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Miscellaneous

Cosmic Motors Artist to work with HRT F1 Team

The redesigned Light cycle as featured in the ...
Image via Wikipedia

This was announced a little while ago, but at the time I didn’t really know anything about the artist in question, Daniel Simon. Since then, I’ve visited his website and seen his work and I’m extremely impressed. It seems like the kind of job so many people would want, especially those who actually have a drawing talent. He creates futuristic automotive designs and has published them in print in this particular book, Cosmic Motors, which was released in 2007.

He has also previously worked in the automotive industry itself, for Volkswagon and it’s group of companies, including Bugatti as a concept car designer. Most of those cars are just for show and never released but can influence the future of motoring designs.

As you can see from the image above, he was the vehicle designer on the recently released movie Tron: Legacy. The bikes look very cool and definitely different because of the strangely bulky shape.

As far as what he’s going to be doing for HRT, I’m not entirely sure.  I would assume that this role includes sprucing up their logo and general look. The company has a very generic logo and really need help in that regard, and I don’t think they could have done much better than Simon. Their car also needs help. The predominantly grey colour scheme is different but still in my opinion the worst looking car on the grid in 2010.

You would think that a Spanish team would want to bring vibrancy and colour to the sport in very clear, red, yellow and white, but they avoided that and ended up with a grey car with quite small red and yellow stripes. I hope that this year they go for a completely new look with a much more dynamic and interesting logo and livery.

Whatever comes of this, it’s sure to look great and be a huge upgrade for the Spanish team. The other great thing this shows is that Colin Kolles and his team are dedicated to the project and are determined to move forwards despite how desperate things have looked for them during their maiden campaign in 2010 and still at this point as Bahrain approaches and they are expected to be even further rooted to the back of the field.

Hopefully they can do it with a nice looking car and with reliability, you never know what they can achieve. If their commitment doesn’t wane things should drastically improve by the following year and that would be great to see.

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Miscellaneous

F1 Off-Season News #2

BBC HD Scandinavia
Image via Wikipedia

There are always interesting stories floating around in the F1 world. I want to talk about some of the most interesting.

Broadcasting Changes: HD and BBC Commentary Switch

Formula 1 Administration are now making the switch to send the world feed out to broadcasters in HD from 2011 onwards. Broadcasters such as the BBC are opting to pick up this HD feed and will transmit it on their BBC One HD channel. F1 races will look phenomenal in HD, especially Singapore so I can’t wait to see it. This is what I bought an HD set-top box for.

In other BBC coverage news, as I’ve mentioned previously, David Coulthard will step up to the commentary box to replace Jonathan Legard. More recently the BBC have also confirmed that DC will still be part of the familiar trio with Jake and Eddie before and after races, and will only miss the time he has to spend sprinting up to the commentary box before the action begins. During that short time, Eddie Jordan will get a chance to give more detailed, serious views on the action than he could before and take a more central role in analysing things.

Liuzzi, Sutil, Di Resta and Hulkenberg all in the running for Force India drives

Despite Liuzzi having a contract for this season, it looks as if the team wants to buy him out and replace him presumably with DTM champion Paul Di Resta. It was originally thought that Adrian Sutil was fairly safe in his seat but it has been suggested recently that VJ Mallya, the team owner was not happy with him for waiting until all other options were firmly closed before opting to resign.

Nico Hulkenberg is desperate for a race seat after a pretty good rookie year at Williams including a brilliantly judged pole position lap and a fighting drive at the start of the Brazilian race. If he doesn’t unseat Sutil, then he may end up having to settle for test and reserve driver which will be a massive shame for him. You would think that Mercedes would be interested in him to replace Heidfeld if that position is still vacant.

Liuzzi would then be a strong candidate to join HRT should they still need a second driver by that time. At the end of the day, Vitantonio will either keep his F1 drive, or get a big pay cheque for doing nothing. He may even get paid twice if he gets the HRT drive or a test role somewhere else.

Other drivers desperate to stay in F1 and those returning

It’s been reported recently that HRT not only snubbed both Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok for race seats, but they have gone ahead and signed an Indian F1 driver who last raced for Jordan in 2005, Narain Karthikayen. I had never heard of him until this announcement but it seems he’s been in the NASCAR Truck Series this season. He’s lucky to be able to come back as the F1 world has a very short memory and drivers are quickly forgotten with little chance of a return, with new up-and-coming talent always emerging.

While it is now is confirmed that the best Bruno Senna or Karun Chandhok can hope for is a test drive role ( Team Lotus said to be the target for Karun), the two ex-Sauber drivers from 2010: Pedro De La Rosa and Nick Heidfeld as well as potentially numerous other drivers we don’t know about, are all fighting for that last HRT spot. Who will get it is anyone’s guess, but it seems likely that whoever does will be bringing sponsorship money with them.

It’s a sad state of affairs and I’ll have more on this soon.

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Miscellaneous

F1: Legard out at BBC, replaced by DC

David Coulthard testing for Red Bull Racing at...
David Coulthard

Jonathan Legard has been replaced at the BBC by a promoted Martin Brundle and David Coulthard, who presumably is going to be the colour commentator in addition to his role at the beginning and end of shows with Jake Humphrey and Eddie Jordan. It would be a great shame to lose him from from his current role, no matter how good his race analysis and commentary skills are.

I do feel bad for Jonathan Legard to be replaced in this way, despite not always being a fan of his sometimes over-excitable style. I remember at the Japanese race he made a couple of mistakes that made him look a bit foolish but it’s so easy to do. But I just remember that and maybe the BBC did too. Organisations can be so fickle, and they might have listened to some negative viewer feedback as well.

However, despite it being a tough thing to happen, I do still feel that next year’s commentary will benefit as a result. It will still be exciting and fun, but I think Martin and David combined, especially because they are both experienced ex-F1 drivers as well as good friends, will produce some really interesting conversation and will engage with viewers better than in past years.

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Miscellaneous

F1 2010 Game Review

F1 2010 is an F1 game which will blow you away if you’re a fan of the sport and a fan of racing games. It’s been a long time coming as there hasn’t been an F1 game in HD since Championship Edition for PS3 back in 2006, but it’s been worth the wait.

When I first played it, I was a bit sceptical at the handling being a bit too sensitive as I was spinning out quite a lot and was having to use the flashback feature often. I’m happy to say that it was a combination of diving in too quickly, as well as the first track being the Bahrain GP, which this year updated its layout. I’ve never played this layout before of course so it didn’t help. As a quick aside, I absolutely hate this new layout and am so glad they’re going back to the original next year.

Once I got the hang of the controls and got to racing on tracks I had learnt on the Wii game last year I started to have an absolute blast. I love the sense of speed and the intense feeling of being on the edge of your seat when you know that it is possible to make a mistake and spin the car. The Wii version never had that. There are many other things that F1 2009 didn’t have. One of which was HD graphics. I played last years game and thought it looked pretty decent, but playing this game for the first time really reminded me how far behind the Wii’s graphics are by comparison. This game is incredible to behold. When you play each track and each car for the first time, and often after many times, you can’t help but admire it.

The career mode in F1 2010 takes up the entire menu, as the paddock, complete with your motor-home of the team you’re currently driving for is the menu. It’s done in a similar style to Dirt 2, another Codemasters game that I love. You can choose to partake in either 3, 5 or 7 seasons, and the teams that are open to you at the beginning change according to that preference. For example, if you choose 3 years, you’ll be able to pick from teams such as Williams and Force India as well as the 3 new teams, but if you choose 7 years, then you’ll be stuck with either Virgin, Lotus, or Hispania. I chose the full 7 years and started with Virgin Racing.

Bear in mind that if you do start as one of these new teams, unless you play on easy or to some extent medium difficulty, you’re not going to be able to do a lot of winning. It really depends on how realistic you want to take the experience. If you’re happy to be struggling at the back of the grid being lapped for your first season, then you can certainly do that.

During the career you get interviewed after sessions and those interviews can cause tensions within the team if you say something out of line. However, while at first it looks really cool and dynamic, after less than a season you’ll find yourself being asked the same questions, with the same options for answers. Next year they need to take this to the next level and make it truly dynamic. This is a good starting point though.

While the presentation of the season mode sometimes lets the game down a bit, people play these games for the racing, and the racing is brilliant in F1 2010. Overtaking is very rewarding as you are forced to be careful depending on how many flashbacks you have remaining, where in the race you are and so on. You can’t just barge your way through like on past games and this feels challenging but also very fun.

The weather effects are spectacular. The game has dynamic settings where the track can dry after raining, or it can start raining in the middle or towards the end of a race, which can potentially cause chaos with tyre choices. I haven’t experienced that quite yet but I have driven in the rain, and it’s exhilarating and frightening by equal measure.

In general I love the game, but there are some downsides to mention. While I love the sound of an F1 car changing through the gears and the engines screaming during high speed straights, I think the engine noises are a bit too loud. I had to turn my TV down quite a bit to compensate for it, but it didn’t make that much difference. I ended up having to cut the sound of the engines down by around half in the game options because it was that piercing to the ears.

Online play was another feature that the Wii didn’t offer last year. It’s not something I ever really missed but this year Codemasters have added a robust online component. This however leads to my biggest complaint with the game. They haven’t done a good enough job in keeping the racing fair and fun. Almost every time I’ve played an online 3 lap srpint (the default game type) there has been a pile up in the first corner and I’ve generally been taken out either then or later on in the 3 lap race by someone who is so desperate to pass me that they don’t bother using their brakes.

Every chicane or heavy braking zone that comes up is another potential place to be taken out from behind when you’re just minding your own business. They have a system where sometimes, players in dangerous positions go invisible for a short period of time to avoid any further contact. That’s find but it doesn’t work well enough. There should have been a system to make people fade out if they go into a corner at a speed the game decides is above a certain limit. That way you could avoid all of these braking zone accidents and give the power to the players who take fair racing seriously. Until that happens, if it ever does, all you’ll ever get in those short races is a destruction derby.

With all that said, there is a chance that the other modes, such as endurance (20% distance) and Grand Prix (qualifying session followed by 7 laps) can solve this problem because it will be about consistent pace rather than barging people out of the way for 3 laps. If this is the case, I’ll write a follow up about it.

The other main complaint I have is with the damage in the game. In the Wii game last year, the damage setting was independent of the main difficulty level, in a similar way to the traction control, manual gears and other assists. This year, everything remains difficulty independent except damage, which really disappoints me. In the last game, rather than play on hard all the time, I liked to play on medium but put most of the assists off and increase the damage to full.

Now I can only play with full damage if I play on either hard or expert, but with that also comes harder AI, tyre wear and fewer to no flashbacks, making the game far harder than I wanted considering how easy it is to damage the car.

The other issue regarding damage is that despite the fact that it’s far more comprehensive than last year’s Wii game where you could only bend one wheel at the most, it doesn’t feel realistic enough. Even on Expert, you have to take a considerably greater impact to lose a wheel than you would in real life. At the beginning of every race, it’s common to see someone lose a small piece of their front wing and sometimes more. That won’t happen here and it’s disappointing, because it would have been fun to truly test myself.

Not only this, but no matter how fast you plough into a barrier or another car, you can’t wreck them to the extent that you sometimes see in actual Formula 1 racing. Some incidents in real life are truly spectacular, and all that remains after them is the drivers safety cell and maybe 1 wheel. I wish that was possible in the game, and what makes it more frustrating is that I know it was a design decision to make it more accessible, and they could have easily done it.

Despite these small faults, F1 2010 is still an almost faultless racing game. It plays great, looks amazing and is the best take on F1 racing yet released. I think the involvement of professional racing driver Anthony Davidson has helped the game tremendously and given an extra depth of realism never before seen. I highly recommend it, and as I predicted, I highly doubt anything other than GT5 can match it for my Game of the Year, especially now that LBP2 has been delayed to January.