Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix 2016

Verstappen, Raikkonen & Vettel collide at La Source, Belgian GP, 2016

After the four week break, F1 restarted in anger and I’m late writing my overview of the race, I guess that I am not as big a fan as I used to be. Anyway, I digress, Nico Rosberg was handed an easy win after team mate Lewis Hamilton elected to take three new engines to ease his engine woes for the rest of the season; meaning he started from the back bar one, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso also took grid penalties.

But the real talk of the race was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who was involved in the first lap incident that caused the three way collision that changed the race completely and also further incidents with excessive movement blocking the Ferrari’s. Verstappen took a lot of heat from drivers and critics alike for his actions, personally I think the sport has suffered from the nanny mentality with penalties for everything.

Verstappen had wheelspin falling behind Kimi Raikkonen; but Verstappen wasn’t giving up on 2nd place diving down the inside of La Source, Raikkonen gave Vestappen room while Ferrari team mate Sebastian Vettel turned in on Raikkonen not knowing Vestappen was inside of him. The end result was contact, Vettel sent into a spin and dropping to the back and new front wings for Raikkonen and Verstappen.

Jenson Button’s race was ended prematurely by Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein who rear ended the Briton going through turns 5 and 6, this collision also ended Wehrlein’s race on lap 1. Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz’ race also ended prematurely due to a right rear tire failure which destroyed his wing and suspension.

There was further carnage on lap 6 when Kevin Magnussen lost control of his Renault cresting the top of Eau Rouge spinning backward into the barrier which initially brought out the safety car, triggering a lot of activity in the pitlane, many teams stopping for tires. Meanwhile Hamilton and Alonso stayed out which worked out brilliantly for the former team mates getting a free pit stop due to the race being red flagged.

After the red flag period, Alonso and Hamilton resumed in 4th and 5th place behind the safety car. The race restarted in anger on lap 10 and there was very little actual anger with no change of place happening during the 10th lap. Alonso could not hold off the Mercedes of Hamilton for long, the Briton making the pass for 4th place on lap 12, sadly the Honda power unit is still nowhere near the top power units.

During the next 31 laps, The Ferrari’s made good progress, although Verstappen made life difficult for Vettel and Raikkonen making what many consider to be illegal moves causing the chasing drivers to take avoiding action. Although the stewards saw it differently electing to not penalize the Red Bull driver. Personally I like this way of thinking, stewards need to stop punishing every second ‘incident’.

Force India’s Sergio Perez made a great late charge to move upto 5th place behind team mate Nico Hulkenberg in 4th place. Fernando Alonso eventually slipped back to 7th place losing out to Vettel on lap 35, the German finished in 6th place after falling to the back of the pack on lap 1. Williams instructed Massa and Bottas to switch positions to allow the faster Bottas to chase down Alonso, but to no avail.

Bottas got close, but remained in 8th place while team mate Massa was left vulnerable to attack from Raikkonen losing 9th place to the Finn on the penultimate lap leaving the Brazilian to settle for 10th place. Lewis Hamilton claimed the final spot on the podium, which given the 55 place grid penalty is miraculous. Daniel Ricciardo who had a non-eventful race after the red flag took the second step of the podium.

The talking point of Spa is Verstappen and his borderline maneuvers in defense; which I think were aggressive, but acceptable. I remember when drivers would weave back and forth trying to break the tow of the car behind, now we have the single defensive move rule which stifles racing in my opinion. Drivers are afraid to attack and defend aggressively for fear of penalties, F1 has become a pale shadow of itself.

The second issue for me was the way that rules allowed for Mercedes to replace three perfectly good engines to gain an advantage knowing that grid penalties are not carried over into subsequent races. This is a loophole that immediately needs to be closed; if the FIA intend to keep this loophole in place, let’s just abandon the engine limits and let them use whatever engines they want during the season.

F1 seems to be going down a very bad path, they are doing themselves no favors in their decision making process. We had the stupid qualifying that ended up getting abandoned; then the communication restrictions were relaxed and all but abandoned and now we have this, Mercedes taking the piss out of the sport as a whole changing three engines over a race weekend for a single penalty with limited impact.

The High Cost Of Kansas Public School

Back To School... How Much?

My two kids, one first grader and one seventh grader have gone back to school today, just in time to save my sanity after a three month summer break due to KS schools shortening the school year by 3 weeks. Now it is time to go back to school, I am shocked by the cost to send your children to public school in KS.

Let’s start with the school fees; for my two children it came to $118.50; which is not an insignificant amount of money. Yes, we can afford to pay that amount; but this is just one phase of the costs of attending school in Wichita, Kansas. We are fortunate to be able to cover these fees, but many others in our neighborhood don’t have any money to spare, let alone $118.50 to give to the public school system.

Next up is the school supplies for your children; which is not for your children at all as it seems to become “community property” once it goes to school. We have never had our children’s school supplies come back home at the end of the year. The cost for just the essential supplies for my two children was over $180 plus $40 – $50 in “additional” supplies. Back home in the UK, we were required to attend, that’s all.

Finally, we come to the school uniforms, which thankfully is only required for my 12 year old. We needed pants (trousers for my British readers), polo shirts and gym clothes, which came close to $250 for five pairs of pants, five shirts and five sets of gym clothes. Yes, we could have bought less and laundered more frequently, but we have busy lives and didn’t want to run the risk of running out of clean uniforms.

For the 2016/17 school year, it has cost over $600 to send our kids to school, which I consider to be excessive to send two children to public school. But, let me be clear, I am not blaming the schools themselves, I put the blame squarely on the state of Kansas, more specifically Gov. Sam Brownback, who thankfully can not serve another term after years of tax cuts for the rich while defunding public programs.

Earlier this year, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the block funding of schools as implemented by Gov. Brownback was unconstitutional and that it unfairly penalized schools in poorer neighborhoods as these schools often have more students compared to more affluent neighborhoods. Normally schools are funded on a per student basis, which ensures that schools get the funding they desperately need.

But like many Republican run states where trickle down economics is prevalent, tax cuts for the rich are put ahead of the local community and parents are bearing much more of the cost of schooling. Trickle down economics have and never will work, tax breaks for the rich results in more money in offshore accounts for the rich, those tax breaks are rarely used to create jobs or investment in the community.

Focus, LLC; Unsolicited High Pressure Sales, Likely Scammers!

Scam Alert

Today, my wife who is a realtor got an unsolicited phone call from Focus, LLC trying to sell a sponsored ad listing in Google. They’re rep was really putting the hard sell on, not letting my wife talk at all, then proceeded to force a sale asking how she would like her ad to appear. At no point was my wife asked if she was interested in the service, which I believe is a scam, I can’t find any evidence this company exists.

When I searched Google for “Focus, LLC”, I found their Facebook page, which lists the same website as they gave us to try to sell their product with one like and next to no content. Given that they claim to be a Facebook marketing partner, why don’t they have an amazing Facebook page? Also they claim to be a Google partner, but they don’t feature on the first two pages of Google under their own company name.

Additionally, when looking up the whois information for their domain name, it came back as registered by Registration Private (Domains By Proxy, LLC), which was really designed for individuals, not companies, every legit company has all their company information listed on their domain names whois.

They asked us to search Google using the term “NW Portland Homes“, which did bring up a website that they claim to be one of their clients. Of course, a single example could be set up as a sales tactic. I work in Internet marketing myself, so I know how easy it is to set up a flashy website to sell a non-existent service.

The thing that raised alarm bells for me is the pushy nature of the sales spiel trying to push the sign up. Of course, once we asked to be sent information before even considering giving credit card details, the rep immediately went into “if you don’t sign up now, you’ll lose out as we have to sell this today”.

The Focus, LLC representative claimed that they only take on one client per location. This in itself does not make any sense as a business decision, limiting your potential market. And I would suggest this is a blatant lie as three other websites appear near the top in the sponsored ad section of Google Search.

I question the effectiveness of sponsored ad marketing, most people I know avoid paid ads instead opting to click the first organic link. I looked at the search rate for “NW Portland Homes” using Google’s Keyword Planner and it showed an average of 320 searches/mo with low competition for that keyword.

My wife mentioned to the rep that I was an Internet marketer and I had been listening in. Which is when I chimed in and said we will not be forced into purchasing any service because we might “miss out”. When it became clear that the rep was not going to get a sale; she took a swipe at me, saying something along the lines of “I hope he can get you better positioning as he won’t let you use our service”.

This is when my wife took it off speaker as my reaction would not have been good. If this is the sort of people who Focus, LLC have working for them, I’d advise you to run in the opposite direction as quick as you can. I will never do business with anyone that cold calls me; nor any company that tries to scare me into buying with time limited offers. That’s not how to do business in my personal and professional view.

Medical Quotes; Not Worth The Paper Their Written On…

Phillips Dreamstation CPAP Machine

About six months ago; my wife went to get assessed for a CPAP machine to help with her sleep apnea and we were quoted a price after insurance of around $200, that’s a price that we could live with. Fast forward about six weeks and we get the bill and the bill isn’t $200, it’s almost five times that amount, $973. I understand quotes are not set in stone, but you’d expect it to be close to the actual cost of service.

We have been in dispute about this for four months, my wife has called a few times, four months ago she left a message and didn’t get a call back. Two months ago, she talked to someone who said the bill was a mistake and the actual cost was $268 and that a new bill would be sent out. We received another bill and it said, yes, that’s right, $973 and it’s now PAST DUE, so today I call them and I finally get an explanation.

I don’t know who my wife talked to about this balance, so I could not name any names in my conversation with Via Christi Home Medical today. What I learned is that most of the balance is a deductible that we had not met on our Blue Cross, Blue Shield of KC insurance. Apparently, the agreement my wife signed stated that projected costs are estimated and is in no way a guarantees the final cost of service.

Obviously, if we knew the cost would be close to $1,000, we would never have agreed to purchase the CPAP machine. We do not have that sort of money laying around and the last few months have been tough financially due to circumstances beyond our control. Now I will have to add another $973 to the already significant balances on my credit cards; our cash-flow is definitely negative at this time.

The worst thing about this whole sorry situation is the hose that connects the CPAP machine to the face mask is damaged which makes it useless as air is leaking from the hose. A replacement would be paid out of pocket as my wife has a new job and doesn’t have primary insurance for a couple more months.

Bottom line; don’t take the word of your medical provider, call your insurance company yourself and check with them before agreeing to and/or signing anything; clearly these medical providers claim to check with insurance and give you an arbitrary figure, while leaving you up a creek without a paddle.

Suffice to say, we will definitely not be using Via Christi Home Medical’s services ever again. Their representative sort of apologized over the telephone saying “I’m sorry IF you felt you had been misled.” As someone who works in marketing / customer relations, I understand these phrases, a token apology without actually accepting any blame. But, those hollow words do not improve our current situation.

This is Via Christi; a company that claims it’s mission is to help the poor. A statement which we know is complete and utter BS from experience. If you can’t pay, they try to force you into high interest loans, then send your account to collections if you refuse. They call themselves a Christian organization; something I call BS on, a Christian organization should not benefit from those less fortunate than themselves.

PS: While looking for a feature image for this write-up; I found that the cost of the CPAP unit was only $449 which includes free two day shipping, now I feel even more aggrieved by this near $1,000 bill.

Formula 1 German Grand Prix 2016

Rosberg Forces Verstappen Wide At The German GP, 2016

We have reached the half way point of the season and despite Nico Rosberg claiming pole position at Hockenheim, he had a bad start that immediately demoted him to fourth place by turn 1. Lewis Hamilton extended his WDC lead over his Mercedes team mate to 19 points going into the mid season break.

The start saw Lewis Hamilton get a good start to lead into turn 1 followed by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen; although Verstappen got immense drive off turn one to clean drive around team mate Ricciardo. This, of course pushed Rosberg back to fourth place, down three places from the start.

In the Ferrari inter-team battle, Sebastian Vettel passed Kimi Raikkonen on the first lap and that’s how it stayed, the drivers finished fifth and sixth. Clearly Red Bull have out-developed the Maranello based team in the first 12 races, this is proven by Red Bull taking second place in the constructors championship.

The Red Bull race was decided by strategy; in the first round of pit stops, Ricciardo switched to soft tires while Verstappen went with another set of super-soft tires. Which ultimately put Ricciardo on the faster super-soft tyre for the third stint allowing him to reel in and pass team mate Verstappen for second place as Verstappen had to run the mandated soft tire, Verstappen commented “I took one for the team“.

We know that Rosberg finished fourth and yet again it was of his own making. He was looking good to finish second; but he pulled the same trick as he did on Hamilton in Austria, making a dive down the inside allowing his car to drift wide forcing Verstappen off track. For which the German was handed a five second time penalty; that turned into an 8 second penalty as Mercedes held him too long in his pit box.

A mixed day for McLaren, Jenson Button scored an eighth place finish overtaking the Williams of Valteri Bottas on the penultimate lap. Bottas was on old tires near the end of the race which cost the Finn two places, both Hulkenberg and Button passed the struggling Williams driver. McLaren team mate Fernando Alonso dropped out of the top 10 in the last few laps due to having to run his engine in fuel saving mode.

The final points paying position went to Force India’s Sergio Perez who benefited from Alonso’s lack of fuel issues in the closing laps. Although I did wonder whether Perez would get a time penalty for forcing Alonso off track at the hairpin; but the Mexican got away with it to keep his single point in Germany.

Has Rosberg bottled it? his actions over the past few races have been questionable; twice pushing other drivers off the road, in Austria and Germany, blowing the start in the last two races while Lewis Hamilton has now won four races on the bounce. I honestly think that it’s now Lewis’ title to lose, the momentum is with him going into the mid-season break. However, I’d love to see Rosberg prove me wrong!

Another question is will Maurizio Arrivabene still be in charge at Ferrari when hostilities resume next month? Technical director James Allison has already left, for what reason, we do not know. In recent years, when things are going badly, team personnel change, will this be the case over the summer break?

GOP Draft Platform: A Time Warp Back To 1956

Republican National Convention 2016

With the Republican party convention starting on Monday, July 18, the draft platform has been reported and it’s like the GOP exist in 1956; not 2016 and features a number of constitutional issues.

Of course, being the religious right conservative party in the US; Republicans want to reverse the Supreme Court’s decision to allow same sex couples to marry. It gets worse; they also want to allow parents to force their LGBT children into “conversion therapy“; to force the gayness out, like being gay is a choice. Finally, the Republicans want bible study to be part of public school education, albeit an elective class.

I don’t follow any religion and identify as agnostic so I believe all of the above to be outrageous. Religion has no place in schools; however, if individuals decide to pursue religious studies extracurricularly, that’s their choice. In my view, this is in breach of the first amendment; which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

If the Christian bible is to be taught under the guise of a historical document; then all other religious texts should be taught as well. This is why I say that teaching kids about the bible is unconstitutional. It’s not freedom of religion when only Christian beliefs are being pushed with the Quran is being ignored. The fact remains that not all Americans are Christian, so why should Christianity be forced upon our kids?

Being agnostic, I get bashed over the head with “America was founded as a Christian nation”. So I have researched it and although some of the founding fathers had Christian beliefs; the constitution was not based upon any religion. It wasn’t until the 19th century that Christianity started to exert it’s dominance. CNN has a rather interesting article on the question of “Was America founded as a Christian nation?“.

I don’t believe it’s wise for Republicans to push the anti-gay platform as the majority of Americans support same sex marriage. And propagating the idea that being gay is a choice and therapy can drive the gay out of people is ludicrous. By that reckoning, therapy can also drive being heterosexual out of people.

We continue with the anti-gay rhetoric; the platform says that a traditional male and female household is healthier for children and aims to stop same sex couples from adopting. This of course has zero basis in reality, a UCLA study suggests that being raised by same sex couples makes no difference whatsoever.

Now we come to the big one; PORNOGRAPHY is a “public health crisis”. I didn’t know this; but 25% of all web requests are to porn websites, some of which I am responsible for; I’m married, not dead :)

Not a single mention of gun reform and/or regulation; something that kills over 30,000 Americans every year. But porn, which as far as I know has caused nothing more than a slight wrist strain, is EVIL!

There are also plans to abolish the national park system and hand them back to the states where they are located, which is easier said than done as they span multiple states. Which reading between the lines means that these federal lands will be sold off for profit and to hell with the wildlife, plants and geology.

It seems like the Republicans want to go back to the 1950s with this sort of platform. But this is not the world we live in right now, the US is much more progressive than the GOP want to believe it would seem.

The issue is that there is a two party system in the US; the Republicans (the regressive party) and the Democrats (the no change party). When we need a truly progressive party, a party that represents Generation Y, otherwise know as Millennials. The under 40s are the people who will take the country into the future with progressive, inclusive ideas, which ironically is headed up by a 74 year old white man!

Finally, the GOP website says “Paychecks should not be wasted on poorly run government programs” under a list of what it means to be Republican. Then, by that reckoning, we should close down the house and senate as they have done NOTHING for the people in the past four years. I would describe both the senate and house as poorly run, let’s defund these useless idiots on both sides of the political divide.

Formula 1 British Grand Prix 2016

Lewis Hamilton Crowdsurfs After British GP Victory

Mercedes driver, Lewis Hamilton closed to within one point of team mate and championship leader, Nico Rosberg taking a dominant victory at Silverstone on a typical British afternoon. Max Verstappen took the chequered flag in third place after a valiant, but futile defense of second place against Rosberg; but those positions were switched post race due to Mercedes’ infringement of radio communication rules.

The race started behind the safety car; which is disappointing, F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsport; I don’t think so. Back in the day, it was rare to have a race start under safety car conditions. Now there seems to be an automatic safety car if there is more than a sprinkle of water on the track.

The race got started in anger on lap 6 when a third of the field immediately went into the pits for intermediate tires. Then on lap 7 the second third pitted for intermediate tires. Finally on lap 8 the leaders came in for intermediate tires under virtual safety car conditions due to Pascal Wehrlein beaching his Manor in the gravel trap. After the shakeup; Hamilton led Rosberg in 2nd and Verstappen in 3rd.

If you’re a person who likes cars spinning and sliding on and off the track, you’d give this race a “10”, but I would say that for a mixed weather conditions race it was actually reasonably dull. Even Fernando Alonso took a trip across the gravel and managed to recover back to the track. Only the two Manor drivers crashed out while four more drivers had miscellaneous technical failures during the course of the race.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo finished where he started the race; in fourth place, you’d have to say he was somewhat disadvantaged by pitting a lap earlier than Verstappen; not benefiting from the VSC like his team mate and the Mercedes duo. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen finished in fifth place; again where he started while team mate Sebastian Vettel could only manage 9th place after a race filled with incidents.

Force India’s Sergio Perez had a solid race; although you have to say he lucked into sixth place by virtue of pitting under the VSC like the three leaders. Nico Hulkenberg who didn’t pit under the VSC ended up behind Perez in seventh place despite starting three places ahead of his Force India team mate.

STR’s Carlos Sainz had a reasonable race finishing in eighth place; but was running in sixth place earlier in the race before spinning on lap 25 allowing Raikkonen and Hulkenberg to pass. The Spaniard never really recovered from losing those two positions. The final points scorer was Danill Kvyat, who has struggled with bad luck ever since his demotion from the senior Red Bull team after the Russian GP.

OK, time to address the elephant in the room; Mercedes actions in regards to breaking radio communications rules. I have already heard the conspiracy theorists talking about how Mercedes deliberately screwed Rosberg; but I feel it was just a terrible judgement call by his race engineer.

I do, however believe that Rosberg was fortunate to only receive a 10 second time penalty, it could have been a lot worse for the German, the FIA stewards have the option of excluding him from the race.

On the flip side of that, I still think this radio communication ban is stupid, F1 is supposedly a team sport, yet the driver has to be “unaided and alone”. I simply believe that a race driver traveling at speeds in excess of 200mph shouldn’t be fiddling with controls on the steering wheel, either make it simpler or relax the radio ban to allow teams to pass on information about car issues and how to fix those issues.

Two More Black Men Needlessly Killed By Police

Scene In Baton Rouge After Alton Sterling Killing

Over the last two days, there has been two seemingly needless killings of black men over 1,100 miles apart. Alton Sterling was shot between 4 and 6 times while being restrained on the ground by law enforcement in Baton Rouge, LA. Just one day later, Philando Castile was shot and killed in his car by an officer while reaching for his drivers license as requested by the officer in Falcon Heights, MN.

Now, I am not going to go on a tirade like many people online have; calling the police (as a generality) murderers, killers, racists etc, there are plenty of good officers that take their oath to “protect and serve” very seriously. But there seems to be an issue within law enforcement when it comes to race in the USA.

The Baton Rouge incident could possibly be justified; there was a 911 call saying that Sterling was waving a gun at people passing. We don’t know for sure what happened prior to the start of the damning videos. But, the multiple videos online seem to suggest that Sterling was relatively subdued, when the officer yells “GUN”, then fires off three shots, followed by a pause and another three shots were discharged.

Sterling is a known felon who allegedly owned a firearm, illegally but his rap sheet does not justify the actions of the officer. We cannot continue to justify these kind of slayings using the victims past record and reputation. These men and woman have already been charged and often served their debt to society.

The incident in Falcon Heights is inexcusable; Philando Castile was in a car with his girlfriend and child, fully complying with the officer’s instructions. Despite his compliance, Castile was shot repeatedly by the officer while reaching for his drivers license. Castile also informed the officer that he was armed with a permit. Of course, this is the account of Castile’s girlfriend, which we have no reason to disbelieve.

Now, I come to issues with race, clearly there are issues with racial profiling. There are stark differences in the handling of white people in similar situations to that of Sterling and Castile and the handling of black individuals. Is there such distrust of black men by law enforcement throughout the country that officers tend have their hand on their gun ready to draw, just in case? In many shootings of black men, there was little time between arriving on scene and drawing and/or discharging their weapon, often multiple times.

So where do we go from here; current police training tells officers to shoot first, ask questions later. We should be training officers to assess and deescalate the situation. To use better community policing in neighborhoods to head off issues before they get to the tipping point. The Police also need to stop the racial profiling and enforce equal justice for all, blacks are targeted massively disproportionately; this has been an issue for multiple decades; we just hear about it more in the instant social media age.

I honestly fear for my wife, who is African American and my mixed race kids; a routine traffic stop should never end with someone being shot and killed in their own car. With these cases coming to light due to social media video, I fear that African Americans will start carrying guns and using them on, more than likely good officers who don’t have their hand on their gun, while the bad apples go unchecked.

From a personal perspective, it broke my heart to see Alton Sterling’s 15 year old son distraught while his mother gave a statement to the press, if that does not tug on your heartstrings, there is something wrong with you. Between the mass shootings and police killings, I truly despair about the direction in which the USA is heading. I question whether the people in power want to change the direction or whether the lawmakers actively ignore the problem, it seems to me that the issue is getting worse, not better.

Update [Jul, 8 2016, 11:01]: Sadly, my prophecy about black men taking up arms and shooting white officers has come true in Dallas, TX. Five police officers have been killed by a black man, Micah Xavier Johnson, who was angry at the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in recent days. I hope that this will be a wake up call for everyone. Change needs to happen, better community policing, allay those fears on both sides, stop the senseless killings on both sides, remember the police’s motto is “protect and serve”, so many don’t feel that is the case, especially in the African American community.

Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix 2016

Hamilton & Rosberg Crash On Final Lap, Austrian GP 2016

Lewis Hamilton took victory at the Red Bull Ring in Austria despite team mate Nico Rosberg, who the Briton was overtaking on the outside going into turn 2 on the final lap clattering into him. Rosberg appeared to make very little effort to make the corner, keeping the wheel straight and then only put on 45-50% steering angle to avoid the collision, only after the collision does Rosberg turn the wheel to full lock. Secondarily, Rosberg, despite carrying damage didn’t give Hamilton room to rejoin the track.

Rosberg can protest his innocence all he likes; but the video evidence appears to suggest otherwise. Hamilton says that Rosberg was in his blind spot and expected the German to take a tighter angle into the corner as he turned in. Which is a fair assumption as Rosberg had at least two car widths between his car and the apex to his right. Anyway, it doesn’t matter what I think, the stewards decided it was Rosberg’s fault and gave him a token 10 second time penalty, which didn’t change the final result of the race.

Rosberg still finished in fourth place despite the time penalty as he had already been passed by Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen on track. I do feel the penalty was lenient, but given that he had effectively lost three places already because of the collision, I guess the stewards took this into account.

Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda both said that their drivers were marginal on brakes which could explain why Rosberg went so deep. Again Mercedes cited the radio ban as part of the cause as they could not tell their drivers about the brake issues. Although earlier in the race, Mercedes did tell Hamilton that Rosberg was on a softer compound than him, which I believe does also breach the radio communication rules.

Ferrari also had a mixed day; Sebastian Vettel suffered a huge right rear super-soft tire blowout on lap 27 while attempting a one stop strategy. Which did not help Rosberg’s cause as he was showered in rubber, damaging his Mercedes. TV commentators repeatedly pointed out the extreme tire wear, but the German continued to circulate. Vettel was quick to intimate, if not directly blame Pirelli for the tire failure.

Raikkonen brought his Ferrari home in third place, but was beaten by Verstappen to second place thanks to Rosberg’s collision with his team mate. Ferrari will be disappointed to finish behind the Red Bull in the race after being ahead in the early stages. Red Bull themselves only expected a low top 10 finish.

The second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo crossed the line in fifth place followed by Jenson Button, which is the Britons best finish of the season so far, decent performance from McLaren Honda to start third and finish sixth given then power unit disadvantage compared to the likes of Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault.

Romain Grosjean claimed seventh place for HAAS F1 followed by Carlos Sainz in eighth place after fighting back from near the back of the grid. Valteri Bottas finished in a lowly ninth place in the normally fast Williams around the Red Bull Ring and Pascal Wehrlein claimed a single point for perennial underdogs Manor F1, who are much improved now they have the Mercedes power unit in the back of their car.

Sadly, this is another race where the controversy overshadowed the race, the major talking point will be the Mercedes duo colliding for a second time in a little over a month. Then, there is Vettel’s intimation that Pirelli were to blame for his blowout. Pirelli have yet to find the cause of the failure just saying the failure was “an isolated incident”. And finally, the radio ban raises it’s ugly head again with Toto Wolff’s comments about how his race engineers could not pass on information about brakes being marginal.

Have AMD f**ked Up With The RX-480?

Radeon RX-480 Closeup

There has understandably been a lot of hype about the new AMD RX-480 with it’s GTX-970 like performance for just $200 for the 4GB version and $240 for the 8GB version. With me being a long time AMD fan; I really was looking forward to the company’s first new GPU in three years. But after the NDA expired on June, 29, 2016; many tech reviewers have found that AMD’s new card is drawing more power than 75 watts from the PCI-E slot, which puts the card out of spec with the PCI-E standard.

Many of you might think what’s the issue? and in many cases, you would be right. But older and budget motherboards might suffer reliability issues if too much power is being drawn from the PCI-E slot. The issue is the single six pin power, which can only provide 75w. This added to the 75w from the PCI-E slot provides a total of 150w. In select games at 4k, the RX-480 is pulling upto 155w from PCI-E slot alone.

The simplest solution would be to have installed a 8 pin power connector which could provide upto 150w instead of 75w. This would mean the PCI-E slot itself would have to provide less power, keeping the card within the certified spec. Honestly, it seems that AMD have screwed up with their 75w+75w design when 150w is clearly not enough power. We now await AMD’s response to these findings on power usage.

I’m no expert on these things, but it seems like a bad mistake for AMD to make. Claiming just a 150w total TDP and only providing 6 pin power when it clearly requires more juice. Was this a deliberate misrepresentation or did AMD just not test thoroughly enough? I don’t know the answer; but 150w TDP is clearly a myth under full gaming load for this card using the 1266mhz boost clock speed.

I will be holding off on purchasing the RX-480 until these issues have been resolved. I do run and older budget motherboard, the Asus M5A97 LE R2.0, so I am concerned about the out of spec power draw from the PCI-E interface. I’m not willing to risk damaging my motherboard and I’m not willing to buy a newer, more expensive board. I don’t overclock and the M5A97 LE has served me well for almost 4 years; I won’t pay $150 for a newer motherboard for a $240 GPU; that’s silly for the 4 year old FX8350 CPU installed.