London Expo October 2006

Last weekend, was the London Anime Expo. It was the perfect opportunity to meet the members of the Eternal Sunset and ToykoToys forums by going to this social event.

On Saturday, I’ve planned to meet Yas at Covent Garden in the morning, before joining Mike, Jason and Josh at the Expo in Docklands. I got to Covent Garden around 9am and I noticed a young man waiting outside the Tube station… I thought: “Hmm, I wonder where Yas is?”

I picked up my mobile and called him. Yas answered and at the corner of my eye, there was a young man across the street picking up his mobile at the same time! I said to Yas: “Where are you?” He replied back: “Hi Leaf, I’m in Marks & Spencer. I will be out in a sec.”

I gave him five minutes waiting for him to appear from M&S. At that time, the young man across the street approach me and gave me a look… I think he might recognise me but wasn’t so sure… After five minutes I called Mike and told him that I was meeting up with Yas. When I hanged up the young man who was waiting all this time said to me: “Hi Leaf?” It was Yas all this time!

After a formal introduction, we made out way to the Expo in Docklands. Getting there proved to be a nightmare as there was planned engineering works on the DLR (Docklands Light Railway). We planned to meet Mike, Josh and Jason at the show around 10am and considering they had a head start, expected to get there before us.

In the end, we beat them because Mike got on a wrong train and had to start from the beginning! We finally met up around 10.30am and it was nice to see little Josh and Jason in person!

The Expo was very busy on Saturday, and with so much to see it, we needed to plan out what to do. I told Josh that the signing for Hot Fuzz (with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) would take place around 2pm. So in the mean time, we just went to each stand and look at the merchandising on display.

Mike brought a few stuff while Yas recording some pictures on a digital camera and camcorder. As two o’clock approach, we head to the main Hot Fuzz stand to grab the perfect spot for autographs. Unfortunately everyone thought the same thing and there was quite a crowd. And then, a member of security told us that we couldn’t get an autograph unless you visit the Q&A session beforehand. I think it was a deliberately act of moving the big crowd away from the area…

Jason, Josh and I went to the Q&A but it was packed and we had to stand at the back. The session was quite good showing video clips from the new film and it was amusing to see Simon Pegg and Nick Frost answering questions and then throwing free Hot Fuzz t-shirts to the crowd!

After the Q&A, we hurried back to the Hot Fuzz stand for the signing. Already there was a queue… It was badly organised with a lack of security guards prevent people queue jumping but Josh and I were in the line. After queuing up for 15 minutes, we got our Shaun Of The Dead stuff signed by the two stars and the look on Josh’s face was filled with joy and happiness!

We met up with Mike and Yas later on to tell him the good news. He was impressed by our efforts.

In the afternoon, we were joined by Kerry and Matt (from the ToykoToys forum) and it was nice to meet them in person. They were dressed up for the occasion!

After the Hot Fuzz signing, I decided to take the two boys back to Central London. Mike and Yas decided to stay behind at the Expo so that they could attend the Cosplay show. It turned out to be very bad, as you needed a ticket to get in… So Mike sneakily filmed the whole show with his hidden camcorder standing at the back…

I took Josh and Jason around the many shops in the West End, including Playlounge. After going around the different places, the two boys become hungry so I took them to a food hall to grab something to eat.

By now, we were all feeling rather tired so we sat down in the Apple Store to relax (we wanted to play on the new Macs but there were all taken by people writing their emails).

Around 7pm, my mobile rang and it was Mike saying he was at Piccadilly Circus. He had left the Expo show and was now waiting for us.

We met up with Yas and Mike at Piccadilly and I asked him how was the show. “Don’t ask…” Mike said.

Yas and Mike were now hungry after spending all day at the Expo. We needed to go somewhere to eat. Yas mentioned Covent Garden so we decided to make our way there.

We had a nice dinner sitting outside in Covent Garden. We would then joined by two of Mike’s close friends afterwards plus Kerry and Matt, who came straight from the hotel.

By now, it was approaching 9pm and Kerry wanted to go to the pub. But for Josh and Jason, it has been a long and tiring day… Mike asked them if they wanted to go back to the hotel. In the end, we decided to let them tag along and jokily we said we would sneak them in!

We went to this pub near Tottenham Court Road and had a nice friendly chat over a pint of beer. Afterwards, we made our own separate ways back home.

On Sunday, we decided to visit the Science Museum and check out the Game On exhibition. I met up with Yas first at Charing Cross and then join the others at the museum itself.

Spent the next two hours playing classic/modern games such as the Bomberman, Super Mario and Jason’s favourite Halo. Mike thrashed me on Super Mario Kart!

We also jammed on Guitar Hero, which had the main image projected on the wall so that everyone can see our rockin’ performance!

After the exhibition, we made our way to Knightsbridge and had a spot of lunch in a nice Italian restaurant. Everyone had pizza while I had the ‘seafood’ spaghetti. There was even a large pawn on my plate and I didn’t know how to eat it!

We then spent the last few hours in Forbidden Planet, and I noticed Jason was buying so many things as he had a large bag of goodies!

As the day draw to a close, we said goodbye and made our way back to the train station. It had been a really good fun weekend and I said to Mike we should meet up again sometime soon.

24 Season 6 preview trailer

Jack Bauer

Jack Bauer was last seen, bound and tortured, on a ship headed for China. His life is now the tipping point for US international relations.

So what’s in store for Jack? As the clock ticks closer to the season six premiere in January, the official 24 website is proud to show a special, extended season preview.

Click here see the trailer

Looking forward to the new series of my favourite TV drama in the new year.

Massa wins the Brazilian Grand Prix, while Alonso takes the drivers’ title

Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa became the first Brazilian to win his home race since the late, great Ayrton Senna back in 1993. The new World Champion, Fernando Alonso, finished in second position with Honda’s Jenson Button in third.

Alonso is now the youngest double world champion and it was a fantastic achievement after a long season battle with Michael Schumacher. The outgoing seven times world champion – taking part in his final ever Formula One race – drove superbly despite suffering a rear-left puncture in the early stages of the Grand Prix. He produced a great comeback drive to finish in fourth, setting the fastest lap during the 71-lap race.

Michael’s performance was magnificent and it’s a shame that we won’t be able to see this kind of driving standards next year… The other drivers and Formula One fans around the world will miss his level of dedication and commitment in the sport.
As for Alonso, the Spaniard did what was required to win his second consecutive title by finishing in the points to take that important drivers’ championship. He drove a steady race and avoided trouble to finish behind the winner Massa, who simply drove a lights-to-flag race.

Massa was overcome with emotion after winning and has even admitted that this was the “easiest drives of his career”.

“It is just amazing isn’t it,” said a tearful Massa. “After 13 years without a Brazilian winning the Brazilian Grand Prix for me it is just amazing to be in front of my people, the first year I have a good car, a fantastic car.

“It was probably the easiest race of my life. I could control everything and wasn’t pushing a lot. I was happy to have that moment.

“It is just a dream come true. You see the whole people bringing the flag, screaming your name and jumping, dancing, whatever, just for you. It is difficult to explain, whatever drivers would love to be in my position, Fernando won his home Grand Prix this year and it was fantastic.

“It is the best day of my life.”

I believe the new 2006 world champion must be feeling the same way and after the race, Fernando Alonso paid tribute to his main rival Michael Schumacher following the German’s final Formula One race in Brazil. The Spaniard said it had been an honour racing against Schumacher.

“It has been very close and I think it is good to fight with him,” said Alonso. “I always said that to become champion when Michael is still on track gives it more value.

“I was extremely lucky to win the world championships when he races, I think we all wish him the best for his new life with his family.

“It has for us been pleasure for us to race with him.”

Schumacher, ten points behind Alonso but with seven wins each, had needed one last victory to have any hope of an unprecedented eighth title while the Spaniard required only a single point from his last race with Renault before joining McLaren next year.

Renault team boss Flavio Briatore also paid homage to Schumacher following his amazing drive at Interlagos.

“I think today we have to show great respect for Michael Schumacher, because what he’s done today will go down in the history of F1,” Briatore said. “He was flying. I don’t know what he had but he was literally flying.

“We’ve won a difficult championship against an extremely difficult rival, Ferrari, so congratulations to them too for keeping the title open even too much.”

So after 18-races in this exciting and dramatic season, it’s nice to see Fernando Alonso winning his second championship. The Spaniard drove superbly all year in the Renault R26 and it is such a rich reward for the driver and the French manufacturer to win the drivers’ and constructors’ title after a year long battle against Michael and Ferrari.

Thank you Michael for providing some great drives all season. Without your dedication to the sport, we wouldn’t have a tense and dramatic season finale. You will be sadly missed when the new Formula One season resumes in Melbourne next March.

Ridge Racer 2

The new hype-realistic arcade racing game from Namco is a rather familiar affair to this game reviewer. As a fan of the original Ridge Racers on the PlayStation, this new ‘sequel’ on the PSP seems to lack any new features that differential the launch title for the handheld console.

Sure it still features the over-the-top oversteer moments when ‘powersliding’ around the corners and as an arcade game, it provides thrills for a short amount of time. But the lack of new content in particular online play is disappointing.

Ridge Racer 2 should be branded as Ridge Racer Remixed as this new game only seems to provides new cars, music and tracks (from the past Ridge Racer games including Ridge Racer Type 4, Rage Racer and Ridge Racer Revolution).

As a game, it still fantastic to play with the sublime handling and visuals. But you can’t help think that Namco has missed out on an opportunity to take it in a new direction.

There are two modes available in Ridge Racer 2 – Duel and Survival. But no Online play (which everyone wanted) unfortunately… As you can tell by the two names, Duel is a series of races in which you compete against a single opponent while Survival is a simple lap-by-lap knockout. Both these modes feel like filler than new content but fans of Ridge Racer will be pretty happy.

In conclusion, Ridge Racer 2 is great fun but a poor excuse of a sequel. It feels like a carbon copy of the original game including that dynamic difficulty curve… At one point you are winning the races in World Tour mode with ease and then the game goes into ‘cheating’ mode in which the AI-controller cars seem to have infinite boost…

In addition, the new cars don’t really look new either. More like a remodelled versions of the same old vehicles…

But Ridge Racer 2 is most definitely an improvement over the first game but by no means an essential purchase. If nine new tracks seems like good value to you, then you won’t be disappointed, as the core gameplay is as entertaining as ever, but don’t say you weren’t warned!

Fernando Alonso edges closer to the title with victory in Japan

Fernando Alonso Japanese GP

World champion Fernando Alonso takes an important ten-point lead in the drivers’ championship with a race victory in Suzuka, as Michael Schumacher’s dream of winning his eighth title ends with a trail of smoke from his broken Ferrari.

The Spaniard was surprised to see the leading Ferrari suffer a rare failure due to the impression of the Italian cars having bullet proof reliability. Michael Schumacher was understandably disappointed as he was leading the race at that point and was on form to score an impressive seventh Suzuka victory and probably his eighth drivers’ championship until that moment in the Degner curve on lap 37…

Alonso took the lead after Schumacher’s retirement and went onto win his seventh Grand Prix of the year. His first since the Canadian Grand Prix back in June… and don’t forget the Spaniard had a 25-point lead when he won at Montreal.

Schumacher’s retirement has provided a twist to this epic and exciting championship. After winning in China, it looked like Ferrari and Michael had the momentum to win both titles (drivers’ and constructors’). The performance of the Ferrari 248 during qualifying was breathtaking as the Bridgestone tyres had an advantage over the Michelins. But in the race, many were expected the Ferraris to disappear into the distance with their superior pace, but it didn’t happen.

The Spaniard, who started the race in fifth, was charging and he wasn’t going to give up his chances by driving beautifully in the Renault R26. He passed the first Toyota of Jarno Trulli on the first lap, and then set about passing the other Toyota of Ralf Schumacher.

At the front, Felipe Massa led his team-mate Michael Schumacher. The Brazilian allowed Michael through to take first position at the end of lap 2. This became the perfect opportunity for the German to disappear into the distance and thereby mark his authority on the title battle.

But it didn’t happen like that at all. The two scarlet cars were lapping at a slower pace than in qualifying with Ralf Schumacher and Alonso closely behind.

When the world champion went down the inside of the Toyota at the first corner on lap 12, that allow Alonso to quickly catch up the two Ferraris after being held up behind the slower car.

Felipe Massa was forced to pit three laps earlier than planned – on lap 13 – after suffering a puncture with his Bridgestone. Now Alonso was in second position and for the first time all weekend, was travelling faster than Schumacher.

When Massa rejoined the race, he was behind the slower BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld. This compromised his pace, which gave the opportunity for Alonso to pass the Brazilian after his own pit stop on lap 15.

Michael Schumacher continued for another three laps, before he too had to change tyres and take on some fuel. He exited the pits ahead of his main championship rival with a five second advantage.

Now it became a battle for the race lead between the two greatest drivers of the modern era. It was fascinating to see Michael and Fernando setting fastest laps and split times. The pair was evenly matched but the gap remained around five seconds.

As the second round of pitstop approach, Schumacher gained an extra second after lapping a field of Red Bulls back markers and looked on course to take his eighth win of the year.

They pitted on consecutive laps but the order remained the same – Schumacher first with Alonso second. The Spaniard had a done a fine job despite starting fifth on the grid and would be happy to settle for second. But then came that moment for Michael…

Schumacher’s engine failure had transformed the outcome of the race and indeed the world championship. If the German finished in first with his main rival in second, we would have a fantastic prospect of a season-finale in Brazil with two points separating the two champions… But his Ferrari engine let go in spectacular fashion – his first in over six years(!) – and now he faces an extremely difficult challenge in Brazil in two weeks time.

Fernando Alonso takes the win in Suzuka’s final race after 20 years on the Formula One calendar with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa second and Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella in third.

Honda’s Jenson Button drove a solid race to finish in fourth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the McLaren. The Finn did a superb job in the 53-lap race to finish in P5 after qualifying outside the top ten. The two Toyotas of Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher lacked pace and finished sixth and seventh respectively with BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld taking the final point in eighth.

So an exciting and dramatic race, let’s hear what Alonso and Schumacher has to say after the 2006 Japanese Grand Prix.

World champion Fernando Alonso admitted he wasn’t expecting to win the Japanese Grand Prix, but the Spaniard claimed it was a deserved victory.

“At the beginning of the race I knew that we were not in good shape but we were competitive, as good as Ferrari,” said Alonso. “I took the risk to overtake Jarno (Trulli) because I knew there was one opportunity, and when I saw Ralf (Schumacher) had some problems with the car, I tried to get past him.

“The car’s performance was really consistent and really well balanced and after Michael’s problems the race became easy for us.

“The second stint with Michael the gap was more or less the same, 5.9, six seconds depending on traffic. And I was thinking it was possible to win the race, why not? We were only halfway through the race and five seconds behind, which was a surprise.

“I had so many problems in the last races. I lost a race in Hungary, I lost an engine in Monza so for sure I had to recover some lucky moment. I didn’t believe what a I was seeing, also to see a mechanical problem from a Ferrari car is not something it happens often, so it was the second surprise, the biggest surprise for me.”

And as for Michael Schumacher, he feels that the championship is now over and may have to concede the title to his main Spanish rival.

“The drivers’ title for me is finished, but we go to Brazil to win the constructors’,” Schumacher said at Suzuka after the race.

“Our team is great: the boys are the best I know. I’m very satisfied with all our mechanics and engineers in Ferrari. That’s racing. You win and lose together.

“Today we all tried hard, we were first but lost the engine. That’s Formula One. I’m not very disappointed. Life and racing is like this.

“We must be very proud of the work we’ve done, because in Canada we were 25 points behind, and neither you or others thought we’d come back, but we did. Now we are here, nine points behind in the constructors’.”

He might have a slim outside chance in Interlagos, if Fernando fails to finish and Michael takes the win. But the German prefers to concentrate on winning the constructors’ championship (now nine points behind Renault) in Brazil.

“First of all we’ll fight for the constructors’ title in Brazil. We’ll see what happens with the drivers’, but we’re ten points behind.

“I don’t want to think of a race I must win with the other not finishing. I don’t like that.”

So after a sensational Grand Prix, we now head to Brazil in two weeks time (October 22nd) for the season finale. Fernando Alonso will win his second consecutive drivers’ title if he finishes in the points (any where from first to eighth). As for Michael Schumacher, the best he can do is take the race win and pray that his main rival suffers a retirement.

Roll on Brazil!

Bauer Mac version 2.0

I finally got my new iMac and this replacement unit is now perfect. No dead pixels whatsoever and I’m extremely happy! Currently uploading all my applications, music, videos and personal files from the external Hard Drive to the desktop computer. This is a very long process and will take three hours to copy over 200 gigabytes.

Overall, I am pleased that I made the decision to return my original ‘defective’ iMac after suffering two stuck pixels. The new iMac renamed as ‘Bauer Mac version 2.0’ is now faultless.

Will take some photos soon revealing the true size of this beautiful 24-inch desktop.

Championship showdown. Who will win the ultimate prize in Formula One?

Schumacher and Alonso

This is it. After sixteen rounds of this year’s FIA Formula One World Championship, the two greatest drivers of the modern era – Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher – are now tied on points as we head into the final two races in this long season.

Both drivers are now level with 116 points apiece after Schumacher’s latest victory in China and the Ferrari team are currently on form after a series of race wins.

As for Renault and Alonso, they are determined to readdress the issue to claim the drivers’ and constructors’ title after a year long battle with the Italian manufacturer. At one point, the French team were leading by 25 points as Alonso was heading towards his second successive drivers’ crown.

But then came the setback in the second part of the season, in particular the ban on the mass damper system that affected the performance of the Renault R26. It seems the advantage has been shifted to the package of the Ferrari 248 chassis, Michael Schumacher and the Bridgestone tyres.

Renault are still leading the constructors’ championship, but by a small margin of a single point (179 to 178). A one-two finish in Suzuka will secure the manufacturers’ title for Flavio Briatore’s team. But everyone’s attention is on the drivers.

If Michael wins the race in Japan and Fernando fails to finish in the top eight or retires, then the drivers’ title will go to the German. This will be a fantastic achievement by the retiring champion after 15 years in Formula One.

Tyres will play a crucial role in the final two races with Bridgestone focusing on winning on their home track at Suzuka against tyre rival Michelin, who will leave the sport in Brazil in two weeks time.

So who will win the ultimate prize in Formula One? To be honest, I like to see Michael and Fernando to triumph, as both have driven superbly all year. But there can only be one winner. Let battle commence!

New iMac for Leaf – but no-one is around to collect it…

An update on my new iMac: Last week I returned the desktop computer back to Apple to get a free replacement. I wasn’t pleased after spending nearly £1,500 to have two ‘stuck’ pixels on the massive 24-inch screen…

After making a phone call to Apple about this, they agree to send me a replacement unit free of charge. Unfortunately, when it came to the time to pick up the new computer this week, no-one was around to receive it.

I was at work and my family were out of the house as the postman rang our doorbell… So that means I will have to wait until the weekend to get my hands on my Bauer Mac.

Hopefully the new iMac will be perfect with no dead pixels. If there is, then I will be pretty annoyed. Fingers crossed!

Scarlett Johansson named most Sexiest Woman Alive

Scarlett Johansson

One of my favourite actress, besides Elisha Cuthbert and Jennifer Aniston, has been named most beautiful-looking person this year.

Lost In Translation actress Scarlett Johansson has been awarded with a major honour as Esquire magazine’s Sexiest Woman Alive.

And to celebrate the 21-year-old actress beauty, Johansson’s new photographs appear in the November issue of the men’s lifestyle publication.

The Black Dahlia star wears a bra and a white Calvin Klein mini-dress on the cover, and then sends heartbeats pulsing inside with a series of scantily-clad poses as an “enigmatic trailer-park temptress.” Very nice!

But Johansson isn’t totally impressed by her new title, explaining, “What about my brain? What about my heart? What about my kidneys and my gallbladder?”

Never mind Scarlett. At least I find you are more gorgeous than that ‘pouty’ woman better known as Keira Knightley… (who is named FHM magazine Sexiest Woman this year)

Schumacher wins in China and takes the championship lead

Michael Schumacher Chinese Grand Prix

Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher takes the lead of the World Championship with his 91st career victory in the Chinese Grand Prix. The German is now level with his main championship rival, Fernando Alonso, with 116 points apiece.

This should have been Alonso’s race as he had the fastest car in the wet-dry conditions. At one point, the Spaniard was ahead of Michael as much as 25 seconds in the wet conditions earlier in the race. But during the first pit stop, Alonso had to change his front intermediates tyres, due to excessive wear on the left-front Michelin. The Renault team didn’t change the rear Michelins at all.

This was a bad mistake, as Alonso was now struggling with his combination of old tyres on the rear and new Michelins at the front. The Spaniard was now lapping the circuit three seconds slower than his previous pace… And his huge lead earlier on has evaporated.

Schumacher, who started the race in sixth, sensed the opportunity and was now directly behind the two Renaults of Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella. The Italian tried to hold up the fastest Ferrari by protecting his struggling team-mate as much as he could. But in the end, Giancarlo had to take the lead as a way of preventing Ferrari and Michael scoring maximum points.

Alonso simply didn’t have any grip in his Renault R26 at this point and on lap 31, Michael overtook his main rival at turn 2 to take second place.

Renault called in the Spaniard for a much-needed pit stop but then suffered a further delay when changing the intermediates to groove (slick) Michelins. The right-rear wheel had cross-threaded and this cost the driver 11 seconds. Alonso had now dropped down to sixth and was now nearly 50 seconds behind the leading pair of Giancarlo and Michael…

At this stage of the Grand Prix, the track developed a dry line and the cars running on groove slick tyres were now setting fastest laptimes then the cars still on intermediates. Alonso who had changed his worn-out Michelin was now driving his R26 at an incredible pace. Determined to reduce the gap between himself and Michael.

Michael Schumacher was now in the lead of the Grand Prix after pitting one lap earlier than Giancarlo. Michael gained the track position when Giancarlo went off line at turn 1 after switching from intermediates to grooves. Michael even put two wheels on the grass as the Italian tried to hold onto his position after exiting the pits… But it was too late as Michael took the lead on lap 42 and went on to win the race.

Alonso reduced the gap in those last few laps to finished 3.1 seconds behind his main rival. The Spaniard must be disappointed as he had the fastest car on the day – in any conditions – and he should have won the race without any problems. But the end result was that Michael Schumacher won and this means the two main rivals are now tie with 116 points as we head to the last two races of the season.

Giancarlo Fisichella finished in third behind his team-mate, but Renault must be feeling frustrated by this result. After dominating qualifying, a one-two finish would have been the perfect opportunity to claim back the drivers’ and constructors’ championship. Even Renault’s Director of Engineering, Pat Symonds, said it was “no excuses” not to win the Chinese Grand Prix.

“We are making no excuses today,” said Symonds. “This is a race we should have won, because the Renault and its Michelin tyres were dominant in all conditions.

“The fact we did not do so is intensely frustrating for the entire team.”

I have to agree. Renault had the fastest car in the dry and wet conditions but still managed to get beaten by Michael and Ferrari. As a small consolidation, the French manufacturer is now ahead of the Italian team by one point in the Constructors’ standings (179 points to 178 points).

Despite the setback, Alonso remains confident for the following race, the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, in a week’s time (October 8th).

“So it was a bad day, but this is a fantastic fight for the championship, and I go to Japan feeling really confident,” he said.

“We had the quickest car today, and we have two more good chances to win.

“I believe we can do it.

“In wet conditions we were much quicker and in dry also as well because of our times on Friday. But I am confident for the last two races,” he added.

“It doesn’t matter which feeling you have inside, the winner is Michael and he deserved the victory because he came in front of the other drivers.”

As for Michael, he can’t believe his luck after being disadvantage in the wet conditions in the earlier stages of the race. As the track dried out, the German hauled himself into contention and then capitalised on a tactical miscue and a botched pit stop for his arch-rival to score his 91st career win.

“I am so happy!” exclaimed the 37-year-old, who is aiming for an eighth world title before he retires from the sport at the end of the season.

“After the start, I was surprised to find that I could match the pace of those ahead of me, which was better than I had expected.

“After a while, I was able to close up on [Giancarlo] Fisichella.

“I thought that if I could pass him, even if I could not win, then at least I would only lose two points to Fernando and given where I started that would have been a good result.”

Michael’s fifth win in seven races has significantly reduced the championship lead to Alonso, when at one stage it was a gap of 25 points…

And with seven wins to his name compared to Alonso’s six. It is the German who has the upper hand with two races remaining.

“Looking back some while ago, it is quite a miracle that we are there,” Schumacher said of his comeback.

“But thanks to great work from everybody we managed it and we go to the last two races [with a strong chance of winning the title].

“Now we go to Suzuka, a track that I love.

“But it is difficult to make any predictions and as usual, tyre performance will be crucial.”

Indeed it will be, the Suzuka track is also the home race of Bridgestone. Can the Japanese tyre manufacturer provide a good compound for the potential 2006 champion in a week’s time?

Can Renault fight back? It has to if Alonso and the team want to win this year’s championship. No more excuses and mistakes. Let the battle commence!