Monday, 8 October 2012

Das Finger strikes again as Alonso falters

Warning: the following blog was written by someone suffering from severe man-flu and about to celebrate an incredibly low-key birthday.


Ahhh Formula One 2012, what are we going to do with you ey?

You couldn't just be all boring and predictable, like Ed Miliband, snooker or Alan Shearer could you?

I am of course talking about the season as a whole, this weekend's race at Suzuka was more dull than a Kimi Raikkonen speech about geology. Am I the only one who thinks that? Suzuka normally provides great racing but, after the first corner, I was quite underwhelmed by the action.

Anyway, the sport is still set for it's most thrilling finale in...well...two years. This year, the glory looks set to go either to Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel...or maybe Lewis Hamilton or maybe Kimi Raikkonen. In fact, I was tempted to name this post "two and a half men" on that basis, but then most people would avoid it on the grounds that the blog would involve Charlie Sheen hanging out with a ten-year-old boy.

Once again, I tried to avoid both qualifying and race results, but once again, my irrational addiction to BBC Sport meant that I gave away both before I could hang on for the highlights shows. Anyway, just like at the Bahrain Grand Prix earlier this year, I was given the terrifying feeling that I had been taken back in time to 2011, with Seb dominating a race and everyone being far too polite to put up a fuss. As a result, I won't spend too much time talking about how the German cruised to pole position, got to the first corner first and subsequently dominated the race, holding off the challenge of the brilliant Felipe Massa.

Behind him, there was more of a race, with Romain Grosjean again doing his best to annoy the whole paddock. Grosjean to me is like Donkey Kong in Mario Kart, he can be quick, but is incredibly clumsy. After a decent getaway, he collided with Mark Webber after what he said was an over-zealous attempt to not hit anyone. Say what? That's like saying "but love, I was trying so hard not to kiss her, I ended up shagging her"...isn't it? However, Romain wasn't the only Lotus causing trouble in the first corner; Raikkonen himself was caught up in his own incident, in his case with championship leader Alonso, causing him to spin out and as a result, making this year's title battle tighter than (note: come back to crap sex metaphor later).

Kamui Kobayashi drove a splendid race in front of his home fans to take the final podium position, despite a late push from Jenson Button who, sadly, wasn't able to apply more pressure than he did, which was about as much as a kitten in a vacuum. That said, Button drove a strong race in difficult circumstances at a track he often excels at. How he copes with the demands of being McLaren's apparent number one driver will be interesting with the talented Sergio Perez making life difficult. The young Mexican remains enigmatic to me; after three podium finishes this season, two of them in second place, you would have expected him to have amassed many points than he has. You want to know why? I'm going to tell you, gather round.

The reason he hasn't is his inconsistency, which surfaced again this weekend. After a stunning overtaking move on the unusually circumspect Hamilton, he attempted a similar manouvre later in the race, only to get it totally wrong, and in the manner of a drunk man falling over in a puddle, only at 100mph. Then again, the Sauber wouldn't be the first thing with a Chelsea logo stamped on it's body to do something reckless and stupid.

Are we done talking about the race now? Yes? Good, let's look ahead.

Four of the next five races were not on the calendar in 2008, when Lewis Hamilton took the world title. I was going to go somewhere with that statistic, but it actually doesn't really mean anything, so I may just leave you in awe of my knowledge.

I can't see past Vettel winning a third consecutive title, which would be something of a shame. I don't think Vettel has driven particularly well this year, while Alonso and - to a lesser extent - Hamilton have been excellent and consistent. Of course, my prediction means Vettel won't win the title, but the Red Bull looks so strong after a a raft of new upgrades. That said the next four circuits should in theory suit the McLaren, due to the huge straights at these tracks, tracks which follow the tried-and-tested formula from track designing extraordinaire Herman Tilke (long straight, hairpin, long straight, loads of twisty shit in the middle, with run-off about the size of New Zealand, then back to the long straight). To make the season interesting, one of Raikkonen or Hamilton has to win in Korea.

McLaren will of course say they will not use Button to help Hamilton, but failure to do so would be stupid, and McLaren are too well run and too strategically strong to...oh wait. Anyway, if Button fails to comply, Hamilton will do what he does best: get on Twitter and moan about it.

I do love back-to-back races, providing as they do a great opportunity to make sex jokes about Formula One on consecutive weekends. I hope you enjoyed my return to Formula One, if not, the link to that Felipe Massa piece will remind you of when I used to be funny.

I will report back to you in a week, when hopefully I will be able to leave my bed.


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Orgies, Bin Laden and'll see.

The last time I made a blog post, Andy Murray appeared to be doomed to failure in all Grand Slam finals, the Olympics hadn't happened yet, and if someone asked me to "Gangnam style", I would think I was being invited to some crazy orgy.

A lot has changed; I have graduated from university, finished a position at Total Football Magazine and have taken a new position elsewhere, making the big bucks (travel expenses) like an actual journalist, not some spotty, itchy twenty-something desperately seeking an employer with more money than sense. Since I stopped blogging, we in Britain have witnessed a truly remarkable summer of sport, and I take a lot of responsibility for that. So, with the sporting drama of the next few months guaranteed to be as dry as a Panda in a convent, I will return with my shining wit (or an anagram of it), for your entertainment. You know, until I get bored and stop again.

Anyway, my last blog was about Andy Murray's heartbreaking Wimbledon final loss. As I predicted, the naysayers and "haters" quickly resumed liking the "Scot" when he became a "Brit" again at this Summer's Olympics, where he not just beat Roger Federer, but inflicted a defeat more embarrassing than Steve Kean doing a press conference...naked. Oh, Steve Kean has been sacked? My God, it has been a while.

I will return to Andy Murray later, but I think the Olympics needs to be discussed beforehand. Last time I wrote here, Britain was about to be swamped by 791 million foreign spectators, and our tube systems would be more cramped and over-worked than Wayne Rooney at a nursing home. Our security would be so bad that Osama Bin Laden would actually come back from the dead, travel to Stratford, win a few gold medals, give the Queen a wedgie and then destroy the Olympic Park.

As it happened, we were treated to a truly remarkable Games. I still have no idea what the opening ceremony was about, but it was a truly spectacular display of what it means to be British, without the political-correctness, whining and bad food. When the flags came out, I was overwhelmed by how many countries actually wanted to send people to East London, but that's what the Games are all about, triumph over adversity*. After Wiggins, Hoy and co blew us away on their bikes, there came an evening so dramatic and so triumphant that the whole nation collectively squealed in orgasmic delight. And not just because everyone seems to have a crush on Jessica Ennis.

* - sorry cockneys, please don't hurt me.

The first Saturday of the Games included a 45 minute period where Britain won three gold athletics. Not on bikes or on boats, but actually running and stuff. From then on, something magical happened. We started being nice to each other. Train and tube journeys would be accompanied by smiles, manners and conversations. Of course, we have since regressed into our old selves, where any attempt to talk to a stranger on the train is met by either a glare or prayers that one won't get stabbed. Ahhh London.

I was lucky enough to watch the Beach Volleyball at Horse Guards Parade, but to those of you thinking I'm a jammy sod, half of the time was spent up in the Gods, in the middle of a storm, looking at big Latvian men diving around in the sand, playing with balls. Not so lucky now am I?

I told you I would get back to Andy Murray. After his Olympic triumph, Murray took New York by storm, displaying determination, ruthlessness and throaty roars not seen since Godzilla in the 1998 movie...Godzilla.
Once again, as soon as people got a feeling Murray could win, their attitudes began to change towards him. A fifth Grand Slam Final followed and a meeting with Novak Djokovic would test whether Murray really had grown stronger mentally. After winning two titanic sets, it appeared the 76 year wait for a British male Grand Slam winner would be continue for no more than an hour. Murray, sensing I now had a job to get up for early the next morning, decided to screw with my mind and lose the next two sets. However, he hung on to take a victory which was never in doubt. My Facebook statuses - accompanied by constant swearing and anti-Scottish sentiment - were just a joke.

What else happened? Oh yeah, the Formula One hasn't been too bad. Fernando Alonso, being Dick Dastardly himself, managed to take a huge lead in the World Championship almost without anyone noticing, until Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel said "hang on a minute,what the hell?" Victories in Hungary and Italy helped Lewis close the gap on the Spaniard, before a gearbox more brittle than Michael Owen's hamstrings gave way in Singapore, allowing Vettel to take advantage.

Hamilton has since moved to Mercedes, a transfer shocking for one simple reason: it proved Eddie Jordan right. Have I really been gone so long that Eddie Jordan is now some kind of bright shirt-wearing, goatee-sporting, future-predicting genius? Or did he just get the two teams mixed up, like the time he called Paul McCartney "George"? I'm sure I will address this issue in my upcoming blog about the Japanese Grand Prix, where I will make grovelling apologies to my Formula One readers, who are a dedicated bunch and strange for the simple fact that they find me funny. The move doesn't make much sense to me, but then Lewis earns slightly more than me, so he can do what he wants.

The football has started again, but nothing has really happened there, except that Mark Hughes is still rubbish, Manchester United's midfield is still awful and we still don't know if John Terry is a racist. More football blogs will of course follow, but this summer's epicness, combined with Rio Ferdinand's ineptitude, has left me with a sense of apathy towards what is still my favourite sport.

Finally, I have even started to like golf. Last Sunday's Ryder Cup win for Europe was so dramatic and emotional, I ended up bouncing around, on my bed, in my boxers at eleven o'clock at night, something which probably caused local dog-walkers to wonder who I was enjoying my Sunday night with. Europe's comeback was so good, I will now refer to Lazarus' little story as a comeback of 'Lazabal* proportions.

* - sorry.

A shit pun in relation to a momentous comeback. It's always nice when blog posts come around full circle. I apologise for being away so long, but I'm sure you found the strength to live without my irrelevant musings about sport, the one thing that distracts from just how shit life can really be.

I look forward to annoying you all again this weekend. Toodles.