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.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Why I'm excited for Pokémon: Let's Go

Image courtesy of https://twitter.com/pokejungle
Hello you, my name is Luca but you can call me Luca. If you saw my last blog post, you'll see that I am going to talk about the upcoming Pokémon titles, Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee!, and I am very excited for these games. I say games as in plural, but the truth is I won't be getting the Pikachu game, because Eevee is the one I am wanting.

As you all know, Eevee is my favourite Pokémon and the second I heard about this game, I knew I had to have it. Thankfully, the games are being released only just short of my birthday so that's my present sorted, and Let's Go, Eevee! will be my first proper Pokémon game since the Generation Four Sinnoh games. I have unsuccessfully played Fire-Red, Soul-Silver and Heart-Gold, played through a bit of XD: Gales of Darkness, beaten Sapphire, and also dabbled with a few non traditional games such as Battle Revolution, Ranger and Mystery Dungeon.

Bare with me on this, I realise I am not talking about Let's Go, Eevee! just yet but you'll see why I am excited for it once I've given you some context.

In terms of the core games, the only ones I really was able to play were the Sinnoh games despite the fact I somehow managed to beat Sapphire, and I quickly realised I had become way too accustomed to my Diamond/Pearl/Platinum teams and therefore couldn't break out of it and reset for a new game, building from the ground up. I'll be honest, I used Action Replay on the Sinnoh games and yes it did mean I got all my Pokémon to level 100 but when I got Platinum, it went deeper.

I learned a tip where if you give your Pokémon these potions which boost stats, these include: Attack, Defense, Special Attack, Special Defense and HP. I quickly realised you couldn't boost all the stats, I'd end up boosting all of them to the maximum with my unlimited items, then I'd feed one HP boost to a Pokémon and then I'd be unable to give them anymore. I then began exploiting my Action Replay for other purposes.

The natures of your Pokémon impact on their stats, and because of the Pokétch allowing me to type numbers in so I got Pokémon with certain natures, I would almost always get myself Adamant and Modest nature Pokémon. The reason being, Adamant nature Pokémon's Attack statistic is increased at the expense of Special Attack, and Modest is the other way round, so as a result any Pokémon with either nature would get their foe damaging moves to be whichever respective stat was increased as a result of their nature.

TLDR I became a bit crazy with statistics and honestly, I still can't quite be at ease with knowing had something played out another way, my Pokémon could have been more powerful. This is why I never really committed to playing any more of the games after Generation Four, but only now am I interested again. Here's why.

Okay yes first things first, Eevee is the starter Pokémon, my favourite Pokémon, that's obvious enough. I got XD Gales of Darkness as well because Eevee is the starter in that as well, I hold no shame in saying how much I adore Eevee. But it isn't the only reason that I am getting back into playing the Pokémon games, and as you saw that I had a lot of my Pokémon stat boosted like crazy, and I am looking forward to not treating them like just battling machines in Let's Go, Eevee!.

From what I have seen, the Let's Go games are very heavily focused on treating your Pokémon like partners. You can have your Pikachu on your shoulder or your Eevee on your head, you can have any other Pokémon that are with you outside their Pokéball, even being able to ride on the back of bigger ones like Charizard, Arcanine, Lapras and Onix. You can even dress and customise your partner Pikachu or Eevee, giving them cute clothes or frankly from what I've seen, god-awful hairstyles, of which I'll be doing none of this and leaving my Eevee as is.

The Let's Go games are inspired by Pokémon Yellow in regards to the partner Pokémon, in which case back then was a Pikachu and now you have a choice between a Pikachu and an Eevee. Back in those Generation One games, you didn't have Pokémon natures and also abilities to deal with, which is amazing news to me.

If you know Pokémon, you'll know that Pikachu's ability is Static (when a physical Attack hits Pikachu, the striking opponent has the potential to become inflicted with paralysis), with its hidden ability being Lightning Rod (when in a multi battle, any electric attack from the apposing team if in range, is redirected towards the Pokémon with this ability). Both are useful abilities, Static more so than Lightning Rod in my opinion, though Eevee's ability choices aren't as good.

Until Generation four, Eevee's only ability was Run Away (When in a wild battle, no matter the level of the opposing Pokémon, you were able to get away from the wild Pokémon) and in a trainer battle, it's absolutely useless. Thankfully when I bought into Pokémon at Gen 4, Eevee's other ability is Adaptability (Increases the already increased power of moves that are the same type as the user) which is a great ability and my Eevee in those Gen 4 games always had Adaptability. In future games, Eevee could have the hidden ability Anticipation (Triggered a warning incase the apposing Pokémon had a move that was super effective, in Eevee's case, a Fighting type move would be super effective against a normal type), but Adaptability was always the best one to have.

Along with the Pokémon natures, having the correct ability always bogged me down so not having these things to really impact against the stats mean I don't have to bother about any of it. This means I can focus more on training them, which I don't mind doing of course, I just got all my Pokémon to level 100 so I could take on the Battle Frontier in Platinum with all the maximum stats.

Oh speaking of stats, another thing about Pokémon Yellow was that the Pikachu that accompanied you could not be evolved into a Raichu, and it seems that the Let's Go games will follow this up with the partner Pikachu and Eevee being unable to evolve as well. This comes as grave news to the majority of people looking to get the games, because Eevee is as we all know is the Evolution Pokémon.

We all know the Eeveelutions. Vaporeon the Water-type, Jolteon the Electric-type and Flareon the Fire-type all introduced in generation one that all evolve via evolution stones being used on them, Espeon the Psychic-type and Umbreon the Dark-type that were introduced in generation two that evolve via maximising friendship and time of day resulting in either Espeon during the day and Umbreon at night. In generation four we got the Grass-type Leafeon and Ice-type Glaceon which Eevee evolves into if you are in a location with a Moss Rock or Ice Rock, and then finally in generation six the Fairy-type Sylveon was introduced which Eevee evolves into with two affection heart points and if it knows a Fairy-type move.

So with all that in mind, along with your Pikachu not being able to evolve into Raichu, your Eevee won't be able to evolve either. That's unfortunate for those who wanted to, for me however I am completely fine with it! I never evolved my Eevee in the earlier games, I wouldn't want to evolve mine in Let's Go, Eevee! either. I know however that I am the minority.

With that being said though, since pre-evolved forms of Pokémon have lower stats than their evolved forms, I am aware that apparently the partner Pikachu and Eevee's stats will be increased so it can compete with fully evolved Pokémon which is great news to me. I look forward not only to battle with Eevee and the rest of my potential Pokémon, but also bonding with them since I am seeing that you can play with them as well!

The easy going nature of these games are intended to attract a more child audience, with the games ditching wild Pokémon battles in favour of Pokémon Go style Pokéball throwing, and also there will be a system in place to transfer Pokémon caught on Go over to Let's Go. I never caught the Pokémon Go bug when it first was released, but it has made me consider it to a base level. Also for another reason. (Since writing this, I have started playing Pokémon Go)

There is this task set upon you by the Pokémon professors you get your starter from, to complete the Pokédex, where you catch all the Pokémon available. I never managed to do this.. at least legitimately.. but can you blame me? I had 493 Pokémon to deal with across multiple games, I wasn't going to invest all that time to getting 493 Pokémon across all those games I had to buy. But I've always thought to myself if there was ever a game that focused on the 151 original Pokémon, I would dedicate myself to catching all of them in that game.

The Let's Go games look set to do that with it being set in Kanto, apparently we won't have access to any of the Pokémon past generation one so even if you could evolve Eevee, it'd only be into Flareon, Vaporeon or Jolteon. I have however been hearing reports that of the Pokémon available in the Let's Go games, we may be able to have their Alolan forms too? (In the Pokémon generation seven games set in the Alola region, many Pokémon that originated from previous generations have different variations in these games, such as Ninetales which has been a Fire-Type in all the other games, you can get an Ice-Fairy type Ninetales in Alola)

Which begs the question, do we have Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves? To be fair, if we don't have natures and abilities, we probably won't get any of those so if the game is set in Kanto, how will we be able to access Alolan form versions of these Pokémon? Honestly I just want the game to be as simple as possible, these gimmicks have really been confusing to me. Mega evolutions, Z-Moves, Alolan Forms, I'd rather it be simple and so far, that's what Let's Go is set to be.

So yeah, those are all my reasons as to why I am excited for Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! and it's certainly going to be a welcome return back to the Pokémon franchise for me. If any of you have any tips for me when I do get the game, I'm more than open to hearing anything, and I hope my Eevee and I get to battle some of you online.

Alright! Thank you very much for reading. If you've enjoyed reading this article and want to stick around for more, either follow me on Twitter @TheLucaFormat or put your email into the 'Follow By Email' option to have my articles sent straight to your inbox. Hope to see you all back here soon.

So until we meet again,
Luca.
Image courtesy of www.serebii.net

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

My experience in the Netherlands

Polaroid photo taken by Nadine's sister Kim.
From left to right, Bastiaan, Isa, Nadine and me!
Hello you, my name is Luca but you can call me Luca. Between June 29th and July 2nd 2018, I was in the Netherlands to meet a long time friend named Nadine. We had planned many months before that I would come to the Netherlands with my parents, I would stay at her place and we would go to watch the MotoGP that weekend since she lives not that far from the track. So if you're okay with it, I'm going to talk about my experience meeting my friend and going to the Netherlands.

We had to get a plane to an airport near London since our closest airport to our home didn't go to the airport that Nadine would be able to meet us at, and I won't lie, I don't like flying that much. I've been on plane rides to the Canary Islands, Italy, Spain and I've just hated going abroad constantly, not only the plane rides and how anxious they make me, getting there was never really worth it in terms of a load of different varieties. All you need to know is, I don't like going abroad that much.

I was messaging Nadine right before we got on the flight, there were loads of last minute changes in terms of which plane we were getting, due to expected times of departure and arrival. In the end, we got this vibrant purple plane with propellers as appose to turbines, and the flight there was alright since it lasted just over an hour and we didn't climb that high, we touched down in the Netherlands and I was allowed off the plane first. I was wearing my signature red hoodie and bright orange Max Verstappen cap (I was in the Netherlands so I would be a fool to not bring it), and in the distance was what seemed to be an outdoor café.

This was when it started getting almost too real for me, I squinted to look into the distance and my heart began racing as my gut was telling me it was Nadine, but I didn't want to be too sure yet because it could very well not be and if I started waving, I'd look like an idiot. But she clearly didn't mind because I saw her waving and it definitely confirmed it was her so I waved back and was raring to finally be able meet my long time friend who I had known since 2012!

In my excitement, I nearly forgot to get my passport ready to show to the officials that greet you at the airport, so I quickly did that and made it through the door with my heart palpitations going through the roof, I made it around the corner and my brain was so muddled, I don't even remember seeing Nadine's face immediately but I saw a figure who I knew exactly was Nadine. I abandoned my luggage, climbed under one of those metal handrails and just raced towards Nadine who thankfully was already racing towards me, we just hugged and I was so happy.

It was like we had met countless times before and we had been apart for too long, and our parents seemed to immediately get along as well. Nadine had managed to get my parents a room at a Bed & Breakfast which was walking distance from their house, which along with me being at Nadine's house, I do certainly think it'll be best if we kept that arrangement for the future. I bring this up because I didn't want to assume my parents and her parents would get along, incase they didn't, but amazingly they got along perfectly.

Nadine's dad doesn't speak English very well, so Nadine would often go back to her native tongue so her dad and I could have some conversations. Speaking of which, Nadine at one point when we went for a meal in Germany, she told me that she was having a difficult time processing her brain to go from speaking Dutch to her family, to English with me and to a waitress in German, I didn't know at the time but she was apparently speaking German to me before quickly realising. At times, Nadine and everyone had to clarify what the English word was for something, like hot water bottle, it was quite eye opening, I commend anyone who speaks multiple languages.

I want everyone to know out there if they can speak more than one language, even if some of the languages are a bit broken, you deserve the utmost respect. Being English, I have become so used to everyone speaking English to me even abroad but I have to take into account how much they have to learn when speaking these languages, you're all doing amazing. I really couldn't do it.

Anyway back to Friday, we drove back to Nadine's house and on the way, I was in total awe of the Netherlands, I do remember being very tired and light headed so it felt like a very lucid dream, though thankfully I never began hallucinating like the Netherlands was exactly like the stereotypes said it was. I did see a fuck tonne of windmills though, I didn't dream those up though.

I just remember how aesthetically pleasing all the houses were, they looked like they had character. With brightly coloured pillars, the amazing surrounding areas, everything about Nadine's town just for some reason, made me feel very energised, which was ironic considering how tired I was at the time. We had dropped the bags of my parents off at the B&B and went to their house, and it was amazing!

They had this incredible art piece which I can only assume was made by Nadine, with Valentino Rossi's number 46 and The Doctor nickname on their garage door, but Nadine had actually turned the O and C in the first part of 'Doctor' into Rossi's sun and crescent moon graphic, which I am amazed that either he hasn't done that already or hasn't done that before. At the top was the number 58 with an angel's halo, paying tribute to the late Marco Simoncelli, I still miss him a lot.

Going into their property, there was so much I recognised and was piecing everything together. Immediately walking in, I saw where Nadine had filmed the ice bucket challenge in 2014 in her garden. In her house, I saw the hallway where she took a photo of her wearing a Rossi/Ducati cap only a few months or so prior to me flying out, and then going to my room, I had seen the angle of which the wall was on from a photo and had made the assumption that I was going full Harry Potter and staying in a room under the stairs! Which I say humourously of course but I was surprised to find it along the majority of upstairs rooms in the house.

Nadine's room is amazing. I'm sat here in my room at home typing this, it's not really that heavily decorated but because of the size of my room, it still looks tightly compact. Nadine's room is massive yet it looks like there's so much going on, with all the posters, the Pokémon collectables, and it was essentially the attic as well so it felt independent of the rest of the house.

I will say though, all the stairs in their house were either really thin, on an awkward angle or had no support either from below or from a rear heel wall, whatever you call them. Not that I am berating them for this, I just couldn't go down or up any of their stairs with any sort of confidence, which is probably a good thing otherwise I would have hurt myself.

On my way in, having already met Nadine's mother Illona and her father Ben, we met Nadine's sister Kim! Who just recently had her birthday, providing of course I get this out at a decent time and not too long after her birthday but regardless, happy belated birthday Kim! I had been excited to meet her, like everyone of course but I know Kim had grown very fond of me due to my friendship with her sister, and for another reason I won't say incase it's too personal.

Then I got to meet a couple of their pets. Nadine had told me about Kim's chihuahua named Rocky, and normally I can't stand those kind of dogs, but I arrived and Rocky was actually adorable, with his long fur and a demeanour very non-typical of what I had come to expect of chihuahua dogs. I think he liked me, because I made a fuss over him of course, what a great doggo.

Nadine's family have a rabbit called Rossi (Points for whoever can guess who she is named after) and two cats, both girls as well called Felix and Pico. I didn't meet Felix on the first day, but I met Pico and wow she's just the best! I'm not a cat person really, but Pico was just so perfect, she would flex herself to fit around the back of your hand, you could almost guide her with your hand because she wants all the affection. Pico made me like cats somewhat, hopefully the majority of cats like Pico but I'll still always prefer dogs, though Pico is a close second.

After I had got settled in, Nadine told me that her two friends had arrived, Isa and Bastiaan (or as we mostly refer to him as, Bas). I had been excited to meet them both, I knew them both from Nadine speaking about them, and so when Nadine called for me, I followed her outside and I gave Bas a handshake and Isa one big hug, then Isa gave me some Pokémon cards! Nadine had told me that Isa wanted to get me a gift and it just warmed my heart, and the gift she got for me included this Pikachu coin which I absolutely adored.

Not long after that, Nadine's family had ordered Chinese food and it had arrived. This was something I was incredibly uncomfortable about, because whenever I don't like food, I tend to have my very over reactive gag reflex go into effect and so when my parents sat down for some food along with Nadine and her parents, I was very self conscious. I looked over to Isa and Bas playing on their phones and didn't want to be there in all honesty, looking like I was refusing to eat.

It has always been an uncomfortable thing for me but Nadine and her parents reassured me that I didn't have to eat anything if I wasn't comfortable, and the only reason I feel compelled to really bring up this insecurity of mine is because Nadine and everyone there were so compassionate and understanding.

My trips abroad are often terrible due to my limited sets of food but I really have to acknowledge just how brilliantly they all treated me with such patience and reassurance, and I'm very grateful for that. In the end, I tried a small bit of whatever that crunchy bread is and also some really strong chicken, I wasn't incredibly hungry having already eaten before I got on the plane.

After that, I had promised Nadine I'd bring a pack of Cards Against Humanity, and we had an absolutely incredible game (out of sight of my mum of course), and I managed to win somehow even though Bas was way too good at the game. Nadine, myself, Isa and Bas all went to play on Nadine's outdoor table and we got occasional visits from my parents, Nadine's family and every now and then, Pico and Rocket came to visit, I just remember how amazing it was to be with Nadine, Isa and Bas then and there, I was still very tired and everything still felt quite lucid. But I have to be honest, it was one of the best moments in my life.

For context, not saying I have a shitty life at all but for me, my days consist of going on my video games and doing for example, daily mileage on Gran Turismo, helping my friends grind for money on GTA, and I love my games but to be able to spend time with such a loving, tight knit group of people, even though I hadn't spent more than a couple of hours with them up until that point, it felt amazing. Isa and Bas acted like complete siblings as they would play fight and it was quite amusing, Nadine's sister Kim has such presence and talks a lot, her mum Illona was so lovely to me as well and always made me feel at home as did everyone, it felt like I was part of such a close and loving group of people.

Everyone involved like the atmosphere around us, they had such rich character and energy not only by themselves but teamed with each other and I almost felt like it was too good for me, I felt blessed to be among these incredible people. I've been missing that in my life, having a consistent group of people among me who just really worked well and appreciated each other, or maybe because I was so light headed and felt overly emotional.

We just spent that evening talking during and after our Cards Against Humanity game. Nadine had told Isa about my plans to name a minor character in my future racing novel Road To Glory after her, which had really put a huge smile on her face and I spoke a little bit about that. I spoke about a lot of things and heard some amazing stories from them all about friends of theirs. I can't say enough times just how a part of it I felt, even if I felt like I was still quite alien. I don't know how to put it, but all I can say is, no matter how high of expectations I could have had, they were surpassed on that first day alone.

Later that evening, we had said goodbye to my parents a bit beforehand as they went back to their B&B, but a bit later I was with Nadine saying goodbye to Isa and Bas, gave Bas a bro hug if I remember correctly and Isa a cuddle too. At the time, I was aware that Isa was only visiting on the Friday as Bas would be joining me and Nadine over the next few days, but Isa promised to try and make it on Sunday evening. She couldn't in the end which was of course a shame, but I know I'll be able to see her again next time I go. As with everyone of course, and the next few days were confirmation enough that I wanted to go to the Netherlands again.

Earlier that day, I gave Nadine some gifts which included an Ash cap wearing Pikachu card, a drawing I made for her earlier this year and an Eevee key-ring that my brother and his partner had come across and I asked for them to buy two of, one for me and one for Nadine. She gave me gifts as well, including an Eevee pin badge after I arrived at the airport, and before I left on Sunday, a load of World Superbikes memorabilia including two signed pictures of World Superbike riders Michael van der Mark and Jonathan Rea from 2014 as well as a poster for the event, but Nadine will have to send that to me since I couldn't fit it in my bag.

Before I went to bed, a happy surprise greeted me. For context, last Christmas and for her birthday this year, I had sent Nadine an Eevee and Charmander from Build-A-Bear and she had put the Eevee and Charmander on my bed. I already felt at home but having an Eevee there like the one I had at home was just perfect, and not that I don't like Charmander but I just had that one guarding my bed. Sorry Charmander! Nadine's gesture was so sweet and lovely.

On Saturday, Nadine and I went to the nearby city with my parents and her mum and I have to say, Netherlands why do you like Tesla so much? Nothing wrong with it or anything but Tesla's rivalled bicycles in terms of how many there were. Okay maybe not to that degree but you get what I mean, the Tesla cars were everywhere. They're not cheap vehicles either, just for you lot out there to garner an understanding of why it was so absurd.

There was a city marketplace event going on along with a netball open top facility set up for some kind of competitive women's tournament for everyone to see. I took a video of it, which reminds me I have yet to post it on social media so my mum and Nadine's mum probably had a point at the thought that I was filming it for other reasons.. I was just amazed at the set up of the facility but I know that reason won't be enough to convince anyone. We also went looking at these beautiful rose gardens, and my mum insisted on me and Nadine being in a photo.

Nadine took me to a McDonald's even though she doesn't like it there so I have to thank her for that of course. The day before, Bas gave me a tip about McDonald's, because in the Netherlands, it works out as cheaper or more valuable to buy six nuggets four times as appose to getting 20 nuggets. You only pay a few cents more but get four more nuggets and it works out as getting more nuggets for the money you were spending, if that makes sense. So big thanks to Bas!

Nadine didn't get anything but did nick a chip of mine, which I'll let her off with since she's so good to me. I wanted to learn about an anime she likes called One Piece, so she was telling me about that whilst I ate and afterwards we went to join my parents and her mum who had found a clothes shop. My mum in a clothes shop is like a nerd in a lab, she was looking all over with the greatest level of enthusiasm, I almost had to drag her out. Nadine managed to translate some Japanese on some clothes in there which was incredible.

After we got back to Nadine's place, Bas came over with his Nintendo Switch like he had promised me. In my next planned article, I am going to talk about why I am excited for getting my copy of Pokémon: Let's Go, but I had not played a Switch before so Bas actually said he'd bring his over so I could familiarise myself with the Switch for when I get my own in November for my birthday and the release of Let's Go. We played Mario Kart with the tiny controller and it was quite difficult, this being plugged into the TV and then I got a hang of it also on the portable setup, and I was amazed at the Switch's capabilities.

After we had a bit of time trying out various Switch games, we picked up my parents again and Illona drove with me along with them whilst Bas drove Nadine, Kim and Ben. We went to Germany to eat in a restaurant they liked, and I had schnitzel which was alright, not the best thing I ever ate but nowhere near bad to the point that I couldn't eat it. I'd definitely eat it again WHEN I go back to visit them. Nadine was also kind enough to swap drinks with me after I just couldn't enjoy the shitty discount cola, so I appreciated that hugely.

For the remainder of the evening, Nadine brought down her GameCube to the front room and Nadine, myself and Bas all played Mario Party for the rest of the night if I'm recalling correctly. We tried to power through but only got 10 of our 20 turns played, I was really liking the format of the game and I wish we could have completed it. But no matter, we had to get up early the following day because we had a MotoGP event to get to.

On Sunday morning, we headed down to the track and the atmosphere was absolutely incredible! We were seated in the Valentino Rossi stand between corners Ruskenhoek and Stekkenwal, and we arrived whilst the final MotoGP warm up was taking place, and I was not ready for what would happen during the MotoGP sessions.

I remember we got given a Rossi yellow fedora/trilby which didn't fit me because no hat really does, we also got a flag, a wristband all with Rossi on it and I was offered a can of Rossi branded Monster Energy drink but declined since I wouldn't have drank it. We seated ourselves down and the seats themselves were actually planted into the ground on a manmade hill (I know it was manmade because well.. it's the Netherlands! Haha) and I loved the concept of it, but I despised the seats. It's making me wince but they were so dry, the thought of placing my hands and gripping them just makes me want to curl up in pain.

The weather was boiling, not as bad as the proceeding week when I attended the British Touring Car event at Croft on race day, and I got pretty sunburnt that day but thankfully it wasn't as bad at Assen and we weren't there as long either. Oh and Nadine insisted I wear some sunglasses and I had not brought any so I stole a pair from Isa, who had left hers in the backseat of Bas' car, and I messaged her afterwards saying Bas had them but she would agree with me that I looked awesome with them!

We first sat down for the Moto3, and we were arranged from left to right as Bas and Nadine to my left, with Illona and Ben to my right. I recorded the start and in quite the funny manner, I turned to Nadine last second and said "Hi Nadine!", she didn't seem too amused but took it well. I had planned to do it for all three races but decided against it incase it annoyed her too much.

I seem to remember that it was Jorge Martin, Enea Bastianini, Marco Bezzechi, John McPhee and Arón Canet were all near the front, and as ever in Moto3 with their underpowered motorcycles, slip stream was key. Surprisingly, the first lot were all bunched together and there was quite a gap to the next group, and I was quietly hoping for my compatriot John McPhee to win but kind of had this acceptance of knowing he wouldn't.

Two weeks before was the Catalan MotoGP and John McPhee was in the leading group of the Moto3 race there and going into the last lap, he was leading but I must have jinxed him. I said to myself "Knowing the luck of Brits in motorcycle racing, he'll finish fourth", and surely enough, he did. That wasn't the case though at Assen, as he fell only a few corners head of where we were sat in the last few laps.

Jorge Martin won the Moto3 race to take back the championship lead from Marco Bezzechi, who fell heading onto the last lap and from then it was onto the Moto2 race which was quite uneventful but I still wanted to sit down and watch it. Nadine, Bas and Ben all left before the start and for the majority of the time there, I had some very lovely conversations with Illona about a few things, including but not limited to if the F1 would ever come to Assen. She told me that Assen would be a hell of a lot more accessible to mass spectators and F1 teams than Zandvoort would be due to its singular public access road.

I was getting really hungry and the queues before the Moto2 race were very excessive so Ben offered to get me chips (or fries since Nadine thought I meant crisps lol), and a bottle of Coca Cola, this was incredibly kind of him. The three got back with a few laps still to go of the Moto2, and the crowds in the Rossi stand were very vocal as the leader of the race Francesco Bagnaia rides for Valentino Rossi's own team. He won in dominant style, and finally it was the main event, and this is where it becomes just something else entirely.

If you ever watch MotoGP, you'll always find at least one part of the track with yellow smoke coming out of it, and this was where I was. When the MotoGP riders began heading to the grid, a load of very enthusiastic and dedicated individuals began throwing these yellow smoke flares on the ground and I couldn't see a thing. My view was shrouded, and the smell was horrendous but it thankfully cleared for the start and the atmosphere was electric!

Before Sunday, I had told Nadine that I didn't mind who won the race as long as it wasn't a Márquez walkover and holy shit my prayers were answered and then some. The way the bikes were grouped together at the front, you'd have thought it was Moto3 but these were the full 1,000cc 260 horsepower powerhouses and at one point, you had at least seven riders able to get into the lead, you didn't know who would win!

I was hoping it would be Rossi of course but in the chaos that was the race, eventually it was Marc Márquez that came out on top from Álex Rins and Maverick Viñales, making it a Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha rostrum. Of course Márquez was booed from where I was sat, I didn't mind that he won, he didn't win it by multiple seconds and from start to finish, it was such an exciting race and I am delighted I attended.

We had to leave after the MotoGP because Bas had to get back for some kind of event, which was a shame because I had been interested in seeing what else was happening such as the Red Bull Rookies, but it was understandable. Spoiler alert though, the traffic was way too excessive and we couldn't make it out in time for Bas to make it, but we will get to that.

On the way out, it took us hours to move a few feet but we heard Beautiful Day by U2, one of my favourite songs, playing on the radio. Then when it ended, the radio presenter was talking and I heard 'Max Verstappen' in there, and I couldn't understand any other word of course but my Dutch friends heard that it was going to be a beautiful day for Max Verstappen as he was leading the Austrian Grand Prix! I made the prediction a week before, or rather a plea from the racing gods that since I was going to be in Max Verstappen's home country, he was in his team Red Bull's home country and that he had finished third and second in the proceeding two races, that he was destined to win the Austrian GP. He did! I should have put a bet on it.

The ride back to Nadine's house was awful though. I needed to use a toilet, and I can't just go pee in a field for some reason, it just doesn't work for me. So in the stop start nature of the traffic, it took hours to get back and it gave me a lot of time to reflect about a few things. I had been looking over at Nadine a lot over the day and had reservations about going up to her sometimes to get involved in conversation, because I had this horrible feeling that I like always am an obligation to someone, and heading back to Nadine's house in the fragile state I was, I really retreated into myself. I had been feeling like that quite heavily most of the day but it really peaked there and then.

I sat in the guest room and Nadine told me Bas was leaving and I unintentionally gave Bas the cold shoulder, not because I was mad at him but because everything was overwhelming me in that moment. I messaged him later to clear everything up, he was concerned and I appreciated it, he's a great guy. I met his family as well, I may have embarrassed myself. Anyway, got a bit off track there, so Nadine came to talk to me, I told her all that I had been feeling and she listened, she insisted I was never any sort of obligation to her and that I was there to see her and whilst I felt like I may have intruded on conversations between her and Bas, I guess I was wrong to not try.

On the Friday and Saturday, I told myself that I was accepting of being with Nadine for the weekend then going away on Monday, but it started to feel like a numb reality for me that Nadine would no longer be knocking on my door and saying with her amazing voice "LOO-cahh". Which is why Sunday evening couldn't have been more perfect.

My parents walked down and we ordered Domino's, the food was amazing. We all sat down and ate, we all spoke about the event, my mum and dad told us that earlier on, they unintentionally sat down in a place where dog owners get their doggos to "shite" as a polite enough individual worded it. We spoke about our home town's differences like how it takes Nadine's town way too long to get a train past, when it takes us about 10 times longer for that process to happen.

We showed our home town on Google Earth or Maps whichever one it is, we got a load of photos together in a variety of different people on a number of different devices, and then me and Nadine played two of her Pokémon games. That brought back major memories for me! I played the Gen 4 Sinnoh games, but couldn't after that, I'll get into why in my next article in which I plan to talk about why I am looking forward to Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee!.

I have been abroad not many times in the last few years. Spain was the last country we went to that I recall, and that was July 2013 and it was appalling, I just wanted to get home, so I wasn't peeling myself off of the LEATHER SOFA! In Spain, a leather sofa?! It was my Auntie Paula's apartment, I demand she change her furniture but I'm not going back regardless. (Sorry if you're actually reading this, just a joke hope you find it somewhat funny)

Being very honest, I don't remember a holiday in which I didn't come back from being relieved, at least in recent memory. I used to say a holiday was a way for me to appreciate home a lot more, bring things into perspective, but being with my Dutch best friend and her amazing family and friends, I've never been happier. They're just the loveliest bunch of people you could ever imagine, I consider them already a second family to me.

Saying bye for now on Monday, I won't say it wasn't difficult because I knew Nadine and her family would always now be solidified as a major part of my life. I know I am going to see Nadine and everyone else again, but I can't lie when I say that even though I message her pretty much every day, it feels surreal now that I know what Nadine sounds like and how her life is, if that makes sense.

I want to be able to make the Dutch TT either an annual trip or maybe biennial with Nadine coming here every other year, despite the fact I am insisting she doesn't as my hometown is a shithole. But she has seen we have an owl centre nearby and is incredibly insisting and I cannot in good conscience tell her no now haha! I have plans to perhaps have her come here when there's a British Superbikes event on nearby at Oulton Park perhaps, maybe go to the World Superbikes at Donington or the MotoGP at Silverstone, having been to Silverstone before knowing fine well the best seats in the house are at the Maggots-Aintree-Becketts-Chapel complex in which you can see about 80% of the track.

I'll end this article with a caption I put up on a post on Instagram on February 17th, Nadine's birthday when she received her Build-A-Bear Charmander to have alongside her Eevee.

"Happy birthday to the most wonderful person I've ever met, Nadine who now has her Charmander along with her Eevee. I've told Nadine this before but I sense it may be also worth saying here, Nadine accepted me as her friend back in around 2011 time (if I'm remembering it correctly, Valentino Rossi was riding for Ducati at the time) and I've become a better person as a direct result of her. She has seen me through thick and thin, I dread to think what I'd be without her friendship but I definitely don't deserve how great of a friend she has been to me. I say all of this because at long last, I'll be flying out to visit her in the Netherlands when we attend the Dutch MotoGP event at Assen. I really cannot put into words how I can't contain myself to meet my long-time close friend. As for today Nadine, you celebrate turning 21 because going around the sun that many times is a major achievement, I barely made it myself lol. Ludine :D"

Nadine has indeed seen me through times I'd rather not talk about, and accepted me through those times and I almost feel I cannot be as good to her as she is with me. She made this trip great of course, but everyone else there just made it feel full of rich character and energy, being Isa, Bas, Kim, Illona, Ben, even the animals. By the way I forgot to mention, I did meet their other cat Felix and she head-butted my hand like she apparently always does.

It's official, the Netherlands is my second home. I am already a fan of Max Verstappen so effectively I am half way there! The country was great, the event was spectacular, everything was so great and I do miss it already. I know I'll see them again. Dank je Nederland, I can't wait to come back.

Alright! Dank je for reading everyone. Until we meet again.

Luca.

The moment we met! Taken by Nadine's father Ben.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

The state of Formula 3

FIA, Motorsport, Racing, F3, F3 Europe, Race of Pau
Image courtesy of www.fia.com
Hello you, my name is Luca but you can call me Luca. For the past couple of weeks, I was trying to get an article out about spoiler culture in entertainment media, I scrapped it because I just wasn't satisfied. I also really wanted to make this article, and have it be the second of my 'Racing Blab', because I did want to make that a mainstay of my blog. But whilst I never want to write about too many familiar things consecutively, I realise I am putting myself in a box with this racing blab series.

I love motorsport, and whatever I love, I'll always have something to say about it. So in this article, I'd like to tell you all about my efforts back in 2013 when the FIA European Formula Three championship came to be, and what the future holds as a result of them continuing to ignore me. Okay that was probably a tad arrogant at the end but this series is on its way down and I'm trying to do my utmost to put it right, because I don't want to see it die.

For those of you who don't know, allow me to bring you up to date. In 2011, the FIA sought to certify the existing F3 Euro Series as the leading F3 championship, and it did so in 2012 with the FIA European Formula Three championship. Prior to the FIA rebranding, the Euro Series had been a combined effort of the previously existing French and German championships, and resulted in many champions that went on to compete in F1 such as Lewis Hamilton, Paul di Resta, Romain Grosjean, Nico Hülkenberg and the late Jules Bianchi. Sebastian Vettel also competed in the series but lost out on the title to team mate di Resta.

Being a combined effort of the German and French F3 championships, the Euro Series merely existed as bi-product of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters or DTM and as a result, would mostly race on the support schedule to DTM. However as it began to gain credibility on the motorsport junior formulae ladder, the FIA sought to get their hands on the series in order to solidify it as the premier F3 championship for drivers intending to get to F1.

I once had a conversation with former F3 Euro Series driver Alexander Sims, who competed in the Euro Series in 2009 and 2010, finishing fourth overall both times. He also competed in the revitalised FIA European F3 part time so he was the perfect guy to talk to regarding the gripes I had with the FIA championship.

So when the series didn't have FIA support and wasn't designed to be a stepping stone for young drivers making it up to F1, the DTM was an amazing platform for these drivers to race alongside on the same circuits but when the FIA stepped in to make it appropriate for the drivers racing to really prepare for F1, what should have happened was a major overhaul of the circuits that the series visited. That really didn't end up happening.

Back in 2013, one year into the complete takeover by the FIA, the series had expanded by quite a bit outside of the DTM but still for some reason it retained a lot of unnecessary circuits that the DTM utilised, the worst culprits being Brands Hatch Indy and Norisring. Don't get me wrong, the Norisring offers up some incredible racing, but it isn't entirely relevant for an F1 driver, certainly though a hell of a lot better than Brands Hatch Indy.

Having mentioned I spoke to Alexander Sims, he agreed with a point I had made that DTM's choices of circuits over the years whilst probably line up with the manufacturer driven showcasing of their cars, it doesn't align with the need to develop junior drivers. DTM tends to use the shorter versions of circuits, they're thankfully moving away from this habit now more and more but back in the day, they'd use Brands Hatch Indy which was a pitifully short 1.2 miles long, and also over the years used the shorter variants of the Nürburgring GP circuit, Hockenheim, Catalunya and according to Alexander, he even heard discussions about using the shorter version of Zandvoort.

So in 2013, I spoke to someone who I won't name here but who was an editor for a motorsport reporting publication at the time for DTM and F3, and put forward a schedule merely based on the best bunch of circuits balanced between multiple different championships, some of which were some decent and appropriate circuits that DTM were utilising. The schedule included the following:

Monza supporting the World Touring Cars, or indeed any series that was racing at Monza with an opening since WTCC abandoned its Monza round for 2014. It also included Silverstone alongside the WEC, racing at both Pau and Monaco, the Hungaroring, Red Bull Ring, Spa-Francorchamps, Nürburgring (actual full Grand Prix loop), Zandvoort and Hockenheim. My contact actually did pass it on to the head of F3 at the time, though I can understand why they didn't act on it to the exact specifics. Though I had planted the seed of thought in mind, I assumed it meant by 2014 or a little bit later, the series heads would get their act together.

I was wrong, and the series has never managed to break free of its DTM stranglehold completely and it has all come too late since as of 2019, the FIA F3 name will be moved over to what we know now as GP3 and whilst the F1 hopefuls will be racing on the F1 support package, we will lose the magic that the current F3 has when we go from three races to two, have reverse grid races and Pirelli tyres instead of Hankook. Not to say GP3 is bad or anything, quite the contrary, but the departing F3 series really does have a unique quality about it that we are set to lose.

Having been under the impression that the current F3 championship will cease and all the teams that don't already run in GP3 will move over to the new FIA F3, I have been told that the organisers of the current series will be trying to continue the series under the guise of European Formula Three without the FIA's support. If the organisers want to seriously hold a candle to the new FIA F3 championship, they can't just cling to the DTM like a terrified toddler grips onto its mother's hand, they need to remain branched out and only commit to DTM's schedule when it suits them.

After some research and looking at the Formula Renault EuroCup's schedule, I came to the conclusion of what I believed would be the best schedule for the future European F3 championship, which included the following: Paul Ricard alongside ELMS (as much as I despise Paul Ricard as a racing circuit), Monza either alongside ELMS or Blancpain Endurance, Spa alongside WEC, ELMS or the Blancpain Endurance 24 hour event, the Silverstone WEC event, the Grand Prix de Pau retaining its F3 host race, alongside the DTM for rounds at Hockenheim, the Hungaroring and Zandvoort, the Blancpain Sprint event at Nürburgring and finally the Blancpain Endurance event held at Catalunya. Maybe even a round at the Algarve circuit alongside ELMS as well.

This is the best case scenario, though I fear the resources for the series will dry up and we will be getting grids the size of Spanish F4. There's more of a chance of more teams going to the European F3 series if the circuits were relevant for the F1 development, rather than going back to being a by-product of DTM like the old Euro Series. But if the series doesn't end up being sustainable as a full time campaign possibility for a young driver, the only possible route I can see it going down is downsizing.

Back again in 2013, the British F3 championship downsized to just four rounds which I thought was a travesty, not because of what they ended up doing wasn't a good idea but because the British F3 championship should always have been a national series. 2013 proved to show a great concept that would have worked without the British F3 name, scaling the series down to just four rounds.

In doing this, the British F3 grid garnered names of FIA European F3 regulars such as eventual champion Jordan King as well as Antonio Giovinazzi, Tatiana Calderón, William Buller, Jann Mardenborough etc. as well as the occasional F3 graduate like the previous season's runner-up Jazeman Jaafar attempting to qualify for the Macau Grand Prix, and also the odd lower category racer looking to garner some experience for an attempt to race in F3 the following year. At a heavily reduced cost due to logistics, it was a great concept that I have wanted to see expanded upon.

So if the European F3 championship schedule I proposed for it to remain a full season, instead a part time campaign can be ran so many teams can enter and drivers looking to add onto their full time campaign in FIA F3, British F3 or the many F4 championships out there, the grid I reckon would be filled. My suggestion for a downsized F3 series would be to run at Monza, Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps and Nürburgring.

The third and final proposal I have for the soon to be departing FIA Euro F3 championship, if you're going to go back to being a DTM major support series, why not embrace it? Partner up with ADAC F4 and support the DTM and ADAC GT Masters at a majority of events, and go back to being the German F3 championship? Since the original Euro Series formed from the French and German championships and there is more than likely going to be a lot of teams from the current series that probably won't be able to transition over to the new FIA F3 championship.

So these are my proposals to save the current top tier F3 championship because I don't want it to die. Will the organisers listen to me? Probably not. I'm just a 21-year old British guy who likes motorsport. I have my good intent of course, so I hope they don't dismiss me. I am not naïve, I know I will miss a shit load of factors in this blog post that contribute to my ideas not working, but hopefully I can trust the pros to take my very unfiltered and ambitious concept then ground it down to realistic.

I hope you've enjoyed my article! Those who are still here despite the tonnes of information that was probably a bit too much to read for some people, I hope I've put it in a concise and straightforward manner.

I've also got some news for you people, well not news really but an exciting set of updates. This Sunday, I will be off to my local top level racing circuit Croft to watch the British Touring Cars, then next week I'm flying out to the Netherlands to meet a long time friend for the first Nadine, who I've known for about seven or so years, and we are going to attend the Dutch TT MotoGP event!

Finally, today I had an email from someone at Carlin Motorsport (whose 2017 FIA Euro F3 car you can see in the header photo of this article) inviting me down to their base of operations due to my keen interest in making a novel centred around a British racing driver. I am going there probably in the weeks following the British Grand Prix, to learn about how junior formulae teams operate, and how they would run in FIA British F4, BRDC British F3, FIA Formula Three and FIA Formula Two.

I also intend on meeting a few of my favourite drivers that race for Carlin at the moment such as Lando Norris (driving the car in the header picture), Sérgio Sette Câmara, Sacha Fenestraz and also Billy Monger, who lost his legs after a crash last April in British F4 but now races in British F3. It isn't the sole purpose of attending, but it'd be nice to meet some of these drivers who I know will all be stars of the future.

So I am very excited at the moment! Motorsport is my life, so I think you can call understand why I want what's best for as many series as possible. Let's see by 2019 if one of these eventualities happens or if we lose this series completely, I don't want that to happen.

Alright! That'll be it from me. If you're new here and are keen to stick around, you can either follow me on Twitter @TheLucaFormat or put your email into the 'Follow By Email' option in the top right if you're on your laptop. Hope to see you all back here soon for more of me blabbering on nonsensically and hoping you find enjoyment out of it.

So until we meet again,
Luca.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Stories I want to tell and how you can help

Image courtesy of www.sportskeeda.com
Hello you, my name is Luca but you can call me Luca. So I did an article about how much I love Rush, a movie detailing the battle for the 1976 Formula One world championship between flamboyant Brit James Hunt (portrayed by Chris Hemsworth) and calculating Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl), directed by Academy Award winning director Ron Howard.

In the article I wrote, I detailed just how significant this movie is to me, not only because it's an incredibly enjoyable movie but because of the social impact it had on me. Having lived an entire school life feeling a sense of ridicule and almost disrespect of my love for motorsport by the majority of my peers.

It is no secret whatsoever that the majority of the casual viewing public are very dismissive towards motorsport, claiming it isn't physical because you don't see the athlete moving without the help of an engine, and that it's way too reliant on numbers and that it is way too mechanical. Motorsport is just driving around in circles, it's not a sport! We all know this is bullshit, which is what made Rush so significant to me, I managed to go see the movie with some friends when I ran into them at the cinema and it felt amazing to show what I loved to them and they loved it.

Rush was my breakthrough, and it made me realise just how little the motorsport world is represented in a respectful manner in terms of media, especially in movies though I can understand why there aren't many movies since motor racing itself costs a lot of money to run so making a movie would cost a shit tonne of money. Plus with the lack of interest from a majority of movie audiences, it isn't always going to make its budget back let alone even profit, Rush cost its studio apparently $38M before marketing, and the movie made just short of $100M. It didn't lose money but it wasn't so overwhelmingly huge, a respectable achievement but not enough to cause a wave of motor racing movies.

Whilst I would love to see an Ayrton Senna biopic with Rodrigo Santoro, it probably won't happen but this doesn't mean we can't see a rise of other forms of motorsport entertainment. This has been playing on my mind for a while now, and I've decided that I want to help people like me not grow up with such shame. I want to create stories about motorsport, and I want to make it cool.

At the moment, I have three ideas in mind, all very different and tackling different corners (pardon the pun) of motorsport and showcasing this passion I have in the form of stories and various forms of media. I'd like to detail a few of them with you right now, the last one will need your input mainly as that's the one I am diverting the most of my attention to but if you can give me some pointers on the others then I won't stop you.

Image result for gt academy
Image courtesy of www.carguide.ph
Here's the first one and I spoke about it in a full article, a Gran Turismo movie. With Sony having been pushing for a long time to have their own car racing franchise in order to rival the Fast and Furious franchise and also Need For Speed's attempt at a franchise which probably hasn't really materialised.

The GT film never really got going, and honestly it seems like a good thing considering they were aiming for the level of action and tone as Need For Speed and the Fast and Furious movies, and Gran Turismo really doesn't lend itself to that. Thankfully though, they weren't planning on adapting the source material of the games and were instead looking to base it around the concept of GT Academy, which incase you didn't read my dedicated article, was a programme that took gamers and put them through a selection process to determine who would be picked to become a racing driver.

There have been many graduates of the GT Academy programme but the one I always point to is the one I have pictured when it comes to proven talent and success, Jann Mardenborough. Unlike the other GT Academy graduates, Mardenborough has not only proven his worth in GT and LMP cars but also single seaters. The young Welshman began his journey by taking a gap year from education and playing way too much Gran Turismo, and then entered the competition and fought off many competitors during the selection process.

Sony's intent was to have a story about a gamer who becomes a real life racing driver, and I am definitely retaining this concept. I know for a fact though that the F&F and NFS style wouldn't work with this concept, but distancing itself from the absurdity of those two and grounding it in reality would be way more appropriate.

If you read my article, you'd also know that I am not basing it off of any of the real life stories of gamer to racer, but rather an amalgamation of a load of stories, not one exact true event but combining them all to tell a story that honours all of them. Because my main character in this story would be a British-Nigerian student named Josh Zuma, portrayed by Star Wars actor John Boyega.

He would be a very casual player who uses a controller, so that the audience are able to relate to him  a lot more even if the idea of a controller casual player being as capable as someone using a wheel and pedals is very unrealistic. We will then be introduced to the world of professional gaming racers, to show how rich the world of Esports and online and competitive racing is.

I detail all of this in my article here: https://redsone-shot.blogspot.co.uk/2018/03/an-idea-gran-turismo-movie.html

If you fancy reading up more on it then go ahead, because I know there's plenty to tell there but mostly plenty to inspire. Gaming and motorsport are both categories that people are very quick to dismiss, and not only does this story to me seem absurd in the grand scheme of things, it's very much true and I want people to see that it is possible.

In the context of my current vision of the story, Josh Zuma aims to become the first gamer to win both the 24 hours of Le Mans and the Formula One World Championship, because I heard former Nissan head of motorsport and current leader of the Esports and Cars team Darren Cox say he had no doubt in his mind that there will be a person who at one point will be racing virtual cars that will at one point win Le Mans and the F1 world championship. I hope I live to see the day, and that's what I want to get across in the GT film.

Related image
Image courtesy of www.youtube.com
Next up is an idea I had with my friend Nadine, an anime and manga focused on a motorcycle racer. Nadine and I have love and appreciation for motorcycle racing, but also Pokémon and I concede to all of you anime and manga diehards that Pokémon probably doesn't do very mature typical anime much justice, and I'm not an anime diehard myself though I am trying to get onboard with it. The anime and manga subgenres are fascinating from the outset, especially having got a glimpse of it with Pokémon.

This concept would be based on a main character who is Japanese, and is racing in the in-universe equivalent of MotoGP, which for now I will call MotoX1 incase I can't use MotoGP for licencing purposes. I have a very clever name for my main character, he would be called Motoharu since I love the idea of having 'Moto' in his name. Though Nadine tells me that you apparently have to have a name for your character that is very relevant to their personality when it comes to meaning, and Motoharu apparently means 'Origin of Spring'. Maybe I could come up with a more relevant name and have his surname contain Moto, maybe like Motozumi or an inevitably better one.

If I ever got this series to happen, I'd like to think I could hand it off to some writers who truly understood the value and importance of a story like this, and also knew how to do anime and manga way better than I ever could. My hope would be that it would have a new issue released monthly or however long it takes to release a manga, and maybe along with an anime series it would follow the main character as he races in the premier motorcycle racing category, showcasing a lot of exciting moments during the racing and meeting a lot of major characters.

I'd like to have a very flamboyant Italian character who rides for the in-universe equivalent of Ducati, and very much a Marco Simoncelli figure in terms of appearance and character. Then a lot of Spanish characters but with one certainly being the equivalent of Marc Márquez, these of course wouldn't be the main characters, just for authenticity's sake.

Of course though, this Japanese rider who just so you know who I'm referring to, I'm calling him Motoharu even if I change it later on. Motoharu is the main character, and I believe utilising a manga/anime style to tell stories in the way that this genre have been known to tell. The heavy emphasis on the racing within the story, the visuals and artwork along with the tone of anime and manga that I have seen, the energy that they undoubtedly possess, it's a recipe for perfection in my eyes!

Ideally, I'd love to see a Motoharu manga series with an issue of it released every so often, preferably as often and ideally as possible, and the anime series formatted like that of Pokémon. Following the main protagonist's progress throughout the motorcycle championship he would compete in, and the many different personalities that he will meet along the way, forging rivalries and honing his skill, I can see this becoming extremely beloved by the motorsport community.

Finally though, and this is the big one. I don't even have a name for it, that's one of the things you can help out with, along with many other things. I want to write a set of novels based on a fictional racing driver who goes from being talent-spotted in karting and going through all the hardships on his way to Formula One.
Image result for max verstappen lando norris
Image courtesy of www.KartSportsNews.com
In this photo from 2013, two of the drivers will be ones you may or may not know as they're both in F1 and pretty much on their way inevitably to F1. On the far right, Red Bull F1 driver Max Verstappen and on the far left, current F2 championship leader Lando Norris who is set to race for McLaren after Fernando Alonso calls it a day.

I religiously follow an incredible range of motorsport championships, especially going up the junior formulae ladder and I know fine well that a lot of you won't really follow the lower categories of racing, but it's how all drivers must go before they get to F1. For example, Verstappen was a rare case in which he only raced in the one series between karting and F1 with the FIA European Formula Three championship, finishing third behind now DTM driver Tom Blomqvist and current Force India F1 driver Esteban Ocon.

Lando Norris however is a different story, having gone from karting (becoming the youngest karting champion, beating Lewis Hamilton's long standing record) to Ginetta Juniors aged 14, finishing third with best rookie honours. Then from 2015 onwards, Norris has won single seater championships like it was just another daily function like eating or sleeping, as he won the FIA sanctioned British Formula 4 championship that year, followed by three separate championships in 2016 and last year he won the FIA European F3 championship in his rookie season with incredible ease, even more impressive considering he wasn't even with the all dominant Prema team that up until that point had won every FIA European F3 championship since the series' inception in 2012.

Norris is currently leading the FIA Formula Two after four rounds by a comfortable 27 points over five year F2 veteran and last season's vice-champion Artem Markelov, and as much as I want to relax, I know I can't because as confident as I am he's going to win, I don't want to jinx it. Anyway I've gushed enough about Lando now, all you need to know that this is how an F1 driver starts out.

Most people don't watch the lower categories even though there's always some great racing, but regardless of that, the casual F1 viewer doesn't take into account where these drivers came from. No average Joe can just make it to F1, there is a heavy selection process and I want to get across the struggles and hardships that these drivers go through in this story, the uncertainties of racing since it costs a lot of money to maintain this, coupled with growing up and going through education, the social pressures in life, all the hardships that come along the way.

My main character is going to be from my hometown, born in the early part of the year 2000 and will be talent spotted at the Teesside Autodrome karting circuit, a track which I go past when I'm on my way to Middlesbrough. Apparently the longest kart track in Europe and I went there a few days ago to speak to the owner, as I am doing research into what the process is when someone is apparently good enough for the people there to suggest that they should consider chasing a professional racing career.

I also have a very helpful and great guy helping me out here, a 15-year old British racing driver named Olli Caldwell, who is currently racing this year in the German and Italian Formula Four championships, having won a race in both series so far this year. He's been giving me his own personal experiences but I know fine well that experiences differentiate, and that I'll be doing my utmost to gather several perspectives because I want to do this story justice.

My aim with this potential series is to really encapsulate everything that a driver goes through because it seems that so many people don't see that or just don't care to know. That for every Lewis Hamilton, there's probably another kid who isn't granted the same opportunities, and I don't want to put a foot wrong.

You see, the main thing I wanted to get across with this novel and also the other two ideas I've had, it's that like the movie Rush, people who watch motorsport really don't have a lot in terms of entertainment like movies, books etc. I know there are plenty of movies out there about boxing and football, probably not a lot but that's another thing I want to get across, there's no shortage of stories out there about any and all forms of sport.

I highly encourage anyone out there who likes football or boxing, or indeed any other kind of sport that I can't think of off the top of my head, to write a book or a screenplay and try to tell this story of yours in a way that would mean that even if someone didn't traditionally like this sport, they could still pick it up and enjoy it. Like what Jeremy Jahns said about Rush, you don't need to be an F1 or motorsport fan to enjoy Rush in the same way you don't need to be a mixed martial arts fan to enjoy the 2011 movie Warrior with Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte.

But of course to tell this story, I need people out there who are racing drivers. It doesn't matter to what degree you are into motor racing, as long as you are looking to hopefully one day make it to F1, you are around the right age, either you're still in karts or you are going to be in junior formulae, or already are, any and all advice is great.

So if you're reading this and you know you can help me out with your own personal experiences in karting and racing, feel free to contact me. Message me on Twitter @TheLucaFormat.

That's the perfect way to end this blog article. Again, if you feel you can help, do not hesitate as I hope to be making this novel and I may or may not be publishing it for free on here until a publishing company picks it up then you can go out and buy it, kind of like how Andy Weir's The Martian came to be.

Alright! Thank you so much for reading. As I've already stated, my Twitter is @TheLucaFormat, feel free to follow me on there if you haven't already if you want to know when I publish an article. Or you can put your email address in the 'Follow By Email' option on the right hand side if you want my articles sent straight to your inbox.

Hope to see you all here soon, so until we meet again.

Luca.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

A traumatic day

Hello everyone, so it's a different tone today. I am using this to tell you about a very traumatising day in my life, which happened when I was in secondary school, infact most of the terrible times came from that point in my life as probably with many people's lives.

I go to an open mind therapy group every now and then, I particularly needed it recently and one of the things I talk about to my therapists is times in my adolescence that really sealed the deal in who I became, and not in a positive manner. So here I am with my heart on my sleeve, ready to tell you all about a day in my life that was just awful for me, thinking I can be open with you lot and hopefully it can help you come to terms with things in your life and maybe help you open up to the people who love you.

This event I am referring to occurred in I believe it was Year 7 or Year 8, so I was about 13 or 14 and when you are at that age, you socialise with the popular kids because you always think that's the best idea. Not relevant to the story but this group of girls I hung around with, only saw me as a butt to a joke, I wasn't to know this at the time but eventually worked it out. No matter, but the group of girls were the ones I was with at that moment before it all went to shit.

So picture this, I was leaning against a wall whilst these girls were doing what I can recall was gymnastic practice or possibly even cheerleading related, and I seem to remember I was pondering and deep in thought, can't recall for the life of me what I was thinking about. That's irrelevant though, what is very much not irrelevant was that I was off guard and not ready for an ambush, this group of girls (not the same group that I was originally with) walk up to me, led by a large girl wearing a tracksuit - who looked like she would un-ironically use 'cause' as an answer to a question beginning with why - with quite the number of minions following her.

What ends up happening is she says quite loudly to me, "What are ya doing standing there? You're freaking me out?" and I am a bit overwhelmed at this point because I am surrounded. I'm amazed that this bitch had the audacity to question me just standing there, not bothering anyone and saying she was freaked out by it.. so I stumbled with my words, trying my utmost to be intelligible but failing miserably whilst still processing what she said to me.

So after my blubbering nonsensical noises, I finally am able to say something honestly quite weak, "Is it any of your business?" because that's a great comeback isn't it? By that point, this tracksuit wearing sizeable person had taken a large swig of the drink she had, and proceeded to point to her face whilst the liquid was still in her mouth and make a noise, as if to insinuate that I was being disrespectful because I had not spoken to her whilst she had the power to speak back. A calculated move on her part, though if I had spoken whilst she still could, she probably would have spoken over me deliberately.

On top of her doing this, one of her minion girl friends begins mocking me for the way I talk, doing the high pitch "meh meh meh", you get the idea. At this point, I walk away because it's so fucking blatantly obvious to your parents or teachers that the whole "just ignore them and be the bigger person" shit works, it works so brilliantly! You sense the sarcasm in there? If you didn't, and if you haven't figured it out yet, I am being sarcastic in that sentence.

The second I turn to walk away, they begin to pour salt in the wound. Mocking me as I tried to get out of this situation, saying the typical mockery bullshit like "Awhh, you going to tell the teacher? Going to go cry?", oh and it didn't help that I had developed a reputation throughout the school for being a teacher's pet, one thing I never wanted to be but oh well. Anyway, I am about to walk out of there and without a moment to exhale, this guy I know pops around the corner.

For context, I have no idea why but this guy would very infrequently pass me on school grounds and call me a psycho, and I couldn't fight this. In this instance after just being intimidated by this group of girls, the last thing I needed was another reason to get worked up, and I was already trying to escape, and I was about to implode. My world was caving in, I was feeling so alone and powerless in these moments, I had nobody to run to, which is why what followed was what made the situation what it is.

I was trying to remove myself from all possible social interaction, doing my utmost to hold back tears when I heard someone ask me if I was okay. This being one of the girls that I was with earlier, and I couldn't tell if she was being funny with me or not but I did react badly, since I was so on edge and ready to explode, I snapped at her saying "What do you want?". That's when the straw that broke the camels back happened, and I see this girl walk up to me who I had never seen before but was with the girl who asked me if I was okay, and she says the following.

"Who do you think you're talking to with that ugly gap between your teeth?".

Yes. This was said. I have never been self conscious about my tooth gap, not now and not back then, but this moment in my life, I have been told to run and ignore whatever is hurled my way, being told that I should just not give a shit what everyone has to say. You'll be out of school in a few years, leading a very successful life whilst they are at home claiming benefits and taking drugs, come on kid it's wrong to care about what other people think of you!

In this moment of uncontrollable anger, in this moment of fear, of rage, of that feeling of powerlessness, I did something which would seal my fate as being one angry, closed off emotionally, fearful, wreck of a person. I gave this girl who said I had an ugly gap between my front teeth, one mighty swing of my foot into her leg, which apparently left one major bruise. All I can recall from this moment was I shouted something whilst trying to fight off major tears, whilst she turned to look back at who she was with and put her hand over her mouth.

A lot of what happened afterwards is a very fuzzy time, all I can muster up in memory may not have even happened but all I felt was whilst I was walking back, everyone was looking at me. I may as well have been Cersei Lannister and had someone behind me chanting 'shame', I felt the prying eyes of judgement almost firing lasers at my neck, hanging my head because I couldn't bare to look anyone in the eye.

What I do remember clear as day, I had P.E. after lunch break which was when this happened, and my class are all sat in a line and my support assistant who I am not going to name, comes up to me and gives me that same glare that I felt was happening when walking back into the school. Now just so you all know, I am well aware both now and at the time that kicking that girl was not right, but it was never a case of I just wanted to kick her. It was a butterfly effect of shit piled on top of more shit, that led to me crumbling, so it wasn't just a case of "I want to hurt someone for no reason".

The thing that really put the sourest sting to it was when my support assistant confronted me, her exact words when I told her about what this girl had said were "Well there's evidence to what you did whereas there is none of what you claim", or something along those lines. All she ever had to do was know me, that I don't just do what I did do because of an inherent desire to hurt people.

What I needed was someone to understand me, I may have been a stubborn little shit but I would have looked back on that, accepting responsibility for kicking this girl. But instead I was greeted with major backlash from the person I should have been depending on, I felt like the enemy, and that was the day I started bottling it all up.

Every day since then and to this day, it hurts. It hurts knowing I tried to get away from it all, I kept getting poked with a stick and when I reacted, I was shamed for it. I admit wrongdoing looking back but I don't blame myself, I wish it didn't happen but that's different from regret, and I don't regret it because I tried to get my voice out. I tried to shout with what I had and was so quickly losing everything I had in that moment, I was being shamed for running, I was being shamed for crying, I was being shamed for reacting, could I ever win?

I'm 21 now, and this day lives on as one of the worst days of my life. The day I broke, the day it all went to shit and I would forever remain as one angry, anxious and resenting piece of shit. I clench my fists when cars go past me or I walk past a stranger on the street because I fear for what they will end up doing, which isn't an unfounded fear as I am constantly being harassed by twats who feel it's a good idea to startle me then race off.

I play out scenarios in my head, hypothetical or past confrontations and I tense up, running these events in my mind. This has had a profound effect on me, and no amount of how well off I have it in my life will ever change what I have become, a loathing mess.

I'm writing this mostly because I want to open up, and I want to encourage everyone else to open up if something has been bothering them. I want to show this to my closest friends directly, and anyone else who sees this, the people you have in your life will accept anything that is making you hold your breath.

Hopefully I have helped someone by opening up here, because I do want to move past this and I know fine well that I have it really good in my life and so many people have it worse. But whatever you are all going through, I can't express enough that you are well within your right to react and you shouldn't be ashamed if your world is caving in and you can't hold yourself. Don't ever feel ashamed for doing some regrettable shit, you can wish things didn't happen but nobody is in their right to hold it against you.

I have lived my life closed away, I still find it difficult to be completely comfortable around so many people because of this day and so many other days. But I will continue to move forward, I am blessed to have the most supportive and loving people in my life who will help me as I will help them in return.

Don't bottle it all up, never let anyone in your life tell you that you're wrong, that you are evil for stumbling, for losing your way, it doesn't mean you are lost forever. Sometimes, all we need is a little help.

Thank you so much for reading, take care everyone.

Luca.