Sunday, 5 May 2019

W Series - A good platform?

Image courtesy of Twitter: @WSeriesRacing
Hello you, my name is Luca but you can call me Luca. Yesterday, I was watching the first round of the W Series on Channel 4, and I was very happy with how the race went. Spoilers ahead for anyone looking to watch the race, I am going to talk about the series as a concept as well as the race and the season ahead.

When the series was announced, I was really disappointed. I still feel somewhat that way but less so, but I found the idea to be very pandering and backward, as a driver who just so happens to be a woman but also an abysmal driver at that, named Carmen Jordá. There are so many things I could rant about regarding Jordá but just take my word for it, she's comedic levels of terrible yet somehow has a platform in motorsport. She said that women can't compete with men, yet there are countless examples in racing where this isn't the case.

I felt that pandering to Jordá's view of segregation was a huge smack in the face for all women in motorsport, because there are many examples that showcase the fact that motorsport is one of the few sports where women and men can race together equally. I feared that Jordá's influence meant that she would get picked for the series despite the fact they were insisting they were picking the most capable drivers. Thankfully she wasn't picked so yeah.. big win for integrity there! Imagine that you say only women can race against women and being deemed not good enough by the people organising a series which did just that.

The series was started up with the intention for hand picking the eighteen greatest drivers who were women, having them compete in the new Tatuus F3 car across six races supporting the DTM. Unlike most major motorsport championships where multiple teams run a few cars, the W Series organisers work in collaboration with Hitech GP to run every single entry, and actually rotate the chassis around so one driver doesn't always have what may be the better car.

After an initial application list of over 60 drivers, evaluations began with drivers being measured on a number of factors such as racecraft, fitness, media training, data analysis and sponsorship pitches, before a series of knockout races deciding those who would become the W Series' main drivers. I will say something I find amazing about the W Series, none of the drivers have had to pay a dime to compete, which you never find in any racing series since you mostly always need a budget. Alice Powell hasn't competed in racing for years due to lack of budget so that's a good thing, and the winner of the championship earns a cash prize of half a million pounds to go towards whatever they may try and compete in for the future.

So fast forward to yesterday, I was really happy with how the race went. There were a few crashes, and eventual race winner Jamie Chadwick did have to recover after she went off on the first lap. Chadwick got back the lead from Sarah Moore after a safety car was brought out for an incident where Canadian driver Megan Gilkes suffered brake failure and collided with Finland's Emma Kimiläinen.

But that in and of itself is something I'm finding really troubling about the existence of this series and women in motorsport as a whole.

Last year at the Macau Grand Prix, a driver called Sophia Flörsch had a monumental accident in which she lost control as a result of a miscommunication from the car ahead of her, and was launched over a kerb into a photographer stand. There is footage of the accident which, well let's just say I normally have a good stomach for seeing these sorts of incidents but I couldn't watch that beyond the first time.

Flörsch had to have surgery for a spinal fracture which was an operation that lasted 17 hours but thankfully survived, and is now racing in the new Formula 3 Regional European championship. However, I genuinely saw some people saying "Well if she was a man, that wouldn't have happened".

This is despicable! It's like, because women are such an under-represented group in motorsport, their actions are over-analysed so much to the point that the inevitable error or terrible driver who just so happens to be a woman will be the centre of attention and the reason for this is simply because they are a woman.

This is why Carmen Jordá is such an awful figure to represent women in motorsport, being as slow as she is yet being able to buy her way into becoming a Lotus/Renault development driver, and then somehow ending up as FIA representative for women in motorsport. It sends a dangerous message to the world of motorsport that the notion of women being incapable is actually backed by highly known fact.

When in truth, you see someone as highly successful as Jamie Chadwick who was the GT4 class champion in British GT in 2015 aged just 16 at the start of the season. She also became the first woman to win a British F3 race at Brands Hatch last year, and then at the start of this year she won the Middle Eastern and Indian based MRF Challenge, a single seater series which keep European based drivers occupied during the colder months. She may not have a career like her fellow Ginetta graduate Lando Norris but you can't say that isn't a career that doesn't reflect her quality as a driver.

Then you have Alice Powell, a Formula Renault champion in the UK and Asia as well as a GP3 points scorer, and Sarah Moore who won the Ginetta Juniors championship in 2009, Beitske Visser who was a part of the Red Bull junior programme and won a few races in what we know now as German F4. Even Marta García who finished third in the race earlier today to Chadwick and Powell, she didn't have a good start to her single seater career but pulled off some incredible overtakes to seal her place on the podium in a car that is a step up from the entry level formulae she competed in. You clearly can have drivers of quality but these old conservative mindsets are refusing to acknowledge it.

Round about the time of Jamie Chadwick taking that historical first win in British F3 last August, a BBC article came out about it linked on Twitter and a response I saw was "Wow, it took a woman that long to win in British F3? And they're always going on about how they deserve equal pay", to which I berated that cunt. Then during the televised broadcast for the Formula E Hong Kong ePrix, Jamie was one of the guest pundits in the studio and I innocently said on Twitter "Could we see Jamie in Formula E soon?", to which I get the response from some old man, "Wow you have no idea what you're on about" followed by an obnoxious laughing crying emoji and they blocked me before I could reply.

This is just utterly pathetic and close minded, and I've become accustomed to this. Which is why I feel the W Series may do more harm than good, because yes we do want some young girls to turn on the TV and see some potential idols racing at the forefront but it's also showing some admittedly under par drivers perhaps. Since there probably aren't anywhere near enough drivers of quality to fill the grid, the gaps between first and last could be a lot bigger than other equivalent championships.

I hate mainly that this attitude really only applies to women. If you have someone as bad as Carmen Jordá in a race and she's doing as bad as she typically would do, it's because she's a woman. But if you have someone as bad as this Indian guy in Formula 2 at the moment called Maheever Raghunathan who is so many levels of awful, these same people aren't so quick to say anything about his gender. But even when it's a woman winning like Ana Carrasco, who won the World Supersport 300 motorcycle championship, I saw someone say "Should someone who never got better than 10th after winning two races be the champion?", my answer to that is yes because in that season, nobody else won two races and couldn't overhaul her points lead.

The segregation of women in this W Series is something I really don't like and having already said many examples of women winning championships that men compete alongside them in, the idea that this series is meant only for women and therefore due to the lower quantity of higher quality women drivers at this level in motorsport, it does put the idea in the head that some of these drivers are only able to "compete alongside other women" like in other sports.

But whilst I still think that the money that went into this series would be better spent funding the careers of a few select women who are the most unmistakably highest quality, the W Series is meant to act as a platform to help publicise the women in this position and the prize fund for the champion is to help them fund their career for the following season and thus the drivers without a budget such as Powell can appeal for sponsors.

The W Series isn't intending to be the final step for all women in motorsport to compete, it is a stepping stone where the drivers who are of quality can indeed showcase that they deserve to step up to perhaps FIA Formula 3 and beyond. So whilst I still disagree with the notion that this series needs to exist at all, at least it's giving these women a platform to appeal for sponsorship and potentially compete alongside their male counterparts.

Recent comments from Helmut Marko really pissed me off. Most comments by him piss me off, as he's a senile old man with no spine and has the job of funding the careers of Red Bull affiliated juniors such as the ever promising (sarcasm) Dan Ticktum, or Dan Tantrum as I like to call him since he likes throwing hissie fits and crash people off on purpose. Anyway that's neither here nor there.

Marko said recently that racing is not in women's nature, to that I say get fucked. Because of this, I'm hoping something in particular happens.

Red Bull are affiliated with Aston Martin, who have just taken over the organisation of the Autosport BRDC (British Racing Driver's Club) award from McLaren. This award is given to a young British driver at the end of every year after testing themselves against other young Brits in a variety of race cars, and such winners include David Coulthard, Jenson Button, Dario Franchitti, Anthony Davidson, Paul di Resta and current F1 drivers such as George Russell and McLaren's own Lando Norris.

The winner receives a cash prize and a drive in a McLaren F1 car, but now with the departure of McLaren, Red Bull are now taking their place as the provider of the F1 car that the winner gets to test. So with Jamie Chadwick's ties to Aston Martin (being a factory GT driver), I'm hoping she gets onto the list of Aston Martin Autosport BRDC award contenders and I think she would be in a position to win. Perhaps she would face strong opposition from such drivers as Max Fewtrell, Kiern Jewiss, Olli Caldwell and undoubtedly many other potential nominees.

Olli, I know you're my mate and you're probably reading this but I just want Helmut Marko to know that his comments would be followed up by Jamie Chadwick being handed a test drive in a Red Bull F1 car. That would put the PHATTEST smile on my face, seeing that prick have to see one of his cars being driven by a woman.

Overall, I can see the benefits of the W Series and I am now contemplating going to the season finale at Brands Hatch in August. I am rooting for Jamie Chadwick to win, but will also be cheering on drivers such as Alice Powell, Marta García, Beitske Visser, Vicky Piria, Sarah Moore and Miki Koyama who charged from near the back of the grid to finish 7th and was on the pace of the top five. I hope all of them can find stable race drives in the future no matter what that may be in.

I hope Powell and/or Moore can get the funds to compete in the British Touring Car Championship since I believe having a woman in the series which is highly televised on ITV4 could potentially be a dream for sponsors in the UK. After today, Marta García really impressed me with her racecraft and pulling off almost Ricciardo-esque overtakes and has made up for her underwhelming first year in single seaters.

But most of all, whilst Jamie Chadwick already has a stable motorsport career with Aston Martin factory drives in the VLN series at the Nürburgring in Germany and also is a part of the Fernando Alonso Esports roster, I think she's our best shot at the moment of having a woman potentially succeed in top level motorsport. Whether she does or not, I don't know.

However, if the W Series can do anything, it's having a little girl see Jamie Chadwick, Alice Powell and Marta García stand on that podium yesterday and ignite a spark in her eye, and make them want to achieve what they see on that TV. Isn't that how it all begins?

In the series of books I aim to write about a racing driver, a young boy named Alex Harrison, I will have a few young girls compete also alongside him, namely the character of Leonié 'Leo' Taylor. She will face the typical BS that most girls in motorsport are faced with, the obstacles and pompous attitudes that come with being a girl in mostly a rich boy's sport. I hope that Leo as a character will in turn inspire women to compete in racing, perhaps.

There are many other drivers competing in karting and cars that I have my eye on, such examples include Ella Stevens who won the BirelART UK Cadet karting championship in 2017 and the LGM Privateer karting class in 2018. Then there's Abi Pulling who has back-to-back championships in the Super One National Junior TKM series in 2017 and 2018 (having finished runner-up in 2016), Emily Linscott who won the BKMC junior karting title in 2016 (after only starting racing at the start of that year) and finally Juju Noda, who has been breaking lap records in F4 and F3 machinery in her local Japan and she's barely old enough to race them, yet she's going quicker than those who are actually able to race them!

So whilst the W Series is well intentioned, it could do more harm than good but at the moment, it's tackling a very important issue. Women in motorsport can and will succeed, and soon we will look back on these days and be glad this is behind us, as women and men will race on equal terms and can be just as competitive.

The opportunities don't always come the way of women and this is at the very least, a good place to start laying the foundations for the future.

If you want to follow the W Series, it's broadcast on Channel 4. The first round was yesterday at Hockenheim so you could probably find it on catchup, and as for the rest of the season, it goes as follows: Zolder, Belgium on May 18th. Misano, Italy on June 8th. Norisring, Germany on July 6th. Assen, Netherlands on July 20th. Then the final round at Brands Hatch, Britain on August 11th.

Hope you enjoyed what I had to say today. Yeah I know, the opinion of a man about a women's racing championship, why do we need another opinion of someone like me? Well I'm glad you made it this far at least.

If you liked what you see and want to see more from me, follow me on Twitter @TheLucaFormat and consider adding yourself to my mailing list, by going to the side on your desktop and dropping your email into the 'Follow By Email' option. Hope to have you all back here soon for some more blabs of mine!

So until we meet again,
Luca.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

A Personal story

Hello all, so forgive me for the change in tone but today, it is personal time for me. Feel free to bail the boat here or come crashing into the iceberg of emotions, your choice. This is something that has and will to a certain extent, continue to do so and so if you're still with me, here we go.

I have had a crush on someone that I met at university, and with it comes a whole range of untriggered emotions that have only just started to go full swing for me. For some context, all my prior relationships were over the internet, I dated women and broke up with them for whatever reason, but one thing that remained the same was that I had the luxury of it only ever being as a result of pressing the screen of my phone to talk to them.

The closest I ever got to a 'real life' relationship, was when a woman named Rebekah - who I had told a year earlier that I liked her - claimed to then reciprocate and she was my first kiss. I didn't know what the fuck I was doing... but regardless of whether I did or didn't, she agreed to be my girlfriend. Or so I thought. Fifteen minutes afterwards, she called me outside of lesson and I saw her snickering friends in the background and she broke up with me... oh and before you ask, no this wasn't secondary school, this was my final year of college.

As a result of all of this, I never had a proper grasp on what a real relationship involved, and I still haven't got a fucking clue. So when I started university, I was very naïve to believe that I could make it through my three years here without making a slight connection with someone. I had it in my head to just get through this point in my life, and come out the other side with what I needed to be happy. But as some wise person once said, "It isn't the destination, it's the journey. Unless you don't like travelling, I guess". Okay scratch that last bit, you get what I mean.

So I met someone, and before I knew it, I liked her. I had been deterred from admitting how I felt to her by our mutual friend, I had first met her in September and this was just before we left uni for the Christmas break. We had a lovely walk to the train station and I let her know how happy I was to have met her, and I was scared shitless to message her on Instagram during that time.

As we came back for the second half of our first term, I began realising undoubtedly I liked her. This is where things get fuzzy, because I had been beating myself up for feeling this way about someone, that wanting to connect with someone wasn't morally correct, and I wasn't coping at all. I felt sick with fear, guilt ridden, ashamed.

Kept trying to convince myself I was being silly and well, it's all very difficult to process. I felt like an anchor on everyone, I pushed away a lot of people who were telling me it wasn't wrong to feel this way, to no avail.

I guess I was scared, and still am. Not of commitment, but of not being enough.

The person who I felt this way about, could sense something was wrong with me and asked one day, to which in a flustered panic, I opened up to her about "someone" I felt this way about. I didn't know what else to do, and eventually, I just outright told her. To which she politely told me that she was already seeing someone.

Now I just want to say, one thing that I have always been saying and will continue to say since we live in a world where unfortunately this isn't seen as the norm, she didn't owe me anything. If I opened up to her, she didn't in return have an obligation to let me do anything romantically with her, and I will continue to say this because I want to live in a world where someone can take a hint and not force anything upon anyone who doesn't reciprocate.

But I won't deny one thing, that I was devastated. In a major panic, I removed her off of social media because the shame, the guilt, the fear I had, overwhelmed me. I continued to see her around uni, she was unfazed but I knew things couldn't remain the same, I was killing myself inside. One of my friends who will probably be reading this, had a message from me at 3am because I was just so overwhelmed with emotion, doubt and so much more.

This vicious cycle had been continuing for weeks, I'd see her on Monday, on Wednesday and on Thursday. She made the effort to interact with me every now and then but I couldn't bring myself to look her in the eye, and all was going to be that way, but today as I have begun writing this (April 4th), it's the last official day we are here at uni with structured sessions and prior to what happened, I was speaking to someone who has me for mentoring.

I have skipped out a lot of details here, some I'm still unsure as to whether I should say but in short, it's not been healthy. Having just met with this mentor last week - whose job it is to ensure my disability isn't negatively affecting my studies - I began opening up to her about all these difficulties I'd been having, and I really appreciate her. Today was my second session with her, and we got talking about how I had hoped that my university life could improve me in a lot of ways, because I've always been told how I'd meet a lot of like minded people here.

Believing a lot of things could happen here, instead I've been afraid. I had been going to a secret room that a lot of people don't know about, so I could eat my food without fear of being judged. I have been unable to approach a lot of people, due to my fear of being an obligation to someone and that I can't insert myself into a conversation without being invited in on it. I realised this only recently, and it's because of my history of people in secondary school who knew I'd be very open to everyone and used that against me. Pricks.

If I could say I liked one thing about myself, it would be my self awareness and my ability to not jump in where I don't belong. That's two things yes, but it's more than a fair majority of people can ever think about themselves. My mentor said from two hours with me, she had already concluded that I'm very empathetic and I am a great listener, and something else that I can't quite remember off the top of my head.

It was after she told me that she won't see be seeing me again until I came back in September, it made me realise that any chance I had to open up to this woman I had feelings for, that I couldn't be a coward. If I didn't try and approach her, I'd have to wait until September to talk to her again.

I'm sat in the same spot right now where this just happened not that long ago. I am in this room with the woman I had feelings for, our mutual friend who I opened up to in December and a third friend, I'll say he has a striking resemblance to Markiplier. I saw the woman I had feelings for about to leave, unbeknownst to me, I thought she was leaving for the day and I was trying to pluck up the courage to call for her attention, but she left before I could so my Markiplier looking friend who was about to leave, I asked him to call for her.

He comes back in a few minutes later, telling me she had just gone to do something and would be back, and he seemed to notice I was emotional. Yes, I was crying, I had composure but still a mess nonetheless. So she comes back in, and I swear I can hear ringing in my ear.

She sits down, and the first time I gave her more than a two word sentence in what felt like - and probably was - months, I said I was sorry.

I told her I'm sorry for putting her in such an awkward position, I'm sorry for giving her the cold shoulder, that I had been feeling guilty, ashamed, hideous for so long after I had admitted to her how I felt about her. It's all a bit fuzzy, even if it happened about an hour or so ago.

I handed her a letter that I wrote before Valentine's Day, with how I felt about her. Saying how difficult I have it trying to say how I felt, that she has no obligation to feel the same way, and this person she has been seeing is a very lucky individual. I did want to continue being her friend, and that I wouldn't pursue her romantically and I knew this had changed everything between us, that I'll probably still remain a bit distant but all I needed was some encouragement.

Not to be someone's obligation, and it was up to her whether or not she wanted to continue being my friend. The relief, the weight, it had all been lifted off, all of this just felt so intense and I was so happy it had started to simmer down. I was a wreck, but she handled it very maturely.

I really admire, I'll just say her name now.. Emily. I've been feeling terrible about all of this, but she's so easy going, approachable, one thing I said in my letter to her, everyone has her in common, she's so great. She asked if I'd let her keep the letter, saying I could say no, and I allowed her to and even said if she wanted, she could show it to some trustworthy people, but to not broadcast it. This has and will continue to be, a very difficult thing for me.

Emily assured me to not feel ashamed or ridden with guilt, she said the letter was very sweet so I'm quite proud of myself.

This is a start. I don't know where I'll go from here, I still aim to get a degree and build a life somewhere, and three years from now, Emily and I may never see each other again.

I don't expect to be able to forge any connection with anyone. But at least this particular situation has been resolved, and I can feel somewhat less worse about myself.

So yeah.. that's what I've been living with. I hope things improve from here, I needed this to happen, and it's a humongous weight lifted off my shoulders. What happens now? I don't know how close Emily and I can be as friends, I'll allow her to initiate any interaction between us.

Thank you for reading, maybe this has helped you in some way. If not, then it's just helpful for me to type this out so I can send it to someone who I need to read it.

Normal services will hopefully resume soon, so until we meet again.

L.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Igor Fraga and the power of Esports

Image courtesy of www.gran-turismo.com
Hello you, my name is Luca but you can call me Luca. Meet Igor Fraga, he's a 20-year old Brazilian racing driver, he was Brazilian F3 Academy Class champion in 2017, runner-up in Mexican F4 and finished fourth in U.S. F2000 last year. He's a bloody good driver, but you've read the title and yes, video games and virtual racing have played a huge part in his career.

The first I ever heard of Igor Fraga was when he participated in the inaugural F1 Esports, where he qualified for the final and went to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in order to compete. Unfortunately, he didn't do that well but it showed the crossover was becoming ever closer, as Fraga only ever got involved with the event as a result of having to learn the Mexican Grand Prix track for an upcoming F4 race. Little did he suspect I reckon, where that would lead for him.

Fraga would go on to compete in the FIA Certified Online world championships, which took place on the new Gran Turismo Sport game. Having qualified, Fraga would start turning some heads as he came out on top in the Americas final thus becoming Americas regional champion, and be allowed to compete in the world finals in Monaco last November.

Firstly, he was paired up with his European and Asia-Pacific counterparts Mikail Hizal of Germany and Ryoto Kokubun of Japan as they had all signed in-game with Nissan and thus were Nissan's drivers in the manufacturers final, which didn't go their way unfortunately. But when it came to the nation's final, the individuals championship, Fraga was a man on a mission.

Having won the first race in road cars, he'd come close to winning race two which took place in GT3-style racing cars but would make a mess of it near the end and lost a few places. He had even more of a disaster in the third race which took place in Le Mans style prototype cars, making major errors and thus finishing 11th which meant he would be starting there for the final race.

All hope seemed lost for the Brazilian, but they were now using one of Fraga's favourite cars, the Red Bull X2014 Standard around the full Le Mans Sarthe circuit, and a race I saw and immediately beforehand called it even with as hopeless as it seemed for young Igor. He put in the drive of a lifetime and was in a championship winning position even before overtaking his team mate from the day before and now championship rival Mikail Hizal.

Fraga was taking certain corners at speeds on the least grippiest tyres faster than those on the best tyres, he was defying the virtual physics of Gran Turismo, and yes before you berate me for continuing to deprive you of the answer, yes he did win the race and thus became FIA Certified Online Gran Turismo world champion! Igor Fraga couldn't possibly do better than that could he? Oh yes he can.

Literally a couple of months after wrapping up the Gran Turismo championship, Fraga went on to compete in the McLaren Shadow project final. A test which put a bunch of aspiring Esports racers through their paces, demonstrating physical and psychological evaluation and then also proving their worth on a vast variety of different racing games in order to win a place on McLaren's Esports team.

This included driving IndyCar 2018 on iRacing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the McLaren P1 GTR on Forza Motorsport at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, hotlapping on a mobile tablet at Hockenheim in a McLaren 720S on Real Racing 3, again using the 720S but on Project CARS 2 at Circuit of the Americas equipped with a virtual reality headset, rFactor 2 in 720S GT3 cars around Silverstone and the grand final would be the final three again on rFactor 2 in the 720S GT3 cars around Sebring.

Throughout the final's races, all of Fraga's competitors proved where their strengths laid with some being great at some games and some just not being able to adapt to others, yet Igor continued to finish there or there abouts on every game and rarely was ever outside the top three, incredible consistency. He went into the final race at Sebring the outright favourite and guess what? He didn't disappoint, and won the event with incredible ease and earned a place on McLaren's Esports team.

Now what does this prove in terms of the power of Esports exactly? Well I'll tell you. Before Esports came along, Fraga didn't have a hope in hell in finding a budget or sponsors to race in Europe, but as a direct result of his success on Gran Turismo and earning his place on the McLaren Shadow team, it was announced a couple of days ago that Igor Fraga would be racing in a single seater series in Europe.

Image courtesy of www.formulascout.com
Fraga is racing for DR Formula by RP Motorsport in the inaugural Formula Regional European championship (horrendous name I know, essentially it's the new European F3). As you can see his car is decorated with Gran Turismo and McLaren Shadow branding.

The crossover between real world and virtual driving is closing ever more. We've seen drivers start out on video games, such as GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough, we have also had events where real world drivers cross over into virtual driving such as the Las Vegas eRace where Formula E drivers raced sim racers which saw now McLaren Esports driver Bono Huis fend off the advances of then Formula E racer Felix Rosenqvist.

McLaren are no strangers to the whole Esports scene, having held another competition in 2017 called World's Fastest Gamer which saw drivers being tested in a similar way to the Shadow Project and the winner was kitchen sales manager Rudy van Buren, who became their official simulator test and development driver. Having won karting championships in his local Netherlands but having to give it up since he couldn't string together a budget and sponsorship to continue his career.

The incredible Race of Champions event opened up its doors for gamers to potentially race real drivers in 2018 with its eRace of Champions with the winner joining WFG winner van Buren in driving real cars against established racing champions. Rudy van Buren even managed to beat McLaren's current driver Lando Norris in one of the heats.

He was joined by now McLaren Esports driver Enzo Bonito, who would go on to compete also a year later and beat established racing champions such as 2012 IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, and 2016-17 FIA Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi.

Going back to seeing real world drivers taking virtual racing seriously, Lando Norris and Red Bull F1 driver Max Verstappen have been competing in a few one off endurance races on platforms such as iRacing and rFactor, even being co-drivers in the iRacing Bathurst 12 hours. Although that race was rather ill-fated, the exposure that resulted from their presence made people start to take notice.

We even are starting to see drivers sign themselves to Esports racing teams, such as Norris and Verstappen being affiliated with Team Redline, and Fernando Alonso forming his own Esports team and signing eWTCC champion Alexander Dornieden, McLaren Shadow project finalists Xiang Gao and Ebrahim Al Mubarak and even a real world driver, British GT4 and MRF Challenge champion Jamie Chadwick.

Now every racing championship it seems is adopting their own official Esports championships, and it's no surprise to see why. With how expensive motorsport is becoming, now is the time for Esports to be recognised as a legitimate means for drivers to keep sharp and hone their craft, because with the exception of the heavy physical and G-Force elements of the real world driving, the skills required for real world driving are pretty much there for the virtual racing.

Obviously it differs with every game, I can't imagine the next F1 champion or 24 hours of Le Mans winner will begin their career as a result of being amazing on Mario Kart but I suppose you all have to start somewhere!

But jokes aside, this is what Igor Fraga has proved. Esports can provide you a major platform in car racing, since the skills required are the same, and buying a nice TV, steering wheel, frame and chair is going to be considerably less expensive than a season in a karting championship with all the tools and equipment needed, now is the time for Esports to be taken seriously in a motorsport and car racing context.

Virtual racing could potentially become a new grassroots of motorsport, for drivers looking to appeal for sponsorship. Igor Fraga has proved through his success as Gran Turismo world champion and the winner of the McLaren Shadow project final that it's possible that you can use video gaming and virtual driving as a means to get into real life car racing.

One day, we will have a world champion in F1 and an overall winner at the Le Mans 24 hours who will have had their career happen as a result of planting their ass on a sofa and playing a video game. Car racing is the only sport I reckon where the virtual version works as well as the real version. I can't say that about football, because you aren't moving your legs in order to kick the ball and pass it, you're controlling the other players.

I unfortunately cannot say the same thing about motorcycle racing either, since that involves a way lot more direct body movement and when I saw the MotoGP Esports, the players were using controllers and were literally throwing their bikes into corners because they wouldn't have to worry about what the laws of physics would do to their bodies and thus were going multiple seconds faster than the real world riders could manage.

Car racing in real life and in the virtual world, are very close to each other and because of the lesser amount of expenses involved, it's becoming a serious option for drivers to consider a real world driving career.

Hope you all enjoyed my article. If you did and want to stick around for more articles, either follow me on Twitter @TheLucaFormat or if you're on desktop, go to the 'Follow By Email' option on the right hand of screen and put your email in there, which will then mean that all blog posts I publish will be sent straight to your inbox.

So until we meet again,

L.

Friday, 1 March 2019

The Prototype - book review

Image result for the prototype book
Image courtesy of www.amazon.com
Hello you, my name is Luca but you can call me Luca. So a few months ago, I saw an article on GTPlanet about an upcoming release, a novel called 'The Prototype' which had the seal of approval from the creator of the Gran Turismo driving games Kazunori Yamauchi himself, so immediately I was intrigued. So I did some research, and found some information about the author, Sam Mitani.

The first Asian-American writer at 'Road & Track' - one of the big three American automotive publications - and having led a charge of Asian-American representation within the automotive journalism industry, he's now turned his attention to fiction. He's very much incorporated his 20 years of experience into this debut novel, and I am here to tell you all about it because it's absolutely brilliant.

So what's The Prototype about? The main character is an Asian-American automotive journalist and gamer named Stockton Clay, who isn't well respected by his co-workers and is a tad down on his luck. He then receives a formal request directly from Tetsuro Kanda, the head of the world leading automotive manufacturer Kamita Motors, to attend an announcement about the future of Kamita Motors, which includes the launch of a secret prototype supercar.

However unbeknownst to Stockton, once he arrives at the location of the big Kamita Motors reveal, an attempt is made on his life and he is caught in the middle of the conflict between the CIA and a mad Russian scientist who is on the verge of upsetting the balance of world power. As Stockton fights for his survival, he discovers unknown things about his life, including his true identity.

Alright so if you've got the book, you'll know I essentially copied the summary of the plot on the back of the book but you have to admit, it really gets you invested, doesn't it? Well I can happily report that the story doesn't disappoint.

One thing I will say about The Prototype is, not trying to say it's predictable or formulaic because it isn't, but something of this sort of story and nature being so attached to a lot of elements I can identify with as a automotive and motorsport enthusiast, it really appeals to me. Just to deviate for a moment, back in 2013 when I saw the movie Rush, seeing the story I knew so well being shown in a way that made it appealing to anyone who wasn't necessarily into motorsport, I appreciated that so much. The Prototype evoked those same feelings that Rush did, with my automotive and motorsport wired mind being able to share it with someone who isn't necessarily into any of that stuff. It opens a door for that sort of thing to be possible, and I have to commend Mitani for that.

Something that Mitani does which I love is how deep he goes into describing very minor details, he definitely takes his experience from being an automotive journalist and pours it into this. He's describing the kind of leather a seat has in a helicopter, or he's having the character remember very specific things about whatever model of vehicle he's in that it would have a spare luggage compartment in a stated area in the model.

Also when he is describing the cars themselves and how they behave, even when the car is a Kamita and therefore completely and utterly fictional, you can really set it apart from another car. They aren't just transportation boxes, Mitani really writes about these cars in a very individual manner, you can really imagine yourself driving a little K-car, or a mildly quick sportscar or even the unimaginably powerful prototype.

He's the same when it comes to environment and location, whether that be describing locations of buildings in Tokyo or even the surrounding area of either Fuji Speedway overlooked by Mount Fuji or the endless sea of horrific looking paint at Paul Ricard, with an airport right next to it.

These little details could come across as annoying to the average reader, but in truth it adds so much more to the story, it really immerses you in the world. Not only that, during the Kamita announcement - no spoilers, go read the book - I was pretty damn happy with what I was reading! It offers a peak further into the world that Mitani has built, and I kind of wished we could see more of what he teased us with there. I hate being so cryptic about it, I do apologise but I just don't want to spoil the surprise, even if overall that element isn't a huge part of the story.

As for the story itself, Mitani knows exactly how to write intrigue and action, normally action in written descriptive form is very weak and whilst it tries to pull you in, normally it falls flat. Mitani on the other hand, he never fails to keep you reading, even in the calmer parts of the novel, it never has inconsistent flow and you're not trying to wade through these slower parts in preparation for the next big action scene. The way Mitani writes it, the story lends itself incredibly well to visual media, like a graphic novel or on the screen, more on that later.

Now I mentioned how Rush really impacted me and that The Prototype did so as well in a very similar manner. I bring this up because something I've already mentioned about The Prototype, is that it takes a lot of elements of thrillers and allows the audience who are that of a thriller loving disposition, but allows the story to ring familiar with those who love motor vehicles and thus it bridges a gap between those two audiences.

The reason I mention this is because the story also contains some twists, quite farfetched ones that maybe you'll read and be like "Really?", and that isn't me trying to criticise it. Being someone who doesn't get to identify and enjoy a lot of media to do with cars and motorsport, having something which does retain a lot of familiar elements within the genre but allows me to also read about it as a motoring enthusiast, it's something I really appreciate. Maybe your average thriller loving avid reader would be tired of the oversaturated elements within these novels, maybe they'll call it formulaic, but I as someone who doesn't get to read a lot of stories like this, it felt great to feel legitimised, exactly like when I sat in the auditorium for the first time in late 2013 to watch Rush.

I hope I put that last paragraph well. The last thing I want to do is call this book predictable or formulaic, because it really isn't. It's familiar, and assuring, it's not out of place among a plethora of other renowned thriller novels.

So overall, I absolutely loved The Prototype, and I appreciate Sam Mitani. He follows me on Twitter now and we have exchanged words before, I think he likes having a very vocal supporter and I assure everyone, he's very down to earth and is just honoured to be in the position that he is in.

Right I want to talk momentarily about something I touched briefly upon, and this is how Sam started following me in the first place, I mentioned that this novel would work well on a screen, and in the case I am about to talk about, a movie.

Now I know I've had this sort of belief about a novel being made into a movie before whether that be the Megan series by Mary Hooper, or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. But as naïve as I may sound, I'm absolutely positive about the possibilities with this one even if I acknowledge the potential hurdles. So I tried unsuccessfully to get the attention of beloved actor Ken Jeong - who appeared recently in a movie called Crazy Rich Asians - on Twitter with as much as I could say in 280 characters about The Prototype.

I mention Crazy Rich Asians there because I know how important that movie is. With Sam Mitani being Asian-American and the characters in this story being mostly either of Eastern descent or directly from Far East Asia, a movie about these characters would require some Asian talent both in front and behind the camera. Unfortunately, there is a stigma or some hesitation from big Hollywood studios to steer clear of stories made about characters who are minorities, and even taking Asian derived stories and completely whitewashing them. But as we are thankfully approaching a future now where representation will certainly become the norm, The Prototype has come along at the right time for a movie to be made about it and it be an attractive option for studios.

Crazy Rich Asians was adapted from a 2013 novel of the same name by an author named Kevin Kwan and it was greeted to glowing reception, so the movie rights were picked up by Warner Bros after a heated battle with Netflix in 2016. The movie was directed by Jon M. Chu, whose work that went before was never really that of a glowing filmography but the reception was incredible, both critically and financially, with it making $238.5M on a $30M production budget. This success has guaranteed that the two follow-ups to Crazy Rich Asians - 2015's China Rich Girlfriend and 2017's Rich People's Problems - are also being adapted for the big screen.

With Crazy Rich Asians paving the way for Asian representation in media, a movie based on The Prototype and the themes that it possesses can open more doors for this to become the norm, with the themes of The Prototype being more thriller-based (a genre which typically gets more butts on the seats in the movie auditorium), studios may be more inclined to put the money behind this.

I even have Henry Golding from Crazy Rich Asians in mind to portray Stockton Clay, his career is on the up and he's well on his way to potentially becoming a solidified star of movies, and a movie like The Prototype could be well what he needs to kickstart that career leap into movement. I know I have people in mind for the other characters, like Tao Okamoto of 'The Wolverine' fame as the character Maki Takano, and Ken Watanabe as Tetsuro Kanda, and many more in mind but for the life of me, I wish I could remember the names of the characters but I do remember visioning people like Donnie Yen and Joel Kinnaman in the some specific roles. That last one being for the Russian agent because of how intimidating he was in Child 44.

The faith I have in this story is unbreakable and I am fully confident that this will make a great and successful movie, I don't know what detailing it here will do for the cause but I just need to say it. I had a brief talk at one point with Mitani a few months ago telling him about something, that being if he could have Kazunori Yamauchi - since he's quite friendly with him - recreate the very car that is featured within the story, in Gran Turismo. If a movie was indeed ever made, maybe as a part of the marketing, Polyphony could indeed recreate the Kamita prototype in either the current Gran Turismo title or a future installment depending on when the movie is green-lit and which GT game is out by then.

Anyway I know this is called a book review and I have just rambled nonsensically about all that but if you know me by now, this is what you have come to expect of me. But I do hope nonetheless that you enjoyed what I had to say and that you feel inclined to pick up a copy of The Prototype. If you want to do so, here's a link that will undoubtedly help you with that. - https://www.amazon.com/Prototype-Should-Existed-Depends-Survival/dp/1641369760

As for Sam himself, he's rather active on Twitter so go follow him @SamMitani and stay tuned to what he has planned next, he tells me he's already hard at work on his next project though for obvious reasons, I know about as much as you regarding what it's about. Even though I tried to suggest to him that he be the one to write a novel about a GT Academy winner, whether he does or not, who knows? I am confident that he will be writing about something to do with cars, and well, that's all the assurance I need.

Alright! That'll be all from me, thank you ever so much for reading. If you like what you see here and want to see more, either drop your email into the 'Follow By Email' option in the top right if you're on desktop, or follow me on Twitter @TheLucaFormat or even both! You can do whatever, it's a free country, maybe, to an extent. Hope to see you all back here soon.

Until we meet again.
Luca.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Hello again

It has been a while, I can explain. So I started university around the time of my last blog post and that has been taking up the majority of time away from leisurely activities like watching racing, playing games and other things here and there. I cannot promise that I'll be posting regularly on here, I'm struggling to think of a lot of things to write, I do tend to be able to think of something in the moment.

With that being said, I did have plans to write in recent weeks but my laptop decided to break and I only just got this new one, it's one of those ones which can rotate and become a tablet and I am very happy with it. So hopefully if I have something I feel the need to write about, I'll be able to now.

As far as things I am doing now, I've been investing myself into university work of course, building my Road To Glory lore up very heavily and communicating with a lot of people via email who are involved in motorsport. Really there's not a lot to be said here but those who for some reason do follow me on here were wondering, an explanation I felt was needed or at least an update.

If you're wondering since my last post was directing over to something I wrote on Reddit, I'm fairly active on there so feel free to get active on there if you want to talk to me for whatever reason. Thank you for reading.

L.

Monday, 8 October 2018

A Reddit post I wrote

Hello all! Wanted to give you all a heads up to something I wrote on the Reddit page r/F1FeederSeries, it's concerning the Formula Three motorsport class. Here's the link and I hope you enjoy what I have to say: https://www.reddit.com/r/F1FeederSeries/comments/9mj0qg/the_f3_mess/

Take care, until we meet again!
Luca.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

The Kingsman mess

Image courtesy of me because I'm a petty fucker

Hello you, my name is Luca but you can call me Luca. I shudder in anticipation of writing this, maybe anticipation is the wrong word, but I can't be fucked to think of the correct one. Anyone who knows me, will probably be able to put a word to how I'm feeling, and know how much this means to me.

So if you have started reading my blog over the last year, I'll bring you up to speed. I used to be a Kingsman fan, then Kingsman: The Golden Circle happened, now Kingsman and the director Matthew Vaughn can go fuck themselves. I lived in absolute fear for five or so months between the first trailer being released and the movie being released in cinemas, that one of my favourite characters from the first film Roxy, would not only be killed off, but in the most egregious and unnecessary way possible.

I'll let any of you who aren't up to speed research this in your own time if you aren't already well versed in what happened, all you need to know is, it has been a year since that happened and it's still no better. I started a petition which has over 1,200 signatures to bring Roxy back, and it may or may not be successful. Still though, it isn't enough.

Like how people celebrate when a war is over, as extreme a case that may be, I feel the sort of numb anger that is left over from the fact that it should never have happened in the first place. The third instalment of the Kingsman franchise was officially confirmed recently, and if they had not done such a disrespectful job of the second movie, I'd have been even more excited as it would be released in the month of my 23rd birthday, November 2019.

Now what I have read is as far as I am aware, merely only a rumour. The idea of Roxy returning was thrown into the same comment as apparently Tom Holland being in it along with Mel Gibson, in any case, I don't believe it. But I speak about it because in that parallel universe where there is no world conflict, no bigotry, no hatred, and no Roxy being killed off in the most horrendous manner, I am happy. But here, back down on planet reality, these feelings of utter distaste and anger are back, and I am channelling this energy into what I believe is that universe's Kingsman 2. Because what better way to distract yourself from reality than to delude yourself like this?

So I loved the first Kingsman, obviously not anymore.. but I had so many ideas for the future of Kingsman, it was a franchise with great potential. I had the idea for a third movie where Eggsy and Roxy are invited to the European Grand Prix held in London as a guest of F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, who incase you didn't know, there's a picture of him at the Huntsman tailors that I saw when I was invited down to visit them in late 2015.

Anyway, Merlin then let's them know about a figure they need to keep an eye on, Solomon Christmas, a wheel-chair bound elderly gentleman portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio, who was one of the leading choices to portray Richmond Valentine in the first movie, who of course was portrayed brilliantly by Samuel L. Jackson.

Christmas would greet Eggsy and Roxy, the race would begin and whilst Eggsy and Roxy were looking round searching for clues (I haven't got these details down, I'd leave it up to a professional, so move over Matthew Vaughn) and then a terror attack would happen during the race in which Christmas is 'killed', and his young underwear model trophy wife would lay the blame on the Kingsman which would send Eggsy and Roxy into hiding.

This would come off the back of the second instalment which in my hypothetical timeline would not be the dreadful version we have now. Instead we have a similar plot but instead of all but Eggsy and Merlin killed, they lose communications and start being chased by someone who actually has links with Valentine, maybe keep Julianne Moore's character but have her recover Harry's body instead of the pathetic Statesman reason they did go with.

Since Moore's character Poppy is in the advanced medical field, she tracks down Harry's body and after reviving him, her and Charlie convince him that he was left for dead by the Kingsman and starts tracking them down.

What follows are confrontations by an unknown figure as far as the Kingsman agents are concerned, who recognise similar fight patterns only a Kingsman could be taught which leads Eggsy, Merlin and a very much alive Roxy to believe it's a former agent who was turned in the events of Valentine's V-Day. They refer to this figure as Excalibur, after the sword that King Arthur wielded, due to their belief that he was Kingsman trained.

Then comes the encounter with Excalibur, and in a winter soldier like fashion, Eggsy knocks off Excalibur's mask only to realise it's Harry. If you had not already guessed.

But we all know this won't happen. I've already said my piece on how blatant and disregarding it was, the lack of care that Matthew Vaughn put into the franchise he made. Him bringing back Roxy because of fan demand won't work, because it's more than just that, and I won't forgive him for putting us through that. I was lucky, realising very early this horrendous possibility and soon to be truth, I have friends who went there unsuspecting and came out with their world even more destroyed than mine was.

This should never have happened. Fuck Matthew Vaughn, fuck Kingsman, we deserved better, Sophie Cookson deserved better, Roxy deserved better!

A small bit of an update for you all, as you may have noticed, I haven't posted in a couple of months. I'm just letting you know that it's because I have just started university, I am doing a course on comic books in order to obtain my qualification to apply for Rockstar.

I am also working on my racing novel, I went to the Carlin Motorsport HQ recently as part of my research and being there was incredible, met some amazing people and given me a very clear vision of what I hope to achieve in my novel. Also one of my friends Olli Caldwell who has been helping me with my novel, he's been racing this year for Prema in German and Italian Formula 4 and is in contention for the Italian championship, and is also on the candidate shortlist for the McLaren BRDC Autosport award.

Speaking of my novel though, my main character is called Alex Harrison but at one point, he meets and becomes friends with a girl called Leonié 'Leo' Taylor, and my aim with these two characters is to make up for what Matthew Vaughn blatantly disregarded with Eggsy and Roxy.

Things are on the up for me, but as petulant and pathetic as it may seem, I won't keep quiet about anything I see to be wrong. Thank you for reading, hopefully you stick around for more because I am not abandoning this blog of mine at all. I just may be posting very irregularly.

If you're new here, follow me on Twitter @TheLucaFormat and I hope to see you back here soon.

Until we meet again,
Luca.