Sir Bradley

I haven’t always been Bradley Johnson’s biggest fan. I’ve been labeled various things for airing these views here and other places. I may have said something about him not being able to pass a few yards, which is where he built his so-called engine by having to constant chase after his errant passes.

But I seem to have been wrong. Dead wrong.

Sure he can be a little wasteful, but he’s been a revelation this year, and we’ve been all the better for it. He is set to reach double figures in goals this year. Double. Figures. That’s 10 goals. That means I have to use numbers, not letters to spell it out. Remarkable. They’ve varied, too, from chips, to screamers, to brilliant headers and tap-ins. He’s meant almost all of them, too. As I said, remarkable. 

He continues to put a shift in, that trait we are repeatedly told we must always give credit for, and he’s become the core of the side on his own. There was a time when he was blindly kept in the side regardless of how many balls he punted into the river. Now there’d be an uneasy murmur if he was dropped. He’s playing out on the left and adapted well to it. He can sit and mop up, and he’s become a force going forward. He’s still a danger to the fans behind the goal but a low(er-ish) risk than ever before.

Who’d have thought.

Player of the Season in waiting, Bradley Johnson.

Colour me interesting

An interesting point was made recently on that there Twitter, brought about mainly by these excellent renders of the bonkers Nismo LMP1. Why do we yearn for a return of classic liveries, and seem so reluctant to accept modern ones?

The answer comes from someone being uncharacteristically succinct. Ron Dennis, who says title sponsors are a thing of the past. Bringing us back around to the point: they have taken the liveries with them.

Ron’s own McLaren has a strong back catalogue of liveries, and all bar the early orange days, they have been largely driven by sponsors. Marlboro, West/Merc, and even the early Vodafone adaptions, have been striking, the Harrods, Gulf and Fina-stickered F1 GTRs too. All sponsor-led. With them gone from the world of sport, let alone motorsport, as you were prevails and has done for the past few seasons, not least with this season’s offerings. The Honda-McLaren deal looked the perfect opportunity to ditch the grey, but as pointed out to me recently, harking back to the Honda days with a red and white car is going to give Marlboro a dose of publicity. Ron doesn’t do free. Although that didn’t stop the artist-tenuously-formerly-known-as, and-then-known-as-again-albeit-even-more-tenuously, Lotus.

It isn’t just the title sponsors that teams are failing to tempt into the world of motorsport; you can count the sponsors on recent cars on a hand or two. And it isn’t just F1, either, the top sports cars have a lack of sponsors, though they have do the luxury of being stunning cars. Back to F1, the 2015 Sauber, while it jarred its way, nauseatingly, into garish life earlier this year, has few sponsor logos to dull the blinding blue of Banco do Brasilia. Maybe they’re hoping to channel the spirit of the sticker-less C9.

The best looking cars have been known by the way they look as much as by their performance on the track. Unfortunately, they also gave you cancer. The Jaguar XJR-9 is forever known as the Silk Cut Jag, the Williams FW16 a Rothmans, Lotus and JPS, and the aforementioned Marlboro Maccas. Arrows and Orange, even, although mobile phones and cancer seem to have lost its newsworthiness. When the cigarettes were cut, so were the liveries, leaving the better looking cars of F1 in the nineties and 2000s were almost invariably midfield (Sauber [again], Arrows, Jaguar et al).

There’s little on the F1 grid to fulfil the future generations’ need for evocative liveries. The Martini bedecked Williams will be mentioned, but that will always be shunned by virtue of the Alfa, Lancia and numerous other, better Martinid cars. Few would say the Martini Williams was as great as they had hoped it would be, however good it does look.

It seems Nissan could be set to save the day. The red P1 was, livery-wise, something of a let down for such an innovative car and launch. A plain red seemed to go against the grain. But, Darren Cox may have snuck in a tantalising tidbit, an olive branch, maybe thanks to those classic livery designs. 

And while we’re on about the halcyon, good ol’ days, there’s that new ‘rule’ about helmet design. But that’s for another day.  

LMP3 – The whos and the what

It has gone under the radar a bit, but LMP3 has enjoyed a promising start. It seems to have landed exactly where it needed to and landed exactly the sort of drivers and teams. The prize hasn’t just been found down the back of the sofa, either, it’s an LMP2 entry for 2016.

1407338709Ginetta-Juno LMP3 Render 1The division should fill the void between LMP2 and the relatively inexpensive CN prototype championships such as VdeV and the now-absorbed-by-Supercar Challenge SPEED EuroSeries, and single-make championships like the Radical Euro Masters. They look like P2s with the closed cockpit and offer a heck of a lot of car for the money. Spare a thought for Radical, who were left out in the cold by the carbon tub requirement, rendering the spaceframe-chassised RXC coupe and SR8s ineligible for the new series in one fell swoop. Continue reading

Spotify – A Swift retort

Well this has been a while.

Anyway.

Be it tapes, CDs, MiniDiscs, guitars, amps, gigs, festivals, and for the past eight years or so, vinyl; I’ve spent more money on music than I care to remember, or could probably afford to. I also spend £9.99 each month on my Spotify subscription. Barring a handful of ill-judged albums sitting in my CD towers, I’m not ashamed of any of it, no matter what Taylor Swift says.

Continue reading

Malaysian Mysteries

Malaysia is rightly regarded as the best of new ones by most. It has the lot: unpredictable weather, difficult conditions, fast flowing corners, slow wait-for-its and a slipstream-able straight or two. Sure, Austin could well be a pretender for its crown but unseating Malaysia after one success is no fairer than dismissing another for one two hour-long procession.

This weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix looks set to be no different with the weather predictably apocalyptic with a chance of sunshine. McLaren will – and are – limbering up for a raindance to hide their deficiencies, such was their relative anonymity in Australia. “Two lines of updates” are in tow, but the weather will be their biggest saviour, Fernando’s victory last year is testament to that.

The weather in Melbourne has left Malaysia as something of a second start (a first start for Hulk) as there was little chance of learning from Melbourne due to the lack of consistent running. But some things appeared to rise up.

Sutil looks to be without rust. He looked after his tyres with good pace, though he was saved by the PR team from being overtaken by Di Resta. A good showing nonetheless, and vindicating the team’s decision to haul him back. Red Bull have a few questions to answer, and possibly to ask of McLaren. Their pace wasn’t good enough, Lotus and Ferrari had them pegged and could even have leapfrogged Vettel with Massa too. They appear to have swapped tyre management abilities with Mercedes and the heat of Malaysia may make for a difficult weekend for Horner’s lot. But, Sutil spitting dirty air onto Vettel lap after lap may have made the situation appear worse than it really was.

Mercedes ultimately were disappointing. They had good pace, and could have capitalised on Red Bull’s tyre problems. Hamilton had tyre issues during the middle phase of the race and dropped off, but Malaysia’s long straights may send them to the top step again.

Williams were a surprise. And as soon as Maldonado fell out in the first round of qualifying he was unlikely to finish the race. The heated interview brandishing the car “undriveable” made that DNF odds on. He’s since calmed and climbed down attributing Melbourne to set-up, but we’ll wait and see which Maldonado was in fact right.

F1 2013 in five

It’s finally back. So here’s what will (probably. Might not.) happen over the next eight months or so.

Alonso will be everyone’s tip for the title.

He’s mine. He’s probably yours too. After doing what he did in that Ferrari, it’s hard to look past the man. He seems to have been given a car that is on the pace at the very least, if not more, so he is hard to look past. Vettel to win four? Just doesn’t sound possible. Continue reading

Renault looking to keep Le Mans in France?

Renault COO Carlos Tavares has reportedly complained that they haven’t received the credit they deserve for “beating the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes”, but it might all be nothing more than a preamble to tomorrow’s supposed announcement.

He does have a point, regardless of any skepticism. The only time Renault was mentioned last year was amid the alternator reliability problems that cost Sebastien Vettel comfort in claiming his hat-trick, and if ‘Nando had nicked it they would have had many fingers pointed their way. In fact they already were in the crosshairs of presumptuous, and ultimately wrong, fingers. Continue reading

Everyone’s a winner

Norwich-based racer Josh Rayman has found a positive in the economic strife engulfing motorsport currently which is also helping him get in shape for the season ahead.

With sponsors hard to come by – even in the top echelons of motorsport – Josh has turned to filling some of the space on the shell of his Ramotak Racing MSA Superkart entry with the stickers of the British Tinnitus Association. And to kick off the season Josh is running a half marathon based around Silverstone circuit to raise money for the charity on March 3rd.

“I’ve suffered from mild tinnitus for about five years, so I felt it was an appropriate cause to raise awareness about. When I decided to run the half marathon at Silverstone, it made sense to raise money for the BTA.” explained Josh.

Continue reading

Lowe! Mclaren to Mercedes

Presumably tired of all this reading-too-much-into-testing lark, Mercedes are back in the news. Paddy Lowe has signed for Mercedes from McLaren. Not expected to, not rumoured to, has signed for 2014.

As a result, he won’t be with McLaren in Australia come March, or any other race in 2013. Although the car sat on the grid next month will be an entirely different beast to that of 2014, Lowe being around the factory unpacking his desk while work on two cars is in full flow isn’t a great idea. Gardening leave it is. And struck off the Christmas card list. The internal politics at Mercedes will not be eased by Lowe’s arrival, and confusion as to who is in fact doing what will continue to reign. Continue reading

With or without you

The British Touring Car Championship has its best grid in many years in 2013, and it’s come at an important time as British GT looked like it was about to leap the BTCC into the slot of the best national grid.

But British GT is not letting up. Even today, experienced GT racer and double Porsche Supercup champion Richard Westbrook has confirmed a season-long campaign rather than the selected rounds of previous seasons.

The grid will be a big one, over 30 cars in total already, and the names on the grid appear to be just as big. Matt Bell, Mark Blundell and Alvaro Parente are the professional drivers for United Autosports alone. Jonny Adam has signed up again, Allen Simonsen too and there more yet to be confirmed. The racing in 2012 was as close as can be in GTs, as proven at Brands Hatch. This season could be even better. Continue reading