48 games later…

48 games. 47 clubs. 6050 miles. Just a few stats from reporting another season with Sky Sports Soccer Saturday and a few matches chucked in for Sky Sports News HQ too! This is my personal experience of the 2016/2017 season…

Saturday 6th August, the sun was shining, it was a proper hot summers day. The type where you can wear shorts and not have to pretend to feel warm. It’s just a few weeks after I’ve had my appendix out and I am at Whaddon Road to cover Cheltenham Town’s return to the football league. If there was ever a good time to have your appendix out, it’s in the summer. I was off my job at Capital FM for a few weeks which was bad enough but I was just about ready to return for the first day of the football league. The smell of freshly cut grass and newly printed programmes (is it just me that loves that smell!). A goal inside 2 minutes and BAM…. the thrill of live reporting was back! Unfortunately, as can happen from time to time we had some technical issues, but the camera and tech guys worked their magic and had it back working again before full time ready to report on the second goal as the game finished 1.1. I interviewed Cheltenham manager Gary Johnson after and, funnily enough, saw him in a restaurant later that evening as we live in the same town. He looked very confused…hopefully he didn’t think I was stalking him!

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The season was underway and I was enjoying being back reporting. Early in the season Bristol City V Newcastle United was a huge match. Ashton Gate was complete after its redevelopment and the atmosphere electric. As the temperatures began to tumble throughout October and November we began to really get a sense of where teams were at. The layers were on and the management merry go round was in full swing. Neil Warnock came in as the new Cardiff City manager, and has been good fun to interview. He came up to me the first time we met enthusiastically telling me how he’d seen me on TV which was pretty weird as I’ve obviously known all about him for many years. He’s done a top job at Cardiff City, and with a few more additions I really think they will be around the play-offs if not higher in the Championship next season.

Plymouth Argyle were once again establishing themselves as promotion contenders in League Two, and I have fond memories of covering their win against Doncaster in December. It was a few days after my birthday and our producer, the lovely Carly had shown Jeff a photo of me in the onesie my husband had bought me. However, both Carly and Jeff thought the onesie was a dog. Wrong!  It was a sloth! So after taking some banter from Jeff for wearing it I made sure he knew it was a sloth…cue some terrible jokes from Jeff telling me I had been sold a pup! It’s these moments that make the job even more fun and allow people to get to know you just a little (yes I do adore sloths).

sky3The sloth onesie (It’s a sloth Jeff!)

I experienced some new grounds this season, negotiating the London traffic to cover QPR at Loftus Road. I enjoyed going to the Madesjki Stadium to cover Reading V Huddersfield, and The Amex was very impressive. I went there a couple of times as Brighton pushed for promotion from the Championship. I also had my first visit to The Memorial Ground, home of Bristol Rovers. This is one of the more unusual grounds I have visited. To get to the gantry you have to climb out through the roof, up through a loft hatch! It is quite the spectacle bringing all the camera gear up and down, you almost feel like a pirate as you rope up and down huge cases full of very valuable and fragile equipment! Obviously most of the gantry’s we go on are high and it can be tricky getting the gear up and down the ladders, so I’ve had to learn to deal with my fear of heights!

Social media provides a good platform for people to get in touch after games, but sometimes it can be something you want to avoid. In January whilst covering the Cardiff V Burton match I had a small stumble, saying Burton had scored three in three in three before saying to Jeff, that made no sense! Jeff said my mind must still be in Dubai after my holiday and I thought nothing more of it. Whilst checking my phone at half time I saw my Twitter was alight with notifications. I saw all sorts of vile abuse calling me unrepeatable things, but far from letting it upset me I shoved my phone away and made sure the rest of my reports were as accurate as I could make them. These sad little people do pop up every now and then, stating how women should not be reporting and other such nonsense. It’s paticul The worst thing is if a man makes a small mistake they don’t seem to care. I personally think it was hilarious when Merse called Leicester City player Islam Slimani – Salami- but if a woman had said that you can guarantee the sexist keyboard warriors would have had a field day! I am very lucky though, most people are genuinely supportive and complimentary which is just an added bonus when you are doing something you genuinely love.

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Picture above: Jeff calling me out for getting a tattoo on holiday…it was a henna!

On the final day of League Two Saturday 6th May, many places were still to be decided in the league in which I covered my first match 9 months ago. I was at St James Park as Exeter City played Carlisle Utd. It was a thrilling game. Exeter City already had secured a play-off spot, an incredible turn around after being bottom of the league in November. By contrast Carlisle had started the season so well and gradually fallen away. In the end after being 2.1 down Carlisle sealed a play-off sport winning 2.3 and will now play Exeter again in the play-off semi-final! At the other end of the league, it could hardly have been more dramatic. It was really sad hearing Jeff’s reaction as his beloved Hartlepool United were relegated as Newport beat Notts County to send down Hartlepool down on the final day. County were 2 minutes away from being out of the football league, but Mark O’Brien scored to put them 2.1 up. I really like Newport County, it‘s not too far from where I live and it’s where I did my first ever Soccer Saturday match so I have a soft spot for them, but it was still horrible to hear how devastated Jeff was, like so many other fans of relegated clubs this season. That’s just it; football is not just a game.

Football encapsulates everything; passion, tradition, pride, heroics and so much more. For me it can be researching who has scored the most goals, or how long it has been since they beat this team they are playing. It can be stats flying around in your head, turning to camera to speak to Jeff or Jules and saying exactly what just happened in the game without a replay, and composure as madness breaks out around you in the stands and terraces. But underneath all that, it’s the irreplaceable feeling at 3 o’clock when the referee blows their whistle because at the end of the day I too am a football fan, who just happens to be fortunate enough to report on it.

Now is the time to cast an eye towards the summer, and I am very excited to be supporting Jeff on his march from Exeter, St James Park to Newcastle, St James’ Park. He is walking 15 marathons in as many days… it’s mad! I am joining him to walk from Swindon to Forest Green for Prostate Cancer UK on Sunday June 4th. You can sponsor us here, anything you can give is much appreciated…

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/MichelleandAdam7

I am apprehensive enough about walking one marathon so I cannot imagine how Jeff might be feeling. I know he would really appreciate your support.

You can keep up with how the walk goes and what I am up to over summer on my Twitter @michelleowen7

Thanks for reading, this is just a glimpse into my personal experience of this season. I love being just a tiny part of an amazing show… roll on next season!

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Soccer Saturday, Season 2!

Another season of the Football League has flown by…here are a few highlights of my experience with Soccer Saturday.

This season I started doing my first “in-vision” reports- basically my actual mug on your telly. I did my first on October 10th, Yeovil V Dagenham and Redbridge. I remember it so clearly, naturally I was nervous…but I loved it! Before kick off, I followed an elderly lady up the steps of the stand, she was adorned in Yeovil’s green colours and looked as if she had been a fan for life. It was an important reminder to remember people watch Soccer Saturday to check in on their team, see how their accumulators coming along and to keep tabs across the leagues. With this in mind, I tried to give the best description I could without getting too caught up with being in-vision for the first time!

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I received some lovely tweets and feedback, and enjoyed reading them all when I got home that evening. I enjoyed it immensely, and was lucky to be asked to do it a fair bit more through the season!

This season I have been to clubs familiar to me from Cardiff City down to Plymouth Argyle, and also visited places new like Crawley Town and Portsmouth. All the clubs without exception have been so welcoming. When I first started it was hard walking into a press room before the game not knowing anyone, so it has been great to get to know various people better this year, whether it is fellow reporters or stewards for a catch up.

It is still amazing to have Jeff or Jules throw to me at a game, I love being on my toes and describing the afternoon’s action. When you walk out into the stadium, there is nothing like the smell of the damp grass and the buzz beginning to form around a ground an hour before kick off on a Saturday afternoon.

There are a few matches that spring to mind as being entertaining, Bristol City thrashing Bolton Wanderers 6.0 was quite surprising. I have to admit Bolton’s performance that afternoon was one of the worst I have witnessed in the Championship. The shock defeat for Plymouth Argyle to Dagenham and Redbridge which ended 3.2 was also a great game to cover. Plymouth Argyle had so many shots and chances, but that was the day automatic promotion began to look extremely unlikely for them.

One of the things I find hardest on a Saturday afternoon is the cold! You can be standing on the same spot for 2 hours, when it’s literally freezing. I invested in some thermal leggings and tops this season which went someway to relieving the cold! Next season I may stop caring about how I look and add a few more layers…

It has been fab to again be a very small part of such an amazing programme. So many people work hard to make it all come together. The cameraman/woman and riggers are also freezing! Then there are people in the satellite truck making sure everything works. The guys and girls back in the Sky studios in sound make sure everything sounds good to go to air. Then there is everyone in the gallery working their magic, the producers calling what should go where and also people taking reports from the ISDN lines, when you dial in to report a goal. Then there are studio and floor managers, and camera people in there! The speedy graphics guys and girls are amazing, getting those graphics on your screen straight away! I am sure I have missed bits out but you get the idea, it is a massive operation!

Then of course there is Jeff or Jules and the boys in the studio. Making it all come together seamlessly!

My friends at Capital South Wales (where I present Mon-Fri) thought we have auto cues when out and about at grounds, or just that we read everything. We literally see the goal, tell our lovely producer Carly who has scored, get told to standby and a few seconds Jeff comes to us to describe the action. It is intense, but I love it. Roll on August!

As the season comes to an end, I have a big challenge of my own which I have been training for over the last few months. On Tuesday, I begin climbing 5 mountains, in 5 days across 5 countries in Europe.I am going for Capital South Wales (where I present drive 4-7pm Mon-Fri), to raise money for a cause close to me, Cancer Research Wales. If you could donate anything, it would mean the world:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/capital5peaks

Thank you, and see you next season! In the meantime catch what I am up to on those mountains on my Twitter @michelleowen7

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Farewell Stevie G

It is a strange feeling to see the footballers you grew up watching start to drift away, either to go to the MLS or retire. Today the talismanic figure of Steven Gerrard graces the Anfield turf as a player one last time.

You may be sick of the outpouring of affection for Gerrard, but I would argue it is more than deserved. The one comeback people who love to hate is “but he didn’t win the Premier League.” He knows that himself and admitted it is his biggest regret this week, not having that title to his name. But just imagine Liverpool without Steven Gerrard…

Gerrard was made captain at the age of just 23, but before this he had proved himself as a pivotal player scoring in the 2001 UEFA Cup final. After this he has had some of the biggest moments in Liverpool’s recent history. Without Gerrard it is doubtful Liverpool would have grasped the FA Cup final in 2006 when he broke West Ham’s hearts scoring and hauling his team through with passion, and having the composure to slot home in the penalty shoot out too. His refusal to give up is always inspiring and captured in the stunning and key Olympiakos goal which ultimately led Liverpool to their Istanbul triumph…

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I suspect ‘the’ Gerrard moment will always be the Champions League final in 2005. 3.0 down to AC Milan at half time, he leapt high into the night heading the ball home for the goal that started the comeback, his arms beckoning his team mates around him to come on. After Vladimir Smicer scored the goal of his career, Gerrard sensed the vulnerability of AC Milan and surged into the box, going down and winning a penalty. The rest is history as the game went to extra time at 3.3 and then penalties. Stevie G would always have been a Liverpool great without this game, but his performance secured legendary status and that coveted European trophy.

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I read his book a few years ago, where he wrote about the temptation of leaving Merseyside for Stamford Bridge. I have read countless times on social media this week of how, if he had gone to Chelsea, he would have that Premier League medal. He would have, but in his book he eloquently explained why he hadn’t gone and it was down to his father, who had pointed out if he left who back at home would want to see his medal? Liverpool wouldn’t care for it. That sums Gerrard up, such passion for one club which I find hugely admirable in today’s money rinsed football climate. I also couldn’t have seen him playing with Frank Lampard in that Chelsea midfield, it never really clicked for England so one of them would  have been sacrificed.

The disappointing thing is I feel Gerrard had at least another season in him at Liverpool, but he acknowledge he didn’t want to be a bit part player. He has proved in the last few games he still has it, that unwillingness to roll over, to accept defeat, again captured as he headed home for The Reds against Chelsea last week. He marshaled the midfield and looked sharp, and looked gutted to be taken off.

I was surprised when Gerrard announced he was heading stateside to play for LA Galaxy, as he wrote in his book how he got very homesick away from Merseyside, but perhaps now he craves the relative anonymity he will be afforded out there compared to here. A different lifestyle awaits a true footballing great. A man who has led on the pitch by example, never giving less than 100%. He leaves with 2 FA Cups, 3 League Cups, a UEFA Cup and European Cup.

But most of all he leaves his boyhood club as a legend, which in many ways is worth more than a Premier League medal.

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A season of Soccer Saturday

My heart has rarely beaten faster than the moment Wycombe scored their opening goal of the season. My mouth went dry and my fingers turned to stone as I dialed into Soccer Saturday via my ISDN kit poised to do my first goal report from Rodney Parade, Newport. The plan had been to make a quick note of what happened- no chance my hand was like lead! Jeff threw to me live, on air, on Sky Sports. Somehow the words came out clearly as I reported a corner was turned in by Peter Murphy on his debut. That was the start of my season for Soccer Saturday and Soccer Special, my first.

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It is a real privilege to be involved, even as a small part, in the programme. I used to watch it on the sofa always keeping an eye out for my team and admiring the reporters remembering the player’s names, who had done what and how.

Over the 2014/2015 season I have covered 30 games and 31 different teams across the football league from the Championship to League Two and on one occasion non-league Fylde who played Plymouth in the FA Cup. I mainly was reporting on games across South Wales and the South West, each week learning a new team, formation and often trying to learn how to pronounce an exotic name in case they scored or did something worthy of mention! It has been a fantastic experience with a few games sticking in the memory…

In August in the first round of the League Cup I headed to Swindon to cover them taking on Brighton, a match that went to extra time and ended with Brighton scoring a couple to make it 4.2. Jules was in charge that evening and I was the only reporter left on air as we went through extra time so did a few reports just describing the action- my first of that kind and I loved it! Another game that was memorable was Exeter V Shrewsbury, the Shrews in complete control 2.0 up at half time and Exeter fought back into the dying embers of the game to win 3.2. I also remember fondly the Devon Derby, my fiancé is a huge Plymouth fan, and I like both clubs especially as they have been very welcoming to me. As it was a 1pm kick off it meant no other reports were coming in so I had a bit of extra time to describe what was happening as Jeff crossed to me, Reuben Reid eventually got a hat-trick as the Green Army won 3.1.

As much as I love reporting, at times it was a bit tough. I don’t know if I have ever been as cold as watching Newport play Plymouth on Boxing day in the pouring rain! From November through to March leggings were required under jeans and thermal socks just to maintain feeling in my feet! All the clubs I have visited have been welcoming. I have built up a rapport and relationship with regulars in the press boxes too which has made the time before games fly by.

A windswept day at Newport!
A windswept day at Newport!

A typical match day involves arriving at the ground about 1.30pm for a 3pm kick off. It is important to make sure the kit works, sometimes the ISDN kit will be malfunctioning or the line won’t work so I always allow plenty of time. Some grounds give you a food ticket or provide food, otherwise I will take a packed lunch and sit and read the programme for half an hour before the teams are announced. I then piece together who is playing where, what formation and if there are any interesting angles. Kick off soon arrives and you hope for lots of goals!

The hardest part is remembering who did what, so who fouled who for a penalty, or who took the corner? Which defender did a poor back pass? Who was it that sent a 40 yard ball from the half way line? You literally cannot take your eyes off the game and watch football in a whole new way.

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It has been a thrilling season in the football league, from the promotion race in the Championship, to the fight for play-off places in League’s One and Two going right down to the wire. I am happy to have been a small part of it, and brought a piece of the action to someone’s front room on a Saturday afternoon.

If you would like to listen to any of my reports they are online here: www.soundcloud.com/michelleowen

 

 

The day F1 showed us emotion

I am just another F1 fan, these are just my thoughts on the climax to an enthralling season.

So often F1 seems to be a circus in which the drivers are the centre. Through this season Championship contenders Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have showed control and little emotion. Both wearing big smiles in times of victory and quietness when things haven’t gone their way. Yesterday we saw their human sides thanks to some brilliant coverage.

I am a huge Lewis fan, we had the privilege of seeing his sensational turn around at Silverstone. The desperation of Saturday followed by the comeback of Sunday! Yesterday he got the best of starts as Rosberg bogged down off the start line. Thank goodness he did, as it was after this Rosberg started to suffer faults on his car. The desperation showed in his voice as he demanded to know what more he could do over the team radio, and even the hardest of Hamilton fans had to feel slightly as his dream slipped away through no fault of his own. I feel Hamilton would have won the race but it would have been nice to see a final battle to the end.

The moment that really got me was Rosberg stating he would like to finish the race. The team gave him a way out but he remained defiant to the end. In that act he gained a huge amount of respect from many people, the damage done at Spa seemed a long time ago as limped to the finish line and Lewis Hamilton lapped him. Unthinkable.

Meanwhile his friend turned rival crossed the line to take the 2014 World Championship. As he got out of the car an out pouring of emotion followed, embraces from family and his girlfriend, all the time a camera following his every move. Before the podium he turned away and wiped his tears, it was wonderful to see his emotional side. Always calm and collected, sometimes a little moody- everyone could see what this meant to him. And then a truly touching moment… Nico Rosberg showing absolute class coming to the pre-podium room to congratulate the man who had taken his dream away. A warm embrace and kind words exchanged, the bitterness and mind games of the last few months seemed to disappear in that moment. Rosberg gained so much respect through these actions, especially from people like me who had questioned some of his actions through the season. Below is a picture that speaks a thousand words.

There is no doubt the rivalry will recommence in March, Lewis has said this morning he knows Nico will come out hungrier and more determined and he must once again up his game. Already talking about the next season, a true champion.

Lewis is the Champion F1 needs, in a sport with controversy at every turn he is a man from a humble background. He can divide opinion with his jewelry and tattoos, and sometimes his mood after disappointing races but this weekend we saw how much it meant to him.

A word too for Jenson Button. Always comes across as such a nice chap, who has driven brilliantly in a mediocre car with consistent point scoring throughout 2014. I sincerely hope he continues in the sport next year, and if he does not it seems wrong of Mclaren to rob him of a proper farewell.

Above all of this though, the most important thing is Jules Bianchi. Not forgotten in amongst all the drama, Forza Jules.

The Magic of the FA Cup

It’s that time of the year again, where the FA cup is bought to our attention. There have been preliminary rounds in which non-league sides have battled it out for a chance to compete in the first official round which happens this weekend.

I am looking forward to covering my first FA Cup match for Sky Sports Gillette Soccer Saturday, as Plymouth Argyle play AFC Fylde at Home Park. Fylde have been flying this season in the Conference North where they currently sit in second position. This has been coupled with a fantastic FA Cup run and even though tomorrow is the first official round, they have already played in the competition five times including one replay.

Plymouth are also having a good season so far. They are sixth in the League Two table and pretty much have a fully fit squad to choose from. They will be full of confidence hoping to extend their seven game unbeaten run.

But this is the FA Cup, the home of upsets. I remember fondly Shrewsbury Town beating Everton 2.1 in 2003, I played for the Girls  then and there was a huge buzz around after such a shock result, particularly as Shrewsbury were really struggling that season.

There are many games that have gone down in FA Cup folklore as producing moments of magic and also hope for lower league clubs. No one will forget Wigan beating favourites Manchester City to win the competition in 2013. Hopefully this year we will see another fairytale again!

Bale and the boys ready to make history

I still find it strange having these Euro 2016 qualifiers on different days than before, England are playing tonight and Wales tomorrow. England are expected to thrash minnows San Marino, with all the talk focused on captain Wayne Rooney targeting Jimmy Greaves goal scoring record. It is a similar story in the Wales camp too, as Gareth Bale closes in on Ian Rush’s record a feeling rippling around that Wales have a decent chance of reaching a major tournament.

Bale has said this week that football may finally eclipse rugby in his homeland if Wales qualify for a major tournament for the first time since 1958. On Monday he was named Welsh Footballer of the year for a record fourth time, he continues to go from strength to strength flourishing at Real Madrid. Bale has even been quoted as saying this week that qualifying with Wales for the Euros would be up there with winning the Champions League, be in no doubt as to what it means for him. He has netted 14 times for his country, and is the youngest player to ever make his senior debut at the age of 16. He is half way to Ian Rush’s tally of 28 goals, and judging by his form against Andorra last month where he bagged a brace he shows not signs of stopping. All of this from a man who started as a left back…

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Bale scores against Andorra

Comparisons to Welsh legends such as Rush and Ryan Giggs would lie heavy on some players shoulders, but Bale is the most expensive footballer in the world, he has proved he can handle the pressure. He is the talismanic figure Wales need to qualify for Euro 2016. Unfortunately Aaron Ramsey is out for these next two games with a hamstring injury, but he is another you would hope would contribute in their quest for success. They can call upon the talents of Ashley Williams who is a rock for Swansea City and so often for Wales too, and also Joe Allen, however he is also injured for these two matches. There some more unfamiliar names in that squad, but you just feel with the likes of Bale and Ramsey, providing they can stay fit for the majority of qualifiers, then we could finally see Wales stepping out at a major tournament for the first time in what will be 58 years. Being half Welsh, I certainly hope so.

Ramsey in action for Wales
Ramsey in action for Wales

Wales play Bosnia-Hercegovina on Friday evening, and Cyprus on Monday evening. Both games are at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Aston Villa- how long can they roar?

Aston Villa fans everywhere will be somewhat surprised at the start they have been made to this new season, I should know, I am one. It is our best opening to a season for 16 years. Villa go into the game on Saturday against Arsenal five places above them in second. So is this the real deal or are Villa to fall slowly down the table?

Delph playing for England
Delph playing for England

Villa are currently missing two of their biggest players. Captain Ron Vlaar didn’t feature last week due to injury, and super striker Christian Benteke is expected to return at the end of the month. You would hope as a fan these two returns would bolster and boost the squad and only make us push on further, however I am feeling cautious. Frailties were exposed in the league cup at the hands of Leyton Orient who inflicted a 1.0 defeat on an inexperienced team. Saying that, Darren Bent was playing, but couldn’t find a decent finish on the night.

Paul Lambert has been rewarded for the good start to the season with a one year extension on his contract taking him to June 2018. I think having Roy Keane by his side has really helped. He may have instilled some more discipline in the younger players at Villa Park. The likes of Ashley Westwood and Fabian Delph need to push on, and the latter especially has earning himself an England call up. We have plenty of young talented players who have only slowly pushed on in the last couple of seasons, but hopefully with Keane on board they can kick on and establish themselves.

The squad isn’t the biggest in the Premier League, it is hard to compete with the likes of Chelsea who can start Didier Drogba and call upon Diego Costa and Loic Remy from the bench, so we have to make the most of what we’ve got. Gabriel Agbonlahor has made a good start to the season but he will want to score more than he has done in recent years. Benteke had a mediocore 2013/14 season compared to his previous, and all Villa fans will be wishing that he recaptures that form.

Personally I would be delighted with a top 8 finish, perhaps we could be the Southampton of this season, but keep some of our players! The signing of Tom Cleverly has potential to be a great one, Roy Keane knows him from his Manchester United days and this could be exactly the club he fits in at. Ashley Young flew at Villa, at Manchester United, not so much. This could be the same for Cleverly.

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We will go into the weekend full of optimism, more confidence than we would have had 6 weeks ago, facing Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City in consecutive fixtures.

F1- Meet Max!

Meet Max Verstappen, not even of age to drive in the UK legally yet, but he is becoming F1’s youngest ever driver taking his seat at Torro Rosso next season replacing Jean Eric-Vergne.

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Verstappen turns 17 at the end of September and has made a name for himself in the European F3 Championship, having only graduated from karts last year. There is no doubt this is a massive asking of the young man.
What do we know about Verstappen? He is the son of former Formula 1 driver Jos, 42, who contested 106 grands prix for teams such as Benetton and Tyrrell between 1994 and 2003. He will have plenty of guidance from his Dad to keep his feet firmly on the ground and focused. He is also part of the Red Bull young driver programme which he only joined last week, there was also hot interest from Merecedes.

He made an impressive transition to F3, winning six consecutive races and has eight victories in 27 races so far this season, leaving him second to Frenchman Esteban Ocon in the overall standings. Verstappen will graduate to the biggest stage of single seater racing with less than 40 races completed. It is not unheard of though, a certain Kimi Raikkonen had only contested 23 single-seater races when he graduated to F1 in 2001. He went on to become world champion in 2007 and has won 20 races so far.

It is a huge ask for the 16 year old, Torro Rosso will have two young drivers if they keep Daniil Kyyvat who has scored points with the team at just 19 with two ninth place finishes this season. The whole point in Torro Rosso is meant to be Red Bull’s little sister and feeder team so maybe it is the right thing to do but I can’t help but feel for Jean Eric-Vergne who will be on the lookout for a new team for 2015.

I also hope F1 teams don’t forget great talents like Paul Di Resta who is a fantastic driver more than capable of doing a great job for a team. We will have to watch this space to see which new faces emerge for the 2015 season, with the impressive GP2 driver Stoffel Vandoorne highly rated by Mclaren and many others waiting in the wings.

I look forward to finding out more about Verstappen who seems a very chilled out guy, and likens himself to Hamilton in terms of braking style. However, I wonder about his physicality compared to someone like Hamilton who is 13 years his senior and fully developed with drivers in the best shape ever since the sport began. Most 16 year old lads haven’t fully bulked out so he will have much work to do to keep up. His record suggests he fast, we will see next year. I do have an enormous amount of respect for Verstappen, after all when I was 16 I was trying Jack Daniels for the first time and worrying if I had managed to get some GCSEs!

But first we must turn our attention to the current season, and its re-commencement after the summer break this weekend at Spa Francorchamps. One of old school favourites, fans will be on the edge of their seats for another weekend which will provide more twists and turns in the race for the championship.

Eau Rouge at Spa
Eau Rouge at Spa