MIKA27

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About MIKA27

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    Pelo De Oro
  • Birthday 04/26/1976

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    Melbourne
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  1. WOODFORD RESERVE $1,000 MINT JULEP CUP The folks at Woodford Reserve are very proud of the fact that they’re behind the official bourbon whiskey of the Kentucky Derby. As a celebration of that partnership, they’ve unveiled a limited edition series of $1,000 Mint Julep Cups. And you can buy one for yourself. To celebrate the 145th Kentucky Derby, only 145 examples of these handmade cups will be made. The first 125 of them are crafted from silver-plated pewter, while the remaining 20 are gold-plated. Both also feature etchings of Churchill Downs’ iconic Twin Spires alongside prominently displayed oak barrels. Every example also comes with a bottle of Woodford Reserve bourbon whiskey and a silk-lined wooden display box. The gold cups are also accompanied by a specially-made silver Woodford Reserve Sipping Straw. The silver cups are priced at $1,000 apiece, while the gold version is selling for $2,500. MIKA: I actually much prefer the silver version over the gold.
  2. DC Universe Drops Its First Cryptic Swamp Thing Teaser Amid Reports of Production Woes Out of all of DC Universe’s live-action comic book adaptations, Swamp Thing’s been the most shrouded in mystery, which is appropriate given its otherworldly subject matter. Aside from casting news, there’s been little detail about what the series might look like, but today, DC Universe suddenly dropped the first trailer for the series. Short as the teaser is, it features a good first look at Swamp Thing’s titular hero, DC Comics’ living embodiment of a swamp’s plant life, who’s set to be played by two different performers. While DC’s decision to drop the teaser late on a Wednesday afternoon with little buildup might seem strange, it could be very intentional. While production for DC Universe’s live-action Swamp Thing series had been well underway, the 13-episode-long series is reportedly being cut short. The local reports out of Wilmington, North Carolina say the production was halted after episode 10 to the surprise of cast and crew. Early Wednesday morning, actress Virginia Madsen (who portrays Maria Sunderland on the series) wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post that Swamp Thing’s team was being “cut to the core by those who have never set foot in the swamp.” She also wrote, “I am beyond sad. What a terrible decision.” Given everything that’s happened with Swamp Thing within the past few hours, it’s unclear just what’s going on with the show and what DC’s plans for it are. Dropping a trailer is a strong indicator that Swamp Thing will, at some point, begin streaming on the DC Universe platform. But whether the series we eventually see represents the full vision for what Swamp Thing was meant to be is up for debate. Swamp Thing is set to premiere May 31.
  3. Amazon’s The Boys gets a new, NSFW trailer and a July 26th release date Amazon has a new trailer out for its upcoming adaptation of The Boys, a long-running comics series written by Preacher and Hitman author Garth Ennis. Set in a world where superheroes are real, but also terrible people who abuse their vast powers, The Boys focuses on a group of vigilantes who work to hold those “heroes” accountable — with lots of bloody, aggressive mayhem. The latest trailer — which is definitely NSFW — gives a good look at the series’ Zack Snyder-esque style: a grim but comedically over-the-top level of sex and violence. It also lays out the series’ basic conceit: “How do you spank a superhero?” Starring Karl Urban as Billy Butcher, the leader of “the boys,” along with Jack Quaid as protagonist “Wee” Hughie Campbell, who is suddenly thrust into the world of anti-superhero vigilantism, The Boys appears to be promising a more mature take on the superhero genre. Think the ponderous moral ethics and abrupt violence of Zack Snyder’s Watchmen adaptation blended with Deadpool’s R-rated irreverence. The Boys premieres on Amazon Prime Video on July 26th.
  4. Final ‘Dark Phoenix’ Trailer Signals the End of Fox’s ‘X-Men’ Film Franchise Back in 2000, the world had just survived the dreaded Y2K scare, and with renewed hope for the future, looked forward to the start of a new summer blockbuster trend: superhero movies. Sure, they’d been done before, but rather poorly. X-Men, however, took the popular Marvel Comics title and excellent Saturday morning cartoon and turned it into even more of a household name, also introducing a fella by the name of Hugh Jackman as a very different but fan-favorite take on Wolverine. Nearly 20 years and 12 films later, Dark Phoenix looks to bring the era of Fox’s film franchise to a close. (Who knows what’s ultimately going to happen with The New Mutants.) Not only did the film series run out of ideas (apparently, since they’re rehashing the Dark Phoenix saga again), they ran out of options as Disney swooped in to gobble the property up in a mega-merger. It remains to be see what Disney’s MCU wants to do with their newly acquired X-Men, but for fans of the Fox films, this will be your last hurrah. Enjoy it while you can.
  5. Victor Hugo Wrote ‘Hunchback of Notre-Dame’ to Save the Great Cathedral The author believed that it was the duty of the people of his age to preserve structures like Notre Dame—and so he wrote a 1,000-page novel to convince them to save the cathedral. You might say that the best fiction exists to disassemble expectations. Nature can be the same way, which is why, even when we understand the realities of fire, we’re still taken aback—in the modern, technologically-ramped-up age—when something like Notre Dame Cathedral becomes a sky-tethered conflagration. You want to say, “Wait, shouldn’t we be able to stop this?” and “Surely it is possible with all of our advances to keep such a blaze from beginning?” But that is not how nature works, nor how great fiction works; they’re both going to do what they’re going to do, and then we must adjust. We have expectations when we come to a story in literature. For instance, there will be a protagonist, and normally that person will be a human, unless we’re in the sci-fi ambit or Franz Kafka’s brain. But here on earth, you expect to see a human at the center of a story. Victor Hugo did not quite see things this way when he published The Hunchback of Notre-Dame in 1831. He was in his mid-fifties, and this was a man with a cause. You might even call it an extra-curricular cause, so far as the literary arts went. For Victor Hugo was in thrall to Gothic architecture, the way a self-described geek might be headlong into anime now. Gothic architecture rose—and that is a key verb in this style—to prominence in the late Middle Ages. It was mankind’s upwards march upon the heavens, drama writ in spires, turrets, rib vaults, and flying buttresses. The structures looked to be frozen in acts of great bounding movement, like someone had hit the pause button as these limestone titans leaped in battle or journey, with great stakes at play. Stone angels stood guard in suspended flight at strategic vantage points, lest some minion of Satan come flying around a corner gaining access to human vulnerability down on the ground below. This was architecture to inspire awe, and it reminded you, too, of your mortality, like the home offices of heaven just happened to be hanging over your head, so wise up. There was a darker element in the resolute grays, but at the same time, Gothic structures exuded warmth, perhaps because they could look like expansive candle sticks in mid-melt blown up to the size of towering buildings. Victor Hugo, who beheld Notre Dame Cathedral often, had his ‘aha’ moment: This church, this piercer-of-the-skies, would be the central character of his next novel, an opus even by the standards of opuses, its Byzantine chambers mirroring the architectonic passions, and structural designs, of Notre Dame, the ne plus ultra in the Gothic style. So: We have Mr. Gothic Architecture Buff, and he wasn’t against some fear-mongering, believing that it was the duty of the people of his age to preserve structures like Notre Dame Cathedral. If you haven’t read the nearly 1000 pages of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, and someone mentions it to you, you’re going to think about the titular creature, who, thanks to various cinematic adaptations, became a horror bogey up there with Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the mummy, the Wolf Man, and the Phantom of the Opera. Despite him not being a horror bogey at all. It was the hauntingly dramatic intensity of the cathedral’s design that served as horror film substrate. It just looked of the stuff of our imaginations at Halloween, as much a part of that eldritch ecosystem as haunted castles, creaky old mansions on low-lying hills, and graveyards where it might as well perpetually be midnight. But while this is a terror novel, in a way, it’s a terror novel about mankind’s devolution. A key theme of the book is that the arrival of the printing press is going to mean the death of Gothic architecture. It took a huge outlay of effort and genius to make art like Notre Dame Cathedral. The printing press, meanwhile, would mean that any fool could slap whatever on paper, and out it would go into the world. You might say Hugo envisioned it as akin to Twitter or Facebook, with the concomitant weakening of the written word, and, in following, the weakening of how capable we were as thinkers. A fear evinced in the book is that we are all going to go to mental flab, and when that happens, we’re going to start to screw up the good things we’ve managed to make to date. Hugo was certain to have recognized, as he wrote The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, that Gothic architecture was falling out of favor. Paris was not quite in the Victorian age, but there was a sense of “Hmmm, that’s a bit much, isn’t it?” Life was hard enough; Gothic architecture was fatiguing in that it asked a lot even of your eyeballs. You couldn’t just set your gaze on a Gothic structure and know what it was all about. Your eyes had to travel, they had to work; you might say that your eyes had to think. But so it goes with any great work of art, and any great prose work of art. There is topography in language, and a work of prose art has architectural qualities, from its multi-chambered plot-structure-voices-tone design, and how that will be engineered and executed, to what is happening, even, in each sentence. Letters in tandem with each other possess group shapes. There are rises, valleys, lower levels. These variations, subtle as they may be, impact us psychologically. We think architectonically, and Hugo’s fear was that we were losing this, as so-called progress marched on. Hugo sets the novel, in a sense, in 1482, but that’s the external setting. The internal setting is the mind, where these preconceptions we’ve been discussing are not indebted to any time period. They’re belonging to a problem—the slackening of imagination. The trend towards the safe rather than the daring. You get a beautiful story of friendship, between Quasimodo—try to knock that Disney-fied version of him out of your head—and Esmeralda, an ostensible odd couple who wasn’t that odd of a couple in the end. I think our very best relationships can follow that design model. Why? Because we were open to how they disassembled our expectations in the first place. Hell, a “meet cute” story is often predicated upon that disordering of expectations and building up the blocks in a way different than we normally do at other, more prosaic points in our lives. But Hugo laments the treatment of Notre Dame as much as he allows us to despair over Quasimodo’s plight. Think of the cathedral like a great face bearing witness on societal twists and turns. It is the architectural recordist of that which occurs in the streets below, and, in a way, in human hearts encased in chests. Certainly there were other people in Hugo’s time with affection for the cathedral, if not so much Gothic architecture outright. The passion for Notre Dame stemmed largely from its spiritual nature and French pride, the group-think of “We have wrought this thing, behold.” For Hugo, though, the cathedral was more than a cathedral; it was a symbol, a complex localization of human ingenuity and how humans must think if they are to be ingenious. He also sensed—correctly—that a mighty, prolix novel could be a sharply-honed spearhead. If the novel were a success, Notre Dame was likely to have better days, too. Buildings have a natural flow to them. Sometimes they flow in circular patterns, other times they appear to flow against their own directional currents. They are like prose that way. The flow of Notre Dame Cathedral is downward—like tears rolling down great stony cheeks. Its movement is towards the folk. Quasimodo receives his castigations in the novel, but not like the urban design committees who allegedly tried to upkeep Notre Dame Cathedral and who made it worse. “And who put the cold, white panes in the place of those windows?” Hugo writes. The image is that of making a patient with a few bumps and bruises actually sick. These fervid critiques have the quality of Mark Antony’s famed speech in Julius Caesar to them. “And who substituted for the ancient Gothic altar, splendidly encumbered with shrines and reliquaries, that heavy marble sarcophagus…” Yeah, who! Name names! We’ll get you! Brigands. Hugo lavished love on the cathedral in swaths of evocative prose. He fairly blanketed it in prose, you might say, every last cornice. And as he connected Quasimodo to this structure, he joined us with both of them. “His cathedral was enough for him. It was peopled with marble figures of kings, saints and bishops who at least did not laugh in his face and looked at him with only tranquility and benevolence. The other statues, those of monsters and demons, had no hatred for him – he resembled them too closely for that. It was rather the rest of mankind that they jeered at. The saints were his friends and blessed him; the monsters were his friends and kept watch over him. He would sometimes spend whole hours crouched before one of the statues in solitary conversation with it. If anyone came upon him then he would run away like a lover surprised during a serenade.” That is building with prose right there. That Hugo’s humanism found room for a structure, shows us how enveloping it was. This was one of the first novels to include members from all—or most, anyway—levels of society. You could write about a king, and you could write about a rat in the wall, and you could do so within a single sentence. Charles Dickens and Gustave Flaubert took notice, and I think you see architecture featured so prominently in the work of the former—Scrooge’s house, for instance, is very Notre Dame Cathedral in miniature, and turned inside out—on account of Hugo. After the publication of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, parts of the cathedral were renovated, in a manner to gladden the heart of both a Hugo and a Quasimodo. Some of those parts, alas, have just felt the devouring touch of flames. But take heart: art that has existed and made its mark in the world perpetually inhabits that mark and rises within it, just as every great prose work of art surges to the clouds, Notre Dame-style. Don’t be fooled by the flatness of the page. It only feels that way when you rub your hand over it. There is no actual flatness there, when the creator has disassembled expectations.
  6. Winters Are Only Going To Get Worse, So Researchers Invented A Way To Generate Electricity From Snowfall The farther you get from the equator, the less effective solar panels become at reliably generating power all year round. And it’s not just the shorter spans of sunlight during the winter months that are a problem; even a light dusting of snow can render solar panels ineffective. As a result of global warming, winters are only going to get more severe, but there’s at least one silver lining as researchers from UCLA have come up with a way to harness electricity from all that snow. The technology they developed is called a snow-based triboelectric nanogenerator (or snow TENG, for short) which generates energy from the exchange of electrons. If you’ve ever received a nasty shock when touching a metal door handle, you’ve already experienced the science at work here. As it falls towards earth, snowflakes are positively charged and ready to give up electrons. In a way, it’s almost free energy ready for the taking, so after testing countless materials with an opposite charge, the UCLA researchers (working with collaborators from the University of Toronto, McMaster University, and the University of Connecticut) found that the negative charge of silicone made it most effective for harvesting electrons when it came into contact with snowflakes. Details about the device they created were shared in a paper published in the Nano Energy journal, but it can be 3D-printed on the cheap given how accessible silicone is — for five bucks you can buy a spray can of it at the hardware store as a lubricant. In addition to silicone, a non-metal electrode is used, which results in the triboelectric generator being flexible, stretchable, and extremely durable. Its creators believe it could be integrated into solar panel arrays so that when blanketed with snow in the winter months, they could continue to generate power. But the triboelectric generator has other potential uses too. Since it doesn’t require batteries or charging, it could be used to create cheap, self-powered weather stations that could report back snowy conditions and how much has accumulated. It could also improve activity trackers used by athletes competing in winter sports, allowing the movements of individual skis to be tracked and recorded which would provide valuable insights for athletes as they train to perfect their form.
  7. MIKA27

    FORMULA 1

    Mercedes: China double-stack was Wolff's idea The original idea for the stacked pitstop for Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton in the Chinese Grand Prix came from Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, the team has revealed. The Brackley-based outfit had been left with a strategy headache after Red Bull's decision to pit Max Verstappen for a second stop during the Shanghai race triggered a domino effect for the cars ahead to prevent being undercut. With Sebastian Vettel responding to Verstappen's move, Mercedes knew that it too needed to cover Vettel with both its drivers who were running 1-2 on the track. However, with Hamilton and Bottas running close together, if Mercedes had pitted Bottas first to head off the Vettel threat, then there was a risk that he could overtake Hamilton for the lead – which would have been unfair on the race leader. Following a bit of quick thinking, Wolff himself came up with the suggestion of stacking the drivers in the pits, something that is rarely done during full race conditions. After Wolff proposed the idea, team strategist James Vowles confirmed the plan would be tough but possible, before sporting director Ron Meadows gave it the green light. Speaking on Mercedes' regular post-race YouTube debrief, the team's trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said: "It was actually Toto who suggested that we do a stacked stop. "That then becomes a discussion between James Vowles and Ron Meadows. Ron is the sporting director and he is just checking that he is comfortable with the gap between the cars, that we can get the pit crew ready to do the stacked stop and have both sets of tyres in the pitlane. "James is the one who gets the final decision on this and he decides to go ahead with it." Shovlin admitted that there were risks associated with the stop, especially because stacked stops are not something that can easily be practiced for. "You don't have two cars to practice with," he explained. "We do have a pitstop car and we can practice getting both sets of tyres out, we can practice doing two stops in succession but you can never quite get the same situation with the car rolling into the box. "It is quite difficult for the rear jack man as he has to get out of the way when the first car leaves and then get into position when the second one comes in. "The choreography is quite tricky, there is a bit more to organise. Having that many tyres in the pitlane is a bit of a risk, so you have to make sure the right tyres go on the right car. But it is something we do as much preparation for as we can." He added: "You try not to do them unless you have to because if you have any problem with the first car, it also impacts the second – and you can go from being first and second in the race to third and fourth in no time. It isn't something you do every day, but on the occasions it makes sense it is a really tool to have in your tool set." Such was the swiftness with Mercedes' procedures that Bottas' pitstop was actually quicker than Hamilton's – and he lost less than half a second in total pitlane compared to his teammate despite having to briefly wait. How Mercedes' double-stack stop played put Lap 34 Max Verstappen pits for the second time, forcing the cars ahead of him to consider whether to stick to a one-stop strategy or move to a two-stop as well. At this stage, Mercedes it not sure if its tyres will last until the end if it stays on a one-stop. Lap 35 As Hamilton exits Turn 14, the team begins the discussion the idea of a second stop to shadow the cars behind. But it faces a dilemma because second place Valtteri Bottas would need to stop first to protect his position to Sebastian Vettel if the German stops too. Doing that would then give the Finn the unfair advantage of the undercut on race leader Lewis Hamilton. If the team pitted Hamilton first, though, then that would expose Bottas to the possibility of getting undercut by Vettel. Second latter, Toto Wolff from the garage suggests the unusual step of double stacking the cars. On the pitwall, head of strategy James Vowles says the tactic was tough but possible, while sporting director Ron Meadows confirms it is okay to do. As the Mercedes drivers cross the start-finish line, Vettel pits: therefore prompting Mercedes in to action. Lap 36 Just 22 seconds after the first discussion of a double stack, Vowles comes on the radio and says: "Going to do it now." Both Mercedes drivers are told they are pitting, and Bottas is told about the stacking plan. The team and the Finn are both aware of the danger that Vettel poses if he is delayed in the pits. Coming into the pits, the gap between the two drivers is 5.5 seconds Hamilton's pitstop takes 2.9 seconds, and his total pitlane time is 23.597 seconds. Bottas' pitstop takes just 2.6 seconds and his total pitlane time is 24.083 seconds. Measurements confirm that just 3.4 seconds after Hamilton moves away from his stop, Bottas stops in the same spot. Lap 37 The swift turnaround of Bottas means he leaves the pits with a five-second advantage over Vettel, which is cut back to four seconds at the end of the lap when the Ferrari driver sets the fastest lap. Lap 38 Bottas responds with the fastest lap of the race at that point.
  8. MIKA27

    FORMULA 1

    Hulkenberg: Renault giving away points with poor reliability Nico Hulkenberg says that his Renault Formula 1 team has to find fixes soon after he suffered a second consecutive retirement with an MGU-K issue in the Chinese GP. After Hulkenberg and teammate Daniel Ricciardo lost valuable points when they both stopped in the closing laps of the Bahrain GP, Renault supplied its drivers with the upgraded MGU-K spec that was already used by McLaren's Carlos Sainz at Sakhir. While Ricciardo had a trouble free run to seventh place and his first points of 2019 Hulkenberg retired after completing just 15 laps with a loss of power. The team believes that it was a result of a software issue related to the change of MGU-K spec, and that the revised hardware itself is not suspect. Hulkenberg has cautioned that the French manufacturer has to solve its problems. "It's not good news," said the German. "We really have to get on top of these things, because we're costing ourselves results, experience and points. I think we know that we have homework to do on that side. We need fixes rather sooner than later." Hulkenberg tried to resolve the problem by making adjustments suggested by his engineer, but to no avail. "It happened a couple of laps before I stopped, but we couldn't fix it, so the team asked me to park the car. "I lost power and it didn't go anywhere. It looks like it's related to the MGU-K again, unfortunately. So it looks like we have more work to do there." Hulkenberg admitted that he was probably set for a difficult afternoon anyway after losing out to Sergio Perez at the start, leaving him in ninth place on the less favoured soft tyres. He then dropped down the field after an early stop. "It wasn't looking entirely OK. Unfortunately I lost a position to Checo during the first lap, and then just sitting in traffic was really tough for me. "Following another car today was impossible, you were just sliding. We all kind of had the same pace, so it was really difficult. Then I pitted, a slow pit stop, and I came out on traffic, so it would have been a difficult recovery anyway."
  9. MIKA27

    FORMULA 1

    Kvyat: Stewards know Chinese GP penalty was too harsh Daniil Kvyat believes the Chinese Grand Prix Formula 1 stewards accepted they were too harsh with his punishment for colliding with McLaren drivers Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris. Toro Rosso racer Kvyat was given a drive-through penalty and two penalty points on his licence for the opening lap incident at Shanghai. Both Kvyat and Norris eventually retired, while Sainz recovered to 14th. "This was, I think, a normal lap one incident - one car coming from off the track, and one car being sandwiched, and me leaving space enough for one car certainly," Kvyat said. "The other car basically caused the chain reaction, which was the car behind me, and then it was just a normal chain reaction, so I didn't see how that incident deserved a drive-through penalty, that's for sure." He said he had discussed it with the stewards panel, on which ex-F1 racer Derek Warwick was the driver representative on this incident, and came away feeling they now doubted their decision. "I think we found a good understanding, but we disagree on few things, and it was a very long meeting," said Kvyat. "I think they kind of understand that they were quite harsh today, I could feel it in the post-race conversation." The stewards' statement announcing the penalty during the race pinned the blame solely on Kvyat. "The stewards reviewed video evidence and concluded that the driver of car #26, (Daniil Kvyat), lost control of his car at the exit of Turn 6 and hit the cars to his left," it read. "He did this on his own and the stewards determined that he was wholly at fault, causing the collision." Sainz had suggested Kvyat was at fault for lacking "patience" on the opening lap, while Norris described himself as "kind of the innocent one" in the incident. Kvyat declined to expand on his conversation with the stewards. "I don't want to go in details, because I think we closed behind closed doors," he added. "So I think we want to respect this agreement. But I think the incident was a very basic first-lap sandwich and misunderstanding. "It was three cars in one corner exit. It was a chain reaction, an incident, and I got hit - that's what I felt, that I got hit from behind, that's all I felt really. So for me it was pretty clear."
  10. MIKA27

    FORMULA 1

    Wolff had "quite a laugh" over reports of Verstappen talks Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says he has had "quite a laugh" with Max and Jos Verstappen over suggestions he has been calling the Red Bull Formula 1 driver. A report in Germany quoted Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko as saying Wolff "repeatedly" calls five-time grand prix Verstappen and has done so for months. Verstappen joined Red Bull during his first season of car racing in European Formula 3 back in 2014, having opted for that junior programme over Mercedes as he pursued a swift move into F1. The 21-year-old said in the build-up to the Chinese Grand Prix weekend that he was surprised to read the story, and found it quite "funny" because "I never speak to Toto, he never calls me, he doesn't even have my number". Wolff said: "We had quite a laugh about it all three of us. I haven't got Max's number and I've never spoken to him on the phone. As Max rightly said I've known Jos for a long time and I would consider him a friend. "We talk about babies and go-karting and when do we put our babies in a go-kart together and which team are we going to set up. There is no talking about Max nor his contract. For the right reasons, Max is very committed to the Honda/Red Bull situation. "We are committed to our drivers and we are not planning to engage in any sort of discussions and nor are Jos or Max, so I don't know where that came from." It was suggested Verstappen has a performance clause in the new Red Bull contract he signed in 2017 that would allow him to leave the team if it does not fight for the world championship this season. Verstappen has finished third, fourth and fourth in the first three grands prix, which has put him third in the championship, ahead of both Ferraris but 29 points behind Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton at the head of the standings. "I can't talk about my contract," Verstappen said when asked about the supposed performance clause. "I never talk about my contract. I think it's quite normal that I cannot comment on that." Mercedes drivers Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have finished first and second in each race so far, with Hamilton winning the last two after Bottas won the season opener. Hamilton is signed up to Mercedes until the end of next season while the team has the option to keep Bottas for 2020 as well. "After a day like today where we are P1 and P2 I'm not considering any other driver for the short-term," said Wolff following the Chinese GP. "[For] after 2020 we will first discuss with Valtteri and Lewis, and once that decision is taken, we'll turn to the paddock. But hopefully the line-up stays forever."
  11. MIKA27

    FORMULA 1

    Mika Hakkinen: Ferrari has to stop 'playing games' Double World Champion Mika Hakkinen believes Ferrari has to stop “playing games” with team orders and concentrate on beating Mercedes, after another disappointing outcome in China. Ferrari has yet to win in 2019 after lacking pace compared to Mercedes in Australia and China, while an engine issue denied it victory in Bahrain, where it held the fastest package. Ferrari has also issued team orders at each event, with Charles Leclerc instructed to allow Sebastian Vettel through during the early stages of the most recent event in China. That decision contributed to Leclerc slipping behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen through the first round of stops, with the youngster coming home fifth, two places behind team-mate Vettel. Hakkinen, World Champion in 1998 and 1999, praised Mercedes’ “strength” so far in 2019 but cast criticism on Ferrari for how it has handled matters of late. “[Mercedes] helped to show how much work Ferrari still has to do - developing a car quick enough to dominate qualifying, having a clearly defined race strategy and eliminating any potential for conflict between their drivers,” he wrote in his Unibet column. “Charles made a better start to the race than Ferrari team mate Sebastian Vettel and should really have been allowed to get on with it and take the fight to [Valtteri] Bottas if he could. “Instead he was asked to slow down and let Vettel past, which looked like a mistake. “When you have a team as strong as Mercedes to beat there is no point playing games; Ferrari needs to stop focusing on themselves and start concentrating on beating the competition. “In the battle to beat Mercedes no one should care whether it is Leclerc or Vettel who wins the race. “I think Leclerc was right to be upset, because the subsequent strategy managed him back into fifth position, behind Max Verstappen’s Red Bull. “Forget about team orders, concentrate on the team winning. “Three races into 2019 and, in spite of Ferrari having the strongest engine and a good package, Mercedes continues to dominate. “The mistakes of the other teams are helping them, and we must hope that Ferrari and Red Bull Racing can deliver a more consistent challenge in the races ahead.” Ferrari trails Mercedes by 57 points in the Constructors' Championship.
  12. MIKA27

    FORMULA 1

    Non-championship F1 races - time to bring them back? You hardly can have missed that the Chinese Grand Prix just passed was the 1000th race ever in the Formula 1 world championship. And competing with this in the ubiquity stakes were the equally attention-demanding pedants. They had noticed that F1’s past is like any part of the truth: rarely pure and never simple. Wherever you turned before, during and after the Chinese round there was an article or social media post pointing out – sometimes earnestly – that it wasn’t actually the 1000th F1 race. That there were Indianapolis 500s; two years of using Formula 2 regulations; blah de blah… You’d imagine these guys are great at parties. Yet there was something else that appeared in pedants’ corner. A few of them threw in F1’s non-championship races too. These were exactly as described – races for F1 cars that did not provide points for the world championship table. And they used to be a frequent feature, to the point that F1 would have cruised past its 1000 total long ago had they been included. To take an extreme example for illustration, in 1962 there were nine grands prix counting towards the F1 championship. And how many non-championship F1 races were there that year? Twenty. Further two of them were on the same day and in the same country. Mallory Park and Crystal Palace on June 11, since you asked. As that indicates, Britain was particularly well-served by non-championship meetings generally; indeed fully eight of those 20 non-championship races in ‘62 were held in Blighty. For years there were three regular non-championship F1 races in Britain on the schedule. The International Trophy at Silverstone taking place as an F1 event almost every year between 1949 and 1978; the Race of Champions (not to be confused with its modern day stadium-based namesake) at Brands Hatch which was first held in 1965 and last happened in 1983, and was the official British motorsport season curtain-raiser; while the Oulton Park Gold Cup existed as an F1 race on and off from 1954 to 1972. As for why non-championship races existed, it all reflects F1’s conception. The grand prix long pre-dates the F1 world championship, with the first grand prix that in France in 1906 which was some 44 years before the championship came along (some extend it back even further and note a ‘Pau Grand Prix’ in 1901, though that was a city to-city loop rather than a circuit race of the sort we’d recognise today). And when the F1 world championship started it picked but a small number of existing grands prix to provide points for the title. The inaugural world championship had six races (seven if you, yes, include the Indy 500), but they were very much in the minority, as in addition there were some 18 F1 races during 1950 that did not count towards the championship. And for years and decades that followed that’s how the landscape remained, with teams and drivers often keen to take part in championship and non-championship races alike to get their hands on some more prize money. Non-championship races performed other roles too, such as acting as de facto test sessions and shakedown opportunities in an age wherein standalone test days were very rare. For this reason a lot of these races were scheduled in the spring. Occasionally too the meeting acted as a dry run for a new circuit before it got onto the championship schedule proper. This was the case for Mexico City, Imola and Interlagos among others. Non-championship races were popular as well. As the late journalist Alan Henry put it in 2013: “We loved ‘em! And just imagine how much you would still love ‘em now if, as you read this on the sunny Sunday of the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, instead you were en route to Brands Hatch or Silverstone or indeed even Oulton Park to watch a non-championship Formula 1 race involving Jenson Button, Checo Perez, Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Seb Vettel, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes-Benz et al!” There is of course always a risk of over-eulogising such things, and it’s certainly true that some of these races were rather risible affairs. Pity anyone who turned up to Vallelunga in mid-1972 for the Grand Prix of the Republic of Italy to find only seven cars to entertain them, and the same number of F1 cars proper were at the 1979 Race of Champions so the field had to be padded out with machines from the short-lived British F1 series. Some non-championship races were downright curious, not least in 1974 when the fraternity was invited to remain in Brazil for an extra week after the grand prix proper to attend a street race in Brasilia, put on for a variety of political reasons by the country’s then-President. He named the race after himself in case anyone didn’t get the message. As it was only half of the field took up the offer and the race was tepid. F1 machines never laid rubber on the place again. But this was far from being the norm. Most of the greats of the time took part in non-championship races and many won them. Some of the drives have gone into folklore, such as Jochen Rindt’s 1969 Silverstone International Trophy effort as well as Lotus’s Jacky Ickx triumphing in the 1974 Race of Champions in Brands Hatch’s teeming rain, taking the lead from Niki Lauda’s Ferrari around the outside of Paddock. Come the 1980s the non-championship race suddenly petered out however. Discounting two of them that were an offshoot of the FISA-FOCA war, the only post 1970s non-championship F1 race was the final Brands Hatch Race of Champions in 1983, which was won by Keke Rosberg’s Williams (giving Rosberg the distinction of having won both the final F1 International Trophy – which he took in torrential rain driving for Theodore in 1978 – and the final F1 Race of Champions). And you can probably guess the reasons why these races died out. The commercial and prestige value of the F1 world championship grew over time and dwarfed other available races. The championship’s calendar has grown too, and that plus the advent of 24/7 testing meant non-championship races were harder to find space for. Plus drivers as precious commercial assets to be protected from unnecessary injury also grew in focus. But what of today, where testing is severely restricted and – touch several pieces of wood – injury in action is much less common. Might the non-championship race have a role once more? The plusses of such races would be almost never-ending. Of course, we fans would have more racing to watch. We can add that Liberty has been flying several kites on changing F1’s weekend format, and a non-championship meeting would be the perfect place to try innovations out. Shorter races; having two races in a weekend a la F2; squeezing everything into a single day a la Formula E; qualifying races; reverse grids… Perhaps even, purely for the sake of spicing up the non-championship races, you could apply some success ballast. Think of the disastrous knockout qualifying from early 2016. Had that been tried – then quietly dropped – in a non-championship event rather than at F1’s actual curtain-raiser it would have been a lot less offensive. There are plenty of other benefits too. Just like back in the day the race meetings could become effective test sessions and shakedowns, which surely would be welcomed by the teams in an age wherein as mentioned such opportunities are limited. Plus trying a new car, aero part, system or whatever in a race, as opposed to a test, surely would have more simulation value to teams given it’s a closer replication of a race weekend for real. Equally sponsors surely would welcome the additional airing the races would provide; while circuits – and F1 itself – would welcome the additional ticket sales. Non-championship races could also provide desperately-needed race opportunities for third drivers and others waiting patiently for their chance. Potentially a non-championship race rule could be that at least one nominal reserve or rookie pilot has to be raced. So, with all that, just think if this weekend coming we had Esteban Ocon in a Mercedes alongside Lewis Hamilton to look forward to; Dan Ticktum in a Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen. At Imola. Yet there are at least two conspicuous stumbling blocks; perhaps insurmountable ones. One is that with a 21-races-and-growing calendar (Liberty’s apparently pushing for 25) finding spare weekends to schedule non-championship races would not be the work of a moment. The size of the existing itinerary already is a bone of contention and your average F1 travelling circus member already spends 30 weeks or more of the year on the road. They’d be unlikely to welcome more. Perhaps non-championship races could be held during existing grand prix weekends (certainly Kyle Busch in NASCAR has no problem with taking part in several races in a weekend; neither did Stirling Moss back in the day). Failing that, perhaps they could be held instead of the existing scheduled test days? These would head off the scheduling problem but would have the drawback of having non-championship races held at the same circuit that had just held or was just about to hold a championship race proper, thus depriving the non-championship race of a lot of its potential novelty. The other stumbling block is likely even greater, as it’s to do with all-important commerce. Even in F1’s post-Bernie age, hosting fees are important and it’s in the interest of the commercial rights holders to have more potential hosts than calendar slots, making it a sellers’ market. Circuits having the ability to go off and hold a non-championship race instead would greatly reduce Liberty’s bargaining power. Even if you charged a hosting fee for the non-championship race, presumably a non-championship fee would necessarily have to be lower than one for real, and Liberty would not welcome being undercut. With that, the non-championship F1 race may be one thing that has to remain in the past. And be argued about by pedants.
  13. MIKA27

    FORMULA 1

    INSIDE LINE: SEB, CHILL ON THE MEDIA AND FOCUS ON BEATING CHARLES When a four-time Formula 1 World Champion speaks you listen, thus when Sebastian Vettel had a stab at the media when questioned from the floor, during the post-Chinese Grand Prix press conference, it revealed an interesting side to the German’s demeanour under pressure. That he is under pressure is obvious – even Ross Brawn reckons so – therefore the first rule in the ‘Celebs Under Media Scrutiny Manual’ is of course to attack the media and, as a result, the beleaguered VIP instantly gets 90% of the sympathy vote from the masses. Seb clearly has the manual. We are not alone in reporting that this is something of an ‘all or nothing season‘ for Seb, his fifth year for the Scuderia and the title is already edging out of reach and we are only three races into the new season. The background to his outburst is that he is having a torrid start to the season, first he faces the very real prospect of being bettered by teammate Charles Leclerc and, second, the fact that for a fifth season running the Reds have once again failed to provide him with a superior car. There is no doubt that Seb is a great race driver but he falls into the category of ‘great drivers that needs the best car to shine’ like no other can, but once they do not have the package built around them their greatness diminishes somewhat. He is in illustrious company as Jim Clark, Nigel Mansell and Jacques Villeneuve are also cut from the same nomex. In great cars, their majesty and greatness can flourish and is unmatched but anything less than a fantastic weapon becomes a problem. In contrast, there are those greats that no matter what you give them they will drive the wheels off it: Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Fernando Alonso, Gilles Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher, etc. Hence Seb’s four fantastic F1 World Championship winning years with Red Bull were the result of a great driver and the best car in harmony, with the German able to extract maximum from the near perfect packages he had at his disposal – which the RB6, RB7, RB8 and RB9 were. His teammate at the time Mark Webber could not match him. But when the RB10 came along, a car not to his liking, Seb was humbled by Daniel Ricciardo in 2014, coinciding with the new hybrid turbo engine rules. I would venture that this was the beginning of the German’s downfall because, to me, he has never really been comfortable with the technology and the way these cars are driven. But that’s a chapter for his book of excuses. From this side of the fence, I would imagine this is the consensus of the unbiased media brigade and neutral fans out there. There is no doubt that Seb is well respected but the reason he is copping flak from media and fans (them too) is because he is not delivering at the highest level AND, annoyingly, the fact that Ferrari are denying Charles Leclerc to blossom when the youngster is proving to be as fast, if not faster, than the man ten years his senior in the sister car. Although the subject is fodder for another Inside Line, facts are Ferrari are fumbling their driver management immensely. First in Australia and now, most blatantly and unashamedly, in China when they lobotomised Charles on the world stage with everyone watching. It was gory. In the wake of the race, during the press conference and after the pleasantries of the early questions, L’Equipe reporter Frederic Ferret asked the most obvious question: Shots fired! In that para alone I am sure psychologists would have a field day. Even an armchair shrink would ask what was he doing thinking about the media when he should have been racing hard? Was that why he could not pull away when he told his team he was faster than his teammate and they gave him a free pass? Then in the next sentence, he blames all of the media – not cool – because apart from most of the Brit media posse with their tribal loyalties – he has many friends on our side of the fence. Credit to him and the smart chap that he is, he immediately realised the obvious faux pas, he then relented with “some of you” to soften the blow. I would imagine that Seb does not visit grandprix247.com, but clearly he reads the stuff out there, the media he is bitching about are the ones that are on his radar, which I imagine would be the heavy hitters of the industry. And history shows that messing with the Italian media has been the downfall of many at Maranello and to be honest they have been mighty kind on Seb considering the circumstances. But now questions are being asked, and Seb’s statements won’t be well received because the rough ride has hardly started. It is interesting that his gripe is with “all of you” (bad?) media people who by his account misinterpret him, twist his words, lose him in translation etc. Where have we heard that before? While he berates the phantom ‘enemy’ he should also appreciate that our powder is actually being kept dry on his behalf, because one of many uncomfortable questions we could be asking him is: Are you not past it Seb?
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  15. The Six Billion Dollar Man Movie With Mark Wahlberg Is Back On It feels like a Six Million Dollar Man movie starring Mark Wahlberg has been in the works for six million years. In that time directors have come and gone, as have producers and release dates, but now a new director is on board who could get the film back on track. That director is Travis Knight, who is coming off the critically acclaimed but financially disappointing Bumblebee. Variety reports he’s boarded the big-screen adaptation of the TV show about a secret agent who gains superhuman abilities when he’s upgraded with bionic parts. And though the character, originally played by Lee Majors, was worth $6 million in the 1970s, inflation has upped that number by 1,000 percent. Wahlberg will be The Six Billion Dollar Man. As recently as last year, the film had a summer 2020 release date, but that was quietly taken off the table at some point. “It’s a matter of finding the right director,” Wahlberg told Screenrant in November. “We’ve been close many times...It’s one of those things where you have to keep pushing, you have to keep plugging away, and eventually, it’ll come together, and hopefully, we’ll be in a situation where I find myself making the best possible version of the movie.” It seems that Knight, who also directed Kubo and the Two Strings and runs Laika, is that director. If he gets to work soon, a 2021 release seems possible.
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