Progress prolongs our existence. It is a beautiful reality that progress will one day find the cure for cancer, the solution to global warming and the end to discrimination. Even individually, each day is progression. We might do nought but lay in a hammock on a golden Maldivian beach, wordless, but not thoughtless – never thoughtless – and that is progress in itself. Thought begets progress. Aroused by thought, we have feeling and we have affinity.
Kimi Raikkonen is set to return to Formula 1 next year with the Lotus Renault team. The team, which is set to become Lotus, announced on Tuesday the 2007 world champion would join them for next season. Raikkonen last raced in Formula 1 with Ferrari in 2009.
Raikkonen said: “I’m delighted to be coming back to Formula 1 after a two-year break, and I’m grateful to Lotus Renault GP for offering me this opportunity.
“My time in the World Rally Championship has been a useful stage in my career as a driver, but I can’t deny the fact that my hunger for F1 has recently become overwhelming.
“It was an easy choice to return with Lotus Renault GP as I have been impressed by the scope of the team’s ambition. Now I’m looking forward to playing an important role in pushing the team to the very front of the grid.”
Gerard Lopez, chairman of teams owners Genii, said: “All year long, we kept saying that our team was at the start of a brand new cycle. Backstage we’ve been working hard to build the foundations of a successful structure and to ensure that we would soon be able to fight at the highest level.
“Kimi’s decision to come back to Formula 1 with us is the first step of several announcements which should turn us into an even more serious contender in the future. Of course, we are all looking forward to working with a world champion. On behalf of our staff, I’d like to welcome Kimi to Enstone, a setting that has always been known for its human approach to Formula 1.”
I don’t know what is weirder. Seeing Kimi in the JPS colours or the fact that he hasn’t aged at all since his debut in 2001, just grown his hair.
Also, now that Kimi is with Lotus, he joins a list of greats such as Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, Gerhard Berger, Jean Alesi, Jenson Button, and Nelson Piquet Sr. (as well as his son Nelsinho!) to have driven for the Enstone team originally named Benetton Formula, then renamed Renault F1 and now known as Lotus Renault GP.
He also joins legends such as Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Stirling Moss, Emerson Fittipaldi, Jochen Rindt, Nigel Mansell, Elio de Angelis, Ayrton Senna, Nelson Piquet, Mika Hakkinen, Ronnie Peterson, Alex Zanardi and Carlos Reutemann to have driven under the Lotus name.
Just a little over a week ago the issue seemed to be finalized. You could have called the engraver and no-one would have batted an eyelid at your lack of tact. Santos striker Borges looked to have the issue of the golden boot in the Campeonato Brasileiro put to bed. With four rounds left, his ten goal lead looked nearly unassailable, and the prize that the thirty one year old missed out on missed out on six years looked to be finally his. After thirty-four laps the race was a foregone conclusion as the pack lingered behind.
Then, without any prior warning, a bolt from the blue surged new life into the contest and the predictable conclusion was thrown out the window. A challenger had appeared, and his name was Fred.
The Fluminese striker went berserk in rounds thirty-five and thirty six as he netted an incredible sevens goals in total. Gremio were the first to feel Fred’s wrath as he scored four times in a 5x4 win for his team before plucky overachievers Figueirense were demolished 4x0 courtesy of a hat trick from Fred.
Suddenly the race is wide open, and Borges now can hear breathing as he inches ever closer, and it is the Fluminese striker who has the momentum.
This should be one of the best match ups of the season. Everybody’s money should be on the red-hot Packers who pose not only the best win-loss (read: undefeated) records in the NFL right now, but back that up with Aaron Rodgers being the best quarterback in the league at the moment (as much as it pains me to put anyone above Brady, for this season Rodgers has been meteoric), a plethora of attacking options at every position for said MVP lock-in, and a monstrous defense from BJ Raji up front, Clay Mathews at line backer, and the godly Charles Woodson at cornerback. As things stand, they are the most complete and talented team in the NFL.
The Detroit Lions, although not quite as good as they were at the start of the season, are one of the biggest surprises this season, along with Harbaugh’s 49ers and the embarrassment of the Manningless Colts. Mathew Stafford is finally showing the potential we all knew he had, thanks mostly to the man who is finally getting the appreciation he deserves. I legitimately thing Calvin “Megatron” Johnson is the best wide receiver in the NFL and could beat any cornerback in a 1-on-1 match up, even Revis and Asomugha. Options at back like Jahvid Best, and tight-end Pettigrew help take the load off souly Johnson’s back.
Their defense, although clearly not as good on paper as their Wisconsin division rivals, has its stand-out performer in the form of hyper mean, hyper athletic super freak Ndamukong Suh. He is the anchor in this defense, he is the “we need three lineman to stop him” monster that devours quarterbacks and running backs. I can wax lyrical about him, I honestly think he is that good. Unfortunately, although supported by Vanden Bosch and Chris Avril, these two show the pattern put together of effective but not great players of the Lions defense; like linebackers Tulloch and Durant both once highly rated but past their primes. Louis Delmas is the other shining light for the defense at safety, but overall I simply can’t see this defense stopping the Packer’s powerful offense.
Although the Packers have the current in-form Quarterback in Rodgers, the Lions have two “best players” in Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh. But the Packers show you need a support network to truly take it to the next level: why stop at one good receiver when you can give your quarterback 5? Now to be fair, the Lions are still rebuilding and only in their third year of the Jim Schwartz era, but there is still quite some gap between them and the current Super Bowl champs.
If the injuries to Megatron and Stafford don’t keep them from playing, expect a basketball score of 45-38 in favour of the Packers. This should be a hotly contested match up even with the Packers as the favourites, and if Suh and co. can get to Rodgers effectively this game could be a lot closer. It comes down to the lineman here: who can win the battle of the trenches should have this game won.
To sum it up, don’t discount the Lions in this NFC North epic, but I wouldn’t bet my house on it… or my car, or even $50 but that is mostly because I don’t have $50.
Robert Kubica: “Even if I’ve been working very, very hard over the course of the last few weeks, I came to the conclusion that I am not yet certain to be ready for the 2012 season. I have called the team and I have informed them of the situation. This was a difficult decision to make, but it is the most reasonable one. I also know that LRGP need to prepare for next year, and further extending deadlines would not have been the right thing to do. On a personal level, my recovery is still very encouraging and my doctors keep being impressed. I just need more time, as I want to be 100% ready before I commit to anything driving related. Finally, I regret not having been able to provide more news and not having appeared in the papers, and I thank my friends of the media for understanding that this has been the best way for me to cope with what has been the most difficult period of my life.”
Andre Villas-Boas’s visage has leapt across many extremes over the last month and a half. From quiet confidence to near-childish defiance, and more recently, after falling at home to Arsenal and Liverpool, a mix of anger and worry.
Football fans can be fickle in an almost cruel way when it comes to club managers. It comes with the territory. If a club isn’t doing well, it’s assumed that the man at the helm is at fault. “Get out the axe, let’s have his head!”, they scream. The footballing equivalent of that barbaric scene in Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto. But hold on a minute, won’t you?
The only thing that comes to mind to add to this article, for me, is that entire situation regarding the firing of Ancelotti. He dragged the team up from an awful first half of the season to a position to challenge a very strong Man U side for the title - and still got fired even though he had won titles in the past!
Andre Villas-Boas is a talented young manager but being given a squad of ageing superstars past their prime, a lack of youth development and an expectation to win everything is hardly the easiest situation. I understand why Abramovic would fire Villas-Boas, but I certainly wouldn’t agree with it.
The idea of community, however tangible or intangible, real or imagined, flourishes at the very core of football. Without fans, football doesn’t exist. Similarly, without readers, AFR would have died a long, long time ago. Conversation is the greatest source of sustenence in the beautiful game. Through one another, we grow. We learn. We come up with new ideas and even create friendships that transcend the game.
Though I’ve lived in Italy and Spain, and I’ve played football with someone of every nationality imaginable, I remain loyal to where I was raised. Boston, U.S.A. Though I love Spanish futbol, Italian calcio, and English football, the prospect of American soccer thriving in the States is something I hope to see sooner rather than later. Over the past few years, a US Soccer community has grown tremendously, and now I am proud to say that I have been a somewhat influential voice helping the beautiful game along. The game, Stateside, is here to stay thanks to the passion of dedicated individuals.
But stepping aside from nationalism for a moment, it is clear to see the game’s situation in the States is not unique. 10,000 miles away, Australian football fans are fighting a very similar battle. Last Spring, I walked the streets of Barcelona with my good friend Andrew Weber. Andrew, an Australian living in Berlin, was visiting BCN for the week. We took a trip up to Gaudi’s Parc Guell one afternoon, discussing art, philosophy, Spanish culture, and of course football. We also kicked around in the Parc briefly, before being yelled at by an old Catalan abuelo.
If Arsene Wenger’s career was a Kung-Fu movie, we would be in the part where the search is on for the villain who poisoned Arsene’s rice. Taking cues from the charismatic Frenchman, all eyes would be on the usual suspects, the media, referees, disloyal players, Roy Keane, Sam Allardyce, and the most obvious targets, those pin-stripe-suited figures throwing around Scrooge McDuck money for fun. But this film’s twist is that Arsene may have stubbornly poisoned his own rice.