Autosport goes British Racing Green

This week’s issue of my favourite motor racing magazine, Autosport, features the familiar colour of British Racing Green on the masthead. The ‘green’ is to signify a momentous sense of occasion in British motorsport and in this particular case, the first Grand Prix win for Jenson Button last Sunday.

I have always enjoy reading this magazine as it provides me all the news with detailed analysis and fasinating stories on my favourite sport. I’ve never miss a copy and this week’s edition is a cause of celebration for Button’s maiden victory.

Photoshop challenge

On the Eternal Sunset forum, there are two threads challenging members to create some adverts for the Nintendo Wii and possible film posters featuring video game characters. Well, this looks like fun I thought and spent the next few minutes producing my masterpieces in Adobe’s Photoshop CS2.

My first image is a believable press advert to promote Nintendo’s new console, Wii. Playing around on the idea of a ‘hands on’ approach with the Wiimote and the slang for pleasuring yourself… In addition, included one of my favourite character in Super Monkey Ball. Nice.

The second image took me a while to do – finding the required elements on Google, adjusting the filter features in Photoshop – but the end result looks fantastic. Based on a movie I like. 😉

I wonder what everyone wil say about my Photoshop skills?

Villeneuve leaves BMW Sauber by mutual consent

Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve has left BMW Sauber with immediate effect in a move which could bring his Formula One career to an end.

The French-Canadian’s contract was due to expire at the end of this season, but has been terminated by mutual consent.

Vileneuve was replaced by test driver Robert Kubica for last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix after the Canadian told the Hinwil-based squad he was not ready to race following his shunt at Hockenheim.

But it now seems that the crash hastened his exit from the team, although he still had five races to run on his contract.

BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen said in a team statement: ”Jacques has performed well for us this year, scoring the team’s first grand prix points in Malaysia.

“He has made a significant contribution to developing the newly formed BMW Sauber F1 Team and the performance of the car.

“However, after Jacques’ accident in the Hockenheim race the team decided to review its options for next year, including assessing Robert Kubica in a race environment.

“Our decision to look towards evaluating our driver line up has naturally impacted Jacques’ position for the remainder of this season.

“We fully understand that it is difficult for Jacques to maintain his natural level of commitment in circumstances of uncertainty.

“We respect his position and wish him well for the future.”

Such a shame to see Villeneuve go as he was driving so much better this season compared to 2005. I will miss the Canadian’s driving in Formula One and his unique, fun personality. I wish him all the best and would love to see him drive a race car again…

…And if the rumours are true, we could see Jacques racing in NASCAR, like a certain Colombian who left Formula One last month. Two F1 stars racing on ovals? Oh yes.

Victory for Jenson Button – at last!

Finally Jenson Button has won a Grand Prix. After 113 starts in Formula One, the Honda driver charged though to take his first win of his racing career and it amazing considering he started the race in P14 on the grid!

The Hungarian Grand Prix was filled with incidents and action throughout the 70 lap race. It was the first time in 21 years that the Hungaroring was a wet race and the first rain-effected Grand Prix this year. Wet weather conditions always provide a real challenge to the drivers and can often provide top racing entertainment. And in this case, the Hungarian Grand Prix was the best race of the season and it surprising to say the least considering how difficult to overtake on this narrow and twisty track.

Anyway, at the start McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen led the 22-car field from pole position. The Finn was leading in the early stages, but lost the lead to the flying Renault of Fernando Alonso (who started in P15). Then on lap 26, he collided into the back of Vitantonio Liuzzi’s lapped Toro Rosso.

His team-mate Pedro de la Rosa was close behind and witness the shunt between the two cars. Kimi retired on the spot – bringing out the Safety Car – while Liuzzi returned to the pits and was out of the race.

After the Safety Car period, it was a race between Alonso and Button, who both drove superbly from the mid-pack to the front. Alonso held track position and was looking towards a well-deserved victory (to keep his lead in the championship) but after his second pit-stop, his Renault suffered a rare driveshaft failure… And Alonso was out! Now Button is in the lead and the Brit held on to score an emotional victory.

As for Michael Schumacher, who started the race ahead of Alonso and Button on the grid (P11), the German was struggling for grip with his Bridgestone tyres. In fact, he was lapping a couple of seconds slower than the leading Michelin runners (Raikkonen, Button and Alonso). The wet tyres (intermediate) from Michelin was working a treat – offering grip and confidence to the drivers.

Michael Schumacher was overtaken by his championship rival Alonso not once, but twice! The first time for race position and the second time, to lap him! In the later stages, Micheal’s Bridgestones was wearing out and he was losing grip. This allowed McLaren’s De la Rosa to close up and challenge the Ferrari driver for a podium position. The Spanaird had the grip – after changing to groove (dry weather) tyres when the track was drying out – and Michael was in a desperate situation to defend his race position. The McLaren driver made his move on Michael at the chicane, but the seven-time World Champion refused to give way and cut across the chicane. Michael had to let him through but didn’t… A lap later, De la Rosa passed the Ferrari with a clean move at the same corner and he was now in second position.

Now it was Nick Heidfeld’s turn to overtake the slow Ferrari. Nick was watching closely at the Perdo and Michael battle in his BMW Sauber. Once De la Rosa was passed, it was his turn. He went down the inside of the Ferrari at the same chicane but contact was made! Michael turned into him (possibly?) and came out the worst. Heidfeld gained the track position – third – and he went on to finish. But Michael had damaged his 248 Ferrari and had to retire…

With Michael and Fernando not scoring any points this weekend, the championship battle remains the same – 11 points between them – and will resume the duel in Turkey in three weeks time.

But a fantastic day for Jenson Button. Not since the Australian Grand Prix three years ago when David Coulthard was victorious (in his McLaren) has a British driver won in Formula 1. Sixty-three long races past and it so nice to see a new winner on the top step of the podium. Jenson drove faultlessly from fourteenth on the grid. Avoiding trouble and incidents. Was setting faster laptimes than Fernando in the middle stage of the race and held on to a popular win. Will this be the first of many for Jenson?

Perdo de la Rosa finished his career-best with second in the McLaren. His only mistake was spinning during the formation lap! The Spanaird drove a solid race and can be proud of his achievement in the MP4-21. BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld came third and this was the team’s best result since rebranded as a BMW team.

Honda’s Rubens Barrichello finished fourth ahead of David Coulthard’s Red Bull Racing (P5) and Ralf Schumacher’s Toyota (P6). Polish superstar Robert Kubica drove an impressive race to finish in the points with seventh, despite spinning twice and damaging the front nose of his BMW Sauber! And in eighth, it’s Felipe Massa who had a frustrating time in the Ferrari. The Brazilian was struggling for grip. Spun twice and got lapped… At least he set the fastest lap as a small consolation.

UPDATE: Michael Schumacher has gained a valuable single point after the race stewards disqualified Robert Kubica’s BMW Sauber from the result. His car was found to be underweight…

Schumacher is now 10 points behind Alonso as we take a three-week break. Battle continues in Turkey on August 27.

Singing sensation

Today I purchased the latest SingStar game for the PS2 – SingStar Anthems – and judging by the 20-track available on this version of the popular singing game, I feel the music selection is by far the weakest in the series.

Take That featuring Lulu – ‘Relight My Fire’ (No thanks)
Pussycat Dolls – ‘Don’t Cha’ (What?!?)
Charlotte Church – ‘Crazy Chick’ (Err…)

The only tracks that I seem to be able to sing (as I heard it on the radio) are Scissor Sisters – ‘Laura’ and Queen – ‘Radio Ga Ga’ (Looking forward to see that amazing music video).

I still prefer the previous SingStar games, with my favourite being the original and SingStar Rocks! In fact, I have achieved some fantastic scores on some of my most-liked tracks:

A-Ha – ‘Take On Me’ (I can easily get 9,000 points on this 80s hit!)
Atomic Kitten – ‘Eternal Flame’ (I am so good on this one. 8,000 – 9,000 points)
Madonna – ‘Like a Virgin’ (Classic but tricky. 8,800 – 9,200 points)
Franz Ferdinand – ‘Take Me Out’ (My favourite. 9,500 points )
The Police – ‘Every Breath You Take’ (Absolute classic. Not a high score though… 7,000 – 8,200 points)
Nirvana – ‘Come As You Are’ (Fab song. 8,900 – 9,100 points)
Kasabian – ‘Club Foot’ (Around 9,000 points)

Impressive, non? And yet, I’m feeling a little disappointed by the reduced track list in the new game. Perhaps the PlayStation 3, with the ability to download new songs, can ‘relight my fire’ (sorry) as a singing sensation?

To be honest, I have been playing the excellent Guitar Hero more than singing. With rockin’ tunes and the ability to pull off amazing chords seems more rewarding for a ‘wannbee’ guitarist than a ‘Pop Idol’. 😉

Forum post > Walking Leaf’s blog

I have decided to upload all of my existing posts featured in the Eternal Sunset forums here on my blog. These will include all of my Formula One race reports, films, TV shows and other interesting stuff. I’ve noticed that there is a ‘post time stamp’ feature in Word Press, so I can post the articles in it’s original posting date.

Right, time to multitask with the ES forum, my blog and ImageShack/Flickr for hosting images. Will take a while…

Pixar’s take on NASCAR and Route 66

Just returned from the cinema after watching Pixar’s latest movie, Cars and I have to be honest, it’s not that great… Sure, the visuals and the CGI work by the talented Pixar’s animators are super impressive. In some scenes, it looked photo-realistic. The car models based on well-known, everyday cars like a Fiat 500, Porsche 911 and Ferraris look like the real deal. The landscape around the famous Route 66 (the road that goes across North America) is breathtaking and the atmosphere is just perfect.

But it’s let down by the story. You would have expected high standards from Pixar (especially after Toy Story and The Incredibles), but you end up feeling disappointed. It starts off with excitement and speed when we see the arrogant race car ‘Lightning McQueen’ (voiced by Owen Wilson) racing in a NASCAR-type race on the verge of super stardom. Then we get the middle part of the movie when the pace grinds to a halt… The story now focuses on the slow life at Radiator Springs, where McQueen is stranded after being left behind on the highway.

The red race car is sentenced to community service by Doc Hudson (voiced by Paul Newman) in order to fix the damaged road. During his time at Radiator Springs, McQueen discovers that racing is not important and that there are other significant issues in life – that of true friendship and helping out each other.

McQueen then returns back to the race track to win the Piston Cup in a three-race duel for the championship. At this point, the story returns back to the exciting and entertaining racing action.

In terms of the characters, the personality gives out as eccentric, loyal, friendly and charming. But I feel there is a sense of stereotyping. For example, the Fiat 500 is a typical Italian who loves Ferrari. The VW camper van seems to be a 1960s hippie. And as for Mater, he was quite amusing (in a disoriented state) but was slightly irritating.

The best performers were Owen Wilson in the lead character role and Paul Newman. It’s nice to hear the legendary actor providing advice to the young hotshot during the final race just like what Newman does in the real Champ Cars! (Paul Newman is a co-owner of the Newman/Haas racing team)

However, ultimately, the cast is somewhat unmemorable and lacking in diversity. Despite some guest voices from motor racing legends like Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Michael Schumacher and Mario Andretti. The UK version of the film features Jeremy Clarkson, leading motoring journalist and Top Gear presenter as McQueen’s manager, Harv.

Overall, I would say Cars is a visual masterpiece but lack the sophisticated comedy we’ve come to expect from John Lasseter and his team. In terms of comparing other Pixar films, this is better than A Bug’s Life but could not match the wonders of Toy Story. A good film, but not fantastic.

Elisha Cuthbert’s blogs

One of my favourite actress, Elisha Cuthbert a.k.a. Kim Bauer from the real-time TV drama 24, has her own web blog. She is a passionate hockey fan as this is Canada’s main sport. It’s interesting to read her comments regarding the National Hockey League (NHL).

In addition, found this on Google. I don’t know if the real Elisha posted these articles, but it’s pretty much up to date with the latest news on her movie career.

Now I wonder if Kiefer Sutherland has one? 😉

Skype conversations

I love talking to everyone on Skype. The conversations between Emily, Jade, Luna, Mike, Josh, Yas, Rob and Janus is entertaining and enjoyable. Though my sense of humour and observation will always cause people to question my views on life! 😉

Last night’s Skype chat was great. Though my PC kept on crashing all the time… From now on, I’m using my Apple PowerBook’s version of Skype as it’s more stable (reliable) and quiet. The fan on the back of my Sony Vaio desktop PC is damn loud! Need to clean out the dust or do something in the BIOS.

The dialogue went from cookies, to Jade’s underwear(!), money, education and finally Animal Crossing. In fact, Luna and Jade was playing this popular game on their Nintendo DS via Wi-Fi and trading items like coconut and fruit!

Received a surprising message from Emily and Josh in Spain. They are on holiday this week and Emily’s message was nice and unexpected. Glad she enjoyed talking to the Leaf despite hundred of miles away in sunny Europe.

Will talk to everyone again later on. Need to visit Luna’s town in Wi-Fi mode in Animal Crossing I think.

Back to work…

After a week’s holiday to get away from the stress, it’s back to work and boy, was I feeling quite tired when I got up this morning (it didn’t help I went to bed late last night after chatting to Luna, Jade, Janus, Mike and Yas on Skype…) Been so lazy over the last few days, with long lie-ins in bed. But I have to get used to getting up around 7am instead of 1pm from now on…

Arrived at work, quite refreshed after sleeping on the comfortable bus on the journey in. Brought this morning’s papers (The Guardian and The Times) to read about the latest news and Michael Schumacher’s victory yesterday at Hockenheim. Log-in my Apple iMac and received quite a lot of emails. Sorted this out now and now preparing myself for an interesting press week!

Perhaps if I have time, post some messages on the Eternal Sunset forum and contribute some articles on the eMagi site. Will continue to update my blog.

Now, off to make a cup of tea!