F1 2017 Far East Double-header Part One: Malaysian Grand Prix 2017 Preview

Wow! What a race that was in Singapore! The first ever Formula One night race in the rain could well be a major defining moment of this years title battle between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

Lewis Hamilton jumps from his car after winning the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix [Image from Fox Sports]
Lewis Hamilton jumps from his car after winning the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix [Image from Fox Sports]

Having set a new track record with an incredible pole position lap, Vettel held the initiative while Mercedes struggled at perhaps their weakest circuit of the season. Lewis Hamilton qualified 5th and was likely to lose the Championship lead he had gained in Monza. However, moving over to cover Max Verstappen at the start saw Vettel make contact with his teammate Kimi Raikkonen which would ultimately end all three of their races. They also collected the McLaren of Fernando Alonso at turn 1 who was bang unlucky to be tagged there after a fantastic start. Hamilton was the beneficiary and after an excellent drive; building a lead up on Daniel Ricciardo several times following three Safety car appearances despite the Red Bull being a quicker car around the Marina Street Circuit to take the chequered flag to become the second man in F1 history to win 60 Grand Prix. Ricciardo finished 2nd in Singapore for the third year running while Carlos Sainz (4th), Jolyon Palmer (6th) and Stoffel Vandoorne (7th) recorded their best ever finishes in F1. read more

Lewis Hamilton takes surprise win while Vettel crashes out: 2017 Singapore Grand Prix Review

It is almost like the beginning of the end of the season when the Singapore Grand Prix comes around. It is the first of the final seven flyaway races of the season and always throws up big moments which are occasionally season-defining moments. There were driver lineup announcements for next year with Carlos Sainz joining Renault next year ‘on loan’ as well as the announcement that McLaren’s relationship with Honda will end at the end of the season. They will be powered by Renault in 2018 while Toro Rosso will have Honda power.

At the Marina Street Circuit, Red Bull were the early pace-setters with Daniel Ricciardo or Max Verstappen on top of the timesheets. They had anticipated having a strong weekend in Singapore while Mercedes were expecting a weekend of struggle. That was until, from nowhere, Sebastian Vettel set a stomping new track record to take pole position for the fourth time this season. It put Vettel in prime position to capitalise on the Mercedes weakness in Singapore to retake the Championship lead and build a gap to Hamilton who qualified 5th. read more

Match Thoughts: Newcastle United 2-1 Stoke City

We saw another entertaining weekend of Premier League football after a week of odd decisions. Crystal Palace became the first Premier League club to dispose of their manager this season, giving Frank De Boer his P45 after only four league games which yielded zero goals, zero points and four defeats. His replacement, former England manager Roy Hodgson (Good luck Palace) did not fare much better as his side lost 1-0 to Southampton. Manchester United hit another four, this time past Everton on Wayne Rooney’s first return to Old Trafford. Burnley surprised on the road again, this time at Anfield, Sergio Aguero stole the show as Manchester City hit Watford for 6 while Arsene Wenger still can’t win at Stamford Bridge and Tottenham still can’t get a league win at Wembley.

At St James’ Park meanwhile, Rafa Benitez was back in the dugout following his hernia operation as Mark Hughes brought his Stoke City side to Tyneside. read more

2017 Singapore Grand Prix Preview

Yes, it is yet another post previewing a Formula One Grand Prix without actually reviewing one. Due to time constraints, I have been unable to review the three last Grand Prix (Hungary, Belgium and Italy) so will provide a brief outline of what happened in these race weekends.

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Sebastian Vettel led his teammate home for Ferrari's first 1-2 race finish in Hungary since 2004 [Image from F1fanatic.com]
Sebastian Vettel led his teammate home for Ferrari’s first 1-2 race finish in Hungary since 2004 [Image from F1fanatic.com]

• Sebastian Vettel won the final race before the summer break from pole position despite suffering from a steering issue in the race. His teammate Kimi Raikkonen could not get close enough to pass or was not allowed to by the pit wall (decide for yourselves) as they secured their first 1-2 race result in Hungary since 2004.
• Mercedes had no answer for Ferrari at the Hungaroring. The team’s pit wall allowed Lewis Hamilton to pass Valtteri Bottas in the second stint of the race as he was faster. He could not pass the Ferrari’s and subsequently and admirably handed the place back to the Finnish driver at the final turn of the race.
• The Red Bull drivers came to blows on the opening lap as Max Verstappen understeered into his teammate Daniel Ricciardo at turn 3 of the opening lap. Ricciardo’s race ended there while Verstappen climbed all the way up to 5th and close to the podium despite serving a penalty.
• On a track where power and straight line speed is not everything, Fernando Alonso was eventually able to showcase his abilities in the McLaren-Honda as he got the better of Carlos Sainz in a race-long duel for 6th. Stoffel Vandoorne finished 10th for his first point of the season and first double points finish for the team.
• Hungary also saw the very brief return of Paul Di Resta to the cockpit of a Formula One car as he filled in for the unwell Felipe Massa. Despite not driving the 2017 Williams car in vein prior to Qualifying, he did not qualify last and gave a solid account of himself in the race all considering before he was forced to retire from the race ten laps from the end. read more

Match Thoughts: Swansea City 0-1 Newcastle United

After a tediously long International break, the Premier League returned to our screens this weekend. There were plenty of talking points as Harry Kane got off the mark in front of goal with it no longer being August, Manchester City demolished Liverpool 5-0 (with help of a sending off for Saido Mane). Manchester United lost their 100% record at Stoke while one of the super Sunday games resulted in the leagues first managerial casualty of the season in Frank De Boer. The second of those Super Sunday games saw Newcastle United travel to the Liberty Stadium to face Swansea City with both teams coming into it on the back of their first wins of the season.

Swansea City lineup vs Newcastle United

Swansea City came into the game buoyed by the deadline day arrival of Portuguese international midfielder Renato Sanches on loan from Bayern Munich and the return of Wilfreid Bony from Manchester City. Manager Paul Clement named the midfielder in the starting line up on the right-hand side of a midfield triangle alongside Sam Clucas and Tom Carroll while Leroy Fer was playing just behind the two strikers. Tammy Abraham started alongside Jordan Ayew meaning Bony would start his second stint at Swansea on the bench. In goal was Lukasz Fabianski and the back four consisted of Kyle Naughton, Federico Fernandez, Alfie Mawson and Martin Olsson. read more

NUFC 2017/18 Monthly Review: August

The football season is back! The transfer window has now firmly closed after a crazy two months which saw the world record transfer fee more than smashed by PSG who paid Barcelona £198 million for Neymar which eventually set off a crazy chain reaction which went all the way to deadline day. Meanwhile, no one has been able to win Jeff Stelling’s £1 million.

Here is a selection of what happened in August… read more

2017 Italian Grand Prix Preview

Last weekend saw history in Formula One. On his 200th Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton equalled the 68 career pole position record set by Michael Schumacher with an incredible performance and setting the new track record for Spa-Francorchamps along the way. In the race, Hamilton was equally supreme in keeping the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel behind as the four-time World Champion was never more than 2 seconds behind him throughout. Championships the frustrations of Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen was evident in the early stages. The latter suffered his 6th mechanical DNF of the season as his car simply lost power. The former, felt the sinking feeling of a lack of power in his Honda engine as car after car found their way past him with the Spaniard telling his team to leave him alone at one stage. The Force India drivers were the major talking point. They had already banged wheels on the slope down to Eau Rouge on the opening lap when the collided again on lap 29. Sergio Perez tried to block his teammate getting past but succeeded in picking up a rear right tyre puncture and front wing damage for his Esteban Ocon. The contact and resulting debris brought out the Safety Car which became the defining moment of the race.

Lewis Hamilton takes the chequered flag to win the Belgian Grand Prix [Image from The Guardian]
Lewis Hamilton takes the chequered flag to win the Belgian Grand Prix [Image from The Guardian]

From the restart, Hamilton did well to defend from Vettel who picked up a tow after climbing Eau Rouge and almost had the move done. However, the Mercedes man held the inside line very well indeed. Kevin Magnussen squandered a points scoring position by locking up under braking at the restart and running wide. Daniel Ricciardo meanwhile, was the big winner. The Red Bull looked comfortable for 5th before hand. At the restart, he drove daringly to pass both Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas along the straight up to Las Combes and took 3rd place. He managed to hold on for the podium; Renault. Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag to win on his 200th Grand Prix start. He became only the fourth driver to do so after Michael Schumacher (2004 European Grand Prix), Jenson Button (2011 Hungarian Grand Prix) and Nico Rosberg (2016 Singapore Grand Prix). read more