Vettel leads Red Bull one-two in thrilling race at Spa


Championship leader Sebastian Vettel took his seventh Grand Prix victory of the season in a thrilling Belgian Grand Prix. He led home a Red Bull Racing one-two with Mark Webber close behind following a bad start off the grid.

This was the perfect result for Vettel following three disappointing races. To win his seventeenth career Grand Prix at the magnificent Spa-Francorchamps circuit, Vettel is well on his way to take the drivers’ title come the end of the championship.

McLaren’s Jenson Button made some stunning overtaking manoeuvres to recover from P13 to finish in third. His team-mate Lewis Hamilton had to retire following a clash with Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi.

Fernando Alonso was a contender for race victory but fell down to fourth in the final stint on the Prime tyre.

As for Michael Schumacher, celebrating his twentieth anniversary since making his Formula One debut, the seven-time world champion drove a solid race from last on the grid to take fifth, ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.

A chaotic start had seen Mark Webber stutter off the grid (once again) and fall from third to eighth, as Nico Rosberg burst through to second and then slipstream past Vettel to take a shock lead for Mercedes by Les Combes, with Felipe Massa, Hamilton and the fast-starting Alonso next up.

Rosberg’s lead lasted until lap three, when Vettel activated his Drag Reduction System and eased ahead on the Kemmel Straight. But the tyre issues that had been feared prior to the race started early for the Red Bulls, with Webber pitting after just three laps, and Vettel coming in from the lead next time around due to blistering.

That put Rosberg back in front, though he had Alonso right behind as the Spaniard had swiftly passed Hamilton, then outbraked team-mate Massa when the sister Ferrari lost momentum in a failed move on Rosberg. Hamilton also capitalised to further demote Massa as the shuffle unfolded.

By lap seven Alonso used a combination of DRS and KERS to sweep past Rosberg on the Kemmel Straight to move into the lead, with Hamilton doing likewise on the following lap.

The Ferrari and McLaren managed to keep their initial tyres intact until laps eight and eleven respectively, but the Red Bulls’ earlier pit stops had worked out better for them – and as Hamilton pitted from the lead, Vettel was sweeping around the outside of Rosberg in an epic move into Blanchimont ready to head the field again.

Shortly beforehand, Webber had produced a similarly spectacular move on Alonso into the Eau Rouge as the Ferrari emerged from its pit stop, though Alonso would repass the Red Bull next time around.

Hamilton’s challenge then ended on lap 13, when a brush of wheels with the yet-to-pit Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber on the run into Les Combes. The McLaren spun into the barriers, prompting a safety car period.

With the Safety Car out on track, Vettel immediately pitted for a fresh set of Pirellis, which meant that although Alonso was able to lead again from the restart, the champion was soon easing ahead once more with a DRS pass.

From then onwards Vettel was effectively untouchable, pulling away from Alonso through the next stint and clinching his first win since Valencia. When the Ferrari switched to the Prime for the final run to the chequered flag, Alonso’s pace tailed off dramatically and he found himself being passed by first Webber, then Button.

The Hungarian Grand Prix winner had driven another epic race, getting the Prime tyre out of the way in the first stint, then overtaking car after car to move himself into podium contention. Button secured his place on the rostrum by passing the troubled Alonso with two laps left.

Michael Schumacher took a superb fifth place from the back of the grid – like Button using the Prime tyre in the opening stint then charging spectacularly. His Mercedes team-mate Rosberg drifted back to sixth as the race progressed, ahead of Force India’s Adrian Sutil and the Renault of Vitaly Petrov.

An additional pit stop to replace a deflating tyre left Massa in ninth spot, while Pastor Maldonado put behind his qualifying controversy to score the final point for Williams.

Bruno Senna’s return to Formula One resulted in P13 for Renault. This was a bad result following his impressive qualifying form. It didn’t help he was quite ambition at La Source which ended in a tangle with Jaime Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso. This first-corner clash earned the Brazilian a drive-through penalty.

Virgin’s Timo Glock was also given a drive-through after being adjudged to have triggered further multi-car mayhem at the back end of the pack.

So a great result for Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing. His lead in the drivers’ championship looks increasingly omnipresent with 259 points, ahead of Webber on 167, Alonso on 157, Button on 149 and Hamilton on 146. Massa remains sixth with 74, but Schumacher’s fifth hoists him clear of the ninth-place scrap with 42 points to Rosberg’s 56.

In the constructors’, Red Bull Racing had a very profitable day, garnering 43 points to bring their leading score to 426 ahead of McLaren on 295 and Ferrari on 231.

Belgian Grand Prix race results, 44 laps:

1.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault           1h26.44.893
2.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault           +3.741s
3.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes           +9.669s
4.  Alonso        Ferrari                    +13.022s
5.  Schumacher    Mercedes                   +47.464s
6.  Rosberg       Mercedes                   +48.674s
7.  Sutil         Force India-Mercedes       +59.713s
8.  Massa         Ferrari                    +1m06.076s
9.  Petrov        Renault                    +1m11.917s
10.  Maldonado     Williams-Cosworth         +1m17.615s
11.  Di Resta      Force India-Mercedes       +1m23.994s
12.  Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari             +1m31.976s
13.  Senna         Renault                    +1m32.985s
14.  Trulli        Lotus-Renault              +1 lap
15.  Kovalainen    Lotus-Renault              +1 lap
16.  Barrichello   Williams-Cosworth          +1 lap
17.  D’Ambrosio    Virgin-Cosworth            +1 lap
18.  Glock         Virgin-Cosworth            +1 lap
19.  Liuzzi        HRT-Cosworth               +1 lap

Fastest lap: Massa, 1:23.415

Not classified/retirements:

Perez         Sauber-Ferrari               27 laps
Ricciardo     HRT-Cosworth                 13 laps
Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes             12 laps
Buemi         Toro Rosso-Ferrari           6 laps
Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari           1 lap

World Championship standings, round 11:                

1.  Vettel       259
2.  Webber       167
3.  Alonso       157
4.  Button       149
5.  Hamilton     146
6.  Massa         74
7.  Rosberg       56
8.  Schumacher    42
9.  Petrov        34
10.  Heidfeld      34
11.  Kobayashi     27
12.  Sutil         24
13.  Buemi         12
14.  Alguersuari   10
15.  Di Resta       8
16.  Perez          8
17.  Barrichello    4
18.  Maldonado      1

1.  Red Bull-Renault          426
2.  McLaren-Mercedes          295
3.  Ferrari                   231
4.  Mercedes                   88
5.  Renault                    68
6.  Sauber-Ferrari             35
7.  Force India-Mercedes       32
8.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         22
9.  Williams-Cosworth           5

Next race: Italian Grand Prix, Monza. September 9-11.

Vettel denies Hamilton from pole in Spa


Sebastian Vettel maintains Red Bull Racing’s excellent qualifying form with yet another pole position, this time at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps.

The championship leader achieved his eighth pole of the season with a time of one minute, 48.298 seconds, to denied McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton from the top spot by a margin of four tenths of a second.

After setting the fastest time in two of the practice sessions at the Belgian Grand Prix, Mark Webber had to settle with third, with Felipe Massa once again out-qualifying his Ferrari team-mate to take fourth.

But the major talking point in this wet/dry qualifying session was a bizarre incident involving the Williams of Pastor Maldonado and Lewis Hamilton in Q2.

As track conditions rapidly improved and the lap times turned inside out, Hamilton banged his wheels with Maldonado going through the Bus Stop chicane as the McLaren completed a flying lap just as the chequered flag was out.

That moment elevated Hamilton to the top of the leader board but on the slowing-down lap, Maldonado appeared to retaliate for the contact on the run out of La Source, sideswiping the McLaren, which then needed minor impromptu repairs for the start of Q3.

Unfortunately the second McLaren of Jenson Button was out following the late-Q2 scramble, leaving the winner of the Hungarian Grand Prix down in P13 on the grid.

The end of Q3 was a similar topsy-turvy as the circuit began to dry out. Felipe Massa was able to take advantage of the improve track condition to out qualify his Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso for only the second time this season as they took fourth and eighth respectively.

Nico Rosberg put his Mercedes in fifth, while Jaime Alguersuari continue to impressive with an excellent sixth for Toro Rosso.

But the real hero of qualifying was Bruno Senna. The Brazilian was drafted in to replace Nick Heidfeld and despite not driving since Abu Dhabi last season, he was quick throughout qualifying and in the end, recorded the seventh fastest time on his debut for Renault. That’s three positions ahead of team-mate Vitaly Petrov, who shares row five with Sauber’s Sergio Perez.

Rosberg was the only Mercedes in the top ten as his team-mate was out even before setting a flying lap… Twenty years after making his Formula 1 debut in the Jordan – in which he qualified a superb seventh – Michael Schumacher’s anniversary weekend went dramatically downhill when his Mercedes shed a right-rear wheel on its out-lap at the start of Q1 and crashed heavily on the approach to Rivage, leaving the seven-time world champion at the tail end of the field.

Neither Williams made it beyond Q2, with Rubens Barrichello in P14 and Maldonado initially in P16. A five-grid penalty was given to the latter hours after qualifying for causing a collision and so Maldonado will start the race in P21. Adrian Sutil lines up P15 after crashing his Force India on the way out of Eau Rouge while holding fifth in Q2. A red flag was required while the debris was cleared up.

That completed a miserable qualifying session for Force India as a spin on his final Q1 run had already left Paul di Resta down in P17. With Schumacher and di Resta both missing the cut, Heikki Kovalainen made it to Q2 for Team Lotus and will start in P16.

Qualifying times from Spa-Francorchamps:

1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m48.298s
2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1m48.730s
3.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m49.376s
4.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m50.256s
5.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m50.552s
6.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m50.773s
7.  Bruno Senna           Renault              1m51.121s
8.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m51.251s
9.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari       1m51.374s
10.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault              1m52.303s
11.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari   2m04.692s
12.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       2m04.757s
13.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     2m05.150s
14.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth    2m07.349s
15.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 2m07.777s
16.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault        2m08.354s
17.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 2m07.758s
18.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault        2m07.773s
19.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth      2m09.566s
20.  Jerome D’Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth      2m11.601s
21.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth    2m08.106s*
22.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth         2m11.616s
23.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth         2m13.077s
24.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes             no time

107% time: 2m10.339s

*Five-place grid penalty for colliding with Lewis Hamilton at the end of Q2

Forza Motorsport 4 fever

This is Microsoft’s answer to the ‘real driving simulator’ with the superb Forza Motorsport series from developer Turn 10 Studios. The latest title for the Xbox 360 – Forza Motorsport 4 – features Kinect support, which can track your head movement while racing and when exploring the inner beauty of your desirable exotic cars in Autovista mode.

Even though I am a fan of Sony’s Gran Turismo series, I felt the latest instalment on the PlayStation 3 lacked something… the feeling of competing wheel-to-wheel in a race and fighting for track position in a highly competitive field of cars. Sure, the sensation of driving is quite accurate with realistic handling in terms of tyre grip and performance but in terms of game play, Gran Turismo 5 felt a little sterile and to be brutally honest, dull.

Since purchasing the Xbox 360, I have been enjoying many fantastic racing games with the likes of DiRT, Project Gotham Racing 4, Test Drive Unlimited and of course Forza Motorsport 2 and 3.

It took me over a hundred hours to fully complete Forza Motorsport 3, unlocking faster and powerful cars while progressing the World Tour Mode. The sense of achievement in winning championship races or endurance events was a great feeling and I love the idea in which you can customise any car with colourful liveries and decals.

In addition, the Xbox Live multiplayer mode was fantastic and I remember spending hours racing against my mates fighting tooth and nail to be number one! The Xbox Marketplace was also the place to download new cars, tracks and liveries thanks to the enthusiasm of Forza Motorsport fans.

The level of detail was astonishing with beautiful rendering of the cars and tracks. The game play can be fully customise to provide a challenge and for once, competing against the AI rivals felt like you are actually racing instead of follow the leader and sticking to the racing line…

With the news that Forza Motorsport 4 for the Xbox 360 is out in October, it will be fascinating to see whether the new features will improve the quite excellent Forza Motorsport 3 even further.

Well, first impressions are the visuals (check out the YouTube videos of the trailers above). It looks fantastic, in particular the interior shots. The new Autovista mode, which features Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson giving his opinion about the cars, reveal the true attention to detail that the developer Turn 10 Studios has focus on in this new game.

In fact, Turn 10 Studios has scored an exclusive deal with the BBC with a multiple year partnership with the popular motoring show. The content provided by the BBC’s BAFTA award-winning television show Top Gear, will include narration from presenter Jeremy Clarkson during the virtual showroom navigation (Autovista), the Top Gear test track at Dunsfold aerodrome plus the ability to take part in the ‘Star in a Reasonably Price Car’ challenge in the Kia Cee’d. Not only that, Forza Motorsport 4 will include the classic Top Gear ‘Car Football’ as part of the World Tour Mode, plus a Top Gear bowling mini game, both set on the official Top Gear test track.

It all sounds so good with the Top Gear partnership and yet Turn 10 has spoil us even more with the news that the game is officially partnered with the American Le Mans Series for two years. This new arrangement will see in-game ALMS themed events featuring the cars and tracks raced in the series.

I have already pre-ordered the Limited Collector’s Edition off which features exclusive downloadable content including a dashboard theme and various car packs available on Xbox Live. Not only that, a 96-page volume entitled ‘Cars of Forza Motorsport 4 Presented By Top Gear’, written by the editors from Top Gear magazine.

Roll on October 14 (European release date) for Forza Motorsport 4!

Cobb BBQ: The Ultimate Portable BBQ

The Cobb BBQ really is the ultimate in portable BBQs. This thing goes anywhere you can and even carried there while cooking on it!

Originally developed for use in Africa, it meant people could cook in rural areas without electricity and minimising the risk of causing fires using dried corn cobs for fuel. Since it’s inception, it has been developed and improved and is now a world wide success. Needing only a few charcoal briquettes or just a single Cobble Stone, this is more than just a BBQ. It’s a portable cooking system with the ability to smoke, fry (stir and griddle), grill, bake and even make pizzas on. It’s unique design means you can put it anywhere and even pick it up while cooking, thanks to it’s stay cool sides and base. The heat source is isolated within the base so there is no direct contact to the outside of the cooker.

There really is no limit to what you can cook on this, from the usual burgers to whole chickens and joints. Around the where you add the briquettes is a moat where you can add water, beer or wine to keep your food moist or add flavour. The moat also acts as fat collector as the bundled grill grid is slightly dome with holes around the edge, so any fat can run off into the moat. This means there are no flare-ups and little smoke, so you can even use this indoors! You can also add veg or small potatoes in the moat to cook so a proper Sunday roast can be made on this thing.

Right, that’s the story, now what is it like, really. Hah! It’s awesome! Having done all manner of things on it I can confirm this is brilliant. As I mentioned, this is more than just a BBQ, it’s more like a charcoal oven (as described by The Hairy Bikers). Using the lid is essential for cooking most things, due to the fact that your only using a few briquettes it needs the lid to create the heat needed. During the first few uses, means you must suppress the temptation to keep checking the food. However the flip side to this is it makes for a more sociable cook, as you can relax and have a drink or more with your friends and family.

My first attempt with the Cobb was jacket potatoes and the Cobble Stone as the heat source. The Stones are made from Bamboo and wood, which come as a single round brick that fits perfectly in the heat rack. Just light, wait for 4-5 minutes and your ready to cook with enough heat for 2 hours. Having just microwaved potatoes for a few minutes to give them a head start, they were drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with rock salt and wrapped in foil. Using an additional grill rack that sits onto of the holed grill, allows the food to suspended above the heat just like a traditional BBQ. With the lid on about 60 minutes later then were done to perfection. Crispy skins and hot fluffy insides, nice.

Further attempts were the usual affair with burgers, sausages and the like. All came out great and using some cherry tree wood chunks placed on top of the Cobble Stone gave them a great taste, though it does mean indoor cooking is a no-no due to the smoke. My most recent use was the big one, a whole chicken. Seasoned with some rub and stuff with a lemon and rosemary with wine poured into the moat. Cheap wine is only required given the amount needed and primitive requirements from coking with it. Fearing the time needed to cook throughly, I used some highly recommended Australian Heat Beads. These burn very hot for a bit longer than the Cobble Stones, it is also easy to add more if needed. Around 80 minutes later the chicken was excellent, being flavoursome, moist and well cooked.

Make no mistake, this is not a party cooking machine. Being portable means it’s not got the biggest cooking area and needing to keep the lid on, means en masse cooking needs a bit of organising. But that’s not the point of the Cobb. So, up to this point, there has been no failures, just great food. Bad things? Well yes there are a couple. By the time you add all the accessories it’s not cheap, £200 nearly for everything in the range. There are five cooking pans if you will and I have and want to use all of them, then the bamboo chopping board is great as you can put the meat on it to rest with the lid on top to keep wee beasties out. The board has a groove around the edge so the lid sits perfectly on without sliding should you need to move it. I didn’t get it at the time, but you can get an extension to the lid so you have more room inside to cook bigger chickens etc, and that is needed also in my opinion.

The other bad thing is cleaning it. On a traditional BBQ, you’ll probably just clean the cooking rack and that’s it. Here, you need to clean everything and since it’s a cooker (BBQ that means grease) oil, burnt bits and all. While it’s not too bad at home with hot soapy water and a wire scourer (it’s also dishwasher safe), camping out will require hot water. Just in a tent in a field? Hmm not so good.

But overall, I just love it. I’ve always wanted a proper smoker, but most are too big and if you only want to do a chicken or some ribs, it s bit overkill. So this is perfect to smaller things, is very easy to use and given it can go anywhere, cleaning aside, very practical. Highly recommended indeed.

Here’s some useful links:

US Cobb website
UK site


Article by Invisiblekid.

The magical appeal of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

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It is considered to be the best video game ever as voted by industry experts and gamers alike when it first appeared on the Nintendo N64 console back in 1998 and now thirteen years later, the remake for the Nintendo 3DS means we get to re-experience The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in full three dimension goodness.

I have to admit that I miss out on the opportunity to play this classic game when it first came out on the N64. Back then, my main gaming console was the Sony PlayStation. I was playing the likes of Gran Turismo, Formula One and Metal Gear Solid, so I wasn’t aware of how important this game became among the Nintendo gamers.

The amount of appraiser for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was amazing (and it still is!). It received top scores from magazine reviews and huge favouritism from fans that in the end, the game became a true legacy for Nintendo. I am not surprised by the amount of copies sold around the world over the years and the various re-releases on different formats – Virtual Console, iQUE Player and the Nintendo GameCube – that is shows the true popularity in this epic action-adventure video game.

Since purchasing the 3DS – the latest handheld gaming console from Nintendo, which has the ability to show 3D visuals without the aid of special glasses – it was essential for me to purchase this game. Not because it was the game to play at this moment of time, but for the reason of why it was so popular.

After playing over 39 hours – with constant re-charging due to the poor battery life on the 3DS – I now realise why The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is so special.

The level designs especially the dungeons are a work of genius. The puzzle element works well and you get a sense of achievement when you defeat the various bosses and temples as you progress through this epic game.

The soundtrack is simply beautiful. Playing the various ocarina tunes is a pure delight as some can reveal secrets!

As for the game play, in the role of Link, the 3D visuals and motion control work fantastically well, that you feel engaged in the world of Hyrule. The element of time travel thanks to the ocarina is great and meeting different characters on your adventures made it addictive.

Since defeating the evil Ganondorf and unlocking the Master Quest mode, I am in a 50/50 situation whether to begin a new adventure – this time on a harder difficulty – or play some other games I have downloaded on the 3DS system thanks to the excellent Nintendo eShop.

Here’s the game in action. I do love the music in this!

Actually, I might go back to Hyrule and replay it after watching this YouTube trailer! Best to start a new game save…