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Ignore Me, I Went Camera Mad, Despite What I Wrote!

Canon EOS 5D4 & EOS 6D2

Just a couple of weeks back, I wrote that I won’t be investing in a full frame camera in the immediate future. You can probably guess what happened by the title of this article, yup, that’s right, I spent big on full frame gear, $8,500 worth, including the 5D4 and the 6D2, three lenses, lighting and backdrops.

First, while in Best Buy, I impulse bought the Canon EOS 5D mkIV, 16-35mm f/4L, 24-105mm F/4L and 85mm F/1.8 USM prime lenses. the 5D4 came with a BG-E20 battery grip, which after testing it, I decided that it is something I won’t use, it makes the whole camera too bulky and heavy in my opinion, I’d rather carry a spare battery, and pop it in when the first one runs out, the 5D4 is already a chunky camera.

A few days later, I took the 5D4 and 16-35mm out to a real estate shoot, quickly realizing that it was not the best camera for real estate. Nothing to do with image quality, the quality of the photos were amazing, however, it’s not the most practical for getting into the corner of rooms to maximize the ultra-wide angle of the lens, I am unable to see the display or look into the viewfinder, so that’s a huge issue for me.

This is how I ended up buying the Canon EOS 6D mkII, which does have the articulating screen that I have grown to love in the Rebel T3i and EOS 80D. As I had spent $1,000 on the EF 16-35mm F/4L, I wanted to make use of it, and although it will work on my 80D, it won’t really be ultra wide angle anymore with the 1.6 crop factor. It’ll be more like 25mm, which is not anywhere near wide enough for real estate.

I used the 6D2 yesterday for a real estate shoot, and I like it’s smaller form factor, the articulating screen and the ability to shoot at ISO 800 with virtually no digital noise in the photo. ISO 800 on the 80D produced far too much noise for my liking, which means I had to shoot at ISO 400 maximum with a much slower shutter speed, which in all honesty is not a problem as I shoot HDR on a tripod with a 2-sec delay.

In addition to the cameras and lenses, we also invested in lighting and backdrops for portrait shoots. We bought two Neewer 660 bi-color LED panels, Neewer green screen backdrop kit, plus additional blue, black and white muslin backdrops and a further Neewer 700w softbox set for a softer lighting effect.

Most of these purchases are for my wife’s attempt at launching a photography career, I only need the EOS 6D mkII and EF 16-35mm F/4L for real estate. The plan is to do some free shoots for friends and family to build up a portfolio for her website when I get around to creating it. Right now, there is nothing to put on the website as she has only done two shoots and one of those I wouldn’t use for a portfolio website.

I am being supportive of my wife’s efforts, she has a lot to learn, but I’m confident she will get there quickly with practice. My wife isn’t very confident of her abilities, she had done a photography course back in the film days, and she was under the impression that those skills didn’t apply in digital photography. I explained that the exposure triangle has not changed since the dawn of photography. Although, I believe she has not retained that information from 20 years ago, so it’s like starting over.

If we can make our money back in 2018, I would call that a successful year, although it’s not essential to make the money back, it’s extra cash we had available, so it’s not do or die, but it would be nice to see maybe, a small profit at the end of 2018. Final note, who would have thought that my wife would be the one using the better camera? but, the better camera for real estate, is the 6D2, so it makes perfect sense.


Wrecked!

Saturn Vue Accident Damage, Dec 11, 2017

Yesterday evening, while my wife was driving her father home from the doctors office, she was involved in a car wreck, no-one was hurt and damage was relatively light, however, it will cost us as the damage is likely to be more costly to repair than the value of the car, which in insurance terms is a financial write-off.

The cause of the wreck was one driver following too closely to another car and when the car in front braked abruptly, the following driver veered into my wife’s lane, trying to avoid rear-ending the first car. That avoidance action resulted in this driver sideswiping my wife’s car causing the damage shown above.

To add insult to injury, the driver that caused the chain reaction left the accident scene, luckily I had my wife take photos of the other vehicles license plates to show the police. The moment you expect people to do the right thing is the moment you find yourself royally screwed, bottom line, TRUST NO-ONE.

Wichita police took 3 hours and 40 minutes to arrive on scene, leaving my wife, father-in-law, other driver and her family standing on the side of the road until nearly 10pm, the initial 911 call was made at 6:15pm. I tweeted my displeasure at Wichita Police and their response was, “Minor accidents can also be reported online or through the WPD app.”, so why didn’t the 911 dispatcher impart that information instead of having people wait on the side of the road in a dodgy area on a cold December evening?

Now, we play the insurance game, call the other drivers insurance company, then take the car to the shop of their choosing for evaluation, then we wait for them to check it over and report back to the insurance company, at which point they will decide whether it’s more profitable for them to fix it or just pay out the current value of the car, which isn’t much at this point, Kelly Blue Book suggests about $2,000.

Assuming it’s written off and the pay out is $2,000, we’ll still need to add another $4 – $6,000 to that amount to buy a car with similar reliability and performance. We were considering buying another car anyway as the Saturn is increasingly suffering from bodywork and electrical issues that are costly to repair, not related to mechanical performance, it’s a cheaply made car and 176,000 miles has taken it’s toll.


To Full Frame Or Not Full Frame?

Canon EOS 6D mk II (Full Frame)

So, wifey has decided she now wants to be a professional photographer, she had her first paid gig, worth a whopping $50 a few weeks back and it went fine, a few teething problems, but the photos were delivered successfully. My wife wants to do people photography, portraits, events, that sort of thing. I want to stick to real estate, I’m a grumpy bastard, I don’t like people enough to do portraits and groups.

Right now, for my work, I use a Canon EOS 80D with an EF-S 10-22mm USM lens, which gives me great results, however, that lens is way too wide for portraits and the other options I have are kit lenses, the 18-55mm and 55-250mm, non-STM lenses, which are not the best quality lenses, definitely not falling in the professional category, by any stretch of the imagination, so I have been weighing up our options.

One option is to jump in with both feet, shelling out $4,000 on a Canon EOS 6D MkII with EF 24-105mm F/4 L, EF 85mm F/1.8 USM and 16-35mm F/4 L lenses. The second option is to buy some L glass, namely the 24-105mm, and EF 85mm USM for my crop sensor EOS 80D. This brings the cost down to $1,100 and because these are full frame lenses, a full frame upgrade in the future would be easier on the wallet.

I’m very dubious about spending $4,000 on camera gear, we have just spent $998 signing up for a local chapter of BNI, which is a referral marketing system, whether that is a good investment, I have no idea. But I am reluctant to invest another large sum of money on something that may generate zero business, we have spent over $4,000 trying to launch my wife’s real estate career, which has yielded zero ROI.

If I am thinking purely as a photography enthusiast, I would go ahead and buy all the kit we need, which is really what wifey’s needs, as I am happy with my current 80D/10-22mm USM setup. As my wife is only working part-time right now, there is not an inexhaustible supply of money, I have just cleared close to $70,000 of debt using my inheritance from my late father’s estate, I refuse to lean on credit cards again.

I guess I could just skip getting the 16-35mm F/4L lens, which would save $1,000 and I could continue using the 80D/10-22mm combo for my real estate work. No, I think I will just get the two EF lenses and use them on my 80D, that is the most sensible path, at least until we start seeing a constant stream of work coming in. As a business venture, it’s already $998 in the hole, let’s not 5x times that amount!

I want to support my wife in this venture, but I also have to be sensible, I cannot sacrifice our family financial stability, throwing good money after bad, our living costs will be rising considerably in 2018.


The Battle For #NetNeutrality AGAIN!

If you're not freaking-out about net neutrality right now, you're not paying attention

In February, 2015 when the FCC made Internet Service Providers title II common carriers, I said that the battle may have been won, but the war is far from over. And as soon as Donald J Trump was elected president, and he nominated Ajit Pai as FCC chairman, the writing was on the wall for net neutrality.

The question has to be asked, how can Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, who has lobbied for the repeal of net neutrality ever since it was enacted be allowed to become FCC chairman? I would think that would be a massive conflict of interest, but this is Trump’s America, where rules and laws don’t seem to apply.

The FCC is due to vote on the repeal of net neutrality on December 14, 2017; and we know how that vote is going to go. It would take a congressional vote to overrule the outcome of the FCC vote, which I doubt will happen as the majority of congresspeople have received large ‘contributions’ from cable companies.

24 million comments were left on the FCC website, this includes 7 million ‘fake’ comments from bots, the majority of which are identical and use stolen identities. I suspect that, however, I cannot prove, the major cable companies instigated these fake comments for the repeal of net neutrality and title II.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, has disregarded the 17 million legitimate comments in favor of the net neutrality rules, not to mention ignoring the 50,000 net neutrality complaints filed with the FCC. What a surprise eh? a former Verizon lawyer pushing ahead with his agenda regardless of what every day American’s want.

Why should you care about net neutrality? well, without net neutrality, ISP’s could slow or block websites and online services that they don’t agree with; or even block competitors. Traffic prioritization is another possibility, big websites that pay the ISP’s could be put in a ‘fast lane’, which, in reality, would mean, that website gets the current speed, while smaller websites would be slowed to the point of being unusable.

We could even end up with a tiered Internet service, where you would have to pay extra to access, say streaming media services outside of your cable companies streaming service, or pay extra for social media access. Not to mention the possibility of ISP’s selling your private usage data and blocking VPN’s.

Before title II net neutrality regulation, Comcast deliberately slowed Netflix, forcing the media streaming service to pay up to give their customers using Comcast as their ISP access to streaming HD content.

Bottom line, without title II, ISP’s will be able to run roughshod over customers as competition is non-existent. The cable companies have carefully carved up the country, so they don’t compete with each other. Many cities have done exclusive, long-term deals with ISP’s to stop competitors from coming in.

Don’t believe Pai’s claims that deregulation will create an open market. How is this possible when exclusive deals have been done in cities and municipalities, blocking new players from entering the market. If we had a true open market, where ISP’s compete with each other, we wouldn’t have to worry as the competition would keep ISP’s honest, as customers could up and leave for better service.

You can call your congressperson through battleforthenet.com, leave a message urging your congressperson to support an overturn of the repeal of the Obama era net neutrality regulation.

Addendum: Not directly related to net neutrality, however, it’s another example of how telcos have screwed us over. It was promised in the 1996 Telecommunications Act that every home in America would have 45Mbit symmetrical fiber Internet for $20 by 2005. That was 12 years ago and the majority of homes have zero access to fiber. The kicker, every day Americans have already paid for this in their taxes, Telco’s were given a massive subsidy to make this happen and today, you cannot get $20 internet, let alone fiber.


Review: Sony RX100 V For Live Music Photography

Foo Fighters Live, Taken With Sony RX100 V

1,024 x 576 1:1 crop, photo cropped from 5,472 × 3,648

In the summer of 2017, I made a return to live music after eight years away and I wanted to document my live music gig experiences with photos and video. Previously, I had bought a Canon Powershot SX730 HS for this reason and felt massively disappointed by its low light performance. This disappointment led me to buy the Sony RX100 V, which costs a cool $1,000 for what is still a point and shoot camera. This is within $100 of what I paid for my Canon 80D DSLR, which I am barred from using at live shows.

The Sony RX100 V does succeed where the Canon SX730 HS failed, low light performance is much better with it’s 1.8 aperture when zoomed out to 24mm, which reduces to 2.8 when zoomed into 70mm. I simply set the aperture to 2.8 so I would not have to deal with the variable aperture as I zoom in and out.

Even when set at 2.8, the Sony is better than the Canon, which, even at it’s widest has an aperture of 3.3, which drops to 6.9 when zoomed into the maximum extent, that’s a light loss of over two stops. This is a definite win for Sony, but to be fair to Canon, there is a $600 price difference between the cameras.

Not that this matters in live music photography, the Canon does win on shutter speed, ranging from 15 seconds to 1/3200 of a second, while the Sony has a 30 second to 1/2000 of a second range. I feel that having a higher shutter speed is more useful for most than a super slow shutter speed, which is why I give this one to Canon, but in this use case, it really is irrelevant as I’ll be shooting at 1/15 to 1/125.

At the recent Foo Fighters gig I attended at Intrust Bank Arena, I found a setting of 1/100th of a second, 2.8 aperture and 800 ISO worked well. Not having to push the ISO to the maximum of 3200 like on the Canon SX730 HS, means cleaner shots, much less noise, still nowhere near DSLR territory at the same ISO, but it is a much smaller 1.0-inch sensor, compared to the APS-C size sensor in my Canon 80D.

Where the Canon most definitely wins is zoom range, from 24mm to 960mm, whereas the Sony is limited to 2.9x zoom from 24mm to 70mm. In a venue like Intrust Bank Arena, that can become a problem if you want anything more than a wide shot. The 40x zoom on the Canon SX730 HS allows you to get up close and personal with the band, if you have a steady hand, as hand movement is also exaggerated 40x.

Focus is a major issue with the Canon SX730 HS, in constantly shifting lighting conditions, the Canon missed focus repeatedly, sometimes it would take half dozen attempts to lock onto the subject. The Sony RX100 V is much better, I hit focus nine times out of 10, even with changing lighting. While shooting continuously, it would hit focus shot after shot despite the constant movement of subjects and lighting.

The Sony allows for me to shoot in RAW format, giving me much more control in post-production in Adobe Lightroom, something that is lacking in the SX730 HS, which only shoots in JPEG.

The Sony also has a popup OLED viewfinder, which is a nice feature allowing for a more traditional shooting experience. However, if you are an eyeglass wearer, in my experience, it has some issues. When you pop up the viewfinder, you have to pull out the focusing lens to focus on the OLED screen, I found that while attempting to get close enough to see full viewfinder coverage, my glasses would push it back in, and suddenly, all you can see is a blurry mess, it would be nice if that could be locked into place.

I am unsure whether I would recommend this camera for live music due to it’s limited focal range, but if you are in a smaller venue where you can roam and get closer to the stage, I’m sure it will work very well based on my experiences so far. I will find out just how good the Sony RX100 V is when I go to see Papa Roach at The Cotillion on December 3, 2017, where I will have the freedom to roam around the venue.


Review: Logitech Z333 Speaker System With Subwoofer

Logitech Z333 Speaker System w/ Subwoofer

For many years I have been using an old Yamaha 5.1 AV receiver with mismatched Philips active sub and Onkyo satellite speakers for my computer sound. This setup works well, however, I was looking to downsize as the amplifier, sub and satellite combo took up a lot of space in my office, so I went for the compact 80w peak (40w continuous) power, Logitech Z333 speaker system w/ subwoofer at $60.

I really don’t have the need for a big loud sound system in my 10ft x 8ft office, 40w continuous power is more than adequate, especially as I am sat less than 3 feet from the speakers, which sit just behind my monitor. The subwoofer is very compact, fitting between the two satellite speakers on my desk behind my 34in Ultrawide monitor, which creates a nice balanced coherent sound stage while I am sat at my desk.

The subwoofer measures 9.05 in x 9.13 in x 6.20 in (H x W x D) while the satellites measure 7.55 in x 4.25 in x 3.54 in (H x W x D). The subwoofer has a continuous power rating of 24w while each satellite speaker is rated at 8w, double those numbers for peak power. The subwoofer features two RCA speaker outs to connect the satellites, two L/R RCA inputs and a knob for bass volume, plus a corded volume control pod with headphone out and on/off switch, plus a fixed 3.5mm cable to connect to your PC soundcard.

My preferred connection method is the RCA input, taking the output from my Mayflower Electronics O2 ODAC headphone amp, as good as the Supreme FX audio chip on my Asus Crosshair IV Hero is, it’s no external ODAC. I have set the Windows volume for the O2 to 67%, set the volume on the ODAC to roughly two-thirds volume and I’m using the Logitech volume pod to control the speaker volume.

Getting to the all-important sound quality, I would rate it at very good for a $60 speaker system. However, if you’re looking for floor-shaking bass, I would look at one of Logitech’s larger speaker systems. If you are looking for punchy, tight bass with a balanced sound across the frequency range, these speakers could be for you. To my ear, the 55hz to 20khz range is accurate, I don’t hear any discernable gaps in the range.

In conclusion, for such a small package, it creates a large, balanced sound, which works for most, if not all genres of music. It will never shake the room with bass, no matter how loud you push the volume; it will get very loud from my seating position. In my setup, about halfway on the volume pod with the bass maxed out on the back of the subwoofer, is the maximum comfortable listening level, it starts to sound a little strained after about two-thirds volume, which I would expect from a sub $100 speaker system.

UPDATE [Mar, 2 2018, 13:47]: While listening to music at roughly 4/10 volume, the subwoofer suddenly started popping. It had never done this before today, even when driven harder than 4/10. The only way to fix it is to reduce the subwoofer to 1/2 volume, which no longer meets my sound requirements. I like to have some rumble and thud in my music, at 1/2 sub volume, it misses the mark by some way, maybe I’m unlucky, but you have question QC on these speakers to fail after just five months.


Review: Corsair Carbide Series® Air 740 High Airflow ATX Cube Case

Corsair Carbide Series® Air 740 High Airflow ATX Cube Case

When I built my Ryzen 7 system, I went with the NZXT H440 case as I wanted a quiet build, but I regretted it when I attempted to overclock, so I replaced that case with the Corsair Air 740 a few days ago and, overclocking is still a no-go despite an H110i AIO. Don’t get me wrong, the temperatures have dropped by 9°C due to the cleaner air flow, but at 4Ghz and 3.9Ghz, the system eventually crashes to BIOS.

I suspect there may be an issue with the Crosshair IV Hero BIOS, when it crashed, the last temperature I saw was 68°C, which is 7°C lower than TJmax (Tdie). So I am thoroughly confused why the PC is crashing, I gave it as many volts as I dare, 1.4v, which is the general consensus on the maximum safe voltage.

Anyway, back to the case, the Corsair Air 740 is a dream to build in, plenty of space to work in. I would say that building in the Air 740 was the easiest build I have done, and I have built many computers over the years. Moving the storage drives, and power supply to behind the motherboard gives much more room to maneuver. I had none of the usual issues connecting the fiddly fan, front panel, and audio connectors.

The first thing I did was take the panels off to remove the included 140mm fans, not that there’s anything wrong with these fans, I wanted to install my white LED maglev fans, also from Corsair. Then came the task of transplanting all the components from the H440 to the Air 740, which went exceptionally well, I had more issues getting the components out of the H440 than I did getting them in the Air 740.

The Air 740 has nine grommeted passthroughs to the rear compartment, where you will find a PSU mount, four 2.5 inch and three 3.5 inch drive mounts and an astronomical amount of cable routing space. The front has mounts for 3 x 120mm or 2 x 140mm fans, the top has mounts for 2 x 120mm or 140mm fans, the rear accepts a 120mm or 140mm fan, plus two more 120mm or 140mm fans at the bottom.

In theory, for the water cooling enthusiasts, you could fit a 280mm radiator in the bottom, a 360mm radiator in the front and another 280mm radiator at the top. As I am not into open loop water cooling, I used the top 280mm mount for my H110i which mounted with ease, no clearance issues, plenty of room for cabling and access to all those motherboard headers along the top of the motherboard.

On the front fascia, there is a power button, two USB3.0 ports, headphone/mic inputs, a reset button and a button to control Corsair’s line of RGB HD case fans, an option that I did not need, I want an understated white and red build, I don’t need a rainbow explosion in the case. I love the windowed side panel door, which swings open for easy access and can be fully removed by lifting up off the hinges.

On the subject of the front panel, the USB3.0, headphone and microphone jacks are at an angle which makes it kinda difficult to plug in headphones and USB peripherals. In addition, the reset button is right next to the USB ports, which means, in theory, not that this has happened to me, you could accidentally hit the reset switch while attempting to plug in a USB peripheral, which is obviously not desirable.

The Corsair Air 740 is the case I should have bought in the first place, it was the one I initially looked at and liked, but ended up going with the H440 instead. I’m not saying that the H440 is a bad case, it is not, I do like it, but there are some space issues with 280mm radiators and the airflow is not the best given its solid front and top panels. Ironically, due to the fans running at lower RPM’s in the Air 740, the silence optimized H440 case was no quieter than the Corsair Air 740 cube case, at least not to my ear.

The downsides, this thing is freaking huge, it measures 13.4″ x 20″ x 16.8″ (W x H x D), it will take up a lot of space, but this is the price you pay for clean airflow from front to back. That’s about all I can think of when it comes to negatives, this is an exceptionally well made case, very solidly built and well designed and I just love the aggressive looks from every angle. I give the Corsair Air 740 a definite two thumbs up!

Update [Nov, 16 2017, 14:10]: I have discovered an annoyance after writing this review. When my Corsair ML120/140 PRO fans reach the 1150 to 1350rpm range, there is a highly annoying resonance through the case, which was not present when the ML PRO fans were installed in the NZXT H440.


Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix 2017

Brazilian Grand Prix 2017

Sebastian Vettel returned to form with his fifth victory in 2017, his first since the mid-season break and Ferrari’s first win at Interlagos since 2008 when hometown hero Felipe Massa, who raced in his final Brazilian Grand Prix this weekend, came within one point of claiming the world drivers title that season.

The podium was set after turn 3 on lap 1 when Vettel overhauled polesitter Valtteri Bottas, beating the Finn to the left-hander at turn 1, from then on, Vettel was able to pull out and maintain a gap to Bottas and likewise, Kimi Raikkonen was unable to make any inroads into the gap between himself and Bottas.

A number of first lap incidents brought out the safety car. McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne found himself in an F1 sandwich between Kevin Magnussen and Daniel Ricciardo, ending his race and pitching Ricciardo off on the grass and to the back of the grid. Force India’s Esteban Ocon had a rare retirement as he and Romain Grosjean had a coming together at turn 6, for which, Grosjean received a 10-second penalty.

This will be a much shorter than usual review as not too much happened in my opinion. The main upsides for me were Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo’s recovery drive to fourth and sixth places respectively. Hamilton started from the pitlane due to a mistake in qualifying meant he failed to set a time in Q1, Mercedes took full advantage and changed his power unit as it was effectively penalty free.

Hamilton managed to get up as high as fourth place but stalled when he reached Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, the Ferrari had a little too much pace for Hamilton, Raikkonen holding off the Briton for the final five laps to maintain the podium position which he held since the start of the race. Ricciardo, did well after his first lap incident to finish in sixth, 16 seconds behind Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen.

With this victory, Vettel all but cements his position as “best of the rest” driver, only a win for Bottas and a DNF for Vettel at the season finale in Abu Dhabi can change the top 3 positions. Frankly, I don’t think that Bottas is the driver he was believed to be, I believe that if Hamilton had started in the same position as Bottas this weekend, Vettel would have had a much tougher time claiming victory at the Brazilian GP.

Overall, I thought this was a dull race as Brazilian Grand Prix’ go, maybe we needed a sprinkling of rain (or indeed, Bernie’s trackside sprinklers) to liven things up. And I doubt that Abu Dhabi will be any better as a spectacle, I find it disappointing that the FIA decided to use the shiny lights of Abu Dhabi as a season finale, I always thought that Brazil is a much more fitting venue for the season finale, but what do I know?

Brazilian Grand Prix 2017 Results

1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:31:26.260
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0:02.762s
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +0:04.600s
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0:05.468s
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0:32.940s
6. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +0:48.691s
7. Felipe Massa (William) +1:08.882s
8. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) +1:09.363s
9. Sergio Perez (Force India) +1:09.500s
10. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +1 LAP

Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix 2017

Max Verstappen Wins Mexican GP 2017

Lewis Hamilton claimed his fourth world drivers title at the Mexican Grand Prix taking the chequered flag in ninth place, after suffering a first lap puncture courtesy of title rival Sebastian Vettel. No doubt the Hamilton conspiracy theorists would have been whipped into the frenzy after, the man himself, suggested over the radio that Vettel made contact deliberately, a la Michael Schumacher in ’94 and ’97.

The start of the race is where the title race was decided, the 1/2 mile drag down to turn 1 saw, Vettel, Hamilton and young whippersnapper Max Verstappen three abreast going into turn 1 with Verstappen coming out on top as the trio rounded turn 2. Vettel drifted wide allowing Hamilton into second place, however, Vettel kept his foot in, making contact with Verstappen’s right rear tire entering turn 2 before making contact with Hamilton’s right rear tire, breaking his front wing and puncturing Hamilton’s tire.

This left Hamilton to limp back to the pits, trying not to damage his car further, while Vettel stopped for a new front wing, the net result was Hamilton dropping to the back with Vettel two places ahead in 18th. Vettel immediately started to make his way through the pack and by lap 26, Vettel was in the points, it took Hamilton until lap 57 to break into the top 10, at which point Vettel was about to claim fourth place.

Esteban Ocon, who had received death threats from, what I presume to be Mexicans pissed off that he was taking the battle to their hometown hero, Sergio Perez, was unlucky with a virtual safety car period on lap 32 after he had already pitted, gifting Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen a free pit stop, allowing him to leapfrog the Frenchman into the final podium spot, before the VSC, Ocon was looking good for the podium.

My personal favorite [current] driver, Daniel Ricciardo, who had already been demoted from 7th to 16th on the grid for changing his power unit after qualifying, suffered a turbo failure after charging from 16th to 7th by lap four. I’m gutted by this as it would have been great to see Ricciardo charge through the field, with the pace he had, he could have made it a 1 – 2 for Red Bull, but it wasn’t to be for the Aussie.

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas had a better race, benefiting from the second corner madness, moving into second place as his team mate, Hamilton fell to the back. But, despite having the best power unit on the grid, he had no answer for Verstappen, the young Dutchman consistently pulled away from the Finn.

With Renault power units failing left, right and center, Red Bull had to be nervous about Verstappen’s power unit as team mate Ricciardo had earlier suffered a turbo failure. But the engine, the most recent spec, stayed strong to the end, with Verstappen setting fastest laps much to the chagrin of his race engineer who had instructed him to slow down and match the pace of second placed driver, Bottas.

Special mentions for Williams’ Lance Stroll and HAAS’ Kevin Magnussen finishing the race in sixth and eighth places, thanks to the VSC earlier in the race, the free pit stops launched both drivers up the grid, but as ‘they’ (who are they, exactly?) say, it’s better to be lucky than good, which in this case is true.

McLaren scored another point in Mexico in the hands of Fernando Alonso. But, McLaren have to be concerned with the reliability of the Renault power unit, four out of six power units didn’t make it to the end. McLaren ditched the slow and unreliable Honda power unit in favor of the Renault power unit in 2018, was that a smart decision? The Renault is a faster power unit, but if it goes bang, it means nothing.

So, all the top prizes have been claimed, Mercedes are constructors champions, Lewis Hamilton is world drivers champion, all that is left to fight for is, the best of the rest crown in the final two races. To say that the season fizzled out to a damp squib after the mid season break is an understatement, I was hoping for a true battle to the end, but Vettel and his Ferrari team repeatedly shot themselves in the foot.

Mexican Grand Prix 2017 Results

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:36:26.552
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +19.678s
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +54.007s
4. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +70.078s
5. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +1 LAP
6. Lance Stroll (Williams) +1 LAP
7. Sergio Perez (Force India) +1 LAP
8. Kevin Magnussen (HAAS) +1 LAP
9. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1 LAP
10. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) +1 LAP

Formula 1 United States Grand Prix 2017

Max Verstappen Relieved Of Podium Finish At USA Grand Prix 2017

Lewis Hamilton took another step towards claiming his fourth world drivers championship by winning the US Grand Prix at the Circuit Of The Americas. Sebastian Vettel delayed the inevitable by finishing in second place, thanks to team mate Kimi Raikkonen moving aside for the German in the closing laps.

Despite Hamilton coming within a handful of points of claiming the 2017 drivers title, the big story of the race is Max Verstappen’s 5 second penalty which demoted him to fourth place, the Dutchman was booted out of the top 3 cool down room prior to the podium ceremony with Kimi Raikkonen taking his place.

But more on that later, the start of the race gave us some hope that we might have a race on our hands as Vettel got the better start leading Hamilton into turn 1, despite Hamilton’s best efforts to squeeze the German in the run towards turn 1. But, that hope was snuffed out on lap 6 going into turn 12, Hamilton easily sliding down the inside of Vettel’s Ferrari and that was the end of that as Hamilton pulled away.

Red Bull’s Verstappen was carving his way through the field after serving his grid penalties, up into the points after just three laps and after the first round of pit stops on lap 26, found himself in fifth place after leading the race for a few laps prior to being passed by Hamilton, which triggered the Dutchman’s stop.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas started third, was running in second, but ultimately fell backwards to fifth place by the chequered flag being overtaken by Vettel, Raikkonen and Verstappen. As Verstappen made his attempted pass, Bottas went off the track, not for the first time, keeping his foot in to maintain his position, but Verstappen cut back inside to make the pass through turns 13 and 14.

Big props to Carlos Sainz Jnr for his performance, in what, for him is a brand new Renault car and team. Seventh place, splitting the Force India’s has to be considered a win for Renault and Sainz Jnr. Sadly, for Renault, Nico Hulkenberg could not match the newbies sucess, retiring his car on lap 5, but I am looking forward to the battles between Sainz Jnr and Hulkenberg for the remainder of 2017 and 2018.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo who started in fourth place, out qualifying teammate Verstappen, despite the Dutchman having an upgraded Renault power unit installed in the back of his car, retired from the race on lap 14 with an engine failure. McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was left to rue the unreliable Honda power unit behind him as it let him down once again while running in a solid points paying position.

The top 10 was rounded out by the usual suspects, Force India’s Esteban Ocon, Sergio Perez, Williams’ Felipe Massa and, somewhat of a surprise, claiming a solitary point is Toro Rosso’s Danill Kyvat.

Going back to the controversy of Verstappen’s demotion from the podium, seconds before going to the podium. I believe we all agree that Verstappen cut the corner, the video evidence does not lie, however, personally, I am pissed off with the inconsistency of the application of the rule. Drivers have been cutting corners all weekend, and although no pass was made, there is a time advantage, no matter how small.

Valtteri Bottas, not once, but twice defended a position by going off track at turn 12, six or seven feet off track in fact, maintaining his speed on the tarmac run off and re-entering the track ahead of the attacking driver. First time was on lap 2 defending against Daniel Ricciardo and again on lap 53 in his attempt to hold off Verstappen, but the Dutchmen was wise to it and cut back inside to complete the overtake.

How can Bottas be allowed to keep that position without penalty, particularly against Ricciardo on lap 2, when he exceeded the track limits and gained an advantage? Of course, in the past, Bottas would have been on the grass or in the gravel, which was a penalty within itself, but sadly those days are long gone, now nearly every track has large tarmac run off areas that can be used to gain an advantage lap after lap.

As a sport, F1 needs to have equal application of the rules or abandon the rule completely. The whole penalty system needs an overhaul, the engine penalty system has robbed us time and time again of a great race because one or more of the top drivers have started from the back due to grid penalties because of engine and/or gearbox replacements. Stop the stupid penalties and let the drivers race.

United States Grand Prix 2017 Results

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:33:50.991
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +10.143s
3. Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) +15.779s
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +16.768s
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +34.967s
6. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +90.980s
7. Carlos Sainz (Renault) +92.944s
8. Sergio Perez (Force India) +1 LAP
9. Felipe Massa (Williams) +1 LAP
10. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) +1 LAP