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!

Replacing my iMac

As you know I’ve just purchase a new Intel Core 2 Duo powered iMac and at first, it was great. But after a few days I spotted two ‘stuck’ pixels on the 24-inch screen… It’s annoying to discover this.

Why so? Well I have just spent the whole weekend configuring the desktop computer to my personal taste and have copied over all my music, video and applications from my PC and PowerBook G4. Now that I’m getting a replacement (for free), I will need to back up over 200 gigabytes of data.

This took quite a while (around three hours) but hopefully, when I get my new iMac – Bauer Mac Version 2.0 – sometime next week it will be perfect.

In the meantime, I will go back to my faithful PowerBook G4 laptop.

Once I get my new model from Apple and it’s flawless, then I can take some photographs of my lovely 24-inch screen and show you how big it really is!

F1: The great design race

Renault F1

Formula One is one of my great passions in life and to visit a design exhibition based on my favourite sport is a dream come true.

At the Design Museum in London, a fascinating exhibit is on display showcasing the innovation in design and the advancements in technology over the past 50 years.

To see the racing cars up close is a wonderful experience. You can’t believe how much the sporting regulation and the use of materials have defined the look of these extreme machines.

Throughout the exhibition, there are number of display giving important information on the changing history of the sport. This includes the development in safety, car design and engine management.

In addition, there is a private screening area to watch archive footage of Formula One. The highlight was the on-board camera action from the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio and Ayrton Senna.

What was the best bit in the show? Seeing the suspended parts of Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella’s championship-winning Renault R25. It looked like a sculpture revealing the work of art in the design of the car.

If only I had the opportunity to sit inside one of the cockpit of these amazing cars…

Leaf’s new Apple iMac

Apple iMac

It’s here! My brand new Apple desktop computer is simply stunning. Super-fast performance by the new Intel Core 2 Duo processors. The screen ratio is a true High Definition, which means I can watch movies in the sharpest form possible.

Was very easy to set-up. Plug in the keyboard, mouse and the iMac to the mains. Switch it on and fill in some little details like your personal information, passwords and access to the Wi-Fi and you are done!

I just need to copy over all my music, video clips, documents and other personal files from my PowerBook G4 and my Sony Vaio. I brought a nice 500 gigabyte Hard Drive so I can store everything!

Currently setting up and updating my iMac to my personal taste. Will need to install Adobe Creative Suite 2 and see how it runs under Rosetta. Hopefully the Core 2 Duo and 2 gigabytes of RAM will make the applications run faster and smooth.

Am I impressed? Yes. Gorgeous screen. Astonishing performance. And the ability to watch TV and play games in near 1080i or 1080p is fantastic.



Brick is a film noir murder mystery set in the present-day and yet the characters talk and behave like 1940’s-style gangsters.

It may seem a bit unusual to have students speaking in this slang. But it works. Brendan Frye (played by the excellent Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is an intelligent, cynical high school student, self-exiled from the cliquish world of jocks, stoners, and socialites.

Brendan is left heart-broken two months after being dumped by his girlfriend Emily (Emilie de Ravin), who left him to pursue that world. Until, he receives a frightened phone call from the missing Emily asking for help. Emily mentioned some references to a “Brick” and “the Pin”, which prompts Brendan to investigate.

He does this in the movie detective style of Sam Spade (“The Maltese Falcon“), shaking things up with a relentless directness punctuated by well-timed acts of cunning.

Brendan enlists the aid of the Brain (Matt O’Leary), while keeping the assistant vice principal (Richard Roundtree) only occasionally informed of what quickly becomes a dangerous investigation.

His single-minded unearthing of the students’ secrets thrusts him headlong into the colliding social orbits of rich-girl sophisticate Laura (Nora Zehetner), intimidating Tugger (Noah Fleiss), substance-abusing Dode (Noah Segan), seductive Kara (Meagan Good), jock Brad (Brian J. White) and – most ominously – non-student the Pin (Lukas Haas).

Only by gaining acceptance into the Pin’s closely guarded inner circle of crime and punishment that Brendan will be able to uncover hard truths about himself, Emily and the suspects that he is getting closer to.

Writer and director Rian Johnson pays homage to the wonderful style of noir fiction. The look and feel of Brick fits into the genre despite having a modern contemporary feel.

The dialogue in this movie makes this distinctive and very different to other murder mysteries. Johnson drew heavily from the fiction of Dashiell Hammet (creator of Sam Spade) when writing.

By using this style of language, Johnson has created a list of characters that look extremely cool. Okay, it maybe difficult for the audience to understand but this linguistic style is how the older films used to be like.

Surprisingly, none of the main cast members were familiar with the literary and film sources from which their characters were drawn. This is remarkable, because their characterizations are spot on.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance is simply outstanding. He appears in every scene and plays the part so much like Humphrey Bogart. This is impressive as the last time I saw him in a leading role was in the hit TV comedy ‘3rd Rock From The Sun’.

It’s no surprise that Brick won the Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. It fully deserves it. Brick provides a unique experience, with fascinating characters, beautiful cinematography and wonderful (if confusing) dialogue.

Working on eMagi

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted that much on my web blog for the past few days. The reason? Been working on the eMagi site. With all the news on the new Apple products, the launch date of the exciting Nintendo Wii (which I have now pre-ordered) and other interesting stuff, my attention on my own web blog has been neglected.

But I won’t let this happen anymore. I will write some entertaining posts like film reviews, the latest on Formula One and other amusing stories so that this blog will always be the a place to read on the everyday life of the Leaf!

As for eMagi, I’m quite proud to contribute in writing articles to keep it fresh and informative. Please take a look at

Michael Schumacher wins, then announcing his retirement

Schumacher Monza 2006

It’s official. Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher will retire at the end of this year’s championship after announcing in the press conference – after winning his 90th Grand Prix at Monza – that he will leave Formula One.

Michael was very emotional as he revealed his decision to quit Formula One after the final three Grands Prix. He has enjoyed every moment in the sport, from driving at Benetton and winning his first two titles at the team, to moving to Ferrari and winning the drivers’ championship a record five times for the famous Italian manufacturer. But now, the German decides to call it a day after winning today’s Italian Grand Prix.

This is what the seven-times World Champion has to say after 15 years in Formula One:

“Words are not enough and whatever I could say now will never fully express how much I love this fascinating world of motor sport and all it has given me,” said Schumacher. “From go-karting to Formula One, I have lived through moments that I will never forget. I am profoundly grateful for everything I have had. I want to thank everyone who has accompanied me, supported and inspired me, right back to the days of my childhood.

“Above all, a special thanks goes to (my wife) Corinna and our two children, who have given me the strength to do what I have done. All these years in Formula One have been amazing, especially those spent alongside my friends in the Scuderia. Soon my future will belong to my family, while I am happy to be still part of Ferrari. But for now, what matters is this world championship.”

His Ferrari team also paid tribute to their great driver after so many successful seasons at the top.

“I had always said that the decision to retire would be his alone, but now that decision has been taken, I feel a sense of sadness,” commented Ferrari President and CEO, Luca di Montezemolo. “We have lived through some unforgettable times together, some good some bad, achieving results that will be hard to equal. To Michael goes the thanks of everyone in the company and supporters of Ferrari for all the dedication he has shown to our colours, for the determination and courage with which he has worked, which has provided immense satisfaction. He is both sincere and passionate and has earned the affection of all of us and of our fans. His relationship with Maranello will continue, albeit in a different form and I am very happy about that.”

“Michael has been the author of a unique chapter in the history of Formula One and of Ferrari in particular. It has yet to reach its conclusion and what he has achieved extends over and above the results obtained,” added Managing Director, Jean Todt. “He is an exceptional man and will become a legend as a driver. For me personally, he is a great friend and together we have lived through unrepeatable experiences. Having had the opportunity to work alongside him has been and will continue to be a privilege.”

As expected, Kimi Raikkonen will be joining the Scuderia Ferrari team in 2007 alongside Felipe Massa. The Finn, who finished in second position in the race, will leave McLaren-Mercedes to fill in the void left by Michael.

“Whilst I have taken the decision to leave Team McLaren Mercedes, I want to stress that I really enjoyed my time with the team,” said Raikkonen. “I have the deepest respect for everybody and will be giving my all in the remaining races.”

Kimi will drive for Ferrari for the next three years and he is determined to become World Champion for the famous Italian team. I believe he can actually do it due to the enormous resources provided by the Maranello-based team. I look forward to the on track rivalry between Massa and Raikkonen next year. Though, I would prefer the idea of Schumacher challenging the young Finn in the red cars…

Anyway, let’s talk about the race itself in which Michael has significantly reduced the championship points to Renault’s Fernando Alonso.

The German won the Italian Grand Prix in commending style ahead of Kimi Raikkonen (second) and an impressive Robert Kubica (third for BMW-Sauber).

McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen started the race on pole position but didn’t have the speed to beat Michael in the Ferrari. Despite this, the Finn will be satisfied to finish the Grand Prix in second.

Robert Kubica, who finished in third, drove an impressive race in the BMW-Sauber. I am impressed by Kubica’s performances in the last three Grands Prix and to finish on the podium is remarkable.

Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella finished in fourth after a one-stop strategy. Honda’s Jenson Button was fifth ahead of his team-mate Rubens Barrichello (who finished in sixth). Jarno Trulli drove a solid race in the Toyota to come home seventh with a disappointing Nick Heidfeld (who originally started in third) in P8 in the BMW-Sauber.

As for Michael’s main championship rival, Fernando Alonso, he suffered an engine failure after 44 laps of the 53-lap race. This ended the Spaniard’s shocking weekend after being penalised for ‘impeding’ Felipe Massa during qualifying…

Despite starting tenth, he made steady progress up the grid thanks to his Renault’s pitstops. He was in P3 behind the faster Ferrari and McLaren before his engine let go…

Ferrari are now ahead of Renault in the Constructors’ championship by three points, while Schumacher is now only two points behind Alonso. The next race is the Chinese Grand Prix in three weeks time. Can Renault and the current World Champion fight back and retain their title?