Out with 2020 and into 2021: The Mind of Rowan in 2021…

Happy belated New Year readers and welcome to 2021. What on earth was that 2020 I don’t think anyone could have foreseen how much everything would change 12 months ago and makes last years annual new year post with its predictions look like wishful thinking.

2020 was anything but a normal year. Covid-19 first identified in Wuhan, China spread into a worldwide pandemic as officially declared by the WHO on March 12th. Everything changed. We saw horrific scenes as the virus spread into Italy and the UK went into a lockdown of sorts in March and nothing has been the same. We’ve all stayed at home more than we otherwise would have done. There has been the Zoom quizzes with friends and work colleagues and as well as writing, I sued the time to read some books too. There was also the inevitable binging on streaming tv and movies. I still can’t get over the ending to series 2 of The Mandalorian! read more

A Tory Said What: December 2020

Yes, A Tory Said What is making a return. For those of you new to this blog, I attempted to from late 2018 to try, where I could, to fact check comments made by Tory MP’s that were false or alarming. These posts stopped not long after Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, as I just could not keep pace with the amount of false and/or potentially misleading claims they were making.

I was going to restart the posts in 2021 but once I had made that decision the urge of wanting to point out their lies and my head just exploding whenever I heard these comments on the news made me start early. These posts are basically, me trying to get this stuff off my chest. read more

Sam Allardyce in at West Brom, Slaven Bilic out: Will he keep them up?

The 2020/21 Premier League season got to the 13th round of games and while that number is unlucky for some, it was cruelly unlucky for Slaven Bilic. My choice of the sack race didn’t come off (I eventually went for David Moyes) and the Croatian was removed from his role as Head Coach of West Brom following their very credible 1-1 draw at Manchester City. The Hawthorns [Image above from West Bromwich Albion] club statement read:

West Bromwich Albion have today parted company with Head Coach Slaven Bilić. Assistant Coaches, Dean Računica and Danilo Butorović, and First Team Coach Julian Dicks have also left the club with immediate effect. The Baggies are currently 19th in the Premier League table with seven points from 13 fixtures. Albion would like to thank Slaven and his coaching staff for their efforts in achieving promotion last season and wishes them all well in the future. The club will make no further comment at this time. read more

Goodbyes aplenty as Verstappen wins the season finale, Hamilton returns and McLaren take 3rd in the Constructors: 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Review

Incredibly, 23 weeks on from F1 getting its first race of 2020 underway in Austria, Abu Dhabi hosted the final curtain call of a hectic 17 race schedule [The winner Max Verstappen is featured above; image from formula1.com]. The twilight of Yas Marina was always going to be an emotional race for the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo leaving Ferrari, McLaren and Renault respectively. It could also have been the last F1 race in a 10-year career for Sergio Perez, but also potentially the last race for Red Bull drivers Alex Albon and Daniil Kvyat with neither driver having a drive. It was certainly the last race of Kevin Magnussen’s 7 season F1 career as he will be racing sports cars in 2021.

Yes Marina Circuit map [Image from formula1.com].

Surprisingly, overtaking is difficult around the Yas Marina Circuit. It has a layout you would have thought invites overtaking but it is extremely difficult on this circuit and 2020 was no exception. It was, therefore, a bit of a lacklustre, anti-climatic way to end the season after the chaotic race that proceeded it a week before in Sakhir. A lot of that was perhaps due to the Safety Car being deployed on lap 9 and all but three cars (Ricciardo, Vettel and Leclerc) pitting then and attempting to not stop again until the chequered flag. read more

Russell shines but Mercedes capitulate as Sergio Perez stole the show: Sakhir Grand Prix Review

For the fourth and final time in 2020, a country held back to back races with Bahrain hosting the penultimate round. Using the outer layout of the Bahrain International Circuit with its much shorter lap distance of 2.2 miles; the shortest in F1 since 1983 Long Beach and the first sub-one-minute laps since 1974. I wasn’t sure how this layout would work but after the dramatic and crazy race it delivered, I am beginning to wonder if F1 could race on it more often!

The outer layout used for the Sakhir GP. [Image from formula1.com].

At 87 laps long, it was the most laps in any race this year. There was also intrigue surrounding driver changes prompted by Romain Grosjean’s horrific incident the previous weekend and Lewis Hamilton’s positive Coronavirus test. With Kimi Raikkonen the oldest on the grid by far it gave a glimpse into what the younger drivers can achieve with George Russell swapping Williams to Mercedes to cover the world champion and did a splendid job. Jack Aitken covered Russell at Williams while Pietro Fittipaldi replaced Grosjean a Haas. It produced opening lap drama, Safety Cars, some fantastic overtaking moves and a new race winner! [Pictured above in the featured image; image from formula1.com]. read more

Hamilton comfortably wins again after absolutely horrific Grosjean incident: 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix Review

Both the Drivers and the Constructors Championships have been decided in the favour of Lewis Hamilton [Pictured above; feature image from fEssentiallySports] and Mercedes for an unprecedented 7th time as they arrived in Bahrain for the start of the final three-race leg to bring the 2020 season to a close. So, you may have been forgiven for thinking there was nothing else to fight for this season. Wrong. For both drivers and teams, there are still Championship positions to fight for, race seats for 2021 to try and win as well as just pride for those likely to be leaving the sport.

Bahrain International Circuit layout. [Image from formula1.com].

However, the enduring image of the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix will be the image of Romain Grosjean and his horrific opening lap incident [something I didn’t think appropriate for the featured image above]. read more

Hamilton matches Schumi’s Seven World Championships in stellar style: 2020 Turkish Grand Prix Review

Returning to Istanbul Park for the first time since 2011, I was looking forward to seeing the high downforce 2020 cars taking on the notorious turn 8 flat out. Track resurfacing completed only 10 days before the cars took to the circuit meant the stunning circuit was slippery meaning grip was difficult to find as cars spun. It was described as like an ice rink and that was even before the rain hit Qualifying and the race.

Istanbul Park circuit map. [Image from formula1.com].

In fairness, could we see races like that more often, please? So, much happened lap to lap with spins and the drivers really having to battle their cars in the conditions that really reward experience as well as separating the best from the rest. There was a surprise pole-sitter in lance Stroll; the first Canadian to take pole position since Jacques Villeneuve. The race seemed to be going his way but in the second half of the race, with no rain falling and the track not dry enough for Intermediates, managing the tyres and its temperatures became crucial. Instead, despite being 25s adrift in the early stages, Lewis Hamilton [Pictured celebrating above; image from Autoweek] finished 30s clear as he took the chequered flag to take his record-equalling 7th Drivers Championship title in some style! read more

Mercedes secure historic seventh straight Constructors Crown as Hamilton wins at Imola: Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix Review

After a 14 year absence since the last time it hosted a Grand Prix, Imola returned to F1 for 2020 with a difference. Not only was it returning with a new title named after the Emilia Romagna region of Italy (having hosted the Italian Grand Prix in 1980 and the San Marino Grand Prix 1981-2006), it was also a shortened format with only one practice session before Qualifying and the race. It was different for the teams and drivers to rise to.

Imola circuit map. [Image from formula1.com]

It was a first for a circuit that despite its absence is steeped in history; a fact marked by the drivers paying their respects at the Ayrton Senna memorial and some of the drivers wearing tribute helmets. Imola saw more history made after what was admittedly a lacklustre race when overtaking proved difficult due to the narrow layout of the circuit and a DRS zone that was perhaps 100m too short. The only real excitement came at the start and in the final 6 laps after the Safety car was called upon but it saw Mercedes make history by clinching an unprecedented 7th successive Constructors Championship [Pictured celebrating in the feature image; above image from RaceFans.net]. read more

Hamilton rewrites the history books with record-breaking 92nd win: 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix Review!

For the second time in this crazy 2020 season, F1 raced at a circuit that had never before hosted a Grand Prix. Portimao on the Algarve hosted the first Portuguese Grand Prix for the first time since 1996. That was hosted at Estoril and while Portimao hosted a pre-season test in 2009, only half of the field had driven around the circuit in any type car before. It was a fresh challenge and one that I think the drivers enjoyed as Lando Norris commented in practice, ‘I’m going side to side, left to right, like a rollercoaster’.

Portimao Circuit map. [Image from formula1.com].

With its fluctuating elevations and frequent changes of direction made the Algarve circuit look spectacular. There was the loose drain panel issue which forced Qualifying to be delayed by half an hour and the relatively new track surface meant it was difficult for the drivers to find grip but once they had got through the graining phase, the Medium tyres were the tyres to be on in the race despite the initial promise of the Soft tyre in the opening laps as a slight shower of rain fell. It was a crazy start and race. With a powerful wind close to the sea, I think this is something the drivers would experience when F1 does eventually return to Zandvoort but it would be nice to see F1 return to the Algarve. read more

The comment from the first debate that concerns me about Trump!

The US Presidential election is coming up. Donald J Trump or Joe Biden. One of these two will be the victor on 3 November. I haven’t commented on US politics much but seeing parts of their televised Presidential debate the other week and some of the comments from Mr Trump [Pictured above; image from Politico] there was something I wanted to pick up on.

Make no doubt about it, the debate itself was embarrassing to watch. That said, as a Brit, we currently have to put up with his mini-me (Boris Johnson). I have so far delayed this post as Mr Trump went through his bout of coronavirus shortly after the debate and didn’t feel quite right putting this post together while he was down. Thankfully, he did not succumb to the virus. I am no fan of Trump but I do not wish Coronavirus on anyone and if Trump is to be beaten by anything this year, I would much prefer it to be the ballot box. However, it is his comments about the ballot boxes that prompt this post. read more