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July 10, 2007

British Grand Prix 2007

British GP 2007 - (C) Nathaniel Ho 2007 -  6

I wasn't originally planning on going to the British GP at all until John suggested it. John thought it would be a nice weekend out for the boys. We decided would get a ticket for Paul for his birthday (he's very greatful to all his contributors). Unfortunately, it wasn't the surprise I hoped it would be... and it was all my fault. I had totally lost track of who I could and could not tell, and I made the smooth move telling the birthday boy!

Me (to Paul): "...I was talking to Rich's friend yesterday, turns out he's a F1 fan too and I asked him if he wanted to come to the Grand Prix with us."
Paul: "Huh? What do you mean [going to the Grand Prix]?"
Me: [Expletives]

British GP 2007 - (C) Nathaniel Ho 2007 -  7


John and Paul went on Friday, to scout the best locations whilst watching Free Practice. We all stayed at Rich's house in Milton Keynes which meant we were very close to the circuit. We set ourselves down at Copse, a corner that I like a lot in a Stockholm syndrome way - it tried to kill me once before. We had contemplated getting a Kangaroo TV, but I thought the big TV right next to us would do just fine. Battling with the wire fence (and the back of people's heads) all weekend, I struggled to get decent pictures. One thing that always strikes you when you've not seen F1 cars in real life for a while is the noise! I'm sure the V10's used to be so powerful it felt like it was changing your heartbeat just from the sound waves.

Qualifying was quite good. I could make out what was going on quite well. Kimi's lap was good and I was surprised he came top despite his wiggle out of Luffield. That was bettered only by Hamilton who had smashed it with a 1min 19.997. The crowd just errupted in jubilation.

We tried to watch the GP2 qualifying after that but we just got bored. Thankfully there were many other things we could do. Like retail therapy: John got himself a nice orange Spyker cap. (Unfortunately, Christijan Albers doesn't drive for them anymore) and Rich got himself a McLaren cap but purposely made sure it wasn't Hamilton version (he thinks he's overhyped).

We popped down the the BMW Sauber Pit Lane Park, which was full of fun activities. Unfortunately we missed the donut making. John and Paul were lucky enough to see Mansell down there on Friday.

British GP 2007 - (C) Nathaniel Ho 2007 -  12


We did not want to get out of bed, but we made it there at 6.15am. There were a lot of people around, even the ice-cream vendors were open for business. Down at Copse we'd only managed to get the last row to set up our chairs. Then we all peeled off on walkabouts before the circus show started. As always there was the Red Arrows performance - spectacular aerobatics as usual.

The F1 race was good. Naturally we all expected (as opposed to 'hoped') Hamilton to win. Which unfortunately didn't happen. Kimi Raikkonen won, and once again I felt indifferent - only 12 months ago I would have loved it if he had won, but I dislike red cars more than I like Raikkonen. 

I have never ever seen so many people walk around in the same F1 T-shirt in the same way that football fans do. 100,000 people turned up on Sunday, and I'm sure you could say 50% of them were wearing Vodafone McLaren T-shirts. Amazing. But not as amazing as being able to leave the circuit directly after the race and not hit any traffic! Well done to the organisers. Hopefully Hamilton will win it next year.

British GP 2007 - (C) Nathaniel Ho 2007 -  10British GP 2007 - (C) Nathaniel Ho 2007 -  9


September 20, 2006

The Legendary Gladiators of Motorsport: Nigel Mansell

I was rumbling through a shoe box full of childhood memorabilia the other day and I came across my little book all about my motor racing hero Nigel Mansell. I read it to mind myself of what a legend he really was.


No sportsmen today can compare to this insane mustached gladiator who has been knocked out unconcious in accidents more times than a normal human being sleeps. His bravery on track gave him no fear to overtake anybody (only Montoya comes close at times of replicating this) and no fear of crashing. Every debut in a new racing series he had was greeted by either:
a) Catastrophic accident which causes neck-breaking and paralysis
b) Sitting in the cockpit whilst a pool of petrol gives 1st degree burns all over his back

Anything that moves faster than 30mph is dangerous.

...he said. So that’s why he always made sure that he was doing at least 130mph when he crashed into walls! His resilience was just amazing, always bouncing back (gently) from neck-injuries. I surely believe he must hold a record for the number of times he’s rolled a car over, or the record for the number of times he’s been thrown out of a car into a wooden fence. This amount of grit and determination throughout a long career where he sold his home a few times in order to buy a race car. His story is a one of a long struggle with many many trials along the way. He was always runner-up due to freak accidents: missing wheelnuts, rolls, etc. One time he had to get out of his car and push it (uphill) to the finish line, in sweltering heat in order to finish the race. He finally reached his goal in 1992 to become FIA F1 World Champion after 12 years in the sport. I was only 6 years old at the time, I can’t remember much apart from one race, Hockenheim (I think) where he was creaming the field effortlessly whilst I chanted his name repeatedly as the exciteable kid I was!

Literally dicing death, they were truly heroes in those days. He was so ‘normal’ in physique: fairly podgy, sported a moustache and old enough to get along with your parents in a PTA meeting (he won the championship aged 39, Alonso was 24 when he won it last year). Since retiring he’s done only low-key stuff, like touring cars and golf. But his recent comeback in GP Masters has conjured up the old fans’ enthusiasm with their ‘Mansell’-Union Jack flags. Come on Nige!

September 10, 2006

Don't Retire

I’ve never been a Schumacher fan. I’ve always loved to hate him throughout the following battles: Hill vs. Schumacher, Villeneuve vs. Schumacher, Hakkinen vs. Schumacher. But what I can’t deny is the genius he is, watching a master at work makes this a very special time in history and I appreciate his prescence in Formula1 (and I will do even more when he has retired). Therefore I don’t want him to retire – he’s not slow and he’s not getting old.

I’m sure some other drivers like Kimi and Alonso would prefer him to be around. Only by having him in the sport will they get the chance to beat him! I don’t mind where Kimi ends up, he’ll drive the wheels off any thing he gets… and will win. I think Kimi and Schumacher will be the most competitive line up ever. And F1 Racing reported a possibility of Schumacher earning $1billion if he went to BMW. But obviously money is not a deciding factor for Schumacher. At the end of the day, life’s boring after F1, I can’t see what he would be doing outside F1. If he decides his family time is more important and its time to settle down, then I guess he may leave. We’ll find out later today I guess.

August 13, 2006

Grand Prix Masters (OAP Reunion Tour)

Eddie Cheever wins British Round

I was very excited when I heard they were coming to town. Silverstone was to host a round of the GP Masters. This is a small championship for any ex–F1 driver who is aged 45+. Other pre–requisites are: children, and a belly. That's the only way you qualify to enter.

Last year I watched the first race in Kylami, South Africa on TV (with Murray Walker) commentating and it was great. Especially the showing from Emmerson Fittapaldi (or grandad as I call him) who was putting on such an impressive pace after overcoming his fears and reservations as an old man. What a legend. He also had the best one–liners today.

This is the first time I've finished 8th and been welcomed into the press conference!

So Paul's birthday present was tickets to see it. After long drive through some atrocious weather we got to Silverstone to watch the end of a British F3 race (Mike Conway won all the way). It was windy and cold. Poor Paul who only found out about this at dinner the night before, had packed no warm clothing for his weekend stay in London. We had four seasons in one day (like one of the driving instructors had told us earlier in the year). So we braved the weather along with other Mansell fans who had dug out their "Mansell" Union Jacks from the 1990s. Rob was prepared in a rain coat, we had 2 umbrellas: it rained like autumn, winter wind chill froze your ears and the track was very wet for the GP masters' race.

Derek Warwick was lined 4th, poised ready to seize the oppourtunity with Nigel Mansell in the back (and later Mansell in the pits with technical problems), but first lap collision took him out the race. We watched at Stowe as they gunned round in a semi–tiptoeing state. Taming their 650bhp beasts. One thing I've noticed is that quite a few of them are slow to react on upshifts, hitting the limiter quite often. But their car control is still there. The prospect of a charging Mansell starting 3rd last was not to be due to mechanical problems. He had 1 lap, where he span about 20 times, until he retired. Not a good day for all the British and Mansell fans. I wanted to see my hero in action :(

Anyway the 'charge from the back of the grid' was dutifully taken up by the Belgian: Erik Van der Poele. He scythed through the field and was chasing down leader Eddie Cheever non–stop, and they switched leading quite often until Erik span about 3 times on the dying laps. Fun to watch. At the end of the race, the weather cleared up for the remaining Thoroughbred GP, F3000 and F3 races. Overall it was a nice day out, real real real shame about our Nigel Mansell, I was soooo looking forward to a good showing from him. After that race, the summer sun came out for the remaining F3, F3000 and Throughbred GP races. I will upload some of the 600 pictures I took soon.

August 04, 2006

You Wanted Pictures: Goodwood 2006

Fiesta Rally Car
Camera: Canon EOS 350D
Lens: Canon EF–S 18–55mm f3.5–5.6
Filter: Skylight 1A
Date: 7th July 2006
Location: Rally Stage, Goodwood Manor
Focal Length: 49mm
Shutter: 1/50
Aperture: F/5.6
ISO: 100

Bowler Wildcat
Camera: Canon EOS 350D
Lens: Canon EF–S 18–55mm f3.5–5.6
Filter: Skylight 1A
Date: 7th July 2006
Location: Some random hill leading up to Rally Stage, Goodwood Manor
Focal Length: 55mm
Shutter: 1/800
Aperture: F/5.6
ISO: 400
Comments: Forgot to crank down ISO a notch

Cos I'm feeling generous

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