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Exciting Season Beckons…

In Formula1 on March 10, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Looking at the preseason testing results, I cant help but say one of the drivers of the top 4 teams is going to finish low in points at the end of the race which according to me is all the ingredients in the making of an exciting season for the F1 enthusiasts though very annoying for the championship potential drivers. For the first time after 1993, refueling is not allowed in the race and this makes things even more interesting. The points system is also in for a revamp with the points extending to the 10th place rewarding two more cars. I feel this would encourage the smaller teams whose goal mainly was to survive all the races will change to finishing inside the top 10. The points in decreasing order are 25,18,15,12,10,8,6,4,2,1. Lets take a quick look at the potential championship winning teams/drivers and the teams which are crucial in breaking away the points from them.

The teams which are in contention for the constructors championship this year are McLarenF1, Scuderia Ferrari, Red bull Racing and Mercedes Grand Prix. Yes, there are 4 contenders. The preseason testing separates each other by 0.4 a sec on an average and the rest of the pack by 2.5 considering all the 4 days at Barcelona.

McLarenF1 :  The fastest car among the other teams, Lewis stands strong this season with everybody’s money on him. With the inclusion of the current champion Button, Mclaren looks power packed with a strong car and an all British team. But we had seen this before with Kimi-Montoya montage and all hyped up British media. Will the duo break the British jinx of self hyped second place results? will Button-Lewis marriage live up to the preseason hype? only results but not time will reveal.

Scuderia Ferrari : After the forgettable drive at Mclaren and two seasons with an average car, Alonso looked solid at the testing with the Ferrari. Coming back from the injury, Massa was at his regular ever improving best. After poor showing in the initial races last season, ferrari solely worked on the 2010 car ignoring upgrades to their last year car. They started from scratch to build the new F10. Ferrari will also be resuming the traffic light system for the pit stops after a debacle at the Singapore GP in 2008, which costed Massa the race and the outcome would have been different for the constructors championship. The F10 looks promising and with the lineup of Mass-Alonso, nothing can separate it from McLaren in their chances.

Redbull Racing: With Victory in the Last three races of the 2009 season, Redbull looks to carry their momentum into the 2010 season with some strong showing in the preseason testing by Webber and “baby schumi” Vettel. The RBR team had a strong car but not a competitive engine in the beginning of the season last year. But the prodigious Vettel took the driver championship fight till the last race which just speaks for the team’s development program. The qualifying  specialist Mark Webber looks to relieve himself of this tag as he showed good promise in the preseason testing but again he is a specialist in getting those times, so we cant bet anything on Webber’s driver championship chances. With Renault set to make up for their under performing engine from 2009, RBR team is a strong contender for the Constructors and the Driver’s title, though I can strongly say that only Vettel might give it all for the later.

Mercedes Grand Prix : The rain master chose to make his comeback with long time pal Ross Brawn’s formerly Brawn GP. The Mercedes car didn’t look ground breaking in the preseason testing and further disappointed many after the president in charge of the team said “I would not see our team in the role of favorites”.  The team aims at stronger races in the later part of the season but you never know with the Mercedes development program, they could spring few surprises with Michael Schumacher at the wheel. What disspointed me personally was that Nico Rosberg was given the drive ahead of Nick Heifeld who has ten f1 season under him with more podium finishes than Rosberg though both are yet to win a race. All in all this all-German team, looks more of a national outfit and the F1 2010 season like an Anglo-German showdown with the all British Mclaren F1 team. It would be interesting to see how these two teams fare by the end of the season as Mercedes still has a minor stake in McLaren F1 team.

The teams which might affect the title chances of the above 4 are BMW Sauber, Force India, Williams and Toro Rosso. These  cars had pretty strong lap times in the preseason testing but have been very inconsistent.  I would say the three teams could have few strong finishes inside the top10 but I am not sure how the new Torro Rosso drivers would perform which could make all the difference in the title campaign of the top 4 teams. Watch out for Vitantonio Liuzzi and Pedro de la Rosa who return to the driver seats at Force India and BMW Sauber this year after being reserve drivers for the Force India and Mclaren respectively. Pedro now 38 years old set a record for driving highest number of miles for the Mclaren team, being a reserve driver from 2003-2009.

Come this 13th the incredible journey which crosses four continents begins where the rivlaries resume, the young ones turn great while the great one returns. This season will be like never before where a  prediction might become a mere speculation. I will leave you with a preview of the 1st race of the season with Mark Webber – the Bahrain Grand Prix.

P.S : You can join us for Fantasy F1 at http://www.espnstar.com/f1fantasy/

and send a request on this post for joining our league.

Shopping time…

In Cricket on January 19, 2010 at 1:00 am

With just over 50 days remaining for the third edition of cricket’s commercial extravaganza, each of the eight teams want their share of the imports up for auction in the next couple of hours. We will have a breif look at the key players in their priced categories.

$20,ooo: Of the four players listed in this category, Ashley Noffke(considering the promise all through his injury rigged career) and Ryan ten Doeschate, the dutch star player would be good buys considering the lowest base price on them. Teams would rather wait for Weeraratne to perform on the bigger scene despite his name for big hitting abiities and being a decent bowling option.

$50,000: I would be interested in Welegedara, Luke Pomersbach, Clint McKay, Yusuf Abdulla, Tyron Henderson in the initial rounds over the rest of the pack considering their recent form and given their T20 reputation. I would wait on Darren Bravo to live upto his reputation rather make a premature investment on him.

$100,000: Shane Bond, Shakib Al Hassan, Wavell Hinds,  Jonathan Trott  might be the first round hot picks. It would be really interesting to see how the franchises plan on the Pakistani players considering the Indian Government’s Love-Hate ties with Pakistan. This is crucial as Rana Naved, Umar Gul,Abdur Razzaq, Mohd.Aamer are quality buys on any given day.

$200,000: The Self Proclaimed king (at least on the scalp :p) of T20, Keiron Pollard is the most talked about player in this auction. With his heroics in the Champions League, it would be a steal if the teams snatch him for $750,000 or less. Wayne Parnell, Eoin Morgon, Doug Bollinger would be on every team’s plate especially with Doug’s performance in the Chanpions league on the Indian Soil. I was not surprised with Mark Ramprakash’s inclusion in the auctoin with his healthy average in T20s ( just over 30), but would be really surprised if he is bought for more than $400,000.  Sohail Tanvir might miss out on his pay cut but lets wait and see how the teams decide on buying the imports from Pakistan.

$250,000: I was surprised to see  Graeme Swann in this bracket but not Keiron Pollard.  But considering the worst case Swann will pocket a bounty of $250,000 in the worst case considering the sum he earns in England. Lets wait and see on Afridi (another import from pakistan), but the teams looking for Haddin would be Mumbai and Rajasthan with the other teams already having a healthy bench for wicket keepers. This might not be a good news for Haddin considering his value versus the pay but most likely Mumbai might outbid Rajsathan considering Rajasthan’s cheap buys, thats what I am speculating on.

With just few more hours remaining, the results for the new editon of ” Who is the new Millionaire” will be out. Watch out for more on this space…

AVATAR

In Entertainment on December 19, 2009 at 11:51 pm

A wait of 12 years for a movie from your favorite director, was it worth it? Just like many around me, I was very skeptical about the movie, watching the blue creatures in the trailers. Dubbed as the most expensive movie ever made by man, Avatar promised a 3D experience like never before and it lived upto it.  Its kind of a cliche these days that we hardly find any bad performances in a movie made by the leading directors, but this movie would stand out from the rest considering the animation aspect of the characters. Team Avatar simply excels in portraying every detail of their ideas. By the time the last frame rolled I was absolutely in love with Pandora, the moon of a distant planet where all the narration takes place. A decent emotional scene from a regular love story always gives out a feel good emotion but imagine it happening in a bioluminescensent  environment during Pandora’s night enhanced by the 3D aspect.

I am sure this movie would be a benchmark on many technical aspects and as many said  ” a pre and post AVATAR era”. By the time the movie finished, I got a feeling that I just visited pandora and came back to Santa Clara, CA. It being a 2hrs 40 min movie, James Cameron made sure that the narration keeps you involved in the movie with the right mix of a good story and mind blowing visual effects.  If your calender is full for the coming week, just make a place for this movie on an imax screen no matter what before some one gives out a spoiler. I am pretty sure it would rewrite all the records created by the Titanic 12 years ago… Great Job Team Avatar, a special mention for James Cameroon for making his dream into a spectacular experience and entertaining us like never before. After completing this post I am driving to the IMAX screen for the next show …

Big Screen Watch Value – 9.7/10.

DVD Watch Value – 8/10.

A Brief Introduction

In Formula1 on December 9, 2009 at 5:18 am

Formula 1

Formula1 is termed as pinnacle of motor racing, the most expensive sport on the planet. Any race car driver’s dream would be to be part of this sporting extravaganza where the best of the best operate. The teams participating are governed by technical regulations, which are designed keeping the cost and safety in mind. The sport’s managing body is FIA – Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile and the participating teams have an association called as FOTA – Formula One Teams Association. To begin our journey we will initially discuss the basic outline of the sport , the number of teams, the engine and tyre suppliers etc. Further more we will discuss about the chances of the participating teams on a race week basis, by the end of which we will be completing the 2010 season. For the those who are new to the sport, every race is set in two days. One being the  Saturday Qualifying and the other being the Sunday race day. The qualifying results will decide the starting lineup for the Sunday’s race.. There would be an official practice on Friday and Saturday morning just before the beginning of the qualifying, where the track will be open for the teams. Each will be allowed two cars to race, the drivers can be chosen from their declared list of regular as well as reserve ones. The top 10 finishers of each race will be awarded points in the decreasing order of 25,18,15,12,10,8,6,4,2,1. The highest number of points accumulated by a team at the end of the season will be awarded the “Constructor’s Championship” and the driver with highest number of points is the “Driver’s Championship”. Lets not waste anymore time with the history and jump into the buildup  for 2010 season in the course which we will discuss the past wherever necessary.

There are 12 participating teams in the 2010 Formula1 season, 2 of which are making their debut in F1. The following is the list of teams and their drivers list which confirmed so far.

Teams for 2010:

Scuderia Ferrari

Drivers:

Felipe Massa

Fernando Alonso

Test Drivers:

Giancarlo Fisichella

Luca Badoer

Marc gene

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

Drivers:

Lewis Hamilton

Jenson Button

Test drivers:

Gary Paffet

Mercedes Grand Prix

Drivers:

Michael Schumacher

Nico Rosberg

Test driver: Nick Heifeld

Renault F1

Drivers:

Robert Kubica

V Petrov

Test drivers:

J d’Ambrosio

H Tung

Red Bull Racing Renault

Drivers:

Sebastian Vettel

Mark Webber

Test drivers:

Brendon Hartley

Daniel Ricciardo

Scuderia Toro Rosso – Ferrari

Drivers:

Sebastian Buemi

Jaime Alguersuari

Test drivers:

Brendon Hartley

Daniel Ricciardo

Force India F1 –Mercedes

Drivers:

Adrain Sutil

Vitantonio Liuzzi

Test drivers: Paul de Resta

Lotus Cosworth

Drivers:

Jarno Trulli

Heiki Kovaleinen

Test drivers: Fairuz Fauzy

Williams Cosworth

Drivers:

Rubens Barichello

Nico HulkenBerg

Test drivers: Valtteri Bottas

Virgin Racing – Cosworth

Drivers:

Timo Glock

Lucas di Grassi

Test drivers:

Andy Saucek

Luiz Razia

HRT F1 Team

Drivers:

Bruno Senna

Karun Chandok

Test drivers: TBA

Team Sauber F1

Drivers:

Pedro de la Rosa

Kamui Komayashi

Test Drivers: TBA

The above mentioned 12 teams either have their own engine supply or purchase the engine from an outside engine supplier. There are 4 engine suppliers for the 2010 season, they are Ferrari used by (Scuderia Ferrari, Team Sauber F1 and Scuderia Torro Rosso), Mercedes (Mclaren , Force India F1 and Merceds GP), Renault (Renualt F1 and RedBull)  and Cosworth (Lotus, Williams, US F1, Virgin GP and Campos Meta F1). The sole tyre supplier for the 2010 season is Bridgestone which will be its last year of its association with Formula1.

The qualifying would be same as 2009 season except for the fact that the slowest 7 cars instead of 6 will be not participate in the further rounds of qualifying forming the positions 18-24 at the back of the grid. In the next round the 7 slowest cars of the 17 will not qualify for the next round filling the 11-17 positions on the grid. And in the final round, the remaining 10 cars would slog it out for the 1-10 formation. The cars participating in the third qualifying should used the same set of tyres to start the race where as the remaning cars can have a new set of tyres. The  rule changes for the 2010 season can be viewed here http://www.formula1.com/inside_f1/rules_and_regulations/

The major changes are which are going to effect the 2010 season are

1. No Refueling during the entire race, which has a corollary of increased car weight from 605kg to 620kg.

2.  No tyre warmers.

3.  No Rpm limit on Capped teams.

Coming to the budget restrictions, considering the recession across the globe and to protect the smaller teams from not leaving the sport and to attract new teams, the FIA have been laying a cap on the budget of the teams, so that the teams with lower budgets wont be at a disadvantage. But considering the high end development of the cars, the FIA has chosen to categorize this. Teams have the option of following the FIA budget cap and the other being unlimited budget. To make sure the teams which choose the option of the stringent cost cap compete with the uncapped teams, they will enjoy more technical freedom like

1.Movable wings both on the front and rear side.

2. Unlimited Engine  and Gearbox changes.

3. Engine without any Rpm limit.

So with the above introduction and information we sign off here by not burdening our readers with any more details but will be following up with the articles on the tyre classifications, rules discussion, the qualifying, race strategies and off course the information on teams every race week.

Till then watch out for our posts on the players auction for IPL3 and season preivews for 2010.

Adios Amigos….

15 minutes

In Entertainment on November 29, 2009 at 5:14 am

What would be the consequences when people love their work or they are damn good about what they do?Just to put it another way, what happens when two people involved in a series of crimes are up against NYC’s high profile cop and an arson investigator, all of whom fit the above assumption.  Now you may get a feeling that bad guys create a big mess and  end up in jail or die while the good guys save the day but the unpredictability of the plot makes 15 minutes an edge of the seat thriller.  Karel Roden and Oleg Taktarov excel in their characters as European guys, special mention to Oleg with his comic timing in the midst of seriousness of the film; where as Edward Burns was decent in his role as an arson investigator . It was another day at work for Robert De Nero where he was flawless as a high profile cop and and Charlize Theron was a surprise in her short role. A good portrayal of characters with a gripping screenplay makes 15 minutes an entertaining length of 2 hours.

Big Screen Watch Value  : 7.6/10

DVD Watch Value :  8.4/10

The Art of Remaining Champions

In Cricket on November 25, 2009 at 11:18 pm

A decade ago, the team which wins the world cup was taken for granted irrespective of their success in the following years as the undisputed champions of the game until the next edition comes again. But today, thanks to the ICC rankings and the impeccable approach of the Aussie board, the situation is different and interesting. Cricket Australia just set the example of what champions are made of and defined consistency with their results over the last decade.

The recent India-Australia one days series speaks for this. Australia were a completely depleted side when they arrived for the first odi and there was little doubt in mind who were the favourites. The rest was history. What surprised me was the bench strength which Australia produced over the years that resulted in their success despite the injuries to their key players. So what does it take to perform consistently? whats the Aussie secret? what are these guys doin which some of the richest boards in the world nor the most talented bunch are able to…

Lets start from ground zero.  The Aussie Domestic cricket structure is second to none. Does this mean that other test playing countries like  England, South Africa are second in their facilities. If we take a closer look at the players who represent their countries, the Aussie board wants the players to go through the grind of domestic cricket and the average player makes his international debut as a 28-30 year old unless you are extremely talented as a Ricky Ponting or a Michael Clarke. This would help the guys go through all kinds of experience like A tours to alien conditions and it makes the job easier for the boards to pick the best. It’s like the picking the best players from college football into NFL. When you look at the system in Asia where an average player makes his debut at 19-22  has relatively less experience of handling things and if he is not good he goes out of the side at the expense of the result of the game for the team. This is somewhat different to England or West Indies where they have issues altogether something different. Thats where the other top teams (sans Aus) are not matching the consistency of the Aussies. When you compare the players in the Indian team, it is clearly evident from the performances of Dhoni, Gambhir who had to go through the process of domestic cricket and then make it to the Indian team with those of Suresh Raina, Ishanth Sharma or Rohit Sharma.

The other scenario where the Aussie board differs from the rest of the world is team selection.  Take the case of Herschelle Gibbs. The South African board entertained him despite his inconsistent run considering his “past”  record. Compare this with Mathew Hayden where he was dropped in 2006 despite having a good run in the previous seasons. This results oriented approach drew lot of flak but the tough only survived as we know what happened when the mighty Hayden came back. And there are many cases not to mention Michael Bevan and Mark Waugh. At least the Steve brother had a chance in the longer version.

It’s not that there aren’t enough quality players around the world or the lack of administrators, but its the right mix of the board, selection, grooming and utilizing the players when they are at their best, which makes remaining the champions an art.

District 9

In Movies@August 2009 on November 25, 2009 at 11:13 pm

Aliens arriving, aircraft battles , one of the lead characters sacrificing their lives to become heroes and save the day for the earthlings, have seen lot of stuff from my high school days. This was the mindset with which I entered the movie theater. I was completely wrong. What impressed me most was the portrayal of basic human instincts. How does an ordinary man react to extraordinary circumstances which turn his life upside down. There is no doubt that Neil Blomkamp must have been inspired by the apartheid era or the district 6 events but

make some space in your busy time for this one

he succeeds in showing the events of imbalance in a region due to xenophobia. To summarize the movie without revealing the plot, District9 is a struggle of a common man and an alien father against the system defying all odds. One thing which the movie promises is, it’s not one of those predictable all blowing up boring happy endings.  I am happy that I didn’t had to sit through the unnecessary blowing up of stuff which were offered all through the summer but was treated to a tight plot and a gripping screenplay. District9 is definitely worth the buck spent.

Big Screen Watch Value – 8.5/10

DVD   Watch Value – 9/10

The merry go round begins

In Formula1 on November 24, 2009 at 3:54 am

The following are the confirmed driver changes for the 2010 season.

Fernando Alonso to Ferrari

Jenson Button to Mclaren

Nico Rosberg to Mercedes

Rubens Barichello to Williams

Timo Glock to Manor

Kimi Raikonen to his home

Robert Kubica to Renault

New teams for the 2010 Season

In Formula1 on November 24, 2009 at 3:53 am

The two teams making their formula1 debut are Virgin Racing and HRT racing.

HRT and Virgin Racing had previous teams in the GP2 and Formula3 series respectively with Virgin(Manor) boasting of Kimi Raikonen and Lemwis Hamilton as their previous Drivers.