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Thursday, 22 November 2012

21 Years & 50,000 Hits - A Collection Of Thoughts

Pic unrelated.
Well, it's about time I wrote something here. Considering this blog has received 50,000 hits and it is/was my 21st birthday, I'm practically required to write something by unwritten laws, some of which I have set myself. I'm told the best writing is impulsive, so with a completely random picture chosen from my HDD, let's see what results of the next half hour or so. 2:14.

Well, first of all, there's the 50k views. Actually no, FIRST of all there's the fact that I've only gone and turned 21. I know, it was careless, I don't know what I was thinking, but it's happened now and I can't change it. My first birthday away from family is a weird one, although they did keep me feeling connected with them, so it was good as I could possibly hope for in that respect, plus I'm going home at the weekend to see them in person (and get more presents!), at which point I shall rejoin the Punto in the dance between man and machine that only a car or motorbike can provide. A motorbike is a closer, more physical dance, like Salsa, and such raunchy dancing isn't really my thing, as exciting as I'm sure it is, so it'll always be cars first for me. So that'll be fun. I'll have to choose my roads properly this time to get the most out of it, as well as see how Wokingham has evolved in the last month.

Click to embiggen.
Second of all, thanks for clicking. Whether you got here because you're on Jalopnik/Oppo+ or because you Googled your way here, hits are hits, and it's something I've been keeping track of out of habit. In fact - can I admit this? - every 1000 hits, I screen-cap the Total Page Views and save it. Yup. How thrilling is that? There's still stuff I've been meaning to do, some of which is now a little out of date, but I'm sure I can write around that. For example, barrel sprinting a Toyota GT86. How I've not pasted that across my blog and linked to it seven times, I don't know. I guess moving out interfered.  Not uploading a 2012 Goodwood FOS Mega-Gallery from July, however, is somewhat inexcusable. Regular readers - all 2 or 3 of you - may also have noticed that lack of Formula 1 posts of late. That's not because I've stopped bothering or stopped paying attention to the season. They'll be back after the season finale this weekend, with both a recap/summary and, for most of them, a lap-by-lap account to support it. Consider those posts as something to do when you get withdrawal symptoms over the winter period.

Speaking of F1, what a fucking season! It's been unbelievable, hasn't it? 7 winners in 7 races at the start while people scrambled for a solution to the blown diffuser ban and an understanding of the updated Pirelli tyres, the latter of which they do not stop going on about, and then Red Bull kicked their car until it worked as well as last year's, leading to four victories in a row for Sebastian Vettel (all at Asian GPs, as it happens). After leaving Asia for hotter places, Kimi Räikkönen finally won a Grand Prix after returning to the sport. That said, he might have been a little pissed off that the one race he won in his comeback year was in one of the two out of nineteen countries used that don't drink alcohol, which he expressed by swearing at David Coulthard on live TV. Lewis Hamilton suffered two excruciating failures in Singapore and Abu Dhabi Doo that saw him retire from a clear lead. One could thus argue that he should have 50 more points than he does, and be in the hunt for a championship, but then the same argument could also be levelled at Vettel in 2010, and of course the German merman (so-called because he's basically swimming in podium champagne by this point) has suffered the same fate this year too, at the European GP in Valencia which is mercifully being removed from the calendar next year due to Spain not having enough money for two races anymore.

But I digress. Lewis Hamilton, who is of course leaving McLaren for Mercedes next year. Why leave a team he's been with for 14 years in some form or other? Well, you don't marry your first girlfriend, or grow old in your parents' house. Not if you're normal. What's more, Mercedes-AMG have been touted as being the fast ones in 2014 when the rules get shaken up and we get V6 Turbo engines, KERS 'n' TERS (like surf 'n' turf for "flybrid" technology), simpler aerodynamics with enforced low noses and no doubt something else thrown in to slow Red Bull down. We saw a change in aero rules mix the field up in 2009, with Brawn GP rising from the ashes of Honda Racing and dominating up until a Newey-lead Red Bull hit their stride. Lewis and global mainstream brand Mercedes-Benz will be hoping for the same thing two years from now. Until then, wait, I've digressed again...

Coming back to 2012, Hamilton's luck finally turned around as he hoped to do something special with McLaren in the closing stages of their relationship. That thing was winning the first United States Grand Prix since the 2007 race at Indianapolis - a race he also won - and the first ever GP at the much-publicised Circuit Of The Americas, making him the first person since his idol Ayrton Senna to win the US GP in two different locations (Senna's being street circuits at Detroit and Phoenix). The track itself is a sort of Greatest Hits of Grand Prix Circuits, featuring the classics and some of their newer stuff. The first turn of all was a brand new one though, with a 40-metre ascent up to a tight hairpin, and then a rollercoaster-style drop and twist into the esses section reminiscent of Maggots and Becketts and Church at Silverstone, or perhaps the esses of Suzuka. The multi-radius lefts and rights then straighten out into pointier corners and some long straights, like modern "Tilke tracks", before going into a smaller, wider version of the stadium complex of Hockenheimring (which just looks fiddly) and winding through a mirrored and slightly diluted US spinoff of the many-apex'd Turn 8 at Istanbul Park Circuit, taking the drivers into Turn 19, which drops downhill just as you want to get the power down. This lead to many spins and slides wide, to the point where there was just as much rubber on the run-off area as the main track! Turn 20 rounds it all off basically just by joining it all up at the end, like the last turn of an improvised Scalextric track. Thank goodness they had the right piece left over for it...

Not my image. Don't hit me
So yes, well done Americans. You can be proud of that circuit. Not that you wouldn't be anyway. In fact, you seem to be pretty damn proud of everything you've ever done sometimes. This comes back to cars. At the moment there's plenty of hubbub about the upcoming C7 Corvette, as well as the new Cadillac ATS and Dodge SRT Viper SRT-10. Now, I have no reason to deny that Caddy and Dodge have done a great job with these two, and that they mark a big and important step forward for American cars and stuff, but the hype and pride gets annoying. By all means be proud, I don't mean they shouldn't give a fuck, but hype from US journos (at least the ones at Jalopnik) and the subsequent assumptions from readers that they're suddenly the best cars of their entire genre is too much, and people pushing Corvettes and Mustangs on you when you might like European or Japanese equivalents, while throwing around price tags and Nürburgring lap times and "FUCK YEAH" and "SUCK IT" in an overly competitive way is just a turn-off, in the same way that being forced to learn the violin makes you hate the instrument with an unbridled passion. They're even doing it with the Ford Focus ST, whose only truly American component as far as I'm aware is the badge. You can't force something on people if you want them to a) like it, or b) take it seriously themselves. If I say that I want an American saloon or sports car over a European one now, it'll feel like they've "won" somehow, as silly as that may sound. Also, whether it's as quick or not, a Mustang is not an M3, and the minute it becomes one is the minute it stops being the proper Muscle Car it's supposed to be - the M3 is serious, whereas a Mustang or Monaro or Camaro or Challenger should be more fun and crazy. Save the sports car stuff for the 'Vette, because that's what it's meant to be.

The reason I like muscle cars (when no-one's looking) is because they're like cartoon characters in real life. That's their appeal. Make them drive, look and feel like sports cars and they'll have lost that appeal. It just turns from cartoon to yet another live action flick, perhaps with more colours. Mercedes-Benz's AMG department know what's up. They make the C63, which is a normal car with a HUGE V8 that loves going sideways and sounding like a NASCAR car in a thunderstorm (although not quite as well as the SLS does that). That's a muscle car, despite being German, and the Coupé Black Series enhances that further with MORE POWER and more angry bits on it. Ford should rival AMG with the next Mustang, not M. Oh, and if I get an angry rebuttal from someone saying that the same thing happens here, then that's not me, and I don't like over-hyping regardless of nationality.

But anyway, angry blogger mode can wait until I need to vent about something and pick on something like stanced cars for making no sense to me whatsoever.

Ok, that took more than half an hour.

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