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miércoles, 24 de noviembre de 2010

Formula 1 in Canada

The Gilles Villeneuve Circuit is perhaps the only one of the Formula 1 calendar that can be driven entirely by street cars, even with its kerbs and with just some understandable limitations. I felt like I was there with my guitar earlier this year, but recently I actually was there in a sunny and warm, perfect November day. There was almost nobody in the circuit, it was all for me and that made it even more special. I really think how special it is to drive in a Formula 1 circuit. Many football lovers would fulfil a dream if playing football in the grass of Bernabeu or Old Trafford Stadiums. That´s exactly how I feel in Formula 1 circuits. Driving and vibrating over the kerbs, approaching the Wall of Champions, caring about the grip on the chicanes, or wondering how Formula 1 cars can go through those narrow curves five times faster than me, gave me a new grade in the understanding of this sport.

It was a complete Formula 1 week, as I was also delighted to meet the guys of F1 Boutique Canada in old Montreal (who told me about the huge transformation of the city on the week of the Grand Prix), and not so delighted to watch the end of the Championship in Abu Dhabi because of the Fernando Alonso defeat. Very nice and remarkable Formula 1 season anyway, especially for me.


lunes, 25 de octubre de 2010

Valencia Street Circuit guitar lap (by car it´s not possible)

It is curious how a guitar is a better way to get close to the feelings of a Formula 1 driver than a real car. At least this is the case in the Valencia Street Circuit. I could imitate the sound of the entire Alonso lap with my guitar, but I couldn´t drive my car througout the circuit. The all-chicane character of the first two sectors is readily obvious even if you just listen to the sound of the guitar, but when driving your car there you find all the chicanes are cut to traffic for one reason or another, so you can drive only on the long straights. The funny third sector, which ends in the unique, musical braking of the last turn where my picture on the left is, is completely closed all year long, as it is the famous bridge. Perhaps an effort could be made to make the circuit more accesible and enjoyable to the thousands of Formula 1 fans that would be fond of visiting it. Anyway, reasons should be not to. The Valencia port is a busy area even without race lovers.

Despite all I just said, you can guess I absolutely loved being in the Valencia circuit, checking the tire rubber stuck to the track, getting my car to boxes, placing it in the Pole Position, or driving following the exact line used by the Formula 1 drivers. Feelings so nicely accompained by many others in one of my favourite cities.



viernes, 20 de agosto de 2010

Spanish touch of colour

  
On the occasion of the victory of Spain in the Eurocup, on August 11, 2008 I wrote the following text, entitled "The Spanish touch":

I once heard that the Spanish football team could never win anything because it does not have a definite style, a way of playing which Spanish players feel identified with since childhood, and to be used instinctively as a resource when they need to win. And other national teams do. Italy for example play to defend and take advantage of the few chances they have. Germany base their game upon physical strength, to get soon to the opposite area. England make an aggressive football, regardless of wearing down the opponent with kicks. But Spain, Spain don´t know what to play... It may be that to call something "style of play” it needs to be supported by a title, and therefore the style of Spain has not been considered as such.

But since the moment I started paying attention to this kind of things, that is back in the 1994 World Cup, I remember Spain playing always the same football: touching and touching the ball until get the rival bored, opening the game to the sides, making passes in all directions, searching for open areas all around the field, and getting to the opposite goal continuously. Unfortunately, however, the scoring effectiveness has never been a color of the Spanish flag, but who can forget the quarterfinal match against Italy in 1994, or that game against England at the Eurocup 96, or the damn goalless draw against Korea in 2002. In all these games you could not see the Spanish goalkeeper. It was a continuous attack of Spain without being able to score. Even my grandmother, whose sensor ability enabled her to assess only very simple things, wondered "why are we seeing only one goal?"

I believe all this defines a style of play, a Spanish style based on the touch, which has accompanied Spaniards in all those games that as much as they don´t like are impossible for them to forget. Because no one forgets those serious defensive errors, or those penalties shot so afraid to lose (or to win), or the inability to react in crisis moments because of believing that playing so well they would never live those moments.

However, Spain's matches at the Euro 2008 have been great, we are privileged to have seen those. But the game style has not changed, Spain don´t play better now, but they have shot better, and especially have defended better. They defended amazingly, the rival teams created so little occasions, and for the few of those, there was the best goalkeeper in the world. I would like to check how many national teams or how many clubs, throughout the history of football, have kept their goal unbeaten in quarters, semis and final of any professional competition. With this defense and goalkeeper, it would have been enough the only goal of Spain against Italy in 1994, or the Villa's penalty scored against France in 2006. The beauty of the Spanish touching game would have been imposed on those figures in the history of football as Roberto Baggio or Zidane, in the same way that it has been imposed in this Eurocup.

Let the style of touching, the Spanish style, the Spanish touch, decorate always our victories,

Mario


The same way as the World Cup victory completes the wins of Spain, I will complete the previous writing with the following:

During the early summer 2010, the streets of Spain have been decorated with Spanish flags in numerous balconies and windows. A decoration that our eyes could not miss everywhere we went, not only because of the striking the flag is, and its brightness amplified by the intense luminosity of these days, but because of the strong caution that for years has been taken when bringing up flags of Spain. Perhaps that is why many of those flags kept the folds of years in a small drawer, or of being purchased in neighborhood stores in the last minute.

But what is the reason for all this obsession with red and yellow, this Spanish touch of colour? Well, simply that the Spanish National Team played a World Cup in South Africa, and, furthermore, that they started as a favourite. In fact, Spain has always started as a favourite, perhaps because we forget that to win it is not enough to be better or having more score chances, but you have to score more goals. But this time we arrived from winning the Eurocup with a football of precision in all lines. The celebration of that victory also showed Spaniards how beautiful their flag is when they wave it together, and that is why, during this World Cup, that feeling has been from the beginning imposed on other old resentments.

Since in general I don´t like to do what everyone does, or when everyone does it, my way of joining this like for Spain has been the video you have next, co-starring my friends. Let me mention I admire their professionalism and how they don´t split their sides laughing:



As for the game of Spain during the World Cup, the Spanish touch that dazzled the world during the Eurocup has remained, thanks mainly to two football geniuses like Xavi or Iniesta. What these men do in the field is to be put on intelligence tests. Despite this, the brilliant game of Spain in the Eurocup may have been somewhat distorted in favour of other aspects of the game. The most important of these has been the strengthening of defense, with Xabi Alonso and Busquets as defensive midfielders rather than a solitary Senna. This, together with the plethoric Casillas, Piqué, Puyol, Capdevila and Sergio Ramos, has resulted in Spain becoming the first team in World Cup history to keep their goal unbeaten in the knockout stage.

In attack, or perhaps better said in scoring efficiency, Spain have lowered their level compared to that in the Eurocup. Torres was not right, and Iniesta seemed to be afraid to shoot. Even though, he had three shots and scored two historic goals. The difference with other World Cups, again, is the defense, without which Spain would have conceded a goal that would have let him out early.

And that was how Spain won this World Cup. The most important goals came very late and after very nervous moments, which made them the most celebrated goals of my life. When Iniesta scored in the final I started to scream at the top of my lungs until I was out of breath. Then I took air again and kept screaming. After several seconds, it came more clearly to my mind what that goal meant, and I screamed even louder. When I stopped screaming and stood up to hug my family, I realized I was crying. These screams and tears were repeated after the end of the game and with the image of Casillas raising the World Cup. Only once before I had cried with sporting events: with Fernando Alonso in the 2007 season.

With the World Cup victory, Spain is even more fashionable. Even the Empire State Building was lit with the colours of the Spain flag. Players like Puyol, Xavi or Iniesta suddenly equalize the record of Zidane of having won all major competitions possible. The Spanish touch fascinates the world and teaches it to play football. And Spain is, in short, happier, more Spain,

Mario

lunes, 2 de agosto de 2010

Press pressure, Alonso not alone

Fernando Alonso won the German race after being the quickest of the weekend and with no controversial decisions from the referees. Felipe Massa let him past in a very obvious way, but that was team decisions. Alonso just raced for the most points, like Raikkonen in Brazil 2007, Hamilton in Germany 2008, or the very Massa in China 2008. But the truth is that Massa wasn´t ever told to let Alonso past, so there were no team orders, what makes the fine for Ferrari pointless. If team orders are allowed when they are subtle but not when they are obvious, then tell me what kind of a rule is that. Because there are team orders almost every weekend, I think we all know. That is why it is not understandable why the English reporters, and also some German who didn´t look like caring about Vettel being in the podium, played the lead in the press conference of the following video. And when a reporter plays the lead in something, that´s because he is not doing his job correctly. Check out Alonso´s face, his broken voice when saying “no”, the empty expression of Massa, and the appropriate gesture of Vettel:



After scenes like this, my will to support Alonso whatever happens gets reinforced. He had to deal with all this after being the fastest driver of the weekend, after caring not to make his team look ridiculous by taking care in his previous opportunities to overtake Massa, and after being overtaken in the start by Massa who went out of the first turn and accelerated outside the track, a thing which is not allowed even though nobody seems to care about it.

I am very happy about the Alonso win, and about his second place in Hungary. Alonso is on the top of the races again and the more people are bothered with this, the stronger my support will be.

jueves, 15 de julio de 2010

Fernando Alonso Turkey 2010 lap on slide guitar

The most special feature of this circuit, the famous turn 8, was also a challenge for me but not for its risk, difficulty or G-force, but for how to make it sound real, what was not easy due to the need for the annoying alternate picking (that I use, as you may know, in long runs without gear changing or revolutions leaps in order not to lose strings vibration). Anyway I think it turned out good. I prefer alternate picking better than some gadgets like E-bow, because I want to keep the guitar playing with as less artifacts as possible. Note also, if you can sharpen your ears, the rather short 7th gear to gain acceleration in the medium straights of the first 2 sectors, with the penalty of reaching the revolutions limit in the long straight of the 3rd sector. Also, enjoy the kerb "produced" ragged sound, which I have been doing in former videos, but that I´ll try to improve further in future videos.

jueves, 10 de junio de 2010

Robert Kubica Monaco 2010 lap on slide guitar

I am so proud to present the Monaco circuit video, the hardest to play of the whole season. It was so unlucky that the first time Fernando Alonso couldn´t be on a qualifying session in his whole career, it was in this circuit I was looking forward so badly. However, Robert Kubica´s precise and aggressive driving in Monaco was a challenging one to imitate on guitar.
This is a very nervous track, with quick gear changes up and down. It was impossible for me to change gears down as fast as Kubica in the first corner, so I´m sorry about that. At least I didn´t need to worry about hitting the barriers. Instead, I worried about hitting the end of my fretboard in the famous turn 6, the slowest of the championship, in 1st gear.
Special mention to the tunnel darkness and reverb effects achieved by my friends (and by my mom in the first rehersals, data not shown ;-)), to recreate the most famous landmark of this circuit. The ovation at the end is for you guys.
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Je suis fier de vous présenter la vidéo du circuit de Monaco, le plus difficile à interpréter de toute la saison. C'était une très mauvaise chance que la première fois dans toute la carrière de Fernando Alonso qu'il n'a pas réussi à être dans une séance de qualification, soit sur cette piste, que j'attendais tellement. Mais comme chaque nuage a une lueur d'espoir, d'imiter la conduite précis et agressive de Robert Kubica à Monaco à la guitare a été un beau défi.
Ce circuit est très nerveux, avec des augmentations et des diminutions de vitesse très rapides. Désolé, mais je trouve qu'il est impossible d'imiter le rétrogradage aussi vite que Kubica au virage 1. Au moins je n'avais pas la préocupation de frapper la barrière... En retour, j'étais inquiet pour ne pas arriver à la fin de la guitare dans le célèbre virage 6 du circuit, le plus lent du championnat, en 1ère vitesse.
Ils méritent une mention spéciale les effets de l'obscurité et de la réverbération dans le tunnel, prises par mes amis (et ma mère dans les premiers essais, les données ne figurent pas ;-)), pour recréer les caractéristiques les plus connues de ce circuit. L'ovation à la fin est pour vous.

Fernando Alonso China 2010 lap on slide guitar

This circuit has the two curliest turns and the longest straight in the whole championship. The first of those turns (turn 1) requires a characteristic slow changing down of gears, unique in the championship. The other curly turn, previous to the long straight, shows a sudden car direction deviation, quickly corrected by Alonso and by my left hand. The very long straight of the 3rd sector, with 11 seconds in 7th gear, allows me to see you all watching the video. I don´t know why, but the engine doesn´t get to the maximum revolutions in 7th gear in this straight, so I can´t hit my highest note here. This also happened with Button´s McLaren and its F-duct, so it looks like a general setting for engine care or something.


jueves, 27 de mayo de 2010

Fernando Alonso Malaysia 2010 lap on slide guitar

This video is a consequence of the bad reading of the sky by the Ferrari team. They expected it to rain less at the end of the Q1, so Alonso and Massa waited for it in their boxes, a risky decision especially being about Malaysian crazy clouds. However, this situation provided us with the unique ocassion of seeing and hearing Fernando Alonso driving in some challenging extremely wet conditions, in this challenging by itself Sepang circuit. The guitar playing reflects the very low revolutions in the slow corners (I almost reach the end of the fretboard), but also lower than usual in the quick corners. Reflects also the smooth and careful accelerations and brakings, and even the aquaplaning at the exit of the corners 2 and 14.
Other than the rain adaptions, the wide variety of corners makes this circuit a very funny one to play in guitar, with those long periods with no gear change that I enjoy very much. Now I can understand better why this is one of the favourite circuits of Formula 1 drivers.


Fernando Alonso Spain 2010 lap on slide guitar

Like the kangaroo, the koala and the wombats in the Australian GP video, for the Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix I wanted a tipical spanish item to be in the scenery, and my first thought was a "jamón". Navidul kindly provided me with the jamón that is in the video. Fortunately (or unfortunately) we needed just a few takes to record it, so we didn´t need to deplete the jamón in one day.
Regarding the Formula 1 guitar playing, Catalunya Circuit is similar to Albert Park in the rapid accelerations and the lack of very slow corners. The third sector is a very funny to play. In general, I prefer this kind of curly sectors better than straight accelerations and heavy brakings.
Ferrari tested their F-duct in this race for the first time, and it is noticeable in the long 7th gear to give room for the F-duct powered acceleration to occur before reaching the engine revolutions limit. Therefore, my slide in the guitar playing hits the 7th gear in a slightly lower position than expected for a normal gearbox setting for this circuit.



viernes, 7 de mayo de 2010

Fernando Alonso Australia 2010 lap on slide guitar

Because of the many visits of the Bahrain video and their consequences, I couldn´t focus on the preparation and learning of this Australia video, so it took me like three weeks to finish even though the Australia circuit is much shorter than the Bahrain one. In addition, Alonso´s Australia lap was available on the Formula 1 web videos, so I used that precious document, without Fernando´s voice blocking the car sound, to better extract the music of the engine. And that took me some additional days.
The result is a more precise video than the Bahrain one. The guitar sound is synchronized with the actual sound of the engine with pinpoint accuracy, so I strongly recommend you to play my video simultaneously with the Formula 1 web video.
Also, the short straights, the few slow corners and the pot-holed track made the guitar version a restless one, specially in the challenging, very funny third sector.

sábado, 1 de mayo de 2010

Fernando Alonso Bahrain 2010 lap on slide guitar

This is my first video on Youtube, which is having a success that was difficult to imagine at a first thought. It has been published in many blogs and forums, including the New York Times blog "Wheels", and shown on three Spain TV channels (Antena 3, La Sexta and Cuatro). I don´t know if it has been also shown on TV in other countries, so I´d appreciate if you can give me the joy to tell me about this.
Thanks everyone for watching and commenting. And keep an eye on this blog and my Youtube channel because I will be adding new videos continuously.