When Nick Heidfeld lapped a modern F1 car around the Nordschleife

Nick Heidfeld Nurburgring

German racing driver Nick Heidfeld had the unique opportunity to drive the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife in a modern-spec Formula One racing car as part of a BMW Motorsport demonstration run.

Heidfeld drove last year’s BMW Sauber F1.06 chassis around the fantastic 20.8km race track (which also includes the new Grand Prix circuit) and despite slowing down for photographic purposes several times on each of his three laps, he set a time of eight minutes and 34 seconds. This lap time was not a real representation of what a modern F1 car can really do, as BMW ordered his driver to ease off at several parts of the track…

Apart from using the harder tyres (which offered low grip) and an increased ride height, the car was in full race specification.

“This drive was simply incredible,” said Heidfeld. “I thought it would be great to drive on the Nordschleife before I started out. But it was even better than I had expected.

“This racing track is the best in the world. I’d really like to have emptied the tank. It was a very special moment when I left the grand prix circuit in the direction of the Nordschleife.”

Heidfeld achieved a top speed of 275 km/h on the long Döttinger Höhe straight.

“I was really shaken up at the Bergwerk section and on the Döttinger Höhe,” he said.

“I’ll never forget today as long as I live. Another particularly special experience has now joined the many fantastic childhood memories and racing successes.”

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen reiterated that the event had always been intended as a ‘tribute’ to the legendary track rather than an attempt to set a new lap record.

“We had implored him to be careful,” said Theissen.

“The day was a homage to the fans and to this unique circuit in the world of racing. For once, the lap times were a secondary consideration.”

Nevertheless, to see a modern Formula One racing car back on this amazing race track after 31 long years was a sight to behold.




Following on from the success of Sin City, comic book writer Frank Miller has created a stylish look with this brutal and violent movie. Based on his graphic novel, 300 focuses on the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C.

Spartan King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 300 of the finest warriors are led to an epic battle against the advancing Persians. This struggle is said to have inspired all of Greece to band together against the Persians, and helped usher in the world’s first democracy.

The fighting sequences in 300 are truly breathtaking with strong uses of gore and slow motion. Director Zack Snyder (whose previous work includes a remake of the cult horror classic Dawn Of The Dead) has done a spectacular job in creating a visual masterpiece that seems to be lifted straight off Miller’s comic book. The heavy use of blood splatter and CGI may seem over-the-top, but the end result works well.

Even though the dialogue consists of much shouting including the well-known phrase that is “Madness? THIS IS SPARTA!” the action is the true star in this two-hour film. And it delivers with fancy editing that puts the viewer right into the heart of the battle.

As for Gerard Butler playing the lead role, his presence on the screen is immensely powerful. You could feel the fire burning inside of him, with the sadness, inner struggles, but also the dignity and the kindness of the King.

300 is a movie that integrates the potentials of film-making and story-telling in a wonderful new way that is the best of both entertainment and artistic achievement.

Guitar Hero II – now on Xbox 360

Guitar Hero II Xbox 360

As a big fan of Guitar Hero II, the opportunity to play this fantastic music rhythm game on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is finally here. Ever since it first appeared on Sony’s PlayStation 2, I always wanted to see how it would look and feel in high definition form, with downloadable content to expand the game play.

Well, now I have it thanks to my sister buying an imported copy and am I happy with it? Difficult to say as the visuals do look amazing in HD but the same cannot be said with the new and exclusive X-plorer guitar controller…

I have read many stories online regarding an unresponsive whammy bar (it has something to do with the build quality) and initially I thought I was lucky to have a working guitar controller. Alas, this wasn’t the case and the first time I’ve play this on my Xbox 360, the whammy bar refused to work…

So instead of getting a replacement – which proved tricky as it was brought in Germany – I’ve decided to find a solution with some help from Google. And after typing some key words like ‘Guitar Hero II controller problem’ and ‘Xbox 360 guitar’ into the search engine, found this useful site.

I followed the instructions carefully and made the necessary small changes to make the whammy bar work properly. After taking it apart, unloosing the two important screws and rotating the device even so slightly, it now works! Good news you would think but unfortunately the whammy bar is so loose, it now ‘flops’ around…

Despite that, I can still enjoy the game. Just completed the Medium Career mode without any difficulty and my next step is to play through Hard to unlock more new bonuses. As for the game play, there is a hint of delay when strumming compared to the PlayStation 2 version. It seems to have a tiny lagging issue and even though I calibrated my Samsung HDTV to stop this, I have to strum the notes a fraction more early to play it.

Nevertheless, the new songs exclusively for the Xbox 360 are not that bad to play to (apart from My Chemical Romance) and the high definition visuals are spectacular. It just a shame that the X-plorer guitar controller doesn’t match the feel and quality to the SG controller available on the PlayStation 2…

Massa makes amend with race victory in Bahrain

Felipe Massa Bahrain GP Winner

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa cast aside the disappointment in Malaysia with a commanding victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Brazilian lead from the start and despite a closing Lewis Hamilton in the final laps, Massa held the advantage to score his third career Grand Prix win. The McLaren driver continues his impressive performance with second and this latest achievement means he has become the first man ever to finish on the podium in his first three races. Melbourne Grand Prix winner Kimi Raikkonen finished in third.

Behind the leading three, BMW-Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld drove a fantastic race to finish ahead of the double world champion, Fernando Alonso, with a dramatic pass around the outside of the Spaniard on lap 32.

The result means there is a three-way tie for the championship lead, with Raikkonen, Alonso and Hamilton tied on 22 points. Race winner Massa moves up to fourth on 17, with Heidfeld fifth on 15.

This year’s Bahrain Grand Prix was all about the private duel between Massa and Hamilton. Following on from last week’s dramatic Malaysian Grand Prix, the two drivers were starting at the front determined to settle the score.

In the end, the Ferrari driver had the fastest car around Sakhir and it certainly helps when rival McLaren suffered a weak middle stint running on the ‘option’ tyre… But the team came back with a vengeance in the final stint running the harder compound Bridgestones. But it was too little too late.

During that weak phrase for McLaren, Alonso was struggling with his MP4-22 and not only did he lost a race position to Raikkonen in the first round of pit stops, but the world champion also lost track position when he was overtaken by Heidfeld’s fast BMW-Sauber.

With fourth and sixth positions – Heidfeld and Robert Kubica respectively – BMW-Sauber achieved a great result in Bahrain and are genuinely the third best team in Formula One.

Toyota’s Jarno Trulli finished in a fine seventh after an exciting mid-race contest between the engine-supplied Williams drivers of Nico Rosberg and Alex Wurz. Both fell back in the late stages of the race, so the final points position went to Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella – who finished ahead of his team-mate Heikki Kovalainen.

The two Williams drivers eventually finished in 10th and 11th, helped on their way by the retirements of both Red Bulls. Despite starting at the back, David Coulthard drove a storming race but neither he nor team-mate Mark Webber made it home to the chequered flag…Nor did the Toro Rossos, as Scott Speed was involved in a first lap collision with Honda’s Jenson Button, and Tonio Liuzzi being delayed by the same incident and eventually retiring.

The championship resumes in a month’s time at the Circuit de Catalunya and with three of the leading drivers tied on the same 22 points, it will be a fascinating to see who will achieve the greater success in this competitive Formula One season.

Bahrain Grand Prix race result (57 laps)

1. MASSA Ferrari 1 hr. 33 mins. 27.515 secs
2. HAMILTON McLaren +2.360s
3. RAIKKONEN Ferrari +10.839s
4. HEIDFELD BMW +13.831s
5. ALONSO McLaren +14.426s
6. KUBICA BMW +45.529s
7. TRULLI Toyota +1m21.371s
8. FISICHELLA Renault +1m21.701s
9. KOVALAINEN Renault +1m29.411s
10. ROSBERG Williams +1m29.916s
11. WURZ Williams +1 lap
12. SCHUMACHER Toyota +1 lap
13. BARRICHELLO Honda +1 lap
14. ALBERS Spyker +2 laps
15. SUTIL Spyker +4 laps
R. DAVIDSON Super Aguri +5 laps
R. WEBBER Red Bull +15 laps
R. COULTHARD Red Bull +20 laps
R. SATO Super Aguri +22 laps
R. LIUZZI Toro Rosso +30 laps
R. BUTTON Honda +56 laps
R. SPEED Toro Rosso +56 laps

Fastest lap: MASSA 1m34.067s

Massa edges ahead of Hamilton for pole in Bahrain

Felipe Massa Bahrain

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa has secured his second successive pole position in qualifying at the Bahrain International Circuit, fending off Lewis Hamilton as the McLaren rookie took his first front row start.

The Brazilian was the fastest driver in both sessions one and two in qualifying and it became a private duel between himself and Hamilton for top honours in the shoot-out for pole position.

In the end, Massa takes his fifth career pole with a time of 1min. 32.652 seconds. Hamilton lines up alongside only three tenths of a second behind. It will be fascinating contest between the pair one week on from the action-packed Malaysian Grand Prix.

Both their team-mates were overshadowed, with Kimi Raikkonen beating Fernando Alonso by a small margin of around sixth hundreds of a second!

Behind the two McLarens and Ferraris came the BMW-Sauber pair of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica, with fifth and sixth place respectively. Heidfeld continues to shine in the F1.07 and another points finish will be a nice reward for the driver and team.

Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella did a good job to qualify in seventh ahead of the Renault-powered Red Bull Racing of Mark Webber. And rounding up the top ten, Toyota-works driver Jarno Trulli beat the engine-supplied Williams of Nico Rosberg.

As for the battle between the two Honda organisations, Anthony Davidson produce a splendid performance to qualify ahead of his Super Aguri team-mate Takuma Sato and the works Honda unit of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button.

So the stage is set for another exciting Grand Prix between Ferrari and McLaren. Felipe Massa once again starts at the front and providing he doesn’t run into Lewis during the first part of the race, the Brazilian should win by having the fastest car in Formula One. If Hamilton makes a great start and leads the 22-car field into Turn 1, he might achieve his dream result of winning his first Grand Prix.

But Massa has other ideas and commented: “Our strategy for the first corner? Be more aggressive! We gave him the space last weekend; now we know what he can do we don’t give the space any more!”

Starting grid for the Bahrain Grand Prix

1. MASSA Ferrari 1:32.652
2. HAMILTON McLaren 1:32.935
3. RAIKKONEN Ferrari 1:33.131
4. ALONSO McLaren 1:33.192
5. HEIDFELD BMW 1:33.404
6. KUBICA BMW 1:33.710
7. FISICHELLA Renault 1:34.056
8. WEBBER Red Bull 1:34.106
9. TRULLI Toyota 1:34.154
10. ROSBERG Williams 1:34.399
11. WURZ Williams 1:32.915
12. KOVALAINEN Renault 1:32.935
13. DAVIDSON Super Aguri 1:33.082
14. SCHUMACHER Toyota 1:33.294
15. BARRICHELLO Honda 1:33.624
16. BUTTON Honda 1:33.731
17. SATO Super Aguri 1:33.984
18. LIUZZI Toro Rosso 1:34.024
19. SPEED Toro Rosso 1:34.333
20. SUTIL Spyker 1:35.280
21. COULTHARD Red Bull 1:35.341
22. ALBERS Spyker 1:35.533

Champion Alonso leads McLaren one-two in Sepang

Alonso and Hamilton - Sepang

Double world champion Fernando Alonso dominated the Malaysian Grand Prix with a lights-to-flag victory, scoring his first win for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team. The Spaniard finished ahead of his team-mate Lewis Hamilton producing the team’s first one-two finish since the Brazilian Grand Prix back in 2005.

Lewis Hamilton continues to impress in the MP4-22, with a fine second place in only his second race in Formula One. This follows from his fantastic debut in Australia three weeks ago where he finished in third.

As for Ferrari, the Italian team lost the race within the first few hundred yards, as both Felipe Massa – who was starting on pole position – and Kimi Raikkonen (in third) got overtaken by the two McLarens at the first corner.

Alonso made a better start than the pole sitter to lead the 22-car field into the tight right hairpin. The Spaniard slipped down the inside of Massa into Turn 1 and fellow McLaren team-mate Hamilton replicated the move to pass Raikkonen for third. Lewis then drove around the outside of Massa at Turn 2 to give the team an advantage that they would not lose.

With both Ferraris bundle down from the top, Felipe Massa tried to readdress the issue by attempting to overtake the first McLaren of Lewis Hamilton. On the second lap, he had the momentum on his rival and dived down the inside at Turn 4, but unfortunately ran wide and Lewis slipped by and regained his position again.

The Brazilian made a second attempt with the same manoeuvre three laps later, only to lock up and slide onto the grass! By the time he rejoined the track, he was down to fifth position, behind Nick Heidfeld’s BMW-Sauber.

Kimi Raikkonen moved up to challenge Hamilton but wasn’t as aggressive as his team-mate. The Finn would later mount some serious pressure in the closing stages of the Grand Prix.

As for Alonso, he simply disappeared in the lead setting consistent lap times. Despite suffering a radio problem in the early part of the race, his two-stop strategy was perfect and was left unchallenged to the chequered flag.

Lewis Hamilton finished 17 seconds behind his team leader but was under huge pressure from a charging Kimi Raikkonen in his fast Ferrari. But Lewis did just enough (0.7 seconds) to hold off the Finn to finish in a fine second place.

Nick Heidfeld scored another great result for BMW-Sauber with fourth. The German managed to held off his former team-mate Massa all the way to the flag.

Nico Rosberg was heading for an excellent sixth for Williams but his Toyota-powered FW29 developed a problem and was forced to retire on lap 43. This promoted Giancarlo Fisichella in the Renault scoring three points for the past champions. The final points went to Jarno Trulli in the reliable Toyota and Renault rookie Heikki Kovalainen.

As for Honda, Rubens Barrichello finished ahead of team-mate Jenson Button despite starting from the pit lane. But it is no consolation for the Japanese team as both drivers struggle with pace in the ‘earth’ cars. Urgent meetings on how to improve the performance must be taken and apparently, there might be a new car soon.

Bridgestone’s new tyre marking system proved a great success, with the white grooves making it easy to identify which driver was on what tyre. Almost everyone ran soft-soft-hard compound through their three stints, the only exceptions being Jarno Trulli, Mark Webber, David Coulthard and Jenson Button.

A fantastic race thus puts Fernando Alonso into the lead of the world championship, with Raikkonen second from Hamilton. Roll on Bahrain!

Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang (56 laps)

1. ALONSO McLaren 1 hr. 32 mins. 14.930 secs
2. HAMILTON McLaren +17.557 secs
3. RAIKKONEN Ferrari +18.339s
4. HEIDFELD BMW +33.777s
5. MASSA Ferrari +36.705s
6. FISICHELLA Renault +1m05.638s
7. TRULLI Toyota +1m10.132s
8. KOVALAINEN Renault +1m12.015s
9. WURZ Williams +1m29.924s
10. WEBBER Red Bull +1m33.556s
11. BARRICHELLO Honda +1 lap
12. BUTTON Honda +1 lap
13. SATO Super Aguri +1 lap
14. SPEED Toro Rosso +1 lap
15. R SCHUMACHER Toyota +1 lap
16. DAVIDSON Super Aguri +1 lap
17. LIUZZI Toro Rosso +1 lap
18. KUBICA BMW +1 lap
R. ROSBERG Williams +14 laps
R. COULTHARD Red Bull +20 laps
R. SUTIL Spyker +49 laps
R. ALBERS Spyker +56 laps

Fastest lap: HAMILTON 1 min. 36.701 secs

Massa snatches pole position in Sepang

Felipe Massa - Sepang

Felipe Massa will start tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix in pole position after snatching the top grid slot in the final moments of qualifying. The Brazilian will start the second round of the 2007 Formula One championship ahead of the double world champion Fernando Alonso and his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

Alonso was the pace setter in all three qualifying sessions. The McLaren driver was the fastest in both knockout sessions and looked the favourite to take pole position in the top-ten shootout.

But in a frantic climax to session three, Massa produced a perfect lap (1min. 35.043 secs) to edge out the world champion by three-tenths of a second.

Melbourne Grand Prix winner Kimi Raikkonen could only manage third place with rising British star Lewis Hamilton in fourth – seven-tenths of a second behind his McLaren team-mate.

Behind the two Ferraris and McLarens, came the BMW-Sauber of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica – in fifth and seventh respectively. As in the opening round of the championship, the BMW-Sauber proves to be the third quickest team in Formula One and it would be no surprise if they score another points finish in the main event. Splitting the pair is Nico Rosberg, whose sixth place confirmed the promise that Williams had shown in the practice sessions.

Next up are the Toyota duos of Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher, with Red Bull’s Mark Webber rounded out the top ten.

As for Renault – the winners of the last two Malaysian Grands Prix – it was a shock to see the past champions eliminated in session two. Heikki Kovalainen and Giancarlo Fisichella struggled with P11 and P12 respectively.

And the nightmare continues down at Honda, with a disappointing performance from the two drivers – Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello. I suspect Button is becoming more frustrated by a lack of speed in the ‘earth’ car. Qualifying down in P15 is not ideal… As for Barrichello, he had to switch to the spare chassis due to a gearbox problem with his main race car. The Brazilian wasn’t that comfortable in the other Honda and abandoned his first attempt at a flying lap in the unfamiliar car. In the end, Rubens will line up on the grid in 19th position.

Sunday’s race should be exciting as the top two teams battle for the ultimate race victory. Can Massa score his first win of the year? Can Alonso beat Lewis? Or will Kimi achieve his second win for Ferrari? And what about the likely chances of rain in the Grand Prix? As Murray Walker used to say: “Anything can happen in Formula One and it usually does”.

Malaysian Grand Prix starting grid

1. MASSA Ferrari 1:35.043
2. ALONSO McLaren 1:35.310
3. RAIKKONEN Ferrari 1:35.479
4. HAMILTON McLaren 1:36.045
5. HEIDFELD BMW 1:36.543
6. ROSBERG Williams 1:36.829
7. KUBICA BMW 1:36.896
8. TRULLI Toyota 1:36.902
9. SCHUMACHER Toyota 1:37.078
10. WEBBER Red Bull 1:37.345
11. KOVALAINEN Renault 1:35.630
12. FISICHELLA Renault 1:35.706
13. COULTHARD Red Bull 1:35.766
14. SATO Super Aguri 1:35.945
15. BUTTON Honda 1:36.088
16. LIUZZI Toro Rosso 1:36.145
17. SPEED Toro Rosso 1:36.578
18. DAVIDSON Super Aguri 1:36.816
19. BARRICHELLO Honda 1:36.827
20. WURZ Williams 1:37.326
21. ALBERS Spyker 1:38.279
22. SUTIL Spyker 1:38.415

Sweet Rosie

Rosie Animal Crossing

I finally received my very late Christmas present from my sister, a plush Rosie!

Rosie is a sweet blue cat that I simply adore in Animal Crossing: Wild World. She is my favourite character in the game and when she left Leaftown (the name of my village), I was devastated.

But now Rosie is here to stay and despite looking purple than blue, her smile and cuteness will always cast a lasting impression to me!

Action-packed racing at Brands Hatch

Brands Hatch

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to see the first round of the new-look British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch. This year’s the BTCC are running the FIA’s Super 2000 specification regulations, in a way of cutting cost (to attract more manufacturers) and hopefully providing more on-track racing action.

There was certainly a lot of it as we watched from the trackside at Druids hairpin and Clearways (the penultimate corner on the short ‘Indy’ circuit). I was impressed with the quality of photos taken by my friends, as their photographed the racing cars in action.

The best part of the day was wandering around the Paddock area and seeing the cars, drivers, mechanics and engineers up-close. I even took some nice pictures of famous motor racing star such as 1964 Formula One World Champion John Surtees and the 1989 and 1995 BTCC champion John Cleland (both of whom were at Brands Hatch watching their son taking part in the supporting races).

As for the main event, Jason Plato won two races that day in the SEAT, with the defending champion Matt Neal scoring a fantastic win in his new Honda Civic in race three.

I certainly enjoyed my time out at Brands Hatch and I look forward to seeing some more racing action soon.

Loeb takes dominate win as Grönholm suffers penalty for underweight car

Loeb Rally Portugal

Triple World Rally Champion, Sébastien Loeb has added another rally win to his impressive career with a dominant display in his Citroën C4.

The Frenchman now leads the championship by a single point after his main rival, Finland’s Marcus Grönholm, received a five-minute time penalty for running non-homologated rear side windows in his Ford Focus.

Grönholm originally finished the Rally of Portugal in second – around 50 seconds behind Loeb – but was later given the penalty, meaning he finished fourth in the revising standings.

This in effect, promoted Petter Solberg and Dani Sordo to second and third respectively.

Despite this penalty, the Ford World Rally Team admits it was their mistake and will look into this situation to prevent this from happening again.

Nevertheless, the team still leads the constructors’ standings as the championship goes south for the Rally of Argentina in the first weekend of May. Can Sébastien continue his impressive start to his title defence campaign?