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Monthly Archives: April 2010

SILVERSTONE’S brand new ‘Arena’ layout was unveiled today by the Duke of York after a five month long build at the cost of £5m.

The new layout lengthens the track by 0.472 miles to 3.666 miles, and has 18 turns instead of 17. As a result of the longer layout, the race will now be run over 52 laps and not 60.

The average lap time is projected to be 1:23.1secs, an average speed of 157ish mph. That’s even faster than Monza, making Silverstone the fastest track on the calendar.

More changes will come to Silverstone in 2011. The start/finish line will be moved to the other side of the circuit. This means that the last-first corner sequence will be ‘Club’ and the new ‘Abbey’ turn instead of ‘Woodcote’ into ‘Copse’.

You can see the new layout and 2011 simulation below.

ON Saturday night I tuned into my favourite radio station, ‘Planet Rock’ to listen to the results of an eagerly awaited listener’s poll they had been conducting over the past weeks. Just what is the greatest classic rock song intro of all time?

An hour later I had the answer, and I kind of knew what it would be after applying the good old process of elimination.

Deep Purple’s 1972 classic ‘Smoke on the Water’ took the top prize. Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore’s opening riff is known the world over, and has been played countless times by all rock lovers on every variation of guitar.

The winning intro.

The same can probably be said for the intro which finished second, the 1988 US chart topper ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’ by Guns N’ Roses.

Pink Floyd’s ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ came home in third. Surprisingly that was Floyd’s only entry in the whole top 40 (which you can see below).

Fourth to tenth was: ‘Hells Bells’ (AC/DC), ‘Layla’ (Derek & The Dominoes), ‘Thunderstruck’ (AC/DC), ‘Voodoo Child (Slight Return)’ (The Jimi Hendrix Experience), ‘Baba O’Riley’ (The Who), ‘Stairway To Heaven’ (Led Zeppelin) and ‘Speed King’ (Deep Purple).

My vote as ever went to a Pink Floyd song, but it wasn’t ‘Shine On…’. I voted for ‘Echoes’. Whenever I hear the opening keyboards and then the guitar it feels as if somebody has filled my head with Helium and it wants to leave my shoulders.

HAPPY St George’s day to all who celebrate April 23!

Juan Antonio Samaranch (1920-2010)

FORMER president of the International Olympic Committee Juan Antonio Samaranch died today at the age of 89. He had been admitted to a Barcelona hospital after being taken ill at the weekend with acute heart problems, but passed away with cardio-respiratory failure.

He took over as IOC president just after the 1980 summer Olympics in Moscow, which were the third summer games in a row to be remembered for all of the wrong reasons. The events in Munich were still fresh in the mind; the huge financial loss in Montreal would be felt for a generation and now Moscow had seen 65 countries – including the United States – boycott the games. Los Angeles was the only city to bid for the next summer games in 1984 because no country other than America wanted them. Mainly because no summer games had made a profit since L.A. last held the summer games in 1932. The IOC was also in a deep financial crisis itself, and modern Olympic Games seemed to be doomed.

But Samaranch secured big TV deals as well as sponsorship, and the LA games – despite the Soviet boycott – proved to be a huge success.  He also helped with the gradual acceptance of professional athletes into a traditionally amateur sports event. Without this move we wouldn’t have the high standard of competitions we see today. Furthermore, Samaranch increased the number of nations taking part at each summer games during his presidency. Before he took over, Moscow ’80 had 80 nations taking part. Los Angeles ’84 had 140, Seoul ’88 had 160, Barcelona ’92 had 169, Atlanta ’96 had 197 and Sydney 2000 had 199 nations present. This trend has continued after his presidency as well.

In 2001, the current IOC president, Jacques Rogge, took over from Samaranch who became honorary president for life. His 21 years as president is the second longest in history of the IOC. The founder of the modern Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin was president for 29 years.

There were allegations of corruption in the IOC during his presidency, but he was cleared of any wrong doing. But some still wanted him out. When vote buying allegations became public in light of Salt Lake City being awarded the 2002 winter Olympics, runaway corruption was exposed in the IOC.

But to me, Samaranch will always be the man who saved the modern games from an apparent abyss. Without him we wouldn’t have the global sporting spectacle we have now.


Lewis Hamilton: "What numbers shall we take away Jenson?" Jenson Button: "I'll have a 1 & 25, and I think you'll like 2 & 18."

REIGNING F1 World Champion Jenson Button won his second race of the 2010 season today after a masterful drive in the ever-changing weather conditions in Shanghai. The Brit won the 56 lap event in a time of 1:46:42.163 (106.591 mph). Crossing the line just 1.5 seconds behind him was his team-mate Lewis Hamilton who carved his way through the field to help record McLaren’s first 1-2 finish since the 2007 Italian Grand Prix. Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg again out shone his team-mate Michael Schumacher to finish third. Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race with a lap of 1:42.061 (119.470 mph).

The first lap was eventful for a number of reasons. Timo Glock was left up on his jacks by his mechanics and didn’t start the race at all due to engine failure. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso jumped the start and led Mark Webber who had taken revenge on fellow Red Bull driver and pole sitter Sebastian Vettel by passing him into the first corner. Behind them, Vitantonio Liuzzi dropped his Force India under braking and crashed into Kobayashi’s Sauber and Buemi’s Toro Rosso.

This accident heralded the arrival of the Safety Car and many of the front runners dived into the pits to change tyres as the first of the on-off rain showers which affected the whole race began to dampen the track. But the intermediate tyres the drivers had changed to only lasted about three laps, meaning everyone had to change their tyres yet again. This led to the main talking point of the race. Hamilton and Vettel entered the pits side by side and Hamilton only just squeezed ahead. The pair were then released at near enough the same time meaning they were again neck and neck, only this time actually in the pit lane. Vettel was now the one doing the squeezing, and Hamilton nearly drove into another team’s equipment as a result. The Stewards announced that they would investigate the incident after the race, and later gave both drivers a reprimand as to their future conduct.

By Lap 16 Hamilton was ahead of both Red Bulls and going wheel to wheel with the Mercedes of Michael Schumacher. The seven times World Champion prevented Hamilton from passing him on this lap, but Hamilton passed Schumacher the next time around with a beautiful double overtake. The guard has well and truly changed.

The next major piece of action came when Jamie Alguersuari broke his Toro Rosso’s front wing leaving debris on the track. The Safety Car was brought out again (when double waved yellows would have done) and the whole field bunched up. Alonso who was then over 70 seconds behind leader Button was now back in contention for the race win.

When the Safety Car finally came in it was time for Jenson Button to make everyone think: “Oh, is that allowed?” He slowed right down and the whole field concertinaed up. Hamilton was actually forced to take to the grass because there was nowhere else to go. At the re-start Vettel bumped into Hamilton, who in turned knocked ‘Canberra Milk’ spokesperson Mark Webber off the track and down the order.

Hamilton continued to scythe through the field, and on lap 29 he passed Robert Kubica’s Renault. At the same point a few seconds later, Alonso passed Adrian Sutil’s Force India.

Hamilton eventually jumped the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg in the pits and the Woking based team were now running first and second. But as the race went on, both Button and Hamilton’s tyres began to fade away, but so were those of chasing pair Rosberg and Alonso. Nails were being bitten and nerves were jangling at an alarming rate! Especially when Button went off.

Russian Renault driver Vital Petrov was reward for a great drive in only his fourth Grand Prix as Mark Webber slid around turn 12, allowing him up to seventh to score his first six points in F1.

In the end Button and Hamilton crossed the finishing line comfortably ahead of Rosberg and Alonso, and I went mad! 😀  I’ve waited so long for a 1-2 finish and was so glad it had finally happened.

Roll on the Spanish Grand Prix on the 9th of May. That is if the paddock can get all their kit back home.

Drivers’ Standings

  1. Button 60pts
  2. Rosberg 50pts
  3. Alonso 49pts
  4. Hamilton 49pts
  5. Vettel 45pts
  6. Massa 41pts
  7. Kubica 40pts
  8. Webber 28pts
  9. Sutil 10pts
  10. Schumacher 10pts


Constructor’s Standings

  1. McLaren 109pts
  2. Ferrari 90pts
  3. Red Bull 73pts
  4. Mercedes 60pts
  5. Renault 46pts
  6. Force India 18pts
  7. Williams 6pts
  8. Toro Rosso 2pts

SEBASTIAN VETTEL secured his third-and Red Bull’s fourth-pole of the season earlier this morning’s qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix with a Q3 lap time of 1:34.558 (128.949 mph). His Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber made it yet another front row lock out with a time of 1:34.806. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso qualified third with a lap of 1:34.913.

The rest of the top 10 drivers are, in grid order: Rosberg (Mercedes), Button (McLaren), Hamilton (McLaren), Massa (Ferrari), Kubica (Renault), Schumacher (Mercedes) and Sutil (Force India).

There are some driver penalties further down the grid to tell you about. Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi will drop down five places after changing his gearbox. Meanwhile Hispania’s Karun Chandhok will also drop down five places because the team broke a seal on his gearbox without an FIA steward present. But since he qualified dead last it doesn’t affect him at all.

I was pretty shocked at Red Bull’s pace in Q3 and total lack of pace from the McLarens, especially from Hamilton. He’s been dominating the time sheets for almost the whole meet, but when it really mattered he could only manage 6th and Button 5th. Although both cars were apparently suffering from a faulty gearbox which was putting them into neutral instead of second. I just hope that they can get off the line without any trouble.

Now then, just who will win?

I’m going to put my neck on the line again and say Vettel. Just who can stop him in both the dry or wet at the moment? I’m sure that if he had a totally reliable car to drive he would have won all three races this season. Vettel himself believes that it will rain, and we all know how good he is in the wet. Just look at last year’s Chinese Grand Prix.

NO, I’m not kidding and this isn’t a late April Fool’s joke either.

It has surfaced on the internet that artistic director Des McAnuff, director of the Broadway and West End hit musical ‘Jersey Boys’ is working on a new opera based on the life of Ayrton Senna.

You still may think I’m pulling your leg, but apparently it has already been commissioned by the English National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera. It is set to premier in London in November 2012.

Some of you may have heard about ‘Shane Warne: The Musical’, but that was meant to be a bit tongue and cheek. By the sounds of it, ‘Senna’ is going to be a proper opera.

Now I can’t be the only F1 fan to be thinking “how the hell is this going to a) work, and b) do the great man justice?” If it bombs (and I really hope it doesn’t) it will surly tarnish the whole Ayrton Senna image.

Besides, even if it is made and is a success I still don’t believe I’d be able to watch it. It would be too cringe worthy and awkward to sit and watch somebody playing my hero and singing. It’s even making me cringe now just thinking about it.

What do you think? Will this be a fantastic shot in the arm for Formula 1, its fans and the Senna name? Or will it be just as painful as really getting shot in the arm?

Des McAnuff - In the process of writing

Ayrton Senna - The next West End smash hit?

I'd like to go to the show. If I could just get rid of my spots.

YESTERDAY (12th April), Roger Waters – formerly of Pink Floyd – announced that he will tour his magnum opus ‘The Wall’ in North America later this year.

The tour of Pink Floyd’s multi-million selling album will begin in Toronto on the 15th September (two years to the day since former band mate Rick Wright passed away), and will end on the 13th December in Anaheim. Dates for gigs in Europe and the rest of the world in 2011 should be announced later in the year.

These shows will again feature a wall being built on stage during the first half of the show, and then torn down at the end of the second half. The wall itself will be a staggering 240ft wide and 35ft tall. That’s 73m wide and 101/2m high in new money.

Pink Floyd toured ‘The Wall’ in 1980 and 1981. However the tour consisted of just 31 shows in four venues due to the sheer scale of the props. These venues were: The LA Sports Arena (7-13 Feb ’80), Nassau Coliseum (NY) (24-28 Feb ‘80), Westfalenhalle (Dortmund) (13-20 Feb ’81) and Earls Court (London) (4-9 Aug ’80 & 13-17 June ’81).

The shows at Earls Court provided the music for the live album ‘Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980-81.’ The very last show – 17th June 1981 – was the last time Roger Waters played with Pink Floyd until they reunited at Live 8 in 2005.

As a solo artist, Waters only played ‘The Wall’ in its entirety once. That was in Berlin on the 21st July 1990  to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall eight months earlier. The concert featured guest stars such as: Van Morrison, Sinéad O’Connor, Cyndi Lauper, Marianne Faithfull, The Scorpions and Bryan Adams. The crowd was a monumental 350,000 people, and the show was televised in 52 countries around the world. That until later this year was the last time a member of Pink Floyd has performed ‘The Wall’.

Fingers crossed that the tour will be coming over here in 2011. I was lucky enough to see Roger play ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ in 2008. I’ll count myself f*@#ing lucky to see him play ‘The Wall’ as well.

Roger Waters - The very night that I saw him at the O2 Arena.

AUSTRALIAN Grand Prix boss Ron Walker has called Formula 1 drivers “lazy prima donnas” in an article in the Herald Sun.

This comment came after several drivers complained of the low light levels in this year’s race.

As we all know it rained during the Grand Prix, and cobble that together with a 5.00pm start time in Melbourne in late March, and light is bound to be an issue.

I think he should go out and drive an F1 car around Albert Park in those conditions and see how well he does. Then maybe he’ll see just how hard the drivers have it. I bet you he’d want it to be as light as possible.

Red Bull finally taste success in 2010

SEBASTIAN VETTEL finally won his first race of the season earlier this morning in the surprisingly dry Malaysian Grand Prix. He won the 56 lap race in a time of 1:33:48.412, an average speed of 120.922 mph. His Red Bull team-mate, pole sitter Mark Webber chased him for the whole race after Vettel had passed him at the first corner. Webber set the fastest lap of the race in a time of 1:37.054 (125.225 mph). Nico Rosberg came third, giving the returning Mercedes team their first podium in F1 since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix.

Vettel passing Webber wasn’t the only highlight of the first lap. Both McLarens and Ferraris tore through the field from their poor grid slots. Hamilton (McLaren) was the pick of these four drivers in the early part of the race. In fact by lap four he had made up 10 places. Two of these places were gifted to him like a kids Easter egg though. Barrichello stalled his Williams on the grid and Pedro de la Rosa never even got going, his Sauber’s Ferrari engine gave up on him as he made his way to the grid.

On the second lap Alonso (Ferrari) passed Button (McLaren) and was again stuck behind Massa (his team-mate) as he was for most of the race in Australia. Makes you wonder who really is the biggest threat at Ferrari doesn’t it?

Lap eight saw Hamilton and Petrov (Renault) snake their way down the front straight. Hamilton was given a warning by the race stewards for excessive weaving. I bet you in years gone by he would have been given a drive-through penalty.

Michael Schumacher retired on lap 10 after his left-rear wheel broke. His come-back still hasn’t got going yet has it?

Vettel pitted on lap 24 and just managed to get back out onto the track ahead of Hamilton. The follow lap it was Webber’s turn to pit, but his seemingly endless bad luck struck again. The front right wheel gun didn’t come off properly, costing him any chance of jumping Vettel and taking the lead.

The next big moment in the race came on lap 44. Massa passed Button and set off in search of Hamilton who was stuck behind Sutil’s Force India. A couple of laps later and Alonso made a move on the world champion. But he couldn’t make it stick and Button took the position back.

Alonso tried to pass Button again on the penultimate lap but again couldn’t make the pass stick. This time his engine, which had been abused for much of the race by a faulty gearbox downshift, finally decided to blow up.

Some notable firsts occurred during the race as well. Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso) and Nico Hülkenberg (Williams) scored their first points, Bruno Senna (HRT) finished his first race and so did Virgin Racing, di Grassi coming home in 14th.

In my opinion Vettel and Red Bull really needed this win. They should have won all three races so far this year, and to lose this one would have been heart breaking. Especially because the McLarens and Ferraris were never going to mount a challenge for the race win.

So it is on to China in a few weeks time, and with just nine points separating the top seven anybody could win. Just the way we fans want it.

Drivers’ Standings

  1. Massa 39pts
  2. Alonso 37pts
  3. Vettel 37pts
  4. Button 35pts
  5. Rosberg 35pts
  6. Hamilton 31pts
  7. Kubica 30pts
  8. Webber 24pts
  9. Sutil 10pts
  10. Schumacher 9pts


Constructors’ Standings

  1. Ferrari 76pts
  2. McLaren 66pts
  3. Red Bull 61pts
  4. Mercedes 44pts
  5. Renault 30pts
  6. Force India 18pts
  7. Williams 6pts
  8. Toro Rosso 2pts