time even finding out about. There are mentions on forums that it’s been debunked (not a surprise), but I’ll provide more info on it as I find it.

Bovs pressed on:

Wasn’t suggesting experiments you’ve read about on the internet. Was suggesting experiments you’ve conducted yourself. Or know someone who has conducted them. Or have seen detailed methodology not just a conclusion that says what you already want to believe.

I would happily through the same comment at those arguing the standard position. I don’t understand how anyone can be so passionate as to argue the point over and over again, but not have actually done anything practically to demonstrate what they believe to be true. 

I’m not convinced by the argument around angular limits of perception… but I guess when the moon or sun dips over the horizon it should be effected in the same way… and if the moon or sun is further away than whatever land-mass object is in the direction of where it dips over the horizon, then with sufficient magnification you should see that object silhouetted in front of the moon or sun.

Again I’m not arguing the point… I’m just pointing out that you could probably actually design an experiment and go and conduct it and produce some evidence that suggests the nature of the Earth one way or the other. It’d be a far more impressive than 167 pages of argument based purely off what people have seen on the internet.

It doesn’t even have to be peer-reviewed. Peer-reviewed is a method that served humanity for a long time but I don’t disagree that the modern world presents many challenges for the scientific norm. But peer-reviewed isn’t the definition of scientific, the method of constructing and testing a hypothesis is what makes something scientific. This thread is exhaustive construction of the hypothesis without any testing. Regardless of which side you’ve been arguing.

I’ve done the binoculars experiment.
How’s all you’re experiments going? Been into outer space to view the earth or to prove we can get out of lower orbit? Discovered magik gravity? Dark matter and energy are important for the fraudulent science mythamatics ,how’s all that coming along?
Personally I think there’s big hurdles on both sides. It’s just the FE has the better scientific evidence and round earth sounds the most ridiculous and on top of that they use to many unproven things in their theories.

Have a read of these books I suggested and I’m sure you’ll have your eyes opened.

Also,to suggest the peer review has served us well is a bit rich. The majority of people in this day and age still think the earth is a ball. You can’t have a religious organisation running its own review and expect it to work.
Anyway,if you want to give a long and detailed explanation of what you think old fraudulent science is or stands for as opposed to modern science just go tell your riveting theory on the actual science board.

Bards continues his irritating lie that science operates like religion. Funnily enough, this is exactly what flat earth theory is – an old, long debunked, religious argument, pretending to be a scientific one.

Bovs called Bards out on his shambolic practises…

I’ve made 2 posts… trying in both not to actually argue one way or the other on the actual issue of flat Earth vs round Earth… merely to make the point that 167 pages of “the Earth is flat… no it isn’t… yes it is look at this video… no it isn’t look at this video… etc.” without anyone actually detailing their own experiences or efforts to demonstrate what they believe is a little surprising.

Yet you’ve managed to (quite rudely) argue with a non-argumentative point both times. 

Mathematics isn’t a myth. I can assure you of that much. If you’re going to throw mathematics out the window then you may as well be trying to have a debate on whether humans really need to breathe oxygen (or that oxygen even exists as a real thing I guess).

In terms of peer-reviewed science, whatever you think of it it has been the foundation of pretty much all technology and social advancement achieved in at least the last 100 years… probably the last 300 years… and depending on how you choose to define the concept of scientific literature for as long as humanity. Again, if you believe that scientific endeavour is a myth, conspiracy or Satanic work and all technology has actually been developed by faking it, aliens on being directly supplied by God then that’s fine and you can believe that but there’s not much point trying to engage with anyone else if you’ve taken such an outsider view without any consideration of the alternative. 

It’s pretty clear from your responses so far that you probably don’t even have an interest in the nature of the world as flat or round or anything… you only have an interest in arguing with anyone from the “other team” i.e. “science” which somehow means to you all the people on the internet who like technology or science news or arguing with religious types or something I don’t really know what. Maybe you need to spend more time on the politics board where people choose a side and debate it continuously regardless of whether they actually believe with any conviction what they’re arguing.

Sorry,I just didn’t get the point to your posts and you quite clearly haven’t thought your comments through and are blinded.
Yes,of course we scienctists at the FES would like to be carrying out a whole multitude of further experimentation,but money doesn’t grow on trees. I’ve made my suggestions as to how we could obtain greater funding by closing down LIGO and handing the facility over to the FES, as well as the funding, so we can carry out greater research. Do you think the FES is rolling in money just because the ball lovers are? I told you some of the experiments carried out but it wasn’t enough was it?
Your comments tend to be leaning towards saying the round earth is to be believed or given a go. We at the FES do not believe what we have been told by the old fraudulent,religious science. We think their made up theories are laughable with its made up Dark matter,energy and let’s not forget gravity. We think your math is wrong. I don’t mean to be rude but we don’t want a debate any more. Why do ball lovers think our flat earth thread is a great place to debate round earth but on the other science board flat earth discussion not allowed?
The ball lovers have made their garbage point. It’s the ball lovers who continuously come, spreading their lies and insulting flat earthers.
The FES is growing,old fraudulent religious science is a failure. Instead of saying I don’t have an interest in nature or science you should be pointing the finger at those spreading the lies or those wasting the billions of dollars,the old fraudulent religious science.

We at the FES do listen to other fields of science,but we have no respect for ball lovers. Who would believe that garbage.

Tldr..If you have constructive comments to make feel free,but don’t come here saying the old fraudulent religious science is not a global movement and don’t come here gobbling off about pseudo science like your some sort of a gatekeeper to how we reach our findings.

Emphasis mine. Any discussion of a conspiracy theory (which is what flat earth is, make no mistake) is going to be in the form of a debate at some point. Despite the rules of the Conspiracy board on Big Footy, in real life a conspiracy is not assumed to be true or accurate, nor capable of supplanting an existing theory, without reasonable evidence. When something like flat earth comes along, that pretends to be scientific, yet is in fact rooted in baseless ideas, why should it share the stage with proven, scientific facts?

I remain unconvinced that Bards is not simply trolling.

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With Spain, we are, incredibly, already at a quarter-distance. F1 2017 is well underway and patterns are emerging. Ferrari can match Mercedes and no one else can come close to the top two. That might change with Spain.

Why is that? Red Bull are planning to bring a new chassis to Spain, that might get them closer to the front. At the moment they’ve been unable to exert any pressure on Mercedes and Ferrari, but they’ll be hoping their new design will at the very least allow them to get closer. Regardless, this should still be a straight fight between Ferrari and Mercedes. That being the case, are there any potential sparks to be had here? Well, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a venue extremely familiar to every Formula 1 team and driver – this is where pre-season testing happens, so in theory there should be no issues with car setups or driver hang-ups.

Last season’s race certainly produced sparks – Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg had a collision on the first lap that ended their races and paved the way for Max Verstappen to claim his first F1 win, on his debut for Red Bull, though that was at least in part due to a strategic error that cost Daniel Ricciardo a win. It seems unlikely that we’ll have a repeat of this sort of event this time around, but what are the points of interest around this track?

It is regarded as a tough venue to overtake. The long dive into turn 1 is immediately followed by a series of corners that are fairly quick, which with the current F1 cars will make it tricky for anyone to get close enough into turn 5 (which isn’t a particularly easy opportunity anyway). Turn 10 might prove a possibility, being a meaty left-hander. Beyond that, it is likely to prove a good examination of how familiar the teams and drivers have become with the 2017 designs.

 

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking ‘err, what?’ Well, the post title more or less (more less than more actually) sums up a truly strange dream I had last night. I think I know what inspired it, but even so, it was a trippy dream that I just cannot unravel in my head.

 

Yeah, that’s pretty much the face I pulled this morning. I was completely bewildered, but let’s start at the beginning. Scooby was on the ground, at some sort of landing pad for a space mission, and he had to get suited up to investigate a radiation leak (or some sort of problem involving radioactive materials). Meanwhile Fred, Daphney and Velma were trying to land a somewhat awkward craft. 

Once landed, the scene shifted. All of a sudden I was overseeing the removal of someone’s cranium and brain – whilst the poor sod was still alive. 

Cue escaping from the scene of the crime. There was also something to do with I’m a Celebrity… And swimming. All in all, complete and thorough confusion. 

We’ve had over 100 days of Donald Trump. He took office on the back of less votes than Hilary Clinton (you can thank the flawed US electoral college system for that), and has so far managed to systematically fail, except the other day, when his Obamacare replacement managed to get through Congress, by the narrowest of margins. It still needs to get past the Senate, but should it prove successful – well, it will screw over millions of Americans, and there are some seriously scary terms attached to this.

  1. Got a pre-existing condition? You’re in trouble. Obamacare provided protection for people who have existing medical problems – Trumpcare doesn’t.
  2. Obamacare meant everyone was insured against certain conditions and types of treatment. Trumpcare hands that power to the states, who can opt out of this at their discretion.
  3. The definition of a pre-existing condition will include – among other things – rape. That’s right – victims of rape will not have their medical treatment covered under Trumpcare.

It gets worse. Another one of Trump’s ‘wins’ is aimed at, in theory, allowing greater religious involvement in politics. This particular executive order appears more symbolic than anything, but Trump needs wins, badly, given how much he has struggled so far. The broader concern over this particular order is that it could pave the way for businesses to discriminate against the LGBT community – ironically, in the name of freedom.

The orange tyrant has also come out against science. You know, that pesky field that investigates and looks for evidence to back up theories. It tends to contradict him.

He’s ignorant of the history of his own country (and in doing so, he showed terrible ignorance of the racial context of the American Civil War). His immigration ban was oppressively broad and completely devoid of any compassion. He slams any media source that contradicts him as ‘fake news’. He is incapable of taking any criticism or admitting to any lie. If he is the future of the political right, then it is doomed.

I don’t tend to be fond of giving films 10 out of 10. I have this… mental block, I guess, around the idea. Can a film really be so good as to get a perfect score?

With Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, the answer is an emphatic yes. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and I think I’ll run out of superlatives for it long before I finish this review. I won’t go into too much detail of the plot, but suffice to say, the story manages to be reasonably interesting, with some nice little nuances, whilst the film is jam-packed with visual treats, a lot of humour, and a surprising degree of emotion, particularly toward the end.

For all the outward signs of an epic space-faring advventure, Guardians 2 manages to feel quite intimate compared to the first film. It feels like the film takes place over a small radius. Central to the film is the theme of family, with various characters facing feelings of abandonment, sibling rivalry, and loss. Woven in are some great jokes (the trash panda reference is particularly funny), and some very amusing visual gags. The villian is probably one of the most interesting seen in the MCU to date, and Guardians 2 manages to tell a stand-alone story that isn’t influenced by the impending Infinity Wars films – as with the first film, the Guardians are who they are, without compromising for anyone else.

Every character has moments to shine – Quill, despite having spent most of his life in space, is still in many ways quite wide-eyed and, ahem, innocent, in some respects. Gamora is still seeking to put her past to rest, starting with her relationship with Nebula. Rocket is still looking to belong somewhere. Drax still harbours pain from his own past. Groot… well, Groot is just adorable.

Would I take children to see this film? That depends on the child. My own daughter would probably find some elements of it overwhelming and frightening, as Guardians 2 does move a touch more in that direction than the first film. The jokes are pushing the edges of what’s appropriate for younger children to hear. There is plenty of fantasy violence. It’s fair to say the 12A certificate is well-earned.

As a final thought, Guardians 2 continues to show us the length and breadth of the variety in the MCU. From the somewhat serious Civil War, to this, and all the steps inbetween, Marvel have crafted various films with completely different characteristics, and yet you can see how they all fit together, more or less seamlessly. You want to see morre of these characters, and you want them to succeed.

Like I said, this film gets 10/10. It is, quite simply, brilliant.

Before I get writing in earnest, it’s important to note that I didn’t get to enjoy much of this race! I was at work (fair enough), but with the race starting at 1pm, there was always the chance that the store would be quiet by then. Instead, 1pm appeared to be the signal for wave after wave of customers to come into the store – typical!

The consequence is that I don’t have a great deal to offer. I know Fernando Alonso retired on the warm-up lap, marking his fourth retirement of the season – in as many races. To say he is probably nearing the end of his tether with his current situation is a bit of an understatement! I also know that Palmer’s Renault collided with Grosjean’s Haas on lap 1 – I have no idea who was at fault as I haven’t seen the incident. Finally, I did spot, in the corner of my eye, Ricciardo’s Red Bull pulling into the pits to retire early on – I am not all too sure why, though he was mentioning very hot brakes at one stage.

So four early retirements, an early safety car too (the result of the Palmer/Grosjean accident), and a lightening start from the Mercedes of Bottas, who slipped by both Ferraris at the very start to assume the lead. Without having seen much of the race I can’t say much else at this point. So let’s rewind for a mo.

The Ferraris of Vettel and Raikkonen had locked out the front row of the grid, the first time a Ferrari was on pole since 2015 and the first lock out since 2008 – Vettel took pole, and looked comfortable, though for the first time this year Raikkonen looked pacey. Bottas was pretty close, but Hamilton was well off the pace, unable to find the right balance with his car. It was a situation that would continue into the race itself, with Hamilton adrift in fourth, devoid of a chance. Up front, Bottas would eke out a small lead over Vettel, who in turn steadily pulled away from Raikkonen.

What I did manage to see of the race underscored a theme that’s emerged over the course of the first few races – strategy has been crucial to determining the winner. As the pit stops took place, and the cars donned the super-soft tyres (the ultra-soft being the initial preference), the Ferraris (well, Vettel’s Ferrari) came alive. Vettel began to catch Bottas, and a mistake from the Mercedes man (he locked up badly at one stage, hurting both front tyres) allowed Vettel to reduce the gap quite considerably. By the end of the race Vettel was loitering around a second or so behind Bottas, but the question over strategy is – had Vettel pitted a lap or two sooner, might he have had more time to hunt Bottas down? Raw power is no longer the factor behind who wins – Ferrari can match Mercedes for pace, so it’s the little details – staying out an extra lap, traffic, tyre choice – that are going to have the main impact on the championship. Vettel couldn’t quite catch Bottas (who had a little bit of help from a cheeky Massa as the pair came to lap his Williams on the final lap), leaving the Finn to claim his first win in 81 races.

The outcome is that Bottas is now only ten points behind teammate Hamilton, and 23 points behind championship leader Vettel. Mercedes are a point ahead of Ferrari in the constructor’s championship. Now that Bottas has demonstrated he can win races, it will come more naturally to him, and will raise difficult questions for Mercedes, should he start to look like he can compete for the title. Vettel is more or less unchallenged (at least so far) by Raikkonen at Ferrari, but the two Mercedes drivers could end up costing each other valuable points. We shall see.

Elsewhere, there were positive performances to be had from a few quarters. Nico Hulkenberg took points for Renault with 8th place, following 10th in qualifying. The Force Indias of Perez and Ocon were 6th and 7th respectively – a good performance from them, that keeps them firmly in fourth place in the constructor’s championship. Verstappen was anonymous for Red Bull in fifth; the car just wasn’t up to the task, though Red Bull are promising a major chassis update for Spain.

Speaking of Spain, this is where we shall resume battle. I look forward to it!

 

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Whilst I haven’t seen an official confirmation of this, it would seem that Nintendo’s pending online subscription service is going to weigh in at between £14 and £21 per year. This is pretty remarkable, given that Sony and Microsoft charge £39.99 for their annual subscription services. If the £21 a year price is accurate, that’s just over 40p per week. Whilst questions exist about the quality and nature of the service (Nintendo plan to ‘loan’ users games on the virtual console, rather than give them away), the price is certainly good.

Will this mean a more reliable, stable service when playing games like Mario Kart online? On the Wii it was more or less a good service, but the sophistication of the consoles and games using the service has increased, as has demand. If Nintendo are going to invest their money in making sure the infrastructure is in place to make the system reliable and quick, then great. If it proves to be unreliable, people will question what they are paying for. We shall see.

I wish I didn’t have to write this, but the more time I spend looking at threads like this one (I refer to the Flat Earth nonsense I’ve discussed before), this one (vaccines are all big pharma conspiracies dude!) and all sorts of hastily generalised rubbish like this, the more I feel the need to stand up and lend my own, small voice against this tidal wave of ignorance that seems determined to come crashing down upon us.

Increasingly, we live in a world where anyone can come up with a half-baked idea (I refer once again to the flat earth theory), and with enough big words, it can be taken seriously, not because it should be, but because it sounds clever. If something contradicts a certain narrative (for example, climate change contradicts the aims and goals of big business and their powerful political allies) it gets condemned as fake news (Trump, I’m looking at you).

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Yes, sometimes scientists lie. Sometimes they get things wrong. Scientists are also human, and therefore not perfect, and sometimes the information and evidence will, at first examination, lead to incorrect conclusions. What opponents of science suggest is to throw the baby out with the bathwater – ‘if the theory is not perfect’, they crow, ‘or if scientists are not perfect, we should discount it. Here’s a replacement theory’. It doesn’t matter if the new theory offers up a poorer explanation of the facts. It doesn’t matter if it is full of holes. ‘If theory A isn’t perfect, theory B wins’, even if theory B is a load of bull.

At least the March for Science has shown there are people who are still interested in facts and in learning. I implore everyone to check it out – don’t fall for the ignorance that Trump and his ilk peddle!