Category Archives: Sport

The Dream Has Come True

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Unlike most things in my life, I cannot pinpoint a specific moment, date, or even year when I was first cognisant of being a Cubs fan. That is one part of my life that seems to have always been there. I was born in December 1992 in suburban Chicagoland to a father from the North Side, specifically from Rogers Park and a mother from Kansas City, MO, yet with North Side roots from her Swedish American grandmother, and life long White Sox fan, from Andersonville. In 1992, the Cubs finished fourth in the National League East with a 78-84 record below Pittsburgh, Montréal, and St. Louis and a ways above the New York Mets and their rivals in Philadelphia.

By that time there had been at least three different sides of my family who had settled in Chicago, primarily on the North Side. My Swedish-born third great-grandfather Victor Larsson Lindblad, an ancestor of my mother, was in Chicago by the time of the 1871 Fire, having settled in Andersonville. Ten years later, on my father’s side, my second great-grandfather John Newman settled in Chicago, where he married his wife Frances in 1892, and where their eight children were born between 1893 and 1908. At the turn of the Twentieth Century my grandmother Mary Lou’s grandparents and father moved to Chicago, eventually making their way up to the North Side as well. Finally, in 1914 my great-grandfather Thomas Keane arrived from Ireland (his surname would change to Kane in 1917), initially living on Superior across from the Cathedral, and later moving to Argyle and finally Rogers Park with his wife, my great-grandmother who came to Chicago in 1920. If any one city were said to be the cradle of my family in America, it would have to be Chicago.

I vaguely recall my grandparents mentioning the 1945 World Series. My grandfather was only 15 at the time, while my grandmother was a mere 13 when that incident with the goat took place at Wrigley Field. I never heard them talk about it, presumably it was either too superstitious for good Irish Catholics like themselves, or just a sore subject. That said, out of the two of them my Grandma was the big Cubs fan. As a young child when I was visiting them in their suburban condo, I would often be with her in the kitchen while she cooked watching the Cubs on her small TV, the rabbit ears fully extended to catch the signal from WGN. My Dad recalled how she would more often than not be in attendance at Wrigley on Ladies’ Days with so many other North Siders to cheer on our team. Even as she neared the end of her life, and her health began to go, she would ask for the Cubs game to be put on the TV in her room.

In the summers, my parents and I would go out on Lake Michigan on a sailboat that they co-owned named The Arctic Tern. Our most frequent destination would be a point along the lakeshore that had a good view of Wrigley Field. There we would tune our radio to WGN and listen to Ron Santo and Pat Hughes calling the game. 1998 was one of the biggest years of my childhood in the world of sport: the Bulls concluded their final threepeat, and the Cubs made it into the playoffs for the first time in my life. That was an electric summer, one when the Cubs made headlines for both their pitching and their hitting. While I still have the Tribune‘s poster honouring Sammy Sosa’s record 66 home runs that season, I can remember far better Kerry Wood’s 20 strike out game on May 6 against Houston. What a year that was!

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1998 may stick out so well in my memory thanks to what happened the following year. In June 1999 my parents and I left Chicagoland, moving onto a farm in Kansas City, KS. To say that that was a nutty idea would be accurate. Despite now being 500 miles away, we could still watch the Cubs most days on Superstation WGN, and continued to closely follow our team, despite now slowly gaining a new allegiance to the Kansas City Royals. The funny thing about being both a Cubs and a Royals fan is that it is remarkably easy to support both teams, after all they hardly ever play against each other. Nevertheless, my position has always been that the Cubs will come first, ahead of the Royals in my book.

In the Summer of 2000 I had just finished First Grade and was playing Coach Pitch baseball on the aptly named Pied Piper Pest Control Team at the Wyandotte County Sports Association fields in Kansas City, KS with a bunch of my classmates from St Pat’s School. At about the same time there was a TV commercial that kept appearing during the shows that my cousins and I would watch that showed a young boy using a big baseball bat, either coloured red or blue, and suddenly gaining the talent and strength of either Mark McGwire of the Cardinals or Sammy Sosa of the Cubs. I can tell you one thing for certain about that May, I really wanted that bat, because as the new kid at school I needed every opportunity I got to impress. Plus, as a 7 year old Cub fan how could I not want to be able to hit the ball like Sammy Sosa? To put it simply, I never got the bat, and probably for the better as I only ever hit the ball once in my entire one-season career as a left fielder for the Pied Piper Pest Control coach pitch team.

By the time the Cubs began getting hot again in 2003 I was used to watching them play from afar. That Spring I actually attended my first game at Wrigley Field on 23 April 2003, a monumental day in my life, yet one that I remember as being slightly boring and long. We sat in the bleachers, far enough away from home plate that it was very hard for me to see anything that was going on there. The Cubs ended up losing that game that few probably remember to the Padres 2-0. As 2003 progressed it seemed more and more likely that the Cubs were on fire and ready for another playoff run. Sure enough, in their 128th season the Cubs won National League Central with an 88-74 record.

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That Fall was one that I will never, never forget. In the Divisional Series the Cubs faced off against the Atlanta Braves, a strong team, yet one whom the Cubs beat 3 games to 2 at Turner Field. As the Pennant race came along, I was more excited than I had been in years for the Cubs, who now faced the Florida Marlins. The Marlins seemed like a surmountable team, one that the Cubs could take. To me, the Cubs were nigh invincible, the team that was destined to win the 2003 World Series, to end the 95 year drought. I was always so excited to see Sammy Sosa, Moises Alou, Aramis Ramírez, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, and Matt Clement take to the field. My Dad would tell so many stories about the great Cubs of 1969, of Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, and Billy Williams; how they electrified Chicago with their fun style of play, and how they led the National League until the last moments of the Pennant race. Like the ’69 Cubs, the ’03 Cubs were equally electric, but fell short of their goal. Some blame Steve Bartman for putting the team off of their mojo, but as far as I’m concerned, the tension of the moment got to the guys on the field, and the Cubs collapsed back into obscurity for the next couple of years.

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As time has gone on, players have come and gone. Sammy Sosa left the Cubs with only a little controversy in 2004. For a while in the late 2000s Derek Lee seemed like the top guy on the field at Wrigley, his prowess as a baseball player taking him so far as to be referred to as “General Lee” on more than one occasion by my fellow Wheaton native James Belushi during WGN’s broadcasts of the “Chicago Civil War,” aka the annual Cubs-Sox Series. Lee left the Cubs in 2010, but not before playing a roll in the next big playoff run, this time in 2008. It was the centenary of the last Cubs World Series victory. Surely the stars were properly aligned, surely the saints and angels in Heaven were pulling for the words “World Series Champions” to be emblazoned on the Wrigley Field Marquee. Surely this was our year. With the hopes of millions on their shoulders, the 2008 Cubs did all they could but were swept by the Dodgers in 3 games in the Divisional Series. I finished 2008 less focused on the world of sport than on my Sophomore Year in High School, which was ongoing at the time with all its exuberant fun.

As the 2010s started up, my focus, like that of many Cubs fans switched towards Hockey, as the Chicago Blackhawks began their dynastic series of Stanley Cup victories. I had just returned from Dublin in June 2010 when Patrick Kane (no known relation) scored the winning goal in overtime of Game 6 against Philadelphia. 2011 marked the first season without Ron Santo doing the commentary on WGN Radio, a huge loss in my book. In 2012, Kerry Wood retired from professional baseball, having returned to the Cubs the year prior to finish his career back in the Friendly Confines. In 2013 the Blackhawks won their second of three Stanley Cups thus far in the 2010s. I found out the good news a few hours later when I woke for class in London where I was on a three-week summer study abroad course.

2014 and 2015 were years dominated in my house by the Kansas City Royals, who after 29 years of being fairly unannounced in Major League Baseball stunned the country by beating Oakland in the thrilling 2014 Wild Card Game, silencing the A’s top ace, Jon Lester, early in the game. The ’14 Royals went on to the World Series, but lost out to the San Francisco Giants in Game 7 leading to heartbreak for many here in Kansas City. 2015 saw a revival amongst many of the “smaller” MLB teams, including the Cubs who powered their way through the season, having acquired Lester from the A’s in the offseason. My Dad and I were lucky enough to get to go up to Chicago on 11 July to see the Cubs play the White Sox, whose starter Chris Sale outdid Lester, leading the South Siders to a 5-1 victory.

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Jon Lester pitching against the White Sox. Photo: Seán Kane

In September 2015 I left home and moved to London, missing out on the playoff excitement, which was greater than any other year for my family as both the Cubs and Royals had made it past the regular season. The Cubs came into the playoffs as the second wild card, finishing the regular season in 3rd place 3 games behind St. Louis and 2 games behind Pittsburgh. In the Wild Card Game, led by Jake Arrieta’s pitching, the Cubs ploughed through the Pirates in Pittsburgh in the ’15 Wild Card Game, leading to a memorable attack by baseball bat on a water cooler in the Pirates dugout. In the Divisional Series, the Cubs fulfilled one of the life-long dreams of most fans, especially those of us alumni of Rockhurst University, whose student body has traditionally been primarily made up of St. Louisians. Despite being 4,000 miles away, and unable to watch the game on TV in England, I saw the final few innings as the Cubs easily trounced their longtime rivals the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field. After years of supporting the underdog, I couldn’t help but smile. The joy of ’15 was quickly extinguished however, as the Mets came through and left the Cubs behind in a 4 game sweep on their way to the World Series. The Royals had fared better, having beaten Houston and Toronto in their drive to retain the American League Pennant. They met the Mets in the World Series, winning the crown for Kansas City in extra innings in Game 5 at Citi Field in Queens. I sat at my desk for the entire four hour fifteen minute game, watching the pixilated images being transmitted from my parents’ house in Kansas City.

As the 2016 season came around, I had a feeling that this could be the year. Every morning from March onwards, as soon as I would wake up in my basement flat in Central London, I would check the Cubs score on my phone, and as the months passed things only got better. By the time I returned home to the U.S. at the end of August 2016, it was clear that the Cubs would be in the playoffs yet again, and even clearer that they would go into playoff baseball with the best record in the Major Leagues. I watched the National League Wild Card Game between San Francisco and the New York Mets quietly from the upper level of an Italian restaurant near the Moscone Center in San Francisco, keeping an eye on who would be the ones that the Cubs would face in the Divisional Series. After a marathon Wild Card Game that saw a stellar pitcher’s duel between San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner and New York’s Noah Syndergaard, the Californians won out with a three-run home run in the ninth inning.

The Divisional Series saw another round of amazing pitchers’ duels, this time between the likes of Jon Lester and Johnny Cueto in Game 1, and Jake Arrieta against Madison Bumgarner in Game 3. The Cubs moved past San Francisco after four games, and looked south towards the Los Angeles Dodgers who beat the Washington Nationals in their series 3 games to 2 in their Divisional Series. Like the Giants, the Dodgers are one of the best teams in the National League, and always a fun team to watch. As the Cubs took them on I couldn’t help but be thoroughly impressed by the Dodgers. Game 6 of the series, played at Wrigley Field, turned into one of the greatest nights of my life. It was the night when, in 2 hours 36 minutes the Chicago Cubs went from being the team who hadn’t won a Pennant since “the year we dropped the bomb on Japan” to National League Champions. It was a night like no other, a night when to so many millions of us it truly seemed possible that our team, our Chicago Cubs were truly capable of winning the World Series.

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The Cubs might have seemed destined to win the 2016 World Series, after 108 years of waiting, but they had a major road block in their way. While the Cubs had lit up the National League all summer long, Cleveland had seen a resurgence, taking the American League by storm and silencing all opposition, beating David Ortiz and the Boston Red Sox 3 games to none, and the red hot Toronto Blue Jays 4 games to 1. Both Cleveland and Chicago came into the World Series with all the momentum they would need to win it all. In the end, it came down to endurance. I watched all seven games in a dreamlike state of mind, joking that this must be some sort of existential crisis for the natural order of things, after all this World Series wasn’t between a heavy weight like the Giants and Yankees, nor between the Red Sox and Cardinals. This was a World Series between Chicago and Cleveland, two flyover teams. We had not won a World Series since 1908, they had not won one since 1948. All that that did was give this series more umph, to make it a World Series for the Ages.

While I and many others just wanted a nice and tidy victory to cap off the World Series for the Cubs, the game had more twists and turns than anyone could have expected. From the Cubs giving up a 5-1 lead in the fifth, to Rajai Davis’ two-run home run that tied things up in the eighth at 6-6, I frankly was saying more Rosaries than anything else. Just when things seemed bleakest for the Cubs, when they had lost their momentum, and at least to some that goat was getting in the way again, the Heavens opened up, and the game was stopped for rain. 17 minutes later and the Cubs started over, taking things from a 6-6 tie in the 9th to a stunning 8-7 victory in the 10th. As it happens, the 2016 League MVP, Ben Zobrist had been with the Royals in ’15 for their World Series run. Now not only had he won two World Series in the same number of years, but he lived the dream of all Cubs fans, being a lifelong fan who had helped the Cubs win the World Series.

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In the aftermath of the night of 2 November 2016 I was left speechless, in a state of jubilant shock. All my life, all my Dad’s life, all my grandparents’ lives we had waited for this to happen. For over a century the North Side of Chicago had waited to raise the World Series Banner once more at Wrigley Field, to stand before the world and cheer on our team, no longer just another easy team to beat. To me, it seemed fitting that the Cubs would win the World Series on All Souls’ Day of all days. For now, we have the best team in baseball, and today when they bring the Commissioner’s Trophy home to Wrigleyville they will surely do so in front of a crowd of millions. Wednesday night I actually found the view of the Cubs celebrating on the field in Cleveland to not have the emotional power that I expected to have. Instead, that power was with the fans who had gathered at the corner of Clark and Addison outside Wrigley Field. And as the screen on that famed Marquee changed to the words “CUBS WIN!” and “WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS” the roar of the North Side could surely be heard around the world.

As 2016 comes to a close, and 2017 stands on the horizon, the Chicago Cubs have a new future in store. They could well continue to be a winning team for a few more years, so long as this current roster stays at Wrigley. I also have a new future, though perhaps a nostalgic one, as I prepare to leave Kansas City to undertake the work for my Doctorate. On my list are two universities back in my hometown, two institutions that, should I be accepted, would give me the chance to return to Chicago and cheer on the Cubs as I always have, albeit from not nearly as far away. The past is certainly a good thing to remember, but it is the present in which we live, and the future to which we are going. Today, as the Sun shines, and my Win flag flies at my door, I can’t help but look back at the Cubs of yesteryear, of their three World Series Championships: 1907, 1908, and 2016. But all the same, I can’t help but gaze into the future, when perhaps I, or my descendants, will get to celebrate another Cubs World Series victory. The Dream has come true.

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“United Passions” a Decent Work of Fiction

The film United Passions was an interesting one to see. Unfortunately for the filmmakers and FIFA, the main financial backers of this film, the release of United Passions in the United States has coincided with the arrests of a number of high ranking officials at FIFA on corruption charges. In light of those arrests, it’s hard to look at a film such as United Passions in a positive light, considering its fairly uplifting portrayal of recently resigned FIFA President Sepp Blatter. But for many of us in Europe and North America, it can be hard to view Mr. Blatter, and his predecessors in a positive light. In this sense, United Passions has lost a significant amount of credibility despite barely being screened anywhere in Europe or North America. In fact, only ten cinemas are showing the film here in the United States.

However, the filmmakers made certain to include a brief preface, stating that United Passions is to be seen as a work of “dramatic fiction.” In short, it is an interpretation of events, but not an official history, certainly not an exact record of what happened. Critics have claimed that FIFA’s backing of the film forced the filmmakers to depict a more positive image of the world football federation, thus enforcing this film’s status as propaganda.

The declaration that this film is dramatic fiction makes sense when one considers the fact that British born-New Zealander Sam Neill was chosen to play former Brazilian FIFA President João Havelange, and Englishman Tim Roth was likewise chosen to play the aforementioned Mr. Blatter, a native of Switzerland. In my own opinion, had the filmmakers wanted this piece to be taken as a work of meticulous history, they would have cast a Brazilian to play Havelange and a Swiss actor to play Blatter.

However, as a work of fiction, I would certainly say that the filmmakers made good decisions in the realm of casting. Gérard Depardieu, who played FIFA’s third president Jules Rimet, Neill, and Roth were at the centre of the film, and did a pretty good job in their roles.

With all that said, some certainly do see this film as FIFA’s attempt to preserve the image and legacy of at least these three of its past presidents. As a viewer, I admired these figures attempts at making soccer a global affair, not just the sport of Europe. Perhaps this film’s biggest image problem comes from allowing its subject to also play the role of main financial backer.

The photography was very good, reflecting the style of camerawork that has become the norm in both French and British cinema. The sound was also well done. In cinematic terms, the biggest flaw with this film is its script, which was sometimes hard to follow, with frequent cases of bulky dialogue.

Overall, I would rate United Passions as being just another period piece. It’s nothing special, and when the time comes that those FIFA officials who already have been, and have yet to be arrested are put on trial, I have little doubt that this film will already be forgotten.

Formula E – Sebastien Buemi wins in Uruguay

Punta del Este – Saturday’s FIA Formula E Uruguay ePrix was exciting to the last. The race started with former Toro Rosso driver Jean-Éric Vergne taking pole in his Formula E debut. He was joined on the front row by Brazilian Nelson Piquet, Jr. Vergne’s fellow Frenchman Nicolas Prost started in 3rd alongside Switzerland’s Sebastien Buemi in 4th. Spain’s Jamie Alguersuari started in 5th just ahead of the winner of Beijing, Brazilian Lucas di Grassi in 6th. Behind di Grassi in 7th was former Formula 1 Italian driver Jarno Trulli, alongside a fellow F1 veteran, Nick Heidfeld of Germany. Behind them, Heidfeld’s countryman Daniel Abt stated in 9th, with India’s Karun Chandhok starting in 10th.

Behind Chandhok in 11th was Spain’s Oriol Servia and in 12th Portugal’s Antonio Felix da Costa. France’s Stephane Sarrazin and Spain’s Antonio Garcia started on Row 7 in 13th and 14th. They were followed by Mexican Salvador Duran and Italian Michela Cerruti on Row 8 in 15th and 16th. Row 9 saw Belgian Jérôme d’Ambrosio start in 17th alongside Malaysia’s winner Sam Bird start in 18th with American Matthew Brabham starting in 19th. Brazilian Bruno Senna started with a penalty from the pits, droping down from his 8th place qualification.

Vergne was quickly overtaken by Piquet, on the opening lap, staying behind the Brazilian until Lap 13 of 31. Vergne was able to hold his lead for only a few laps, as his power was significantly reduced by the time he had overtaken Piquet, Meanwhile, Buemi was continually held up by Piquet, which in turn held up the rest of the field. Vergne pitted on Lap 16. Unfortunately for the Frenchman, his first pitstop in Formula E lost him the lead of the race to Buemi.

At the same time, Sarrazin, who had been driving quite aggressively in the preceding laps, hit the kerb on Lap 17 before coming into contact with Brabham, launching the Frenchman into the barrier and forcing his retirement. Brabham likewise ran into the same trouble with the kerbs, retiring on Lap 27.

Vergne continued to fight for first place throughout the race until his untimely retirement after a safety car period to remove Brabham’s damaged car. Buemi quickly seemed to have some sort of break issue, cutting the chicanes, leading to Vergne to deploy his fan boost, which soon thereafter drained his power, ending Vergne’s race 1 lap early.

Buemi charged into the final lap of the race, completing the circuit in first, winning e.dams Renault’s first victory in Formula E. Buemi was followed across the line by Nelson Piquet, Jr (2), and Lucas di Grassi (3).

The full results of the 2014 FIA Formula E Urugray ePrix are:

  1. Sebastien Buemi, Switzerland, e.dams Renault, 49:08.990
  2. Nelson Piquet, Jr., Brazil, China Racing, +00:00.732
  3. Lucas di Grassi, Brazil, Audi Sport ABT, +00:02.365
  4. Jarno Trulli, Italy, Trulli, +00:04.163
  5. Jamie Alguersuari, Spain, Virgin Racing, +00:04.698
  6. Bruno Senna, Brazil, Mahindra Racing, +00:05.197
  7. Nicolas Prost, France, e.dams Renault, +00:06.514
  8. Jérôme d’Ambrosio, Belgium, Dragon Racing, +00:07.567
  9. Oriol Servia, Spain, Dragon Racing, +00:08.646
  10. Nick Heidfeld, Germany, Venturi, +00:10.563
  11. Antonio Garcia, Spain, China Racing +00:10.594
  12. Michela Cerruti, Italy, Trulli, +00:19.617
  13. Karun Chandhok, India, Mahindra Racing, +00:54.175
  14. Daniel Abt, Germany, Audi Sport ABT, lapped
  15. Matthew Brabham, United States, Andretti Formula E, retired
  16. Stéphane Sarrazin, France, Venturi, retired
  17. Antonio Felix da Costa, Portugal, Amlin Aguri, retired
  18. Sam Bird, Great Britain, Virgin Racing, retired.

F1: Lewis Hamilton wins the 2014 World Championship in Abu Dhabi thriller

Abu Dhabi – From the chequered flag in Sâo Paulo, the world knew that the 2014 Formula 1 World Championship would end with a bang. With double points on the line, and a mere 17 point gap between them, the fight was on between Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

Rosberg once again proved himself as the fastest in qualifying, beating Hamilton out for pole by a mere 0.386 of a second. Close behind the Mercedes were the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, who played a major factor in Sunday’s season ending race at Yas Marina. Meanwhile, the starting grid was shaken up after the FIA disqualified the qualifying times of the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo due to a pair of illegal front wings.

The race began with Hamilton getting an amazing start over his teammate, rushing up the left-hand side of the track and never looking back. Rosberg held his own against Massa, while Bottas was swamped by the pack, falling back considerably from his 3rd place start.

Rosberg’s troubles began on Lap 23, when his car suffered an ERS failure, crippling the German’s Mercedes and leaving Hamilton wary to push his own car too hard. In part because of this, Hamilton laid off for a good portion of the race, letting Massa take the lead, and have a decent chance at his first Grand Prix win since that fateful day in Brazil in 2008 when Hamilton won his first World Championship, beating the Brazilian out by just a few seconds. Rosberg was able to stay in the race to the end, despite the recommendations from the team that he retire. He finished the race in 14th, having been lapped by Hamilton on the last couple of laps.

Red Bull was able to recover from their pit-lane start, with Daniel Ricciardo challenging Williams’ Valtteri Bottas for 3rd and Vettel taking the fight to his 2015 team Ferrari. Fernando Alonso finished his final race at the Scuderia in 9th, finishing the season in 6th with 161 points. The Spaniard has yet to conform where he will be in 2015, though the rumours of a return to McLaren are still circulating.

McLaren’s Jenson Button had a good finish in 5th, on what could be his last Formula 1 race. The Briton has been in the sport since 2000, winning the World Championship in 2009. His Danish rookie teammate, Kevin Magnussen, finished in 11th, having spent the race in a dogfight with the Ferraris, Toro Rossos, and Force Indias.

Sunday saw only one incident, with Pastor Maldonado’s tailpipe erupting in flame on Lap 26. Other retirements included Toro Rosso’s Russian rookie, and soon to be Red Bull driver, Daniil Kvyat on Lap 14, and Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi of Japan on Lap 42. Caterham’s No. 2 driver for the weekend, Will Stevens of Great Britain, finished in 17th.

The results of the 2014 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix are as follows:

  1. Lewis Hamilton, Great Britain, Mercedes AMG Petronas, 1:39:02.61, 50 pts
  2. Felipe Massa, Brazil, Williams Martini Racing, +00:02.500, 36 pts
  3. Valtteri Bottas, Finland, Williams Martini Racing, +00:28.800, 30 pts
  4. Daniel Ricciardo, Australia, Infiniti Red Bull Racing, +00:37.200, 24 pts
  5. Jenson Button, Great Britain, McLaren-Mercedes, +01:00.300, 20 pts
  6. Nico Hülkenberg, Germany, Sahara Force India, +01:02.100, 16 pts
  7. Sergio Pérez, Mexico, Sahara Force India, +01:11.000, 12 pts
  8. Sebastian Vettel, Germany, Infiniti Red Bull Racing, +01:12.000, 8 pts
  9. Fernando Alonso, Spain, Scuderia Ferrari, +01:25.800, 4 pts
  10. Kimi Räikkönen, Finland, Scuderia Ferrari, +01:27.800, 2 pts
  11. Kevin Magnussen, Denmark, McLaren-Mercedes, +01:30.300, 0 pts
  12. Jean-Éric Vergne, France, Scuderia Toro Rosso, +01:31.900, 0 pts
  13. Romain Grosjean, France, Lotus, lapped, 0 pts
  14. Nico Rosberg, Germany, Mercedes AMG Petronas, lapped, 0 pts
  15. Esteban Gutierrez, Mexico, Sauber, lapped, 0 pts
  16. Adrian Sutil, Germany, Sauber, lapped, 0 pts
  17. Will Stevens, Great Britain, Caterham, lapped, 0 pts
  18. Kamui Kobayashi, Japan, Caterham, retired, 42 laps, 0 pts
  19. Pastor Maldonado, Venezuela, Lotus, retired, 26 laps, 0 pts
  20. Daniil Kvyat, Russia, Scuderia Toro Rosso, retired, 14 laps, 0 pts

There will be a season recap article coming your way in the next week or so, looking back at the key moments of 2014. Also, the 2015 Formula 1 season preview will be on its way come New Years’ under the banner of my new newspaper, The Tern.

Thanks so much for following the 2014 Formula 1 World Championship with me here at sthosdkane.com . I will be back in a week or so with a season recap article.

Formula E: Sam Bird coasts to victory in Putrajaya ePrix

Putrajaya – Saturday’s second instalment to the inaugural Formula E season began a full two hours early, preempting an oncoming rain shower. The grid was set with e.dams-Renault’s Nico Prost taking pole and Dragon Racing’s Oriol Servia starting from second. The second row was filled by Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird and Audi Sport ABT’s Daniel Abt. Row 3 consisted of Trulli’s Jarno Trulli and Mahindra’s Karun Chandhok. China Racing’s Nelson Piquet and Venturi’s Nick Heidfeld started on Row 4, followed by Mahindra’s Bruno Senna and Andretti’s Matthew Brabham on Row 5. Antonio da Costa of Amlin and Stephane Sarrazin of Venturi started on Row 6. Row 7 consisted of Andretti’s Franck Montagny and Trulli’s Michela Cerruti. Row 8 was made up of China’s Ho-Ping Tung and Amlin’s Katherine Legge. Jaime Alguersuari of Virgin and Lucas di Grassi of Audi Sport ABT started on Row 9. The back row was filled by e.dams-Renault’s Sebastien Buemi and Jerome d’Ambrosio of Dragon.

The race began in a wild way, with Servia taking off from the starting grid, having inherited pole from Nico Prost who started in 11th after inheriting a 10 spot grid penalty from causing the spectacular crash with Nick Heidfeld on Lap 25 in Beijing. Heidfeld’s fellow countryman, Daniel Abt fell back significantly from his 4th place start, seemingly due to a power issue.

The first retirement came on Lap 7 when Legge collided with Cerutti, ending the Italian’s race earlier than she, or her team, would have preferred. Cerutti was followed 7 laps later by Germany’s Nick Heidfeld, who collided with Andretti’s Frank Montagny at Turn 5, leaving the German to exit the race on Lap 14, a stark difference from his sudden crash on the final lap one month ago in Beijing.

Sam Bird of Virgin Racing undoubtedly had the best racing strategy, conserving his batteries enough  to allow him to pit at just the right time, after the majority of the field had already switched to their second cars, and later maintain enough power to finish a full 43.663 seconds faster than Daniel Abt, who finished in 10th. Lap 30 was marked by Bruno Senna crashing at the hairpin.

With his victory in Malaysia, Bird now stands comfortably in 2nd in the Drivers’ Standings with 40 points just behind Beijing’s winner Lucas di Grassi who came in 2nd in Putrajaya on Saturday. e.dams-Renault’s Sebastien Buemi finished out the podium, finishing 5.739 seconds behind Bird.

Formula E returns on 13 December in the Uruguayan resort city of Punta del Este. The race will be broadcasted live in the United States, Canada, and Australia by Fox Sports, in the United Kingdom live on ITV4. Full broadcasting information has yet to be released.

Rosberg wins Brazil, Massa finishes 3rd

São Paulo – Unlike years past, Brazil does not mark the final race of the 2014 season. That honour falls in two weeks to Abu Dhabi. That being said, the question of who will win the drivers’ championship could very well have been made more clear on Sunday in São Paulo, had Hamilton won.

In a surprisingly dry race, much of the decisive action fell to tyre degradation. By Lap 5, the first of the pit stops, made by Maldonado, were undertaken as the new surface at Interlagos were none too friendly to the Pirelli tyres on hand. This in particular effected Lewis Hamilton, who spun out, going far off track at Turn 4 on Lap 28, which could very well have cost the Briton his sixth consecutive race win.

Local hero Felipe Massa had a troubling time after being handed down a 5-second grid penalty for speeding in the pit lane on Lap 9, which he served during his next pit stop on Lap 26. Massa was able to keep his Williams in the top of the field, finishing in 3rd. His teammate, Valtteri Bottas, had some major problems regarding his seat belts during a pit stop on Lap 27. This dropped the Finn down below the points-scoring positions for the majority of the rest of the race, finishing in 10th after some great battles with fellow Finn Kimi Räikkönen and German Nico Hülkenberg.

One of the great success stories from Interlagos was McLaren’s Jenson Button, who held his own throughout the race, staying within the middle of the points-scoring positions. Button was able to finish just behind Massa in 4th. Earlier in the weekend, Button hosted the British media for dinner, as is his tradition in Brazil, quite possibly, as NBC’s pit commentator Will Buxton pointed out, for the last time.

The Red Bulls had a decent race. Four time, and defending, World Champion Sebastian Vettel had a good race, staying in competition with Button, and the Ferraris to finish in 5th. His Australian teammate Daniel Ricciardo had a far more troubling race, retiring on Lap 39 due to a suspension failure on his front-left tyre. This retirement ended the Australian’s 15 race points scoring streak. That being said, Ricciardo still stands in 3rd overall in the drivers’ championship.

Ferrari saw some great racing between their drivers, Spain’s Fernando Alonso and Finland’s Kimi Räikkönen. The duel of Ferraris began after Räikkönen passed fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas on Lap 42, after Bottas was forced off track by Force India’s Nico Hülkenberg. The fight between the Ferraris for 6th during the last few laps of the race was monumental. Alonso eventually was able to win out, finishing in 6th, leaving Räikkönen to finish in 7th.

The race finished with Rosberg on top, followed by Hamilton, who trailed the German by one second. However it was the man in third who got the greatest reaction from the crowd, as Felipe Massa was greeted at the chequered flag by chants of “Olé, olé, olé, olé! Massa! Massa!”

Sunday’s crucial win for Rosberg leaves him with a chance of winning the World Championship in two weeks in Abu Dhabi. After Brazil, Hamilton leads with 334 points, Rosberg standing a mere 17 points behind at 317. With double points in mind, if Rosberg finishes in 1st and Hamilton in 2nd, the German will finish the season with 367, whilst the Briton will finish with 370. So, for Rosberg to win the championship, he will have to win in Abu Dhabi, and Hamilton will need to finish third or lower. However, if Hamilton finishes in first or second, no matter where Rosberg finishes, the Briton will win his second world championship.

The 2014 Formula 1 Petrobras Brazilian Grand Prix finished as follows:

  1. Nico Rosberg, GER, Mercedes, 1:30:02.555, 25 pts
  2. Lewis Hamilton, GBR, Mercedes, +00:01.457, 18 pts
  3. Felipe Massa, BRA, Williams, +00:41.031, 15 pts
  4. Jenson Button, GBR, McLaren, +00:48.658, 12 pts
  5. Sebastian Vettel, GER, Red Bull, +00:51.420, 10 pts
  6. Fernando Alonso, ESP, Ferrari, +01:01.906, 8 pts
  7. Kimi Räikkönen, FIN, Ferrari, +01:03.730, 6 pts
  8. Nico Hülkenberg, GER, Force India, +01:03.934, 4 pts
  9. Kevin Magnussen, DEN, McLaren, +01:10.085, 2 pts
  10. Valtteri Bottas, FIN, Williams, lapped, 1 pt
  11. Daniil Kvyat, RUS, Toro Rosso, lapped
  12. Pastor Maldonado, VEN, Lotus, lapped
  13. Jean-Éric Vergne, FRA, Toro Rosso, lapped
  14. Esteban Gutierrez, MEX, Sauber, lapped
  15. Sergio Pérez, MEX, Force India, lapped
  16. Adrian Sutil, GER, Sauber, lapped
  17. Romain Grosjean, FRA, Lotus, retired, 63 laps
  18. Daniel Ricciardo, AUS, Red Bull, retired, 39 laps

F1: Hamilton storms to win US Grand Prix

Austin – The 2014 United States Grand Prix got off to a roaring start on Sunday, as the 18 car field barrelled around Turn 1 and down to my vantage point on the Turn 2 berm. Nico Rosberg led the field for much of the first quarter of the race, maintaining his pole position despite the constant threat coming from his teammate, Lewis Hamilton’s challenges to that first place.

Lap 1 resulted in the first safety car deployment in the three years that the US Grand Prix has been held at Circuit of the Americas in Austin. On Turn 11, Force India’s Sergio Pérez gave all of his fellow Mexicans at the circuit a shock when he clipped Kimi Räikkönen’s Ferrari, causing Räikkönen to in turn hit Sauber’s Adrian Sutil. The collisions resulted in Pérez and Sutil’s retirements, leaving both Force India and Sauber with only one driver apiece on track, and for Sauber their greatest chance at point scoring all season. Sauber’s remaining driver, Mexican Esteban Gutierrez, remained at the back of the pack for the remainder of the 56 lap race, finishing in 14th over a lap behind race winner Hamilton.

After 16 laps, Force India’s Nico Hülkenberg retired after his car shut down on the track. Thankfully, there were no other major collisions or retirements on Sunday.

Perhaps the greatest surprise drivers on Sunday were the Lotuses of Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean, who each were challenging the McLarens and Ferraris for the last couple points scoring places. Maldonado was successful, finishing in 10th, whilst Grosjean was a less successful, finishing in 11th and being lapped in the process.

Ferrari did decent today, with Spaniard Fernando Alonso maintaining 6th throughout most of the race, though he was running a full minute and five seconds behind the Williams of Valtteri Bottas for the latter half of the race. Kimi Räikkönen did not fair well at all following the collision on Lap 1, falling back eventually to finish in 13th after being lapped.

The McLarens of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen remained soldily in the back half of the points throughout the majority of the race. Despite this, Button fell behind to finish in 12th, a dramatic drop in the field from the season’s opener in Australia.

Williams did very well on Sunday, starting in the second row and staying largely in the upper half of the points throughout the day. Both Williams were overtaken by Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull, resulting in Massa and Bottas finishing in 4th and 5th.

The Red Bulls succeeded in holding the crowd at their mercy. Sebastian Vettel rose up from his start at 18th in the pits to finish at 7th, running the fastest lap of the race at 1:41.379.  His Australian teammate Daniel Ricciardo advanced from his 5th place start to take 3rd on the podium Sunday, no doubt keeping the eyes of the F1 world on him, as well as on the Mercedes.

The two Mercedes stayed within the reaches of 1st and 2nd for the entirety of the race, not looking back for even an instant. Hamilton overtook Rosberg on Lap 24, securing his second victory in three years in the United States.

As a result of Sergio Pérez’s causing of the collision on Lap 1, the Mexican will receive a 7 spot grid penalty at the next race in Brazil. Also, a statement by Sky Sports released after Sunday’s race revealed that there may be a chance for Marussia to return to the grid in Abu Dhabi.