It’s been a while since my last blog, apologies to anyone who has been waiting in eager anticipation for my latest mutterings, but quite frankly, if you fall into the category then perhaps you need to find yourself a hobby! Thats not to say im not very flattered if you do though.
Anyway, it’s been a week or so of ups and downs and rather than dwelling on the negatives, I’ll talk about the positives. This week I headed off to Brands Hatch for the Motorsport Vision Racing (MSVR) media day. It seemed like an age since I was last at Brands Hatch but it did mean the new season of Motorsport was drawing near. A coffee and bacon roll on arrival was much appreciated before Jonathan Palmer discussed the season ahead and introduced the racing series to compete under the MSVR banner. My full report on the media day can be found at TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk which you can read here.
After the presentations of race series and discussions in the media centre, I number of cars from the various representative series were taking to the track. Some of which were providing passenger rides. Two cars to offer this were a pair of Radical Sports cars. As I headed into the garage, I managed to get a ride in the Radical SR3 RS. I was in for the ride of my life. A full report of my experience in the car can be read here. So after this amazing experience I was pretty made up. I’d never done anything like that before but would jump at the chance to do it again.
As I write this, it is three weeks until I will be heading to Snetterton for my first race weekend of the year. MSVR are hosting a number of race series, and one of which, the MSV Trackday Trophy will see the debut of my Friend Julie. She will be taking to the new 300 circuit in a Porsche 944. So I will be there to cheer he on, get some photos and reporting on the weekend.
Other news from the world of motorsport is the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Its been a long wait for the new season to get underway, however, there are far more important things happening in the world that are of higher importance than Formula One and the current situation out there is one of them. Let’s be honest, after last year’s season opening bore fest, it’s probably just as well it’s been postponed. Whether it will be slotted into the already congested F1 calendar at a later date remains to be seen. I had heard that it could slot in between India and Abu Dhabi towards the end of the year.
Lastly, both my 1966 GT40 Model has been finished and my latest model, a 1960’s Mini Cooper racing car. Having spent hours working on the GT40, meticulously paining and putting it together to get it perfect, disaster struck when it came to the decals. The kit was quite old and although the decals showed no sign of ageing or damage, when it came to putting them on some of them shattered and broke. I did the best I could to put them together and it did mean I had to paint the front wing decals. It was disappointing for this to happen after the model was looking really good. There were however no such problems with the Mini and that was completed without any problem. It looks really good and even has an opening bonnet to show off the engine which I spent quite a while working on. Its hard work painting very small parts for the engine but it was very worthwhile. I’m thinking of putting together a flickr album on my account to show the photos I have of them at various stages of the build. I now need to find some more models to work on.
After thinking about it for a few weeks now, a bought myself a model kit last week. I was surprised however at the lack of choice of model car kits in my local, but very good model shop. The bloke said there seemed to be less and less coming onto the market which to me was disappointing. I searched online to see what I could find a eventually decided to plump for a Porsche 956C raced by Stefan Bellof in the iconic orange Jagermeister livery.
It’s been a long time since I last made a model kit and this, surprisingly was the first kit of a car I have attempted to put together. I used to make a lot of model kits a few years ago, but they were all First and Second World War aircraft, so it was to be a slightly new challenge for me. After starting on it I wondered why I hadn’t made a model for so long as I really enjoyed it. It’s great to see it gradually take shape whilst putting together details like the cockpit and painting the dashboard. I became somewhat addictive and it was difficult to put it down.After a few days it was complete. The transfers were on and it was looking pretty good. I was feeling pleased with myself, but disappointed I had finished it. But fear not, after searching around online, I bought my self car number two. A 1966 Ford GT40 MKII, the car raced by Denny Hulme and Ken Miles to second place in that year’s Le Mans 24 hour race. This time the kit is a bit more complex than the previous so may well take me a little longer.
One thing is for certain though, I’m hooked on making models now and there will be plenty more to come and I will keep you updated on my progress.
Most of you will have heard the sad news about Robert Kubica this week. The Formula One star crashed his Skoda whilst competing in a Rally in Italy leaving him with major injuries to his hand, arm and leg. Doctors and Surgeons battled for over seven hours operating on his injuries to save his hand.
It is still not known how long his recovery will take but he is showing good signs and doctors seem confident he will make a full recovery however long it may take. Initially, reports were that he would miss the start of the Formula One season but now the full extent of his injuries have become clearer, it could well be a year before his return, if at all.
Robert is a well like driver within the world of F1 by teams, drivers and media alike. He is a huge talent with his drives at Renault showing this and it won’t be long before the Polish driver will be a serious Championship contender. As a mark of support and unity, teams have been running their cars at Jerez in testing with get well soon messages.
Many people have wondered why Kubica was in a Rally car in the first place so close to the start of the Formula one season but Renault have defended the decision to let him take part. We all know the dangers of motorsport and let’s face it, modern safety in the support has become so good, it is become rarer for drivers to suffer bad injuries, (remember Webber jumping out and walking away from his car after flying through the air in Valencia?) although injuries do still occur. Robert is clearly a born racer and like most has the urge to get in a car and race. He knows what he is doing and what happened was a freak accident that could happen to anyone, including the best. No one can foresee these incidents and life would be pretty rubbish if you didn’t do things because of what might go wrong. Everything has its risks, even walking down the street so Is it really fair to stop a racing driver doing something he loves? Not really.
In my last blog post I questioned the need for reserve drivers, and Renault have two, Romain Grosjean and Bruno Senna. Here is clearly a time for the reserve drivers to show their worth and step into the fray. However, many, including Renault themselves have been questioning the two drivers abilities at being able to fill the Number one driver’s seat. The team are in a position to be pushing for race wins after Kubica’s performances and podium finishes last year. With Vitaly Petrov currently in the second car, would this target be achieved? Although Petrov has potential, he is still some way off becoming a race winner. Senna, albeit in the slowest car last year seems some way off being able to even push for a points place and Grosjean had a disappointing spell with Renault after the Piquet scandal.
The latest rumour is that Renault are seeking the services of Nick Heidfeld. A proven driver with experience and clearly a better driver than the afore mentioned. Renault seem to have little faith in their reserve drivers so I yet again question the point of them? This is a situation the reserve drivers are there for and they look to be left unused in favour of someone else.
All that said. I would like to wish Robert Kubica a speedy recovery and hope to see him back in an F1 car very soon delighting fans world wide as one of the sports most exciting and much loved racers.
It’s been a busy week in the Formula One world. Although it is still an agonizing five week wait till the season opener in Bahrain, the teams have been unveiling their new cars and heading on to the Valencia tarmac for testing.
We all know how these big car reveals go, the drivers stand beside a big sheet in front of the worlds media waiting with eager anticipation. Then when everyone is about to burst with excitement, the drivers pull off the sheet and Ta-Daa, the new car is on show. That’s when everything goes a bit flat. Is that it? All this excitement and being whipped into frenzy, you get a car that makes you look hard to notice any difference from the previous year’s entry. With the exception of a few technical differences due to rule changes, not a lot has changed. Let’s face it, the only thing that’s going to get the average fan excited is a livery change. The only team to do this is of course the team formally known as Renault. As part of their ongoing argument over the Lotus name, they have decided they will go with the classic John Player Black and Gold Lotus livery. ‘It’s coloured like a Lotus, therefore it must be a Lotus’ seems to be their argument.
McLaren were an exception to the rule when it came to big unveiling of their new championship contender. In front of the large crowd in Germany, a team of mechanics put the car together, whilst others bought along a few bits to attach. Finally Jenson and Lewis turn up and there it is, the New McLaren. Personally, I think it would have been better if they arrived with a handful of nuts and bolts and asked where they were supposed to go.
Not only was the McLaren’s launch different, they have produced another big talking point. On the whole the car looks similar to the last, however this one has one large change. The side air intakes. These come in an L shape and give the car a unique look. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into this design so whether it makes any difference will remain to be seen, but it has given something for fans to discuss.
One thing I really don’t understand from the world of F1 now is this. Why are so many teams announcing so many reserve and test drivers? With a limit now put on testing in Formula One, what is the need for all these guys on the payroll. There are some teams that have three or four test / reserve drivers. But why? I know there is simulator work to be done and a reserve driver is there to step for a driver suffering injury or illness for example, but there are only two first team drivers on the grid, so there is no need for more than two reserve drivers. If you ask me, two reserve drivers is one too many.
Also this week, Peugeot also unveiled their new Le Mans Series challenger, the 90X and with their disappointment of last year’s Le Mans 24 hours, they will be hoping this new car will bring them victory. Unlike the New Audi R18 who have changed from an open cockpit car to a closed cockpit, the Peugeot doesn’t look massively different to the last. It’s only the new compulsory centre fin that has made much of a difference. But with their driver line up of Alex Wurz, Marc Gene, Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Minassian, Franck Montagny, Stephane Sarrazin, Sebastien Bourdais, Pedro Lamy and Simon Pagenaud, no one can write off their chances.
As the football transfer window has now been slammed firmly shut, the nation has been left astounded. The mega bucks have been splashed with Chelsea forking out £50m for Fernando Torres and Liverpool paying £35m to replace him with Andy Carroll.
Let’s put this into some kind of perspective here. It will cost you £40m to run a formula one team for a season. Are these players really worth it? You cannot deny that Torres is world class when he’s in form, but what about Carroll. People say he has potential, but potential is nothing if you don’t produce the goods. Will he be able to step up to the plate and give Liverpool some kind of return on their investment? I guess only time will tell.
Its not just the transfer fee’s being paid which are reaching dizzy heights, but so are the wages. Torres has been reported to be receiving £175,000 a week. A WEEK! That’s even before you consider what he will get in bonuses and sponsorship deals. I’ve been doing a few sums to put this into an easy (or somewhat uneasy) to understand concept. That pay works out at £17.34 per minute. That’s not per minute of a working day, that’s per minute, every minute of every hour of everyday of the year. I could only dream of £17.34 an hour for eight hours of a working day! So assuming the Spaniard gets a nice comfortable eight hours of sleep tonight in his big expensive bed whilst you and I struggle to get a few hours in between worrying about petrol costs, vat increases and making ends meet, Mr Torres will wake up £8333 better off. Even more scary is if you work these ridiculous wages out in actual playing time. On average he will play no more than 1 game per week all year. Assuming he plays a full 90 minutes for 52 games a year, league and cup this works out at £1944.44 per minute or a staggering £32.41 per second of playing time.
Unfortunately, money has become everything that is wrong with the beautiful game. Players are no longer loyal to a club, they are loyal to one thing and one thing only. Money. Therefore they will go which ever club is willing to give them the most. They don’t care if a club gets promoted or relegated because they will just move on. As long as they get their huge wage packet they couldn’t care less about the club. Let’s face it, once a player wants to leave there is no point holding on to him because he will never perform well for you. You cannot build a club on player loyalty because it no longer exists. Players fail to sign new contacts because they get greedier and greedier leaving the door open for them to walk away and leave you with nothing.
Now an era of rich owners help ruin the game too. With plenty of money at their disposal they can spend what they want on who they want making it ever increasingly harder for the smaller clubs to compete thus increasing the gulf between the top clubs and their rivals. I heard with astonishment a couple of weeks ago on Radio 5 live during a phone in, a fan express his displeasure at Chelsea’s recent dip in form. What did he want? He wanted Roman Abramovic out. Yes, he wanted the very man who pumped money into the club transforming them into an all conquering beast to leave. Before the arrival of Mr Abramovic himself, Chelsea fans would have been delighted with fifth place in table. With yearly losses of £70m and the astronomical wage bills, if the Russian Billionaire was to leave, then Chelsea would without doubt cease to exist unless someone of similar Billionaire credentials took over. This man calls himself a fan? He clearly knows nothing. Unfortunately, with the arrival of billionaire owners comes the arrival of armchair supporters and the so called ‘Prawn Sandwich’ brigade as a certain Mr Roy Keane put it.
Now as you may or may not know, I am an Ipswich Town fan. I’ve experienced the highs and lows of football. The euphoria of promotion and the heartbreak of relegation. Administration, the sale of good players, and countless unsuccessful playoff matches all help to make it tough on those who follow the Blues. What heartbreak has the aforementioned Chelsea fan experienced in the last few years? The loss of a game? Big deal, that’s something I experience on a regular basis. Ipswich got thumped 7-0 by Chelsea in the 3rd round of the FA cup last month! Recently the Tractor Boys took on Arsenal in the semi-final of the league cup. Having won the first leg at home, Ipswich just needed a draw at the Emirates Stadium to make the final. Whilst I fully expected my beloved team to lose, it doesn’t make it easier to take when it happens. What fans of the big teams don’t understand is that if they were to lose in a semi final, they still have a good chance the following season to make the final. Whereas a fan of a smaller club knows that it could be years before they will get a crack at a final again. I for one have never seen my team in a cup final, and I imagine it will be a long time yet before I get a chance to.
I don’t often get see Ipswich play at the Theatre of nightmares that is Portman Road. I used to have a season ticket before it got too expensive. I still love the club, but in the current financial climate, I just can’t afford to go. At least we don’t have Torres in our squad. Would I want to spend my hard earned money on watching a player who could earn more than the cost of the ticket within one second of kick off? Highly unlikely.
Football needs to take a leaf out of the Americans book. Now you won’t often hear me say this, but they have got it right. The NFL, (National Football League) that’s American Football and not Soccer as they call it, impose a wage cap on teams meaning one team can’t have all the best players by offering huge salaries. Also, the lowest placed team at the end of the season gets the first pick on players entering the next season’s draft. As a result, the game is played on a more level playing field and the amount of different teams winning the Superbowl over the last few years is testament to this. Maybe FIFA need to take this in to consideration before the whole of Football implodes!
Oh, and did Ipswich make any big signings in the transfer window? Yes, they splashed out a huge £150,000 on a midfielder called Andy Drury from Luton Town. That’s less than a week’s wage for Fernando Torres. We really could have done with a new Striker, unfortunately talks with Swindon Town’s Charlie Austin fell through. Why? Burnley were willing to offer him more money. So now we are still left with Jason Scotland who clearly learnt his trade by watching Emile Heskey Videos. Rumour has it Ipswich weren’t supposed to be getting him as he was aiming for Norwich. Unfortunately he missed.