Kicking off a year later than planned due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, when Turkey dace Italy at 8pm it will kick-start Euro 2020 [Logo in the feature image above from UEFA.com] a month of summer football across Europe.
Yes, across Europe. During a pandemic where one confederation (COMNEBOL) have struggled to find even one host country and have had to settle on Brazil after both Argentina and Columbia withdrew from hosting. That doesn’t make sense and to be honest, I am not entirely sure it is wise having this tournament spread across 11 countries with all the travelling involved. That is just my opinion.read more
That was an incredible season of F1. Incredible that it even got going during the Coronavirus pandemic, let alone getting to the finale in Abu Dhabi. It is testament to the FIA, Liberty media, F1, the circuit organisers, the teams and drivers that we even had a season of F1 in the first place after the Australian Grand Prix started but never went ahead after two McLaren team members tested positive for the virus and the first 8 races were cancelled.
The season eventually got underway in July, 217 days after the 2019 season finale; the third longest gap between seasons in F1 history as the 70th anniversary season started. It was historic as Michael Schumacher’s win record (91), podium (155) were beaten and his seven World Championship were equalled by Lewis Hamilton [Feature image above from formula1.com]. read more
Coronavirus. It feels a long time ago since Brexit was the big cat in the room and that was only a couple of months ago. I have been anxious to write on this topic because as someone who is at increased risk of complications if I get it (for those who don’t know, I am diabetic; that account for 26% of underlying conditions in England) it terrifies me. It literally scares the crap out of me! However, If the worst were to happen this may be my only chance to voice my concerns on it ok!
It was 23rd March when the Prime Minister announced measures that amounted to the biggest curb on our civil liberties ever in modern British history outside of wartime. The UK is on lockdown of sorts, following in the path of other European countries including France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland in a bid to curb the transmission and spread of the new novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The lockdown measures are relatively lax compared to some other countries and while it was a necessary move and universally praised as a look at my Facebook feed that Monday evening suggested, it is one that I felt was overdue.
Yes, this post will be critiquing the approach the government has taken in handling this epidemic. Criticising them has not been a cool thing to do at present. As people who know me know, I am a socialist and I often get told I criticise them whatever they do, or if it were a Labour government I would not be so critical. If Labour’s record was anywhere near the record of the current government, trust me I would be saying the same. I have also seen a lot of posts saying this is not a time to be political or that Boris Johnson is doing a good job and doing the best he can. The final assertion is a fair point. Boris Johnson, we must assume is doing what he feels is the best job he can and he cannot be faulted for that. However, at this time holding the government to account, regardless of your views in an objective way (as I hope to do in this post) has never been more important…read more
Formula One returned from its four-week summer break with a back to back of power-hungry circuits beginning with the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps; the longest circuit on the calendar followed the weekend after with the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
The first of those resulted in tragedy with the death of F2 driver Anthoine Hubert following a horrific incident in the Feature Race. Juan Manuel Correa is still in an induced coma and hopefully, he can recover from his injuries. It was a big loss in the paddock especially for Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly on the F1 grid who grew up with Hubert. Both put in strong performances in the circumstances but for Leclerc, he produced a stunning performance to win his maiden Grand Prix win and the 108th different race winner in F1 history.read more
After four weeks of no F1 racing, the action returns with the traditional starter for the second half of the campaign. Situated in the Ardennes Forest, it’s the true racers circuit; Spa-Francorchamps. With nine races to go between this weekend and the end of the season in Abu Dhabi, there is still a lot that can be decided but there are also interesting developments worth discussing. The first of those is the big development at Red Bull during the summer recess…
Gasly dropped, Albon promoted
The big news of the summer was Red Bull’s decision to demote Pierre Gasly to Toro Rosso with Alexander Albon being promoted the other way to the Red Bull team. Gasly has not had the best of seasons at Red Bull and his future has been the subject of speculation leading into the four-week break. The decision though came as a surprise considering what Christian Horner told Sky Sports F1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix.read more
In 2018, we have already had the euphoria and emotions of what turned out to be an amazing month of football in Russia. The domestic league seasons have started up again and now they have reached the first break in the season. That means the return of International football. Normally, European sides will begin their qualification campaign for the next major tournament but instead, they will be embarking on a new competition in the UEFA Nations League.
The Story behind the Nations League
The UEFA Nations League has its beginnings seven years ago, at the 2011 UEFA Strategy Meeting in Cyprus. This is when the discussions and consultations began regarding having a third major tournament to go alongside the European Championship (EUROs) and the World Cup. The discussions continued through meetings at the Top Executive Committee (TEP). It was not until March 2014, at the XXXVII UEFA Ordinary Congress in Astana, Turkey where the tournament was unanimously adopted.read more
Well, 2017 was an entertaining year in Formula One and was certainly tenser in terms of the Championships. That was in no small part down to Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari who took the battle to Mercedes. However, it was Mercedes who won both titles for the fourth successive year as Lewis Hamilton won his 4th title in a record-breaking year!
Vettel’s claim to the title began when the overcut worked well in Australia. Ferrari keeping him out longer than Hamilton allowed them to leapfrog the Mercedes to their first opening-round victory since 2010. Victories in Bahrain and Monaco left Vettel in a commanding position in the standings. Despite Grand Slam victories in China and Canada, Hamilton was still a fair way behind the German which was contributed to by the stir caused by Valtteri Bottas. The Finn took pole in Bahrain as well as victories in Russia and Austria to keep Hamilton earnest. Vettel still had the upper hand after F1’s crazy weekend in Azerbaijan. The German had steered into Hamilton behind the Safety Car prompting the stewards to give him a 10-second penalty. Hamilton though had a headboard issue to deal with meaning Vettel finished ahead as Daniel Ricciardo picked up his only win the season. It seemed luck was not on Hamilton’s side. Hamilton stormed to a fifth British Grand Prix victory at Silverstone and closed the gap down to a single point after a late puncture for Vettel saw him drop to 7th. Vettel came back with a victory in Hungary with Raikkonen either unable or not allowed to overtake his teammate.read more
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.
• 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.
• Lewis Hamilton marked his 200th Grand Prix by matching Michael Schumacher’s pole position record of 68 with an incredible qualifying performance in which he was in a league of his own. He set the new track record at Spa-Francorchamps three times on his way to pole. Then, after some great defensive driving to hold off the Ferrari of Vettel on the opening lap and then again after the restart, he went on to win the race becoming only the fourth man to win his 200th Grand Prix. Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg are the other three. • The Safety Car was brought out by a collision between the two Force India drivers on the run down to Eau Rouge on lap 29. Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon had already come to blows on the opening lap but did so again. On the second occasion, Perez seemed to cut in front of Ocon and suffered a rear right tyre puncture. Ocon suffered front wing damage but managed to recover and finish the race 9th. Perez failed to finish. Post-race, Vijay Malaya spoke of introducing team orders to avoid a repeat having previously allowing his drivers to race freely. • Daniel Ricciardo secured his 6th podium of the season in opportunistic fashion with a daring move on the restart from the Safety Car. On the climb up to Las Combes, the Australian made a double move to pass Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen to claim third place. He was able to hold on to that position until the end with Raikkonen finishing 4th and Bottas 5th. • Max Verstappen however, experienced the all too familiar sinking feeling as he pulled up on lap 7 having lost power in his car. This was his 6th retirement of the season and all of them have been due to mechanical issues. • The Haas F1 team could have been on for their second double points finish with both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen in the top 10 during the Safety Car period. However, Magnussen braked too heavily at the final turn upon the race restart and required a fresh set of tyres which dropped him down to 15th.The main beneficiary was Carlos Sainz who finished 10th and scored 1 point.It proved more painful for Haas as the two sets of points would have made their Championship position stronger.Nico Hulkenberg finishing 6th for Renault meant the French they closed the gap to them in the battle for 7th in the Constructors Championship to one point.read more
Two weeks ago, F1 returned to its spiritual home; Monza in Northern Italy for the Italian Grand Prix. The Tifosi were out in force demonstrating quite easily why they are some of the most passionate F1 fans in the world. The other main winners were Nico Rosberg who got a much better start than Lewis Hamilton who suffered from an inconsistent clutch to control the race to take his 21st career victory. Hamilton recovered from the slow start and ending the first lap in 6th to finish 2nd while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished 3rd. Ferrari closed the gap to Red Bull in the Constructors Championship to 11 points in the race for second and Williams retook 4th place from Force India.
F1 returned to the Italian Grand Prix at Monza for the 14th round of the 2016 season. The circuit, built in 1922 represents the oldest circuit on the F1 calendar and this weekend certainly added more to its history. The weekend saw a confirmed driver retirement, potential a second but is considered by some to be a sabbatical, the pole position record being equalled and the Driver’s Championship becoming ever more intense…
The Race Weekend
The big talking point coming into the weekend was the driving style of Max Verstappen after a controversial race in Belgium where it has to be said his driving at times was bordering on dangerous. Then, big news dropped as the teams prepared for the weekend was the announcement Felipe Massa would be retiring at the end of the season. However, as it came to business in Monza, Mercedes dominance continued. Nico Rosberg topped the timesheet in first practice session while Lewis Hamilton dominated the other two sessions. Maranello and the Tifosi hopes of some divine miracle did not seem apparent during practice as the nearest a Ferrari could get to the Mercedes was at best 0.453 seconds slower and it its worst; over a second. Interestingly though, the almost Ferrari ‘junior team’ that is Haas F1 (they have used an awful lost go Ferrari technology to be on the grid and employ their former reserve driver and a rumoured Ferrari driver elect in Grosjean) had at least one car in the top 10 in each of the three practice sessions.read more