Thursday, July 30, 2009

Michael Schumacher risks his reputation for an adrenaline rush

Among all the articles that I've seen relating to Michael Schumacher's return, this one seems to be the most realistic. I like this (thumbs up).

The seven-times world champion's return is not as well timed as his departure

For a driver who believed in being in total control, both in and out of the car, Michael Schumacher's decision to make a comeback as Felipe Massa's temporary replacement at Ferrari smacks of a 40-year-old superstar who has become bored.

Schumacher retired from Formula One at the end of 2006, having won a record seven world championships and 91 grands prix. The time seemed right because the German was being usurped by Fernando Alonso, then a rising star and 12 years Schumacher's junior. Alonso was doing to the German just what the precocious Schumacher had inflicted on Ayrton Senna, the man to beat at the time of Schumacher's Formula One debut in 1991. His departure 15 years later – a record for consistent brilliance as the sport's benchmark – was as timely and graceful as his deft touch at the wheel. Having won everything in sight, Schumacher could only lose.

Nothing has changed within Formula One over the past two years to alter that perception. If anything, the task has become even more difficult as the sport reaches new levels of competitiveness with the tiniest driving error or lift off the throttle costing several places on the starting grid. Yet Schumacher seems prepared to risk replacing his image as one of the sport's greatest protagonists with that of a sad former champion who did not know when to stop.

It is true that, as things stand today, this is one of the biggest and brightest stories in a season blighted by politics, freak accidents and Formula One's unerring capacity to shoot itself in the foot. But, away from the clamour, Schumacher and Ferrari now have just under four weeks to consider what they have taken on before the next race in Valencia on 23 August.

Schumacher's canny racing brain, his ability to think of several things at once while driving at 175 mph, will be as sharp as ever. But his fitness will not. No amount of graft in the gym will act as a substitute for time spent in the cockpit.

Weight training and cardio work cannot replicate the violence of up to 4g experienced when cornering a grand prix racing car, or as it brakes from 190 mph to 70mph in under two seconds. Equipment has yet to be invented that can prepare a driver's neck muscles for the punishment dished out during races lasting for an hour and a half. There is no alternative to miles spent at the wheel.

Schumacher has remained fit but it is his misfortune that the comeback has been planned during the first season when testing between races has been banned. Were that not the case, Ferrari would probably fit headlights to the car so that their golden boy could lap the team's Fiorano test track into the night.

The first time Schumacher will be allowed to drive the Ferrari F60 in anger is when he joins the other drivers as they spill on to the Valencia street circuit – a track Schumacher does not know, incidentally – at 10am on Friday 21 August.

The first and most revealing measure of Schumacher's performance will be a comparison of lap times with his team-mate, Kimi Raikkonen. That could go either way. If the Finn is having an off weekend, then Schumacher will appear credible. But if the 2007 world champion shows the devastating form demonstrated when he chased Lewis Hamilton home in Hungary on Sunday, then Schumacher will come off second-best.

Of course, there will be the caveats beforehand, stating the obvious about the difficulties of making a comeback and how happy Schumacher will be simply to take part and help his old firm in their fight with Toyota and Williams for third place in the constructors' championship.

But that burning competitiveness, which clearly has not been extinguished by racing a motorbike and frequently falling off it while being an also-ran, will play havoc with Schumacher's pride if, as suspected, his presence motivates Raikkonen like never before.

And the difference this time is that Ferrari is no longer Schumacher's team. Whereas, in the past, the driver in the other Ferrari was No2, even if he dared to be faster, and knew his place, it would be a brave man who suggested to Raikkonen that he should fall into line.

It was inevitable that Schumacher should become bored. He has enough money to last several lifetimes. Beyond his family he has few interests other than football and playing with go-karts. The prospects of a return will have returned this adrenaline to levels he must surely have missed. It is a splendid story for sport, for motor racing, for Formula One – but not necessarily for Michael Schumacher in the long run.

Fate's answer to undermotivation

The biggest news in Formula One over the past few days isn't the exit of BMW from the sport beginning 2010... it is that (drumroll) Michael Schumacher is making a comeback! I must say that the timing of both announcements were very strategic. Bad news first which was overshadowed by an even bigger positive news after.

The Schumacher comeback is a plus on many fronts. First, it kind of subdued the negative BMW news, second, it breathed life to a dwindling Valencia race after country hero Fernando Alonso and Renault incurred a one-race ban for a mistake they made in Hungary. That initially meant that Spanish fans had nothing to look forward to, obviously affecting ticket sales... but not anymore.

Now, like I said before, Schumi, like Alonso, is a man who likes being in control in a team who clearly distinguishes its #1 and #2 drivers. All his previous teammates knew their place in the garage - they were not allowed to race Michael and they were instructed not to finish ahead of him. That was possible before, with Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa, who obliged the team in this set-up. But can you imagine asking a world champion to back-off and be a 'teammate' to the 7-time world champion? Of course, not. Most especially, if that's the Iceman you're talking about. As always, he wouldn't give a damn.

Should Kimi be afraid? No. Over the past couple of years, a lot of people have criticized Raikkonen for his lack of interest and motivation towards the sport. The things that they liked about him when he was starting out - that he's cool, calm and reserved - are the very things they are now using against him many years after, saying that he's bored, sleepy, undermotivated, and disinterested. I kind of relate to him, though. I think we all have our 'downtimes' when we lack motivation and all the shiz... the pressure is just greater if you're driving for a topnotch team who pays you millions of pounds enough to merit a number two spot in the Highest Paid Celebrities Under 30 list or a similar position in the Highest Paid Athletes List. But when you're down, there's no way to go but up... oh well, you can also go out but I doubt any of us would want to use the door from down there if there's a way out from the top.

Ferrari hasn't been performing well this season but in Hungary, after Felipe Massa was taken to the hospital due to a freak accident on Saturday, a very motivated Kimi Raikkonen showed up in the paddock on Sunday and drove a fierce race to finish second - Ferrari's best result this year. BBC Commentators were quick to note that he's a guy who likes to rise up to the challenge and they had no doubt he came in very determined to win the race after a difficult weekend for Ferrari. In the face of the somber paddock atmosphere that was a reflection of uncertainty of whether or not Felipe Massa would recover from the accident, Kimi and the team remained focused on the job at hand, and under the difficult circumstances, delivered their best race of the year yet.

And now with all the detractors and criticism, his foray to the WRC aside, I strongly believe that Schumacher's comeback will motivate Kimi more than ever. Many would say that he would be nervous and uncomfortable when Michael Schumacher is around but I believe otherwise. He is arguably one of the best drivers out there when he's motivated, and driving against someone considered to be the best driver of this generation should be the perfect motivation for him. Note that Kimi was in his element in ALL the years before Michael Schumacher retired, and now they are about to race as teammates for the first time.

Considering that Ferrari now has the best driver line up ever with two world champions, they will make the most of it to maintain 3rd place in the constructor's championship. I use the word 'best' a lot, don't I? best best best. If this were Twitter, it would be trending.

For sure, this will bring back memories of the Schumacher - Alonso - Raikkonen battles of the early to mid 2000s, side by side with the Button - Webber - Vettel of today.

It's ironic how this is all playing out - how one thing leads to another. For Kimi, Felipe's accident = return of motivation. Racing alonside Michael Schumacher under equal circumstances, similar cars = super motivation. I'm not saying Kimi will do better than Schumi. I'm just saying that perhaps, with Schumi as teammate, we would see less of the 'lackluster, bored, disinterested' driver in favor of a more determined and motivated frontrunner. I would also say that I anticipate Michael Schumacher to outperform Kimi in some races -- he ain't a 7-time world champion for nothing!

Let us not also discount the fact that Schumi's return will also motivate other drivers on the grid:
1. Alonso - the revival of their former rivalry
2. Hamilton - the chance to race and prove his mettle against a legend (and his hero)
3. Button - to show even more that he's not a fluke after winning the first few races and losing the last three
4. Barrichello - to bask in the thought that he's no longer Schumi's #2
5. Vettel - touted as the future Schumacher -- to show that he can beat THE Schumacher

We've all been waiting for this. Many have pledged their vote for best driver on the grid in recent years between world champions Alonso, Hamilton and Raikkonen but I guess the only way to really tell is if they're able to race in the same car, the same set-up, the same strategy, then it all boils down to skill. I never thought we'd see the day when any of them will be paired with Michael Schumacher.

I cannot wait for Valencia. Love it! Kimi, don't choke! You must not. :-)

Friday, July 24, 2009










Monday, July 20, 2009


The thing I like about Twitter is that I don't know half of my 80 followers (to date) and that makes it more liberating to a certain extent - I get to open myself up to no one in particular. And because I don't know them, I don't care about what they think.

I'm only writing about this now because I was in a lengthy conversation about this over coffee this afternoon. They said that Twitter only matters to famous people because nobody really gives a damn about what you do if you're nobody. I argued that it depends on what you use it for -- I personally don't use it to broadcast what I'm doing. I use it to follow news, particularly. It's like getting a more accessible central location for RSS feeds. You can get RSS via e-mail but you'd have to log-in to an e-mail client every time while twitter works on any web browser. You don't want your e-mail flooded anyway.

A more practical application - if you want to follow a race but you're not home on race Sunday and don't have cable TV, you can log-in to Twitter and get a lap by lap update (if you follow the right channels) and that'll surely cure the boredom! Just don't do it during mass. Wish there was someone tweeting Ateneo games as they happen.

I get to Tweet random things from time to time - in a way, it's a form of release or outlet. Just like this blog - if I want people to know about my thoughts then I should just link it to Multiply and Facebook for easier dissemination but I don't. I just want an outlet that's not as old-fashioned as a handwritten journal. I'm cool with whoever gets to read but I'm not really interested in what other people think that's why comments are disabled in all of the posts. The opinions that matter to me are from people who can personally talk to me anyway.

Nothing is exclusive to anyone in cyberspace. If it helps put things in perspective -- I was talking to my uncle. Hahahaha! ano ba yang social networking, social networking?!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Getting To Know Myself Better (?)

I guess the thing with personality tests is that the answers are so universally true that it can make us believe that it actually says something about our lives when in fact what we're reading is a template. But anyway, some of it really hit the nail.

Your view on yourself:

You are down-to-earth and people like you because you are so straightforward. You are an efficient problem solver because you will listen to both sides of an argument before making a decision that usually appeals to both parties.

The type of girlfriend/boyfriend you are looking for:

You are a true romantic. When you are in love, you will do anything and everything to keep your love true. (So what does that actually say about the type of partner I'm looking for?)

Your readiness to commit to a relationship:

You are ready to commit as soon as you meet the right person. And you believe you will pretty much know as soon as you might that person. (Really? If I meet him at 40, I'm sure as hell I'm ready!!!)

The seriousness of your love:

Your have very sensible tactics when approaching the opposite sex. In many ways people find your straightforwardness attractive, so you will find yourself with plenty of dates. (What about seriousness again?)

Your views on education

Education is very important in life. You want to study hard and learn as much as you can. (True)

The right job for you:

You have plenty of dream jobs but have little chance of doing any of them if you don't focus on something in particular. You need to choose something and go for it to be happy and achieve success. (What if the dream itself is unattainable?)

How do you view success:

You are afraid of failure and scared to have a go at the career you would like to have in case you don't succeed. Don't give up when you haven't yet even started! Be courageous. (Wrong, wrong, wrong.)

What are you most afraid of:

You are concerned about your image and the way others see you. This means that you try very hard to be accepted by other people. It's time for you to believe in who you are, not what you wear. (Also wrong. I don't try very hard to get accepted. I actually don't care who likes me or not but I know I should. What if I'm generally likeable... enough that I don't even need to try?)

Who is your true self:

You are mature, reasonable, honest and give good advice. People ask for your comments on all sorts of different issues. Sometimes you might find yourself in a dilemma when trapped with a problem, which your heart rather than your head needs to solve. (True - I'd always rather use my head.)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Kimi... Out?

Rumors have resurfaced in the Spanish media that Fernando Alonso's move to Ferrari is a done deal. It will reportedly be announced on September, during the Italian GP, that Fernando Alonso will be a Ferrari driver by 2010. Ferrari was quick to dismiss the rumors saying it has no time to comment on speculation and reminded the public that Raikkonen and Massa have contracts until 2010.

It has happened before that Ferrari dismissed rumors only to reveal otherwise a few days later. That's how Michael Schumacher was unveiled as their newest acquisition.

I wouldn't be surprised if there's any truth to this, and if this is the case, Ferrari will have to let go of one of its drivers to make room for Alonso. My guess is that Kimi Raikkonen will be the one to leave. Although he isn't performing well lately, Raikkonen still has a title to his name and remains to be regarded as among the best. Alonso has always been known for his preference for a less competitive teammate and his desire to be the main priority of a team.

If this happens, the stage is well set for Kimi's exit. He's been participating in WRC a lot in between F1 races lately and he's always been very vocal of considering WRC as a career after his F1 stint. He also always stressed that he wants Ferrari to be his last F1 team.

Still, I think it's premature for Raikkonen to leave now that he's in a slump. I'd rather that he get his act together for one last hurrah before leaving F1 altogether.

On the other hand, Alonso in Ferrari will be exciting!


I feel a hurricane coming as if it's 2007 all over again. We've been here before and I'd like to think that we learned a lot the first time, enough for us to be able to do better this time. In the past couple of days, we've more or less gotten an idea of what to expect in the next few months. The pressing thing now is to firm up a team ala Storm Chasers who will be willing to go inside a tornado instead of running away from it. I still have half of the team that fucking works, but the thing is -- that's just half and we've been looking for the missing links in vain.
Been sitting through presentations the past couple of days and my head hurts already from being bombarded with ideas. The Q&A portion of the 'defense' at the end of each presentation is always the most interesting part and watching those exchanges between client and potential agencies.
Oh, I have notes! The joys of bringing a laptop to a meeting - it allows for multi-tasking!

Client: Considering that our audience will already stay the whole day at the venue to attend the keynotes and the different tracks, what do you think will compel them to attend the cocktail party as well?
Agency: (Pause) Well... I presume there's an invitation, am I right? Because if there's none, then we'll definitely have to create one and that's not included in the budget yet.
C: All through the presentation, what resonated was your use of the 7 Deadly Sins as theme. Pride, Greed, etc... However, I am not comfortable with the way it's associated with the product. Remember, our tone here is humble and we've always been wholesome in our approach.
A: Well... yeah. While 7 Deadly Sins is the theme, we won't really focus on it.
C: But you have it everywhere, even in the giveaways.
A: That's our theme but we won't say it. It's possible not to mention any of it, really. If that's your only concern, it's easy. We'll change the giveaways.
C: First, I want to congratulate you for a very well-thought out presentation. Very well-researched and insightful. One main concern for me is the handle itself. I don't think it's a good slant. While it's a good insight, we can't bash our previous products and say "It's time that we make your lives easier" or "It's time that you had something better".
A: Well, in all honesty, it's really about time that we all come to grips with reality. The fact is, ***** sucks and this new product is a relief. Admit it, ***** sucked big time.
C: No, it didn't, but thank you. If ever we engage you, we will have to work on that messaging.
A: We thought that McDonald's was just too ordinary for the partners. While we want to save on costs, we also want to maintain the profile of the brand and offer something along the lines of what is expected of you as a company. Now as an alternative... we want to recommend doing a tea party. High Tea. High Tea at Kamayan.
A: ...Now, of course, we need a handle to be able to communicate our messages properly. For this particular launch, our theme will be... (Dramatic pause, blank slide... click to enter animation with glitter effect)... ALL THINGS MAGICAL