Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix 2019

F1 Brazilian Grand Prix 2019

We come to the penultimate race of the 2019 Formula 1 season, the Brazilian Grand Prix, which, in my opinion, should be the final race, not Abu Dhabi, but I digress. Anyway, Brazil never fails to entertain with a safety car interrupted race and plenty of on-track action, overtakes, crashes and drama.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen avenged his demotion from the Mexican Grand Prix pole, a few weeks back, for not slowing enough under waved yellow flags in qualifying after Bottas crashed, by claiming pole for the Brazilian Grand Prix, making great use of starting at the front, to be clear into the Senna S, while world champion elect Lewis Hamilton found Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel driving around the outside of him through turn 1 into turn 2, demoting the Briton to third, meanwhile Charles Leclerc steadily made his way through the grid from 14th, after an engine change penalty, to run in 10th place by the start of lap 3.

Other than Leclerc making more progress through the field, moving into 6th place by lap 11, where his progress stalled as all he had in front were Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, nothing much happened during the rest of the first third of the race, barring a coming together between Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen, for which Ricciardo was deemed to be at fault and was penalized with a +5 second penalty.

Hamilton pitted for a second set of soft tires on lap 21, in response, Red Bull pitted Verstappen the next lap, also opting to stay on the soft tire, but Verstappen was balked by the unsafe release of Williams’ Robert Kubica as he was about to exit the pitlane, causing the Dutchman to take avoiding action, costing him a place to Hamilton on track. Being balked seemed to fire up Verstappen more, chasing down and passing Hamilton into turn 1 on lap 23, after both drivers dispatched Leclerc who was yet to pit.

Leaders, Hamilton and Verstappen stopped for a second time on lap 44 and lap 45 respectively, this time, Verstappen got a clean stop, no issues, and just 1.9-seconds stationery, to come back out ahead of Hamilton to retain the effective lead with both drivers now running the medium tire.

Now comes the masterstroke from Red Bull, who pulled Verstappen in for a third pitstop, to switch back to the soft tire on lap 55 after the race director elected to put out the safety car to recover Valtteri Bottas’ stricken car from the side of the road after a seeming engine issue. This stop obviously put Verstappen back behind Hamilton on track, albeit on newer, faster tires, while Hamilton stayed out on track.

Ferrari also elected to pit Leclerc during this safety car period, moving the Monegasque driver off the hard tire and onto the faster soft tire, slotting back into 5th place after Bottas’ retirement. Much to Vettel’s chagrin, Ferrari did not pit the German, keeping him out on five lap older soft tires, which directly led to Ferrari’s race unraveling on lap 66. Leclerc passed Vettel into turn 1 for 4th place, only for Vettel to battle back in the run down to turn 4, going wheel to wheel, when the German jinked left a little, and the slightest of contact caused a suspension failure for Leclerc and a puncture, causing major floor damage for Vettel, which in my opinion was 100% Vettel’s fault, he moved left, while Leclerc held his line.

Going back six laps to the restart, despite Hamilton’s best efforts to stop Verstappen from using his newer tires in the run down to turn 1, the Dutch driver was having none of it, driving around the outside of the Briton to retake the lead. While Verstappen’s Red Bull stablemate, Alex Albon passed Vettel for 3rd place at the same corner. Mercedes did pit Hamilton during the second safety car period to clear the debris from the Ferrari’s coming together, which promoted Albon into 2nd for a Red Bull 1-2, and Gasly to 3rd.

This seemed like an odd decision by Mercedes with just four laps remaining, giving away a sure-fire second place, with no guarantee that the safety car would come in before the chequered flag was waved. However, the safety car did come in with 2 laps remaining, and Hamilton did dispatch Gasly into turn 1 to move back onto the podium, and later tried a clumsy move up the inside of turn 9, tipping Albon into a spin, dropping the Thai-British driver to the back of the field, while Hamilton continued in 3rd place, after being passed by Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly. Hamilton tried to pass Gasly on the final lap, but the Frenchman managed to hold off the Briton by a car length to hold onto second place.

Although Hamilton did cross the line in 3rd place and stood on the podium, he was later handed a five-second time penalty, which because of the late safety car, dropped the 2019 world champion down to 7th place. This means that McLaren and Carlos Sainz were promoted up onto the podium, their first podium since the 2014 Australian Grand Prix. Yes, I know that it’s a net 7th place, after Hamilton’s penalty, the Ferrari’s coming together and Bottas’ engine expiring, but it’s sure good to see McLaren back on the podium, after five years in the wilderness, it’s just a shame that Carlos didn’t get to stand on the podium.

It was a great day for Alfa Romeo, finishing in a season-best 4th and 5th, followed by Daniel Ricciardo in 6th place, despite his coming together with K-Mag, a 5-second time penalty and dropping to the back of the field due to a front wing replacement early on. The rest of the top 10 are the usual suspects, Lando Norris, Sergio Perez, and Danill Kvyat round out the top 10 behind Hamilton in 7th place.

Brazilian Grand Prix 2019 Results

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:33:14.678
2. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) +6.077s
3. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) +8.896s
4. Kimi Räikkönen (Alfa Romeo) +9.452s
5. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) +10.201s
6. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) +10.541s
7. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +11.139s
8. Lando Norris (McLaren) +11.204s
9. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) +11.529s
10. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) +11.931s

A Mixed Bag Life Update IV

Life Update

It’s been 9 months since my last mixed bag life update, so I guess it’s time for the fourth installment. Sit back while I enthrall you all with the story of my life over the past few months… STAY AWAKE AT THE BACK!

A few weeks ago, the wife and I went to see an investment advisor about building a portfolio of investments for our retirement, which, assuming we retire at age 65, is just 22 years away. At this point, I believe we are not in a position to make any investments, and our adviser, John confirmed this, stating we need to look at our outgoings, make changes and clear our debts, before looking into investments.

Speaking of debt, at the time of writing, we have a total debt of $21,571.74, which is costing us an average of $187.84 in interest charges every month, which over the course of a year is over $2,250. The biggest single debt is my personal loan, which currently has a balance of $11,077.38. This was meant to be a consolidation loan for our credit cards, mainly my wife’s Discover, which was costing us $138 per month in interest charges, with less than $20 going to the principle on a balance of over $6,500.

Since I took out this consolidation loan, five months ago, our credit card balances have ballooned again to $6,613.68. Although $2,297.49 of that is structured and interest-free on my Best Buy store card, and we are on target to pay that off before any interest charges apply, this kind of balance I like, as it’s structured.

The wife and I took a much needed 3-day vacation to Colorado in August, which added about $550 to my American Express credit card balance, which totals $765.44 at this time, which is not terrible, then we have our Meritrust VISA credit card, which has a balance of $654.77, which is also not terrible. The wife also has a Torrid store card, with an existing balance of $443.82, which again is reasonable, although she does want to buy some winter clothes, which will surely add another $200-300 to that balance.

Finally, we come to my Discover credit card, which has a balance of $2,452.16, mainly thanks to having to pay a $1,806.14 bill to fix my wife’s car after she somehow managed to hit one of those hoops protecting gas pumps, breaking the rear driver side knuckle, stabilizer arm, and stabilizer bar control link, which after being replaced, required a four-wheel alignment. Shout out to Myers Automotive for getting it fixed promptly and also being nice guys, giving us $100 off the total bill, which lessened the pain a little.

Additionally, what is screwing us financially is school meals and general school fees, which come to a total of $125 per month. Last school year, we qualified for reduced rate school meals, which dropped the cost to less than $30 per month for both of my kids. However, due to a modest 3% pay rise, we no longer qualify for reduced rate school meals, and it’s killing us financially, adding that cost to my Discover card.

Onto something I feel kinda bad about, my wife wanted to restart her real estate career, where she would be the sole realtor for a brokerage run by a family member. But, I had to stop that immediately as my wife had tried this with two brokerages before with a negative return. The cost to renew her real estate license and complete her required training would be more than $700, plus recurring fees. I cannot justify that cost without a guaranteed ROI, we’ve already sunk $7,000 into this with less than a 35% return.

While talking about real estate; I have given up on pursuing real estate photography, as the stock response from realtors is; “that’s a bit pricey”, when I tell them I charge $70 for a single unit. I am on the cheaper side in reality, and $70 is as cheap as I can go, as built into that price is my travel costs, the cost of equipment and my time, I usually spend about 3 hours in total, which breaks down to about $23/hr.

Finally, we are still having issues with our son’s grades in high school. Although he is sitting at an average of 77%, he has two Ds and one F included in that. The issue we are having is that he refuses any and all help. For example, he has an F in photography, yet, he refuses to ask us, his parents, who happen to be photographers for help. In fact, he gets quite angry with us for asking him if he would like some help.

We are getting increasingly concerned by his lack of effort in trying to correct these grades, he has an IEP, which allows him an extra day to get work handed in, yet, he refuses to bring the work home to complete it, to hand it in the next day. He hands in work, weeks late and he wonders why he scored a zero. He’s halfway through his sophomore year and he seems unconcerned with his grades, he’ll be a junior next year, and going into that year with a barely passing grade does not tally with his college aspirations.

It makes me wonder about his thought process, what is he expecting from college? if he thinks high school is hard, he is in for a shock in college, it’s more of the same, just much more intense, with the added stress of supporting himself as he wants to go out of state for college, to escape his ‘mean’ parents.

And should he make it to an out of state college, he is not even remotely prepared for life on his own. We have been trying to teach him life skills, but everything goes in one ear and out the other. Sometimes we wonder if what he hears when we talk is the teacher from Charlie Brown, as he does not ever heed our advice, and change the way he does stuff. At 15, he should be far more independent than he is; I understand his Aspergers diagnosis adds challenges, but it’s more than that, he seems to want everyone to do things for him, like a spoiled entitled brat. This is definitely not the way we raised him to be.

We keep on hoping he’ll snap out of it and join us in the real world, but we’ve been hoping this for the last six years. We feel he needs additional therapy, but unfortunately, we fall between making too much money for assistance, but not enough money to pay for the therapy he needs out of pocket, which gets expensive real quick. This is an example of the corrupt US system failing us and others in need.

Additional, something happy, recently my good Icelandic friend, now living in Norway, Tomas (@Redaxe) and I have set up a regular twice-monthly time to chat on Skype, in addition to my regular weekly chat with James (CopperIce), which eases the pain of living in the United States of America, just a little.

Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix 2019

F1 Mexican Grand Prix 2019

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton won the Mexican Grand Prix, 2019, but did not clinch the World drivers title, falling just four points short after title ‘rival’, Valtteri Bottas, I use rival lightly as Bottas has not been close to Hamilton since the first few races of the season, finished on the third step of the podium.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified on pole position, but later was stripped of that pole because he was deemed to not have slowed under yellow flag conditions, after Bottas put his Mercedes in the wall. The young Dutchman started from fourth place after being demoted three places for his qualifying infraction.

Moving onto the start of the race, Charles Leclerc, who inherited pole after Verstappen’s penalty, got a solid start in the long run down to turn 1 to be clear of teammate Sebastian Vettel, who had Hamilton for company. The German, in my opinion, clearly ran the Briton off the road, but escaped a penalty, despite not leaving a car’s width. Because Hamilton had to get out of the throttle, this allowed Verstappen to get a run on Hamilton into turn 1, where the pair banged wheels, going off track, dropping Hamilton back to fifth place and Verstappen eighth, while Alex Albon slotted into third place, as a result of the incident.

Verstappen was in the thick of it again on lap 4 at the stadium hairpin, banging wheels with the second Mercedes of Bottas, which resulted in a right rear puncture, which became apparent after he passed the pits, meaning the Dutchman had a complete a lap before replacing his tires, dropping him back to last.

McLaren ruined what could have been a solid result for Lando Norris with his pit crew failing to secure all four wheels during his first pit stop on lap 13. The call to stop came soon enough for him to stop before the pitlane exit line, but by the time his car was wheeled back to his pit box and the wheel secured, the Briton was a lap down, eventually retiring from the race on lap 48, to save engine mileage. McLaren stablemate Carlos Sainz took the chequered flag in 13th place due to a lack of pace on the hard tire.

On lap 45, while Leclerc pitted for a second time, his stop was delayed by an issue with his right rear wheel, losing about four seconds, which put him behind Bottas who had stopped a lap earlier. Time for me to put on my tin-foil conspiracy theory hat, ever since Leclerc had his two wins in Spa and Monza, Leclerc has had ‘issues’ that benefited teammate Vettel. Did the German throw a tantrum because his young teammate was putting him in the shade? regular hat on, I hope it’s just bad luck and not sabotage.

Max Verstappen did recover to sixth place, managing to avoid any further wheel banging incidents. A solid overall drive from the Dutchman, running 66 laps on a set of hard tires, which he installed on lap 5, inheriting sixth place after Ricciardo pitted on lap 51 for his mandatory tire compound change.

Other than Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo last stint battle with Racing Point’s Sergio Perez for seventh place, which Perez won despite Ricciardo’s best efforts, and Danill Kvyat tipping Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault into a spin and into the wall, in a clumsy overtake attempt in the battle for ninth place on the final lap. There was nothing more of interest in the battle for the podium places. Vettel could make no impact on Hamilton, likewise, Bottas could make no impact on Vettel, and same goes for Leclerc in fourth place.

Mexican Grand Prix 2019 Results

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:36:48.904
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +1.766s
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +3.553s
4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +6.368s
5. Alexander Albon (Red Bull) +21.399s
6. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +68.807s
7. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) +73.819s
8. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) +74.924s
9. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) +1 LAP
10. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) +1 LAP

Really F1TV Pro? spitting in the face of subscribers!

F1TV Pro 401 Error

A couple of things about F1TV Pro, first, the powers that be at Liberty Media elected to offer the Mexican Grand Prix for free on Twitch, which I believe is spitting in the face of the people who paid good money for the substandard F1TV Pro service, still experiencing issues after more than 18 months.

It’s amazing to me that Liberty Media, a digital media company, has failed to create a fully functional product, which launched two months late due to technical issues, and even 18 months into the service, are still experiencing issues, such as not having the full qualifying replay available until almost a day after it happened, only showing 10 minute highlights and general issues with broadcasts, suddenly stopping.

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d make the suggestion that the delayed publication of the Mexican GP qualifying replay is related to the FREE broadcast on Twitch, either deliberately, screwing subscribers, or through incompetence, again, 18 months in, and Liberty Media still haven’t got their shit together.

Additionally, last night, I could not get any videos to load on the F1TV website, and the F1TV app was showing a 401 error, and checking now, the error on the F1TV Pro Android app is still showing the same error message. Plus, given that Liberty is so desperate to break the US market, I’m amazed that they don’t have any intention of creating a ROKU app, meaning I have to hook up my laptop to my TV to watch F1.

OK, I’m off to attempt to watch the Mexican GP…

TRUMP! Exploiting Parents Grief For A Photo Op

Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn

It’s been a while since I wrote about President Donald J. Trump, but his latest disgraceful action is a new low which has inspired me to write about his administration’s exploitation of a British family’s grief.

Harry Dunn, aged 19, was killed while riding his motorcycle near Croughton, Northamptonshire, UK, when he collided with a Volvo XC90, driven by Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US intelligence officer, on the wrong side of the road, on the evening of August 27, 2019. Sacoolas, quickly fled the country after the incident, to return to the US, claiming diplomatic immunity as the spouse of a US government employee.

Since then, the Trump administration has refused to compel Mrs. Sacoolas to return to the UK to be questioned by British police and stand trial, upholding her claim that she has diplomatic immunity.

Harry Dunn’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn have been doing everything they can to get Mrs. Sacoolas extradited to face justice, have been in the USA seeking justice for their 19-year-old son.

Yesterday, national security adviser Robert O’Brien invited Charlotte and Tim to the White House to meet President Trump. Which, of course, would be in front of a gaggle of photographers, as is par for the course for the reality TV president. What the Dunn family was not told is that Anne Sacoolas was in an adjoining room, ready to enter, ambushing the Dunn’s in front of the waiting photographers.

Harry Dunn’s parents rejected the meeting with Mrs. Sacoolas after being blindsided by the President, not giving Trump the photo op he desired. The Trump administration doesn’t give a fuck about anything other than spin and photo ops, inviting the grieving family of a teenager who was killed by a US citizen, driving on the wrong side of the road, to face their son’s killer at a moments notice.

A quote from Trump; and I shit you not, “and, the woman was driving on the wrong side of the road, and it can happen, you know, those are the opposite roads, it happens.” I call bullshit, if you are too fucking stupid to understand that the flow of traffic is switched, you should not be driving. I was used to driving on the left in the UK, then I came to the US, and not once have I driven on the wrong side of the road.

As Mrs. Sacoolas fled the UK, returning to her native USA, her diplomatic immunity is no longer in effect and can be extradited to the UK. The only question is, will the Trump administration abide by the US-UK extradition treaty? This is Trump we are talking about, so we can assume that he will ignore the treaty, refusing to extradite Mrs. Sacoolas, based on the numerous times he has personally flouted the law.

Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix 2019

F1 Japanese Grand Prix 2019

Mercedes took victory once again at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, but it was Valtteri Bottas who took the chequered flag as the winner, his first victory since Azerbaijan back in April 2019. This victory combined with Lewis Hamilton taking third place, secured Mercedes’ sixth successive constructors World Championship title, which shows their dominance since the introduction of the V6 turbo hybrid era of F1.

Qualifying was canceled on Saturday due to Typhoon Hagibis, pushing qualifying to just four hours before the start of the race on Sunday, which was gusty, but bright and sunny after the Typhoon had passed through the area. The result of the delayed qualifying was a front-row lockout for Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel outpacing his young teammate Charles Leclerc, then the two Mercedes, Bottas in third, Hamilton fourth, followed by Max Verstappen and Alex Albon of Red Bull in fifth and sixth respectively.

It immediately unraveled for Ferrari with Vettel clearly jumping the start, however, the German avoided a penalty, as he was again stationary when the five lights went out, and suffered a terrible start, losing the lead to Bottas, dropping back to second, having to defend from teammate, Leclerc, Hamilton, and Max Verstappen. The other Ferrari of Leclerc drifted wide into Verstappen on the outside of turn 2, causing significant damage to his Red Bull, tipping the Dutchman into a spin. The Red Bull driver eventually retired from the race on lap 15, suffering a distinct lack of pace, and to save the power unit miles.

Leclerc and Ferrari elected to continue on instead of pitting to replace his damaged front wing, ignoring the requests of the FIA. Which came back to bite Ferrari on the ass with a 10 second time penalty for Leclerc and a €25,000 fine for Ferrari. Initially, the stewards came back with ‘no further action necessary’, before Leclerc and Ferrari ignored the stewards instruction. Leclerc got an additional five-second time penalty for his part in the lap 1, turn 2 incident with Verstappen, dropping him back behind the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo, who charged through the pack, from 16th to finish 7th on the road.

If Ferrari had followed instructions to pit Leclerc for repairs at the end of lap 1, it’s likely that no penalties would have been applied. It was clearly dangerous, with the Ferrari’s front wing endplate flying off and hitting Hamilton’s car, breaking the Mercedes right-wing mirror clean off. In my opinion, Ferrari was lucky to get off so lightly, Leclerc could have been disqualified, and/or Ferrari a much more significant fine.

Honestly, after the first couple of laps, it was static for the podium places, pit stops happened, no overtakes on and off track. Hamilton did get close to Vettel for second place, but could not pass despite having fresher softer tires fitted on his Mercedes towards the conclusion of the race.

Outside of the top 3 runners, Leclerc was carving his way through the field, making several passes into the Spoon Curve, to fight back from last place to sixth place on the track. Daniel Ricciardo, who started on the yellow marked medium tire, stayed out for 31 laps, making it up to sixth place, before pitting and changing to the red marked soft tires and dropping back to 11th place. From where the Aussie battled back to seventh place on the track, later being promoted to 6th place because of Leclerc’s time penalties.

Special mentions for Alex Albon and Carlos Sainz in the Red Bull and McLaren for finishing in fourth and fifth places respectively, kinda a quiet race from both drivers, but very solid results. It’s nice to see McLaren challenging for more than minor points, it’s a shame that Lando Norris was taken out of the equation on lap 4 when he and Albon tangled, costing the British driver dear, finishing in 13th place.

Finally, there was the FIA screwup with the showing of the chequered flag on the digital boards around the track. Which meant, due to rigid rules, the race result was rolled back one lap, meaning that Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, who crashed out on the final lap, ended up being classified in 9th place. Clearly, it was an error by someone behind the scenes, and all drivers continued on like it hadn’t happened, so the FIA need to ignore it and classify the race on lap 53 as scheduled. What if Hamilton had passed Vettel on the final lap? that would have surely caused a massive stink, causing F1 even more embarrassment.

Japanese Grand Prix 2019 Results

1. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 1:21:46.755
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +13.343s
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +13.858s
4. Alexander Albon (Red Bull) +59.537s
5. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) +69.101s
6. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) +1 LAP
7. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +1 LAP
8. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) +1 LAP
9. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) +1 LAP
10. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +1 LAP

Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix 2019

Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix 2019

Normal service has been resumed with Mercedes claiming another 1-2 finish, Lewis Hamilton obviously winning the race, Valtteri Bottas is the clear #2, Hamilton’s wingman, as proven in the last race in Singapore, being told to slow down, so Hamilton would come out of the pits ahead of him. While Ferrari made a strategic error with an additional pitstop for soft tires putting Leclerc behind Bottas on the restart.

So, the start, Charles Leclerc got a decent start, as did Sebastian Vettel, who got alongside and passed Hamilton for 2nd through the turn 1 kink, then got alongside teammate Leclerc to pass for the lead into turn 2, such is the power of the tow in the run down to turn 2. Carlos Sainz got a great start as well, getting alongside Hamilton in the run down to turn 2, eventually slotting into 4th splitting the Mercedes.

We didn’t even get a full lap in before the safety car was deployed. It was a case of 3 into 1 didn’t go at turn 4, Antonio Giovinazzi was the meat in a HAAS/Renault sandwich, which resulted in Grosjean being immediately out of the race with broken suspension, Ricciardo trundling back to the pits after suffering a puncture, later retiring on lap 26 due to damage sustained in the incident, while the meat, Giovinazzi got off relatively lightly, a damaged front wing, and going on to finish the race, albeit outside of the points.

Then came the political drama at Ferrari, where the team had planned to swap their drivers around a few laps into the race. The pre-race plan was for Leclerc to give Vettel the tow through turn 1 towards turn 2 to get him clear of Hamilton in second, I don’t think the plan was for Vettel to take the lead, I guess Ferrari underestimated the power of the tow in the run down to turn 2. Vettel had pulled significantly ahead of Leclerc, so when the call came to let Leclerc by, Vettel responded with “I can’t, he’s too far behind”.

In fairness to Vettel, he was the faster driver, setting a sequence of four fastest laps, extending his lead over his teammate. As Vettel was clearly unwilling to yield the position to his younger teammate, Ferrari hung Vettel out to dry, keeping the German out for an additional five laps more than Leclerc, giving the Monegasque driver the undercut on Vettel. It got worse for Vettel with an MGU-K failure, forcing the German to stop at turn 16, which caused a virtual safety car, which Mercedes used to good advantage, to get Hamilton into the race lead, due to the speed differential of cars on the track and the pit lane.

As the VSC was ending; George Russell had a brake failure, going straight at turn 8, which forced a full safety car to recover his stricken Williams. During this safety car period, Ferrari pitted Leclerc for a second stop for a set of used soft tires, which dropped him back to 3rd place, now behind Bottas. And that was the end of the race for the podium. Leclerc got close to Bottas a few times, but even with DRS activated, could not pass the Finnish driver. I think you’d have to call this a bad strategic call from Ferrari.

Red Bull, who started 9th with Max Verstappen, and from the pit lane with Alex Albon, after a heavy crash in qualifying, made their way through the field with Verstappen finishing 4th, thanks to Vettel’s retirement, and Albon finishing in a solid 5th place, equalling his best result. A great result for the Thai driver after starting from the pit lane, albeit being aided by a number of retirements throughout the field.

Another solid result for McLaren, finishing 6th and 8th after the +5 second time penalty was applied to Kevin Magnussen. McLaren was the highest placed Renault powered car on a weekend where it was announced that McLaren will be returning to Mercedes power in 2021. Which of course means nothing, Honda got a lot of the blame for McLaren’s lackluster performance, when it was as much McLaren’s chassis design that made them slow. Williams has the Mercedes PU, yet, they are nowhere this season.

The net result is that Hamilton has a 107 point lead over third-placed Leclerc in the world drivers title race, yes, the gap to Bottas is smaller, 73 points, but we know, after Singapore, that Bottas is Hamilton’s bitch, so we can discount the gap to Bottas. With just five races remaining, and Hamilton having a full four-race points gap, the Briton would have to retire several times to lose the world drivers title.

Russian Grand Prix 2019 Results

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:33:38.992
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +3.829s
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +5.212s
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +14.210s
5. Alexander Albon (Red Bull) +38.348s
6. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) +45.889s
7. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) +48.728s
8. Lando Norris (McLaren) +57.749s
9. Kevin Magnussen (HAAS) +58.779s
10. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +59.841s

Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix 2019

Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix 2019

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is on somewhat of a roll over the past two weeks, claiming his second career F1 victory at Ferrari’s ‘home’ circuit, putting his four-time world champion teammate in the shade.

Before I write about the race, I have to say that qualifying 3 was a shambles with nine drivers jockeying for position to get a tow down the long straights to maximize performance. But, ultimately, only one driver managed to get to the line before the chequered flag, meaning eight of the nine drivers on track failed to start a final flying lap, meaning Leclerc, who set the fastest time before the red flag, qualified on pole.

Leclerc made a good start to lead into the turn 1 chicane, followed by the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel. Although Vettel did lose out to Nico Hulkenberg around Curva Grande into the second chicane before Vettel returned the favor on lap 2 using his Ferrari’s superior power unit on the main straight to move back into fourth place.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen suffered some more start line pain for the second week in a row, starting from 19th place after failing to set a time in qualifying for mechanical reasons. The Dutchman made a good start, but clipped the back of Sergio Perez’ Racing Point in the braking zone for turn 1, which broke his front wing, forcing a pit stop on lap 2 to replace the damaged wing, relegating him to 20th and stone last.

Not much was happening at the front in the first third of the race, other than Sebastian Vettel spinning all by himself at Variante Ascari, before rejoining the  track in an unsafe manner, causing Lance Stroll to run over Vettel’s front wing, tipping the Canadian into a spin, who in turn rejoined the track in an unsafe manner, causing Pierre Gasly to take avoiding action, driving into the gravel trap. Both Vettel and Stroll were handed penalties, a 10 second stop/go penalty for Vettel and a drive-through penalty for Stroll.

Hamilton pitted for fresh tires on lap 20, trying the undercut on Leclerc, switching to a set of medium tires. Leclerc pitted on lap 21, but, unlike Hamilton, switched to the hard tire, maintaining the effective lead. Bottas did not pit for tires until lap 28, and like Hamilton switched to the medium tire. After the pitstop shakedown, the top three positions remained the same, Leclerc, Hamilton and Bottas.

Hamilton was all over the gearbox of Leclerc on lap 23 and put himself in a position to overtake coming out of Curva Grande into the second chicane. But, Leclerc defended robustly, squeezing Hamilton onto the grass and onto the runoff area at the chicane. For which, Leclerc was shown the black and white flag for unsportsmanlike conduct, which is kinda like a yellow card in football, a great call by stewards IMO.

There was a period of two virtual safety cars on laps 29 and 30, temporarily calling off the battle for the lead to recover Sainz’ McLaren after the team sent him out with a loose wheel. Then a second VSC to recover the Toro Rosso of Danill Kvyat who stopped after the turn 1 chicane with a power unit issue.

After the VSC ended, Hamilton started piling the pressure on Leclerc again for the lead, forcing the young Monégasque into a mistake at turn 1, going across the chicane, retaining the lead, staying ahead of Hamilton by making his Ferrari very wide through Curva Grande going into the second chicane.

The decision by Mercedes to put Hamilton onto the medium tire came back to bite Hamilton on the posterior as his tires started to fall off the cliff, with the Briton locking up into turn 1, going across the chicane, around the polystyrene boards, handing second place to Bottas, who tried his best to hunt down the Ferrari of Leclerc, but ran out of tires before he could get into a position to pass the Ferrari driver.

Hamilton elected to make one final stop for soft tires on lap 50, to challenge for the fastest lap point, which he earned with a time of 1:21.779, the very next lap, to lose only 2 points to Bottas in the WDC.

It was the best result of the season for Renault, finishing the race and 4th and 5th places, Daniel Ricciardo winning the inter-team battle. Max Verstappen, although not seen on screen, recovered well from his first lap incident to finish in 8th place, just 15 seconds off his new teammate, Alex Albon in 6th place.

I am really liking the ‘let them race’ mentality from the FIA in recent races. During the first part of the season, Charles Leclerc would have almost certainly been handed a penalty for his defensive move squeezing Hamilton onto the grass. Since the change of stewardship policy, nearly every race has been amazing, reigniting the passion of fans and drivers for Formula 1, I say, long may it continue.

Italian Grand Prix 2019 Results

1. Charles Leclec (Ferrari) 1:15:26.665
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.835
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +35.199
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) +45.515
5. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +58.165
6. Alex Albon (Red Bull) +59.315
7. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) +73.802
8. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +74.492
9. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) +1 LAP
10. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1 LAP

Movie Theater Fail!

Regal Warren Theater, East Wichita

We normally don’t go to the movie theater often due to the extortionate cost of movie tickets. But, this weekend as I got a bonus from work, I decided to treat my family with a trip to the East 13th St Regal Theater, formerly Warren Theater and it was a very overpriced and disappointing experience.

I guess the first thing, the cost of tickets, applies to most theaters these days, but $43.68 for 3 adults and 1 child is too much in my opinion. Yes, you could skip the $5.80 convenience fee by buying the ticket in the theater itself. I believe that venues that charge a convenience fee are shooting themselves in the foot, in this case, Regal adds a 15% surcharge to every ticket sale through their app or online.

Clearly, other people feel the same, while we were sat in the restaurant, for about 45-50 minutes, we observed more staff than customers, and even when we went into the theater itself for the showing of the movie, I would estimate that less than 15% of the seats were taken, on a Saturday evening.

The real disappointment was the onsite diner restaurant. Since the last time we visited the diner, about six or seven months ago, the menu has changed, with significantly higher prices, 3 burgers, chicken sandwich, side salad, 2 bottles of water, two milkshakes and one fountain drink came to almost $94.

Ignoring the price, the experience was not good. First of all, when we ordered, we said that we were going to eat-in, we took our seats and waited, and waited, and waited. After about 20 minutes, my wife turns around and noticed two bags on the counter as asks me “is that our food?”. I responded, “I don’t know, go ask”. My wife goes up to the counter and asks, and yes it was our food, now barely warm.

The food was transferred to ‘plates’ and brought to our table, I start to eat my onion rings, and I pull a blond hair out of my mouth. Not best pleased, I go up to the counter with my plate and the hair and ask to speak to a manager. There was no issue with the manager, he offered to get me another burger, which I declined, finding a strangers hair in your food kinda kills your appetite. They refunded my meal without an issue but coupled with a 30% price increase over a similar meal previously, it really irritated me.

Honestly, I have avoided the movie theater over the past couple of years, because the cost, it should not cost $70 to $80 to take a family of four to see a movie. $43+ for the tickets, $38 if you buy in the theater, then another $35+ for popcorn and drinks. It’s no wonder that there are 70%+ of seats still available for each showing. There is no need for tickets to cost $9.50 to $15.50 to see a movie, I’ll wait for it to become available on in-home streaming, pay $4 to $7 and invite a few friends around to watch with my family.

Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix 2019

Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix 2019

The second half of the F1 season kicked off on a very sad note with the passing of F2 driver, Anthoine Hubert, who was killed in a race earlier in the weekend. The F2 race was immediately red-flagged and canceled, the second F2 race on Sunday was also canceled as a mark of respect for the tragic loss of the 22-year-old Frenchman. My condolences go out to Anthoine’s family, friends, and team members. We are so used to drivers walking away from major crashes, which makes Anthoine’s death all the more shocking.

The race produced a new F1 winner, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took his maiden F1 victory after coming so close, twice this season, having to fend off a late challenge from the current world champion, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. I believe that Leclerc is the first Monégasque (Monaco) driver to ever win an F1 race.

At the start, Leclerc, who started from pole, exited the first corner in the lead, while Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel found himself on the outside of the Mercedes of Hamilton, going wide at La Source, returning to the track between Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in 3rd place. But, used Ferrari’s superior power to move back to 2nd place in the run down the Kemmel Straight towards the Les Combes chicane.

Meanwhile, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen made an ill-advised decision to dive down the inside of Kimi Raikkonen at La Source, making contact with the Finnish driver as the Dutchman attempted to make up for his bad start. This contact damaged the steering of Verstappen, which broke as he traversed the top of Radion, Raikkonen’s race was also effectively over with significant damage to his Alfa Romeo’s floor.

Nineteen-year-old Briton, Lando Norris made a brilliant start, making up six places, moving from 11th to fifth place, somehow avoiding the carnage at La Source. Norris stayed in fifth place as best of the rest behind Ferrari and Mercedes, but had his best-ever finish stolen away from him, one lap from the end, his McLaren coming to a halt with a Renault power unit issue as he started his final lap. Big disappointment for the young Briton, at least he has the consolation of being voted driver of the race.

The race was immediately put on hold, the safety car was deployed to recover Verstappen’s car, which was further extended to cover the recovery of Carlos Sainz’ McLaren which stopped on the outside of the bus stop chicane with a suspected power unit issue. The race restarted on lap five, with Leclerc creating a gap for himself before La Source, Vettel locked up, allowing Hamilton a sniff through Eau Rouge and Radion, but the Ferrari stretched its legs to be clear into the Les Combes braking zone.

Ferrari elected to pit Vettel, the first of the leading pack, on lap 16, for medium tires, while teammate and race leader Leclerc continued on for a further six laps, losing out to Vettel, who successful used the undercut. I questioned why Ferrari left Leclerc out for so long, after pitting Vettel, losing large chunks of time every lap to the German driver. But it all became clear later on, when Ferrari instructed Vettel to move aside for his young teammate, which happened on the start/finish straight on lap 27.

Vettel eventually ran out of tire performance as we entered the final third of the race, being passed by Hamilton on lap 32, before pitting for a second set of used soft tires, as he was about to be passed by the second Mercedes of Bottas. There was no point in Vettel staying out on worn tires as he was going to finish fourth anyway. Overall, it was a disappointing race for Vettel, starting second in the fastest car at Spa Francorchamps, only to finish behind both Mercedes, while his teammate took the victory.

Alex Albon, who was promoted to a Red Bull drive, at the expense of Pierre Gasly, during the mid season break, benefited from Norris’ misfortune to finish fifth, overtaking Racing Point’s Sergio Perez on the final lap. For which he was lucky to not get a penalty as he went off track to make the overtake happen. Daniel Ricciardo was given a 5 second time penalty for a similar move back at the French Grand Prix.

Speaking of Daniel Ricciardo, after getting a big clout from Lance Stroll during the first corner melee, the Australian pitted for medium tires on lap 2, suffering the ignominy of dropping continuously backward in the final third of the race, all the way down to 14th after running solidly in the top 10 earlier on. You really have to question the logic of keeping Ricciardo out for such a long stint, a set of soft tires late on would have been the better option, especially given Ricciardo’s reputation of being the last of the late brakers.

Belgian Grand Prix 2019 Results

1. Charles Leclec (Ferrari) 1:23:45.710
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.981
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +12.585
4. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +26.422
5. Alex Albon (Red Bull) +1:21.325
6. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) +1:24.448
7. Danill Kvyat (Toro Rosso) +1:29.657
8. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +1:46.639
9.  Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) +1:49.168
10. Lance Stroll (Racing Point) +1:49.838